The Function of Socialization in Social Evolution

Chapter 8: The Personal Stage of Socialization 
II. The Feudal Type

Ernest W. Burgess

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By a society organized on a basis of personal relations I mean a social and economic order which rests upon intimate association rather than upon kin ties or upon impersonal relations. Typical forms of a social organization characterized by personal ties are the old agricultural village and the mediaeval town : the first organized around landholding; the latter around division of labor and specialization of skill. For example, after the Norman Conquest, the English social constitution was an aggregation of nearly 10,000 practically self-sustaining agricultural village communities, each under the personal authority of the lord of the manor, the tenant-in-mesne of the baron, who was the tenant-in-chief of the king. In the whole series of gradations from the king at the apex, to the slave, cotter, and villein at the base of the social order, the personal relation of man to man was the social cement which gave organic stability to the structure of society. At a later period, the towns became significant for national economy. Their merchant and craft guilds were economic and political organisms whose individual cells functioned as a whole because of the definite personal relations of the market and the shop. This social mutation from the simple social form of tribal relation in which the chief is "first among equals" to the more complex and differentiated social form of the manor and the town where the lord of the manor or the guild-master exerts personal control over dependent workers involved an enormous psychic re-construction. Our first task is, therefore, to analyze the psychic changes which accompanied the transformation of the tribal bands of Angles, Saxons, Frisians, and Jutes, superimposed upon the slightly Romanized Celtic tribes, into the feudalized England of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. We shall then proceed to a résumé of the origin of the towns and the psychological aspect of their organization.

The feudal type of personal relations.—The evolution of the English economic and social unit—the agricultural hamlet community—from the family to the personal type of organization was determined by the accommodation within it of the English settlers and the subdued British villagers under the external pressure of the

( 88) Danish invasion and the Norman Conquest. The British agricultural communities at the time of the English settlement varied in form from the tribal hamlet but little modified by Roman supremacy, to the groupings, on a personal basis, of the half-servile. workers who tilled the country estates of the Roman or Romanized master. At all events, the family cast of the British social organization had been somewhat fractured even in the remotest districts:

The psychic organization, not only of the Celtic tribes, but also of the Teutonic immigrants, was of the "kin set" analyzed above. Lamprecht thus describes the social and psychic organization of the German hundred : "The tribal communities turn out to be not simple, but complicated formations. They consist in a number of hundreds, and in these the German actually lived. And the hundreds bear distinctly a genealogical character, are at bottom great families or clans. In the family, therefore, is the German quite at home; it encircles him with its uninterrupted life, and within this he is accounted only a specimen, not an individual; he is subject to the system of blood-vengeance with the psychic point of view, which puts every individual on exactly the same level ; in his personal preferences, in friendship and enmity, he is bound by the bonds of family life; he appears to the outsider, and according to our views also in purely personal matters, as if he were interchange-able with any of his equals, as if he were but a function."[1] What, then, were the influences which changed the hundred from a family to a community association?

1. Even if the landholding system of the Germanic tribes had once conformed precisely to the communal organization and the democratic government of a group of families as stated by the advocates of the mark theory[2] at the time of the emigration of the Anglo-Saxons this primitive village community had developed tendencies toward the personal relations of dependence characteristic of the later manorial system.[3] Undoubtedly, household servants accompanied their masters in the settlement of Britain.[4]

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2.  Not only a social tendency already present, but also the previous British agricultural arrangements may have tended to accelerate the organization upon the basis of personal ties. Seebohm[5] believes that the Roman villa with its relations of personal dependence did not disintegrate before the devastating Saxon, but was the mold in which was cast the rough outlines of the later manor. Certainly, it is not beyond reason to agree that where the villa was a predominant form of agricultural and social arrangement, the Saxon chief may have displaced the Roman or Romanized landlord.[6] But the evidence does not show that the absolute individual system of landholding was general. At any rate, the contact of Saxon and Briton in the community required an adjustment, and the weight of evidence indicates that in the enforced adaptation of the weaker to the stronger[7] is to be found the beginnings of the dependent feudal relationships. 

3.  The kinship grouping of the Anglo-Saxon folk gradually gave way to organization around personal relations. Settlement by groups of kindred is at first a predominant, but later a decreasing factor in village life. Place-names indicate that the first settlements were largely effected by groups of families or by kindreds on land allotted to them after a victory.[8] In the first centuries after the settlement, the "solidarity of the kindred" was the prevailing medium of social control,[9] and determined, not only the mode of settlement, but also the system of land tenure and the political activities of its members. The hide, the unit of landholding, originally signified "family land,"[10] and seems to have been the customary share of the head of the household of the warrior-farmer upon whose industrial welfare and military efficiency Anglo-Saxon political and military organization depended. While we cannot ignore the wide-reaching and persistent influences of the agnatic union of relatives in the formation of Old English society, we must remember that 

( 90) from the first the personal following of the king and the chieftains was a significant factor which introduced a counter-tendency in social organization which was soon to counterbalance, and finally to outweigh the political and social influence of the kin relationship.

4.  The circumstances of the Anglo-Saxon settlement naturally tended to loosen the old tribal arrangements. Old habits were broken up; the hold of a successful leader over the imagination and obedience of his followers became stronger than kindred ties. A band of war-liking men, distinct from the nation in arms, gathered about the king and the powerful chieftains and "remained as a separate organization partaking of the characteristics of a court, a guard and a standing division of the army."[11] Even in times of peace, when the military followers were living away from the court upon royal grants of land, the personal tie[12] that bound them to their lord would, at a moment's notice, bring them to his side to quell an uprising or to repel an incursion. Then, too, the manner of migration wrought serious injury to tribal custom. The Celts had come to Britain in solid tribal blocks, but the Teutons crossed the sea in small detached bands, which, in the checkered course of settlement, intermixed in such a way as to loosen the cohesiveness of the blood-bond. The Celts had settled in tribal hamlets, which coalesced, where Roman influence was strong, into villages dependent upon the large estates. The Anglo-Saxons, desirous of keeping together both for mutual aid and for superior control of the subjugated Britons, promoted[13] this movement toward augmented groupings of the rural population. The effect of the larger social group was to weaken the ramification of kin ties by promoting the growth of neighborhood relations. The village came to be more than an enlarged hamlet ; it made possible a social organization united by personal, as distinct from blood-ties, and facilitated a more efficient utilization of the land by a more definite allotment of the rights and obligations of individuals. 

5.  But the strongest internal force making for the growth of personal relations as an organizing principle in community life was 

( 91) the requirements of the open-field system of cultivation. The effect of the technique of cultivation upon community life is to be under-stood in connection both with the mental attitude of the settlers and with the mode of settlement. "In some cases they fitted them-selves into the agrarian framework that they found ; in other cases they formed villages closely resembling those that they left behind them in their older home. But to all appearance, even in that older home, so soon as the village was formed and had ploughed lands around it, the strips into which these fields were divided were owned in severalty by the householders of the village. Great pains had been taken to make the division equitable ; each householder was to have strips equal in number and value, and to secure equivalence each was to have a strip in every part of the arable territory."[14] These arrangements for equality of shares in the holding point to the natural mental attitude of a group of kin or of a band of comrades bent on assigning to one another absolutely equal shares in the land allotted to them in common. All the requirements of the occupational activities of the villagers growing out of this system of landholding made for the development of personal and neighborly, as opposed to hamlet and family, ties. Since the possessor of a hide, or family holding of approximately 120 of these acre strips, owned and utilized a full plow-team of eight oxen, the smaller landowners, the men with perhaps only one ox and a bovate of land, or with two oxen and a virgate, must club together to provide the full number of oxen for the plow. The control of the agricultural arrangements was in the hands not of the individual, but of the group. " The seasons for the commencement and the interruption of work, the choice of the crops to be raised, the sequence in which the different shots and furlongs had to be used, the regulations as to fencing and drainage, etc., were not a matter of private concern and decision, but were to be devised and put in force by the community."[15] The problems of pasture, meadow, and forest, even such questions as the distribution[16] of the manure, required community regulation and control and indicate that in industrial life personal relations are becoming more important than family ties. As Vinogradoff puts it, the open-field system necessitated "con-

( 92) -stant co-operation between neighbors" and "entailed a solidarity of the members of each household within the unit."[17]

The factors described above, namely, a social tendency away from family ties, the influence of the Romanized British villa, the loosening ties of kindred, the exigencies of conquest and settlement, the requirements of the open-field system of cultivation—all worked from within the community for the development of personal democratic relations. For the reason that the relative effect of each factor was widely variable with the locality, the total result was multiformity rather than uniformity of village life. Two factors, not yet considered, but of tremendous socializing force, operated from outside, but with a quite constant quantitative force upon each village community for the development of graduated personal relationships of superiority and inferiority. The introduction of Christianity and the strain of Danish invasion affected human relations quite similarly in every Anglo-Saxon village. The decision to accept Christianity from Rome rather than from Ireland brought England into contact with the western nations and into the intellectual and spiritual community of mediaeval civilization. The desperate struggle of the English under Alfred and his successors against Danish barbarians accomplished by means of military and fiscal organization for efficient defense and payment of tribute what inter-tribal contests had failed to achieve, namely: the external unity of England for national self-preservation and survival. Both influences worked powerfully to break down the ties of kinship and locality and to reorganize society on the basis of personal relations and national sentiment. This statement of the impetus to socialization, if not to be reckoned a glittering generality, requires for its support a summary of the positive social effects of the introduction of Christianity and of the pressure of foreign invasion.

In the very nature of its organization the Anglo-Saxon church made for the development of a social class antagonistic to the claims of kinship. "The fundamental difference," says Cunning-ham, "which underlay all the questions between the upholders of the Scottish and Catholic usages at Whitby, was due to the fact that the one Church was organized on this tribal model, and the other on the territorial system which had come into vogue in the rest of Christendom."[18]

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The hesitating acceptance of Christianity by the courts of the little English kingdoms and the gradual enforcement of it upon the mass of the people did not constitute the significant aspect of the labors of Augustine and his successors. For at best the Anglo-Saxon church "was a form of Christianity with a strong admixture of superstition and formalism," and her chief doctrines were "the worship of saints and relics, submission and liberality toward the clergy, due observance of imposed penances and fasts."[19] Green gives a forceful statement of the advantage to England of close mental contact with the guardian of the achievements of ancient civilization. "Had England clung to the Irish Church it must have remained spiritually isolated from the bulk of the Western world. Fallen as Rome might be from its older greatness, it preserved the traditions of civilization, of letters and art and law. Its faith still served as a bond which held together the nations that sprang from the wreck of the Empire. To fight against Rome was, as Wilfrid said, `to fight against the world.' To repulse Rome was to condemn England to isolation."[20]

The fact that England looked to Rome rather than to Iona for spiritual guidance had important socializing effects in providing for the participation of the sons of barbarous fathers in the cultural and intellectual life of the Middle Ages. The external consequences are the more obvious. The house of the bishop became the school for the children of thanes. Monasteries were established where the learning of Rome was taught to the sons of the worshipers of Thor and Odin. Princes and priests, impelled by piety and attracted by report, made pilgrimages to Rome. The internal effects are even more significant. The opening of a new direction for personal development in strong contrast to the military spirit of the age created a new social type. Strange it was that from the first the cowl should compete, seemingly on equal terms, with the sword for the noblest in blood and the most ambitious in disposition ! Benedict Bishop, a king's thane, born before the conversion of Northumbria by the Irish missionaries, abandons the world at twenty-five years of age and "sets out for Rome." The career of Wilfrid, a man of energy and self-assertion, rivals for interest and adventure

( 94) that of any redblooded and headstrong hotspur of his time. At seventeen years of age, the fever for Rome seizes him with an irresistible force; only a little over twenty years of age on his return, he is the principal figure in the crisis at Whitby. Appointed to the bishopric of York, he maintains his position with a magnificence and an influence that engenders the jealousy of the king. Exiled in consequence of his indignant denunciation of the partition of his diocese, he escapes the murderous traps of his enemies and carries his quarrel above the head of the archbishop to the pope. Finally, after winning the admiration of Christendom by his conversion of the South Saxons, the last heathen English kingdom, he is restored to his bishopric. The life of Guthlac of the royal house of Mercia illustrates the extreme influence of the church. After nine years spent in the private feuds of the time, the youthful freebooter experiences a sudden change of interests and betakes himself to a hermit's cell in the eastern fen country. During his lifetime, crowds of devotees make his solitude a place of pilgrimage; in death, an imposing abbey marks his resting-place. In quiet contrast with the spectacular career of Wilfrid and the "stared at" asceticism of Guthlac, the life and work of Bede exhibit the best type of monastic life. His own account of his life breathes the tranquillity of his spirit: "I spent my whole life in the same monastery, and while attentive to the rule of my order and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure lay in learning, or teaching or writing." [21] But the influence of the church was not confined to the taking of the tonsure; the genius of an Alfred must have been one-sided in its development if shut out of the subjective environment which correlated his interests and aims with the feeling and the thinking of the great men of the past. We cannot overestimate the importance of the monastery in mediaeval society. It was church, university, asylum in one. In later times it prepared for the professions of law and medicine as well as for the priesthood. The career of Dunstan, the statesman-prelate, suggests the reach of opportunity within the grasp of a monk. "It was the church," says Gneist, "which left it open to all classes to mount up, as their right, to the highest dignities of the land." [22] Thus the admission of the English to participation

( 95) in the mental and cultural goods of civilization had a great socializing influence on a small but dynamic fraction of the population.

It is difficult to estimate the effect of Christianity upon the small freeholders, the serfs, and the slaves. Even though the worship of the Teutonic deities was discontinued, the old superstitious beliefs and practices doubtless survived. The segregation from the world of the religiously inclined, the small number of parish priests, even if men of human sympathy, in proportion to the number of parishes,[23] certainly do not indicate any effective grip upon the servile masses of the people. Yet the general socializing consequences of Christianity indirectly benefitted the peasant. "The Christian Church had begun gradually to exercise an effective control over all departments of life. . . . Not only did society become more orderly, but the enforcement of law and the security of property were favored by the exertion of the clergy. Nor was the laborer forgotten ; the traffic in slaves was greatly discountenanced, the lot of the serf was improved, and the worker came to enjoy a weekly holiday on Sundays."[24] Though the socializing effect of the church entered into the subjective environment of but a small fraction of the population, the creation of a new social class with a centralized and efficient organization provided a model for political organization and strengthened the ties of blood and the community of language and custom which already formed the basis for unity. In Anglo-Saxon times socialization spelled nationalization : the subordination of the interests of the individual to the national welfare. The church from the outset stood as an example of national organization, and by promoting native literature, worship, and song subtly created an emotional attitude toward the country of warlike king, martyred saint, and deathless story. Bishop Stubbs thus summarizes the nationalizing influence of the church over the minds of men : "The unity of the church in England was the pattern for the unity of the state; the cohesion of the church was for ages the substitution for the cohesion, which the divided nation was unable otherwise to realize. . . . It was to an extraordinary degree a national church : national in its comprehensiveness, as well as in its exclusiveness. Englishmen were in their lay aspect Mercians or West

( 96) Saxons; only in their ecclesiastical relations could they feel them-selves fellow-countrymen and fellow-subjects."[25] Even when an external unity was achieved under Egbert and his successors, the adhesion of the church to the crown assisted the English kings in maintaining at least a loose authority over the nobles.[26] The church also promoted the subjective unity of the people. Under the stimulus of Arthur priests and monks contributed to the development of English literature. The services of the church promoted national feeling. "The use of the native tongue in prayers and sermons is continuous; the observance of native festivals also, and the reverence paid to native saints." [27] The lower clergy of the church must have formed a large and effective proportion of the middle classes whose passive resistance to Norman influences secured final victory for English language and literature.

While the Anglo-Saxon church was introducing a class based on personal relations and gradually promoting the growth of nationalization, the Danish invasion precipitated a crisis which put to severest test the energies of the nation, and for purposes of efficient military defense and of taxation forged a series of military and economic personal relationships from king to thanes and bishops, from these to the lords of manors, and from these last to peasants and retainers, which tended to exalt the king and to debase the freeman. In this way, both the Danish incursion and the danegeld constituted a social pressure[28] that acted powerfully to promote the breakdown of family ties and the growth of personal and dependent relations. Just before the beginning of the life-and-death struggle with the Danes, the kings of the West Saxons had succeeded in establishing a loose control over all the Anglo-Saxon people. The success of the Danish inroads at once demonstrated the inferiority of the national host as a military instrument for defense against an army of professional soldiers. Moreover, the duration of the contest exhibited the

( 97) impracticability of a dependence, for efficient military service, upon the whole class of agricultural freemen. The natural solution was the differentiation of a military class, the beginnings of which are to be traced to the group of armed followers of the king and chieftain. The institution of a standing military establishment necessitated a most revolutionary change in social arrangements. The freemen who were members of the host did not possess sufficient land to support both household and warrior. A holding of five hides was now considered necessary to equip a fully armed knight relieved from agricultural pursuits and always ready for immediate service. The outcome of this sharp differentiation of the thane from the body of the freeman is thus stated by Vinogradoff :[29] (a) provision for the thane and his lightly armed retinue; (b) the obligation of military service upon large landowners and the consequent subordination of the common people ; (c) the degradation of the lower class of freemen to the position of laborers. The village community with its democratic personal relations is made the basis for a series of graduated personal relations reaching from the peasant to the king. This social differentiation was to become stratified under the social pressure of the danegeld.

The danegeld, according to Maitland, was "an impost so heavy that it was fully capable of transmuting a whole nation_ Therefore, the lines that are drawn by the incidence of this tribute will be deep and permanent."[30] Originating as a tribute paid to the Danes, it continued as an occasional war-tax under Danish kings, and, al-though abolished by Edward the Confessor, it was revived by William the Conqueror as a promising method of direct assessment.[31] The significant result of the imposition of this heavy geld upon the land and people was not alone in the tightening of political organization and in providing for the fiscal machinery for its successive reapportionment among the shires, the hundreds, town-ships, and hides, but also in its pressure upon the social arrangements in the village communities. In connection with the new system of military service, it tended to reduce the former freeman to villeinage. The responsibility of the lord of the manor for the payment of the assessment levied upon the township placed the small

( 98) holders in a dependent relation to the large landowner, and established the principle that the man who pays the taxes for the land should be considered the owner of that land.[32]

It is now apparent that both the spiritual and the political organization of the nation were not natural developments from within the village community, but were imposed from without. The church, though established from without and above under the sanction of royal authority, worked powerfully to promote international socialization. In the same way, the structure of the state was determined not so much by internal as by external circumstances ; the struggle for racial survival resulted in a centralization of power through a graded system of personal relations from the peasant and retainer up to the king.

In the eleventh century the social reconstruction was well under way. The integrating process, in which a loose aggregation of semi-tribal states was to evolve into a functioning whole, had already achieved structural unity. The Norman was yet to come, accelerating the movement toward centralization, consolidation, and uniformity. But the main features of social organization had already been set in the furnace of national defense and the pressure of national tribute. The old type of freeman, head of a household, had disappeared; only one-eighth of the rural population of the Domes-day Book are freeholders and yeomen; five-sevenths of the total number are unfree, that is, they are villeins, cotters, and slaves.[33] These figures show how the democratic personal relations of the freevillage community had been transformed into the unequal personal relations of the manor. Though the reconstruction involved so great a sacrifice of freedom, yet we must recognize that the efficiency of an apparatus for manipulating these human tools furnished the ultimate strength of the national power. This system of squeezing out of the labor of peasants the highest possible surplus over the means of subsistence was the economic foundation upon which the military system of feudalism rested. The maintenance of the lord of the manor, wrung from the services and feudal dues of the peasants who held or worked his land, made possible his perfection in military arts.

But the essential change is not in external relations, but in mental attitude. The process of feudalism was a reconstruction of mental attitudes and social relations. Personal relations, both those of

( 99) equality and inequality, were the material out of which the feudal structure was built. Nor were these personal relations merely those of physical contact; they were essentially co-operative activity in the case of equals and reciprocal service between the superiors and inferiors. The troublous times of the Danish invasion, the "wild days" of Ethelred the Unready, even the lawlessness existing during the Confessor's reign, constitute a historical situation which might well serve as a prototype for Hobbes's abstract state of nature. The individual is, by circumstances, forced out of his kin shell and compelled to act, feel, and think outside the circle of family relations. The ties of kinship which have long lost geographical contiguity are now inadequate for protection. Thus we find men banding them-selves together for mutual protection, and the laws providing that the kindred shall secure a lord for the lordless man.[34] The landless man, the small landholder, and even the great landlord secure self-preservation in submission to the strong thane whose power consists in the number of tillers of his land and of retainers sworn to defend him. The series of personal rights and obligations extend through-out society : the great thane or earl holds his lands of the king and must follow shim in war; the lord holds his manor of the earl whom he must accompany into battle; the holder in socage is a free man, but pledged to defend the person of his lord; the holder in villeinage and the cotter are peasants more or less closely bound to the land, who must render agricultural service to the lord. This form of reciprocal service—personal devotion and loyalty to one's superior on the one hand, and powerful protection to one's inferior on the other[35] —is the mold into which all human relations are thrown. The closest resemblance to this mental attitude in the twentieth century is to be found in our large cities in the relation of the immigrants to the ward "boss." The powerful man in those days also was a strong aid to his "men," when they were in trouble. An Anglo-Saxon statute provides against the lord taking advantage of legal technicalities to protect his men. "Many a powerful man will, if he can and may, defend his man in whatever way it seems to him that he may the more easily defend him, whether as a freeman or as a `theow.' But we will not allow that injustice."[36] An Anglo-Saxon oath of fealty has come down to us in which a man swears upon

( 100) a relic that to his lord he will be "faithful and true, and love all that he loves, and shun all that he shuns . . . and never, by will nor by force, by word nor by work, do aught of what is loathful to him." [37] How sacred was the personal tie that bound together man and lord may be inferred from a passage in the introduction to Alfred's Laws which states that the laws permit money compensation for the first offense in almost all crimes "except in cases of treason against a lord to which they dared not assign any mercy, because God Almighty adjudged none of them who despised him, nor did Christ, the son of God, adjudge any to him who sold him to death ; and he commanded that a lord should be loved as one's self." [38] Treason to one's lord was the crime of a Judas Iscariot !

The process of feudalism made for the ramification of personal ties throughout society, and for the rise of a class constituting the nucleus of English social unity. Where before the land was the property of the kindred and only blood-relationship gave rights to the use of the land, now a neighborhood community and a lord of the manor owned the land conjointly, and custom gave to each member of the community certain more or less definite rights in severalty and in common. While the effect of the Danish inroads was to depress the small freeman, it also had the counter-tendency of promoting the growth of the military class. The king perceived this social need, and by legislation endeavored to stimulate the growth of the five-hide units of land throughout his kingdom. So we read in the laws of King Athelstan that "if a `ceorl' thrived so that he had fully five hides of his own land, church and kitchen, bell-house and `burh'-gateseat, and special duty in the king's hall, then was he thenceforth of thane-right worthy." [39] It is but right to add that a merchant who had thrice been over the sea might also become a thane, and that the rank of earl was not closed to a rising thane. The result of these two tendencies, or rather two aspects of the same process—the one degrading the freeman to villeinage, the other establishing a military class upon a sound agrarian basis—was that a limited group of five-hide men took the place in the social scheme once occupied by the much larger group of one-hide men. In other words, the king, the shire, and the hundred now look to

( 101) the five-hide man, the lord of the manor, instead of to the township of freemen for military service and for the enforcement of the geld payment.[40]

It is this small class, the substratum of the apex of the social pyramid, the under-tenants both gentry and clergy, who together with the tenants-in-chief, the baronial and ecclesiastical magnates, constitute the English social self-consciousness, though they comprise scarcely one-thirtieth of the entire population. The further history of feudal England is concerned with activities of this class. The significant outcome of the Norman Conquest was the radical change in the personnel of this class. The brunt of the struggle for Magna Charta was borne by this class ; and this class secured the political guaranties for its observance. The Peasants' Revolt showed that this class was shorn of its strength, and its complete overthrow followed in the War of the Roses. But from first to last the power of the feudal aristocracy lay in the personal relations of subtenants and peasants, just as the authority of the king was more or less dependent upon his hold upon the great barons. The main factor in the feudal situation is the psychic attitude, which, stronger than physical coercion, bound the barons to the king, the retainers to the baron, and the peasant to his lord.

The change at the Norman Conquest may be stated in simple objective terms as merely the substitution of Norman for English tenants-in-chief and under-tenants. As F. York Powell states it : "One may sum up the change in England by saying that some twenty thousand foreigners replaced some twenty thousand Englishmen ; and that these newcomers got the throne, the earldoms, the bishoprics, the abbacies, and far the greater portion of the big estates, mediate and immediate, and many of the burgess holdings in the chief towns." [41]

The substitution was qualitative as well as quantitative. The Norman conqueror had attained a higher degree of socialization, that is, he possessed more efficient habits, better discipline and organization, and more refined tastes than the conquered. Even his contempt for the dispossessed Englishman went toward giving a rigidity and hardness to the social order. Above and beyond all immediate effects upon the social organization, the Conquest brought

( 102) England into active participation in continental affairs. Up to this time the stimulus to national feeling had mainly come from the common suffering endured under repeated invasion ; now the insularity of the people was no longer to condemn it to insularity of thought, and the Hundred Years' War with the French was to awaken a patriotism based on the pride of national achievement. While objectively, then, we may state the effect of the Norman Conquest as the supplanting of Englishmen by Frenchmen, subjectively a political process was instituted which gets its significance from (a) the racial distinction between rulers and ruled; (b) the change in the balance of classes ; (c) the formulation of grievances in terms of the restoration of old liberties.

a)  The contact of Norman and English with its train of inevitable antagonisms tightened and hardened the relations between the ruler and ruled. The followers of the conqueror, naturally holding the vanquished in contempt, introduced into England the severer spirit, if not the type, of the feudalism of the Continent. The manor became the universal form[42] of rural organization; the notion of territorial dependence upon the lord now predominates over the old idea of personal service ;[43] the different grades of dependence are changed into a few distinct lines of separation; the whole tendency is toward "symmetry, simplicity, consolidation."[44] But although the peasant may murmur of the increased hardness of his services to the Norman knight, the effective complaint of the people —is to be located in the group of dispossessed English landlords now depressed into a middle class, and in the townsmen and the lower clergy who resent the Norman pretentions and preferment. It is this class in possession of literature and of history, a mere fraction of the whole population, and not the peasant with his limited village consciousness, which we are to understand by the term, "the English people," so vaguely employed by the historian of the Norman and Angevin period. 

b)  The result of the Norman Conquest was a serious shift in the balance of power between the classes. Throughout the Anglo-Saxon period the central government had difficulty in checking the constant tendencies to disintegration. The clever policy of William the Conquerer in balancing the power of his barons against the na- 

( 103) -tional consciousness of the English middle class, and the efforts in the same direction of two able successors, the first and second Henries, resulted in the gradual extinction of the powerful con-quest families, in the development of a centralized system of administration in the hands of officials selected from the middle class of Norman and English, and in the augmentation of the royal power. While a weak king like Stephen, handicapped by a defective title to the crown, may be unable to curb his vassals, an unscrupulous king, such as John, may use his great power so as to unite all classes against him for common protection.

c) The statement of grievances in terms of the restoration of old liberties was a social psychological product. The widespread hardship and social degradation of the Conquest caused the time and person of Edward the Confessor to become enshrined in pathos.[45] Neither the "good order" [46] which William the Conqueror established nor the later rising economic position of the people couldobliterate the lasting impression made upon the national sentiment. King William himself contributed to the growth of the obsession by his insistence upon his position as the chosen heir of Edward the Confessor,[47] as well as by his confirmation of the laws in force in the latter's reign,[48] and by his appointment of a committee of inquiry into the national customs.[49] Henry I, relying on the support of the English against the barons, recognized the national sentiment in his Charter of Liberties in the following words : "I restore to you the law of King Edward with the amendments which my father, by the advice of his barons, made in it."[50] The barons later made the confirmation of this charter the rallying-cry in opposition to the autocratic actions of John, and were supported by the church, by the towns, and by popular feeling. The emotional force that gathered about the old English laws and customs was strong enough to direct the course of policy in the struggle between the monarch and his barons, which was to continue until the War of the Roses.

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The socialization of the Anglo-Saxon period and of the first reigns after the Norman Conquest has been considered in its functional relation to the development of a centralized military and political organization for two purposes, national defense and national order. The result was a concentration of all but absolute power in the hands of the king. The socialization of England from the reign of John to the end of the War of the Roses will be interpreted as a crystallization of public opinion in the upper classes in connection with a struggle to safeguard the interests of the land-holding class against the arbitrary and unrestrained use of power by the king. The demands of the barons culminating in the signing of Magna Charta, its reissues and confirmations by Henry III and Edward I, the development of political machinery to enforce its provisions, the downfall of the feudal nobility in their internecine struggle were all stages in this conflict and made for the integration of national opinion.

According to a well-recognized principle of social psychology, in every crisis the spontaneous emotional reaction of the group attaches to that solution of the social problem which purposes to re-store old conditions. The difficulty of change in mental attitude is shown by the partiality always given to formulations of the new in terms of the old. So the barons, in basing their demands on "the confirmation of the laws of King Edward, with the liberties set forth in Henry's Charter," [51] carried with them the sentiment of the English middle class and of the church. So strong was the adhesion of these classes that the attempts of John to placate the church by the issue of a charter guaranteeing freedom of election,[52] and to detach the citizens of London from the side of the barons by the issue of a new charter,[53] both failed of their object. This support of the church, the city, and English opinion in general is all the more remarkable, since the provisions of Magna Charta are framed in the interests of the feudal lords. McKechnie gives an admirable refutation[54] of the popular opinion, sanctioned by Hallam, Stubbs, Gneist, and Green, that provision is made in the Great Charter for "the absolute equality of all classes and interests before the law." His analysis of the beneficiaries of its

( 105) provisions shows that Magna Charta bears prima facie evidence of class legislation; that the concessions to feudal aristocracy constitute the bulk of its provisions ; that the national church had already secured its advantage by separate charter ; that the recognition of the claims of under-tenants is vague and indefinite; that scarcely more than the confirmation of existing privileges was granted to the merchant and trading classes ; that the villeins are regarded by the charter as "chattels attached to a manor, not as members of an English commonwealth." [55] The Great Charter is, in fact, class legislation to satisfy the selfish, if also the just, demands of men highly conscious of their own interests and indifferent to the welfare of others.

The significance of Magna Charta does not lie in the sum-total of its provisions. Its real meaning is to be found in the relation which it sustained to political and constitutional development. This document from the first has exercised a profound influence upon national opinion and sentiment. The dramatic contest of selfish barons with a despotic king caught the imagination of every generation and came to symbolize all future struggle between liberty and arbitrary government. In short, Magna Charta entered the "mores." The hypnotic spell of its name was employed to paralyze resistance to all subsequent measures of reform. Practically all the constitutional guaranties of freedom[56] have been read into the document: trial by jury, the right of the writ of habeas corpus, prohibition of monopolies, the connection between taxation and representation, equality before the law. In the fight for constitutional freedom against the Stuarts, appeal[57] was taken to the Great Charter. The overpowering effect of the sanction of this venerable "palladium of English liberties" is thus estimated by McKechnie : "The stigma of being banned by the Great Charter was usually too great a burden for any institution or line of policy to bear. If the belief prevailed that an abuse complained of was really prohibited by Magna Charta, the most arbitrary king had difficulty in finding judges who would declare it legal, or trustworthy ministers who would persevere in enforcing it."[58] So in reality the Great Charter was not so much the instrument signed by John as it was a traditional interpretation of that act, a folk-product, a living psychic symbol capable of growth to meet future national crises.

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Then, too, not only in the folk-mind, but in the document as well, is recorded the explicit recognition by the king of the sub-ordination of the royal power to the laws of England. Henceforth, the king was to be beneath and not above the constitution, rather the executor than the source of law. The four signatures of the Great Charter extorted from Henry III, and the three signatures of his single-minded son, Edward I, were earnest of the definite purpose of the barons to hold the king to his word. The cumber-some machinery provided for the execution of the provisions of the Great Charter in the document itself, and the futile attempt of the "Mad Parliament" half a century later to institute an awkward system of government through committees, indicate the lack of confidence on the part of the baronage in the "pen and ink" promise of the king and the strong determination to provide a practical instrument for its enforcement. One aspect of the history of England from the signing of the Great Charter to the present day is the evolution of the political machinery parallel with the growth of the historical interpretation of Magna Charta. From the admission of the representatives of the towns and shires in 1265 to the abolition of the veto power of the House of Lords in 1911, the history of Parliament might be written in terms of the growing powers of the House of Commons. Or, to grasp the significance of the process, we should speak of the successive admission of the different classes to influence and control in the government : first, the feudal barons ; then the aristocracy and the merchants ; later, the industrial leaders ; and finally, the working class. National socialization, then, exhibits these two tendencies, a progressive in-crease of the circle of participation in political control, and a substitution of impersonal government through law and legislation for the personal rule of the king. All through the period we are speaking of, and indeed up to the Georges, the strength of the central government, notwithstanding the increase of administrative force and of national loyalty, is still dependent, to a large extent, upon the personal ability and attitude of the hereditary monarch. At any rate, from the time of the Great Charter to the accession of Henry VII, the history of England is an alternation of periods of internal disorder and periods of brilliant attempts at foreign aggrandizement. The crude checks imposed by a strong feudal aristocracy temper the despotism of an able king, but result in anarchy in the reign of a weak or incapable prince. The rule of the princes

( 107) of the House of Lancaster marks the culmination of the ascendancy of Parliament and the definite subordination of the king to the limitations upon the royal power imposed by the feudal aristocracy. Heedless of the new economic and social forces that were undermining the foundation of the feudal order and which found concrete expression in the growth of towns and in the Peasants' evolt, the great noble families thoughtlessly hurried into the War of the Roses and committed class-suicide.

The peasants' rebellion is a significant landmark in the disintegration of the feudal system. Long before the Great Plague, the commutation of labor dues and the rise of a wage-paid working class had gone far[59] toward the elimination of servile features from the villein tenure. The Black Death, by its decimation of the population, caused a rise in wages which legislation was powerless[60] to prevent. The attempts of the landlords to restore the obsolete feudal services proved abortive and finally provoked the peasants to revolt. This uprising of the lower classes, though technically a failure, actually resulted in the practical[61] extinction of villeinage. "Their own rebellion failed ; but the slow agricultural revolution . . . . gradually set the villeins free."[62] But the changes among the classes immediately subordinate to the feudal aristocracy were as great as the transformation of the service-performing villeins and cotters into small tenants and wage-earners. The Great Plague, in thinning the gentry, tended to the consolidation of estates and the consequent formation of an influential landholding class below the baronage. At the same time the increase in wages for economy of cultivation tended toward the multiplication of small holdings, thereby augmenting[63] the numbers of the yeoman class. The bare enumeration of the tendencies indicate how far economic changes were at work in weakening and in loosening the old personal ties. Yet, though the economic personal ties were breaking asunder, the psychic personal ties persisted in the intimate relation of the squire and the tenant. Even when the peasants rose against their lords, their purpose was to form a peasant monarchy in which the king would be the immediate patron of the countrymen[64]

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We may now briefly recapitulate the steps traced in the decay of the social system of feudal personal arrangements. In its unadulterated form, the relations between man and man are personal; social organization is a complex of arrangements of mutual services and obligations of a man to his lord and of a lord to his man. Even in Anglo-Saxon times there was a strong tendency toward the substitution of territorial for personal relations, which the Norman Conquest brought about in full. Magna Charta was a definite stage in the supplanting of the personal relation of the king to his vassals in the Great Council by an impersonal constitution regulating the powers and duties of sovereign and subject. The destruction of the feudal aristocracy, while causing a reversion under the Tudors and the Stuarts to personal absolute rule, at the same time involved an immense development of the impersonal mechanism of administration. Finally, the economic changes in progress undermined the feudal order and made necessary a reorganization of society on a new basis. But before considering the long period of transition from personal to impersonal relations, we turn to a discussion of the type of personal relations which developed in the mediaeval town.


  1. What Is History? 1905, p. 46.
  2. Vide Seebohm, English Historical Review, VII (1892), 465.
  3. The Saxon, Frisian, and Thuringian system on the Continent provided for the threefold division of classes above slaves (Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 123).
  4. Stubbs, Constitutional History, 6th ed., 1897, I, 78.
  5. Tribal Custom, pp. 518-19.
  6. Powell, in Social England, I, 122.
  7. On the contrary, Maitland inclines decidedly to the Germanic position of extermination or expulsion. (Domesday Book and Beyond, 1897, p. 222).
  8. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 140.
  9. Seebohm, Tribal Custom, p. 499.
  10. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 141.
  11. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 217.
  12. Ibid., p. 127.
  13. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 145. Also cf.: "The outlines of our nucleated villages may have been drawn for us by Germanic settlers, whereas in the land of hamlets and scattered steads old Celtic arrangements may never have been thoroughly effaced."—Maitland, op. cit., p. 15.
  14. Maitland, op. cit.,, p. 346.
  15. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 182.
  16. Ibid.,pp. 181-82.
  17. Op. cit., p. 165.
  18. Op. cit., I, 65, note.
  19. Gneist, Constitutional History of England (Ashworth's trans., 1885), I, 85.
  20. History of the English People, 1878, I, 57.
  21. Bćda, Historium Ecclesiasticum, Book V, chap. xxiv.
  22. Op. cit., pp. 96-97.
  23. About 1,700 parish churches to 10,000 manors (Gneist, op. cit., I, 75).
  24. Cunningham, op. cit., I, 27-28.
  25. Stubbs, op. cit., I, 267.
  26. "The bishop clung to the crown, and the bishop remained a great social and political power. As local in area as the ealdorman, for the province was his diocese and he sat by his side in the local Witenagemote, he furnished a standing check on the independence of the great nobles."—Green, op. cit., I,94.
  27. Stubbs, op. cit., I, 267-68.
  28. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 227.
  29. Ibid, pp. 218-19.
  30. Op.cit., p. 8.
  31. Ibid., pp. 3-4.
  32. Maitland, op. cit., p. 55.
  33. Powell, in Social England, I, 240.
  34. Lee, Source Book of English History, 1900, p. 88.
  35. Stubbs, op. cit., I, 275.
  36. Lee, op. cit., p. 102.
  37. Thorpe, Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, 1840, I, 179.
  38. Ibid., p. 59.
  39. Lee, op. cit., p. 90.
  40. Vinogradofl, op. cit., pp. 218-19; Maitland, op. cit., pp. 323-24.
  41. Social England, I, 240-41.
  42. Vinogradoff, op. cit., p. 299.
  43. lbid., p. 296.
  44. Maitland, op. cit., p. 171.
  45. "His was the one figure that stood out bright against the darkness when England lay trodden under foot by Norman conquerors. . . . In-stead of freedom, the subjects of William and Henry called for the `good laws of Edward the Confessor.' "—Green, op. cit., I, 104.
  46. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A. 1087; Lee, op. cit., p. 118.
  47. Stubbs, op. cit., I, 280.
  48. Ibid., I, 290, n. 2.  
  49. Ibid., I, 291.
  50. Ibid., I, 290, n. 2.
  51. McKechnie, Magna Charta, 1905, p. 39.
  52. Ibid.., p. 39.
  53. Ibid., p. 41.  
  54. Ibid., pp. 133-34.
  55. lbid., p. 143.    
  56. Ibid., p. 156.
  57. Ibid., p. 155.
  58. Ibid., pp. 157-58.
  59. Gibbins, op. cit., pp. 150-51.   
  60. lbid., p. 153.
  61. Ibid., p. 171.
  62. Cunningham, op. cit., I, 361.
  63. Gibbins, op. cit., p. 157.
  64. Cf. Green, op. cit., I, 476, 479; Cunningham, op. cit., p. 360.

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