صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

was so highly valued, that even the Monarchs of Norway sometimes entered the -lists as Advocates. A remarkable dialogue has been preserved, or perhaps invented, by Snorro, in which the two brothers, King Eystein and King Sigurd, are introduced extolling their own merits, like the shepherds in Virgil or Theocritus. The rivals began by claiming praise for strength and dexterity.-Sigurd had walked erect, whilst loaded with a burthen, beneath which Eystein fainted; and Eystein could swim across the roaring torrent, when Sigurd had been appalled by its waves.-Sigurd sent forth the truest arrow; but Eystein darted over the frozen snow as swiftly as the shaft. Then each in sisted on his mental acquirements.--Eystein exulted in his know. ledge of the law, and the fluency of his speech; Sigurd allowed the eloquence of his brother, but upbraided him for his unworthy quibbles; and, indeed, he had experienced their might in the suit defended by Eystein on the part of Sigurd Hranson ; and which is an amusing exemplification of the evasions allowed by the Norwegian law.

King Sigurd had good ground of complaint against Sigurd Hranson, the receiver-general of the tribute paid by the Laplanders, whom he accused of peculation; and, without calling in the aid of his attorney-general, the King himself instituted proceedings against the discarded minister in the moot-hall of Bergen, where his Norwegian Majesty appeared in his own proper person. Here, as the Saga hints, it had been previously arranged, that " Sigurd Hranson was to be made an outlaw.' Being in this predicament, the Defendant thought it expedient to solicit the assistance of King Eystein, who then was a kind of opposition King, and who gladly consented to appear as his advocate.-King Eystein took his first objection to the competency of the court- This matter must be judged • according to the common law of the land, in the shire court; • it appertaineth not to the jurisdiction of the town.'-King Sigurd allowed the exception, though with a very bad grace, and the suit was removed into the shire court of Arnanes. Sigurd Hranson did not appear at Arnanes : at the expiration of his summons he had cast no essoign, and King Sigurd, therefore, craved that the deemsters should pronounce sentence of outlawry and fugitation.

Ever watchful of the interest of his client, King Eystein now arose and spake It seemeth to me that in this wise and worship• ful assembly there are men well areed in the laws of Norway, • and who must know that the court cannot thus doom a King's • thane to outlawry. '- There were no peers of the accused in court, as we gather from the subsequent proceedings. The

m. He siguredicamece of who

as a matto®sm this gurd

point raised by the royal advocate was decided to be good law; and the court again broke up.li : King Sigurd now thought it advisable to try his cause in the shire court of Guloe, whither he summoned his chief thanes, who were associated with the shiresmen. Loud debates arose, and powerful arguments resounded; and the suit, according to the expression employed by Snorro, was ' thoroughly ransack. ed.' King Eystein lay by, and said nothing, until he felt that this investigation would end unfavourably for his client; but then he spoke, and excepted against the jurisdiction of the court— for that the defendant, who had his domicile within

Frosta-things-law, was accused of acts done in Halogaland; and there were no freeholders from either of these shires then

present.' The court allowed that the Defendant was not properly put upon his country; and the Plaintiff King was dismissed without a day. Irritated by the repeated defeats which he had received from the ingenuity of his brother, King Sigurd yet became keener in the pursuit. He summoned all his thanes and their knights, and a sufficient number of freeholders from every shire, to the court which was held at Hrafniste. Before King Eystein departed from Nidaros into the place where the trial was to be held, he obtained a procuration from Sigurd Hranson, by which the cause and its defence was wholly made over to him. Each King spake; and the court was pros ceeding with the trial, when the wary Eystein appalled his brother with a new subterfuge. Since when '--quoth he, addressing the court hath it been the law of Norway, that you • freeholders are here to sit in judgment when King strives with

King? I will show to ye, and I will prove to ye, that the cause and its defence are mine; and King Sigurd is now

bringing his suit against me, against King Eystein, and not ( against Sigurd Hranson.' The lawmen' answered unanimously, that no court could take cognizance of a royal cause, except the " Eyrar-thing,' assembled at Nidaros; and consequently, that they had no further authority in the matter.

It is foreign to cur present purpose to investigate the consti: tution of this judicial assembly, which also had the nomination of the monarchs of Norway; and we must only state, that, in due time, the trial came on before the Eight Hundreds of Drontheim. Witnesses were called on behalf of the crown; and Bergthor- Bockr, the son of Svein Bryggioföt, stood up and proved, that Sigurd Hranson had been guilty of applying a portion of the tribute to his own use. We may conclude, that King Sigurd now anticipated the fulfilment of his revenge. King Eystein, however, coolly remarked, that he did not know whes

VOL. XXXIV. NO. 67.

ther the witness had, or had not, spoken the truth ;- but, • be the proofs ever so clear, judgment for the defendant in this 6 same cause hath been given thrice at the common law, and

s once in the moot of Bergen; and therefore I crave, that the ** Court do now absolve Sigurd Hranson from all further pur• suit, according to law.' The law was indisputable; and the court gave judgment for the defendant forthwith. Then spake Sigurd the king all wrathfully-Well do I see, King Eystein, • that thou art cunning in the wiles of law, of which I am reck« less;--but I can yet seek justice in a guise, to which I per• chance am better versed than thou art:'-And King Sigurd now appealed to his own right hand. The sea king prepared for battle; but in the afternoon, as he was sitting on the deck of his vessel feasting, a suppliant suddenly appeared, who threw himself at King Sigurd's feet. It was the delinquent Hranson, who prayed the King to do his will with him, rather than that he should be the cause of enmity between brother and brother. Bishop Magnus and Queen Malfrida joined their prayers to this appeal; and king Sigurd granted an unwilling pardon.

Wherever settled or dispersed, from the Orkneys to Sicily, the descendants of the Scandinavians have always trod the mazes of law with unabated pertinacity. Their chicanery spread like a wide-wasting pestilence, flowing on with each warlike migration. Faithful ever to the cause of discord, * the Normans of Normandy inherited their proverbial love of litigation from the first followers of Hastings and of Rollo; the subtleties of the Exchequer of Rouen, were lineally descended from the wisdom of the Northern folkmote. Then, in England, the distemper was renovated by the grim Justiciars who came in with William the Conqueror, and whose ghosts, in the shape of quirks and quillets, sometimes haunt the great hall of Westminster, even in an age of civilization, and without being scared by the sunshine of intellect which blazes there. In France,

• Quand la Discorde encore toute noire de crimes.

Sortant des Cordeliers pour aller aux Minimes, i
Avec cet air hideux qui fait fremir la paix
S'arrêta pres d'un arbre au pied de son palais,
La, d'un æil attentif contemplant son empire
A l'aspect du tumulte elle même s'admire,
Elle y voit par le coche d'Evreux et des Mans
Accourir a grand flots ses fideles Normands
Elle y voit aborder le Marquis, la Comtesse,
Le Bourgeois, le Manant, le Clergé, la Noblesse.'

Le Lutrin. Chant 1. v. 24. 35.

the captious spirit of the Normans obtained a lordly sway. The wise custom of Normandy' was considered as the very model of jurisprudence; and its principles were adopted into most of the tribunals of the Pays Costumier. The Evil afterwards followed the Red Cross into the Holy Land. When Palestine was conquered by the Latins, the Norman law became one of the component parts of the Assizes of Jerusalem. The Cadi was displaced by the feudal seneschal; but if the Crusaders could have appreciated the Alcoran, the book of radiance might have excited regret when its summary and despotic justice was compared with the elaborate pages of John of Ibelin, who declares, that it is out of his power to enumerate all the modes of delaying a suit;

for the more one man is wiser and more cunning, and a bet• ter pleader than another, the more is he able to discover ;'t.

+ The naiveté of the language employed in the Assizes is sufficiently amusing. ' Il y a trois fuites principaux de plait, et en • chascuns des dites fuites a plusiors manieres de fuites que trop se

roient longues et riotteuses a mettre en escrit ce que l'en poroit ( metre a escrit, ne nul ne les y poroit toutes metre, car enci que ' chascun est plus sages et plus soutil et meillor Pleideoir l'un que l'au« tre, en cotitreuve il plus.'-Assizes de Jerusalem, c. xxxi.

No pettifogger embued with all the rnysteries of sham bail and sham pleas, could better understand the art of wearying a plaintiff than John of Ibelin, Earl of Jaffa, of Ascalon, Lord of Beritus and of Rama: his precepts for leogthening the law's delay, occupy many a folio page; and when he teaches é comment l'on peut longuement plait fuir,' he declares his precepts with the zest and spirit of an old sportsman. As an example of the proceedings, we may note the course which he prescribes to a defendant in an appeal of murder or homicide, who, by demanding a day, ' might have a reasonable chance of postponing the hearing of his cause until the great day of final judgement.* Qui veut Plait fuir à clam de quoi l'on dit que assize tot le jour, et « le clam est de murtre ou de homicide ou de chose que il conveigne

avoir, ains qu'on demande le jour a cest clam se la Court l'esgarde et mete son retenail-sans dire plus a celle fois--Et quand

il aura perdu cel esgart die “i je veuil avoir jour se la Court l'es« garde par ce que l'on onques de cest clam ne se clama de moi en « Court et mete son retenail." --Et quand il aura cel esgard perdu • die ce meismes, et tant plus que l'on onques ne se clama de moi en • Cour ou je fusse present et mettra soi en esgart sauf son retenail, et

die, “ Je veuil avoir jour se la Court l'esgarde par ce que j'entends " que l'on a de tous noviaus clams jour, et mete son retenail."-Et

apres die,“ je veux avoir jour se la Court l'esgarde por ce que j'en“ tens que l'on doit avoir jour au noviau clam, se costume ne le tot; es et mete son retenail."--Et apres die,“ Je veuil avoir jour en

and certainly, according to the mysteries which he unravels, it may be suspected, that many an action which was begun in the first year of the reign of King Godfrey of Bullen, must have remained still undecided when Saladin delivered the Holy City from the pollution of the unbelievers.

Montesquieu supposes, that the knowledge of the older laws of the Teutonic tribes, became useless or obsolete at the period when trial by battle acquired greater prevalency. But his theory relating to the battle ordeal, and its supposed connexion with negative proofs, does not retain its pertinency in Scandinavia, when this mode of trial was irregular in its system, and often extrajudicial.

King Frotho decreed, that all controversy, that is to say, al wrongs or affronts, were to be decided in the field. + According to a chapter added to the Uppland law, I and which has been quoted by Robertson from Stiernhöok, the usage of the “heathen days' allowed of duel or single combat, in answer to the inexpiable accusation of cowardice, an accusation which could only be effaced by blood; the recreant who refused to give the satisfaction of a gentleman, where three ways meet,' lost his law, and

• cest clam par ce que j'entens que l'on doit avoir jour a tous noviaus • clams se assize ne le tot, et mete son retenail."--Et apres die,“ je “ veuil avoir jour se la Court l'esgarde, par ce que a tous noviaus « clams, se l'assize ou l'usage ou coustume ne le tot [l'on doit avoir “ jour] ne je n'entens que il ait coustume que cel jour teulle, et mete " son retenail."--Et apres “ je veuil avoir jour se la cour l'esgarde “ por ce que n'entens qu'il soit usage que cest jour teulle et se mete “ en esgart et en retenail. "--Et apres die, “ je veuil avoir jour si “ la Court l'esgarde, par ce que je n'entens qu'il y ait assize en cest “ Royaume qui le jour teule & mete son retenail.”-A summary of the Assizes is given by Mr Mill in his lucid and valuable history of the Crusades. The text published by La Thaumassiere is much corrupt. ed by the blunders either of the transcriber or of the printer. A correct edition of the Assizes and of the Custumals of France, most of which, in their antient form, are yet inedited, would do honour to the French Nation.,

De qualibet verò controversia ferro decerni sanxit, speciosius • viribus quam verbis, confligendum existimans. Quod si alter dimi• cantium relato pede prænotati orbis gyrum excederet perinde ac • vinctus causæ detrimentum reciperet.

I The chapter is entitled• On battle and single combat; from the old lars which were usel in the heathen time, '--' If a man speaks to another those words • which ought not to be spoken-- Thou art not a man's equal, thou « art not a man in thy heart-I am as much a man as thou arto." Then shall they meet at the mceting of three ways, &c.

« السابقةمتابعة »