« PreviousContinue »
disputed its rights, Stapleton, I, clxix), Exmes, Argentan, and Coutances. Viscounties of this kind were sometimes, as in Alençon, Argentan and Exmes, so merged in the
prepositura” as to be almost indistinguishable, but they were of distinct origin. Thus the joint farm of the viscounty and rents of Exmes was 110 li, but as the tithe of the viscounty was 7 li, the latter must have been worth 70 li. out of the 110 li. (Rot. Scacc., 103). In this instance as at Mortain, the rents are described separately (censis et teloneis et feriis et molendinis et campartis dominicarum terrarum), so that we may see of what items a prepositura might be composed. The viscounty, on the other hand, partly consisted of pleas, like the farms of the English shires (Dialogus de Scaccario, bk. I. c. xvii, Oxford ed., p. 109, “tota non exsurgit ex fundorum redditibus, sed ex magna parte de placitis provenit"). Thus the farms of the viscounty of the Oximin and of the Avranchin included the proceeds of pleas reserved to the viscount, presumably upon the lands which produced in rents or aids the rest of his farm. In the Avranchin the earl of Chester had in farm 'census et theloneum et omnia placita ad vicecomitem pertinentia'; and he held his court three times a year in Ardevon and Genest (Recueil des Actes de Henri II. Introduction, 345, 346). Similarly, the farm of the castle of Gaillon, when the castle was dependent upon Evreux, included “placita de quibus bellum non poterat evenire" (Cart. Norm., p. 22, no. 120). The creation
p of a single farm for both viscounty and “prepositura” in towns and castles was hastened by the formation of new farms in which the double tradition did not exist. Thus the lands of Robert of Rhuddlan in the Côtentin probably produced the ducal farms at St. Marcouf, Poupeville, and Varreville (Stapleton, I, lxxxvij), and the new viscounty of Houlme (Rot. Scacc., I, 262), which is found on the roll of 1195, seems to have been formed after 1180 from escheats in the Bessin. But, of course, new castles provide the best instances of new farms. In the new bailiwicks of
Osmanville and Verneuil, the farm is styled “firma prepositurae ” only; in Nonancourt and in the castles of the Passeis it is the same or firma simply. Hence, after the new arrangements made by Henry II it was easy for the terminology to get confused, so that, while in some cases the terms“ viscounty" and "bailiwick” were interchangeable, in others we find“ viscounty” and “prepositura merged into one.
King Richard and his Allies.
At the end of the twelfth century the sovereignty of the Norman state became an important legal question. If we look at Normandy alone, the supremacy of the duke seems to have overshadowed the system of contracts upon which a state like Aquitaine was based. But when we turn to the attitude of the legal-minded Philip, Normandy shrinks to a dependency. It is true that the barons and clergy of Normandy did not appeal from the ducal court to the king of France, and did not, as Normans, occupy the equivocal position of owing service both to the duke and to the king. But the king of France did not acknowledge any distinction between the dependence of Normandy and the dependence of the other great fiefs of the Crown. After the conquest of England the dukes of Normandy had acquired the dignity of independent princes, and during the eleventh and early twelfth centuries Normandy alone had been more powerful than France proper. The only sign of dependence was the homage paid by the dukes to the kings of France, and this act was usually performed on the frontier between the two countries. The Englishman, Henry of Huntingdon, followed by his friend the Norman chronicler, Robert of Torigni, sought to reconcile the theory of Norman-French relations with practice, by an interpretation of early Norman history which denied that the formal act of homage had anything to do with the Norman fief. Similarly, at the end of the tenth century
1. Originally the bishops seem to have been regarded as vassals of the French king as well as of the duke of Normandy. In 1133 the bishop of Bayeux still owed the service of ten of his best knights for forty days (Red Book, ii, 646).
Dudo of St. Quentin had argued that the Carolingian king had given Normandy to Rollo outright as a kingdom free of all service. 1 King John definitely put forward the claim that he was not obliged to have any dealings with his suzerain, even in answer to a summons to appear
before his court, except on the marches of Normandy.2 Philip rejected, of course, all these arguments. Unfortunately, his success was so rapid that it never became necessary for him to press his claims as overlord upon the Normans themselves. His legal action was based upon the appeals of Poitevin, not of Norman barons. Nor was Arthur, whose captivity and death caused the prolongation of war, a Norman baron. Hence it is impossible to say whether Philip recognised the practical sovereignty of the duke of Normandy within his duchy, or was prepared to extend the right of appeal as Philip the Fair and his successors afterwards pressed it in Gascony.
Mediæval theory did not draw a very clear line between the feudal contract and what we should call a treaty. In both cases the confirmation by means of the sworn oath played a large part. Again, the normal feudal relations between a lord and his man were often supplemented by other relations, created by the grant of a castle, the sale of an important feudal right, the formal act of reconciliation after a quarrel, and the like.3 Relations of this kind were
1. For the texts, see Valin, 29–31 ; and Lot, Fidèles ou Vassaux ? 230-233. M. Lot regards the later chroniclers as the victims of Dudo. Нө ings together all the evidence for homage, and other relations, in his sixth chapter.
2. Lot, pp. 228-230.
3. The Norman rolls and the Exchequer rolls abound in instances. One of the most interesting is the explanation of some hasty words of disloyalty by the Earl of Chester, Rot. Norm., pp. 96, 97. The vagueness of the distinction between the feudal contract and every other agreement may be seen from the use of homage in some countries to establish a merely private obligation, e.g., in Catalonia (Lot, p. 248). See the section on homage in Guilhiermoz, Essai sur l'origine de la noblesse, pp. 78–85.
often strengthened by the delivery of hostages or the oaths of sureties; and these precautions were also an almost essential safeguard of a treaty. Of course, in the case of a treaty sureties were reciprocal, whereas in the former cases they were only found by the vassal; but the unreality of this distinction when the relations between great feudatories was concerned may be seen from the fact that Philip Augustus, even in an agreement which pledged the king of England to do homage for his continental lands, did not hesitate to find sureties for the operation of his own promises. In fact, the contractual nature of the vassal relation made it easy for a vassal to treat with his lord, as the dukes of Normandy or the counts of Flanders treated with their suzerain, the king of France.
The services owed by the vassals were reduced to a minimum; indeed, by a curious but quite natural argument, the performance of service was regarded as putting an end to the fact of dependence, so that the vassal was afterwards justified in acting as he liked. Hence arose the distinction between liege-homage and simple homage. Originally all homage was liege-homage; for no person
could be the man of more than one lord : he owed homage to him alone, and was free so far as others were concerned. But when homage became the sign, not of servitude, but of service, the receipt, so to speak, for so much land or other property, it became necessary to distinguish the lord proper from the casual or secondary
1. e.g., at Messina in 1191.
2. See Lot, pp. 237–241. M. Pirenne, the historian of Flanders, has published a study of liege-homage, in which he adopts a similar line of argument, in the Bulletin de la classe des lettres de l'Académie royale de Belgique (1909) : see Revue historique, ciii, 442. In the text I have used the word homage in the sense of the entire act of submission by a vassal. As M. Lot points out this act included the oath of fealty. Homage in the narrow sense did not constitute the vassal relation. Louis VI strictly owed homage, though as king he refused to pay it, to the abbot of St. Denis for the French Vexin (Viollet, Aist. des instit. politiques, ii, 183). Homage was originally a Frankish custom only.