« НазадПродовжити »
The year of his death may be noticed as the date at which be. gan the decline of the Anglo-Saxon greatness. Edward, his youthful successor, shortly fell a victim to the cruelty and ambition of a step-mother; and in the time of Ethelred, second on the throne after the powerful Edgar, the foreign Danes, who had long refrained from molesting England, renewed their incursions; and were so successful as to lay the foundation of a new monarchy in this island. Edmund (surnamed Ironside, from his hardihood) the illegitimate son of Ethelred, was only in possession of a crown divided with the Danish Canute, at his death in 1016. After an interruption from the Danish ascendancy, Edward the Confessor, son of the same Ethelred, mounted the throne in 1041. The reign of this prince is of some importance with the antiquary, but is deserving of little respect from the general historian. In the person of Harold the Second, who was slain in opposing William, Duke of Normandy, in the year 1066, we behold the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings.
Before we enter on a notice of the architectural, and other antiquities, ascribed to the Anglo-Saxon ages, it appears desirable to present some remarks concerning such regulations of the civil polity adopted by that people, as still operate on the political and ecclesiastical divisions of the country. It may be equally acceptable to add a succinct review of such parts of their legal code, as assist in conveying explicit ideas of the state of society, when the castle, whose presumed ruins are shortly to be examined, was erected for the protection of the Anglo-Saxon sovereign or noble, and the ecclesiastical structure founded, as a monument of his piety. Much difficulty occurs in appropriating, with a security of correctness, such architectural remains to these obscure ages. The vestiges of their civil regulations are less equivocal, and do, indeed, constitute a species of moral antiquities, which the judicious topographer and antiquary can scarcely fail to deem worthy of attentive consideration. These subjects may be treated under the heads of, “ The Anglo
Saxon Civil Divisions of England ;” and, “ Remarks on the Laws of the Anglo-Saxons."
ON THE ANGLO-SAXON CIVIL DIVISIONS OF ENGLAND.The division of England into tythings, hundreds, and counties, has been generally attributed to Alfred. But this supposition appears to be erroneous, as the tything and shire existed in Britain some ages before the reign of that illustrious monarch, and are recognised by the laws of Ina, king of the West Saxons, before the close of the seventh century. It is probable that they formed part of the polity brought from Germany, by the Saxons, as they appear to have existed at an early period among the Francs, and other contemporary nations.*
The circumstance of so judicious a civil division of territory being almost universally added to the other glories of Alfred, will be easily accounted for, if we depend on the assertion of Ingulphus, whose authority is accepted by Sir William Dugdale, and other writers. It is said by Ingulphus, that Alfred compiled a survey similar to that afterwards produced by order of the Norman Conqueror, in which the lands of the kingdom were first regularly classed in their respective shires and hundreds. This work is believed to have existed at Winchester, on the advent of the Normans, but is since lost. That Alfred reduced the political divisions to more regular order, and perhaps completed the arrangement of neglected or disputed portions of his dominions, appear to be the conclusions arising from an investigation of the authorities on this subject. In order to revive a clear idea of the nature of these several divisions, it may be desirable to take a cursory view of each.
• That hundreds existed among the Germans, may be gathered from Taci. tus, who, in his work de morib. Germ. describes a hundred-court with great exactness.
+ Pref. to Antiquities of Warwickshire.
The Tything consisted of an association of ten free-men, householders, answerable for each other. * By this institution every free master of a family became a Friborg, or frankpledge, to the government, for the good and peaceable behaviour of all the persons withiu it; a measure which is asserted by our ancient historians to have been necessary, for “ that, by example of the Danes, the natural inhabitants were greedy of spoil, so that no man could passe to and fro in safety, with. out defensive weapons.”+ That public outrages would be very frequent among a people inured to war, and torn by petty contentions and predatory incursions, will be readily imagined. This may be supposed to have led to the method of insuring peace by the formation of tythings. The Friborg, thus, not only gave security for his own behaviour, but had nine neighbouring masters of families for his sponsors. Over these ten householders, thus associated, was appointed a Dean, or Tything man, who received their recognizances, and held a court for the regulation of his district. I
• Tythings, towns, and vills, are used as synonimous ternis. In process of time, by the increase of inhabitants, there arose small appendages to these towns, called humlets ; and the distinctions of entire vills, demi-vills, and hamlets, are noticed so early as 14. Edward I. (Blackst. Comm. Vol. I. p. 115.) Sir Henry Spelman considers that an entire vill consisted of ten freemen, or frank-pledges; demi-vills of five ; and hamlets of less than five. (Gloss. 274.)
+ Dugd. Warw, after Will. Malins. f. 24. a, 11. 40.
# It is maintained by Mr. Whitaker (Hist. Manch. Vol. II. p. 113, et seq.) that the Friborg of the Saxons was not the master of a common family, but the proprietor of a lordship, or the chieftain of a township, of which all the inhabitants were his servants, engaged in the ministries of his house, or employed in the care of his cattle, or lands. From Mr. Whitaker's reasoning on this subject, which is pursued with much ingenuity, he would wish to infer that the Saxon tything was nothing more than the manor of the present days, of which the ten families that were incorporated into the deanery, became the ten lordships. The seignior of a tything would, thus, become what the
The southern parts of England were further divided into hundreds. A hundred was formed by the incorporation of ten tythings. These, it may be supposed, originally contained at least one hundred (which, in Saxon numeration, means 120*) free householders, who were respectively eurolled in the different decennaries. That the hundreds were originally regulated by the population, may be with certainty inferred from the great number of hundreds in the counties first peopled by the Saxons. Thus, when Domesday was compiled, Kent and Sussex each contained more than sixty hundreds, as they still continue to do. While, in Lancashire, a county comprising a greater area than either, there are no more than six hundreds; and, in Cheshire, only seven. This irregularity in the distribution of territory, is, indeed, perceptible throughout the whole kingdom.t
lord of a manor continues to be, the one regent and justiciary of the district, and his court the one tribunal for the manor. The manerial judicature is, certainly, denominated The view of Frank-pledge, and the Tything-court.
• Vide Domesday Book, Vol. I. In Civ. Linc. + The irregularity is so great, that, while several hundreds do not exceed a square wile in area, nor a population of 1000 persons, the hundreds of Lancashire average at 300 square miles in area, and one of them (Salford handred) includes at present a population of 250,000. To remedy this striking irregularity, an attempt was made, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, by ordaining Divisions (called, also, limits, or circuits) the existence of which is more or less manifest in most of the English counties. These divisions seem to have been formed by a junction of small, or a partition of large, hundreds, as was required by each particular case. To reform ancient customs, which have been long associated with the occurrences of common life, is, however, an inconvenient task. An instance of this occurs in Wales, several of the counties of which principality were erected, by act of Parliament, in 1535; and the ancient districts called Cantrefs and Commots were altered into hundreds, by virtue of a commission under the great seal. This alteration met, however, with much unexpected difficulty; and, although extended periods were allowed for its taking effect, yet the new counties and hundreds exbibit more instances of indistinct boundary, that is, of parishes and townships not conterininous with the county or hundred, than do the
The hundred was governed by an officer who at stated periode held in it the hundred court for the trial of causes, subject, how. ever, to the control of the king's courts. At this period the cus. tom of rendering the hundred responsible for robberies committed between suu and sun, is believed to have had its origin. In the northern counties, formerly so much exposed to hostile invasion, a distinct division of territory was adopted in the place of hundreds, under the names of wards and wapentakes. *
A Shire, or County, is composed of an indefinite number of hundreds. Shire is a Saxon word signifying a division. The term County, (Comitatus) is unquestionably derived from Comes, the couut of the francs; an officer of similar jurisdiction with the earl, (eorl) or alderman, (ealdorman) of the Saxons, to whom the government of the shire was entrusted.f This government the earl usu. ally exercised by his deputy, called the sheriff, shrieve, or shirereeve. The precise time at which the Saxons introduced the divi. sion by counties into England, is unknown; but such a division cer
ancient counties; while the remembrance of the abolished Cantrefs and Commols, still occasionally creates some confusion. (Prel. Observ. Pop. Abstract 1811.)
* The latter division is thought to bave acquired its name from the custom of the inhabitants assembled together at a public meeting, confirming their union with the governor, by touching his weapon, or lance.
+ It frequently occurs that portions of a county are separated from the main body, and insulated by the surrounding shires. This is supposed to have arisen from their originally belonging, before the limits of counties were absolutely settled, to sume powerful person, whose residence was far distant; and which, therefore, in old assessments, were rated in the county wbere bis mansion lay. These lands continuing so taxed, became a reputed part of that shire. The same observation may be applied to insulated por. tions of parishes and hundreds. Dugd. Warw. p. 441, 556.
In the Saxon times the Bishop sate in the county court with the earl, and in the shrieves-turn with the shirieve, as he did also with the lord of the hundred in the hundred court. Pref, Dagd. Warw. &c.