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In the 12th century, Italian jurists rediscovered Justinian's compilation of Roman law. This started a new legal scholarship in Europe that flourished and evolved into the ius commune - a shared legal tradition that combined Roman and canon law into a common system of legal thought.
During the 17th and 18th century, the Dutch jurists created ways to incorporate the local customary law within a classical Roman framework. The Dutch system of law was exported to its colonies, where it was dominated by the Roman-Dutch tradition of the time.
In 1809, the early modern system in the Netherland was replaced by laws based on the French civil code.
However, the Roman-Dutch law remained part of the legal systems of many other countries as they moved from Dutch to British colonial rule and then to independence. Most notably are countries like South Africa and Sri Lanka, but also Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
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