Montesquieu

Thus it was not a law that for­bade lords to hold their own court ; it was not a law that abo­li­shed the func­tions that their peers had there ; there was no law that orde­red the crea­tion of bai­liffs ; it was not by a law that they acqui­red the right to judge. All of that hap­pe­ned lit­tle by lit­tle, and by the force of things. Awareness of Roman law, of the decrees of courts, of newly-writ­ten bodies of cus­toms, deman­ded a study of which the nobles and unlet­te­red per­sons were inca­pa­ble.

The sole ordi­nance we have on this mat­ter1 is the one that obli­ged the lords to choose their bai­liffs from the order of the laity. This has inap­pro­pria­tely been regar­ded as the law of their crea­tion : but it says only what it says. Besides, it sets down what it pres­cri­bes by the rea­sons it gives : “It is in order that bai­liffs be sub­ject to punish­ment2 for their mal­prac­tice that they must be cho­sen from the order of the laity.” We know about the immu­ni­ties of eccle­sias­tics back then.

One must not believe that the rights which lords once enjoyed, and which they no lon­ger enjoy today, were taken from them as usur­pa­tions : seve­ral of those rights have been lost by negli­gence, and others have been aban­do­ned because, various chan­ges having been intro­du­ced over the course of seve­ral cen­tu­ries, they could not sub­sist with those chan­ges.

It dates from the year 1287.

Ut si ibi delinquant, superiores sui possint animadvertere in eosdem.