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DAVID HUME, ESQ.
THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND
page 12

forty-three thousand six hundred hides in England, it is easy to compute the amount of all the landed rents of the kingdom. The general and stated price of an ox was four shillings; of a laboring horse, the same; of a sow, one shilling; of a sheep with fine wool, tenpence with coarse wool, sixpence. (*) These commodities seem not to have advanced in their prices since the conquest, (**) and to have still been ten times cheaper than at present. Richard renewed the severe laws against transgressors in his forests, whom he punished by castration and putting out their eyes, as in the reign of his great-grandfather. He established by law one weight and measure throughout his kingdom;(***) a useful institution, which the mercenary disposition and necessities of his successor engaged him to dispense with for money.

[* Hoveden, p. 745.]
[** See note S, at the end of the volume.]
[*** M. Paris, p. 109, 134. Trivet, p. 127. Waverl. p. 165. Hoveden, p. 7.]

The disorders in London, derived from its bad police, had risen to a great height during this reign; and in the year 1196, there seemed to be formed so regular a conspiracy among the numerous malefactors, as threatened the city with destruction. There was one William Fitz-Osbert, commonly called Longbeard, a lawyer, who had rendered himself extremely popular among the lower rank of citizens; and by defend ing-them on all occasions, had acquired the appellation of the advocate or savior of the poor. He exerted his authority by injuring and insulting the more substantial citizens, with whom he lived in a state of hostility, and who were every moment exposed to the most outrageous violences from him and his licentious emissaries. Murders were daily committed in the streets; houses were broken open and pillaged in daylight; and it is pretended, that no less than fifty-two thousand persons had entered into an association, by which they bound themselves to obey all the orders of this dangerous ruffian. Archbishop Hubert, who was then chief justiciary, summoned him before the council to answer for his conduct; but he came so well attended, that no one durst accuse him, or give evidence against him; and the primate, finding the impotence of law, Firsted himself with exacting from the citizens hostages for their good behavior. He kept, however, a watchful eye on Fitz-Osbert, and seizing a favorable opportunity, attempted to commit him to custody; but the criminal, murdering one of the public officers, escaped with his concubine to the church of St. Mary le Bow, where he defended himself by force of arms. He was at last forced from his retreat, condemned, and executed, amidst the regrets of the populace, who were so devoted to his memory, that they stole his gibbet, paid the same veneration to it as to the cross, and were equally zealous in propagating and attesting reports of the miracles wrought by it.(*) But though the sectaries of this superstition were punished by the justiciary, (**) it received so little encouragement from the established clergy whose property was endangered by such seditious practices, that it suddenly sunk and vanished.

[* Hoveden, p 765. Diceto, p. 691. Neub. p 192, 498]
[** Gervase, p. 1551.]

It was during the crusades that the custom of using coats of arms was first introduced into Europe. The knights, cased up in armor, had no way to make themselves be known and distinguished in battle, but by the devices on their shields; and these were gradually adopted by their posterity and families, who were proud of the pious and military enterprises of their ancestors. King Richard was a passionate lover of poetry: there even remain some poetical works of his composition: and he bears a rank among the Provençal poets or Trobadores, who were the first of the modern Europeans that distinguished themselves by attempts of that nature.


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