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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)

Allen, William F.
The origin of the freeholders,   pp. 19-24 PDF (1.8 MB)


Page 24


24     Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters.
the same tenure, and his son William the other half, as a freehold.
Here are two clear cases of the conversion of serfs into freemen,
and of customary tenure into freehold.
  It would appear, therefore, to be proved that the freeholders,
or tenants by free socage, were, as a class, the creation of feudal-
ism; that the feudalization of England was accompanied, or rather
accomplished in detail, by the creation of a body of immediate
tenants to the lords of the manors, who, without these, would have
had no complete jurisdiction. The tenure itself would appear to be
simply the French censive, or agricultural fief, which is in its nature
and form wholly analogous with the fief proper; it may also have
had some analogy to the tenure by which the socheemanni of the
eastern counties held their land, and from this to havereceived the
name socagium. If this view is correct, it would follow that the
feudalization of the township, its conversion into the manor, con-
sisted in the introduction of this new class of tenants, holding by
a new tenure. For this purpose leading villeins would naturally
by selected, and thQ cases of Robert son of Wlurund and Lambert
Gross show very clearly the process. That this class, new and
of foreign and feudal origin, became the most valuable and char-
acteristic of the English institutions, is due to the strong vitality
and power of assimilation of thne English constitution, whose trial
by jury was also of foreign origin, and which even turned an ex-
ceptionally despotic royalty into an instrument of freedom.
p


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