British History the Majority of Nations Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2182 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Business - Law

British History

The majority of nations in the contemporary society have chosen one of two legal traditions: common law or civil law. Common law is a key concept in English society and it originates in centuries of legal history. The idea of a judge being a central player in the development of the legal system, as legal doctrine is expected to be promoted through the decision of courts. The tradition was devised in Britain during the Middle Ages and the fact that it spread in a series of British colonies meant that it would be adopted in most of the Western World.

English common law has dominated legal thinking in the Western society for approximately eight centuries now and it continues to play an important role in shaping people's opinions with regard to the law. There is much controversy regarding thus system, as many have gotten actively involved in denouncing the principles it puts across and in criticizing individuals who support these respective ideas. "For their pains they have been accused of representing an essentially feudal Charter that was motivated by self-interest and the demands of political expediency, as a constitutional document of enduring significance." (Irvine of Lairg 1)

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In order to gain a more complex understanding of English common law, one needs to concentrate on events occurring previous to its establishment. Conditions concerning the legal system in England (previous to the common law) involved individuals being presented with justice through county courts overseen by both bishops and sheriffs, with trials involving juries. The reign of Henry I brought on several reforms and the king emphasized that one of his principal goals was to end oppressive behaviors installed by previous English leaders.

TOPIC: Term Paper on British History the Majority of Nations in Assignment

Henry became king during a period when royal authority became more powerful through England and thus experienced little to no problems in establishing his point-of-view. In addition to consolidating their power, kings also saw the opportunity to begin new institutions concerning royal power and justice. "New forms of legal action established by the crown functioned through a system of writs, or royal orders, each of which provided a specific remedy for a specific wrong." (the COMMON LAW and CIVIL LAW TRADITIONS)

Courts were very rigid during Henry I and this meant that it was very difficult for them to provide justice in some cases. It was important for a more generalized legal system to be imposed in order for people across the country to have access to laws that would prevent them from experiencing particular forms of injustice. The court of equity emerged during this period as a means to provide a fairer treatment to the English. Henry I was, apparently, greatly concerned in the well-being of his subjects and he sent justices to counties in a series of occasions as he wanted to make sure that law was one of the most important concepts throughout the land.

Henry II's installment as king brought a series of changes throughout the land and one of the most significant involved putting an end to local influence on the legal system. By presenting the general public with laws that could apply to the country as a whole, Henry practically enabled individuals to understand that a 'common' law system would be more effective and that it would significantly undermine corruption. The king observed that by providing the masses with the opportunity to observe that the crown was concerned in their well-being he was more likely to attract supporters.

English common law emerged primarily because the authorities across England felt that it was impossible for justice to pervade the society as long as the legal system would not experience reform. As a consequence, Henry II and his predecessors started a massive campaign purposed to change people's thinking by enabling them to look at the idea of justice from a whole different perspective. Although it seriously undermined the authority of many English institutions and of the king himself English common law represents a serious advancement in world history and can be largely considered to be one of the main reasons why the masses throughout the country gained confidence in their own powers.

England became one of the most perfectly organized states in Europe as a consequence of the common law being introduced. Henry II's reign is practically the first period when one can observe the existence of an English common law system. A series of legal institutions came together with a set of legal rules in forming the English common law. "Although there is some evidence for royal justices visiting more than one county and holding sessions in them as early as Henry I, there can be little doubt that the General Eyre, as a systematic arrangement for the nation-wide visitation of all counties within a limited period of time by groups of royal justices possessing both civil and criminal jurisdiction and bringing royal justice to the countryside (and also with a remit to make local enquiries on the king's behalf) was indeed a creation of the reign of Henry II." (Harper-Bill & Vincent 216)

Created in 1215, the Magna Carta document is an Angevin charter that was meant to highlight several individual liberties. Its claim that a free person could not be incarcerated or penalized as long as he or she did not go through a trial involving his peers and the law of the land was one of the most intriguing concepts that the document put across. It virtually made it possible for the civilized world to acknowledge that a jury trial represented an important step in convicting an individual.

English common law influenced the English public to appreciate their leaders, but also made it possible for people to become more powerful. The Magna Carta further brought reform to the English legal system by having the King accept the fact that he needed to act in accordance with a set of laws. Barons reinforced their position in the state and convinced King John to sign the Magna Carta as a means to recover their feudal rights. The 1215 document demonstrated that it was not yet time for the King to assume control of the country without acknowledging the power of the barons. The crown and the English aristocracy saw several conflicts as a consequence of the Magna Carta through the years and each side wanted to strengthen its position by reducing the document's effect and, respectively, by making sure that the document effectively dominated the legal system.

Question 2.

The power of the aristocracy experienced significant progress as a result of documents like the Magna Carta and because kings were left with no alternative but to acknowledge the rights of the people in order to cement their position in the state. The fact that the counties were provided with the mission to send representatives to the King's Court during the Middle Ages meant that two forms of government would be brought together and that these respective representatives would be provided with the chance to restructure the system while also preserving some essential powers such as the crown.

Kings during the Middle Ages were accustomed to naming advisors that were to some extent dependant on them. Important people from across the country could represent their county in front of their leader, but their power was limited as a result of their interest in supporting the crown regardless of his or her thinking. The fact that the 1200s brought a period during which the King had to act in agreement with individuals whom he knew little to nothing about significantly changed the English political system. "This was potentially a limitation on his royal power, and the beginning of constitutional as distinct from personal monarchy." (Bond 3) This represented an important step in the advent of representative Parliament, taken into account that the aristocratic community started to be democratic in character.

In 1265 Simon de Montfort summoned representatives from all counties with the purpose of providing country with solutions to diverse problems. This was the first time when both official representatives of the counties and a group formed of bishops and barons in an organized group. These two representative elements later came to form the House of Commons. Commons relates to the term communities, as these people were representative for the counties and the boroughs. This form of the King's Court eventually came to be called the Parliament and it is meant to refer to how the group discusses diverse ideas alongside of the monarch.

While the Parliaments originates in the 1200s, it was not until Edward III that it actually came to represent a significant power in the state. The moment when the king came to throne in 1327 represented a point when representatives of counties and towns were recognized as a permanent part of Parliament. Consequent to 1332 they met in one chamber and became known as a House of Commons. Furthermore, these individuals started to deliberate separately from the king from 1341 on. "Edward III also stated his resolution that a Parliament… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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