CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON

CONSTITUTIONS OF CLARENDON

Constitutions of Clarendon. Hist. A 12th-century statement of customary law, produced during the reign of Henry II, intended to limit the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts and narrow the clergy’s exemption from secular justice.

¡°During the first half of the twelfth century the claims of the church were growing, and the duty of asserting them passed into the hands of men who were not mere theologians but expert lawyers. Then, as all know, came the quarrel between Henry and Becket. In the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164) the king offered to the prelates a written treaty, a treaty which, so he said, embodied the ¡®customs’ of his ancestors, more especially of his grand-father. Becket, after some hesitation, rejected the constitutions. The dispute waxed hot; certain of the customs were condemned by the pope. The murder followed …. [F]rom [Henry’s] time onwards the lay courts, rather than the spiritual, are the aggressors and the victors in almost every contest.¡± 1 Frederick Pollock & Frederic W. Maitland, The History of English Law 124¨C25 (2d ed. 1898).


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