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The Justiciar (also Chief Justiciar ) was the chief minister of the English kings in the second half of the 12th century and in the first third of the 13th century.

Justiciar of England

Older historians already refer to the leading ministers of Kings Wilhelm Rufus and Henry I , especially Ranulf Flambard and Roger of Salisbury, as Justiciare, even if they never held this title. In modern historical research, however, Heinrich II is considered the inventor of the office. Henry, who besides Normandy owned other extensive possessions as part of the Angevin Empire in France and therefore often did not stay in England for a longer period of time, tried to ensure continuous administration and jurisdiction in England by appointing a royal justiciar. The justiciar was not only supposed to lead the administration, but was also the chief judge. During the king's absence he took over the duties of a viceroy or regent, who was also chairman of the Curia Regis and also undertook campaigns against rebellious barons or to Wales.

At the beginning of the reign of Henry II and also during the first years of the reign of Richard the Lionheart , the duties of the Justiciars were divided between two people, but usually a confidante of the kings performed the office alone. Clergy like Ranulf de Glanville and Hubert Walter took over the office several times . The dismissal of Hubert de Burgh in 1232 actually meant the end of King Henry III's long minority . Although it was Stephen of Seagrave appointed as successor to de Burgh, but this, however, already much lower powers. The real power was held by Bishop Peter des Roches in his day . When he was overthrown in 1234, Stephen of Seagrave was also released. Subsequently appointed Heinrich III. no new justiciar, but delegated the tasks partially to the Lord Chancellor and to the Lord Chief Justice .

When those with the reign of Henry III. disaffected barons openly rebelled against the king in 1258, one of their main demands was the reinstatement of one of their chosen justiciar. The justiciar Hugh Bigod , initially appointed by the barons, initially took on the task of collecting complaints about the royal rule and was not the head of the royal administration. After the victory of the royal party in the Battle of Evesham in 1265, in which the Justiciar Hugh le Despenser was also killed, the office was not filled again.

Justiciars of England 1153-1265

Justiciar of Ireland and Justiciars in Normandy and Wales

After the beginning of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland , King Henry II appointed a Justiciar of Ireland for the first time in 1172 as the king's deputy. Henry II had appointed Bishop Arnulf von Lisieux as Justiciar of Normandy after 1154 . The other estates of the English kings in France were administered by seneschals . After the loss of most of the French possessions at the beginning of the 13th century, the Seneschal of Gascony took over the administration of the remaining possessions in southwest France. After the conquest of Wales by King Edward I by 1283, the kings used justiciars for the administration of the areas belonging to the crown, the so-called Principality of Wales. Usually there was one justiciar for North and one for South Wales, who were able to exercise almost viceroyal power in the conquered areas. The offices lasted until the incorporation of Wales in the 16th century.

Justiciars in Scotland

In the UK, Scotland, the office in the 12th century under King was I. Alexander and King David I set up. The incumbent was the king's deputy in jurisdiction and administration. Originally there were two justiciars, one of whom was responsible for the area north of the Forth , the other for the area south of the Forth . In the 13th and 14th centuries, Scotland had three Justiciars as chief legal officers, one for Lothian , one for Galloway and one for Scotia , the area north of the Forth. Every justiciar should take a tour of his district in spring and autumn. He was to serve as an appeal body in the headquarters of the sheriff domes . In the 15th century the office was replaced by the office of Lord Justice General .

The Duke of Argyll has the hereditary title of High Justiciar of Argyll , with which however no duties are connected.

See also


  • John Cannon; Robert Crowcroft: The Oxford companion to British history . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015. ISBN 978-0-19-967783-2 , p. 489

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rees R. Davies: The Age of Conquest. Wales 1063-1415. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1991, ISBN 0-19-820198-2 , p. 366
  2. ^ Ranald Nicholson: Scotland. The Later Middle Ages (The Edinburgh History of Scotland, Vol. II. ) Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh 1974, ISBN 0-05-002038-2 , p. 19.