Unformatted text preview: be deemed subjects to the crown, imitated that dangerous example: They annexed to their oaths of allegiance this condition, that they were only bound so long as the king defended the ecclesiastical liberties, and supported the discipline of the church.x The barons, in return for their submission, exacted terms still more destructive of public peace, as well as of royal authority: Many of them required the right of fortifying their castles, and of putting themselves in a posture of defence; and the king found himself totally unable to refuse his consent to this exorbitant demand.y All England was immediately filled with those fortresses which the noblemen garrisoned either with their vassals, or with licentious soldiers, who flocked to them from all quarters. Unbounded rapine was exercised upon the people for the maintenance of these troops; and private animosities, which had with difficulty been restrained by law, now breaking out without controul, rendered England a scene of uninterrupted violence and devastation. Wars between the nobles were carried on with the utmost fury in every quarter; the barons even assumed the right of coining money, and of exercising, without appeal, every act of jurisdiction;z and the inferior gentry, as well as the people, finding no defence from the laws, during this total dissolution of sovereign authority, were obliged, for their immediate safety, to pay court to some neighbouring chieftain, and to purchase his protection both by submitting to his exactions, and by assisting him in his rapine upon others. The erection of one castle proved the immediate cause of building many others; and even those who obtained not the king’s permission, thought that they were entitled, by the great principle of self-preservation, to put themselves on an equal footing with their neighbours, who commonly were also their enemies and rivals. The aristocratical power, which is usually so oppressive in the feudal governments, had now risen to its utmost height, during the reign of a prince, who, though endowed with vigour and abilities, had usurped the throne without the pretence of a title, and who was necessitated to tolerate in others the same violence, to which he himself had been beholden for his sovereignty. But Stephen was not of a disposition to submit long to these usurpations, without making some effort for the recovery of royal authority. Finding that the legal prerogatives of the crown were resisted and abridged, he was also tempted to make his power the sole measure of his conduct; and to violate all those concessions, which he himself had made on his accession,a as well as the ancient privileges of his subjects. The mercenary soldiers, who chiefly supported his authority, having exhausted the royal treasure, subsisted by depredations; and every place was filled with the best grounded complaints against the government. The earl of Glocester, having now settled with his friends the plan of an insurrection, 1137. retired beyond sea, sent the king a defiance, solemnly renounced PLL v5 (generated Janu...
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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