Harvard Law School Library

Bracton Online -- English

Previous   Volume 2, Page 45  Next    

Go to Volume:      Page:    

[001] is applicable to an island that adheres to the river bed, not to one kept in place by
[002] vegetation. If the island is a circular one it will be difficult to measure it. But this is
[003] clear, that everything nearer my land falls to me and so what is nearer my neighbour
[004] will fall to him. This rule will never fail. These observations are not applicable in
[005] the case of agri limitati, for there the right of alluvion has no place. Agri limitati
[006] are those assigned in certain localities and by fixed boundaries so that it may be
[007] known what was given to each and what retained and left [in public ownership].
[008] Nor does an island in a public stream cede to the nearer riparian owner if the lands
[009] concerned are agri limitati; it belongs rather to the first occupier,10 and consequently
[010] to the king by virtue of his privilege. 11The same kind of accession is
[011] applicable to the bed of a river which has been left dry; the old channel belongs to
[012] the riparian owners in proportion to their respective frontages on the stream. The
[013] new channel, however, begins to have the same legal character as the river itself,
[014] that is, a public character. For the river by forming a new channel makes private
[015] land public and public land private. Thus rivers are said to discharge the function
[016] of magistrates, that is, of judges or princes. For a judge or emperor often adjudges
[017] what belongs to one to another, justly or unjustly, in good faith or bad. Where a
[018] river has taken my land from me by the formation of a channel and afterwards
[019] returns to its former channel, in strict right I can claim nothing in the land formerly
[020] mine. It belongs to those who have lands along the banks. But this is hardly
[021] equitable and would not be enforced. Where the stream has not formed a new
[022] channel in my land but simply overflowed it, its identity is not changed nor its
[023] ownership in any way altered.12

Of accession made by human action, by joining together materials.

[025] 13So much of accession produced by the operation of natural forces alone. There is
[026] another kind, produced by the act of human beings alone, effected by joining one
[027] thing of the same or a different kind to another, by soldering or by melting
[028] together, as may be read in the Institutes,14 and it is there explained which part
[029] ought to cede to the other. If the things are joined by soldering, the lesser accrues
[030] to the greater or more valuable; if neither is more valuable, each owner will recover
[031] his own. The right of accession by the labor of human beings is also applicable to
[032] buildings, as


11. Br. and Azo, 108-11

11-12. Azo, Summa Inst. 2.1, no. 34

13. Br. and Azo, 112-15, 117-21

13-18. Azo, Summa Inst. 2.1, nos. 35-44

14. Azo, Summa Inst. 2.1, nos. 35-7; cf. Kantorowicz, 42, 94

Contact: specialc@law.harvard.edu
Page last reviewed April 2003.
© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College