27. WRITS CONCERNING FEUDAL TENURES[1]

(A) William I: Grant in Free Alms (1070-71)

William, king of England, to Baldwin, sheriff of Devonshire, and to all his barons and ministers of the province, greeting. Know that I have granted to my monks of Battle [Abbey] the church of St. Olave in Exeter, with all the lands of Sherford and Kenbury, and with all other lands and things belonging to that church. Wherefore I will and command that they shall hold it freely and peacefully, and that, as my royal alms (elemosina dominica), it shall be exempt from all custom of earthly service: [namely,] from all pleas and plaints and shires and hundreds,[2] and from all geld, scot, aid, gift,[3] Danegeld, and army [service], with sac and soc, toll and infangeneŝeof, and all work on castles and bridges.

Witnesses: Thomas, archbishop of York; William Fitz-Osbert. At Winchester.

(Latin) Oliver, Monasticon Dioecesis Exoniensis, p. 117.

(B) William I: Summons for Military Service (1072)

William, king of the English, to Aethelwig, abbot of Evesham, greeting. I command you to summon all those who are under your charge and administration[4] that they shall have ready before me at Clarendon on the octave of Pentecost all the knights that they owe me. Come to me likewise yourself on that day, and bring ready with you those five knights that you owe me from your abbey. Witness, Eudo the Steward. At Winchester.

(Latin) Round, Feudal England, p. 304.

(C) William II: Writ for the Collection of Relief (1095-96)

William, king of the English, to all French and English who hold free lands of the bishopric of Worcester, greeting. Know that, since the bishop has died, the honour has reverted into my own hand.[5] It is now my will that from your lands you give me such relief as I have assessed through my barons: [namely,] Hugh de Lacy £20; Walter Punther £20; Gilbert Fitz-Turold £5; Robert, bishop [of Hereford], £10; the abbot of Evesham £30; Walter of Gloucester £20; Roger Fitz-Durand £10....[6] And if any one refuses to do this, Urse and Bernard are to take both his lands and his chattels into my hand. Witnesses: Ranulf the Chaplain, Odo the Steward, Urse d'Abetot.

(Latin) Ibid., p. 309.

(D) Henry I: Grant Concerning Scutage (1127)

Henry, king of the English, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, etc., greeting. Know that to the church of St. Aetheldreda of Ely, for the love of God, for the souls of my father and mother, for the redemption of my sins, and on the petition of Hervey, bishop of the same church, I have forgiven £40 of those £100 which the aforesaid church was accustomed to give for scutage whenever scutage was assessed throughout my land of England; so that henceforth forever the church shall on that account give no more than £60 when scutage is levied throughout the land. And so let the aforesaid church be quit in perpetuity of the aforesaid [40] pounds.[7]

Witnesses: Roger, bishop of Salisbury; Geoffrey, my chancellor; Robert, [keeper] of the seal; William de Tancarville; William d'Aubigny, steward; Ralph Basset, Geoffrey de Clinton, William de Pont-de-l'Arche. At Eling during my crossing.

(Latin) Ibid., p. 268.

(E) Henry I: Grant of an Heiress with Lands (1121)

Henry, king of the English, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and sheriffs, to all his barons, French and English, and to all his faithful men of all England and Wales, greeting. Know that to Miles of Gloucester I have given and firmly granted Sibyl, daughter of Bernard de Neufmarché, with all the land of her father Bernard and of her mother after their death, or earlier — that is to say, during their lifetime, if they wish — and with this marriage portion:[8] namely, Talgarth, the forest of Ystradyw, the castle of Hay,[9] and the whole land of Bryn as far as the boundaries of the land of Richard Fitz-Pons — that is to say, as far as Cantref Bychan and Cowarne, a certain vill in England — also the fee and service of Roger de Baskerville, the fee and service of William Réveil, the fee and service of Robert de Turberville, and the fee and service of Picard. And I will and enjoin that all the tenants of the aforesaid [land given as] marriage portion shall perform liege homage to [the said Miles] as to their lord, saving my fealty. And all the tenants of all the aforesaid land of Bernard shall likewise perform liege homage to him as to their lord, saving my fealty and [saving the rights of] Bernard so long as he wishes to hold the land. And this I give and grant to [the said Miles] as the purchase of Bernard which he has given to me[10] — and this at the request of the said Bernard and of his wife and of his barons.[11 ]And I will and firmly enjoin that [the said Miles] shall hold it as well and as honourably, as quietly and as freely, as ever Bernard best and most honourably held it.

Witnesses: Roger, bishop of Salisbury; Robert, bishop of Lincoln; Ralph the Chancellor, Robert the King's Son, William de Tancarville, Nigel d'Aubigny, Payn Fitz-John, Geoffrey Fitz-Payn, Geoffrey de Clinton, Ralph Basset, William Brito d'Aubigny. In the same year that the king took in marriage the daughter of the duke of Louvain, between Easter and Pentecost.

(Latin) Round, Ancient Charters, p. 8.

(F) Subinfeudation by Charter (1121-22)

William Peverel of Dover to Hamund Peverel, his brother, and to William Peverel, his nephew, and to all his faithful men, French and English, as well as to all his friends, both present and future, greeting. Know that, for his service, I have given to Thurstan, my steward, and to all his heirs Gidding and Daywell, to be held of me and my heirs in fee and inheritance, with sac and soc, toll and team, and infangeneŝeof, in wood and in plain, in vill and in street, in fields and in meadows, in waters and in all other places, in return for the service of half a knight. Witnesses....

(Latin) Stenton, English Feudalism, p. 273.

(G) Exchange and Enfeoffment of Dower Land (c. 1123)

We desire [hereby] to make known that Walter of Gloucester has given Little Hereford in fee to William de Mare, his nephew, for the service of two knights. But since Walter of Gloucester and Miles, his son, earlier gave that aforesaid [Little] Hereford in dower to Sibyl, wife of the same Miles, they have given Bardsley in exchange to the same Sibyl, by the favour and grant of the said Miles. Moreover, the said Sibyl, by the counsel of her good men, of her own will and without any compulsion, has gratuitously ceded Little Hereford to William de Mare on account of the above-named exchange, having received, by way of token and testimony, a certain gold ring from the same William. Now of this grant and donation the witnesses are....

(Latin) Round, Ancient Charters, p. 19.

(H) Stephen: Confirmation of a Serjeanty

Stephen, king of the English, to the archbishop of York, to his barons, sheriffs, and ministers, and to all his faithful men of Yorkshire, French and English, greeting. Know that I have granted and confirmed to John, my larderer of York, and to David, his son, all his land which he holds of me in chief together with his office of larderer and his livery,[12] and all his lands, from whomsoever he holds them, as he was seised of them on the day that King Henry was alive and dead. Wherefore I will and command that he shall hold them well and in peace, freely and quietly, in wood and in plain, in meadows and pastures, in waters, mills, and marshes, in roads and in sown fields, and in all other places, with sac and soc, toll and team and infangeneŝeof, and with all the customs and liberties with which he ever held best and most freely in the time of King Henry.

Witnesses: Robert de Vere, Robert Fitz-Richard. At Nottingham.

(Latin) Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1385-89, p. 19.


[1] See Pollock and Maitland, I, 240 f.

[2] See above, p. 49, n. 2.

[3]Donum, a frequent substitute in the pipe rolls for auxilium or tallagium; cf. no. 37B.

[4] As Round pointed out, the abbot commanded the military forces of a considerable region; his owed service was only five knights.

[5] The feudal custom of northern France quite justified the seizure by a lord of a vacant bishopric or abbacy, but not the collection of a relief from the prelate's vassals. Abuses such as this led to Henry I's exaggerated promises on his accession (see no. 23). It is apparent that reliefs from lay baronies were already customary in the time of William II.

[6] Here in the text follow twenty-two other names with amounts ranging down to 20s.

[7] Despite the pious language of this charter, Henry's concession was not gratuitous; see above, p. 52.

[8] See above, p. 47, n. 3.

[9]Haia Talliata (Haie Taillé) a trimmed hedge.

[10] So that the king might bestow it on Miles.

[11] Note that the term baron did not as yet refer solely to a vassal of the king.

[12] See below, p. 67; also Round, The King's Serjeants and Officers of State, pp. 233 f. Besides his central larder, the king maintained various local larders, the chief function of which was the preservation of meat from his forests.


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