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This is a re-issue of a book first published in 1986, which charts the origins of the labour laws of nine European countries (the Member States of the EEC in 1979) - Belgium, Britain and Ireland, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The studies assembled here were originally written by national experts to explain the foundations of their national systems from the beginning of the industrial revolution until 1945. These are not, however, simply historical essays; instead they draw upon the writings of historians, sociologists and other social scientists to explain the origins of labour law in these countries, and also the relationships between them. The book thus provides the essential underpinning to its companion, the new book, The Transformation of Labour Law in Europe (Hart: 2009, ISBN: 9781841138701), which charts the development of labour law in Europe since 1945.