Ch 03 Feudal England

Additions -The Norman Conquest & Feudalism

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Additions to CHAPTER III

THE NORMAN CONQUEST 

AND FEUDALISM IN ENGLAND THE CONQUEST

The “Freemen of Domesday" were a declining class.

By 1086,those free before Conquest became “unfree” after it.
All became serfs.

The Normans introduced a rigid feudal law into England.

 

“Possessing nothing but their own bellies” with no legal rights against the lord of the manor except that they might not be killed or mutilated without a proper trial. This meant an improvement of the status of the slave but a step backward for the rest of the population. General misery for all.

 

Every trick of the lawyer was used to add to these burdens.

The village mill, for example was the lord’s and all corn must come to it to be ground.
Millers abused this and all were rogues according to medieval literature.

 

The King claimed all forests, the lord of the manor all village waste land, so no more turf or wood cutting and no pasture for the serf’s swine.
Common land that had been won, disappeared.
The Game Laws that have lain like a blight upon rural England for centuries began at this time.

However:- 

(By the Thirteenth century, economic forces began to work powerfully in another direction, transforming the serf into a free wage-labourer or a small-holder paying rent for his land instead of labour services)

 

State ; Baron ; Church

The Conqueror’s two sons, William 11 and Henry 1 continued to strengthen the power of the state.
Henry was the bright one, as he could read and write and he was responsible for a number of changes.

Administration was taken out of the hands of private individuals, making it an affair of the “State”.
A crime now was also an offence against the Kings peace for which it was the "right and duty" of the State to exact punishment.

 In earlier times, crime was only an offence against the victim or his family.

 
Trial by "Jury"  
“There’s money in Justice” the King's maxim of the time, wishing to attract cases to its own Court.

 

Henry introduced the “Exchequer” and the developed the Kings Council and Kings Bench all to collect money.

 

Out of this feudal body a permanent bureaucracy evolved to carry out the role of the King's Central Government.

 

On Henry’s death, a successor was needed, because he only left a daughter, Matilda.
Squabbling led to 20 years of war.
All the worst of feudalism, which had been suppressed, under Norman kings now had free rule.

 Hundreds of local tyrants massacred, tortured, plundered the unfortunate peasantry and chaos reigned everywhere.
“Never were martyrs tormented as these were” writes a chronicler. They were wretched times.

 

In 1153 a compromise between Crown and nobles was reached. Stephen of Blois, Henry’s nephew, would reign until his death and then Matilda’s son, Henry of Anjou was to succeed him. The next year Stephen died.

 

Henry 11 added England and Normandy to his large European domain.
He was an absolute ruler and began to break down the power acquired by the barons and nobles. Hundreds of castles were destroyed and in their place built  unfortified manor house that were the characteristic dwelling places of the upper classes in England throughout the remainder of the
“Middle Ages”

 

The State machinery which Henry 1 had set up was overhauled and extended Henry of Anjou (11) became the most powerful monarch in western Europe.

 

In 1170 part of the general purge the Inquest of Sheriffs took place. Half were dismissed and replaced by others more closely connected with the royal exchequer.

 

The King was having a problem with the Church which was becoming more powerful through Rome. The central figure in England was Thomas Becket. The son of a rich London merchant, he became Chancellor and carried out Henry’s centralizing reforms. Henry wanted to extend these and made Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Thomas had other ideas and opposed the King as vigourously as he had worked with him.
Henry had Thomas murdered and the scandal that followed forced Henry to drop plans and to allow the Church Courts to continue to deal with all criminal charges against clerics. The “benefit of clergy” went on right up to the Reformation.

 

The victory of the church was not complete, however, criminal cases, it surrendered, but not civil cases and during this period there grew the Common Law, a body of law holding good throughout the land and overriding all local laws and customs.

 

This Common Law was based in the main on the principles and practice of Anglo-Saxon Law of the pre Conquest days. It was more powerful than Roman Law which dominated Europe and so the split up to today.


THOUGHTS OF TIME Cont. 

So we see here that the power of the Crown ruled over all others. The Barons and Upper Classes tried to gain a foothold and so did the Church but it was the Crown and continued to be the Crown that held the power. Common and Church law? Should they be supported better and reinforced?

To be continued

CHAPTER III

THE NORMAN CONQUEST 

AND FEUDALISM IN ENGLANDTHE CONQUEST

The “Freemen of Domesday" were a declining class.

By 1086,those free before Conquest became “unfree” after it.
All became serfs.

The Normans introduced a rigid feudal law into England.

 

“Possessing nothing but their own bellies” with no legal rights against the lord of the manor except that they might not be killed or mutilated without a proper trial. This meant an improvement of the status of the slave but a step backward for the rest of the population. General misery for all.

 

Every trick of the lawyer was used to add to these burdens.

The village mill, for example was the lord’s and all corn must come to it to be ground.
Millers abused this and all were rogues according to medieval literature.

 

The King claimed all forests, the lord of the manor all village waste land, so no more turf or wood cutting and no pasture for the serf’s swine.
Common land that had been won, disappeared.
The Game Laws that have lain like a blight upon rural England for centuries began at this time.

However:- 

(By the Thirteenth century, economic forces began to work powerfully in another direction, transforming the serf into a free wage-labourer or a small-holder paying rent for his land instead of labour services)

 

State ; Baron ; Church

The Conqueror’s two sons, William 11 and Henry 1 continued to strengthen the power of the state.
Henry was the bright one, as he could read and write and he was responsible for a number of changes.

Administration was taken out of the hands of private individuals, making it an affair of the “State”.
A crime now was also an offence against the Kings peace for which it was the "right and duty" of the State to exact punishment.

 In earlier times, crime was only an offence against the victim or his family.

 
Trial by "Jury"  
“There’s money in Justice” the King's maxim of the time, wishing to attract cases to its own Court.

 

Henry introduced the “Exchequer” and the developed the Kings Council and Kings Bench all to collect money.

 

Out of this feudal body a permanent bureaucracy evolved to carry out the role of the King's Central Government.

 

On Henry’s death, a successor was needed, because he only left a daughter, Matilda.
Squabbling led to 20 years of war.
All the worst of feudalism, which had been suppressed, under Norman kings now had free rule.

 Hundreds of local tyrants massacred, tortured, plundered the unfortunate peasantry and chaos reigned everywhere.
“Never were martyrs tormented as these were” writes a chronicler. They were wretched times.

 

In 1153 a compromise between Crown and nobles was reached. Stephen of Blois, Henry’s nephew, would reign until his death and then Matilda’s son, Henry of Anjou was to succeed him. The next year Stephen died.

 

Henry 11 added England and Normandy to his large European domain.
He was an absolute ruler and began to break down the power acquired by the barons and nobles. Hundreds of castles were destroyed and in their place built  unfortified manor house that were the characteristic dwelling places of the upper classes in England throughout the remainder of the
“Middle Ages”

 

The State machinery which Henry 1 had set up was overhauled and extended Henry of Anjou (11) became the most powerful monarch in western Europe.

 

In 1170 part of the general purge the Inquest of Sheriffs took place. Half were dismissed and replaced by others more closely connected with the royal exchequer.

 

The King was having a problem with the Church which was becoming more powerful through Rome. The central figure in England was Thomas Becket. The son of a rich London merchant, he became Chancellor and carried out Henry’s centralizing reforms. Henry wanted to extend these and made Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Thomas had other ideas and opposed the King as vigourously as he had worked with him.
Henry had Thomas murdered and the scandal that followed forced Henry to drop plans and to allow the Church Courts to continue to deal with all criminal charges against clerics. The “benefit of clergy” went on right up to the Reformation.

 

The victory of the church was not complete, however, criminal cases, it surrendered, but not civil cases and during this period there grew the Common Law, a body of law holding good throughout the land and overriding all local laws and customs.

 

This Common Law was based in the main on the principles and practice of Anglo-Saxon Law of the pre Conquest days. It was more powerful than Roman Law which dominated Europe and so the split up to today.


THOUGHTS OF TIME Cont. 

So we see here that the power of the Crown ruled over all others. The Barons and Upper Classes tried to gain a foothold and so did the Church but it was the Crown and continued to be the Crown that held the power. Common and Church law? Should they be supported better and reinforced?

To be continued

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