The Assize of Clarendon

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This document was written in 1166 by King Henry III and it was the starting transformation of the English Law. When King Henry III took his inheritance over the throne the kingdom was in a very vulnerable state and it was definitely in need of some assistance. The Assize became the primary structures in determining the punishments of whoever the guilty defendant was in a case, especially felonies. With trial by compurgation being the most popular, in which proof, examination, and investigation was done by any man who was not a professional, knights or other commonplace people, who were under oath. No one knew it yet, but with a few tweaks and a lot more objectivity, this would later become what is now known as “trial by jury.” The Assize addressed many issues; including the issues of absolutely no upkeep in recordings and documentation of land ownership and when land was left untended to for longer periods of time, because of military men having to leave so suddenly, there was an up rise in squatters and this lead to violent disputes that sometimes ended in death. Another, larger issue was in full effect following the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Matilda. When the divisions fell short of being able to pay their mercenary soldiers, many of them turned to robbery, and many other violent acts to feed themselves and their lifestyles. This too played part in the property battles, sending England into a more dreadful down spiral. Henry III’s main goal was to establish a working system of justice that would broaden the power of the throne but only at the costs of the clergymen. Specifically, how he addressed most matters were through smaller assize passages, one being, “assize of recent dispossession.” It said that those who had been kept out of their land were able to recover their property through a method of trial. Twelve “random” knights were called to testify, upon their knowledge, on who really had ownership of the property. This Assize also leads...
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