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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Who had meanwhile reached Flanders


Compelled

to make incessant efforts, which exhausted the resources of the crown, Edward appealed to the voluntary assistance of his subjects. He laid down to them the principle, that their common perils should be met with their united strength, that what concerns all must also be borne by all. In the war against Wales he had gathered together the representatives of the counties and the towns, to hear his demands and to act accordingly; chiefly to vote him subsidies. After the victory he had called an assembly of nobles, knights, and towns, to take counsel with them about the treatment of the captives and the country. Similarly he drew together the representatives of the towns in order to decide the affairs of Scotland. With especial emphasis did he call for their united help against Philip the Fair of France, who thought to destroy the English tongue from off the earth: knights and towns were pledged to help in carrying out the resolutions thus adopted by common consent.

In spite of all this appealing to free participation in public matters, Edward I did not refrain from the arbitrary imposition of taxes, and those the most oppressive: the eighth, even the fifth part of men's income. For the campaign in Flanders he summoned the under-tenants as well as the tenants in chief. We find instances of arbitrary seizure of whatever was necessary for the war.

King Edward excused this by his maxim that the interests of the land

must be defended with the resources of the land,[42] but we can conceive how, on the boundary line between two different systems, acts of violence, which combined the arbitrariness of the one with the principles of the other, caused a general agitation. In the year 1297 the spiritual lords under their archbishop, as well as the temporal ones (who denied the obligation to serve beyond the sea) under the Constable and Marshal, set themselves energetically to oppose the King. The people, which had the most to suffer from the arbitrary exactions, took their side with cordial approval. They set forth all the grievances of the country, and insisted on their immediate and final redress.

To avoid the pressure, the King had already quitted England, to carry on his campaign in Flanders: the demand was laid before the Councillors whom he had left behind as assessors to his son, who was named Regent. They however were in great perplexity, partly from the trouble of this agitation itself, but mainly from the revolt in Scotland which had broken out in a formidable manner. William Walays, like one of those Heyduck chiefs who rise in Turkey against the established order of things, the right of which they do not recognise, had come down from the hill country, at the head of the fugitives and exiles, a robber-patriot, of gigantic bodily strength and innate talent for war. His successes soon increased his band to the size of an army; he beat the English in a pitched battle, and then swept over the borders into the English territory. If the royal commissioners would oppose a strong resistance to this inroad, they must needs ratify a provisional concession of the demands brought forward. The King, who had meanwhile reached Flanders, which the French had entered from two sides, could not possibly yield to the Scottish movement--whether he wished to carry on the war or make a truce: nothing therefore remained to him but to confirm the concessions made by his councillors.

It is not absolutely certain how far these had gone; one word of discussion may be allowed on the matter.

The historians of the time have maintained that the right of voting the taxes was granted to the Estates, and in fact conjointly to the nobles whether spiritual or temporal, and the representatives of the counties and


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