Where would be the best place on Stack Exchange to ask a specific question about the law of a political entity that no longer exists, such as the Confederate States of America (CSA), East Germany (DDR), the Inca Empire, or Sparta?

These questions would seem to be on-topic on at least two sites:

  • Law.SE - This site, however, seems to be populated mostly with experts on current or at least modern legal systems, not necessarily people who know much about the minimum requirements for valid service-of-process in the Danelaw or whether civil divorce was possible in the Iroquois Confederacy.

  • History.SE - This site markets itself as a great one for asking answerable, non-trivial questions about history, but the main focus does not seem to be law. There is a law tag on the site, but as of this point it only has 226 questions, less than 2.5% of the total non-deleted questions on the site, leading me to believe that law is not the specialty or even primary interest of most of the site's regulars.

Are both of these sites more or less equivalent for asking these sorts of questions, or is there a greater likelihood of getting a good answer on one of them?

2 Answers 2


The key here is former state or political body. That means the question—and, indeed, the broader topic—is of historical interest only.

Law experts are unlikely to be familiar with the nuances of laws in historical polities, and such questions are unlikely to be of interest to the community there.

They should, however, be quite well received by historians, who hang out on History.SE. It's probably true that the [law] tag is not very well populated, but that's a symptom of the fact that there aren't really all that many historians who specialize in the study of the law. When historians study laws, it's mostly incidental, as a means to understanding some broader social, cultural, or political phenomenon that is of more general interest. As such, you might not get a good answer to your legal question right away on History.SE, but at least you'll be asking in the right place.

The only edge case to consider is if you're asking about how laws in a historical polity influenced laws today. That could possibly be on-topic for Law.SE, since the major focus of the question is a current law in a modern-day polity. Legal scholars do sometimes have knowledge of the historical background of a current law, for both practical and academic reasons. For questions like this, which are suitable for either site, it is the asker's choice.


Such questions would be on-topic for Law.se. At least some of the regular posters there, including myself, have some interest in the history of law. Most are not, however, historians of law. Answers to questions of the level of detail of

requirements for valid service-of-process in the Danelaw or whether civil divorce was possible in the Iroquois Confederacy

may not be readily forthcoming, although I have recently posted there on the laws of saga-period Iceland. Still questions on historical law might get valid answers there -- some have in the past, although mostly about the past law of current nations, such as one about divorce law in 1940 Ireland.

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