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That same day, he immediately made a bad turn and turned to the King of France and did him homage and became his ally and let the French into his town. Shamed is he who deliberately acts villainously It was their envy of the Marshal, he writes, that led them to spread false rumors about him Once she has set fire to her own, she spreads the fire and smoke to set alight the house of her nearest neighbour.

A curse be upon her ways! All those who commit treason are descendants of Cain They assumed that he would pass on their lies to the king; but when he understood where their conversation with him was leading, he said that he would never become a traitor and that what they had in mind would be a great wrong When they denied that they were plotting treason, Ralph insisted that that was what they had in mind. Another man who betrayed the Marshal was Meilyr fitz Henry, an Irish baron who colluded with King John harming him by treason.

They also killed twenty of his men, and carried before them all the booty they had taken in the town as they went on their way. So began throughout the land, the troubles and the great war against the Marshal Nor did treason necessarily result in physical harm. Instead, treason was understood to be a dishonorable, underhanded, and devious way of causing or simply plotting harm of various kinds, including harm to reputation. It had deeply pejorative connotations and associations.

It was assumed to be driven by envy, fury, malice, and hatred — secret hatred.

Guardian takes royal treason law to court | Media | The Guardian

It was bitter, cruel, dirty, shameful, ugly, and vile. It was not just a wrong but a shameful manner of acting, linked to lying and slandering, conspiracy, plotting, acting by night, secrecy, guile, greed, conniving, ruses, felony, and outrage. Treason involved evil trickery, that is, mal engin , which, in the form of malum ingenium , appears in ordinary oaths of fidelity as well as in the ones sworn by King John and the barons to observe Magna Carta And traitors, as we have just seen, were vile, envious, shameless, wicked, odious, and false; they were liars, connivers, losengiers , felons, and men of bad faith Adding to this statement, Beaumanoir wrote:.

Another vernacular law book, the Anglo-Norman text called Britton , identifies another element of treason that is only implicit in what Beaumanoir and the History of William Marshal say on this subject. In short, condemning a noble for treason against the king had to be accomplished though a public, ceremonious process in which many men actively or collusively participated in imposing the stereotypical identity of traitor on the accused.

The process must have been easier or more difficult to carry out, depending on factors that included the kind of treason at issue, the reputations of the accused, the accuser, the men supporting one side or the other, and the king whom the accused had allegedly wronged. These two kinds of treason were imputed to people who fit the conventionalized profile of the traitor, just as sodomy was imputed to the Sodomite and heresy to the heretic Some men, the story shows, had good grounds for turning from a king, refusing him aid and even going against him. Even when such grounds for lacking, at least some of blame for their turning from one king to another could be shifted from those who turned to those who turned them and to the evil counselors of the kings who turned the turned.

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Finally, by representing kings such as John and Philip II so unfavorably and by refraining from consistently denouncing most of the men who turned against them as traitors, the History of William Marshal obliquely suggests that these kings were themselves so deeply implicated in treason that they lacked the prestige and the honor necessary to secure the condemnation of reputedly honorable men for committing treason against them. When John accused William Marshal of treason for giving hospitality to William de Briouze, the critical question was whether the accuser or accused had the power to impose his own interpretation on an act that was obviously open to two different constructions and, in this way, to brand his adversary a traitor.

Or had he simply given hospitality to his lord? Here again, the issue was whether the royal accuser or the accused had the power to define an act that could be interpreted in two different ways. Or had he not? Could a king truly commit treason? The author of the History of William Marshal uses these words very rarely with reference to King Philip of France and never, it appears, when writing about King John. Nevertheless, because he freely imputes to both kings virtually every manner of acting and feeling associated with traitors and because he repeatedly mentions the evils and wrongs that both kings inflicted on their men, he makes it easy to think of both kings as traitors.

Take the case of Philip of France. The author also shows, in an extended passage, how Philip engaged in treason by tricking the future King Richard, then count of Poitou, into turning to him The king had done wrong to some of those who turned against him, and others against whom he had committed no misdeeds turned against him wrongfully.

Although the History includes no direct evidence on these points, the preceding analysis provides some clues about the criteria that the author would and would not have used in assessing this incident. In all probability, he would not have focused closely on whether the men had violated their oaths of fidelity to John since this issue barely figures in his discussions of treason and traitors.

Nor would he have reflexively branded the men as traitors either because they had caused harm to the king, as they had obviously done, or acted in derogation of his majesty, which was not a quality that the History reflexively attributes to all kings, least of all John. Also important for the author, though totally invisible to us, would have been the reputations of each of the nobles whom King John proposed to hang. When evaluated with these criteria in mind, the nobles in question, though they had obviously turned from the king and caused him harm, would not have been considered traitors, except, perhaps, for those who were well-known for their disloyalty and deceitfulness.

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By all appearances, however, the nobles had not engaged in trickery or deceit but had fought against the king openly and even honorably. They had arguably turned from him because he had treated them badly, not because they were simply out for gain. Nor would it have been easy faulted for betraying a trust by going against a king who, in the eyes of many nobles, was virtually a proven traitor.

For these reasons, it seems highly unlikely that the author of the History of William Marshal would have judged these men to be traitors whom King John could lawfully hang as traitors for waging a guerra against him. As for the matter of hanging the crossbowmen, there is no need to argue that they had committed treason against the king by fighting against him. Killing with a crossbow was obviously treason since, as the author of Li livres de Jostice et plet put it, the victim never saw the blow coming Besides, from the perspective of almost everyone, crossbowmen were scum.

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As the preceding analysis has shown, the History of William Marshal illustrates ways of representing and evaluating the conduct of nobles, including kings, in a political world that was legally as well as politically more complex than either the imaginary world of medieval Roman law, which assigned kings the role of majestic and sovereign rulers, or the Christian political community that Innocent III represented as being knit together by oaths of fidelity over which churchmen alone had jurisdiction. In this kind of polity, it was absurd for a single king either to assert full sovereignty or a monopoly over the use of force or to make overriding claims on the fidelity of all nobles with lands and political associates in it.

It was also unthinkable for nobles to show unwavering loyalty to such a ruler. For Angevin kings to make such claims on great nobles, at least, would have been all the more impracticable, given the frequency with which their intra-familial quarrels and rebellions undercut the legitimacy of each of them and led them to make conflicting claims on the loyalties of their men.

As the History of William Marshal tells us, nobles enmeshed in this system also had to be ready to defend themselves against false accusations of treason by political rivals and the king himself and against other royal acts of treason. Thesis, Emory University, HOLT, op.

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MYERS, op. Full catalogue details.

source url Explore further Related articles. William Blake's radical politics Article by: Andrew Lincoln Themes: Power and politics, Poverty and the working classes, Romanticism The French Revolution inspired London radicals and reformers to increase their demands for change. Hannah More's Cheap Repository Tracts. The Albion Mill: average prices of wheat and flour, View all related collection items. The editor contacted the attorney general before publication seeking assurances that he and his staff would not be prosecuted if they advocated change by peaceful means only.

Lord Williams replied that such conduct "may be criminal" and refused to confirm that there would be no prosecution. None of the journalists who called for a republic has been threatened with prosecution. But the December 6 edition is still available as a back issue, the articles can be downloaded from the Guardian website, and the paper plans to continue its campaign.

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The Guardian is seeking to clarify the Treason Felony Act as the first step in a legal campaign which will see it backing a challenge the Act of Settlement, the year-old law which bans non-Protestants from succession to the British throne and discriminates against women and those born out of wedlock. Mr Rusbridger said: "The Treason Felony Act is one more piece of archaic legal nonsense surrounding the monarchy.


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