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Before Eminent Domain

Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

Susan Reynolds

Publication Year: 2010

Opening with allusions to a few suggestive examples from non-European societies and ancient Greece and Rome, the book concentrates on western Europe and the English colonies in America. As Reynolds argues, expropriation was a common legal practice in many societies in which individuals had rights to land. It was generally accepted that land could be taken from them, with compensation, when the community, however defined, needed it. She demonstrates that land has been taken, with compensation, for what has been perceived to be the public good at least since the early Middle Ages in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and since the seventeenth century in America.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Studies in Legal History

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Over the past few years I have made a number of friends and colleagues listen to my ramblings about expropriation for the public good. I am grateful to all of them for listening and discussing and especially to those who gave me references to cases or discussions I did not know of, namely: David Bates, Brenda Bolton, ...

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Chapter 1. Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Maitland died just over a year later, so that, what with his teaching, involvement with the Selden Society, writing the life of Leslie Stephen, and struggling with illness, it is not surprising that he never got around to exploring the history of eminent domain. ...

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Chapter 2. Western Europe before 1100

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pp. 15-32

Greece is certainly not part of western Europe, and only half, at most, of the Roman empire was, but it seems reasonable to say something about them here, if only because they are traditionally seen as the background to later European history. The Roman material is clearly relevant: ...

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Chapter 3. Western Europe and British North America, 1100–1800

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pp. 33-84

I start my argument about the practice of expropriation for the common good after 1100 with England, because, after providing the evidence from Domesday Book that I cited in chapter 2.3 and 2.5 of compensation paid to churches and Norman invaders for lands taken from them, ...

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Chapter 4. Justifications and Discussions

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pp. 85-110

As I have argued, using the evidence I have cited, the justice of expropriation for the public good seems to have been largely taken for granted. That being so, the rarity of formal discussions of the principle may be hardly surprising. Individual expropriations were indeed often justified by the stated or implied reason ...

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Chapter 5. Communities, Individuals, and Property

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pp. 111-140

In chapter 1 I remarked on an apparent lack of interest in expropriation for the common good on the part of historians of political thought, even those concerned with periods when the rights of property were much discussed.1 Most historians of expropriation have correspondingly had little to say about the political ideas and assumptions ..

Works Cited

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pp. 141-168


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pp. 169-175

E-ISBN-13: 9781469604282
E-ISBN-10: 1469604280
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833537
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833533

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Studies in Legal History