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How and when did the English Common Law originate? Why is it to this day so different from the law of other European countries? This book provides, against the background of the development of legal institutions in
Europe generally, a challenging interpretation of the emergence of the Common Law in Anglo-Norman England.
In his first three chapters Professor van Caenegem describes in detail the emergence and development of the central courts and the common law they administered. He traces the rise of the writ system and, after a discussion of earlier modes of proof and their limitations, the growth of the jury in twelfth-century England.
Throughout he gives. full attention to parallel developments in the Duchy of Normandy and to the controversies which have recently arisen among scholars. Pro¬fessor van Caenegem then attempts to explain why English law is so different from that of the Continent and why this divergence began in the twelfth century. He deals critically with the explanations which have been advanced, such as the role of 'English national character', but argues that chance and chronological accident played the major part and led to the paradox of a feudal law of continental origin becoming one of the most typical manifestations of English life and thought.
This section will be of particular interest at a time when, with the entry of Great Britain into the Com¬mon Market, the difference between the civil law of the Continent and the Common Law of England will constitute major problem.
This book is a work of synthesis based on a series of lectures given by Professor van Caenegem in Cambridge in 1968. The result of an intensive study of primary sources by a scholar equally at home in English and continental history, it will be of great interest to students of history and law.