Norman Reform of the English Legal System

Norman Reform of the English Legal System

Before the Norman conquest of England in 1066, there was no unified national legal system. Prior to 1066, the English legal system included a variety of oral customary rules that varied by region. The law of the Jutes in southern England, for example, was different from that of the Mercians in the centre of the country (see map below). Each district has its own local court, which gives its own jurisdiction in accordance with local customs, which vary from municipality to municipality and are often applied arbitrarily. For example, courts typically consisted of informal public meetings that evaluated conflicting claims in a case and, if they could not make a decision, could require an accused to prove guilt or innocence by carrying an iron or tearing a stone from a cauldron of boiling water or some other «test» of truthfulness. If the accused`s wound healed within a prescribed time, he was released as innocent; If this is not the case, execution usually follows. The clergy played an important role in expanding the king`s legal powers. They developed a series of application forms called pleadings and established procedures that, perhaps significantly, gave them more importance and provided them with a generous income! Another important development was, for example, the expansion of the «royal peace». It was the monarch`s right, unlike a local lord, to deal with local riots or crimes. The Norman Conquest and Dynasty, 1066-1154 In 1066, the French-speaking Normans of Normandy (France) conquered England under William I.dem Conqueror.

William`s conquest created a highly centralized monarchy and introduced a systematic form of feudalism in England, so that theoretically all lands were held by the king. The rulers and nobility of England spoke French for nearly 300 years. Despite these changes, Norman kings such as Henry I promised to (1100-35) in their coronation oaths to respect traditional laws and customs, including those of the period before the conquest (see page on customs of the early Middle Ages). The King`s Court, in particular, began to become a superior court with authority over smaller courts. There is no doubt that Henry was also pleased with the income that writing and other legal fees brought to his treasury. One policy that caused deep resentment under William I and even hatred under his successor William II was the takeover of huge tracts of land for the king`s forest. In some areas, entire villages have been destroyed and people displaced; Elsewhere, people living in forested areas, though not necessarily remote, have been subjected to a strict legal system with harsh penalties for poaching. William at first did little to change the Anglo-Saxon administrative organization. The royal household was central to the royal government, and the system as it was under Edward the Confessor had probably been very similar to that of Normandy at the same time, although the actual titles of the officers were not the same. At first, there were virtually no personnel changes under William. But by the end of his reign, all important administrative officials were Norman, and their titles corresponded to those used in Normandy.

There was an intendant, a butler, a chamberlain, a constable, a marshal and a head of the royal scriptorium or chancellor. This scriptorium was the source from which all documents (i.e. written royal orders) were issued. At the beginning of William`s reign, the documents were in English and at the end in Latin. In order to ensure their influence over England, the Normans introduced many changes in people`s daily lives. England`s judicial and fiscal system was modified to ensure Norman power in England. The death of Henry I triggered the civil war between his legitimate daughter Matilda and his nephew Stephen. Nineteen years of civil war interrupted for some time the development of legal and administrative systems, which had progressed well under Henry. The Anglo-American legal system, known as the «common law», as well as the closely associated traditions of limited monarchy and representative government (through parliament), first appeared in medieval England and particularly in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries (c. 1170-1300 CE/AD).

For more information, see the pages on: the origins of the common law; Magna Carta (1215); the origins of Parliament (circa 1300). In 1154, Henry II institutionalized the Ottoman Empire. common law by creating a unified judicial system that was «common» to the country by incorporating and elevating local customs to the national level, ending local control, eliminating arbitrary remedies, and reintroducing a jury system of sworn citizens to investigate criminal charges and civil suits. The judges of the empire regularly made trips around the country to bring the king`s justice to every citizen. Their goal was for there to be a common legal system throughout the country, so the laws became known as common law. Circuit judges formed a core of judges with national jurisdiction who had no local roots. They were therefore much less susceptible to the corruption that had marred a similar attempt in the early twelfth century, in which royal judges actually resided in local communities. Under Henry II, judges were sent to «circles» for the first time, heard pleadings in the most important places they visited, and took over the work of local courts.

Over time, judges` decisions were written. As the decisions of these courts were recorded and published, the practice developed that earlier (previous) decisions were cited in the courts` reasoning and considered persuasive. The more danico («Danish style») marriage, i.e. without religious ceremony according to Old Norse custom, was recognized as legal in Normandy and in the Norman Church. The first three dukes of Normandy all practiced it. [2] The particularity of the common law is that it represents the law of the courts as expressed in court decisions. The reasons for decision are found in the principles of previous judicial decisions, as opposed to a system based solely on parliamentary laws. In addition to the precedent system, other features of the common law include jury trial and the doctrine of the rule of law. Originally, the supremacy of the law meant that even the king was not above the law; Today, this means that the actions of government agencies and ministers can be challenged in court. However, before I say goodbye to the Normans (for now), I just want to take a look back and look at what they have done for English law and the legal system.

In Anglo-Saxon times, the king was responsible for maintaining peace and justice, and the country was ruled by a system that encouraged everyone to maintain law and order. All free men had to take an oath at the age of 12 to avoid involvement in major crimes and to report any alleged crimes. If you broke the oath, you were considered disloyal or dishonourable, the family could be accused and punished, possibly threatened with exile, and the victim`s relatives were entitled to compensation.