Coke’s splendid lineage
This interesting image is taken from Sir Edward Coke’s tremendously influential 1628 book, Commentary upon Littleton, itself intended to be the first volume in his comprehensive Institutes of the Laws of England. Coke’s commentary was based on Thomas de Littleton’s book Tenures, published around 1470, an exhaustive treatise on the complex laws surrounding property ownership, transfer, and inheritance. When Coke was writing, the feudal rules regarding property existing in Littleton’s day were breaking down, but Coke’s Commentary became an essential text for the study of law nevertheless.
The diagram is a graphic representation of the different levels of familial relationships that affected the inheritance laws and property ownership rules Littleton discussed, and upon which Coke wrote his commentary.