Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages/Book I/Dialogue concerning the Exchequer/First Book
In the twenty-third year of the reign of King Henry II., while I was sitting at the window of a tower next to the River Thames, a man spoke to me impetuously, saying: "master, hast thou not read that there is no use in science or in a treasure that is hidden? " when I replied to him, "I have read so." straightway he said: "why, therefore, dost thou not teach others the knowledge concerning the exchequer which is said to be thine to such an extent, and commit it to writing lest it die with thee?" I answered: "lo, brother, thou hast now for a long time sat at the exchequer, and nothing is hidden from thee, for thou art painstaking. And the same is probably the case with the others who have seats there." But he, " just as those who walk in darkness and grope with their hands frequently stumble,—so many sit there who seeing do not perceive, and hearing do not understand." Then I, " thou speakest irreverently, for neither is the knowledge so great nor does it concern such great things; but perchance those who are occupied with important matters have hearts like the claws of an eagle, which do not retain small things, but which great ones do not escape." And he, " so be it: but althoTigh eagles fly very high, nevertheless they rest and refresh themselves in humble places; and therefore we beg thee to explain humble things which will be of profit to the eagles themselves." Then I; " I have feared to put together a work concerning these things because they lie open to the bodily senses and grow common by daily use; nor is there, nor can there be in them a description of subtile things, or a pleasing invention of the imagination."
And he, " those who rejoice in imaginings, who seek the flight of subtile things, have Aristotle and the books of Plato; to them let them listen. Do thou write not subtile but useful things." Then I; "of those things which thou demandest it is impossible to speak except in common discourse and in ordinary words." " But," said he, as if aroused to ire,—for to a mind filled with desire nothing goes quickly enough,—" writers on arts, lest they might seem to know too little about many things, and in order that art might less easily become known, have sought to appropriate many things, and have concealed them under unknown words: but thou dost not undertake to write about an art, but about certain customs and laws of the exchequer; and since these ought to be common, common words must necessarily be employed, so that the style may have relation to the things of which we are speaking. Moreover, although it is very often allowable to invent new words, I beg, nevertheless, if it please thee, that thou may'st not be ashamed to use the customary names of the things themselves which readily occur to the mind, so that no new difficulty from using unfamiliar words may arise to disturb us." Then I; " I see that thou art angry; but be calmer; I will do what thou dost urge. Rise, therefore, and sit ojiposite to me; and ask me concerning those things that occur to thee. But if thou shalt propound something unheard of, I shall not blush to say 'I do not know.' But let us both, like discreet beings, come to an agreement." And he; " thou respondest to my wish. Moreover, although an elementary old man is a disgraceful and ridiculous thing, I will nevertheless begin with the very elements."
I. What the Exchequer is, and what is the reason of this name.
Disciple. What is the exchequer?
Master. The exchequer is a quadrangular surface about ten feet in length, five in breadth, placed before those who sit around it in the manner of a table, and all around it it has an edge about the height of one's four fingers, lest any thing placed upon it should fall off. There is placed over the top of the exchequer, moreover, a cloth bought at the Easter term, not an ordinary one but a black one marked with stripes, the stripes being distant from each other the space of a foot or the breadth of a hand. In the spaces moreover are counters placed according to their values; about these we shall speak below. Although, moreover, such a surface is called exchequer, nevertheless this name is so changed about that the court itself which sits when the exchequer does is called exchequer; so that if at any time through a decree any thing is established by common counsel, it is said to have been done at the exchequer of this or that year. As, moreover, one says to-day " at the exchequer," so one formerly said " at the tallies."
D. What is the reason of this name?
M. No truer one occurs to me at present than that it has a shape similar to that of a chess board.
D. Would the prudence of the ancients ever have called it so for its shape alone, when it might for a similar reason be called a table (tabularium)?
M. I was right in calling thee painstaking. There is another, but a more hidden reason. For just as, in a game of chess, there are certain grades of combatants and they proceed or stand still by certain laws or limitations, some presiding and others advancing: so, in this, some preside, some assist by reason of their office, and no one is free to exceed the fixed laws; as will be manifest from what is to follow. Moreover, as in chess the battle is fought between kings, so in this it is chiefly between two that the conflict takes place and the war is waged,—the treasurer, namely, and the sheriff who sits there to render account; the others sitting by as judges, to see and to judge.
D. Will the accounts be received then by the treasurer, although there are many there who, by reason of their power, are greater?
M. That the treasurer ought to receive the account from the sheriff is manifest from this, that the same is required from him whenever it pleases the king: nor could that be required of him which he had not received. Some say, nevertheless, that the treasurer and the chamberlains should be bounden alone for what is written in the rolls in the treasury, and that for this an account should be demanded of them. But it is believed with more truth that they should be responsible for the whole writing of the roll, as will be readily understood from what is to follow.
II. That there is a lower one and an tipper one; both have the same origin however.
D. Is that exchequer, in which such a conflict goes on. the only one?
M. No. For there is a lower exchequer which is also called the Receipt, where the money is handed over to be counted, and is put down in writing and on tallies, so that afterwards, at the upper exchequer, an account may be rendered of them; both have the same origin however, for whatever is declared payable at the greater one is here paid; and whatever has been paid here is accounted for there.
III. As to the nature or arrangement of the lower one according to the separate offices.
D. What is the nature or arrangement of the lower exchequer?
M. As I see, thou canst not bear to be ignorant of any of these things. Know then that that lower exchequer has its persons, distinct from each other by reason of their offices, but with one intent devoted to the interests of the king, due regard, nevertheless, being paid to equity; all serving, moreover, not in their own names but in the names of their masters; with the exception of two knights, he, namely, who conducts the assays, and the melter. Their offices depend on the will of our king; hence they seem to belong rather to the upper than to the lower exchequer, as will be explained below. The clerk of the treasurer is there with his seal. There are also two knights of the chamberlains. There is also a certain knight who may be called the silverer, for, by reason of his office, he presides at the testing of silver. There is also the melter who tests the silver. There are also four tellers to count the money. There is also the usher of the treasury and the watchman. These, moreover, are their offices: The clerk of the treasurer, when the money has been counted and put in boxes by the hundred pounds, affixes his seal and puts down in writing how much he lias received, and from whom, and for what cause; he registers also the tallies which have been made by the chamberlains concerning that receipt, Not only, moreover, does he place his seal on the sacks of money, but also, if he wishes, on the chests and on the separate boxes in which the rolls and tallies are placed, and he diligently supervises all the offices which are under him, and nothing is hidden from him. The office of the knights, who are also called chamberlains because they serve in the name of the chamberlains, is this: they carry the keys of the chests; for each chest has two locks of a different kind, that is, to neither of which the key of the other can be fitted; and they carry the keys of them. Each chest, moreover, is girded with a certain immovable strap, on which, in addition, when the locks are closed the seal of the treasurer is placed; so that neither of the chamberlains can have access except by common consent. Likewise it is their duty to weigh the money which has been counted and placed by the hundred shillings in wooden receptacles, so that there be no error in the amount; and then, at length, to put them in boxes by the hundred pounds as has been said. But if a receptacle is found to have any deficiency, that which is thought to be lacking is not made good by calculation, but straightway the doubtful one is thrown back into the heap which is to be counted. And take note that certain counties from the time of king Henry I. and in the time of king Henry II. could lawfully offer for payment coins of any kind of money provided they were of silver and did not differ from the lawful weight; because indeed, by ancient custom, not themselves having moneyers, they sought their coins from on all sides; such are Northumberland and Cumberland. Coins thus received, moreover, although they came from a farm, were nevertheless set apart from the others with some marks placed on them. But the remaining counties were accustomed to bring only the usual and lawful coin of the present money as well from farms as from pleas. But after the illustrious king whose renown shines the brighter in great matters, did, in his reign, institute one weight and one money for the whole kingdom, each county began to be bound by one necessity of law and to be constrained by the manner of payment of a general commerce. All, therefore, in whatever manner they are bounden, pay the same kind of money; but nevertheless all do not sustain the loss which comes from the testing by combustion. The chamberlains likewise make the tallies of receipts, and have in common with the clerk of the treasurer to disburse the treasure received when required by writs of the king or an order of the barons; not, however, without consulting their masters. These three, all together or by turns, are sent with treasure when it is necessary. These three have the principal care of all that is done in the lower exchequer.
D. Therefore, as I perceive, these men are allowed to disburse the treasure received, in consequence of a royal writ or of an order from those who preside—after consultation with their masters, however.
M. They are allowed, I say; in so far as they are entrusted with the payment of the servants of the lower exchequer, and with buying the small necessaries of the exchequer, such as the wooden receptacles, and other things which will be mentioned below; but not otherwise. When any one brings a writ or order of the king for money, by command of their masters that sum which is expressly named in the writ may be paid, with the understanding that, before he go out, he shall count the money received. But if anything be lacking, he who received it shall return to the exchequer and shall give an oath to this effect: that he has brought back as much as he received, adding this, upon his conscience, as is done in other things; and this being done the rest shall be paid him, it being first counted in the presence of all by the regular tellers. But if, the conditions being known to him, he shall have gone out of the door of the treasury, whoever the person, or however great the loss, no heed shall be paid to him. The offices of the knight silverer and of the melter are conjoined and belong rather to the upper exchequer, and therefore will be explained there with the other offices. The office of the four tellers is the following: When the money is sent to the exchequer to be counted, one of them diligently mixes the whole together, so that the better pieces may not be by themselves and the worse by themselves, but mixed, in order that they may correspond in weight; this being done, the chamberlain weighs in a scale as much as is necessary to make a pound of the exchequer. But if the number shall exceed 20 shillings by more than six pence in a pound, it is considered unfit to be received; but if it shall restrict itself to six pence or less, it is received, and is counted diligently by the tellers by the hundred shillings as has been said. But if the coins are from a farm and are to be tested, 44 shillings from the heap, being mixed together, are placed in a compartment by themselves, and on this the sheriff puts a mark; so that there may be afterwards a testing, which is commonly called assaying, of them, as will be made clear further on. It shall, moreover, be the care of those who preside over the Receipt by virtue of their masters—that is of the clerks of the treasurer and of the chamberlains—when the money is received, to put aside weights of the tested silver and coins from a farm, placing certain marks on the bags that contain them, so that, if the king wishes silver vessels to be made for the uses of the house of God, or for the service of his own palace, or perchance money for beyond seas, it may be made from this.
D. There is something in what thou hast said that strikes me.
M. Speak then.
D. Thou said'st, if I remember rightly, that sometimes money is brought to be paid into the exchequer which is judged unfit to be received, if, indeed, being weighed against a pound weight of the exchequer, a deficiency is found of more than six pence. Inasmuch, then, as all money of this kingdom ought to have the stamped image of the king, and all moneyers are bound to work acccording to the same weight, how can it happen that all their work is not of one weight?
M. That is a great question which thou askest, and one which requires further investigation; but it can happen through forgers and clippers or cutters of coin. Thou knowest, moreover, that the money of England can he found false in three ways: false, namely, in weight, false in quality, false in the stamping. But these kinds of falsification are not visited by an equal punishment. But of this elsewhere.
D. If it please thee, continue concerning the offices as thou hast begun.
M. It is the duty of the uslier to exclude or admit as is necessary, and to be diligent in guarding every thing which is shut in by the door; wherefore, as door-money, he shall have two pence from each writ of exit. He furnishes the boxes to put the money in, and the rolls and the tallies, and the other things which become necessary during the year; and for each box he has two pence. He furnishes the whole Receipt with wood suitable for the tallies of receipts and of accounts, and once, that is at the Michaelmas term, he receives five shillings for the wood of the tallies. He furnishes the wooden receptacles, the knives, the compartments, and the straps and the other minute necessaries of the fisc. At that same term are due two shillings for furnishing the ink of the whole year to both exchequers, and this amount, by ancient right, the sacristan of the greater church of Westminster claims for himself. The office of the watchman is the same there as elsewhere; most diligent guarding, namely, at night, chiefly of the treasure and of all those things which are placed in the treasury building. Thus thou hast the various offices of those who serve in the lower exchequer. And they have fixed payments while the exchequer is in progress, that is from the day on which they are called together, to the day on which there is a general departure. The clerk of the treasurer who is below, has five pence a day. The scribe of the same treasurer in the upper exchequer has likewise five. The scribe of the chancellor, five. The two knights who bear the keys have each eight, by reason of their knighthood. For they claim that they are bound to be ready with the necessary horses and weapons, so that when they are sent with the treasure they may thus more readily execute what pertains to their office. The knight-silverer has twelve pence a day. The melter, five. The usher of the greater exchequer, five. The four tellers, each three pence, if they are at London; if at Winchester each one has two, since they are generally taken from there. The watchman has one penny. For the light of each night at the treasury one halfpenny.
D. For what reason does the usher of the treasury alone receive no pay?
M. I do not exactly know. But, however, perhaps he does not receive any pay because he is seen to receive something as door-money, and for furnishing the boxes and tallies; or perchance because he seems to serve, not the king, but the treasurer and the chamberlains in guarding the door of their building. In this way, then, has the arrangement of the lower exchequer or Receipt been made.
'D. I have been so well satisfied in this regard that nothing seems to be wanting. Proceed now, if it please thee, concerning the greater exchequer.
IV. What is the competency of the Upper Exchequer, and whence it takes its origin.
M. Although the offices of those who have seats at the greater exchequer seem to differ in certain functions, the purpose, nevertheless, of all the offices is the same, to look out for the king's advantage; with due regard for equity however, according to the fixed laws of the exchequer. The arrangement or ordering of the latter is confirmed by its antiquity and by the authority of the nobles who have their seats there. It is said to have begun with the very conquest of the kingdom made by king William, the arrangement being taken, however, from the exchequer across the seas; but they differ in very many and almost the most important points. Some believe it to have existed under the Anglo-Saxon kings, taking their argument in this matter from the fact that the peasants and already decrepit old men of those estates which are called of the crown, whose memory is gray in these matters, knew very well, having been taught by their fathers, how much extra money they are bound to pay on the pound for the blanching of their farm. But this argument applies to the payment of the farm, not to the session of the exchequer. The fact also seems to be against those who say that the blanching of the farm began in the time of the Anglo-Saxon kings, that in the Domesday book, in which a diligent description of the whole kingdom is contained, and in which the value is expressed of the different estates as well of the time of king Edward as of the time of king William, under whom it was made,—there is no mention at all of the blanching of the farm: from which it seems probable that, after the time when that survey was made in the reign of the aforementioned king, the blanching of the farm was fixed upon by his investigators on account of causes which are noted below. But at whatever time it came into use, it is certain that the exchequer is confirmed by the authority of the great, so that it is allowed to no one to infringe its statutes or to resist them by any kind of rashness. For it has this in common with the Court itself of the lord king (Curia Regis), in which he in his own person administers the law, that no one is allowed to contradict a record or a sentence passed in it. The authority, moreover, of this court is so great, as well on account of the pre-eminence of the royal image, which, by a special prerogative, is kept on his seal of the treasury, as on account of those who have their seats there, as has been said; by whose watchfulness the condition of the whole kingdom is kept safe. For there sits the Chief Justice of the lord king by reason of his judicial dignity, as well as the greatest men of the kingdom, who share familiarly in the royal secrets; so that whatever has been established or determined in the presence of such great men subsists by an inviolable right. In the first place, there sits, nay also presides, by reason of his office, the first man in the kingdom,—namely, the Chief Justice. With him sit, solely by command of the sovereign, with momentary and varying authority, indeed, certain of the greatest and most discreet men in the kingdom, who may belong either to the clergy or to the court. They sit there, I say, to interpret the law and to decide upon the doubtful points which frequently arise from incidental questions. For not in its reckonings, but in its manifold judgments, does the superior science of the exchequer consist. For it is easy when the sum required has been put down, and the sums which have been handed in are placed under it for comparison, to tell by subtraction if the demands have been satisfied or if anything remains. But when one begins to make a many-sided investigation of those things which come into the fisc in varying ways, and are required under different conditions, and are not collected by the sheriffs in the same way,—to be able to tell if the latter have acted otherwise than they should, is in many ways a grave task. Therefore the greater science of the exchequer is said to consist in these matters. But the judgments on doubtful or doubted points which frequently come up can not be comprehended under one form of treatment; for all kinds of doubts have not yet come to light. Certain, however, of the matters which we know to have been brought up and settled, we shall note below in their proper place.
V. What is the office of the President, and of all those who sit there officially; and what the arrangement of the seats.
D. What is the office of this so important a member?
M. Nothing can be more truly said of him than that he looks after all things in the lower and upper exchequer, and all the lower offices are arranged according to his will; in such wise, however, that they duly turn out to the advantage of the lord king. In this, moreover, among other things, his exalted character is seen,—that he, under his own witness, can" cause a writ of the lord king to be made out so that any sum may be delivered from the treasury, or that there may be computed to any one, whatever he knows ought, by command of the king, to be computed to him. Or, if he prefer, he can make his own writ, witnessed to by others, concerning these matters.
D. Great is this man to whose fidelity the care of the whole kingdom, nay, the very heart of the king is entrusted. For, indeed, it is written: " where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." But now, if it please thee, continue concerning the others.
M. Dost thou wish me to proceed with them according to the grade of their dignities, or according to the disposition of the seats?
D. According as each one, by reason of his office, has attained his seat. For it will be easy, I imagine, to conclude the dignities from the offices.
M. That thou may'st understand in what order they are arranged, know that at the four sides of the exchequer four seats or benches are placed. But at the head of the exchequer—that is, where the broad side is,—in the middle, not of the seat, but of the exchequer, is the place of that chiefman of whom we spoke above. In the first place on his left sits, by reason of his office, the chancellor, if he should happen to be present; after him the knight whom we call constable: after him, two chamberlains, he being first who, judging from his more advanced age, is the more venerable: after these, the knight who is commonly called the marshal. In the absence of these, others, however, are sometimes put in their place; or perchance even when they are present, if, namely, the authority of those who are delegated by the king shall be so great that the others ought to give place to them. Such is the arrangement of the first bench. In the second, moreover, which is on the long side of the exchequer, sits, in the place at the head, the clerk or another servant of the chamberlains, with the "recauta,"—that is, with the counter-tallies from the Receipt. After him, some coming in between who do not sit there by reason of their office but are delegated by the king, is a place almost in the middle of the side of the exchequer, for him who puts down the sums by the placing of counters. After him some, not by reason of their office, but nevertheless necessary. At the end of that bench sits the clerk who presides over the scriptorium, and he by reason of his office. Thus thou hast the arrangement of the second bench. But at the right of the presiding Justice sits in the first place the now Bishop of Winchester, the former arch-dean of Poietiers,—not, indeed, by reason of his office, but by a new decree; in order, namely, that he may be next to the treasurer and may diligently give his attention to the writing of the roll. After him, at the head of the third seat, on the right, sits the treasurer, who has to attend most carefully to everything which is done there, being bound to give an account, as it were, of all these things, if there shall be need of it. After him sits his clerk, the scribe of the roll of the treasury: after him, another scribe, of the roll of the chancery: after him, the clerk of the chancellor, who with his own eyes always sees to it that his roll corresponds to the other in every point, so that not one jot is lacking and that the order of writing does not differ: after him, almost at the end of that bench, sits the clerk of the constable, great, indeed, and busy at the court of the lord king, and having, indeed, here an office which he performs in person or, if the king shall seem to have more use for him elsewhere, through a discreet clerk. This, then, is the description of the third bench. On the fourth bench, which is opposite the Justice, Master Thomas, who is called Brunus, sits at the head with a third roll which has been added as a new institution, that is, by our lord king; for it is written, " and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." After him the sheriffs and their clerks, who sit there to render account with tallies and other necessaries. This then is the arrangement of the fourth bench.
D. Has then the scribe of Master Thomas his seat in the same range with the other scribes, and not rather above the others?
M. He does indeed have his seat not with the others but above the others.
D. Why is this so?
M. Inasmuch as, from the beginning, the seats were so arranged that the scribe of the treasurer should sit at his side lest anything should be written which should escape his eye; and in like manner the scribe of the chancery at the side of the scribe of the treasurer, that he might faithfully take down what the latter wrote; and likewise the clerk of the chancery was of necessity next to that scribe, lest he might err: there was no place left in the order of the bench where Master Thomas's scribe might sit, but a raised place was given him that he might be above and overlook the scribe of the treasurer, who is the first to write, and may take down from him. what is necessary.
D. He would need to have the eyes of a lynx so as not to err; for an error in these things is said to be dangerous.
M. Although, on account of being far off, he sometimes makes a mistake, yet, when the rolls are corrected, a comparison being made of all three, it will be easy to correct the mistakes.
D. Enough has thus far been said concerning the order of seating. Now proceed, if it please thee, concerning their offices, beginning on the left of the president.
As to the Chancellor.
M. In that order the chancellor is first; and as in the court, even so is he great at the exchequer; so that without his consent and advice nothing great is done or may be done. But this is his office when he sits at the exchequer: to him pertains the custody of the royal seal which is in the treasury, but it does not leave there except when, by order of the Justice, it is borne by the treasurer or chamberlain from the lower to the upper exchequer, for the sole purpose of carrying on the business of the exchequer. This having been performed, it is put in its box and the box is sealed by the chancellor and is given thus to the treasurer to be guarded. Likewise, when it becomes necessary, it is proffered sealed to the chancellor before the eyes of all; it is never to be proffered, by him or by another, in any other way. Likewise to him, through a substitute, pertains the custody of the roll of the chancery; and, since it so seemed good to great men, the chancellor is equally responsible with the treasurer for all the writing on the roll, except alone what has been written down as having been received in the treasury: for although he may not prescribe how the treasurer writes, nevertheless, if the latter shall have erred, it is allowed to him or to his clerk with modesty to chide the treasurer and suggest what he shall do. But if the treasurer persevere, and be unwilling to change, being himself confident,—the chancellor can accuse him, but only before the barons, so that by them shall be declared what ought to be done
D. It seems probable that the guardian of the third roll, also, is bound by the same responsibility as to the writing.
M. It is not only probable but true: for those two rolls have an equal authority in the matter of the writing; for so it pleased the originator.
As to the Constable.
The office of the constable at the exchequer is, in the case of royal writs concerning the issue of treasure or concerning any accountings to be made, to be witness, together with the president, for those who make the account. For in all such writs it is necessary, according to ancient custom, that two witnesses shall be inscribed. It is likewise his office, when the king's soldiers come to the exchequer for their pay, whether they reside in the castles of the king or not, taking with him the clerk of the constabulary—whose duty it is to know their terms of payment—and the marshall of the exchequer,—to compute their payments and to take their oath concerning arrears, and to cause the rest to be paid. For every payment of all persons whatever, whether of hawkers, or falconers, or bear-wardens, pertains to his office if he be present; unless, perchance, the lord king shall have previously assigned some one else to this duty: for the constable can not easily be torn from the king, on account of greater and more urgent business. It is to be noted that the marshall of the exchequer takes from the payments of native knights what belongs to him by reason of his office; not however from alien ones. It is likewise common to him with the other greater barons, that no great measure shall be taken without consulting him.
As to the Chamberlains.
The office of the chamberlains is akin to the office of the treasurer, for they are known to serve under one and the same mantle of honour or loss; and they have one will with regard to the king's honour; so that what has been done by one may not be declared invalid by any of them. For the treasurer receives the accounts for himself and for them; and, according to the qualities of the items, furnishes the wording for the writing of the roll; in all of which things they are bound by an equal bond of union. And it is the same with regard to all other things which are done by him or by them—saving their fealty to the lord king—whether in the matter of writing, of receipts, of tallies or of expenses.
As to the Marshal.
It is the duty of the marshal to put aside in his box the tallies of the debtors which the sheriff hands in, which, all the same, are put down on the roll; also the writs of the king concerning the computing or remitting or giving of those things which are demanded of the sheriff through the summons. On that box is placed the name of the county to which these belong, and it is necessary that, for the separate counties, separate boxes should be furnished to the marshal by the sheriff who renders his account.
D. There is something here that troubles me.
M. I quite foresaw it. But wait a little. Everything will be plain from what follows. Likewise if any debtor, not giving satisfaction for the amount of his summons, shall have deserved to be siezed, he is handed over to the marshal to be guarded, and when the exchequer of that day is dissolved, the latter shall, if he wish, send him to the public jail; he shall not, however, be chained or thrust into the dungeon, but shall be apart by himself or above the subterraneous jail. For although he be not solvent, he has not, nevertheless, on this account deserved to be put with the criminals; that is, provided he is not a knight; for concerning knights held for debt there is an illustrious decree of the king which will be noticed below in treating of the sheriff. It is likewise the marshal's concern, when the account of the sheriff, or administrator, or whatever person sits to render account, is finished, to take an oath from him in public to the effect that, upon his conscience, he has rendered a true account. But if the sheriff, or he who has accounted, is bound by any debt he shall add that he will not depart from the exchequer, that is, from the banlieu of the town in which it is, without permission of the barons, unless he is going to return on the same day. Likewise the marshal shall receive, numbered, the writs of summons made out against the term fixed for the next exchequer, sealed with the royal seal; And shall distribute them with his own hand to the usher of the upper exchequer to be carried throughout England. Thus thou hast the different offices of those who sit on the first bench.
As to the Maker of Tallies.
Now at the head of the second seat the serjeant of the chamberlains comes first, a clerk or a layman, whose office can briefly be disposed of; in word, however, not in deed. He brings forth from the treasury the tallies against the sheriff or against him who renders account; and, when it is necessary, according as the manner of accounting demands, he changes or diminishes or adds to the tally, comparing it with the counter tally of the sheriff. This having been done at the Easter term, he gives back the longer one to the sheriff to bring again at the Michaelmas term. But at the Michaelmas term, when the amount of it shall have been put down in -writing in the roll, he hands this same longer one to the marshal to put in his box.
D. I wonder at thy saying that a tally once offered for an account, should again be offered for another account.
M. Do not wonder; for with regard to whatever has been exacted, or paid by the sheriff at the Easter term, he must again be summoned; not, indeed, in order that what has been paid should be paid again, but that the sheriffs shall present themselves to give account, and that the tally offered for the payment previously made may be reduced to writing in the roll, and that thus he may be absolved from his debt. For so long as he has the tally in his possession, he will not be acquitted but will always be liable to be summoned.
D. And all this seems necessary. But proceed, if it please thee, concerning the offices.
M. Nay, since we have made mention of tallies, learn in a few words what the process is in which the matter of tallying consists. There is, then, one kind of tally which is called simply tally; another, which we call memoranda tally. The length of an ordinary tally is from the top of the forefinger to the top of the extended thumb; there it is perforated with a moderate borer. But a memoranda which is always accustomed to be made for a blank farm is a little shorter; for when the assay is made through which the farm is blanched, that first one is broken, and the tally of combustion being added to it, it then first merits the length of a tally. The incision, moreover, is made in this way: At the top they put 1000£, in such way that its notch has the thickness of the palm; 100£, of the thumb; 20£, of the ear; the notch of one pound, about of a swelling grain of barley; but that of a shilling, less; in such wise, nevertheless, that, a space being cleared out by cutting, a moderate furrow shall be made there; the penny is marked by the incision being made, but no wood being cut away. On the side where the 1000 is cut thou dost not put another number, unless, perhaps, the middle part of it; in such wise that thou in like manner dost take away the middle part of its notch and dost place it below.  Just so if 100£ is to be cut in, and thou hast no thousands, thou shalt do the same; and if 20£, the same; and if 20 shillings, which we call a pound. But if many thousands or hundreds or twenties of pounds are to be cut in, the same law shall be observed, so that on the more open side of the tally, that is, that which is placed directly before thee, a mark being made, the greater number shall be cut; but on the other, the lesser; but on the obverse side, is always the greater number at the top, but on the converse always the lesser, that is, the pence. For a mark of silver there is no special notch at the exchequer, but we designate it in shillings. But a mark of gold thou dost cut in the middle of the tally as though it were one pound. But one gold piece is not cut altogether like a silver piece, but by drawing the knife directly through the middle of the tally; not obliquely, as in the case of the silver piece. Thus, therefore, both, the arrangement of the positions and the difference of cut, determines what is gold and what is silver. But thou shalt learn all this more conveniently by looking at it than by hearing of it.
D. What remains of this will be made clear by ocular demonstration. Now, if it please thee, proceed concerning the offices.
M. After him, as we said above, a few discreet men who are delegated by the king coming in between, sits he who, by command of the king makes computations by the placing of coins used as counters. This office iudeed is perplexing and laborious enough; and, without it, seldom or never could the business of the exchequer be carried on; but it belongs officially to none of those who sit there, but to him to whom the king or the Justice shall give it to fill. Laborious, I say, for other offices are filled Toy the tongue or the hand, this by both; in it " the hand, the tongue and the eye, and the mind are unwearied in labour."
As to the Calculator.
This is his business: according to the usual course of the exchequer, not according to arithmetical laws. Thou wilt remember, I presume, my saying that on the exchequer was placed a cloth divided by stripes, in the spaces of which heaps of cash are placed. Now the calculator sits in the middle of the side, that he may be visible to all, and that his busy hand may have free course. He has placed already at his right hand, in the lower space, a heap of pennies from 11 down; in the second, of shillings from 19 down; but in the third, of pounds. And this heap, indeed, ought to be opposite and directly facing him, for in the ordinary accounts of the sheriff it is the medium; in the fourth is the heap of the twenties; in the fifth, of the hundreds; in the sixth, of the thousands; in the seventh, but rarely, of the ten thousands of pounds; rarely, I say, that is when, through the king or his mandate, the account for the receipts of the whole kingdom is received by the nobles of the kingdom from the treasurer and the chamberlains. Moreover, it is lawful for the calculator to put a silver piece in place of ten shillings, or a gold obol in place of ten pounds, so that the account may be more quickly made. He must take care, however, lest his too hasty hand proceed before his tongue, or the reverse; but at the same time that he counts he shall place the counter and designate the number, lest there be an error in the number. The sum, therefore, which is required from the sheriff being arranged in heaps, those sums which have been paid in, either to the treasury or otherwise, are arranged below, likewise in heaps. But if it be a farm by tale which is required of him, or any other debt which can be satisfied by tale only, there shall simply be made a deduction of the lower from the upper sum, and he shall be bounden for the rest; it shall be done otherwise, however, if he be about to pay a blank farm; as will be more fully shown when we treat of the sheriff's business.
D. Spare a moment thy running pen that I may be allowed to say a few words.
M. It is thy turn to throw the die, nor may speech be denied thee.
D. It seems to me as if I were given to understand that, by means of calculation, the same coin being placed for a counter shall signify now a penny, now a shilling, now a pound, now a hundred, now a thousand.
M. So it is, but only, however, if it is placed with coins corresponding to those values; or, if it is taken away from them, it can, at the pleasure of the calculator, be brought about that the one which signifies a thousand, by gradually descending, shall signify one.
D. Thus it happens when one of the people, since he is a man and can not be any thing else, ascends from the depths to the summit, temporal benefits being bestowed on him by the will of the President; and then, according to Fortuna's law, is thrust back into the depths, remaining what he was although he seemed by reason of his dignity and standing to have been changed from himself.
M. Know that thy words do not apply in all respects. But, however it may seem to others, I am well pleased that from these matters thou dost infer others; indeed it is praiseworthy to seek the flowers of mystic meaning in the winnowings of mundane affairs. And not alone in these things that thou dost mention, but in the whole description of the exchequer there are hiding places, as it were, of holy truths. For the diversity of officials, the authority of the judicial power, the impression of the royal image, the sending out of summonses, the writing of the rolls, the account of land rents, the exaction of debts, the condemnation or absolution of the accused, are a symbol of the strict examination that will be made when the books of all shall be opened and the gates closed. But so much for these things. Now let us proceed concerning the offices; after him who has charge of the counters, first, by reason of his office, sits the clerk who presides over the scriptorium of the king.
As to the Clerk who presides over the scriptorium.
To him it pertains to find suitable scribes for the roll of the chancery, and for the writs of the king which are made in the exchequer, also for writing summonses; and to see to it that they are well done: which offices, although they are expressed in a few words, can scarcely be fulfilled even with infinite pains; as those know who have learnt by experience in such matters. Thus thou hast the offices of those who are placed on the second bench.
As to the Archdean of Poiwtiers, now Bishop of Winchester.
D. If I remember well, first at the right of the president sits the Bishop of Winchester, whose office at the exchequer I should like straightway to find out. For he is great and ought not to be busied save with great things.
M. He is great, without doubt; and, intent on great things, he is drawn in many directions, as is more fully shown in the Tricolumnis. He, before the time of his promotion, when he was serving a little lower in the court of the king (Curia Regis), seemed, by reason of his fidelity and industry, necessary to the business of the king, and very ready and officious in computations and in the writing of rolls and writs. Wherefore the place was given him at the side of the treasurer, so that with the latter, indeed, he might attend to the writing of the rolls and to all of these things. The treasurer, indeed, is distracted by so many and such great cares and solicitudes for all things, that necessarily at times slumber creeps over such great labours. For in human affairs hardly anything is entirely perfect.
D. What dost thou say? For I do not even know what the Tricolumnis is.
M. It is a book, indeed, composed by us although in the time of our youth, concerning the three-fold history of the kingdom of England, under the illustrious king of the English, Henry the Second. And this, because we have treated it all through in three columns, we have called the Tricolumnis. In the first, indeed, we have treated of many matters concerning the English church, and of some rescripts of the apostolic see. But in the second, of the distinguished deeds of the aforesaid king, which exceed human belief. But in the third many public as well as private matters are treated of, and also sentences of the court. If this by chance should fall into thy hands, see that it do not escape thee; for it may be useful in future times and entertaining to those who shall be interested in the state of the kingdom under the aforesaid prince. For although this king is descended from ancestral kings, and has spread his kingdom with triumphant victory throughout long spaces of land: it is nevertheless a great thing, that, by his mighty deeds, he has surpassed the title of fame so prodigal towards him. But enough of this. Now let us continue the matter begun.
D. So be it, if it so please thee. It may be that due reverence for the treasurer is observed: here it seems derogatory to his dignity that in all things his sole faith is not trusted.
M. God forbid; nay rather, in this way his labours are spared and indemnity is assured to him; for it is not that he or another—so many and so great they are who sit at the exchequer—is not trusted: but that for such great matters and affairs of the kingdom, under so great a prince, it is fitting that great men and many of them be chosen; not, however, that they may look out for their own advantage, but that they may serve the glory and honour of the king.
D. Proceed, if it please thee, concerning the offices,
As to the Treasurer.
M. The office of the treasurer, or his care and business, could hardly be expressed in words, even though mine were the pen of a ready writer. For in all things, and concerning all things which are carried on either in the lower or the upper exchequer, his careful diligence is necessary. From what has been said before, nevertheless, it will be in great part clear in what things his principal care consists, so that he can not be torn from these so long as the exchequer lasts: namely, in receiving the accounts of the sheriff, and in the writing of the roll. For he furnishes the words, according to the nature of the matters, for the writing of his roll,—from which afterwards that same wording is taken by the other rolls as has been said above; and he must take care that there be no mistake either in the number, or the cause, or the person,—lest he be cancelled who is not quit, or he be summoned again who ought to be acquitted. For so great is the authority of his roll that it is permitted to no one to contradict it or to change it; unless, perchance, there be so manifest an error that it is clear to all: nor may it even then be changed unless by the common counsel of all the barons, and in their presence, the exchequer of that day being still in session. But a writing of the roll made in the year gone by, or even one of the current year, after the exchequer has been dissolved, may lawfully be changed by no one except the king, to whom, with regard to these matters, every thing is lawful that pleases him. Likewise it is the treasurer's duty to be associated in all great matters with his superiors, and to let nothing be hidden from him.
As to the Scribe of the Treasurer.
The office of the scribe who is next to the treasurer is to prepare the rolls for writing, from sheep-skins, not without cause. Their length, moreover, is as much as results from two membranes; not from random ones, but from large ones, prepared with care for this purpose: but the breadth is a little more than that of one and a half. The rolls, therefore, being ruled from the top almost to the bottom, and on both sides, the lines being suitably distant from each other, the counties and bailwicks of which an account is below rendered are marked at the top: but a moderate interval being left, the space as it were of three or four fingers, in the middle of the line is written the name of the county which is treated of in the first place. Then at the head of the following line is written the name of the sheriff, followed by this form of words: "that or that sheriff renders account of the farm of that or that county."
Then a little further on in the same line is written "in the treasury," and nothing else is added until the account is completed, for an important reason which is explained in the chapter on the sheriff. Then at the head of the following line is put down what part of the farm of the county is expended in alms and in the fixed tithes, what, also, in liveries. After these, at the head of the lower line are noted, among the lands given away, those which the generosity of the kings has conferred on churches or on those who did military service for them; among the estates called crown lands, which are blank, which by tale.
D. It surprises me, what thou sayest, that some estates are given blank, some by tale.
M. Let us proceed at present concerning the office of the scribe; and, when we are treating of the sheriff, ask me concerning this if thou wilt. After the lands given away, a space being left of one line so that the things by their very nature may seem separate, those things are noted which were ordered to be expended from the farm by a writ of the king; for these are not fixed, but casual. Some also which are without writs are accounted for as by custom of the exchequer, concerning which we will speak later: and thus the account for the body of the county is terminated. After this, a space being left of about six or seven lines, an account is made of the purprestures and escheats under this form of words: the same sheriff renders account of the farm of purprestures and escheats"; but also of all the farms of manors and of the rent of woods which are annually due and paid. After these the accounts are put down in their order, excepting some cities and towns and bailiwicks of which the accounts are greater because they have fixed alms or liveries or lands given; and to the administrators of such lands special summonses are sent concerning their dues to the king. Their accounts, moreover, are made up after the account of the county in which they are is altogether finished. Such are Lincoln, Winchester, Mienes (?), Berchamstead, Colchester, and very many others.
D. I wonder at thy saying that some fixed revenues are called farms, but some, rents.
M. Farms are of manors; rents, however, only of woods. For the things that come from manors are rightly called firm and immutable, because, through agriculture, they are every year renewed and return, and besides this constitute in themselves sure revenues by the perpetual law of custom. But what by a yearly law is due from woods which are daily cut down and perish—for which there is not so firm or fixed a demand, but which are subject to rises and falls, though not yearly, yet frequent—is called rent: and so, by elision, they say that these revenues are rented. Some nevertheless believe that what is paid by individuals is called rent; but a farm, what results from these rents; so that farm is a collective name like crowd: wherefore, as is believed, it is thus called rent to indicate a yearly payment and show that it is not firm. After these fixed payments, a space again being left, an account is made of the debts concerning which the sheriff has been summoned; the names, however, being first put down of those judges who have apportioned these debts. But lastly an account is made of the chattels of fugitives or of those mutilated for their offences. And all this being completed, the account of that county is terminated. The scribe must take care not to write anything of his own accord in the roll, except what he has learned from the treasurer's dictation. But if, perhaps, through negligence or any other chance he should happen to err in writing the roll, either in the name or the amount or in the matter—in which the greater force of the writing consists,—he shall not presume to erase, but shall cancel by drawing, underneath, a thin line, and shall write directly following what is necessary. For the writing of the roll has this in common with charters and other letters patent, that it may not be erased: and for this reason care has been taken to make them of sheep-skins; for they do not easily yield to erasure without the blemish becoming apparent.
D. Does that scribe furnish the rolls at his own expense or at that of the fisc?
M. At the Michaelmas term he receives five shillings from the fisc, and the scribe of the chancery likewise another five; from which they procure the membranes for both rolls and for the summonses and receipts of the lower exchequer.
As to the Scribe of the Chancery.
The care, the labour, the zeal of the remaining scribe sitting at his side consists chiefly in this, namely, that he shall take down from the other roll word for word; as we said before, the same order being observed. Likewise it pertains to him to write the writs of the king concerning outlays of the treasury, but only for those payments which, in the judgment of the barons, while the exchequer is in session, ought to be made by the treasurer and chamberlains: likewise he writes the writs of the king concerning the computing or remitting of those things which the barons have decreed should be computed or remitted at the exchequer. It is his duty also, when the accounts of the sheriff have been gone through, and the dues of the king for which the summonses are made, estimated, to write out the latter, with diligent and at the same time laborious discretion, to be sent throughout the whole kingdom: for by them, and on account of them, the exchequer of the following term is called together.
VI. What the tenor is of Writs of the King made at the Exchequer, whether concerning outlays of the Treasury, or computings or remittings.
D. Under what form of words are writs of the king concerning outlays of the treasury drawn up?
M. The treasurer and chamberlains do not expend the money received, unless by express mandate of the king or of the presiding justice: for when the general account is demanded from them, they must have the authority of a rescript of the king concerning the money distributed; moreover this is the wording under which they are drawn up: "H. king, etc., to N. the treasurer and to this man and that man, chamberlains, greeting. Pay from my treasury to that or that man, this or this sum. These being witnesses before N. at the exchequer." Moreover " at the exchequer" is added that thus there may be a difference from the writs that are made in the curia regis. It is also necessary, when a writ is made concerning an outlay from the treasury, as we have said, that that same scribe shall make a copy of it, which is commonly called counter-writ; and this the clerk of the chancery shall reserve in his own possession, in testimony of the payment made through the original writ of the king, which the treasurer and chamberlains have. Also writs of computing or remitting those things which the barons shall have decreed should be computed or remitted—the will of our lord king having previously become known—are drawn up under this tenor of words: "H. by the grace of God, etc., to the barons of the exchequer, greeting. Compute to that or that man this or this sum, which he expended for this or that affair of mine. These being witness there at the exchequer." Likewise: "The king to the barons of the exchequer, greeting. I remit to that man, or quit-claim to this or that one this or that. These being witnesses there at the exchequer." Copies of all these writs shall remain with the aforesaid clerk, as a proof that the writs were made out. For the original writs of computations or remissions are enclosed in the boxes of the marshall when the accounts of the sheriffs are made up; for the rest, unless a dispute arise concerning them, they are not to be shown. Moreover, what we have said of the writs of the king is likewise to be understood of the writs of the presiding justice; but only when the king is absent and, with the impress of his seal, the laws of the kingdom are established and the cases are called, so that they who are summoned before the court are condemned or acquitted. But so long as the king shall be in the kingdom of England, the writs of the exchequer shall be made in the royal name, under the witness of this same president and of some other magnate. What the tenor is, moreover, of those writs which are called summonses, will be more fully told below in the chapter on summonses.
As to the Clerk of the Chancellor.
The clerk of the chancellor, who is next to the latter, although he serves not in his own but in another's name, is, nevertheless, busied about great things, and is called in many directions: so that from the very beginning of the accounts to the end he can not be torn thence; unless perchance he is lenient to himself, a discreet representative being meanwhile substituted for him. He has the first care after the treasurer in all these things which are done there; principally, however, in the matter of writing the rolls and writs; for in these things he is chiefly versed. And he looks out lest the pen of his scribe, while he follows the other with equal steps, should commit an error. Likewise he looks diligently at the roll of the former year placed before him, until satisfaction shall have been given by the sheriff for those debts which are there marked, and for which he is summoned. Likewise when the sheriff sits to render account, the fixed payments from the county having been computed and put in writing, he takes from the sheriff: the writ of summons to which the king's seal is appended, and presses the sheriff for those debts which are there written down, speaking in public, and saying; "render for this, so much; and for that, so much." The debts, moreover, which are paid entirely, and for which satisfaction is given, the same clerk cancels by a line drawn through the middle; so that there may thus be a distinction between what is paid and what is to be paid. He also guards the counter-writs of those drawn up at the exchequer. He also corrects and seals the summonses made, as has been said before; and he has infinite labour and is the greatest after the treasurer.
D. Here Argus would be more useful than Polyphemus.
As to the Clerk of the Constabulary.
M. The clerk of the constabulary is great, and busied at the curia regis; at the exchequer also he is called in, together with the magnates to all the most impoi'tant affairs, and with his consent matters concerning the king are carried on. He is, moreover, sent by the king to the exchequer with the counter-writs against the terms of the exchequer, but only concerning those things which are done at the curia. He also, with the constable, sees to the payments of the knights, or of certain of them as has been said; and at times his office is laborious enough, although it is expressed in few words. Nevertheless he fills it very often through a substitute as does the chancellor; for the higher officials can not easily absent themselves from the presence of the king. Thus thou hast, to some extent, the distribution of offices of those placed on the third bench at the right of the president.
As to Brunus.
Now at the head of the fourth seat which is placed opposite the justices sits Master Thomas, called Brunus. His authority at the exchequer is not to be despised. For it is a great and mighty proof of his faithfulness and discretion that he was chosen by a prince of such excellent talents to have, contrary to the ancient custom, a third roll in which he may write the prerogatives of the realm and the secrets of the king, and which, keeping it in his own charge, he may cany wherever he wishes. He also has his clerk in the lower exchequer, who, sitting next to the clerk of the treasury, has free opportunity to write what is received and expended in the treasury.
D. Is, then, his faith and discretion so well known to the, king that, for this work, no one else is considered equal to him in merit?
M. He was great at the court of the great king of Sicily, provident in his counsels, and almost first in the privy council of the king. Meanwhile a new king arose who ignored him, one who, having evil men around him, persecuted his father in the persons of the latter's adherents. That man, therefore, his good fortune having changed, was compelled to flee for his life, and although access was open to him with the greatest honour to very many kingdoms, nevertheless, being frequently invited by Henry the illustrious king of the English, whose fame is less than the truth itself, he preferred to go to his native soil and to his hereditary and incomparable master. Being received therefore by him as befitted both, because in Sicily he had been concerned with great matters, here also he is deputed to the great affairs of the exchequer. Thus, therefore, he attained an abiding place and an office of dignity. He is called in, also, with the magnates to all the great matters of the exchequer. The above, then, are the different prerogatives of all those who, by reason of their office, sit at the greater exchequer. It is next in order, if I mistake not, that we proceed to tell what their dignities are by reason of their sitting at the exchequer.
D. Nay, if it please thee, the office is still to be explained of the knight whom thou dost call the silverer, and also the office of the melter; for they have been put off thus far since they are akin to each other and pertain to the greater exchequer.
M. I see that the memory of the things promised does not escape thee, whence the sure hope is conceived that forgetfulness will not defraud thee of what I have already said. I thought, indeed, that I had satisfied thee concerning the offices because I had omitted no one of those who have seats at the exchequer. But those of whom thou dost remind me have not fixed seats allotted them; nay, they fulfil their office according to the command of the president or treasurer.
As to the Knight Silverer.
The knight silverer, then, carries from the lower to the upper exchequer the box of money to be tested, of which we spoke above; when he has brought this in, signed with the seal of the sheriff, he pours out in the exchequer, under the eyes of all, forty four shillings, which, when he took them from the heap, he had previously marked; and mixing them together so that they may correspond in weight, he puts in one scale of the balance a pound weight, in the other as many of the coins as shall be necessary; this being done, he counts them, so that it may be evident from the number if they are of legal weight. But of whatever weight they are found to be, he puts apart into a cup one £, that is, twenty shillings, of which a test shall be made; but the remaining twenty four shillings he puts into a box. Likewise, besides the £, to be tested, two pence are given to the melter, not from the fisc, but on the part of the sheriff; as a reward, so to speak, for his labour. Then there are chosen by the president, or, if he be absent, by the treasurer, two other sheriffs; so that they, together with the knight silverer and also the sheriff against whom the test is to be made, shall proceed to the fire; there the melter, warned before and having made the necessary preparations, awaits their coming. There again, in the presence of the melter and of those who have been sent by the barons, they are diligently counted and handed over to the melter.
As to the Melter.
He, receiving them, counts them with his own hand, and thus places them on a vessel of burning embers which is in the furnace. Then, therefore, obeying the law of the art of melting, he reduces them to a mass, blowing upon, and cleansing, the silver. But he must take care lest it stand longer than necessary, or lest by excessive boilings he trouble and consume it; the former on account of the risk of loss to the king; the latter, to the sheriff; but he shall in every way, with all the industry possible, provide and procure that it be not troubled, but that it be boiled only so as to be pure. Those, moreover, who are sent there by the greater officials, should also see to this same thing. When the test, then, has been made, the others accompanying, the knight silverer carries the silver to the barons; and then, before the eyes of all, he weighs it with the aforesaid pound weight. Moreover he then supplies what the fire has consumed, putting in coin out of that same box, until that which has been tested is in equilibrium with the weight: then the result of that test is inscribed above with these words: "Yorkshire. The pound burnt with so and so many pence loss"; and then that is called an assay; for it is not inscribed unless it be previously agreed that it ought to stand that way. But if the sheriff from whom it comes shall claim that more has been consumed than is just,—by the heat of the fire, perhaps, or by the infusion of lead; or if the melter himself shall confess that, for some reason or other, the test was imperfect;—again twenty shillings—those which remain in the aforesaid box—shall be counted before the barons, as has been described; so that, the same process being observed, a test may be made of them. Hence it must be clear to thee for what reason, from the great heap of money placed there originally, forty four shillings are, from the first, put aside in a box, on which is placed the seal of the sheriff. It is to be noted, indeed, that the melter receives two pence for the testing, as has been said. But if, by any chance, he should go through it again—or even if he test it a third time—he shall not receive anything, but shall be content with the two pence which he has once received.
D. I wonder that by such great men such diligence should be applied to the testing of one pound, since neither great gain nor much loss can come from it.
M. This is gone through with not on account of this pound alone, but on account of all those which, together with this, are paid by the same sheriff under the name of the same farm. For as much as, through the purging fire, falls off from this pound, so much the sheriff knows is to be subtracted from each other pound of his sum: so that if he pays a hundred pounds by tale, and twelve pence have fallen off the test pound, only ninety five are computed to him.
D. Now I seem to see that, from these things, no small gain can arise; but to whom it ought to go I am ignorant,
M. It has been said, and it is always meant, that the advantage of the king alone is served in all these matters. Although, moreover, the combustion is subtracted from the tally of the sheriff, it is nevertheless placed apart on another, shorter tally, so that the treasurer and chamberlains may answer for the the total of it. But thou must know that, through this tally of combustion the farm of the sheriff is blanched; wherefore, in testimony of this, it always remains hanging to the greater tally.
D. A question strikes me here which I remember to have propounded when we were treating of the lower exchequer: why, namely, one pound should fall off more than another, since the condition ought to be the same of all those who have to do with coining money.
M. To this question, as to that former one, it is sufficient to reply that this can be done through forgers and clippers of coin. Some, moreover, have believed—and I do not differ from them—that the money of this kingdom was not lawful if the tested pound decreased more than six pence from the weight to which it corresponds when counted; and also that money of this kind, brought to the exchequer, ought to fall to the fisc,—unless, perhaps, the coins are new and not customary, and the inscription upon them betrays their producer; for then that moneyer shall be strictly called to account for his work, and, according to the established laws, shall be condemned or absolved without loss to the sheriff". But if, the coin being proved and re-proved by testing, the moneyer shall have been condemned and punished, the coins shall be reduced to a mass by the melter of the exchequer—others skilled in this art being present—and its weight shall be computed to the sheriff. But all this is almost abolished now and much relaxed; since, with regard to money, all sin in common; when, however, the money shall come to be of the right measure, and the one fixed by law, it will become necessary to keep the law as originally established. On the other hand, if any sheriff should have brought coins, a pound of which, when burned, kept within five or four or less, and they seemed to have been newly made, not usual or current,— they were likewise called not lawful: exceeding, as it were, the common standard; whence, like the others, they also could be confiscated.
There are likewise at the exchequer fixed payments which are made at stated terms without a writ of the king: such is the salary of the " nauclerus," i.e., the master, of the king's ship which we call " esnecca," who receives twelve pence daily. For this, and for similar payments, tallies are made by the chamberlains, since they do not have writs for them. The knight silverer, moreover, has the "recauta" of these, i.e., the counter-talies. Likewise he and the melter—when it becomes necessary, and the great quantity of money brought in burdens the tellers — may, on being requested by the chamberlains, aid them in counting; it is, however, optional on their parts, not compulsory. Thus thou hast the offices of the knight silverer and the melter.
D. What are the signs of a test completed or of one not completed?
M. I do not sufficiently know; nor have I troubled myself about these things. But so long as over the already liquid silver a sort of little black cloud is seen to hover, it is called incomplete. But when, as it were, certain minute grains ascend from the bottom to the top and there dissolve, it is a sign that the test is done.
VII. By whom, or for what purpose, the testing of silver was instituted.
D. By whom, and on what account, was this testing or combustion instituted?
M. In order that it may be clear to thee concerning these things, I must begin a little further back. In the primitive state of the kingdom after the Conquest, as we have learned from our fathers, not weights of gold or silver, but solely victuals were paid to the kings from their lands; from which the necessaries for the daily use of the royal household were furnished. And those who had been appointed for this purpose knew how much came from the separate estates. But from the pleas of the kingdom and from feudal reliefs, and from the cities or castles by which agriculture was not practised, cash money for the stipends or gifts of the soldiers, and for other necessary things came in. This arrangement, however, continued during the whole time of king William I., and up to the time of king Henry, his son; so that I myself saw some people who had seen victuals carried at stated times from the estates of the crown to the court: and the officials of the royal household knew from which counties corn and from which different kinds of meat, or fodder for horses, or any other necessary things, were due. These being paid according to the measure fixed upon of each thing, the royal officials put them to the account of the sheriff, reducing them to a total of money: for a measure, namely, of grain enough for the bread of a hundred men, one shilling; for the body of a fattened ox, one shilling; for a ram or a sheep, 4d.; for the fodder of twenty horses, likewise 4d. But as time went on, when the same king was occupied across the channel and in remote places, in calming the tumults of war, it came about that the sum necessary for meeting these expenses was paid in ready money. Meanwhile there kept coming to the court of the king a complaining multitude of peasants; or, what seemed to him worse, they frequently came in front of him as he passed, proffering their ploughs as a sign of the defective agriculture; for they were oppressed by innumerable burdens on account of the victuals, which, having to traverse great distances in the realm, they brought from their lands. Yielding, therefore, to their complaints, the opinion of the nobles having been ascertained, he sent out throughout the kingdom the men most prudent and discreet in these matters. These, going around and examining with their own eyes the different estates, and estimating the victuals that were paid from them, reduced them to a sum of money. They decreed, moreover, that for the sum of the sums which was arrived at from all the estates in one county, the sheriff of that county should be bounden to the exchequer; adding that he should pay by scale,—that is, besides each cash pound, 6d. For they thought that, in course of time, it might easily come about that money, then good, might fall from its condition. Nor did their opinion prove false. Therefore they were compelled to decree that the farm of manors should be paid, not alone by scale, but by weight; which could not be done without adding a great deal. This rule of payment was observed for many years in the exchequer: whence, frequently, in the old yearly rolls of that king, thou wilt find written: "in the treasury 100 pounds according to scale," or, "in the treasury 100 pounds according to weight." Meanwhile there came into prominence a prudent man, provident in his plans, discreet in discourse, and, by the grace of God, most remarkably adapted especially for great matters; thou would'st say that in him was fulfilled what is written, " the grace of the Holy Spirit knows no tardy delays." He being called to court by this same king, although unknown, yet not ignoble, taught by his example,
How poverty,  e'en when extreme, can be most fruitful of heroes!
He therefore, increasing in favour with his prince, with the clergy, and with the people, being made bishop of Salisbury, enjoyed the highest honours in the kingdom, and had a great knowledge of the exchequer; so that, as is not doubtful, but is manifest from the rolls themselves, it flourished greatly under him. And from his troughs we, also, have received by tradition that little which we possess. Upon this point, at present, I omit to say much; because, as was due to the greatness of his position, he left a memory to survive him which gives proof of a most noble mind. He afterwards, by order of the prince, came to the exchequer; and after having sat there for some years, he learned that by the kind of payment described above the fisc did not fully get its dues: for although it seemed to get its dues in number and weight, it did not, nevertheless, in material. For it did not follow, when for one pound he paid twenty shillings in cash, even if they corresponded to a pound in weight, that he consequently paid a pound of silver: for he could have paid one mixed with copper or with any ore, since no test was made. In order therefore that the royal and the public advantage might at the same time be provided for, the advice of the king himself having been heard on this matter, it was decreed that the burning or testing of the farm should take place in the aforesaid manner.
D. Why do you say "the public advantage"?
M. Because the sheriff, feeling himself wronged by the combustion of the deteriorated money, when he is about to pay his farm, takes careful heed that the moneyers placed under him do not exceed the bounds of the established standard; and when he has found them out, they are so punished that others may be frightened by their example.
D. Ought then a blank farm to be paid by all the counties, or should a test be made in the case of all the counties?
M. No; but those which by ancient right are said to belong to the royal crown pay thus. Those, however, which pay the fisc for some incidental causes, render their dues by tale alone; such are Shropshire, Sussex, Northumberland and Cumberland. It is open to the sheriff, instead of a blank farm, to pay the weight of tested silver; and thus he will escape the loss by combustion; provided, nevertheless, that the melter of the king shall decree that the same is worthy to be received. Thou knowest now what thou did'st ask about, namely, by whom and for what cause the testing was instituted.
D. I see that, by this, is fulfilled to the letter what is written: " each man's work shall be tried by fire." But now may it please thee to go on with what thou hast begun.
M. So be it. It is in order, I believe, in accordance with the arrangement of the plan laid down, that we proceed to treat of the prerogatives of those who sit at the exchequer, whether officially, or by order of the king.
D. I wonder very much for what reason, when thou wert treating of the offices, thou did'st either refrain on purpose from speaking of the usher of the upper exchequer and his office, or else did'st pass it by, the evil of forgetfulness coming in the way.
M. I congratulate thee on thy memory of what has gone before; for, indeed, the glory of the teacher is in the proficiency of his pupil. Thou knewest that the already mentioned usher received his pay with the other officials, and therefore thou dost rightly ask what is his office. It is then as follows:
As to the Usher of the Upper Exchequer.
That usher, alone, without an associate, guards the door of the exchequer building: unless when, from his own home, he takes servants for the burdensome part of his office. Likewise the same man guards the door of the chamber of secrets, which is situated, next to the exchequer building. Thither go the barons when a doubtful question is propounded to them in the exchequer, concerning which they prefer to deliberate by themselves rather than in the hearing of all. But it is chiefly on this account that they go apart by themselves,—lest, namely, the accounts which are being made up at the exchequer should be impeded; and while they are delaying in private council, the usual course of the accounts goes on. But if any question should arise, it would, be referred to them. It is also free to the usher, with impunity, to preclude ingress when he wishes, to any men—even if great in authority—who are not necessary to the matter in hand. To those alone, who sit at the exchequer by reason of their office or by mandate of the king, is voluntary ingress to either chamber permitted. But if they are persons vouched for, who can not suitably go in when alone, one or two may be shown into the outer building of the exchequer; but into the chamber of secrets only the officials enter, others being excluded; unless when they are called by their masters to perform some matters for the king. Likewise the usher receives the summonses, made out and signed by the marshall. When the exchequer of that term has been dissolved, he bears them in his own person, or by means of a faithful messenger, throughout England, as has been said above. He also, by command of the president, calls into the latter's presence, when he needs them, the sheriffs, who are dispersed in all directions outside the building. Likewise it pertains to him to see to any of the small matters which are necessary in the exchequer building—such as placing and preparing the seats around the exchequer and the like. From the foregoing it is clear to thee, as we believe, concerning the offices of those who sit at the exchequer. We will now show what are their rights or prerogatives by reason of their sitting at the exchequer.
VIII. What are the rights and prerogatives of those sitting at the Exchequer, by reason of their sitting there.
Still further, indeed, the tongue of the detractor must continue to spare us, and the tooth of envy, lest it leap upon us and tear us to pieces; for scarcely any of these things would come to thy knowledge if we saw fit to insist, not on the customary names of things, but on some exquisite scheme of words or on made-up appellations.
D. A novelty of words was the one thing I warned thee to shun from the beginning, and I obtained from thee that thou should' st use common and customary words with regard to common things, lest unaccustomed novelty should disturb the rudimentary teachings. So, therefore, as thou hast begun, may it please thee again to continue thy undertaking. But if, when thou dost thus advance, the emulous mind or tongue of a detractor should overtake thee, thou may'st obtain this from him, that he who in his writings is without sin shall cast the first stone at thee.
M. I willingly obey so long as that rule is observed. The pre-eminence of those sitting at the exchequer consists in many things. For whether they who sit there by his mandate are of the clergy or of the curia regis,—from the day on which they come together, up to the general departure, they are not called to any other cases under any judges whatever; and if, by chance, they shall have been summoned, they are excused by reason of their public function. But if those who sit there are the accusers and not the accused, and have suits elsewhere,—it shall be at their option either to have the case tried by a procurator, or to postpone the day without any detriment to their rights. But if the judge under whom their case is being tried, whether he be ecclesiastical or lay, being ignorant of this law, shall, after the already mentioned day of convocation to the exchequer, have cited any one of them, and shall, perhaps, by a judgment have despoiled the absent one of his possession or of some right,—by authority of the prince and by reason of the session, his case shall be recalled to that state in which it was before the citation. But the judge has not, on this account, merited punishment; for he has followed out what belonged to his duty; although,, by reason of the public function, it does not take effect. But if he shall have been so cited that the decisive day, fixed for him and determined by the law, shall come before the day of the convocation to the exchequer, he shall not be able to excuse himself on that account, or to evade the sentence of the judge, or to make it vain when declared against him; even though the one day be so near to the other that he be compelled to start on his journey. He shall, in that case, obtain for himself a procurator or sponsor, and shall himself, bent on the king's business, without guile, hasten to the court. The barons, moreover, who sit at the exchequer shall pay nothing under the name of customs for the victuals of their household bought in the cities and burroughs and ports. But if an officer of the revenues shall have compelled one of them to pay anything for these,—if only one of his servants is present who is willing to prove by taking an oath that the things have been bought for his master's use: to the baron, indeed, the money exacted shall be restored entire, and the scoundrel of a collector shall pay a pecuniary punishment according to the quality of the person. Likewise if any one, even if great in the kingdom, shall, with inconsiderate heat of mind, injure any one who sits at the exchequer, through taunts or insults,—an excess of this kind shall, if the president himself is present, at once receive a vindicating pecuniary punishment. But in the president's absence if the man constantly denies the injury done and those sitting there call out that he has said what he is charged with, he shall nevertheless straightway be judged guilty to the extent of a fine to the king whom he serves, unless he hastens to anticipate judgment by begging mercy. But if those who sit at the exchequer shall have mutually molested each other with any sort of contumelious attack, they shall make peace again; the others of their rank who serve with them acting as mediators, in such wise that satisfaction shall be rendered by him who, in their estimation, has injured an innocent person. But if he be unwilling to acquiesce, but rather persevere in his rashness, the matter shall be laid before the president; and afterwards, from him each one shall receive justice. But if, through the devil, the instigator of evil, who does not look with unmoved eyes on the joyous happiness of fraternal pace, it should happen that occasion for discord should come up among the greater officials themselves; and thence—which God forbid—a war of insults should arise; and, Satan adding goads, peace can not he restored by the other colleagues in those labours:—the knowledge of all these things shall be reserved for the prince himself; who, according as God, in whose hand it is, inspires his heart, shall punish the offence; lest those who are set over others should seem to be able to do with impunity what they decree should be punished in others.
D. From this is manifest what Solomon says: " death and life are in the power of the tongue," and likewise James; " the tongue is a little member and boasteth great things."
M. So it is; but let us proceed concerning the prerogatives. Common assessments are held at times, throughout the counties, by itinerant justices whom we call deambulatory or wandering judges; the assessments are called common because, when the sum is known which is required in common from those who have estates in the county, it is distributed according to the hides of land, so that when the time comes for payment at the exchequer, nothing of it is lacking. From all these payments all those who, by mandate of the king, sit at the exchequer are entirely free, so that not only are none of them exacted from their domains, but also none from all their fiefs. If, however, one who sits there has an estate either in farm or in custody, or also as a pledge for money, he shall not be exempt, but rather more subject for these to the common law. In addition to and besides these exemptions, moreover, he shall be free at the exchequer from murder-fines, scutages and Danegeld. Moreover what pertains to him shall be deducted from the fixed total, and shall be placed to the account of the sheriff in these words: "remitted by writ of the king, to him or him this or that sum"; although, in fact, he has no writ of the king concerning this. Moreover he to whom anything has been remitted by the prince must see to it lest afterwards he require, from those in turn subject to him, the amount which has been remitted; he had the rather better be mindful of that word, "forgive and be forgiven "; for if this shall have been found out, the prince, emulating the teaching of the Gospel, will neither let him go nor forgive his debt, but perhaps will punish him a hundred fold; for he is seen to abuse the favour bestowed on him, when he irreverently exacts from others what has been freely forgiven to himself.
D. It has been said, if I remember aright, that whoever, by precept of the king, sits at the exchequer is free, by reason of his sitting there, from certain things determined by the law. It was added also, if I recollect well, that the exchequer sits at the Easter term; that, however, the things that are done then are not entirely terminated, but that their consummation is reserved for the Michaelmas term. Since, now, it is possible, nay, frequently happens, that some one by mandate of the king is called to it at the Easter term, who at the Michaelmas term has either paid his debt to fate, or is transferred by order of the king to other business of the realm, or, what seems more weighty with some, having in the meantime become hateful to the king, is judged unworthy to perform such important duties: I ask does he who is quit at the Easter term, in which few things are terminated but all things renewed by repeating the summons,—does such a one deserve to be absolved at the Michaelmas term, even when he has ceased to deserve his seat at the exchequer and the favour itself of his prince?
M. Probably an abundance of reasons can be found for taking either side of this question; but know that the choice of the royal munificence, after the favour of absolution has once been indulged, is always, even with pecuniary loss, more prone to the better part: indeed, the principle of the gifts and of the remissions of the king is the same, that just as his gifts cannot be recalled or re-demanded, so also the acquittals of the king, which are commonly called pardons, can not be invalidated. He therefore is free and absolved at the term of consummation who in any way merited to be absolved at the preceding one.
D. Some things which have been said give me concern. First, that thou dost say that anything is remitted to any one under this tenor of words: "in pardons by writ of the king, to him or him, this or that," when, nevertheless, he has obtained no writ of remission from the king. For how it can happen that such writing of the roll is not found to be false, I do not see.
M. It gives thee concern not without cause; for it has long concerned me; and, as I believe, the reason of thus writing is not yet clear to all; wherefore, although it is no great matter that thou askest about, nevertheless it is unusual and does seem absurd that that is said to be remitted by writ of the king, which is always to be remitted without a writ. For which reason I once attacked on this very matter the bishop of Ely, as the man most skilled in this branch—blessed be his memory for ever. He, the illustrious treasurer of that king of the English, Henry I., and the nephew of him of Salisbury whom we mentioned above, had a knowledge of the exchequer incomparable in his time: for being supreme in those things which pertained to the dignity of his standing, he made the fame of his name wide-spread; so that almost alone in the kingdom he so lived and died that no envious tongue dares to blacken his glory. He, moreover, being frequently requested by the illustrious king, Henry the Second, reformed the knowledge of the exchequer which, the time of warfare having lasted for many years, had almost entirely died out; and, like another Esdras, sedulous restorer of the Bible, renewed the form of its whole arrangement. The prudent man, indeed, thought it better to mark down for posterity the laws constituted by the ancients, rather than, by his silence, to bring it about that new ones should be made. For modern times, in the matter of gaining money, have scarcely dictated laws gentler than the former ones. From him, therefore, in this matter, this is the kind of answer I received; " brother, he who has ears eager to hear, easily finds the tongue of a detractor; even he who has them not, will not easily escape the same. It was thus that there came to king Henry I. a certain man having the tongue of a sequent, saying to him: ' your barons who sit at the exchequer, why do they not pay the dues that arise from their lands? For some have fixed payments at the exchequer for sitting there; some also, on account of their office, have estates and their fruits; hence, therefore, a heavy loss falls on the fisc." When, therefore, he, urging the gain that it would be to the prince, repeatedly returned to the attack, these words at length possessed the latter' s mind to such an extent, that he ordered all the established dues to be paid by all and to be remitted to no one, unless someone should have obtained from him an express mandate concerning this: and it was done accordingly. But as time went on, when the prince remembered the counsel of Achitopel, he repented of having acquiesced. He decreed, therefore, that all the aforesaid payments should be computed to those who served there, considering the loss of a small sum of money as nothing in comparison with the great honour gained. And so he despatched his writ to the exchequer, to the effect that those sitting there should, by a perpetual law, be free from these payments. From this writ, therefore, it was said then and is said now, " remitted by the king's writ "; and so it came about that what was granted to the fathers should even now continue in the case of their posterity. We remember ourselves in modern times to have seen a similar payment to this, which, after all this time was computed to those who deserved to be absolved under a similar tenor of words. For our lord king Henry II., at the Michaelmas term of the 24th year of his reign, ordered that the knights of the Temple, and the brothers Hospitallers, and the monks of the Cistercian order, to whom, by the privileges in their charter, he had long since indulged quittance of all things pertaining to money—jurisdiction over life and members being excepted,—should really now be quit of all things pertaining to money throughout the different counties; so that henceforth they should not be compelled to bring their charters to the exchequer. And the authority of the royal piety decreed this—that thus once for all, in the consideration of the barons they should be freed of all these things lest those who have gone over to the enjoyment of a better life, and are obliged the more to have freedom for prayer, should be compelled for such a cause to make a tedious and useless delay with their charters at the exchequer. By the counsel, therefore, and the deliberation of the barons who were present, a writ of the lord king was drawn up under this tenor: "I quit claim the knights of the Temple of five marks which are exacted from their vassals for default, and I prohibit that now from them or their vassals or their lands anything be exacted or received which pertains to money. These being witnesses, there." And in like manner as to the brothers Hospitallers and to the aforesaid monks. By the authority of this mandate, therefore, they will henceforth be quit, throughout the several counties of all things which pertain to money: so that that which we mentioned above may rightly be spoken of in the yearly roll as " remitted by writ of the king."
D. I have understood very well what has been said. Now, if it please thee, do not delay to make clear what are scutage, murdrum and Danegeld. They seem, indeed, to be something barbarous; but they concern me the more for the reason that, as thou sayest, those who minister at the exchequer are free from them.
IX. What Scutage is, and why it is so called.
It happens sometimes that, when the machinations of enemies threaten or attack the kingdom, the king decrees that, from the different knights' fees, a certain sum shall be paid,—a mark, namely, or a pound; and from this come the payments or gifts to the soldiers. For the prince prefers to expose mercenaries, rather than natives to the fortunes of war. And so this sum, which is paid in the name of the shields, is called scutage. From this, moreover, they who sit at the exchequer are quit.
X. What Murder is, and why so called.
Murder (murdrum), indeed, is properly called the secret death of somebody, whose slayer is not known. For "murdrum" means the same as "hidden" or " occult."
Now in the primitive state of the kingdom after the Conquest those who were left of the Anglo-Saxon subjects secretly laid ambushes for the suspected and hated race of the Normans, and, here and there, when opportunity offered, killed them secretly in the woods and in remote places: as vengeance for whom—when the kings and their ministers had for some years, with exquisite kinds of tortures, raged against the Anglo-Saxons; and they, nevertheless, had not, in consequence of these measures, altogether desisted,—the following plan was hit upon, that the so called " hundred," in which a Norman was found killed in this way—when he who had caused his death was not to be found, and it did not appear from his flight who he was—should be condemned to a large sum of tested silver for the fisc; some, indeed, to 36, some to 44£, according to the different localities and the frequency of the slaying. And they say that this is done with the following end in view, namely, that a general penalty of this kind might make it safe for the passers by,—and that each person might hasten to punish so great a crime and to give up to justice him through whom so enormous a loss fell on the whole neighbourhood. Know that from such payments, as we have said, those who sit at the exchequer are free.
D. Ought not the occult death of an Anglo-Saxon, like that of a Norman, to be reputed murder?
M. By the original institution it ought not to, as thou hast heard: but during the time that the English and Normans have now dwelt together, and mutually married and given in marriage, the nations have become so intermingled that one can hardly tell to-day—I speak of freemen—who is of English and who of Norman race; exceptiiig, however, the bondsmen who are called " villani," to whom it is not free, if their lords object, to depart from the condition of their station. On this account almost always when any one is found thus slain to-day, it is punished as murder; except in the case of those who show certain proofs, as we have said, of a servile condition.
D. I wonder that this prince of singular excellence, and this man of most distinguished virtue, should have shown such mercy towaixls the race of the English, subjugated and suspected by him, that not only did he keep the serfs by whom agriculture could be exercised, from harm, but left even to the nobles of the kingdom their estates and ample possessions.
M. Although these things do not pertain to the matters undertaken and concerning which I have bound myself, I will nevertheless freely expound what I have heard on these matters from the natives themselves. After the conquest of the kingdom, after the just overthrow of the rebels, "when the king himself and the king's nobles went over the new places, a diligent inquiry was made as to who there were who, contending in war against the king had saved themselves through flight. To all of these, and even to the heirs of those who had fallen in battle, all hope of the lands and estates and revenues which they had before possessed was precluded: for it was thought much for them even to enjoy the privilege of being alive under their enemies. But those who, having been called to the war, had not yet come together, or, occupied with family or any kind of necessary affairs had not been present,—when, in course of time, by their devoted service they had gained the favour of their lords, they began to have possessions for themselves alone; without hope of hereditary possession, but according to the pleasure of their lords. But as time went on, when, becoming hateful to their masters, they were here and there driven from their possessions, and there was no one to restore what had been taken away,—a common complaint of the natives came to the king to the effect that, thus hateful to all and despoiled of their property, they would be compelled to cross to foreign lands. Counsel at length having been taken on these matters, it was decided that what, their merits demanding, a legal pact having been entered into, they had been able to obtain from their masters, should be conceded to them by inviolable right: but that, however, they should claim nothing for themselves by right of heredity from the time of the conquest of the race. And it is manifest with what discreet consideration this provision was made, especially since they would thus be bound to consult their own advantage in every way, and to strive henceforth by devoted service to gain the favour of their lords. So, therefore, whoever, belonging to the conquered race, possesses estates or any thing of the kind,—he has acquired them, not because they seemed to be due to him by reason of heredity, but because his merits alone demanding, or some pact intervening, he has obtained them.
D. I do not exactly know what is a " centuriata " or hundred.
M. Wait a little; thou wilt know later in its proper place; that is, in the chapter on the Domesday book. Now let us proceed concerning Danegeld, and pay a little attention, so that the reason of this name may be clear to thee.
XI. What is Danegeld, and why so called.
Our island, content with its own, does not need the goods of the stranger; Therefore, with very good right, our predecessors have called it. Truly the lap of riches; the line, too, of every delight. On account of this she has suffered innumerable injuries from outsiders; for it is written: " marked jewels attract the thief." For the robbers of the surrounding islands, making an irruption and depopulating the shores, carried off gold and silver and all sorts of precious things. But when the king and the natives, drawn up in warlike array, pressed on in defence of their race, they betook themselves to flight by sea. Now among these robbers almost the first, and always the most ready to do harm, was that warlike and numerous race of the Danes; who, besides possessing the common avarice of plunderers, pressed on the more eagerly because they claimed, of ancient right, some part in the domination of that kingdom, as the history of the Britons more fully relates. In order, therefore, to ward these oft", it was decreed by the English kings that, from each "hide" of the kingdom, by a certain perpetual right, two shillings of silver should be paid for the use of the brave men who, patrolling and carefully watching the shores, kept off the attack of the enemy. Therefore, since principally on account of the Danes this revenue was instituted, it is called "Danegeldum" or "Danegeldus." This, therefore, under the native kings, was paid yearly, as has been said, until the time of king William I. of the race and people of the Normans. For in his day the Danes as well as the other robbers by land and by sea restrained their hostile attacks, knowing to be true that which is written, " when a strong man armed keepeth his palace his possessions are in peace." For they also knew, indeed, that men of surpassing valour do not suffer injuries to go unpunished. When, therefore, the land had long been quiet under the rule of this king, he became unwilling that that should be paid as a yearly tax which had been exacted by the urgent necessity of a time of war; nor yet, however, on account of unforeseen cases, did he wish it to be entirely omitted. It was occasionally paid, therefore, in his time and in that of his successor: that is, when, from outside nations, wars or rumours of wars arose. But whenever it is paid, those who sit at the exchequer, are free from it, as has been said. The sheriffs too, although they are not counted under the barons of the exchequer, are quit of this for their domains on account of the labour of collecting the tax. Know, moreover, that the domains of any one are called those which are cultivated at his own expense or labour, and likewise those which are possessed by his serfs in his name. For the serfs, according to the law of the kingdom, not only may be transferred by their lords from those places which they now possess to others; but they themselves also are sold or sundered in every possible way; with right they themselves, as well as the lands which they cultivate in order to serve their masters, are considered domains. Likewise it is said by those to whom the ancient dignity of the exchequer was known from what they had seen with their own eyes, that its barons are free, for their domains, of essarts (clearancefines) of the forests. With whom we also agree; adding the reservation, that they may be called quit of those essarts which had been made before the day on which the illustrious king Henry I. bade farewell to human affairs. For if they were quit of all, whenever made or to be made, the barons would seem to be free with impunity, according to their own will and judgment, to cut down their woods, in which the royal forest consists; which they can, in fact, by no means do with impunity, unless the consent of the king or of the chief forester has first been gained. Nay, those who have their domicile in the forest may not take from their own woods what they want for the necessary uses of their homes, unless by view of those who are deputed to guard the forest. But there are many who wish to prove by their arguments that no one, by reason of his seat at the exchequer, is free from these essarts. If any one at all of those sitting there should, by any misfortune, commit a fault against the king for which he would merit to be punished with a pecuniary fine, he would not be freed from that punishment except by special mandate of the king. Since, therefore, a clearance is a fault committed against the forest of the king, he who thus errs and on this account receives a penalty, ought not, as they say, to be acquitted unless by express mandate of the king. Now although this reasoning is subtle and seems to some almost sufficient, it is to be said, in objection to it, that the penalty for clearance is fixed and common to those who err in this way; so that, namely, for the clearance of one acre of wheat laud one shilling is paid; but for an acre in which oats are sown, six pence, by a perpetual law. Moreover from these items a certain total sum arises, for which the sheriff: is compelled to account to the exchequer; just as from the established two shillings or one from the different "hides," one sum arises which is called the common assessment. Since, therefore, in these respects, the essart has an express similitude with the common assessment, as has been said, it would seem as if the barons, not without justice, should be considered quit from the essarts, just as from the other common assessments. Likewise the authority, not to be despised, of custom and long usage is against them (the cavillers). For those whose memory is hoary call to mind that it was so in past times. I myself, who speak with thee, have, in modern times, looked upon Robert, earl of Leicester, a discreet man, learned in letters and versed in matters of the law. He, while having an inborn virtue of mind, became also an emulator of his father's prudence: his industry examined into many matters under our prince Henry the Second, whom neither fictitious prudence nor dissimulated folly deceives; so that, by the king's order, not only at the exchequer did Robert obtain the dignity of president, but also throughout the whole kingdom. He once, when the visitation of the forests which they commonly call the "view" (reguarda), and which takes place every third year, was at hand, obtained a writ of the king to the effect that he should be quit of whatever might be demanded from his land for essarts, the sum being stated to which these amounted: and when this writ was brought and publicly read before the exchequer, all were amazed and wondered, saying: "does not this earl invalidate our privileges?" And while those who sat there mutually regarded each other, Nigel of blessed memory, the whilom bishop of Ely, began, speaking thus with modesty: "My lord earl, thou dost seem to have invalidated, by this writ, the prerogative of the exchequer, since thou hast obtained a mandate of the king for those things from which thou, by reason of thy seat at the exchequer, art free; and if one may logically draw an inference by deduction from the major term, whoever does not obtain a writ of the king concerning his essarts, will soon become answerable for their payment; but, with all due reverence, this mode of absolution is pernicious on account of the example it sets." When, therefore, as happens in doubtful cases, some were of one opinion, others of another, there was brought in, as a valid argument in this matter, the yearly (pipe) roll of the time of that great king of whom we spoke above, under whom the dignity and the knowledge of the exchequer are said to have flourished in a high degree; and something was found which seemed to justify the bishop who made the assertion concerning the prerogative of those sitting there. Having heard these things, the earl, after deliberating a little with himself, said: I confess that in this matter I obtained a writ of the king, not that I might invalidate your right, but that thus, without trouble, I might avoid the too importunate exaction—unknown, however, to the king—of the collectors. Abandoning his writ, therefore, he chose to be absolved on account of the prerogative of his seat. Some time after, when the aforesaid bishop, detained by infirmity could not be present, and I myself supplied, as well as I could, his place at the exchequer, it happened that essarts were paid; when, therefore, what had been exacted from his domain had been paid, I complained publicly, alleging the right of exemption. By the common counsel and verdict of all, therefore, the sum which had been already paid was restored to me. Reserving, therefore, what had been raised from his domain, I restored to his serfs, in its entirety, what had been exacted from each one, so that the memory might survive and be witness in this matter.
D. With all due reverence, one should not use examples but reasons in these matters.
M. That is so; but it happens, at times, that the causes of things and the reasons of sayings are secret, and then it suffices to bring up examples relating to them; especially if they are taken from the cases of prudent men, whose deeds are circumspect and are not done without reason. But whatever we have said about these things, taking part for this privilege or against it, thou may'st be sure that in this matter we have called nothing certain, unless what the authority of the king decreed should be observed. But the account of the forests and also the punishment or absolution of those who transgress with regard to them, whether it be a pecuniary or a corporal one, is kept separate from the other judgments of the kingdom, and is subjected to the will of the king alone or to that of some one of his intimates specially deputed for this purpose. It subsists by its own laws, which, they say, are not subject to the common law of the kingdom, but to the voluntary decree of the princes; so that whatever has been done according to its law may be said to be not absolutely just, but just according to the law of the forest. The forests, moreover, are the sanctuaries of kings and their greatest delight; thither they go for the sake of hunting, having laid aside their cares for a while, so that they may be refreshed by a short rest. There, the serious, and at the same time natural uproars of the court having ceased, they breathe in for a while the boon of pure liberty; whence it comes that they who transgress with regard to the forest are subject to the royal displeasure alone.
D. From my earliest youth I have learned that it is wrong for a prudent person to prefer to suffer ignorance rather than to demand the causes of things that have been said; in order, therefore, that the foregoing may more fully be made clear, do not put off revealing what a forest is, and what an essart.
XII. What is the Forest of the King, and what the reason of this name.
M. The forest of the king is the safe dwelling-place of wild beasts; not of every kind, but of the kinds that live in woods; not in all places, but in fixed ones, and ones suitable for the purpose; whence it is called "foresta," the "e" being changed into " o," as if it were "feresta"—i.e., an abiding place for wild beasts.
D. Is there a forest of the king in each county?
M. No; but only in the wooded ones, where the wild beasts can have their lairs and ripe nourishment: nor does it matter to whom the woods belong, whether to the king, or to the nobles of the kingdom,—the wild beasts can none the less run around everywhere free and unharmed.
XIII. What is an Essart and why so called.
Essarts are commonly called what are named "occationes" in the works of Isidor; that is, when any groves or thickets in the forest, which are fit for pasture and for lairs, are cut down; after which same cutting down and tearing up by the roots, the land is dug up and cultivated. But if groves are so cut that anyone standing still, leaning against the remaining stump of an oak, or any other tree that has been cut down, shall, on looking round, perceive five that have been cut down, they consider this a wilderness (vastum)—that is, a place laid waste (vastatum)—so called by syncope. Such an excess, moreover, even if committed in one's own groves, is considered so grave that a man may never be acquitted of it by reason of his seat at the exchequer; but he ought rather to be pecuniarily punished according to the power of solvency of his rank. Thus far I have expounded, to some extent figuratively, what succint brevity has permitted, and what has at short notice offered itself to my mind, concerning the dignities of those sitting at the exchequer. But in these matters I have constituted for the munificence of the kings no bounds of which they may not overstep; they are all inclined, moreover, on account of the grace entrusted to them to promote the glory of their prerogative, especially those who are truly wise. But he most of mundane princes, the very great and illustrious king of the English, Henry the Second, strives always to increase the dignities of those serving under him; knowing for certain that benefits bestowed on his followers purchase, with titles of immortal fame, the glory of his name. Now then, let us turn our flowing pen to other things.
D. It is in order, if I mistake not, as I seem to have gathered from the foregoing, that thou should'st proceed concerning the king's seal and the doomsday book, of which the first, if I remember aright, is kept in the treasury and not allowed to leave it.
M. Nay, both of them, and also very many other things.
XIV. That " Thesaurus" sometimes means the money itself; sometimes the place where it is kept.
Know, moreover, that " thesaurus " sometimes means the money in cash itself, as well as gold or silver vessels of different kinds, and changes of vestments. According to this acceptation it is said, "where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also." For "thesaurus" is called the place in which it reposes, therefore "thesaurus" = "auri thesis," namely, the place of gold. So that if one asks about some one where he is, it may not incongruously be replied: " he is in the ' thesaurus,' "that is, in the place where the "thesaurus" is kept. Cash money, indeed, or the other things mentioned, having once been put in a safe place, are not taken away except when, by mandate of the king, they are sent to him to be distributed for his necessary uses. But there are many things in the repository vaults of the treasury which are carried around, and they are shut up and guarded by the treasurer and the chamberlains, as has been more fully shown above: such are the seal of the king concerning which thou dost ask, the doomsday book, the so-called exactory roll, which some name the writ of farms. Likewise the great yearly (pipe) rolls, the rolls of accounts, a numerous multitude of privileges, counter-tallies of receipts, and rolls of receipts, and writs of the king concerning outlays of the treasury. and many other things "which, when the exchequer is in session, are necessary to its daily uses.
XV. What use is made of the Royal Seal which is in the Treasury.
What ought to be the use of the royal seal is clear from the foregoing: for with it are sealed the summonses that are made out, and the other mandates which pertain solely to the exchequer of the king; nor is it carried elsewhere; but, as has been said above, is guarded by the chancellor through a representative. It has, moreover, stamped upon it, exactly the same image and inscription as the deambulatory seal of the court, so that both may be known to have the same authority of commanding, and that he who acts counter may be similarly judged guilty according to the one or the other. Then that book about which thou dost ask is the inseparable companion of the royal seal in the treasury. From Henry, formerly bishop of Winchester, I have heard as follows the cause of this institution.
XVI. What is the Doomsday Book, and for what purpose composed.
When that distinguished conqueror of England, a relative by blood of this same prelate, had subdued the utmost limits of the island to his rule, and had tamed the minds of the rebels by examples of terrible things,—he decreed, lest a free opportunity of erring should again be given, that the people subject to him should submit to written custom and laws. The Englsh laws, therefore, being laid before him according to their triple distinction, that is, Mercian law, Dane law, and West Saxon law, — some he rejected; others, moreover, approving, he added to them the transmarine laws of Neustria which seemed most efficacious for protecting the peace of the kingdom. At length, lest anything should seem to be wanting to the sum of all his forethought, having taken counsel, he despatched from his side the most discreet men in circuit throughout the kingdom. By these men, in this way, a diligent description of the whole land was made with regard to its woods as well as its pastures and meadows, also its agriculture; and this description having been noted down in common words, it was collected into a book; in order, namely, that each one, content with his own right, should not with impunity usurp that of another. Moreover the survey is made by counties, by hundreds and by hides,—the name of the king being marked at the very head, and then, in turn, the names of the other lords being placed according to the dignity of their standing; that is to say, those who are tenants in chief of the king. Moreover against the separate names thus arranged in order are placed numbers by means of which, below, in the course of the book itself, whatever concerns these persons is more easily found. This book is called by the natives Domesday; that is, by metaphor, the day of judgment; for just as a sentence of that strict and terrible last trial cannot possibly be eluded by any art of tergiversation: so when, in the kingdom, contention shall arise concerning those things that are there noted,—when the book is appealed to its sentence can not be scorned or avoided with impunity. On this account we have named this book the book of dooms; not that, in it, a sentence is given concerning any doubtful matters that come up, but that from it, as from a judgment that has been given, it is not allowed in any way to depart.
D. If it please thee, explain what is a county, what a hundred, what a hide; otherwise the things that have been said will not be clear.
XVII. What is a Hide, what a Hundred, what a County, according to the common opinion.
M. The country people know this better; but, as we have heard from them, a hide, from its primitive institution, consists of a hundred acres: but a hundred, of several hundred hides—the number not being a fixed one, however; for one consists of many, another of fewer hides. Hence thou wilt frequently find that, in the old privileges of the Anglo-Saxon kings, a hundred (hundredus) is frequently called a centuriate (centuriata). The county, moreover, consists in like manner of hundreds; that is, some of more, some of less, according as the land has been divided by discreet men. The county, then, is called from the count, or the count from the county. It is the count, moreover, "who receives the third portion of what comes from the pleas in each county. For that sum, which, under the name of a farm, is required from the sheriff, does not all arise from the revenues of estates, but in great part from pleas; and of these the count (comes) receives the third part; he is therefore said to be so called because he shares with the fisc, and is a companion (comes), in receiving. Then the sheriff (vice-comes) is so called because he supplies the place of the count in those pleas in which the count shares by reason of his dignity.
D. Do the counts receive those payments from each and all the counties?
M. By no means: those alone receive them whom the munificence of the kings, in view of service rendered, or of. distinguished probity, has made counts, and on whom this same munificence has decided, by reason of this dignity, to confer them; on some as hereditary, on others for their own persons only.
XVIII. What is the Exactory Roll.
The exactory roll is that in which, distinctly and diligently enough, are marked the farms of the king which arise from the separate counties, and the sum of which may not, indeed, be diminished, but is frequently increased by the laborious diligence of the justice. The reason of the remaining rolls, such as the yearly one and the others which we mentioned above, which are in the treasury and do not leave it, is clear enough from the foregoing. It remains, therefore, for us to turn to the greater and more necessary institutions of the exchequer, in which, as has been said, consists the more excellent, the more useful, and from many the more occult knowledge of the exchequer.
- The meaning of this passage is obscure. The Latin reads: "Ex qua vero parte millenarius inciditur, alium non pones nunierum; nisi forte mediam ejus partem; sic ut mediam similiter incisionis ejus demas, et infra constituas."
- Richard of Winchester.
- This is a play upon words. The name of the distinguished man in question was Roger the Poor (le Poer). He was the grand-uncle of the author of this present treatise.