Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Woodbine, George E., ed., Four Thirteenth Century Law Tracts (New Haven: Yale University Press) Read this source online

Text name(s): Fet Asaver; Judicium Essoniorum; Modus Componendi Brevia; Exceptiones ad Cassandum Brevia

Number of pages of primary source text: 130


Dates: 1200 - 1300

Archival Reference: 

Original Language(s): 

  • Anglo-Norman
  • Latin


  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • England


Record Types: 

  • Law - Treatise/Commentary
  • Law - Legislation

Subject Headings: 

  • Law - Crime
  • Law - Secular
  • Government


  • Introduction


In addition to the legal treatises known as Bracton and Britton, written in the thirteenth century and widely copied and circulated, smaller legal treatises were also popular. These smaller treatises were usually made from other works and appeared in manuscripts compiled for the use of English lawyers (in addition to the shorter treatises, the manuscripts often included statutes, a register of writs, portions of Year Books or Plea Rolls, and sometimes a copy of Britton ). Edited here are four of those smaller legal treatises: Fet Asaver and Exceptiones ad Cassandum Brevia — both Anglo-Norman treatises, and Judicium Essoniorum and Modus Componendi Brevia — both Latin treatises. All four treatises were at some point attributed to the jurist Ralph de Hengham, but their authorship is uncertain.

Introduction Summary: 

Woodbine’s introduction (50 pages) describes the history of English legal treatises, discusses the date and authorship of the four treatises, and compares the texts to Hengham’s Summa. Woodbine argues that the shorter legal treatises were popular not for their originality but for their utility — they were brief, concise treatments of everyday legal matters.

Cataloger: RJ