Continuing today’s theme, a three-part documentary, part of the Taking Liberties season, really impressed me. It’s called The Strange Case of the Law, and all three episodes are linked below with a bit of blurb. Of all the Taking Liberties shows this interests me the most since it is the law, and where the power of enforcement resides, that is important to the lover of liberty, not how often one gets to vote. Interestingly it is established in part one that the Saxon King of Kent did not prosecute private legal cases or have any crown prosecutor to do so in his name. Instead, the victim or representatives of the victim pursued the case before an arbiter who then decided on the restitution required. All very interesting stuff and deserving of a watch, though be warned, each part is an hour long.

 

Episode One: Laying Down the Law

The history of the English Common Law, or law of judgements based on precedent rather than rules. The rules-only kind is Civil Law, and characterises aspects of Scots Law and almost all European continental legal systems, as well as those of Latin America and Japan.

 

Episode Two: The Pursuit of Liberty

State power versus the Law in the 17th Century! That takes in the English Civil War, the end of state-sanctioned torture (har har, it’s all fine now), and the Glorious Revolution.

 

Episode Three: Presumed Innocent

Hanging for housebreaking! And I don’t care if you’re only 15. Due process in a statist legal system permitted barbarous horrors that would have shocked those Anglo-Saxons further up the page.