The Object of Interpretation: Legislation and Competing Normative Sources of Law in Europe During the 16th to 18th Centuries
The subject-matter of interpretation consists of legal sources, and, among these sources, statutes in particular. Any investigation of the nature of interpretation is therefore predicated upon a prior presentation and analysis of the texts which are to be interpreted. The interpreter has to take account of the different structural and historical conditions that may affect various legal sources. General or specific statutes, their hierarchy, or competing spheres of validity in the shape of legal decisions and juristic analysis, set the boundaries for the task of interpretation. These factors are decisive in determining the competence of the political, judicial or academic interpreter in the course of the history of statutory law in Europe. It follows that the history of interpretation also entails the history of legal sources and statutory law making, which will be discussed in this article.