Born: on a date unknown, at Bratton Fleming (near Barnstaple), Devon Died: 30 October 1268 (age unknown) Spouse: unmarried Occupation: churchman, lawyer
Did you know that Henry de Bracton would actually have been known as Henry of Bratton whilst he was alive? The name ‘Bracton’ was the result of misprint when his book on the laws of England was printed long after his death, in 1569.
Henry de Bracton is famous for writing a treatise [book] on the laws of England. It is the most ambitious work on English law during the middle ages. There’s only one problem - Henry de Bracton almost certainly didn’t write it! The book that is known simply as Bracton, was probably written in the 1230s by Bracton’s master, William of Raleigh, who as a judge in the king’s courts.
So does this actually mean that Henry de Bracton was nobody of any importance? Well, not quite. Although Henry de Bracton didn’t actually write the book that historians once thought he wrote, Bracton was apprenticed to the book’s author, William of Raleigh. When William of Raleigh died, he left the task of keeping his work on the laws of England up to date.
So Henry de Bracton was very knowledgeable about English law, and did at least help to write the book that historians have named after him.
Test your understanding
According to Henry de Bracton, what do the words rex and lex mean?
Incorrect answer, I’m afraid... How about asking Henry de Bracton for his view on the authority of the King?
Excellent... excellent! Yes, that is the correct answer — rex is Latin for king, lex is Latin for law. De Bracton also uses three other Latin words — Deus (God), baronum (barons) and curia (council).
Why have the barons rebelled against Henry III?
Is it because Simon de Montfort is an ambitious traitor who wants power for himself? Is he not really interested in the liberties granted by Magna Carta and is acting like a revolutionary dictator by seizing power?
Or is it Henry who cannot be trusted? Has he ruled the kingdom badly and he is also trying to get out of commitments he has made to rule according to Magna Carta and the Provisions of Oxford?
It is the view of this chronicle that the barons have rebelled against King Henry III because…
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