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The Origin of the English Constitution The Origin of the English Constitution
By George Burton Adams
2000/02 - Beard Books
158798119X - Paperback - Reprint -  394 pp.
US$34.95

Absorbing reading for all interested in history in general and constitutional history in particular.

Publisher Comments

Category: Law

This title is part of the Legal History, Constitution and International Law lists.

Of Interest:

The Framing of the Constitution of the United States

The Making of the English Legal Profession, 1800 1988

The object of this book is to show the feudal origin of the English Constitution and the role of the Magna Carta in effectuating the transition from the fundamental principle of feudalism to the modern constitution. The history of the English Constitution is the history of America as much as it is the history of England. In fact, all monarchies that have adopted a constitution have derived their forms from it, and the same is true of most republics.

From the back cover blurb:

As stated by the author, the importance of the English Constitution in the political history of mankind is so great that the question of its origin should be considered one of the greatest and most absorbing of all historical studies. The history of the English Constitution is the history of America as much as it is the history of England. The object of the book is to point out the feudal origin of the English Constitution, and to show the actual function of the Magna Carta to effect the transition of the fundamental principle of feudalism into the principle of the modern constitution. This book will prove absorbing reading for all interested in history in general, and constitutional history in particular.

Original Reviews:

From the Spectator, Vol. 109, September 12, 1912:

An excellent book.

From the English Historical Review, Vol. 27, Oct. 1912:

This book is useful in more than one respect. It summarizes clearly enough the upshot of recent researches, ... It emphasizes the feudal character of the best-known clauses in the Magna carta. And here and there we find a new point ably argued."

George Burton Adams, 1851-1925, received an A.B. degree in 1873 from Beloit College, an A.M. in 1876 from the same college, a B.D. degree in 1877 from Yale College, and a Ph.D. in 1886 from the University of Leipzig. For most of his academic career, he was Professor of History at Yale College. He authored numerous books on history, with an emphasis on English constitutional history.

Chapter I
General Introduction 1
Note A: The Limited Monarchy and the Constitution 41
Note B: Anglo-Saxon Feudalism and Political and Economic Feudalism 44
Chapter II
Institutional Introduction 55
Note A: Private Jurisdiction and the Judicial Position of the Common Freeman 90
Note B: The Lord's Cases in His Own Court 94
Note C: On Glanvill, XII.25 96
Chapter III
The First Age of Change 106
Note A: The Origin of the Court of Common Please 136
Chapter IV
The Germ of the Constitution  144
Note A: Ideal Feudalism in England 186
Note B: Feudal Legislation 194
Note C: The Feudal Contract 203
Chapter V
Magna Carta 207
Note A: The Documentary Series Which Magna Carta Opens 252
Note B: Feudal Aids 253
Note C: The Direction of Change in the Reissues of the Charter 256
Note D: Magna Carta, Clause 39 262
Chapter VI
The Immediate Results of the Magna Carta 275
Note A: The Argument for the Barons 311
Chapter VII
The End of the Period of Origin 314
Note A: The Writ of 1213 339
Appendix I
The Descendants of the Curia Regis 343
Appendix II
Henry I.'s Writ Regarding the Local Courts 350
Appendix III
London and the Commune 355
Index 371

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