This treatise represents a revision and enlargement of the Leis Willelme, the earliest of all legal treatises composed in French. Like the first version, this version claims to record Edward the Confessor’s laws as confirmed by William I; it is, however, an imposture, an unofficial description of the law composed in the time of Henry I (1100–1135) or Stephen (1135–54). When the revision and enlargement occurred is hard to know. The short form of the treatise covers issues of church peace, royal peace, regional customs, crime, jurisdiction, administration of justice, and penalties. The long version adds some chapters based on Roman law as well as laws which are translations of 24 chapters in Cnut’s Winchester code. It survives in no medieval manuscript copies, except for one badly burnt in the 1731 fire at the Cotton Library (now London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho B. xiii). Four antiquarian copies of lost medieval manuscripts, however, have preserved the text.

The long version was translated into Latin in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century; see Leges Willelmi.

Contents

  • John Matzke, ed., Lois de Guillaume le Conquerant (Paris, 1899).
  • Agnes Jane Robertson, ed. and trans., The Laws of the Kings of England from Edmund to Henry I. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1925), pp. 252–75.