In this video, Nathan Dorn, the curator of the Law Library’s rare book collection, discusses a recent acquisition, a 14th-century manuscript of Registrum Brevium, a copy of the register of writs used to initiate litigation in medieval England.
Over the course of the 12th century, a system of writs was developed that enabled people from all over England to get a hearing for their grievances before judges in the king’s courts. Plaintiffs were able to purchase a writ, which was produced by secretaries at the king’s court. There was an officina brevium, or “workshop of writs,” that produced writs for this purpose. It appears that there was no official copy of the register that served as the model for all others. Instead, each individual master, or cursitor, of a writ shop kept a copy of the register, such as this manuscript, for use in his office. This manuscript has previously been featured on In Custodia Legis.
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