Henry de Bracton


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Bracton, Henry de,

d. 1268, English writer on law. He was the author of De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae [on the laws and customs of England], a broad, philosophic treatise that is often called the most important work on English law before that of Sir William BlackstoneBlackstone, Sir William,
1723–80, English jurist. At first unsuccessful in legal practice, he turned to scholarship and teaching. He became (1758) the first Vinerian professor of law at Oxford, where he inaugurated courses in English law.
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. Sir Edward CokeCoke, Sir Edward
, 1552–1634, English jurist, one of the most eminent in the history of English law. He entered Parliament in 1589 and rose rapidly, becoming solicitor general and speaker of the House of Commons. In 1593 he was made attorney general.
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 and others used the work in their legal arguments against the king in the English civil war.

Bibliography

See edition of De legibus by G. E. Woodbine (4 vol., 1915–42); edition of Bracton's notebook by F. W. Maitland (3 vol., 1887).

Bracton, Henry de

 

(Bratton). Date of birth unknown; died 1268. English jurist. Systematizer of 13th-century English common law.

Beginning in 1245, Bracton was a royal itinerant judge; later he was made a judge of the Court of King’s Bench. Bracton was a defender of the privileges of the feudal aristocracy. In the treatise On the Laws and Customs of England, compiled basically between 1250 and 1256, he laid the legal foundation for the attempt by the lords to strengthen and increase their exploitation of the villeins. Bracton equated the villeins with ancient Roman slaves; in accordance with this, he defined their property status and personal status on the estate.

WORKS

Bracton’s Notebook, vols. 1–3. London, 1887.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nederman returns to this adversarial approach in the last section of the book, 'Modern Receptions of Medieval Ideas', where case studies of individual writers from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries--John Fortescue, Machiavelli, Henry de Bracton, Hegel--are used to demonstrate that early thinkers were acknowledging the contribution of the Middle Ages to the formation of modern political structures long before the likes of Joseph Strayer, Ullmann, Skinner and the rest.
Secondly, and more importantly, the Digest's definition of servitude was well known to the English common law because it was precisely Henry de Bracton's definition of servitude--or villeinage, or serfdom: "Servitude is an institution of the jus gentium, by which, contrary to nature, one person is subjected to the dominion of another" (Henry de Bracton, De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae, book 1, chapter 6; edition of London 1640, f.