Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae Definition:

1188 statement of English common law.

King Henry II of England, to foster peace in his kingdom, commissioned a nation-wide, 14-book statement of the law, which was promulgated in about 1188 during the tenure of Henry's justiciar Ranulf de Glanvill (d. 1190), and for that reason, is often attributed to Glanvill, or his assistant and nephew, Hubert Walter.

A frequent alternate reference to the Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliae is Tractatus or Glanvill's Tractatus. In the 1400s, it was known as Summa quae vocatur Glannvile. Once translated, it became known as the Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England.

One of the innovations of the Tractus was the writ, a procedural device to trigger legal proceedings, and one which would last centuries (for example, the writ was made obsolete in the Canadian jurisdiction of British Columbia in 2010).

Another was replevin.

The Tractatus spelled out procedures and law such as detinueessoin, villeinage, socage, escheat, gifts in maritagium, contracts, giftsattorneys and crimes.

The Tractatus was the most significant influence to Henri de Bracton when he picked up the torch of the common law lit by Ranulf de Granvill and published his own abridgement, De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (later translated and re-titled On The Laws And Customs of England), in 1235-1240.


  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Ranulf de Granvill
  • Holdsworth, William, A History of English Law, Vol. 2 (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1952), page 186-192

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