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Constitutional Documents

1. Ordinance separating the Spiritual and Temporal Courts

(Date unknown. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 85. Translation, G. and H. 57. I Stubbs, 307.)

WILLIAM, by the grace of God king of the English, to R.

Bainard, and G. de Magneville, and Peter de Valoines, and all my liege men of Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex greeting. Know ye and all my liege men resident in England, that I have by my common council, and by the advice of the archbishops, bishops, abbots and chief men of my realm, determined that the episcopal laws be mended as not having been kept properly nor according to the decrees of the sacred canons throughout the realm of England, even to my own times. Accordingly I command and charge you by royal authority that no bishop nor archdeacon do hereafter hold pleas of episcopal laws in the Hundred, nor bring a cause to the judgment of secular men which concerns the rule of souls. But whoever shall be impleaded by the episcopal laws for any cause or crime, let him come to the place which the bishop shall choose and name for this purpose, and there answer for his cause or crime, and not according to the Hundred but according to the canons and episcopal laws, and let him do right to God and his bishop. But if any one, being lifted up with pride, refuse to come to the bishop's court, let him be summoned three several times, and if by this means, even, he come not to obedience, let the authority of the king or sheriff be exerted; and he who refuses to come to the bishop's judgment shall make good the bishop's law for every summons. This too I absolutely forbid that any sheriff, reeve or king's minister, or any other layman, do in any wise concern himself with the laws which belong to the bishop, or bring another man to judgment save in the


bishop's court. And let judgment nowhere be undergone but in the bishop's see or in that place which the bishop appoints for this purpose.

2. Writ for an Inquest of Lands at Ely

(1080. Latin text, Bigelow's Placita, 24. Translation by Editors.)

WILLIAM, king of the English, to Archbishop Lanfranc, and

to Roger Count of Mortain, and to Godfrey Bishop of Coutances, greeting.

I order and direct you to assemble again all the shires which were present at the trial held concerning the lands of the church of Ely, before my consort went to Normandy the last time. With them, also, let there be those of my barons who had the right to be present and who were present at the aforesaid trial and who hold lands of the same church. When they have come together, let there be chosen some of those Englishmen who know how the lands of the said church were situated on the day that King Edward died, and what they say about it let them, thereupon, witness by an oath. This done, let there be restored to the church the lands which were in its demesne on the day of the death of Edward, excepting those which men claim that I have given to them. With regard to these, signify to me by letters which they are and who hold them. But let those who hold lands by service, which, without doubt, ought to be held from the church, make the best agreement they can with the abbot, and if they refuse, let the lands remain to the church. Let this also be done concerning those who hold sac and soc. Finally, order those men who hitherto by my order and direction have been accustomed to do it, to keep in repair the bridge at Ely.


Title of the Domesday Inquest for Ely

(1086. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 86. Translation by Editors. I Stubbs, 416.)


TERE is written down the inquest of lands, in what manner the king's barons have made inquisition, namely, by oath of the sheriff of the shire, and of all the barons and of their Frenchmen and of the whole hundred, of the priest, the reeve and six villeins of each vill. Next the name of the manor, who held it in the time of King Edward, who holds it now; the number of hides;

the number of plows on the demesne, the number of those of the men; the number of villeins; the number of cotters; the number of serfs; the number of freemen; the number of sokemen; the amount of forest; the amount of meadow; the number of pastures; the number of mills; the number of fishponds; how much it has been increased or diminished; how much it was all worth then; and how much now; how much each freeman and sokeman held and holds there. All this three times over, namely, in the time of King Edward, and when King William gave it, and as it now is, and if more can be had than is had.

4. Typical Domesday Entries

(1086. Latin original. Translation by Editors. Specific references below.)

1. The same earl holds Hiham. Godwin held it. In the time of King Edward there were two hides and a half, but it was assessed at two hides, as they say, and now at two. There is land for sixteen plows. In demesne is one, and thirty villeins and ten borders with nineteen plows. There are six acres of meadow and woods for two hogs. In the time of King Edward it was worth 100 shillings, now six pounds. It has been waste. (1 Domesday, 20, a.)

2. To the use of this manor the same Hugh claims three messuages and a corner of a meadow and one virgate and five acres of land against Turstin the chamberlain. Concerning this the whole hundred bears testimony that his predecessors were seised of it and holding it on the day on which King Edward was alive and dead. (1 Domesday, 45, a.)

5. Writ applying Feudal Principles to the


(1095. Latin text, Round's Feudal England, 309. Translation by Editors. I Stubbs, 325.)

WILLIAM, King of the English, to all the French and English


who occupy freeholds from the bishopric of Worcester,

Know ye that since the bishop has died, the honor has returned into my possession. Now I will that you should give me from your lands such relief as I have arranged [assessed] through my

barons. Hugh de Lacy, twenty pounds; Walter Punher, twenty pounds; Chipping, twenty shillings.

Witness: Ranulf the chaplain, and Eudes the steward, and Urso de Abetot. If any one shall refuse to do this, Urso and Bernard shall seise their lands and money into my possession.

6. An Early Iter: The King vs. The Abbot of Tavistock

(1096. Latin text, Bigelow's Placita, 69. Translation by Editors.) N the year of the Lord's Incarnation the one thousand and

memory, the ninth, the said king sent at Quadragesima into Devonshire, Cornwall and Exeter, his lords Walklin the Bishop of Winchester, Ranulf the royal chaplain, William Capra, and Hardin Fitz-Belnold to examine royal pleas. In which pleas, complaints have been made concerning a certain manor of the abbey of Tavistock, called Wulurunton, alleging and affirming that the said manor is wrongly held by the abbey of Tavistock and that on the contrary, it has always belonged of right to the royal demesne. We denying their allegations and false charges, proved that in the judgment of many of our predecessors the said manor belonged of perpetual right to the abbey of Tavistock, without any dispute. In which cause, together with the royal examiners of pleas above-mentioned, we besought the King of the English that, for the love of God and Saint Mary, he would grant that the aforesaid manor should belong to the abbey of Tavistock in perpetual right, without any question. These very facts having been recited in the king's hearing, the king himself in granting our petition, and, for the sake of the souls of his father and mother, restoring in perpetuity to the abbey church of God and Saint Mary at Tavistock that manor, namely Wulurunton, made reply in these words:

7. Charter of Liberties of Henry I

(1100. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 100. Translation, Cheyney, 3. 1 Stubbs, 330.)


the year of the incarnation of the Lord, 1101, Henry, son of King William, after the death of his brother William, by the grace of God, king of the English, to all faithful, 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 the same kingdom; and because the kingdom has been oppressed by unjust exactions, I, from regard to God, and from the love which I have toward you, in the first place make the holy church of God free, so that I will neither sell nor place at rent, nor, when archbishop, or bishop, or abbot is dead, will I take anything from the domain of the church, or from its men, until a successor is installed into it. And all the evil customs by which the realm of England was unjustly oppressed will I take away, which evil customs I partly set down here.

2. If any one of my barons, or earls, or others who hold from me shall have died, his heir shall not redeem his land as he did in the time of my brother, but shall relieve it by a just and legitimate relief. Similarly also the men of my barons shall relieve their lands from their lords by a just and legitimate relief.

3. And if any one of the barons or other men of mine wishes to give his daughter in marriage, or his sister or niece or relation, he must speak with me about it, but I will neither take anything from him for this permission, nor forbid him to give her in marriage, unless he should wish to join her to my enemy. And if when a baron or other man of mine is dead, a daughter remains as his heir, I will give her in marriage according to the judgment of my barons, along with her land. And if when a man is dead his wife remains, and is without children, she shall have her dowry and right of marriage, and I will not give her to a husband except according to her will.

4. And if a wife has survived with children, she shall have her dowry and marriage portion, so long as she shall have kept her body legitimately, and I will not give her in marriage, except according to her will. And the guardian of the land and children

shall be either the wife or another one of the relatives as shall seem to be most just. And I require that my barons should deal similarly with the sons and daughters or wives of their inen.

5. The common tax on money which used to be taken through the cities and counties, which was not taken in the time of King Edward, I now forbid altogether henceforth to be taken. If any one shall have been seised, whether a moneyer or any other, with false money, strict justice shall be done for it.

6. All fines and all debts which were owed to my brother, I remit, except my rightful rents, and except those payments which had been agreed upon for the inheritances of others or for those things which more justly affected others. And if any one for his

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