30. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON (1164)

In the year 1164 from the Incarnation of the Lord, in the fourth year of the papacy of Alexander [III], and in the twelfth year of Henry II, most illustrious king of the English, there was made, in the presence of the said king, this record and recognition[1] of a certain portion of the customs and liberties and rights of his ancestors — namely, of King Henry his grandfather and of others — which ought to be observed and held in the kingdom. And on account of the dissensions and disputes that had arisen between the clergy and the justices of the lord king and the barons of the realm concerning [such] customs and rights, this recognition was made in the presence of the archbishops, bishops, clergy, earls, barons, and magnates of the realm. Furthermore, Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, and Roger, archbishop of York, and Gilbert, bishop of London, and Henry, bishop of Winchester, and Nigel, bishop of Ely, and William, bishop of Norwich, and Robert, bishop of Lincoln, and Hilary, bishop of Chichester, and Jocelyn, bishop of Salisbury, and Richard, bishop of Chester, and Bartholomew, bishop of Exeter, and Robert, bishop of Hereford, and David, bishop of St. David's and Roger, [bishop] elect of Worcester, have granted and steadfastly promised, viva voce and on their word of truth, that the said customs, recognized by the archbishops, bishops, earls, and barons, and by the nobler and more venerable men of the realm, should be held and observed for the lord king and his heirs in good faith and without evil intent, these being present[2] ... and many other magnates and nobles of the realm, both clerical and lay.

Now a certain part of the recognized customs and rights of the kingdom are contained in the present writing, of which part these are the chapters: — 1. If controversy arises between laymen, between laymen and clergymen, or between clergymen, with regard to advowson and presentation to churches, it shall be treated or concluded in the court of the lord king.

2. Churches of the lord king's fee[3] may not be given in perpetuity without his assent and grant.

3. Clergymen charged and accused of anything shall, on being summoned by a justice of the king, come into his court, to be responsible there for whatever it may seem to the king's court they should there be responsible for; and [to be responsible] in the ecclesiastical court [for what] it may seem they should there be responsible for — so that the king's justice shall send into the court of Holy Church to see on what ground matters are there to be treated. And if the clergyman is convicted, or [if he] confesses, the Church should no longer protect him.[4]

4. Archbishops, bishops, and parsons of the kingdom are not permitted to go out of the kingdom without the licence of the lord king. And should they go out [of it], they shall, if the king so desires, give security that, neither in going nor in remaining nor in returning, will they seek [to bring] evil or damage to the king or to the kingdom.

5. Excommunicated men should not give security for all future time (ad remanens) or take an oath, but [should] merely [provide] security and pledge of standing by the judgment of the church in order to obtain absolution.

6. Laymen should not be accused except through known and lawful accusers and witnesses in the presence of the bishop, [yet] so that the archdeacon shall not lose his right or anything that he should thence have. And if the guilty persons are such that no one wishes or dares to accuse them, the sheriff, on being asked by the bishop, shall have twelve lawful men from the neighbourhood, or the vill, placed on oath before the bishop to set forth the truth in the matter according to their own knowledge.[5]

7. No one who holds of the king in chief, nor any of his demesne ministers, shall be excommunicated; nor shall the lands of any of them be placed under interdict, unless first the lord king, if he is in the land, or his justiciar, if he is outside the kingdom, agrees that justice shall be done on that person — and in such a way that whatever belongs to the king's court shall be settled there, and whatever belongs to the ecclesiastical court shall be sent thither to be dealt with there.

8. With regard to appeals, should they arise — they should proceed from the archdeacon to the bishop, and from the bishop to the archbishop. And if the archbishop fails to provide justice, recourse should finally be had to the lord king, in order that by his precept the controversy may be brought to an end in the court of the archbishop; so that it should not proceed farther[6] without the assent of the lord king.

9. If a claim is raised by a clergyman against a layman, or by a layman against a clergyman, with regard to any tenement which the clergyman wishes to treat as free alms, but which the layman [wishes to treat] as a lay fee, let it, by the consideration of the king's chief justice and in the presence of the said justice, be settled through the recognition of twelve lawful men whether the tenement belongs to free alms or to lay fee. And if it is recognized as belonging to free alms, the plea shall be [held] in the ecclesiastical court; but if [it is recognized as belonging] to lay fee, unless both call upon the same bishop or [other] baron, the plea shall be [held] in the king's court. But if, with regard to that fee, both call upon the same bishop or [other] baron, the plea shall be [held] in his court; [yet] so that, on account of the recognition which has been made, he who first was seised [of the land] shall not lose his seisin until proof [of the title] has been made in the plea.[7]

10. If any one in a city, castle, borough, or demesne manor of the lord king is summoned by an archdeacon or a bishop for some offence on account of which he ought to respond to the said persons, and if he refuses satisfaction on their summons, he may well be placed under an interdict; but he should not be excommunicated until the chief minister of the lord king in that vill has been called Upon to bring him to justice, so that he may come for satisfaction. And if the king's minister defaults in the matter, he shall be in the mercy of the lord king, and the bishop may then coerce that accused man through ecclesiastical justice.

11. Archbishops, bishops, and all parsons of the realm who hold of the king in chief have their possessions of the king as baronies and are answerable for them to the king's justices and ministers; also they follow and observe all royal laws and customs, and like other barons they should take part with the barons in the judgments of the lord king's court, until the judgment involves death or maiming.[8]

12. When an archbishopric, bishopric, abbey, or priory within the king's gift becomes vacant, it should be in his hands; and he shall thence take all revenues and income just as from his own demesne. And when it comes to providing for the church, the lord king should summon the greater parsons of the church, and the election should be held in the king's own chapel by the assent of the lord king and by the counsel of those parsons of the kingdom whom he has called for that purpose. And there the man elected should, before being consecrated, perform homage and fealty to the lord king as to his liege lord, for life and limbs and earthly honour,[9] saving the rights of his order.

13. If any of the magnates of the realm forcibly prevent an archbishop, bishop, or archdeacon from administering justice, either by himself or through his men, the lord king should bring them to justice. And if perchance any forcibly prevent the lord king from [administering] his justice, the archbishops, bishops, and archdeacons should bring them to justice, so that they may satisfy the lord king.

14. Chattels of those who have incurred royal forfeiture should not be withheld in any church or churchyard against the king's justice; for they are the king's own, whether they are found inside churches or outside them.

15. Pleas of debt, owed under pledge of faith[10] or without pledge of faith, belong to the king's justice.

16. Sons of peasants should not be ordained without the assent of the lord on whose land they are known to have been born.

Now the [present] record of the aforesaid royal rights and customs was made at Clarendon by the archbishops, bishops, earls, and barons, and by the more noble and venerable men of the realm, on the fourth day before the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the presence of the lord Henry, together with his father, the lord king. There are, moreover, other rights and customs, both many and great, of the Holy Mother Church, of the lord king, and of the barons of the realm, which are not contained in this writing; they are to be saved to Holy Church, to the lord king and his heirs, and to the barons of the realm, and are inviolably to be observed forever.

(Latin) Stubbs, Select Charters, pp. 163 f.


[l ]Recognitio, the same word as is often used for the verdict of a jury; see, for examples, no. 33.

[2] Here follow in the text thirty-eight names.

[3] That is to say, the right of appointing to a living, or advowson, held in fee of the king.

[4] It was over this article that the famous controversy between the king and Thomas Becket took place. For the best interpretation, see Pollock and Maitland, I, 447 f.

[5] The article deals with trials in ecclesiastical courts, of which the lowest was that of the archdeacon. In the final clause we have our first clear reference to the accusation jury, but it is significant that the institution is described as a feature of established custom under Henry I; see Pollock and Maitland, I, 151, and cf. no. 31.

[6] Be appealed to the papal court.

[7] The article is obscurely phrased, but its general purport is clear. The preliminary question, whether the land is held in free alms or not, is to be decided in the king's court by a recognition jury — the procedure known as the assize utrum (see no. 33C). Jurisdiction over further litigation is to be determined by the jury's verdict.

[8] Clergymen were forbidden by canon law to take life or shed blood.

[9] Cf. no. 26, art. 55.

[10] See Pollock and Maitland, II, 189 f.


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