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Brand Named ASLH Honorary Fellow

 [This week, we will be posting the citations for the three legal historians named Honorary Fellows of the American Society for Legal History at its November 2020 meeting.  The first is Paul Brand.  DRE]

Our first Honorary Fellow is Paul Brand, emeritus Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford,

Paul Brand (ASLH)
and William W. Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan.  Professor Brand is, in the estimation of his many admirers, the finest living historian of the constitution and law of medieval England.

Professor Brand took his B.A. and M.A. at Oxford and his D.Phil., also at Oxford, in 1974.  He was Assistant Keeper at what was then the Public Record Office in London from 1970 to 1976.  From 1976 to 1983 he was Lecturer in Law at University College, Dublin, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Historical Research in London from 1983 to 1993.  In 1997 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.  He is currently an emeritus Fellow of All Souls and, since 2013, William W. Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan.  He has also held visiting positions at the law schools of Columbia University, Arizona State University, Emory University, and New York University, and at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in both the history and law sections in 1998 and of the Medieval Academy of America in 2012.  He has been a councillor of the Selden Society since 1990 and its vice-president since 2002.  He is an honorary bencher of the Middle Temple, London.

Professor Brand has been one of the leading and most prolific historians of English law for many decades.  In two monographs, eight volumes of edited original texts, and over eighty book chapters, articles, and essays, he has reshaped the field.  A scholar of remarkable range, he is as comfortable in the Anglo-Norman and Angevin periods as he is with the early Plantagenets.  He has also read deeply in the Anglo-Saxon and later medieval periods.  Within that span, it is the thirteenth-century-a period considered the most important formative period of English law-that he has made particularly his own.  Even his most distinguished colleagues in the field remark with no little awe at his total mastery of the sources.   He has used his vast knowledge to shape profoundly our knowledge of early legal literature, legal education, the emerging legal profession, the development of statute law, the relationship of developments in Ireland to the early common law, the relationship of Jews with the early common law, and the ways in which law shaped family relationships.

Professor Brand's monographs are fundamental reading on thirteenth-century English law.  His first, The Origins of the English Legal Profession, became the standard work on the subject, marked by its lucidity and deep learning.  His second, Kings, Barons and Justices:  The Making and Enforcement of Legislation in Thirteenth-Century England, explores the interaction of law, society, and politics in the era of baronial reform under Henry III.

Professor Brand's four volumes of Earliest English Law Reports for the Selden Society are truly magisterial.  They include all the earliest surviving law reports from 1268 to 1290-from Westminster, the eyres and assizes, and the Exchequer of the Jews-as well as the plea roll enrollments for the cases when they can be identified.  With these volumes Professor Brand made accessible the very first discussions of many aspects of the common law and revealed the first known occurrences of much of our legal terminology.

Professor Brand's scholarship is impressive in its own right and amply merits electing him an Honorary Fellow of the Society.  He has been honored with not one, but two festschriften, which attest to the fact that his immense and generously shared learning is a vital resource for all others working in the field.  This latter quality-his generously shared learning-speaks to another qualification for election as Honorary Fellow.  Professor Brand builds fields of scholarship.  He is an inspiration and great support for scholars young and old.  His generosity in commenting on the work of others is legendary.  In fact, every colleague whose opinion the committee solicited commented with more than a little awe on Professor Brand's remarkable unselfishness in helping others with their work.  If Honorary Fellows of the Society are the scholars on whose shoulders we stand, Professor Brand has actively lifted scores of other scholars to his shoulders in pursuing new and invariably important questions in legal history.

In sum, Professor Brand has shaped the broad discipline of legal history and influenced the work of others.  Throughout his long career, he has modeled how historians should engage with the law-understanding and respecting its technical complexity, but constantly aware of the social and political contexts within which that technical complexity worked and which constantly shaped what it could achieve.  He also models how historians should engage with their profession-publishing meticulous and path-breaking articles and books, editing and re-editing texts which allow others to expand the boundaries of the field, and engaging in collegial exchanges at gatherings large and small, with colleagues old and new, in a way which makes English legal history accessible and welcoming to all.

We are pleased and honored to welcome Professor Brand as an Honorary Fellow of the Society.

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