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Latin in Medieval Britain$
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Richard Ashdowne and Carolinne White

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266083

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266083.001.0001

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The Latin of the Early English Common Law

The Latin of the Early English Common Law

(p.133) 6 The Latin of the Early English Common Law
Latin in Medieval Britain

Paul Brand

British Academy

A distinctive feature of the English royal courts created in the last quarter of the 12th century was that they kept a full record of their business in Latin and the clerks who did this developed a distinctive vocabulary to translate the Anglo-Norman French they heard in court. This paper looks at some of that Medieval Latin lexicography for the legal profession: the development of specific terms for litigants and their representatives and judges; for the writs for initiating litigation and to secure the appearance of opponents; for the plaintiff’s claim or complaint and the defendant’s defence; for the modes of proof and judgement. The chapter concludes with a more detailed examination of the specific terminology of a single action (of replevin) which allowed someone whose property had been taken in distraint to challenge the justice of an unjust distraint.

Keywords:   early English Common Law, judges, legal profession, litigation, Medieval Latin lexicography, unjust distraint

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