Page images


BOOK church lands were not exempt from this general obligation

of military service. We find a person mentioned as a witness, who was “ the leader of the army of the same bishop to the

king's service.”? Egelwin, prior of a monastery, gave to a miles the villa of Crohlea for life, on the condition that he should serve for the monastery in the expeditions by sea and land.*

There are many grants of lands to monasteries in which the military service is expressly reserved. It is almost always spoken of as a general, known, and established thing. It is mentioned in Domesday-book, of the burgh of Lideford, in Devonshire, that when an expedition is on foot, either by land or sea, the burg has to render the same amount of service as should be required from Totness.

Of Totness it is said, that when expeditions are enjoined, as much service is to be rendered from Totness, Barnstaple, and Lideford, as from Exeter; and Exeter was to serve as for five hides of land.

It is from Domesday-book that we may collect the most precise information on this curious topic. It is said of Berkshire, that, “if the king should send an army any where,

only one soldier should go for five hides; and for his “ victuals and pay, every hide was to give him four shillings “ for two months. This money was not to be sent to the

king, but to be given to the soldiers.”6

Of the city of Oxford it is said, that when the king should go on an expedition, twenty burghers should go with him for all the others, or that twenty-pounds should be paid, that all might be free.'

This curious article shews, that the military service might be commuted by a pecuniary mulct.

In Worcestershire it is declared, that “ when the king

• Domesday-book, con. Berockescire.

[merged small][ocr errors]

7 Ibid. Oxenefordscire.


goes against the enemy, if any one, after summoned by CHAP. “ his mandate, should remain, he should (if he was a freeman

having his sac, and able to go where he pleased) forfeit all “ his land at the pleasure of the king." But if he was a freeman under another lord, his lord should carry another man for him, and the offender should pay his lord forty shillings. But if no one at all went for him, he was to pay his lord that sum, who was to be answerable for as much to the king.'

On these expeditions it was the privilege of the men serving for Herefordshire, that they should form the advanced guard in the progress, and the rear guard in a retreat.

From Leicester twelve burghers were to go with the king when he went with an army by land. If the expedition was maritime, they were to send him four horses from the same burg, as far as London, to carry their arms and necessaries."

The custom of Warwick was, that ten burghers should go on the expedition for the rest. Whoever did not


after his summons, forfeited to the king one hundred shillings. When the king went by sea against his enemies, this burg was to send him four batsueins, or four pounds of pennies."

The fyrde, or expedition, is mentioned so early as in the laws of Ina. If a sith-cund man owning land abstained from the fyrde, he was to pay one hundred and twenty shillings, and lose his land. If he is not a land-owner, he was to pay sixty shillings, and a ceorl sixty shillings, for the fyrde mulct." In the laws of Ethelred the fyrde is ordered to take place as often as there be need, and the scyp-fyrdrunga, or naval expedition, was directed to be so diligently prepared as to be ready every year soon after Easter. It is added, that if

any depart from the fyrde where the king himself is, both his life and goods should be the forfeit; if he, in any other case quitted it, he was fined one hundred and twenty shillings."

* Domesday-book, Wirecestrescire. 9 Ibid. com. Herefordscire.

10 Ibid. Ledecestrescire. Vol. II.

" Ibid. Warwicscire.
1* Wilk. Leg. Sax. p. 23.
1 Ibid. p. 109.




In one of the grants it is mentioned, that a land-owner had lost his rus of ten cassatos, because he had rebelled with the king's soldiers in his expedition, and had committed much rapine and other crimes.'*

The other two great services to which land was generally liable were, the construction or reparation of bridges and fortresses, or walls. These are enjoined to be done in almost every grant. In Domesday-hook it is said of Chester, that the prepositus should cause one man for every hide to come to rebuild the wall and bridge of the city; or if the man should fail to come, his lord was to pay forty shillings."s

Besides these three great services, which later writers have called the trinoda necessitas, there were many other burdens to which the landed interest was more or less liable in the hands of the sub-proprietors.

A careful provision is made in many grants against royal tributes and impositions, and those of the great and powerful. In one it is mentioned, that the king should not require his pasture, nor the entertainment of those men called Fæstingmen, nor of those who carry hawks, falcons, horses, or dogs." In another it is agreed, that the wood should not be cut for the buildings, of either king or prince." It is elsewhere expressed, that the land should be free from the pasture and refection of those men called in Saxon Walhfæreld, and their feasting, and of all Englishmen or foreigners, noble and ignoble." This burden of being compelled to entertain others, is mentioned in several grants. In one, the pasture of the king's horses and grooms," and of his swine, which was called fearn leswe,“o is noticed.

It is probable that these royal impositions attached only to the lands which were or had been of the royal demesne. The


14 MS. Claud. C.9. p. 132.
" Domesday, Cestrescire.

16 MS. Claud. C. 9. p. 104. Thorpe, R. R. 22.

17 MS. Claud.

Heming. Chart. 31.
19 Ibid. 58.
20 Ibid. $6.


pecuniary payments which resulted to the king from the landed CHA P. estates in England are enumerated in Domesday-book.

When the original proprietors aliened or demised their lands to others, they annexed a variety of conditions to their grants, which subsequent transfers either repeated or discharged. Some of these may be stated. One contract was, that the person to whom the land was given should plough, sow, reap, and gather in the harvest of two acres of it, for the use of the church." Another was, that the tenant should go with all his craft twice a year, once to plough, and at the other time to reap, for the grantors. Another grant reserves two bushels of pure grain. Another, the right of feeding one hundred swine. Another exacts the ploughing and reaping of a field.”' In others a ship, in others lead is reserved." Offa gave the land of twenty manentium to the church at Worcester, on the terms of receiving a specified gafol from the produce of the land. The services and customs attached to the possession of burghs, houses, and lands, which are mentioned in the Domesday Survey, inay be consulted as giving much illustration to this topic. Sometimes an imposition was made on the land of a province by general consent. Thus, for building Saint Edmund's church, four denarii were put annually on every carucata of earth, by the consent of the landholders.26 There were also ecclesiastical duties attached to land.

It is said by Lord Coke, that the first kings of this realm had all the lands of England in demesne, and that they reserved to themselves the grand manors and royalties, and enfeoffed the barons of the realm with the remainder, for the defence of the realm, with such jurisdiction as the courts haron now have, and instituted the freeholders to be judges

Heming. Chart 134.

printed. Either the transcript was made, 30 Ibid. 189.

or the press set and corrected, by a person 13 Ibid. 144. p. 174. 208. I quote Ilearne's ignorant of Saxon. edition of this book ; but cannot avoid say- Dugdale, Mon, i. p. 19, 20, 141. ing, that the Saxon passages are badly

29 Ibid. 101.

18 Ibid. p. 291,



BOOK of the court baron.?? Much of this statement may be true;

but it can be only made inferentially, for no positive informa+ tion has descended to modern times of what lands the Saxon chieftains possessed themselves, nor how they disposed of them. We may recollect, that, according to the laws of the Britons in Wales, in the ninth century, all the land of the kingdom was declared to belong to the king ;28 and we may safely believe that the same law prevailed while the Britons occupied the whole island.

It is highly probable that the Saxon war-cyning succeeded to all the rights of the monarch he dipossessed; and, in rewarding his companions and warriors with the division of the spoil, it can be as little doubted, that from those to whoin the cyning or the witena gave the lands of the British landholders, a certain portion of military service was exacted, in order to maintain the conquest they had achieved. This was indispensable, as nearly a century elapsed before the struggle was completely terminated between the Britons and the invaders. It was also a law among the Britons, that all should be compelled to build castles when the king pleased." But that the lands in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon proprietors were subject to the fyrd, as a general and inevitable burden, and that this military service was rigorously exacted, and its neglect severely punished, and was to be performed when called for by the king, the facts already adduced have abundantly proved. Enough has been also said to shew that custom, or the will of individuals, had imposed on many estates personal services, pecuniary rents, and other troublesome exactions. Hence there can be no doubt, that the most essential part of what has been called the feudal system actually prevailed among the Anglo-Saxons. The term vassals was also used by them. Asser, the friend of Alfred, has the

[blocks in formation]

19 Ibid. p. 165.

« PreviousContinue »