Лекция 5 | England in the High Middle Ages (Часть 2)

Richard was one of not so many English kings buried outside Britain. He willed his brains and blood to be buried in different parts of his French possessions, his heart in Rouen, where French kings were crowned.

In legends he remained as an ideal knight – bold and noble. Historians say that he was a good poet but a bad king. He didn’t cure about England. He lagged his century behind. As Philip united France and tried to establish law, Richard did practically nothing for England.

The Crusade wasn’t successful. Richard quarreled with many kings and had to steal to England. He was captured. Nobody in England knew where he was. Richard’s friend, the poet, walked through Europe with a song, which they had composed together. In Germany he was answered by Richard. The emperor had to release him but he appointed a tremendous ransom. The Britons had to pay a large tax. Historians say that Richard was a good poet but a bad king.

2) The Great Charter of Liberty

  1. had no lawful children, that’s why he was succeeded by his brother John the Lackland[1]. Vice versa he is famous for his unpopularity. He was a younger brother, so he was deprived of lands fist. May be it was the reason of his greediness. When he became the king he got money and increased taxes for everything: inheritage, marriage, trials. His nobles had lands both in England and in France. According to the feudal system their duty was to serve, and his – to protect their lands. In 1201 he gathered his nobles on the pretext of leading them to France to protect their lands. They had money for war with them. But John took their money and told them to go home. As a result the French king invaded and took Normandy away. John became the Land Lack for the second time. And his nobles lost their lands. The result was a rebellion headed by barons. They decid­ed to compose a document which included laws and rules the British monarch had to obey. It was called «Magna Carta Libertatum», or “The Great Char­ter of Freedoms”. The aristocracy made an agreement with the merchants of some cities. They gathered several kilometers outside London and adopted the document. It meant fair trial for freemen, none could be imprisoned without a trial. The document was composed by barons and for barons not for common peo­ple. But it was the first limitation of kings’ power in the medieval European history. It was a step to parliament and preserving rights of common people in the perspective.

King John was forced to sign Magna Carta, he did it with a smile, but he hoped not to fulfill its rules[2]. And he tried. The barons rebelled again. John was so much depressed by his mistakes that the next year 1216 he died.

The main articles of the charter were:

— The freeman may be imprisoned only being sentenced by his peers

— Entering and leaving the country is free

The next king John the Lackland was known for his greediness. He took the money of his nobles but couldn’t protect their lands. Normandy was lost. The barons raised a rebellion and made the king sign “The Great Char­ter of Freedoms”. The freeman couldn’t be imprisoned without the trial of their peers

The next kings had to take the Great Charter into consideration. Modern Britain hasn’t a single constitution. But it has an amount of the main laws. Sometimes they are called the constitution.

What is the oldest part of this constitution? — the Great Charter

England was the first country in Europe that limited the power of the king. It was noticed that the erlier was the monarchy limited, the more chances to survive it had. May be the British monarchy was saved by the barons in 1215

England was the first country in Europe that limited the power of the king. “The Charter” is still the acting law in Britain

3) Robin Hood

We have spoken about the kings of the period. And now we are going to speak about the common but the famous person. His name is Robin Hood. The legends connect him with the High Middle Ages, with the period of Richard the Lion Heart and John the Land Lack. The historians say that his prototype lived one hundred yeas later, in the beginning of the XIV century.

The origin of the legends lays in the situation of the Norman period. The forests were taken away from the peasants. The bigger part of the forests belonged to the king. The nobles could hunter foxes, hares, wild boars. But only the king and his men[3] could hunter deers. The peasants couldn’t graze cattle near the forests. There were houses for the rest of king and his man in the forests. Each house contained a little prison for the breakers of the forest laws. People hated the forest laws and poached. Robin Hood became the symbolic protector of the poor against rich and mighty. But was there any prototype or is he a pure legend?

First it was thought that Robin was the creature of legends and the pure fantasy. But in the XIX century (1852) the historian whose surname occurred to be Hunter found rather interesting documents in the British Archives. They told that in 1290 a boy was born in the family of the forest guard Adam Hood. The boy was called Robert (not Robin). He grew and married. But he had a trouble. He lived at the land of the Duke Lancaster who started the war against English king. And the Duke made Robert to join his army. The Duke defeated and was executed. And the common members of his army were declared to be outlaws. May be since that moment Robert hid into the forest, organized the band of the other miserable outlaws and gave the start to the legends about Robin Hood. From the legends we know that Robin met king Richard the Lion heart, was forgiven and was even taken into king’s guard.

Why couldn’t it be?

Because Robert Hood lived in the XIV century and Richard the Lion heart in the XII

But we know from documents (accounts) that Robert Hood served in the personal guard of the king Edward II for several months in 1324. Probably it was Edward who dared to meet Robin in the Sherwood forest and who forgave him.

An interesting evidence, that not everything had been invented, appeared in the end of the XVIII century. The argument about the Robin Hood romances were extremely hot then. According to legends his lieutenant was Little John, the man of a great height and force. There was a legend that Little John was buried in the village of Hutterseidge. A group of gentlemen came there and dug the grave off. They found the skeleton of a man of a huge height and a sword. Since that time few people in England have hesitated that Little John really existed.

In the Norman period the commoners were prohibited to hunt in the forests. The Robin Hood romances go back to that situation. His prototype was Robert Hood of XIV outlawed for taking part in the rebellion. The tomb of Little John was excavated in the XVIII

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