Government and Politics: England and France in the Central Middle Ages
This chapter discusses the political unification of England under the dynasty of Wessex in the aftermath of the Viking attacks. It talks about all free males in Anglo-Saxon England who had owed public infantry duty in defense of the homeland; but persons of the rank of thegn, who held five hides of land, owed fully armed service on horseback. The chapter describes the introduction of feudal bonds into England which was also important for the tax structure. The power of the monarchy was growing in 1180, but it was still much less than that of the Angevin rulers of Normandy and England and of Philip of Alsace, Count of Flanders. The customary laws of the various provinces developed so long before royal jurisdiction became an issue meant that France would have no 'common law' of the sort found in England. The expenses of government grew tremendously in the thirteenth century in France as in England.