Baltazar Bogišić was born in 1834 in Cavtat. He won his PhD in philosophy in Giessen in 1862 and in 1864 he won a PhD from law and political science in Vienna. Between 1863 and 1868 he worked as a librarian at the Slavic section of the Vienna Court Library. From 1870 to 1872 he taught Slavic law at the Imperial Novorossiysk University in Odessa. He studied the Slavs’ original customs and gave an overview of the Southern Slavs’ legal history in his bibliographic project Written Laws in the Slavic South in 1872. After 1874 Bogišić mostly lived in Paris. At the invitation of the Montenegrin duke Nikola, he wrote the General Property Code for the Montenegro principality, which took effect on July 1, 1888. The Code was translated to several foreign languages and became a subject of many debates. Between 1893 and 1899, Bogišić served as Montenegro’s Minister of Justice. In 1908 he fell ill and left Paris to go back to Cavtat but died on the way, in Rijeka. He was a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Arts and Sciences (JAZU) since its establishment in 1867. He was also a member of the Serb Learned Society, Societe de legislation comparee, Institut international de sociologie and others.
Bogišić’s interests extended to family law and law governing cooperatives, legal terminology, legal history of Dubrovnik etc. He collected and published folk songs, including the first issue of the old Croatian Bugarštice (rhymed epic poems) with a thorough introduction to the subject. He was one of the most significant promoters of legal science in these parts and influenced the research of Slavic history and law in Europe. He was a forerunner of the ethnological jurisprudence and of the modern sociology of law. His rich correspondence with notable contemporaries, private library and a collection of art objects is kept in Cavtat. He died on April 24, 1908 in Rijeka.