THE CONTENT AND SIGNIFICANCE OF FLETA IN THE CONTEXT OF ROYAL JUSTICE: A TEXTUAL HISTORY OF LATE THIRTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLISH COMMON LAW
Medieval historians and legal scholars who study early English common law generally cite the late-thirteenth century legal treatise known as Fleta as a corollary to Bracton and/or a text that, as M.T. Clanchy has suggested, supplanted Bracton as a compendium of statutes. Historians, however, have not given Fleta extensive consideration since G.O. Sayles and H.G. Richardson’s mid to late-twentieth century translation of this text. This thesis offers a reconsideration of Fleta through the lens of Brian Stock’s textual community to reveal that Fleta shared a common discourse and language with other similar legal treatises as well as appropriated other similar texts to some considerable extent. Furthermore, Fleta came about in the context of Edward I’s significant legislative actions embodied, for instance, in the Westminster I (1275) and Westminster II (1285) statutes therefore making it plausible that the author was responding, in some way, to these reforms. Fleta emerged from a thirteenth-century legal textual community, and this treatise helped lay a foundation for legal thought as well as potentially influenced political philosophies of the enlightenment and, notably, Thomas Hobbes’s theories of kingship.