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Legal history: England & common law tradition: 1399-1483

Regnal years

Plantagenet dynasty tails off in a usurpation, and power struggle between two branches Houses of Lancaster & York

Henry IV 30 Sep 1399 - 20 Mar 1413

Henry V 21 Mar 1413 - 31 Aug 1422

Henry VI 1 Sep 1422 - 4 Mar 1461

Edward IV 4 Mar 1461 - 9 Apr 1483

Edward V 9 Apr 1483 - 25 June 1483

Shifting times?

1399-1483: contemporary sources

By 1610 year books for the following regnal years had been printed

  • Hen. IV & V
  • 1-20 Hen. VI
  • 21-39 Hen. VI
  • Edw. IV
  • Long Quinto (5 Edw. IV)
  • Edw. V (with Ric. III, Hen.VII & Hen. VIII)

In 1679-1680 they were reprinted in the edition which has become known as the Maynard edition.
For later generations of lawyers and legal historians this (17th publishing exercise became the standard resource - though as Professor Sir John Baker makes clear, they are not good texts.

Since then the Selden Society has extended and improved the quality of case law for these reigns via their publications.

Government & parliament

Sir John Fortescue (c.1397–1479)

A "partial" man (Lancastrian partisan), he was CJKB  from 1442 until the Yorkists gained the upper hand c1461.
He did write essays on political theory - though his phrases such as  ‘the regal power is restrained by political law’ must be read in the contemporary context.

St Eadburga's church, Ebrington: Fortescue monument (detail 2) (Mike Searle) / CC BY-SA 2.0