I forgot to note that the “sticky” land rights of early England (think before the thirteenth century) led to much of the
See, I posted before about how the absence of good title records led to settling land disputes by a fight to the death.
What I forgot to mention was that a major contributor to this was that laws at the time made trade almost impossible.
Said another way:
If disputed land was the issue, why didn’t the person who valued it the most simply buy it from the other party?
Voluntary exchange – right? Everyone is made better off, by definition.
The answer is that the laws (feudalism) prevented this simple exchange.
And a clever way around the law – just like the auctioning of wives
Judicial combat used incentives to solve a social problem: how to allocate contested property to the person who valued it most when judges couldn’t know who it truly belonged to and sticky land rights prevented trade from doing the job for them. In solving this problem, trial by battle made society more economically productive, its members better off.
-Peter Leeson, WTF?! An Economic Tour Of The Weird