William Dealtry.

The laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society online

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lived longest had the most experience, and were the guides
to others. In course of time there would be an insufficien-
cy of room, which would cause some one to start into the
wilderness. His family would increase, after awhile this man
would be the patriarch of his tribe, who would obey him
because he knew the most. His commands would be
reasonable because he loved his people. Their wealth
would be flocks, which would give them milk and fleeces.
These would require pasturage, and in changing their pas-
turage, these shepherds would come in contact with other



tribes, which would lead to a conflict. The conquered
party would be willing to be slaves for the sake of having
their lives spared. The two tribes would easily overcome
another tribe. Has the leader of the successful party a right
to adoration, or a greater share of the spoils, than the others ?
Has his posterity a right to honors and rewards forever ? A
leader of a battle is often at a distance. The leader has a
feeling of satisfaction, and this should be his only reward.
Hereditary honors, how costly they are to mankind ! The
family of England's Queen, with her own salary costs hei
nation annually 6,000,000. This enormous sum requires
hundreds of tax-gatherers to collect it. To keep the people
from revolting, a standing army of 24,000 persons are re-
quired ; these consume a fourth of the laborer's earnings.
After the war between those shepherds, was there any need
of the chief living a life of idleness, or lessening the scanty
stores of the others ?

There can be no doubt the ancient Britons were once
rude shepherds. It is commerce and being conquered that
has made England great among the nations of the earth.
The Conquest in England's history marks the line of that
which is authentic from that which is doubtful. All the
history antecedent to William the I contains much that is
marvelous and improbable. The improvements in the
arts were slow in one period, rapid in the other. What a
contrast between the two periods of time ! One is a long
night of bondage, darkness, and error, with only gleams of
social amelioration. The latter period shows what a fa-
vorable climate, and the discoveries of men of genius can

The Teutonic invaders of England did much to make
stronger those germs of art and science started by the Ro-
mans. These latter taught the Britons how to build stone


houses, to spin and weave cloth. The Anglo-Saxon insti-
tutions were analogous to all communities entering on the
early career of civilization. Such was their rudeness that
the marriage rites were not always observed. They held
in slavery two-thirds of the people. It was the introduction
of Christianity that did much to reclaim them. The code
of laws made by King Alfred show the progress of religion.
It was William the Norman that gave to us all the usages
and customs of modern society, and it may be profitable to
know something of his life.

He was the seventh Duke of Normandy. He was called
a duke from this fact; 150 years before William's time a
pirate of the name of Rolla, left his rude home on the Bal-
tic, with some followers. He took possession of a part of
France, and it was called Normandy, from the Northmen
who conquered it. The King of France could not expel
this invader. He made a compromise: Rolla should rule as
a duke if he would do homage for his dukedom. The hom-
age was, that he should kneel in the presence of all the po-
tentates and chieftains, and put his clasped hands into those
of the king, and then kiss an embroidered slipper on the
king's foot. This Rolla did not like to do. One of the no-
bility was called to do it. He lifted up the king's foot so as
to throw him off his seat. The king had been besieged in
his capital, and was too feeble to resent this insult. Another
condition of peace was that Rolla should be baptized; and
marry a daughter of the king. A long peace followed ; the
resources of the fertile country were drawn out. Wil-
liam had abundant means for his invasion of England. The
conqueror of England was not of noble blood, on the side
of his mother. Robert, the father of William, saw a girl,
the daughter of a tanner, washing clothes at a stream. He
sent for her to live at his castle. It was not customary for


dukes and peasants to marry. It is strange that those who
are the most useful should be held in contempt, while a pi-
rate's descendants, who can overrun a province and make
its people poor, are held in esteem. At the present time
excessive riches are acquired by injustice, and their possess-
ors are more regarded than those who keep men from dying
by their useful toil. The offspring of Robert and Arlotte
was William, a very beautiful boy. His father was proud of
him. At his father's death, when thirteen years of age, hom-
age and fealty was shown to him by the barons. The rea-
son of this obedience, was that the king of France might
recover again his province, which had been given up. By
being united they could keep down the common people.
Barons are often quarrelsome ; a duke or a king can do
very much toward reconciling them. A king is a judge
as well as a leader. A nice analysis of the laws of civilized
society show they favor the rich more than those who do
the hard toil. There is a sufficiency of labor done to make
every one rich. The labor is put in the wrong place. In-
equality must ever exist where the rich make the laws. If
riches were universal, crime would cease.

William's pretext for invading England was, he consid-
ered himself the legitimate successor to its crown. Ethel-
red, the Saxon king of England, married Emma, a sister of
one of the dukes of Normandy. Edward, one of her sons,
was much in Normandy, and was often in William's com-
pany. When Edward became king of England, William
paid him a visit. Edward had no children, and William,
it is said, obtained a promise from him, that he should in his
will be named as his successor.

Edward the king had a quarrel with the Earl Godwin,
which led to a cruel civil war. A compromise was made;
Godwin was to retain his rank, and the government of a


province, and he promised to dismiss his armies, and to
make war upon the king no more. He bound himself to
the faithful performance of this covenant by giving the king
hostages. Godwin gave to King Edward a son and grand-
son. Edward sent these to William for safe keeping. It
was those who were the best beloved that were given up.
A non-fulfillment of the contract subjected the hostages to
torture and death. These lived in continual fear among
their enemies. Godwin died. Harold his son asked King
Edward if he could go to Normandy for his brother and
nephew, as there was no longer any reason for detaining
them. Edward did not like to give them up, as Harold
was ambitious. Harold went over the channel ; a con-
trary wind wrecked him on the dominions of the Count of
Ponthieu, who demanded a large ransom before he was re-
leased. William received Harold with a great deal of hos-
pitality, he got up games, feasts, and military spectacles, and
gave to the followers of Harold suits of armor, presents of
horses, and banners. William went on an expedition, and
took Harold with him ; on the journey home William told
Harold that King Edward was to adopt him as his succes-
sor. Harold had designs to secure the crown for himself.
As he was the guest of William he consented to his plans.
The most solemm oaths were administered to Harold to
bind him to his word. William kept Harold's brother,
promising to bring him over when he came to England.
Harold did not consider his oath binding, as it was taken to
prevent being made a prisoner. Harold collected munitions
of war, made friends of the wealthy, and sought the favor
of the king. Edward, on his death-bed, told his nobles to
choose whom they liked for their king. Harold was made
king with much splendor. Wolves destroy in packs; they
have a leader. Nobles and wolves are alike.


William, on receiving the news that Harold was made
king, made preparations to invade England. Every baron
in his realm was bound, by the feudal conditions on which
lie held his lands, to furnish his quota of men for any en-
terprise the sovereign should see fit to engage in. The no-
bles found ships and money. On the English soil the bat-
tle of Hastings was fought. It was long and severe. Harold
with 250 of his nobles were slain. This battle made Wil-
liam king. He fortified London and reduced the island to
his sway. He confiscated the property of the nobles who
had fought against him. This conquest was the means of
introducing into England and America pernicious customs,
the evils of which it will be as difficult to convince the
people, as it will the Chinese women that it is wrong to
wear tight shoes.

Nothing could exceed the terror of the English on the
death of Harold. Stigand, the primate, made submission
to the conqueror in the name of the clergy. The nobility
made submission also to him. William accepted the crown
upon the terms that he should govern according to the cus-
toms of the country. He could have made what terms he
pleased ; though a conqueror he wished to be thought an
elected king. For this reason he was crowned at West-
minster. He took the oath that he'would observe the laws,
defend the church, and govern the kingdom with imparti-
ality. William did not find ruling very pleasant. His wife
and son Robert governed Normandy in his absence. Robert
used his influence to supplant his father. The King of
France assisted Robert, which caused William to invade
his country and burn his towns. He assaulted the town of
Mantes, and set it on fire ; while riding among the ruins his
horse stepped on some fire concealed among ashes ; the
pain made the horse to throw his rider, which caused the


death of William. Many, when they come to die, think
they can atone for a life of avarice, legal plundering, and
abstracting others' comforts, by religious charity, by sending
clothing and missionaries to Africa, or building a fine church.
Religion makes men moral and saving. Many invest their
religious savings in wild lands and corner lots, for specula-
tion, after consuming a generous portion of the gains, "an
offering to the Lord" is made to soothe the conscience of
those who know their money comes from those suffering
painful anguish of mind and bitter self-denial.

Remorse of conscience troubled William for his deeds.
He cried to God for forgiveness, and ordered the monks to
pray for him. He gave his money to the poor, and ordered
the churches that he had destroyed to be rebuilt. As soon
as William was dead, his attendants carried his arms, plate,
furniture, and dresses away. Monks came with crosses
and tapers, to pray for the repose of his soul. The body
was put in a cart to be buried in a monastery .he had built.
As the procession was moving along, a fire broke out, and
those in the procession went to put it out. The body went
on. At the grave a person forbid the burial, because the
abbey lands had been taken without paying for them. A
sum was paid for a grave. A stone coffin had been made,
it was found too small, and in trying to put the body in, the
coffin broke. The church was so offensive every body left
except the workmen, to fill up the grave.

The English historians complain, of the most grievous
oppressions of William and his Normaris. Whether by
his conduct the conqueror willingly gave the English oppor-
tunities of rebelling against him, in order to have a pretense
for oppressing them afterward, is not easy to say ; but it is
certain that the beginning of his reign can not justly be
blamed. The first disgust against his government was ex-


cited among the clergy. William could not avoid the re-
warding of those numerous adventurers, who had accom-
panied him in his expedition. He first divided the lands of
the English barons,* who had opposed him, among his
Norman barons ; but as these were found insufficient, he
quartered the rest on the rich abbeys, of which there were
many in the kingdom, until some opportunity of providing
them offered itself.

The whole nation was soon disgusted, by seeing the
real power of the kingdom placed in the hands of the Nor-
mans. He disarmed the city of London, and other places
which appeared most warlike and populous, and quartered
Norman soldiers wherever he dreaded an insurrection.
This was indeed acting as a conqueror and not as an elected
king. The king having thus secured England as he imag-
ined from any danger of revolt, determined to pay a visit
to his Norman dominions. He appointed Otho his brother,
and William Fitz Osborne as regents in his absence ; and to
secure himself yet further he took with him such of the no-
bility as he had no confidence in.

His absence produced most fatal consequences. Dis-
contents and murmurings were multiplied every-where ;
conspiracies were entered into against the government ; hos-
tilities were commenced in many places ; and every thing
seemed to threaten a speedy revolution. William of Poic-
tiers, a Norman historian, throws the blame on the English.
He calls them a fickle and mutinous race. The English

* BARON, a degree of nobility, a lord or peer, in rank below a viscount,
and above that of a knight or baronet. The barons were the feudatories of
princes, the proprietors of land held by honorable service, and members of the
parliament. Barons had courts on their domains, and were judges of the people.

VISCOUNT, an officer who supplied the place of earl or count a sheriff.

FEUDATORY, a tenant or vassal who holds lands of a superior, and owes for
the use of them military service.


historians tell us, that these governors took all the opportu-
nities of oppressing the people, either with a view of pro-
voking them to a rebellion, or, in case they submitted, to
grow rich by plundering them. A secret conspiracy was
formed among the English for a general massacre of the
Normans. The conspirators had already taken the resolu-
tion, and fixed the day for the massacre, which was to be
on Ash-Wednesday, during the time of divine service,
when the Normans were unarmed, as penitents, according
to the discipline of the times. The presence of William
disconcerted all their schemes. Some of the conspirators
consulted their safety by flight; and this served to confirm
the proofs against those who remained. From this time
the king not only lost all confidence in his English subjects,
but regarded them as inveterate and irreconcilable enemies.
He had already raised such a number of fortresses, that he
did not dread any of his discontented subjects. He deter-
mined to treat them as a conquered people. He revived
the tax of the Danegelt.* This produced insurrections.
Exeter and Cornwall revolted ; they were soon subdued, and
began to implore the conqueror's mercy. Many fled into
Scotland and other places.

The English did not fail privately, in the woods and high-
ways, to assassinate the Normans, when there was no pos-
sibility of being brought to justice. The conquerors began
to wish for security; several of them desired to be dismissed
from service. William, to prevent it, increased their boun-
ties. The consequences were fresh exactions from the
English, and new insurrections to prevent it. The county
of Northumberland, which had been most active in revolt,

DANEGELT, an ancient tax to procure money to expel the Danes, or give it
to them to leave. It was at first a shilling for every hide of land, and after-
ward seven. The Danes, when masters, levied the same tax.


suffered the most. On this occasion 100,000 persons per-
ished by sword and famine. The estates of all the English
gentry were confiscated, and given to the Normans. All
the ancient families were reduced to beggary, and the Eng-
lish excluded from preferment.

In order that William might have a hunting ground, he
created New Forest, by destroying many villages and twen-
ty-two parish churches. Manors* and chapels were de-
stroyed within a circuit of thirty miles. Blount says: "It
was attended with divers judgments on the posterity of
William one son Rufus was shot by an arrow, Richard
met the same fate. Henry, nephew of the oldest son, was
caught by the hair of the head in a tree, like Absalom."

William caused a survey of lands in thirty counties in
England. This survey was made in 1078. The reason
given for this survey is, "That every man should be satis-
fied with his own right, and not usurp with impunity what
belongs to another." All those who held lands became
vassalsf of the king, and paid him, as a fee, money, homage,
service, in proportion to the lands they held. For the ex-
ecution of this survey, commissioners were sent into every
county and shire. These were to be informed upon oath
by the inhabitants, of the name of each manor, and that of
its owner; the number of hides of land, J the quantity of
wood, pasture, and meadow lands ; how many plows in the
demesne, how many fish-ponds, and mills belonged to it;
with the value of the whole ; also whether it was capable

* MANOR, a gentleman's country house, a district bounded with stones,
from maen, a stone. This word means the house and lands of a lord for his
own subsistence, and the right to hold court-baron [a court.]

f VASSAL, a servant to a prince for the use of lands, which are cultivated by
persons in humble life, who become vassals to the lord.

J HIDE OF LAND, a quantity of land, supposed to be what one plow can do

$ DEMESNE, a manor house for the use of the family, with sufficient lands.


of improvement or being advanced in value. They were
likewise directed to return the tenants of every degree, the
quantity of lands then and formerly held by each of them,
what was the number of villains or slaves, the number and
kinds of their cattle. These inquisitions were sent to the
king's exchequer. This survey gave great offense to the
people; and occasioned a suspicion that it was intended for
some new imposition. This survey, "The Great and Lit-
tle Doomsday Book," is now in Westminster, written in
Latin, highly wrought, on vellum. A part is thus translated:

King Ijolbs JSprmunbpspg,
rafob at 12 Ijibes of tonb; on onp is a
bpinpsitp, 25 tiilletns, 33 fcorbers, a
neto rljurrlj foft| 20 erpps of rapa-
boto, anb pshragp for fi&p Ijogs."*

Dr. Stuart says : " The spirit of feudalism was national
defense and domestic independence." Feudalism is a system
so contrived that a conquering people can defend them-
selves from enemies without, and an outraged people within.
Without a knowledge of feudalism it is impossible to un-
derstand the nature of civil governments, or the laws relat-
ing to the possession of land.

* VILLAINS, were annexed to the manor, attached to the person of the lord,
and transferable to others. BORDARS, those who tilled land to supply the lord's
table, which were pieces of bords or boards. BORD-LAND was to supply the ta-
ble, or boards, with food, from which comes bordars. These letters are speci-
mens of those used to record this survey, and it reads thus : The king holds
BERMUNDESKY [in Brixistan Hundred], rated at twelve hides of land, etc.


The constitution of feuds* had its origin in the military
policy of the Goths, Franks, Vandals and Lombards, who
poured themselves in vast multitudes into all the nations of
Europe at the declension of the Roman empire. It was
brought by them from their own countries, and ccntinued
in their new colonies, as the most likely means to secure
them their new acquisitions. Large parcels of land were
allotted by the conquering general to the superior officers
of the army, and by them dealt out again to the inferior
officers, and most deserving soldiers. These allotments
were called "feoda," "feuds," "fiefs," or "fees,"f which
appellation signifies a conditional reward ; and the condition
was, that the possessor should do service faithfully, both at
home and abroad in the wars. He who received them
took an oath of fidelity to him that granted them. If this
oath was broken, the stipulated service not performed, or
the lord forsaken in battle, the rewards were to revert again
to him who granted them.

Allotments thus acquired, naturally engaged such as ac-
cepted them to defend them ; as they all sprang from the
same right of conquest, no part could subsist independent
of the whole. All givers as well as receivers were bound
to defend each others' possessions. This could not be
done in a tumultuous, irregular way, some subordination was
necessary. Every receiver of lands, was bound, when called
on to defend the same, when called upon by his benefactor,
for his feud or fee. The benefactor was under the com-
mand of the prince. Almost all the real property of Eng-
land is by the policy of the laws, granted by the superior lord
or king in consideration of certain services to be rendered
by the tenant for this property. This lord becomes a ten-

* FEUD, a quarrel between families or parties in a state, a right to lands on
certain conditions, f FEE, a loan of land, an estate in trust for services.


ant of the king or a chief tenant. This grant was called
a tenement, the manner of the possession a tenure,* and the
possessors tenants. By this reasoning all the lands in Eng-
land is supposed to be holden by the king, who is the lord
paramount. The tenures, by which the lords held their
lands, were sometimes very frivolous. One lord had a
grant of land given him for being the king's champion. His
duty was to ride armed cap-a-pie f intoWestminster Hall, and
by the proclamation of an herald, make a challenge, u That
if any man shall deny the king's title to the crown, he is
there ready to defend it at single combat." When this is
done the king sends him a gilt cup full of wine, which the
champion drinks, and keeps the cup for his fee. This
championship is in the family of Sir John Dymock, who
holds the manor of Sinvelsey, in Lincolnshire. This manor
has been held in this family since Richard II. At the coro-
nation of Charles II and George III, a person of this name
was their champion.

Some had "feofs" or grants of land for carrying the
king's banner, his sword, or holding the stirrup when mount-
ing his horse, or for being a butler; others, who lived on the
borders, for sounding a horn on the approach of an enemy.
Some had grants of lands for annual gifts of bows and
arrows. Others for gifts of ships. The greatest number
of these tenures were held for knight service. \ These
grants of land were great in proportion to the services given.

* TENURE, the manner of holding lands and tenements of a superior. All
the species of ancient tenures may be reduced to four, three of which subsist to
this day. j. Tenure by knight service, which is now abolished a. Tenures
by fealty or paying rent. 3. Tenure by copy of court roll or written deed.
4. Tenure in ancient demaip, or having improved and occupied the land.

j- CAP-A PIE, covered with armor from head to foot.

\ KNIGHT, a man admitted to military rank by imposing ceremonies. A
privilege conferred on youths of rank. In modern times a title, which is Sir.



Those who understand heraldry* can tell, from coats of
for what purposes these grants of lands were given. Her-
aldry is a kind of rude writing that tells of the deeds of the
lords in battle. It was in use before printing. Its devices
are placed on the persons, houses, and carriages, of those
who are entitled to them. The size of the grants of land
gave birth to the orders of aristocracy of various names.

The king had daily wants, these at first were no doubt
supplied by the labor of villains from his own lands, which
exceeded the lands of the nobility. The lords supplied
their wants from the labors of vassals and slaves. The
difference between the two is this : the vassal was a soldier
on foot for a limited period, frequently for forty days, or the
payment of an assessment in place of it, such as plowing the
lord's land for three days. The villain's services were base
in their nature, such as manuring the fields and making the
hedges, while the other was honorable. SirWm. Temple
speaks of them as "A sort of people in a condition of down-
right servitude, used and employed in the most servile
works, belonging, both they and their children, and also

Online LibraryWilliam DealtryThe laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society → online text (page 7 of 33)