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All ages are transitional but some stand out as peculiarly favourable to sweeping change. Such a period in English history was the second quarter of the sixteenth century, when as F. W. Maitland suggested the Renaissance and Reformation might have been joined by a modified Reception of Roman Law.
This view, later dismissed as untenable, is here re-examined in the light of new evidence. The amount of business trans-acted by the king's bench and common pleas, when measured by the sealing profits on their judicial writs, reveals that these courts underwent a far longer recession than has been recognized and faced a more severe crisis in the 1520s and 1530s than Maitland's critics have allowed.
The process by which the smaller and more vulnerable court recovered is seen as a protracted and intricate exercise in salesmanship and its principal instrument, the notorious bill of Middlesex, explained in detail by reference to files pre¬viously unavailable to scholars.
This book is of interest not only to the legal historian but also to the more general reader curious to learn how those who manned one of the institutions of that period confronted problems not dissimilar to those of our own day.