The nature of custom: legal science and comparative legal history in Blackstone's Commentaries

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Throughout the Commentaries, Blackstone repeatedly availed himself of comparative legal history. Comparison allowed him to detect the invariable principles of legal experience and organise his systematic exposition of English law around them. This method proved crucial in Blackstone’s treatment of custom, as it allowed him to present the chief source of English common law by addressing the main questions concerning the nature of custom that had been raised earlier by Western jurisprudence. The paper will explore the depth of Blackstone’s engagement with such traditions. In doing so, it will investigate whether custom was understood differently on the two sides of the Channel.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommon law, civil law, and colonial law
Subtitle of host publicationessays in comparative legal history from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries
EditorsWilliam Eves, John Hudson, Ingrid Ivarsen, Sarah B. White
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108955195, 9781108960670
ISBN (Print)9781108845274, 9781108925129
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Legal history
  • English law
  • Comparative legal history
  • Blackstone
  • Commentaries
  • Custom
  • Ius commune
  • Common law


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