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On the death of Edward, the English elected Harald their king; and the grandson of the herdsman Ulfnoth showed himself, say the historians, just, wise, affable, and active for the good of his country. As a general, however, he was evidently inferior to the son of Robert le Diable: had it been otherwise, his country might have had another fate. In answer to a messenger sent by William to remind him of his oath, the Saxon King replied: “It is true that I took an oath to William; but I took it under constraint. I promised what did not belong to me: a promise which I could not in any way perform. My royal authority is not my own; I could not lay it down against the will of the country; nor can I, against the will of the country, take a foreign wife ?” -A noble and memorable answer! Peace be with the ashes of the herdsman's valiant grandson king ! If he erred, he expiated his errors by forfeiting all that man can forfeit. He died like a brave man, fighting valiantly to the last, though in vain, for his lost country. It is an old story now. More than seven hundred years have passed away since the men who then acted and suffered, ceased to breathe; since their hearts ceased to beat with pride or with agony. . But in what was then done and suffered, may still be heard a voice of warning to the present inhabitants of that soil where even the dust of those men's mouldered remains is no longer to be traced.

147

CHAPTER VIII.

“ THE CHEAP DEFENCE OF NATIONS." THE

ANCIENT ENGLISH NATIONAL DEFENCES.

The warning voice to which I have referred at the close of the last chapter, was not lost upon William of Normandy; who possessed, in an ample degree, the two essential qualities of great men, expressed in the word “statesman-soldier;"* and who, to the character of an able military leader, united that of a cold, hard, far-sighted statesman. He, therefore, adopted the measures which appeared best calculated to prevent any foreign enemy from ever again finding the invasion of England the successful enterprise which it had proved to him and his followers. It may be admitted that he had acquired a very competent knowledge of the danger to be provided against, and the experience of six hundred years bears testimony to the wisdom of the provisions he devised against that danger.

The feudal law was at that time the prevailing law of Europe. The part of that law which concerns us at present was, that those who hold the land of a country are bound to defend that country with their own swords, and not to employ the swords of mercenaries. One consequence of this was, that while the sword was in the hands of those military tenants, their country was secure against foreign invasion. Another consequence was, that they themselves were secure against unlimited power and oppression on the part of their chief or suzerain. Thus when, in process of time, the sword fell out of the hands of those barons, or military tenants, and the princes were allowed to raise armies of mercenaries to do the work formerly done by the barons, the princes became absolute throughout the greater part of Europe, and the barons lost their power, and even their liberty. In order to secure England against any future attempts from its warlike neighbours, the most obvious plan was to place the country on an equal footing with its neighbours in regard to the system of military tenures. The LII.* Law of William I. forms the foundation of the

* οίτινες αμφότερα αν δύνωνται, και πολιτεύεσθαι και στρατηγείν. -Isocrat. ad Philipp.

system by which this was accomplished.

In accordance with the law introduced by William, all the lands in the kingdom were divided into what were called knights' fees, in number above sixty thousand; and for every knight's fee a knight, or soldier (miles) was bound to attend the king in his wars with horse and arms for forty days in a year, according to Blackstone* and other authorities ; f or, as there is reason to believe, for a longer time. By this means the kingdom was always provided with an army of upwards of sixty thousand men-at-arms: that is, horsemen, well mounted and armed. That this was the express condition on which they held their lands, appears from one of the laws of William (c. 58), which enacts “ quod habeant et teneant se semper in armis et equis, ut decet et oportet: et quod semper sint prompti et parati ad servitium suum integrum nobis explendum et peragendum, cum opus adfuerit, secundum quod debent de feodis et tenementis suis de jure nobis facere."

* See the Law in Wright's Tenures, p. 65.

I have said that there is reason to think that, though both Sir William Blackstone and Sir Martin Wright have stated that the time of service was limited to forty days in every year, the time was not so limited. Blackstone $ cites as his authority for this statement “ Writ for this purpose in Memorand. Scacch. 36, prefixed to Maynard's Year Book, Edw. II.” On turning to this writ we do not find any mention whatever of the time being forty days. Blackstone further says, “ If he held only half a knight's fee, he was only bound to attend twenty days, and so in proportion;" and for this he cites * i Bl. Com. 410; 2 Bl. Com. 62. † Wright's Tenures, p. 140.

I 2 Bl. Com. 62.

law of Europe. The part of that law which concerns us at present was, that those who hold the land of a country are bound to defend that country with their own swords, and not to employ the swords of mercenaries. One consequence of this was, that while the sword was in the hands of those military tenants, their country was secure against foreign invasion. Another consequence was, that they themselves were secure against unlimited power and oppression on the part of their chief or suzerain. Thus when, in process of time, the sword fell out of the hands of those barons, or military tenants, and the princes were allowed to raise armies of mercenaries to do the work formerly done by the barons, the princes became absolute throughout the greater part of Europe, and the barons lost their power, and even their liberty. In order to secure England against any future attempts from its warlike neighbours, the most obvious plan was to place the country on an equal footing with its neighbours in regard to the system of military tenures. The LII.* Law of William I. forms the foundation of the

system by which this was accomplished.

In accordance with the law introduced by William, all the lands in the kingdom were divided into what were called knights' fees, in number above sixty thousand; and for every knight's fee a knight, or

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