Chapter 10

S. A. Reilly

The Times: 1399-1485

This period, which begins with the reign of the usurper King, Henry IV, is dominated by war: the last half of the 100 year war with France, which, with the help of Joan of Arc, took all English land on the continent except the port of Calais, and the War of the Roses in England. The barons and earls returned from France with their private fighting units. Nobles employed men who had returned from fighting to use their fighting skill in local defense. All the great houses kept bands of armed retainers. These retainers were given land or pay or both as well as liveries [uniforms or badges] bearing the family crest. They came to fight for the cause of one of the two royal family lines competing for the throne. In the system of "livery and maintenance", if the retainer was harassed by the law or by enemies, the lord gave him protection [maintenance].

In both wars, the musket was used as well as the long-bow. Cannon were used to besiege castles and destroy their walls, so many castles were allowed to deteriorate. The existence of cannon also limited the usefulness of town walls for defense.

Barons and earls settled their disputes in the field rather than in the royal courts. And men relied increasingly on the protection of the great men of their neighborhood and less on the King's courts for the safety of their lives and land. Local men involved in court functions usually owed allegiance to a lord which compromised the exercise of justice. Men serving in an assize often lied to please their lord instead of telling the truth. Lords maintained, supported, or promoted litigation with money or aid supplied to one party to the detriment of justice. It was not unusual for lords to attend court with a great force of retainers behind them. Royal justices were flouted or bribed. The King's writ was denied or perverted. For 6-8s., a lord could have the King instruct his sheriff to impanel a jury which would find in his favor. A statute against riots, forcible entries, and, excepting the King, magnates' liveries of uniform, food, and badges to their retainers, except in war outside the nation, was passed, but was difficult to enforce because the offenders were lords, who dominated the Parliament and the council.

Since the power of the throne changed from one faction to another, many bills of attainder caused lords to lose their lands to the King. Fighting between lords and gangs of ruffians holding the roads, breaking into and seizing manor houses, and openly committing murders continued. The roads were not safe. People turned to mysticism to escape from the everyday violent world. They had no religious enthusiasm, but believed in magic and sorcery.

With men so often gone to fight, their wives managed the household alone. The typical wife had maidens of equal class to whom she taught household management, spinning, weaving, carding wool with iron wool-combs, heckling flax, embroidery, and making garments. There were foot-treadles for spinning wheels. She taught the children. Each day she scheduled the activities of the household including music, conversation, dancing, chess, reading, playing ball, and gathering flowers. She organized picnics, rode horseback and went hunting, hawking to get birds, and rabbit-ferreting. She was nurse to all around her. If her husband died, she usually continued in this role because most men named their wives as executors of their wills with full power to act as she thought best.

For ladies, close-fitting jackets came to be worn over close-fitting long gowns with low, square-cut necklines and flowing sleeves, under which was worn a girdle. All her hair was confined by a hair net. Headdresses were very elaborate and heavy, trailing streamers of linen. Some were in the shape of hearts, butterflies, crescents, double horns, or long cones. Men also were wearing hats rather than hoods. They wore huge hats of velvet, fur, or leather. Their hair was cut into a cap-like shape on their heads, and later was shoulder-length. They wore doublets with thick padding over the shoulders or short tunics over the trucks of their bodies and tightened at the waist to emphasize the shoulders. Their collars were high. Their sleeves were long concoctions of velvet, damask, and satin, sometimes worn wrapped around their arms in layers. Their legs were covered with hose, often in different colors. Shoes were pointed with upward pikes at the toes. At another time, shoes were broad with blunt toes. Both men and women wore much jewelry and ornamentation.

Cooking and the serving of meals was also elaborate. There were many courses of a variety of meats, fish, stews, and soups, with a variety of spices. The standard number of meals was three: breakfast, dinner, and supper. The diet of an ordinary family such as that of a small shopholder or yeoman farmer included beef, mutton, pork, a variety of fish, both fresh and salted, venison, nuts, peas, oatmeal, honey, grapes, apples, pears, and fresh vegetables. Cattle and sheep were driven from Wales to English markets. This droving lasted for five centuries.

Many types of people besides the nobility and knights now had property and thus were considered gentry: female lines of the nobility, merchants and their sons, lawyers, auditors, squires, and peasant-yeomen. The burgess grew rich as the knight dropped lower. The great merchants lived in mansions which could occupy whole blocks. Typically, there would be an oak-paneled great hall, with adjoining kitchen, pantry, and buttery on one end and a great parlor to receive guests, bedrooms, wardrobes, servants' rooms, and a chapel on the other end or on a second floor. The beds were surrounded by heavy draperies to keep out cold drafts. Master and servants ceased to eat together in the same hall. In towns these mansions were entered through a gate through a row of shops on the street. A lesser dwelling would have these rooms on three floors over a shop on the first floor. An average Londoner would have a shop, a storeroom, a hall, a kitchen, and a buttery on the first floor, and three bedrooms on the second floor. Artisans and shopkeepers of more modest means lived in rows of dwellings, each with a shop and small storage room on the first floor, and a combination parlor-bedroom on the second floor. The humblest residents crowded their shop and family into one 6 by 10 foot room for rent of a few shillings a year. All except the last would also have a small garden. The best gardens had a fruit tree, herbs, flowers, a well, and a privy. There were common and public privies for those without their own. Kitchen slops and casual refuse continued to be thrown into the street. Floors of stone or planks were strewn with rushes. There was some tile flooring. Most dwellings had glass windows. Candles were used for lighting at night. Torches and oil-burning lanterns were portable lights. Furnishings were still sparse. Men sat on benches or joint stools and women sat on cushions on the floor. Hall and parlor had a table and benches and perhaps one chair. Bedrooms had a curtained bed and a chest. On the feather bed were pillows, blankets, and sheets. Better homes had wall hanging and cupboards displaying plate. Laundresses washed clothes in the streams, rivers, and public conduits. Country peasants still lived in wood, straw, and mud huts with earth floors and a smoky hearth in the center or a kitchen area under the eaves of the hut.

In 1442, bricks began to be manufactured in the nation and so there was more use of bricks in buildings. Chimneys were introduced into manor houses where stone had been too expensive. This was necessary if a second floor was added, so the smoke would not damage the floor above it and would eventually go out of the house.

Nobles and their retinue moved from manor to manor, as they had for centuries, to keep watch upon their lands and to consume the produce thereof; it was easier to bring the household to the estate than to transport the yield of the estate to the household. Also, at regular intervals sewage had to be removed from the cellar pits.

Jousting tournaments were held for entertainment purposes only and were followed by banquets of several courses of food served on dishes of gold, silver, pewter, or wood on a linen cloth covering the table. Hands were washed before and after the meal. People washed their faces every morning after getting up. Teeth were cleaned with powders. Fragrant leaves were chewed for bad breath. Garlic was used for indigestion and other ailments. Feet were rubbed with salt and vinegar to remove calluses. Good manners included not slumping against a post, fidgeting, sticking one's finger into one's nose, putting one's hands into one's hose to scratch the privy parts, spitting over the table or too far, licking one's plate, picking one's teeth, breathing stinking breath into the face of the lord, blowing on one's food, stuffing masses of bread into one's mouth, scratching one's head, loosening one's girdle to belch, and probing one's teeth with a knife.

Fishing and hunting were reserved for the nobility rather than just the King.

As many lords became less wealthy because of the cost of war, some peasants, villein and free, became prosperous, especially those who also worked at a craft, e.g. butchers, bakers, smiths, shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, and clothworkers.

An agricultural slump caused poorer soils to fall back into waste. The better soils were leased by peasants, who, with their families, were in a better position to farm it than a great lord, who found it hard to hire laborers at a reasonable cost. Further, peasants' sheep, hens, pigs, ducks, goats, cattle, bees, and crop made them almost self-sufficient in foodstuffs. They lived in a huddle of cottages, pastured their animals on common land, and used common meadows for hay-making. They subsisted mainly on boiled bacon, an occasional chicken, worts and beans grown in the cottage garden, and cereals. They wore fine wool cloth in all their apparel. Brimless hats were replacing hoods. They had an abundance of bed coverings in their houses. And they had more free time. Village entertainment included traveling jesters, acrobats, musicians, and bear- baiter. Playing games and gambling were popular pastimes.

Most villeins were now being called "customary tenants" or "copy-holders" of land because they held their acres by a copy of the court-roll of the manor, which listed the number of teams, the fines, the reliefs, and the services due to the lord for each landholder. The Chancery court interpreted many of these documents to include rights of inheritance. The common law courts followed the lead of the Chancery and held that copyhold land could be inherited as was land at common law. Evictions by lords decreased.

The difference between villein and free man lessened but landlords usually still had profits of villein bondage, such as heriot, merchet, and chevage.

A class of laborers was arising who depended entirely on the wages of industry for their subsistence. The cloth workers in rural areas were isolated and weak and often at the mercy of middle-men for employment and the amount of their wages.

Rural laborers went to towns to seek employment in the new industries. They would work at first for any rate. This deepened the cleavage of the classes in the towns.

The townspeople did not take part in the fighting of the War of the Roses. Many boroughs sought and obtained formal incorporation with perpetual existence, the right to sue and be sued in their own name. Often, a borough would have its own resident Justice of the Peace. Each incorporation involved a review by a Justice of the Peace to make sure the charter of incorporation rule didn't conflict with the law of the nation. Henry IV granted the first charter of incorporation. A borough typically had a mayor accompanied by his personal sword-bearer and serjeants-at-mace bearing the borough regalia, bailiffs, a sheriff, and chamberlains or a steward for financial assistance. At many boroughs, aldermen, assisted by their constables, kept the peace in their separate wards. There might be coroners, a recorder, and a town clerk, with a host of lesser officials including beadles, aletasters, sealers, searchers [inspectors], weighers and keepers of the market, ferrymen and porters, clock-keepers and criers, paviors [maintained the roads], scavengers and other street cleaners, gatekeepers and watchmen of several ranks and kinds. A wealthy borough would have a chaplain and two or three minstrels.

In all towns, the wealthiest and most influential guilds were the merchant traders of mercers, drapers, grocers, and goldsmiths. From their ranks came most of the mayors. Next came the shopholders of skinners, tailors, ironmongers, and corvisors [shoemakers]. Thirdly came the humbler artisans, the sellers of victuals, small shopkeepers, apprentices, and journeymen on the rise. Lastly came unskilled laborers, who lived in crowded tenements and hired themselves out. The first three groups were the free men who voted, paid the scot and lot, and belonged to guilds.

In the towns, many married women had independent businesses and wives also played an active part in the businesses of their husbands. Wives of well-to-do London merchants embroidered, sewed jewelry onto clothes, and made silk garments. Widows often continued in their husband's businesses, such as managing a large import-export trade, tailoring, brewing, and metal shop. Socially lower women often ran their own breweries, bakeries, and taverns. It was possible for wives to be free burgesses in their own right in some towns.

Some ladies were patrons of writers. Some women were active in prison reform in matters of reviews to insure that no man was in jail without due cause, overcharges for bed and board, brutality, and regulation of prisoners being placed in irons. Many men and women left money in their wills for food and clothing for prisoners.

There was much overlapping in the two forms of association: the craft guild and the religious fraternity.

Paved roads in towns were usually gravel and sometimes cobble. They were frequently muddy because of rain and spillage of water being carried. Iron-shod wheels and overloaded carts made them very uneven. London was the first town with paviors. They repaired and cleaned the streets. Pot-holes were usually just filled up with wood chips and compacted with hand rams. They were organized as a city company in 1479. About 1482, towns besides London began appointing salaried road paviors to repair roads and collect their expenses from the householders because the policy of placing the burden on individual householders didn't work well. London streets were lighted at night by public lanterns, under the direction of the mayor. There were fire-engines composed of a circular cistern with a pump and six feet of inflexible hose on wheels pulled by two men on one end and pushed by two men on the other end.

The King granted London all common soils, improvements, wastes, streets, and ways in London and in the adjacent waters of the Thames River and all the profits and rents to be derived therefrom. Later the King granted London the liberty to purchase lands and tenements worth up to 2,667 s. yearly. Each ward nominated two men for alderman, the final choice being made by the mayor and the other aldermen.

There were many craft guilds. In fact, every trade of twenty men had its own guild. The guild secured good work for its members and the members maintained the reputation of the work standards of the guild. Bad work was punished and night work prohibited as leading to bad work. The guild exercised moral control over its members and provided sickness and death benefits for them. Apprentices were taken in to assure an adequate supply of competent workers for the future. When these apprentices had enough training they were made journeymen with a higher rate of pay. Journeymen traveled to see the work of their craft in other towns. Those journeymen rising to master had the highest pay rate.

But the guilds were being replaced by associations for the investment of capital. In associations, journeymen were losing their chance of rising to be a master. Competition among associations was starting to supplant custom as the mainspring of trade.

The Merchant Adventurers was chartered in 1407. A share in the ownership of one of their vessels was a common form of investment by prosperous merchants. By 1450, they were dealing in linen cloths, buckrams [a stiffened, coarse cloth], fustians [coarse cloth made of cotton threads going in one direction and linen threads the other], satins, jewels, fine woolen and linen wares, threads, drugs, wood, oil, wine, salt, copper, and iron. They began to replace trade by alien traders. (The history of the "Merchant Adventurers" was associated with the growth of the mercantile system for more than 300 years. It eventually replaced the staples system.)

In London, shopkeepers appealed to passers-by to buy their goods, sometimes even seizing people by the sleeve. The drapers had several roomy shops containing shelves piled with cloths of all colors and grades, tapestries, pillows, and 'bankers and dorsers' to soften hard wooden benches. A rear storeroom held more cloth for import or export. Many shops of skinners were on Fur Row. There were shops of leather-sellers, hosiers, gold and silver cups, and silks. At the Stocks Market were fishmongers, butchers, and poulterers. The Fishmongers were incorporated in 1433, the Cordwainers in 1439, and the Pewterers in 1468. London grocers imported spices, canvas, ropery, drugs, unguents, soap, confections, garlic, cabbages, onions, apples, oranges, almonds, figs, dates, raisins, dye- stuffs, woad, madder, scarlet grains, saffron, iron, and steel. They were retailers as well as wholesalers and had shops selling honey, licorice, salt, vinegar, rice, sugar loaves, syrups, spices, garden seeds, dyes, alum, soap, brimstone, paper, varnish, canvas, rope, musk, incense, treacle of Genoa, and mercury. The Grocers did some money-lending, usually at 12% interest. The guilds did not restrict themselves to dealing in the goods for which they had a right of inspection, and so many dealt in wine that it was a medium of exchange. There was no sharp distinction between retail and wholesale trading.

Grocers sold herbs for medicinal as well as eating purposes. Breadcarts sold penny wheat loaves. Foreigners set up stalls on certain days of the week to sell meat, canvas, linen, cloth, ironmongery, and lead. There were great houses, churches, monasteries, inns, guildhalls, warehouses, and the King's Beam for weighing wool to be exported. The Mercers and Goldsmiths were in the prosperous part of town. The Goldsmiths' shops sold gold and silver plate, jewels, rings, water pitchers, drinking goblets, basins to hold water for the hands, and covered saltcellars. The grain market was on Cornhill. Halfway up the street, there was a supply of water which had been brought up in pipes. On the top was a cage where riotous folk had been incarcerated by the night watch and the stocks and pillory, where fraudulent schemers were exposed to ridicule.

Outside the London city walls were tenements, Smithfield cattle market, Westminster Hall, green fields of crops, and some marsh land.

On the Thames River to London were large ships with cargos; small boats rowed by tough boatmen offering passage for a penny; small private barges of great men with carved wood, gay banners, and oarsmen with velvet gowns; the banks covered with masts and tackle; the nineteen arch London Bridge supporting a street of shops and houses and a drawbridge in the middle; quays; warehouses, and great cranes lifting bales from ship to wharf. Merchant guilds which imported or exported each had their own wharves and warehouses. Downstream, pirates hung on gallows at the low-water mark to remain until three tides had overflowed their bodies.

The large scale of London trade promoted the specialization of the manufacturer versus the merchant versus the shipper. Merchants had enough wealth to make loans to the government or for new commercial enterprises. Some London merchants were knighted by the King. Many bought country estates and turned themselves into gentry.

In schools, there was a renaissance of learning from original sources of knowledge written in Greek and rebirth of the Greek pursuit of the truth and scientific spirit of inquiry. There was a striking increase in the number of schools founded by wealthy merchants or town guilds. Merchants tended to send their sons to private boarding schools, instead of having them tutored at home as did the nobility. Well-to-do parents still sent sons to live in the house of some noble to serve them as pages in return for being educated with the noble's son by the household priest. They often wore their master's coat of arms and became their squires as part of their knightly education. At the universities, the bachelor's degree came into existence to denote a preliminary stage in the course of becoming a master.

The book "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was written about an incident in the court of King Arthur and Queen Guenevere in which a green knight challenges Arthur's knights to live up to their reputation for valor and awesome deeds. The knight Gawain answers the challenge, but is shown that he could be false and cowardly when death seemed to be imminent. Thereafter, he wears a green girdle around his waist to remind him not to be proud.

Other literature read included "London Lickpenny", a satire on London and its expensive services and products, "Fall of Princes" by John Lydgate, social history by Thomas Hoccleve, "The King is Quair"" by King James I of Scotland about how he fell in love, "The Cuckoo and the Nightengale", and "The Flower and Leaf" on morality as secular common sense. Chaucer, Cicero, and Ovid were widely read. Malory's new version of the Arthurian stories was popular. Margery Kempe wrote the first true autobiography. She was a woman who had a normal married life with children, but one day had visions and voices which led her to leave her husband to take up a life of wandering and praying in holy possession. The common people developed ballads, e.g. about their love of the forest, their wish to hunt, and their hatred of the forest laws.

About 30% of the people could read English. Books were bought in London in such quantities by 1403 that the organization of text-letter writers, book-binders, and book sellers was sanctioned by ordinance. "Unto the honorable lords, and wise, the mayor and aldermen of the city of London, pray very humbly all the good folks, freemen of the said city, of the trades of writers of text-letter, limners [illuminator of books], and other folks of London who are wont to bind and to sell books, that it may please your great sagenesses to grant unto them that they may elect yearly two reputable men, the one a limner, the other a text-writer, to be wardens of the said trades, and that the names of the wardens so elected may be presented each year before the mayor for the time being, and they be there sworn well and diligently to oversee that good rule and governance is had and exercised by all folks of the same trades in all works unto the said trades pertaining, to the praise and good fame of the loyal good men of the said trades and to the shame and blame of the bad and disloyal men of the same. And that the same wardens may call together all the men of the said trades honorably and peacefully when need shall be, as well for the good rule and governance of the said city as of the trades aforesaid. And that the same wardens, in performing their due office, may present from time to time all the defaults of the said bad and disloyal men to the chamberlain at the Guildhall for the time being, to the end that the same may there, according to the wise and prudent discretion of the governors of the said city, be corrected, punished, and duly redressed. And that all who are rebellious against the said wardens as to the survey and good rule of the same trades may be punished according to the general ordinance made as to rebellious persons in trades of the said city [fines and imprisonment]. And that it may please you to command that this petition, by your sagenesses granted, may be entered of record for time to come, for the love of God and as a work of charity."

The printing press was brought to London in 1476 by a mercer: William Caxton. It supplemented the text-writer and monastic copyist. It was a wood and iron frame with a mounted platform on which were placed small metal frames into which words with small letters of lead had been set up. Each line of text had to be carried from the type case to the press. Beside the press were pots filled with ink and inking balls. When enough lines of type to make a page had been assembled on the press, the balls would be dipped in ink and drawn over the type. Then a sheet of paper would be placed on the form and a lever pulled to press the paper against the type. Linen usually replaced the more expensive parchment for the book pages.

The printing press made books more accessible to all literate people. Caxton printed major English texts and some translations from French and Latin. He commended different books to various kinds of readers, for instance, for gentlemen who understand gentleness and science, or for ladies and gentlewomen, or to all good folk. There were many cook books in use. There were eyeglasses to correct near-sightedness.

Old-established London families began to choose the law as a profession for their sons, in preference to an apprenticeship in trade. Many borough burgesses in Parliament were lawyers.

Many carols were sung at the Christian festival of Christmas. Ballads were sung on many features of social life of this age of disorder, hatred of sheriffs, but faith in the King. The legend of Robin Hood was popular. Town miracle plays on leading incidents of the Bible and morality plays were popular. Vintners portrayed the miracle of Cana where water was turned into wine and Goldsmiths ornately dressed the three Kings coming from the east. Short pantomimes and disguising, forerunners of costume parties, were good recreation. Games of cards became popular as soon as cards were introduced. The king, queen, and jack were dressed in contemporary clothes. Men bowled, kicked footballs, and played tennis. May Day was celebrated with crowns and garlands of spring flowers. The village May Day pageant was often presided over by Robin Hood and Maid Marion.

The church was engendering more disrespect. Monks and nuns had long ago resigned spiritual leadership to the friars; now the friars too lost much of their good fame. The monks got used to life with many servants such as cooks, butlers, bakers, brewers, barbers, laundresses, tailors, carpenters, and farm hands. The austerity of their diet had vanished. The schedule of divine services was no longer followed by many and the fostering of learning was abandoned. Into monasteries drifted the lazy and miserable. Nunneries had become aristocratic boarding houses. The practice of taking sanctuary was abused; criminals and debtors sought it and were allowed to overstay the 40-day restriction and to leave at night to commit robberies. People turned to the writing of mystics, such as "Scale of Perfection" and "Cloud of Unknowing", the latter describing how one may better know God.

People relied on saint's days as reference points in the year, because they did not know dates of the year. But townspeople knew the hour and minute of each day, because mechanical clocks were in all towns and in the halls of the well- to-do. This increased the sense of punctuality and higher standards of efficiency.

Important news was announced and spread by word of mouth in market squares and sometimes in churches. As usual, traders provided one of the best sources of news; they maintained an informal network of speedy messengers and accurate reports because political changes so affected their ventures.

A royal post service was established by relays of mounted messengers. The first route was between London and the Scottish border, where there were frequent battles for land between the Scotch and English.

The inland roads from town to town were still rough and without signs. A horseman could make up to 40 miles a day. Common carriers took passengers and parcels from various towns to London on scheduled journeys. Now the common yeoman could order goods from the London market, communicate readily with friends in London, and receive news of the world frequently. Trade with London was so great and the common carrier so efficient in transporting goods that the medieval fair began to decline. First the Grocers and then the Mercers refused to allow their members to sell goods at fairs. There was much highway robbery. Most goods were still transported by boats along the coasts, with trading at the ports.

Embroidery was exported. Imported were timber, pitch, tar, potash [for cloth- dying], furs, silk, satin, gold cloth, damask cloth, furred gowns, gems, fruit, spices, and sugar. Imports were restricted by national policy for the purpose of protecting native industries.

English single-masted ships began to be replaced by two or three masted ships with high pointed bows to resist waves and sails enabling the ship to sail closer to the wind. 200 tuns was the usual carrying capacity. The increase in trade made piracy, even by merchants, profitable and frequent until merchant vessels began sailing in groups for their mutual protection. The astrolabe was used for navigation by the stars.

Consuls were appointed to assist English traders abroad.

Henry IV appointed the first admiral of the entire nation and resolved to create a national fleet of warships instead of using merchant ships. In 1417, the war navy had 27 ships. In 1421, Portsmouth was fortified as a naval base.

For defense of the nation, especially the safeguard of the seas, Parliament allotted the King for life, 3s. for every tun of wine imported and an additional 3s. for every tun of sweet wine imported.

The most common ailments were eye problems, aching teeth, festering ears, joint swelling and sudden paralysis of the bowels. Epidemics broke out occasionally in the towns in the summers. Leprosy disappeared.

Hospitals were supported by a tax of the King levied on nearby counties. The walls, ditches, gutters, sewers, and bridges on waterways and the coast were kept in repair by laborers hired by commissions appointed by the Chancellor. Those who benefited from these waterways were taxed for the repairs in proportion to their use thereof.

Alabaster was sculptured into tombs surmounted with a recumbent effigy of the deceased, and effigies of mourners on the sides. Few townsmen choose to face death alone and planned memorial masses to be sung to lift his soul beyond Purgatory. Chantries were built by wealthy men for this purpose.

Gold was minted into coins: noble, half noble, and farthing.

The commons gained much power in Parliament under Henry IV because he needed so much taxes that the commons had a hold over him. Also, as a usurper King, he did not carry the natural authority of a King. The lords who helped his usurpation felt they should share the natural power of the kingship. Also, the commons gained power compared to the nobility because many nobles had died in war. Shakespeare's histories deal with this era. The Commons now has a speaker.

The Commons established an exclusive right to originate all money grants to the King in 1407. The commons announced its money grant only on the last day of the parliamentary session, after the answers to its petitions had been declared. It tied its grants by rule rather than just practice to certain appropriations. For instance, tonnage and poundage were appropriated for naval defenses. Wool customs went to the maintenance of Calais, a port on the continent, and defense of the nation. It also put the petitions in statutory form, called "bills", to be enacted without alteration. It forced the King's council appointees to be approved by Parliament, and auditors to be appointed to audit the King's account to ensure past grants had been spent according to their purpose.

This was the first encroachment on the King's right to summon, prorogue, or dismiss a Parliament at his pleasure, determine an agenda of Parliament, veto or amend its bills, exercise his discretion as to which lords he summoned to Parliament, and create new peers by letters patent [official public letters].

The King lost Parliamentary power. The magnates asserted that their attendance at one Parliament established a hereditary right to attend the others. The consent of the Commons to legislation became so usual that the judges declared that it was necessary. In 1426, the retainers of the barons in Parliament were forbidden to bear arms, so they appeared with clubs on their shoulders. The clubs were forbidden and they brought in stones concealed in their clothing.

The authority of the King's privy seal had become a great office of state which transmitted the King's wishes to the Chancery and Exchequer, rather than the King's personal instrument for sealing documents. Now the King used a signet kept by his secretary as his personal seal. The position of secretary rose in power under Edward IV.

King Edward IV introduced an elaborate spy system, the use of the rack to torture people to confess, and other interferences with justice, all of which the Tudors later used.

King Richard III prohibited the seizure of goods before conviction of felony. He also liberated the unfree villeins on royal estates.

It was declared under Parliamentary authority that there was a preference for the Crown to pass to a King's eldest son, and to his male issue after him. Formerly, a man could ascend to the throne through his female ancestry as well.

The Law

The forcible entry statute is expanded to include peaceful entry with forcible holding afterwards and to forcible holding with departure before the justices arrived. Penalties are triple damages, fine, and ransom to the King. A forceful possession lasting three years is exempt.

Women of age fourteen or over shall have livery of their lands and tenements by inheritance without question or difficulty.

Purposely cutting out another's tongue or putting out another's eyes is a felony [penalty of loss of all property].

No one may keep swans unless he has lands and tenements of the estate of freehold to a yearly value of 67s., because swans of the King, lords, knights, and esquires have been stolen by yeomen and husbandmen.

The wage ceiling for servants is: bailiff of agriculture 23s.4d. per year, and clothing up to 5s., with meat and drink; chief peasant, a carter, chief shepherd 20s. and clothing up to 4s., with meat and drink; common servant of agriculture 15s., and clothing up to 3s.4d.; woman servant 10s., and clothing up to 4s., with meat and drink; infant under fourteen years 6s., and clothing up to 3s., with meat and drink. Such as deserve less or where there is a custom of less, that lesser amount shall be given.

For laborers at harvest time: mower 4d. with meat and drink or 6d. without; reaper or carter: 3d. with or 5d. without; woman laborer and other laborers: 2d with and 4d. without.

The ceiling wage rate for craftsmen per day is: free mason or master carpenter 4d. with meat & drink or 5d. without; master tiler or slater, rough mason, and mesne carpenter and other artificiers in building 3d. with meat and drink or 4d. without; every other laborer 2d. with meat and drink or 3d. without. In winter the respective wages were less: mason category: 3d. with or 4d. without; master tiler category: 2d. with or 4d. without; others: 1d. with or 3d. without meat and drink.

Any servant of agriculture who is serving a term with a master and covenants to serve another man at the end of this term and that other man shall notify the master by the middle of his term so he can get a replacement worker. Otherwise, the servant shall continue to serve the first master.

No man or woman may put their son or daughter to serve as an apprentice in a craft within any borough, but may send the child to school, unless he or she has land or rent to the value of 20s. per year. [because of scarcity of laborers and other servants of agriculture]

No laborer may be hired by the week.

Masons may no longer congregate yearly, because it has led to violation of the statute of laborers.

No games may be played by laborers because they lead to murders and robberies.

Apparel worn must be appropriate to one's status to preserve the industry of agriculture. The following list of classes shows the lowest class, which could wear certain apparel:

1. Lords - gold cloth, gold corses, sable fur, purple silk

2. Knights - velvet, branched satin, ermine fur

3. Esquires and gentlemen with possessions to the value of 800 s. per year, daughters of a person who has possessions to the value of 2,000s. a year - damask, silk, kerchiefs up to 5s. in value.

4. Esquires and gentlemen with possessions to the yearly value of 800s. 40 pounds - fur of martron or letuse, gold or silver girdles, silk corse not made in the nation, kerchief up to 3s.4d in value

5. Men with possessions of the yearly value of 40s. excluding the above three classes - fustian, bustian, scarlet cloth in grain

6. Men with possessions under the yearly value of 40s. excluding the first three classes - black or white lamb fur, stuffing of wool, cotton, or cadas.

7. Yeomen - cloth up to the value of 2s., hose up to the value of 14s., a girdle with silver, kerchief up to 12d.

8. Servants of agriculture, laborer, servant, country craftsman - none of the above clothes

Gowns and jackets must cover the entire trunk of the body, including the private parts. Shoes may not have pikes over two inches.

Every town shall have at its cost a common balance with weights according to the standard of the Exchequer. All citizens may weigh goods for free. All cloth to be sold shall be sealed according to this measure.

There is a standard bushel of grain throughout the nation.

There are standard measures for plain tile, roof tile, and gutter tile throughout the nation.

No gold or silver may be taken out of the nation.

The price of silver is fixed at 30s. for a pound, to increase the value of silver coinage, which has become scarce due to its higher value when in plate or masse.

A designee of the King will inspect and seal cloth with lead to prevent deceit. Cloth may not be tacked together before inspection. No cloth may be sold until sealed.

Heads of arrows shall be hardened at the points with steel and marked with the mark of the arrowsmith who made it, so they are not faulty.

Shoemakers and cordwainers may tan their leather, but all leather must be inspected and marked by a town official before it is sold.

Cordwainers shall not tan leather [to prevent deceitful tanning]. Tanners who make a notorious default in leather which is found by a cordwainer shall make a forfeiture.

Defective embroidery for sale shall be forfeited.

No fishing net may be fastened or tacked to posts, boats, or anchors, but may be used by hand, so that fish are preserved and vessels may pass.

No one may import any articles which could be made in the nation, including silks, bows, woolen cloths, iron and hardware goods, harness and saddlery, and excepting printed books.

The following merchandise shall not be brought into the nation already wrought: woolen cloth or caps, silk laces, ribbons, fringes, and embroidery, gold laces, saddles, stirrups, harnesses, spurs, bridles, gridirons, locks, hammers, fire tongs, dripping pans, dice, tennis balls, points, purses, gloves, girdles, harness for girdles of iron steel or of tin, any thing wrought of any treated leather, towed furs, shoes, galoshes, corks, knives, daggers, woodknives, thick blunt needles, sheers for tailors, scissors, razors, sheaths, playing cards, pins, pattens [wooden shoes on iron supports worn in wet weather], pack needles, painted ware, forcers, caskets, rings of copper or of gilt sheet metal, chaffing dishes, hanging candlesticks, chaffing balls, Mass bells, rings for curtains, ladles, skimmers, counterfeit felt hat moulds, water pitchers with wide spouts, hats, brushes, cards for wool, white iron wire, upon pain of their forfeiture. One half this forfeiture goes to the King and the other half to the person seizing the wares.

No sheep may be exported, because being shorn elsewhere would deprive the King of customs.

No wheat, rye, or barley may be imported unless the prices are such that national agriculture is not hurt.

Clothmakers must pay their laborers, such as carders and spinsters, in current coin and not in pins and girdles and the like.

The term "freemen" in the Magna Carta includes women.

The election of a knight from a shire to go to Parliament shall be proclaimed by the sheriff in the full county so all may attend and none shall be commanded to do something else at that time. Election results will be sealed and sent to Parliament.

To be elected to Parliament, a knight must reside in the county and have free land or tenements to the value of 40s. per year, because participation in elections of too many people of little substance or worth had led to homicides, assaults, and feuds. (These "yeomen" were about one sixth of the population. Most former voters and every leaseholder and every copyholder were excluded. The requirement lasted for 400 years.)

London ordinances forbade placing rubbish or dung in the Thames River or any town ditch or casting water or anything else out of a window. The roads were maintained with tolls on carts and horses bringing victuals or grains into the city and on merchandise unloaded from ships at the port. No carter shall drive his cart more quickly when it is unloaded than when it is loaded. No pie bakers shall sell beef pies as venison pies, or make any meat pie with entrails. To assist the poor, bread and ale shall be sold by the farthing.

Desertion by a soldier is penalized by forfeiture of all land and property.

The common law held that a bailee is entitled to possession against all persons except the owner of the bailed property.

Former judge Sir Thomas Littleton wrote a legal textbook describing tenancies in dower; the tenures of socage, knight's service, serjeanty, and burgage; estates in fee simple, fee tail, and fee conditional. For instance, "Also, if feoffment be made upon such condition, that if the feoffor pay to the feofee at a certain day, etc., 800s. forty pounds of money, that then the feoffor may re-enter, etc., in this case the feoffee is called tenant in mortgage, … and if he doth not pay, then the land which he puts in pledge upon condition for the payment of the money is gone from him for ever, and so dead as to the tenant, etc."

Joint tenants are distinguished from tenants in common by Littleton thus: "Joint-tenants are, as if a man be seised of certain lands or tenements, etc., and thereof enfeoffeth two, or three, or four, or more, to have and to hold to them (and to their heirs, or letteth to them) for term of their lives, or for term of another's life; by force of which feoffment or lease they are seised, such are joint-tenants. … And it is to be understood, that the nature of joint-tenancy is, that he that surviveth shall have solely the entire tenancy, according to such estate as he hath, …" "Tenants in common are they that have lands or tenements in fee-simple, fee-tail, or for term of life, etc., the which have such lands and tenements by several title, and not by joint title, and neither of them knoweth thereof his severalty, but they ought by the law to occupy such lands or tenements in common pro indiviso, to take the profits in common. …As if a man enfeoff two joint-tenants in fee, and the one of them alien that which to him belongeth to another in fee, now the other joint-tenant and the alienee are tenants in common, because they are in such tenements by several titles, …"

Judicial Procedure

People took grievances outside the confines of the rigid common law to the Chancellor, who could give equitable remedies under authority of a statute of 1285 (described in Chapter 8). The Chancery heard many cases of breach of faith in the "use", a form of trust in which three parties were involved: the holder of land, feofees to whom the holder had made it over by conveyance or "bargain and sale", and the beneficiary or receiver of the profits of the land, who was often the holder, his children, relatives, friends, an institution, or a corporation. This system of using land had been created by the friars to get around the prohibition against holding property. Lords and gentry quickly adopted it. The advantages of the use were that 1) there was no legal restriction to will away the beneficial interest of the use although the land itself could not be conveyed by will; 2) it was hard for the King to collect feudal incidents because the feoffees were often unknown 3) the original holder was protected from forfeiture of his land in case of conviction of treason if the Crown went to someone he had not supported. Chancery gave a remedy for dishonest or defaulting feofees.

Chancery also provided the equitable relief of specific performance in disputes over agreements, for instance, conveyance of certain land, whereas the common law courts awarded only monetary damages by the writ of covenant.

Chancery ordered accounts to be made in matters of foreign trade because the common law courts were limited to accounts pursuant to transactions made within the nation. It also involved itself in the administration of assets and accounting of partners to each other.

The Chancellor took jurisdiction of cases of debt, detinue, and account which had been decided in other courts with oathhelping by the defendant. He did not trust the reliance on friends of the defendant swearing that his statement made in his defense was true. An important evidentiary difference between procedures of the Chancery and the common law courts was that the Chancellor could orally question the plaintiff and the defendant under oath. He also could order persons to appear at his court by subpoena [under pain of punishment, such as a heavy fine].

Whereas the characteristic award of the common law courts was seisin of land or monetary damages, Chancery often enjoined certain action. Because malicious suits were a problem, the Chancery identified such suits and issued injunctions against taking them to any court.

The Chancery was given jurisdiction by statute over men of great power taking by force women who had lands and tenements or goods and not setting them free unless they bound themselves to pay great sums to the offenders or to marry them. A statute also gave Chancery jurisdiction over servants taking their masters' goods at his death.

Justices of the Peace, appointed by the Crown, investigated all riots and arrested rioters, by authority of statute. If they had departed, the Justices certified the case to the King. The case was then set for trial first before the King and his council and then at the King's Bench. If the suspected rioters did not appear at either trial, they could be convicted for default of appearance. If a riot was not investigated and the rioters sought, the Justice of the Peace nearest forfeited 2,000s. Justices of the peace were not paid and need not have a legal background. For complex cases and criminal cases with defendants of high social status, they deferred to the Justices of Assize, who rode on circuit once or twice a year.

Manor courts still formally admitted new tenants, registered titles, sales of land and exchanges of land, and commutation of services, enrolled leases and rules of succession, settled boundary disputes, and regulated the village agriculture.

All attorneys shall be examined by the royal judges for their learnedness in the law and, at their discretion, those that are good and virtuous shall be received to make any suit in any royal court. The attorneys shall be sworn to serve well and truly in their offices.

Attorneys may plead on behalf of parties in the hundred courts.

A qualification for jurors was to have an estate to one's own use or one of whom other persons have estates of fee simple, fee tail, freehold in lands and tenements, or freehold, which was at least 40s. per year in value. In a plea of land worth at least 40s. yearly or a personal plea with relief sought at least 800s., jurors had to have land in the bailiwick to the value of at least 400s., because perjury was considered less likely in the more sufficient men.

Jurors were separated from witnesses.

Justices of the Peace were to have lands worth 267s. yearly, because those with less used the office for extortion and lost the respect and obedience of the people.

A Sheriff was not to arrest, but to transfer indictments to the Justices of the Peace of the county. He had to reside in his bailiwick. The sheriff could be sued for misfeasance such as bribery in the King's court.

Court of "Pie Powder" [French pie poudre: dust on the feet] were established at the great fairs to decide conflicts of commercial law there.

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