THE NORMAN EMPIRE
which the sheriff was required to pay, on the other he and his clerk tried to offset these with tallies, receipts, warrants, and counters representing actual cash. Played with skill and care on each side, for the stakes were high, this great match was likened to a game of chess between the sheriff and the king's officers. Its results were recorded each year, district by district and item by item, on a great roll, called the pipe roll from the pipes, or skins of parchment sewed end to end, of which it was made up. For England we have an unbroken series of these rolls from the second year of Henry II, as well as an odd roll of Henry I, constituting a record of finance and government quite unique in contemporary Europe. The series was doubtless as complete for Normandy, but there survive from Henry's reign only the roll of 1180 and fragments of that of 1184. For the other Plantagenet lands nothing remains.
This remarkable fiscal system comprised accordingly a regular method of collecting revenue, a central treasury and board of account, and a distinctive and careful mode of auditing the accounts. There was nothing like it north of Sicily, and contemporaries admired it both for its administrative efficiency and for the wealth and resources which it implied. Although something of the sort seems to have existed in all the territories of the Plantagenet empire and the different bodies seem to have maintained a certain amount of cooperation, all our records come from England and Normandy,