Sixteenth and early seventeenth century England did not recognize the right to counsel in criminal cases. In fact, ultimate recognition of this right in 1695 was considered a special privilege bestowed at the discretion of the Crown, rather than a logical development of the common law. Under modern English law, the defendant has an absolute right to counsel, but he must also be allowed to conduct his own case as to matters of fact, leaving issues of law to counsel. It remains unclear, however, whether this concept of self-representation was a right at common law or a corollary of the right to appointed counsel.
Constitutional Law-Criminal Defendant Guaranteed Right to Self-Representation in State or Federal Courts,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol10/iss2/14