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Unformatted text preview: of fiefs, to the chiefs; these made a new partition among their retainers; the express condition of all these grants was, that they might be resumed at pleasure, and that the possessor, so long as he enjoyed them, should still remain in readiness to take the field for the defence of the nation. And though the conquerors immediately separated, in order to enjoy their new acquisitions, their martial disposition made them readily fulfil the terms of their engagement: They assembled on the first alarm; their habitual attachment to the chieftain made them willingly submit to his command; and thus a regular military force, though concealed, was always ready, to defend, on any emergence, the interest and honour of the community. We are not to imagine, that all the conquered lands were seized by the northern conquerors; or that the whole of the land thus seized was subjected to those military services. This supposition is confuted by the history of all the nations on the continent. Even the idea, given us of the German manners by the Roman historian, may convince us, that that bold people would never have been content with so precarious a subsistence, or have fought to procure establishments, which were only to continue during the good pleasure of their sovereign. Though the northern chieftains accepted of lands, which, being considered as a kind of military pay, might be resumed at the will of the king or general; they also took possession of estates, which, being hereditary and independant, enabled them to maintain their native liberty, and support, without court-favour, the honour of their rank and family. But there is a great difference, in the consequences, between the Progress of the feudal distribution of a pecuniary subsistence, and the assignment of law. lands burthened with the condition of military service. The delivery of the former, at the weekly, monthly, or annual terms of payment, still recalls the idea of a voluntary gratuity from the prince, and reminds the soldier of the precarious tenure by which he holds his commission. But the attachment, naturally formed with a fixed portion of land, gradually begets the idea of something like property, and makes the possessor forget his dependant situation, and the condition which was at first annexed to the grant. It seemed equitable, that one who had cultivated and sowed a field, should reap the harvest: Hence fiefs, which were at first entirely precarious, were soon made annual. A man, who had employed his money in building, planting, or other improvements, expected to reap the fruits of his labour or expence: Hence they were next granted during a term of years. It would be thought PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 309 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 hard to expel a man from his possessions, who had always done his duty, and performed the conditions on which he originally received them: Hence the chieftains, in a subsequent period, thought themselves entitled to demand the...
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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