Serious study of the origins of the jury began in the time of William Stubbs and F. W. Maitland, when the work of the German historical school of jurisprudence reached England. Until then knowledge of the medieval English jury before the time of Henry II had been more legendary than real. William Blackstone had traced the common law to a compilation that King Alfred supposedly commanded to be made. Blackstone had written in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, “Some authors have endeavoured to trace the original of juries up as high as the Britons themselves, the first inhabitants of our island; but certain it is that they were in use among the earliest Saxon colonies.”
In the mid-nineteenth century the Anglo-Saxon origin of the jury was still a popular legend in England, but the German school of legal history sought a more scientific study of the problem. A representative of that group, Heinrich Brunner, in his book, Die Entstehung der Schwurgerichte, rejected the traditional teaching that the jury was Germanic and popular in origin. Instead, he believed it to be royal in origin, an authoritarian means of gathering information, particularly information of a financial nature. It first appeared as the inquest of the Frankish kings, inherited from the imperial Roman fisc. It passed from them to the Norman dukes and then was introduced to England with William. According to Brunner the Norman kings reserved this fact-finding technique for themselves, extending it to their subjects in only a few cases.
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