shall be in force from the time the assize was made at Clarendon
continuously to this time and from now on as long as it shall please
the lord king, in cases of murder and treason and arson and in all
of the aforesaid cases except in petty thefts and robberies which
have been committed in time of war, such as of horses, oxen and
2. Item let no one either in borough or vill entertain in his
house for more than one night any stranger for whom he refuses
to be responsible, unless the hospitality has a reasonable excuse,
which the master of the house shall declare to his neighbors.
And when he leaves, let him depart in the presence of the neigh-
bors and by day.
3. If any one has about him the fruits of murder or theft or
robbery or forgery and confesses it or any other felony which he
has committed, before the reeve of the hundred or borough and
before lawful men, he cannot afterwards deny that crime before
the justices. And likewise, if without such fruits in his possession,
he shall confess anything of the sort before them, in like manner
he cannot deny this before the justices.
4. Item if any freeholder dies let his heirs remain in such
seisin as their father had of his fee on the day of his death, and
let them have his chattels out of which they shall execute the will
of the deceased : and afterwards they shall seek out their lord and
pay him a relief and the other things which they ought to pay him
from their fee. And if the heir is under age the lord of the fee
shall receive his homage and may keep him in custody as long as
is his right. The other lords if there are several shall receive his
homage and he shall render to them what is right. And let the
wife of the deceased have her dowry and the portion of his chat-
tels which falls to her. And if the lord of the fee shall refuse the
22 English Constitutional Documents
heirs of the deceased the seisin of the said deceased which they
claim, the justices of the lord king shall thereupon cause recog-
nition to be made by twelve lawful men of what seisin the deceased
had of it on the day of his death : and according to the recognition,
restitution shall be made to his heirs. And if any one has done
contrary to this and has been convicted of it let him remain at the
5. Item the king's justices shall cause a recognition to be made
of dispossessions contrary to the Assize, since the lord king's com-
ing to England next after the peace made between him and the
king his son.
6. Item the justices shall receive oaths of fealty for the lord
king from the first Sunday after Easter to the first Sunday after
Pentecost from all, to wit, earls, barons, knights and freeholders,
and also villeins, who wish to remain in the realm. And who-
ever refuses to take the oath of fealty, shall be arrested as an
enemy of the lord king. The justices are also to give orders that
all those who have not yet paid homage and allegiance to the
lord king that, at a time which shall be named for them, they shall
come and pay homage and allegiance to the king as liege lord.
7. Item the justices shall determine all pleas and rights per-
taining to the lord king and to his crown, by writ of the lord king
or of those who shall be in his place, in the matter of a half a
knight's fee and under, unless the dispute is so great that it can-
not be settled without the lord king, or such as the justices shall
refer to him or to those who shall be in his place on account of
their uncertainty. They shall take care according to their ability
to act for the advantage of the lord king. They shall also hold
assize in the case of wicked robbers and evil-doers of the land,
in the counties through which they are about to go, which assize
is by the advice of the king his son and of his men.
8. Item the justices shall see to it that those castles which were
destroyed are completely destroyed and that those which ought
to be destroyed are leveled to the ground. And unless they shall
do this the lord king will have the judgment of his court upon
them as upon those who hold in contempt his commands.
9. Item the justices shall make inquisition with regard to
churches and lands and women who are in the gift of the lord
10. Item let the bailiffs of the lord king answer to the exchequer
both for the returns from the assize and for all their acquisitions
which they make in their bailiwicks ; those being excepted which
pertain to the office of sheriff.
Assize o Arms 23
11. Item the justices shall make inquisition concerning the
custody of castles both by whom and how much and where
service ought to be made and let them report to the lord
12. Item a thief when he is arrested shall be handed over to
the custody of the sheriff. And if the sheriff should be absent, he
shall be taken to the nearest warden of a castle and he shall guard
him till he delivers him to the sheriff.
13. Item the justices shall cause search to be made according
to the custom of the land for those who have fled from the king-
dom ; and unless they are willing to return within the set time
and stand trial in the court of the lord king, then let them be out-
lawed ; and let the names of the outlaws be reported at Easter
and at Michaelmas to the exchequer and from thence they shall
be sent to the lord king.
1 7. Assize of Arms
(1181. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 154. Translation by Editors. I Stubbs,632.)
A SSIZE concerning the bearing of arms in England.
*"V i. Let whoever holds a knight's fee have a coat of mail
and a helmet, a shield and a lance ; and let every knight have as
many coats of mail, and helmets, and shields, and lances as he
has knight's fees in his demesne [that is, not subinfeudated, or
held by knights under him],
2. Also, let every free layman who is worth sixteen marks in chat-
tels or in revenue have a coat of mail and a helmet and a shield and
a lance ; also, let every free layman who is worth ten marks in
chattels or revenue have a hauberk and a head-piece of iron and
3. Item let all burghers and the whole body of freemen have a
doublet of mail and a head-piece of iron and a lance.
4. Moreover let each one of them swear that before the feast of
Saint Hilary he will have these arms and that he will bear faith to
the lord king Henry, namely the son of the empress Matilda, and
that he will bear these arms in his service according to his order
and for the protection of the lord king and of his realm. And let
no one who has these arms sell them or pledge them or give them
away, or in any other manner alienate them, neither let a lord in
any manner take them away from his man, either by forfeiture, or
by gift or as a pledge, or in any other manner.
24 English Constitutional Documents
5. If any one having these arms shall die, let his arms remain
to his heir. But if the heir should be of such age that he could
not use the arms if there should be need let the one who has him
in custody likewise have the custody of his arms and let him find
a man who can use arms in the service of the lord king until the
heir is of such age that he can bear arms, and then let him have
6. Let every burgher who has more arms than he need have
according to this assize sell them or give them away or otherwise
alienate them to such a man as will keep them in the service of
the lord king of England. And let none of them keep more
arms than he is required to have according to this assize.
7. Item let no Jew keep a coat of mail or a hauberk in his
possession, but let him sell it or give it away or otherwise dispose
of it so that it shall remain in the service of the king.
8. Item let no one carry arms out of England except by the
order of the lord king ; neither let any one sell arms to any one
who will carry them out of England.
9. Item let the justices cause oaths to be taken by lawful
knights or other free and lawful men of the hundred or borough
as many as they shall see fit, who shall have the value of chattels
which makes it necessary for him to have a coat of mail and a
helmet and a lance and a shield according as has been said ; to
wit, that one by one they will name to them all from their hun-
dreds and neighborhoods and boroughs who have sixteen marks
either in chattels or in revenue, and likewise those who have ten
marks. And afterwards let the justices cause all those jurors and
others to be registered ; who have such an amount of chattels and
revenues and what arms each ought to have according to the value
of chattels or revenues, and afterwards in their presence, in the
hearing of all those persons, let them cause that this assize con-
cerning the having of arms be read and that they swear that they
will have these arms according to the aforesaid value of chattels or
revenue, and that they will hold them at the service of the lord king
according to this said assize at the command and for the protection
of the lord king Henry and of his realm. If indeed it should happen
that any of those who ought to have these arms are not in the
county at the time when the justices shall be in that county, the
justices shall fix for him a time in another county, in their pres-
ence. And if he shall not have come to them in any county
through which they shall go and he has not been in this land, a
time shall be appointed for him at Westminster in the octaves of
Saint Michael, that he shall be there to make his oath, as he values
Assize of the Forest or of Woodstock 25
his life and property. And let it be commanded him that before
the feast of the said Saint Hilary, he shall have arms according as
it is required of him.
10. Item let the justices cause to be proclaimed throughout all
the counties through which they shall go, that whoever has not
these arms according as is aforesaid, the lord king shall have
recourse to their persons and not at all to their land or chattels.
11. Item let no one swear concerning lawful and free men, who
has not sixteen marks or ten marks in chattels.
12. Item let the justices order throughout all the counties that
no one, as he values his life and property, shall buy or sell any ship
to be taken away from England, and that no one shall export or
cause to be exported from England, timber. And the king com-
mands that no one shall be received for the oath of arms except a
1 8. Assize of the Forest or of Woodstock
(1184. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 157. Translation by Editors. I Stubbs, 527.)
HERE begins the assize of the Forest of the lord Henry the
This is the assize of lord Henry the king, the son of Matilda, in
England, concerning the forest and his venison, by the advice and
assent of the archbishops, bishops and barons, earls and nobles of
England, at Woodstock.
i. First he forbids that any one shall offend in regard to his veni-
son or his forests in any respect : and he wills that no trust shall
be put in the fact that hitherto he has had mercy because of their
chattels upon those who had offended in regard to his venison and
his forests. For if any one hereafter shall offend and be convicted
thereof, he wills that full justice be exacted as was done in the time
of king Henry his grandfather.
2. Item he forbids that any one shall have bows or arrows, or
hounds, or harriers in his forests unless he shall have as his war-
rantor the king or some one else who has the power to act as
3. Item he forbids that any one shall give or sell anything to
the wasting or destruction of his woods which are within the
forest of king Henry : he grants fully that they may take from
their woods what shall be necessary for them (i.e. firewood), with-
out wasting, and this at the view of the royal forester.
26 English Constitutional Documents
4. Item he orders that all those who have woods within the
bounds of the royal forest, shall place suitable foresters in their
woods, for which foresters let those to whom the woods belong
be sureties or find suitable sureties who can give redress if the
foresters offend in regard to anything which pertains to the lord
king. ' And those who, without the bounds of the forest visitation,
have woods in which the venison of the lord king has peace [i.e.
is under the protection of the law] shall have no forester unless
they have sworn to the assize of the lord king, and to the peace
of his venison, and to have some guardian for the keeping of his
5. Item the lord king orders that his foresters shall take care
concerning the forests of knights and others who have woods
within the bounds of the royal forest, that the woods be not
destroyed ; for if in spite of this they shall have been destroyed,
let those whose woods have been destroyed know well that redress
will be exacted from their persons or their lands and not from
6. Item the lord king orders that all his foresters shall swear
that according to their ability they will hold the assize of his for-
ests as he made it ; and that they will not annoy knights or other
worthy men concerning anything which the lord king has granted
to them in regard to their woods.
7. Item the king orders that in every county in which he has
venison, twelve knights shall be appointed for guarding his vert
and venison with the forest ; and that four knights shall be ap-
pointed to agist his woods and to receive and keep his pasture
rents ; and the king forbids that any one shall agist his woods
within the bounds of the forest before the king's own woods have
been agisted, and the lord king's period for agisting the forest
shall begin fifteen days before Michaelmas and shall last fifteen
days after Michaelmas.
8. And the king orders that if his forester shall have demesne
woods of the lord king in his custody, and those woods shall have
been destroyed, and he can neither give nor allege a good reason
for the destruction of the woods, the person of the forester himself
and not something else shall be seized.
9. Item the king forbids that any clerk shall offend in regard
to his venison or his forests : he especially orders his foresters that
if they find them offending, they shall not hesitate to lay hands
upon them to seise and arrest them, and the king himself will fully
io. Item the king orders that his essarts new and old shall be
Ordinance of the Saladin Tithe
inspected [every third year], and his purprestures and wastes of the
forest and that each be recorded by itself.
11. Item the king orders that the [archbishops, bishops] earls
and barons and knights and freeholders and all men shall come
at the summons of his master forester if they wish to avoid being
at the mercy of the lord king, to try the forest pleas of the lord
king and to transact his other business in county court.
12. At Woodstock the king orders that from whoever has
offended in regard to his forests for the first time, good sureties
shall be taken ; and if he shall offend a second time, likewise ; but
if he shall offend a third time, for the third offence no other sureties
shall be taken from him, nor anything else except the very person
of the offender.
[13. Item he orders that every man of twelve years of age,
remaining within the hunting reserve, and clerks holding a lay fief
shall take oath to keep his peace.
14. Item he orders that the lawing of mastiffs shall be per-
formed wherever his wild animals have peace or are accustomed
to have it.
15. Item he orders that no tanner or bleacher of hides shall
dwell in his forests outside of a borough.
1 6. Item the king orders that no one for the future shall chase
in any manner to capture wild animals by night within or without
the forest, wherever his wild animals frequent or are accustomed
to have peace, under penalty of imprisonment for one year and
of paying a fine or ransom at the king's pleasure, and that no one,
under the same penalty, shall make any obstruction living or dead
against his wild animals in his forests and woods or in other places
disafforested by himself or his predecessors.]
19. Ordinance of the Saladin Tithe
(1188. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 160. Translation by Editors. I Stubbs, 627.)
1. THIS year each one shall give in alms a tenth of his revenues
and movables, with the exception of the arms and horses and
clothing of the knights, and likewise with the exception of the
horses and books and clothing and vestments and articles re-
quired in divine service of whatever sort of the clerks, and of the
precious stones of both clerks and laymen.
2. Moreover this money shall be collected in each parish in
28 English Constitutional Documents
the presence of the parish priest and the arch-priest, and one
Knight-Templar and one Knight- Hospitaller, and a servant of the
lord king and the king's clerk, and a servant of the baron and his
clerk, and a clerk of the bishops ; excommunication having been
pronounced previously by the archbishops, bishops and arch-
priests each one in every parish upon any one who does not
rightfully give the aforesaid tenth in the presence and cognizance
of those who ought to be present, as has been said. And if any
one, to their knowledge shall have given less than he ought, four
or six lawful men shall be chosen from the parish, who upon oath
shall declare what amount he ought to have declared ; and then
this sum shall be added to the smaller amount he had given.
3. But clerks and knights who shall have taken the cross shall
not pay this tithe except for their own property and demesnes :
and whatever their vassals ought to pay shall be collected for their
use by the aforesaid and the whole shall be paid over to them.
4. Moreover the bishops by their letters in each parish of their
dioceses shall cause proclamation to be made on the day of the
Nativity and of Saint Stephen and of Saint John that each one
shall get together at his home the prescribed tenth before the
Purification of the Blessed Virgin, and on the following day and
thereafter in the presence of the aforesaid at the place to which
he has been summoned each man shall make payment.
20. Writ Prascipe
(Latin text, Glanville, Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglia,
I. c. 6. Translation by Editors. Digby, Real Property, Fifth Edition, 73.)
'"PHE king to the sheriff, greeting.
- Command A. that, lawfully and without delay, he restore
to B. one hide of land, in such a town from which the said B.
complains that the aforesaid A. is keeping him by force, and if he
does not do it, summon him by good summoners, to be before me
or my justices, on the morrow after the octave of Easter in such a
place, to show cause wherefore he has not done it ; and have there
the summoners and this writ.
Witness : Ranulph de Glanville, at Clarendon.
Form of Proceeding on the Judicial Visitation 29
21. Form of Proceeding on the Judicial
(1194. Latin text, Stubbs, S. C. 259. Translation, Riley, The Annals of
Roger de Hoveden, ii. 334, with slight changes. I Stubbs, 543.)
Form of Proceeding in the Pleas of the Crown
IN the first place, four knights are to be chosen from out of the
whole county, who, upon their oaths, are to chose two law-
ful knights of every hundred and wapentake, and these two are to
chose upon their oath ten knights of every hundred or wapentake,
or, if there shall not be knights sufficient, free and lawful men, in
order that these twelve may together make inquisition on each of
the following heads in every hundred or wapentake.
Heads of the Pleas of the Crown
1. Of the pleas of the crown, both new and old, and all those
which have not yet been concluded before the justiciaries of our
lord the king.
2. Item of all recognizances and all pleas which have been
summoned before the justiciaries, by writ of the king or of the
chief justice, or which have been sent before them from the
supreme court of the king.
3. Item of escheats, what these are now, and what these have
been, since the king set out on his expedition to the land of Jeru-
salem; and what were at that time in the king's hands, and
whether they are now in his hands or not ; and of all escheats of
our lord king, if they have been taken out of his hands, how, and
by whom, and into whose hands they have come, and of what
kind, and if any person has had any profits from the same, and
what, and what was the value thereof, and what is the present
value ; and if there is any escheat, which belongs to our lord the
king, which is not at present in his hands.
4. Item of churches which are in the gift of our lord the king.
5. Item of Wardships of children, which belong to our lord the
6. Item of marriages of maidens, or of widows, which belong
to our lord the king.
7. Item of malefactors, and their harborers and abettors.
8. Item of forgers.
9. Item of murderers of the Jews, who they are, and of the
pledges of Jews so skin, their chattels, lands, debts, and writings
30 English Constitutional Documents
and who has the same ; and how much each person owes them,
and what pledges they had, and who holds the same, and how
much they are worth, and who has the profits thereof, and what
they are ; all the pledges and the debts of the Jews so slain are to
be seised for the king ; and those who were present at the murder
of the Jews, who have not made a composition thereon with our
lord the king, or with his justiciaries, are to be arrested and are
not to be liberated except by our lord the king, or his justiciaries.
10. Item of all aids given for the ransom of our lord the king,
how much each person promised, and how much he has paid, and
how much is still due from him.
11. Item of the adherents of earl John, and such of them as
have made a composition with our lord the king, and such as have
12. Item of the chattels of earl John or his adherents, which
have not been converted to the use of our lord the king ; and how
much the sheriffs and their bailiffs have received ; and who has
given any thing contrary to the ancient customs of the kingdom.
13. Item of all the lands of earl John, of his demesnes, and
wards, and escheats, and his gifts, and for what reason the same
were given, and all the gifts of earl John are to be seised for our
lord the king, except those which have been confirmed by the
14. Item of the debts and fines which are due to earl John, and
for what causes ; and all the same are to be demanded on behalf
of our lord the king.
15. Item of usurers, and of the chattels of such of them as
1 6. Item of wines sold contrary to the assize, and of false meas-
ures for wine as also for other things.
17. Item of such crusaders as have died before setting out for
the land of Jerusalem ; and who possesses their chattels, and what
they are, and how many.
1 8. Item of grand assizes, which are of lands a hundred shil-
lings in value or less.
19. Item of defaults.
20. Also in every county there are to be three knights chosen,
and one clerk, who are to be keepers of the pleas of the crown.
21. And no sheriff is to be justice in his shrievalty, nor yet in
any county which he has held since the first coronation of our lord
22. Also all the cities, and boroughs, and demesne lands of our
lord the king are to be talliaged.
Form of Proceeding on the Judicial Visitation 31
23. Also, the said justices, together with the bailiffs of William
of the Church of Saint Mary, Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, William de
Chimelli, William Bruere, Hugh Bardolph, and of the sheriff of
each place, are to cause the knights mentioned on the roll to be
summoned in their respective counties, to appear at a time and
place which they shall signify to them, and to make them swear in
their presence that they will use all their lawful endeavors to restore
the lands and escheats belonging to our lord the king, and to value
the same to the advantage of our lord the king, and not through
hatred, favor or regard for any person, to omit so to do. And the
said knights before named shall, upon their oath, make choice of
twelve lawful knights, or free and lawful men, if knights shall not
be found for the purpose, in the different parts of each county on
the circuit of the said justices itinerant, as shall seem expedient ;
who shall, in like manner, make oath that they will use all their
lawful endeavors to restore, and to value and establish the rights
of wardship and escheat in those parts, and will give their coun-
sel and assistance to advantage the king therein, as before men-
tioned. The said jurors shall also, upon oath, choose from free
men as many and such as they shall think necessary for the per-