All rights reserved Published August, 1907


Electrotyped and Printed ly C. ff. S intends if Co. Boston, U. S.A.

DE QUINCEY, in one of his Letters to a Young Man whose Education has been Neglected, quotes Dr. Johnson's pronouncement upon French literature (and it was the kindest thing he had to say about it), that " he valued it chiefly for this reason: that it had a book upon every subject." Even so much as this could hardly be claimed for our own literature in English. To this day it has no complete book upon the history of its own law. The attempts of Blackstone, Crabb, and Reeves are of a past epoch. The progress of a century of historical thought has fixed a great gulf between us and them. To-day, this branch of our literature dates virtually from Mr. Justice Holmes' " The Common Law " and Sir Frederick Pollock's and Professor Maitland's " History " — the first writers in this field (as Hallam says of Montaigne among French classical writers) " whom a gentleman is ashamed not to have read."

The present state of our knowledge of the history of our law may be likened to an unfinished building, whose foundations have been laid and whose frame and beams have been erected. The roof, the walls, the floors, the furnishings and decoration, are yet lacking. Its scope and internal plan, its architecture and its relation of parts, can be already plainly seen. But it cannot yet be inhabited; and many kinds of workmen must labor longer upon it. These foundations are the volumes of Sir Frederick Pollock and Professor Maitland, — resting upon the still deeper Germanic caissons of Professor Heinrich Brunner and his co-workers. This frame and these cross-beams are, on the one hand, the few larger monographs, from Mr. Justice Holmes' " The Common Law " and Professor Bigelow's " Anglo-Norman Procedure,"

of thirty years ago, to the Selden Society's source-books and Mr. Holdsworth's recent first volume; and, on the other hand, the more numerous essays and chapters of the authors represented in these present volumes. But, until now, most of these lesser structural members of the framework have lain scattered about upon the ground, here and there, — ready for use, and yet not fully serviceable because not easily accessible and not assembled in their relations to each other and to the whole. It is the purpose of these volumes to assemble and make accessible these valuable parts of the structure of our legal history.

The season is ripe for this work. It is probable that another generation will pass before the final elaboration of the structure can be attempted. Until the Year Books are entirely re-edited and printed, most of the work will be of a limited and topical scope. It is now time for our profession to take account of past progress, — to put together and to possess in mastery that which has been so far achieved; following the dictate of Goethe: " My maxim in the study of Nature is this: Hold fast what is certain, and keep a watch on what is uncertain."

The times demand, too, of our profession, more cultivation of the taste for history. A counter-balance against the hasty pressure for reform, and against an over-absorption in the narrow experience of the present, is to be sought in the solid influence of history. A true conservatism, and an intelligent progress, must alike be based on historical knowledge, — a knowledge not remaining in the possession of a few scholars, but penetrating abroad into the general consciousness of the profession.

For student and for practitioner alike, we believe that these historical essays will be a welcome enlargement of the horizon of our law. " It is the historians who are my true men," says the genial Montaigne, " for they are pleasant and easy; wherein immediately man in general (the knowledge of whom I hunt after) appears more lively and entire than anywhere besides." And his ingenuous reason for best liking Plutarch and Seneca is a reason which (we confess) has seemed to us likely to commend these present composite vol-

umes to that class of our expected readers who are already immersed in practice; for those ancient writers, he says, " have this great convenience (suited to my humour) that the knowledge I there seek is discoursed in several pieces, not requiring any great trouble of reading long, of which I am incapable; 'tis no great undertaking to take one of them in hand, and I give over to them at pleasure, for they have no necessary chain or dependence upon one another."

To the profession, then, and to all its members, whether in school or out of it, we commend this Collection, in the hope that it may bring into general knowledge the main part of the historical achievements which are not yet contained in independent volumes, and that it may help to stimulate a deeper and wider knowledge of the present meaning of our law as seen in the light of its past. Sooner or later the number of those who themselves take an efficient part in historical legal research will have to be, and will be, much increased. But that day will the sooner come to pass if meantime the number of those can be increased who will read and appreciate what has already been done, and will thus give support and encouragement for such research. Science expands with culture, and, in Matthew Arnold's phrase, " Culture is reading, -— but reading with a purpose to guide it, and with system. He docs a good work who does anything to help this; indeed, it is the one essential service now to be rendered to education."

In giving account of our labors in the preparation of this Collection, it is our first duty, on behalf of our profession, to thank those authors and publishers who have so freely allowed the reprinting of these essays and chapters. From th§ leaders of the historical vanguard (so to speak)—of whom Professor Brunner of Berlin, the lamented Professor Maitland of Cambridge, Sir F. Pollock of Oxford, Mr. Justice Holmes of Washington, Professor Ames of Harvard, and Professor Bigelow of Boston, are representative — this consent has been especially welcome.

We must, secondly, express our regret that the limitations of scope and space have forced the omission of many essays

which merited reprinting. All matters of public law, for example — including the history of constitutional law and of municipal corporations — have been left aside; perhaps a later series may be made to include them. Furthermore, in several essays and monographs, the narrow range of details, the lengthy marshalling of the historical evidence, or the impossibility of separating usable parts, has made them ineligible; though a reference-list of such authorities has been appended in the proper places.

A main motive for the Collection was to rescue, from scattered series of periodicals or general treatises on present law, and to assemble in one convenient form, those essays or chapters which are of permanent value and would otherwise fail of the constant and wide perusal which they deserve. Hence the plan did not propose to include any extracts from works devoted entirely and professedly to the history of any part of the law, -— such acknowledged masterpieces, for example, as Sir F. Pollock's and Professor Maitland's History of English Law, or Mr. Digby's History of the Law of Real Property, or Mr. Justice Holmes' The Common Law. But, in several instances, exceptions to this plan were allowed. The impelling reason was the Committee's desire to give a certain symmetry to some topics and periods which would otherwise have been imperfectly represented. The present volumes may therefore, it is hoped, serve to illumine in outline the legal history of the last six centuries, and thus to supplement the great treatise of Sir F. Pollock and Professor Maitland, — at least provisionally and until by the completion of the larger undertakings of Mr. Holdsworth and others the same period shall have been more adequately covered.

A more detailed explanation of the Committee's preparatory labors, and of the motives leading to its appointment, will be found in the Proceedings of the Association of American Law Schools for 1905 and 1906, published with the Proceedings of the American Bar Association for those years.

All of the material here collected has been already published elsewhere as essays, articles, or chapters, — with the

exception of Mr. Zane's studies of the Bench and Bar of England, which are now printed for the first time.

The bibliographical footnotes for each of the authors were in some instances furnished by the authors themselves, pursuant to the Committee's request. In other instances, owing to the authors' modest ignoring of that request, the Committee used such notes as could be found in biographical dictionaries; and in still others, no information was obtainable. The brief extra reference-lists, prefixed to the topical divisions of this Collection, include only those articles (the result of the Committee's preliminary gleanings) which it was impossible to include in the reprint. These lists are found chiefly under the special topics of volumes II and III. Following the prevailing American custom, no attempt has been made to designate the authors, in the title-heading of these essays, by their academic degrees or similar marks of distinction; but in a footnote is placed a record of such distinctions, so far as information was obtainable.

With these explanations, and with apologies for such errors as must inevitably have accompanied the work of a Committee cooperating from three separate headquarters, and corresponding with authors and publishers widely sundered by sea and land, the volumes are committed to the good-will of the profession.



University of Chicago. WM. E. MIKELL,

University of Pennsylvania. JOHN H. WIGMORE, Chairman.

Northwestern University. June SO, 1907.

"Sine historici caecam esse jurisprudentiam." FEANCISCUS BALDXIINUS.

" I have no expectation that any man will read history aright who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense than what he is doing to-day. There is no age, or state of society, or mode of action, in history to which there is not somewhat corresponding in his life. . . . History must be this or it is nothing: Every law which the State enacts indicates a fact in human nature; that is all. We must in ourselves see the necessary reason for every fact, — see how it could and must be. We assume that we under like influence should be alike affected, and should achieve the like; and we aim to master intellectually the steps, and reach the same height or the same degradation that our fellow, our proxy, has done. All inquiry into antiquity is the desire to do away this wild, savage, and preposterous There or Then, and introduce in its place the Here and Now." RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Essay on History.

" For the true historian, two attitudes (as I opine) are requisite. On the one hand, he must find interest and pleasure in the truth of individual facts, — must value details for their own sake. If he possesses genuinely this avidity for the pursuit of truth in its manifold variety, for the bare facts of human life, then he will surely attain satisfaction in his research, regardless of their larger interpretations and tendencies,— just as he takes pleasure in the flowers, without attempting to solve the problems of their botanical classification. Yet, on the other hand, the historian must cultivate breadth of view, — the faculty of generalization. He is not to proceed a priori, like the metaphysician. But, while he observes and describes the unfolding of the details, he is to let their general trend be made manifest, — their inter-actions, their developments, their epochs. One after another, the events appear before him; the series unites; it culminates in an Epoch. That distinction between dates which we term an Epoch lies in this, that out of the struggle of the two great opposing forces — the predetermined causation of the past, and the spontaneous variability of the present — new conditions, and thus new periods, gradually emerge. And out of a series of Epochs is built up the whole. . . . Thus, while each separate event of history has its intrinsic value, is worth investigation for its own sake, yet — in view of the direction which modern research is taking (and must indeed insist on taking, if we desire accurate knowledge) —it is fair to say that we run some danger of ignoring the larger aspects, that broad outlook for which every one has a legitimate yearning. Thus to unravel the full trend and meaning of events, while remaining steadfast to the strict principles of scientific research, will indeed be always an unattainable ideal. Yet a true scholarship recognizes that the two processes may and must go hand in hand. Facts without their philosophy are but barren and frigid chronicles. And philosophies of history not built on a rigid basis of fact are but delusive fancies." LEOPOLD vox RANKE, World History, Part IX, Sect. II, The Epochs of Modern History, Introduction.






1. A Prologue to a History of English Law . . 7


2. The Development of Teutonic Law ... 34


3. English Law before the Norman Conquest . . 88




4>. The Centralization of Norman Justice under

Henry II.......Ill


5. Edward I, the English Justinian . . . 139


6. English Law and the Renaissance . . . 168


7. Roman Law Influence in Chancery, Church

Courts, Admiralty, and Law Merchant . . 208 THOMAS EDWARD SCRUTTON

8. The History of the Canon Law in England . . 248


9. The Development of the Law Merchant . . 289


10. A Comparison of the Histoi-y of Legal Development at Rome and in England . . . 332

-TAArtra Tluvr'T?


11. English Common Law in the Early American

Colonies . . . PAUL SAMUEL REINSCH 367

12. The Extension of English Statutes to the Plan-


13. The Influence of Colonial Conditions, as Illus-

trated in the Connecticut Intestacy Law . . 431 CHARLES McLEAN ANDREWS


14. Anticipations under the Commonwealth of

Changes in the Law . . R. ROBINSON 467

15. Bentham's Influence in the Reforms of the Nine-

teenth Century . JOHN FORREST DILLON 492

16. Progress in the Administration of Justice during


17. The Development of Jurisprudence during the

Nineteenth Century ..... 558 JOSEPH HENRY BEALE, JR.

18. The Extension of Roman and English Law

throughout the World . JAMES BRYCE 574


19. The Five Ages of the* Bench and Bar of Eng-

land . . . JOHN MAXCY ZANE 625

20. A Century of English Judicature . . . 730


21. An American Law Student of a Hundred Years

Ago.....JAMES KENT 837



Commencement of Reign

William I................................October U, 1066

William II...............................September 26, 1087-

Henry I..................................August 5, 1100

Stephen .................................December 26, 1135 -

Henry II.................................December 19, 1154

Richard I...............................September 23, 1189

John .....................................May 27, 1199

Henry III ................................October 28, 1216

Edward I................................November 20, 1272

Edward II...............................July 8, 1307

Edward III.............................January 25, 1326

Richard II...............................June 22, 1377

Henry IV................................September 30, 1399.

Henry V.................................March 21, 1413

Henry VI................................September 1, 1422

Edward IV..............................March 4, 1461

Edward V................................April 9, 1483

Richard III..............................June 26, 1483

Henry VII...............................August 22, 1485

Henry Vill..............................April 22, 1509

Edward VI..............................January 28, 1517

Mary ....................................July 6, 1553

Elizabeth ................................November 17, 1558

James I..................................March 24, 1603

Charles I.................................March 27, 1625

The Commonwealth ......................January 30, 1649

Charles II1...............................May 29, 1660

James II.................................February 6, 1685

William and Mary .......................February 13, 1689

Anne ....................................March 8, 1702

George I.................................August 1, 1714

George II................................June 11, 1727

George III................................October 25, 1760

George IV................................January 29, 1820

William IV.............................". .June 26, 1830

Victoria ...................................June 20, 1837

Edward VII..............................January 22, 1901

1 Although Charles II. did not ascend the throne until 29th May, 1660, his regnal years were computed from the death of Charles I., January 30, 1649, so that the year of his restoration is styled the twelfth year of his reign.



1. A Prologue to a History of English Law.


2. The Development of Teutonic Law.


3. English Law Before the Norman Conquest.






SUCH is the unity of all history that any one who endeavours to tell a piece of it must feel that his first sentence tears a seamless web. The oldest utterance of English law that has come down to us has Greek words in it: words such as bishop, priest, and deacon.3 If we would search out the origins of Roman law, we must study Babylon: this at least was the opinion of the great Romanist of our own day.4 A statute of limitations must be set; but it must be arbitrary. The web must be rent; but, as we rend it, we may watch

•This essay was first published in the Law Quarterly Review, 1898, vol. XIV, pp. 13-33; and afterwards was prefixed to the second edition of the "History of English Law," 1899 (Cambridge, University Press; Boston, Little, Brown & Co.).

= 1850-1906; Jl. A., Trinity College (Cambridge); Barrister of Lincoln's Inn; Reader of English Law at Cambridge, 1888; Downing Professor of the Laws of England at Cambridge, 1888-1906; Bencher of Lincoln's Inn; LL.D., D. C. L., Oxford, Glasgow, Cracow.

Other Publications: Gloucester Pleas, 1884; Justice and Police, 1885; Bracton's Note-Book, 1887; History of English Law before the Time of Edward I (with Sir F. Pollock), 1895; Domesday Book and Beyond, 1897; Township and Borough, 1898; Canon Law in England, 1898; Introduction to Gierke's Political Theories of the Middle Ages, 1900; English Law and the Renaissance, 1901; prefaces to several volumes of the Selden Society's publications; editor of the Year-Books of Edward II (Selden Society, 1904-6). The miscellaneous essays and minor books of Professor Maitland are now being edited for publication m collected form by the University Press, Cambridge (Eng.).


•Ihering, Vorgeschichte der Indoeuropaer; see especially the editor's preface.

the whence and whither of a few of the severed and ravelling threads which have been making a pattern too large for any man's eye.

To speak more modestly, we may, before we settle to our task, look round for a moment at the world in which our English legal history has its beginnings. We may recall to memory a few main facts and dates which, though they are easily ascertained, are not often put together in one English book, and we may perchance arrange them in a useful order if we make mile-stones of the centuries.1

By the year 200 Roman jurisprudence had reached its zenith. Papinian was slain in 212,2 Ulpian in 228.3 Ulpian's pupil Modestinus may be accounted the last of the great lawyers.* All too soon they became classical; their successors were looking backwards, not forwards. Of the work that had been done it were folly here to speak; but the law of a little town had become ecumenical law, law alike for cultured Greece and for wild Britain. And yet, though it had assimilated new matter and new ideas, it had always preserved its tough identity. In the year 200 six centuries and a half of definite legal history, if we measure only from the Twelve Tables, were consciously summed up in the living and growing body of the law.

Dangers lay ahead. We notice one in a humble quarter. Certain religious societies, congregations (ecclesiac) of nonconformists, have been developing law, internal law, with ominous rapidity. We have called it law, and law it was going to be; but as yet it was, if the phrase be tolerable, unlawful law, for these societies had an illegal, if not a crim-

1 The following summary has been compiled by the aid of Karlowa, Romische Rechtsgeschichte, 1885 — Kriiger, Gesehichte der Quellen des riimischen Rechts, 1888 — Conrat, Gesehichte der Quellen des romischen Rechts im friiheren Mittelalter, 1889 — Maassen, Gesehichte der Quellen des canonischen Rechts, 1870 — Lb'ning, Gesehichte des deutschen Kir-chenrechts, 1878 — Sohm, Kirchenreeht, 1892 — Hinschius, System des katholischen Kirchenrechts, 18G9 ff. — A. Tardif, Histoire des sources du droit canonique, 1887 — Brnnner, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, 1887 — Schroder, Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte, ed. 2, 1891 — Esmein, Cours d'histoire du droit franc.ais, ed. 2, 1895 — Viollet, Histoire du droit civil francais, 1893.

2 Kriiger, op. cit. 198; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 736.

* Kriiger, op. cit. 215; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 741.

* Kriiger, op. cit. 220; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 752.

inal purpose. Spasmodically the imperial law was enforced against them; at other times the utmost that they could hope for from the state was that in the guise of " benefit and burial societies " they would obtain some protection for their communal property.1 But internally they were developing what was to be a system of constitutional and governmental law, which would endow the overseer (episcopus) of every congregation with manifold powers. Also they were developing a system of punitive law, for the offender might be excluded from all participation in religious rites, if not from worldly intercourse with the faithful.2 Moreover, these various communities were becoming united by bonds that were too close to be federal. In particular, that one of them which had its seat in the capital city of the empire was winning a pre-eminence for itself and its overseer.3 Long indeed would it be before this overseer of a non-conformist congregation would, in the person of his successor, place his heel upon the neck of the prostrate Augustus by virtue of God-made law. This was not to be foreseen; but already a merely human jurisprudence was losing its interest.' The intellectual force which some years earlier might have taken a side in the debate between Sabinians and Proculians now invented or refuted a christo-logical heresy. Ulpian's priesthood * was not priestly enough.5

The decline was rapid. Long before the year 300 jurisprudence, the one science of the Romans, was stricken with sterility;6 it was sharing the fate of art.7 Its eyes were

1 Loning, op. cit. i. 195 ff.; Sohm, op. cit. 75. Loning asserts that in the intervals between the outbursts of persecution the Christian communities were legally recognized as collegia tenuiorum, capable of holding property. Sohm denies this.

2 Excommunication gradually assumes its boycotting traits. The clergy were prohibited, while as yet the laity were not, from holding converse with the offender. Loning, op. cit. i. 264; Hinschius, op. cit. iv. 704.

a Sohm, op. cit. 378 ff.; Loning, op. cit. i. 423 ff.

'Dig. 1. 1. 1.

"The moot question (Kriiger, op. cit. 203; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 739) whether the Tertullian who is the apologist of Christian sectaries is the Tertullian from whose works a few extracts appear in the Digest may serve as a mnemonic link between two ages.

•Kriiger, op. cit. 260; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 932.

7 Gregorovius, History of Rome (transl. Hamilton), i. 85.

turned backwards to the departed great. The constitutions of the emperors now appeared as the only active source of law. They were a disordered mass, to be collected rather than digested. Collections of them were being unofficially made: the Codex Gregorianus, the Codex Hermogenianus. These have perished; they were made, some say, in the Orient.1 The shifting eastward of the imperial centre and the tendency of the world to fall in two halves were not for the good of the West. Under one title and another, as coloni, laeti, gentiles, large bodies of untamed Germans were taking up their abode within the limit of the empire.2 The Roman armies were becoming barbarous hosts. Constantine owed his crown to an Alamannian king.3

It is on a changed world that we look in the year 400. After one last flare of persecution (303), Christianity became a lawful religion (313). In a few years it, or rather one species of it, had become the only lawful religion. The " confessor" of yesterday was the persecutor of to-day.. Heathenry, it is true, died hard in the West; but already about 350 a pagan sacrifice was by the letter of the law a capital crime.4 Before the end of the century cruel statutes were being made against heretics of all sorts and kinds.5 No sooner was the new faith lawful, than the state was compelled to take part in the multifarious quarrels of the Christians. Hardly had Constantine issued the edict of tolerance, than he was summoning the bishops to Aries (314), even from remote Britain, that they might, if this were possible, make peace in the church of Africa.0 In the history of law, as well as in the history of dogma, the fourth century is the century of ecclesiastical councils. Into the debates of the spiritual parliaments of the empire 7 go what-

1 Krliger, op. cit. 277 ff.; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 941 ff. It is thought that the original edition of the Gregorianus was made about A. D. 295, that of the Hermogenianus between 314 and 324. But their dates are uncertain. For their remains see Corpus luris Anteiustiniani.

2 Brunner, op. cit. i. 32-39. 3 Ibid. 38. ' Loning, op. cit. i. 44. 5 Loning, op. cit. i. 97-98, reckons 68 statutes from fifty-seven years


' Hefele Conciliengeschichte, i. 201. For the presence of the British bishops, see Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, i. 7.

'Sohm, op. cit. 443: "Das okumenische Koncil, die Reichssynode . . . bedeutet ein geistliches Parlament des Kaiserturns."

ever juristic ability and whatever power of organization are left among mankind. The new supernatural jurisprudence was finding another mode of utterance; the bishop of Rome was becoming a legislator, perhaps a more important legislator than the emperor.1 In 380 Theodosius himself commanded that all the peoples which owned his sway should follow, not merely the religion that Christ had delivered to the world, but the religion that St. Peter had delivered to the Romans.2 For a disciplinary jurisdiction over clergy and laity the state now left a large room wherein the bishops ruled.3 As arbitrators in purely secular disputes they were active; it is even probable that for a short while under Constantine one litigant might force his adversary unwillingly to seek the episcopal tribunal.4 It was necessary for the state to protest that criminal jurisdiction was still in its hands.5 Soon the church was demanding, and in the West it might successfully demand, independence of the state and even a dominance over the state: the church may command and the state must obey.6 If from one point of view we see this as a triumph of anarchy, from another it appears as a triumph of law, of jurisprudence. Theology itself must become jurisprudence, albeit jurisprudence of a supernatural sort, in order that it may rule the world.

Among the gigantic events of the fifth century the issue of a statute-book seems small. Nevertheless, through the turmoil we see two statute-books, that of Theodosius II and that of Euric the West Goth. The Theodosian code was an official collection of imperial statutes beginning with those of Constantine I. It was issued in 438 with the consent of Valentinian III who was reigning in the West. No perfect copy of it has reached us.7 This by itself would tell a sad

1 Sohm, op. cit. 418. If a precise date may be fixed in a very gradual process, we may perhaps see the first exercise of legislative power in the decretal (A. D. 385) of Pope Siricius. ' Cod. Theod. 16. 1. 2. *t Loning, op. cit. i. 262 ff.; Hinschius, op. cit. iv. 788 ff.

Loning, op. cit. i. 293; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 966. This depends on the genuineness of Constit. Sirmond. 1.

Loning, op. cit. i. 305; Hinschius, op. cit. iv. 794.

Loning, op. cit. i. (i4-94.

Kriiger, op. cit. 285 ff.; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 944.

tale; but we remember how rapidly the empire was being torn in shreds. Already Britain was abandoned (407). We may doubt whether the statute-book of Theodosius ever reached our shores until it had been edited by Jacques Godefroi.1 Indeed we may say that the fall of a loose stone in Britain brought the crumbling edifice to the ground.2 Already before this code was published the hordes of Alans, Vandals, and Sucves had swept across Gaul and Spain; already the Vandals were in Africa. Already Rome had been sacked by the West Goths; they were founding a kingdom in southern Gaul and were soon to have a statute-book of their own. Gaiseric was not far off, nor Attila. Also let us remember that-this Theodosian Code was by no means well designed if it was to perpetuate the memory of Roman civil science in a stormy age. It was no " code " in our modern sense of that term. It was only a more or less methodic collection of modern statutes. Also it contained many things that the barbarians had better not have read; bloody laws against heretics, for example.

We turn from it to the first monument of Germanic law that has come down to us. It consists of some fragments of what must have been a large law-book published by Euric for his West Goths, perhaps between 470 and 475.3 Euric was a conquering king; he ruled Spain and a large part of southern Gaul; he had cast off, so it is said, even the pretence of ruling in the emperor's name. Nevertheless, his laws are not nearly so barbarous as our curiosity might wish them to be. These West Goths who had wandered across Europe were veneered by Roman civilization. It did them little good. Their later law-books, that of Reckcssuinth (652-672), that of Erwig (682), that of Egica (687-701), are said to be verbose and futile imitations of Roman codes. But Euric's laws are sufficient to remind us that the order of date among these Leges Barbarorum is very different from the order of

1 The Breviary of Alaric is a different matter.

2 Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, i. 143: "And thus we mav say that it was the loss or abandonment of Britain in 407 that led to the further loss of Spain and Africa."

3 Zeumer, Leges Visigothorum Antiquiores, 1894; Brunner, op. cit. i. 320; Schroder, op. cit. 230.

barbarity. Scandinavian laws that are not written until the thirteenth century will often give us what is more archaic than anything that comes frota the Gaul of the fifth or the Britain of the seventh. And, on the other hand, the mention of Goths in Spain should remind us of those wondrous folk-wanderings and of their strange influence upon the legal map of Europe. The Saxon of England has a close cousin in the Lombard of Italy, and modern critics profess that they can see a specially near kinship between Spanish and Icelandic law.1

In legal history the sixth century is the century of Justinian. But in the west of Europe this age appears as his, only if we take into account what was then a remote future. How powerless he was to legislate for many of the lands and races whence he drew his grandiose titles — Alamannicus, Gothicus, Francicus and the rest •— we shall see if we inquire who else had been publishing laws. The barbarians had been writing down their customs. The barbarian kings had been issuing law-books for their Roman subjects. Books of ecclesiastical law, of conciliar and papal law, were being compiled.2

The discovery of fragments of the laws of Euric the West Goth has deprived the Lex Salica of its claim to be the oldest extant statement of Germanic custom. But if not the oldest, it is still very old ; also it is rude and primitive.3 It comes to us from the march between the fifth and the sixth centuries; almost certainly from the victorious reign of Chlodwig (486-511). An attempt to fix its date more closely brings out one of its interesting traits. There is nothing distinctively heathen in it; but (and this makes it unique4) there is

1 Picker, Untersuchungen zur Erhenfolge, 1891-5; Picker, Ueber nahere Verwandtschaft zwischen gothisch-spanischem und norwegisch-" islandischem Recht (Mittheilungen des Instituts fur osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, 1888, ii. 456 ff.). These attempts to reconstruct the genealogy of the various Germanic systems are very interesting, if hazardous.

* For a map of Europe at the time of Justinian's legislation see Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vol. iv. p. 1.

"• Brunner, op. cit. i. 292 ff.; Schroder, op. cit. 226 ff.; Esmein, op. cit. 102 ff.; Dahn, Die Konige der Germanen, vii. (2) 50 ff.; Hessels and Kern, Lex Salica, The ten texts, 1880.

'However, there are some curious relics of heathenry in the Lex tnsionum: Brunner, op. cit. i. 342.

nothing distinctively Christian. If the Sicambrian has already bowed his neck to the catholic yoke, he is not yet actively destroying by his laws what he had formerly adored.1 On the other hand, his kingdom seems to stretch south of the Loire, and he has looked for suggestions to the laws of the West Goths. The Lex Salica, though written in Latin, is very free from the Roman taint. It contains in the so-called Malberg Glosses many old Frankish words, some of which, owing to mistranscription, are puzzles for the philological science of our own day. Like the other Germanic folk-laws, it consists largely of a tariff of offences and atonements ; but a few precious chapters, every word of which has been a cause of learned strife, lift the curtain for a moment and allow us to watch the Frank as he litigates. We see more clearly here than elsewhere the formalism, the sacramental symbolism of ancient legal procedure. We have no more instructive document; and let us remember that, by virtue of the Norman Conquest, the Lex Salica is one of the ancestors of English law.

Whether in the days when Justinian was legislating, the Western or Ripuarian Franks had written law may not be certain; but it is thought that the main part of the Lex Ribuaria is older than 596.2 Though there arc notable variations, it is in part a modernized edition of the Salica, showing the influence of the clergy and of Roman law. On the other hand, there seems little doubt that the core of the Lex Burgundionum was issued by King Gundobad (474-516) in the last years of the fifth century.3

Burgundians and West Goths were scattered among Roman provincials. They were East Germans; they had long been Christians, though addicted to the heresy of Arius. They could say that they had Roman authority for their occupation of Roman soil. Aquitania Secunda had been made over to the West Goths; the Burgundians vanquished by

1 Greg. Turon. ii. 22 (ed. Omont, p. 60): " Mitis depone colla, Sicam-ber; adora quod inccndisti, inccnde quod adorasti."

2 Brunner, op. cit. i. 303 ff.; Schroder, op. cit. 229; Esmein, op. cit.

107. Edited by Sohm in Monumenta Germanica.

3 Brunner, op. cit. i. 332 ff.; Schroder, op. cit. 234; Esmein, op. cit.

108. Edited by v. Salis in M. G.

Aetius had been deported to Savoy.1 In their seizure of lands from the Roman possessors they had followed, though with modifications that were profitable to themselves, the Roman system of billeting barbarian soldiers.2 There were many Romani as well as many barbari for whom their kings could legislate. Hence the Lex Romana Burgundionum and the Lex Romana Visigothorum. The former 3 seems to be the law-book that Gundobad promised to. his Roman subjects; he died in 516. Rules have been taken from the three Roman codices, from the current abridgments of imperial constitutions and from the works of Gaius and Paulus. Little that is good has been said of this book. Far more comprehensive and far more important was the Breviary of Alaric or Lex Romana Visigothorum.* Euric's son, Alaric II, published it in 506 as a statute-book; among the Romani of his realm it was to supplant all older books. It contained large excerpts from the Theodosian Codex, a few from the Gregorianus and Hermogenianus, some post-Theodosian constitutions, some of the Sententiae of Paulus, one little scrap of Papinian and an abridged version of the Institutes of Gaius. The greater part of these texts was equipped with a running commentary (interpretatio) which attempted to give their upshot in a more intelligible form. It is thought nowadays that this " interpretation " and the sorry version of Gaius represent, not Gothic barbarism, but degenerate Roman science. A time had come when lawyers could no longer understand their own old texts and were content with debased abridgments.5 The West Goths' power was declining. Hardly had Alaric issued his statute-book when he was slain in battle by the Franks. Soon the Visigothic became a Spanish kingdom. But it was not in Spain that the Breviarium made its permanent mark. There it was abrogated by Reckessuinth when he issued a code for all his subjects of every race.0 On the other hand, it struck deep root in Gaul. It became the prin-

1 Brunner, op. cit. i. 50-1. 2 Ibid. 64-7.

"Kriiger, op. cit. 317; Brunner, op. cit. i. 354; Schroder, op. cit. 234. Edited by v. Salis in M. G.

' Kriiger, op. cit. 309; Brunner, op. cit. i. 358. Edited by Hanel, 1849.

Karlowa, op. cit. i. 976. 'See above, p. 17.

cipal, if not the only, representative of Roman law in the expansive realm of the Franks. But even it was too bulky for men's needs. They made epitomes of it and epitomes of epitomes.l

Then, again, we must remember that while Tribonian was busy upon the Digest, the East Goths were still masters of Italy. We recall the event of 476; one emperor, Zeno at Byzantium, was to be enough. Odovacer had ruled as patrician and king. He had been conquered by the East Goths. The great Theodoric had reigned for more than thirty years (493-526) ; he had tried to fuse Italians and Goths into one nation; he had issued a considerable body of law, the Edictum Theodorici, for the more part of a criminal kind.2

Lastly, it must not escape us that about the year 500 there was in Rome a monk of Scythian birth who was labouring upon the foundations of the Corpus luris Canonici. He called himself Dionysius Exiguus. He was an expert chro-nologist and constructed the Dionysian cycle. He was collecting and translating the canons of eastern councils; he was collecting also some of the letters (decretal letters they will be called) that had been issued by the popes from Siri-cius onwards (384-498).3 This Collectio Dionysiana made its way in the West. Some version of it may have been the book of canons which our Archbishop Theodore produced at the Council of Hertford in 673.4 A version of it (Dionysio-Hadriana) was sent by Pope Hadrian to Charles the Great in 774.5 It helped to spread abroad the notion that the popes can declare, even if they can not make, law for the universal church, and thus to contract the sphere of secular jurisprudence.

In 528 Justinian began the work which gives him his fame in legal history; in 534, though there were novel constitu-

1 The epitomes will^ be found in Hanel's edition, Lex Romana Visigothorum, 1849.

2 Brunner, op. cit. i. 365; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 947 ff. Edited by Bluhme in M. G.

8 Maassen, op. cit. i. 422 if.; Tardif, op. cit. 110. Printed in Migne, Patrologia, vol. 67.

4 Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, iii. 119. See, however, the remarks of Mr. C. H. Turner, Eng. Hist. Rev. ix. 727.

6 Maassen, op. cit. i. 441.

tions to come from him, it was finished. Valuable as the code of imperial statutes might be, valuable as might be the modernized and imperial edition of an excellent but ancient schoolbook, the main work that he did for the coming centuries lies in the Digest. We are told nowadays that in the Orient the classical jurisprudence had taken a new lease of life, especially in the schools at Berytus.1 We are told that there is something of a renaissance, something even of an antiquarian revival visible in the pages of the Digest, a desire to go back from vulgar practice to classical text, also a desire to display an erudition that is not always very deep. Great conqueror, great builder, great theologian, great law-giver, Justinian would also be a great master of legal science and legal history. The narrow escape of his Digest from oblivion seems to tell us that, but for his exertions, very little of the ancient treasure of wisdom would have reached modern times; and a world without the Digest would not have been the world that we know. Let us, however, remember the retrospective character of the book. The ius, the unenacted law, ceased to grow three hundred years ago. In time Justinian stands as far from the jurists whose opinions he collects as we stand from Coke or even from Fitzherbert.

Laws have need of arms: Justinian knew it well. Much depended upon the fortunes of a war. We recall from the Institutes the boast that Africa has been reclaimed. Little was at stake there, for Africa was doomed to the Saracens; nor could transient success in Spain secure a western home for the law-books of Byzantium.2 All was at stake in Italy. The struggle with the East Goths was raging; Rome was captured and recaptured. At length the emperor was victorious (552), the Goths were exterminated or expelled; we hear of them no more. Justinian could now enforce his laws in Italy, and this he did by the pragmatic sanction pro petition* Vigilii (554).8 Fourteen years were to elapse and then the Lombard hordes under Alboin would be pouring

' Kriiger, op. cit. 319. * Conrat, op. cit. i. 32.

' Kriiger, op. cit. 354; Karlowa, op. cit. i. 938; Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vi. 519.

down upon an exhausted and depopulated land. Those fourteen years are critical in legal history; they suffer Justinian's books to obtain a lodgment in the West. The occidental world has paid heavily for Code and Digest in the destruction of the Gothic kingdom, in the temporal power of the papacy, and in an Italy never united until our own day; but perhaps the price was not too high. Be that as it may, the coincidence is memorable. The Roman empire centred in New Rome has just strength enough to hand back to Old Rome the guardianship of her heathen jurisprudence, now "enucleated" (as Justinian says) in a small compass, and then loses for ever the power of legislating for the West. True that there is the dwindling exarchate in Italy ; true that the year 800 is still far off; true that one of Justinian's successors, Constantine IV, will pay Rome a twelve days' visit (663) and rob it of ornaments that Vandals have spared;1 but with what we must call Grasco-Roman jurisprudence, with the Ecloga of Leo the Isaurian and the Basilica of Leo the Wise, the West, if we except some districts of southern Italy,2 has no concern. Two halves of the world were drifting apart, were becoming ignorant of each other's language, intolerant of each other's theology. He who was to be the true lord of Rome, if he loathed the Lombard, loved not the emperor. Justinian had taught Pope Vigilius, the Vigil-ius of the pragmatic sanction, that in the Byzantine system the church must be a department of the state. s The bishop of Rome did not mean to be the head of a department.

During some centuries Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) is one of the very few westerns whose use of the Digest can be proved.4 He sent Augustin to England. Then " in Au-gustin's day," about the year 600, JSthelbert of Kent set in writing the dooms of his folk " in Roman fashion." 5 Not

' Gregorovius, History of Rome (transl. Hamilton), ii. 153 ff.; Oman, Dark Ages, 237, 245.

2 For Byzantine law in southern Italy, see Conrat, op. cit. i. 49.

3 Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, iv. 571 ff.: " The Sorrows of Vigilius."

* Conrat, op. cit. i. 8.

5 Liebermann, Gesetze der Angelsachsen, p. 3. The first instalment of Dr. Liebermann's great work comes to our hands as these pages go through the press. Bede, Hist. Eccl. lib. 2, c. 5 (ed. Plummer, i. 90):

improbably he had heard of Justinian's exploits; but the dooms, though already they are protecting with heavy bot the property of God, priests and bishops, are barbarous enough. They are also, unless discoveries have yet to be made, the first Germanic laws that were written in a Germanic tongue. In many instances the desire to have written laws appears so soon as a barbarous race is brought into contact with Rome.1 The acceptance of the new religion must have revolutionary consequences in the world of law, for it is likely that heretofore the traditional customs, even if they have not been conceived as instituted by gods who are now becoming devils, have been conceived as essentially unalterable. Law has been the old; new law has been a contradiction in terms. And now about certain matters there must be new law. What is more, " the example of the Romans " shows that new law can be made by the issue of commands. Statute appears as the civilized form of law. Thus a fermentation begins and the result is bewildering. New resolves are mixed up with statements of old custom in these Leges Barbarorum.

The century which ends in 700 sees some additions made to the Kentish laws by Hlothasr and Eadric, and some others made by Wihtrad; there the Kentish series ends. It also sees in the dooms of Ine the beginning of written law in Wessex.2 It also secs the beginning of written law among the Lombards; in 643 Rothari published his edict;3 it is accounted to be one of the best statements of ancient German usages. A little later the Swabians have their Lex Alamannorum,^and the Bavarians their Lex Baiurvariorum.5

"iuxta exempla Romanorum." Bede himself (Opera, ed. Giles, vol. vi. p. 321) had read of Justinian's Codex; but what he says of it seems to prove that he had never seen it: Conrat, op. cit. i. 99.

1 Brunner, op. cit. i. 283. So native princes in India have imitated the Indian Penal Code within their states.

2 Whether we have Ine's code or only an Alfredian recension of it is a difficult question, lately discussed by Turk, Legal Code of Alfred (Halle, 1893), p. 42.

8 Brunner, op. cit. i. 368; Schroder, op. cit. 236. Edited by Bluhme in M.G.

* Brunner, op. cit. i. 308; Schroder, op. cit. 238. Edited by Lehmann in M. G. There are fragments of a Pactus Alamannorum from circ. 600. The Lex is supposed to come from 717-9.

6 Brunner, op. cit. i. 313; Schroder, op. cit. 239. Edited by Merkel in M. G. This is now ascribed to the years 739-48.

It is only in the Karolingian age that written law appears among the northern and eastern folks of Germany, the Frisians, the Saxons, the Angli and Warni of Thuringia, the Franks of Hamaland.1 To a much later time must we regretfully look for the oldest monuments of Scandinavian law.2 Only two of our " heptarchic " kingdoms leave us law, Kent and Wessex, though we have reason to believe that Offa the Mercian (ob. 796) legislated.3 Even Northumbria, Bede's Northumbria, which was a bright spot in a dark world, bequeaths no dooms. The impulse of Roman example soon wore out. When once a race has its Lex, its aspirations seem to be satisfied. About the year 900 Alfred speaks as though Offa (circ. 800), Ine (circ. 700), JEthelbert (circ. 600) had left him little to do. Rarely upon the mainland was there any authoritative revision of the ancient Leges, though transcribers sometimes modified them to suit changed times, and by so doing have perplexed the task of modern historians. Only among the Lombards, who from the first, despite their savagery, seem to show something that is like a genius for law,* was there steadily progressive legislation. Grimwald (668), Liutprand (713-35), Ratchis (746), and Aistulf (755) added to the edict of Rothari. Not by abandoning, but by developing their own ancient rules, the Lombards were training themselves to be the interpreters and in some sort the heirs of the Roman prudentcs.

As the Frankish realm expanded, there expanded with it a wonderful " system of personal laws." 5 It was a system of racial laws. The Lex Salica, for example, was not the law of a district, it was the law of a race. The Swabian, wherever he might be, lived under his Alamannic law, or, as an expressive phrase tells us, he lived Alamannic law (legem vivere). So Roman law was the law of the Romani. In a famous, if exaggerated sentence, Bishop Agobard of Lyons

1 Brunner, op. cit. i. 340 ff.; Schroder, op. cit. 240 ff. Edited by v. Richthofen and Sohm in M. G.

* K. Maurer, Ueberblick iiber die Geschichte der nordgermanischen Rechtsquellen in v. Holtzendorff, Encyklopadie.

8 Alfred, Introduction, 49, §9 (Liebermann, Gesetze, p. 46).

1 Brunner, op. cit. i. 370; Schroder, op. cit. 235.

' Brunner, op. cit. i. 259; Schroder, op. cit. 225; Esmein, op. cit. 57.

has said that often five men would be walking or sitting together and each of them would own a different law.1 We are now taught that this principle is not primitively Germanic. Indeed in England, where there were no Romani, it never came to the front, and, for example, " the Danelaw " very rapidly became the name for a tract of land.2 But in the kingdoms founded by Goths and Burgundians the intruding Germans were only a small part of the population, the bulk of which was Gallo-Roman, and the barbarians, at least in show, had made their entry as subjects or allies of the emperor. It was natural then that the Romani should live their old law, and, as we have seen, their rulers were at pains to supply them with books of Roman law suitable to an age which would bear none but the shortest of law-books. It is doubtful whether the Salian Franks made from the first any similar concession to the provincials whom they subdued; but, as they spread over Gaul, always retaining their own Lex Salica, they allowed to the conquered races the right that they claimed for themselves. Their victorious career gave the principle an always wider scope. At length they carried it with them into Italy and into the very city of Rome. It would seem that among the Lombards, the Romani were suffered to settle their own disputes by their own rules, but Lombard law prevailed between Roman and Lombard. However, when Charles the Great vanquished Desi-derius and made himself king of the Lombards, the Frankish system of personal law found a new field. A few years afterwards (800) a novel Roman empire was established. One of the immediate results of this many-sided event was that Roman law ceased to be the territorial law of any part of the lands that had become subject to the so-called Roman Emperor. Even in Rome it was reduced to the level of a personal or racial law, while in northern Italy there were many Swabians who lived Alamannic, of Franks who lived

1 Agobardi Opera, Migne, Patrol, vol. 104, col. 116: "Nam plerumque contmgit ut simul eant aut sedeant quinque homines et nullus eorum communem legem cum altero habeat."

Stubbs, Constit. Hist. i. 216. See, however, Dahn, Konige der Oermanen, vii. (3), p. 1 ff.

Salic or Ripuarian law, besides the Lombards.1 In the future the renovatio imperil was to have a very different effect. If the Ottos and Henries were the successors of Augustus, Constantine, and Justinian, then Code and Digest were Kaiscrrecht, statute law for the renewed empire. But some centuries were to pass before this theory would be evolved, and yet other centuries before it would practically mould the law of Germany. Meanwhile Roman law was in Rome itself only the personal law of the Romani.

A system of personal laws implies rules by which a " conflict of laws " may be appeased, and of late years many of the international or intertribal rules of the Frankish realm have been recovered.2 We may see, for example, that the law of the slain, not that of the slayer, fixes the amount of the wergild, and that the law of the grantor prescribes the ceremonies with which land must be conveyed. We see that legitimate children take their father's, bastards their mother's law. We see also that the churches, except some which are of royal foundation, are deemed to live Roman law, and in Italy, though not in Frankland, the rule that the individual cleric lives Roman law seems to have been gradually adopted.3 This gave the clergy some interest in the old system. But German and Roman law were making advances towards each other. If the one was becoming civilized, the other had been sadly barbarized, or rather vulgarized. North of the Alps the current Roman law regarded Alaric's Lex as its chief authority. In Italy Justinian's Institutes and Code and Julian's epitome of the Novels were known, and someone may sometimes have opened a copy of the Digest. But everywhere the law administered among the Romani seems to have been in the main a traditional, customary law which paid little heed to written texts. It was, we are told, ein romisches Vulgarrccht, which stood to pure Roman law in the same relation as that in which the vulgar Latin or Romance that people talked stood to the literary language.4 Not a few of the rules and ideas which

1 Brunner, op. cit. i. 260. 2 Ibid. 261 ff.

" Brunner, op. cit. i. 269; Loning, op. cit. ii. 284.

• Brunner, op. cit. i. 255.

were generally prevalent in the West had their source in this low Roman law. In it starts the history of modern conveyancing. The Anglo-Saxon " land-book " is of Italian origin.J That England produces no formulary books, no books of " precedents in conveyancing," such as those which in considerable numbers were compiled in Frankland,2 is one of the many signs that even this low Roman law had no home here; but neither did our forefathers talk low Latin.

In the British India of to-day we may see, and on a grand scale, what might well be called a system of personal laws, of racial laws 3 If we compared it with the Frankish, one picturesque element would be wanting. Suppose that among the native races there was one possessed of an old law-book, too good for it, too good for us, which gradually, as men studied it afresh, would begin to tell of a very ancient but eternally modern civilization and of a skilful jurisprudence which the lawyers of the ruling race would some day make their model. This romance of history will not repeat itself.

During the golden age of the Frankish supremacy, the age which closely centres round the year 800, there was a good deal of definite legislation: much more than there was to be in the bad time that was coming. The king or emperor issued capitularies (capitula).* Within a sphere which can not be readily defined he exercised a power of laying commands upon all his subjects, and so of making new territorial law for his whole realm or any part thereof; but in principle any change in the law of one of the folks would require that folk's consent. A superstructure of capitularies might be reared, but the Lex of a folk was not easily alterable. In 1827 Ansegis, Abbot of St. Wan-drille, collected some of the capitularies into four books.5 His work seems to have found general acceptance, though it shows that many capitularies were speedily forgotten and

Brunner, Zur Rechtsgeschichte der rbmischen und germanischen Urkunde, i. 187.

1 Brunner, D. R. G. i. 401; Schroder, op. cit. 254. Edited in M. G. by Zeumer; also by E. de Roziere, Recueil general des formules.

* The comparison has occurred to M. Esmein, op. cit. 56. . * Brunner, op cit. i. 374; Schroder, op. cit. 247; Esmein, op. cit. 116. Edited in M. G. by Boretius and Krause; previously by Pertz.

Brunner, op. cit. i. 382; Schroder, op. cit. 251; Esmein, op. cit. 117.

that much of the Karolingian legislation had failed to produce a permanent effect. Those fratricidal wars were beginning. The legal products which are to be characteristic of this unhappy age are not genuine laws; they are the forged capitularies of Benedict the Levite and the false decretals of the Pseudo-Isidore.

Slowly and by obscure processes a great mass of ecclesiastical law had been forming itself. It rolled, if we may so speak, from country to country and took up new matter into itself as it went, for bishop borrowed from bishop and transcriber from transcriber. Oriental, African, Spanish, Gallican canons were collected into the same book, and the decretal letters of later were added to those of earlier popes. Of the Dionysiana, we have already spoken. Another celebrated collection seems to have taken shape in the Spain of the seventh century; it has been known as the Hispana or Isidoriana,1 for without sufficient warrant it has been attributed to that St. Isidore of Seville (ob. 636), whose Origines 2 served as an encyclopaedia of jurisprudence and all other sciences. The Hispana made it sway into France, and it seems to have already comprised some spurious documents before it came to the hands of the most illustrious of all forgers.

Then out of the depth of the ninth century emerged a book which was to give law to mankind for a long time to come. Its core was the Hispana; but into it there had been foisted, besides other forgeries, some sixty decretals professing to come from the very earliest successors of St. Peter. The compiler called himself Isidorus Mercator; he seems to have tried to personate Isidore of Seville. Many guesses have been made as to his name and time and home. It seems certain that he did his work in Frankland and near the middle of the ninth century. He has been sought as far west as le Mans, but suspicion hangs thickest over the church

1 Maassen, op. cit. i. 667 ff.; Tardif, op. cit. 117. Printed in Migne, Patrol, vol. 84.

2 For the Roman law of the Origines, see Conrat, op. cit. i. 150. At first or second hand this work was used by the author of our Leges Henrici.. That the learned Isidore knew nothing of Justinian's books seems to be proved, and this shows that they were not current in Spain.

of Reims. The false decretals are elaborate mosaics made up out of phrases from the bible, the fathers, genuine canons, genuine decretals, the West Goth's Roman law-book; but all these materials, wherever collected, are so arranged as to establish a few great principles: the grandeur and superhuman origin of ecclesiastical power, the sacrosanctity of the persons and the property of bishops, and, though this is not so prominent, the supremacy of the bishop of Rome. Episcopal rights are to be maintained against the chore-piscopi, against the metropolitans, and against the secular power. Above all (and this is the burden of the song), no accusation can be brought against a bishop so long as he is despoiled of his see: Spoliatus episcopus ante omnia debet restitui.

Closely connected with this fraud was another. Someone who called himself a deacon of the church of Mainz and gave his name as Benedict, added to the four books of capitularies, which Ansegis had published, three other books containing would-be, but false, capitularies, which had the same bent as the decretals concocted by the Pseudo-Isidore. These are not the only, but they are the most famous manifestations of the lying spirit which had seized the Frankish clergy. The Isidorian forgeries were soon accepted at Rome.

The popes profited by documents which taught that ever since the apostolic age the bishops of Rome had been declaring, or even making, law for the universal church. On this rock or on this sand a lofty edifice was reared.1

And now for the greater part of the Continent comes the time when ecclesiastical law is the only sort of law that is visibly growing. The stream of capitularies ceased to flow; there was none to legislate; the Frankish monarchy was going to wreck and ruin ; feudalism was triumphant. Sacerdotalism also was triumphant, and its victories were closely connected with those of feudalism. The clergy had long been striving to place themselves beyond the reach of the state's tribunals. The dramatic struggle between Henry II

'The Decretales Pseudo-Isidorianae were edited by Hinschius in 1863. See also Tardif, op. cit. 133 ff. j Conrat, op. cit. i. 299; Brunner, op. cit i. 384.

and Becket has a long Frankish prologue. * Some concessions had been won from the Merovingians; but still Charles the Great had been supreme over all persons and in all causes. Though his realm fell asunder, the churches were united, and united by a principle that claimed a divine origin. They were rapidly evolving law which was in course of time to be the written law of an universal and theocratic monarchy. The mass, now swollen by the Isidorian forgeries, still rolled from diocese to diocese, taking up new matter into itelf. It became always more lawycrly in form and texture as it appropriated sentences from the Roman law-books and made itself the law of the only courts to which the clergy would yield obedience. Nor was it above borrowing from Germanic law, for thence it took its probative processes, the oath with oath-helpers and the ordeal or judgment of God. Among the many compilers of manuals of church law three are especially famous: Rcgino, abbot of Prum (906-915) ;2 Burch-ard, bishop of Worms (1012-1023);3 and Ivo, bishop of Chartres (ob. 1117).4 They and many others prepared the way for Gratian, the maker of the church's Digest, .and events were deciding that the. church should also have a Code and abundant Novels. In an evil day for themselves the German kings took the papacy from the mii'e into which it had fallen, and soon the work of issuing decretals was resumed with new vigour. At the date of the Norman Conquest the flow of these edicts was becoming rapid.

Historians of French and German law find that a well-marked period is thrust upon them. The age of the folk-laws and the capitularies, " the Frankish time," they can restore. Much indeed is dark and disputable; but much has been made plain during the last thirty years by their unwearying labour. There is no lack of materials, and the materials are of a strictly legal kind: laws and statements of law. This done, they are compelled rapidly to pass through several centuries to a new point of view. They

1 Hinschius, op. cit. iv. 849 ff.

8 Tardif, op. cit. 162. Printed in Migne, Patrol, vol. 132; also edited by Wasserschleben, 1840.

8 Ibid. 164. Printed in Migne, Patrol, vol. 140. 4 Ibid. 1TO. Printed in Migne, Patrol, vol. 161.

take their stand in the thirteenth among law-books which have the treatises of Glanvill and Bracton for their English equivalents. It is then a new world that they paint for us. To connect this new order with the old, to make the world of " the classical feudalism "1 grow out of the world of the folk-laws is a task which is being slowly accomplished by skilful hands; but it is difficult, for, though materials are not wanting, they are not of a strictly legal kind; they are not laws, nor law-books, nor statements of law. The intervening, the dark age, has been called " the diplomatic age," whereb}7 is meant that its law must be hazardously inferred from diplomata, from charters, from conveyances, from privileges accorded to particular churches or particular towns. No one legislates. The French historian will tell us that the last capitularies which bear the character of general laws are issued by Carloman II in 884, and that the first legislative ordonnance is issued by Louis VII in 1155.2 Germany and France were coming to the birth, and the agony was long. Long it was questionable whether the western world would not be overwhelmed by Northmen and Saracens and Magyars; perhaps we are right in saying that it was saved by feudalism. 3 Meanwhile the innermost texture of human society was being changed; local customs were issuing from and then consuming the old racial laws.

Strangely different, at least upon its surface, is our English story. The age of the capitularies (for such we well might call it) begins with us just when it has come to its end upon the Continent. We have had some written laws from the newly converted Kent and Wessex of the seventh century. We have heard that in the day of Mercia's greatness Offa (ob. 796), influenced perhaps by the example of Charles the Great, had published laws. These we have lost; but we have no reason to fear that we have lost much else. Even Egbert did not legislate. The silence was broken by

1 We borrow ffodalite classique from M. Flach: Les origines de 1'ancienne France, ii. 551.

K '^Esrnein, op. cit. 48T-8; Viollet, op. cit. 152. Schroder, op. cit. 624: Vom 10. bis 12. Jahrlnindert ruhte die Gesetzgebung fast ganz . . . Es war die Zeit der Alleinherrschaft des Gewohnheitsrechts." ' Oman, The Dark Ages, 511.

Alfred, and then we have laws from almost every king: from Edward, JSthelstan, Edmund, Edgar, JSthelred, and Cnut. The age of the capitularies begins with Alfred, and in some sort it never ends, for William the Conqueror and Henry I take up the tale.1 Whether in the days of the Confessor, whom a perverse, though explicable, tradition honoured as a pre-eminent lawgiver, we were not on the verge of an age without legislation, an age which would but too faithfully reproduce some bad features of the Frankish decadence, is a question that is not easily answered. How-beit, Cnut had published in England a body of laws which, if regard be had to its date, must be called a handsome code. If he is not the greatest legislator of the eleventh century, we must go as far as Barcelona to find his peer.2 He had been to Rome; he had seen an emperor crowned by a pope; but it was not outside England that he learnt to legislate. He followed a fashion set by Alfred. We might easily exaggerate both the amount of new matter that was contained in these English capitularies and the amount of information that they give us; but the mere fact that Alfred sets, and that his successors, and among them the conquering Dane, maintain, a fashion of legislating, is of great importance. The Norman subdues, or, as he says, inherits a kingdom in which a king is expected to publish laws.

Were we to discuss the causes of this early divergence of English from continental history we might wander far. In the first place, we should have to remember the small size, the plain surface, the definite boundary of our country. This thought indeed must often recur to us in the course of our work: England is small: it can be governed by uniform law: it seems to invite general legislation. Also we

1 As to the close likeness between the English dooms and the Frankish capitularies, see Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 223. We might easily suppose direct imitation, were it not that much of the Karolingian system was in ruins before Alfred began his work.

* The Usatici Barchinonensis Patriae (printed by Giraud, Histoire du droit francais, ii. 465 ff.) are ascribed to Raymond Berengar I and to the year 1068 or thereabouts. But how large a part of them really comes from him is a disputable question. See Conrat, op. cit. i. 467; Picker, Mittheilungen des Instituts fiir osterreichische Geschichtsfor-schung, 1888, ii. p. 236.

should notice that the kingship of England, when once it exists, preserves its unity: it is not partitioned amo'ng brothers and cousins. Moreover we might find ourselves saying that the Northmen were so victorious in their assaults on our island that they did less harm here than elsewhere. In the end it was better that they should conquer a tract, settle in villages and call the lands by their own names, than that the state should go to pieces in the act of repelling their inroads. Then, again, it would not escape us that a close and confused union between church and state prevented the development of a body of distinctively ecclesiastical law which would stand in contrast with, if not in opposition to, the law of the land.1 Such power had the bishops in all public affairs, that they had little to gain from decretals forged or genuine,2 indeed JEthelred's laws are apt to become mere sermons preached to a disobedient folk. However, we are here but registering the fact that the age of capitularies, which was begun by Alfred, does not end. The English king, be he weak like ^Ethelred or strong like Cnut, is expected to publish laws.

But Italy was to be for a while the focus of the whole world's legal history. For one thing, the thread of legislation was never quite broken there. Capitularies or statutes which enact territorial law came from Karolingian emperors and from Karolingian kings of Italy, and then from the Ottos and later German kings. But what is more important is that the old Lombard law showed a marvellous vitality and a capacity of being elaborated into a reasonable and progressive system. Lombardy was the country in which the principle of personal law struck its deepest roots. Besides Lombards and Romani, there were many Franks and Swabians who transmitted their law from father to son. It was long before the old question Qua lege vivis? lost its importance. The " conflict of laws " seems to have favoured the growth of a mediating and instructed jurisprudence.

'Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 263: "There are few if any records of councils distinctly ecclesiastical held during the tenth century in England."

2 There seem to be traces of the Frankish forgeries in the Worcester book described by Miss Bateson, E. H. R. x. 712 ff. English ecclesiastics were borrowing, and it is unlikely that they escaped contamination.

Then at Pavia, in the first half of the eleventh century, a law-school had arisen. In it men were endeavouring to systematize by gloss and comment the ancient Lombard statutes of Rothari and his successors. The heads of the school were often employed as royal justices (indices palatini) ; their names and their opinions were treasured by admiring pupils. From out this school came Lanfranc. Thus a body of law, which though it had from the first been more neatly expressed than, was in its substance strikingly like, our own old dooms, became the subject of continuous and professional study. The influence of reviving Roman law is not to be ignored. These Lombardists knew their Institutes, and, before the eleventh century was at an end, the doctrine that Roman law was a subsidiary common law for all mankind (lex omnium generalis) was gaining ground among them; but still the law upon which they worked was the old Germanic law of the Lombard race. Pavia handed the lamp to Bologna, Lombardy to the Romagna.1

As to the more or less that was known of the ancient Roman texts there has been learned and lively controversy in these last years.2 But, even if we grant to the champions of continuity all that they ask, the sum will seem small until the eleventh century is reached. That large masses of men in Italy and southern France had Roman law for their personal law is beyond doubt. Also it is certain that Justinian's Institutes and Code and Julian's Epitome of the Novels were beginning to spread outside Italy. There are questions still to be solved about the date and domicile of various small collections of Roman rules which some regard

1 Boretius, Preface to edition of Liber legis Langobardorum, in M. G.; Brunner, op. cit. i. 387 ff.; picker, Forschungen zur Reichs- u. Rechtsgeschichte Italiens, iii. 44 ff., 139 ff.; Conrat, op. cit. i. 393 ff.

2 It is well summed up for English readers by Rashdall, Universities of Europe, i. 89 ff. The chief advocate of a maximum of knowledge has been Dr. Hermann Fitting in Juristische Schriften des friiheren Mittelalters, 18TG, Die Anfiinge der Rcchtsschule zu Bologna, 1888, and elsewhere. He has recently edited a Sumina Codicis (1894) and some Quaestiones de iuris subtilitatibus, both of which lie ascribes to Irnerius. See also Pescatore, Die Glossen des Irnerius, 1888; Mommsen, Preface to two-volume edition of the Digest; Finch, Etudes critiques sur 1'his-taire du droit romain, 1890; Besta, L'Opera d'Irnerio, 1896; Picker, op. cit. vol. iii, and Conrat, op. cit. passim.

as older than or uninfluenced by the work of the Bolognese glossators. One critic discovers evanescent traces of a school of law at Rome or at Ravenna which others cannot see. The current instruction of boys in grammar and rhetoric involved some discussion of legal terms. Definitions of lex and ius and so forth were learnt by heart; little catechisms were compiled;1 but of anything that we should dare to call an education in Roman law there are few, if any, indisputable signs before the school of Bologna appears in the second half of the eleventh century. As to the Digest, during some four hundred years its mere existence seems to have been almost unknown. It barely escaped with its life. When men spoke of " the pandects " they meant the Bible.2 The romantic fable of the capture of an unique copy at the siege of Amalfi in 1135 has long been disproved; but, if some small fragments be neglected, all the extant manuscripts are said to derive from two copies, one now lost, the other the famous Florentina, written, we are told, by Greek hands in the sixth or seventh century. In the eleventh the revival began. In 1038 Conrad II, the emperor whom Cnut saw crowned, ordained that Roman law should be once more the territorial law of the city of Rome.3 In 1076 the Digest was cited in the judgment of a Tuscan court.4 Then, about 1100, Irnerius was teaching at Bologna.5

Here, again, there is room for controversy. It is said that he was not self-taught; it is said that neither his theme nor his method was quite new; it is said that he had a predecessor at Bologna, one Pepo by name. All this may be true and is probable enough: and yet undoubtedly he was soon regarded as the founder of the school which was

1 See E. J. Tardif, Extraits et abreges iuridiques des etymologies d'Isidore de Seville, 1896.

2 Conrat, op. cit. i. 65.

'M. G. Leges, ii. 40; Conrat, op. cit. i. 62.

•Picker, Forschungen, iii. 126, iv. 99; Conrat, op. cit. 67. Apparently the most industrious research has failed to prove that between 603 and 1076 any one cited the Digest. The bare fact that Justinian had issued such a book seems to have vanished from memorv. Conrat, op. cit. i. 69. .

^5In dated documents Irnerius (his name seems to have really been Warnerius, Guarnerius) appears in 1113 and disappears in 1125. The University of Bologna kept 1888 as its octocentenary.

teaching Roman law to an intently listening world. We with our many sciences can hardly comprehend the size of this event. The monarchy of theology over the intellectual world was disputed. A lay science claimed its rights, its share of men's attention. It was a science of civil life to be found in the human heathen Digest:1

A new force had begun to play, and sooner or later every body of law in western Europe felt it. The challenged church answered with Gratian's Decretum (circ. 1139) and the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234). The canonist emulated the civilian, and for a long while maintained in the field of jurisprudence what seemed to be an equal combat. Unequal it was in truth. The Decretum is sad stuff when set beside the Digest, and the study of Roman law never dies. When it seems to be dying it always returns to the texts and is born anew. It is not for us here to speak of its new birth in the France of the sixteenth or in the Germany of the nineteenth century; but its new birth in the Italy of the eleventh and twelfth concerns us nearly. Transient indeed but all-important was the influence of the Bologna of Irnerius and Gratian upon the form, and therefore upon the substance, of our English law. The theoretical continuity or " translation" of the empire, which secured for Justinian's books their hold upon Italy, and, though after a wide interval, upon Germany also, counted for little in France or in England. In England, again, there was no mass of Romani, of people who all along had been living Roman law of a degenerate and vulgar sort and who would in course of time be taught to look for their law to Code and Digest. Also there was no need in England for that reconstitution de I'unite nationale which fills a large space in schemes of French history, and in which, for good and ill, the Roman texts gave their powerful aid to the centripetal and monarchical forces. In England the new learning found

1 Esmein, op. cit. 347: " Une science nouvelle naquit, independante et la'ique, la science de la societe civile, telle que 1'avaient degagee les Remains, et qui pouvait passer pour le chef-d'oeuvre de la sagesse humaine ... II en resulta qu'a c6te du theologien se placa le legiste qui avait, comme lui, ses principes et ses textes, et qui lui disputa la direction des esprits avides de savoir."

a small, well conquered, much governed kingdom, a strong, a legislating kingship. It came to us soon; it taught us much; and then there was healthy resistance to foreign dogma. But all this we shall see in the sequel.



nnHE epoch in which the states of Western Europe are now JL living, has a history and a unity of its own, and is peculiarly suitable as material for the study we are about to undertake. It is our own epoch, we know more about it than we know of any other, it appeals more powerfully to us than any other, we have inherited its traditions, we breathe its ideas. Dispute as we may about the details, we know that the Roman Empire fell as a political power, that the sceptre of Western Europe passed from the Roman to the Teuton. That the influence of Rome long overshadowed the new forces which took her place, may be readily admitted; the Teuton did not begin to write history on a clean sheet. But the child who starts by copying his letters, in time proceeds to make letters of his own; and if Clovis and his successors were fond of wearing the cast off clothes of the Ca?sars, they none the less set a new fashion of wearing them. Nowhere is this truth more abundantly clear than in the history of Teutonic law. Alongside of the elaborate system which generations of Roman

1 This passage is extracted from " Law and Politics in the Middle Ages," 1898, cc. I, II, pp. 6-55, and Appendix, pp. 321-326 (New York: Henry Holt & Co.).

2 Principal and Director of Legal Studies of the Law Society of London. B. A., LL. B. King's College, Cambridge; M. A. Oxford and Cambridge; D. C. L. Oxford; Lecturer at Pembroke and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge, 1888-1889; Dean of the Faculty of Law, Melbourne, 1889-1895; Professor of Law in University College, Liverpool, 1892-189G; Reader in English Law, and Lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford, 1896-1903.

Other Publications: Constitutional Experiments of tne Commonwealth, 1891; The Doctrine of Consideration in English Law, 1893; The Government of Victoria, Australia, 1893; History of the Australasian Colonies, 1896; Outline of English Local Government, 1895; Modern Land Law, 1899; A Short History of Politics, 1902; Edward I, 1902; Parliamentary England, 1903.

jurists had expounded, and Imperial legislators fashioned into shape, there grew up, under totally different circumstances, a group of kindred Teutonic laws, at first utterly incoherent, gradually assuming order and system. It is in these that we trace the growth of the idea of Law.

The oldest monuments of Teutonic legal history have received the name of Leges Barbarorum. But the title is apt to be misleading. Even in the Frank kingdoms, where the conscious imitation of Rome was strongest, there is at first no attempt at legislation in the modern sense. Beyond doubt the Leges were, in most cases, the work of kings, to the extent that they were drawn up by royal direction, and published under royal auspices. Quite possibly, too, the kings who collected them took the opportunity of modifying certain details during the process. But the notion of the king, i. e. the State, as the source of legislation, is yet far distant. Several of these codes profess to give their own account of the way in which they were drawn up; and, in spite of all the criticism which has been directed against the more extravagant pretensions of the so-called historical school, there can be little doubt that these accounts contain a large element of truth. The famous Lex Salica, the custumal of the race which became overlords of half Western Europe, contains a prologue which, though doubtless of later date than the first redaction of the custumal itself, is yet of great antiquity, and which describes the collection of the origincs causarum by four chosen men (whose names and districts are given) after lengthy discussions with the judices, or presidents of the local assemblies. The first Burgundian code (early sixth century), known as the Lex Gundobada, describes itself as a " definition," and is confirmed by the seals of thirty-one counts. The oldest code of the Alamanni, no longer extant in a complete form, is known by the suggestive title of Pactu-s or Agreement ; while the extant edition, dating from the early years of the eighth century, professes to have been drawn up by the king, with the aid of thirty-three bishops, thirty-four dukes, seventy-two counts, and a great multitude of people. The Anglo-Saxon kings describe themselves as " setting" (dsettan), "fastening" (gefastnode), or "securing"

(getrymede) their laws.1 Owing to the scantiness of external evidence, it is impossible to assert with confidence the precise character of the process adopted in the earliest times. But a curious story preserved by the Saxon annalist Widukind 2 shows that, even in the tenth century, and under so powerful a monarch as Otto the Great, Law was regarded as a truth to be discovered, not as a command to be imposed. The question was, whether the children of a deceased person ought to share in the inheritance of their grandfather, along with their uncles. It was proposed that the matter should be examined by a general assembly convoked for the purpose. But the king was unwilling that a question concerning the difference of laws should be settled by an appeal to numbers. So he ordered a battle by champions; and, victory declaring itself for the party which represented the claims of the grandchildren, the law was solemnly declared in that sense. The original proposal would have been an appeal to custom; but the plan actually adopted reveals the thought, that even custom is not conclusive proof, that Law is a thing which exists independently of human agency, and is discoverable only in the last resort by an appeal to supernatural authority.

There is one circumstance connected with the compilation of the Laws of the Barbarians which is specially suggestive of influences leading to the dcvelopemcnt of rudimentary ideas of Law. By far the most important of these codes are directly connected with migrations and conquests. The-Teutonic settlements west of the Rhine were the first to produce compilations of Teutonic law, and it may be, and indeed is, often asserted, that this fact is due to the example of the Code of Theodosius, the great monument of Roman jurisprudence which confronted the invaders of the Empire. But the real epoch of law-producing activity coincides closely with the conquering careers of Charles Martel, Pepin the Short, and Charles the Great. During this period are produced the Laws of the Alamanni, the Bavarians, the Frisians, the Thuringians, and the Saxons. In England, the Anglo-Saxon migrations give rise to a scanty crop of laws; but

'Sohmid, Oesetze der Anyelsachsen, ed 2. Jlthelbirt, p. 2, Ine. p. 20. 2Widukind, Annales (Mon. Germ., SS. fo. iii. p. 440).

the real activity comes with the conquests by the Danes. On the other hand, in Scandinavia, of all Teutonic countries the most isolated, the oldest extant code dates from the end of the twelfth century or the beginning of the thirteenth. The fact is an illustration of the great principle, that mixture or, at least, contact of races is essential to progress. The discovery of differences is needed to stimulate thought and produce coherence. Resistance and attack are alike provocative of definition. The conqueror wishes to enforce his customs upon his new subjects. He must needs explain what they are. The conquered demand the retention of their ancient practices. They are compelled to formulate their claims. So it is when Charles the Great conquers Western Europe. So it is again when William conquers the English, when the English conquer India, when Napoleon conquers Germany.

This fact will, perhaps, help to account for one feature of the Leges Barbarorum which has often puzzled readers of them. They omit so many things that we should consider important; and they relate in minute detail matters which seem to us trivial. But, if we remember that the process which produced them was probably a very troublesome one, we shall be inclined to think that their compilers only recorded what was absolutely necessary. And this comprised just those points which the processes of migration and conquest had rendered doubtful. The ancient custom had received a shock; men doubted how far some of its terms would apply to new conditions. Even very modern systems of law frequently omit all mention of rules which are really fundamental. No statute, no recorded decision of an English law court, says that a man may destroy a chattel which belongs to him. Why should it? No one doubts the fact, Much less does a primitive code trouble itself about theoretical completeness. Law is the expression, of order and settled rule; but it is none the less true that the law came because of offences, that is, because of variations from existing rule. And it is to law-breakers, paradox as it may sound, that the progress of law is due; for what we call Progress is simply the attempt of the individual to extend his freedom of action

beyond those bounds which have hitherto been deemed inexorable. The criminal and the reformer are alike law-breakers. The criminal is the man who endeavours to return to a state of things which society has once practised, but has condemned as the result of experience. The murderer, the thief, the bigamist, are unfortunate survivals from a bygone age. The reformer is the man who advocates what society has hitherto deemed unlawful, because it has not been tried. And so, when we read our Barbarian Codes, and find that they say a good deal about summoning to courts, about rules of inheritance, about foul language, and a very great deal about money compensation for acts of violence, we shall begin dimly to picture to ourselves an older state of things, in which differences of opinion were settled by clubs and spears, in which (whatever the reason) a dead man's belongings did not pass to his relatives, in which the most virulent abuse was common pleasantry, and in which the blood feud, itself, doubtless, a step towards better things, was treated as a fine art.

Many other features of the Leges Barbarorum deserve to be noticed; but space forbids the mention of more than one. They are laws of peoples, not of places. Even during the later Middle Ages, even in our own day, the principle, that all persons living in a certain place are subject to the law of that place, has to submit to substantial exceptions. In the days which followed the downfall of the Roman Empire, the principle was not recognized at all. The provincials of Gaul, at the time of the Teutonic invasions, lived under a great and uniform system, devised by the jurists and officials of the Roman empire, and embodied in the Theo-dosian Code and other monuments. The invaders had no thought of depriving them of this privilege. They did indeed, in some cases, publish special codes for their Roman subjects; and so we get a Lex Romana Wisigothorum, a Lex Romana Burgundionum and (possibly) a Lex Romana Curi-ensis. But it seems again probable, that these compilations are merely attempts to settle inevitable conflicts of legal principles; and, in any case, it is worthy of notice that they are full of references to the Theodosian Code, the Sentences

of Paulus, the Lex Aquilia, and other purely Roman sources.1 Amongst the Teutonic populations of the north and east, the question of the provincials would, for obvious reasons, be less important; but the curious reference in the Lex Salica to the man qui legem salicam vivit,2 seems to indicate a similar principle. For slightly later days, the matter is set at rest by the decree of Chlothar II. — " We have ordained that the conduct of cases between Romans shall be decided by the Roman Laws."

It is not to be supposed, that the invaders accorded to the provincials a principle which they denied to themselves. In truth, it is somewhat difficult to see how migratory groups could arrive at the notion of a lex terra;, unless they were prepared to change their customs with each migration. A great and luminous critic, the late M. Fustcl de Coulanges, has, indeed, attempted to deny the occurrence of a migratory epoch, or Volkerzvanderung, as well as the recognition of racial differences by the barbarians.3 But, as the same learned historian gives an excellent account of at least a score of new German settlements, hostile or friendly, with the Empire,4 the first question resolves itself into one of figures; while his elaborate attempt to prove that the terms Franci and Romani are names of ranks rather than of races," would seem, if successful, to point to the fact that the Teutons settled down as an aristocracy upon the enslaved provincials — a doctrine which is M. Fustel's pet aversion. Certain it is, that the barbarians themselves clearly recognized the principle of the personality of laws. The oldest part of the Lex Ribuaria (Tit. 31) contains the following conclusive passage : — " This also we determine, that a Frank, a Burgun-dian, an Alamann, or in whatever nation he shall have dwelt, when accused in court in the Ribuarian country, shall answer according to the law of the place where he was born. And

1 Lex Romana Burgundionum, Titt. I. (3), IV. (3), V. (2), XIX. (2), etc.

'Lex Salica, Tit. XLI. (1).

3 Fustel de Coulanges, L'Invasion Germanique, pp. 340 and 513.

4 Ibid., Bk. II. capp. iv.-x.

5 Fustel de Coulanges, L'Invasion Oermanique, pp. 340 and 543. (Nouvelles Recherches, pp. 561, sqq.).

if he be condemned, he shall bear the loss, not according to Ribuarian law, but according to his own law." Doubtless, even here, we may see foreshadowings of those influences which are soon to localize law. Doubtless, the mixing of races is rendering genealogical questions difficult, and we seem almost to discover a period in which a man may claim to live according to any law, may make any profcssio juris, that he likes, provided he does it in the proper way. But this is only a concession to practical difficulties. Law is at first as much personal as is religion; and a profession of law is much like a profession of faith.

The second stage in the history of Teutonic Law is, apparently, very modern in character. It looks like positive political legislation, as we understand it at the present day. The Capitularies of the Karolingian House, and of the Bene-ventine Princes, the statutes and edicts of the Lombard kings and dukes, and even some of the Dooms of the Anglo-Saxon kings, are alleged to be examples of this kind. But here we come upon one of the great sources of error in medieval history. The Frank Empire, in both its stages, was, in a very important sense, a sham Empire. It aimed at reproducing the elaborate and highly organized machinery of the Roman State. Just as a party of savages will disport themselves in the garments of a shipwrecked crew, so the Mcro-wingian and Karolingian kings and officials decked themselves with the titles, the prerogatives, the documents, of the Imperial State. No doubt the wisest of them, such as Charles the Great, had a deliberate policy in so doing. But the majority seem to have been swayed simply by vanity, or ambition, or admiration. Their punishment was the downfall of the Frank Empire; but they might have been consoled for their failure, could they have looked forward a thousand years, and seen their pretensions gravely accepted by learned historians on the faith of documents pillaged from the Imperial chancery, which they scattered abroad without understanding their contents. The Frank Empire was, from first to last, a great anachronism. With a genuine civilization equal in degree to that of their kindred in Britain and Scandinavia, the Germans of continental Europe found them-

selves called upon to live up to the elaborate civilization of the Roman Empire. They broke down under the strain ; and their breakdown is the first great tragedy in modern history, the parent of many tragedies to follow. Those who doubt the possibility of such an explanation, may be referred to the " Parliaments" and " Cabinets" of Samoa, and to the " Polynesian Empire."

Now one of the most splendid prerogatives of the Roman Emperor was his power of legislation. Quite naturally, his imitators, the Frankish kings and emperors, strove to exercise it. Hence the Capitula, or royal and imperial edicts, which, at any rate for some time, no doubt played a great part in the history of Teutonic law. The difficult questions connected with them have been acutely discussed by competent critics, who are not by any means unanimous.1 But one or two results seem clear.

The Capitula are distinguishable from the Leges. They emanate directly from royal authority, they deal with less important matters, they have, probably, a less permanent effect. In the pure type of Capitulary, the Capitula per se scribenda, there is no pretence of collecting the law from the mouth of the people. Many of them are mere directions to royal officials. The great Capitulare de Villis, the equally important Capitulare de Justitns Facicndis, of Charles the Great, are of this character. It is very doubtful if the Capitula of one king- bound his successors; for we frequently find almost verbatim repetitions by successive monarchs. On the other hand, some of the Capitula are legibus addita — incorporated by general consent with, and treated thenceforward as part of, a Lex, or custumal. Many of these are now so embedded in the texts of the Leges, that it requires a trained eye to detect them. Others, like the great Capitulare Saxonicum of the year 797, declare openly their origin, and testify to the premature appearance of an idea which is, ultimately, to revolutionize law, the idea that the king

1 Cf. Boretius, Beitraye zur CapituJarienkritik. F. de Coulanges, De la confection des lots aw temps des Carolingiens (Xouvelles Recherches). M. Thevenin, Lex el Capitula (Biblioth'eque de 1'Ecole des Hautes Etudes, 18T8, fasc. 35, p. 137, sqq.).

proposes new laws, and the people accept them. A large number of Saxons, gathered together from divers pagi, Westphalian and Eastphalian, unanimously consent to the adoption of the Frankish Capitula, with certain modifications.

Moreover, the Capitula are of great importance in stimulating the new idea that Law is territorial, for the Capitula of a monarch bound all within his realm, or such part of it as the Capitula might specify. We are obliged to suppose, also, that they secured practical obedience, at least during the better days of the Frank monarchy; for they were twice collected in a convenient form, once by the Abbot Ansegis in the year 827, again, with daring interpolations, by the so-called Benedict, some twenty years later.

But, it must be repeated, the Capitularies are hothouse plants, due to the stimulus of Roman ideals. The monuments of the purely German countries which resemble them in name, e. g. the Decrees of the Bavarian Tassilo, turn out, on inspection, to be true Leges, produced or, at least, accepted by a popular assembly under Frankish influence. The Anglo-Saxon Dooms are really declarations of folk-law by Clan chiefs, acting as mouthpieces of their clans, at least until Ecgberht has brought back imperial notions from the court of Charles the Great. In isolated Scandinavia, there is no trace of royal legislation at this period. And when the Frank empire falls to pieces in the ninth century, it will be long before the kings who rise up out of its ruins claim the power to make laws. If we leave England out of sight, there is an almost unbroken silence in the history of Teutonic law during the tenth and eleventh centuries. The Roman Empire, real and fictitious, is dead, and, with it, the idea of legislation, if not of Law. When the idea revives again, in the prospering France of the thirteenth century, we find the legists asserting the royal power of legislation in maxims which are simply translations of the texts of Roman Law. " That which pleases him " (the king) " to do, must be held for law," says Bcaumanoir. A century later, Boutcillier is careful to explain that the king may make laws, qui est em-pereur en son royaume.

And now, if we are asked the question — Did men during those tenth and eleventh centuries live without Law ? — the answer we must give is, that they mostly did, and that evil were the results. In the far south-west, where the Visigothic settlers had been crushed out of existence between the Saracens and the provincials, in Acquitaine, Gascony, Navarre, and Provence, the old Roman Law had remained the everyday law of the people. This is the country of the Langue d'Oc, the later pays de droit ecrit. But, elsewhere, the old Empire of Charles the Great had become a country of what the Germans call Sondcrrecht; each little district had its own special law. For this was just the epoch of feudalism, and the political unit was no longer the clan, or the people, but the fief, the district under the control of a seigneur, or lord. Of the place of feudalism in political history, we shall have to speak when we deal with the State; here we are concerned only with its influence on notions of Law.

The feudal seigneur derived his powers from two sources. On the one hand, he represented a little bit of the imperial authority of Charles the Great, which had, so to speak, set up for itself. This is the true droit seigncurial. On the other hand, he had become, not merely lord, but proprietor of his district, and, in this character, he exercised droit 'fonder. He might claim seigneurial rights over land in which he had ceased to have property; and he might be merely proprietor of land of which another was seigneur, although in this case he was hardly a feudal lord. Again, his claims as seigneur might be more or less extensive; he might be duke, count, baron, or simply seigneur justicier. He might claim High, Middle, or Low Justice. But the principle in any case was, that he administered the law of the fief, not the law of the land, or the king, or the people. If there is a dispute as to what this law is, we must go, as Bouteillier tells us, to the greffe, or register of the court of the fief. If this is silent on the point, we must call the men of the fief together, and hold an enquete par tourbe, an enquiry by the multitude.1

lLa Somme Rurale (eel Le Caron), Bk. I. Tit. 2.

This state of things, the result of the total breakdown of the Frankish scheme of government, had certain well-marked effects on the history of Law. In the first place, it stamps Law definitely as a local institution. Agriculture is .almost the sole industry of the period. To pursue agriculture, one must occupy land; to rule agriculturists, one must rule them through their land. Feudalism expressed itself through land-holding ; it was a military system with land as the reward of service.

So, too, the peculiar character of the Fief led up to the famous, but much misunderstood doctrine, of judicium per pares, "judgement by peers." The personal nature of the tie between lord and man forbade the hypothesis that any general rules would cover the terms of relationship. Therefore, the vassal demanded to be tried by the special law of his fief. The contractual character of the feudal bond enabled him to refuse to leave himself entirely at the mercy of the lord as sole judge. Besides, the question might be between a vassal and the lord himself; and the lord could hardly be judge in his own cause. So the principle was firmly established, that the feudal court, at least in the case of freemen, is a court in which the lord is merely president, and the pares, or homage, i. e. the men of the same fief, are judges. These are totally different in character from the modern jury, with which they arc often confused. The modern jury takes its law from the judge, and finds the truth of the facts. The pares declared the law, i. c. the rule of the fief; and left the facts to be settled by some formal process. Trial by jury gives, in fact, where it is successful, the death blow to trial by peers.

Once more, the law of the Fief is the law of a court. The power of holding a court was not the only privilege which the feudal seigneur inherited from the days of Charles the Great. But it was the one he valued most, because it brought him in a steady revenue, in fees and fines, and enabled him to keep an eye on what was happening among his vassals. Moreover, long after the military, the fiscal, and the administrative powers of the seigneur had disappeared or become unimportant, his judiciary powers remained almost intact.

So feudal law is essentially a law of courts. No doubt, certain general principles run through it all, and, later on, we shall see attempts, such as the Libri Feudorum, to state these in a universal form. No doubt, the right of appeal from lord to overlord tended to produce a certain uniformity in wide areas. But these appearances are apt to be delusive. The ideal type of feudal law is that so graphically depicted in the works which pass under the title of the Assises de Jerusalem, and which profess to describe the usages of that curious product of the Crusades, the Latin kingdoms of Palestine. These are divided into the Assises of the High and of the Low or Burgess Court respectively. Each court has its own law.

The results of this fact are not very easy to describe; but very important to understand. The law of a court, as opposed to the law declared by a king or a popular assembly, will be hesitating, very deferential to precedent, not always very consistent, delighting in small shades of difference, difficult to discover. These are the special characteristics of true feudal law. Where we find bold principles, simplicity, uniformity, in so-called feudal law — for example, in English law of the thirteenth century — we may be very sure that some alien influence has been at work.

Finally, the feudalism of law is responsible for one more result of great importance. Feudal law is for men of fiefs; but all men, even in the palmy days of feudalism, arc not men of fiefs. Priests are not, the rising class of merchants is not, the Jews are not. Yet they must have Law. Leaving the Jews for the present, let us look at the priests and the merchants.

In the early days of the Frank dominion, the churches lived under Roman Law. For one- thing, the Christian Emperors had legislated freely on ecclesiastical matters, long before the Teutons were converted to Christianity; and the Merowingians could hardly venture to meddle with the organization of that mighty power which had destroyed their ancient gods, and done so much to give them the victory over their enemies. For another, the churches were corporations, juristic persons; and it took the Teutonic mind a long time

to grasp the highly complex notion of a corporation.1 No doubt, the individual mass priest of Frankish times lived under his folk-law; but the great foundations of regular clergy, which sprang up so thickly under the fostering care of the orthodox Franks, could find little in the Leges Bar-barorum to meet their case.

As time went on, however, new influences manifested themselves. ' The disappearance of the Emperors from Rome, the schism between Eastern and Western Christianity, left the Popes in a commanding position with regard to the Western Church. They stepped into the place of the Roman Emperor, and issued Decretals which the clergy considered as binding in ecclesiastical matters. From the earliest times, also, General Councils of the Church had met, and had legislated on matters of faith and discipline. Towards the end of the fifth century, a collection of these decrees and resolutions was made by Dionysius Exiguus, and was regarded as of great authority in Church matters. Neither did the Church disdain the help of the secular arm, especially in such delicate matters as tithes and patronage, in which the lay mind might require the use of carnal weapons. The alliance between the earlier Karolingians and the Papal See is marked by the appearance of ecclesiastical Capitula, many of them founded on Con-ciliar resolutions, in which, although the Frank Emperor maintains the royal claims, the Church gets it pretty much her own way.2 Similar documents arc found amongst the Anglo-Saxon laws ;:1 and even the Scandinavian codes have their kirkiubolkfer, or Church Books.4 But ecclesiastical legislation becomes more and more independent as time goes on. A great stimulus is given by the work of the forger who calls himself Isidorus Mercator, which appears in the ninth century; and which incorporates with the work of Dionysius Exiguus some sixty so-called Decretals of more than doubt-

1 On this interesting point, see Gierke, Detitsclien OenHS/tfiisrhnfturerht, and Pollock and Maitland, Ilislory of Kn(/Ii.ili Lair, vol. i. pp. 469-495.

2Ct'. the Capitularies of 802 (a sacerdntibus propositii), of 803-4 (nd S»l~), of 813 (« ('(inonibus cxcerpta), all in Boretius, vol. i. (il. G., tto) pp. 105, 119, 173.

3Cf. Edgar's Laws and Knut's Ecclesiastical Laws, in Schrnid, op. cit., pp. 184 and 250.

*Cf. Westtjtitalat/en, ed. Beauchet, pp. 131, sqq.

ful authenticity. Three centuries later, the great work of Gratian of Bologna, the Decretum Gratiani, though obviously the work of a private expounder, was received as an authoritative statement of ecclesiastical law. Later still, in the year 1234, come the Five Books of Gregory IX., in 1298 the " Sext," or sixth book, of Boniface Vill., in 1317 the Decretals of Clement V., the " Clementines." By this time, the Church has grown strong enough to repudiate the system which was its foster mother. Roman Law, after all, is the work of laymen; and by this time the Church has become a sacred caste, and will acknowledge no secular authority. Alexander III. forbids the regular clergy to leave their cloisters to hear lectures on " the laws " and physic. In 1219 comes the Bull Super Speculum, in which Honorius extends the prohibition to all beneficcd clerks.1 This is not the place in which to discuss the difficult question of the border line between the provinces of Canon and secular law. It is sufficient to say that, from the ninth century to the close of the Middle Ages, not the most autocratic monarch of Western Europe, not the most secular of lawyers, would have dreamed of denying the binding force, within its proper sphere, of the Canon Law. It had its own tribunals, its own practitioners, its own procedure; it was a very real and active force in men's lives. And yet, it would puzzle an Austinian jurist to bring it within his definition of Law. The State did not make it; the State did not enforce it.

The case of the Law Merchant is equally instructive. Trade and commerce, almost extinct in the Dark Ages which followed the downfall of the Karolingian Empire, revived with the better conditions of the eleventh century, and were stimulated into sudden activity by the Crusades. The new transactions to which they gave rise were beyond the horizon of the law of the Fief and the old folk-law of the market. Gradually, the usages of merchants hardened into a cosmopolitan law, often at positive variance with the principles of local law, but none the less acquiesced in for mercantile transactions, and enforced by tribunals of commanding eminence and world-wide reputation, such as the courts of the Han-1 Decretals of Gregory IX. (ed. Friedberg), Bk. III. Tit. 50, c. 10.

seatic League, and the Parloir aux Bourgeois at Paris. Occasionally, some special rule of the Law Merchant receives official sanction from king or seigneur. But, for the most part, the Law Merchant is obeyed, no one knows why. It is simply one of several authorities of different origin, which may, and in fact do, come into conflict at many points. The need of a reconciling influence is obvious. In the thirteenth century the Teutonic world is still awaiting the solution of the all-important question — What is Law ? It is the glory of England that she, of all the countries of Teutonic Europe, was the first to furnish that solution.

At the time of the Norman Conquest, England is, from a legal standpoint, the most backward of all Teutonic countries, save only Scandinavia. While France and Germany have their feudal laws, which, fatal as they are to unity and good government, are yet elaborate and complete within their own sphere; while Spain, after long harrying by the Moslem, is awaking once more to brilliant life and precocious political development under Sancho the Strong and Cid Cam-peador; England is still in the twilight of the folk-laws, and, seemingly, without hope of progress. England had never been part of the Frank Empire; and such rudiments of a feudal system as she possessed before the Conquest cannot be compared with the highly organized feudalism of the Continent. To revert again to the admirable French distinction, there might be in England a justice fonciere, there was little or no justice seigncuriale. In later times, this fact was of infinite benefit; in the days before the Conquest it was one of the chief reasons why English law lagged behind in the race. The feeble Imperialism of Eadgar and Eadward, even the rude vigour of Knut, seem to have left little permanent impress on English law. When, at the beginning of the twelfth century, an English writer is trying to describe English law, in the so-called Leges Hcnrici, he ventures to quote as authorities the antiquated Lex Salica and Lex Ribuaria.1 About the same time the author of the book known as the Laws of Edward the Confessor resorts, for his explanation of the title of " king," to the old story of the correspondence 1 See Schmid, Gesetze der Anyelsachsen, ed. 2, pp. 482, 485.

between Pepin the Short and Pope " John." 1 Evidently, English law was, even then, in a very rudimentary state.

But the Norman Conquest soon changed all this. The Normans were the most brilliant men of their age; and their star was then at its zenith. As soldiers, as ecclesiastics, as administrators, above all, as jurists, they had no equals, at least north of the Alps. The vigour which they had brought with them from their Scandinavian home had become infused, during the century which followed the treaty of St. Clair sur Epte, with the subtlety and the clerkly skill of the Gaul. The combination produced a superb political animal. The law and the administration of Normandy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries are models for the rest of France.2 Wherever the Norman goes, to England, to Sicily, to Jerusalem, he is the foremost man of his time. We cannot leave these facts out of account in explaining the place of England in the history of Law.

But the greatest genius will do little unless he is favoured by circumstances; and circumstances favoured the Normans in England. The more rudimentary the English law, the more plastic to the hand of the reformer. While Philip Augustus and St. Louis found themselves hampered at every turn by the network of feudalism, while even the great Bar-barossa was compelled to temporize with his vassals, and to respect the privileges of the Lombard League, Henry Beau-clerk and Henry of Anjou found it no impossible task to build up a new and uniform system of law for their subjects, and to pave the way for still greater changes in the future. We have now to note the effect of the Norman Conquest on the history of Law.

In the first place, it converted the law of England into a lex terra, a true local law. There is to be no longer a law of the Mercians, another of the West Saxons, and another of the Danes, not even a law for the English and a law for

1 Schmid, Oesftze der AnrjfLincJifien, at p. 500.

' Luchaire, Manuel dcs Institutions Francoises, p. 257, n. See the interesting excursus on the history of Norman Law by Brunner, Eiitstelmny der Schwurr/erichfe, cap', vii., and by the same author in Holtzendorff's Encyklopadie der Rechtswisseuschaft, Part I., 5th ed., pp. 303-348.

the Normans, but a law of the land. It took about a century to accomplish this result, which we doubtless owe to feudal principles. England was one great fief in the hands of the king, and it was to have but one law. Writing in the reign of Henry II., Glanville can speak of the " law and custom of the realm." Such a phrase would then have been meaningless in the mouth of a French or German jurist. About this time a celebrated expression makes its appearance in England. Men begin to speak of the " Common Law." The phrase is not new; but its application is suggestive. Canonists have used it in speaking of the general law of the Church, as distinguished from the local customs of particular churches. We may trace it back even to the Theodosian Code.1 In the wording of a Scottish statute of the sixteenth century, (and this is very suggestive), it will mean the Roman Law.2 But, in the mouth of an English jurist of the thirteenth century, it means one thing very specially, viz. the law of the royal court. And because the royal court is very powerful in England, because it has very little seigneurial justice to fight against, because the old popular courts are already antiquated, the law of the royal court rapidly becomes the one law common to all the realm, the law which swallows up all, or nearly all, the petty local and tribal peculiarities of which English law, at the time of the Conquest, is full. The Common Law is the jus et consuetudo regni with a fuller development of meaning. It is not only territorial; it is supreme and universal. This is the first great result of the Conquest.

Again, the Common Law is the law of a court. When the Normans first settled in England, thev endeavoured to collect law, somewhat in the old way of the Leges Barbarorum, through the wise men of the shires and the inquests of the king's officials. At least, that was long the tradition; and whether or no the Leges Eadwardi which have come down to us are the result of such a process, we may be pretty sure that the Norman kings made some effort to ascertain what really were the provisions of those laws and customs of the

1 Pollock and Maitland, History, vol. i. pp. 155, 156.

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, 1540, cap. i. vol. ii. p. 356.

English, which they more than once promised to observe.1 But these were too formless and too antiquated to suffice for the needs of an expanding generation. The whole work of legal administration had to be put on a different footing.

This result is achieved in the twelfth century by the two Henries. Henry Beauclerk begins the practice of sending his ministers round the country to hear cases in the local courts. This is a momentous fact in the history of English law; but it will be observed that it is not legislation at all, merely an administrative act. Neither is it quite original; for the tradition of the Karolingian missi, or perambulating officials, may have floated down to the twelfth century, and the French kings are holding Echiquiers in Normandy, and Grands Jours in Champagne. But these are irregular and unsystematic; in the fourteenth century we find Philip the Fair promising to hold two Exchequers and two Great Days a year, which implies that Exchequers and Great Days have been rare of late.2 By that time the English circuit system has been long a fixed institution, working with regularity and despatch. It has stood the shock of Stephen's reign; under the great king who is both Norman and Angevin, it has struck its roots deep into the soil. Before the end of the twelfth century, the king's court has become the most powerful institution in the kingdom, a highly organized body of trained officials, who make regular visitations of the counties, but who have a headquarters by the side of the king himself. This court is at first financial, administrative, judicial. In course of time the judicial element consolidates itself; it becomes professional. It devises regular forms of proceeding; the first extant Register of Writs dates from 1227, but, doubtless, earlier registers have existed for some time in the archives of the Court. Above all, it keeps a strict and unassailable record of all the cases which come before it. Any doubt as to precedent can be set at rest by a reference to the Plea Rolls, which certainly begin before the close of the twelfth century. • Later on, it publishes its proceedings

lStubbs, Select Charters, ed. 5, pp. 84 (William I.), 96 (Henry I.), 119 (Stephen).

2 Lauriere, Ordonnances des rois de France, ann. 1312, vol. xii. p. 354.

in a popular form; the first Year Book comes from 1292. Between the accession of Henry I. and the death of Henry III., this Court has declared the Common Law of England. That law is to be found, not in custumals, nor in statutes, nor even in text-books; but in the forms of writs, and in the rolls of the King's Court. It is judiciary law; the men who declared it were judges, not legislators, nor wise men of the shires. No one empowered them to declare law; but it will go hard with the men who break the law which they have declared.

Still, we have not reached the end of the effects of the Norman Conquest. If the English king had his court at Westminster, the French king had his Parlement at Paris, the German Kaiser his Hofgericht at Mainz or Frankfort, the kings of Leon and Castile their Audiencia Real at Leon or Valladolid. Though the Parlement of Paris and the Imperial Hofgericht had infinitely less power in the thirteenth century than the King's Court in England; yet the Exchequer Records of Normandy and the Olim or judgement rolls of the Parlement of Paris may be compared with the Plea Rolls of England; and the Style de du Breuil and the Grant Stille de la Chancellene de France may rank beside the Register of Writs, for the work of Breuil at least was regarded as official.1 But the Norman Conquest had strengthened the position of the Crown in England in more ways than one. Not only was the king of England in the thirteenth century infinitely more powerful within his realm than the king of the English in the tenth; he was more powerful than the French king in France, far more powerful than the German Kaiser in Germany. Without insisting on the military side of the Norman Conquest, we may notice the fact that the kingship of England was, in the hands of William and his successors, emphatically a " conquest," not a heritage or an elective office. And, when we come to look at the ideas which have gone to make up our notion of property, we shall find that the nouveau acquct, the " conquest," is much more at the disposal of its master than the heritage of the office. The Norman Duke who acquired England made good use of that 1 Viollet, Precis de I'Histoire du Droit Francois, p. 160.

idea. He maintained an elaborate pretence of heirship to Edward the Confessor; but all men must have seen that it was a solemn farce. As Duke of Normandy, he owed at least nominal allegiance to the King of the French; as king of England he was " absolute." All was his to give away; what he had not expressly given away, belonged without question to him. Among the documents of the Anglo-Norman period, the charter plays a prominent part; and a learned jurist has explained that the essential feature of a charter is that it is a " dispositive" document, a document which transfers to B some right or interest which at present belongs to A.1 So we get the long and important series of English charters, which culminates in the Great Charter of John and the Merchant Charter of Edward I. When the English Justinian is making his great enquiry into the franchises which his barons claim to exercise, he insists, and nearly succeeds in maintaining, that, for every assertion of seigneurial privilege, the claimant shall show a royal charter.2 It would have been absurd for Philip the Fair or Rudolf of Habs-burg to make such a demand; for their feudatories held franchises by older titles than their own, unless indeed the German Kaiser had founded himself on the authority of Charles the Great. The Charter is not a peculiarly English institution; the town charters of Germany and France go back at least to the twelfth century.3 But the charter as a monument of general law is peculiar to, or at least specially characteristic of England; and it is one of the many signs that the English monarchy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was the most powerful and centralized monarchy of the Teutonic world. England was a royal domain.

But the lord of a domain may make rules for its management, at least with the concurrence of his managing officials. If any precedent were required for this assertion, we have it in the Capitulare de Villis of Charles the Great. But it is

1 Brunner, zur Rechtsgeschichte der romischen und aermanischen Vrkunde, p. 211.

2 Pollock and Maitland, History, vol. i. p. 559.

"Stobbe, GescliicMc der deutschen RechtsqueUen, Pt. I. p. 485. Esmein, Histoire du Droit Frangnis, 2nd. ed., p. 312. It is noteworthy that one of the oldest and most important of French town-charters, the so-called Etablissemens de Rouen, was granted by an English king.

one of the earliest ideas of proprietorship. Long before the descendants of Hugues Capet ventured to legislate as Kings of France, they issued ordinances for their domains. The great feudatories of the French Crown, the Dukes of Normandy and Brittany, the Counts of Champagne and Poitou, did the like. The legislation of the smaller States of German}^ the feudal domains of the Princes of the Empire, begins in a similar way. And so it is quite natural to find, in the England of Anglo-Norman times, Assises and Ordinances which come nearer to modern ideas of law than anything we have seen yet in our search. The Assises of Clarendon and Northampton, the Assise of Arms, the Woodstock Assise of the Forest, the Assise of Measures in 1197, the Assise of Money in 1205, all these look as though royal legislation is going to take the place of all other law. If Henry of Anj ou had been succeeded by one as able as himself, with the magnificent machinery of the royal court to back him, and with no great feudatories to hold him in check, England might very well have come to take her law from the mouth of the king alone. But, fortunately for England, Henrv's three successors were not men of his stamp. Richard was able, but frivolous; John, able, but so untrustworthy, that his servants turned against him; Henry, weak and incapable. The danger of royal absolutism passed away. There was even danger that the power of legislation would pass away too. For not only had the royal authority fallen into weak hands. The king's judges seemed to have lost their inventive power; and the list of writs was almost closed when the third Henry died. Henceforth judicial legislation would proceed only by the slow steps of decision and precedent. But there arises a king who, consciously or unconsciously, by genius or good luck, is destined to be famous for all time as the propounder of the great idea which is to crown the work of England in the history of Law. Law has been declared by kings, by landowners, by folks, by judges, by merchants,by ecclesiastics. If we put all these forces together, we shall get a law which will be infinitely stronger, better, juster, above all, more comprehensive, than the separate laws which have preceded it. " That which touches all, shall be

discussed by all." How far Edward foresaw this result, how far he desired it, how far he borrowed the ideas of others, how far he acted willingly, must be left for specialists to decide. But the broad fact remains, that he created the most effective law-declaring machine in the Teutonic world of his day, that he gave to England her unique place in the history of Law. One part only of the scheme was a temporary failure. Though Edward succeeded, after a sharp struggle, in compelling the nominal adhesion of the clergy to the new system, the Canon Law continued, for two centuries and a half, to be a real rival of the national law. But its day came at last; and, after the Reformation, the clergy found themselves legislated for by a Parliament in which they had ceased to have any effective share. Though a just judgement upon an unpatriotic policj7, it was a blot on the system, which has never yet been quite removed. But, with the Reformation, the modern idea of Law was at last realized; and Hobbes could truly say, in words which became the text of Austin's teaching — "Civil Law is, to every subject, those Rules which the Commonwealth hath commanded him." But this was the result of a thousand years of history; and, as yet, it was true of England alone.1

In this important matter, we are apt to be deceived. For, if we look to the continent of Europe, we see that there are IStats Gencraux in France, Cortes in Castile and Aragon, a Reichstag or Diet of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany. And these bodies do, undoubtedly, declare a certain amount of law. But the great mass of the collection of French Ordonnances which has been edited by M. Lauriere and his successors, was never submitted to the Etats Generaux; it is the work of the king and his Council. The scanty legislation of the Cortes does not suffice for the needs of Spain, which have to be met by such compilations as El fuero viejo de Castilla, El fuero Juzgo, and Las Siete Partidas, which are not legislation at all, but merely new editions of the old Leges Wisigothorum, collections of judicial decisions, and adaptations of the Pandects. In Germany, the Diet ceases to be an effective body from the death of Frederick II.; and, though 1 Hobbes, Leviathan, cap. xxvi.

Frederick III. and Maximilian make a gallant attempt to restore its prestige, it never becomes the normal law-declaring organ for German}'. Only in Scandinavia does the success of the Riksdaag at all bear comparison with the work of the English Parliament. In Scandinavia there is a rapid and brilliant display of legal activity in the thirteenth century. The folk-laws of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland are collected, and are rapidly followed by true national laws, the Landslog of King Magnus Lagabotir for Norway, and King Magnus Eriksson's Landslag (the so-called " MELL ") for Sweden. Thenceforward, through the Union of Calmar, the modern idea of Parliamentary law seems to be making its triumphant way, until it is checked by the political troubles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. But, unhappily, the history of Scandinavia is too obscure a subject to be handled safely by any but a specialist.

It is from France and Germany that we learn most clearly and unmistakeably the results which followed from a failure to grasp the Edwardian idea of Law. In France and Germany, the law which prevailed from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries was feudal, local, municipal, royal; but not national. The feudal and local laws begin to appear in the thirteenth century in the form of text-books, evidently the work of private compilers, though in some cases in an impersonal guise. Thus we get the Trcs Ancicn Coutumier of Normandy and its successors, the Conseil of Pierre de Fontaines for the Vermandois, the Litre de Jostice et Plct and the Etablissemens le Roy for the Orleanais, the customs of Cler-mont in Beauvoisis by Philippe Beaumanoir. Thus also we get the Saxon Mirror of Eike von Repgowe, the German Mirror, the Suabian Mirror, and the Little Kaiser's Law for Germany. But there is a curious difference between the fates of the two groups. For while, in France, the purely expository character of the text-books is rarely lost sight of, while Boutillier, as previously pointed out, expressly tells us that the authoritative law must be searched for in the greffe of the court or the enqucte par tourbe, in Germany the Rechts-biicher seem to have been accepted, in all good faith, as actual law. The reason for this curious difference is not easy to

find. We may suspect it to lie in the clerkly qualities of the French court officials. We know that some at least of the French courts kept careful records, and used the regular forms; the German Weisthumer and the German form-books, the decisions of the Court at Ingelheim and the Oordelboek of Drenthe, the Summa prosarwm dictaminis and the Summa curia regis, seem to have been poor by comparison. At a certain stage of its history, the life of an institution depends on its using stereotyped forms. So the text-books of Eike von Repgowe and others came to be accepted in Germany as Law, although men must have known them to be the work of private jurists. Documents of the fifteenth century quote the Suabian Mirror (under its later name of Kaiserrecht) as a textual authority;x and all kinds of legends grow up, which attribute the authorship of the Saxon Mirror to kings and emperors.2

On the other hand, the French mind clung to the idea that the text-books were not themselves Law; and, in the fifteenth century, we find a most interesting process going on. The uncertainty and obscurity of the local customs had at last aroused the hostility of the kings who were building up a great centralizing monarchy in France; and, though they did not venture to alter those local customs which were so fatal an obstacle to their policy, they determined that at least they should be known and recorded. Perhaps they had a presentiment that greater things might happen as a result of the step. Perhaps they thought that a custom once formulated might be altered; at least there would be something to attack. Perhaps they dreamed of a unified France, living under one law. If so, they must have had a rude awakening. For when, as the results of the labours of Charles VII., Louis XL, Charles Vill., and Louis XII., the official Coutumiers are finally before the world, it is a startling picture that they reveal to us. Each district lives under its own law, and is judged by its feudal seigneurs. Not merely great feudal

'See, for example, the document given in Loersch and Schroder, Urknnden zur Geschichte des deutschen Privatrechtes, ed. 2, Part I. No. 339.

' Stobbe, op. cit., p. 318.

princes, but pretty barons and seigneurs claim the right of pit and gallows, of toll, of forfeiture in their fiefs. One is inclined to wonder where the State, as we understand it, finds any place at all. Nowhere can we find a more instructive contrast between the England of Elizabeth and the France of that same day, than in a comparison of Coke's First Institute with one of the official Coutumiers of the sixteenth century. The English law-book describes, in crabbed language no doubt, a system which is uniform, simple, and intelligible; the Coutumier depicts a state of anarchy and disintegration, of anomalies and inconsistencies. And yet it speaks only of a single district; there are dozens of other Coutumiers, and the whole pays de droit ecrit, to be taken into account. And the mischief is not to be cured by ordinary remedies. Splendid as was the work of the great French jurists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, of Moulin, Guy Coquille, Loiscl, Domat, Pothicr, it needed the red arm of the Revolution to make a Common Law for France.

A word must be said as to the process by which these official Coutumiers were compiled; for it is illuminative of the history of Law. There is no thought of imposing new rules. The custom is, indeed, "projected" by the royal officials, and examined by commissaries of the Parlement of Paris; but, before it can be declared to be law, it must be submitted to an assembly containing representatives of all orders and ranks in the district, and solemnly discussed and accepted by them.1 This is no mere form. In the great collection of Bourdot dc Richcbourg,2 published in the eighteenth century, we find the very names of those who were present, in person or by deputy, at the reading of the various pro jets; we know the very points upon which they raised objections. The object of the redaction is to render the use of the cnquete par tourbe unnecessary for the future; it declares the custom once and for all. But to do this it holds a great and final enquete par tourbe; it collects, but it does not make, the law.

Turning to Germany, we find that there have been attempts

1 Esmein, op. cit., p. 749.

2 Bourdot de Richebourg, Coutumier general. Paris, 1724.

at a similar process. The Landrechte which appear in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Austrian Landrecht (dating so far back as 1292), the Bavarian Landrecht of 1346, the almost contemporary Silesian Landrecht, are little more than official editions of the Suabian Mirror and the Saxon Mirror. But the inherent weakness of German legal developement gives rise at this point to the greatest tragedy in the history of Teutonic Law. Overcome by the evils of Partikularismus, dazzled by the false glare of the semi-Roman Kaisership, drugged by the fatal influence of the Italian connection, German Law ceases to develope on its own lines, and submits to the invasion of the Roman Law. This time it is not the Code of Theodosius which wins the victory; but that masterpiece of Roman state-craft, the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian, which the Glossators and Commentators of Italy have expanded into a marvellous system of scholastic law. Through the universities, through the writers and teachers, through the learned Doctors who fill the courts of Germany, the Roman Law becomes the Common Law of the German Empire. Even feudal law, for which, of course, there is no provision in the work of Justinian, catches the impulse; and the " Feud Books " of Milan are received in Germany proper as the Decima Collatio Novellarum, that is, as the legislation of Roman Emperors. The process is going on during the whole of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; but the crowning point is the establishment, in the year 1495. of the Reichskammergericht, or supreme court of the German Empire, of whose judges at first half, afterwards all, are to be Doctors of the Civil Law. That Roman Law should revive in southern France, in Italy, in Spain, where the provincials had once stood thick as the standing corn, seems natural, and, perhaps, inevitable; that it should invade the very home of Teutonism is nothing less than a tragedy. Thus did Rome conquer Germany, a thousand years after the Roman Empire had ceased to be.1 We must also remember that Roman Law effected a similar triumph in distant Scotland.

See the process described by Brunner, in Holtzendorff's Encyklo-pfidie, Part I. pp. 291-294, and Schroder, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, pp. 722-731.

But it is possible to exaggerate the triumph. Neither in Germany nor in Scotland did the " reception of the foreign law " wipe out the other laws. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Germans have a maxim: " Town's law breaks land's law, land's law breaks common law." It is only when other sources fail, that we resort to Roman Law. The laws of the towns play a great part in the history of Law. The privileges granted by the town-charters of the thirteenth century have borne fruit, and developed into great bodies of municipal law, which kings and emperors have to respect. Upon the scanty materials of chai'ter privileges and local customs, the Schoffengerichte of Germany, the cours d'echevins of France, the bailies' courts of Scotland, have built up elaborate systems of local law, which strive to maintain exclusive control within the limits of their jurisdiction. The town laws of Liibeck, Hamburg, Goslar, Vienna, and Magdeburg, the statuts of Avignon and Aries, the plaids de d'echevinage de Reims, the Bjarkoratten of Scandinavia, are among the most important monuments of law in the Middle Ages. But it is very significant to notice that none of these come from England. Chartered boroughs there were, of course, in the land of the Common Law, and some of them had custumals of their own. But they were of small importance ; and they stood much in fear of the law of the land. It is very doubtful whether any royal judge in England would have accepted the maxim: " Town's law breaks land's law." Had he done so, it would have been with great reservations and modifications. The victory of the Common Law put very narrow bounds to the growth of municipal custom in England.

Finally, it must not be forgotten, that royal legislation forms an important factor in the law of the later Middle Ages. We have seen what became of it in England; how it was virtually swallowed up in the national law which dates from the end of the thirteenth century. The failure of the Diets and Etats Generaux of the Continent left the new idea to work out its own developement. The success of the feudal monarchy in France gave it prominence there. As each new province is added, by diplomacy or annexation, to the domain of the Crown, the royal Ordonnances, fettered only by the

curious right of registration claimed by the Parlements, grow in number and importance. As new spheres of legislation — aliens, marine, literature — make their appearance, they fall into the royal hands. In Germany, the elevation of the great feudatories into independent potentates inspires them with similar ambition; whilst the failure of the Empire reduces the importance of Imperial legislation. But neither in France nor in Germany can the royal legislation compare with the Parliamentary legislation of England. The absolutism of the ancien regime is often misunderstood. To suppose that the subjects even of Louis XIV. or Frederick the Great were helpless in the hands of their kings, is grotesque and absurd. Within their own-spheres of action, these monarchs were, in a sense, absolute. But those spheres had their limits. For France and Prussia were not countries of one law, but of many laws. And if the king made royal law without let or hindrance, there were other laws which he could not touch. Despite certain faint theoretical doubts, the law which issued from the Parliament at Westminster was supreme over all customs and all privileges; it covered the whole area of human conduct in England, at least after the Reformation. No such assertion could be made of the legislation which came from the Council Chambers of Paris and Berlin.

We are now in a position to sum up the results of our long inquiry into the history of Law. And if, for a moment, we seem to trespass beyond the domain of Law, upon the domain of anthropology, we need only trespass upon paths which the labours of trustworthy guides have made clear for us.

One of the strongest characteristics of primitive man is his fear of the Unknown. He is for ever dreading that some act of his may bring down upon him the anger of the gods. He may not fear his fellow men, nor the beasts of the forest; but he lives in perpetual awe of those unseen powers which, from time to time, seem bent on his destruction. He sows his corn at the wrong season; he reaps no harvest, the offended gods have destroyed it all. He ventures up into a mountain, and is caught in a snow-drift. He trusts himself to a raft, and is Wrecked by a storm. He endeavours to propitiate these

terrible powers with sacrifices and ceremonies; but they will not always be appeased. There are terrors above him and arpund him.

From this state of fear, custom is his first great deliverer. To speculate on the origin of custem is beyond our province; we note only its effects. And these are manifest.- What has been done once in safety, may possibly be done again. What has been done many times, is fairly sure to be safe. A new departure is full of dangers; not only to the man who takes it, but to those with whom he lives, for the gods are apt to be indiscriminate in their anger. Custom is the one sure guide to Law; custom is that part of Law which has been discovered. Hence the reverence of primitive "Societies for custom ; hence their terror of the innovator. Custom is the earliest known stage of Law; it is not enacted, nor even declared: it establishes itself, as the result of experience.

But, in all these societies which, for want of a better term, we call " progressive," there are two forces at work which tend to alter custom. As man's powers of reasoning and observation devclope, he begins to doubt whether some of the usages which custom has established are, after all, quite so safe as he has thought. The custom of indiscriminate revenge is perceived to lead to the destruction of the community which practises it. The custom of indiscriminate slaughter of game is seen to lead to hunger and starvation. These results are, by man's growing intelligence, apprehended to be the judgement of the gods upon evil practices, no less than the thunderstorm and the earthquake. So the custom of indiscriminate revenge is modified into the blood feud, and, later, into the rule of compensation for injuries. The horde of hunters, living from hand to mouth, becomes the tribe of pastoralists, breeding and preserving their cattle and sheep; and the notion of a permanent connection between the tribe and its cattle becomes slowly recognized. The rudimentary ideas of peace and property make their appearance.

The other force at work is the correlative of this. If old customs are laid aside, new customs must be adopted. As the terror of innovation gradually subsides, as it is found that a new departure does not always call down the anger of the

gods, new practices are introduced, and are gradually accepted. Thus new custom takes the place of old.

Here we have what may be called the negative and the positive sides of Law. Old customs, proved by experience to be bad, are discarded; new customs, likewise proved by experience to be good, are adopted. But it is not to be expected that all should work smoothly. In every community there will be men who cling to the old bad customs, and refuse to accept the new. There will likewise be men who rashly desire to innovate beyond the limits which the general sense of the community considers safe. Some means must be found for keeping these exceptional persons in check. And so we get the appearance of those assemblies which are neither, according to modern notions, legislative, nor executive, nor judiciary, but simply declaratory. They declare the folk-right. It would be an anachronism to say that they made Law. We may be quite sure that they do not argue questions of expediency. Not until an old custom has been definitely condemned by the consciousness of the community, do they declare it to be bad — because, in effect, it has ceased to be a custom. Not until a new practice has definitely established itself as the rule of the community, do they declare it to be good. So little do they claim the power of making new law, that when they do, in fact, sanction a new custom, they probably declare it to be of immemorial antiquity. A great deal of existing custom they do not declare at all; just because there is no dispute about it. This accounts, as we have said, for the fragmentary character of such early records of custom as we possess. Where there are no offenders, there is no need to declare the custom. The Law came because of offences.

At first, as we have said, there is no record of custom, in the modern sense. It lives in the consciousness of the community, and is declared, if necessary, by some assembly, more or less comprehensive. But the influences of migration and conquest introduce a new feature. Brought face to face with new circumstances, the community feels that its customs, to which it clings as part of its individuality, are in danger of being lost. It may have invented for itself some rude

system of runes or other symbols; it may, and this is more probable, have come into contact with some higher civilization which possesses a superior art of recording. Such is the case with the earliest monuments of Teutonic Law. They are not even written in Teutonic speech; and this fact has misled some critics into supposing that the Leges Barba-rorum are really new sets of rules imposed by an alien conqueror. But, below the curious Latin of the Roman scribe, it is easy to read the still ruder language of the Teutonic folk. The famous " Malberg glosses " of the Lex Salica are only the clearest example of a truth which may be traced in all the Leges Barbarorum. One has but to turn to the glossaries which accompany the classical editions, to see how the scribes were puzzled by hosts of strange Teutonic phrases for which they could find no Latin equivalents. The Anglo-Saxon and the Scandinavian Laws are transcribed in their native tongues. The Leges Barbarorum are not enactments, but records.

For all this, their " redaction " was an epoch in the history of Law. It threatened to make permanent what before was transitory, to stereotype a passing phase. It remained no longer possible to deny the existence of a custom which was recorded in black and white; it was difficult to say that a new custom was old, when no trace of it appeared on the official record. And yet, customs must be altered if communities are to progress; and the Teutonic communities were progressive in no small degree. So there was a chance for a new kind of Law; a Law which should be declared by the conqueror. But the limited character and short duration of the law of such a conqueror even as Charles the Great, shows that the new idea at first met with little success. The Law of the Church, the Law of the Merchants, the Law of the Fief, and the Roman Law, are the real innovating forces which transform the folk-laws into the law of medieval Europe.

Not one of these was Law in the Austinian sense. The Canon Law posed as a revelation, and, as such, was thoroughly in harmony with primitive ideas of Law. That which the folk discovered, through the painful process of experience, to be the will of the unseen Powers, was discovered by

Popes and Councils, through the speedier process of revelation. The Canon Law did not profess to be the command of men; it professed to be the will of God. The Law Merchant and the Feudal Law were, in appearance, the terms of many agreements which merchants and which feudal lords and vassals had implicitly bound themselves to observe. But, at bottom, they were not very different from customs which, as the result of experience, had proved to be those under which, so men thought, the business of trade or of landowning could be best carried on. The Roman Law was the deliberate expression, by the wisdom of ages, of that right reason which men were coming to look upon, more and more, as the true index to the will of the Unseen Powers. Its origin as the command of the Roman Emperor was well-nigh forgotten ; and we may be very sure that, in Western Europe at least, it was not enforced by the will of those successors of Justinian who sat upon the trembling throne of Byzantium. Had it been so, the Roman Law would have disappeared for ever when Mahomet II. overthrew the Eastern Empire. But it was just at that time that the Roman Law was " received " in German}'.

We have travelled far, and as yet have seen no justification for the Austinian theory, that Law is the command of the State. As we said before, the first time that this theory becomes approximately true, is when the English Parliament is established at the close of the thirteenth century. This is the crowning work of England in the history of Law. But it is possible to overrate its effect. The great virtue of the English Parliamentary scheme was, that it enabled the exponents of all the customs of the realm to meet together and explain their grievances. If we glance at the Rolls of the English Parliament, we shall find that the great bulk of the petitions which are presented during the first two hundred years of its existence, are complaints of the breach of old customs, or requests for the confirmation of new customs which evil-disposed persons will not observe. These petitions, as we know, were the basis of the Parliamentary legislation of that period. What is this but to say that the Parliament was a law-declaring, rather than a law-making body ? Some-

times, indeed, the Parliament did make very new law. It made the Statute of Uses, in defiance of a long-established custom. We happen to know the ostensible objects of the statute; for its framers were careful to record them in the preamble to their work. They were, first, to prohibit secret conveyances of land, second, to put an end to bequests of land by will. The formal recognition of secret conveyances and the formal recognition of the validity of bequests of land, were the direct results of the passing of the statute. The lesson is obvious. The English Parliament was a splendid machine for the declaration of Law; when it tried to make Law it ran the risk of ignominous failure.

The truth must not be pressed too far, but a truth it is, that, even now, Law is rather a thing to be discovered than a thing to be made. To think of a legislator, or even a body of legislators, as sitting down, in the plenitude of absolutism, to impose a law upon millions of human beings, is to conceive an absurdity. How shall such a law be enforced? By a single ruler? By a group of elderly legislators? B}r a few hundred officials? By an army? We know the power of discipline; and we may grant that a comparatively small but well-disciplined army can control an immense mass of unorganized humanity. But the army must have laws too, and how are these to be enforced? Perhaps by another army?

The simple truth of the matter appears to be this. The making of Law is a supremely important thing; the declaring of Law is an important, but a very different thing. Law is riiade unconsciously, by the men whom it most concerns; it is the deliberate result of human experience working from the known to the unknown, a little piece of knowledge won from ignorance, of order from chaos. It is begun by the superior man, it is accepted by the average man. But it will not do for the inferior man to spoil the work of his betters, by refusing to conform to it. So Law must be declared, and, after that, enforced. This declaration and enforcement are the work of the official few, of the authorities who legislate and execute. There was plenty of Law in the Middle Ages; but it was, for the most part, ill-declared and badly enforced. The great problem which lay before the statesmen of the

Middle Ages was to devise a machine which should declare and enforce Law, uniformly and steadily. The supreme triumph of English statesmanship is, that it solved this problem some five hundred years before the rest of the Teutonic world. By bringing together into one body representatives of those who made her laws, by confronting them with those who could declare and enforce them, England was able to know what her law was, to declare it with certain voice, and to enforce it thoroughly and completely.



1. There has been no attempt on the part of the compiler to attain uniformity of spelling or nomenclature. In each case the source has been indicated by its popular title, which, it need hardly be said, is seldom of official origin. The dates assigned to the various items are those generally accepted by the leading specialists.

2. A title in italics indicates that the source was originally the work of a private composer.

3. A title between square brackets, [ ], indicates that the source does not survive in its original form.

1 The List of Principal Sources, which is made to precede this Synoptic Table in the author's original arrangement has been transferred to Volume II of this Collection, under the first topic, Sources of Legal History. The List gives the publications and editions in which can be found the principal materials for mediaeval European legal history.—EDS.
















(Date uncertain.)


Leu Si

(466-485!) [Lees licm.



















A.D. S"

Fdictum Theode-rici.


(bet. stt and 558.) Hildcbcrli (I.) c

A.D. 517

Pactu Chlnt

Lex Gundobada (Burgundians).

pro Tenore Pacis

harii (I.).




Lex Ribuaria (part


(bet. 561 and 584 ) cessions and rah

lidic c.).


im Hilperici (sue.



Lex Ribuaria (part II.).

Hildcbcrli (II.) De

accessions). 586-601. Antiqna.













^thelbirht's Dooms (Kent).




[Pactus Alaman-norutn.]

A.D. 5,S4 628

Pracccptio Chlo-tharii(IL) (misc. For Neustria.)





Edictum Chlothari Frank kingdom.


(Miic. For whole



Rothari Xdictum Rcnovationis.


Lex Ribuaria (part III.).

652-672 Liber Judi


ero Juzgo).



Grimoaldi Cor-rectia.


Hatfietd Decree against heresy. (Norfh.,Mercia, £. Anglia, Keut.)


Hlothere's and Eadric's Dooms (Kent).

Ine's Ratifications (Wessex).


Wintrxd's Dooms (Kent).


















Lex Ribuaria (part IV.}.


Lex Alaman-norum.




Lmtprandi Leges.



[Notitia de Actori-bus Regis.]



Statmum Karlmai lands).

ii (ap

ropriating church


Ratchis Edictum et Statuta.

Decretum (Lex)




Statuta Ahistulfi.


Capitulare Aqui-tanicum. (Pippin. Misc.)



Dccrctum Tassil-onis (bivaria).


Decretum Tassil-onis ( Bavaria).

Cap! tula Arcgis (Rencvcntum).


Capitulare (v. Deer for administratio

etum) n of ju

Haristallense of Cha tice. f Extended to

les thi


Great (For whol. era Spain.)


>. Important rules


Consuetudo et Pactum Aregis (Naples).


ubus Saxoniae.

Notitia Italica. (Charles the Great. Sales.}


Capitulate Man-tuanum. (Pippin as King. Misc.)


Lex Frisionum.

CapItularePippini. (Procedure. Pilgrims.)


Capitulare Man-ttianum Urn. {Pippin. Misc.)


Capitulare Papi-ense. (Do. Misc. 1


Capitulare _ Pip-pini.' (Misc.)


Capitulare Saxoni-cum.












A.D. 800

•Statutum Cenoman


licuic |

•egulating labour-du

A.D. :S of Va

;sals to their lords).



Capitulare de Villis (regulating the managemen containing important general rules).

: of th

6 royal estates, and


Capitula legi Lom-

bardicae addita



Capitula (apud Aquisgranutn) legibus addita. tions, suretyship, abuse of legal process.)


er fines, emancipa-


Lex Tburingorum.

Lex Frisionum

(Additio sapien-



Constitutio in lege

Ribuaria mit-


Lex Saxonum.


Capitulars Pippin!




Capitula Aquisgranensia. (Pardoned crimina the local courts.)

s, outlaws^ attendance at


Capilula Aquisgranensia (containing the impor diction of the Hundred courts).

tant c

ause limiting juris-


Capitula ad Legem




Capitulare de Justitits Faciendis. (Ordinance various courts, and establishing quarterly c

regulating competence of rcuits of the t, issf.)


Capitulare de Latronibus (definitely constituting theft as a "plea of the crown," unless committed between two slaves of same master).

[Pactum cum Venetis.]


Praceptum pro I Crown lands).


(purprestures of


Capitulare Aquis-



Dua: constitution^


ipanis profugis.


Capitula Legibus execution again:

Ad den t land,

da. (Important ct also power of makin

imin^I ; wills.

code, recognising


Capiiula Leg! Salic

c addit




Lex Francorum Chaniavorum.


Statutum Olon-nense (misc.).


Anstgisi Abbatis Cttpitularhtm cottcctio (an imperfect collection of the Capitula of Charles the Great, Ludwig I., and Lothar I.)-


Capitularia Wormaticnsia. (Important rules < authorizing " inquisitiones.")

f impe

rial administration.




Pactum SicardJ (Naples).


Pactum cum Venetis (prob. founded on earlier of oia, not surviving).


Fncceptum pro Hispanic.


Capitulare Silva-cense (rules for circuit judges).


CapituIareAttinia-cense (rules for circuit judges).



Edictum Pistense {important general ordinance regulating procedure, coinage, military service, weights and measures, etc.).


Capitula Adelchis (Benevcntum),


Alfred's Code.


Capitulare Ver-ncnse. (Robberies. Regulation of rival jurisdictions.)

















901 (

Eadwc.ird the

Elder's {first]




Eadwcard the


Warnings (C. of



Ordinance for


& t hel stane's

Ordinance of



Judicia Ciuitatis



[Ulfljo-tslog (In-



Eadmund's Pro-


clamations and




Eadgar*s Counsel

of the Hundred.



Eadgar"s Counsel

(at Andover?}.


Eadgar's (general) Ordinance (at




Capitulare de duello judiciali.

M t h e 1 re d' s




Capitulare de prxdiis ecclesi-












Peace of the Eng-• glish and Danes. (Danegelt.)



The Capitulart ( col leet ion of Im perial





;Ethelred's Law of Wantage.

Counsel of the Witan at Enham (I Ensham).

loiS ?

Knur's Counsel at Winchester.

Witherlags Ret




Capitulare de Succ Liber Pafuiuit.



Mandatumdelege Romana.



Edictum de Bene-ficiis.



Reeiiivditus Sin-gularum Personarum.

1052 1070

Constitutio de


The Expositio

(commentary on the I mperial CapituU .


The Ten Statutes of William I.

Ordinance excluding spiritual

causes from the Hundred Court.

I0?7 1

Pax ItalEca Hen-rici Quarti.












Charter of liberties (Henry I.).



Pax Generalis Her

rici Qi






Ordinance for

holding courts of County and Hundred.

Leges Edwardi Confeswris.


Privilegium (Papac] imperial rights).


stituris (recognizing


Lets e ciistutnes quelireisWill. gratttad alpople de Eng'.eterre.



Leges ff 'en rid



[Haflidaskra (Iceland).]


Pax Wormatiens'is. (Sui rights on investitures.)

render of imperial


Le'ges Quatuor Kurgorum.


Codex cpistolaris Babcnbfrgensis.

Consilicttio Ctitttt,


Constitutio de feud

rum d


II27 1157

El fuero viejo de CasUlIa.


iH'stituta Cnuti a Itorutn qtte Regiim Anglorum.

Assise Regis



Frciburger Stadt-rechl.

Soester Stadt-recht (" Jus-tit ia"}.


Constitutio dc pace of Frederick I.)


Ja. (Criminal Code


Concessio Investiture Episco-porum (Saxony).


Constitutiones Fcuc Feudal Code.)


Roncaglia, General


Ordonnance de Soissons.


Constitutio Duca-tus Austria;.


"57 1158

Edictum in favorec Constitutio de jure:

Judasorum. tudorum. (Pax Roncalica.)


Record (" Con-stif uions") of Cloi-endon.


Liibecker Stadt-recht.

fitabllssemens de Rouen.


Assise of Clarendon (procedure).


Constitutio de testa


cttone dericorum.

[Assise of Novel Disseisin.} [Grand Assize.]




Assises recorded at Northampton.

tiSi 1184

Assise of Arms.

Assise of Wood-stock {Forests).


Pacta Placentina

(The Lombard League).



First (?) Plea Roll.

Assise Regis Wil-lehni.

1 186



f 1180 I


Constitutio contra '

Martdatum de App Sentcniia **e feodis Lilri Fettdarum v

icendi 1188

1'ation Miolst \Utw


Magdcburger Stadtrecbt.

bus. iralium. Feudalts.


[Commence m e nt of Exchequer Records C^or-mandy).]

Tres ancien Cou-tumierde Nor* »w«^>(PartI.)


e <jy










A.D. I208

Sententia de Tclon





A.D. I20O-

Slesvigs Bierkerlt

r r

Treuga Henrici. Auctor Vetus de Beneficiis.


Conventio de feodis regni.


West gOt alag (Sweden).



Magna Carta.


Cessio juris


;polii. i



Statuts de Mont-

Gulathtngslfig (Norway).

1218 1220

Sententia de Immunitate Civifatum.

Privilegium in favorem principum ecclesiasti-corura.



Tresancien Cuu-tuntier de Ner-


Espejo de todos los derechos.

Skaanelagen (Denmark).

Sjfataxdskc L<mt


Wiener Stadlrecht.

mandie (Pt.



Renovaiio pacis



antiquae Sajconiae.


The First Register of Writs.


Constitutiones Sicute/


Edictum contra communia.


Statuts de Marseilles.


Fuero Juzgo.

Statutum de coh-



Constitutio in favprem prin


Kulmische Hand-






Sententia in

favorem ecclesl*


Statute of Merton.


Constitutio Pacis


arum, zer Landfried.")


Jydske Lov


Summxprosa rum dictantinit.

«« 1245

Statuts d' Avignon. Statuts d' Aries.



FrostutbingslSg ^Norway).




Commencement of




the Plaids de 1'Echcvi nage (Reims).




Constitutio de jure



no nepotum.


Commencement of the " Olim."


Fuero Real.


Kjfibcnliamns, Bierkerat (Den-



Ordonnances d e




Gr&gds (Iceland).


Ordonnance d e batailles (St.


Birger Jarl's EthsdrebrotC


Statute of Marl-


Coutumes de Per-







Commencement of

Parloir a n x

B ourgeois



Edictum de Ecclcsiis-


Ribes BierkerSc (Denmark).


Hamburger Stadt-rccht ("Ordcl-bok").


Etablissemens le Roy (St. Louis).


Jarasfda (Hakon-

orbdk. Norway).


Statute of Westminster I,


Ordinatio de

possession ib us amortisatis.


Magnus LagabS-turs Landsldg (Norway).


Statute of Glou-


Sententia de feodo

ion ret



Hirdskrfi (Nor-way).



IAugsburger Stadt-


Statute of Mort-



Jonsbdk (Ice-



Sententia dc Part


iorem co.iditionem



Statute of Acton

sequi debet").


Cou t umesde

1284 1285

Burnet. Statute of Wales. Statutes of West-

Leges inter Scoltos et Brettos.


Sententia de comit

libus r


on dividendis.


Toulouse. Ordinatio de pace infracta.


Ordinances of



minster II. and Winchester.

Circumspecte Agatis

Quia Emptores.

Regiam Majes-tatem.

1292 1298

Hamburger Schiffsrecht.


1287 1291

Ordinatio de


Ordinatio de Parliamento.


ingen (Sweden).

Uplandslag. (Sweden).



The First Year Book.

Confirmatio Car-tarum.


Sententia Alberti succession to feu

. (exc dal Ian

udtng women from d). Goslarer Stadt-recht.

Grand Coutumier normand.

Gotlandslag (Sweden}.



















Stadtrecht von Bremen.


Ordinatio pro gubcrnatione

Westmannalag (Sweden).






Statute of Carlisle,

1306 de

bat ai 1 1 es

(Philippe Ie Bel).


Sententia contra privilegia civitatum.


Constitutio Majes-

Summa curia


Ordinauce of Jus* ticc.





Mandatum de


Ordeniamento de


las Tafurcrias.


C h a r t e a u x



Arttculi in itincre


Ordonnance pour

Camera riL

nostre Chambres


Leges U p s t a K-

dc nos Comptes.

b o ra i c aj (Zee-


Ordinance for Ire-



KMnes Raiser.



Tret anciennc coutumt de


Sodermannenlag (Sweden).




Ordon nanc 0




Style deduBreuil,


Magnus Eriksson's Usury Law







Ordinance of Up-sala (Sweden).


Ordonnance d e Parlement.


Ordinance ofTelge (Sweden).


Bayerisches Land-



Miinchener Stadt-«.cht.


Siete Partidas.


Magnus Eiflc sson's

Landslag (Swe-



First Statute of Labourers.

Ordinance of Alcala d' Hen-ares.


Statute of Provi-sors.




Ordonnance d e Police.


TkorJ o Dcpfs Artikler (Denmark).


Statute of Treasons.

GSrderath (Swe-j \ v


Statute of Praemunire. Statute of the Staole.


Goldene Bulle.


Ordonnance d e

1' arriere-ban.


SmSlandslag (Sweden).


Ordinance for Ire-

Wisby Stadslag




Serment des baillis.



Act establishing Quarter Ses-

Magnus Eriksson's Stadslag (Swe-



Ordinatio de Par-

den). ^

lame n to.


Ley de Toro.



Ordonnance sur le


fait des aides.


Ordonnance sur



Statute ofForcible




Use of Merchis.


Ordonnances sur

QuoniamA ttachia-

les Assises.


Grant Cmatumier

tier Came f arif.

de France'.











Curia Quattuo






Statute of Forgery


[Coutumcd'Anjoti et Maine.]



Statute of Heresy.


Coutume de



Nu r n be r ger


Article of Heresy.

Reichs - Heers -Ordnung.


Statute against



and " foreign "


Ordinance estab-

lishing "Lords

Audi tors of



Ordinances for


of Shires.


Arnsberger R e -


formation (of






Sanction pragma*


Drdo JustJciaria


James II.).


Frankfurter Reformation.


-hristopher's Landslag (Swe-



Act for Protection of Leaseholders. Act appointing " Lords of the


)hhmariisches Landrecht,


Stille et Coutume de Berry.




Statute against hereditary

Coutume de Bre-



Statute establish-

ing borough



Act of feu-farm.


Coutumcs dcBour-

gogne (duchc" et



Coutume de




Statute of Provi-


Ordonnance fondant le Parlement


dc Bourdcaux.


(and) Coutume



Act for registra-

tion of mort-


Act of Limitation.



Ordnung (Fried-

Statute of Appeals.

rich 111.)-



Ordonnance fon-


Decision recognizing alienation _of

dant le Parlement de Dijon.


Statute against





"Star Chamber"


Coutume de Tours.



Statute for holding


of Session three times a year.


Kammergerichts Ordnung (Maximilian).


Ordonnance fondant le Parlement dc Rennes.


Statute Tor education of heirs of freeholders.


Erbfolge Ord-


Mandcment sur la publication des coutumes.



Ordonnance fon-


Reich sregiments


dant le Parlement de Rouen.












/Statute establish-



A.D. 1501

Ordonnaoce fon-



ing perpetual

dant le Parle-

court at Edin-

ment d'Aix.





Coutumes de

Statute making


heirs liable for ancestor's debts.


Coutu mcs d' An;ou.


Statute requiring

Coutumes du

notice to


boroughs when taxation proposed.


Coutumes de Troyes.



Coutumes d'


Statute for regis-


tration of seisins by sheriffs.


Notnriats 0 rd •


Coutum es' de Paris.

n u n g (much about wills).


Coutumes de Poitou.

Cou tumes d'



Coutumes de



Erbfolge Ord-


Coutumes de





Coutumes de Blois.


Statute of succes-

sions to goods of



Statute of Em-


Statute making



be zzlemeots.

Statutes of Uses and Enrolments.


freeholders responsible for production o f their tenants. Ordinance establishing College of Justice.

1530 I532

Polizei Ordnung u n d Reformation.

Peinliche Hals-Gerichts Ord-nung ("Karo-lina*').


Coutumes de



Ordo n n a n c e de


Statute of Wills.


Acts for reformation of Courts.



Fors dc Beam.

(There had been


Statute for notice to quit.


Wurte m b e r g e r Landrecht.

several earlier collections.)

Statute against

leagues and


Statute for regis-


tration of all



Ordon nance d'



Ordonnance de



Statute for seisins in boroughs.


Ordon nance de Moulins,


Nueva Recopi-lacion.


Act establishing

convention of



Statute of prescriptions.


Ordonnance de Blois.


(Nouvellel Cou-

tume de Paris.


Statute declaring sovereignty of


(Nouvelle) Coutume de Nor-




Statute prohibiting clergy acting as judges or advo-


Coutumes d' Orle'ans.





Statute for further-

ance of criminal



Statute establish-

ing general Laud Registry.



FOR most practical purposes the history of English law does not begin till after the Norman conquest, and the earliest things which modern lawyers are strictly bound to know must be allowed to date only from the thirteenth century, and from the latter half of it rather than the former. Nevertheless a student who does not look farther back will be puzzled by relics of archaic law which were not formally discarded until quite modern times, and he may easily be misled by plausible but incorrect explanations of them, such as have been current in Blackstone's time and much later. In rare but important cases it may be needful for advocates and judges to transcend the ordinary limits of the search for authority, and trace a rule or doctrine to its earliest known form in this country. When this has to be done it is quite possible that wrong ancient history may lead to the declaration of wrong modern law. This happened in at least one

'-This essay was published in the Law Quarterly Review, 1898, volume XIV, pp. 291-306.

2 Editor of the Law Quarterly Review; M. A. Trinity College (Cambridge) ; Barrister-at-law 1871; Professor of Jurisprudence, University College (London) 1882-83; Professor of Common Law in the Inns of Court 1881-1890; Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford 1883-1903; Fellow of the British Academy li)02.

Other Publications: Principles of Contract, 1876; Law of Torts, 18T7, Digest of the Law of Partnership, 18TT; The Land Laws, 1882; Essays in Jurisprudence and Ethics, 1882; Possession in the Common Law (with Mr. Justice Wright), 1888; Oxford Lectures, 1890; Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics, 1890; Law of Frnud in British India, 189i; History of English Law to the Time of Edward I (with Professor Maitland), 1895; First Book of Jurisprudence, 1896; Expansion of the Common Law, 1904; Introduction and Notes to Maine's Ancient Law, 1906.

celebrated case within the Queen's reign, in which, as it is now hardly possible to doubt, the House of Lords reversed the ancient law of marriage accepted on the authority of the Church in England as well as in the rest of Western Christendom, being misguided by early documents of which they did not rightly understand either the authority or the effect.1 The extreme antiquities of our law may not be often required in practice, but it is not safe to neglect them altogether, and still less safe to accept uncritical explanations when it does become necessary to consider them.

Anglo-Saxon life was rough and crude as compared not only with any modern standard but with the amount of civilization which survived, or had been recovered, on the Continent. There was very little foreign trade, not much internal traffic, nothing like industrial business of any kind on a large scale, and (it need hardly be said) no system of credit. Such conditions gave no room for refined legal science applied by elaborate legal machinery, such as those of the Roman Empire had been and those of modern England and the commonwealths that have sprung from her were to be. Such as the men were, such had to be the rules and methods whereby some kind of order was kept among them. Our ancestors before the Norman Conquest lived under a judicial system, if system it can be called, as rudimentary in substance as it was cumbrous in form. They sought justice, as a rule, at their primary local court, the court of the hundred, which met once a month, and for greater matters at a higher and more general court, the county court, which met only twice a year.2 We say purposely met rather than sat. The courts were open-air meetings of the freemen who were bound to attend them, the suitors as they are called in the terms of Anglo-Norman and later medieval law; there was no class of professional lawyers; there were no judges in our sense of learned persons specially appointed to preside, expound the law, and cause justice to be done; the only learning available

1 See Pollock and Maitland, Hist. Eng. Law, ii. 367 sqq.

2 There were probably intermediate meetings for merely formal business, which only a small number of the suitors attended: see P. & M., Hist. Eng. L. i. 526.

was that of the bishops, abbots, and other great ecclesiastics. This learning, indeed, was all the more available and influential because, before the Norman Conquest, there were no separate ecclesiastical courts in England. There were no clerks nor, apparently, any permanent officials of the popular courts; their judgments proceeded from the meeting itself, not from its presiding officer, and were regularly preserved only in the memory of the suitors. A modern student or man of business will at first sight wonder how this rude and scanty provision for judicial affairs can have sufficed even in the Dark Ages. But when we have reflected on the actual state of Anglo-Saxon society, we may be apt to think that at times the hundred and the county court found too little to do rather than too much. The materials for what we now call civil business practically did not exist.

There is now no doubt among scholars that the primary court was the hundred court. If the township had any regular meeting (which is quite uncertain), that meeting was not a judicial body. The King, on the other hand, assisted by his Council of wise men, the Witan,1 had a superior authority in reserve. It was allowable to seek justice at the king's hands if one had failed, after due diligence, to obtain it in the hundred or the county court. Moreover the Witan assumed jurisdiction in the first instance where land granted by the king was in question, and perhaps in other cases where religious foundations or the king's great men were concerned. Several examples of such proceedings are recorded, recited as we should say in modern technical speech, in extant land-charters which declare and confirm the result of disputes, and therefore we know more of them than we do of the ordinary proceedings in the county and hundred courts, of which no written record was kept. But they can have had very little bearing, if any, on the daily lives of the smaller folk. In important cases the county court might be strengthened by adding the chief men of other counties; and, when thus reinforced, there is hardly anything to distinguish it

1 There is more authority for this short form than for the fuller Witena-Gemot (not witenagemot, as sometimes mispronounced by persons ignorant of Old-English inflexions).

from the Witan save that the king is not there in person.1

Some considerable time before the Norman Conquest, but how long is not known, bishops and other great men had acquired the right of holding courts of their own and taking the profits in the shape of fines and fees, or what would have been the king's share of the profits. My own belief is that this began very early, but there is no actual proof of it. Twenty years after the Conquest, at any rate, we find private jurisdiction constantly mentioned in the Domesday Survey, and common in every part of England: about the same time, or shortly afterwards, it was recognized as a main ingredient in the complex and artificial system of feudalism. After having grown in England, as elsewhere, to the point of threatening the king's supremacy, but having happily found in Edward I a master such as it did not find elsewhere before the time of Richelieu, the manorial court is still with us in a form attenuated almost to the point of extinction. It is not material for the later history of English law to settle exactly how far the process of concession or encroachment had gone in the time of Edward the Confessor, or how fast its rate was increasing at the date of the Conquest. There can be no doubt that on the one hand it had gained and was gaining speed before " the day when King Edward was alive and dead," 2 or on the other hand that it was further accelerated and emphasized under rulers who were familiar with a more advanced stage of feudalism on the Continent. But this very familiarity helped to make them wise in time; and there was at least some foreshadowing of royal supremacy in existing English institutions. Although the courts of the hundred and the county were not the king's courts, the king was bound by his office to exercise some general supervision over their working. He was represented in the county court by the sheriff; he might send out commissioners to inquire and report how justice was done, though he could not interfere with the

1 Such a court, after the Conquest, was that which restored and confirmed the rights of the see of Canterbury on Penenden Heath: but it was held under a very special writ from the king.

1 The common form of reference in Domesday Book.

actual decisions. The efficiency of these powers varied in fact according to the king's means and capacity for exercising them. Under a wise and strong ruler like Alfred or ^Ethel-stan they might count for much; under a feeble one like ^thelred they could count for very little.

A modern reader fresh to the subject might perhaps expect to find that the procedure of the old popular courts was loose and informal. In fact it was governed by traditional rules of the most formal and unbending kind.1 Little as we know of the details, we know enough to be sure of this; and it agrees with all the evidences we have of the early history of legal proceedings elsewhere. The forms become not less but more stringent as we pursue them to a higher antiquity; they seem to have not more but less appreciable relation to any rational attempt to ascertain the truth in disputed matters of fact. That task, indeed, appears to have been regarded as too hard or too dangerous to be attempted by unassisted human faculties. All the accustomed modes of proof involved some kind of appeal to supernatural sanctions. The simplest was the oath of one of the parties, not by way of testimony to particular facts, but by way of assertion of his whole claim or defence; and this was fortified by the oaths of a greater or less number of helpers, according to the nature of the case and the importance of the persons concerned, who swore with him that his oath was true.2 He lost his cause without a chance of recovery if any slip was made in pronouncing the proper forms, or if a sufficient number of helpers were not present and ready to make the oath. On the other hand the oath, like all archaic forms of proof, was conclusive when once duly carried through. Hence it was almost always an advantage to be called upon to make the oath of proof, and this usually belonged to the defendant. " Gainsaying is ever stronger than affirming .... Owning is

1 There were variations in the practice of different counties after the Conquest (Glanv. xii. 23), and therefore, almost certainly, before. We know nothing of their character or importance, but I should conjecture that they were chiefly in verbal formulas.

1 Advanced students will observe that this is wholly different from the decisory oath of Roman and modern Romanized procedure, where one party has the option of tendering the oath to the other alone, and is bound by the result.

nearer to him who has the thing than to him who claims." l Our modern phrase " burden of proof " is quite inapplicable to the course of justice in Anglo-Saxon courts: the benefit or " prerogative" of proof, as it is called even in modern Scottish books, was eagerly contended for. The swearer and his oath-helpers might perjure themselves, but if they did there was no remedy for the loser in this world, unless he was prepared to charge the court itself with giving false judgment. Obviously there was no room in such a scheme for what we now call rules of evidence. Rules there were, but they declared what number of oath-helpers was required, or how many common men's oaths would balance a thegn's. In the absence of manifest facts, such as a fresh wound, which could be shown to the court, an oath called the " fore-oath " was required of the complainant in the first instance as a security against frivolous suits. This was quite different from the final oath of proof.

Oath being the normal mode of proof in disputes about property, we find it supplemented by ordeal in criminal accusations. A man of good repute could usually clear himself by oath; but circumstances of grave suspicion in the particular case, or previous bad character, would drive the defendant to stand his trial by ordeal. In the usual forms of which we read in England the tests were sinking or floating in cold water,2 and recovery within a limited time from the effects of plunging the arm into boiling water or handling red-hot iron. The hot-water ordeal at any rate was in use from an early time, though the extant forms of ritual, after the Church had assumed the direction of the proceedings, are comparatively late. Originally, no doubt, the appeal was to the god of water or fire, as the case might be. The Church objected, temporized, hallowed the obstinate heathen customs by the addition of Christian ceremonies, and finally, but not until the thirteenth century, was strong enough to banish them. As a man was not put to the ordeal unless he was

1 /Ethelr. ii. 9.

8 There is ,1 curious French variant of the cold-water ordeal in which not the accused person, but some bystander taken at random, is immersed: I do not know of any English example.

disqualified from clearing himself by oath for one of the reasons above mentioned, the results were probably less remote from rough justice than we should expect, and it seems that the proportion of acquittals was also larger. Certainly people generally believed to be guilty did often escape, how far accidentally or otherwise we can only conjecture.1 Another form of ordeal favoured in many Germanic tribes from early times, notwithstanding protest from the Church, and in use for deciding every kind of dispute, was trial by battle: but this makes its first appearance in England and Scotland not as a Saxon but as a distinctly Norman institution.2 It is hard to say why, but the fact is so. It seems from Anglo-Norman evidence that a party to a dispute which we should now call purely civil sometimes offered to prove his case not only by oath or combat, but by ordeal, as the court might award. This again suggests various explanations of which none is certain.3

Inasmuch as all the early modes of proof involved large elements of unknown risk, it was rather common for the parties to compromise at the last moment. Also, since there were no ready means of enforcing the performance of a judgment on unwilling parties, great men supported by numerous followers could often defy the court, and this naturally made it undesirable to carry matters to extremity which, if both parties were strong, might mean private war. Most early forms of jurisdiction, indeed, of which we have any knowledge, seem better fitted to put pressure on the litigants to agree than to produce an effective judgment of compulsory force. Assuredly this was the case with those which we find in England even after the consolidation of the kingdom under the Danish dynasty.

Rigid and cumbrous as Anglo-Saxon justice was in the

1 The cold-water ordeal was apparently most feared; see the case of Ailward, Materials for Hist. St. Thomas, i. 15fi, ii. 172; Bigelow, Plac. A.-N". 260. For a full account see Lea, Superstition and Force.

2 See more in Neilson, Trial by Combat, an excellent and most interesting monograph.

' Cases from D. B. collected in Bigelow, Plac. A.-N., 40-44, 61. Even under Henry II we find, in terms, such an offer, but it looks, in the light of the context, more like a rhetorical asseveration — in fact the modern "j'en mettrais ma main au feu" — than anything else: op. cit. 196.

things it did provide for, it was, to modern eyes, strangely defective in its lack of executive power. Among the most important functions of courts as we know them is compelling the attendance of parties and enforcing the fulfilment both of final judgments and of interlocutory orders dealing with the conduct of proceedings and the like. Such things are done as of course under the ordinary authority of the court, and with means constantly at its disposal; open resistance to judicial orders is so plainly useless that it is seldom attempted, and obstinate preference of penalties to submission, a thing which now and then happens, is counted a mark of eccentricity bordering on unsoundness of mind. Exceptional difficulties, when they occur, indicate an abnormal state of the commonwealth or some of its members. But this reign of law did not come by nature; it has been slowly and laboriously won. Jurisdiction began, it seems, with being merely voluntary, derived not from the authority of the State but from the consent of the parties. People might come to the court for a decision if they agreed to do so. They were bound in honour to accept the result; they might forfeit pledges deposited with the court; but the court could not compel their obedience any more than a tribunal of arbitration appointed at this day under a treaty between sovereign States can compel the rulers of those States to fulfil its award. Anglo-Saxon courts had got beyond this most early stage, but not very far beyond it.

The only way to bring an unwilling adversary before the court was to take something of his as security till he would attend to the demand; and practically the only things that could be taken without personal violence were cattle. Distress in this form was practised and also regulated from a very early time. It was forbidden to distrain until right had been formally demanded — in Cnut's time to the extent of three summonings — and refused. Thus leave of the court was required, but the party had to act for himself as best he could. If distress failed to make the defendant appear, the only resource left was to deny the law's protection to the stiff-necked man who would not come to be judged by law. He might be outlawed, and this must have been enough to coerce

most men who had anything to lose and were not strong enough to live in rebellion; but still no right could be done to the complainant without his submission. The device of a judgment by default, which is familiar enough to us, was unknown, and probably would not have been understood.

Final judgment, when obtained, could in like manner not be directly enforced. The successful party had to see to gathering the " fruits of judgment," as we say, for himself. In case of continued refusal to do right according to the sentence of the court, he might take the law into his own hands, in fact wage war on his obstinate opponent. The ealdorman's aid, and ultimately the king's, could be invoked in such extreme cases as that of a wealthy man, or one backed by a powerful family, setting the law at open defiance. But this was an extraordinary measure, analogous to nothing in the regular modern process of law.

The details of Anglo-Saxon procedure and judicial usuage had become or were fast becoming obsolete in the thirteenth century, which is as much as to say that they were already outworn when the definite growth of the Common Law began. But the general features of the earlier practice, and still more the ideas that underlay them, have to be borne in mind. They left their stamp on the course of our legal history in manifold ways; many things in the medieval law cannot be understood without reference to them; and even in modern law their traces are often to be found.

While the customary forms of judgment and justice were such as we have said, there was a comparatively large amount of legislation or at least express declaration of law; and, what is even more remarkable, it was delivered in the mother tongue of the people from the first. ^Ethclberht, the converted.king of Kent, was anxious to emulate the civilization of Rome in secular things also, and reduced the customs of his kingdom, so far as might be, to writing; but they were called dooms, not leges; they were issued in English, and were translated into Latin only after the lapse of some centuries. Other Kentish princes, and afterwards Lie of Wessex, followed the example; but the regular series of Anglo-Saxon laws begins towards the end of the ninth century with

Alfred's publication of his own dooms, and (it seems) an amended version of Ine's, in which these are now preserved. Through the century and a half between Alfred's time and Cnut's,1 legislation was pretty continuous and it was always in English. The later restoration of English to the statute roll after the medieval reign of Latin and French was not the new thing it seemed. It may be that the activity of the Wessex princes in legislation was connected with the conquest of the Western parts of England, and the need of having fixed rules for the conduct of affairs in the newly settled districts. No one doubts that a considerable West-Welsh population remained in this region, and it would have been difficult to apply any local West-Saxon custom to them.

Like all written laws, the Anglo-Saxon dooms have to be interpreted in the light of their circumstances. Unluckily for modern students, the matters of habit and custom which they naturally take for granted are those of which we now have least direct evidence. A large part of them is filled by minute catalgues of the fines and compositions payable for manslaughter, wounding, and other acts of violence. We may well suppose that in matters of sums and number such provisions often express an authoritative compromise between the varying though not widely dissimilar usages of local courts; at all events we have an undoubted example of a like process in the fixing of standard measures after the Conquest; and in some of the later Anglo-Saxon laws we get a comparative standard of Danish and English reckoning. Otherwise we cannot certainly tell how much is declaration of existing custom, or what we should now call consolidation, and how much was new. We know from Alfred's preamble to his laws, evidently framed with special care, that he did innovate to some extent, but, like a true father of English statesmen, was anxious to innovate cautiously. On the whole the Anglo-Saxon written laws, though of priceless use to students of the times, need a good deal of circumspection and careful comparison of other authorities for using

1 The so-called laws of Edward the Confessor, an antiquarian compilation of the twelfth century largely mixed with invention, do not even profess to be actual poems of the Confessor, but the customs of his time collected by order of William the Conqueror.

them aright. It is altogether misleading to speak of them as codes, or as if they were intended to be a complete exposition of the customary law.

We pass on to the substance of Anglo-Saxon law, so far as capable of being dealt with in a summary view. There were sharp distinctions between different conditions of persons, noble, free, and slave. We may talk of " serfs " if we like, but the Anglo-Saxon " theow " was much more like a Roman slave than a medieval villein. Not only slaves could be bought and sold, but there was so much regular slave-trading" that selling men beyond seas had to be specially forbidden. Slaves were more harshly punished than free men, and must have been largely at their owner's mercy, though there is reason to think that usage had a more advanced standard of humanity than was afforded by any positive rules. Manumission was not uncommon, and was specially favoured by the Church. The slave had opportunities (perhaps first secured under Alfred) for acquiring means of his own, and sometimes bought his freedom.

Among free men there were two kinds of difference. A man might be a lord having dependents, protecting them and in turn supported by them, and answerable in some measure for their conduct; or he might be a free man of small estate dependent on a lord. In the tenth century, if not before, every man who was not a lord himself was bound to have a lord on pain of being treated as unworthy of a free man's right; " lordlcss man" was to Anglo-Saxon ears much the same as " rogue and vagabond" to ours. This wide-spread relation of lord and man was one of the elements that in due time went to make up feudalism. It was not necessarily associated with any holding of land by the man from the lord, but the association was doubtless already common a long time before the Conquest, and there is every reason to think that the legally uniform class of dependent free men included many varieties of wealth and prosperity. Many were probably no worse off than substantial farmers, and many not much better than slaves.

The other legal difference between free men was their estimation for wergild, the " man's price" which a man's

kinsfolk were entitled to demand from his slayer, and which sometimes he might have to pay for his own offences; and this was the more important because the weight of a man's oath also varied with it. A thegn (which would be more closely represented by " gentilhomme" than by " nobleman") had a wergild six times as great as a ceorl's1 or common man's, and his oath counted for six common oaths before the court.2 All free men, noble or simple, looked to their kindred as their natural helpers and avengers; and one chief office of early criminal law was to regulate the blood-feud until there was a power strong enough to supersede it.

We collect from the general tenor of the Anglo-Saxon laws that the evils most frequently calling for remedy were manslaying, wounding, and cattle-stealing; it is obvious enough that the latter, when followed by pursuit in hot blood, was a natural and prolific source of the two former. The rules dealing with such wrongs or crimes (for archaic laws draw no firm line between public offence and private injury) present a strange contrast of crude ideas and minute specification, as it appears at first sight. Both are however really due to similar conditions. A society which is incapable of refined conceptions, but is advanced enough to require equal rules of some kind and to limit the ordinary power of its rulers, is likewise incapable of leaving any play for judicial discretion. Anglo-Saxon courts had not the means of apportioning punishment to guilt in the particular case, or assessing compensation according to the actual damage, any more than of deciding on the merits of conflicting claims according to the evidence. Thus the only way remaining open was to fix an equivalent in money or in kind for each particular injury: so much for life and so much for every limb and member of the human body. The same thing occurs with even greater profusion of detail in the other Germanic compilations of the Dark Ages. In the latter days of Anglo-Saxon mon-

1 The modern forms of these words, thane and churl, have passed through so much change of meaning and application that they cannot be safely used for historical purposes.

2 There were minor distinctions between ranks of free men which are now obscure, and were probably no less obscure in the thirteenth century: they seem to have been disregarded very soon after the Conquest.

archy treason was added to the rude catalogue of crimes, under continental influence ultimately derived from Roman law; but the sin of plotting against the sovereign was the more readily conceived as heinous above all others by reason of the ancient Germanic principle of faith between a lord and his men. This prominence of the personal relation explains why down to quite modern times the murder of a husband by his wife, of a master by his servant, and of an ecclesiastical superior by a clerk, secular or regular, owing him obedience, were specially classed as " petit treason " and distinguished from murder in general.1

Secret murder as opposed to open slaying was treated with special severity. This throws no light on our later criminal law; nor has it much to do with love of a fair fight, though this may have strengthened the feeling; rather it goes back to a time when witchcraft, and poisoning as presumably connected therewith, were believed to be unavoidable by ordinary caution, and regarded with a supernatural horror which is still easy to observe among barbarous people. With these exceptions, and a few later ones of offences reserved for the king's jurisdiction, crimes were not classified or distinguished in Anglo-Saxon custom save by the amount of public fine 2 and private composition required to redeem the wrong-doer's life in each case. Capital punishment and money payment, or rather liability to the blood-feud redeemable by money payment, and slavery for a thief who could not make the proper fine, were the only means of compulsion generally applicable, though false accusers and some other infamous persons were liable to corporal penalties. Imprisonment is not heard of as a substantive punishment; and it is needless to say that nothing like a system of penal discipline was known. We cannot doubt that a large number of offences, even notorious ones, went unpunished. The more skilled and subtle attacks on property, such as forgery and allied kinds of fraud, did not occur, not because men were more honest,

1 Bl. Com. iv. 203.

* Wile was probably, in its origin, rather a fee to the court for arranging the composition than a punishment. But it is treated as penal from the earliest period of written laws. In the tenth century it could mean pain or torment; see C. D. 1222 ad fin.

but because fraudulent documents could not be invented or employed in a society which knew nothing of credit and did not use writing for any common business of life.

Far more significant for the future development of English law are the beginnings of the King's Peace. In later times this became a synonym for public order maintained by the king's general authority; nowadays we do not easily conceive how the peace which lawful men ought to keep can be any other than the Queen's or the commonwealth's. But the king's justice, as we have seen, was at first not ordinary but exceptional, and his power was called to aid only when other means had failed. To be in the king's peace was to have a special protection, a local or personal privilege. Every free man was entitled to peace in his own house, the sanctity of the homestead being one of the most ancient and general principles of Teutonic law. The worth set on a man's peace, like that of his life, varied with his rank, and thus the king's peace was higher than any other man's. Fighting in the king's house was a capital offence from an early time. Gradually the privileges of the king's house were extended to the precincts of his court, to the army, to the regular meetings of the shire and hundred, and to the great roads. Also the king might grant special personal protection to his officers and followers; and these two kinds of privilege spread until they coalesced and covered the whole ground. The more serious public offences were appropriated to the king's jurisdiction; the king's peace was used as a special sanction for the settlement of blood-feuds, and was proclaimed on various solemn occasions; it seems to have been specially prominent -— may we say as a " frontier regulation " ? — where English conquest and settlement were recent.1 In the generation before the Conquest it was, to all appearance, extending fast. In this kind of development the first stage is a really exceptional right; the second is a right which has to be distinctly claimed, but is open to all who will claim it in the proper form; the third is the " common right " which the courts will take for granted. The

1 See the customs of Chester, D. B. i. 262 b, extracted in Stubbs, Sel. Ch.

Normans found the king's peace nearing, if not touching, the second stage.

Except for a few peculiar provisions, there is nothing in Anglo-Saxon customs resembling our modern distinctions between wilful, negligent, and purely accidental injuries. Private vengeance does not stop to discriminate in such matters, and customary law which started from making terms with the avenger could not afford to take a more judicial view. This old harshness of the Germanic rules has left its traces in the Common Law down to quite recent times. A special provision in Alfred's laws recommends a man carrying a spear on his shoulder to keep the point level with the butt; if another runs on the point so carried, only simple compensation at most1 will be payable. If the point has been borne higher (so that it would naturally come in a man's face), this carelessness may put the party to his oath to avoid a fine. If a dog worried or killed any one, the owner was answerable in a scale of fines rising after the first offence ;2 the indulgence of the modern law which requires knowledge of the dog's habits was unknown. But it may be doubted whether these rules applied to anything short of serious injury. Alfred's wise men show their practical sense by an explanatory caution which they add: the owner may not set up as an excuse that the dog forthwith ran away and was lost. This might otherwise have seemed an excellent defence according to the archaic notion that the animal or instrument which docs damage carries the liability about with it, and the owner may free himself by abandoning it (noxa caput sequitur).3

We have spoken of money payments for convenience; but it does not seem likely that enough money was available, as a rule, to pay the more substantial wergilds and fines; and it must once have been the common practice for the pacified avenger to accept cattle, arms, or valuable ornaments, at a price agreed between the parties or settled by the court. The alternative of delivering cattle is expressly mentioned in some of the earlier laws.

1 y£lf. The statement is rather obscure. '^Elf. 23. 'See Holmes, the Common Law, 7-1;?.

As for the law of property, it was rudimentary, and inextricably mixed up with precautions against theft and charges of theft. A prudent buyer of cattle had to secure himself against the possible claim of some former owner who might allege that the beasts had been stolen. The only way to do this was to take every step in public and with good witness. If he set out on a journey to a fair, he would let his neighbours know it. When he did business either far or near, he would buy only in open market and before credible persons, and, if the sale were at any distance from home, still more if he had done some trade on the way without having set out for the purpose, he would call the good men of his own township to witness when he came back driving his newly-gotten oxen, and not till then would he turn them out on the common pasture. These observances, probably approved by longstanding custom, are prescribed in a whole series of ordinances on pain of stringent forfeitures.1 Even then a purchaser whose title was challenged had to produce his seller, or, if he could not do that, clear himself by oath. The seller might produce in turn the man from whom he had bought, and he again might do the like; but this process (" vouching to warranty " in the language of later medieval law) could not be carried more than three steps back, to the " fourth hand " including the buyer himself. All this has nothing to do with the proof of the contract in case of a dispute between the original parties to the sale; it is much more aimed at collusion between them, in fact at arrangements for the receipt and disposal of stolen goods. The witnesses to the sale are there not for the parties' sake, but as a check in the public interest. We are tempted at first sight to think of various modern enactments that require signature or other formalities as a condition of particular kinds of contracts being enforceable; but their provisions belong to a wholly different category.

Another archaic source of anxiety is that borrowed arms

may be used in a fatal fight and bring the lender into trouble.

The early notion would be that a weapon used for manslay-

ing should bring home the liability with it to the owner, quite

^ee especially Edg. iv. 6-11.

regardless of any fault; which would afterwards become a more or less rational presumption that he lent it for no good purpose. Then the risk of such weapons being forfeited continued even to modern times. Hence the armourer who takes a sword or spear to be repaired, and even a smith who takes charge of tools, must warrant their return free from blood-guiltiness, unless it has been agreed to the contrary.1 We also find, with regard to the forfeiture of things which " move to death," that even in case of pure accident, such as a tree falling on a woodman, the kindred still have their rights. They may take away the tree if they will come for it within thirty days.2

There was not any law of contract at all, as we now understand it. The two principal kinds of transaction requiring the exchange or acceptance of promises to be performed in the future were marriage and the payment of wergild. Apart from the general sanctions of the Church, and the king's special authority where his peace had been declared, the only ways of adding any definite security to a promise were oath and giving of pledges. One or both of these were doubtless regularly used on solemn occasions like the settlement of a blood-feud; and we may guess that the oath, which at all events carried a spiritual sanction, was freely resorted to for various purposes. But business had hardly got beyond delivery against ready money between parties both present, and there was not much room for such confidence as that on which, for example, the existence of modern banking rests. How far the popular law took any notice of petty trading disputes, such as there were, we arc not informed; it seems likely that for the most part they were left to be settled by special customs of traders, and possibly by special local tribunals in towns and markets. Merchants trafficking beyond seas, in any case, must have relied on the customs of their trade and order rather than the cumbrous formal justice of the time.

Anglo-Saxon landholding has been much discussed, but is still imperfectly understood, and our knowledge of it, so far from throwing any light on the later law, depends largely 1JElf. 19. 'Mlf. 13.

on what can be inferred from Anglo-Norman sources. It is certain that there were a considerable number of independent free men holding land of various amounts down to the time of the Conquest. In the eastern counties some such holdings, undoubtedly free, were very small indeed.1 But many of the lesser free men were in practical subjection to a lord who was entitled to receive dues and services from them; he got a share of their labour in tilling his land, rents in money and kind, and so forth. In short they were already in much the same position as those who were called villeins in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Also some poor free men seem to have hired themselves out to work for others from an early time.2 We know next to nothing of the rules under which free men, whether of greater or lesser substance, held " folk-land," that is, estates governed by the old customary law. Probably there was not much buving and selling of such land. There is no reason to suppose that alienation was easier than in other archaic societies, and some local customs found surviving long after the Conquest point to the conclusion that often the consent of the village as well as of the family was a necessary condition of a sale. Indeed it is not certain that folk-land, generally speaking, could be sold at all. There is equally no reason to think that ordinary free landholders could dispose of their land by will, or were in the habit of making wills for any purpose. Anglo-Saxon wills (or rather documents more like a modern will than a modern deed) exist, but they are the wills of great folk, such as were accustomed to witness the king's charters, had their own wills witnessed or confirmed by bishops and kings, and held charters of their own; and it is by no means clear that tho lands dealt with in these wills were held as ordinary folk-land. In some cases it looks as if a special licence or consent had been required; we also hear of persistent attempts by the heirs to dispute even gifts to great churches.3

Soon after the conversion of the south of England to Christianity, English kings began to grant the lordship and

•Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, 106. =/Elf. 43. 3 See C. D. 226 compared with 236.

revenues of lands, often of extensive districts, to the Church, or more accurately speaking to churches, by written charters framed in imitation of continental models. Land held under these grants by charter or " book," which in course of time acquired set forms and characters peculiar to England, was called bookland, and the king's bounty in this kind was in course of time extended to his lay magnates. The same extraordinary power of the king, exercised with the witness and advice1 of his witan, which could confer a title to princely revenues, could also confer large disposing capacities unknown to the customary law; thus the fortunate holder of bookland might be and often was entitled not only to make a grant in his lifetime or to let it on such terms as he chose, but also to leave it by will. My own belief is that the land given by the Anglo-Saxon wills which are preserved was almost always bookland even when it is not so described. Indeed these wills are rather in the nature of postponed grants, as in Scotland a " trust disposition " had to be till quite lately, than a true last will and testament as we now understand it. They certainly had nothing to do with the Roman testament.2

Long before the Conquest it had become the ambition of every man of substance to hold bookland, and we may well think that this was on the way to become the normal form of land-ownership. But this process, whatever its results might have been, was broken off by the advent of Norman lords and Norman clerks with their own different set of ideas and forms.

The various customs of inheritance that are to be found even to this day in English copyholds, and to a limited extent in freehold land, and which arc certainly of great antiquity, bear sufficient witness that at least as much variety was to be found before the Conquest. Probably the least usual of the typical customs was primogeniture; preference of the youngest son, ultimogeniture or junior-right as recent authors have called it, the " borough-English " of our post-

*A strictly accurate statement in few words is hardly possible. See the section " Book-land and Folk-land" in Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 244 sqq.

2 See'P. & M., Hist. Eng. L., hk. II. c. vi. § 3.

Norman books, was common in some parts; preference of the youngest daughter, in default of sons, or even of the youngest among collateral heirs, was not unknown. But the prevailing type was equal division among sons, not among children including daughters on an equal footing as modern systems have it.1 Here again the effect of the Norman Conquest was to arrest or divert the native lines of growth. In this country we now live under laws of succession derived in part from the military needs of Western Europe in the early Middle Ages, and in part from the cosmopolitan legislation of Justinian, the line between the application of the two systems being drawn in a manner which is accounted for by the peculiar history of our institutions and the relations between different jurisdictions in England, but cannot be explained on any rational principle. But the unlimited freedom of disposal by will which we enjoy under our modern law has reduced the anomalies of our intestate succession to a matter of only occasional inconvenience.

Small indeed, it is easy to perceive, is the portion of Anglo-Saxon customs which can be said to have survived in a recognizable form. This fact nevertheless remains compatible with a perfectly real and living continuity of spirit in our legal institutions.

1 The discussion which would be necessary if we were here studying Germanic customs for their own sake, or as part of a comparative study of archaic customs in general, is deliberately left aside as irrelevant to the purpose in hand.



4. The Centralization of Norman Justice under Henry II.


5. Edward I, the English Justinian.


6. English Law and the Renaissance.


7. Roman Law Influence in Chancery, Church Courts,

Admiralty, and Law Merchant.


8. The History of the Canon Law in England.


9. The Development of the Law Merchant.


10. A Comparison of the History of Legal Development

at Rome and in England.




THE building up of his mighty empire was not the only task which filled the first years of Henry's reign. Side by side with this went on another work of peaceful internal administration which we can but dimly trace in the dearth of all written records, but which was ultimately to prove of far greater significance than the imperial schemes that in the eyes of his contemporaries took so much larger proportions and shone with so much brighter lustre.

The restoration of outward order had not been difficult, for the anarchy of Stephen's reign, terrible as it was, had only passed over the surface of the national life and had been vanquished by a single effort. But the new ruler of England had to begin his work of administration not only amid the temporary difficulties of a general disorganization, but amid the more permanent difficulties of a time of transition, when society was seeking to order itself anew in its passage from the mediaeval to the modern world; and his victory over the most obvious and aggressive forms of disorder was the least part of his task. Through all the time of anarchy powerful forces had been steadily at work with which the king had now to reckon. A new temper and new aspirations had been kindled by the troubles of the last

1 These passages are extracted from " Henry II" (Twelve English Statesmen), 1888, cc. Ill, IV, V, and IX (London: Macmillan & Co.). The authoress writes to the Committee: "I remember that Sir James Stephen spoke to me warmly of the book and said that I had not made a single legal error."

2 Other Publications: Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, 1894; Oxford Studies, 1901; The Conquest of England, 1883 (ed.)"; Short History of the English People, 1888 (ed.) ; Historical Studies, 1903 (ed.).

years. The deposition of Stephen, the elections of Matilda and of Henry, had been so many formal declarations that the king ruled by virtue of a bargain made between him and his people, and that if he broke his contract he justly forfeited his authority. The routine of silent and submissive councils had been broken through, and the earliest signs of discussion and deliberation had discovered themselves; while the Church, exerting in its assemblies an authority which the late king had helplessly laid down, formed a new and effective centre of organized resistance to tyranny in the future. Even the rising towns had seized the moment when the central administration was paralysed to extend their own privileges, and to acquire large powers of self-government which were to prove the fruitful sources of liberty for the whole people. . . .

It was these new conditions of the national life which constituted the real problem of government — a problem far more slow and difficult to work out than the mere suppression of a turbulent baronage. In the rapid movement towards material prosperity, the energies of the people were in all directions breaking away from the channels and limits in which they had been so long confined. Rules which had been sufficient for the guidance of a simple society began to break down under the new fulness and complexity of the national life, and the simple decisions by which questions of property and public order had been solved in earlier times were no longer possible. Moreover, a new confusion and uncertainty had been brought into the law in the last hundred years by the effort to fuse together Norman and English custom. Norman landlord or Norman sheriff naturally knew little of English law or custom, and his tendency was always to enforce the feudal rules which he practised on his Norman estates. In course of time it came about that all questions of land-tenure and of the relations of classes were regulated by a kind of double system. The Englishman as well as the Norman became the " man " of his lord as in Norman law, and was bound by the duties which this involved. On the other hand, the Norman as well as the Englishman held his land subject to the customary burdens and

rights recognized by English law. Both races were thus made equal before the law, and no legal distinction was recognized between conqueror and conquered. There was, however, every element of confusion and perplexity in the theory and administration of the law itself, in the variety of systems which were contending for the mastery, and in the inefficiency of the courts in which they were applied. English law had grown up out of Teutonic custom, into which Roman tradition had been slowly filtering through the Dark Ages. Feudal law still bore traces of its double origin in the system of the Teutonic " comitatus " and of the Roman " beneficium." Forest law, which governed the vast extent of the king's domains, was bound neither by Norman forms nor by English traditions, but was framed absolutely at the king's will. Canon law had been developed out of customs and precedents which had served to regulate the first Christian communities, and which had been largely formed out of the civil law of Rome. There was a multitude of local customs which varied in every hundred and in every manor, and which were preserved by the jealousy that prevailed between one village and another, the strong sense of local life and jurisdiction, and the strict adherence to immemorial traditions.

These different codes of law were administered in various courts of divers origins. The tenant-in-chief of the king who was rich enough had his cause carried to the King's Court of barons, where he was tried by his peers. The poorer vassals, with the mass of the people, sought such justice as was to be had in the old English courts, the Shire Court held by the sheriff, and, where this survived, the Hundred Court summoned by the bailiff. The lowest orders of the peasant class, shut out from the royal courts, could only plead in questions of property in the manor courts of their lords. The governing bodies of the richer towns were winning the right to exercise absolute jurisdiction over the burghers within their own walls. The Forest courts were held by royal officers, who were themselves exempt from all jurisdiction save that of the king. And under one plea or another all men in the State were liable for certain causes

to be brought under the jurisdiction of the newly-established Church courts. This system of conflicting laws was an endless source of perplexity. The country was moreover divided into two nationalities, who imperfectly understood one another's customary rights; and it was further broken into various classes which stood in different relations to the law. Those who had sufficient property were not only deemed entirely trustworthy themselves, but were also considered answerable for the men under them; a second class of freeholders held property sufficient to serve as security for their good behaviour, but not sufficient to make them pledges for others; there was a third and lower class without property, for whose good conduct the law required the pledge of some superior. In a state of things so complicated, so uncertain and so shifting, it is hard to understand how justice can ever have been secured; nor, indeed, could any general order have been preserved, save,for the fact that these early courts of law, having all sprung out of the same conditions of primitive life, and being all more or less influenced and so brought to some common likeness by the Roman law, did not differ very materially in their view of the relations between the subjects of the State, and fundamentally administered the same justice. Until this time too there had been but little legal business to bring before the courts. There was practically no commerce; there was little sale of land; questions of property were defined within very narrow limits; a mass of contracts, bills of exchange, and all the complicated transactions which trade brings with it, were only beginning to be known. As soon, however, as industry developed, and the needs of a growing society made themselves felt, the imperfections of the old order became intolerable. The rude methods and savage punishments of the law grew more and more burdensome as the number of trials increased; and the popular courts were found to be fast breaking down under the weight of their own ignorance and inefficiency.

The most important of these was the Shire Court. It still retained its old constitution; it preserved some tradition of a tribunal where the king was not the sole fountain of justice, and the memory of a law which was not the

" king's law." It administered the old customary English codes, and carried on its business by the old procedure. There came to it the lords of the manors with their stewards, the abbots and priors of the county with their officers, the legal men of the hundreds who were qualified by holding property or by social freedom, and from every township the parish priest, with the reeve and four men, the smiths, farmers, millers, carpenters, who had been chosen in the little community to represent their neighbours; and along with them stood the pledges, the witnesses, the finders of dead bodies, men suspected of crime. The court was, in fact, a great public meeting of the whole county; there was no rank or order which did not send some of its number to swell the confused crowd that stood round the sheriff. The criminal was generally put on his trial by accusation of an injured neighbour, who, accompanied by his friends, swore that he did not bring his charge for hatred, or for envy, or for unlawful lust of gain. The defendant claimed the testimony of his lord, and further proved his innocence by a simple or threefold compurgation — that is, by the oath.of a certain number of freemen among his neighbours, whose property gave them the required value in the eye of the law, and who swore together as " compurgators " that they believed his oath of denial to be " clean and unperjured." The faith of the compurgator was measured by his landed property, and the value of the joint-oath which was required depended on a most intricate and baffling set of arithmetical calculations, and differed according to the kind of crime, the rank of the criminal, and the amount of property which was in dispute, besides other differences dependent on local customs. Witnesses might also be called from among neighbours who held property and were acquainted with the facts to which they would " dare " to swear. The final judgment was given by acclamation of the " suitors " of the court — that is, by the owners of property and the elected men of the hundreds or townships; in other words, by the public opinion of the neighbourhood. If the accused man were of bad character by common report, or if he could find no friends to swear in his behalf, " the oath burst," and there remained for him

only the ordeal or trial by battle, which he might accept or refuse at his own peril. In the simple ordeal he dipped his hand in boiling water to the wrist, or carried a bar of red-hot iron three paces. If in consequence of his lord's testimony being against him the triple ordeal was used, he had to plunge his arm in water up to the elbow, or to carry the iron for nine paces. If he were condemned to the ordeal by water, his death seems to have been certain, since sinking was the sign of innocence, and if the prisoner floated he was put to death as guilty. The other alternative, trial by battle, which had been introduced by the Normans, was extremely unpopular in England; it told hardly against men who were weak or untrained to arms, or against the man of humble birth, who was allowed against his armed opponent neither horse nor the arms of a knight, but simply a leathern jacket, a shield of leather or wood, and a stick without knots or points.*

At the beginning of the reign of Henry II. the Shire courts seem to have been nearly as bad as they could be. Scarcely any attempt had been made, perhaps none had till now been greatly needed, to improve a system which had grown up in a dim and ruder past. The Norman kings, indeed, had introduced into England a new method of deciding doubtful questions of property by the " recognition " of sworn witness instead of by the English process of compurgation or ordeal. Twelve men, who must be freemen and hold property, were chosen from the neighbourhood, and as "jurors" were sworn to state truly what they knew about the question in dispute, and the matter was decided according to their witness or " recognition." If those who were summoned were unacquainted with the facts, they were dismissed and others called; if they knew the facts but differed in their statement, others were added to their number, till twelve at least were found whose testimony agreed together. These inquests on oath had been used by the Conqueror for fiscal purposes in the drawing up of Doomsday Book. From that time special " writs " from king or justiciar were occasionally granted, by which cases were withdrawn from the usual modes of trial in the local courts, and were decided

by the method of recognition, which undoubtedly provided a far better chance of justice to the suitor, replacing as it did the rude appeal to the ordeal or to battle by the sworn testimony of the chosen representatives, the good men and true, of the neighbourhood. But the custom was not yet governed by any positive and inviolable rules, and the action of the King's Court in this respect was imperfectly developed, uncertain, and irregular.

It is scarcely possible, indeed, to estimate the difficulties in the way of justice when Henry came to the throne. The wretched freeholders summoned to the Shire Court from farm and cattle, from mill or anvil or carpenter's bench, knew well the terrors of the journey through marsh and fen and forest, the dangers of flood and torrent, and perhaps of outlawed thief or murderer, the privations and hardships of the way; and the heavy fines which occur in the king's rolls for non-attendance show how anxiously great numbers of the suitors avoided joining in the troublesome and thankless business of the court. When they reached the place of trial a strange medley of business awaited them as questions arose of criminal jurisdiction, of feudal tenure, of English " sac and soc," of Norman franchises and Saxon liberties, with procedure sometimes of the one people, sometimes of the other. The days dragged painfully on, as, without any help from trained lawyers, the " suitors " sought to settle perplexed questions between opposing claims of national, provincial, ecclesiastical, and civic laws, or made arduous journeys to visit the scene of some murder or outrage, or sought for evidence on some difficult problem of fact. Evidence, indeed, was not easy to find when the question in dispute dated perhaps from some time before the civil war and the suppression of the sheriff's courts, for no written record was ever kept of the proceedings in court, and everything depended on the memory of witnesses. The difficulties of taking evidence by compurgation increased daily. A method which centuries before had been successfully applied to the local crimes of small and stationary communities bound together by the closest ties of kinship and of fellowship in possession of the soil, when every transaction was

inevitably known to the whole village or township, became useless when new social and industrial conditions had destroyed the older and simpler modes of life. The procedure of the courts was antiquated and no longer guided by consistent principles. Their modes of trial were so cumbrous, formal, and inflexible that it was scarcely possible to avoid some minute technical mistake which might invalidate the final decision.

The business of the larger courts, too, was for the most part carried on in French under sheriff, or bailiff, or lord of the manor. The Norman nobles did not know Latin, they were but gradually learning English; the bulk of the lesser clergy perhaps spoke Latin, but did not know Norman ; the poorer people spoke only English; the clerks who from this time began to note down the proceedings of the king's judges in Latin must often have been puzzled by dialects of English strange to him. When each side in a trial claimed its own customary law, and neither side understood the speech of the other, the president of the court had every temptation to be despotic and corrupt, and the interpreter between him and his suitors became an important person who had much influence in deciding what mode of procedure was to be followed. The sheriff, often holding a hereditary post and fearing therefore no check to his despotism, added to the burden of the unhappy freeholders by a custom of summoning at his own fancy special courts, and laying heavy fines on those who did not attend them. Even when the law was fairly administered there was a growing number of cases in which the rigid forms of the court actually inflicted injustice, as questions constantly arose which lay far outside the limits of the old customary law of the Germanic tribes, or of the scanty knowledge of Roman law which had penetrated into other codes. The men of that day looked too often with utter hopelessness to the administration of justice; there was no peril so great in all the dangers that surrounded their lives as the peril of the law; there was no oppression so cruel as the oppression wrought by the harsh and rigid forms of the courts. From such calamities the miserable and despairing victims could look for no help

save from the miraculous aid of the saints; and society at that time, as indeed it has been known to do in later days, was for ever appealing from the iniquity of law to God, — to a God who protected murderers if they murdered Jews, and defended robbers if they plundered usurers, who was, indeed, above all law, and was supposed to distribute a violent and arbitrary justice, answering to the vulgar notion of an equity unknown on earth.

We catch a glimpse of a trial of the time in the story of a certain Ailward, whose neighbour had refused to pay a debt which he owed him. Ailward took the law into his own hands, and broke into the house of his debtor, who had gone to the tavern and had left his door fastened with the lock hanging down outside, and his children playing within. Ailward carried off as security for his debt the lock, a gimlet, and some tools, and a whetstone which hung from the roof. As he sauntered home, however, his furious neighbour overtook him, having heard from the children what had been done. He snatched the whetstone from Ailward's hand and dealt him a blow on the head with it, stabbed him in the arm with a knife, and then triumphantly carried him to the house which he had robbed, and there bound him as " an open thief " with the stolen goods upon him. A crowd gathered round, and an evil fellow, one Fulk, the apparitor, an underling of the sheriff employed to summon criminals to the court, remarked that as a thief could not legally be mutilated unless he had taken to the value of a shilling, it would be well to add a few articles to the list of stolen goods. Perhaps Ailward had won ill-fame as a creditor, or even, it may be, a money-lender in the village, for his neighbours clearly bore him little good-will. The crowd readily consented. A few odds and ends were gathered — a bundle of skins, gowns, linen, and an iron tool, — and were laid by Ailward's side; and the next day, with the bundle hung about his neck, he was taken before the sheriff and the knights, who were then holding a Shire Court. The matter was thought doubtful; judgment was delayed, and Ailward was made fast in Bedford jail for a month, till the next county court. There the luckless man sent for a priest of

the neighbourhood, and confessing his sins from his youth up, he was bidden to hope in the prayers of the blessed Virgin and of all the saints against the awful terrors of the law, and received a rod to scourge himself five times daily; while through the gloom shone the glimmer of hope that having been baptized on the vigil of Pentecost, water could not drown him nor fire burn him if he were sent to the ordeal. At last the month went by and he was again carried to the Shire Court, now at Leighton Buzzard. In vain he demanded single combat with Fulk, or the ordeal by fire; Fulk, who had been bribed with an ox, insisted on the ordeal of water, so that he should by no means escape. Another month passed in the jail of Bedford before he was given up to be examined by the ordeal. Whether he underwent it or whether he pleaded guilty when the judges met is uncertain, but however this might be, " he received the melancholy sentence of condemnation; and being taken to the place of punishment, his eyes were pulled out and he was mutilated, and his members were buried in the earth in the presence of a multitude of persons.". . .

Such were in brief outline some of the difficulties which made order and justice hard to win. Society was helpless to protect itself: news spread slowly, the communication of thought was difficult, common action was impossible. Amid all the shifting and half understood problems of mediaeval times there was only one power to which men could look to protect them against lawlessness, and that was the power of the king. No external restraints were set upon his action; his will was without contradiction. The mediaeval world with fervent faith believed that he was the very spring and source of justice. In an age when all about him was changing, and when there was no organized machinery for the administration of law, the king had himself to be judge, lawgiver, soldier, financier, and administrator; the great highways and rivers of the kingdom were in " his peace;" the greater towns were in his demesne; he was guardian of the poor and defender of the trader; he was finance minister in a society where economic conditions were rapidly changing; he represented a developed system of law as opposed to the

primitive customs of feud and private war; he was the only arbiter of questions that grew out of the new conflict of classes and interests; he alone could decree laws at his absolute will and pleasure, and could command the power to carry out his decrees; there was not even a professional lawyer who was not in his court and bound to his service.

Henry saw and used his opportunity. Even as a youth of twenty-one he assumed absolute control in his courts with a knowledge and capacity which made him fully able to meet trained lawyers, such as his chancellor, Thomas, or his justiciar, De Lucy. Cool, businesslike, and prompt, he set himself to meet the vast mass of arrears, the questions of jurisdiction and of disputed property, which had arisen even as far back as the time of Henry I., and had gone unsettled through the whole reign of Stephen, to the ruin and havoc of the land in question. He examined every charter that came before him; if any was imperfect he was ready to draw one up with his own hand; he watched every difficult point of law, noted every technical detail, laid down his own position with brief decision. In the uncertain and transitional state of the law the king's personal interference knew scarcely any limits, and Henry used his power freely. But his unswerving justice never faltered. Gilbert de Bailleul, in some claim to property, ventured to make light of the charter of Henry I., by which it was held. The king's wrath blazed up. " By the eyes of God," he cried, " if you can prove this charter false, it would be worth a thousand pounds to me! If," he went on, " the monks here could present such a charter to prove their possession of Clarendon, which I love above all places, there is no pretence by which I could refuse to give it up to them! " . . .

Henry began his work of reorganization by taking up the work which his grandfather had begun — that of replacing the mere arbitrary power of the sovereign by a uniform system of administration, and bringing into order the vaii-ous conflicting authorities which had been handed down from ancient times, royal courts and manor courts, church courts, shire courts, hundred courts, forest courts, and local courts in special franchises, with all their inextricable confusion of

law and custom and procedure. Under Henry I. two courts, the Exchequer and the Curia Regis, had control of all the financial and judicial business of the kingdom. The Exchequer filled a far more important place in the national life than the Curia Regis, for the power of the king was simply measured by the state of the treasury, when wars began to be fought by mercenaries, and justice to be administered by paid officials. The court had to keep a careful watch over the provincial accounts, over the moneys received from the king's domains, and the fines from the local courts. It had to regulate changes in the mode of payment as the use of money gradually replaced the custom of payments in kind. It had to watch alterations in the ownership and cultivation of land, to modify the settlement of Doomsday Book so as to meet new conditions, and to make new distribution of taxes. There was no class of questions concerning property in the most remote way which might not be brought before its judges for decision. Twice a year the officers of the royal household, the Chancellor, Treasurer, two Chamberlains, Constable, and Marshal, with a few barons chosen from their knowledge of the law, sat with the Justiciar at their head, as " Barons of the Exchequer " in the palace at Westminster, round the table covered with its " chequered " cloth from which they took their name. In one chamber, the Exchequer of Account, the " Barons " received the reports of the sheriffs from every county, and fixed the sums to be levied. In a second chamber, the Exchequer of Receipt, the sheriff or tax-farmer paid in his dues and took his receipts. The accounts were carefully entered on the treasurer's roll, which was called from its shape the Great Roll of the Pipe, and which may still be seen in our Record Office; the chancellor kept a duplicate of this, known as the Roll of the Chancery; and an officer of the king registered in a third Roll matters of any special importance. Before the death of Henry I. the vast amount and the complexity of business in the Exchequer Court made it impossible that it should any longer be carried on wholly in London. The " Barons " began to travel as itinerant judges through the country; as the king's special officers they held courts in the provinces,

where difficult local questions were tried and decided on the spot. So important did the work of finance become that the study of the Exchequer is in effect the key to English history at this time. It was not from any philosophic love of good government, but because the license of outrage would have interrupted the returns of the revenue that Henry I. claimed the title of the " Lion of justice." It was in great measure from a wish to sweep the fees of the Church courts into the royal Hoard that the second Henry began the strife with Becket in the Constitutions of Clarendon, and the increase of revenue was the efficient cause of the great reforms of justice which form the glory of his reign. It was the fount of English law and English freedom.

The Curia Regis was composed of the same great officers of the household as those who sat in the Exchequer, and of a few men chosen by the king for their legal learning; but in this court they were not known as " Barons " but as " Justices," and their head was the Chief Justice. The Curia Regis dealt with legal business, with all causes in which the king's interest was concerned, with appeals from the local courts, and from vassals who were too strong to submit to their arbitration, with pleas from wealthy barons who had bought the privilege of laying their suit before the king, besides all the perplexed questions which lay far beyond the powers of the customary courts, and in which the equitable judgment of the king himself was required. In theory its powers were great, but in practice little business was actually brought to it in the time of Henry I.; the distance of the court from country places, and the expense of carrying a suit to it, would alone have proved an effectual hindrance to its usefulness, even if the rules by which it was guided had been much more complete and satisfactory than they actually were.

The routine of this system of administration, as well as the mass of business to be done, effectually interfered with arbitrary action on the king's part, and the regular and methodical work of the organized courts gave to the people a fair measure of protection against the tyranny or caprice of the sovereign. But the royal power which was given over to

justices and barons did not pass out of the hands of the king. He was still in theory the fount of all authority and law, and could, whenever he chose, resume the powers that he had granted. His control was never relaxed; and in later days we find that while judges on circuit who gave unjust judgment were summoned before the Curia Regis at Westminster, the judges of the Curia Regis itself were called for trial before the king himself in his council.

The reorganization of these courts was fast completed under Henry's great justiciar, De Lucy, and the chancellor Thomas. The next few years show an amount of work done in every department of government which is simply astonishing. The clerks of the Exchequer took up the accounts and began once more regular entries in the Pipe Roll; plans of taxation were devised to fill the empty hoard, and to check the misery and tyranny under which the tax-payers groaned. The king ordered a new coinage which should establish a uniform system of money over the whole land. As late as the reign of Henry I. the dues were paid in kind, and the sheriffs took their receipts for honey, fowls, eggs, corn, wax, wool, beer, oxen, dogs, or hawks. When, by Henry's orders, all payments were first made in coin to the Exchequer, the immediate convenience was great, but the state of the coinage made the change tell heavily against the crown. It was impossible to adulterate dues in kind; it was easy to debase the coin when they were paid in money, and that money received by weight, whether it were coin from the royal mints, or the local coinages that had continued from the time of the early English kingdoms, or debased money from the private mints of the barons. Roger of Salisbury, in fact, when placed at the head of the Exchequer, found a great difference between the weight and the actual value of the coin received. He fell back on a simple expedient; in many places there had been a provision as old at least as Doomsday, which enacted that the money weighed out for town-geld should if needful be tested by re-melting. The treasurer extended this to the whole system of the Exchequer. He ordered that all money brought to the Exchequer should itself be tested, and the difference between its weight and real value paid by the

sheriff who brought it. The burden thus fell on the country, for the sheriff would of course protect himself as far as he could by exacting the same tests on all sums paid to him. If the pound was worth but ten shillings in the market no doubt the sheriff only took it for ten shillings in his court. Practically each tax, each due, must have been at least doubled, and the sheriff himself was at the mercy of the Exchequer moneyers. There was but one way to remedy the evil, by securing the purit}' of the coin, and twice during his reign Henry made this his special care.

In the absence of records we can only dimly trace the work of legal reform which was carried out by Henry's legal officers; but it is plain that before HGi certain great changes had already been fully established. A new and elaborate system of rules seems gradually to have been drawn up for the guidance of the justices who sat in the Curia Regis; and a new set of legal remedies in course of time made the chances of justice in this court greater than in any other court of the realm. The Great Assize, an edict whose date is uncertain, but which was probably issued during the first years of his reign, developed and set in full working order the imperfect system of " recognition " established by the Norman kings. Henceforth the man, whose right to his freehold was disputed, need but apply to the Curia Regis to issue an order that all proceedings in the local courts should be stopped until the " recognition " of twelve chosen men had decided who was the rightful owner according; to the common knowl-


edge of the district, and the barbarous foreign custom of settling the matter by combat was done away with. Under the new system the Curia Regis eventually became the recognized court of appeal for the whole kingdom. So great a mass of business was drawn under its control that the king and his regular ministers could no longer suffice for the work, and new judges had to be added to the former staff; and at last the positions of the two chief courts of the kingdom were reversed, and the King's Court took the foremost place in the amount and importance of its business.

The same system of trial by sworn witnesses was also gradually extended to the local courts. By the new-fashioned

royal system the legal men of hundreds and townships, the knights and freeholders, were ordered to search out the criminals of their district, and " present " them for trial at the Shire Court, — something after the fashion of the " grand jury " of to-day, save that in early times the jurors had themselves to bear witness, to declare what they knew of the prisoner's character, to say if stolen goods had been divided in a certain barn, to testify to a coat by a patch on the shoulder. By a slow series of changes which wholly reversed their duties, the " legal men " of the juries of " presentment " and of " recognition " were gradually transformed into the "jury" of to-day; and even now curious traces survive in our courts of the work done by the ancestors of the modern jury. In criminal cases in Scotland the oath still administered by the clerk to jurymen carries us back to an ancient time: " You fifteen swear by Almighty God, and as you shall answer to God at the great day of judgment, you will truth say and no truth conceal, in so far as you are to pass on this assize." The provincial administration was set in working order. New sheriffs took up again the administration of the shires, and judges from the King's Court travelled, as they had done in the time of Henry I., through the land. . . .

Henry, however, was at once met by a difficulty unknown to earlier days. The system which the Conqueror had established of separate courts for secular and ecclesiastical business had utterly broken down for purposes of justice. Until the reign of Stephen much of the business of the bishops was done in the courts of the hundred and the shire. The Church courts also had at first been guided by the customary law and traditions of the early English Church, which had grown up along with the secular laws and had a distinctly national character. So long, indeed, as the canon law remained somewhat vague, and the Church courts incomplete, they could work peaceably side by side with the lay courts; but with the development of ecclesiastical law in the middle of the twelfth century, it was inevitable that difficulties should spring up. The boundaries of civil and ecclesiastical law were wholly uncertain, the scientific study of law had hardly

begun, and there was much debatable ground which might be won by the most arrogant or the most skilful of. the combatants. Every brawl of a few noisy lads in the Oxford streets or at the gates of some cathedral or monastic school was enough to kindle the strife as to the jurisdiction of Church or State which shook mediaeval society to its foundation.

' The Church courts not only had jurisdiction over the whole clerical order, but exercised wide powers even over the laity. To them alone belonged the right to enforce spiritual penalties, to deal with cases of oaths, promises, anything in which a man's faith was pledged; to decide as to the property of intestates, to pronounce in every case of inheritance whether the heir was legitimate, to declare the law as to wills and marriage. Administering as they did an enlightened system of law, they profited by the new prosperity of the country, and the judicial and pecuniary disputes which came to them had never been so abundant as now. Henry was keenly alive to the fact that the archdeacons' courts now levied every year by their fines more money than the whole revenue of the crown. Young archdeacons were sent abroad to be taught the Roman law, and returned to preside over the newly-established archdeacons' courts; clergy who sought high office were bound to study before all things, even before theology, the civil and canon law. The new rules, however, were as yet incomplete and imperfectly understood in England ; the Church courts were without the power to put them in force; the procedure was hurried and irregular; the judges were often ill-trained, and unfit to deal with the mass of legal business which was suddenly thrown on them; the ecclesiastical authorities themselves shrank from defiling the priesthood by contact with all this legal and secular business, and kept the archdeacons in deacons' orders; the more religious clergy questioned whether for an archdeacon salvation were possible. In the eight years of Henry's rule one hundred murders had been committed by clerks who had escaped all punishment save the light sentences of fine and imprisonment inflicted by their own courts, and Henry bitterly complained that a reader or an acolyte might slay

a man, however illustrious, and suffer the loss of his orders.

Since the beginning of Henry's reign, too, there had been an enormous increase of appeals to Rome. Questions quite apart from faith or morals, and that mostly concerned property, were referred for decision to a foreign court. The great monasteries were exempted from episcopal control and placed directly under the Pope; they adopted the customs and laws which found favour at Rome; they upheld the system of appeals, in which their wealth and influence gave them formidable advantages. The English Church was no longer as in earlier times distinct from the rest of Christendom, but was brought directly under Roman influence. The clergy were more and more separated from their lay fellow citizens; their rights and duties were determined on different principles; they were governed by their own officers and judged by their own laws, and tried in their own courts; they looked for their supreme tribunal of appeal not to the King's Court, but to Rome; they became, in fact, practically freed from, the common law.

No king, and Henry least of all, could watch unmoved the first great body which threatened to stand wholly outside the law of the land; and the ecclesiastical pretensions of the time were perhaps well matched by the pretensions of the State.1 . . .

In February 1166 he drew up his long-delayed scheme. His plans were rapidly completed; by the 16th of March the new system was at work.

Such were the conditions under which appeared the famous Assize of Clarendon. For the first time in English history a code of laws was issued by the sole authority of the king, without any appeal to the sanction of binding and immutable " custom." Indeed, in all Europe there was no instance of national legislation which could be compared with it, for it was not till a hundred years later that the first code of laws since the time of the Carolingian Capitularies was drawn up in France. Its very name bears witness to the impression it

1 Here follows the account of the conflict with Becket and of the lat-ter's death. — EDS.

made in its own day. The word " law " was still reserved for certain solemn uses, for the unalterable code of Scripture or for the Roman law. Men questioned what to call this new decree, given at the king's will, and to be enforced just so long as he should choose, and their jealous conservatism took refuge in the word " assize," as later generations in the same difficulty fell back on such words as " provision," " statute," " ordinance."

The Constitutions of Clarendon two years before had lain down the principles which were to regulate the relations in England of Church and State. The Assize of Clarendon laid down the principles on which the administration of justice was to be carried out. Just as Henry had undertaken to bring Church courts and Church law under the king's control, so now he aimed at bringing all local and rival jurisdictions whatever into the same obedience. In form the new law was simple enough. It consisted of twenty-two articles which were drawn up for the use of the judges who were about to make their circuits of the provinces. The first articles described the manner in which criminals were to be " presented " before the justices or sheriff. The accusation was to be made by " juries," composed of twelve men of the hundred and four men of the township; the " presentment " of a criminal by a jury such as this practically implied that the man was held guilty by the public report of his own neighbourhood, and he was therefore forbidden such chance of escape as compurgation or the less dangerous forms of ordeal might have afforded, and was sent to the almost certain condemnation of the ordeal by water; if by some rare fortune he should escape from this alive he was banished from the kingdom as a man of evil reputation. All freemen were ordered to attend the courts held by the justices. The judges were given power to enter on all estates of the nobles, to see that the men of the manor were duly enrolled under the system of " frank-pledge," in groups of ten men bound to answer for one another as " pledges " for all purposes of police. Strict rules were made to prevent the possible escape of criminals. The sheriffs were ordered to aid one another in carrying the hue and cry after them from one country to

another; no " liberty " or " honour " might harbour a malefactor against the king's officers ; sheriffs were to give to the justices in writing the names of all fugitives, so that they might be sought through all England; everywhere jails, in which doubtful strangers or suspected rogues might be shut up for safe keeping in case the " hue and cry " should be raised after them, were to be made or repaired with wood from the king's or the nearest landowner's domains; no man might entertain a stranger for whom he would not be answerable before the justices; the old English law was again repeated in the very words of ancient times, that none might take into his house a waif or wanderer for more than one night unless he or his horse were sick; and if he tarried longer he must be kept until he were redeemed by his lord or could give safe pledges; no religious house might receive any of the mean people into their body without good testimony as to character unless he were sick unto death; and heretics were to be treated as outlaws. These last indeed were not very plentiful in England, and the over-anxious legislators seem only to have had in view a little band of German preachers, who had converted one woman, and who had themselves at a late council at Oxford been branded, flogged, and driven out half-naked, so that there was by this time probably not one who had not perished in the cold.

Such was the series of regulations that opened the long course of reforms by which English law has been built up. Two judges were sent during the next spring and summer through the whole of England. The following year there was a survey of the forests, and in 1168 another circuit of the shires was made by the barons of the Exchequer. Year by year with unbroken regularity the terrible visitation of the country by the justices went on. The wealth of the luckless people poured into the king's treasury; the busy secretaries recorded in the Rolls a mass of profits unknown to the accounts of earlier days. The great barons who presided over the Shire courts found themselves practically robbed of power and influence. The ordinary courts fell into insignificance beside those summoned by the king's judges, thronged as they were with the crowd of rich and poor, trembling at

the penalty of a ruinous fine for non-attendance or full of a newly-kindled hope of justice. Important cases were more and more withdrawn from the sheriffs and given to the justices. They entered the estates of the nobles, even the franchises, liberties, and manors which had been freed from the old courts of the shire or hundred; they reviewed their decisions and interfered with their judgments. It is true that the system established in principle was but gradually carried into effect, and the people long suffered the tyranny of lords who maintained their own prisons. Half a century later we find sturdy barons setting up their tumbrils and gallows. In the reign of Edward I. there were still thirty-five private gallows in Berkshire alone, and when one of them was by chance or age broken down, and the people refused to set it up again, the baron could still make shift with the nearest oak. But as a system of government, feudalism was doomed from the day of Henry's Assize, and only dragged out a lingering existence till the legislation of Edward I. dealt it a final blow.

The duties of police were at that time performed by the whole population, and the judges' circuits brought home sharply to every man the part he was expected to play in the suppression of crime. Juries were fined if they had not " presented " a due amount of criminals; townships were fined if they had not properly pursued malefactors; villages were fined if a hut was burned down and the hue and cry was not raised, or if a criminal who had fled for refuge to their church escaped from it. A robber or murderer must be paid for by his " pledge," or if he had no pledge, a fine fell on his village or township; if a dead body were found and the slayer not produced, the hundred must pay for him, unless a legal form, called " proving his Englishry," could be gone through — a condition which was constantly impossible; the township was fined if the body had been buried before the coming of the coroner; abbot or knight or householder was heavily taxed for every crime of serf or hired servant under him, or even for the offences of any starving and worn-out pilgrim or traveller to whom he had given a three days' shelter. In the remotest regions of the country barons and

knights and freeholders were called to aid in carrying out the law. The " jurors " must be ready at the judges' summons wherever and whenever they were wanted. They must be prepared to answer fully for their district; they must expect to be called on all sorts of excuses to Westminster itself, and no hardships of the journey from the farthest corner of the land might keep them back. The " knights of the shire " were summoned as " recognitors " to give their testimony in all questions of property, public privilege, rights of trade, local liberties, exemption from taxes; if the king demanded an " aid " for the marriage of his daughter or the coming of age of his son, they assessed the amount to be paid; if he wanted to count an estate among the Royal Forests, it was they who decided whether the land was his by ancient right. They were employed too in all kinds of business for the Court; they might be sent to examine a criminal who had fled to the refuge of a church, or to see whether a sick man had appointed an attorney, or whether a litigant who pleaded illness was really in bed without his breeches. If in any case the verdict of the Shire Court was disputed, they were summoned to Westminster to repeat the record of the county. No people probably ever went through so severe a discipline or received so efficient a training in the practical work of carrying out the law, as was given to the English people in the hundred years that lay between the Assize of Clarendon in 1166 and the Parliament summoned by De Montfort in 1265, where knights from every shire elected in the county court were called to sit with the bishops and great barons in the common Parliament of the realm.

In the pitiless routine of their work, however, the barons of the Exchequer were at this early time scarcely regarded as judges administering justice so much as tax-gatherers for a needy treasury. Baron and churchman and burgher alike saw every question turn to a demand of money to swell the royal Hoard; jurors were fined for any trifling flaw in legal procedure; widows were fined for leave to marry, guardians for leave to receive their wards; if a peasant were kicked by his horse, if in fishing he fell from the side of his boat, or if in carrying home his eels or herrings he stumbled and was

crushed by the cart-wheel, his wretched children saw horse or boat or cart with its load of fish which in older days had been forfeited as " deodand " to the service of God, now carried off7 to the king's Hoard; if a miller was caught in the wheel of his mill the sheriff must see the price of it paid to the royal treasury. In the country districts where coin wa