You are here

قراءة كتاب Landholding in England

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
Landholding in England

Landholding in England

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

manor of Malling, in Sussex, was annulled because it was given without the consent of the council. The subsequent gift thereof, by Egbert and Athelwolf, was made with the concurrence and assent of the great men. The kings' charters of escheated lands, to which they had succeeded by a personal right, usually declared "that it might be known that what they gave was their own."

Discussions have at various times taken place upon the question, "Was the land-system of this period FEUDAL?" It engaged the attention of the Irish Court of King's Bench, in the reign of Charles I., and was raised in this way: James I. had issued "a commission of defective titles." Any Irish owner, upon surrendering his land to the king, got a patent which reconvened it on him. Wentworth (Lord Stafford) wished to SETTLE Connaught, as Ulster had been SETTLED in the preceding reign, and, to accomplish it, tried to break the titles granted under "the commission of defective titles." Lord Dillon's case, which is still quoted as an authority, was tried. The plea for the Crown alleged that the honor of the monarch stood before his profit, and as the commissioners were only authorized to issue patents to hold in capite, whereas they had given title "to hold in capite, by knights' service out of Dublin Castle," the grant was bad. In the course of the argument, the existence of feudal tenures, before the landing of William of Normandy, was discussed, and Sir Henry Spelman's views, as expressed in the Glossary, were considered. The Court unanimously decided that feudalism existed in England under the ANGLO-SAXONs, and it affirmed that Sir Henry Spelman was wrong. This decision led Sir Henry Spelman to write his "Treatise on Feuds," which was published after his death, in which he reasserted the opinion that feudalism was introduced into England at the Norman invasion. This decision must, however, be accepted with a limitation; I think there was no separate order of NOBILITY under the ANGLO-SAXON rule. The king had his councillors, but there appears to have been no order between him and the FOLC-GEMOT. The Earls and the Thanes met with the people, but did not form a separate body. The Thanes were country gentleman, not senators. The outcome of the heptarchy was the Earls or Ealdermen; this was the only order of nobility among the Saxons; they corresponded to the position of lieutenants of counties, and were appointed for life. In 1045 there were nine such officers; in 1065 there were but six. Harold's earldom, at the former date, comprised Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Middlesex; and Godwin's took in the whole south coast from Sandwich to the Land's End, and included Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Wilts, Devonshire, and Cornwall. Upon the death of Godwin, Harold resigned his earldom, and took that of Godwin, the bounds being slightly varied. Harold retained his earldom after he became king, but on his death it was seized upon by the Conqueror, and divided among his followers.

The Crown relied upon the LIBERI HOMINES or FREEMEN. The country was not studded with castles filled with armed men. The HOUSE of the Thane was an unfortified structure, and while the laws relating to land were, in my view, essentially FEUDAL, the government was different from that to which we apply the term FEUDALISM, which appears to imply baronial castles, armed men, and an oppressed people.

I venture to suggest to some modern writers that further inquiry will show them that FOLC-LAND was not confined to commonages, or unallotted portions, but that at the beginning it comprised all the land of the kingdom, and that the occupant did not enjoy it as owner-in-severalty; he had a good title against his fellow subjects, but he held under the FOLC-GEMOT, and was subject to conditions. The consolidation of the sovereignty, the extension of laws of forfeiture, the assumption by the kings of the rights of the popular assemblies, all tended to the formation of a second set of titles, and BOC-LAND became an object of ambition. The same individual appears to have held land by both titles, and to have had greater powers over the latter than over the former.

Many of those who have written on the subject seem to me to have failed to grasp either the OBJECT or the GENIUS of FEUDALISM. It was the device of conquerors to maintain their possessions, and is not to be found among nations, the original occupiers of the land, nor in the conquests of states which maintained standing armies. The invading hosts elected their chieftain, they and he had only a life use of the conquests. Upon the death of one leader another was elected, so upon the death of the allottee of a piece of land it reverted to the state. The GENIUS of FEUDALISM was life ownership and non-partition. Hence the oath of fealty was a personal obligation, and investiture was needful before the new feudee took possession. The state, as represented by the king or chieftain, while allowing the claim of the family, exercised its right to select the individual. All the lands were considered BENEFICIA, a word which now means a charge upon land, to compensate for duties rendered to the state. Under this system, the feudatory was a commander, his residence a barrack, his tenants soldiers; it was his duty to keep down the aborigines, and to prevent invasion. He could neither sell, give, nor bequeath his land. He received the surplus revenue as payment for personal service, and thus enjoyed his BENEFICE. Judged in this way, I think the feudal system existed before the Norman Conquest. Slavery and serfdom undoubtedly prevailed. The country prospered under the Scandinavians; and, from the great abundance of corn, William of Poitiers calls England "the store-house of Ceres."