The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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340                   THE SUSSEX COAST
a code of regulations for its own local affairs called its Customal.
Had the English Kingdom been as weak as the Holy Roman Empire the Cinque Ports might have had a career somewhat resembling that of the Hanseatic League, possessing as at one time they practically did the only effective navy. They showed some considerable signs of independence. In 1293, in private war, they defeated the French at St. Mahe, and the battle had the most far-reaching results, largely causing the Hundred Years' War and the long-continued Scotch alliance with France. When remonstrated with, the ports-men appealed " to the judgment of their peers, earls, and barons," so asserting their right to rank with peers of the realm. In 1297, at Sluys, they attacked the Yarmouth vessels under the very eyes of the king. But the Ports were close to London (while the Hanseatic towns were far from Rome), the Warden was the king's own officer and, though they supported Simon de Montfort, relations with their sovereign were usually pretty close. The Cinque Port fleet long preserved the throne of John himself, by whose presence in the opinion of his contemporaries hell itself was defiled. The right of the barons to be with the king when he went forth of his chamber that he might be crowned, and when he returned from his coronation, and to hold a canopy over his head, had a symbolical meaning that was once very real. Various other places than the Cinque Ports now help to maintain the navy, but the right of the barons to attend the king at his coronation has survived till to-day. The Court of Claims for the Coronation of Edward VII. held that " if it is His Majesty's pleasure to have a canopy then the
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