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The upper house, as we have seen, is marked out in some
composition of an countries by the conditions of society  and  by          historical traditions.    A  body of landholders,
having certain jurisdictional rights, with a territory over which
they were also military chiefs, constituted the nucleus of the
estate of nobles in the middle ages. England was happy in
escaping the extreme disintegration of the feudal kingdoms ;
it was more in its internal relations a dukedom than a monar-
chy. The kings of the house of Anjou strove for power and
met a stout resistance from nobles and clergy ; magna carta
was won by these estates, yet it took the commons under
equal protection. Then the nobles under Henry III. called
on the commons to share the government with them. The
nobility of England on the whole have been a great help in
resisting the excessive power of the sovereign and in securing
the liberties of the country!
The house of lords contained at first those who had titles
of nobility in their own right, together with bishops and ab-
bots. As the king was the fountain of honor, he could enno-
ble a person or a family, and give him in personal right or
with his successors, the right of membership in this assembly.
The wearer of a title, civil or ecclesiastical, might be consid-
ered as a representative of an estate with the tenants on it,
and of a family, diocese, or convent. In the change of reli-
gion under Henry VIII. , the abbots disappeared from the
house of lords and left no successors. On the other hand, the
recruiting of the house, as it has been carried on for a long
time, has been singularly wise. The distinguished men of
the law, the great generals, to some extent in modern times
the great bankers, a few of the literary men and the prin-
cipal statesmen, have been called up into the house of lords,
and thus the tendency to stagnation of intellect and physical
degeneracy which is incident to an old nobility h^as been
checked, if not more than counterbalanced. Thus, too, the
line which was likely to become too marked between the no-