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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

St German changed the course of legal history by linking ‘equity’ with epieikeia. The Aristotelian concept originally denoted a personal virtue involving clemency and moderation, but could be taken to refer to a hermeneutic method requiring reconstruction of a law-maker’s intentions. St German’s understanding borrowed from Gerson the idea that laws tacitly incorporate ‘exceptions’ in the name of higher laws of God and nature. Equity/epieikeia was an expression of the Chancellor’s conscience because ‘conscience’ was an act of application of a rule. This rule-based theory of equity assimilated it to law and severed it from purely gratuitous mercy. There were long-term implications for English monarchy.

Keywords: St German, Aristotle, Fortescue, Aquinas, epieikeia, equity, conscience, chancery, mercy

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