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as lie had promised, the purity of the coin. Coiners he
ruthlessly punished. If he did not so well fulfil his
promise not to keep bishoprics or abbeys vacant, he
might plead that the ecclesiastical fief paid no reliefs,
afforded no wardships or marriages, could never be for-
feited, and was bound in some way to contribute to
the necessities of the crown. The comparative blessings
of the Lion's rule will be seen by contrast with what

The monarchy assumes a more regular form and de-
velops its machinery of administration. The standing
council, or Curia Regis, unfolds its administrative and
fiscal organs. This is due to the constructive genius of
Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the justiciar. Roger, it was
said, had first commended himself to the king by the
speed with which he said mass. Taken into the royal
service he became the statesman of the day and organ-
ized the Exchequer, at once a ministry of finance and a
court of fiscal justice. The name was derived from the
chequered covering of the table at which the barons of
the Exchequer sat. The Exchequer, as well as the Curia
Regis, was composed of barons, and the justiciar presided
over both. The judicial power remained in the Curia
Regis. A further step in the regular organization of
the monarchy was the despatch from time to time of
royal commissioners over the realm, both for fiscal pur-
poses and for those of justice, an institution which will
ripen hereafter under another great king. Roger of
Salisbury founded an administrative house. His nephew
Nigel was treasurer, his bastard son Roger was chancel-
lor, and they preserved his official system.


Under a strong and peaceful government, trade spread
its sail, the less timidly as both sides of the Channel were
in Henry's hands. The germs of industry were fostered,
the life of the towns grew.

By the treaty between the brothers Henry and Rob-
ert, Normandy had been happily severed from Eng-
land. Unhappily they were united again. Normandy,
under the misrule of the losel Robert, fell into feudal
anarchy. Normans who wished for the restoration of
order stretched their hands to Henry ; especially did
the clergy, who needed order most, and with whom
Henry, in spite of his quarrel with Anselm and his
numerous bastards, had preserved his religious reputa-
tion. Moreover, the connection between the Norman
nobles in the two countries still subsisting, in Normandy
gathered the 'feudal storms which broke over England.
There Bellesme had found a new lair. Henry came and
1106 conquered. At the battle of Tinchebrai, Hastings was
avenged in the overthrow of a Norman army by an army
which came from England and was partly English. The
continental province gained, but the island kingdom must
have lost by the division of the king's energies and care.
Robert fell into his brother's hands, and the great cru-
sader wore out the rest of his life in confinement. Not
even the pope's intercession could open his prison door.
That he was living in the utmost comfort his brother
unctuously assured the world., The relation of England
and Normandy as the conquering and the conquered
country was now reversed, and the king of England was
mighty among kings.

To bequeath his greatness to his one legitimate son,
William, was Henry's care. All know the story of the


White Ship, how she went down at the Caterage with the 1120
heir on board, and how, no one daring to tell the king, a
page, throwing himself at Henry's feet, mutely broke the
news, after which, as the story was, Henry never smiled
again. The web of policy had to be woven once more in
favour of the king's one daughter, Matilda, the widow of
the Emperor Henry V., remarried, little to her impe-
rial liking, to the Count of Anjou. No woman had yet
reigned ; no woman could perform the duties of a Nor-
man king. Legitimacy and the idea of a proprietary
right to the crown had been gaining on the principle of
election ; but they had not yet got so far as this. The
Lion might have known that oaths sAvorn in his dread
presence to a female succession would be unsworn when
he was gone.

Born 1094; Succeeded 1135; Died 1154

Accordingl}^, when a surfeit of lampreys had rather in- 1135
gloriously sent the great king to a tomb in the grand
abbey of his foundation, the barons under casuistical
forms furnished by the bishops broke faith with the
dead. Setting Matilda aside, they gave the crown to
Stephen, Count of Blois, who put it on with the usual
promises of good government and redress of all griev-
ances. He was the favourite of the baronage ; he was
supported by his brother, Henry, Bishop of Winchester
and papal legate, the political head of the English
church ; London, now growing populous and powerful,
acclaimed the choice. Stephen was a gallant knight and
a popular man ; but as a ruler he was weak. At his
accession he had allowed his brother the legate to draw


him into too grateful a recognition of the support of the
church, and even of the sinister approval of his election
by the pope. To win popularity lie lavishly created earl-
doms, which it had been the policy of the Conqueror to
grant no more, and squandered everything else he had to
give. At first he showed vigour in dealing with baronial
turbulence, but presently the reins which it had tasked
the force of the Conqueror and of Henry to hold began
to slip from his hands. His nineteen years have been
divided into three periods, miserable in different degrees ;
the first of dissolution ; the second of civil war ; the third
of exhaustion and comparative peace. In the first there
are local revolts. Tempted probably by English troubles,

1136 the king of Scots invades England with a motley host of
savages, drawn from the different races of his realm, who
commit their usual atrocities ; but he is met and defeated
by the Normans combined with Englishmen led from each
parish by their priests under the consecrated standards of
local English saints.

Stephen brought on the crash by attacking the church,
which in this case at least was not identical with religion.
Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the great statesman of the
late reign and founder of the Exchequer, in serving the
realm had also provided well for himself and for his own.
He and his two nephews, Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln,
and Nigel, Bishop of Ely, had amassed great treasures
and built castles, the wonder of the age, where they kept
a large retinue of soldiers. Having reason, it seems,
to suspect that they \^ere intriguing against him with
Matilda and in favour of her son, the grandson of their
patron, Stephen by a sudden onslaught seized upon two

1138 of them and compelled all three to surrender to him their


castles and their treasures. Castles and garrisons were
hardly spiritual, but they were ecclesiastical, and at this
outrage on the sacred order the church was in a flame.
The papal legate, Henry of Winchester, turned against
his brother. The king appears to have been so far for-
getful of his dignity as, when arraigned, to appear by
deputy before a synod and undergo its sentence. His
self-abasement availed him little.

Matilda now landed in England with her bastard half- 1139
brother, Robert of Gloucester, an able leader, at her side.
Then followed nine years of what can hardly be dignified
with the name of civil or dynastic war. Government
ceased to exist ; baronial anarchy broke loose. The
country was covered with castles built by robber barons,
who forced the wretched people to work on them and
filled them Avith Flemish, Breton, and Welsh mercenaries,
justly, no doubt, designated by the English chronicler as
devils. In these dens, if the chronicler speaks truth,
those who had anything of which they could be robbed
were imprisoned and tortured. They were hung up by
their feet in the smoke of a fire, suspended by their
thumbs while a fire was applied to their feet, thrust into
dungeons full of snakes and toads, crushed in chests full
of sharp stones. Tight cords were twisted round their
heads, sharp collars were fastened about their necks so
that they could neither sit nor lie. Many were starved
to death. One brigand exposed his prisoners, smeared
with honey, to the stings of insects. The husbandman
fled the fields, the people died of ^hunger, towns were
deserted on the approach of the man-at-arms. Notting- 1140,
ham was burned to the ground and the people carried
off captive. The Monk of Worcester has described to us



1149 the sacking of his town by a party from Gloucester ; the
alarm at the enemy's approach; the prayers offered to
the patron saints; the goods of the citizens hastily car-
ried into the church, which is crowded with chests and
sacks, so that there is scarcely room for the priests ; the
chants of the choir mingled with the cries of infants;
the high altar stripped of its ornaments, the crucifix, the
image of Mary taken away ; the rich garments of the
priests hidden lest they should be seized by the spoilers ;
the arrival of the enemy with horse and foot ; the priests
in their albs bearing forth in suppliant procession, while
the bells toll, the relics of the patron saint ; the strug-
gle, the storming, the pillage, and the burning ; the peo-
ple driven off into captivity, coupled together like hounds,
on a bitter winter's day ; then the infliction of the same
horrors on Gloucester in its turn. The need of a king
and of the king's peace is shown in a lurid light. Once
more we are called upon to do homage to the Norman
genius for political organization.

Meantime the two parties carried on a chaotic and in-
decisive war. At last Stephen was defeated in a battle

1141 at Lincoln and taken prisoner. Matilda entered London
in triumph ; but her imperial haughtiness turned the
scale against her ; and the citizens, rising at the sound
of their tocsin, expelled her from the city. Their fidelity
to the cause of their king, and the spirit which they
showed in the expulsion of Matilda, somewhat redeem
the scene. Now the balance of war turns again in favour
of the royalists ; Robert of Gloucester is taken prisoner ;

1141 Stephen is set free. Henry of Winchester, the ecclesias-
tical kingmaker, comes over again to his brother's side.
At last exhaustion, coupled with the mediation of the


church in the person of Theobald Archbishop of Canter-
bury brings peace. The death of Eustace, Stephen's son, 1153
opens the way for a treaty giving the crown to Stephen
for his life, and after his death to Henry, the son of
Matilda. The principle of election is once more set
aside by a dynastic treaty.

It is remarkable that, as we are told, no period was
more prolific than the reign of Stephen in monastic and
religious foundations. The church alone amidst the
chaos seems to have remained something like a power
of order. Remorse, perhaps, occasionally followed crime,
and by the endowment of religious houses gave back to
what was then civilization some portion of the fruits of


Born 1133; Succeeded 1154; Died 1189

A FTER the anarchy of Stephen the land groaned
for a strong rule. But in Henry II., surnamed
Plantagenet, and founder of that line, we welcome a
power not only of order, but of progress. Nothing
marks the change of institutions more clearly than the
contrast between him and our kings who reign and do
not govern. This child of destiny was but twenty-one.
He was strongly built, and, we are told, of royal aspect,
although, it seems, of rather a coarse mould, with a red-
dish complexion, and a large bullet head ; grey eyes,
bloodshot, which flashed with anger ; a fiery counte-
nance, a tremulous voice, a neck a little bent forward,
and muscular arms. So a contemporary paints him.
His tendency to corpulence was kept down by spare
diet and constant exercise. His activity was preter-
natural and wore out his attendants. It made him
ubiquitous, and ubiquity, in an age before centralized
government, was a good quality in a king. His hasty
meal over, he was at once on foot again. He could
not help talking about business even during Mass.
Hunting was his rest from serious affairs and war.
Next to the chase he loved books, for he had been well



educated, and his memory was strong. His energy and
capacity as a ruler are felt at this hour. But out of him,
as out of the other men of his time, the savage had not
yet been worked. He was liable to fits of rage, in which
his eyes became bloodshot and his tongue raved, in Avhich
he flung himself on the floor and bit the rushes with
which it was strewn ; in which he could commit acts of
cruelty, such as mutilating a score of hostages. Nor
was he free from the cunning of a savage. Among his
ancestresses of the line of Anjou there was supposed to
have been a fiend.

He had good use for his omnipresent activity. By
birth, treaty, or marriage, Henry was lord not only*of
England, with the subsequent addition of Ireland, but
of Normandy, Maine, Anjou, Aquitaine, and presently of
Brittany. His realm extended from the Cheviots to the
Pyrenees. He was a greater power in France than the
king of France himself, though by the strange usage of
feudalism he was there the French king's vassal. He
was lord in fact of an Angevin empire, the seat of which,
if it had one, was Chinon, and its mausoleum Fontevraud.
His influence in Europe was almost paramount. But in
England only was he the king. Only on England has
he left his mark. He would perhaps have left on her
too deep a mark had his energetic love of power been
brought to bear on her alone.

Henry's first care was to raze the illicit castles and rid 1155
the country of mercenary bands. Many of the castles
were probably little more than stockades. Some were
strong and sustained sieges which Henry conducted in
person. The work on the whole seems to have been
done with surprising ease, considering that at this time,


to the advantage of feudal mutiny, the defence was
superior to the attack, so that a siege became commonly
a blockade. Some wild spirits may have been taken off
by the crusades. Having reduced the last strongholds
of anarchy, seen the back of the last of the robber bands,
and resumed the estates of the crown, which the weak-
ness of Stephen had given away, Henry, now master of
his realm, entered on a course of reform and organiza-
tion. He took his grandfather for his model and out-
stripped him. For the policy of making a national
monarchy supreme over the baronage he had a clearer
field than Henry I. After the series of suppressed rebel-
lions under the first three kings and the civil war under
Stephen little of the aristocracy of the conquest was left.
Little or nothing was now left even of the distinction
between the races. They were being rapidly blended by
intermarriage. Presentment of Englishry in cases of
murder had become a dead letter, or a mere pretext for
levying on the district one of the fines which formed no
small source of the royal revenue. If Norman-French
was still spoken by the ruling class while English was
spoken by the people, this was more a matter of rank
and fashion than of race. Many must have spoken both
languages, while the neutral Latin was the language of
the church, law, and the state.

What the razings of baronial castles and the expul-
sions of baronial mercenaries had begun was carried for-
ward by the military policy of the king. His Assize,
1181 or edict, of Arms, reorganizing the old fyrd, or national
militia, and bidding every freeman provide himself with,
a coat of mail, helmet, shield, and lance, placed at his
disposal a force independent of feudal tenure or com-


mand. Availing himself of the unwillingness of the
barons, now settled in their English homes, to serve on
an expedition to Toulouse, he introduced the payment llo9
of scutage, or shield money, in place of the feudal ser-
vice, thus lowering the military spirit of the barons at the
same time that he gained the means of taking into his
pay regular soldiers, Bretons or Flemings, whose only
law was that of the camp, and who served without limit
of time. The plan of service by delegation, three
knights clubbing to send one, which was also intro-
duced by Henry, would tend in the same direction.
Only once, however, and at a mortal crisis, did the king
bring his mercenaries to England.

The administrative system of Henry I., which had
been wrecked by the civil war, was restored and im-
proved. Nigel, Bishop of Ely, nephew of Roger, Bishop
of Salisbury, the great minister of Henry I., became
treasurer of the exchequer, which office passed from him
to his son "Richard, Bishop of London, who wrote a
famous treatise on the organization and work of the
department. Centralization, depression of the feudal
aristocracy, and government through the devoted ser-
vants of the crown, are leading features of the policy.
The justiciars, however, of this reign, regents during
the king's long absences, are not churchmen like Flambard
or Roger of Salisbury, but laymen, Ranulph De Glan-
ville and Richard De Lucy. A life of faithful service
had earned for De Lucy the name of "the loyal" when
he went into a monastery of his own founding to give
his remaining days to God. Not all the servants of the
crown were loyal like De Lucy. In those days, as now
in Turkey and in Russia, official corruption was almost a


matter of course ; and in passing judgment on the policy
of a king we must bear in mind not only the character
of the matter with which he had to deal, but that of the
instruments with which he had to work.

To carry royal justice through the realm and maintain
the king's peace as well as to enforce the proprietary
rights and fiscal dues of the crown, Henry I. had occa-
sionally sent out itinerant justices, the barons of his
court, like the Missi of Charlemagne, over the realm.
His grandson made the institution regular and perma-
nent. When the royal justices went their rounds, the
shires were required to present to them the local offenders
with the evidence of the crime. Local delegates, twelve
in number, presented on their own sworn evidence. This
was the first stage. When the jury were ill informed
of the facts, further evidence was called in. Those who
gave it became in the end the witnesses, the original
jury of presentment becoming judges of the fact upon
the evidence of the witnesses, while the' royal judge
laid down the law. Such is the historical origin of trial
by jury, the mythical origin of which is depicted in
the frescoes of the House of Commons. The steps by
which the institution reached its perfect form the legal
antiquary must explain. Traces of its original character
may be found in the grand jury which still presents
prisoners for trial, and perhaps in the coercion which
was long applied under arbitrary kings to jurymen who
failed to find verdicts for the crown, as if they had still
been responsible presenters of the fact.

The political importance of an institution which places
personal liberties under the shield of a popular court was
hardly less than its judicial importance. In spite of


grave imperfections and notwithstanding tyrannical in-
terference, it long made England an oasis of public justice
in a Europe of dark and arbitrary tribunals. Jury trial
was necessarily open, and it precluded 'the use of the
rack, which was never legal in England, though privily
introduced by usurping power. It also played no un-
important part in the political education of the people.
Its germs were in all the rude popular tribunals of primi-
tive times. But it took form under the first Plantagenet.
It has now gone the round of the civilized world.

By the circulation of royal justice that of the feudal
manor court and of the shire and hundred courts under
the local influence of feudal lords was thrown into the
shade, while the shire and the hundred were brought into
closer and more active union with the crown.

Legislation, in the proper sense of the term, there has
hardly yet been. The custom of the realm has been
declared by the general council of barons in such a case
as that of Anselm. Otherwise there have been only
edicls of the king. For redress of grievances the people
have looked, not to remedial legislation, but to the
charter put forth by the king at his accession. By royal
favour, not by legislative enactment, franchises have been
granted. But it is difficult to distinguish the constitu-
tions and assizes framed by Henry II. with the advice of
the general council from declaratory acts of parliament
or statutes. The king apparently listens to the advice of
the council and relies on its support. So far there is
progress towards a constitution.

The Assize of Clarendon regulating criminal law and 1164
procedure is a landmark in legal history. The ordeal
was an appeal to heaven by man's primitive incapacity


for weighing evidence. The day for its abolition was
not yet come, though the church, to her credit, con-
demned it. But by the assize of Clarendon its operation
is restricted, and the man who has passed it, if otherwise
convict, is compelled to abjure the realm. By another
assize in cases of title to estate or advowsons option is
given of a rational trial by sworn recognition in place of
wager of battle. The judicial combat was retained in cases
of honour or chivalry, as they were called, and in cases
of treason. An islet on the Thames near Reading formed
1163 the lists in which Henry of Essex, constable and stand-
ard-bearer, accused of betraying the standard of the
king in the Welsh war, met his accuser, Robert De
-Montfort, in judicial combat, and, being vanquished,
found shelter in the neighbouring abbey, where he
assumed the cowl.

The creation of earldoms, territorial commands with a
local revenue attached, discountenanced by the prudence
of William, renewed on a large scale by the lavishness
of Stephen, had once more ceased, and earls had become
rare. The chief local offices, financial, administrative,
and military, were now the shrievalties, which were prob-
ably in the hands of the great local feudatories, with a
tendency to hereditary succession. This stronghold of
feudalism also the royal reformer invaded. Twenty
sheriffs were dismissed at once, ostensibly for malversa-
tion. Of malversation as well as of extortion, it is likely
enough that in those rude and predatory times they were
guilty. But the king's chief motive probably was his
desire of transferring the government of the shire from
the local feudatory to more trustworthy and controllable
hands. The necessity of perfecting the official organiza-


tion would be enhanced by the long absences of Henry
from England.

Hitherto custom, tribal or feudal, has reigned. Now
the spirit of law is abroad, and the science of jurispru-
dence is born again. Roman law is once more studied,
and by its scientific method takes hold of the higher
minds. It gives birth to a profession, and opens to
those learned in it a career of wealth and power. It
forms the model for those who are building up the canon
law of the church, which again is emulated by the civil
^ jurist. A teacher of it had appeared in England under
Stephen, but had been silenced by political jealousy or
by fear of ecclesiastical encroachment. The feudal law-
yers, however, though they would not allow their customs
to be ousted by Roman principles, bowed to the scientific
method of the Roman law, and helped themselves freely
to its philosophic store. In the treatise ascribed to
Ranulph De Glanville, a justiciar of Henry II., an at-
tempt is made to give something like Roman regularity
to the rude heap of feudal or national customs. The
author is the patriarch of the common law.

The epoch is memorable in which, from the will of a
king whose power has no limit but revolt, and whose very
excellence is dangerous to freedom, a community passes
under the reign of law. The study of law, at once
practical and philosophic, stimulates intellect, and the pro-
fession which is formed, however liable to pedantry and
chicane, is on the whole a guardian of right, both public
and private, under a free government ; while even such
a despotism as that of the Tudors or the Bourbons is in
some measure limited and tempered by the authority of
written law.


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