This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Since the common law could enforce a contract only by means of a writ, it follows from the foregoing facts that in the twelfth and a greater part of the thirteenth century, the king's courts recognized and enforced only two classes of contracts; those under seal, and those resulting in a fixed and liquidated indebtedness. For the numerous and varied contracts of other classes, no remedy was given, and under our view of what law is, we may say that no such right was recognized by the courts of the king. It must further be observed that debt and covenant were not limited to contracts as we understand them. Debt especially would lie for many cases which are now outside the pale of contract law, such as statutory penalties, amercements, forfeitures and the like.1