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land, and his grass land some distance away. There are still some signs of the old common fields in England with the ridges which marked the borders between the plow lands of the different cottagers. Early settlers in New England brought over some of this community plan. They frequently laid out a
common " like Boston Common, and when they settled a new town, they did not attempt at first to keep their cattle in private pastures. They had brands by which to distinguish their cattle, and then turned them into common pasture or “waste.” The village community is still found in Russia. A man does not own his own land; the group owns it and allots shares from time to time to the members to cultivate.
But there would be all sorts of forces at work to bring in neighbors who did not originally belong to the clan. Especially when, as was the case in England, fighting men settled down in a region, there would be more or less mixing of different clans and of the older dwellers in the region. Neighborhood came to be more important than kinship.
If each clan had settled down peacefully in a village by itself, not disturbing its neighbors and not interfered with by other clans, history would have been very different. We can easily see what happened if we look at early settlements in this country. A group of families would settle in a town and stay until their children grew up:
If there were two or more sons, either the parents or some of the sons would then push on to a new location farther west. In this country there was plenty of land and this could be done without fighting. Or if the pioneers encountered Indians, the Indians could move back.
In Europe there was no such room. A clan would
soon grow to be too numerous for its land and would begin to crowd upon others. Some, like the Norsemen, would seek room by sailing away in ships, plundering, How capturing men for slaves, or settling down in a colony clans as chance offered. But the greatest tendency was for sought several clans or tribes to unite, make a combined raid, and thus find new homes. The people whom they conquered might either be killed, or taken and sold for slaves, or kept on the land to do the hard work. This happened when Israel invaded Palestine, when the Saxons invaded Britain, and once more when the Normans invaded England. Even among the conquering clans there would come to be leaders more powerful than common men. For it seems to be only in rather small and peaceful clans that there are no classes. To get a definite picture of how this process of conquering, and serf or slave making worked out, let us imagine ourselves in England seven or eight hundred years ago.
If you were to go into a village or hamlet in early The England, you would find most of the dwellings small Hall cottages. But there would be one called the Hall, which and the
Lord with its barn and other subordinate buildings would be much more spacious, even if it were far from elegant according to modern standards. Here would live some one called the lord. Further scattered over the country would be found castles, still larger and built for military purposes as well as dwellings. Here is evidently a class of men set apart on some basis. You might see in a village in America the same contrast in the size of houses, but it would not mean the same thing. Today it would mean usually that the man in the larger house had gained more wealth, by manufacturing or trading, and had chosen to buy or build the larger dwelling. In the eleventh century, it would
usually mean that the man in the hall or castle had been a successful soldier, who had helped the king, and had been rewarded by being made a lord with important rights over the village and all the land near by. The modern owner of a large house may own much land, or he may own only a small lot. He may chance to be a judge in his town or county, but the chances are he is not. He may happen to be chosen chairman of the town-meeting if he attends, but the court and town-meeting are not likely to be held in his house, and if he is chairman it is because he is chosen, not because he has a right to be always chairman. Suppose now there is an alarm of war. The dweller in the large house is no more likely than any other to enlist in the army, and if the government should make a
draft,” as it is called, of troops, he would be just as likely as any other, but no more likely, to be selected.
In the early English hall or castle the lord was a judge and held the court in his Hall. He presided at the village meetings, for the court was a sort of village meeting rather than what we understand by a court of law. If there was war he was expected to march to the support of the king and to take with him a large number of his “ vassals” or servants, all armed and equipped. Finally, although the king was supposed to be the supreme lord or owner of all the land, the lesser lords, who lived in the halls and castles, had rights over the land of their “Manor" or district, and were thus like the king, lords of the land, who later came to be landlords. The dweller in the Hall was therefore a judge, a leader of the military forces, and a landlord.
If you should go into the cottages instead of the hall, you would find that almost all the dwellers had shares
The Lord of the Manor
of land. But you would find that whereas they worked for themselves on this land about half the time, they worked the other three days of the week for the lord and received no wages. The women also worked a part of the time at the hall and received no wages. Also, if you suggested to them to give up their farms and move away, you would be surprised to learn that they had no right to do this. And if you saw a brightlooking boy and told him that he ought to study and become a scholar, you would be told that he had no right to do this without the permission of the lord who lived in the hall. People of this sort who were 66 bound to the land were called “ villeins.” They Villeins were half-free, for they worked in part for themselves and had rights in the land; they were seldom sold. But they were not free to leave the Manor, and must work certain days for the lord. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the law came to treat them almost as slaves. They made up by far the largest number of the people of England eight hundred years ago. If your ancestors were English, they were probably most of them villeins.
Were there no free men in England except the lords? There were a few, but only a few when William the Conqueror took a kind of census of England in 1086. There were a few of the clergy who as a social class stood close to the gentry. There were a few men who tilled land but could sell it and go where they pleased. There were indeed nearly as many slaves as there were 6 freemen.” The slaves differed from the serfs or villeins in that they did not belong to the land, and might be sold.
The exact numbers of these different classes in England in 1086 can be estimated from the survey which William the Conqueror had made of the land and its
various kinds of tenants. The book of this survey is called Domesday Book. It shows the following classes :
1. Gentry and Clergy
9,300 Made up of
Tenants in chief 1,400 7 Under tenants
7,900 2. Free holders and Yeomen
25,000 Altogether there were then 284,000 more or less unfree to 44,300 free-about 7 to 1.
The striking thing is that the great majority of the people were villeins, bordars (who had smaller plots than the villeins), and cottars (cottagers). The two main classes were the gentry, who ruled and came more and more to own the land, and the villeins, who were obliged to do the farm work. How can we explain this difference in classes? There was nothing like this in the simple kinship group of the savage.
The band of warriors
The great explanation for the difference in classes, and for the fact that a few men were found ruling over a great number of men, is that a new force had been discovered. We think of steam and electricity as extraordinary forces; and they have worked a great change in modern life. But probably they have had far less influence than the force of association or cooperation. The early kin group had a certain degree of coöperation, but the Band of Warriors made a new and more powerful kind of group. A small number of trained fighters acting as a compact band could conquer