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Medieval England von Bateson, Mary (eBook)

  • Verlag: Merkaba Press
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Medieval England

My object has been to keep social rather than political facts in view, and throughout to supply by illustration from contemporary accounts some of the characteristic detail which is apt to be crowded out in political histories. The story of social evolution may fairly be called the national story. The political story brings to view the procession of great events, the social story the procession of dead ancestors who acted, howsoever humbly, their part in shaping those events. In political history we see the trophies borne along in the triumphal cars, and in social history the groups of ordinary men, women, and children who fill the carriages or stream along on foot. There is not one way, but rather there are many ways of telling a nation's story: the growth of governmental institutions, fluctuations in territorial expansion, the spread of commerce, changes in foreign relations, the history of methods of thought, all make urgent claim to consideration. But not the least truthful measure of progress lies in those superficial indications of civilisation which are set aside as the province of social history. In the medieval Englishman's domesticity there is an epitome of the life of the nation: English private life has its unity, its episodes and catastrophes, which reflect the shifting lights and shadows of the national story. The private history of kings and princes, nobility, clergy and commons, has become now, with the progress of historical study, a theme more easy of treatment than it was a while ago. Changes in the social relations of the classes of men can now be traced, changes that have had their part in shaping the story of a nation, no less than the evolution of the agencies of government, the historic series of victories and defeats, gains and losses of territory, the happy or the luckless political chance, the fateful power of the point of time. A history of medieval civilisation that gives a hurried sequence of events is like a novel which never shows the characters save under the stress of conspiring fate, creatures not mortal because they never sleep or eat. It was certainly not rapidity in the movement of life which gives the English Middle Ages their peculiar colour. - Mary Bateson


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 175
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 6610000019458
    Verlag: Merkaba Press
    Größe: 324 kBytes
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Medieval England


1. The supplanting of the English nobility - 2. Baronial households - 3. Evidences of literary taste among the barons - 4. Nature of their castle-building: armour - 5. Private war: ideas of honour - 6. The military orders - 7. Ladies.

1. It was part of the Conqueror's scheme that as far as possible the whole frame-work of English government and English society should be maintained and made the basis on which the strengthening and systematising Norman genius for government should be set to work. The principle of retention was carried so far that in the distribution of lands to his followers William did not map out the country into compact military districts, suitable for military occupation, but gave as a rule to each Norman the holding of an English predecessor, a holding that had been casually and unsystematically pieced together, whose portions lay scattered far and wide and were held on many various conditions. Surrounded by his own relatives and by adventurers from all parts of Gaul, William was obliged to give to the greedy, but he gave in such a way as not to weaken himself.

The process of supplanting the English nobility and the English official class was carried out with great completeness, though the method of the change varied in different parts of the country. In Kent, the most civilised part, many non-feudal characteristics were allowed to stand, to trouble lawyers in aftertimes: on the marches of Wales and in the least civilised parts of the country the king accepted an unmitigated feudalism, with all its dangers, as the best guarantee, at the moment, of his own peace. He delegated to the lords of lands the sovereign powers he could not exercise himself The great feudalists, whom William endowed, shared with him the racial genius for government, which showed itself not in England only but likewise in Sicily, where at this very time "the best organised and most united" state in Europe was being built up by them. Their law and their architecture are the most eloquent witnesses to their character. Bold and stern, ruggedly simple, what they built was destined to endure.

2. Of their domesticity we can know less even than of the king's. Not a single account of baronial expenses comes from this period or from the next. But the Normans did not create many different types of domestic life. The scheme of the king's household was that of every baron. The "Laws of Edward the Confessor," not always trustworthy, speak truth when they tell us that archbishops, bishops, earls, barons had in their households their knights and servants, namely dapifers, butlers, chamberlains, cooks, bakers. So great an earl as he of Chester is said by Henry of Huntingdon to have owned a third of the kingdom. Whether this be true or not, Ordericus Vitalis has a good deal to say of his style of living. Hugh of Avranches, earl of Chester, "the Wolf," "the Fat," gathered about him a vast household of clerks, knights, and young men: his court was a school of manners of a boisterous kind. A lover of riotous sport, he was before all a lover of minstrelsy, romance, and jest. He engaged the best narrators of historic feats, to spur on the young to rivalry. Gaimar bears out part of this story, and describes his house as open to all, a place where wine flowed like water. The earl's friendship for Anselm proves that his character was many-sided. A careful collection of rather scrappy evidence might show that some of the Norman barons had their peaceful interests which give relief to that picture of their turbule

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