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county, remained lords of their estates, | moulded by foar centuries of Roman on the condition of doing homage for taxation. By their feelings as well as them to the king. Many became vas- by their condition, they were sals of Norman barons, and remained broken remains, but also the living proprietors on this condition. A elements, of a free people. They did greater number became socagers, that not suffer the extremities of oppres is, free proprietors, bur lened with a sion. They constituted the body of tax, but possessed of the right of alien- the nation, the laborious, courageous ating their property; and the Saxon body which supplied its energy. Th villeins found patrons in these, as the great barons felt that they must plebs formerly did in the Italian nobles rely upon them in their resistance to who were transplanted to Rome. The the king. Very soon, in stipulating patronage of the Saxons who preserved for themselves, they stipulated for al their integral position was effective, freemen,* even for merchants and vil for they were not isolated: marriages leins. Thereafter "No merchant shall from the first united the two races, as be dispossessed of his merchandise, ne it had the patricians and plebeians of villein of the instruments of his labor Rome; a Norman brother-in-law to no freeman, merchant, or villein shal a Saxon, defended himself in defend- be taxed unreasonably for a smal ing him. In those turbulent times, crime; no freeman shall be arrested and in an armed community, relatives or imprisoned, or disseized of his land, and allies were obliged to stand shoul- or outlawed, or destroyed in any mander to shoulder in order to keep theirner, but by the lawful judgment of his ground. After all, it was necessary peers, or by the law of the land." for the new-comers to consider their Thus protected they raise themselves subjects, for these subjects had the and act. In each county there was a heart and courage of men: the Sax- court, where all freeholders, smali or ons, like the plebeians at Rome, re- great, came to deliberate about the membered their native rank and their municipal affairs, administer justice, original independence. We can rec- and appoint tax-assessors. The redognize it in the complaints and indig- bearded Saxon, with his clear comnation of the chroniclers, in the growl- plexion and great white teeth, came ing and menaces of popular revolt, in and sate by the Norman's side; these the long bitterness with which they were franklins like the one whom Chau. continually recalled their ancient liber- cer describes : ty, in the favor with which they cherished the daring and rebellion of outlaws. There were Saxon families at the end of the twelfth century, who had bound themselves by a perpetual vow, to wear long beards from father to son in memory of the national custom and of the old country. Such men, even though fallen to the condition of socagers, even sunk into villeins, had a stiffer neck than the wretched colonists of the Continent, trodden down and

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According to Ailred (temp. Hen. II.), king, many bishops an abbots, many great earls and noble knights descended both from English and Norman blood, constituted a support to the one and an honor to the other."

At present," says another author of the same period, "as the English and Normans dwell together, and have constantly intermarried, the two nations are so completely mingled together, that at least as regards freemen, one can scarcely distinguish who is Norman and who English. The villeins attached to the soil," he says Again, are alone of pure Saxon blood."


"A Frankelein was in this compagnie;
White was his berd, as is the dayesie.
Of his complexion he was sanguin,
Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in win.
To liven in delit was ever his wone,
For he was Epicures owen sone,
That held opinion that plein deli
Was veraily felicite parfite.
An housholder, and that a grete was ba,
Seint Julian he was in his contree.

His brede, his ale, was alway after on;
A better envyned man was no wher non.
Withouten bake mete never was his hong
Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drinks
Of all deintees that men coud of thinke;
After the sondry sesons of the yere,
So changed he his mete and his soupers.
Ful many a fat partrich had he in mewe,
And many a breme, and many a luce in sta
Wo was his coke but it his sauce were
Poinant and sharpe, and redy all his gers.
His table, dormant in his halle alway
Stode redy covered alle the longe day.
At sessions ther was he lord and sire.
Ful often time he was knight of the shira.

* Magna Charta, 1215.

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With him occasionally in the assembly, oftenest among the audience, were the yeomen, farmers, foresters, tradesmen, his fellow-countrymen, muscular and resolute men, not slow in he defence of their property, and in upporting him who would take their cause in hand, with voice, fist, and weapons. Is it likely that the discontent of such men, to whom the following description applies, could be overlooked?

The Miller was a stout carl for the nones, Ful bigge he was of braun and eke of bones; That proved wel, for over all ther he came, At wrastling he wold bere away the ram.

He was short shuldered brode, a thikke


Ther n'as no dore, that he n'olde heve of barre,

Or breke it at a renning with his hede.
His berd as any sowe or fox was rede,
And therto brode, as though it were a spade.
Upon the cop right of his nose he hade
A wert, and thereon stode a tufte of heres,
Rede as the bristles of a sowes eres :
His nose-thirles blacke were and wide.
A swerd and bokeler bare he by his side.
His mouth as wide was as a forneis,
He was a jangler and a goliardeis,
And that was most of sinne, and harlotries.
Wel coude he stelen corne and tollen thries,
And yet he had a thomb of gold parde.
A white cote and a blew hode wered he.
A baggepipe wel coude he blowe and soune,
Ani therwithall he brought us out of toune."t

Those are the athletic forms, the square build, the jolly John Bulls of the period, such as we yet find them, nourished by meat and porter, sustained by bodily exercise and boxing. These are the men we must keep before us, if we will understand how

political liberty has been established in this country. Gradually they find the simple knights, their colleagues in the county court, too poor to be present with the great barons at the royal assemblies, coalescing with them. They become united by community of interests, by similarity of manners, by nearness of condition; they take them for their representatives, they

• Chaucer's Works, ed. Sir H. Nicholas, 6 , 1845, Proisgue to the Canterbury Tales, 1. p. 11, 2. 333.

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, ii. p. 17, & 547.

elect them.* They have now entered upon public life, and the advent of a new reinforcement gives them a perpetual standing in their changed posttion. The towns laid waste by the Con quest are gradually repeopled. They obtain or exact charters; the towns men buy themselves out of the arbi trary taxes that were imposed on them; they get possession of the land on which their houses are built; they unite them selves under mayors and aldermer Each town now within the meshes of the great feudal net, is a power. The Earl of Leicester, rebelling against the king, summons two burgesses from each town to Parliament,† to authorize and support him. From that time the conquered race, both in country and If they town, rose to political life. were taxed, it was with their consent; they paid nothing which they did not agree to. Early in the fourteenth century their united deputies composed the House of Commons; and already at the close of the preceding century, the Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in the name of the king, said to the pope, "It is the custom of the kingdom of England, that in all affairs relating to the state of this kingdom, the advice of all who are interested in them should be taken."


If they have acquired liberties, it is because they have obtained them by force; circumstances have assisted, but character has done more. The protec tion of the great barons and the alliance of the plain knights have strengthened them; but it was by their native rough their independence. ness and energy that they mairated Look at the con

trast they offer at this moment to their neighbors. What occupies the mindf the French people? The fabliaux, the naughty tricks of Reynard, the art of deceiving Master Isengrin, of stealing his wife, of cheating him out of his din ner, of getting him beaten by a third party without danger to one's self; in short, the triumph of poverty and clever ness over power united to folly. Th

*From 1214, and also in 1225 and 7. Guizot, Origin of the Representative Some in England, pp. 297–399.

+ In 1364.

and to his face; ready with blows
whether to give or take. He slew
fourteen out of fifteen foresters who
came to arrest him; he slays the sher.
iff, the judge, the town gatekeeper; he
is ready to slay as many more as like
to come; and all this joyously, jovially
like an honest fellow who eats well
has a hard skin, lives in the open air,
and revels in animal life.

"In somer when the shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is fulle mery in feyre foreste
To here the foulys song."

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popular hero is already the artful ple- | draw his bow before the sheriff's eyes beian, chaffing, light-hearted, who later on, will ripen into Panurge and Figaro, not apt to withstand you to your face, too sharp to care for great victories and habits of strife, inclined by the nimbleness of his wit to dodge round an obstacle; if he but touch a man with the tip of his finger, that man tumbles into the trap. But here we have other customs: it is Robin Hood, valiant outlaw, living free and bold in the green forest, waging frank and open war against sheriff and law.* If ever a man was popular in his country, it was he. "It is he," says an old historian, "whom the common people love so dearly to celebrate in games and comedies, and whose history, sung by fiddlers, interests them more than any other." In the sixteenth century he still had his commemoration day, observed by all the people in the small towns and in the country. Bishop Latimer, making his pastoral tour, announced one day that he would preach in a certain place. On the morrow, proceeding to the church, he found the doors closed, and waited more than an hour before they brought him the key. At last a man came and said to him,

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Syr, thys ys a busye day with us; we cannot heare you: it is Robyn Hoodes Daye. The parishe are gone abrode to gather for Robyn Hoode.... I was fayne there to geve place to Robyn Hoode." The bishop was obliged to divest himself of his ecclesiastical garments and proceed on his journey, leaving his place to archers dressed in green, who played on a rustic stage the parts of Robin Hood, Little John, and their band. In fact, he was the national hero. Saxon in the first place, and waging war against the men of law, gainst bishops and archbishops, whose sway was so heavy; generous, moreover, giving to a poor ruined knight clothes, horse, and money to buy back the land he had piedged to a rapacious abbot; compassionate too, and kind to the poor, enjoining his men not to injure yeomen and laborers; but above all rash, bold, proud, who would go and

Aug. Thierry, iv. 56. Ritson's Robin Hood, 1832.

+ Latimer s Sermons, ed. Arber, 6th Sermon, 1869, p. 173.


That is how many ballads begin; and
the fine weather, which makes the stags
and oxen butt with their horns, inspires
them with the thought of exchanging
blows with sword or stick.
dreamed that two yeomen were thrash-
ing him, and he wants to go and find
them, angrily repelling Little John, who
offers to go first:

"Ah John, by me thou settest noe store
And that I farley finde:
How offt send I my men before,
And tarry myselfe behinde?

"It is no cunnin a knave to ken,

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An a man but heare him speake;
And it were not for bursting of my bowe,
John, I thy head wold breake."

He goes alone, and meets the robust
yoeman, Guy of Gisborne :

"He that had neyther beene kythe nor kin,
Might have seen a full fayre fight,
To see how together these yeomen wert
With blades both browne and bright,
"To see how these yeomen together they

Two howres of a summer's day;
Yett neither Robin Hood nor sir Guy

Them fettled to flye away." ↑

You see Guy the yeoman is as brave
as Robin Hood; he came to seek him
in the wood, and drew the bow almost
as well as he. This old popular poetry
is not the praise of a single bandit, but
of an entire class, the yeomanry. "God
haffe mersey on Robin Hodys solle,
"" That is
and saffe all god yemanry.'
how many ballads end. The brave
yeoman, inured to blows, a good archer,
clever at sword and stick, is the favor
ite. There were also redoubtable

Ritson, Robin Hood Ballads, i. iv. v. 41- 48 ↑ Ibid. v. 145-152.

armed townsfolk, accustomed to make | "Who are you, then?" says Robin: use of their arms. Here they are at work:

O that were a shame,' said jolly Robin,
We being three, and thou but one,'
The pinder leapt back then thirty good

'Twas thirty good foot and one.

He leaned his back fast unto a thorn,
And his foot against a stone,
And there he fought a long summer's day,
A summer's day so long.

'Till that their swords on their broad bucklers Were broke fast into their hands."†

Often even Robin does not get the advantage :

** I pass not for length,' bold Arthur reply'd,

My staff is of oke so free;
Eight foot and a half, it will knock down a


And I hope it will knock down thee.'

Then Robin could no longer forbear,
He gave him such a knock,
Quickly and soon the blood came down
Before it was ten a clock.

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The blood came trickling down.

Then Robin raged like a wild boar,

As soon as he saw his own blood:
Then Bland was in hast, he laid on so fast,
As though he had been cleaving of wood.

And about and about and about they went,
Like two wild bores in a chase,
Striving to aim each other to maim,
Leg, arm, or any other place.

'And knock for knock they lustily dealt,
Which held for two hours and more,
Till all the wood rang at every bang,
They ply'd their work so sore.

''Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,' said Robin

And let thy quarrel fall;

For here we may thrash our bones all to mesh,

And get no coyn at all.

And in the forrest of merry Sherwood,
Hereafter thou shalt be free.'

'God a mercy for nought, my freedom I

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I may thank my staff, and not thee." " +

pinder's task was to pin the sheep in the fold, cattle in the pen-fold or pound (RichardRon).-TR.

tRitson, ii. 3, V. 17-26. Taid. 6, 58-89.


"I am a tanner,' bold Arthur reply'd,
'In Nottingham long I have wrought;
And if thou❜lt come there, I vow and swear
I will tan thy hide for nought." "

"God a mercy, good fellow,' said jolly Robin
'Since thou art so kind and free;

And if thou wilt tan my hide for nought
I will do as much for thee.'"*

With these generous offers, they en
brace; a free exchange of honest blows
always prepares the way for friendship
It was so Robin Hood tried Littla
John, whom he loved all his life after
Little John was seven feet high, and
being on a bridge, would not give way
Honest Robin could not use his bow

against him, but went and cut a stick seven feet long; and they agreed amicably to fight on the bridge until one should fall into the water. They fall to so merrily that "their bones ring." In the end Robin falls, and he feels only the more respect for Little John. Another time, having a sword with him, he was thrashed by a tinker who had only a stick. Full of admiration, he gives him a hundred pounds. Again he was thrashed by a potter, who refused him toll; then by a shepherd. They fight to wile away time. Even nowadays boxers give each other a friendly grip before setting to; they knock one another about in this country honorab without malice, fury, or shame. Broken teeth, black eyes, smashed ribs, do not call for murderous vengeance: it would seem that the bones are more solid and the nerves less sensitive in England than else. where. Blows once exchanged, they take each other by the hand, and dance together on the green grass;

"Then Robin took them both by the hands,
And danc'd round about the oke tree.
'For three merry men, and three merry men
And three merry men we be." "

Moreover, these people, in each parish,
practised the bow every Sunday, and
were the best archers in the world,
from the close of the fourteenth cen
tury the general eman ipation of the
villeins multiplied their number great-
ly, and you can now understand how,
amidst all the operations and changes
of the great central powers, the liberty

• Ibid. v. 94-101.

of the subject survived. After all, the only permanent and unalterable guarantee, in every country and under every constitution, is this unspoken declaration in the heart of the mass of the people, which is well understood on all sides: "If any man touches my property, enters my house, obstructs or inolests me, let him beware. I have patience, but I have also strong arms, good comrades, a good blade, and, on occasion, a firm resolve, happen what may, to plunge my blade up to its hilt in his throat."


Thus thought Sir John Fortescue, Chancellor of England under Henry VI., exiled in France during the Wars of the Roses, one of the oldest prosewriters, and the first who weighed and explained the constitution of his country.

He says:

"It is cowardise and lack of hartes and corage that kepeth the Frenchmen from rysyng, and not povertye; which corage no Frenche man hath like to the English man. It hath ben often seen in Englond that iij or iv hefes, for povertie, hath sett upon vij or viij rue men, and robbyd them al. But it hath not ten seen in Fraunce, that vij or viij thefes have ben hardy to robbe iij or iv true men. Wherfor t is right seld that Frenchmen be hangyd for robberye, for that they have no hertys to do so terryble an acte. There be therfor mo men hangyd in Englond, in a yere, for robberye and manslaughter, than ther be hangid in Fraunce for such cause of crime in vij yers."

This throws a startling and terrible light on the violent condition of this armed community, where sudden attacks are an every-day matter, and every one, ich and poor, lives with his hand or his sword. There were great oands of malefactors under Edward I., who infested

*The Difference between an Absolute and Limited Monarchy-A learned Commenda tion of the Politic Laws of England (Latin). I frequently quote from the second work, which is more full and complete.

of life of any.

the country, and for ght with those who came to seize them. The inhabitants of the towns were obliged to gather together with those of the reighboring towns, with hue and cry, to pursue and capture them. Under Edward III. there were barons who rode abou with armed escorts and archers, seiz ing the manors, carrying off ladies and girls of high degree, mutilating, killing, extorting ransoms from people in their own houses, as if they were in an enemy's land, and sometimes com ing before the judges at the sessions in such guise and in so great force that the judges were afraid and dared letters of the Paston family, under not administer justice. Read the Henry VI. and Edward IV., and you will see how private war was at every door, how it was necessary for a man to provide himself with men and arms, to be on the alert for defence of his property, to be self-reliant, to depend on his own strength and courage. It is this excess of vigor and readiness to fight which, after their victories in France, set them against one another in England, in the butcheries of the Wars of the Roses. The strangers who saw them were astonished at their bodily strength and courage, at the great pieces of beef "which fed their muscles, at their military habits, their fierce obstinacy, as of savage beasts." † They are like their bulldogs, an untamable race, who in their mad courage "cast themselves with shut eyes into the den of a Russian bear, and get their head broken like a rotten apple." This strange condition of a militant community, so full of danger, and requiring so much effort, does not make them afraid. King Edward · of the peace to prison without legal having given orders to send disturbers proceedings, and not to liberate them on bail or otherwise, the Commons declared the order "horribly vexatious; " resist it, refuse to be too much protected. Less peace, ut more inde pendence. They maintain the guar

+ The courage which finds utterance here is coarse; the English instincts are combative and independent. The French race, and the Gauls generally are perhaps the most reckless The Difference, etc., îd ed. 1724, ch. xiii.antees of the subject at the expense of P: 98. There are nowadays in France 42 * Statute of Winchester, 1285; Ordinance highway robberies as against 738 in England. In 1843, there were in England four times as many accusations of crimes and offences as in France, having regard to the number of inhabitants (Morean de Fonnès).


Benvenuto Cellini, quoted by Fronde, i. 30 Hist. of England. Shakspeare, Henry V.: conversation of French lords before the battle of Agincourt.

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