Catalogue description Exchequer of Normandy: Pipe Rolls

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Details of E 373
Reference: E 373
Title: Exchequer of Normandy: Pipe Rolls

This series contains surviving accounts of the Exchequer of Henry II, Richard I and John as dukes of Normandy prior to the loss of the duchy to Philip II of France in 1204.

The main contents of the series are rolls or parts of rolls for the years 1180, 1184, 1195, 1198 and 1203, quite similar to the English Pipe Rolls (E 372). There are also two accounts of income and expenditure by individual officials. The officials who rendered account annually were vicomtes, who accounted for the old-established feudal, legal and customary renders from the duke's old demesne in their vicomtes, and had some military functions; the prevots, who accounted for some of the duke's demesnes in their prevotes, and were based often in new castles; and the bailiffs, newer officials usually based in ducal castles who exercised largely judicial powers and so accounted for fines, proffers, amercements and special receipts from their bailliages which were not included in the farms. The distinction between the different types of local unit became less clear-cut and the use of the terminology less consistent as a result of reorganisation during the later twelfth century, and some bailiwicks recently referred to as bailliages became known as vicomtes, leaving a complex pattern of local government which is reflected in the rolls.

Date: 1180-1203
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 18 roll(s)
Physical condition: There are three surviving rolls that are comparable in size with the English ones; however, their make-up is less regular, some rotuli being of as many as four membranes sewn head to tail, making them very unwieldy.
Custodial history: The rolls were originally kept in Normandy, but were brought to Westminster on the capture of the duchy by Philip II of France. Similar rolls must once have existed for all the intervening years, and probably for a long period before the date of the earliest surviving roll.
Publication note:

The rolls are printed in Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae, edited by Thomas Stapleton in two volumes (1840, 1844)

Administrative / biographical background:

It is now generally accepted that both the English and the Norman Exchequers existed in the reign of Henry I, and were probably created during that reign. The English Exchequer was in existence by 1110.

It must be assumed that the Norman Exchequer had Pipe Rolls at least fifty years before the earliest surviving roll in this series, although it was once suggested that they were only initiated at the time of the reform of the Norman financial administration by Richard of Ilchester in 1176.

In the period for which the rolls survive it is clear that the Exchequer of Normandy was settled in the castle at Caen, which by then was in the custody of the seneschal of Normandy; its earlier location or locations are unknown. Like the English Exchequer, it heard pleas as well as accounts. After 1204, however, it seems to have performed only judicial, not financial, functions, and so no further financial records may have been produced. Both English and Norman Exchequers held sessions at Easter and Michaelmas in each year, and the formulae by which individual entries of debt were recorded and then cleared were the same.

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