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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Readings on statutes were one of the most important elements of English legal education in the century or so after 1470, but they remain largely understudied as sources for the law. At first glance they seem to be the very opposite of an educational tool, designed to repel anyone who is not already familiar with their norms and assumptions. But for those initiated into those norms and assumptions they embody the evolution of common learning over generations and continue to fulfil their note-takers’ intentions of making the intricacies of the law available to later generations. This paper examines the ways in which the manuscripts containing the readings were compiled, circulated, and used, and argues that they throw light both on the ways in which lawyers learned their law, and the ways in which they navigated the shift from manuscript to print and from common learning to individual authority.

Keywords: legal education, manuscript, print, common learning, individual authority

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