Availing himself of the early legal constitution of England, he placed justice in the old local courts of the "hundred" and "shire," to which every freeman had access, and these courts he placed under the jurisdiction of the King alone. In Germany and France the vassal owned supreme fealty to his lord, against all foes, even the King himself. In England, the tenant from this time swore direct fealty to none save his King.

Parmele, Mary Platt. A Short History of England, Ireland and Scotland (p. 15). Kindle Edition.

To me, the bolded part of the sentence is equivalent to "... and he placed these courts under the jurisdiction of the King alone"... but I don't understand how could "and these courts he placed under the jurisdiction of the King alone" seems incomplete.

Could someone please explain to me the grammar of this sentence?

  • 1
    You could replace the word alone with sole. *And these courts he placed under the sole jurisdiction of the king. That's to say, the king's word was final. He was the supreme judge. – Ronald Sole Jun 12 '18 at 9:59

An inversion has happened. Compare:

He ate the apple. with

The apple, he ate.

The basic meaning is the same, but by fronting the object you draw attention to it. It suggests "the apple, and not the other thing". Always speaking this way makes you sound like Yoda, from star wars.

In the quoted paragraph we are talking about the courts. It is natural to bring the object to the front in this situation as it the thing that we are talking about, it should have the attention.

Here is an example:

Mark took from his bag an apple and a tomato; the apple he ate but the tomato he threw across the room.

The style here is rather formal, and more appropriate to written rather than spoken English. Instead of inversion the writer could have used a passive "... and these courts were placed under..." But that has a disadvantage of not mentioning who did the placing.

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