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Lex and consuetudo in English lawsuits from the Conquest to Glanvill

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Medieval people wrote and copied numerous law books, custumals and borough charters, which, however, were seldom quoted or even referred to in the law courts. Many legal historians have remarked on this phenomenon in general terms, but the present author has systematically looked for such references in English lawsuits of Norman and Angevin times. He found a number of cases where local or national customary law was mentioned, and others where specific enactments were followed. In a case of 1088 a well-known canon law book was quoted by one party in support of his claim. Laws and customs were, however, seldom specifically invoked. The author discusses the meaning of such terms as Anglica lex, leges regni, jus militare, jus feodi and patriae consuetudo and finally looks at the impact of royal legislation on ancient custom.

Affiliations: 1: Em. Prof. University of Ghent, Veurestraat 47, B-9051 Afsnee, Belgium


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