Annals Of Xanten Essay, Research Paper
The twelfth century can be attributed to the emergence of feudal monarchs in Western Europe. Historical events and determined leaders contributed to the growth of royal authority after it was a weak kingship under feudalism for a long period of time.
King Louis VI of France faced many hardships in providing order, securing peace and protecting his people; some of these royal duties have been neglected as a result of an inefficient central government. Based on the feudal custom, it was up to the lords to create order within their manor. One such lord, Thomas of Marle, abused his power without any fear for punishment. His hunger for rule, land, and riches caused him to violently seek it. Thomas executed the clergy, burned towns and slaughtered the people, in seeking the land of the Church. He also went after the rich, seized their property and possessions, to increase his own domain. Thomas? actions were done during the time that King Louis VI was fighting wars to defend his kingdom and ensure security. This and the undeveloped communication made it impossible for the King to respond faster to the cruelty.
Thomas of Marle was able to obtain much of the Church?s territory and two manors. He built walls and towers around his newly acquired property and still felt no remorse for the deaths and destruction of many. The Church of France finally gathered its clergy to an assembly where it was decided to take action against the tyrant. Since the Church wasn?t physically able to step up to Thomas itself, due to its lack of military, it was assumed that King Louis would do the job, given that he made a promise to protect the Church when taking office.
Church?s decision served as a ?blessing? to Louis VI in attacking Thomas? castle. King Louis VI easily defeated the men of Thomas of Marle. He avenged the Church by punishing the ?wicked? people in the same manner as they tortured the residents of the land; church?s property was restored. These just actions promoted the sense of law in France and won Louis the admiration of many. Not only he won the favor of the people, but he had also proved himself to be a successful military leader. Louis had made sure that no heirs of Thomas succeed to power in that town and by this he further intervened in the affairs of feudal manors. Such intrusion accomplished him to be recognized as an ultimate authority, something he had desired the whole time.
Louis VII of France took a different approach to increasing his power. He seemed to be more interested in augmenting his status by acquiring more wealth, rather than through actions, as Louis VI did. Preceding and during the reign of Louis VII, the local towns have been emerging as the centers for commerce and trade. This resulted in substantial increase in the standard of living of general public. With time, the balance of wealth was noticeably shifting to the public side rather than the one of the royalty. As people obtained more money they assumed more power and such wasn?t favored by superior rule, thus the need for regulation developed.
King Louis VII issued charters of privileges to the towns under jurisdiction. He had used feudal custom of homage to ensure that his regulations are carried faithfully out. In his charter for Lorris, Louis VII tried to be in all ways supportive of commerce and growth of cities. Collection of land tax and fines were the primary sources of income. Neither individual tax, nor tolls were imposed on residents of Lorris; anything that would inhibit trade was abolished. Even detaining one in prison was ruled out because would halt that individual?s place in economic society. Many were incapable of paying the tax and therefore selling of property was made a little bit easier. The king relied on the buyer?s intelligence to improve the land so he can furnish the payments. Being unable to pay encouraged many to recognize the emergence of towns and turn to commerce.
King Louis VII established the sense of law for the land by issuing the charter. He promoted trade and commerce because greatly benefited by them in increasing his wealth. By achieving both of these, the king proved himself a greater monarch than those of the times of feudalism.
Another feudal monarch that enthusiastically promoted trade and commerce was John I of England. Similarly to the King Louis VII of France, John had issued a charter for the town Ipswich. He was also faced with problems of arising towns and quickly learned to use it in his favor. John?s charter also included a grant to travelers to be excluded from paying tolls; fines were collected on those who impose such tax on travelers. John?s income was determined by the yearly tax that was collected by his exchequer. This tax wasn?t defined to be a specific tax, in terms of land, labor or individuality; it was a set price to pay for existing within the boundary of Ipswich.
Despite John?s attempts to strengthen his authority by increasing his wealth, he had also set up a system of royal representatives to administer law and justice in the lands. By accomplishing this, he created order and kept ultimate control of the vast property.
Previous the reign of John I, England had another monarch distinguished for his just and strong leadership ? Henry II. Henry took office with problems piled as a result of an incompetent rule of his grandfather, Stephen. Stephen was a very soft king and therefore did not enforce justice. Hence, England went from having a very forceless monarch to a very powerful one. Stephen asked for homage to be done. By feudal custom that goes in return for protection, which was not provided. Consequently, all rich men felt the need to defend themselves and thus built castles all over the land. This way they broke the oath with the king, but they didn?t care since knew that Stephen was not going to respond to their corrupt actions.
Despite the building of castles, great oppression of commoners was exercised by the rich men. Similar to the actions of Thomas of Marle of France, these inhabitants of England tortured and slaughtered people, as well as the clergy, if were suspected with possessions. Towns and churches were burnt, famine and starvation existed in the lands, and people were murdered for nineteen years of Stephen?s reign with no action taken. For this reason, once Henry II took over, his main concern was to establish order and return things to the way they were before Stephen?s rule.
King Henry took action against the foreigners by threatening their stay in the land, thus requesting for their departure. This enactment proved Henry to be a daring leader, and its success increased his authority because instilled fear in many; even though he was a mean monarch, he was very effective in achieving his goals. Due to the previous statement, we can certainly give credit to the King Henry for ensuring protection, attending the problems of starvation and famine, and seeking justice for those involved in massacres under reign of Stephen.
Feudal Monarchs such as King Louis VI and Louis VII of France, and Henry II and John I of England, augmented their royal strength either by taking firm actions, building a reputation, increasing the royal income, establishing public order or by the use of fear. While they focused on the ?monarch? part of the ?feudal monarch? phrase, they still attributed to the feudal customs by the use of military protection, collection of fines and royal representatives. These actions along with the historical circumstances contributed to the evolution of feudal monarch