history of england_david hume

There is only a clause in a law of king athelstans

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Unformatted text preview: d edit. Gibs. Verstegan, p. 173. [i]Gul. Gemet. lib. 7. cap. 34. [k]Ordericus Vitalis, p. 501. [l]Higden, p. 285. Order. Vitalis, p. 500. Matth. Paris, edit. Parisis anno 1644. p. 2. [m]Higden, p. 286. [n]W. Malm. p. 101. DeGest. Angl. p. 332. [o]H. Hunt. p. 363. Brompton, p. 959. Gul. Pict. p. 201. [p]Gul. Pict. 201. Order Vital. p. 501. [q]W. Malm. p. 101. Higden, p. 286. Matth. West. p. 223. Du Gange’s Glossary in verbo Cantilena Rolandi. [r]We know of one change, not inconsiderable in the Saxon constitution. The Saxon Annals, p. 49. inform us, that it was in early times the prerogative of the king to name the dukes, earls, aldermen and sheriffs of the counties. Asser, a contemporary writer, informs us, that Alfred deposed all the ignorant aldermen, and appointed men of more capacity in their place: Yet the laws of Edward the Confessor, § 35. say expressly, that the heretoghs or dukes, and the sheriffs were chosen by the freeholders in the folkmote, a county court, which was assembled once a-year, and where all the freeholders swore allegiance to the king. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 346 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 [s]Sometimes abbesses were admitted; at least, they often sign the king’s charters or grants. Spellm. Gloss. in verbo parliamentum. [t]Wilkins passim. [NOTE [G]]It appears from the ancient translations of the Saxon annals and laws, and from king Alfred’s translation of Bede, as well as from all the ancient historians, that comes in Latin, alderman in Saxon, and earl in Dano-Saxon were quite synonimous. There is only a clause in a law of king Athelstan’s, (see Spelm. Conc. p. 406.) which has stumbled some antiquaries, and has made them imagine that an earl was superior to an alderman. The weregild or the price of an earl’s blood is there fixed at 15,000 thrimsas, equal to that of an archbishop; whereas that of a bishop and alderman is only 8000 thrimsas. To solve this difficulty we must have recourse to Selden’s conjecture, (see his Titles of Honour, chap. v. p. 603, 604) that the term of earl was in the age of Athelstan just beginning to be in use in England, and stood at that time for the atheling or prince of the blood, heir to the crown. This he confirms by a law of Canute, § 55. where an atheling and an archbishop are put upon the same footing. In another law of the same Athelstan the weregild of the prince or atheling is said to be 15,000 thrimsas. See Wilkins, p. 71. He is therefore the same who is called earl in the former law. [u]Brady’s treatise of English boroughs, p. 3, 4, 5, & c. [w]There is some reason to think, that the bishops were sometimes chosen by the Wittenagemot, and confirmed by the king. Eddius, cap. 2. The abbots in the monasteries of royal foundation were anciently named by the king; though Edgar gave the monks the election, and only reserved to himself the ratification. This destination was afterwards frequently violated; and the abbots as well as bishops were afterwards all appointed by the king; as we learn from Ingulf, a writer contemporary to the c...
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