A new awareness of the relevance of legal history is rising among economists and sociologists. Two recent books (Orts and Cella) about corporate personality recall the long history of legal abstractions that made possible the creation of corporate subjectivity. During the first years of the 20th century, the historical writings of Otto von Gierke had a very large resonance in England (Maitland) and France (Saleilles). Both scholars used the research of Gierke to support a real entity theory, as opposed to the state grant theory. According to the real entity theory, the legal capacity of a corporation does not depend on its acknowledgment by the state, but rather flows from its “natural” existence. Despite Gierke’s efforts to prove the Germanic origins of the autonomous corporations, the European debate quickly revealed that the legal theories of social organizations, with their internal rules and their subjective rights, were largely dependent on Canon law.
conte, e. (2016). Corporation, Stiftung, Fondation: Un protagonista dell'economia attuale fra storia e dottrina. In O.C. D. von Mayenburg (a cura di), Der Einfluss der Kanonistik auf die europäische Rechtskultur. (pp. 61-72). Köln : Böhlau Verlag.