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The Legal History of Wales

The Legal History of Wales

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 2
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  • Book Info
    The Legal History of Wales
    Book Description:

    The first comprehensive history of law in Wales from before the Romans to Devolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2545-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. ix-x)
    Thomas Glyn Watkin
  4. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Thomas Glyn Watkin
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. 1 Pre-Roman Britain
    (pp. 1-7)

    Modern Wales has both a natural and a man-made boundary. Its natural boundary is its coastline, which bounds it to the north, west and south, while its man-made boundary separates it from, or joins it to (according to one’s point of view), England to the east. This eastern boundary was not defined until the sixteenth-century Act of Union, which united the two countries politically and legally. For a thousand years previously, the demarcation of Wales and England had been a zone rather than a boundary line, a zone known to this day as the March, an area encompassing most of...

  7. 2 Wales in the Roman Empire
    (pp. 8-25)

    A century after Julius Caesar’s initial sorties into Britain, the emperor Claudius (ad 41–54) undertook a full-scale conquest of the island. The invasion was under the command of Vespasian, a general who himself was to become emperor (69–79), although Claudius himself arrived to lead the victorious armies into Colchester and to receive the acclaim of his troops. He may also have played a significant role in determining how the new province was to be governed. The process of conquest and assimilation was a lengthy one, the Romans reaching the modern border counties between Wales and England by the...

  8. 3 The Sub-Roman Period
    (pp. 26-43)

    Over half a millennium separates the withdrawal of Roman government from Britain and the supposed date of promulgation of the laws of Hywel Dda. It is tempting therefore to assume that nothing can be known of the legal customs of the British during this period. Yet, despite the lack of direct evidence, such a negative conclusion is unnecessarily pessimistic.

    Although this period is sometimes described as the Dark Ages, it does not entirely lack illumination. What Britain suffered, with the withdrawal of Roman administration at the start of the fifth century, was not unique, indeed it was part of the...

  9. 4 The Age of the Native Princes
    (pp. 44-75)

    In 825, the direct male line of the ruling house of Gwynedd was extinguished with the death of Hywel ap Rhodri, who had succeeded his brother Cynan in 816. Political control of Gwynedd passed to one Merfyn Frych, who may have been the brother-in-law or more likely the nephew of the deceased rulers.¹ Merfyn may have been the son of Gwriad, a ruler of the Isle of Man,Ynys Manaw, and he continued as king of Gwynedd until his death in 844, when he was succeeded by his son, Rhodri, who was to become known as Rhodri Mawr. Rhodri left...

  10. 5 The Norman Invasion and Edward I
    (pp. 76-105)

    When William, duke of Normandy, defeated Harold Godwinson on the battlefield of Hastings in 1066, he had by invasion successfully pursued his claim to the throne of England. It was England alone that he claimed, and his ascent to the English throne did not directly affect the government of either Wales or Scotland. While as king of England, he would continue to be in the eyes of the Welsh rulers their royal superior as the successor of the king in London, this was understood to be bare overlordship and not any form of feudal dependence. The barons and knights who...

  11. 6 The Later Middle Ages
    (pp. 106-123)

    Edward I conquered Wales, bringing the whole country under his direct or indirect control. The portions under his direct control were the principalities of north and south Wales, the territories of the once independent princes. The area under his indirect control was the March, where the Marcher lords still exercised quasi-regalian powers, but under the watchful eye of their royal overlord. The outward and visible signs of Edward’s control were the great castles which he built along the coast of north Wales, castles which all his Welsh subjects with the exception of themaerdreftenants were, according to an ancient...

  12. 7 The Tudors and the Union with England
    (pp. 124-144)

    The union of Wales and England was effected by two statutes passed during the reign of Henry VIII. These were the Act for Law and Justice to be Ministered in Wales in like Form as it is in this Realm of 1535/6 and the Act for Certain Ordinances in the King’s Dominion and Principality of Wales of 1542/3. They are frequently referred to as the Acts of Union.

    The 1530s was a decade which saw revolutionary change in the government of England and of English society, the most obvious features of which were the changes in religion which saw the...

  13. 8 The Age of the Great Sessions
    (pp. 145-167)

    The introduction of the Great Sessions gave Wales, with the exception of Monmouthshire, a legal identity which was for the first time uniform while remaining distinct from England.¹ The law administered was however English law and the language of its administration was officially English. That English was to be the language of the law was a requirement of the 1536 statute,² yet there is evidence that Welsh was not only the language used mainly in the local courts, but that it was also widely employed at both the Quarter Sessions and the Great Sessions. It is known for instance that...

  14. 9 The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
    (pp. 168-196)

    With the abolition of the Great Sessions in 1830, the administration of justice in Wales became fully integrated with that of England. Civil litigation had now to be commenced at Westminster before one of the royal courts: King’s Bench, Exchequer or Common Pleas for common law litigation, and Chancery for equity matters. Criminal causes were now to be taken, as had previously been the case in Monmouthshire, by assize judges, who would visit each county to try the most serious criminal cases during the legal vacations. While in the county, the assize judges also had jurisdiction to take the verdicts...

  15. 10 Devolution and Legal Identity
    (pp. 197-214)

    The defeat of the Callaghan government’s devolution proposals in 1979 brought the campaign for some measure of self-government for Wales to an abrupt end. The Conservative government which came to power in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher, and which was to remain in office until 1997 held no brief for devolution, but greatly expanded the number of functions performed in Wales by non-elected bodies, the so-called quasi-autonomous national government organizations orQuangos. Widespread disaffection with the consequences of government policies upon Wales during these years led to the Conservative Party losing all of its seats in Wales at the 1997 general...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 215-266)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 267-286)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 287-322)
  19. Index
    (pp. 323-350)