top of page



Medieval England

History Essays

A Level/AS Level/O Level

Free Essay Outline

Edward I and Justice in Medieval England

This essay will discuss the role of Edward I in the administration of justice in medieval England. It will argue that Edward I was a significant figure in the development of the English legal system, and that his reforms had a lasting impact on the administration of justice.


Edward I (1239-1307) was one of the most powerful and influential kings in English history. He is known for his military victories, his political reforms, and his commitment to the development of the English legal system.

The Development of the Royal Courts

Edward I was a strong supporter of the royal courts, which he saw as a means of extending his authority throughout the country. He took steps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of these courts.

Reforms to the Legal System

Edward I introduced a number of significant reforms to the English legal system, including the establishment of the Statute of Westminster (1275) and the Statute of Mortmain (1279).

The Impact of Edward I's Reforms

Edward I's reforms had a lasting impact on the administration of justice in England. They helped to create a more centralized and efficient legal system, and they laid the foundations for the development of common law.


Edward I was a significant figure in the development of the English legal system. His reforms helped to create a more centralized and efficient legal system, and they laid the foundations for the development of common law. His reign marked a turning point in the history of English justice.

Free Essay

The Iron Fist of Justice: Edward I and the Shaping of English Law

Edward I, often referred to as "Edward Longshanks", reigned over England from 1272 to 1307. He is remembered for many things, including his military conquests, his ambitious building projects, and his tireless efforts to consolidate royal power. However, one of his most important and enduring legacies is his commitment to reforming and streamlining the administration of justice.

Edward I inherited a legal system in flux. While the Anglo-Saxon traditions of trial by ordeal and compurgation still held sway, the influence of Roman law, introduced by the Norman Conquest, was growing. The King's Court, with its emphasis on procedural fairness and the use of written records, was steadily gaining prominence over local customary courts. Edward I saw an opportunity to solidify royal authority and create a more centralized and consistent legal system.

His first major contribution was the ⭐⭐establishment of the Court of Common Pleas⭐⭐ in 1285. This court, previously a component of the King's Court, was made permanent and dedicated to hearing civil disputes. This move not only relieved the King's Court of a significant burden but also provided a forum for resolving disputes within a clearly defined framework. Notably, this court emphasized the importance of ⭐⭐precedent⭐⭐, setting the stage for the development of common law in England.

Edward I also undertook extensive reforms to the ⭐⭐jury system⭐⭐. He introduced the ⭐⭐"grand jury"⭐⭐ to investigate criminal offenses, a significant step towards a more objective and less arbitrary justice system. This jury, composed of local men, could indict individuals for crimes, paving the way for formal accusations and trials. He also ensured that juries were composed of ⭐⭐freeholders⭐⭐, men with property and therefore a stake in the community, further emphasizing the importance of impartial judgment.

Another crucial aspect of Edward I's legal reforms was the ⭐⭐establishment of a unified legal system⭐⭐. His reign saw the codification of various legal practices, including the ⭐⭐Statute of Westminster (1275)⭐⭐, which codified existing laws and created a framework for future legislation. This move, along with subsequent statutes, helped to standardize legal proceedings across the country, reducing discrepancies between different local courts and solidifying royal control over the law.

Edward I's reforms were not without controversy. The ⭐⭐Statute of Westminster II (1285)⭐⭐, for example, introduced the ⭐⭐"Quia Emptores" clause⭐⭐, which restricted the ability of tenants to subdivide their land. This measure, while aimed at strengthening royal power, was seen as an infringement on the rights of landowners.

⭐⭐However, despite the criticism, Edward I's legacy as a legal reformer is undeniable.⭐⭐ He fundamentally reshaped the English legal system, laying the groundwork for future developments. His reforms, focused on promoting fairness, accountability, and consistency, became the cornerstones of English common law, influencing legal systems around the world. Edward I's reign ushered in a new era in the administration of justice, a legacy that continues to shape the legal landscape of England to this day.

bottom of page