Reports of Cases in the Court of Chancery in the Middle Ages (1325 to 1508)
Reports of Cases in the Court of Chancery in the Middle Ages, 1325-1508. Dog Ear Publishing, 2016. 309 pages, hardcover, $25 (shipping not included).
Available online from:
If the history of the law is to be properly written, it must be based upon the primary legal sources. One of the primary source materials of the law is the reports of cases. These are particularly important because here is the best evidence of the judges' legal reasoning. The court records kept by the clerks of the courts do not give this information as, indeed, it is not their purpose to do any more than record the results of a particular lawsuit for future use. They primarily serve the purpose of res judicata; their value as judicial precedent is secondary and tangential. The main purpose of the law reports, on the other hand, is to record the judges' opinions, both holding and dicta, for future use as legal precedents. Note that the records are official documents, but the reports are mere private compilations.
The major problem for historians of the medieval Court of Chancery is that its official records of orders and decrees do not begin until 1534, in the middle of the reign of Henry VIII, the first renaissance king of England. Thus, the law reports of cases in the medieval Court of Chancery are of particular value. Therefore, this book presents an English edition of them, and it is hoped that these primary sources of the law in this court will be useful to the future scholars who may pursue the history of the English Court of Chancery.