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

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 255



IX.] ENGLISH WARS. 249 politicians, I should have said so at first ; but I could only have proved my thesis by showing that there was no war at all. There was war in abundance, public war and private war : the Temple of Janus could not have been shut for all those centuries, if it had been still standing and put to its mythical purpose. What was meant was not that men loved law, but that they did so far respect it as to wish to seem to have it always on their side. They did not attack their neighbours because they wanted glory; or because they could not bear rivalry, or because their neighbours' armies were too strong for their safety, or because their neighbours' armies were so ill equipped that they might be an easy conquest ; but they alleged a legal claim or a legal grievance ; and in the majority of cases really legal claims and really legal grievances. Of course, if law had been supreme, the wrong-doer would have yielded at once, the false claimant would have hid his diminished head at the first expression of the opinion of a competent counsel or an authorised judge ; we know how often that is done in these days in quarrels great and small. But I make no such claim for those ages ; I only say that, when a man coveted his neighbour's vineyard, he went as it were to law for it, and did not simply take it by force. The Norman Conquest of England, I need hardly say, is scarcely a fair illustration. It is at least as much a viking invasion as a war waged according to the international law of the age ; yet the pleas of bequest, the legacy of Edward the Confessor, the papal sanction, the oath of Harold, the legal election by the witenagemot of the humbled race, alike the inventions and the ceremonial of the succession, were a concession to a public sense of right. Take the other great wars; of England first: we cannot doubt that in all the quarrels arising from the Norman, Angevin, and Poictevin inheritances, the right of proprietary succession was on both sides distinctly recognised : the wars


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