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

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

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

References

  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

External links

  • English translation of the Dialogue excerpted by the Avalon Project from Henderson, Ernest F. (1896). Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages. London: George Bell and Sons. 
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