Desktop version

Home arrow History arrow Officers and accountability in medieval England : 1170-1300

Politics and Political Economy

What was the relationship between politics and the changing political economy of bailiffs? In specific ways they seem mutually permeable. Edmund King argued for a connection, given the tendency in the thirteenth century to think quite literally about how ‘political reform turned, in large part, on how that [great estate of England] was best managed’. Should we define ‘reform a little more broadly, and speak of administrative and legal changes in which the landlord class played a prominent role, there is scope to look again at the records of the great estates’.267 The 1259 action of account qualifies as one in which baronial interests figure prominently. Its self-interest was discussed earlier, but a question remains as to whether bailiffs’ accountability intersected with the public good of the common realm.

The old English tradition of Wulfstan’s early eleventh-century moralisation de ^administration should be recalled.268 That was also a feature of the thirteenth-century estate literature. But Louis IX had no monopoly on this mentalite, neither in the eleventh nor thirteenth centuries. Walter of Henley directs his son, ‘If you need to choose a bailiff or servant, do not choose them because of their parentage or appearance, nor lest they are of good reputation [bon renum], and if they will be loyal and perceptive, and know how about fields and stock.’269 Issues of renown will resurface, especially in Chapter 4. The question of whose interests the bailiff or other officer

  • 267 King, ‘Estate Management and the Reform Movement’, 1, 12. The relationship between communities concern about seigneurial bailiffs’ accountability (as opposed to seigneurial concern) and the ‘reform movement’ is a very longstanding part of the historiography. See esp. E. F. Jacob, Studies in the Period of Baronial Reform and Rebellion, 1258—1267, Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History 8 (Oxford, 1925), esp. 25-6, 28-34, 90-2, 96-8, 106-17, 337-49, 354-65; Treharne, Baronial Plan of Reform, esp. 109-14, 137-9, 149-56, 175-6, 186-8, 199-202, 246-7, 356-76; Maddicott, ‘Magna Carta and the Local Community’, esp. 25, 54-61, and ‘Edward I and the Lessons of Baronial Reform: Local Government, 1258-80’, TCE 1 (1986), 1-30; Andrew H. Hershey, ‘Success or Failure? Hugh Bigod and Judicial Reform during the Baronial Movement, June 1258-February 1259’, TCE 5 (1995), 65-87, esp. 70, 77-8, 80-2; Maddicott, Simon de Mon fort (Cambridge, 1994), esp. 164-72, incl. comparison with Louis IX’s enquetes at 168-9.
  • 268 Le Goff, Saint Louis, 218 (of Louis’s ordonnances of 1254).
  • 269 Walter of Henley, cap. 33 (1Walter of Henley, 316).

served is a key theme in the manuals, just as it was an important practical problem. Walter of Henley closes his sermon thus: ‘Those that take care of another man’s things should accordingly avow four things by right: to love their lord, and fear him, and as for getting profit [pru] should think of his things as theirs, and as to making spend [think of them] as another’s.’270

That is, they should seek to maximize gain and minimize costs. Yet, as Walter goes on to remark, ‘many servants only aver the last, seeking to minimize their costs while making the most out of their masters’.271 The problem of whose interests a bailiff serves and how close is the identification of his own and his lord’s interests has resurfaced. Counting and character cannot be separated, economics and politics melt to the same currency.

A later fourteenth-century encyclopedia well expresses the same problem. The English Exchequer clerk James le Palmer’s Omne bonum (1360—75)272 includes an entry on baiuli.273 Le Palmer’s rubric covers ‘the testing of bailiffs and the signs by which they may be known as good or bad in their counsel’.274 Le Palmer is thinking about bailiffs, drawing on the Pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum secretorums advice to rulers.275 A marginal note recommends a reader to ‘note here the virtues and behaviour of a good bailiff and, here, how they can be recognized’ and points to the Secretums fifteen characteristics of a good bailiff.276 (Another sign of the permeable boundaries between texts and officers.) Both are clearly thinking of bailiffs with real responsibilities for their lords’ goods (and good). The first test of a bailiff is given thus:

5 The first way [to test him] is to show him you lack money. 5 If therefore he encourages you to waste that which is in your treasury and argues that this is expedient, you know that he places you in no esteem. 5 And if he encourages you to seize your subjects’ [sub- ditorum] money, he will be the corruption of your rule [regiminis] and they will hate you beyond measure. 5 But if rather he sets out before you what he has and says, ‘This is what I bought by your grace and gift’, offering himself to you; then this [bailiff] is deservedly to be trusted and worthy of all possible praise [since] he chooses and wants difficulties for himself for your glory.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

This is late, and one might argue negligibly relevant to any reform movement, Montfortian or otherwise. The currency of thought was, however, a broader one.278 Furthermore, specific connections can be drawn in relation to the one known author of an estate management manual, Grosseteste’s Rules on estate management (1245 x 1253).

Grosseteste’s direct influence on Montfort himself is well established.279 His influence had other paths. The baronial council’s choice of John of Crakehall as Treasurer in November 1258 was practical and symbolic. Crakehall was Grosseteste’s former steward, as intimate and familiar with Grosseteste’s views on royal self-sufficiency as equitable estate management. The council’s commitment to Exchequer equity could not be better embodied.280 Indeed, while there are Exchequer precedents for the detailed county auditing by vill and individual that Crakehall tested in 1258, it also conforms to Grosseteste’s manorial level recommendations in the Rules to assess all parcels of land, rents, customs, franchises, etc. with a view to being able to audit bailiffs’ efficiency.281 Still more striking is the correlation between the Rules' stress on bailiffs' just and equitable conduct and the norms for sheriffs' just and equitable conduct as prescribed in numerous schemes developed 1258/9.282 Chapter 3 will argue that there was a striking lack of articulate reflection about the positive content of the office of sheriff. In 1258/9 it looks as if part of what plugged the gap was articulate reflection about bailiffs. So it may be that ironically bailiffs’ accountability contributed to the ‘common good’ less through the action of account’s baronial self-interest, and more through that tradition of thought about stewardly conduct that seems to have influenced ideas about shrieval conduct.283 quod nullum caput precii ponit in te. 5 Et si inducat te ad rapiendum peccuniam subditorum, erit corrupcio regiminis et odient te ultra modum. 5 Si vero exponat tibi quod habet et dicat: hoc est quod ex gracia et dono vestro adquisivi offerens ipsum tibi: iste est merito commendandus et omni laude dignus ut pote, eligens et volens sui ipsius confusionem pro tua gloria.’ The text in BL Royal MS 12 C. VI fol. 37r is slightly closer than that edited in Secretum secretorum, 140—1. See also 148—9 (§3.17).

  • 278 More widely cf. Philippe de Beaumanoir, Coutumes de Beauvaisis, ed. Andre Salmon, 2 vols. (Paris, repr. 1970), i. cap. 1 on baillis, ii. cap. 50 §1516—32 on governance and accountability in towns.
  • 279 Maddicott, Simon de Montfort, 77—105, 167—9.
  • 28° DBM#37b at 260, cap. 8; Adrian Jobson, ‘John of Crakehall: The “Forgotten” Baronial Treasurer, 1258-1260’, TCE 13 (2011), 89—96; Sophie Ambler, ‘On Kingship and Tyranny: Grosseteste’s Memorandum and its Place in the Baronial Reform Movement’, TCE 14 (2013), 115—28 at 124—7.
  • 281 Jobson, ‘John of Crakehall’, 93^ on the Exchequer reforms; Walter of Henley, 388, 395.
  • 282 See the stress on manorial officers’ conduct and trustworthiness in Rules, caps. 1, 3 (esp.), 4, 5, 6, 7, 27, in Walter of Henley, 388^06. There is a similar stress for household officials. Cf. the Provisions of Oxford (DBM, #5 esp. caps. 16, 17), order for inquiries (#6), Provisions of Westminster (#11, cap. 4, #12, caps. 5, 7, 9, 20), provisions for inquiries (#13), 1264 justifications to Louis IX (#37b, caps. 7—8, 10—12); Paris, Chronica majora, v. 719—20, vi. 397^00.
  • 283 Especially ironic given earlier Angevins’ habit of treating the state as their estate. See further pp. 102—3, 240—1, also 52—60, 66. The parallelism of the state as an estate runs right through the period: see Edward I’s 1301 comparison in The Chronicle of Pierre de Langtoft, ed. Thomas Wright, RS, 2 vols. (1866—8), ii. 330, with interesting comment in J. R. Maddicott, ‘ “1258” and “1297”: Some Comparisons and Contrasts’, TCE 9 (2003), 1—14 at 12. Cf. Willelmi Rishanger, Chronica et annales, ed. Henry Thomas Riley, RS (1865), 460.

There were also possible routes from royal accounting experiments back into sei- gneurial administration. In 1236/7 the membership of Henry III’s council changed.[9] One of the consequences of that change was a far-reaching but short-lived experiment between 1236 and 1240 in managing the crown estate. It was divided into chunks and large sections of it taken into direct demesne management.[10] There was a strong interest in the accountability of estate officers. In 1240 the experiment was abandoned because, it seems, of its expense.[11] Similar experiments were tried between 1275 and 1282, and perhaps discussed in parliament.[12] One of the 1236 councillors closely involved in this programme was John de Lacy, Constable of Chester, and from 1232, Earl of Lincoln. In 1221 de Lacy married Margaret de Quincy, daughter of Robert of Quincy and granddaughter of the Earl of Winchester, a diocese that was an experimental furnace of English government and accounting. It was to this Margaret de Quincy, a woman who had connections at court in the 1250s and with the Montforts into the 1260s, that Robert Grosseteste gave his Rules.[13] The connections between private and public were multiple and could flow in numerous directions.

Grosseteste’s Rules are interesting. There is a courtesy in Grosseteste’s Rules and the Statuta, one that seeks to show and instruct by example, as when the lord or lady calls the steward ‘before some of their good friends’.[14] Having inspected there the rolls and inquests pertaining to the manors, the Countess is given a long speech, both an exhortation and an oath for the steward:

Good sir, you see well that to clarify my rights and to know more certainly [esclarzir e pur saver plus certeynement] the state of my people and lands [. . .] I have had made these inquests and enrolments. Now I beg of you as he to whom I have entrusted [baylle, lit. bailled] everything beneath me to protect and rule [a garder e governed], I strictly command you [. . .] to keep [everything of mine] whole and unblemished and what is diminished or damaged by the neglect or wrong of others to repel it with all your power.[15]

The steward is endorsed to attend as much to the growth of her property as to its equitable increase. No bailiffs are to achieve such growth at the expense of her tenants and they are to ‘neither oppress, nor hurt, nor abuse the people who hold land of me, rich or poor’.[16] This topic forms the longest entry of the Latin version and equally emphasizes the balance between profit and equity which the lord/lady should seek.

[Item] That all trust [diligencia] is to be placed completely in the head steward [senes- callo superiori] that rights, liberties, and fixed assets [possessiones imobiles] of his lord will be preserved intact and undiminished, and should any of them through negligence or unjustly be unprotected by his care [immunitum per suam diligenciam], on this account he may be justly recalled [revocetur]. And similarly, that moveable goods [possessiones mobiles] are to be multiplied in a just and honest way, and faithfully guarded and should come to the hands of the lord without fraudulent reductions, so that he may spend them to the honour of the Lord and the good of the dead.[17]

Conferring trust itself produces accountability or rather responsibility. There may be more theory here than meets the eye. The emphasis on establishing a mean in one’s actions as a lord is very marked in Grosseteste’s household and manorial advice: ‘household service in food and drink should be courteous [curiale] expressing graceful service in voice, face and gesture, and with moderate [moderamine] generosity, neither notably stingy nor excessive’.[18] Likewise, while increase of assets should be sought, it should not come at the expense of unjust exactions or extortions. Since this is Grosseteste, translator of the Nicomachean Ethics, it is not fanciful to associate his emphasis on striking a balance between extremes with Aristotle’s discussion of the mean in the Ethics. Likewise the brisk practical emphasis on lordly economic self-sufficiency in the Rules should be tallied with Grosseteste’s stress on it as an Aristotelian principle of self-control and justice for kings in his commentary on the Ethics and his attack on papal placemen at Lyons in 1250.[19] Such connections certainly put the Rules and Statuta at the rarefied end of the manorial manual genre, but no less practical for that.[20] The permeability of offices to others is also illustrated. Ideals for kings flowed back and forth from ideas for bailiffs.

In terms of bailiffs’ conduct the Rules point is that it is the lady’s good example that provides the pattern for the responsible conduct of her officers. Her character produces their character produces their responsible stewardship. The 27th rule ‘teaches how you ought to bear yourself before your bailiffs of your lands and manors when they come before you’:

When your bailiffs and the servants of your lands and of your manors come before you, address them most kindly, and speak warmly with them privately and gently and inquire of them how your people do, and your corn in the fields, how your ploughs and your stock thrive, and make such inquiries openly and your good sense shall be greatly respected.296

Clanchy’s useful distinction between love and law bears repeating, where ‘love [. . . ] is a bond of affection, established by public undertakings before witnesses and upheld by social pressure [. . . ] and [Law is] imposed by authorities from above through codes of rules.’ Grosseteste’s ‘loving’ approach directed lords in the selection, cultivation, and character of their officers; he was as interested in responsibility as in accountability.297 There is a comparable intermixing of responsibility and accountability in Philippe de Beaumanoir’s c.1283 account of a baillis office, indeed here the former comes firmly first.298 This was not a merely a theoretical matter. Simon of Senlis’s letters show how important was the sheer temperament of individual officers. But it was theorized (with or without Aristotle), and what that theory stressed in the manorial manuals offers a final insight into those aspects of responsibility and accountability which sanctions such as the action of account could not so well engage.

In phase 2 accounts, sophisticated accounting is intended to compensate for officials’ defects of character or competence. However while Seneschauncy does stress stewards’ personal oversight of bailiffs, it also clearly emphasizes the need for men whose autonomy can be simply relied on because of their character. A bailiff

should be loyal and profit-making, able to bring good gain and wise, such that he need send neither to their lord, nor to the steward to get counsel or advice on any matter touching their bailiwick, unless it is some strange problem or some great peril. For a bailiff is little use in business who knows little, and is incapable without others’ advice.299

This is not a credulous theory of ‘love’. The hayward should be ‘vigorous and sharp’; the bailiff ‘fair in all his actions’, but the latter is still to be accompanied by the steward when collecting fines, reliefs, or dowers.300 As in other cases examined in this study, the remedy of accountability (whether manifest in the action of account or accounts themselves) could not really address these aspects of officers’ conduct. The c.1246-7, closely correlates with the date range for the Rules (i.e. 1245—53) for which Wilkinson argues (this chapter, n. 156). Dating Grosseteste’s Aristotle: Jean Dunbabin, ‘Robert Grosseteste as Translator, Transmitter, and Commentator: the “Nicomachean Ethics” ’, Traditio 28 (1972), 460—72 at 461 and n. 3. I am grateful to Frederique Lachaud for pointing out the complementarity of Paul Binski, BecketS Crown: Art and Imagination in Gothic England, 1170—1300 (New Haven, Conn., 2004), 43, 181-6, esp. 186.

  • 296 Rules, cap. 27 (Walter of Henley, 406). 297 Clanchy, ‘Law and Love’, 47, 50.
  • 298 Coutumes de Beauvaisis, i. cap. 1, esp. §11-22, 29-30, 40, 53.
  • 299 Seneschauncy, cap. 17 (Walter of Henley, 268).
  • 300 Seneschauncy, caps. 47, 21 (Walter of Henley, 280, 270).

addressing of character in this way seeks to cultivate responsibility to proportionately reduce the reliance on accountability. Internal rules create a framework that ideally makes external ones less essential.[21] Both love and law were elaborated in relation to bailiffs’ and stewards’ conduct in office. This was a contrast with sheriffs and ideas about bailiffs were arguably transposed to fill out a positive ideal of sheriffs’ characters in 1258/9.

The argument of this chapter can be summarized as follows. There were limits to what institutionalized accountability could produce in terms of official conduct. English bailiffs’ accountability to their lords becomes particularly problematic in the mid-thirteenth century. This arose from changes in bailiffs’ relationships with lords, land, and communities. It was in part a function of professionalization. This though relocated rather than solved problems in lord-officer relationships. What is interesting for these manorial officers—most mediocres of those officers considered here—was the range of experiments for regulating their conduct in quite distinct ways. How much legalistic approaches such as the action of account left to say about stewardly conduct is indicated by the Chilton and Valle cases already reviewed. The issue was how practices of accountability interacted with norms of responsibility (how ‘law’ interacted with ‘love’ so to speak).[22] That problem provided the centre of gravity for several different types of attempted solution that circled around it: the action of account; accounting in its various ‘phases’; the genre of manorial manuals. These solutions—law, maths, love—articulated different approaches to the same problem of manorial officers’ accountability. It is interesting that in the case of bailiffs solutions premised both on accountability (‘law’) and on responsibility (‘love’) were articulated. That comparable ideas were diffuse and diffused in different institutions is part of this study’s overall argument. Mentalities of accountability, and responsibility, got into everything. The phenomena they gravitated towards were parts of the same universe and inflected each other’s particular orbits, even when those lines are hard to trace and their dynamics quite distinct. These spheres are so large and their historographies so separate that it is as difficult as it is important to try to reconnect them as they were connected for medieval bailiffs and lords.

  • [1] Walter of Henley, cap. 111 (Walter ofHenley, 340). Texts on podesta also discuss the roles of loveand fear.
  • [2] Compare Adam Marsh’s less worldly advice to Grosseteste, ‘You know that a divine preceptinstructs lords to study much more to be loved by their people than to be feared, and prelates shouldunderstand that they are fathers of the poor rather than princes of the people’, Letters of Adam Marsh,i. #42, Lawrence’s trans. Grosseteste was particularly sensible of a bishop’s duty of care and divineaccountability.
  • [3] Lucy Sandler Freeman, Omne Bonum: A Fourteenth Century Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge,British Library MSS Royal 6E. VI—6E. VII, 2 vols. (London, 1996), i. 22, 25.
  • [4] BL Royal MSS 6 E. VI and VII (each MS is then in two vols.). This entry is at VI (i) fo. 208r—v.A related, earlier MS is Bod. MS Bodley 784, a copy of the notabilia le Palmer used for Omne bonum.
  • [5] ‘De baiulis experiendis et de signis quibus cognoscintur an boni an mali sint consiliari’, BLRoyal MS 6 E. VI (i) fo. 208r.
  • [6] Opera hactenus inedita Rogeri Baconi, ed. Robert Steele, 16 vols. (Oxford, 1905—40), v. Secretumsecretorum cum glossis et notulis, 140—1, ‘De temptacione bajulorum’ (§3.12).
  • [7] 276 ‘Notatur hic virtutes et mores boni baiuli et per que potest cognosci ut hic’, BL Royal MS 6E. VI (i) fo. 208v (Secretum secretorum, 141—3 (§3.13)).
  • [8] BL Royal MS 6 E. VI (i) fo. 208r, ‘5 Primo | modo quod ostendas ei te indigere pecunia. 5 Siergo inducat te ad distractionem eorum que sunt in thesauro tuo et ostendat hoc esse expediens, scias
  • [9] N. Denholm-Young, ‘The “Paper Constitution” Attributed to 1244’, EHR232 (1943), 401—23at 412.
  • [10] Robert C. Stacey, Politics, Policy, and Finance under Henry III 1216—1245 (Oxford, 1987),52—66 and Agricultural Investment and the Management of the Royal Desmesne Manors, 1236—1240’, Journal of Economic History 46 (1986), 919—34.
  • [11] Cf. the partial abandonment in 1259 of the experiment with custodial sheriffs during the‘reform’ government, H. W. Ridgeway, ‘Mid Thirteenth-Century Reformers and the Localities: TheSheriffs of the Baronial Regime, 1258—1261’, in P. F. Fleming, A. Gross, and J. R. Lander (eds.),Regionalism and Revision: The Crown and its Provinces in England, 1200—1650 (London, 1998), 59—86 at 71—2. It seems reasonable to associate this shift with the fact that the ‘custodian system enableda closer control over the sheriff and his revenue, but for that reason was more troublesome to run’,D. A. Carpenter, ‘The Decline of the Curial Sheriff in England 1194—1258’, EHR 91 (1976), 1—32at 3 n. 2.
  • [12] Maddicott, ‘Edward I and the Lessons of Baronial Reform’, 21—3; Prestwich, PlantagenetEngland, 127; Prestwich, Edward I, 102—3. Perhaps the sixteenth-century tradition of a ‘parliamentary’ discussion 4 Edward I (20 November 1275—19 November 1276) about efficient land management should be connected with the November 1275 ‘Statutes of the Exchequer’ experiment (SR,i. 197—8). Oschinsky tried to connect the parliamentary references with the treatise on making amanorial extent, Extenta manerii, Walter of Henley, 70—2.
  • [13] Louise J. Wilkinson, Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire (Woodbridge, 2007), 51, 57—8.
  • [14] One might object that the courtesy here is a function of the Rules having been written for anaristocratic lady. But Grosseteste thought them good enough to stand for his own household in theLatin translation of the Statuta. As Agnes de Valence shows, there is no reason to presume any softnessin female administrators in the thirteenth century.
  • [15] Rules, cap. 3 (Walter of Henley, 3 90). 2 Rules, cap. 3 (Walter of Henley, 390).
  • [16] 292 Statuta, cap. 3 (Walter of Henley, 40 9). 293 Statuta, cap. 3 (1Walter of Henley, 409).
  • [17] 294 The Rules stresses this from the outset: ‘Ki le reules vout tenir ben e bel del son demeyne porravivre e soy meymes e les son sustenir’ (Rules, edn. in Walter of Henley, 388).). For sufficiency and kingship see Ambler, ‘On Kingship and Tyranny’, 122—4. Servus Gieben edited the documents, ‘Robert
  • [18] Grosseteste at the Papal Curia, Lyons 1250. Edition of the documents’, Collectanea Franciscana 41
  • [19] (1971), 340-93.
  • [20] Nicomachean Ethics II.6-9 (1105a20-1109b25). A fully integrated reading of the Rules withinthe context of Grosseteste’s other writings is needed. See the stress on the mean in Grosseteste’sTemplum Dei, edited from MS 27 of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, ed. Joseph Goering and F. A. C.Mantello (Toronto, 1984), 51 (1220-30). R. W. Southern’s Robert Grosseteste: The Growth of anEnglish Mind in Medieval Europe, rev. edn. (Oxford, 1992), focused principally on Grosseteste’s ecclesiastical and ‘intellectual’ activities. The dating of Grosseteste’s Aristotelian corpus to the 1240s, even
  • [21] See further Chs. 1 and 6. Cristina Jular Perez-Alfaro has argued for essentially the same distinction for Castilian adelantados and merinos, but in terms of a ‘positive’ model of ideal official normsand a ‘negative’ regulatory, corrective one: ‘“King’s Face on the Territory”’: Royal Officers, Discourseand Legitimating Practices in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Castile’, in Isabel Alfonso, HughKennedy, and Julia Escalona (eds.), Building Legitimacy: Political Discourses and Forms of Legitimacy inMedieval Societies, The Medieval Mediterranean 53 (Leiden, 2004), 111, 119-20.
  • [22] Cf. Bisson, Crisis of the Twelfth Century, 4, ‘Power attached to persons’, also e.g. 94, ‘confusionbetween official and affective action’.
 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >

Related topics