The first excerpt is from The Laws and Customs of England (1270). For notes on William de Ralegh and Henri de Bracton, see Part I, Chapter A, Section 2.
Jeffrie Murphy is a professor of legal and political philosophy at Arizona State University. He was educated at Johns Hopkins University ( B.A.) and the University of Rochester ( Ph.D.). Among his published works are Evolution, Morality, and the Meaning of Life ( 1982) and The Philosophy of Law ( 1984), coauthored with Jules Coleman. Murphy account of mercy, "Mercy and Legal Justice" ( 4 Social Philosophy and Policy 1 [ 1987]), is excerpted here. It was later elaborated in Forgiveness and Mercy ( 1988), which he coauthored with Jean Hampton.
First, that to the extent of his powers he will employ his might that true peace shall be observed all his time for the church of God and the whole Christian people. Secondly, that he will forbid robberies and all iniquities to all. Thirdly, that he will order equity and mercy in all judgments so the clement and merciful God will show him mercy and through his justice all will enjoy unbroken peace. For this the king is created and chosen, to do justice to all.
Therefore when he does justice he is the vicar of the eternal king but when he deviates to injury he is the minister of the devil; for he is called king from reigning well and not from reigning. He is the king while he reigns well, but a tyrant when he oppresses the people entrusted to him by violent domination. Let him therefore temper his power by the law which is the bridle of power, that he may live according to the laws, because the human law has decreed this that the laws bind their lawgiver.