Saturday, 2 February 2013

Roger of Wendover's version of the Constitutions: J.A. Giles Translation

How a recognition of the customs of England was made at Clarendon. 

A.D. 1164. In the presence of king Henry, at Clarendon, 
on the 25th of January, John of Oxford, according to the 
king's request, presiding, in the presence, also, of the arch- 
bishops, bishops, abbats, priors, earls, barons, and nobles of 
the kingdom, was made a recognition or inquisition, con- 
cerning certain customs and liberties of the king's predecessors, 
to wit, Henry, his grandfather, and others, which ought to 
be observed and held by all in the kingdom, on account of 
the dissensions and discords which often arise between the 
clergy and justices of our lord the king and the nobles of 
the kingdom. Of these customs then recognised a portion is 
contained in the sixteen chapters here following. 

I, Of the advowson and presentation to churches : if any dispute shall 
arise between laics, or between clerks and laics, or between clerks, let it be 
tried and decided in the court of our lord the king. 

II. Churches of the king's fee shall not be given in perpetuity without 
his consent and licence. 

III. Clerks accused of any crime, shall be summoned by the king's 
justice into the king's court, to answer there for whatever the king's court 
shall determine they ought to answer there, and in the ecclesiastical court, 
for whatever it shall be determined that they ought to answer there ; yet 
so that the king's justice shall send into the court of holy church to see 
in what way the matter shall there be handled; and if the clerk shall 
confess or be convicted, the church for the future shall not protect him. 

IV. No archbishop, bishop, or other exalted person, shall leave the 
kingdom without the king's licence; and if they wish to leave it, the king 
shall be empowered, if he pleases, to take security from them, that they 
will do no harm to the king or kingdom, either in going, or remaining, or 
in returning, 

V. Persons excommunicated are not to give bail, ad remanens, 
nor to make oath, but only to give bail and pledge that they will stand by 
the judgment of the church where they are absolved. 

VI. Laics shall not be accused, save by certain legal accusers and 
witnesses in presence of the bishop, so that the archdeacon may not lose 
his rights, or anything which accrues to him therefrom. And if those 
who are arraigned are such as no one is willing or dares to accuse them, the 
sheriff on demand from the bishop shall cause twelve loyal men of the 
village to swear before the bishop that they will declare the truth in that 
matter according to their conscience. 

VII. No one who holds of the king in chief, nor any of his domestic 
servants, shall be excommunicated, nor their lands be put under an interdict, 
until the king shall be consulted, if he is in the kingdom; or, if he is abroad, 
his justiciary ; that he may do what is right in that matter ; and so that 
whatever belongs to the king's court may therein be settled, and the s mie 
on the other hand of the ecclesiastical court. 

VIII. Appeals, if they arise, must be made from the archdeacon to the 
bishop, and from the bishop to the archbishop ; and if the archbishop shall 
fail in administering justice, the parties shall come before oiu- lord the king, 
that by his precept the controversy may be terminated in the archbishop's 
court, so that it may not proceed further without the consent of our lord 
the king. 

IX. If a dispute shall arise between a clerk and a laic, or between a 
laic and a clerk, about a tenement, which the clerk wishes to claim as ele- 
emosynary, but the laic claims as lay fee, it shall be settled by the declara- 
tion of twelve loyal men, through the agency of the king's capital justice, 
whether the tenement is eleemosynary or lay fee, in presence of the king's 
justice. And if it shall be declared that it is eleemosynary, it shall be 
pleaded in the ecclesiastical court ; but if a lay-fee, unless both shall claim 
the tenement of the same bishop or baron, it shall be pleaded in the king's 
court; but if both shall claim of that fee from the same bishop or baron, 
it shall be pleaded in his court, yet so that the declaration above-named 
shall not deprive of seizing him who before was seized, until he shall be di- 
vested by the pleadings. 

X. If any man lielonging to a city, castle, borough, or king's royal manor, 
shall he summoned by the archdeacon or bishop to answer for a crime, and 
shall not comply with the summons, it shall be lawful to place him under 
an interdict, but not to excommunicate him, until the king's principal 
officer of that place be informed thereof that he may justify his appearing 
to the summons ; and if the king's officer shall fail in that matter, he shall 
be at the king's mercy, and the bishop shall forthwith coerce the party ac- 
cused with ecclesiastical discipline. 

XI. The archbishops, bishops, and all other persons of the kingdom who 
hold of the king in chief, shall hold their possessions of the king as barony, 
and answer for the same to the king's justices and officers, and follow and 
observe all the king's customs and rectitudes, like other barons, until the 
judgment is carried to the loss of members or death. 

XII. When an archbishopric, bishopric, abbacy, or priory of the king's 
domain shall be vacant, it shall be in his hand, and he shall receive from it 
all the revenues and proceeds, as of domain. And when the time shall 
come for providing for that church, our lord the king shall recommend the 
best persons to that church, and the election shall be made in the king's 
chapel, with the king's consent, and the advice of the person of the king- 
dom whom he shall have summoned for that purpose. And the person 
elected shall there do homage and fealty to our lord the king, as to his liege 
lord, of life and limb, and of his earthly honours saving his orders before 
he is consecrated. 

XIII. If any of the king's nobles shall have refused to render justice to 
an archbishop, or bishop, or archdeacon, for himself or any of his men, our 
lord the king shall justise them. And if by chance any one shall have 
deforced our lord the king of his rights, the archbishops, bishops, or arch- 
deacons shall justise him that he may render satisfaction to the king. 

XIV. The cattle of those who are in forfeiture to the king shall not be 
detained by the church or the cemetery, in oppositi(m to the king's justice ; 
for they belong to the king, whether they are found in the church or with- 

XV. Pleas for debts which are due, whether with the interposition of a 
pledge of faith or not, belong to the king's couit. 

XVI. The sons of rustics shall not be ordained without the consent of 
their lord, in whose land they are known to have been born. 

This recognition or inquisition concerning bad customs, 
liberties, and dignities detestable to Almighty God, was 
sworn to by the archbishop, bishops, abbats, priors, and 
clergy, besides all the earls, barons, and nobles, who expressly 
promised, by word of mouth, and in the words of truth, that 
they would keep and observe them to our lord the king and 
his heirs, in good faith and without mental reservation, for 

Latin Original
Roger, of Wendover; Paris, Matthew; ed. Henry Octavius Coxe.
Rogeri de Wendover Chronica; (1841) Volume II. pp 298-302.
Rogeri De Wendover (1841). Henricus O. Coxe,. ed. Rogeri De Wendover Chronica, Sive Flores Historiarum Nunc Primum Edidit Henricus O. Coxe,Volume II. pp. 298–301.

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