Even though ‘statelessness’ is a modern phenomenon that assumes the modern state and the modern states system, human history is abound with legal issues relating to people’s political and legal status, and with exclusion of and discrimination against outsiders. Since time immemorial, the political and legal status of people is crucial to the political and civil rights they have and can exercise, to their role in public affairs, to their legal standing, to access to courts and to determine what law applies to them. This paper addresses the issue of belonging, people’s legal and political status, citizenship and the treatment of foreigners from a legal historical perspective. It elaborates on these issues in ancient Greece and Rome, outlines the situation in medieval and early modern Europe and finally, goes into the rise of state citizenship as part of the emergence of the modern nation-state.
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