Statuta Antiqua Universitatis Oxoniensis

Published: 1931, Oxford, UK

That no-one shall bear arms

The chancellor forbids anyone, under pain of excommunication, to bear arms either by day or by night in order to do ill; and if anyone be convicted of this he shall be thrown into prison.

Statuta antiqua 81, before 1275.

Disturbers of the peace

And the chancellor forbids any scholar or other person, under pain of excommunication and imprisonment, to go into the streets or open paces or wander about with arms, or without arms after the sounding of the curfew, unless some necessary reason clearly obliges him to do so, in which case he will proceed properly and without loud noise and with a light before him. He who breaks this prohibition shall not enjoy the privileges of the scholars, and if apprehended shall be committed to prison.

Statuta antiqua 108, before 1275.

Statute for keeping the peace

And it is enacted that if any master or bachelor, of whatever faculty or standing, shall disturb the peace of this university by carry defensive or offensive arms (arma portanda defensiva vel alias offensiva) or forming associations or doing or bringing about anything by which the peace and tranquility of the students could be impeded, he shall be suspended for three years ... from any academic degree ...

Statuta antiqua 130, 16th Oct. 1327.

Annual enquiry into breaches of the peace

It is enacted in order to preserve the peace of the University of Oxford that at least once every year there shall be a general inquiry under the authority of the chancellor, by principals and manciples specially sworn for the purpose, concerning disturbers of the peace, public taverns, those who practise the art of the sword and buckler, and those who keep women (mulierculae) in their rooms, which can give rise to scandal and infamy. The inquiry shall be called suddenly and without warning by the chancellor in six places, to which all scholars and writers, both within the walls and in the suburbs, whether living in halls or in rooms, shall come as soon as possible; and in each of these places there shall be appointed as inquisitors one theologian, canonist or civil lawyer, along with two artists, who shall diligently take the votes of all, and shall faithfully convey to the chancellor the findings of the inquiry, that he may fulfil his duty in this matter.

Statuta antiqua 88-89, before 1313.

Nations and breaches of the peace

And because the names of offenders can better be noted by the principals of houses, who are constantly circulating among their fellows, it is enacted that all the principal inhabitants of halls or rooms or their his deputies shall come at the start of each year, within two weeks or sooner as shall seem best to the chancellor and proctors, and shall take a bodily oath that they will denounce to the chancellor or either proctor within three days of discovery anyone of their society they know to be forming such leagues or giving support to those who are forming them or to be joining such a league, or commonly and often to refer to te various nations in a partisan spirit, or to disturb the peace of the university, or to exercise the art of the sword and buckler, or to keep a whore in his house, or to bear arms, or in any way to forment discord between southerners and northeners: all of whom shall be punished with imprisonment as disturbers of the peace. And manciples shall be required to swear the same oath at the same time; and the chancellor and proctors shall know that for their part they are fully bound to observe this article.

Statuta antiqua 110-11, 6th July 1313.

Disturbers of the peace

[from the statute of about 1410 concerning keeping the peace which begins Cum effrenata]

Congregation (universitas magistrorum) unanimously enacts and decrees that everyone convicted under the status of the said university of a breach of the peace shall be punished, according to the nature and scale of the disturbance, and in addition to other cusomary penalties, by fines as follows: for threats of bodily harm made to any scholar or the servant of any scholar, 23d; for bearing arms against the statutes 2s; for the violent drawing of arms, or a shoulder-charge or a blow with the fist 4s; for striking with a stone or stick 6s 8d; for a blow with a sword, knife, dagger of poniard, or any such warlike instrument, 10s; for carrying bows and arrows with ill intent 20s; for the assembling of armed men or any other consiprators, or of confederates to break the peace or obstruct the execution of justice, or do bodily harm to anyone, 20s; for resisting the execution of justice or going about by night 40s, in addition to giving satisfaction to the injured parties.

Statuta antiqua 204-5, c. 1410.

See similar provisions of 24th May 2432 in Statuta antiqua 242.

Some provisions of the aularian statutes

No-one shall engage in games with a board or dice, handball, the art of the two-handed sword or of the sword and buckler, or any other improper game which disturbs the peace and distracts from study, under penalty of four pence. [nullus ... artem gladii bimanualis sue bokelarie ... exerceat].

Statuta antiqua 576, about 1450-90.

Inventory of the goods of Reginald Stone

Inventory of all the goods of Mr. Reginald Stone, recently deceased, which were found in his room in Vine Hall in Oxford and valued by authority of the chancellor by John Moore, common stationer, inthe presence of Lewis John, Mr. David Stone [BCL and rector of Stonesfield by 1454] etc: first a mattress with a bolster prices and 2s; a canopy and a hanging bed 6s; a blue “say” [a legists“s hood?] 20d; an old longdebufe [sword or spear in the shape of an ox“s tongue] 16d; a book pf practice [presumably legal practice] 16d; an iron fork and shovel 7d; a pair of playing tables 3d; a gown of cloth and a lining 6s; a buckler 10d; a harp 2s; a Sext [a text of canon law] 4s; an old text of decrees [canon law] 3s; an Old Digest 4s; a New Digest 5s [texts of civil law] an old book of practice 12d. The administration of the goods in this inventory was committed to Mr. David Stone and Geoffrey Begbroke, who took an oath according to the legal for an have rendered account and been released from their responsibility, saving the rights of anyone.

Registrum cancellarii oxoniensis 1434-1469, ed. H.E. Salter (2 vols. Oxford Historical Society xciii-iv 1932)ii.29, 85-6, 108, 206, 246-7, 326-7.

John Major“s view of Oxford, Cambridge and the English (1521)

[Born and schooled in Scotland, John Major or Mair spend part of an academic year at Cambridge before moving on to Paris].

There are, further, in England two illustrious universities ... in either university you shall find four or five thousand schoars; they are all of them no longer boys; they carry swords and bows, and in large part are of gentle birth.