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Vol. 44 A Middle English Statute-Book

Part I: ‘Statuta Antiqua’. Edited from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS B 520.

Claire Fennell (ed.) 

Statute-books have been described as one of the most popular forms of secular literature in medieval England, and are the commonest form of medieval legal literature still extant. The statute-books all differ as to the choice and ordering of their contents, which generally include not only a selection of the statutes, but also a variety of related legal material aimed at explaining and illustrating them. The unedited Rawlinson MS B 520 is just such a compilation. Dating from the early years of the fourteenth century, it is the only known ME version of a medieval statute-book containing the ‘statuta antiqua’, that is, legislation dating from Magna Carta to the end of Edward II’s reign. Some 200 Latin and Anglo-Norman versions of these statute-books are still extant, but the most recent edition of almost all of the statutes goes back to 1810. This two-volume edition of Rawlinson MS B 520 will include statutes, memoranda and mnemonic notes (ff. lr – 54v) in Vol. I, tracts (ff. 54v – 97r) in Vol. II.