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Unformatted text preview: ural good sense preserved itself untainted both from the pedantry and superstition, which were then so prevalent among men of letters. His temper was susceptible of the sentiments as well of friendship as of resentment;z and his ambition, though high, might be deemed moderate and reasonable, had not his conduct towards his brother and nephew showed that he was too much disposed to sacrifice to it all the maxims of justice and equity. But the total incapacity of Robert for government afforded his younger brother a reason or pretence for seizing the scepter both of England and Normandy; and when violence and usurpation are once begun, necessity obliges a prince to continue in the same criminal course, and engages him in measures, which his better judgment and sounder principles would otherwise have induced him to reject with warmth and indignation. King Henry was much addicted to women; and historians mention no less than seven illegitimate sons and six daughters born to him.a Hunting was also one of his favourite amusements; and he exercised great rigour against those who encroached on the royal forests, which were augmented during his reign,b though their number and extent were already too great. To kill a stag was as criminal as to murder a man: He made all the dogs be mutilated, which were kept on the borders of his forest: And he sometimes deprived his subjects of the liberty of hunting on their own lands, or even cutting their own woods. In other respects, he executed justice, and that with rigour; the best maxim which a prince in that age could follow. Stealing was first made capital in this reign:c False coining, which was then a very common crime, and by which the money had been extremely debased, was severely punished by Henry.d Near fifty criminals of this kind were at one time hanged or mutilated; and though these punishments seem to have been exercised in a manner somewhat arbitrary, they were grateful to the people, more attentive to present advantages, than jealous of general laws. There is a code, which passes under the name of Henry I. but the best antiquaries have agreed to think it spurious. It is however a very ancient compilation, and may be useful to instruct us in the manners and customs of the times. We learn from it, that a great distinction was then made between the English and Normans, much to the advantage of the latter.e The deadly feuds and the liberty of private revenge, which had been avowed by the Saxon laws, were still continued, and were not yet wholly illegal.f Among the laws, granted on the king’s accession, it is remarkable that the re-union of the civil and ecclesiastical courts, as in the Saxon times, was enacted. g But this law, like the articles of his charter, remained without effect, probably from the opposition of archbishop Anselm. Henry, on his accession, granted a charter to London, which seems to have been the first step towards rendering that city a corporation. By this charter, the city was empowered to keep the farm of Middlesex at three hundred pounds a year, to elect its own sheriff and justiciary and to hold pleas of the crown; and it was exempted from Scot, Danegelt, tr...
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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