The invasion of William of Normandy led to results which have been represented by some writers as having been the most momentous in English history. I do not wish in any way to depreciate their views, but it seems to me not to have been so disastrous to existing institutions, as the Scandinavian invasion, which completely submerged all former usages. No trace of Roman occupation survived the advent of the ANGLO-SAXONs; the population was reduced to and remained in the position of serfs, whereas the Norman invasion preserved the existing institutions of the nation, and subsequent changes were an outgrowth thereof.

When Edward the Confessor, the last descendant of Cedric, was on his deathbed, he declared Harold to be his successor, but William of Normandy claimed the throne under a previous will of the same monarch. He asked for the assistance of his own nobles and people in the enterprise, but they refused at first, on the ground that their feudal compact only required them to join in the defence of their country, and did not coerce them into affording him aid in a completely new enterprise; and it was only by promising to compensate them out of the spoils that he could secure their co- operation. A list of the number of ships supplied by each Norman chieftain appears in Lord Lyttleton's "History of Henry III." vol. i., appendix.

I need hardly remind you that the settlers in Normandy were from Norway, or that they had been expelled from their native land in consequence of their efforts to subvert its institutions, and to make the descent of land hereditary, instead of being divisible among all the sons of the former owner. Nor need I relate how they won and held the fair provinces of northern France - whether as a fief of the French Crown or not, is an open question. But I should wish you to bear in mind their affinity to the ANGLO-SAXONs, to the Danes, and to the Norwegians, the family of Sea Robbers, whose ravages extended along the coasts of Europe as far south as Gibraltar, and, as some allege, along the Mediterranean. Some questions have been raised as to the means of transport of the Saxons, the Jutes, and the Angles, but they were fully as extensive as those by which Rollo invaded France or William invaded England.

William strengthened his claim to the throne by his military success, and by a form of election, for which there were many previous precedents. Those who called upon him to ascend it alleged "that they had always been ruled by legal power, and desired to follow in that respect the example of their ancestors, and they knew of no one more worthy than himself to hold the reins of government."

His alleged title to the crown, sanctioned by success and confirmed by election, enabled him, in conformity with existing institutions, to seize upon the lands of Harold and his adherents, and to grant them as rewards to his followers. Such confiscation and gifts were entirely in accord with existing usages, and the great alteration which took place in the principal fiefs was more a change of persons than of law. A large body of the aboriginal people had been, and continued to be, serfs or villeins; while the mass of the FREEMEN (LIBERI HOMINES) remained in possession of their holdings.

It may not be out of place here to say a few words about this important class, which is in reality the backbone of the British constitution; it was the mainstay of the ANGLO-SAXON monarchy; it lost its influence during the civil wars of the Plantagenets, but reasserted its power under Cromwell. Dr. Robertson thus draws the line between them and the vassals:

"In the same manner Liber homo is commonly opposed to Vassus or Vassalus, the former denoting an allodial proprietor, the latter one who held of a superior. These FREEMEN were under an obligation to serve the state, and this duty was considered so sacred that FREEMEN were prohibited from entering into holy orders, unless they obtained the consent of the sovereign."

De Lolme, chap. i., sec. 5, says:

"The Liber homo, or FREEMAN, has existed in this country from the earliest periods, as well as of authentic as of traditionary history, entitled to that station in society as one of his constitutional rights, as being descended from free parents in contradistinction to 'villains,' which should be borne in remembrance, because the term 'FREEMAN' has been, in modern times, perverted from its constitutional signification without any statutable authority." The LIBERI HOMINES are so described in the Doomsday Book. They were the only men of honor, faith, trust, and reputation in the kingdom; and from among such of these as were not barons, the knights did choose jurymen, served on juries themselves, bare offices, and dispatched country business. Many of the LIBERI HOMINES held of the king in capite, and several were freeholders of other persons in military service. Their rights were recognized and guarded by the 55th William I.; [Footnote: "LV. - De Chartilari seu Feudorum jure et Ingenuorum immunitate. Volumus etiam ac firmiter praecipimus et concedimus ut omnes LIBERI HOMINES totius Monarchiae regni nostri praedicti habeant et teneant terras suas et possessiones suas bene et in pace, liberi ab omni, exactione iniusta et ab omni Tallagio: Ita quod nihil ab eis exigatur vel capiatur nisi servicium suum liberum quod de iure nobis facere debent et facere tenentur et prout statutum est eis et illis a nobis datum et concessum iure haereditario imperpetuum per commune consilium totius regni nostri praeicti."] it is entitled:


"We will also, and strictly, enjoin and concede that all FREEMEN (LIBERI HOMINES} of our whole kingdom aforesaid, have and hold their land and possessions well and in peace, free from every unjust exaction and from Tallage, so that nothing be exacted or taken from them except their free service, which of right they ought to do to us and are bound to do, and according as it was appointed (statutum) to them, and given to them by us, and conceded by hereditary right for ever, by the common council (FOLC-GEMOT} of our whole realm aforesaid."

These FREEMEN were not created by the Norman Conquest, they existed prior thereto; and the laws, of which this is one, are declared to be the laws of Edward the Confessor, which William re-enacted. Selden, in "The Laws and Government of England," p. 34, speaks of this law as the first Magna Charta. He says:

"Lastly, the one law of the kings, which may be called the first MAGNA CHARTA in the Norman times (55 William I.), by which the king reserved to himself, from the FREEMEN of this kingdom, nothing but their free service, in the conclusion saith that their lands were thus granted to them in inheritance of the king by the COMMON COUNCIL (FOLC-GEMOT) of the whole kingdom; and so asserts, in one sentence, the liberty of the FREEMEN, and of the representative body of the kingdom."

He further adds:

"The freedom of an ENGLISHMAN consisteth of three particulars: first, in OWNERSHIP; second, in VOTING ANY LAW, whereby ownership is maintained; and, thirdly, in having an influence upon the JUDICIARY POWER that must apply the law. Now the English, under the Normans, enjoyed all this freedom with each man's own particular, besides what they had in bodies aggregate. This was the meaning of the Normans, and they published the same to the world in a fundamental law, whereby is granted that all FREEMEN shall have and hold their lands and possessions in hereditary right for ever; and by this they being secured from forfeiture, they are further saved from all wrong by the same law, which provideth that they shall hold them well or quietly, and in peace, free from all unjust tax, and from all Tallage, so as nothing shall be exacted nor taken but their free service, which, by right, they are bound to perform."

This is expounded in the law of Henry I., cap. 4, to mean that no tribute or tax shall be taken but what was due in the Confessor's time, and Edward II. was sworn to observe the laws of the Confessor.

The nation was not immediately settled. Rebellions arose either from the oppression of the invaders or the restlessness of the conquered; and, as each outburst was put down by force, there were new lands to be distributed among the adherents of the monarch; ultimately there were about 700 chief tenants holding IN CAPITE, but the nation was divided into 60,215 knights' fees, of which the Church held 28,115. The king retained in his own hands 1422 manors, besides a great number of forests, parks, chases, farms, and houses, in all parts of the kingdom; and his followers received very large holdings.

Among the Saxon families who retained their land was one named Shobington in Bucks. Hearing that the Norman lord was coming to whom the estate had been gifted by the king, the head of the house armed his servants and tenants, preparing to do battle for his rights; he cast up works, which remain to this day in grassy mounds, marking the sward of the park, and established himself behind them to await the despoiler's onset. It was the period when hundreds of herds of wild cattle roamed the forest lands of Britain, and, failing horses, the Shobingtons collected a number of bulls, rode forth on them, and routed the Normans, unused to such cavalry. William heard of the defeat, and conceived a respect for the brave man who had caused it; he sent a herald with a safe conduct to the chief, Shobington, desiring to speak with him. Not many days after, came to court eight stalwart men riding upon bulls, the father and seven sons. "If thou wilt leave me my lands, O king," said the old man, "I will serve thee faithfully as I did the dead Harold." Whereupon the Conqueror confirmed him in his ownership, and named the family Bullstrode, instead of Shobington.

Sir Martin Wright, in his "Treatise on Tenures," published in 1730, p. 61, remarks:

"Though it is true that the possessions of the Normans were of a sudden very great, and that they received most of them from the hands of William I., yet it does not follow that the king took all the lands of England out of the hands of their several owners, claiming them as his spoils of war, or as a parcel of a conquered country; but, on the contrary, it appears pretty plain from the history of those times that the king either had or pretended title to the crown, and that his title, real or pretended, was established by the death of Harold, which amounted to an unquestionable judgment in his favor. He did not therefore treat his opposers as enemies, but as traitors, agreeably to the known laws of the kingdom which subjected traitors not only to the loss of life but of all their possessions."

He adds (p. 63):

"As William I. did not claim to possess himself of the lands of England as the spoils of conquest, so neither did he tyrannically and arbitrarily subject them to feudal dependence; but, as the fedual law was at that time the prevailing law of Europe, William I., who had always governed by this policy, might probably recommend it to our ancestors as the most obvious and ready way to put them upon a footing with their neighbors, and to secure the nation against any future attempts from them. We accordingly find among the laws of William I. a law enacting feudal law itself, not EO NOMINE, but in effect, inasmuch as it requires from all persons the same engagements to, and introduces the same dependence upon, the king as supreme lord of all the lands of England, as were supposed to be due to a supreme lord by the feudal law. The law I mean is the LII. law of William I."

This view is adopted by Sir William Blackstone, who writes (vol. ii., p. 47):

"From the prodicious slaughter of the English nobility at the battle of Hastings, and the fruitless insurrection of those who survived, such numerous forfeitures had accrued that he (William) was able to reward his Norman followers with very large and extensive possessions, which gave a handle to monkish historians, and such as have implicitly followed them to represent him as having by the right of the sword, seized upon all the lands of England, and dealt them out again to his own favorites - a supposition grounded upon a mistaken sense of the word conquest, which in its feudal acceptation signifies no more than acquisition, and this has led many hasty writers into a strange historical mistake, and one which, upon the slightest examination, will be found to be most untrue.

"We learn from a Saxon chronicle (A.D. 1085), that in the nineteenth year of King William's reign, an invasion was apprehended from Denmark; and the military constitution of the Saxons being then laid aside, and no other introduced in its stead, the kingdom was wholly defenceless; which occasioned the king to bring over a large army of Normans and Britons who were quartered upon, and greatly oppressed, the people. This apparent weakness, together with the grievances occasioned by a foreign force, might co-operate with the king's remonstrance, and better incline the nobility to listen to his proposals for putting them in a position of defence. For, as soon as the danger was over, the king held a great council to inquire into the state of the nation, the immediate consequence of which was the compiling of the great survey called the Doomsday Book, which was finished the next year; and in the end of that very year (1086) the king was attended by all his nobility at Sarum, where the principal landholders submitted their lands to the yoke of military tenure, and became the king's vassals, and did homage and fealty to his person."

Mr. Henry Hallam writes:

"One innovation made by William upon the feudal law is very deserving of attention. By the leading principle of feuds, an oath of fealty was due from the vassal to the lord of whom he immediately held the land, and no other. The King of France long after this period had no feudal, and scarcely any royal, authority over the tenants of his own vassals; but William received at Salisbury, in 1085, the fealty of all landholders in England, both those who held in chief and their tenants, thus breaking in upon the feudal compact in its most essential attribute - the exclusive dependence of a VASSAL upon his lord; and this may be reckoned among the several causes which prevented the continental notions of independence upon the Crown from ever taking root among the English aristocracy."

A more recent writer, Mr. FREEMAN ("History of the Norman Conquest," published in 1871, vol. iv., p. 695), repeats the same idea, though not exactly in the same words. After describing the assemblage which encamped in the plains around Salisbury, he says:

"In this great meeting a decree was passed, which is one of the most memorable pieces of legislation in the whole history of England. In other lands where military tenure existed, it was beginning to be held that he who plighted his faith to a lord, who was the man of the king, was the man of that lord only, and did not become the man of the king himself. It was beginning to be held that if such a man followed his immediate lord to battle against the common sovereign, the lord might draw on himself the guilt of treason, but the men that followed him would be guiltless. William himself would have been amazed if any vassal of his had refused to draw his sword in a war with France on the score of duty toward an over-lord. But in England, at all events, William was determined to be full king over the whole land, to be immediate sovereign and immediate lord of every man. A statute was passed that every FREEMAN in the realm should take the oath of fealty to King William."

Mr. FREEMAN quotes Stubbs's "Select Charters," p. 80, as his authority. Stubbs gives the text of that charter, with ten others. He says: "These charters are from 'Textus Roffensis,' a manuscript written during the reign of Henry I.; it contains the sum and substance of all the legal enactments made by the Conqueror independent of his confirmation of the earlier laws." It is as follows: "Statuimus etiam ut OMNIS LIBER HOMO feodere et sacramento affirmet, quod intra et extra Angliam Willelmo regi fideles esse volunt, terras et honorem illius omni fidelitate cum eo servare et eum contra inimicos defendere."

It will be perceived that Mr. Hallam reads LIBER HOMO as "vassal." Mr. FREEMAN reads them as "FREEMAN," while the older authority, Sir Martin Wright, says: "I have translated the words LIBERI HOMINES, 'owners of land,' because the sense agrees best with the tenor of the law."

The views of writers of so much eminence as Sir Martin Wright, Sir William Blackstone, Mr. Henry Hallam, and Mr. FREEMAN, are entitled to the greatest respect and consideration, and it is with much diffidence I venture to differ from them. The three older writers appear to have had before them the LII of William I., the latter the alleged charter found in the "Textus Roffensis;" but as they are almost identical in expression, I treat the latter as a copy of the former, and I do not think it bears out the interpretation sought to be put upon it - that it altered either the feudalism of England, or the relation of the vassal to his lord; and it must be borne in mind that not only did William derive his title to the crown from Edward the Confessor, but he preserved the apparent continuity, and re-enacted the laws of his predecessor. Wilkins' "Laws of the ANGLO-SAXONs and Normans," republished in 1840 by the Record Commissioners, gives the following introduction:

"Here begin the laws of Edward, the glorious king of England.

"After the fourth year of the succession to the kingdom of William of this land, that is England, he ordered all the English noble and wise men and acquainted with the law, through the whole country, to be summoned before his council of barons, in order to be acquainted with their customs, Having therefore selected from all the counties twelve, they were sworn solemnly to proceed as diligently as they might to write their laws and customs, nothing omitting, nothing adding, and nothing changing."

Then follow the laws, thirty-nine in number, thus showing the continuity of system, and proving that William imposed upon his Norman followers the laws of the ANGLO-SAXONs. They do not include the LII. William I., to which I shall refer hereafter. I may, however, observe that the demonstration at Salisbury was not of a legislative character; and that it was held in conformity with ANGLO-SAXON usages. If, according to Stubbs, the ordinance was a charter, it would proceed from the king alone. The idea involved in the statements of Sir Martin Wright, Mr. Hallam, and Mr. FREEMAN, that the VASSAL OF A LORD was then called on to swear allegiance to the KING, and that it altered the feudal bond in England, is not supported by the oath of vassalage. In swearing fealty, the vassal knelt, placed his hands between those of his lord's, and swore:

"I become your man from this day forward, of life and limb, and of earthly worship, and unto you shall be true and faithful, and bear you faith for the tenements at that I claim to hold of you, saving the faith that I owe unto our Sovereign Lord the King."

This shows that it was unnecessary to call vassals to Salisbury to swear allegiance. The assemblage was of the same nature and character as previous meetings. It was composed of the LIBERI HOMINES, the FREEMEN, described by the learned John Selden (ante, p. 10), and by Dr. Robertson and De Lolme (ante, pp. 12, 13).

But there is evidence of a much stronger character, which of itself refutes the views of these writers, and shows that the Norman system, at least during the reign of William I., was a continuation of that existing previous to his succession to the throne; and that the meeting at Salisbury, so graphically portrayed, did not effect that radical change in the position of English landholders which has been stated. I refer to the works of EADMERUS; he was a monk of Canterbury who was appointed Bishop of St. Andrews, and declined or resigned the appointment because the King of Scotland refused to allow his consecration by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His history includes the reigns of William I., William II., and Henry I., from 1066 to 1122, and he gives, at page 173, the laws of Edward the Confessor, which William I. gave to England; they number seventy- one, including the LII. law quoted by Sir Martin Wright. The introduction to these laws is in Latin and Norman-French, and is as follows:

"These are the laws and customs which King William granted to the whole people of England after he had conquered the land, and they are those which KING EDWARD HIS PREDECESSOR observed before him."

[Footnote: The laws of William are given in a work entitled "Eadmeri Monachi Cantuariensis Historia Novorum," etc. It includes the reigns of William I. and II., and Henry I., from 1066 to 1122, and is edited by John Selden. Page 173 has the following:

"Hae sunt Leges et Consuetudines quas Willielmus Rex concessit universo Populo Angliae post subactam terram. Eaedum sunt quas Edwardus Rex cognatus ejus obscruauit ante eum.

"Ces sont les leis et les Custums que le Rui people de Engleterre apres le Conquest de le Terre. Ice les meismes que le Rui Edward sun Cosin tuit devant lui.


"De fide et obsequio erga Regnum.

"Statuimus etiam ut omnes liiben homines foedere et sacramento affirment quod intra et extra universum regnum Anglias (quod olim vocabatur regnum Britanniae) Willielmo suo domino fideles esse volunt, terras et honores illins fidelitate ubique servare cum eo et contra inimicos et alienigonas defendere."]

This simple statement gets rid of the theory of Sir Martin Wright, of Sir William Blackstone, of Mr. Hallam, and of Mr. FREEMAN, that William introduced a new system, and that he did so either as a new feudal law or as an amendment upon the existing feudalism. The LII. law, quoted by Wright, is as follows:

"We have decreed that all FREE MEN should affirm on oath, that both within and without the whole kingdom of England (which is called Britain) they desire to be faithful to William their lord, and everywhere preserve unto him his land and honors with fidelity, and defend them against all enemies and strangers."

Eadmerus, who wrote in the reign of Henry I., gives the LII. William I. as a confirmatory law. The charter given by Stubbs is a contraction of the law given by Eadmerus. The former uses the words OMNES LIBERI HOMINES; the latter, the words OMNIS LIBERI HOMO. Those interested can compare them, as I shall give the text of each side by side.

Since the paper was read, I have met with the following passage in Stubbs's "Constitutional History of England," vol. i., p. 265:

"It has been maintained that a formal and definitive act, forming the initial point of the feudalization of England, is to be found in a clause of the laws, as they are called, of the Conqueror, which directs that every FREEMAN shall affirm, by covenant and oath, that 'he will be faithful to King William within England and without, will join him in preserving his land with all fidelity, and defend him against his enemies.' But this injunction is little more than the demand of the oath of allegiance taken to the Anglo- Saxon kings, and is here required not of every feudal dependant of the king, but of every FREEMAN or freeholder whatsoever. In that famous Council of Salisbury, A. D, 1086, which was summoned immediately after the making of the Doomsday survey, we learn, from the 'Chronicle,' that there came to the king 'all his witan and all the landholders of substance in England, whose vassals soever they were, and they all submitted to him and became his men, and swore oaths of allegiance that they would be faithful to him against all others.' In the act has been seen the formal acceptance and date of the introduction of feudalism, but it has a very different meaning. The oath described is the oath of allegiance, combined with the act of homage, and obtained from all landowners whoever their feudal lord might be. It is a measure of precaution taken against the disintegrating power of feudalism, providing a direct tie between the sovereign and all freeholders which no inferior relations existing between them and the mesne lords would justify them in breaking."

I have already quoted from another of Stubbs's works, "Select Charters," the charter which he appears to have discovered bearing upon this transaction, and now copy the note, giving the authorities quoted by Stubbs, with reference to the above passage. He appears to have overlooked the complete narration of the alleged laws of William I., given by Eadmerus, to which I have referred. The note is as follows:

"Ll. William I., 2, below note; see Hovenden, ii., pref. p. 5, seq., where I have attempted to prove the spuriousness of the document called the Charter of William I., printed in the ancient 'Laws' ed. Thorpe, p. 211. The way in which the regulation of the Conqueror here referred to has been misunderstood and misused is curious. Lambarde, in the 'Archaionomia,' p. 170, printed the false charter in which this genuine article is incorporated as an appendiz to the French version of the Conqueror's laws, numbering the clauses 51 to 67; from Lambarde, the whole thing was transferred by Wilkins into his collection of ANGLO-SAXON laws. Blackstone's 'Commentary,' ii. 49, suggested that perhaps the very law (which introduced feudal tenures) thus made at the Council of Salisbury is that which is still extant and couched in these remarkable words, i. e., the injunction in question referred to by Wilkins, p. 228 Ellis, in the introduction to 'Doomsday,' i. 16, quotes Blackstone, but adds a reference to Wilkins without verifying Blackstone's quotation from his collection of laws, substituting for that work the Concilia, in which the law does not occur. Many modern writers have followed him in referring the enactment of the article to the Council of Salisbury. It is well to give here the text of both passages; that in the laws runs thus: 'Statuimus etiam ut omnis liber homo foedere et sacremento affirmet, quod intra et extra Angliam Willelmo regi fideles esse volunt, terras et honorem illius omni fidelitate eum eo servare et ante eum contra inimicos defendere' (Select Charters, p. 80). the homage done at Salisbury is described by Florence thus: 'Nec multo post mandavit ut Archiepiscopi episcopi, abbates, comitas et barones et vicecomitas cum suis militibus die Kalendarum Augustarem sibi occurent Saresberiae quo cum venissent milites eorem sibi fidelitatem contra omnes homines jurare coegit.' The 'Chronicle' is a little more full: 'Thaee him comon to his witan and ealle tha Landsittende men the ahtes waeron ofer eall Engleland waeron thaes mannes men the hi waeron and ealle hi bugon to him and waeron his men, and him hold athas sworon thaet he woldon ongean ealle other men him holde beon.'"

Mr. Stubbs had, in degree, adopted the view at which I had arrived, that the law or charter of William I. was an injunction to enforce the oath of allegiance, previously ordered by the laws of Edward the Confessor, to be taken by all FREEMEN, and that it did not relate to vassals, or alter the existing feudalism.

As the subject possesses considerable interest for the general reader as well as the learned historian, I think it well to place the two authorities side by side, that the text may be compared:

LII. William I., as given by Eadments. "De fide et obsequio erga Regnum.

"Statuimus etiam ut omnes LIBERI HOMINES foedere et sacramento affirment quod intra et extra univereum regnum Anglise (quod olim vocabatur regnum Britanniae) Wilhielmo suo domino fideles ease volunt, terras et honores ilius fidelitate ubique servare cum eo et contra inimicos et alienigenas defendere."

Charter from Textus Roffensis, given by Mr. Stubbs.

"Statuimus etiam ut omnis liber homo feodere et sacramento affirmet, quod intra et extra Angliam. Willelmo regi fideles ease volunt, terras et honorem illius omni fidelitate cum eo servare et ante eum contra inimicos defendere."

I think the documents I have quoted show that Sir Martin Wright, Sir William Blackstone, and Messrs. Hallam and FREEMAN, labored under a mistake in supposing that William had introduced or imposed a new feudal law, or that the vassals of a lord swore allegiance to the king. The introduction to the laws of William I. shows that it was not a new enactment, or a Norman custom introduced into England, and the law itself proves that it relates to FREEMEN, and not to vassals.

The misapprehension of these authors may have arisen in this way: William I. had two distinct sets of subjects. The NORMANS, who had taken the oath of allegiance on obtaining investiture, and whose retinue included vassals; and the ANGLO-SAXONS, among whom vassalage was unknown, who were FREEMAN (LIBERI HOMINES) as distinguished from serfs. The former comprised those in possesion of Odhal (noble) land, whether held from the crown or its tenants. It was quite unnecessary to convoke the Normans and their vassals, while the assemblage of the Saxons - OMNES LIBERI HOMINES - was not only to conformity with the laws of Edward the Confessor, but was specially needful when a foreigner had possesed himself of the throne.

I have perhaps dwelt to long upon this point, but the error to which I have referred has been adopted as if it was an unquestioned fact, and has passed into our school-books and become part of the education given to the young, and therefore it required some examination.

I believe that a very large portion of the land in England did not change hands at that period, nor was the position of either SERFS or VILLEINS changed. The great alteration lay in the increase in the quantity of BOC-LAND. Much of the FOLC-LAND was forfeited and seized upon, and as the king claimed the right to give it away, it was called TERRA REGIS. The charter granted by King William to Alan Fergent, Duke of Bretagne, of the lands and towns, and the rest of the inheritance of Edwin, Earl of Yorkshire, runs thus:

"Ego Guilielmus cognomine Bastardus, Rex Anglise do et concede tibi nepoti meo Alano Brittanias Comiti et hseredibus tuis imperpetuum omnes villas et terras qua nuper fuerent Comitis Edwini in Eborashina cum feodis militise et aliis libertatibus et consuetudinibus ita libere et honorifice sicut idem Edwinus eadem tenuit.

"Data obsidione coram civitate Eboraci."

This charter does not create a different title, but gives the lands as held by the former possessor. The monarch assumed the function of the fole-gemot, but the principle remained - the feudee only became tenant for life. Each estate reverted to the Crown on the death of him who held it; but, previous to acquiring possession, the new tenant had to cease to be his own "man," and became the "man" of his superior. This act was called "homage," and was followed by "investiture." In A.D. 1175, Prince Henry refused to trust himself with his father till his homage had been renewed and accepted, for it bound the superior to protect the inferior. The process is thus described by De Lolme (chap, ii., sec. 1):

"On the death of the ancestor, lands holden by 'knight's service' and by 'grand sergeantcy' were, upon inquisition finding the tenure and the death of the ancestor, seized into the king's hands. If the heir appeared by the inquisition to be within the age of twenty-one years, the King retained the lands till the heir attained the age of twenty-one, for his own profit, maintaining and educating the heir according to his rank. If the heir appeared by the inquisition to have attained twenty-one, he was entitled to demand livery of the lands by the king's officers on paying a relief and doing fealty and homage. The minor heir attaining twenty-one, and proving his age, was entitled to livery of his lands, on doing fealty and homage, without paying any relief."

The idea involved is, that the lands Were HELD, and NOT OWNED, and that the proprietary right lay in the nation, as represented by the king. If we adopt the poetic idea of the Brehon code, that "land is perpetual man," then HOMAGE for land was not a degrading institution. But it is repugnant to our ideas to think that any man can, on any ground, or for any consideration, part with his manhood, and become by homage the "man" of another.

The Norman chieftains claimed to be peers of the monarch, and to sit in the councils of the nation, as barons-by-tenure and not by patent. This was a decided innovation upon the usages of the Anglo- Saxons, and ultimately converted the Parliament, the FOLC-GEMOT, into two branches. Those who accompanied the king stood in the same position as the companions of Romulus, they were the PATRICIANS; those subsequently called to the councils of the sovereign by patent corresponded with the Roman NOBILES. No such patents were issued by any of the Norman monarchs. But the insolence of the Norman nobles led to the attempt made by the successors of the Conqueror to revive the Saxon earldoms as a counterpoise. The weakness of Stephen enabled the greater fudges to fortify their castles, and they set up claims against the Crown, which aggravated the discord that arose in subsequent reigns.

The "Saxon Chronicles," p. 238, thus describes the oppressions of the nobles, and the state of England in the reign of Stephen:

"They grievously oppressed the poor people with building castles, and when they were built, filled them with wicked men, or rather devils, who seized both men and women who they imagined had any money, threw them into prison, and put them to more cruel tortures than the martyrs ever endured; they suffocated some in mud, and suspended others by the feet, or the head, or the thumbs, kindling fires below them. They squeezed the heads of some with knotted cords till they pierced their brains, while they threw others into dungeons swarming with serpents, snakes, and toads."

The nation was mapped out, and the owners' names inscribed in the Doomsday Book. There were no unoccupied lands, and had the possessors been loyal and prudent, the sovereign would have had no lands, save his own private domains, to give away, nor would the industrious have been able to become tenants-in-fee. The alterations which have taken place in the possession of land since the composition of the Book of Doom, have been owing to the disloyalty or extravagance of the descendants of those then found in possession.

Notwithstanding the vast loss of life in the contests following upon the invasion, the population of England increased from 2,150,000 in 1066, when William landed, to 3,350,000 in 1152, when the great-grandson of the Conqueror ascended the throne, and the first of the Plantagenets ruled in England.