Paul Vinogradoff.

Oxford studies in social and legal history, Volume 1 online

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The nineteenth century has been called the age of
historical study, and the twentieth bids fair to follow
its predecessor in this respect. At no previous epoch
have men felt more keenly that 'the roots of the
present lie deep in the past ', and England has had its
share in the general movement of European thought
in this direction. But, as far as the organization of
historical research is concerned, we have still a good
deal to learn and to do in England. It is not sufficient
that there should every now and then arise exception-
ally gifted and equipped leaders, like Grote, Stubbs,
Maitland; it is not enough that there should be
a widespread interest in history as a branch of litera-
ture. We ought to try to co-ordinate research and
train researchers; thorough and systematic investi-
gation ought not to be left to chance and to the
efforts of self-taught pioneers; the scientific side of
history should be brought up to the level of its literary

How much remains to be done in this respect may
be gathered from the fact that there are at present
few opportunities for investigators, especially for be-
ginners in research, to publish monographs on their
particular subjects. Editions of sources, and com-
mentaries or introductions to them, may find their
way to the publications of the Selden, the Royal

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Historical or some other learned society; short articles
and notes may be accepted by the English Historical
or the Law Quarterly Review. But it is difficult to
find a publisher for a special investigation of some
length, and even more difficult to make such a mono-
graph fit into a series with other monographs of the
same kind. And yet it is clear that without such
special investigations general constructive work may
result in the raising of houses of cards. Nor can
it be doubted that the normal conclusion of j-esearch
teaching in the Universities should be the production
oif monographs, the methods and results of which could
be tested by learned experts outside the narrow circle
of the class-room or of a particular University town.

In Germany and in France the necessity ^nd value
of such publications have been realized long ago. The
schools of SchmoUer and Gierke, of Knapp and Stut?,
of die J&cole des hautes 6tudes and of the ]£cole des
Chartes, make a point of acquainting the world at large
with the progress of their work. Without attempting
to rival such laboratories of historical research in the
quantity and excellence of their output, I propose, with
the powerfiil co-operation of the Clarendon Press,
to publish a series of ^ Studies in Social and Legal
History' in whic^ will be collected monog^phs on
these subjects written by my pupils, or by researchers
who have done me the honour of consulting me in the
course of their investigations. As a rule, a volume
of some 300-400 pages will be issued once a year,
and it will contain one or two monographs on the
social or legal history of England or other countries.
The present first volume is devoted to two monographs
of this kind, a study of Professor A. Savine, of the

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University of Moscow, on the English Monasteries
on the eve of the Dissolution, and ^n essay of F. de
Zuluet^, Fellow .and Law Lecturer of New College,
Oxford, on the Patronage of Villages in the later
Empire. The work of Professor Savine is connected
with my teaching in former years in the University
of Moscow, and wa^ originally published as part of
a Russian thesis. But it would have been a pity
if the more important results of this work, carried out
by a scholar already favourably known in the English-
speaking world by his studies on the end of bondage
and the origins of copyhold tenure, had remained
inaccessible to English readers. Professor Savine has
made a painstaking and critical investigation of the
principal source of our knowledge of property held
by the Church before the Dissolution — the so-called
Valor Ecclesiasticus. No similar systematic treatment
based on a careful comparison with the parallel sources
of information extant at the Record Office has been
attempted hitherto. The author has not been de-
terred by any dryness or complexity of detail, and his
work will surely not be disregarded by students of the
social history of England in the sixteenth century.

The second contribution ranges in an entirely differ-
ent field ; it treats of the formation of private patronage
in the course of the fourth and the fifth centuries on
Roman soil. The phenomena here described have
often been noticed as important institutional roots
of feudalism, but the new data afforded by the publi-
cation of Egyptian papyri have not been utilized
hitherto for the settlement of the problem in ques-
tion. Mr. de Zulueta started work on the subject
in a Seminar on the Codex Theodosianus conducted

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by me in 1907-8 and has been busy since in de-
veloping and strengthening his argument.

I should like, in conclusion, to express the hope that
these two monographs may augur well for the progress
of the * Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History*.


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* ■'■I -






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BOOK I /:.

• •• y^

CHAPTER I '••••;>


On the very threshold of the Dissolution we find long Scope of >'
returns of the Ro3ral Commissioners who in 1535 were *^* "'**'**^;-
describing the revenues of the English Church. No one has
ever made a careful study of this Survey, neither general his-
torians of the Tudor age, nor historians of the English Church,
nor authors of the very few monc^^phs on the Dissolution.
But as a proper understanding of the Dissolution is impossible
without a study of the Valor, I shall attempt to struggle
through this labyrinth, however great may be the danger of
losing the right way in the wearisome and unattractive maze
of names and figures.

In 153a Convocation had petitioned the King for the repeal Oripn of
of the Annates, representing that these Annates were ruining ^
both the laity and the episcopal sees, and suggesting that the
temporalities of the bishoprics ought in any case to be free from
taxation. An Act (23 H. VIII, c. 20) was accordingly passed
repealing the Annates; and under this Act, which did not
distinguish between the temporal and spiritual revenues, the
Pope was recognized as entitled to levy a chaise of not more
than five per cent, on the net income of a see. At the same
time Parliament left it open to the King to enter into negoti-
ations with the Pope concerning the Annates, and to give his
Royal assent to the Act by means of Letters Patent before
the assembling of the next Parliament. Henry was by no
means anxious to confirm the measure whilst there remained

v... B

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any hope of agr^mtint with Rome concerning other questions ;
and it was n6f**until he had completely broken with the
Pope that thV-Royal assent was given by Letters Patent
(July 9, J^*;Hr VIII). The Annates, however, disappeared
in England. Tor a short time only. In the following year
(26 IJ:* V'lII) it was enacted that newly ordained clergy
shoulch.'p^y to the Crown the Firstfruits of *all dignities,
beiJeAtes & promocyons spiritual! ' : and further, that since
'January i, 1535, all who held spiritual benefices should give
.;*.^nually the tenth part of their net incomes to the Crown
.//'.(a6 H. VIII, c. 3). In this way the King not only got pos-
' '/* session of the Papal Annates, but imposed them upon all
spiritual benefices, and added thereto as a fixed tax the Tenth
*'.'•' of all the net income of the English Church. The financial
emancipation from Rome became for the English Church a
worse enthralment to the State.
Act con- The Act concerning Firstfhiits and Tenths gave rise to
^^^^ts many new problems for the Exchequer, though to some
and Tenth*, extent the method of solution was indicated in the Act itself.
Wheneveran ecclesiastical vacancy occurred,the new incumbent
was not, under pain of a fine, to enjoy the revenues of his new
benefice until he had paid or promised to pay to the Crown
the Firstfruits thereof; and the Chancellor or the Master of
the Rolls was on each vacancy to issue a commission for the
purpose of valuing the benefice and making arrangements
with the new incumbent concerning the pa3rment of Firstfruits.
The Statute also gives detailed instructions as to raising the
revenue and accounting for it The regulations respecting
Tenths are even more elaborate. The Chancellor b em-
powered to send Commissioners in the name of the King and
under the Great Seal, into every diocese in order to ascertain
the true annual value of each ecclesiastical benefice; and
three Commissioners were to form a quorum. They were
required to specify accurately the amount of expenditure
to be deducted from the gross income (annual and r^[ular
rents, s}niodals and proxies, regular alms distributed under
wills, the fees of stewards, bailiffs, auditors and receivers) ;
and by the a5th section they were permitted to deduct also

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from the gross income of monasteries and prelates the r^^ular
fees paid to the Chancellor, Master of the Rolls, judges,
sheriffs or other officials for the execution of justice in their
respective dioceses or jurisdictions. When the Commissioners'
returns were completed the Royal Tenth was to be estimated
in accordance therewith. Each Archbishop and Bishop was
to collect the Tenths in his own diocese and be responsible
ibr the whole quota ; he was» however, entitled to an allowance
therefrom if at the proper time he pointed out persons who
were in arrears. Each incumbent was to pay his yearly dues
by Christmas ; while the Bishops had to pay the whole dues
of their respective dioceses by the ist of April in the following

In compliance with the provisions of the Statute, the Chan-
cellor prepared a commission for each shire. All these
commissions were dated January 30, 1535. At the summons
of the Commissioners, clerks, registrars, receivers, auditors
of prelates and clei^;3rmen were bound to appear before
them and give all necessary information, and the Com-
missioners were to send in their returns to the Exchequer
not later than in octMs Trimiaiis, 1535.^

A detailed instruction was attached to all the commissions,^ huXnc
and on the whole seems to have been followed closely. The c^!^i^
CoDunissioners were sent to every diocese, shire, and populous tionen.
place in England and Wales. First of all, the Commissioners
of each diocese in its entirety, following the information given
by the Church authorities, are to make a list of all incumbents
and ecclesiastical benefices and to classify the latter according
to their rural deaneries. Then, the Commissioners are divided
into sub-commissions, and several rural deaneries assigned
to each sub-commission; three members making a quorum
in a sub-commission. They were to examine under oath
all incumbents, and their receivers and auditors; and they
were also bound to inspect the r^^ters, books of account,

^ The text of the Devonshire Commission is printed in Valor Ecdesi-
asticns, ii. 389 ; the list <^ all the Commissioners, based on the Patent
Rolls^ is to be fonnd in Gairdnei^ viii. 149, nn. 3^-82.

^ A spedmeD of it is printed in the V. £. before the text of the first volume:

B 2

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Easter books and other documents which they might think
useful, without concealing anything.

Then follow special instructions as to describing the revenues
of the separate groups into which the Church benefices
were divided -.—episcopal sees, cathedrals, archdeaconries,
and rural deaneries, collies, hospitals, monasteries, rectories,
vicarages and chapels. I propose, however, to deal only
with the instructions which refer to monasteries. The Com-
missioners are to inquire into and record the names of
all the abbeys, priories, monasteries and other religious
houses ; the names of all manors, farms, tenements, rents
and other temporal revenues ; the names of rectories, vicar-
ages, tithes, oblations and other spiritual revenues ; the name
of the shire and village where the said revenues are raised;
and finally the exact annual amount of every separate source
of revenue. The Commissioners must deduct from the gross
income the r^^lar pensions, rents, alms, and fees which are paid
to the receivers, bailiffs, auditors and stewards ; but no other per^
sons are to be taken into consideration by the Conmiissioners.^
The Commissioners are to give the names of the officials to
whom the r^^lar fees are paid, the names of persons and
places to whom the perpetual rents and pensions are paid,
and the name of donors for the benefit of whose souls the
alms are given. The Commissioners are also to deduct the
synodals and proxies but not to make any allowance for
other expenses. In the survey the abbot's or prior's name
must be given ; and if there should be any offices in the
monastery held in perpetuity they must also be specified,
together with their revenue.

When all the local returns were completed, all the Sub-
commissioners of the diocese were to meet together and com-

^ Here the Instruction clearly went against the Act of 36 H. VIII, c. ^
s. 35, which allowed as deductions from the gross income of prelates and
monasteries the annual perpetual fees of the Chancellor, Nlaster of the
Rolls, judges and sherififo. And, as usually happens in political systons
tending towards despotism, the subordinate officials ignored the law, which
neither rewards nor reproves, and ioUowed the orders of their particular
chief. Even when the payments to lawyers were entered in the Survey
they were crossed out at the revision (e. g. Winchcombe, Glouc, ii. 459).

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pile one general book for that diocese (' a fayer book after
the audytours fashyon ')• The Instruction also prescribes the
plan for the general book: the episcopal see, cathedral, or
monastery, with its offices, archdeaconries, rural deaneries and
the rest ; if a benefice does not belong to any rural deanery
it must be entered separately, and its name and position given.
The Commissioners were to hand the general book to the Ex-
chequer with their seals in octabis Trinitatis^ adding to it the
local returns of the sub-commissions. The returns made by
these Conmiissioners are known as the ' Valor Ecdesiasticus '.

With all due respect to previous writers, I cannot think that
the cdebrated Survey has met with the attention it deserves.
Its measure of trustworthiness has never been ascertained ;
while for its external history one must still apply to
Dr. Gairdner's Calendar for 1535 and 1536.^ To the best
of my ability I have tried to fill the gap, though I ani very
far from supposing that I have said the last word on this

The Government had no intention of confining itself to Letters of
the appointment of Commissioners and the drawing up of q^^^^J^
instructions for them. The men who in 1535 controlled
the machinery of State attached great importance to
the work of the Commissioners and therefore wished to
direct that work even in matters of detail. The Commis-
sioners of 1535 felt the heavy hand of the Government
throughout tfie whole of their work; they were in con-
stant correspondence with it; soliciting rewards for their
real or feigned zeal ; apologizing for n^ligence ; relating
the difficulties which they encountered ; and asking for
guidance in their perplexities.

Only one side of this correspondence has come down to us,
however; the letters of the Commissioners to the central
Government and to Cromwell, and probably only a small
part even of these. But in what has been preserved there

' The chief authorities arc: Speed's Hist. (161 1), ^8; Burnet's ReL
(Pocock), i. 311, 430; Collier's Ecd. Hist (1714)1 >>. 9S; Nasmith's
Pre&ce to Tanner's Notitia, iv ; Fuller's Church Hist (1655), v. 226-
9 ; Hunter's Preface to V. £., Record Commission ; Home and Foreign
Review, 1864, Jan. 166-7 ; Blum's Ref. i. 363 ; Dixon's Hist i. 247-50-

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is much instructive information concerning the bureaucratic
routine of the time and the composition of the Returns of


Information as to the doings of the Commissioners is some-
times given inddentally, in letters written about other matters.
Thus, in April, 1535, it was reported to Cromwell that a cer-
tain monk in a'/ friendly ' examination refused to realize the
supremacy of the King in Church affairs. The denunciation
was written on April 18 by three Commissioners whose special
duty it was to survey the Church estates and revenues in

The Bishop of Hereford was required as early as Feb-
ruary to give information concerning the numbo* and the
revenues of the Church benefices vacated since January i,
i535> Jn order that the Firstfruits might be collected from
them. In a letter to Cromwell on April 16, the Bishop
enumerates the vacant benefices but says that he cannot,
at that moment, give their exact income; he promises,
however, to send the information that was lacking, as soon
as the Commissioners, who were then compiling their
account of the Church property in his diocese, shall have
finished their work ; and he adds that he and the other Com-
missioners had received the commission and instructions for
the survey only a short time ago.*
The Nor- Information regarding the initial doings of the Commis-
mi^oDenT sioners in the diocese of Norwich is given in minute detail.
An importunate flatterer, Reynold Lytylprow, writes many
letters to Cromwell. Before the Commissioners had begun
their work he begs to be included in the commission and asks
that detailed instructions should be sent to him. L)^lprow
was put on the commission, and on the Friday before Palm
Sunday we find him reporting to Cromwell, among other

' This correspondence belongs to the State Papers and is therefore
sununarized in Dr. Gaurdner's Calendar (viii, ix, x). The summary b
well executed, but in the origmal doamients there are often to be found
characteristic and sometimes important details. Four letters (viii. 6549
754, 1082, ix. 1070, n. 3) are printed in extenso by Strype, but with semal
serious errors. (Strype, Ecd. Mem. I, i. 337-31, 1, ii. 219-20.)

* Gairdner, viii. 552.

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' -* Ji*!-^*."!r'T^


things, that the Commissioners of Norwich had met with
some difficulties in their work, and that they were sending to
him or Mr. Lumnour for instructions in certain matters.

Another Commissioner, Tho. Godsalve, writes to Cromwell
from Norwich Mn haste ' on March 20 concerning the journey
of this same Mr. Lumnour ; among other things, Lumnour will
be able to tell Cromwell what the Commissioners of Firstfruits
and Tenths have done up to the present time. A third Com-
missioner, Ric. Southwell, subsequently an eminent official in
the Augmentations Court, also writes to Cromwell on March 21,
and from this letter we learn that Cromwell had expressed
a desire to have continuous and detailed information respect-
ing the progress of the Commissioners' doings, Southwell's
letter being written in response.

On Thursday, March 4, the second day of the Assizes
at Thetford,a letter came from Lumnour to Sir TluLestrange
and Jenney, Seijeant-at-Law, ordering the Commissioners for
surveying Church property to assemble in Norwich on the
Monday after the Assizes (March 8). But the Assizes were
not concluded untill Saturday, March 6, so that the Assize
Commissioners had not time to get fromThetford toNorwich by
Monday ; as therefore only nine men assembled on Monday the
banning of the work was postponed until Friday , March 12,
on which day they all met together at seven in the morning
and worked the whole day. They read and mastered the
instructions, made excerpts from them and sent them to the
incumbents of the diocese, with a command to return all the
necessary information to Norwich by the following Friday,
March 19. Southwell concludes his letter with a promise
to inform Cromwell from time to time concerning the doings

Online LibraryPaul VinogradoffOxford studies in social and legal history, Volume 1 → online text (page 1 of 37)