31. THE ASSIZE OF CLARENDON (1166)
Here begins the Assize of Clarendon made by King Henry, namely the second, with the assent of the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and barons of all England.
1. In the first place the aforesaid King Henry, by the counsel of all his barons, has ordained that, for the preservation of peace and the enforcement of justice, inquiry shall be made in every county and in every hundred through twelve of the more lawful men of the hundred and through four of the more lawful men of each vill, [put] on oath to tell the truth, whether in their hundred or in their vill there is any man accused or publicly known as a robber or murderer or thief, or any one who has been a receiver of robbers or murderers or thieves, since the lord king has been king. And let the justices make this investigation in their presence and the sheriffs in their presence.
2. And whoever is found by the oath of the aforesaid men to have been accused or publicly known as a robber or murderer or thief, or as a receiver of them since the lord king has been king, shall be seized; and he shall go to the ordeal of water and swear that, to the value of 5s., so far as he knows, he has not been a robber or murderer or thief, or a receiver of them, since the lord king has been king.
3. And if the lord of the man who has been seized or his steward or his men seek [to free] him under pledge, within the third day after he has been seized, let him and his chattels be remanded under pledge until he has made his law.
4. And when robbers or murderers or thieves, or receivers of them, are seized in consequence of the aforesaid oath, if the justices are not soon to come into that county where they were seized, the sheriff shall, through some intelligent man, notify the nearest justices that he has seized such men; and the justices shall send back word to the sheriff that those [accused] are to be brought before them, wherever they please. The sheriff shall then take those [accused] before the justices, and with him he shall take two lawful men from the hundred or the vill where they were seized, to bring the record of the county and the hundred as to why they were seized; and there before the justices they shall make their law.
5. And with regard to those seized in consequence of the aforesaid oath of this assize, no one shall have jurisdiction or judgment or [forfeiture of] chattels but the lord king in his court and in the presence of his justices; and the lord king shall have all their chattels. With respect, however, to those seized otherwise than through this oath, let whatever is customary and right be done.
6. And the sheriffs who have seized them shall take them before the justice without other summons than shall be had from him. And when robbers or murderers or thieves, or receivers of them, whether seized in consequence of the oath or otherwise, are delivered to the sheriffs, the latter shall take them immediately and without delay.
7. And in every county where there are no jails let them be made within a borough or some castle of the king with the king's money and with his wood if that is near at hand, or with some other wood close by, and by view of the king's serjeants so that the sheriffs may have the seized men guarded in those [jails] by the officials accustomed to do so and by their serjeants.
8. The lord king also wills that all should come to the county [court] for the making of this oath; so that no one, on account of any liberty that he has, or on account of any jurisdiction or soke that he may enjoy, shall abstain from attendance for the making of this oath.
9. And let there be no one, in castle or out of castle, or even in the honour of Wallingford, who forbids the sheriffs to enter upon his jurisdiction or his land for view of frankpledge; and let all men be placed under sureties, and let them be sent before the sheriffs under frankpledge.
10. And within cities or boroughs no one shall have men, or shall receive [men] within his house or his land or his soke for whom he will not be sponsor, [guaranteeing] that he will bring them before the justice, should they be summoned, or that they are under frankpledge.
11. And let there be no persons, either in a city or a borough or a castle, or outside them, or even in the honour of Wallingford, who forbid the sheriffs to enter upon their land or their soke for the purpose of seizing those who have been accused or publicly known as robbers or murderers or thieves, or receivers of them, or outlaws, or those accused under forest [law]; on the contrary, [the king] commands them to give assistance in seizing those [suspects].
12. And if any one is seized who possesses [the proceeds] of robbery or theft, should he be a notorious person and have a bad reputation, and should he not have a warrantor, let him not have his law. And if he is not notorious, let him, on account of his [suspicious] possessions, go to the [ordeal of] water.
13. And if any one, in the presence of lawful men or of a hundred [court], has confessed robbery or murder or theft, or the reception of those [who have committed such crimes], and should he then wish to deny it, let him not have his law.
14. The lord king also wills that those who make their law and are cleared by the law, if they are of very bad reputation, being publicly and shamefully denounced by the testimony of many lawful men, shall abjure the lands of the king, so that they shall cross the sea within eight days unless they are detained by the wind; then, with the first [favourable] wind that they have, they shall cross the sea and thenceforth not return to England, except at the mercy of the lord king; [so that] they shall there be outlaws and shall be seized as outlaws if they return.
15. And the lord king forbids that any waif (vaivus) that is to say, one wandering or unknown shall be given lodging anywhere except in a borough; and he should not be given lodging there for more than one night unless he or his horse becomes ill there, so that he can show evident excuse [for his delay].
16. And if [otherwise] he stays there for more than one night, let him be seized and held until his lord may come to give pledge for him, or until he himself may find good sureties; and let him who provided the lodging be likewise seized.
17. And if any sheriff has notified another sheriff that men have fled from his county into the other county as the consequence of robbery or murder or theft, or of receiving those [who have committed such crimes], or of outlawry, or of accusation under the king's forest [law], let the latter [sheriff] seize them. Also, if he knows of himself or through others, that such men have fled into his county, let him seize them and guard them until he has good sureties for them.
18. And all sheriffs shall have the names of all fugitives who have fled from their counties written down, and this they shall do before [the courts of] their counties. And the names of those men, [thus] written down, they shall bring before the justices when first they report to those [justices], so that the latter may make inquiry throughout all England and may seize the chattels [of the fugitives] for the use of the king.
19. And the lord king wills that, as soon as the sheriffs have received the summons of the itinerant justices to come before the latter together with [the courts of] their counties, they shall bring together [the courts of] their counties and make inquiry concerning all who recently, after this assize, have come into their counties; and they shall put those [newcomers] under pledge to appear before the justices, or they shall guard those [newcomers] until the justices come to them, and then they shall bring [the newcomers] before the justices.
20. The lord king also forbids monks or canons or any religious community to receive any one from the lower classes (de minuto populo) as a monk or a canon or a brother until it is known of what reputation he may be, unless he is sick unto death.
21. The lord king also forbids that any one in all England shall receive under him within his land or his soke or his house any from the sect of those renegades branded and placed under excommunication at Oxford. And if any one does receive them, he shall be in the mercy of the lord king; and the house in which they resided shall be taken outside the vill and burned. And every sheriff shall take an oath to obey this [command]; and he shall have this sworn by all his officials, by the stewards of barons, and by all knights and freeholders of the county.
22. And the lord king wills that, during his pleasure, this assize shall be observed in the kingdom.
(Latin) Ibid., pp. 170 f.
 In this context the word means an ordinance or set of instructions delivered to the king's ministers. The text comes to us on the authority of a chronicler and in many places lacks the precision and clarity that we should expect in a document issued by the royal chancery. See below, p. 80, n. 1.
 The king's itinerant justices who from time to time held full meetings of the county courts.
 That is to say, submitted to ordeal.
 Cf. no. 24.
 An important fief that was declared forfeit by Henry II and thenceforth held by a member of the royal house.
 See above, p. 37, n. 6.
 See no. 35.
 In other words, he is to have no chance of clearing himself.
 Heretics, probably Albigensians; see Pollock and Maitland, II, 547.