Dave & Susan Caplan on common law self defense
I was reviewing an article by the late David Caplan and his wife, Susan Wimmershoff-Caplan, Postmodernism and the Model Penal Code, 73 UMKC Law Rev. 1080 (2005). Pretty interesting in that it shows, by citation to English cases from 1330 onward, that the common law version of the castle doctrine was simple. You could kill a person who broke into your house to steal, period. The 1330 case specifically recognized that this was so even if it was not in necessary self-defense. It was regarded as a good deed that benefitted the entire community. (In one early case, cited in Coke's Commentaries, the defender killed a burglar and the court said "he would receive from the law nothing but good.") If he was no menace, if he was fleeing -- who cares? He was a burglar, prove that and you walk.
This underscore a point Don Kates has made. Self-defense law, with its restrictions (including retreat in a minority of US jurisdictions) evolved against a background where thieves and other felons could be killed out of hand, so it never came to a matter of pleading self defense. Self defense only came into play when two people, with no other criminal intent, got into a fight. There it made sense to have restrictions such as retreat. (At earliest common law, self defense wasn't even a defense, it was just good grounds to apply for a pardon. Even that didn't stop forfeiture of your goods. Later it did apply to forfeiture, and pardon became routine -- the court made the finding and sent notice to the monarch, and the monarch sent back a pardon.)
Only when the courts and legislatures moved away from "open season on burglars" were the requirements of self defense made applicable to use of force against persons committing a felony. I suspect that, like many legal evolutions, it happened so slowly that no one realized it.
[UPDATE in light of comments: I haven't been able to find the article anywhere on line. David is dead and I don't know if Susan does much on the internet. What the Latin means, I cannot figure out. My days of Latin are around 35 years ago, and that sentence is a little too involved for me. Tucker didn't worry about it, since in his day knowing two classical languages was an entry requirement for most colleges. I read somewhere that, at the seige of Yorktown, many American and French officers conversed in Latin. With the English-French conflicts, learning the enemy language had not been important to them, but everyone who'd gone to a college knew Latin.]