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Medieval Sourcebook:
John of Ibelin:
Account of a Plea, 1198

The earliest documented instance of an appeal to the Assise sur la ligece.

And I have heard from my lord uncle, the Old Lord of Beirut, that when King Aimery exiled Sir Ralph of Tiberias from the kingdom of Jerusalem, Sir Ralph requested and adjured [conjured them, that is, made them promise that they would] his peers that they maintain his right as [that of] their peer, and that they offered to do right to him in their capacity as his peers, if there was anyone who sued him for anything in court, and they offered help in the king's court in the matter with which he was charged; also he required and summoned and adjured them to come with him before the king. My lord uncle was one of those whom Sir Ralph adjured, as said above, and he and the other men of the king went into the court, where Sir Ralph said, 'Sire, you have exiled me from your kingdom without esgart ["award" = (mesne) judgement] and without verdict [(re)conoissance, as in the recognitio, by which Glanvill refers to the English jury of recognition.] of court. You neither ought to nor can do this thing, neither by assize [a reference surely to the Assise sur la ligece, as elsewhere in John's treatise, or perhaps to Baldwin's Assise on Confiscation.] nor by custom of this kingdom, so that I want my rights in your court. And, Sire, I offer in your court to do right, just as I ought by my peers, if there is anyone who demands anything of me in your court concerning that which you have accused me of having done against you, if there is any man who will maintain this, from the meanest man in your realm to the highest. And as much as I offer to do this in your court, you ought not to exile me from your kingdom without esgart and verdict of your court. Therefore I require and adjure you as my lord that you should not exile me from your kingdom, after what I have offered in your court, and that you do me right in your court as your man, and judge me by the esgart of my peers'.

And since the king was unwilling to take back what he had said, he [Ralph] required and conjured those peers that they should maintain him in right as they ought to do, since he was their peer and had offered and would offer in court what they had heard. And all the men of the king replied that they would do it willingly. And he thanked them and left the court. And all the men of the king petitioned that the king should refrain from what he had done, which was to exile their peer, and [told him] that if he did not do so, and did not judge Sir Ralph by the esgart of his court, then they would withhold from him, both jointly and severally the service which they owed him, until he had agreed to their request, and that he should know that they would maintain Sir Ralph against him, as they ought to since he was their peer. And many great words were said to the king, and so they left the king and went to Sir Ralph, and they told him that they had withdrawn from the king their service, and that they offered both jointly and severally to aid him and to maintain him as their peer in this matter as they ought to.

And he thanked them very much, and said to them that he would therefore withdraw his request and the summons that he had made to them; that simce the king was of such a mind against him, then he would not serve him nor would he remain in his realm for anything that the king could give him and do for him. And he left the kingdom within the term which the king had given him, and they let drop their withdrawal of what they had denied the king, because Sir Ralph had withdrawn his request to them, and the summons with which he had adjured them. And I have heard from my lord uncle, may God have his soul, that if such a case happens as has been told above as that of Sir Ralph of Tiberias and King Aimery, that the men of the court ought to do in common as it has been shown that he and the others did, when King Aimery exiled Sir Ralph from the kingdom of Jerusalem without esgart and verdict of court.


Livre de Jean d'Ibelin c. 204, RHC Lois i. 327-8

© Translation by Paul Hyams of Cornell University. See his home page/copyright page. Prof   Hyams indicates that the translations are available for educational use. He intends to expand the number of translations, so keep a note of his home page. 

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

Paul Halsall, July 1998
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