Skip to Main Content

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

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.

Commentary on period

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