Page:Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects.djvu/181
isolated garrison in the middle of a world out of which they were being gradually driven; no more, as Richard had hoped, an advance post in the great campaign by which the East was to be humbled before the West.
Hence, no doubt, it is that, notwithstanding the example of the kingdom of Naples, which was the nearest Catholic neighbour of Cyprus, we find no traces of a Cypriot parliament. There were councils of nobles and councils of bishops; there were high courts and bourgeois courts; and there were, as elsewhere, three estates well defined, clergy, nobles, and burghers; but if there ever was any attempt to range these in an organised body either for legislation or for money grants, I have failed to discover it. The 'Banes,' or ordinances, with which the customs of the Assizes were supplemented, were issued by the king's proclamation; in two or three cases the participation of the court or of the barons is expressed. In 136a we have an ordinance issued by the king, Peter I, by the assent of the men of his court. A few years before, his father. King Hugh, issued his kws by proclamation: 'Hear the ban of God and of my Lord the King, Hugh of Lusignan of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and of Cyprus; know all men that on the 16th of May, 1355, the Lord King and his men ordained an assize.' Here it is possible there may be some reference to a general court or 'witenagemot,' but not, I think, to an assembly of estates. According to the Assizes of Jerusalem, every vassal who, whether immediately dependent on the king or on a mesne lord, had done homage to the king as chief lord, was a member of the royal court; a usage which in so small a state must have crushed out every tendency to representative government. In default of further evidence we must, I think, assume that, as in France before the institution of the states-general, the only check on the king was his court of vassals; whereas, after the example had been set in the states-general, diets and parliaments of the West, the national life of Cyprus was too much attenuated to allow it to reproduce such institutions on an unfriendly soil. The Basse Cour or Court of Bourgeois, organised under the vis-
- Assizes, i. 254.