64. RICHARD II: STATUTES AND ORDINANCES

(A) Appointment of Councillors (1377)

The king to all who shall see these letters, greeting. By the assent of the prelates, dukes, earls, barons, and others assembled beside us in our council held at Westminster on the morrow of our coronation, we recently ordained that twelve persons — that is to say, two bishops, two earls, two barons, two bannerets, and four bachelors — should be elected by us and them as our councillors to aid our chancellor and treasurer in affairs touching the estate, honour, and advantage of us, and of our kingdom, lordships, and lands; and that the said councillors thus to be elected should have, after their election, our letters patent [commissioning them] to carry out and execute the said matters; and that the said chancellor and treasurer should duly enforce the measures ordained by them and by the said elected [councillors], or by the majority of them. Whereupon [the following men] were elected by us and by the prelates and lords aforesaid.... And in our presence they were sworn as our councillors, to carry out and execute the said matters according to the form stated above so long as it should be our pleasure. We, wishing the said ordinance to be put into effect, have constituted and assigned the aforesaid men, thus elected, as our councillors to carry out and execute the said matters according to the form of the ordinance aforesaid.[1]... And so we shall hold firm and good whatever the said elected [councillors], together with the aforesaid chancellor and treasurer, or the majority of them, shall do in our name as stated above and in each and all of the aforesaid matters, and we will that it be strictly observed. In testimony whereof we have caused to be drawn up these our letters patent, to continue at our pleasure. Given at our palace of Westminster, July 20.

By writ of the king himself under the signet.

(French) Ibid., III, 386.

(B) Statute of 7 Richard II: For the Improvement of Justice (1384)

... Item, it is agreed and established that no man of law shall henceforth be justice of assize or of common jail delivery in his own country (patria), and that the chief justice of the common bench, among others, shall be assigned to hold assizes of this sort and to deliver jails; but with regard to the chief justice of the king's bench, let such action be taken as has been customary for the greater part of the past hundred years.

Item, ... after the said ordinance [of Edward III] had been recited in parliament, it was agreed and established that no justice of the king's bench or of the common bench, or any baron of the exchequer, so long as he held the office of justice or baron, should henceforth take, either by himself or through others, whether openly or in secret, any robe, fief, pension, gift, or reward from anybody except the king; nor [should he take] any present from anybody except one of food and drink which is not of great value. And [it is established] that henceforth [such justices and barons] shall not give counsel to any one, whether great or small, in causes or concerns to which the king is a party or which in any way touch the king; and that they are not to be of counsel to any one in any case, plea, or dispute pending before themselves or in any other great court or tribunal of the king, on penalty of forfeiting office and of paying fine and ransom to the king.[2]

Item, on complaint made by the same commons to the lord king in parliament, to the effect that great disherison of people had been caused in times past, and might yet be caused, through false entry of pleas, erasure of rolls, and alteration of verdicts, it was agreed and established that any one, whether judge or clerk, properly convicted before the king and his council ... of an offence of this sort ... should be punished by fine and redemption at the king's pleasure and should satisfy the party [defrauded]....

Item, whereas various pleas which touch the common law, and which ought to be discussed and determined according to the common law, are now by way of innovation coming to be drawn before the constable and the marshal of England,[3] to the serious damage and disturbance of the people: it is agreed and established that all pleas and disputes which touch the common law of the land, and which ought to be discussed and determined according to the common law, shall henceforth by no means be drawn or held before the aforesaid constable and marshal; but that the court of the same constable and marshal shall have [jurisdiction over] that which pertains to the said court, and the common law that which pertains to it; and let such action and usage continue as was customary in the time of the lord king's ancestors.

(Latin) Statutes of the Realm, II, 36 f.

(C) Ordinance Concerning Livery and Maintenance (1390)

Whereas ... in many of our parliaments previously held ... grievous complaint and great clamour has been made to us by the lords spiritual and temporal, as well as by the commons of our kingdom, concerning the great and outrageous oppression of maintenance, earned on to the damage of us and our people in various parts of the same kingdom by divers supporters ... of suits and inquests ... , among whom many are the more encouraged and emboldened in their aforesaid maintenance and wrongdoing because they are in the retinues of lords and others of our said kingdom [and are provided] with fees, robes, and other liveries called company liveries:[4 ][therefore] by the advice of our great council, we have ordained and straitly enjoined that neither prelate nor other man of Holy Church, nor bachelor, nor squire, nor other man of less estate shall bestow any sort of such livery as is called company livery; and that no duke, earl, baron, or banneret shall bestow such company livery on knight or squire, unless he is retained for the term of his life during peace and war and through indenture [made] without fraud or malice, or unless he is a domestic and family retainer living in the household; nor [shall such a nobleman bestow such livery] on any valet called "yeoman archer," or on any person of less estate, unless he is similarly a family retainer living in the household.... And [it is ordained] that no lord spiritual or temporal or other person, who has or shall have men in his retinue, shall suffer any who are with him to be in any way supporters ... of suits and inquests in the localities; but, as aforesaid, he shall oust them from his service and retinue as soon as it can be perceived [that they are wrongdoers of this sort] ...; and that none of our lieges, great or small, of whatsoever condition he may be, whether he is the retainer of some lord or is any other sort of person belonging to no retinue, shall undertake any quarrel other than his own or shall maintain it, by himself or through others, either openly or in secret; and that all those who, contrary to this our ordinance, use or wear such livery as is called company livery shall utterly abandon it within ten days after the proclamation of this same ordinance.... Given under our great seal at Westminster, May 12. By the king himself and the council.

(French) Ibid., II, 74 f.

(D) Ordinance Concerning the King's Council (1390)

In the first place, the lords of the council shall take pains to appear at the council by eight or nine o'clock at the latest.

Item, the affairs of the king and the kingdom are to be examined in preference to all others when the greater men of the council and the other officers are present.

Item, matters touching the common law are to be sent for determination before the justices.

Item, matters touching the office of chancellor are to be sent for determination before him in the chancery.

Item, matters touching the office of treasurer are to be sent for determination before him in the exchequer.

Item, all other matters, which cannot be settled without the special grace and permission of the king, are to be laid before him in order thereon to have his opinion and pleasure.

Item, no gift or grant that may be turned to the diminution of the king's profit shall be passed without the advice of the council and the assent of the dukes of Guienne, York, and Gloucester and of the chancellor, or of two of them.

Item, all other matters presented to the council in order to have their advice, and other matters of great weight, are to be determined by those of the council who are present, together with the officers.

Item, all other bills of less weight from the people[5] are to be examined and determined before the keeper of the privy seal and others of the council who may be present at the time.

Item, ordinances previously made by the assent of the king and of his council with regard to offices in his gift are to be held and observed.

Item, no steward or justice is henceforth to be appointed for the term of his life.

Item, bachelors who are of the king's council shall have reasonable wages for the time spent in work connected with the same council.

Item, lords who are of the same council shall receive consideration for their labour and expense by the advice of the king and his council.

Item, after one matter has been introduced in the council, they shall not pass on to any other matter until an answer has been given in the matter first introduced.

On March 8, in the thirteenth year, etc., this ordinance was made at Westminster in the presence of the king, there being in attendance the duke of Guienne, the duke of York, the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Northumberland, the earl of Huntingdon, the chancellor, the treasurer, the [keeper of the] privy seal, the steward, Lovell, Stury, and Dalynrigg.

(French) Nicolas, Proceedings of the Privy Council, I, 18a f.

(E) Statute of 15 Richard II: Restriction of Uses[6] (1391)

... Item, whereas it is contained in the statute De Religiosis[7] that no man of religion or other man whatsoever shall buy or sell, or under colour of gift or lease or other title of any sort shall receive from any one or in any way, by artifice or strategem, cause lands or tenements to be appropriated to himself from any one ... , so that the said lands and tenements come into mortmain: ... it is granted and agreed that all those who are possessed of lands, tenements, fiefs, advowsons, or other possessions by enfeoffment or in other fashion for the use of men of religion or of other spiritual persons ... shall, between now and the feast of St. Michael next, have them amortized by licence of the king and the lords [of the lands]; or, otherwise, [the holders] shall sell them and alienate them for another use between now and the said feast, on pain of their being forfeit to the king and the lords as tenements purchased by men of religion, according to the form of the statute De Religiosis. And from this time on, under the same penalty, no such purchase shall be made, so that such men of religion or other spiritual persons shall thereof enjoy the profits as aforesaid. And this same statute shall extend to and hold for all lands, tenements, fiefs, advowsons, and other possessions purchased or to be purchased for the use of gilds or fraternities.[8]...

(French) Statutes of the Realm, II, 79 f.

(F) Second Statute of Praemunire (1393)[9]

... Wherefore our said lord the king, by the assent aforesaid and at the prayer of his said commons, has ordained and established that, if any one purchases or pursues, or causes to be purchased or pursued, in the court of Rome or elsewhere, any such translations,[10] processes, sentences of excommunication, bulls, instruments, or anything else touching our lord the king that is inimical to him, his crown, his regality, or his aforesaid kingdom, as aforesaid; or if any one brings them into the kingdom, receives them, or thereof makes notification or any other execution, either within the said kingdom or outside it; such persons, their notaries, procurators, partisans, supporters, abettors, and counsellors are to be put outside the protection of our said lord the king, and their lands, tenements, goods, and chattels are to be forfeit to our lord the king. And [it is ordained] that, if they can be found, they are to be bodily attached and taken before the king and his council, there to respond in the cases aforesaid; or that process shall be brought against them by praemunire facias[11] in the manner provided by other statutes concerning provisors and other men who, in derogation of our lord the king's regality, bring suit in the court of another.

(French) Ibid., II, 85 f.


[1] They were especially commissioned to borrow money for the king's immediate needs.

[2] Cf. no. 53.

[3] Cf. no. 56, art. 26.

[4] This ordinance was one of many futile efforts to check the practice of keeping bands of uniformed retainers, organized like the notorious free companies in the French wars.

[5] That is to say, private petitions; see, for example, no. 70.

[6] On the law of uses, see Holdsworth, History of English Law, IV, 407 f.

[7] The Statute of Mortmain, no. 52B.

[8] The prohibition also extended to municipalities.

[9] The extremely long preamble is omitted.

[10] Removals of ecclesiastics from one office to another.

[11] The special writ after which the statute came to be named; cf. no. 62G.


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