England under the Normans and Angevins, 1066-1272

By H. W. C. Davis | Go to book overview

APPENDICES

I.--THE EARLS OF THE NORMAN PERIOD

THE Earldom of Shrewsbury appears to have been almost as highly privileged as that of Chester. Earl Roger received from the Conqueror all the demesnes of the Crown lying within the shire, the city of Shrewsbury, "et totum comitatum" (D. B. fo. 254). The word comitatus seems here to mean "earldom"; for the word scira occurs in the same sentence. Earl Roger then received all the rights of an earl in Shropshire. There were eight tenants-in-chief besides himself in the shire, and over their fiefs he would exercise no jurisdiction. But we learn from a charter of Earl Roger to St. Évroul, ( Orderic, vol. ii. p. 414) that he appointed the sheriff of Shropshire; the shire-court therefore was his court. We may infer that the first inclination of the Conqueror was to regard the sheriff merely as a bailiff of the royal demesne. Having granted away the demesnelands in Shropshire he saw no reason for retaining the appointment of the sheriff. It may be that Earl Roger enjoyed the same palatine powers in Sussex as in Shropshire; such at least in the opinion of Mr. Round ( Mandeville, p. 322), and the passage which he cites from the Dialogus de Scaccario makes the hypothesis very probable. The title "Counte Palais" is given to Roger in the curious romance called the Legend of Fulk FitzWarin, which is printed in the Rolls edition of Coggeshall (p. 278). In its present form the romance is a late compilation, but it appears to be based on older materials.

If we ask what "totus comitalus," the whole rights of an earl, included, we have to be guided by the evidence of two law-books belonging to the reign of Henry I. (1) The Institutio Cnuti ( Textus Roffensis , p. 45) says that the Earl Is entitled to the third penny, to the vills which pertain to his earldom; and should also have dupliciter (whatever that may mean) the customs of all free men. As Mr. Round has pointed out ( Feudal England, p. 114), there is a reference in Domesday to certain mansiones as pertaining to the earldom in Somerset. The same author has collected ( Mandeville, p. 287) the evidence

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