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and William, after his great victory over his revolted barons, had enforced the right of garrisoning their castles. He was
not able to do this in England, while he must have desired to check the building of private castles as far as possible. On the other hand, he had to face the dilemma that no Norman land-holder would be safe in his usurped estates without the shelter of a castle. In this situation we have the elements of the civil strife which burst forth in Stephen's reign, and which was ended by what we may call the anti-castle policy of Henry II.
The rights secured by this able king were often recklessly sold by his successors, but in the reign of Henry III. it was evidently illegal even to fortify an ordinary house with a ditch and stockade without royal permission.
Feudalism was an inevitable phase in the evolution of the Western nations, and it ought neither to be idealised nor execrated. After the break-up of the tribal system the nations of Europe sought refuge in the forms of imperialism which were devised by Charlemagne, and even the small and distant island of England strove to move in the same direction. But the times were not ripe for centralisation on so great a scale, and when the system of the Carlovingian Empire gave way under the inrush of Northmen and Huns, European society would have fallen into ruin had it not been for the institutions of feudalism. These offered,
1 The document which calls itself Leges Henrici Primi, X., I, declares the “castellatio trium scannorum” to be a right of the king. Scannorum is clearly scamnorum, banks. It is noteworthy that a motte-and-bailey castle is actually a fortification with three banks: one round the top of the motte, one round the edge of the bailey, one on the counterscarp of the ditch.
? See the case of Benhall, Close Rolls, ii., 52b (1225).
in place of the old blood bond of the tribe, a social compact which, though itself artificial, was so admirably adapted to the general need that it was speedily adopted by all the progressive nations of Europe. The great merit of feudalism was that it replaced the collective responsibility of the tribe by the individual responsibility of the man to his lord, and of the lord to his man. an age when the decay of mutual trust was the worst evil of society it laid stress on individual loyalty, and insisted that personal honour should consist in the fulfilment of obligations. Being a system so wholly personal, its usefulness depended largely on the nature of the person in power, and it was therefore liable to great abuses.
But it is probable that feudalism worked better on the whole in England than in any other part of Western Europe. The worst evils of French feudalism never appeared in this country, except during the short and disastrous reign of Stephen. The strong kings of the Norman and Plantagenet Houses held in check the turbulence of the barons; and private war was never allowed to become here, as it was on the Continent, a standing evil. To follow out this subject would lead us beyond the limits of this book, but it is interesting to remember that not only the picturesque ruins of our castles, but also the neglected green hillocks of which we have treated in this work, while they point to the skilful machinery by which the Norman Conquest was riveted on the land, bear witness also to something still more important. They tell of a period of discipline and education through which the English people passed, when in spite of much oppression and sometimes even cruelty, seeds of many noble and useful things were sown, from which succeeding generations have garnered the enduring fruit.
THE popuiar meetings of the Anglo-Saxons, those of the hundred and the shire, were held in the open air. Since many of those who attended them had to travel far, some sign was necessary to mark out the place of meeting, and some striking feature, such as a hillock, or a particular tree, or an ancient barrow, was chosen. Thus we have the Shire Oak, near Leeds, which gives its name to the wapentake of Skyrack; and in a charter of Edgar we find the mot-beorh mentioned, and translated Congressionis Collem=the meeting barrow. (M, A., ii.,
, 324.) It does not appear that a hillock was an essential feature of these meeting-places, though this is popularly supposed to be the case, because the "Thing-wall” in Iceland and the“ Tynwald" in the Isle of Man have hillocks from which laws were proclaimed. The Thingwall, or field of meeting in Iceland had a natural rock just above it, isolated by a stream, and though proclamations were made from this rock, deliberations took place on the level. (Gomme's Primitive Folk-Moots, 31.)
The Tynwald Hill, in the Isle of Man, which is also still used for the proclamation of new laws, was probably an ancient barrow, as there are other barrows in the immediate neighbourhood. (Kermode and Herdman, Illustrated Notes on Manx Antiquities, pp. 23 and 61.) At Thingwall, near Liverpool, and Thingwall in Wirral, both probably Norse settlements, there is no hillock.
In Scotland, the use of a former motte as a meeting-place for the baronial court appears to have been much more common than in England. Mr George Neilson's explanation of this fact is referred to in Chapter X., P. 307.
WATLING STREET AND THE DANELAGH
It has been pointed out by Schmid (Gesetze der Angelsachsen, xxxviii.) that the document called Alfred and Guthrum's Peace cannot belong to the year of Guthrum's baptism at Wedmore; and Mr J. R. Green (Conquest of England, p. 151) goes further, and doubts whether the boundaries laid down in this deed refer to anything except to the East Anglian kingdom of Guthrum. But Mr Green gives no adequate reason for rejecting the generally accepted conclusion that the Watling Street was the boundary between English and Danish Mercia, which is borne out by the following facts: (1) the Danish confederacy of the five boroughs, Lincoln, Stamford, Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby, pretty well covers the part of Mercia north of Watling Street, especially when Chester is added, as it sometimes is, to the list; (2) the division into wapentakes instead of hundreds, now believed to be of Danish origin, is found in Lincolnshire, Notts, Derbyshire, Rutland, Leicestershire, and Northamptonshire. Staffordshire, it is true, is not divided into wapentakes, but it was apparently won by conquest when Ethelfeda fortified the town. Chester was occupied by her husband in 908. Watling Street furnishes such a well-defined line that it was natural to fix upon it as a frontier.
THE MILITARY ORIGIN OF ALFRED'S BOROUGHS
KEUTGEN (Untersuchungen über den Ursprung der Deutschen Stadtverfassung, 1895) appears to have been the first to notice the military origin of the Old Saxon boroughs; and Professor Maitland saw the applicability of the theory to the boroughs of Alfred and Edward the Elder. (Domesday Book and Beyond.)