Episcopal Power and Royal Jurisdiction in Angevin England
Studies in Canon Law and Common Law in Honor of R.H. Helmholz, Robbins Collection Studies in Comparative Legal History (Troy L. Harris ed., 2015), pp. 15-26
12 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2015 Last revised: 18 Dec 2015
Date Written: May 26, 2015
During the second half of the twelfth century, powerful and charismatic bishops presented a threat to the emerging jurisdiction of the king’s courts. By contrast, King John was able to fill key episcopal vacancies with loyal bureaucrats who acted as servants to the king. This paper will consider how the assertion and subsequent cession of power by English bishops under the Angevin kings shaped the developing jurisdiction of the common-law courts, particularly in disputes over advowsons, or rights of presentation to churches. The evidence suggests that the bishops played a significant role in the development of the early common law, first by sending litigation into the king’s courts and later by declining to challenge the primacy of royal jurisdiction.
Keywords: Legal History, Jurisdiction, Courts, Property
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