(A) Statute of Gloucester (1278)

In the year of grace 1278, the sixth of the reign of King Edward, son of King Henry, at Gloucester in the month of August, the same king, having summoned the more discreet men of his kingdom, both greater and lesser, has made provision for the betterment of his kingdom and the fuller administration of justice, as is demanded by the kingly office....

The sheriffs shall have it commonly proclaimed throughout their bailiwicks — that is to say, in cities, boroughs, trading towns, and elsewhere — that all those who claim to have any franchises by charters of the king's predecessors, kings of England, or by other title, shall come before the king or before the itinerant justices on a certain day and at a certain place to show what sort of franchises they claim to have, and by what warrant[2] [they hold them].... And if those who claim to have such franchises do not come on the day aforesaid, those franchises shall then be taken into the king's hand by the local sheriff in the name of distress; so that they shall not enjoy such franchises until they come to receive justice....

(French) Statutes of the Realm, I, 45 f.

(B) Statute of Mortmain (1279)

The king to his justices of the bench, greeting. Whereas it was formerly enacted[3] that men of religion should not enter upon the fiefs of any persons without the consent and licence of the principal lords from whom those fiefs were immediately held; and whereas since then men of religion have nevertheless entered upon the fiefs of others as well as their own — by appropriating them, buying them, and sometimes by receiving them through gifts of other men — whereby the services which are owed from fiefs of this sort, and which were originally established for the defence of the kingdom, are wrongfully withheld and the principal lords [are caused to] lose their escheats: [therefore] we, seeking in this connection to provide a suitable remedy for the good of the kingdom, by the counsel of the prelates, earls, and other faithful men of our kingdom who are members of our council, have enacted, established, and ordained that no man of religion or any other whatsoever shall buy or sell lands or tenements, or under colour of donation, lease, or other title of any sort shall receive them from any one, or presume artfully and craftily to appropriate them in any way whatsoever, whereby land and tenements of this sort may somehow come into mortmain[4] — under pain of forfeiting the same [lands or tenements].... And so we command you to have the aforesaid statute read in your presence and henceforth strictly held and observed.

By witness of the king, at Westminster, November 25, in the seventh year of our reign.

(Latin) Stubbs, Select Charters, pp. 451 f.

(C) Ordinance for the Household (1279)

... It is ordained and commanded that the stewards, or one [of them] if both cannot be [there] together, with the treasurer,[5] or the comptroller if the treasurer cannot be [there], one of the marshals of the hall, and the clerks and serjeants of the offices[6] shall be present each night for [drawing up] the account of the household. And there, by the witness of the ushers of the hall, the servings of food in the hall (mes de la sale) are to be checked; and according to the number of the servings, the issues from the pantry, butlery, and kitchen are to be checked. And if there is irregularity, let it be corrected and the serjeants be reproved. Each night on the margin of the household roll is to be written the [amount of] wine dispensed during the day; so that, by the testimony of this roll which bears the record of the household, we may two or three times a year audit the account of the tuns of wine [dispensed]. Next the wages of the serjeants, squires, and grooms are to be there examined, as has been accustomed. And if at the account any wrongdoing is presented which is not so bad as to require being brought to the king's attention, let it be punished there at the discretion of the stewards and the treasurer — by the withholding of wages or in some other way according to what they may think best — so that the lord [king] shall not be bothered with affairs that can be settled by those [officials].

The treasurer, having called to him one of the stewards, or both of them, shall once or twice in every year audit the account of the chamberlain of wines; so that he may clearly know how many pieces come from each port and from each ship, and the names of the persons from whom the wines have been taken, parcel by parcel, and how much is through purchase and how much through prise.[7] And this account is to be audited and checked by the treasurer and one of the stewards in such fashion that the treasurer can present a summary of it in his account at the feast of St. Edmund the King, when he renders his account.

In the same way the treasurer shall draw up the account of the great wardrobe.[8]... And it is to be noted that the treasurer shall henceforth have all articles for the great wardrobe bought at three fairs a year by a certain man, who shall be keeper of the great wardrobe and shall go to fairs to make the purchases; and he shall be put on oath to the king for this particular office. And the usher of the wardrobe shall be comptroller for him, going to fairs with him to view his purchases and at the account witnessing liveries [made by him].... And the aforesaid keeper shall not purchase anything or deliver anything to anybody without the special command of the treasurer, and this in the presence of the comptroller....

The usher of the wardrobe should each day have the wax and candle-wicks weighed — what is to be made [into candles] and what is to be kept. And each night [he should] weigh what is given out in livery and on the morrow reweigh what is left; so that through such weights he may know what has been dispensed each night, and the sum of it all at the end of the year.... And the chandler shall have nothing in his charge except what is to be dispensed at night, as delivered to him by the usher.

And whereas it is rightful that the household of Madame [the queen] should be regulated according to the ordinance of the king's household, it is ordered that the steward of Madame, or the man who is in charge of her household, shall each night be present at the account for the king's household, together with the pantler, the butler, the chief cook, and the marshal of her chamber....

Furthermore, it is ordained that the marshals, or one of them, shall make the circuit of the household each month of the year, or more often if they see fit, to clear it of rascally men and women, and of horses belonging to them, so that they shall take no hay, or oats, or wages. And [the marshals] shall do the same for the household of Madame. And the marshals of the hall and the ushers shall also see to it that the hall is well cleared of strange people and of rascals who should not eat [there], and that the hall is served well and for the common good (comunaument) and that no knight has more than one squire eating in the hall.

The evening livery of wine and candles shall all be made by the king's men, as well for the household of Madame as elsewhere. And the treasurer and the stewards shall see to it that no liveries are made outside except in a proper place, neither of bread nor of wine nor of candles, and each night they shall examine the liveries for the household of Madame as well as for other places and for the king's household.

Furthermore, it is ordained that no one shall sleep in the wardrobe except the treasurer; Sire Thomas Gunneys [the comptroller];[9 ]Master William of Louth, the treasurer's clerk; Master Simon, the surgeon; Orlandino,[10] when he comes to court; William of Blyborough and Sire Stephen of St. George [clerks of the wardrobe]; John Rede, chief usher of the wardrobe, and a footman under him — no others.

And it is ordained that no clerk who holds a benefice of the king shall henceforth receive wages from the king. And it is ordained that no one shall eat in the wardrobe except the under-usher; and the chamberlain, the treasurer, and all the other chamberlains [shall eat] in the hall unless they are lodged apart from the court.

With regard to the king's carriage [service], it is provided that for the wardrobe there shall be three long carts; for the pantry a long cart and a short one, which is to carry the demeine flour and the mills of the saucery;[11] for the butlery a long cart and a short one; for the kitchen a long cart and two short ones.

Twenty men are chosen as serjeants-at-arms ... , and each is to receive 3½m. a year for robes.... Besides, it is ordained that each squire shall receive 10s. a year for robes, and each serving man (valet de mester) 1m. And each groom who receives 2d. a day as wages is to have 10s. for robes; and each groom who receives 1½d. a day, and all the others who ought to have robes, are to have ½m....[12]

(French) Tout, Mediaeval Administrative History, II, 158 f.

(D) Statute of Merchants (1283)

Whereas merchants heretofore, on lending their goods to various people, have incurred poverty owing to the fact that no suitable law was provided whereby they could speedily recover their debt on the day set for payment; and whereas, on this account, many merchants have ceased coming into this land with their merchandise, to the damage of the merchants and of the whole kingdom: [therefore] the king, by himself and his council, has ordained and established[13] that the merchant who wishes to make sure of his debt shall cause his debtor to come before the mayor of London or York or Bristol — [that is to say,] before the mayor and a clerk whom the king shall depute for that purpose — to acknowledge the debt and the day of payment; and the acknowledgment shall be enrolled by the hand of the aforesaid clerk so that it may be known. Moreover, the aforesaid clerk shall with his own hand write out a record of the obligation, to which shall be attached the seal of the debtor, together with the king's seal provided for that purpose, which seal shall remain in the custody of the mayor and the clerk aforesaid. And if the debtor does not pay on the day set for him, let the creditor come to the mayor and the clerk with the record of the obligation; and if it is found by the roll and the record that the debt was acknowledged and that the set day has passed, the mayor shall at once, by view of worthy men, have movables of the debtor sold to the amount of the debt....[14] And to meet the cost of the aforesaid clerk, the king shall take a penny from every pound [of the debt]. This ordinance and establishment the king wishes henceforth to be observed throughout his entire kingdom of England by all persons who shall freely choose to make such acknowledgments, excepting Jews, to whom this establishment does not apply....

Given at Acton Burnell, October 12, in the eleventh year of our reign.

(French) Statutes of the Realm, I, 53 f.

(E) Statute of Winchester (1285)

Whereas every day robbery, homicide, and arson are committed more frequently than used to be the case, and felonies escape presentment by the oaths of jurors who would see the felonies committed on strangers pass unpunished rather than accuse the offenders, many of whom are persons of the same country[15] ...: [therefore] our lord the king, in order to abate the power of felons, has established a penalty in such cases; so that henceforth, through fear of the penalty rather than of the oath, no one will be spared and no felony will be concealed....

Accordingly, inquests shall be held when necessary in a vill by him who is lord of the vill, and afterwards in hundreds, franchises, and counties — sometimes in two, three, or four counties, in cases where felonies are committed on the borders of counties — so that the offenders may be brought to justice. And if the country will not answer for criminals in this way, the penalty shall be such that each country — that is to say, the people living in the country — shall be responsible for the robberies committed and the damages [thus incurred]....

And for better assuring the peace, the king has commanded that in great towns which are walled the gates shall be closed from sunset to sunrise; and that no man shall be lodged in the suburbs, or in the outskirts of the town, except in the daytime — nor even in the daytime unless his host will be responsible for him. And the bailiffs of towns each week, or at least every fortnight, shall make investigation concerning men lodged in the suburbs or in the outskirts of the towns; and if they find anybody harbouring or otherwise lodging persons suspected of being in any respect violators of the peace, the bailiffs shall have justice done in the matter. And the king has commanded that henceforth all watches shall be kept according to the ancient custom....[16]

Furthermore, it is commanded that highways from one trading town to another shall be enlarged wherever there are woods, hedges, or ditches; so that there shall be neither ditches, underbrush, nor bushes for two hundred feet on the one side and two hundred feet on the other, where men can hide near the road with evil intent; yet so that this statute shall not apply to oaks or to any great trees, so long as they are cleared underneath....

Moreover, it is commanded that every man shall have in his house arms for keeping the peace according to the ancient assize....

Given at Winchester, October 8, in the thirteenth year of the king's reign.

(French) Stubbs, Select Charters, pp. 464 f.

(F) Statute of Quia Emptores (1290)

Whereas the buyers of lands and tenements belonging to the fiefs of magnates and other men have in times past frequently entered upon their fiefs to the prejudice of the same [lords], because the freeholders of the said magnates and other men have sold their lands and tenements to such purchasers to be held in fee by themselves and their heirs of the feoffors and not of the principal lords of the fiefs, whereby those same principal lords have often lost the escheats, marriages, and wardships of lands and tenements belonging to their fiefs; and whereas this has seemed very hard and burdensome to those magnates and other lords, being in such cases manifest disinheritance: [therefore] the lord king in his parliament at Westminister [held] after Easter in the eighteenth year of his reign... , at the suggestion of the magnates of his realm,[17] has granted, provided, and established that henceforth every freeman shall be permitted to sell his land or tenement, or a part of it, at pleasure; yet so that the feoffee shall hold that land or tenement of the same principal lord [of whom the feoffor held] and by the same services and customs by which the feoffor earlier held....

(Latin) Ibid., p. 473.

(G) Ordinance Concerning Judicial Circuits (1293)

Whereas the lord king, in his recent statutes at Westminster[18] commanded that in each county certain justices, and no others, should be commissioned for the holding of assizes, juries, and certifications[19] at particular times in those counties; and whereas the justices of the two benches,[20] as well as the itinerant justices assigned to carry out the aforesaid [commissions] for limited periods, have often, when they were not on eyre, been hindered, both by their offices and by precepts of the lord king directed to them, from coming to the [appointed] places on the days announced by them; and whereas, on account of their absence, justice has long been withheld from many persons and misdeeds have gone unpunished: [therefore] the lord king, desirous that, in so far as he can [provide it], speedy justice shall be rendered to every one in his kingdom for the wrongs done to that person, commands that henceforth eight circumspect and discreet justices shall be commissioned to hold assizes, juries, and certifications throughout the whole kingdom of England — namely, two in the counties of York, Northumberland, Westmorland, Cumberland, Lancaster, Nottingham, and Derby; two in the counties of Lincoln, Leicester, Warwick, Stafford, Shropshire, Northampton, Rutland, Gloucester, Hereford, and Worcester; two in the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Oxford, Berkshire, Sussex, and Surrey; and two in the counties of Kent, Essex, Hertford, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Bedford, and Buckingham. And the assizes, juries, and recognitions of Middlesex shall be held before the justices of the bench....

(Latin) Statutes of the Realm, I, 112.

(H) Articles of 1300[21]

... Moreover, no common pleas shall henceforth be held in the exchequer, contrary to the form of the Great Charter. On the other hand, the king wills that the chancery and the justices of his bench shall follow him; so that he may always have near him certain men expert in the law, who, whenever the need arises, will know how rightfully to dispatch all such business as may come before the court. Henceforth no writ touching the common law shall be issued under the small seal.[22]

(French) Ibid., I, 138 f.

[l ]Statutum had not as yet acquired the technical meaning of a legislative enactment in full parliament, as distinguished from an ordinance in council. The word was still vague, being generally applied to especially formal statements of law; see Holdsworth, History of English Law, II, 172 f., 244 f.; and cf. the examples cited below, no. 62.

[2] Quo warranto here and in the writ employed for legal proceedings of this sort. See especially H. M. Cam, The Hundred and the Hundred Rolls, ch. xiv; in which work the student will also find a full account of the inquests that led up to the formulation of this statute — e.g., the Articles of 1274, pp. 248 f.

[3] In the reissue of Magna Carta (above, p. 123, n. 45), somewhat extended by the Provisions of Westminster.

[4] Literally, "dead hand" — permanent possession by a church or other corporation.

[5] Of the wardrobe, on which see Tout, Chapters in Mediaeval Administrative History, II, 27 f. More detailed information concerning most of the officials mentioned here will be found in the Household Ordinance of 1318, no. 57.

[6 ]Mesters (i.e., métiers), such as the pantry, butlery, kitchen, etc.

[7] See above, p. 166, n. 6.

[8] "So-called not because of its importance, but because it dealt with bulky commodities": Tout, Place of Edward II in English History, p. 71.

[9] As appears from other entries in the record.

[10] Of Lucca, the king's banker.

[11] Demeine flour was that of superior quality for the king's use; cf. above, p. 66, n. 3. On the saucery see below, p. 204.

[12] Preceding the ordinance as printed is a memorandum of the wages and liveries enjoyed by the other officials, listed by name. The steward, the marshal, the surgeon, the chaplain, and the chiefs of the wardrobe received 8m. a year for robes, together with various fees, unless they had received lands or benefices. Subordinates usually received 3m. for robes, and wages of 7d. a day.

[13] Despite the phrasing of the act, it was actually drawn up in the assembly of burgesses first summoned to Shrewsbury (above, p. 157) and then transferred to Acton Burnell.

[14] The statute includes detailed provisions for the attachment of property in towns other than those mentioned, for imprisonment of debtors with insufficient chattels, and the like.

[15] Pays (Latin, patria) — the neighbourhood in which a person had his home.

[16] What is omitted here and in the second paragraph below is largely a repetition of Henry III's ordinance (no. 46H).

[17] The parliament was attended only by prelates and lay barons.

[18] The reference is to art. 30 of the lengthy enactment known as the Second Statute of Westminster (1285). The article in question provided that for each county two justices should be commissioned to hold assizes three times a year. See Stubbs, Const. Hist., II, 284.

[19] Certification was a process by which a vague or insufficient verdict was brought before a court for examination.

[20] Cf. S4E.

[21] Issued as an explanatory supplement to the Confirmation of the Charters (no. 51a).

[22] Cf. no. 54G, the last excerpt.