Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2021
The relative scarcity of matrimonial proceedings in England (and perhaps Normandy) resulted from administrative arrangements. It does not highlight differences separating the area from the rest of the North. English diocesan officials did not exercise exclusive rights of first instance jurisdiction over matrimony. Diocesan officials operated in a distinct environment because they had to compete with countless tribunals for rights of adjudication. Commissaries and exempt judges went on rounds of supervision, setting up vetting stations, especially for allegations that did not attain legal levels of proof. Unilateral marriage claims were normally decided on the spot and before they could reach central locations. If records from visited and permanent seats of English church justice are read in conjunction, on the other hand, they yield quantities of marriage cases resembling those from Paris or Cambrai. The treatment of cases was again exceptional in that multiple proceedings on account of identical charges were often staged in the same diocese. The rules of canonical jurisprudence envisioned three tiers of appellate hierarchy at a maximum. In Anglo-Norman practice, the revision of prior rulings could pass many more times between commissaries, deans, and higher dignitaries.