11. f2013 Government and Court in 14th Century England


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Major offices of English government in the the 14th century. Parliament and its role.

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  • The layout of the Privy Palace is comparatively little known, as a consequence of the destruction of several buildings in the 16th century. Others survived within the Parliamentary estate until the 19th century, and were recorded before and after the 1834 fire, following which demolition was almost total.Moreover the nature of medieval and Tudor use precluded the pictorial recording of the buildings by artists, who would generally have been excluded from this area.[2]For these reasons, references to the buildings in administrative documents are of particular value: for example, 15th-century accounts describe new buildings in the vicinity of the Jewel TowerThe treasure roll of Richard II, compiled in 1398/9, offers a rare insight into the magnificence of a late medieval English king. The roll, unknown until it was rediscovered in the 1990s, describes in exceptional detail the crowns, jewels, and other precious objects belonging to the king and to his two queens, Anne of Bohemia and Isabelle of France.
  • One of the main places where treasure was stored during Richard II's reign was the so-called Great Treasury underneath the Chapter House on the east side of the cloister walk of Westminster Abbey. This treasury was in the charge of the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer. It was from here that valuables were taken to be used as pledges to the city of London to raise money for the French war early in Richard's reign and from here that they were delivered to Henry IV's keeper of the jewels in November 1399. The Chapter House crypt had served as a royal treasury by the 1260s. It was twice robbed in 1296 and in 1303, whereupon the treasure was removed for a time to the Tower. Soon after the second theft, the crypt was converted to make it more secure. Part of the cellar under the monks' dormitory was walled up to create the Pyx Chamber (sometimes known as the Pyx Chapel). Two skins of thick double doors were added over the existing door to safeguard the entrance. The wood of these doors has been dated by dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) to around 1300.
  • The 'great' (grand) crown, was very heavy at 23 marks (11.5 lbs). It was enriched with two large oriental rubies, balas rubies, sapphires, emeralds and freshwater pearls, and was valued at the staggering sum of £33,584. The other, weighing 9 marks 4 oz., set with emeralds, balas rubies and pearls, was estimated to be worth the lesser but still enormous sum of £10,101 6s. 8d. Crowns or detached pieces from crowns were often chosen in both England and France in this period for pawning when the king needed to raise money. Elsewhere in the inventory detached gold and jewelledfleurons are described.
  • The first council of Richard was composed of two bishops, two earls, two barons, two bannerets, and four knights,7 which was changed in the same year to consist of three bishops, two earls, two bannerets, and two knights, besides the officersPay close to 200 pounds which by the most conservative estimate would be over 10000 pounds todayThis royal policy shows a reversion in some ways to the usages of Edward III. which Parliament had sought to coun- teract. For one thing, to offset the power of the older nobles the king added many new men, so that the membership, which had been limited to twelve or fifteen, immediately became larger. At one meeting of the thirteenth year there were twenty-one present,' while during the year as many as thirty-four councillors may be counted. Of these a larger proportion than before were banneretsand knights., whose usefulness was plainly enhanced. On one oc- casion a series of ordinances was passed by the king in the presence of a council of thirteen, seven of whom were of knightly rank
  • Durham The Court of the County of Durham was abolished by section 2 of the Durham (County Palatine) Act 1836.The Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Durham and Sadberge was abolished by the Courts Act 1971.The Court of Common Pleas of the County Palatine of Durham[14] was abolished by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873.Chesterhe offices of Chief and Puisne Justice were abolished in 1830,LancasterCourt of Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster was a court of chancery that exercised jurisdiction within the County Palatine of Lancaster until it was merged into the High Court in 1972.The creation of the County Palatine in 1351 gave the Duke of Lancaster the right to appoint magistrates within the Duchy.This long tradition came to an end on 31 March 2005 under the Courts Act 2003. Prior to this, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had the authority, on behalf of The Queen, to appoint magistrates in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Responsiblity for the appointment of magistrates throughout England and Wales is now the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice, under the Lord Chancellor.
  • In 1368, however, Lee was denounced in parliament for various misdeeds. William Latimer of Dorset accused him of having seized and dragged him to London, keeping him prisoner there until Latimer agreed to surrender his rights in a wardship and marriage. Lee then leased the lands back to Latimer, an arrangement that the latter was forced to recognize in the exchequer. Lee denied the charges, but the council did not accept his version of the story and found him guilty. He was also accused of cheating another man out of a wardship, saying that it pertained to the king. Others came forward to complain that Lee had misused his powers as steward to have individuals attached and brought before him, as though before the royal council, wherever he pleased and outside the places where pleas were ordinarily heard. On his authority as steward he forced men to answer in the Marshalsea court for acts committed outside the verge, and thus beyond the scope of his authority. Others he had seized and committed to prison in the Tower of London, without the king's authorization. He meddled in local courts by letting an approver go at large. Lee was thrown into the Tower until he paid a fine and ransom at the king's will.Emergence of a SpeakerBy 1376 people were getting tired of the elderly Edward III's rule, and the influence of his favourites. In the Parliament of that year the Commons chose Sir Peter de la Mare to act as its spokesman before the King in joining its complaints with that of the Lords.De la Mare was thus the forerunner of the office of Speaker of the House of Commons - a member selected by the Commons to chair its business and represent its views. The following year Thomas Hungerford was the first spokesman to be termed Speaker in the official record.Good ParliamentThe Parliament of 1376 was called the Good Parliament. This was because the Commons prosecuted before the nobles some of the King's corrupt ministers, a process known as impeachment. This became a frequent procedure over the following years as Parliament turned against Edward III's successor Richard II.
  • Latimer – Royal ChamberlainThe principal ones were that he and the London merchant Richard Lyons (d. 1381) had arranged the issue of licences for the evasion of the staple by exporters of wool; that they had arranged for a loan of 20,000 marks to be taken with an unnecessary rate of interest by the king; that Latimer and his lieutenants had carried out extortions at Bécherel; that he had negligently allowed the castles of Bécherel and St Sauveur to fall to the French. No diect evidence from Brittany but cruelties of his followers are known.
  • Chancery ordinance (1389), under the chancellor twelve clerks of the first bench. Each of the Chancery masters had three clerks under him, but the senior, the keeper of the Chancery rolls, had, following this ordinance, six clerks of his own. Two of the remaining eleven were preceptores, authorizing writs, six were examiners and one, from 1336, a notary who wrote and enrolled international documents. 8 The twelve clerks of the second bench, who wrote the charters, letters patent and the writs, consisted of two clerks of the crown, who wrote the writs of the crown, with two assistants each, the clerks of the petty bag who wrote the writs «diem clausit extremism», the clerk in charge of searches through the Chancery rolls in the Tower of London and the clerk who read the records and pleas of Chancery. Each of these had one assistant. Twenty-four cursitors wrote the stock writs and the « ad quod damnum» writs. All work had to be examined by the examiners of the senior bench. No one is to reveal the secrets of the Chancery. They are to live in a common dwelling, and they are not to take bribes.
  • Segeant of Law
  • common law courts ob- jected to the ill-defined, but all too apparent, admiralty court. A good illustration is the 1364 case concerning the obstruction of a creek near Colchester by one Lionel de Brodenham. The violation was discovered and the case was heard by the admiralty court. The common law justices apparently had no knowledge of this hearing and initiated proceedings of their own. To prevent the re- trial, a writ of supersedeas was issued to stay the hearing, no doubt to the great relief of Brodenham. The right of the admiralty courtwas recognized, but only at the intervention of the crown.51 In the same year a Suffolk county jury challenged the admiralty deci- sion in a murder case. The jury found that the vice-admiral, Hugh Fastolf, was wrong in concluding that a Stephen Gerrard was killed at sea. His death occurred on land, they claimed, and then ques- tioned if there was not some conspiracy involved in the death since twelve men were indicted for the murder. In response, the admi- ralty jurors claimed that Falstolf 's commission extended his juris- diction per costerammaris as well as at sea. They appealed to the record of their hearing at the vice-admiralty court for vindica- tion.5
  • Master carried cargo from various ownersStopped an boarded by pirates.After negotiation the pirates agree to take 100 pounds worth of food and leave everything else alone,SaierScoef, a London merchant and owner of the foods, objected to his cargo being used as the pay-off Master denies responsibility for loss.Guy de Brian, admiral of the West decided that Saier's pleas was just and made an interesting decision regarding compensation.71 The value of the ship's cargo was L1000 and Saier's loss (L100) saved the owners of the remaining L900 worth of cargo from any personal loss. The court decided that the merchants who benefited from Saier's unfortunate sacrifice, ought to reimburse him-pound for pound, penny for penny. The admiral declared that he would hold the ship and cargo in London until the remain- ing contents could be appraised and the owners made satisfaction to Saier
  • Mange villager’s labor service.Formation of plow teamsPenning livestock and insuring enough forage for winter.Community by-laws. Elected by the best-off peasants
  • The Archdeacon extorted finesby threats of excommunication, the fact of excommunication, when notified to a civil magistrate, procuringthe offenders imprisonment
  • Twelve month indulgence
  • 11. f2013 Government and Court in 14th Century England

    1. 1. Government and Law
    2. 2. Pyx Chamber - Treasury
    3. 3. The King and his household • Queen • Chamberlain • Keeper of the Wardrobe – Private finances – 1360s Came under oversight of Exchequer
    4. 4. King and public administration • Privy Council – Often set up on request of Parliament – Assent of lords and bishops – Include Chancellor, Treasurer, Keeper of the Privy Seal – Parliament ordered that they be paid; free of interests in areas they regulate • Packing the Council
    5. 5. Parliament • Administrative: Control of appointments & removals – Attempt to regulate privy council • Legislative • Judicial
    6. 6. King in Parliament • • • • • ‘Mandated’ by Henry III General case for Edward I Edward II absent Edward III generally present Richard II present except when expressing dissatisfaction with agenda
    7. 7. Palatinates • Exercise of a quasi-royal prerogative • Separate administrative apparatus and courts – Durham under a prince-bishop – Chester under the Earl of Chester – Lancaster under the Duke of Lancaster
    8. 8. Duchy of Lancaster • 1262-66 Henry III confiscates land of rebels affiliated with Simon de Montfort • 1267 Edmund Crouchback receives these lands and is made Earl of Lancaster • 1322 Thomas, son of Edmund, executed for his role in Gaveston murder; brother, Henry succeeds
    9. 9. Duchy of Lancaster • 1345 Henry Grosmont succeeds his father as Earl of Lancaster • 1351 In recognition of his role in the war with France, Henry Grosmont made Duke of Lancaster – Lancaster made County Palatine for Henry’s lifetime
    10. 10. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster 1361 Henry Grosmont dies without male heir – Ducal title becomes extinct; palatinate powers reverted to King Edward III – Henry’s daughters receive land as dowry – 1359 Blanche marries John of Gaunt 1362 John of Gaunt made Duke of Lancaster 1372 Palatinate recreated for John’s lifetime 1390 Palatinate extended to John’s heirs
    11. 11. Trials by Parliament 1368 John Lee 1376 “Good Parliament” William Latimer and Richard Lyons Accusations in Commons Trial by Lords 1386 “Wonderful Parliament” Michael de la Pole
    12. 12. 1376 Impeachment of William Latimer – Issued licenses to evade the staple by exporters of wool – Loans to the King 9may have come from King;s money) – Abuse of Bretons leads to French capture Proven. Fine of 20,000 marks and imprisonment; loss of positions Pardoned
    13. 13. 1376 Impeachment of Lyons – Misuse of position to evade the staple – Appropriation of customs duties for himself – Usury; Purchase of Royal debts at a discount and collecting full value from the Crown Proven Pardoned but not restored to office
    14. 14. Westminster Courts A Chancery B King’s Bench C Common Pleas D Exchequer E Wards & Liveries Requests
    15. 15. Court of Chancery • Court of equity • Verbal contracts, land law and matters of trusts • Loose rules of procedure • 12 clerks of first bench w. at least 3 assistants
    16. 16. Court of Common Pleas • Suits between two citizens • Chancellors were judges under Edward III
    17. 17. Judges 1346 Judges were obliged to swear that "they would in no way accept gift or reward from any party in litigation before them or give advice to any man, great or small, in any action to which the King was a party himself" 1350 Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William de Thorpe, was sentenced to death for bribery (later pardoned, but demoted).
    18. 18. Local courts • Manorial courts • Justices of the peace – Labor cases
    19. 19. Court of Exchequer • Revenue cases
    20. 20. Court of King’s Bench • Superseded traveling court • Criminal trials • Appeals
    21. 21. A sergeant of the law, wary and wise • Who'd often gone to Paul's walk to advise, • There was also, compact of excellence. • Discreet he was, and of great reverence; • At least he seemed so, his words were so wise.
    22. 22. Often he sat as justice in assize, By patent or commission from the crown; Because of learning and his high renown, He took large fees and many robes could own. • Highest class of lawyers • Common pleas judges drawn from them
    23. 23. Admiralty Court • Maritime law derived from Rolls of Oléron – Rights of masters and mariners; discipline – Rights of salvage – Piracy • Disputed jurisdiction with Common Pleas
    24. 24. Case of the Hungry Pirates
    25. 25. The reeve he was a slender, choleric man Well could he manage granary and bin; No auditor could ever on him win. He could foretell, by drought and by the rain, The yielding of his seed and of his grain. His lord's sheep and his oxen and his dairy, His swine and horses, all his stores, his poultry, Were wholly in this steward's managing;
    26. 26. A summoner was with us in that place, Who had a fiery-red, cherubic face, For eczema he had; his eyes were narrow As hot he was, and lecherous, as a sparrow; With black and scabby brows and scanty beard;
    27. 27. No borax, ceruse, tartar, could discharge, Nor ointment that could cleanse enough, or bite, To free him of his boils and pimples white, Nor of the bosses resting on his cheeks. Well loved he garlic, onions, aye and leeks, And drinking of strong wine as red as blood. Then would he talk and shout as madman would.
    28. 28. And when a deal of wine he'd poured within Then would. he utter no word save Latin. Some phrases had he learned, say two or three, Which he had garnered out of some decree; No wonder, for he'd heard it all the day; And all you know right well that even a jay Can call out "Wat" as well as can the pope.
    29. 29. A better comrade 'twould be hard to find. Why, he would suffer, for a quart of wine, Some good fellow to have his concubine A twelve-month, and excuse him to the full (Between ourselves, though, he could pluck a gull).
    30. 30. And if he chanced upon a good fellow, He would instruct him never to have awe, In such a case, of the archdeacon's curse, Except a man's soul lie within his purse; For in his purse the man should punished be. "The purse is the archdeacon's Hell," said he. But well I know he lied in what he said; A curse ought every guilty man to dread (For curse can kill, as absolution save),
    31. 31. With him there rode a gentle pardoner His wallet lay before him in his lap, Stuffed full of pardons brought from Rome all hot. A voice he had that bleated like a goat. No beard had he, nor ever should he have, For smooth his face as he'd just had a shave; I think he was a gelding or a mare.
    32. 32. But in his craft, from Berwick unto Ware, Was no such pardoner in any place. For in his bag he had a pillowcase The which, he said, was Our True Lady's veil: He said he had a piece of the very sail That good Saint Peter had, what time he went Upon the sea, till Jesus changed his bent.
    33. 33. He had a latten cross set full of stones, And in a bottle had he some pig's bones. But with these relics, when he came upon Some simple parson, then this paragon In that one day more money stood to gain Than the poor dupe in two months could attain.