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Unformatted text preview: hat account, obliged, by the general principles of the feudal law, to attend on him in his great councils.d Yet there still remained some practices, which supposed their title to be derived merely from ancient possession: When a bishop was elected, he sat in parliament before the king had made him restitution of his temporalities; and during the vacancy of a see, the guardian of the spiritualities was summoned to attend along with the bishops. The barons were another constituent part of the great council of the nation. These held immediately of the crown by a military tenure: They were the most honourable members of the state, and had a right to be consulted in all public deliberations: They were the immediate vassals of the crown, and owed as a service their attendance in the court of their supreme lord. A resolution, taken without their consent, was likely to be but ill executed: And no determination of any cause or controversy among them had any validity, where the vote and advice of the body did not concur. The dignity of earl or count was official and territorial, as well as hereditary; and as all the earls were also barons, they were considered as military vassals of the crown, were admitted in that capacity into the general council, and formed the most honourable and powerful branch of it. But there was another class of the immediate military tenants of the crown, no less or probably more numerous than the barons, the tenants in capite by knights service; and these, however inferior in power or property, held by a tenure, which was equally honourable with that of the others. A barony was commonly composed of several knights fees: And though the number seems not to have been exactly defined, seldom consisted of less than fifty hydes of land:e But where a man held of the king only one or two knights fees, he was still an immediate vassal of the crown, and as such had a title to have a seat in the general councils. But as this attendance was usually esteemed a burthen, and one too great for a man of slender fortune to bear constantly; it is probable, that, though he had a title, if he pleased, to be admitted, he was not obliged, by any penalty, like the barons, to pay a regular attendance. All the immediate military tenants of the crown amounted not fully to 700, when Domesdaybook was framed; and as the members were well pleased, on any pretext, to excuse themselves from attendance, the assembly was never likely to become too numerous for the dispatch of public business. So far the nature of a general council or ancient parliament is The commons. determined without any doubt or controversy. The only question seems to be with regard to the commons, or the representatives of counties and boroughs; whether they were also, in more early times, constituent parts of parliament? This question was once disputed in England with great acrimony: But such is the force of time and evidence, that they can sometimes prevail even over faction; and the question seems, by general consent, and even by their own, to be at last determined against the ruling pa...
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This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08