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tion still subsisting, though with limitation to the blood
royal. Primogeniture prevailed ; but the rule of suc-
cession was still unsettled ; necessity would have the
man rather than the woman or the boy ; nor was the will
of the last sovereign without its influence. The church,
in crowning the king with religious forms, hallowed mon-
archy, and at the same time pledged it to duty. Of the
divinity which afterwards hedged a king there was as yet
but little, yet his majesty was revered, and loyalty to his
person was felt. The offices of his household, those of
the steward, the chamberlain, the master of the horse,
which a Roman under the Empire would have spurned
as servile, the Norman noble held with pride. The chief
officer of the monarchy was the Justiciar, whose name
shows that he represented the king as the dispenser of
justice, and who in the king's absence was regent of the

Thrice in the year, at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun-
tide, at Westminster, Winchester, and Gloucester, the king
kept high state, wore his crown, gathered round him the


barons, his tenants-in-chief, who formed the Great Council
of his realm, took their advice on the affairs of his gov-
ernment, and with them dispensed high justice, of which
the House of Lords is still nominally the supreme tri-
bunal. Legislation, in our sense of the term, as yet was
not. The sole law was the custom of the realm. Beyond
this there were only ordinances or decrees. The degree
in Avhich the advice of the assembly prevailed would de-
pend upon the personal character of the king.

Besides the common council of the realm meeting thrice
in the year, the king must always have had a standing
council, consisting of his ministers of state, the great
officers of his household, and other objects of his personal
confidence, for administration and justice. This was the
Curia Regis. It was the germ out of which both the sev-
eral courts of law and the departments of government
were in course of time to be developed.

No mean part of the king's prerogative was his lordship
of the royal forests, where he was really as well as legally
absolute and his will made the cruel forest law. In the
intervals of war the chase was the vent for the Norman's
energies and his relief from the dull solitude of the castle.
The modern squire seeks relief from the dulness of his
country house in the pursuit of game, and the modern
game law is the relic of that which guarded the Norman's
chace. William laid waste a vast tract in Hampshire,
destroying hamlet and church, to make him a hunting-
ground. The struggle against the extension of royal
forests and of forest law will be no small part of the
battle of constitutional freedom.

It was in his character as supreme landlord that Will- 1085
iam caused to be made a survey and terrier of his king-


dom, the famous Doomsday Book, in which are minutely
set down the holdings, dues, and condition of all the
people. Doomsday Book reveals the general disposses-
sion of the English proprietary and intrusion of the
Norman, under forms, however, of legal succession or
acquisition beneath which confiscation is veiled. By the
people the survey was regarded with horror as the
precursor of a more searching taxation. William loved
money as the engine of power, and drew a revenue,
which though overstated by fabling chroniclers, was no
doubt very large for those days. But the survey was
also important as a step towards centralized government.

Between Norman and Englishman no legal line was
drawn, no Englishman's land was confiscated on the
ground of his race, nor to the Norman was any special
privilege accorded except that of his trial by battle,
while the Englishman kept his trial by ordeal.. The ex-
istence of different race customs under the same govern-
ment was in those times not unfamiliar. Saxon and Dane
had their different tribal customs under Alfred. Law in
primitive times was personal or tribal, not territorial.
There was no legal impediment to intermarriage. A
niece of the Conqueror was married to the Saxon
Waltheof. Saxon landowners who retained their land
apparently retained their general position. William
steadily adhered to the fiction that he was the lawful
successor of Edward the Confessor, and that the English
as well as the Normans were his people. He had won
England not for the Normans but for himself.

The aristocracy was territorial and military ; military
as created by conquest, as holding its estates by military
tenure, and as forming a class dedicated to arms. Fiefs,


in their original conception beneficiary and granted for
life, had become property subject to a relief on each
demise together with other feudal rights and dues re-
served for the grantor, as well as to the duty of service
in war. They could not be alienated, but went entire to
the eldest son or other heir, so that they were practically
entailed, and formed, like the entailed estates of the
present peerage, an enduring basis for the order. Each
baron was a sovereign in his own manors, compelled the
attendance of the serfs at his court, and governed them
by his edicts, justice and police going with lordship,
where the royal power in the king's person or that of
his deputy did not intervene. Chivalry and knighthood
with their class code of generosity and courtesy were
confined to the military aristocracy. Afterwards, further
to mark the distinction, armorial bearings come in. At
first the sentiment of birth can hardly have been pre-
dominant, since adventurers had borne a part in the
conquest. Private war, the evil privilege of feudal
nobility, in which tlie Norman nobles rioted, was in Eng-
land repressed by the king when his hand was strong.
This was perhaps his greatest boon.

All tenants-in-chief were barons, a name of which the
origin is uncertain ; but the meaning probably is " man "
of the king ; a free man, perhaps, in contrast to the
serf. Above the barons were the earls, territorial dig-
nitaries with local command and revenues from their
earldoms. Of these the Conqueror's policy created few,
at least when rebellion had broken out among the

It has been said that the conquest was no breach of
political continuity. The Conqueror did not mean to


uproot the institutions of his new kingdom, least of all
those which were favourable to royal power. That he
should introduce Norman institutions and laws was impos-
sible, since Normandy had neither institutions nor laws.
The Norman council may be called a continuation of
the witan, though its legal powers, if it could be said
to have any, were less than those of the witan had

The local organizations, shire, hundred, tithing, and
burgh, with their assemblies, remained. The shire, or
county, was still an effective district of administration
and justice, though the name of the shire was changed to
county, and that of the shire-reeve to viscount. It was
destined to grow in importance, to be the unit of local
organization, the local sphere of public activity, and at
last the basis of electoral government. A great suit
between the Archbishop of Canterbury and another prel-
ate was decided in the Conqueror's reign by the county
court on Pennenden Heath. Submerged, in part, for the
present by the flood of conquest, the English system of
local self-government was destined, when the flood sub-
sided, to reappear. The continuation of these local
organs of political life was the most valuable part of the
heritage bequeathed by Alfred's England to that of later
times. The national fyrd, or militia, was left in existence
beside the feudal force, and to it when feudalism mu-
tinied the kings were led to appeal. The shire with its
sheriff or viscount appointed by the crown still formed
the rudiment of a centralized government. But land
held of the crown by a military tenure was the central
idea of the Norman polity ; whereas the English polity
had been national, however decayed. In a return from


the basis of military tenure to a national basis constitu-
tional progress will in a great measure consist.

At this time the Norman manor must have been every-
where the predominant mould of local life. The manors
of a great lord being scattered over the kingdom were
commonly managed and ruled for him by his steward,
who exacted of the villain tenant his quota of forced
labour on the lord's domain with such petty tributes in
kind as were required by the rule of his holding. In
return for this the peasant had his hut and his lot, with
the privilege of pasture on the common of the manor,
a relic of the tribal ownership of land in primitive times
which has lasted down to our own day. The parish
was commonly identical with the manor, and the parson
shared authority with the steward.

The revolution extended to the church. The English
primate Stigand and almost all the English bishops and
abbots were, on various pretences, Rome conspiring,
ejected, and Normans were installed in their room.
Papal legates appeared in England, were received by
William as gods, and inaugurated drastic reforms in the
high church sense, which was the sense of William as
well as of Rome. To a great extent, Hildebrand's will
was done. A sharp line was now drawn between church
and state ; the church was henceforth to deal with mat-
ters ecclesiastical in her own assemblies apart from the
council of the nation. She was to have her separate
jurisdiction over spiritual persons and in spiritual causes.
The bishop was no longer to sit with the sheriff in the
shire court. That division was made between the tem-
poral and the spiritual power, each with its own sword,
from which were presently to flow antagonism and bitter


conflict. The arrears of Peter's pence were paid ; celi-
bacy was enjoined on the priesthood; everything was
reformed on the high church model, so far as the rough
English character would pet-mit. Hildebrand demanded
more. He called on William to do homage for his kingdom
in token that he held it as a fief of the Holy See, again
showing how far was the papacy from being purely a
spiritual power. But the time for this had not yet come,
nor was William tlie man. The kings before him, Will-
iam said, had done no homage, nor would he. Instead of
doing homage, he laid down rules which became prin-
ciples of the English monarchy ; that no pope should be
accepted in England till he had been recognized by the
king ; that no papal missive or legate should be received
without the king's permission ; that nothing should be
enacted at any synod without his consent ; that without
his knowledge no tenant-in-chief should be excommuni-
cated and thereby debarred from the service of his lord.
Norman kings appointed the bishops under the form of
election by compliant chapters, much as the crown now
appoints under the form of a conge cfelire. Only the
Archbishop of Canterbury, being obliged to receive the
mystical pall or tippet from Rome, owed his appointment
so far to the pope, and represented before the crown the
papal power. William, when a lord bishop guilty of
a breach of feudal fealty pleaded his ecclesiastical im-
munity from secular law, showed that he understood the
distinction between the spiritual and the temporal by
arresting the feudatory with his own hand. There
remained, however, the ineffaceable fact that papal
authority had been admitted when its sanction had been
sought for the conquest, while by severance of the


church, with its tribunals and assemblies, from the state,
the king ceased to be, what the kings before the conquest
had been, head of the church as well as of the state.
As a necessary consequence came a separate church law
with the appellate jurisdiction of the papacy in its train.

Not as ecclesiastics but as magnates and landowners
the archbishops, bishops, and mitred abbots, lords spir-
itual as they were afterwards called, sat with the lay
barons in the great council of the realm, of which by
their number and intellectual superiority they formed a
most important part, thus giving power to the ecclesias-
tical interest, but at the same time identifying it with
the state.

In the character and learning of their high ecclesiastics,
imported if not native, the Normans were superior to the
English. The king did well for the English church and
for himself at the same time by choosing as his minister
in ecclesiastical aifairs and his general adviser Lanfranc,
prior of Bee. Though prior of a Norman abbey, Lan-
franc was not a Norman, but an Italian, a scion of the
church at large, and thus fitted to act as a mediator
between races, with a mind liberalized by learning.
He looked down upon the English, but did not hate
them, identified himself with his new field of action,
upheld the rights of the English church, made the best
order that he knew, revived sy nodical life, promoted
church-building and art. He enhanced the grandeur and
influence of bishoprics by transferring them from villages
to cities. He was a good specimen of the men whom the
church could give to the state. Papal he was, of course,
but he must have concurred with William in limiting
papal claims. Whatever Lanfranc might do, however,

VOL. I вАФ ^3


the spiritual shepherds of the English after the conquest,
foreigners in race and language, would, in the eyes of
the people, be foreign wolves. A Norman abbot, having
quarrelled with, his English monks, brings archers into
the church to shoot them down.

England was a member, now more thoroughly than
ever a member, of the religious confederation of Latin
Christendom, the language of which henceforth was
that of her church and generally that of her men of
letters, ousting the vernacular English for many a day
from literature and the service of religion. With the
rest of that confederation, she was falling under the
autocracy of the pope. The see of the Imperial city,
surviving the Roman Empire, became, amidst the chaos
of barbarian invasion that ensued, the natural centre or
rallying-point of the Latin church; legend, which as-
scribed its foundation to the prince of the apostles,
helping to establish vits primacy. Its primacy, even its
supremacy, might be useful when the pope was Gregory
the Great, who declined as impious a title importing
universal sway. But with Hildebrand opened an era
of papal ambition, aiming at lordship not only over the
whole church, but virtually over the state, on the ground
that the spiritual was above the temporal, as though
that warranted a claim on the part of the spiritual to
the kingdom of this world. Papal dominion was sup-
ported in each country by the clerical order, whose privi-
leges, however unreasonable, it upheld, and was extended
by appeals to superstition, as well as by playing on the
fears and rivalries of monarchs, while the papal councils,
unlike those of other governments, never changed and
were guided with an address above that of the rude kings


and nobles of the time. The papacy was fast becoming
an empire, triple-crowned, of ecclesiastical ambition, en-
croaching on the domain and warring against the rights
of national governments ; and, though it sometimes lent
a sinister support to patriotism, its political influence will
be found, as we proceed, to have been as a rule upon
the other side. Usurpation, indeed, could hardly be a
blessing, especially when it had to be sustained by in-
trigue, forgery, and lies. The Hildebrandic papacy was
in its very essence intolerant and persecuting ; the enemy,
therefore, of truth, of science, of progress, and of the
highest civilization. It had in it from the beginning
the extermination of the Albigenses, the persecution in
the Netherlands, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the
Inquisition, the imprisonment of Galileo, the murder of
Giordano Bruno. Its latest utterance, the Encyclical, 1864
still avows its tendencies and designs. It could never
pretend even to universality, for, calling itself universal,
it has always been Italian.

The church had wandered far from the hillsides of
Galilee, on which peasant crowds listened to the simple
words of life and love. It had become dogmatic, sacra-
mental, ceremonial, thaumaturgic, sacerdotal, hierarchical,
papal. It had framed for itself a body of casuistry and
a penitential tariff of sin. It had set up the confessional
and the influence which to the confessional belongs. It
had invented purgatory and masses for the dead. It had
imbibed into its own veins not a little of the polytheism
which it slew, worshipping the Virgin and the Saints,
adoring relics, practishig pilgrimage. It had borrowed
from the East asceticism and set up the ascetic ideal.
It had adopted clerical celibacy, severing the clergy from


the commonwealth and the home. It had become intol-
erant and persecuting. Instead of subsisting by the
freewill offerings of the faithful, as in its early days, it
subsisted by compulsory tithes, using the arm of force to
collect them. By receiving grants from feudal princes,
it had been incorporated into the feudal system, and its
chief pastors had become feudal lords, sometimes feudal
soldiers, often ministers and courtiers of the powers of
the feudal world. To strike the balance of its spiritual
merits against its spiritual demerits with due allowance
for the needs of a coarse and violent age would be
extremely difficult, and is not our present object. It is
with political action only that we have here to do.
Politically the church did service, though by no means
unequivocal, in curbing, by the assertion of its privileges,
the despotic power of monarchs. It did service, though
in a way injurious to its own spiritual essence, by fur-
nishing to the rude councils of military kings and barons
statesmen comparatively educated, comparatively large-
minded, and comparatively studious of peace. It did
a service still more gracious by opening, in an age of
feudal aristocracy, the paths of preferment to the poor
and low-born, whom it raised through its orders to high
places, both ecclesiastical and secular ; though in this
good work it had a partner in municipal privilege,
which sheltered the fugitive serf and admitted him to
the fellowship of industry and trade. Against these
political merits are to be set disorders arising from
clerical privilege, which will presently be seen. The
church fostered such literature as there was and gener-
ally the arts of peace, including that ecclesiastical archi-
tecture which by its grandeur ^tA noetry impresses and


enthrals us still. On the other hand, by her dogmatic
intolerance she crippled thought and fatally barred the
advance of science. She gave us the Chronicles and
the School Philosophy ; she extinguished the lamp of
Roger Bacon. A supreme tribunal of morality, social
and intellectual, with a chancery of public law, was
indeed a magnificent idea. But for its fulfilment it
required such presidents as hardly any of the popes
were, such detachment from temporal interests and am-
bition as never was shown by Rome. What the pure
spirit of Christianity, working through, apart from, or
against the ecclesiastical organization, may have done
for the moral and social character, is a different

The wail of the English nation made itself heard at
Rome. It touched, we are told, the hearts of some
cardinals. But it smote in vain on the stony heart of
Hildebrand. Guitmond, a Norman monk, who had
crossed the sea at William's bidding, refused to stay
in the conquered land and share its benefices, saying
that God hates robbery for burnt-offering, and asking
with what face he, one of an order whose profession
it was to forsake the world, coilld share spoils won
by war and bloodshed. He trembled, ^ he said, as he
looked on England lying before him one vast prey, and
shrank from the touch of its wealth as from a burning
fire. The Norman Gulbert of Hugleville had loyally
followed his lord across the sea and fought well under
his standard. Having seen William firmly settled on
the throne, he went back to his Norman home, prefer-
ring his modest heritage there to wealth won by rapine.
We can thus gauge the morality of the papacy as re-


presented by the most famous of popes, and determine
its worth as the moral regulator of Christendom.

The monarchy, the aristocracy, the church in its polit-
ical aspect, will for some time be the three pieces on
the political board. By their interaction and collision,
at first almost blind, the rudimentary constitution will
be formed.

The towns are still very weak. They are little better
than collections of wooden and thatched huts. Some of
them had been shattered by the conquest. Over them
frowned the Norman keeps; over London frowned the
Norman Tower. London is a considerable place of
trade ; it shows military force ; and in the distraction
which followed the battle of Hastings it for a moment
led the nation. But it seems to have had no regular
government of its own, though it probably had the
rudiment of a municipality in the form of a guild. It
was through its bishop and its port-reeve that it re-
ceived from the Conqueror the grant of a brief charter,
or assurance of liberties. Of the other chief cities,
York, the old Roman capital of the north, Winchester,
Gloucester, and Bristol, not one can have exceeded the
present measure of a petty town. The towns generally
were mere clusters of houses, without municipal govern-
ment, in bondage to the crown or the lord on whose
manor they were, and liable to be tallaged or taxed by
him not less than the rural serfs.

Pending the emancipation of the cities and the labourer,
the aristocracy and the church, struggling for their own
privileges, play in some measure the part of provisional
champions and guardians of liberty.

As to the labourer, centuries must elapse before he


appears at all on the political field. Villainage or serf-
dom is his common lot, and the opprobrious meaning
associated with the name of villain shows that the lot was
despised. The villain was bound to the soil, and could
be sold with it ; though he could not be sold apart from
it like a slave. The chattel slave, it has been conjectured,
gained by elevation to villainage while the peasant or
yeoman was degraded to it. Political rights the villain
had none. In shire-mote or hundred-mote he was unre-
presented. Personal rights he had against all men except
his lord. Such was his social status. His industrial
emancipation was in the end to be accomplished by legal
decisions which recognized his customary right to his hold-
ing by the tenure of fixed services and dues. Political
emancipation in time followed.

William was a strong ruler, and a strong ruler was a
good ruler in those times. This the English chronicler
admits, regarding him rather with awe than with hatred.
He had strict notions of law, though he could wrest it to
his will, and the forms which he respected were to become
substance at a later day. He wished even to be merciful,
and thought to show mercy by mutilating instead of put-
ting to death.

Scarcely had he quelled the English when his struggles
with Norman turbulence began. At a fatal marriage
feast a rebellion against him was hatched by some of his
chief nobles and insurrection broke out. He quelled the 1076
insurrection and put to death Waltheof, the last English
magnate, who had at first been drawn into the conspiracy
but had afterwards revealed it in confession, an incident
which suggests that the Norman confessional may have
served the purpose of detective police. William had given



Waltheof his niece Judith in marriage, a proof that he
wished to draw to him the English nobility. But Judith,
it seems, resented the marriage as one of disparagement,
and used her influence against her husband. Then Will-
iam's half brother, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who had
blessed the Norman army at Hastings, fired by conquest,
conceived a wild scheme of taking a body of William's
liegemen away with him to Rome to carry the papacy by
1078- storm. Finally came a struggle of the Conqueror with a
cabal of his restless feudatories in Normandy, headed by
his own son Robert and backed by his jealous suzerain

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