CHAPTER VII
THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION

Perhaps in no country is the study of history so important for the study of government as in England. Indeed, it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of English History for the study everywhere of political and legal institutions. In England, such institutions have developed in a natural and almost unbroken manner for centuries. What in these matters appears to be more the working of nature than of man is full of instruction.

The beginning of the history of what would be called today the central or national government in England, that is to say, of the government of the country as a whole, may for convenience be dated from the Norman Conquest in 1066. This does not mean, of course, that government in England on a scale larger than the local had no history previous to the eleventh century. It is merely that the consolidation of the country was primarily the great work of the Normans. At their coming, they found well established local governments; and, for this reason, the periods that antedate the Norman Conquest are exceedingly important for the study of English Local Government. The Normans, according to a convenient generalization by special students of the period, left this local government largely as they found it. They devoted their attention primarily to the firm establishment of government on a larger scale.

Such consolidation of England as existed at the time of William the Conqueror was, of course, the work of Teutonic Tribes which had, from the fifth century on, following the departure of the Romans, overcome parts of the country. The West Saxons, more especially, extended their sway far enough in the

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