Law

About this Collection

From the earliest written legal codes to the beginnings of modern constitutionalism, the history of law is the story of our working out how personal liberties interact with responsibilities to others.

Key People

Titles & Essays

A – Z List

Asia And Eurasia, Africa, Pacific Area, And Antarctica

Loading...

Collections. Series. Collected Works

Loading...

Economic Theory. Demography

Loading...

France Andorra Monaco

Loading...

General Law And Jurisprudence

Loading...

Greco Roman World

Loading...

History Of Law (Ancient Orient)

Loading...

History Of Law (Europe)

Loading...

International Law

Loading...

Language And Literature

Loading...

Law

Loading...

Law Of Nations

Loading...

Philosophy (General)

Loading...

Philosophy, Psychology, And Religion

Loading...

Political Institutions And Public Administration (Europe)

Loading...

Political Institutions And Public Administration (United States)

Loading...

Political Theory

Loading...

Social Sciences

Loading...

United Kingdom And Ireland

Loading...

United States

Loading...

United States

Loading...

World History

Loading...

Not Categorized

BOLL 9: William Blackstone, “Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals” (1766)

Sir William Blackstone (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This one comes…

BOLL 24: Spooner, “Vices are Not Crimes”

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This is a…

BOLL 29: Norman Barry, “Hayek’s Theory of Spontaneous Order II: Legal Orders” (1982)

Norman P. Barry (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 41: “Magna Carta” (The Great Charter) (1215)

OLL Editor (editor)

41: “Magna Carta” (The Great Charter) (1215) The document known as Magna Carta was an agreement signed between King John and his feudal nobles in…

BOLL 42: Sir Edward Coke, “Petition of Right” (1628)

Sir Edward Coke (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 43: “The Habeas Corpus Act” (1679)

OLL Editor (editor)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 44: “The English Bill of Rights” (1689)

OLL Editor (editor)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A thematic list…

BOLL 56: Hugo Grotius, “The Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Certainty of Right” (1625)

Hugo Grotius (author)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. At the beginning…

THE READING ROOM

BOLL 9: William Blackstone, “Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals” (1766)

This is part of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. This one comes from Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England in which he defines…
Code civil des français. Édition originale et seule officielle

Napoléon Bonaparte (author)

The first official publication of the French Civil Code which was produced under the direction of Emperor Napoleon. [Source: Gallica/BNF gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb339642859].

The Code Napoleon: or, the French Civil Code

Napoléon Bonaparte (author)

An English translation of the French Civil Code by an anonymous English barrister.

Liberty Matters: Hugo Grotius on War and the State (March 2014)

Fernando R. Tesón (author)

In this online discussion, Fernando R. Tesón explores what Grotius thought about the proper relationship between the laws of nature and the laws of nations, what limits (if any) can be legitimately and rightly placed on the conduct…

Liberty Matters: Magna Carta after 800 Years: From liber homo to modern freedom (May, 2015)

Justin Champion (author)

This Liberty Matters discussion invited four leading historians to explain what Magna Carta was, why it has appealed to so many people over the years, the impact it has had on the development of Anglo-American legal and political…

Liberty Matters: The Significance of Lysander Spooner (Jan. 2016)

Randy E. Barnett (author)

In this discussion Randy Barnett explores the political thought and constitutional theories of the 19th century American individualist, anarchist, and abolitionist Lysander Spooner (1808-1887). He concludes that “Spooner’s approach…

Quotes

War & Peace

A.V. Dicey noted that a key change in public thinking during the 19th Century was the move away from the early close association between “peace and retrenchment” in the size of the government (1905)

Albert Venn Dicey

Law

Adam Smith argues that the Habeas Corpus Act is a great security against the tyranny of the king (1763)

Adam Smith

Taxation

Adam Smith claims that exorbitant taxes imposed without consent of the governed constitute legitimate grounds for the people to resist their rulers (1763)

Adam Smith

Food & Drink

Adam Smith on how Government Regulation and Taxes might drive a Man to Drink (1766)

Adam Smith

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

Adam Smith on Slavery

Adam Smith

Law

Algernon Sidney argues that a law that is not just is not a law (1683)

Algernon Sidney

Parties & Elections

Bruno Leoni argues that expressing one’s economic choice as a consumer in a free market is quite different from making a political choice by means of voting (1961)

Bruno Leoni

Law

Bruno Leoni notes the strong connection between economic freedom and decentralized legal decision-making (1961)

Bruno Leoni

Law

Bruno Leoni on the different Ways in which Needs can be satisfied, either voluntarily through the Market or coercively through the State (1963)

Bruno Leoni

Parties & Elections

Bruno Leoni points out that elections are seriously flawed because majority rule is incompatible with individual freedom of choice (1961)

Bruno Leoni

Law

Cesare Beccaria says that torture is cruel and barbaric and a violation of the principle that no one should be punished until proven guilty in a court of law; in other words it is the “right of power” (1764)

Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria

Liberty

De Lolme on Liberty as equality under the laws (1784)

Jean Louis De Lolme

War & Peace

Erasmus has the personification of Peace come down to earth to see with dismay how war ravages human societies (1521)

Desiderius Erasmus

Sport and Liberty

Frederick Pollock argues that a violent assault on the football field is not an actionable tort because it is part of the activities of a voluntarily agreed to association of adults (1895)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Property Rights

Gaius states that according to natural reason the first occupier of any previously unowned property becomes the just owner (2nd Century)

Gaius

Natural Rights

Gershom Carmichael on the idea that civil power is founded on the consent of those against whom it is exercised (1724)

Gershom Carmichael

War & Peace

Grotius on Moderation in Despoiling the Country of one’s Enemies (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Natural Rights

Heineccius argues that no man should be deprived of anything which he has received by nature, or has justly acquired (1738)

Johann Gottlieb Heineccius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius discusses the just causes of going to war, especially the idea that the capacity to wage war must be matched by the intent to do so (1625)

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius on civil right being derived from civil power

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius on sparing Civilian Property from Destruction in Time of War (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Property Rights

Hugo Grotius on the natural sociability of humans (1625)

Hugo Grotius

War & Peace

Hugo Grotius states that in an unjust war any acts of hostility done in that war are “unjust in themselves” (1625)

Hugo Grotius

Law

James Wilson argues that it is the people, not the prince, who is superior in matters of legal sovereignty (1790)

James Wilson

Natural Rights

James Wilson asks if man exists for the sake of government, or is government instituted for the sake of man? (1791)

James Wilson

Justice

Jean Barbeyrac on the need to disobey unjust laws (1715)

Jean Barbeyrac

Philosophy

Jean Barbeyrac on the Virtues which all free Men should have (1718)

Jean Barbeyrac

War & Peace

Kant believed that citizens must give their free consent via their representatives to every separate declaration of war (1790)

Immanuel Kant

Free Trade

Lord Kames argued that neither the King nor Parliament had the right to grant monopolies because they harmed the interests of the people (1778)

Henry Home, Lord Kames

Taxation

Lysander Spooner argues that according to the traditional English common law, taxation would not be upheld because no explicit consent was given by individuals to be taxed (1852)

Lysander Spooner

Law

Lysander Spooner on Jury Nullification as the "palladium of liberty" against the tyranny of government (1852)

Lysander Spooner

Food & Drink

Lysander Spooner on the idea that laws against “vice” (victimless crimes) are unjust (1875)

Lysander Spooner

Economics

Lysander Spooner on why government monopolies like the post office are inherently inefficient (1844)

Lysander Spooner

Justice

Lysander Spooner spells out his theory of “mine and thine”, or the science of natural law and justice, which alone can ensure that mankind lives in peace (1882)

Lysander Spooner

Law

Plucknett contrasts the flexibility and adaptability of customary law with the rigidity and remoteness of state legislation (1956)

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett

Law

Plucknett on the Renaissance state’s “war against the idea of law” (1956)

Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett

Law

Pollock on “our lady” the common law and her devoted servants (1911)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Law

Pollock on “our lady” the common law and her devoted servants (1911)

Sir Frederick Pollock

Law

Sir Edward Coke declares that your house is your “Castle and Fortress” (1604)

Sir Edward Coke

Law

Sir Edward Coke defends British Liberties and the Idea of Habeas Corpus in the Petition of Right before Parliament (1628)

Sir Edward Coke

Law

Sir Edward Coke explains one of the key sections of Magna Carta on English liberties (1642)

Sir Edward Coke

Property Rights

Sir William Blackstone argues that occupancy of previously unowned land creates a natural right to that property which excludes others from it (1753)

Sir William Blackstone

Colonies, Slavery & Abolition

Sir William Blackstone declares unequivocally that slavery is “repugnant to reason, and the principles of natural law” and that it has no place in English law (1753)

Sir William Blackstone

Law

Sir William Blackstone provides a strong defence of personal liberty and concludes that to “secretly hurry” a man to prison is a “dangerous engine of arbitrary government” (1753)

Sir William Blackstone

Free Trade

The right to free trade under Magna Carta (1215)

John Lackland (King John)

Women’s Rights

The Women of Seneca Falls and William Blackstone

Sir William Blackstone

Politics & Liberty

Viscount Bryce reflects on how modern nation states which achieved their own freedom through struggle are not sympathetic to the similar struggles of other repressed peoples (1901)

Viscount James Bryce

Notes About This Collection

Cicero(106-43 BC) Edward Coke (1552-1634) Bruno Leoni (1913-1967)

See also the extracts, chapters, and introductions in the Law section of the Ideas page.