1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clarendon, Constitutions of
CLARENDON, CONSTITUTIONS OF, a body of English laws issued at Clarendon in 1164, by which Henry II. endeavoured to settle the relations between Church and State. Though they purported to declare the usages on the subject which prevailed in the reign of Henry I. they were never accepted by the clergy, and were formally renounced by the king at Avranches in September 1172. Some of them, however, were in part at least, as they all purported to be, declaratory of ancient usage and remained in force after the royal renunciation. Of the sixteen provisions the one which provoked the greatest opposition was that which declared in effect that criminous clerks were to be summoned to the king’s court, and from there, after formal accusation and defence, sent to the proper ecclesiastical court for trial. If found guilty they were to be degraded and sent back to the king’s court for punishment. Another provision, which in spite of all opposition obtained a permanent place in English law, declared that all suits even between clerk and clerk concerning advowsons and presentations should be tried in the king’s court. By other provisions appeals to Rome without the licence of the king were forbidden. None of the clergy were to leave the realm, nor were the king’s tenants-in-chief and ministers to be excommunicated or their lands interdicted without the royal permission. Pleas of debt, whether involving a question of good faith or not, were to be in the jurisdiction of the king’s courts. Two most interesting provisions, to which the clergy offered no opposition, were: (1) if a dispute arose between a clerk and a layman concerning a tenement which the clerk claimed as free-alms (frankalmoign) and the layman as a lay-fee, it should be determined by the recognition of twelve lawful men before the king’s justice whether it belonged to free-alms or lay-fee, and if it were found to belong to free-alms then the plea was to be held in the ecclesiastical court, but if to lay-fee, in the court of the king or of one of his magnates; (2) a declaration of the procedure for election to bishoprics and royal abbeys, generally considered to state the terms of the settlement made between Henry I. and Anselm in 1107.
Authorities—J. C. Robertson, Materials for History of Thomas Becket, Rolls Series (1875–1885); Sir F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, History of English Law before the Time of Ed. I. (Cambridge, 1898), and F. W. Maitland, Roman Canon Law in the Church of England (1898); the text of the Constitutions is printed by W. Stubbs in Select Charters (Oxford, 1895). (G. J. T.)