a1 State University of New York, Binghamton
Twenty-five years ago J. G. A. Pocock first argued that the Norman conquest was the rock upon which all arguments for the continuity of the common law finally came to wreck. Believe in the conquest qua conquest, and you could not believe that English law represented a continuous stream of unviolated custom or fail to see it as very much the offspring of Norman parentage. In the English revolution, the Levellers exemplified the logical necessity of Pocock's argu ment. Having seen the conquest for what it was, the group criticized the common law as none other than a Norman yoke and surrendered all appeals to history. By re-examining the Leveller use of history, this essay tests that proposition, turning it not upside down but on its side, and suggests an alternative conclusion both about the Levellers and the doctrine of continuity itself.