Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > Legal Literature > Bracton’s Treatise Bearing the Same Title
  New Type of Legal Writings: Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus R. Angliae, called by the Name of Ranulf de Glanvil Fleta and Britton  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

XIII. Legal Literature.

§ 7. Bracton’s Treatise Bearing the Same Title.


The form and the language of Glanvil show very clearly the influence of the new school of Roman law, with which the name of Irnerius of Bologna is identified; and that influence is even more evident throughout the next classical work on English law, namely, Bracton’s treatise De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (c. 1256). Bracton wrote, it will be observed, at a date which marks, approximately, the very zenith of the great legal renascence of the thirteenth century. The study of Roman civil law—the common law of the universal empire—and the study of Roman canon law—the jus commune of the catholic church—then shared with the study of theology the intellectual empire of Europe. Bracton, although apparently he never sat at the feet of the famous doctors of Bologna, was familiar with Corpus Juris and with the works of Azo, as well as with the Decretum of Gratian and the Decretals of Gregory IX. His knowledge of these sources of civil and canon law determined, to a large extent, the mould and the character of his treatise. It gave him general conceptions; it revealed to him fundamental principles; it enabled him to take a large outlook upon the legal world which he set himself to portray, and to construct an intelligible system on the basis of native customary law. 9    7

Note 9. How far the substance, as well as the form, of Bracton’s treatise was directly derived from Roman sources is a disputed point. Sir William Jones states an extreme view when he says, “I am perfectly aware that he copied Justinian almost word for word.” Sir Henry Maine is more moderate in claiming (Ancient Law, p. 82) that only a third of the contents were directly borrowed from Corpus Juris. The view now commonly held, however, is that Bracton’s direct borrowings were quite inconsiderable. See Carl Güterbock, Henricus de Bracton und sein Verhältniss zum römischen Rechte, and Maitland, Bracton and Azo. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  New Type of Legal Writings: Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus R. Angliae, called by the Name of Ranulf de Glanvil Fleta and Britton  
 
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