« TrướcTiếp tục »
marked, that in all ancient times the raising of corn, especially wheat, being a species of manufactory, that commodity always bore a higher price, compared to cattle, than it does in our times'. The Saxon Chronicle tells us, that in the reign of Edward the confessor there was the most terrible famine ever known; insomuch that a quarter of wheat rose to sixty pennies, or fifteen shillings of our present money. Consequently it was as dear as if it now cost seven pounds ten shillings. This much exceeds the great famine in the end of queen Elizabeth; when a quarter of wheat was sold for four pounds. Money in this last period was nearly of the same value as in our time. These severe famines are a certain proof of bad husbandry.
On the whole, there are three things to be considered, wherever a sum of money is mentioned in ancient times. First, the change of denomination, by which a pound has been reduced to the third part of its ancient weight in silver. Secondly, the change in value by the greater plenty of money, which has reduced the same weight of silver to ten times less value, compared to commodities ; and consequently a pound sterling to the thirtieth part of the ancient value. Thirdly, the fewer people and less industry which were then to be found in every European kingdom. This circumstance made even the thirtieth part of the sum more difficult to levy, and caused any sum to have more than thirty times greater weight and influence, both abroad and at home, than in our times; in the same manner that a sum, a hundred thousand pounds, for instance, is at present more difficult to levy in a small state, such as Bavaria, and can produce greater effects on such a small community than on England. This last difference is not easy to be calculated: but allowing that England has now six times more industry, and three times more people than it had at the conquest, and for some reigns after that period, we are upon that supposition to conceive, taking all circumstances together, every sum of money mentioned by historians, as if it were mul1 Fleetwood, p. 83. 94. 96.98.
m P. 157.
tiplied more than a hundredfold above a sum of the same denomination at present.
In the Saxon times land was divided equally among all the male children of the deceased, according to the custom of gavelkind. The practice of entails is to be found in those times". Land was chiefly of two kinds, bockland, or land held by book or charter, which was regarded as full property, and descended to the heirs of the possessor; and folkland, or the land held by the ceorles and common people, who were removable at pleasure, and were indeed only tenants during the will of their lords.
The first attempt which we find in England to separate the ecclesiastical from the civil jurisdiction, was that law of Edgar, by which all disputes among the clergy were ordered to be carried before the bishop. The penances were then very severe; but as a man could buy them off with money, or might substitute others to perform them, they lay easy upon the rich.
With regard to the manners of the Anglo-Saxons we can say little, but that they were in general a rude, uncultivated people, ignorant of letters, unskilled in the mechanical arts, untamed to submission under law and government, addicted to intemperance, riot, and disorder. Their best quality was their military courage, which yet was not supported by discipline or conduct. Their want of fidelity to the prince, or to any trust reposed in them, appears strongly in the history of their later period; and their want of humanity in all their history, Even the Norman historians, notwithstanding the low state of the arts in their own country, speak of them as barbarians, when they mention the invasion made upon them by the duke of Normandy. The conquest put the people in a situation of receiving slowly, from abroad, the rudiments of science and cultivation, and of correcting their rough and licentious manners.
n LL. Ælf. sect. 37. apud Wilkins, p. 43. • Wilkins, p. 83. P Ibid. p. 96, 97. Spel. Concil. p. 473. 4 Gul. Pict. p. 202.
KS. OF SPAIN.
OTHING could exceed
battle of Hastings.
nation which seized the English, when Consequenthey received intelligence of the un- ces of the fortunate battle of Hastings, the death of their king, the slaughter of their principal nobility and of their bravest warriors, and the rout and dispersion of the remainder. But though the loss which they had sustained in that fatal action was considerable, it might have been repaired by a great nation; where the people were generally armed, and where there resided so many powerful noblemen in every province, who could have assembled their retainers, and have obliged the duke of Normandy to divide his army, and probably to waste it in a variety of actions and rencounters. It was thus that the kingdom had formerly resisted for many years its invaders, and had been gradually subdued by the continued efforts of the Romans, Saxons, and Danes; and equal difficulties might have been apprehended by William in this bold and hazardous enterprise. But there were several vices in the Anglo-Saxon constitution, which rendered it difficult for the English to defend their liberties in so critical an emergency. The people had in a great measure lost all national pride and spirit,