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Unformatted text preview: ssemble the vassals, in order to determine by their vote any question which regarded the barony; and they sat along with the chief in all trials, whether civil or criminal, which occurred within the limits of their jurisdiction. They were bound to pay suit and service at the court of their baron; and as their tenure was military, and consequently honourable, they were admitted into his society, and partook of his friendship. Thus, a kingdom was considered only as a great barony, and a barony as a small kingdom. The barons were peers to each other in the national council, and, in some degree, companions to the king: The vassals were peers to each other in the court of barony, and companions to their baron.u But though this resemblance so far took place, the vassals, by the natural course of things, universally, in the feudal constitutions, fell into a greater subordination under the baron, than the baron himself under his sovereign; and these governments had a necessary and infallible tendency to augment the power of the nobles. The great chief, residing in his country-seat, which he was commonly allowed to fortify, lost, in a great measure, his connexion or acquaintance with the prince; and added every day new force to his authority over the vassals of the barony. They received from him education in all military exercises: His hospitality invited them to live and enjoy society in his hall: Their leisure, which was great, made them perpetual retainers on his person, and partakers of his country sports and amusements: They had no means PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 312 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 of gratifying their ambition but by making a figure in his train: His favour and countenance was their greatest honour: His displeasure exposed them to contempt and ignominy: And they felt every moment the necessity of his protection, both in the controversies which occurred with other vassals, and what was more material, in the daily inroads and injuries which were committed by the neighbouring barons. During the time of general war, the sovereign, who marched at the head of his armies, and was the great protector of the state, always acquired some accession to his authority, which he lost during the intervals of peace and tranquillity: But the loose police, incident to the feudal constitutions, maintained a perpetual, though secret hostility, between the several members of the state; and the vassals found no means of securing themselves against the injuries, to which they were continually exposed, but by closely adhering to their chief, and falling into a submissive dependance upon him. If the feudal government was so little favourable to the true liberty even of the military vassal, it was still more destructive of the independance and security of the other members of the state, or what in a proper sense we call the people. A great part of them were serfs, and lived in a state of absolute slavery or villainage: The other inhabitants of the country paid their rent...
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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