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820. From excessive and continual rains, a great mortality of men and cattle ensued. The harvest was spoilt. Great inundations prevented the autumnal sowing (1).
821. A dreadful winter followed. The frost was so long and severe, that not only all the smaller rivers, but even the largest in Europe, as the Seine, the Elbe, the Rhine, and the Danube, were so frozen, that, for above thirty days, waggons passed over them as if over bridges (2).
823. The harvests devastated by hail. A terrible pestilence among men and cattle (3).
824. A dreadful and long winter. Not only animals, but many of the human species, perished by the intenseness of the cold (4).
832. This year began with excessive rains. A frost succeeded so sudden and intense, that the iced roads were nearly impassable by horses (5). 834. Great storms and excessive falls of rain (6).
851. Severe famine on the Continent (7).
869. Great famine and mortality in England (8).
874. A swarm of locusts laid waste the provinces of France. A famine so dreadful followed, that, in the hyperbolical language of the writers, nearly a third part of the population perished.
875. A long and inclement winter succeeded, with unusual falls of snow. The frost lasted from the first of November to the end of March (9).
913. A severe winter.
956. A very mortal pestilence (10).
976. A severe famine in England. A frost from first November to end of March.
986. A great mortality amongst cattle in England (11).
987. A dreadful flux and fever in England (12).
988. A summer of extreme heat.
989. Great inundations. Very hot summer, unhealthy and unfruitful. Great drought and famine; much snow and rain; and no sowing (13).
1005. A great and dreadful famine in England.
1006. The same over all Europe (14).
1014. Great sea flood.
1016. Great hail, thunder, and lightning (15).
1022. Extreme heat in the summer.
1059. A severe winter.
1041. Inclement seasons all the year, and unproductive; and great mortality amongst the cattle (16).
1043-4. A dreadful famine in England and the Continent. A sester of wheat sold for above sixty pennies (17).
(2) Ibid. p. 422. Ann. Astron. p. 46.
(1) Adel. Benedict. p. 421.
(3) Adel. Bened. p. 425. Sigeb. Gemb. p. 561.
Annales apud Ruberi, p. 49.
(6) Annales Ruberi, p. 58. (8) Asser, p. 20.
(10) Regino Chron. p. 568. 74. 79.
(11) Sax. Chron. p. 123. 125. Sim. Dun. p. 160. Sig. Gemb. p. 587.
(13) Lamb. Schaff. p. 158. Sig. Gemb. p. 589.
(12) Flor. Wig. and Sim. Dun. 161. (14) Sim. Dun. 165. Sig. Gemb. p. 591. (15) Sax. Chron. p. 146. Lamb. Schaff. p. 158. (16) Sig. Gemb. p. 593. Sim. Dun. p. 180. (17) Sax. Chron. p. 157. Sig. Gemb. p. 596. sextarius of wheat sold for five shillings, p. 129. adding, that a sextarius of wheat used to be the
The MS. Claud. c. 9. mentions that a Henry of Huntingdon says the same, burthen of one horse, p. 365.
1047. An uncommon fall of snow. Trees broken by it (1). 1048. Earthquake at Worcester, Derby, and other places; and a great mortality (2).
Of the Anglo-Saxon husbandry we may remark, that Domesday Survey gives us some indications that the cultivation of the church lands was much superior to that of any other order of society. They have much less wood upon them, and less common of pasture; and what they had appears often in smaller and more irregular pieces; while their meadow was more abundant, and in more numerous distributions.
Their Proprietorship in Land and Tenures.
When the Anglo-Saxons established themselves in Britain, a complete revolution in the possession of landed property must have taken place, so far as it concerned the persons of the proprietors. They succeeded by the sword. All the chieftains of the octarchy had many years of warfare to wage, before they could extort the occupation of the country. In such fierce assaults, and such desperate resistance, the largest part of the proprietary body of the Britons must have perished.
What system of tenures the Anglo-Saxon conquerors established, will be best known from the language of their grants. Some antiquaries have promulged very inaccurate ideas on this subject; and we can only hope to escape error, by consulting the documents and studying the legal phrases of the Anglo-Saxon period.
We find the land distinguished in their laws by various epithets. We there meet with boc lande, gafole land, folc land, bisceopa land, thegne's land, neat land, and frigan earthe (3). The proprietors of land are called dryhtne, hlaforde, agende or land hlaforde, and land agende (4). The occupiers of land were named ceorl, geneat, landesman, tunesman (5), and such like.
From Domesday-book, we find that of some lands the king was the chief proprietor; of others, the bishops and abbots; of others, several earls and persons of inferior dignity. A few specimens may be given. Thus in Sussex
These were the tenentes in capite, the great proprietors in demesne. The men who resided on the land, and in the burgs under these in this county, may be seen in Domesday-book. In other counties, we find the same description of persons possessing land, with the addition of others. Thus the great proprietors in Hertfordshire were, the king, the archbishop of Canterbury, five bishops, three abbots, an abbess, two canons, four earls or comites, twenty-four less dignified individuals, and three ladies. Two of these ladies are described as wives. Thus: "Rothais, wife of Richard, son of earl Gislebert, holds Standor, and defends herself for eleven hides; Adeliz, wife of Hugo of Grentmaisnil, holds Brochesborne, and defends herself for five hides and a half." The other was the daughter of Radulf Tailgebosch, and held four hides in Hoderdon.
In Buckinghamshire the chief proprietors were, the king, the archbishop, five bishops, two abbots, an abbess, a canon, a presbyter, two earls, thirtyeight other individuals; the queen, countess Judith Azelina, wife of Radulf Tailgebosch; the king, thane, and eleemosiners.
But subordinate tenures are also mentioned in this valuable record. Thus the abbess of Berching held Tiburn (Tyburn) under the king, and the canons of St. Paul held of the king five hides in Fulham. Many tenures of this sort appear (1).
To several tenures it is added, that the possessors could not give or sell the land without leave (2).
Other tenants are mentioned, who could turn themselves, with their land, wherever they pleased (5).
Land held in elemosinam, or frankalmoigne, also appears (4).
Of other tenants it is said, that they held certain manors, but rendered no service to the abbot, except thirty shillings a year (5).
Sochmanni, and the terra sochmannorum, are mentioned: of two of them it is expressed, that they could sell without leave; while another is declared unable to give or sell without his lord's leave. Two other sochmanni are called men of the bishop of London (6).
One of the sochmen, who could do what he chose with the land, was a canon of St. Paul's.
Of the tenures which appear from the Anglo-Saxon grants, the first that may be noticed is that of pure freehold of inheritance, unconnected with any limitation or service. Thus, in a conveyance made between 691 and 694, the kinsman of the king of Essex gives some land, amounting to 40 manentium. The conveying words are, "I Hodilredus, the kinsman of Sebbi, in the province of the East Saxons, with his consent, of my own will, in sound mind, and by just advice, for ever deliver to thee, and from my right transcribe into thine, the land, etc., with all things belonging to it, with the fields, wood, meadows, and marsh, that, as well thou as thy posterity, may hold, possess, and have free power to do with the land whatsoever thou wilt (7).”
In another, dated in 704, from a king to a bishop, of 30 cassatorum, at Tincenhom, in Middlesex, the words are, "We have decreed to give in dominio to Waldhare, bishop, part of a field, etc. The possession of this land so as aforesaid, with fields to be sowed, pastures, meadows, marshes,
(2) Ibid. fo. 129.
(4) Ibid. fo. 12. 137.
(7) MS. Augustus, 2. 26., printed in Smith's Appendix to Bede, p. 748.
(3) Ibid. fo. 6, 7. 129. (6) Ibid. fo, 11. 129.
fisheries, rivers, closes, and appurtenances, we deliver to be possessed in dominio by the above bishop in perpetual right, and that he have the free power of doing whatsoever he will (1)."
There seems to have been no prescribed form of words for the conveyance of a freehold estate, because we find that almost every grant varies in some of its phrases. The most essential requisite seems to have been that the words should imply an intended perpetuity of possession. One other specimen of a freehold grant, not quite so absolute as the above, may be added: "That it may be in his power, and may remain firmly fixed in hereditary right, both free from the services of all secular things within and without, and from all burden and injury of greater or smaller causes, and that he may have the liberty of changing or giving it in his life, and after his death may have the power of leaving it to whomsoever he will (2).”
Freehold estates also occur, made subject to the three great services to which almost all lands were liable. In these cases the duty of military expedition, and bridge and castle work, are expressly excepted (3). A modification of this freehold tenure is, where the grant is or the life of the person receiving it, with a power of giving it to any person after his death in perpetual inheritance. This kind of estate very frequently occurs in the Saxon grants, and differs from the pure and absolute freehold, inasmuch as it does not appear that the tenant for life had the liberty of alienating it before his death, nor that it was descendible to his heirs if he made no testamentary devise.
Thus in a grant dated 756, the part which lawyers call the habendum, and which determines the nature of the tenure, is thus expressed : "I will give it him for ever - That he may have and possess it as long as he lives, and after that time, that he may leave it to any person he shall please, to be possessed in hereditary right, with the same liberty in which it is granted to him (4)."
Others are in these phrases: "To have and possess it in his own possession, and for his days to enjoy it happily, and after his days to leave to whomsoever shall be agreeable to him in everlasting inheritance (3).”
A very common tenure in the Anglo-Saxon times was that the person to whom an estate was conveyed should hold it for his life, and should have the power of giving it after his death to any one, two, three, or more heirs, as mentioned in the grant; after which it should revert either to the original proprietor making the grant, or to some ecclesiastical body or other person mentioned in it.
Thus Oswald gives lands to a person, in the stability of perpetual inheritance; that in having he may hold it, and possessing he may enjoy it, for the length of his life. After his death he might leave it to any two heirs whom he preferred, to have it continuedly - after their death it was to revert to the church of St. Mary (6).
In 984 Oswald gave to his kinsman, Eadwig, and his wife, three mansæ, for their lives. If the husband survived her, he was to be deemed the first possessor, or heir of the land; or if she survived, she was to be the first heir. They were empowered to leave all to their offspring, if they had any; if not, the survivor was to leave it to any two heirs (7).
(1) Appendix to Bede, p. 749.
(3) MS. Claud. c. 9. p. 112, 113.
(5) Astle's MS. Charters, Nos. 12, and 16. (6) Smith's App. Bede, p. 773.
(2) MS. Charters of the late Mr. Astle, No. 7. (4) Smith's App. p. 767.
(7) Ibid. p. 778.
Thus a bishop gave to Berhtwulf, the Mercian king, certain lands" for the space of the days of five men, to have and to enjoy it with justice; and after the number of their days, that it may be returned, without any dissension or conflict, to the church in Worcester." This same land Berhtwulf gave to his minister, Ecbercht, "for the space of the days of five men, as before it was given to him (1).”
Sometimes an attempt was made to possess the land beyond the number of lives indicated. It is mentioned in a charter, that one Cynethryth had conveyed some land for three lives, and that Ælsted had added three more lives; when it was discovered, by inspecting the hereditarios libros of the king, Kenulf, who first granted it, that the person originally receiving it had only the power of giving it for one life. Consequently the subsequent grants were set aside (2).
A life estate was also a very frequent tenure. that was to follow a life estate was expressed. church.
Sometimes the remainder
Thus Aldred, in the middle of the eighth century, gave a monastery to his relation, (6 on condition that she possess it as long as she lives; and when she goes the way of her fathers," it was to revert to the church of Worcester, into the jus of the episcopal seat (3). An archbishop devised land to a person for life, with remainder to an abbey (4).
The land passing by these grants was called Bocland, as the land held by bishops was mentioned at Bisceopa land; the land of thegns was Thegnes land, and the land of earles was Earles land. All these occur in Domesdaybook. There was also King's land, Gerefa land, and such like; but these names attached to land seem rather to express the quality of the demesne proprietors than any other circumstance.
One grant is rather singular, in the limitations of the estate which it conveys. The king gives a manor to Edred, and permits Edred to give it to Lulla and Sigethrythe, who are enjoined to give part of the land to Eaulfe and Herewine. But Eaulfe was to give half of this part to Biarnulve, and to enjoy the other half for his own life, with the power of devising it as he pleased (5).
To these tenures we may add the Gafoleland, or land granted or demised on the condition of paying some contribution in money or other property. Thus archbishop Ealdulf, in 996, gave land to a miles, for his life and two heirs; but annexed a condition, that they should provide every year fifteen salmon (6). An abbot and the monks demised twenty-seven acres to a person, that he might have them in stipendium as long as he served them well (7).
An ancient lease is mentioned in the year 852, by which Ceolred, abbot of Medeshamstede, and the monks, let (leot) to Wulfred the land at Sempigaham for his life, on condition that he gave (besides some other land) a yearly rent of sixty fother of wood, twelve fother of græfan (which may mean coals), six fother of turf, two tuns full of clear ale, two slain cattle, six hundred loaves, ten mittan of Welsh ale, one horse, thirty shillings and a night's lodging (8). A marsh was leased at the rent of two thousand
(1) Heming. Chart. p. 6. 8.
(2) Ibid. p. 29.
(4) MS. Claud. c. 9. p. 125.