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Valerie Allen is Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNYRuth Evans is Professor of English at Saint Louis University

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085062

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085062.001.0001

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Once a highway, always a highway

Once a highway, always a highway

roads and English law, c. 1150–1300

(p.50) 3 Once a highway, always a highway

Alan Cooper

Manchester University Press

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries English royal lawyers developed new doctrine to reverse a process that had undermined the status of highways.  They sought to preserve the highways’ utility and assert their connection to the king. The new doctrine drew from Roman law and allowed the royal government to take practical steps to clear roads of obstructions (known as "purprestures"), dismantle illegal tolls, and require landholders to perform maintenance. These new rules may be traced in such treatises as Glanvill, Bracton and Fleta, in the court rolls, and in statutes. By the end of the reign of Edward I (1272–1307), the idea "once a highway, always a highway" was established as an enduring legal principle.

Keywords:   Roman law, roads, highways, purprestures, Glanvill, Bracton, Fleta, tolls, Edward I

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