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The kingdom of Jerusalem was founded by the Crusaders, who were chiefly French ; but of whom, however, a great number belonged to other Christian countries. From this assemblage proceeded those laws, which have relation, more or less direct, with the legislation of the principal countries of Europe. It is, however, certain, beyond dispute, that the greatest part of these laws were taken from the laws of France. In fact, we see, in Chapter 294, that in order to decide a question of hereditary right, one of the parties quoted the laws of France. “ It is very hard to believe," said he,“ that the laws of the kingdom of Jerusalem could be contrary to those of France.” French civilians have experienced no difficulty in finding, in this code, traces of the ancient laws of their country, and in declaring, that it is nothing more than a collection of the laws then received in France. *
The first question which naturally presents itself, when we proceed to examine this remarkable code, is, Who was the compiler of the collection of laws, known under the name of “ The Assises of Jerusalem ?”
If we are to believe the title-page of the work, they were collected by Godfrey himself ; but we know, that princes take little interest in the laws which are published in their reigns. They sanction them with their name and authority, but the formation of them is left to counsellors, either skilled in the law or not, as it may happen, who are guided therein by the knowledge which they chance to possess, and, more frequently, by the prejudices by which they are blinded. Moreover, the perusal of the first chapter makes it appear, what were the means employed for the compilation of the Assizes of Jerusalem.
"11 (Godfrey, Duke of Boulogne) ehleut par le conseil dou Patriarche de la Sainte Cité en Yglise de Jerusalem, et par le conseil des princes et des barons, et des plus sages hommes à enquerre, et a savoir des gens
de diverses terres qui la estoient les usages de lors terres, et tout quant que ceaus que il ot ehleu à ce faire en portent savoir ne aprendre il mirent et! firent mettre en escrit ce aporterent cet escrit au duc Godefroy, et il assembla le patriarche, et les avant dis, et leur mostra et lor fit lire pardevant eaus cet escrit, et après par lor conseil et par lor accort, il conceuilli de ceaus escris ce que bon li sembla et enfin Assises et usage que l'on deure tenir et maintenir et user au royaume de Jerusalem, par les quels il ses gens et son peuble et toutes autres manieres des gens alans et venans et demorans fussent gouvernés et menés à droit, et à raison, et del royaume.
Brodeau, on the Laws of Paris.” “ Delalander on those of Orleans,” Art. 1. p. 4. “ Henrion de Pansey, de l'autorité judiciare en France,” p. 64.
Some learned men* have attributed the compilation of the Assises of Jerusalem to a civilian, named Philip of Navarre. M. de Ravalière,t in his Life of De Joinville, relates, that one of the serjeants of the king's army having struck one of the knights of the company of that noble, he demanded satisfaction from the prince, thinking that he should be dishonoured if it were not granted him. Louis ordered, that the sergeant, stripped to his shirt, and barefooted, should ask pardon, on his knees, of the knight, and offer his sword to him, saying, “ Coupez m'en le poing, si cela vous plait.” The author observes, that the king ordered this satisfaction, according to the laws, that is to the Assizes of Jerusalem, compiled, he says, by Philip of Navarre, a famous civilian, who went into the Holy Land; and he adds, La Thaumassière, when he published them, knew no more of the true compiler than Père Labbe and Ducange. We ought to add, that M. de Ravalière cites no authority to support the fact which he relates. Perhaps it is more correct to suppose, that the Assizes of Jerusalem have had different authors, who have added to them, and modified them, at different periods. It is certain, that the successors of Godfrey have made considerable changes in this code. Thus, the compilation, which appeared about 1250, was attributed to John d'Ibelin, Count of Joppa and Ascalon. It is possible, that Philip of Navarre took part in one of the compilations, which appeared before that of which we have just spoken. However, we have no particulars of the life of this civilian ; and we are ignorant, whether it is he who is spoken of in the following lines, quoted by Boulay in the second volume of his “ Histoire de l'Université,” where he makes mention of many men of whom Paris might, at that time (in the 12th century,) have been proud:
Oris Altisoni jactat dictantem jura Philippum. There can be no doubt respecting the period of the earliest publication of the “ Assises de Jerusalem,” since, from the first pages of the book, we learn that it was in the year 1099; they were revised in 1250, as we have just shown, and, in 1368 or 1369, they were reduced into the language in which they have come down to us.
We know of no more than two editions of the “ Assises de Jerusalem ;" one published at Bruges and Paris, in 1690, by
* “ Histoire Littéraire de la France,” tom. xiii. p. 95.
+“ Memoire de l'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres,”? tom. xx. p. 329.
La Thaumassière, who had procured the manuscript which formerly belonged to Brodeau, and which had been copied from that in the Vatican library. The other edition is more ancient, but it is not in the original language; it is an Italian translation, published at Venice, in 1535. La Thaumassière's edition contains no more than the first part of the Assises, called
Cours des Barons.” He has not published the second part, known under the name of Cours des Borges” (Cour des Bourgeois,) which, properly speaking, was the civil code of those times.
The Venetians having made themselves masters of Cyprus, and wishing to give it laws similar to the “Assises de Jerusalem, caused a correct copy to be made, which was the one made use of in the translation of the “Alta e bassa corté.” This manuscript is at present in the Aulic Archives of Austria; and, in the course of this article, we shall have many occasions to refer to it.
The importance with which the “Assises de Jerusalem" were looked upon, in France before the Revolution, which caused an almost general change in the legislation of that country, and rooted out the last remains of the feudal laws, suggested, in 1788, to M. Agier, a learned advocate of the Parliament of Paris, who died some years ago, President of the Cours Royal of that city, the project of publishing an edition of the “ Assises de Jerusalem," more complete and correct than that of La Thaumassière. For this purpose, he obtained from the republic of Venice, through the medium of the French government, a copy made from the manuscript in the Venetian library, which is more complete than any other known.* This copy was correctly executed : it is not known where it is deposited at present.
The general disposition which manifests itself in the present day, to search after, and study, old monuments of the history of the middle ages, has given rise to a design in M. Buchon, the editor of an important collection of national French chronicles, from the 13th to the 16th ages, of introducing, among the different works which compose that collection, a complete edition of the “ Assises de Jerusalem." The loss of the copy made from the manuscripts at Venice, obliges M. Buchon to have another executed at Vienna, the Aulic Archives being enriched with the Venetian manuscript, the only perfect one which is at present known.
We read, also, in a prospectus, of a collection of ancient maritime laws, by M. Pardessus, counsellor to the Court of
•“ Notices historiques, critiques, et bibliographiques, sur plusieurs livres de Jurisprudence Française, par M. Dupin." p. 4.
Cassation, and professor of law, that this able lawyer, in the collection which he announces, will publish an extract from the legislation of the Crusaders, established at Jerusalem, relative to maritime negociations, taken from that part of the “ Assises," called “ Cours des Borges,” (Cours des Bourgeois) of the Venetian MS.*
It is with great pleasure that we announce these works, which will throw new light on feudal legislation, and on the interesting and instructive history of the middle ages.
In the edition published by La Thaumassière, the “ Assises de Jerusalem” are divided into 331 chapters. The 81 first chapters treat of procedure ; chapters 82 to 112 relate to (apeaux) gages of battle and duels. Laws on different matters are contained in chapters 113 to 137; chapters 138 to 175 treat of fiefs ; chapters 176 to 181, to leases and securities. From chapters 182 to 274, the author enumerates different subjects relative to feudal times, especially the services due by vassals in war, law, and marriage. Chapters 279, and the following ones to 281, contain laws on various subjects; chapters 282 to 292 treat of the privileges of the king, and the great officers of the crown; chapter 293, and the following, to 306, relate to the contests for precedence, and the succession to the kingdom, between Hugh of Lusignan, the Count of Braine, and Maria of Beaumont. The ordinances and recent judgments are contained in chapters 309 to 313. Chapters 314, to the conclusion, treat of the services due to the king from the bishops, the nobility, gentry, and commons.
The most curious investigation of the “ Assises de Jerusalem” would, undoubtedly, be that which had for its end, to trace the origin of the principal doctrines of law, which are there to be met with, and to separate those which belong to the Roman law, to the customs of Normandy, to the ancient Anglo-saxon legislation, and to the old usages of French law.
It would be extremely laborious to form a complete analysis of this description, neither is it our intention to attempt it. We shall merely extract from this heap of different mandates, some of those which belong to the sources we have just mentioned. Our purpose is to prove that the Assizes of Jerusalem constituted a grand code, which the Christians of the West carried into the Holy Land, after they had conquered it, and that the materials for this code have been drawn from the laws of all the nations of which the crusading armies were comprised.
On paying closer attention to the “Assises de Jerusalem,” it
* “ Themes, ou Bibliothèque de Jurisconsulte," tom vi., p. 386.
is surprising to observe the connection which exists between the general spirit of the ancient laws of England, Scotland, Normandy, France, Spain, Denmark, &c. &c.
On this account, we regard this great feudal code as one of the most valuable monuments of the middle
ages, We will try to justify, by examples, the opinion which we have just given.
One of the most interesting features of all legislatures is that which relates to the proof of a fact alleged in justice. The following is the first principle upon this point, which we find in the “ Assises de Jerusalem.”
“Qui veult tost son plait atteindre, il doit faire estre en la Court tant de ses amis comme il pora, et prier les que ils soient ententis as paroles qui seront dites as plais, et bien entendre et retenir si que ils sachent bien le recorder ces egars et ces connaissances se mestier li est.”
These oral depositions of witnesses appear to have originated in the ancient Scandinavian legislature, of which we find curious examples in the collections of their laws. The Normans introduced this practice first in France, and afterwards in England. as appears from many passages in the ancient laws of Normandy. In fact, in that province, a judgment pronounced by the king, in his quality of Duke of Normandy, was recorded by his testimony, added to that of one witness. It is on this account, that the public audiences which were given by the king and the supreme judges, to give authenticity to their decisions, were called courts of record.* Is it not more than possible, also, that it is to this custom we owe that which is, at present, followed in the city of London, where the common law is never certified in writing, before the superior courts, but only stated in a clear voice by the recorder, who, for that purpose, appears in person, at the bar of the court?
Thus, we find that we are indebted to the Scandinavians for one of our customs of the present day, which was first introduced to us at the Norman conquest. This custom, after having been one of the items of the Norman common law, passed into the code of the Crusaders, and serves to explain the origin of an English institution.
It was a principle of public feudal right, that no female, who held a fief under any lord, could marry without the consent of her sụzerain. Chapter 246 of the “Assises de Jerusalem" furnishes us with a proof that this custom, which also prevailed among the barons of Scotland, (Quoniam allachiamenta, C. 91,) in the establishment of St. Louis, (Book I. chap. 60,) and in the
“Houard, Anc. Lois des Francs," tom. i., p.