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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 198



THE LAWYERS OF CYPRUS. [VIII. 192 strength of the Latin portion, the secular priests that of the Greek and Armenian. Monasteries abounded. In Nicosia alone were 250 churches. These then being the estates of the realm, the powerful people were all Franks ; the returning Greeks and Armenians would only creep into an equality of privilege, or return into the enjoyment of their old customs, as the governing race allowed; and, although they ultimately grew and prevailed while the governing race dwindled and perished, all political interest centres in the governing race. For them the existing polity of Palestine was transported across the sea ; not as yet reduced to writing, for the system of Godfrey of Bouillon, 'the Letters of the Sepulchre,' if it were ever codified, had perished, and the Assizes had not yet taken their historic form. But the new kingdom was singularly rich in lawyers, and this was early recognised; in 1214 we find Lewis of France, son of Philip II, applying for a legal opinion on a point of procedure to Hugh I of Cyprus ; the old lords of Palestine spent their leisure in Cyprus recording the customs of their lost inheritance, and the extant Assizes of Jerusalem were the result of their studies. The names of the great legists are Philip of Navarre, John and James of Ibelin, and Guy le Tort. John of Ibelin, who died in 1266, and bore the title of count of Jaffa, Ramlah (Rames), and Ascalon, drew up the existing Assize of the High Court. It is in exact symmetry with Western usage, that this great compilation was not received as a code until the year 1369: like the 'Siete Partidas ' of Alfonso the Wise, it was but a body of jurisprudence, the use of which depended on its own reasonableness, or a collection of customs which were recorded because they were used, not merely used because they were recorded. The Highest Law was still 'the custom' recorded in the heart and mouth of the ' lawful man.'


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