The jurors were thus not merely witnesses, but sworn to act as judges also in determining the value of the charge, and it is this double character of Henry's jurors that has descended to our "grand jury," who still remain charged with the duty of presenting criminals for trial after examination of the witnesses against then. Two later steps brought the jury to its modern condition. Under Edward the First witnesses acquainted with the particular fact in question were added in each case to the general jury, and by the separation of these two classes of jurors at a later time the last became simply " witnesses " without any judicial power, while the first ceased to be witnesses at all, and became our modern jurors, who are only judges of the testimony given. With this assize, too, the practice which had prevailed from the earliest English times of "compurgation " passed away. Under this system the accused could be acquitted of the charge by the voluntary oath of his neighbours and kinsmen; but this was abolished by the Assize of Clarendon, and for the next fifty years his trial, after the investigation of the grand jury, was found solely in the ordeal or "judgement of God," where innocence was proved by the power of holding hot iron in the hand, or by sinking when flung into the water, for swimming was a proof of guilt.
It was the abolition of the whole system of ordeal by the Council of Lateran which led the way to the establishment of what is called a " petty jury" for the final trial of prisoners. The Assize of Clarendon was expanded in that of Northampton, which was drawn up immediately after the rebellion of the Barons. Henry, as we have seen, had restored the King's Court and the occasional circuits of its justices: by the Assize of Northampton he rendered this institution permanent and regular by dividing the, kingdom into six districts, to each of which he assigned three itinerant, justices. The circuits thus defined correspond roughly with those that still exist. The primary object of these circuits was financial, but the rendering of the King's justice went on side by-side with the exaction of the King's dues, and this carrying of justice to every corner of the realm was made still more effective by the abolition of all feudal exemptions from the royal jurisdiction. The chief danger of the new system lay in the opportunities it afforded to judicial corruption; and so great were its abuses that Henry was soon forced to restrict for a time the number of justices to five, and to reserve appeals from their court to himself in council.
The Court of Appeal which he thus created, that of the King in Council, gave birth as time went on to tribunal after tribunal. It is from it that the judicial powers now exercised by the Privy Council are derived, as well as the equitable jurisdiction of the Chancellor. In the next century it becomes the Great Council of the realm, from which the Privy Council drew its legislative, and the House of Lords its judicial character. The Court of Star Chamber and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are later offshoots of Henry's Court of Appeal. The King's Court, which became inferior to this higher jurisdiction, was divided after the Great Charter into the three distinct courts of the King's Bench, the Exchequer, and the Common Pleas, which by the time of Edward the First received distinct judges, and became for all purposes separate.
For the ten years which followed the revolt of the barons Henry's power was at its height; and an invasion, which we shall tell hereafter, had annexed Ireland to his English crown. But the course of triumph and legislative reform was rudely broken by the quarrels and revolts of his sons. The successive deaths of Henry and Geoffry were followed by intrigues between Richard, now his father's heir, who had been entrusted with Aquitaine, and Philip, who had succeeded Lewis on the throne of France. The plot broke out at last in actual conflict; Richard did homage to Philip, and their allied forces suddenly appeared before Le Mans, from which Henry was driven in headlong flight towards Normandy. From a height where he halted to look back on the burning city, so dear to him as his birthplace, the King hurled his curse against God: "Since Thou hast taken from me the town I loved best, where I was born and bred, and where my father lies buried, I will have my revenge on Thee too - 1 will rob Thee of that thing Thou lovest most in me." Death was upon him, and the longing of a dying man drew him to the home of his race, but Tours fell as he lay at Saumur, and the hunted King was driven to beg mercy from his foes.
They gave him the list of the conspirators against him: at the head of them was his youngest and best-loved son, John. "Now," he said, as he turned his face to the wall, " let things go as they will - I care no more for myself or for the world." He was borne to Chinon by the silvery waters of Vienne, and muttering, "Shame, shame on a conquered King," passed sullenly away.