England in the Fifteenth Century

By W. Denton | Go to book overview

ENGLAND IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.

INTRODUCTION.

PART I.

Formation of modern English language--Decay of Anglo-Norman-- Growth of English spirit--Growth of constitution and parliament-- Responsibility of ministers of the crown--Manor and county courts--Legal reforms--Modification of feudal system in England--Prosperity of the people in the reign of Edward I.--Houses--Furniture--Art--Horticulture --Law and lawyers--Statesmen--Scholastic philosophy.

I. B

BEFORE the end of the thirteenth century, both the language and political constitution of England had taken their present forms. Grammarians regret that the language had at that time lost somewhat of its force, chiefly through the infusion of words from the Norman French. This loss of force will be forgiven by those who consider that it arose out of the circumstance which strengthened the framework of society, the more perfect union of the two races, the English and the Norman speaking people, of which the nation was mainly composed.1 At this time almost every distinction between these two, the English people and the descendants of the followers of the Conqueror, had disappeared. In the eye of the law all subjects of the crown living in England were English.2

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1
Old English Miscellany, preface, ix. (Early Text Soc.); Silas Taylor, On Gavelkind, p. 75.
2
To this fact, that the descendants of the Normans in England had become English and had lost their sympathy with the people of Normandy, Sismondi attributes the ease with which that province was lost to England. "Les peuples qui avaient obéi si long temps aux Anglais se sentaient plus Français qu'à aucune époque précédente, justement parce que leur maîtres étaient plus Anglais."-- Precis Hist. des Français, t. i., p. 351.

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