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In his classic article ‘English Feudalism and Estates in Land’, S.E. Thorne wrote the following concerning succession – as opposed to inheritance – in early twelfth-century England: “Now in truth military tenancies often did pass from father to son, from ancestor to heir, but that does not necessarily imply heritability. If I  hire my gardener’s son after his father’s death, and my son hires his son after him, the place as gardener has descended through three generations of the same family. Yet it is obvious that it has come to each by  gift, and that the son and grandson of my gardener can in no way be said to have inherited it. What we have is a fief held by  successive tenants in return for service, each succeeding by  gift.’ The photo shows a memorial plaque from Bodnant Gardens in north Wales, showing commemorating just such a succession. Do you know of any further such images? Or do you know of instances where such family succession to a position stretched beyond three generations?

PhD Student Dan Armstrong wins prize

Dan Armstrong was awarded the prize for the Best Poster by a PhD Student at the 42nd Battle Conference for Anglo-Norman Studies, which took place at Battle Abbey on the 19th-22nd July. He was able to attend the Conference having been granted one of the generous postgraduate bursaries awarded in honour of Muriel Brown.

Dan’s winning poster (click to enlarge)

British Legal History Conference 2019

The twenty-fourth British Legal History Conference was held in St Andrews, 10–13 July 2019. The organizing team welcomed over 200 delegates to St Salvator’s Quadrangle in St Andrews, where almost 80 speakers across 24 panels and four plenary sessions spoke about the conference’s theme ‘Comparative Legal History’.

The first day started with parallel sessions on topics in medieval, early modern and modern legal history, followed by the first keynote, given by Alice Taylor (King’s College, London), who spoke about the Scottish legal tractate Regiam Majestatem, asking the question ‘What’s does Scotland’s earliest legal tractate actually say (and what does it mean)?’. The day ended with a wine reception in Lower College Hall and sunny Sallie’s Quad.

The next morning saw everyone reconvene for the second plenary session, where Janet McLean (Auckland) presented on ‘Constitutional History, as History’. A day of parallel sessions followed, with panels on, among many other things, William Blackstone, medieval wills and testamentary cases, Scottish law, colonial and wartime law, as well as early medieval Irish and English law. Thanks to the unusually accommodating weather gods, delegates were invited to a wine reception in St John’s Garden at the Department of Medieval History, before setting off to enjoy an evening in St Andrews.

The third day started with another round of parallel sessions on late medieval English, Tudor and colonial law, before Rebecca Probert (Exeter) gave the third plenary talk: ‘What Makes a Marriage? Religion, the State, and the Individual in the Long Nineteenth Century’. The start of the afternoon was set aside for a walking tour of St Andrews, with Dr Bess Rhodes telling the fascinating medieval and Reformation story of the town. The final part of the day saw the third plenary session, which offered something different, namely legal practitioners, who spoke about legal history and their own work in various parts of the legal system. The panel was made up of Justice Geoff Lindsay from the Supreme Court of New South Wales (whose paper is available here), Lorna Drummond QC, Sheriff of Tayside and Fife, and Hector McQueen, formerly of the Scottish Law Commission.

Another evening saw another wine reception, kindly sponsored by the Journal of Legal History, before the conference dinner was held in Lower College Hall, where it was also announced that the 2021 BLHC will be held in Belfast. A tremendously successful ceilidh put a fitting end to the final full day of the conference.

After an evening of Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sergeants, delegates reconvened for a final morning of parallel sessions with papers on topics such as maritime law, divorce law and language choices in medieval law. The final plenary – and the final session of the conference – was given by Ian Williams (UCL), on ‘James VI and I, Rex et Iudex: One King as Judge in Two Kingdoms’.

Sarah White gives John Lewis Memorial Lecture (Cardiff)

Sarah White gave the annual John Lewis Memorial Lecture at the Centre for Law and Religion in Cardiff, held as part of the LLM in Canon Law. Professor John Lewis, an associate of the Centre and professor at Windsor University Ontario, taught regularly from 1993 until his death in 1999. Dr White’s lecture was about the beginnings of the canon law profession in England and focused on three individuals: Roger de Cantilupe, a lawyer from the 1240s, Richard de Clyve, a judge from the 1290s, and an unnamed lawyer, also from the 1290s. Although we know a considerable amount about legal education at the universities, the details of the men who studied and practiced law are often less well known. Using the case records from the Court of Canterbury, this lecture highlighted elements of these men’s careers – who they were, where they worked, and how they used their legal education.

Atelier Doctoral at the École Française in Rome

On February 18-23, Project director Professor John Hudson, senior researcher Professor Emanuele Conte, project post-doctoral researchers Dr Andrew Cecchinato, Dr Will Eves, Dr Attilio Stella and Dr Sarah White, and doctoral researchers Dan Armstrong and David de Concilio participated in the Atelier Doctoral at the École Française in Rome, on the theme: ‘Dal caso alla regola, dalla teoria ai fatti: alle radici della cultura giuridica europea‘.

The doctoral week provided the opportunity for PhD and early career researchers to present their research and act as discussants to papers delivered by other attendees. Professor John Hudson delivered a keynote lecture on the subject of Learning from casuistic approaches to Common Law. Dan Armstrong gave a paper entitled Politics, Law, and Ecclesiology in Anglo-Papal relations, and David de Concilio presented on the topic of Dialectic in the development of medieval legal thought: a European history.The event was attended by a number of senior scholars from around Europe, who offered advice and support to the junior scholars who were present.

The week was punctuated by a visit to Ostia Antica on Wednesday 20 February, during which the Atelier Doctoral delegates were given a guided tour of the ancient Roman site. On the evening of the 21 February, the delegates were kindly welcomed to Le Palais Farnèse, the French Embassy in Rome, and given a tour of the library of the École Française, which is located in the building.

Atelier Doctoral Programme (Click to expand)

Talking Law: The Jury on Trial

In England on 26 January 1219 a royal order was issued to the king’s travelling justices, to
put into effect the decree of a Papal Council that had the effect of abolishing trial by ordeal.
The need for a new mode of trial in criminal cases ended up with the use of jury trial, for so
long a defining characteristic of English Common Law.

On 11 February 2019, at 7pm in the Arts Lecture Theatre, the Institute of Legal and
Constitutional Research will put the institution of the jury itself on trial, with a debate on the
motion ‘This house believes that jury trial remains a virtue of the Common Law.’

Speakers will include the barrister, broadcaster and writer Harry Potter.

The event is open to the public.

7 pm on 11 February 2019 (Arts Lecture Theatre)

Talking Law: ‘The Jury on Trial’

In England on 26 January 1219 a royal order was issued to the king’s travelling justices, to put into effect the decree of a Papal Council that had the effect of abolishing trial by ordeal. The need for a new mode of trial in criminal cases ended up with the use of jury trial, for so long a defining characteristic of English Common Law.

On 11 February 2019, at 7pm in the Arts Lecture Theatre, the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research will put the institution of the jury itself on trial, with a debate on the motion ‘This house believes that jury trial remains a virtue of the Common Law.’

Speakers will include the barrister, broadcaster and writer Harry Potter.

The event is open to the public.

7 pm on 11 February 2019 (Arts Lecture Theatre)

Ordo Iudiciorum Workshop (Roma Tre) 1 December 2018

On 1 December there will be a workshop at Roma Tre University, designed to be an informal discussion on the ordo iudiciorum in theory and in practice.

It will be opened by presentations by Sarah White (St Andrews) and William Sullivan (Chicago/Harvard), who are both currently working on medieval ordines. The seminar will be bilingual: Italian and English.

One-Year Postdoctoral Research Position

Applications are invited for a one-year Research Fellowship in legal history available at the University of St Andrews from January 2019. The position is to work with Professor John Hudson on the ERC Advance Grant funded project ‘Civil Law, Common Law, Customary Law: Consonance, Divergence and Transformation in Western Europe from the late eleventh to the thirteenth centuries’ (CLCLCL). In addition to pursuing the specified research within the project, the successful applicant will be required to participate in the broader work of the project by contributing to workshops and outreach activities.

Application details may be found here:

ttps://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BNF609/research-fellow-in-medieval-legal-history-france-ar2153sb