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Equity and Ideas: Coke, Ellesmere, and James I*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Mark Fortier*
University of Winnipeg


This article argues that in the English legal disputes of 1616, specifically the conflict between common law and equity, the principles and systems of ideas, at least as much as the characters, of Coke, Ellesmere, and James were determinative of the triumph of equity. The first part of the essay traces the legal reasoning in the key cases of the dispute. The second part traces James's political theory from his time in Scotland through his dealings with the English Parliament to his pronouncements on the law in his Star Chamber speech of 1616. The article argues that there is a consistent line of principle which can be traced from Scotland to the Star Chamber speech and that James's thought has consequently had its most lasting effect on the relation in Anglo-American jurisprudence between common law and equity.

Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1998

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I wish to thank Jim Phillips, Louis A. Knafla, J.P. Sommerville, Mia London, and Michael Meredith for their advice on this essay.


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