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Unformatted text preview: held those privileges, either mediately or immediately, of him; and their property was conceived to be, in some degree, conditional.t The land was still apprehended to be a species of benefice, which was the original conception of a feudal property; and the vassal owed, in return for it, stated services to his baron, as the baron himself did for his land to the crown. The vassal was obliged to defend his baron in war; and the baron, at the head of his vassals, was bound to fight in defence of the king and kingdom. But besides these military services, which were casual, there were others imposed of a civil nature, which were more constant and durable. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 311 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 The northern nations had no idea, that any man, trained up to honour, and enured to arms, was ever to be governed, without his own consent, by the absolute will of another; or that the administration of justice was ever to be exercised by the private opinion of any one magistrate, without the concurrence of some other persons, whose interest might induce them to check his arbitrary and iniquitous decisions. The king, therefore, when he found it necessary to demand any service of his barons or chief tenants, beyond what was due by their tenures, was obliged to assemble them, in order to obtain their consent: And when it was necessary to determine any controversy, which might arise among the barons themselves, the question must be discussed in their presence, and be decided according to their opinion or advice. In these two circumstances of consent and advice, consisted chiefly the civil services of the ancient barons; and these implied all the considerable incidents of government. In one view, the barons regarded this attendance as their principal privilege; in another, as a grievous burden. That no momentous affairs could be transacted without their consent and advice, was in general esteemed the great security of their possessions and dignities: But as they reaped no immediate profit from their attendance at court, and were exposed to great inconvenience and charge by an absence from their own estates, every one was glad to exempt himself from each particular exertion of this power; and was pleased both that the call for that duty should seldom return upon him, and that others should undergo the burden in his stead. The king, on the other hand, was usually anxious, for several reasons, that the assembly of the barons should be full at every stated or casual meeting: This attendance was the chief badge of their subordination to his crown, and drew them from that independance which they were apt to affect in their own castles and manors; and where the meeting was thin or ill attended, its determinations had less authority, and commanded not so ready an obedience from the whole community. The case was the same with the barons in their courts as with the king in the supreme council of the nation. It was requisite to a...
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- Spring '08