Rolls of Oléron

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The Rolls of Oléron (Rôles d'Oléron, also known as the "Judgments of Oleron" and the "Rules of Oléron") were the first formal statement of "maritime" or "admiralty" laws in northwestern Europe.

They were promulgated by Eleanor of Aquitaine in about 1160, after her return from the second crusade having accompanied her first husband Louis VII. They were based upon the ancient Lex Rhodia, which had governed Mediterranean commerce since before the 1st century. She likely became acquainted with them while at the court of King Baldwin III of Jerusalem, who had adopted them, as the Maritime Assizes of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. They are named for the island of Oléron since the island was the site of the maritime court associated with the most powerful seamen's guild of the Atlantic. She promulgated them in England at the very end of the twelfth century having been granted viceregal powers of England while King Richard I was on the third crusade.[1]

They were published subsequently in French and English. The English King Henry VIII published them as "The judgment of the sea, of Masters, of Mariners, and Merchants, and all their doings." The Rolls greatly influenced the Baltic Laws of Wisbuy and are included in the English "Black Book of the Admiralty". They may also have influenced later maritime codes such the various "Articles" enforced by some Golden Age pirates, for example, the "Obligations" of George Cusack, who referred to them as the "Lawes of Pleron".[2]


  1. ^ Keevil, John Joyce (1957). Medicine and the Navy,1200-1900,vol.1: 1200-1649. Livingstone.
  2. ^ Fox, E. T. (2013). ‘Piratical Schemes and Contracts’: Pirate Articles and their Society, 1660-1730 (PDF). Exeter: University of Exeter. Retrieved 15 June 2017.

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External links[edit]

Full text: The Rules of Oléron ~1266