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Unformatted text preview: m from the encroachments of their barons. They were generals of a conquering army, which was obliged to continue in a military posture, and to maintain great subordination under their leader, in order to secure themselves from the revolt of the numerous natives, whom they had bereaved of all their properties and privileges. But though this circumstance supported the authority of William and his immediate successors, and rendered them extremely absolute, it was lost as soon as the Norman barons began to incorporate with the nation, to acquire a security in their possessions, and to fix their influence over their vassals, tenants, and slaves. And the immense fortunes, which the Conqueror had bestowed on his chief captains, served to support their independance, and make them formidable to the sovereign. He gave, for instance, to Hugh de Abrincis, his sister’s son, the whole county of Chester, which he erected into a palatinate, and rendered by his grant almost independant of the crown.w Robert, earl of Mortaigne had 973 manors and lordships: Allan, earl of Britanny and Richmond, 442: Odo, bishop of Baieux, 439:x Geoffrey, bishop of Coutance, 280:y Walter Giffard, earl of Buckingham, 107: William, earl Warrenne, 298, besides 28 towns or hamlets in Yorkshire: Todenei, 81: Roger Bigod, 123: Robert, earl of Eu, 119: Roger Mortimer, 132, besides several hamlets: Robert de Stafford, 130: Walter de Eurus, earl of Salisbury, 46: Geoffrey de Mandeville, 118: Richard deClare, 171: Hugh de Beauchamp, 47: Baldwin de Ridvers, 164: Henry de Ferrers, 222: William de Percy, 119:z Norman d’Arcy, 33.a Sir Henry Spelman computes, that, in the large county of Norfolk, there were not, in the Conqueror’s time, above sixty-six proprietors of land.b Men, possessed of such princely revenues and jurisdictions, could not long be retained in the rank of subjects. The great earl Warrenne, in a subsequent reign, when he was questioned concerning his right to the lands which he possessed, drew his sword, which he produced as his title; adding, that William the Bastard did not conquer the kingdom himself; but that the barons, and his ancestor among the rest, were joint adventurers in the enterprize.c The supreme legislative power of England was lodged in the The feudal king and great council, or what was afterwards called the parliament. parliament. It is not doubted but the archbishops, bishops, and most considerable abbots were constituent members of this council. They sat by a double title: By prescription, as having always possessed that privilege, through the whole Saxon period, from the first establishment of Christianity; and by their right of baronage, as holding of the king in capite by military service. These two titles of the PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 314 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 prelates were never accurately distinguished. When the usurpations of the church had risen to such a height, as to make the bishops affect a separate dominion, and regard their seat in parliament as a degradation of their episcopal dignity; the king insisted, that they were barons, and, on t...
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- Spring '08