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HIS3406 Early English Constitutional History by Prof. Frederick Hokming Cheung


[C. Warren Hollister, The Making of England. ... to C. Warren Hollister, 'Royal Act of ... These writs, according to Prof. Hollister, 'address an immense ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: HIS3406 Early English Constitutional History by Prof. Frederick Hokming Cheung

HIS3406 Early English Constitutional History by
Prof. Frederick Hok-ming Cheung
Medieval English History (I William I to Henry
I) Medieval English Kings
  • The Anglo-Saxon Kings
  • Harthacnut, r. 1040-1042
  • Edward (the Confessor), r. 1042-1066
  • Harold (Godwineson), r. 1066
  • The Norman Kings
  • William I (the Conqueror), r. 1066-1087
  • William II (Rufus), r. 1087-1100
  • Henry I (Lion of Justice), r. 1100-1135
  • Stephen, r. 1135-1154

  • The Angevin (Plantagenet) Kings
  • Henry II (Father of the English Common Law), r.
  • Richard I (the Lion-Hearted), r. 1189-1199
  • John (the Lackland), r. 1199-1216
  • Henry III, r. 1216-1272
  • Edward I, r. 1272-1307
  • Edward II, r. 1307-1327
  • Edward III, r. 1327-1377
  • Richard II, r. 1377-1399

  • The Lancastrian Kings
  • Henry IV, r. 1399-1413
  • Henry V, r. 1413-1422
  • Henry VI, r. 1422-1461
  • Edward IV, r. (1461) 1471-1483
  • Edward V, r. April 9 July 6, 1483
  • Richard III, r. 1483-1485

  • The Tudor Kings
  • Henry VII, r. 1485-1509
  • Henry VIII, r. 1509-1547
  • Edward VI, r. 1547-1553
  • Mary, r. 1553-1558
  • Elizabeth I, r. 1558-1603

  • The Stuart Kings
  • James I, r. 1603-1625
  • Charles I, r. 1625-1649
  • Charles II, r. 1660-1685
  • James II, r. 1685-1689

(Main reference C. Warren Hollister, The Making
of England to 1399.)
  • In January 1066, Edward the Confessor (the last
    Anglo-Saxon King) died (childless).
  • Earl Harold (Godwineson) was at his deathbed.
    With the support of Archbishop Stigand of
    Canterbury, Harold claimed that Edward had
    designated him as his heir.

  • However, King Harold Hardrada of Norway also had
    a claim to the English throne, arising out of the
    treaty made between Harthacnut and King Magnus
    Norway in 1038.

  • The third claimant to the English throne was Duke
    William of Normandy, whom King Edward the
    Confessor had named as his heir in 1051.
    Furthermore, William also claimed priority over
    Harold Godwineson on the basis of an episode that
    had occurred in 1064 or 1065 according to the
    Norman sources, Earl Harold

  • Godwineson took a solemn public oath,
    acknowledging Duke Williams right to the English
    throne. The Pope in Rome in 1066 granted Duke
    William a papal banner to carry with him when he
    invaded England. The story of Harolds oath did
    more than an additional element to Duke Williams
    legal claim to the English throne. It also
    allowed William and his supporters to paint
    Harold as a feudal traitor who had betrayed his

  • The Battle of Hastings was fought on Saturday,
    October 14.
  • On Christmas Day 1066, William the Conqueror was
    crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey as
    the legitimate successor of King Edward the
  • It remained only for William the Conqueror to
    consolidate his conquest of England and establish
    firm rule over an already highly centralized

  • (Please also see Frederick Hok-ming Cheung,
    Conquest, Consolidation, and Legitmation of
    Norman England, in The Legitimation of New
    Orders Case Studies in World History, ed. Leung
    Yuen-sang, Hong Kong The Chinese University of
    Hong Kong, 2007, pp. 179-195 and The Role of
    the Christian Church in the Court Politics of
    Norman England, in Politics and Religion in
    Ancient and Medieval Europe and China. Hong
    Kong The Chinese University Press,1999,

The Administrative Contributions of William the
  • The vigor of the Anglo-Norman royal government
    under William the Conqueror, r. 1066-1087,
    unmatched elsewhere in western Christendom, is
    illustrated in his consolidation of the Christian
    Church in 6 years, by 1072, replaced all the
    Anglo-Saxon bishops by others, mainly Norman and
    administrative accomplishments, especially the
    Domesday Survey later published in two large
    volumes known as Domesday Book (1086). Circuits
    of royal administrators toured the countryside,
    gathering information from as many as 7,000
    jurors representing the local shire and hundred

  • The Kings officials undertook to list every
    manor, the name of the person (the tenant) who
    held it in 1066 and in 1086, from whom it was
    held, its assessment in hides, its value in 166
    and in 1086, and the number and social status of
    its tenants. Some historians -- noting that the
    survey is organized not by shires and hundreds,
    but rather by tenants-in-chief within each shire
    have suggested that Domesday was intended to
    inform the King about the new structures of
    landholding that had emerged in his Anglo-Norman
    Kingdom since 1066, so that when a tenant-

  • in-chiefs property fell to the King, the Kong
    would know where his estates were located and how
    much they were worth. Professor James C. Holt
    has noted that the presentation of Domesday Book
    to the King coincided with the Salisbury Oath
    when William the Conqueror demanded an oath of
    direct allegiance from all the landholding
    tenants of England Prof. Holt has suggested
    that these two events were related and that they
    were planned together at the 1985 Christmas
    court thus, the

  • Domesday Survey was intended to survey the new
    patterns of landholding that had emerged in
    England in the two decades after the Conquest (in
    1066). Hence, the King would know the potential
    wealth of his Anglo-Norman Kingdom and its
    existing tax assessment system. He would also
    know the value of all the estates that might,
    through death or forfeiture, fall into the Kings
    hands, for which the royal sheriffs might be
    required to account. According to Prof. C.
    Warren Hollister, But the

  • reason Williams great men went along with the
    Domesday survey and with the Salisbury Oath was
    because in return for the homage and fealty they
    swore to him at Salisbury, William guaranteed
    their clear title to all the property Domesday
    Book recorded as holding. After twenty years of
    conquest, expropriation, forfeiture, and
    exchange, many Normans had no clear legal title
    to the lands they currently possessed. Domesday
    Book provided this title and thus set a seal of
    permanence on their acquisitions. Thereafter,
    Williams followers would not need to appeal to
    the charters

  • and writs of their Anglo-Saxon predecessors to
    defend their rights to their property. They
    would need to appeal only to the record of
    Domesday itself. From Domesday, however, there
    would be no appeal and hence its title, which
    means judgment day.
  • C. Warren Hollister, The Making of England.
    (Boston Houghton Mifflin, 2001), pp.148-149 see
    also James C. Holt, 1086, in Domesday Studies,
    ed. James C. Holt (Woodbridge, 1987), pp. 41-64
    and Robin Fleming, Domesday Book and the Law
    Society and Legal Custom in Early Medieval
    England. (Cambridge, 1998).

  • William II (Rufus), r. 1087-1100 was crowned King
    of England by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury
    in Westminster Abbey on September 26, 1087.
  • On August 2, 1100, William II was killed by an
    arrow while hunting in the New Forest. Rufus was
    at his early forties when he was killed, and his
    sudden death provoked a crisis in the royal
    succession. (Please see C. Warren Hollister,
    The Strange Death of William Rufus, Speculum
    48(1973), pp. 637-753 reprinted in Monarchy,
    Magnates, and Institutions, pp. 59-75).

  • Henry, the youngest brother, moved swiftly and
    surely seized the royal treasury in Winchester,
    won the approval of a royal council, and then
    dashed to London where he was crowned at
    Westminster Abbey on August 5 (only three days
    after the shooting). In preparation for Robert
    Curthose, the eldest brothers return from the
    First Crusade, Henry did everything in his power
    to win the support of his subjects. He sought to
    appease the barons and the Church by issuing an
    elaborate coronation charter, known in later
    years as the Charter of Liberties, in which he
    agreed to discontinue the predatory practices of
    William Rufus.

  • In the Charter of Liberties (1100), Henry I, r.
    1100-1135, promised to neither sell nor put at
    farm nor, on the death of an archbishop, bishop,
    or abbot, take anything from a Churchs demesne
    or from its vassals during the interval before a
    successor is installed. …… If any of my barons
    or earls or other tenants shall die, his heir
    shall not redeem his land as he did in my
    brothers time, but shall henceforth redeem it by
    a just and lawful relief. …… And if the wife of
    one of my tenants survives her husband …… I will
    not give her in marriage unless she herself
    consents. (English Historical Documents, Volume
    II, p. 433 translation by C. Warren Hollister).

  • However, according to Prof. Hollister, The
    coronation charter Charter of Liberties, 1100
    was neither a prelude to constitutional monarch
    nor an open act of royal generosity, but one of
    several gambits that Henry employed to gain
    needed support in the oncoming crisis.
    (Hollister, The Making of England, p. 159).
  • The reign of Henry I contributed significantly to
    royal administration. Henry I was known as the
    Lion of Justice, and he ruled firmly and
    justly. Please refer to C. Warren Hollister,
    Royal Act of Mutilation The Case against Henry
    I. Albion 104(1978), pp. 330-340 reprinted in
    Monarchy, Magnates, and Institutions, pp.
    291-301 and Henry I. (New Haven Yale University
    Press, 2001).

  • Judicial fines added to the royal revenue, and by
    extending the scope of the Kings justice, Henry
    I increased the flow of money into his treasury.
    The reign of Henry I witnessed a dramatic growth
    in the royal judicial system and the royal
    administration. Although local justices were
    appointed in each shire to assist the sheriffs in
    judicial business, the important legal cases were
    judged by the King and his curiales at the royal
    court (curia Regis). Henry I also started the
    practice of sending itinerary justiciars to
    various parts of England to hear pleas. These
    itinerant justices, or justice in eyre, acted
    in the Kings name. During the reign of Henry I,
    the judicial tours grew ever more systematic
    until, by the reigns end, they had developed
    into a comprehensive, regularized procedure.

  • The chief instrument of command of Henry I was
    his royal writs, which were brief royal commands
    or statements, written in Latin, witnessed and
    authenticated by the attachment of the royal
    seal. Usually, a writ would be addressed to the
    local sheriff or justiciar, or to the baronial or
    ecclesiastical lord of an area, or to all the
    Kings officials and faithful men of a particular
    shire or group of shires. About 1,500 royal acts
    have been recorded and collected in Regesta Regum
    Anglo-Normannorum, Volume II Regesta Henrici
    Primi, 1100-1135, ed. Charles Johnson and H.A.
    Cronne (Oxford, 1956). These writs, according to
    Prof. Hollister, address an immense

  • variety of judicial and administrative matters
    grants or confirmations of lands and privileges,
    orders of restitution, commands to act in some
    way or to cease to acting in some way, exemption
    from certain taxes, or freedom from tolls. Taken
    together, they convey a powerful impression of
    the scope and authority of royal government of
    Henry I. (Hollister, The Making of England, p.
    165 on the administrative Kingship of Henry I,
    please refer to C. Warren Hollister, The Rise of
    Administrative Kingship Henry I, American
    Historical Review 83(1978), pp. 867-891,
    reprinted in Monarchy, Magnates, and
    Institutions, pp. 223-245).

  • During the reign of Henry I, the exchequer
    started its work, which was a twice-yearly audit
    of the royal income from the shires. The term
    exchequer derives from the table around which
    the auditors worked. On the table lay a
    chequered cloth resembling a checkerboard,
    divided into columns representing various
    denominations of money. The auditors placed
    markers on these columns to represent the
    accounts of sheriffs who reported in. The
    exchequer accounts were recorded on long rolls of
    parchment known as pipe rolls, now valuable
    historical sources (especially for the reign of
    Henry I, because only the 1130 survived). The
    single surviving pipe roll of Henry I, for the
    year 1129-1130, constitutes the earliest extant
    fiscal account of a major principality in the
    history of Western Europe.

  • The reign of Henry I marked the age of
    Anglo-Norman royal administration, which Prof.
    W.L. Warren saw as the seed of the modern state.
    (Please see W.L. Warren, The Myth of Norman
    Administrative Efficiency. Transaction of the
    Royal Historical Society, 5th Series, 34(1984),
    pp. 113-132.

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