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Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 1

A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765-1769

Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769) stands as the first great effort to reduce the English common law to a unified and rational system. Blackstone demonstrated that the English law as a system of justice was comparable to Roman law and the civil law of the Continent. Clearly and elegantly written, the work achieved immediate renown and exerted a powerful influence on legal education in England and in America which was to last into the late nineteenth century. The book is regarded not only as a legal classic but as a literary masterpiece.

Previously available only in an expensive hardcover set, Commentaries on the Laws of England is published here in four separate volumes, each one affordably priced in a paperback edition. These works are facsimiles of the eighteenth-century first edition and are undistorted by later interpolations. Each volume deals with a particular field of law and carries with it an introduction by a leading contemporary scholar.

In his introduction to this first volume, Of the Rights of Persons, Stanley N. Katz presents a brief history of Blackstone’s academic and legal career and his purposes in writing the Commentaries. Katz discusses Blackstone’s treatment of the structure of the English legal system, his attempts to justify it as the best form of government, and some of the problems he encountered in doing so.

496 pages | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1979

Law and Legal Studies: Legal History

Table of Contents

Section 1. On the Study of the Law
Section 2. Of the Nature of Laws in general
Section 3. Of the Laws of England
Section 4. Of the Countries Subject to the Laws of England
Book I - Of the Rights of Persons
1. Of the absolute Rights of Individuals
2. Of the Parliament
3. Of the King, and his Title
4. Of the King’s royal Family
5. Of the Councils belonging to the King
6. Of the King’s Duties
7. Of the King’s Prerogative
8. Of the King’s Revenue
9. Of Subordinate Magistrates
10. Of the People, whether Aliens, Denizens, or Natives
11. Of the Clergy
12. Of the Civil Staff
13. Of the Military and Maritime States
14. Of Master and Servant
15. Of Husband and Wife
16. Of Parent and Child
17. Of Guardian and Ward
18. Of Corporations

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