Legists(redirected from legist)
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(1) Medieval jurists who helped disseminate Roman law in Western Europe. As advocates of centralized royal power, they called for the restriction of the jurisdiction of the manorial and ecclesiastic courts, as well as for municipal self-government. During the reception of Roman law in France, the legists included some of its norms in collections of provincial legal customs, which sometimes resulted in radical changes in the old law in the spirit of the Roman tradition. For example, under the influence of the legists, the old French rule of the division of an inheritance among sons was replaced by the principle of inheritance by all the children of the legator irrespective of sex and the equal distribution of the legacy among them. One of the most famous legists, the French jurist Beaumanoir, compiled a collection of French common law entitled The Customs of Beauvaisis.
(2) Ancient Chinese thinkers from the fifth to the third century B.C. The best-known legist was the scholar and political figure Shang Yang (390–338 B.C.).