Private Feudal Court of The High Lord of Blondel -
The Chief Pleas of the Seignorial court of Fief Thomas Blondel were held annually at the mounting block or steps
(perron) of the Church of St. Pierre-du-Bois. Today,
St Peter's Church, known officially as Saint Pierre du Bois is a parish in Guernsey. https://www.stpeterschurchguernsey.co.uk/4/homewelcomeour-building It
is the centre for the Guernsey Western Parishes which includes Torteval, St Saviour's and the Forest. The old
Guernesiais nickname for people from Saint Pierre was etcherbaots which means The Beetles.
The Feudal Courts have existed for over 800 years. Even the title to the Fief Blondel shows the court and
jurats transferring the Fief from Janette Blondel to Thomas de la Court in 1440.
As Fief Blondel is one of the Last Feudal Private Fiefs in the World, The Lord and Officers may conduct court at
anytime and anywhere in the world in ceremony.
The Fief of Thomas Blondel in the parishes of Torteval and St. Peter in the Wood is an authentic Norman
Viking Frankish title. The Seignuers (Free Lords) of Blondel existed before formal Baron titles were
created. Fief Blondel is part of the former large Fief of Canelly, once held by William de Chesney (1284) and
before him by the Le Canellys until the separation of Guernsey from French Normandy in 1204.
Feudal Courts still meet to this day as reported by the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-guernsey-27962557
Commissioner Mentz, Seigneur of Fief Blondel et Eperons at the Steps of the Fief Court at the Church of St.
Pierre Du Bois or St. Peter in the Wood
Seigneur of Fief Blondel, Commissioner Mentz meets lords spiritual and temporal and Governor of the Islands
Seigneur of Fief Blondel participates in Ancient Feudal Procession for Chief Pleas
Usually the courts have at least the following members (name in
French as usual at the time, followed by the English equivalent)
-Senechal (Steward). Is
the President of the Court. Usually once it has been designated by the Seigneur it is
for life unless renounced.
-First Lieutenant-Senechal. The first nominated vavasseur
(jury) may act as lieutenant-senechal. Usually once is been
designated by the Seigneur it is for life unless renounced.
-Vavasseurs (jury). A
minimum of two. They may be removed by the Seigneur but only under special
-Prevot (Sheriff). It is
designated for one year (Pour
l’annee…) but may be
hey are allowed to speak but not to vote)
-Greffier (Clerk). It is the secretary (normally a lawyer).
May be removed by the Seigneur but there is no
tradition to change except on very rare occasions
-Sergent (sergeant). May be removed by the
Seigneur but there is no tradition to change
except on very rare occasions.
Procedure for the celebration of the Court meeting
Members, officers and public come and sit. The
may assist or not.
The Sergeant calls to order and says “
”. All stand up
La oraison dominicale
start the prayer “ (
) ”. Then all sit.
Evocation (La Role)
Listing Roll. The
call of persons present.
Ratification des actes
Plaids de cour
New actions are presented in writing by the
or by any member of the public by demand. They are given to the
and read by the
Rapport du Seigneur (optional)
It is read by the
The Seigneur never address the Court directly except with permission of the
(asked by the
” and all stand up.
The seneschal adjourns the Court
Establishment of Court Agenda:
Usually the draft of the agenda (
) is established by the
with the knowledge of the
prepares the final document and it is sent to the
. Even the Royal Court calls by mail. The document is usually not signed.
Appointment and Oath of the Court members:
If there has been no court for years, the Seigneur designated new seneschal should take the
oath at the Royal Court.
For that reason the
must address the Royal Court (with the assistance of a lawyer) for that
If there is a court, the new members are among the public. The
has previously informed verbally to the
the name and post of the new member. Also the
has written an “action document”, as any other action demanded by the
to the court. This document is given to the
reads the “action document” and the
asks the Court if there is any objection. If the vote is favorable, then he calls the new
member and reads the oath to him. Afterwards the new member takes his place.
Officers of a Fief - Here is the Example of The Fief de Blanchelande below:
The court of Fief de Blanchelande consists of senechal (or steward), four vavasseurs (jurats or vassals) and
officers who include the greffier and his deputy (court clerks), a prevot (sheriff), a sergent (sergeant to serve
summonses) and a grenetier (grain store-keeper) The court always met at least three times a year at Chief Pleas
after Michaelmas, Christmas and Easter, although since the German Occupation this has reduced to the one Chief
Pleas after Michaelmas. However, this sitting has continued the long tradition of having a court lunch immediately
afterwards, at La Barbarie Hotel. http://www.labarbariehotel.com/PDF/History.pdf
Guernsey Feudal Lords and their Fiefs
The administration of a feudal manor has been regarded from two points; (1) the old view, which represented every-
thing feudal as a grinding tyranny, whether from the king as supreme in the State, down to the lord of the manor ;
(2) the modern view, which sees the power both of king or baron great, but not absolute. The king, the chief of the
State, but regarded by his barons rather as chief among equals than as a superior. As the barons of Aragon said to
their king — 4; We, each of whom is as good as you, all together better than you."*
So the feudal baron ruled his estate as chief among his principal tenants, who formed his court and administered
justice under his representative, the seneschal. This system is clearly shown in the records of manor courts in
England, and by the old " franchises " of our Guernsey Fief du Comte, the earliest copy of which dates from 1406.
Here we find the seneschal, or president of the Manor Court, and the greffier, or clerk, appointed by the Lord of
the Manor. The eight vavassors, or judges of the court, were the seigneurs of the eight principal frank-fiefs of
the manor, who held their land by suit of court. By the sixteenth century only three of these frank-fiefs
retained hereditary seigneurs, namely those of Du Groignet, Du Pignon, and De Carteret, the two first held by
the Le Marchants, and the latter by a Blondel. These seigneurs served as vavassors either in person or by deputy
chosen by themselves, subject to the approval of the Seigneur du Comte. The vavassors of the other five franc-
fiefs, De Longues, Des Reveaux, Du Videclin, Des Grantes, and De La Court, were chosen by the lord of the manor,
and presented by him to take oath before the Manor Court. They bore the title of seigneurs of the franc-fief they
represented whilst acting as vavassors.
The next important officer, the prevot or grangier of the manor, whose duties in some measure corresponded with
those of the prevot or sheriff of the Royal Court, was curiously chosen by the tenants of the thirty-two vellein
bouvees of the manor. Two of these bouvees in turn choosing the prevot for the year. That this rather important
officer, who also acted as receiver of the revenue of the manor, should have been elected yearly by the vellein
tenants is a very interesting fact, one certainly quite contrary to the generally conceived notions on feudalism.
The same custom prevailed in most of our Guernsey manors, with the exception of that of La Rosiere, belonging to
the Seigneur d'Anneville, of which the " prevote " was hereditary in the family of Prey, who were considerable
landowners near " Les Grandes Capelles."
There were also seven bordiers of Fief du Comte who held their lands called " bordages " by service of acting as
police officers to the court. They had to attend its sittings, execute its orders, help the prevot in arresting
tenants of the manor, and taking them to prison ; also in early times they had to assist him in receiving from the
hands of the king's officers, felons, tenants of the manor condemned to execution by the Royal Court, and
hang them on the manorial gallows, otherwise the king and not the lord of the manor, got their escheats.
The Seigneurs and Dames of the Ancient Fiefs have been asked in 2022 to join the Court of Chief Pleas that is
run by the Crown's Government. All of the lords temporal and spiritual show up to the Ancient Royal Court to
proclaim attendance. The Courts have existed since Guernsey was part of France over 800 years ago where the Courts
were held at St. Michael in 1204. These may be the oldest courts in the world still in operation. To
this day, the Royal Courts invite Seigneurs and Dames (Free Tenants) of the ancient Guernsey fiefs to pay suit to
the court. The Chiefs or Lord Seigneurs have been in existance in Guernsey for more than 800 years.
Year 1179 provides us with the key to many puzzles. It proves the existence of a Royal Court in Guernsey at that
date, a curia regis presided over by a vicomte.
The Vicomte's Court was a feudal court in which the Seigneurs or tenants-in-chief of the Fiefs, the notables of
the district, sat as assessors under the presidency of the vicomte as they sat in the courts of the Anglo-Norman
Sheriffs of the period.
The oldest Courts of Guernsey can be traced back to the 9th century. The principal court is the Royal Court and
exercises both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Additional courts, such as the Magistrate's Court, which deals with
minor criminal matters, and the Court of Appeal, which hears appeals from the Royal Court, have been added to the
Island's legal system over the years.
A projet de loi is the equivalent of a UK bill or a French projet de loi, and a law is the equivalent of a UK
act of parliament or a French loi. A draft law passed by the States can have no legal effect until formally
approved by Her Majesty in Council and promulgated by means of an order in council. Laws are given the Royal
Sanction at regular meetings of the Privy Council in London, after which they are returned to the islands for
formal registration at the Royal Court. The States also make delegated legislation known as Ordinances
(Ordonnances) and Orders (ordres) which do not require the Royal Assent.
Fief Blondel is a Moiety of the Fief au Cannely
The Assize Rolls of 1309 and 1320, and a deed at Warwick Castle throw light on this last entry, as they show
that Drouet de St Martin had married Guillemote, and Thomas de Vic, Lucie, daughters and co-heiresses of
Sir Henry Le Canelly, Knight, Seigneur of Le Canelly, an important Guernsey manor which stretched over
part of the parishes of Torteval, St Peter-in-the-Wood and St Saviour.
Henry de St Martin
Henry de St Martin, eldest son of Drouet, succeeded his father as Seigneur of Trinity. In 1315 he had a lawsuit
with his brothers Drouet and Philippot, who claimed a share of the "franc fief de la Trinite" but were nonsuited by
the Royal Court, who declared the manor was not divisible. At the Assizes held in Guernsey, 1309, Henry de St
Martin and his brothers John, Drouet, Symon and Philip were summoned to declare before John Fresingfeld and his
fellow justices, by what right they and Avice de Vic claimed aid from their tenants in the parishes of Torteval and
St Peter-in-the-Wood, suit of court, the right of chase and court of their tenants.
The de St Martin brothers declared that Henry de St Martin and Avice de Vic held the inheritance of 'Le Kenele'
between them, and Henry and Avice declared that, with the exception of the 'aid' which they did not claim, their
ancestors had enjoyed these rights from time immemorial. Through some subsequent redivision of lands between the
brothers, the de St Martin's share of Le Canelly went to Sire Symon de St Martin, Rector of St Saviour, Guernsey,
sometime before the Assizes of 1320. St Martin and de la Court families -
Thus, "Suit of Court" was part of the moiety of Le Kenele or Fief au Cannely