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INT KOI) UCTION.
The reports of Easter and Trinity Terms of the four- Progress
teenth year of the reign of Edward III. are included in of
the present volume, and, had space permitted, those of
another term would have been added. Both the collation of MSS. and the comparison of the reports with the records have been carried far beyond the last of the cases now printed. Fitzherbert's Abridgment, too, has been examined from beginning to end, and every case noted of every subsequent term as far as the end of the sixteenth year of the reign.
As stated in the Introduction to the volume of Year And of the Books, 12-13 Edward III. (pp. xiv-xv) published in the *Iossar>year 1885, a glossary of the French language, written and spoken in England, as made known to us by the reports in French, is an essential feature of the present undertaking. It is not the least important or the least difficult part of the work, as the language or dialect, being one of a large number of Romance languages and dialects, cannot be thoroughly understood except in relation to its parentage and family connexions. On the other hand, the only direct sources of information with regard to the French spoken in England down to the time of the disuse of pleading in French are the Year Books, and a great portion of the Year Books is, for all philological purposes, still in manuscript. The old Black Letter editions cannot for a moment be trusted in relation to delicate variations in the forms of words. Even the MSS. themselves require the most careful collation, because the transcribers who multiplied copies were not by any U 50018. b
means infallible, and sometimes made very serious mistakes. A single MS. has usually been taken for the old editions, and a transcript of it more or less accurate has been printed, without extension of contractions, and without correction of errors.
When, however, the MSS. are carefully compared, the language actually spoken day by day is clearly brought out, and the variations of orthography are seen to be no greater than in the English of a later period. There has probably never been a language which, after so long a lapse of time, has left such a perfect memorial of itself as the French spoken in English Courts of Justice, and written in various instruments of the same period. There are other ancient languages which we know as they were written in history, poetry, or philosophy, and which have left such indications of ordinary speech as are to be found in the drama or in artificial displays of oratory. But the colloquial phrases and idioms used by men of cultivation in their ordinaiy avocations more than five hundred years ago have been handed down in the Year Books, which are, in this respect, absolutely unique.
Plan The plan adopted in editing the two preceding
adopted in volumes has again been followed. The records have the two °
preceding been searched as exhaustively as possible, and the continued- reports have been illustrated, and, where necessary, the records corrected by their aid. In this way a double task is period are being accomplished, as the Year Books are made to being made serve as a guide for the selection of all that is most thTnghVoi important in the rolls, in relation not only to legal but also the Year to social history. The records of the period are of such enormous bulk that the idea of printing the whole of them could hardly be entertained even by an enthusiast. The advantage would not justify the labour or the expense. But the rolls contain matter of inestimable value, which may be separated from the dross. The reported cases are almost invariably found to be the most important for all purposes, even though the report may be meagre and not easily intelligible. The plea rolls, too, are often in need of explanation which is furnished by the reports. Thus the records of the period are being made known and placed under a light which only the Year Books could throw upon them, and the index to the Year Books may serve as an index to the rolls themselves.
As before, the reports have been identified with the abridgment made by Fitzherbert in every instance in which they were known to him, and the few cases which have been printed in the Liber Assisaruvi have been marked with references to that book.
The MSS. which have been used for the text of the The MSS. present volume are the Temple MS., the Lincoln's Inn llsed' MS., the Additional MS., numbered 25,184, in the British Museum, and the Harleian MS., No. 741. They have all been described in preceding volumes.
A question of some interest presents itself in the case The
of the Countess of Kent v. the Abbot of Ramsey:1—Porta; How is the word "war" to be interpreted when the0" exemption from payment of the farm of a fair is ^"g^" granted in case the grantees of the fair should lose their definition fair at any time or in any year "occasione guerrae ot"War" futurae."
The words in Latin are from a record2 relating to the case, in which the charter granting the exemption is cited. In one report, however, the phrase used is " par "cause de gerre en son roialme" (by reason of war in
1 No. 54 of Easter Term. 5 Exchequer. Memoranda or Remembrance Roll of the King's
Remembrancer, Easter, 14 Edward
the King's realm), in the other " par guerre en sa terre," which has the same meaning. "War" The grantees of the fair of St. Ives (the Abbot and Tnth'eWar Convent of Ramsey) claimed exemption from a rent of Realm." 501. per annum, because the fair had not been held in the lltli, 12th, and 13th years of the reign of Edward III. by reason of the war with the French. It is obvious that when words are to be interpreted, it is of importance to know, in the first instance, precisely what those words are. "War in the realm " is one thing; "war" might be the same thing or might conceivably be something very different. It is remarkable that in both reports, Pole, the Counsel for the Abbot, is represented as speaking of "war in the realm," and claiming the exemption on that ground, whereas if the recital in the writ to the Barons had been correct, he had the simple term "war" on which he could rely. The recital in this writ, however, was probably founded on a statement made on the part of the Abbot, which was not borne out upon inspection of the charter itself, and this would account for the diserepancy and for the way in which the matter was put by Pole. In the writ itself the Barons were directed to inspect the charter and previous allowances, if any, and the decision must of course have been given upon the actual words of the charter, whatever they may have been. They were probably those cited in the subsequent writ of Error:' — "occasione guerrae in Regno Angliae futurae."
The Realm Judgment was given against the Abbot, and therefore
is in a state it is certain that, according to the definition of the ot peace"
when its Barons of the Exchequer, a war between the English engagedln and French, not waged on English soil, is not "war in war, if not the realm." And even though the effect might be to thTsoil°of prevent the holding of a fair, this would not give the
1 Exchequer. Remembrance or ] ward III., Brevia ilirecta BaroniMemoranda Roll of the KiDg's bus, R°. 1. Remembrancer, Easter, 15 Ed- I