nAmerican law is derived largely from the English common
law, which dates from the
nAt the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, English law
was a patchwork of local
laws and customs, often applied by feudal
courts, and church law enforced by ecclesiastical courts.
nWilliam the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England,
strengthened the royal courts
established by his Anglo-Saxon predecessors.
His son, King Henry I, dispatched royal judges to preside in county courts. His successor, Henry II,
greatly expanded the role of
the royal judges by instructing them to travel throughout the kingdom, taking jurisdiction in
cases formerly under the
province of feudal and local courts.
nThe judges settled disputes based on the customs of the people and the well-established principles of feudal
society. Out of the decisions of
these courts grew a law common to the
entire kingdom, hence the term “common law.”