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Bracton, the Year Books, and the “Transformation of Elementary Legal Ideas” in the Early Common Law

  • David J. Seipp

Extract

The language of the common law has a life and a logic of its own, resilient through eight centuries of unceasing talk. Basic terms of the lawyer's specialized vocabulary, elementary conceptual distinctions, and modes of argument, which all go to make “thinking like a lawyer” possible, have proved remarkably durable in the literature of the common law. Two fundamental distinctions—between “real” and “personal” actions and between “possessory” and “proprietary” remedies—can be traced back to their early use in treatises of the first generations of professional common law judges and in reports of courtroom dialogue from the first generations of professional advocates in common law courts. Together these distinctions give the clearest indications that the early common law professions borrowed the vocabulary and techniques of Roman and canon law. Moreover, they play an important role in the ongoing historical debate over English legal concepts of property ownership.

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Notes

1. 2 Pollock, F. & Maitland, F.W., The History of English Law 31–80 (esp. 7273) (2d ed. 1898); Maitland, F.W., The Forms of Action at Common Law 1925, 34–35 (Chaytor, A.H. & Whittaker, W.J. eds. 1936). Writs of right sought land based on the claimant's right and inheritance. Novel disseisin sought land because the claimant had been “disseised” unjustly and without judgment. Mort d'ancestor asserted that the father of the claimant had died seised of the disputed land and the claimant was his heir.

2. 2 F. Pollock & F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 2–6, 33. See also Van Caenegem, R.C., The Birth of the English Common Law 44 (1973).

3. Bracton, H., On the Laws and Customs of England (Woodbine, G.E. ed., Thorne, S.E. trans. 19681977) [hereinafter cited as Bracton, folio (volume:page)]. The treatise appears to have been begun in the 1220s or 1230s by one or more clerks or justices of the king's court; Henry de Bracton, a royal clerk and later justice, probably took it up in the late 1230s, continued and revised the work, and left it unfinished in 1256 or 1257. Thorne, Translator's Introduction, in Bracton, 3:v, xxvii, xxxvi–xxxviii, li. This article will denominate all claimants to authorship impartially as “Bracton.”

4. Milsom, S.F.C., The Legal Framework of English Feudalism 186 & passim (esp. 6566) (1976).

5. Id. at 37.

6. See Brand, , The Origins of the English Legal Profession, 5 Law & Hist. Rev. 31, 3638 (1987); Baker, J.H., The Order of Serjeants at Law 910 (1984). On the attribution of the early Year Books to students or apprentices of law, see, e.g., Maitland, Introduction, in The Year Books of 1 and 2 Edward II xi–xvi (17 Selden Soc'y [hereinafter S.S.] 1903); Dunham, Introduction, in Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. xxx–xli (1952); Plucknett, T.F.T., Early English Legal Literature 109–11 (1958).

7. Brand, , Courtroom and Schoolroom: The Education of Lawyers in England Prior to 1400, 60 Hist. Res. 147, 150–65 (1987).

8. For early examples, see Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. 79, 97, 114 (cases of naifty, replevin, and mort d'ancestor, c. 1272 — c. 1278); Novae Narrationes, 80 S.S. 137 (para. B 278), 234 (para. C 159), 305 (para. C 285A) (E. Shanks & S.F.C. Milsom eds. 1963); Exceptiones ad Cassandum Brevia, in Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts 170 (Woodbine, G.E. ed. 1910); Anon., Hereford Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, Rolls Series [hereinafter R.S.] at 27 (1292) (entry); Daniel v. de Bere, Hereford Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 59 (1292) (formedon); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 21 Edw. 1, R.S. 135 (1293) (mort d'ancestor).

9.2 F. Pollock & F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 2–6.

10. See Moccia, , English Law Attitudes to the ‘Civil Law,’ 2 J. Leg. Hist. 157, 158–60 (1981).

11. 2 F. Pollock & F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 115; Brunner, , The Sources of English Law, in 2 Select Essays in Anglo-American Legal History 7, 42 (1908). See Baker, J.H., An Introduction to English Legal History 27 (2d ed. 1979).

12. See, e.g., Lawson, , Roman Law as an Organizing Instrument, 46 B.U. L. Rev. 181, 194–95 (1967). Cf. Richardson, H.G. & Sayles, G.O., Law and Legislation from Aethelbert to Magna Carta 8485 (1966).

13. See, e.g., Anderson, P., Lineages of the Absolutist State 2527 (1974); Jolowicz, , Political Implications of Roman Law, 27 Tul. L. Rev. 62, 63 (1947).

14. See, e.g., Buckland, W.W., A Text-Book of Roman Law From Augustus to Justinian 101–4 (P. Stein 3d ed. 1975); Jolowicz, H.F., Roman Foundations of Modern Law 181–83 (1957); Sailer, , Patria Potestas and the Stereotype of the Roman Family, 1 Continuity & Change 7, 8 (1986).

15. See infra at nn. 133–39.

16. See infra at nn. 143–51.

17. Glanvill, De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae (G.E. Woodbine ed. 1932); The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Realm of England Commonly Called Glanvill (G.D.G. Hall ed. & trans. 1965) [hereinafter cited as Glanvill]. Authorship of the treatise is disputed; the work itself is conventionally denominated “Glanvill.”

18. Bracton, supra note 3.

19. Cowell, J., Institutions Iuris Anglicani (1605).

20. Finch, H., Nomotechnia (1613); Finch, H., Law, or a Discourse Thereof (1627).

21. Hale, M., An Analysis of the Civil Part of the Law (1713); Hale, M., History of the Pleas of the Crown (1736).

22. Wood, T., An Institute of the Laws of England (1720).

23. Blackstone, W., Commentaries on the Laws of England (17651769).

24. Austin, J., The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (1832).

25. Holland, T.E., The Elements Of Jurisprudence (1880).

26. E.g., Swift, Z., A System of the Laws of the State of Connecticut (17951796); Kent, J., Commentaries on American Law (18261830); Markby, W., Elements of Law (1871); Terry, H.T., Leading Principles of Anglo-American Law (1884); Salmond, J.W., Jurisprudence (1902).

27. At the outset, Glanvill distinguished criminal and civil pleas (Glanvill, bk. 1, ch. 1), and further classified civil pleas for land in the king's court as claims on the property (super proprietate) and claims on the possession (super possessione) (bk. 1, ch. 3). In later exposition, however, the treatise distinguished civil pleas in indigenous terms: pleas of right (placita de recto) (bk. 12, ch. 1) and those that concern seisin alone (super saisinis solummodo) (bk. 13, ch. 1). Cf. other references to possessio (of chattels) in bk. 10, ch. 8; and to proprietas in bk. 1, ch. 7; bk. 11, ch. 1; bk. 13, chs. 13, 15; notes in Woodbine ed. at 262, 281–83. On some problems with the classification, see Barton, J.L., Roman Law in England 9 & n.20 (Ius Romanum Medii Aevi, V. 5, pt. 13a, 1971).

28. On the striking absence of the term “possession” beyond the ecclesiastical context, see 2 F. Pollock & F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 31–32, 110 n.2; F. Joüon Des Longrais, La Conception Anglaise de la Saisine passim & esp. 151 (1925). Two exceptions are in Bracton's Note Book (F.W. Maitland ed. 1887): Case no. 240, Hil. 8 Hen. 3, 2 id. at 193 (1224) (writ of right super proprietate and mort d'ancestor super possessione); Case no. 564, Pasch. 15 Hen. 3, 2 id. at 435, 437, 14 Curia Regis Rolls 1474 (1231) (mort d'ancestor; lord and heir rule pertains to ius and not to possessionem).

29. Bracton has launched an enormous literature. See, e.g., the bibliographies in Richardson, H.G., Bracton: The Problem of his Text 155–57 (1965); Thorne, Translator's Introduction, Bracton, 3:vii–xi. On the parallels to the Institutes, see, e.g., H.G. Richardson, supra, at 57–58; Barton, , Bracton as a Civilian, 42 Tul. L. Rev. 555, 564–66 (1968); infra note 36. For particular criticisms of Bracton's arrangement, see, e.g., Maitland, F.W., Select Passages from the Works of Bracton and Azo, 8 S.S. 169–70, 184 (1895) [hereinafter cited as Bracton & Azo]; F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 59; Plucknett, , The Relations Between Roman Law and English Common Law Down to the Sixteenth Century, 3 U. Toronto L.J. 24, 41 (1939); T.F.T. Plucknett, supra note 6, at 95 & n.2; J.L. Barton, supra note 27, at 16–17.

30. 1 The History of the University of Oxford 3, 526–27, 538–39 (J.I. Catto, ed. 1984) (chapters by R.W. Southern, J.L. Barton, and L.E. Boyle).

31. J.L. Barton, supra note 27, at 27–28; 1 The History of the University of Oxford, supra note 30, at 521–22, 582 (chapters by J.L. Barton and Jean Dunbabin).

32. Some fifty surviving manuscripts of Bracton testify to a wide though short-lived popularity prior to 1300. See, e.g., Dawson, J.P., The Oracles of the Law 54 (1968); J.L. Barton, supra note 27, at 17; Brand, supra note 7, at 163. On the nascent legal profession, see Brand, supra note 6, at 36–38.

33. Britton (F.M. Nichols ed. & trans. 1865) [hereinafter cited as Britton]; Fleta, 72, 89, & 99 S.S. (H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles ed. & trans. 1953–1983) [hereinafter cited as Fleta]. Britton and Fleta did not use Roman categories as their main organizing structure, and they employed them in textual exposition more sparingly than Bracton did. On possessory and proprietary actions, see, e.g., Britton, bk. 2, ch. 11, fol. 106b (1:271–72); Fleta, bk. 4, ch. 1, fol. 82, 89 S.S. 46. See also Summa Parva, in Radulphi de Hengham Summae 60–61, 68–69 (W.H. Dunham ed. 1932).

34. Though many Bracton manuscripts left out the passages that most closely followed the Roman sources, this terminology appeared throughout the discussion of the writs.

35. Bracton, fol. 4b (2:29).

36. Maitland collated passages from Bracton with a summa of the Institutes by Azo of Bologna, including those setting forth the main structure. Bracton & Azo, 8 S.S. 42–43, 165–70.

37. Bracton, fol. 101b (2:290). Other passages distinguished civil and criminal, contractual and delictual actions. Id. at fols. 99, 101 (2:283, 289).

38. Id. at fols. 101b–103 (2:290–95).

39. Id. at fol. 103 (2:294). Cf. id. at fol. 112b (2:318).

40. Id. at fol. 102 (2:292).

41. Id. at fol. 102b (2:292). This foreshadows the English lawyers' later distinction between real and personal property. F.W. Maitland, supra note 1, at 60; Williams, , The Terms Real and Personal in English Law, 4 Law Q. Rev. 394, 405–8 (1888).

42. Bracton, fols. 114b, 161b, 164b, 218b (2:324; 3:18, 26, 157). Bracton recurred to the distinction between real and personal actions perhaps a dozen times more in the remainder of the treatise.

43. Id. at fols. 103, 104 (2:294, 296–97). See also id. at fols. 159b–60 (3:13).

44. E.g., id. at fols. 113–113b, 161, 270b, 283b–284, 317b, 327b (2:320–21; 3:18, 291, 325–26; 4:21, 47). Cosinage claimed land of which a relative (other than a direct ancestor) died seised, asserting that the claimant was that relative's heir. Writs of entry claimed that the current holder of land should render it to the claimant because of a particular flaw in the current holder's title to the land. See also supra note 1.

45. Bracton, fol. 3 (1:115–16, 2:24–25), fols. 434b–435 (4:350–51). In other passages, Bracton equated possessory and proprietary right with the interests of the life tenant and reversioner. Id. at fols. 32b, 160 (2:106, 3:13).

46. Bracton & Azo, 8 S.S. 31, 33. See further Bracton, fols. 30b–31 (2:101–3).

47. Bracton, fol. 38b (2:121–22) (defining possession as the physical and intentional detention of a corporeal thing, with the concurrent support of right); see Azo, Summa Codicis 7.32, nos. 1–2 (Venice ed. 1610); Dig. 41.2.3.1 (Paul, Ad Edictum 54) (citations are to The Digest of Justinian (T. Mommsen & P. Krueger eds., A. Watson ed. and trans. 1985)).

48. Bracton, fol. 103 (2:294); J. Inst. 4.15.2 (citations are to Justinian's Institutes (P. Krueger ed., P. Birks & G. McLeod trans. 1987)).

49. Bracton, fol. 113 (2:321); see Dig. 41.2.12.1 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 70); William of Drogheda, Summa Aurea 357 (L. Wahrmund ed. 1914); Bracton & Azo, 8 S.S. 208–9. Also Bracton, fol. 284 (3:325) (paraphrase); id. at fol. 267 (3:283).

50. See supra note 29.

51. Simpson, A.W.B., A History of the Land Law 37 (2d ed. 1986). See also Sutherland, D.W., The Assize of Novel Disseisin 4142 (1973); H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles, supra note 12, at 81–82. Other historians have taken the Year Book lawyers to task for not adopting Bracton's scholarship. T.F.T. Plucknett, supra note 6, at 93–94 (“no one who reads the Year Books would ever suspect that Bracton had lived and written”).

52. Van Caenegem, R.C., Royal Writs in England from the Conquest to Glanvill, 77 S.S. 315 & n.3, 390 (1959).

53. The Year Books do not purport to be accurate verbatim transcripts of courtroom dialogue, and wording varies greatly from one version to another for the same case. See Bolland, W.C., A Manual of Year Book Studies 4344 (1925); Bolland, , Introduction, in The Year Books of 6 Edward II, 43 S.S. xxvxxvi (1926). Whether the terminology recorded is that of the named speaker or of a reporter or copyist at some later stage, it formed some part of the vocabulary of the profession. What follows will, for the most part, treat the eight or so justices and twenty or thirty pleaders as a collective group, rather than speculate on the verbal proclivities of the named individuals.

54. In the Year Books studied, some 260 reports made reference to writs “of possession” and related categories; 110 more made notable uses of the term possessioun (various spellings), and 16 used the term propreté (all in relation to chattels). Ten reports employed the term real or realte alone or in conjunction with the term personel, and 25 used the term personel or personalte alone. Sources for the reign of Edward I that remain, as yet, in manuscript were not consulted for this study.

55. On the difficulties of interpreting Year Book language, see Collas, & Plucknett, , Introduction, in The year Books of 12 Edward II, 70 S.S. xiii (1951).

56. See, e.g., Hothwait v. Courtenay, Y.B. Mich. 9 Edw. 2, pl. 2, 45 S.S. 2, 5 (1315) (bref original est fondement de ley).

57. On the importance of this move to standardization, see Palmer, R.C., The Whilton Dispute, 1264–1380 at 1416 (1984); Biancalana, , For Want of Justice: Legal Reforms of Henry II, 88 Colum. L. Rev. 433, 442 (1988).

58. Clerks and lawyers kept registers of writ forms in what gradually moved toward a traditional ordering, though there was no apparent logic to the order. Maitland, , History of the Register of Original Writs, 3 Harv. L. Rev. 97, 98101 (1889); T.F.T. Plucknett, supra note 6, at 32–33. An unusual manuscript attempted to impose an analytical framework on these writs by distinguishing real, personal, mixed, and statutory writs. See Hall, Commentary, in Early Registers of Writs, 87 S.S. civcvii (de Haas, E. & Hall, G.D.G. eds. 1970).

59. See infra at nn. 120–27.

60. These writs claimed that a parent, sibling, uncle, or aunt (in mort d'ancestor); a grandparent (in ael); a great-grandparent (in besael); or collateral relative (in cosinage) had died seised of land, and that the claimant was the heir. Some 60 such cases apply the labels to these writs. Of reports mentioning more than one such writ as “of possession,” see, e.g., Nota, Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 365 (1294) (ael, cosinage); Attecrouch v. Frost, Y.B. Trin. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 9A, 20 S.S. 159 (1310) (ael, besael); Higham v. Bartelot, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 35 (1313–1314) (mort d'ancestor, ael); Warthill v. Selby, Y.B. Pasch. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 8, 39 S.S. 110 (1314) (ael, besael); Whittlesey v. Laurence, Y.B. Mich. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 37 S.S. 135 (1314) (ael, besael, cosinage).

61. E.g., Anon., Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 301 (1294) (ael); Latimer v. Thwing, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 50 (1313–1314) (mort d'ancestor); Anon., Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 58 (1313–1314) (same).

62. Anon., Y.B. 21 Edw. 1, R.S. 135 (1293) (mort d'ancestor); Anon., Cornwall Eyre, Y.B. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 245 (1302) (ael); Hammil v. Chalon, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 27 S.S. 4 (1313–1314) (cosinage).

63. See Anon. v. Berkeley, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 56 (1313–1314) (mort d'ancestor); Samuel v. Hopsal, Y.B. Pasch. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 9, 41 S.S. 112 (1315) (besael).

64. Exceptions are Berners v. Berners, Y.B. Pasch. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 13, 54 S.S. 106; re-argued, Y.B. Trin. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 6, 54 S.S. 159 (1317); Turk v. Ardinguelli, London Eyre, Y.B. 14 Edw. 2, 86 S.S. 152 (1321).

65. Bucketon v. Kynelingworth, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 22, 63 S.S. 76 (1311) (formedon in the remainder); Spernel v. Welton, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 3, 36 S.S. 95 (1313) (formedon in the descender); Ennock v. Ennock, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 4, 36 S.S. 105 (1313) (entry dum non fuit compos mentis); Le Fraunceys v. De La Hay, Y.B. Trin. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 20, 81 S.S. 99 (1319) (formedon in the descender).

66. E.g., Daniel v. de Bere, Hereford Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 59 (1292) (plea of nonage in formedon in the descender); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 66, 65 S.S. 151 (1318) (same in entry cui in vita); Leycestre v. Leycestre, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 98 S.S. 563 (1329–1330) (same in entry de quibus); Le Bret v. Tolthorpe, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, 22 S.S. 27 (1310) (plea of omission in formedon in the descender); Paramore v. Gedding, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 2, 36 S.S. 92 (1313) (same in entry cui in vita); Russell v. Garlekmonger, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 97 S.S. 478 (1329–1330) (same in formedon in the reverter).

67. Lydford v. Giffard, Y.B. Trin. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 14, 33 S.S. 186 (1312) (entry dum fuit infra aetatem); Anon., Y.B. Trin. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 35, 33 S.S. 235 (1312) (entry dum non fuit compos mentis); Spernel v. Welton, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 3, 36 S.S. 95 (1313) (formedon in the descender); Anon., Y.B. Trin. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 22, 39 S.S. 218 (1314) (entry cui in vita).

68. Of more than a dozen such reports, see, e.g., Anon. v. Dean of Hereford, Hereford Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 27 (1292) (entry cui in vita); Anon. v. Sculle, Y.B. Pasch. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 14, 54 S.S. 108 (1317) (same); Normanby v. Normanby, Y.B. Mich. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 52, 65 S.S. 97 (1318) (formedon in the descender); Twyford v. Pyrie, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 97 S.S. 429 (1329–1330) (same).

69. Attecrouch v. Frost, Y.B. Trin. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 9A, 20 S.S. 159 (1310) (entry dum fuit infra aetatem). The pleader so rebuked blithely switched labels and launched his next argument. See also Scaldeford v. Vaudey, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 3, 22 S.S. 30 (1310) (entry ad terminum qui praeteriit).

70. Haselholt v. Haselholt, Y.B. Pasch. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 26 S.S. 171 (1311) (formedon in the reverter); also Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 81, 17 S.S. 159 (1308–1309) (same); but see Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 25, 17 S.S. 79 (1308–1309) (formedon in the descender “of right” per Bereford C.J.); Langeton v. Workeslegh, Y.B. Trin. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 21, 81 S.S. 101 (1319) (same).

71. Many of these characterizations are discussed in Milsom, Commentary on the Actions, in Novae Narrationes, 80 S.S. xxxi–ccxiv.

72. It it possible that these were the first writs to be juxtaposed in terms of “right” and “possession.” See infra note 120. The rare appearances of the word “possession” in legal records of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries are nearly all in the context of ecclesiastical matters. See supra note 28. Writs of right of advowson claimed the right to present a parson. Darrein presentment asserted that the claimant or his ancestor presented the last parson and that the church was now vacant. Quare impedit sought to require a bishop or other person to permit the claimant to present a parson to a church that had come within the claimant's gift. Utrum was a writ by which parsons asserted that land was held by their church for spiritual services and was not a lay fee.

73. Of the 35 such reports in the Year Books, see, e.g., Hothwait v. Courtenay, Y.B. Mich. 9 Edw. 2, pl. 2, 45 S.S. 2(1315) (writ of right of advowson); Parson of Meppershall v. Prior of Chicksands, Y.B. Mich. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 34 S.S. 70 (1312–1313) (utrum); Prior of Dudley v. Bishop of Worcester, Hereford Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 205 (1292) (darrein presentment); Adeleye v. Prior of St. John, Shropshire Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 281 (1292) (quare impedit); Bernake v. Montalt, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 1A, 20 S.S. 58 (1310) (same); R. v. Prior of Worksop, Y.B. Hil. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 26, 54 S.S. 74 (1317) (same); Monthermer v. Prior of St. John, Y.B. Trin. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 12, 81 S.S. 78 (1319) (same). The muddled Mirror of Justices, which may date from this period, listed utrum among the possessory pleas; The Mirror of Justices ch. 25, 7 S.S. 65 (W.J. Whittaker ed. 1895).

74. Bardolf v. Prioress of B., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 57, 17 S.S. 115 (1308–1309) (customs & services); Villeins of Ewell v. Prior of Merton, Y.B. Pasch. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 17, 41 S.S. 144 (1315) (monstraverunt); Burnhill v. Ringtherose, Y.B. Trin. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 30A, 20 S.S. 200 (1310) (suit of mill); Alwarthorpe v. Abbot of Fountains, Y.B. Mich. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 79, 65 S.S. 167 (1318) (quod permittat of pasture).

75. Hertford v. Percy, Y.B. Mich. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 64, 34 S.S. 222 (1312–1313) (quare ejecit); Anon., Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 555 (1294) (ravishment of ward); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 34 Edw. 1, R.S. 175 (1306) (same); Peverel v. Holbrook, Y.B. Hil. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 7, 39 S.S. 43 (1313) (forfeiture of marriage); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 54, 61 S.S. 148 (1317) (same); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 20 S.S. 100 (1310) (waste); Goldington v. Bassingburn, Y.B. Trin. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 27A, 20 S.S. 193 (1310) (conspiracy); Scottow v. Birkeleghe, Y.B. Trin. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 33 S.S. 205 (1312) (account).

76. Anon., Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 243 (1304) (writ of right of ward); Champion v. Havering, Y.B. Hil. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 7, 31 S.S. 27, 173 (1311) (quare impedit).

77. Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 61 S.S. 152 (1317); Lymesy v. Abbot of Westminster, Y.B. Trin. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 11, 36 S.S. 31 (1313); Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 75, 17 S.S. 150 (1308–1309). Cessavit was a lord's claim for land held by a tenant who had ceased doing services for two years.

78. Somery v. Burmingeham, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 87, 22 S.S. 198 (1310); Anon. v. Ersedekene, Cornwall Eyre, Y.B. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 143, 145 (1302); Anon., 4 Edw. 2, 42 S.S. 165 (1310–1311) (from 2 A. Fitzherbert, La Graunde Abridgement fol. 34, Garraunt des Chartres pl. 29 (1514)); Gentylcors v. Brown, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 31, 20 S.S. 113 (1310); Fitzanable v. Haket, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 46, 63 S.S. 230 (1311); Taumbes v. Skegness, Y.B. Pasch. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 11, 31 S.S. 215 (1312). Debt commanded the defendant to render a sum of money or fungible goods owed to the plaintiff and unjustly detained, or come to court to explain why not. Covenant commanded the defendant to keep an agreement with the plaintiff to perform services or convey specific goods. Trespass ordered the defendant to come to court to explain why he or she committed a wrong against the plaintiff.

79. Daman v. Abbot of Gloucester, Y.B. Trin. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 23, 36 S.S. 80 (1313). Cf. Maitland, supra note 58, at 217. Annuity commanded the defendant to render a sum of money or fungible goods in arrears from the annual rent or payment owed to the plaintiff. On the disappearance of the original connection of annuities to land, see Milsom, Commentary on the Actions, in Novae Narrationes, 80 S.S. clxix–clxxii.

80. Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 40, 20 S.S. 125 (1310); R. v. Prior of Merton, Y.B. Mich. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 61 S.S. 84 (1317).

81. Burnel v. Beauchamp, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 13A, 20 S.S. 89 (1310); Mareschal v. Foliot, Y.B. Trin. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 3A, 20 S.S. 150 (1310); Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 61 S.S. 152 (1317) (waste); Somery v. Burmingeham, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 87, 22 S.S. 198 (1310); Anon., 4 Edw. 2, 42 S.S. 165 (1310–1311) (from 2 A. Fitzherbert, La Graunde Abridgement fol. 34, Garraunt des Chartres pl. 29 (1514)) (warranty of charters). See also Anon., Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. 78 (c. 1272 — c. 1278) (naifty “personal” or “of right”). Waste claimed damages (and, by statute, forfeiture of land) from a temporary holder of land who had altered the land to the damage of a future possessor. Warranty of charter commanded a lord to warrant that the plaintiff held land of the lord according to the terms of the lord's (or his ancestor's) charter.

82. Anon., Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. 78 (c. 1272 — c. 1278); Wygketone v. Bishop of Carlisle, Y.B. Mich. 31 Edw. 1, R.S. 343 (1303); Anon., 4 Edw. 2, 42 S.S. 165 (1310–1311) (from 2 A. Fitzherbert, La Graunde Abridgement fol. 34, Garraunt des Chartres pl. 29 (1514)); Comyn v. Monpynson, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 52, 63 S.S. 247 (1311); Noreis v. Northcott, Y.B. Pasch. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 34, 33 S.S. 76 (1312); Hutton v. Ludlow, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 41, 39 S.S. 15 (1313). Cf. Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1,61 S.S. 152 (1317) (in waste, the plea is not real, though the judgment is, by Statute of Gloucester, 1278, 6 Edw. 1, ch. 5).

83. R. v. Prior of Merton, Y.B. Mich. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 61 S.S. 84 (1317).

84. E.g., Anon., Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. 79 (c. 1268 — c. 1272); Anon. v. Erskedene, Cornwall Eyre, Y.B. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 143, 145 (1302); Burnel v. Beauchamp, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 13, 20 S.S. 89 (1310); Midhope v. Prior of Kirkham, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 17, 36 S.S. 172 (1313). But see Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 75, 17 S.S. 150 (1308–1309) (cessavit real, though the action accrued by the defendant's own act).

85. For different reports contradicting each other on the same writ, see, e.g., supra at nn.65–73. For disputes surfacing in an individual report, see, e.g., Rasen v. Furnival, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 49A, 20 S.S. 140 (1310) (formedon in the descender); Twyford v. Pyrie, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 97 S.S. 429 (1329–1330) (same); Villeins of Ewell v. Prior of Merton, Pasch. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 17, 41 S.S. 144 (1315) (monstraverunt).

86. Bevercote v. Abbot of Rugford, Y.B. Mich. 31 Edw. 1, R.S. 413, 415 (1303) (parson's quod permittat for common of pasture); Anon. v. Hoyland, Y.B. Mich. 33 Edw. 1, R.S. 63 (1305) (partition).

87. Abbot of C. v. Earl of Warren, Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 527, 529 (1294).

88. See supra note 69.

89. R. v. Anon., Stafford Eyre, Y.B. 21 Edw. 1, R.S. 423 (1293) (quo warranto).

90. Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 75, 17 S.S. 150 (1308–1309) (cessavit).

91. Anon., Cornwall Eyre, Y.B. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 279 (1302) (quo jure); Maltalent v. Romyley, Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 227, 239 (1304) (admeasurement of pasture); Devereux v. Tuchet, Y.B. Hil. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 18A, 20 S.S. 16 (1310) (entry ad terminum qui praeteriit); Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 62, 17 S.S. 128 (1308–1309) (replevin); Anon., Y.B. Hil. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 59 (1304) (trespass); Wygketone v. Carlisle, Y.B. Mich. 31 Edw. 1, R.S. 343 (1303) (quo jure).

92. Fressingfeld v. Cookley, Y.B. Hil. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 17B, 20 S.S. 13, 15 (1310) (quare impedit).

93. Bucketon v. Kynelingworth, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 22, 63 S.S. 76, 77 (1311) (formedon in the descender).

94. Bernake v. Montalt, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 1B, 20 S.S. 60, 61 (1310) (quare impedit).

95. The terminology can be found, still hotly disputed, later in the fourteenth century. See, e.g., Reskemmer v. Abbot of Beaulieu, Y.B. Mich. 16 Edw. 3, pl. 87, R.S. 571 (1342) (quare impedit); Pole v. Archbishop of York, Y.B. Mich. 8 Rich. 2, Ames Foundation ed. [hereinafter cited as Ames] 102, 103 (1384) (same); Anon., Y.B. Hil. 12 Rich. 2, pl. 26, Ames 136, 137 (1388) (de curia claudendo).

96. Quare impedit did appear to settle into the category of writs “of possession” after 1310, but the other writs remained unsettled.

97. Pleading rules pressured the pleaders to present their single best argument on behalf of the party employing them and to abandon the rest. Bolland, Introduction, 43 S.S. xi–xiii. Sparring between opposing pleaders on these terms could proceed to issue without the intervention of the justices. Often the modern reader can know only that an argument was advanced in particular language (or was recorded as having been advanced that way), that it drove the opponent to adopt a different line of argument, or that its proponent was himself driven to abandon it and try another course, with rarely a definitive pronouncement from the justices. Given the reluctance of the justices to make definitive rulings, the “law of the case” emerging from pleaders' bluffing and strategic concessions in individual reports cannot be taken for generally applicable rules or professional consensus. Sutherland, , The Brotherhood and the Rivalry of English Lawyers in the General Eyres, 31 Am. J. Leg. Hist. 1, 68 (1987).

98. When, however, one's interlocutor was Justice Bereford, such an answer was not quite enough. Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 61 S.S. 152, 156 (1317).

99. Molin v. Abbot of Westminster, Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 339 (1294) (cosinage).

100. Samuel v. Hopsal, Y.B. Pasch. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 9, 41 S.S. 112 (1315) (besael).

101. Thus, it was enough to say that ael and cosinage were writs of possession and “savored” of mort d'ancestor. Anon., Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 301 (1294); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 31 Edw. 1, R.S. 461 (1303).

102. E.g., Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 63, 17 S.S. 130 (1308–1309); Paramore v. Gedding, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 2, 36 S.S. 92 (1313); Etchingham v. Sandwich, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 26 (1313–1314); Welton v. Messager, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 98 S.S. 537 (1329–1330). Pleaders tried unsuccessfully to make the category label a substantive limit on liability by arguing that there were writs of ael (on grandfather's seisin) and besael (on great-grandfather's), but not of tresael (on great-great-grandfather's), in order to bar a writ of cosinage (on a collateral relative's seisin) in which the demandant traced descent through a great-great-grandfather. E.g., Kirkeby v. Everyngham, Y.B. Pasch. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 145 (1304); Tremur v. Giffard, Y.B. Mich. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 62, 34 S.S. 211 (1312–1313); cf. Reskemmer v. Abbot of Beaulieu, Y.B. Mich. 16 Edw. 3, pl. 87, R.S. 571 (1342) (quare impedit).

103. See supra note 27. In Year Book dialogue, “writ of seisin” was a conceivable label, though rarely applied. See Sagor v. Atte Welle, Y.B. Trin. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 42 S.S. 13, 14 (1311) (ael).

104. See supra at nn.45–46. For Bracton, possession and proprietas could both be elements of “right” (ius). In the few instances where he did contrast possession with “right,” e.g., fol. 285b (3:329), Bracton's term is again ius, not the recto of the writ of right. See also Summa Magna, in Radulphi de Hengham Summae, supra note 33, at 40 (proprietate recti); id. at 47 (proprietatem iuris); Judicium Essoniorum, in Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts, supra note 8, at 134 (iure et proprietate).

105. Britton, bk. 2, ch. 3, fols. 87, 89b; bk. 2, ch. 8, fol. 101; bk. 2, ch. 11, fol. 106b; bk. 2, ch. 16, fol. 121b; bk. 3, ch. 13, fol. 204; bk. 3, ch. 22, fol. 217; bk. 3, ch. 26, fol. 221b; bk. 4, ch. 3, fol. 226; bk. 4, ch. 6, fol. 233b; bk. 4, ch. 8, fols. 235b–236; bk. 6, intro., fol. 268 (1:221, 227, 257, 271–72, 311; 2:120, 153–54, 166–67, 178, 203, 209–10, 309); but see bk. 3, ch. 9, fol. 189b; bk. 4, ch. 15, fol. 267 (2:81, 305–306) (contrasting writs of possession and of right). See also the problematic Mirror of Justices, supra note 73, at chs. 24, 25, 7 S.S. 65, 67 (droit de propriete).

106. See, e.g., Anon., Y.B. 21 Edw. 1, R.S. 107 (1293); Rudde v. Hagham, Y.B. Mich. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 31 (1302); Codeston v. Tunbridge, Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 16A, 17 S.S. 65 (1308–1309); Thyke v. Fraunceys, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 48, 63 S.S. 240 (1311); Saunderville v. Driby, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 32, 39 S.S. 1(1313); Hermewelle v. Cambernoun, Y.B. Mich. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 31, 65 S.S. 42 (1318). Cf. Fressingfelde v. Jonesman, Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 50, 17 S.S. 105 (1308–1309) (propreté de la garde).

107. Britton, bk. 1, ch. 1, fol. 1b (1:3) and passim; Fleta, bk. 1, ch. 1, fol. 4, 72 S.S. 13; bk. 4, ch. 1, fol. 82, 89 S.S. 46, and passim. The untrustworthy Mirror of Justices opened its treatment of actions with the same classification, supra note 73, at bk. 2, ch. 1, 7 S.S. 43, though when it later divided the writs, they had become real and personal “sins” (pecchiez), id. at bk. 2, ch. 6, 7 S.S. 49.

108. Fet Asaver, in Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts, supra note 8, at 53; T.F.T. Plucknett, supra note 6, at 95.

109. Modus Componendi Brevia, in Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts, supra note 8, at 53; T.F.T. Plucknett, supra note 6, at 143.

110. See, e.g., Goldington v. Bassingbourne, Y.B. Hil. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 10, 31 S.S. 42 (1311). In one case, the reported words of Justice Hervey de Stanton imply that “plea touching the realty” could be a broader category than “plea of land.” Porteseye v. Haustede, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 59, 22 S.S. 173 (1310). In another case that term (found in a different manuscript), the same Justice is quoted contrasting pleas of land with personal actions. Somery v. Burmingeham, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 87, 22 S.S. 198 (1310).

111. Collas & Plucknett, Introduction, 70 S.S. xix–xxi. For an argument that l'entendement de ley required that “reversion” in a deed be read as “remainder,” see Saltmarsh v. Redeness, Y.B. Hil. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 13, 54 S.S. 35, 38 (1317). In 1314 Chief Justíce Bereford opened an address to the jury on a writ of utrum (perhaps in French, perhaps in English) with the words “This is a writ of right where the mise is joined on a certain point” and so forth, provoking the response “Sire, we are not lawyers (gentz de ley)” and a request for further explanation. Abbot of Tewkesbury v. Calewe, Y.B. Trin. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 39 S.S. 158, 160–61 (1314).

112. On the latter pairing, an exceptionally useful manuscript source is the short elementary tract Divisiones Brevium, described in Brand, supra note 7, at 163–64. The tract, represented in several manuscripts in the British Library, appears intended to explain the common law writs to readers already familiar with some Roman legal terminology. It begins by introducing the writ “called right” (breve expressum recti), and contrasts it with writs “of entry” and “of seisin.” The predominant category, however, is that of writs “of possession.” Mort d'ancestor, utrum, novel disseisin, darrein presentment, ael, besael, and cosinage are said to be writs de possessione et non de proprietate. The newer terminology is also present: Quare impedit is “mixed” de recto et de possessione. This suggests that the late thirteenth-century learning surrounding the writ of quare impedit may hold the clue to the Year Books' opposition of possession and right. See British Library Additional MS. 22708, fols. 30v–31v; Harley MS. 1120, fols. 146–49; Harley MS. 1208, fols. 137–39; Lansdowne MS. 467, fols. 172v–173v; Royal MS. 10.A.v, fols. 147v–149v.

113. Plucknett, T.F.T., Legislation of Edward I at 14 (1949).

114. Statute of Westminster I, 1275, 3 Edw. 1, ch. 40 (voucher to warranty in writs of possession, of entry, and of right); Statute of Westminster II, 1285, 13 Edw. 1, ch. 5 (1285) (writs of advowson of right and of possession). As writs “of possession,” Westminster I listed mort d'ancestor, cosinage, ael, nuper obiit, intrusion, and other like writs; Westminster II listed darrein presentment and quare impedit. For applications, see Rust v. Banyard, Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 249, 251 (1304); Dodingtone v. Anon., Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 265, 269 (1304); Marmion v. Scoter, Y.B. Pasch. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 27, 54 S.S. 124, 125 (1317). In contrast, chapter 3 of the Statute of Gloucester, 1278, 6 Edw. 1, applied by its terms to cosinage, ael, and besael, and was not extended to other writs of possession. Cauville v. Drax, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 159, 160 (1313–1314) (nuper obiit) (query by reporter); Whittlesey v. Laurence, Y.B. Mich. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 37 S.S. 135, 136 (1314) (entry).

115. The formula bref de possessioun was not entirely uniform; more variants appeared after 1310. See Bernake v. Montalt, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 1B, 20 S.S. 60 (1310) (accioun … en la possessioun); Walsham v. Walsham, Y.B. Mich. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 10, 37 S.S. 52, 53 (1314) (accioun possessorie); Colchester v. Abbot of Colchester, Y.B. Mich. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 11, 37 S.S. 71, 73 (1314) (precipe de possessioun); Peverel v. Braose, Y.B. Trin. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 4, 41 S.S. 188, 192 (1315) (accioun en la possessioun); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 17, 54 S.S. 1111 (1317) (play de possessioun).

116. See cases cited supra notes 83 to 85.

117. E.g., Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 75, 17 S.S. 150 (1308–1309) (cessavit); Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 61 S.S. 152 (1317) (novel disseisin, waste).

118. E.g., Nota, Shropshire Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 245 (1292) (default is peremptory in personal action); Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 75, 17 S.S. 150 (1308–1309) (no plea of age); Burnel v. Beauchamp, Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 13, 20 S.S. 89 (1310) (no impleader of codefendant); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 40, 20 S.S. 125 (1310) (no exception to variance); Somery v. Burmingeham, Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 87, 22 S.S. 198 (1310) (same); Fitzanable v. Haket, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 46, 63 S.S. 230 (1311) (no aid of lord); Noreis v. Northcott, Y.B. Pasch. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 34, 33 S.S. 76 (1312) (no exception of ancient demesne). Contrary arguments appear in Anon., Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 62, 17 S.S. 128 (1308–1309) (personal plea abates, surplus co-plaintiff); Daman v. Abbot of Gloucester, Y.B. Trin. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 23, 36 S.S. 80 (1313) (wager of law only for personal actions).

119. E.g., Anon., Y.B. Hil. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 59 (1304) (trespass); Burton v. Lancaster, Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 133, 19 S.S. 59 (1308–1309) (replevin); Comyn v. Monpynson, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 52, 63 S.S. 247 (1311) (wardship); Lavington v. Seymark, Y.B. Hil. 11 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 61 S.S. 152 (1317) (waste).

120. Robert Palmer suggests that darrein presentment and the writ of right of advowson may have been the first writs to be employed successively on a regular basis. Palmer, , The Origins of Property in England, 3 Law & Hist. Rev. 1, 24 (1985).

121. The basic principle can be found variously formulated in, e.g., Bracton, fols. 103b, 112b, 328 (2:297, 319; 4:47); Casus Placitorum, no. 19, 69 S.S. 4; Warde v. Le Venur, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 17, 63 S.S. 56, 59–60 (1311); Oseville v. Keu, Northamptonshire Eyre, Y.B. 3–4 Edw. 3, 97 S.S. 406, 407–8 (1329–1330) (argument to jury). For applications, see, e.g., Anon., Stafford Eyre, Y.B. 21 Edw. 1, R.S. 439 (1293) (ne vexes and contra formam feoffmenti); Anon., Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 455, 457 (1294) (utrum and writ of right).

122. Latimer v. Thwing, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 50, 53 (1313–1314) (mort d'ancestor touched the right higher than novel disseisin); Bule v. Baker, Y.B. Trin. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 42 S.S. 85, 86 (1311) (nuper obiit and de rationabili parte).

123. Anon., Y.B. Mich. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 12, 22 S.S. 71, 72 (1310) (replevin); Fen v. Somercotes, Y.B. Mich. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 3, 19 S.S. 90, 91 (1309) (formedon); Anon., Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 243 (1304) (cosinage).

124. Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 181, 183 (1304) (waste).

125. The defendant's exception that the plaintiff was foreclosed from relitigating an issue on which judgment had already been rendered against the plaintiff was then, as now, called res judicata.

126. See, e.g., Wartone v. Anon., Y.B. Hil. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 61 (1304); Anon. v. Berkeley, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 56 (1313–1314). Cf. Adeleye v. Prior of St. John, Shropshire Eyre, Y.B. 20 Edw. 1, R.S. 281 (1292).

127. See, e.g., Scoland v. Grandison, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 27 S.S. 186 (1313–1314); Parson of Meppershall v. Prior of Chicksands, Y.B. Mich. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 34 S.S. 70 (1312–1313).

128. In certain circumstances, judgment on a writ of possession could bar a higher writ. Anon. v. Prior of Plumtone, Y.B. Trin. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 257 (1304) (ael and entry). This was something a lower writ should not be capable of doing.

129. Abbot of C. v. Earl of Warren, Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 527, 529 (1294); Marmion v. Saddler, Y.B. Hil. 8 Edw. 2, pl. 16, 41 S.S. 42 (1315).

130. See supra at nn.98–102.

131. “Christianity probably inspired the idea of something objectively right and just, that is, following the right direction,” as expressed in the term directum in use from the seventh century. Kiralfy, , Law and Right in English Legal History, 6 J. Leg. Hist. 49, 56 (1985).

132. Anon., Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 617 (1294) (a tou le jours de munde).

133. J. Inst. 4.6.1 ff.

134. W.W. Buckland, supra note 14, at 607, 674–78; Kaser, M., Roman Private Law 3739, 405 (R. Dannenbring trans. 4th ed. 1984); Thomas, J.A.C., Textbook of Roman Law 74, 89 (1976).

135. J. Inst. 4.6.16 ff.

136. Id. See Ankum, Gaius, Theophilus and Tribonian and the Actiones Mixtae, in Studies in Justinian's Institutes in Memory of J.A.C. Thomas 4–12, 14–15 (1983).

137. E. Levy, West Roman Vulgar Law: The Law of Property 219–28 (1951).

138. Id. at 238–41.

139. See, e.g., Kantorowicz, H., Studies in the Glossators of the Roman Law 199 (1938); Jolowicz, , Obligatio and Actio, 68 Law Q. Rev. 469, 478–79 (1952).

140. Bracton, fol. 102 (2:291 at n.10); J. Inst. 4.6.17; Azo, Summa Institutionum 4.6, nos. 35–36 (Venice ed. 1610). See the additions in H. Kantorowicz, Bractonian Problems 100–101 (1941).

141. Bracton, fols. 102–102b (2:292–93).

142. See supra at n.82.

143. See, e.g., E. Levy, supra note 137, at 19–20 & n.2; J.A.C. Thomas, supra note 134, at 138; M. Kaser, supra note 134, at 104, 115.

144. See the references at J.A.C. Thomas, supra note 134, at 138 n.41, and discussion, id. at 139–41.

145. A. Watson, The Law of Property in the Later Roman Republic 91–96 (1968), dates the conceptual development to an earlier point than does M. Kaser, supra note 134, at 116–17.

146. E. Levy, supra note 137, at 19–34, 61–62; M. Kaser, supra note 134, at 108.

147. M. Kaser, supra note 134, at 108, 119.

148. J. Inst. 4.6.1–2, 4.6.15, 4.15.4 & 6.

149. Dig. 43.17.1.2 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 69) (separata esse debet possessio a proprietate).

150. Dig. 44.2.14.3 (Paul, Ad Edictum 70) (in interdicto possessio, in actione [scil, in rem] proprietas vertitur).

151. Dig. 41.2.12.1 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 70) (nihil commune habet proprietas cum possessione).

152. On the glossators' predilection for “distinctions,” particularly those among actions, see H. Kantorowicz, supra note 139, at 214–16, 223.

153. Adams, & Donahue, , Introduction, in Select Canterbury Cases, 95 S.S. 7375 (1981); Cheney, M.G., Roger, Bishop of Worcester 1164–1179, at 162–64 (1980); Helmholz, R.H., Marriage Litigation in Medieval England 67, 69 (1974).

154. M. Kaser, supra note 134, at 114–15; Le Bras, , Canon Law, in Legacy of the Middle Ages 350–51 (Crump, C.G. & Jacobs, E.F. eds. 1926).

155. Ruffini, F., L'actio Spolii: Studio Storico-Giuridico 395–96, 412–24 (1889).

156. See supra at nn.43–44, 47–49. In passages added to the discussion of novel disseisin, Bracton echoed the relative character of the Roman interdict. Bracton, fol. 210b (3:136); cf. Dig. 43.16.1.30 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 69); and referenced the absolute character of the Roman vindicatio, Bracton, fol. 183b (3:68), see Tancred, Ordo Judiciarius, bk. 2, tit. 10 (F. Bergmann ed. 1842); H.G. Richardson, supra note 29, at 138–39.

157. Bracton, fol. 113b (2:321), quoting Dig. 41.2.12.1 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 70); see William of Drogheda, supra note 49, at 357; Bracton & Azo, 8 S.S. 208–209. Also Bracton, fol. 284 (3:325).

158. Professor Biancalana has recently revived the thesis that novel disseisin was introduced in Henry II's time in imitation of the canon law distinction between possessory and proprietary claims. Biancalana, supra note 57, at 475–76, 501. Even on this account, Bracton would have had to sort the rest of the writs between the two labels.

159. Bracton, fols. 434b–435 (4:351). For “mere right,” see, e.g., id. at fols. 209, 266, 267, 278b, 347 (3:132, 280, 283, 312; 4:98). A different view is presented in Turner, & Plucknett, , Introduction, in Brevia Placitata, 66 S.S. lxixlxxix (1951).

160. For dreit dreit, see, e.g., Bracton, fols. 206b, 283b, 372b, 434b (3:125, 325; 4:170, 350).

161. Some hints of the language of double right remained, e.g., Student Work-Book item 15, in Casus Placitorum, 69 S.S. lxxxvi (bref de dreit dreit); Brevia Placitata, 66 S.S. 214 (dreit dreit); Maulay v. Driby, Y.B. Mich. 1 Edw. 2, pl. 1, 17 S.S. 1, 2 (1307) (in mero iure); Bucketon v. Kynelingworth, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 22, 63 S.S. 76, 77, 90 (1311) (dreit de possession, dreit dreit); Langeton v. Workeslegh, Y.B. Trin. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 21, 81 S.S. 101, 102 (1319) (dreit simple).

162. See supra at nn. 104–6.

163. See, e.g., Ingelisthorp v. Nottesham, Y.B. Pasch. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 512, 513 (1304) (possessio et rectum separari non possunt).

164. Bracton, fols. 10b, 38b, 52b–53, 222, 223 (2:48, 121, 159; 3:166, 168); but see id. at fols. 52–52b, 244 (2:158, 3:222); cf. Dig. 41.3.4.26(27) (Paul, Ad Edictum 54); 43.3.1.8 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 54). The tenant for years was sometimes allowed possession by Bracton, e.g., Bracton, fols. 27, 44b, 160, 220b (2:92, 138; 3:13, 162), and sometimes denied it, e.g., id. at fols. 167b–168 (3:33).

165. Normanvyle v. Parson of Steytone, Middlesex Eyre, Y.B. 22 Edw. 1, R.S. 605, 609 (1294) (chose nun-corporale, la ou ne put estre mutacion de possession).

166. E.g., R. v. Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 34 Edw. 1, R.S. 191 (1306) (advowson); Birmingham v. Dean of Wolverhampton, Y.B. Mich. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 43, 52 S.S. 125, 126 (1316) (same); Merton v. Merton, Y.B. 2 Edw. 2, pl. 128B, 19 S.S. 44, 47, 48 (1308–1309) (services); Prior of Bridlington v. Grimston, Y.B. Pasch. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 3, 31 S.S. 177, 179 (1312) (homage); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 10 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 52 S.S. 74 (1316) (debt); Frowyk v. Leuekenore, Y.B. Hil. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 4, 19 S.S. 157, 162 (1310) (ward); Ingelisthorp v. Nottesham, Y.B. Pasch. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 512, 513 (1304) (villein).

167. See F. Ruffini, supra note 155, at 399–406, 412–24.

168. E.g., Lacey v. Blaby, Y.B. Mich. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 14, 19 S.S. 108, 109 (1309); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 3 Edw. 2, pl. 34, 20 S.S. 118, 119 (1310). Cf. Bracton, fols. 369b, 372, 413b (4:160, 168, 285–86).

169. J. Inst. 1.2.12; Dig. 1.5.1 (G. Inst. 1.8).

170. Hay v. Anon., Y.B. Mich. 30 Edw. 1, R.S. 53, 57 (1302) (voucher to warranty in dower) (Bereford, C.J.); Lilleburn v. Draper, Y.B. Hil. 4 Edw. 2, pl. 36, 26 S.S. 66, 68 (1310–1311) (formedon in the descender) (Bereford, C.J., or Laufer); Chamber v. Chamber, Y.B. Trin. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 10, 33 S.S. 161, 165 (1312) (writ of right) (John de Ingham), re-argued, Y.B. Mich. 7 Edw. 2, pl. 24, 36 S.S. 210, 213 (1313) (William Herle); Audley v. Deyncourt, Y.B. Trin. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 20, 36 S.S. 68, 70 (1313) (cosinage) (Bereford, C.J.). For a later example, see Anon., Y.B. Trin. 12 Edw. 3, R.S. 621, 623 (1338) (novel disseisin).

171. Dig. 50.17.126.2 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 15) (melior est causa possidentis); 50.17.128.1 (Paul, Ad Edictum 19); 50.17.154 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 70).

172. Dig. 20.1.10 (Ulpian, Ad Edictum 73) (possidentis meliorem esse condicionem); 43.33.1.1 (Julian, Digestorum 49) (possidentis condicio melior erit).

173. VI 5.12.65, in 2 Corpus Iuris Canonici col. 1124 (E. Friedberged. 1879–1881) (in pari delicto vel causa potior est conditio possidentis); see P. Stein, Regulae Iuris: From Juristic Rules to Legal Maxims 149, 155 (1966).

174. Glanvill, bk. 7, ch. 3, fol. 24v (between uncle and grandson, melior est conditio possidentis); Bracton, fols. 253b, 418–418b (3:248, 4:300–301) (between two bastards melior sit in hoc casu condicio possidentis). Cf. id. at fol. 161 (3:16).

175. The possessor of land received the benefit of the canon law rule legitimating offspring when their parents subsequently married, while the claimant seeking possession was subject to the common law rule forbidding inheritance by those born out of wedlock. See generally Barton, , Nullity of Marriage and Illegitimacy in the England of the Middle Ages, in Legal History Studies 1972 at 2849 (D. Jenkins ed. 1975).

176. See infra at n. 183–85.

177. Another favorite text of the civilians was Code J. 7.32 (on acquiring and retaining possession) (citations to Codex Iustinianus (P. Krueger ed. 1915)); H. Kantorowicz, supra note 139, at 158–59. There are hints of borrowing from Code J. 7.32.8 (Diocletian & Maximian 294) in Ingelisthorp v. Nottesham, Y.B. Pasch. 32 Edw. 1, R.S. 512, 513 (1304) (possessio et rectum separari non possunt), and of Code J. 7.32.5 (Diocletian & Maximian 290/293) (nemo causam sibi possessionis mutare possit) in Anon., Y.B. Hil. 35 Edw. 1, R.S. 435, 437 (1307).

178. Anon. v. Corbet, Y.B. Pasch. 35 Edw. 1, R.S. 467, 469 (1307).

179. J.A. Alford, Piers Plowman: A Glossary of Legal Diction 85, s.v. Legistre (1988); Clanchy, M.T., From Memory to Written Record 11, 252 (1979).

180. Code J. 3.31.11 (Arcadius & Honorius 396); Bracton, fol. 114 (2:323). Maitland credits this passage as “the most learned piece of Romanism in the whole of Bracton's treatise.” Bracton & Azo, 8 S.S. 211–13. See also Bracton, fols. 196, 372b (3:98, 4:169). On the Roman source, see E. Levy, supra note 137, at 235.

181. Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 41, 33 S.S. 97 (1312). Four or five other counsel also argued in this report, and it is possible (though I find it less plausible given the placement and substance) to read Friskeney's two brief statements as contentions for the tenant instead of the demandant.

182. Id. Another Latin tag, pedis posicio (or possessio) sufflcit vero heredi, is attributed to Justice Henry le Spigurnel in Lewis v. Monner, Kent Eyre, Y.B. 6–7 Edw. 2, 29 S.S. 90, 92, 94 (1313–1314). The thought was that the rightful heir would be seised if he entered upon a single foot of the disputed parcel. The recollection may be of Bracton's reference to the barest minimum of possession without right, an intrusion or pedem positio, Bracton, fol. 159b (3:13), or may draw more directly upon the Digest's etymology of possessio from sedibus quasi positio, “seat” or “position,” or, as some manuscripts had it, pedibus quasi pedum positio. Dig. 41.2.1.pr (Paul, Ad Edictum 54) and variants in 4 The Digest of Justinian, supra note 47, at 502 & nn. 1–2.

183. Audley v. Deyncourt, Y.B. Trin. 6 Edw. 2, pl. 20, 36 S.S. 68, 70 (1313). I interpret “imperial law” to refer to the Latin passage possessio fratris facit sororem heredem rather than to the bland passage in French that precedes it: qe veot qe leritage deit descendre a plus digne (“which says that the inheritance ought to descend to the most worthy”).

184. Id. at 70. In a writ of possession (this was cosinage), the claimant had to show descent from the “last seised,” the brother in this case, whereas in a writ of right the demandant could show descent from another ancestor (such as the father), and it was conceivable that different results could be reached.

185. Id. at 70, 76. The same point was debated in Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 33 Edw. 1, R.S. 445 (1305); Russel v. Le Lung, Y.B. Mich. 5 Edw. 2, pl. 14, 63 S.S. 41, 43 (1311) (non facit sororem heredem fratris nisi possessio prehabita); Sonde v. Chaunterel, Y.B. Pasch. 12 Edw. 2, pl. 19, 70 S.S. 150 (1319); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 19 Edw. 2, 1678 Vulgate ed. at 628 (1325). Bereford, whose position ultimately prevailed, took the maxim to mean that once the brother had entered and become seised, a sister of the whole blood would prevail over a stepbrother, and indeed the half blood would be excluded entirely. See T.F.T. Plucknett, A Concise History of the Common Law 721–22 (5th ed. 1956); A.W.B. Simpson, supra note 51, at 60–61.

186. Nov. 84 (539), 118 (543) (citations to Novellae (R. Schoell & G. Kroll eds. 1912)). The Libri Feudorum, likewise regarded as “imperial law” in this period, contain no such rule either.

187. Bracton, fols. 65–65b, 279b–280 (2:190–91, 3:314–15).

188. Britton, bk. 6, ch. 2, fols. 270b–271 (2:316–17).

189. No “maxims” on real or personal actions came to light in this research. The troublesome tag actio personalis moritur cum persona, not found in Roman law, has been traced no further back than Anon., Y.B. Mich. 12 Hen. 8, pl. 3, 1679 Vulgate ed. at fol. 11 (1520) (Latin); Anon., Y.B. Mich. 18 Edw. 4, pl. 17, 1680 Vulgate ed. at fols. 15, 16 (1478) (Latin); Anon., Y.B. Pasch. 19 Hen. 6, pl. 10, 1679 Vulgate ed. at fol. 66 (1440) (French); Arches v. Anon., Y.B. Hil. 11 Hen. 4, pl. 20, 1679 Vulgate ed. at fols. 45, 46 (1410) (French); see A.W.B. Simpson, A History of the Common Law of Contract 562–65 (1975); Mackintosh, , Actio Personalis Moritur Cum Persona, 5 Jurid. Rev. 375, 376–78 (1893); Goudy, , Two Ancient Brocards, in Essays in Legal History 215, 222–26 (P. Vinogradoff ed. 1913).

190. Plucknett, supra note 29, at 33; see also H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles, supra note 29, at 84–85.

191. Caenegem, Van, Law in the Medieval World, 49 Leg. Hist. Rev. 13, 27 (1981); Watson, A., The Making of the Civil Law 2427 (1981).

192. See J.P. Dawson, supra note 32, at 127.

193. Bernard of Chartres was the first of many, among them John of Salisbury, Alexander Neckam, Peter of Blois, and Henricus Brito, who recorded this sentiment. See Merton, R.K., On the Shoulders of Giants 177219 (1965).

194. See J.L. Barton, supra note 27, at 27–28. For possible exceptions, see Brand, supra note 7, at 162–63.

195. H.G. Richardson & G.O. Sayles, supra note 12, at 84.

196. On Roman legal method and its legacy, see generally Schulz, F., History of Roman Legal Science esp. 278–99 (1946); Lawson, supra note 12, at 189–96; Honoré, , Legal Reasoning in Rome and Today, 4 Cambrian L. Rev. 58 (1973); Frier, B.W., The Rise of the Roman Jurists esp. 184–96 (1985); Goodrich, , Historical Aspects of Legal Interpretation, 61 Ind. L.J. 331, 333–46 (1986).

197. 2 W. Blackstone, supra note 23, at 2.

198. That, as I hope to show in a later article, was a development largely accomplished by the end of the seventeenth century, after an additional period of continental civilian influence on the common law.

Bracton, the Year Books, and the “Transformation of Elementary Legal Ideas” in the Early Common Law

  • David J. Seipp

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