Content researched from historic texts. May contain errors or opinions contrary to legal practice or judgment and caselaw. No liability accepted for site contents. For research only.

Seek legal advice from advocates.


Legal System and the history of the Clameur

The Channel Islands have been part of the Duchy of Normandy since 933AD and a possession of the English Crown since 1066. Not surprisingly therefore, the local laws have their base in the customary law of Normandy. Customary law continued to develop after the Napoleonic era when they were scrapped in France and many laws in the Channel Islands, such as the laws of Property and Inheritance remain continue to reflect their Norman origins.

As the 19th century came to an end, the islands increasingly looked toward the English legal system for guidance but many of the historic laws remained in force. One of these was the Clameur.

This unique relationship with the English Crown via its Norman French origin has remained unbroken for almost 950 years.

"Haro! Haro! Haro! a l'aide
mon Prince! on me fait tort!".

Although some writers suggest that the popular derivation for the action is an abbreviation of a direct appeal to Rollo, first duke of Normandy"Ha! Rollo", this is almost certainly wrong as cry for justice was in no sense an institution of Rollo, but was a method of appeal recognized in many countries.

It is far more probable that haro is simply an exclamation to call attention which the English know as the town crier's "hearye hearye hearye". It is also heard all over Europe in the identical Norman cries "hera!" "hara!" and "hereye!". It is also found in Legatro of the Bavarians and the Thuringians. The first mention of it in France is to be found in the Grand coutumier de Normandie and a similar custom, only observed in criminal charges, was recognized by the Saxon laws under the name of "Clamor Violentiae".

The mis-reference to Rollo is however likely to be properly attributed to the raising of the Clameur in the summonsing of the Prince's help by the Criant in the phrase "a l'aide mon Prince! on me fait tort!". The first Prince referred to was probably Rollo. This call to the Crown is the recognition that the plea of Clameur is raised directly to the Crown.

So who was Rollo?

In AD 911, Norwegian adventurer 'Rolfe the Ganger' (or Rollo), acquired the Province of Rouen and half the Province of Frankia, from Charles the Simple King of France, by the Treaty of St. Claire-sur-Epte, provided he became a Christian and defended the French against further invasions by the Vikings. With it he was granted the title of "Count" or "Patrician", but is now more often considered as the 1st Duke of Normandy. He handed over the title and land to his son, William Longsword in 925, a few years before he died. The Channel Islands were added to the territories formerly controlled by Rollo about 933, continuing William's westward expansion. In the second half of the 10th century, Rollo's grandson Richard I styled himself 'Marquis of the Normans' and in 1001, King Aethelred of England married his sister Emma. Richard gave homage for the region to the Duke of Frankia. This Duchy was reabsorbed into the Kingdom of the Franks in 1015 and Richard then assumed the title of 'Duke of Normandy'. His son, Richard II 4th Duke of Normandy, then styled himself "Duke and Patrician".

William the Bastard (the 'Conqueror' of England) succeeded to the title as 7th Duke in 1035, granted the Church in Alderney to the Abbey of St. Michel in exchange for part of Guernsey in 1042 and transferred it to the Bishop of Coutances in 1057 (copies of these Charters may still be seen) and, after seizing the English Crown in 1066 he became King of England. He retained the Dukedom of Normandy as his personal possession and did not incorporate Normandy into the "Realm" of England.

Where can I find more?

There is a literature on the haro, though not much modern work:

  • Pissard, H., _Le Clameur de Haro en droit normand_, Caen 1911,
  • Scherwill, N., La clameur de haro - Bulletin de la Societe Guernesaise, 1947,
  • Besnier, R., Actualite de la clameur de haro dans le droit de l'Ile de Guernesey - droit prive et institutions regionales.
  • Etudes historiques offertes a Jean Yver_, 1976
  • Houard, B., _Dictionnaire ... de la Coutume de Normandie_, Rouen 1780-82.)(Entry).