OUR LEGAL HERITAGE: King AEthelbert - King George III
S. A. Reilly author
- The Times: 1100-1154 - King Henry I, son of William the Conquerer, furthered peace between the Normans and native English by his marriage to a niece of King Edward the Confessor called Matilda. She married him on condition that he grant a charter of rights undoing some practices of the past reigns of William I and William II. Peace was also furthered by the fact that Henry I had been born in England and English was his native tongue. The private wars of lords were now replaced by less serious mock battles. Henry was a shrewd judge of character and of the course of events, cautious before taking action, but decisive in carrying out his plans. He was faithful and generous to his friends. He showed a strong practical element of calculation and foresight. Although illiterate, he was intelligent and a good administrator. He had an efficient intelligence gathering network and an uncanny knack of detecting hidden plans before they became conspiratorial action. He made many able men of inferior social position nobles, thus creating a class of career judges and administrators in opposition to the extant hereditary aristocracy. He loved books and built a palace at Oxford to which he invited scholars for lively discussion. Queen Matilda served as regent of the kingdom in Henry's absence, as William's queen had for him. Both queens received special coronation apart from their husbands; they held considerable estates which they administered through their own officers, and were frequently composed of escheated honors. Matilda was learned and a literary patron. She founded an important literary and scholastic center. Her compassion was great and her charities extensive. In London she founded several almshouses and a care- giving infirmary for lepers. These were next to small monastic communities. She also had new roads and bridges built. Henry issued charters restoring customs which had been subordinated to royal impositions by previous Kings, which set a precedent for later Kings. His coronation charter describes certain property rights he restored after the oppressive reign of his brother. "Henry, King of the English, to Samson the bishop, and Urse of Abbetot, and to all his barons and faithful vassals, both French and English, in Worcestershire, greeting. [1.] Know that by the mercy of God and by the common counsel of the barons of the whole kingdom of England I have been crowned king of this realm. And because the kingdom has been oppressed by unjust exactions, I now, being moved by reverence towards God and by the love I bear you all, make free the Church of God; so that I will neither sell nor lease its property; nor on the death of an archbishop or a bishop or an abbot will I take anything from the demesne of the Church or from its vassals during the period which elapses before a successor is installed. I abolish all the evil customs by which the kingdom of England has been unjustly oppressed. Some of those evil customs are here set forth. [2.] If any of my barons or of my earls or of any other of my tenants shall die his heir shall not redeem his land as he was wont to do in the time of my brother [William II (Rufus)], but he shall henceforth redeem it by means of a just and lawful 'relief`. Similarly the men of my barons shall redeem their lands from their lords by means of a just and lawful 'relief`. [3.] If any of my barons or of my tenants shall wish to give in marriage his daughter or his sister or his niece or his cousin, he shall consult me about the matter; but I will neither seek payment for my consent, nor will I refuse my permission, unless he wishes to give her in marriage to one of my enemies. And if, on the death of one of my barons or of one of my tenants, a daughter should be his heir, I will dispose of her in marriage and of her lands according to the counsel given me by my barons. And if the wife of one of my tenants shall survive her husband and be without children, she shall have her dower and her marriage portion [that given to her by her father], and I will not give her in marriage unless she herself consents. [4.] If a widow survives with children under age, she shall have her dower and her marriage portion, so long as she keeps her body chaste; and I will not give her in marriage except with her consent. And the guardian of the land, and of the children, shall be either the widow or another of their relations, as may seem more proper. And I order that my barons shall act likewise towards the sons and daughters and widows of their men. [5.] I utterly forbid that the common mintage [a forced levy to prevent loss to the King from depreciation of the coinage], which has been taken from the towns and counties, shall henceforth be levied, since it was not so levied in the time of King Edward [the Confessor]. If any moneyer or other person be taken with false money in his possession, let true justice be visited upon him. [6.] I forgive all pleas and all debts which were owing to my brother [William II], except my own proper dues, and except those things which were agreed to belong to the inheritance of others, or to concern the property which justly belonged to others. And if anyone had promised anything for his heritage, I remit it, and I also remit all 'reliefs' which were promised for direct inheritance. [7.] If any of my barons or of my men, being ill, shall give away or bequeath his movable property, I will allow that it shall be bestowed according to his desires. But if, prevented either by violence or through sickness, he shall die intestate as far as concerns his movable property, his widow or his children, or his relatives or one his true men shall make such division for the sake of his soul, as may seem best to them. [8.] If any of my barons or of my men shall incur a forfeit, he shall not be compelled to pledge his movable property to an unlimited amount, as was done in the time of my father [William I] and my brother; but he shall only make payment according to the extent of his legal forfeiture, as was done before the time of my father and in the time of my earlier predecessors. Nevertheless, if he be convicted of breach of faith or of crime, he shall suffer such penalty as is just. [9.] I remit all murder-fines which were incurred before the day on which I was crowned King; and such murder-fines as shall now be incurred shall be paid justly according to the law of King Edward [by sureties]. [10.] By the common counsel of my barons I have retained the forests in my own hands as my father did before me. [11.] The knights, who in return for their estates perform military service equipped with a hauberk [long coat] of mail, shall hold their demesne lands quit of all gelds [money payments] and all work; I make this concession as my own free gift in order that, being thus relieved of so great a burden, they may furnish themselves so well with horses and arms that they may be properly equipped to discharge my service and to defend my kingdom. [12.] I establish a firm peace in all my kingdom, and I order that this peace shall henceforth be kept. [13.] I restore to you the law of King Edward together with such emendations to it as my father [William I] made with the counsel of his barons. [14.] If since the death of my brother, King William [II], anyone shall have seized any of my property, or the property of any other man, let him speedily return the whole of it. If he does this no penalty will be exacted, but if he retains any part of it he shall, when discovered, pay a heavy penalty to me. Witness: Maurice, bishop of London; William, bishop-elect of Winchester; Gerard, bishop of Herefore; Henry the earl; Simon the earl; Walter Giffard; Robert of Montfort-sur-Risle; Roger Bigot; Eudo the steward; Robert, son of Haimo; and Robert Malet. At London when I was crowned. Farewell." Henry took these promises seriously, which resulted in peace and justice. Royal justice became a force to be reckoned with by the multiplication of justices. Henry had a great respect for legality and the forms of judicial action. He became known as the "Lion of Justice". The payment of queen's gold, that is of a mark of gold to the queen out of every hundred marks of silver paid, in the way of fine or other feudal incident, to the king, probably dates from Henry I's reign. A woman could inherit a fief if she married. The primary way for a man to acquire control of land was to marry an heiress. If a man were in a lower station than she was, he had to pay for his new social status as well as have royal permission. A man could also be awarded land which had escheated to the King. If a noble woman wanted to hold land in her own right, she had to make a payment to the King. Many widows bought their freedom from guardianship or remarriage from the King. Women whose husbands were at war also ran the land of their husbands. Barons were lords of large holdings of farmland called "manors". Many of the lesser barons left their dark castles to live in semi- fortified stone houses, which usually were of two rooms with rug hangings for drafts, as well as the sparse furniture that had been common to the castle. There were shuttered windows to allow in light, but which also let in the wind and rain when open. The roof was of thatch or narrow overlapping wood shingles. The stone floor was strewn with hay and there was a hearth near the center of the floor, with a louvered smoke hole in the timber roof for escape of smoke. There were barns for grain and animals. Beyond this area was a garden, orchard, and sometimes a vineyard. The area was circumscribed by a moat over which there was a drawbridge to a gatehouse. The smaller room was the lord and lady's bedroom. It had a canopied bed, chests for clothing, and wood frames on which clothes could be hung. Life on the manor revolved around the larger room, or hall, where the public life of the household was passed. There, meals were served. The daily diet typically consisted of milk, soup, porridge, fish, vegetables, and bread. Open hospitality accompanied this communal living. There was little privacy. Manor household villeins carried the lord's sheaves of grain to the manor barn, shore his sheep, malted his grain, and chopped wood for his fire. At night some slept on the floor of the hall. Others, who were cottars and bordars, had their own dwellings nearby. The manor house of lesser lords or knights was still built of wood, although it often had a stone foundation. About 35% of the land was arable land, about 25% was common pasture land (for grazing only) or meadow land (near a stream or river and used for hay or grazing), and about 15% was woodland. There were these types of land and wasteland on each manor. The arable land was allotted to the villeins in strips to equalize the best and worst land and their distance from the village where the villeins lived. There was three-way rotation of wheat or rye, oats or barley, and fallow land. Cows, pigs, sheep, and fowl were kept. The meadow was allocated for hay for the lord's household and each villein's. The villeins held land of their lord for various services such as agricultural labor or raising domestic animals. The villeins worked about half of their time on their lord's fields [his demesne land], which was about a third of the farmland. This work was primarily to gather the harvest and to plough with oxen, using a yoke over their shoulders, and to sow in autumn and Lent. They threshed grain on barn floors with flails cut from holly or thorn, and removed the kernels from the shafts by hand. Work lasted from sunrise to sunset and included women and children. The older children could herd geese and pigs, and set snares for rabbits. The young children could gather nuts and berries in season and other wild edibles, and could pick up little tufts of wool shed by sheep. The old could stay in the hut and mind the children, keep the fire going and the black pot boiling, sew, spin, patch clothes, and cobble shoes. The old often suffered from rheumatism. Many people had bronchitis. Many children died of croup [inflammation of the respiratory passages]. Life expectancy was probably below thirty-five. The villein retained his customary rights, his house and land and rights of wood and hay, and his right in the common land of his township. Customary ways were maintained. The villeins of a manor elected a reeve to communicate their interests to their lord, usually through a bailiff, who directed the labor. Sometimes there was a steward in charge of several of a lord's manors, who also held the manorial court for the lord. The steward held his land of the lord by serjeanty, which was a specific service to the lord. Other serjeanty services were carrying the lord's shield and arms, finding attendants and esquires for knights, helping in the lord's hunting expeditions, looking after his hounds, bringing fuel, doing carpentry, and forging irons for ploughs. The Woodward preserved the timber. The Messer supervised the harvesting. The Hayward removed any fences from the fields after harvest to allow grazing by cattle and sheep. The Coward, Bullard, and Calvert tended the cows, bulls, and calves; the Shepherd, the sheep; and the Swineherds the pigs. The Ponder impounded stray stock. There were varieties of horses: war horses, riding horses, courier horses, pack horses, and plough horses. The majority of manors were co-extensive with a single village. The villeins lived in the village in one-room huts enclosed by a wood fence, hedge, or stone wall. In this yard was a garden of onions, leeks, mustard, peas, beans, parsley, garlic, herbs, and cabbage and apple, pear, cherry, quince, and plum trees, and bee- hives. The hut had a high-pitched roof thatched with reeds or straw and low eaves reaching almost to the ground. The walls are built of wood-framing overlaid with mud or plaster. Narrow slits in the walls serve as windows, which have shutters and are sometimes covered with coarse cloth. The floor is dirt and may be covered with straw or rushes for warmth, but usually no hearth. In the middle is a wood fire burning on a hearthstone, which was lit by making a spark by striking flint and iron together. The smoke rose through a hole in the roof. At one end of the hut was the family living area, where the family ate on a collapsible trestle table with stools or benches. Their usual food was beans and peas, oatmeal gruel, butter, cheese, vegetables, honey, rough bread made from a mixture of wheat, barley, and rye flour, herrings or other salt fish, and some salted or smoked bacon. Butter had first been used for cooking and as a medicine to cure constipation and for puny children it could be salted down for the winter. The bread had been roasted on the stones of the fire; later there were communal ovens set up in villages. Cooking was done over the fire by boiling in iron pots hung from an iron tripod, or sitting on the hot stones of the fire. They ate from wood bowls using a wood spoon. When they had fresh meat, it could be roasted on a spit. Liquids were heated in a kettle. With drinking horns, they drank water, milk, buttermilk, apple cider, mead, ale made from barley malt, and bean and vegetable broth. They used jars and other earthenware, e.g. for storage of salt. They slept on straw mattresses or sacks on the floor or on benches. The villein regarded his bed area as the safest place in the house, as did people of all ranks, and kept his treasures there, which included his farm implements, as well as hens on the beams, roaming pigs, and stalled oxen, cattle, and horses, which were at the other end of the hut. Fires were put out at night to guard against fire burning down the huts. The warmth of the animals then helped make the hut warm. Around the room are a couple of chests to store salt, meal, flour, a broom made of birch twigs, some woven baskets, the distaff and spindle for spinning, and a simple loom for weaving. All clothes were homemade. They were often coarse, greasy wool and leather made from their own animals. The man wore a tunic of coarse linen embroidered on the sleeves and breast, around with he wore a girdle of rope, leather, or folded cloth. Sometimes he also wore breeches reaching below the knee. The woman wore a loose short-sleeved gown, under which was a tight fitting garment with long loose sleeves, and which was short enough to be clear of the mud. If they wore shoes, they were clumsy and patched. Some wore a hood-like cap. For really bad weather, a man wore on his head a hood with a very elongated point which could be wrapped around his neck. Sometimes a short cape over the shoulders was attached. Linen was too expensive for commoners. The absence of fresh food during the winter made scurvy prevalent; in the spring, people eagerly sought "scurvy grass" to eat. Occasionally there would be an outbreak of a nervous disorder due to the ergot fungus growing in the rye used for bread. This manifested itself in apparent madness, frightening hallucinations, incoherent shouting, hysterical laughing, and constant scratching of itching and burning sensations. The villein and his wife and children worked from daybreak to dusk in the fields, except for Sundays and holydays. He had certain land to farm for his own family, but had to have his grain milled at his lord's mill at the lord's price. He had to retrieve his wandering cattle from his lord's pound at the lord's price. He was expected to give a certain portion of his own produce, whether grain or livestock, to his lord. However, if he fell short, he was not put off his land. The villein, who worked the farm land as his ancestor ceorl had, now was so bound to the land that he could not leave or marry or sell an ox without his lord's consent. If the manor was sold, the villein was sold as a part of the manor. When his daughter or son married, he had to pay a "merchet" to his lord. He could not have a son educated without the lord's permission, and this usually involved a fee to the lord. His best beast at his death, or "heriot", went to his lord. If he wanted permission to live outside the manor, he paid "chevage" yearly. Woodpenny was a yearly payment for gathering dead wood. Sometimes a "tallage" payment was taken at the lord's will. The villein's oldest son usually took his place on his land and followed the same customs with respect to the lord. For an heir to take his dead ancestor's land, the lord demanded payment of a "relief", which was usually the amount of a year's income but sometimes as much as the heir was willing to pay to have the land. The usual aids were also expected to be paid. A large village also had a smith, a wheelwright, a millwright, a tiler and thatcher, a shoemaker and tanner, a carpenter wainwright and carter. Markets were about twenty miles apart because a farmer from the outlying area could then carry his produce to the nearest town and walk back again in the daylight hours of one day. In this local market he could buy foodstuffs, livestock, household goods, fuels, skins, and certain varieties of cloth. The cloth was crafted by local weavers, dyers, and fullers. The weaver lived in a cottage with few and narrow windows with little furniture. He worked in the main, and sometimes the only, room. First the raw wool was washed with water at the front door to remove the grease. Then its fibers were disentangled and made fine with hand cards with thistle teeth, usually by the children. Then it was spun by a spinning wheel into thread, usually by the wife. The threads forming the warp of the fabric were fastened parallel on a double frame, of which the two ends rose and fell alternately and were worked by two pedals. To make the weft, the weaver threw a shuttle between them, from one hand to the other. Since one loom could provide work for about six spinners, he had his wool spun by other spinners in their cottages. Sometimes the master weaver had an apprentice or workman working and living with him, who had free board and lodging and an annual wage. Then a fuller made the cloth thick and dense by washing, soaping, beating, and agitating it, with the use of a community watermill which could be used by anyone for a fixed payment. The cloth dried through the night on a rack outside the cottage. The weaver then took his cloth, usually only one piece, to the weekly market to sell. The weavers stood at the market holding up their cloth. The cloth merchant who bought the cloth then had it dyed or dressed according to his requirements. Its surface could be raised with teazleheads and cropped or sheared to make a nap. Some cloth was sold to tailors to make into clothes. Often a weaver had a horse for travel, a cow for milk, chickens for eggs, perhaps a few cattle, and some grazing land. Butchers bought, slaughtered, and cut up animals to sell as meat. Some was sold to cooks, who sold prepared foods. The hide was bought by the tanner to make into leather. The leather was sold to shoemakers and glovemakers. Millers bought harvested grain to make into flour. Flour was sold to bakers to make into breads. Wood was bought by carpenters and by coopers, who made barrels, buckets, tubs, and pails. Tilers, oil-makers and rope- makers also bought raw material to make into finished goods for sale. Wheelwrights made ploughs, harrows, carts, and later wagons. Smiths and locksmiths worked over their hot fires. Games with dice were sometimes played. In winter, youths ice- skated with bones fastened to their shoes. They propelled themselves by striking the ice with staves shod with iron. On summer holydays, they exercised in leaping, shooting with the bow, wrestling, throwing stones, and darting a thrown spear. The maidens danced with timbrels. Since at least 1133, children's toys included dolls, drums, hobby horses, pop guns, trumpets, and kites. The cold, indoors as well as outdoors, necessitated that people wear ample and warm garments. Men and women of position dressed in long full cloaks reaching to their feet, sometimes having short full sleeves. The cloak generally had a hood and was fastened at the neck with a brooch. Underneath the cloak was a simple gown with sleeves tight at the wrist but full at the arm-hole, as if cut from the same piece of cloth. A girdle or belt was worn at the waist. When the men were hunting or working, they wore gown and cloak of knee length. Men wore stockings to the knee and shoes. The fashion of long hair on men returned. The nation grew with the increase of population, the development of towns, and the growing mechanization of craft industries. There were watermills for crafts and for supplying and draining water in all parts of the nation. In flat areas, slow rivers could be supplemented by creating artifical waterfalls, for which water was raised to the level of reservoirs. There were also some iron- smelting furnaces. Coal mining underground began as a family enterprise. Stone bridges over rivers could accommodate one person traveling by foot or by horseback and were steep and narrow. The wheelbarrow came into use to cart materials for building castles and cathedrals. Merchants, who had come from the low end of the knightly class or high end of the villein class, settled around the open market areas, where main roads joined. They had plots narrow in frontage along the road and deep. Their shops faced the road, with living space behind or above their stores. Town buildings were typically part stone and part timber as a compromise between fire precautions and expense. Towns, as distinct from villages, had permanent markets. As towns grew, they paid a fee to obtain a charter for self-government from the king giving the town judicial and commercial freedom. They were literate enough to do accounts. So they did their own valuation of the sum due to the crown so as not to pay the sheriff any more than that. These various rights were typically expanded in future times, and the towns received authority to collect the sum due to the crown rather than the sheriff. This they did by obtaining a charter renting the town to the burghers at a fee farm rent equal to the sum thus deducted from the amount due from the county. Such a town was called a "borough" and its citizens or landholding freemen "burgesses". To be free of something meant to have exclusive rights and privileges with respect to it. Selling wholesale could take place only in a borough. Burgesses were free to marry. They were not subject to defense except of the borough. They were exempt from attendance at county and hundred courts. The king assessed a tallage [ad hoc tax] usually at ten per cent of property or income. In the boroughs, merchant and manufacturing guilds controlled prices and assured quality. The head officer of the guild usually controlled the borough, which excluded rival merchant guilds. A man might belong to more than one guild, e.g. one for his trade and another for religion. Craft guilds grew up in the towns, such as the tanners at Oxford, which later merged with the shoemakers into a cordwainers' guild. There were weavers' guilds in several towns, including London, which were given royal sanction and protection for annual payments (twelve pounds of silver for London. They paid an annual tribute and were given a monopoly of weaving cloth within a radius of several miles. Guild rules covered attendance of the members at church services, the promotion of pilgrimages, celebration of masses for the dead, common meals, relief of poor brethren and sisters, the hours of labor, the process of manufacture, the wages of workmen, and technical education. Henry standardized the yard as the length of his own arm. Trades and crafts, each of which had to be licensed, grouped together by specialty in the town. Cloth-makers, dyers, tanners, and fullers were near an accessible supply of running water, upon which their trade depended. Streets were often named by the trade located there, such as Butcher Row, Pot Row, Cordwainer Row, Ironmonger Row, Wheeler Row, and Fish Row. Hirers of labor and sellers of wheat, hay, livestock, dairy products, apples and wine, meat, poultry, fish and pies, timber and cloth all had a distinct location. Some young men were apprenticed to craftsmen to assist them and learn their craft. London had at least twenty wards, each governed by its own alderman. Most of them were named after people. London was ruled by sixteen families linked by business and marriage ties. These businesses supplied luxury goods to the rich and included the goldsmiths [sold cups, dishes, girdles, mirrors, purses knives, and metal wine containers with handle and spout], vintners [wine merchants], mercers [sold textiles, haberdashery, combs, mirrors, knives, toys, spices, ointments, and potions], drapers, and pepperers, which later merged with the spicers to become the "grocers", skinners, tanners, shoemakers, woolmen, weavers, fishmongers, armorers, and swordsmiths. There were bakehouses at which one could leave raw joints of meat to be cooked and picked up later. These businesses had in common four fears: royal interference, foreign competition, displacement by new crafts, and violence by the poor and escaped villeins who found their way to the city. When a non-freeholder stayed in London he had to find for frankpledge, three sureties for good behavior. Failure to do so was a felony and the ward would eject him to avoid the charge of harboring him with its heavy fine. The arrival of ships with cargoes from continental ports and their departure with English exports was the regular waterside life below London Bridge. Many foreign merchants lived in London. Imports included timber, hemp, fish, and furs. There was a fraternal organization of citizens who had possessed their own lands with sac and soke and other customs in the days of King Edward. There were public bath-houses, but they were disreputable. A lady would take an occasional bath in a half cask in her home. The church warned of evils of exposing the flesh, even to bathe. Middlesex County was London's territory for hunting and farming. All London craft work was suspended for one month at harvest time. London received this charter for self-government and freedom from the financial and judicial organization of the county: "Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciars, sheriffs and all his loyal subjects, both French and English, throughout the whole of England - greeting. 1. Be it known to you that I have granted Middlesex to my citizens of London to be held on lease by them and their heirs of me and my heirs for 300 pounds paid by tale [yearly], upon these terms: that the citizens themselves [may] appoint a sheriff, such as they desire, from among themselves, and a justiciar, such as they desire, from among themselves, to safeguard the pleas of my Crown [criminal cases] and to conduct such pleas. And there shall be no other justiciar over the men of London. 2. And the citizens shall not take part in any [civil] case whatsoever outside the City walls. 1) And they shall be exempt from the payment of scot and danegeld and the murder fine. 2) And none of them shall take part in trial by combat. 3) And if any of the citizens has become involved in a plea of the Crown, he shall clear himself, as a citizen of London, by an oath which has been decreed in the city. 4) And no one shall be billeted [lodged in a person's house by order of the King] within the walls of the city nor shall hospitality be forcibly exacted for anyone belonging to my household or to any other. 5) And all the citizens of London and all their effects [goods] shall be exempt and free, both throughout England and in the seaports, from toll and fees for transit and market fees and all other dues. 6) And the churches and barons and citizens shall have and hold in peace and security their rights of jurisdiction [in civil and criminal matters] along with all their dues, in such a way that lessees who occupy property in districts under private jurisdiction shall pay dues to no one except the man to whom the jurisdiction belongs, or to the official whom he has placed there. 7) And a citizen of London shall not be amerced [fined by a court when the penalty for an offense is not designated by statute] to forfeiture of a sum greater than his wergeld, [hereby assessed as] 100 shillings, in a case involving money. 8) And further there shall be no miskenning [false plea causing a person to be summoned to court] in a husting [weekly court] or in a folkmoot [meeting of the community], or in any other court within the City. 9) And the Hustings [court] shall sit once a week on Monday. 10) And I assure to my citizens their lands and the property mortgaged to them and the debts due to them both within the City and without. 11) And with regard to lands about which they have pled in suit before me, I shall maintain justice on their behalf, according to the law of the City. 12) And if anyone has exacted toll or tax from citizens of London, the citizens of London within the city shall [have the right to] seize [by process of law] from the town or village where the toll or tax was exacted a sum equivalent to that which the citizen of London gave as toll and hence sustained as loss. 13) And all those who owe debts to citizens shall pay them or shall clear themselves in London from the charge of being in debt to them. 14) But if they have refused to pay or to come to clear themselves, then the citizens to whom they are in debt shall [have the right to] seize [by process of law] their goods [including those in the hands of a third party, and bring them] into the city from the [town, village or] county in which the debtor lives [as pledges to compel appearance in court]. 15) And the citizens shall enjoy as good and full hunting rights as their ancestors ever did, namely, in the Chilterns, in Middlesex, and in Surrey. Witnessed at Westminster." The above right not to take part in any case outside the city relieved London citizens from the burden of traveling to wherever the King's court happened to be, the disadvantage of not knowing local customs, and the difficulty of speaking in the language of the King's court rather than in English. The right of redress for tolls exacted was new because the state of the law was that the property of the inhabitants was liable to the king or superior lord for the common debt. Newcastle-on-Tyne was recognized by the king as having certain customs, so the following was not called a grant: "These are the laws and customs which the burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne had in the time of Henry King of England and ought to have.  Burgesses can distrain [take property of another until the other performs his obligation] upon foreigners within, or without their own market, within or without their own houses, and within or without their own borough without the leave of the reeve, unless the county court is being held in the borough, and unless [the foreigners are] on military service or guarding the castle.  A burgess cannot distrain upon a burgess without the leave of the reeve.  If a burgess have lent anything of his to a foreigner, let the debtor restore it in the borough if he admits the debt, if he denies it, let him justify himself in the borough.  Pleas which arise in the borough shall be held and concluded there, except pleas of the Crown.  If any burgess be appealed [sued] of any plaint, he shall not plead without the borough, unless for default of [the borough] court.  Nor ought he to answer without day and term, unless he have fallen into 'miskenning'[error in pleading], except in matters which pertain to the Crown.  If a ship have put in at Tynemouth and wishes to depart, the burgesses may buy what they will [from it].  If a plea arise between a burgess and a merchant, it shall be concluded before the third ebb of the tide.  Whatever merchandise a ship has brought by sea must be landed, except salt; and herring ought to be sold in the ship.  If any man have held land in burgage for a year and a day, lawfully and without claim, he shall not answer a claimant, unless the claimant have been without the realm of England, or a child not of age to plead.  If a burgess have a son, he shall be included in his father's freedom if he be with his father.  If a villein come to dwell in the borough, and dwell there a year and a day as a burgess, he shall abide altogether, unless notice has been given by him or by his master that he is dwelling for a term.  If any man appeal [sue] a burgess of any thing, he cannot do [trial by] battle with the burgess, but the burgess shall defend himself by his law, unless it be of treason, whereof he is bound to defend himself by [trial by] battle.  Neither can a burgess do [trial by] battle against a foreigner, unless he first go out of the borough.  No merchant, unless he be a burgess, may buy [outside] the town either wool or leather or other merchandise, nor within the borough except [from] burgesses.  If a burgess incur forfeit, he shall give six ounces [10s.] to the reeve.  In the borough there is no merchet [payment for marrying off a daughter] nor heriot nor bloodwite [fine for drawing blood] nor stengesdint [fine for striking with a stick].  Every burgess may have his own oven and hand-mill if he will, saving the right of the King's oven.  If a woman be in forfeit for bread or beer, no one ought to interfere but the reeve. If she forfeit twice, she shall be chastised by her forfeit. If three times, let justice be done on her.  No one but a burgess may buy webs [woven fabrics just taken off the loom] to dye, nor make nor cut them.  A burgess may give and sell his land and go whither he will freely and quietly unless there be a claim against him." The nation produced sufficient iron, but a primitive steel [iron with carbon added] was imported. It was scarce and expensive. Steel was used for tools, instruments, weapons and armor. Ships could carry about 300 people. Navigation was by simple charts that included wind direction for different seasons and the direction of north. The direction of the ship could be generally determined when the sky was clear by the position of the sun during the day or the north star during the night. Plays about miracles wrought by holy men or saints or the sufferings and fortitude of martyrs were performed, usually at the great church festivals. Most nobles could read, though writing was still a specialized craft. There were books on animals, plants, and stones. The lives of the saints as told in the book "The Golden Legend" were popular. The story of the early King Arthur was told in the book "The History of the Kings of England". The story at this time stressed Arthur as a hero and went as follows: Arthur became king at age 15. He had an inborn goodness and generosity as well as courage. He and his knights won battles against foreign settlers and neighboring clans. Once, he and his men surrounded a camp of foreigners until they gave up their gold and silver rather than starve. Arthur married Guenevere and established a court and retinue. Leaving Britain in the charge of his nephew Modred, he fought battles on the continent for land to give to his noblemen who did him service in his household and fought with him. When Arthur returned to Britain, he made battle with his nephew Modred who had crowned himself King. Arthur's knight Gawain, the son of his sister, and the enemy Modred were killed and Arthur was severely wounded. Arthur told his kinsman Constantine to rule Britain as king in his place. The intellectual world included art, secular literature, law, and medicine. There were about 90 physicians. The center of government was a collection of tenants-in-chief, whose feudal duty included attendance when summoned, and certain selected household servants of the King. The Exchequer became a separate body. The payments in kind, such as grain or manual services, from the royal demesnes had been turned into money payments. The great barons made their payments directly to the Exchequer. The income from royal estates was received by the Exchequer and then commingled with the other funds. Each payment was indicated by notches on a stick, which was then split so that the payer and the receiver each had a half showing the notches. The Exchequer was the great school for training statesmen, justices, and bishops. The Chancellor managed the domestic matters of the Crown's castles and lands. The great offices of state were sold for thousands of pounds, which caused their holders to be on their best behavior for fear of losing their money by being discharged from office. One chancellor paid Henry about 3000 pounds for the office. Henry brought sheriffs under his strict control, free from influence by the barons. He maintained order with a strong hand, but was no more severe than his security demanded. Forests were still retained by Kings for their hunting of boars and stags. A master-forester maintained them. The boundaries of the Royal Forests were enlarged. They comprised almost one-third of the kingdom. Certain inhabitants thereof supplied the royal foresters with meat and drink and received certain easements and rights of common therein. The forest law reached the extreme of severity and cruelty under Henry I. Punishments given included blinding, emasculation, and execution. Offenders were rarely allowed to substitute a money payment. When fines were imposed they were heavy. A substantial number of barons and monasteries were heavily in debt to the Jews. The interest rate was 43% (2d. per pound per week). The king taxed the Jews at will.
- The Law - Henry restored the death penalty (by hanging) for theft and robbery, but maintained William I's punishment of mutilation by blinding and severing of limbs for other offenses, for example, bad money. He decreed in 1108 that false and bad money should be amended, so that he who was caught passing bad denarii should not escape by redeeming himself but should lose his eyes and members. And since denarii were often picked out, bent, broken, and refused, he decreed that no denarius or obol, which he said were to be round, or even a quadrans, if it were whole, should be refused. (Money then reached a higher level of perfection, which was maintained for the next century.) The forest law stated that: "he that doth hunt a wild beast and doth make him pant, shall pay 10 shillings: If he be a freeman, then he shall pay double. If he be a bound man, he shall lose his skin." A "verderer" was responsible for enforcing this law, which also stated that: "If anyone does offer force to a Verderer, if he be a freeman, he shall lose his freedom, and all that he hath. And if he be a villein, he shall lose his right hand." Further, "If such an offender does offend so again, he shall lose his life." A wife's dower is one-third of all her husband's freehold land, unless his endowment of her at their marriage was less than one- third. Counterfeiting law required that "If any one be caught carrying false coin, the reeve shall give the bad money to the King however much there is, and it shall be charged in the render of his farm [payment] as good, and the body of the offender shall be handed over to the King for judgment, and the serjeants who took him shall have his clothes." Debts to townsmen were recoverable by this law: "If a burgess has a gage [a valuable object held as security for carrying out an agreement] for money lent and holds this for a whole year and a day, and the debtor will not deny the debt or deliver the gage, and this is proved, the burgess may sell the gage before good witnesses for as much as he can, and deduct his money from the sum. If any money is over he shall return it to the debtor. But if there is not enough to pay him, he shall take distress again for the amount that is lacking." Past due rent in a borough was punishable by payment of 10s. as fine. Judicial activity encouraged the recording of royal legislation in writing which both looked to the past and attempted to set down law current in Henry's own day. The "Liberi Quadripartitus" aimed to include all English law of the time. This showed an awareness of the ideal of written law as a statement of judicial principles as well as of the practice of kingship. In this way, concepts of Roman law used by the Normans found their way into English law. Church law provided that only consent between a man and woman was necessary for marriage. There needn't be witnesses, ceremony, nor consummation. Consent could not be coerced. Penalties in marriage agreements for not going through with the marriage were deemed invalid. Villeins and slaves could marry without their lords' or owners' permission. A couple living together could be deemed married. Persons related by blood within certain degrees, which changed over time, of consanguinity were forbidden to marry. This was the only ground for annulment of a marriage. A legal separation could be given for adultery, cruelty, or heresy. Annulment, but not separation, could result in remarriage. Fathers were usually ordered to provide some sustenance and support for their illegitimate children. The court punished infanticide and abortion. Counterfeiters of money, arsonists, and robbers of pilgrims and merchants were to be excommunicated. Church sanctuary was to be given to fugitives of violent feuds until they could be given a fair trial.
- Judicial Procedure - Courts extant now are the Royal Court, the King's Court of the Exchequer, county courts, and hundred courts, which were under the control of the King. His appointed justices administered justice in these courts on regular circuits. The sheriff now only produced the proper people and preserved order at the county courts and presided over the nonroyal pleas and hundred courts. He empaneled recognitors, made arrests, and enforced the decisions of the royal courts. Also there are manor courts, borough courts, and ecclesiastical courts. In the manor courts, the lord's reeve generally presided. The court consisted of the lord's vassals and declared the customs and law concerning such offenses as failure to perform services and trespass on manorial woods, meadow, and pasture. The King's Royal Court heard issues concerning the Crown and breaches of the King's peace, which included almost all criminal matters. The most serious offenses: murder, robbery, rape, abduction, arson, treason, and breach of fealty, were now called felonies. Other offenses were: housebreaking, ambush, certain kinds of theft, premeditated assault, and harboring outlaws or excommunicants. Henry personally presided over hearings of important legal cases. He punished crime severely. Offenders were brought to justice not only by the complaint of an individual or local community action, but by official prosecutors. A prosecutor was now at trials as well as a justice. Trial is still by compurgation. Trial by combat was relatively common. These offenses against the king placed merely personal property and sometimes land at the king's mercy. Thus the Crown increased the range of offenses subject to its jurisdiction and arrogated to itself profits from the penalties imposed. A murderer could be given royal pardon from the death penalty so that he could pay compensation to the relatives. The Royal Court also heard these offenses against the king: fighting in his dwelling, contempt of his writs or commands, encompassing the death or injury of his servants, contempt or slander of the King, and violation of his protection or his law. It heard these offenses against royal authority: complaints of default of justice or unjust judgment, pleas of shipwrecks, coinage, treasure-trove [money buried when danger approached], forest prerogatives, and control of castle building. Slander of the king, the government, or high officials was punishable as treason, felony, misprison of treason, or contempt, depending on the rank and office of the person slandered and the degree of guilt. Henry began the use of writs to intervene in civil matters, such as inquiry by oath and recogniton of rights as to land, the obligations of tenure, the legitimacy of heirs, and the enforcement of local justice. The Crown used its superior coercive power to enforce the legal decisions of other courts. These writs allowed people to come to the Royal Court on certain issues. There was a vigorous interventionism in the land law subsequent to appeals to the king in landlord-tenant relations, brought by a lord or by an undertenant. Assizes [those who sit together] of local people who knew relevant facts were put together to assist the court. Henry appointed some locally based justices, called justiciars. Also, he sent justices out on eyres [journeys] to hold assizes. This was done at special sessions of the county courts, hundred courts, and manor courts. Records of the verdicts of the Royal Court were sent with these itinerant justices for use as precedent in these courts. Thus royal authority was brought into the localities and served to check baronial power over the common people. These itinerant justices also transacted the local business of the Exchequer in each county. Henry created the office of chief justiciar, which carried out judicial and administrative functions. The Royal Court retained cases of gaol delivery [arrested person who had been held in gaol was delivered to the court] and amercements. It also decided cases in which the powers of the popular courts had been exhausted or had failed to do justice. The Royal Court also decided land disputes between barons who were too strong to submit to the county courts. The King's Court of the Exchequer reviewed the accounts of sheriffs, including receipts and expenditures on the Crown's behalf as well as sums due to the Treasury, located still at Winchester. These sums included rent from royal estates, the Danegeld land tax, the fines from local courts, and aid from baronial estates. Its records were the "Pipe Rolls", so named because sheets of parchment were fastened at the top, each of which dropped into a roll at the bottom and so assumed the shape of a pipe. The county and hundred courts assessed the personal property of individuals and their taxes due to the King. The county court decided land disputes between people who had different barons as their respective lords. The free landholders were expected to attend county, hundred, and manor courts. They owed "suit" to it. The suitors found the dooms [laws] by which the presiding officer pronounced the sentence. The county courts heard cases of theft, brawling, beating, and wounding, for which the penalties could be exposure in the pillory or stocks. The pillory held an offender's head and hands in holes in boards, and the stocks held one's hands and feet. Here the public could scorn and hit the offender or throw fruit, mud, and dead cats at him. For sex offenders and informers, stones were usually thrown. Sometimes a person was stoned to death. The county courts met twice yearly. If an accused failed to appear after four successive county courts, he was declared outlaw at the fifth and forfeited his civil rights and all his property. He could be slain by anyone at will. The hundred court met once a month to hear neighborhood disputes, for instance concerning pastures, meadows and harvests. Usually present was a priest, the reeve, four representative men, and sometimes the lord or his steward in his place. Sometimes the chief pledges were present to represent all the men in their respective frankpledges. The bailiff presided over all these sessions except two, in which the sheriff presided over the full hundred court to take the view of frankpledge, which was required for those who did not have a lord to answer for him. The barons held court on their manors at a "hall-mote" for issues arising between people living on the manor, such as bad ploughing on the lord's land or letting a cow get loose on the lord's land, and land disputes. This court also made the decision of whether a certain person was a villein or freeman. The manor court took over issues which had once been heard in the vill or hundred court. The baron charged a fee for hearing a case and received any fines he imposed, which amounted to significant "profits of justice". Boroughs held court on trading and marketing issues in their towns such as measures and weights, as well as issues between people who lived in the borough. The borough court was presided over by a reeve who was a burgess as well as a royal official. Wealthy men could employ professional pleader-attorneys to advise them and to speak for them in a court. The ecclesiastical courts dealt, until the time of Henry VIII, with family matters such as marriage, annulments, marriage portions, legitimacy, undue wife-beating, child abuse, orphans, bigamy, adultery, incest, fornication, personal possessions, defamation, slander which did not cause material loss (and therefore had no remedy in the temporal courts), libel, perjury, usury, mortuaries, sacrilege, blasphemy, heresy, tithe payments, church fees, certain offences on consecrated ground, and breaches of promises under oath, e.g. to pay a debt, provide services, or deliver goods. They decided inheritance and will issues which did not concern land, but only personal property. This developed from the practice of a priest usually hearing a dying person's will as to the disposition of his goods and chattel when he made his last confession. It provided guardianship of infants during probate of their personal property. Trial was basically by compurgation, with oath-helpers swearing to or against the veracity of the alleged offender's oath. An alleged offender could be required to answer questions under oath, thus giving evidence against himself. The ecclesiastical court's penalties were intended to reform and determined on a case-by-case basis. The canon law of Christendom was followed, without much change by the English church or nation. Penalties could include confession and public repentance of the sin before the parish, making apologies and reparation to persons affected, public embarrassment such as being dunked in water (e.g. for women scolds), walking a route barefoot and clad only in one's underwear, whippings, extra work, fines, and imprisonment in a "penitentiary" to do penance. The ultimate punishment was excommunication with social ostracism. Then no one could give the person drink, food, or shelter and he could speak only to his spouse and servants. Excommunication included denial of the sacraments of baptism, penance, mass, and extreme unction [prayers for spiritual healing] at death; which were necessary for salvation of the soul; and the sacrament of confirmation of one's belief in the tenets of Christianity. A person could also be denied a Christian burial in consecrated ground. However, the person could still marry and make a will. The king's court could order a recalcitrant excommunicant imprisoned until he satisfied the claims of the church. Excommunication was usually imposed for failure to obey an order or showing contempt of the law or of the courts. It required a hearing and a written reason. If this measure failed, it was possible to turn the offender over to the state for punishment, e.g. for blasphemy or heresy. Blasphemy [speaking ill of God] was thought to cause God's wrath expressed in famine, pestilence, and earthquake and was usually punished by a fine or corporal punishment, e.g. perforation or amputation of the tongue. It was tacitly understood that the punishment for heresy was death by burning. There were no heresy cases up to 1400 and few after that. The state usually assured itself the sentence was just before imposing it. The court of the rural dean was the ecclesiastical parallel of the hundred court of secular jurisdiction and usually had the same land boundaries. The archdeacons, who had been ministers of the bishop in all parts of his diocese alike, were now each assigned to one district, which usually had the same boundaries as the county. Henry acknowledged occasional appellate authority of the pope, but expected his clergy to elect bishops of his choice. There was a separate judicial system for the laws of the forest. There were itinerant justices of the forests and four verderers of each forest county, who were elected by the votes of the full county court, twelve knights appointed to keep vert [everything bearing green leaves] and venison, and foresters of the king and of the lords who had lands within the limits of the forests. Every three years, the officers visited the forests in preparation for the courts of the forest held by the itinerant justices. The inferior courts were the wood-mote, held every forty days, and the swein [freeman or freeholder within the forest]-mote, held three times yearly before the verderers as justices, in which all who were obliged to attend as suitors of the county court to serve on juries and inquests were to be present.