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An account of the evolution of a distinct tradition and literature of English canon law. The study and teaching began in England in the 12th century, and during the 13th a profession of practising canonists arose. Their expertise was not confined to ecclesiastical matters in a narrow sense, but extended into such important fields as marriage and probate.
Taking the work of individual canonists in turn, from William Paull and William Bateman in the 14th century to Stephen Lushington and Sir Robert Phillimore in the 19th, Baker assesses the various contributions to this national tradition made by original thinkers, writers, compilers, editors and judges. The survival for so long of a distinct legal system parallel to the common law, which nevertheless touched in so many vital respects the lives of everyone in England, makes the story of English ecclesiastical law an essential part of English legal history.