June, 2016

The Long Transition from a Natural State to a Liberal Economic Order

  • Mark Koyama

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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Read more at ScienceDirect. 

Magna Carta is often heralded as the foundation stone for the subsequent emergence of the rule of law in England. But what made it enforceable and ensured that its terms were adhered to by subsequent monarchs? This paper develops an institutional account of the emergence of the rule of law in medieval England that draws on the work of North, Wallis and Weingast (2009). I argue that the Magna Carta should be seen as just one episode in the long process of establishing a centralized but constrained state in England. Similar documents to Magna Carta were common throughout medieval Europe. It was the subsequent development of a consensus-based tax state that was of decisive important for the later emergence of the rule of law in medieval and early modern England.