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Unformatted text preview: f felonies, or of crimes by which forfeiture was incurred: We have said enough to prove, that the possession of feudal property was anciently somewhat precarious, and that the primary idea was never lost, of its being a kind of fee or benefice. When a baron died, the king immediately took possession of the estate; and the heir, before he recovered his right, was obliged to make application to the crown, and desire that he might be admitted to do homage for his land, and pay a composition to the king. This composition was not at first fixed by law, at least by practice: The king was often exorbitant in his demands, and kept possession of the land till they were complied with. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 321 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 If the heir were a minor, the king retained the whole profit of the estate till his majority; and might grant what sum he thought proper for the education and maintenance of the young baron. This practice was also founded on the notion, that a fief was a benefice, and that, while the heir could not perform his military services, the revenue devolved to the superior, who employed another in his stead. It is obvious, that a great proportion of the landed property must, by means of this device, be continually in the hands of the prince, and that all the noble families were thereby held in perpetual dependance. When the king granted the wardship of a rich heir to any one, he had the opportunity of enriching a favourite or minister: If he sold it, he thereby levied a considerable sum of money. Simon de Mountfort paid Henry III. 10,000 marks, an immense sum in those days, for the wardship of Gilbert de Umfreville.d Geoffrey de Mandeville payed to the same prince the sum of 20,000 marks, that he might marry Isabel countess of Gloucester, and possess all her lands and knights fees. This sum would be equivalent to 300,000, perhaps 400,000 pounds in our time.e If the heir were a female, the king was entitled to offer her any husband of her rank he thought proper; and if she refused him, she forfeited her land. Even a male heir could not marry without the royal consent, and it was usual for men to pay large sums for the liberty of making their own choice in marriage.f No man could dispose of his land, either by sale or will, without the consent of his superior. The possessor was never considered as full proprietor: He was still a kind of beneficiary; and could not oblige his superior to accept of any vassal, that was not agreeable to him. Fines, amerciaments, and oblatas, as they were called, were another considerable branch of the royal power and revenue. The ancient records of the exchequer, which are still preserved, give surprizing accounts of the numerous fines and amerciaments levied in those days,g and of the strange inventions fallen upon to exact money from the subject. It appears, that the ancient kings of England put themselves entirely on the foot of the barbarous eastern prin...
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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