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Our Saxons, though divided into many kingdoms, yet were they all one in effect, in manners, laws, and language; so that the breaking of their government into many kingdoms, or the re-uniting their kingdoms into a monarchy, wrought little or no change anongst them, touching laws: for though we talk of the IV'est-Saxon law, the Mercian law, and the Dane law, whereby the west parts of England, the middle parts, and those of Norfolk, Suffolk, and the north, were severally governed; yet held they all an uniformity in substance, differing rather in their mulct than in their Canea, that is, in the quantity of fines and amercements, than in the course and frame of justice.
Therefore, when all these kingdoms grew into one monarchy, as under Alured, Ethelstane, Edgar, &c. this bred no notable innovation in any of them; for the king had no new law to impose upon his new subjects, nor were his new subjects unacquainted with his form of government; having always lived according to the same. So that when Edward the Confessor came to take away these small differences that were between these three laws, he did it even in these fickle and unconstant times, without all tumult or contradiction; making that his alteration famous rather by the new nanie, than by the new matter. For abolishing the three particular names before mentioned, he now called it the common law of .
England, for that no part of the kingdom should henceforth be governed by any particular law, but all alike by a common law. But insomuch as this common law is but the half arch of the government, tending only to the temporal part thereof, and not unto the ecclesiastical; I cannot well present the one without the other, and must therefore make a project of the whole arch, that so the strength and uniformity of both the parts may the better be conceived.
As therefore each side of an arch descendeth alike from the cone, or top-point; so both the parts of that their government was alike deduced from the king, each of them holding correspondency one with the other, (like two loving sisters) both in aspect and in lineaments.
To begin with the right side, or eldest sister: the estate ecclesiastical was first divided into provinces ; every province into many bishoprics; every bishopric into many arch-deaconries; every arch-deaconry into divers deaneries; every deanery into many p&rishes. And all these committed to their several governors, parsons, deans, arch-deacons, bishops, and arch-bishops, who, as subordinate one to the other, did not only execute the charge of these their several portions, but were accountant also for the game to their superiors.
The parson, as ima species, 'was to hear and deter
mine the breaches of God's peace, of love, and che sity, within his parish, to reprove the inordinate life of his parishioners: and though he could not strike with the ecclesiastical sword, yet might he shake it against them by enjoining notorious offenders to contrition, repentance, satisfaction, and some time by removing them from the blessed sacrament.
The dean to take cognizance of the life and conversation of the parsons and clergymen of every parish within his deanery; to censure breach of churchpeace, and to punish incontinent and infamous livers, by excommunication, penance, &c.
And because there could be no breach of the king's. peace, but it must also break the peace and unity of the church; the bishop's dean in whose deanery the peace was broken, had in some cases 10s. for his part of the mulct, or fine thereof; as appeareth Ll. Ed. Confess. cap. 31.
The arch-deacon, drawing nearer to the bishop, drew the more pre-eminence from him, and was his coadjutor in the ordination of clerks, having a superintendent power over all parochial parsons within every deanery of his precinct.
The bishop, as the greatest orb of the diocese, had jurisdiction and coercion through the same, in all ecclesiastical causes, and in all persons; except monasteries exempted. And for this purpose had two general synods in the year, wherein all the clergy of
his diocese assembled for determining matters touching the church, as well in faith as in government.
But the archbishop (to bind up this golden faggot in the band of union and conformity) comprehended all the bishops of his province, sub pallio suce plenitudinis, or sub plenitudine potestatis: having supreme jurisdiction to visit and reform all in their dioceses, whatsoever was defective or omitted. That by this means no transgression might break through so many wards, but if it escaped the sword of Hazael, Jehu might slay it; or if it passed them both, yet Elisha might light upon it.
This was the model of the church policy; composed no doubt out of that fundamental rule of government prescribed by Jethro unto Moses: Appoint rulers over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. According to the steps whereof the state temporal did likewise take her lineaments.
For the temporal government was likewise divided into satrapies or dukedoms, which contained in them divers counties ; the county divers lathes or trithings; every trithing divers hundreds or wapentakes; every hundred divers towns or lordships, shortly after called baronies. · And the government of all these was committed into their several heads; viz. towns or manors to the lords thereof, whom the Saxons called theings, after barons; hundreds to the fords of the hundreds; trithings or lathes to their
trithingreves; counties to their earls or aldermen; and the larger satrapies to their dukes or chief princes. All which had subordinate authority, one under the other; and did within the precinct of their own territories minister justice to their subjects.
For the theinge or lord of the town, (whom the Normans called a baron,) had, of old, jurisdiction over them of his own town, (being as it were his colony;) and as Cornelius Tacitus saith, did Agricoliş suis jus dicere. For those whom we now call tenants, were in those ancient times but husbandmen dwelling upon the soil of the lord, and manuring the same, on such conditions as the lord assigned; or else such as were their followers in the wars, and had therefore portions of ground appointed unto them in respect of that service; which portion was thereupon called a knights-fee; for that a servant in the war, whom the Saxons called a knight, had it allotted unto him as the fee or wages of his service. Neither at the first had they these their fees, but at the lord's pleasure, or for a time limited; and therefore both these kinds of military and husbandmen dwelling upon the town or colony of the lord, were, (as in reason they ought) under the censure and will of their lord touching the lands they occupied; who therefore set them laws and customs, how and in what manner they should possess these their lands ; and as any controversy rose about them, the lord,