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Institutional Development, Intellectual Capability, and the rectors Conscience

This ‘accountable’ way of thinking, some of whose influence and forms are analysed here, seems principally the product of three factors. Its dominance was required by one much broader phenomenon, enabled by a second, and shaped by a third: respectively, institutional growth, scholastic rationalization, and public power’s self-consciousness. The massive elaboration of institutions tout court, going hand in hand with the development of these practices made the practices necessary and strongly influenced their shape. It explains the relationship between delegation and access treated already. It could not, however, give the practices their intellectual method, or their faith in that method. This was manifested in that wider ‘scholastic’ faith in humans’ power to establish the truth about things through systematic inquiry.[1] Peter Abelard, in the 1120s, writing about theological inquiry and the reconciliation of different authorities, used Augustine as a springboard to articulate the germ of this approach’s axiomatic method: ‘it is by doubting that we come to inquiry [inquisitionem] and by inquiring that we perceive the truth’.[2] There was a pessimistic flipside to this optimistic upside (see this chapter pp. 253—60), but epistemologically this is the basis for the forms of accountability considered here. Twelfth- and thirteenth-century belief in inquiry and accountability was no less potent than that modern confidence that regularly produces routine inquests and audits as well as massive quasi-judicial inquiries into a variety of phenomena: the ‘culture, practices and ethics of the press’; alleged state complicity in the death of a United Nations arms inspector; governmental intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in the context of the 2003 Iraqi war; and an inquiry ‘to identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict’—to take only the most prominent British inquiries conducted during the writing of this study.[3] If demand came from institutional growth and wherewithal from scholastic confidence, the underlying impetus came—thirdly—from the reflections of those in ‘public power’.[4]

There were two general sides to these reflections. The first was pragmatically self-interested. The second was a more complicated matter of self-consciousness and conscience. As argued earlier, there is no especial reason the two may not be expressed at the same time.[5] The pragmatic side can be seen in the quote from The Mirror of Justices, where a land-lord is blamed for losses incurred by his servants, since he ‘can put this rightly down to his own stupid contract, in so far as he did not take sufficient surety for complete loyalty and discretion’.[6] Some of the pseudo-Aristotelian Secretum secretorums stress on selecting bailiffs comes from the same impetus. But rectores’ self-consciousness about themselves as holders of power, and the responsibility that entailed, must not be discounted as a real motor of official accountability. The great stress on rulers’ (and officials’) character as the guarantee of justice was noted at the outset and has recurred throughout.[7] ‘The powerful shall be powerfully tormented’ (Wisdom 6: 7) is a scriptural precept frequently quoted in relation to the need for those in authority to rule justly and to see those beneath them did so.[8] These ideas passed back and forth from secular to ecclesiastical positions of responsibility, just as Gregory the Great had thought of rectores as being of either quality.[9] Ideas of right rule (what John of Salisbury called ‘public power’) were connected to reformed practices of accountability. Frederick II explained the existence of princes in terms of the need for people to be corrected after the Fall of man; so did Charles I of Anjou.[10] Walter Map wrote of the

rector as corrector, associating ruling with the control of those beneath the ruler.[11] Innocent III chastised Peter des Roches by the same token.[12] It was an essential part of Innocent III’s reforms that in 1213, two years before the Church’s planned general council, he should require prelates across Christendom to ‘to inquire carefully into everything which seems to need thorough correction or reform, and faithfully recording this, you will send on the report for examination by the Sacred Council’.[13] Louis IX’s reparative actions before leaving on crusade were a parallel move. The most recent study of Edward I argues that the reason for his distinctive approach to governance was a function of his (self-)regard for regal office.[14] Rulers’ conscience of their accountability to God above was a genuinely influential justification for their impositions of accountability down below. Ideas of right rule contributed to reformulated practices of official accountability.[15]

One need not be naive about these motives. Neither Edward’s nor Louis’s reforms need be taken at the face value of the ‘reformist’ sensibility they ostensibly reveal. Louis’s regulation of and ‘distinction between public and private violence was a rhetorical weapon of the monarchy as it entered, one contestant among many, an arena of conflicting powers and authorities’.[16] Such concern may also be seen as much an expression of rulers’ vanity as of their conscience. Thus attacks on a prince’s officials are taken as an attack on the prince himself.[17] The prince was transparent through his official, and what struck the official passed straight through to the prince. ‘For the bailli while he is a bailli represents his lord’s person, and so who wrongs a bailli, wrongs the lord’, said Philippe de Beaumanoir.[18] This could have an effect, as in the Regno, on the attitude taken towards officials’ delicts.[19] As Frederick II specified in his oath for bailiffs ‘the purity which we ourselves pursue, we demand especially from our officials in administering justice’.[20] Delegated responsibility could find expression in the vanity of self-regard—‘By acting badly you impugn me', so to speak. The idea that subordinates’ actions needed to be a right reflection of their superiors’ integrity is also articulated in Lateran IV’s important proportionate papal algebra expressing the reason for canonical inquiries: A prelate should act the more diligently in correcting the offences of his subjects in proportion as he would be worthy of condemnation were he to leave them uncorrected.’[21] Holding mediocres officials to account was a further means of burnishing the self-image of their superiors. As a political ideal, officials’ accountability was closely tied to rulers’ self-regard.

  • [1] R. W. Southern, Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1997—2001) is an exploration of the intellectual phenomena in relation to the institutional need. For adifferent perspective see Moore, First European Revolution, 112—59, 188—98.
  • [2] 48 ‘Dubitando quippe ad inquisitionem venimus; inquirendo veritatem percipimus’, the prologueto Peter Abailard, Sic et non: A Critical Edition, ed. Blanche B. Boyer and Richard McKeon (Chicago,1976), 103 ll. 338—9. On Augustine—and Abelard’s addition of inquisitionem and inquirendo—see Beryl Smalley, ‘Prima clavis sapientiae: Augustine and Abelard’, in Smalley, Studies in MedievalThought and Learningfrom Abelard to Wyclif (London, 1981), 1—10. Relevant notes of Abelard’s usageinclude Alain Boureau, ‘Introduction’, in Claude Gauvard (ed.), LEnquete au Moyen Age, CollectionEcole fran^aise de Rome 399 (Rome, 2008), 1—10 at 8, and Paul Hyams, ‘Due Process versus theMaintenance of Order: The Contribution of the ius commune , in Peter Coss (ed.), The Moral Worldof the Law (Cambridge, 2000), 85. For a minimal interpretation of the maxim, M. T. Clanchy,Abelard: A Medieval Life (Oxford, 1997), 107—8, and for broader comment 6, 34, 36—7, 121, 216,273-4, 331.
  • [3] Respectively the ‘Leveson Inquiry’, ‘Hutton Inquiry’, ‘Butler Inquiry’, and ‘Chilcot Inquiry’ (formally the Iraq Inquiry). Part 1 of The Leveson Inquiry (2011—12) has concluded ( The Hutton Inquiry (2003^) is archived at The National Archives’s website ( The ‘Butler Review’ (2004) is available at, all accessed February 2014. The ‘ChilcotInquiry’ is open at time of writing (2009— ), accessed February 2014.A review of both the Hutton and Butler inquiries is Hutton and Butler: Lifting the Lid on the Workingsof Power, ed. W G. Runciman (Oxford, 2004). It touches on many issues relevant to medieval inquiriesincluding: judicial discretion in interpreting the terms of enquiry (13); the ‘problem’ of oral reports vs.written records in government (73); the tension between the fact of an inquiry and public expectations ofit (40, 50); the difficulty of separating ‘pure’ fact-finding and (public) expectations of blame-apportioning(34—8, 121). While this volume was in proof, the British Home Secretary announced, on 7 July 2014, afurther panel inquiry, into public bodies’ handling of sex abuse allegations, permitting its conversion intoan inquiry (like Leveson) under the 2005 Inquiries Act. See also p. 260 n. 176.
  • [4] For the term in late-twelfth-century royal government, Beryl Smalley, The Becket Conflict and theSchools: A Study of Intellectuals in Politics (Oxford, 1973), 228—9, 231, 239^0.
  • [5] 51 See pp.127-34.
  • [6] 52 Mirror of Justices, ed. William Joseph Whittaker, intr. Frederic William Maitland, SS 7 (London,1895), 76.
  • [7] Ch. 1 passim, esp. pp. 23^.
  • [8] e.g. Gerald of Wales, Liber de principis instructione in Giraldi Cambrensis Opera, RS, 8 vols.(London, 1861—91), viii. ed. George F. Warner, 327 (Dist. 3, cap. 31).
  • [9] R. A. Markus, ‘Gregory the Great’s rector and his Genesis’, in Jacques Fontaine, Robert Gillet,and Stan Pellistrandi (eds.), Gregoire le Grand (Paris, 1986), 137—46 esp. 142—3.
  • [10] 56 Konstitutionen Friedrichs II. fur das Konigreich sizilien, Prooemium, 147; cf Charles I of Anjou’spreamble to ‘Post corruptionis amara discrimina’ (10 June 1282), RCA, xxv. Documenti tratti da altrefonti, #5 at 194—5. On Frederick and Louis IX in this context see Jacques Chiffoleau, ‘Saint Louis,Frederic II et les constructions institutionelles du XIIIe siecle’, Medievales 34 (1998)’, 16.
  • [11] Walter Map, De nugis curialium, ed. M. R. James, rev. C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors,OMT (Oxford, 1983), 510 (§5.7).
  • [12] ‘In corrigendis excessibus’, c.27 October 1205 (Reg. Inn. Ill, viii. #147 (146); Innocent IIIEnglish Calendar, #647)
  • [13] ‘universa subtiliter inquiratis que correctionis, aut reformationis studio indigere videntur, etea fideliter conscribentes, ad sacri concilii perferatis examen’, in ‘Vineam Domini Sabaoth’, 19 April1213, Innocent IIIEnglish Letters, #51 at 147.
  • [14] Burt, Edward I and the Governance of England, 88—9, 113, 116, 176, 191—2, 237.
  • [15] Cf. Adam J. Davis, The Holy Bureaucrat: Eudes Rigaud and Religious Reform in Thirteenth-CenturyNormandy (Ithaca, NY, 2006), 10—11.
  • [16] 62 Robert Bartlett, ‘The Impact of Royal Government in the French Ardennes: The Evidence of the1247 Enquete Journal of Medieval History 7 (1981), 95—6.
  • [17] Konstitutionen Friedrichs II. fur das Konigreich sizilien, caps 1.30, 3.40; see also Romain Telliez,«Per potentiam officii»: Les Officiers devant la justice dans le royaume de France au XIVе siecle (Paris,2005), 62-70, 413-14, 681-3.
  • [18] 64 Philippe de Beaumanoir, Coutumes du Beauvaisis, ed. Andre Salmon, 2 vols. (Paris, repr. 1970),i. cap. 1 §15.
  • [19] Konstitutionen Friedrichs II. fur das Konigreich sizilien, caps 1.36.1-2 (negligent/corrupt officials), 3.41 (punishments of officials who use their office as the cover for the pursuit of their personalvendettas). These provisions and those on attacks against officials (1.30, 3.40) follow on associativelyfrom each other in the minds of their drafters.
  • [20] ‘Puritatem, quam nos ipsi sectamur, ab officialibus nostris, in iudiciis maxime postulamus’,Konstiutionen Friedrichs II. fur das Konigreich sizilien, cap. 1.62.1 at 227, also 1.31. This view is exploredin a thirteenth-century Castilian context in Jular Perez-Alfaro, ‘King’s Face on the Territory’, esp. 110-20.Cf. for Louix IX, Guibert of Tournai, Eruditio regum etprincipum, e.g. 44, 67-8, 84-5, 87-8 (§§2.1.1,2.2.2, 3.2, 3.5).
  • [21] Constitutiones Concilii quarti Lateranensis una cum Commentariisglossatorum, ed. Antonio Garciay Garcia, Monumenta iuris canonici, Ser. A: Corpus glossatorum 2 (Vatican City, 1981), 56 (cap. 8).
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