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officials were localised and granted areas of jurisdiction, but they did not lose the plenitude of power which their original position and their name imply that they possessed. This conclusion is further established by the fact that when the Norman viscounts first appear with territorial titles they take their names from the old counties,
, the Bessin, Côtentin, Avranchin, Lieuvin, the Oximin, Romeis, and Caux or Grand Caux and the Vexin.1 In addition to these were officials of smaller jurisdictions, such as the Vau de Vire and Conteville. On the analogy of the archdeaconries some other early viscounties had their centres in the cities, Caen, Rouen, Exmes, Argentan, Coutances and others.2 As time went on the dignity of the name was forgotten and the words vicecomitatus, prepositura, baillia were used indiscriminately in common speech. Indeed, from the outset the viscounts were officials who took rank after the bishops and counts; they were never at the head of the Norman baronage.3 But, at the same time, a chronological inquiry shows clearly that the later confusion in terminology concealed the results of a period of change during which the early viscounts lost their distinctive importance.
1. All these appear, generally as survivals, in the roll of 1180. I imagine their farms at this period to have consisted largely of the auxilium vicecomitis, e.g., in the case of the old viscounty of the Oximin; cf. a charter of King John to William of Briouze, releasing his men from payment of the aid of the viscounty (Rot. Norm., p. 20). M. Delisle thinks that the viscounts at this early time performed the functions of the later bailiffs rather than financial functions (Bibliothèque, x. 264); I incline to think this was true of the officials who took their name from the county. For the curious survival of the viscounts of the Vexin, see Stapleton, Observations, I, cxxii.
2. See the list in Delisle's Introduction to the Recueil des Actes de Henri II, pp. 212, 213. See above p. 50.
3. They were important people, as the early charters show, e.g., those printed in the preures to Delisle’s Histoire de Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, but Dr. Brunner seems to me to exaggerate their importance (Enstehung der Schwurgerichte, p. 148.)
This change begins to be marked before the conquest of England, but the viscount was still a very important person in the reign of Henry I. The extent of his powers may be seen in the case of the notorious Robert of Bellême, who was viscount for the duke in Argentan, Exmes and Falaise, that is, in the viscounty of the Oximin with its subordinate ministries. 1 His predecessors of the house of Montgomery had erected a veritable despotism on the basis of their office. Robert's power extended into Maine, where Henry I had succeeded, in the days of his brother Duke Robert, in depriving him of Domfront.2 In 1112 he was deprived of his office as viscount owing to his refusal to pay his accounts into the treasury. His career shows that the viscount had charge of the castles 3 in his viscounty and that he farmed the ducal estates.
With regard to the farming of the demesne, a recent writer has shown, by means of an ingenious argument, that not only were the viscounties and preposituræ well defined before the year 1066, but also that the fixed payments or farms of these areas were paid in money into a treasury and were distinct from the casual receipts of the ducal camera or privy purse. If this were so, a record must have been in existence. The viscount's aid (auxilium vicecomitis) which was included in the farm, was a tax upon the land which apparently goes back to this early period. The financial system, with its payments in money
1. Ord. Vit., iv, 453. Cf. Galguso in 1135 (ibid, v, 56). 2. Stapleton, I, lxxviii.
Latouche, istoire du mté du Maine, pp. 46, 47, 49, 62.
3. The viscount transacted judicial business, and held the castles 'quia vicecomes erat.' Haskins, American Historical Review, xiv, 469. He was also at the head of the troops. (Delisle, Bibliothèque, x, 264.)
4. Haskins, American Historical Review, xiv, 465–7; English Historical Review, xxiv, 223.
5. That the graveria, or viscount's aid, a universal tax payable by all but vassals of the greatest honours, was an early tax, is clear from the charter of the Empress Matilda to the abbey of St. André-en-Gouffern, (Round, Calendar, no. 593), commented upon by Stapleton, I, lxxxviii. For other instances, see American Historical Review, xiv, 464, n. 70.
instead of in kind, was the most characteristic feature of Norman administration. It is not unconnected with the arithmetical nicety with which the dukes and their barons regulated military service, and throughout Norman history before 1204 it was the use of money which enabled the dukes to adapt feudal institutions to their needs, to develop their judicial prerogatives, to levy new taxes and so to hold their castles and to pay their mercenaries. To the old farm of the viscounty were added new sources of revenue, especially the farms of the towns and seaports, the rents of the holdings which clustered round the new castles, the fines and amercements paid for the sale of feudal privileges or the non-observance of feudal duties. But it should be noted that this familiarity with hard cash, this knowledge of bookkeeping, is found as soon as our Norman records become reliable, and stamps a character on Norman administration from the first. It may go back to the commercial precocity of the Scandinavian traders who dealt so early in the coinage of the East. It probably was assisted by the trade for the pursuit of which the towns of Normandy were so conveniently situated. As always, it fed on itself and increased as its creatures increased. It accounts very largely for the early disappearance of serfdom in Normandy, of serfdom, that is, which means arbitrary labour service and dues in kind, for in Normandy, as in Kent, there must have been some connection between trade and a free peasantry. In its
1. Montelius, Les Temps pre-historiques en Suède et dans les autres pays Scandinaves (trans. S. Reinach), p. 282, where illustrations are given of a dirhem struck at Samarcand, and of a Byzantine coin found in Scandinavia “Plus de 20,000 monnaies arabes en argent, la plupart frappées au ixe et au xe siècle, ont été recueillies en Suède.”
2. Delisle, Etudes sur la condition de la classe agricole, pp. 18–25; Pollock and Maitland, ii, 271–273 (for Kent). On the spread of the use of money from the non-agricultural communities, the Dialogus de Scaccario, Bk, i, c. 7 (Oxford ed., p. 89), though not historically exact (Round, Commune of London, p. 69) suggestive. substitution of money for services in Normandy was going on rapidly in the twelfth century.
turn, the free peasantry increased the population and wealth of the community.1 If we except part of the Côtentin which provided for the needs of the ducal household, and some fishing villages, whose herrings were as useful as money, the revenues of Normandy were paid almost entirely in money.
I have said that a change in the position of the viscounts is to be traced even before the conquest of England. The system of farms was continuous, and even the amounts of the farms; some of the families of viscounts maintained their offices as hereditary fiefs down to the end of the duchy's independent existence;? but before 1066 Duke William seems to have insisted on their removable character. 3 In the reign of Henry I the term ballia, bailiwick, appears, and it is possible that his experience of Robert of Bellême hastened the process which merged
1. That the change in the condition of the peasantry was not due to racial reasons is clear from the facts that, as in Kent, it seems to have encouraged partibility which was not especially a Scandinavian custom,-indeed the tendency in Scandinavia seems to have been towards primogeniture; and, secondly, that enfranchisement was preceded by peasant risings which extended all along the north of France, from Brittany to Flanders These risings began in the first half of the ninth century, in Flanders. See the interesting facts collected by M. Sée in his book, Les Classes rurales et le régime domanial en France au moyen age (Paris, 1901), pp. 73–76. For the Norman rising in the reign of duke Richard II, see Delisle, Etudes, pp. 120–125. According to the chronicle of Nantes, Alain Barbetorte, count of Brittany, sought to increase the population of Brittany, about 950, by means of freed serfs who had come from France. M. de la Borderie thinks that he abolished serfdom on all his domain (Histoire de Bretagne, ii, 415; iii, 100).
2. The earls of Chester were hereditary viscounts in the Bessin. An interesting figure in Henry II's reign was the viscountess of Rouen, who seems to have had hereditary office in Rocen, before the citizens farmed the viscounty. See Delisle, Introduction to the Recueil des Actes de Henri II, pp. 214–216.
3. The Conqueror seems to have regarded the local officials as removable, and also to have created new centres of jurisdiction (American Historical Rerieu, xiv, 470; Valin, p. 98).
the old viscounties into the general system of ducal administration. A new class of officials arose, people with obscure names like Trossebot, 1 and the line of distinction between the servants of the household and the local officials became faint. The castles were placed under the more direct supervision of the duke, the viscounts worked side by side with the servants (ministri) and justices : 2 the word ballia, a vague general word, was employed indiscriminately for offices and jurisdictions of every kind. At the centre, on the other hand, order and precision appeared. The body of justices was separated from the barons, and formed a court apart. This was the court of the exchequer, which was to combine in Normandy the functions of the courts of common pleas and exchequer.3 The seneschal was not yet the president of the court, but he was an essential member of it. 4. A system of writs and recognitions, as we shall see, had also been developed. The main lines of Angevin administration had been laid down before the death of Henry I.
The next period includes the rule of Geoffrey of Anjou, who seems to have made several important changes in Normandy, and the first part of the reign of Henry II. For the previous period the only authority of real value, apart from a few pages in the chronicle of Orderic Vitalis, is the evidence of charters. For the next period charters can be confirmed and explained by the important chronicle of Robert of Torigni, abbot of Mont St. Michel, and by
1. Ord. Vit., iv, 165. For this 'ignoble’ family, see Stapleton, II, Ixxvi; Tardif, in Coutumiers de Normandie, I, i, 103.
2. Below p. 84. 3. Below p. 85.
4. Haskins, in English Historical Review, xxiv, 218. Bishop John of Lisieux was at the head of the exchequer in Henry I's reign, probably as chief justiciar; with Robert de la Haie, the seneschal, as the principal member of the court.