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Henry of Bratton (Henricus de Brattona or Bractona) was an English judge of the court known as coram rege (later King's Bench) from 1247-50 and again from 1253-57. After his retirement in 1257, he continued to serve on judicial commissions. He was also a clergyman, having various benefices, the last of which being the chancellorship of Exeter cathedral, where he was buried in 1268.
Bracton's chief claim to fame is his association with the long treatise De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (On the Laws and Customs of England), which the noted legal historian F.W. Maitland described as "the crown and flower of English jurisprudence." The work (commonly known now simply as Bracton) attempts to describe rationally the whole of English law, a task that was not again undertaken until Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England in the eighteenth century. The work is remarkable both for its wealth of detail and for its attempts to make sense out of English law largely in terms of the ius commune, the combination of Roman and canon law that was taught in the universities in Bracton's time.
While the attribution of the work to Bracton is of considerable antiquity, it now seems that the bulk of the work was written in the 1220's and 1230's by persons other than Bracton himself. It seems then to have been edited and partially updated in the late 1230's, with various additions being made to it between that time and the 1250's. The last owner of the original manuscript and the author of the later additions was probably Bracton.
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