Thursday, 1 December 2016

Garnier: Court Case - John the Marshal v. Thomas Becket archbishop, Northampton, October 1164

Mes ainc pur ceo li reis nel pot de rien fleschir,
Pur ceo k’il ne s’en pot hors del païs fuïr.
A Norhamtune a fet sun concile establir,
E prelaz e barons par ban i fet venir,
1385 Trestuz ces ki en chief de lui deivent tenir

A cel concile sunt cumunalment alé
Li conte e li baron, eveskë e abé.
L’arceveske Thomas ne l’ad pas refusé
Ke il n’i seit alez od cel altre barné ;
1390 Mes li ber i alat od grant humilité.
En ses ostels fet orent lur chevals herbergier
Li reial, ki bien sorent tut le conseil plenier.
E il a dit al rei n’ira a curt plaidier,
Tresqu’il li avra fet tuz ses ostels voidier.
1395 Dunc en furent geté cheval e escuier.
Li ber i ert sumuns a jor numeement,
K’il fust prez a respundre iluekes en present.
El regne ot fet li reis un establissement
(As barons del païs turne a grant grievement) :
1400 Ke chascon pert sa curt par un fals serement.
Se nul plaidast de terre en la curt son seignur,
Od sa gent i vendreit a sun premerain jor.
E se l’um li fesist de sun plet nul demur,
A la justise alast, si fesist sa clamur ;
1405 Ariere revenist, od lui dui jureür.
En la curt sun segnur jurast, sei tierce main,
[44] Que la curt li oüst esluinié sun dreit plain.
Par itel serement, u desleal u sain,
Alast cil en la curt al segnur plus procein,
1410 Tant k’en la curt venist al segnur suverain.
Johan li Mareschal pleideiot ensement.
En la curt seint Thomas clamot un tienement ;
Pur ceo k’il n’i ot dreit e n’espleita neient,
Sa curt li ad tolue par itel serement.
1415 Al rei s’en est clamez, ki quiert sun grievement.
La fist li reis sumundre seint Thomas pur pleidier,
K’il i fust prez al jor, e pur sei derainier
De ceo k’il n’ot tenu Johan sun dreit plenier.
Il fu emferms al jur e ne pot chevalchier ;
1420 A dous des suens a fet le jor essunïer.
Cel esoine ne volt li reis pas greanter ;
Pur ceo fist l’arceveske a Norhantune aler.
E li ber i ala, ainc n’i volt eschiver.
A Seint Andreu se fist as moines osteler.
1425 L’endemain li covint un mult grief fes porter.
Car al rei est alé le cungié demander
D’aler a l’apostoile, ceo li dist, ultre mer :
Car Rogier d’Everwiz feseit sa cruiz porter
Par tut en sa paroisse ; nel volt suffrir li ber ;
1430 E apelé en orent, si l’i estuet aler.
En l’endemain pur ceo al rei Henri ala,
E a lui errament le cungié demanda
D’aler a l’apostoile. Li reis dit n’i ira,
Mes de cele sursise errament respundra.
1435 Il dit k’il iert enferms, e k’il s’esunia.
Ainc essunies ne mals ne li pot rien valeir.
Li reis dit k’il en volt sun jugement aveir.
Il vont al jugement ; n’i voldrent dreit veeir :
L’arceveske unt jugié, cume gent senz saveir,
[45] 1440 A duner en merci treis cenz livres d’aveir.
Desdire les voleit li bers del jugement.
Mais mult li unt prïé trestuit communement
Qu’il laist cel’ire ester, nes desdie neent,
Face la volenté le rei e sun talent ;
1445 Einsi purra trover vers lui ameisement.
Le jugement li unt fait einsi graanter
E de ces treis cenz livres pleges al rei trover.
Erramment les trova, n’en pout par el passer.
E quant trové les out, sil funt en plait entrer,
1450 E del plait cel Johan le vunt achaisuner.
Ne volt iluec respundre, ço lur respunt li ber ;
Car cil fu en sa curt, e ne solt pas mustrer
Qu’um li fesist nul tort ; e quant s’en volt turner,
Ne volt sur altre livre le serement jurer
1455 For desur un tropier, qu’il i fist aporter.
N’est pas us del païs que l’en jurt sur tropier,
Mais a quatre ewangelies deit l’um agenuillier.
Mais par tel serement quida Deu enginnier ;
Mais dedenz cel an porent sa char li ver mangier,
1460 E les cors ses dous fiz, qui li erent mult chier.


277 [part]
At Northampton he [the king] caused his council to be convened, And the prelates and barons by ban [edict] he made come there all those who owed him feudal duty holding [land] as a tenant in chief from him. 1385

[Ban = personal writ of summons to a Great Council under the great seal from the king to each tenant-in-chief i.e. the prelates and magnates]

To this council commonly came earls and barons, bishops and abbots. Archbishop Thomas did not refuse to go there with the other barons. But our good hero came there in great humility. 1390

In his guesthouse lodged there together their horses were the men of the king's party who well knew of his [the king's] plan in full. [Going to the king] he said he would not come to his court to plead as long as they did not vacate all his lodging places. Then the squires together with their horses were thrown out. 1395

The good man was summoned upon the appointed day on which he was ready to answer with his presence. The king had published an ordinance throughout the kingdom (which had stirred up a great grievance amongst the barons of the country) whereby any one of them could lose their court by means of false sworn testimony. 1400

[This procedure came to be known as the Assize of Novel Disseisin]

If anyone might make a plea [a claim] for land in the court of his lord,  he should come there together with his people on the first day [of the hearing]. And there, if any one delayed his plea, he might then go to a justice, to whom he could make his complaint; and come back again bringing with him two compurgators [jurors/sworn witnesses].1405

There in the court of his lord they could swear, the three of them [the plaintiff, as the third hand, and his two compurgators], that the court had deprived him of his legal right. By such an oath, whether false [by perjury] or true, he might thus [by this means] take his case to the court of the next higher lord, and so on [all the way] till he might [by appeal] come before the court of his sovereign lord [the king].

John the Marshal had made such a plea. In the court of St. Thomas he made a claim  for a tenement for which he had neither the legal right to, nor could he gain anything there. He therefore now made a claim for it by such an oath [using the procedure of Novel Disseisin] to the king, who bore a grievance against him [Thomas]. 1415

That done the king summoned St Thomas to make his plea, requiring that he come before him on an appointed day to defend his case why he had not granted John his full legal right. That day he [Thomas] was ill and could not ride a horse. He sent two of his own men to make his essoin [lawful excuse of his absence]. 1420

This essoin [legal excuse for anbsence] the king did not want to allow; therefore for this he summoned the archbishop to come to Northampton. And our hero came there as he had no wish to evade it. He lodged with the monks of St. Andrews. The day after they admitted that he seemed to be bearing a great grief, 1425

because he had gone to the king to ask for leave to go overseas, this he told him, to go [to make a complaint] to the Pope about Roger d'Éveque [Roger Pont d'Éveque archbishop of York] who had been having borne before him his cross throughout his [Becket's] province. But our hero did not want to allow him to do this and they had appealed for him to go there. 1430

For this he had gone to king Henry on the following day, and had immediately asked him for leave to go to the Pope. The king told him that he was not to go there, but should now immediately answer the [John the Marshal's] case without delay. He said that he had been ill and that he had essoined himself,

But neither essoins nor sickness would prevail. The king said that he wanted to have his judgement thereon. They arrived at a sentence; neither would they see lawful right in this. They judged archbishop , like uneducated people, by giving him a fine in a sum of three hundred pounds..

[£300 was the equivalent of 40 year's pay for a master mason.]

Our hero wanted to refute this sentence but they all together forcefully begged him to renounce his anger and not gainsay them at all. But that he should do the king's will and follow his wishes. 1445
Thus they made him submit to the sentence, and for this he had to find three hundred pounds of pledges for the king. He found them immediately as he could not evade this. And after he had found them, they made him enter a plea [in his defence in the court] in the case which John [the Marshal] had brought which they were going now to accuse him of. 1450

Our hero did not wish to give a response to them [there] about this, as this man [John the marshal] had been in his court and was not able to show that anyone had done him a wrong; and when in turn he came to put his case there he was unwilling to swear the oath on any other book except a troper which he had brought with his there. 1455

It is not the custom of the country that one swears the oath upon a troper, rather one must kneel down before [a book of] the four gospels. But by such an oath he thought he could deceive God. But inside a year the worms were able to eat his flesh, and also the bodies of his two sons who were very dear to him. 1460


R. C. van Caenegem (1991). English Lawsuits from William I to Richard I Volume 2 - Case 420 7th-8th Oct 1164 Volume 107 Selden Society. pp. 423 left - 433 right
John the Marshal v Thomas Becket
Originals + Translations
A. Herbert of Boseham   Materials Becket iii  250-252
B. William Fitzstephen   Materials Becket iii 50-51
C   Anonymous 1 Materials Becket iv 40-41
D   Roger of Hovendon Chron i 224-225
E Edward Grim Materials Becket ii 390-392
F William of Canterbury Materials Becket i 30-31
G Ralph de Diceto i p. 313
H Guernes fe Pont-Saint-Maxence Walberg 1936 pp 43-45

Thómas Saga Erkibyskups: A Life of Archbishop Thomas Becket, in Icelandic Vol. 1, with English translation by Eiríkur Magnússon.
Chapter 23 The Meeting of Northampton

Frank Barlow (1990). Thomas Becket. University of California Press. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-0-520-07175-9.
Rule in Glanvill

Glanvill Book XII Chapter 7

David Houard (1776). Traités sur les coutumes anglo-normandes, publiés en Angleterre, depuis le onzième, jusqu'au quatorzième siècle. Glanvill Book XII - Cap 7: chez Le Boucher le jeune. pp. 544–.

Ranulf de Glanville (1812). tr Beames, ed. A Translation of Glanville. Book XII Chapter 7: W. Reed. pp. 289–.

Cap 7.

¶Probantur autem curie ipse de recto defecisse in hunc modum. Conquerente autem se eo qui petit vicecomiti in comitatu et breue domini Regis afferente: mittet vice∣comes comes ad curiam ips•m die qua litigatoris bus a domino ipsius curie statuta fuerit; ali∣quem seruientem, vt et ille coram quatuor vel pluribus legalibus militibus eiusdem comitatus qui ex• precepto vicecomiti••llic ad∣erunt audiat et videat probationem ipsius petentis scilicet curi•m ipsam ei de recto de∣fecisse in placito ipso Quod et ipse petens si• esse, suo iuramento et cum duobus aliis id audientibus et intelligentibus, et cum eo iu∣rantibus probabit. Sub tali ergo solēpnitate• solent loquele a quibusdam curu• ad comi∣tatus transferri. Et ibi de nouo tractari et ter∣minari sine contradictione vel recuperatione ipsarum curiarum, quam inde habere possūt ipsarum curiarum domini siue heredes quan∣tum ad'illud placitum. Sin autem priusquam curia aliqua predicto modo probetur de recto defecisse loquela aliqua ab ea ad supe∣riorem curiam trahatur, poterit dominus al∣lius Curie die placiti curiam suam ea ratio∣ne repetere quod non dum probata fuerit de recto defecisse, et ita eam per iudicium retro habebit nisi ibi probetur de recto eam vt dictum est defecisse. Sciendum tamen quod si ad capitalem Curiam domini Regis ita tracta fuerit aliqua loquela, frustra vendica∣bit ibi quis die placiti Curiam suam, nisiter∣rio die ante, coram legalibus hominibus eam vendicauerit. Nullo autem die posito ipsi petenti vnde ipse queri possit, et iuste de dilatione ei facta, sufficit ei falsare Curiam ipsam sub forma prescripta quocunque lo∣co voluerit in feodo ipso. Si dominus nul∣lam habuerit reseantisam super feodum ip∣sum sicut ipsi domino licet Curiam suam ibi tenere, et ipsi petenti diem ponere quo∣cunque loco voluent super feodum ipsum. Extra autem feodum ipsum non licer ei de iure.

David Crouch (2 March 2016). William Marshal. Routledge. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-1-317-28309-6.


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