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By H. W. C. Davis

Text in [square brackets] was added especially for this online publication by Ellopos


Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe

Page 4

Sometimes the victory rests with the lord, and sometimes with the burgesses. Accordingly, there are two kinds of chartered town. The larger class includes communities enjoying certain privileges under the rule of seignorial functionaries. A smaller class consists of those which are not only privileged but "free," that is, self-governing bodies corporate. The distinction between the two classes is not precise enough to satisfy a modern lawyer. Often a "free" town is obliged to allow the lord some voice in the appointment of magistrates; while the humblest body of traders may enjoy the right of doing justice in a market-court without the interference of a bailiff. The one class shades off into the other, if only for the reason that "freedom" is usually won by a gradual process of bargaining or encroachment on the part of towns which are already privileged. The higher type is simply a later stage in the natural course of municipal development.

If we analyse the privileges of those towns which remain in leading-strings, the first in order of time and of importance is the town-peace, which only the king or his delegate can grant. Invested with this peace the town becomes, like a royal palace or the shrine of a saint, a sanctuary protected by special pains and penalties; the burgess stands to the king in the same relation as the widow and the orphan; to do him wrong is an outrage against the royal majesty. Next comes the right of trade. The burgesses are allowed to commute their servile dues and obligations for a fixed money-rent, that they may be at liberty for pursuits more lucrative than agriculture.

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The Western Medieval Europe: Table of Contents

url: www.ellopos.net/politics/medieval-europe/


Rediscovering the Path to Europe Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House

Learned Freeware

Cf. Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Ancient Rome * Ancient Greece * The Making of Europe

Davis' Medieval Europe in Print or for Amazon Kindle

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