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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Today in History: The Alien Prince of Paradine v. Jane

Prince_rupert_1 On this date, November 29, 1682, Prince Rupert of the Palatinate died at London.  His role in contract law, as all contracts teachers know, was as the supervening force in Paradine v. Jane.

The case describes Rupert as a “German prince, . . . an alien born, enemy to the King and his kingdom.”  Though he was, in fact, a German prince and an alien, he was also nephew to King Charles I, being the son of his sister Elizabeth of Bohemia.  His uncle created him Earl of Holderness and Duke of Cumberland, in addition to his German titles.  Far from being an enemy of the King, he was one of his staunchest supporters in the Civil War.

Trouble had been brewing for years between Charles and Parliament.  On January 4, 1642, royal troops entered Parliament to arrest its leaders, but they had fled.  Because of hostility in London, Charles moved north to raise an army.  Rupert, though only 23, already had nine years’ military experience campaigning on the Continent, and he was appointed commander of all Royalist cavalry.  Oxford, intensely loyal to the Crown, became the Royal capital during the war.

On July 19, 1642, Royalist troops took possession of some property owned by one Paradine and leased to Jane.  Charles subsequently raised the royal banner at Nottingham on August 22, triggering the Civil War.  The tide of war ebbed and flowed, but by December 1645, the king was bottled up in Oxford and the Royalist resistance is broken.  When Oxford fell, shortly after the Feast of the Annunciation, in April 1646, the remaining resistance collapsed.  Jane got his land back.

Paradine sued for three years of back rent.  By the time the case reached the judges, Rupert was banished to the Continent and the King was a prisoner of Parliament -- hence the "enemy" label.  In his defense against Paradine’s claim for rent, Jane raised the fact that he had been deprived of use of the land for three years.  The court’s opinion, finding for the landlord, can be read by clicking on “continue reading.”

Rupert, meanwhile, joined a group of English exiles fighting for the King of France, turned buccaneer for a while, preying on English shipping in the West Indies, and with the Restoration came back to England with Charles II.  He commanded the English fleet successfully during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and unsuccessfully during the Third, helped invent the mezzotint, and served as the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  He died peacefully at home with his mistress, a Drury Lane actress, and his daughter Ruperta.

[Frank Snyder]

                   Paradine v. Jane
             Aleyn 26, 82 Eng. Rep. 897 (K.B. 1647)

In debt the plaintiff declares upon a lease for years rendering rent at the four usual feasts; and for rent behind for three years, ending at the Feast of the Annunciation, 21 Car. [1646] brings his action; the defendant pleads, that a certain German prince, by name Prince Rupert, an alien born, enemy to the King and his kingdom, had invaded the realm with an hostile army of men; and with the same force did enter upon the defendant’s possession, and him expelled, and held out of possession from the 19 of July 18 Car. [1642] till the Feast of the Annunciation, 21 Car. whereby he could not take the profits; whereupon the plaintiff demurred, and the plea was resolved insufficient.

1.  Because the defendant hath not answered to one quarters rent.

2.  He hath not averred that the enemy were all aliens, which shall not be intended, and then he hath his remedy against them; and Bacon cited 33 H. 6.1. e where the gaoler in bar of an escape pleaded that alien enemies broke the prison &c. and exception taken to it, for that he ought to shew of what country they were, viz. Scots, &c.

3.  It was resolved, that the matter of the plea was insufficient; for though the whole army had been alien enemies, yet he ought to pay his rent.  And this difference was taken, that where the law creates a duty or charge, and the party is disabled to perform it without any default in him, and hath no remedy over, there the law will excuse him.  As in the case of waste, if a house be destroyed by tempest, or by enemies, the lessee is excused, Dyer, 33 a. Inst. 53, d. 283, a. 12 H. 4.6. so of an escape.  Co. 4.84. b. 33 H. 6. 1.  So in 9 E. 3.16 a supersedeas was awarded to the justices, that they should not proceed in a cessavit upon a cesser during the war, but when the party by his own contract creates a duty or charge upon himself, he is bound to make it good, if he may, not withstanding any accident by inevitable necessity, because he might have provided against it by his contract.  And therefore if the lessee covenant to repair a house, though it be burnt by lightening, or thrown down by enemies, yet he ought to repair it.  Dyer 33. a. 40 E. Ill. 6. h.  Now the rent is a duty created by the parties upon the reservation, and had there been a covenant to pay it, there had been no question but the lessee must have made it good, notwithstanding the interruption by enemies, for the law would not protect him beyond his own agreement, no more than in the case of the reparations; this reservation then being a covenant in law, and whereupon an action of covenant hath been maintained (as Roll said) it is all one as if there had been an actual covenant.  Another reason was added, that as the lessee is to have the advantage of casual profits, so he must run the hazard of casual losses, and not lay the whole burthen of them upon his lessor; and Dyer 56.6 was cited for this purpose, that though the land be surrounded, or gained by the sea, or made barren by wildfire, yet the lessor shall have his whole rent; and judgment was given for the plaintiff.

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