Constitutional Engineering

  • Giovanni Sartori
Part of the International Economic Association Series book series (IEA)


It serves no useful purpose, in my opinion, to refer ‘constitutionalism’ all the way back to the Greeks and the Romans. The Greek term for what we call constitution was politeía (which is also translated ‘republic’), and the Latin constitutio had nothing to do with what we call constitution (Sartori, 1962). As we reach the middle of the seventeenth century, during Cromwell’s protectorate the notion of constitution had yet to appear. The time of Cromwell was the time in which the English especially engaged in what we conceive as constitution-drafting. Yet, the documents of the time were called covenants, instruments, agreements, and fundamental law — never ‘constitution’. The term constitution and with it the notion of ‘constitutionalism’ is, then, an eighteenth century coinage, and gained general acceptance in our meaning of the concept in the wake of the American constitution-making experience.


Constitutional Change Policy Content Greek Term Major Institutional Change Transitional Item 
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Copyright information

© Giovanni Sartori 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Sartori
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityUSA

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