Page images

the earliest custumal, which, though compiled in the last years of the century, consists largely in the statutes and the results of inquiries made by Henry I and his successors, of whom Henry II was, of course, supreme. Of Henry II's inquest in 1171 there survives a detailed statement of ducal and other rights in the Avranchin. The very valuable list of knights' fees, drawn up in 1172, gives some idea of the important bailiwicks.2

The energy of Henry II has become proverbial. It received tiresome recognition from the endless stream of suppliants who would not leave him at peace, says a contemporary, during the mass nor give him time to say a paternoster.3

He took up the work of his grandfather Henry I, and ruled England, Normandy, Anjou, and Poitou as easily and confidently as Geoffrey Martel had managed Anjou alone. It is doubtful if he introduced any Angevin practices in his other states, unless he introduced the practice of succession by parage;4 but the influence of Anjou cannot be set on one side. Angevin law, while enforcing succession by parage, had early laid stress on the rights of the eldest son. During Henry II's reign parage seems to have been systematised and defined, or at least recommended as the ordinary rule of succession in Normandy, and even in Brittany, except in the cases of the single barony, knights' fee, and military serjeanty: in these cases Henry insisted upon primogeniture. By

1. This document is in Delisle's Introduction to the Recueil des Actes de Henri II, pp. 345–7. Haskins has proved that it belongs to the inquest of 1171; English Historical Review, xxv, 326.

2. I have shown that the headings in the list, as given in the Red Book of the Exchequer (ii, 624–645), have become confused in transmission from the original roll (English Historical Review, xxv, 89) but the list is none the less valuable, as testimony to the bailiwicks.

3. Peter of Blois puts these words into Henry's mouth in one of his writings, a dialogue between the king and the abbot of Bonneval (Migne, Patrologia Latina, ccvii, 975 seq.).

4. See note B at the end of this chapter.

these measures—for they were definite enactments ? Henry shaped the law of property in Normandy. The habits of Angevin administration probably had as much influence upon the king as the principles of Angevin law.

In a previous chapter I have singled out the castle, the inquest, and the seneschal as the main instruments, personal and impersonal, of Angevin government. All these instruments were used by Henry I in Normandy; but it is perhaps not fanciful to see the influence of Angevin traditions in the extension which Henry II gave to their importance throughout his empire. Central government rested upon the power of the seneschal. Local government was developed on the general principle that a bailiff, who might or might not exercise the other functions of the older viscount or prévôt, administered a large area from a royal castle, and was endowed with judicial rather than financial powers. Finally, by means of the writ of recognition, the judicial system was developed, and judicial authority was gradually controlled by, even when not actually vested in, the duke and his officials.

Henry II was served by a series of great seneschals, Robert of Neufbourg, Richard of Ilchester, and William Fitz Ralf. At one time during his short reign in Normandy Stephen had delegated his powers to two justiciars; but it is only under the Angevin dukes that we find the whole

1. The words in the Statuta et Consuetudines, show that the rules about primogeniture were of this kind ; 'et si escaetas nunquam habuerint et solum feodum lorice vel dimidium quod partitum fuerit ante hanc constitutionem, etc. (c. 8, Tardif, I, i, p. 9). The assisa comitis Gaufredi, original copies of which, sealed with the seals of Constance and Geoffrey, were distributed among the great barons of Brittany, is best edited by Planiol, La très ancienne coutume de Bretagne, avec les assises, constitutions de Parlement, etc. (Bibliothèque Bretonne Armoricaine, ii), Rennes, 1896, pp. 321-323. It is dated, Redon 1185, and is issued at the request (petitio) of the bishops and barons of Brittany, in order to prevent the great loss to the land (detrimentum terrae plurimum) which arose from partibility. See especially Guilhiermoz, pp. 214–220.

administrative machinery in the control of the seneschal. The seneschal was inspector-general and chief justice in one person. More intimately connected in Normandy with the barons of the exchequer than were his counterparts elsewhere, he was the president of the exchequer at Caen. As chief justice, he presided over the full court of the duke in important cases throughout Normandy.2 William Fitz Ralf, during King Richard's absence, was literally at the head of the State, a legislator, 3 as well as an official. Papal legates and Count John found to their cost that they had to deal with a man who was responsible to the duke alone. It is clear that John, when he became king, was uneasy and suspicious of such a powerful servant. William Fitz Ralf was succeeded by others who rapidly followed each other out of office.5 Indeed, the responsibility entrusted to the seneschal at a time of crisis was immense. It was his duty, as the rolls of John's reign testify, to go about from castle to castle on a tour of inspection, to fix the number of the garrisons, and to order repairs. In the course of a single year more than 7,300 li., Angevin money, passed through the hands of Guérin of Glapion, in order to be expended upon the fortifications of

[ocr errors]

1. See Orderic, v, 91; Valin, pp. 155–163. Mr. Vernon Harcourt, whose views as expounded in his book, His Grace the Steward (1907), are effectively criticised by M. Valin, lays stress (p. 35) on the influence of the practice of Anjou; but see Haskins in English Historical Review, xxiv, 218.

2. The case between Engelger of Bohon and Ralph of Arden (April 7, 1199) was settled before Fitz Ralf at Vaudreuil, in the presence of some of the chief barons of Normandy (Stapleton, II, p. xxxv). The news of Richard's wound at Chaluz reached them during the trial (Hist. de Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 158).

3. English Historical Review, xxii, 20. For Fitz Ralf as a legislator, see Statuta et consuetudines, cc. lx-lxv (Tardif, I, i, 61-7), and Tardif's remarks, p. lxxv.

4. Howden, iii, 203, 204, 254. Below p. 143.
5. Valin, pp. 102-103.
6. Rot. Norm., ed. Hardy, pp. 120–121.

[ocr errors]




royal castles and in wages.1 William Crassus, the last baron to hold the office under John, was placed in charge of several strongholds at once, and was left by the king as guardian of the duchy with a special grant of 500 li. per annum.

Before the year 1172, when the list of Norman knights' fees was compiled, the Norman bailiwicks had been formed. They were part of a grand reconstruction of local government, which Henry took in hand after the civil wars. The chief measures were the recovery of ducal rights and property which had been lost or granted away, 3 and the erection of new or the seizure of old castles. * Some of these acquisitions were farmed as escheats rather than as viscounties. The county of Mortain and the honour of Montfort are cases in point. But the greater number were treated as part of the ducal demesne. Hence it was easier for Henry, continuing a policy perhaps already begun by his grandfather, to reorganise the administrative divisions of Normandy. The duchy was divided into bailiwicks which, while corresponding for the most part to the old areas took account of the new condition of things. At the same time reasons of state

1. Receipts, March 1201 to March 1202 (Rot. Scacc., ii, 501). 2. Rot. Norm., 118. 3. Robert of Torigni (ed. Delisle), i, 284. Important inquiries were held in 1163 (i, 344), in 1171 (ii, 28), 1176 (Diceto, i, 415). All these inquiries correspond to similar actions taken at almost the same time in England. In my opinion, also, an iter of inquiry was made in Normandy in 1194 along with the famous inquiry of Hubert Walter in England (Rot. Scacc., i, 146, 167, 271).

4. Below, pp. 269, 276. 5. The Dialogus de Scaccario explains the difference between the treatment of an escheat and of the royal domain, Bk. ii, cc. 24, 27 (Oxford ed., pp. 155, 158). Roger fitz Landri had the farm of the honour of Montfort in 1180 (Rot. Scacc., i, 82). Mortain was not farmed as a whole, but the subordinate farms were paid direct into the exchequer (Rot. Scacc., 8, 9), and Nigel fitz Robert, the seneschal of Mortain, accounted for the “auxilium vicecomitis,” the proceeds of St. Hilaire, and the fines, etc. (pp. 9, 10).

[ocr errors]


and changes in the law combined to make it desirable to distinguish these areas of local jurisdiction from the fiscal centres : the viscounties and preposituræ of old and new demesne were regarded as the units of financial organisation. When it is remembered that, during the previous two centuries the primitive demesne of the dukes had steadily decreased, it is easy to see why the old viscounties appear, for the most part, as survivals of secondary value in the exchequer rolls of 1180 and of later years, while the new fortresses built or acquired by Henry I and his successors have become the centres of flourishing præposituræ.

This distinction between the administrative and financial systems is not clear at first sight for several reasons. the first place, the bailiffs were, as local justices and administrators, financial officials also. They accounted for the proceeds of fines, proffers, amercements and special receipts which were not included in the fixed farms. In the second place, several of the bailiwicks continued the old viscounties and preserved the old titles; for example, the old viscounty of the Roumois or Romeis, in the Seine valley, was merged into the new system. Thirdly, in many cases the head of the bailiwick was also the farmer of the demesne, or of part of it; also, it is confusing to find that he was sometimes castellan and sometimes not. All these cases, however, are capable of a simple explanation of one kind or another. When Verneuil, a new foundation, became the centre of a bailiwick, it was natural to entrust it altogether to one servant of the king; on the other

1. Alvered of St. Martin, the bailiff of the district of Bray, in which lay the castle of Drincourt and the honour of St. Saens, rendered account “de censis novarum domorum de Drincourt qui sunt extra firmam prepositurae(Rot. Scacc., i, 57).

2. This district, which is called "baillia Wilhelmi de Malepalet" in 1172 (Red Book of the Exchequer, ii, 636) is called the viscounty of the Romeis (Roumois) in 1180 (Rot. Scacc., i, 77). There are other instances.

3. That Verneuil was a bailiwick is clear from a comparison of the roll of 1180 (Rot. Scacc., i, 84) with that of 1198, where the fines, etc., are accounted for (ii, 312).

« PreviousContinue »