distraint of knighthood

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John Selden (1584—1654) lawyer and historical and linguistic scholar

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Post‐Conquest military obligations attached to knighthood were increasingly avoided. In theory landowners of a certain status were required to present themselves at coronations to be knighted. Henry III began campaigns to oblige freeholders with estates worth £20 p.a. to take up knighthoods, issuing writs of distraint. At this stage, the motive was primarily military but later monarchs were more interested in the revenue they could raise by allowing subjects to compound or pay fines. Charles I, in his search for extra‐parliamentary revenue, recommenced distraining. Considerable revenue was raised and even more considerable animosity.

Subjects: Military History — British History.

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