Day: September 10, 2015
(Part 1 of a series)
“John … when he heard of the latter chapter, the forty-ninth … is described as having wrought himself into a furious passion and swearing by ‘God’s teeth’ his favourite oath, that we would never agree to such demands on the part of any of them, that he would never enslave himself to any of his barons upon any consideration.”
In 1066 England was won at the point of a sword, that of William the Conqueror of Normandy, who led his army of knights by example and slew many enemy warriors with his own blade. His domestic rule was equally brutal, favouring the cutting off of both hands, or a limb, or both eyes, as punishments for routine offences.
William’s successors, wielding power inherited rather than acquired by force, were also brutal, but ruled more through administrative means. It was a time of population growth and economic expansion, and the feudal bureaucracy grew to take full advantage of the country’s wealth, while the state of law lagged behind. The development of laws and charters, rather than representing the Crown’s authority over the people, would be an expression of the growing liberty of the nobility from the arbitrary power of kings.
It was all about land. There was no big money capital or banks. Land was power, and to a ruler, land was income. The kings granted parcels of lands to their barons in exchange for loyalty, taxes and military service. Strong kings conquered new lands, or at least held onto their inherited ones. Weak kings lost territory to rivals and made up for lost revenue by collecting more from their subjects in the forms of myriad fees and taxes, thereby risking revolt.
John was a weak king. In 1205, the fifth year of his reign, he lost Normandy and the entire continental portion of the Angevin empire, to the French. The rest of his life would be a doomed attempt to recover his lands and his dignity. Read the rest of this entry »
By Melanie Hodges Neufeld
The September 11th edition of Lawyers Weekly digital edition is now available via the Members’ Section of the Law Society website. Articles in this issue include:
- Preparation, passion, persuasion were keys to his winning record
- Battleground to be privilege in SCC cases
- Personal Injury: MVA cases face uphill battles
- News: Rothstein tips on case prep
- Business & Careers: Changing things up