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´╗┐Title: Our Legal Heritage: The First Thousand Years: 600 - 1600
 - King Aethelbert - Queen Elizabeth
Author: Reilly, S. A.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Our Legal Heritage: The First Thousand Years: 600 - 1600
 - King Aethelbert - Queen Elizabeth" ***

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The first thousand years: 600 - 1600
King AEthelbert - Queen Elizabeth

2nd Edition


S. A. Reilly, Attorney
175 E. Delaware Place
Chicago, Illinois 60611-1724



This was written to see what laws have been in existence for a
long time and therefore have proven their success in maintaining
a stable society. It's purpose is also to see the historical
context in which our legal doctrines were derived. It looks at
the inception of the common law system, the origin of the jury
system, the meaning in context of the Magna Carta provisions, the
emergence of attorneys, and the formation of probate law from
church origins.

This book is a primer. One may read it without prior knowledge in
history or law, although it will be more meaningful to lawyers
than to non-lawyers. Since it defines terms unique to English
legal history, it may serve as a good introduction on which to
base further reading in English legal history. The meaning of
some terms in King Aethelbert's code in Chapter 1 are unknown or

The chapters are sequential. The title of each chapter in the
Table of Contents includes the time period covered. The title of
each chapter denotes an important legal development of that time

Each chapter is divided into three sections: The Times, The Law,
and Judicial Procedure. The law section is the central section.
It describes the law governing the behavior and conduct of the
populace. It includes law of that time by which people lived
which is the same, similar, or a building block to the law of
today. In earlier times this is both statutory law and the common
law of the court. The Magna Carta, which is quoted in Chapter 7,
is the first statute of the Statutes at Large. The law sections
of Chapter 7 - 13 mainly quote or paraphrase most of these
statutes or the Statutes of the Realm. Excluded are statutes
which do not help us understand the development of our law, such
as statutes governing Wales after its conquest and statutes on
succession rights to the throne.

The first section of each chapter: The Times, sets a background
and context in which to better understand the laws. The usual
subject matter of history such as battles, famines, periods of
corruption, and international relations are omitted as not
helping to understand the process of civilization and development
of the law in the nation of England.

The last section of each chapter: Judicial Procedure, describes
the process of applying the law and trying cases for the
relevant time period. It also contains some examples of cases.

For clarity and easy comparison, amounts of money expressed in
pounds or marks have been converted to the smaller denominations
of shillings and pence. There are twenty shillings in a pound. A
mark in silver is two thirds of a pound.

The sources and reference books from which information was
obtained are listed in the bibliography instead of being
contained in tedious footnotes.


A Vassar College faculty member once dedicated her book to her
students, but for whom it would have been written much earlier.
This book "Our Legal Heritage" is dedicated to the faculty of
Vassar College, without whom it would never have been written.

Table of Contents


1. Tort law as the first written law: to 600

2. Oaths and perjury: 600-900

3. Marriage law: 900-1066

4. Martial "law": 1066-1100

5. Criminal law and prosecution: 1100-1154

6. Common Law for all freemen: 1154-1215

7. Magna Carta: the first statute: 1215-1272

8. Land law: 1272-1348

9. Legislating the economy: 1348-1399

10. Equity from Chancery Court: 1400-1485

11. Use-trust of land: 1485-1509

12. Wills and testaments of lands and goods: 1509-1558.

13. Consideration and contract Law: 1558-1604

14. Epilogue: from 1604

Appendix: Sovereigns of England


Chapter 1

The Times: before 600

Clans, headed by Kings, lived in huts on top of hills or other
high places and fortified by circular or rectangular earth
ditches and banks behind which they could gather with their
herds for protection. At the entrances were several openings
only one of which really allowed entry. The others went between
banks into dead ends and served as traps in which to kill the
enemy from above. Concentric circles of ditches around these
fortified camps could reach to 14 acres. The people lived in
circular huts with wood posts in a circle supporting a roof. The
walls were made of saplings, and a mixture of mud and straw.
Sometimes there were stalls for cattle. Cooking was in a clay
oven inside or over an open fire on the outside. Forests
abounded with wolves, bears, wild boars, and wild cattle.

People wore animal skins over their bodies for warmth and around
their feet for protection when walking. They carried small items
by hooking them onto their belts.

Pathways extended through this camp of huts and for many miles
beyond. They were used for trade and transport with pack horses.

Men bought or captured women for wives and carried them over the
thresholds of their huts. The first month of marriage was called
the honeymoon because the couple was given mead, a drink with
fermented honey and herbs, for the first month of their
marriage. A wife wore a gold wedding band on the ring finger of
her left hand to show that she was married. Women wore other
jewelry too, which indicated their social rank.

Women usually stayed at home caring for children, preparing
meals, and making baskets. They also made wool felt and spun and
wove wool into cloth. Flax was grown and woven into linen cloth.
The weaving was done on an upright or warp- weighted loom. People
draped the cloth around their bodies and fastened it with a
metal brooch inlayed with gold, gems, glass, and shell, which
were glued on with glue that was obtained from melting animal
hooves. They also had amber beads and pendants. They could tie
things with rawhide strips or rope braids they made. They cut
things with flint dug up from pits. On the coast, they made bone
harpoons for deep sea fish.

The King, who was tall and strong, led his men in hunting groups
to kill deer and other wild animals in the forests and to fish
in the streams. Some men brought their hunting dogs on leashes
to follow scent trails to the animal. The men attacked the
animals with spears and threw stones. They used shields to
protect their bodies. They watched the phases of the moon and
learned to predict when it would be full and give the most light
for night hunting. This began the concept of a month.

If hunting groups from two clans tried to follow the same deer,
there might be a fight between the clans or a blood feud. After
the battle, the clan would bring back its dead and wounded. A
priest officiated over a funeral for a dead man. His wife would
often also go on the funeral pyre with him. Memorial burial
mounds would be erected over the corpses or cremated ashes of
their great men. Later, these ashes were first placed in urns
before burial in a mound of earth or the corpses were buried
with a few personal items.

The priest also officiated over sacrifices of humans, who were
usually offenders found guilty of transgressions. Sacrifices
were usually made in time of war or pestilence, and usually
before the winter made food scarce, at Halloween time. Humans
were sometimes eaten.

The clan ate deer that had been cooked on a spit over a fire, and
fruits and vegetables which had been gathered by the women. They
drank water from springs. In the spring, food was plentiful.
There were eggs of different colors in nests and many rabbits to
eat. The goddess Easter was celebrated at this time.

After this hunting and gathering era, there was farming and
domestication of animals such as horses, pigs, sheep, goats,
chicken, and cattle. Of these, the pig was the most important
meat supply, being killed and salted for winter use. Next in
importance were the cattle. Sheep were kept primarily for their
wool. Flocks and herds were taken to pastures. The male cattle,
with wood yokes, pulled ploughs in the fields of barley and
wheat. The female goat and cow provided milk, butter, and
cheese. The chickens provided eggs. The hoe, spade, and grinding
stone were used. Cloth was woven for clothes. Pottery was made
from clay and used for food preparation and consumption. During
the period of "lent" [from the word "lencten", which means
spring], it was forbidden to eat any meat or fish. This was the
season in which many animals were born and grew a lot. The
people also made boats.

Circles of big stones like Stonehenge were built so that the
sun's position with respect to the stones would indicate the day
of longest sunlight and the day of shortest sunlight. Between
these days there was an optimum time to harvest the crops before
fall, when plants dried up and leaves fell from the trees. The
winter solstice, when the days began to get longer was cause for
celebration. In the next season, there was an optimum time to
plant seeds so they could spring up from the ground as new
growth. So farming gave rise to the concept of a year. Certain
changes of the year were celebrated, such as Easter; the twelve
days of Yuletide when candles were lit and houses decorated with
evergreen; Plough Monday for resumption of work after Yuletide;
May Day when greenery was gathered from the woods and people
danced around a May pole; Whitsun when Morris dancers leapt
through their villages with bells, hobby-horses, and waving
scarves; Lammas when the first bread was celebrated; and Harvest
Home when the effigy of a goddess was carried with reapers
singing and piping behind.

There were settlements on high ground and near rivers. Each
settlement had a meadow, for the mowing of hay, and a mill, with
wooden huts, covered with branches or thatch, of families
clustered nearby. Grain was stored in pits in the earth. Each
hut had a garden for fruit and vegetables. A goat or cow might
be tied out of reach of the garden. There was a fence or hedge
surrounding and protecting the garden area and dwelling. Outside
the fence were an acre or two of fields of wheat and barley, and
sometimes oats and rye. Wheat and rye were sown in the fall, and
oats and barley in the spring. They were all harvested in the
summer. These fields were usually enclosed with a hedge to keep
animals from eating the crop. Flax was grown and made into linen
cloth. Beyond the fields were pastures for cattle and sheep
grazing. There was often an area for beehives.

Crops were produced with the open field system. In this system,
there were three large fields for the heavy and fertile land.
Each field was divided into long and narrow strips. Each strip
represented a day's work with the plough. One field had wheat,
or perhaps rye, another had barley, oats, beans, or peas, and
the third was fallow. These were rotated yearly. Each free man
was allotted certain strips in each field to bear crops. His
strips were far from each other, which insured some very fertile
and some only fair soil, and some land near his village dwelling
and some far away. These strips he cultivated, sowed with seed,
and harvested for himself and his family. After the year, they
reverted to common ownership for grazing.

The plough used was heavy and made first of wood and later of
iron. It had a mould-board which caught the soil stirred by the
plough blade and threw it into a ridge. Other farm implements
were: coulters, which gave free passage to the plough by cutting
weeds and turf, picks, spades and shovels, reaping hooks and
scythes, and sledge-hammers and anvils. With iron axes, forests
were cleared to provide more arable land.

The use of this open field system instead of compact enclosures
worked by individuals was necessary in primitive communities
which were farming only for their own subsistence. Each ox was
owned by a different man as was the plough. Strips of land for
agriculture were added from waste land as the community grew.

There were villages which had one or two market days in each
week. Cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, calves, and rabbits were
sold there.

Flint workers mined with deer antler picks and ox shoulder blade
shovels for flint to grind into axes, spearheads, and
arrowheads. People used bone and stone tools, such as stone
hammers, and then bronze and iron tools, weapons, breast plates,
and horse bits, which were formed from moulds and/or forged by
bronze smiths and blacksmiths. Weapons included bows and arrows,
flint and copper daggers, stone axes, and shields of wood with
bronze mountings. The warriors fought with chariots drawn by two
horses. The horse harnesses had bronze fittings. The chariots
had wood wheels, later with iron rims. When bronze came into
use, there was a demand for its constituent parts: copper and
tin, which were traded by rafts on waterways and the sea. Lead
was mined. Wrought iroin bars were used as currency.

Corpses were buried far away from any village in wood coffins,
except for Kings, who were placed in stone coffins after being
wrapped in linen. Possessions were buried with them.

With the ability to grow food and the acquisition of land by
conquest, for instance by invading Angles and Saxons, the
population grew. There were different classes of men such as
eorls, ceorls [free farmers], and slaves. They dressed
differently. Freemen had long hair and beards. Slaves' hair was
shorn from their heads so that they were bald. Slaves were
chained and often traded. Prisoners taken in battle, e.g.
Britons, became slaves. Criminals became slaves of the person
wronged or of the King. Sometimes a father pressed by need sold
his children or his wife into bondage. Debtors, who increased in
number during famine, which occurred regularly, became slaves by
giving up the freeman's sword and spear, picking up a slave's
mattock [pick ax for the soils], and placing their head within a
master's hands. Children with a slave parent were slaves. The
slaves lived in huts around the homes of big landholders, which
were made of logs and consisted on one large room or hall. An
open hearth was in the middle of the earthen floor, which was
strewn with rushes. There was a hole in the roof to let out the
smoke. Here the landholder and his men would eat meat, bread,
salt, hot spiced ale, and mead while listening to minstrels sing
about the heroic deeds of their ancestors. Physical strength and
endurance in adversity were admired traits. Slaves often were
used as grain-grinders, ploughmen, sowers, haywards, woodwards,
shepherds, goatherds, swineherds, oxherds, cowherds, dairymaids,
and barnmen. A lord could kill his slave at will.

The people were worshipping pagan gods when St. Augustine came to
England in 596 A.D. to Christianize them. King AEthelbert of
Kent and his wife, who had been raised Christian on the
continent, met him when he arrived. The King gave him land where
there were ruins of an old city. Augustine used stones from the
ruins to build a church which was later called Canterbury. He
also built the first St. Paul's church in what was later called
London. Aethelbert and his men who fought with him and ate in
his household [gesiths] became Christian.

Augustine knew how to write, but King AEthelbert did not. The
King announced his laws at meetings of his people and his eorls
would decide the punishments. There was a fine of 120s. for
disregarding a command of the King. He and Augustine decided to
write down some of these laws, which now included the King's new
law concerning the church.

These laws concern personal injury, murder, theft, burglary,
marriage, adultery, and inheritance. The blood feud's private
revenge for killing had been replaced by payment of compensation
to the dead man's kindred. One paid a man's "wergeld" [worth] to
his kindred for causing his wrongful death. The wergeld [wer] of
an aetheling was 1500s., of an eorl, 300s., of a ceorl, 100s.,
of a laet [agricultural serf in Kent], 40-80s., and of a slave
nothing. At this time a shilling could buy a cow in Kent or a
sheep elsewhere. If a ceorl killed an eorl, he paid three times
as much as an eorl would have paid as murderer. The penalty for
slander was tearing out of the tongue. If an aetheling were
guilty of this offense, his tongue was worth five times that of
a coerl, so he had to pay proportionately more to ransom it.

The Law


1. [Theft of] the property of God and of the church [shall be
compensated], twelve-fold; a bishop's property, eleven-fold; a
priest's property, nine-fold; a deacon's property, six-fold; a
cleric's property, three-fold; church-frith [breach of the peace
of the church; right of sanctuary and protection given to those
within its precincts], two-fold [that of ordinary breach of the
peace]; m....frith [breach of the peace of a meeting place],

2. If the King calls his leod to him, and any one there do them
evil, [let him compensate with] a two-fold bot [damages for the
injury], and 50 shillings to the King.

3. If the King drink at any one's home, and any one there do any
lyswe [evil deed], let him make two-fold bot.

4. If a freeman steal from the King, let him repay nine-fold.

5. If a man slay another in the King's tun [enclosed premises],
let him make bot with 50 shillings.

6. If any one slay a freeman, 50 shillings to the King, as

7. If the King's ambiht-smith [smith or carpenter] or laad-rine
[man who walks before the King or guide or escort], slay a man,
let him pay a half leod-geld.

8. [Offenses against anyone or anyplace under] the King's
mund-byrd [protection], 50 shillings.

9. If a freeman steal from a freeman, let him make threefold bot;
and let the King have the wite [fine] and all the chattels
[necessary to pay the fine].

10. If a man lie with the King's maiden [female servant], let him
pay a bot of 50 shillings.

11. If she be a grinding slave, let him pay a bot of 25
shillings. The third [class of servant] 12 shillings.

12. Let the King's fed-esl [woman who serves him food or nurse]
be paid for with 20 shillings.

13. If a man slay another in an eorl's tun [premises], let [him]
make bot with 12 shillings.

14. If a man lie with an eorl's birele [female cup-bearer], let
him make bot with 12 shillings.

15. [Offenses against a person or place under] a ceorl's
mund-byrd [protection], 6 shillings.

16. If a man lie with a ceorl's birele [female cup-bearer], let
him make bot with 6 shillings; with a slave of the second
[class], 50 scaetts [a denomination less than a shilling]; with
one of the third, 30 scaetts.

17. If any one be the first to invade a man's tun [premises], let
him make bot with 6 shillings; let him who follows, with 3
shillings; after, each, a shilling.

18. If a man furnish weapons to another where there is a quarrel,
though no injury results, let him make bot with 6 shillings.

19. If a weg-reaf [highway robbery] be done [with weapons
furnished by another], let him [the man who provided the
weapons] make bot with 6 shillings.

20. If the man be slain, let him [the man who provided the
weapons] make bot with 20 shillings.

21. If a [free] man slay another, let him make bot with a half
leod-geld of 100 shillings.

22. If a man slay another, at the open grave let him pay 20
shillings, and pay the whole leod within 40 days.

23. If the slayer departs from the land, let his kindred pay a
half leod.

24. If any one bind a freeman, let him make bot with 20

25. If any one slay a ceorl's hlaf-aeta [bread-eater; domestic or
menial servant], let him make bot with 6 shillings.

26. If [anyone] slay a laet of the highest class, let him pay 80
shillings; of the second class, let him pay 60 shillings; of the
third class, let him pay 40 shillings.

27. If a freeman commit edor-breach [breaking through the fenced
enclosure and forcibly entering a ceorl's dwelling], let him
make bot with 6 shillings.

28. If any one take property from a dwelling, let him pay a
three-fold bot.

29. If a freeman goes with hostile intent through an edor [the
fence enclosing a dwelling], let him make bot with 4 shillings.

30. If [in so doing] a man slay another, let him pay with his own
money, and with any sound property whatever.

31. If a freeman lie with a freeman's wife, let him pay for it
with his wer- geld, and obtain another wife with his own money,
and bring her to the other [man's dwelling].

32. If any one thrusts through the riht [true] ham-scyld, let him
adequately compensate.

33. If there be feax-fang [taking hold of someone by the hair],
let there be 50 sceatts for bot.

34. If there be an exposure of the bone, let bot be made with 3

35. If there be an injury to the bone, let bot be made with 4

36. If the outer hion [outer membrane covering the brain] be
broken, let bot be made with 10 shillings.

37. If it be both [outer and inner membranes covering the brain],
let bot be made with 20 shillings.

38. If a shoulder be lamed, let bot be made with 30 shillings.

39. If an ear be struck off, let bot be made with 12 shillings.

40. If the other ear hear not, let bot be made with 25 shillings.

41. If an ear be pierced, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

42. If an ear be mutilated, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

43. If an eye be [struck] out, let bot be made with 50 shillings.

44. If the mouth or an eye be injured, let bot be made with 12

45. If the nose be pierced, let bot be made with 9 shillings.

46. If it be one ala, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

47. If both be pierced, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

48. If the nose be otherwise mutilated, for each [cut, let] bot
be made with 6 shillings.

49. If it be pierced, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

50. Let him who breaks the jaw-bone pay for it with 20 shillings.

51. For each of the four front teeth, 6 shillings; for the tooth
which stands next to them 4 shillings; for that which stands
next to that, 3 shillings; and then afterwards, for each a

52. If the speech be injured, 12 shillings. If the collar-bone be
broken, let bot be made with 6 shillings.

53. Let him who stabs [another] through an arm, make bot with 6
shillings. If an arm be broken, let him make bot with 6

54. If a thumb be struck off, 20 shillings. If a thumb nail be
off, let bot be made with 3 shillings. If the shooting [fore]
finger be struck off, let bot be made with 8 shillings. If the
middle finger be struck off, let bot be made with 4 shillings.
If the gold [ring]finger be struck off, let bot be made with 6
shillings. If the little finger be struck off, let bot be made
with 11 shillings.

55. For every nail, a shilling.

56. For the smallest disfigurement of the face, 3 shillings; and
for the greater, 6 shillings.

57. If any one strike another with his fist on the nose, 3

58. If there be a bruise [on the nose], a shilling; if he receive
a right hand bruise [from protecting his face with his arm], let
him [the striker] pay a shilling.

59. If the bruise [on the arm] be black in a part not covered by
the clothes, let bot be made with 30 scaetts.

60. If it be covered by the clothes, let bot for each be made
with 20 scaetts.

61. If the belly be wounded, let bot be made with 12 shillings;
if it be pierced through, let bot be made with 20 shillings.

62. If any one be gegemed, let bot be made with 30 shillings.

63. If any one be cear-wund, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

64. If any one destroy [another's] organ of generation [penis],
let him pay him with 3 leud-gelds: if he pierce it through, let
him make bot with 6 shillings; if it be pierced within, let him
make bot with 6 shillings.

65. If a thigh be broken, let bot be made with 12 shillings; if
the man become halt [lame], then friends must arbitrate.

66. If a rib be broken, let bot be made with 3 shillings.

67. If [the skin of] a thigh be pierced through, for each stab 6
shillings; if [the wound be] above an inch [deep], a shilling;
for two inches, 2; above three, 3 shillings.

68. If a sinew be wounded. let bot be made with 3 shillings.

69. If a foot be cut off, let 50 shillings be paid.

70. If a great toe be cut off, let 10 shillings be paid.

71. For each of the other toes, let one half that for the
corresponding finger be paid.

72. If the nail of a great toe be cut off, 30 scaetts for bot;
for each of the others, make bot with 10 scaetts.

73. If a freewoman loc-bore [with long hair] commit any leswe
[evil deed], let her make a bot of 30 shillings.

74. Let maiden-bot [compensation for injury to an unmarried
woman] be as that of a freeman.

75. For [breach of] the mund [protection] of a widow of the best
class, of an eorl's degree, let the bot be 50 shillings; of the
second, 20 shillings; of the third, 12 shillings; of the fourth,
6 shillings. [Mund was a sum paid to the family of the bride for
transferring the rightful protection they possessed over her to
the family of the husband. If the husband died and his kindred
did not accept the terms sanctioned by law, her kindred could
repurchase the rightful protection.]

76. If a man carry off a widow not under his own protection by
right, let the mund be twofold.

77. If a man buy a maiden with cattle, let the bargain stand, if
it be without fraud; but if there be fraud, let him bring her
home again, and let his property be restored to him.

78. If she bear a live child, she shall have half the property,
if the husband die first.

79. If she wish to go away with her children, she shall have half
the property.

80. If the husband wish to keep them [the children], [she shall
have the same portion] as one child.

81. If she bear no child, her paternal kindred shall have the
fioh [her goods]and the morgen-gyfe [morning gift; a gift make
to the bride by her husband on the morning following the
consummation of the marriage].

82. If a man carry off a maiden by force, let him pay 50
shillings to the owner, and afterwards buy [the object of] his
will from the owner.

83. If she be betrothed to another man in money [at a bride
price], let him [who carried her off] make bot with 20

84. If she become gaengang, 35 shillings; and 15 shillings to the

85. If a man lie with an esne's wife, her husband still living,
let him make twofold bot.

86. If one esne slay another unoffending, let him pay for him at
his full worth.

87. If an esne's eye and foot be struck out or off, let him be
paid for at his full worth.

88. If any one bind another man's esne, let him make bot with 6

89. Let [compensation for] weg-reaf [highway robbery] of a theow
[slave] be 3 shillings.

90. If a theow [a type of slave] steal, let him make twofold bot
[twice the value of the stolen goods]. "

Judicial Procedure

If a man did something wrong, his case would be heard by the King
and his freemen. His punishment would be given to him by the

There were occasional meetings of "hundreds", which were probably
a hundred hides of land or a hundred extended families, to
settle wide-spread disputes.

Chapter 2

The Times: 600-900

A community was usually an extended family. It's members lived in
villages in which a stone church was the most prominent
building. They lived in one-room huts with walls and roofs made
of wood, mud, and straw. Hangings covered the cracks in the
walls to keep the wind out. Smoke from a fire in the middle of
the room filtered out of cracks in the roof. Grain was ground at
home by rotating by hand one stone disk on another stone disk.
Some villages had a mill powered by the flow of water or by

Farmland surrounded the villages and was farmed by the community
as a whole under the direction of a lord. There was silver,
copper, iron, tin, gold, and various types of stones from remote
lead mines and quarries in the nation. Silver pennies replaced
the smaller scaetts. Freemen paid "scot and lot" according to
their means.

Everyone in the village went to church on Sunday and brought
gifts such as grain to the priest. Later, contributions in the
form of money became customary, and then expected. They were
called "tithes" and were spent for church repair, the clergy,
and poor and needy laborers. The parish of the priest was
coextensive with the holding of one landlord and was his
chaplain. The priest and other men who helped him, lived in the
church building. Some churches had lead roofs and iron hinges,
latches, and locks on their doors. The land underneath had been
given to the church by former Kings and persons who wanted the
church to say prayers to help their souls go from purgatory to
heaven and who also selected the first priest. The priest
conducted Christianized Easter ceremonies in the spring and
Christmas (Christ's mass) ceremonies in winter in place of the
pagan Yuletide festivities. Incense took the place of pagan
burnt offerings, holy water of haunted wells and streams, and
Christian incantations of sorcerer's spells.

The church baptized babies and officiated at marriage ceremonies.
It also said prayers for the dying, gave them funerals, and
buried them. There were burial service fees, candle dues, and
plough alms. A piece of stone with the dead person's name marked
his grave. It was thought that putting the name on the grave
would assist identification of that person for being taken to
heaven. The church heard the last wish or will of the person
dying concerning who he wanted to have his property.

Every man carried a horn slung on his shoulder as he went about
his work so that he could at once send out a warning to his
fellow villagers or call them in chasing a thief or other
offender. The forests were full of outlaws, so strangers who did
not blow a horn to announce themselves were presumed to be
fugitive offenders who could be shot on sight. An eorl could call
upon the ceorl farmers for about forty days to fight off an
invading group.

The houses of the wealthy had ornamented silk hangings on the
walls. Brightly colored drapery, often purple, and fly-nets
surrounded their beds, which were covered with the fur of
animals. They slept in bed-clothes on pillows stuffed with
straw. Tables plated with silver and gems held silver
candlesticks, gold and silver goblets and cups, and lamps of
gold, silver, or glass. They used silver mirrors and silver
writing pens. There were covered seats, benches, and footstools
with the head and feet of animals at their extremities. They ate
from a table covered with a cloth. Servants brought in food on
spits, from which they ate. Food was boiled, broiled, or baked.
The wealthy ate wheat bread and others ate barley bread. Ale
made from barley was passed around in a cup. Mead made from
honey was also drunk.

Men wore long-sleeved wool and linen garments reaching almost to
the knee, around which they wore a belt tied in a knot. Men
often wore a gold ring on the fourth finger of the right hand.
Leather shoes were fastened with leather thongs around the
ankle. Their hair was parted in the middle and combed down each
side in waving ringlets. The beard was parted in the middle of
the chin, so that it ended in two points. The clergy did not
wear beards. Well-to-do women wore brightly colored robes with
waist bands, headbands, necklaces, gem bracelets, and rings.
Their long hair was in ringlets and they put rouge on their
cheeks. They were often doing needlework. Silk was affordable
only by the wealthy.

Most families kept a pig and pork was the primary meat. There
were also sheep, goats, cows, deer, rabbits, and fowl. Fowl was
obtained by fowlers who trapped them. The inland waters yielded
eels, salmon, and trout. In the fall, meat was salted to
preserve it for winter meals. There were orchards growing figs,
nuts, grapes, almonds, pears, and apples. Also produced were
beans, lentils, onions, eggs, cheese, and butter. Pepper and
cinnamon were imported.

Fishing from the sea developed in the 1000s A.D., and yielded
herrings, sturgeon, porpoise, oysters, crabs, and other fish.
Whale skins were used to make ropes.

It was usual to wash one's feet in a hot tub after traveling and
drying them with a rough wool cloth. Traveling a far distance
was unsafe as there were robbers on the roads. Traveling
strangers were distrusted. There were superstitions about the
content of dreams, the events of the moon, and the flights and
voices of birds were often seen as signs or omens of future
events. Herbal mixtures were drunk for sickness and maladies.

In the peaceful latter part of the 600s, Theodore, who had been a
monk in Rome, was appointed Archbishop and visited all the
island speaking about the right rule of life and ordaining
bishops to oversee the priests. There was a bishop for each of
the kingdoms. The bishops came to have the same wergeld as an
eorldorman: 1200 s., which was the price of about 500 oxen. A
priest had the wergeld as a landholding farmer [thegn], or 300s.
The bishops spoke Latin, but the priests of the local parishes
spoke English. Theodore was the first archbishop whom all the
English church obeyed. He taught sacred and secular literature,
the books of holy writ, ecclesiastical poetry, astronomy,
arithmetic, and sacred music. The learned ecclesiastical life
flourished in monasteries. Theodore discouraged slavery by
denying Christian burial to the kidnapper and forbidding the
sale of children over the age of seven. Hilda, a noble's
daughter, became the first nun in Northumbria and abbess of one
of its monasteries. There she taught justice, piety, chastity,
peace, and charity. Several monks taught there later became
bishops. Kings and princes often asked her advice.

There were several kingdoms. Kings were selected from the royal
family by their worthiness. A King had not only a wergeld to be
paid to his family if he were killed, but a "cynebot" that would
be paid to his kingdom. A King's household would have a
chamberlain, marshall to oversee the horses and military
equipment, a steward, and a cupbearer. A queen could possess,
manage, and dispose of lands in her name. Great men wore
gold-embroidered clothes, gilt buckles and brooches, and drank
from drinking horns mounted in silver-gilt or in gold. Their
wives had beads, pins, needles, tweezers of bronze, and
work-boxes of bronze, some highly ornamented.

Danish Vikings made several invasions in the 800s for which a
danegeld tax on land was assessed on everyone every ten to
twenty years. It was stored in a strong box under the King's
bed. King Alfred the Great unified the country to defeat them.
He established fortifications called "burhs", usually on hill
tops or other strategic locations on the borders to control the
main road and river routes into Wessex. The burhs were the first
towns. They were typically walled enclosures with towers and
several wooden thatched huts and a couple of churches inside.
Earthen oil lamps were in use. The land area protected by each
burh became known as a "shire". The country was inhabited by
Anglo-Saxons and was called "Angle-land", which later became

Alfred gathered together fighting men who were at his disposal,
which included eorldormen's hearthband (men each of whom had
chosen to swear to fight to the death for their eorldorman, and
some of whom were of high rank), shire thegns (local landholding
farmers, who were required to bring fighting equipment such as
swords, helmets, chainmail, and horses), and ordinary freemen,
i.e. ceorls (who carried food, dug fortifications, and sometimes
fought). Some great lords organized men under them, whom they
provisioned. These vassals took a personal oath to their lord
"on condition that he keep me as I am willing to deserve, and
fulfill all that was agreed on when I became his man, and chose
his will as mine." Alfred had a small navy of longships with 60
oars to fight the Viking longships.

Alfred divided his army into two parts so that one-half of the
men were fighting while the other half was at home sowing and
harvesting for those fighting. Thus, any small-scale independent
farming was supplanted by the open-field system, cultivation of
common land, and a more manor-oriented and stratified society
with the King and important families more powerful and the
peasants more curtailed. Many free coerls of the older days
became bonded. The village community became a manor. But the
lord does not have the power to encroach upon the rights of
common that exist within the community.

In 886, a treaty between Alfred and the Vikings divided the
country along the war front and made the wergeld of every free
farmer, whether English or Viking, 200s. Men of higher rank were
given a wergeld of 4 1/2 marks of pure gold. A mark was probably
a Viking denomination and a mark of gold was equal to nine marks
of silver in later times and probably in this time.

King Alfred gave land with jurisdictional powers within its
boundaries such as the following: "This is the bequest which
King Alfred make unequivocally to Shaftesbury, to the praise of
God and St. Mary and all the saints of God, for the benefit of my
soul, namely a hundred hides [a hide was probably the amount of
land which could support a family for a year or as much land as
could be tilled annually by a single plow] as they stand with
their produce and their men, and my daughter AEthelgifu to the
convent along with the inheritance, since she took the veil on
account of bad health; and the jurisdiction to the convent, which
I myself possessed, namely obstruction and attacks on a man's
house and breach of protection. And the estates which I have
granted to the foundation are 40 hides at Donhead and Compton,
20 hides at Handley and Gussage 10 hides at Tarrant, 15 hides at
Iwerve and 15 hides at Fontmell.

The witnesses of this are Edward my son and Archbishop AEthelred
and Bishop Ealhferth and Bishop AEthelhead and Earl Wulfhere and
Earl Eadwulf and Earl Cuthred and Abbot Tunberht and Milred my
thegn and AEthelwulf and Osric and Brihtulf and Cyma. If anyone
alters this, he shall have the curse of God and St. Mary and all
the saints of God forever to all eternity. Amen."

Sons usually succeeded their fathers on the same land as shown by
this lifetime lease: "Bishop Denewulf and the community at
Winchester lease to Alfred for his lifetime 40 hides of land at
Alresford, in accordance with the lease which Bishop Tunbriht
had granted to his parents and which had run out, on condition
that he renders every year at the autumnal equinox three pounds
as rent, and church dues, and the work connected with church
dues; and when the need arises, his men shall be ready both for
harvesting and hunting; and after his death the property shall
pass undisputed to St. Peter's.

These are the signatures of the councilors and of the members of
the community who gave their consent, namely ..."

Alfred wrote poems on the worthiness of wisdom and knowledge in
preference to material pleasures, pride, and fame, in dealing
with life's sorrow and strife. His observations on human nature
and his proverbs include:

1. As one sows, so will he mow.

2. Every man's doom [judgment] returns to his door.

3. He who will not learn while young, will repent of it when

4. Weal [prosperity] without wisdom is worthless.

5. Though a man had 70 acres sown with red gold, and the gold
grew like grass, yet he is not a whit the worthier unless he
gain friends for himself.

6. Gold is but a stone unless a wise man has it.

7. It's hard to row against the sea-flood; so it is against

8. He who toils in his youth to win wealth, so that he may enjoy
ease in his old age, has well bestowed his toil.

9. Many a man loses his soul through silver.

10. Wealth may pass away, but wisdom will remain, and no man may
perish who has it for his comrade.

11. Don't choose a wife for her beauty nor for wealth, but study
her disposition.

12. Many an apple is bright without and bitter within.

13. Don't believe the man of many words.

14. With a few words a wise man can compass much.

15. Make friends at market, and at church, with poor and with

16. Though one man wielded all the world, and all the joy that
dwells therein, he could not therewith keep his life.

17. Don't chide with a fool.

18. A fool's bolt is soon shot.

19. If you have a child, teach it men's manners while it is
little. If you let him have his own will, he will cause you much
sorrow when he comes of age.

20. He who spares the rod and lets a young child rule, shall rue
it when the child grows old.

21. Either drinking or not drinking is, with wisdom, good.

22. Be not so mad as to tell your friend all your thoughts.

23. Relatives often quarrel together.

24. The barkless dog bites ill.

25. Be wise of word and wary of speech, then all shall love you.

26. We may outride, but not outwit, the old man.

27. If you and your friend fall out, then your enemy will know
what your friend knew before.

28. Don't choose a deceitful man as a friend, for he will do you

29. The false one will betray you when you least expect it.

30. Don't choose a scornful false friend, for he will steal your
goods and deny the theft.

31. Take to yourself a steadfast man who is wise in word and
deed; he will prove a true friend in need.

To restore education and religion, Alfred disseminated the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical
History of the English Nation, the Providence of Boethius on the
goodness of God, and Pope Gregory's Pastoral Care, which he had
translated into English and was the fundamental book on the duty
of a bishop, and included his duty to teach laymen. Alfred's
advice to pastors was to live as they had been taught from
books and to teach this manner of life to others. To be avoided
was pride, the mind's deception of seeking glory in the name of
doing good works, and the corruption of high office. Bede was
England's first scholar, first theologian, and first historian.
He wrote poetry, theological books, and textbooks on grammar,
rhetoric [public speaking and debating], arithmetic, and
astronomy. He began the practice of dating years from the birth
of Christ.

A famous poem, the oral legend of Beowulf, a hero who led his men
into adventures and performed great feats and fought monsters
and dragons, was put into writing with a Christian theme. In it,
loyalty to one's lord is a paramount virtue. Also available in
writing was the story of King Arthur's twelve victorious battles
against the pagan Saxons, authored by Nennius.

There were professional story-tellers attached to great men.
Others wandered from court to court, receiving gifts for their
story-telling. Men usually told oral legends of their own feats
and those of their ancestors after supper.

Alfred had monasteries rebuilt with learned and moral men heading
them. He built a strong wall with four gates around London,
which he had conquered. He appointed one of his eorldormen to be
alderman [older man] to govern London and to be the shire's
earl. A later King built a palace in London, although Winchester
was still the royal capital town. When the King traveled, he and
his retinue would be fed by the local people at their expense.

Under the royalty were the nobles. An earl headed each shire. He
led the array of his shire to do battle if the shire was
attacked. He and the local bishop presided over shire meetings
and meetings of the people. Reeves were appointed by the King as
his representatives in the shires. The reeve took security from
every person for the maintenance of the public peace. He also
brought suspects to court, gave judgments according to the
doom-books, delivered offenders to punishment. By service to the
King, it was possible for a coerl to rise to become a thegn and
to be given land by the King. The King's thegns who got their
position by fighting for the King came to be known as knights.
Other thegns performed functions of magistrates. A thegn was
later identified as a person with five hides of land, a church,
a bell-house, a judicial at the burgh-gate, and an office or
station in the King's hall. Some thegns reached nobility status
with a wergeld of 1200 s. when a freeman's wergeld was 200s. They
also were given a higher legal status in the scale of
punishment, giving credible evidence, and participation in legal
proceedings. The sokemen were freemen who had inherited their
own land, chose their own lord, and attended their lord's court.
That is, their lord has soc jurisdiction over them. A smallholder
rented land of about 30 acres from a landlord, which he paid by
doing work on the lord's demesne [household] land, paying money
rent, or paying a food rent such as in eggs or chickens.
Smallholders made up about two-fifths of the population. A
cottager had one to five acres of land and depended on others for
his living. Among these were shepherds, ploughmen, swineherds,
and blacksmiths. They also participated in the agricultural
work, especially at harvest time.

It was possible for a thegn to acquire enough land to qualify him
for the witan [King's council of wise men, which included
archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, chief landholders, and
officers of the King's household; and also chose the King's
successor on his death]. Women could be present at the
witenagemot [meeting of the witan, which met three times
annually] and shire-gemot [meeting of the shire]. They could sue
and be sued in the courts. They could independently inherit,
possess, and dispose of property. A wife's inheritance was her
own and under no control of her husband.

Marriage required the consent of the lady and her friends. The
man also had to arrange for the foster-lean, that is, money for
the support of expected children. He also declared the amount of
money or land he would give the lady for her consent, that is,
the morgengift, and what he would bequeath her in case of his
death. If she remarried within a year of his death, she had to
forfeit the morgengift.

Great men and monasteries had millers, smiths, carpenters,
architects, agriculturalists, fishermen, weavers, embroiderers,
dyers, and illuminators.

For entertainment, minstrels sang ballads about heroes or Bible
stories, harpers played, jesters joked, and tumblers threw and
caught balls and knives. There was gambling, dice games, and
chasing deer with hounds.

Fraternal guilds were established for mutual advantage and
protection. A guild imposed fines for any injury of one member
by another member. It assisted in paying any murder fine imposed
on a member. It avenged the murder of a member and abided by the
consequences. It buried its members and purchased masses for his

Merchantile guilds in sea-ports carried out commercial
speculations not possible by the capital of only one person.

There were some ale-houses.

The Law

Alfred issued a set of laws to cover the whole country.

The importance of telling the truth and keeping one's word are
expressed by this law: "1. At the first we teach that it is most
needful that every man warily keep his oath and his wed. If any
one be constrained to either of these wrongfully, either to
treason against his lord, or to any unlawful aid; then it is
juster to belie than to fulfil. But if he pledge himself to that
which is lawful to fulfil, and in that belie himself, let him
submissively deliver up his weapon and his goods to the keeping
of his friends, and be in prison forty days in a King's tun: let
him there suffer whatever the bishop may prescribe to him: ...".

The Ten Commandments were written down as this law:

"The Lord spake these words to Moses, and thus said: I am the
Lord thy God. I led thee out of the land of the Egyptians, and
of their bondage.

1. Love thou not other strange gods above me.

2. Utter thou not my name idly, for thou shalt not be guiltless
towards me if thou utter my name idly.

3. Remember that thou hallow the rest-day. Work for yourselves
six days, and on the seventh rest. For in six days, Christ
wrought the heavens and the earth, the seas, and all creatures
that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: and therefore
the Lord hallowed it.

4. Honour thy father and thy mother whom the Lord hath given
thee, that thou mayst be the longer living on earth.

5. Slay thou not.

6. Commit thou not adultery.

7. Steal thou not.

8. Say thou not false witness.

9. Covet thou not thy neighbour's goods unjustly.

10. Make thou not to thyself golden or silver gods."

 If one deceives an unbetrothed woman and sleep with her, he must
pay for her and have her afterwards to wife. But if her father
not approve, he should pay money according to her dowry.

"If a man seize hold of the breast of a ceorlish woman, let him
make bot to her with 5 shillings. If he throw her down and do
not lie with her, let him make bot with 10 shillings. If he lie
with her, let him make bot with 60 shillings. If another man had
before lain with her, then let the bot be half that. ... If this
befall a woman more nobly born, let the bot increase according to
the wer."

"If any one, with libidinous intent, seize a nun either by her
raiment or by her breast without her leave, let the bot be
twofold, as we have before ordained concerning a laywoman."

"If a man commit a rape upon a ceorl's female slave, he must pay
bot to the ceorl of 5 shillings and a wite [fine to the King] of
60 shillings. If a male theow rape a female theow, let him make
bot with his testicles."

For the first dog bite, the owner pays 6 shillings, for the
second, 12 shillings, for the third, 30 shillings.

An ox which gores someone to death shall be stoned.

If one steals or slays another's ox, he must give two oxen for

"If any one steals so that his wife and children don't know it,
he shall pay 60 shillings as wite. But if he steals with the
knowledge of all his household, they shall all go into slavery.
A boy of ten years may be privy to a theft."

"If one who takes a thief, or holds him for the person who took
him, lets the thief go, or conceals the theft, he shall pay for
the thief according to his wer. If he is an eorldormen, he shall
forfeit his shire, unless the King is willing to be merciful to

Judicial Procedure

Cases were held at monthly meetings of the community [folk-moot].
The King or his representative in the community, called the
"reeve", conducted the trial by compurgation.

The one complaining, called the "plaintiff", and the one
defending, called the "defendant", each told their story and put
his hand on the Bible and swore "By God this oath is clean and
true". A slip or a stammer would mean he lost the case.
Otherwise, community members would stand up to swear on behalf of
the plaintiff or the defendant as to their reputation for
veracity. If these "compurgators" were too few, usually twelve
in number, or recited poorly, their party lost.

If this process was inconclusive, the defendant was told to go to
church and to take the sacrament only if he were innocent. If he
took the sacrament, he was tried by the process of "ordeal". In
the ordeal by cold water, he was bound hand and foot and then
thrown into water. If he floated, he was guilty. If he sank, he
was innocent. It was not necessary to drown to be deemed
innocent. In the ordeal by hot water, he had to pick up a stone
from inside a boiling cauldron. If his hand was healing in three
days, he was innocent. If it was festering, he was guilty. A
similar ordeal was that of hot iron, in which one had to carry in
his hands a hot iron for a certain distance. Although the results
of the ordeal were taken to indicate the will of God, the
official conducting the ordeal could adjust its parameters so
that a person with a guilty demeanor would be found guilty and a
person with an innocent demeanor found innocent. The ordeal seems
to favor the physically fit, because a person who was not fat
would tend to sink and a person who was in good health would
have prompt healing of burns. Presumably a person convicted of
murder, i.e. killing by stealth, or robbery [taking from a
person's robe, that is, his person or breaking into his home to
steal] would be hung and his possessions confiscated.

The issue of rights to herd pigs to feed in certain woodland was
heard in this lawsuit:

"In the year 825 which had passed since the birth of Christ, and
in the course of the second Indiction, and during the reign of
Beornwulf, King of Mercia, a council meeting was held in the
famous place called Clofesho, and there the said King Beornwulf
and his bishops and his earls and all the councilors of this
nation were assembled. Then there was a very noteworthy suit
about wood-pasture at Sinton, towards the west in Scirhylte. The
reeves in charge of the pigherds wished to extend the pasture
farther, and take in more of the wood than the ancient rights
permitted. Then the bishop and the advisors of the community said
that they would not admit liability for more than had been
appointed in AEthelbald's day, namely mast for 300 swine, and
that the bishop and the community should have two-thirds of the
wood and of the mast. They Archbishop Wulfred and all the
councilors determined that the bishop and the community might
declare on oath that it was so appointed in AEthelbald's time and
that they were not trying to obtain more, and the bishop
immediately gave security to Earl Eadwulf to furnish the oath
before all the councilors, and it was produced in 30 days at the
bishop's see at Worcester. At that time Hama was the reeve in
charge of the pigherds at Sinton, and he rode until he reached
Worcester, and watched and observed the oath, as Earl Eadwulf
bade him, but did not challenge it.

Here are the names and designations of those who were assembled
at the council meeting ..."

Chapter 3

The Times: 900-1066

There were many large landholders such as the King, earls [Danish
word for Saxon word "eorldormen"], and bishops. Earls were
noblemen by birth, and often relatives of the King. They were
his army commanders and the highest civil officials, each
responsible for a shire. A breach of the peace of an eorldorman
would occasion a fine. Lower in social status were freemen, then
sokemen, and then, in decreasing order, villani, bordarii,
cottarii, and servi (slaves).

There was a great expansion of arable land. Some land was common
land, held by communities. If a family came to pay the dues and
fines on it, it became personal to that family and was known as
heir land.

Kings typically granted land in exchange for services of military
duties, repairing of fortresses, and work on bridges. Less
common services required by landlords include equipping a guard
ship and guarding the coast, guarding the lord, military watch,
maintaining the deer fence at the King's residence, alms giving,
and church dues. Since this land was granted in return for
service, there were limitations on its heritability and often an
heir had to pay a heriot to the landlord to obtain the land. A
heriot was originally the armor of a man killed, which went to
the King.

There were several thousand thegns, rich and poor, who held land
directly of the King. Free farmers who had sought protection
from thegns in time of war now took them as their lords. A free
man could chose his lord, following him in war and working his
land in peace. In return, the lord would protect him against
encroaching neighbors, back him in the courts of law, and feed
him in times of famine. Often knights stayed with their lords at
their large houses, but later were given land with men on it.
The lords were the ruling class and the greatest of them sat in
the King's council along with bishops, abbots, and officers of
the King's household. The lesser lords were local magnates, who
officiated at the shire and hundred courts.

A free holder's house was wood, perhaps with a stone foundation,
and roofed with thatch or tiles. There was a main room or hall,
with bed chambers around it. Beyond was the kitchen, perhaps
outside under a lean-to. These buildings were surrounded by a
bank or stiff hedge.

Simple people lived in huts made from wood and mud, with one door
and no windows. They slept around a fire in the middle of the
earthen floor. They wore shapeless clothes of goat-hair and
unprocessed wool. They ate rough brown bread, vegetable broth,
small-ale from barley, bacon, beans, milk, cabbage, onion, and
honey for sweetening or mead. In the summer, they ate boiled or
raw veal and wild fowl and game snared in the forest. In the
fall, they slaughtered and salted their cattle for food during
the winter because there was no more pasture for them. However,
some cows and breed animals were kept through the winter.

Folk land was that land that was left over after allotments had
been made to the freemen and which was not common land. Book
land was called such because this holding was written down in
books. This land was usually land that had been given to the
church or monasteries because the church had personnel who could
write. So many thegns gave land to the church, usually a hide,
that the church had 1/3 of the land.

An example of a grant of hides of land is: "[God has endowed King
Edred with England], wherefore he enriches and honors men, both
ecclesiastic and lay, who can justly deserve it. The truth of
this can be acknowledged by the thegn AElfsige Hunlafing through
his acquisition of the estate of 5 hides at Alwalton for himself
and his heirs, free from every burden except the repair of
fortifications, the building of bridges and military service; a
prudent landowner church dues, burial fees and tithes. [This
land] is to be held for all time and granted along with the
things both great and small belonging to it."

A Bishop gave land to a faithful attendant for his life and two
other lives as follows: "In 904 A.D., I, Bishop Werfrith, with
the permission and leave of my honorable community in Worcester,
grant to Wulfsige, my reeve, for his loyal efficiency and humble
obedience, one hide of land at Aston as Herred held it, that is,
surrounded by a dyke, for three lives and then after three lives
the estate shall be given back without any controversy to

The lands of the large landholding lords were administered by
freemen. They had wheat, barley, oats, and rye fields, orchards,
vineyards, and bee-keeping areas for honey. Hand mills and/or
water mills were used for grinding grain. On this land lived not
only farm laborers, cattle herders, shepherds, goatherds, and
pigherds, but craftsmen such as goldsmiths, hawk-keepers,
dog-keepers, horse- keepers, huntsmen, foresters, builders,
weaponsmiths, embroiderers, bronze smiths, blacksmiths, water
mill wrights, wheelwrights, waggon wrights, iron nail makers,
potters, soap-makers, tailors, shoemakers, salters (made salt at
the "wyches"), bakers, cooks, and gardeners. Most men did
carpentry work. Master carpenters worked with ax, hammer, and
saw to make houses, doors, bridges, milk- buckets, wash-tubs, and
trunks. Blacksmiths made gates, huge door hinges, locks,
latches, bolts, and horseshoes. The lord loaned these people land
on which to live for their life, called a "life estate", in
return for their services. The loan could continue to their
children who took up the craft. Mills were usually powered by

The land of some lords included fishing villages along the
coasts. Other lords had land with iron-mining industries.

Some smiths traveled for their work, for instance, stone-wrights
building arches and windows in churches, and lead-workers
putting lead roofs on churches.

Clothing for men and women was made from wool, silk, and linen
and was usually brown in color. Men also wore leather clothing,
such as neckpieces, breeches, ankle leathers, shoes, and boots;
and metal belts under which they carried knives or axes. They
could wear leather pouches for carrying items.

Water could be carried in leather bags. Leather working
preservative techniques improved so that tanning prevented
stretching or decaying.

For their meals, people had drinking cups and bottles made of
leather, and bowls, pans, and pitchers made by the potter's
wheel. Water could be boiled in pots made of iron, brass, lead,
or clay.

Some lords had markets on their land, for which they charged a
toll [like a sales tax] for participation. There were about
fifty markets in the nation. Cattle and slaves were the usual
medium of exchange. Shaking hands was symbolic of an agreement
for a sale, which was carried out in front of witnesses at the
market. People traveled to markets on roads and bridges kept in
repair by certain men who did this work as their service to the

Salt was used throughout the nation to preserve meat over the
winter. Inland saltworks had an elaborate and specialized
organization. They formed little manufacturing enclaves in the
midst of agricultural land, and they were considered to be
neither manor nor appurtenant to manors. They belonged jointly
to the King and the local earl, who shared, at a proportion of
two to one, the proceeds of the tolls upon the sale of salt and
methods of carriage on the ancient salt ways according to
cartload, horse load, or man load. Horses now had horseshoes.
The sales of salt were mostly retail, but some bought to resell.
Peddlers carried salt to sell from village to village.

At seaports on the coast, goods were loaded onto vessels owned by
English merchants to be transported to other English seaports.
London was a market town on the north side of the Thames River
and the primary port and trading center for foreign merchants.
Wheat, meal, skins, hides, wool, beer, lead, cheese, salt, and
honey were exported. Wine (mostly for the church), fish, timber,
pitch, pepper, spices, copper, gems, gold, silk, dyes, oil,
brass, sulphur, glass, and elephant and walrus ivory were
imported. There was a royal levy on exports by foreigners
merchants. The other side of the river was called Southwark. It
contained sleazy docks, prisons, gaming houses, brothels, and

Guilds in London were first associations of neighbors for the
purposes of mutual assistance. They were fraternities of persons
by voluntary compact to assist each other in poverty, including
their widows or orphans and the portioning of poor maids, and to
protect each other from injury. Their essential features are and
continue to be in the future: 1) oath of initiation, 2) entrance
fee in money or in kind and a common fund, 3) annual feast and
mass, 4) meetings at least three times yearly for guild
business, 5), obligation to attend all funerals of members, to
bear the body if need be from a distance, and to provide masses
for the dead, 6) the duty of friendly help in cases of sickness,
imprisonment, house-burning, shipwreck, or robbery, 7) rules for
decent behavior at meetings, and 8) provisions for settling
disputes without recourse to the law. Both the masses and the
feast were attended by the women. Frequently the guilds also had
a religious ceremonial to affirm their bonds of fidelity. They
readily became connected with the exercise of trades and with
the training of apprentices. They promoted and took on public
purposes such as the repairing of roads and bridges, the relief
of pilgrims, the maintenance of schools and almshouses, and the
periodic performance of pageants and miracle-plays.

Many of these London guilds were known by the name of their
founding member. There were also Frith Guilds and a Knights'
Guild. The Frith Guild's main object was to put down theft.
Members contributed to a common fund, which paid a compensation
for items stolen. Members with horses were to track the thief.
Members without horses worked in the place of the absent
horseowners until their return. The Knights' Guild was composed
of thirteen military persons to whom King Edgar granted certain
waste land in the east of London, toward Aldgate, for prescribed
services performed. This concession was confirmed by Edward the
Confessor in a charter at the suit of certain burgesses of
London, the successors of these knights. But there was no
trading privilege, and the Prior of Holy Trinity, Aldgate,
became the sovereign of the Guild and the Aldermen ex officio of
Portsoken Ward. He rendered an account to the Crown of the shares
of tallage paid by the men of the Ward and presided over the
wardmoots. Every week in London there was a folkmoot. Majority
decision was a tradition. Every London merchant who had made
three long voyages on his own behalf ranked as a thegn.

Later in the towns, there were merchant guilds, which were
composed of prosperous traders, who later became landholders.
Merchant guilds grew out of charity associations whose members
were bound by oath to each other and got together for a
guild-feast every month. Many market places were dominated by a
merchant guild, which had a monopoly of the local trade. There
were also some craft guilds composed of handicraftsmen or
artisans. Escaped bonded agricultural workers, poor people, and
traders without land migrated to towns to live, but were not

Towns were largely self-sufficient, but salt and iron came from a
distance. It was the kings' policy to establish in every shire
at least one town with a market place where purchases would be
witnessed and a mint where reliable money was coined. Almost
every village had a watermill.

Edward the Confessor, named such for his piety, was a King of 24
years who was widely respected for his intelligence,
resourcefulness, good judgment, and wisdom. His educated Queen
Edith, whom he relied on for advice and cheerful courage, was a
stabilizing influence on him. They were served by a number of
thegns, who had duties in the household, which was composed of
the hall, the courtyard, and the bedchamber. They were important
men, thegns by rank. They were landholders, often in several
areas, and held leading positions in the shires, although they
were not sheriffs. They were also priests and clerics, who
maintained the religious services and performed tasks for which
literacy was necessary.

The court was host to many of the greatest magnates and prelates
of the land at the time of great ecclesiastical festivals, when
the King held more solemn courts and feasted his vassals. These
included all the great earls, the majority of bishops, some
abbots, and a number of thegns and clerics. Edward had a witan
of wise men to advise him, but sometimes the King would speak in
the hall after dinner and listen to what comments were made from
the mead-benches. As the court moved about the country, many men
came to pay their respects and attend to local business.

The main governmental activities were: war, collection of
revenue, religious education, and administration of justice. For
war, the shires had to provide a certain number of men and the
ports quotas of ships with crews. The King was the patron of the
English church. He gave the church peace and protection. He
presided over church councils and appointed bishops. As for the
administration of justice, the public courts were almost all
under members of Edward's court, bishops, earls, and reeves.
Edward's mind was often troubled and disturbed by the threat
that law and justice would be overthrown, by the pervasiveness of
disputes and discord, by the raging of wicked presumption, by
money interfering with right and justice, and by avarice
kindling all of these. He saw it as his duty to courageously
oppose the wicked by taking good men as models, by enriching the
churches of God, by relieving those oppressed by wicked judges,
and by judging equitably between the powerful and the humble.

A King's grant of land entailed two documents: a charter giving
boundaries and conditions and a writ, usually addressed to the
shire court, listing the judicial and financial privileges
conveyed with the land. These were usually sac and soke [petty
jurisdiction over inhabitants of the estate], toll and team [a
share in the profits from trade conducted within the estate], and
infangenetheof [the authority to hang and take the chattels of a
thief caught on the property]. The writ was created by the
Chancery, which had been established by the King to draft
documents and keep records. The writ was a small piece of
parchment addressed to a royal official or dependent commanding
him to perform some task for the King. By the 1000s A.D., the
writ contained a seal: a lump of wax with the impress of the
Great Seal of England.

The town of Coventry consisted of a monastery manor and a private
manor. The monastery was granted by Edward the Confessor full
freedom and these jurisdictions: sac and soke, toll and team,
hamsocne [the authority to fine a person for breaking into and
making entry by force into the dwelling of another], forestall
[the authority to fine a person for robbing others on the road],
blodwite [the authority to impose a forfeiture for assault
involving bloodshed], fihtwite [the authority to fine for
fighting], weordwite [the authority to fine for manslaughter,
but not for willful murder], and mundbryce [the authority to
fine for any breach of the peace, such as trespass on lands].

Marriages were determined by men asking women to marry them. If a
woman said yes, he paid a sum to her kin for her "mund"
[jurisdiction or protection over her] and gave his oath to them
to maintain and support the woman and any children born. As
security for this oath, he gave a valuable object or "wed". The
couple were then betrothed. Marriage ceremonies were performed by
priests in churches. The marriage was written into church
records. Friends witnessed the wedding and afterwards ate the
great loaf, or first bread made by the bride. This was the
forerunner of the wedding cake. They drank special ale, the
"bride ale" (from hence the work "bridal"), to the health of the

This marriage agreement with an Archbishop's sister provides her
with land, money, and horsemen:

"Here in this document is stated the agreement which Wulfric and
the archbishop made when he obtained the archbishop's sister as
his wife, namely he promised her the estates at Orleton and
Ribbesford for her lifetime, and promised her that he would
obtain the estate at Knightwick for her for three lives from the
community at Winchcombe, and gave her the estate at Alton to
grant and bestow upon whomsoever she pleased during her lifetime
or at her death, as she preferred, and promised her 50 mancuses
of gold and 30 men and 30 horses.

The witnesses that this agreement was made as stated were
Archbishop Wulfstan and Earl Leofwine and Bishop AEthelstan and
Abbot AElfweard and the monk Brihtheah and many good men in
addition to them, both ecclesiastics and laymen. There are two
copies of this agreement, one in the possession of the
archbishop at Worcester and the other in the possession of
Bishop AEthelstan at Hereford."

This marriage agreement provided the wife with money, land, farm
animals and farm laborers; it also names sureties, the survivor
of whom would receive all this property:

"Here is declared in this document the agreement which Godwine
made with Brihtric when he wooed his daughter. In the first
place he gave her a pound's weight of gold, to induce her to
accept his suit, and he granted her the estate at Street with
all that belongs to it, and 150 acres at Burmarsh and in addition
30 oxen and 20 cows and 10 horses and 10 slaves.

This agreement was made at Kingston before King Cnut, with the
cognizance of Archbishop Lyfing and the community at
Christchurch, and Abbot AElfmaer and the community at St.
Augustine's, and the sheriff AEthelwine and Sired the old and
Godwine, Wulfheah's son, and AElfsige cild and Eadmaer of Burham
and Godwine, Wulfstan's son, and Carl, the king's cniht. And
when the maiden was brought from Brightling AElfgar, Sired's
son, and Frerth, the priest of Forlstone, and the priests
Leofwine and Wulfsige from Dover, and Edred, Eadhelm's son, and
Leofwine, Waerhelm's son, and Cenwold rust and Leofwine, son of
Godwine of Horton, and Leofwine the Red and Godwine, Eadgifu's
son, and Leofsunu his brother acted as security for all this.
And whichever of them lives the longer shall succeed to all the
property both in land and everything else which I have given
them. Every trustworthy man in Kent and Sussex, whether thegn or
commoner, is cognizant of these terms.

There are three of these documents; one is at Christchurch,
another at St. Augustine's, and Brihtric himself has the third."

Nuns and monks lived in nunneries and monasteries on church land
and grew their own food. The local bishop usually was also an
abbot of a monastery. The priests and nuns wore long robes with
loose belts and did not carry weapons. Their life was ordered by
the ringing of the bell to start certain activities, such as
prayer; meals; meetings; work in the fields, gardens, or
workshops; copying and illuminating books; taught justice,
piety, chastity, peace, and charity; and cared for the sick.
Caring for the sick entailed mostly praying to God as it was
thought that only God could cure. The large monasteries had
libraries, dormitories, guest-houses, kitchens, butteries to
store wine, bakehouses, breweries, dairies, granaries, barns,
fish-ponds, orchards, vineyards, gardens, workshops, laundries,
lavatories with long stone or marble washing-troughs, and
towels. Slavery was diminished by the church by excommunication
for the sale of a child over seven. The clergy taught that
manumission of slaves was good for the soul of the dead, so it
became frequent in wills. The clergy were to be celibate and not
marry, but in lax times this rule was not followed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury began anointing new Kings at the
time of coronation to emphasize that the King was ruler by the
grace of God.

Illness was thought to be caused by demons. People hung charms
around their neck for cure and treatments of magic and herbs
were given. For instance, the remedy for "mental vacancy and
folly" was a drink of "fennel, agrimony, cockle, and marche".
Leeches were used for healing wounds, such as those from snake

The Law

Every free man who did not hold land had to find a lord to answer
for him. The act of homage was symbolized by placing his hands
within those of his lord. Every lord shall be personally
responsible as surety for the men of his household.

Every free man who held land had to be in a local tithing,
usually about ten men, in which they served as personal sureties
for each other's peaceful behavior [frankpledge]. If one of them
were accused of an offense, the others had to produce him in
court or pay for the offense, unless they could prove that they
had no complicity in it.

"And every man shall see that he has a surety, and this surety
shall bring and keep him to [the performance of] every lawful

1. And if anyone does wrong and escapes, his surety shall incur
what the other should have incurred.

2. If the case be that of a thief and his surety can lay hold of
him within 12 months, he shall deliver him up to justice, and
what he has paid shall be returned to him."

Only a priest could declare a marriage. The groom had to bring
friends to his wedding as sureties to guarantee his oath to
maintain and support his wife and children. Those who swore to
take care of the children were called their "godfathers".

"No woman or maiden shall be forced to marry a man she dislikes
or given for money."

"Violence to a widow or maiden is punishable by payment of one's

No man shall have more wives than one.

No man may marry among his own kin within six degrees of
relationship or with the widow of a man as nearly related to him
as that, or with a near relative of his first wife's, or his
god-mother, or a divorced woman. Incest is punishable by payment
of one's wergeld or a fine or forfeiture of all his possessions.

Grounds for divorce were mutual consent or adultery or desertion.

Adultery was prohibited for men as well as for women.

Prostitutes shall be driven out of the land or destroyed in the
land, unless they cease from their wickedness and make amends to
the utmost of their ability.

Neither husband nor wife could sell family property without the
consent of the other.

If there was a marriage agreement, it determined the wife's
"dower", which would be hers upon his death. Otherwise, if a man
who held his land in socage [owned it freely and not subject to
a larger landholder] died before his wife, she got half this
property. If there were minor children, she got all this

Inheritance of land to adult children was by the custom of the
land held. In some places, the custom was for the oldest son to
take it and in other places, the custom was for the youngest son
to take it. Usually, the sons each took an equal portion by
partition, but the eldest son had the right to buy out the
others as to the chief messuage [dwelling and supporting land and
buildings] as long as he compensated them with property of equal
value. If there were no legitimate sons, then each daughter took
an equal share when she married.

In London, one-third of the personal property of a decedent went
to his wife, one-third went to his children in equal shares, and
one-third he could bequeath as he wished.

"If a man dies intestate [without a will], his lord shall have
heriot [horses, weapons, shields, and helmets] of his property
according to the deceased's rank and [the rest of] the property
shall be divided among his wife, children, and near kinsmen."

A man could justifiably kill an adulterer in the act with the
man's wife, daughter, sister, or mother. In Kent, a lord could
fine any bondswoman of his who had become pregnant without his
permission [childwyte].

A man could kill in defense of his own life, the life of his
kinsmen, his lord, or a man whose lord he was. The offender was
"caught red-handed" if the blood of his victim was still on him.
He could also kill a thief in the act of carrying off his
property, e.g. the thief hand-habbende [a thief found with the
stolen goods in his hand] or the thief back-berend [a thief
found carrying stolen goods on his back]. Self-help was
available for hamsocne [breaking into a man's house to assault

Cattle theft could be dealt with only by speedy pursuit. The law
required that a person who had involuntarily lost possession of
cattle should at once raise the hue and cry. All his neighbors
were then under a legal duty to follow the trail of the cow to
its taker.

Murder is punished by death as follows: "If any man break the
King's peace given by hand or seal, so that he slay the man to
whom the peace was given, both his life and lands shall be in the
King's power if he be taken, and if he cannot be taken he shall
be held an outlaw by all, and if anyone shall be able to slay
him he shall have his spoils by law."

"If anyone by force break or enter any man's court or house to
slay or wound or assault a man, he shall pay 100 shillings to
the King as fine."

"If anyone slay a man within his court or his house, himself and
all his substance are at the King's will, save the dower of his
wife if he have endowed her."

No clergy may gamble or participate in games of chance.

Measures and weights of goods for sale shall be correct.

Every man shall have a warrantor to his market transactions and
no one shall buy and sell except in a market town; but he shall
have the witness of the portreeve or of other men of credit, who
can be trusted.

No marketing, business, or hunting may be done on Sundays.

No one may bind a free man, shave his head in derision, or shave
off his beard. Shaving was a sign of enslavement, which could be
incurred by not paying one's fines for offenses committed.

"And if anyone is so rich or belongs to so powerful a kindred,
that he cannot be restrained from crime or from protecting and
harboring criminals, he shall be led out of his native district
with his wife and children, and all his goods, to any part of
the kingdom which the King chooses, be he noble or commoner,
whoever he may be - with the provision that he shall never
return to his native district. And henceforth, let him never be
encountered by anyone in that district; otherwise he shall be
treated as a thief caught in the act."

The Laws for London were:

"1. The gates called Aldersgate and Cripplegate were in charge of

2. If a small ship came to Billingsgate, one half-penny was paid
as toll; if a larger ship with sails, one penny was paid.

  1) If a hulk or merchantman arrives and lies there, four pence
is paid as toll.

  2) From a ship with a cargo of planks, one plank is given as

  3) On three days of the week toll for cloth [is paid] on
Sunday and Tuesday and Thursday.

  4) A merchant who came to the bridge with a boat containing
fish paid one half- penny as toll, and for a larger ship one

  5 - 8) Foreigners with wine or blubber fish or other goods and
their tolls.

Foreigners were allowed to buy wool, melted fat [tallow], and
three live pigs for their ships.

"3. If the town-reeve or the village reeve or any other official
accuses anyone of having withheld toll, and the man replies that
he has kept back no toll which it was his legal duty to pay, he
shall swear to this with six others and shall be quit of the

  1) If he declares that he has paid toll, he shall produce the
man to whom he paid it, and shall be quit of the charge.

  2) If, however, he cannot produce the man to whom he paid it,
he shall pay the actual toll and as much again and five pounds
to the King.

  3) If he vouches the tax-gatherer to warranty [asserting]
that he paid toll to him, and the latter denies it, he shall
clear himself by the ordeal and by no other means of proof.

4. And we [the King and his counselors] have decreed that a man
who, within the town, makes forcible entry into another man's
house without permission and commits a breach of the peace of
the worst kind ... and he who assaults an innocent person on the
King's highway, if he is slain, shall lie in an unhonored grave.

  1) If, before demanding justice, he has recourse to violence,
but does not lose his life thereby, he shall pay five pounds for
breach of the King's peace.

  2) If he values the good-will of the town itself, he shall
pay us thirty shillings as compensation, if the King will grant
us this concession."

5. No base coin or coin defective in quality or weight, foreign
or English, may be used by a foreigner or an Englishman.

Swearing a false oath or perjury is punishable by loss of one's
hand or half one's wergeld.

Judicial Procedure

There were courts for different geographical communities.

In London, the Hustings Court met weekly and the folkmoot of all
citizens met three times a year. Each ward had a leet court
[precursor to police court].

The vill [similar to village] was the smallest community for
judicial purposes. There were several vills in a hundred.

A King's reeve presided over local criminal and peace and order
issues [leet jurisdiction] at monthly meetings of the hundred
court. However, summary procedure was followed when a criminal
was caught in the act or seized after a hue and cry. Every free
man over age 12 had to be in a hundred. The hundred was a
division of the shire [county]. Usually, the shire reeve, or
"sheriff", held each hundred court in turn. In the hundred
court, representatives of the villages settled their disputes
and answered for breaches of the peace.

A shire [county] was a larger area of land, headed by an earl.
All persons residing in the shire met twice a year. They were
summoned together by the sheriff, who was appointed by the earl
and the King. The sheriff was responsible for the royal
administration in the shire. He was responsible for the royal
accounts and performed functions like tracking cattle thieves.
The shire court was primarily concerned with issues of the
larger landholders. Here the freemen interpreted the customary
law of the locality. The earl usually took a third of the
profits such as fines and forfeits, of the shire court.

A bishop sat on both the shire and the hundred court.

"No one shall make distraint of property until he has appealed
for justice in the hundred court and shire court".

This lawsuit between a son and his mother over land was heard at
a shire- meeting: "Here it is declared in this document that a
shire-meeting sat at Aylton in King Cnut's time. There were
present Bishop AEthelstan and Earl Ranig and Edwin, the Earl's
son, and Leofwine, Wulfsige's son, and Thurkil the White; and
Tofi the Proud came there on the King's business, and Bryning
the sheriff was present, and AEthelweard of Frome and Leofwine
of Frome and Godric of Stoke and all the thegns of
Herefordshire. Then Edwin, Enneawnes son, came traveling to the
meeting and sued his own mother for a certain piece of land,
namely Wellington and Cradley. Then the bishop asked whose
business it was to answer for his mother, and Thurkil the White
replied that it was his business to do so, if he knew the claim.
As he did not know the claim, three thegns were chosen from the
meeting [to ride] to the place where she was, namely at Fawley,
and these were Leofwine of Frome and AEthelsige the Red and
Winsige the seaman, and when they came to her they asked her
what claim she had to the lands for which her son was suing her.
Then she said that she had no land that in any way belonged to
him, and was strongly incensed against her son, and summoned to
her kinswoman, Leofflaed, Thurkil's wife, and in front of them
said to her as follows: 'Here sits Leofflaed, my kinswoman, to
whom, after my death, I grant my land and my gold, my clothing
and my raiment and all that I possess.' And then she said to the
thegns: 'Act like thegns, and duly announce my message to the
meeting before all the worthy men, and tell them to whom I have
granted my land and all my property, and not a thing to my own
son, and ask them to be witnesses of this.' And they did so;
they rode to the meeting and informed all the worthy men of the
charge that she had laid upon them. Then Thurkil the White stood
up in the meeting and asked all the thegns to give his wife the
lands unreservedly which her kinswoman had granted her, and they
did so. Then Thurkil rode to St. AEthelbert's minister, with the
consent and cognizance of the whole assembly, and had it
recorded in a gospel book."

Courts controlled by lords had various kinds of jurisdiction
recognized by the King. "Sac and soc" included the right to deal
with land disputes. "Toll and team" included the right to levy
tolls on cattle sales and to hold a hearing for men accused of
stealing cattle. "Infangenetheof" gave power to do justice to a
thief caught red-handed. Sometimes this jurisdiction overlapped
that of the hundred court.

The King decided the complaints and issues of the nobility.

Chapter 4

The Times: 1066-1100

William came from Normandy to conquer the nation. He claimed that
the former King, Edward, the Confessor, had promised the throne
to him when they were growing up together in Normandy if Edward
became King of England and had no children. William's men and
horses came in boats powered by oars and sails. The conquest did
not take long because of the superiority of his military
expertise to that of the English. He organized his army into
three groups: archers with bows and arrows, horsemen with swords
and stirrups, and footmen with hand weapons. Each group played a
specific role in a strategy planned in advance. The English army
was only composed of footmen with hand weapons and shields and
was inexperienced.

Declaring the English who fought against him to be traitors,
William declared their land confiscated. As William conquered
this land, he parceled it out among the barons who fought with
him. They again made oaths of personal loyalty to him [fealty].
They agreed to hold the land as his vassals with future military
services to him and receipt of his protection. They gave him
homage by placing their hands within his and saying "I become
your man for the tenement I hold of you, and I will bear you
faith in life and member [limb] and earthly honor against all
men". They held their land "of their lord", the King, by knight's
service. The King had "enfeoffed" them [given them a fief: a
source of income] with land. The theory that by right all land
was the King's and that land was held by others only at his gift
and in return for specified service was new to English thought.

The Saxon governing class was destroyed. The independent power of
earls, who had been drawn from three great family houses, was
curtailed. Most died or fled the country. The people were
deprived of their most popular leaders, who were excluded from
all positions of trust and profit, especially the clergy of all

William was a stern and fierce man and ruled as an autocrat by
terror. Whenever the people revolted or resisted his mandates,
he seized their lands or destroyed the crops and laid waste the
countryside and so that they starved to death. He had a strict
system of policing the nation. Instead of the Anglo-Saxon self-
government throughout the districts and hundreds of resident
authorities in local courts, he aimed at substituting for it the
absolute rule of the barons under military rule so favorable to
the centralizing power of the Crown. He used secret police and
spies and the terrorism this system involved. This especially
curbed the minor barons and preserved the public peace.

The English people were disarmed. Curfew bells were rung at 7:00
PM when everyone had to remain in their own dwellings on pain of
death and all fires and candles were to be put out, This
prevented any nightly gatherings, assassinations, or seditions.
Order was brought to the kingdom so that no man dare kill
another, no matter how great the injury he had received. William
extended the King's peace on high roads to include the whole
nation. Any individual of any rank could travel from end to end
of the land unharmed. Before, prudent travelers would travel
only in groups of twenty.

The barons subjugated the English who were on their newly
acquired land. There began a hierarchy of seisin [rightful
occupation] of land so that there could be no land without its
lord. Also, every lord had a superior lord with the King as the
overlord or supreme landlord. One piece of land may be held by
several tenures. For instance, A, holding by barons's service of
the King, may enfeoff B, a church, to hold of him on the terms
of praying for the souls of his ancestors, and B may enfeoff a
freeman C to hold of the church by giving it a certain
percentage of his crops every year. There were about 200 barons
who held land directly of the King. Other fighting men were the
knights, who were tenants or subtenants of a baron. Knighthood
began as a reward for valor on the field of battle by the King
or a noble. Altogether there were about 5000 fighting men
holding land.

The essence of Norman feudalism was that the land remained under
the lord, whatever the vassal might do. The lord had the duty to
defend the vassals on his land. The vassal owed military service
to the lord and also the service of attending the courts of the
hundred and the shire, which were courts of the King,
administering old customary law. They were the King's courts on
the principle that a crime anywhere was a breach of the King's

This feudal bond based on occupancy of land rather than on
personal ties was uniform throughout the realm. No longer could
a man choose his lord and transfer his land with him to a new
lord. He held his land at the will of his lord, to be terminated
anytime the lord decided to do so. In later eras, tenancies would
be held for the life of the tenant, and even later, for his life
and those of his heirs.

This uniformity of land organization plus the new requirement of
every freeman to take an oath of loyalty directly to the King
that would supersede any oath to any other man gave the nation a
new unity.

English villani, bordarii, cottarii, and servi on the land of the
barons were subjugated into a condition of "villeinage"
servitude and became "tied to the land" so that they could not
leave the land without their lord's permission. The villeins
formed a new bottom class as the population's percentage of
slaves declined dramatically. They held their land of their
lord, the baron. To guard against uprisings of the conquered
people, the barons used villein labor to build about a hundred
great stone castles, with moats and walls with towers around
them, at easily defensible positions such as hilltops all over
the nation.

A castle could be built only with permission of the King. A
typical castle had a stone building of about four floors on a
small, steep hill. Later it also had an open area surrounded by
a stone wall with towers at the corners. Around the wall were
ditches and banks and perhaps a moat. One traveled over these via
a drawbridge let down at the gatehouse of the enclosing wall. On
either side of the gatehouse were chambers for the guards.
Arrows could be shot through slits in the enclosing walls.
Inside the enclosed area might be stables, a granary, barracks
for the soldiers, and workshops.

The castle building was entered by an outer wood staircase to the
guard room on the second floor. The first floor had a well and
was used as a storehouse and/or dungeons for prisoners. The
second floor had a two-storied great hall, with small rooms and
aisles around it within the thick walls. There was also a chapel
area on the second floor. There were small areas of the third
floor which could be used for sleeping. The floors were wood and
were reached by a spiral stone staircase in one corner of the
building. Sometimes there was a reservoir of water on an upper
level with pipes carrying the water to floors below. Each floor
had a fireplace with a slanted flue going through the wall to the
outside. There were toilets in the walls with a pit or shaft
down the exterior of the wall. The first floor had only arrow
slits in the walls, but the higher floors had small windows.

The great hall was the main room of the castle. It was used for
meals and meetings at which the lord received homages, recovered
fees, and held the view of frankpledge. At the main table, the
lord and his lady sat on chairs. Everyone else sat on benches at
trestle tables, which could be folded up, e.g. at night.
Lighting was by oil lamps or candles on stands or on wall
fixtures. The residence of the lord's family and guests was at a
screened off area at the extreme end of the hall or on a higher
floor. Chests stored garments and jewels. Iron keys and locks
were used for chests and doors. The great bed had a wooden frame
and springs made of interlaced rope or strips of leather. It was
covered with a feather mattress, sheets, quilts, fur covers, and
pillows. Drapery around the bed kept out cold drafts and
provided privacy. There was a water bowl for washing in the
morning. A chamber pot was kept under the bed for nighttime use.
Hay was used as toilet paper. The lord's personal servants slept
nearby on benches or trundle beds. The floor of the hall was
strewn with straw, on which common folk could sleep at night.
There were stools on which to sit. Cup boards (boards on which
to store cups) and chests stored spices and plate. Cooking was
done outside on an open fire, roasting on spits and boiling in
post. One-piece iron shears were available to cut cloth. Hand
held spindles were used for weaving. On the roof there were
rampart walks for sentry patrols and parapets from which to
shoot arrows or throw things at besiegers. Each tenant of the
demesne of the King where he had a castle had to perform a
certain amount of castle-guard duty for its continuing defense.
These knights performing castle- guard duty slept at their posts.
Bathing was done in a wooden tub located in the garden in the
summer and indoors near the fire in winter. The great bed and tub
for bathing were taken on trips with the lord.

Markets grew up outside castle walls. Any trade on a lord's land
was subject to "passage", a payment on goods passing through,
"stallage", a payment for setting up a stall or booth in a
market, and "pontage", a payment for taking goods across a

The Norman man was clean-shaven and wore his hair short. He wore
a long-sleeved under-tunic of linen or wool that reached to his
ankles. Over this the Norman noble wore a tunic without sleeves,
open at the sides, and fastened with a belt. Over one shoulder
was his cloak, which was fastened on the opposite shoulder by
being drawn through a ring brooch and knotted. He wore thick
cloth stockings and leather shoes. Common men wore tunics to the
knee so as not to impede them in their work. They could roll up
their stockings when working in the fields. A lady also wore a
long-sleeved linen or wool tunic fitted at the waist and laced
at the side, but full in the skirt. She wore a jeweled belt,
passed twice around her waist and knotted in front. Her hair was
often in two long braids, and her head covered with a white
round cloth held in place by a metal circlet like a small crown.
Over her tunic was a cloak fastened at the front with a cord. The
Norman knight wore an over-tunic of leather or heavy linen on
which were sewn flat rings or iron and a conical iron helmet
with nose cover. He wore a sword at his waist and a metal shield
on his back, or he wore his sword and his accompanying retainers
carried spear and shield.

Norman customs were adopted by the nation. As a whole,
Anglo-Saxon men shaved their beards and whiskers from their
faces, but they kept their custom of long hair flowing from
their heads. But a few kept their whiskers and beards in protest
of the Normans. Everyone had a permanent surname indicating
parentage, place of birth, or residence, such as Field, Pitt,
Lane, Bridge, Ford, Stone, Burn, Church, Hill, Brook, Green.
Other names came from occupations such as Shepherd, Carter,
Parker, Fowler, Hunter, Forester, Smith. Still other came from
personal characteristics such as Black, Brown, and White, Short,
Round, and Long. Some took their names from animals such as
Wolf, Fox, Lamb, Bull, Hogg, Sparrow, Crow, and Swan. Others
were called after the men they served, such as King, Bishop,
Abbot, Prior, Knight. A man's surname was passed on to his son.

The Normans washed their hands before and after meals and ate
with their fingers. Feasts were stately occasions with costly
tables and splendid apparel. There were practical jokes,
innocent frolics, and witty verbal debating with repartee.

Those few coerls whose land was not taken by a baron remained
free and held their land "in socage" and became known as

Great stone cathedrals were built in fortified towns for
William's Norman bishops, who replaced the English bishops. Most
of the existing and new monasteries functioned as training
grounds for scholars, bishops, and statesmen rather than as
retreats from the world's problems to the security of religious
observance. The number of monks grew as the best minds were
recruited into the monasteries.

William made the church subordinate to him. Bishops were elected
only subject to the King's consent. Homage was exacted from
them. William imposed knight's service on bishoprics, abbeys,
and monasteries, which was commuted to a monetary amount.
Bishops had to attend the King's court. Bishops could not leave
the realm without the King's consent. No royal tenant or royal
servant could be excommunicated, nor his lands be placed under
interdict, without the King's consent. Interdict could demand,
for instance, that the church be closed and the dead buried in
unconsecrated ground. No church rules could be made without his
agreement to their terms. No letters from the Pope could be
received without the King's permission.

Men continued to give land to the church for their souls, such as
this grant which started the town of Sandwich: "William, King of
the English, to Lanfranc the Archbishop and Hugoni de Montfort
and Richard son of Earl Gilbert and Haimo the sheriff and all the
thegns of Kent, French and English, greeting. Know ye that the
Bishop of Bayeux my brother for the love of God and for the
salvation of my soul and his own, has given to St. Trinity all
houses with their appurtances which he has at Sandwich and that
he has given what he has given by my license."

When the land was all divided out, the barons had about 3/7 of it
and the church 2/7. The King retained 2/7, including forests for
hunting, for himself and his household, on which he built many
royal castles and hundreds of manor houses throughout the
nation. He built the White Tower in London. He and his household
slept on the upper floors and there was a chapel on the second
floor and a dungeon below the first floor for prisoners. The
other castles were often built at the old fortification burhs of
Alfred. Barons and earls had castle-guard duty in them. William
was constantly moving about the land from castle to castle,
where he entertained his magnates and conducted public business,
such as deciding disputes about holding of land. Near these
castles and other of his property, he designated many areas as
royal hunting forests. Anyone who killed a deer in these forests
was mutilated, for instance by blinding. People living within
the boundaries of the designated forestland could no longer go
into nearby woods to get meat or honey, dead wood for firing, or
live wood for building. Swineherds could no longer drive pigs
into these woods to eat acorns they beat down from oak trees.
Making clearings and grazing livestock in the designated
forestland were prohibited. Most of the nation was either wooded
or bog at this time.

London was a walled town of one and two story houses made of mud,
twigs, and straw, with thatched roofs. There were churches, a
goods market, a fish market, quays on the river, and a bridge
over the river. Streets probably named by this time include
Bread Street, Milk Street, Honey Lane, Wood Street, and
Ironmonger Lane. Fairs and games were held outside the town
walls in a field called "Smithfield". The freemen were a small
percentage of London's population. There was a butchers' guild,
a pepperers' guild, a goldsmiths' guild, the guild of St.
Lazarus, which was probably a leper charity, the Pilgrims' guild,
which helped people going on pilgrimages, and four bridge
guilds, probably for keeping the wooden London Bridge in repair.
Men told the time by sundials, some of which were portable and
could be carried in one's pocket. London could defend itself,
and a ringing of the bell of St. Paul's Church could shut every
shop and fill the streets with armed horsemen and soldiers led
by a soldier port-reeve.

William did not interfere with landholding in London, but
recognized it's independence as a borough in this writ:
"William the King greets William, Bishop of London, and Gosfrith
the portreeve, and all the burgesses of London friendly. Know
that I will that you be worthy of all the laws you were worthy
of in the time of King Edward. And I will that every child shall
be his father's heir after his father's day. And I will not
suffer any man to do you wrong. God preserve you."

So London was not subjected to the Norman feudal system. It had
neither villeins nor slaves. Whenever Kings asserted authority
over it, the citizens reacted until the King "granted" a charter
reaffirming the freedoms of the city and its independence.

William's reign was a time of tentative expedients and simple
solutions. He administered by issuing writs with commands or
prohibitions. These were read aloud by the sheriffs in the
county courts and other locations. Administration was by the
personal servants of his royal household, such as the
Chancellor, steward, butler, chamberlain, and constable. The
constable was in charge of the knights of the royal household.
Under pressure from the ecclesiastical judges, William replaced
the death penalty by that of the mutilation of blinding,
chopping off hands, and castrating offenders. Castration was the
punishment for rape. But these mutilations usually led to a slow
death by gangrene.

The Normans used the Anglo-Saxon concepts of jurisdictional
powers. Thus when William confirmed "customs" to the abbot of
Ely, these were understood to include the following: 1) sac and
soke - the right to hold a court of private jurisdiction and
enjoy its profits, 2) toll - a payment in towns, markets, and
fairs for goods and chattel bought and sold, 3) team - persons
might be vouched to warranty in the court, the grant of which
made a court capable of hearing suits arising from the transfer
of land, 4) infangenthef - right of trying and executing thieves
on one's land, 4) hamsocne, 5) grithbrice - violation of the
grantees' special peace, for instance that of the sheriff, 6)
fihtwite - fine for a general breach of the peace, 7) fyrdwite -
fine for failure to appear in the fyrd [national militia].

Every shire had at least one burh, or defensible town. Kings had
appointed a royal moneyer in each to mint silver coins for local
use. On one side was the King's head in profile and on the other
side was the name of the moneyer. When a new coinage was issued,
all moneyers had to go to London to get the new dies. William's
head faced frontally on his dies, instead of the usual profile
used by former Kings.

William held and presided over his council three times a year, as
was the custom, at Easter, Christmas, and Whitsuntide. This was
an advisory council and consisted of earls, greater barons,
officers of the King's household, archbishops, and bishops. It's
functions were largely ceremonial. William's will was the motive
force which under lay all its action. When it was administering
royal justice, it was called the Royal Court. The justiciar was
the head of all legal matters and represented the King in his
absence from the realm. The Treasurer was responsible for the
collection and distribution of revenue. The Chancellor headed
the Chancery and the chapel.

Sheriffs became powerful figures as the primary agents for
enforcing royal edicts. They collected the royal taxes, executed
royal justice, and presided over and controlled the hundred and
shire courts. They also took part in the keeping of castles and
often managed the estates of the King. Most royal writs were
addressed to the sheriff and shire courts. They also led the
shire militia in time of war or rebellion.

Royal income came from customary dues, profits of coinage and of
justice, and revenues from the King's own estates. For war, a
man with five hides of land was required to furnish one
heavy-armed horseman for forty days service in a year. A threat
of a Viking invasion caused William to reinstitute the danegeld
tax. To impose this uniformly, he sent commissioners to conduct
surveys by sworn verdicts of appointed groups of local men. A
detailed survey of land holdings and the productive worth of
each was made in 1086. The English called it the "Doomsday Book"
because there was no appeal from it.

The survey revealed, for instance, that one estate had "on the
home farm five plough teams: there are also 25 villeins and 6
cotters with 14 teams among them. There is a mill worth 2s. a
year and one fishery, a church and four acres of meadow, wood
for 150 pigs and two stone quarries, each worth 2s. a year, and
two nests of hawks in the wood and 10 slaves." This estate was
deemed to be worth 480s. a year.

Laxton "had 2 carucates of land [assessed] to the geld. [There
is] land for 6 ploughs. There Walter, a man of [the lord]
Geoffrey Alselin's has 1 plough and 22 villeins and 7 bordars [a
bordar had a cottage and a small amount land in return for
supplying small provisions to his lord] having 5 ploughs and 5
serfs and 1 female serf and 40 acres of meadow. Wood [land] for
pannage [foraging by pigs] 1 league in length and half a league
in breadth. In King Edward's time it was worth 9 pounds; now [it
is worth] 6 pounds."

Ilbert de Laci has now this land, where he has twelve ploughs in
the demesne; and forty-eight villani, and twelve bordars with
fifteen ploughs, and three churches and three priests, and three
mills of ten shillings. Wood pastures two miles long, and one
broad. The whole manor five miles long and two broad. Value in
King Edward's time sixteen pounds, the same now.

That manor of the town of Coventry which was individually held
was that of the Countess of Coventry, who was the wife of the
earl of Mercia. "The Countess held in Coventry. There are 5
hides. The arable land employs 20 ploughs. In the demesne lands
there are 3 ploughs and 7 ploughs. In the demesne lands there are
3 ploughs and 7 bondmen. There are 50 villeins and 12 bordars
with 20 ploughs. The mill there pay[s] 3 shillings. The
woodlands are 2 miles long and the same broad. In King Edward's
time and afterwards, it was worth 22 pounds [440 s.], now only
11 pounds by weight. These lands of the Countess Godiva Nicholas
holds to farm of the King."

The survey shows a few manors and monasteries owned a salt-house
or salt-pit in the local saltworks, from which they were
entitled to obtain salt.

This survey resulted in the first national tax system of about
6s. per hide of land.

The survey also provided William with a summary of customs of
areas. For instance, in Oxfordshire, "Anyone breaking the King's
peace given under his hand and seal to the extent of committing
homicide shall be at the King's mercy in respect of his life and
members. That is if he be captured. And if he cannot be
captured, he shall be considered as an outlaw, and anyone who
kills him shall have all his possessions. The King shall take
the possessions of any stranger who has elected to live in
Oxford and who dies in possession of a house in that town, and
without any kinfolk. The King shall be entitled to the body and
the possessions of any man who kills another within his own
court or house excepting always the dower of his wife, if he has
a wife who has received dower.

The courts of the King and barons became schools of chivalry
wherein seven year old noble boys became as pages or valets,
wore a dagger and waited upon the ladies of the household. At
age fourteen, they were advanced to squires and admitted into
more familiar association with the knights and ladies of the
court. They perfected their skills in dancing, riding, fencing,
hawking, hunting and jousting. Before knighthood, they played
team sports in which one team tried to put the other team to
rout. A knight usually selected a wife from the court at which
he grew up.

These incidents of land tenure began (but were not firmly
established until the reign of Henry II). Each tenant, whether
baron or subtenant, had to pay an "aid" in money for ransom if
his lord was captured in war, for the knighthood of his lord's
eldest son, and for the marriage of his lord's eldest daughter.
Land could be held by an heir only if he could fight. The eldest
son began to succeed to the whole of the lands in all military
tenures. An heir of a tenant had to pay a heavy "relief" on
succession to his estate. If there was a delay in proving
heirship or paying relief, the lord would hold the land and
receive its income in the meantime, often a year. If an heir was
still a minor or female, he or she passed into his lord's
wardship, in which the lord had guardianship of the heir and
possession of the estate, with all its profits. A female heir was
expected to marry a man acceptable to the lord. The estate of an
heiress and her land was generally sold to the highest bidder.
If there were no heirs, the land escheated to the lord. If a
tenant committed felony, his land escheated to his lord.

Astrologers resided with the families of the barons. People went
to fortune tellers' shops. There was horse racing, steeple
races, and chess for recreation. Girls had dolls; boys had toy
soldiers, spinning tops, toy horses, ships, and wooden models.

The state of medicine is indicated by this medical advice brought
to the nation by William's son after treatment on the continent:

"If thou would have health and vigor Shun cares and avoid anger.
Be temperate in eating And in the use of wine. After a heavy meal
Rise and take the air Sleep not with an overloaded stomach And
above all thou must Respond to Nature when she calls."

Many free sokemen were caught up in the subjugation by baron
landlords and were reduced almost to the condition of the unfree
villein. The services they performed for their lords were often
indistinguishable. They might also hold their land by villein
tenure, although free as a person with the legal rights of a
free man. The free man still had a place in court proceedings
which the unfree villein did not.

William allowed Jewish traders to follow him from Normandy and
settle in separate sections of the main towns. They loaned money
for the building of castles and cathedrals. Christians were not
allowed by the church to engage in this usury. The Jews could
not become citizens nor could they have standing in the local
courts. Instead, a royal justiciar secured justice for them. The
Jews could practice their own religion. Only Jews could wear

William was succeeded as King by his son William II, who imposed
on many of the customs of the nation to get more money for

The Law

The Norman conquerors brought no written law, but affirmed the
laws of the nation. Two they especially enforced were:

Anyone caught in the act of digging up the King's road, felling a
tree across it, or attacking someone so that his blood spilled
on it shall pay a fine to the King.

All freemen shall have a surety who would hand him over to
justice for his offenses or pay the damages or fines due. Also,
the entire hundred was the ultimate surety for murder and would
have to pay a "murdrum" fine.

William made these decrees:

No cattle shall be sold except in towns and before three

For the sale of ancient chattels, there must be a surety and a

No man shall be sold over the sea. (This ended the slave trade at
the port of Bristol.)

The death penalty for persons tried by court is abolished.

Judicial Procedure

"Ecclesiastical" courts were created for bishops to preside over
issues concerning the cure of souls and criminal cases in which
the ordeal was used. When William did not preside over this
court, an appeal could be made to him.

The hundred and shire courts now sat without a bishop and handled
only "civil" cases. They were conducted by the King's own
appointed sheriff. Only freemen and not bound villeins had
standing in this court.

William held court or sent the justiciar or commissioners to hold
his Royal Court [Curia Regis] in the various districts. The
commissioner appointed groups of local men to give a collective
verdict upon oath for each trial he conducted. A person could
spend months trying to catch up with the Royal Court to present a

William allowed, on an ad hoc basis, certain high-level people
such as bishops and abbots and those who made a large payment,
to have land disputes decided by an inquiry of recognitors.

A dispute between a Norman and an English man over land or a
criminal act could be decided by trial by battle. Each combatant
first swore to the truth of his cause and undertook to prove by
his body the truth of his cause by making the other surrender by
crying "craven" [craving forgiveness]. The combatants used
weapons like pick-axes and shields. Presumably the man in the
wrong would not fight as well because he was burdened with a
guilty conscience. Although this trial was thought to reflect
God's will, it favored the physically fit and adept person.

London had its own traditions. All London citizens met at its
folkmoot, which was held three times a year to determine its
public officers, to raise matters of public concern, and to make
ordinances. It's criminal court had the power of outlawry as did
the shire courts. Trade, land, and other civil issues were dealt
with by the Hustings Court, which met every Monday in the
Guildhall. The city was divided into wards, each of which was
under the charge of an elected alderman [elder man]. (This was
not a popular election.) The aldermen had special knowledge of
the law and a duty to declare it at the Hustings Court. Each
alderman also conducted wardmoots in his ward and decided
criminal and civil issues between its residents. Within the
wards were the guilds of the city.

William made the hundred responsible for paying a murder fine for
the murder of any of his men, if the murderer was not
apprehended by his lord within a few days. The reaction to this
was that the murderer mutilated the corpse to make identification
of nationality impossible. So William ordered
that every murder victim was assumed to be Norman unless proven
English. This began a court custom in murder cases of first
proving the victim to be English.

The Royal Court decided this case: "At length both parties were
summoned before the King's court, in which there sat many of the
nobles of the land of whom Geoffrey, bishop of Coutances, was
delegated by the King's authority as judge of the dispute, with
Ranulf the Vicomte, Neel, son of Neel, Robert de Usepont, and
many other capable judges who diligently and fully examined the
origin of the dispute, and delivered judgment that the mill
ought to belong to St. Michael and his monks forever. The most
victorious King William approved and confirmed this decision."

Chapter 5

The Times: 1100-1154

King Henry I, son of William of Normandy, 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. Private wars were now
replaced by 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.
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 in Henry's absence. She was
literate and a literary patron. Her compassion was great and her
charities extensive. She founded a care-giving hospital and 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

[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 shires, shall henceforth
be levied, since it was not so levied in the time of King Edward
[the Confessor, before the Norman conquest]. 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 this 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 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. When it met for
financial purposes, Henry called it the Exchequer and it became
a separate body. It received yearly from the sheriffs of the
counties taxes, fines, treasure trove, goods from wrecks,
deodands, and movable property of felons, of persons executed,
of fugitives, and of outlaws due to the Crown. The payments in
kind, such as grain or manual services, from the royal demesnes
had been turned into money payments. This income from royal
estates was also 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 Chancellor managed the
domestic matters of the Crown's castles and lands. Henry brought
sheriffs under his strict control, free from influence by the

A woman could inherit a fief if she married. The primary way for
a man to acquire 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 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 and others, cottars and bordars, had there
own dwellings nearby.

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. Humble folk
also wore knee-length garments, with a band about the waist.

There was woodland, common pasture land, arable land, meadow
land, and wasteland on the 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, who worked the farm land as their ancestor ceorls
had, now were so bound to the land that they could not leave or
marry or sell an ox without their lord's consent. If the manor
was sold, the villein was sold as a part of the manor. 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. Life expectancy was probably below thirty-five.

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
helping in the lord's hunting expeditions and looking after his
hounds. 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.

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. At one end of the hut was the family living area, where
the family ate on a collapsible trestle table with stools or
benches and used drinking horns and wooden bowls and spoons,
along with jars and other earthenware. Their usual food was beans
and peas, and some bacon, butter, cheese, and vegetables, rough
bread made from a mixture of wheat, barley, and rye flour,
honey, and herrings or other salt fish. They drank water, milk,
buttermilk, apple cider, mead, ale made from barley malt, and
bean and vegetable broth. Cooking was done over a fire with iron
tripod, pots, and kettle. Most of the food was boiled. 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 perhaps stalled oxen. Around the room are a
couple of chests to store salt, meal, flour, a broom made of
birch trigs, 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. If they wore shoes, they were clumsy and
patched. Some wore a hood-like cap. At the other end of the hut
were the horses, cattle, pigs, and poultry. In the middle is a
wood fire burning on a hearthstone. The smoke rises through a
hole in the roof.

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. 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, who
made the cloth full and dense by washing, soaping, beating, and
agitating it. Then its surface could be raised with teazle-heads
and cropped or sheared to make a nap. Some cloth was sold to
tailors to make into clothes. 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 waggons. Smiths and
locksmiths worked over their hot fires.

The nation grew with the increase of population, the development
of towns, and the growing mechanization of craft industries.
There were watermills for crafts in all parts of the nation.
There were also some iron furnaces.

Stone bridges over rivers could accommodate one person traveling
by foot or by horseback and were steep and narrow.

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.
These various rights were typically expanded in future times.
Such a town was called a "borough" and its citizens or
landholding freemen "burgesses". They were literate enough to do
accounts. Selling wholesale could take place only in a borough.
The King assessed a tallage [ad hoc tax] usually at ten per cent
of property or income. Henry standardized the yard as the length
of his own arm.

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 drugs], drapers,
and pepperers, which later merged with the spicerers to become
the "grocers". 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.

London in Middlesex county received this charter for
self-government and freedom from the financial and judicial
organization of the shire:

"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

  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 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 plead 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.

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 given royal
sanction. 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.

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

[1] 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

[2] A burgess cannot distrain upon a burgess without the leave of
the reeve.

[3] 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.

[4] Pleas which arise in the borough shall be held and concluded
there, except pleas of the Crown.

[5] If any burgess be appealed [sued] of any plaint, he shall not
plead without the borough, unless for default of [the borough]

[6] 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.

[7] If a ship have put in at Tynemouth and wishes to depart, the
burgesses may buy what they will [from it].

[8] If a plea arise between a burgess and a merchant, it shall be
concluded before the third ebb of the tide.

[9] Whatever merchandise a ship has brought by sea must be
landed, except salt; and herring ought to be sold in the ship.

[10] 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.

[11] If a burgess have a son, he shall be included in his
father's freedom if he be with his father.

[12] 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.

[13] If any man appeal [sue] a burgess of any thing, he cannot do
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 battle.

[14] Neither can a burgess do battle against a foreigner, unless
he first go out of the borough.

[15] 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.

[16] If a burgess incur forfeit, he shall give six ounces [10s.]
to the reeve.

[17] 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].

[18] Every burgess may have his own oven and hand-mill if he
will, saving the right of the King's oven.

[19] 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

[20] No one but a burgess may buy webs [woven fabrics just taken
off the loom] to dye, nor make nor cut them.

[21] A burgess may give and sell his land and go whither he will
freely and quietly unless there be a claim against him."

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.

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.

The nation produced sufficient iron, but a primitive steel [iron
with carbon added] was imported. Steel was used for tools,
instruments, weapons and armor. Ships could carry about 300

Plays about miracles wrought by holy men or the sufferings and
fortitude of martyrs were performed. 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.

Forests were still retained by Kings for their hunting of boars
and stags. The bounds of the Forest were enlarged. They
comprised almost one-third of the kingdom.

Barons and their tenants and sub-tenants were offered an
alternative of paying shield money ["scutage"] of 26s.8d. per
fee in commutation for and instead of military service for their
fiefs. This enabled Henry to hire soldiers who would be more
directly under his own control and to organize a more efficient

A substantial number of barons and monasteries were heavily in
debt to the Jews. The King taxed the Jews at will.

During rivalry for the throne after Henry I's reign, the bishops
gained some independence from the Crown and strengthened their
ties with the Pope.

The Law

Henry restored the death penalty for thievery and robbery, but
maintained William I's punishment of the mutilation of blinding
and severing of limbs for other offenses.

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 free man,
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

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

There are legal maxims which are becoming so well established and
known that there will never be a need to write them down as
statutes. As delineated by St. Germain in "Doctor and Student"
in 1518, they are:

1. If a man steals goods to the value of 12d., or above, it is
felony, and he shall die for it. If it is under the value of
12d., then it is but petit larceny, and he shall not die for it,
but shall be punished at the discretion of the judges. This not
apply to goods taken from the person, which is robbery, a felony
punishable by death.

2. If an exigent, in case of felony, is awarded against a man, he
has thereby forthwith forfeited his goods to the King.

3. If the son is attainted [convicted of treason or felony with
the death penalty and forfeiture of all lands and goods] in the
life of the father, and after he purchases his charter of pardon
of the King, and after the father dies; in this case the land
shall escheat to the lord of the fee, insomuch that though he
has a younger brother, yet the land shall not descend to him: for
by the attainder of the elder brother the blood is corrupt, and
the father-in-law died without heir.

4. A man declared outlaw forfeits his profits from land and his
goods to the King.

5. He who is arraigned upon an indictment of felony shall be
admitted, in favor of life, to challenge the number of inquirers
for three whole inquests peremptorily. With cause, he may
challenge as many as he has cause to challenge. Such peremptory
challenge shall not be admitted in a private suit because it is
a suit of the party.

6. An accessory shall not be put to answer before the principal.

7. If a man commands another to commit a trespass, and he does
it, the one who made the command is a trespasser.

8. The land of every man is in the law enclosed from other,
though it lies in the open field and a trespasser in it may be
brought to court.

9. Every man is bound to make recompense for such hurt as his
beasts do in the growing grain or grass of his neighbor, though
he didn't know that they were there.

10. He who has possession of land, though it is by disseisin, has
right against all men but against him who has right.

11. The rents, commons of pasture, of turbary [digging turf],
reversions, remainders, nor such other things which lie not in
manual occupation, may not be given or granted to another
without writing.

12. If a villein purchase lands, and the lord enter, he shall
enjoy the land as his own. But if the villein alienates before
the lord enters, he alienation is good. And the same law is of

13. Escuage [shield service for 40 days] uncertain makes knight's
service. Escuage certain makes socage.

14. He who holds by castle-guard, holds by knight's service, but
he does not hold by escuage. He that holds by 20s. to the guard
of a castle holds by socage.

15. A descent takes away an entry.

16. No prescription [assertion of a right or title to the
enjoyment of a thing, on the ground of having had the
uninterrupted and immemorial enjoyment of it] in lands makes a

17. A prescription of rent and profits out of land makes a right.

18. The limitation of a prescription generally taken is from the
time that no man's mind runs to the contrary.

19. Assigns may be made upon lands given in fee, for term of
life, or for term of years, though no mention be made of
assigns; and the same law is of a rent that is granted; but
otherwise it is of a warranty, and of a covenant.

20. He who recovers debt or damages in the King's court when the
person charged is not in custody, may within a year after the
judgment take the body of the defendant, and commit him to
prison until he has paid the debt and damages.

21. If a release or confirmation is made to him who, at the time
of the release made, had nothing in the land, the release or
confirmation is void, except in certain cases, such as to vouch.

22. A condition to avoid a freehold cannot be pleaded without a
deed; but to avoid a gift of chattel, it may be pleaded without

23. A release or confirmation made by him, that at the time of
the release or confirmation made had no right, is void in law,
though a right comes to him after; except if it is with
warranty, and then it shall bar him to all right that he shall
have after the warranty is made.

24. If land and rent that is going out of the same land, comes
into one man's hand of like estate, and like surety of title,
the rent is extinct.

25. If land descends to him who has right to the same land
before, he shall be remitted to his better title, if he will.

26. If two titles are concurrent together, the oldest title shall
be preferred.

27. If a real action be sued against any man who has nothing in
the thing demanded, the writ shall abate at the common law.

28. If the demandant or plaintiff, hanging his writ, will enter
into the thing demanded, his writ shall abate.

29. By the alienation of the tenant, hanging the writ, or his
entry into religion, or if he is made a knight, or she is a
woman, and takes a husband hanging the writ, the writ shall not

30. A right or title of action that only depends in action,
cannot be given or granted to none other but only to the tenant
of the ground, or to him who has the reversion or remainder of
the same land.

31. In an action of debt upon an agreement, the defendant may
wage his law: but otherwise it is upon a lease of lands for term
of years, or at will.

32. The King may disseise no man and no man may disseise the
King, nor pull any reversion or remainder out of him.

33. The King's excellency is so high in the law, that no freehold
may be given to the King, nor be derived from him, but by matter
of record.

34. If an abbot or prior, an abbot's chief assistant, alienate
the lands of his house, and dies, though his successor has right
to the lands, yet he may not enter, but he must take legal

35. If an abbot buys a thing that comes to the use of the house,
and dies, then his successor shall be charged.

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 required 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 contracts were deemed invalid. Villeins and slaves
could marry without their lords' or owners' permission. A couple
living together could be deemed married. Relatives descended from
the same great great grandfather could not marry, nor could
relatives by marriage of the same degree of closeness. A legal
separation could be given for adultery, cruelty, or heresy.
Fathers were usually ordered to provide some sustenance and
support for their illegitimate children. The court punished
infanticide and abortion.

Judicial Procedure

Courts extant now are the Royal Court, the King's Court of the
Exchequer, shire courts, and hundred courts, which were under
the control of the King. His appointed justices administered
justice in these courts on regular circuits. Also there are
manor courts, borough courts, and ecclesiastical courts.

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 judge.
Trial is still by compurgation.

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.

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.

Henry began the use of writs to intervene in civil matters. These
writs allowed people to come to the Royal Court on certain
issues. He had some locally based justices, called justiciars.
Also, he sent justices out on eyres [journeys],with wide
responsibilities, to hear and decide all manner of Crown pleas.
This brought royal authority into the localities and served to
check baronial power over the common people. He created the
office of chief justiciar, which carried out judicial and
administrative functions.

The Royal Court also decided land disputes between barons. 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.

Records of the verdicts of the Royal Court were sent with
traveling justices for use as precedent in shire and hundred

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. It was called the "Exchequer" because it used a
chequered cloth on the table to facilitate calculation in Roman
numerals of the amount due and the amount paid. It's 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 shire and hundred courts assessed the personal property of
individuals and their taxes due to the King. The shire court
decided land disputes between people who had different barons as
their respective lords.

The Crown used its superior coercive power to enforce the legal
decisions of other courts.

The shire courts heard cases of theft, brawling, beating, and
wounding, for which the penalties could be exposure in the
pillory or stocks where the public could scorn and hit the
offender. It met twice yearly. If an accused failed to appear
after four successive shire 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 heard neighborhood disputes, for instance
concerning pastures, meadows and harvests. It policed the duty
of frankpledge, which was required for those who did not have a
lord to answer for him. It met once a month.

The free landholders were expected to attend shire, hundred, and
baronage courts. They owed "suit" to it. The suitors found the
dooms [laws] by which the presiding officer pronounced the

The barons held court on their manors 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. They also made the decision of whether or not a person
was a villein or free. 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 pleaders to advise them and
to speak for them in a court.

The ecclesiastical courts dealt with family matters such as
marriage, annulments, marriage portions, legitimacy,
wife-beating, child abuse, orphans, bigamy, adultery, incest,
fornication, personal possessions, slander, usury, mortuaries,
sanctuary, 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. It 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 by compurgation.
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. They 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 the only people he could speak to were his spouse
and servants. Excommunication included denial of the sacraments
of baptism, penance, eucharist, and extreme unction at death;
which were necessary for salvation of the soul; and the
sacrament of confirmation. However, the person could still marry
and make a will. Excommunication was usually imposed for failure
to obey an order or showing contempt of the law or of the courts.
It required a due process 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. 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.

Chapter 6

The Times: 1154-1215

King Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who was twelve years older, were
both intelligent, educated, energetic, well-traveled, and
experienced in affairs of state. Henry was the first Norman King
to be fully literate. Eleanor often served as regent during
Henry's reign and the reigns of their two sons: Richard, the
Lion-Hearted, and John. Henry II was a modest, courteous, and
patient man with an astonishing memory and strong personality.
He was indifferent to rank and impatient of pomp to the point of
being careless about his appearance. He usually dressed in
riding clothes and was often unkempt. He was thrifty, but
generous to the poor.

Henry revived and augmented the laws and institutions of his
grandfather, Henry I, and developed them to a new perfection.
Almost all legal and fiscal institutions appear in their first
effective form during his reign. For instance, he
institutionalized the assize for a specific function in judicial
proceedings, whereas before it had been an ad hoc body used for
various purposes.

Henry's government practiced a strict economy and he never
exploited the growing wealth of the nation. He abhorred
bloodshed and the sacrifice of men's lives. So he strove
diligently to keep the peace, when possible by gifts of money,
but otherwise with armed force. Foreign merchants with precious
goods could journey safely through the land from fair to fair.
These fairs were usually held in the early fall, after
sheep-shearing and harvesting. Frankpledge was revived. No
stranger could stay overnight (except for one night in a
borough), unless sureties were given for his good behavior. A
list of such strangers was to be given to itinerant judges.

Henry had character and the foresight to build up a centralized
system of government that would survive him. He learned about
the shires' and villages' varying laws and customs. Then, using
the model of Roman law, he gave to English institutions that
unity and system which in their casual patch-work development
had been lacking. Henry's government and courts forged permanent
direct links between the King and his subjects which cut through
the feudal structure of lords and vassals.

He developed the methods and structure of government so that
there was a great increase in the scope of administrative
activity without a concurrent increase of personal power of the
officials who discharged it. The government was self- regulating,
with methods of accounting and control which meant that no
official, however exalted, could entirely escape the
surveillance of his colleagues and the King. At the same time,
administrative and judicial procedures were perfected so that
much which had previously required the King's personal attention
was reduced to routine.

The royal household translated the royal will into action. In the
early 1100s, there had been very little machinery of central
government that was not closely associated with the royal
household. Royal government was largely built upon what had once
been purely domestic offices. Kings had called upon their
chaplains to pen letters for them. By Henry II's reign, the
Chancery was a highly efficient writing office through which the
King's will was expressed in a flow of writs, and the Chancellor
an important and highly rewarded official, but he was still
responsible for organizing the services in the royal chapel.
Similarly, the chamberlains ran the household's financial
departments. They arranged to have money brought in from a
convenient castle-treasury, collected money from sheriffs or the
King's debtors, arranged loans with the usurers, and supervised
the spending of it. It was spent for daily domestic needs, the
King's almsgiving, and the mounting of a military campaign. But
they were still responsible for personal attendance upon the
King in his privy chamber, taking care of his valuable furs,
jewels, and documents, and changing his bedlinens. There were
four other departments of the household. The steward presided
over the hall and kitchens and was responsible for supplying the
household and guests with food supplies. The butler had duties
in the hall and cellars and was responsible for the supply of
wine and ale. The marshall arranged lodgings for the King's
court as it moved about from palaces to hunting lodges, arranged
the pay of the household servants, and supervised the work of
ushers, watchmen, fire-tenders, messengers and huntsmen. The
constable organized the bodyguard and escorts, arranged for the
supply of castles, and mustered the royal army.

Henry brought order and unity by making the King's Royal Court
the common court of the land. Its purpose was to guard the
King's peace by protecting all people of free status throughout
the nation and correct the disparity in punishments given by
local courts. Heretofore, the scope of the King's peace had
varied to as little as the King's presence, his land, and his
highway. The royal demesne had shrunk to about 5% of the land.
The Common Law for all the nation was established by example of
the King's Royal Court.

A system of writs originated well-defined actions in the royal
courts. This system determined the Royal Court's jurisdiction as
against the church, lords, and sheriffs. It limited the
jurisdiction of all other courts and subordinated them to the
Royal Court. Inquests into any misdeeds of sheriffs were held,
which could result in their dismissal.

Before Henry's reign, the church had become more powerful and
asserted more authority. Henry tried to return to the concept of
the King being appointed by God and as he head of the church as
well as of the state, as in Henry I's time. Toward this end, he
published the Constitutions of Clarendon. But the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Thomas Becket, refused to agree to them. The
disageement came to a head in Henry's attempt to establish the
principle of "one law to all" by having church clerics punished
by the civil courts as before, instead of having "benefit of
clergy" to be tried only in ecclesiastical courts, even for
secular crimes. Clerics composed about one-sixth the population.
The church courts had characteristically punished with a fine or
a penance, and at most defrocking, and never imposed a death
penalty, even for murder. When Archbishop Becket was murdered
and became a martyr, "benefit of clergy" became a standard right.
Appeals could be made to the Pope without the King's permission.
The King could take a criminal cleric's chattels, but not his
life. However, though theoretically the bishops were elective,
as a practical matter, the King appointed the bishops and the

Henry and Eleanor spoke many languages and liked discussing law,
philosophy, and history. So they gathered wise and learned man
about them, who became known as courtiers, rather than people of
social rank. They lived in the great and strong Tower of London,
which had been extended as had other castles, so that the whole
castle and grounds were defended instead of just the main
building. On the west were two strongly fortified castles
surrounded by a high and deeply entrenched wall, which had seven
double gates. Towers were spaced along the north wall and the
Thames River flowed below the south wall. To the west was the
city, where royal friends had residences with adjoining gardens
near the royal palace at Westminster. The court was a center of
culture as well as of government. The game of backgammon was
played. People wore belts with buckles, usually brass, instead
of knotting their belts.

London extended about a mile along the river and about half a
mile inland. Most of its houses were two stories, the ground
floor having booths and workshops, and the upper floor living
space. Most of the houses were wooden structures. The richer
merchants' and knights' houses were built of stone. Walls between
houses had to be stone and thatched roofs were banned because
there had been many fires. So roofs were tiled with red-brick
tiles. There were over a hundred churches in the city, which
celebrated feast days, gave alms and hospitality to strangers,
confirmed betrothals, contracted marriages, celebrated weddings,
conducted funerals, and buried the dead. Fish and no meat was
eaten on Fridays and during lent. There was dark rye bread and
expensive white wheat bread. Vegetables included onions, leeks,
and cabbage. Fruits included apples, pears, plums, cherries, and
strawberries. Water was obtained from streams running through
the town to the river and from springs. There were craft guilds
of bakers, butchers, clothworkers, and saddlers, as well as of
weavers. Vendors, craftsmen, and laborers had their customary
places, which they took up every morning. Some vendors walked
the streets announcing their wares for sale.

In London, bells heralded the start and finish of all organized
business. At sunset, the gates of the town were closed for the
night. Only the rich could afford wax candles; others had
home-made tallow or fat lights which smelled and gave off smoke.
Most people washed their bodies. Few babies survived childhood.
If a man reached 30, he could expect to live until age 50. The
sellers of merchandise and hirers of labor were distributed
every morning into their several localities according to their
trade. Outside one of the gates, a horse market was held every
week. They wore horseshoes made of iron or of a crude steel. In
other fields, countryfolk sold pigs, cows, oxen and sheep. London
Bridge was built of stone for the first time. It was supported by
a series of stone arches standing on small man-made islands. It
had such a width that a row of wood houses and a chapel was
built on top of it. In the spring it was impassable by ships
because the flow of water under it varied in height on either
side of the bridge by several feet at half tide.

Men began weaving cloth, which formerly had been done by women.
Some of the cloth was exported.

The weavers guild of London received a charter by the King in
1155, the first granted to any London craft: "Know that I have
conceded to the Weavers of London to hold their guild in London
with all the liberties and customs which they had in the time of
King Henry [I], my grandfather; and that none may intermeddle
with the craft within the city, nor in Southwark, nor in other
places pertaining to London except through them and except he be
in their guild, otherwise than was accustomed to be done in the
time of King Henry, my grandfather ...So that each year they
render thence to me two marks [26s.8d.] of gold at the feast of
St. Michael. And I forbid that any shall do injury or contumely
to them on this account under penalty of 10 pounds [200s.].
Witness T[homas], Chancellor, and Warinus, son of Gerard,
Chamberlain, at Winchester." The liberties obtained were: 1) The
weavers may elect bailiffs to supervise the work of the craft, to
punish defaulters, and to collect the ferm [amount owed to the
King]. The bailiffs were chosen from year to year and swore
before the mayor of London to do and keep their office well and
truly. 2) The bailiffs may hold court from week to week on pleas
of debt, agreements, covenants, and minor trespasses. 3) If any
of the guild members are sued in any other court on any of the
above pleas, the guild may challenge that plea to bring it to
the guild court. 4) If any member is behind in his share of the
payment to the King, the bailiffs may distrain his loom until he
has paid this.

Paying an annual payment freed the weavers from liability to
inconsequent royal fines. Failure to make this payment promptly
might have led to loss of the right, hence the rigorous penalty
of distraint upon the looms of individual weavers who fell into

The weavers' guild punished members who used bad thread in their
weaving or did defective weaving by showing the default to the
mayor, with opportunity for the workman to make entreaty, and
the mayor and twelve members of the guild then made a verdict of
amercement of 1/2 mark [6s. 8d.] and the workman of the cloth
was also punished by the guild bailiffs according to guild

The weavers' guild tradition of brotherliness among members meant
that injury to a fellow weaver incurred a severe penalty. If a
weaver stole or eloigned [removed them to a distance where they
were unreachable] any other weaver's goods falsely and
maliciously, then he was dismissed from the guild and his loom
was taken by the guild to fulfill his portion of the annual
payment to the King. The weavers were allowed to buy and to sell
in London freely and quietly. They had all the rights of other
freemen of the city.

Thus from the middle of the 1100s A.D., the weavers enjoyed the
monopoly of their craft, rights of supervision which ensured a
high standard of workmanship, power to punish infractions of
their privileges, and full control of their members. In this
they stand as the prototype of English medieval guilds. These
rights represented the standard which all bodies of craftsmen
desired to attain. The right of independent jurisdiction was

On the north side of the city was a great forest with fields and
wells where students and other young men from the city took
walks in the fresh evening air. Vendors on the river bank sold
cooked fish caught from the river and wine from ships and wine

London's chief magistrate was the port-reeve, who was appointed
by the King, until 1191. Then the port-reeve was replaced by a
mayor, who was elected yearly by the city wards. Each ward was
headed by an alderman and there were city sheriffs and
councilors. The mayors were typically rich merchant princes.
There were three ways to become a citizen of London: being the
son of a citizen, apprenticeship in a craft for seven years, and
purchase of citizenship. London growth led to its replacing
Winchester as the capital. Over its history, it generally chose
or elected its own mayor every year. (This was not a popular
election.) But there were many periods when royal authority was
asserted over it.

St. Barthomew hospital was established in London for the care of
sick pilgrims traveling to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury.

Trading was facilitated by the stabilization of the amount of
silver metallic content of the English coinage, which was called
"sterling" [strong] silver. The compass assisted the navigation
of ships and London became a major trading center for foreign
goods from many lands.

About 5% of the knights were literate. Wealthy men sent their
sons to school in monasteries to prepare them for a livelihood
in a profession or in trade or to the town of Oxford, whose
individual teachers had attracted disciples for a long time.
These schools grew up around St. Mary's Church, but had not been
started by the church as there was no cathedral school in
Oxford. Oxford had started as a burh and had a royal residence
and many tradesmen. It was given its basic charter in 1155 by
the King. This confirmed to it all the customs, laws and
liberties [rights] as those enjoyed by London. If became a model
charter for other towns.

Bachelors at Oxford studied the arts of grammar, rhetoric, and
logic, and then music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy,
until they mastered their discipline and therefore were
authorized to teach it. Teaching would then provide an income
sufficient to support a wife. The master of arts was analogous to
the master craftsman of a guild. From 1190, the civil law was
studied, and shortly thereafter, canon law. Later came the study
of medicine. The use of paper supplemented the use of parchment
for writing. Irregular edged paper was made from linen, cotton,
straw, and/or wood beaten to a pulp and then spread out over a
wire mesh to dry.

In this era, the English national race and character was formed.
Stories of good King Arthur were popular and set ideals for
behavior and justice in an otherwise barbaric age where force
was supreme. His last battle in which he lay wounded and told a
kinsman to rule in his place and uphold his laws was written in
poem ("Layamon's Brut"). Romantic stories were written and read
in English.

The only people distinguishable as Anglo-Saxon by their look and
speech were manor villeins who worked the farm land, who
composed over half the population. Intermarriage had destroyed
any distinction of Normans by look or speech alone. Although the
villeins could not buy their freedom or be freed by their lord,
they became less numerous because of the preference of
landholders for tenants motivated to perform work by potential
loss of tenure. Also, the Crown's protection of all its subjects
in criminal matters blurred the distinction between free and
unfree men.

The boroughs were dominated by lords of local manors, who usually
had a house in the borough. Similarly, burgesses usually had
farmland outside the borough. Many boroughs were granted the
right to have a common seal for the common business of the town.
Each borough was represented by twelve reputable burgesses. Each
vill was represented by a reeve and four reputable men. Certain
towns sponsored great seasonal fairs for special goods, such as
cloth. Less than 5% of the population lived in towns. Some
windmills were used.

London guilds of craftsmen such as weavers, fullers, bakers,
loriners (makers of bit, spurs, and metal mountings of bridles
and saddles), cordwainers (makers of leather goods such as
shoes), pepperers, and goldsmiths were licensed by the King, for
which they paid him a yearly fee. There were also five Bridge
Guilds (probably raising money for the future construction of
London Bridge in stone) and St. Lazarus' Guild. The wealthy
guilds, which included the goldsmiths, the pepperers, and three
bridge guilds had landholding members who had been thegnes or
knights and now became a class of royal officials: the King's
minters, his chamberlain, his takers of wines, his collectors of

Sandwich was confirmed in its port rights by this charter:
"Henry II to his sheriff and bailiffs of Kent, greeting. I will
and order that the monks of the Holy Trinity of Canterbury shall
have fully all those liberties and customs in Sandwich which
they had in the time of King Henry my grandfather, as it was
adjudged in pursuance of his command by the oath of twelve men of
Dover and twelve men of Sandwich, to wit, that the aforesaid
monks ought to have the port and the toll and all maritime
customs in the same port, on either side of the water from
Eadburge-gate as far as markesfliete and a ferry-boat for
passage. And no man has there any right except they and their
ministers. Wherefore I will and firmly command you and the men
of Sandwich that ye cause the aforesaid monks to have all their
customs both in the port and in the town of Sandwich, and I
forbid any from vexing them on this account." "And they shall
have my firm peace."

Henry gave this charter to the town of Bristol in 1164: "Know ye,
that I have granted to my burgesses of Bristol, that they shall
be quit both of toll [a reasonable sum of money or portion of
the thing sold, due to the owner of the fair or market on the
sale of things tollable therein. It was claimed by the lord of
the fee where the fair or market was held, by virtue of a grant
from the Crown either ostensible or presumed] and passage [money
paid for crossing a river or for crossing the sea as might be
due to the Crown] and all custom [customary payments] throughout
my whole land of England, Normandy, and Wales, wherever they
shall come, they and their goods. Wherefore I will and strictly
command, that they shall have all their liberties and
acquittances and free customs fully and honorable, as my free
and faithful men, and that they shall be quit of toll and
passage and of every other customs: and I forbid any one to
disturb them on this account contrary to this my charter, on
forfeiture of ten pounds [200s.]."

John, when he was an earl and before he became King, granted
these liberties to Bristol about 1188:

1) No burgess may sue or be sued out of Bristol.

2) The burgesses are excused from the murder fine (imposed by the
King or lord from the hundred or town where the murder was
committed when the murderer had not been apprehended).

3) No burgess may wage duel, unless sued for death of a stranger.

4) No one may take possession of a lodging house by assignment
or by livery of the Marshall of the Earl of Gloucester against
the will of the burgesses (so that the town would not be
responsible for the good behavior of a stranger lodging in the
town without first accepting the possessor of the lodging house).

5) No one shall be condemned in a matter of money, unless
according to the law of the hundred, that is, forfeiture of 40s.

6) The hundred court shall be held only once a week.

7) No one in any plea may argue his cause in miskenning.

8) They may lawfully have their lands and tenures and mortgages
and debts throughout my whole land, [from] whoever owes them

9) With regard to debts which have been lent in Bristol, and
mortgages theremade, pleas shall be held in the town according
to the custom of the town.

10) If any one in any other place in my land shall take toll of
the men of Bristol, if he does not restore it after he is
required to, the Prepositor of Bristol may take from him a
distress at Bristol, and force him to restore it.

11) No stranger-tradesman may buy within the town from a man who
is a stranger, leather, grain, or wool, but only from a burgess.

12) No stranger may have a shop, including one for selling wine,
unless in a ship, nor shall sell cloth for cutting except at the

13) No stranger may remain in the town with his goods for the
purpose of selling his goods, but for forty days.

14) No burgess may be confined or distrained any where else
within my land or power for any debt, unless he is a debtor or
surety (to avoid a person owed a debt from distraining another
person of the town of the debtor).

15) They shall be able to marry themselves, their sons, their
daughters and their widows, without the license of their lords.
(Lords had the right of preventing their tenants and mesne lords
and their families from marrying without his consent.)

16) No one of their lords shall have the wardship or the disposal
of their sons or daughters on account of their lands out of the
town, but only the wardship of their tenements which belong to
their own fee, until they become of age.

17) There shall be no recognition [acknowledgement that something
done by another person in one's name had one's authority] in the

18) No one shall take tyne [wooden barrel with a certain quantity
of ale, payable by the townsmen to the constable for the use of
the castle] unless for the use of the lord Earl, and that
according to the custom of the town.

19) They may grind their grain wherever they may choose.

20) They may have their reasonable guilds, as well or better than
they had themin the time of Robert and his son William [John's
wife's grandfather and father, who were earls of Gloucester when
the town and castle of Bristol were part of the honor of

21) No burgess may be compelled to bail any man, unless he
himself chooses it, although he may be dwelling on his land.

We have also granted to them all their tenures, messuages, in
copses, in buildings on the water or elsewhere to be held in
free burgage [tenant to pay only certain fixed services or
payments to his lord, but not military service (like free
socage)]. We have granted also that any of them may make
improvements as much as he can in erecting buildings anywhere on
the bank and elsewhere, as long as the borough and town are not
damaged thereby. Also, they shall have and possess all waste
land and void grounds and places, to be built on at their

Newcastle-on-Tyne's taxes were simplified in 1175 as follows:

"Know ye that I have granted and by this present charter have
confirmed to my burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne, and to all
their things which they can assure to be their own, acquittance
from toll and passage and pontage and from the Hanse and from
all other customs throughout all my land. And I prohibit all
persons from vexing or disturbing them therein upon forfeiture to

We grant to our upright men on Newcastle-on-Tyne and their heirs
our town of Newcastle-on-Tyne with all its appurtances at fee
farm for 100 pounds to be rendered yearly to us and our heirs at
our Exchequer by their own hand at the two terms, to wit, at
Easter 50 pounds and at Michaelmas 50 pounds, saving to us our
rents and prizes and assizes in the port of the same town.

Ranulph, earl of Chester, made grants to his burgesses of
Coventry by this charter: "That the aforesaid burgesses and
their heirs may well and honorably quietly and in free burgage
hold of me and my heirs as ever in the time of my father and
others of my ancestors they have held better more firmly and
freer. In the second place I grant to them all the free and good
laws which the burgesses of Lincoln have better and freer. I
prohibit and forbid my constables to draw them into the castle
to plead for any cause, but they may freely have their portimote
[leet court] in which all pleas belonging to me and them may be
justly treated of. Moreover they may choose from themselves one
to act for me whom I approve, who a justice under me and over
them may know the laws and customs, and keep them to my counsel
in all things reasonable, every excuse put away, and may
faithfully perform to me my rights. If any one happen to fall
into my amercement he may be reasonably fined by my bailiff and
the faithful burgesses of the court. Furthermore, whatever
merchants they have brought with them for the improvement of the
town, I command that they have peace, and that none do them
injury or unjustly send them into court. But if any foreign
merchant shall have done anything improper in the town that same
may be regulated in the portimote before the aforesaid justice
without a suit at law."

Henry confirmed this charter of the earl's by 1189 as follows: I
have confirmed all the liberties and free customs the earl of
Chester granted to them, namely, that the same burgesses may
well and honorably hold in free burgage, as ever in the time of
the father of the beforesaid earl, or other of his ancestors,
they may have better or more firmly held; and they may have all
the laws and customs which the citizens of Lincoln have better
and freer [e.g. their merchant guilds; all men brought to trade
may be subject to the guild customs and assize of the town;
those who lawfully hold land in the town for a year and a day
without question and are able to prove that an accuser has been
in the kingdom within the year without finding fault with them,
from thence may hold the land well and in peace without
pleading; those who have remained in the town a year and a day
without question, and have submitted to the customs of the town
and the citizens of the town are able to show through the laws
and customs of the town that the accuser stood forth in the
kingdom, and not a fault is found of them, then they may remain
in peace in the town without question]; and that the constable of
the aforesaid earl shall not bring them into the castle to plead
in any case. But they may freely have their own portmanmote in
which all pleas appertaining to the earl and to them may be
justly treated of. Moreover they may choose one from themselves
to act for the earl, whom I approve, who may be a justice under
the earl and over them, and who to the earl may faithfully
perform his rights, and if anyone happen to fall into the earl's
forfeiture he shall be acquit for 12 pence. If by the testimony
of his neighbors he cannot pay 12 pence coins, by their advice
it shall be so settled as he is able to pay, and besides, with
other acquittances, that the burgesses shall not provide anything
in corrody [allowance in food] or otherwise whether for the
said earl or his men, unless upon condition that their chattels
shall be safe, and so rendered to them.

Furthermore, whatever merchants they have brought with them for
the improvement of the town they may have peace, and none shall
do them injury or unjustly send them into suit at law. But if
any foreign merchant has done anything improper in the town that
shall be amended [or tried] in the portmanmote before the
aforesaid justice without a suit. And they who may be newcomers
into the town, from the day on which they began to build in the
town for the space of two years shall be acquit of all charges.

Mercantile privileges were granted to the shoemakers in Oxford
thus: "Know ye that I have granted and confirmed to the corvesars
of Oxford all the liberties and customs which they had in the
time of King Henry my grandfather, and that they have their
guild, so that none carry on their trade in the town of Oxford,
except he be of that guild. I grant also that the cordwainers who
afterwards may come into the town of Oxford shall be of the same
guild and shall have the same liberties and customs which the
corvesars have and ought to have. For this grant and
confirmation, however, the corvesars and cordwainers ought to
pay me every year an ounce of gold."

A guild merchant for wool dominated and regulated the wool trade
in many boroughs. In Leicester, only guildsmen were permitted to
buy and sell wool wholesale to whom they pleased or to wash
their fells in borough waters. Certain properties, such as those
near running water, essential to the manufacture of wool were
maintained for the use of guild members. The waterwheel was a
technological advance replacing human labor whereby the cloth was
made more compact and thick, "fulled". The waterwheel turned a
shaft which lifted hammers to pound the wet cloth in a trough.
Wool packers and washers could work only for guild members. The
guild fixed wages, for instance to wool wrappers and flock
pullers. Strangers who brought wool to the town for sale could
sell only to guild members. A guildsman could not sell wool
retail to strangers nor go into partnership with a man outside
the guild. Each guild member had to swear the guildsman's oath,
pay an entrance fee, and subject himself to the judgment of the
guild in the guild court, which could fine or suspend a man from
practicing his trade for a year. The advantages of guild
membership extended beyond profit in the wool trade. Members
were free from the tolls that strangers paid. They alone were
free to sell certain goods retail. They had the right to share in
any bargain made in the presence of a guildsman, whether the
transaction took place in Leicester or in a distant market. In
the general interest, the guild forbade the use of false weights
and measures and the production of shoddy goods. It maintained a
wool-beam for weighing wool. It also forbade middlemen from
profiting at the expense of the public. For instance, butchers'
wives were forbidden from buying meat to sell again in the same
market unless they cooked it. The moneys due to the King from
the guilds of a town were collected by the town reeve.

A baron could assemble an army in a day to resist any perceived
misgovernment by a King. Armed conflict did not interfere much
with daily life because the national wealth was still composed
mostly of flocks and herds and simple buildings. Machinery,
furniture, and the stock of shops were still sparse. Life would
be back to normal within a week.

Henry wanted to check this power of the barons. So he restored
the older obligation of every freeman to serve in defense of the
realm, which was a military draft. At the King's call, barons
were to appear in mail suit with sword and horse, knights in
coat of mail with shield and lance, freeholders with lance and
hauberk [coat of armor], burgesses and poorer freemen with lance
and helmet, and such as millers with pike and leather shirt. The
master of a household was responsible for every villein in his
household. Others had to form groups of ten and swear obedience
to the chief of the group. This was implemented in a war with

However, the nobility who were on the borders of the realm had to
maintain their private armies for frequent border clashes. The
other nobility now tended towards tournaments with mock battles
between two sides.

A new land tax replaced the Danegeld tax. Freeholders of land
paid taxes according to their plowable land ("hidage", by the
hide, and later "carucage", by the acre). It was assessed and
collected for the King by knights with little or no
remuneration. The villein class, which in theory included the
boroughs, paid a tax based on their produce ("tallage").
Merchants were taxed on their personal property, which was
determined by an inquest of neighbors. Clergy were also taxed.
This new system of taxation increased the royal income about

At the end of this period was the reign of King John, a short
man. After his mother Eleanor's death, John ruled without her
influence. He had a huge appetite for money. He imposed levies
on the capital value of all personal and moveable goods. (This
idea was taken from the tenth of rents and income from moveable
goods which had been imposed for King Richard II's crusade to
recover Jerusalem. It began the occasional subsidies called
"tenths and fifteenths" from all people on incomes from
moveables.) He sold the wardships of minors and the marriages of
heiresses to the highest bidder, no matter how base. He appointed
unprincipled men to be both sheriff and justice, enabling them
to blackmail property holders with vexatious writs and false
accusations. Writs were withheld or sold at exorbitant prices.
Crushing penalties were imposed to increase the profits of
justice. The story of Robin Hood portrays John's attempt to gain
the crown prematurely while Richard was on the Crusades to
recover Jerusalem for Christendom. In 1213, strong northern
barons refused a royal demand for scutage, arguing that the
amount was not within custom or otherwise justified. John's
heavy-handed and arbitrary rule quickly alienated all sectors of
the population. They joined the barons to pressure him to sign
the Magna Carta correcting his abuses. For instance, since John
had extracted many heavy fines from barons by personally
adjudging them blameworthy in disputes with others, the barons
wanted judgment by their peers under the established law of the
courts. In arms, the barons confronted John demanding that he
sign the Magna Carta correcting his abuses, which he did.

The Law

The peace of the sheriff still exists for his shire. The King's
peace may still be specially given, but it will cease upon the
death of the King.

Law required every good and lawful man to be bound to follow the
hue and cry when it was raised against an offender who was
fleeing. The village reeve was expected to lead the chase to the
boundary of the next jurisdiction, which would then take the
responsibility to catch the man.

No one, including the lord of a manor, may take land from anyone
else, for instance, by the customary process of distress,
without a judgment from the Royal Court. This did not apply to
London, where a landlord leasing or renting land could take
distress in his fee.

No one, including the lord of a manor, shall deprive an heir of
the land possessed by his father, i.e. his birthright.

A tenant may marry off a daughter unless his lord shows some just
cause for refusing to consent to the marriage. A tenant had to
pay an "aid" to his lord when the lord's daughter married, when
the lord's son was knighted, or when the lord's person was

A man [or woman] may not will away his land, but he may sell it
during his lifetime.

The land of a knight or other tenant of a military fee is
inherited by his eldest son. The socage land of a free sokeman
goes by its ancient custom before the Norman Conquest.

If a man purchased land after his marriage, his wife's dower is
still one-third of the land he had when they married, or less if
he had endowed her with less. But he could then enlarge her
dower to one-third of all of his lands. The same rule applied if
the man had no land, but endowed his wife with chattel or money

Dower law prevented a woman from selling her dower during the
life of her husband. But he could sell it or give it away. On
his death, its possessor had to give the widow the equivalent
worth of the property.

A widower had all his wife's lands by curtesy of the nation for
his lifetime to the exclusion of her heirs.

The Capital Messuage [Chief Manor] could not be given in dower or
divided, but went in its entirety to its heir.

Heirs were firstly sons, then daughters, then grandsons per
stirpes, then granddaughters per stirpes, then brothers, and
then sisters of the decedent. Male heirs of land held by
military service or sons of knights who were under the age of
twenty-one were considered to be in custody of their lords. The
lord had wardship over the heir's land, excluding the third that
was the widow's dower for her life. He had to maintain the heir
in a manner suitable to his dignity and restore to him when he
came of age his inheritance in good condition discharged from
debts. Male heirs of sokemen who were under the age of fifteen
were in the custody of their nearest kindred. The son of a
burgess came of age when he could count money, measure cloth,
and manage his father's concerns.

Female heirs remained in the custody of their lords until they
married. The lord was bound to find a marriage for his ward when
she became fourteen years of age and then deliver her
inheritance to her. She could not marry without her lord's
consent, because her husband was expected to be the lord's ally
and to do homage to him. But if a female heir lost her
virginity, her inheritance escheated to her lord.

Bastards were not heirs, even if their father married their
mother after their birth.

Any adult inheriting land had to pay a "relief" to the lord of
the land. For a knight's fee, this was 100s. For socage land,
this was one year's value. The amount for a barony depended upon
the King's pleasure.

Heirs (but not widows) were bound to pay the debts of their
fathers and ancestors. A man who married a woman who had
inherited land could not sell this land without the consent of
its heirs.

When a man dies, his wife shall take one-third and his heirs
shall take one- third of his chattels [moveables]. The other
third he may dispose of by will. If he had no heirs and no will
[intestate], all his chattels would escheat to his lord. Any
distribution of chattels would take place after all the
decedent's debts were paid from the property.

A will required two witnesses. The testator could name an
executor, but if he did not, the next of kin was the executor. A
will could not be made by a man on his death bed because he may
well have lost his memory and reason. Also, he could not give to
a younger son if in so doing, he would deprive his lawful heir.
But he could give a marriage gift to a daughter regardless of the
lawful heir.

Usury was receiving back more than what was lent, such as
interest on a loan of money. When a usurer died, all his
moveables went to the King.

A villein may not buy his own freedom (because all that he has is
his lord's), but may be set free by his lord or by someone else
who buys his freedom for him. He shall also be freed if the lord
seduced his wife, drew his blood, or refused to bail him either
in a civil or criminal action in which he was afterwards
cleared. But a freed villein did not have status to plead in
court, even if he had been knighted. If his free status were
tried in court, only a freeman who was a witness to his being
set free could avail himself of the duel to decide the issue.
However, if the villein remained peacefully in a privileged town
a year and a day and was received into its guild as a citizen,
then he was freed from villeinage in every way.

A freeman who married a villein lost his freedom. If any parent
of a child was a villein, then the child was also a villein.

All shipwrecked persons shall be treated with kindness and none
of their goods or merchandise shall be taken from them.

If one kills another on a vessel, he shall be fastened to the
dead body and thrown with it into the sea.

If one steals from another on a vessel, he shall be shaven,
tarred and feathered, and turned ashore at the first land.

Passage on the Thames River may not be obstructed by damming up
the river on each side leaving a narrow outlet to net fish. All
such wears shall be removed.

Judicial Procedure

Henry II wanted all freemen to be equally protected by one system
of law and government. So he opened his court, the Royal Court,
to all people of free tenure. A court of five justices
professionally expert in the law sat in permanence, traveled
with the King, and on points of difficulty consulted with him.
Other professional justices, on eyre [journey], appeared
periodically in all shires of the nation. They came to perform
many tasks besides adjudging civil and criminal pleas, including
promulgating and enforcing new legislation, seeking out
encroachments on royal rights, reviewing the local communities'
and officials' performance of their public duties, imposing
penalties for failure to do them or for corruption, gathering
information about outlaws and non- performance of homage, and
assessing feudal escheats to the Crown, wardships to which the
King was entitled, royal advowsons, feudal aids owed to the King,
tallages of the burgesses, and debts owed to the Jews. assessing
feudal escheats to the Crown, wardships to which the King was
entitled, royal advowsons, feudal aids owed to the King,
tallages of the burgesses, and debts owed to the Jews; The
decision-making of justices in eyre begins the process which
makes the custom of the Royal Court the common law of the
nation. The shire courts, where the travelling justices heard
all manner of business in the shires, adopted the doctrines of
the Royal Court, which then acquired an appellate jurisdiction.
The three royal courts and justices in eyre all drew from the
same small group of royal justices.

Henry erected a basic, rational framework for legal processes
which drew from tradition but lent itself to continuous
expansion and adaptation.

The Royal Court was chiefly concerned with 1) the due regulation
and supervision of the conduct of local government, 2) the
ownership and possession of land held by free tenure, 3) the
repression of serious crime, and 4) the relations between the
lay and the ecclesiastical courts.

The doctrine of tenure applied universally to the land law formed
the basis for judicial procedure in determining land rights.
Those who held lands "in fee" from the King in turn
subinfeudated their land to men of lesser rank. The concept of
tenure covered the earl, the knight (knight's service), the
church (frank-almoin [free alms]), the tenant who performed
labor services, and the tenant who paid a rent (socage). Other
tenures were: serjeanty [providing an implement of war or
performing a nonmilitary office] and burgage. All hold the land
of some lord and ultimately of the King.

Henry was determined to protect lawful seisin of land and issued
assizes [legal promulgations] giving the Royal Court authority
to decide land law issues which had not been given justice in
the shire or lord's court. These included issues of disseisin
[ejectment] of a person's free tenement or of his common of
pasture which belonged to his freehold. The writ praecipe
directed the sheriff to order the overlord of any land seized to
restore it immediately or answer for his failure in the royal
court. Though this petty assize of disseisin only provided a
swift preliminary action to protect possession pending the
lengthy and involved action [grand assize] on the issue of which
party had the more just claim or ultimate right of seisin, the
latter action was only infrequently invoked. The temptation of a
strong man to seize a neighbor's land to reap its profits for a
long time until the neighbor could prove and enforce his right
was deterred. Any such claim of recent dispossession [novel
disseisin] had to be made within three years of the disseisin.

An assize [now a judicial body] of recognition viewed the land in
question and answered these questions of fact: 1) Was the
plaintiff disseised of the freeholdin question, unjustly and
without judgment? 2) Did the defendant commit the disseisin?
Testimony of a warrantor (or an attorney sent by him in his
place) or a charter of warranty served to prove seisin by gift,
sale, or exchange. No pleadings were necessary and the action
could proceed and judgment given even without the presence of
the defendant. The justices amerced the losing party with a
monetary penalty. A successful plaintiff might be awarded
damages to compensate for the loss of revenue. Eventually royal
justices acquired authority to decide the ultimate question of
right to land using the grand assize and the alternative of an
assize instead of the traditional procedures which ended in
trial by battle.

There was also a writ for issues of inheritance of land. By law
the tenure of a person who died seised of a tenure in a lord's
demesne which was hereditary [seisin of fee] returned to the
lord, who had to give it to the heir of the decedent. If the
lord refused and kept it for himself or gave it to someone else,
the heir could sue in the Royal Court, which would decide whether
the ancestor was seised as of fee in his demesne, if the
plaintiff was the nearest heir, and whether the ancestor had
died, gone on a crusade but not returned, or had become a monk.

Issues of seisin were brought to the Royal Court by a contestant
in a local court who "put himself [or herself] upon the King's
grand assize". Then his action would be removed to the Royal
Court. The assize would consist of twelve knights from the
district who were elected by four knights and who were known as
truthful men and who were likely to possess knowledge of the

The tenant could object to any of the twelve knights for just
cause as determined by the court. Each of the twelve gave an
oath as to whether the plaintiff's or the defendant's position
was correct. If any did not know the truth of the matter, others
were found until twelve agreed [the recognitors] in favor of one
side. Perjury was punished by forfeiture of all one's goods and
chattels to the King and at least one year's imprisonment.

Alternately, the tenant-defendant could still chose trial by
duel. A duel was fought between the parties or their champions.
The losing party of a duel had to pay a fine of 60s.

However, if the parties were relatives, neither the assize nor
the duel was available to them, but the matter had to be decided
by the law of inheritance. Nor was burgage tenure usually
decided by assize.

This assize procedure extended in time to all other types of
civil actions.

Also removable to the Royal Court from the shire courts were
issues of a lord's claim to a person as his villein (duel not
available), service or relief due to a lord, dower rights, a
creditor's refusal to restore a gage [something given as
security] to a debtor who offered payment or a deposit, money due
to a lender, a seller, or a person to whom one had an obligation
under a charter, fish or harvest or cattle taken from lands
unjustly occupied, cattle taken from pasture, rights to enjoy a
common, to stop troubling someone's transport, to make
restitution of land wrongfully occupied, to make a lord's bailiff
account to him for the profits of the manor.

A person who felt he had not had justice in the manor court could
appeal to the King for a writ of right after the manor court's
decision or for a writ praecipe during the manor court's

The Royal Court also decided disputes regarding baronies,
nuisance or encroachments on royal land or public ways or public
waterways, such as diverting waters from their right course and
issues of nuisance by the making or destroying of a ditch or the
destruction of a pond by a mill to the injury of a person's
freehold. Other pleas of the Crown were: insult to the royal
dignity, treason, breaches of safe-conducts, and injury to the
King's servants.

Henry involved the Royal Court in many criminal issues, formerly
decided in the shire and hundred courts. To detect crimes, he
required royal officers to routinely ask selected
representatives: knights or other landholders, of every
neighborhood if any person were suspected of any murder,
robbery, etc. A traveling royal justice or a sheriff would then
hold an inquest, in which the representatives answered by oath
what people were reputed to have done certain crimes. They made
such inquiries through assizes of presentment, usually composed
of twelve men from each hundred and four men for each township.
(These later evolved into grand juries). These assizes were an
ancient institution in many parts of the country. They consisted
of representatives of the hundreds, usually knights, and
villages who testified under oath to all crimes committed in
their neighborhood, and indicted those they suspected as
responsible and those harboring them. What the assize did was to
insist upon the adoption of a standard procedure everywhere
systematically. The procedure was made more regular instead of
depending on crime waves. If indicted, the suspected persons
were then sent to the ordeal. There was no trial by compurgation,
which was abolished by Henry. If determined guilty, he forfeited
his chattels to the King and his land reverted to his landlord.
If he passed the ordeal but was ill-famed in the community, he
could be banished from the community. Later the ordeal was

As before, a person could also be brought to trial by the
accusation of the person wronged. If the accused still denied
the charge after the accuser testified and the matter
investigated by inquiries and interrogation and then analyzed, a
duel was held, unless the accuser was over the age of sixty or
maimed, in which case the accused went to the ordeal.

Criminal matters such as killing the King or sedition or
betraying the nation or the army, fraudulent concealment of
treasure trove [finding a hoard of coins which had been buried
when danger approached], breach of the King's peace, homicide,
murder (homicide for which there were no eye-witnesses), burning
(a town, house, men, animals or other chattel for hatred or
revenge), robbery, rape and falsifying (e.g. false charters or
false measures or false money) were punishable by death or loss
of limb. House-breaking, harboring outlaws, the royal
perquisites of shipwreck and the beasts of the sea which were
stranded on the coast were also punishable in the Royal Court.

The Royal Court had grown substantially and was not always
presided over by the King. To avoid court agents from having too
much discretionary power, there was a systematic procedure for
bringing cases to the Royal Court. First, a plaintiff had to
apply to the King's Chancery for a standardized writ into which
the cause had to fit. The plaintiff had to pay a fee and provide
a surety that the plea was brought in good faith. The progress
of the suit was controlled at crucial points by precisely
formulated writs to the sheriff, instructing him for instance,
to put the disputed property under royal protection pending a
decision, to impanel an assize and have it view the property in
advance of the justices' arrival, to ascertain a point of fact
material to the plea, or to summon a 'warrantor' to support a
claim by the defendant.

The Royal Court kept a record on its cases on parchment kept
rolled up: its "rolls". The oldest roll of 1194 is almost
completely comprised of land cases.

Anyone could appoint an agent, an "attorney", to appear in court
on his behalf, it being assumed that the principal could not be
present. The principal was then bound by the actions of his
agent. The common law system became committed to the "adversary
system" with the parties struggling judicially against each

The Royal Court took jurisdiction over issues of whether certain
land was civil or ecclesiastical [assize utrum], and therefore
whether the land owed services or payment to the Crown or not.
It also heard issues of disturbance of advowson, a complex of
rights to income from a church and to the selection of a parson
for the church [assize of darrein [last] presentment]. Many
churches had been built by a lord on his manor for his villeins.
The lord had then appointed a parson and provided for his upkeep
out of the income of the church. In later times, the lord's
chosen parson was formally appointed by the bishop. By the 1100s,
many lords had given their advowsons to abbeys.

As before, the land of any person who had been outlawed or
convicted of a felony escheated to his lord. His moveable goods
and chattels became the King's.

The manor court heard cases which arose out of the unfree tenures
of the lord's peasantry.

The honorial court, part of the manor court, heard distraint,
also called "distress", issues. Distraint was a landlord's
method of forcing a tenant to perform the services of his fief.
To distrain by the fief, a lord first obtained a judgment of his
court. Otherwise, he distrained only by goods and chattels
without judgment of his court. A distraint was merely a security
to secure a person's services, if he agreed he owed them, or his
attendance in court, if he did not agree that he owed them. Law
and custom restricted the type of goods and chattels
distrainable, and the time and manner of distraint. For instance,
neither clothes, household utensils, nor a riding horse was
distrainable. The lord could not use the chattels taken while
they were in his custody. If cattle in custody were not
accessible to the tenant, the lord had to feed them at his
expense. The lord, if he were not the King, could not sell the
chattel. The action of replevin was available to the tenant to
recover property which had been wrongly distressed. This court
also determined inheritance and dower issues.

The court of the vill enforced the village ordinances. The
hundred court dealt with the petty crimes of lowly men in the
neighborhood of a few vills. The shire and borough courts heard
cases of felonies, accusations against freemen, tort, and debts.
The knights make the shire courts work as legal and
administrative agencies of the Crown.

Admiralty issues (since no assize could be summoned on the high
seas), and tenement issues of land held in frankalmoin ["free
alms" for the poor to relieve the King of this burden], where
the tenant was a cleric were heard in the ecclesiastical courts.

The church copied the assize procedure developed by the Royal
Court to detect ecclesiastical offenses. Trial was still by
compurgation. Bishops could request the Chancery to imprison an
offender who had remained excommunicant for forty days, until he
made amends. Chancery complied as a matter of course. This went
on for six centuries.

The delineations of jurisdiction among these courts was confused
and there was much competing and overlapping of jurisdictions.
However, the court could appoint arbitrators or suggest to the
parties to compromise to avoid the harshness of a decisive
judgment which might drive the losing party to violent

The office of coroner was established in the last years of
Richard's reign to determine if sudden deaths were accidental or
due to murder.

Chief Justice Ranulph Glanville wrote a treatise on the writs
which could be brought in the Royal Court and the way they could
be used. It was a practical manual of procedure and of the law
administered in the Royal Court.

Chapter 7

The Times 1215-1272

Baron landholders' semi-fortified stone manor houses were
improved and extended. They were usually quadrangular around a
central courtyard. The central and largest room was the hall,
where people ate and slept. If the hall was on the first floor,
the fire might be at a hearth in the middle of the floor.
Sometimes the lord had his own parlor, with a sleeping loft
above it. Having a second floor necessitated a fireplace in the
wall so the smoke could go up two floors to the roof. Other
rooms each had a fireplace. Often the hall was on the second
floor and took up two stories. There was a fireplace on one wall
of the bottom story. There were small windows around the top
story. Windows of large houses were of opaque glass supplied by
a glass-making craft. The glass was thick, uneven, and greenish
in color. The walls were plastered. The floor was wood with some
carpets. Roofs were timbered with horizontal beams. Many roofs
had tiles supplied by the tile craft, which baked the tiles in
kilns or over an open fire. Because of the hazard of fire, the
kitchen was often a separate building, with a covered way
connecting it to the hall. It had one or two open fires in
fireplaces, and ovens. Sometimes there was a separate room for a

Furniture included heavy wood armchairs for the lord and lady,
stools, benches, trestle tables, chests, and cupboards. Outside
was an enclosed garden with cabbages, peas, beans, beetroots,
onions, garlic, leeks, lettuce, watercress, hops, herbs, nut
trees for oil, some flowers, and a fish pond and well. Bees were
kept for their honey.

Nobles, doctors, and lawyers wore tunics to the ankle and an
over-tunic almost as long, which was lined with fur and had long
sleeves. A hood was attached to it. A man's hair was short and
curled, with bangs on the forehead. The tunic of merchants and
middle class men reached to the calf. The laborer wore a tunic
that reached to the knee, cloth stockings, and shoes of heavy
felt, cloth, or perhaps leather. Ladies wore a full length tunic
with moderate fullness in the skirt, and a low belt, and tight
sleeves. Her hair was concealed by a round hat tied on the top
of her head. Over her tunic, she wore a cloak. Monks and nuns
wore long black robes with hoods.

The barons now managed and developed their estates to be as
productive as possible, often using the successful management
techniques of church estates. They kept records of their fields,
tenants, services owed by each tenant, and duties of the manor
officers, such as supervision of the ploughing and harrowing.
Annually, the manor's profit or loss for the year was calculated.
Most manors were self-supporting except that iron for tools and
horseshoes and salt for curing usually had to be obtained
elsewhere. Wine, tar, canvas and millstones were imports from
other countries and bought at fairs, as was fish, furs, spices,
and silks. Sheep were kept in such large numbers that they were
susceptible to a new disease "scab".

Manors averaged about ten miles distance between each other, the
land in between being unused and called "wasteland". Statutes
after a civil war proscribing the retaking of land discouraged
the enclosure of waste land.

Some villeins bought out their servitude by paying a substitute
to do his service or paying his lord a firm (from hence, the
words farm and farmer) sum to hire an agricultural laborer in
his place. This made it possible for a farm laborer to till one
continuous piece of land instead of scattered strips.

Looms were now mounted with two bars. Women did embroidery. The
clothing of most people was made at home, even sandals. The
village tanner and bootmaker supplied long pieces of soft
leather for more protection than sandals. Tanning mills replaced
some hand labor. The professional hunter of wolves, lynx, or
otters supplied head coverings. Every village had a smith and
possibly a carpenter for construction of ploughs and carts. The
smith obtained coal from coal fields for heating the metal he
worked. Horse harnesses were home-made from hair and hemp. There
were water mills and/or wind mills for grinding grain, for malt,
and/or for fulling cloth.

Most men wore a knife because of the prevalence of murder and
robbery. It was an every day event for a murderer to flee to
sanctuary in a church, which would then be surrounded by his
pursuers while the coroner was summoned. Usually, the fugitive
would confess and agree to leave the nation and never return.

It had been long customary for the groom to endow his bride in
public at the church door. This was to keep her and her children
if he died first. If dower was not specified, it was understood
to be one-third of all lands and tenements.

The county offices were: sheriff, coroner, escheator, and
constable or bailiff. There were 28 sheriffs for 38 counties. No
longer did the sheriff buy his office and collect certain rents
for himself. The sheriff now was a salaried political appointee
of the King and employed a deputy or undersheriff, who was a
lawyer, and clerks. If there was civil commotion or contempt of
royal authority, the sheriff had power to raise a posse of armed
men to restore order [posse comitatus: power of the county].
There were about five coroners in each county and they served
for a number of years. They were chosen locally under the
sheriff's supervision. The escheator was appointed annually by
the Treasurer to administer the Crown's rights in feudal land in
the county. The constables and bailiffs operated at the hundred
and parish level to detect crime and keep the peace. They
assisted sheriffs and Justices of the Peace, organized "watches"
for criminals and vagrants at the village level, and raised the
"hue and cry" along the highway and from village to village in
pursuit of offenders who had committed felony or robbery in
their districts.

Shire knights performed a number of duties. They served a
sheriffs, escheators, coroners, and justices on special royal
commissions of gaol-delivery. They sat in judgment in the shire
court at its monthly meetings, attended the two great annual
assemblies when the lord, knights and freeholders of the shire
gathered to meet the justices on eyre, who came escorted by the
sheriff and weapon bearers. They served on the committees which
reviewed the presentments of the hundreds and village, and
carried the record of the shire court to Westminster when
summoned there by the kings' judges. They served on the grand
assize. As elected representatives of their fellow knights of
the shire, they assessed any taxes due from each hundred. They
investigated and reported on local abuses and grievances. The
king's judges and council often called on them to answer
questions put to them on oath. In the villages, humbler
freeholders and sokemen were elected to assess the village
taxes. Six villeins answered for the village's offenses at the
royal eyre.

Everyone was taught to read and write in English. Even obscure
villages gathered children together for this schooling. Boys of
noblemen were taught reading, writing, Latin, a musical
instrument, athletics, riding, and gentlemanly conduct. Girls
were taught reading, writing, music, dancing, and perhaps
household nursing and first aid, spinning, embroidery, and
gardening. Girls of high social position were also taught riding
and hawking. Grammar schools taught, in Latin, grammar, logic
[dialectic], and rhetoric [art of public speaking and debate].
The teacher possessed the only complete copy of the Latin text,
and most of the school work was done orally. Though books were
few and precious, the students read several Latin works. Girls
and boys of high social position usually had private teachers
for grammar school, while boys of lower classes were sponsored
at grammar schools such as those at Oxford. Discipline was
maintained by the birch or rod.

There was no examination for admission as an undergraduate to
Oxford, but a knowledge of Latin with some skill in speaking
Latin was a necessary background. The students came from all
backgrounds. Some had their expenses paid by their parents,
while others had the patronage of a churchman, a religious house,
or a wealthy layman.

A student at Oxford would become a master after graduating from a
seven year course of study of the seven liberal arts: [grammar,
rhetoric (the source of law), Aristotelian logic (which
differentiates the true from the false), arithmetic, including
fractions and ratios, (the foundation of order), geometry,
including methods of finding the length of lines, the area of
surfaces, and thevolume of solids, (the science of measurement),
astronomy (the most noble of the sciences because it is
connected with divinity and theology), music, and Aristotle's
philosophy of physics, metaphysics, and ethics; and then
lecturing and leading disputations for two years. He also had to
write a thesis on some chosen subject and defend it against the
faculty. A Master's degree gave one the right to teach. Further
study for four years led to a doctorate in one of the
professions: theology and canon or civil law.

There were about 1,500 students in Oxford. They drank, played
dice, quarreled a lot and begged at street corners. There were
mob fights between students from the north and students from the
south and between students and townsmen. But when the mayor of
Oxford hanged two students accused of being involved in the
killing of a townswoman, many masters and students left for
Cambridge. In 1214, a charter created the office of Chancellor
of the university at Oxford. He was responsible for law and
order and, through his court, could fine, imprison, and
excommunicate offenders and expel undesirables such as
prostitutes from the town. He had authority over all crimes
involving scholars, except murder and mayhem. The Chancellor
summoned and presided over meetings of the masters and came to
be elected by indirect vote by the masters who had schools,
usually no more than a room or hall with a central hearth which
was hired for lectures. Students paid for meals there. Corners
of the room were often partitioned off for private study. At
night, some students slept on the straw on the floor. Six hours
of sleep were considered sufficient.

In 1221 the Friars established their chief school at Oxford. They
were bound by oaths of poverty, obedience, and chastity, but
were not confined within the walls of a monastery. They walked
barefoot from place to lace preaching. They begged for their
food and lodgings. They replaced monks, who had become self-
indulgent, as the most vital spiritual force among the people. In
1231, the King ordered that every student must have his name on
the roll of a master and the masters had to keep a list of those
attending his lectures.

The first college was founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, former
Chancellor to the King, at Oxford. A college had the living
arrangements of a Hall, with the addition of monastic-type
rules. A warden and about 30 scholars lived and ate meals
together in the college buildings. Merton College's founding
documents provided that: "The house shall be called the House of
the Scholars of Merton, and it shall be the residence of the
Scholars forever. . . There shall be a constant succession of
scholars devoted to the study of letters, who shall be bound to
employ themselves in the study of Arts or Philosophy, the Canons
or Theology. Let there also be one member of the collegiate
body, who shall be a grammarian, and must entirely devote
himself to the study of grammar; let him have the care of the
students in grammar, and to him also let the more advanced have
recourse without a blush, when doubts arise in their faculty. . .
There is to be one person in every chamber, where Scholars are
resident, of more mature age than the others, who is to make his
report of their morals and advancement in learning to the
Warden. . . The Scholars who are appointed to the duty of
studying in the House are to have a common table, and a dress as
nearly alike as possible. . . The members of the College must
all be present together, as far as their leisure serves, at the
canonical hours and celebration of masses on holy and other
days. . . The Scholars are to have a reader at meals, and in
eating together they are to observe silence, and to listen to
what is read. In their chambers, they must abstain from noise
and interruption of their fellows; and when they speak they must
use the Latin language. . . A Scrutiny shall be held in the
House by the Warden and the Seniors, and all the Scholars there
present, three times a year; a diligent enquiry is to be
instituted into the life, conduct, morals, and progress in
learning, of each and all; and what requires correction then is
to be corrected, and excesses are to be visited with condign
punishment. . ."

Issues frequently argued concerned the newly discovered
philosophies of Aristotle vis a vis the accepted Christian
philosophy. Aristotle emphasized the intellectual use of reason
as a road to understanding whereas the church had always taught
that understanding came from revelation by God.

Roger Bacon, an Oxford master, applied mathematical knowledge to
natural phenomena such as metal work, mineral work, the making
of weapons, agriculture, and the remedies and charms of wizards
and magicians. He studied angles of reflection in plane,
spherical, cylindrical, and conical mirrors, in both their
concave and convex aspects. He did experiments in refraction in
different media, e.g. air, water, and glass, and knew that the
human cornea refracted light and that the human eye lens was
doubly convex. (However it was another 400 years before the
discovery of the image on the retina.) He comprehended the
magnifying power of convex lenses and conceptualized the
combination of lenses which would increase the power of vision
by magnification. Soon afterwards, eyeglasses were available to
correct farsightedness.

Bacon studied gravity and the propagation of force, specifically
illustrated by the radiation of light and heat. He realized that
rays of light pass so much faster than those of sound or smell
that the time is imperceptible to humans. He knew that rays of
heat and sound penetrate all matter without our awareness and
that opaque bodies offered resistance to passage of light rays.
This was the beginning of the science of physics.

He took the empirical knowledge as to a few metals and their
oxides and some of the principal alkalis, acids, and salts to
the abstract level of metals as compound bodies the elements of
which might be separated and recomposed and the general concept
of generation of liquids, gases, and solids, which was the
beginning of the science of chemistry. He made experiments that
led the way to saltpeter being made to explode, which led the
way to the formulation of gunpowder. He believed that the
principle of explosive energy would one day carry ships across
the seas without sails and propel carriages down the streets,
and flying machines. He knew the power of parabolic concave
mirrors to cause parallel rays to converge after reflection to a
focus and was familiar with work done to produce a mirror that
would induce combustion at a fixed distance.

He studied man's physical nature, health, and disease, the
beginning of the science of biology and medicine. He opined that
the use of a talisman was not to bring about a change, but to
bring the patient into a frame of mind more conducive to
physical healing.

Bacon studied different kinds of plants and the differences
between arable land, forest land, pasture land, and garden land.

Like other educated men of his day (and those of the 1200s
through the 1500s), he believed that the earth was the center of
the universe and in astrology, that is, that the position of the
stars and planets influenced man and other earthly things. For
instance, the position of the stars at a person's birth
determined his character. The angle and therefore potency of the
sun's rays influenced climate, temperament, and changes of
mortal life such as disease and revolutions. There was a
propitious time to have a marriage, go on a journey, make war,
and take herbal medicine or be bled by leeches, the latter of
which was accompanied by religious ceremony. Cure was by God,
with medical practitioners only relieving suffering. Pressure
and binding were applied to bleeding. Arrow and sword wounds to
the skin or to any protruding intestine were washed with warm
water and sewn up with needle and silk thread. Ribs were spread
apart by a wedge to remove arrow heads. Fractured bones were
splinted or encased in plaster. Dislocations were remedied.
Hernias were trussed. Bladder stones blocking urination were
pushed back into the bladder or removed through an artificial
opening in the bladder.

Bacon studied the planetary motions and astronomical tables to
forecast future events. He did calculations on days in a month
and days in a year which later contributed to the legal
definition of a leap year. He knew about magnetic poles
attracting if different and repelling if the same and the
relation of magnets' poles to those of the heavens and earth. He
calculated the circumference of the world and the latitude and
longitude of terrestrial positions, which was the beginning of
the study of geography. He foresaw sailing around the world and
pointed the way to the Copernican astronomy, which was founded on
the concept of the earth and planets revolving around the sun.

His contribution to the development of science was abstracting
the method of experiment from the concrete problem to see its
bearing and importance as a universal method of research. He
advocated changing education to include studies of the natural
world using observation, exact measurement, and experiments.

The making and selling of goods diverged e.g. as the cloth
merchant severed from the tailor and the leather merchant
severed from the butcher. These craftsmen formed themselves into
guilds. They sought charters to require all craftsmen to belong
to the guild of their craft, to have legal control of the craft
work, and be able to expel any craftsman for disobedience. These
guilds determined the wages and working conditions of the
craftsmen and petitioned the borough authorities for ordinances
restraining trade, for instance by controlling the admission of
outsiders to the craft, preventing foreigners from selling in the
town except at fairs, limiting purchases of raw materials to
suppliers within the town, forbidding night work, restricting
the number of apprentices to each master craftsmen, and
requiring a minimum number of years for apprenticeships. In
return, these guilds assured quality control. In some boroughs,
they did work for the town, such as maintaining certain
defensive towers or walls of the town near their respective
wards. In some boroughs, fines for infractions of these
regulations were split between the guild and the government.

This jurisdiction was sought from the towns governments, which
were controlled by the merchant guilds, with great difficulty.
In London, this power was broken in 1261 by the craftsmen
forcing their way into the town-mote. By this brute show of
strength, they set aside the opinion of the magnates and selected
their own candidate to be mayor.

The citizens of London had a common seal for the city. London
merchants traveled throughout the nation with goods to sell
exempt from tolls. Most of the London aldermen were woolmongers,
vintners, skinners, and grocers by turns or carried on all these
branches of commerce at once. There are three inns in London.
Care- giving hospitals such as "Bethleham Hospital" were
established in London. Only tiles were used for roofing in
London, because wood shingles were fire hazards and fires in
London had been frequent. Some areas near London are disclaimed
by the King to be royal forest land, so all citizens could hunt
there and till their land there without interference by the
royal foresters.

A gold penny was minted, which was worth 2s. of silver. Jews were
allowed to make loans with interest up to 2d. a week for 20s.

English ships had one mast with a square sail. The hulls were
made of planks overlapping each other. There was a high
forecastle on the bow, a top castle on the mast, and a high
stern castle from which to shoot arrows down on other ships.
There were no rowing oars, but steering was still by an oar on
the starboard side of the ship. The usual carrying capacity was
30 tuns [big casks of wine each with about 250 gallons]. On the
coasts there were lights and beacons. Harbors at river mouths
were kept from silting up. Ships were loaded from piers. The
construction of London Bridge had just been finished. Coal was
mined. Bricks began to be imported for building.

Churches had stained glass windows.

Newcastle-on-Tyne received these new rights:

1. And that they shall justly have their lands and tenures and
mortgages and debts, whoever owes them to them.

2. Concerning their lands and tenures within the town, right
shall be done to them according to the custom of the city

3. And of all their debts which are lent in Newcastle-on-Tyne and
of mortgages there made, pleas shall be held at

4. None of them shall plead outside the walls of the City of
Newcastle-on-Tyne on any plea, except pleas of tenures outside
the city and except the minters and my ministers.

5. That none of them be distrained by any without the said city
for the repayment of any debt to any person for which he is not
capital debtor or surety.

6. That the burgesses shall be quit of toll and lastage [duty on
a ship's cargo] and pontage [tax for repairing bridges] and have
passage back and forth.

7. Moreover, for the improvement of the city, I have granted them
that they shall be quit of year's gift and of scotale [pressure
to buy ale at the sheriff's tavern], so that my sheriff of
Newcastle-on-Tyne or any other minister shall not make a

8. And whosoever shall seek that city with his merchandise,
whether foreigners or others, of whatever place they may be,
they may come sojourn and depart in my safe peace, on paying the
due customs and debts, and any impediment to these rights is

9. We have granted them also a merchant guild.

10. And that none of them [in the merchant guild] shall fight a

The King no longer lives on his own from income from his own
lands, but takes money from the treasury. Elected men from the
baronage met with the King and his council in several
conferences called Parliaments to discuss the levying of taxes
and the solution of difficult legal cases, and to receive
petitions. Statutes were enacted. Landholders were given the
duty of electing four of their members in every shire to ensure
that the sheriff observed the law and to report his
misdemeanors to the justiciar. They were also given the duty of
electing four men from the shire from whom the exchequer was to
choose the sheriff of the year. Earl Montfort and certain barons
forced King Henry III to summon a Parliament in 1265 in which
the common people were represented officially by four knights
from every shire [county] and two burgesses from every borough.
This seems to be the time that the legend of Robin Hood robbing
the rich to give to the poor arose.

The Law

The barons forced successive Kings to sign the Magna Carta until
it became the law of the land. It became the first statute of
the official statute book. It's provisions express the principle
that a King is bound by the law and is not above it. However,
there is no redress if the King breaches the law.

The Magna Carta was issued by John in 1215. A revised version was
issued by Henry III in 1225 with the forest clauses separated
out into a forest charter. The two versions are replicated
together, with the formatting of each indicated in the titles

{Magna Carta - 1215}
Magna Carta - 1215 & 1225

{John, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland,
Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou: To the
Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciaries,
Foresters, Sheriffs, Reeves, Ministers, and all Bailiffs and
others, his faithful subjects, Greeting. Know ye that in the
presence of God, and for the health of our soul, and the souls
of our ancestors and heirs, to the honor of God, and the
exaltation of Holy Church, and amendment of our realm, by the
advice of our reverend Fathers, Stephen, Archbishop of
Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Cardinal of the Holy
Roman Church; Henry, Archbishop of Dublin; William of London,
Peter of Winchester, Jocelin of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh of
Lincoln, Walter of Worcester, William of Coventry, and Benedict
of Rochester, Bishops; Master Pandulph, the Pope's subdeacon and
familiar; Brother Aymeric, Master of the Knights of the Temple in
England; and the noble persons, William Marshall, Earl of
Pembroke; William, Earl of Salisbury; William, Earl of Warren;
William, Earl of Arundel; Alan de Galloway, Constable of
Scotland; Warin Fitz-Gerald, Peter Fitz-Herbert, Hubert de
Burgh, Seneshal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew
Fitz-Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert
de Roppelay, John Marshall, John Fitz-Hugh, and others, our




First, we have granted to God, and by this our present Charter
confirmed, for us and our heirs forever, that the English Church
shall be free and enjoy her whole rights and her liberties
inviolable. {And that we will this so to be observed appears
from the fact that we of our own free will, before the outbreak
of the dissensions between us and our barons, granted,
confirmed, and procured to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III the
freedom of elections, which is considered most important and
necessary to the English Church, which Charter we will both keep
ourself and will it to be kept with good faith by our heirs
forever.} We have also granted to all the free men of our
realm, for us and our heirs forever, all the liberties
underwritten, to have and to hold to them and their heirs of us
and our heirs.


If any of our earls, barons, or others who hold of us in chief by
knight's service dies, and at the time of his death his heir is
of full age and owes to us a relief, he shall have his
inheritance on payment of [no more than] the old relief; to wit,
the heir or heirs of an earl, for an entire earldom, 100 pounds
[2,000s.]; the heir or heirs of a baron of an entire barony, {100
pounds} 100 MARKS [67 POUNDS OR 1340s.]; the heir or heirs of an
entire knight's fee, 100s. at the most [about 1/3 of a knight's
annual income]; and he who owes less shall give less, according
to the old custom of fees.


HOMAGE. If, however, any such heir is under age and in ward, he
shall have his inheritance without relief or fine when he comes


The guardian of the land of any heir thus under age shall take
therefrom only reasonable issues, customs, and services, without
destruction or waste of men or goods. And if we commit the
custody of any such land to the sheriff or any other person
answerable to us for the issues of the same land, and he commits
destruction or waste, we will take an amends from him and
recompense therefore. And the land shall be committed to two
lawful and discreet men of that fee, who shall be answerable for
the issues of the same land to us or to whomsoever we shall have
assigned them. And if we give or sell the custody of any such
land to any man, and he commits destruction or waste, he shall
lose the custody, which shall be committed to two lawful and
discreet men of that fee, who shall, in like manner, be
answerable to us as has been aforesaid.


The guardian, so long as he shall have the custody of the land,
shall keep up and maintain the houses, parks, fishponds, pools,
mills, and other things pertaining thereto, out of the issues of
the same, and shall restore to the heir when he comes of age,
all his land stocked with {ploughs and tillage, according as the
season may require and the issues of the land can reasonable


Heirs shall be married without loss of station. {And the marriage
shall be made known to the heir's nearest of kin before it is


A widow, after the death of her husband, shall immediately and
without difficulty have her marriage portion [property given to
her by her father] and inheritance. She shall not give anything
for her marriage portion, dower, or inheritance which she and
her husband held on the day of his death, and she may remain in
her husband's house for forty days after his death, within which
time her dower shall be assigned to her. IF THAT HOUSE IS A

No widow shall be compelled [by penalty of fine] to marry so long
as she has a mind to live without a husband, provided, however,
that she gives security that she will not marry without our
assent, if she holds of us, or that of the lord of whom she
holds, if she holds of another.


Neither we nor our bailiffs shall seize any land or rent for any
debt as long as the debtor's goods and chattels suffice to pay
Nor shall the debtor's sureties be distrained as long as the
debtor is able to pay the debt. If the debtor fails to pay, not
having the means to pay, OR WILL NOT PAY ALTHOUGH ABLE TO PAY,
then the sureties shall answer the debt. And, if they desire,
they shall hold the debtor's lands and rents until they have
received satisfaction of that which they had paid for him,
unless the debtor can show that he has discharged his obligation
to them.

{If anyone who has borrowed from the Jews any sum of money, great
or small, dies before the debt has been paid, the heir shall pay
no interest on the debt as long as he remains under age, of
whomsoever he may hold. If the debt falls into our hands, we
will take only the principal sum named in the bond.}

{And if any man dies indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have
her dower and pay nothing of that debt; if the deceased leaves
children under age, they shall have necessaries provided for
them in keeping with the estate of the deceased, and the debt
shall be paid out of the residue, saving the service due to the
deceased's feudal lords. So shall it be done with regard to debts
owed persons other than Jews.}


The City of London shall have all her old liberties and free
customs, both by land and water. Moreover, we will and grant
that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall have all
their liberties and free customs.

{No scutage or aid shall be imposed in our realm unless by common
counsel thereof, except to ransom our person, make our eldest
son a knight, and once to marry our eldest daughter, and for
these only a reasonable aid shall be levied. So shall it be with
regard to aids from the City of London.}

{To obtain the common counsel of the realm concerning the
assessment of aids (other than in the three aforesaid cases) or
of scutage, we will have the archbishops, bishops, abbots,
earls, and great barons individually summoned by our letters; we
will also have our sheriffs and bailiffs summon generally all
those who hold lands directly of us, to meet on a fixed day, but
with at least forty days' notice, and at a fixed place. In all
such letters of summons, we will explain the reason therefor.
After summons has thus been made, the business shall proceed on
the day appointed, according to the advice of those who are
present, even though not all the persons summoned have come.}

{We will not in the future grant permission to any man to levy an
aid upon his free men, except to ransom his person, make his
eldest son a knight, and once to marry his eldest daughter, and
on each of these occasions only a reasonable aid shall be


No man shall be compelled to perform more service for a knight's
fee nor any freehold than is due therefrom.


People who have Common Pleas shall not follow our Court traveling
about the realm, but shall be heard in some certain place.


{Land assizes of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor and darrein
presentment shall be heard only in the county where the property
is situated, and in this manner: We or, if we are not in the
realm, our Chief Justiciary, shall send two justiciaries through
each county four times a year [to clear and prevent backlog],
and they, together with four knights elected out of each county
by the people thereof, shall hold the said assizes in the county
court, on the day and in the place where that court meets.}


{If the said assizes cannot be held on the day appointed, so many
of the knights and freeholders as were present on that day shall
remain as will be sufficient for the administration of justice,
according to the amount of business to be done.}





A free man shall be amerced [made to pay a fine to the King] for
a small offence only according to the degree thereof, and for a
serious offence according to its magnitude, saving his position
and livelihood; and in like manner a merchant, saving his trade
and merchandise, and a villein saving his tillage, if they
should fall under our mercy. None of these amercements shall be
imposed except by the oath of honest men of the neighborhood.

Earls and barons shall be amerced only by their peers, and only
in accordance with the seriousness of the offense.

{No amercement shall be imposed upon a cleric's lay tenement,
except in the manner of the other persons aforesaid, and without
regard to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.}



No town or freeman shall be compelled to build bridges over
rivers OR BANKS except those bound by old custom and law to do




No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other of our bailiffs shall
hold pleas of our Crown [but only justiciars, to prevent
disparity of punishments and corruption].

{All counties, hundreds, wapentakes, and tithings (except our
demesne manors) shall remain at the old rents, without any


If anyone holding a lay fee of us dies, and our sheriff or our
bailiff show our letters patent [public letter] of summons for a
debt due to us from the deceased, it shall be lawful for such
sheriff or bailiff to attach and list the goods and chattels of
the deceased found in the lay fee to the value of that debt, by
the sight and testimony of lawful men [to prevent taking too
much], so that nothing thereof shall be removed therefrom until
our whole debt is paid; then the residue shall be given up to
the executors to carry out the will of the deceased. If there is
no debt due from him to us, all his chattels shall remain the
property of the deceased, saving to his wife and children their
reasonable shares.

{If any free man dies intestate, his chattels shall be
distributed by his nearest kinfolk and friends, under
supervision of the Church, saving to each creditor the debts
owed him by the deceased.}


No constable or other of our bailiffs shall take grain or other
chattels of any man without immediate payment, unless the seller
voluntarily consents to postponement of payment. THIS APPLIES


No constable shall compel any knight to give money for keeping of
his castle in lieu of castle-guard when the knight is willing to
perform it in person or, if reasonable cause prevents him from
performing it himself, by some other fit man. Further, if we
lead or send him into military service, he shall be excused from
castle-guard for the time he remains in service by our command.


No sheriff or bailiff of ours, or any other man, shall take
horses or carts of any free man for carriage without the owner's

Neither we nor our bailiffs will take another man's wood for our
castles or for other of our necessaries without the owner's


We will hold the lands of persons convicted of felony for only a
year and a day [to remove the chattels and moveables], after
which they shall be restored to the lords of the fees.


All fishweirs [obstructing navigation] shall be entirely removed
by the Thames and Medway rivers, and throughout England, except
upon the seacoast.


The [royal] writ called "praecipe in capite" shall not in the
future be granted to anyone respecting any freehold if thereby a
free man may not be tried in his lord's court.


There shall be one measure of wine throughout our realm, one
measure of ale, and one measure of grain, to wit, the London
quarter, and one breadth of dyed cloth, russets, and haberjets,
to wit, two {ells} YARDS within the selvages. As with measures
so shall it also be with weights.


Henceforth nothing shall be given or taken for a writ of
inquisition upon life or limb, but it shall be granted freely
and not denied.


If anyone holds of us by fee farm, socage, or burgage, and also
holds land of another by knight's service, we will not by reason
of that fee farm, socage, or burgage have the wardship of his
heir, or the land which belongs to another man's fee. Nor will
we have the custody of such fee farm, socage, or burgage unless
such fee farm owe knight's service. We will not have the wardship
of any man's heir, or the land which he holds of another by
knight's service, by reason of any petty serjeanty which he
holds of us by service of rendering us knives, arrows, or the


In the future no [royal] bailiff shall upon his own unsupported
accusation put any man to trial or oath without producing
credible witnesses to the truth of the accusation.


No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised OF HIS FREEHOLD
OR LIBERTIES OR FREE CUSTOMS, OR BE outlawed, banished, or in
any way ruined, nor will we prosecute or condemn him, except by
the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

To no one will we sell [by bribery], to none will we deny or
delay, right or justice.


All merchants shall have safe conduct to go and come out of and
into England, and to stay in and travel through England by land
and water, to buy and sell, without evil tolls, in accordance
with old and just customs, except, in time of war, such
merchants as are of a country at war with us. If any such be
found in our realm at the outbreak of war, they shall be
detained, without harm to their bodies or goods, until it be
known to us or our Chief Justiciary how our merchants are being
treated in the country at war with us. And if our merchants are
safe there, then theirs shall be safe with us.

{Henceforth anyone, saving his allegiance due to us, may leave
our realm and return safely and securely by land and water,
except for a short period in time of war, for the common benefit
of the realm.}


If anyone dies holding of any escheat, such as the honor of
Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, {Lancaster,} or other
escheats which are in our hands and are baronies, his heir shall
not give any relief or do any service to us other than he would
owe to the baron, if such barony had been in the baron's hands.
And we will hold the escheat in the same manner in which the

 Persons dwelling outside the forest need not in the future come
before our justiciaries of the forest in answer to a general
summons unless they are impleaded or are sureties for any person
or persons attached for breach of forest laws.



{We will appoint as justiciaries, constables, sheriffs, or
bailiffs only such men as know the law of the land and will keep
it well.}


All barons who had founded abbeys of which they have charters of
English Kings or old tenure, shall have the custody of the same
when vacant, as is their due.

 All forests which have been created in our time shall forthwith
be disafforested. {So shall it be done with regard to river
banks which have been enclosed by fences in our time.}

{All evil customs concerning forests and warrens [livestock
grounds in forests], foresters and warreners, sheriffs and their
officers, or riverbanks and their conservators shall be
immediately investigated in each county by twelve sworn knights
of such county, who are chosen by honest men of that county, and
shall within forty days after this inquest be completely and
irrevocably abolished, provided always that the matter has first
been brought to our knowledge, or that of our justiciars, if we
are not in England.}

{We will immediately return all hostages and charters delivered
to us by Englishmen as security for the peace or for the
performance of loyal service.}

{We will entirely remove from their offices the kinsmen of Gerald
de Athyes, so that henceforth they shall hold no office in
England: Engelard de Cigogne, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de
Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogne, Geoffrey de Martigny and his
brothers, Philip Mark and his brothers, and Geoffrey his nephew,
and all their followers.}

{As soon as peace is restored, we will banish from our realm all
foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants, and mercenaries, who
have come with horses and arms, to the hurt of the realm.}

{If anyone has been disseised or deprived by us, without the
legal judgment of his peers, of lands, castles, liberties, or
rights, we will immediately restore the same, and if any
disagreement arises on this, the matter shall be decided by
judgment of the twenty-five barons mentioned below in the clause
for securing the peace. With regard to all those things,
however, of which any man was disseised or deprived, without the
legal judgment of his peers, by King Henry [II] our Father or
our Brother King Richard, and which remain in our hands or are
held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite during
the term commonly allowed to the Crusaders, excepting those
cases in which a plea was begun or inquest made on our order
before we took the cross; when, however, we return from our
pilgrimage, or if perhaps we do not undertake it, we will at
once do full justice in these matters.}

{Likewise, we shall have the same respite in rendering justice
with respect to the disafforestation or retention of those
forests which Henry [II] our Father or Richard our Brother
afforested, and concerning custodies of lands which are of the
fee of another, which we hitherto have held by reason of the fee
which some person has held of us by knight's service, and to
abbeys founded on fees other than our own, in which the lord of
that fee asserts his right. When we return from our pilgrimage,
or if we do not undertake it, we will forthwith do full justice
to the complainants in these matters.}


No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon a woman's appeal for
the death of any person other than her husband [since no woman
was expected to personally engage in trial by battle].





{All fines unjustly and unlawfully given to us, and all
amercements levied unjustly and against the law of the land,
shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by judgment of
the twenty-five barons mentioned below in the clause for
securing the peace, or the majority of them, together with the
aforesaid Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, if he himself can be
present, and any others whom he may wish to bring with him for
the purpose; if he cannot be present, the business shall
nevertheless proceed without him. If any one or more of the said
twenty-five barons has an interest in a suit of this kind, he or
they shall step down for this particular judgment, and be
replaced by another or others, elected and sworn by the rest of
the said barons, for this occasion only.}

{If we have disseised or deprived the Welsh of lands, liberties,
or other things, without legal judgment of their peers, in
England or Wales, they shall immediately be restored to them,
and if a disagreement arises thereon, the question shall be
determined in the Marches by judgment of their peers according
to the law of England as to English tenements, the law of Wales
as to Welsh tenements, the law of the Marches as to tenements in
the Marches. The same shall the Welsh do to us and ours.}

{But with regard to all those things of which any Welshman was
disseised or deprived, without legal judgment of his peers, by
King Henry [II] our Father or our Brother King Richard, and
which we hold in our hands or others hold under our warranty, we
shall have respite during the term commonly allowed to the
Crusaders, except as to those matters whereon a suit had arisen
or an inquisition had been taken by our command prior to our
taking the cross. Immediately after our return from our
pilgrimage, or if by chance we do not undertake it, we will do
full justice according to the laws of the Welsh and the
aforesaid regions.}

{We will immediately return the son of Llywelyn, all the Welsh
hostages, and the charters which were delivered to us as
security for the peace.}

{With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of
Alexander, King of the Scots, and of his liberties and rights,
we will do the same as we would with regard to our other barons
of England, unless it appears by the charters which we hold of
William his father, late King of the Scots, that it ought to be
otherwise; this shall be determined by judgment of his peers in
our court.}



{All the customs and liberties aforesaid, which we have granted
to be enjoyed, as far as it pertains to us towards our people
throughout our realm, let all our subjects, whether clerics or
laymen, observe, as far as it pertains toward their dependents.}


 {Whereas we, for the honor of God and the reform of our realm,
and in order the better to allay the discord arisen between us
and our barons, have granted all these things aforesaid. We,
willing that they be forever enjoyed wholly and in lasting
strength, do give and grant to our subjects the following
security, to wit, that the barons shall elect any twenty-five
barons of the realm they wish, who shall, with their utmost
power, keep, hold, and cause to be kept the peace and liberties
which we have granted unto them and by this our present Charter
have confirmed, so that if we, our Justiciary, bailiffs, or any
of our ministers offends in any respect against any man, or
transgresses any of these articles of peace or security, and the
offense is brought before four of the said twenty- five barons,
those four barons shall come before us, or our Chief Justiciary
if we are out of the realm, declaring the offense, and shall
demand speedy amends for the same. If we or, in case of our
being out of the realm, our Chief Justiciary fails to afford
redress within forty days from the time the case was brought
before us or, in the event of our having been out of the realm,
our Chief Justiciary, the aforesaid four barons shall refer the
matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who, together with
the commonalty of the whole country, shall distrain and
distress us to the utmost of their power, to wit, by capture of
our castles, lands, and possessions and by all other possible
means, until compensation is made according to their decision,
saving our person and that of our Queen and children; as soon as
redress has been had, they shall return to their former
allegiance. Anyone in the realm may take oath that, for the
accomplishment of all the aforesaid matters, he will obey the
orders of the said twenty-five barons and distress us to the
utmost of his power; and we give public and free leave to
everyone wishing to take oath to do so, and to none will we deny
the same. Moreover, all such of our subjects who do not of their
own free will and accord agree to swear to the said twenty-five
barons, to distrain and distress us together with them, we will
compel to do so by our command in the aforesaid manner. If any
one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country or is
in any way hindered from executing the said office, the rest of
the said twenty-five barons shall choose another in his stead, at
their discretion, who shall be sworn in like manner as the
others. In all cases which are referred to the said twenty-five
barons to execute, and in which a difference arises among them,
supposing them all to be present, or in which not all who have
been summoned are willing or able to appear, the verdict of the
majority shall be considered as firm and binding as if the whole
number had been of one mind. The aforesaid twenty-five shall
swear to keep faithfully all the aforesaid articles and, to the
best of their power, to cause them to be kept by others. We will
not procure, either by ourself or any other, anything from any
man whereby any of these concessions or liberties may be revoked
or abated. If any such procurement is made, let it be null and
void; it shall never be made use of either by us or by any

{We have also fully forgiven and pardoned all ill-will, wrath,
and malice which has arisen between us and our subjects, both
clergy and laymen, during the disputes, to and with all men.
Moreover, we have fully forgiven and, as far as it pertains to
us, wholly pardoned to and with all, clergy and laymen, all
offences made in consequence of the said disputes from Easter in
the sixteenth year of our reign until the restoration of peace.
Over and above this, we have caused letters patent to be made
for Stephen, Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry, Archbishop of
Dublin, the above-mentioned Bishops, and Master Pandulph, for the
aforesaid security and concessions.}

{Wherefore we will that, and firmly command that, the English
Church shall be free and all men in our realm shall have and
hold all the aforesaid liberties, rights, and concessions, well
and peaceably, freely, quietly, fully, and wholly, to them and
their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and places
forever, as is aforesaid. It is moreover sworn, as will on our
part as on the part of the barons, that all these matters
aforesaid shall be kept in good faith and without deceit.
Witness the above-named and many others. Given by our hand in the
meadow which is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines,
on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our



 Statutes which were enacted after the Magna Carta follow:

Nuisance is recognized by this statute: "Every freeman, without
danger, shall make in his own wood, or in his land, or in his
water, which he has within our Forest, mills, springs, pools,
clay pits, dikes, or arable ground, so that it does not annoy
any of his neighbors."

Anyone taking a widow's dower after her husband's death must not
only return the dower, but pay damages in the amount of the
value of the dower from the time of death of the husband until
her recovery of seisin.

Widows may bequeath the crop of their ground as well of their
dowers as of their other lands and tenements.

 Freeholders of tenements on manors shall have sufficient ingress
and egress from their tenements to the common pasture and as
much pasture as suffices for their tenements.

"Grain shall not be taken under the pretense of borrowing or the
promise of after-payment without the permission of the owner."

"A parent or other who forcefully leads away and withholds, or
marries off, an heir who is a minor (under 14), shall yield the
value of the marriage and be imprisoned until he has satisfied
the King for the trespass. If an heir 14 years or older marries
without his Lord's permission to defraud him of the marriage and
the Lord offers him reasonable and convenient marriage, without
disparagement, then the Lord shall hold his land beyond the term
of his age, that, of twenty one years, so long that he may
receive double the value of the marriage as estimated by lawful
men, or after as it has been offered before without fraud or
collusion, and after as it may be proved in the King's Court.
Any Lord who marries off a ward of his who is a minor and cannot
consent to marriage, to a villain or other, such as a burgess,
whereby the ward is disparaged, shall lose the wardship and all
its profits if the ward's friends complain of the Lord. The
wardship and profit shall be converted to the use of the heir,
for the shame done to him, after the disposition and provision of
his friends." (The marriage could be annulled by the church.)

"If an heir of whatever age will not marry at the request of his
Lord, he shall not be compelled thereunto; but when he comes of
age, he shall pay to his Lord the value of the marriage before
receiving his land, whether or not he himself marries."

"Interest shall not run against any minor, from the time of death
of his ancestor until his lawful age; so nevertheless, that the
payment of the principal debt, with the interest that was before
the death of his ancestor shall not remain."

The value of debts to be repaid to the King or to any man shall
be reasonably determined by the debtor's neighbors and not by
strangers. A debtors' plough cattle or sheep cannot be taken to
satisfy a debt.

The wards and escheats of the King shall be surveyed yearly by
three people assigned by the King. The Sheriffs, by their
counsel, shall approve and let to farm such wards and escheats
as they think most profitable for the King. The Sheriffs shall
be answerable for the issues thereof in the Exchequer at
designated times. The collectors of the customs on wool exports
shall pay this money at the two designated times and shall make
yearly accounts of all parcels in ports and all ships.

By statute leap year was standardized throughout the nation, "the
day increasing in the leap year shall be accounted in that
year", "but it shall be taken and reckoned in the same month
wherein it grew and that day and the preceding day shall be
counted as one day."

"An English penny, called a sterling, round and without any
clipping, shall weigh 32 wheat grains dry in the middle of the

Measurements of distance were standardized to twelve inches to a
foot, three feet to a yard, and so forth up to an acre of land.

Goods which could only be sold by the standard weights and
measures (such as ounces, pounds, gallons, bushels) included
sacks of wool, leather, skins, ropes, glass, iron, lead, canvas,
linen cloth, tallow, spices, confections cheese, herrings,
sugar, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, wheat, barley, oats, bread, and
ale. The prices required for bread and ale were based on the
market price for the wheat, barley, and oats from which they
were made.

The punishment for repeated violations of required measures,
weights, or prices of bread and ale by a baker or brewer;
selling of spoiled or unwholesome wine, meat, fish by brewers,
butchers, or cooks; or a steward or bailiff receiving a bribe
was reduced to placement in a pillory with a shaven head so that
these men would still be fit for military service and not
overcrowd the jails.

Forest penalties were changed so that "No man shall lose either
life or member [limb] for killing of our deer. But if any man be
taken and convicted for taking our venison, he shall make a
grievous fine, if he has anything. And if he has nothing to
lose, he shall be imprisoned for a year and a day. And after
that, if he can find sufficient sureties, he shall be delivered,
and, if not, he shall abjure the realm of England."

The Forest Charter provided that: Every freeman may allow his
pigs to eat in his own wood in the King's forest. He may also
drive his pigs there through the King's forest and tarry one
night within the forest without losing any of his pigs. But
people having greyhounds must keep them out of the forest so they
don't maim the deer.

The Forest Charter also allowed magnates traveling through the
King's forest on the King's command to come to him, to kill one
or two deer as long as it was in view of the forester if he was
present, or while having a horn blown, so it did not seem to be

After a period of civil war, the following statutes were enacted:

"All persons, as well of high as of low estate, shall receive
justice in the King's Court; and none shall take any such
revenge or distress by his own authority, without award of our
court, although he is damaged or injured, whereby he would have
amends of his neighbor either higher or lower." The penalty is a
fine according to the trespass.

A fraudulent conveyance to a minor or lease for a term of years
made to defraud a Lord of a wardship shall be void. A Lord who
maliciously and wrongfully alleges this to a court shall pay
damages and costs.

If a Lord will not render unto an heir his land when he comes of
age or takes possession away from an heir of age or removes
anything from the land, he shall pay damages.

Kinsmen of a minor heir who have custody of his land held in
socage shall make no waste, sale, nor destruction of the
inheritance and shall answer to the heir when he comes of age
for the issues of the land, except for the reasonable costs of
these guardians.

No lord may distrain any of his tenants. No one may drive animals
taken by distraint out of the shire where they have been taken.

"Farmers during their terms, shall not make waste, sale, nor
exile of house, woods, and men, nor of any thing else belonging
to the tenements which they have to farm".

Henry de Bracton, a royal judge and the last great ecclesiastical
lawyer, wrote an unfinished treatise: A Tract on the Laws and
Customs of England, systematizing and organizing the law of the
court rolls with definitions and general concepts and describing
court practice and procedure. It was influenced by his knowledge
of Roman legal concepts, such as res judicata, and by his own
opinions, such as that the law should go from precedent to
precedent. He also argued that the will and intent to injure was
the essence of murder, so that neither an infant nor a madman
should be held liable for such and that degrees of punishment
should vary with the level of moral guilt in a killing. He
thought the deodand to be unreasonable.

Bracton defines the requirements of a valid and effective gift
as: "It must be complete and absolute, free and uncoerced,
extorted neither by fear nor through force. Let money or service
play no part, lest it fall into the category of purchase and
sale, for if money is involved there will them be a sale, and if
service, the remuneration for it. If a gift is to be valid the
donor must be of full age, for if a minor makes a gift it will be
ineffective since (if he so wishes) it shall be returned to him
in its entirety when he reaches full age. Also let the donor
hold in his own name and not another's, otherwise his gift may
be revoked. And let him, at the least, be of sound mind and good
memory, though an invalid, ill and on his death bed, for a gift
make under such conditions will be good if all the other
[requirements] of a valid gift are met. For no one, provided he
is of good memory, ought to be kept from the administration or
disposition of his own property when affected by infirmity,
since it is only then that he must make provision for his
family, his household and relations, given stipends and settle
his bequests; otherwise such persons might suffer damage without
fault. But since charters are sometimes fraudulently drawn and
gifts falsely taken to be made when they are not, recourse must
therefore be had to the country and the neighborhood so that the
truth may be declared."

In Bracton's view, a villein could buy his own freedom and the
child of a mixed marriage was free unless he was born in the
tenement of his villein parent.

Judicial Procedure

The Royal Court split up into several courts with different
specialties and became more like departments of state than
offices of the King's household. The judges were career civil
servants knowledgeable in the civil and canon law. The Court of
Common Pleas heard civil cases brought by one subject against
another. Pursuant to the Magna Carta, it sat only at one place,
Westminster Hall in London. Its records were the de banco rolls.
The Court of the Exchequer with its subsidiary department of the
Treasury was in almost permanent session at Westminster,
collecting the Crown's revenue and enforcing the Crown's rights.
The Court of the King's Bench (a marble slab in Westminster upon
which the throne was placed) traveled with the King and heard
criminal cases and pleas of the Crown. Its records were the
coram rege rolls. The title of the Chief Justiciar of England
changed to the Chief Justice of England.

Appeals from these courts could be made to the King and his

Crown pleas included issues of the King's property, fines due to
him, murder (a body found with no witnesses to a killing),
homicide (a killing for which there were witnesses), rape,
wounding, mayhem, consorting, larceny, robbery, burglary, arson,
poaching, unjust imprisonment, selling cloth by non-standard
widths, selling wine by non-standard weights.

Royal judges called justices in eyre traveled to the shires every
seven years. There, they gave interrogatories to local assizes
of twelve men to determine what had happened there since the
last eyre. Every crime, every invasion of royal rights, and
every neglect of police duties was to be presented and tried.
The assize ultimately evolved into the jury of verdict, which
replaced ordeal, compurgation, and battle as the method of
finding the truth. Suspects were failed until their cases could
be heard and jail breaks were common.

Royal coroners held inquests on all sudden deaths to determine
whether they were accidental or not. If not, royal justices held
trial. They also had duties in treasure troves and shipwreck

The hundred court decided cases of theft, viewing of boundaries
of land, claims for tenurial services, claims for homage,
relief, and for wardship; enfeoffments made, battery and brawls
not amounting to felony, wounding and maiming of beasts,
collection of debts, trespass, detinue and covenant, defamation,
and enquiries and presentments arising from the assizes of bread
and ale and measures.

Still in existence is the old self-help law of hamsocne, the
thief hand- habbende, the thief back-berend, the old summary
procedure where the thief is caught in the act, AEthelstan's
laws, Edward the Confessor's laws, and Kent's childwyte [fine
for begetting a bastard on a lord's female bond slave]. Under
the name of "actio furti" [appeal of larceny] is the old process
by which a thief can be pursued and goods vindicated. As before
and for centuries later, the deodand [any personal chattel which
was the immediate cause of death] was forfeited "to God". These
chattel were usually carts, cart teams, horses, boats, and

Five cases with short summaries are:

CASE: "John Croc was drowned from his horse and cart in the water
of Bickney. Judgment: misadventur. The price of the horse and
cart is 4s.6d. 4s.6d. deodand."

CASE: "Willam Ruffus was crushed to death by a certain trunk. The
price of the trunk is 4d., for which the sheriff is to answer.
4d. deodand."

CASE: "William le Hauck killed Edric le Poter and fled, so he is
to be exacted and outlawed. He was in the tithing of Reynold
Horloc in Clandon of the abbot of Chertsey (West Clandon), so it
is in mercy. His chattels were 4 s., for which the bailiff of
the abbot of Chertsey is to answer."

CASE: "Richard de Bregsells, accused of larceny, comes and denies
the whole and puts himself on the country for good or ill. The
twelve jurors and four vills say that he is not guilty, so he is

CASE: William le Wimpler and William Vintner sold wine contrary
to the statute, so they are in mercy.

Other cases dealt with issues of entry, i.e. whether land was
conveyed or just rented; issues of whether a man was free, for
which his lineage was examined; issues of to which lord a
villein belonged; issues of nuisance such as making or
destroying a bank, ditch, or hedge; diverting a watercourse or
damming it to make a pool; obstructing a road, and issues of
what grazing rights were conveyed in pasture land, waste, woods,
or arable fields between harvest and sowing. Grazing right
disputes usually arose from the ambiguous language in the grant
of land "with appurtances".

Courts awarded specific relief as well as money damages. If a
landlord broke his covenant to lease land for a term of years,
the court restored possession to the lessee. If a lord did not
perform the services due to his superior lord, the court ordered
him to perform the services. The courts also ordered repair by a

Debts of country knights and freeholders were heard in the local
courts; debts of merchants and burgesses were heard in the
courts of the fairs and boroughs; debts due under wills and
testaments were heard in the ecclesiastical courts. The
ecclesiastical courts deemed marriage to legitimize bastard
children whose parents married, so they inherited chattels and
money of their parents. Proof was by compurgation, the ordeal
having been abolished by the Church.

Trial by battle is still available, although it is extremely rare
for the duel to actually take place.

The manor court imposed penalties on those who did not perform
their services to the manor and the lord wrote down the customs
of the manor for future use in other courts.

By statute, no fines could be taken of any man for fair pleading
in the Circuit of Justiciars, shire, hundred, or manor courts.

Various statutes relaxed the requirements for attendance at court
of those who were not involved in a case as long as there were
enough to make the inquests fully. And "every freeman who owes
suit to the county, tything, hundred, and wapentake, or to the
Court of his Lord, may freely make his attorney attend for him."

In Chancery, the court of the Chancellor, if there is a case with
no remedy specified in the law, that is similar to a situation
for which there is a writ, then a new writ may be made for that
case. (By this will later be expanded the action of trespass,
which even later has offshoots of misdemeanor and the tort of

Chapter 8

The Times: 1272-1348

King Edward I was respected by the people for his good
government, practical wisdom, and genuine concern for justice
for everyone. He loved his people and wanted them to love him.
He came to the throne with twenty years experience governing
lesser lands on the continent which were given to him by his
father Henry III. He gained a reputation as a lawgiver and as a
peacemaker in disputes on the continent. He had close and solid
family relationships, especially with his father and with his
wife Eleanor, to whom he was faithful. He was loyal to his close
circle of good friends. He valued honor and adhered reasonably
well to the terms of the treaties he made. He was generous in
carrying out the royal custom of subsidizing the feeding of
paupers. He visited the sick. He dressed in plain, ordinary
clothes rather than extravagant or ostentatious ones. He
disliked ceremony and display.

At his accession, there was a firm foundation of a national law
administered by a centralized judicial system, a centralized
executive, and an organized system of local government in close
touch with both the judicial and the executive system. To gain
knowledge of his nation, he sent royal commissioners into every
shire to ask about any encroachments on the King's rights and
about misdeeds by any of the King's officials: sheriffs,
bailiffs, or coroners. The results were compiled as the "Hundred
Rolls". They were the basis of reforms which improved justice at
the local as well as the national level. They also rationalized
the array of jurisdictions that had grown up with feudal
government. Statutes were passed by a Parliament of two houses,
that of lords and that of an elected [rather than appointed]
commons, and the final form of the constitution was fixed.

Wardships of children and widows were sought because they were
very profitable. A guardian could get one tenth of the income of
the property during the wardship and a substantial marriage
amount when the ward married.

Most earldoms and many baronages came into the royal house by
escheat or marriage. The royal house employed many people. The
barons developed a class consciousness of aristocracy and became
leaders of society. Many men, no matter of whom they held land,
sought knighthood. The King granted knighthood by placing his
sword on the head of able-bodied and moral candidates who swore
an oath of loyalty to the King and to defend "all ladies,
gentlewomen, widows and orphans" and to "shun no adventure of
your person in any war wherein you should happen to be". A code
of knightly chivalry became recognized, such as telling the
truth and setting wrongs right. About half of the knights were
literate. In 1278, the King issued a writ ordering all
free-holders who held land of the value of 400s. to receive
knighthood at the King's hands.

At the royal house and other great houses gentlemanly jousting
competitions, with well-refined and specific rules, took the
place of violent tournaments with general rules. At these
knights competed for the affection of ladies by jousting with
each other while the ladies watched. Courtly romances were
common. If a man convinced a lady to marry him, the marriage
ceremony took place in church, with feasting and dancing
afterwards. Romantic stories were at the height of their
popularity. A usual theme was the lonely quest of a knight
engaged in adventures which would impress his lady.

The dress of the higher classes was very changeable and subject
to fashion as well as function. Ladies no longer braided their
hair in long tails, but rolled it up in a net under a veil,
often topped with an elaborate and fanciful headdress. They wore
non-functional long trains on their tunics and dainty shoes. Men
wore a long gown, sometimes clasped around the waist. Overtunics
were often lined or trimmed with native fur such as squirrel.
People often wore solid red, blue, or green clothes. Only monks
and friars wore brown. The introduction of buttons and
buttonholes to replace pins and laces made clothing warmer. The
spinning wheel came into existence to replace the hand-held

The great barons lived in houses built within the walls of their
castles. In semi-fortified manors, halls were two stories high,
and usually built on the first rather than on the second floor.
Windows came down almost to the floor. The hall had a raised
floor at one end where the lord and lady and a few others sat at
a high table. The hearth was in the middle of the room or on a
wall. The lord's bedroom was next to the hall on the second
floor and could have windows into the hall and a spiral
staircase connecting the two rooms. Most barons and knights
lived in unfortified or semi-fortified houses with two rooms.

In great houses, there were more wall hangings, and ornaments for
the tables. The tables were lit with candles or torches made of
wax. Plates were gold and silver. On the head table was a large
and elaborate salt cellar. Salt and spices were available at all
tables. There were minstrels who played musical instruments or
recited histories of noble deeds or amusing anecdotes. Reading
aloud was a favorite pastime. Most people ate with their fingers,
although there were knives and some spoons. Drinking vessels
were usually metal, horn, or wood. In lesser houses people ate
off slices of bread or plates of wood or pewter [made from tin,
copper, and lead]. They often shared plates and drinking vessels
at the table.

Wardships of children and widows were sought because they were
very profitable. A guardian could get one tenth of the income of
the property during the wardship and a substantial marriage
amount when the ward married.

Queen Eleanor, a cultivated, intelligent, and educated lady from
the continent, fostered culture and rewarded individual literary
efforts, such as translations from Latin, with grants of her own
money. She patronized Oxford and Cambridge Universities and left
bequests to poor scholars there. She herself had read Aristotle
and commentaries thereon, and she especially patronized
literature which would give cross-cultural perspectives on
subjects. She was kind and thoughtful towards those about her
and was also sympathetic to the afflicted and generous to the
poor. She shared Edward's career to a remarkable extent, even
accompanying him on a crusade. She had an intimate knowledge of
the people in Edward's official circle and relied on the advice
of two of them in managing her lands. She mediated disputes
between earls and other nobility, as well as softened her
husband's temper towards people. Edward granted her many
wardships and marriages and she arranged marriages with
political advantages. She dealt with envoys coming to the court.
Her intellectual vitality and organized mentality allowed her to
deal with arising situations well. Edward held her in great
esteem. She introduced to England the merino sheep, which, when
bred with the English sheep, gave them a better quality of wool.
She and Edward often played games of chess and backgammon.

Farm efficiency was increased by the use of windmills in the
fields to pump water and by allowing villeins their freedom and
hiring them as laborers only when needed. Customary service was
virtually extinct. A man could earn 5d. for reaping, binding,
and shocking into a pile, an acre of wheat. A strong man with a
wife to do the binding could do this in a long harvest day. There
was enough grain to store so that the population was no longer
periodically decimated by famine. The population grew and all
arable land in the nation was under the plough. The acre was
standardized. Harvests were usually plentiful, with the
exception of two periods of famine over the country due to
weather conditions. Then the price of wheat went up and drove up
the prices of all other goods correspondingly.

Although manors needed the ploughmen, the carters and drivers,
the herdsmen, and the dairymaid on a full-time basis, other
tenants spent increasing time in crafts and became village
carpenters, smiths, weavers or millers' assistants. Trade and
the towns grew. Smiths used coal in their furnaces.

Money rents often replaced service due to a lord, such as fish
silver, malt silver, or barley silver. The lord's rights are
being limited to the rights declared on the extents [records
showing service due from each tenant] and the rolls of the
manor. Sometimes land is granted to strangers because none of the
kindred of the deceased will take it. Often a manor court limited
a fee in land to certain issue instead of being inheritable by
all heirs. Surveyors' poles marked boundaries declared by court
in boundary disputes. This resulted in survey maps showing
villages and cow pastures.

The revival of trade and the appearance of a money economy was
undermining the long-established relationship between the lord
of the manor and his villeins. As a result, money payments were
supplementing or replacing payments in service and produce as in
Martham, where Thomas Knight held twelve acres in villeinage,
paid 16d. for it and 14d. in special aids. "He shall do sixteen
working days in August and for every day he shall have one
repast - viz. Bread and fish. He shall hoe ten days without the
lord's food - price of a day 1/2d. He shall cart to Norwich six
cartings or shall give 9d., and he shall have for every carting
one leaf and one lagena - or gallon - of ale. Also for ditching
1d. He shall make malt 3 1/2 seams of barley or shall give 6d.
Also he shall flail for twelve days or give 12d. He shall plough
if he has his own plough, and for every plouging he shall have
three loaves and nine herrings ... For carting manure he shall
give 2."

Another example is this manor's holdings, when 3d. would buy food
for a day: "Extent of the manor of Bernehorne, made on Wednesday
following the feast of St. Gregory the pope, in the thirty-fifth
year of the reign of Ding Edward, in the presence of Brother
Thomas, keeper of Marley, John de la More, and Adam de
Thruhlegh, clerks, on the oath of William de Gocecoumbe, Walter
le Parker, Richard le Knyst, Richard the son of the latter,
Andrew of Estone, Stephen Morsprich, Thomas Brembel, William of
Swynham, John Pollard, Roger le Glide, John Syward, and John de
Lillingewist, who say that there are all the following
holdings:... John Pollard holds a half acre in Aldithewisse and
owes 18d. at the four terms,and owes for it relief and heriot.
John Suthinton holds a house and 40 acres of land and owes 3s.
6d. at Easter and Michaelmas. William of Swynham holds one acre
of meadow in the thicket of Swynham and owes 1d. at the feast of
Michaelmas. Ralph of Leybourne holds a cottage and one acre of
land in Pinden and owes 3s. at Easter and Michaelmas, and
attendance at the court in the manor every three weeks, also
relief and heriot. Richard Knyst of Swynham holds two acres and a
half of land and owes yearly 4s. William of Knelle holds two
acres of land in Aldithewisse and owes yearly 4s. Roger le Glede
holds a cottage and three roods of land and owes 2s. 6d. Easter
and Michaelmas. Alexander Hamound holds a little piece of land
near Aldewisse and owes one goose of the value of 2d. The sum of
the whole rent of the free tenants, with the value of the goose,
is 18s. 9d. They say, moreover, that John of Cayworth holds a
house and 30 acres of land, and owes yearly 2s. at Easter and
Michaelmas; and he owes a cock and two hens at Christmas of the
value of 4d. And he ought to harrow for two days at the Lenten
sowing with one man and his own horse and his own harrow, the
value of the work being 4d.; and he is to receive from the lord
on each day three meals, of the value of 5d., and then the lord
will be at a loss of 1d. Thus his harrowing is of no value to the
service of the lord. And he ought to carry the manure of the
lord for two days with one cart, with his own two oxen, the
value of the work being 8d.; and he is to receive from the lord
each day three meals at the value as above. And thus the service
is worth 3d. clear. And he shall find one man for two days, for
mowing the meadow of the lord, who can mow, by estimation, one
acre and a half, the value of the mowing of an acre being 6d.:
the sum is therefore 9d. And he is to receive each day three
meals of the value given above. And thus that mowing is worth
4d. clear. And he ought to gather and carry that same hay which
he has cut, the price of the work being 3d. And he shall have
from the lord two meals for one man, of the value of 1 1/2 d.
Thus the work will be worth 1 1/2 d. clear. And he ought to
carry the hay of the lord for one day with a cart and three
animals of his own, the price of the work being 6d. And he shall
have from the lord three meals of the value of 2 1/2 d. And thus
the work is worth 3 1/2 d. clear. And he ought to carry in
autumn beans or oats for two days with a cart and three animals
of his own, the value of the work being 12d. And he shall receive
from the lord each day three meals of the value given above. And
thus the work is worth 7d. clear. And he ought to carry wood
from the woods of the lord as far as the manor, for two days in
summer, with a cart and three animals of his own, the value of
the work being 9d. And he shall receive from the lord each day
three meals of the price given above. And thus the work is worth
4d. clear. And he ought to find one man for two days to cut
heath, the value of the work being 4d., and he shall have three
meals each day of the value given above: and thus the lord will
lose, if he receives the service, 3d. Thus that mowing is worth
nothing to the service of the lord. And he ought to carry the
heath which he has cut, the value of the work being 5d. And he
shall receive from the lord three meals at the price of 2 1/2 d.
And thus the work will be worth 2 1/2 d. clear. And he ought to
carry to Battle, twice in the summer season, each time half a
load of grain, the value of the service being 4d. And he shall
receive in the manor each time one meal of the value of 2d. And
thus the work is worth 2d. clear. The totals of the rents, with
the value of the hens, is 2s. 4d. The total of the value of the
works is 2s. 3 1/2 d., being owed from the said John yearly.
William of Cayworth holds a house and 30 acres of land and owes
at Easter and Michaelmas 2s. rent. And he shall do all customs
just as the aforesaid John of Cayworth. William atte Grene holds
a house and 30 acres of land and owes in all things the same as
the said John. Alan atte Felde holds a house and 16 acres of land
(for which the sergeant pays to the court of Bixley 2s.), and he
owes at Easter and Michaelmas 4s., attendance at the manor
court, relief, and heriot. John Lyllingwyst holds a house and
four acres of land and owes at the two terms 2s., attendance at
the manor court, relief, and heriot. The same John holds one acre
of land in the fields of Hoo and owes at the two periods 2s.,
attendance, relief, and heriot. Reginald atte Denne holds a
house and 18 acres of land and owes at the said periods 18d.,
attendance, relief, and heriot. Robert of Northehou holds three
acres of land at Saltcote and owes at the said periods
attendance, relief, and heriot. Total of the rents of the
villeins, with the value of the hens, 20s. Total of all the
works of these villeins, 6s.10 1/2 d. And it is to be noted that
none of the above-mentioned villeins can give their daughters in
marriage, nor cause their sons to be tonsured, nor can they cut
down timber growing on the lands they hold, without license of
the bailiff or sergeant of the lord, and then for building
purposes and not otherwise. And after the death of any one of
the aforesaid villeins, the lord shall have as a heriot his best
animal, if he had any; if, however, he have no living beast, the
lord shall have no heriot, as they say. The sons or daughters of
the aforesaid villeins shall give, for entrance into the holding
after the death of their predecessors, as much as they give of
rent per year. Sylvester, the priest, holds one acre of meadow
adjacent to his house and owes yearly 3s. Total of the rent of
tenants for life, 3s. Petronilla atte Holme holds a cottage and
a piece of land and owes at Easter and Michaelmas - ; also,
attendance, relief, and heriot. Walter Herying holds a cottage
and a piece of land and owes at Easter and Michaelmas 18d.,
attendance, relief, and heriot. Isabella Mariner holds a cottage
and owes at the feast of St. Michael 12d., attendance, relief,
and heriot. Jordan atte Melle holds a cottage and 1 1/2 acres of
land and owes at Easter and Michaelmas 2s., attendance, relief,
and heriot. William of Batelesmere holds one acre of land with a
cottage and owes at the feast of St. Michael 3d., and one cock
and one hen at Christmas of the value of 3d., attendance,
relief, and heriot. John le Man holds half an acre of land with a
cottage and owes at the feast of St. Michael 2s., attendance,
relief, and heriot. Hohn Werthe holds one rood of land with a
cottage and owes at the said term 18d., attendance, relief, and
heriot. Geoffrey Caumbreis holds half an acre and a cottage and
owes at the said term 18d., attendance, relief, and heriot.
William Hassok holds one rood of land and a cottage and owes at
the said term 18d., attendance, relief, and heriot. The same
man holds 3 1/2 acres of land and owes yearly at the feast of St.
Michael 3s. for all. Roger Doget holds half an acre of land and a
cottage, which were those of R. the miller, and owes at the
feast of St. Michael 18d., attendance, relief, and heriot.
Thomas le Brod holds one acre and a cottage and owes at the said
term 3s., attendance, relief, and heriot. Agnes of Cayworth
holds half an acre and a cottage and owes at the said term 18d.,
attendance, relief, and heriot. Total of the rents of the said
cottagers, with the value of the hens, 34s.6d. And it is to be
noted that all the said cottagers shall do as regards giving
their daughters in marriage, having their sons tonsured, cutting
down timber, paying heriot, and giving fines for entrance, just
as John of Cayworth and the rest of the villeins above
mentioned. "

The above fines and penalties, with heriots and reliefs, are
worth 5s. yearly.

Most villeins did not venture beyond their village except for
about ten miles to a local shrine or great fair a couple times a
year. At the fair might be soap, garlic, coal, fish, nails,
grindstones, iron, salt, shovels, brushes, pails, oil, honey,
pots, pans, horses, and pack-saddles. Often one village was
divided up among two or more manors, so different manorial
customs made living conditions different among the villagers.
Villages usually had carpenters, smiths, saddlers, thatchers,
carters, fullers, dyers, soapmakers, tanners, needlers, and
brassworkers. Each villein had his own garden in which to grow
fruit and vegetables next to his house, a pig (which fattened
more quickly than other animals), strips in the common field,
and sometimes an assart [a few acres of his own to cultivate as
he pleased on originally rough uncultivated waste land beyond
the common fields and the enclosed common pastures and meadows].

People told time by counting the number of rings of the church
bell, which rang on the hour. Every Sunday, the villagers went
to church, which was typically the most elaborate and centrally
located building in the village. The parishioners elected
churchwardens. This religion brought comfort and hope of going to
heaven after judgment by God at death if sin was avoided. On
festival days, Bible stories, legends, and lives of saints were
read or performed as miracle dramas. They learned to avoid the
devil, who was influential in lonely places like forests and
high mountains. At death, the corpse was washed, shrouded, and
put into a rectangular coffin with a cross on its lid. Priests
sang prayers amid burning incense for the deliverance of the
soul to God while interring the coffin into the ground.

A villein could be forever set free from servitude by his lord as
in this example:

"To all the faithful of Christ to whom the present writing shall
come, Richard, by the divine permission, abbot of Peterborough
and of the Convent of the same place, eternal greeting in the

Let all know that we have manumitted and liberated from all yoke
of servitude William, the son of Richard of Wythington, whom
previously we have held as our born bondman, with his whole
progeny and all his chattels, so that neither we nor our
successors shall be able to require or exact any right or claim
in the said William, his progeny, or his chattels. But the same
William, with his whole progeny and all his chattels, shall
remain free and quit and without disturbance, exaction, or any
claim on the part of us or our successors by reason of any
servitude forever.

We will, moreover, and concede that he and his heirs shall hold
the messuages, land, rents, and meadows in Wythington which his
ancestors held from us and our predecessors, by giving and
performing the fine which is called merchet for giving his
daughter in marriage, and tallage from year to year according to
our will, - that he shall have and hold these for the future
from us and our successors freely, quietly, peacefully, and
hereditarily, by paying to us and our successors yearly 40 s.
sterling, at the four terms of the year, namely: at St. John the
Baptist's day 10s., at Michaelmas 10s., at Christmas 10s., and at
Easter 10s., for all service, exaction, custom, and secular
demand; saving to us, nevertheless, attendance at our court of
Castre every three weeks, wardship, and relief, and outside
service of our lord the King, when they shall happen.

And if it shall happen that the said William or his heirs shall
die at any time without an heir, the said messuage, land rents,
and meadows with their appurtenances shall return fully and
completely to us and our successors. Nor will it be allowed to
the said William or his heirs to give, sell, alienate, mortgage,
or encumber in any way, the said messuage, land, rents, and
meadows, or any part of them, by which the said messuage, land,
rents, and meadows should not return to us and our successors in
the form declared above. And if this should occur later, their
deed shall be declared null, and what is thus alienated shall
come to us and our successors ...

Given at Borough, for the love of Lord Robert of good memory,
once abbot, our predecessor and maternal uncle of the said
William, and at the instance of the good man, Brother Hugh of
Mutton, relative of the said abbot Robert, A.D. 1278, on the eve
of Pentecost."

Villeins who were released from the manorial organization by
commutation of their service for a money payment took the name
of their craft as part of their name, such as, for the
manufacture of textiles, Weaver, Draper, Comber, Fuller, Napper,
Cissor, Tailor, Textor; for metal-work, Faber, Ironmonger; for
leatherwork, Tanner; for woodwork, building and carpentry,
Carpenter, Cooper, Mason, Pictor; for food-production, Baker,
Pistor. Iron, tin, lead, salt, and even coal were providing
increasing numbers of people with a livelihood.

Many new boroughs were founded as grants of market rights by the
King grew in number. These grants implied the advantage of the
King's protection. In fact, a certain flooded town was replaced
with a new town planned with square blocks. It was the charter
which distinguished the borough community from the other
communities existing in the country. It invested each borough
with a distinct character. The privileges which the charter
conferred were different indifferent places. It might give
trading privileges: freedom from toll, a guild merchant, a right
to hold a fair. It might give jurisdictional privileges: a right
to hold court with greater or less franchises. It might given
governmental privileges: freedom from the burden of attending
the hundred and county courts, the return of writs, which meant
the right to exclude the royal officials, the right to take the
profits of the borough, paying for them a fixed sum to the Crown
or other lord of the borough, the right to elect their own
officials rather than them being appointed by the King or a
lord, and the right to provide for the government of the
borough. It might give tenurial privileges: the power to make a
will of lands, or freedom from the right of a lord to control his
tenants' marriages. It might give procedural privileges: trial
by battle is excluded, and trial by compurgation is secured and
regulated. These medieval borough charters are very varied, and
represent all stages of development and all grades of franchise.
Boroughs bought increasing rights and freedoms from their lord,
who was usually the King.

In the larger towns, where cathedrals and public building were
built, there arose a system for teaching these technical skills
and elaborate handicraft, wood, metal, stained glass, and stone
work. Some churches now had stained-glass windows. A boy from
the town would be bound over in apprenticeship to a particular
craftsman, who supplied him with board and clothing. The
craftsman might also employ men for just a day. These journeymen
were not part of the craftsman's household as was the
apprentice. After a few years of an apprenticeship, one became a
journeyman and perfected his knowledge of his craft and its
standards by seeing different methods and results in various
towns. He was admitted as a master of his trade to a guild upon
presenting an article of his work worthy of that guild's
standard of workmanship: his "masterpiece". The tailors' guild
and the skinners' guild are extant now.

When guilds performed morality plays based on Bible stories at
town festivals, there was usually a tie between the Bible story
and the guild's craft. For instance, the story of the loaves and
fishes would be performed by the Bakers' or Fishmongers' Guild.
The theme of the morality play was the fight of the Seven
Cardinal Virtues against the Seven Deadly Sins for the human
soul, a life-long battle.

A borough was run by a mayor elected usually for life. By being
members of a guild, merchant-traders and craftsmen acquired the
legal status of burgesses and had the freedom of the borough.
Each guild occupied a certain ward of the town headed by an
alderman. The town aldermen made up the town council, which
advised the mayor. Often there were town police, bailiffs,
beadles [messengers], a town cryer, and a town clerk. In the
center of town were the fine stone houses, a guildhall with a
belfry-tower, and the marketplace - a square or broad street,
where the town cryer made public announcements with bell or horn.
Here too was the duckingstool for scandalmongers and the stocks
which held offenders by their legs and perhaps their hands to be
scorned and pelted by bystanders with, for instance, rotten
fruit and filth. No longer were towns dominated by the local

In London by this time there was a wall with four towers
surrounding the White Tower, and this castle was known as the
Tower of London. Another wall and a moat were built around it
and it has reached its final form. Hovels, shops, and waste
patches alternated with high walls and imposing gateways
protecting mansions. The mansions had orchards, gardens,
stables, brewhouses, bakeries, guardrooms, and chapels. London
streets were paved with cobbles and sand. Each citizen was to
keep the street in front of his tenement in good repair. Later,
each alderman appointed four reputable men to repair and clean
the streets for wages. Prostitutes were expelled from the city
because the street with their bawdy houses had become very

London had twenty four wards. The aldermen for the first time
included a fishmonger in 1291. The Fishmongers were the only
guild at this time, besides the weavers, which had independent
jurisdiction, as they had transferred control of their weekly
hall moot from a public official to themselves. Craftsmen began
to take other public offices too. Other city offices were:
recorder, prosecutor, common sergeant, and attorneys. Each ward
chose certain of its inhabitants to be councilors to the
aldermen. This council was to be consulted by him and its advice
to be followed. Admission to freedom of the city [citizenship]
was controlled by the citizens. Apprentices had to finish their
terms before such admission. Craftsmen had to have sureties from
their crafts as of 1319. No longer could one simply purchase
citizenship. Only freemen could sell wares in the city, a custom
of at least two hundred years.

In 1275, a goldsmith was chief assay-master of the King's mint
and keeper of the exchange at London. The King gave the
Goldsmiths' Company the right of assay [determination of the
quantity of gold or silver in an object] and required that no
vessels of gold or silver should leave the maker's hands until
they had been tested by the wardens and stamped appropriately.
In 1279, goldsmith William Farrington bought the soke of the
ward containing the goldsmiths' shops. It remained in his family
for 80 years. A patent of 1327 empowered the guild to elect a
properly qualified governing body to superintend its affairs, and
reform subjects of just complaint. It also prescribed, as a
safeguard against a prevailing fraud and abuse, that all members
of the trade should have their standing in Cheapside or in the
King's exchange, and that no gold or silver should be
manufactured for export, except that which had been bought at the
exchange or of the trade openly.

There was a problem with malefactors committing offenses in
London and avoiding its jurisdiction by escaping to Southwark
across the Thames River. So Southwark was put under the
jurisdiction of London for peace and order matters by grant of
the King. London forbade games being played because they had
replaced practice in archery, which was necessary for defense.

Exports and imports were no longer a tiny margin in an economy
just above the subsistence level. Exports were primarily raw
wool and cloth, but also grain, butter eggs, herring, hides,
leather goods such as bottles and boots, embroideries,
metalware, horseshoes, daggers, tin, coal, and lead. Imported
were Wine, silk, timber, furs, rubies, emeralds, fruits,
raisins, currents, pepper, ginger, cloves, rice, cordovan
leather, pitch, hemp, spars, fine iron, short rods of steel,
bow-staves of yew, tar, oil, salt, cotton (for candle-wicks), and
alum (makes dyes hold). Ships which transported them had one or
two masts upon which sails could be furled, the recently
invented rudder, and a carrying capacity of up to 200 tuns. Many
duties of sheriffs and coroners were transferred to county
landholders by commissions. In coastal counties, there were such
commissions for supervising coastal defense and maintaining the
beacons. Ports had a vigilant coastguard and well-maintained
harbors, quays, and streets.

Women could inherit land in certain circumstances. Some tenants
holding land in chief of the King were women.

Regulation of trade became national instead of local. Trade was
relatively free; almost the only internal transportation tolls
were petty portages and viages levied to recoup the expense of a
bridge or road which had been built by private enterprise.
Responsibility for the coinage was transferred from the
individual moneyers working in different boroughs to a central
official who was to become Master of the Mint. The round half
penny and farthing [1/4 penny] were created so that the penny
needn't be cut into halves and quarters anymore.

Edward called meetings of representatives from all social and
geographic sectors of the nation at one Parliament to determine
taxes due to the Crown. He declared that "what touches all,
should be approved by all". He wanted taxes from the burgesses
in the towns and the clergy's ecclesiastical property as well as
from landholders. He argued to the clergy that if barons had to
both fight and pay, they who could do no fighting must at least
pay, and compelled them to renounce all Papal orders contrary to
the King's authority. He offered to give up the royal right to
tax merchandise for a new tax: customs on exports. He got an
agreement for an "aid" of one-fifteenth on other moveables. This
new system of taxation began the decline of the imposition of
feudal aids, scutages, and carucage. The aids of the boroughs,
counties, and church had been negotiated by the Exchequer with
the reeves of each town, the sheriff and shire courts of each
county, and the archdeacons of each diocese, the area under a
bishop's control.

This Model Parliament of 1295 was composed of the three
communities. The first were the lords. Because of the increase
of lesser barons due to a long national peace and prosperity,
the lords attending were reduced in numbers and peerage became
dependent not on land tenure, but on royal writ of summons. The
second community was the clergy, represented by the bishops of
each diocese. They later declined to attend. The third community
was the commons. It was composed of two burgesses elected by
principal burgesses of each borough and two elected knights
representing each county. The common people now had a voice in
law-making. The first legislation proposed by the commons was
alteration of the forest laws governing the royal pleasure
parks. Such a statute was passed in a bargain for taxes of a
percentage of all moveables, which were mostly foodstuffs and

Parliament soon was required to meet once or twice yearly.
Lawmaking is now a function of Parliament, of which the King's
council is a part, instead of a function of the King with his
council and judges. However, legislation may be passed without
the consent of the commons. Also, there was no convention that
agreement or even the presence of representatives was required
for legislation. The idea that the present can bind the absent
and that the majority of those present to outvote the minority
was beginning to take hold. The Chief Justices still had, as
members of the council, a real voice in the making of laws. The
King and his justices might, after a statute has been made, put
an authoritative interpretation upon it.

Most petitions to Parliament were private grievances of
individuals, including people of no social rank, such as
prisoners. Other petitions were from communities and groups.

In 1297, Edward I confirmed the Magna Carta and other items.
Judgments contrary to Magna Carta were nullified. The documents
were to be read in cathedral churches as grants of Edward and
all violators were to be excommunicated. He also agreed not to
impose taxes without the consent of Parliament after baronial
pressure had forced him to retreat from trying to increase, for a
war in France, the customs tax on every exported sack of wool to
40s. from the 6s. 8d. per sack it had been since 1275. The
customs tax was finally fixed at 10s. for every sack of wool,
2s. for each tun of wine, and 6d. for every pound's worth of
other goods. A tax system of "tenths and fifteenths" levied on
income from moveables or chattels every year also came into
being. This most affected the goods made and sold in the towns,
so that both town and countryside were taxed about the same.
Never again did a King impose a tax without the consent of
Parliament. Edward also confirmed the Forest Charter, which
called for its earlier boundaries. And he agreed not to impound
any grain or wool or and like against the will of the owners, as
had been done before to collect taxes. Also, the special prises
or requisitions of goods for national emergency were not to be a
precedent. Lastly, he agreed not to impose penalties on two earls
and their supporters for refusing to serve in the war in France.

The export of wool had increased and Parliament initiated customs
duties of 6s.8d. on every sack of wool, woolfells [sheepskin
with wool still on it], or skins exported, which was collected
at each of the thirteen ports, the beginning of the staple
[depot] system. Imports of wine were taxed as tonnage as before.

Sheriffs were elected in their own counties rather than appointed
by the King as of 1297.

Lawyers are now drawn from the knightly class instead of
ecclesiastical people. Law no longer belongs to the church, but
to the knightly class of landed gentlemen. The Inns of Court in
London provide legal education and certify members to the bar.

>From 1299, statutes were recorded in a Statute Roll as they were

By the end of the 1200s, the King's wardrobe, where confidential
matters such as military affairs were discussed in his bedroom,
became a department of state with the privy seal. It paid and
provisioned the knights, squires, and sergeants of the King and
was composed mostly of civil servants. It traveled with the
King. The Crown's treasure, plate, tents, hangings, beds,
cooking-utensils, wine, and legal and financial rolls were
carried on pack-horses or in two- wheeled carts drawn by oxen,
donkeys, or dogs. The people in the entourage rode horses or
walked. The other two specialized administrative bodies were the
Exchequer, which received most of the royal revenue and kept
accounts at Westminster in London, and the Chancery, which wrote
royal writs, charters, and letters.

As of 1336, importing foreign cloth or fur, except for use by the
King's family, was prohibited, as was the export of unwoven
wool. Later, this was relaxed and a customs tax of 33% was
imposed on wool exported. Foreign cloth-workers may come to live
in the nation, be granted franchises, and shall be in the King's
protection. No cloth may be exported until it is fulled.

There was a recoinage due to debasement of the old coinage. This
increased the number of coins in circulation. The price of wheat
went from about 7s. in 1270 to about 5s. per quarter in 1280.
Also the price of an ox went from 14s. to 10s. >From 1280 to
1290, there was runaway inflation.

As before, inadequate care and ignorance of nutrition caused many
infant deaths. Accidents and disease were so prevalent that
death was always near and life insecure. Many women died in

In the 1300s, there were extremes of fashion in men's and women's
clothing including tight garments, pendant sleeves down to the
ground, coats so short they didn't reach the hips or so long
they reached the heels, hoods so small they couldn't cover the
head, and shoes with long curved peaks like claws at the toes.
Both men and women wore belts low on the hips. The skirt of a
lady's tunic was fuller and the bodice more closely fitted than
before. Her hair was usually elaborately done up, e.g. with long
curls or curled braids on either side of the face. A jeweled
circlet was often worn around her head. Ladies wore on their
arms or belts, cloth handbags, which usually contained
toiletries, such as combs made of ivory, horn, bone, or wood,
and perhaps a little book of devotions. A man wore a knife and a
bag on his belt. Some women painted their faces and/or colored
their hair. There were hand-held glass mirrors. Some people kept
dogs purely as pets.

Under Edward II, all citizens of London had to be enrolled in the
trade guild of their craft.

The commons became a permanent and distinct body with an elected
spokesman or speaker and its own clerk in Edward III's reign.
Also, sheriffs them dealt directly with the King instead of
through an earl.

To support a war with France, Edward III permanently instituted
the staple system, by which wool exports were taxed through his
officials only at the designated staple port. These officials
included collectors, controllers, searchers, surveyors, clerks,
weighers, and crane-keepers.

Certain large wool merchants were allowed to create a monopoly on
the export of wool. Also under Edward III, Flanders weavers were
encouraged to come to England to teach the English how to weave
and finish fine cloth. A cloth industry grew with all the
manufacturing processes under the supervision of one capitalist
manufacturer, who set up his enterprise in the country to avoid
the regulations of the towns. The best places were hilly areas
where there were many streams and good pasture for flocks of
sheep. He hired shearers to cut the nap as short as possible to
give a smooth surface, then spinsters to card and spin the wool
in their country cottages, then weavers, and then fullers and
dyers to come to fulling mills established near streams for
their waterpower. Fulling became mechanized as heavy wooden
hammers run by water-power replaced feet trampling the cloth
covered with soap or fuller's clay, until it became thick and
smaller. The shaft loom was a technological advance in weaving.
This loom was horizontal and its frames, which controlled the
lifting of the warp threads, could each be raised by a foot
treadle. This left both hands free to throw and catch the
shuttle attached to the woof thread. Also many more weaving
patterns became possible through the use of different thread
configurations on the frames.

The Law

Edward I remodeled the law in response to grievances and to
problems which came up in the courts. The changes improved the
efficiency of justice and served to accommodate it to the
changing circumstances of the social system. These statutes

"No man by force of arms, malice or menacing shall disturb anyone
in making free election [of sheriffs, coroners, conservators of
the peace by freeholders of the shire]."

"No city, borough, town, nor man shall be amerced without
reasonable cause and according to the severity of his trespass.
That is, every freeman saving his freehold, a merchant saving
his merchandise, a villein saving his waynage [implements of
agriculture], and that by his peers."

No distress shall be taken of ploughing-cattle or sheep.

Young salmon shall not be taken from waters in the spring.

No loan shall be made for interest.

If an heir who is a minor is married off without the consent of
the guardian, the value of the marriage will be lost and the
wrongdoer imprisoned. If anyone marries off an heir over 14
years of age without the consent of the guardian, the guardian
shall have double the value of the marriage. Moreover, anyone who
has withdrawn a marriage shall pay the full value thereof to the
guardian for the trespass and make amends to the King. And if a
Lord refuses to marry off a female heir of full age and keep her
unmarried because he covets the land, then he shall not have her
lands more than two years after she reaches full age, at which
time she can recover her inheritance without giving anything for
the wardship or her marriage. However, if she maliciously
refuses to be married by her Lord, he may hold her land and
inheritance until she is the age of a male heir, that is, twenty
one years old and further until he has taken the value of the

Aid to make one's son a knight or marry off his daughter of a
whole knight's fee shall be taken 20s., and 400s.[yearly income
from] land held in socage 20s. [5%], and of more, more; and of
less, less; after the rate. And none shall levy such aid to make
his son a knight until his son is 15 years old, nor to marry his
daughter until she is seven year old.

A conveyance of land which is the inheritance of a minor child by
his guardian or lord to another is void.

Dower shall not abate because the widow has received dower of
another man unless part of the first dower received was of the
same tenant and in the same town. But a woman who leaves her
husband for another man is barred from dower.

A tenant for a term of years who has let land from a landlord
shall not let it lie waste, nor shall a landlord attempt to oust
a tenant for a term of years by fictitious recoveries.

When two or more hold wood, turfland, or fishing or other such
thing in common, wherein none knows his several, and one does
waste against the minds of the others, he may be sued.

Lands which are given to a man and his wife upon condition that
if they die without heirs, the land shall revert to the donor or
his heir, may not be alienated to defeat this condition.

If a man takes land in marriage with a wife, and she dies before
him, the land will revert to the donor or his heir, unless they
have a child, in which case the husband will have the land by
the courtesy of the nation for his life before it reverts to the
donor or his heir.

A free tenant may alienate his land freely, but if the alienation
was for an estate in fee simple [to a man and his heirs], the
person acquiring the land would hold of the land's lord and not
of the person alienating the land. (This halted the growth of
subinfeudation and caused services as well as incidents of aids,
relief, escheat, wardship, and marriage to go directly to the
Chief Lord. It also advantaged the Crown as overlord, which then
acquired more direct tenants.)

One may create an estate which will descend in unbroken
succession down the line of inheritance prescribed in the
original gift as long as that line should last, instead of
descending to all heirs. The successive occupants might draw the
rents and cut the wood, but on the death of each, his heir would
take possession of an unencumbered interest, unfettered by any
liability for the debt of his ancestor or by any disposition
made by him during his lifetime e.g. a wife's estate in dower or
a husband's estate in courtesy. If there was no issue, it
reverted to the original donor. ( This curtailed the advantage of
tenants of the greater barons who profited by increased
wardships and reliefs from subinfeudation from subdivision and
better cultivation of their land while still paying the greater
barons fixed sums. This statute [Quia Emptores] that protected
reversionary estates incidentally established a system of
entails. This new manner of holding land: "fee tail", is in
addition to the concepts of land held in fee simple and land
held for life. Interests in remainder or reversion of estates in
land replace the lord's tenurial right to succeed to land by
escheat if his tenant dies without heirs.)

In Kent, all men are free and may give or sell their lands
without permission of their lords, as before the Conquest.
(Since Kent was nearest the continent, money flowed between
England and the continent through Kent. So Kent never developed
a manorial system of land holding, but evolved from a system of
clans and independent villages directly into a commercial

Anyone disseising another whereby he also robs him or uses force
and arms in the disseisin shall be imprisoned and fined. The
plaintiff shall recover seisin and damages.

"All must be ready at the command and summons of sheriffs, and at
the cry of the country, to sue and arrest felons as necessary as
well within franchise as without." Otherwise, he shall be fined.
A Lord defaulting shall lose his franchise to the King. A
Bailiff defaulting shall be imprisoned a year as well as fined,
or be imprisoned two years if he cannot pay the fine. A sheriff,
coroner, or any other bailiff who conceals a felony will be
imprisoned for a year and pay a fine, or be imprisoned for three
years if he cannot pay the fine.

Villeins must report felons, pursue felons, serve in the watch,
and clear growth of concealing underwood from roads. They must
join the military to fight on the borders when called. Desertion
from the army is punishable.

Accessories to a crime shall not be declared outlaw before the
principal is proven guilty. (This made uniform the practice of
the various shires.)

Only those imprisoned for the smaller offenses of a single
incidence of petty larceny, receipt of felons, or accessory to a
felony, or some other trespass not punishable by life or limb
shall be let out by sufficient surety. Prisoners who were
outlawed or escaped from prison or are notorious thieves or were
imprisoned for felonious house-burning, passing false money,
counterfeiting the King's seal, treason touching the King
himself, or other major offenses or have been excommunicated by
the church may not be released.

Killing in self-defense and by mischance shall be pardoned from
the King's indictment. Killing by a child or a person of unsound
mind shall be pardoned from the King's indictment. (But a
private accuser can still sue.)

Any man who ravishes [abducts] any woman without her consent or
by force shall have the criminal penalty of loss of life or
limb. (The criminal penalty used to be just two years in

Trespasses [serious and forcible breaches of the peace] in parks
or ponds shall be punished by imprisonment for three years and a
fine as well as paying damages to the wronged person. After his
imprisonment, he shall find a surety or leave the nation.

"Forasmuch as there have been often times found in the country
devisors of tales, where discord, or occasion of discord, has
many times arisen between the King and his people, or great men
of this realm; For the damage that has and may thereof ensue, it
is commanded, that from henceforth none be so hardy to tell or
publish any false news or tales, whereby discord or occasion of
discord or slander may grow between the King and his people, or
the great men of the realm." Anyone doing so shall be imprisoned
until he brings into the court the first author of the tale.

A system of registration and enforcement of commercial agreements
was established by statute. Merchants could obtain a writing of
a debt sealed by the debtor and authenticated by royal seal or
a seal of a mayor of certain towns, and kept by the creditor.
Failure to pay a such a debt was punishable by imprisonment and,
after three months, the selling of borough tenements and
chattels and of shire lands. During the three months, the
merchant held this property in a new tenure of "statute
merchant". (Prior to this, it was difficult for a foreign
merchant to collect a debt because he could not appear in court
which did not recognize him as one of its proper "suitors" or
constituents, so he had to trust a local attorney. Also, the
remedy was inadequate because the history of the law of debt was
based on debt as a substitute for the blood feud, so that
failure to pay meant slavery or death. Also a debtor's land was
protected by feudal custom, which was contrary to the idea of
imposing a new tenant on a lord.)

"In no city, borough, town, market, or fair shall a person of the
realm be distrained for a debt for which he is not the debtor or

Anyone making those passing with goods through their jurisdiction
answer to them in excess of their jurisdiction shall be
grievously amerced to the King.

No market town shall take an outrageous toll contrary to the
common custom of the nation.

Since good sterling money has been counterfeited with base and
false metal outside the nation and then brought in, foreigners
found in the nation's ports with this false money shall forfeit
their lives. Anyone bringing foreign money into the nation must
have it examined at his port of entry. Payments of money shall
be made only by coin of the appropriate weight delivered by the
Warden of the Exchange and marked with the King's mark. (A
currency exchange was established at Dover for the exchange of
foreign currency for English sterling.)

The silver in craftwork must be sterling and marked with the
Leopard's Head. The gold in craftwork must meet the standard of
the Touch of Paris.

The assize of bread and ale had been and was enforced locally by
local inspectors. Now, the Crown appointed royal officers for
the gauge of wines and measurement of cloths. Edicts disallowed
middlemen from raising prices against consumers by such
practices as forestalling or engrossing and price regulation was
attempted. For instance, prices were set for poultry and lamb,
in a period of plenty. Maximum prices were set for cattle,
pigs, sheep, poultry, and eggs in 1314, but was hard to enforce.
In London examples of prices set are: best hen 3d.2q., best wild
goose 4d., best rabbit 4d., best kid 10d., best lamb 4d., best
fresh herrings 12 for 1d., best pickled herrings 20 for 1d., best
haddock 2d., best fresh salmon 3s.

Freemen may drive their swine through the King's demesne Forest
to feed in their own woods or elsewhere. No man shall lose his
life or limb for killing deer in the Forest, but instead shall
be grievously fined or imprisoned for a year.

The Forest Charter allowed a man to cut down and take wood from
his own woods in the King's forest to repair his house, fences,
and hedges. He may also enclose his woods in the King's forest
with fences and hedges to grow new trees and keep cattle and
beasts therefrom. After seven years growth of these new trees, he
may cut them down for sale with the King's permission.

Each borough has its own civil and criminal ordinances and police
jurisdiction. Borough courts tended to deal with more laws than
other local courts because of the borough's denser populations,
which were composed of merchants, manufacturers, and traders, as
well as those engaged in agriculture. Only borough courts have
jurisdiction over fairs. In some boroughs the villein who
resides for a year and a day becomes free. There are special
ordinances relating to apprentices. There are sometimes
ordinances against enticing away servants bound by agreement to
serve another. The wife who is a trader is regarded in many
places as a femme sole. There may be special ordinances as to the
liability of masters for the acts of their apprentices and
agents, or as to brokers, debt, or earnest money binding a
bargain. The criminal and police jurisdiction in the borough was
organized upon the same model as in the country at large, and was
controlled by the King's courts upon similar principles, though
there are some survivals of old rules, such as mention of the
bot and the wer. The crimes committed are similar to those of
the country, such as violence, breaches of the assize of bread
and beer, stirring up suits before the ecclesiastical courts,
digging up or obstructing the highway, not being enrolled in a
tithing, encroachments upon or obstructions of rights of common.
The most striking difference with the country at large are the
ordinances on the repair or demolition of buildings,
encroachments on another's building, fires, and nuisances.
Specimens of other characteristic urban disputes are: selling bad
food, using bad materials, unskillful or careless workmanship,
fraudulent weights and measures, fraud in buying and selling,
forestalling or regrating, acting in a way likely to endanger
the liberties of the borough, usury, trading without being a
citizen, assisting other unlicensed persons to trade, unlawfully
forming a guild, complaints against various guilds in which trade
might be organized. Since the ordinances were always liable to
be called in question before the King's courts, they tended to
become uniform and in harmony with the principles of the common
law. Also, trading between boroughs kept them knowledgeable
about each other's customs and conditions for trade, which then
tended to standardize. Boroughs often had seals to prove communal
consent and tended to act as a corporate body.

Borough ordinances often include arson such as this one: "And if
a street be set on fire by any one, his body shall be attached
and cast into the midst of the fire." Robbery by the miller was
specially treated by an ordinance that "And if the miller be
attainted of robbery of the grain or of the flour to the amount
of 4d., he shall be hanged from the beam in his mill."

In London, an ordinance prescribed for bakers for the first
offense of making false bread a forfeiture of that bread. For
the second offense was prescribed imprisonment, and for the
third offense placement in the pillory. A London ordinance for
millers who caused bread to be false prescribed for them to be
carried in a tumbrel cart through certain streets, exposed to the
derision of the people.

By statute, no one may make a gift or alienation of land to the
church. An attempt to do so will cause the land to escheat to
the lord, or in his default, to the King. Religious houses may
not alienate land given to them by the King or other patrons
because such gifts were for the sake of someone's soul. An
attempt to do so will cause the land to revert to the donor or
his heir. If the church did not say the prayers or do the other
actions for which land was given to it, the land will revert to
the donor or his heir. The church shall send no money out of the

"Concerning wrecks of the sea, where a man, a dog, or a cat
escape alive out of the ship, that such ship nor barge nor
anything within them shall be deemed wreck, but the goods shall
be saved and kept by view of the Sheriff, Coroner, or the King's
Bailiff". If anyone proves the goods were his within a year and a
day, they shall be restored to him without delay. Otherwise, they
shall be kept by the King. "And where wreck belongs to one other
than the King, he shall have it in like manner". If he does
otherwise, he shall be imprisoned and pay damages and fine.

Some statutes applied only to Kent County, which had a unique
position between London and the continent. One could sell or
give away his land without the consent of one's lord. The
services of the land, however, could only be sold to the chief
lord. Inheritance of land was to all sons by equal portions, and
if there were no sons, then to all daughters in equal portions.
The eldest brother has his choice of portion, then the next
oldest, etc. The goods of a deceased person were divided into
three parts after his funeral expenses and debts were paid. One
third went to the surviving spouse. One third went to the
deceased's sons and daughters. One third could be disposed by
will of the decedent. If there were no children, one half went
to the spouse and one half went according to will. If an heir
was under 15 years old, his next of kin to whom inheritance
could not descend was to be his guardian. A wife who remarried or
bore a child lost her dower land. A husband lost his dower if he
remarried. If a tenant withheld rent or services, his lord could
seek award of court to find distress on his tenement and if he
could find none, he could take the tenement for a year and a day
in his hands without manuring it. It the tenant paid up in this
time, he got the tenement back. If he didn't within a year and a
day, however, the lord could manure the land. A felon forfeited
his life and his goods, but not his lands or tenements. A wife
of a felon had the dower of one half or her husband's lands and

The common law recognized the tort of false imprisonment if a man
arrested as a felon, a person who was not a felon.

Ecclesiastical courts were successful in their competition with
the secular courts for jurisdiction over testamentary
[concerning wills] and succession [no will] to chattels. It's
law made a woman's chattels the property of her husband upon
marriage. She also lost all power over her land during marriage.
A husband became liable for his wife's torts. Promises under
oath were not recognized for married women.

Land may not be alienated to religious bodies in such a way that
it would cease to render its due service to the King.

Judicial Procedure

The writ of Quo Warranto [by what right] is created, by which all
landholders exercising jurisdictions must bring their ancestors'
charters before a justice in eyre for the Common Pleas for
examination and interpretation as to whether they were going
beyond their charters and infringing upon the jurisdiction of
the Royal Court. As a result, many manor courts were confined to
seigneurial matters and could no longer view frankpledge or hear
criminal cases, which were reserved for the royal courts. In the
manor courts which retained criminal jurisdiction, there was a
reassertion of the obligation to have present a royal coroner,
whose duty it was to see that royal rights were not infringed and
that the goods of felons were given to the Crown and not kept
by the lords.

The supreme court was Parliament. Next were the royal courts of
the King's Bench, Common Pleas, and the Exchequer, which had
become separate, each with its own justices and records. The
Court of Common Pleas had its own Chief Justice and usually met
at Westminster. This disadvantaged the small farmer, who would
have to travel to Westminster to present a case. The Court of the
King's Bench heard criminal cases and appeals from the Court of
Common Pleas. It traveled with the King. There were many
trespass cases so heard by it in the reign of Edward I. In
criminal cases, witnesses acquainted with particular facts were
added to the general assize of twelve men from each hundred and
four men from each town.

The most common cases in the Court of Common Pleas were "detinue"
[wrongful detention of a good or chattel which had been loaned,
rented, or left for safe- keeping with a "bailee", but belonged
to the plaintiff], "debt" [for money due from a sale, for money
loaned, for rent upon a lease for years, from a surety, promised
in a sealed document, or due to arbitrators to whom a dispute had
been submitted] and "account" [e.g. by bailiffs of manors, the
guardian in socage, and partners]. It also heard estovers of
wood, profit by gathering nuts, acorns, and other fruits in
wood, corody [allowance of food], yearly delivery of grain,
toll, tonage, passage, keeping of parks, woods, forests, chases,
warrens, gates, and other bailiwicks, and offices in fee.

The justices in eyre gradually ceased to perform administrative
duties on their eyres because landed society had objected to
their intrusiveness.

Breaches of the forest charter laws were determined by justices
of the King's forest, parks, and chases, along with men of

Coroners' inquest procedures were delineated by statute and
included describing in detail in the coroner's rolls every wound
of a dead body, how many may be culpable, and people claiming to
have found treasure who might be suspects.

There were local courts of the vill, borough, manor, hundred,
county, sheriff, escheator, and royal bailiff, with overlapping
jurisdictions. The most common plea in the hundred court was
trespass. It also heard issues concerning services arising out
of land, detention of chattels, small debts, maiming of animals,
and personal assaults and brawls not amounting to felony. Twice
a year the sheriff visited each hundred in the shire to hold a
tourn or court for small criminal cases. Everyone who held
freehold land in the hundred except the greater magnates had to
attend or be fined for absence. The sheriff annually viewed
frankpledge, in which every layman without land that could be
forfeited for felony, including villeins, were checked for being
in a tithing, a group of neighbors responsible for each other's
good conduct. This applied to every boy who had reached the age
of twelve. He had to swear on the Bible "I will be a lawful man
and bear loyalty to our lord the king and his heirs, and I will
be justicable to my chief tithing man, so help me God and the
saints." Each tithing man paid a penny to the sheriff.

In the manor courts, actions of debt, detinue, and covenant were
frequent. Sometimes there are questions of a breach of warranty
of title in agreements of sale of land. Accusations of
defamation were frequent; this offense could not be taken to the
King's court, but it had been recognized as an offense in the
Anglo-Saxon laws. In some cases, the damages caused are
specifically stated. For instance, defamation of a lord's grain
cause other purchasers to forbear buying it. There are frequent
cases of ordinary thefts, trespasses, and assaults. The courts
did rough but substantial justice without distinction between
concepts such as tort and contract. In fact, the action of
covenant was the only form of agreement enforceable at common
law. It required a writing under seal and awarded damages. Their
law was not technical, but elastic, and remedies could include
injunctions, salary attachment, and performance of acts.

The precedent for punishment for treason was established by the
conviction of a knight, David ab Gruffydd, who had turned
traitor to the Welsh enemy during the conquest of Wales and
plotted to kill the King. He was condemned to be dragged at the
heels of horses for being a traitor to his knightly vows, hanged
by the neck for his murders, cut down before consciousness left
him to have his entrails cut out for committing his crimes
during the holy week of Easter, and his head cut off and his
body divided into four parts for plotting against the King's
life. The head and body sections were placed in public view at
various locations in the nation. Prior to this the penalty was
imprisonment usually followed by ransom.

Trial by battle is now limited to certain claims of enfeoffment
of large land holding and is barred for land held in socage,
burgage, or by marriage. Assize is the usual manner of trial,
but compurgation remains in the borough court long after it
becomes obsolete in the royal courts. Defendants no longer
request assizes but are automatically put to them.

Numerous statutes protect the integrity of the courts and King's
offices by double and treble damages and imprisonment for
offenses such as bribery, false informers, conspiracy to falsely
move or maintain pleas, champerty [giving an interest in the
outcome of a case to a person for his assistance in litigating
it], conflict of interest by court officers by having a part in
the business or thing at issue. There had been many abuses, the
most common of which was extortion by sheriffs, who jailed
people without cause to make them pay to be released.

The King reserved to himself and his council in its judicial
capacity the correction of all breaches of the law which the
lower courts had failed to remedy, whether from weakness,
partiality, or corruption, and especially when the powerful
barons defied the courts.

The Court of Hustings in London is empowered to award landlords
their tenements for which rent or services are in arrears if the
landlord could not distrain enough tenant possessions to cover
the arrearages.

Wills are proven in the Court of Husting, the oldest court in
London, which went back to the times of Edward the Confessor.
One such proven will is:

"Tour (John de La) - To Robert his eldest son his capital
messuage and wharf in the parish of Berchingechurch near the
land called 'Berewardesland`. To Agnes his wife his house called
'Wyvelattestone', together with rents, reversions, etc. in the
parish of S. Dunstan towards the Tower, for life; remainder to
Stephen his son. To Peter and Edmund his sons lands and rents in
the parish of All Hallows de Berhyngechurch; remainders over in
default of heirs. To Agnes, wife of John le Keu, fishmonger, a
house situate in the same parish of Berhyng, at a peppercorn
[nominal] rent."

The Court of the Mayor of London heard diverse cases, including
disputes over goods, faulty goods, enhancing the price of goods,
using unlawful weighing beams, debts, theft, distraints,
tavern-brawling, bullying, and gambling. The following four
cases pertain to customs, bad grain, surgery, and apprenticeship,

"John le Paumer was summoned to answer Richer de Refham, Sheriff,
in a plea that, whereas the defendant and his Society of Bermen
[carriers] in the City were sworn not to carry any wine, by
land or water, for the use of citizens or others, without the
Sheriff's mark, nor lead nor cause it to be led, whereby the
Sheriff might be defrauded of his customs, nevertheless he caused
four casks of wine belonging to Ralph le Mazun of Westminster to
be carried from the City of Westminster without the Sheriff's
mark, thus defrauding the latter of his customs in contempt of
the King etc. The defendant acknowledged the trespass. Judgment
that he remain in the custody of the Sheriff till he satisfy the
King and the Court for offense."

"Walter atte Belhaus, William atte Belhous, Robert le Barber
dwelling at Ewelleshalle, John de Lewes, Gilbert le Gras, John
his son, Roger le Mortimer, William Ballard atte Hole, Peter de
Sheperton, John Brun and the wife of Thomas the pelterer,
Stephen de Haddeham, William de Goryngg, Margery de
Frydaiestrate, Mariot, who dwells in the house of William de
Harwe, and William de Hendone were attached to answer for
forestalling all kinds of grain and exposing it, together with
putrid grain, on the pavement, for sale by the bushel, through
their men and women servants; and for buying their own grain
from their own servants in deception of the people. The
defendants denied that they were guilty and put themselves on
their country. A jury of Richard de Hockeleye and others brought
in a verdict of guilty, and the defendants were committed to
prison til the next Parliament."

"Peter the Surgeon acknowledged himself bound to Ralph de
Mortimer, by Richard atte Hill his attorney, in the sum of 20s.,
payable at certain terms, the said Ralph undertaking to give
Peter a letter of acquittance [release from a debt]. This
Recognizance arose out of a covenant between them with regard to
the effecting of a cure. Both were amerced for coming to an
agreement out of Court. A precept was issued to summon all the
surgeons of the City for Friday, that an enquiry might be made
as to whether the above Peter was fitted to enjoy the profession
of a surgeon."

"Thomas de Kydemenstre, shoemaker, was summoned to answer William
de Beverlee, because he did not clothe, feed and instruct his
apprentice Thomas, William's son, but drove him away. The
defendant said that the apprentice lent his master's goods to
others and promised to restore them or their value, but went
away against his wish; and he demanded a jury. Subsequently, a
jury of William de Upton and others said the apprentice lent two
pairs of shoes belonging to his master and was told to restore
them, but, frightened by the beating which he received, ran
away; further that the master did not feed and clothe his
apprentice as he ought, being unable to do so, to the
apprentice's damage 40d., but that he was now in a position to
look after his apprentice. Thereupon Thomas de Kydemenstre said
he was willing to have the apprentice back and provide for him,
and the father agreed. Judgment that the master take back the
apprentice and feed and instruct him, or that he repay to the
father, the money paid to the latter, and that he pay the father
the 40d. and be in mercy."

A professional class of temporal lawyers is prominent in the
nation. They were educated and certified at the new Inns of
Court in London. Some are employed by the King. Judge tend to be
recruited from among those who had passed their lives practicing
law in court, instead of from the ecclesiastical orders. Men
learned All lawyers were brought under the control of the

There are two types of attorneys: one appears in the place of his
principal, who does not appear. The appointment of such an
attorney is an unusual and a solemn thing, only to be allowed on
special grounds and with the proper formalities. For instance, a
poor person may not be able to afford to travel to attend the
royal court in person. The other type of attorney accompanies his
client to court and advocates his position with his knowledge of
the law and his persuasiveness.

The great litigation of the nation is conducted by a small group
of men, as is indicated by the earliest Year Books of case
decisions. They sit in court and one will sometimes intervene as
amicus curiae [friends of the court]. Parliament refers
difficult points of law to them as well as to the judges. In
1280, the city of London made regulations for the admission of
both types of attorneys to practice before the civic courts, and
for their due control. In 1292 the King directed the judges to
provide a certain number of attorneys and apprentices to follow
the court, who should have the exclusive right of practicing
before it. This begins the process which will make the attorney
for legal business an "officer of the court" which has appointed

Because the common law and its procedures have become technical
and rigid, the Chancery was given equity jurisdiction by statute
in 1285. In Chancery, if there is a case with no remedy
specified in the law, that is similar to a case for which there
is a writ, then a new writ may be made for that case. These were
called "actions on the case". This added to Chancery's work of
now hearing petitions of misconduct of government officials or
of powerful oppressors, wardship of infants, dower, rent
charges, fraud, accident, and abuse of trust. Also, Parliament
may create new remedies.

Disputes within the royal household were administered by the
King's steward. He received and determined complaints about acts
or breaches of the peace within twelve miles around the King's
person or "verge". He was assisted by the marshall in the "court
of the hall" and by the clerk of the market when imposing fines
for trading regulation violations in the "court of the market".

Chapter 9

The Times: 1348-1399

Waves of the black death, named for the black spots on the body,
swept over the nation. The first wave of this plague, in 1348,
decimated the population by about one half in the towns and one
third in the country. People tried to avoid the plague by
flight. The agony and death of so many good people caused some
question their belief in God. Also, it was hard to understand why
priests who fled were less likely to die than priests who stayed
with the dying to give them the last rites. Thus begins a long
period of disorganization, unrest, and social instability.
Customary ways were so upset that authority and tradition were no
longer automatically accepted. Fields lay waste and sheep and
cattle wandered over the countryside. Local courts could not be
held. Some monasteries in need of cash sold annuities to be paid
in the form of food, drink, clothing, and lodging during the
annuitant's life, and sometimes that of his widow also. Guilds
and rich men made contributions to the poor and ships with
provisions were sent to various parts of the country for the
relief of starving people.

Farm workers were so rare that they were able to demand wages at
double or triple the pre-plague rate. Prices did not go up
nearly as much. The villeins had become nomadic, roaming from
place to place, seeking day work for good wages where they could
get it, and resorting to thievery on the highways or beggary
where they could not. The Robin Hood legends were popular among

They spread political songs among each other, such as: "To seek
silver to the King, I my seed sold; wherefore my land lieth
fallow and learneth to sleep. Since they fetched my fair cattle
in my fold; when I think of my old wealth, well nigh I weep.
Thus breedeth many beggars bold; and there wakeneth in the world
dismay and woe, for as good is death anon as so for to toil."

Groups of armed men took lands, manors, goods, and women by
force. The villeins agreed to assist each other in resisting by
force their lords' efforts to return them to servitude. Justices
became afraid to administer the law. Villeins, free peasants,
and craftsmen joined together and learned to use the tactics of
association and strikes against their employers.

The office of Justice of the Peace was created for every county
to deal with rioting and vagrants. Cooperation by officials of
other counties was mandated to deal with fugitives from its

When there were attempts to enforce the legal servitude of the
villeins, they spread rhymes of their condition and need to
revolt. A secret league, called the "Great Society" linked the
centers of intrigue. A poll tax for a war with France touched
off a riot all over the nation in 1381. This tax included people
not taxed before, such as laborers, the village smith, and the
village tiler. By this time, the black death had reduced the
population from 5 million to 2 1/2 million. It was to rise to 4
million by 1600.

Mobs overran the counties around London. The upper classes fled
to the woods. But the Chief Justice was murdered while fleeing.
Written records of the servitude of villeins were burned in
their halls, which were also looted. Prisoners were released
from jails. The archbishop, who was a notoriously exploitive
landlord, and the Treasurer were beheaded on Tower Hill and their
heads were posted over London Bridge. The villeins demanded that
service to a lord be by agreement instead of by servitude, a
ceiling on rents of 4d. per acre yearly, abolition of a lord's
right for their work on demand (e.g. just before a hail storm so
only his crops were saved), and the right to hunt and fish.

The revolt was suppressed and its leaders punished. Also, the
duty to deal with rioting and vagrants was given to royal
judges, sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, and constables as well as
the Justices of the Peace. There was a high constable in each
hundred and a petty constable in each parish. Justices of the
peace could swear in neighbors as unpaid special constables when
disorder broke out.

The sheriff was responsible for seeing that men of the lower
classes were organized into groups of ten for police and surety
purposes, and for holding of hundred and shire courts, arresting
suspects, guarding prisoners awaiting trial, carrying out the
penalties adjudged by the courts, and collecting Crown revenue
through his bailiffs. Royal writs were addressed to the sheriff.
Because many sheriffs had taken fines and ransoms for their own
use, a term limit of one year was imposed. Sheriffs, hundreders,
and bailiffs had to have lands in the same shires or bailiwicks
[so they could be held answerable to the King].

Efforts were made to keep laborers at the plough and cart rather
than learn a craft or entering and being educated by the church.
The new colleges at the universities ceased to accept villeins
as students.

Due to the shortage of labor, landlords' returns had decreased
from about 20% to 5%. But some found new methods of using land
that were more profitable than the customary services of
villeins who had holdings of land or the paid labor of
practically free men who paid a money rent for land holdings.
One method was to turn the land to sheep-breeding. Others leased
their demesne land, which transferred the burden of getting
laborers from the landlord to the lessor- tenant. The payment was
called a "farm" and the tenant a "farmer". First, there were
stock-and-land leases, in which both the land and everything
required to cultivate it were let together. After 50 years, when
the farmers had acquired assets, there were pure land leases.
The commutation of labor services into a money payment developed
into a general commutation of all services. Lords in need of
money gladly sold manumissions to their villeins. The lord and
lady of some manors now ate by themselves in a private parlor
with a fireplace of its own and the great hall was deserted.

Some farmers achieved enough wealth to employ others as laborers
on their farms. The laborers lived with their employer in his
barn, sleeping on hay in the loft, or in mud huts outside the
barn. The farmer's family lived at one end of the barn around an
open fire. Their possessions typically were: a chest, a trestle
table, benches, stools, an iron or bronze cauldron and pots,
brooms, wooden platters, wooden bowls, spoons, knives, wooden or
leather jugs, a salt box, straw mattresses, wool blankets, linen
towels, iron tools, rushlightholders, and livestock. Some
farmers could afford to have a wooden four-posted bedstead,
hens, geese, pigs, a couple of cows, a couple of sheep, or two
plow oxen. They ate dark bread and beans and drank water from
springs. Milk and cheese were a luxury for them. Farming still
occupied the vast majority of the population. Town inhabitants
and university students went into the fields to help with the
harvest in the summer.

Town people had more wealth than country people. Most townspeople
slept in nightgowns and nightcaps in beds with mattresses,
blankets, linen sheets, and pillows. Beds were made every
morning. Bathing was by sponging hot water from a basin over the
body, sometimes with herbs in it, rinsing with a splash of warm
water, and drying off with a towel. Tubs just for baths came into
use. There were drapery-rugs hung around beds, hand-held mirrors
of glass, and salt cellars. The first meal of the day was
breakfast, which broke the fast lasting the night. Meals were
often prepared according to recipes from cook books which
involved several preparation procedures using flour, eggs, sugar,
cheese, and grated bread, rather than just simple seasoning.
Menus were put together with foods that tasted well together and
served on plates in several courses. Table manners included not
making sounds when eating, not playing with one's spoon or
knife, not placing one's elbows on the table, keeping one's mouth
clean with a napkin, and not being boisterous. There were
courtesies such as saying "Good Morning" when meeting someone
and not pointing one's finger at another person. King Richard II
invented the handkerchief for sneezing and blowing one's nose.
There were books on etiquette.

New burgesses were recruited locally, usually from within a 20
mile radius of town. Most of the freemen of the larger boroughs,
like Canterbury and London, came from smaller boroughs. An
incoming burgess was required to buy his right to trade either
by way of a seven year apprenticeship or by payment of an entry
fee. To qualify, he needed both a skill and social

Towns started acquiring from the King the right to vacant sites
and other waste places, which previously was the lord's right.
The perpetuality of towns was recognized by statutes of 1391,
which compared town-held property to church-held property. The
right of London to pass ordinances was confirmed by charter. Some
towns had a town clerk, who was chief of full-time salaried
officers. There was a guildhall to maintain, a weigh-house,
prison, and other public buildings, municipal water supplies,
wharves, cranes, quays, wash-houses, and public lavatories.

After the experience of the black death, some sanitary measures
were taken. The notorious offenders in matters of public hygiene
in the towns, such as the butchers, the fishmongers, and the
leather tanners were assigned specific localities where their
trades would do least harm. The smiths and potters were excluded
from the more densely populated areas because they were fire
risks. In the town of Salisbury, there was Butcher Row, Ox Row,
Fish Row, Ironmongers' Row, Wheelwrights' Row, Smiths' Row, Pot
Row, Silver Street, Cheese Market, and Wool Market.

Fresh water was brought into towns by pipe or open conduit as a
public facility, in addition to having public wells. In London,
a conduit piped water underground to a lead tank, from which it
was delivered to the public by means of pipes and brass taps in
the stone framework. This was London's chief water supply. Water
carriers carried water in wooden devices on their backs to
houses. The paving and proper drainage of the streets became a
town concern. Building contracts began specifying the provision
of adequate cesspits for the privies at town houses, whether the
toilets were built into the house or as an outhouse. Also, in
the better houses, there grew a practice of carting human and
animal fecal matter at night to dung heaps outside the city
walls. There was one public latrine in each ward and about
twelve dung-carts for the whole city. Country manor houses had
toilets on the ground floor and/or the basement level.
Stairwells between floors had narrow and winding steps.

In London, the Goldsmiths, the Mercers, and the Saddlers became
the first guilds to receive, in 1394-5, charters of
incorporation, which gave them perpetual existence. As such they
could hold land in "mortmain", thus depriving the King of rights
that came to him on the death of a tenant-in-chief. They were
called Livery Companies.

In all towns, the organization of craft associations spread
rapidly downwards through the trades and sought self-government.
Craft guilds were gaining much power relative to the old
merchant guilds in governing the towns. The greater crafts such
as the fishmongers, skinners, and the corders organized and
ultimately were recognized by town authorities as self-governing
craft guilds. The building trade guilds such as the tilers,
carpenters, masons, and joiners, became important. Masons were
still itinerant, going to sites of churches, public buildings,
or commanded by the King to work on castles. The guild was not
necessarily associated with a specific product. For instance, a
saddle and bridle were the result of work of four crafts: joiner
(woodworker), painter, saddler (leather), and lorimer (metal

In London in 1392 craft guilds included: baker, fishmonger (cut
up and sold fish), fruiterer, brewer, butcher, bird dealer,
cook, apothecary (sold drugs he had ground up), cutler (made
knives and spoons), barber, tailor, shoemaker, glover (made
gloves), skinner (sold furs), girdler (made girdles of cloth to
wear around one's waist), pouchmaker, armorer, sheathmaker,
weaver, fuller (made cloth full and dense), painter, carpenter,
joiner (woodworker who finished interior woodwork such as doors
and made furniture), tiler, mason (cut stone for buildings),
smith (made metal tools for stonemasons and builders), tallow
chandler (made candles and sometimes soap from the fat and
grease the housewife supplied), wax chandler (made candles),
stirrup maker, spurrier (made spurs), and hosteler (innkeeper).
However, the merchant guilds of the goldsmiths, vintners (sold
wine), mercers (sold cloth), grocers, and drapers (finished and
sold English cloth) were still strong. The goldsmiths, tailors,
skinners, and girdlers bought royal charters, which recognized
their power of self-government as a company and their power to
enforce their standards, perhaps throughout the country. Freemen
in one company could practice the trade of another company.
There were paint mills and saw mills replacing human labor. Women
who spent their days spinning with the new spinning wheel were
called "spinsters".

Many of the guilds bought sites on which they built a chapel,
which was later used as a secular meeting place. The guild
officers commonly included an alderman, stewards, a dean, and a
clerk, who were elected. The guild officers sat as a guild court
to determine discipline for offences such as false weights or
measures or false workmanship or work and decided trade disputes.
The brethren in guild fraternity were classified as masters,
journeymen, or apprentices. They were expected to contribute to
the support of the sick and impoverished in their fellowship.
Their code required social action such as ostracizing a man of
the craft who was living in adultery until he mended his ways.

The rules of the Company of Glovers were:

1. None but a freeman of the city shall make or sell gloves.

2. No glover may be admitted to the freedom of the city unless
with the assent of the wardens of the trade.

3. No one shall entice away the servant of another.

4. If a servant in the trade makes away with his master's
chattels to the value of 12d., the wardens shall make good the
loss; and if the servant refuses to be judged by the wardens, he
shall be taken before the mayor and aldermen.

5. No one may sell his goods by candle-light.

6. Any false work found shall be taken before the mayor and
aldermen by the wardens.

7. All things touching the trade within the city between those
who are not freemen shall be forfeited.

8. Journeymen shall be paid their present rate of wages.

9. Persons who entice away journeymen glovers to make gloves in
their own houses shall be brought before the mayor and aldermen.

10. Any one of the trade who refuses to obey these regulations
shall be brought before the mayor and aldermen.

Cordwainers [workers in soft cordovan leather from Spain,
especially shoes] of good repute petitioned the city of London
in 1375 for ordinances on their trade as follows:

'To the mayor and aldermen of the city of London pray the good
folks of the trade of cordwainers of the same city, that it may
please you to grant unto them the articles that follow, for the
profit of the common people; that so, what is good and right may
be done unto all manner of folks, for saving the honor of the
city and lawfully governing the said trade.

In the first place - that if any one of the trade shall sell to
any person shoes of bazen [sheep-skin tanned in oak or
larch-bark] as being cordwain, or of calf- leather for
ox-leather, in deceit of the common people, and to the scandal of
the trade, he shall pay to the Chamber of the Guildhall, the
first time that he shall be convicted thereof, forty pence; the
second time, 7s. half a mark; and the third time the same, and
further, at the discretion of the mayor and aldermen.

Also - that no one of the trade shall keep house within the
franchise if he be not free [invested with the rights or
privileges] of the city and one knowing his trade, and that no
one shall be admitted to the freedom without the presence of the
wardens of the trade bearing witness to his standing, on the pain

Also - if any one of the trade shall be found offending touching
the trade, or rebellious against the wardens thereof, such
person shall not make complaint to any one of another trade, by
reason of the discord or dissension that may have arisen between
them; but he shall be ruled by the good folks of his own trade.
And if he shall differ from them as acting against right, then
let the offense be adjudged upon before the mayor and aldermen;
and if he be found rebellious against the ordinance, let him pay
to the Chamber the sum above mentioned.

Also - that no one of the trade shall entice or purloin the
servant of another from the service of his master by paying him
more than is ordained by the trade, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that no one shall carry out of his house any wares
connected with his trade for sale in market or elsewhere except
only at a certain place situated between Soperesland and the
Conduit; and that at a certain time of the day, that is to say,
between prime [the first hour of the day] and noon. And that no
shoes shall exceed the measure of seven inches, so that the
wares may be surveyed by the good folks of the trade, because of
the deceit upon the common people that might ensue and the
scandal of the trade, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that no one shall expose his wares openly for sale in
market on Sundays at any place, but only within his own dwelling
to serve the common people, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that if any one sells old shoes, he shall not mix new
shoes among the old in deceit of the common people and to the
scandal of the trade, on the pain aforesaid."

Smithfield was a field outside the city gates at which horses
were sold and raced. In 1372, the horsedealers and drovers
petitioned for a tax on animals sold there to pay for cleaning
the field. The city ordinance reads as follows: "On Wednesday
next after the Feast of St. Margaret the Virgin came reputable
men, the horsedealers and drovers, and delivered unto the mayor
and aldermen a certain petition in these words: 'To the mayor,
recorder, and aldermen show the dealers of Smithfield, that is
to say, the coursers and drovers, that for the amendment of the
said field they have granted and assented among them that for
the term of three years next ensuing after the date of this
petition for every horse sold in the said field there shall be
paid one penny, for every ox and cow one half-penny, for every
eight sheep one penny, and for every swine one penny by the
seller and the same by the purchaser who buys the same for
resale.` Afterwards, on the eleventh day of August in the same
year, Adam Fernham, keeper of the gaol at Newgate, Hugh,
Averelle, bailiff of Smithfield, and William Godhewe, weaver,
were chosen and sworn faithfully to collect and receive the said
pennies in form aforesaid and to clean the field of Smithfield
from time to time during such term of three years when

Many London houses were being made from stone and timber and even
brick and timber, instead of just timber and mud. However,
chimneys were still a luxury of the rich. There were windows of
glass and a guild of glaziers was chartered by the King. Many
single-roomed houses added a second-floor room for sleeping,
which was approached by a wooden or stone staircase from the
outside. Goods were displayed on a booth outside the door of the
house or hung in the windows. They were stored at night in the
cellar. Over the booths swung huge signs, which had to be nine
feet above street level to allow a man on horseback to ride
underneath. There were no sidewalks. Street repair work for
wages was supervised by a stone master. The streets sloped down
from the middle so that the filth of the streets would run down
the sides of the road. People sometimes threw the rubbish from
their houses onto the street although they were supposed to cart
it outside the city walls and to clean the frontage of their
houses once a week. Dustmen scavenged through the rubbish on the
streets. Pigs and geese were not allowed to run at large in the
streets, but had to be fed at home. There were other city rules
on building, public order, the use of fountains, precautions
against fire, trading rights in various districts, closing time
of taverns, and when refuse could be thrown into the streets,
e.g. nighttime.

Aldermen were constantly making rounds to test measures and
weights, wine cups, the height of tavern signs, and the mesh of
the fishing nets, which had to be at least two inches wide. They
saw that the taverns were shut when curfew was rung and arrested
anyone on the street after curfew who had a weapon, for no one
with a sword was allowed on the streets unless he was some great
lord or other substantial person of good reputation. Wards
provided citizens to guard the gates in their respective
neighborhood and keep its key.

The city was so dense that nuisance was a common action brought
in court, for instance, vegetable vendors near a church
obstructing passageway on the street or plumbers melting their
solder with a lower than usual shalt of the furnace so smoke was
inhaled by people nearby.

Crime in London was rare. Murder, burglary, highway robbery, and
gross theft were punishable by hanging. Forgery, fraud, was
punishable by the placement in the pillory or stocks or by
imprisonment. Perjury was punished by confession from a high
stool for the first offense, and the pillory for the second.
Slander and telling lies was punished by the pillory and wearing
a whetstone around one's neck.

Prominent Londoners sought to elevate their social position by
having their family marry into rural landholders of position.

Many master freemasons, who carved freestone or finely grained
sandstone and limestone artistically with mallet and chisel,
left the country for better wages after their wages were fixed
by statute. The curvilinear gothic style of architecture was
replaced by the perpendicular style, which was simpler and
cheaper to build. Church steeples now had clocks on them with
dials and hands to supplement the church bell ringing on the

Towns recognized surgery as a livelihood subject to admission and
oath to serve the social good. Master surgeons were admitted to
practice in 1369 in London in full husting before the mayor and
the aldermen and swore to: faithfully serve the people in
undertaking their cures, take reasonably from them, faithfully
follow their calling, present to the said mayor and aldermen the
defaults of others undertaking, so often as should be necessary;
to be ready, at all times when they should be warned, to attend
the maimed or wounded and others, to give truthful information
to the officers of the city as to such maimed, wounded, or
others whether they be in peril of death or not, and to
faithfully do all other things touching their calling.

Some young girls of good families were boarded at nunneries to be
taught there. Some upper class widows retired there. Only women
were allowed to be present at a birth, at which they spread the
knowledge of midwifery. As usual, many women died giving birth.
Various ways to prevent pregnancy were tried. It was believed
that a baby grew from a seed of the father planted in the woman's

Infant mortality was especially high in boroughs and burgess
family lines usually died out. A three-generation family span
was exceptional in the towns, despite family wealth.

Children's sweets included gingerbread and peppermint drops.
After the plague, gentlemen no longer had their children learn
to speak Norman. The grammar schools taught in English instead
of Norman. Bishops began to preach in English. Twenty years
later, English became the official language of the courts and of

A will in 1389 in which a wealthy citizen arranges for one son to
become a lawyer and the other a merchant: "Will of William de
Tonge, citizen of London: One hundred marks [1,333s.] each to my
two sons. And I will that my said two sons shall live upon the
profits of the money bequeathed to them above until the age of
twenty years. And if my said two sons be well learned in grammar
and adorned with good manners, which shall be known at the end
of twenty years, and the elder son wish to practice common law,
and if it is known that he would spend his time well in that
faculty, I will that over and above the profit of the said one
hundred marks he shall have yearly from my rents for the term of
seven years five marks [67s.]. And if he should waste his time
aforesaid, or if he should marry foolishly and unsuitably, I
will that he receive nothing more of the said five marks.

And if younger son wishes to attend the University of Oxford or
to establish himself well in the mystery of a merchant after the
age of twenty years, and [if] there be knowledge of his
praiseworthy progress in his faculty or his carefulness in
trading ... I will that he shall receive five marks yearly in the
manner described above for his maintenance, over and above the
profit of the said one hundred marks to him bequeathed, for the
space of seven years; and if he behave himself otherwise, I will
that thereupon he be excluded from the said five marks. And in
case the said bequest of 200 marks [2,667s.]to him and his
brother shall be annulled so that he shall have nothing therefrom
... then the said 200 marks shall be spent upon all the yearly
chaplains who can be had to celebrate divine service in the
church of All Hallows for my soul."

England was still an agricultural rather than a manufacturing
country. Imported were cloth, silks, linen, velvets, furs,
glass, wines, candles, millstones, amber, iron, and mercury.
Exported were wool, leather, lead, tin, and alabaster for
sculpturing. But the London Society of the Merchant Adventurers,
which had a monopoly of trade with the Low Countries, now
manufactured cloth good enough for export and began to buy up
raw wool in such quantity that its export declined.

An Oxford theologian and preacher, John Wyclif, voiced the
popular resentment of the materialism of the church, benefit of
clergy, immorality of priests, and the selling of indulgences
and pardons. He argued against the supremacy of the papal law
over the King's courts and against payments to the papacy. He
opined that the church had no power to excommunicate. The Friars
had become mere beggars and the church was still wealthy. He
proposed that all goods should be held in common by the
righteous and that the church should hold no property but be
entirely spiritual. He believed that people should rely on their
individual consciences. He thought that the Bible should be
available to people who could read English so that the people
could have a direct access to God without priests or the Pope.
Towards this end, he translated it from Latin into English in
1384. His preachers spread his views throughout the country. The
church then possessed about one-third of the land of the nation.

Stories were written about pilgrimage vacations of ordinary
people to religious sites in England. Geoffrey Chaucer's "Tales
of the Canterbury Pilgrims" portrayed characters of every social
class, including the knight with his squire, abbot, prioress,
nun, priest, monk, friar, poor parson of the country, summoner
(who enforced the jurisdiction and levied the dues of the church
courts), pardoner (sold pardons from the Pope), scholar, lawyer,
doctor, merchant, sailor, franklin, yeoman, haberdasher,
tapestry-maker, ploughman, cook, weaver, dyer, upholsterer,
miller, reeve, carpenter.

It told stories about a beautiful and virtuous wife disliked by
her mother-in- law, the difficulty of marriage between people of
different religions, the hatred of a poor person b his brother
and his neighbor, rich merchants who visited other kingdoms, the
importance of a man himself following the rules he sets for
other people's behavior, the spite of a man for a woman who
rejected him, the relative lack of enthusiasm of a wife for sex
as compared to her husband, a mother giving up her own comfort
for that of her child, the revenge killing of a murderer by the
dead man's friends, the joy of seeing a loved one after years of
separation, that life is more sad than happy, that lost money can
be retrieved, but time lost is lost forever.

Other stories in the Canterbury Tales were about two men who did
not remain friends after they fell in love with the same woman,
about a child who preferred to learn from an older child than
from his school-teacher, about a wife who convinced her husband
not to avenge her beating for the sake of peace, about a man who
woke up from bad dreams full of fear, about a man wanting to
marry a beautiful woman but later realizing a plain wife would
not be pursued by other men, about a man who drank so much wine
that he lost his mental and physical powers, about a woman who
married for money instead of love, about a man who said
something in frustration which he didn't mean, about a person
brought up in poverty who endured adversity better than one
brought up in wealth, about a wife who was loving and wise,
about a good marriage being more valuable than money, about a
virgin who committed suicide rather than be raped, about a wife
persuaded to adultery by a man who said he would otherwise kill
himself, about three men who found a pile of gold and murdered
each other to take it all, about an angry man who wanted to
kill, about a malicious man who had joy in seeing other men in
trouble and misfortune, about a man whose face turned red in
shame, about a wife expecting to have half of what her husband

Will Langland's poem "The Vision of William Concerning Piers
Plowman" portrays a pilgrimage of common people to the shrine of
Truth led by a virtuous laborer. Mystics wrote practical advice
with transcendental teaching, for instance "Scale of Perfection"
attributed to Walter Hilton and "Cloud of Unknowing". Richard
Rolle wrote about spiritual matters, probably the "Prick of
Conscience". Richard de Bury wrote "Philobiblon" about book
lovers. Jean Froissart wrote the "Chronicles" on knights.
Courtly ideals were expressed in "Sir Gawaine and the Grene
Knyght", wherein the adventures of the hero, an Arthur knight,
are allegorical in the struggle against the world, the flesh,
and the devil (1370). "Pearl" eulogized all that is pure and
innocent on the event of the death of a two year old child.
Paper supplemented parchment, so there were more books.

Political songs and poems were written about the evil times of
King Edward II, the military triumphs of King Edward III, and
the complaints of the poor against their oppressors, such as
"Song of the Husbandman". John Gower wrote moralizing poems on
the villein's revolt, the sins of the clergy and lawyers, and the
bad rule of King Richard II. Robin Hood ballads were popular.
The minstrel, who was a honorable person, replaced the
troubadour of older times.

There were many colleges at Oxford and Cambridge due to the
prohibition of gifts to the church. Laymen instead of
ecclesiastics were appointed as Chancellor. The Masters at
Oxford got rid of ecclesiastical supervision by a bishop and
archdeacon by 1368. One could be admitted as a student at age

A Bachelor of Arts degree was granted after four years of study
and an oral exam. Required reading in 1340 for the Bachelor's
Degree was Aristotlean logic and a selection from these works:
"Of Heaven and Earth", "On the Soul", "Of meteors", "Of Birth
and Decay", "Of Feeling and What is Felt", "Of Memory and
Recollection", "Of Sleep and Waking", "Of the Movement of
Animals", "Of Minor Points in Natural History".

A Master of Arts degree could be awarded after three more years
of study and teaching. A Doctorate degrees in theology required
ten more years of study. A Doctorate in civil or canon law
required eight more years. A man with a degree in canon law who
wanted to practice in a certain bishop's court had to first
satisfy this bishop of his competence. The guilds gave rise to
the Inns of Court in London. They used the Register of Writs,
the case law of the Year Books, and disputation to teach their

For a doctorate in medicine from Oxford or Cambridge, five more
years plus two years of practice were required. Surgery was not
taught because it was considered manual labor. Humans were
thought to be influenced by four humors: sanguine, phlegmatic,
choleric, and melancholic. Urinalysis and pulse beat were used
for diagnosis. Epilepsy and apoplexy were understood as spasms
inside the head. It was known what substances served as
laxatives and diuretics. Teeth were extracted, eye cataracts
were removed with a silver needle, and skin from the arm was
grafted onto a mutilated face.

Englishmen who had collected books on philosophy, medicine,
astronomy, and history and literature books from the continent
gave their collections to the universities, which started their
libraries. Marco Polo's discoveries on his journey to China were

The requirements of elementary and higher studies were adjusted
in 1393 and began the public school system. William of Wykeham's
school, St. Mary College of Winchester in Oxford was the
prototype. The curriculum was civil law, canon law, medicine,
astronomy with astronomical instruments that were made, theology,
and the arts. The arts textbooks were still grammar, logic,
Donatus, and Aristotle. Many laymen were literate, for instance
country gentry, merchants, and craftsmen. Laymen instead of
clerics were now appointed to the great offices of state.

Parliament was composed of representatives from 100 boroughs and
37 shires. Merchants were entering Parliament and paid much of
the taxes. Some were created Earls and appointed as ministers to
the King. Edward III did not summon anyone to his council who
did not have the confidence of the magnates [barons, earls,
bishops, and abbots]. Under him, the commons took a leading part
in the granting of taxes and the presentation of petitions.

At the 1376 Parliament, ("the Good Parliament") the Commons,
which formerly had only consented to taxes, took political
action by complaining that the King's councilors had grown rich
by war profiteering at the cost of impoverishing the nation and
the people were too poor to endure any more taxation for the war
and held a hearing on malfeasance of two ministers. The
Parliament found the charges proved and dismissed them from
office. This established the constitutional means for
impeachment and removal of ministers. The commons demanded that
its members be elected by shire citizens rather than appointed
by the sheriff. Actions of this Parliament were undone a few
months later.

King Richard II exiled Henry of Lancaster, forbade his
inheritance, and took his property. This made all propertied men
anxious. The "Merciless Parliament" of 1388 swept out King
Richard II's friends. Parliament threw Richard II into prison
and elected Lancaster to be King Henry IV. This action
established clearly that royal decrees were subordinate to
parliamentary statutes. The House of Commons became very

So the roles of Parliament and the King's council are starting to
differentiate into legislative and executive, respectively. The
legislative function is law- making and the executive is
regulation-making that refines and effectuates the laws of
Parliament. But the legislative, executive and judicial
authorities have not as yet become so completely separated that
they cannot on occasion work together.

There was a standard form of direct taxation voted by Parliament,
which was normally 1/10 of the value of all moveables in towns
and royal domains and 1/15 in the country.

>From 1150 to 1400, resistance was an ordinary remedy for
political disagreements. If a popular leader raised his standard
in a popular cause, an irregular army could be assembled in a
day. (There was no regular army, since England was protected by
the sea from invasion.) So misgovernment by a King would be
quickly restrained. Society recovered quickly from conflict and
civil war because the national wealth consisted chiefly in
flocks and herds and in the simple buildings inhabited by the
people. In a week after armed resistance, the agricultural
worker was driving his team. There was little furniture, stock of
shops, manufactured goods, or machinery that could be destroyed.

The feudal army was summoned for the last time in the 100 year
war with France, which began in 1337. In it the English longbow
was used to pierce French knights' armor. Guns and cannon with
gunpowder were introduced in 1338. They became common by 1372
and foresaw the end to the competition between the strength of
arrows to pierce and the heaviness of armor to resist.
Featherbeds and blooded horses were favorite spoils of war
brought back to England. In th 1300s and 1400s, the King relied
on mercenaries hired directly or by contract with his great
nobles for foreign wars.

Many lords got men to fight with them by livery and maintenance
employment agreements such as this one of 1374: "Bordeaux,
February 15. This indenture, made between our lord King John [of
Gaunt, of Castile, etc.] of the one part and Symkyn Molyneux,
esquire, of the other part, witnesses that the said Symkyn is
retained and will remain with our said lord for peace and for
war for the term of his life, as follows: that is to say, the
said Symkyn shall be bound to serve our said lord as well in time
of peace as of war in whatsoever parts it shall please our said
lord, well and fitly arrayed. And he shall be boarded as well in
time of peace as of war. And he shall take for his fees by the
year, as well in time of peace as of war, 133s. ten marks
[133s.4d] sterling from the issues of the Duchy of Lancaster by
the hands of the receiver there who now is or shall be in time to
come, at the terms of Easter and Michaelmas by even portions
yearly for the whole of his life. And, moreover, our lord has
granted to him by the year in time of war five marks [67s.]
sterling by the hands of the treasurer of war for the time being.
And his year of war shall begin the day when he shall move from
his inn towards our said lord by letters which shall be sent to
him thereof, and thenceforward he shall take wages coming and
returning by reasonable daily [payments] and he shall have
fitting freightage for him, his men, horses, and other harness
within reason, and in respect of his war horses taken and lost
in the service of our said lord, and also in respect to
prisoners and other profits of war taken or gained by him or any
of his men, the said our lord will do to him as to other squires
of his rank."

Forecastles and stern castles on ships were lower and broader.
Underneath them were cabins. The English ship was still
single-masted with a single square sail. A navy was formed with
over 200 ships selected by the English admirals acting for the
King at the ports. Men were seized and pressed into service and
criminals were pardoned from crimes to become sailors in the
fleet, which was led by the King's ship. They used the superior
longbow against the French sailor's crossbow. In 1372, the Tower
of London had four mounted fortress cannon and Dover had six.

The war's disruption of shipping caused trade to decline. But the
better policing of the narrow seas made piracy almost disappear.

In 1363, Calais, a continental town held by the English, became
the staple town for lead, tin, cloth, and wool and was placed
under a group of London capitalists: the Merchants of the
Staple. All exports of these had to pass through Calais, where
customs tax was collected. Merchants who took cloth abroad to
various places to sell, personally or by agents, were called
merchant adventurers to distinguish them from the Merchant of
the Staple.

Waterpower was replacing foot power in driving the mills where
cloth was cleaned and fulled [thickened].

A boundary dispute between two barons resulted in the first true
survey map. Nine cow pastures were divided by a boundary marked
by a shield on a pole which the commission of true and sworn men
had set up.

Bethlehem Hospital was used from 1377 to house the mentally ill.

The Law

After the Black Death of 1348 these statutes were enacted:

High treason was defined by statute in 1352 as levying war
against the King, aiding the King's enemies, compassing or
imagining the death of the King, Queen, or their eldest son and
heir, or violating the Queen or the eldest unmarried daughter or
the wife of the King's eldest son and heir, making or knowingly
using counterfeits of the King's great or privy seal or coinage,
or slaying the Chancellor, Treasurer, or any justice in the
exercise of their duty. The penalty was forfeit of life and
lands. During the reign of King Richard II, who was later
disposed, high treason was extended to include making a riot and
rumor, compassing or purposing to depose the King, revoking
one's homage or liege to the King, and attempting to repeal a
statute. But these extensions were repealed after he was

Petit treason was defined by statute and included a servant
slaying his master, a wife her husband, or a man his lord, to
whom was owed faith and obedience.

No one shall tell false news or lies about prelates, dukes,
earls, barons, and other nobles and great men or the Chancellor,
Treasurer, a Justice, Clerk of the Privy Seal, Steward of the
King's house whereby debates and discords might arise between
these lords or between the lords and the commons. Cases shall be
tried by the King's Council, which included the Chancellor,
Treasurer, and chief justices.

Preachers drawing crowds by ingenious sermons and inciting them
to riot shall be arrested by sheriffs and tried by the
ecclesiastical court.

Any stranger passing at night of whom any have suspicion shall be
arrested and taken to the Sheriff.

No man shall ride with a spear, upon pain of forfeiting it.

No servant of agriculture or laborer shall carry any sword or
dagger, or forfeit it, except in time of war in defense of the
nation. He may carry bow and arrow [for practice] on Sundays and
holy days, when he should not play games such as tennis.
football, or dice.

No one may enter another's land and tenements by strong hand nor
with a mob, upon pain of imprisonment and ransom at the King's

Charters, releases, obligations, [quit-claim deeds] and other
deeds burnt or destroyed in uprisings shall be reissued without
fee, after trial by the King and his council. Manumissions,
obligations, releases and other bonds and feoffments in land
made by force, coercion or duress during mob uprisings are void.

Men who rape and women consenting after a rape shall lose their
inheritance and dower and joint feoffments. The husbands, or
father or next of kin of such women may sue the rapist by
inquisition, but not by battle. The penalty is loss of life and

The Statute of Laborers of 1351 required all workers, from
tailors to ploughmen, to work only at pre-plague wage rates and
forced the vagrant peasant to work for anyone who claimed him or
her. It also encouraged longer terms of employment as in the
past rather than for a day at a time. Statutory price controls on
food limited profits to reasonable ones according to the
distance of the supply. Later, wages were determined in each
county by Justices of the Peace according to the dearth of
victuals while allowing a victualler a reasonable profit and a
penalty was specified as paying the value of the excess wages
given or received for the first offense, double this for the
second offense, and treble this or forty days imprisonment for
the third offense.

A fugitive laborer will be outlawed, and when found, shall be
burnt in the forehead with the letter "F" for falsity.

Children who labored at the plough and cart or other agriculture
shall continue in that labor and may not go into a craft.

A statute of 1363 designed to stop hoarding various types of
merchandise until a type became scarce so to sell it at high
prices, required merchants to deal in only one type of
merchandise. It also required craftsmen to work in only one
craft as before (except women who traditionally did several
types of handiwork). This was repealed a year later.

Where scarcity has made the price of poultry high, it shall be
lowered to 8d. for a young capon, 7d. for an old capon or a
goose, 9d. for a hen, and 10d. for a pullet.

The fares for passage on boats on fresh waters and from Dover to
the continent shall remain at their old rate.

Any merchant selling at a fair after it has ended will forfeit to
the King twice the value of that sold.

Anyone finding and proving cloth contrary to the assize of cloth
shall have one- third of it for his labor.

No shoemaker nor cordwainer shall tan their leather and no tanner
shall make shoes, in order that tanning not be false or poorly

The staple was reinstituted by statute of 1353 after an
experiment without it, in which profits of a staple went to
staples outside the nation. The rationale for the staple was to
facilitate inspection of quality and the levy of customs. Wool,
woolfells, leather, and lead sold for export had to go through
the staple town. The penalty was forfeiture of lands, tenements,
goods, and chattel. (The staple statute remained basically
unchanged for the next 200 years.) The mayor and constables of
the staple were elected annually by the native and foreign
merchants of the place. The mayor gave validity to contracts for
a set fee, by seal of his office. He and the constables had
jurisdiction over all persons and things touching the staple,
which was regulated by the Law Merchant in all matters of
contract, covenant, debt, and felonies against foreign merchants.
A Hue and Cry was required to be raised and followed for anyone
taking a cart of merchandise or slaying a merchant, denizen
[resident alien] or alien, or the town would answer for the
robbery and damage done.

All denizen [foreigner permitted to reside in the realm with
certain rights and privileges] and alien merchants may buy and
sell goods and merchandise, in gross, in any part of the
country, despite town charters or franchises, to anyone except
an enemy of the King. They may also sell small wares: victuals,
fur, silk, cover chiefs, silver wire, and gold wire in retail,
but not cloth or wine. They must sell their goods within three
months of arrival. Any alien bringing goods to the nation to
sell must buy goods of the nation to the value of at least
one-half that of his merchandise sold. These merchants must
engage in no collusion to lower the price of merchandise
bought, take merchandise bought to the staple, and promise to
hold no staple beyond the sea for the same merchandise. An
amendment disallowed denizens from taking wools, leather,
woolfells, or lead for export, but only strangers.

Towns failing to bring disturbers of this right to justice shall
forfeit their franchise to the King and pay double damages to
the merchant. The disturber shall be imprisoned for a year.

Cloth may not be tacked nor folded for sale to merchants unless
they are opened to the buyers for inspection, for instance for
concealed inferior wool. Workers, weavers, and fullers shall put
their seals to every cloth. And anyone could bring his own
wools, woolfells, leather, and lead to the staple to sell without
being compelled to sell them in the country. Special streets or
warehouses were appointed with warehouse rent fixed by the mayor
and constables with four of the principal inhabitants. Customs
duties were regulated and machinery provided for their
collection. No one was to forestall or regrate, that is, buy at
one price and sell at a higher price in the same locale.
Forestallers were those who bought raw material on its way to
market. Regrators were those who tried to create a "corner" in
the article in the market itself.

Anyone may ship or carry grain out of the nation, except to
enemies, after paying duties. But the council may restrain this
passage when necessary for the good of the nation. Any merchant,
privy or stranger, who was robbed of goods on the sea or lost
his ship by tempest or other misfortune on the sea banks, his
goods coming to shore could not be declared Wreck, but were to be
delivered to the merchant after he proves ownership in court by
his marks on the goods or by good and lawful merchants.

All stakes and obstacles set up in rivers impeding the passage of
boats shall be removed.

Imported cloth shall be inspected by the King's officials for
non-standard measurements or defects [despite town franchises].

No one shall leave the nation except at designated ports, on pain
of one year's imprisonment.

English merchants may carry their merchandise in foreign ships if
there are no English ships available.

Social distinctions by attire were mandated by statute of 1363. A
servant, his wife, son, or daughter, shall only wear cloth worth
no more than 27s. and shall not have more than one dish of meat
or fish a day. Carters, ploughmen, drivers of the plough,
oxherds, cowherds, shepherds, and all other people owning less
than 40s. of goods and chattels shall only wear blanket and
russet worth no more than 12d. and girdles of linen according to
their estate. Craftsmen and free peasants shall only wear cloth
worth no more than 40s. Esquires and gentlemen below the rank of
knight with no land nor rent over 2,000s. a year shall only wear
cloth worth no more than 60s., no gold, silver, stone, fur, or
the color purple. Esquires with land up to 2,667s. per year may
wear 67s. cloth, cloth of silk and silver, miniver [grey] fur
and stones, except head stones. Merchants, citizens, burgesses,
artificers, and people of handicraft having goods and chattels
worth 10,000s. shall wear cloth the same value as that worn by
esquires and gentlemen with land or rent within 2,000s. per
year. The same merchants and burgesses with goods and chattels
worth 13,333s. and esquires and gentlemen with land or rent
within 400s. per year may not wear gold cloth, miniver fur,
ermine [white] fur, or embroidered stones. A knight with land or
rents within 2,667s. yearly are limited to cloth of 80s., but
his wife may wear a stone on her head. Knights and ladies with
land or rents within 8,000s. to 20,000s. yearly may not wear fur
of ermine or of letuse, but may wear gold, and such ladies may
wear pearls as well as stones on their heads. The penalty is
forfeiture of such apparel. This statute is necessary because of
"outrageous and excessive apparel of diverse persons against
their estate and degree, to the great destruction and
impoverishment of all the land".

If anyone finds a hawk [used to hunt birds, ducks, and pheasant]
that a lord has lost, he must take it to the sheriff for keeping
for the lord to claim. If there is no claim after four months,
the finder may have it only if he is a gentleman. If one steals
a hawk from a lord or conceals from him the fact that it has been
found, he shall pay the price of the hawk and be imprisoned for
two years.

No laborer or any other man who does not have lands and tenements
of the value of 40s. per year shall keep a greyhound [or other
hound or dog] to hunt, nor shall they use nets or cords or other
devices to take [deer, rabbits, conies, nor other gentlemen's
game], upon pain of one year imprisonment.

No man shall eat more than two courses of meat or fish in his
house or elsewhere, except at festivals, when three are allowed
[because great men ate costly meats to excess and the lesser
people were thereby impoverished].

No one may export silver, whether bullion or coinage, or wine
except foreign merchants may carry back the portion of their
money not used to buy English commodities. The penalty for
bringing false or counterfeit money into the nation is loss of
life and member. An assigned searcher [inspector] for coinage of
the nation on the sea passing out of the nation or bad money in
the nation shall have one third of it. No foreign money may be
used in the nation.

Each goldsmith shall have an identifying mark, which shall be
placed on his vessel or work only after inspection by the King's

No one shall give anything to a beggar who is capable of working.

Vagrants begging in London were banned by this 1359 ordinance:
"Forasmuch as many men and women, and others, of divers
counties, who might work, to the help of the common people, have
betaken themselves from out of their own country to the city of
London and do go about begging there so as to have their own ease
and repose, not wishing to labor or work for their sustenance, to
the great damage of the common people; and also do waste divers
alms which would otherwise be given to many poor folks, such as
lepers, blind, halt, and persons oppressed with old age and
divers other maladies, to the destruction of the support of the
same - we do command on behalf of our lord the King, whom may God
preserve and bless, that all those who go about begging in the
said city and who are able to labor and work for the profit of
the common people shall quit the said city between now and
Monday next ensuing. And if any such shall be found begging
after the day aforesaid, the same shall be taken and put in the
stocks on Cornhill for half a day the first time, and the second
time he shall remain in the stocks one whole day, and the third
time he shall be taken and shall remain in prison for forty days
and shall then forswear the said city forever. And every
constable and the beadle of every ward of the said city shall be
empowered to arrest such manner of folks and to put them in the
stocks in manner aforesaid."

The hundred year cry to "let the King live on his own" found
fruition in a 1352 statute requiring consent of the Parliament
before any commission of array for militia could be taken and a
1362 statute requiring purchases of goods and means of
conveyance for the King and his household to be made only by
agreement with the seller and with payment to him before the
King traveled on, instead of at the low prices determined
unilaterally by the King's purveyer.

Every man who has wood within the forest may take houseboot and
heyboot in his wood without being arrested so long as it take
such within the view of the foresters.

English was made the official language of the courts, replacing
French and Latin, and schools in 1362 and of Parliament,
replacing Anglo-Norman, in 1363.

No fecal matter, dung, garbage, or entrails of animals killed
shall be put into ditches or rivers or other waters, so that
maladies and diseases will not be caused by corrupted and
infected air. The penalty is 400s. to the King after trial by
the Chancellor.

Gifts or alienation of land to guilds, fraternities, or towns are
forbidden. Instead, it escheats to its lord, or in his default,
to the King.

No man will be charged to go out of his shire to do military
service except in case of an enemy invasion of the nation. Men
who chose to go into the King's service outside the nation shall
be paid wages by the King until their return.

Admiralty law came into being when ancient naval manners and
customs were written down as the "Black Book of the Admiralty".
This included the organization of the fleet under the Admiral,
sea-maneuver rules such as not laying anchor until the Admiral's
ship had, engagement rules, and the distribution of captured
goods: one-fourth to the vessel owner, one-fourth to the King if
the seamen were paid by the King's wages, and the rest divided
among the crew and Admiral. Stealing a boat or an anchor holding
a boat was punishable by hanging. Stealing an oar or an anchor
was punishable by forty days imprisonment for the first offense,
six months imprisonment for the second, and hanging for the
third. Desertion was punishable by loss of double the amount of
wages earned and imprisonment for one year. Cases were tried by
jury in the Admiral's court.

Wines, vinegar, oil and honey imported shall be gauged by the
King's appointees.

A man may not hire another man to fight in his place in a
quarrel, except one living in his household or his esquire.

Judicial Procedure

The office of Justice of the Peace was developed and filled by
knights, esquires and gentlemen who were closely associated with
the magnates. There was no salary nor any requirement of
knowledge of the law. They were to pursue, restrain, arrest,
imprison, try, and duly punish felons, trespassers, and rioters
according to the law. They were expected to arrest vagrants who
would not work and imprison them until sureties for good
behavior was found for them. They also were empowered to
inspect weights and measures and enforce the new law against
hiring another to fight one's quarrel. Trespass included forcible
offenses of breaking of a fence enclosing private property,
assault and battery, false imprisonment, and taking away goods
and chattels.

Private suits for murder or personal injury were falling into
disuse and being replaced by the action of trespass.

Pardons may be given only for slaying another in one's own
defense or by misfortune [accident], and not for slaying by
lying in wait, assault, or malice aforethought.

Justices of Assize, sheriffs, and Justices of the Peace and
mayors shall have power to inquire of all vagabonds and compel
them to find surety of their good bearing or be imprisoned.

Treason was tried in Parliament, by bill of "attainder". It was
often used for political purposes. Most attaints were reversed
as a term of peace made between factions.

A reversioner shall be received in court to defend his right when
a tenant for a term of life, tenant in dower, or by the Law of
England, or in Tail after Possibility of Issue extinct are sued
in court for the land, so as to prevent collusion by the

A person in debt may not avoid his creditors by giving his
tenements or chattels to his friends in collusion to have the
profits at their will.

Where there was a garnishment given touching a plea of land, a
writ of deceit is also maintainable.

Actions of debt will be heard only in the county where the
contract was made. The action of debt includes enforcement of
contracts executed or under seal, e.g. rent due on a lease, hire
of an archer, contract of sale or repair of an item. Thus there
is a growing connection between the actions of debt and

Executors have an action for trespass to their testators' goods
and chattels in like manner as did the testator when alive.

If a man dies intestate, his goods shall be administered by his
next and most lawful friends appointed. Such administrators
shall have the same powers and duties as executors and be
accountable as are executors to the ecclesiastical court.

Children born to English parents in parts beyond the sea may
inherit from their ancestors in the same manner as those born in
the nation.

A person grieved by a false oath in a town court proceeding may
appeal to the King's Bench or Common Pleas, regardless of any
town franchise.

The Court of the King's Bench worked independently of the King.
It became confined to the established common law. The King
proclaimed that petitions for remedies that the common law
didn't cover be addressed to the Chancellor, who was not bound
by established law, but could do equity. With the backing of the
council, he made decisions implementing the policy of the Statute
of Laborers. Most of these concerned occupational competency,
for instance negligent activity of carriers, builders,
shepherds, doctors, clothworkers, smiths, innkeepers, and
jailers. For instance, the common law action of detinue could
force return of cloth bailed for fulling or sheep bailed for
pasturing, but could not address damages due to faulty work. The
Chancellor addressed issues of loss of wool, dead lambs, and
damaged sheep, as well as dead sheep. He imposed a legal duty on
innkeepers to prevent injury or damage to a patron or his goods
from third parties. A dog bite or other damage by a dog known by
its owner to be vicious was made a more serious offense than
general damage by any dog. A person starting a fire was given a
duty to prevent the fire from damaging property of others. These
new forms of action came to be known as assumpsit, which
provided damages for breach of an oral agreement and a written
agreement without a seal, or trespass on the case, which did not
require the element of force of the trespass offense.

Decisions of the common law courts are appealable to Parliament,
which can change the common law by statute.

No attorney may practice law and also be a justice of assize.

Champerty [an outsider supporting or maintaining litigation in
which there is an agreement for him to share in the award] is
forbidden because court officials have maintained and defended
a party which has resulted in another party being cheated out of
his land.

Whereas it is contained in the Magna Carta that none shall be
imprisoned nor put out of his freehold, nor of his franchises
nor free custom, unless it be by the law of the land; it is
established that from henceforth none shall be taken by petition
or suggestion made to the King unless by indictment of good and
lawful people of the same neighborhood where such deeds be done,
in due manner, or by process made by writ original at the common
law; nor that none be out of his franchise, nor of his
freeholds, unless he be duly brought into answer and forejudges
of the same by the course of law. (forerunner of indictment grand
juries and trial juries for criminal cases)

There were so many cases that were similar to, but not in
technical conformity with, the requirements of the common law
for a remedy by the reign of Edward III, that litigants were
flowing into the Chancery, which had the power to give swift and
equitable relief.

The King will fine instead of seize the land of his tenants who
sell or alienate their land, such fine to be determined by the
Chancellor by due process.

The King's coroner and a murderer who had taken sanctuary in a
church often agreed to the penalty of confession and perpetual
banishment from the nation as follows: "Memorandum that on July
6, [1347], Henry de Roseye abjured the realm of England before
John Bernard, the King's coroner, at the church of Tendale in
the County of Kent in form following: 'Hear this, O lord the
coroner, that I, Henry de Roseye, have stolen an ox and a cow of
the widow of John Welsshe of Retherfeld; and I have stolen
eighteen beasts from divers men in the said county. And I
acknowledge that I have feloniously killed Roger le Swan in the
town of Strete in the hundred of Strete in the rape of Lewes and
that I am a felon of the lord King of England. And because I
have committed many ill deeds and thefts in his land, I abjure
the land of the Lord Edward King of England, and [I
acknowledge] that I ought to hasten to the port of Hastings,
which thou hast given me, and that I ought not to depart from
the way, and if I do so I am willing to be taken as a thief and
felon of the lord King, and that at Hastings I will diligently
seek passage, and that I will not wait there save for the flood
and one ebb if I can have passage; and if I cannot have passage
within that period, I will go up to the knees into the sea every
day, endeavoring to cross; and unless I can do so within forty
days, I will return at once to the church, as a thief and a
felon of the lord King, so help me God."

Property damage by a tenant of a London building was assessed in
a 1374 case: "John Parker, butcher, was summoned to answer
Clement Spray in a plea of trespass, wherein the latter
complained that the said John, who had hired a tavern at the
corner of St. Martin-le-Grand from him for fifteen months, had
committed waste and damage therein, although by the custom of the
city no tenant for a term of years was entitled to destroy any
portion of the buildings or fixtures let to him. He alleged that
the defendant had taken down the doorpost of the tavern and also
of the shop, the boarded door of a partition of the tavern, a
seat in the tavern, a plastered partition wall, the stone
flooring in the chamber, the hearth of the kitchen, and the
mantelpiece above it, a partition in the kitchen, two doors and
other partitions, of a total value of 21s. four pounds, 1s.
8d., and to his damage, 400s. 20 pounds. The defendant denied
the trespass and put himself on the country. Afterwards a jury
... found the defendant guilty of the aforesaid trespass to the
plaintiff's damage, 40d. Judgment was given for that amount and
a fine of 1s. to the King, which the defendant paid immediately
in court."

The innkeeper's duty to safeguard the person and property of his
lodgers was applied in this case:

"John Trentedeus of Southwark was summoned to answer William
Latymer touching a plea why, whereas according to the law and
custom of the realm of England, innkeepers who keep a common inn
are bound to keep safely by day and by night without reduction
or loss men who are passing through the parts where such inns
are and lodging their goods within those inns, so that, by
default of the innkeepers or their servants, no damage should in
any way happen to such their guests ...

On Monday after the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary
in the fourth year of the now King by default of the said John,
certain malefactors took and carried away two small portable
chests with 533s. and also with charters and writings, to wit
two writings obligatory, in the one of which is contained that a
certain Robert Bour is bound to the said William in 2,000s. and
in the other that a certain John Pusele is bound to the same
William in 800s. 40 pounds ... and with other muniments
[writings defending claims or rights] of the same William, to
wit his return of all the writs of the lord King for the counties
of Somerset and Dorset, whereof the same William was then
sheriff, for the morrow of the Purification of the Blessed Mary
the Virgin in the year aforesaid, as well before the same lord
the King in his Chancery and in his Bench as before the justices
of the King's Common Bench and his barons of his Exchequer,
returnable at Westminster on the said morrow, and likewise the
rolls of the court of Cranestock for all the courts held there
from the first year of the reign of the said lord the King until
the said Monday, contained in the same chests being lodged
within the inn of the same John at Southwark

And the said John ... says that on the said Monday about the
second hour after noon the said William entered his inn to be
lodged there, and at once when he entered, the same John
assigned to the said William a certain chamber being in that
inn, fitting for his rank, with a door and a lock affixed to the
same door with sufficient nails, so that he should lie there and
put and keep his things there, and delivered to the said William
the key to the door of the said chamber, which chamber the said
William accepted...

William says that ... when the said John had delivered to him the
said chamber and key as above, the same William, being occupied
about divers businesses to be done in the city of London, went
out from the said inn into the city to expedite the said
businesses and handed over the key of the door to a certain
servant of the said William to take care of in meantime,
ordering the servant to remain in the inn meanwhile and to take
care of his horses there; and afterwards, when night was
falling, the same William being in the city and the key still in
the keeping of the said servant, the wife of the said John
called unto her into her hall the said servant who had the key,
giving him food and drink with a merry countenance and asking
him divers questions and occupying him thus for a long time,
until the staple of the lock of the door aforesaid was thrust on
one side out of its right place and the door of the chamber was
thereby opened and his goods, being in the inn of the said John,
were taken and carried off by the said malefactors ... The said
John says ...[that his wife did not call the servant into the
hall, but that] when the said servant came into the said hall and
asked his wife for bread and ale and other necessaries to be
brought to the said chamber of his master, his wife immediately
and without delay delivered to the same servant the things for
which he asked ... protesting that no goods of the same William
in the said inn were carried away by the said John his servant or
any strange malefactors other than the persons of the household
of the said William."

On the Coram Rege Roll of 1395 is a case on the issue of whether
a court-crier can be seized by officers of a staple:

"Edmund Hikelyng, 'criour', sues William Baddele and wife Maud,
John Olney, and William Knyghtbrugge for assault and
imprisonment at Westminster, attacking him with a stick and
imprisoning him for one hour on Wednesday before St. Martin, 19
Richard II.

Baddele says Mark Faire of Winchester was prosecuting a bill of
debt for 18s. against Edmund and John More before William
Brampton, mayor of the staple of Westminster, and Thomas Alby
and William Askham, constables of the said staple, and on that
day the Mayor and the constables issued a writ of capias against
Edmund and John to answer Mark and be before the Mayor and the
constables at the next court. This writ was delivered to Baddele
as sergeant of the staple, and by virtue of it he took and
imprisoned Edmund in the staple. Maud and the others say they
aided Baddele by virtue of the said writ.

Edmund does not acknowledge Baddele to be sergeant of the staple
or Mark a merchant of the staple or that he was taken in the
staple. He is minister of the King's Court of his Bench and is
crier under Thomas Thorne, the chief crier, his master. Every
servant of the court is under special protection while doing his
duty or on his way to do it. On the day in question, he was at
Westminster carrying his master's staff of office before Hugh
Huls, one of the King's justices, and William took him in the
presence of the said justice and imprisoned him.

The case is adjourned for consideration from Hilary to Easter."

Chapter 10

The Times: 1399-1485

This period, which begins with the reign of the usurper King,
Henry IV, is dominated by war: the last half of the 100 year war
with France, which, with the help of Joan of Arc, took all
English land on the continent except the port of Calais, and the
War of the Roses in England. The barons and earls returned from
France with their private fighting units. Nobles employed men who
had returned from fighting to use their fighting skill in local
defense. All the great houses kept bands of armed retainers.
These retainers were given land or pay or both as well as
liveries [uniforms or badges] bearing the family crest. They came
to fight for the cause of one of the two royal family lines
competing for the throne. In the system of "livery and
maintenance", if the retainer was harassed by the law or by
enemies, the lord gave him protection [maintenance].

In both wars, the musket was used as well as the long-bow. Cannon
were used to besiege castles and destroy their walls, so many
castles were allowed to deteriorate. The existence of cannon
also limited the usefulness of town walls for defense.

Barons and earls settled their disputes in the field rather than
in the royal courts. And men relied increasingly on the
protection of the great men of their neighborhood and less on
the King's courts for the safety of their lives and land. Local
men involved in court functions usually owed allegiance to a lord
which compromised the exercise of justice. Men serving in an
assize often lied to please their lord instead of telling the
truth. Lords maintained, supported, or promoted litigation with
money or aid supplied to one party to the detriment of justice.
It was not unusual for lords to attend court with a great force
of retainers behind them. Royal justices were flouted or bribed.
The King's writ was denied or perverted. For 6-8s., a lord could
have the King instruct his sheriff to impanel a jury which would
find in his favor. A statute against riots, forcible entries,
and, excepting the King, magnates' liveries of uniform, food,
and badges to their retainers, except in war outside the nation,
was passed, but was difficult to enforce because the offenders
were lords, who dominated the Parliament and the council.

Since the power of the throne changed from one faction to
another, many bills of attainder caused lords to lose their
lands to the King. Fighting between lords and gangs of ruffians
holding the roads, breaking into and seizing manor houses, and
openly committing murders continued. The roads were not safe.
People turned to mysticism to escape from the everyday violent
world. They had no religious enthusiasm, but believed in magic
and sorcery.

With men so often gone to fight, their wives managed the
household alone. The typical wife had maidens of equal class to
whom she taught household management, spinning, weaving, carding
wool with iron wool-combs, heckling flax, embroidery, and making
garments. There were foot-treadles for spinning wheels. She
taught the children. Each day she scheduled the activities of
the household including music, conversation, dancing, chess,
reading, playing ball, and gathering flowers. She organized
picnics, rode horseback and went hunting, hawking to get birds,
and rabbit-ferreting. She was nurse to all around her. If her
husband died, she usually continued in this role because most
men named their wives as executors of their wills with full
power to act as she thought best.

For ladies, close-fitting jackets came to be worn over
close-fitting long gowns with low, square-cut necklines and
flowing sleeves, under which was worn a girdle. All her hair was
confined by a hair net. Headdresses were very elaborate and
heavy, trailing streamers of linen. Some were in the shape of
hearts, butterflies, crescents, double horns, or long cones. Men
also were wearing hats rather than hoods. They wore huge hats of
velvet, fur, or leather. Their hair was cut into a cap-like
shape on their heads, and later was shoulder-length. They wore
doublets with thick padding over the shoulders or short tunics
over the trucks of their bodies and tightened at the waist to
emphasize the shoulders. Their collars were high. Their sleeves
were long concoctions of velvet, damask, and satin, sometimes
worn wrapped around their arms in layers. Their legs were
covered with hose, often in different colors. Shoes were pointed
with upward pikes at the toes. At another time, shoes were broad
with blunt toes. Both men and women wore much jewelry and

Cooking and the serving of meals was also elaborate. There were
many courses of a variety of meats, fish, stews, and soups, with
a variety of spices. The standard number of meals was three:
breakfast, dinner, and supper. The diet of an ordinary family
such as that of a small shopholder or yeoman farmer included
beef, mutton, pork, a variety of fish, both fresh and salted,
venison, nuts, peas, oatmeal, honey, grapes, apples, pears, and
fresh vegetables. Cattle and sheep were driven from Wales to
English markets. This droving lasted for five centuries.

Many types of people besides the nobility and knights now had
property and thus were considered gentry: female lines of the
nobility, merchants and their sons, lawyers, auditors, squires,
and peasant-yeomen. The burgess grew rich as the knight dropped
lower. The great merchants lived in mansions which could occupy
whole blocks. Typically, there would be an oak-paneled great
hall, with adjoining kitchen, pantry, and buttery on one end and
a great parlor to receive guests, bedrooms, wardrobes, servants'
rooms, and a chapel on the other end or on a second floor. The
beds were surrounded by heavy draperies to keep out cold drafts.
Master and servants ceased to eat together in the same hall. In
towns these mansions were entered through a gate through a row
of shops on the street. A lesser dwelling would have these rooms
on three floors over a shop on the first floor. An average
Londoner would have a shop, a storeroom, a hall, a kitchen, and
a buttery on the first floor, and three bedrooms on the second
floor. Artisans and shopkeepers of more modest means lived in
rows of dwellings, each with a shop and small storage room on
the first floor, and a combination parlor-bedroom on the second
floor. The humblest residents crowded their shop and family into
one 6 by 10 foot room for rent of a few shillings a year. All
except the last would also have a small garden. The best gardens
had a fruit tree, herbs, flowers, a well, and a privy. There
were common and public privies for those without their own.
Kitchen slops and casual refuse continued to be thrown into the
street. Floors of stone or planks were strewn with rushes. There
was some tile flooring. Most dwellings had glass windows. Candles
were used for lighting at night. Torches and oil-burning
lanterns were portable lights. Furnishings were still sparse.
Men sat on benches or joint stools and women sat on cushions on
the floor. Hall and parlor had a table and benches and perhaps
one chair. Bedrooms had a curtained bed and a chest. On the
feather bed were pillows, blankets, and sheets. Better homes had
wall hanging and cupboards displaying plate. Laundresses washed
clothes in the streams, rivers, and public conduits. Country
peasants still lived in wood, straw, and mud huts with earth
floors and a smoky hearth in the center or a kitchen area under
the eaves of the hut.

In 1442, bricks began to be manufactured in the nation and so
there was more use of bricks in buildings. Chimneys were
introduced into manor houses where stone had been too expensive.
This was necessary if a second floor was added, so the smoke
would not damage the floor above it and would eventually go out
of the house.

Nobles and their retinue moved from manor to manor, as they had
for centuries, to keep watch upon their lands and to consume the
produce thereof; it was easier to bring the household to the
estate than to transport the yield of the estate to the
household. Also, at regular intervals sewage had to be removed
from the cellar pits.

Jousting tournaments were held for entertainment purposes only
and were followed by banquets of several courses of food served
on dishes of gold, silver, pewter, or wood on a linen cloth
covering the table. Hands were washed before and after the meal.
People washed their faces every morning after getting up. Teeth
were cleaned with powders. Fragrant leaves were chewed for bad
breath. Garlic was used for indigestion and other ailments. Feet
were rubbed with salt and vinegar to remove calluses. Good
manners included not slumping against a post, fidgeting,
sticking one's finger into one's nose, putting one's hands into
one's hose to scratch the privy parts, spitting over the table
or too far, licking one's plate, picking one's teeth, breathing
stinking breath into the face of the lord, blowing on one's
food, stuffing masses of bread into one's mouth, scratching
one's head, loosening one's girdle to belch, and probing one's
teeth with a knife.

Fishing and hunting were reserved for the nobility rather than
just the King.

As many lords became less wealthy because of the cost of war,
some peasants, villein and free, became prosperous, especially
those who also worked at a craft, e.g. butchers, bakers, smiths,
shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, and clothworkers.

An agricultural slump caused poorer soils to fall back into
waste. The better soils were leased by peasants, who, with their
families, were in a better position to farm it than a great
lord, who found it hard to hire laborers at a reasonable cost.
Further, peasants' sheep, hens, pigs, ducks, goats, cattle,
bees, and crop made them almost self-sufficient in foodstuffs.
They lived in a huddle of cottages, pastured their animals on
common land, and used common meadows for hay-making. They
subsisted mainly on boiled bacon, an occasional chicken, worts
and beans grown in the cottage garden, and cereals. They wore
fine wool cloth in all their apparel. Brimless hats were
replacing hoods. They had an abundance of bed coverings in their
houses. And they had more free time. Village entertainment
included traveling jesters, acrobats, musicians, and bear-
baiter. Playing games and gambling were popular pastimes.

Most villeins were now being called "customary tenants" or
"copy-holders" of land because they held their acres by a copy
of the court-roll of the manor, which listed the number of
teams, the fines, the reliefs, and the services due to the lord
for each landholder. The Chancery court interpreted many of these
documents to include rights of inheritance. The common law courts
followed the lead of the Chancery and held that copyhold land
could be inherited as was land at common law. Evictions by lords

The difference between villein and free man lessened but
landlords usually still had profits of villein bondage, such as
heriot, merchet, and chevage.

A class of laborers was arising who depended entirely on the
wages of industry for their subsistence. The cloth workers in
rural areas were isolated and weak and often at the mercy of
middle-men for employment and the amount of their wages.

Rural laborers went to towns to seek employment in the new
industries. They would work at first for any rate. This deepened
the cleavage of the classes in the towns.

The townspeople did not take part in the fighting of the War of
the Roses. Many boroughs sought and obtained formal
incorporation with perpetual existence, the right to sue and be
sued in their own name. Often, a borough would have its own
resident Justice of the Peace. Each incorporation involved a
review by a Justice of the Peace to make sure the charter of
incorporation rule didn't conflict with the law of the nation.
Henry IV granted the first charter of incorporation. A borough
typically had a mayor accompanied by his personal sword-bearer
and serjeants-at-mace bearing the borough regalia, bailiffs, a
sheriff, and chamberlains or a steward for financial
assistance. At many boroughs, aldermen, assisted by their
constables, kept the peace in their separate wards. There might
be coroners, a recorder, and a town clerk, with a host of lesser
officials including beadles, aletasters, sealers, searchers
[inspectors], weighers and keepers of the market, ferrymen and
porters, clock-keepers and criers, paviors [maintained the
roads], scavengers and other street cleaners, gatekeepers and
watchmen of several ranks and kinds. A wealthy borough would have
a chaplain and two or three minstrels.

In all towns, the wealthiest and most influential guilds were the
merchant traders of mercers, drapers, grocers, and goldsmiths.
From their ranks came most of the mayors. Next came the
shopholders of skinners, tailors, ironmongers, and corvisors
[shoemakers]. Thirdly came the humbler artisans, the sellers of
victuals, small shopkeepers, apprentices, and journeymen on the
rise. Lastly came unskilled laborers, who lived in crowded
tenements and hired themselves out. The first three groups were
the free men who voted, paid the scot and lot, and belonged to

In the towns, many married women had independent businesses and
wives also played an active part in the businesses of their
husbands. Wives of well-to-do London merchants embroidered,
sewed jewelry onto clothes, and made silk garments. Widows often
continued in their husband's businesses, such as managing a
large import-export trade, tailoring, brewing, and metal shop.
Socially lower women often ran their own breweries, bakeries,
and taverns. It was possible for wives to be free burgesses in
their own right in some towns.

Some ladies were patrons of writers. Some women were active in
prison reform in matters of reviews to insure that no man was in
jail without due cause, overcharges for bed and board,
brutality, and regulation of prisoners being placed in irons.
Many men and women left money in their wills for food and
clothing for prisoners.

There was much overlapping in the two forms of association: the
craft guild and the religious fraternity.

Paved roads in towns were usually gravel and sometimes cobble.
They were frequently muddy because of rain and spillage of water
being carried. Iron-shod wheels and overloaded carts made them
very uneven. London was the first town with paviors. They
repaired and cleaned the streets. Pot-holes were usually just
filled up with wood chips and compacted with hand rams. They were
organized as a city company in 1479. About 1482, towns besides
London began appointing salaried road paviors to repair roads
and collect their expenses from the householders because the
policy of placing the burden on individual householders didn't
work well. London streets were lighted at night by public
lanterns, under the direction of the mayor. There were
fire-engines composed of a circular cistern with a pump and six
feet of inflexible hose on wheels pulled by two men on one end
and pushed by two men on the other end.

The King granted London all common soils, improvements, wastes,
streets, and ways in London and in the adjacent waters of the
Thames River and all the profits and rents to be derived
therefrom. Later the King granted London the liberty to purchase
lands and tenements worth up to 2,667 s. yearly. Each ward
nominated two men for alderman, the final choice being made by
the mayor and the other aldermen.

There were many craft guilds. In fact, every trade of twenty men
had its own guild. The guild secured good work for its members
and the members maintained the reputation of the work standards
of the guild. Bad work was punished and night work prohibited as
leading to bad work. The guild exercised moral control over its
members and provided sickness and death benefits for them.
Apprentices were taken in to assure an adequate supply of
competent workers for the future. When these apprentices had
enough training they were made journeymen with a higher rate of
pay. Journeymen traveled to see the work of their craft in other
towns. Those journeymen rising to master had the highest pay

But the guilds were being replaced by associations for the
investment of capital. In associations, journeymen were losing
their chance of rising to be a master. Competition among
associations was starting to supplant custom as the mainspring
of trade.

The Merchant Adventurers was chartered in 1407. A share in the
ownership of one of their vessels was a common form of
investment by prosperous merchants. By 1450, they were dealing
in linen cloths, buckrams [a stiffened, coarse cloth], fustians
[coarse cloth made of cotton threads going in one direction and
linen threads the other], satins, jewels, fine woolen and linen
wares, threads, drugs, wood, oil, wine, salt, copper, and iron.
They began to replace trade by alien traders. (The history of
the "Merchant Adventurers" was associated with the growth of the
mercantile system for more than 300 years. It eventually replaced
the staples system.)

In London, shopkeepers appealed to passers-by to buy their goods,
sometimes even seizing people by the sleeve. The drapers had
several roomy shops containing shelves piled with cloths of all
colors and grades, tapestries, pillows, and 'bankers and
dorsers' to soften hard wooden benches. A rear storeroom held
more cloth for import or export. Many shops of skinners were on
Fur Row. There were shops of leather-sellers, hosiers, gold and
silver cups, and silks. At the Stocks Market were fishmongers,
butchers, and poulterers. The Fishmongers were incorporated in
1433, the Cordwainers in 1439, and the Pewterers in 1468. London
grocers imported spices, canvas, ropery, drugs, unguents, soap,
confections, garlic, cabbages, onions, apples, oranges, almonds,
figs, dates, raisins, dye- stuffs, woad, madder, scarlet grains,
saffron, iron, and steel. They were retailers as well as
wholesalers and had shops selling honey, licorice, salt,
vinegar, rice, sugar loaves, syrups, spices, garden seeds, dyes,
alum, soap, brimstone, paper, varnish, canvas, rope, musk,
incense, treacle of Genoa, and mercury. The Grocers did some
money-lending, usually at 12% interest. The guilds did not
restrict themselves to dealing in the goods for which they had a
right of inspection, and so many dealt in wine that it was a
medium of exchange. There was no sharp distinction between
retail and wholesale trading.

Grocers sold herbs for medicinal as well as eating purposes.
Breadcarts sold penny wheat loaves. Foreigners set up stalls on
certain days of the week to sell meat, canvas, linen, cloth,
ironmongery, and lead. There were great houses, churches,
monasteries, inns, guildhalls, warehouses, and the King's Beam
for weighing wool to be exported. The Mercers and Goldsmiths
were in the prosperous part of town. The Goldsmiths' shops sold
gold and silver plate, jewels, rings, water pitchers, drinking
goblets, basins to hold water for the hands, and covered
saltcellars. The grain market was on Cornhill. Halfway up the
street, there was a supply of water which had been brought up in
pipes. On the top was a cage where riotous folk had been
incarcerated by the night watch and the stocks and pillory,
where fraudulent schemers were exposed to ridicule.

Outside the London city walls were tenements, Smithfield cattle
market, Westminster Hall, green fields of crops, and some marsh

On the Thames River to London were large ships with cargos; small
boats rowed by tough boatmen offering passage for a penny; small
private barges of great men with carved wood, gay banners, and
oarsmen with velvet gowns; the banks covered with masts and
tackle; the nineteen arch London Bridge supporting a street of
shops and houses and a drawbridge in the middle; quays;
warehouses, and great cranes lifting bales from ship to wharf.
Merchant guilds which imported or exported each had their own
wharves and warehouses. Downstream, pirates hung on gallows at
the low-water mark to remain until three tides had overflowed
their bodies.

The large scale of London trade promoted the specialization of
the manufacturer versus the merchant versus the shipper.
Merchants had enough wealth to make loans to the government or
for new commercial enterprises. Some London merchants were
knighted by the King. Many bought country estates and turned
themselves into gentry.

In schools, there was a renaissance of learning from original
sources of knowledge written in Greek and rebirth of the Greek
pursuit of the truth and scientific spirit of inquiry. There was
a striking increase in the number of schools founded by wealthy
merchants or town guilds. Merchants tended to send their sons to
private boarding schools, instead of having them tutored at home
as did the nobility. Well-to-do parents still sent sons to live
in the house of some noble to serve them as pages in return for
being educated with the noble's son by the household priest.
They often wore their master's coat of arms and became their
squires as part of their knightly education. At the universities,
the bachelor's degree came into existence to denote a preliminary
stage in the course of becoming a master.

The book "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was written about an
incident in the court of King Arthur and Queen Guenevere in
which a green knight challenges Arthur's knights to live up to
their reputation for valor and awesome deeds. The knight Gawain
answers the challenge, but is shown that he could be false and
cowardly when death seemed to be imminent. Thereafter, he wears a
green girdle around his waist to remind him not to be proud.

Other literature read included "London Lickpenny", a satire on
London and its expensive services and products, "Fall of
Princes" by John Lydgate, social history by Thomas Hoccleve,
"The King is Quair"" by King James I of Scotland about how he
fell in love, "The Cuckoo and the Nightengale", and "The Flower
and Leaf" on morality as secular common sense. Chaucer, Cicero,
and Ovid were widely read. Malory's new version of the Arthurian
stories was popular. Margery Kempe wrote the first true
autobiography. She was a woman who had a normal married life
with children, but one day had visions and voices which led her
to leave her husband to take up a life of wandering and praying
in holy possession. The common people developed ballads, e.g.
about their love of the forest, their wish to hunt, and their
hatred of the forest laws.

About 30% of the people could read English. Books were bought in
London in such quantities by 1403 that the organization of
text-letter writers, book-binders, and book sellers was
sanctioned by ordinance. "Unto the honorable lords, and wise,
the mayor and aldermen of the city of London, pray very humbly
all the good folks, freemen of the said city, of the trades of
writers of text-letter, limners [illuminator of books], and
other folks of London who are wont to bind and to sell books,
that it may please your great sagenesses to grant unto them that
they may elect yearly two reputable men, the one a limner, the
other a text-writer, to be wardens of the said trades, and that
the names of the wardens so elected may be presented each year
before the mayor for the time being, and they be there sworn
well and diligently to oversee that good rule and governance is
had and exercised by all folks of the same trades in all works
unto the said trades pertaining, to the praise and good fame of
the loyal good men of the said trades and to the shame and blame
of the bad and disloyal men of the same. And that the same
wardens may call together all the men of the said trades
honorably and peacefully when need shall be, as well for the
good rule and governance of the said city as of the trades
aforesaid. And that the same wardens, in performing their due
office, may present from time to time all the defaults of the
said bad and disloyal men to the chamberlain at the Guildhall for
the time being, to the end that the same may there, according to
the wise and prudent discretion of the governors of the said
city, be corrected, punished, and duly redressed. And that all
who are rebellious against the said wardens as to the survey and
good rule of the same trades may be punished according to the
general ordinance made as to rebellious persons in trades of the
said city [fines and imprisonment]. And that it may please you
to command that this petition, by your sagenesses granted, may
be entered of record for time to come, for the love of God and
as a work of charity."

The printing press was brought to London in 1476 by a mercer:
William Caxton. It supplemented the text-writer and monastic
copyist. It was a wood and iron frame with a mounted platform on
which were placed small metal frames into which words with small
letters of lead had been set up. Each line of text had to be
carried from the type case to the press. Beside the press were
pots filled with ink and inking balls. When enough lines of type
to make a page had been assembled on the press, the balls would
be dipped in ink and drawn over the type. Then a sheet of paper
would be placed on the form and a lever pulled to press the paper
against the type. Linen usually replaced the more expensive
parchment for the book pages.

The printing press made books more accessible to all literate
people. Caxton printed major English texts and some translations
from French and Latin. He commended different books to various
kinds of readers, for instance, for gentlemen who understand
gentleness and science, or for ladies and gentlewomen, or to all
good folk. There were many cook books in use. There were
eyeglasses to correct near-sightedness.

Old-established London families began to choose the law as a
profession for their sons, in preference to an apprenticeship in
trade. Many borough burgesses in Parliament were lawyers.

Many carols were sung at the Christian festival of Christmas.
Ballads were sung on many features of social life of this age of
disorder, hatred of sheriffs, but faith in the King. The legend
of Robin Hood was popular. Town miracle plays on leading
incidents of the Bible and morality plays were popular. Vintners
portrayed the miracle of Cana where water was turned into wine
and Goldsmiths ornately dressed the three Kings coming from the
east. Short pantomimes and disguising, forerunners of costume
parties, were good recreation. Games of cards became popular as
soon as cards were introduced. The king, queen, and jack were
dressed in contemporary clothes. Men bowled, kicked footballs,
and played tennis. May Day was celebrated with crowns and
garlands of spring flowers. The village May Day pageant was
often presided over by Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

The church was engendering more disrespect. Monks and nuns had
long ago resigned spiritual leadership to the friars; now the
friars too lost much of their good fame. The monks got used to
life with many servants such as cooks, butlers, bakers, brewers,
barbers, laundresses, tailors, carpenters, and farm hands. The
austerity of their diet had vanished. The schedule of divine
services was no longer followed by many and the fostering of
learning was abandoned. Into monasteries drifted the lazy and
miserable. Nunneries had become aristocratic boarding houses.
The practice of taking sanctuary was abused; criminals and
debtors sought it and were allowed to overstay the 40-day
restriction and to leave at night to commit robberies. People
turned to the writing of mystics, such as "Scale of Perfection"
and "Cloud of Unknowing", the latter describing how one may
better know God.

People relied on saint's days as reference points in the year,
because they did not know dates of the year. But townspeople
knew the hour and minute of each day, because mechanical clocks
were in all towns and in the halls of the well- to-do. This
increased the sense of punctuality and higher standards of

Important news was announced and spread by word of mouth in
market squares and sometimes in churches. As usual, traders
provided one of the best sources of news; they maintained an
informal network of speedy messengers and accurate reports
because political changes so affected their ventures.

A royal post service was established by relays of mounted
messengers. The first route was between London and the Scottish
border, where there were frequent battles for land between the
Scotch and English.

The inland roads from town to town were still rough and without
signs. A horseman could make up to 40 miles a day. Common
carriers took passengers and parcels from various towns to
London on scheduled journeys. Now the common yeoman could order
goods from the London market, communicate readily with friends
in London, and receive news of the world frequently. Trade with
London was so great and the common carrier so efficient in
transporting goods that the medieval fair began to decline.
First the Grocers and then the Mercers refused to allow their
members to sell goods at fairs. There was much highway robbery.
Most goods were still transported by boats along the coasts,
with trading at the ports.

Embroidery was exported. Imported were timber, pitch, tar, potash
[for cloth- dying], furs, silk, satin, gold cloth, damask cloth,
furred gowns, gems, fruit, spices, and sugar. Imports were
restricted by national policy for the purpose of protecting
native industries.

English single-masted ships began to be replaced by two or three
masted ships with high pointed bows to resist waves and sails
enabling the ship to sail closer to the wind. 200 tuns was the
usual carrying capacity. The increase in trade made piracy, even
by merchants, profitable and frequent until merchant vessels
began sailing in groups for their mutual protection. The
astrolabe was used for navigation by the stars.

Consuls were appointed to assist English traders abroad.

Henry IV appointed the first admiral of the entire nation and
resolved to create a national fleet of warships instead of using
merchant ships. In 1417, the war navy had 27 ships. In 1421,
Portsmouth was fortified as a naval base.

For defense of the nation, especially the safeguard of the seas,
Parliament allotted the King for life, 3s. for every tun of wine
imported and an additional 3s. for every tun of sweet wine

The most common ailments were eye problems, aching teeth,
festering ears, joint swelling and sudden paralysis of the
bowels. Epidemics broke out occasionally in the towns in the
summers. Leprosy disappeared.

Hospitals were supported by a tax of the King levied on nearby
counties. The walls, ditches, gutters, sewers, and bridges on
waterways and the coast were kept in repair by laborers hired by
commissions appointed by the Chancellor. Those who benefited
from these waterways were taxed for the repairs in proportion to
their use thereof.

Alabaster was sculptured into tombs surmounted with a recumbent
effigy of the deceased, and effigies of mourners on the sides.
Few townsmen choose to face death alone and planned memorial
masses to be sung to lift his soul beyond Purgatory. Chantries
were built by wealthy men for this purpose.

Gold was minted into coins: noble, half noble, and farthing.

The commons gained much power in Parliament under Henry IV
because he needed so much taxes that the commons had a hold over
him. Also, as a usurper King, he did not carry the natural
authority of a King. The lords who helped his usurpation felt
they should share the natural power of the kingship. Also, the
commons gained power compared to the nobility because many
nobles had died in war. Shakespeare's histories deal with this
era. The Commons now has a speaker.

The Commons established an exclusive right to originate all money
grants to the King in 1407. The commons announced its money
grant only on the last day of the parliamentary session, after
the answers to its petitions had been declared. It tied its
grants by rule rather than just practice to certain
appropriations. For instance, tonnage and poundage were
appropriated for naval defenses. Wool customs went to the
maintenance of Calais, a port on the continent, and defense of
the nation. It also put the petitions in statutory form, called
"bills", to be enacted without alteration. It forced the King's
council appointees to be approved by Parliament, and auditors to
be appointed to audit the King's account to ensure past grants
had been spent according to their purpose.

This was the first encroachment on the King's right to summon,
prorogue, or dismiss a Parliament at his pleasure, determine an
agenda of Parliament, veto or amend its bills, exercise his
discretion as to which lords he summoned to Parliament, and
create new peers by letters patent [official public letters].

The King lost Parliamentary power. The magnates asserted that
their attendance at one Parliament established a hereditary
right to attend the others. The consent of the Commons to
legislation became so usual that the judges declared that it was
necessary. In 1426, the retainers of the barons in Parliament
were forbidden to bear arms, so they appeared with clubs on
their shoulders. The clubs were forbidden and they brought in
stones concealed in their clothing.

The authority of the King's privy seal had become a great office
of state which transmitted the King's wishes to the Chancery and
Exchequer, rather than the King's personal instrument for
sealing documents. Now the King used a signet kept by his
secretary as his personal seal. The position of secretary rose in
power under Edward IV.

King Edward IV introduced an elaborate spy system, the use of the
rack to torture people to confess, and other interferences with
justice, all of which the Tudors later used.

King Richard III prohibited the seizure of goods before
conviction of felony. He also liberated the unfree villeins on
royal estates.

It was declared under Parliamentary authority that there was a
preference for the Crown to pass to a King's eldest son, and to
his male issue after him. Formerly, a man could ascend to the
throne through his female ancestry as well.

The Law

The forcible entry statute is expanded to include peaceful entry
with forcible holding afterwards and to forcible holding with
departure before the justices arrived. Penalties are triple
damages, fine, and ransom to the King. A forceful possession
lasting three years is exempt.

Women of age fourteen or over shall have livery of their lands
and tenements by inheritance without question or difficulty.

Purposely cutting out another's tongue or putting out another's
eyes is a felony [penalty of loss of all property].

No one may keep swans unless he has lands and tenements of the
estate of freehold to a yearly value of 67s., because swans of
the King, lords, knights, and esquires have been stolen by
yeomen and husbandmen.

The wage ceiling for servants is: bailiff of agriculture 23s.4d.
per year, and clothing up to 5s., with meat and drink; chief
peasant, a carter, chief shepherd 20s. and clothing up to 4s.,
with meat and drink; common servant of agriculture 15s., and
clothing up to 3s.4d.; woman servant 10s., and clothing up to
4s., with meat and drink; infant under fourteen years 6s., and
clothing up to 3s., with meat and drink. Such as deserve less or
where there is a custom of less, that lesser amount shall be

For laborers at harvest time: mower 4d. with meat and drink or
6d. without; reaper or carter: 3d. with or 5d. without; woman
laborer and other laborers: 2d with and 4d. without.

The ceiling wage rate for craftsmen per day is: free mason or
master carpenter 4d. with meat & drink or 5d. without; master
tiler or slater, rough mason, and mesne carpenter and other
artificiers in building 3d. with meat and drink or 4d. without;
every other laborer 2d. with meat and drink or 3d. without. In
winter the respective wages were less: mason category: 3d. with
or 4d. without; master tiler category: 2d. with or 4d. without;
others: 1d. with or 3d. without meat and drink.

Any servant of agriculture who is serving a term with a master
and covenants to serve another man at the end of this term and
that other man shall notify the master by the middle of his term
so he can get a replacement worker. Otherwise, the servant shall
continue to serve the first master.

No man or woman may put their son or daughter to serve as an
apprentice in a craft within any borough, but may send the child
to school, unless he or she has land or rent to the value of
20s. per year. [because of scarcity of laborers and other
servants of agriculture]

No laborer may be hired by the week.

Masons may no longer congregate yearly, because it has led to
violation of the statute of laborers.

No games may be played by laborers because they lead to murders
and robberies.

Apparel worn must be appropriate to one's status to preserve the
industry of agriculture. The following list of classes shows the
lowest class, which could wear certain apparel:

1. Lords - gold cloth, gold corses, sable fur, purple silk

2. Knights - velvet, branched satin, ermine fur

3. Esquires and gentlemen with possessions to the value of 800
s. per year, daughters of a person who has possessions to the
value of 2,000s. a year - damask, silk, kerchiefs up to 5s. in

4. Esquires and gentlemen with possessions to the yearly value
of 800s. 40 pounds - fur of martron or letuse, gold or silver
girdles, silk corse not made in the nation, kerchief up to 3s.4d
in value

5. Men with possessions of the yearly value of 40s. excluding
the above three classes - fustian, bustian, scarlet cloth in

6. Men with possessions under the yearly value of 40s. excluding
the first three classes - black or white lamb fur, stuffing of
wool, cotton, or cadas.

7. Yeomen - cloth up to the value of 2s., hose up to the value
of 14s., a girdle with silver, kerchief up to 12d.

8. Servants of agriculture, laborer, servant, country craftsman
- none of the above clothes

Gowns and jackets must cover the entire trunk of the body,
including the private parts. Shoes may not have pikes over two

Every town shall have at its cost a common balance with weights
according to the standard of the Exchequer. All citizens may
weigh goods for free. All cloth to be sold shall be sealed
according to this measure.

There is a standard bushel of grain throughout the nation.

There are standard measures for plain tile, roof tile, and gutter
tile throughout the nation.

No gold or silver may be taken out of the nation.

The price of silver is fixed at 30s. for a pound, to increase the
value of silver coinage, which has become scarce due to its
higher value when in plate or masse.

A designee of the King will inspect and seal cloth with lead to
prevent deceit. Cloth may not be tacked together before
inspection. No cloth may be sold until sealed.

Heads of arrows shall be hardened at the points with steel and
marked with the mark of the arrowsmith who made it, so they are
not faulty.

Shoemakers and cordwainers may tan their leather, but all leather
must be inspected and marked by a town official before it is

Cordwainers shall not tan leather [to prevent deceitful tanning].
Tanners who make a notorious default in leather which is found
by a cordwainer shall make a forfeiture.

Defective embroidery for sale shall be forfeited.

No fishing net may be fastened or tacked to posts, boats, or
anchors, but may be used by hand, so that fish are preserved and
vessels may pass.

No one may import any articles which could be made in the nation,
including silks, bows, woolen cloths, iron and hardware goods,
harness and saddlery, and excepting printed books.

The following merchandise shall not be brought into the nation
already wrought: woolen cloth or caps, silk laces, ribbons,
fringes, and embroidery, gold laces, saddles, stirrups,
harnesses, spurs, bridles, gridirons, locks, hammers, fire
tongs, dripping pans, dice, tennis balls, points, purses, gloves,
girdles, harness for girdles of iron steel or of tin, any thing
wrought of any treated leather, towed furs, shoes, galoshes,
corks, knives, daggers, woodknives, thick blunt needles, sheers
for tailors, scissors, razors, sheaths, playing cards, pins,
pattens [wooden shoes on iron supports worn in wet weather], pack
needles, painted ware, forcers, caskets, rings of copper or of
gilt sheet metal, chaffing dishes, hanging candlesticks,
chaffing balls, Mass bells, rings for curtains, ladles,
skimmers, counterfeit felt hat moulds, water pitchers with wide
spouts, hats, brushes, cards for wool, white iron wire, upon
pain of their forfeiture. One half this forfeiture goes to the
King and the other half to the person seizing the wares.

No sheep may be exported, because being shorn elsewhere would
deprive the King of customs.

No wheat, rye, or barley may be imported unless the prices are
such that national agriculture is not hurt.

Clothmakers must pay their laborers, such as carders and
spinsters, in current coin and not in pins and girdles and the

The term "freemen" in the Magna Carta includes women.

The election of a knight from a shire to go to Parliament shall
be proclaimed by the sheriff in the full county so all may
attend and none shall be commanded to do something else at that
time. Election results will be sealed and sent to Parliament.

To be elected to Parliament, a knight must reside in the county
and have free land or tenements to the value of 40s. per year,
because participation in elections of too many people of little
substance or worth had led to homicides, assaults, and feuds.
(These "yeomen" were about one sixth of the population. Most
former voters and every leaseholder and every copyholder were
excluded. The requirement lasted for 400 years.)

London ordinances forbade placing rubbish or dung in the Thames
River or any town ditch or casting water or anything else out of
a window. The roads were maintained with tolls on carts and
horses bringing victuals or grains into the city and on
merchandise unloaded from ships at the port. No carter shall
drive his cart more quickly when it is unloaded than when it is
loaded. No pie bakers shall sell beef pies as venison pies, or
make any meat pie with entrails. To assist the poor, bread and
ale shall be sold by the farthing.

Desertion by a soldier is penalized by forfeiture of all land and

The common law held that a bailee is entitled to possession
against all persons except the owner of the bailed property.

Former judge Sir Thomas Littleton wrote a legal textbook
describing tenancies in dower; the tenures of socage, knight's
service, serjeanty, and burgage; estates in fee simple, fee
tail, and fee conditional. For instance, "Also, if feoffment be
made upon such condition, that if the feoffor pay to the feofee
at a certain day, etc., 800s. forty pounds of money, that then
the feoffor may re-enter, etc., in this case the feoffee is
called tenant in mortgage, ... and if he doth not pay, then the
land which he puts in pledge upon condition for the payment of
the money is gone from him for ever, and so dead as to the
tenant, etc."

Joint tenants are distinguished from tenants in common by
Littleton thus: "Joint-tenants are, as if a man be seised of
certain lands or tenements, etc., and thereof enfeoffeth two, or
three, or four, or more, to have and to hold to them (and to
their heirs, or letteth to them) for term of their lives, or for
term of another's life; by force of which feoffment or lease they
are seised, such are joint-tenants. ... And it is to be
understood, that the nature of joint-tenancy is, that he that
surviveth shall have solely the entire tenancy, according to
such estate as he hath, ..." "Tenants in common are they that
have lands or tenements in fee-simple, fee-tail, or for term of
life, etc., the which have such lands and tenements by several
title, and not by joint title, and neither of them knoweth
thereof his severalty, but they ought by the law to occupy such
lands or tenements in common pro indiviso, to take the profits in
common. ...As if a man enfeoff two joint-tenants in fee, and the
one of them alien that which to him belongeth to another in fee,
now the other joint-tenant and the alienee are tenants in
common, because they are in such tenements by several titles,

Judicial Procedure

People took grievances outside the confines of the rigid common
law to the Chancellor, who could give equitable remedies under
authority of a statute of 1285 (described in Chapter 8). The
Chancery heard many cases of breach of faith in the "use", a
form of trust in which three parties were involved: the holder
of land, feofees to whom the holder had made it over by
conveyance or "bargain and sale", and the beneficiary or
receiver of the profits of the land, who was often the holder,
his children, relatives, friends, an institution, or a
corporation. This system of using land had been created by the
friars to get around the prohibition against holding property.
Lords and gentry quickly adopted it. The advantages of the use
were that 1) there was no legal restriction to will away the
beneficial interest of the use although the land itself could
not be conveyed by will; 2) it was hard for the King to collect
feudal incidents because the feoffees were often unknown 3) the
original holder was protected from forfeiture of his land in
case of conviction of treason if the Crown went to someone he
had not supported. Chancery gave a remedy for dishonest or
defaulting feofees.

Chancery also provided the equitable relief of specific
performance in disputes over agreements, for instance,
conveyance of certain land, whereas the common law courts
awarded only monetary damages by the writ of covenant.

Chancery ordered accounts to be made in matters of foreign trade
because the common law courts were limited to accounts pursuant
to transactions made within the nation. It also involved itself
in the administration of assets and accounting of partners to
each other.

The Chancellor took jurisdiction of cases of debt, detinue, and
account which had been decided in other courts with oathhelping
by the defendant. He did not trust the reliance on friends of
the defendant swearing that his statement made in his defense
was true. An important evidentiary difference between procedures
of the Chancery and the common law courts was that the Chancellor
could orally question the plaintiff and the defendant under
oath. He also could order persons to appear at his court by
subpoena [under pain of punishment, such as a heavy fine].

Whereas the characteristic award of the common law courts was
seisin of land or monetary damages, Chancery often enjoined
certain action. Because malicious suits were a problem, the
Chancery identified such suits and issued injunctions against
taking them to any court.

The Chancery was given jurisdiction by statute over men of great
power taking by force women who had lands and tenements or goods
and not setting them free unless they bound themselves to pay
great sums to the offenders or to marry them. A statute also
gave Chancery jurisdiction over servants taking their masters'
goods at his death.

Justices of the Peace, appointed by the Crown, investigated all
riots and arrested rioters, by authority of statute. If they had
departed, the Justices certified the case to the King. The case
was then set for trial first before the King and his council and
then at the King's Bench. If the suspected rioters did not
appear at either trial, they could be convicted for default of
appearance. If a riot was not investigated and the rioters
sought, the Justice of the Peace nearest forfeited 2,000s.
Justices of the peace were not paid and need not have a legal
background. For complex cases and criminal cases with defendants
of high social status, they deferred to the Justices of Assize,
who rode on circuit once or twice a year.

Manor courts still formally admitted new tenants, registered
titles, sales of land and exchanges of land, and commutation of
services, enrolled leases and rules of succession, settled
boundary disputes, and regulated the village agriculture.

All attorneys shall be examined by the royal judges for their
learnedness in the law and, at their discretion, those that are
good and virtuous shall be received to make any suit in any
royal court. The attorneys shall be sworn to serve well and
truly in their offices.

Attorneys may plead on behalf of parties in the hundred courts.

A qualification for jurors was to have an estate to one's own use
or one of whom other persons have estates of fee simple, fee
tail, freehold in lands and tenements, or freehold, which was at
least 40s. per year in value. In a plea of land worth at least
40s. yearly or a personal plea with relief sought at least
800s., jurors had to have land in the bailiwick to the value of
at least 400s., because perjury was considered less likely in
the more sufficient men.

Jurors were separated from witnesses.

Justices of the Peace were to have lands worth 267s. yearly,
because those with less used the office for extortion and lost
the respect and obedience of the people.

A Sheriff was not to arrest, but to transfer indictments to the
Justices of the Peace of the county. He had to reside in his
bailiwick. The sheriff could be sued for misfeasance such as
bribery in the King's court.

Court of "Pie Powder" [French pie poudre: dust on the feet] were
established at the great fairs to decide conflicts of commercial
law there.

Chapter 11

The Times: 1485-1509

Henry Tudor and other exiles defeated and killed Richard III on
Bosworth field, which ends the War of the Roses. As King, Henry
VII restored order to the nation. He was readily accepted as
King because he was descended from both royal lines who were
fighting each other and married a woman who also was in the royal
bloodline. Henry was intelligent and sensitive. He weighed
alternatives and possible consequences before taking action. He
was convinced by reason on what plans to make. His primary
strategy was enacting and enforcing statutes to shore up the
undermined legal system, which includes the establishment of a
new court: the Court of the Star Chamber, to obtain punishment
of persons whom juries were afraid to convict. It had no jury.
The Star Chamber was the room in which the King's council had
met since the 1300s. In his reign of 24 years, Henry applied
himself diligently to the details of the work of government to
make it work well. He strengthened the monarchy, shored up the
legal system to work again, and provided a peace in the land in
which can later flourish a renaissance of the arts and sciences,
culture, and the intellectual life.

The most prevalent problems were: murder, robbery, rape or forced
marriage of wealthy women, counterfeiting of coin, extortion,
misdemeanors by sheriffs and escheators, bribing of sheriffs and
jurors, perjury, livery and maintenance agreements, idleness,
unlawful plays, and riots. Interference with the course of
justice was not committed only by lords on behalf of their
retainers; men of humbler station were equally prone to help
their friends in court or to give assistance in return for
payment. Rural juries were intimidated by the old baronage and
their armed retinues. Juries in municipal courts were subverted
by gangs of townsmen. Justices of the Peace didn't enforce the
laws. The agricultural work of the nation had been adversely

Henry made policy with the advice of his council and implemented
it by causing Parliament to enact it into legislation. He
dominated Parliament by having selected most of its members.
Many of his council were sons of burgesses and had been trained
in universities. He chose competent and especially trusted men
for his officers and commanders of castles and garrison. The
fact that only the King had artillery deterred barons from
revolting. Also, the baronial forces were depleted due to war.
If Henry thought a magnate was exercising his territorial power
to the King's detriment, he confronted him with an army and
forced him to bind his whole family in recognizances for large
sums of money to ensure future good conduct. Since the King had
the authority to interpret these pledges, they were a formidable
check on any activity which could be considered to be disloyal.
The earl of Kent, whose debts put him entirely at the King's
mercy, was bound to "be seen daily once in the day within the
King's house". Henry also required recognizances from men of all
classes, including clergy, captains of royal castles, and
receivers of land. The higher nobility now consisted of about
twenty families. The heavy fines by the Star Court put an end to
conspiracies to defraud, champerty [an agreement with a litigant
to pay costs of litigation for a share in the damages awarded],
livery, and maintenance. The ties between the nobility and the
Justices of the Peace had encouraged corruption of justice. So
Henry appointed many of the lesser gentry and attorneys as
Justices of the Peace. Also he appointed a few of his councilors
as non-resident Justices of the Peace. There were a total of
about thirty Justices of the Peace per county. Their
appointments were indefinite and most remained until retirement
or death. Henry had yeomen serve as personal bodyguards night
and day.

Many bills of attainder caused lords to lose their land to the
King. Most of these lords had been chronic disturbers of the
peace. Henry was also known to exhaust the resources of barons
he suspected of disloyalty by accepting their hospitality for
himself and his household for an extended period of time.

Henry built up royal funds by using every available procedure of
government to get money, by maximizing income from royal estates
by transferring authority over them from the Exchequer to
knowledgeable receivers, and from forfeitures of land and
property due to attaints of treason. He also personally reviewed
all accounts and initialed every page, making sure that all
payments were made. He made a regular practice of ordering all
men with lands with 800s. 40 pounds per year to receive
knighthoods or pay a high fee. As a result, the Crown became
rich and therefore powerful.

Queen Elizabeth was a good influence on Henry's character. Her
active beneficence was a counteracting influence to his
avaricious predisposition. When Henry and his Queen traveled
through the nation, they often stopped to talk to the common
people. They sometimes gave away money, such as to a man who had
lost his hand. Henry paid for an intelligent boy he met to go to

Henry had the first paper mill erected in the nation. He fostered
the reading of books and the study of Roman law, the classics,
and the Bible. He had his own library and gave books to other

The age of entry to university was between 13 and 16. It took
four years' study of grammar, logic, and rhetoric to achieve the
Bachelor of Arts degree and another five before a master could
begin a specialized study of the civil law, canon law, theology,
or medicine. Arabic numbers replaced Roman numerals, making
multiplication and division possible. Humanist studies were
espoused by individual scholars at the three centers of higher
learning: Oxford University, Cambridge University, and the Inns
of Court in London. The Inns of Court attracted the sons of
gentry and merchants pursuing practical and social
accomplishments. The text of 'readings' to members of the inns
survive from this time. In the legalistic climate of these
times, attorneys were prosperous.

The enclosure of land by hedges for sheep farming continued,
especially by rich merchants who bought country land for this
purpose. Often this was land under the plough. The tenants at
will were thrown off it immediately. That land held by
copyholders of land who had only a life estate, was withheld from
their sons. Only freeholders and copyholders with the custom of
the manor in their favor were secure against eviction. The real
line of distinction between rural people was one of material
means instead of legal status: free or unfree. On one extreme
was the well-to-do yeoman farmer farming his own land. On the
other extreme was the agricultural laborer working for wages.

Other land put to use for sheep breeding was waste land. There
were three sheep to every person. The nearby woodlands no longer
had wolves or lynx who could kill the sheep. Bears and elk are
also gone.

There were still deer, wild boar, wildcats and wild cattle in
vast forests for the lords to hunt. Wood was used for houses,
arms, carts, bridges, and ships.

The villages were still isolated from each other, so that a
visitor from miles away was treated as warily as a foreigner.
Most people lived and died where they had been born. A person's
dialect indicated his place of origin. The largest town, London,
had a population of about 70,000. Other towns had a population
less than 20,000. The population was increasing, but did not
reach the level of the period just before the black death.

In most large towns, there were groups of tailors and hatmakers,
glovers, and other leatherworkers. Some towns had a
specialization due to their proximity to the sources of raw
materials, such as nails, cutlery, and effigies and altars.
Despite the spread of wool manufacturing to the countryside,
there was a marked increase of industry and prosperity in the
towns. The principal streets of the larger towns were paved with
gravel. Gild halls became important and imposing

London had some houses of stone and timber and some mansions of
brick and timber clustered around palaces. In these, bedrooms
increased in number, with rich bed hangings, linen sheets, and
bolsters. Bedspreads and nightgowns were introduced. Fireplaces
became usual in all the rooms. Tapestries covered the walls.
Carpets were used in the private rooms. Some of the great halls
had tiled floors. The old trestle tables were replaced by tables
with legs. Benches and stools had backs to lean on. Women and
men wore elaborate headdresses. There are guilds of ironmongers,
salters, and haberdashers [hats and caps]. On the outer periphery
are mud and straw taverns and brothels.

The Tailors' and Linen Armorers' Guild received a charter in 1503
from the King as the "Merchant Tailors" to use all wares and
merchandise, especially wool cloth, as well wholesale as retail,
throughout the nation. Some schooling was now being made
compulsory in certain trades; the goldsmiths' company made a rule
that all apprentices had to be able to read and write.

A yeoman was the second-rank person of some importance, below a
knight, below a gentleman, below a full member of a guild. In
London, it meant the journeyman or second adult in a small
workshop. These yeomen had their own fraternities and were often
on strike. Some yeomen in the large London industries, e.g.
goldsmiths, tailors, clothworkers, who had served an
apprenticeship started their own businesses in London suburbs
outside the jurisdiction of their craft to search them.

The Merchant Adventurers created a London fellowship confederacy
to make membership of their society and compliance with its
regulations binding on all cloth traders. Membership could be
bought for a large fee or gained by apprenticeship or by being
the son of a member.

Foreign trade was revived because it was a period of comparative
peace. The nation sought to sell as much as possible to foreign
nations and to buy at little as possible and thereby increase
its wealth in gold and silver, which could be used for currency.

Ships weighed 200 tons and had twice the cargo space they had
previously. Their bows were more pointed and their high prows
made them better able to withstand gales. The mariners' compass
with a pivoted needle and compass card was introduced. Ships had
three masts. On the first was a square sail. On the second was a
square sail with a small rectangular sail above it. On the third
was a three cornered lateen sail. These sails make possible the
use of almost any direction of wind to go in the direction
sought. This opened the seas of the world to navigation.
Adventurous seamen went on voyages of discovery, such as John
Cabot to North America in 1497, following Italian Christopher
Columbus' discovery of the new world in 1492. There are more
navy ships, and they have some cannon.

There were morality plays in which the seven deadly sins: pride,
covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, fought the
seven cardinal virtues: faith, hope, charity, prudence,
temperance, justice, and strength, respectively, for the human
soul. The play "Everyman" demonstrates that every man can get to
heaven only by being virtuous and doing good deeds in his
lifetime. It emphasized that death may come anytime to every
man, when his deeds will be judged as to their goodness or
sinfulness. Card games were introduced.

The Law

Royal proclamations clarifying, refining or amplifying the law
had the force of parliamentary statutes. One of the first things
Henry did as King was make this proclamation against false
rumors in 1486: "Forasmuch as many of the King our sovereign
lord's subjects [have] been disposed daily to hear feigned,
contrived, and forged tidings and tales, and the same tidings
and tales, neither dreading God nor his Highness, utter and tell
again as though they were true, to the great hurt of divers of
his subjects and to his grievous displeasure: Therefore, in
eschewing of such untrue and forged tidings and tales, the King
our said sovereign lord straitly chargeth and commandeth that no
manner person, whatsoever he be, utter nor tell any such
tidings or tales but he bring forth the same person the which was
author and teller of the said tidings or tales, upon pain to be
set on the pillory, there to stand as long as it shall be
thought convenient to the mayor, bailiff, or other official of
any city, borough, or town where it shall happen any such person
to be taken and accused for any such telling or reporting of any
such tidings or tales. Furthermore the same our sovereign lord
straitly chargeth and commandeth that all mayors, bailiffs, and
other officers diligently search and inquire of all such persons
tellers of such tidings and tales not bringing forth the author
of the same, and them set on the pillory as it above said."

Statutes included:

Lords holding castles, manors, lands and tenements by knight's
service of the King shall have a writ of right for wardship of
the body as well as of the land of any minor heir of a deceased
person who had the use [beneficial enjoyment] of the land for
himself and his heirs as if the land had been in the possession
of the deceased person. And if such an heir is of age, he shall
pay relief to the lord as if he had inherited possession of the
land. An heir in ward shall have an action of waste against his
lord as if his ancestor had died seised of the land. That is,
lands of "those who use" shall be liable for execution of his
debt and to the chief lord for his relief and heriot, and if he
is a bondsman, they may be seized by the lord.

Any woman who has an estate in dower, or for a term of life, or
in tail, jointly with her husband, or only to herself, or to her
use, in any manors, lands, tenements, or other hereditaments of
the inheritance or purchase of her husband, or given to the said
husband and wife in tail, or for term of life, by any of the
ancestors of the said husband, or by any other person seised to
the use of the said husband, or of his ancestors, who, by
herself or with any after taken husband; discontinue, alienate,
release, confirm with warranty or, by collusion, allow any
recovery of the same against them or any other seised to their
use, such action shall be void. Then, the person to whom the
interest, title, or inheritance would go after the death of such
woman may enter and possess such premises. This does not affect
the common law that a woman who is single or remarried may give,
sell, or make discontinuance of any lands for the term of her
life only.

All deeds of gift of goods and chattels made of trust, to the use
of the giver [grantor and beneficiary of trust], to defraud
creditors are void.

It is a felony to carry off against her will, a woman with lands
and tenements or movable goods, or who is heir-apparent to an
ancestor. This includes taking, procuring, abetting, or
knowingly receiving a woman taken against her will.

A vagabond, idle, or suspected person shall be put in the stocks
for three days with only bread and water, and then be put out of
the town. If he returns, he shall spend six days in the stocks.
(A few years later this was changed to one and three days,
respectively.) Every beggar who is not able to work, shall
return to the hundred where he last dwelled, is best known, or
was born and stay there.

No one may take pheasants or partridges by net snares or other
devices from his own warren [breeding ground], upon the freehold
of any other person, or forfeit 200s., one half to the owner of
the land and the other half to the suer. No one may take eggs of
any falcon, hawk, or swan out of their nest, whether it is on
his land or any other man's land, on pain of imprisonment for one
year and fine at the King's will, one half to the King, and the
other half to the holder of the land, or owner of the swan. No
man shall bear any English hawk, but shall have a certificate
for any hawk imported, on pain for forfeiture of such. No one
shall drive falcons or hawks from their customary breeding place
to another place to breed or slay any for hurting him, or pay
200s. after examination by a Justice of the Peace, one half
going to the King and one half to the suer.

Any person without a forest of his own who has a net device with
which to catch deer shall pay 200s. for each month of
possession. Anyone stalking a deer with beasts anywhere not in
his own forest shall forfeit 200s. Anyone taking any heron by
device other than a hawk or long bow shall forfeit 6s.8d. No one
shall take a young heron from its nest or pay 10s. for each such
heron. Two justices may decide such an issue, and one tenth of
the fine shall go to them.

No man shall shoot a cross-bow except in defense of his house,
other than a lord or one having 2,667s. of land because their
use had resulted in too many deer being killed. (The long-bow
was not forbidden.)

No beasts may be slaughtered or cut up by butchers within the
walls of a town, or pay 12d. for every ox and 8d. for every cow
or other beast, so that people will not be annoyed and
distempered by foul air, which may cause them sickness.

No tanner may be a currier [dressed, dyed, and finished tanned
leather] and no currier may be a tanner. No shoemaker
[cordwainer] may be a currier and no currier may be a shoemaker.
No currier shall curry hides which have not been tanned. No
tanner shall sell other than red leather. No tanner may sell a
hide before it is dried. No tanner may tan sheepskins.

No long bow shall be sold over the price of 3s.4d.

Good wood for making bows may be imported without paying customs.

No grained cloth of the finest making shall be sold for more than
16s., nor any other colored cloth for more than 11s. per yard,
or forfeit 40s. for every yard so sold. No hat shall be sold for
more than 20d. and no cap shall be sold for more than 2s.8d., or
forfeit 40s. for each so sold.

Silver may not be sold or used for any use but goldsmithery or
amending of plate to make it good as sterling, so that there
will be enough silver with which to make coinage.

Each feather bed, bolster, or pillow for sale shall be stuffed
with one type of stuffing, that is, dry pulled feathers or with
clean down alone, and with no sealed feathers nor marsh grass,
nor any other corrupt stuffings. Each quilt, mattress, or
cushion for sale shall be stuffed with one type of stuffing, that
is, clean wool, or clean flocks alone, and with no horsehair,
marsh grass, neatshair, deershair, or goatshair, which is
wrought in lime-fats and gives off an abominable and contagious
odor when heated by a man's body, on pain of forfeiture of such.

Salmon shall be sold by standard volume butts and barrels, or
forfeit 6s.8d. Large salmon shall be sold without any small fish
or broken-bellied salmon and the small fish shall be packed by
themselves only, or forfeit 6s.8d. Herring shall be sold at
standard volumes, or forfeit 3s.4d. The herring shall be as good
in the middle and in every part of the package as at the ends of
the package, or forfeit 3s.4d. Eels shall be sold at standard
volumes, and good eels shall not be mixed with lesser quality
eels, or forfeit 10s. The fish shall be packed in the manner
prescribed or forfeit for each vessel 3s.4d.

Fustians shall always be shorn with the long shear, so that it
can be worn for at least two years. If an iron or anything else
used to dress such injures the cloth so that it wears out after
four months, 20s. shall be forfeited for each default, one half
to the King and the other half to the suer.

Pewter and brass ware for sale shall be of the quality of that of
London and marked by its maker, on pain of forfeiture of such,
and may be sold only at open fairs and markets or in the
seller's home, or forfeit 200s. If such false ware is sold, its
maker shall forfeit its value, one half to the King and one half
to the searchers. Anyone using false weights of such wares shall
forfeit 20s., one half to the King and one half to the suer, or
if he cannot pay this fine, to be put in the stocks until market
day and then be put in the pillory all the market time.

No alien nor denizen [foreigner allowed to reside in the nation
with certain rights and privileges] may carry out of the nation
any raw wool or any woolen cloth which has not been barbed,
rowed, and shorn.

Silk ribbons, laces, and girdles of silk may not be imported,
since they can be made in the nation.

No one shall import wine into the nation, but on English ships,
or forfeit the wine, one half to the King and one half to the
seizer of the wine.

No one may take out of the nation any [male] horse or any mare
worth more than 6s.8s. or under the age of three years, upon
pain of forfeiture of such. However, a denizen may take a horse
for his own use and not to sell. This is to stop losing horses
needed for defense of the nation and to stop the price of a
horse from going up.

Freemen of London may go to fairs and markets with wares to sell,
despite the London ordinance to the contrary.

Merchants residing in the nation but outside London shall have
free access to foreign markets without exaction taken of more
than 133s. sterling by the confederacy of London merchants,
which have increased their fee so much, 400s., that merchants
not in the confederacy have been driven to sell their goods in
London for less than they would get at a foreign market. Exacting
more is punishable by a fine of 400s. and damages to the grieved
party of ten times the excess amount taken.

For the privilege of selling merchandise, a duty of scavage shall
be taken of merchant aliens, but not of denizens. Any town
official who allows disturbing of a person trying to sell his
merchandise because he has not paid scavage, shall pay a fine of

Coin clipped or diminished shall not be current in payment, but
may be converted at the King's mint into plate or bullion.
Anyone refusing to take coins with only normal wear may be
imprisoned by the mayor, sheriff, bailiff, constable or other
chief officer. New coins, which have a circle or inscription
around the outer edge, will be deemed clipped if this circle or
inscription is interfered with.

The penalty for usury is placement in the pillory, imprisonment
for half a year, and a fine of 400s. (The penalty was later
changed to one half thereof.)

Lawbooks in use at the Inns of Court included "The Books of Magna
Carta with diverse Old Statutes", Doctor and Student" by St.
Germain, "Grand Abridgment" by Fitzherbert, and "New Natura
Brevium" by Lombard.

Judicial Procedure

These changes in the judicial process were made by statute:

The Chancellor, Treasurer, keeper of the King's privy seal, or
two of them, with a bishop selected by them, and a temporal lord
of the King's council selected by them, and the two Chief
Justices of the King's Bench shall constitute the court of the
Star Chamber. It shall have the authority to call before it by
writ or by privy seal anyone accused of "unlawful maintenances,
giving of liveries, signs and tokens, and retainers by
indentures, promises, oaths, writings, or otherwise embraceries
of his subjects" and witnesses, and impose punishment as if
convicted under due process of law. These laws shall now be
enforced: If a town does not punish the murderer of a man
murdered in the town, the town shall be punished. A town shall
hold any man who wounds another in peril of death, until there
is perfect knowledge whether the man hurt should live or die.
Upon viewing a dead body, the coroner should inquire of the
killers, their abettors, and anyone present at the killing and
certify these names. In addition, the murderer and accessories
indicted shall be tried at the King's suit within a year of the
murder, which trial will not be delayed until a private suit is
taken. If acquitted at the King's suit, he shall go back to
prison or let out with bail for the remainder of the year, in
which time the slain man's wife or next of kin may sue. For
every inquiry made upon viewing a slain body coroners shall be
paid 13s.4d. out of the goods of the slayer or from a town not
taking a murderer, but letting him escape. If the coroner does
not make inquiry upon viewing a dead body, he shall be fined
100s. to the King. If a party fails to appear for trial after a
justice has taken bail from him, a record of such shall be sent
to the King.

If a Justice of the Peace does not act on any person's complaint,
that person may take that complaint to another Justice of the
Peace, and if there is no remedy then, he may take his
complaint to a Justice of Assize, and if there is not remedy
then, he may take his complaint to the King or the Chancellor.
There shall then be inquiry into why the other justices did not
remedy the situation. If it is found that they were in default
in executing the laws, they shall forfeit their commissions and
be punished according to their demerits.

Justices of the Peace shall make inquiry of all offenses in
unlawful retaining, examine all suspects, and certify them to
the King's Bench for trial there or in the King's council, and
the latter might also proceed against suspects on its own
initiative on information given.

Perjury committed by unlawful maintenance, embracing, or
corruption of officers, or in the Chancery, or before the King's
council, shall be punished in the discretion of the Chancellor,
Treasurer, both the Chief Justices, and the clerk of the rolls.

The Star Chamber, Chancellor, King's Bench and King and council
have the power to examine all defendants, by oath or otherwise,
to adjudge them convicted or attainted. They can also be found
guilty by confession, examination, or otherwise. If a defendant
has denied doing the acts of which he is convicted, he is
subject to an additional fine to the King and imprisonment.

Violations of statutes may be heard by the Justices of Assize or
the Justices of the Peace, except treason, murder, and felony.

Actions on the case shall be treated as expeditiously in the
courts of the King's Bench and his common bench as actions of
trespass or debt.

Proclamation at four court terms of a levy of a fine shall be a
final end to an issue of land, tenements, or other hereditaments
and the decision shall bind persons and their heirs, whether
they have knowledge or not of the decision, except for women in
covert [under the protection of a husband] who were not parties,
persons under the age of twenty-one, in prison, out of the
nation, or not of whole mind, who are not parties. These may sue
within five years of losing such condition. Also, anyone not a
party may claim a right, title, claim, or interest in the said
lands, tenements, or other hereditaments at the time of such
fine recorded, within five years after proclamations of the fine.

A defendant who appeals a decision for the purpose of delaying
execution of such shall pay costs and damages to the plaintiff
for the delay.

No sheriff, undersheriff, or shire clerk shall enter any
complaints in their books unless the complaining party is
present. And no more complaints than the complaining party knows
about shall be entered. The penalty is 40s. for each such false
complaint, one half to the King and the other half to the suer
after examination by a Justice of the Peace. This is to prevent
extortion of defendants by false complaints. The justice shall
certify this examination to the King, on pain of a fine of 40s.
A bailiff of a hundred who does not do his duty to summon
defendants shall pay a fine of 40s. for each such default, after
examination by a Justice of the Peace. Sheriffs' records of fines
imposed and bailiffs' records of fines collected may be reviewed
by a Justice of the Peace to examine for deceit.

Any sheriff allowing a prisoner to escape, whether from
negligence or for a bribe, shall be fined, if the prisoner was
indicted of high treason, at least 1,333s. for each escape.
However, if the prisoner was in their keeping because of a
suspicion of high treason, the fine shall be at least 800s.; and
if indicted of murder or petite treason, at least 400s.; and if
suspected of murder or petite treason, 200s.; and if suspected
of other felonies, 100s.

Any person not responding to a summons for jury service shall be
fined 12d. for the first default, and 2s. for the second, and
double for each subsequent default.

A pauper may sue in any court and be assigned an attorney at no
cost to him.

A Justice of the Peace to whom has been reported hunting by
persons disguised with painted faces or visors or otherwise, may
make a warrant for the sheriff or other county officer to arrest
such persons and bring them before the justice. Such hunting in
disguise or hunting at night or disobeying such warrant is a
felony. This is to stop large mobs of disguised people from
hunting together and then causing riots, robberies, and murders.

Benefit of clergy may be used only once, since this privilege has
made clerics more bold in committing murder, rape, robbery, and
theft. However, there will be no benefit of clergy in the case
of murder of one's immediate lord, master, or sovereign. (This
begins the gradual restriction of benefit of clergy until it

For an issue of riot or unlawful assembly, the sheriff shall call
24 jurors, each of lands and tenements at least 20s. of charter
land or freehold or 26s.8d. of copyhold or of both. For each
default of the sheriff, he shall pay 400s. And if the jury
acquits, then the justice, sheriff, and under-sheriff shall
certify the names of any jurors maintained or embraced and their
misdemeanors, or forfeit 400s. Any person proved to be a
maintainer or embracer shall forfeit 400s. to the King and be
committed to ward.

The principal leaders of any riot or unlawful assembly shall be
imprisoned and fined and be bound to the peace with sureties at
a sum determined by the Justices of the Peace. If the riot is by
forty people or heinous, the Justices of Peace shall certify
such and send the record of conviction to the King.

The penalty for giving or taking livery is 100s. per month. The
penalty for causing oneself to be retained is 40s. per day.

The King's steward, Treasurer, and comptroller have authority to
question by twelve discreet persons any servant of the King
about making any confederacies, compassings, conspiracies, or
imaginations with any other person to destroy or murder the King
or one of his council or a lord. Trial shall be by twelve men of
the King's household and punishment as by felony in the common

When a land holder enfeoffs his land and tenements to people
unknown to the remainderman in tail, so that he does not know
who to sue, he may sue the receiver of the profits of the land
and tenements for a remedy. And the receivers shall have the
same advantages and defenses as the feoffees or as if they were
tenants. And if any deceased person had the use for himself and
his heirs, then any of his heirs shall have the same advantages
and defenses as if his ancestor had died seised of the land and
tenements. And all recoveries shall be good against all
receivers and their heirs, and the feofees and their heirs, and
the co-feoffees of the receivers and their heirs, as though the
receivers were tenants indeed, or feofees to their use, or their
heirs of the freehold of the land and tenements.

If a person feoffs his land to other persons while retaining the
use thereof for himself, it shall be treated as if he were still
seised of the land. Thus, relief and heriot will still be paid
for land in socage. And debts and executions of judgments may be
had upon the land and tenements.

The penalty for not paying customs is double the value of the

The town of London shall have jurisdiction over flooding and
unlawful fishing nets in that part of the Thames River that
flows next to it.

The city of London shall have jurisdiction to enforce free
passage of boats on the Severn River in the city, interruption
of which carries a fine of 400s., two-thirds to the King and one
third to the suer.

Jurors impaneled in London shall be of lands, tenements, or goods
and chattels, to the value of 133s. And if the case concerns
debt or damages at least 133s, the jurors shall have lands,
tenements, goods, or chattels, to the value of 333s. This is to
curtail the perjury that has gone on with jurors of little
substance, discretion, and reputation.

A party grieved by a false verdict of any court in London may
appeal to the Hustings Court of London, which hears common pleas
before the mayor and aldermen. Each of the twelve alderman shall
pick from his ward four jurors of the substance of at least
2,000s. to be impaneled. If twenty-four of them find that the
jurors of the petty jury has given an untrue verdict, each such
juror shall pay a fine of at least 400s. and imprisonment not
more than six months without release on bail or surety. However,
if it is found that the verdict was true, then the grand jury
may inquire if any juror was bribed. If so, such juror bribed
and the defendant who bribed him shall each pay ten times the
amount of the bribe to the plaintiff and be imprisoned not more
than six months without release on bail or surety.

The church may punish priests and clerics for any adultery,
fornication, incest, or any other incontinence of the flesh, by

Other changes in the judicial process were made by court
decision. For instance, the royal judges decided that only the
King could grant sanctuary for treason and not the church. After
this, the church withdrew the right of sanctuary from second
time offenders.

The King's council has practically limited itself to cases in
which the state has an interest, especially the maintenance of
public order. Chancery became an independent court rather than
the arm of the King and his council. In Chancery and the King's
Bench, the intellectual revival brought by humanism inspires
novel procedures to be devised to meet current problems in
disputed titles to land, inheritance, debt, breach of contract,
promises to perform acts or services, deceit, nuisance,
defamation, and the sale of goods.

A new remedy is specific performance, that is, performance of an
act rather than money damages.

Evidence is now taken from witnesses.

Various courts had overlapping jurisdiction. For instance,
trespass could be brought in the Court of Common Pleas because
it was a civil action between two private persons. It could also
be brought in the Court of the King's Bench because it broke the
King's peace. It was advantageous for a party to sue for
trespass in the King's court because there a defendant could be
made to pay a fine to the King or imprisoned, or declared outlaw
if he did not appear at court. In a couple of centuries,
trespass on the case will extend all over the previous common
law including assumpsit, ejectment, trover, deceit, libel,
slander, battery, and assault. And the rigid writs with specific
forms of action for common law cases will fall into disuse.

Parliament's supremacy over all regular courts of law was firmly
established and it was called "the high court of Parliament",
paradoxically, since it came to rarely function as a law court.

The humanist intellectual revival also caused the church courts
to try to eliminate contradictions with state law, for instance
in debt, restitution, illegitimacy, and the age of legal

Chapter 12

The Times: 1509-1547

Renaissance humanism came into being in the nation. In this
development, scholars in London, Oxford, and Cambridge
emphasized the value of classical learning, especially Platonism
and the study of Greek literature as the means of better
understanding and writing. They studied the original Greek texts
and became disillusioned with the filtered interpretations of
the church, for example of the Bible and Aristotle. There had
long been displeasure with the priests of the church. They were
supposed to preach four times yearly, visit the sick, say the
daily liturgies, and hear confessions at least yearly. But there
were many lapses. Many were not celibate, and some openly lived
with a woman and had children. Complaints about them included
not residing within their parish community, doing other work
such as raising crops, and taking too much in probate,
mortuary, and marriage fees. Probate fees had risen from at most
5s. to 60s. in the last hundred years. Mortuary fees ranged from
1/3 to 1/9 of a deceased person's goods. Sanctuary was abused.
People objected to the right of arrest by ecclesiastical

Also, most parish priests did not have a theology degree or even
a Bachelor's degree, as did many laymen. In fact, many laymen
were better educated than the parish priests. No one other than
a laborer was illiterate in the towns.

Humanist grammar [secondary] schools were established in London
by merchants and guilds. Classical Latin and Greek were taught
and the literature of the best classical authors was read.
Education was opened up to women. Secondary education teachers
were expected to know Latin and Greek and have studied the
ancient philosophers, history, and geography. The method of
teaching was for the teacher to read text-books to the class
from a prepared curriculum. The students learned how to read and
to write, to develop and amplify a theme by logical analysis,
and to essay on the same subject in the narrative, persuasive,
argumentative, commending, consoling, and inciting styles. They
had horn-books with the alphabet and perhaps a Biblical verse on
them. This was a piece of wood with a paper on it held down by a
sheet of transparent horn. Disobedience incurred flogging by
teacher as well as by parents. Spare the rod and spoil the child
was the philosophy. There were two week vacations at Christmas
and at Easter.

Oxford University was granted a charter which put the greater
part of the town under control of the Chancellor and scholars.
The mayor of Oxford was required to take an oath at his election
to maintain the privileges and customs of the university. Roman
law Regius professorships were founded by the King at Oxford and

The physicians of London were incorporated to oversee and govern
the practice of medicine. A faculty of physicians was
established at Oxford and Cambridge. Only graduates of the new
College of Physicians or of Oxford or Cambridge may practice
medicine or surgery. Food that was digested was thought to turn
into a vapor which passed along the veins and was concreted as
blood, flesh, and fat.

Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" was a popular book. Through
Chaucer, London English became a national standard and the
notion of "correct pronunciation" came into being.

The discoveries and adventures of Amerigo Vespucci, a Portuguese
explorer, were widely read. The North and South American
continents were named for him.

London merchant guilds started to cease to be trading
organizations and began to be identified mainly with hospitality
and benevolence. Twelve Great Companies dominated city politics:
Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Haberdashers,
Ironmongers, Vintners, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Salters, Company of
Merchant Tailors, and the Clothworkers (composed from leading
fullers and shearmen). The leading men of these guilds were
generally aldermen and the guilds acted like municipal
committees of trade and manufactures. Then they acted like a
state department for the superintendence of the trade and
manufactures of London. They were called Livery Companies and
categorized their memberships in three grades: mere membership,
livery membership, and placement on the governing body. Livery
membership was distinguished by having the clothing of the
brotherhood and were usually those who bought membership and
paid higher fees because they were richer. Most of these
companies had almshouses attached to their halls for the
impoverished, disabled, and elderly members and their widows and
children. For instance, many members of the goldsmiths had been
blinded by the fire and smoke of quick silver and some members
had been rendered crazed and infirm by working in that trade.
The pensions of the liverymen were larger than those of mere
members and they generally had a right to a place at those
banquets which are chartered franchises, and they are invited by
the governing body, as a matter of favor, to other
entertainments. The freedom and rights of citizenship of the
city could only be obtained through membership in a livery

A lesser guild, the Leathersellers, absorbed the Glovers,
Pursers, and Pouchmakers. These craftsmen then became wage
earners of the Leathersellers, but others of these craftsmen
remained independent. Before, the Whittawyers, who treated
horse, deer, and sheep hides with alum and oil, had become
wage-earners for the Skinners.

There are 26 wards of London as of 1550. This is the number for
the next four centuries. Each has an alderman, a clerk, and a

Though there was much agreement on the faults of the church and
the need to reform it, there were many disagreements on what
philosophy of life should take the place of church teachings.
The humanist Thomas More was a university trained intellectual.
His book "Utopia", idealized an imaginary society of pagans
living according to the principles of natural virtue. In it,
everything is owned in common and there is no need for money.
There is agreement that there is a God who created the world and
all good things and who guides men. But otherwise people choose
their religious beliefs and their priests. From this perspective,
the practices of current Christians, scholastic theologicians,
priests and monks, superstition, and ritual look absurd. He
encouraged a religious revival. Aristotle's position that
virtuous men would rule best is successfully debated against
Plato's position that intellectuals and philosophers would be the
ideal rulers.

More plead for proportion between punishment and crime. He urged
that theft no longer be punished by death because this only
encouraged the thief to murder his victim to eliminate evidence
of the theft. He opined that the purpose of punishment was to
reform offenders. He advocated justice for the poor to the
standard of justice received by the rich.

Erasmus, a former monk, visited the nation for a couple of years
and argued that reason should prevail over religious belief. He
wrote the book "In Praise of Folly", which noted man's elaborate
pains in misdirected efforts to gain the wrong thing. For
instance, it questioned what man would stick his head into the
halter of marriage if he first weighed the inconveniences of that
life? Or what woman would ever embrace her husband if she
foresaw or considered the dangers of childbirth and the drudgery
of motherhood? Childhood and senility are the most pleasant
stages of life because ignorance is bliss. Old age forgetfulness
washes away the cares of the mind. A foolish and doting old man
is freed from the miseries that torment the wise and has the
chief joy of life: garrulousness. The seekers of wisdom are the
farthest from happiness; they forget the human station to which
they were born and use their arts as engines with which to attack
nature. The least unhappy are those who approximate the naiveness
of the beasts and who never attempt what is beyond men. As an
example, is anyone happier than a moron or fool? Their cheerful
confusion of the mind frees the spirit from care and gives it
many-sided delights. Fools are free from the fear of death and
from the pangs of conscience. They are not filled with vain
worries and hopes. They are not troubled by the thousand cares
to which this life is subject. They experience no shame, fear,
ambition, envy, or love. In a world where man are mostly at
odds, all agree in their attitude towards these innocents. They
are sought after and sheltered; everyone permits them to do and
say what they wish with impunity. However, the usual opinion is
that nothing is more lamentable than madness. The Christian
religion has some kinship with folly, while it has none at all
with wisdom. For proof of this, notice that children, old people,
women, and fools take more delight than anyone else in holy and
religious things, led no doubt solely by instinct. Next, notice
that the founders of religion have prized simplicity and have
been the bitterest foes of learning. Finally, no people act more
foolishly than those who have been truly possessed with
Christian piety. They give away whatever is theirs; they overlook
injuries, allow themselves to be cheated, make no distinction
between friends and enemies, shun pleasure, and feast on hunger,
vigils, tears, labors, and scorn. They disdain life, and utterly
prefer death. In short, they have become altogether indifferent
to ordinary interests, as if their souls lived elsewhere and not
in their bodies. What is this, if not to be mad? The life of
Christians is run over with nonsense. They make elaborate
funeral arrangements, with candles, mourners, singers, and
pallbearers. They must think that their sight will be returned to
them after they are dead, or that their corpses will fall ashamed
at not being buried grandly. Christian theologians, in order to
prove a point, will pluck out four or five words from different
places, even falsifying the sense of them if necessary, and
disregard the fact that the context is irrelevant or even
contradicts the point, They do this with such brazen skill that
our lawyers are often jealous of them.

Lawyer Christopher St. German wrote the legal treatise "Doctor
and Student", in which he deems the law of natural reason to be
supreme and eternal. The law of God and the law of man, as
enunciated by the church and royalty, merely supplement the law
of natural reason and may change from time to time. Examples of
the law of reason are: It is good to be loved. Evil is to be
avoided. Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. Do
nothing against the truth. Live peacefully with others. Justice
is to be done to every man. No one is to wrong another. A
trespasser should be punished. From these is deduced that a man
should love his benefactor. It is lawful to put away force with
force. It is lawful for every man to defend himself and his
goods against an unlawful power.

Like his father, Henry VIII dominated Parliament. He used this
power to reform the church of England in the 1530's. The
Protestant reformation cause had become identified with his
efforts to have his marriage of eighteen years to the virtuous
Catherine annulled so he could marry a much younger woman: Anne.
His purported reason was to have a son. The end of his six
successive wives was: divorced, beheaded, died; divorced,
beheaded, survived. Henry VIII was egotistical, arrogant, and
self-indulgent. This nature allowed him to declare himself the
head of the church of England instead of the pope.

Henry used and then discarded officers of state e.g. by executing
them for supposed treason. One such was Thomas Wolsey, the son
of a town butcher, was another supporter of classical learning.
He rose through the church, the gateway to advancement in a
diversity of occupations of clergy such as secretary, librarian,
teacher, lawyer, doctor, author, civil servant, diplomat, and
statesman. He was a court priest when he aligned himself with
Henry, both of whom wanted power and glory and dressed
extravagantly. But he was brilliant and more of a strategist
than Henry. Wolsey was a reformer by name and started a purge of
criminals, vagrants and prostitutes within. London, bringing many
before the council. But most of his reforming plans were not
brought to fruition, but ended after his campaign resulted in
more power for himself. Wolsey rose to be Chancellor to the King
and Archbishop of York. As the representative of the Pope for
England, he exercised almost full papal authority there. But he
controlled the church in England in the King's interest. He was
second only to the King. He also came to control the many courts.
Wolsey centralized the church in England and dissolved the
smaller monasteries, the proceeds of which he used to build
colleges at Oxford and his home town. He was an impartial and
respected judge.

When Wolsey was not able to convince the pope to give Henry a
divorce, Henry dismissed him and took his property, shortly
after which Wolsey died.

The King replaced Wolsey as Chancellor with Thomas More, after
whom he made Thomas Cromwell Chancellor. Cromwell was the son of
a clothworker and a self- taught lawyer, arbitrator, merchant,
and accountant. Like Wolsey, he was a natural orator. He drafted
and had passed legislation that created a new church of England.
He had all men swear an oath to the terms of the succession act.
Thomas More was known for his honesty and was a highly respected
man. More did not yield to Henry's bullying for support for his
statute declaring the succession to be vested in the children of
his second marriage, and his statute declaring himself the
supreme head of the church of England, instead of the pope. He
did not expressly deny the supremacy act, so was not guilty of
treason under its terms. But silence did not save him. He was
attainted for treason on specious grounds and beheaded. He
conviction rested on the testimony of one perjured witness, who
misquoted More as saying that Parliament did not have the power
to require assent to the supremacy act because it was repugnant
to the common law of Christendom.

Through his host of spies, Cromwell heard what men said to their
closest friends. Words idly spoken were tortured into treason.
Henry had many bills of attainder passed by Parliament. Silence
was a person's only possibility of safety. Fear spread through
the people.

Cromwell developed a technique for the management of the House of
Commons which lasted for generations. He promulgated books in
defense of royal spiritual authority, which argued that canon
law was not divine but merely human and that clerical authority
had no foundation in the Bible. A reformed English Bible was put
in all parish churches. Reformers were licensed to preach.
Cromwell ordered sermons to be said which proclaimed the
supremacy of the King. He instituted registers to record
baptisms, marriages, and burials in every county, for the
purpose of reducing disputes over descent and inheritance. He
dissolved all the lesser monasteries.

When Cromwell procured a foreign wife for Henry whom Henry found
unattractive, he was attainted and executed.

Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote the first English
Common Book of Prayer. With its use beginning in 1549, Church
services were to be held in English instead of Latin. The mass,
thought to be a miracle performed by priests, was to be replaced
by communion shared by all. The mass, prayers for souls in
purgatory, miracles, the worship of saints, and pilgrimages to
shrines such as that of Thomas Becket, were all to be
discontinued. Imprisonment or exile rather than death was made
the penalty for heresy and blasphemy, and also for adultery.

After the King dissolved the greater monasteries, he took and
sold their ornaments, silver plate and jewelry, lead from roofs
of their buildings, and finally much of the land itself. Three
monasteries were converted into the first three treating
hospitals in London, one for the diseased, one for the poor, and
one, Bethlehem (or "Bedlam" for short), for the mentally ill.

Henry used the proceeds from the sale of the monasteries for
building many new palaces and wood ships for his navy. In war,
these navy ships had heavy guns which could sink other ships. In
peace time, these ships were hired out to traders. Large ships
were constructed in docks, made partly by digging and partly by
building walls.

The former land of the monasteries, about 30% of the country's
land, was sold and resold or leased. Some went to
entrepreneurial cloth manufacturers, who converted the buildings
for the manufacture of cloth. They bought the raw wool and hired
craftsmen for every step of the manufacturing process to be done
in one continuous process. This was faster than buying and
selling the wool material between craftsmen who lived in
different areas. Also, it was more efficient because the amount
of raw wool bought could be adjusted to the demand for cloth.

Many landowners now could live in towns exclusively off the rents
of their rural land. Rents were increased so much that tenants
could not pay and were evicted. They usually became beggars or
thieves. Much of their former land was converted from crop
raising to pasture for large herds of sheep. Arable farming
required many workers, whereas sheep farming required only one
shepherd and herdsman. There were exceptional profits made from
the export of wool cloth. But much raw wool was still exported.
It's price went up from 6s.8d. per tod in 1840 to 20s.8d. in

Villeinage was now virtually extinct. A lord could usually claim
a small money- rent from the freeholder, sometimes a relief when
his land was sold or passed at death, and occasionally a heriot
from his heir.

There was steady inflation. Landlords made their leases short
term so that they could raise rents as prices rose.

At least 85% of the population still lived in the country. Rich
traders built town or country houses in which the emphasis was
on comfort and privacy. There was more furniture, bigger windows
filled with glass, wallpaper, and formal gardens. Some floors
were tiled instead of stone or wood. They were still strewn with
straw. The owners ate in a private dining room and slept in their
own rooms with down quilts. Their soap was white. They had
clothing of white linen and white wool, leather slippers, and
felt hats. Men wore long tunics open at the neck and filled in
with pleated linen and enormous puffed sleeves.

Most people dressed according to the apparel laws, which were
updated from time to time. The used tin or pewter dishes,
platters, goblets, saucers, spoons, saltcellars, pots, and
basins. They used soap to wash themselves, their clothes, and
their dishes. They had bedcovers on their beds. Cloth bore the
mark of its weaver and came in many colors. Cloth could be held
together with pins that had a shank with a hook by which they
were closed. People went to barbers to cut their hair and to
extract teeth. They went to people experienced with herbs,
roots, and waters for treatment of skin conditions such as sores,
cuts, burns, swellings, irritated eyes or scaly faces. For more
complicated ailments, they went to physicians, who prescribed
drugs and medicines. They bought drugs and medicines from
apothecaries and pharmacists. They burned wood logs in the
fireplaces in their houses. So much wood was used that young
trees were required by statute to be given enough lateral space
to spread their limbs and were not cut down until mature.

The King, earls, who ruled counties, and barons, who had land and
a place in the House of Lords, still lived in the most comfort.
The King's house had courtyards, gardens, orchards, wood-yards,
tennis courts, and bowling alleys.

Lawyers had more work with the new laws passed to replace the
canons of the church. They played an important role in town
government and many became wealthy. They acquired town houses in
addition to their rural estates.

The walls of the towns were manned by the citizens themselves,
with police and watchmen at their disposal. In inns, travelers
slept ten to a bed and there were many fleas and an occasional
rat or mouse running through the rushes strewn on the floor. The
inn provided a bed and ale, but travelers brought their own food.
Each slept with his purse under his pillow.

In markets, sellers set up booths for their wares. They sold
grain for making oatmeal or for sowing one's own ground. Wine,
butter, cheese, fish, chicken, and candles could also be bought.
Butchers bought killed sheep, lambs, calves, and pigs to cut up
for selling. Tanned leather was sold to girdle-makers and
shoemakers. Goods bought in markets were presumed not to be
stolen, so that a purchaser could not be dispossessed of goods
bought unless he had knowledge that they were stolen.

The ruling group of the towns came to be composed mostly of
merchants, manufacturers, lawyers, and physicians. Some
townswomen were independent traders. The governed class
contained small master craftsmen and journeyman artisans, small
traders, and dependent servants. The major streets of London
were paved with stone, with a channel in the middle. More water
conduits from hills, heaths, and springs were built to provide
the citizens of London with more water.

The idea of competition appeared. Each man sought to be richer
than his neighbors.

The cloth, mining, iron, and woodcraft industries employed
full-time workers on wages.

Land held in common was partitioned. There were leases of mansion
houses, smaller dwelling houses, houses with a wharf having a
crane, houses with a timber yard, houses with a garden, houses
with a shed, shops, warehouses, cellars, and stables. Land with
a dye-house or a brew-house were devised by will along with
their dying or brewing implements. There were dairies making
butter and cheese.

The knights had 70% of the land, the nobles 10%, the church 10%,
and the King 5%.

Citizens paid taxes to the King amounting to one tenth of their
annual income from land or wages. The national government was
much centralized and had full- time workers on wages. A national
commission of sewers continually surveyed walls, ditches, banks,
gutters, sewers, ponds, bridges, rivers, streams, mills, locks,
trenches, fish-breeding ponds, and flood-gates. When low places
were threatened with flooding, it hired laborers, bought timber,
and hired carts with horses or oxen for necessary work. Mayors
of cities repaired water conduits and pipes under the ground in
their cities.

The organ and harp, precursor to the piano, were played.

All people generally had enough food because of the
commercialization of agriculture. Also, roads were good enough
for the transport of foodstuffs thereon. Four-wheeled waggons
were in general use as well as two-wheeled carts. They were used
for carrying people as well as goods. Goods were also
transported by the pulling of barges on the rivers from paths
along the river. A plough with wheels was used as well as those

The matchlock musket came into use, but did not replace the bow
because rainy weather made it unusable.

Church reforms included abolishing church sanctuaries. Benefit of
clergy was restricted. Archbishops were selected by the King.
Decisions by archbishops in testamentary, matrimonial, and
divorce matters were appealable to the Court of Chancery instead
of to the pope. The clergy's canons were subject to the King's

The Law

A person having land in socage or fee simple may will and devise
his land by will or testament in writing.

A person holding land by knight's service may will and devise by
his last will and testament in writing part of his land to his
wife and other parts of his land to his children, as long as 1/3
of entailed land is left to the King.

Anyone serving the King in war may alienate his lands for the
performance of his will, and if he dies, his feoffees or
executors shall have the wardship of his heir and land.

A person who leases land for a term of years, even if by
indenture or without a writing, may have a court remedy as do
tenants of freehold for any expulsion by the lessor which is
contrary to the lease, covenant, or agreement. These termers,
their executors and assigns, shall hold and enjoy their terms
against the lessors, their heirs and assigns. The lessor shall
have a remedy for rents due or waste by a termer after
recovering the land as well as if he had not recovered the land.

A lord may distrain land within his fee for rents, customs, or
services due without naming the tenant, because of the existence
of secret feoffments and leases made by their tenants to unknown

Anyone seised of land to the use or trust of other persons by
reason of a will or conveyance shall be held to have lawful
seisin and possession of the land, because by common law, land
is not devisable by will or testament, yet land has been so
conveyed, which has deprived married men of their courtesy, women
of their dower, the King of the lands of persons attainted, the
King of a year's profits of the of felons, and lords their

A woman may not have both a jointure and dower of her husband's
land. (Persons had purchased land to hold jointly with their

A sale of land must be in writing, sealed, and registered in its
county with the clerk of that county. If the land is worth less
than 40s. per year, the clerk is paid 12d. If the land exceeds
40s. yearly, the clerk is paid 2s.6d.

An adult may lease his lands or tenements only by a writing under
his seal for a term of years or a term of life, because many
people who had taken leases of lands and tenements for a term of
years or a term of lives had to spend a lot for repair and were
then evicted by heirs of their lessors.

A husband may not lease out his wife's land.

No woman covert, child, idiot, or person of insane memory may
devise land by will or testament.

The land of tenants-in-common may be partitioned by them so that
each holds a certain part.

No bishop or other official having authority to take probate of
testaments may take a fee for probating a testament where the
goods of the testator are under 100s., except that the scribe
writing the probate of the testament may take 6d., and for the
commission of administration of the goods of any man dying
intestate, being up to 100s, may be charged 6d. Where the goods
are over 100s. but up to 800s. sterling, probate fees may be
3s.6d. at most, whereof the official may take 2s.6d. at most,
with 12d. residue to the scribe for registering the testament.
Where the goods are over 800s. sterling, probate fees may be 5s.
at most, whereof the official may take 2s.6d. at most, with
2s.6d. residue to the scribe, or the scribe may choose to take
1d. per 10 lines of writing of the testament. If the deceased
had willed by his testament any land to be sold, the money
thereof coming nor the profits of the land shall not be counted
as the goods or chattel of the deceased. Where probate fees have
customarily been less, they shall remain the same. The official
shall approve and seal the testament without delay and deliver
it to the executors named in such testaments for the said sum.
If a person dies intestate or executors refuse to prove the
testament, then the official shall grant the administration of
the goods to the widow of the deceased person, or to the next of
kin, or to both, in the discretion of the official, taking
surety of them for the true administration of the goods,
chattels, and debts. Where kin of unequal degree request the
administration, it shall be given to the wife and, at his
discretion, other requestors. The executors or administrators,
along with at least two persons to whom the deceased was
indebted, or to whom legacies were made, or, upon their refusal
or absence, two honest kinsmen, shall make an inventory of the
deceased's goods, chattels, ware, merchandise, as well moveable
as not moveable, and take it upon their oaths to the official.

No parish priest or other spiritual person shall take a mortuary
or money from a deceased person with moveable goods under the
value of 133s., a deceased woman covert baron, a child, a person
keeping no house, or a traveler. Only one mortuary may be taken
of each deceased and that in the place where he most dwelled and
lived. Where the deceased's moveable goods are to the value of
133s. or more, above his debts paid, and under 600s., a mortuary
up to 3s. 4d. may be taken. Where such goods are 600s. or more
and under 800s., mortuary up to 6s.8d. may be taken. Where such
goods are 800s. or above, mortuary up to 10s. may be taken. But
where mortuaries have customarily been less, they shall remain
the same.

Executors of a will declaring land to be sold for the payment of
debts, performance of legacies to wife and children, and
charitable deeds for the health of souls, may sell the land
despite the refusal of other executors to agree to such sale.

A man may not marry his mother, step-mother, sister, niece, aunt,
or daughter.

Only marriages which have not been consummated may be dissolved
by annulment.

The entry of an apprentice into a craft shall not cost more than
2s.6d. After his term, his entry shall not be more than 3s.4d.
This replaced the various fees ranging from this to 40s.

No master of a craft may require his apprentice to make an oath
not to compete with him by setting up a shop after the term of
his apprenticeship.

No alien may take up a craft or occupation in the nation.

No brewer of ale or beer to sell shall make wood vessels or
barrels, and coopers shall use only good and seasonable wood to
make barrels and shall put their mark thereon. Every ale or beer
barrel shall contain 32 of the King's standard gallons. The
price of beer barrels sold to ale or beer brewers or others shall
be 9d.

An ale-brewer may employ in his service one cooper only to bind,
hoop and pin, but not to make, his master's ale vessels.

No butcher may keep a tanning-house.

Tanned leather shall be sold only in open fairs and markets and
after it is inspected and sealed.

Only people living in designated towns may make cloth, to prevent
the ruin of these towns by people taking up both agriculture and
cloth-making outside these towns.

No one shall shoot in or keep in his house any hand-gun or
cross-bow unless he has 2,000s. yearly.

No one may hunt or kill rabbits in the snow since their killing
in great numbers by men other than the King and noblemen has
depleted them.

No one shall take an egg or bird of any falcon or hawk out of its
nest on the King's land. No one may disguise himself with hidden
or painted face to enter a forest or park enclosed with a wall
for keeping deer to steal any deer or rabbit.

Ducks and geese shall not be taken with any net or device during
the summer, when they haven't enough feathers to fly. But a
freeholder of 40s. yearly may hunt and take such with long bow
and spaniels.

No one may sell or buy any pheasant except the King's officers
may buy such for the King.

No butcher may kill any calf born in the spring.

No grain, beef, mutton, veal, or pork may be sold outside the

Every person with 36 acres of agricultural land, shall sow one
quarter acre with flax or hemp-feed.

All persons shall kill crows on their land to prevent them from
eating so much grain at sowing and ripening time and destroying
hay-stacks and the thatched roofs of houses and barns. They
shall assemble yearly to survey all the land to decide how best
to destroy all the young breed of crows for that year. Every
village and town with at least ten households shall put up and
maintain crow nets for the destruction of crows.

No land used for crop-raising may be converted to pasture.

No woods may be converted to agriculture or pasture.

No one shall cut down or break up dikes holding salt water and
fresh water from flooding houses and pastures.

No one shall dump tin-mining debris, dung, or rubbish into rivers
flowing into ports or take any wood from the walls of the port,
so that ships may always enter at low tide.

A person may lay out a new highway on his land where the old one
has been so damaged by waterways that horses with carriages
cannot pass, with the consent of local officials.

Only poor, aged, and disabled persons may beg. Begging without a
license is punishable by whipping or setting in the stocks 3
days with only bread and water.

Alien palm readers shall no longer be allowed into the nation,
because they have been committing felonies and robberies.

Butchers may not sell beef, pork, mutton, or veal from carcasses
for more than 1/2 penny and 1/2 farthing [1/4 penny] per pound.

French wines may not sell at retail for more than 8d. per gallon.

A barrel maker or cooper may sell a beer barrel for 10d.

No longer may aliens bring books into the nation to sell because
now there are sufficient printers and book-binders in the

No one may buy fresh fish other than sturgeon, porpoise, or seal
from an alien to put to sale in the nation.

Every person with an enclosed park where there are deer, shall
keep two tall and strong mares in such park and shall not allow
them to be mounted by any short horse, because the breeding of
good, swift, and strong horses has diminished.

A man may have only as many trotting horses for the saddle as are
appropriate to his degree.

No one may maintain for a living a house for unlawful games such
as bowling, tennis, dice, or cards. No artificer, craftsman,
husbandman, apprentice, laborer, journeyman, mariner, fisherman
may play these games except at Christmas under his master's
supervision. Noblemen and others with a yearly income of at
least 2,000s. may allow his servants to play these games at his

Hemp of flax may not be watered in any river or stream where
animals are watered.

No one shall sell merchandise to another and then buy back the
same merchandise within three months at a lower price. No one
shall sell merchandise to be paid for in a year above the sum of
200s. per 2000s. worth of merchandise. No one shall sell or
mortgage any land upon condition of payment of a sum of money
before a certain date above the sum of 200s. per 2000s. per year.

No one shall commit forgery by counterfeiting a letter made in
another person's name to steal any money, goods, or jewels.

No one shall libel by accusing another of treason in writing and
leaving it in an open place without subscribing his own name to

If any servant converts to his own use more than 40s. worth of
jewels, money, or goods from caskets entrusted to him for
safekeeping by a nobleman or other master or mistress, it shall
be a felony.

If a person breaks into a dwelling house by night to commit
burglary or murder, is killed by anyone in that house, or a
person is killed in self-defense, the killer shall not forfeit
any lands or goods for the killing.

Killing by poisoning shall be deemed murder and is punishable by

A person who has committed a murder, robbery, or other felony he
has committed shall be imprisoned for his natural life and be
burned on the hand, because those who have been exiled have
disclosed their knowledge of the commodities and secrets of this
nation and gathered together to practice archery for the benefit
of the foreign realm. If he escapes such imprisonment, he shall
forfeit his life.

A person convicted or outlawed shall be penalized by loss of
life, but not loss of lands or goods, which shall go to his wife
as dower and his heirs.

Buggery may not be committed on any person or beast.

No one shall slander or libel the King by speeches or writing or
printing or painting.

No one shall steal fish from a pond on another's land by using
nets or hooks with bait or by drying up the pond.

The mayor of London shall appoint householders to supervise
watermen rowing people across the Thames River because so many
people have been robbed and drowned by these rowers. All such
boats must be at least 23 feet long and 5 feet wide.

No man shall take away or marry any maiden under 16 years of age
with an inheritance against the will of her father.

Any marriage solemnized in church and consummated shall be valid
regardless of any prior contract for marriage.

Sheriffs shall not lose their office because they have not
collected enough money for the Exchequer, but shall have
allowances sufficient to perform their duties.

Butchers, brewers, and bakers shall not conspire together to sell
their victuals only at certain prices. Artificers, workmen and
laborers shall not conspire to work only at a certain rate or
only at certain hours of the day.

No one shall sell any woolen cloth that shrinks when it is wet.

Only artificers using the cutting of leather, may buy and sell
tanned leather and only for the purpose of converting it into
made wares.

A beggar's child above five years may be taken into service by
anyone that will.

Cattle may be bought only in the open fair or market and only by
a butcher or for a household, team, or dairy, but not for resale

Butter and cheese shall not be bought to be sold again except at
retail in open shop, fair, or market.

No man may enter a craft of cloth-making until he has been an
apprentice for seven years or has married a clothiers' wife and
practicing the trade for years with her and her servants sorting
the wool.

No country person shall sell wares such as linen drapery, wool
drapery, hats, or groceries by retail in any incorporated town,
but only in open fairs.

For every 60 sheep there shall be kept one milk cow because of
the scarcity of cattle.

No clothier may keep more than one wool loom in his house,
because many weavers do not have enough work to support their
families. No weaver may have more than two wool looms.

No cloth-maker, fuller, shearman, weaver, tailor, or shoemaker
shall retain a journeyman to work by the piece for less than a
three month period. Every craftsman who has three apprentices
shall have one journeyman. Servants in agriculture and bargemen
shall serve by the whole year and not by day wages.

There shall be a sales tax of 12d. per pound of wool cloth goods
for the Crown.

All people shall attend church on Sundays to remember God's
benefits and goodness to all and to give thanks for these with
prayers and to pray to be given daily necessities.

Anyone fighting in church shall be excluded from the fellowship
of the parish community.

No one shall use a rope or device to stretch cloth for sale so to
make it appear as more in quantity than it is.

No one may sell cloth at retail unless the town where it was
dressed, dyed, and pressed has placed its seal on the cloth.
Cloth may not be pressed with a hot press, but only with a cold

Offices may not be bought and sold, but only granted by justices
of the royal courts.

No one going from house to house to repair metal goods or sell
small goods he is carrying may do this trade outside the town
where he lives.

No one may sell ale or beer without a license, because there have
been too many disorders in common alehouses. Offenders may be
put in the town or county jail for three days.

French wine may not be sold for more than 8d. per gallon.

Only persons with yearly incomes of 1,333s. or owning goods worth
13,333s. may store wine in his house and only for the use of his

No one may sell forged iron, calling it steel, because the edged
tools and weapons made from it are useless.

Parish communities shall repair the highways for four days each
year using oxen, cart, plough, shovels, and spades.

The children of priests are declared legitimate so they may
inherit their ancestor's lands. The priests may be tenants by
courtesy after the death of their wives of such land and
tenements that their wives happened to be seized of in fee
simple or in fee tail, during the spousals.

Judicial Procedure

Doctors of the civil law may practice in the church or Chancery

Justices shall tax inhabitants of the county for building jails
throughout the nation, for imprisonment of felons, to be kept by
the sheriffs and repaired out of the Exchequer.

Piracy at sea or in river or creek or port are adjudicated in
shires because of the difficulty of obtaining witnesses from the
ship, who might be murdered or who are on other voyages on the
sea, for adjudication by the admiral.

Piracy and murder on ships is punishable by death only after
confession or proof by disinterested witnesses.

Land held by tenants in common may be partitioned by court order,
because some of these tenants have cut down all the trees to
take the wood and pulled down the houses to convert the material
to their own use.

Persons worth 800s. a year in goods shall be admitted in trials
of felons in corporate towns although they have no freehold of

Each justice of the high courts may employ one chaplain.

The Privy Council took the authority of the star court, which
organized itself as a specialty court. Also, a specific group of
full-time councilors heard pleas of private suitors.

The bishops, nobility, and Justices of the Peace were commanded
to imprison clergy who taught papal authority. Justices of the
Peace and sheriffs were to watch over the bishops. The Justices
of Assize were to assess the effectiveness of the Justices of
the Peace as well as enforce the treason act on circuit.

The criminal court had no jury and went outside the common law to
prosecute political enemies.

Since the nation was now peaceful, expediency was no longer
needed, so judicial procedures again became lengthy and formal
with records.

All pleadings and usually testimony was put into writing in
Chancery court.

Witnesses could be sworn in to state pertinent facts necessary
for full understanding and adjudication of cases, because they
are reliable now that there is no livery and maintenance and
because jurors no longer necessarily know all the relevant

Chapter 13

The Times: 1558-1604

Queen Elizabeth I was intelligent, educated, and wise about human
nature. When young, she was a brilliant student. Then, she
studied much history, philosophy, and oratory. She wrote in
English, Latin, French, and Italian. She read Greek, including
the Greek Testament, Greek orators, and Greek dramatists at age
seven, when the first professorship of Greek was founded at
Cambridge University. Book- learning was one of her highest
values throughout her life. She had good judgment in selecting
her ministers and advisors for her Privy Council. Like her
father and grandfather, she dominated Parliament.

She was so influenced by her reading of Cicero that she acquired
his style of writing. Her Chief Secretary William Cecil was so
guided by Cicero's "Offices" that he carried a copy in his
pocket. Cicero opined that government officials' duty was to
make the safety and interest of citizens its greatest aim and to
design all their thoughts and endeavors without ever considering
personal advantage. Government was not to serve the interest of
any one group to the prejudice or neglect of the rest, for then
discord and sedition would occur. Furthermore, a governor should
try to become loved and not feared, because men hated those whom
they feared, and wished dead those whom they hated. Therefore
obedience proceeding from fear could not last, whereas that which
was the effect of love would last forever. An oppressor ruling
by terror will be resented by the citizens, who in secret will
choose a worthier person. Then liberty, having been chained up,
would be unleashed more fiercely than otherwise. To obtain the
peoples' love, a governor should be kind and bountiful. To
obtain the peoples' trust, a governor should be just, wise, and
faithful. To demonstrate this, a governor should be eloquent in
showing the people an understanding better than theirs, the
wisdom to anticipate events, and the ability to deal with adverse
events. And this demonstration should be done with modesty. One
cannot get the peoples' trust by vain shows, hypocritical
pretenses, composed countenances, and studied forms of words.
The first goal of a governor is to take care that each
individual is secured in the quiet enjoyment of his own property.
The second goal is to impose taxes that are not burdensome. The
third goal is to furnish the people with necessaries. The law
should be enforced keeping in mind that its fundamental purpose
is to keep up agreement and union among citizens.

Elizabeth cared deeply for the welfare of all citizens of
whatever class. She was sensitive to public opinion and wanted
to be loved by her people, which she was. She was frugal and
diplomatically avoided unnecessary wars, saying that her purse
was the pockets of her people. England was a small Protestant
nation threatened by the larger Catholic nations of France and
Spain. Elizabeth flirted with foreign princes to make them waste
their time trying to get England by marrying her instead of by
war. Her promotion of commercial speculations diffused a vast
increase of wealth among her people. Her good spirits and
gayness created a happy mood in the nation. She loved dancing and
madrigal music was popular. The Elizabethan era was one of
general prosperity.

Elizabeth came to dress elaborately and fancifully. Her dresses
were fitted at the waist with a long and pointed bodice
stiffened with wood, steel, or whalebone. Her skirt was held out
with a petticoat with progressively larger hoops. There were two
layers of skirt with the top one parted to show the bottom one.
The materials used were silks, satins, velvets, and brocades. On
her dress were quiltings, slashings, and embroidery. They were
covered with gold ornaments, pearls, and gems from America. She
wore decorated gloves. So ladies copied her and discarded their
simple over-tunics for elaborate dresses. The under-tunic was
now becoming a petticoat and the over-tunic a dress. Their
under-tunics became petticoats. Often they also wore a fan with a
mirror, a ball of scent, a miniature portrait of someone dear to
them, and sometimes a watch. Single ladies did not wear hats,
but had long, flowing hair and low cut dresses showing their
bosoms. Married ladies curled their hair and wore it in high
masses on their heads with jewels interwoven into it. Both
gentlemen and ladies wore hats both indoors and outside and
large, pleated collars around their necks (with the newly
discovered starch), perfume, and high-heeled shoes. Gentlemen's'
tight sleeves, stiffened and fitted doublet with short skirt, and
short cloak were ornamented and their silk or velvet hats
flamboyant, with feathers. At their leather belts they hung
pouches and perhaps a watch. They wore both rapiers [swords with
cutting edges] and daggers daily as there were many quarrels.
There were various artistic beard cuts and various lengths of
hair, which was often curled and worn in ringlets. They now wore
breeches and stockings instead of long hosen. Both gentlemen and
ladies wore silk stockings and socks over them and then boots.
Coats dipped in boiled linseed oil with resin served as
raincoats. They wore nightgowns to bed. Fashions changed every
year. When Elizabeth became old, she had a wig made to match her
youthful long red hair. Other ladies began wearing wigs.

Poor men wore skirted fustian tunics, loose breeches, and coarse
stockings or canvas leggings. Agricultural laborers kept sword
and bow in a corner of their fields in the first part of
Elizabeth's reign.

Women spent much of their time doing needlework and embroidery.
Since so many of the women who spent their days spinning were
single, unmarried women became known as "spinsters".

Children wore the same apparel as their elders. They were given
milk at meals for good growth. It was recognized that sickness
could be influenced by diet and herbs. Sickness was still viewed
as an imperfect balance of the four elements of blood (hot and
moist like air), phlegm (cold and moist like water), choler or
yellow bile (hot and dry like fire), and melancholy or black bile
(cold and dry like earth) in a person.

There were many lifestyle possibilities in the nation:
independently wealthy with 40s. yearly or goods worth 200s.;
gentleman, that is one who owned land or was in a profession
such as an attorney, physician, priest or who was a university
graduate, government official, or a military officer; employment
in agriculture, arts, sciences; employment in households and
offices of noblemen and gentlemen; independent farmers with
their own farm; fisherman or mariner on the sea or apprentice of
such; employment by carriers of grain into cities, by market
towns, for digging, seeking, finding, getting, melting, fining,
working, trying, making of any silver, tin, lead, iron, copper,
stone, coal; glassmaker.

Typical wages in the country were: fieldworkers 2-3d. a day,
ploughmen 1s. a week with board, shepherd 6d. a week and board,
his boy 2 1/2 d., hedgers 6d. a day, threshers 3-7d. depending
on the grain, thatching for five days 2d., master mason or
carpenter or joiner 4d. a day and food or 8d. without food, a
smith 2d. a day with food, a bricklayer 2 1/2 d. a day with
food, a shoemaker 2d. a day with food. These people lived
primarily on food from his own ground.

There was typical work for each month of the year in the country:
January - ditching and hedging after the frost broke, February -
catch moles in the meadows, March - protect the sheep from
prowling dogs, April - put up hop poles, sell bark to the tanner
before the timber is felled, fell elm and ash for carts and
ploughs, fell hazel for forks, fell sallow for rakes, fell horn
for flails, May - weed and hire children to pick up stones from
the fallow land, June - wash and shear the sheep, July - hay
harvest, August - wheat harvest, September and October - gather
the fruit, sell the wool from the summer shearing, stack logs
for winter, buy salt fish for Lent in the town and lay it up to
dry, November - have the chimneys swept before winter, thresh
grain in the barn, December - grind tools, repair yokes, forks,
and farm implements, cover strawberry and flower beds with straw
to protect them from the cold, split kindling wood with beetle
and wedge, tan their leather, make leather jugs, make baskets for
catching fish, and carve wood spoons, plates, and bowls.

There was a wave of building and renovation activity in town and
country. Housing is now, for the first time, purely for dwelling
and not for defense. They were designed symmetrically with
decorative features instead of a haphazard addition of rooms.
Windows were large and put on the outer walls instead of just
inside the courtyard. A scarcity of timber caused proportionally
more stone to be used for dwelling houses and proportionately
more brick to be used for royal palaces and mansions. The rest
of the house was plaster painted white interspersed with
vertical, horizontal, and sloping timber, usually oak, painted
black. They had locks and bolts for protection from intruders.
The floors were stone or wood, and sometimes tile. They were
often covered with rushes or plaited rush mats. Some private
rooms may have carpets on the floor. Walls were smoothly
plastered or had carved wood paneling to control drafts. Painted
cloths replaced tapestries on walls. Candles were hung from the
ceiling and used on tables. Plastered ceilings and a lavish use
of glass made rooms lighter and cozy. Broad and gracious
stairways with carved wood banisters replaced the narrow winding
stone steps of a stairwell. Most houses had several brick
chimneys and clear, but uneven, glass in the windows. There were
fireplaces in living rooms, dining rooms, kitchen, and bedrooms.
Sometimes there was a library, study room, or breakfast room as
well. Rooms were more spacious than before and contained
furniture such as chests of drawers, enclosed cupboards,
cabinets, buffets, tables, chairs and benches with backs and
cushions, sometimes with arms, and occasionally wardrobes,
either hanging or with shelves, for clothes. Carpeting covered
tables, chests, and beds. Family portraits decorated some walls,
usually in the dining room. Bedrooms all led out of each other.
But curtains on the four poster beds with tops provided
privacy. Beds had elaborately carved bedsteads, sheets, and a
feather coverlid as well as a feather mattress. Often family
members, servants, and friends shared the same bed for warmth or
convenience. Each bedroom typically had a cabinet with a mirror,
e.g. of burnished metal or crystal, and comb on top. One brushed
his teeth with tooth soap and a linen cloth, as physicians
advised. Each bedroom had a pitcher and water bowl, usually
silver or pewter, for washing in the morning, and a bed-pan for
nighttime use, and also fragrant flowers. Elizabeth had a room
just for her bath. Smoking tobacco and snuff-taking became

On the table was a fancy salt cellar and pepper. Some gentry used
two-pronged forks for eating. Glass drinking vessels replaced
even gold and silver goblets. Breakfast was substantial, with
meat, and usually eaten in one's bedroom. There was great plenty
and variety of meats to all but the poorer classes: beef,
mutton, veal, lamb, kid, pork, rabbit, capon, red deer, fish and
wild fowl as well as the traditional venison and brawn [boar].
From English orchards and gardens came apricots, almonds,
gooseberries, raspberries, melons, currants, oranges, and lemons
as well as the traditional apples, pears, plums, mulberries,
quinces, pomegranates, figs, cherries, walnuts, chestnuts, hazel
nuts, filberts, strawberries, blackberries, dewberries,
blueberries, and peaches. Also grown were sweet potatoes,
artichokes, cabbages, turnips, broad beans, peas, pumpkins,
cucumbers, radishes, carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, garlic,
leeks, endive, spinach, sorrel, lettuce, parsley, mustard,
cress, sage, tarragon, fennel, thyme, mint, savory, rhubarb, and
medicinal herbs. Sugar was used to make sweet dishes. Grace was
said before meals. Toothpicks were used.

Most dwellings were of brick and stone. Only a few were of wood
or mud and straw. The average house was now four rooms instead
of three. Yeomen might have six rooms. A weaver's house had a
hall, two bedrooms, and a kitchen besides the shop. Farmers
might have two instead of one room. A joiner had a one-room house
with a feather bed and bolster. Even craftsmen, artificers and
farmers had feather beds on bed frames with pillows and hung
loom tapestry and painted cloth to keep out the cold in their
single story homes. They also had pewter spoons and plates,
instead of just wood or earthenware ones. Even the poorer class
had glass drinking vessels, though of a coarse grade. The poor
still used wooden plates and spoons. Laborers had canvas sheets.
Richer farmers would build a chamber above the hall, replacing
the open hearth with a fireplace and chimney. Poorer people
favored ground floor extensions, adding a kitchen or second
bedchamber to their cottages. Kitchens were often separate
buildings to reduce the risk of fire. Roasting was done on a
spit and baking in irons boxes placed in the fire or in a brick
oven at the side of the fireplace.

Mixed farming began. In this, some of the arable land produced
food for man and the rest produced food for sheep, cattle, pigs,
and poultry. This was made possible by the introduction of
clover, artificial grasses, and turnip and other root crops for
the animals. Since the sheep ate these crops in the field, they
provided manure to maintain the fertility of the soil. This meant
that many animals could be maintained throughout the winter
instead of being slaughtered and salted.

More than medieval castles and manor houses, mansions were
designed with privacy in mind. The great hall, often hung around
with bows, pikes, swords, and guns, was not abandoned, but the
family used it as an eating place only on rare occasions.
Instead they withdrew to the parlor and great chamber, while
their servants lived in turrets or attics and continued to eat
in the hall. The distinction between parlor and great chamber
was that the former was for domestic use and the latter for
entertaining. Parlors were situated on the ground floor: the
family lived and relaxed there, and had informal meals in a
dining parlor. The formal or "state" rooms were on the first
floor, usually comprising a great chamber, a withdrawing
chamber, one or more bedchambers, and a long gallery. The idea
of a long gallery was copied from Henry VII and was used for
exercise, recreation such as music and dancing, and private
conversations. Each room had carved chairs and cabinets. A noble
or gentleman's house had not only a garden for the kitchen and
orchards, but formal gardens of flowers and scrubs. Grown were
apples, plums, pears, apricots, peaches, walnuts, filberts,
almonds, figs, capers, oranges, and lemons. Trees were planted
and grafted.

A noble lord made written rules with penalties for his country
household, which numbered about a hundred, including family,
retainers, and servants. He enforced them by fines, flogging,
and threats of dismissal. The lady of the house saw that the
household, held together as an economic and social unit. The
noble's family, retainers, guests, and the head servants, such
as chaplain and children's tutor, and possibly a musician, dined
together at one table. The family included step children and
married sons and daughters with their spouses. They drank from
drinking of fine clear glass from Italy. They ate from silver
dishes with silver spoons. Chandeliers of candles lit rooms. A
silver salt cellar was on the table, which was covered with a
linen cloth. The lady of the house sat in a chair at the end of
the table and was served first. After the upper table was
served, the food was sent to the servants: serving men and
women, bakers, brewers, cooks, pot cleaners, laudresses,
shepherds, hogherds, dairy maids, falconers, huntsmen, and
stable men. What was left was given to the poor at the gates of
the house. The biggest meal of the day was dinner, served at
noon. There were sandglass clocks. For amusement, the house was
occasionally handed over to a lord of misrule for twelve days.
Clothes were washed in rivers and wells.

Farmers' wives used looms as well as spinning wheels with foot
treadles. Due to new grass and root crops, animals could be kept
through the winter. Therefore, salted meat and salted fish were
no longer the staple food of the poorer people during the
winter. Farm laborers ate soup, porridge, milk, cheese, bacon,
and beer or mead (depending on the district), and dark barley or
rye bread, which often served as his plate. Gentlemen ate wheat

By 1600 basement services were frequently found in town houses
built on restricted sites. Lastly, provision of water supplies
and improved sanitary arrangements reflected concern with
private and public health. There was virtually no drainage. In
the case of town houses, some owners would go to considerable
effort to solve drainage problems, often paying a cash
composition to the civic authorities, but sometimes performing
some service for the town at Court or at Westminster in return
for unlimited water or some drainage. Most affluent households,
including the Queen's moved from house to house, so their
cesspits could be cleaned out and the vacated buildings aired
after use. A few cesspits were made air-tight. Otherwise, there
was extensive burning of perfumes. Refuse was emptied out of
front doors and shoveled into heaps on street corners. It was
then dumped into the river or along the highways leading out of
town. People put on perfume to avoid the stench. By 1600, the
first water-closet was built, which provided a clean latrine all
year round.

The value of grain and meat rose compared to wool. Grain became
six times its value in the previous reign. Wool fell from
20s.8d. per tod in 1546 to 16s. in 15s. So sheep-farming, which
had taken about 5% of the arable land, was supplanted somewhat
by crop-raising and the rural population could be employed for
agriculture. In some places, the threefold system of rotation was
replaced by alternating land used for crops with that used for
pasture. The necessity of manuring and the rotation of crops and
grasses such as clover for enrichment of the soil were
recognized. Wheat, rye, barley, peas, and beans were raised.
There was much appropriation of common land by individual
owners by sale or force. Many farms were enclosed by fences or
hedges so that each holder could be independent of his
neighbors. Red and black currants, rhubarb, apricots, and
oranges were now grown. These independent farmers could sell wool
to clothiers, and butter, cheese, and meat to the towns. They
also often did smithwork and ironwork, making nails, horseshoes,
keys, locks, and agricultural implements to sell. A laborer
could earn 6d. a day in winter and 7d. a day in summer. Unfree
villeinage ceased on the royal estates. But most land was still
farmed in common and worked in strips without enclosure.
Windmills now had vanes to change the position of the sails when
the wind direction changed. Formerly, the position of the sails
was changed by manual labor. Prosperous traders and farmers who
owned their own land assumed local offices as established
members of the community.

The population of the nation was about five million. Population
expansion had allowed landlords to insist on shorter leases and
higher rents, instead of having to choose between accepting a
long lease and good rent or allowing their estates to pass out
of cultivation. 90% of the population lived in the countryside
and 5% in the London and 5% in the other towns. Over half the
people of the nation were on the margin of subsistence. Life
expectancy was about 40 years of age.

Most of London was confined within the city wall. There were
orchards and gardens both inside and outside the walls, and
fields outside. Flower gardens and nurseries came into
existence. No part of the city was more than a ten minute walk
to the fields. Some wealthy merchants had four story mansions or
country houses outside the city walls. Goldsmiths' Row was
replete with four story houses. A few wealthy merchants became
money-lenders for interest, despite the law to the contrary. The
mayor of London was typically a rich merchant prince. Each trade
occupied its own section of the town and every shop had its own
signboard, for instance, hat and cap sellers, cloth sellers,
grocers, butchers, cooks, taverns, and book-sellers. Many of the
London wards were associated with a craft, such as Candlewick
Ward, Bread St. Ward, Vintry Ward, and Cordwainer Ward. Some
wards were associated with their location in the city, such as
Bridge Ward, Tower Ward, Aldgate Ward, Queenhithe Ward, and
Billingsgate Ward. People dwelled at the back or on the second
floor of their shops. In the back yard, they grew vegetables
such as melons, carrots, turnips, cabbages, pumpkins, parsnips,
and cucumbers; herbs; and kept a pig. Hyde Park was the Queen's
hunting ground. London had a small zoo of ten animals, including
a lion, tiger, lynx, and wolf.

Life in London was lived in the open air in the streets. The
merchant transacted business agreements and the lawyer saw his
clients in the street or at certain pillars at St. Paul's
Church, where there was a market for all kinds of goods and
services. Some gentlemen had offices distant from their dwelling
houses such as attorneys, who had a good income from trade
disputes and claims to land, which often changed hands. Plays
and recreation also occurred in the streets, such as
performances by dancers, musicians, jugglers, clowns, tumblers,
magicians, and men who swallowed fire. The churches were
continuously open and used by trades and peddlers, including
tailors and letter-writers. Water carriers carried water in wood
vessels on a shoulder from the Thames River or its conduits to
the inhabitants three gallons at a time. Soldiers, adventurers,
physicians, apprentices, prostitutes, and cooks were all
distinguishable by their appearances. An ordinance required
apprentices to wear long blue gowns and white breeches with
stockings, with no ornamentation of silk, lace, gold or silver
and no jewelry. They could wear a meat knife, but not a sword or
dagger. Apprentices lived with their masters and worked from 6
or 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Some people knitted wool caps as they walked
to sell when finished. There were sections of town for
booksellers, butchers, brewers, hosiers, shoemakers, curriers,
cooks, poulters, bow makers, textwriters, pattenmakers, and horse
and oxen sellers. Large merchant companies had great halls for
trade, such as the mercers, grocers, drapers, fishmongers, and
goldsmiths. The other great guilds were the skinners, merchant
tailers, haberdashers, salters, ironmongers, vintners, and
clothworkers. Smaller guilds were those of the bakers, weavers,
fruiterers, dyers, Thames watermen and lightermen, carpenters,
joiners, turners, and parish clerks. The guilds insured quality
by inspecting goods for a fee. >From 1571, merchants could meet
at the Royal Exchange building for business purposes. It's great
bell rang at midday and at 6 p.m. Crime was rampant in the
streets and criminals were executed near to the crime scene.

Taverns served meals as well as ale. They were popular meeting
places for both men and women of all backgrounds to met their
friends. Two taverns in particular were popular with the
intelligentsia. Music was usually played in the background and
games were sometimes played. Beer made with hops and malt was
introduced and soon there were beer drinking contests.
Drunkenness became a problem.

The main thoroughfare in London was still the Thames River.
Nobles living on the river had their own boats and landings.
Also at the banks, merchants of all nations had landing places
where ships unloaded, warehouses, and cellars for goods and
merchandise. Swans swam in the clear bright water. Watermen rowed
people across the river for a fee. On the south bank of the river
were theaters, outlaws, cutpurses, prostitutes, and prisons. In
the summer, people ate supper outside in public. Refuse is still
thrown into the streets. At night, the gates of the city were
closed and citizens were expected to hang out lanterns. The
constable and his watchmen carried lanterns and patrolled the
streets asking anyone they saw why they were out so late at
night. There were a few horse-drawn coaches with unglazed
windows with curtains to keep out the weather.

As of old times, brokers approved by the Mayor and aldermen made
contracts with merchants concerning their wares. Some contracts
included holding wares as security. Some craftsmen and manual
workers extended this idea to used garments and household
articles, which they took as pawns, or security for money loaned.
This began pawn brokerage, which was lucrative. The problem was
that many of the items pawned had been stolen.

The Queen's Privy Council fixed wages and prices in London,
advised Justices of the Peace on wages elsewhere, and controlled
exports of grain to keep prices down and supplies ample. There
were labor strikes in some towns for higher wages after periods
of inflation. In 1591, London authorities rounded up the sturdy
vagabonds and set them to work cleaning out the city ditches for
4d. per day.

Most of the men in Elizabeth's court had attended a university,
such as the lawyer and writer Francis Bacon and the sea-fighter
and writer Walter Raleigh, who had a humble origin. Many wives
and daughters of Privy Councilors attended the Queen in her
privy chamber. Most of the knights or gentlemen of the royal
household were also members of Parliament or Justices of the
Peace for certain districts in the counties. The court did not
travel as much as in the past, but became associated with
London. Elizabeth took her entire court on summer visits to the
country houses of leading nobility and gentry.

Secular education and especially the profession of law was the
route for an able but poor person to rise to power, rather than
as formerly through military service or through the church.

The first stage of education was primary education, which was
devoted to learning to read and write in English. This was
carried out at endowed schools or at home by one's mother or a
tutor. The children of the gentry were usually taught in their
homes by private teachers of small classes. Many of the poor
became literate enough to read the Bible and to write letters.
However, most agricultural workers and laborers remained

The next stage of education was grammar [secondary] school. There
a student was taught rhetoric (e.g. poetry, history, precepts of
rhetoric, and classical oratory), some logic, and Latin and
Greek grammar. English grammar was learned through Latin grammar
and English style through translation from Latin. Literary
criticism was learned through rhetoric. There were disputations
on philosophical questions such as how many angels could sit on
a pin's point. The students sat in groups around the hall for
their lessons. The boys and girls were also taught hawking,
hunting and archery. The secondary student and the undergraduate
were tested for proficiency by written themes and oral
disputations, both in Latin. Grammar schools were headed by
schoolmasters. There were so many secondary schools financed by
merchants and guilds such as the Mercers and Fishmongers that
every incorporated town had at least one. The middle classes from
the squire to the petty tradesman were brought into contact with
the best Greek and Roman writers. A typical schoolday lasted
from 7:00 am to 5:00 PM. Flogging with a birch rod was used for
discipline. Some students learned this material from a tutor
rather than school.

The government of Oxford University, which had been Catholic, was
taken from the resident teachers and put into the hands of the
Vice-Chancellor, Doctors, Heads of Colleges, and Proctors. Then
Oxford became a hotbed of Puritanism. Cambridge already had a
strong reformed element from Erasmus' influence. Oxford
University and Cambridge University were incorporated to have a
perpetual existence for the virtuous education of youth and
maintenance of good literature. The Chancellors, masters, and
scholars had a common seal. Undergraduate students entered at age
16 and resided in rooms in colleges rather than in scattered
lodgings. Each undergraduate student had a tutor and those not
seeking a degree could devise his own course of study with his
tutor's permission. Many students who were working on the seven
year program for a Master's Degree went out of residence at
college after the four year's "bachelor" course. Students had
text books to read rather than simply listening to a teacher
read books to them. Oxford was authorized to and did acquire its
own printing press. Examination was still by disputation.
Students acted in Latin plays. If a student went to a tavern, he
could be flogged. For too elaborate clothing, he could be fined.
Fines for absence from class were imposed.

All students had to reside in a college or hall, subscribe to the
39 articles of the university, the Queen's supremacy, and the
prayer book. Meals were taken together in the college halls. The
universities were divided into three tables: a fellows' table of
earls, barons, gentlemen, and doctors; a second table of masters
of arts, bachelors, and eminent citizens, and a third table of
people of low condition. Professors, doctors, masters of arts
and students were all distinguishable by their gowns.

Undergraduate education was considered to be for the purpose of
good living as well as good learning. It was to affect the body,
mind, manners, sentiment, and business. The university
curriculum included Latin and Greek languages and was for four
years. The student spent at least one year on logic (syllogizing,
induction, deduction, the thirteen classical fallacies, and the
application of logic to other studies), at least one year on
rhetoric, and at least one year on philosophy. The latter
included physics, metaphysics, and ethics (domestic principles
of government, military history, diplomatic history, and public
principles of government), and mathematics (arithmetic, geometry,
algebra, astronomy, music, optics). There were lectures on Greek
and Latin literature, including Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero.

About 1564, the curriculum was changed to two terms of grammar,
four terms of rhetoric, five terms of dialectic (examining
ideas, opinions logically), three terms of arithmetic, and two
terms of music. There were now negative numbers, irrational
numbers, and imaginary numbers. Also available were astrology,
and alchemy, cultivation of gardens, and breeding of stock,
especially dogs and horses. Astronomy, geometry, natural and
moral philosophy, and metaphysics were necessary for a master's
degree. The university libraries of theological manuscripts in
Latin were supplemented with many non-religious books.

There were graduate studies in theology, medicine, music, and
law, which was a merging of civil and canon law together with
preparatory work for studying common law at the Inns of Court in

In London, legal training was given at the four Inns of Court.
Only young gentry were admitted there and many later became
members of Parliament or Justices of the Peace. It took about
seven years there to become a lawyer. Besides reading textbooks
in Latin, the students observed at court and did work for
practicing lawyers. They often also studied and attended
lectures on astronomy, geography, history, mathematics,
theology, music, navigation, foreign languages, and lectures on
anatomy and medicine sponsored by the College of Physicians. A
tour of the continent became a part of every gentleman's

Medical texts were Hippocrates and Galen. These viewed disease as
only part of the process of nature, without anything divine.
They stressed empiricism, experience, collections of facts,
evidences of the senses, and avoidance of philosophical
speculations. Galen's great remedies were proper diet, exercise,
massage, and bathing. He taught the importance of a good water
supply and good drainage. Greek medicinal doctrines were
assumed, such as preservations of the health of the body was
dependant on air, food, drink, movement and repose, sleeping and
waking, excretion and retention, and the passions. It was widely
known that sleep was restorative and that bad news or worry could
spoil one's digestion. An Italian book of 1507 showed that
post-mortem examinations could show cause of death by
gallstones, heart disease, thrombosis of the veins, or

Because physicians were allowed to dissect corpses, there were
anatomy textbooks and anatomy was related to surgery. The
compound microscope was invented about 1590. A visit by a doctor
cost 13s.4d. Melancholia, which made one always fearful and full
of dread, and mania, which made one think he could do
supernatural things, were considered to be different types of
madness from infirmities of the body. Barber-surgeons extracted
teeth and performed surgery. Barbers were allowed to do only
dentistry and bleeding. A College of Surgeons was founded.
Teachers of surgery used corpses of felons to teach anatomy. Even
the poor were buried in coffins.

All forms of English literature were now in print, except for
plays. In 1600 William Gelbert wrote a book on terrestrial
magnetism which founded the science of electricity. He
cultivated the method of experiment and of inductive reasoning
from observation. He expounded the idea of Nicolaus Copernicus of
Poland published in 1543 that the earth revolves around the sun
in a solar system. However, the prevailing belief was still that
the earth was at the center of the universe.

Many people kept diaries. Letter-writing was frequent at court.
Correctness of spelling was beginning to be developed. Printers
tended to standardize it. There was much reading of romances,
jest books, histories, plays, prayer collections, and
encyclopedias, as well as the Bible. In schools and gentry
households, favorite reading was Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queen"
about moral virtues and the faults and errors which beset them,
Erasmus' New Testament, "Paraphrases", "Colloquies", and
"Adages", Sir Thomas North's edition of Plutarch's "Lives of the
Noble Grecians and Romans", Elyot's "The Book Named the
Governor", and Hoby's translation of "The Courtier". At a more
popular level were Caxton's "The Golden Legend", Baldwin's
"Mirror for Magistrates", Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" about English
protestant who suffered at the stake, sensational stories and
pamphlets, printed sermons (including those of Switzerland's
Calvin), chronicles, travel books, almanacs, herbals, and
medical works. English fiction began and was read. There were
some books for children. Books were copywrited, although
non-gentlemen writers needed a patron. At the lowest level of
literacy were ballads describing recent events. Next to sermons,
the printing press was kept busiest with rhymed ballads about
current events. Printed broadsheets on political issues could be
distributed quickly. In London, news was brought to the Governor
of the News Staple, who classified it as authentic, aprocryphal,
barber's news, tailor's news, etc. and stamped it. Books were
also censored for matter against the state church. This was
carried out through the Stationers' Company. This company was
now, by charter, the official authority over the entire book
trade, with almost sole rights of printing (e.g. excluding
schools). It could burn other books and imprison their printers.

Travel books had maps, itineraries, and mileage between towns in
England and Wales according to a survey completed in 1579, about
which time the Queen had a postal system on the high roads for
official business. Non-government people used private post
horses. The gentry rode horses. Most people's mode of travel was
still walking. In 1564, the first canal was built with locks at

William Shakespeare, a glove-maker's son, wrote plays about
historical events and plays which portrayed various human
personalities and their interactions with each other. They were
enjoyed by all classes of people. His histories were especially
popular. The Queen and various earls each employed players and
actors, who went on tour as a troupe and performed on a round
open-air stage, with people standing around to watch. In London,
theaters such as the Globe were built specifically for the
performance of plays, which had been performed at inns. There
were costumes, but no sets. Ordinary admission was 2d. Before
being performed, a play had to be licensed by the Master of the
Revels to make sure that there was nothing detrimental to the
peace and public order. The common people still went to
morality plays, but also to plays in which historical personages
were portrayed, such as Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. Some
plays were on contemporary issues. Musicians played together as
orchestras. Music and singing was a popular pastime after
supper; everyone was expected to participate. Dancing was
popular with all classes. Gentlemen played cards, dice, chess,
billiards, tennis, and fenced and had games on horseback. Their
deer- hunting diminished as forests were cut down for agriculture
and the deer was viewed as an enemy eating crops. Falconry
diminished as hedges and enclosures displaced the broad expanses
of land. With enclosure there could be more innovation and more
efficiency. It was easier to prevent over-grazing and half-
starved animals as a result.

Country people had music, dancing, pantomime shows with masks,
riddles, wrestling, hurling, running, swimming, leap frog,
blindman's buff, shovelboard played with the hands, and football
between villages with the goal to get the ball into one's own
village. There were many tales involving fairies, witches,
devils, ghosts, evil spirits, angels, and monsters enjoyed by
adults as well as children. Many people were still
superstitious, believed in charms, curses, divination, omens,
fate, and advice from astrologers. The ghosts of the earth
walked the earth, usually because of some foul play to be
disclosed, wrong to be set right, to warn those dear to them of
peril, or to watch over hidden treasure. Fairies blessed homes,
rewarded minor virtues, and punished mild wrongdoing. When
fairies were unhappy, the weather was bad. There were parties
for children.

The merry guild-feast was no longer a feature of village life.
There were fewer holydays and festivals. The most prosperous
period of the laborer was closing. An agricultural laborer's
yearly wage was about 154s., but his cost of living, which now
included house rent, was about 160s. a year. In 1533, daily wages
in the summer for an agricultural laborer were about 4d. and for
an artisan 6d. In 1563 in the county of Rutland, daily wages for
laborers were 7d. in summer and 6d. in winter; and for artisans
were 9d. in summer and 8d. in winter.

There were endowed hospitals in London for the sick and infirm.
There were others for orphans, for derelict children, and for
the destitute. They worked at jobs in the hospital according to
their abilities. There was also a house of correction for
discipline of the idle and vicious by productive work.

In the towns, shop shutters were let down to form a counter.
Behide this the goods were made and/or stored. The towns held a
market once a week. Fairs occurred once or twice a year. At
given times in the towns, everyone was to throw buckets of water
onto the street to cleanse it. During epidemics in towns, there
was quarantine of those affected to stay in their houses unless
going out on business. Their houses were marked and they had to
carry a white rod when outside. The quarantine of a person
lasted for forty days. The straw in his house was burned and his
clothes treated. People who died had to be buried under six feet
of ground.

Communities were taxed for the upkeep and relief of the prisoners
in the jails in their communities.

Church services included a sermon and were in accordance with a
reformed prayer book and in English, as was the Bible. Communion
of participants replaced mass by priests. Elizabeth was not
doctrinaire in religious matters, but pragmatic. She always
looked for ways to accommodate all views on what religious
aspects to adopt or decline. Attendance at state church services
on Sunday mornings and evenings and Holydays was enforced by a
fine of 12d. imposed by the church wardens. People could hold
what religious beliefs they would, even atheism, as long as they
maintained an outward conformity. For instance, babies were to be
baptized before they were one month old or the parents would be

There was difficulty persuading educated and moral men to be
ministers. The Bible was read at home and familiar to everyone.
This led to the growth of the Puritan movement. The Puritans
complained that the church exerted insufficient control over the
morals of the congregation. They thought that ministers and lay
elders of each parish should regulate religious affairs and that
the bishops should be reduced to an equality with the rest of
the clergy. The office of archbishop should be eliminated and
the head of state should not necessarily be governor of the
church. Their ideas of morality were very strict and even plays
were though to be immoral. The puritan movement included William
Brewster, an assistant to a court official who was disciplined
for delivering, upon pressure from the council, the Queen's
signed execution order for Mary of Scotland after the Queen had
told him to hold it until she directed otherwise.

The debased coinage was replaced by a recoinage of newly minted
coins with a true silver weight.

Goldsmiths, who also worked silver, often acted as guardians of
clients' wealth. They began to borrow at interest at one rate in
order to lend out to traders at a higher rate. This began

Patents were begun to encourage the new merchant lords to develop
local manufactures or to expand import and export trade. Patents
were for a new manufacture or an improved older one and
determined the wages of its trades. There was chartering of
merchant companies and granting of exclusive rights to new
industries as monopolies. Some monopolies or licenses were
patents or copyrights. Others established trading companies for
trade to certain foreign lands and supporting consular
services. But there were two detrimental effects: monopoly was a
severe burden to the middle and poorer classes, and the power of
patent holder to arrest and imprison persons charged with
infringing upon their rights was extended to any disliked

There was sharing of stock of companies, usually by merchants of
the same type of goods. There were many stockholders of the East
India Company, chartered in 1600 to trade there. New
incorporated companies were associations of employers and often
included a number of trades, instead of the old guilds which were
associations of actual workers. Town government was often
controlled by a few merchant wholesalers. The entire trade of a
town might be controlled by its drapers or by a company of the
Merchant Adventurers. The charter of the latter as of 1564
allowed a common seal, perpetual existence, liberty to purchase
lands, and liberty to exercise their government in any part of
the nation. There were policies of insurance given by groups of
people for losses of ships and their goods.

There were monopolies on cloth, tin, starch, fish, oil, vinegar,
and salt. New companies were incorporated for many trades, the
ostensible reason being the supervision of the quality of the
wares produced in that trade. (Shoemakers, haberdashers,
saddlers, and curriers exercised close supervision over these
wares.) They paid heavily for their patents or charters.

There was no sharp line between craftsman and shopkeeper or
between shopkeeper and wholesale merchant. In London, an
enterprising citizen could pass freely from one occupation to
another. Borrowing money for a new enterprise was common.
Industrial suburbs grew up around London and some towns became
known as specialists in certain industries. The building crafts
in the towns often joined together into one company, e.g.
wrights, carpenters, slaters, and sawyers, or joiners, turners,
carvers, bricklayers, tilers, wallers, plasterers, and paviors.
These companies included small contractors, independent masters,
and journeymen. The master craftsman often was a tradesman as
well, who supplied timber, bricks, or lime for the building
being constructed. The company of painters was chartered with a
provision prohibiting painting by persons not apprenticed for
seven years.

The prosperous merchants began to form a capitalistic class as
capitalism grew. Competition for renting farm land, previously
unknown, caused these rents to rise. The price of wheat rose to
an average of 14s. per quarter, thereby encouraging tillage once
more. There was steady inflation.

The breed of horses and cattle was improved. There were
specializations such as the hunting horse and the coach horse.
Dogs had been bred into various types of hounds for hunting,
water and land spaniels for falconry, and other dogs as house
dogs or toy dogs. There were no longer any wild boar or wild
cattle. The turkey joined the cocks, hens, geese, ducks,
pigeons, and peacocks in the farmyard. Manure and dressings were
used to better effect on the soil.

There are locks and canals as well as rivers. At London Bridge,
water-wheels and pumps are installed. There are now four royal
postal routes from London to various corners of the nation.
Horses are posted along the way for the mail- deliverer's use.
However, private mail still goes by packman or common carrier.
There were compasses with a bearing dial on a circular plate with
degrees up to 360 noted. The nation's inland trade developed a
lot. There were many more wayfaring traders operating from town
inns. There were new industries such as glassware, iron,
brasswares, alum and coppers, gunpowder, paper, coal, and sugar.
Coal was used for fuel as well as wood, which was becoming
scarce. Small metal goods, especially cutlery, was made, as well
as nails, bolts, hinges, locks, ploughing and harrowing
equipment, rakes, pitch forks, shovels, spades, and sickles.
Lead was used for windows and roofs. Copper and brass were used
to make pots and pans. Pewter was used for plates drinking
vessels, and candlesticks. Iron was used for fire-backs, pots,
and boilers. Also in use was canvas, lead, and rice. Competition
was the mainspring of trade and therefore of town life.

Parliament enacted laws and voted taxes. The Queen, Lords, and
Commons cooperated together. There was little dissension or
debating. There were many bills concerning personal, local, or
sectional interests, but priority for consideration was given to
public measures. The knights in the commons were almost
invariably from the county's leading families and chosen by
consensus in the county court. The commons gradually won for its
members freedom from arrest without its permission and the
right of punishing and expelling members for crimes committed.
Tax on land remained at 10% of its estimated yearly income. The
Queen deferred to the church convocation to define Christian
faith and religion, thus separating church and state functions.

The Treasury sought to keep a balanced budget by selling royal
land and keeping Crown expenditures down. The Crown carried a
slight debt incurred before the Queen's accession.

After exhausting every other alternative, the Queen agreed on the
execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, for being involved in a plot
to assassinate her and claim the throne of England.

Francis Drake sailed around the world from 1577 to 1580. Walter
Ralegh made an expedition to North America in 1584 and named
Virginia in honor of the Queen, who was a virgin. Drake and
Ralegh plundered Spanish ships for American gold and silver,
much of which was used to pay for the war with Spain, which
planned to invade England, even after the unsuccessful attempt
by the Spanish Armada in 1588. The two hundred English ships
were built to sink other ships rather than to board and capture
them. The English guns outranged the Spanish guns. So the
smaller English ships had been able to get close enough to the
big Spanish troop-transport galleons to shoot them up without
being fired upon. The direction of the wind forced the Spanish
galleons northward, where most of them were destroyed by storms.
The English seamen had been arbitrarily pressed into this

- The Law -

Although estate tails (estates descendible only to the heirs of
the body of the original feofee) by law could not be sold or
given away, this was circumvented by use of a straw man. In
collaboration with the possessor of the property, this straw man
sued the possessor asserting that the property had been
wrongfully taken from the straw man. The possessor pleaded that
the crier of the court who had warranted it should be called to
defend the action. He failed to appear until after judgment had
been given to the straw man. Then the straw man conveyed it to
the possessor or his nominee in fee simple.

Wearing of velvet or embroidery is restricted to those with an
income over 40,000s. The wearing of satin or silk is restricted
to those with an income over 20,000s.

No one shall make false linen by stretching it and adding little
pieces of wood, which is so weak that it comes apart after five

Timber shall not be felled to make logs for fires for the making
of iron.

No one may take small fish to feed to dogs and pigs. Only nets
with mesh leaving three inches spaces may be used to catch fish.

No attainder shall result in the forfeiture of dower by the
offender's wife nor disinheritance of his heirs.

The following statute of artificers regulated labor for the next
two centuries:

No master or mistress may employ a servant for a term less than
one year in the crafts of clothiers, woolen cloth weavers,
tuckers, fullers, clothworkers, sheermen, dyers, hosiers,
tailors, shoemakers, tanners pewterers, bakers, brewers,
glove-makers, cutlers, smith, farriers, curriers, saddlers,
spurriers, turners, cappers, hatmakers, feltmakers, bow-makers,
arrow-makers, arrow-head- makers, butchers, cooks, or millers, so
that agriculture will be advanced and idleness diminished.
Also, every craftsman unmarried or under age 30 who is not
working must accept employment by any person needing the craft
work. Also, any common person between 12 and 60 who is not
working must accept employment in agriculture. And, unmarried
women between 12 and 40 may be required by town officials to
work by the year, the week, or day for wages they determine.

All artificers and laborers hired by the day or week shall work
from 5 am to 7 PM. All artificers must labor at agriculture at
haytime and harvest to avoid the loss of grain or hay. Every
householder who raises crops may receive as an apprentice a
child between 10 and 18 to serve in agriculture until he is age
21. A householder in a town may receive a child as an apprentice
for 7 years, but merchants may only take as apprentices children
of parents with 40s. freehold. (This was designed to inhibit
migration to the towns.)

No one may be a craftsman until he has served seven years as an
apprentice. These artificers may have children as apprentices:
smith, wheelmaker, ploughmaker, millmaker, miller, carpenter,
rough mason, plasterer, a timber sawer, an ore burner, a lime
burner, brickmaker, bricklayer, tilemaker, tiler, layer of slate
roofs, layer of wood shingle roofs, layer of straw roofs, cooper,
earthen potter, linen weaver, housewife who weaves wool for sale
or for household use.

Fish, but no meat, may be eaten on Wednesdays so that there will
be more fishermen and mariners and repair of ports. (This was
done because fishing had declined since the dissolution of the
monasteries. Eating fish instead of meat in Lent in the
springtime remained a tradition.)

For repairing of highways, the supervisors may take the rubbish
or smallest stones of any quarry along the road in their

Embezzlement or theft by a servant of his master's goods of 40s.
or more is a felony.

No one shall forge a deed of land, charter, sealed writing, court
roll or will.

No one shall libel or slander so as to cause a rebellion.

Cut-purses and pick-purses shall not have benefit of clergy.

A debtor may not engage in a fraudulent collusion to sell his
land and goods in order to avoid his creditors.

A person robbing a house of 5s. by day when no one is there shall
not have benefit of clergy, because too many poor persons who
cannot hire a servant to look after their house when they go to
work have been robbed.

The price of barrels shall be set by mayors of the towns where
they are sold.

No man under the degree of knight may wear a hat or cap of
velvet. Caps may not be made of felt, but only knit wool. Only
hats may be made of felt. This is to assist the craft of making
wool caps.

Every person over 6 years of age shall wear a wool knitted cap
made by the cappers on Sundays, except maidens, ladies,
gentlewomen, noble persons, and every lord, knight, and
gentlemen with 2,667s. of land, since the practice of not
wearing caps has damaged the capping industry. This employed
cappers and poor people they had employed and the decrepit and
lame as carders, spinners, knitters, parters, forses, thickers,
dressers, dyers, battelers, shearers, pressers, edgers, liners,
and bandmakers.

Rugs shall weigh 44 pounds at least and be 35 yards at least in
length and at most 3/4 yard wide.

The incorporated company of ship masters may erect beacons and
marks on the seashores and hills above, because certain steeples
and other marks used for navigation have fallen down and ships
therefore have been lost in the sea.

There shall be one sheriff per county, because now there are
enough able men to supply one per county.

Trials of noblemen for treason shall be by their peers.

A native or denizen merchant in wholesale or retail goods who
leaves the nation to defraud his creditors shall be declared a
bankrupt. The Chancellor may conduct an investigation to
ascertain his land, house, and goods, no matter who may hold
them. They shall be appraised and sold to satisfy his debts.

Loan contracts for money lent may not be for more than 200s. for
each 2000s. yearly. All loans of money or forbearing of money in
sales of goods for less than this shall be punishable by forfeit
of the interest only.

 No cattle may be put in any enclosed woods that have been
growing less than five years. At the end of five years growth,
calves may be put in. At the end of six years growth, cattle may
be put in.

The mother and reputed father of any bastard who has been left to
be kept at the parish where born must pay weekly for the upkeep
and relief of such child, so that the true aged and disabled of
the parish get their relief and to punish the lewd life.

No master at a university may lease any land unless 1/3 of it is
retained for crop-raising to supply the colleges and halls for
food for their scholars.

Persons with 100s. in goods or 40s. in lands shall find two able
men in their parish community to repair the highways yearly.

Landowners of Oxford shall be taxed for the repair of the highway
and bridge there.

Woods around London shall not be felled to be converted to coals
for iron-works because London needs the wood to make buildings
and for fire-places.

Every melter and maker of wax from honeycombs shall put his mark
on every piece of his wax to be sold. Wrought wax such as in
lights, staff-torches, red wax or sealing wax, book candles, or
searing candles shall bear its maker's mark. All barrels of
honey shall bear the mark of the honeymaker.

Wool cloth, cotton cloth, flannel cloth, hose-yarn, hats, and
caps shall be dyed black only with dye from the woad plant and
not with any false black dye.

No one shall take or kill any pheasants with nets or devices at
nighttime because such have become scarce.

Lands, tenements, goods and chattels of accountants teller, or
receiver who are in debt may be obtained by court order to
satisfy the debt by garnishing the heir of the debtor after the
heir has reached 21 and for the 8 years next ensuing.

Fraudulent and secret conveyances made to retain the use of one's
land when one sells the land to a bona fide purchaser for value
in fee simple, fee tail, for life, for lives, or for years are

No new iron mills or furnaces for making or working of any iron
or iron metal shall be established in the country around London
and the owners of carriages of coals, mines and iron which have
impaired or destroyed the highways shall also carry coal ashes,
gravel, or stone to repair these highways or else make a payment
of 2s.6d. for each cart load not carried.

No one shall bribe an elector to vote for a certain person for
fellow, scholar, or officer of a college, school, or hall or
hospital so that the fittest persons will be elected, though
lacking in money or friends, and learning will therefore be

Cottage and dwelling houses for workmen or laborers in mineral
works, coal mines, or quarries of stone or slate for the making
of brick, tile, lime, or coals shall be built only within a mile
from such works. Dwelling houses beyond this must be supported
by four acres of land to be continually occupied and manured as
long as the dwelling house is inhabited or forfeit 40s. per month
to the Queen. Cottages and dwelling houses for sailors or
laborers working on ships for the sea shall be built only within
a mile of the sea. A cottage may be built in a forest or park
for a game-keeper of the deer. A cottage may be built for a
herd-man or shepherd for the keeping of cattle or sheep of the
town. A cottage may be built for a poor, lame, sick, aged, or
disabled person on waste or common land. More families than one
may not be placed in one cottage or dwelling house.

A vagabond or mighty strong beggar [able to work] shall be

Any person with land in fee-simple may establish a hospital,
abiding place, or house of correction to have continuance
forever as a corporation for the sustenance and relief of the
maimed, poor, or disabled people as to set the poor to work. The
net income shall not exceed 40,000s. yearly.

Troops of vagabonds with weapons in the highways who pretend to
be soldiers or mariners have committed robberies and murders. So
all vagabonds shall settle down in some service or labor or

Pontage [toll for upkeep and repair of bridges] shall be taken at
certain bridges: carts 2d., horse and pack 1d., a flock of sheep

Crown officials such as treasurers, receivers, accountants, and
revenue collectors shall not embezzle Crown funds and shall be
personally liable for arrears.

Churchwardens of every parish shall oversee the poor in their
parish. They shall, with consent of the Justices of the Peace,
set to work children whose parents cannot maintain them and also
set to work married or unmarried persons who have no trade and
no means to maintain themselves. Churchwardens shall tax every
inhabitant, including parson and vicar and every occupier of land
and houses as they shall think fit. There will be a convenient
stock of flax, hemp, wool, thread, iron and other necessary ware
and stuff to set the poor on work. There will be competent sums
of money for the relief of the lame, impotent, old, blind, and
others not able to work, and also for the putting out of children
to be apprentices. Child apprentices may be bound until 21 years
of age or until time of marriage. They shall account to the
Justices of the Peace for all money received and paid. The
penalty for absence or neglect is 20s. If any parish cannot
raise sufficient funds, the Justices of the Peace may tax other
nearby parishes to pay, and then the hundred, and then the
county. Grandparents, parents, and children of every poor, old,
blind, lame, or impotent person not able to work, being of
sufficient ability, shall at their own charge, relieve and
maintain every such poor person in that manner and according to
that rate as Justices of the Peace of that county determine, or
forfeit 20s. per month. Two Justices of the Peace may commit to
jail or house of correction persons refusing to work and
disobedient churchwardens and overseers. The overseers may, with
the consent of the lord of the manor, build houses on common or
waste land for the poor at the expense of the parish, in which
they may place more than one family in each houses.

Every parish shall pay weekly 2-10d. toward the relief of sick,
hurt, and maimed soldiers and mariners. Counties with more than
fifty parishes need pay only 2- 6d. The county treasurer shall
keep registers and accounts. Soldiers begging shall lose their
pension and shall be adjudged a common rogue or vagabond subject
to imprisonment and punishment.

Defendants may not petition to remove a case to the Westminster
courts after a jury is selected because such has resulted in
unnecessary expense to plaintiffs and delay for defendants in
which they suborn perjury by obtaining witnesses to perjure

Sheriffs summoning defendants without a writ shall pay 200s. and
damages to the defendant, and 400s. to the King.

Persons stealing crops from lands or fruit from trees shall be

Since administrators of goods of people dying intestate who fail
to pay the creditors of the deceased often can't pay the debts
from their own money, the people (who are not creditors)
receiving the goods shall pay the creditors.

Persons forcibly taking others across county lines to hold them
for ransom and those taking or giving blackmail money and those
who burn barns or stacks of grain shall be declared felons and
shall suffer death, without any benefit of clergy or sanctuary.

A proclamation in 1601 reformed the hated monopolies.

No bishop may lease land for more than twenty-one years in or
three lives.

No bishop may alienate any possession of their sees to the crown.
Such are void.

Stewards of leet and baron courts may no longer receive, in their
own names, profits of the court over 12d. since they have vexed
subjects with grievous fines and amercements so that profits of
justice have grown much.

Incorrigible and dangerous rogues shall be branded with an "R"
mark on the left shoulder and be put to labor, because
banishment did not work as they came back undetected. If one is
caught again begging, he shall be deemed a felon.

Benefit of clergy may not be had for stabbing a person who has no
weapon drawn, if he dies within six months.

Any innkeeper, victualler, or alehouse keeper who allows drinking
by persons other than those invited by a traveler who
accompanies him during his necessary abode there and other than
laborers and handicraftsmen in towns upon the usual working days
for one hour at dinner time to take their diet in an alehouse and
other than laborers and workmen following their work to any given
town to sojourn, lodge, or victual in any inn, alehouse or
victuallinge house shall forfeit 10s. for each offense. This is
because the use of inns, alehouses, and victuallinge houses was
intended for relief and lodgings of travelling people and people
not able to provide their own victuals, but not for entertainment
and harboring of lewd and idle people who become drunk.

If a person marries a second time while the first spouse is still
living, it shall be a felony and thus punishable by death.

Watermen transporting people on the Thames River shall have
served as apprentice to a waterman for five years or have been
the son of a waterman. This is to prevent the loss of lives and
goods by inexperienced watermen.

No one may make any hat unless he has served as apprentice for at
least seven years. This is to prevent false and deceitful
hat-making by unskillful persons.

Spices and drugs, including pepper, cloves, mace, nutmeg,
cinnamon, ginger, almonds, and dates, which have usually been
garbled shall be garbled, cleaned, sorted, and sealed by the
Garbler before sale. This is to prevent mingled, corrupt, and
unclean spices and drugs from being sold.

Plasterers shall cease painting because it has intruded upon the
livelihoods of painters who have been apprenticed as such.

Pawn brokers accepting stolen goods shall forfeit twice their
value to the owner from whom stolen.

No butcher may cut any hide or any ox, bull, steer, or cow so
that it is impaired or may kill any calf under five weeks old.
No butcher may be a tanner. No one may be a tanner unless
apprenticed as such for seven years or the son or wife of a
tanner who has tanned for four years or a son or daughter of a
tanner who inherits his tanhouse. Tanners may not be shoemakers,
curriers, butchers, or leatherworkers. Only tanners may buy raw
hides. Only leatherworkers may buy leather. Only sufficiently
strong and substantial leather may be used for sole- leather.
Curriers may not be tanners. Curriers may not refuse to curry
leather. London searchers shall inspect leather, seal and mark
that which is sufficient, and seize any that is insufficiently
tanned, curried, wrought, or used.

Fishermen and their guides may continue to use the coastland for
their fishing activities despite the trespass to landowners.

Since sails for ships in recent years have been made in the realm
instead of imported, none shall make such cloth unless he has
been apprenticed in such or brought up in the trade for seven
years. This is to stop the badness of such cloth.

Any person killing any pheasant, partridge, dove, pigeon, duck or
the like with any gun, crossbow, stonebow, or longbow, or with
dogs and nets or snares, or taking the eggs of such from their
nests, or tracing or taking hares in the snow shall be
imprisoned for three months unless he pays 20s. per head or,
after one month's imprisonment, have two sureties bound for
400s. This is because the past penalty of payment hasn't
deterred offenders, who frequently cannot pay.

Persons affected by the plague may not leave their houses or be
deemed felons and suffer death. This is to avoid further
infection. The towns may tax their inhabitants for the relief of
infected persons.

Tonnage [tax per ton] and poundage [tax per pound] on goods
exported and imported shall be taken to provide safeguard of the
seas for such goods.

Judicial Procedure

Jurors shall be selected from those people who have at least 80s.
annual income instead of 40s. because sheriffs have been taking
bribes by the most able and sufficient freeholders to be spared
at home and the poorer and simpler people, who are least able to
discern the causes in question, and most unable to bear the
charges of appearance and attendance in such cases have been the

Defendants sued or informed against upon penal statutes may
appear by attorney so that they may avoid the inconvenience of
traveling a long distance to attend and put to bail.

No only sheriffs, but their employees who impanel juries or
execute process in the courts shall take an oath of office.

A hundred shall answer for any robbery therein only if there has
been negligence or fault in pursuit of the robber after a hue
and cry is made because the past law has been too harsh and
required payment for offenses from people unable to pay who have
done everything reasonable to catch the robber.

The Star Chamber became the central criminal court after 1560,
and punished perjury, corruption, malfeasance throughout the
legal system such as jury corruption and judicial bribery,
rioting, slander, and libel. Punishments were imprisonment,
fines, the pillory, ear-cropping, whipping, but not death. This
court interrogated the accused, with torture is necessary, and
heard witnesses in camera [not in the presence of the accused].

The court of High Commission took over criminal cases formerly
heard by the church courts.

Suits on titles to land were restricted to the common law courts
and no longer to be heard in the Star Chamber, Chancery Court,
or in the Court of Requests (equity for poor people).

The Queen's Privy Council frequently issued orders to Justices of
the Peace, for instance to investigate riots and crimes, to
enforce the statutes against vagrancy and illegal games, to
regulate alehouses, to ensure that butchers, innkeepers, and
victuallers did not sell meat on fish days, and to gather
information needed from the counties.

The Judges of Assize rode on circuit twice a year to enforce the
criminal law and reported their assessment of the work of the
Justices of the Peace back to the Privy Council. Accused people
could wait for years in jail before their case was heard.

The Privy Council investigated sedition and treason, security of
the regime, major economic offenses, international problems,
civil commotion, officials abusing their positions, and persons
perverting the course of justice. The formal trials of these
offenses would be held elsewhere.

The duty to hear and determine felonies was taken from Justices
of the Peace by 1590. The Judges of Assize did this work.
Felonies included breach of prison, hunting by night with
painted faces, taking horses to Scotland, stealing of hawks'
eggs, stealing cattle, highway robbery, robbing on the sea,
robbing houses, letting out of ponds, cutting of purses,
deer-stealing at night, conjuring and witchcraft, diminution of
coin, counterfeiting of coins, and impenitent roguery and
idleness. The penalty was beheading.

The Justices of the Peace decided misdemeanors such as abduction
of heiresses, illegal entry, petty thievery, damage to crops,
fence-breaking, brawling, personal feuds, drunken pranks,
swearing, profanation of the Sabbath, alehouse nuisances,
drunkenness, perjury, and malfeasance by officials. They held
petty and quarter sessions. Many people were hanged for the
felony of theft over 12d. Some bold men accused of felony
refused to plead so that they could not be tried and found
guilty. They died of heavy weights being placed on their bodies.
But then their property could go to their heirs.

The Justices of the Peace had administrative duties in control of
vagrancy, upkeep of roads and bridges, and arbitration of
lawsuits referred to them by courts. They listed the poor in
each parish community, assessed rates for their maintenance, and
appointed overseers to administer the welfare system, deploying
surplus funds to provide houses of correction for vagrants. Raw
materials such as wool, flax, hemp, and iron were bought upon
which the able-bodied unemployed could be set to work at the
parochial level. They determined wages in their districts, with
no statutory ceiling on them, for all laborers, weavers,
spinsters, workmen and workwomen working by the day, week,
month, or year, or taking any work at any person's hand,. There
were about 50 Justices of the Peace per county. All were unpaid.
They performed these duties for the next 200 years.

The Court of Queen's Bench and Exchequer indirectly expanded
their jurisdiction to include suits between citizens, formerly
heard only the Court of Common Pleas or Chancery. Chancery
interrogated defendants. Chancery often issued injunctions
against suits in the common law courts. Trial by battle was very

Pleadings had to be in writing and oral testimony was given by
sworn witnesses. Case decisions are in books compiled by various
reporters who sit in on court hearings rather than in year

In the common law courts, the action of assumpsit for enforcing
certain promises is used more than the action of debt in those
cases where there is a debt based on an agreement. The essential
nature of "consideration" in contract is evolving from the
procedural requirements for the action of assumpsit.
Consideration may consist in mutual promises, a precedent debt,
or a detriment incurred by one who has simultaneously received a
promise related to the detrimental action. Consideration must be
something, an act, or forbearance of an act that is of value.
For instance, forbearance to sue a worthless claim is not

The abstract concept of contract as an agreement between two
parties which is supported by consideration is developing as the
number of various agreements that are court enforceable expands.
For instance the word "consideration" is used in Hayward's Case
in 1595 in the Court of Wards on the construction of a deed. Sir
Rowland Hayward was seised in fee of the Doddington manor and
other lands and tenements, whereof part was in demesne, part in
lease for years with rents reserved, and part in copyhold, by
indenture, "in consideration of a certain sum of money" paid to
him by Richard Warren and others, to whom he demised, granted,
bargained and sold the said manor, lands and tenements, and the
reversions and remainders of them, with all the rents reserved
upon any demise, to have and to hold to them and their assigns,
presently after the decease of Sir Rowland, for the term of 17
years. It was held that the grantees could elect to take by
bargain and sale or by demise, each of which had different

In another case, A delivered 400s. to B to the use of C, a woman,
to be delivered to her on the day of her marriage. Before this
day, A countermanded it, and called home the money. It was held
in the Chancery Court that C could not recover because "there is
no consideration why she should have it".

In a case concerning a deed, A sold land to B for 400s., with
confidence, that it would be to the use of A. This bargain "hath
a consideration in itself ... and such a consideration is an
indenture of bargain and sale". It was held that the transaction
was not examinable except for fraud and that A was therefore

A court reporter at the King's Bench formulated two principles on
consideration of the case of Wilkes against Leuson as: "The heir
is estopped from falsifying the consideration acknowledged in
the deed of feoffment of his ancestor. Where a tenant in capite
made a feoffment without consideration, but falsely alleged one
in the deed on an office finding his dying seised, the master of
the wards cannot remove the feoffees on examining into the
consideration, and retain the land until &c. and though the heir
tended, still if he do not prosecute his livery, the Queen must
admit the feoffees to their traverse, and to have the farm, &c."
The court reporter summarized this case as follows: Wilkes, who
was merchant of the staple, who died in February last past, made
a feoffment in the August before his death to one Leuson, a
knight, and his brother, and another, of the manor of Hodnel in
the county of Warwick; and the deed,(seen) for seven thousand
pounds [140,000s.] to him paid by the feoffees, of which sum he
made acquittance in the same deed (although in fact and in truth
not a half-penny was paid), gave, granted, and confirmed &c
"habendum eir et hoeredibus suis in perpetuum, ad proprium opus
et usum ipsorum A. B. et C. in perpetuum," and not "hoeredum
suorum," together with a clause of warranty to them, their heirs
and assigns, in forma proedicta: and notwithstanding this
feoffment he occupied the land with sheep, and took other
profits during his life; and afterwards his death was found on a
diem clausit extremum by office, that he died seised of the said
manor in fee, and one I. Wilkes his brother of full age found his
next heir, and a tenure in capite found, and now within the
three months the said feoffees sued in the court of wards to be
admitted to their traverse, and also to have the amnor in farm
until &c. And although the said I. Wilkes the brother had
tendered a livery, yet he had not hitherto prosecuted it, but for
cause had discontinued. And whether now the master of the
wards at his discretion could remove the feoffees by injunction
out of possession upon examination of the said consideration of
the said feoffment which was false, and none such in truth, and
retain it in the hands of the Queen donec et quousque &c. was a
great question. And by the opinion of the learned counsel of
that court he cannot do it, but the Queen is bound in justice to
give livery to him who is found heir by the office, or if he
will not proceed with that, to grant to the tenderers the
traverse, and to have the farm, &c. the request above mentioned.
And this by the statutes ... And note, that no averment can be
allowed to the heir, that the said consideration was false
against the deed and acknowledgment of his ancestor, for that
would be to admit an inconvenience. And note the limitation of
the use above, for divers doubted whether the feoffees shall
have a fee-simple in the sue, because the use is not expressed,
except only "to themselves (by their names) for ever;" but if
those words had been wanting, it would have been clear enough
that the consideration of seven thousand pounds had been
sufficient, &c. for the law intends a sufficient consideration
by reason of the said sum; but when the use is expressed
otherwise by the party himself, it is otherwise. And also the
warranty in the deed was "to them, their heirs, and assigns, in
form aforesaid," which is a declaration of the intent of Wilkes,
that the feoffees shall not have the use in fee simple; and it
may be that the use, during their three lives, is worth seven
thousand pounds, and more &c. And suppose that the feoffment had
been "to have to them and their heirs to the proper use and
behoof of them the feoffees for the term of their lives for
ever for seven thousand pounds," would they have any other
estate than for the term of their lives in the use? I believe
not; and so in the other case.

A last example of a case concerning consideration is that of
Assaby and Others against Lady Anne Manners and Others. The
court reporter characterized the principle of the case as: "A.
in consideration of his daughter's marriage covenants to stand
seised to his own use for life, and that at his death she and
her husband shall have the land in tail, and that all persons
should stand seised to those uses, and also for further
assurance. After the marriage he bargains and sell with fine and
recovery to one with full notice of the covenants and use; this
is of no avail, but on the death of A. the daughter and her
husband may enter." The court reporter summarized this case as
follows: A. was seised of land in fee, and in consideration of a
marriage to be had between his daughter and heir apparent, and
B. son and heir apparent of C. he covenanted and agreed by
indenture with C. that he himself would have, hold, and retain
the land to himself, and the profits of during his life, and
that after his decease the said son and daughter should have the
land to them and to the heirs of their two bodies lawfully
begotten, and that all persons then or afterwards seised of the
land should stand and be seised immediately after the marriage
solemnized to the use of the said A. for the term of his life,
and after his death to the use of the said son and daughter in
tail as above, and covenanted further to make an assurance of
the land before a certain day accordingly &c. and then the
marriage took effect; and afterwards A. bargained and sold the
land for two hundred marks [2,667s.](of which not a penny is
paid) to a stranger, who had notice of the first agreements,
covenants, and use, and enfeoffed divers persons to this last
use, against whom a common recovery was had to his last use; and
also A. levied a fine to the recoverers before any execution
had, and notwithstanding all these things A. continued
possession in taking the profits during his life; and afterwards
died; and the son and daughter entered, and made a feoffment to
their first use. And all this matter was found in assize by
Assaby and others against Lady Anne Manners and others. And
judgment was given that the entry and feoffment were good and
lawful, and the use changed by the first indenture and agreement.
Yet error was alleged. The judgment in the assize is

The famous Shelley's Case stands for the principle that where in
any instrument an estate for life is given to the ancestor, and
afterwards by the same instrument, the inheritance is limited
whether mediately, or immediately, to his heirs, or heirs of his
body, as a class to take in succession as heirs to him, the word
"heirs" is a word of limitation, and the ancestor takes the whole
estate. For example, where property goes to A for life and the
remainder goes to A's heirs, A's life estate and the remainder
merge into a fee in A.

Edward Shelley was a tenant in tail general. He had two sons. The
older son predeceased his father, leaving a daughter and his
wife pregnant with a son. Edward had a common recovery (the
premises being in lease for years) to the use of himself for
term of his life, after his decease to the use of the male heirs
of his body, and of the male heirs of the body of such heirs,
remainder over. After judgment and the awarding of the writ of
seisin, but before its execution, Edward died. After his death,
and before the birth of his older son's son, the writ of seisin
was executed. The younger son entered the land and leased it to a
third party. Afterwards, the son of the older son was born. He
entered the land and ejected the third party. It was held that
the younger son had taken quasi by descent until the birth of
the older son's son. The entry by the older son's son was
lawful. The third party was lawfully ejected. (Shelley's Case,
King's Bench, 1581, English Reports - Full Reprint, Vol. 76,
Page 206.)

Chapter 14: Epilogue

William Brewster and William Bradford and other puritans and
pilgrims sailed on ships such as the Mayflower to found a colony
in North America in 1607. England developed a commonwealth of
countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, and India.

In the time period after 1600, there developed free trade,
democracy, political parties, secret ballots, policemen, Francis
Bacon's advocating of induction in science, Periodic Chart of
chemical elements, calculus and differential equations, college
degrees in biology, chemistry, and physics, Isaac Newton's
theory of gravity, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, the
experimental method, computers, decoding of the DNA sequence,
Charles Darwin's evolution, Louis Pasteur's germ theory of
disease, Galileo's telescope, Hubble telescope, Big Bang Theory,
antibiotics to cure and surgery to replace body parts, quantum
theory, cold water in pipes to homes, central heating, apartment
high rises, business skyscrapers, electricity, electric lights,
electric sewing machines, industrial revolution factories, labor
strikes, cars, tractors, ice boxes and refrigerators,
telephones, central heating with radiators, heated water in taps,
hot water heaters by gas, gas ovens, humidifiers, upholstered
couches and chairs, canned food, zippers, velcro, trains, ships
by steam and then motors, wall-to-wall carpeting, microscope,
microwave ovens, umbrellas, contraceptive pill, popular
elections, airplanes, photography, record players, potatoes,
corn, chocolate, frozen food, radio, television, plastics, ready
to wear clothes, political parties, submarines, statistics,
economics, multinational corporations, weather forecasting,
braille, airplanes, space ship to moon, banks, annuities,
factory assembly lines, washing machines, dishwashers, sewing
machine, microwave ovens, copier machines, DNA evidence, daily
newspapers, nuclear bomb and nuclear energy, guided missiles,
stock market, quartz watches, museums, bicycles, popular
election, frozen sperm for artificial insemination, investment
advice, retirement planning, pensions, amusement parks, catelogue
buying, labor contracts, dictionaries, childrens' summer camps,
stocks and bonds, teenage culture, concrete, synthetic
materials, typewriters, cardboard boxes, advertising, invitro
fertilization, factory assembly line, gene-mapping, animal
cloning, internet, hiking and camping trips, world travel
vacations, telegraph, word processing, gas, oil, couches,
research, television, radio, credit cards, toothbrushes, dental
floss, buses, subways, chinaware, telephones, camcorders, mass
production, nursing homes, cameras, copy machines, wheelchairs,
hospital operations, artificial limbs, organ transplants,
pharmacies, public libraries, children's playgrounds, cosmetic
surgery, wrist watches, physical exercising equipment, vitamin
pills, sports clubs, condominiums, anesthetics, physical exams,
microscopes, observatories, radar, sonar, opera, nutrition,
psychiatry, supermarkets, disability and life insurance,
magazines, daily newspapers, liability insurance, chemical
fertilizers, DDT, trash pick-up, electronic mail, record
players, video tape recorders, retirement homes, movies;,
planned obsolence, boxspring mattresses, brain scans, xrays,
innoculations, vaccines, penicillin, organized professional
sports, dry cleaners, railroads, foreign embassies,
veterinarians, drug abuse, wage garnishment, fire engines,
tractors, lawnmowers, breeding zoos, museums, world wars,
nuclear deterrence, fingerprinting, forensic evidence, toxic
waste, acid rain, archeology, zippers,

In this time period the development of law includes abolition of
feudal wardships, married women's property act, mandamus,
statute of frauds, rule against perpetuities, mandatory
secondary education, the tort of negligence, the concept of duty
of due care, kidnapping, false impersonation, liens, obscenity,
partnership, pensions, trademarks and unfair competition,
privacy, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the
press, copyrights and patents, bankruptcy, civil rights, union
organizing laws, laws on discrimination due to race, sex, ethnic
or national origin, disability, age, and sexual preference,
sexual harassment and staulking laws, product liability,
international law, no- fault divorce, best interest of child in
custody disputes, child labor laws, environmental laws
protecting air and water quality, workers compensation,
unemployment compensation, controlled substances, intellectual
property law, Coke's treatise on law, and Blackstone's treatise
on law.

Judicial procedure includes grand juries, which hear evidence,
court transcript by court stenographers, discovery, and



Sovereigns of England

Name                                 Accession

Egbert                                     802
AEthelwulf                                 839
AEthelbald                                 858
AEthelbert                                 860
AEthelred                                  865
Alfred the Great                           871
Edward the Elder                           899
AEthelstan                                 924
Edmund                                     939
Eadred                                     946
Eadwig                                     955
Edgar                                      959
Edward the Martyr                          975
AEthelred the Unready                      978
Edmund Ironside                           1016
Canute                                    1016
Harold I Harefoot                         1035
Hardicanute                               1040
Edward the Confessor                      1042
Harold II                                 1066
William I of Normandy                     1066
William II                                1087
Henry I (and Matilda)                     1100
Stephen                                   1135
Henry II (and Eleanor)                    1154
Richard I                                 1189
John                                      1199
Henry III                                 1216
Edward I (and Eleanor)                    1272
Edward II                                 1307
Edward III                                1327
Richard II                                1377
Henry IV                                  1399
Henry V                                   1413
Henry VI                                  1422
Edward IV                                 1461
Edward V                                  1483
Richard III                               1483
Henry VII (and Elizabeth)                 1485
Henry VIII                                1509
Mary                                      1553
Elizabeth I                               1558
James I                                   1603


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 - King Aethelbert - Queen Elizabeth" ***

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