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Unformatted text preview: cite, that nothing but the zeal of party could ever have procured credit to any contrary hypothesis. It was probably the example of the French barons, which first emboldened the English to require greater independance from their sovereign: It is also probable, that the boroughs and corporations of England were established in imitation of those of France. It may, therefore, be proposed as no unlikely conjecture, that both the chief privileges of the peers in England and the liberty of the commons were originally the growth of that foreign country. In ancient times, men were little solicitous to obtain a place in the legislative assemblies; and rather regarded their attendance as a burden, which was not compensated by any return of profit or honour, proportionate to the trouble and expence. The only reason for instituting those public councils, was; on the part of the subject, that they desired some security from the attempts of arbitrary power; and on the part of the sovereign, that he despaired of governing men of such independant spirits without their own consent and concurrence. But the commons, or the inhabitants of boroughs, had not as yet reached such a degree of consideration, as to desire security against their prince, or to imagine, that, even if they were assembled in a representative body, they had power or rank sufficient to enforce it. The only protection, which they aspired to, was against the immediate violence and injustice of their fellow-citizens; and this advantage each of them looked for, from the courts of PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 317 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 justice, or from the authority of some great lord, to whom, by law or his own choice, he was attached. On the other hand, the sovereign was sufficiently assured of obedience in the whole community, if he procured the concurrence of the nobles; nor had he reason to apprehend, that any order of the state could resist his and their united authority. The military sub-vassals could entertain no idea of opposing both their prince and their superiors: The burgesses and tradesmen could much less aspire to such a thought: And thus, even if history were silent on the head, we have reason to conclude, from the known situation of society during those ages, that the commons were never admitted as members of the legislative body. The executive power of the Anglo-Norman government was lodged in the king. Besides the stated meetings of the national council at the three great festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide,p he was accustomed, on any sudden exigence, to summon them together. He could at his pleasure command the attendance of his barons and their vassals, in which consisted the military force of the kingdom; and could employ them, during forty days, either in resisting a foreign enemy, or reducing his rebellious subjects. And what was of great importance, the whole judicial power was ultimately in his hands, and was exercised by officers and ministers of his appointment. The general plan of the Anglo-Norman government was, that the Judicial power. court of barony was appointed to decide such controversies as arose between the several vassals or subjects of the...
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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