Front Page Titles (by Subject) J. H. Round, BARONS AND KNIGHTS IN THE GREAT CHARTER. - Magna Carta Commemoration Essays
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J. H. Round, “BARONS” AND “KNIGHTS” IN THE GREAT CHARTER. - Henry Elliot Malden, Magna Carta Commemoration Essays 
Magna Carta Commemoration Essays, edited by Henry Elliot Malden, M.A. with a Preface by the Rt. Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M., Etc. For the Royal Historical Society, 1917.
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“BARONS” AND “KNIGHTS” IN THE GREAT CHARTER.
The passage in the Great Charter on which I propose to comment is contained in its second “chapter,” and is here italicized.
Si quis comitum vel baronum nostrorum, sive aliorum tenencium de nobis in capite per servicium militare, mortuus fuerit, et, cum decesserit, heres suus plene etatis fuerit et relevium debeat, habeat hereditatem suam per antiquum relevium; scilicet heres vel heredes comitis de baronia comitis integra per centum libras; heres vel heredes baronis de baronia integra per centum libras; heres vel heredes militis de feodo militis integro per centum solidos ad plus; et qui minus debuerit minus det secundum antiquam consuetudinem feodorum.
If we view these provisions in isolation and endeavour to make the text here its own interpreter, we observe (1) that those to whom they apply are the tenants-in-chief by knight service; (2) that these are divided into three categories, (a) earls, barons, and “others”; (b) earl, baron, and knight; (3) that the holdings recognized are only two, viz. the “barony” and the knight’s fee. It is important to observe that in this chapter no distinction is made between “greater” and “lesser” barons.
The difficulty presented by these provisions is that no one has been able to give a satisfactory explanation of the difference between the baron and the knight or between the two holdings here specified, when their holders were alike tenants -in-chief by knight service. The barons’ returns of their knights (“Cartae baronum”) in 1166 imply that all such tenants-in-chief stood on the same footing and that the “milites” were not among them, but were the under-tenants whom they had enfeoffed upon their lands. The above difficulty was already felt in the seventeenth century, when Selden considered that the holdings of tenants-in-chief were originally alike in status, but were subsequently differentiated, some being classed as “baronies” and others as “knight’s fees”.1 Madox, on the other hand, boldly assumed that the difference in status of the two holdings went back to the Norman Conquest, that “William I enfeoffed his Barons of their Baronies, or his Knights of their Knights’ Fees”.2 While I do not presume to hope that I shall wholly solve a difficulty by which historians and antiquaries have been so long baffled, I shall endeavour to elucidate the problem to the best of my ability and to clear away some of the confusion by which it is at present surrounded. For it affects an important development in our constitutional history.
That problem is the status and fate of those lesser tenants-in-chief who ceased to attend the Great Council. Were these lesser barons known as “Barones minores” or as “milites”? And, if the latter, is it possible to trace any connection between these “milites” and the representative “knights” of the shire?
There has been, if I may venture to say so, on the part of the commentators on the Charter, too much glossing and too much assumption. When we examine the text itself, we find (1) that in the second chapter—dealing with reliefs—the two classes below the earls are the “baron” and the “knight”; (2) that in the fourteenth chapter—dealing with summons to the Council—the two classes below the earls are the “majores barones” and “all those (others) who hold of us in chief”. It has been assumed, but not proved, that, in both chapters and for both purposes, the line of division is the same, and it follows, as a consequence of this assumption, that
the “barones” of one clause of the Great Charter seem to be the “barones majores” of another.... It seems that the “baro” who has a “baronia” in the one clause is the “baro major” who is to have a special summons in the other clause.1
Nor is this the only consequence which follows from that assumption. For it involves, we find, the still more improbable equation of the knight (“miles”), who held a knight’s fee, in chapter 2 with the alleged “barones minores” of chapter 14.2 I use the term “alleged” because, in spite of the freedom with which the phrase is used by the commentators on the Charter,3 it is not found in that chapter or, indeed, anywhere else in the text of the document. This is no mere verbal quibble: the phrase “barones majores” does, indeed, imply that there were lesser barons, but it certainly does not involve the gloss that “all those (others) who hold of us in chief” were “barones minores”; they might—and, judging from chapter 2 they would—comprise at least the “knights” as well as the lesser barons, in which case these classes were distinct and the alleged equation disappears.
Let me endeavour to make the point absolutely clear. The “tenants-in-chief by knight service” include, according to chapter 2, (a) barons, (b) knights. Chapter 14 introduces a further distinction by speaking of “majores barones”. This, no doubt, implies the existence of “barones minores,” but it does not affect the “knights,” who would remain, as before, distinct from all “barons,” whether “greater” or “less”. Therefore “miles” cannot be used as the equation of “baro minor”.
Putting the point differently, the line in chapter 2 (which is concerned with reliefs) is so drawn as to include the minor barons with greater ones; but in chapter 14 (which is concerned with separate summons) it is drawn athwart the baronage, and, by excluding the lesser barons, creates (so far as summons is concerned) a fresh class. Again, the phrase “all (others) who hold of us in chief” (in chapter 14) may include, in addition to the lesser barons, not merely the knights, but others, such as tenants by serjeanty. Stubbs, indeed, admits in one place,1 when speaking of “the greater and lesser barons,” that “the entire body of tenants-in-chief included besides these (i.e. the greater barons) the minor barons, the knightly body, and the socage tenants of the crown,”2 all of whom, he deems, were entitled to be summoned by the general summons, as provided in chapter 14. It is true that he writes, in another place, of the phrase “Barones secundae dignitatis” (who are admitted to be identical with the “barones minores”), that “Hallam rightly understands this to refer to the knightly tenants-in-chief,”1 which virtually accepts the wrong equation; but this only illustrates the need of greater clearness in definition.
No one, I think, will suspect me of imperfect appreciation where our great historian is concerned, but his work occasionally betrays a certain vagueness of conception, a lack of clearness in definition, which perhaps is sometimes met with in the work of English scholars.2 For instance, we first find him treating of “the great council” in Norman times and recognizing the barons (greater and less) and the “knights” as distinct classes among its members.3 But when he turns to the composition of this same great council “under Henry and his sons,” he appears to lose sight of the essential distinction between these classes. This, I think, was due to the influence upon him of Gneist, to whom we may clearly trace the fundamental error of confusing the line drawn by the Charter (cap. 2) between the “baron” and the “knight” with that which it draws (cap. 14) between the “greater baron” and the tenants-in-chief below them.
By “the interval between the two classes,” Stubbs here obviously means “the distinction of ’majores’ and ’minores barones’”. Yet “Dialogus de Scacc.” ii. 10, so far from making that distinction, actually denies that there was any, so far as relief was concerned.13 Here again the identity of “the knight” with the minor baron is wrongly assumed. In the “History of English Law,”14 Pollock and Maitland, it will be found, have fallen victims to the same confusion; they write vaguely of “the greater men” and the “lesser men,” and evidently treat as identical the two lines of division, which we have to keep distinct.
Another error traceable to Gneist is the connection of the distinction between greater and lesser barons with two passages in Domesday.
Prof. Adams similarly refers to the antiquity of the distinction drawn in chapter 14 of the Charter: “See the difference in the payment of relief in Domesday, i. 280 (Vinogradoff, ’Society in the Eleventh Century,’ p. 308, note 2)”.3 Now the two passages in Domesday to which Gneist refers relate only to Yorkshire and to Derbyshire and Notts, and I have explained in “Feudal England” (pp. 72–3) that the practice described is part of that duodecimal system which is peculiar to the “Danish” district in the northern portion of England. It would not, consequently, be met with outside that district, that is to say, in the larger portion of the country. It could, therefore, have nothing to do with the later distinction between “greater” and “lesser” barons.
This point is of some importance if—improbable though it may seem—we have here the origin of Stubbs’ statement that the lesser tenants-in-chief paid their reliefs to the sheriff, but the greater ones direct to the Crown.4 This statement is repeated without question by Maitland,5 by Pollock and Maitland,6 and by Prof. Medley.7 It is, however, at variance with the evidence of the “Pipe Rolls,” which proves that holders of a single fee or even less are found paying their reliefs as directly to the Crown as a great baron.
Hitherto I have been endeavouring to prove that the line drawn in the second chapter between “barons” and “knights” by the Charter has nothing to do with that which it draws in its fourteenth chapter, between the “greater barons” and the rest of the tenants-in-chief. A different and far more difficult question is that of the identity of the “knights,” mentioned in the second chapter.1 For the wording of that chapter, as I contend, is sufficient to prove that they cannot possibly have been, as is so loosely assumed, the “minor barons”. How then did they differ in status from the “barons,” from whom the amount of their relief distinguishes them so sharply?
It is usually endeavoured to interpret this chapter of the Charter by the help of (a) Glanville’s book, (b) the “Dialogus de Scaccario,” both of them written in the latter part of the reign of Henry II.2 Now what Glanville says is this:—
Cum autem heres masculus et notus heres etatem habens relinquatur, in sua hereditate se tenebit ut supradictum est etiam invito domino, dum tamen domino suo sicut tenetur suum offerat homagium coram probis hominibus et suum rationabile releuium alicujus iuxta consuetudinem regni, de feodo unius militis centum solidos; de socagio vero quantum valet census illius socagii per unum annum; de Baroniis vero nihil certum statutum est, quia iuxta voluntatem et misericordiam domini Regis solent Baronie capitales de releviis suis domino Regi satisfacere. Idem est de serjanteriis (ix. c. 4).
The obvious difficulty of this passage is that Glanville is here speaking of reliefs due to a lord (“dominus”) and yet includes among them the reliefs due from “baronies” to the King. Mr. McKechnie claims that “Glanville’s words are ambiguous,” and there seems to be, among the latest commentators, some difference of opinion as to whether they cover the case of a knight’s fee held in chief “ut de corona“. The authors of the “History of English Law”1 are alleged to hold that they do, though this is by no means clear. On the other hand, the learned editors of the “Dialogus de Scaccario” consider that the holder of such a fee did not enjoy the privilege of a fixed relief,2 and in this they are followed by Mr. McKechnie3 and by Prof. Adams4 who considers him to be right. The view of these writers is based on the “Dialogus,” which, undoubtedly, limits the privilege to those knights’ fees which were held “ut de honore”.
These statements are exceedingly precise, and the editors are justified in inferring from them “that the tenant of a single knight’s fee would be a ’Baro minor,’ since the certainty of relief depends not on the extent of the estate held, but on its being held of a mesne lord”.1 On the other hand, this is at direct variance with the second chapter of the Great Charter, which draws its line of division between “barons” and “knights,” unless we restrict the latter to those who held “ut de honore”. This, we shall see, appears to be opposed to another chapter of the Charter as well as to the obvious meaning of chapter 2 itself. Unfortunately, Mr. McKechnie, seeking to produce record evidence that only the “tenants of mesne lords...had their reliefs fixed,” states, by a singular error, that
Madox (i. 315–16) cites from “Pipe Rolls” large sums exacted by the Crown: in one case £300 was paid for six fees—or ten times what a mesne lord could have exacted (“Pipe Roll,” 24 Hen. II).2
The reference is obviously to the entry which Madox cites correctly: “Tedbaldus de Valeines debet xxx l. (sic) de relevio vj militum (‘Mag. Rot.’ 24 Hen. 11).”3 The amount, therefore, was not £300, but £30, the very amount that “a mesne lord could have exacted”.
The knight’s fees to which the “Dialogus” refers in the above parallel extracts cannot well be those mentioned in the second chapter of the Charter, because their case is specially dealt with in its forty-third chapter. Moreover, if that second chapter is read with care, it will be seen that the knight’s fee there spoken of had been held, not of a mesne lord, but directly of the Crown, like a barony. Otherwise it would be tempting to identify the two, as it would dispose of the difficulty raised by the passage in chapter 2. Mr. McKechnie, however, does identify the two, but admits that, on this hypothesis, “the need for this reference (in cap. 43) to relief is not, at first sight, obvious”.1 It seems to be clear, at least, that the distinctive privilege of paying only £5 relief on the knight’s fee extended to three classes of fees: (1) those specially mentioned in chapter 43, which were held of an escheated honour, such as that of Wallingford, etc.; (2) those which were held of a fief temporarily in the hands of the Crown, owing to wardship or other cause; (3) those held of an ecclesiastical fief which was in the hands of the Crown during a vacancy.2 For all three classes were affected by the same principle, viz. that the King stood in the shoes of the former holders of the fief and could therefore, only exact from the under-tenants the same dues as their former lords exacted. Speaking of this forty-third chapter, Mr. McKechnie admits that, though it only mentions escheats, “the same rule applied to subtenants of baronies in wardship (which was analogous to temporary escheat)” or of ecclesiastical fiefs during a vacancy.3
It is, however, conceivable that, as Mr. McKechnie suggests, John wanted to draw a distinction by which he could treat knights’ fees held “de eschaeta” as held of him “ut de corona” and, therefore, liable, like baronies, to an arbitrary relief. But, at least under Henry II, the “Pipe Rolls” do not show any trace of such a claim and confirm the evidence of the “Dialogus”. Nor has any evidence, I believe, yet been produced in support of the suggestion.
With almost monotonous regularity the “Pipe Rolls” record “reliefs” on fees held “de excaeta” at the rate of £5 on the fee. For instance, in 1172, Michael de Preston pays £22 10s. relief on 4½ knights’ fees “de escaetis Regis”.1 Similarly, on a lay fief, Nigel, son of the chamberlain, pays £57 10s. on 11½ fees held of the “Honour” of Richmond,2 then in the King’s hands, in 1175,3 while, on an ecclesiastical fief, Hamo Fitz William pays £18 15s. on 3¾ fees and Robert Brutun £2 10s. on half a fee, held in each case of the See of Canterbury, in 1171.4 It is needless to multiply instances of the rule, but exceptions to the rule are worth noting, though they are not easy to find. And here it may be observed that the evidence of the “Pipe Rolls” is by no means so easy to use as might be imagined. Extreme care in identifying the fees on which relief is paid is constantly required, as there is often nothing to show whether they are held of a fief or an escheated “Honour,” or directly of the King “ut de corona”. For instance, in 1181, two men are charged 30 marcs relief for two knight’s fees which had been Robert of Tilbury’s.5 There is nothing to identify these fees or to explain why the relief was £20, instead of £10. But they can hardly fail to be the two fees which a later Robert of Tilbury held of the “Honour” of Rayleigh (forfeited by Henry of Essex) in West Tilbury and Childerditch (or Dengey), Essex.6
Again, Gilbert son of Gerbert “de Archis,” who pays 50 marcs “pro fine terre patris sui” in 11827 eludes us, though the mention of a “fine” instead of a “relief” leads one to look for his father and himself among the holders of “baronies”.
Gilbert, however, is found only as holding two knights’ fees of the Honour of Tickhill in 1203.1 His name is not found in a feodary of the Honour later in the reign, but we do there find “Malveisin de Grava” as the holder of two fees.2 This entry is explained by one on the “Pipe Roll” of 1209 which shows us Malveisin de Hercy and William Ruffus charged 50 marcs and two palfreys for the succession of their wives to the holding of this Gilbert “de Archis,” their father. This holding was in Grove (Grava), Notts, which thus descended to the Hercys of Grove.3 Now this case might possibly be claimed as supporting the view that John was trying to extort baronial reliefs from fees held “de eschaeta”; but it has been shown that the holder of these fees had been similarly charged 50 marcs in 1182, and, moreover, the “Pipe Rolls” under John show him regularly paying scutage, not as the holder of a “barony,” but only as a tenant of the Honour of Tickhill.
Mr. McKechnie’s actual comment on the “escheat” portion of the Charter (chapter 43) is this:—
This chapter reaffirms a distinction recognized by Henry II, but ignored by John...John ignored this distinction, extending to tenants “ut de escaeta” the more stringent rules applicable to tenants “ut de corona”. Magna Carta reaffirmed the distinction.4
It appears to me that this conclusion is based on the assumption that, because the Charter limits the rights of the Crown, it was John who had attempted to extend these rights. My own position is that the “Pipe Rolls” show the Crown’s right to feudal incidents to be already extended under Henry II.
We have now seen that chapter 2 of the Great Charter, from which this paper started, cannot apply to any of the three categories of “knights” dealt with by the “Dialogus,” that is to say, not to those who held of a lay or ecclesiastical fief temporarily in the King’s hands, because the text forbids it, or to those who held of an escheated Honour, because, in addition to straining the text, such knights are specially dealt with in chapter 43, which is concerned with escheats.1 Who then are the “knights” that in chapter 2 are distinguished so sharply from “barons” by the “relief” on their succession?
The ultimate and indisputable evidence on which the answer depends is found in the “Pipe Rolls” themselves, but that evidence has to be combined with that of the various returns of knights’ fees, especially the “Cartae baronum” of 1166. It may, however, be said at once that the “Pipe Rolls” do show a very marked distinction between the arbitrary sums charged as relief on baronies, and those of £5 or some multiple thereof charged on the knights’ fees. Normally—though not always—the former are further distinguished by the word “finis,” which is rightly used, as implying a composition. The difficulty about the latter is that we have to make sure that the “fees” are held, as strictly as the “baronies,” “ut de corona”.2
Although we are not here concerned with the reliefs on serjeanties, it is advisable to note that those on the “Pipe Rolls” confirm Glanville’s statement as to their arbitrary character. For instance, in 1163, the charge of 100 marcs on Ralf Fitz Wigein “pro relevio terre sue”;1 was on a serjeanty of some value,2 though the fact is not stated. So also was that of 75 marcs (£50), charged to Robert Fitz Hugh, in 1186, “pro fine terre sue”.3 This “terra” was at Upton, granted by Henry II. The tenure of his successors, the Chanceus family, proves that it was held by the service of a serjeant for forty days in war, which must not be confused with knight service.
That “baronies” were liable to arbitrary relief is admitted on all hands. But in order to ascertain the sums exacted under Henry II, it is not enough to copy the extracts made by Madox; one has to examine the “Pipe Rolls” for oneself. And even then evidence may be missed; for the phrase “finis terre” is only indexed in some of the printed volumes of “Pipe Rolls,” though “relevium” is indexed regularly.4 It is for the former that we have, in the case of baronies, to look. It would be necessary, therefore, to read through the whole of the volumes in order to make one’s list exhaustive. The table on the opposite page, however, will illustrate the nature of the sums paid under Henry II.
The first point to strike one here is that most of these sums are either £200 or £100, 200 marcs or 100 marcs. This is an unexpected result, the more so as no relation can be traced between the size of the
barony and the relief exacted. Moreover, of these four sums, only two exceed the maximum fixed by the Charter, while one is actually below it. This emphasizes the contrast between the arbitrary “fine” from a barony and the fixed sum of 100 shillings due from a knight’s fee. When we confine our attention to the figures for a single county, the contrast, we shall find, becomes striking.
The evidence for Northumberland is of peculiar value for more reasons than one. In the first place, the proportion of single fees held in chief is exceptionally large, and, in the second, we have copious information on the constituents of the holdings together with notable evidence on the use of the word “barony”.3 Let us first take a typical five-knight barony, that of the Bertrams of Mitford.1 In 1166 Roger Bertram certified that it was held by the service of five knights.2 In 1177 his successor, William Bertram, was called upon to pay “pro fine terre patris sui” no less than £200.3 In 1212 another Roger Bertram is returned as holding the “barony” by the service of five knights.4 Here then is a clear case of an undoubted “barony”—by no means a large one, as baronies went—charged exactly twice the amount prescribed in the Great Charter as the rightful and ancient (“antiquum”) relief. We have thus a striking illustration of the fact that, as I have insisted,5 the feudal extortions remedied by the Charter were not, as is so often implied,6 introduced by John, but are found in full existence under Henry 11. Again, we observe, that the sum exacted is rightly styled “finis terre,” not “relevium,” for it represented, as the “Dialogus” and Glanvill’s book explain, a special commutation of the King’s right to exact, in the case of a “barony,” an arbitrary sum.
From this Northumberland “barony” we will pass to a smaller one, the story of which is more complicated and has to be reconstructed. In 1163 William de Greinville1 was holding what we learn from evidence of three years later was a “barony” held by the service of three knights.2 Next year it had passed to two co-heiresses, of whom Ralf de Gaugy married the elder, and Hugh de Ellintone (i.e. Ellington) the younger. This we learn from the same evidence, namely from their respective returns in 1166.3 The “Pipe Roll” of 1164 shows each of them paying a sum “pro relevio terre sue”.4 Ralf pays 40 marcs and Hugh 20, so that the whole “relief” exacted was 60 marcs (£40) though the service due from the “barony” was only that of three knights. Hugh, however, admitted that his tenure was baronial,5 and the entire holding appears, in 1212, as a “baronia,” in the hands of Ralf de Gaugi.6 This exposed it to an arbitrary “relief” (as the payment is in this case termed) in 1164, namely £40, in lieu of the £15 which would have been payable if the holding had not been a “barony,” but three knights’ fees.
Let us now compare with these “baronies” three or four Northumberland holdings, the returns for which were similarly made among the “Cartae baronum” in 1166. For these were similarly held in chief, though each of them owed the service of one knight at most.
William, son of Siward, who made return in 1166 that he held a knight’s fee by the service of one knight1 is proved by his tenure of Gosforth to be a Surtees,2 and, therefore, identical with the William “de Tesa” (or “Tesia”) of 1161–1162.3 In 1174 his successor, Randulf “de Super Teise,” was charged 100 shillings (£5) “de relevio suo”.4 This was the fixed relief on a knight’s fee.5 The next case is that of Ernulf de Morewic, who returned his holding, in 1166, as a knight’s fee,6 “of the old feoffment”. In 1177 his successor, Hugh de Morewic, was charged 100 shillings (£5) for his “relief”.7 This Hugh appears as one of Henry’s ministerial officers towards the end of the reign, and it is interesting to note that so early as 1161 he has a discharge “precepto Cancellarii” of 2 marcs charged to his father;8 which suggests that he was already in official employment. The third case is that of Robert Caro, who returned himself, in 1166, as holding five carucates as one knight’s fee.9 In 1179 Peter “Carhou” accounted for 100 shillings for his relief.10 Even more notable is the case of Godfrey Baiard, who returned his holding in 1166 as one-third of a fee,1 and who had been charged the year before 33s. 4d.;2 that is, just a third of the regulation £5.
The importance of this evidence is that in each of three cases where the holding was one fee or less, and where the holding was not part of an escheated honour, relief was uniformly charged at the rate of £5 a fee. On the other hand, a three fee “barony” was charged, we have seen, £40, and a five fee “barony” £200. Moreover, in 1168 an entry on the “Pipe Roll” runs: “Idem vicecomes redd. comp. de feodis Baronum et militum qui de rege tenent in capite in Ballia sua qui Cartas de Tenemento suo Regi non miserunt”.3 The sheriff was here dealing, as I was above, not with holdings on escheated “honours,” but with those which were held “in capite ut de corona“. If we now pass to the other end of England, we find in Devon Geoffrey del Estre paying £5 in 1183 as the relief on a knight’s fee.4 There is nothing by which he can be identified in the “Cartæ” of 1166, but an analysis of the scutage returns shows that the “Robertus filius Galfridi” of 1166 (“Red Book” p. 258) must have been Robert, son of Geoffrey de L’Estre, and father of the Geoffrey who succeeded in 1183. Again, turning from Devon to Norfolk, we find William de “Colecherche” returning his small tenement as held by the service of “half a knight”.5 His son Richard, on succeeding him, paid for his “relief” 50 shillings,1 the sum due on half a fee. In these two cases we can clearly identify the holdings among those held “in capite” in 1166.
It has, at least, now been clearly established that those who made their returns in 1166, although then treated, apparently, as being all on the same footing, were not treated alike in the matter of their reliefs. Those who held, in the cases examined, one fee or less, were only called upon to pay at the rate of £5 on the knight’s fee.
Are we then to infer that the distinction between the two reliefs was that, if a man held a single fee or less, he paid £5 (or less pro rata), while if he held more, he was liable to a relief of £100 as holding “by barony”? It would seem that such a proposition need only be stated to be rejected as absurd. There is, however, a remarkable case discussed in the “Reports on the Dignity of a Peer,” and known to us from a petition to Parliament in 1354 (28 Edw. III), which certainly seems to show that, at this date, that proposition was the law.
In the Parliament of the 28th of the King, Robert de la Mare suggested, that after the Death of Peter de la Mare, his father, he had attorned to the King, and done Homage, for a Moiety of the Manor of Lavynton, for which Moiety he came into the Exchequer, and acknowledged his Tenure, that he held the Moiety of the said Manor by the Service of One Knight’s Fee, and for that fee had paid One hundred Shillings for his Relief; nevertheless, for that in the Red Book of the Exchequer it was found, that Henry the Second, to marry his Daughter to the Duke of Saxony, demanded of every Knight of his Kingdom a Mark in Aid of that Marriage, and commanded that every Prelate and Baron should certify to the said King in Writing how many Knights he held of the King in Chief, among which Prelates and Barons one Peter de Mara had certified that he held Lavynton by Two Knights’ Fees, the Barons of the Exchequer insisted that Peter de Mara was Ancestor of the Petitioner, and that the Petitioner held by Barony, and for Service of Barony they charged him of his said Relief, where he held only the Moiety of the Manor by the Service of One Knight’s Fee only; and he prayed a Writ to the said Treasurer and Barons, that if they could not find, by Inquest or otherwise, that the said entire Manor was held by greater Service than Two Fees, and that there is another Tenant of the other Moiety of the Manor, that then they would accept his Relief for One Fee only, notwithstanding the things found in the Red Book mentioned.
A writ was accordingly ordered to the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer, that if they should find, by Record, or other Remembrances of the Exchequer, or by Inquest, or in any other proper Manner, that the Petitioner held the Moiety of the Manor by the Service of One Knight’s Fee, as supposed by the Petition, and not by Barony, that then, having received from him “solonc l’aferrant” of One Fee for his Relief, they should discharge him of the Remainder, notwithstanding the Name of the said Peter was found in the Red Book amongst the Names of the Barons.
It seems from this Entry, that in the Reign of Edward the Third, holding by Barony, and holding by Knights’ Service only, were so far considered as distinct, that if a Man held by the Service of a Knight’s Fee, he was subject only to a Relief of One hundred Shillings, and if he held by Barony, he was chargeable with One hundred Marks for his Relief, though his Barony consisted only of Two Knights’ Fees. The Entry shews also that the Red Book of the Exchequer was then considered as a Document of Such Degree of Authority in the Court of Exchequer, that the Court had acted upon it. The whole Proceeding, however, seems to shew that a Writ of Summons to Parliament did not then necessarily follow Tenure by Barony; the Committee not having found any Person of the Name of Mara, at any Time summoned to Parliament. Not having discovered what was done on the Reference of this Petition to the Exchequer, they are unable to give any further Information on the Subject.1
As this is an unsatisfactory comment on the case, it seems desirable to state the facts. In 1166 Peter de (la) Mare returned himself, under Wilts, as holding (Steeple or Market) Lavington by the service of two knights.1 He was succeeded by Robert, and Robert by Peter, de la Mare, who paid scutage on two fees.2 A notable entry in the “Wiltshire Inquisition” of 1212 (?) records the “Baronia (sic) Roberti de la Mare, ij feoda,”3 though in what is printed as the same list we find:—
Galfridus filius Petri, j feodum in Lavintone.
Robertus de la Mare, j feodum in Lavintone.4
In any case the manor came to be held in two moieties some years later, for William de la Rokele sued Peter de Mare for it in 5 Henry III (1220–1221),5 and must have obtained a moiety of it, as we learn from the “Testa,”6 the evidence of which is confirmed by the “Hundred Rolls”.
The “Inquisitiones post mortem” bear similar witness; that on Peter de la Mare gives the holding as one fee,7 and so does that on a later Peter de la Mare in 1292;8 though that on Robert de la Mare, in 2 Edward II, records it as half a fee.9 It is clear, therefore, that Peter de la Mare, as he claimed in his Petition, did not owe the service of more than one knight, and, therefore, by the admission of the Crown, he was only liable to a relief of £5 and not to that of £100, which would have been due from a “barony”.
On the other hand, there is a decided case of earlier date (1306–1307) which points in quite a different direction for the legal interpretation, at its date, of the clause about reliefs. William de Briouze (Braosa), son of William, raised a question as to the relief due from him for the “castle of Bramber,” Sussex, and the “land of Guher,” i.e. Gower, the South Wales peninsula. He boldly claimed that, in the host, Bramber had only rendered the service of one knight.1 The barons of the Exchequer decided the question (1) by reference to the “book of fees,” (2) by evidence that William and his predecessors had always been amerced as barons without protest. They found that “in Libro Feodorum Brembre repertum est sub titulo de Honoribus,” and that “tantum debere solvi pro relevio de Honore quantum pro relevio Baroniæ”. The reference to the “Book of Fees” must, apparently, be to the “Testa de Nevill,” p. 222a, where the tenants of knights’ fees “de Brembre” are all entered as holding “de eodem honore”. But it is difficult to understand why these entries should be chosen when on p. 223 the same list is headed “Isti tenent de baronia de Brembre...Johannes le Cunte tenet iiij feoda...de eadem baronia“. Moreover, on p. 226b we read:—
In rapo de Brembre Willelmus de Breuse et antecessores ejus tenuerunt rapum de Brembre in capite de domino Rege et antecessoribus ejus ex conquestu Anglie per servicium x militum.
The barons decided, quite rightly, that William should be charged relief for Bramber as for a barony.2
But far more important for our purpose is their decision as to Gower. William pleaded:—
Dicta terra de Guher tenetur de rege in Capite per servicium unius feodi militis, de dono et feoffamento Regis Johannis.
In proof thereof he produced a charter of John, 24 February, 1202–1203 (4 John) granting to his predecessor, William “de Braosa,” the whole land (“terra”) of “Guher” with all its appurtenances in Wales,1 “per servicium unius militis pro omni servicio”. This was accepted by the barons as proof that he held “Guher” “pro uno feodo militis,” and he was accordingly charged only the £5 relief “pro terra de Guher in Wallia quæ tenetur de Rege in capite per servicium unius feodi militis”.
In this case the barons seem to have deemed the documentary evidence decisive. We must, therefore, conclude that in all the cases in which such evidence could be produced, the tenure was admitted to be “knight’s fee,” not “barony”. Now this class of knights, those who were enfeoffed by charter, must have formed a fairly numerous body, who could all claim that they did not hold by “barony” and were therefore not liable to the relief due from a baron (i.e. the holder of a barony). It was the custom under Richard and John (and even under Henry II) to grant considerable estates as single knight’s fees, as we learn from the entries in the “Red Book” of holdings created subsequent to 1166.2 The existence of this class of holdings seems to have been overlooked by those who have discussed the subject. The only point that remains doubtful is whether holdings so created as knights’ fees, but owing the service of more than one knight, were called upon to pay relief as “baronies” or not. In the case of those who held by the service of a single knight there would seem to have been no question.
Some support for the view that a line was drawn (as in the case of the De La Mare holding cited above) between those who held by the service of more than one knight and those who only held a single fee or less, is afforded by the returns of 1236,1 in which the sheriffs are directed to make separate returns of these two classes.
Perhaps the most remarkable return for its bearing on chapter 2 in the Great Charter, is that made by the Sheriff of Shropshire in 1212.2 In this return the first entry relates to William Fitz Alan, who is described as holding “in capite de domino Rege per baroniam“. The second states that Roger Mortimer “baro tenet in capite de domino Rege”. The third and fourth show us Walter de Lacy and Robert Mortimer holding “similiter”. In the next five entries each holder “baro similiter tenet”. In the tenth William “Botrealus baro tenuit in capite de domino rege per servicium dimidii militis,” which was also the service of Peter Fitz Herbert, the last but one in the first portion of the list. Then come six entries, in the first four of which we have the formula “miles tenet in capite de domino rege,” while in the fifth and sixth the word “miles” is omitted, though in the sixth the service is that of one knight.
This list suggests several considerations. In the first place, it obviously identifies “baro” with the man who holds “per baroniam”; in the second, it names the ten “barones” first and the six “milites” after them; in the next we find two “barones” who hold only half a fee apiece (in Shropshire at least).1 Certainly we have here a list that seems to have unique importance as bearing on the “barons” and “knights” of the Great Charter, three years later. It is, however, unfortunate that Shropshire was a county which had only come into the hands of the Crown on the downfall of its earls’ house early in the reign of Henry I. If their fief was deemed to constitute an escheated Honour, the status of their tenants after the forfeiture might be that of those who held “in capite ut de Honore“. This question arose in 1225, only ten years after the Great Charter. Hugh Pantulf appears in our list as a “baro” holding “in capite,” whose service was that of five knights. His son William was charged £100 for his relief, as for a “barony,” but he protested before the King “quod non tenet de Rege in capite nisi feoda v militum de terra quae fuit Roberti de Belesme”.2 His contention was allowed and his payment reduced from £100 to £25. On the other hand, Robert Corbet, the subject of the next entry,3 who similarly held, as a “baro,” five knight’s fees, contended, in 1250–1251, that none of his predecessors had paid relief on them, but was made to pay “the baronial” fine of £1004 on his barony of Caus.
This singular contrast affords a further illustration of the difficulties and confusion by which this subject is surrounded. Even so far back as the seventeenth century Dugdale acutely observed that Hugh de Morewic5 “had the reputation of a baron, but his barony consisted of no more than that one knight’s fee, by which service he held the manor of Chivington”.1 His holding is carefully distinguished as a “villa” (not a “baronia”) in “Testa,” p. 392b, but is styled the “Baronia Hugonis de Morewyc,” on p. 382b, though the said manor is there entered as held “per feodum unius militis”.
In spite, however, of much confusion and contradiction on the subject, it is clear that the Great Charter, by drawing the line it did between the relief due from a barony and that which was due from a knight’s fee, must have led to a definite distinction between the two kinds of tenure. And the ever increasing subdivision of baronies must have accentuated that distinction. We have seen that even under Henry II the two moieties of a barony of only three knights’ fees were, each of them, called upon to pay relief on a higher scale than that of the £5 due from a knight’s fee, because the tenure was baronial. Whether this arrangement favoured the tenant or the Crown depended on the number of knights due (“servitium debitum”) from the barony. For instance, in 1236–1237 the barony of D’Aubigny (“De Albini”) of Cainhoe was divided between three co-heirs, each of whom was called upon to pay 50 marcs, the third of that hundred pounds which was due from the “baronia integra”. As the “service due” from the barony was twenty-five knights, each third was reckoned at 8⅓ fees, on which the “baronial” relief was £33 6s. 8d., though, at £5 on the knight’s fee, the sum payable would have been £41 13s. 4d. (62½ marcs).2 Similarly, the Essex barony of Montfichet was divided into three portions, one of which fell to Richard de Playz, who was charged 50 marcs “ut pro tercia parte Baroniae.... Baronia integra tunc temporis onerata fuit versus Regem de relevio suo de Cl“.1 Again, in 21 Edward I, Alice de Mucegros had paid 25 marcs for the sixth part of a barony, but her heir, in 35 Edward I, was only charged £11 2s. 2½d. for the same (two-thirds of the amount), because the relief on a “barony” had been reduced, in the interval, from £100 to 100 marcs. Eventually the complications caused by these tenures became very great. In 18 Richard II (1394–1395) Robert de Todenham admitted that he held certain property by the service of the third part of the eighteenth part (i.e. the fifty-fourth part) of the barony of Beauchamp of Bedford and part of an advowson by the service of the seventh part of the third part of the said barony, together with a Suffolk manor which he held “in capite ut de honore Boloniae,” by the service of two knights. For this last tenure he paid £10, but only small fractional sums for his two baronial tenures. No wonder that Madox summed up his evidence as proving that “Land Baronies were divided and subdivided till at length they were brought to nought”.2
At last we are in a position to arrive at some conclusions with regard to the difficult problem dealt with in this paper. As I observed, just above, it depended on the “service” due from a barony whether it was in the tenant’s interest to claim that his tenure was “baronial” or that of “knights’ fees”. So, conversely, with the Crown. When the baronial relief stood at £100, it was in the interest of the holder, or holders, of a barony owing the service of more than twenty fees to claim that what they had to pay was the baronial relief; when that relief was reduced to 100 marcs, the above statement would hold true of baronies (or portions of baronies) owing the service of thirteen and a third knights or more. On the other hand, the holders of small “baronies” would naturally try to pay relief at the rate of £5 on the knight’s fee. In each case the interests of the Crown were of course opposed to theirs, and thus there would often arise the question whether the tenure was “barony” or “knight’s fee”.
As to one class of knights there seems to have been no difficulty; those who held of an escheated Honour would always pay relief at the rate of £5 on the knight’s fee, however many fees they might hold. The Great Charter provided for their case in its forty-third chapter. But as to tenants per “servitium militare” who held “in capite ut de corona,” questions would arise. Perhaps we may divide them into two classes: (1) those who could produce a charter of enfeoffment from the Crown; (2) those whose tenure was prescriptive. If a man could produce such a charter enfeoffing his predecessor to hold by the service of one knight, his tenure was admitted to be “knight’s fee,” and he would escape with a relief of £5, as we saw in the case of Gower.1 But if the service due was more than that of one knight, it is difficult to state with certainty what his relief would be. Turning to prescriptive tenure, the rule seems to have been that if the predecessor in title, in 1166, sent in his return among the “Cartae baronum,” this was “prima facie” proof that the tenure was baronial.2 But the presumption so created could be rebutted, as we saw in the De La Mare case, by proof that the service was that of one knight only.1 Again, as we learn from the Bramber case, the formal entry of a fief in a public record as a “Barony,” or even as an “Honour,” was sufficient to establish the fact that the tenure was baronial. And there is nothing to show that this evidence could be rebutted.
Finally, the keen and frequent discussion as to the amount of relief payable under the second chapter of the Charter strongly confirms the main contention in this paper. For the line drawn by that chapter could not be left undefined; the question whether a tenure was baronial or not had to be determined before it could be known what was the relief that it was liable to pay. On the other hand, the line drawn in the fourteenth chapter between the “greater barons” and other tenants was of little, or no, practical consequence and could, therefore, be left undefined.2 My reason for saying so is that the right of the lesser barons to summons to councils was not taken away by the Charter but was even asserted. Whether they looked on such attendance as a privilege or—as is more likely at that period—a duty laid upon them, they would have no occasion in practice to raise the question of the line and where it should be drawn.1 For they could attend if they wished. The future developments of the principle could not then be foreseen.
To sum up, I claim to have shown that the commentators’ glossing of the text, by which the “knights” of the second chapter were made identical with the alleged “lesser barons” of the fourteenth, creates needless difficulties and rests on no foundation.2 The line drawn in the second chapter was, in practice, sharply defined because the “relief” payable to the Crown could only be determined by it; the line drawn in the fourteenth was, on the contrary, vague and remained in practice undefined.
Selden’s position is set forth fully by Hallam in his “Middle Ages”.
“Baronia Anglica” (1736), p. 26. So, too, we read that lands were granted by him to be held “in Baronage, in Knight-Service, or in Serjanty,” etc. (p. 27).
Maitland, “The Constitutional History of England,” pp. 66, 80.
Hallam, “Middle Ages” (1860), iii. 7; Davis, “England under the Normans and Angevins,” pp. 325, 380; McKechnie, “Magna Carta” (1914), p. 200: “the great men and the smaller men (‘barones’ ’majores’ and ’minores’). The latter were called knights (‘milites’)”.
E.g. Stubbs, “Constitutional History” (1875), i. 366: “the great distinction of ’majores’ and ’minores’ which appears in ’Magna Carta’“...”the distinction of ’majores’ and ’minores barones’...appears perhaps in legal phraseology first in the ’Dialogus de Scaccario’ and ’Magna Carta’”; Gneist, “History of the English Constitution” (1886), i. 289–90; Maitland, “Constitutional History of England,” p. 80; Davis, “England under the Normans and Angevins” (1905), p. 380; McKechnie, “Magna Carta” (1914), pp. 251–2: “The Crown tenants on one side of this fluctuating line were ’barones majores’; those on the other ’barones minores’”.
“Constitutional History” (1875), i. 565.
The tenants by serjeanty should be named before the socage tenants.
“Constitutional History” (1875), i. 182, note.
This was also observed, I find, by M. Petit-Dutaillis, who wrote: “The French who have kept the ’classical’ spirit, and reserve their full admiration for that which is perfectly clear, will doubtless find that his thought is very often obscure and his conclusions undecided” (“Studies supplementary to Stubbs,” p. xii.).
“Constitutional History,” i. 366.
“Quidam enim de rege tenent in capite que ad coronam pertinent, baronias scilicet majores seu minores, etc.” (cf. ii. 24).
Ed. 1895, i. 259–60.
“Origin of the English Constitution,” p. 226, note.
“Constitutional History” (1875), i. 564–5, 567; ii. 182.
“Constitutional History of England,” pp. 65, 80.
“History of English Law” (1895), i. 260.
“English Constitutional History” (1907), p. 30.
See p. 47.
“History of English Law” (1895), i. 289, where it is loosely stated that “The Dialogue on the Exchequer tells us that the relief for the knight’s fee is 100s.”. It is, we shall find, most important to note that the Dialogue limits its statement to knights’ fees held in chief “ratione baronie cujuslibet” or “de eschaeta”.
Ed. 1895, i. 289.
Op. cit. 1902, pp. 222–3.
“Magna Carta” (1914), p. 197.
“Origin of the English Constitution (1914), p. 214.
“Dialogus de Scaccario” (1902), p. 222. The phrase “Baro minor” is their own.
“Magna Carta” (1914), p. 197, note.
“Exchequer” (1711), p. 216. Cf. “Pipe Roll,” 24 Hen. II, p. 75.
“Magna Carta,” p. 413, note.
Classes 2 and 3 are distinctly covered by the “Dialogus” in 11, x. E., and class 1 in II, xxiv.
“Magna Carta” (1914), p. 412, note (cf. “History of English Law” , i. 261).
“Pipe Roll,” 18 Hen. II, p. 36.
Ibid. 21 Hen. II, p. 5.
Again, in 1187, when the Earl of Gloucester’s fief was in the King’s hands, Henry de Umfraville and Roger de Maisi, each of whom held 9 fees of it, paid respectively £45 on succession.
“Pipe Roll,” 17 Hen. II, p. 142.
Ibid. 27 Hen. II, p. 105.
“Red Book,” pp. 503, 738.
“P. R.” 28 Hen. II, pp. 18–19.
“Red Book,” p. 182.
Ibid. p. 593.
See Tonge’s “Visitation of the Northern Counties,” ed. W. H. D. Longstaffe (Surtees Soc., vol. 41), p. 7, note.
Op. cit. pp. 411, 413.
Possibly the right conclusion here is one which has not yet been suggested, namely, that the Charter nowhere provides for the case of knights’ fees temporarily in the King’s hand, owing to a wardship or a vacancy, because the rights of their holders had not been encroached upon by the Crown. Escheats, however, seem to have been recognized as a category apart: the reason for this may have been that in early days, e.g. in the case of the forfeited fiefs of the Bishop of Bayeux and the Count of Mortain, the holdings of large under-tenants had actually been converted by the Crown into separate baronies (owing the service of five or ten knights) and appear as such in 1166. These constituted awkward precedents.
Prof. Adams states that “the relief of a single knight’s fee as recorded in the Pipe Rolls seems to be frequently 100 shillings when held (sic) directly of the king” (“Origin of the English Constitution” p. 214).
“Pipe Roll,” 9 Hen. II, p. 31.
“Testa,” pp. 87–8.
“Pipe Roll,” 32 Hen. II. p. 6.
Neither of them is indexed in the volumes of “Pipe Rolls” issued by the Record Commission.
“Testa,” pp. 381–8, 392–3; “Red Book,” pp. 436–44, 562–3; “Reports on the Dignity of a Peer,” vol. ii. pp. 91–7.
There was another Bertram barony in the county, that of the Bertrams of Bothal (three knights).
“Et sciatis, domine, quod feodum meum non debet vobis servitium nisi tantum de v militibus” (“Red Book,” p. 438).
“Pipe Roll,” 23 Hen. II, p. 83.
“Rogerus Bertram tenet in capite de domino Rege baroniam (sic) de Midford per servicium v militum” (“Testa,” p. 392). “Rogerus Bertram baroniam (sic) de Mytforde per v feoda” (“Red Book,” p. 563). “Baronia de Mitford” (“Testa,” p. 383).
In my introductions to the later “Pipe Rolls” of Henry II and to the “Rot. de Dom.” (Pipe Roll Soc.).
E.g. McKechnie, “Magna Carta” (1914), pp. 196, 198. So also Petit-Dutaillis, “Studies Supplementary to Stubbs’ Constitutional History” (1908), p. 129: “Its most salient characteristic is the restoration of the old feudal law, violated by John Lackland, and perhaps its practically most important clauses, because they could be really applied, were that for example which limited the right of relief....” Also “History of English Law” (1895), p. 151: “John in these last years has been breaking the law, therefore the law must be defined and set in writing”.
“Pipe Roll,” 7 Hen. II, p. 23.
“Red Book,” pp. 438–9, 443.
Ibid. The editor gives (p. 439) the wrong reference for the “carta” of Ralf de Gaugy, and makes the unlucky suggestion (by way of emendation) that Ralf may have been the son of the elder sister.
“Pipe Roll,” 8 Hen. II, p. II. The fact is obscured by Hugh’s name being there printed as “de Clenton”.
“Ego teneo dimidiam baroniam” (see, for its constituents, “Testa,” pp. 382, 392). Compare with this “dimidia baronia,” the “baronia integra” of the Great Charter, and observe that the baronial tenure is not affected by subdivision, though Ralf and Hugh each claim to owe the service of “a knight and a half” (only).
“Testa,” p. 392 (cf. “Red Book,” p. 439).
“pro feodo et servitio j militis” (“Red Book,” p. 440). But see further, below.
See “Testa,” p. 385 (“Radulfus super Tayse”) and p. 392 (“Ricardus Curtayse” [sic]).
“Pipe Rolls,” 7 Hen. II, p. 24; 8 Hen. II, p. 10.
Ibid. 20 Hen. II, p. 107.
The service is given (apparently in error) as half a fee (“Testa,” p. 385) or two-thirds (ibid. p. 392).
“feodum j militis” (“Red Book,” p. 438).
“Pipe Roll,” 23 Hen. II, p. 84.
Ibid. 7 Hen. II, p. 24.
“pro j feodo militis” (“Red Book,” p. 444).
“Pipe Roll,” 25 Hen. II, p. 28 (cf. “Red Book,” p. 178).
“Red Book,” p. 442.
“Pipe Roll,” II Hen. II, p. 27.
Ibid. 14 Hen. II, p. 172. The number of fees he assigns to these “barons” and “knights” is Balliol 30, Walter Fitz William 3, Philip de Humez 2, Odinel d’Umfreville 2, Robert de Bradeford 1, William de (A)mundeville 1. As a matter of fact, Walter Fitz William had duly made his return (“Red Book,” p. 436).
“pro relevio feodi j militis” (“Pipe Roll,” p. 117).
“servitium dimidii militis” (“Red Book,” p. 400).
“Pipe Roll,” 21 Hen. II, p. 124.
Vol. i. pp. 325–6 (from “Rot. Parl.” Edw. III, p. 263).
“habeo Laventonum, vestri gratia, in dominio pro servitio duorum militum” (“Red Book,” p. 246).
Ibid. p. 152 (a.d. 1202).
Ibid. p. 483.
Ibid. p. 481.
Curia Regis Roll, 5 Hen. III. No. 79. See Wrottesley’s “Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls,” p. 261.
The entries on p. 151a are decisive (cf. p. 141b., where Peter de la Mare’s holding is given as one fee).
“Cal. of Inq.” i. No. 927.
Ibid. iii. No. 34.
Ibid. v. No. 136. There is a paper on this family in “Wiltshire Notes and Queries,” Nos. 33, 34 (1901), but, as it ignores the “Red Book” and the “Testa,” it only begins the pedigree with the Peter of the earliest Inquisition.
“Willelmus et antecessores sui defenderunt castrum et terram de Brembre pro servicio unius feodi militis.”
“Oneretur de relevio suo de Castro prædicto tanquam de relevio Baroniæ.” The whole proceedings are printed in Madox’ “Exchequer” (1711), pp. 372–4 from the “Plea Rolls”. See also “Baronia Anglica,” p. 39.
This charter is printed by Madox among the proceedings (ut supra), and also in “Calender of Charter Rolls” (1908), iii. 46.
See “Red Book,” pp. 197, 198, 235, 247, 311, etc.
See “Testa de Nevill”.
Ibid. p. 55.
That of Peter Fitz Herbert seems to have been at Woodcote, and that of William de Botreaux was at Longdon. See Eyton’s “Shropshire,” vii. 153, 165.
Madox’ “Exchequer” (1711), p. 218.
“Testa,” p. 55.
“Memoranda,” 35 Hen. III, Rot. 14d (cited in Eyton’s “Shropshire,” vii. 24, and Madox’ “Baronia,” p. 129). His son was made to pay £100 relief (“Pipe Roll,” 12 Edw. I).
See p. 64 above.
“Baronage,” i. 678.
See, for this case, Madox’ “Exchequer” (1711), i. 217.
Pipe Roll, 12 Edw. I, cited in Madox’ “Baronia,” p. 47.
See his “Baronia Anglica” for all this (pp. 45–9).
P. 70 above.
On the death of Robert de Chandos in 1301, his lands (which were in Herefordshire) were found to be “held of the King in chief by barony, by service of two knights’ fees” (“Cal. of Inq.” iv. No. 158), but the Inquisition is damaged. Roger, his son and heir, seems to have disputed the tenure, but without success, for “compertum est in rubeo libro quod inter cartas diversorum Baronum annotatas ibidem continetur quaedam carta Ricardi de Chaundos, antecessoris praedicti Rogeri de diversis feodis suis”. The “Carta” will be found on pp. 284–5 of the printed “Red Book,” and records prove that the fief paid scutage on over thirteen fees in the twelfth century. Roger thereupon admitted baronial tenure and paid 100 marcs relief accordingly in 1308–1309 (Madox’ “Baronia Anglica,” p. 127). It was shown above that a “Carta” of 1166, in the “Red Book,” was similarly relied on by the Crown in the De La Mare case.
This is also the inference to be drawn from the evidence on the practice under Henry II, given on p. 65 above.
The latest learning insists on the vagueness of this line. In the “Origin of the English Constitution” (1912), p. 227, note, Prof. Adams writes: “As to when and where the line was drawn between the major and minor barons, in either military or court service, seminary work on the available material in two different years, in connection with other topics, leads me to feel sure that, if the statement in Pollock and Maitland, i. 280, ’We shall probably be nearer the truth if, in accordance with later writers, we regard the distinction as one that is gradually introduced by practice, and one that has no precise theory behind it,’ is to be modified at all, it must be in the direction of a more unqualified statement that there was no fixed line.”
See, further, for my comments on this point, “Peerage and Pedigree,” pp. 350 et seq., where I have reprinted a paper which I issued in 1884–1885. I have also commented in the “Commune of London,” pp. 252–5, on a charter of 1190, in which Longchamp, as Chancellor, is made to speak of “majoribus baronibus civitatis,” a phrase which, I there pointed out, could have “no specialized meaning” and therefore bears on the use of “barones majores” as in the Great Charter.
See pp. 47–53 above. It is essential to keep rigidly to the actual text of the Charter. On pp. 248–9 of Magna Carta Mr. McKechnie equates “comites et majores barones” by “earls and ’other greater barons’,” where the word “other” is an interpolation, and on p. 251 quotation marks are given to “Minor Barons,” a phrase which is not found in the Charter.