2002 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award
Joseph Biancalana, Professor of Law. For his work: THE FEE TAIL AND THE COMMON RECOVERY IN MEDlEVAL ENGLAND 1176-1502 (2001); and Thirteenth-Century Custodia, 22 LEGAL HISTORY 14 (2001).
Fee tail and common recovery were basic building blocks for land holding from medieval England to the beginning of the twentieth century. Classically, an entail was an interest in land that could only pass in death by inheritance to the descendants of a landholder. Common recovery was a way of broadening land transfers by barring the entail.
Naturally, loosening inalienability restrictions would promote land transfers and promote efficiency. Professor Biancalana's book looks to the origins of entails and the ways that lawyers were able to get around those restrictions to explore the various kinds of transactions involved both with entails and with common recoveries. His book covers gaps left by earlier legal historians and contributes original research to the development of land transactions in English legal history. The series editor writes that THE FEE TAIL AND THE COMMON RECOVERY IN MEDlEV AL ENGLAND 1176-1502 "is a major work of great interest to legal and social historians."
Professor Biancalana's book was published by Cambridge University Press as part of their study in English legal history edited by Professor J. H. Baker of Cambridge University. Professor Biancalana joins such notable scholars as Dr. Paul Brand, All Souls College, Oxford, Professor Charles Donahue, Harvard Law School, Professor David Ibbetson, Cambridge University, and Professor R. H. Helmolz, University of Chicago. A pre-publication review of his book indicates the originality and depth of Professor Biancalana's research and recognizes his study as a major and important advance in the field. The review goes on to say that the book will be a significant contribution to scholarship and its publication will add luster to the series of Cambridge studies in English Legal History
THE FEE TAIL AND THE COMMON RECOVERY IN MEDlEV AL ENGLAND 1176-1502 follows on other important scholarship by Professor Biancalana, including Actions of Covenant, 1200-1330, published in LAW AND HISTORY REVIEW (2002) and his COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW article, For Want of Justice: Legal Reforms of Henry II, marking the work of a distinguished scholar.
Professor Biancalana has also been asked to contribute a book to the Oxford History of the Laws of England entitled, THE OXFORD HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF ENGLAND, 1399-1483. The object of The Oxford History of the Laws of England is to furnish a comprehensive statement of what is known about the history of law and legal institutions in England from Anglo-Saxon times until the present century. The emphasis will be on the development of legal institutions, mechanisms and concepts, with reference to the practical, speculative, doctrinal, political, economic and social factors which may have influenced change. Contributors will take full account of recent scholarship, particularly in unprinted sources, and where necessary will undertake new research themselves. Each volume will also contain a detailed bibliography, including a survey of manuscript and record sources. The result will be a work of reference not only for specialist legal historians but for all historians who are interested in the workings of the legal system, and of the legal mind, at different stages of English history.
With the publication of his recent book, Professor Biancalana fulfills the promise shown as a young scholar. Evidence of his scholarly impact is clear from outside reviewers of his work. From Professor Thomas Green of the University of Michigan Law School: Professor Biancalana has "established himself as one ofa small band of scholars of the early common law that stands out from the remainder of the quite large contingent of people working in that field." Professor Charles Donahue of the Harvard Law School write: "Biancalana has clearly become one of those few scholars in English legal history to whose work everyone in the field is paying careful attention." Professor Donahue also writes that Professor Biancalana has convinced him that he was wrong about a subject and that he deserves tenure at any law faculty in the country. Professor Baker of Cambridge University writes that his "contribution is outstanding—to the point where one awaits eagerly his every publication." He continues, "His growing international standing would make him a good catch for any law faculty in the common-law world, and I do not doubt that other faculties will soon be after him (if they are not already)." Finally, Michael Hoeflich writes: "Professor Biancalana is one of the most gifted and technically proficient English legal historians writing today.
Professor Biancalana must now be numbered in the top English legal historians in this century." Professor Biancalana's scholarship has been recognized, winning the Sutherland Prize from the American Society of Legal History and he has delivered papers at Harvard Law School, New York University, and the University of London.
We congratulate Professor Joseph Biancalana on receiving the first Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award.