Page images

the French lord, owed allegiance to the king of France also, just as they owed it to a duke of Normandy or a king of England. Under these conditions, even the famous definition of treason in the statute of 1352—levying war against our lord the king in his realm-would have been impractical. At the end of the twelfth century this crime was still nothing more than the neglect of feudal obligations and was punished by forfeiture. It was, in other words, felony. The idea of treason was confined to treachery and a few specific crimes against the king. Perhaps the nearest approach to a more public conception of the crime is seen in the popular indignation against Robert fitz Walter and Saer de Quinci for their surrender of Vaudreuil in 1203.1 During the thirteenth century the distinction between the ideas of felony and treason became clear; and the change was due very largely to the attitude which was assumed by the kings of France towards the Norman vassals of the kings of England.

When the lands of those Normans who had been faithful to John were confiscated and residents in England were not permitted to answer to pleas in Norman courts, the kings of England retaliated against those Normans, obedient to France, who held lands in England. As the war went on and peace was not made, this policy of retaliation hardened into a definite theory that those who refused to return to the king's peace were traitors. The way in which this conclusion was reached is interesting. The contest was sufficiently drawn out to establish a distinction between the lands of the Normans and other forfeited property. Normally these lands, as the fiefs of vassals guilty of felony, would after a year and a day have gone to the lord, but the king, expecting a settlement, kept them in his own hands and diverted their proceeds to the exchequer. This plan was, at least in some cases, the result of a conscious policy, as is shown by the disposition of the England lands belonging to the honour of Grand

1. Above, p. 239.

mesnil. In 1204 Petronilla, the dowager countess of Leicester, who had brought the honour to her husband in 1168, gave 3,000 marks for the royal permission to resume her rights in it, with the exception of the lands of the Normans.'1

In course of time some reason for this anomaly-s0 contrary to the thirty-second clause of the Great Charterhad to be found. “If there was any crime which would give the offender's land not to his lord, but to the king, that crime could not be a mere felonia.2 The crime was treason. The Normans were assisting the common enemy against our lord the king.

The steps in this agreement are made clear by a consideration of a parallel development in legal theory. By the end of the thirteenth century the law relating to aliens was being defined. The main cause lwas undoubtedly the growing hatred of foreign politicians, papal nominees, and alien money dealers, but it is probable that the precedents, which gave to the Englishman a legal advantage over the foreigner in England, were those cases in which the followers of the French king tried in vain to establish their claims to English lands and rights. Cases from the early years of Henry III show that persons resident in France, within the power of a king who refused to answer the pleas of Englishmen, could find no protection in English courts. At the end of the century the count of Eu failed to secure a hearing for his claims on the ground

1. Rot. de Fin., 226. Petronilla's son, the well known Robert IV of Leicester, died in this year; his death gave John an opportunity to exact this enormous fine. These exactions are forbidden by c. 7 of the Great Charter.

2. Pollock and Maitland, ii, 502. As the writers point out, “most of the traitors of the twelfth century were tenants in chief or the vassals of rebellious tenants in chief, and the king could claim their lands either as king or lord. The defection of the Normanni raised a new question on a large scale." I doubt, however, whether the suggestion in this sentence that the terrae Normannorum were all, or even mainly, held by sub-tenants, is justified.

It was

that the French king still retained the possession of English barons. It seems that the king's claims to seize the lands of aliens is an exaggerated generalisation of his claim to seize the lands of his French enemies." 1

The lands of the Normans were seized in accordance with a general precept issued by John,2 and became henceforth an object of distinct inquiry and treatment. Several fragmentary lists of the Terrae Normannorum survive. The earliest of these is a valuation of 1204. apparently drawn up in or after October. 3 It was followed by a series of inquiries, mainly into the disposition of the lands, the most comprehensive of which seems to have been made in the twentieth year of Henry III's reign. The drastic action of Saint Louis in 1244, when the English who were still suffered to hold lands in Normandy were forced to make a choice between England and France, probably made further inquiries unnecessary. There was clearly no more hope of a settlement, and the disposal of the lands doubtless became permanent. The


1. Ibid, i, 462–3. For the count of Eu, see below, p. 494. 2. See the references in Rot. de Fin., 334-5.

3. It is entitled “Rotulus de Valore terrarum Normannorum inceptus regni Regis Johannis sexto," i.e., after June 3, 1204 ( Rot. Norm., 122). The date seems to follow from the fact that it includes a reference to Bilsington in Kent, the land of Robert of Courci, as in the custody of Henry of Sandwich (Ibid, 140) Henry of Sandwich received Bilsington upon September 30, and apparently held it until it was granted to the earl of Arundel on October 18, 1207. See Stapleton, Liber de antiquis legibus, p. xl, note.

4. The writ of Inquisition is in the Testa de Nevill, 271b, and is reproduced by Mr. Hubert Hall in his Formula Book of Ministerial and Judicial Records (1909), p. 159. Fragments of this or other inquiries may be studied in the T'esta, in the Red Book of the Exchequer (ii, 798), and in Hunter's Rotuli Selecti ad res Anglicas et Hibernicas Spectantes (1834), pp. 259–65. For modern comments, see Hall in Red Book, II, p. cclxv-vi, and Hunter, preface to the Rotuli Selecti, pp.

Xxxvii-viii. 5. Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, iv, 288.

Hundred Rolls contain some evidence of their distribution in the reign of Edward I. 1

That John did not expect the confiscation of the Terrae Normannorum to be permanent, and that it was frequently inspired by motives of retaliation, is shown by the royal letters of 1204 and of the next few years. He was slow to exact the full penalty for the disaffection of the Normans. The evidence proves rather that he welcomed a new means of filling his coffers. Those who returned were able to recover the lands which they had lost 'occasione Normannorum,' on payment of a fine. One of these persons, a tenant of Hugh of Longchamp, whose lands had also been confiscated, paid a fine of a hundred marks; on the other hand, he was relieved by the king from the payment of an annual rent of five marks which he had been accustomed to pay to Hugh; but the significant clause is added that if Hugh should chance to return to the king's grace, and to recover his lands, he might buy back his customary rights to the rent for the sum of forty marks.3 The arrangement shows that the door was not

1. For example, there is the historical account of Casewick (hundred of Nesse, Lincolnshire), part of the honour of Chokes (Rotuli Hundredorum, l. 344). This may be verified from Domesday Book, f. 366b, and the Testa, 341b. The history of the large honour of Chokes, which lay chiefly in Northamptonshire (Red Book, i, 172; ii, 727–8), could easily be traced from its foundation after the Conquest, by the Picard knight, Gunfrid of Choques, through the period of confiscation in John's reign, to the reports contained in the Hundred Rolls. A great deal of information about the confiscations, which is not included in the lists of Terrae Normannorum, may often be found in returns to the inquest of 1212, contained by the Testa de Nevill and the Red Book of the Exchequer.

2. Cases in Rot. de Fin., 204 [cf. Actes de Philippe Auguste, no. 832), 221, 259, 267, 334, 335. The first step towards return was a safe conduct, e.g., Rot. de Fin., 278 : “ Willelmus de Martywas dat domino Regi centum marcas et unum palefredum pro habendis litteris domini Regis de conductu veniendi in Angliam ad loquendum cum domino Rege et pro habenda terra sua unde disseisitus fuit.”

3. Ibid, 228.

In a


rustased to Hugh, although in the meanwhile the king was quite ready to fleece his tenants at his expense. similar humour John exacted fines for the confirmation of grants made by deserters before their desertion, and was even willing to allow the claims of a loyal heir to confiscated property.?

The idea of retaliation may be seen at work in John's treatment of the lands held in England by ecclesiastical lords. These lands, or many of them, were seized in virtue of the general precept issued by John. Some of them are mentioned in the fragmentary valuation of 1204.4 This action, however, does not appear to have had permanent effects: the Norman clergy as a whole did not lose their English rents nor cease to control their English property. A few cathedral chapters and monastic houses suffered, but official records and chartularies agree in showing that the relations between the majority of English tenants and their clerical lords were not changed by the separation between the two countries. The increased

5 difficulty of travel must have been the main check upon their intercourse. At the same time, the fear of confiscation was a very real one to the Norman clergy. Precautions against it were sometimes inserted in the deeds of this period which were drawn up between English and

1. Ibid, 238, 249. 2. Ibid, 476.

3. Ibid, 335, “occasione generalis precepti terrarum Normannorum et canonicorum.”

4. Lands of the following are mentioned, the abbots of Préaux, Bec, Caen, Grestain; the abbesses of Préaux, Caen, and Montivilliers; the prior of Noyon, the monks of Montebourg and Mortain, the canons of Coutances. See Rot. Norm., 122–37 passim.

5. The safe conducts enrolled upon the Chancery rolls show that in most cases the king had not retained these lands any length of time. There is a case of redemption by the abbot of Saint Wandrille in Rot. de Fin., 400, as late as 1207. On the continuity of relations between Norman ecclesiastics and their English tenants, see, for example, Porée, Histoire de l'abbaye du Bec (Evreux, 1901), i, 446–7.

« PreviousContinue »