25 August 2007


There are many reasons to read Pollock and Maitland’s masterpiece, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I (Cambridge: CUP, 1895, 18982), but surely the wonderful words that one learns are high on the list. Example: vifgage (vivum vadium), in contrast to mortgage (mortuum vadium) (II.119): in a vifgage, the amount of the debt is progressively reduced by the profits that the creditor takes from the land given to him as a gage; in a mortgage, it is not. Further, if somewhat fanciful, etymological speculations in Glanvill x, 8, and Littleton § 332, according to the footnote.

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