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which are geographically so different from the uplands and valleys on either side of the Seine, the presence of fresh arrivals and settlements, the wars with the Bretons, and the civil strife of the Normans themselves, may have permitted independent communities to be formed which did not at once acknowledge ducal authority; although it is curious that the demesne of the duke was most extensive in this part of Normandy. But, however this may have been, the leader of the Northmen seems to have had the lands granted in 911 by King Charles the Simple at his disposal, and to have divided them out as benefices, with a very large share for himself. We are told that the
a forms of written conveyance were regarded very lightly by Rollo and William Longsword, but his successors adopted more systematic relations with their tenants. Within
hundred and fifty years they had worked the somewhat crude material provided by the Frankish benefice into a systematic form. This feudalism was not first elaborated by the Normans upon English soil, but was taken from Normandy into England, where congenial feudal institutions were ready for adaptation. And, to repeat, whether this feudalism had or had not assumed the duke to be the origin of all judicial immunities, it was not based upon the monopoly of the duke in more important jurisdiction, but rather upon the close control which the dukes had secured, in virtue of their feudal lordship, over vassals who possessed very great immunities indeed. The interference of these immunities with the older areas of jurisdiction caused the unit of administration to be the demesne rather than the county.
1. See the charter of Richard II for Saint Ouen, quoted by M. Valin (p. 145), from the Archives of Seine-Inferieure. 'Quae omnia noster atavus Rolphus, praenominato loco, partim restituit, partim et dedit, sed propiis cartulis ad noticiam futurorum minime descripsit. Huic subnectimus cessioni, quae etiam avi nostri Willelmi industria simili modo absque cartarum notamine concessit.” The charter has a suspicious appearance, but is certainly suggestive.
The evidence for this description commences with the authentic records of the chief monastic houses, more particularly of Fécamp. These take us back to grants made by Rollo and his successors. The narrative of Dudo of Saint Quentin, though not trustworthy in detail, is important also as evidence of the relations between the dukes and their followers in the tenth century. On the one side, there was the claim to be the equals of the lord; on the other, there was the fact of the benefice with its implications of dependence and service. Dudo is not only the authority for the well-known story of Rollo's division of lands among his followers; in another passage he shows us a more suggestive picture. The Norman chieftains, plotting against the duke, decided to beg lands from him in return for service. If he agreed they would have a crowd of warriors at their command, and he would be reduced to naught. The intention to deny obedience does not deprive the scheme of its meaning for the historian. These lands are evidently lands stocked, or to be stocked, with warriors (milites) and were to be granted in return for service. Before 1066 the Norman dukes were able to regard their country as divided for the most part into a certain number of knights' fees, the source for military purposes of a host of so many knights or fully-armed warriors. The grouping of warriors was symmetrical and was evidently imposed from above. 3 In some respects it may
1. American Historical Review, xiv, 459, 460.
2. Dudo, ed. Lair, p. 187. The phrase is, “si voluerit nos promptos habere sibi ad serciendum, largiatur nobis terram usque ad flumen Rislam. Nos frequentia militum, si dederit, ditabimur." The district between the rivers Seine and Risle was mainly held by barons in the twelfth century.
3. The symmetrical basis has always been clear for the twelfth century in the list of knights holding of the church of Bayeux (c. 1133, Red Book of the Exchequer, ii, 645) and in the larger list for Normandy of 1172 (Ibid, p. 624). As in England, the body of ten knights was the original unit (Round, Feudal England, 259, 261). Mr. Haskins has collected the evidence and proved the existence of knight service and
have found an origin in the similar system of Picardy and the lands of the lower Rhine; but the Norman system possessed one characteristic of great importance, which was typical of Norman genius. In Picardy the fief of the tenantin-chief was the unit and paid the same service whether it comprised few or many warriors; in Normandy the fee of the warrior became the unit and the fief was regarded as containing this or that number of fees for which it was responsible. At first, as we have seen, the number of knights' fees for which a lord had to account in the field was estimated in round numbers, that is, imposed from above; indeed, it is this fact which shows most clearly how centralised and dependent Norman feudalism was; but the fact that the fee was the unit of calculation was of great service to the later dukes, when they desired to give a fiscal value to the number of fees at which the lands of a tenant-in-chief were assessed.
The list of ducal privileges and Norman customs which was drawn up in 1091 for the sons of William the Conqueror 2 indicates that precedents had been formed for ducal control of the baronage before the conquest of England. The law that castles could only be built by the licence of the lord was in force; the right of private war was rigidly limited; and in case of invasion the duke could call out the national levy. All of these customs were enforced later to the duke's profit. Thus, at the commence
1. Guilhiermoz, Essai sur l'origine de la noblesse, p. 183.
2. Haskins has given a critical text and commentary of the Consuetudines et Justiciae of 1091 in the English Historical Review, 1908, vol, xxiii, pp. 502–7.
tha symmetrical group in Normandy in the eleventh century (English Historical Review, 1907, vol. xxii, pp. 636-659; American Historical Review, xiv, 456 note). A considerable amount of land must have been held otherwise than by military service, for the Statuta et consuetudines c. viii (Tardif, pp. 8, 9) refers to the case of inherited eschaetae or divisible lands being of more value than the knight's fee, as though it
ment of his reign, Henry II took many of the Norman castles into his custody;l the Norman custumal forbids private warfare;2 and King John summoned the national levy. But perhaps the most striking illustration of rights of the lord, and consequently of the feudal supremacy of the duke, is afforded by the Norman law of wardship. That the lord had the right to take the lands and heir of his vassal into custody until the heir was of age is a fact so familiar to English students that its exceptional nature is forgotten. It could only have survived in a land where the logical interpretation of the benefice as a precarious or temporary grant had been understood; and its survival in Normandy is a clear sign that Norman society was not merely feudal but essentially and logically feudal.4 Logic of this kind, which was very probably only possible for a people whose tribal or ethnic traditions survived after the ties of family had become weakened, was all in favour of the overlord. The leader of a band of alien pirates, whose northern origin was their chief bond of union, was transformed into the model of a feudal monarch. It is significant that the Angevin dukes of Normandy found the right of wardship so precious that they seem to have tried to introduce it in their lands south of the Loire.
1. Below p. 269.
2. Statuta et consuetudines, c. 31 (Tardif, I, i, p, 27). See the note A at the end of this chapter for the right of private warfare in Normandy.
3. For the arrière-ban, in Normandy and elsewhere, seo Guilhiermoz, p. 293, and especially his important note on p. 292, when he amends the reading of the Bayeux inquest of 1133. For John and the arrière-ban, see Rot. Norm., ed. Hardy, 36, John's letter of June 5, 1201, to William of Caïeux : "vobis mandamus quatinus ad nos cum retrovvarda accedatis desicut retrobannum nostrum mandavimus." Below, p. 312.
4. See the Statuta et consuetudines, c. xi (Tardif, I, i, pp. 10–12), with the "elegant and delusive embroidery” of its reasoning (Hist. litt., xxiii, 56) : Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law (second edition), i, 71, 326–328.
5. To this extent the thesis maintained by M. Flach in his Origines de l'ancienne France, iii, 89, seems to me to be fruitful and suggestive.
6. Above p. 47.
Consistent with the strictly feudal relations of the duke with his chief vassals, was the comparatively slow progress of the rights of interference with his sub-vassals. The complete mastery over all subjects was probably not attained, even in law, until Angevin times, and shows traces of English and Angevin experience. But there is evidence to show that Normandy was ready for a clear statement of ducal prerogatives with regard to sub-vassals before the middle of the twelfth century. As a monarch and judge, the duke was of course brought into direct contact with all his subjects; the judicial activity of the viscounts and the right to call out the levy show this; and feudal usage allowed sub-vassals to do homage to the duke, and therefore to be bound to direct service. This act, however, seems to have required the consent of the lord even in the reign of Henry I.' The custom of Normandy in later times put the duke in a preferential position which recalls the prerogative rights of English royalty; thus he had the custody of all the lands of a wardship if the ward held anything of him directly by military service or by serjeanty. There are early suggestions of the right of a lord to restrain alienations of land—a right which would work in favour of the duke. But it is dangerous to argue back from evidence of this kind. The duke's lordship over all Normans could hardly have become effective until the judicial reforms of Henry II had helped to stamp out private war and to supplement the truce of God.4
The most difficult problem of early Norman law is the problem of succession. The duchy was never divided, nor were the great fiefs which had their origin in hereditary offices of count or viscount. In these cases the precarious origin of the grant would naturally be insisted upon, and
1. Valin, pp. 62, 63; from Orderic Vitalis, ed. Prévost, iv, 459
2. Statuta et consuetudines c. xi (Tardif, I, i, pp. 6, 12).