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and all the burghers within London, French and English, friendly: and I do you to wit that I will that ye twain be worthy of all the law that ye were worthy of in King Eadward's day. And I will that every child be his father's heir after his father's day; and I will not endure that any
man offer any wrong to you. God keep you.'' Ecclcsiasti. The original bishoprics were conterminous with the cal divisionslimits of the various kingdoms at the time of the conver
sion to Christianity ; but under Archbishop Theodore the dioceses were subdivided on the lines of the still carlier tribal divisions. As churches were gradually crected throughout the country; the township, or, in thinly populated districts, a cluster of small townships, naturally became in its ecclesiastical aspect the parish of a single priest. Later on the hundred became the deancry; the shire the archdeaconry, while the whole consolidated kingdom formed the province
of the Metropolitan. Ranks of the Turning from the divisions of the land to those of the people.
people, we find at the bottom of the social scale the mere Slaves. slaves (theories, csils), of whom, under the name of servi,
25,000 are numbered in Domesday Book, or nearly oneeleventh of the registered population. These were of two kinds—(1) hereditary, consisting partly of the descendants of the conquered Britons, partly of persons of the common German stock either descended from the slaves of thic first colonists or from freemen who had lost their liberty ; (2) penal slaves (wite-theorias), freemen who had been reduced to slavery on account of crime, or through failure to pay a wergild, or by voluntary sale,—the father having power to sell his child of seven, and a child of thirteen having power
to sell himself. Freemen: As among the Germans of Tacitus we find the distincEorls and
tion between the noble and common freeman, so among Ceorls.
combination of voluntary organization witii administrative machinery which marks the English municipal system from its carliest days.'—Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 404.
| Liber Custumarım (Lond. Gildhallae Munimenta); Select Charters, 79. : Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 224-227.
the English the freemen were broadly divided into corls and ceorls, the modern meaning of which may be rendered by gentle and simple, or esquire and yeoman.
The rank of the corl rested upon noble birth, and thus The Eorl. formed a perpetual barrier between him and the coorl. But Mobility by in England, as in other Germanic countries, a new kind of nobility spcedily grew up-nobility by military service, nobility by
service: which in the end superseded the nobility by birth. This the
The .:. arosc out of the development of the comitatus, described :!!!. by Tacitus, the band of personal followers of the King or other leader. These followers were the sesithers (= com- (s:?:. panions); their leader was tire hlırforit (= loafgiver), in its modern form, Lord, whose title was derived from his character of giver of gifts in acknowledgment of the services received. The relation existing between the lord and his followers appears to have gradually assumed a somewhat Tiya. lower type; thc sesith, or companion, became the theorie (= servant); and the service of the King, or other great lord, was eagerly sought by frceinen as well for the social dignity as for the material rewards which it cnsured. We read of the King's dish-thegn (disc-thegn), bower-thegn (bur-thegn), and horse-thegn or stallere, as personages of high rank and great influence; a feature in our early institutions which has survived to the present day in such offices as those of Lord Chamberlain (bower-thegn) and Master of the Horse. Service to the King, or some great lord, gradually became the only avenue to distinguished rank. The word thegn itself came to be regarded as synonymous with noble or gentle. Among this nobility by service the highest rank comprised the King's thegns, whilst in a lower class were the thegns of the ealdorman or bishop.
The dignity of thegn was closely (though not insepar- Intimate ably) connected with the possession of landed property; so between much so that the possession of a certain quantity of land social status
and ownership of land.
· The Staller (comes stabuli)= the Marshal (from old High German marah, horse, and scalh, servant.)
See Kemble, Saxons in England, i. ch. vii., on the Noble by Service.'
came to be regarded as a foundation of nobility. The simplc freeman who acquired five hides of land entered into the ranks of the thegnhood. For the position of ealdorman the possession of at least forty hides was necessary. This intimate connexion between social status and the ownership of large landed estates, which has continued with but slight modification down to our own times, may be traced even in the original institutions of our Teutonic
ancestors : ‘Agri .... quos inter se secunduin dignatio
mem partiuntur.'? Effects of The development of the comitatus, or thegnhood, liad growth of the theula
very important cffects. In the original Teutonic comhood. munity, the monarchic and aristocratic clements were sub
ordinate to the democratic clement. The growth of the thegnhood, working in close alliance with the kingly power, which from notives of self interest it was bound to support as the source of its own dignity, reversed this original relation. Thus the aristocratic and monarchic elements
obtained a decided pre-eminence. Purely voluntary in its , origin, service rapidly grew to be universally compulsory:
It soon came to be regarded as a principle that every freeman, not being a hlasord, must be attached to some superior, to whom he was bound by fealty, and who, in return, was his legal protector and the guarantee for his good behaviour. The freeman had indeed the right of choosing the lord to whom he should, in technical language, commend himself; but if he failed to do so, his kindred were bound to present him to the shire court and name a lord for him. The lordless man was treated as a kind of outlaw, and might be seized like a robber by anyone who met him. Having once commended himself to some lord, the freeman was prohibited from exchanging into the service of another lord in another shire without the consent of the ealdorman of the shire which lie was desirous of quitting. "A new order of things,' says Kemble," was thus consummated, in which the honours and security of service became more
1 Tacit. Germ. c. xxvi. : Kemble, Saxons in England, i. 183.
anxiously desired than a needy and safe freedom; and the alods being finally surrendered, to be taken back as bencficia under mediate lords, the foundations of the royal feudal system were securely laid on every side.'
In one respect the absorption of corldom into thegnhood The Coorls. had a liberalizing effect. The ccorl, wlio could never become an corl, might become a thean, and so attain a rank practically equivalent to that of corl. Thus the caste distinction of birth was broken through. Thioccorl who acquired five hides of land (about 600 acres), with a church and mansion of his own, acquired also, as we have seen, the right to theguhood. King Ethelstan extended the priviluge to the merchant who in his own vessel had made three voyages to forcign parts. This last was a remarkable (Xccption, in favour of commerce, to the general polity of this period, in which the possession of land was almost essential to dignity and perfect freedom. On the whole, however, the ccorls as a class were probably depressed by the growth of the thegnhood.? As there were degrees among the thugns, so among the coorls there were various grades, according to the different relations in which they stood towards the hlafords, under whom they had placed themselves. Some had land, which again varied greatly in quantity ; some were landless. The landless ccorl indeed was practically little better off than the slave, except that he might commend himself to any lord he pleased ; but still all ceorls were freemen and capable of becoming
gentlemen. They were ‘law-worthy, and the wer of the · lowest ceorl was payable to his kindred, not to the lord,
Freeman, Yorman Conquest, i. 95. The contents of Domesday Book leave little doubt that the condition of the ceorls had greatly changed for the worse in the later times as we approach the Norman Conquest. Some classes among them seem to have been fast approaching to the condition of villeinage, or even to that of sersdom. The change is not peculiar to England ; but it is the peculiar glory of England that the bondage of the mass of its people began later, and certainly ended sooner, than in any other western country where such bondage existed. The German peasantry gradually sank into a lower state of serfilom than ours, and they remained in it much longer. The free peasantry of Russia did not sink into serfdoin till villeinage was nearly forgotten in England; but their deliverance from the yoke has been reserved to our own times. Id. p. 97.
to whom the composition for the murder of a slave would have belonged. In the Domesday Survey the name of ceorl docs not occur ; but the class is mentioned under the names of liberi homincs, socianni, villani, bordarii, cotarii, and cotseti, indicating doubtless some peculiarity of service or tenure. They are always distinguished from the servi or serfs of the demesne. The socmen were probably ceorls who had acquired less than five hides of frechold land. They may be regarded as 'the root of a noble plant, the free socage tenants, or English ycomanry, whose independence has stamped with peculiar features both our constitution and our national character.'1
Above the thens in dignity were the Ealdormen. In the primitive patriarchal constitution the chief authority in each tribe seems to liave been naturally exercised, in times of peace, by the eldest member. Hence the chief of the tribe was emphatically called the caldorman. When the chiefs of the Teutonic settlers assumed the regal style, the title of ealdorman gradually became restricted in its signification. From the time of Ecg berht it denoted a magistrate or viceroy appointed by the King and his Witan, more especially the governor of a shire or large district. Under the Danish kings in the 11th century, the title of caldorman was generally supplanted by that of eorl or earl, as the official title of the governor of a shire or province.”
By this time the word 'corl,' in its original signification of gentle birth, had, as we have seen, itself been supplanted by thegn. From about the period of the Norman Conquest the title of ealdorman underwent a further restriction, and has survived to our days only as the designation of city and borough magistrates.
As the result alike of their almost entire monopoly of learning and of the veneration, not unmixed with superstition, which the sacerdotal character inspired in the laity, the
1 Hallam, Midd. Ages, ii. 277.
? The title of eorl occurs early in the laws of the Kentish kings (Laws of Ethelbert, xiii. xiv.), and was probably of Jutish origin, but its use as a substitute for ealclorman was borrowed from the Danislı "jarl."