Random historical aspects of wills, estates and inheritance
A collection of links to short articles about interesting aspects of the development of the law on inheritance, wills and estates.
Succession and inheritance law in history
- Ancient inheritance laws etched in stone
- Inheritance and the Twelve tables – an ancient Roman Statute
- Wills and forgery in ancient times
- Magna Carta (Great Charter), the liberty of citizens & the rule of law
On the origins of wills
Solon (c 630- c560 BC) was a lawyer and statesman in Athens, Greece. He came from a noble family. According to Sir William Blackstone Solon was the first legislator to introduce wills into Athens at a time when wills were ‘totally discountenanced’ elsewhere in Greece. In those times a ‘will’ was known as a ‘testament’ or testamentum in Latin.
In Rome, Italy, wills were unknown until the laws of the Twelve Tables were compiled. The Laws of the Twelve Tables inscribed onto bronze tablets dealt mostly with private law between individuals. They first gave or provided for the right of bequeathing.
Archway over an ancient road at the archeological site of Heirapolis (meaning “sacred city”), adjacent to Pamukkale, Anatolia, Turkey. Image B Stead. Heirapolis-Pamukkale has World Heritage listing. View the detailed information on this important site produced by UNESCO on the World Heritage List here.
Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book II, 1723-1780.
New York Garland Pub. 1978, reprint of the 9th (1783) ed. printed
for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, London, and D. Prince, Oxford.
Updated 27 June 2021