Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Lyttleton's Comments: Constitutions Clause 12

George Lyttelton (1767). The History Of The Life of King Henry the Second,  Notes to the Second and Third Books.  Sandby and Dodsley. pp. 143-.

When an archbishoprick, or bishoprick, or abbey, or priory, of royal foundation, shall he vacant, it ought to he in the hands of our lord the king, and he shall receive all the rents and issues thereof, as of his demesne; and 'when that church is to be supplied, our lord the king ought to send for the principal clergy of that church, and the election ought to he made in. the king's chapel, with the assent of our lord the king, and the advice of  such the prelates of the-kingdom as he shall call for that purpose; and the person elect shall there do homage and fealty to our lord the king, as his liege lord, of' life, limb, and worldly honour (saving his order) before. he be consecrated. 

Of the foundation of the right asserted to the king by this statute enough has been said in the preceding book of this History. I will only add here, that the same practice prevailed in the kingdom of France, in the dutchy of Normandy, and in the Norman kingdom of Sicily. Notice has also been taken of the saving clause at the end of it, which certainly opened a wide door to elude all the obligations contracted by the prelates in the act of homage and oath of fealty; though I find it affirmed by Becket, in a letter to the pope, that the same form was then used by the -whole Christian church. He likewise adds, that, when his Holiness absolved  him from the oath he had taken at Clarendon, that pontiff told him, that not even for the preservation of his life should a bishop lay himself under any obligation without a saving to his order and to the honor of God: which he adhered to pertinaciously in his whole dispute with the king. As for the form of election, which is laid down in this statute, it must be observed, that the vacant church, with the advice of only such of the prelates of the kingdom as he should call for that purpose, seems to have been a practice of no very ancient date, not older, I presume, than the reign of Henry the First, or William Rufus. For Mr. Tyrrel has proved by many authorities, that, during the times of the Saxons, the English prelates had been usually elected in the witenagemote, or great council, and with the advice, or concurrence, of the whole assembly. It likewise appears from the Saxon Chronicle, that the same form was continued under William the First. The 
words are these: "Hoc anno (1070) Lanfrancus,  Cadomensis Abbas, compellente rege Willielm et jubente Papa Alexandro, Angliam venit; et primatum regni Anglorum in ecclesia Cantuariensi suscepit, eligentibus eum senioribus ejusdem ecclesiae cum episcopis, et principibus, clero et populo Angliae in curia regis." But whatever form, or appearance, of more or fewer electors, had been kept up in those times, or was continued in those of which I write, it appears from a passage in a letter of Peter of Blois, which is inserted in the Appendix to the preceding volume of this History, that the thief power in these elections was by the constitution of the kingdom assigned to the king. Speaking of Henry the Second, he says, "Cum autem juxta regni consuetudinem "in electionibus faciendis potissimas et potentissimas habet partes," &c. Indeed the statute here recited requires no more, than that the prelate shall be elected with the assent of the king; but in fact that assent was little different from a real nomination. The pope and clergy were desirous to exclude the king and all the laity from any share in their elections, which was one principal reason of Alexander's condemning this statute,


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lyttleton Comments: Constitutions Clause 16

George Lyttelton (1767). The History Of The Life of King Henry the Second,  Sandby and Dodsley. pp. 153–.

The sons of villeins ought not to be ordained without the consent of
their lords, in whose lands they are known to have been born.

The reason of this was, that the ordaining of a slave had the effect of
an enfranchisement, and therefore, the sons of villeins being born in
slavery, it was robbing their lord, to set them free in this manner, without
his consent.

Lyttleton Comments: Constitutions Clause 11

George Lyttelton (1767). The History Of The Life of King Henry the Second,   Sandby and Dodsley. pp. 152–.

Archbishops, bishops, and all dignified clergymen who hold of the king in chief, have their possessions from the king as a barony, and answer thereupon to the king's justices and officers, and follow and perform all royal customs and rights, and, like other barons, ought to be present at the trials of the king's court with the barons, till the judgement proceeds to loss of members or death.

The evident intention of this constitution, or statute, was, to enforce on the prelates the obligations and duties arising from their baronies, as settled by the legistature under William the First, against the immunities they now claimed, and particularly the service of attending the judicature of the curia regis in all trials there. The exception to cases of blood seems to have been grounded on that part of the canon law, which had been received in this kingdom. For in the council of London held under Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, in the ninth year of William the First, some canons made in Spain were admitted and confirmed, by which no bishop, or abbot, or ecclesiastical person, was allowed to judge in cases extending to life or limb, or to assist in such judgements. [Concilia Magnæ Brit. edit. Wilkins p. 363], "Ex Concilis Eliberetano et Toletano undecimo, ut nullus epiicopus, vel abbas, seu quilibet ex clero, hominem occidendum vel membris truncandum judicet, vel judicantibus suæ auctoritatis favorem commodet." Concerning this point there is a remarkable passage in the works of Peter de Blois. He says, in his treatise De Iustitutione Episcopi ,

"Illud cælestera exasperatiram, et plerisque discrimen æternæ damnationis accumulati quod quidam principes, sacerdotes, et seniores populi, licet non diclent judicia sanguinis, eadem tamen traclent disputando, et disceptando de Hits, seque ideo immunes a culpl reputant, quad mortis aut truncatione membrorum judicium decernentes, a pronuntiatione duntaxat aut executions panalis sententia se absentant."

This proves undeniably, that in Henry the Second's time, the prelates only withdrew from the pronouncing of the sentence in cases of blood, but not from the trial or from any debates thereupon.

Richard Burn (1781). Ecclesiastical Law: In Four Volumes. For T. Cadell, in the Strand. pp. 18–.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Historical Notes of Clause 15: Breach of Faith - King's Justice or Ecclesiastical Court?

Cap. XV. Placita de debitis quae fide interposita debentur, vel absque interpositione fidei, sint in justitia regis.

Clause 15. Pleas concerning debts, which are owed on the basis of an oath or in connection with which no oath has been taken, are in the king's justice.


Let those pleas of debts, which are due with or without the interposition of a trust, be in the king's jurisdiction.

As early as the reign of king Stephen the Church had attempted to turn the ecclesiastical courts into ones dealing with matters of equity. For example, the Church claimed that suits involving pro laesione fidei [for injury to faith] belonged to its courts, as the matter concerned the harm and damages done by breach of faith or promise, and the Church considered these to be spiritual offences against the conscience. Thus the Church regarded that any case concerning the non-payment of debt or any breach of contract to be its business. Clause 15 of the Constitutions of Clarendon was instituted to put a stop to this practice, by stating pleas of debt belonged to the king's justice, thereby seeking to abolish the Church's right to hear such suits. The pope condemned this clause.

The Bible is peppered with the language of debt. Sin, forgiveness, reckoning, redemption - all of these words actually derive from the language of religion.  Debt is sin: Forgive us our debt.

Debt was very common amongst the lower classes. Cash, that is silver pennies, or physical money was largely used only for paying taxes to the king. Commonly if one wanted to "buy" a cow on credit one generally borrowed it from the creditor; one obtained the cow on loan for a pledge: in essence one had leased the cow. If the debt fell foul for any reason, a plea of debt was raised by the lender with the court. The claimant if the case were proved would be entitled to the promised pledge. Usury was strictly again Canon Law for Christians.

One problem this procedure was likely to generate was physical proof that a contract had been made, such as a tally-stick.


Wilfred Lewis Warren (1973). Henry II. University of California Press. pp. 546–8. ISBN 978-0-520-02282-9.

Sir William Blackstone (1775). Commentaries on the Laws of England: In Four Books. Clarendon Press, printed for W. Strahan. pp. 52–.

George Lyttelton (1767). The History Of The Life of King Henry the Second,  Notes to the Second and Third Books.  Sandby and Dodsley. pp. 142-3.

R. H. Helmholz (January 2004). The Oxford History of the Laws of England: The Canon law and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s. Oxford University Press. pp. 358–. ISBN 978-0-19-825897-1.

Thomas Atkins Street (1999). The History and Theory of English Contract Law. Pledge of Good Faith in Contract Law: Beard Books. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-893122-24-6.

Thomas Atkins Street (1999). The History and Theory of English Contract Law. Jurisdiction of the Ecclesiastical Courts: Beard Books. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-1-893122-24-6.

Thomas Atkins Street (1999). The History and Theory of English Contract Law. Jurisdiction of Ecclesiastical Courts: Beard Books. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-893122-24-6.

Ranulphus de GLANVILLA; John Rayner; John Eardley WILMOT (1780). Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus Regni Anglie.

David Hoüard; Ranulf de Glanville; Andrew Horne (1776). Préface. Dissertation préliminaire sur les variations de la législation françoise et angloise, depuis l'entrée des Saxons dans les Gaules jusqu'au onzième siècle. Extraits du Domesday. Loix d'Henry I. Traités sur les coutumes angloises, par Glanville. Saillant, Nyon & Valade. pp. 532–.

David J. Ibbetson (2001). A Historical Introduction to the Law of Obligations. Glanvill and the Law of Debt: Oxford University Press. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-0-19-876411-3.

Richard Firth Green (2002). A Crisis of Truth: Literature and Law in Ricardian England. Chapter 4: The King's Law: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 121–. ISBN 0-8122-1809-4.

Vermeersch, A. (1912). Usury. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

R. H. Helmholz; John Hamilton Baker (2003). The Oxford History of the Laws of England: The Canon law and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s. Oxford University Press. pp. 378–. ISBN 978-0-19-825897-1.

R. H.Tawney (1998). Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. Transaction Publishers. pp. 299–. ISBN 978-1-4128-3294-6.

Contracts in Early English Law
Frederick Pollock
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 6, No. 8 (Mar. 15, 1893), pp. 389-404
Article DOI: 10.2307/1321304

Alfred William Brian Simpson (1987). A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit. Clarendon Press. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-19-825573-4.

Alfred William Brian Simpson (1987). A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit. II The Writ of Debt: Clarendon Press. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-0-19-825573-4.

Alfred William Brian Simpson (1987). A History of the Common Law of Contract: The Rise of the Action of Assumpsit. Clarendon Press. pp. 144–. ISBN 978-0-19-825573-4.

Thomas A. Street (1999). The Theory and Development of Common-Law Actions. The Action of Detinue: Beard Books. pp. 144–. ISBN 978-1-893122-25-3.

Sir William Jones; John Balmanno; Robert Raymond Baron Raymond (1804). An Essay on the Law of Bailments. London, printed, Philadelphia, re-printed, for P. Byrne. pp. 9–.

Equity, also the forms of action at common law - Lecture IV The Modern Trust

Sir William Blackstone; St. George Tucker; Edward Christian (1803). Blackstone's Commentaries  William Young Birch, and Abraham Small, no. 17, South Second-street, Robert Carr, printer. pp. 52–.

John Winter JONES; John Frederick ARCHBOLD; Edward Christian; John WILLIAMS (1823). A translation of all the Greek, Latin, Italian, and French quotations ... in Blackstone's Commentaries .

Philip Augustus and the Norman Church
by John W. Baldwin
French Historical Studies,Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring, 1969), pp. 1-30
Published by: Duke University Press
In twelfth century Normandy as throughout
Western Europe many contracts involving landed property and moveables
contained a pledge of faith (fides) in support of the obligations
of the contract. By this means contracting parties pledged their
Christianity to fulfill the terms of the agreement. Parallel to this pledge,
they might also swear an oath (sacramentum, juramentum) to guarantee
the contract. Since both the pledge of faith and the oath were
religious acts, contracts containing them were considered by the churchmen
to come under ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
In the Constitutions of Clarendon King Henry II decreed that pleas of debts,
whether involving the pledge of faith or not, belonged to the king.
His meaning is not entirely clear, but Archbishop Thomas Becket's
party understood him to deprive the ecclesiastical courts of all competence
over breach of faith and perjury. Pope Alexander III condemned
this proposition, and after Becket's murder Henry retracted his innovation.

Clauses of the Constitutions of Clarendon Allowed/Tolerated or Condemned by the Pope

Clauses condemned by Pope Alexander III
1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 15.

Clauses Tolerated or Allowed by Pope Alexander III
2, 6, 11, 13, 14 and 16.


L'Abbé's Latin Version

George Lord Lyttelton (1767). The History of the Life of King Henry the Second and of the Age in which He Lived . Sandby. pp. 358–.

George Lyttelton Baron Lyttelton (1769). The History of the Life of King Henry the Second: And of the Age in which He Lived. J. Dodsley. pp. 83–.

Sir Matthew Hale (1820). The History of the Common Law of England: And An Analysis of the Civil Part of the Law. Henry Butterworth. pp. 167–.

Robert Ross (Lecturer on History, Normal College, Cheltenham.) (1861). Manual of English History. pp. 84–.

William Francis Finlason (1869). Reeves' History of the English Law: Vol. 1: From the time of the Romans to the end of the reign of Henry 3. Reeves & Turner. pp. 126–.

J.J.S. WHARTON (1867). The Law Lexicon Or Dictionary of Jurisprudence: Explaining the Technical Words and Phrases Employed in the Several Departments of English Law.... Stevens and sons. pp. 191–.

 Augustin Thierry (1871). History of the Conquest of England by the Normans: Its Causes, and Its Consequences, in England, Scotland, Ireland, & on the Continent. Daldy. pp. 66–.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Historical Notes on Clause 16: Requirement of Rustics to have Permission from their Lord to become Clerics

Cap. xvi. Filii rusticorum non debent ordinari absque
assensu domini de cujus terra nati dignoscuntur.

16. Sons of villeins should not be ordained without
the consent of the lord on whose land it is ascertained
they were born.

Guernes (de Pont-Sainte-Maxence); Janet Shirley (1975). Garnier's Becket: translated from the 12th-century Vie saint Thomas le martyr de Cantorbire of Garnier of Pont-Sainte-Maxence. Phillimore. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-85033-200-1
2541 'No villein's son shall ever be ordained without the consent of the lord on whose land he was born.' And God has called us all to his service! Better an intelligent and valiant man whose father was a villein than a gently born coward and outcast!

Technically this was always a requirement of the Canon Law. This canonical restriction was applied by the Church to all the unfree whether they were servus, villanus, nativus, adscripticius or colonus.

In a sense upon being ordained in the Church the person becomes a bondsman of God, and cannot serve another master.

The total abolition of unfree status of villeins in England was not seriously proposed for another 200 years, until 1381.

One might ask why did Henry II consider it necessary to have such a clause. It is clear that he did not want the Church to be used as a backdoor for social advancement.


R. H. Helmholz (2010). The Spirit of Classical Canon LawChapter 3: Qualifications of the Clergy - Ordination of the Unfree. University of Georgia Press. pp. 61–. ISBN 978-0-8203-3463-9.
The Spirit of Classical Canon Law by R. H. Helmholz
Review by John Witte, Jr.
Journal of Law and Religion
Vol. 16, No. 2 (2001), pp. 367-371

Frederick Pollock; Frederic William Maitland. The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward IThe Unfree The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 457–. ISBN 978-1-58477-718-2.

Distinctio LIV Canon 1
Servi autem ordinari prohibentur

Distinctio LIV Can. 1
Servi autem ordinari prohibentur

Abbé Jacques Paul Migne (1855). Patrologiae latina cursus completus ... series secunda. Aqud Editorem. pp. 47–.

Medioevo romanzo. G. Macchiaroli. 1990. Volume 15 p. 9.

The English Manor C.1200 To C.1500. Manchester University Press. 7 September 2002. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-0-7190-5229-3.

Frederick Pollock; F. w. Maitland (30 June 2007). "The Unfree". The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 412–. ISBN 978-1-58477-718-2.

Kings, Lords and Peasants in Medieval England: The Common Law of Villeinage in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries by Paul R. Hyams
Review by R. H. Helmholz
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Jul., 1982), pp. 621-623

King, Lords and Peasants in Medieval England: The Common Law of Villeinage in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries by Paul R. Hyams
Review by Alan Harding
The English Historical Review
Vol. 96, No. 381 (Oct., 1981), pp. 854-857

Martyn Whittock (2013). A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages. Constable & Robinson Limited. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-1-4721-0766-4.

David Charles Douglas; George William Greenaway (1996). English Historical Documents, 1042-1189. Psychology Press. pp. 439–. ISBN 978-0-415-14367-7.
Assize of Clarendon 1166 Clause 20
Moreover. the Iord king forbids monks or canons or any religious house to receive any men of the lower orders as a monk or a canon or a brother, until it be known of what reputation he is. unless he shall be sick unto death.


Seignorial potestas sometimes is ended by manumission, as where a lord, by one of the several methods of manumission, sets his bondsman free, 

Fernand Bernard (2010). The First Year of Roman Law. Chapter I: Freemen and Slaves. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-1-61619-022-4.

Paul Vinogradoff (2010). Villainage in England: Essays in English Mediaeval History. Chapter II: Rights and Disabilities of the Villain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 59–. ISBN 978-1-108-01963-7.   Villainage in England - Internet Archive

An ambitious legal treatise, composed in the wake of Magna Carta, attributed to Henry of Bratton, De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae (England, 13th century). 

Clause X of the Assizes of King Roger II (1130-54) Founder of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, (ca 1140s)

Compare the following with Clause 16 of the Constitutions of Clarendon

The Assizes of King Roger
Text of Cod. Vat. Lat. 8782.
 [Translation by G. A. Loud 2004]


X About Serfs Wishing to Become Clerics

No bishop should presume to ordain serfs [adscriptitii] without the desire and assent of the persons to whose right and power they are subject, nor [somebody] from another diocese [parrochia] with letters of commendation either from a bishops or from their own chapter, following the institutes of the canons.

If those with whom they are enrolled [as serfs] should be convicted of having received any reward for having given permission for their ordination, they will lose the right of adscription and the one who has given the money shall be degraded from his orders and sold with all his property on behalf of the fisc.

It so happens that on sacred occasions wickedness obstructs sacred desires and disturbs the service of God and the ministry of the church. But no evil should be allowed to hinder our laws at any time. If, for example, there shall have been priests assigned to a church in the country or in a village, and after their deaths others must be substituted, and the lords of the country place or village refuse to allow the bishop to make a substitution from among the serfs, especially when the bishop is looking for a suitable person from among these serfs; it appears worthy and most just to our clemency that on the just petition of the church the lord of the serfs should be corrected by the law. But the sons of a deceased priest should be returned to the condition of serfs, without any appeal.

Other References

Katherine Jansen; Joanna Drell; Frances Andrews (2010). Medieval Italy: Texts in Translation. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 177–. ISBN 0-8122-2058-7.

by Ken Pennington
Rivista Internazionale di diritto comune 21 (2010) 35-54

Graham A. Loud; Alex Metcalfe (1 January 2002). The Society of Norman Italy. BRILL. pp. 12–. ISBN 90-04-12541-8.

Hiroshi Takayama (1 January 1993). The Administration of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. BRILL. pp. 76–. ISBN 90-04-09865-8.

Published 1884 by Fratelli Bocca

6. -- Ne Servi Vel Ascriptii Clericentur

1. Ascriptios sine voluntate eorum, quorum iuro suditi sunt, nullus episcoporum ordinare presumat.

2. Judeus, paganus servum christianum nex comparare audeat, nex ex aliquo titulo possidere.

Ortensio Zecchino (1984). Le Assise di Ariano. Di Mauro.

X. De ascripticiis volentibus clericari

  Ascripticios sine voluntate et assensu eorum quorum iuri subditi
sunt, et potestati, nullus episcoporum ordinare presumat, neque de aliensa
parrochia, per litteras commendatorias secundum canonum instituta, vel
ab episcopo, vel a proprio capitulo.

  Hii quorum ascripticii sunt, si quod premium pro data licentia consecrandi
suscepisse convicti fuerint, huiusce ascriptii perdant qui dedit pecuniam
ab ordine cadat, fisco vero cum omnibus rebus suis vendicetur.

Solent sancto voto atque proposito sanctis occasionibus pravitas se ingerere,
et dei servitium atque ecclesie ministerium perturbare. Ne ergo
sinistrum aliquod aliquando possit nostris institutionibus obviare, si forte
in rure vel in vico ecclesia assignatos habuerit sacerdotes quibus decedentibus
sint alii (subrograndi et) domini ruris vel vici super ascripticiis, episcopo
fieri subgorationem negaverint, presertim cum ex ipsis ascripticiis persona
ydonea ab episcopo expectatur, dignum nostre clementie videtur,
atque iustissium ad iustam petitionem ecclesie ascripticiorum dominum
iure cogendum; filii vero decedentis presbiteri ad asripticiorum condicionem
reddatur omni occasione remota.

Isidoro La Lumia (1870). Studi di storia siciliana di Isidoro La Lumia. Tip. di Francesco Lao. pp. 333–.

Stephen Morillo (2007). The Haskins Society Journal. Boydell Press. pp. 141–. ISBN 978-1-84383-336-9.

R. H. Helmholz (2010). The Spirit of Classical Canon LawChapter 3: Qualifications of the Clergy - Ordination of the Unfree. University of Georgia Press. pp. 61–. ISBN 978-0-8203-3463-9.

The Spirit of Classical Canon Law by R. H. Helmholz
Review by John Witte, Jr.
Journal of Law and Religion
Vol. 16, No. 2 (2001), pp. 367-371