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Introduction to English Legal History$
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John Baker

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812609.001.0001

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Legal Literature

Legal Literature

(p.185) 11 Legal Literature
Introduction to English Legal History

John Baker

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the development of English legal literature. It begins with the Latin treatises called Glanvill and Bracton, which by the end of the thirteenth century had given way to more accessible practical works in French. The most important of the new writings were the reports of real cases taken in court, the year books. The evolution of law reporting is traced, and there is an assessment of the changes in the Tudor period, particularly Plowden’s innovative Commentaries. The effect of printing is also considered. Access to case-law was at first primarily via abridgments rather than treatises, but Littleton’s student textbook on Tenures marked a new departure in the fifteenth century. Treatises of comparable importance to Littleton were few, but notable among legal authors were St German, Coke (also a major law reporter), Hale, and Blackstone.

Keywords:   Glanvill, Bracton, books of entries, law reports, year books, abridgments, Littleton, Coke, Hale, Blackstone

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