The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216

By Frank Barlow | Go to book overview

10
THE ANGEVIN DESPOTISM

I

KING HENRY II gave alms on all the great church festivals: on Christmas day he disbursed two marks of gold and on Easter day and Whitsunday one mark of gold, with lesser sums on the three following days of solemnity; and on the feasts of the Circumcision, Epiphany, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ash Wednesday, the Annunciation of the B.V.M., Palm Sunday, the Ascension, the Birth of St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, the Assumption of the B.V.M., the Nativity of the B.V.M., St. Michael, and All Saints, he gave one ounce of gold. His almoner, Thomas Brown, took a note of the system. A highly ritualistic society was beginning to record its behaviour.

Of all the political groupings only the church had an ideal pattern, fervently displayed, and strenuously applied to a recalcitrant world. The lay princes might employ civil lawyers who saw in the Roman empire a model for a secular kingdom; but the imperial idea was so foreign to feudal politics that it contributed far more to the church than to the state. In polemical warfare with the church the lay authorities were always the losers, for their advocates were either apologetic or clumsily strident. But in workaday politics the secular state held its own. It had an obvious function; it wielded the sharper if inferior sword; and it was supported by inveterate custom. The church justified its aims and ideals by appealing to the past: to the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the decisions of earlier popes and councils. The secular state also looked to the past, but only to justify present practice or a reform masquerading as a restoration. The church's danger, intensified by the intellectual revival, lay in excessive attention to the ideal, in creating a logical

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The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introductory Note v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Maps and Charts xii
  • I - England in the Reign of Edward the Confessor 1
  • 2 - The Reign of Edward the Confessor 55
  • 3 - The Norman Conquest of England 77
  • 4 - The Anglo-Norman Kingdom 100
  • 5 England and Normandy, 1066-1100 137
  • 6 - The Zenith and the Nadir of Norman Rule, 1100-1154 171
  • 7 - Social Changes in England 235
  • 8 - The Re-Establishment of the Monarchy Under Henry II 283
  • 9 - The Angevin Empire 331
  • 10 - The Angevin Despotism 375
  • Epilogue 436
  • Note on Books 442
  • Index 445
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