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Law, Liberty and the Constitution
Title Details

362 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

18 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press

Law, Liberty and the Constitution

A Brief History of the Common Law

by Harry Potter

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  • Reviews
A new approach to the telling of legal history, devoid of jargon and replete with good stories, which will be of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the common law - the spinal cord of the English body politic.
Throughout English history the rule of law and the preservation of liberty have been inseparable, and both are intrinsic to England's constitution. This accessible and entertaining history traces the growth of the law from its beginnings in Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. It shows how the law evolved from a means of ensuring order and limiting feuds to become a supremely sophisticated dispenser of justice and the primary guardian of civil liberties.This development owed much to the English kings and their judiciary, who, in the twelfth century, forged a unified system of law - predating that of any other European country - from almost wholly Anglo-Saxon elements. Yet by theseventeenth century this royal offspring - Oedipus Lex it could be called - was capable of regicide. Since then the law has had a somewhat fractious relationship with that institution upon which the regal mantle of supreme power descended, Parliament.
This book tells the story of the common law not merely by describing major developments but by concentrating on prominent personalities and decisive cases relating to the constitution, criminal jurisprudence, and civil liberties. It investigates the great constitutional conflicts, the rise of advocacy, and curious and important cases relating to slavery, insanity, obscenity, cannibalism, the death penalty, and miscarriages of justice. The book concludes by examining the extension of the law into the prosecution of war criminals and protection of universal human rights and the threats posed by over-reaction to national emergencies and terrorism. Devoid ofjargon and replete with good stories, Law, Liberty and the Constitution represents a new approach to the telling of legal history and will be of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the common law - the spinal cordof the English body politic.

Harry Potter is a former fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and a practising barrister specialising in criminal defence. He has authored books on the death penalty and Scottish history andwrote and presented an award-winning series on the history of the common law for the BBC.
"An enjoyable read." PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY
"Potter lacerates the jargon and marches through a long timeline to produce a slim, superbly written account of the common law." LAW SOCIETY GAZETTE
"Full of triumphs, tragedies, comedies, accidents and unintended consequences [with] an immense cast of characters. ... [A] lively and opinionated book." TIMES
"Harry Potter has a way with words...which make his books impossible to put down...If you need a good introduction to legal history (all students of English history do), then read this book." FACHRS NEWSLETTER

Paperback

9781783275038

March 2020

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Ebook (EPUB)

9781782045236

June 2019

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Ebook (EPDF)

9781782044819

June 2019

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Title Details

362 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

18 b/w. Illustrations

Imprint: Boydell Press