The Creighton University Law Library is proud to present its first Venteicher Rare Book Room exhibit. Featured is literature of the period that shaped England's legal system. The common law, or judge-made law, developed in England during the 12th and 13th centuries. It emerged from a mixture of tribal customs and local practices to form a coherent legal system in use today in many countries around the world including the United States. The following pieces are on display:
Although unique from the Civil law systems of other European countries, England's common law system has Roman influence. Roman law was taught and studied in the 12th century by English lawmakers of the day. Justinian's Institutes is a text that would have been part of that study. Written in 533 A.D., it was a condensed version of the great 6th century codification, Corpus Juris Civilis. Our copies of the Institutes, dated 1529 and 1546, are the oldest books in the rare book collection.
Written between 1187 and 1189, Ranulf Glanvil's Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliae or A Treatise of the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England was the first written description of common law principles and forms of actions known as writs. Glanvil served during the reign of Henry II as Chief Justiciar. Henry II's legal reforms led to a consolidation of the courts in England and the first forms of jury trials. Glanvil set out the procedures for these new legal forms and, by putting them in writing, provided direction for future lawyers and judges. On display is a copy of the 1554 first-printed-edition and a later 1573 edition of Glanvil's remarkable work.
The troubled reign of King John in 1215 tested the staying power of the legal reforms of Henry II. King John, obsessed with regaining possession of French lands, abused the strong central government and system of taxation. Out of the rebellion that ensued, emerged the Magna Carta. This document restrained the power of the crown and articulated political and civil rights. It is regarded as the first expression of constitutional principles. The rare book display includes a copy of the Magna Carta printed in various languages in 1576.
Described by Fredric Maitland as the "crown and flower of Medieval jurisprudence," Henry of Bratton's De Legisbus et Consuetudinibus Angliae or On the Laws and Customs of England was the first scholarly analysis of the common law. It established the foundational principles of common law doctrines that are still in existence today. Bracton's 13th century treatise marked the end of the early development of common law and assured its future. The treatise was long accepted as the standard legal text and was unrivaled until Blackstone's treatise five centuries later. One of the finest pieces in the rare book collection, our copy is a 1569 first edition.