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ing out frontier lands to the limitanei milites, to be held by military service; but its direct and principal sources were (1) the system of beneficiary grants which grew up under the Frank Kings and Emperors, working in combination with (2) the practice of personal commendation or vassalage, which seems to have superseded and absorbed the primitive and, in many respects, analogous German
On the Continent feudalism had become much more machinery of government
than a more system of tenure. It was inseparably bound fcudaliceel. up with the system of government and the legal and
social relations of the people. To the possession of a fief was united the right of local judicature. Originally
tenable for life only, ficfs soon came to be licreditary: Sub-infeula. The practice of sub-infeudation' naturally followed. The
great feudatory who had received large grants of land from his Sovereign, retained a certain portion for his own demesne and then parcelled out the remainder amongst his own dependents, to be held by services similar to those which he himself owed. The provincial governors, who held the largest beneficiary estates, and in many cases were also extensive alodial proprietors, found them selves strong enough to establish a number of provincial principalities-imperia in imperio; in which, while admitting a nominal dependence on the Sovereign, they claimed and exercised a practically independent military and civil jurisdiction. It was of the essence of a fief that its tenant owed fealty to his immediate lord and not to the State or the Sovereign. The King might be the immediate lord ; but in this case obedience was due to him, not in his political capacity as sovereign, but in his feudal capacity as lord. Thus during the height of the feudal system in France, the tenants of the immediate vassals of the Crown never hesitated to follow their lord's standard against the King.
· Hallam, Midd. Ages, i. 186.
foucali in in
The general conversion of alodial into feudal tenure was commendaalso due, in a great degree, to the voluntary action of the tion, smaller frce proprietors, who, in an age of lawlessness and rapine, were glad to submit their persons and estates, by way of commendation, to some powerful neighbouring lord. Not only the possessions of laymon, but those of the church, Feudal became subject to the all-pervading feudal influence: the tenure of bishops and abbots, equally with the feudal nobles amidst lands. whom they lived, swearing fcalty for their lands to the King or other superior, and cxercising feudal jurisdiction and authority over their own vassals.
In England an indigenous growth of feudalisın had been Growth of going on, but its development had been slower and more England. purely Teutonic than on the Continent, where the legal principles and practices of imperial Romc cxcrcised an accelerating influence. As a system, feudalism cannot be said to have been cstablished in England prior to the Conquest, but all its elements had long existed, both separately and sometimes in combination. The two chief clements of feudalism arc: (1.) The personal relation of lord and vassal founded on contract, and binding the parties to mutual fidelity, the one owing protection, the other service. (2.) The holding of the usufruct (dominium utile) of land on the condition of rendering military service, the ultimate property (dominium directum) remaining in the lord, the grantor. Combined, these two elements constitute feudalism; apart, neither is sufficient. In the personal relation which existed between the Teutonic princeps and his comites, between the English Hlaford and Thegn, we have the first element of feudalism in its integrity. We have seen how universal the practice
lishments, that a vassal to whom the King liad refused justice might summon his own tenants, under penalty of forfeiting their fiess, to assist him in obtaining redress by arms.- Etablissemens de St. Louis, c. 49; Hallam, M. A. i. 168.
See Guizot, Essais sur l'Ilistoire de France, 166, and Hallam, Midd. Ages, i. 317-320. The practice of commendation had originally no connexion with land, but created a merely personal tie of mutual protection and fidelity, similar to the Roman clientela.
• Hallam, Midd. Ages, i. 195.
of commendation became, in so much that the lordless man was soon looked upon as an ancmaly in the state and treated as an outlaw. One of the most natural modes in which the Hlaford would reward his followers would be by a grant of land, subject to the condition of service, military service more especially. By the beginning of the nith century the King seems to have assumed the right of disposing of the folkland without the consent of the Witan, and of granting it out to his followers as a reward for past, a retainer for future, services. Moreover, by means of subinfeudation and commendation, a very large part of the land of England had come to be held by a feudal tenure, in contradistinction from alodial ownership, which remained the privilege of the few. But up to this stage feudality had affected only the tenure of land. The policy initiated by Cnut and continued under Eadward the Confessor, of dividing the country among a few great carls, who in some cases succeeded in transmitting their jurisdictions to their children, carried the feudal tendency a step further; and but for the Norman conquest would probably have resulted in the development of a feudalism almost identical with that which existed on the Continent.
I Supra, p. 24.
2 The practice of commending a man's person and lands, in order to obtain protection against violent aggression, appears to have been common in England as well as on the Continent. Thus in Domesday we read (p. 32, b.), under Terrae Ecclesiae de Certesyg (Surrey), “Tempore Regis Eadwardi tenuerunt unus homo et ii feminae et quo voluerunt se vertere potuerunt, sed pro define sione se cum terra abbatiae summiserunt.' The practice continued even after the Conquest : another entry in Domesday (59) reads : Isdem Episcopus tenet de Rege i hidam et dimidiam, et Tori de eo. Pater Tori tenuit T. R. E. et potuit ire quo voluit, sed pro sua defensione se commisit Hermanno Episcopo, et Tori Osmundo Episcopo similiter.'
3 “The dependent,' remarks Professor Stubbs, ' might be connected with the king (1) by service, (2) by comitatus, (3) by commenclation, (4) by reception of land as a benefice. Frank feudalism grew out of the two latter, the English nobility of service from the two first. It is not contended that either the principles at work in English society or the results at which they arrived before the Norman Conquest were very different from the corresponding influences and results on the Continent ; but they had a distinct history, which was different in every stage, especially in the point that, as in so many other things, the personal relation in England takes the place of the territorial, as it was in France ; and the feudalism that followed the Conquest was Frank and territorial, that which preceded it grew froin personal and legal, not from territorial influences. On the growth of Frank feudalism, see Waitz, Deutsche Verfassungs-Geschichte, ii. 262; iv. 210. ... In the Frank empire the beneficiary system is unconnected with the comitatus, in the English they are in the closest connexion.'-Const. Hist. i. 153, n.
Both in the kingdom of France and in his own duchy of Difference Normandy, William had been familiar with the evils of between
English and feudalism as there established. His recollection of contests Continental with his own barons was too keen and too recent not to
feudalism. induce him to prevent, if possible, a recurrence of the struggle in his newly-acquired kingdom. From the very first he took measures to check the natural development of feudalism in England ; and although by gradually substituting the Frankish system of land tenure for the complicated system which had grown up in England, he may be said to have established the feudal system, it was as a system of tenure only, not of government organization. He was determined to reign as the King of the nation, not Feudal merely as feudal lord. While, therefore, availing himself tenure of
land without of all the advantages of the feudal system, he broke into feudal prinits most essential attribute, the exclusive dependence of a ciples of
Sovernment. vassal upon his lord," by requiring, in accordance with the old English practice, that all landowners, mesne tenants as well as tenants-in-chief, should take the oath of fealty to the King. This was formally decreed, at the celebrated Gemột held on Salisbury Plain, on the ist of August, 1086, Gemot of at which the Witan and all the landowners of substance in Salisbury,
A.D. 1086. England whose vassals soever they were, attended, to the number, it is reported, of 60,000. The statute, as soon as passed, was carried into immediate cffect, and all the landowners (landsittende inen) became this man's men,' and
1 Hallam, Midd. Ages, ii. 315.
• The oath is mentioned in the laws of King Eadmund (circ. A.D. 943) : * De Sacramento Fidelitatis Rozi Eaumumio ficiento. In primis ut omni's jurent in nomine Domini, pro quo sanctum illud sanctum est, fidelitatem Eadmundo regi, sicut homo debet esse fidelis domino suo, sine omni controversia et seditione, in manifesto, in occulto, in amando quod amabit, nolendo quod nolet ; et antequam juramentum hoc dabitur, ut nemo concelet hoc in fratre vel proximo suo plus quam in extraneo.'—Thorpe, Anc. Laws and Inst.; Select Chart. 66.
3. Statuimus etiam ut omnis liber homo foedere et sacramento affirmet, quod infra et extra Angliam Willelmo regi fideles esse volunt, terras et honorem illius omni fidelitate cum eo servare et ante eum contra inimicos defendere.' Stat. Will. Conq. Int. p. 8o.
swore him oaths of allegiance that thcy would against all other men be faithful to him.''
This national act of homage and allegiance to the King, which, far from marking the formal acceptance of feudalism, as some have contended, was, in reality, anti-feudal, followed immediately upon the compilation of thc Domesday Survcy, which had been decreed in the memorablc midwinter Gemot of Gloucester, 1035-1086. The recently attempted invasion from Denmark seems to have impressed the King with the desirability of an accurate knowledge of his resources, military and fiscal, both of which were based upon the land. The survey was completed in the remarkably short space of a single year. In each shire the commissioners made their inquiries by: the oathis of the slicritis, the barons and their vorman retainers, the parish priests, the reeves and six coorls of cach township. The result of their labours was a minute description of all thic lands of the kingdom, with the exception of the four northern counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Durham, and part of what is now Lancashire.
It enumcrates the tenants-in-chief, under tenants, freeholders, villeins, and serfs, describes the nature and obligations of the tenures, the value in the time of King Eadward, at the Conquest, and at the date of the survey, and, which gives the key to the whole inquiry, informs the King whether any advance in the valuation could be made.
· Chron. Ang.-Sax. A.D. 1086. 'Sythihan lie ferde abutan swa that he com to Lammæssan to Searebyrig ; and thär him comon to his l'itan, and ealle tha landsittende men the altes wxron ofer eail Engleland, waron thes mannes men the hi wäron, and ealle hi bugon to him, and wäeron his menn, and him hold athas sworon that hi woluon ungean ealle othre men him holde beon.'
: The returns were transmitted to Winchester, digested, and recorded in two volumes which have descended to posterity under the name of Domes. day Book.
The name itself is probably derived from Domus Dei, the appellation of a chapel or vault of the Cathedral at Winchester in which the survey was at first deposited. From this authentic record our most certain information is obtained as to the old English common law, as it appears in the local customs referred to ; the character of the municipal govern. ment and consuetudines' of the towns ; the financial system of the shires whilst still under the administration or the earls; and the general political and social condition of England towards the end of William's reign.