Bishop Wardlaw Professor, School of History

Deputy Director, Institute for Legal and Constitutional Research

School of History website

Keywords: legal history; legal historiography; comparative law; medieval history


John joined the School of History at the beginning of October 1988. His research then concentrated on law and land-holding in twelfth-century England, and this subject has remained central to much of his subsequent work, leading up to his volume of The Oxford History of the Laws of England, 871-1216 (2012). Some of his legal history work plays with the applicability to mediaeval situations of ideas from modern legal theory; this work is furthered by his visiting association with the University of Michigan Law School, where he enjoys the title of L. Bates Lea Global Law Professor.

John has two other main areas of research interest. One is mediaeval historical writing, mostly in England – as in his two-volume edition of the History of the Church of Abingdon, an important twelfth-century monastic text – but also more widely, as in his contribution on ‘Local Histories’ in the Oxford History of Historical Writing. The other is nineteenth-century writing on the Middle Ages, and in particular the work of the greatest of legal historians, F. W. Maitland.

John has taught a wide range of courses both in and outside his main research areas. In particular he has presented a series of Honours modules about aristocratic culture, the latest mutation of which is called Courtroom Dramas: Law and Literature in Twelfth Century France. For the MLitt in Legal and Constitutional Studies, he teaches modules on approaches to legal history.


Hudson, J. 2019. “Reading terminology in the sources for the early Common Law: seisin, simple and not so simple.” English legal history and its sources: Essays in honour of Sir John Baker. Ibbetson, D., Jones, N. & Ramsay, N. (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 79-99.

Knight, K-J. & Hudson, J. G. H. 2018. “Miller(ed) in St Andrews.” Emotion, Violence, Vengeance and Law in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of William Ian Miller. Gilbert, K. & White, S. (eds.). Leiden : Brill, 19-22.

Hudson, J. G. H. & West, M. 2018. “Stringer’s Saga: Njal and the Wire.” Emotion, Violence, Vengeance and Law in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of William Ian Miller. Gilbert, K. & White, S. (eds.). Leiden: Brill, 271-295.

Hudson, J. 2017. “Emotions in the early common law (c. 1166–1215).” Journal of Legal History 38 (2): 130-154.

Hudson, J. 2017. The formation of the English common law: law and society in England from King Alfred to Magna Carta. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group.

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