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The first example it gives of the use of the word referring to “the mode in which a state is constituted” is from 1610 and comes from Bishop Hall’s it refers to Israel, not England;2 the second is from Clarendon in 1647.3 As for “the fundamental constitution of the kingdom,” much closer to our “ancient constitution,” that comes from Scotland in 1689.4 Sir Edward Coke, it should be noted, did not use the term in this sense.So in seeking the element of ancient precedent in Coke’s arguments and assumptions and in those of other antiquaries and lawyers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries we shall be looking for something else.Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. just twenty years after the symposium at Windsor Castle, which first elicited the scholarly studies the book contains.The devotion to liberty under law that is a hallmark of Anglo-American civilization and free government is nowhere symbolized with greater authority than in Magna Carta and the ancient constitution of which it is the noblest monument.In reexamining it, uncertainties, dilemmas, and questions, like those raised by the history of the word but it was not a contemporary title.
As conference director, discussion leader, contributor, and editor of the book, I take satisfaction in seeing a new edition appear.
In its prime sense it did not necessarily denote antiquity, still less unwritten, ancient law.
It was used rather to describe the jurisdictional, legal, and financial relationships between lord and vassal.
The appear in the documents of 1215 except in association with liberties or when qualified by “free.” Only once, in confirming the privileges of the Londoners, is the word associated with antiquity.18 Only once, in condemning the conduct of foresters and other officials is it qualified as evil,19 this a timely reminder that the prime, generalized sense of the word had not been lost or entirely overlain.
Throughout, therefore, customs are subsidiary to liberties.