Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XLIII.: The same subject continued. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XLIII.: The same subject continued. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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The same subject continued.
THUS there was no law to prohibit the lords from holding their courts themselves; none to abolish the functions of their peers; none to ordain the creation of bailiffs; none to give them the power of judging. All this was effected insensibly, and by the very necessity of the thing. The knowledge of the Roman law, the decrees of the courts, the new digest of the customs, required a study of which the nobility and illiterate people were incapable.
The only† ordinance we have upon this subject, is that which obliged the lords to chuse their bailiffs from among the laity. It is a mistake to look upon this as a law of their creation; for it says no such thing. Besides, the intention of the legislator is determined by the reasons assigned in the ordinance: “to the end that the bailiffs may be punished‡ for their prevarications, it is necessary they be taken from the order of the laity.” The immunities of the clergy in those days are very well known.
We must not imagine that the privileges which the nobility formerly enjoyed, and of which they are now divested, were taken from them as usurpations: no, many of those privileges were lost through neglect, and others were given up, because as various changes had been introduced in the course of so many ages, they were inconsistent with those changes.
[† ]It was published in the year 1287.
[‡ ]Ut si ibi delinquant, superiores sui possint animadvertere in eosdem.