English Medieval Legal Documents ›
7.1 - Treatises

Rechtitudines Singularum Personarum . Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1903-1916.
Abstract: Compiled between 1000-1060. An example of an early Latin law book which expounds the still operative Anglo-Saxon law, it concerns the status of persons and discusses services to be rendered to the lord by the various classes of persons on a manor. It is edited in Liebermann, Gesetze; Schmid, Gesetze; Thorpe, Ancient Laws, and a translation may be found in English Historical Documents ii, 813-816.

Basile, Mary E., ed. and trans. Lex Mercatoria and Legal Pluralism: a Late Thirteenth-Century Treatise and Its Afterlife. Cambridge, Mass.: Ames Foundation, 1998.
Abstract: Text of Lex Mercatoria in Latin with English translation.

Bracton, Henry de, and George E. Woodbine, ed. Bracton De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliae. 4 Vols. Yale Historical Publications. Manuscripts and Edited Texts, 3. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915-1942.
Abstract: Constitutes a restoration of the original text, the objective being "to present, as nearly as possible, the text of De Legibus, as it left Bracton's hands." Vol. 1, details the pedigree of the manuscripts on which the text is based. Vols. 2 - 4 contain the Latin text with variant readings and commentary.

Bracton, Henry de, and Samuel E. Thorne, trans. Bracton De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliae. Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England. 4 Vols. Cambridge , Mass. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968-1977.
Notes: Also available online at http://hlsl5.law.harvard.edu/bracton/ (accessed June 5, 2007)
Abstract: Bracton's work, compiled probably between 1250 and 1258, is the first comprehensive exposition of English law and by far the most important lawbook of medieval England. It reveals the law and procedure of the royal courts at the middle of the thirteenth century. This edition, a translation of Woodbine's edition, published 1915-1942, contains the Latin text and English translation on opposite pages. A searchable version created by the Ames Foundation based on George Woodbine's edition of the original and Samuel Thorne's translation is available at

Bracton, Henry de, and Travers Twiss, ed. Henrici De Bracton De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliae Libri Quinque in Varios Tractatus Distinctii. 6 Vols. Rerum britannicarum medii aevi scriptores (Rolls Series), 70. London: Longman, 1878-1883.
Notes: Also available online in HeinOnline (subscription database)
Abstract: This edition of Bracton is published as part of the Rolls Series. For a discussion of the various editions, see Winfield, Percy H. The Chief Sources of English Legal History, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925 at pp.261-262

Breton, John le, and Henry de Bracton. Britton; Cum Priuilegio Regali. London: Robert Redman, 1533.
Notes: Also available online in EEBO; 1901 English translation available in MOML (subscription databases)
Abstract: Attributed to John Breton or Britton (d.1275), but largely based on De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae, by Henry de Bracton (d.1268)

Britton, John, and Robert Kelham , ed.and trans. Containing the Ancient Pleas of the Crown, Translated; and Illustrated With References, Notes, and Ancient Records. London: J.Worrall, 1762.
Abstract: An English translation of Britton through Chapter 25. The original, a digest of English law after the manner of the Institutes of Justinian, was probably written soon after 1290. It is the oldest English law book in the French language. An 1865 two volume edition, edited and translated by F.M. Nichols, has references to the parallel passages of Bracton, the Fleta and the Statutes.

Burn, Richard, and Robert Phillimore. The Ecclesiastical Law. 4 Vols. 9th ed. London: S. Sweet, V. & R. Stevens
Notes: Various editions also available online in MOML (subscription database)
De Zulueta, Francis, and Peter Stein, ed. and trans. The Teaching of Roman Law in England Around 1200. Selden Society. Supplementary Series, 8. London : Selden Society, 1990.
Abstract: Latin and English on facing pages. Text of a late twelfth century course of lectures on Justinian's Institutes, formerly associated with Vacarius of Oxford but apparently given by one of his pupils in the late 1190's.

Downer, L. J., ed and trans. Leges Henrici Primi. Oxford: Clarenden Press, 1996.
Notes: Also available online in Netlibrary (subscription database)
Abstract: Latin text with translation and commentary. Probably written between AD 1100 and 1118, it constitutes the earliest legal textbook of medieval Europe. The author aimed to give an account of Anglo-Saxon law as amended by William I and Henry I, especially with respect to the role of the sheriffs. It was probably written as a supplement to the digest of Old English Laws known as Quadripartitus. Downer's extensive introduction to this edition analyzes the manuscript sources of the Leges and the earlier editions and interpretations including that of Felix Liebermann, who includes it in his Gesetze. Also in Stubbs, Select Charters, 105.

Dugdale, William. Origines Juridiciales, or, Historical Memorials of the English Laws, Courts of Justice, Forms of Tryal, Punishment in Cases Criminal, Law-Writers, Law-Books, Grants and Settlements of Estates, Degree of Serjeant, Innes of Court and Chancery Also a Chronologie of the Lord Chancelors and Keepers of the Great Seal, Lord Treasurers, Justices Itinerant, Justices of the Kings Bench and Common Pleas, Barons of Exchequer, Masters of the Rolls, Kings Attorneys and Sollicitors, and Serjeants at Law . 3rd ed. London: Christopher Wilkinson, 1680.
Notes: Also available online in MOML and EEBO (subscription databases)
Abstract: Also known as Justices itinerant rolls.

Fitzneale, Richard, Charles G Crump, Arthur Hughes, and Charles Johnson, eds. De Necessariis Observantiis Scaccarii Dialogus; Commonly Called Dialogus De Scaccario . Oxford: Clarendon, 1902.
Notes: Also available online in MOML (subscription database)
Abstract: Text in English and Latin. Contains reproductions of the original manuscriptsof Dialogus de Scaccario, dating from 1176-79 as they were found in the Red Book of the Exchequer (King's Remembrancer, Miscellaneous Books, No.2) and the Black Book of the Exchequer (Exch. Treasury of Receipt). Includes also the text and translation of Constitutio Domus Regis, (The Establishment of the Royal Household) dated ca.1136, which describes in detail the Royal Household as it existed towards the end of the reign of Henry I. Reprinted in 1950.

Fortesque, John, and Charles Plummer, ed. The Governance of England: Otherwise Called the Difference Between an Absolute and a Limited Monarchy . Rev. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1885.
Notes: Also available online in MOML (subscription database)
Abstract: The earliest treatise on constitutional history, it was originally written between 1471 and 1476.

Fortesque, John, Francis Gregor, John Selden, and Ralph de Hengham. De Laudibus Legum Angliae. New ed. London: T. Evans, 1775.
Notes: First ed., 1616 also available online in ModernEconomy (subscription database)
Abstract: Original Latin text by John Fortesque, written about 1468, discusses the advantages of English common law in relation to the Roman law, and explains the difference between and absolute and a limited monarchy. The two appended Summes of Sir Ralph de Hengham, commonly called Hengham Magna and Hengham Parva vulgo nuncupatae, are two tracts in Latin, probably written before 1290, both deal with procedure in certain real actions. 1775 edition is translated by F. Gregor, with notes by J. Selden.

Glanville, Ranulf de, and George D. G. Hall, ed. The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Realm of England Commonly Called Glanvill. (Tractatus De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Regni Anglie, Qui Glanvilla Vocatur). Oxford Medieval Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
Abstract: English translation of the George E. Woodbine edition of Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie qui Glanvilla vocatur, the first English common law treatise completed shortly before the end of the reign of Henry II, it reveals the law and procedure of the royal courts at the end of the twelfth century. Includes many law writs. Edited with introduction, notes, and translation by G. D. G. Hall, and with a guide to further reading by M. T. Clanchy.

Glanville, Ranulf de, and George E. Woodbine, ed. Tractatus De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae. Yale Historical Publications. Manuscripts and Edited Texts, 13. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932.
Notes: 1604 edition also available online in EEBO (subscription database)
Abstract: Text in Latin. First edition, (London, 1554?) has title: Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie. A twelfth century treatise on writs and the common law traditionally attributed to Ranulf de Glanville.

Greenwood, Charles, ed. Modus Tenendi Cur Baron Cum Visu Franci Plegii; a Reprint of the First Edition A.D. 1510: Together With Translations and an Introductory Note . Manorial Society's Publications, 9. London: Manorial Society, 1915.
Notes: Also available online in MOML (subscription database)
Abstract: Text in Latin and English, with introductory note and translation in English. Originally printed in London by Wynkyn de Worde in 1510.
Other titles: Order of keeping a court leet.; Curia baronum; Method of holding a court baron with view of frank-pledge.

Hardy, Thomas D., ed. and trans. Modus Tenendi Parliamentum; an Ancient Treatise on the Mode of Holding the Parliament in England . London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1846.
Abstract: A treatise on the rules and practice of parliament, attributed by some to the end of the thirteenth century, by others to the latter part of the fourteenth century. Text in Latin with English translation. Also included in Stubbs, Select Charters, 512.

Illingworth, William. ''An Inquiry into the Laws, Antient and Modern, Respecting Forestalling, Regrating and Ingrossing
Together With Adjudged Cases, Copies of Original Records and Proceedings in Parliament Relative to Those Subjects''. London: E. & R. Brooke, 1800.
Notes: Also available online in ECCO; Modern Economy (subscription databases)
Abstract: A treatise on monopolies, dealings in futures and corners in food. Includes cases from the years 1273-1800.

Kitchin, John, ed. Le Court Leete, Et Court Baron, Collect Per Iohn Kytchin De Greys Inne Vn ApprenTice En Le Ley, Et Les Cases Et Matters Necessaries Pur Seneschals De Ceux Courts a Scier, Pur Les Students De Les Measons De Chauncerie. London: Richard Tottell, 1580.
Notes: The 1580, 1581, 1585, 1587, & 1592 editions also available online in EEBO (subscription database)
Abstract: Other titles: Retorna breuium; Retorna brevium; Returna brevium.

Littleton, Thomas, and Eugene Wambaugh, ed. Littleton's Tenures in English. Washington, DC: John Byrne, 1903.
Notes: Also available online in MOML and HeinOnline(subscription databases)
Abstract: Translation of an early legal treatise by Littleton on real property, ca. 1481. The text of this 1903 edition is a reprint of the version as given in Coke upon Littleton. For details of earlier editions in French see Maxwell, A Bibliography of English Law to 1650 (1925), 291-295.

Maitland, Frederic W., and W. Paley Baildon, eds. The Court Baron. SS, 4 for 1890. London: Quaritch, 1891.
Abstract: "This book consists of five parts. Four of these are texts of old tracts on the holding of feudal courts, viz. La Court de Baron of about 1280, De Placitis et Curiis Tenendis of about 1270, and two books called Modus tenendi Curias dating from about 1307 and the other from about 1342. The fifth section is a record of pleas tried in the court of the Bishop of Ely, at Littleport, 1285-1327. The precedent books were used as a guide for the stewards of manorial courts."

Manwood, John, ed. A Treatise of the Laws of the Forest Wherein Is Declared Not Onely Those Laws As They Are Now in Force, but Also the Original and Beginning of Forests, and What a Forest Is in Its Own Proper Nature ... : Also a Treatise of the Pourallee, Declaring What Pourallee Is, How the Same First Began, What a Pourallee-Man May Do ... 3rd ed. London: Company of Stationers, 1665.
Notes: Also available online in EEBO and ECCO (subscription databases)
Abstract: Contains the principal cases of the Assizes of Woodstock and of Pickering and of Lancaster. Covers the period 1334-1336.

Nicolas, Nicholas H. A Treatise on the Law of Adulterine Bastardy, With a Report of the Banbury Case, and of All Other Cases Bearing Upon the Subject . London: W. Pickering, 1836.
Notes: Also available online in MOML (subscription database)
Abstract: Contains cases on legitimacy from the years 1282-1813.

O'Brien, Bruce R. God's Peace and King's Peace: the Laws of Edward the Confessor. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.
Abstract: An exposition and text of a twelfth century legal treatise, Leges Edwardi Confessoris. It claimed to record the laws that had been in force under Edward the Confessor at the time of the accession of William the Conqueror. Latin text with English translation

Richardson, Henry G., and George O. Sayles, eds. and trans. Fleta. 3 Vols. SS, 72 for 1953, 89 for 1972, 99 for 1983. London: Quaritch, 1955-1984.
Abstract: A legal treatise consisting of a prologue and six books, written c. 1296. It can be viewed as a learned and updated commentary on Bracton. This Selden Society edition contains in Vol. II, (SS, Vol. 72) the prologue, Books 1 and 2; Vol. III, (SS, vol. 89) Books 3 & 4; Vol. IV (SS, Vol. 99) Books 5 & 6. Text in Latin with English translation.

Saint German, Christopher, Theodore F. T. Plucknett, and John L. Barton, eds. St. German's Doctor and Student. SS, 91 for 1974. London : Selden Society, 1974.
Notes: Also available online in MOML and HeinOnline (subscription databases)
Abstract: Contains Dialogus de fundamentis legum Anglie et de conscientia, Dialoge in Englysshe bytwyxt a doctoure of dyvynyte and a student in the lawes of England (a modified translation of the preceding work), and Secunde dyaloge in Englysshe bytwene a doctour of dyvynyte and a student in the lawes of Englande. The English and Latin texts of the first dialog are printed in parallel columns, with translation of material occcurring only in the Latin version interpolated into the English text.

Sawyer, Peter H., ed. Textus Roffensis: Rochester Cathedral Library Manuscript A.3.5. 2 Vols. Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile, 7, 11. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde og Bagger, 1957-1962.
Abstract: Facsimile of a famous early English manuscript which contains the fullest set of early English legal texts in the vernacular (c.f. Quadripartitus which was translated into Latin. ) It does include some works in Latin, including a series of ordeal rituals and a short selection of current canon law. It alone preserves the codes of the seventh century Kentish kings. The second part of the manuscript is a cartulary containing three dozen pre-conquest documents.

Smith, Thomas, Leonard Alston, and Frederic W. Maitland, eds. De Republica Anglorum; a Discourse on the Commonwealth of England . Cambridge: The University Press, 1906.
Notes: 1584 and 1610 editions also available online in EEBO and Modern Economy (subscription databases)
Abstract: First edition 1584.

Studer, Paul, trans. The Oak Book of Southampton of C. A.D. 1300. 3 Vols. Southampton : Cox & Sharland, 1910.
Abstract: Text translated from Latin, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English into English. Contents: Vol. 1, Including the Anglo-French ordinances of the ancient guild merchant of Southampton; Vol. 2, Including a fourteenth century version of the medieval sea-laws known as the Rolls of Oleron; Vol. 3, Supplement to The Oak book of Southampton of ca. AD 1300.

Twiss, Travers, ed. Monumenta Juridica. The Black Book of the Admiralty, With an Appendix. 4 Vols. Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores (Rolls Series), 55. London: Longman, 1871.
Notes: Also available online in HeinOnline (subscription database)
Abstract: A collection of laws, in French and Latin, relating to ther navy, the original MS of which is preserved in the Admiralty archives at Whitehall. First four parts consist of Ordinances and Articles of Inquiry in Old French, probably dating from 1340. The fifth part is a treatise on procedure. The sixth part are the Latin Articles, De Officio Admiralitatis translated into English.

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