ASU law professor contributes to book on prominent legal historian Paul Brand

A new book co-edited by Emeritus Professor Jonathan Rose of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University includes essays from the world’s leading scholars in the history of English legal institutions and law.

"Laws, Lawyers and Texts: Studies in Medieval Legal History in Honour of Paul Brand" (Brill, 2012), also includes an essay by Rose, “Medieval Estate Planning: The Wills and Testamentary Trials of Sir John Fastolf.”

The book honors professor Paul Brand, a longtime friend and mentor of Rose, who is Senior Research Fellow, All Souls College at the University of Oxford, and the world’s most prominent English legal historian of 13th and 14th centuries. The essays match Brand’s career and interests in medieval English legal history, as well as his expertise in medieval texts. 

“This book is a tribute to Paul Brand, both with respect to the regard in which he is held as a scholar and to his collegiality and generosity in helping people with their research and scholarship,” Rose said. “We thought Paul deserved the recognition as a leading scholar of the period, which is critical to the birth of the common law and the development of legal profession.”

The book was co-edited by Susanne Jenks, an independent scholar who has published on late medieval English Law in English and German, and is vice-administrator of the Anglo-American Legal Tradition Project, and Christopher Whittick, an expert on medieval texts and law and the Senior Archivist for East Sussex Record Office.

“Paul Brand is one of the most important scholars of English Legal History in the world and has had an enormous influence on numerous scholars – including our very own Jon Rose,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the College of Law. “Jon’s participation in this is a real tribute to Paul and a clear indication of the quality of this volume. Jon’s tireless work in editing and his contribution of an important chapter about his own research on 15th century England legal institutions ensured that this work would be worthy of its subject. My hat’s off to Jon and his co-editors and all the contributors to this work.”

Brand said he was “surprised, delighted and honored to receive the Festschrift (a book honoring a respected academic) and to find in it the work of so many good friends and colleagues, including that of my old friend Professor Rose.”

“I am particularly grateful for the hard work of the three editors of the volume and the care they took with the volume, and with keeping almost all knowledge of it and its contents from me till the day it was presented to me,” Brand added.

Rose’s essay, which is the product of his work over the years at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, illustrates attempts by the wealthy class in medieval England to engage in estate planning, and the plethora of events that could and did happen prior to the time of a person’s death.

Specifically, Rose documents the extensive estate planning activities of Fastolf (1380-1459), an East Anglian knight who married well and became a wealthy East Anglian landowner. The article explores all relevant wills and other documents, and shows that his failed efforts were frustrated by deathbed changes, other claims on the property, the need for royal approval, political factors, conflicts among executors, and papal interventions.

The book, a surprise gift for Brand’s 65th birthday, was launched during a series of events in July at All Souls College, attended by Rose and others. These included a seminar of legal history in the College’s Old Library, where three of the book’s essays and its encomium were presented by the authors, and the book was presented to Brand. A reception and dinner also were held in Brand’s honor.

“It was a big honor for me to be involved because of Paul’s outstanding reputation as a scholar, his substantial assistance to me over the years and our personal friendship,” Rose said.

Brand was a visiting professor at the College of Law in 2001 and 2011 and delivered the plenary lecture at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society for Legal History, which Rose co-organized and hosted at the College of Law.

The collection of essays discusses the birth of the Common Law, the interaction between systems of law, the evolution of the legal profession, and the operation and procedures of the Common Law in England.

The topics explored include the Angevin reforms, legal literature, the legal profession and judiciary, land law, the relation between the crown and the Jews, and the interaction of the Common Law with Canon and Civil Law, as well as procedural and testamentary procedures, the management of both ecclesiastical and lay estates, and the afterlife of medieval learning. Like Brand’s own work, all the essays are grounded on detailed use of primary sources.

Among the 18 contributors, in addition to Rose, are prominent legal historians, including Sir John Baker, Emeritus Downing Professor of the Laws of England, University of Cambridge, Richard Helmholz, Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, John Hudson, Professor of Legal History at the University of St. Andrews, and William W. Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan Law School, Charles Donahue, Paul A. Freund Professor Law, Harvard Law School, and David Ibbetson, Regis Professor of Civil Law, University of Cambridge.