claimed to have done their duty by providing in their commissions and writs against these very evils. Certain petty financial devices suggested by the king, such as the repeal of some assignments and the recall of ministers' fees, were pointed out by the council to be quite impracticable. Altogether the relations here revealed amount almost to an altercation.

As an example of a message sent by the council to the king, there is one of the seventeenth year of Edward III., bearing the following inscription: Ces sont les articles baille a William de Edington pur monstrer a nostre Seigneur le Roi depar son conseil. Conversely to the document just mentioned, it contains certain propositions of the council with the answers to each given by the king.

The council being a body which carried on negotiations, whether with private parties like merchants, or with foreign princes, there are not a few records of proceedings of this kind. Of the agreements which were reached by the council on the one hand and the ambassadors or merchants on the other, the most suitable form was the device of the duplicate parchment known as the indenture. Instances of original indentures are to be found from the time of Edward I. How in the twelfth year of Edward II. ambassadors of the count of Flanders came to a parliament at York and treated with the council there as to certain damages sustained by the people of Flanders as well as by the people of England by certain depredations at sea, is described in an indented parchment as follows: fait a remembrer qe come avant ces houres trete fut entre le conseil le Roi Dengleterre et certeins messengers le Conte de Flandres . les quex messages vindrent au dit Roi a son parlement a Everwik

et reherse entre le conseil le dit Roi et les dits messages, etc.?

As an instance of the very many contracts or agreements that were made between the king or his council and the merchant companies, there is the original note of an assignment of wool to the Bardi and Perucchi in the twelfth year of Edward III.3 The document itself explains how the agreement, which was made with the advice of the council, having been amended in certain points by the king's secretary, was delivered to the chancery, where it was engrossed in the same form. As in the case of other minutes, most of the original indentures are lost, but a very large number may be found inscribed after the same manner upon the rolls of the chancery.

1 Parliamentary Proceedings, VII. 15.
2 Diplomatic Documents, Chancery, p. 143.

* Parliamentary Proceedings, VII. 8. The following words occur in an endorsement, such as was frequently used to describe the purport of a document: Fait a remembrer que ceste note entre Seigneur le Roi et les marchands de Bardi et Perucchi fust fait par lavisement du counseil et puis amenda en ascuns points par Mons. Geffrey Lecrop et livere en chauncellarie pour engrosser et est engrosse sur mesme la forme.

Of documents which were not made by the council, but which relate to it and are useful as affording sidelights, brief mention may be made of certain exchequer accounts of expenditures. Among the fragments of exchequer memoranda, for the most part ill preserved and hardly legible, are the accounts of the fees and wages of councillors. In cases where it was a matter of daily wages, at the rate of ios. or 20s. a day, detailed statements are given of the very days and places in which these men served or attended the council. The earliest of such accounts is that of Master Andrew de Offord, of the twentieth year of Edward III. Another series of special accounts relates to the jantacula or breakfasts, which were served to the council at times in order that its sittings might be prolonged. These accounts give a list of all the provisions purchased, including ale, wine, bread, meat, fish, game, vegetables, spices and sweets, with the prices of each. The cost of such entertainment, while varying from twenty to one hundred shillings a day, was on the average about sixty shillings a day.*

Returning to the council records, there remains a word to be said as to how they were kept and how they are now to be found. As yet in the fourteenth century the council was deficient in that it did not keep a regular roll of its proceedings, as did Parliament and each of the common-law courts. Unless its acts appeared upon such a register, they were not in a technical sense considered matters of record at all. What then became of the bills, memoranda, indentures, letters, and other loose parchments which were used by the council? As is well known, there were two main repositories of government muniments, the exchequer and the chancery. Council membranes are to be found in each. In general one may say that those which passed through the office of the privy seal were handed over to the exchequer for safe keeping, while those which were used for orders of the great seal were given to the chancery. As the original files in these departments have been quite broken up it is not possible to say much about them. One reads, for instance, how bundles of letters and other instruments were delivered by the council to the exchequer, where they were put in a chest with a special mark for identification. It is possible that in the case of many of the memoranda, which were only for temporary use, no effort was made for preservation. At any rate, the loose parchments were easily scattered, stolen and lost. Some of them fell ultimately into the hands of private collectors. The few and only proceedings now in print for the reign of Richard II. were taken from a collection of this kind, namely, the Cottonian Library.? There are, however, council proceedings for this reign and afterward which are not embraced in that publication. That council records have seemed to begin with the tenth year of Richard II. is therefore a mere accident of collection.

1 Exchequer, K. R., bundle 96, Nos. 1-7. 2 Ibid., 96/2.

Ibid., 96/8–13.

* Of the information contained in these accounts I have made further use in an article to be printed in the English Historical Review for January, 1906.

Those which remain in the government's custody are to be found among a half-dozen or more files of the Public Record Office, where they are listed not as council records, but according to their subjectmatter. The modern rearrangements and classifications have tended the more to scatter the documents. Taken out of their setting, with responses apart from petitions, and even with one half parted from the other, one does not always have the means of identifying these stray parchments. If internal evidence be lacking it can be done only by dint of search for a companion document, such as may most likely be found with the aid of an index of petitions or letters of the great seal.

Not until 1421 was the register known as the Book of the Council begun, which was compiled by copying the minutes upon a regular roll.3 The original method, however, of making notes upon loose membranes still continued, and many of these are extant. From them it is plain that the Book was not intended to contain all of the proceedings. A comparison of a few of the memoranda of the reign of Henry VI. with the corresponding entries in the Book of the Council makes it clear that the transcription might be only an abstract of the real minutes. Only fragments of the Book are extant, but it is evident that it was a very imperfectly kept register. There is very good reason to believe that there are other records of the council still undiscovered, which may be hidden in one library or another.

Antient Kalendars and Inventories of the Exchequer, 38-41 Edw. III., passim.


? These archives therefore happen to be in the British Museum, instead of in the Public Record Office, where they would properly belong.

3 Described in Nicolas, Proceedings of the Privy Council, Vol. II., pp. xxvi

et seq.

• There are the two memoranda of the years 1339 and 1341 translated in Nicolas, History of the Royal Navy, Vol. II., pp. 188–192. That the author does not state where the original manuscripts are to be found has puzzled others, as well as myself. My search for these, however, has been rewarded by finding many others of the same kind.

Finally what is shown by these records concerning the development of the council itself? Enough has been said within the limits of this paper to show that certain current views regarding this body must be modified. So far as the records of council proceedings show, there was no considerable organic change during the reign of Richard II. Comparing the memoranda of that time with those of the earlier period there is no particular difference to be observed, beyond the growth of an institution already mature. Of new historical material the minutes of the council will probably not furnish much, for the same data may generally be found elsewhere. What is of more value than the miscellaneous subject-matter which they contain, is the clearer understanding that the original records give of the steps of council procedure. They are perhaps most serviceable in showing how the acts of the council came to find place upon the various rolls of the chancery and the exchequer. They reveal also, what is partly understood already, a power working with great persistency in legislation and administration, which it would be no exaggeration to call the mainspring of the government. They show, moreover, that the usual working council, the consilium ordinarium, as some have called it, consisted of a very small number of men. No wonder it roused the jealousy of Parliament and particularly of the House of Lords, which sought in various ways to curb its powers !


The functions of the council in judicial proceedings, about which more is generally known, I have held for the present in reserve.



It is not so rare as one might suppose for great rulers to try their hands at literature, and Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius wrote books which rank them among the masters. If Maximilian I., Emperor of Germany from 1494-1517, failed to write anything comparable to the Commentaries on the Gallic War, it was not for lack of trying. During all the latter part of his life he was busied with plans for writing or collating. The list of proposed subjects finally grew to over a hundred and ranged from a treatise on cooking to a collection of prayers. But it is very doubtful whether he ever took much interest in any subject simply to produce a beautiful, an interesting or a useful book. He did not write from the love of letters.

Maximilian was firmly convinced that he could do almost everything better than anybody alive, better than all but a few of those who were dead. And a severe analysis of his books shows in them all the same leading motive—bragging. He brags of what has come to him by birth and what he has achieved; of what he owns and what he has done; of what he is and what his children will become. He brags of his great skill in cooking and of his piety; of his dancing and his generalship; of his knowledge of horses and pictures; of the marriages of his children and of the waters he preserves for fishing; of his ability to talk many languages and hunt all kinds of game; of the antiquity of his family and of his skill in blacksmithing; of his kindness to the poor and of his slaughter of enemies; of his mercy and of his executions of rebel peasants; of his ability to endure fatigue and his regularity in saying his prayers. Every book in which he took any interest is either a record of his deeds, a catalogue of his possessions or an exhortation to his descendants to base their greatness on his example. His prayer-book seems an exception. But its latest commentator believes it was designed to promote a pious enterprise of which Maximilian, as head of Christendom, was to be the glorious leader.

The works on genealogy and history are not even apparent exceptions to this inspiration of vanity. Maximilian's plan for his own tomb symbolizes his view of genealogy and history. As he saw it in his mind's eye, forty life-sized figures surrounded it.

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