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  • Legal history

    Legal history

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    • Legal history by country

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    • Legal history by issue

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    • Ancient Near East law

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    • Canon law history

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    • Common law

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    • Constitutional history

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    • Former courthouses

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    • Defunct constitutions

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    • Defunct courts

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    • Defunct law firms

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    • Early Modern law

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    • History of law enforcement

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    • Historical legal occupations

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    • Historical legislatures

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    • Legal historians

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    • Medieval law

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    • Overturned convictions

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    • People convicted under a bill of attainder

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    • Political charters

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    • Proposed laws

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    • Law reform

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    • Repealed legislation

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    • Roman law

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    • Sources of law

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    • Trials by combat

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    • Works about legal history

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    • Legal history

    • Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law has evolved and why it changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilisations and is set in the wider context of social history. Among certain jurists and historians of legal process, it has been seen as the recording of the evolution ... Read »


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    • List of ancient legal codes

    • The legal code was a common feature of the legal systems of the ancient Middle East. The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100-2050 BC), then the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), are amongst the earliest originating in the Fertile Crescent. In the Roman empire, a number of codifications were developed, such as t ... Read »


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    • Antejuramentum

    • Antejuramentum, and præjuramentum, historically called juramentum calumniæ (literally, "oath to accuse falsely"), is an oath which both the accuser and accused were obliged to make before any trial or purgation. The accuser was to swear that he would prosecute the criminal, and the accused was to make oath on th ... Read »


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    • Apage

    • Apage is an Ancient Greek word (ἄπαγε, Imperative of ἀπάγω, “lead away”) and means: ... Read »


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    • Assumpsit

    • Assumpsit ("he has undertaken", from Latin, assumere), or more fully, the action of assumpsit, was a form of action at common law. The origins of the action can be traced to the 14th century, when litigants seeking justice in the royal courts turned from the writs of covenant and debt to the trespass on the case. Thro ... Read »


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    • Assyrian law

    • Assyrian law was very similar to Sumerian and Babylonian law, although the penalties for offenses were generally more brutal. The first copy of the code to come to light, dated to the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I, was discovered in the course of excavations by the German Oriental Society (1903–1914). Three Assyrian ... Read »


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    • Attachiamenta bonorum

    • Attachiamenta bonorum, in ancient law books, denotes an attachment of chattels to recover a personal debt or estate. ... Read »


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    • Bill of attainder

    • A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder or bill of pains and penalties) is an act of a legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them, often without a trial. As with attainder resulting from the normal judicial process, the effect of such a ... Read »


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    • Brigandage

    • Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder. A brigand is a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery. The brigand is supposed to derive his name from the Old French , which is a form of the Italian brigante, an irregular or partisan soldier. There ... Read »


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    • Brocard (law)

    • A brocard is a legal principle expressed in Latin (and often derived from past legal authorities or Roman Law), which is traditionally used to express concisely a wider legal concept or rule. The name comes from the Latinized name of Burchard (died 1025), bishop of Worms, Germany, who compiled 20 volumes of Ecclesiasti ... Read »


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    • Byzantine law

    • Byzantine law was essentially a continuation of Roman law with increased Christian influence. Most sources define Byzantine law as the Roman legal traditions starting after the reign of Justinian I in the 6th century and ending with the Fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. Though during and after the European R ... Read »


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    • Legal history of the Catholic Church

    • The legal history of the Catholic Church is the history of the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West much later than Roman law but predating the evolution of modern European civil law traditions. The history of Latin canon law can be divided into four periods: the jus antiquum, the jus novum, the jus ... Read »


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    • Legal history of China

    • The origin of the current law of the People's Republic of China can be traced back to the period of the early 1930s, during the establishment of the Chinese Soviet Republic. In 1931 the first supreme court was established. Though the contemporary legal system and laws have no direct links to traditional Chinese law, th ... Read »


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    • Traditional Chinese law

    • Traditional Chinese law refers to the laws, regulations and rules used in China up to 1911, when the last imperial dynasty fell. It has undergone continuous development since at least the 11th century BC. This legal tradition is distinct from the common law and civil law traditions of the West – as well as Islamic ... Read »


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    • Chinese law

    • Chinese law is one of the oldest legal traditions in the world. In the 20th and 21st century, law in China has been a complex mix of traditional Chinese approaches and appropriation of Western conventions. For most of the history of China, its legal system has been based on the Confucian philosophy of social control t ... Read »


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    • Common informer

    • Common Informers Act 1951

      The Common Informers Act 1951 (14 & 15 Geo. 6, c. 39) is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that abolishes the principle of, and procedures concerning a common informer. A common informer was a person who provided evidence on criminal trials or prosecuted for breaches of Irish penal laws solely for the purpos ... Read »


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    • Common land

    • Common land is land owned collectively by a number of persons, or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel. A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others ... Read »


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    • Common law

    • Common law (also known as case law or precedent) is law developed by judges, courts, and similar tribunals, stated in decisions that nominally decide individual cases but that in addition have precedential effect on future cases. Common law is a third branch of law, in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes whi ... Read »


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    • Common scold

    • In the common law of crime in England and Wales, a common was a type of public nuisance—a troublesome and angry woman who broke the public peace by habitually arguing and quarrelling with her neighbours. The Latin name for the offender, communis rixatrix, appears in the feminine gender and makes it clear that onl ... Read »


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    • Compurgation

    • Compurgation, also called wager of law and oath-helping, was a defence used primarily in medieval law. A defendant could establish his innocence or nonliability by taking an oath and by getting a required number of persons, typically twelve, to swear they believed the defendant's oath. From Latin, com = with, purgare = ... Read »


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    • Condaghe

    • A condaghe (also condache, condake, condaxi or fundaghe), from the medieval Sardinian term kondake (from Byzantine Greek κοντάκιον, kontákion, "the pole around which a scroll is wound"), was an administrative document in use in Sardinia between the 11th and 13th centuries. They are one of ... Read »


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    • Coram nobis

    • The writ of coram nobis (also known as writ of error coram nobis, writ of coram vobis, or writ of error coram vobis) is the name of a legal order allowing a court to correct its original judgment upon discovery of a fundamental error which did not appear in the records of the original judgement’s proceedings and w ... Read »


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    • Crime against nature

    • The crime against nature or unnatural act has historically been a legal term in English-speaking states identifying forms of sexual behavior not considered natural or decent and are legally punishable offenses. Sexual practices that have historically been considered to be "crimes against nature" include anal sex and be ... Read »


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    • Dancing ban

    • Dancing bans, legal or religious prohibitions against dancing, have been applied at various times in various jurisdictions around the world. Even more controversial than recreational or artistic dancing have been sexually suggestive forms such as lap dancing, topless dancing, and rave dancing. In Islam, Salafists ... Read »


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    • Death by a Thousand Cuts (book)

    • Death by a Thousand Cuts

      Death by a Thousand Cuts is a book by the historians Timothy Brook and Gregory Blue and scientific researcher Jérôme Bourgon which examines the use of slow slicing or lingchi, a form of torture and capital punishment practised in mid- and late-Imperial China from the tenth century until its abolition in 1905. ... Read »


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    • Debtors' prison


    • Dhammasattha

    • Dhammasattha "treatise on the law" is the Pali name of a genre of literature found in the Indianized kingdoms of Western mainland Southeast Asia (modern Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, and Yunnan) principally written in Pali, Burmese, Mon or the Tai languages or in a bilingual nissaya or literal Pali translation (Burm ... Read »


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    • Dishu system

    • Dishu (Chinese: 嫡庶) was an important legal and moral system involving marriage and inheritance in ancient China. In pre-modern eras, upper-class men in ancient China, Korea and Japan often had more than one spouse to ensure the birthing of a male heir to their assets and titles. In China, a priority system w ... Read »


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    • Megullia Dotata

    • Megullia, surnamed Dotata ('richly dowered'), was an ancient Roman noblewoman. Megullia is one of the one hundred and six subjects of Giovanni Boccaccio’s On Famous Women (De mulieribus claris, 1362). She is famous (as Boccaccio says) "more through the lavishness of her ancestors than through the worthiness o ... Read »


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    • Eight Deliberations

    • Eight Deliberations (simplified Chinese: 八议; traditional Chinese: 八議; pinyin: Bā Yì), also translated as Eight Considerations, Eight Discussions, Eight Discussed Cases or Eight Precedents, was a set of principles used by traditional Chinese law in order to lessen legal punishment on the royalt ... Read »


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    • Ejectment

    • Ejectment is the common law term for civil action to recover the possession of or title to land. It replaced the old real actions as well as the various possessory assizes. Though still used in some places, the term is now obsolete in many common law jurisdictions, in which possession and title are contested via the ac ... Read »


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    • Execution by elephant

    • Execution by elephant was a common method of capital punishment in South and Southeast Asia, particularly in India, where Asian elephants were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The animals were trained and versatile, able to kill victims immediately or to torture them slowly over a pro ... Read »


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    • Eye for an eye

    • "An eye for an eye", or the law of retaliation, is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree, or in softer interpretations, the victim receives the [estimated] value of the injury in compensation. The principle is sometimes referred using the Latin term lex talio ... Read »


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    • Fee tail

    • In English common law, fee tail or entail is a form of trust established by deed or settlement which restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate in real property and prevents the property from being sold, devised by will, or otherwise alienated by the tenant-in-possession, and instead causes it to pass automatically ... Read »


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    • Feoffment

    • In the Middle Ages, especially under the European feudal system, feoffment or enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of title in land by a system in which a landowner would give land to one person ... Read »


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    • Glossator

    • The scholars of the 11th and 12th century legal schools in Italy, France and Germany are identified as glossators in a specific sense. They studied Roman Law based on the Digestae, the Codex of Justinian, the Authenticae (an abridged Latin translation of selected constitutions of Justinian, promulgated in Greek after t ... Read »


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    • Grazing rights

    • Grazing rights is a legal term referring to the right of a user to allow their to feed (graze) in a given area. Though grazing rights have never been codified in United States law, the concept of such rights descends from the English concept of the commons, a piece of land over which people, often neighboring lan ... Read »


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    • History of the legal profession

    • The earliest people who could be described as "lawyers" were probably the orators of ancient Athens (see History of Athens). However, Athenian orators faced serious structural obstacles. First, there was a rule that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases, which was soon bypassed by the increasing tenden ... Read »


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    • Inquisitorial system

    • An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense. Inquisitorial systems are used ... Read »


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    • Intestacy

    • Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration. Alternatively this may also apply where a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of the estate; the remaining estate forms the "intestate estate". Intestacy law, also referr ... Read »


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    • Law of Jersey

    • The Law of Jersey has been influenced by several different legal traditions, in particular Norman customary law, English common law and modern French civil law. The Bailiwick of Jersey is a separate jurisdiction from that of the United Kingdom, and is also distinct from that of the other Channel Islands such as Guernse ... Read »


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    • Jus commune

    • Jus commune or ius commune is Latin for "common law" in certain jurisdictions. It is often used by civil law jurists to refer to those aspects of the civil law system's invariant legal principles, sometimes called "the law of the land" in English law. While the ius commune was a secure point of reference in continental ... Read »


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    • Law school of Beirut

    • Law school of Beirut

      The law school of Beirut (also known as the law school of Berytus and the school of Roman law at Berytus) was a center for the study of Roman law in classical antiquity located in Beirut (Latin: Berytus). It flourished under the patronage of the Roman emperors and functioned as the Roman Empire's preeminent center of j ... Read »


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    • Legal humanists

    • The legal humanists were a group of scholars of Roman law, which arose in 16th century France (Bourges) as a reaction against the Commentators. They had a general disdain for the Middle Ages and felt nothing good could come from then. They also had a great love of antiquarianism and were greatly concerned with the auth ... Read »


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    • Legist

    • A Legist, from the Latin lex 'law', is any expert or student of law. It was especially used since the Carolingian dynasty for royal councillors who advised the monarch in legal matters, and specifically helped base its absolutist ambitions on Roman Law. More generally they were teachers of civil or Roman law, who, bes ... Read »


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    • Medieval Scandinavian law

    • Medieval Scandinavian law, a subset of Germanic law, was originally memorized by lawspeakers, but after the end of the Viking Age they were committed to writing, mostly by Christian monks after the Christianization of Scandinavia. Initially they were geographically limited to minor jurisdictions (lögsögur), and t ... Read »


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    • Merism

    • In law, a merism is a figure of speech by which a single thing is referred to by a conventional phrase that enumerates several of its parts, or which lists several synonyms for the same thing. In rhetoric a merism is the combination of two contrasting words, to refer to an entirety. For example, when we mean to say th ... Read »


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    • Metaconstitution

    • A metaconstitution is a set of pre-constitutional rules. It is in lieu of a formalized constitution and consists of accepted axiomatic policy. The constitution is similar to or developed from this. A metaconstitution is also less binding, and can be used to a less rigid form of government. To many nations, the metacons ... Read »


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    • Mischief rule

    • The mischief rule is one of three rules of statutory interpretation traditionally applied by English courts. The other two are the "plain meaning rule" (also known as the "literal rule") and the "golden rule". The main aim of the rule is to determine the "mischief and defect" that the statute in question has set out t ... Read »


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    • Mitra

    • *Mitra is the reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian name of an Indo-Iranian divinity from which the names and some characteristics of Rigvedic Mitrá and Avestan Mithra derive. The names (and occasionally also some characteristics) of these two older figures were subsequently also adopted for other figures: Both Ved ... Read »


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    • Oath

    • Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon , also called plight) is either a statement of fact or a promise with wording relating to something considered sacred as a sign of verity. A common legal substitute for those who conscientiously object to making sacred oaths is to give an affirmation instead. Nowadays, even when ... Read »


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    • Oral law

    • An oral law is a code of conduct in use in a given culture, religion or community application, by which a body of rules of human behaviour is transmitted by oral tradition and effectively respected, or the single rule that is orally transmitted. Many cultures have an oral law, while most contemporary legal systems hav ... Read »


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    • Outlaw

    • In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute or kill them. Outlawry was thus one of the harshest penalties in the legal system. In early Germanic law, the ... Read »


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    • Paraphernalia

    • Paraphernalia most commonly refers to a group of apparatus, equipment, or furnishing used for a particular activity. For example, an avid sports fan may cover his walls with football and/or basketball paraphernalia. In legal parlance, "paraphernalia" is a term of art from older family law. The word "paraphernalia" ... Read »


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    • Porphyrogeniture

    • Porphyrogeniture, also sometimes referred to as born to the purple, is a system of political succession that favours the rights of sons born after their father has become king or emperor, over older siblings born before their father's ascent to the throne. Examples of this practice include Byzantium and the Nupe Kingd ... Read »


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    • Posse comitatus

    • Posse comitatus is the common-law or statute law authority of a county sheriff, or other law officer, to conscript any able-bodied man to assist him in keeping the peace or to pursue and arrest a felon, similar to the concept of the "hue and cry." Originally found in English common law, it is generally obsolete; howeve ... Read »


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    • Postglossator

    • The postglossators or commentators formed a European legal school which arose in France in the fourteenth century. They form the highest point of development of medieval Roman law. The school of the glossators in Bologna lost its vitality, resulting in the rise of a new school of legal thought in the 14th century, cen ... Read »


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    • Pragmatic sanction

    • A pragmatic sanction is a sovereign's solemn decree on a matter of primary importance and has the force of fundamental law. In the late history of the Holy Roman Empire it referred more specifically to an edict issued by the Emperor. When used as a proper noun, and the year is not mentioned, it usually refers to the P ... Read »


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    • Primogeniture

    • Primogeniture (English pronunciation: /praɪməˈdʒɛnáµ»tʃər/) is the right, by law or custom, of the legitimate, son to inherit his parent's entire or main estate, in preference to daughters, elder illegitimate sons, younger sons and collateral relatives. The son of a deceased elder brother inher ... Read »


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    • Printing patent

    • The printing patent or printing privilege was a precursor of modern copyright. It was an exclusive right to print a work or a class of works. The earliest recorded printing privilege dates from 1469, giving John of Speyer a five year monopoly on all printing in Venice. In 1495, the city-state granted another monopoly ... Read »


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    • Private jurisdiction

    • Private jurisdiction is the right of an individual or a legal entity to establish courts of law. It was prevalent during feudalism. A franchise, such as a corporation, a jurisdiction, or a right to collect certain tolls or taxes, was, in effect, a kind of property: an "incorporeal hereditament". Under English law inco ... Read »


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    • Privilege (legal ethics)

    • A privilege is a certain entitlement to immunity granted by the state or another authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. Land-titles and taxi medallions are pronounced examples of transferable privilege. These can be revoked in certain circumstances. In modern democratic states, a pr ... Read »


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    • Reading law

    • Reading law is the method by which persons in common law countries, particularly the United States, entered the legal profession before the advent of law schools. This usage specifically refers to a means of entering the profession (although in England it is still customary to say that a university undergraduate is "re ... Read »


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    • Reception statute

    • A reception statute is a statutory law adopted as a former British colony becomes independent, by which the new nation adopts (i.e. receives) pre-independence English common law, to the extent not explicitly rejected by the legislative body or constitution of the new nation. Reception statutes generally consider the En ... Read »


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    • Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy

    • "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" is one of the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible. The full text of the commandment reads: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any wor ... Read »


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    • Rogatio

    • In Roman constitutional law, rogatio is the term (from Latin rogo, "ask, place a question before") for a legislative bill placed before an Assembly of the People in ancient Rome. The rogatio procedure underscores the fact that the Roman senate could issue decrees, but was not a legislative or parliamentarian body. Only ... Read »


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    • Scholia Sinaitica

    • The Scholia Sinaitica are fragments of a work of Roman law written in Greek, dating between 438 and 529 AD, containing comments to the books 35-38 of Ulpian's ad Sabinum treatise. The papyrus fragments that show parts of the work were discovered by the Greek scholar Gregorios Bernardakis in the 19th century in a Mount ... Read »


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    • Section 377

    • Section 377 of the penal code in 42 former British colonies criminalizes anal sex between men and other homosexual acts. The provision was introduced by British colonial authorities in the British Raj as section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and was used as the model for sodomy laws in many other British colonies, in m ... Read »


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    • Seduction (tort)

    • The tort of seduction was a civil wrong or tort in common law legal systems, and still exists in some jurisdictions. An unmarried woman could sue on the grounds of seduction to obtain damages from her seducer, if her consent to sex was based upon his misrepresentation. Initially, the tort of seduction was a remed ... Read »


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    • Simony

    • Simony /ˈsaɪməni, ˈsɪ-/ is the act of selling church offices and roles. The practice is named after Simon Magus, who is described in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9–24 as having offered two disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy ... Read »


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    • Sodomy law

    • A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed to be "unnatural" or immoral. Sodomy typically includes anal sex, oral sex and bestiality. In prac ... Read »


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    • Sumptuary law

    • The sumptuary laws (from Latin sumptuāriae lēgēs) are laws that attempted to regulate consumption; Black's Law Dictionary defines them as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc." Historically, ... Read »


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    • Supplementary process

    • Supplementary process is a method of debt collection where the debtor who has a court money judgement against him is brought into court, "requiring the judgment debtor to appear at a time and place named therein and submit to an examination relative to his or its property and ability to pay." The process is common in M ... Read »


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    • Tenement (law)

    • A tenement (from the Latin to hold), in law, is anything that is held, rather than owned. This usage is a holdover from feudalism, which still forms the basis of all real-estate law in the English-speaking world, in which the monarch alone owned the allodial title to all the land within his kingdom. Under feudalism, ... Read »


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    • Terentilius

    • Gaius Terentilius Harsa or Arsa, better known simply as Terentilius, was a plebeian tribune in Rome around 462 BC. Terentilius agitated for a formal code of laws in the early days of the Roman Republic. He took advantage of the fact that the consuls were away on a campaign against the Volsci to pressure the Roma ... Read »


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    • Trial by ordeal

    • Trial by ordeal was an ancient judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused was determined by subjecting them to a painful, or at least an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience. The test was one of life or death and the proof of innocence was survival. In some cases, the accused was considered in ... Read »


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    • Twelve Tables

    • According to Roman tradition, the Law of the Twelve Tables (Latin: Leges Duodecim Tabularum or Duodecim Tabulae) was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law. The Tables consolidated earlier traditions into an enduring set of laws. The Twelve Tables are sufficiently comprehensive that their substance ... Read »


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    • Ultimogeniture

    • Ultimogeniture, also known as postremogeniture or junior right, is the tradition of inheritance by the last-born of the entirety of, or a privileged position in, a parent's wealth, estate or office. The tradition has been far rarer historically than primogeniture (sole inheritance by the first-born) or partible inherit ... Read »


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    • Writ

    • In common law, a writ is an informal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction; in modern usage, this body is generally a court. Warrants, prerogative writs and subpoenas are common types of writ but many forms exist and have existed. In its earliest form a writ was simply a written o ... Read »


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