Dominique Meeùs
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Lacey Baldwin Smith, This Realm of England : 1399 to 1688, 1966

Lacey Baldwin Smith , This Realm of England : 1399 to 1688, D. C. Heath and Cy, Boston , 1966, vii + 312 pages, OCLC : 711780, Library of Congress : 66-11290.
1 Chapter 1
The Curse of Disputed Succession
23 Chapter 2
Economic Collapse and Social Dislocation
24 Changes in the Structure and Spirit of Feudalism

Au début du 15e siècle, « the cornerstones of the ancient feudal edifice were rapidly desintegraging ». La paix et la stabilité royales rendent inutiles et obsolètes les traditions de chevalerie. Les nobles se voient volontiers déchargés du fardeau de leur fonction militaire. Le chevalier féodal avec un fief deviendra le gentleman du 16e avec sa terre.

As for the fief and manor, those economic keystones of the medieval past were deteriorating with each passing generation. The fief was a political division of the land and it was held by the vassal of a lord in return for feudal services. The manor was a unit of agrarian exploitation and consisted of the union of land, labor, and legal rights. A fief often included many manors, or might include only part of a manor depending on the productivity of the soil. Private property in the modern sense did not exist; instead the lord of the manor, who was usually, but not always, a baron or a member of the knightly class, possessed only rights to the fruits of the soil. He did not own the land itself. Only the king can be said to have owned land, and all medieval land tenure was grounded upon this concept of proprietorship whereby property rights were limited to the profits of the land, and landholding was carefully prescribed by the custom of the manor or by the terms of the tenure. In the same way that the vassal held his fief from someone above him in the feudal structure in return for rather hypothetical military services, so within the manor itself the land was held by freemen and bondsmen on the basis of various types of tenurial relationships.

The property of the manor was generally of three kinds: (1) demesne land over which the lord of the manor possessed full proprietorship and which he exploited directly through his slaves, serfs, or hired laborers, or which he leased to tenants for life or for a set number of years; (2) freehold land held of the lord for a fixed rent and passed from generation to generation unchanged in the family of the freeholder; and (3) copyhold land held on the basis of the custom of the manor. This last was property which carried with it certain historic obligations — sometimes financial, sometimes involving personal services whereby the holder was required to give to the lord of the manor a percentage of his labor, or his produce, or both. […]

P. 26.

Le capitalisme est défini par l’opposition de classe entre capitalistes et travailleurs salariés. Il est supposé succéder à une « féodalité » où l’opposition de classe est entre propriétaires fonciers et paysans travaillant la terre. Il y a trois remarques à faire à ce sujet :
1. La féodalité peut être comprise d’abord comme un réseau de relations entre suzerain et vassal. Ce n’est pas faux et cela peut être important dans une étude politique (et pour lire les romans de chevalerie). Si le but est de comprendre les ressorts profonds de la société, il est légitime de négliger comme ci-dessus la vassalité et de s’intéresser surtout à la manière dont cette société prélève un surplus du travail des paysans.
2. Pour la féodalité, le terme propriétaire foncier est anachronique. Je suis heureux de lire que « Private property in the modern sense did not exist; […] the lord of the manor […] possessed only rights to the fruits of the soil. » Si on parle de féodalité, il n’y a pas de propriété du sol. C’est ce que nous pourrions appeler usufruit. Le landlord est le seigneur (lord) d’un territoire, grand ou petit, le maître d’un domaine. Personne n’est propriétaire au sens où nous entendons ce mot aujourd’hui. La terre ne peut appartenir qu’à Dieu ou au roi. Quelqu’un qui en dispose la confie à un autre contre certaines obligations ; il peut la donner à louer. Elle peut changer de mains à l’occasion d’un mariage, par héritage… Si on vend une terre, c’est qu’on est dans une période qui n’est plus vraiment féodale, même si elle en a gardé de beaux restes.
3. La féodalité commence dans la première moitié du deuxième millénaire déjà à se défaire. Déjà dans une féodalité « vraie », ancienne, les statuts sont variés. Les lois et les coutumes varient de pays en pays, mais aussi localement. Ainsi, la féodalité n’a jamais été simple. Il est extrêmement difficile de donner un sens aux termes rencontrés, même si on se limite au pays qui nous intéresse le plus comme berceau de notre civilisation, l’Angleterre. Quand la féodalité commence à se défaire, les termes deviennent plus imprécis encore. L’alinéa cité suivant illustre bien cette complexité d’une féodalité en transition.

The labor supply of the manor was of two types—free and bond. By 1500 most laborers were free, but in 1399 perhaps a third to a half of the peasant population remained in a state of bondage—owing personal service to the lord of the manor, exposed to death and inheritance taxes and other financial extractions, and still legally bound to the land. It was quite possible for a serf or unfree laborer to hold free land and conversely it was not uncommon for freemen to farm unfree property, and for both, bond and free, to lease demesne land from the lord of the manor. The tendency by 1399 was for two things to happen. First, freemen with freeholds evolved into substantial land proprietors, and this was the agricultural element out of which the yeoman class of the fifteenth century developed. Starting as freeholders or wealthy peasants, some of them even rose to be lords of the manor in their own right, and as a group they soon began to amalgamate with the lower fringes of the knightly class. Second, the bondsmen and copyholders tended to fall to the level of wage laborers, usually free, occasionally renting land, but generally working the soil for wages paid them by the lord or yeomen of the manor. The result of this twofold process was the weakening and eventual destruction of the bonds that had once welded land and labor into an economic unit in which both lord and peasant had legal rights and shared in the produce of the soil.

P. 27.
28 The Black Death (1348, 1361, 1369)

Une des causes du commencement de la fin de la féodalité alors, ce pourrait être les grandes pestes. Tuant une partie appréciable de la population travailleuse, cela prive de main d’œuvre les maîtres de domaines. Leurs revenus diminuent (p. 31) et les salaires augmentent. Cela casse les relations traditionnelles et, au lieu de servage, on trouve de plus en plus de location de terre et de travail salarié. (C’est le sens du titre du chapitre. Une catastrophe frappe durement l’économie. Les anciens rapports sociaux sont bouleversés.)

33 Economic Crisis (1400-1475)34 The Peasantry

Richard II summed up the aristocratic attitude toward the peasantry when he exclaimed, “Villains you have been and are ; in bondage you shall remain,” but economic reality decided otherwise. […] As the years passed, the lords of the manor found it easier to pay wages than to enforce personal service or labor statutes. By 1500 the serf was almost extinct. His place had been taken by three groups : the wage-earning rural proletariat which was free but landless ; the free customary tenant or copyholder who paid rent but had a right to bequeath and inherit his land “according to the custom of the manor” ; and the freeholder who had become in fact, if not yet in theory, the owner of land which owed no service.

P. 35
35 The Yeomanry36 The Knights of the Shire

The higher in the social pyramid, the more desperate the economic and financial situation became. Above the yeomanry were some 1,200 esquires with incomes ranging from twenty to thirty-five pounds a year, and another 1,000 lesser and greater knights who controlled yearly revenues up to £300. Though no clear division can be drawn between the knights and the barons above them and the yeomen below, the knights of the shires do seem to have been confronted with a major economic crisis during the 1440s and ’50s. The decline in the demand for wool, the incessant cry for higher wages, and the collapse of rental income from land hit them hard. Plagued with curtailed means, large families, and indigent younger sons, an unknown percentage sought relief through war, lordship, and litigation.

37 Lordship38 The Baronage

On a legal and restricted pinnacle far above the ranks of lesser men stood the baronage of England, exclusive in numbers but not always financially distinguishable from the wealthier knights of the shires. In 1436 there were only fifty-one barons, and though their number varied from decade to decade, there were rarely more than a baker’s dozen who were of sufficient age, ability, and wealth to exercise real power. Their average income was in the neighborhood of £865 a year, but the lower economic echelons of the group managed with as little as £300 while the favored few rose as high as £3,000.

P. 38.

The great barons were in a more favorable position, since social and economic forces were conspiring to concentrate in their hands unparalleled wealth and potential political power. The closer they stood to the crown in birth and association, the greater were their revenues. Richard, Duke of York, commanded an income of £3,231, and possibly twice this sum if his Welsh manors are included. Richard, Earl of Warwick, jogged along on £3,116 and could count on another £2,422 from his Welsh estates. The Duke of Buckingham managed with £4,400, and the Percys of Northumberland trailed with £2,825.

P. 39.
40 The Church43 Chapter 3
The Lion and the Unicorn
63 Chapter 4
Economic Resurgence and Social Change

Malgré les traits archaïques et médiévaux du 15e siècle, il y a un mouvement de modernité où « the clothier and the financier, the explorer and the religious reformer, the humanist and the landed country gentleman belonged to the image of the future ». Ce n’est pas une polarisation mais une question de degré et « always the fifteenth-century man was more or less a composite of all elements ».

64 Prosperity

Il y avait des gens très riches, de familles anciennes mais pas toujours, comme « Sir Edward Montague, a mere social upstart ». Il y a trois Sir Edward Montagu successifs et Lacey Smith ne dit pas lequel, mais « a mere social upstart » correspond bien au premier. Celui-ci (1485-1557) est un juriste appelé par Henri VIII à de hautes fonctions et anobli. Il achète le manoir de Boughton et d’autres ensuite : on voit dans l’histoire du parlement que son fils aîné (du même nom) hérite de onze manoirs et quelques autres bricoles. (L’expression « social upstart » doit être prise cum grano salis. Thomas, le père du premier Edward, n’était pas sans rien et « claimed descent from the Earls of Salisbury » selon le Dictionary of National Biography.) Cela illustre à la fois la richesse et la mobilité sociale, dans le sens de l’exception anglaise, si je puis ainsi dire, défendue par Ellen Meiksins Wood. Cela illustre surtout que le seigneur féodal est en transformation en propriétaire foncier. La terre qui n’appartenait qu’à Dieu (puis à Guillaume le Conquérant), qu’on ne peut « acquérir » que dans des rapports de vassalité, est devenue quelque chose qui s’achète et se vend, même si c’est avec les paysans dessus et une extraction du surplus encore en grande partie féodale (extra-économique).

Slowly, painfully, but irresistibly economic prosperity wrought political, social, and moral revolution. The harbingers of change were the gentlemen sheep raisers, the urban cloth manufacturers, and the Merchant Adventurers who supplied the continent with English woolens. Demand stimulated supply, but large-scale production was only possible after fundamental organizational changes. The manufacture of wool cloth could not be fitted into the rigid and fragmented guild system of the medieval past. Sheep raising on the farm, carding and spinning in the cottage, weaving and dyeing in the town, and storing and exporting to foreign markets were steps that required careful synchronization of time and material. Eventually there evolved the coordinator or clothier who bought raw wool in large quantities, delivered it to the spinners, transported the yarn to the weavers and carried the finished product to the drapers and merchants to be sold. The fifteenth-century clothier soon became the prototype of the modern industrial entrepreneur, supplying raw material and transportation, paying wages on the basis of piecework or by the hour, utilizing the farmer’s wife and child as a source of labor, and avoiding the older towns with their hampering guilds and trade restrictions. Occasionally such industrial organizers took the final step and brought the weavers together under a single roof, converting their own homes into nascent factories where the weavers became their hired servants. Sometimes they rented looms to craftsmen who lost their independent status as artisans and became industrial sharecroppers. Whatever the organizational method, the economic rewards were spectacular. Mr. Thomas Paycocke of Coggeshall could afford to found a magnificent chantry for the sake of his commercial soul and the souls of his parents, his wife, and his father-in-law ; John Winchcomb, better known as Jack Newberry, refused a knighthood, preferring to “rest in russet coat, a poor clothier to his dying day,” but he could afford to entertain Edward IV at his urban home.

P. 65-66.

Cette révolution « political, social, and moral » prend donc surtout la forme de l’appropriation du surplus de la production par des marchands accapareurs, mais certains « font le dernier pas » et réunissent des travailleurs salariés dans des manufactures.

66 Inflation68 Enclosures

Dans l’extraction extra-économique du surplus, le seigneur ne peut pas ne pas respecter certaines coutumes. Par contre, lorsque agissant comme propriétaire foncier, il donne de la terre à louer, le loyer, ça se négocie selon les circonstances du moment, dont ce que le locataire peut payer. Quand à cette terre que des fermiers prennent en location (on dit « à ferme »), elle pouvait être « utilized for more efficient farming methods without regard to the communal customs of the manor ». Cela faisait l’affaire des deux parties.

Par contre, l’appropriation par le propriétaire de terres communales (commons) condamnait des pauvres avec trop peu de terre qui y faisaient paître quelques animaux pour survivre. Même les copyholders sont menacés parce que l’acte pouvait avoir disparu.

70 The Age of the Gentry

The new relationship between land and labor, the steady rise of prices and the relative fall of wages, the growing tension between landlord and peasant, and the mounting wealth of city merchants and Essex clothiers produced more than extremes of riches and poverty, beggary and opulence ; they changed the social and political face of England. The age of the gentry was beginning ; the future belonged to the landed country gentleman and his blood cousins in oligarchy, the merchant, the lawyer, and the parish parson. Not until 1689 would the landed country gentleman gain undisputed control of both local and national government, but already in 1500 the indispensable conditions for both his moral and political ascendancy were taking shape. The fifteenth-century squire and knight of the shire were changing from desperate, irresponsible, and litigious proprietors, ready to fish in the muddy waters of baronial feuding, into the backbone of Tudor respectability. The secret of change was wealth. Foreign markets ans the demand for wool, land shortage and the abundance of labor gave new economic hope to the lesser landowning classes. Enclosure and eviction, rising prices in the wool market, and increased profits to be had from land gave the country gentlemen the means to finance his new class consciousness, while his newfound prosperity created the need for a political security.

Money and political influence, not blood and social origins, were the motifs of the sixteenth century. The landed country gentleman and the city merchant lived by the commercial rule that “conscience is a pretty thing to carry to church” but he who “pursueth it in a fair market or shop may die a beggar”. Knavery could be forgotten : rich estates could earn social respectability for even the basest family. The merchant adventurer, the clothier, and the landlord had the means, the desire, and the opportunity to manufacture the tokens and emblems of class consciousness. The sixteen century became, par excellence, a century of heraldry, and pedigrees were carefully recorded in the College of Arms. For the historian, the visitations of the Garter King of Arms, by which the authorities checked into the economic and historic claims to gentility, are invaluable sources of social history, but they read like genealogical fairy tales in which imagination and artistry are more evident than truth. Money and influence could conjure up and legalize the most pretentious heraldic claim. Russells and Guilfords, Cecils and Cavendishes, Pagets and Cromwells sought to obtain by wealth and marriage the symbol of class status — the right to bear heraldic arms. The College or Arms was of late feudal origin but the Tudors reorganized and systematized it, and the privilege of bearing arms was limited to those “of good name and fame and good reknown” and to those who could show a yearly rental of ten pounds. In actual fact, political influence was more weighty than gentle origins in persuading the College to sanction what it must have suspected to be the sheerest fabrications.

The economic and blood ally of the landed country gentleman was the city merchant, united by a two-way traffic in trade and land, and in sons and daughters. Land was the acme of respectability ; trade and law, though tolerated if practiced on a grand enough scale, stood as poor relations. Merchants and lawyers were quick to buy estates not only because land was profitable but also because it brought social recognition. Conversely, the sons of landed families went

P. 70-71.
72 The Education of the Gentry

The rights of blood and gentility to a high position in society were never denied but the medieval notion of a divine right of aristocracy which demanded a share in government gave way to the idea of class obligation on the part of an educated gentry, anxious to dedicate their talents to the kingdom. The new state of affair was even recorded in statute when parliament noted that “the wanton bringing up and ignorance of the nobility” had forced “the Prince to advance new men” who could serve him. A successful and parvenu Tudor crown needed the support and the brains of equally successful and upstart clothiers, lawyers, and landlords. The fact that Henry VIII took as his second wife a young lady whose great-grandfather had been a merchant and Lord Mayor of London, and whose father was a country gentleman, may indicate that the Tudor dynasty had grown so secure by 1533 that it could afford to go slumming, but it also signifies the speed with which commercial elements were achieving respectability and the economic and social importance of the gentry class.

P. 74.
74 The Nation State

Au quinzième siècle, l’anglais l’a emporté sur les langues régionales. L’unification de la langue est due en grande partie à l’imprimerie, depuis le début des presses de William Caxton en 1477 (p. 75). L’usage du français et du latin s’estompe (p. 76).

76 The Heart of the Realm

A overgrown provincial town of possibly 75,000 in 1500, a century later London had grown into a metropolis of 200,0001.

P. 77.
79 Chapter 5
Old Bottles, New Wines :
The Reign of Henry VII
80 The “New Monarchy”81 The Succession Secured85 Financial Solvency and Fiscal Feudalism89 The Resurgence of Royal Authority and the Rule of Law93 The Art of Government

The tortoise of institutional change pays slight heed to the random, if brilliant, antics of the dynastic hare. Under Henry VII a new attitude of mind was at work, a new approach to government which had little to do with victory on the battlefield or the death of kings. In the medieval past, government had been viewed primarily as a necessary evil ; by the sixteenth century men were beginning to whisper the extraordinary proposition that it might be a positive good. Statecraft had a long way yet to go before it evolved into the science of the modern bureaucratic state, but by 1509 in England, and earlier in Italy, government had come to be regarded as an art in which men made a conscious effort to calculate state power and to act accordingly. The ends of diplomacy were to be measured in terms of material benefit, not of spiritual or chivalric purposes. The amoeba-like quality of the feudal past in which there was little or no distinction between the legislative, executive, and judicial aspects of government was slowly giving way to a more precise notion of governmental function.

The most celebrated expression of the new spirit that was pervading the courts of kings as well as the mansions of merchants was the publication in 1516 of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, a treatise that has won for its author the questionable distinction of being the first political scientist. In part a medieval dream reflecting the perfect harmony of monastic life, in part a fantasy inspired by the discovery of the New World and strange peoples, and in part a learned joke in which Sir Thomas could indulge in the fiction of chamberpots made of gold and children playing marbles with precious gems, the Utopia was above all else the first English example of the application of reasoned thought to the problems of good government. For the first time it was assumed that man by the exercise of his own rational mind could construct a reasonably perfect society. More’s Utopia was here on earth and was the work of human beings ; now mankind no longer had to wait for heaven and the operation of divine grace to achieve peace and happiness.

The accomplishments of Henry VII were a far cry from the reasoned society outlined in More’s Utopia, but it can at least be said of Henry that he “was not afraid of an able man” and that he “was served by the ablest men that were to be found without which his affairs would not have prospered as they did.” The secret of effective government lay not so much in the existence of strong kings as in the presence of able councillors : men dedicated to the single ideal of serving their master. New and strange men in government were not unique to the Tudor dynasty. The same complaint had been directed against Henry I, Richard II, and Edward IV. What set the first Tudor apart from his predecessors was the mentality of those who surrounded him. Chastened magnates sat on the royal council by invitation, not by divine right.

P. 93-94.
97 Chapter 6
This Realm of England is an Empire
116 Chapter 7
The Floodgates of Reformation
133 Chapter 8
The Little Tudors
153 Chapter 9
Elizabeth of Good Memory
154 Elizabeth I (1558-1603)154 The Elizabethan Religious Settlement158 Religion and Diplomacy (1558-1572)161 John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots164 The Elizabethan Body Politic

La reine n’était pas moins persuadée de sa majesté et de son pouvoir que d’autres monarques, mais dans une image de la tête en du reste du corps, qui doit obéir à la tête, et il n’y avait de doute pour personne et encore moins pour elle que la tête, c’était la reine. Elle était reine de droit divin, mais “in such a scheme of things the parts as well as the totality were divine” (P. 167). Les parties avaient conscience de la prépondérance du tout et de sa tête divine, la reine. Cependant, dans cette conception de la place des parties dans le tout, “

… a religiously articulated constitutionalism had developed, in which every element of the body politic was expected to cooperate but could also claim a hearing. Consequently the highest institution within the realm was that organ which could speak for all interests in the commonwealth — king in parliament. When Elizabeth sat in the midst of her Lords and Commons, and legislation was enacted by the whole parliament, then the kingdom spoke ex cathedra.

On avait donc là un début de monarchie parlementaire.

172 Chapter 10
Crisis and Recessional
173 Cold War — Sixteenth-Century Style174 The Northern Rebellion

… the last feudal uprising…

175 Philip II of Spain and His Great Enterprise177 May of Scotland and English Catholiscism179 The Armada181 Recessional181 Essex and the Irish Wars183 The Elizabethan House of Commons

Depuis Henry VIII, les Tudors, et surtout Elizabeth, ont augmenté le nombre de sièges aux Commons. En outre, les Commons représentent tant la gentry que les villes.

Socially and economically the Commons was becoming a vocal, self-conscious and opinionated group ; politically it was replacing the Lords in importance and was potentially capable of seizing the initiative from the crown if royal leadership and control faltered.

P. 184.

… even under Elizabeth, Commons had the audacity to suggest that it could decide on matters of state just as well as the Queen herself.

186 Puritans and Puritanism186 Chapter 11
Straining the System :
The Reign of James I
207 Chapter 12
Charles I and the Royal Road to War
226 Chapter 13
Profiteers and Pioneers
244 Chapter 14
The Anatomy of a Rebellion
266 Chapter 15
Charles II and the Fruits of Revolution
286 Chapter 16
The Triumph of the Oligarchs
De ce qui n’intéressait pas la famille dans la succession d’un ami en février 2012.
Estimer la population d’une ville dans l’histoire est un exercice difficile. Je reprends (en milliers) des résultats de Paul Bairoch, historien rigoureux et méthodique, que je trouve dans une discussion de Wikipédia.
(en milliers) 1300 1400 1500 1600
  Bruges 40 125 35 27
  Gand 56 55 31
  Anvers 17 5 30 47
  Londres   35 45 50 200
  Paris 150 275 225 300
On voit que Bruges et Gand ont d’abord été plus importantes que Londres en un temps où Paris était nettement plus grande. Londres alors dépasse les villes flamands en déclin, rattrape Paris et la dépassera.