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  • Print publication year: 1979
  • Online publication date: January 2010

Chap. XXIV - Public obligations of heads of houses



In an earlier volume some account was given of the imposition of military service upon a certain number of religious houses. This, as has been shown by Round and others, was accomplished once and for all within a few years of the Conquest, probably in 1070, and was entirely arbitrary in its incidence, bearing relation neither to the wealth nor to the importance of the house concerned, but solely to the actual state, troubled or otherwise, of the locality. In the centuries that came after, the religious houses holding by military service followed in general the current practices of other military tenants: they succeeded, for example, by the end of the reign of Henry III, in establishing the principle o.c tendering for military purposes less than one-sixth of their original servicium debitum, and of acquitting themselves of their remaining responsibility, in default of corporal service, either by the money payment of scutage or by a pecuniary fine. Corporal service, which had early tended to fall into desuetude, can be shown to have been revived, even in the case of religious fees, in the reign of Henry III, thus giving an interesting parallel to the roughly contemporary revival of labour service, and, with the latter, indicating clearly that in feudal incidents as in other matters the medieval centuries do not provide a clear picture of a continuous change from a fully feudal to a fully pecuniary or other economy.