Welcome to Bracton’s Sister, my Legal History site. Why Bracton’s Sister? Well, it’s a nod to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own with its notion of Shakespeare’s sister, who is just as talented, but doesn’t get the opportunities which fell to her brother, and ends up desperate, dead, forgotten.
As with literature, law was, for centuries, a male domain. It was, in fact, more exclusive, and for longer. It was certainly ‘for the boys’ during the time which interests me the most: c.1200-1500. We might wonder about the thoughts of a Judith de Bracton on the developing common law of the thirteenth century. Unlike her brother Henry, she did not have the chance of becoming a judge and reputed author/editor of an important legal treatise. There is no reason to think that she had no opinion on the growing jurisdiction in which her brother and his chums worked, though. One day, her works may be discovered. Until then, there is Bracton’s Sister.
What’s it for? The idea is that it will:
1. give some details of my current research projects;
2. note interesting new work from others which has impressed me;
3. bring a bit of legal history into more lives than could be reached by seminar and conference presentations and academic journal papers.
Legal historians don’t tend to get out much, which is a pity, because our subject is fascinating and packed with human interest, as well as the intricacies of writs and deeds. Sometimes, there’s even some humour. So the site will allow me to publicise the interest of the subject (without actually having to go out and talk to real people). Ideal. And Judith Bracton agrees.
[Jan 2021 update: look at past-me there going on about not getting out much! I knew nothing! I have been doing a bit more on this lately, and it is morphing into a collection of snippety bits from the plea rolls which please what is apparently a trivial magpie mind … ah well, I suppose self-discovery is good, and doing it is certainly keeping my morale up at the moment.]