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and the king, William required from the vassal the oath of fealty or allegiance; and thus he retained an acknowledgment of allegiance which secured his power even over the immediate followers of his nobility. In this respect the policy of William was more far-sighted than that of feudal princes of the Continent, where the sub-vassals did not swear allegiance to the lord paramount; an omission that, in the course of time, rendered the great feudal dukes and princes of Burgundy and Artois, Provence and Brittany, almost independent of the Crown of France. Besides the render of armed knights and men incident to lands held by knight-service, there were other inci
dents attached to the feudal relation, both between the .
king and his tenants in capite, and between the latter and their tenants. The exaction of these soon led to great oppression; and to reduce them within fixed and reasonable bounds, became one of the principal purposes of Magna Charta. They were known as-1. Aids; 2. Relief; 3. Primer-seisin; 4. Wardship; 5. Marriage; 6. Fines upon alienation; 7. Escheat. 1. Aids were pecuniary contributions which the tenant was bound to make on three occasions:—to ransom the person of the lord if taken prisoner; to make his eldest son a knight; and to marry his eldest daughter, by providing a suitable portion for her. 2. Relief was a composition or fine, payable by the heir on his coming into the possession of his land by the death of his ancestor, if he had at that time attained the age of twenty-one years. But this was chiefly applicable to the tenants of mesne (or middle) lords holding by subinfeudation; and in the case of tenants in capite of the king, was superseded by—3. Primer-seisin, which was incident to the king's tenants in capite only. It was the right the king had, when any of his tenants died leaving an heir of full age, to receive one year's profits of the lands, as a fine on his succession to the inheritance. But if the heir was under twenty-one being a male, or under fourteen being a female, the king or lord was entitled to,
1066-1087.] SOCAGE. 29
4thly, the Wardship of the heir, and was called Guardian in chivalry; and until the heir, if a son, attained twenty-one, or if a daughter, sixteen, the guardian had possession of the lands, and received the rents and profits without accounting, but maintaining the heir according to his or her rank. When the heir came of age, if he was a tenant in capite of the Crown for a knight's-fee, he received the order of knighthood, which he was compellable to receive or to pay a fine to the king. 5. Marriage was the right to dispose of the infant in marriage. If the lord tendered the infant a suitable marriage and it was refused, the lord was entitled to the value of the marriage, or as much as any one would give, or a jury assess for the alliance; and if the infant married without consent, double the value of the marriage was forfeited to the lord. 6. Fines upon alienation were payable to the lord whenever the tenant alienated his land to another. These were payable only by the king's tenants in capite, who could not alienate their lands without the king's license. 7. Escheat was the dissolution of the tenure, and the return of the land to the lord if the tenant died without heirs, or if his blood became corrupted through the commission of treason or felony. Besides the tenure by knight-service there was a tenure in which the lands were held immediately of the Crown, called TENURE BY SERJEANTY. This was of two sorts, Grand Serjeanty and Petit-Serjeanty. Instead of the render of armed knights, the render for Grand-Serjeanty, which was a military tenure, was the performance of some services immediately to the king, as to carry his standard, to be his marshal or constable, his butler, chamberlain, or some great officer. The services of Petit-Serjeanty were of an inferior kind, and it was not a military tenure, but a tenure In socage. Land held in SocAGE comprised such of the demesnes of the Crown, or of a baron or lord, as they had granted or parted with for other considerations than those of military services, such as rents in money or in produce. It was devoted to husbandry, and cultivated by soemen, or husbandmen, from whence it probably took its name." The proprietors of these lands were freeholders; and the tenure was hereditary on the condition of paying the rent in money or in kind, reserved by the lord when the land was granted. Lands held in socage were not subject to the prerogatives of wardship, marriage, and relief, but were delivered at the death of the owner to the heir if of age, if not, to his guardians. There were also tenants of the king's and lord's demesnes, who were merely occupiers of land; holding at will, or at most for life, or for years, but without any hereditary right. These were called villein-tenants of the lordship or manor; such as afterwards became CoPYHold ERs, or tenants by Copy of the Rolls of the Manor-Court or CourtBaron. The terms of their tenancies were recorded by the lord's steward on the roll, a copy of which, signed by the steward, was the tenant's proof of his tenancy. Copyholds in time became hereditary, subject to the performance of the customs of the manor, and payment of fines to the lord. There were also tenants by Burgage-TENURE, which was a tenure in socage. These, under the names of Cives and Burgenses, were the holders of tenements in cities and boroughs, under the Crown or the lord of the borough, by certain rents or services according to the custom of the several cities or boroughs to which they belonged.” The cities and boroughs, after the Conquest, became part of the demesne of the Crown; but many of them were afterwards granted to the barons, who became lords of the boroughs.” The adoption of the feudal system was accompanied by a
1 Spelman, on Parliaments.
* Peers' Report, vol. i. p. 33.
* It may be interesting to see the names of the cities and boroughs which existed at the time of the Conquest; London, Winchester, Abingdon, and a few others are not mentioned in Domesday Book, having been omitted, as is supposed, because charters of immunity had
1066–1087.] DOMESDAY BOOK. 31
survey of all the landed property of the kingdom. That
been granted to them, or because they had compounded for all dues
Dover. Shaftesbury. Huntingdon. Derby. Norwich.
Lewes. Oxford. Stafford. Grantham. Dunwich.
Bridport. Hereford. The Wiches. Maldon).
Wareham. Cambridge. Nottingham. Colchester. * Ellis, p. 343.−The Saxon chronicler gives a curious history of this survey —“The King had a large meeting and very deep consultation with his council about this land, how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men all over England in each shire, commissioning them to find out ‘how many hundreds of hydes were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the lands; or what dues he ought to have by the * from the shire." Ako he commission” them to record in writing, ‘how much land and his chiefs supplied him with men and arms, but the money and provisions necessary for war were provided by taxation of the people. The demesnes of the Crown, and the aids and reservations which flowed from the feudal lands, afforded means sufficient for ordinary occasions; but when extraordinary expense, such as that of war, was to be incurred, William possessed and exercised the power of TALLAGE, which, under the name of Taille, was incident to the feudal system on the Continent, taxation undefined in amount, but bounded by a custom that it should be reasonable. The tenants-in-chief of the Crown were exempt from tallage, because they were bound by the tenure of their land to serve as soldiers. But all those landholders who were exempt from military service, including the tenants of the king's demesnes, the burgage-tenants of the king's cities and boroughs, the villein-tenants of the king, —and the holders of all lands of socage-tenure, were liable to tallage. The king also increased his revenue by levying duties on imports and exports, which were often extended by the mere power of the Crown, especially on imports and exports by foreign merchants." The ancient Germans and our Saxon ancestors, as we have seen, enjoyed the right of meeting and advising their king in council; so, in all countries where the feudal system has been established, a national council, under the names of States-General, Cortez, the Grand-Assize, or Parliament, gradually arose. The Conqueror and his successors had assemblies differently constituted under the names
his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, and abbots, and earls;” and though I may be prolix and tedious, ‘what and how much each man had who was an occupier of land in England, either in land or in stock, and how much money it were worth.' So very narrowly indeed did he commission them to trace it out, that there was not a single hide, nor a yard of land, may, moreover (it is shameful to tell, though he thought it no shame to do it,) not even an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was there left that was not set down in his writ.” (Saxon Chronicle, p. 299.) * Peers' Report, vol. i. p. 26.