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Bailiffs’ Accountability and Demesne Farming

Over forty years ago Dorothea Oschinsky suggested there was a direct causal connection between: (a) the Statute of Westminster II, cap. 11; (b) the English intensification of demesne farming (i.e. direct cultivation of land by its lord and his immediate agents); (c) a marked sophistication of English manorial accounting technique from the second half of the thirteenth century; and (d) the production of a sophisticated if short-lived practical English literature addressing in French or Latin the management of both officials and land, most of whose earliest manuscripts date from c. 1300.150 Paul Harvey argued that there were chronological problems with Oschinsky’s argument.151 Westminster II cap. 11 (1285) happened later than some of the phenomena it was supposed to cause. A shift to demesne farming can be first documented from 1184, moving most quickly on lay estates, but still slow and concentrated in the Midlands and southern and eastern England.152 Harvey has been sceptical of any in-principle link between demesne farming, more sophisticated accounting, and then the literature of estate management.153 Furthermore the later type of manorial accounts that Harvey has christened ‘phase 2’ (see pp. 70—6) are a phenomenon of the 1250s on.154 Oschinsky’s analysis of the estate management literature can also be modified— but so as to push it earlier and therefore closer to the other phenomenon she wished to connect it with.

These English mid-thirteenth- to mid-fourteenth-century texts are well known.155 The earliest are the 1245 x 1253 French Rules of Robert Grosseteste, a private work for Margaret de Lacy, the widowed Countess of Lincoln.156 The shorter Latin version,

  • 150 Walter of Henley, 72-4, 144—5, and her preparatory articles ‘Notes on the Editing and Interpretation of Estate Accounts’, pts. 1 and 2 in Archives 9 (1969—70), 84—9 and 142—52 at 149.
  • 151 P. D. A. Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting in Medieval England’, Agricultural History Review 20 (1972), 170—82 at 179—80. Agriculture and law are both discussed in C. Noke, ‘Agency and the Excessus balance in Manorial Accounts’, in R. H. Parke and B. S. Yamey (eds.), Accounting History: Some British Contributions (Oxford, 1994), 139—59 at 152—5 and Plucknett, Mediaeval Bailiff. Noke though is interested in the applicability of modern management theory about principals and agents to medieval accounting. Plucknett discusses both the action of account and the manorial manuals but does not really ask about their relationship.
  • 152 P. D. A. Harvey, ‘The Pipe Rolls and the Adoption of Desmesne Farming in England’, Economic History Review ns 27 (1974), 345—59 at 353—4; for distribution, Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850—1520 (London, 2003), 137; for comments on the insti- tutional/social features of seigneurial agriculture see B. M. S. Campbell, English SeignorialAgriculture, 1250—1450, Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography 31 (Cambridge, 2000), 419—24. More work on the relationship between politics, agriculture, and law would be valuable.
  • 153 Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 179—80.
  • 154 Manorial Records of Cuxham, Oxfordshire, circa 1200-1359, ed. P. D. A. Harvey, Oxfordshire Record Society 50/Historical Manuscripts Commission Joint Publications 23 (London, 1976), 17—18, noting all such pre-1250 accounts are from large secular and religious estates.
  • 155 Oschinsky’s Walter of Henley replaced Walter of Henley's Husbandry together with an anonymous Husbandry, Seneschauncie and Robert Grosseteste's Rules, ed. Elizabeth Lamond (London, 1890). Oschinsky argued for the early fourteenth century as the highpoint of the treatises’ use and therefore for the immediately prior period as the significant one in causing that literature (Walter of Henley, 72—3). Harvey discussed the risks with Oschinksy’s dating very clearly in ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 172—5. Oschinksy’s own datings range from 1235 to 1276 with Walter of Henley the latest, dated to c.1286. But if Westminster II is a cause of change many key texts are being written significantly sooner than they should be. Oschinsky’s sequence for the ‘non-accounting’ treatises is: ‘private’ Latin Statuta of Robert Grosseteste 1235—42; French Rules version for the Countess of Lincoln 1240—2 and its Latin version 1240—53 (but see following note); Seneschauncy c.1260—76; Walter of Henley, a commentary on Seneschauncy, c.1276 x c.1290 possibly 1286. See respectively Walter of Henley, 196—7, 88—9, 76—82, and 144—5.
  • 156 Dating of Grosseteste’s (French) Rules has recently been resolved by Louise Wilkinson. Wilkinson and Michael Burger, while endorsing Grosseteste’s authorship, challenged Oschinsky’s 1240—2 dating. Burger argues that if the Rules need to be allocated to an unmarried (or even widowed) Countess of Lincoln during Grosseteste’s episcopate, Margaret de Quincy/Lacy is not the only possible option (his ‘The Date and Authorship of Robert Grosseteste’s Rules', Historical Research 74 (2001), 106—16, esp. at 108—11). If accepted, the Rules date to 1235—53. Wilkinson ingeniously adds that Grosseteste’s reference to shopping in Caversham (obtained through the Marshal marriage) specifically

Statuta, is a roughly contemporary summary. The Rules instruct the Countess in the good management of her estates. Seneschauncy is a French manual on the ‘management and improvement of manors which are entrusted to stewards and bailiffs’ and describes a series of subordinate manorial offices, probably dating to c. 1260. Walter of Henley is a French treatise, in a sermon form, ‘spoken’ by a father to his son, advising him on the good management of his farms, stock, and servants. Walter is dependent on Seneschauncys pattern and datable perhaps to c. 1262—c. 1272. Most recensions have adapted it to emphasize its textbook elements.157 In the cartulary of St Peter’s Gloucester are the Latin rules of conduct to be read out monthly by the reeve, recorded during John of Gamages’s abbacy, 1284—1301.158 The underlying text is a more general manual but this version is possibly a response to the critical visitation by Archbishop Winchelsey on 27 July 1301.159 There are also the c.1350 French notes on the supervision of the grange in the Mohun Cartulary.160 More informal sets of instructions survive in letters.161

In addition a large number of accounting manuals are extant, giving guidance on how to account, specimen forms, and instructions on procedure and problems.162 Husbandry is arguably better associated with these texts than the estate management ones since it is for manorial auditors, outlining, in French, pins the treatise to de Lacy’s second widowhood following Walter Marshal’s 1245 death and before Grosseteste’s in 1253. See Louise J. Wilkinson, ‘The Rules of Robert Grosseteste Reconsidered: The Lady as Estate and Household Manager in Thirteenth Century England’, in Cordelia Beattie et al. (eds.), The Medieval Household in Christian Europe, c.850—c. 1550 (Turnhout, 2003), 294—306, esp. 299—300, also Wilkinson, Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire, Royal Historical Society Studies in History ns (Woodbridge, 2007), 58—64, and 51 for de Lacy’s contacts with the court in the 1250s.

  • 157 The earliest version closest to the projected original of Walter, according to Oschinsky, is CUL MS Dd.VII.14 (= ‘Oschinsky’ MS 42), Walter of Henley, 121—2; Harvey’s dating, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 173—4.
  • 158 TNA C 150/1, fos. 326v-330v (modern foliation); Historia et cartularium monasterii Sancti Petri Gloucestriae, ed. William Henry Hart, RS, 3 vols. (London, 1863-7), iii. 213-21; discussion at xciii-c. The manual occupies the end of a gathering and follows a description of manors, the last being of Cubberley. It is followed on the same gathering by another text on accountability; a description of how to take the view of frankpledge. Various items of a later hand follow in this gathering. The cartulary also contains an extension of Winchelsey’s injunctions at fos. 285v-287r: rubric, ‘Constitutio quedam necessaria super peccunia commune, et aliis rebus’ beg. ‘Nulla pecunia de cetero spectans’, ends ‘assisa ad panem veniat certis diebus ad pistrinum’ (Hart’s edn., iii. 105-8).
  • 159 Registrum Roberti Winchelsey, Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi, A.D. 1294—1313, ed. Rose Graham, C&Y 51-2, 2 vols. (1952-6), ii. 856-64 (Winchelsey’s injunctions 28 July 1301); The Victoria History, of the County of Gloucester 2, ed. William Page (London, 1907), 55-6. Oschinsky’s references, Walter of Henley, 241, 254-7; Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 177.
  • 160 BL Egerton MS 3724, fos. 19-20r and 39r^0v, ‘En sa veillesce set li prudhom’, a poem of instruction drawing on caps. 1-5, 12-16 of Walter of Henley. The grange treatise is edited in Walter of Henley, 475-8.
  • 161 e.g. Registrum Thome de Cantilupo, Episcopi Herefordensis, A.D. 1275—1282, ed. R. G. Griffiths and W. W Capes, C&Y 2 (London, 1907), 108-11 with numerous concrete recommendations for minimizing corruption (18 November ?1276).
  • 162 Oschinsky lists thirty-six such manuscripts (Walter of Henley, 235-57). Harvey listed seven additional accounting treatises in ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 178-9. All these are in English collections. A French variant of the St Peter’s treatise is in BNF MS Fr. 400 (Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 177 n. 4). See also Legal and Manorial Formularies, Edited from Originals at the British Museum and the Public Record Office in Memory of Julius Parnell Gilson (Oxford, 1933).

‘headings regarding the rendering of accounts and likewise headings of things upon which an account should be charged’.[1] Possibly of Kentish origin, its dating is less certain; Oschinsky put it at c.1300.[2]

As to the relations between these phenomena Harvey is sceptical of estate officers’ legal interest or competence—at least officials who are not stewards with responsibility for a great lord’s aggregated estates. Harvey instead focuses on why landlords would need to have legally competent manorial officials, rather than on what the benefits of legal competence would be for bailiffs themselves.[3] (It is of course a complicating feature of the law that a ‘bailiff’ might only be so legally, not in terms of manorial duties.) Harvey has also argued for a shift over the second half of the thirteenth century from more centralized supervision of estates to a more decentralied supervision—a tendency seemingly opposed to the simultaneous trend charted here of an tighter legal grip by land-lords over bailiffs.[4] Notwithstanding the problems, it is a very great merit of Oschinskys approach that she considered the connections between these phenomena.

  • [1] Articuli de compoto reddendo et similiter de articulis super quibus compotus debet carcari’,title to the best copy of Husbandry—in Bod. Ashmole MS 1524 (SC 8232), fos. 127v— 132r (cf. Walterof Henley, 44—5, 247, for ‘Oschinsky MS 69 ). This copy is preceded by a Modus ordinandi compotumalicuiusprepositi (fos. 126r— 127r) and followed by an Extenta manerii (fos. 132r—133r), instructions Dehomagio et fidelitate (fo. 133), and Walter fragment (fos. 133v— 134v).
  • [2] Walter of Henley, 200—1; Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 172.
  • [3] Harvey, ‘Agricultural Treatises and Manorial Accounting’, 175—6. Cf. Oschinsky on the content of manorial officials’ professional instruction, Walter of Henley, 61—72, 233^, and Plucknett,Mediaeval Bailiff, 8—15. For recent work underscoring the legal competence of stewards see Brand,‘Stewards, Bailiffs and the Emerging Legal Profession’ with notices on the manorial treatises at 148—50, and David Crook, ‘Freedom, Villeinage and Legal Process: The Dispute between the Abbot ofBurton and his Tenants of Mickleover, 1280’, Nottingham Medieval Studies 44 (2000), 123—40.
  • [4] Harvey’s view that ‘phase 2’ accounts implies more decentralised lordly control and greaterlatitude on the part of the local agent has critics. See reviews of Harvey’s Manorial Records andManorial Records of Cuxham, by Christoper Dyer (Economic History Review ns 38 (1985), 448), andIan Kershaw (EHR 93 (1978), 862M at 863M). Edmund King (‘Estate Management and the ReformMovement’, in W M. Ormrod (ed.), England in the Thirteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1989Harlaxton Symposium, Harlaxton Medieval Studies 1 (Stamford, 1991), 1—14 at 9—10) is important.See pp. 76—82.
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