Commentaries and institutes were common names for contemporary writer, lawyers, judges and others to analyze the law and bring together clearer explanations of what the law meant, and how it was interpreted. The two most widely influential such treatises are listed below, but many others exist.
Blackstone's Commentaries is often the first place one will look for an explanation of English law. There are over 80 editions of Blackstone's Commentaries in the Law Library. Most often, it is the first edition that is needed, yet older editions with editorial commentaries from other editors are often important as well. There is a finding aid to all the editions (reprints, microfiche or original) ofBlackstone's Commentaries available in Special Collections. A few editions are available in full print and on the web.
Coke's Institutes are in four parts, and known equally well as Coke's Institutes or First Part of the Institutes, Second Part of the Institutes, etc. Cites to Coke's Institutes are usually in the following form: 2 Inst., 1 Inst., etc. The First part of Coke's Institutes is also known as Coke on Littleton, orLittleton's Tenures. Listed here are the reprints, and some of the original editions available in the Library and Special Collections. Microfiche editions are also available in Media.