Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Twiss, Sir Travers, ed., Monumenta Juridica. The Black Book of the Admiralty with an Appendix. (4 vols. London: Longmans and Co., (Rolls Series, No. 55)) Read this source online

Text name(s): The Black Book of the Admiralty; Domesday of Ipswich; Charter of Oleron; Customs of the Sea

Number of pages of primary source text: 2027


Dates: 1200 - 1500

Archival Reference: Bodleian MS.

Original Language(s): 

  • Anglo-Norman
  • English - Anglo-Saxon / Old English
  • Latin
  • Spanish


  • Translated into English.
  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: Select passages have been translated

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • England
  • Europe
  • France
  • Middle East
  • Spain


Record Types: 

  • Charters, Deeds
  • Court Roll
  • Custumal
  • Law - Legislation

Subject Headings: 

  • Economy - Trade
  • Government
  • Law - Secular
  • Maritime
  • Nobility / Gentry
  • Royalty / Monarchs
  • Towns / Cities
  • Travel / Pilgrimage
  • War - Chivalry
  • War - Military History


  • Index
  • Glossary
  • Appendix
  • Facsimile
  • Introduction


The first volume contains the Black Book of the Admiralty, an English procedural manual, written c. 1450 (but containing much earlier material) for the lord high admiral that includes a compilation of maritime laws, customs, and court decisions. Unfortunately this edition was printed from an eighteenth century transcript because the original version was not found until the work was in progress (the fourth volume is based on the original text). The volume also has a collection of documents relating to the admiralty of Sir Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter (c. 1427) and a few related French ordinances.

The second volume is the text of the Ipswich Domesday which compromises a full description of the borough and its bearings on maritime law. The remaining part of the volume prints the Customs of Oleron and Judgments of the Sea (210-397); the Etablissements (Laws) of the Commune of Royan (in France) and later additions to the Rolls of Oleron on shipmasters, merchants, and mariners.

The third volume contains the French “Charter of Oleron of the Judgements of the Sea” and the Spanish customs of the sea. The Rolls of Oleron contain articles of the earliest known compilation of maritime laws (the Maritime Law of Wisby).

In addition to the printing corrections to the Black Book of the Admiralty in the fourth volume, the editor has included the maritime laws and ordinances of Amalfi, Bruges, Danzig Lubeck, Trani, Valencia, Wisby, Gotland, Flanders, Livonia and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Introduction Summary: 

Each book has an extensive introduction discussing the sources in that volume and a table of contents.

Cataloger: SES