My subject is the story of the entry of lawyers into the English criminal courts and their impact on trial procedure. Until the eighteenth century lawyers played little part in the trial of felonies in England—in the trial, that is, of those accused of the most serious offenses, including murder, rape, arson, robbery, and virtually all forms of theft. Indeed, the defendants in such cases were prohibited at common law from engaging lawyers to act for them in court. In the case of less-serious crimes—misdemeanors—defendants were allowed counsel; and those accused of high treason, the most serious offense of all, were granted the right to make their defense by counsel in 1696. But not in felony. Accused felons might seek a lawyer's advice on points of law, but if they wanted to question the prosecution evidence or to put forward a defense, they had to do that on their own behalf. The victim of a felony (who most often acted as the prosecutor in a system that depended fundamentally on private prosecution) was free to hire a lawyer to manage the presentation of his or her case. But in fact few did so. The judges were generally the only participants in felony trials with professional training. They dominated the courtroom and orchestrated the brief confrontation between the victim and the accused that was at the heart of the trial.