Why did the Normans invade England?

36 3 THE “FREE-BORN ENGLISH” AND HIS RIGHT WHY ALFRED THE GREAT IMPORTANT “No people in Europe”, writes Hans-Dieter Gelfert in his brilliant study “Typically English. How the British became what they are "," looks back on a happier history than the English ", and he sees the epitome of this happiness in the steadiness of the English course of life, its continuity over the centuries. Indeed, this is the overwhelming impression that studying the island leaves behind, even with a fleeting study. Geography contributed a lot to England's stroke of luck, as the island location gave for a long time an invulnerability behind which an independent character could develop excellently. Stone by stone, a family story was built up that can be continuously retold like a great epic. No wonder that this also exerts a fascination on German history, in the words of Lothar Gall, “to this day”. The core of English history is the development of a community in which the legitimate interests of the citizens have been included from the earliest times. Obedience to the ruler could be sued because the law was above everyone, including the crown. Where the monarch forgot and put himself above the law, there was resistance. It even cost Charles I his head, his successor but one was chased out of the country. How freedom was preserved and preserved under the protection of the gradually evolving parliament - there is no subject that better or more captivates the essence of Great Britain, its continuity and stability in history. To start this story with William, the Duke of Normandy, who defeated the last Anglo-Saxon King Harald on October 14, 1066 near Hastings in what is now East Sussex and conquered the island, is of course not enough. Because almost two hundred years earlier, another ruler, and that with constant threat from hostile warriors, the Vikings (Danes), had built up an empire of legal norms that many later could refer to. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex (West Saxony, which coincides with today's western and southern England), was the most important Anglo-Saxon king between the end of Roman rule in Britain (410) and the arrival of the Normans. It protrudes from the age we call the dark like a beacon of progress. In the year 878 Alfred was able to push the Danes, who appeared again and again, into their own realm, the Danelag in the east and central north of the island, and then concentrate entirely on his reform work in Wessex, on his very modern ideas of law, education and history. First of all, he had Anglo-Saxon and Franconian lawyers collected all traces of Anglo-Saxon legal usage in a codex that became the basis of the legal culture of his time. This so-called Book of Dooms, or “dom-boc” in Old English, was a collection of judgments (dooms) with legal effect and took up what was already a tradition before Alfred - the Anglo-Saxon customary law (case law), a case law like her much later became the basis of English common law. Alfred also created a system of fiefs and taxes, regulated what individuals owed and to whom, and for the first time introduced fines for violations of the law. Women 38 3 THE “FREE-BORN ENGLISH” AND HIS RIGHTS enjoyed greater rights in his empire than in many centuries later; they were allowed to own land in their own name, had the right to get divorced, and could not be forced into marriage or even sold into one. In his orders to the officials in the regions of his empire and on his coins, this feudal ruler appeared as the "King of the Anglecynn" (English) - he earned the right to this title with a cultural feat: the sowing of an early, rudimentary historical consciousness among the people Subjects of the empire. To this end, the king called the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" into being, a chronicle that, continued into the 12th century, was to become the most important source for the Anglo-Saxon and early medieval history of the country. Another historical work, translated into the old English idiom, now gained new meaning: the "Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum", the "Church history of the English people" by the Benedictine monk and historian Beda Venerabilis from the year 731. The bishops of the country Christianized three hundred years before Alfred This should also provide documents to promote general literacy. The system of rule and law that Alfred the Great left behind - he died in 899 - was for the Normans the bridge on which they walked so as not to turn against the people they now ruled with too great innovations and structural upheavals . Even with William the Conqueror, continuity gained decisive weight in British political thought. Alfred, the great Anglo-Saxon, can also be found in the Walhalla near Regensburg honored with a memorial plaque, which King Ludwig I of Bavaria had erected in 1842 in honor of this “honorable German”. 39 THE NORMANS IN ANGELSAXE TRADITION THE NORMANS TAKE OVER THE ANGELSAXE TRADITION Daniel Defoe, the author of "Robinson Crusoe", was right when he rhymed in 1701: "A true-born Englishman's a contradiction / In speech an irony, in fact a fiction" - "A real-born Englishman is a contradiction, as a word an irony, as a fact a fiction." This "half-breed mixed race" had Roman ancestors, including Picts and Celtic ancestors such as the Scots, then Jutes, Angles, Saxons and other Germanic invaders, who were followed by the Vikings, who were transformed into Danes, albeit difficult to tame. And the Normans added their share to this gene pool after 1066. William the Conqueror turned the Anglo-Saxon society, which was still split into the different domains of Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex, into an entire English feudal system in which the king, as supreme liege lord, legally became the owner of the entire country. He gave land to his most loyal military followers, who in turn shared more plots of land among their followers. But the new owners by the grace of the king, the earls or barons, were not nearly as powerful as their counterparts on the European continent, who could expand as counts and princes with their own principalities outside the imperial headquarters. The new ruler had assigned tenants-in-chief fiefs all over England, none of which were large enough to compete with the ruler. So England became a tightly centralized kingdom. At the end of his reign the monarch even had the first inventory of all properties in the country that we received, the "Domesday Book", because he wanted to know exactly who owned what, where and how much for tax purposes. Despite his far-reaching rulership rights, Wilhelm could not rule like an absolute monarch, but deliberately restricted his power in two places. He did not rule on the way William the Conqueror (1066-1087), Duke of Normandy (l.), Meets the last king of the Anglo-Saxons, Harald II. (R.), Detail from the so-called Bayeux Tapestry 40 3 DER « FREE-BORN ENGLISH »AND HIS RIGHT of dictation, but in consultation with his secular grandees as well as the bishops, archbishops and abbots. This curia regis, the king's council, replaced an Anglo-Saxon model, the Witenagemot, and was intended to form the nucleus from which the parliament later emerged. The second continuity on which the Norman relied on had to do with the legal usage of the country: Wilhelm adopted the Anglo-Saxon unwritten customary law, which was based on case judgments of the judiciary, as Alfred the Great had already followed. In general, the Anglo-Saxon kings had always attached great importance to making their laws appear not to be innovative, but rather to appear "already in place" (Robert Colls). They affirmed instead of revolutionizing, and in doing so laid the foundation stone for the thinking that would triumph centuries later in the Glorious Revolution: not overthrow, but the preservation of old rights. By taking over existing institutions such as the curia regis and the system of customary law, Wilhelm, as the new ruler, also strengthened the legitimacy of his claim as the English king. Continuity should shape the national sentiment of the English so deeply that later legal scholars assumed that the “free-born Englishman” had existed since times immemorial, since time immemorial. A LOOK AT ENGLISH LAW Legal culture and the English mentality are inconceivable without one another, we have to come to that shortly. Western culture is characterized by two fundamentally different legal traditions. On the one hand there are the countries of Roman law and its later codifications, on the other hand the countries of the Anglo-Saxon case law. On the one hand the legislature, on the other hand the judge, is the bearer of the law. In Norman times traveling judges rode through the country on behalf of the king and spoke justice. In a codified legal system a priori, the finding of the law descends from the paragraph to the individual case, in the case of precedent law from the individual case up to the legal proposition. There law is created on the basis of the Codex juris, here on the basis of legal life and the nature of the matter. Gustav Radbruch gave a more detailed and beautiful account of this in his 1946 study, "The Spirit of English Law," than can be done here. In England, since Edward I (died 1307), jurisdiction based on precedents has been joined by statute or statutory law, written laws that arise in the legislature, the parliament. In the 20th and 21st centuries, these statute laws have increased significantly; today they largely determine the jurisdiction of the country. But the judges still have a central role in applying what comes to them from parliament. 42 3 THE "FREE-BORN ENGLISH" AND HIS RIGHT Legal thinking from the bottom up, instead of from the top down, finds its suitable counterpart in English philosophy. From Francis Bacon in the time of Elizabeth I to John Locke at the end of the 17th century to the Scottish philosophers of the Enlightenment, the guideline is not deduction, but induction, i.e. experience and empiricism, from which one inferred that is generally valid the methodology of from the bottom up. It is the sense of fact that ran a Robinson Crusoe on his island; Descartes, who distrusted sensual experience, would not have been of any help to him. It is difficult for the Englishman to make decisions with a view to conditions that have not yet occurred or are derived from abstract premises. This is why, for example, in the European debate, no word has alienated the British as much as the word about the “finalité” of the unification process - something like its end point, which has so far been rather vaguely defined. Who wanted to be committed to it? The “finalité” stands in the way of the tradition of trial and error, of trial and error and the ability to correct human ways. The German “consequent” sounds just as strange to English ears, it seems to them like the half-brother of the “finalité”. The island is suspicious of the a priori of ideas. The French were inspired by the general idea of ​​human rights and freedom, England was primarily concerned with the freedom of the "free-born Englishman". Historian Thomas Macaulay scoffed: "One acre of land in Middlesex is better than a kingdom in Utopia." In the summer of 1835, four years after his epochal trip to the United States, Alexis de Tocqueville visited England and met with the most famous social philosopher of the time, John Stuart Mill, among others. He explained to him how to understand England, which the French would later report on in Journeys to England and Ireland: “Our habits or the nature of our temperament in no way draw us in the direction of general ideas. 43 MAGNA CHARTER Spiritual centralization, however, is based on ideas - the tendency for power to deal in a uniform and general way with the present and future needs of society. We never designed governments from such an elevated point of view. " MAGNA CHARTER Money, money, money - wars devour a huge amount of it. King John, who ruled from 1199 to 1216, knew a thing or two about it, as he saw himself in the west of France, the ancestral lands of the Normans, facing the French ruler Philip II from the house of the Capetians, who owned his possessions piece by piece quarreled. Then, at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214, John lost almost all of them, including the centerpiece, Normandy. Philip II graciously left him Aquitaine, the home of his mother Eleanor, and a small part of Poitou. John Lackland, Johann Ohneland, was already called him by contemporaries. In England there was anger among the notables of the empire. In the end, the king had ruled practically lawlessly, neglecting the curia regis, the established consultative body, and extorting taxes for his military expeditions wherever he could. The church, too, saw its independence increasingly threatened by his interventions. In short: uprising was in the air. This discharged a year after Bouvines, when the most powerful barons in the country met on June 10, 1215 in London and challenged the king to a meeting. Johann, weakened in many ways, agreed. So on Monday, June 15, 1215, on an island in the Thames near Runnymede, between Staines and Windsor, the historic day of the Magna Charta, the first document in constitutional history, in which a ruler declares himself ready with his seal To recognize law and justice about oneself, as it was the duty of every other citizen of the empire. It is the High Middle Ages and the rule of law is beginning on the British Isles, as it were an outpost of the world spirit, even if such great perspectives were completely alien to the understanding of the time. Nobody thought of making any fixes for the future. And yet the spirit of the Magna Charta was to become the engine of English (and later American) history. The document became a Bible of Freedom. Little is known that there was an English Charter of Liberties, a charter of freedoms, before the Magna Charta. Henry I, fourth son of the conqueror, proclaimed an agreement with the nobility in 1100, the year he acceded to the throne, in which he restored certain rights of barons and bishops which his brother and predecessor on the throne had disregarded. Entire passages of this Charter of Liberties, which were only remembered at the time of the rebellion against King John, then found their way into the Magna Charta, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the "Magna Charta Libertatum". Continuity, an English specialty. But with its 63 articles, the document from 1215 represented something completely new. Henry I's promise of tolerance now becomes a legal claim. A quantum leap. Three of the freedoms described in the Magna Charta still form part of the statute law of the United Kingdom today. The most important of these is Article 39, the description of the habeas corpus: "No free man may be apprehended or imprisoned, expropriated or disenfranchised, unless by judicial judgment of his own kind or by the laws of the country." Article 1, which deals with the freedom of the Church of England, continues to apply, as does Article 13, which guarantees the freedom of the City of London, today's financial district, where the Lord Mayor is in charge, outside the power of the Mayor of London and where even the monarch may not set foot without the permission of the Lord Mayor. 45 MAGNA CHARTER In the history of the free-born Englishman and its institutions, Article 61, the longest of the document, is of course of paramount importance. It has made history as a “security clause”, since this is the first time that the word security is mentioned, that is, the security of subjects against the arbitrariness of the majesty. At this point the king almost agrees to a self-disempowerment, in any case a clearly circumscribed restriction of his power: «The barons of the empire may choose twenty-five from their ranks who 'with all their might' aim to maintain peace and freedoms in the country have to pay attention, as they are circumscribed in this charter.So that if We or our legal representatives or our bailiffs and other of our servants violate the articles of peace and security [...], these 25 barons on behalf of the whole country may inflict hardship and restriction on Us in whatever way they can, namely by confiscating castles, lands and other properties from us until they are judged to have made amends, and then to obey Us again. " A revolutionary thought: In a certain situation, if the ruler has violated the order of the country after the appointed person has been judged, the ruler hands over power to the college of notables, so that in such a situation he is king only by name. No wonder that Johann immediately revoked the Magna Charta as soon as the nobles had left London. Pope Innocent III, appointed by the king to be the overlord of England, also sharply condemned the document because, in his eyes, it violated the principle of the royal power by the grace of God, against which no disobedience is permissible. The Magna Charta (written in Latin) struck him as "disgusting, abhorrent, disgraceful", an "offense against religion". But the text could not be removed from the world. Not even Article 14, which was to become just as important for the parliamentary history of England as Article 61 was for the relationship between the ruler and the ruled. In it a common council of the realm, a common council of the realm, is brought into being, which not only has to decide as before on tax questions and other affairs of the country. The circle of participants is expanded: Not only the high nobility and clergy, no, men from the communities who are connected to the crown as subordinate feudal takers should also be invited through legally authorized emissaries of the king such as bailiffs and sheriffs. For the first time, this “Joint Council” also includes members below the highest level of nobility, knights initially, later, after Johann, rising burghers or burgesses from towns and communities, who soon together with the knighthood, the landed gentry, had their own Power factor of the emerging society. The common council is no longer defined so much as an institution loyal to the king, as it was the curia regis, but as an instrument for the good of the whole. Article 14 specifically emphasizes this. For example, the participants are given the prospect of breaking their oath of allegiance to the king in an emergency and transferring the oath of allegiance to the council. Accordingly, Article 14 and Article 61 meet in a clearly articulated right to resist in exceptional situations. In the "Grand Council," as it will be called later, one can recognize the protoplasm of English parliamentarism, the first sign of an institution independent of the king. SIMON DE MONTFORT PUTS THE SOFTWARE TO MODERNITY After 1215, the question of institutional power became the focus. You have to know that after King John the high nobility began to concentrate more on England as the actual field of their activity. Originally the Norman 47 SIMON DE MONTFORT barons owned benefices in England and France, and so for a long time they lived as if in a split identity, as masters of territories on both sides of the Canal. But the more of their French possessions were lost, the more they found themselves referred to England as the playground of their ambitions. Their resistance to the warlike entanglements in France grew, as did their distrust of French influence at the English court, which, however, stuck to the dream of a dual empire under the Plantagenets, the new ruling house. But also the high nobility, now established in the districts entrusted to them (the shires), held on to their independence, especially the right to manage themselves. King Heinrich III, John's successor, didn't want to know anything about this. He still saw himself as the vicar of God, while the barons argued that they were the representatives of the community of the whole empire. The term communes, which originated in French, now came more and more to the fore. To translate the "House of Commons" as the "Chamber of Commons" is incorrect. It was always a representative of the communities, these same communes. Only in the bourgeois age with its new class order did one erroneously read something like “Commoners” in “Commons”, i.e. the class furthest removed from the nobility. The title of the lower house, which is still official today, brings the actual connections into consciousness. It reads: "The Honorable Locations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, gathered in Parliament". Henry III. had succeeded his father to the throne at the age of nine. For the nobility and clergy who ran the business on behalf of the underage king, this had the advantage that they could exercise freely in accordance with the requirements of the Magna Charta. That was all over, as soon as the king came of age. The old conflicts came back, including the expensive entanglements in Europe. The king even embarked on an adventure in Sicily. 48 3 THE "FREEBORN ENGLISH" AND HIS RIGHT That was the famous straw that broke the back of the camel, as they say in England. The barons were in an uproar. Their leader, Simon de Montfort, who came from a French aristocratic family, drummed for the establishment of a committee of 24 nobles who would have to help determine the future course of the empire in an advisory capacity. They met in Oxford on April 12, 1258, and gave birth to a document that has gone down in history as the Provisions of Oxford. Key points of these precautions: A future privy council of 15 nobles and twelve representatives from the community of the realm should in future advise the king, monitor his official business and control the budget. A parliament (from the French parler - to speak) is to be convened three times a year to examine the work of the Privy Council. The king consented willy-nilly and, at the urging of the notables, swore his oath on these provisions of Oxford. But only in appearance. Because four years later, in 1262, he let himself be released from his oath by a papal bull and thus conjured up an outright civil war. Both sides, the Montfort and the royal parties, armed themselves. In the Battle of Lewes (Sussex) on May 12, 1264, Heinrich, a brother of his and their two sons, including Crown Prince Edward, were taken prisoner. That was the hour of de Montfort, French Earl and 6th Earl of Leicester. For 15 months he was the sole administrator of the country. In December he called a new parliament, the first in English history without a royal seat. It met from January 20th to February 15th, 1265, on the basis of the Provisions of Oxford. In doing so, de Montfort introduced a novelty: In addition to the high nobility, he had two knights each from all counties, the shires, and two burgesses each from the documented market and castle towns, the boroughs, invited. The Earl of Leicester paid tribute to the new class, the gentry and the burghers, with the extension of the right to participate in his parliament, 49 EDWARD I, however, duped the established high nobility. Many of them now turned their backs on him and ran over to the king's camp. With the capture of the king, de Montfort had gone too far in their eyes anyway. When Heinrich III. and the Crown Prince could finally flee, his followers grouped together and were able to defeat Leicester on August 12, 1265 at Evesham in Worcestershire, where he lost his life. For a long time he was venerated like a saint in England, as "protector gentis Angliae", as it was called in a liturgy of the time created in his memory. A long poem written in Latin by a minorite monk from 1264, who remained anonymous, captures the spirit of those years as if in a burning mirror. The king, as the poem puts it, must not forget that he too is a servant of God, because only to the extent that he himself exercises obedience and love can he claim them from his subjects. From this the poet deduces that if the ruler is wrong and does not improve himself, he can also be called to account by these very subjects. Wasn't that exactly what Article 61 of the Magna Charta had already postulated - the right to stand up against royal arbitrariness? The idea that law and justice are above the crown had already penetrated the general consciousness 50 years after the day of Runnymede. EDWARD I: THE "MOTHER OF THE PARLIAMENTS" PEELING OUT Something remarkable happened under Edward I, the son of Henry III, who moved up in 1272. The king, who would have every reason to take revenge for the uprising under de Montfort and to make its parliamentary innovations quickly forgotten - this king of all people is doing everything to rehabilitate the rebel by taking up the reforms that had begun seven years earlier and resolutely evolved. So the assembly called by him in November 1295 could rightly become the model parliament 50 3 THE “FREE-BORN ENGLISH” AND HIS RIGHT, the model parliament, pointing to the following history both in terms of the breadth in which the estates were represented, as well as the rules of procedure. The king already gave testimony to his thinking in the convocation proclamation: "What affects everyone should be approved by everyone, and it is also clear that common dangers should be answered by measures that have been jointly adopted by everyone." Edward I also needed money, which was the immediate incentive for 1295. Wales and Scotland were to be tamed. It was Wales, not Scotland, which, moreover, had made a pact with France, a particular nuisance. As a carrot for its incorporation into the empire, Wales received the promise that from now on the firstborn, the heir to the throne, would bear the title "Prince of Wales", which has been followed without interruption since 1301. And the representation in parliament became wider and wider, in the model parliament of 1295 there were already 341 members. In addition, the king granted another concession: Petitions and complaints could be submitted to parliament, so that the people won a voice with which they could express themselves. If the king wanted to be heard in parliament for his tax and financial plans, he had to lend his ear to other desiderata in return. The model parliament of 1295 was also exemplary in that it showed the future division into two "houses": here the crown vassals or lords, there the landed gentry and citizens from rural and urban communities, the commons. The prerequisite for the two-chamber system was created. The alliance between the gentry and the citizenry became a sociological phenomenon of great importance. The gentry, with their widespread property holdings, and the emerging professions with their growing economic weight intertwined their interests and formed a new middle class that contributed significantly to strengthening the second chamber and was to become formative for society as a whole. 51 EDWARD I. But in 1295 they met unicamerally, that is, together. It was not until the Easter Parliament of 1343 under Edward III. the Commons met separately from the high nobility and clergy for the first time. The war against France had begun, and the king wanted to strengthen himself by having his program, especially the funding, confirmed separately by both houses. The Commons were later given their meeting place in St. Stephen’s Chapel of Westminster Palace, where they were allowed to take their seats in the church's choir stalls. This design, the opposing rows of choir stalls, has been preserved up until the development of the political parties, yes, it actually complied with the two-party system, as you can still see today at the House of Commons. The benches still run parallel to the speaker (he appears as a figure for the first time in 1376), who is enthroned at the point where the altar was in the time of St. Stephen’s Chapel. The British Parliament, unlike most other democratic assemblies, does not have a round shape, but that peculiar confrontational bench arrangement in which one can attack the opponent particularly well at close range. That the choir stalls of pious times led to this pattern of parliamentary "order of battle" is a particularly striking detail in British history. The term "House of Commons" finally became established in the second half of the 14th century, and the "House of Lords" was first mentioned in 1544 in the time of Henry VIII. A government with ministers and cabinets was only to emerge among the newly emerging political ones Peeling out parties 150 years later. The kings also clung to the idea of ​​the ruler by the grace of God for a long time. But he was under the law, not above: that was the decisive win of these centuries. However, it remained controversial until it came to a civil war, finally to bid farewell to the Stuart kings, who refused to accept the new achievements.