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Unformatted text preview: re equally put to sale. He had the power, with the king’s consent, to exact talliages even from the freecitizens who lived within his barony; and as his necessities made him rapacious, his authority was usually found to be more oppressive and tyrannical than that of the sovereign.m He was ever engaged in hereditary or personal animosities or confederacies with his neighbours, and often gave protection to all desperate adventurers and criminals, who could be useful in serving his violent purposes. He was able alone, in times of tranquillity, to obstruct the execution of justice within his territories; and by combining with a few malcontent barons of high rank and power, he could throw the state into convulsions. And on the whole, though the royal authority was confined within bounds, and often within very narrow ones, yet the check was irregular, and frequently the source of great disorders; nor was it derived from the liberty of the people, but from the military power of many petty tyrants, who were equally dangerous to the prince and oppressive to the subject. The power of the church was another rampart against royal The church. authority; but this defence was also the cause of many mischiefs and inconveniencies. The dignified clergy, perhaps, were not so prone to immediate violence as the barons; but as they pretended to a total independance on the state, and could always cover themselves with the appearances of religion, they proved, in one respect, an obstruction to the settlement of the kingdom, and to the regular execution of the laws. The policy of the conqueror was in this particular liable to some exception. He augmented the superstitious veneration for Rome, to which that age was so much inclined; and he broke those bands of connexion, which, in the Saxon times, had preserved an union between the lay and the clerical orders. He prohibited the bishops from sitting in the county-courts; he allowed ecclesiastical causes to be tried in spiritual courts only;n and he so much exalted the power of the clergy, that of 60,215 knights fees, into which he divided England, he placed no less than 28,015 under the church.o The right of primogeniture was introduced with the feudal law: Civil laws. An institution, which is hurtful by producing and maintaining an unequal division of private property; but is advantageous, in another respect, by accustoming the people to a preference in favour of the eldest son, and thereby preventing a partition or disputed succession in the monarchy. The Normans introduced the use of sirnames, which tend to preserve the knowledge of families and pedigrees. They abolished none of the old absurd methods of trial, by the cross or ordeal; and they added a new absurdity, the trial by single combat,p which became a regular part of jurisprudence, and was conducted with all the order, method, devotion, and solemnity imaginable.q The ideas of chivalry also seem to have been imported by the Normans: No traces of those fantastic notions are to be found among the plain and rustic Saxons. The feudal instituti...
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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