This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol1 Introduction To The Study Of Law Legal History", by Albert H. Putney. Also see: Popular Law-Dictionary.
The Norman Conquest was destined entirely to change the course of development of English law, and yet, with the exception of the introduction of the Norman feudal system, very few innovations were made by William the Conqueror, himself, in the English law. The changes which took place were of gradual growth, and the English law of the twelfth century is a very different thing from either the Saxon law or the Norman law of the eleventh. The legislation of William I. himself has thus been summed up: "He forbade the bishops and archdeacons to hold in the hundred courts pleas touching ecclesiastical discipline; such pleas were for the future to be judged according to the canons and not according to the law of the hundred; the lay power was to aid the justice of the church, but it was to be well understood that no canon was to be enacted, and none of his barons or ministers were to be excommunicated without his leave. He declared that his peace comprehended all men, both English and Normans. He required from every freeman an oath of fealty. He established a special protection for the lives of the Frenchmen; if the slayer of a Frenchman was not produced a heavy fine fell on the hundred in which he was slain. He declared that this special protection did not extend to those Frenchmen who had settled in England during the Confessor's reign. He defined the procedural rules which were to prevail if a Frenchman accused an Englishman, or an Englishman a Frenchman. He decreed that every freeman should have pledges bound to produce him in court. He forbade that cattle should be sold except in the towns and before three witnesses. He forbade that any man should be sold out of the country. He substituted mutilation for capital punishment." 1