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Medieval Sourcebook:
Theodore, Count of Flanders:
Grant of Land for Gild-Hall of St. Omer, 1151

The object of having a gild-hall and market place under the control of the gild was not only for the centralizing of commercial activity in the town, but also for exercising a close supervision over all transactions, especially over those of foreigners who were not ordinarily allowed to sell at retail.

I, Theodore, by the grace of God, Count of Flanders, with the consent of my wife Sybil, and of my son Philip, have transferred to the citizens of St. Omer, to be held lawfully by them, the land in the market place on which the gild-hall of that town is situated, with its adjuncts and appendages, both of timber and of stone, and the right to hold a market in the hall or in its appendages. I have also granted this liberty to them, that if any one should come to that place, wheresoever he may have committed an offense, my judge shall not be allowed to arrest him in that hall. But he in whose custody the hall is, when he has been advised by the judge of the wrong done, should bring in the culprit, except he protect himself by bail, and should deliver him to the judge in the presence of two or more bailiffs. When the judge has him in his power he should deal with him according to the magnitude of his offense.

We have added this too, that a foreign merchant shall never sell or expose his merchandise for sale except in that hall or its appendages or in the open market. Burgesses alone may sell in the market, in the gild-hall, or, if they wish more, in their own houses.

And, since all things grow old with the passage of time, I have signed this and placed my seal upon it. Witnesses, etc.


From: J. M. Kemble, ed., The Saxons in England, (London: Quaritch, 1876), Vol. II, Appendix, p.

533, reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 204-205.

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© Paul Halsall, September 1998


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