« AnteriorContinuar »
greater sum-variations which may be explained either by the temporary financial condition of the burgh, or by its relation to the special tax imposed. As an average example of the contributions of the leading burghs to the national expenditure, we may take the sums contributed on the occasion of the marriage of Mary to the Dauphin of France in 1557 -an event in which all the burghs had an equal interest, and in connection with which, therefore, none could prefer a claim to abatement. In round numbers the sums contributed were as follows: Edinburgh, £2250; Dundee, £1265; Aberdeen, £945; Perth, £742; St Andrews, £300; CuparFife and Montrose, each £270; Stirling, £252 ; Ayr, £237; Glasgow, £202 ; Dumfries, £ 174; Inverness, £168 ; Linlithgow, £150; and Haddington, £ 147.40 In connection with this list it is to be noted that, leaving out Dundee, Aberdeen, and Perth, Edinburgh contributed more than the remaining ten taken together. It will be observed, also, that Haddington is at the bottom of the list, whereas in other tax-rolls it appears as fifth or sixth. But the history of Haddington immediately preceding the date of the tax in question sufficiently explains the reduced condition of its finances : its occupation by the English in 1548, the year after the Battle of Pinkie, had brought disaster to the town from which it could not have recovered by 1557, the date of Mary's marriage.
From the same contribution to the expenses of
Mary's marriage we gather what was the usual proportion of taxation borne by the burghs. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries this proportion had considerably varied. For example, in 1328 the burghs paid a twentieth of a general contribution levied in that year; in 1357 a fifth of the sum raised for the ransom of David II. ;45 and in 1366 also a fifth of a burden imposed to meet the expenses of the same king. Thenceforward, with occasional fluctuations, a fifth became the regular contribution of the burghs towards the national expenditure. In the case of Mary's marriage the amount levied was £60,000, of which the clergy contributed a half, the barons a third, and the burghs a fifth. Curiously enough, however, in the reign of Mary's successor the proportion paid by the burghs came to be fixed at a sixth 43—a fact which may be variously explained either by a decline in their prosperity, by James's desire to alleviate their burdens, or by his policy of attaching them to the interests of the throne.
Having described the general appearance of town and country in the time of Mary, we may now logically consider the existing modes of intercommunication. It may be safely affirmed, however, that no accumulation of details can enable us to realise a condition of society in which locomotion was effected under such difficulties as in the sixteenth century. We can easily understand how the difficulties of moving from place to place should retard the development of trade and commerce ; but it is not easy to realise how such conditions affected the thoughts and feelings of the people who lived under them. Take, for example, the sentiment of patriotism. In the Middle Ages, patriotism, as we know itwas an impossibility. At the present day, when an event of national importance happens, it is known all but simultaneously in every corner of the kingdom, and with one throb the heart of the nation responds to it. By the infection of common hopes and fears simultaneously realised a nation becomes a living organism alive at every point. But in the conditions under which the Scottish people lived in the sixteenth century such intensity of common emotion could not in the nature of things exist.
Throughout the Middle Ages, as is well known, the making of roads and the building of bridges were regarded as pious acts to be ranked with almsgiving and going on pilgrimage. To us the conjunction seems peculiar, but the explanation is simple. In improving or constructing a bridge or a road the good Christian was helping to save the lives and limbs of his fellow-creatures, whom business or other necessity compelled to travel from land to land or from one part of the same country to another. The dangers that beset travellers, even beyond the Middle Ages, were indeed fitted to evoke the compassion of the faithful. The state of the highways was such that it was occasion for
devout thanksgiving if the traveller accomplished his journey without damage to his horse or himself. The risks from robbers added further excitement to
progress. He had also to cross rivers spanned by bridges of such fragility that he commended his soul to heaven before venturing to cross them. By sea his perils were equally great, for, should fair winds secure him from shipwreck, the chances were many that he would not escape the pirates who swarmed the seas till at least far into the seventeenth century. To all these risks travellers were still exposed in the time of Mary.
In grants of land made in the early Middle Age it is usually specified that the liberty of via and semite goes along with them—by via being meant the highways, and by semita the bypaths. From the earliest feudal times, therefore, we are to infer that these lines of communication existed in Scotland; and the conclusion is supported by other evidence. From the charters of the great religious houses we learn that waggons were used for bringing in the crops and for transporting peats ; and in the case of the Abbey of Kelso we know that foreign goods were brought to it from Berwick in similar conveyances. Other incidental references prove that there were many public roads as early as the reign of William the Lion. For example, a highway ran from Berwick to Inverness, and from Galloway through Ayr, Kyle, Carrick and Cunningham, and, passing near Lanark, “a commodious and
streicht passage way” led to Edinburgh. Long before the time of Mary, therefore, thoroughfares, such as they were, connected the leading burghs with the nearest seaports and with each other.
In Scotland the same provision was made as in other countries for the construction and maintenance of public thoroughfares. On all properties, lay and secular, was imposed the feudal obligation of the trinoda necessitas, which involved the maintenance of roads, bridges, and fortifications. In earlier times the sheriffs, and, at a later date, the sheriffs conjoined with the justices of the peace, were charged with the duty of enforcing the obligation for the maintenance of the roads. The period of the year prescribed for the necessary repairs was between “bear seed” time and “haytime, or harvest,” when tenants, cottars and their servants were expected to set to work with horses, carts, sleds, spades, shovels, picks and mattocks. The regulation breadth of the highroads was twenty feet; and they were to be so solidly constructed that “horses and carts may travel summer and winter thereupon”; and it was specially prescribed that the highways leading to parish churches and seaports should be kept in good condition. 45
These were excellent regulations, but in Scotland, as elsewere, they were mere counsels of perfection. In England it was not till the eighteenth century that the highways were put in a tolerable condition, and throughout the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seven