Ranulf de Glanvill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ranulf de Glanvill
Chief Justiciar of England
In office
1180 – 17 September 1189
MonarchHenry II
Preceded byRichard de Luci
Succeeded byWilliam de Mandeville
Hugh de Puiset
Sheriff of Lancashire
In office
MonarchHenry II
Sheriff of Yorkshire
In office
Sheriff of Yorkshire
In office
Justice of the King's Court
In office
Personal details
Bornc. 1112
Stratford St Andrew, Suffolk
Acre, Palestine
RelationsHubert Walter, nephew

Ranulf de Glanvill (alias Glanvil, Glanville, Granville, etc., died 1190) was Chief Justiciar of England during the reign of King Henry II (1154–89) and was the probable author of Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie (The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England), the earliest treatise on the laws of England.[1][2][3]

Political and legal career[edit]

We have no primary sources citing when or where he was born. He is first heard of as Sheriff of Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire from 1163 to 1170 when, along with the majority of High Sheriffs, he was removed from office for corruption. However, in 1173 he was appointed Sheriff of Lancashire and custodian of the honour of Richmond. In 1174, when he was Sheriff of Westmorland, he was one of the English leaders at the Battle of Alnwick, and it was to him that the king of Scotland, William the Lion, surrendered. In 1175 he was reappointed Sheriff of Yorkshire, in 1176 he became justice of the king's court and a justice itinerant in the northern circuit, and in 1180 Chief Justiciar of England.[4] It was with his assistance that Henry II completed his famous judicial reforms, though many had been carried out before he came into office. He became the king's right-hand man, and during Henry's frequent absences was in effect regent of England. In 1176 he was also made custodian of Queen Eleanor, who was confined to her quarters in Winchester Castle.

After the death of Henry in 1189, Glanvill was removed from his office by Richard I on 17 September 1189[4] and imprisoned until he had paid a ransom, according to one authority, of £15,000. Shortly after obtaining his freedom he took the cross, and he died at the siege of Acre in 1190.

He founded two monasteries, both in Suffolk: Butley Priory, for Black Canons, was founded in 1171,[5] and Leiston Abbey, for White Canons, in 1183.[6] He also built a leper hospital at Somerton, in Norfolk.

Marriage and progeny[edit]

The title page of a 1780 edition of Glanvill's Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Angliæ[7]

Ranulf married Bertha de Valoignes, daughter of Theobald de Valoines, lord of the manor of Parham, Suffolk,[8] by whom he had three daughters:[9]

Tractatus de legibus[edit]

Perhaps at the instigation of Henry II, Glanvill wrote or oversaw the writing of Tractatus de legibus et consuetudinibus regni Anglie (The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England), a practical discourse on the forms of procedure in the king's court, which was often known simply as Glanvill.[13] As the source of our knowledge regarding the earliest form of the curia regis, and for the information it affords regarding ancient customs and laws, it is of great value to the student of English history. It is now generally agreed that the work of Glanvill is of earlier date than the Scottish law book known from its first words as Regiam Majestatem, which bears a close resemblance to his.

The treatise of Glanvill was first printed in 1554.[14] An English translation, with notes and introduction by John Beames, was published at London in 1812.[15] A French version is found in various manuscripts, but has not yet been printed. The treatise was then edited and translated by G.D.G. Hall for the Oxford University Press in 1965.[16]

The authorship of the Tractatus, while certainly within the sphere of Ranulf, is debated, other candidates for its authorship or co-authorship including Ranulf's nephews Hubert Walter (Chief Justiciar and Lord Chancellor of England under Richard I[17]) and Osbert fitzHervey.[18]


  1. ^ Everyman's Encyclopaedia, 5th edition, London, 1967, vol. 6, p. 31
  2. ^ F.J. West, The Justiciarship in England 1066-1232 (Cambridge University Press 1966).
  3. ^ R.V. Turner, The English Judiciary in the Age of Glanvill and Bracton c. 1176-1239 (Cambridge University Press 1985).
  4. ^ a b Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 69
  5. ^ "History of Butley Priory". Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  6. ^ "House of Premonstratensian canons — Abbey of Leiston". British History Online. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  7. ^ Ranulfo de Glanvilla (Ranulf de Glanville) (1780), Tractatus de Legibus et Consuetudinibus Regni Angliæ, tempore regis Henrici Secundi compositus, justiciæ gubernacula tenente illustri viro Ranvlpho de Glanvilla, Juris Regni et antiquarum Consuetudinum eo tempore peritissimo. Et illas solum leges continet et consuetudines secundum quas placitatur in Curiâ regis, ad Scaccarium, et coram justiciis ubicunque fuerint. Cum MSS. Harl. Cott. Bodl. et Mill. collatus, London: Prostant venales apud J. White et E. Brooke, OCLC 437769980.
  8. ^ George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant Extinct or Dormant, Volume II, ed. Vicary Gibbs (The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., London, 1912) p. 447
  9. ^ S. J. Bailey, 'Ranulf de Glanvill and His Children', The Cambridge Law Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2, (Nov. 1957) p. 166 JSTOR
  10. ^ a b c S. J. Bailey, Ranulf de Glanvill and his Children, The Cambridge Law Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2, (Nov. 1957) pp. 166, 174, 175
  11. ^ 'Houses of Premonstratensian canons: The abbey of West Langdon', in W. Page (ed.), A History of the County of Kent, Vol. 2 (V.C.H., London 1926), pp. 169-72 (British History Online, accessed 25 June 2018).
  12. ^ 'Premonstratensian houses: Abbey of Coverham', in W. Page (ed.), A History of the County of York, Vol. 3 (V.C.H., London 1974), pp. 243-45 (British History Online, accessed 25 June 2018).
  13. ^ John Hudson, The Oxford History of the Laws of England: c.900–1216, ed. John Hamilton Baker, Vol. II (Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2012) p. 872
  14. ^ Ranulf De Glanville, The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Realm of England Commonly Called Glanvill, ed. G.D.G. Hall (Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2002), p. xix n. 1
  15. ^ Ranulf De Glanville, The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Realm of England Commonly Called Glanvill, ed. G.D.G. Hall (Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2002), pp. lxiv–lxv
  16. ^ Harry Rothwell, English Historical Documents 1189–1327 (Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2004), p. 923
  17. ^ British History Online Deans of York accessed on 10 September 2007
  18. ^ R.V. Turner, (Spring 1990). 'Who was the author of Glanvill? Reflections on the education of Henry II's Common Lawyers,' Law and History Review 8, Part 1 (Spring 1990), pp. 97–127.


Further reading[edit]

  • R. Mortimer, 'The family of Rannulf de Glanville', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research Vol. 54 (1981), pp. 1–16.
  • R.V. Turner, 'The reputation of royal judges under the Angevin kings', Albion 11 part 4 (winter 1979), pp. 301–16.
  • R.V. Turner, 'Religious patronage of Angevin royal administrators, c. 1170-1239', Albion 18 part 1 (Spring 1986), pp. 1–21.

External links[edit]

  • W.U.C. Glanville-Richards, Records of the Anglo-Norman House of Glanville from A.D. 1050 to 1880 (Mitchell & Hughes, London 1882) (Google). "much of this is incorrect or very questionable" - F.W. Maitland, c. 1890. "little reliance can be placed on this work" - C.W. David, 1936. See: C.J. Wright, 'The man who wrote on the manuscripts in the British Museum', British Library Journal 1986, pp. 76-85 (British Library pdf).
Political offices
Preceded by Chief Justiciar
Succeeded by

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Glanvill, Ranulf de". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 77.