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exempt even a count or baron from the jurisdiction of the court. 1
The exchequer rolls, our only witness to this busy life before the reign of John, testify to the energy with which the judicial work was done. The variety of the fines and amercements show that it was not done easily, and the custumal reveals another difficulty which was due to the complexity of the system itself. The rapid increase in the number of officials provoked remonstrance in the early twelfth century. Henry II, Richard and John in turn ordered inquiries to be made into the debts or exactions of their bailiffs, and, according to the custumal, one of the chief functions of the itinerant justices was to supervise the conduct of the viscounts or bailiffs and to see that they had done justice to the poor. The bailiffs had to prepare the business of the assizes, to seek out pleas of the sword in those lordships which did not possess the right to hold them, 5 and to account for the proceeds, unless a special official had been appointed to keep the pleas. 6
The farmers of the demesne also, who often paid large
1. Statuta et consuetudines, c. lvi (Tardif, I, I, 45). 2. Peter of Blois, Epistolae, ed. Giles, i, 297–8.
3. For Richard, see exchequer roll of 1195 (Rot. Scacc., i, 146. *Johannes de Pratellis reddit compotum de dc. li. xviii li. xii. d. de jurea facta super eum per omnes Ballias Normannie'). For John, the letters against the 'tolta et molestias' of the bailiffs (November 23, 1201. Rot. Pat., p. 3).
4. Statuta et consuetudines, c. lv (Tardif, I, I, 44). 5. Above, note 1.
6. In 1171 a local official kept the pleas of the sword in the Avranchin “Galfridus Peile vilain feodum suum, qui est inde dominicus serviens regis ad custodienda placita regis.” Delisle, Introduction to Actes de Henri 11, p. 346. See English Historical Review, xxv, 710. This is apparently a serjeanty like those of Sewale fitz Henry and Philip of Ulcot in Northumberland (Red Book, ii, 466, 564).
sums for the privilege of office, did not escape frequent inquiry. Moreover, the seneschal, upon whom the responsibility of inspection mainly fell, could not always rely upon the judicial officers themselves. William Fitz Ralf, the great seneschal who governed Normandy from 1180 on to the death of Richard, became especially well known as a disciplinarian. A man of the same stamp as that active - English judge, Martin Pateshull, he swept away many abuses. The author of the custumal refers particularly to the manner in which technicalities in pleading could be used to entrap simple or ignorant people ;2 one of which illustrates remarkably well the cruel and pedantic buffoonery of a half-civilised man of law. The pleaders, he says, ' used to declare simple folk in mercy because when they came to take the oath, they used to kneel down without the consent of the judge; and then, when as they knelt they heard themselves accused of kneeling, they would rise, whereupon the pleaders would accuse them of rising without the consent of the judge; and so the clerk would write them down as in mercy on his parchment. Norman d'Orgierville referred to this when he said that he had lived long enough to see 'Silly Bernard' played in the court of the lord king; as the boys play, who say ‘rise, Bernard, and then, if he does not rise, prick his face. Indeed this is exactly what the clerk does when he writes on his parchment: he unjustly pricks in the names of these simple people as being in mercy. The seneschal,
1. In 1203 King John made a characteristic bargain. The king owed money to William des Preaux. He gave him the viscounty of the Lieuvin at a farm twice the sum of the old farm, and this was to go to William until the debt was paid. The unfortunate people whose lands were subject to the rents and pleas of the viscounty had to pay double in order to get rid of John's debts, and the creditor was also the collector. (Rot. Norm., pp. 89, 116). It is also worth noticing that the farmer of the viscounty was also generally the bailiff of the Lieuvin.
2. Statuta et consuetudines, cc. Ixii, lxiii, lxv (Tardif, I, i, pp. 53–57).
3. Ibid, lxv (Tardif, I, i, pp. 56, 57). The 'placitatores' here seem to be legal assessors.
to put an end to this, ordered the pleaders who gave such unjust judgment to be kept in prison until they had handed over their chattels to the very last farthing, that henceforward they might be of no credit (infideles) with their neighbours.'
The statutory recognitions, to which the extension of judicial machinery was largely owing, illustrate the formative character of Norman law. As presented by the earliest law book, the Statuta et consuetudines, Norman law was a body of custom modified and enlarged by statute. The instance just given shows that in order to check the rapacity of officials further interpretation was sometimes necessary in the interests of equity. The circumstances of war or accident might also make changes desirable : for example, in King Richard's reign, the rights of daughters were set aside, owing to the war, in favour of the sons of a brother.1 Again, the justices had occasion to adapt the law to meet new problems. The result of these changes was that stress was laid upon the idea of the state rather than upon the principles of feudalism. Although, as we have seen, Norman society was essentially feudal, and in many respects Norman law was more logical than English in its interpretation of feudalism, the general result must have seemed very much the same in both countries before they separated. In spite of the great advantages which the Norman and Angevin rulers had in England, where the system of local courts hindered the formation of hard and fast franchises from the outset, Normandy was ahead of England in judicial reform. From a very early date, for example,
1. Statuta et consuetudines, c. xii (Tardif, I, i, p. 13).
2. The following is a case in point. In 1195 certain persons paid “xxli. pro habendo judicio utrum avunculus eorum potuit totam hereditatem suam dare in religionem” (Rot. Scacc., i, 183, a. 1195). This question is decided generally in the custumal, c. lxxxix (Tardif, I, i, p. 99) de donationibus elemosine; cf. the next chapter
quod homo potest vendere totum tenementum."
the Norman dukes had refused to respect persons in their management of the ducal forests. All men, clerk and lay, were equally liable to incur the penalty of breaking the forest law;' moreover, the necessity of attending the
reguard' must have prepared all men, however great they might be, for attendance at the assizes. 2 Another incentive to the rapid development of state law in Normandy may be found in the influence of the Church. It is clear that the relation between Church and State, and the problems arising out of conflicting jurisdictions, had caused much thought. The necessity of dealing with such matters encouraged a self-conscious attitude towards the customs of the country. The clergy were on the whole well educated and far from provincial in their outlook; and the early study of canon law in Normandy is reflected in the pages of the custumal, not merely in its treatment of the recognitions but also in its logical and comprehensive structure and in its phraseology. 3
Apart, therefore, from the solidarity of the people, circumstances in Normandy were favourable to the extension of ducal power in the interests of the state. The Angevin dukes brought new energy and experience. As though to compensate for the loss of so much of the ducal demesne, they guarded jealously and increased their
1. Haskins, in American Historical Review, xiv, 470, for the reign of the Conqueror. Mr. Turner has shown (Select Pleas of the Forest, p. lxxxviii)) that less success attended Henry II's attempt to make the clergy liable in England (Assize of Woodstock, c. 9; Select Charters, p. 158; Diceto, i, 410).
2. Cf. this entry on the exchequer roll for 1180 (Rot. Scacc., i, 59). "Hugo de Gornaio debet c. li. quia non venit ad summonitionem Justicie ad reguardam foreste.”
3. See Tardif's introduction to the Statuta et consuetudines (Coutumiers de Normandie, I, i, p. lxxxiv). The last chapters of this custumal, forming the second part, were compiled in the early thirteenth century. They show traces of the direct influence of the civil law (pp. lxxii, lxxxv). M. Viollet has added some important suggestions upon the date and method of redaction of the two parts in the Histoire litteraire de la France, xxxii, 47, 58–64.
judicial prerogatives. Henry and his bureaucrats were willing to sell ducal rights at a high price,1 for by doing so they forced the confession that these were theirs to sell. They maintained the undoubted rights of others, because they realised that these kept the state together.? The early dukes had protected life, the home, the plough, the army, the Church. Then the roads and merchandise came under their care. Henry II protected possession. Wreckage and treasure trove, which belonged to no one, and the great fish of the sea, which no humble fisherman could claim, came under the duke's control.3 As possession was protected, private war gradually ceased. The wager by battle fell into disrepute, with lay men as with clerks, when they had learned to put themselves upon the duke's assize,4 just as scholars began to contrast the barbarian
1. The lord had the right of wardship. Here is a case of selling the right to a mother. “Clementia quae fuit uxor Roberti Monteforti reddit compotum de d. li. de remanente finis sui pro custodia terre puerorum suorum” (Rot. Scacc., i, 40).
2. Cf. an English example of 23 August, 1199, from Rot. Chart., llb. “Memorandum quod Robertus Mauclericus debet impetrare assensum abbatis Sancti Albani de custodia terre Rogeri de Crokelay antequam utatur litteris domini Regis.”
3. The history and growth of the pleas of the sword from the early part of the eleventh century may be traced in the following documents :
(a) The early charters granting ducal pleas and customs, which are discussed by Haskins, American Historical Review, xiv, 459–462.
(6) The Consuetudines et Justicie, in inquest of 1091, edited with a commentary in the English Historical Review, xxiii, 502–508.
(c) The charters of Henry I in the Black Book of Bayeux, and in Haskins's article in English Historical Review, xxiv, p. 210.
(d) The inquest into royal customs made by Henry II, preserved in the second part of the custumal, cc. lxvi-lxx (Tardif, I, i. pp. 59–65).
(e) The custumal generally, especially the first part, for the state of things at the end of the twelfth century.
4. The duel, which was about this time condemned by the ecclesiastical councils in favour of the jury, occurs less frequently in the exchequer rolls after 1180. See Canel, Le Combat Judiciare en Normandie,