11. f2013 Government and Court in 14th Century England
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Government and Law
Pyx Chamber - Treasury
The King and his household
• Queen• Chamberlain• Keeper of the Wardrobe
– Private finances– 1360s Came under oversight of Exchequer
King and public administration
• Privy Council– Often set up on request of Parliament– Assent of lords and bishops– Include Chancellor, Treasurer, Keeper of the Privy
Seal– Parliament ordered that they be paid; free of
interests in areas they regulate• Packing the Council
• Administrative: Control of appointments & removals– Attempt to regulate privy council
• Legislative• Judicial
King in Parliament
• ‘Mandated’ by Henry III• General case for Edward I• Edward II absent• Edward III generally present• Richard II present except when expressing
dissatisfaction with agenda
• Exercise of a quasi-royal prerogative• Separate administrative apparatus and courts
– Durham under a prince-bishop– Chester under the Earl of Chester– Lancaster under the Duke of Lancaster
Duchy of Lancaster
• 1262-66 Henry III confiscates land of rebels affiliated with Simon de Montfort
• 1267 Edmund Crouchback receives these lands and is made Earl of Lancaster
• 1322 Thomas, son of Edmund, executed for his role in Gaveston murder; brother, Henry succeeds
Duchy of Lancaster
• 1345 Henry Grosmont succeeds his father as Earl of Lancaster
• 1351 In recognition of his role in the war with France, Henry Grosmont made Duke of Lancaster– Lancaster made County Palatine for Henry’s
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
1361 Henry Grosmont dies without male heir– Ducal title becomes extinct; palatinate powers
reverted to King Edward III– Henry’s daughters receive land as dowry– 1359 Blanche marries John of Gaunt
1362 John of Gaunt made Duke of Lancaster1372 Palatinate recreated for John’s lifetime1390 Palatinate extended to John’s heirs
Trials by Parliament
1368 John Lee
1376 “Good Parliament” William Latimer and Richard Lyons
Accusations in Commons
Trial by Lords
1386 “Wonderful Parliament”Michael de la Pole
1376 Impeachment of William Latimer
– Issued licenses to evade the staple by exporters of wool
– Loans to the King 9may have come from King;s money)
– Abuse of Bretons leads to French capture
Proven. Fine of 20,000 marks and imprisonment; loss of positions
1376 Impeachment of Lyons
– Misuse of position to evade the staple– Appropriation of customs duties for himself– Usury; Purchase of Royal debts at a discount
and collecting full value from the Crown
Pardoned but not restored to office
A Chancery B King’s BenchC Common Pleas D ExchequerE Wards & Liveries
Court of Chancery
• Court of equity• Verbal contracts, land
law and matters of trusts• Loose rules of procedure• 12 clerks of first bench
w. at least 3 assistants
Court of Common Pleas
• Suits between two citizens
• Chancellors were judges under Edward III
1346 Judges were obliged to swear that "they would in no way accept gift or reward from any party in litigation before them or give advice to any man, great or small, in any action to which the King was a party himself"
1350 Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William de Thorpe, was sentenced to death for bribery (later pardoned, but demoted).
• Manorial courts• Justices of the peace
– Labor cases
Court of Exchequer
• Revenue cases
Court of King’s Bench
• Superseded traveling court
• Criminal trials• Appeals
A sergeant of the law, wary and wise
• Who'd often gone to Paul's walk to advise,
• There was also, compact of excellence.
• Discreet he was, and of great reverence;
• At least he seemed so, his words were so wise.
Often he sat as justice in assize, By patent or commission from the crown; Because of learning and his high renown, He took large fees and many robes could own. • Highest class of lawyers• Common pleas judges drawn from them
• Maritime law derived from Rolls of Oléron– Rights of masters and mariners; discipline– Rights of salvage– Piracy
• Disputed jurisdiction with Common Pleas
Case of the Hungry Pirates
The reeve he was a slender, choleric man
Well could he manage granary and bin; No auditor could ever on him win. He could foretell, by drought and by the rain, The yielding of his seed and of his grain. His lord's sheep and his oxen and his dairy, His swine and horses, all his stores, his poultry, Were wholly in this steward's managing;
A summoner was with us in that place,
Who had a fiery-red, cherubic face, For eczema he had; his eyes were narrow As hot he was, and lecherous, as a sparrow; With black and scabby brows and scanty beard;
No borax, ceruse, tartar, could discharge, Nor ointment that could cleanse enough, or bite, To free him of his boils and pimples white, Nor of the bosses resting on his cheeks. Well loved he garlic, onions, aye and leeks, And drinking of strong wine as red as blood. Then would he talk and shout as madman would.
And when a deal of wine he'd poured withinThen would. he utter no word save Latin. Some phrases had he learned, say two or three, Which he had garnered out of some decree; No wonder, for he'd heard it all the day; And all you know right well that even a jay Can call out "Wat" as well as can the pope.
A better comrade 'twould be hard to find. Why, he would suffer, for a quart of wine, Some good fellow to have his concubine A twelve-month, and excuse him to the full (Between ourselves, though, he could pluck a gull).
And if he chanced upon a good fellow, He would instruct him never to have awe, In such a case, of the archdeacon's curse, Except a man's soul lie within his purse; For in his purse the man should punished be. "The purse is the archdeacon's Hell," said he. But well I know he lied in what he said; A curse ought every guilty man to dread (For curse can kill, as absolution save),
With him there rode a gentle pardoner
His wallet lay before him in his lap, Stuffed full of pardons brought from Rome all hot. A voice he had that bleated like a goat. No beard had he, nor ever should he have, For smooth his face as he'd just had a shave; I think he was a gelding or a mare.
But in his craft, from Berwick unto Ware, Was no such pardoner in any place. For in his bag he had a pillowcase The which, he said, was Our True Lady's veil: He said he had a piece of the very sail That good Saint Peter had, what time he went Upon the sea, till Jesus changed his bent.
He had a latten cross set full of stones, And in a bottle had he some pig's bones. But with these relics, when he came upon Some simple parson, then this paragon In that one day more money stood to gain Than the poor dupe in two months could attain.