The Formation of the Common Law: English Legal History from Alfred the Great to Magna Carta
This course examines the early history of the English Common Law and explores various approaches to legal history. We will study both medieval documents and key works of modern historical writing in order to obtain an overall picture of the chronology, processes, and causes of legal development. Following an introduction to the history of the period (no prior study of history is required) and to the use of historical sources, a combination of chronological and thematic approaches will be adopted. Key issues will be the role of royal authority in legal development; the impact of changes in literacy; changes in the nature of legal knowledge and thought; the separation of legal from other social norms; the degree to which legal change works by its own internal logic.
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