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parliament appointed a protector and council to govern during his minority. He added to the peerage the dignity of Viscount. In his reign the Wars of the Roses broke out between the rival houses of York and Lancaster. During Edward IV.'s occupation of the throne the parliament granted to him tonnage and poundage for his life; the act declaring “that tonnage was given for the defence of the realm, and especially for the safeguard and custody of the sea; and poundage for the safeguard and keeping of the sea.” In the troubled time of the Wars of the Roses, we do not find any advance or improvement in the parliamentary system.
Stat. 12 Edward IV., cap. 3.
CONSTITUTIONAL STATUTE LAW, AND COURTS OF JUSTICE.
FeoM MAGNA CHARTA To HENRY WII.—A.D. 1215–1485.
Courts of Justice.—The King the Fountain of Justice.—Courts of Law. —King's Bench.-Common Pleas.-Exchequer.—Nisi Prius Courts. —Gaol Delivery.—Court of Chancery.—Courts of Appeal.—Inferior Courts.-Sheriffs.-Coroners.-Justices of the Peace.—The Common Law.—Records of the Courts.-Earliest Statutes.—Characteristics of the Legislation of the Middle Ages.—Statutes Civil and Ecclesiastical. —Concerning the Liberty of the Subject.—Taxation without consent of Parliament.—Assembling of Parliament.—Mode of Election and Qualification of Electors of Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses.— Sheriffs.-Justices of the Peace.—Treason.—Benevolences.—The Clergy.—In Restraint of the Pope.—Against Heresy.
In the last chapter it was proposed to consider the progress of the Statute Law, separately, from the rise and growth of parliamentary procedure and privilege: and we now proceed to review the statutes passed to give effect to the advancing constitution, from Magna Charta to the commencement of the reign of Henry VII. But, before stating the laws, we will briefly advert to the means provided for the administration of the laws, THE Counts of JUSTICE. According to the theory of the constitution, founded on the ancient practice, the king is the supreme judge of the State. The Anglo-Saxon monarchs, in their progresses through their dominions, regularly discharged in person their judicial functions. “These were of a twofold nature: the ordinary authority of the inferior courts, and the prerogative supremacy over all the inferior tribunals, called into 110 KING THE Fount AIN OF JUSTICE. [CH. VIII.
action when they were unable or unwilling to afford re-
KING's BENCH, com Mon PLEAs, ExCHEQUER. 111
circumstance, although retaining all the jurisdiction of the Curia Regis; and retaining also the form, in its proceedings, of being held before the king, wherever he should be in England. This court acquired the name of the court of KING's BENCH, in distinction to the court of Common Bench. It was presided over by a Lord Chief Justice, and (now four) puisne judges; and, in the course of time, that court, although in theory removable with the person of the king, held (as it now holds) its sittings permanently in Westminster Hall. To the king's ExchEQUER, also, a court of justice was attached. The Exchequer was instituted by the Normans: it was the king's treasury, receipt, or place where the revenue was paid in, and supervised and managed. At its first institution the chiefs of it were called “Barones Scaccarii,” and in addition to its ordinary duties, the king and the barons administered justice in civil causes, or common pleas. But when common pleas were separated from the Curia Regis, pursuant to Magna Charta, the Exchequer also ceased to retain its judicial authority, except in cases which related to the king, or to the residents and ministers of the Exchequer." The Exchequer, however, in process of time, recovered its legal jurisdiction in civil cases, by the fiction of supposing the suitor to be a debtor to the crown, and unable to pay his taxes or duties to the king, because of the default of the defendant, his debtor. Through that fiction, expressed in its writs, it assumed jurisdiction over pleas between subject and subject, concurrently with the courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas. This court is constituted by a Lord Chief Baron and (now) four puisne barons. These courts rank in the order of King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer. Their jurisdiction in civil suits is co-ordinate, the selection of the court being left to the suitor. * Madox's Exchequer, vol. i. pp. 179, 209, 214. The statute 28 Ed
ward I., cap. 4 (1300), enacted that no common pleas should thenceforth be holden in the Exchequer, contrary to the form of the Great Charter.
But the court of King's Bench has exclusive jurisdiction in matters against the king's peace, or in which the Crown is concerned. It also exercises, by the writ of Mandamus, the power of commanding magistrates, corporations, and other public functionaries, to do their duties, and, by writs of prohibition, the power of keeping inferior courts within the bounds of their authority. The court of Exchequer continues to have special jurisdiction over revenue litigation. The judges of these courts were (as they now are) also justices of NISI PRIUs, in which capacity they go twice (or sometimes thrice) in every year, into the several counties of the kingdom, arranged into circuits, to try actions or causes commenced in the three courts of Westminster Hall, before juries of the counties in which the litigating parties dwell; —thus bringing justice home to every man's door. They also, as justices of GAOL-DELIVERY, preside over the trials by jury, of the criminals imprisoned in the gaols of the several counties. When the office of chief justiciar was abolished by Edward I., as invested with too much power to be entrusted to any subject, the LeRD CHANCELLeR became the first law officer of the crown. He is appointed by the delivery of the king's great seal into his custody; whereby he becomes, without writ or patent, an officer of the highest rank, and superior in point of precedency te every temporal lord. Out of the great and various matters entrusted to his judgment and decision the court of Chancery arese, in which the lerd chanceller sat alone, administering justice witheut the intervention of a jury. The nature of the cases brought before him for decision, and the principles upen which he decided, gave to his court the appellation of a caurt of Equity. The cases were considered either as not within the jurisdiction of the courts of law, er as requiring a species of redress that ceurts ef law ceuld not administer. A large preportien
ef these were secret trusts and centracts, which the ceurt of
Chancery could bring te light by means of its power, net