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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Early modern England was a legally pluralistic society. The laws of the Crown derived from its royal prerogative rights, which were based on Roman and common law. The Crown’s excessive use of prerogatives often came into conflict with the English Parliament and the royal courts of common law. This conflict resulted in constitutional crises throughout the seventeenth century and, ultimately, in the ‘Westminster system’ of government by 1800. Alongside the common law and its many courts operated several other brands of law, especially criminal, Roman, canon, and equity law, which were designed to adjudicate in areas where the common law proved insufficient, or when non-domestic matters were involved. These various brands of law were transported, by royal and later parliamentary authority, into the English empire. This transfer resulted in legal systems that reflected those used in England, while also respecting the unique character of individual settler societies.

Keywords: common law, courts, empire, equity, legal pluralism, Parliament, prerogatives, Roman law

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