- - - Chapter 10 - - -

- 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 over the throne in England. The ongoing border fights with Wales and Scotland were fought by England's feudal army. But for fighting in France, the king paid barons and earls to raise their own fighting forces. When they returned to England, they fought to put their candidate on its throne, which had been unsteady since its usurpation by Henry IV. 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. In the system of "livery and maintenance", if the retainer was harassed by the law or by enemies, the lord protected him. The liveries became the badges of the factions engaged in the War of the Roses. And the white rose was worn by the supporters of the house of York, and the red rose by supporters of the house of Lancaster for the Crown. Great lords fought each other for property and made forcible entries usurping private property. Shakespeare's histories deal with this era.

In both wars, the musket was used as well as the longbow. To use it, powder was put into the barrel, then a ball rammed down the barrel with a rod, and then the powder lit by a hot rod held with one hand while the other hand was used to aim the musket. 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. But townspeople did not take part in the fighting.

Since the power of the throne changed from one faction to another, political and personal vindictiveness gave rise to many bills of attainder that resulted in lords being beheaded and losing their lands to the King. However, these were done by the form of law; there were no secret executions in England. Families engaged in blood feuds. Roving bands ravaged the country, plundering the people, holding the forests, and robbing collectors of Crown revenue. Some men made a living by fighting for others in quarrels. Individual life and property were insecure. Whole districts were in a permanent alarm of riot and robbery. The roads were not safe. Nobles employed men who had returned from fighting in war to use their fighting skill in local defense. There was fighting between lords and gangs of ruffians holding the roads, breaking into and seizing manor houses, and openly committing murders.

Peace was never well-kept nor was law ever well-executed, though fighting was suspended by agreement during the harvest. Local administration was paralyzed by party faction or lodged in some great lord or some clique of courtiers. The elections of members to Parliament was interfered with and Parliament was rarely held. Barons and earls fought their disputes in the field rather than in the royal courts. Litigation was expensive, so 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. Many justices of the peace wore liveries of magnates and accepted money from 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.

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 hare-ferreting. She was nurse to all around her. If her husband died, she usually continued in this role because most men named their wife as executor of their will with full power to act as she thought best. The wives of barons shared their right of immunity from arrest by the processes of common law and to be tried by their peers.

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 or corset of stout linen reinforced by stiff leather or even iron. Her skirt was provocatively slit from knee to ankle. 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, steeples, or long cones. Men also wore 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 hosen, often in different colors. Codpieces worn between the legs emphasized the sensuality of the age as did ladies' tight and low- cut gowns. Men's shoes were pointed with upward pikes at the toes that impeded walking. At another time, their shoes were broad with blunt toes. Both men and women wore much jewelry and ornamentation. But, despite the fancy dress, the overall mood was a macabre preoccupation with mortality, despair, and a lack of confidence in the future. Cannon and mercenaries had reduced the military significance of knighthood, so its chivalric code deteriorated into surface politeness, ostentation, and extravagance.

Master and servants ceased to eat together in the same hall, except for great occasions, on feast days, and for plays. The lord, and his lady, family, and guests took their meals in a great chamber, usually up beneath the roof next to the upper floor of the great hall. The chimney-pieces and windows were often richly decorated with panelled stonework, tracery and carving. There was often a bay or oriel window with still expensive glass. Tapestries, damask, and table-cloths covered the tables. There was much formality and ceremonial ritual, more elaborate than before, during dinners at manorial households, including processions bringing and serving courses, and bowing, kneeling, and curtseying. There were many courses of a variety of meats, fish, stews, and soups, with a variety of spices and elaborately cooked. Barons, knights, and their ladies sat to the right of the lord above the salt and were served by the lord's sewer and carver and gentlemen waiters; their social inferiors such as "gentlemen of worship" sat below the salt and were served by another sewer and yeomen. The lord's cupbearer looked after the lord alone. A knights table was waited on by yeomen. The gentlemen officers, gentlemen servants and yeomen officers were waited on by their own servants. The amount of food dished out to each person varied according to his rank. The almoner said grace and distributed the left-overs to the poor gathered at the gate. The superior people's hands were washed by their inferiors. Lastly, the trestle tables were removed while sweet wine and spices were consumed standing. Then the musicians were called into the hall and dancing began. The lord usually slept in a great bed in this room. 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, attorneys, 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. 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 latrine area. 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 feather bed with pillows, blankets, and sheets. Clothes were stored in a chest, sometimes with sweet-smelling herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and southernwood. 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. Often a footman walked or ran on foot next to his master or mistress when they rode out on horseback or in a carriage. He was there primarily for prestige.

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-baiters. 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 freeman 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. When 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 artificers in the town and the cottagers and laborers in the country lived from hand to mouth, on the edge of survival, but better off than the old, the diseased, the widows, and the orphans. However, the 1400s were the most prosperous time for laborers considering their wages and the prices of food. Meat and poultry were plentiful and grain prices low.

Social mobility was most possible in the towns, where distinctions were usually only of wealth. So a poor apprentice could aspire to become a master, a member of the livery of his company, a member of the council, an alderman, a mayor, and then an esquire for life. The distance between baron and a country knight and between a yeoman and knight was wider. Manor custom was strong. But a yeoman could give his sons a chance to become gentlemen by entering them in a trade in a town, sending them to university, or to war. Every freeman was to some extent a soldier, and to some extent a lawyer, serving in the county or borough courts. A burgess, with his workshop or warehouse, was trained in warlike exercises, and he could keep his own accounts, and make his own will and other legal documents, with the aid of a scrivener or a chaplain, who could supply an outline of form. But law was growing as a profession. 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 attorneys.

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, blankets, bed draperies, 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. London grocers imported spices, canvas, ropery, potions, unguents, soap, confections, garlic, cabbages, onions, apples, oranges, almonds, figs, dates, raisins, dye-stuffs, woad, madder (plant for medicine and dye), 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.

In London, 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. In 1410, the Guildhall of London was built through contributions, proceeds of fines, and lastly, to finish it, special fees imposed on apprenticeships, deeds, wills, and letters-patent. 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 of the hill 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. No work was to be done on Sundays, but some did work surreptitiously. The barbers kept their shops open in defiance of the church. Outside the London city walls were tenements, the Smithfield cattle market, Westminster Hall, green fields of crops, and some marsh land.

On the Thames River to London were large ships with cargoes; 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. A climate change of about 1 1/2 degree Celcius lower caused the Thames to regularly freeze over in winter.

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. Local reputation on general, depended upon a combination of wealth, trustworthiness of character, and public spirit; it rose and fell with business success. Some London merchants were knighted by the King. Many bought country estates and turned themselves into gentry.

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 2,667s. yearly. With this power, London had obtained all the essential features of a corporation: a seal, the right to make by-laws, the power to purchase lands and hold them "to them and their successors" (not simply their heirs, which is an individual and hereditary succession only), the power to sue and be sued in its own name, and the perpetual succession implied in the power of filling up vacancies by election. Since these powers were not granted by charters, London is a corporation by prescription. In 1446, the liverymen obtained the right with the council to elect the mayor, the sheriff, and certain other corporate officers.

Many boroughs sought and obtained formal incorporation with the same essential features as London. This tied up the loose language of their early charters of liberties. 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. 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. The mayor replaced the bailiffs as the chief magistracy.

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, and many began to intermarry with the country knights and gentry. 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 scot and bore lot, and belonged to guilds. Scot was a rateable proportion in the payments levied from the town for local or national purposes. Merchant guilds in some towns merged their existence into the town corporation, and their guild halls became the common halls of the town, and their property became town property.

In London, the Cutlers' Company was chartered in 1415, the Haberdashers' Company in 1417, the Grocers' Company in 1428, the Drapers' and Cordwainers' companies in 1429, the Vintners' and Brewers' companies in 1437, the Leathersellers' Company in 1444, the Girdlers' Company in 1448, the Armourers' and Brassiers' companies in 1453, the Barbers' Company in 1461, the Tallow Chandlers' Company in 1462, the Ironmongers' Company in 1464, the Dyers' Company in 1471, the Musicians' Company in 1472, the Carpenters' Company in 1477, the Cooks' Company in 1481, and the Waxchandlers' Company in 1483. The Fishmongers, which had been chartered in 1399, were incorporated in 1433, the Cordwainers in 1439, and the Pewterers in 1468.

There were craft guilds in the towns, at least 65 in London. In fact, every London 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. There was much overlapping in the two forms of association: the craft guild and the religious fraternity. Apprentices were taken in to assure an adequate supply of competent workers for the future. The standard indenture of an apprentice bound him to live in his master's house, to serve him diligently, obey reasonable commands, keep his master's secrets, protect him from injury, abstain from dice, cards and haunting of taverns, not marry, commit no fornication, nor absent himself without permission. In return the master undertook to provide the boy or girl with bed, board, and lodging and to instruct him or her in the trade, craft, or mystery. 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.

Occupations free of guild restrictions included horse-dealers, marbelers, bookbinders, jewelers, organ makers, feathermongers, pie makers, basket makers, mirrorers, quilters, and parchment makers. Non-citizens of London could not be prevented from selling leather, metalwares, hay, meat, fruit, vegetables, butter, cheese, poultry, and fish from their boats, though they had to sell in the morning and sell all their goods before the market closed.

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 gaol 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, especially debtors. Wills often left one-third of the wealth to the church, the poor, prisoners, infirmaries, young girls' education; road, wall, and bridge repair; water supply, markets and almshouses. Some infirmaries were for the insane, who were generally thought to be possessed by the devil or demons. Their treatment was usually by scourging the demons out of their body by flogging. If this didn't work, torture could be used to drive the demons from the body.

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 cloth exporters, who were mostly mercers, were unregulated and banded together for mutual support and protection under the name of Merchant Adventurers of London. The Merchant Adventurers was chartered in 1407. It was the first and a prototype of regulated companies. That is the company regulated the trade. Each merchant could ship on his own a certain number of cloths each year (the number depending on the length of his membership in the company) and sell them himself or by his factor at the place where the company had privileges of market. Strict rules governed the conduct of each member. He was to make sales only at certain hours on specified days. All disagreements were to be settled by the company's governor, or his deputy in residence, and those officials dealt with such disputes as arose between members of the company and continental officials and buyers. A share in the ownership of one of their vessels was a common form of investment by prosperous merchants. By 1450, the merchant adventurers 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, potions, 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.

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 cleaned and repaired the streets, filling up pot-holes with wood chips and compacting them with hand rams. The paviors 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. The residents were to light these candle lanterns in winter from dusk to the 9 pm curfew. 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. In 1480 the city walls were rebuilt with a weekly tax of 5d. per head.

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. Every cathedral, monastery, and college had a grammar school. 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. Sometimes girls were sent to live in another house to take advantage to receive education from a tutor there under the supervision of the lady of the house. Every man, free or villein, could send his sons and daughters to school. In every village, there were some who could read and write.

In 1428, Lincoln's Inn required barristers normally resident in London and the county of Middlesex to remain in residence and pay commons during the periods between sessions of court and during vacations, so that the formal education of students would be continuous. In 1442, a similar requirement was extended to all members.

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 Cuckoo and the Nightengale", and "The Flower and Leaf" on morality as secular common sense. King James I of Scotland wrote a book about how he fell in love. Chaucer, Cicero, Ovid, and Aesops's Fables 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. There were religious folk ballads such as "The Cherry Tree Carol", about the command of Jesus from Mary's womb for a cherry tree to bend down so that Mary could have some cherries from it. 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 Londoners could read English. Books were bought in London in such quantities by 1403 that the craft organizations of text-letter writers, illuminators, 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."

Gutenberg's printing press, which used movable type of small blocks with letters on them, 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 convex eyeglasses for reading and concave ones for distance to correct near-sightedness. The first public library in London was established from a bequest in a will in 1423.

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. In York, the building of Noah's Ark was performed by the Shipwrights and the Flood performed by the Fishery and Mariners. 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. In London, Christmas was celebrated with masques and mummings. There was a great tree in the main market place and evergreen decorations in churches, houses, and streets. There were also games, dances, street bonfires in front of building doors, and general relaxation of social controls. Sometimes there was drunken licentiousness and revelry, with peasants gathering together to make demands of lords for the best of his goods. 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.

People turned to mysticism to escape from the everyday violent world. They read works of mystics, such as "Scale of Perfection" and "Cloud of Unknowing", the latter describing how one may better know God. They believed in magic and sorcery, but had no religious enthusiasm because 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 reputation. The monks became 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. There were numerous chaplains, who were ordained because they received pay from private persons for saying masses for the dead; having to forego wife and family, they had much leisure time for mischief. Church courts became corrupt, but jealously guarded their jurisdiction from temporal court encroachment. Peter's Pence was no longer paid by the people, so the burden of papal exaction fell wholly on the clergy. But the church was rich and powerful, paying almost a third of the whole taxation of the nation and forming a majority in the House of Lords. Many families had kinsmen in the clergy. Even the lowest cleric or clerk could read and write in Latin.

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 highered standards of efficiency.

A linguistic unity and national pride was developing. London English became the norm and predominated over rural dialects. 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. News also came from pedlars, who visited villages and farms to sell items that could not be bought in the local village. These often included scissors, eyeglasses, colored handkerchiefs, calendars, fancy leather goods, watches, and clocks. Peddling was fairly profitable because of the lack of competition. But pedlars were often viewed as tramps and suspected of engaging in robbery as well as peddling.

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. Henry V issued the orders that formed the basic law of English admiralty and appointed surgeons to the navy and army. He was the last true warrior King.

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. From about 1413, tunnage on wine and poundage on merchandise were duties on goods of merchants which were regularly granted by Parliament to the king for life for upkeep of the Navy. Before this time, such duties had been sporadic and temporary.

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. The plague swept London in 1467 and the nation in 1407, 1445, and 1471. Leprosy disappeared.

Infirmaries 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.

Chemical experimentation was still thought to be akin to sorcery, so was forbidden by King Henry IV in 1404.

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

King Henry IV lost power to the Commons and the Lords because he needed revenue from taxes and as a usurper King, he did not carry the natural authority of a King. The Commons acquired the right to elect its own speaker. The lords who helped the usurpation felt they should share the natural power of the kingship. The council became the instrument of the Lords. Also, the Commons gained power compared to the nobility because many nobles had died in war. The consent of the Commons to legislation became so usual that the justices declared that it was necessary. The Commons began to see itself as representative of the entire commons of the realm instead of just their own counties. Its members had the freedom to consider and debate every matter of public interest, foreign or domestic, except for church matters. The Commons, the poorest of the three estates, established an exclusive right to originate all money grants to the king in 1407. The Speaker of the Commons announced its money grant to the king only on the last day of the parliamentary session, after the answers to its petitions had been declared, and after the Lords had agreed to the money grant. It tied its grants by rule rather than just practice to certain appropriations. For instance, tunnage 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 after consideration and amendment by all without alteration. Each house had a right to deliberate in privacy. In the Commons, members spoke in the order in which they stood up bareheaded. Any member of Parliament or either house or the king could initiate a bill. Both houses had the power to amend or reject a bill. There were conferences between select committees of both houses to settle their differences. The Commons required the appointment of auditors to audit the King's accounts to ensure past grants had been spent according to their purpose. It forced the King's council appointees to be approved by Parliament and to be paid salaries. About 1430, kings' councilors were required to take an oath not to accept gifts of land, not to maintain private suits, not to reveal secrets, and not to neglect the kings' business. A quorum was fixed and rules made for removal from the council. For the next fifty years, the council was responsible both to the king and to Parliament. 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]. Parliament was affected by the factionalism of the times. The speaker of the commons was often an officer of some great lord. In 1426, the retainers of the barons in Parliament were forbidden to bear arms, so they appeared with clubs on their shoulders. When the clubs were forbidden, they came with stones concealed in their clothing.

Kings created dukes and marquesses to be peers. A duke was given creation money or allowance of 40 pounds a year. A marquess was given 35 pounds. These new positions could not descend to an heiress, unlike a barony or earldom. An earl was given 20 pounds, which probably took the place of his one-third from the county. King Henry VI gave the title of viscount to several people; it had an allowance of 13.3 pounds and was above baron. It allowed them to be peers. There were about 55 peers. In King Edward IV's reign, the king's retinue had about 16 knights, 160 squires, 240 yeomen, clerks, grooms, and stablemen. The suitable annual expense of the household of the king was 13,000 pounds for his retinue of about 516 people, a duke 4,000 pounds for about 230 people, a marquess 3,000 pounds for about 224 people, an earl 2,000 pounds for about 130 people, a viscount 1,000 pounds for about 84 people, a baron 500 pounds for about 26 people, a banneret [a knight made in the field, who had a banner] 200 pounds for about 24 people, a knight bachelor 100 pounds for about 16 people, and a squire 50 pounds for about 16 people. Of a squire's 50 pounds, about 25 pounds were spent in food, repairs and furniture 5, on horses, hay, and carriage 4, on clothes, alms and oblations 4, wages 9, livery of dress 3, and the rest on hounds and the charges of harvest and hay-time. Many servants of the household of the country gentleman were poor relations. They might by education and accomplishment rise into the service of a baron who could take him to court and make his fortune.

Barons' households also included steward, chaplains, treasurer, accountants, chamberlain, carvers, servers, cupbearers, pages, and even chancellor. They were given wages and clothing allowances and had meals in the hall at tables according to their degree.

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. Edward IV made the household office of secretary, who had custody the king's signet seal, a public office. The secretary was generally a member of the council. Edward IV invented the benevolence, a gift wrung from wealthy subjects.

King Edward IV introduced an elaborate spy system, the use of the rack to torture people to give information, and other interferences with justice, all of which the Tudor sovereigns later used. Torture was used to discover facts, especially about co-conspirators, rather than to elicit a confession, as on the continent. It was only used on prisoners held in the Tower of London involved in state trials and could only be authorized by the king's closest councilors in virtue of the royal prerogative. The rack stretched the supine body by the wrists and legs with increasing agony at the joints until the limbs were dislocated. Some victims were permanently crippled by it; others died on it. Most told what they knew, often at the very sight of the rack. Torture was forbidden in the common law, which favored an accusatorial system, in which the accuser had to prove guilt, rather than an inquisitional system, in which the accused had to prove innocence. Edward IV applied martial law to ordinary cases of high treason by extending the jurisdiction of the politically- appointed High Constable of England to these cases, thus depriving the accused of trial by jury. He executed many for treason and never restored their forfeited land to their families, as had been the usual practice.

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 after the justices arrived 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.

By common law, a tenant could not take away buildings or fixtures he built on land because it would be wasteful. This applied to agricultural fixtures, but not to other trade fixtures. Also at common law, if a person had enjoyed light next to his property for at least 20 years, no one could build up the adjacent land so that the light would be blocked.

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 [intermediary] 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 [gambling and] 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
    800s. 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, except 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 county 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 is to be by majority of the votes and its results will be sealed and sent to Parliament.

Electors and electees to Parliament must reside in the county or be citizens or burgesses of a borough. To be an elector to Parliament, a knight must reside in the county and have a freehold of land or tenements there of the value of at least 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 electors and every leaseholder and every copyholder were now excluded. Those elected for Parliament were still gentry chosen by substantial freeholders.)

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 justice 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; inheritance and alienation of land. 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 [undivided], 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, …"

There are legal maxims and customs of ancient origin which have become well established and known though not written down as statutes. Some delineated by Christopher St. Germain in "Doctor and Student" in 1518 are:

1. The spouse of a deceased person takes all personal and real chattels of the deceased.

2. For inheritance of land, if there are no descendant children, the brothers and sisters take alike, and if there are none, the next blood kin of the whole blood take, and if none, the land escheats to the lord. Land may never ascend from a son to his father or mother.

3. A child born before espousals is a bastard and may not inherit, even if his father is the husband.

3. If a middle brother purchases lands in fee and dies without heirs of his body, his eldest brother takes his lands and not the younger brother. The next possible heir in line is the younger brother, and the next after him, the father's brother.

4. For lands held in socage, if the heir is under 14, the
    next friend to the heir, to whom inheritance may not
    descend, shall have the ward of his body and lands until the
    heir is 14, at which time the heir may enter.

5. For lands held by knight's service, if the heir is under
    14, then the lord shall have the ward and marriage of the
    heir until the heir is 21, if male, or 14 (changed to 16 in
    1285), if female. When of age, the heir shall pay relief.

6. A lease for a term of years is a real chattel rather than
    a free tenement, and may pass without livery of seisin.

7. He who has possession of land, though it is by disseisin,
    has right against all men but against him who has right.

8. If a tenant is past due his rent, the lord may distrain
    his beasts which are on the land.

9. All birds, fowls, and wild beasts of the forest and warren are excepted out of the law and custom of property. No property may be had of them unless they are tame. However, the eggs of hawks and herons and the like belong to the man whose land they are on.

10. If a man steals goods to the value of 12d., or above, it is felony, and he shall die for it. If it is under the value of 12d., then it is but petit larceny, and he shall not die for it, but shall be punished at the discretion of the judges. This not apply to goods taken from the person, which is robbery, a felony punishable by death.

11. If the son is attainted [convicted of treason or felony with the death penalty and forfeiture of all lands and goods] in the life of the father, and after he purchases his charter of pardon of the King, and after the father dies; in this case the land shall escheat to the lord of the fee, insomuch that though he has a younger brother, yet the land shall not descend to him: for by the attainder of the elder brother the blood is corrupt, and the father in the law died without heir.

12. A man declared outlaw forfeits his profits from land and his goods to the King.

13. He who is arraigned upon an indictment of felony shall be admitted, in favor of life, to challenge thirty-five inquirers (three whole inquests would have thirty-six) peremptorily. With cause, he may challenge as many as he has cause to challenge if he can prove it. Such peremptory challenge shall not be admitted in a private suit.

14. An accessory shall not be put to answer before the

15. If a man commands another to commit a trespass, and he
    does it, the one who made the command is a trespasser.

16. The land of every man is in the law enclosed from other,
    though it lies in the open field, and a trespasser in it
    may be brought to court.

17. Every man is bound to make recompense for such hurt as
    his beasts do in the growing grain or grass of his neighbor,
    though he didn't know that they were there.

18. If two titles are concurrent together, the oldest title shall be preferred.

19. He who recovers debt or damages in the King's court when the person charged is not in custody, may within a year after the judgment take the body of the defendant, and commit him to prison until he has paid the debt and damages.

20. If the demandant or plaintiff, hanging his writ (writ pending in court), will enter into the thing demanded, his writ shall abate.

21. By the alienation of the tenant, hanging the writ, or his entry into religion, or if he is made a knight, or she is a woman and takes a husband hanging the writ, the writ shall not abate.

22. The king may disseise no man and no man may disseise the king, nor pull any reversion or remainder out of him.

- Judicial Procedure -

The prohibition against maintenance was given penalties in 1406 of 100s. per person for a knight or lower giving livery of cloth or hats, and of 40s. for the receiver of such. A person who brought such suit to court was to be given half the penalty. The Justices of Assize and King's Bench were authorized to inquire about such practices. The statute explicitly included ladies and any writing, oath, or promise as well as indenture. Excepted were guilds, fraternities, and craftsmen of cities and boroughs which were founded on a good purpose, universities, the mayor and sheriffs of London, and also lords, knights, and esquires in time of war. A penalty of one year in prison without bail was given. In 1468, there was a penalty of 100s. per livery to the giver of such, 100s. per month to the retainer or taker of such, and 100s. per month to the person retained. Still this law was seldom obeyed.

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 oath-helping 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. 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. Since there was no requirement of legal knowledge for a Justice of the Peace, many referred to the "Boke of the Justice of the Peas" compiled about 1422 for them to use. 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 justices 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. These 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 had estates of fee simple, fee tail, or freehold in lands and tenements, which were 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.

In criminal cases, there were many complaints made that the same men being on the grand assize and petty assize was unfair because prejudicial. So it became possible for a defendant to challenge an indictor for cause before the indictor was put on the petty assize. Then the petty assize came to be drawn from the country at large and was a true petty or trial jury. Jurors were separated from witnesses.

Justices of the Peace were to have lands worth 267s. yearly, because those with less had 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.

Impeachment was replaced with bill of attainder during the swift succession of parliaments during the civil war. This was a more rapid and efficient technique of bringing down unpopular ministers or political foes. There was no introduction of evidence, nor opportunity for the person accused to defend himself, nor any court procedure, as there was with impeachment.

An example of a case of common law decided by Court of King's
Bench is Russell's Case (1482) as follows:

In the king's bench one Thomas Russell and Alice his wife brought a writ of trespass for goods taken from Alice while she was single. The defendant appeared and pleaded not guilty but was found guilty by a jury at nisi prius, which assessed the damages at 20 pounds. Before the case was next to be heard in the King's Court an injunction issued out of the Chancery to the plaintiffs not to proceed to judgment, on pain of 100 pounds, and for a long time judgment was not asked for. Then Hussey CJKB. asked Spelman and Fincham, who appeared for the plaintiff if they wanted to ask for judgment according to the verdict. Fincham [P]: We would ask for judgment, except for fear of the penalty provided for in the injunction, for fear that our client will be imprisoned by the Chancellor if he disobeys. Fairfax, JKB: He can ask for judgment in spite of the injunction, for if it is addressed to the plaintiff his attorney can ask for judgment, and vice versa. Hussey, CJKB: We have consulted together on this matter among ourselves and we see no harm which can come to the plaintiff if he proceeds to judgment. The law will not make him pay the penalty provided in the injunction. If the Chancellor wants to imprison him he must send him to the Fleet Prison, and, as soon as you are there you will inform us and we shall issuea habeas corpus returnable before us, and when you appear before us we shall discharge you, so you will not come to much harm, and we shall do all we can for you. Nevertheless, Fairfax said he would go to the Chancellor and ask him if he would discharge the injunction. And they asked for judgment and it was held that they should recover their damages as assessed by the jury, but they would not give judgment for damages caused by the vexation the plaintiff suffered through the Chancery injunction. And they said that if the Chancellor would not discharge the injunction, they would give judgment if the plaintiff would ask for it.

An example of a petition to chancery in the 15th century is
Hulkere v. Alcote, as follows:

To the right reverend father in God and gracious lord bishop of Bath, chancellor of England, your poor and continual bedwoman Lucy Hulkere, widow of Westminster, most meekly and piteously beseeches: that whereas she has sued for many years in the King's Bench and in the Common Pleas for withholding diverse charters and evidences of land, leaving and delaying her dower of the manor of Manthorpe in Lincolnshire and also of the manor of Gildenburton in Northamptonshire, together with the withdrawing of her true goods which her husband gave her on his deathbed to the value of 100 pounds and more, under record of notary, sued against Harry Alcote and Elizabeth of the foresaid Gildenburton within the same county of Northampton. And by collusion and fickle counsel of the foresaid Harry and Elizabeth his mother there was led and shown for him within the Common Pleas a false release, sealed, to void and exclude all her true suit by record of true clerks and attorneys of the aforesaid Common Pleas. Of the which false release proved she has a copy to show. [All this is] to her great hindrance and perpetual destruction unless she have help and remedy by your righteous and gracious lordship in this matter at this time. That it please your noble grace and pity graciously to grant a writ subpena to command the foresaid Henry Alcote and Elizabeth Alcote to come before your presence by a certain day by you limited in all haste that they may come to Westminster to answer to this matter abovesaid, for love of God and adeed of charity, considering graciously that the foresaid Harry Alcote, with another fellow of his affinity who is not lately hanged for a thief in Franceled her into a garden at Gildenburton and put her down on the ground, laying upon her body a board and a summer saddle and great stones upon the board, the foresaid Harry Alcote sitting across her feet and the other at her head for to have slain her and murdered her, and by grace of our lady her mother- in-law out walking heard a piteous voice crying and by her goodness she was saved and delivered, and otherwise would be dead. Pledges to prosecute: John Devenshire of Berdevyle in Essex and James Kelom of London. Returnable in Michaelmas term.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook