John Horace Round.

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" commune " of London with the " fitablissements
de Rouen " will be found in the fact that the latter
refer to a system based on a body of a hundred pares,
of which body there does not seem to be any trace
in England, At Winchester the pares were "the
twenty-four." It is obvious that, in this respect, there
is a marked discrepancy ; but if the electoral body was

^ Ibid. p. 8i. 2 Historic Towns: Winchester, p. i66.



different, the executive, at any rate, was the same.
And if, as must be admitted, there was a foreign
element introduced, it would be naturally from Nor-
mandy that it came."^

Writing in 1893, before I had discovered the
documents on which I. have dwelt above, I in-
sisted on the foreign origin of the London " com-
mune," and pointed out that the close association
between London and Rouen at the time suggested
that the office of Mayor was derived by the former
from the latter.^ It may be permissible to repeat this
argument from presumption, although its form was
adapted to a wider circle than that of scholars.

The beffroi of France, to which the jurat looked as
the symbol and pledge of independence, is found here
also in the bell-tower of St. Paul's, which is styled in
documents either by that name (berefridurn), or by that
of campanile, which brings before us at once the storm-
tost commonwealths of Italy. It was indeed from
Italy that the fire of freedom spread. With the rise
of mediaeval commerce it was carried from the Alps
to the Rhine, and quickly burst into flame among the
traders and craftsmen of Flanders. Passing into
Picardy, it crossed the Channel, according to a theory
I have myself advanced, to reappear in the liberties
of the Cinque Ports, with their French name,

>■ In his valuable ' Etude sur les origines de la commune de St
Quentin,' M. Giry has shown that this early example, with those
derived from it, was distinguished by the separate existence and
status of the ichevins. Nor have the ^tablissements as much in
common with the London commune as those of Rouen.

* Archaeological Journal, l. 256-260.



their French " serements " and their French jurats}
Foreign merchants had brought it with them to the
port of Exeter also, almost as early as the Conquest,
and we cannot doubt that London as well was already
infected with the movement, and eager to find in the
foreign " commune " the means of attaining that
administrative autonomy and political independence
which that term virtually expressed.

Hostile though our kings might be to the- communal
movement here, they favoured it for purposes of their
own in their Norman dominions. This is a factor in
the problem that we cannot afford to overlook, con-
sidering the peculiar relation in which Normandy
stood to England. As M. Langlois has observed :

Jamais en effet la France et I'Angleterre n'ont ^t^ mfeme de nos
jours, aussi intiment en contact . . . Jusqu'k la fin du xii""
sifecle, les deux pays eurent k peu prfes les mSmes institutions poli-
tiques, ils pratiquaient la meme religion, on y parlait la meme langue.
Des Frangais allaient fr^quemment dans I'ile comme touristes,
comme colons, comme marchands.

Was it not then from Normandy that London would
derive her commune ? And if from Normandy, surely
from Rouen. We are apt to forget the close connec-
tions between the two capitals of our Anglo-Norman
kings, London on the Thames, and Rouen on the
Seine. A student of the period has written of these :

Citizens of Norman origin, to whom London, in no small measure,
owed the marked importance which it obtained under Henry I. . . .
Merchants, traders, craftsmen of all sorts, came flocking to seek their
fortunes in their sovereign's newly-acquired dominions, not by
forcible spoliation of the native people, but by fair traffic and honest
labour in their midst. . . . Norman refinement, Norman taste,

^ Feudal England, 552 ^/ seq.


Norman fashions, especially in dress, made their way rapidly among
the English burghers. . . . The great commercial centre
to which the Norman merchants had long been attracted as visitors,
attracted them as settlers now that it had become the capital of
their own sovereign.^

It is known from the ' Instituta Londoniae ' that, so
far back as the days of ^thelred, the men of Rouen
had traded to London, bringing in their ships the
wines of France, as well as that mysterious "cras-
pice," which it is the fashion to render "sturgeon,"
although there is reason to believe that the term
denoted the porpoise and even the whale. The
charter of Henry, duke of the Normans, to the citizens
of Rouen (1150-1), brings out a fact unknown to
English historians, by confirming to them their port at
Dowgate, as they had held it from the days of Edward
the Confessor. And the same charter, by securing
them their right to visit all the markets in England,
carries back that privilege, I believe, to the days at
least of Henry I. ; for, although the fact had escaped
notice both in France and England, it could neither
have originated with Count Geoffrey nor with Duke
Henry his son.

Nor does the interest of this Rouen charter stop
here. Among the sureties for the young Duke's
fidelity to his word we find Richer de Laigle, the
youthful friend of Becket, " a constant visitor," as
Miss Norgate, writes, " and intimate friend of the little
household in Cheapside." And does not the name of
Becket remind us how " Thomas of London, the
burgher's son," afterwards " Archbishop, saint and

^ Norgate's ' England under the Angevin Kings,' i. 48-9.


martyr," had for his father a magnate of London, but
one who was by birth a citizen of Rouen ? Therefore,
the same writer is probably justified in maintaining
that " the influence of these Norman burghers was
dominant in the city." They seem, she adds, "to
have won their predominance by fair means, fairly.
They brought a great deal more than mere wealth ;
they brought enterprise, vigour, refinement, culture,
as well as political progress."^

Now it is my contention that political progress was
represented with them by the communal idea. Their
interests, moreover, would be wholly commercial, and,
therefore, opposed to those of the native territorial
element. If we turn to Rouen, we find its Mayor
occurring fifteen years at least before the Mayor of
London, and styled Mayor of the " Commune " of
Rouen — " Major de Communia." For Rouen was a
stronghold of the "Commune." It is of importance,
therefore, for our purpose to ascertain at what period
the communal organization originated at Rouen. In
spite of the close attention, from the days of Ch^ruel
downwards, that the subject has attracted in France,
the conclusions attained cannot be deemed altogether

The monograph devoted by M. Giry to the " Etab-
lissements de Rouen," ^ represents the fine fieur of
French historical scholarship, and its conclusions,

^ These passages are quoted to show that the influence of Rouen
on London is admitted by an independent writer.

^ 'Les Etablissements de Rouen' (Bibliothfeque de I'dcoledes hautes
Etudes, pubU^e sous les auspices du Ministere de I'instruction
publique, 1883).



therefore, deserve no ordinary consideration. But on
one point of the utmost importance, namely, the date
at which these " EtabHssements " were compiled, I
venture to hold an independent view. The initial
difficulty is thus stated by the brilliant French
scholar :

L'original n'existe plus, et I'on ne sait k quelle dpoque precise il
faut faire remonter leur adoption dans les villas de Rouen et de la
Rochelle qui les ont eus avant tous les autres (p. 2).

The first allusion to the jurisdiction exercised by the
Commune of Rouen is found, says M. Giry, in the
charter granted it by Henry II. shortly after its gal-
lant defence against the French king. He then
proceeds :

C'est du reste k la fin du regne de Henri II. que nous voyons
pour la premiere fois la ville de Rouen dScor^e du litre de Commune
(communt'a) dans un grand nombre de chartes dont les listes de
tdmoins circonscrivent la date entre 1173 et 118 9. Dans ces chartes
les mentions d'un maire, de pairs, d'un bailli, nous font voir qu'alors
dejk la ville jouissait de I'organisation municipale que les Etablisse-
ments exposent avec plus de details ; elles nous permettent de croire
que cette constitution, h, peu pres telle qu'elle nous est parvenue y
e'tait alors en vigueur (p. 28).

A footnote is appended, giving " I'indication de
quelques-unes des chartes, malheureusement sans
dates, sur lesquelles s'appuie cette demonstration" :

[i] "Radulphus Henrici regis cancellarius (1173-1181) . . .
Bartholomeus, major communie Rothomagensis " . . . [2] "in
presentia Bartholomei Fergant qui tunc erat major communie
Rothomagensis (1177-1189) et parium ipsius civitatis," etc.

The expert will perceive that these two charters
"demonstrate," not a date "entre 11 73 et 1189,"



but between 1177 and 1181. For if Bartholomew's
rule as mayor began in 1177, the first cannot be of
earlier date ; and if Ralf ceased to be chancellor in
1181/ its mention of a "commune " cannot be of later
date than that year. As a matter of fact, my own
study of the Rouen cathedral charters (from which
this evidence is taken) has convinced me that Bar-
tholomew was mayor earlier than 11 77; but I am,
for the moment, only concerned with M. Giry's dates.
Returning to the point later on, when discussing the
claim of priority for La Rochelle, he writes :

Les documents que nous avons pu interroger ne sauraient
decider meme la question d'ant^rioritd, puisqu'ils ne donnent que
des dpoques approximatives et circonscrivent la date, pour Rouen
antra 1177 et 1183, et pour la Rochelle antra 1169 at 1199 (pp.

No reference is given for the date " 1183," but it must
be derived from the " demonstration " on p. 29 (foot-
note), where a charter is mentioned which speaks of
the "Communio Rothomagi" in the time of arch-
bishop Hugh, "1129-1183." But now comes the
startling fact. It was not Hugh who died in 1183,
but his successor, Rotrou! Hugh himself had died
so early as 11 64. Therefore, if this charter can be
trusted, it proves that the "communio" was in exis-
tence, and (as M. Giry holds), the " r^tablissements "
with it, at least as early as 11 64. But the fact is that,
as M. Giry had himself observed, when speaking, just
before, of duke Henry's charter, " la communio Rotho-
magi (art. 7) ne ddsigne que la communautd des
citoyens" (p. 26); it does not prove the existence of

^ He became, in that year, bishop of Lisieux.


a commune, and, of course, still less of the " !]£tablisse-

But I would urge that not even the mention of a
ti-ae, commune ("communia") in a charter proves the
adoption of the " ^^tablissements " at the time. For
Henry's grant of a "communia" to La Rochelle was
made, according to M. Giry, between 1 169 and 1 178 ;^
and yet, as we have seen, he does not deem the adop-
tion of the " jfitablissements " at La Rochelle proved
before 1199. Ii^ that year Queen Eleanor granted to
Saintes "ut communiam suam teneant secundum
formam et modum communie de Rochella." Even
this, I venture to think, is not actual proof that the
" Etablissements de Rouen " had already been adopted
at La Rochelle, though it certainly affords some pre-
sumption in favour of that view.

It is only when we turn from this external evidence
to the text of the " ^Etablissements " themselves, that
we discover, in two passages, a direct clue. In these
an exception is made in the words : " nisi dominus rex
vel filius ejus adsint Rothomagi vel assisia" (ii. 24,
28). On these M. Giry writes :

Les articles qui pr^voient la presence S. Rouen du roi ou de son
fils ne peuvent guere s'appliquer qu'^ Henri II. et k. Richard Cceur-
de-Lion. C'est done des dernieres ann6es du regne de Henri II.,
apres I'ann^e 1169, qu'il faut dater la redaction des Etablissements
(i. II).

Here, then, we have yet another limit — the last
(twenty) years of Henry II. No reference, however,
is given for the date " 1169" (unless it applies to La

^ I am in a position to date this charter precisely as at or about
Feb., 1175.



Rochelle — and even then it is wrong).^ But my point
is that between the years "1169" (or "1177") and
" 1 183 " the king's son here mentioned was, obviously,
not Richard, but Henry, styled king of the English
and duke of the Normans, from his coronation in 11 70
to his death in 1183. And, even after Henry's death,
Richard was never duke of the Normans in his father's
lifetime. My own conclusion, therefore, is that these
parts, at least of the " Etablissements," and probably
the whole of them, were composed before the death of
the young king in 1183, and probably after his corona-
tion, and admission to a share of his father's power, in
1 1 70. Thus they may well have been connected with
Henry's charter to Rouen granted in 11 74-1 175.

These considerations may have led us somewhat
far afield ; but if I am right in deriving from the
Norman capital of our kings the 12th century
"Commune of London," the origins of the Rouen
" Commune " deserve our careful study. The same
MS. which yielded the leading document in this
paper contains two others, of which something must
be said. But before doing so we will glance at one of
different origin, which, in more ways than one, we
may associate with the ' Commune.'

^ Recurring, in his " Conclusions " at the end of the volume, to
this question of date, M. Giry seems to combine two of his different
limits : " L'^tude du texte nous a permis de fixer la redaction des
Etablissements aux dernieres anndes du regne de Henri II., apres
ii6g. Nous Savons, de plus que La Rochelle les avait adopt^s
avant 1199, que Rouen les avait egalement possddes vers la meme
dpoque, entre 1177 et 1183" (p. 427). Of these dates, I can only
repeat that " 1183 " has its origin in an error ; " 1177 "is, I think, a
mistake, and "1169" difficult to understand. My forthcoming
calendar of charters in France will throw fresh light upon the date.



The charter which follows is chiefly introduced for
the interesting phrase found in it : " the greater barons
of the city." So far as I know, this phrase is unique ;
and apart from its importance for London itself, it has
a direct bearing on that famous constitutional problem :
who were the "barones. majores" ? In the present
case, the phrase, surely, has no specialized meaning.
It is probably a coincidence, and nothing more, that
"majores" and "minores," at St. Quentin, had a
defined meaning. In M. Giry's treatise on its com-
mune we read as follows :

Notons ici que les citoyens ayant exerce les fonctions de jur^s et
d'dchevins formaient dans la ville une veritable aristocratic : on les
appelait les grands bourgeois, majores burgenses, par opposition aux
petits bourgeois, minores burgenses, qui comprenaient tons les autres
membres de la commune (p. cxi.).

And again :

A Saint-Quentin, comme dans toutes les communes, le pouvoir
^tait aux mains des habitants riches qu'on appelait, ainsi qu'il a ^t^
dit plus haut, les grands bourgeois {majores burgenses), parce qu'ils
avaient exercd les charges municipales, et pour les distinguer des
petits bourgeois {minores burgenses), denomination appliqu^e S, tous
ceux qui n'avaient point rempli les fonctions de jur^ ou d'dchevin. En
1318, pendent la suspension de la commune, ces petits bourgeois
se plaignirent de la mauvaise repartition des tailles et traduisirent
devant le Parlement les grands bourgeois, auteurs des roles d'imposi-
tion incrimines (p. cxv.).

The original of this charter is preserved at the
Public Record Office.^ It is assigned in the official
calendar to 11 89-1 196, but this date can be greatly
narrowed. For while it is subsequent to William's
consecration (31st Dec, 11 89), it must be previous to
his obtaining the legation in June, 1190, for Bishop

^ Ancient Deeds, A. 1477.


Hugh was his open foe before he lost it, and could
not act with him after that.

Willelnius dei gratia Elyensis episcopus Domini Regis cancellarius
iiniversis Christi fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum pervenerit
salutem in vero salutari. Universitati vestre notum fieri volumus
nos dedisse at concessisse et present! carta nostra confirmasse
dilecto et familiari nostro Gaufrido Blundo civi Lond' et heredibus
suis totam terram et mesuagium cum pertinentiis et libertatibus et
liberis consuetudinibus et rebus cunctis que ad predictam terram
pertinent, quam terram et quod mesuagium cum pertinentiis
emimus de Waltero Lorengo qui fuit nepos Petri filii Walteri* et
Roberti filii Walteri et eorum heres per veredictum tocius civitatis
Londoniarum {sic), et hoc testificatum fuit coram nobis a maioribus
baronibus civitatis apud Turrim Lond'. Que terra et quod mesua-
gium cum pertinentiis fuerunt predicti Petri filii Walteri et predicti
Roberti filii Walteri qui fuerunt avunculi predicti Walteri Loreng' et
jacent in parochia Sancti Laurentii de Judaismo et in parochia
Sancte Marie de Aldermanebery, habendum et tenendum predicto
Gaufrido et heredibus suis jure hereditario imperpetuum cum
omnibus pertinentiis et libertatibus et liberis consuetudinibus et cum
omnibus rebus, scilicet quicquid ibidem habuimus in terris, in lignis,
in lapidibus, in redditibus, et in rebus cunctis, sine aliquo reteni-
mento faciendo inde servicium quod inde capitali domino debet,
scilicet vj d. per annum ad Pasch' pro omni servitio. Hanc vero
terram et mesuagium cum pertinentiis, ut predictum est, ego
Willelmus predictus et heredes nostri predicto Gaufrido et heredibus
suis contra omnes gentes imperpetuum warrantizabimus. Pro hac
donatione et concessione et carte nostre confirmatione predictus
Gaufridus Blund dedit nobis quatuor viginti et decern libras argenti
in gersumam. Et ut hec nostra donatio et concessio rata et
inconcussa predicto Gaufrido et heredibus suis imperpetuum per-
maneat, eam presenti scripto et sigilli nostri munimine corroboravi-

Hiis testibus: Hugoni Cestrensi episcopoj Henrico de Longo
Campo fratre nostro ; Willelmo de Brause ; Henrico de Comhell' ;
Willelmo Puintel; Ricardo filio Reineri; Henrico filio Ailwin';

1 Sheriff of London 1 174-6. Also Alderman (Palgrave, IL



Waltero de Hely senescallo nostro ; Matheo de Alenzun camerario
nostro ; magistro Michaele ; Willelmo de Sancto Michaele ; Gaufrido
Bucuinte; Simone de Aldermannebury; Baldewino capellano nostro ;
Stephano Blundo ; Philippo elemosinario nostro ; magistro Willelmo
de Nanntes; Daniele de Longo Campo clerico nostro; Reimundo
clerico nostro, et multis aliis.

We have here a remarkable group of men — Long-
champ himself, whose fall, in 1191, was so closely-
connected with the birth of the commune, but who is
here seen, in the hour of his pride, speaking of " our
brother," "our seneschal," "our chamberlain," "our
chaplain," "our almoner," and "our clerks"; Bishop
Hugh, who was next year to take the lead in ex-
pelling him from the Tower, as yet his stronghold ;
Henry of Cornhill and Richard Fitz Reiner, who had
ceased but a few months before to be sheriffs of
London, and who were to play so prominent a part
at the crisis of 1191 ; lastly, Henry Fitz Ailwin him-
self, who, as the ultimate result of that crisis, was
destined to become the first Mayor of the Commune
of London.

The grantee himself also was a well-known citizen
of London. In conjunction with Henry Fitz Ailwin
(as Mayor) and other City magnates, he witnessed a
gift of property in the City to St. Mary's, Clerkenwell ;^
and he seems to have been the Geoffrey Blund who
had, by his wife Ida de Humfraville, a son Thomas,
who founded a chantry in St. Paul's for his uncle
Richard de Humfraville, and his father Geoffrey.

For the London topographer also this charter has
an interest, as land in St. Lawrence Jewry, and

1 Cot MS. Faust, B. ii., fo. 66 d.


St. Mary Aldermanbury, must have closely adjoined
the site of the Guildhall itself. The sum named is a
large one for the time.

I now pass to the two documents of which mention
has been made above. The first of these ^ is of in-
terest for its bearing on the " ward " system. At
Rouen the " excubia " was in charge of the mayor ; *
in London, according to this document, he had not
supplanted the sheriffs, by whom it must have been
controlled before his appearance. This I attribute to
its close connexion with the pre-existing system of
" wards," each, I take it, a unit for purposes of de-
fence and ward, under its own alderman, with the
sheriffs at the head of the whole system.

De Excubiis in Natali et Pascha et Pentecost.'

Magna custodia debet invenire xii homines sed per libitum vice-
comitis abbreviata est usque ad viii homines.

Mediocris custodia debet viii vigiles, sed ita abbreviata usque

Minor custodia debet sex, sed ita abbreviata usque ad iiij".

Debent autem escavingores * eligi qui singulis diebus a vigilia
Nat[alis] domini usque ad diem epyphanie videant illos qui debent
de nocte vigilare quod sint homines defensibiles et decenter ad hoc
armati. Debent autem ad vesperam in die videri et ad horam
completorii exire et per totam noctem pacifice vigilare et vicum
salve custodire usque pulsetur ad matutinas per capellas, quod vo-

^ Add. MS. 14,252, fo. 106.

^ " Major debet custodire claves civitatis et cum assensu parium
talibus hominibus tradere in quibus salve sint.

" Si aliquis se absentaverit de excubia ipse erit in misericordia
majoris secundum quod tunc fuerit magna necessitas excubandi"
(' Etablissements de Rouen,' ii. 44).

^ Add. MS. 14,252, fo. 106. * MS. ' escauingores.'



catur daibeUe. Et si aliqua defalta in custodia contigerit, esca-
vingores debent illos inbreviare et ad primum hustingum vicecomi-
tibus tradere. Potest eciam vicecomes, si vult, cogere eos jurare de
defalta quod nulli inde deferebunt nee aliquem celabunt.

De Cartis Civitatis.

In thesauro due regis Willelmi primi et due de libertatibus regis
Ricardi et de eodem rage due carte de kidellis et de rege Johanne
due carte de vicecom[itatu], una de libertate et una de kidellis
cum sigillo de communi cons ^ (sid) habet i cartam regis Johannis
de libertate civitatis W. fil' Ren' habet i regis Henrici de liber-
tate et H[enricus] de Cornh[illa] aliam, Ilog[erus] maior habet
cartam E.egin[aldi ?] de CornhpUa] de debito civitatis de ccc

The latter portion, it will be observed, describes
the custody of the city charters, and is of special
value as fixing the date to that of the mayoralty of
Roger, who held the office in 12 13.

The regulations for the watch are decisive, surely,
of the functions originally discharged by the " scav-
engers " of London. They were inspectors of the
watch. In his introduction to the 'Liber Albus'(i859)
Mr. Riley held that —

The City Scavagers, it appears, were originally public officers, whose
duty it was to attend at the Hythes and Quays for the purpose
of taking custom upon the Scavage (i.e. Showage) or opening out of
imported goods. At a later period, however, it was also their duty,
as already mentioned, to see that due precautions were taken in the
construction of houses against fire ; in addition to which it was their
business to see that the pavements were kept in repair. . . .
These officers, no doubt, gave name to the ^Scavengers' of the present
day (p. xli. ; cf. iii. 352, 357).

Professor Skeat adopts this view in his etymolo-

^ ? consilio.


gical Dictionary, and develops it at some length,
holding that " the n before g is intrusive " as in some
other cases, " and scavenger stands for scavager." He
consequently connects the word with our " shew,"
through " scavage." But no evidence whatever is
adduced by Mr. Riley for his assertion that the
" Scavagers " originally performed the above duty or
had anything to do with it.

The last of these London records with which I
have here to deal is the so-called " Hidagium " of
Middlesex.^ The explanation of its thus, appearing
among documents relating to the administration of
London is that when London and Middlesex were
jointly "farmed" by the citizens, the sheriffs an-
swered jointly for the ' Danegeld ' of Middlesex and
the corresponding donum or auxilium, of London.

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Online LibraryJohn Horace RoundThe commune of London, and other studies → online text (page 18 of 24)