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CHAPTER VI: The Age of Glanvill - Sir Frederick Pollock, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, vol. 1 
The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I. Reprint of 2nd edition, with a Select Bibliography and Notes by Professor S.F. Milsom. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). Vol. 1.
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Select bibliography and notes by Professor S. F. C. Milsom, published here as an appendix, was originally published in Cambridge University Press’s 1968 reissue of The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I. Reprinted by permission of Cambridge University Press.
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The Age of Glanvill
The work of Henry II.The reign of Henry II. is of supreme importance in the history of our law, and its importance is due to the action of the central power, to reforms ordained by the king.1 Still it was rather as an organizer and governor than as a legislator that Henry was active. He issued no code; we may even doubt whether he published any one new rule which we should call a rule of substantive law; but he was for ever busy with new devices for enforcing the law. Much of what he did, much that was to determine the fate of our law in after ages, was done in an informal fashion without the pomp of legislation. A few words written or but spoken to his justices might establish a new mode of procedure. There would be nothing to be proclaimed to the world at large, for in theory there was no change in the law; and yet very surely the whole law of England was being changed both in form and in substance. To this administrative character of his reforms we may ascribe our lamentable lack of documentary evidence. New laws demanding the obedience of all his subjects would have been preserved; but a mere instruction given to his justices might not be embodied in any formal instrument and might well escape the notice of the most punctual chronicler. And so it came about that in a very short time many of the results of his activity were regarded, not as the outcome of ordinances, but as part and parcel of the traditional common law. A few ordinances or “assizes,” those which seemed most important to his contemporaries, found their way into the texts of the chroniclers; some have been recovered of late years out of almost unique manuscripts; but we have every reason to fear that others have been irretrievably lost.
Constitutions of Clarendon.The first great legal monument of the reign is, however, no ordinance. In 1164, when the dispute with Becket was waxing hot, Henry held a council at Clarendon and there caused a “recognition and record” to be made of certain of those customs, liberties and dignities that his ancestors had enjoyed. He called upon his nobles to declare the law of the realm as to the matters that were in debate between church and state. Their declaration of the king’s customs was put into a written, document, known to us as “the Constitutions of Clarendon,” and to this the bishops were required to append their seals.2 Henry was not legislating; according to his own theory he was playing a conservative part and relying upon prescriptive right. He demands a definition of the old law and then tenders this to the prelates as a concordat. Not long afterwards, probably in the first months of 1166,Assize of Clarendon. he was again holding an assembly at Clarendon and “by the counsel of all his barons” he issued an assize which made great changes in the administration of the criminal law. Whether this was intended to be a permanent measure or was merely to serve as an instruction for the justices who were just being sent out to hold an eyre, we cannot say for certain, but it was sufficiently new and stringent to require the consent of the magnates. We have, however, some reason for believing that on this same occasion Henry took another step which was to be of equal importance with that which is recorded by the words of our extant “Assize of Clarendon,” that he issued—it may be merely by way of instruction to his justices—an Assize of Novel Disseisin which in course of time was to mould the whole history of our civil procedure and to cut deeply into the body of our land law. The words of this ordinance or instruction have not come down to us; very soon they were concealed from view by the case-law which had grown up around them.Inquest of Sheriffs. In 1170 Henry instituted a grand inquiry into the conduct of the sheriffs whom he had removed from their offices. The instruction for this “Inquest of Sheriffs” we have: it is an early example of those articles of inquest by which, as time goes on, the whole machinery of justice is subjected to examination and amendment.Assize of Northampton. At Northampton in 1176 a fresh set of instructions was given to the itinerant justices; the Assize of Clarendon was to be enforced, but in a yet severer form. A brief clause in this Assize of Northampton seems to be the origin of the possessory action of “most d’ancestor” which takes its place beside the “novel disseisin.”3 An Assize of Arms from 1181, an Assize of the Forest from 1184, an Ordinance regulating the collection of the Saladin Tithe from 1188, an Assize of Bread of an uncertain date,—these seem to complete the list of the ordinances that have come down to us.4 For the rest, we may draw some inferences from the sheriffs’ accounts recorded in the annual pipe rolls, from the works of Glanvill and Richard FitzNeal and from the stories told by the chroniclers.5
Henry’s innovations. The jury and the original writ.If we try to sum up in a few words those results of Henry’s reign which are to be the most durable and the most fruitful, we may say that the whole of English law is centralized and unified by the institution of a permanent court of professional judges, by the frequent mission of itinerant judges throughout the land, by the introduction of the “inquest” or “recognition” and the “original writ” as normal parts of the machinery of justice. We must speak briefly of each of these matters, and will begin with that which modern Englishmen will be apt to think the most distinctive—the inquest, the recognition, trial by jury.6
Essence of the jury.The essence of the jury—if for a while we use the term “jury” in the widest sense that can be given to it—seems to be this: a body of neighbours is summoned by some public officer to give upon oath a true answer to some question. That question may take many different forms: it may or it may not be one which has arisen in the course of litigation; it may be a question of fact or a question of law, or again what we should now-a-days call a question of mixed fact and law. What are the customs of your district? What rights has the king in your district? Name all the landowners of your district and say how much land each of them has. Name all the persons in your district whom you suspect of murder, robbery or rape. Is Roger guilty of having murdered Ralph? Whether of the two has the greater right to Blackacre, William or Hugh? Did Henry disseise Richard of his free tenement in Dale?—The jury of trial, the jury of accusation, the jury which is summoned where there is no litigation merely in order that the king may obtain information, these all spring from a common root. On the other hand, we have to distinguish the jury from a body of doomsmen, and also from a body of compurgators or other witnesses adduced by a litigant to prove his case. A verdict, even though it may cover the whole matter that is in dispute between the litigants, even though it may declare that William has a better right to Blackacre than has Hugh, differs essentially from a judgment, a doom adjudging the land to William. Even though the form of the verdict and its conclusive force be such that the judgment must follow as mere matter of course, still between the sworn verdict and the judgment there is a deep gulf.7
Jurors, doomsmen and witnesses.If what we were seeking for were a court in which at the bidding of its president, of some national or royal officer, ealdorman or reeve, the inhabitants of a district, or some selected group, perhaps twelve, of such inhabitants, deemed the dooms, we should have no difficulty in discovering the origin of trial by jury. Everywhere we might find such courts, for during the earlier middle ages it is the exception, rather than the rule, that the judgment should be made by the lord or president of the court or by a group of professional justices. But what the jurors or recognitors of our twelfth century deliver is no judgment; they come to “recognize,” to declare, the truth: their duty is, not iudicia facere, but recognoscere veritatem. No less deep is the gulf which separates them from witnesses adduced by a litigant. If all that we wanted were witnesses, if all that we wanted were a fixed number of witnesses, for example, twelve, there would really be no problem before us. But the witnesses of the old Germanic folk-law differ in two respects from our jurors or recognitors:—they are summoned by one of the litigants, and they are summoned to swear to a set formula. The jurors are summoned by a public officer and take an oath which binds them to tell the truth, whatever the truth may be. In particular, they differ from oath-helpers or compurgators. The oath-helper is brought in that he may swear to the truth of his principal’s oath. Normally he has been chosen by the litigant whose oath he is to support, and even when, as sometimes happens, the law, attempting to make the old procedure somewhat more rational, compels a man to choose his oath-helpers from among a group of persons designated by his adversary or by his judges, still the chosen oath-helper has merely the choice between swearing to a set formula (“The oath is clean that A. B. hath sworn”) or refusing to swear at all. On the other hand, the recognitor must swear a promissory oath; he swears that he will speak the truth whatever the truth may be.
The jury a royal institution.Then on the face of our English history we seem to see that the jury is intimately connected with royal power. Not only do the king and his officers make the freest use of it in the form of “an inquest ex officio ” for the purpose of obtaining any information that they want about royal rights, local customs or other matters in which the king has an interest, but, as a part of legal procedure civil and criminal, the jury spreads outwards from the king’s own court. To the last, trial by jury has no place in the ordinary procedure of our old communal courts.
Origin of the jury.The English jury has been so highly prized by Englishmen, so often copied by foreigners, that its origin has been sought in many different directions. At the present day, however, there can be little doubt as to the quarter to which we ought to look.The Frankish inquest. We must look to the Frankish inquisitio, the prerogative rights of the Frankish kings. Not to the ordinary procedure of the Frankish courts; that, like the procedure of our own ancient communal courts, knows but such antique modes of proof as the ordeal and the oath with oath-helpers. But the Frankish king has in some measure placed himself outside the formalism of the old folk-law; his court can administer an equity which tempers the rigour of the law and makes short cuts to the truth.8 In particular, imitating, it may be, the procedure of the Roman fiscus,9 he assumes to himself the privilege of ascertaining and maintaining his own rights by means of an inquest. He orders that a group of men, the best and most trustworthy men of a district, be sworn to declare what lands, what rights, he has or ought to have in their district. He uses this procedure for many different purposes. He uses it in his litigation:—he will rely on the verdict of the neighbours instead of on battle or the ordeal. He uses it in order that he may learn how he is served by his subordinates:—the neighbours are required to say all that they know about the misconduct of the royal officers. He uses it in order that he may detect those grave crimes which threaten his peace:—the neighbours must say whether they suspect any of murders or robberies. The procedure which he employs in support of his own rights he can and does grant as a favour to others. In particular, he will concede to a church that its lands shall, like his demesne lands, be protected by inquest, and that the bishop, if his title be attacked, may put himself upon the verdict of his neighbours instead of abiding the risk of a judicial combat. All this we see in the Frankish empire of the ninth century; we see it in the Neustria which the Normans are invading. Then the deep darkness settles down. When it lifts we see in the new states that have formed themselves no central power capable of wielding the old prerogatives. For a long time to come the sworn inquest of neighbours will not be an utterly unknown thing in France; it will only be finally overwhelmed by the spread of the romano-canonical procedure. Even in Germany it will appear from time to time. Yet on the whole we may say that, but for the conquest of England, it would have perished and long ago have become a matter for the antiquary.
The jury in England.Such is now the prevailing opinion, and it has triumphed in this country over the natural disinclination of Englishmen to admit that this “palladium of our liberties” is in its origin not English but Frankish, not popular but royal. It is certain that of the inquest of office or of the jury of trial the Anglo-Saxon dooms give us no hint, certain also that by no slow process of evolution did the doomsman or the oath-helper become a recognitor. The only doubt that there can be is as to the jury of accusation, the jury as an organ of fama publica.
The twelve thegns.This species of the inquest is that which is the most likely to have penetrated beyond the limits of the empire, for within those limits it was adopted by the church for her own purposes. Just as the king might collect charges of crime, so the church might collect charges of sin. In the early part of the tenth century the canonist Regino of Prüm describes the bishop holding his synod, selecting a number of trustworthy men from among the assembled laity, administering to them an oath that they will tell the truth and conceal nothing for love or hate, reward or kinship, asking them to report their suspicions of their neighbours, and compelling to the ordeal or to compurgation those against whom bad tales are told.10 It would not be wonderful if this procedure spread from the Frankish church to the English. In the days of Dunstan and Oswald the English church was borrowing ideas and institutions from the Frankish. But we have no direct proof that at any time before the Conquest the English church did use this system of sworn communal accusation. There is, however, one law which must cause some difficulty. It is a law of Æthelred the Unready, published, so it would seem, in the year 997 and applicable only to the Danish district.11 In it we read how a moot is to be held in every wapentake, and how the twelve eldest thegns are to go out with the reeve and to swear upon the relic that he puts into their hands that they will accuse no innocent and conceal no guilty man. Certainly this looks like a jury of accusation; but the context will make us doubt whether we have here a law of any generality.12 There seem, however, to be good reasons for believing that some of the Scandinavian nations came by a route of their own to something that was very like the jury.13 The investigation of this matter is made the more difficult by the comparatively recent date of the Scandinavian law-books. No doubt there is here a field for research, but it seems unlikely that any new discovery will disturb the derivation of our English from the Frankish inquests. We cannot say a priori that there is only one possible origin for the jury, we cannot even say that England was unprepared for the introduction of this institution; but that the Norman duke brought it with him as one of his prerogatives can hardly be disputed.14
The inquest in the Norman age.Hardly had England been conquered, before the sworn inquest of neighbours appeared as part of the system of government and royal justice. The great fiscal record known to us as Domesday Book was compiled out of the verdicts of juries.15 The king makes use of the same engine in his own litigation; he can bestow the right to make use of it upon favoured churches;16 he can direct its employment in any particular case.17 We see too a close connexion between the jury of trial and the protection of possession, a connexion which is to become prominent hereafter. In the earliest case in which there is to our knowledge anything that could be called a trial by jury, the Conqueror directs his justiciars, Archbishop Lanfranc, the Count of Mortain and the Bishop of Coutances, to summon to one place the moots of several shires to hear a plea between the Abbot of Ely and divers other persons. Certain of the English who know what lands were held by the church of Ely on the day of the Confessor’s death are to declare their knowledge upon oath. This will be a verdict, not a judgment. The justices are to restore to the church, not all the lands that she had at the date thus fixed, but only such of them as no one claims under the Conqueror. A particular question, a question about possession at a given moment of time, is thus singled out as one that should be decided by a sworn inquest of neighbours.18 Had the Abbot of St. Augustin’s a ship free to cross the sea on the day when the king last went abroad? How many pigs free of pannage had the Abbot of Abingdon in the time of Henry I.? Did this land belong of old to Bridton or to Bridport?—Such and such like are the questions about which verdicts are taken. Still throughout the Norman period, trial by jury—the introduction of an inquest into the procedure of a law-suit—remains an exceptional thing. The Leges Henrici know nothing of it; the iudices who are there mentioned are not recognitors but doomsmen. Of the accusing jury on the other hand faint traces are to be found. We certainly cannot say that it was never used, but we read very little about it.19
Henry’s use of the inquest.Under Henry II. the exceptional becomes normal. The king concedes to his subjects as a royal boon his own prerogative procedure. This is done bit by bit, now for this class of cases and now for that. It is probable that while not yet king he had done something of the same kind in Normandy.20
The assize utrum.It is by no means unlikely that the class of disputes which was the first to be submitted to a jury as a matter of common practice was one in which the claims of the church came into collision with the claims of the state. In the twelfth century the church was asserting and establishing the principle that all litigation about land that had been given by way of alms to God and the saints should come before her courts. This principle was hardly disputed in Stephen’s day; but of course in many cases the question would arise—“Is this land alms or is it lay fee?” To allow the case to go for good and all either to the temporal or to the spiritual forum, would be to beg this preliminary question. Church and state are at issue, and neither should be judge in its own cause. The voice of the countryside about this question—which can be regarded as a question of fact, “Lay fee or alms?”—may be listened to; it comes, so to speak, from the outside and will be impartial. At any rate, Henry in the Constitutions of Clarendon claimed as one of the ancient customs of the realm that such a question should be decided by the oath of an inquest in the presence of his justiciar.21 In this as in other instances we have some evidence that the king’s claims were founded on past history. A story comes to us from the abbey of St. Albans which describes a lawsuit of Stephen’s day in which the question “Lay fee or alms?” was submitted to a jury charged to tell the truth both by the king and by the bishop of the diocese.22 Be this as it may, already in 1164 Henry asserted that a procedure which in after days was known as the assisa utrum was and ought to be a normal part of the machinery of justice. A “recognition” by twelve lawful men was to decide whether (utrum) the land in question was alms or lay fee.
The assize of novel disseisin.Some two years later, perhaps at the council held at Clarendon in the first months of 1166, Henry took a far more important step. He issued an ordinance and instituted a procedure: ordinance and procedure alike were known as the assize of novel disseisin (assisa novae disseisinae). At that council was published the edict known as the Assize of Clarendon, which deals with criminal matters and which served as instructions for the justices who were being sent out on a great eyre throughout the land. We fix this date as that of the assize of novel disseisin, because the next pipe roll, a roll which records the abundant profits reaped by the itinerant justices in the field of criminal law, gives us also our first tidings of men being amerced for disseisin “against the king’s assize”; from that moment onwards we get such tidings year by year.23
Import of the novel disseisin.Of this ordinance, which was in the long run to prove itself one of the most important laws ever issued in England, we have not the words. Bracton tells us that wakeful nights were spent over it,24 and we may well believe him, for the principle that was to be enforced was new and startling. It was this:—If one person is disseised, that is, dispossessed, of his free tenement unjustly and without a judgment, he is to have a remedy by royal writ: a jury is to be summoned; in the presence of the king’s justices it is to answer this simple question about seisin and disseisin; if it gives the plaintiff a verdict he is to be restored to his possession. We may state the matter in two other ways: by the one we may show what is being done for our private, by the other what is being done for our public law. (1) Possession or seisin, as something quite distinct from ownership or best right, is to be protected by an unusually rapid remedy. (2) The seisin of a free tenement, no matter of what lord it be holden, is protected by the king. Hereafter in connexion with property law we may speak of the private side of this new remedy and of its relation to the actio spolii of the canon law; here we have but to notice the great principle of public law that the king has laid down. The ownership of land may be a matter for the feudal courts: the king himself will protect by royal writ and inquest of neighbours every seisin of a free tenement. It is a principle which in course of time can be made good even against kings. The most famous words of Magna Carta will enshrine the formula of the novel disseisin.25
The grand assize.At some time or another in his reign Henry went further than this. He decreed that no man need answer for his free tenement without royal writ.26 He decreed also that in a proprietary action for land, an action proceeding in the feudal court, the defending party, the “tenant” as he was called, might have the action removed into the king’s court and the whole question of right determined by the verdict of neighbours. In this case the inquest bears the name of “the grand assize.”27 It is a far more solemn affair than the assize of novel disseisin and it speaks to the question of best right. The term “grand assize” would seem to point to some great ordinance; but the thought cannot but occur to us that the three principles which we have here stated may have been announced, and that the institutions which were to maintain them may have been fashioned, at one and the same time. In every case we see the royal protection of possession. No one is to be disseised of his free tenement unjustly and without a judgment; no one is to be disseised of his free tenement even by a judgment unless he has been summoned to answer by a royal writ; no one is to be forced to defend his seisin of a free tenement by battle.28 The ordinance that instituted the grand assize was a one-sided measure, a protection of possessors. The claimant had to offer battle; the possessor, if he pleased, might refuse battle and put himself upon the grand assize.
The assize of mort d’ancestor.Then to all seeming the council held at Northampton in 1176 instituted a second possessory assize, the assize of mort d’ancestor (assisa de morte antecessoris).29 Apparently we have the words whereby this was accomplished, though the practice of the courts soon left those words behind it. The principle of the novel disseisin is that one man, even though he claims and actually has the ownership of the land, is not to turn another man out of possession without first obtaining a judgment. The principle of the mort d’ancestor is that if a man has died in seisin, that is, possession of a tenement, and was not holding it as a mere life-tenant, his heir is entitled to obtain possession of it as against every other person, no matter that such person claims and actually has a better right to the land than the dead man had. Such a right, if it exists, must be asserted in an action: it is not to be asserted by “self-help,” by a seizure of the vacant tenement. Another and a heavy blow is thus struck at feudal justice, for the defendant in an assize of mort d’ancestor is very likely to be the dead tenant’s lord, who will have seized the lands upon some pretext of making good his seignorial claims. Another use is found for the inquest of neighbours, for the questions whether the dead man died seised and whether the claimant is his heir will be decided by verdict.
The assize of darrein presentment.Scarcely less important than litigation about land is litigation about the advowsons of churches. Henry has here asserted as against the church that such litigation belongs to a temporal forum, and as against the feudatories that it belongs to the king’s own court.30 A proprietary action for an advowson must be begun in the king’s court by royal writ, “writ of right of advowson”; the claimant must offer battle; his adversary may choose between battle and the grand assize. Then at some time or another during his reign Henry gave a possessory action, the assize of darrein presentment (assisa de ultima presentatione), which stands to the writ of right of advowson in somewhat the same relation as that in which the novel disseisin stands to the writ of right for land. If the church is vacant and two persons are quarrelling about the advowson, it is very necessary that some provisional, some possessory judgment should be given. Especially necessary is this after the Lateran Council of 1179, for should the church remain vacant for a few months the diocesan bishop will fill up the vacancy.31 The principle of the new assize is, simply stated, this: “He who presented last time, let him present this time also; but this without prejudice to any question of right.” An inquest of neighbours is summoned to declare who it was that presented the last parson.32
Assize and jury.Thus the sworn inquest begins to make its way into our ordinary civil procedure. In a proprietary action for land or for advowson, the “tenant,” the passive party, may, rejecting battle, “put himself upon the grand assize of our lord the king,” and an inquest will then declare who has the better right. In four other cases a plaintiff may begin proceedings by obtaining a royal writ, which will direct that an inquest shall answer a particular question formulated in the writ. These four cases are the subject-matter of the four petty assizes, (1) the assize utrum, (2) the novel disseisin, (3) the mort d’ancestor, (4) the darrein presentment. It is probable that for a short while a few other cases were met in a similar fashion; but in a little time we have these four and only these four petty assizes. Only in these four instances does the writ which is the first step in the procedure, “the original writ,” direct the empanelling of an inquest. Trial by jury, in the narrowest sense of that term, trial by jury as distinct from trial by an assize, slowly creeps in by another route. The principle from which it starts is simply this, that if in any action the litigants by their pleadings come to an issue of fact, they may agree to be bound by the verdict of a jury and will be bound accordingly. In course of time the judges will in effect drive litigants into such agreements by saying, “You must accept your opponent’s offer of a jury or you will lose your cause”; but in theory the jury only comes in after both parties have consented to accept its verdict. An assize, other than a grand assize, is summoned by the original writ; it is summoned at the same time that the defendant is summoned and before his story has been heard; a jury is not summoned until the litigants in their pleadings have agreed to take the testimony of “the country” about some matter of fact. In course of time the jury, which has its roots in the fertile ground of consent, will grow at the expense of the assize, which has sprung from the stony soil of ordinance. Even an assisa when summoned will often be turned into a jury (vertitur in juratam) by the consent of the parties. But still trial by jury, if we use this term in a large sense, and neglect some technical details, is introduced by the ordinances of Henry II. as part of the usual machinery of civil justice. Already before the end of his reign it fills a large space in Glanvill’s text-book. The old modes of proof are not abolished; proof by battle we shall have with us until 1819,33 proof by oath-helpers until 1833;34 but from this moment onwards they are being pushed into the background.
The system of original writs.Closely connected with the introduction of trial by inquest is the growth of that system of original writs which is soon to become the ground-plan of all civil justice. For a long time past the king at the instance of complainants has issued writs, which either bade their adversaries appear in the royal court to answer the complaint, or else committed their causes to the care of the sheriff or of the feudal lord and commanded that right should be done to them in the county court or the seignorial court. Such writs were wont to specify with some particularity the subject-matter of the complaint. The sheriff, for example, was not merely told to entertain a suit which the Abbot of Abingdon was bringing against the men of Stanton: he was told to do full right to the abbot in the matter of a sluice which, so the abbot alleged, had been broken by the men of Stanton. As the king’s interference becomes more frequent and more normal, the work of penning such writs will naturally fall into the hands of subordinate officials, who will follow precedents and keep blank forms. A classification of writs will be the outcome; some will be granted more or less as a matter of course, will be brevia de cursu, writs of course; those which are directed to a feudal lord will be distinguished from those which are directed to a sheriff; those which bid the sheriff do justice, from those which bid him summon the defendant to the king’s own court; those which relate to the ownership of land from those which relate to debts. But the introduction of the possessory assizes gives to this system of writs a peculiar definiteness and rigidity. The new actions have a new procedure appropriate to them and are governed by carefully worded formulas. Thus the first writ issued in an assize of novel disseisin commands the sheriff to summon an inquest in order that one precise question may be answered:—Did B unjustly and without a judgment disseise A of his free tenement in X since the king’s last journey into Normandy? At countless points an action thus begun will differ from a proprietary action for land begun by a writ of right; both of them will differ from an action of debt, and even between the several possessory assizes many distinctions must be drawn, in particular as to the number of “essoins,” excuses for non-appearance, that the litigants may proffer. Thus before the end of Henry’s reign we must already begin to think of royal justice—and this is becoming by far the most important kind of justice—as consisting of many various commodities each of which is kept in a different receptacle. Between these the would-be litigant must make his choice; he must choose an appropriate writ and with it an appropriate form of action. These wares are exposed for sale; perhaps some of them may already be had at fixed prices, for others a bargain must be struck. As yet the king is no mere vendor, he is a manufacturer and can make goods to order. The day has not yet come when the invention of new writs will be hampered by the claims of a parliament. But still in Glanvill’s day the officina iustitiae has already a considerable store of ready-made wares and English law is already taking the form of a commentary upon writs.
The accusing jury.The accusing jury also has become part of the ordinary mechanism of justice. The first definite tidings that we get of it are somewhat puzzling. To all seeming Henry insisted, first for Normandy in the year 1159, and then for England in the year 1164, that the ecclesiastical courts ought to make use of this institution. Laymen ought not to be put to answer in those courts upon a mere unsworn suggestion of ill fame. Either someone should stand forth and commit himself to a definite accusation, or else the ill fame should be sworn to by twelve lawful men of the neighbourhood summoned for that purpose by the sheriff: in other words, the ecclesiastical judge ought not to proceed ex officio upon private suggestions.35 Henry seems to be forcing this rule upon reluctant prelates, and at the same time to be asserting that it is an ancient rule. From this we may perhaps infer that the synodal jury, described to us by Regino of Prüm, had been known in Normandy—it may be, in England also—but that of late it had been thrust aside by a laxer procedure which was less fair to the laity. This part of the story must remain very obscure.36 However in 1166 the accusing jury becomes prominent. In every county twelve men of every hundred and four men of every township are to swear that they will make true answer to the question whether any man is reputed to have been guilty of murder, robbery, larceny, or harbouring criminals since the king’s coronation. Those who are thus accused must go to the ordeal. Even if they are successful there, even, that is to say, though the judgment of God is in their favour, they must abjure the realm. Ten years later at Northampton a sharper edge was given to this new weapon; forgery and arson were added to the list of crimes for which inquisition was to be made; the criminal who failed at the ordeal was to lose a hand beside that foot of which the earlier ordinance deprived him. The new ordinance was to endure during the king’s good pleasure. Such inquests were to be taken before the itinerant justices of the king; they were also to be taken by the sheriffs, and here we may see the origin of those inquisitions into crime which in later days the sheriff makes twice a year as he takes his “turn” through the hundreds.37 Every time that the justices are sent on their rounds the king can at pleasure add to the list of questions that they are to put to the jurors; in the next century that list, the articles of the eyre (capitula itineris), will be long and will be constantly growing longer. Closely connected with the discovery of crimes is the ascertainment of the king’s rights. Criminal justice is one source of revenue, but there are others, and the inquest may be used for their detection. From the verdicts of local juries the king collects whatever information he may require about his demesne lands, his feudal rights, the receipts of his sheriffs, the misconduct of his officers.
Structure of the king’s court.There can be no doubt that one result of these various measures was to increase at a rapidly accelerating rate the amount of judicial business that was transacted in the king’s name. The functions of his court were changed and a corresponding change in its structure became necessary. It was no longer to be an extraordinary tribunal, a court for great men, for great causes, for matters that concerned the king; it was to become an ordinary tribunal for the whole realm. Many difficulties, however, meet us if we attempt to define the structural changes.38 In the first place, we are tempted to use terms which are more precise than those that were current in the twelfth century. In particular we are wont to speak of the Curia Regis without remembering that the definite article is not in our documents. Any court held in the king’s name by the king’s delegates is Curia Regis. Thus the institution of what in course of time will be a new tribunal, a Court of King’s Bench or a Court of Common Pleas, may be found in some small rearrangement, some petty technical change, which at the moment passes unnoticed. In the second place, the form which his court shall take, the mode in which it shall do justice, these are matters for the king; he is very free to decide them from day to day as he pleases, and this by a few spoken words. In the third place, we have direct evidence that Henry tried experiment after experiment.39 He was keenly interested in the work of justice and learnt from year to year the lessons that experience taught him. Therefore it is but too possible that we may give undue weight to this or that passage in a chronicle. However, from the year 1178 we hear that the king has chosen five men, two clerks and three laymen, who are not to depart from the king’s court but are to hear all the complaints of the kingdom; questions that they cannot decide are to be reserved for the king and his wise men.40 We here see the definite selection of a small number of men who are to do justice habitually. The court that they are to hold is to be a permanent and a central court; but a reserve of justice is to remain in the king and his councillors. It is probable that we have here a measure of great permanent importance. From the following years we begin to get records which seem to put before us a tribunal which in the main is like that here described. It sits term after term; usually at Westminster, often at the exchequer. It is constituted by the king’s most trusted advisers. There is Ranulf Glanvill who in 1180 became chief justiciar. There are the three famous clerks who have served Henry well during the fierce strife with Becket, Richard of Ilchester, now Bishop of Winchester, John of Oxford, now Bishop of Norwich, Geoffrey Ridel, now Bishop of Ely. There is the treasurer, Richard son of Nigel, who is to be Bishop of London. A little later there is Hubert Walter, who is rising to greatness. Some laymen there will be; but earls and powerful barons are conspicuously absent. We cannot fix the number of the justices. Sometimes ten or twelve will be mentioned. But the court seems to have, as it were, a fringe; the chief justiciar, the treasurer, two or three bishops, will usually be sitting, while others come and go; some of them may be away upon circuits; others who are named may be not justices, but chamberlains or sewers; and the king is still making experiments, trying now one man and now another.41
The central court.However, we may say that before the end of the reign there is a permanent central tribunal of persons expert in the administration of justice—of sworn judges.42 It can be distinguished from the courts held by the itinerant justices, for, though every such court is curia Regis, this is capitalis curia Regis.43 It can be distinguished from the exchequer, for, though it often sits at the exchequer, and though its principal justices will be also the principal barons of the exchequer,44 it has a seal of its own and may well sit away from Westminster, while the fiscal business could hardly be transacted elsewhere.45 It can be distinguished from those great councils of prelates and nobles that the king holds from time to time; questions too high for it are to be reserved for such councils.46 Probably it is already getting the name of “the bench” and its justices are “justices residing at the bench.”47 Though it is curia Regis and capitalis curia Regis it is not necessarily held coram ipso Rege. Apparently the writs that summon litigants before it, bid them appear “before the king or before his justices,” that is to say, before the king if he happens to be in England and doing justice, and if not, then before his justices.48 No doubt when the king is in this country he will sometimes preside in court, but whether the justices will then follow the king in his progresses, we cannot say for certain; as a matter of fact during the last eight years of his reign the king’s visits to England were neither frequent nor long. Westminster seems to be becoming the home of this tribunal; but as yet all its arrangements are easily altered.
Itinerant justices.The visitation of the counties by itinerant justices has become systematic. From the early years of the reign we hear of pleas held on circuit by Richard Lucy the chief justiciar, by Henry of Essex the constable, and by Thomas Becket the chancellor. In 1166 the assize of Clarendon was enforced by a party of justices headed by Richard Lucy and Earl Geoffrey of Mandeville. In 1168 Richard of Ilchester, Guy the dean of Waltham, William Basset and Reginald Warenne visited most of the counties. In 1175 the north and east were perambulated by Ranulf Glanvill and Hugh of Cressi, the south and west by William of Lanvallei and Thomas Basset, while the king himself seems to have been journeying with other justices in his suite.49 In 1176 to execute the assize of Northampton eighteen justices were employed and the country was divided into six circuits; in 1179 twenty-one justices were employed and the country was divided into four circuits; indeed from 1176 onwards hardly a year went by without there being a visitation of some part of England. These itinerant justices seem to have been chiefly employed in hearing the pleas of the crown (for which purpose they were equipped with the power of obtaining accusations from the local juries) and in entertaining some or all of the new possessory actions. The court that they held was, as already said, curia Regis; but it was not capitalis curia Regis, and probably their powers were limited by the words of a temporary commission. They were not necessarily members of the central court, and they might be summoned before it to bear record of their doings;50 still it was usual that each party of justices should include some few members of the permanent tribunal. Also the counties were frequently visited for fiscal purposes, justices or barons of the exchequer being sent there to assess aids and tallages, while the chief justice of the forest often traversed the land and afflicted the people.
Cases in the king’s court.No judicial rolls of the reign have come down to us, but during the last years of it such records were being compiled.51 For our knowledge of what went on in the courts we have still to look to annalists and biographers, and they are apt to give us not the usual but the extraordinary. We dare not, for example, draw many general inferences about the constitution and procedure of the king’s court from that famous scene in the castle of Northampton, in which Henry and Becket were the principal actors. We see, however, that, even though the king was angry and was striving to crush one who had become his enemy, he did not venture to pass judgment. To find the judgment at the king’s request was the function of the assembled prelates and nobles, or, if the prelates would not aid in the work, then the lay barons would do it. Even the duty of pronouncing the judgment was delegated; it was committed to the justiciar, the Earl of Leicester.52
Scenes in court.Another life-like, if not impartial, story tells of a great suit between the Abbot of Battle and the Bishop of Chichester, another of a similar suit between the Abbot of St. Albans and the Bishop of Lincoln. In both cases abbatial privileges were urged against episcopal rights; in both the bishop practically lost his cause; but in both papal claims were involved, and the king, who had no mind to break with the pope, succeeded in bringing about what was in form a compromise; in neither case therefore was a judgment pronounced. In the one,53 which occurred in 1157, the king sat in the chapter house of the monks at Colchester. Around him were the two archbishops, three bishops, his chancellor (Becket), the two chief justiciars (the Earl of Leicester and Richard Lucy) and several other barons, while the hall was filled by no small multitude of the people.54 At times, it would seem, the king retired with a few chosen councillors, the chancellor, the two justiciars, the constables of England and Normandy, a chamberlain and a clerk, and gave a private audience to one of the parties. Some of the principal members of the court had openly and warmly taken sides before the discussion began. The justiciar Lucy was the abbot’s brother, and played the part of an advocate rather than of a judge; the chancellor also had espoused the abbot’s cause, and they and other members of the court took counsel with the abbot while the case was proceeding. The dispute between the Abbot of St. Albans and the Bishop of Lincoln55 was heard by the king in the chapel of St. Catherine at Westminster in the year 1163. He was surrounded by the prelates and nobles; no less than thirteen bishops were present. But again we see the king retiring to consult with a much smaller body, which consisted of the Earl of Leicester, Richard de Hommet the constable of Normandy, and that expert clerk, Richard of Ilchester. Along with these he carefully perused the St. Albans charters, and showed, so the monks said, a wisdom comparable to that of Solomon,56 for he declared that the unsealed land-books of the Anglo-Saxon kings were as good as sealed since they were confirmed by a sealed charter of Henry I. In vain another of the king’s confidential clerks, Geoffrey Ridel, disturbed this private session, and suggested defects in the abbot’s title; the king turned him out of the room. The public session was resumed; the king delivered an opinion unfavourable to the bishop—“privileges prevail against prescription”57 —but advised a compromise; the bishop confessed the immunity of the abbey and got some land in return for the confession. On another occasion the king sitting at Clarendon heard a suit between the Abbot of Battle and Gilbert de Balliol.58 The justiciar, Richard Lucy, was present, but Henry took a prominent part in the discussion, maintaining the validity of the royal charters produced by the abbot and swearing by God’s eyes that such charters cost him dear. Still the judgment was given by the unanimous consent of the whole court. Short of proclaiming his own will to be the judgment of his court, there was little that he could not or would not do by way of controlling all the justice that was done in his name. During the early years of his reign, though he was abroad and though he had left a justiciar in England, he maintained this control. The Abbot of St. Albans sent all the way to Toulouse for a writ directing the justiciar to rehear a case, in which, in consequence of the abbot’s default, certain lands had been adjudged to his adversary. He had to pay the heavy sum of a hundred pounds for that writ, and certainly it was of no ordinary kind, for he had scorned to appear in a court held by a mere justiciar.59 But even for ordinary writs men had to go abroad.
The Anesty case.The curious story told by Richard of Anesty has often been re-told.60 He was claiming as heir to his uncle certain lands of which Mabel of Francheville, whom he asserted to be illegitimate, was in possession.61 He had to begin by sending to Normandy for the king’s writ; soon after he had to send for another writ directed to the archbishop, since the question of bastardy would be transmitted to the ecclesiastical court. The litigation in the spiritual forum was tedious; he was adjourned from place to place, from month to month. The king summoned the army for the expedition to Toulouse; Richard had to go as far as Gascony for yet another royal writ bidding the archbishop proceed despite the war. The litigation went on for another year, during which he appeared in the archbishop’s court on some ten different occasions. Once more he had to visit France, for he required the king’s licence for an appeal to the pope. He sent his clerks to Rome and the pope appointed judges delegate. Then his adversary appealed, and again he had to send representatives to Rome. At length the pope decided in his favour. Thereupon the case came back to the royal court and week after week he had to follow it. The king appointed two justices to hear his cause, and at length by the king’s grace and the judgment of the king’s court he obtained the wished for lands.62 Many comments might be made upon this story. It will not escape us that in these early years of Henry’s reign royal justice is still very royal indeed. Though the king has left his justiciar in England, there is no one here who can issue what we might have supposed to be ordinary writs. A great change in this most important particular must soon have taken place. The judicial rolls of Richard I.’s reign are largely occupied by accounts of law-suits about very small pieces of ground between men of humble station, men who could not have laboured as Anesty laboured or spent money as he spent it. But throughout his reign Henry took an active share in the work of justice. Even when he had appointed judges to hear a cause, they would advise the successful litigant to wait until a judgment could be given by the king’s own mouth.63 He was at heart a lawyer, quite competent to criticize minutely the wording of a charter, to frame a new clause and give his vice-chancellor a lesson in conveyancing;64 quite willing on the other hand to confess that there were problems that he could not solve.65 No doubt he sold his aid; he would take gifts with both hands; he expected to be paid for his trouble. He sold justice, but it was a better article than was to be had elsewhere.
The Spanish suit.Walter Map has told us how in the Exchequer a poor man obtained an expeditious judgment against a rich antagonist. Of this as of a marvellous thing he spoke to Ranulf Glanvill. Yes, said the justiciar, we are quicker about our business than your bishops are. Very true, replied Map, but you would be as dilatory as they are if the king were as far away from you as the pope is from the bishops. Glanvill smiled.66 And then Map tells how all who had a good cause wished that it might come before the king himself, and he recalls a great day in the history of English law, the day when our king’s court entertained a plea between the king of Castile and the king of Navarre.67 Certainly this was no mean event; the kings of the south had acknowledged that there was excellent justice to be had in England, and if this was so, to Henry II. the praise is due.68 In the middle of the next century Henry III. had quarrelled with Bracton’s master and patron, Bishop William Raleigh, and a proposal was made that the dispute should be referred to the legal faculty at Paris. Raleigh rejected this plan, saying that there were good enough lawyers in England, and that time was when the greatest princes of the earth submitted their causes to English lawyers.69 This boast was not baseless: Henry II. had made it true.
Law and letters.After many experiments he committed the ordinary work of justice to a court of experts, to a learned court. It was well leavened by laymen; a layman presided over it; there was no fear of its meekly accepting the romano-canonical system; but among its most active members were great clerks, and the high rank that they had won, for they had become bishops, would have made them influential members, even had they been less able than they were. But they were able. We speak of such men as Richard of Ilchester, John of Oxford and Geoffrey Ridel, who had lived in the large world, who had been in France, Germany, Italy, who had seen men and cities, pope and emperor, and had written the dispatches of a prince whose policy was at work in every corner of Western Christendom. Very different were they from the English judges of the fourteenth century. Law and literature grew up together in the court of Henry II. Roger Hoveden the chronicler70 and Walter Map the satirist71 were among his itinerant justices. Law becomes the subject of literature in the Dialogue on the Exchequer and the treatise ascribed to Glanvill.
Richard Fitz Neal.The Dialogus de Scaccario is an anonymous book, but there can be little doubt that we are right in ascribing it to Richard Fitz Neal; that is to say, to Richard the son of that Nigel, Bishop of Ely, who was the nephew of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the great minister of Henry I.72 For three generations, first Roger, then Nigel, then Richard, held high offices in the king’s court and exchequer. Richard himself became treasurer in or about the year 1158; in 1189 he became Bishop of London, but he retained the treasurership until his death in 1198.73 He was a well-educated man, knew something of the classical Latin literature, had heard of Aristotle and Plato, could make a hexameter upon occasion, and was fond of the technical terms of logic;74 he acted as a royal justice; he wrote a history of his own time, the lost Tricolumnis;75 but above all he was a financier and knew all that experience and tradition could teach about the history and practice of the exchequer. He seems to have set to work on his Dialogue in the year 1177, and to have finished it in 1179 or thereabouts, when already for twenty years he had been the king’s treasurer.76
Dialogue on the Exchequer.The book stands out as an unique book in the history of medieval England, perhaps in the history of medieval Europe. A high officer of state, the trusted counsellor of a powerful king, undertakes to explain to all whom it may concern the machinery of government. He will not deal in generalities, he will condescend to minute details. Perhaps the book was not meant for the general public so much as for the numerous clerks who were learning their business in the exchequer,77 but still that such a book should be written, is one of the wonderful things of Henry’s wonderful reign. We may safely say that it was not published without the king’s licence, and yet it exposes to the light of day many things which kings and ministers are wont to treat as solemn mysteries of state. We should know far more of the history of government than ever will be known, could we have a Dialogue on the Exchequer from every century; but we have one only, and it comes from the reign of Henry II. Henry was so strong that he had nothing to conceal; he could stand criticism; his will and pleasure if properly explained to his subjects would appear as reasonable, and at any rate would not be resisted.78 And so his treasurer expounded the course of proceedings in the exchequer, the constitution of this financial board, its writs and its rolls, the various sources of royal income, the danegeld and the murder fine, the collection of the debts due to the king, the treatment of his debtors, and, coming to details, he described the chess-board and the counters, the tallies, the scales and the melting-pot. But for him, we should have known little of the administrative and fiscal law of his time or of later times—for the rolls of the exchequer sadly need a commentary—but, as it is, we may know much.
Ranulf Glanvill.What the treasurer’s Dialogue did for administrative and fiscal law was done by another book for private and criminal law. That book has long been attributed to one who held a yet higher office than the treasurer’s, to Ranulf Glanvill, the chief justiciar.
His life.Ranulf Glanvill79 came of a family which ever since the Conquest had held lands in Suffolk; it was not among the wealthiest or most powerful of the Norman houses, but was neither poor nor insignificant. Probably for some time before 1163, when he was made sheriff of Yorkshire, he had been in the king’s service; he had lately been one of those “friends, helpers and pleaders” who had aided Richard of Anesty in his famous law-suit.80 The shrievalty of Yorkshire was an office that Henry would not have bestowed upon an untried man; Glanvill held it for seven years. In 1174, being then sheriff of Lancashire and custodian of the honour of Richmond, he did a signal service to the king and the kingdom. At a critical moment he surprised the invading Scots near Alnwick, defeated them and captured their king. From that time forward he was a prominent man, high in the king’s favour, a man to be employed as general, ambassador, judge and sheriff. In 1180 he became chief justiciar of England, prime minister, we may say, and viceroy. Henry seems to have trusted him thoroughly and to have found in him the ablest and most faithful of servants. Henry’s friends had of necessity been Richard’s enemies, and when Henry died, Richard, it would seem, hardly knew what to do with Glanvill. He decided that the old statesman should go with him on the crusade. To Acre Glanvill went and there in the early autumn of 1190 he died of sickness.
Tractatus de Legibus. Whether he wrote the book that has long borne his name is a doubtful question. Some words of the chronicler Roger Hoveden, his contemporary, may mean that he did write it; but they are obscure words.81 On the other hand, the title which it generally bears in the manuscripts seems to imply that he did not write it. It is called “A Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England composed in the time of King Henry the Second while the honourable (illustris vir) Ranulf Glanvill held the helm of justice”; but we cannot be certain that this title is as old as the book. Such a title would sufficiently explain the fact that in the thirteenth century the book was already known as the “Summa quae vocatur Glaunvile.”82 From internal evidence we infer that it was written before Henry’s death, that is before the 6th of July, 1189, and yet that it was not completed before the month of November, 1187.83 Certainly we cannot say that Glanvill was incapable of writing it, for, though a book written by a layman would at this time have been an extremely rare thing, we know that Glanvill was not illiterate and could pass remarks on the illiteracy of the English gentry.84 It is a more serious objection that during the stormy last years of Henry’s reign the faithful and hardworked justiciar can have had but little leisure for writing books.85 To this we must add that the author of the treatise writes, not as a statesman, but as a lawyer. He speaks not as one in authority, but as one who is keenly interested in the problems of private law and civil procedure, and he is not ashamed to confess that he raises more questions than he can answer. He feels the impulse of scientific curiosity. No doubt Ranulf Glanvill was, like his master, a many-sided man, but his life was very busy, and we cannot but think that such a book as this came from the pen of some clerk who had time for reading and for juristic speculations. We should not be surprised if it were the work of Glanvill’s kinsman and secretary, Hubert Walter, who in his turn was to become a chief justiciar.86 The question is interesting rather than important, for, though we would gladly know the name of the man who wrote our first classical text-book, it is plain that he was one who was very familiar with the justice done in the king’s court during the last years of Henry II. We may go further, we may safely say that it was not written without Glanvill’s permission or without Henry’s.
Roman and canon law in the Tractatus.The writer knew something of Roman and of canon law. Perhaps he had read the Institutes; probably his idea of what a law-book should be had been derived from some one of the many small manuals of romano-canonical procedure that were becoming current.87 He does not however adopt the arrangement of the Institutes as the plan of his treatise, and he cannot have followed any foreign model very far. The first sentences of his book are a good example of his method:—“Of pleas some are civil, some are criminal. Again, of criminal pleas some pertain to the crown of our lord the king, others to the sheriffs of the counties. To the king’s crown belong these: the crime which in the [Roman] laws is called crimen laesaemaiestatis, —as by slaying the king or by a betrayal of his person or realm or army,—the concealment of treasure trove, breach of his peace, homicide, arson, robbery, rape, forgery, and the like.” We have but to contrast these sentences with the parallel passages, if such we may call them, in the Leges Henrici to see the work of the new jurisprudence.88 The dilemma “criminal or civil” is offered to every plea. This is new and has been foreign to English law. In the disorderly list of the pleas of the crown a great simplification has been effected: homicide, for example, is now always a plea of the crown and we can finish the list with a “si quae sunt similia” which leaves scope for rationalism. And yet the materials that are used are ancient; the terms which describe the crimen laesae maiestatis are rooted in the old law. And so throughout: we have no reason to suspect that the writer is giving us his theories instead of the practice of the king’s court. What he has borrowed from the new jurisprudence consists first of a few general distinctions, such as that between criminal and civil pleas, that between possessory and proprietary actions—distinctions which are already becoming well-marked outlines in the procedure of the royal court,—and secondly a logical method which we may call dilemmatic. We have to consider—for naturally procedure is placed in the forefront—how an action is carried on. The defendant is summoned. Either he appears or he does not appear. If he does not appear, either he sends an excuse or he sends none. If he sends an excuse, it must be of this kind or of that:—and so forth. And at every turn the writer has to consider the wording of those royal writs that are becoming the skeleton of English law. Substantive law comes in incidentally, and we are allowed to see that some very elementary problems are still unsolved, for example, that simple problem in the law of primogenitary inheritance which on King Richard’s death will be raised between John and Arthur.89 Again, there is a great deal of customary law administered in the local courts of which he professes his ignorance.90 Old rules about wer and wíte and bót may still be lurking in out-of-the-way places; but he says nothing of them. He says nothing of the laga Eadwardi and betrays no acquaintance with those books which have professed to set forth that ancient system. He is concerned only with the “chief” or “principal” court of our lord the king, and just because that court is making a common law by way of commentary on royal assizes and royal writs and is not much hampered by custom or even by precedent,—for as yet we have no citation of precedents, no “case law”—he is able to write his lucid book. It became popular. Many manuscripts of it are yet extant. Seventy years after it was written lawyers were still using it and endeavouring to bring it up to date.91 Someone was at pains to translate it from Latin into French.92 A version of it known as Regiam Maiestatem became current in Scotland.93
English and continental literature.We may fairly say that under Henry II., England takes for a short while the lead among the states of Europe in the production of law and of a national legal literature. No other prince in Europe could have enforced those stringent assizes, and he could not have enforced them in all of his continental dominions. The most in the way of legislation that a king of the French could do, the most that an emperor could do in Germany, was to make for the maintenance of the peace rather a treaty with his vassals than a law for his subjects.94 No one had been legislating since the last Carolingians issued the last capitularies; law had been taking the form of multi-tudinous local customs. The claims of the renovated, the scientific, Roman law were unbounded; but north of the Alps it was only beginning to influence the practice of the temporal tribunals. We cannot call Glanvill’s treatise the earliest text-book of feudal jurisprudence, for parts at least of the Libri Feudorum, the work of Lombard lawyers, belong to the first half of the twelfth century, and some parts of the Assizes of Jerusalem, though not in the form in which they have come down to us, may be older than the English book; but in the production of such a book England stands well in advance of France and Germany.95 Moreover it is noticeable that in France the provinces which are the first to come by written statements of their law are those which have been under Henry’s sway. Foremost stands Normandy, which in or about the year 1200 has already a brief written custumal, Normandy where exchequer rolls are compiled and preserved, and where the judgments of the duke’s court are collected by lawyers; and it is not impossible that the second place must be conceded to Touraine or Anjou.96
The limit of legal memory.It is a well-known doctrine not yet obsolete among us that our legal memory is limited by the date of Richard I.’s coronation. The origin of this doctrine is to be found in certain statutes of Edward I.’s reign.97 Probably this date was then chosen because it was just possible that a living man should have been told by his father of what that father had seen in the year 1189, and in a proprietary action for land the demandant’s champion was allowed to speak of what his father had seen. And yet had Edward and his parliament been concerned to mark a boundary beyond which the history of English law could not be profitably traced for practical purposes, they could hardly have hit upon a better date than the 3rd of September, 1189. The restless Henry had gone to his rest; his reforms were beginning to take effect; our first classical text-book had just been written; the strong central court was doing justice term after term on a large scale; it was beginning to have a written memory which would endure for all ages in the form of a magnificent series of judicial records. Our extant plea rolls go back to the year 1194, the great series of the “feet of fines” (documents which tell us of the compromises, the final concords, made in the king’s court) begins in 1195. The chancery then takes up the tale; all that goes on therein is punctually recorded upon the charter, patent, close and fine rolls. The historian of law and constitution has no longer to complain of a dearth of authentic materials; soon he is overwhelmed by them.98
Richard’s reign and John’s.Richard’s reign, despite the exciting political struggles which filled its first years, was on the whole a time of steady if oppressive government, and the same may be said of so much of John’s reign as had elapsed before he quarrelled with the church. The system created by Henry II. was so strong that it would do its work though the king was an absentee.The central court. Term after term, at least from 1194 onwards, a strong central court sat at Westminster. Until the middle of 1198 its president was the archbishop Hubert Walter, and shortly after he had resigned the justiciarship he became chancellor. During the autumn term of 1196, to take one example, we may see him presiding in court on October 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 28, 29, 30, November 4, 6, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 and December 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6, until we wonder when he found time for the duties of his archiepiscopate.99 As justiciar he was succeeded by a lay baron, Geoffrey Fitz Peter, who held the office until his death in 1213; he is one of the first of English laymen who is famed for his knowledge of law.100 Another layman who comes to the front as a great judge is Simon Pateshull;101 he may well have been the father of the yet more celebrated Martin Pateshull whom Bracton revered.102 Already in 1202 the king’s justices are officially styled “justices learned in the law.”103 But the court was still full of bishops, archdeacons and other clerks; for example, three successive bishops of London, Richard Fitz Neal, William of S. Mère Église, and Eustace of Fauconberg, were men who had done much justice for the king. During the reign of Richard, who paid but two brief visits to this country, it is of course an unusual thing to find the king presiding in person, though undoubtedly he did so while he was here; the court therefore shows no tendency to become two courts. But John liked to do justice, or what he called justice, and during his reign he was often travelling about the country with one party of judges in his train, while another party of judges headed by the chief justiciar was seated on the Bench at Westminster.104 The permanent central tribunal is beginning to split itself into two tribunals, one of which follows the king, while the other remains at the Bench, and a series of small changes is completing the severance between the court and the exchequer. But at present all these arrangements are of a temporary character.
Itinerant justices.The counties also were visited from time to time by itinerant justices. Apparently they were sometimes armed with ampler and sometimes with less ample powers. There was a great eyre in 1194, and the articles issued to the justices on that occasion are the most important edict of the period.105 There was little that we could call legislation;Legislation. an ordinance of 1195 enforced the ancient rules for the pursuit of malefactors;106 in 1197 an assize of measures was issued,107 in 1205 an assize of money.108 Richard’s curious laws for the fleet of crusaders, under which thieves are tarred and feathered, deserve a passing word,109 and ordinances of John’s reign began the extension of English law over those parts of Ireland which were subject to his power.110 But it was rather by decisions of the courts and by writs penned in the chancery that English law was being constructed. A comparison of a collection of formulas which Henry III. sent to the Irish chancery in 1227 with Glanvill’s treatise shows us that the number of writs which were to be had as of course, had grown within the intervening forty years.111 A new form of action might be easily created. A few words said by the chancellor to his clerks— “Such writs as this are for the future to be issued as of course”— would be as effectual as the most solemn legislation.112 As yet there would be no jealousy between the justices and the chancellor, nor would they easily be induced to quash his writs.
The Great Charter.It is not for us here to relate the events which led to the exaction and grant of the Great Charter, to repeat its clauses, or even to comment on all the general characteristics of that many-sided instrument. In form a donation, a grant of franchises freely made by the king, in reality a treaty extorted from him by the confederate estates of the realm, a treaty which threatens him with the loss of his land if he will not abide by its terms, it is also a long and miscellaneous code of laws.113 Of course it is not long when compared with a statute of the eighteenth century; more words than it contains have often been spent upon some trifling detail. But, regard being had to its date, it is a lengthy document.114 Every one of its brief sentences is aimed at some different object and is full of future law. The relative importance of its various clauses historians will measure by various standards. It is a great thing that the king should be forced to promise that no scutage shall be levied save by the common counsel of the realm, and that an attempt should be made to define the national assembly.115 It is a great thing that he should be forced to say, “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any wise destroyed, save by the lawful judgment of his peers or the law of the land.”116 But events will show that some of these celebrated clauses are premature, while others are vague and can be eluded. In the end the very definite promises about smaller matters—promises which are also laws—are perhaps of greater value. Precise limits are set to royal claims in strict terms of money, time and space:—the relief for a knight’s fee is not to exceed one hundred shillings; the king will hold the felon’s land for a year and a day and no longer; all weirs in the Thames, in the Medway or elsewhere in England, save along the coast of the sea, shall be destroyed.117 Such provisions can be enforced by courts of law, which can hardly enforce against the king his covenant that he will not sell or delay or deny justice, and that he will appoint as judges only those who know the law.118
Restorative character of the charter.On the whole, the charter contains little that is absolutely new. It is restorative. John in these last years has been breaking the law; therefore the law must be defined and set in writing. In several instances we can prove that the rule that is laid down is one that was observed during the early part of his reign.119 In the main the reforms of Henry II.’s day are accepted and are made a basis for the treaty. So successful have the possessory assizes been, that men will not now be content unless four times in every year two royal justices come into every county for the purpose of enforcing them.120 In a few cases there is even retrogression. Every class of men is to be conciliated. The vague large promise that the church of England shall be free is destined to arouse hopes that have been dormant and cannot be fulfilled.121 The claims of the feudal lord to hold a court which shall enjoy an exclusive competence in proprietary actions is acknowledged; Henry II. would hardly have been forced into such an acknowledgment, and it does immeasurable harm to the form of English law, for lawyers and royal justices will soon be inventing elaborate devices for circumventing a principle which they cannot openly attack.122 Even in the most famous words of the charter we may detect a feudal claim which will only cease to be dangerous when in course of time men have distorted their meaning:—a man is entitled to the judgment of his peers; the king’s justices are no peers for earls or barons. Foreign merchants may freely come and go; they may dwell here and buy and sell; yes, but all cities and boroughs are to enjoy all their franchises and free customs, and often enough in the coming centuries they will assert that their dearest franchise is that of excluding or oppressing the foreigner.123 And yet, with all its faults, this document becomes and rightly becomes a sacred text, the nearest approach to an irrepealable “fundamental statute” that England has ever had. In age after age a confirmation of it will be demanded and granted as a remedy for those oppressions from which the realm is suffering, and this when some of its clauses, at least in their original meaning, have become hopelessly antiquated. For in brief it means this, that the king is and shall be below the law.124
[1 ] As to the constitutional side of Henry’s reforms we have little to add to what has been said by Dr. Stubbs in the Introduction to the Gesta Henrici, vol. ii, the Select Charters, and the Constitutional History.
[2 ] The document that we have professes only to give “a certain part” of the customs that were “recognized and recorded.”
[3 ] Ass. Northamp. c. 4.
[4 ] The documents are printed in the Select Charters, except the Assize of Dread, for which see Cunningham, English Industry and Commerce, ed. 3, i. 568.
[5 ] The most striking testimonies to Henry’s governmental activity are collected by Stubbs, Const. Hist. §147. Ralph Niger says: “Nullo quaestu satiatus, abolitis legibus antiquis, singulis annis novas leges quas assisas vocavit edidit.”
[6 ] In the main we accept the results attained by Brunner in his Entstehung der Schwurgerichte. These have already been adopted by Stubbs, Const. Hist. § 164. See also Brunner, D. R. G. ii. 522–27; Thayer, Development of Trial by Jury, Boston, 1896.
[7 ] When both the jury and the body of doomsmen are already established institutions, the transformation of doomsmen into jurors may be possible, and this transformation may actually have taken place in our manorial courts. See Select Pleas in Manorial Courts (Selden Society), pp. lxvi–lxviii; Vinogradoff, Villainage, 370–71. But that the jury should have originally grown out of a body of doomsmen seems almost impossible.
[8 ] Brunner, Schwurgerichte, pp. 74–75.
[9 ] Ibid. p. 87.
[10 ] Regino Prumiensis de Eccles. Discipl. lib. 2, cap. 2 (Migne, Patrol. cxxxii. 282). Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. p. 662, remarks that the iuratores synodi “do not present,” but “only reply to the inquiry of the visiting bishop.” But there is no contrast here, for the English jurors by their presentments only reply to inquiries addressed to them by the royal officer. Cp. Burchardi Wormaciensis Decreta, lib. i. cap. 91 (Patrol. cxl. 571).
[11 ] Æthelred, iii. 3. As to the Danish character of this ordinance see Schmid, Gesetze, p. li; Brunner, Schwurgerichte, p. 403; K. Maurer, Krit. Ueberschau, v. 389; Steenstrup, Danelag, p. 209.
[12 ] Brunner, Schwurgerichte, 402–3.
[13 ] K. Maurer, Das Beweisverfahren nach deutschen Rechten, Krit. Ueberschau, v. 332, 374.
[14 ] von Amira, Paul’s Grundriss der German. Philologie ii. ii. p. 198, contends that the jury appears independently (1) in the Frankish king’s court, (2) the Danish king’s court, and (3) the Icelandic courts.
[15 ] D. B. iv. 497 (Liber Eliensis.)
[16 ] See e.g. Henry II.’s charter for Rochester, Monast. i. 177: “Omnes minutas terras . . . confirmo in perpetuum . . . in tantum et tam pleniter sicut proprii ministri mei exquirere deberent.” This should be compared with the Frankish and Norman privileges. Brunner, Schwurgerichte, 92–95, 238–45.
[17 ] The principal cases are collected by Palgrave, Commonwealth, ii. p. clxxvi, and Bigelow, Placita Anglo-Normannica.
[18 ] Hamilton, Inquisitio Com. Cantab. p. xviii.
[19 ] On several occasions iuratores are mentioned on the Pipe Roll of 31 Henry I. See also Brunner, Schwurgerichte, pp. 465–66.
[20 ] Brunner, pp. 301–4. As to Scotland, there is no doubt that from the time of David I. onwards the kings made use of the inquest procedure. One passage in the laws ascribed to David (c. 35) speaks as though a whole system of writs of novel disseisin and mort d’ancestor was already in existence; but the mss in which this passage is found seem to be few and late, and it is hardly in keeping with its surroundings. On the other hand, certain passages which point to inquests which decide subordinate questions in criminal cases (c. 6) may well be ancient. On the whole we take it that the jury has much the same history in Scotland and in England: it spreads outwards from the king; it is an “assize,” an institution established by ordinance.
[21 ] Const. Clarend. c. 9.
[22 ] Gesta Abbatum, i. 113–15. The story is told with great particularity. In all probability the substance of it is true and comes from Stephen’s reign; but apparently some mistakes have been made about the names of the various persons concerned in it, as a discussion of dates would show.
[23 ] Pipe Roll, 12 Hen. II. p. 65: “pro dissaisina super assisam Regis”; 13 Hen. II. p. 134: “pro dissaisina facta super assisam Regis”; 14 Hen. II. passim. No doubt there are writs of earlier date which in many respects resemble the writ of novel disseisin; see Bigelow, Placita, pp. 128, 130, 169, 170; Howlett, Chronicles of Stephen etc. vol. iii. p. xxxvii; but we cannot find anything which shows that the general ordinance or “assize” was of earlier date than 1166.
[24 ] Bracton, f. 164 b: “de beneficio principis succurritur ei per recognitionem assisae novae disseisinae multis vigiliis excogitatam et inventam.”
[25 ] Charter, 1217, c. 35: “Nullus liber homo . . . dissaisietur de libero tenemento suo . . . nisi per legale iudicium parium suorum vol [= et] per legem terrae.” Compare the formula of the assize “Si B. iniuste et sine iudicio dissaisivit A. de libero tenemento suo.”
[26 ] Glanvill, xii. 2, 25; Brunner, Schwurgerichte, 411.
[27 ] Glanvill, ii. 7.
[28 ] Bracton, f. 112: “Et sicut non debet sine brevi respondere, ita nec debet sine iudicio disseisiri.” Ibid. f. 161: “Nemo debet sine iudicio disseisiri de libero tenemento suo, nec respondere sine precepto domini Regis nec sine brevi.” Rot. Pat. 76: King John says to the people of Ireland, “Nolumus . . . quod aliquis . . . vos possit disseisire de liberis tenementis vestris iniuste aut sine iudicio, nec quod in placitum ponamini per alicuius breve nisi per nostrum vel iusticiarii nostri.” See Manorial Pleas (Selden Soc.), p. lv. We know from Glanvill (ii. 19) that the grand assize was established by a written ordinance: “poena autem in hac assisa temere iurantium ordinata est et regali institutioni eleganter inserta.”
[29 ] Ass. Northampt. c. 4.
[30 ] Const. Clarend. c. 1.
[31 ] Gesta Henrici, i. 233; Hoveden, ii. 184.
[32 ] Glanvill, xiii. 18, 19.
[33 ] Stat. 59 Geo. III. c. 46.
[34 ] Stat. 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 42, sec. 13.
[35 ] Continuatio Beccensis, Howlett’s edition of Robert of Torigny, p. 327: “Rex Anglorum Henricus ad Natale Domini  fuit apud Falesiam, et leges instituit ut nullus decanus aliquam personam accusaret sine testimonio vicinorum circummanentium, qui bonae vitae fama laudabiles haberentur.” Const. Clarend. c. 6: “Laici non debent accusari nisi per certos et legales accusatores et testes in praesentia episcopi . . . Et si qui tales fuerint qui culpantur, quod non velit vel non audeat aliquis eos accusare, vicecomes requisitus ab episcopo faciet iurare duodecim legales ho-mines de vicineto, seu de villa, coram episcopo, quod inde veritatem secundum conscientiam suam manifestabunt.” With this should be compared Magna Carta, 1215, c. 38: “Nullus ballivus ponat de cetero aliquem ad legem simplici loquela sua, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc inductis.”
[36 ] In or about 1246 Robert Grosseteste made strict inquest as to the continence and morals of the laity. The king issued a prohibition to the effect that he was not to take recognitions upon oath save in matrimonial or testamentary causes. See Prynne, Records, ii. 704–6. Matthew Paris, Chron. Maj. iv. 579, speaks as though the bishop’s proceedings were deemed both novel and harsh. The writs preserved by Prynne tell the same tale. From this we may infer that, in consequence of Becket’s rejection of the Constitutions of Clarendon, the church lost a right offered to her by Henry, namely, a right to demand that the civil power should provide her with synodal juries. For the future she had to rely upon her own powers, and the state seems even to have opposed such endeavours as were made by Grosseteste to use the procedure of communal accusation as a general means of detecting sins. As a matter of fact, this procedure seems to have been chiefly used with reference either to purely ecclesiastical matters, such as the repair of churches and attendance at church, or to those sins of the flesh which admittedly lay within the province of ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
[37 ] Select Pleas in Manorial Courts (Selden Soc.), pp. xxvii–xxxviii.
[38 ] Stubbs, Introduction to Gesta Henrici, vol. ii, has discussed this matter at length. See also Round, Feudal England, 503.
[39 ] Diceto, i. 434–35.
[40 ] Gesta Henrici, ii. 207.
[41 ] See Eyton, Itinerary of Henry II. A good many “final concords” from the last years of the reign are gradually being brought to light. See Round, The Earliest Fines, E. H. R. xii. 293.
[42 ] Mapes, De Nugis, p. 241: “Habemus et nos censores sub serenissimo iudice, quorum iustitiam domini sui iustitia remordet, quia iurati coram ipso quod aequitate servata censebunt ut praedicti tres Plutonis arguti iudices.”
[43 ] Glanvill, viii. 5. A fine levied before the itinerant justices always purports to be “finalis concordia facta in curia domini Regis.” Such at least is the case in later times; but see Round, E. H. R. xii. 297.
[44 ] Dialogus, lib. i, c. 4–6.
[45 ] Ibid. lib. i, c. 15.
[46 ] Gesta Henrici, ii. 207–8.
[47 ] Madox, Exchequer, i. 798–801.
[48 ] This is the usual form throughout Glanvill’s book.
[49 ] Round, Feudal England, 513.
[50 ] Glanvill, viii. 5.
[51 ] Select Pleas of the Crown (Selden Soc.), pp. xxvi–xxviii. The rolls of the itinerant justices spoken of in the Dialogue, lib. ii. c. 1, may have been mere lists of amercements.
[52 ] William FitzStephen (Materials for Life of Becket, iii), p. 67.
[53 ] Palgrave, Commonwealth, vol. ii. p. xxviii.
[54 ] Ibid. p. xlvii: “populique insuper multitudine non modica.”
[55 ] Gesta Abbatum, i. 150.
[56 ] Ibid. 151: “Quod in tam iuvene rege non minori sapientiae deputatum est quod dixit, quam iudicium Salomonis inter meretrices altercantes.”
[57 ] Gesta Abbatum, i. 154: “Privilegia, ut credimus, praeiudicant praescriptioni.”
[58 ] Palgrave, Commonwealth, vol. ii. p. lxvii; Bigelow, Placita, 175.
[59 ] Gesta Abbatum, i. 159–66.
[60 ] Palgrave, Commonwealth, vol. ii. pp. v–xxvii; Bigelow, Placita, 311; Hall, Court Life under the Plantagenets; Maitland, L. Q. R. xiii. 141.
[61 ] See Letters of John of Salisbury (ed. Giles), i. 124.
[62 ] Palgrave, p. lxxxiii: “et tandem gratia domini Regis et per iudicium curiae suae adiudicata est mihi terra avunculi mei.”
[63 ] Bigelow, Placita, 170.
[64 ] Palgrave, p. lxxiii; Bigelow, Placita, 222. Mapes, De Nugis, p. 227: “In legibus constituendis et omni regimine corrigendo discretus, inusitati occultique iudicii subtilis inventor.”
[65 ] Bigelow, Placita, 239.
[66 ] Mapes, De Nugis, p. 241.
[67 ] Ibid. p. 242.
[68 ] A full account of the case is given in Gesta Henrici, i. 138–54. We may say, if we will, that there was here an “international arbitration”; still it was conducted with all the regularity of a law-suit, and the award was expressly based upon a rule of pleading. Each of the kings charged the other with having wrongfully dispossessed him of certain lands. Neither directly denied the charge. The judgment is that each must restore what he has taken.
[69 ] Prynne, Records, ii. 588, from Rot. Pat. 28 Hen. III.
[70 ] Hoveden, ed. Stubbs, i. p. xxi.
[71 ] Eyton, Itinerary, 265.
[72 ] The book has been fully discussed by Liebermann, Einleitung in den Dialogus de Scaccario. It is printed by Madox in his History of the Exchequer and by Stubbs in his Select Charters.
[73 ] Liebermann, pp. 33, 42, 54.
[74 ] Ibid. p. 31.
[75 ] Ibid. p. 65.
[76 ] Ibid. p. 10.
[77 ] Ibid. p. 96.
[78 ] Dial. ii. c. 16: “Huius autem rei causam, licet distorta modicum et regiae nimis utilitati serviens videtur, evidentem et satis iustam secundum patrias leges comprobabis.” Ibid. ii. c. 10: “Propter solam regis assisam sic esse cognoscas; nec enim est qui regiae constitutioni, quae pro bono pacis fit, obviare presumat.”
[79 ] Dict. Nat. Biography.
[80 ] Palgrave, Commonwealth, ii. p. xxiii.
[81 ] Hoveden (ii. 215) under the year 1180 says that Henry appointed as justiciar Ranulf Glanvill “cuius sapientia conditae sunt leges subscriptae quas Anglicanas vocamus.” On this there follow (1) one set of the Leges Willelmi (Hic intimatur), (2) the Leges Edwardi, (3) a genealogy of the Norman dukes, (4) an Expositio Vocabulorum or glossary of A.-S. legal words, (5) the treatise in question, (6) certain assizes of Henry II. We may regard it as certain that Glanvill did not compose 1 or 2; also that the man who composed 5 did not compose 2. The question remains whether Hoveden’s “condidit leges” covers all this legal stuff or is specially attributable to 5, the treatise on the leges Anglicanae. In the former case it must bear a very vague meaning; it can mean little more than that Glanvill administered English law in accordance with those documents which Hoveden is going to transcribe; the phrase is hardly better than an excuse for the introduction of a mass of legal matter. In the latter case we still have to ask what Hoveden meant by “condidit leges.” This would be a strange phrase whereby to describe the compilation of a treatise. In the contemporary Dialogue (ii. 14) it is used of a legislator. The treatise undoubtedly sets forth the law as administered by the royal court under Glanvill’s presidency. Hoveden, so it seems to us, means no more than this. It is fairly certain that Hoveden found 1, 2 and 3 already hitched together so as to form a whole, which Dr Liebermann calls Tripartita, and not improbable that the treatise known to us as Glanvill had already been tacked on to this Tripartita. See Liebermann in Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, xix. 81.
[82 ] Maitland, Glanvill Revised, Harvard Law Review, vi. 1.
[83 ] The king of the prologue is obviously Henry. In lib. viii. c. 3, reference is made to a record of 31 October, 1187.
[84 ] Mapes, De Nugis, p. 8.
[85 ] According to Eyton, Itinerary, 294–97, Glanvill was in France from March until June 1189; he then came to England to levy troops and was in France again in July.
[86 ] This suggestion is due to a passage in Bracton (f. 188 b). Half a century after Hubert Walter’s death, Bracton, wishing to show how fatal it is for a pleader to make mistakes in names, chooses as examples his own name and that of Hubert Walter. Now the name “Hubertus Walteri” was not merely an uncommon name, it was a name of an exceedingly uncommon kind. “Hubertus filius Walteri” would of course be a name of the commonest kind, but the omission of the “filius” is, among men of gentle birth, an almost distinctive mark of a particular family, that to which the great archbishop belonged. Bracton therefore seems to be choosing the rare name of a man who has been dead these fifty years. May he not be coupling with his own name that of his only predecessor in English legal literature, whose book he has been constantly using? However this is no more than a suggestion. For arguments against Glanvill’s claim to the treatise, see Hunter, Fines, i. p. xv; on the other side, Foss, Judges of England, i. 181; Liebermann, Einleitung, p. 73.
[87 ] Much first-hand knowledge of the Roman texts is not to be inferred from an imitation of the opening sentences of the Institutes, from the occurrence of such phrases as “quod principi placuit,” “melior est conditio possidentis,” or from occasional allusions to the “leges et canones.”
[88 ] Leg. Hen. c. 10.
[89 ] Glanvill, vii. 3.
[90 ] Glanvill, Prologus; xii. 6; xiv. 8.
[91 ] Maitland, Glanvill Revised, Harvard Law Review, vi. 1. A second ms of this revised Glanvill is preserved at Caius College.
[92 ] Brit. Mus. ms Lansd. 467: the translator will give the text “en un commun romaunz sans ryme”; Camb. Univ. Ll. i. 16, f. 100. The version in Camb. Univ. Ee. i. 1 is partly in Latin, partly in French.
[93 ] The Regiam Maiestatem is collated with Glanvill in vol. i. of the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland. Neilson, Trial by Combat, p. 104: “Either the Regiam was compiled in the first half of the thirteenth century, say between 1200 and 1230 . . . or it was compiled from materials of the law of that period.” Glanvill’s Treatise was printed by Tottel without date about 1554; later editions were published in 1604, 1673, 1780; an English version by Beames in 1812. It will also be found in Houard’s Coutumes anglo-normandes and in Phillips’s Englische Rechtsgeschichte. A new edition is wanted.
[94 ] What is accounted the most ancient ordinance of a French king comes from Louis VII. in 1155: it establishes a “peace” for ten years: Viollet, Histoire du droit civil français, p. 152; Esmein, Histoire du droit français, ed. 2, 488. From Germany also we have as yet merely Landfriedensgesetze which strive to set limits to private war: Schröder, D. R. G. p. 628.
[95 ] The Libri Feudorum in their present state are a composite work, some parts of which may even go back to the last years of the eleventh century: an edition by K. Lehmann is appearing in parts. See Lehmann, Das langobardische Lehnrecht, 1896; Schröder, op. cit. 668. The Assises for the Cour des Bourgeois were compiled, it is said, between 1173 and 1180, a few years before Glanvill’s treatise: Viollet, p. 170; Brunner in Holtzendorff’s Encyklopädie, p. 310. The Assises for the Haute Cour are of later date.
[96 ] The most notable French law-books are (1) the first part (Brunner’s Très ancienne coutume) of (Tardif’s) Très ancien coutumier de Normandie, compiled circ. 1200; (2) the second part of the same work, circ. 1220; (3) the Grand coutumier de Normandie, circ. 1254–58 (see Tardif’s edition); (4) a custumal of Anjou, 1246; (5) a custumal of the Orléanais, from the first half of the thirteenth century; (6) the so-called Établissements de Saint Louis (circ. 1273), a text-book which takes up into itself the works here designated as 4 and 5; (7) the Conseil de Pierre de Fontaines, circ. 1254–59, from the Vermandois, highly romanized; (8) the Livre de Jostice et Plet from the Orléanais, circ. 1259; (9) Beaumanoir’s Custom of Clermont in the Beauvoisis, finished in 1283. See Esmein, op. cit. 728–34; Viollet, op. cit. 177–88. In Germany the first law-book is the Sachsenspiegel, 1215–35; Schröder, op. cit. 635 ff. This was soon followed by the Deutschenspiegel and the so-called Schwabenspiegel. It is by no means impossible that the development of French law in general was quickened by the legislative or administrative activity of Henry, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou; the practice of enrolling pleas seems to spread outwards from Normandy and with it the assize of novel disseisin. Luchaire, Manuel des institutions, p. 568: “l’usage des rouleaux d’arrêts, d’origine anglo-normande.” To the same effect, Esmein, op. cit. 742.
[97 ] Stat. West. I. (1275) c. 39; Statutes of Quo Waranto (1289–90).
[98 ] The earliest of the known plea rolls has lately been published by the Pipe Roll Society; others of Richard’s and John’s reigns have been published by the Record Commissioners and the Selden Society. The earliest charter rolls, patent rolls, close rolls have been published by the Record Commissioners.
[99 ] Feet of Fines, 7 & 8 Ric. I (Pipe Roll Soc.), p. 3 ff.
[100 ] Mat. Par. ii. 558: “Erat autem firmissima regni columna, utpote vir generosus, legum peritus, thesauris, redditibus, et omnibus bonis instauratus, omnibus Angliae magnatibus sanguine vel amicitia confoederatus.”
[101 ] Mat. Par. iii. p. 296: “qui quandoque habenas sane moderabatur totius regni iustitiarii.” Ibid. 542: “cuius sapientia aliquando tota Anglia regebatur.”
[102 ] See Baker’s History of Northamptonshire, i. 267; also Dict. Nat. Biog. He certainly was the father of Hugh Pateshull, who was for a while treasurer to Henry III. and became Bishop of Lichfield. Simon had a clerk called Martin; Select Pleas of the Crown (Seld. Soc.), pl. 18.
[103 ] Select Pleas of the Crown, pl. 34.
[104 ] Ibid. pp. xii–xvii.
[105 ] Stubbs, Select Charters; Rolls of the King’s Court (Pipe Roll Soc.), vol. i.
[106 ] Select Charters, Edictum Regium; Hoveden, iii. 299.
[107 ] Hoveden, iv. 33.
[108 ] Rot. Pat. Joh. p. 54.
[109 ] Gesta Henrici (Benedict), ii. 110.
[110 ] Rot. Pat. Joh. p. 47.
[111 ] This Irish Register of Writs is described in Harvard Law Review, iii. 110. The ms is Cotton, Julius, D. 11.
[112 ] Rot. Claus. Joh. p. 32. A writ of 1205, which in technical terms is “a writ of entry sur disseisin in the per, ” has against it the note “Hoc breve de cetero erit de cursu.”
[113 ] Charter 1215, c. 1: “Concessimus etiam omnibus liberis hominibus regni nostri, pro nobis et heredibus nostris in perpetuum, omnes libertates subscriptas, habendas et tenendas eis et heredibus suis de nobis et heredibus nostris.” By c. 61 power is given the twenty-five barons to distrain the king “per captionem castro-rum, terrarum, possessionum et aliis modis quibus poterunt . . . salva persona nostra et reginae nostrae et liberorum nostrorum.”
[114 ] For an interesting discussion of a document professing to be a copy of an earlier charter of liberties, see E. H. R. vii. 288 (Round); ix. 117 (Prothero), 326 (Hall).
[115 ] Charter, 1215, c. 12, 14.
[116 ] Charter, 1215, c. 39.
[117 ] Ibid. c. 2, 32, 33.
[118 ] Ibid. 215 c. 40, 45.
[119 ] For instance c. 54: “Nullus capiatur nec imprisonetur propter appellum feminae de morte alterius quam viri sui”; Select Pleas of the Crown, pl. 32 (1202): “nullum est appellum eo quod femina non habet appellum versus aliquem nisi de morte viri sui vel de rapo.” The rule was already law in Henry II.’s day; Glanvill, xiv, c. 1, 3, 6.
[120 ] Charter, c. 18.
[121 ] Ibid. c. 1: “ecclesia Anglicana libera sit et habeat iura sua integra et libertates suas illaesas.”
[122 ] Charter, c. 34: “Breve quod vocatur Praecipe de cetero non fiat alicui de aliquo tenemento unde liber homo amittere possit curiam suam.” Glanvill, i. 5, allows the king to issue this writ whenever he pleases. Had this prerogative been maintained, the horrible tangle of our “real actions,” our “writs of entry” and so forth, would never have perplexed us.
[123 ] Ibid. c. 41, 13.
[124 ] In after days it was possible for men to worship the words “nisi per legale iudicium parium suorum vel per legem terrae” (cap. 39), because it was possible to misunderstand them. In passing, a commentator should observe that in medieval Latin vel will often stand for and. As the writer of the Dialogus (ii. 1) says, it can be used subdisiunctive (for which term see Dig. 50, 16, 124). Often it is like the and (or) of our mercantile documents. The wording of the clause leaves open the question whether a man can ever be imprisoned or disseised by the law of the land without having had the judgment of his peers. In the second place, it is now generally admitted that the phrase iudicium parium does not point to trial by jury. For a legal instrument to call the verdict of recognitors a judgment, would have been as gross a blunder in 1215 as it would be at the present time. See Select Pleas in Manorial Courts (Selden Soc.), p. lxvii. Thirdly, there can hardly be a doubt that this clause expresses a claim by the barons for a tribunal of men of baronial rank which shall try even the civil causes in which barons are concerned; we shall see hereafter that they certainly wished for such a tribunal. The spirit of the clause is excellently expressed by a passage in the laws ascribed to David of Scotland: Acts of Parliament, vol. i. p. 318: “No man shall be judged by his inferior who is not his peer; the earl shall be judged by the earl, the baron by the baron, the vavassor by the vavassor, the burgess by the burgess; but an inferior may be judged by a superior. ” Some of John’s justices were certainly not of baronial rank. Just at this same moment the French magnates also were striving for a court of peers; Luchaire, Manuel des institutions, p. 560; they did not want trial by jury. For the history of the phrase iudicium parium, see Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 578.