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widow might manage property. The Abbess of a convent might manage property and send vassals to the king, and thus become a more active member of the state.
Although the state was thus at first a band of war. The state riors with its king, which cared little for villeins and expands merchants except to squeeze labor or money out of them, and even looked with contempt upon priests as being of no use as fighters, it soon began to change. As we have said, this group made it its business to rule, and the business expanded. The king and his helpers kept doing more and more things and in this way came to have more and more to do with all classes of people. They sometimes put other groups out of business, and sometimes took them into partnership. Little by little the people who at first merely dreaded the king and his court-particularly when these spoke a different language, as the Norman kings did in England—came to look to the king for protection. At first only the warriors were loyal; merchants and villeins had no such feeling and so no such duty. Later, when the villeins gained the stand of freemen and so had more rights, they too could feel loyalty. When merchants were granted favors by the king they were willing to help him with money; they also could be loyal. The boldest step taken in England toward bringing other groups under the state was the act of Henry VIII in putting himself at the head of the Church as well as of the State. The church had come to own a great deal of land. The king took this away and gave it to his supporters.
In this country, except for a short period in some of the first colonies, the state and the churches have
kept fairly separate. The Constitution says that Congress shall have no power to establish a religion. Our fathers knew by experience that it might be dangerous to religious liberty to give the state power of that sort. But in earlier times in Europe the state was eager to control men in every way possible.
But aside from such a great and sudden expanding of the state as taking in the whole church and making a national church out of it, the state kept growing in many ways. The king's courts gained at the expense of other courts; the king received taxes from more people; the king had dealings with the traders; and, most important, the king got together a great meeting of the lords, the clergy, and representatives from the principal communities (shires or counties and boroughs or towns). This last was called a Parliament and came to be, in time, the great governing body of the state in England. Our Congress and state legislatures are, in many respects, copied from it.
The way in which the king at the head of his warriors gradually came to control more and more the affairs of all sorts of men is at first surprising. Apparently it was not for the most part because the king or his advisers thought it was right; it seems to have been very largely, first, because it increased the king's power and, second, because it paid. Take, for example, the courts. Besides the king's courts there were also church courts, merchants' courts, and manor courts presided over by the lord of the manor. Fees were collected for hearing cases, and in the case of felonies, such as murder, there was not only damage to be paid to the relatives of the man killed, but a fine to the king. The king constantly endeavored to get as much of all this business as possible because the fees
The king's courts
and fines were profitable. But to hear all the cases would tend to bring more and more people under the king's direct power, and also under the king's protection. More and more people would look to the king as the defender of their rights.
The king took a great interest in promoting trade, The king and partly for the same reasons that he tried to extend promoted
trade the range of his courts. He wanted to get more money. He got money from both the English and the foreign merchants. The English merchants wanted to have the exclusive right to sell at retail in their own towns. That is, they wanted a monopoly. When the merchants of London or of Bristol or Yarmouth wanted this privilege, they were willing to pay the king money for a charter which would give them a monopoly, except at fairs or with other special limits.
On the other hand, the king liked to have foreign trade coming into the country for several reasons. For one thing, he collected a heavy revenue from it, called the customs (and this name is still used for tax on imports). Again, it was thought a good thing for the king and the state to have ships and sailors. One way to encourage shipping was to increase the demand for fish. To bring this about a curious law was passed which ordered all persons to fast on Friday, Saturday, Ember Days, and in Lent—that is, to eat fish instead of meat—under penalty of a fine of ten shillings and ten days' imprisonment. This was declared to be for two reasons: “ considering that due and godly abstinence is a means to virtue" and considering also especially that “ fishers and men using the trade of living by fishing in the sea may thereby the rather be set on work.”
Besides regulating commerce with other countries,
the king tried to regulate industry inside the country. Some kings brought into the country weavers from other lands who were skilled workers, and thus promoted the development of weaving much faster than the town gilds would have allowed. Gradually, indeed, the old gilds, which were at first chartered by the king and which controlled their own members, were dissolved, and the state itself undertook to regulate the trading, on the one hand, and the workmen on the other. As the state was at first limited to the upper classes, we should expect this regulation of wages to be in the interest of landlords. But the general tendency of the state has been to discourage any intermediate groups which it does not control. And many of the present problems of the state law in relation to corporations and trade unions are affected by this.
Closely connected with trade was the king's activity in providing coins. For a time this, too, was regarded as a way by which the king might make a profit, and some kings thought it a shrewd scheme to make coins of less than standard weight and pocket the difference in value. Henry VIII was perhaps the worst offender. But it came to be held that to debase the coinage in this way was bad policy. A national system of coins of uniform weight was much better for trade than a system in which each town or district had its own coins. It made for easier coöperation and therefore was a gain when it was finally established.
Taxing was another way in which the king came to deal with more and more people, and gradually to get the help of more people in governing. At first the king did not raise money by a general tax, as our government raises funds now. The king had a great deal of land, for, of course, when he conquered a country he would
take a large share for himself, or grant it to his followers on condition that they pay him rent or “aids." When the Domesday Book was made, the king of England had over 1,400 manors. And when he went from one of these to another, as he did frequently, it was expected that the people along the route would provide entertainment. As he traveled with a large company, , this entertainment was not exactly a pleasure to the hosts. “At the king's approach,” wrote an Archbishop, “ thanks to this accursed prerogative, there is general consternation; men fly to hide their fowls and eggs; I myself shudder for the people's sake.”
Then, too, like every feudal lord, the king collected “ aids from his tenants when the tenant's son was made a knight or his daughter was married. Wedding presents are nowadays sometimes expensive, but if an officer could collect, as the law then fixed it, “ twenty shillings from each knight's fee,” which would amount to something like one twentieth of the value of all the land, it can be seen that a good haul would result.
Because the king owned so much land, and had these How claims to "purveyance” or hospitality, and “aids," taxing it was thought he ought not to demand further taxes. enlarged
the state In England it was urged that “the king should live of his own.” If the king had been able to do this it might have been very unfortunate. For, although the people objected strongly at times to paying taxes, it was because the king needed more money than his own lands would bring, and was willing to grant privileges in exchange for money that the people were able to gain more and more rights. As it was usually the merchants and town dwellers who had the most money, the king had to consult more and more with these men who had not at first had anything to say about the government