Chapter 9

S. A. Reilly

The Times: 1348-1399

Waves of the black death, named for the black spots on the body, swept over the nation. The first wave of this plague, in 1348, decimated the population by about one half in the towns and one third in the country. People tried to avoid the plague by flight. The agony and death of so many good people caused some question their belief in God. Also, it was hard to understand why priests who fled were less likely to die than priests who stayed with the dying to give them the last rites. Thus begins a long period of disorganization, unrest, and social instability. Customary ways were so upset that authority and tradition were no longer automatically accepted. Fields lay waste and sheep and cattle wandered over the countryside. Local courts could not be held. Some monasteries in need of cash sold annuities to be paid in the form of food, drink, clothing, and lodging during the annuitant's life, and sometimes that of his widow also. Guilds and rich men made contributions to the poor and ships with provisions were sent to various parts of the country for the relief of starving people.

Farm workers were so rare that they were able to demand wages at double or triple the pre-plague rate. Prices did not go up nearly as much. The villeins had become nomadic, roaming from place to place, seeking day work for good wages where they could get it, and resorting to thievery on the highways or beggary where they could not. The Robin Hood legends were popular among them.

They spread political songs among each other, such as: "To seek silver to the King, I my seed sold; wherefore my land lieth fallow and learneth to sleep. Since they fetched my fair cattle in my fold; when I think of my old wealth, well nigh I weep. Thus breedeth many beggars bold; and there wakeneth in the world dismay and woe, for as good is death anon as so for to toil."

Groups of armed men took lands, manors, goods, and women by force. The villeins agreed to assist each other in resisting by force their lords' efforts to return them to servitude. Justices became afraid to administer the law. Villeins, free peasants, and craftsmen joined together and learned to use the tactics of association and strikes against their employers.

The office of Justice of the Peace was created for every county to deal with rioting and vagrants. Cooperation by officials of other counties was mandated to deal with fugitives from its justice.

When there were attempts to enforce the legal servitude of the villeins, they spread rhymes of their condition and need to revolt. A secret league, called the "Great Society" linked the centers of intrigue. A poll tax for a war with France touched off a riot all over the nation in 1381. This tax included people not taxed before, such as laborers, the village smith, and the village tiler. By this time, the black death had reduced the population from 5 million to 2 1/2 million. It was to rise to 4 million by 1600.

Mobs overran the counties around London. The upper classes fled to the woods. But the Chief Justice was murdered while fleeing. Written records of the servitude of villeins were burned in their halls, which were also looted. Prisoners were released from jails. The archbishop, who was a notoriously exploitive landlord, and the Treasurer were beheaded on Tower Hill and their heads were posted over London Bridge. The villeins demanded that service to a lord be by agreement instead of by servitude, a ceiling on rents of 4d. per acre yearly, abolition of a lord's right for their work on demand (e.g. just before a hail storm so only his crops were saved), and the right to hunt and fish.

The revolt was suppressed and its leaders punished. Also, the duty to deal with rioting and vagrants was given to royal judges, sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, and constables as well as the Justices of the Peace. There was a high constable in each hundred and a petty constable in each parish. Justices of the peace could swear in neighbors as unpaid special constables when disorder broke out.

The sheriff was responsible for seeing that men of the lower classes were organized into groups of ten for police and surety purposes, and for holding of hundred and shire courts, arresting suspects, guarding prisoners awaiting trial, carrying out the penalties adjudged by the courts, and collecting Crown revenue through his bailiffs. Royal writs were addressed to the sheriff. Because many sheriffs had taken fines and ransoms for their own use, a term limit of one year was imposed. Sheriffs, hundreders, and bailiffs had to have lands in the same shires or bailiwicks [so they could be held answerable to the King].

Efforts were made to keep laborers at the plough and cart rather than learn a craft or entering and being educated by the church. The new colleges at the universities ceased to accept villeins as students.

Due to the shortage of labor, landlords' returns had decreased from about 20% to 5%. But some found new methods of using land that were more profitable than the customary services of villeins who had holdings of land or the paid labor of practically free men who paid a money rent for land holdings. One method was to turn the land to sheep-breeding. Others leased their demesne land, which transferred the burden of getting laborers from the landlord to the lessor- tenant. The payment was called a "farm" and the tenant a "farmer". First, there were stock-and-land leases, in which both the land and everything required to cultivate it were let together. After 50 years, when the farmers had acquired assets, there were pure land leases. The commutation of labor services into a money payment developed into a general commutation of all services. Lords in need of money gladly sold manumissions to their villeins. The lord and lady of some manors now ate by themselves in a private parlor with a fireplace of its own and the great hall was deserted.

Some farmers achieved enough wealth to employ others as laborers on their farms. The laborers lived with their employer in his barn, sleeping on hay in the loft, or in mud huts outside the barn. The farmer's family lived at one end of the barn around an open fire. Their possessions typically were: a chest, a trestle table, benches, stools, an iron or bronze cauldron and pots, brooms, wooden platters, wooden bowls, spoons, knives, wooden or leather jugs, a salt box, straw mattresses, wool blankets, linen towels, iron tools, rushlightholders, and livestock. Some farmers could afford to have a wooden four-posted bedstead, hens, geese, pigs, a couple of cows, a couple of sheep, or two plow oxen. They ate dark bread and beans and drank water from springs. Milk and cheese were a luxury for them. Farming still occupied the vast majority of the population. Town inhabitants and university students went into the fields to help with the harvest in the summer.

Town people had more wealth than country people. Most townspeople slept in nightgowns and nightcaps in beds with mattresses, blankets, linen sheets, and pillows. Beds were made every morning. Bathing was by sponging hot water from a basin over the body, sometimes with herbs in it, rinsing with a splash of warm water, and drying off with a towel. Tubs just for baths came into use. There were drapery-rugs hung around beds, hand-held mirrors of glass, and salt cellars. The first meal of the day was breakfast, which broke the fast lasting the night. Meals were often prepared according to recipes from cook books which involved several preparation procedures using flour, eggs, sugar, cheese, and grated bread, rather than just simple seasoning. Menus were put together with foods that tasted well together and served on plates in several courses. Table manners included not making sounds when eating, not playing with one's spoon or knife, not placing one's elbows on the table, keeping one's mouth clean with a napkin, and not being boisterous. There were courtesies such as saying "Good Morning" when meeting someone and not pointing one's finger at another person. King Richard II invented the handkerchief for sneezing and blowing one's nose. There were books on etiquette.

New burgesses were recruited locally, usually from within a 20 mile radius of town. Most of the freemen of the larger boroughs, like Canterbury and London, came from smaller boroughs. An incoming burgess was required to buy his right to trade either by way of a seven year apprenticeship or by payment of an entry fee. To qualify, he needed both a skill and social respectability.

Towns started acquiring from the King the right to vacant sites and other waste places, which previously was the lord's right. The perpetuality of towns was recognized by statutes of 1391, which compared town-held property to church-held property. The right of London to pass ordinances was confirmed by charter. Some towns had a town clerk, who was chief of full-time salaried officers. There was a guildhall to maintain, a weigh-house, prison, and other public buildings, municipal water supplies, wharves, cranes, quays, wash-houses, and public lavatories.

After the experience of the black death, some sanitary measures were taken. The notorious offenders in matters of public hygiene in the towns, such as the butchers, the fishmongers, and the leather tanners were assigned specific localities where their trades would do least harm. The smiths and potters were excluded from the more densely populated areas because they were fire risks. In the town of Salisbury, there was Butcher Row, Ox Row, Fish Row, Ironmongers' Row, Wheelwrights' Row, Smiths' Row, Pot Row, Silver Street, Cheese Market, and Wool Market.

Fresh water was brought into towns by pipe or open conduit as a public facility, in addition to having public wells. In London, a conduit piped water underground to a lead tank, from which it was delivered to the public by means of pipes and brass taps in the stone framework. This was London's chief water supply. Water carriers carried water in wooden devices on their backs to houses. The paving and proper drainage of the streets became a town concern. Building contracts began specifying the provision of adequate cesspits for the privies at town houses, whether the toilets were built into the house or as an outhouse. Also, in the better houses, there grew a practice of carting human and animal fecal matter at night to dung heaps outside the city walls. There was one public latrine in each ward and about twelve dung-carts for the whole city. Country manor houses had toilets on the ground floor and/or the basement level. Stairwells between floors had narrow and winding steps.

In London, the Goldsmiths, the Mercers, and the Saddlers became the first guilds to receive, in 1394-5, charters of incorporation, which gave them perpetual existence. As such they could hold land in "mortmain", thus depriving the King of rights that came to him on the death of a tenant-in-chief. They were called Livery Companies.

In all towns, the organization of craft associations spread rapidly downwards through the trades and sought self-government. Craft guilds were gaining much power relative to the old merchant guilds in governing the towns. The greater crafts such as the fishmongers, skinners, and the corders organized and ultimately were recognized by town authorities as self-governing craft guilds. The building trade guilds such as the tilers, carpenters, masons, and joiners, became important. Masons were still itinerant, going to sites of churches, public buildings, or commanded by the King to work on castles. The guild was not necessarily associated with a specific product. For instance, a saddle and bridle were the result of work of four crafts: joiner (woodworker), painter, saddler (leather), and lorimer (metal trappings).

In London in 1392 craft guilds included: baker, fishmonger (cut up and sold fish), fruiterer, brewer, butcher, bird dealer, cook, apothecary (sold drugs he had ground up), cutler (made knives and spoons), barber, tailor, shoemaker, glover (made gloves), skinner (sold furs), girdler (made girdles of cloth to wear around one's waist), pouchmaker, armorer, sheathmaker, weaver, fuller (made cloth full and dense), painter, carpenter, joiner (woodworker who finished interior woodwork such as doors and made furniture), tiler, mason (cut stone for buildings), smith (made metal tools for stonemasons and builders), tallow chandler (made candles and sometimes soap from the fat and grease the housewife supplied), wax chandler (made candles), stirrup maker, spurrier (made spurs), and hosteler (innkeeper). However, the merchant guilds of the goldsmiths, vintners (sold wine), mercers (sold cloth), grocers, and drapers (finished and sold English cloth) were still strong. The goldsmiths, tailors, skinners, and girdlers bought royal charters, which recognized their power of self-government as a company and their power to enforce their standards, perhaps throughout the country. Freemen in one company could practice the trade of another company. There were paint mills and saw mills replacing human labor. Women who spent their days spinning with the new spinning wheel were called "spinsters".

Many of the guilds bought sites on which they built a chapel, which was later used as a secular meeting place. The guild officers commonly included an alderman, stewards, a dean, and a clerk, who were elected. The guild officers sat as a guild court to determine discipline for offences such as false weights or measures or false workmanship or work and decided trade disputes. The brethren in guild fraternity were classified as masters, journeymen, or apprentices. They were expected to contribute to the support of the sick and impoverished in their fellowship. Their code required social action such as ostracizing a man of the craft who was living in adultery until he mended his ways.

The rules of the Company of Glovers were:

1. None but a freeman of the city shall make or sell gloves.

2. No glover may be admitted to the freedom of the city unless with the assent of the wardens of the trade.

3. No one shall entice away the servant of another.

4. If a servant in the trade makes away with his master's chattels to the value of 12d., the wardens shall make good the loss; and if the servant refuses to be judged by the wardens, he shall be taken before the mayor and aldermen.

5. No one may sell his goods by candle-light.

6. Any false work found shall be taken before the mayor and aldermen by the wardens.

7. All things touching the trade within the city between those who are not freemen shall be forfeited.

8. Journeymen shall be paid their present rate of wages.

9. Persons who entice away journeymen glovers to make gloves in their own houses shall be brought before the mayor and aldermen.

10. Any one of the trade who refuses to obey these regulations shall be brought before the mayor and aldermen.

Cordwainers [workers in soft cordovan leather from Spain, especially shoes] of good repute petitioned the city of London in 1375 for ordinances on their trade as follows:

'To the mayor and aldermen of the city of London pray the good folks of the trade of cordwainers of the same city, that it may please you to grant unto them the articles that follow, for the profit of the common people; that so, what is good and right may be done unto all manner of folks, for saving the honor of the city and lawfully governing the said trade.

In the first place - that if any one of the trade shall sell to any person shoes of bazen [sheep-skin tanned in oak or larch-bark] as being cordwain, or of calf- leather for ox-leather, in deceit of the common people, and to the scandal of the trade, he shall pay to the Chamber of the Guildhall, the first time that he shall be convicted thereof, forty pence; the second time, 7s. half a mark; and the third time the same, and further, at the discretion of the mayor and aldermen.

Also - that no one of the trade shall keep house within the franchise if he be not free [invested with the rights or privileges] of the city and one knowing his trade, and that no one shall be admitted to the freedom without the presence of the wardens of the trade bearing witness to his standing, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - if any one of the trade shall be found offending touching the trade, or rebellious against the wardens thereof, such person shall not make complaint to any one of another trade, by reason of the discord or dissension that may have arisen between them; but he shall be ruled by the good folks of his own trade. And if he shall differ from them as acting against right, then let the offense be adjudged upon before the mayor and aldermen; and if he be found rebellious against the ordinance, let him pay to the Chamber the sum above mentioned.

Also - that no one of the trade shall entice or purloin the servant of another from the service of his master by paying him more than is ordained by the trade, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that no one shall carry out of his house any wares connected with his trade for sale in market or elsewhere except only at a certain place situated between Soperesland and the Conduit; and that at a certain time of the day, that is to say, between prime [the first hour of the day] and noon. And that no shoes shall exceed the measure of seven inches, so that the wares may be surveyed by the good folks of the trade, because of the deceit upon the common people that might ensue and the scandal of the trade, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that no one shall expose his wares openly for sale in market on Sundays at any place, but only within his own dwelling to serve the common people, on the pain aforesaid.

Also - that if any one sells old shoes, he shall not mix new shoes among the old in deceit of the common people and to the scandal of the trade, on the pain aforesaid."

Smithfield was a field outside the city gates at which horses were sold and raced. In 1372, the horsedealers and drovers petitioned for a tax on animals sold there to pay for cleaning the field. The city ordinance reads as follows: "On Wednesday next after the Feast of St. Margaret the Virgin came reputable men, the horsedealers and drovers, and delivered unto the mayor and aldermen a certain petition in these words: 'To the mayor, recorder, and aldermen show the dealers of Smithfield, that is to say, the coursers and drovers, that for the amendment of the said field they have granted and assented among them that for the term of three years next ensuing after the date of this petition for every horse sold in the said field there shall be paid one penny, for every ox and cow one half-penny, for every eight sheep one penny, and for every swine one penny by the seller and the same by the purchaser who buys the same for resale.` Afterwards, on the eleventh day of August in the same year, Adam Fernham, keeper of the gaol at Newgate, Hugh, Averelle, bailiff of Smithfield, and William Godhewe, weaver, were chosen and sworn faithfully to collect and receive the said pennies in form aforesaid and to clean the field of Smithfield from time to time during such term of three years when necessary."

Many London houses were being made from stone and timber and even brick and timber, instead of just timber and mud. However, chimneys were still a luxury of the rich. There were windows of glass and a guild of glaziers was chartered by the King. Many single-roomed houses added a second-floor room for sleeping, which was approached by a wooden or stone staircase from the outside. Goods were displayed on a booth outside the door of the house or hung in the windows. They were stored at night in the cellar. Over the booths swung huge signs, which had to be nine feet above street level to allow a man on horseback to ride underneath. There were no sidewalks. Street repair work for wages was supervised by a stone master. The streets sloped down from the middle so that the filth of the streets would run down the sides of the road. People sometimes threw the rubbish from their houses onto the street although they were supposed to cart it outside the city walls and to clean the frontage of their houses once a week. Dustmen scavenged through the rubbish on the streets. Pigs and geese were not allowed to run at large in the streets, but had to be fed at home. There were other city rules on building, public order, the use of fountains, precautions against fire, trading rights in various districts, closing time of taverns, and when refuse could be thrown into the streets, e.g. nighttime.

Aldermen were constantly making rounds to test measures and weights, wine cups, the height of tavern signs, and the mesh of the fishing nets, which had to be at least two inches wide. They saw that the taverns were shut when curfew was rung and arrested anyone on the street after curfew who had a weapon, for no one with a sword was allowed on the streets unless he was some great lord or other substantial person of good reputation. Wards provided citizens to guard the gates in their respective neighborhood and keep its key.

The city was so dense that nuisance was a common action brought in court, for instance, vegetable vendors near a church obstructing passageway on the street or plumbers melting their solder with a lower than usual shalt of the furnace so smoke was inhaled by people nearby.

Crime in London was rare. Murder, burglary, highway robbery, and gross theft were punishable by hanging. Forgery, fraud, was punishable by the placement in the pillory or stocks or by imprisonment. Perjury was punished by confession from a high stool for the first offense, and the pillory for the second. Slander and telling lies was punished by the pillory and wearing a whetstone around one's neck.

Prominent Londoners sought to elevate their social position by having their family marry into rural landholders of position.

Many master freemasons, who carved freestone or finely grained sandstone and limestone artistically with mallet and chisel, left the country for better wages after their wages were fixed by statute. The curvilinear gothic style of architecture was replaced by the perpendicular style, which was simpler and cheaper to build. Church steeples now had clocks on them with dials and hands to supplement the church bell ringing on the hour.

Towns recognized surgery as a livelihood subject to admission and oath to serve the social good. Master surgeons were admitted to practice in 1369 in London in full husting before the mayor and the aldermen and swore to: faithfully serve the people in undertaking their cures, take reasonably from them, faithfully follow their calling, present to the said mayor and aldermen the defaults of others undertaking, so often as should be necessary; to be ready, at all times when they should be warned, to attend the maimed or wounded and others, to give truthful information to the officers of the city as to such maimed, wounded, or others whether they be in peril of death or not, and to faithfully do all other things touching their calling.

Some young girls of good families were boarded at nunneries to be taught there. Some upper class widows retired there. Only women were allowed to be present at a birth, at which they spread the knowledge of midwifery. As usual, many women died giving birth. Various ways to prevent pregnancy were tried. It was believed that a baby grew from a seed of the father planted in the woman's body.

Infant mortality was especially high in boroughs and burgess family lines usually died out. A three-generation family span was exceptional in the towns, despite family wealth.

Children's sweets included gingerbread and peppermint drops. After the plague, gentlemen no longer had their children learn to speak Norman. The grammar schools taught in English instead of Norman. Bishops began to preach in English. Twenty years later, English became the official language of the courts and of Parliament.

A will in 1389 in which a wealthy citizen arranges for one son to become a lawyer and the other a merchant: "Will of William de Tonge, citizen of London: One hundred marks [1,333s.] each to my two sons. And I will that my said two sons shall live upon the profits of the money bequeathed to them above until the age of twenty years. And if my said two sons be well learned in grammar and adorned with good manners, which shall be known at the end of twenty years, and the elder son wish to practice common law, and if it is known that he would spend his time well in that faculty, I will that over and above the profit of the said one hundred marks he shall have yearly from my rents for the term of seven years five marks [67s.]. And if he should waste his time aforesaid, or if he should marry foolishly and unsuitably, I will that he receive nothing more of the said five marks.

And if younger son wishes to attend the University of Oxford or to establish himself well in the mystery of a merchant after the age of twenty years, and [if] there be knowledge of his praiseworthy progress in his faculty or his carefulness in trading … I will that he shall receive five marks yearly in the manner described above for his maintenance, over and above the profit of the said one hundred marks to him bequeathed, for the space of seven years; and if he behave himself otherwise, I will that thereupon he be excluded from the said five marks. And in case the said bequest of 200 marks [2,667s.]to him and his brother shall be annulled so that he shall have nothing therefrom … then the said 200 marks shall be spent upon all the yearly chaplains who can be had to celebrate divine service in the church of All Hallows for my soul."

England was still an agricultural rather than a manufacturing country. Imported were cloth, silks, linen, velvets, furs, glass, wines, candles, millstones, amber, iron, and mercury. Exported were wool, leather, lead, tin, and alabaster for sculpturing. But the London Society of the Merchant Adventurers, which had a monopoly of trade with the Low Countries, now manufactured cloth good enough for export and began to buy up raw wool in such quantity that its export declined.

An Oxford theologian and preacher, John Wyclif, voiced the popular resentment of the materialism of the church, benefit of clergy, immorality of priests, and the selling of indulgences and pardons. He argued against the supremacy of the papal law over the King's courts and against payments to the papacy. He opined that the church had no power to excommunicate. The Friars had become mere beggars and the church was still wealthy. He proposed that all goods should be held in common by the righteous and that the church should hold no property but be entirely spiritual. He believed that people should rely on their individual consciences. He thought that the Bible should be available to people who could read English so that the people could have a direct access to God without priests or the Pope. Towards this end, he translated it from Latin into English in 1384. His preachers spread his views throughout the country. The church then possessed about one-third of the land of the nation.

Stories were written about pilgrimage vacations of ordinary people to religious sites in England. Geoffrey Chaucer's "Tales of the Canterbury Pilgrims" portrayed characters of every social class, including the knight with his squire, abbot, prioress, nun, priest, monk, friar, poor parson of the country, summoner (who enforced the jurisdiction and levied the dues of the church courts), pardoner (sold pardons from the Pope), scholar, lawyer, doctor, merchant, sailor, franklin, yeoman, haberdasher, tapestry-maker, ploughman, cook, weaver, dyer, upholsterer, miller, reeve, carpenter.

It told stories about a beautiful and virtuous wife disliked by her mother-in- law, the difficulty of marriage between people of different religions, the hatred of a poor person b his brother and his neighbor, rich merchants who visited other kingdoms, the importance of a man himself following the rules he sets for other people's behavior, the spite of a man for a woman who rejected him, the relative lack of enthusiasm of a wife for sex as compared to her husband, a mother giving up her own comfort for that of her child, the revenge killing of a murderer by the dead man's friends, the joy of seeing a loved one after years of separation, that life is more sad than happy, that lost money can be retrieved, but time lost is lost forever.

Other stories in the Canterbury Tales were about two men who did not remain friends after they fell in love with the same woman, about a child who preferred to learn from an older child than from his school-teacher, about a wife who convinced her husband not to avenge her beating for the sake of peace, about a man who woke up from bad dreams full of fear, about a man wanting to marry a beautiful woman but later realizing a plain wife would not be pursued by other men, about a man who drank so much wine that he lost his mental and physical powers, about a woman who married for money instead of love, about a man who said something in frustration which he didn't mean, about a person brought up in poverty who endured adversity better than one brought up in wealth, about a wife who was loving and wise, about a good marriage being more valuable than money, about a virgin who committed suicide rather than be raped, about a wife persuaded to adultery by a man who said he would otherwise kill himself, about three men who found a pile of gold and murdered each other to take it all, about an angry man who wanted to kill, about a malicious man who had joy in seeing other men in trouble and misfortune, about a man whose face turned red in shame, about a wife expecting to have half of what her husband owned.

Will Langland's poem "The Vision of William Concerning Piers Plowman" portrays a pilgrimage of common people to the shrine of Truth led by a virtuous laborer. Mystics wrote practical advice with transcendental teaching, for instance "Scale of Perfection" attributed to Walter Hilton and "Cloud of Unknowing". Richard Rolle wrote about spiritual matters, probably the "Prick of Conscience". Richard de Bury wrote "Philobiblon" about book lovers. Jean Froissart wrote the "Chronicles" on knights. Courtly ideals were expressed in "Sir Gawaine and the Grene Knyght", wherein the adventures of the hero, an Arthur knight, are allegorical in the struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil (1370). "Pearl" eulogized all that is pure and innocent on the event of the death of a two year old child. Paper supplemented parchment, so there were more books.

Political songs and poems were written about the evil times of King Edward II, the military triumphs of King Edward III, and the complaints of the poor against their oppressors, such as "Song of the Husbandman". John Gower wrote moralizing poems on the villein's revolt, the sins of the clergy and lawyers, and the bad rule of King Richard II. Robin Hood ballads were popular. The minstrel, who was a honorable person, replaced the troubadour of older times.

There were many colleges at Oxford and Cambridge due to the prohibition of gifts to the church. Laymen instead of ecclesiastics were appointed as Chancellor. The Masters at Oxford got rid of ecclesiastical supervision by a bishop and archdeacon by 1368. One could be admitted as a student at age thirteen.

A Bachelor of Arts degree was granted after four years of study and an oral exam. Required reading in 1340 for the Bachelor's Degree was Aristotlean logic and a selection from these works: "Of Heaven and Earth", "On the Soul", "Of meteors", "Of Birth and Decay", "Of Feeling and What is Felt", "Of Memory and Recollection", "Of Sleep and Waking", "Of the Movement of Animals", "Of Minor Points in Natural History".

A Master of Arts degree could be awarded after three more years of study and teaching. A Doctorate degrees in theology required ten more years of study. A Doctorate in civil or canon law required eight more years. A man with a degree in canon law who wanted to practice in a certain bishop's court had to first satisfy this bishop of his competence. The guilds gave rise to the Inns of Court in London. They used the Register of Writs, the case law of the Year Books, and disputation to teach their students.

For a doctorate in medicine from Oxford or Cambridge, five more years plus two years of practice were required. Surgery was not taught because it was considered manual labor. Humans were thought to be influenced by four humors: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. Urinalysis and pulse beat were used for diagnosis. Epilepsy and apoplexy were understood as spasms inside the head. It was known what substances served as laxatives and diuretics. Teeth were extracted, eye cataracts were removed with a silver needle, and skin from the arm was grafted onto a mutilated face.

Englishmen who had collected books on philosophy, medicine, astronomy, and history and literature books from the continent gave their collections to the universities, which started their libraries. Marco Polo's discoveries on his journey to China were known.

The requirements of elementary and higher studies were adjusted in 1393 and began the public school system. William of Wykeham's school, St. Mary College of Winchester in Oxford was the prototype. The curriculum was civil law, canon law, medicine, astronomy with astronomical instruments that were made, theology, and the arts. The arts textbooks were still grammar, logic, Donatus, and Aristotle. Many laymen were literate, for instance country gentry, merchants, and craftsmen. Laymen instead of clerics were now appointed to the great offices of state.

Parliament was composed of representatives from 100 boroughs and 37 shires. Merchants were entering Parliament and paid much of the taxes. Some were created Earls and appointed as ministers to the King. Edward III did not summon anyone to his council who did not have the confidence of the magnates [barons, earls, bishops, and abbots]. Under him, the commons took a leading part in the granting of taxes and the presentation of petitions.

At the 1376 Parliament, ("the Good Parliament") the Commons, which formerly had only consented to taxes, took political action by complaining that the King's councilors had grown rich by war profiteering at the cost of impoverishing the nation and the people were too poor to endure any more taxation for the war and held a hearing on malfeasance of two ministers. The Parliament found the charges proved and dismissed them from office. This established the constitutional means for impeachment and removal of ministers. The commons demanded that its members be elected by shire citizens rather than appointed by the sheriff. Actions of this Parliament were undone a few months later.

King Richard II exiled Henry of Lancaster, forbade his inheritance, and took his property. This made all propertied men anxious. The "Merciless Parliament" of 1388 swept out King Richard II's friends. Parliament threw Richard II into prison and elected Lancaster to be King Henry IV. This action established clearly that royal decrees were subordinate to parliamentary statutes. The House of Commons became very powerful.

So the roles of Parliament and the King's council are starting to differentiate into legislative and executive, respectively. The legislative function is law- making and the executive is regulation-making that refines and effectuates the laws of Parliament. But the legislative, executive and judicial authorities have not as yet become so completely separated that they cannot on occasion work together.

There was a standard form of direct taxation voted by Parliament, which was normally 1/10 of the value of all moveables in towns and royal domains and 1/15 in the country.

>From 1150 to 1400, resistance was an ordinary remedy for political disagreements. If a popular leader raised his standard in a popular cause, an irregular army could be assembled in a day. (There was no regular army, since England was protected by the sea from invasion.) So misgovernment by a King would be quickly restrained. Society recovered quickly from conflict and civil war because the national wealth consisted chiefly in flocks and herds and in the simple buildings inhabited by the people. In a week after armed resistance, the agricultural worker was driving his team. There was little furniture, stock of shops, manufactured goods, or machinery that could be destroyed.

The feudal army was summoned for the last time in the 100 year war with France, which began in 1337. In it the English longbow was used to pierce French knights' armor. Guns and cannon with gunpowder were introduced in 1338. They became common by 1372 and foresaw the end to the competition between the strength of arrows to pierce and the heaviness of armor to resist. Featherbeds and blooded horses were favorite spoils of war brought back to England. In th 1300s and 1400s, the King relied on mercenaries hired directly or by contract with his great nobles for foreign wars.

Many lords got men to fight with them by livery and maintenance employment agreements such as this one of 1374: "Bordeaux, February 15. This indenture, made between our lord King John [of Gaunt, of Castile, etc.] of the one part and Symkyn Molyneux, esquire, of the other part, witnesses that the said Symkyn is retained and will remain with our said lord for peace and for war for the term of his life, as follows: that is to say, the said Symkyn shall be bound to serve our said lord as well in time of peace as of war in whatsoever parts it shall please our said lord, well and fitly arrayed. And he shall be boarded as well in time of peace as of war. And he shall take for his fees by the year, as well in time of peace as of war, 133s. ten marks [133s.4d] sterling from the issues of the Duchy of Lancaster by the hands of the receiver there who now is or shall be in time to come, at the terms of Easter and Michaelmas by even portions yearly for the whole of his life. And, moreover, our lord has granted to him by the year in time of war five marks [67s.] sterling by the hands of the treasurer of war for the time being. And his year of war shall begin the day when he shall move from his inn towards our said lord by letters which shall be sent to him thereof, and thenceforward he shall take wages coming and returning by reasonable daily [payments] and he shall have fitting freightage for him, his men, horses, and other harness within reason, and in respect of his war horses taken and lost in the service of our said lord, and also in respect to prisoners and other profits of war taken or gained by him or any of his men, the said our lord will do to him as to other squires of his rank."

Forecastles and stern castles on ships were lower and broader. Underneath them were cabins. The English ship was still single-masted with a single square sail. A navy was formed with over 200 ships selected by the English admirals acting for the King at the ports. Men were seized and pressed into service and criminals were pardoned from crimes to become sailors in the fleet, which was led by the King's ship. They used the superior longbow against the French sailor's crossbow. In 1372, the Tower of London had four mounted fortress cannon and Dover had six.

The war's disruption of shipping caused trade to decline. But the better policing of the narrow seas made piracy almost disappear.

In 1363, Calais, a continental town held by the English, became the staple town for lead, tin, cloth, and wool and was placed under a group of London capitalists: the Merchants of the Staple. All exports of these had to pass through Calais, where customs tax was collected. Merchants who took cloth abroad to various places to sell, personally or by agents, were called merchant adventurers to distinguish them from the Merchant of the Staple.

Waterpower was replacing foot power in driving the mills where cloth was cleaned and fulled [thickened].

A boundary dispute between two barons resulted in the first true survey map. Nine cow pastures were divided by a boundary marked by a shield on a pole which the commission of true and sworn men had set up.

Bethlehem Hospital was used from 1377 to house the mentally ill.

The Law

After the Black Death of 1348 these statutes were enacted:

High treason was defined by statute in 1352 as levying war against the King, aiding the King's enemies, compassing or imagining the death of the King, Queen, or their eldest son and heir, or violating the Queen or the eldest unmarried daughter or the wife of the King's eldest son and heir, making or knowingly using counterfeits of the King's great or privy seal or coinage, or slaying the Chancellor, Treasurer, or any justice in the exercise of their duty. The penalty was forfeit of life and lands. During the reign of King Richard II, who was later disposed, high treason was extended to include making a riot and rumor, compassing or purposing to depose the King, revoking one's homage or liege to the King, and attempting to repeal a statute. But these extensions were repealed after he was deposed.

Petit treason was defined by statute and included a servant slaying his master, a wife her husband, or a man his lord, to whom was owed faith and obedience.

No one shall tell false news or lies about prelates, dukes, earls, barons, and other nobles and great men or the Chancellor, Treasurer, a Justice, Clerk of the Privy Seal, Steward of the King's house whereby debates and discords might arise between these lords or between the lords and the commons. Cases shall be tried by the King's Council, which included the Chancellor, Treasurer, and chief justices.

Preachers drawing crowds by ingenious sermons and inciting them to riot shall be arrested by sheriffs and tried by the ecclesiastical court.

Any stranger passing at night of whom any have suspicion shall be arrested and taken to the Sheriff.

No man shall ride with a spear, upon pain of forfeiting it.

No servant of agriculture or laborer shall carry any sword or dagger, or forfeit it, except in time of war in defense of the nation. He may carry bow and arrow [for practice] on Sundays and holy days, when he should not play games such as tennis. football, or dice.

No one may enter another's land and tenements by strong hand nor with a mob, upon pain of imprisonment and ransom at the King's will.

Charters, releases, obligations, [quit-claim deeds] and other deeds burnt or destroyed in uprisings shall be reissued without fee, after trial by the King and his council. Manumissions, obligations, releases and other bonds and feoffments in land made by force, coercion or duress during mob uprisings are void.

Men who rape and women consenting after a rape shall lose their inheritance and dower and joint feoffments. The husbands, or father or next of kin of such women may sue the rapist by inquisition, but not by battle. The penalty is loss of life and member.

The Statute of Laborers of 1351 required all workers, from tailors to ploughmen, to work only at pre-plague wage rates and forced the vagrant peasant to work for anyone who claimed him or her. It also encouraged longer terms of employment as in the past rather than for a day at a time. Statutory price controls on food limited profits to reasonable ones according to the distance of the supply. Later, wages were determined in each county by Justices of the Peace according to the dearth of victuals while allowing a victualler a reasonable profit and a penalty was specified as paying the value of the excess wages given or received for the first offense, double this for the second offense, and treble this or forty days imprisonment for the third offense.

A fugitive laborer will be outlawed, and when found, shall be burnt in the forehead with the letter "F" for falsity.

Children who labored at the plough and cart or other agriculture shall continue in that labor and may not go into a craft.

A statute of 1363 designed to stop hoarding various types of merchandise until a type became scarce so to sell it at high prices, required merchants to deal in only one type of merchandise. It also required craftsmen to work in only one craft as before (except women who traditionally did several types of handiwork). This was repealed a year later.

Where scarcity has made the price of poultry high, it shall be lowered to 8d. for a young capon, 7d. for an old capon or a goose, 9d. for a hen, and 10d. for a pullet.

The fares for passage on boats on fresh waters and from Dover to the continent shall remain at their old rate.

Any merchant selling at a fair after it has ended will forfeit to the King twice the value of that sold.

Anyone finding and proving cloth contrary to the assize of cloth shall have one- third of it for his labor.

No shoemaker nor cordwainer shall tan their leather and no tanner shall make shoes, in order that tanning not be false or poorly done.

The staple was reinstituted by statute of 1353 after an experiment without it, in which profits of a staple went to staples outside the nation. The rationale for the staple was to facilitate inspection of quality and the levy of customs. Wool, woolfells, leather, and lead sold for export had to go through the staple town. The penalty was forfeiture of lands, tenements, goods, and chattel. (The staple statute remained basically unchanged for the next 200 years.) The mayor and constables of the staple were elected annually by the native and foreign merchants of the place. The mayor gave validity to contracts for a set fee, by seal of his office. He and the constables had jurisdiction over all persons and things touching the staple, which was regulated by the Law Merchant in all matters of contract, covenant, debt, and felonies against foreign merchants. A Hue and Cry was required to be raised and followed for anyone taking a cart of merchandise or slaying a merchant, denizen [resident alien] or alien, or the town would answer for the robbery and damage done.

All denizen [foreigner permitted to reside in the realm with certain rights and privileges] and alien merchants may buy and sell goods and merchandise, in gross, in any part of the country, despite town charters or franchises, to anyone except an enemy of the King. They may also sell small wares: victuals, fur, silk, cover chiefs, silver wire, and gold wire in retail, but not cloth or wine. They must sell their goods within three months of arrival. Any alien bringing goods to the nation to sell must buy goods of the nation to the value of at least one-half that of his merchandise sold. These merchants must engage in no collusion to lower the price of merchandise bought, take merchandise bought to the staple, and promise to hold no staple beyond the sea for the same merchandise. An amendment disallowed denizens from taking wools, leather, woolfells, or lead for export, but only strangers.

Towns failing to bring disturbers of this right to justice shall forfeit their franchise to the King and pay double damages to the merchant. The disturber shall be imprisoned for a year.

Cloth may not be tacked nor folded for sale to merchants unless they are opened to the buyers for inspection, for instance for concealed inferior wool. Workers, weavers, and fullers shall put their seals to every cloth. And anyone could bring his own wools, woolfells, leather, and lead to the staple to sell without being compelled to sell them in the country. Special streets or warehouses were appointed with warehouse rent fixed by the mayor and constables with four of the principal inhabitants. Customs duties were regulated and machinery provided for their collection. No one was to forestall or regrate, that is, buy at one price and sell at a higher price in the same locale. Forestallers were those who bought raw material on its way to market. Regrators were those who tried to create a "corner" in the article in the market itself.

Anyone may ship or carry grain out of the nation, except to enemies, after paying duties. But the council may restrain this passage when necessary for the good of the nation. Any merchant, privy or stranger, who was robbed of goods on the sea or lost his ship by tempest or other misfortune on the sea banks, his goods coming to shore could not be declared Wreck, but were to be delivered to the merchant after he proves ownership in court by his marks on the goods or by good and lawful merchants.

All stakes and obstacles set up in rivers impeding the passage of boats shall be removed.

Imported cloth shall be inspected by the King's officials for non-standard measurements or defects [despite town franchises].

No one shall leave the nation except at designated ports, on pain of one year's imprisonment.

English merchants may carry their merchandise in foreign ships if there are no English ships available.

Social distinctions by attire were mandated by statute of 1363. A servant, his wife, son, or daughter, shall only wear cloth worth no more than 27s. and shall not have more than one dish of meat or fish a day. Carters, ploughmen, drivers of the plough, oxherds, cowherds, shepherds, and all other people owning less than 40s. of goods and chattels shall only wear blanket and russet worth no more than 12d. and girdles of linen according to their estate. Craftsmen and free peasants shall only wear cloth worth no more than 40s. Esquires and gentlemen below the rank of knight with no land nor rent over 2,000s. a year shall only wear cloth worth no more than 60s., no gold, silver, stone, fur, or the color purple. Esquires with land up to 2,667s. per year may wear 67s. cloth, cloth of silk and silver, miniver [grey] fur and stones, except head stones. Merchants, citizens, burgesses, artificers, and people of handicraft having goods and chattels worth 10,000s. shall wear cloth the same value as that worn by esquires and gentlemen with land or rent within 2,000s. per year. The same merchants and burgesses with goods and chattels worth 13,333s. and esquires and gentlemen with land or rent within 400s. per year may not wear gold cloth, miniver fur, ermine [white] fur, or embroidered stones. A knight with land or rents within 2,667s. yearly are limited to cloth of 80s., but his wife may wear a stone on her head. Knights and ladies with land or rents within 8,000s. to 20,000s. yearly may not wear fur of ermine or of letuse, but may wear gold, and such ladies may wear pearls as well as stones on their heads. The penalty is forfeiture of such apparel. This statute is necessary because of "outrageous and excessive apparel of diverse persons against their estate and degree, to the great destruction and impoverishment of all the land".

If anyone finds a hawk [used to hunt birds, ducks, and pheasant] that a lord has lost, he must take it to the sheriff for keeping for the lord to claim. If there is no claim after four months, the finder may have it only if he is a gentleman. If one steals a hawk from a lord or conceals from him the fact that it has been found, he shall pay the price of the hawk and be imprisoned for two years.

No laborer or any other man who does not have lands and tenements of the value of 40s. per year shall keep a greyhound [or other hound or dog] to hunt, nor shall they use nets or cords or other devices to take [deer, rabbits, conies, nor other gentlemen's game], upon pain of one year imprisonment.

No man shall eat more than two courses of meat or fish in his house or elsewhere, except at festivals, when three are allowed [because great men ate costly meats to excess and the lesser people were thereby impoverished].

No one may export silver, whether bullion or coinage, or wine except foreign merchants may carry back the portion of their money not used to buy English commodities. The penalty for bringing false or counterfeit money into the nation is loss of life and member. An assigned searcher [inspector] for coinage of the nation on the sea passing out of the nation or bad money in the nation shall have one third of it. No foreign money may be used in the nation.

Each goldsmith shall have an identifying mark, which shall be placed on his vessel or work only after inspection by the King's surveyor.

No one shall give anything to a beggar who is capable of working.

Vagrants begging in London were banned by this 1359 ordinance: "Forasmuch as many men and women, and others, of divers counties, who might work, to the help of the common people, have betaken themselves from out of their own country to the city of London and do go about begging there so as to have their own ease and repose, not wishing to labor or work for their sustenance, to the great damage of the common people; and also do waste divers alms which would otherwise be given to many poor folks, such as lepers, blind, halt, and persons oppressed with old age and divers other maladies, to the destruction of the support of the same - we do command on behalf of our lord the King, whom may God preserve and bless, that all those who go about begging in the said city and who are able to labor and work for the profit of the common people shall quit the said city between now and Monday next ensuing. And if any such shall be found begging after the day aforesaid, the same shall be taken and put in the stocks on Cornhill for half a day the first time, and the second time he shall remain in the stocks one whole day, and the third time he shall be taken and shall remain in prison for forty days and shall then forswear the said city forever. And every constable and the beadle of every ward of the said city shall be empowered to arrest such manner of folks and to put them in the stocks in manner aforesaid."

The hundred year cry to "let the King live on his own" found fruition in a 1352 statute requiring consent of the Parliament before any commission of array for militia could be taken and a 1362 statute requiring purchases of goods and means of conveyance for the King and his household to be made only by agreement with the seller and with payment to him before the King traveled on, instead of at the low prices determined unilaterally by the King's purveyer.

Every man who has wood within the forest may take houseboot and heyboot in his wood without being arrested so long as it take such within the view of the foresters.

English was made the official language of the courts, replacing French and Latin, and schools in 1362 and of Parliament, replacing Anglo-Norman, in 1363.

No fecal matter, dung, garbage, or entrails of animals killed shall be put into ditches or rivers or other waters, so that maladies and diseases will not be caused by corrupted and infected air. The penalty is 400s. to the King after trial by the Chancellor.

Gifts or alienation of land to guilds, fraternities, or towns are forbidden. Instead, it escheats to its lord, or in his default, to the King.

No man will be charged to go out of his shire to do military service except in case of an enemy invasion of the nation. Men who chose to go into the King's service outside the nation shall be paid wages by the King until their return.

Admiralty law came into being when ancient naval manners and customs were written down as the "Black Book of the Admiralty". This included the organization of the fleet under the Admiral, sea-maneuver rules such as not laying anchor until the Admiral's ship had, engagement rules, and the distribution of captured goods: one-fourth to the vessel owner, one-fourth to the King if the seamen were paid by the King's wages, and the rest divided among the crew and Admiral. Stealing a boat or an anchor holding a boat was punishable by hanging. Stealing an oar or an anchor was punishable by forty days imprisonment for the first offense, six months imprisonment for the second, and hanging for the third. Desertion was punishable by loss of double the amount of wages earned and imprisonment for one year. Cases were tried by jury in the Admiral's court.

Wines, vinegar, oil and honey imported shall be gauged by the
King's appointees.

A man may not hire another man to fight in his place in a quarrel, except one living in his household or his esquire.

Judicial Procedure

The office of Justice of the Peace was developed and filled by knights, esquires and gentlemen who were closely associated with the magnates. There was no salary nor any requirement of knowledge of the law. They were to pursue, restrain, arrest, imprison, try, and duly punish felons, trespassers, and rioters according to the law. They were expected to arrest vagrants who would not work and imprison them until sureties for good behavior was found for them. They also were empowered to inspect weights and measures and enforce the new law against hiring another to fight one's quarrel. Trespass included forcible offenses of breaking of a fence enclosing private property, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and taking away goods and chattels.

Private suits for murder or personal injury were falling into disuse and being replaced by the action of trespass.

Pardons may be given only for slaying another in one's own defense or by misfortune [accident], and not for slaying by lying in wait, assault, or malice aforethought.

Justices of Assize, sheriffs, and Justices of the Peace and mayors shall have power to inquire of all vagabonds and compel them to find surety of their good bearing or be imprisoned.

Treason was tried in Parliament, by bill of "attainder". It was often used for political purposes. Most attaints were reversed as a term of peace made between factions.

A reversioner shall be received in court to defend his right when a tenant for a term of life, tenant in dower, or by the Law of England, or in Tail after Possibility of Issue extinct are sued in court for the land, so as to prevent collusion by the demandants.

A person in debt may not avoid his creditors by giving his tenements or chattels to his friends in collusion to have the profits at their will.

Where there was a garnishment given touching a plea of land, a writ of deceit is also maintainable.

Actions of debt will be heard only in the county where the contract was made. The action of debt includes enforcement of contracts executed or under seal, e.g. rent due on a lease, hire of an archer, contract of sale or repair of an item. Thus there is a growing connection between the actions of debt and contract.

Executors have an action for trespass to their testators' goods and chattels in like manner as did the testator when alive.

If a man dies intestate, his goods shall be administered by his next and most lawful friends appointed. Such administrators shall have the same powers and duties as executors and be accountable as are executors to the ecclesiastical court.

Children born to English parents in parts beyond the sea may inherit from their ancestors in the same manner as those born in the nation.

A person grieved by a false oath in a town court proceeding may appeal to the King's Bench or Common Pleas, regardless of any town franchise.

The Court of the King's Bench worked independently of the King. It became confined to the established common law. The King proclaimed that petitions for remedies that the common law didn't cover be addressed to the Chancellor, who was not bound by established law, but could do equity. With the backing of the council, he made decisions implementing the policy of the Statute of Laborers. Most of these concerned occupational competency, for instance negligent activity of carriers, builders, shepherds, doctors, clothworkers, smiths, innkeepers, and jailers. For instance, the common law action of detinue could force return of cloth bailed for fulling or sheep bailed for pasturing, but could not address damages due to faulty work. The Chancellor addressed issues of loss of wool, dead lambs, and damaged sheep, as well as dead sheep. He imposed a legal duty on innkeepers to prevent injury or damage to a patron or his goods from third parties. A dog bite or other damage by a dog known by its owner to be vicious was made a more serious offense than general damage by any dog. A person starting a fire was given a duty to prevent the fire from damaging property of others. These new forms of action came to be known as assumpsit, which provided damages for breach of an oral agreement and a written agreement without a seal, or trespass on the case, which did not require the element of force of the trespass offense.

Decisions of the common law courts are appealable to Parliament, which can change the common law by statute.

No attorney may practice law and also be a justice of assize.

Champerty [an outsider supporting or maintaining litigation in which there is an agreement for him to share in the award] is forbidden because court officials have maintained and defended a party which has resulted in another party being cheated out of his land.

Whereas it is contained in the Magna Carta that none shall be imprisoned nor put out of his freehold, nor of his franchises nor free custom, unless it be by the law of the land; it is established that from henceforth none shall be taken by petition or suggestion made to the King unless by indictment of good and lawful people of the same neighborhood where such deeds be done, in due manner, or by process made by writ original at the common law; nor that none be out of his franchise, nor of his freeholds, unless he be duly brought into answer and forejudges of the same by the course of law. (forerunner of indictment grand juries and trial juries for criminal cases)

There were so many cases that were similar to, but not in technical conformity with, the requirements of the common law for a remedy by the reign of Edward III, that litigants were flowing into the Chancery, which had the power to give swift and equitable relief.

The King will fine instead of seize the land of his tenants who sell or alienate their land, such fine to be determined by the Chancellor by due process.

The King's coroner and a murderer who had taken sanctuary in a church often agreed to the penalty of confession and perpetual banishment from the nation as follows: "Memorandum that on July 6, [1347], Henry de Roseye abjured the realm of England before John Bernard, the King's coroner, at the church of Tendale in the County of Kent in form following: 'Hear this, O lord the coroner, that I, Henry de Roseye, have stolen an ox and a cow of the widow of John Welsshe of Retherfeld; and I have stolen eighteen beasts from divers men in the said county. And I acknowledge that I have feloniously killed Roger le Swan in the town of Strete in the hundred of Strete in the rape of Lewes and that I am a felon of the lord King of England. And because I have committed many ill deeds and thefts in his land, I abjure the land of the Lord Edward King of England, and [I acknowledge] that I ought to hasten to the port of Hastings, which thou hast given me, and that I ought not to depart from the way, and if I do so I am willing to be taken as a thief and felon of the lord King, and that at Hastings I will diligently seek passage, and that I will not wait there save for the flood and one ebb if I can have passage; and if I cannot have passage within that period, I will go up to the knees into the sea every day, endeavoring to cross; and unless I can do so within forty days, I will return at once to the church, as a thief and a felon of the lord King, so help me God."

Property damage by a tenant of a London building was assessed in a 1374 case: "John Parker, butcher, was summoned to answer Clement Spray in a plea of trespass, wherein the latter complained that the said John, who had hired a tavern at the corner of St. Martin-le-Grand from him for fifteen months, had committed waste and damage therein, although by the custom of the city no tenant for a term of years was entitled to destroy any portion of the buildings or fixtures let to him. He alleged that the defendant had taken down the doorpost of the tavern and also of the shop, the boarded door of a partition of the tavern, a seat in the tavern, a plastered partition wall, the stone flooring in the chamber, the hearth of the kitchen, and the mantelpiece above it, a partition in the kitchen, two doors and other partitions, of a total value of 21s. four pounds, 1s. 8d., and to his damage, 400s. 20 pounds. The defendant denied the trespass and put himself on the country. Afterwards a jury … found the defendant guilty of the aforesaid trespass to the plaintiff's damage, 40d. Judgment was given for that amount and a fine of 1s. to the King, which the defendant paid immediately in court."

The innkeeper's duty to safeguard the person and property of his lodgers was applied in this case:

"John Trentedeus of Southwark was summoned to answer William Latymer touching a plea why, whereas according to the law and custom of the realm of England, innkeepers who keep a common inn are bound to keep safely by day and by night without reduction or loss men who are passing through the parts where such inns are and lodging their goods within those inns, so that, by default of the innkeepers or their servants, no damage should in any way happen to such their guests …

On Monday after the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary in the fourth year of the now King by default of the said John, certain malefactors took and carried away two small portable chests with 533s. and also with charters and writings, to wit two writings obligatory, in the one of which is contained that a certain Robert Bour is bound to the said William in 2,000s. and in the other that a certain John Pusele is bound to the same William in 800s. 40 pounds … and with other muniments [writings defending claims or rights] of the same William, to wit his return of all the writs of the lord King for the counties of Somerset and Dorset, whereof the same William was then sheriff, for the morrow of the Purification of the Blessed Mary the Virgin in the year aforesaid, as well before the same lord the King in his Chancery and in his Bench as before the justices of the King's Common Bench and his barons of his Exchequer, returnable at Westminster on the said morrow, and likewise the rolls of the court of Cranestock for all the courts held there from the first year of the reign of the said lord the King until the said Monday, contained in the same chests being lodged within the inn of the same John at Southwark

And the said John … says that on the said Monday about the second hour after noon the said William entered his inn to be lodged there, and at once when he entered, the same John assigned to the said William a certain chamber being in that inn, fitting for his rank, with a door and a lock affixed to the same door with sufficient nails, so that he should lie there and put and keep his things there, and delivered to the said William the key to the door of the said chamber, which chamber the said William accepted…

William says that … when the said John had delivered to him the said chamber and key as above, the same William, being occupied about divers businesses to be done in the city of London, went out from the said inn into the city to expedite the said businesses and handed over the key of the door to a certain servant of the said William to take care of in meantime, ordering the servant to remain in the inn meanwhile and to take care of his horses there; and afterwards, when night was falling, the same William being in the city and the key still in the keeping of the said servant, the wife of the said John called unto her into her hall the said servant who had the key, giving him food and drink with a merry countenance and asking him divers questions and occupying him thus for a long time, until the staple of the lock of the door aforesaid was thrust on one side out of its right place and the door of the chamber was thereby opened and his goods, being in the inn of the said John, were taken and carried off by the said malefactors … The said John says …[that his wife did not call the servant into the hall, but that] when the said servant came into the said hall and asked his wife for bread and ale and other necessaries to be brought to the said chamber of his master, his wife immediately and without delay delivered to the same servant the things for which he asked … protesting that no goods of the same William in the said inn were carried away by the said John his servant or any strange malefactors other than the persons of the household of the said William."

On the Coram Rege Roll of 1395 is a case on the issue of whether a court-crier can be seized by officers of a staple:

"Edmund Hikelyng, 'criour', sues William Baddele and wife Maud, John Olney, and William Knyghtbrugge for assault and imprisonment at Westminster, attacking him with a stick and imprisoning him for one hour on Wednesday before St. Martin, 19 Richard II.

Baddele says Mark Faire of Winchester was prosecuting a bill of debt for 18s. against Edmund and John More before William Brampton, mayor of the staple of Westminster, and Thomas Alby and William Askham, constables of the said staple, and on that day the Mayor and the constables issued a writ of capias against Edmund and John to answer Mark and be before the Mayor and the constables at the next court. This writ was delivered to Baddele as sergeant of the staple, and by virtue of it he took and imprisoned Edmund in the staple. Maud and the others say they aided Baddele by virtue of the said writ.

Edmund does not acknowledge Baddele to be sergeant of the staple or Mark a merchant of the staple or that he was taken in the staple. He is minister of the King's Court of his Bench and is crier under Thomas Thorne, the chief crier, his master. Every servant of the court is under special protection while doing his duty or on his way to do it. On the day in question, he was at Westminster carrying his master's staff of office before Hugh Huls, one of the King's justices, and William took him in the presence of the said justice and imprisoned him.

The case is adjourned for consideration from Hilary to Easter."

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