It is impossible to understand, with any degree of accuracy, either the civil constitution of this kingdom, or the laws which regulate it’s landed property, without some general acquaintance with the nature and doctrine of feuds, or the feodal law: a system so universally received throughout Europe, upwards of twelve centuries ago, that sir Henry Spelman does not scruple to call it the law of nations in our western world. This chapter will be therefore dedicated to this inquiry. And though, in the course of our observations in this and many other parts of the present book, we may have occasion to search pretty highly into the antiquities of our English jurisprudence, yet surely no industrious student will imagine his time misemployed when he is led to consider that the obsolete doctrines of our laws are frequently the foundation, upon which what remains is erected; and that it is impracticable to comprehend many rules of the modern law, in a scholarlike scientifical manner, without having recourse to the antient. Nor will these researches be altogether void of rational entertainment as well as use: as in viewing the majestic ruins of Rome or Athens, of Balbec or Palmyra, it administers both pleasure and instruction to compare them with the draughts of the same edifices, in their pristine proportion and splendor.
KeywordsGeneral Council Present Book Roman Empire Military Discipline Mere Fiction
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- 1.Sir Thomas Craig, Jus feudale (London, 1665), 19, 20. [The work-shop (sic. breeding-ground) of nations.]Google Scholar
- 1.[David Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxonicae Ecclesiasticae et Civiles (London, 1721): we decree, that all free men bind themselves by a treaty and an oath, that they will be faithful to King William, their lord, within and without the whole kingdom of England [which was formerly called the Kingdom of Britain]; that they will everywhere keep in true fealty his land and honours with him, and defend them against his enemies abroad and at home.]Google Scholar