This chapter explains the English rule of law and its development from “Time Immemorial”—that is, before the Norman Conquest. The rule of law is part of the Anglo-American liberty narrative; while the rule through law (its civilian counterpart) is part of the equality narrative. The English rule of law and its habit of limited government were apparent as early on as the first century A.D. and developed further after the Norman Conquest through kings such as Henry II, who both founded England’s common law and the jury trial, and began the secularization of law and the focus on empiricism. That tradition continued, as shown in a history of constitutional documents such as the Magna Carta that listed customary limitations on governmental power; as well as human interaction by both Parliament and such luminaries as Edward Coke, who limited not just the king’s prerogative, but also governmental power in general. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, legal scholars Dicey, Hayek, and Oakeshott described both the tradition and the modern danger it is facing from the bureaucratic state.
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