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the shire; and, as may be imagined, some of the sheriffs took advantage of the opportunity to make a good thing of their bargain with the king. This practice gave rise to many complaints, and in the course of time most of the towns obtained a separate assessment of their rent and thus precluded the sheriff, where he still continued to receive the rent, from exacting from the town more than the sum specially assessed thereon.

Some towns, however, were farmed to a special custos or committee, and others to the men or burgesses of the town; an arrangement which in the process of time was extended to most of the towns and boroughs in England, who thus freed themselves from the grasping hand of the sheriff, and obtained from the king charters granting the town or borough to the townsmen or burgesses at a rent separate from that of the county. This was termed the FIRMA BURGI, the rent of the town, and the townsmen collected the amount, with any increment (crementum firmae), due, by apportionment among themselves, and paid it directly into the exchequer.

Over and above all rent payable by them, all the tenants of ancient demesne, rural and urban, were, as such, under an obligation to assist the king on any occasion of extraordinary expense, but more particularly, after an expedition, when the extent of their liability went even to the tenth part of their goods.

In addition to this revenue from the demesne, the king had special prerogatives with a view to the maintenance of a magnificent court; such were—Purveyance, the right to impress carriages and horses for the

service of the king in removing his household or in the conveyance of timber, baggage and goods ; Pre-emption, the right to purchase provisions and other necessaries for the royal household at an appraised value ; and Prisage, the right to take a cask or two casks, according to the amount of the cargo, from wine-laden ships on their arrival at a port.




Gradual establishment of the feudal system in England. Military service

by the knight's fee. The feudal aids. Incidents and casualties of the feudal system. Other items of revenue under the Norman kings and their successors.

AFTER the Norman Conquest, when, in process of time, the continental feudal system had become established in England, the king derived a considerable revenue from the incidents and casualties of the feudal tenures, a source of income which, sometimes in abundant, sometimes in diminished yield, continued to flow for five centuries and a half, and was only dried up when the court of wards and liveries, created subsequently by Henry VIII, for the supervision of this revenue, was abolished practically at the outbreak of the Civil War.

This system was established in England gradually, and not so much by the will of the Conqueror as by the force of circumstances. William had seen, in France, the difficulties of government involved in a system in which the king was primus inter pares, and for that reason, as well as in view of the hereditary claim he advanced, was desirous to govern the kingdom as it had been governed under previous kings. When, therefore, after the battle of Senlac he confiscated the lands of all who had fought for Harold, and portioned out some of them to the participators in the conquest and allowed others to be redeemed at a price by former owners willing to submit to him, he did not introduce, in regard to these lands, any distinct alteration in tenure. Nevertheless, it is clear that such an alteration in the ownership of lands must have involved, if only in regard to the lands held by the Normans, some approximation in tenure to that with which they were familiar on the continent—the application, to a greater or less degree, of the principles of the continental feudal system. The leaven began to work ; and as more Normans were settled on the lands confiscated in consequence of the revolt of the English against the justices regent in the absence of the Conqueror, the feudal principle was more fully enforced and more extensively applied. William found it impossible to rule in England without Norman landowners, and the Normans found it impossible to hold their own in the island, except upon a feudal footing. Further revolts of the English led to a process of confiscations and redistribution of land, in which we see the feudal principle gaining additional strength and extending itself more and more. The current of change was quickened by the alarm of Danish invasions. Many English followed the example of the Norman landowners; and, in the result, before the survey was recorded in Doomsday Book, all the landowners of the kingdom were placed in the position of vassals to the king or some tenant of the king; and under William Rufus, the red king, feudalisın became established in this country.

The feudal system, the result of the efforts of the individual to protect himself amidst the anarchy that prevailed in Western Europe after the destruction of civilisation by the Northern barbarians, was a Land League formed upon a basis of mutual protection, with a king-in-chief. The weaker placed himself under the protection of the more powerful landowner, and acknowledged to hold from him and be his man ; while his lord, in turn, stood in a similar relation to some more powerful landowner, or to the most powerful, and supreme lord, the king. As may be supposed, the principal feature of the system consisted in the obligation of the vassal to protect his lord and aid him in fight, with the corresponding security of receiving protection from him. The relations between the sub-kings of the system, as they have been termed, and their tenants and vassals have only an incidental interest from our present point of view ; but as between the king and the landowners holding from him, this obligation of assistance in war, at first unlimited, or at any rate ill-defined, gradually grew, by arrangement and composition, into a fixed service of a knight for every holding sufficient to support a knight. The area of land that would suffice for the purpose varied, of course, in amount, for there are lands and lands; but it has been usually taken at about four or five hides, and the annual value was fixed at 201.: the KNIGHT'S FEE was twenty librates of land; and upon this basis proceeded service by knightly tenure and the assessment of the knightly tenants of the king-in-chief. The time of service was also limited :-Every tenant of the

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