Episode 111: Laying Down the Law

One of Edward I’s most notable accomplishments as King of England was the conquest of Wales, and his desire to extend that authority to the north of Britain led some to call him “The Hammer of the Scots.” But beyond Edward’s attempts to rule all of Britain, he is probably most well-known for his legal reforms including a series of statutes passed early in his reign. As king, Edward was the supreme judge of England. There was no appeal from his decisions. In that regard, Edward thought his legal authority extended to Scotland as well. He even used that authority to decide a dispute over the kingship of Scotland. Edward’s aggressive policies ultimately led to war with his northern neighbor, and in many respects, that war was rooted in this dispute over legal jurisdiction. This time, we’ll explore those events, and we’ll see how Edward’s legal reforms impacted the English language.


8 thoughts on “Episode 111: Laying Down the Law

  1. I am curious abut the reference to the King of Germany in relation the papal interdict placed on King John. Was there a kingdom at that time, and what geographical area did it cover?
    Many thanks

    • Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle refers to the king of “alimayne” which is equivalent to “Allemagne” in French. In Modern English, the title is translated as “King of the Germans.”

      My knowledge of Medieval German history is limited, but my understanding is that the Medieval kingdom of “Germany” refers to the loose confederation of German-speaking provinces and city-states within the larger Holy Roman Empire. It was a distinct (although loosely defined) portion of the Holy Roman Empire. The kings of “Germany” were elected by the various princes and other regional nobles. The elected king retained that title unless and until he was crowned by the Pope, at which point he became Holy Roman Emperor. However, I think some German kings claimed that title without that formal recognition. Many kings of “Germany” never become Holy Roman Emperor, and many never really had any power. (Remember from a couple episodes back that Edwards I’s uncle Richard was elected as king of the Germans even though he was English.)

  2. Kevin,
    I am a fan of the Podcast. It is very informative. I started at the 1st episode and worked my way up. Thanks. I have a question. The word “bedroom” where did it originate from? I ask because my wife is Italian and I am Spanish descent. In Italian bedroom is “camera” in Spanish it is “cuarto” I used google translate to find it in the other romance languages. In Portuguese it is “quarto”, in French it is “Chambre” and lastly in Latin it is either “Cubiculum” or “locus” I guess cubiculum is where cubible comes from. How did the English word bedroom come about and why in English is camera a photograph machine while in Italian “camera” means bedroom. The machine for taking pictures in Italian is Macchina fotografica or camera. In Spanish it is similar and I assume in the other romance languages. Thank you

    • Hi Michael. I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast. English actually coined the word “bedchamber” in the 1300s by combining the native word “bed” with the borrowed word “chamber.” That remained the dominant word for the room in English for several centuries. Believe it or not, Shakespeare was the first known person to use “bedroom” in a surviving manuscript (Midsummer Night’s Dream) around the year 1600. Over time, “bedroom” has largely replaced “bedchamber.”

      I actually discussed the connection between “camera” and “chamber” in a recent bonus episode at Patreon. The word “camera” is a Latin word meaning a ‘vaulted room.’ “Chamber” is simply the Parisian French version of “camera” with the ‘CA’ being replaced with ‘CHA’ as I have discussed in the podcast. English borrowed the word “chamber” in the early 1200s, and it first appeared in English in the Ancrene Wisse. Meanwhile, the words “camera” and “chamber” both continued to evolve, and they both came to refer to any kind of enclosed space. For example, if you’re loading a gun, you put a bullet in the “chamber.” Latin “camera” acquired a similar sense. In the 1600s and 1700s, scientists and inventors were working in the field of optics, and they developed a black box with a hole and a lens that captured certain images produced by the light. This type of enclosed or black box was called a “camera obscura” – literally ‘a dark chamber.’ As the technology evolved over time allowing the image to be permanently captured on film, the original Latin name was shorted to just “camera.” So a “camera” is literally a type of “chamber.”

      • Thank you for the very in depth response. I am not signed up for the patreon account but I will sign up now to get all the bonus episodes.

  3. I haven’t listened to the episode yet, but am looking forward to getting to it. I recently found the podcast and am binging my way through. I just wanted to say that you officially made a subject that I had very little interest in interesting to me. Thank you, and I look forward to being able to support the show when I can afford to. Keep up the great content.

  4. My favourite phrase that I believe derives from Edward’s legal reforms is “since time immemorial”. Edward set a statute of limitations for bringing cases as the start of Richard I’s reign. Anything that had been the case for longer was described as having been so “since time immemorial”, which is still a valid legal term.

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