London, South Kensington
22 November 2002
BRACTON, Henry de (d. 1268). De legibus & consuetudinibus Angliae libri quinque in varios tractatus distincti, London: Richard Tottell, 1569. 4° (286 x 194mm.). One large woodcut initial. (Title, first and last few leaves browned or soiled, else just occasional light soiling or spotting, a few margins lightly waterstained). Late 18th-century calf. (Covers detached, worn). Provenance: Bartto. Hall (old inscription on title); old manuscript annotations in margins.
FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF BRACTON'S TREATISES ON MEDIEVAL LAW, the unknown editor signing the preface 'T.N.' and taking credit for a careful recension of the text. Portions of the text had previously appeared in other books. The Treatise of the Laws of England of circa 1533, a work traditionally attributed to John Britton, was largely derived from Bracton, while Sir William Staunderford's Plees del Coron of 1557 contained extensive quotations from the same source. Probably written between 1250 and 1260, Bracton's work was the first great exposition of English law and was cited in court up to the 18th-century. Referring in a practical manner to no less than 500 decisions of the king's judges, it moulded the common law of England into an effective form, and established the principal of precedent later followed by Littleton and Coke. Beale T323; Sweet and Maxwell I, p. 38:4; PMM 89.
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