By Charles Jr. Donahue

I have been commissioned by the Oxford University Press to write the fourteenth-century volume of the new Oxford History of the Laws of England. It is going to be a big book-six to seven hundred pages. It is already overdue at the press, and I’m not nearly done even with the first draft. I have done enough, however, that it is time to ask a rather fundamental question: What am I saying? What does the mass of quite technical detail all add up to? I therefore welcomed the opportunity to give the Roy Ray Lecture so that I could step back and see if I could sketch out a big picture for people whom I will assume know nothing about fourteenth-century England and its legal system.

So what happened in the fourteenth century in England-never mind its legal system? Here, I must apologize to those who do know something about it because nothing in the next couple of pages is new. Rather, it is a selection of well-known facts that may (or may not) help to explain why the fourteenth-century English legal system was the way it was and why it developed in the way it did.

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Recommended Citation
Charles Jr. Donahue, What Happened in the English Legal System in the Fourteenth Century and Why Would Anyone Want to Know, 63 SMU L. Rev. 949 (2010)