Legal history is closely linked to the development of civilizations and is set in the wider context of social history. Among certain jurists and historians of legal process, it is often seen as the recording of the evolution of regulations and the technical justification of how these laws have evolved with the view of better comprehending the beginnings of various legal principles; some consider it a branch of intellectual history. Twentieth century historians have viewed legal history in a more contextualized manner more in line with the thinking of social historians. They have looked at legal institutions as intricate systems of rules, players and symbols and have seen these elements interact with society to change, conform, resist or promote certain aspects of civil society. Such legal historians have tended to analyze circumstance histories from the parameters of social science inquiry, using statistical methods, studying class distinctions among litigants, petitioners and other players in various legal processes.
The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of Catholic canon law, the oldest continually functioning legal system in the West. Canon law originates later than Roman law but predates the evolution of recent European civil law practices. The cultural exchange between secular (Roman/Barbarian) and ecclesiastical (canon) law produced the jus commune and greatly influenced both civil and common law.
Ancient Of india and China represent distinct traditions of law, together historically independent schools of legal theory and practice. The Arthashastra, dating from the 400 BC, and the Manusmriti from a hundred BCE were influential treatises in India, texts that were considered authoritative legal assistance. Manu’s main philosophy was tolerance and pluralism, and was cited across South East Asia. But this Hindu tradition, along with Islamic law, was supplanted by the common legislation when India became part of the British Empire.