Writ for the levying of a force for the defence of the Kingdom

A.D. 1205. Writ for the levying of a force for the defence of the Kingdom

This Act, altough only an occasional expedient for the defence of the country, has considerable interest as proceeding from the ‘Commune Consilium regni.’ In its material aspect it is an advance on the Assize of Arms, which had directed the arming of the whole population according to a fixed scale, for the same purpose. The first provision bears on the military tenants only; the plan of raising a force by the contribution of the knights had been tried by Henry II in 1157: ‘circa festivitatum S.Johannis Baptistae, rex Henricus praepararvit maximum expeditionem, ita ut duo milites de tota Anglia tertium pararent ad opprimendum Guallenes terra et mari.’ R.de Monte. But although the following document is feudal in form, it bears distinct traces of connexion with the older militia system: it is clearly intended to resist invasion, and we learn from Gervase that the organization of the communa in arms was to be carried out by local constables; the penalties for neglect or treachery carry us back to laws of Ethelred; and the whole act should be compared with the statement of the Berkshire custom in Doomsday book. The ancient fyrd was the folkmoot in arms: the feudal levy was Norman baronage peforming the service due by tenure. The process now going on was a consolidation of the whole into the form which it took later under the writs of Henery III and Edward I for a general arming of the nation, addressed to each of the greater vassals seperatly, and, for the assembling of the lesser ones, to the sheriffs.

Reg, etc. Vicecomiti Rotelandae, etc. Scias provisum est cum assensu archiepiscoporum, episcoporum, comitum, baronum tet omnium fidelium nostrorum Angliae, quod novem milites per totam Angliam invenient decicum militem bene paratum equis et armis ad defensium regni nostri; et quod illi novem milites inventiant decimo militi qualibet die ii. Solidos ad liberationem suam.

From – Select Charters illustrative of English Constitutional History, Stubbs eighth edition.

NB – The latin text of the Summons to Arms AD 1205 is incomplete here. But should someone more able at Latin than me leave a message that they would like to read the full text I will be pleased to oblige.

During the same year 1205 A.D. There was also a Summons to a Great Council.


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