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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 246

form of force, and Germany, Italy, and France different forms of leading idea. I do not mean that Austria is justified on appeal to right, or that Russia relies solely on force, or that the other three states have not ample grounds, both in right and force, for their present position, but that historically those are distinctions essentially characteristic. You may wonder at my temerity in the use of such very abstract terms, and you have a right to bid me define more clearly the historical periods of which I am speaking ; I will then define medieval history for our present purpose as beginning with the eleventh century, and proceed to state next what sorts of rights, forces, and ideas, I consider, mark differentially the three periods at which I have been looking. It may almost provoke a smile that I should use words so, that I should speak of rights and wrongs in ages in which all was done with the strong hand, or of forces where intrigue and policy conspicuously take the place of violence and bloodshed, or of ideas in connexion with the present age at all. I do not care now to justify my use of these particular words, but I can tell you what I mean, and then, if you can supply me with better formulae, I will use them. Our first position then is, that the idea of right or rights was the leading idea of the middle ages. I say now right or rights, because, whilst in the greatest men of the period there was a conscious attempt to exalt law and a willingness to abide by it, there was in the inferior actors, in the worse men, a disposition to maintain their own rights "within recognised limits, and, when they attacked the possessions or infringed the apparently equal rights of their opponents, to do it on the ground of legal pleas. We all know how enormous is the debt which English law owes to the great legislators of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries ; Henry II and Edward I are, both of them, conspicuous examples of both the tendencies which I have coupled under the term ; in

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