Dialogus de Scaccario

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The Dialogus de Scaccario, or Dialogue concerning the Exchequer, is a mediaeval treatise on the practice of the English Exchequer written in the late 12th century by Richard FitzNeal. The treatise, written in Latin,[1] and known from four manuscripts from the 13th century[2] is set up as a series of questions and answers, covering the jurisdiction, constitution and practice of the Exchequer. One academic said that "The value of this essay for early English history cannot be over-estimated; in every direction it throws light upon the existing state of affairs."[3] It has been repeatedly republished and translated, most recently in 2007.

Origin[edit]

The treatise was most likely written by Richard FitzNeal, Lord High Treasurer of the Exchequer under Henry II. The date of the book is disputed; it describes 6 circuits of itinerant justices; academics argue, therefore, that it must have been written before 1179, when the number of circuits was reduced to 4; this requires, however, that the changes to the circuits came into immediate effect, and Richardson argues that there is nothing in the Pipe Rolls to support this assumption.[4] Other academics suggest either 1181 or 1188 as possible years.[3] Divided into two books and written as a series of questions and answers between a learned lawyer and his pupil,[5] the treatise first looks at the constitution of the Exchequer, analysing the Upper and Lower Exchequers individually and giving descriptions of their officers and jurisdiction.[6] The second book describes the Exchequer "in practice", giving a layout of the proper way to plead cases and the timetable by which a case ran.[7]

Versions and translations[edit]

As well as its initial publication and additional versions during the 18th and 19th centuries, the book was again published in 1902 by the Clarendon Press; this soon went out of print, and a second edition with a commentary was published in 1950, edited by Charles Johnson.[8] This again went out of print, necessitating a new edition published by Oxford University Press in 1983.[9] The 1952 edition was favourably reviewed, with K.R. Potter writing that it was "a most helpful guide to those unfamiliar with medieval finance".[5] Ernest Henderson wrote that it was "one of the few actual treatises of the middle ages. It is a most learned essay concerning all that went on at the bi-yearly meetings of the exchequer officials, and branches out into a description of all the sources of revenue of the English crown, and of the methods of collecting them. The value of this essay for early English history cannot be over-estimated; in every direction it throws light upon the existing state of affairs".[3]

The most recent edition was published in 2007, also by Oxford University Press, and is edited and translated by Emilie Amt and S. D. Church— and described as being a "...valuable new edition and translation which merits considerable use...".[10] It has, however, been criticised for doing little "to advance the study of this difficult and important text".[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Institute of Historical Research logo and home page link review by The Institute of Historical Research
  2. ^ Amt, Emilie (2007). Dialogus de Scaccario: The Dialogue of the Exchequer. Oxford. p. xxvii. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Avalon Project: The Dialogue Concerning the Exchequer. circa 1180". Avalon Project. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Richardson (April 1928) p.167
  5. ^ a b Potter (1952) p.238
  6. ^ Johnson (1983) p.lvi
  7. ^ Johnson (1983) p.lx
  8. ^ Johnson (1983) p.ix
  9. ^ Johnson (1983) p.viii
  10. ^ Review by The Institute of Historical Research
  11. ^ Review in The English Historical Review

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]