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.
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)