THEMES AND ARGUMENT

The relationship between these two men, their offices and writings and administrative preferences provides a miniature synecdoche of this study’s broader themes: first the relationship between norms, rules, practices, and official conduct; secondly, a distinction I wish to draw between ‘political thinking’ and ‘political thought’, applied especially to an institutional context; and thirdly a desire to place English developments within a broader European context. These themes are sketched below in a historiographical context. The example can also illustrate the broader substantive argument, and this chapter closes with a summary of it. I outline first the three themes.

Roles and Rules: Character and Office

A central theme of this study is the question of how it was hoped given officials would behave, how they were required to behave, and the relationship between the two. Texts expressing some ideal of official conduct may have articulated those hopes quite differently from those implied by institutions which practically sought to secure medieval officers’ accountability. The contrast proposed above between Latini’s comments on the ideal character ofpodesta and the institution of sindacatio is one example. The issue of official accountability is of great importance given the rapid expansion of officers of all sorts in this period.[1] That expansion was consequent on the proliferation of all kinds of institution in the period. At the heart of any interpretation of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries must lie some account of Europeans’ appetite and aptitude for institutionalization.[2] One of the most significant recent contributions to this theme, Thomas Bisson’s Crisis of the Twelfth Century, might partly be characterized as a study of the problem and possibility of distinguishing at all between two ideal types of official in the twelfth century: between, ‘private’ lordly agents, and ‘public’ regnal officials with some meaningful sense of a public interest. For Bisson, lordship is generally associated with the first and cuts against the second, which is associated with a normative idea of office, the prerequisite for a politics aspiring beyond the interests of merely selfish lordship.[3] The accountability of agents thus becomes a proxy for the existence of that idea of office.[4]

The reference to ‘ideal types’ in this context speaks to a Weberian practice of thinking about both officials and ideal types. ‘Ideal types’ have been much misunderstood. To use them is not to adjudicate on how far given officers diverged or conformed to some supposed blueprint. Rather ‘the ideal type is a mental picture, which should neither be construed as historical reality, nor still the “real” truth, still less so as a schema which reality is orientated to like an exemplar; rather its meaning is to demarcate a completely ideal boundary, by which reality is measured or compared, so as to clarify particular, significant components of its empirical content.’[5] Medieval categories of person and the importance of thinking through types has produced an important historiography addressing how actual individuals inhabited and moulded their variously stiff robes of office.[6] A good deal of this historiographical thought has been interested in representation in and through types, influenced by the post-1967 Annales equipe.[7] The most influential French historiography of this sort has often been less interested in political, administrative, or legal structures and practices, which have tended to figure as a background, not foreground, element. This is in contrast to the longer constitutionalist tradition of historiography on officers of one sort or another. That historiography was principally interested in officers for the structure they provided to government. Some rapprochement, or at least rebalancing, seems evident more recently. More is said about these changes later in the chapter, but it is worth first explaining the approach to selecting officers taken here.

In its own literature, the period understandably left an enormous range of reflections on status and roles (adstatus sermons, encyclopedias, etc.). The most famous typology is that of the three orders (those of fighting, praying, and cultivating), but far more finely grained gradations were developed—such as the social meanings seen reflected in the game of chess and its pieces.[8] Such reflections on social and functional roles provided the exemplary content for how officers should conduct themselves.[9] At least two of the greatest works of medieval literature (Dante’s Commedia and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) are rule-bending demonstrations of how these roles and characters can vibrate with life when put under immense poetic pressure.

This can be explored further in relation to twelfth-century dictatores—those trained in the formal writing of letters. They thought hard about the correct forms of address to, and between, different addressees, and therefore between different social groups. Consequently they thought about how to divide those groups up: popes and emperors at the top, peasants at the bottom. The group in between was harder and it is upon them—neither the apex nor absolute bottom of medieval societies—that this study draws. This great middling group (the mediocres) contained, according to the mid-twelfth-century dictator Bernard of Bologna, everyone from archbishops to laymen holding offices of one sort or another.[10] Other dictatores, such as Peter of Blois (1125 x 1130—1212), offered further subdivisions, into a middling (mediocris) and a more exalted (sublimis) group. The latter included archbishops and bishops; the former, prepositi, prefecti, and consules. What was important in such segregations was ‘not profession in the technical sense of the word, but dignity, power, and office, and to a lesser extent [. . .] birth and nobility’.[11]

Medieval office denoted function,[12] honour, and responsibility.[13] This study takes up those topics of dignity, power, responsibility, and accountability. Its purpose is to examine how some of the members of these groups were deemed, and made, accountable—whatever ‘accountable’ may turn out to mean. Since dictatores’ hierarchical filing systems varied, their groupings do not structure this analysis. But they are useful as a point of departure about medieval hierarchies—where hierarchies of responsibility followed from positions of responsibility.[14] One presumption of taking this sample of mediocres is that there are things just as interesting to say about medieval political thinking respecting mediocres as there are respecting sublimes—kings and emperors. After all, the highest officers (and the most highly-strung in terms of the tension surrounding their accountability to others) may not offer the most representative perspective on accountability in the Middle Ages. Even if they have, logically, dominated the historiography of medieval political thought, the dominance of kings, emperors, and popes has arguably limited it, and likewise limited the history of political accountability, an issue developed below.[15]

In one important respect the study disregards an important axiom of many dictatores’ social filing systems, and some modern historiography. That axiom is that secular officers and religious officers are magnetically repellant to each other, such that each field should be considered separately. There are practical reasons why complex fields tend to be treated discretely; but a consequence is a diminished understanding of the connections between them. (Legal historiography often exemplifies both features.) There was an interplay between different ideas of officers and techniques for regulating them, whether this was causally direct or just observable in fact (e.g. the relationship between secular inquests and canonical inquisitions). Individuals moved between secular office and ecclesiastical office. A bishop could be thought a rector no less than a secular ruler such as apodestad[16] Hubert Walter, Justiciar, Chancellor, and Archbishop of Canterbury was involved (as we shall see) in a number of both secular and ecclesiastical inquisitiones as well as the canonization inquiries into Gilbert of Sempringham. Robert Grosseteste (also discussed below), was both Bishop of Lincoln and a translator of Aristotle’s Politics and writer on estate management. John of Crakehall was both Grosseteste’s steward and between 1258 and 1260 Exchequer Treasurer to the Baronial Council.[17] The conjunction of functions is relevant to an understanding of these men’s conduct in office.[18] There is a value in comparing different sorts of officer. Biblical norms seeped through thinking about religious and lay officers (the Gospel parable of the unjust steward could be cited regarding both secular and religious officers’ accountability). Legal learning could interpenetrate theology.45 The relationship between learned argument and administrative practices could be one of informed reciprocity.46 (Latini’s introduction to the Tresor explicitly indicates what pertains to theorique and what pratique.)47 But more holistic pictures of medieval political thinking have been hampered by a tendency to segregate secular government, administration, and law from its ecclesiastical partners. Bringing administration, law, theology, and political thinking under the same analytical consideration here with respect to secular and religious officials of different qualities is intended to address this.

The group discussed here, then, enables a sampling of differences and similarities within important medieval institutions: churches (bishops), seigneurial and ‘private’ administration (bailiffs and stewards), royal government (sheriffs), and charitable foundations (wardens), and to a much lesser extent, towns (mayors and podesta). There is a rich historiography on almost all of them.48 Other individual officers have received sustained treatment: ambassador,49 Flemish general receiver {general rech- eveur),50 notary,51 coroner.52 Some seemed too particular to provide a focus here. Others seemed too large to accommodate on this scale (judges, lawyers, abbots).53 Princes (principes) with dominium, to put it legalistically, are, as noted, largely [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27]

excluded.[28] The focus here, however, is on the norms, rules, and practices of accountability relating to officials at intermediate points in their hierarchies.

In evaluating these relationships between norms, rules, and practices I have tried not to presume any causal current naturally flowing in a given direction. Ideas may be instrumental in producing social change. Equally norms may be invoked ex post facto to justify emerging practices that fulfil some functional need. The polarity of a current running between intellectual ideas and social practices cannot be presumed. The potential intricacy of such issues is illustrated by Robert Bartlett’s discussion of the medieval ordeal. The ordeal, Bartlett argues, did not die a natural ‘functional’ death but was assiduously strangled c.1050—1215 by reforming clerical intellectuals.[29] Generally law has provided the most familiar field in which older ideas (e.g. Roman) are presumed to power or inspire new or reinterpreted practices. Sometimes this seems too easy an answer, but sometimes it may well just be right.[30] The tendency herein is to presume that a demonstrable genealogical precedent for a given form of accountability is not necessarily a sufficient explanation for its medieval versions. ‘The important thing is not the putative descent of some practice or institution, but its function and significance in the living society in which it has a place’ is quoted several times.[31] Likewise Maitland’s view that ‘legal ideas never reach very far beyond practical needs’.[32] This is probably too optimistic, but it is a better starting point than many. That Justinian’s Code 1.49 requires end-of-term auditing for military and civil provincial governors seems to me insufficient alone to explain the existence and form of Italian sindacatio—we obviously must look too at the practical needs that gave the rule life.

  • [1] See e.g. the complex familia of Roger of Pont l’Eveque, Archbishop of York, at the beginning ofthe period studied here, York, 1154—1181, ed. Marie Lovatt, EEA 20 (Oxford, 2000), xliii—liv.
  • [2] 28 It is an interesting question whether ‘institutionalization’ should be seen as a self-justifyingdynamic. Cf. Thomas Bisson’s comments on creating fiscal institutions in Catalonia: ‘Building efficient institutions was not yet an end in itself in the early thirteenth century. It was only a means, oneamong other still more favored means [e.g. violence] in support of the militant designs of a baronialmonarchy’, Fiscal Accounts of Catalonia under the Early Count-Kings (1151—1213), 2 vols. (Berkeley,Calif., 1984), i. 150.
  • [3] Thomas N. Bisson, The Crisis of the Twelfth Century: Power, Lordship, and the Origins of EuropeanGovernment (Princeton, NJ, 2009),passim. Yet even lordship could be construed as an office for whichone was capable or worthy (idoneus): see Edmund King, King Stephen (New Haven, Conn., 2010),8—9, on William of Blois and Robert Curthose. On idoneitas from the Carolingians to Adolf of Nassausee Edward Peters, The Shadow King: Rex Inutilis in Medieval Law and Literature, 751—1327 (NewHaven, Conn., 1970), 42, 44, 61-2, 65-7, 70, 233-4.
  • [4] Though cf. pp. 45-6, 252 how the thirteenth-century action of account could produce a meansof holding to account that (sometimes) legally fabricated the officer—bailiff—needed to express it.
  • [5] 31 ‘Die »Objectivitat« sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis’, in Max Weber,Schriften zur Wissenschaftslehre, ed. Michael Sukale (Stuttgart, 1991), 21-101 at 77.
  • [6] Exceptional studies significantly structured by consideration of their subjects’ roles are M.T. Clanchy, Abelard: A Medieval Life (Oxford, 1997) and Jacques Le Goff, Saint Louis (Paris, 1996).See also Le Goff’s work on exempla and on medieval ‘types’: id., Heros du Moyen Age, le saint et le roi(Paris, 2004); Claude Bremond, Jacques Le Goff, and Jean-Claude Schmitt, L'Exemplum”, TSMAO40 (1982); TheMedievalWorld, ed. Jacques Le Goff, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (London, 1990); AaronGurevich, The Origins of European Individualism, trans. Katharine Judelson (Oxford, 1995).
  • [7] Le Goff’s own ‘inside-out’ study, Saint Louis, focused less on politics and administration andmore on the effects of the linguistic turn, medieval exemplary types, the constraints of genres of regalrepresentation, and applying Louis Dumezil’s Indo-European tri-functional regal ideal of sacred, military, and productive functions to Louis IX. Cf. in a different idiom the equally authoritative studiesof Louis’s brother-in-law and contemporary Henry III executed by David Carpenter in The Minorityof Henry III (London, 1990) and The Reign of Henry III (London, 1996). The contrast is only partlyexplained by differences in the English/French archival base.
  • [8] On medieval orders see George Duby, Les Trois Ordres ou l’imaginaire du feodalisme (Paris,1978); Alexander Murray, Reason and Society in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1978); Giles Constable,‘The Interpretation of Mary and Martha’ and ‘The Orders of Society’, two of his Three Studies inMedieval Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge, 1995). On chess see the comments below atpp. 103—10 on the Dialogue of the Exchequer and S. I. Luchitskaya, ‘Chess as a Metaphor for MedievalSociety’, in Saluting Aron Gurevich: Essays in History, Literature and Other Related Subjects, ed. YelenaMazour-Matusevich and Alexandra S. Korros (Leiden, 2010), 277—99; Jenny Adams, Power Play: TheLiterature and Politics of Chess in the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia, 2006); Olle Ferm and VolkerHonemann (eds.), Chess and Allegory in the Middle Ages (Stockholm, 2005); Michel Pastoureau,LEchiquier de Charlemagne: Un jeu pour ne pas jouer (Paris, 1990) and Une histoire symbolique duMoyen Age occidental (Paris, 2004), 303—29.
  • [9] On the importance for societies of their emblematic characters and traditions see AlasdairMacIntyre’s, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2nd edn. (London, 1985), 27—31, 73, and on traditions and institutions 221—5; Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (London, 1988), 164—82; and ThreeRival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition (London, 1990), 149—69.
  • [10] 36 Giles Constable, ‘The Structure of Medieval Society According to the Dictatores of the TwelfthCentury’, in Kenneth Pennington and Robert Somerville (eds.), Law, Church and Society: Essays inHonour of Stephan Kuttner (Philadelphia, 1977), 253—67 at 256, 264 n. 20. See also Constable, ThreeStudies, 342—60.
  • [11] 37 Constable, ‘Structure of Medieval Society’, 253—67 (261 for Constable’s quote and 260, 267for Peter of Blois).
  • [12] 38 Richard Kieckhefer, ‘The Office of Inquisition and Medieval Heresy: The Transition fromPersonal to Institutional Jurisdiction’, JEH46 (1995), 36—61 at 47—9.
  • [13] Innocent III English Letters, #25 (1205), ‘Cum sit honori adnexum, exequi debet officium quibeneficium est sortitus.’
  • [14] Cf. Gregory the Great on this theme: Carole Straw, Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection(Berkeley, Calif., 1988), 86—9.
  • [15] 41 Ernst H. Kantorowicz infamously and classically addressed emperor and king in Kaiser Friedrichder Zweite (Berlin, 1927; Eng. trans. 1931) and The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval PoliticalTheology (Princeton, NJ, 1957). Parallel rationales to mine for examining middling royal officials areoffered by Romain Telliez, «Per potentiam officii»: Les Officiers devant la justice dans le royaume de Franceau XIVе siecle (Paris, 2005), 8; Cristina Jular Perez-Alfaro, ‘The King’s Face on the Territory: RoyalOfficers, Discourse and Legitimating Practices in Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century Castile’, inIsabel Alfonso, Hugh Kennedy, and Julia Escalona (eds.), Building Legitimacy: Political Discourses andForms of Legitimacy in Medieval Societies, The Medieval Mediterranean 53 (Leiden, 2004), 107—37 at108—9. Arguing that there are other, less charged officers worth examining obviously does not denythe central importance of issues of office, delegation, and answerability in relation to these highestoffices.
  • [16] 42 For bishop as rector see e.g. Innocent III English Letters, #23, 27 October 1205 (Reg. Inn. III,viii. #143 (142)).
  • [17] Adrian Jobson, ‘John of Crakehall: The “Forgotten” Baronial Treasurer, 1258-1260’, TCE 13(2011), pp. 83-99.
  • [18] Cf. Telliez, «Per potentiam officii» pp. 7-8.
  • [19] William Marx, ‘The Conflictus inter Deum et Diabolum and the Emergence of the Literature ofLaw in Thirteenth Century England’, TCE 13 (2011), 57—66.
  • [20] 46 e.g. Jean Dunbabin, The French in the Kingdom of Sicily, 1266—1305 (Cambridge, 2011), 222—3(on the Neapolitan nature of Aquinas’s political thinking), 224—5 (likewise James of Viterbo).
  • [21] 47 BL Add. MS 30024, fos. 8v-11v (§§1.1, 1.3-4).
  • [22] 48 Indicatively: on bailiffs, T F. T. Plucknett, The Mediaeval Bailiff (London, 1954), repr. as Studiesin English Legal History (London, 1983), essay V; Paul Brand, ‘Stewards, Bailiffs and the EmergingLegal Profession’, in Ralph Evans (ed.), Lordship and Learning: Studies in Memory of Trevor Aston(Woodbridge, 2004), 139—53. On sheriffs: W. A. Morris, The Medieval English Sheriff to 1300(Manchester, 1927); Judith A. Green, English Sheriffs to 1154, Public Record Office Handbooks24 (London, 1990); D. A. Carpenter, ‘The Decline of the Curial Sheriff in England 1194—1258’,EHR 91 (1976), 1—32, repr. in his Reign of Henry III, 151—82. For podesta see the bibliographyin Sabapathy, ‘A Medieval Officer and a Modern Mentality’, nn. 21, 23, 29. For bishops: RobertL. Benson, The Bishop-Elect: A Study in Medieval Ecclesiastical Office (Princeton, NJ, 1968); RobertBrentano, Two Churches: England and Italy in the Thirteenth Century, new edn. (Berkeley, Calif.,1988); Kenneth Pennington, Pope and Bishops: The Papal Monarchy in the Twelfth and ThirteenthCenturies (Philadelphia, 1984). I have not found a study of college wardens. For hospital wardens seeSethina C. Watson’s ‘Fundatio, Ordinatio and Statuta: The Statutes and Constitutional Documentsof English Hospitals to 1300’ (D.Phil. thesis, Oxford, 2004), and ead., ‘The Origins of the EnglishHospital’, TRHS, 6th ser. 16 (2006), 75—94.
  • [23] Donald E. Queller, The Office of the Ambassador in the Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ, 1967).
  • [24] 5° Ellen E. Kittell, From Ad Hoc to Routine: A Case Study in Medieval Bureaucracy (Philadelphia, 1991).
  • [25] 51 R. Aubenas, Etude sur le notariat proven$al au Moyen Age et sous lAncien Regime (Aix-en-Provence,1931); C. R. Cheney, Notaries Public in England in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (Oxford,1972).
  • [26] 52 R. F. Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner (Cambridge, 1961).
  • [27] On legal professionals, J ames A. Brundage, The Medieval Origins of the Legal Profession: Canonists,Civilians, and Courts (Chicago, 2008) and Paul Brand, The Origins of the English Legal Profession(Oxford, 1992). Accountability in religious orders is touched on at pp. 202^.
  • [28] See Kenneth Pennington, The Prince and the Law, 1200—1600: Sovereignty and Rights in theWestern Legal Tradition (Berkeley, Calif., 1993); Peters, Shadow King, Marguerite Boulet-Sautel, ‘LePrinceps de Guillaume Durand’, in Etudes dhistoire du droit canonique, dediees a Gabriel Le Bras, 2vols. (Paris, 1965), ii. 803—13.
  • [29] Robert Bartlett, Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal (Oxford, 1986), esp. pp. 42-43, 62, 69, 70-102, 139, 153, 164-5.
  • [30] 56 See Andrew Lewis’s sensitive consideration of whether either Henry II’s possessory assizes or theinstitutional idea of an Islamic charitable foundation (waqf owe their existence to Roman legal ideas,‘On Not Expecting the Spanish Inquisition: The Uses of Comparative Legal History’, Current LegalProblems 57 (2004), 53-84 at 57-62.
  • [31] Bartlett, Trial by Fire and Water, 154. He is criticizing the question that asks whether the ordealshould be seen as ‘really’ Christian or ‘really’ pagan. My quotation should not imply that Bartlett isarguing for a purely functionalist approach to legal change. Cf. a more basically sceptical view of theinstrumentality of (Roman, legal) ideas in Michael Prestwich (ed.), Documents Illustrating the Crisis of1297—1298 in England, CS 4th ser. 24 (1980), 28-30, and Michael Prestwich, Plantagenet England,1225-1360 (Oxford, 2005), 171.
  • [32] 58 Frederic William Maitland, Township and Borough (Cambridge, 1898), 27.
 
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