A bailiff (french: bailli, ) was the king’s administrative representative during the ''
The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël
The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
'' in northern France, where the bailiff was responsible for the application of justice and control of the administration and local finances in his
A bailiwick () is usually the area of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction (from Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area a ...
''Bailli'' (12th-century French ''bailif'', "administrative official, deputy") was derived from a
Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary
Literature broadly is any collection of written
Writing is a medium of human communication
Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is th ...
term ''*bajulivus'' meaning "official in charge of a castle", i.e. a royal
A castellan is the title used in Medieval Europe for an appointed official, a governor of a castle and its surrounding territory referred to as the castellany. The title of ''governor'' is retained in the English prison system, as a remnant of ...
In the late 12th and early 13th century, King Philip II
, an able and ingenious administrator who founded the central institutions on which the French monarchy's system of power would be based, prepared the expansion of the royal demesne through his appointment of bailiffs in the king's northern lands (the '' domaine royal
''), based on medieval fiscal and tax divisions (the "") which had been used by earlier sovereign princes such as the
Duke of Normandy
In the Middle Ages, the Duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western Kingdom of France, France. The duchy arose out of a grant of land to the Viking leader Rollo by the French king Charles the Simple, Charles III in 911 ...
Flanders (, ; Dutch
Dutch commonly refers to:
* Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands
* Dutch people ()
* Dutch language ()
*Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'')
Dutch may also refer to:"
, the count appointed similar bailiffs ( nl, baljuw). The equivalent agent in the king's southern lands acquired after the inheritance of the
County of Toulouse
The County of Toulouse ( oc, Comtat de Tolosa) was a territory in southern France consisting of the city of Toulouse and its environs, ruled by the Count of Toulouse from the late 9th century until the late 13th century.
The territory is the ...
The word ''seneschal'' () can have several different meanings, all of which reflect certain types of supervising or administering in a historic context. Most commonly, a seneschal was a senior position filled by a court appointmentCourt appointments ...
Over time, the role of the baillages would be greatly extended as extensions of royal power, administration and justice. With the office of Great Seneschal vacant after 1191, the bailies became stationary and established themselves as powerful officials superior to provosts. A bailie's district included about half a dozen provostships. When appeals were instituted by the Crown, appeal of provost judgments, formerly impossible, now lay with the bailie. Moreover, in the 14th century, provosts no longer were in charge of collecting domainal revenues, except in farmed provostships, having instead yielded this responsibility to royal receivers (receveurs royaux). Raising local army contingents (ban and arrière-ban) also passed to bailies. Provosts therefore retained the sole function of inferior judges over vassals with original jurisdiction concurrent with bailies over claims against nobles and actions reserved for royal courts (cas royaux). This followed a precedent established in the chief feudal courts in the 13th and 14th centuries in which summary provostship suits were distinguished from solemn bailliary sessions.
Unlike the local administration of
England in the High Middle Ages includes the history of England between the Norman Conquest
The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England
England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, ...
A sheriff is a government official, with varying duties, existing in some countries with historical ties to England where the office originated. There is an analogous although independently developed office in Iceland that is commonly translated ...
s drawn from the great local families, the bailiff was a paid official sent out by the government, who had no power network in the area to which he had been assigned, and, in the way of a true
A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy
The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats
A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of ...
, owed his income and
Social status is the level of social value a person is considered to hold. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of respect, honour
Honour ( British English) or honor (American English
American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng ...
wholly to the central administration that he represented. "He was therefore fanatically loyal to the king," Norman Cantor observes, "and was concerned only with the full exercise of royal power."
[Cantor 1993, ''loc. cit.''.]
Cathedral schools began in the Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6t ...
s and the
University of Paris
, image_name = Coat of arms of the University of Paris.svg
, image_size = 150px
, caption =
, latin_name = Universitas magistrorum et scholarium Parisiensis
, motto = ''Hic et ubique terrarum'' (Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a classical ...
provided the clerks and lawyers who served as the king's bailiff.
A bailiff (from Middle English
Middle English (abbreviated to ME) was a form of the English language spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct va ...
Vidame () was a feudal
Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe
In the history of Europe
The history of Europe conc ...
Kingdom of France