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  • Title: Hall's Chronicle (Selection)
  • Editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright James D. Mardock. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Edward Hall
    Editor: James D. Mardock
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hall's Chronicle (Selection)

    Canterbury's Salic Law argument

    (fol. 35v-37v)

    [O]n a day when the king was present in the parliament, Henry Chicheley Archbishop of Canterbury, thereto newly preferred, which beforetime had been a monk of the Carthusians, a man which had professed willful poverty in religion, and yet coming abroad much desired honor; and a man much regarding God's law, but more loving his own lucre. After low obeisance made to the king, he said after this manner in effect:

    "When I consider, our most entirely beloved and less dread sovereign lord and natural prince, the loving mind, the daily labor, and continual study which you incessantly implore both for the advancement of the honor of your realm and also profit of your people, I cannot, nor ought nor -- except I would be noted not only ingrate to your royal person, being my patron and preferrer, but also a neglecter of my duty, a secret mummer of such things which touch both the inheritance of your crown and the honor of your realm -- either hold my peace or keep silence. For all authors agree that the glory of kings consisteth not only in high blood and haut progeny, not in abundant riches and superfluous substance, nor in pleasant pastime and joyous solace. But the very type of the magnificence of a prince resteth in populous rich regions, subjects, and beautiful cities and towns: of the which, thanked be God, although you be conveniently furnished both within your realms of England and Ireland and principality of Wales, yet by lineal descent, by progeny of blood, and by very inheritance, not only the duchy of Normandy and Aquitaine with the counties of Anjou and Maine and the country of Gascony are to you as true and undubitate heir of the same, lawfully devoluted and lineally descended from the high and most noble prince of famous memory King Edward the Third your great-grandfather, but also the whole realm of France, with all his prerogatives and preeminences, to you as heir to your great-grandfather is of right belonging and appertaining. In which realm, to rehearse what noble persons, what beautiful cities, what fertile regions, what substantial merchants, and what plentiful rivers are contained and included, I assure you that time should rather fail than matter for should wax scant.

    "The fraudulent Frenchmen, to defraud and take away your right and title to the realm of France, in the time of your noble progenitor King Edward the Third alleged a law, untruly feigned, falsely glossed, and sophistically expounded, whereof the very words are these: In terram salicam mulieres ne succedant, which is to say, "let not women succeed in the land Salic." This land Salic the deceitful glossers name to be the realm of France. This law the logical interpreters assign to direct the crown and regality of the same region, as who would say that to that preeminence no woman were able to aspire, nor no heir female was worthy to inherit. The French writers affirm that Pharamond, king of the French Gauls, first instituted this law, which never was, should, or might be broken.

    5"See now how an evil gloss confoundeth the text and a partial interpreter marreth the sentence: for first it is apparently known and by an hundred writers confirmed that Pharamond, whom they allege to be author of this law, was Duke of Franconia in Germany, and elected to be king of the Sicambres, which, calling themselves Frenchmen, had gotten a part of the Gaul Celtic between the rivers of Marne and Seine. This Pharamond deceased in the year of our lord four hundred and twenty-seven; long after whose death, Charles the Great being emperor and many years making war on the Saxons did in bloody battle disperse and confound the whole puissance of that nation in the year of our lord eight hundred and five, and brought them to the catholic faith and Christian conformity. After which victory certain soldiers, as the French chronographers affirm, passed over the water of Sala and there inhabited between the rivers of Elbe and Sala, and were commonly called Sali Frenchmen or Sali Gauls, which country now is the land of Meissen. This people had such displeasure at the unhonest fashions of the German women that they made a law that the females should not succeed to any inheritance within that land.

    "Nowwith indifferent ears if you will note these two points, you shall easily perceive that the law Salic was only feigned and invented to put your noble progenitors and you from your lawful right and true inheritance. For they say that Pharamond made the law for the land Salic, which the gloss calleth France. Then I demand of Master Glosser, or rather Master Doctor Commenter, if I may call a commenter an open liar, whether Pharamond, which died four hundred twenty-one years before the Frenchmen possessed the Gaul Salic and never saw or knew it, made a law of that thing which at that time was not his nor inhabited by his people? Beside this, the realm of France, which is your patrimony, is compact of three Gauls -- Belgic, Celtic, and Aquitaine -- and no part of Salic: then may the glosser expound as well that Gaul Belgic is the country of Britain as to gloss that the land Salic is the whole realm and dominion of the crown of France.

    "Wonder it is to see how the Frenchmen juggle with this fantastical law, following the crafty hazarders which use a play called 'Seest Thou Me or Seest Thou Me Not.' For when King Pepin -- which was Duke of Brabant by his mother Begga, and Master of the Palace of France -- coveted the crown and scepter of the realm, the French nation, not remembering this infrangible law, deposed Childeric the Third, the very heir male and undoubted child of the line of Pharamond and Clovis, kings of France, by the counsel of Zachary, then Bishop of Rome, and set up in throne this Pepin as next heir general, descended of lady Blithild, daughter to king Clothair the First. Hugh Capet also, which usurped the crown without right or reason on Charles Duke of Lorraine, the sole heir male of the line and stock of Charles the Great, after that he had shamefully murdered and in pitiful prison -- by the procurement of the Bishop of Orléans -- destroyed the said Charles, to make his title seem true and appear good, where indeed it was both evil and untrue, to blind the opinions of the common people and to set a glass before their eyes, conveyed himself as heir to the Lady Lingard, daughter to the King Charlemagne, son to Louis the Emperor, which was son to Charles the Great King of France.

    "King Louis also, the Ninth, whom the Frenchmen call Saint Louis, being very heir to the said usurper Hugh Capet, could never be satisfied in his conscience how he might justly keep and possess the crown and regality of the realm of France till he was persuaded and fully instructed that Queen Isabelle his grandmother was lineally descended of Lady Ermengarde, daughter and heir to the above named Charles Duke of Lorraine, by the foresaid Hugh Capet of life and realm wrongfully deprived. By the which marriage the blood and line of King Charles the Great was again united and restored to the crown and scepter of France.

    "So that it more clearer than the sun openly appeareth: the title of King Pepin, the claim of Hugh Capet, the possession of King Louis, yea, and of all the French kings to this day are derived, claimed, and conveyed from the heir female; and yet they would bar you as though your great-grandmother had been no woman nor heir female, but a painted image or feigned shadow. If so many examples, if such copy of precedents, collected out of your own histories and gathered out of your own writers, suffice not to confound your simple Salic law, invented by false fablers and crafty imaginers of you fabling Frenchmen, then hear what God sayeth in the book of Numeri: 'When a man dieth without a son, let the inheritance descend to the daughter.' If your princes call themselves most Christian kings, let them follow the law of God before the law of the Paynim Pharamond.

    10"Are not all laws discrepant from God's laws evil, and to all Christian ears odious and noisome? Are French women descended of the blood royal no Christians, and not worthy to inherit in the realm of France? Is the realm of France more noble than the kingdom of Judah, of whom Christ descended by a woman? When God said to Abraham that in one of his seed all nations should be blessed, how came Christ of the seed of Abraham but only by that immaculate virgin, his glorious mother? Likewise, when the Prophet Micah said, 'Thou tribe of Judah art not the least of estimation amongst the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a captain which shall rule and direct my people of Israel,' how descended Christ from the root of Jesse, and how was he duke and captain of the Israelites, and how descended he of the line of David, but only by his mother, a pure virgin and a married wife?

    "Behold: by God's law, women shall inherit. Behold: in France, Frenchmen have inherited by the only line of the women. And yet Englishmen be prohibit to claim by the heir female, contrary to the law of God and man. Wherefore regard well, my sovereign lord, your just and true title to the realm of France, by God's law and man's law to you lawfully devoluted as very heir to Queen Isabelle your great-grandmother, daughter to king Philip the Fair and sister and heir to three kings deceasing without any issue. Which inheritance of the woman is declared to be just by the Mosaical law and used and approved by the Gallican descent, as I have before declared. Therefore for God's sake lose not your patrimony; disherit not your heirs; dishonor not yourself; diminish not your title, which your noble progenitors so highly have esteemed. Wherefore advance forth your banner; fight for your right; conquer your inheritance; spare not sword, blood, or fire. Your war is just, your cause is good, and your claim true, and therefore courageously set forward your war against your enemies. And to the intent that we, your loving chaplains and obedient subjects of the spiritualty, would show ourselves willing and desiring to aid you for the recovery of your ancient right and true title to the crown of France, we have in our spiritual convocation granted to your highness such a sum of money as never by no spiritual persons was to any prince before your days given or advanced, beside our daily prayers and continual precations to God and his Saints for prosperous success to ensue in your martial exploit and royal passage."