Monthly Archives: October 2012

Legal History Good Reads: Mantel

Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

Although I am not a fan of fictionalised history in general (it often seems like cheating – write your own story!), these two prize-winning books are worth a look for their legal historical content. They both concern Thomas Cromwell, minister to Henry VIII and involved in affairs of state and law. Cromwell himself served as Master of the Rolls, and we see appearances from a number of Lord Chancellors – Wolsey, More, Audley, Wriothesley, Gardiner, Rich, who are portrayed with varying degrees of favour. Legal issues touched upon include (of course) the divorces/ annulments and also praemunire, criminal law and magistrates. Can’t understand why Mantel chose to concentrate on the execution of Anne Boleyn rather than the Statute of Uses as the main event of 1536 though.

A small irritation was the treatment of Welsh and the Welsh. In the version I read (on a Kindle) there seemed to me, with my basic Welsh, to be a mistake, with characters wishing each other ‘pobl lwc’ rather than ‘pob lwc’ (good luck). And it was a cheap and illogical shot to have Cromwell grumbling about the Welsh talking about people in Welsh, when he had previously demonstrated an understanding of that language.

Legal History film-makers?

Attention all legal history students. Want to win some money and have something impressive for your c.v.? Check out this competition. …

Obviously you could make a film about anything, but it would be great to see a Legal History themed winner.