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Unformatted text preview: ld hold his tongue about Henry Pinel’s wife.t There are in the records of exchequer many other singular instances of a like nature.u It will however be just to remark, that the same ridiculous practices and dangerous abuses prevailed in Normandy, and probably in all the other states of Europe.w England was not in this respect more barbarous than its neighbours. These iniquitous practices of the Norman kings were so well known, that, on the death of Hugh Bigod, in the reign of Henry II. the best and most just of these princes, the eldest son and the widow of this nobleman came to court, and strove, by offering large presents to the king, each of them to acquire possession of that rich inheritance. The king was so equitable as to order the cause to be tried by the great council! But, in the mean time, he seized all the money and treasure of the deceased.x Peter of Blois, a judicious, and even an elegant writer for that age, gives a pathetic description of the venality of justice and the oppressions of the poor, under the reign of Henry: And he scruples not to complain to the king himself of these abuses.y We may judge what the case would be under the government of worse princes. The articles of enquiry concerning the conduct of sheriffs, which Henry promulgated in 1170, show the great power as well as the licentiousness of these officers.z Amerciaments or fines for crimes and trespasses were another considerable branch of the royal revenue.a Most crimes were atoned for by money; the fines imposed were not limited by any rule or statute; and frequently occasioned the total ruin of the person, even for the slightest trespasses. The forest-laws, particularly, were a great source of oppression. The king possessed sixty-eight forests, thirteen chaces, and seven hundred and eighty-one parks, in different parts of England;b and considering the extreme passion of the English and Normans for hunting, these were so many snares laid for the people, by which they were allured into trespasses, and brought within the reach of arbitrary and rigorous laws, which the king had thought proper to enact by his own authority. But the most barefaced acts of tyranny and oppression were practised against the Jews, who were entirely out of the protection of law, were extremely odious from the bigotry of the people, and were abandoned to the immeasurable rapacity of the king and his ministers. Besides many other indignities, to which they were continually exposed, it appears, that they were once all thrown into prison, and the sum of 66,000 PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 324 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 marks exacted for their liberty:c At another time, Isaac the Jew paid alone 5100 marks;d Brun, 3000 marks;e Jurnet, 2000; Bennet, 500: At another, Licorica, widow of David, the Jew of Oxford, was required to pay 6000 marks; and she was delivered over to six of the richest and discreetest Jews in England, who were to answer for the sum.f Henry III. borrowed 5000 marks from the earl of Cornwal; and for his repayment consigned over to him all the Jews in England.g The revenue arising from exactions upon this nation was so considerable, that there was a particular court of exchequer set apart for managing it.h We may judge concerning the low state of commerce among the Commerce. English, when the Jews, notwithstanding these oppressions, could still find their account in trading among them,...
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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