En français : 1) CV HAL, 2) Page institutionnelle. Contact: nga.bellis[at]gmail.com


Nga Bellis-Phan is a Legal Historian specialised in French Early modern Private law and Social history.

Areas of interests

History of private law – contract, securities for debts
Social & economic history – pawnbroking, poverty, credit & debts
Early modern legal manuscripts – notarial, judicial and criminal archives
Digital humanities – characters recognisation for manuscripts, digital edition


After graduating in Private Law from University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas Law School with a full scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she received several research fundings to pursue as a PhD candidate at the Institute of Legal History – University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas. The Max Planck Institute for European Legal History and Legal Theory (Frankfurt, Germany) welcomed her as a visiting researcher in Spring 2017. Since 2016, Nga has been consistently presenting her research papers in international conferences or seminars organised at different European and North American universities.

She has been working since 2014 as a full-time teaching assistant in Legal History at University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (2014-2016), University Paris-Nanterre (2017-2019) and University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (2021-2022) where she teaches French Legal History, Roman Law, Ancient Greece and Rome’s public institutions to undergraduate students in Law & Political Sciences.

Besides her personal research projects, Nga has 7 years of experience in the field of Digital Humanities and is committed the promotion of open-access in social sciences research. From 2015 to 2019, she was working with MarineLives, a London-based historical research project on 17th century manuscripts of the English High Court of Admiralty, using Digital Humanities tools. In 2018, she became a trustee of Chronoscopic Education, a British nonprofit organisation which promotes Digital Humanities research projects. Since January 2022, Nga joined the editorial board of the European open-access scientific Journal for Digital Legal History, a new European peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal. This year, she will also be closely working with the French national repository for scientific research HAL to promote open-access.


Her doctoral project, The theoretical and practical Legal History of Pawnbroking, from the 16th century to the 1804 French Civil Code, received full funding from the University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France), the University Paris-Nanterre (France) and a research scholarship from the Max Planck Institute in Legal History and Legal Theory (Frankfurt, Germany). Her thesis research looks into credit networks and material culture in different social classes of Early Modern France, but also more broadly on the progressive implementation of State regulations to ensure legal security for both creditors and debtors and to protect the most precarious against fatalities of usury.

Her last publications explore the different aspects of securities for debts in early modern France, with an article on legal security at times of troubles (Nomos, 2019), and a chapter on Parisian landlords and tenants’ relationship regarding rent arrears (Palgrave, 2020) [download].

Her ongoing research goes deeper into these topics, with a forthcoming article on the influence of social reputation on the legal evidence of verbal obligations (due date by May 2022 for a French edited volume), and another one on criminal proceedings around the murder of a Parisian female pawnbroker (to be submitted in 2022 to a French/British peer-reviewed journal).


2022 (expected) Ph.D. in Legal History, in progress, University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France), Advisor: Pr Laurent Pfister

2013   LL.M./Master’s Degree in Legal History, University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France)
2012   LL.M./Master’s Degree in Private Law, University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France)
2011    LL.B./Bachelor’s Degree in Private Law, University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France)
2011   Diploma of the Collège de droitInternational Law (selective training), University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas (France)

2008  French Baccalaureate in Economics, Lycée français Alexandre Yersin (Hanoi, Vietnam)


[3] N. Bellis-Phan, ‘A Legal Remedy Against Rent Arrears: Landlords’ Privilege on Furniture in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century France’, in Early Modern Debts. 1550-1700, L. Kolb and G. Oppitz-Trotman (ed), Cham, Palgrave Macmillan (Springer), 2020, chapter 5, p. 103-127.
DOI : 10.1007/978-3-030-59769-6_5 ; HAL-SHS : halshs-03092734 ; DOWNLOAD the author’s version: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03092734/document

[2] N. Bellis-Phan, ‘Garantir les dettes en temps de troubles. Le problème de la sécurité juridique (XVIe-XVIIe siècle)’, in H. Carl, R. Babel, Ch. Kampmann (ed.), in Sicherheitsprobleme im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert. Bedrohungen, Konzepte, Ambivalenzen, Baden-Baden, Nomos, 2019, p. 545-564.
DOI : 10.5771/9783845296142-545 ; HAL-SHS : halshs-03102723 ; [SUDOC]

[1] H. N. Phan-Bellis, Le gage au XVIe siècle, Master’s thesis, University Panthéon-Assas, Paris, 2013, Cujas Law Library [24.421 2013-57].

– Contribution to the lessons of Pr. Denizot and Pr. Bahurel: A. Denizot, La liberté d’entreprendre & Ch. Bahurel, Le Conseil constitutionnel et le droit privé, in Recueil de leçons de 24 heures : Agrégation de droit privé et de sciences criminelles 2015, C. Saint-Alary-Houin (dir.), Paris, LGDJ, 2015.

Blog Posts


    Ph.D thesis in Legal History

    • Thesis project: The theoretical and practical Legal History of Pawnbroking, from the 16th century to the 1804 French Civil Code. Advisor: Pr Laurent Pfister (University Paris 2)

    This research explores the historical evolution in the practice and the legal frame of pawns, a type of securities for debt based on movable assets.

    The primary sources involved are essentially 1) legal theory and commentaries, 2) royal legislation and specific regulations (customary or commercial law), 3) judiciary archives (judicial decisions, police records, prisoners’ files), 4) archives of practical acts (notarial archives, private contracts, papers and correspondence of the court or wealthy circles).

    Research Collaboration

    • Since 2015, Researcher & Palaeographer for The MarineLives Project, Digital Humanities historical research project on 17th century juridical manuscripts of the High Court of Admiralty in London (1650-1669). [Website] & [HC Group on open-source historical mapping].

    • Since 2018, Trustee for Chronoscopic Education, a charitable incorporated organisation serving as the legal, funding and technology home for the Digital humanities historical research projects MarineLives, Maphackathon, Signs of Literacy and other related projects. [Website]

    Conference Organisation

    • Academic Assistant for the Congress The Experience of Mobility Across Time (II) – In-between Situations, coorganised by Pr Emmanuelle Chevreau and Pr Claudia Moatti, Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas, France, 20-22 June 2019. [Programme]

    • Co-organizer for Les listes, 4th annual conference of the French Association of Young Researchers in History on primary sources studies. Strasbourg, France, 17 May 2018. [Call for papers] & [Programme].

    • Co-organizer for Les sources exogènes, 3rd annual conference of the French Association of Young Researchers in History on primary sources studies. Lille, France, 19 May 2017. [Call for papers] & [Programme].

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    International Conferences

    7. How witness statements shape criminal investigation? The murder case of Marie Dufour, a pawnbroker in 18th century Paris, Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of French History (SSFH), University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 10-13 April 2022, online (Panel 6C). [Programme] [Abstract]

    Past events

    6. Movable goods as gateway to the credit market. Civil and criminal aspects of pawns in 16th-17th century France, French Press special edition: Lightning Talks round 2, prior session to the Annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies (SFHS), University of North Carolina in Charlotte, Charlotte [NC], United States, 20 March 2022, online. [Programme] [Abstract]
    5. Donner et recevoir en gage sans preuve écrite : risques et périls autour de la réputation du cocontractant (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècle), Colloquium Donner et tenir sa parole. Engagements et réputations dans les sociétés françaises et européennes à l’époque moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles, colonies incluses), University Rennes 2, France, 25-26 November 2021. [Programme] [Abstract]
    4. French Early Modern use of pawns in Parisian notary acts. A contribution to the study of moveable securities for debt, Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of French History, University of Leeds, United Kingdom, 8-9 July 2019. [Programme] [Abstract]
    3. MarineLives corpus of 17th century legal records. An example of cross-disciplinary reuse of structured & semi-structured text corpora, Digital Humanities Benelux 2018 Conference, International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 6-8 June 2018. [Abstract] [Slides]
    2. Landlord’s privilege regarding debts resulting from rent in 16-17th century France, in comparison to legal solutions adopted in the Holy Roman Empire, Symposium Early Modern Debts. Obligation & Cancellation in European Culture, 1550-1700, Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg, Germany, 20-22 September 2017. [Programme & Slides]
    1. Garantir les dettes en temps de troubles : le problème de la sécurité juridique, Colloquium Security Problems during 16th and 17th century: threats, concepts, ambivalences, German Historical Institute Paris, France, 28–30 September 2016. [Programme]

    Seminars & Workshops

    3. De la recherche à l’exploitation des archives notariales de l’Ancien Régime, Round Table Les méthodes pratiques de la recherche en histoire du droit : le point de vue des jeunes chercheurs, organized by the Association française des jeunes historiens du droit (AFJHD), University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, France, 28-29 October 2021, online. [Programme]
    2. Les sources de l’histoire du droit vietnamien (XIe-XIXe siècle) : législation royale et littérature juridique, Seminar Chinese Legal History of Jérôme Bourgon and Frédéric Constant, Écoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, France, 9 February 2018. [Programme]
    1. Le gage du XVIe siècle au Code civil de 1804, Doctoral workshop at the Congress Journées internationales de la Société d’Histoire du Droit, Law Faculty – University of Fribourg, Switzerland, 2-5 June 2016. [Programme]


    History & Law
    AJCH – Association des Jeunes Chercheurs en Histoire (French Association of Young Researchers in History, France)
    AFHE – Association Française d’Histoire Economique (French Association of Economic History, France)
    ASLH – American Society for Legal History (United States)
    AYLH – Association of Young Legal Historians (Europe)
    Freunde des Frankfurter Max-Planck-Instituts für europäische Rechtsgeschichte e.V. (Friends of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt, Germany)
    SAAF – Société des Amis des Archives de France (France)
    SHD – Société d’Histoire du droit (Europe)
    SFHU – Société française d’Histoire urbaine (France)
    SFHS – Society for French Historical Studies (United States)
    SSFH – Society for the Study of French History (United Kingdom)

    Digital Humanities
    Humanistica – Association francophone des humanités numériques (French-speaking association of digital humanities)

    Nga Bellis-Phan

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