Item 10, The Rules for Purchasing Land


2 therinne. This is an excellent example of Rate’s indifference to rhyme; other manuscripts read “folowyng.”

8 se the reles of every feffé. I.e., “see that everyone who is owed a fee [feoffees] has given up his right to it,” either by being paid the fee or waiving his right to it. In legal terms, a “release” is the abandonment of a claim or right.

11 tayle. An entail or “tail” restricts the inheritance of property to a particular heir or class of heirs, and may limit the rights of future owners to subdivide or sell off the property.

12 whether it stond in statute bounde. Land bound “in statute” was potentially subject to repossession by a bondholder or creditor. In Cambridge University Library MS Hh.2.6, the line reads “whether it stand in statut merchaund bound.” “Statute merchant” was a specific type of this situation, in which a bond regis­tered with a city official or mayor entitled the holder to seize land belonging to the creditor if the debtor defaulted on the bond. Rate’s reading “in state bounde” makes little sense and has been emended.

14 whyte-rente. A “quit-rent” enabled landholders to avoid performing the customary feudal duties that came with land by paying a set fee to the feudal lord.

16 Luke ryght wele if that thou cane. Rate has revised the line to avoid an unrecognized legal term. In London, British Library MS Royal 17.B.47, the line reads “Thenke cuer de baron thanne,” and in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 54 (and sever­al other manuscripts), the line reads “Thynke on coverd-barine than.” “Cuer de baron” or “coverd-barine” is an Anglo-Norman legal term for a category of property held by married women that cannot be sold without the husband’s consent.

18 Make a charter of warantys. A charter of warrantise formally validated the claim of a property owner.

19 asygnés. Anyone other than an heir-at-law to whom property is given in a bequest.

21 in ten yere. The number of years specified here varies from manuscript to manu­script, with many warning the purchaser to wait for fifteen years before expect­ing to receive a return on the investment. As K. B. McFarlane noted, “The number of years seems to have nothing to do with date [of the manuscript]; some manuscripts were merely more hopeful than others; all appear to have been excessively hope­ful, but the dangers they advised against were very real” (England in the Fif­teenth Century, p. 194, n. 93).

Item 10, The Rules for Purchasing Land: TEXTUAL NOTE

12 statute. MS: state.

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Item 10, The Rules for Purchasing Land





Whoso wyll be were in purchasyng,
Consider the poyntys that be therinne:
Fyrst se that the lond be clere
In the tytell of the sellere,
And that it stond in no daunger
Of no womans dewere.
Se wher the lond be bound or fre,
And se the reles of every feffé.
Se that the seller be of age,
And whether it stond in any mortgage.
Loke whether a tayle thereof may be fonde,
And whether it stond in statute bounde.
Consyder what servys longys therto,
And what whyte-rente there oute must go.
And if it meve of a weddyd woman,
Luke ryght wele if that thou cane.
And if thou may in any wyse,
Make a charter of warantys
To thyn eyres and asygnés also.
Thus schall a wyse purchesor do;
And in ten yere if thou wyse be,
Thou schall ageyn thi money se.
careful (wary)
(see note)
   secure (clear from legal claims)
control (obligation)
release; feoffee; (see note)
of legal age

entail (restriction); (see note)
(see note); (t-note)
service belongs
quit-rent; (see note)
is inherited from
(see note)

warrantees; (see note)
heirs and assigns; (see note)

(see note)

Go To Items 9-11, Latin Epigrams and The Rules for Purchasing Land, introduction
Go To Items 11a and 11b, Latin Epigrams, text