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Unformatted text preview: as a model to William in this undertaking.r The king was naturally a great economist; and though no prince had ever been more bountiful to his officers and servants, it was merely because he had rendered himself universal proprietor of England, and had a whole kingdom to bestow. He reserved an ample revenue for the crown; and in the general distribution of land among his followers, he kept possession of no less than 1422 manors in different parts of Engiand,s which paid him rent either in money, or in corn, cattle, and the usual produce of the soil. An ancient historian computes, that his annual fixed income, besides escheats, fines, reliefs, and other casual profits to a great value, amounted to near 400,000 pounds a-year;t a sum, which, if all circumstances be attended to, will appear wholly incredible. A pound in that age, as we have already observed, contained three times the weight of silver that it does at present; and the same weight of silver, by the most probable computation, would purchase near ten times more of the necessaries of life, though not in the same proportion of the finer manufactures. This revenue, therefore, of William would be equal to at least nine or ten millions at present; and as that prince had neither fleet nor army to support, the former being only an occasional expence, and the latter being maintained, without any charge to him, by his military vassals, we must thence conclude, that no emperor or prince, in any age or nation, can be compared to the Conqueror for opulence and riches. This leads us to suspect a great mistake in the computation of the historian; though, if we consider that avarice is always imputed to William as one of his vices, and that, having by the sword rendered himself master of all the lands in the kingdom, he would certainly in the partition retain a great proportion for his own share; we can scarcely be guilty of any error in asserting, that perhaps no king of England was ever more opulent, was more able to support by his revenue the splendor and magnificence of a court, or could bestow more on his pleasures or in liberalities to his servants and favourites.u There was one pleasure, to which William, as well as all the The new forest. Normans and ancient Saxons, was extremely addicted; and that was hunting: But this pleasure he indulged more at the expence of his unhappy subjects, whose interests he always disregarded, than to the loss or diminution of his own revenue. Not content with those large forests, which former kings possessed in all parts of England; he resolved to make a new forest near Winchester, the usual place of his residence: And for that purpose, he laid waste the country in Hampshire for an extent of thirty miles, expelled the inhabitants from their houses, seized their property, even demolished churches and convents, and made the sufferers no compensation for the injury.w At the same time, he enacted new laws, by which he prohibited all his subjects from hunting in any of his forests, and rendered the penalties more severe than ever had been inflicted for such offences. The killing of a PLL v5...
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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