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Henry de Bracton

Henry de Bracton

With legal treatises in short supply during the middle of the twelfth century, Henry de Bracton (c. 1210-1268), stepped forward to bring order to English jurisprudence. He is said to have authored De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (The Statute and Common Law of England).

Little is known of the early life of Henry of Bratton (Henricus de Brattona or Bractona). His exact birth date is unknown but it is believed that he was born during King John's reign, ca. 1210, in England. His death in 1268, just prior to the end of the reign of Henry III, put his lifetime during a period of enormous importance including events such as the granting of the Magna Carta and the death of Simon of Montfort, Earl of Leicester at the battle of Evesham.

He is believed to have been born in Devon where two parishes exist with the name of "Bratton," Bratton-Clovelly and Bratton-Fleming. Most authorities put his birthplace as Bratton-Clovelly, establishing the correct form of his name as Bratton, not Bracton (by which he was commonly known). He is said to have attended the University of Oxford as a youth where he received a doctor's degree in civil and cannon law.

A Legal Career

Bracton was made an itinerant judge in 1245 and from 1247 to 1250 he was an English judge of the Coram Rege ("Before the Monarch"). This later became known as the King's (or Queen's) Bench. He held this position again from 1253 to 1257. From the beginning of his judgeship in 1245 until 1267 he served as a justice in Eyre, his native Devon or other neighboring counties or held court before King Henry III. Although he continued his work on various benches, he never held placito de banco (a place on the bench) i.e., he was never permanently seated on the Bench at Westminster.

While never holding permanent position, records show that Bracton received favors from the monarch, yet he maintained an unbiased position in the courts, gaining respect and trust from both king and barons alike. He retired in 1257 but continued to serve on judicial commissions. In 1265 he became chief justiciar of England under King Henry III.

On the Laws and Customs of England

Bracton is credited with producing a long treatise on English jurisprudence, De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae, "On the Laws and Customs of England." Written in Latin, it is considered one of the oldest systematic dissertations on English common law. He expanded the common law and attempted to make sense of English law in terms of ius commune, that is, using principles derived from both civil and canon law. The substance of the piece was drawn from English law courts, while its form was from Roman law.

De legibus was an immediate success and became the forerunner to numerous other legal dissertations. The treatise was frequently used by the likes of Sir Edward Coke when preparing legal arguments against the monarchy during the civil war. It is often referred to as the most important work on English law prior to that of Sir William Blackstone in the eighteenth century. The piece was never thoroughly completed and there is doubt about Bracton's part in writing it. Some authorities believe others authored the work during the 1220s and 1230s although Bracton was the last owner of the original manuscript and he most likely made later additions.

Later Findings

The work, however, maintained its high position as the reference work of English Law for centuries. The first printed edition of De legibus appeared in a 1569 folio and was reprinted in quarto in 1640. Sir Travers Twiss issued a six-volume translation of the entire work from 1878 to 1883. A manuscript collection called the Notebook, of approximately 2,000 English law cases, evidently written by Bracton, was discovered in 1884. It was edited and published in 1887 by British legal scholar Frederic Maitland.

Later Life and Death

Like many jurists of his time, Bracton was also a ecclesiastic. In 1263 he was made archdeacon of Barnstable. That same year he left Barnstable to become chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. He remained at Exeter until his death in 1268. Bracton was buried before an altar in Exeter cathedral at which he had founded a perpetual endowment for his soul.

Books

Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Co., 1907.

Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, Infonautics Corporation, 1993.

The Hutchinson Dictionary of World History, Infonautics Corporation, 1998.

Online

"Bracton, Henry de," Funk and Wagnalls Multimedia Encyclopedia,http://www.FunkandWagnalls.com(January 17, 2001).

"Bracton, Henry de," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000,http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseinidex/3D/03D62000.htm(January 18, 2001).

"Bracton, Henry de" Encylopedia Britannica,http://www.Britannica.com.htm(January 17, 2001).

"Bracton: De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliae," http://www.Bracton'sDeLegibus.htm (January 17, 2001) □

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"Henry de Bracton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Henry de Bracton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/henry-de-bracton

Bracton, Henry de

BRACTON, HENRY DE

Henry de Bracton was a medieval jurist and priest whose masterful treatise on common law and procedure provided a framework for the early English legal system.

Bracton's famous De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (On the laws and customs of England) was a systematic explanation of english law for judges and practitioners during the reign of King Henry III. De legibus and another of Bracton's works, Note-Book, helped shape the system of case law and pleadings that began during the monarchy of King henry ii. Although reliance on Bracton's works declined as English statutory law grew, historians consider De legibus the high point of medieval legal scholarship.

Bracton's exact date of birth early in the thirteenth century is unknown. His family, whose name sometimes appears as Bratton or Bretton, owned land near Devon, England. Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the brother of King Henry III, and William de Raleigh, a prominent common-law judge, were important benefactors who helped advance Bracton's legal career.

By 1240 Bracton had the job of civil servant, a relatively lucrative position during the Middle Ages. In 1245 he was appointed to the judiciary. In 1247 he became a member of the King's Bench, where he served for ten years. After 1257 he held several assignments, including that of chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. During the Middle Ages it was not unusual for a priest to serve also as a judge.

De legibus first appeared after Bracton's death in 1268. Although the original manuscript is lost, approximately three hundred reedited and hand copied manuscripts circulated during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Intended as a guide to English law and procedure, De legibus combines aspects of Roman and canon law. Bracton was influenced by the Institutes of justinian i and by medieval textbooks of Axo, Tancred, and Raymond of Penafort. His treatise includes a section of basic principles and a section of writs and commentary. It emphasizes the development and application of case law as written by judges grappling with medieval legal questions.

Bracton's Note-Book is a compendium of two thousand judicial opinions. Some historians believe that other medieval jurists contributed to the work, which was discovered in 1884. Note-Book was edited by frederic w. maitland and published in 1887.

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"Bracton, Henry de." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bracton, Henry de." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-henry-de

"Bracton, Henry de." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-henry-de

Bracton, Sir Henry

Bracton, Sir Henry (c.1210–68). Bracton, ‘the flower and crown of English Jurisprudence’ (Maitland) and one of the greatest writers on the common law, was born in Devon and became the dean of Exeter cathedral, where he is buried. He served during the reign of Henry III as a justice in Eyre and a justice of King's Bench, but his fame rests on his great work De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (‘On the Laws and Customs of England’). This remarkable work is one of the most important books in English legal history. It was much influenced by notions of canon law and Roman law, which at this time was being ‘received’ in many European countries. But Bracton's authorship of De legibus is now doubted and it has been suggested that most of the book was written by others, and merely revised by Bracton himself.

Maureen Mulholland

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"Bracton, Sir Henry." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bracton, Sir Henry." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-sir-henry

"Bracton, Sir Henry." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-sir-henry

Bracton, Henry de

Henry de Bracton, 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 Blackstone. Sir Edward Coke and others used the work in their legal arguments against the king in the English civil war.

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).

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"Bracton, Henry de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bracton, Henry de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-henry-de

"Bracton, Henry de." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bracton-henry-de