Thursday, July 23, 2015

Trial By Jury

... owes a great deal of its existence to Henry II of England, circa 1160. Here's a good summary from the BBC.

I'm thoroughly enjoying Churchill's A History of the English Speaking People. As I read (listen to) it, I'm amazed at how narrow our understanding of history has become, at least as it was taught to my daughter in public high school. I know I've banged on this drum before, but I would bet that the only thing she knows about the subject was that white Europeans were racists. She would have no idea where our legal system arose.

Looking at the Wikipedia article on the Ashanti, the pre-European colonization African empire centered around modern-day Ghana, as far as I can tell, trials were an appeal to the chief and his buddies. Whatever complaints we may have about the American court system, I'd much rather face it than the king's counselors or the chief's shamans.

How does that legal system play into the white privilege that we're warned against by academia? It's all such a sad and narrow view of history. It seems to me that a much healthier way to learn history would be to appreciate the people that gave us what we use today, be that the internal combustion engine or jazz music. Maybe their faults can be forgiven with a little effort.


Ilíon said...

"Whilst many remember Henry II for his turbulent relationship with Thomas Becket and his sons, Richard the Lionheart and John, it was the establishment of permanent professional courts at Westminster and in the counties for which he might be best remembered. These reforms changed forever the relationship of the King to Church, State and society."

Or, to put it another way, the Norman conquerers "re-discovered" certain legal principles that Alfred and his heirs had been working out 300-400 years earlier.

A few posts ago, you'd said The Bastard's conquest ultimately worked out for the best for the English, as it brought us/them into the orbit of France, rather than Norway. And, perhaps so.

But, there is at least one thing that would be better without the Conquest: we'd not be living under a legal regime informed by the notion that *all* the land over which the State rules belongs to the King. As it is, even in this Republic, not a single one of us legally own what we call "our" property: all we actually own is the tax-bill on that property.

K T Cat said...

Ilion, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a candidate dominant nation where the king or chief didn't end up "owning" all of us. 1776 tried to put an end to that, but the modern Supreme Court and current Administration have put a period on that sentence.

Ilíon said...

While 1776 was a good thing, one of the things it did *not* do was to put an end to the post-1066 legal claim that The King owns everything and graciously grants his subjects permission to use it.

In pre-1066 Anglo-Saxon society, if one owned some bit of land, then one actually owned it. But, post-1066, and even today in this Republic, one does not really *own* that bit of land. Rather, the State owns it and graciously grants one permission to use it ... for a yearly fee.