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). 

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