Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages/Book I/Dialogue concerning the Exchequer/Book Second
Hear me, brother, and, with the ears of one hearing, understand what I say unto thee. Thou wilt not repent of thy willingness to spend a short portion of time snatched from idleness upon matters of business. For there are some who do not blush to say in their hearts, " he who lays up knowledge lays up also grief ": to these learning is a burden, and it is a pleasure to play the fool. Therefore the truth is far removed from those who, fearing the pleasant labour of a pursuit, fall into error. They become blind of heart, therefore, and, not seeing the dangers of the way, fall headlong down a precipice. But thee, oh brother, let no day find idle; lest, perchance that condition of human infirmity which is most prone to evil subject thee, off thy guard, to certain of the worst things. But if, by chance, thou hast no affairs, nevertheless invent some honest ones, that thy mind, always exercised, may be more open to learning. Attend, therefore, a little to those matters in which thou hast involved us; not that from, them thou wilt harvest great fruits of labour, but only lest thou be idle.
D. I fear lest the twilight of approaching night may put a sudden end to the matters in hand, and lest, omitting many necessary things, thou wilt so hasten that thou will'st free thyself of the importunity of an interrogator,
M. Nay, I rather feared lest, after thy long silence, a long suppressed laugh might be shaking thee on account of my rustic style; or lest, perchance, thou wert silently cogitating how, without hurting me, thou mightest pluck thyself from these matters to which thou hast forced me. Therefore I confess that I had almost put an untimely end to what I was saying: but, nevertheless, since thou art docile and the zeal of attention has not yet grown tepid in thee, I will continue on the path begun. For the purpose, therefore, of complying with the order of business laid down, we must speak, in the first place, concerning summonses: for what debts they are made out namely, and how, and for what purpose. And that these matters may be more fully clear to thee, let the last of these three things be shown before the first,—that is, for what purpose they are made.
I. Summonses, indeed, are made in order that the Exchequer may be held.
A writ of summons, which is sealed by the image of the royal authority, having previously been sent out, those who are necessary are called together to the place named; for they are not obliged to come unless a summons is first sent. Some, moreover, come in order that they may sit and judge, some that they may pay and be judged. The barons, of whom we spoke above, sit and judge by reason of their office, or by mandate of their prince. But the sheriffs and many others in the kingdom pay and are judged; of whom some are bound to voluntary offerings, some to necessary payments; concerning which we shall speat more fully below in treating of the sheriff. Now since there is a great number of these throughout all the counties, it ought to be expressed in order in the summons sent out, in the case of each one, how much ought to be paid at the next term, the cause also being added; as if it were said, "thou shalt have, from this man, this or that sum for this or this cause." Furthermore if, when the sheriff sits rendering his account, anything is required of any debtor in his county, of which, however, no mention was made in the summons, he will not be compelled to answer; but will rather be excused because a summons of this thing has not gone before. Summonses are made, therefore, for this purpose, that the farms of the king, and the debts which are to be required for different reasons, may flow into the fisc. But there are some things which must necessarily come through the hand of the sheriff, even though no summons concerning them is made out: but these are rather casual than fixed or certain, as will appear from what follows.
How Summonses are made out.
I must first tell how, or in what order, they are made out, and lastly, for what debts. Know then, that when the exchequer of that term in which the summonses are made is dissolved, the debts due the king throughout the different counties are taken by the clerks of the treasury from the great roll of that year and are written down, together with the causes, on smaller rolls; this being done, those whom we call the greater barons go apart, and, each county being mentioned in turn, they decree, concerning its different debtors, for how much each ought to be summoned; consideration being had for the quality of the person, and for the nature of the matter and for the cause for which he is bounden to the king. The authentic yearly roll, also, from which the debts are taken, lies before the treasurer or his clerk, lest there might, perchance, in some way, have been an error in making the abstract of them. There is also another clerk who studiously puts down what they have agreed upon in the matter of the debts of which the abstract has been made; and concerning these a summons is made in these words: " H. king of the English, to that or that sheriff, greeting. See to it as thou lovest thyself and all thy possessions, that thou art at the exchequer in such or such a place, on the day after St. Michael's day, or on the day after the close of Easter, and that thou hast there with thee whatever thou owest of the farm of former years or of this year, and these debts mentioned here by name: from that man 10 marks, for that reason, and so on." Moreover, when all the debts which are contained in the greater yearly roll, with their causes, have thus been marked down there in order, the lesser rolls, those of the itinerant justices, are brought forth; from these are taken what things are, by their labour and industry, owing to the lord king in the different counties; and these being assessed by the greater barons, they are put down in the summonses; these things having been arranged in order, the summons terminates with these words: " and thou shalt have all these with thee in money, tallies and writs and quittances, or they shall be taken from thy farm; witness, that or that person, there, at the exchequer." Some have believed that one ought to say: " in money, or (vel) tallies, or writs, or quittances "; not understanding that vel is sometimes used subdisjunctively. Moreover, a contention of this kind concerning words is superfluous, since their meaning is clear: for whether thou say est "in money and (vel) writs, and quittances," or "in money and (et) writs and quittances," the meaning is the same; so, namely, that in all these things, or some of them, he renders satisfaction for what is contained in the summons. Moreover, since a new disease should be met by new remedies, this addition was made in the summonses by a new statute—since the time of king Henry I., namely: that "if by chance thou art summoned for the debt of any one who has not land or chattels in thy bailiwick, and thou kuowest in whose bailiwick or county he has them: thou thyself shalt signify to such sheriff or bailiff this same fact by thy writ,—some one bearing it who has been sent by thee, and who shall deliver thy writ to him in the county court if he can, or in the presence of many people." A ridiculous and dangerous enough subterfuge of certain people compelled the addition of this which we have stated. For when it became known to which addresses the summonses were sent out, before the summons concerning his debt came, to the county, a man, sitting empty handed in his home, awaited with confidence the advent of the sheriff and other officials, having emptied his barns and having put his money somewhere away from him, or having transferred it to a safe place; and, by this device, for many years the authority of a royal summons seemed to be eluded, not without loss. For the other sheriff to whose district a man, fearing such summons, had gone over with his property, did not dare to lay hands on his possessions, since he had no mandate to this effect. For this reason, therefore, the clause which we have mentioned was put in the summonses for some years; nor after that did any one have any ground of subterfuge for every debtor not rendering satisfaction in every way; saving, alone, him whom the most extreme want excuses. When, moreover, it had already become clear to all sheriffs and debtors that, in this way, their sophistical impudence could be put an end to, it became unnecessary any longer to add that clause, nor is it added now. The method described, however, of coercing debtors wherever they may have betaken themselves, continues among the sheriffs, and is kept up, being instituted, as it were, by a certain perpetual law.
D. I have heard already, being told by many, that the exchequer is called together twice in the year, namely at the Easter term and at the Michaelmas term. Thou hast also said, if I remember aright, that the exchequer was not held unless the summonses had previously been sent out. Since, therefore, summonses are made out for each term, I ask thee please to reveal whether the same rule is observed in both summonses; or, if there is a difference in the tenor of the words, what it is and why it is so.
II. How the Summonses differ according to the term.
M. It is a great proof of thy advancement that thou hast already known enough to doubt of these things. To be sure it is as certain as possible that the exchequer is convoked and held twice in the year; being preceded, nevertheless, as has been said, by summonses. Thou dost remember very well the terms of both sessions. But mark that, in the Easter term, not accounts, but certain views of accounts are made by the sheriff; wherefore almost nothing of the things that are there done at that time is committed to writing; but the whole is reserved for the other term; and then, in the great yearly roll, the separate items are marked in order; some memoranda, however, which frequently occur, are written apart by the clerk of the treasury; so that, when the exchequer of that term is dissolved, the greater barons may decide concerning them; which things, indeed, on account of the number of them, would not easily be recalled unless they were committed to writing. Furthermore there is written what part of his farm the sheriff pays into the treasury; and then, if he fulfil his obligation, in the same line: " and is quit "; if not, his debt is distinctly put down on the lower line, so that he shall know how much of the total of that term is wanting; and straightway he shall render satisfaction according to the judgment of those presiding. For each sheriff is to pay at that term the half of that farm which accrues from his county in a year. Know, moreover, that in these summonses the tenor of words is not changed unless so far as concerns the term or the place; when for instance, the greater barons have decreed that the exchequer of Easter is to be held in one place and the exchequer of Michaelmas in another. But although the same virtue of words is regarded in both summonses, the marking of the debts set down is different. For in the summons made out against the Easter term, since the year is said to commence then, it shall simply read: "from such a one thou shalt have 10£." And from this summons he shall not be absolved unless he pay then or render satisfaction for 10£. But when the summons is to be made out against the Michaelmas term, in which, that same year is closed and terminated and the yearly roll is made up, there shall be added to the aforesaid 10£ other 10£ or more, according as it shall seem fit to those presiding; and it shall read: "from such, a one thou shalt have 20£." He, however, who had at the Easter term paid 10 of this sum, but now pays 10£ in money and offers a tally for the 10 already paid, shall merit to be absolved from the summons: for it says in the summons, "thou shalt have all these in money and writs and tallies."
Know moreover, that, when a summons is made out, if, when it is corrected, an error shall be found, it ought not to be cancelled by drawing a line under it, and also not to be erased, because the writing is patent: nay rather the summons in which the error was made ought to be entirely obliterated, so that what had been written will be visible to no one; the reason for which, if thou reflectest upon these things, may readily occur to thee.
D. Since, as thou sayest, that writing is patent, and is sent thus to the sheriff, and remains for a long time with him and his people, the safety of the summons is committed to his sole faith. He could, then, with impunity wipe out, change or diminish what he likes, since no copy of it remains with the barons.
M. Perhaps he could if he wished; but it would be a proof of an insane head if, of his own will, he were to subject himself to so great dangers; especially since he could not thus do away with his indebtediiess to the king, and scarcely even defer it. For all the debts, for which summonses are made out, are kept diligently noted elsewhere; so that no one could by this device be freed from his debt even if the sheriff tried to bring it about. But for a greater safeguard in this affair we ourselves have seen how, by the archdean of Poietiers, now bishop of Wincihester, copies of all summonses were made. Nor were at any time the originals sent out, unless copies of them had been made and diligently corrected. When, moreover, the sheriff sitting to render account, the summons was read by the clerk of the chancellor, the clerk of the archdean, looking at his copy, observed him lest he swerved from the truth. But as time went on, when the number of debts increased immensely, so that the length of one membrane did not suffice for one summons, this manifold and laborious labour was put an end to, and they were content, as formerly, with the original summons alone. Thus thou hast, I think, as well as brevity permits, an explanation as to how and for what reason summonses are made. We are now free to examine by whom they ought to be made, although, from what has been said, this, too, is already clear for the most part.
For what Debts Summonses are made out.
Henry, the illustrious king of the English, is called the second of those kings sharing in this name; but, with regard to administration, he is believed to have been second in ability of mind to no one of modern times: for, from the very beginning of his reign, he directed his whole mind to this, that by many an overthrow he should destroy malcontents and rebels, and should mark in the hearts of men in every way the benefits of peace and faith. Although now, among all people, a wide-spread fame has made commonly known the great deeds of this man, so that it may now seem superfluous to insist on expounding them,—yet there is one thing which I cannot pass over in silence, by which alone his singular probity and unheard of piety is established.
This was no work of man, but rather of pitying Godhead
That, with a few, himself— nay, the whole world—he resisted.
D. How it can be called a great deed to resist himself, I do not see, unless thou make it plain.
M. Although these things do not belong to the work begun or intended, nevertheless, mindful of that high-souled king, I have not been able to pass them over and keep my peace of mind. Thou may'st see, therefore, how miraculously that man resisted himself, against the sons, indeed, of his own flesh, nay, further, the sole hope and singular glory of his soul after God. When they were young and, by reason of their age, waxen beyond measure, and prone to every emotion of the soul, the pertinacious little foxes were carried away by wicked counsels, and, at length, turned their bowels against their father as against an enemy; " and a man's enemies have become they of his own household, and those who guarded his side have taken counsel against him; saying"—to his sons and his enemies—"persecute him and take him for there is none to deliver him"; thou would'st say that in them the word of the prophet was fulfilled: "I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me." When, therefore, the wife was raging against the husband, the sons against their father, the servants, without cause, against their master,—would'st thou not say with the best of reasons that a man was warring against himself: But, against the numerous multitude of his enemies, the magnitude of the Divine grace alone aided him; and, as though God were fighting for him, he so in a short time got hold of almost all the rebels, that he was by far more strongly confirmed in the kingdom than before, by means of that very thing which was to have weakened him.
For those who had conspired against him, in all his strength, came to know through this, most plainly, that the club can not be extorted from the hand of Hercules except by force. Moreover, when they were taken, an unheard-of clemency spared the enemies, the inciters of such a tremendous crime; so that few of them sustained the loss of their goods—none, however, of their rank or their bodies. If thou should' st read the revenge which David visited on the overthrowers of his son Absalom, thou would'st say that Henry had been far more gentle than he: although it is written of him, "I have found a man after mine own heart." Although, then, the great king had an abundant number of precedents, and might have exercised against them even the most shameful revenge,—he preferred, nevertheless, to spare rather than to punish those whom he had beaten; in order that, even against their will, they should see his kingdom grow great. May that king, therefore, long live glorious and happy, and for the grace granted may he merit grace from on High. May his noble offspring also live, subject to their father and not unlike to him: and, since they are born to rule over nations, may they learn, by their father's and by their own example, how glorious it is "to spare the subjugated and to vanquish rebels." But let us proceed with what we have undertaken. But if thou dost wish to be more fully instructed concerning these and other mighty acts of his, examine, if it please thee, the book of which we spoke above (Tricolumnis). When, therefore, after the shipwrecked condition of the kingdom, peace had been reestablished, the king strove to renew again the times of his grandfather; and, choosing discreet men, he divided the kingdom into six parts, so that the chosen justices whom we call itinerant might go through it and restore the laws which had been abandoned. His envoys, therefore, being ready with their advice in the different counties, and exhibiting the fulness of justice to those who considered themselves wronged, assuaged the labours and expenses of the poor. It came about, moreover, in the case of these people, that the different misdemeanours were, for the most part, punished in different ways according to the nature of the matters, so that some made corporal, others, pecuniary amends. The pecuniary penalties of the delinquents, then, are carefully noted in the rolls of the itinerant justices, and when the exchequer sits they are handed over to the treasury in the presence of all. The justices, moreover, must see to it that they deliver to the treasurer correct rolls and ones arranged in order; for, having once handed them over, it will not be lawful even for the justices themselves to change one iota, even in a matter on which all the justices are of one mind.
D. In so far it is to be wondered at that, since they are the authors of their writings, and nothing is collected except by their own industry and labour, they may not, even when they consent together as to anything, change their own writing.
M. Inasmuch as the time for correction has been given them, and they knew the fixed rule, they have themselves to thank; for the total of the offerings will be required either from the debtors, if they are condemned to this, or from the justices themselves. So that if in the roll they have put any one down as condemned to pay 20, and, after the pledge has already been handed over to the treasurer, they shall remember that he may not be held but for ten: the judges themselves shall render satisfaction for the rest; for their writing, made and corrected with deliberation, may not be recalled after its surrender. The treasurer causes the debts of the rolls received to be diligently and distinctly marked by counties in the great yearly roll, together with the reasons: the names of the justices, as has been said, being first put down; so that, in this way, there may be clearness with regard to the things exacted. From these, therefore, the summonses shall be made out as follows: "according to the pleas of these or those men N. N., from this man so much,"—according as those presiding have formerly estimated the debts. Thou hast learnt from the aforesaid, as we believe, so much as is necessary as to for what debts and how, and for what purpose, summonses are made out: now let us pass on to the duties of the sheriff. It is fitting, moreover, that thou should'st give alert attention to what is to be said; for, as was said in the beginning, in these things consists the higher science of the exchequer.
III. Manifold concerning the duties of the Sheriff.
All the sheriffs, therefore, and the bailiffs, to whom summonses are directed, are bound by the same necessity of the law; that is, by the authority of the royal mandate; that, namely, on the day mentioned and at the place designated, they shall come together and render satisfaction for their debts. In order that this may be clearer to thee, look more closely at the tenor of the summons itself, for it read: "See to it, as thou dost love thyself and all thy belongings, that thou art at the exchequer of such and such a time and place; and that thou hast with thee whatever thou owest of the old farm and the new, and these debts written below." Pay attention, then, for two things are said which fit in with the two which follow; for this, "see to it as thou dost love thyself," refers to "that thou art there and there at such and such a time and place"; that expression, however, "and as thou dost love all thy belongings," seems to refer to this: "and that thou hast with thee these debts written below"; as if it were openly said, "thy absence, whoever thou art that receiveth a summons, unless it can be excused by causes necessary and defined by law, will redound to the peril of thy head; for thou wilt seem thus to have spurned the royal mandate, and to have acted irreverently in contempt of the royal majesty, if, being summoned concerning the matters for which thou art bounden to the king, thou dost neither come nor send one to excuse thee. But if thou have been the cause that the appended debts were not paid, then, from the farm which thou art about to pay, the other debts for which thou art summoned shall be taken; but the farm shall be completed from thy chattels and the revenues of thy estate; thou thyself, meanwhile, if the barons have decreed it, being placed in a safe place in liberal custody." When, therefore, the aforesaid summons shall have been received by the sheriff, on the very day named he shall come and show himself to the president, if he happen to be there, or to the treasurer if the president himself should not be present. Then, having saluted the greater barons, he shall Lave that day to himself, being about to return to the exchequer both on the morrow and on each day thereafter. But if, by chance, he shall neither come nor send in advance a just excuse, on the first day he shall be condemned to pay to the king one hundred shillings of silver for each county; on the next, ten =£ of silver; likewise on the third, as we have heard from those who were our predecessors, whatever movable goods he possesses shall be at the disposal of the king; but on the fourth, since now from this he is convicted of contempt for the royal majesty, he shall lie at the sole mercy of the king not only as to his property, but also as to his own person. There are those, nevertheless, who think that for the whole total a pecuniary punishment alone will suffice; in such wise, namely, that on the first day those absenting themselves should be punished to the extent of a hundred shillings; on the second, likewise to a hundred shillings; and so on for each day to the extent of another hundred. I do not disagree with them; that is, however, if he against whom the wrong has been done consents to this; it is probable enough, moreover, that the king would be willing to admit this kind of punishment, since his remarkable grace is slow to punish and swift to reward.
D. It is the part of an imprudent and alike impudent hearer to interrupt the flowing pen before an end has been reached of the things which are being said; and so I have borne it, revolving in my mind what in part disturbs me: for thou hast said that if it rested with the sheriff that the debts appended were not paid, then they should be taken from the farm which he is about to pay. If, therefore, the sheriff shall have distributed by writ of the king, either in public works or otherwise, all that he was about to have paid in,—what will be done?
M. When, by mandate of the king, he shall have expended the farm of the county either for the expenses of the court, or in works or on anything else, if he is found to be backward in paying his debts, he shall be detained, on his oath, where the greater barons shall decree, until he give satisfaction for them as he would have done for his farm.
D. Since upon a sheriff summoned, and not coming or excusing himself, there falls a heavy loss both to his movable and his immovable property and to his own person, unless he explain away his absence as not voluntary but necessary: I ask, if it please thee, that thou delay not to reveal what causes, when summoned, he can allege as sufficient for his absence.
IV. For what causes the absence of the Sheriffs is considered condoned.
M. There are many kinds of excuses by which the absence of the sheriff is considered condoned, provided, nevertheless, that, the reason or excuse having been sent in before, he shall, on the day named, send ahead through lawful men the money of the king previously collected; and they, handing to the president the letters of excuse, and alleging the necessary causes of their master's absence, shall confirm the same, even by an oath taken in their own persons, if it shall please the president. But if the sheriff or any servant who has been summoned, detained by infirmity, can not be present, he shall add in his letters of excuse which are sent to the exchequer: "and since I am unable to come, I send to you these my servants N. and N., that they may take my place and do what pertains to me; I being ready to ratify what they shall do."
He who excuses himself, moreover, shall provide that one or the other of those sent shall be a knight or other layman, joined to him by reason of blood or otherwise; that is, one to whose faith and discretion he may not hesitate to commit himself and his interests: for clergy alone should not be taken for this purpose; because, if they act wrongly, it will not be fitting to seize them for money or for the rendering of accounts. But if a sheriff who has been summoned shall happen to be absent, being hindered, not indeed through sickness, but for some other cause, he can, perhaps, even then be freed from the punishment established: but no one shall be received for him to render his account except his first-born son; not his general steward, even though he himself have sent his writ saying that he would ratify what such and such a one should do for him. But solely by the authority of a mandate of the king, or indeed of the president if the king be absent, can another be substituted to render his account. If, however, he shall be doing other business assigned to him by the lord king, he himself shall name some one present in his own person at the exchequer, who, according to what has been said above, can and ought to transact the business of the absent sheriff. That writ, moreover, of the king or the president or of the sheriff sending an excuse shall be kept in the box of the marshall, of which we spoke above, in testimony of this matter. But if the sheriff, being needed elsewhere by the king, shall have been called by him outside of the kingdom; or, having received permission for family affairs, shall have arranged to leave the country,—he shall first go to the president, and with his own lips shall delegate his functions Sit the exchequer to whatever lawful man he wishes; this being done, when he is absent he is neither compelled to send a writ nor to excuse his absence. But where the sheriff excuses himself on account of infirmity, when they shall come to write his account in the yearly roll, it shall read: "William, sheriff of London; Robert, his son, for him, renders account for the farm of London." But if, by mandate of the king, another is substituted for him, or he with his own lips, as has been said, shall have designated to the president some one in his place, then m all respects it is to read as if he himself, in his own person, were sitting and rendering an account.
D. Is illness the sole sufficient excuse by which one who absents himself after having been summoned can be preserved from harm?
M. Far from it; for there are many at the exchequer; but this in trials, as well as in other ecclesiastical and judicial matters, is the most usual. Thou must, however, be mindful of the things that have been said, in order to understand that no excuse brings it about that the money of the king which has been collected from a county is detained with impunity in the sheriff's keeping, or is not, on the day named, sent to the exchequer. Having sent the money, therefore, he may be excused through illness as has been said. Likewise if his first-born son, whom he has declared to be his future heir, should be considered nigh unto death, he will be excused. Likewise if his wife have begun to be in danger with the pangs of child-birth, or for any other cause lie nigh unto death,—since she is a portion of his flesh, he can be excused. Likewise if his lord who is commonly called liege—that is, he to whom alone, by reason of his dominion, he is so bound that as against him he owes nothing to any one except alone the king—shall summon him to aid him, he being proceeded against in court for his own fief or for the greater part of it, or for any other reason which seems to redound to the detriment of that lord's standing or of his body,—he can be excused; provided, however, that that lord is not able further to do without him, or otherwise to avoid the litigation. But if that same lord have entered a suit against another in an affair of this kind, and it is in his power without great harm to postpone the day,—if he have summoned a sheriff of the lord king in the person of his vassal, indeed, the latter shall not be bound to come, for he can not then be excused from the exchequer. Likewise if that same lord, oppressed by the weight of illness, wishes to make a will in the presence of his people, and have called him in for this purpose with his other faithful men, he shall be excused. Likewise if his lord or his wife or his son shall have paid the debt of the flesh, and he shall have seen to the necessary funeral arrangements, he shall merit to be excused. There are also many other excuses for the absence of a sheriff, necessary, indeed, and determined by rule, which we do not deny or exclude; nay, when they shall seem sufficient to the greater barons, we willingly receive them; but, for the sake of example, we have given those which at present have occurred to our mind, they being, as it were, the more frequent ones,
D. I seem to gather from the aforesaid that a knight or other discreet person may be made a sheriff or other bailiff by the king, even though he hold nothing from the king, but only from others.
M. This prerogative belongs to the dignity of a public function, that no matter whose vassal any man in the kingdom is, no matter for whom he may do military or other service,-—if he be found necessary to the king, he can be freely taken and deputed to the royal service.
D. From this, indeed, I can see that that is true which is said:
"Dost thou not know that of kings the hands are extremely lengthy?"
! But now already, if it please thee, do not delay putting thy hand to the occupations of the sheriff; for on these matters. warned by thee, I have concentrated the whole zeal of I my attention; knowing that in them, as has been said,; the higher knowledge of the exchequer should be sought.
M. I congratulate thee on being mindful of what has, been said; by which, I confess, thou hast added a stimulus! to my almost languishing pen. Know, then, that the sheriff, unless a test has first been made and the debts for which he was summoned have been paid, is not allowed to take his seat for the account; but that when he shall have come and already taken his seat, the other sheriffs are excluded; and he shall sit alone with his people, about to reply to the interrogations. He.shall see to it, moreover, that on the day itself, or on the day preceding, it shall have become known to the debtors of his county on what day he is going to sit and render account; and also, around the building of the exchequer and the village or the town, he shall, by the voice of a herald, make known to them that he is to sit then or there. Then when all are seated and listening, the treasurer, who, as has been said, by reason of his office sits opposed to him, asks him if he is ready to render an account; he replying, "I am ready," the treasurer goes on: " say, therefore, first, if the alms, if the tithes, if the fixed liveries, if the lands given are the same this year as they have been in the past." But if he reply that they are the same, then the scribe of the treasurer, shall, in writing down these fixed payments, follow diligently the roll of the past year; the treasurer looking on the while, lest by chance the hand of the scribe should err. And since, in the chapter on the office of the scribe of the treasurer, I remember to have said enough concerning the order of writing, I pass these things over at present.
D. Speak then, if it please thee, concerning those things which thou long since did'st put off until treating of the duties of the sheriffs; how it is, namely, that some lands are given by the king blank, some by tale; for this has troubled me from the beginning.
M. It is clear enough to thee, I believe, from the foregoing, how it is that certain farms are paid blank, others by tale. A farm, indeed, is paid blank when it has been blanched by testing.
V. How it is that some estates are given blank, some by tale.
Who, indeed, was the author of this institution, and what the reason for starting it, is well enough known. We say, then, that a farm is paid by tale, when satisfaction is given for it by counting alone, and not by testing. When, therefore, the king has conferred on any one any estate, together with the hundred court and the pleas which come from this, they say that that estate was conferred on that man blank: and when, retaining for himself the hundred court through which the farm is said to have been blanched, the king has simply given the estate, not decreeing that it shall be with the hundred court, or blank, it is said to have been given by tale. Moreover, it is necessary that he on whom it has been conferred shall, at the Michaelmas term, bring to the exchequer the writ of the king, or his charter, for the estate conferred, so that it may be computed to the sheriff; otherwise it will not be written in the great yearly roll, nor will it be computed to the sheriff; it shall be written, moreover, thus: after the alms and tithes and fixed liveries of both kinds, at the head of the line: " to lands given to such a one N. 20£ blank, in such a place; and to such a one N. 20£ by tale, in such a place." Remark also, that if, perchance, among the lands given, thou findest: "to such a one or such a one 10£, blank or by tale, from a loan of the king,"—when he who rejoiced in the benefit of the accommodation or loan shall pay the debt of fate, no opportunity is given to his wife or his children or to any one of his name, of making reclamation on account of that loan, imless by favour of the king; just as if it had been said, " to such a one 10 so long as it shall please the king."
VI. What are the fixed payments that are to he computed to the Sheriff; alms, namely, and tithes, and liveries of both kinds, and lands given.
D. What is what thou did'st speak of as liveries of both kinds?
M. Some of the liveries are of poor people; as when, solely from the promptings of charity, one penny a day, or two or more, are accorded to some one by the king for food and clothing. But some are of people who do service, so that they receive them as wages; such are the custodians of the palaces, the guardians of the royal temples, the pipers, the seizers of wolves, and the like. These, then, are liveries of different kinds which are paid for different reasons, but are counted among the fixed payments. And mark that, although the king is free to confer these liveries on any poor people whatever, they nevertheless, by ancient custom, are usually assigned to those who minister at court, and who, having no income, fall into bodily sickness and become unfit for labour. All of these things having been put down in order, the treasurer asks the sheriff if, in addition to the fixed payments, he have expended anything by writ of the king. Then, one by one, the sheriff hands over to the clerk of the chancellor the writs of the king which have been sent to him. He, having read them in public, delivers them to the treasurer, so that the latter, according to the form in which the writs have been drawn up, may furnish appropriate words for the writing of his. roll: for he, as has been said, prescribes, and the others who write with him take down from his roll. This being done, the sheriff shows if, not through writs but through the fixed rule of the exchequer, he have expended any thing which ought to be computed to him; such are the payments of the king's approvers, and likewise those things which are spent in carrying out sentences and judgments.
VII. What things are to he computed through custom of the Exchequer alone,—that is, without a writ.
Remark, moreover, that sentences are here usually called executions of the law carried out against any men; but judgments, the ordeals of the glowing iron or of boiling water. The liveries of approvers, therefore, are made on this basis. On account of the innumerable riches of this kingdom, and likewise on account of the inclination to drunkenness inborn in the natives—which lust always follows as a companion,—it happens that, in it, thefts, open or secret, and also homicides and crimes of different kinds, are frequently committed; the harlots adding incentives, so that there is nothing which those who subject themselves to their counsels will not dare or attempt. "When, therefore, any one one notoriously guilty of these things is taken by the royal servants who look out for the peace of the kingdom,—on account of the great number of scoundrels and in order that, even in this way, the land may be purged from the miscreants, the judges at times agree upon this: that if any one of this kind, confessing his crime, be willing to challenge the accomplices in that crime, and be able, by engaging in a duel, to prove the' crime of which he charges the other or others,—he shall escape the death which he merited, and, with safety to his body, departing, nevertheless, beyond the boundaries of the entire kingdom, shall be dismissed and swear not to return. Some, moreover, having previously made an agreement with the judges, even though they prove their charges do not, nevertheless, go away in safety, but escaping hanging or some other disgraceful kind of death, which, by their own confession, they have merited, being punished however with mutilation of their members, become a miserable spectacle among the people and restrain rash undertakings by their terrible examples. Since, therefore, the charge of that crime being brought up against him and proved, he can save his life; and likewise, since whatever seems to promote the peace of the kingdom is, without doubt, to the advantage of the king, he is called a king's approver. From the day, moreover, on which he is received for the purpose of proving, until his promise has been fulfilled, or until he fails, he shall receive from the fisc each day one penny for his support, which penny is computed to the sheriff solely by custom of the exchequer. But if that approver shall have been ordered to be removed to another place, so that, it being easier for the judges to assemble there, he may fulfil his promise—or perhaps, failing, may receive the condign punishment of his crimes: only the sum which he provides for taking vehicles thither and for furnishing him with victuals, shall be computed to the sheriff by custom; but the rest, not unless by writ of the king. There are, moreover, in certain counties, many who, as a privilege of their estates, lay avenging hands upon the condemned; so that they punish some by hanging, others by mutilation of the members, or in other ways, according to the measure of the crime perpetrated. There are, on the other hand, counties in which those who arc thus to be condemned are only punished when cash has first been paid by the fisc. Whatever, therefore, in order to put into effect these judgments or sentences, is paid by the sheriff to men of detestable avarice who receive this for the effusion of blood, it is computed to him as by custom of the exchequer; that is, not by writ of the king. And there is another thing which ought to be computed to the sheriff by custom alone: when the treasure of the king, being about to be borne by decree of the greater barons from one place to another has need of vehicles and minor things of the kind, the sheriff, by order of the treasurer, or the chamberlains, or their servants sent for this purpose, pays from his fann what is necessary, and this is computed to the sheriff without a writ,—the treasurer himself, however, or any one of the aforesaid who has ordered this to be done, bearing witness concerning this matter in the presence of the greater barons; and then it shall read in the roll: "for these or these necessaries of the treasury, this or that, through such and such a one."
Likewise if a royal fish is taken, a turbot or a whale or another of the kind, what is paid out by the sheriff for salting it and for furnishing other necessaries is computed without a writ. Likewise what is spent in cultivating the vines on the domains of the king, and in vintaging them, or in furnishing receptacles and other necessaries, is computed without a writ, on the oath of the sheriff; concerning which oath, how it is taken, whether once or oftener, we shall speak below. These, therefore, are the things which occur to us at present which are to be placed to the account of the sheriff by custom alone. Now let us continue concerning the other things which pertain to the account from the body of the county.
VIII. In what order those things are to be computed to the sheriff which were spent in public works by a writ of the king not specifying the amount.
It happens sometimes that the king gives orders to the sheriff by his writ, that for fortifying castles or for building edifices and the like, he shall furnish from his farm what is necessary, by view of two or three men whose names are expressed in that writ; and that he adds at the end a short clause, but one necessary for those making up the accounts: "and it shall be computed to thee at the exchequer." When, therefore, the time shall have arrived for the account of the sheriff, those who were chosen as overseers of the works come together, and having taken an oath in public that, to the test of their knowledge, the sum named has been expended to the king's advantage on that public work, a writ of the king shall there be made out at the exchequer, under the witness of the president and of another whom he shall name, in which that sum concerning which they have testified, and likewise the names of the overseers, shall be expressed; and then at length it shall be computed to the sheriff. But if, through these expenditures, the work of the king shall have been completed, that first writ, concerning the furnishing of the necessary amounts, which was sent to the sheriff, and this last one which is made at the exchequer, are placed in the marshal's box for the accounts rendered. If, however, something remains to be done on that work, the sheriff shall keep by him the writ that was sent him, until that same work is completed; so that from it he may have authority to furnish the amounts necessary for completing the work; but the other one shall be closed up in the box which has been mentioned. For when it is written in the yearly roll, "to that work 100£,"there should consequently be added: "by writ of the king and by view of these N." But if there were no writ of the king containing the amount and the names of the overseers, the writing of the roll which says "by writ of the king" might seem to be false.
D. By this discourse I have been so thoroughly satisfied that I willingly omit those things about which I had already opened my mouth to inquire. For when a writ of the king is brought to the sheriff concerning the payment of the necessary sums for this or that work, and it is added: "and it will be computed to thee at the exchequer," or this: "spend from thy farm,"—which is almost of the same authority,—it seemed superfluous that he should be put to the trouble of another writ; but I did not, indeed, understand that in such writ the amount was to be expressed, so that thus it might correspond to the authentic yearly roll, the tenor of words being the same.
IX. That no one is absolved from a debt by a writ of the king which does not express the amount, even though it give the cause.
'M. Know likewise that in the affairs of the exchequer it is different than in other ones: for it is said in very many cases that what is expressed does harm, and what is not expressed does no harm: but here what is expressed helps and what is not expressed harms one. For example, if any one is bounden to the king for a hundred £, and brings to the exchequer his writ, that he is to be quit of the debt which he owes him, and even adds " the whole," and likewise expresses the reason but not the amount: he shall not be absolved on this account, but rather, through this, shall merit delay until another summons. For it should have been written in the roll: " remitted by writ of the king, to such a one N. one hundred pounds "; but since that is seen to be not altogether cancelled which is not yet expressed in the writ, he is compelled with much labour to seek the means by which he may merit to be absolved: therefore, in these matters, what is not expressed harms.
D. With all due reverence to the president and those who sit with him, it does not seem as if the mandate of the king were here fulfilled in all regards; for he is not quit whom the king, adding also the cause for which he was bounden to him, ordered to be quit.
M. Nay, a truce in these matters to the subtlety of thy scrupulous mind. Thou should' st have known, indeed, that ignorance of a law does not excuse the very men who have most to do with the law. He, therefore, who is bounden to the king, must diligently inquire how he can be fully absolved from this—that is, according to the fixed law concerning these things; but if he have not done so. he shall lay it to the charge not of the president but of himself; for the president is not allowed to change one iota of that which he brought him in the writ: since, therefore, he is not quit through this, he shall hasten to obtain what is needful.
D. I perceive that these things are observed principally on this account, that they may not be contradictory to the writing of the roll. But now let us proceed concerning the other matters.
M. When, therefore, all those things shall have been noted down which are either fixed or are to be computed by writ of the ting, or by custom of the exchequer,—then the account is left unfinished, as it were, and they turn to other things; for "and is quit" or "and he owes," by which, indeed, the account is said to be finished, is not written in the yearly roll until satisfaction shall have been given for every thing that is contained in the summons; the cause of which proceeding will be clear enough from what is to follow. After the account for the body of the county—that is, for the principal farm, which, as has been said, is left unfinished until the end,—a moderate space being left, the account is put down of the old farm of the county; that is, whatever by any chance had remained over from the previous year: but it shall only be thus if the sheriff who then served shall have been changed. But if the same one continue also in this year, he shall make satisfaction for the old farm before beginning an account of the new; and the old one shall be distinctly and diligently written down in the beginning, and afterwards the new one. For these things, know that the changed sheriff of the old farm is to be summoned like any other of the debtors; not for a part of it but for the whole, because it is a farm the payment of which ought not to be put off. But it suffices to send a summons for a debt of the old farm, for which he is bounded who is still serving, under this form of words: "whatever thou dost owe from the old farm and the new." Concerning which enough has been said above in the chapter on summonses.
X. Concerning escheats and trespass-lands, or, as we more generally say, concerning purprestures and escheats.
After these things, moreover, a space of about six lines being left, there follows the account concerning escheats and trespass-lands, or, as we more usually say, "concerning purprestures and escheats." In the middle of the line, indeed, is made a heading in capital letters, "concerning purprestures and escheats "; but at the beginning of the lower one is written thus: "this same sheriff renders account for the farm of purprestures and escheats; namely for 40£ from this and for 20£ from that"; and then afterwards, according as, from the roll of the itinerant justices, it has previously been put down in the yearly one, "total 100£." Then, at the end of that line where the total is, is written: in the treasury 20£ in so many tallies, and owes four times 20£; or "paid in the treasury and is quit." But thou wilt learn the order of writing these things better by ocular demonstration than by a verbal description, however detailed.
D. What these escheats and trespass-lands are, and for what reason they flow into the fisc, I cannot see unless thou wilt explain it more fully.
M. It happens sometimes through the negligence of the sheriff or his servants, or also on account of a season of warfare continued for a long time, that those dwelling near the estates which are called crown-lands, usurp for themselves some portion of them and join it to their own possessions. When, therefore, the itinerant justices, through the oath of lawful men. shall have seized these, they shall be appraised separately from the farm of the county, and handed over to the sheriffs that they may answer for them separately; and these we call purprestures or trespass-lands. And when they are seized they are taken, as has been said, from their possessors, and henceforth go to the fisc. But if he from whom the trespassland is taken be the author of the deed, then, in addition, unless the king share him, he shall be pecuniarily most severely punished; but if he be not the author, but the heir of the author, then the revocation of that estate alone suffices for punishment. From which, indeed, as from many other things, the mercy of the king is proved; inasmuch as so enormous an excess of the father is not punished on the son, who, until the inquest was made, was enriched at a loss to the public power.
Escheats, to proceed, are commonly called what falls to the fisc when those who are tenants in chief of the king die, and there does not remain an heir by blood. Concerning these, moreover, together with the purprestures, the accounts are made under one rubric; so, however, that the names of the separate items are expressed in order. But when the father of the family, be he knight or serjeant, who holds from the king in chief, shall have paid his debt to fate, leaving children, however, of which the eldest is a minor, his revenues, indeed, revert to the fisc; but in this case it is not simply called escheat but escheat with heir. And thiis neither is the heir taken from the inheritance nor the inheritance from him; but, being placed, together with his inheritance, under the guardianship of the king for the time of his pupillary age, both he and the other children shall receive from that inheritance, through the officials of the king, what is necessary. The remaining sums, however, which come from it, go to the royal uses. The accounts for them, moreover, are made separately; for not by perpetual, but by a certain temporary right, ars they due to the fisc. For when the heir who is now a minor, having attained the benefits of a lawful age, shall know how to make disposition for himself and those belonging to him, he shall receive from the royal munificence what is due to him by paternal right; some, free, as it were by the sole favour of the prince; some, on promising a certain sum; concerning which, when the account shall be made, it shall read in the yearly roll: " that or that person renders account for 100£ for the relief of the land of his father; in the treasury so much, and he owes so much."
Concerning this, moreover, no further account shall be made in the yearly roll; for henceforth it does not revert any more to the fisc. But so long as it is in the hand of the king, it shall be written of thus in the yearly roll:
"such a sheriff renders account for the farm of such an honour "—if it is a barony;—" in the treasury so much, and, for the care of the children of such a one, so much by writ of the king";—and this shall be made out there at the exchequer by custom—" and he owes so much," or " and he is quit." But if this be a minor holding, so that there are one or two or three estates, it shall read thus: "that sheriff" or "that person N." — he to whom the king chanced to have deputed the care of that matter—" renders account for the farm of that land N., which belonged to that man N., which the king holds in his hand," or, " which is in the hand of the king with the heir"; " in the treasury so much, and owes so much "; or " and he is quit." Notice, moreover, that so long as that honour or estate shall be in the hand of the king, with the heir, all the alms and payments of the poor which were established by the former lords out of sole regard for charity, shall be paid in their entirety to those to whom they are due, and shall be computed to the administrator at the exchequer: but the wages of servants, who may have seemed necessary to the lords for the performing of any services, and have received their position for this purpose, shall be paid at will while the king has possession. When, moreover, the heritage shall have come into the hand of the heir he should inhere in the footsteps of his father; so that, indeed, as long as those shall live for whom these payments were established to be enjoyed during life, he shall satisfy them; and after this, if he wish, he shall use or not use their services.
D. Thou did'st say, if I remember aright, that if any one holding in chief from the king should die and leave a minor as heir, he who was left receives at length, after attaining his majority, what is due him from the king, some without payment, some on promising money. Moreover, what is thus paid thou dost call a relief. Say, therefore, if, from every estate which is held of the king in chief, the relief ought to be exacted to the same amount,—or if not to the same amount, wherefore this?
M. I seem to have armed thee to my own ruin. For, conjecturing others from the things that have been said, thou dost vex me with armed questions. Know, then, that a different amount arises from the reliefs that are due to the king according to the different ranks of the possessors; for some, indeed, hold in chief from the king crown fiefs — greater, namely, or lesser baronies. If, therefore, a father having a possession of this kind die, leaving an heir who is already adult, the latter shall give satisfaction for these things, not according to a fixed sum, but according to what he can obtain from the king. But if the heir be a minor, being placed in wardship, he shall await his majority; then, moreover, either gratis as has been said, or, like the adult, at the good pleasure of the king, he shall obtain his paternal heritage. But if any one should die, holding at the time a knight's fee from the king—not, indeed, a crown fief, but rather one belonging to some barony which, for some reason, had lapsed into the hand of the king; such as a bishopric when the see is vacant: the heir of the dead man, if he be an adult, shall pay for a knight's fee 100 shillings; for two 10£, and so on, according to the number of knights which the heritage had owed to the lord before it had lapsed to the fisc. But if an heir is left who is a minor, what comes from his heritage shall, by reason of the wardship, fall to the fisc for the time that he is under age, as has been said; if he have been left by his father an adult already, he shall pay for each knight's fee 100 shillings, or even proportionately less; that is, 50 shillings if he possess a half of a knight's fee, and so on. Nor may it be hidden from thee that, from him whom, together with the fruit of his possession, thou dost have in custody for several years, thou wilt not be able to ask a relief when he comes to his majority.
D. In this matter the law judges for the wards, decrees as well becomes pious minds.
M. Thus it is; but let us continue concerning what we have undertaken. There is likewise also a third kind of escheats which comes to the exchequer by perpetual right. When any tenant in chief of the king, conscious to himself of a crime committed, whether he be accused of it or not, nevertheless leaving all that he has, seeks to save his life hj flight: or if, being convicted of that of which he is accused, or confessing the same, he is judged unworthy at the same time of his land and of his life: all things which were his by right are straightway confiscated; and all his revenues by a yearly, nay, also by a perpetual right, are paid into the exchequer by the sheriff, and what comes from the sale of what is movable among them goes to the king. Likewise if a man of whatsoever condition, or the slave or freeman of whatsoever lord, through fear of the more rigid law which the king has established on account of criminals, shall flee from his home, and, during the terms fixed and defined by law, shall not have presented himself or excused himself,—or also if, the neighbourhood raising a hue against him, being suspected and afterwards taken, he shall be convicted by the fixed law of the assize as guilty of the crime: all his movable goods go to the fisc, the immovable, however, to the lords. The prices, however, of his movable goods shall be handed in by the sheriff to the exchequer, and shall be marked thus in the yearly roll: "the same sheriff renders account of the chattels of fugitives and of those mutilated by the assize of such a place; namely, from this one 5, from that one 10," and so on through the separate headings, their names being expressed and the sums which arise from the chattels of the different ones. At the end, moreover, shall be put down the total of all, and near the end of that same line in which the total is shall be written: "in the treasury 40£ in so and so many tallies, and he owes 10£," or " and he is quit." These, oh brother, are the things which we mentioned above which are to be carried to the exchequer by the sheriff even though no summons shall have preceded. Such is also treasure dug out of the ground, or otherwise found. Likewise, when any one having a lay estate, or also a citizen, practises public usury, if he die intestate;—or also if, not giving satisfaction to those whom he has defrauded, he is seen to have made a will concerning his unrighteous acquisitions, but has not distributed these, nay rather has kept them by him;—since, thus intent on gain, the desire of possessing is not believed to have left him: his money and all his movables are straightway confiscated, and, without a summons, are carried by officials to the exchequer. The heir of the deceased, moreover, may rejoice that he still has the paternal estate and the movable property, which were all but withdrawn from him.
D. With regard to the foregoing remarks which have been made about usurers, a grave question strikes my mind, which, if it please thee, I should like to have more fully explained; for thou did'st say: " when any one having a lay estate, or also a citizen, practises public usury, etc."; from which words it seems that a certain distinction of persons can be made among those who are thus delinquent, and that the condition of clergy is one, that of laymen another, when they are equal in crime. Likewise from that which is added, "practises public usury," I presume that there can be a kind that is not public, and I am altogether ignorant whether any one who continues in it is subject to the law concerning that winch is public.
M. In vain did I think to satisfy thee with short answers and commonplaces, since from such thou dost elicit a question, the explanation of which has hitherto been hidden from some of the skilled. But what thou sayest: "from thy words the condition of the clergy and of laymen who are thus delinquent seems to be unequal, when they are equal in crime," I do not approve of; for, as in their grades, so do they differ in their guilt; according to that saying: "the loftier the grade, the more grave the fall." Likewise, also, as it has seemed to some, they are unequal in good and meritorious works, for laymen, who are less bound by the restraint of a vow, seem to merit ampler grace; just as, in perverse acts, those who are under a vow of religion offend more gravely. But so much for these matters. Thou hast, indeed, from what precedes, a means of answering the first part of thy question. For inasmuch as a clerk practising usury deserves to lose the privilege of his dignity, he merits for himself a like punishment with a layman who is thus delinquent, namely, that, when he himself dies, all his movable goods are due to the fisc. In fact we have heard from prudent persons that it is so. Against a clerk or a lay Christian thus delinquent, the royal power has no claim so long as they are alive, for there remains time for repentance; but he is the rather reserved for an ecclesiastical tribunal, to be condemned according to the quality of his rank. When, moreover, he shall have fulfilled the decree of fate, all his goods, the church having no claim on them, go to the king: unless, as has been said, while life remained he have worthily repented and, his will being made, he have entirely alienated from himself what he shall have decided to will away. It remains now for us to explain what we call public usury, and what not public; then, whether those who err in either are within the scope of the same law. We call it, therefore, public and common usury when, after the manner of the Jews, one is about to receive in kind, by convention, more than one has lent,—as a pound for a mark, or, for a pound of silver two pence a week of gain, besides the principal:—not public, indeed, but none the less to be condemned, when one receives any estate or church in return for a loan, and, the principal remaining; intact, takes for himself the fruits of it until that principal have been paid. This kind, on account of the labour and expense which are usually bestowed upon agriculture, seems to be more allowable; but, beyond a doubt, it is sordid and rightly to be counted as usury. But if the creditor, avaricious and prone to the ruin of his soul, have seen fit to have the matter so expressed in writing that it shall read: "be it known to all, that I, N., owe N. one hundred marks of silver; and for these hundred marks I have pledged to him such a piece of land for £10, until I or my heir shall pay to him or his heir the aforesaid hundred marks ": when, after the death of the creditor, the tenor of this infamous charter shall come to the notice of the king or the chief justice,—first, the foul pursuit of usury shall be condemned, and the creditor, betrayed by his writing, shall be judged a usurer, unworthy of his movable goods. But if he, whose estate it is, shall in someway have obtained from the king that that which was thus alienated shall be restored to him, he shall be bounden to the king for the whole principal, even if the creditor shall have possessed the estate for two years or more; the munificence of the king, however, usually enters into an agreement concerning the amount of that total, chiefly on account of the gift of especial grace which imposes on him the duty of preferring those who are faithful; and, furthermore, because in the name of the public power he is about to receive all the goods of that creditor or usurer who had grown rich to the enormous detriment of a faithful subject. There are also many other things which pertain separately to the fisc, which cannot easily be brought under one rubric; for they are not fixed but casual. The accounts of the escheats of this third kind, however, are made out not above, after the farms, but below, after all the j^leas and before the chattels of fugitives: so that they, by their actual position, may be seen to pertain to the fisc on account of the enormous faults of the delinquents.
D. I wonder at the things that thou hast said; for they do not seem to be able to agree with what goes before. For since it is free to the lords of bondsmen not only to transfer them but also to alienate them in every kind of way, as has been said above; and since they are rightly considered lords, not only of their chattels but also of their bodies: it is to be wondered at why, when the lord of the goods and of the guilty man has committed no offence against the law, he should be deprived of his possession. For it would seem just that the decree of the king should punish an excess in the person of the one who committed it, but that the movable goods, together with the estates themselves, should go to the use of the lords.
M. What troubles thee troubles me also; but I think it superfluous to delay long over these things, since they are foreign to the matters undertaken. But to satisfy thee: know that it is so on account of the law of the king alone; nor is there, indeed, anyone who may presume to act counter to a royal decree, which is made for the good of the peace. But if the chattels of their servants who were condemned by law came to the lords,—perchance because the fervid thirst of human cupidity had a place in their midst,—some would revel, on account of a small gain, in the slaughter of their servants even when innocent: therefore the king himself, to whom, even by God, the general care of his subjects is entrusted, decreed this to be so, in order that thus the guilty, satisfying the law, may be punished in the body, and that, their movable goods being retained by himself, they may not be exposed to their domestic enemies—that is, to their lords. But, as we have said, the law of the king alone, made at the voice of necessity for the good of the peace, is the principal solution of this question.
D. I see that it does not happen without reason. Now, if it please thee, continue. But there remains something in the foregoing which I should wish, if it please thee, to have more thoroughly explained. For thou did'st say that the movable goods of fugitives and those mutilated by law, in consequence of a summons are brought to the exchequer and are written in the yearly roll in the proper place: thou hast not said, however, what ought to be done with the chattels of robbers and thieves; whether, namely, they pertain to the king, or to whom they ought by right to go.
M. The condition is different of robbers, who are also called manifest thieves, and of those who steal in secret. Furthermore, of these as well as of those there are two kinds, from each of which the chattels go to different persons in a different way. Some robbers, indeed, as well as some thieves, are lawless—outlaws, as we more usually call them,—some not: they become outlaws or lawless, moreover, when, being lawfully summoned, they do not appear, and are awaited and even sought for during the lawful and fixed terms, and do not present themselves before the law. Of these, therefore, the chattels and also the lives are known to be in the hands of those who seize them, nor can they for any reason pertain to the king: of robbers, however, who have not yet sunk to this depth of misery, the goods, if they are seized, go to the fisc; but of thieves, to the sheriff under whom they a,re seized and punished. But if the sheriff have deemed the case of a thief worthy to be brought to court, to be there judged, nothing which that thief possessed is due to him, but all to the king. But if any one have pursued the man who robbed him, and have brought him up in the first court of the lord king, or also in the county court, — and, according to the form of proof decreed by the judge, shall have proved him guilty of theft: that which was taken shall first be restored to the injured person from the chattels of the thief, if they are sufficient for that purpose; the affidavit or oath of him who claims it being first taken, if it so please the justice of the lord king. Afterwards, moreover, by the provident institution of those eager for peace, the same man is to receive, as a solace for his labour and expense, as much again as he had at first lost by the wiles of the thief. This double and prudently procured payment was called by the ancients, not without reason, " solta " and " persolta " or " prosolta ": first, indeed, what had been taken is also paid, and on account of this is called " solta "; then that which is added for the charge of labour or expense is called "pro-" or "persolta." These things having been thus carried out, the remainder of the goods of the accused shall go to the fisc.
D. These things also seem necessary; but now, according to thy promise, proceed, if it please thee, concerning the rents of woods.
M. I congratulate thee since I see that thou hast held in memory as well the worth of what has been said, as the order of what is to be said. It remains, therefore, that I do not omit to satisfy thy wishes according to my powers.
XI. Concerning the Rents of woods.
After the account of the purprestures and escheats, there follows the account for wood-rents, very short and clear, under this tenor of words: "the same sheriff, or such another one N., renders account of 20£ from the rent of such a wood or forest of Northamptonshire; he has paid in the treasury and is quit." There are, however, some forests from which the tenth part of the fixed rents are paid to the head churches; so from Wiltshire and from Hampshire to Salisbury cathedral, but from Northamptonshire to Lincoln cathedral: the cause of which payment I have heard to be this, almost the whole or the greater part of what is paid for the forests comes from pleas and exactions; thus then, by giving the tenths, illicit gains seem to be to some extent redeemable. Of these, moreover, the accounts are made thus: "such or such a one renders account for 20£ from the rent of such a forest; in the treasury 18£"; and at the head of the next line below, thus: "and in fixed tithes to such a church 40s."; then at the end of that same line, a little apart from the rest of the writing, thus: "and is quit." Remark also that it has once been said to thee that all debts, and likewise those payments which shall have been made to the treasury, are to be placed apart from the rest of the writing; so that to the eye running over them and the mind assisting they may more readily occur; for summonses are made out for what is due, and quittances for what has already been paid. After the diligent account of the principal farm, the old or the new, and likewise after the account of the purprestures and escheats and of the wood-rents—all of which, as has been said, are paid on a yearly basis—there follows the account for the pleas and covenants; in which first, after a moderate space, a note is made in the middle of the line as to the justices to whom these belong.
XII. Concerning Pleas and Covenants: in what order the accounts for them are made when the required amounts are paid.
We call pleas, indeed, the pecuniary penalties which, delinquents call down upon themselves, but covenants, spontaneous offerings. When, therefore, the exaction of these is at hand, the summons is then first given over to the clerk of the chancellor; he attacks the sheriff for the separate items in order, saying: "render from such a one 10£, for such a reason "; but if what is required is paid in the treasury, it shall be written thus in the yearly roll:
"N. renders account for 10£ for such a cause"; and then shall be written in order, " has paid in the treasury and is quit." But if it is by writ of the king that he is quit, provided, as we have said, that the amount is expressed in the writ, it shall read: " N. renders account for 10£," adding the cause; then, a little lower, in the same line: " by writ of the king to that same N., 10£, and he is quit." But if he be summoned for 100s., when, nevertheless, the total of the debt is, in the yearly roll, 10£, and have paid 100s. in money, or have obtained for 100s. a writ of the king, it shall read: " N. renders account for 10£., in the treasury 100 shillings and owes 100 shillings"; or "remitted by writ of the king, to N. himself 100 shillings and he owes 100 shillings." And mark that, in all accounts concerning pleas and covenants, individuals shall respond for themselves, so that each one, namely, shall receive in his own name the burden of the debt if he do not give satisfaction for it, or the absolution if he pay the whole; with the exception of common assizes, Danegeld and murder fines,—for, concerning these, the sheriff renders account, and, with reference to them, is himself written down in the yearly roll as either quit or in debt. But if the sheriff shall have been changed, he, nevertheless, who succeeds him shall answer for the same and be summoned concerning them; and, unless he render satisfaction, shall be coerced through the farm which he is about to pay. For whoever, when the sheriff is changed, succeeds to the burden of that office, receives from him rescripts of the debts of the king in that county; so that he may be able to know by this, when he shall receive the summons brought to him, from what persons what they owe is to be demanded. To the sheriff, therefore, pertains the general account, to him alone belongs the coercion of individuals; and he who shall have been sheriff when the account was made, shall be written down in this manner as quit or in debt.
D. I retain in my memory what ought to, happen when any one, summoned concerning any debt, brings a writ of the king which expresses the required amount. But if he bring to the exchequer a charter of quittance for things of the same kind, so that it reads thus: " I will, therefore, that he hold all of these free and quit of pleas and murder fines," and of this and that and the like, will he not be pardoned?
M. He will be, as a matter of fact; but it will not read: "remitted by charter of the king," or "by liberty of a charter" this or that; but rather, "by writ of the king": but if the charter, not specifying, contains this:
"he shall possess the foregoing free and quit of all exaction and secular service," he is not then quit through this of those things which are required of him, nor will it be written down among the pardons: for those who sit there are not willing that a special debt should be done away with by a general absolution.
D. That subtlety is pernicious enough; for he who is free from the whole of the parts, deserves also to be absolved from the parts of the whole.
M. It is true what thou sayest, nor do we disagree; but, nevertheless, we are explaining what takes place, not what perhaps ought to take place. When, therefore, for all these things which are contained in the summons, satisfaction shall have been rendered either in cash or by writs of the king, this rule of writing which is explained above is always to be employed: but when any one has not paid the whole of what is required,of him, but a part of it, or perhaps none of it, the cause is straightway to be inquired from the sheriff as to why he was not solvent. But if the sheriff" shall reply that he have diligently sought the chattels of the man in question, and could not find them, the treasurer shall say: " be on thy guard, for by personally taking an oath thou shalt confirm the truth of this matter,"—namely, that thou have sought and not been able to find that by which the demands might be satisfied. If he replies, "I am ready to do so," the taking of the oath shall be deferred until the account is finished; when, being once given, it shall suffice for many like cases. Concerning this oath, indeed, much has already been said near the beginning, and something remains to be said in its proper place.
XIII. Concerning the different kinds of persons who are not solvent; with regard to what persons an oath is offered by the Sheriff, and under what tenor of words the oath shall he given.
Here, indeed, we must first distinguish with regard to debtors and debts; so that it may be clear to thee in the case of whom the oath offered shall be allowable, and in the case of whom, not. For if a knight or other freeman, or a bondsman, or any such person of whatever condition or sex, is bound to the king for any debt—which, indeed, must be a punishment for a misdemeanour, not a spontaneous offering,—the treasurer shall be content with that preferred oath of the sheriff which is to be taken at the end; and the man or woman, the action against whom, by reason of their poverty, has become void, shall again be written as debtor in this yearly roll as in the last. But it is otherwise if that debtor from whom the debt is sought is a citizen or burgher; if, namely, he is a citizen by birth, or if he have subjected himself of his own will to the laws of his fellow-citizens, necessity bringing it about. For it does not suffice for the sheriff that of these, if any do not render satisfaction for the sum required, he pay in, in order to thus be quit at the exchequer, the movable goods alone, or that he offer an oath as to his having sought and not found any: he must confiscate their homes and their estates and any revenues from the cities, and place them in the hands of others; so that, even in this way, the money due to the king may be forthcoming; but if none be found who will receive them, since men of the same condition mutually spare each other, he shall fasten up their houses with bolts and shall cause their estates to be diligently cultivated. But if in the meantime they pay what is required, by the hand of the sheriff what belongs to them shall be restored to the rightful owners without damage.
D. I cannot wonder enough, when the fault does not differ,
Why more severely our law should oppress this species of mortals.
M. The greatest part of the possession of those who have estates and live by agriculture, consists in flocks, in cattle and in crops, and in like things which can not easily escape the notice of the neighbours. But to those who deal with wares, and who, sparing expense, press on with all their strength and in every way to multiply their possessions, money is the goal that they strive for. For, by means of this, commerce is more easily carried on, and this can readily be placed in safe and secret places: whence it happens that often he who is rich, when that which is hidden does not appear, will be deputed poor. For this reason, therefore, that law decrees more severely against those persons; for a superabundant well of wealth does not seem to be easily exhausted.
D. What a common assessment is, and who responds for it and in what order, is in great part plain from the foregoing. Now, if it please thee, explain about the aids or gifts of cities or burroughs; how accounts are made of them, and who chiefly are to be convened or coerced concerning them; for the manner of coercion is now plain from the foregoing.
M. I rejoice that thou art mindful of what has been said; and by this, I confess, thou dost encourage me the more. Know then that it makes a great difference whether the gift or aid of a city is fixed by the Justices according to the separate individuals dwelling in it, or if the citizens offer to the justices some amount which seems worthy of the prince, and it is accepted by them: for in these two cases the manner of coercion is different. For if the gift is fixed by the judges according to individuals, and any one of them be not solvent, the aforesaid law concerning insolvent citizens is observed; namely, that he shall be deprived of his houses and revenues until payment is made. But if it has been said by the citizens: " we will give to the king a thousand pounds," and this sum is judged worthy to be received, they themselves must provide that at the stated terms the same is paid. But if, by chance, they commence to make excuses, alleging the poverty of some of those who were bound to supply some part of such sum,—then diligently, that is by oath of the sheriff, inquiry is to be made if, at the time that the gift or aid was settled upon by those citizens, these persons had been incapable of paying. But if it shall be found to be thus, they shall provide others by whom the previous sum shall be paid, or the remainder shall be distributed in common. If, however, at the time it was settled upon, they were rich, but by the law of fortune, changeable by nature, they are now in want,—patience is to be had with them until, by the grace of God, they shall grow rich again.
D. I perceive that in all things, keeping within due bounds, you always take the side of the king's advantage.
M. Thou dost retain in memory what is to be done concerning citizens or burghers who are not solvent. But if, by chance, any knight or other freeman, degenerating — which God forbid—from the dignity of his standing, proceed to multiply his money by public trade or by the most disgraceful kind of gain—that is, by usury, and do not voluntarily pay what is demanded of him: the sheriff shall not be absolved by an oath alone as to having found nothing, but when he shall have imparted this to the president, he shall obtain a strict mandate from him that, for the sum which is required from him, that man shall find sponsors within a fixed time; but if he will not, all his revenues shall be confiscated, since in this respect he may rightly be considered
Like to those who increase, whatever the means be, their fortunes.
D. It is indeed fitting that a degenerate knight or other freeman who loses his standing through disgraceful gain, should be punished beyond the common measure of freemen. But now, at length, if it please thee, explain what the things are which may be reckoned among the chattels of him who is bounden to the king, and whether from all, until the sum required is raised, all things are to be taken by the sheriff; when, namely, the original debtor does not of his own will pay what is required.
XIV. What chattels of debtors, when they do not pay of their own free will, are not to be sold, and what order is to be observed in selling.
M. Thou dost drive me into a sea of questions; God knows, I do not, where I am about to emerge. Know then that here again a distinction of persons is necessary — as will be clear from what follows. I should wish thee, nevertheless, to spare me in this regard, and not compel me to say what will be displeasing to many.
D. So long as thou dost not stray from the path of the established law, thou wilt not merit the just anger of the prudent man; but if that which the law has decreed shall seem burdensome to any one, let him be angry at him who made it, not at thee.
M. From the beginning, by my promise, I became thy debtor. Hence it is that I am willing and bound to obey thee when thou dost wish or ask anything. The chattels which are lawfully sold, then, of debtors who do not of their own will pay what is demanded of them, are those goods which are movable and which move themselves: such are gold, silver, and vessels composed of the same; also precious stones, and changes of vestments and the like; also both kinds of horses, the ordinary ones, namely, and the untamed ones; herds also of oxen and flocks of sheep, and other things of the kind. The nature of fruits also and of some victuals is movable, so that, namely, they may be freely sold; deducting only the necessary expenses of the debtor for his victuals—so that, namely, he may provide for his needs, not his extravagance, and likewise may satisfy nature, not gluttony. Nor are these necessaries furnished to the debtor alone, but to his wife and children and to the household, which he was seen to have had while he was living at his own expense.
D. Why dost thou say "of some" victuals?
M. Victuals which are prepared by them for daily use, and which without essential change are suitable for eating— such as bread and drink—may by no means be sold. Of victuals, then, only those are lawfully sold which, aside from necessary uses, had been reserved by the masters themselves that they might be for sale,—such as meats laid in salt, cheeses, honey, wines, and the like. And mark that if that debtor who is not solvent have once obtained the belt of knighthood, though the other things are sold, nevertheless a horse, not any one but the one he uses, shall be reserved for him; lest he who, by rank, has become a knight, ma,y be compelled to go on foot. But if he be a knight who
Delights in the glory of arms, finds pleasure in using his weapons,
and who, his merits demanding, ought to be reckoned among the brave, all the armature of his body, together with the horses necessary to carry it, shall be left entirely free by the sellers; so that, when it is necessary, equipped with arms and horses, he can be called to the service of king and kingdom.
If, however, this man whom the law has partially favoured,
hearing of the need of the king or kingdom, shall conceal and absent himself, or, being summoned for this purpose, do not come—provided he serve not at his own expense, but at the king's,—and have not given a plain excuse for his absence, the sellers shall not refrain from these arms, etc., either; but, content with the one single horse left to him on account of the dignity of knighthood, he shall be subject to the general rule. The sheriff, moreover, shall take care to warn his sellers that, with regard to the things to be sold, they observe this order: the movable goods of any one shall first be sold, but they shall spare, as much as possible, the plough oxen, by which agriculture is wont to be carried on; lest, that failing him, the debtor be still further reduced to want in the future. But if even thus, indeed, the sum required is not raised, the plough oxen are not to be spared. When, therefore, all the saleable things that belong especially to him have been sold, if the amount is still not made up, they shall approach the estates of his bondsmen and lawfully sell their chattels, observing at the same time the aforesaid order and rule; for these are known to belong to the lord, as has been said above. This being done, whether the required sum is thus made up or not, our law orders the sellers to quit; unless, perhaps, it be scutage which is required from a lord; for if the chief lord who is bounden to the king for scutage do not pay, not only his own, but also the chattels of his knights and bondsmen everywhere are sold, for the matter of scutages regards his knights in great part; for they are not due to the king except by knights and by reason of military service. I myself, indeed, whose memory is not yet hoary, have seen how, for the personal debts of those who did not render satisfaction, not only their own, but also the chattels of their knights and bondsmen were lawfully sold. But the law of the illustrious king has decreed that this is to be observed only in the matter of scutages, the order being regarded that first their own, then the goods of others are to be sold. But if the knights have paid to the lord the produce of their fiefs, and are willing to prove this by offering a pledge, the law forbids that their chattels be sold for those payments which are required from the lords.
XV. That the Sheriff may take from the debtors of that debtor who does not pay the king, the debt due to the king.
Likewise the sheriff is to be warned that he diligently and carefully investigate, as well as he can, if there is any one in his county in debt to that debtor for the payment of money lent to him or deposited with him. But if it be found that there is, the sum which is required from his creditor, the man bounden to the king, shall be exacted from that debtor, and he shall be prevented by authority of the public law from being answerable for it to that creditor.
XVI. That the Sheriff may take from the estates of him who does not pay, that which is required, even if, after the time when he commenced to be bounden to the king, he have alienated them in any way.
Likewise if a debtor, from the time when he began to be bounden to the king, shall have rented his estate or revenue to another, or have given it as a pledge for money, or even—which, perhaps, will seem absurd to thee—have transferred his domain from himself by sale: if means can not otherwise be found to give satisfaction to the king, whoever the person be or by whatever title he may have gained possession,—nevertheless what belongs to the king shall be taken from him; saving the proprietorship of the lord who has commenced to possess it with a just title. Unless, perchance, that debtor shall, in the beginning, of his own will pay to the king the price of the estate sold. For, in that case, the right of possession of the buyer shall remain undisputed. The cause of this, moreover, although it seems to be somewhat wrong and to serve too much the advantage of the king, thou wilt see to be evident, nevertheless, and just enough according to the laws of the country. For whoever is found to have committed an offence against the royal majesty is at the mercy of the king in one of three ways, according to the quality of his crime. For he is sentenced, for lesser faults, either to the extent of all his movable goods, or of all his immovable—that is, his estates and revenues,—so that he shall le deprived of his heritage; but if for greater faults, or for any very great or enormous crimes, to the extent of his life or members. When, therefore, any one is condemned to the mercy of the king as to his movable goods, and the sentence is passed upon him by the judges in these words: "such a man is at the mercy of the king as regards his money," it is the same as if they said: "all his money." For the indefinite sentences of laymen have their signification not according to the interpretation of those for whom it is more safe that they should be so interpreted—that is, of individuals,—but are equal for all. Since, therefore, the chattels of that estate which the debtor afterward? alienated had been condemned as at the good pleasure of the king, and he had not given satisfaction for the required sum, it is unjust that he should have alienated a thing that was not his own at a loss to the fisc.
XVII. That a Sheriff is not allowed to receive money due to himself from those who do not pay the king: and what is to be done if he should happen to receive it.
Likewise the sheriff is to be warned on account of the oath, concerning those who do not pay, which is required of him—nay, which he himself is seen to have offered of his own free will, in order that thus he might be absolved from the summons made against him,—that he do not receive from any debtor who does not pay the king, anything, in the meantime, that was justly due to himself. For it is not likely that the sheriff could not find enough to pay the sum due the king among the chattels of him who, willingly or unwillingly, has paid what is required to the sheriff himself. But if, before taking the oath, the sheriff has remembered of himself or through another that he has received something from such persons;—or even after taking it, provided the exchequer of that day is nevertheless not yet dismissed; that is, while his account is fresh; — and if, coming in public, he be willing to prove with querulous voice—taking an oath concerning these things—that he had forgotten at that time having received anything: he shall be acquitted on paying in the name of the debtor the money received. But if—which God forbid—after giving his oath, and after the exchequer is dissolved, this should become known through another,—he shall not then be released simply on payment of what he had received, but, being declared at the good pleasure of the king on account of his offence, he shall be pecuniarily punished. Finally, let it suffice to have warned the sheriff that after receiving the summons he shall diligently inquire in the neighbourhood if the man who was not solvent, by taking a wife, or the woman by marrying some one richer, or in any other way, has grown rich, so that he or she may give satisfaction for what is required. If this be found to be so, upon the oath of the sheriff he or she shall be obliged to pay. But if none of these things be found to be so, the sheriff can then, with a clear conscience, give an oath concerning this, and avoid the imminent loss of his possessions.
XVIII. How a husband is to be called to account for a wife or a wife for a husband, if he or she be not solvent.
D. Should a husband, indeed, be called to account for a wife who was bounden to the king and who has already died, or ought a woman who survives her husband to be called to account for him?
M. Thou hast heard often enough, that "he who cleaves to a woman is made one flesh," in such way, however, that he is her head. With right, therefore, he is to be called to account for her, for the woman has not power over herself, but the man over her. But if the husband have had offspring by her, to which offspring, by reason of the wife, the heritage is due, and, the wife being already dead, the money due to the king has not yet been paid: then that husband is to be called to account in the name of the heir, and coerced; but otherwise not. A woman, on the other hand, who survives her husband, and has offspring, and remains in widowhood with it, is to be called to account and coerced by reason of the offspring to whom the heritage is due; in such manner, however, that her dowry shall be spared, since it is the price of her virginity. But if, leaving her children, the woman cleave to another husband, the lawful heir is to be called to account for the debt of his father. If, however, a woman who has committed an offence and is bounden to the king, her former husband being dead without children, shall transfer herself and her heritage to another, her debt is to be required from the new husband. This is, then, what thou did'st ask. And in this way a man is to be summoned on account of the wife and a wife on account of the husband. Thou may'st be sure also that the lawful heir who succeeds to a debtor is to be called to account for him: so that he may succeed to the burdens as well as to the emolument. The bondsman alone, and he who dies without heritage, are, after their chattels have been sold, freed from their debt by death's last throw. they are, however, not cancelled from the yearly roll in which these debts are entered, unless by writ of the king; when, namely, it is suggested to the king concerning these by the treasurer, that it is useless to write them in the roll, siuee by no arrangement could it come about that the money due from them should be forthcoming.
XIX. That there is not the same mode of coercion for the king's barons and for others, in the matter of pecuniary penalties.
In addition it is fitting thou should' st know that, in the matter of requiring debts due to the king and of coercing debtors, the conditions do not apply equally to the chief barons of the king and to others who here and there are punished for their offences by fines to the king. Concerning those, then, who hold nothing in chief from the king, the foregoing rule is observed. But if one who holds a barony from the king, having heard the summons, shall, either in his own person or at the hand of his general steward, whom people ordinarily call seneschal, give a pledge into the hand of the sheriff to the effect that, on the day of his account, he will give security to the barons of the exchequer for this sum and for this summons: then the sheriff may rest content.
XX. What is to he done when the steward, who has pledged himself to render satisfaction, does not appear.
If, however, being summoned by the voice of the herald, he do not come on the day of the account, and do not render satisfaction of himself or through another, the sheriff shall be considered to have done what pertained to him; but the case being carefully jotted down separately, at the treasurer's dictation, in the memoranda of the exchequer, shall be reserved for the end of the session; when, counsel having been taken, he who thus offended may be more severely punished. But if, after the account of the sheriff is ended, he shall come and render satisfaction, — by the favour of those in session and by the indulgence of the law he may be absolved. But it is necessary that the sheriff receive his oath in the county court, before the eyes of all; because if, by chance, he who gave it wishes to do evil and to deny that he gave it, the recollection of the county will suffice for the whole burden of proof against him. But if the sheriff shall confess that it was given him in any other manner, he shall be considered to have done nothing. Therefore the required sum shall straightway be taken from his farm, so that he shall satisfy the summons which says in this regard: " or they shall be taken from thy farm."
XXI. What if he comes and does not give satisfaction, if he is a knight. What if he is not a knight.
But if one who does not deny that he gave an oath shall come on the day named and do not render satisfaction, he shall, if he is a lord, be detained at the exchequer as long as it shall be in session, taking an oath to the marshal, as we said above, that he will not go beyond the banlieu of the town unless by permission of the barons. But when the exchequer of that term is dissolved, if he have not yet rendered satisfaction, he shall be put in a safe place, in free custody, Tintil the king himself, if he be present, or the president with the others in session shall decree what is to be done with a man who confesses that he promised on oath to render satisfaction, and has in no wise done so. But if a knight or other person who is his steward come and do not render satisfaction, he shall be seized for breaking his oath and shall be given over to the custody of the marshal, being lawfully liable to be bound when the exchequer is dissolved, and to be put in prison whether he be a knight or no. But a knight who does not render satisfaction for his own debt, when, nevertheless, he has taken an oath that he would do so, shall be kept in liberal custody after the exchequer is dissolved—not in a prison, but within the enclosure of the prison building,—giving an oath personally that he will not go away from there without the king's or the president's permission. For the illustrious king of memorable nobility decreed that whoever is resplendent with the dignity of knighthood may not be sent to prison for his own debt, when he is considered a pauper by the sheriff and the neighbourhood alike; but he shall be kept apart, at large, within the enclosure of the prison building. But whoever, by order of his lord, has given an oath to the sheriff, as has been said, and comes but does not pay: the law decrees that such a one shall be seized and put in prison when the exchequer dissolves, whether he be a knight or no. And since any baron is free to set up the oath of his official for the debt that is required of himself, so that he may in the meantime be free from the importunity of the sheriff and may himself arrange his affairs more conveniently: lest thus the authority of the king's mandate be eluded to an infinite extent, it is decreed that, when he is seized who, by not rendering satisfaction, has brought judgment upon himself as being guilty of a broken oath,—straightway servants shall be sent by the sheriff who, going through the estates of the chief lord, selling his chattels as best they can, shall bring the sum required to the exchequer of that term. And, finally, he who was seized for breaking his oath shall pay a pecuniary fine according to his means, and shall not, even though the lord order it, be any more permitted to give an oath concerning- that debt.
XXII. How a lord shall he punished who has voluntarily exposed a knight so that he himself may in the meantime be free.
Furthermore, lest the chief lord may presume upon this with impunity, if he should, by chance, be again summoned for that debt, he shall not again merit the benefit of delay through the oath of a substitute, but solely through his own. Some, indeed, believe that he may not any more, even through his own oath, obtain from the sheriff a delay until the exchequer meets— which benefit or delay, indeed, they who are bounden to the exchequer consider great, for they can in the meantime dispose more favourably of their possessions and prepare what is needed for a payment that is put off for a while,—but they say rather that, having received the summons, the sheriff may be allowed to lay hands at once upon their chattels, according to the common law regarding others. I. do not altogether disagree with such people, I confess; but nevertheless there should be many evidences and proofs to make it seem probable that the lord allowed his knight to be exposed to such hazards in order that, even thus, he himself might in the meantime go free. The most valid proof, moreover, against the lord in this matter is if he is considered, by the sheriff and the neighbourhood alike, well to do, abounding in possessions, able to pay.
D. It is indeed fitting that he should cease to merit a favour granted to him who has abused the same to the detriment of him who granted it.
M. Thou hast from the foregoing to some extent a distinction as to which chattels may be sold and which not, and also with regard to what persons discretion is to be used and to what persons not;—that is, in the case where debtors who are bounden to the king for pecuniary punishments are not solvent. It remains for us to show what ought to be done concerning voluntary oblations when they likewise do not pay them.
XXIII. What is to be done concerning those who make voluntary offerings when they too do not pay.
Know then that of the oblations to the king some are offered for a present benefit, some for a prospect. We say that one offers for a present benefit, when the offering is accepted by the king, and he who offers it receives from the king in proportion to what he has offered: as when any one, for some liberty, for an estate or for a farm, or for the wardship, to be enjoyed until he is of age, of some one who is a minor, or for any thing else which seems to add to his convenience or honour, offers of his own accord to the king £100 or 100 marks, and, the king consenting, immediately after the offer receives what he wished for. Concerning those, therefore, who bind themselves of their own will, and who, after having made an agreement with the prince, have already begun to hold possession, our law decrees that, so long as they pay, they may enjoy and make use of the benefits indulged to them. But if, after having been summoned for the debt of the king, they cease to pay, they shall straightway be deprived of what they had obtained; in such manner, however, that if while the exchequer lasts they render satisfaction for the same, without damage that which was taken away shall be restored. And note that any person, of whatever condition or sex, will always be subject to this rule concerning voluntary offerings,—that, namely, he shall satisfy the summons or do without what he had obtained; unless the king himself, out of regard for a service rendered or for his poverty, indulge him something beyond the ordinary. So it is, when, on behalf of the offerer of a large sum at any exchequer he decrees that a certain portion shall be paid by himself, and makes this known through his writ to the barons. On the other hand, offerings are said to be made for a prospect when any one, for the sake of having justice done him concerning a certain estate or revenue, offers a certain sum to the king; not, however, in order that justice be done—do not burst out upon us and say that justice is venal with us—but that it be done without delay. Know, however, that not every thing thus offered is accepted by the king, not even though it seem to be immeasurably great. For to some, solely out of regard for a service rendered, or out of charity, he exhibits gratis the plenitude of justice; to others, moreover, according to the law of human nature, he is willing neither for prayer nor for price to show favour, the merits of those who are meanwhile known to be in possession coming in the way. Or perchance the merits of those themselves who make the demand by no means call for this, they being accused of having committed some offence either against the state or against the king himself. Concerning such persons, moreover, the illustrious king has thus decreed: that, before they have justice—that is, before they obtain it by a sentence,—or if, the matter being settled altogether contrary to them, they have abandoned all hope, they shall pay nothing in the way of offerings, but it shall suffice for the sheriff to reply concerning such persons: " they have not yet had justice." The sheriff shall, nevertheless, take care lest it happen through the debtor himself that his case does not come up for action, if, namely, he be unwilling to bring the matter before the law, so that, in this way, the king shall be defrauded of the money promised to him. For when this has been found out the subterfuge shall not avail him, but lie shall be coerced in all things as though he had obtained justice through a sentence. It is a sign, moreover, of such wilful delay, when, keeping by him the writ of the king, he does not use it. However, through the compassion of the prince, they usually proceed rather gently with those who, after promising the money, let the case fall; lest, frustrated in their hope, being deprived also of their possessions without having gained any thing, they be reduced to despair by a double misfortune.
XXIV. As to Beliefs not voluntarily paid.
There are likewise payments of a third kind which do not seem altogether fit to be counted under offerings, but are rather called fines to the exchequer. They are made, namely, when one holding a barony in chief from the king dies and leaves an heir, and that heir compounds with the king for what sum he can, in order that he may merit to enter upon his father's privileges; which fine we commonly call a relief. If it is a barony, indeed, it is at the good pleasure of the king what the amount of the relief ought to be; if, however, it is a question of an escheat which has fallen into the hands of the king through default of an heir or otherwise, for one knight's fee he shall pay under the name of a relief to the king only so much as he would have been about to pay to his lord; that is, one hundred shillings. Some think, moreover, that those who are bounden to the king for reliefs, and do not pay when summoned, are subject to the rules regarding free-will offerings, namely, that when they do not pay they shall be deprived of the favours obtained. But it can be more truly said that it shall be proceeded in the case of reliefs as in the case of pecuniary penalties; for the heritage due to the children by reason of their succession seems to exclude them from the rule concerning voluntary payments.
XXV. What is to he done concerning birds offered, and at what time a summons is to be sent for them.
It likewise happens at times that, for some reason or other, there are promised to the king royal birds; hawks, namely, or falcons. But if he who promises says in explanation, "a hawk of the present year," or 'one that has already moulted," or also expresses the origin, saying, " I will give an Irish one," " a Spanish," " a Norwegian one," he shall render satisfaction accordingly. But if neither he who promises, nor he to whom it is promised shall specify, it shall rest with the discretion of the promiser whether he shall pay one that has moulted or not. But if it shall be judged sound and healthy by the hawk-keepers of the king, it shall be received no matter what its extraction. But if, having been summoned, he shall carry to the exchequer one worthy to be received, and there be no one there to receive it, he cannot, even if, after this, the summons is put off for a year, or two years or more, be compelled to pay any other than the one he prefers: one that has moulted, namely, or one of the present year. But if, having been summoned, he shall procure in some way that the payment be deferred, he shall, according to the number of years during which the delay is granted to him—two years, namely, or three, or so on, pay one that has moulted. Concerning these birds, moreover, a summons is not made out against the Easter term, for their use is rare in the summer time; for then they are diligently guarded, being shut up in mews, so that, their old ones being laid aside, the glory of their feathers may return, and their youth be renewed like that of the eagle. But those that are due to the king shall be called for against the Michaelmas term; so that, as the winter approaches, they may be fitted for the service of the king. In coercing those, moreover, who thus bind themselves of their own accord and who do not pay, the aforesaid rule concerning voluntary offerings shall be observed.
XXVI. Concerning the Queen's gold.
Besides this, those should know who voluntarily bind themselves to the king for a sum of ready cash, that they are likewise bounden to the queen, although it has not been expressed. Although not expressed, indeed, it is, nevertheless, comprised in the promise: so that when he shall have promised one hundred or two hundred marks to the king, he is in like manner bounden to the queen to the extent of one mark of gold for a hundred marks of silver promised to the king, two marks of gold for two hundred, and so on. la collecting these, moreover, the sheriff shall in all things observe the same rule which he observed with regard to the debts of the king, not, however, before, but after the latter have been collected. When, therefore, summonses are made out concerning debts to the king, a clerk of the queen, appointed for this, is present, and adds in the summons: "from such a one thou shalt have a hundred marks for such a cause, and one mark of gold for the queen." The amounts called for, moreover, are received separately at the exchequer by her officials constituted for this purpose. Know also that even though the king relinquish the half or the whole of the money promised to himself, or even put off sending a summons for it,—nevertheless, as to what pertains to the queen it shall be done in all things according as it seems good to her; so that, if she be unwilling, what is due to her may neither be remitted nor put off, but the amount of the summons shall be paid, and those who do not pay shall be coerced in the aforesaid manner.
D. Is anything due to the queen from sums under one hundred marks promised to the king?
M. To some it seems right that it should hold good for as low as ten marks—so, namely, that he who has promised 10 to the king is bounden to the queen for one ounce of gold;—to others, not unless for a hundred or more promised in the beginning. Concerning these things, therefore, wait with modesty for the present; for, the matter not being ended yet, the clearing up of it is suspended. On the part of the queen, indeed,mitigation concerning this is being carried on with the debtors, and as yet the case is in the hands of the judge. From the amercements of the Jews, moreover, and from the redemption of moneyers her portion is due to the queen in the aforesaid form, just as we have said that it is from voluntary offerings.
D. With regard to pecuniary fines, and voluntary offerings, does the same law coerce clergy and laymen without a difference?
M. With regard to voluntary offerings one law is observed for all: that, whether he who does not pay be clerk or layman, he shall be deprived of the benefit until he render satisfaction. The same observance is regarded likewise in the case of every thing else that is due to the king, through any agreement, from the clergy—if, namely, they have neglected to announce the privilege of their standing and of free possession. Concerning those, moreover, who do announce it, learn what ought to be done, if it please thee, from discreet and God-fearing laymen; for I omit these things on purpose at i^resent, lest I be said to have dictated to the men of my condition my own rules and more gentle laws.
D. Thou did'st say, if I remember aright, that baronies or estates frequently come into the king's hands; I should wish thee, therefore, please to explain in what manner the income of escheats flows into the fisc; whether in one way or in different ways.
XXVII. That farms are to be answered for in one way and tuardships in another, and that the oath is to be given in different Wording.
M. When a barony or any great holding falls into the hands of the king, by his or by the president's mandate there are sent to it discreet men of both orders, who going through the different localities reduce the revenues of the same to a total, and agree that for this total the sheriff or some one else shall be bounden at the exchequer. When, therefore, he who has been appointed for this purpose renders satisfaction for this total in money, or writs and tallies, afterwards giving an oath that it is a true account, he deserves to be acquitted. And concerning it there shall be written this in the yearly roll: "such and such a one renders account for the farm of such an honour; in the treasury so much, and he is quit "; or "and he owes." But when the king has committed the custody of his escheat to the faith of some one in such wise, namely, that the latter is to pay the income from it into the exchequer, then, after the account has been made, the oath shall not be given in the aforesaid tenor of words; but rather to the effect that, as much as he has received from it in money or in any other things whatever, so much, upon his conscience, he has paid into the exchequer: excepting alone such victuals as have been brought to him, he not extorting them under the semblance of voluntary contributions.
D. Does that administrator, then, receive the necessaries of life from these revenues?
M. Although it is written: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn," nevertheless, except by express mandate of the king, he receives nothing from them; for, whoever he be, he shall serve the king at his own expense in these matters. Concerning such a one, moreover, it shall be written thus in the yearly roll:" such and such a one renders account for the income from such an honour on his affirmation." When, therefore, satisfaction has been rendered for all the aforesaid fixed or casual payments, and the separate items have, in due form, been written down in order in the roll, all those who have seats there are called together to complete the account of the principal farm, he whose name is marked at the head of the roll returns, and the account is completed in the following order. The farm paid this term by the sheriff, concerning which a test has been made, shall first be distributed by the calculator in coin heaps in the spaces marked by the stripes; then, deducting for the combustion, as has been said, the same is blanched, and the little tally of combustion being appended to it, though not being computed to the sheriff,—the sum which is left is put on a tally. Likewise, also, what had been paid at the Easter term, and blanched, is put on the same tally. Likewise, also, the amount of combustion for that term is placed together with the combustion of the final term; so that there may be one tally for both payments, and, in the same way, one for combustion. This having been done, the treasurer, bringing forth the exactory roll which we mentioned above, causes the total for that county to be arranged above in heaps and in order. From this, then, is deducted what was paid into the treasury and blanched; after this, whatever the king has conferred on any one blank from the farm of the county. After this, again, the amount of the other payments made by writ of the king, or otherwise, is arranged in heaps, and is reckoned as blanched by the traction of twelve pence from each pound, jnst as that which is paid in the treasury is blanched by combustion. Then, indeed, a subtraction is made of the expenses below from the total above; and, if he have deserved to be altogether absolved, there is written at the end of that account in large letters: " and he is quit "; or below, at the head of the lower line: "and he owes." Then, at length, the account being ended, the amount of the payments actually in the treasury is put down where we said some time since " in the treasury " was written—where a blank had been left on purpose, lest the scribe might, perhaps, be obliged to erase; which, especially with regard to numbers and names and causes, is, as we said long since, to be avoided.
XXVIII. That an oath as to the truth of an account, being once given, suffices once and for all.
The account for the body of the county being settled, as has been said, the oath of the sheriff is taken by the marshall once, under the aforesaid form; and, after being thus absolved he is dismissed. Some, however, believed that the sheriff should give a separate oath for each separate item that needed confirmation,—so that he should give his oath as often as he said that anything was so which could be confirmed by his oath alone. But this was seen to be a very pernicious subtlety by prudent men and ones skilled in the divine Law, because when once he had given his oath, he had, upon his conscience, made a lawful account for everything. Therefore, after a while, this opinion together with its author came to be rightly despised, and they were content with one oath—that is, with an oath once given; for they are one body in the confession of one faith.
D. I perceive by the already languishing pen that the end of speaking is at hand. But, although the twilight of approaching night, and the more extended labour of a more lengthy task call us to other things and compel us to breathe a little,—I should like thee, nevertheless, if it can be done, to give certainty to the mind of thy pupil which is in suspense and fluctuating at present by reason of thy words, by showing, namely, how it is, as I remember thee to have said in the beginning, that the whole description of the exchequer is a sort of hiding place for sacred truths, which are to be revealed when the books of all are opened and the gates closed.
M. It is great what thou askest and needs further investigation; nor, by my promise, did I become thy debtor to the extent of explaining these things. I pass them over, then, at present, reserving them for the disputation of another day. I fear, indeed, lest if I should impose a new burden on one who is already charged with so many, thou would'st give way under the weight; and, likewise, if to that already said and which is to be committed to memory, I should add the study of something new, I should drive thee to hate both. Be content, therefore, with the things that have already been said, and to which thou did'st drive me; for thou hast in them, as much as could offer itself to a fresh memory, an explanation, as it were from the first principles, of whatever seemed best to thee relating to the science of the exchequer. But as to explaining exactly the different things which in the course of time must necessarily come up,—for that, neither a man's strength, nor perhaps his life would suffice. For from varied and unusual cases either no system at all can be formed, or one hitherto unknown. But for this reason I shall be rather exposed to the tongues of detractors when, as time goes on, many doubtful and hitherto unheard of points shall happen to be brought up. And when they find nothing here concerning these or similar points, they will commence to mock, sapng: this man began to build and could not or did not know how to finish. I do not differ from them. I have followed, indeed, myself as the worst of masters; but have nevertheless, thou compelling me, done what I could without a leader and without a model. For I put my axe to a rude and untouched forest, cutting wood for royal edifices, to be planed by the tool of a more skilful builder. When, therefore, from this material the structure of the royal palace shall have arisen, let him who made the beginning merit the first, even though not the chief thanks. Farewell, illustrious king.