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single manor at Ely1. This difficulty has been met by the contention that landowners built as many houses as possible on their allotted space within the town, in order to draw larger rents from their occupants 2. In place of the garrison' theory, an alternative explanation has been put forward that the burgesses appurtenant to rural manors were country folk, who resided on the manor but purchased burgess rights in order to trade freely within the town. But the theory of non-resident burgesses fails to account for those houses in the boroughs from which rural manors were drawing rents, and which therefore must have been permanently occupied. Accordingly, it has been modified to admit "the possibility that some burgesses may have acquitted rural estates of burghal services " 3. On the other hand, attention may be called to the fact that some houses in boroughs did actually serve as lodgings and storehouses for traders. London citizens carried their merchandise every week to markets out of London, at Henley and other places, where they had houses for purposes of storage. This suggests that the tenurial heterogeneity of the 'composite' boroughs may find at any rate a partial explanation on commercial grounds.
Whatever may have been the origin of towns, the Danish Saxons regarded them, in the words of Tacitus 5, "as the influences. defences of slavery and the graves of freedom", and preferred to live in the centre of their open fields. The growth of town-life in England was therefore largely stimulated by foreign influences, and among these the settlement of the Danes has the first place. The Danes recognized the importance of towns, not only as centres of trade, but as fortresses to keep in subjection a conquered and hostile population. Their supremacy in England rested on con
1 Tait in English Hist. Review, xiv. 345.
Ballard, English Borough, 68; English Hist. Review, xxi. 708.
3 For the discussion between Miss Bateson and Mr. Ballard, see English Hist. Review, xx. 143; ibid. xxi. 699, 709. See also Round in Vict. County Hist. Surrey, i. 286, and Vict. County Hist. Herefordshire, i. 297; and Tait in English Hist. Review, xii. 772, xiv. 345.
4 Liber Albus, ed. H. T. Riley (1859), i. 428.
Tacitus, Historia, iv. 64.
federated groups of towns1, of which the most famous was that of the five boroughs of Derby, Lincoln, Leicester, Stamford and Nottingham; these towns dominated Mercia, and were distinguished for their administrative system 2, wealth and commercial importance. The lesson of the Danish invasion was not lost upon Alfred and his successors, and the reconquest of the Danelaw was accompanied at every step by a line of strongholds, which consolidated their advance, and planted in each district a nucleus round which the nascent town could slowly develop. Moreover, the impetus which the Danish settlement gave to English foreign trade contributed to the progress of towns by affording a wider field for their enterprise. It is to Danish influences working in this way that we can trace the rise of Norwich, at one time the chief city in the eastern counties. At the Norman Conquest it possessed no less than twentyfour churches, while the number of burgesses was second only to that of London and York. Situated on a navigable river, the Yare, Norwich lay in the path of commercial intercourse with Northern Europe, and this combined with the settlement of Scandinavian traders to acquire for it wealth and importance.
With the coming of the Normans a new page opened in the history of English towns, and the Conquest was followed by a rapid development of municipal institutions. Its immediate effects were commonly adverse, for houses were ruthlessly destroyed to make room for the feudal castle. Scarcely any town of importance would seem to have escaped partial destruction at the hands of the invaders, and the number of wasted dwellings was often considerable. At Cambridge 27 houses 5 were demolished; at Canterbury 6 II burgages were laid waste in making the city moat; at Northampton 24 out of 60 burgages are described as waste 7; and even at Wallingford 8 houses were destroyed. Ipswich
1 J. J. A. Worsaae, Danes and Norwegians (1852), 31.
2 H. M. Chadwick, Studies on Anglo-Saxon Institutions (1905), 225. The list is given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A.D. 910-924.
4 Norgate, England under the Angevin Kings, i. 40.
5 Clark, Cambridge, 13.
7 Ibid. i. 219.
Domesday Book, i. 2.
8 Ibid. i. 56.
suffered severely. In the time of the Confessor 538 burgesses paid custom to the king; twenty years later there were only 210 burgesses, of whom 100 were so poor that they could only "render to the king's geld but one penny a head "1. But castle-building was not the only reason for the devastation which followed in the wake of the Conquest. At Lincoln 240 houses were 'waste', but while 166 were destroyed on account of the castle, the remaining 74" were rendered waste “because of misfortune, poverty and ravage by fire" 2. Again at Oxford the destruction of houses appears to have been partly due to the advent of the rebel army under Edwin and Morcar in 10653, while at Derby, where the number of burgesses was reduced from 243 to 140, no castle at all appears to have been built 4. None the less the Norman Conquest constituted a decisive landmark in the development of towns; it established the royal power on a firm footing, and by checking the tendencies to feudal disruption it welded England into unity centuries before any country on the continent. William's resolute will enabled him to impress the stamp of his vigorous personality upon the turbulent forces which he successfully controlled. But the influence of any personality is necessarily evanescent, and would not alone have sufficed to extirpate the disintegrating elements in the feudal system. It was reserved for Henry I. to create the institutions and administrative framework which embodied the main contribution made by Norman rulers to the development of the English constitution. His systematic organization of justice and finance, and the establishment of a professional body of administrators from which feudal principles of government had been eliminated, enabled the Crown to extend its authority and make its pressure felt in every part of the country. If the strength and vigour of the central government prevented English towns from attaining the degree of independence shared by the great cities of the German and Italian leagues, it saved them on the other hand from a tumultuous and precarious existence. It afforded oppor1 Domesday Book, ii. 290, 2 Parker, Early History of Oxford, 234. 3 Ibid. 200. A Vict. County Hist. Derbyshire, i. 310.
tunities for unostentatious development and progress, in which quietly and without fear of their powerful neighbours they could turn all their energy and skill to building up their industrial and commercial resources.
The Conquest gave to English towns internal peace, the indispensable condition of their growth; its influence was also felt in more immediate and direct ways. It placed England and Normandy under a single ruler, and the closer relations with the continent which now ensued fostered commercial intercourse and facilitated municipal progress. The influx of aliens, whether merchants or artisans, contributed in the same direction. The biographer of Thomas Becket tells how many natives of the chief Norman cities, Rouen and Caen, settled in London as the foremost town in England, because it was more suited for commerce and better stored with the goods in which they were accustomed to trade "1. Among these aliens was a citizen of Rouen, Gilbert, the father of Becket, who rose to the office of portreeve of London 2; another stranger was Arnald of Cologne, whose grandson became an alderman 3. Aliens also settled in other towns. Norwich contained 41 French burgesses 4, Southampton 655, and at Wallingford 22 houses were inhabited by Frenchmen. This immigration movement had begun before the Norman Conquest, but it now received a great and permanent stimulus.
In other directions also, we have evidence that Norman customs of influences were at work in the making of the borough and in the development of the burghal community. The baronage of the Conquest founded new towns along the unsettled borders of Wales and endowed them with customs of French origin. They have been credited in fact with a definite scheme of town colonization, and even where their charters did not actually create a new borough, they attempted by lavish concessions to attract colonists and so develop centres already established. It is of considerable significance that the new settlers to all appearance were
1 Materials for the History of
4 Domesday Book, ii. 118.
Thomas Becket (Roll Series), iv. 81.
traders and artisans, for they received only a small portion of agricultural land1. In so far as we can trace the introduction of a definitely commercial and industrial element into the towns, we have evidence of a momentous transformation in the nature and composition of eleventh-century boroughs. At the same time Norman customs were also introduced into these towns, and we are told that the tenantsin-chief of the Conqueror worked with the set purpose of reproducing in English boroughs the privileges of the Norman town of Breteuil 2. An attempt has been made to reconstruct the laws on whose pattern the Welsh border towns are supposed to have been modelled. But it is doubtful whether we can determine what customs were really derived from Breteuil. The uniform rent of a shilling, for example, levied upon all burgage tenements, irrespective of their size, need not necessarily have been taken from the customs of Breteuil, since it is also found in boroughs which had borrowed no Norman laws at all3. In any case, however, it still remains certain that a number of English towns were either founded by Normans or brought directly within the sphere of Norman influences. Where these towns did differ from the purely native boroughs was primarily, it would seem, in respect of the conditions of their tenure. The essential feature of ordinary burgage tenure was its mobility, that is, the freedom of the burgess to devise, sell or otherwise alienate his tenement at will. Thus in a fourteenth-century charter burgage tenure is defined as the right of the burgess to sell, pledge or exchange his land without paying fine to the lord 5. This element in the land law of English boroughs was, originally at any rate, unknown even to socage tenure, which seems to have had no power of alienation and only resembles burgage tenure in its comparative immunity from feudal incidents. Now this mobility of tenure was also absent from those boroughs
1 English Hist. Review, xvi. 337 (see next note).
2 M. Bateson, "Laws of Breteuil ", in English Hist. Review, xv. 73, 302, 496, 754; ibid. xvi. 92, 332; ibid. xvii. 284.
3 M. de W. Hemmeon, Burgage Tenure in Mediaeval England (1914), 170. 4 Ibid. 171.
& Charter Rolls, iv. 425. The heir was to pay no relief or heriot, and the burgess was to pay 12d. yearly.