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array, commissions of

array, commissions of. This was a means of raising local troops between the fyrd and the feudal levy and the militia of modern times. The commissions instructed individuals, usually gentry or noblemen, to raise troops in their area and were first issued by Edward I. They were a heavy burden, particularly if the cost fell upon the township or locality and Parliament succeeded in obtaining a number of concessions. Edward III promised in 1327 not to employ the men outside their county, save in case of invasion; in 1344 that the crown would pay wages if they were asked to serve outside the kingdom; in 1350 that they would only be issued with the consent of Parliament. A statute of Henry IV in 1402 repeated the limitations, declaring that they ‘shall be firmly holden and kept in all points’. After mid-16th cent. it was more convenient to ask the lords-lieutenant to raise levies and commissions fell into disuse. Charles I in desperation, on the eve of civil war, revived them, issuing the first in May 1642 to some Lancashire gentry. Clarendon thought it had been a mistake to resort to antique procedures, ‘a thing they had not before heard of’, and they were at once declared unlawful by Parliament.

J. A. Cannon

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