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On Some Social and Political Consequences of the
Wars in Normandy,
I send my
Sir William mentioned the old laird of Bernera, who, summoned by his chief to join him with all the men he could make, when the Chief was raising his men for Government, sent him a letter to this purpose :-“Dear Laird,-No man would like better to be at your back than I would; but on this occasion it cannot be. men who are at your service; for myself higher duties carry me elsewhere.” He went off accordingly alone, and joined Raasay as a volunteer.
Sir Walter Scott's Journal (1890), ii, 129. More than one Norman in the years which followed the success of Philip Augustus had to face perplexities similar to that of the Scottish laird of Bernera; but few were permitted to avail themselves of his honourable compromise. The Normans were, indeed, in positions of varying difficulty. For the most part those who had lands in England and in Normandy had sooner or later to make a choice or lose all. One fortunate or quick-witted person is recorded to have exchanged his Norman property for lands in England, but the majority of landholders were compelled to surrender their holdings upon one side or the other of the English Channel.
The legal and political consequences of this cleavage between the English and Norman baronage were far reaching. We may best approach the subject by considering (1) the policy adopted by Philip Augustus with regard
1. Rot. de Fin., 219 (1204). "Elyas de Wimblevill dat domino Regi xxx m. pro habenda terra de Dene cum pertinenciis suis qui fuit Alani Martell, quam
idem Alanus ei dedit in excambio pro terra quam prefatus Elyas habuit in Normannia, et pro habenda illa secundum convencionem inter eos factam per cartas suas
to the Normans who had deserted their country to follow John; (2) the effect of this policy upon England; and (3) its importance in the history of the French state.
Many persons whose interests lay entirely within the borders of Normandy suffered severely. There was not, it is true, so much hardship as might have been expected as a mere result of the change of government. Here and there privileges of the forest were lost, or rents were raised.2 One suggestive case was brought to light at Montpinçon by the commissioners of Saint Louis : certain dues, it was alleged, were still exacted as in Angevin times although the market, in return for which they had originally been paid, was no longer held. Again, a few people complained that owing to the poverty or weakness of their predecessors at the time of the conquest, they were deprived of their rights. But it is not cases of this kind which most frequently attract the attention as one reads the Querimoniae Normannorum or the judgments of the Exchequer. The greater suffering was caused by the flight or disappearance of Normans during the first decade or so of the thirteenth century. The break between Normandy and England was complete; except to the merchant and other licensed travellers England suddenly became a forbidden land; and even the merchant was easily suspected. Hence the man who had claims against a refugee, the lord whose tenant or the tenant whose lord had deserted, and the relatives whom the deserter had left behind, often found themselves in a position of extreme
1. See the Querimoniae Normannorum of 1247 in the Recueil des Historiens de France, vol. xxiv, and Delisle's Recueil des jugements de l'échiquier de Normandie.
2. Querimoniae, nos. 95, 363, 369, 474, 481, 490, 504, 551.
discomfort. There were those who had been under an obligation to the deserter or had suffered injustice from him or had otherwise been brought into peculiar relations with him. For example, William Crassus the seneschal had seized a meadow which one winter had been flooded by his pond; and, after the conquest, the meadow had been confiscated with his other lands and had thus been lost to its original owner. Guy of Dive had seized some rents which had belonged to the father of Henry of Bruecourt, and because Guy had afterwards lost his lands Henry and his father had permanently lost the rents. On the other hand gifts, sales and dowries which had been alienated before 1204 were frequently confiscated with the lands of those who had alienated them.3 A lady had farmed out her dowerlands to a man who had afterwards gone to England, and the royal officials had seized the lands. 4 There were wards who had lost their inheritance through the desertion of their guardians, 5 and widows whose husbands died in England holding their land jure uxoris.6 Several persons wbo had given their lands in pledge, found themselves deprived. Upon all such cases lawyers could raise perplexing questions of fact. cases might also give rise to perplexing questions of law. Suppose, for example, that a man who had owned a little property in Normandy had entered an English monastery, or died in England in possession of an
A second group of
1. Ibid, no. 379.
3. Ibid, nos. 60, 415, 426. See also judgments in cases of dower, given in favour of the claimants, in Recueil des jugements, nos. 7, 18, 20.
4. Jugements, no. 21. This judgment illustrates the continuity of records : “ judicatum est quod Milisent, uxor Roberti de Praeeris habeat, si voluerit, recordationem assisae in qua tradidit Rogero Tirel dotem suam ad firmam, quae capta est in manu Regis, quia idem Rogerus de dote sua erat saisitus quando perrexit in Angliam."
5. Querimoniae, no. 78.
English benefice or in the course of his studies. 1 During his lifetime no proper disposition of his Norman lands may have been made; the authorities may not have been informed of his intention to leave Normandy or he may not have returned within the stated time. Is his land forfeited or not? Again there is the case of doubtful succession, in which the royal bailiff insists that A, who has fled, and not the loyal B, is the legal heir to a piece of land. 2
If we turn from genealogical difficulties to those which were created in feudal relations, we find similar problems. Sometimes the rights of sub-tenants were swept away with those of their lord.3 A certain B, for example, alleged that he had been deprived of A's services, because some muddle-headed or unscrupulous persons had sworn that A did not hold of B, but of C; and C had fled. 4 More frequently the rights of the lord suffered through the defection of his tenant.5 In such cases important points of law might have to be settled; for example, if the royal bailiff had seized the land which the runaway A had held of B, would B have to show before he could enter upon it that the relation between himself and A was of long standing, or, if this were not the case, to prove that he had alienated the land to A with the consent of the overlord ? 6 And what would be the position of A's kinsmen holding of him in parage, who had not left Normandy?? It is likely that the cases of the refugees would necessitate more
1. Ibid, nos. 41, 46, 365, 390, 396.
6. See the Statuta et Consuetudines, cc. 89-91 (Tardif, I, i, 99–101); Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, second edition, i, 342.
7. Statuta et Consuetudines, c. 88 (Tardif, I, I, 98-9).
precise definitions in the Norman law relating to forfeitures. 1
For our more general purpose the significance of these cases lies in the evidence which they afford of Philip's attitude towards John's vassals. Yet the vigorous action which they reveal covered some hesitation and perplexity. It is true that Philip took very prompt measures. By a decree of 1204–5 he confiscated the lands of all those knights who had their abode in England. A definite term was assigned within which those who had left Normandy were permitted to return and make submission;? and absence in England was construed as a sign of disloyalty. 3 In Normandy men, especially those of high standing, who had any dealings with ‘traitors,' or were even suspected of plotting, were immediately punished. If the story which became current in Normandy be true, Guérin of Glapion was deprived of his lands because he had a private conversation with the emperor Otto.4 Guy de la Roche, who had spoken with Walter of Mondreville, was obliged
1. It is to be hoped that some Norman jurist will work out the precise effects upon Norman law of the separation of the duchy from England and the rest of the Angevin Empire. For example had it any share in defining the distinction between the 'fief noble' and the 'fief roturier'? According to the thirteenth century custumal, only the former was escheated in the event of the tenant's condemnation. (Viollet, Hist. Litt., xxxiii, 132.) For the chief thirteenth century judgments de forisfacturis, see the references in Perrot, Arresta communia scacarii, pp. 34-5.
2. Actes de Philippe Auguste, no. 933A. Jugements, no. 339 : Thomas Pouchin “ivit in Angliam cum rege Johanne, nec rediit in Normanniam ad pacem domini regis, cum aliis qui redierunt ad terminum sibi a domino rege assignatum.” See also Querimoniae, nos. 100, 521, from the former of which it appears that those who returned were expected to report themselves to the king's justice.
3. For cases of various kinds see Querimoniae, nos. 62, 64, 65, 73, 422, 429. In one case (no. 84) a man had gone to England with the king's consent but had died within the time allowed for his return. His Norman property was seized on the plea that he had deserted Normandy.
4. Above, p. 256.