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It was interpreted by hopeful litigants, slick lawyers, legal commentators, and by parliament itself. Some of these constructions became embedded in its history. For more than a century it was a political force; at its weakest a kind of ritual, the first demand, the easiest concession; at its strongest, powerful enough to tow other demands in its wake. Common to all these varied reactions and uses there was a crucial element not so far discussed: the relationship of present to past, of new concessions to ancient practice, of Magna Carta to what had gone before; in short, a sense of history.

S. E. Thorne, 4 vols. , 1968–1977), 2:109. Cp. fo. 106 where a similar view is taken of fines (2:302). 79. The development of judicial interpretation is summarized by T. F. T. Plucknett, A Concise History of the Common Law, 4th ed. (London, 1948), 311–16. It is impossible to summarize within the space of a short note the extensive literature on the subject. For a recent and most valuable discussion, which is comprehensive bibliographically, see Louis A. Knafla, Law and Politics in Jacobean England: The Tracts of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere (Cambridge, England, 1977).

S. P. Tatlock, The Legendary History of Britain (Berkeley, 1950). 104. Gaimar, L’Estoire des Engleis, ed. A. Bell (Oxford, 1960), lines 6430–31, 6447–52. The Ancient Constitution in Medieval England [ 71 ] scendants did not see the past as we see it. They read rather of the Marcher baron, Fulk fitz Warin, a participant in the movement of 1215 who first made his name as an outlaw rebel against King John and as the man who triumphed over sundry giants and evil spirits culled from the myths of the Welsh Marches.

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