Legal History

History of legal systems and codified law through the ages

Brits balk at paying Henry's "Deer Tax"

500 years ago, merchants abutting Bushy Park in London were required to pay a "deer tax," a compensation for any deer which left the park. Today, the tax is still in effect and taxpayers are getting restless.

The loggia as focus of medieval cultural life

In a recent article for the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Kim Sexton, an associate professor in the University of Arkansa's Fay Jones School of Architecture, looks at the loggia as a center for social interaction and legal issues.

Byzantine Gospel of Mark a forgery say scientists

A recent scientific study of the Archaic Mark, a 44-page codex, believed to be "an important witness to the early text of the gospel," has been proven to be a 19th century forgery according to a team of experts from the university of Chicago.

New book looks at role of women in Carolingian society

History professor Valerie Garver knows that women faced challenges in the medieval world, but believes that they still played an important role in the world of Charlemagne. Garver's book, Women and Aristocratic Culture in the Carolingian World has been published by Cornell University Press.

Scottish Archaeology Month celebrates pirates

Two Scottish pirates, executed in Aberdeen in 1597, were the subject of the recent Scottish Archaeology Month. The stories of Robert Laird and John Jackson were to be told as part of the re-enactment Tales from the Tolbooth.

Law firm recognizes "historic value" of ancient deeds

John Ward, of the wills and estates planning department at Napthens, in Winckley Square, Preston, England, was delighted to be able to be able to handle a recent find at the law firm: the property deeds establishing poor houses, and property deeds dating to the 1550s.

18 million parish records to be published online by ancestry.co.uk

In the mid-16th century, Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's vicar-general, began the collecting of London parish records. Now 18 million of these records will be available on the ancestry.co.uk website.

Workers puzzled over medieval document found in cabinet drawer

Staff at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario are scratching their heads over the discovery of a mid 13th century legal document found at the bottom of a university filing cabinet.

Sale of 16th century torture devices to benefit Amnesty International

"Shame masks," "tongue tearers," and "witch-hunters" are among the 250 items of torture dating to the 16th century to be auctioned by New York's Guernsey's auction house. The items, from a privately-owned collection, will be sold, with the proceeds going to "Amnesty International and other organizations committed to preventing torture."

Mark S. Weiner receives Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Iceland

Law professor and legal history scholar Mark S. Weiner, who currently teaches at Rutgers School of Law-Newark, has received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach and undertake research at the University of Akureyri, Iceland. The fellowship will begin in the fall of 2009.

Magna Carta Viewer offers in depth look at England's historic past

Visitors to the British Library's Treasures in Full: Magna Carta website are invited to enjoy an in-depth look at the document through the use of Magna Carta Viewer, a Shockwave plugin, which can be downloaded free from the Adobe website. The site also includes a simple, clickable website that allows viewers to zoom in for a closeup look.

Sherwood "infested" by Robin Hood?

According to a 15th century history book, Robin Hood may not have been as popular with the common people as believed. According to art historian Julian Luxford, Robin and his merry men "infested" Sherwood Forest with their thieving ways.

Thousands of historical documents lost in building collapse

The City Archives building in Cologne, Germany collapsed unexpectedly on March 3, 2009. Six stories of archival storage were destroyed, including documents dating from the 10th century and the minutes of Cologne town council meetings recorded in an unbroken line back to 1376.

The last of the Cagot people traces her roots

No one seems to remember why the French repressed the Cagot people for nearly one thousand years. Now Marie-Pierre Manet-Beauzac, the last of the bloodline, is attempting to uncover the truth about a persecuted people. Sean Thomas of the Independent has the story.

Knights Templar demand redress from the Pope

700 years after the Knights Templar were eradicated by the Catholic Church, the Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has launched a court case in Spain demanding that the Church exonerate the Order and return assets worth EU€100bn.

Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 online

A fully-searchable database chronicling the proceedings of the Scottish Parliaments from 1235 up to 1707 is now available online.

Scottish Parliament Archive launched

An online archive of the proceedings of the original Scottish Parliament from its first surviving act of 1235 to its dissolution in 1707 has been launched.

12th century "Hoodies" terrorized medieval London

According to historian Professor Robert Bartlett, youth gangs are nothing new. They existed in 12th century London and wore hooded garments which hid their identities during rampages.

Mary Queen of Scots warrant will remain in England

A copy of the warrant calling for the execution of Mary Queen of Scots will remain in England thanks to donations and a law hoping to keep important documents in the country. The warrant had been scheduled to be sold to a private buyer and taken overseas.

Remains of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger identified at Hulton Abbey

Archaeologists believe that they have identified mutilated remains found at Hulton Abbey as those of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, reputed to have been the lover of Edward II. The remains were first discovered in the 1970s.

700-year-old Magna Carta to be displayed at the National Archives

Starting March 12, 2008, a handwritten copy of the Magna Carta will go on display at the West Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington DC.

Domesday Book online

For the first time, those wishing to do research on medieval England online will have access to one of the best resources, William the Conqueror's Domesday Book.

"Magna Carta and the World of King John" at Penn State

The Magna Carta will be the focus of this year's Medieval Conference at Pennsylvania State University March 28-29, 2008. The conference will "examine various groups and institutions of that society, in attempt to fill in the background of the Great Charter: the world of King John, and additional sessions will deal with teaching about Magna Carta and its time period.

Medieval Trivia

Medieval Trivia is a list for SCA, other related reenactment groups, and just general folk focusing on but not limited to Medieval Trivia and general "Gee-Whiz" information (not to mention sometimes humor) about both the Middle Ages and Renaissance period.

Saxon cemetery offers grisly findings

In-depth examination of a Saxon cemetery in East Yorkshire has given archaeologists some insight into the society's system of justice with the study of a dozen decapitated skeletons.

Magna Carta sale brings more than US$21.3 million

An early copy of the Magna Carta, sold recently at auction, has brought over US$21 million. The documents was purchased by David Rubinstein, a founder of the Carlyle Group.

Britain's top ten stupid laws

A recent survey taken in Great Britain determines the country's ten most obsolete - or downright stupid - laws. Included was the one that prohibits the eating of mince pies on Christmas Day, and several that date from the Middle Ages.

Vatican publishes documents from Knights Templar heresy trials

The Vatican is finally publishing Processus Contra Templarios, the report from the heresy trials of the Knights Templar that was lost in the Vatican secret archives for 700 years due to a filing error.

Magna Carta to be auctioned

A rare copy of the Magna Carta could bring as much as US$30 million when it is auctioned in New York by Sotheby's in December 2007. The 1297 copy is one of only 20 reissued by King Edward I.

Genghis Khan enforced ban on gay lifestyle

Chinese experts at the Research Institute of Ancient Mongolian Laws and Sociology in Inner Mongolia have determined that Genghis Khan's code of laws may have contained the earliest recorded ban on homosexuality.