The Projet Volterra was established in honour of the memory of the distinguished Roman lawyer Edoardo Volterra (1904-1984), whose widow left his substantial and rich collection of Roman law books to the École Française de Rome. A catalogue of the older items, with reminiscences by relatives and colleagues, has now been published by Douglas Osler as vol. 3 in the series Bibliographica Iuridica (Frankfurt-am-Main, 2006). The general aims of the Projet Volterra are to promote the study of Roman law in its full social, political and legal context.
The first phase of this project in Britain (Volterra I) ran from 1995 to 2004, based in the UCL History Department, being initially funded by the British Academy and then by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Entitled 'Law and Empire AD193-455', it focused on later Roman imperial legal pronouncements and its primary output was an on-line searchable database of all imperial pronouncements in Latin from the late second to mid-fifth centuries. Although this phase is now finished, its product is a 'living database' that continues to be up-dated and maintained courtesy of periodic funding from the British Academy, which adopted the Projet Volterra in 2005 as one of its long term research projects.
The second phase of the project, entitled 'Law and the End of Empire' (Volterra II), started in September 2005. This comprises two five-year research projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Reseach Council (2005-2010, 2011-2015), and it continues to be based at UCL History. It carries on chronologically from where Volterra I left off. Based on a thorough analysis of the surviving texts and their transmission, the aim of this phase of the project is to produce a history, with supporting database and on-line resources, of the law (Roman, Germanic or ‘barbarian’, and ecclesiastical) in all its aspects in continental Europe between the end of the Roman Empire in the west and the Carolingian period.
The team working on the project initially comprised Professor Michael Crawford and Dr Benet Salway, based in the Department of History at University College London, where they were joined by Dr Simon Corcoran in 1999. The team was augmented by Dr Magnus Ryan, Faculty of History and Peterhouse, Cambridge for the first part of Volterra II (2005-2010).
Three papers from the Colloquium held at the Senate House, University of London, in March 2004, together with a general introduction to the Projet Volterra, were published in November 2007 in the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 49 (2006) pp. 214-254.