Harvard Law School Library

Bracton Online -- English

Previous   Volume 2, Page 364  Next    

Go to Volume:      Page:    

[001] to be held for a year and a day, after that term to revert to the chief lords, [if
[002] those outlawed hold of someone other than the king; if of the king, it will then be
[003] the king's escheat.] That it will remain in the king's hand for the said term is true1
[004] unless the chief lord or another makes fine in order to have the king's term. Why
[005] will the land remain in the king's hand? The reason appears to be this, because
[006] when one has been convicted of any felony it will be in the king's power to cast
[007] down his buildings, uproot his gardens and plough up his meadows.2 Since such
[008] acts used to result in serious loss to lords, it was provided for the common welfare
[009] that such harsh and oppressive measures should cease and that the lord king have
[010] instead the profit of the whole of that land for a year and a day,3 so that the whole
[011] might thus revert uninjured to the hands of the chief lords. Nowadays, however,
[012] both are demanded, that is, a fine for the term and likewise for the waste. Why this
[013] is so I do not understand, unless it is because the term and the waste are separate
[014] things, since a fugitive and outlaw offends not only against him who sues and
[015] appeals but against the king whose peace he breaks contrary to his oath of fealty,
[016] to whom he is bound because everyone in taking an oath [of fealty] swears saving
[017] his fealty to the lord king. If the land has not been restored to the chief lord
[018] after the year and day, on his complaint let a writ in this form issue to the sheriff:

A writ for taking an inquest as to whether [land] has been in the king's hand for such a length of time.

[020] ‘The king to the sheriff, greeting. We order you to inquire diligently by the oath of
[021] responsible and law-abiding men of your county whether the land which belonged
[022] to such a man, outlawed (or ‘hanged’) in such a vill for homicide (or for some other
[023] felony) has been in our hand for a year and a day, and of whom he held that land.
[024] And send us without delay the inquest made thereon, under your own seal and the
[025] seals of those by whose oaths it was made, and this writ. Witness etc.’ When the
[026] inquest has been returned this writ follows:

A writ for restoring land to a chief lord after the year and day.

[028] ‘The king to the sheriff, greeting. Because it is clear to us from the inquest that
[029] so much land with the appurtenances in such a vill which belonged to such a man,
[030] hanged (or ‘outlawed’) for


1. Supra 101

2. Glanvill, vii, 17: ‘elapso autem anno, terra eadem ad rectum dominum, scilicet, ad ipsum de cuius feodo est, revertetur, verum cum domorum subversione et arborum extirpatione.’

3. Magna Carta (1215) ca. 32; (1225) ca. 22

Contact: specialc@law.harvard.edu
Page last reviewed April 2003.
© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College