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of conquest of a foreign country, but as the overthrow of traitors in rebellion against their rightful lord.
$ 23. Legal changes under William the Conqueror. It is in the light of this position thus taken by William that we must view his dealings with the new country which the fortune of war had placed under his control. It was never his desire to make many radical changes in the construction of English government, or to force Norman institutions, with one great exception, upon the English people. His power as King of England was greater than it had been as Duke of Normandy and he was in the main, satisfied to let "well enough alone.” One great defect, however, in the English system was clearly seen by William. It was a defect of whose existence in the past he had
reason to complain, for it was due to the existence of this defect that victory had come to him at Senlac. This very reason, however, made him determine to remedy it for the future. The great defect in Anglo-Saxon political organization was its failing to provide any satisfactory military organization. To remedy this William proceeded to introduce the Norman Feudal System into England. It is a much mooted question, and one which it is not necessary to discuss here, at length, as to whether the Feudal System had existed in England prior to the Norman conquest. The answer to this question probably would depend upon what definition we give to this far-spreading institution; this most striking characteristic of European Medieval History. Perhaps as accurate a statement of the matter as could be made would be to say that Anglo-Saxon England had possessed this system, but in a rudimentary degree, and in a form which signally failed to provide for the creation of a military organization. The introduction of the Norman Feudal System, which remedied this defect, was rendered easy by treating as traitors all those who opposed the ascension of William the Conqueror to the throne and confiscating their property. In this manner nearly all the land of England passed into the control of the King, who divided it among his followers, under the system of land tenure and military service to which they were already accustomed in Normandy. A few changes were made, however, in the details of the Feudal system, with the intention of counteracting the disintegrating tendencies which had begun to make themselves manifest in Normandy. The sub-tenants were obliged to swear fealty to the King as well as to their lord, while the manors which he bestowed upon his barons were scattered over the kingdom, so that in no one district should the territory of any one man be great enough to tempt him to rebellion.
William continued to call the Ancient National Assembly at the accustomed times and places; these were attended by the Archbishops, Abbots, Earls, Thanes and Knights. With the growth of the feudal system, however, this National Council gradually changed from the old Saxon Witenagemote into the Curia Regis, an assembly of Feudal barons. William also continued in force the so-called laws of Edward the Confessor; by this should be understood the laws that were observed during the reign of that king, i. e., the laws of Dunstan and Canute. Some changes he was necessarily obliged to make in these laws, but the number of these changes was surprisingly few. Although the Normans and English were considered equal in law, a distinction was allowed in some instances. The Normans were accustomed to trial by the wager of battle; the Anglo-Saxon by the ordeal and the compurgation. Each race was permitted in general trial by its own customs. The lives of the Normans were protected by heavy fines levied upon any hundred in which a Norman was found murdered. Capital punishment and the sale of men into foreign slavery were prohibited. The Civil and Ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the courts of law were separated, but except for the absence of the Bishop the county and hundred courts were constructed nearly as formerly.
$ 24. The Norman kings.The reign of William Rufus, the second of the Norman Kings of England, was notable mainly for the King's wasteful expenditure of money obtained by tyrannical exactions from the people, and for the beginning of that long struggle between the Royal and Feudal powers which, playing the one off against the other, brought each party at times to the point where they were compelled to seek aid from the Commonalty of England; it was to these causes more than to any other that the revival of the liberties of the English people after the Norman conquest can be traced. Upon the death of William the disputed succession of Henry the First to the throne threw him for support upon the English people. With their assistance Henry was enabled not only to make good his claims to the throne of England against those of his brother Robert, but also to wrest from the latter his hereditary Duchy of Normandy, and to resist the power of the great feudal barons of England. His concessions to the people were contained in his Charter of Liberties, a more liberal document than the Magna Charta, but one which soon became generally disregarded.
The reign of Henry the First was on the whole despotic; he was not a law-giver nor did he entrust the National Council with any power of legislating. However, he did much towards organizing the judicial system of the country, leading the way for the more important and far-reaching reforms of the second IIenry. Henry the First also granted charters to the boroughs and the board guilds, both of which were afterwards to play an important part in strengthening the commonalty of England. With the twenty years of anarchy incident to the disputed succession between Stephen and Maud, the fortunes of war swayed backwards and forwards between the contesting parties, and the contest was finally ended by the conditions of the treaty of Wallingford, giving the throne to Stephen, and the succession to Henry, son of Maud. Throughout the whole period, whoever for the moment sat upon the English throne, the English nobles seized the opportunity offered by the troubled times to strengthen their position and to extend their power and privileges, both at the
expense of the Royal prerogative and the rights of the people. It was an undoing of the centralizing work of Henry the First,
$ 25. Legal reforms of Henry the Second.—The nationalization of England was finally accomplished during the reign of Henry the Second. From the first landing of Hengist and Horsa the unification of the various divergent races inhabiting England had constantly been one of the great problems of all English rulers. Scarcely had the task seemed to be performed than a new immigration would create a new aspect of the same problem.
Searcely had Angles, Saxons and Jutes been united under a common rule, than the invasion from the north brought forward the contest between Anglo-Saxon and Dane. The fusion of these races only slightly preceded the Norman invasion. The bitterest of all contests, that between Saxon and Norman, had not yet ceased to exist by the time of the accession of Henry the Second. The Angevin descent of Henry the Second had the fortunate effect of causing the new King to sympathize neither with the Norman or the Saxon as against the other, with the result that during his reign all disturbances between the two races gradually passed away and the two were gradually fused into a new united nation.
The first great problem presented to the new ruler was the subjugation of the English barons, who, during the recent disturbances had attempted to advance their position from that of English subjects into that of semi-independent feudal lords. The successful termination of this task left him at liberty for his greatest work of organizing and developing the English judicial system. A brief summary of the work done along this line during his reign is as follows: The judicial duties of the Curia Regis were first separated from its legislative and executive duties, and a further division of that judicial body was made into the three branches of the Exchequer, Common Pleas, and King's Bench. The itinerant justices, or justices in eyre, were regularly established, later in this reign being succeeded by the judges of Assize and Nisi Prius. In 1176 the country was first divided into regular judicial circuits. To Henry the Second can also be ascribed the introduction of trial by jury and other legal reforms; and the wide extension and regular establishment of the system of Recognition by sworn Inquest, i. e., the finding of facts by a body of impartial witnesses who represented the sentiment of the local community, and who were summoned and examined by an official, who acted under power of the king's writ. From this institution our present trial by jury is lineally descended.
Much new law on the subject of Real Property and Criminal Procedure was enacted during this reign; there is little, however, of importance in the line of Constitutional law. The reign
of Henry the Second may best be described as a benevolent despotism. The reforms of this period were enacted by, and were the work of Henry the Second, rather than of the Great Council.
$ 26. John.-Richard the First, commonly called Richard the Lion-Hearted, spent but a few months of his reign in England, the country being governed during this time by various justices, under whom the Constitutional arrangements organized by Henry the Second worked quietly on with few impediments or changes. The reign of John is characterized by the attempt of that monarch to disregard the rights, both of the barons and the commons of England; the result was a new alignment of forces in England, the barons and people becoming united against the tyranny of the king. This same union of barons and people on the one hand and the royalty on the other was, in the main, to continue to exist down to the period of the War of the Roses. To this union of the nobility and the commons must be assigned in a large measure the retention of the liberties of the people in England after they had been lost by the neighboring people of the Continent. The contest between the king and his subjects finally culminated in that great historical spectacle at Runnymede, where John, finding himself arrayed against practically a solid nation, finally granted to his people that instrument known as one of the three great charters of English liberty, whose importance is further emphasized by its title of "The Great Charter."
$ 27. The Magna Charta.--The granting of the Magna Charta was an event of importance, not only to the barons who assembled at Runnymede, and to their allies among the English people, but to all future generations of the Anglo-Saxon race, and indeed to the whole world. The principles contained in this Charter, as extended and supplemented by the provisions of the later Petition of Rights and Bill of Rights, has ever since served as the fundamental basis of the rights and liberties of the English people, and more than this, have extended their influence to regions of the world of which neither John nor his opponents had ever heard, and have largely served as the ground work upon which the rights of the individual rest in America