Слике страница
PDF
ePub

and tedious tasks as plowing, and cultivating, and gathering crops to some one else. How can he manage this? The way is simple.

The conquering band of warriors makes slaves or serfs of the conquered and requires them to do the steady, monotonous work. In Africa, Egypt, Babylon, Israel, Greece, Rome, and Western Europe, the story has been similar. For example, in Egypt:

“The stone-cutter, who seeks his living by working in all kinds of durable stone, when at last he has earned something, and his two arms are worn out, he stops; but if at sunrise he remain sitting, his legs are tied to his back. When the (mason's) work is quite finished, if he has bread, he returns home, and his children have been beaten unmercifully (during his absence). The weaver within doors is worse off there than a woman; squatting, his knees against his chest, he does not breathe. If during the day he slackens weaving, he is bound fast as the lotuses of the lake; and it is by giving bread to the doorkeeper that the latter permits him to see the light.”

Villeins

But apparently slavery of the extreme type was not the rule in England at the time of the Norman conquest. The more common condition of the conquered Englishmen was that of serfs or villeins, as we have seen in the Domesday Book records. The word commonly used for them was “Native," which would go to show that any “native ” Englishman, as distinct from the Norman conqueror, was regarded as unfree. In one respect the life of the villein was not so hard as that of some free persons today, for he had a plot of ground, sometimes as much as thirty acres of plow land, and so was reasonably sure of enough to eat. But, on the other hand, he had not only to work for the lord about half

* Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution, p. 284.

his time, but he had also to contribute in various other ways to the lord's property. Moreover he had to attend his lord's courts and if he had any quarrel with his lord, was likely to get the worst of the decision. The fine-sounding provisions of the Magna Carta which guaranteed certain rights to the “ free” man were of no help to the villein. He was not free.

The Band of Warriors has thus proved to be a power to make some men lords and others serfs.

CHAPTER V

THE BAND OF WARRIORS AND THE STATE

T"

HE band of warriors did more than make lords

and serfs; it made a king, and a state or nation.

For in order to succeed the band must act as a team, as one man. And this means that it must be directed by one man who has a plan, and has also the necessary power to have his orders obeyed. When a country has been conquered the leader and his band continue to rule. Together they make up a new kind of group called the state. As head of the state the leader is called a king.

The ruling group

The state with the king at its head is called a “political ” society. It is different from the early kinship group with the old men at the head; it is different from the neighborhood group. It is, or rather was, at first a military group; then it undertook to govern. It made governing a business, just as merchants made trading a business or weavers made weaving a business. It did not destroy other groups unless they resisted. It allowed the village to carry on its affairs much as its old customs prescribed; it allowed the villagers to till their lands on the old plan of common fields, provided they also worked for the lord a certain part of the time. And for a long time there was dispute as to just what were its powers and rights with reference to the other great organization of the Middle Ages—the Church.

Because it was at first a ruling group it did not treat all people in the country as citizens. It did not give all people equal rights before the law; far less did it give all people over twenty-one years of age, or even all males over twenty-one, a share in the government. In these respects it was very different from a democratic state of the present time in which the ideal is that all who live in a country (unless citizens of some foreign nation) should have the rights and privileges of citizens. The early state included only a part of the people; later it took in more and more from those groups which were at first outside.

In particular, there were three classes which at first were only partially in the state: the villeins, the clergy, and the merchants. And of course women, with certain very interesting exceptions, were left quite out. They had few rights, and again with interesting exceptions, no share in the government.

(1) The villeins were in one respect directly under Villeins the control of the state: if they committed a crime and the they could be punished by the king's courts. But it state did not work both ways. The king would not protect them against wrongs unless these amounted to injuries against life or limb. In fact they were not regarded by the lawyers as having any right to own property. There might, however, often be disputes between a villein and his lord as to the amount of service the villein should give, or as to his right to pasture cattle and sheep upon the commons or common ground of the manor. Suppose, then, that you are living on a manor as a villein and have such a dispute. Suppose that the lord takes away one of your cows. Or, if you have provoked him, suppose you find yourself even shut out from your house and a servant of the lord

Clergy

cases.

Merchants

occupying it. What can you do? You might complain at the lord's court; but if the lord himself has put the other man in you will receive little attention. You cannot go to the king's court unless the lord or his man actually has struck you. Much less, of course, will you receive any protection if you are a slave.

(2) The priests and “ clerks” were in the church, and the church had its own law and own head. It was for a long time a matter of dispute whether the king and his courts had authority over priests in certain

For a long time the church had control over wills, marriages, and morals, as well as over heresy, and thus had a certain sphere reserved from the power of the state.

(3) Merchants and traders were usually in early times strangers or foreigners. In Athens they were not made citizens, but formed a sort of middle class, neither citizens nor slaves. In England merchants for a long time had laws of their own, distinct from the laws of the land. These laws of the merchants were the customs which had come to be observed by merchants of certain ports. After a time these came to be adopted as a part of the regular laws of the state, but as merchants were often foreigners it was natural to treat them as a different class.

(4) It is scarcely necessary to say that women had little relation to a military state. A wife was supposed to be not under the king's protection, but under the protection of her husband, and a daughter under that of her father. If a vassal died leaving an unmarried daughter she became the ward of his over-lord, or of the king if her father had held his land directly from the king. A married woman for a long time could not own property while her husband was living, though a

Women

« ПретходнаНастави »