Feudalism In Europe, Its Frankish Birth And English Development

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Feudalism,  A general Overview

Author:     Stubbs, William

 Feudalism: Its Frankish Birth And English Development

 

Part Twelve

 

     "The existence," says Savigny, "of an original nobility, as a particular

patrician order, and not as a class indefinitely distinguished by their wealth

and nobility, cannot be questioned.  It is difficult to say from what origin

distinction may have proceeded; whether it was connected with the services of

religion, or with the possession of the heritable offices of counts.  We may

affirm, however, with certainty, that the honor enjoyed was merely personal,

and conferred no preponderance in the political or judicial systems." (Ch. iv.

p. 172, English translation.) This admits all the theory to which I have

inclined in the text, namely, the non-existence of a privileged order, though

antiquity of family was in high respect.  The eorl of Anglo-Saxon law was, it

may be said, distinguished by certain privileges from the ceorl.  Why could

not the same have been the case with the Franks?  We may answer that it is by

the laws and records of those times that we prove the former distinction in

England, and it is by the absence of all such proof that the non-existence of

such a distinction in France has been presumed.  But if the lidi, of whom we

so often read, were Franks by origin, and moreover personally free, which, to

a certain extent, we need not deny, they will be the corresponding rank to the

Anglo-Saxon ceorl, superior, as, from whatever circumstances, the latter may

have been in his social degree.  All the Franci ingenui will thus have

constituted a class of nobility; in no other sense, however, than all men of

white race constitute such a class in those of the United States where slavery

is abolished, which is not what we usually mean by the word.  In some German

nations we have, indeed, a distinct nobility of blood.  The Bavarians had vive

families, for the death of a member of whom a double composition was paid.

They had one, the Agilolfungi, whose composition was fourfold.  Troja also

finds proof of two classes among the Alemanns (v. 168).  But we are speaking

only of the Franks, a cognate people, indeed, to the Saxons and Alemanns, but

not the same, and whose origin is not that of a pure single tribe.  The Franks

were collectively like a new people in comparison with some others of Teutonic

blood.  It does not, therefore, appear to me so unquestionable as to Savigny

that a considerable number of families formed a patrician order in the French

monarchy, without reference to hereditary possessions or hereditary office.

 

     A writer of considerable learning and ingenuity, but not always attentive

to the strict meaning of what he quotes, has found a proof of family

precedence among the Franks in the words crinosus and crinitus, employed in

the Salic law and in an edict of Childebert.  (Meyer, Institut. Judiciaires,

vol. i. p. 104.) This privilege of wearing long hair he supposes peculiar to

certain families, and observes that crinosus is opposed to tonsoratus.  But

why should we not believe that all superior freemen, that is, all Franks,

whose composition was of two hundred solidi, wore this long hair, though it

might be an honor denied to the lidi? Gibert, in a memoir on the Merovingians

(Acad. des Inscript. xxx. 538), quotes a passage of Tacitus, concerning the

manner in which the nation of the Suevi wore their hair, from whom the Franks

are supposed by him to be descended.  And there is at least something

remarkable in the language of Tacitus, which indicates a distinction between

the royal family and other freemen, as well as between these and the servile

class.  The words have not been, I think, often quoted: - "Nunc de Suevis

dicendum est, quorum non una ut Cattorum Tencterorumque gens; majorem enim

Germaniae partem obtinent, propriis adhuc nationibus discreti quamquam in

communi Suevi dicuntur.  Insigne gentis obliquare crinem, nodoque

substringere.  Sic Suevi a caeteris Germanis, sic Suevorum ingenui a servis

separantur.  In aliis gentibus seu cognatione aliqua Suevorum, seu, quod

accidit, imitatione, rarum et intra juventae spatium, apud Suevos usque ad

canitiem, horentum capillum retro sequuntur ac saepe in ipso solo vertice

religant; principes et ornatiorem habent." (De Mor. German. c. 38.) This last

expression may account for the word crinitus being sometimes applied to the

royal family, as it were exclusively, sometimes to the Frank nation or its

freemen. ^a The references of M. Meyer are so far from sustaining his theory

that they rather lead me to an opposite conclusion.

 

[Footnote a: The royal family seems also to have worn longer hair than the

others.  Childebert proposed to Clotaire, as we read in Gregory of Tours (iii.

18), that the children of their brother Clodimer should be either cropped or

put to death: "quid de his fieri debeat; et utrum incisa caesarie, ut reliqua

plebs habeantur, an certe his interfectis regnum germani nostri inter

nosmetipsos aequalitate habita dividatur."]

 

     M. Naudet (in Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, Nouvelle Serie,

vol. viii. p. 502) enters upon an elaborate discussion of the state of persons

under the first dynasty.  He distinguishes, of course, the ingenui from the

lidi.  But among the former he conceives that there were two classes: the

former, absolutely free as to their persons, valued in their weregild at 200

solidi, meeting in the county mallus, and sometimes in the national assembly,

- in a word, the populus of the Frank monarchy; the latter, valued, as he

supposes, at 100 solidi, living under the protection or mundeburde of some

rich man, and though still free, and said to be ingenuili ordine servientes,

not very distinguishable at present from the lidi.  I do not know that this

theory has been countenanced by other writers.  But even if we admit it, the

higher class could not properly be denominated an hereditary nobility; their

privileges would be those of better fortune, which had rescued them from the

dependence into which, from one cause or another, their fellow-citizens had

fallen.  The Franks in general are called by Guizot une noblesse en decadence;

the leudes one en progres.  But he maintains that from the fifth to the

eleventh age there existed no real nobility of birth.  In this, however, he

goes much further than Mably, who does not scruple to admit an hereditary

nobility in the time of Charlemagne, and probably further than can be

reasonably allowed, especially if the eleventh century is to be understood

inclusively.  In that century we shall see that the nobles formed a distinct

order; and I am much inclined to believe that this was the case as soon as

feudal tenure became general, which was at least as early as the tenth.

 

     M. Lehuerou denis any hereditary nobility during the Merovingian period,

at least, of French history: "Il n'existait donc point de noblesee dans le

sens moderne du mot, puisqu'il n'y avait point d'heredite, et puisque

l'heredite, si elle se produisait quelquefois, etait purement accidentelle;

mais il y avait une aristocratie mobile, changeante, variable au gre des

accidents et des caprices de la vie barbare, et neanmoins en possession de

veritables privileges qu'il faut se garder de meconnaitre. Cette aristocratie

etait plutot celle des titres, des places, et des honneurs, que celle de la

naissance, quoique celle-ci n'y fut pas etrangere.  Elle etait plus dans le

present, et moins dans le passe; elle empruntait plus a la puissance actuelle

qu'a celle des souvenirs; mais elle ne s'en detachait pas moins nettement des

couches inferieures de la population, et notamment de la foule de ceux dont la

noblesse ne consistait que dans leur ingenuite." (Inst. Caroling. p. 452.)

 

Note IX

 

     The nature of benefices has been very well discussed, like everything

else, by M. Guizot, in his Essai sur l'Hist. de France, p. 120.  He agrees

with me in the two main positions - that benefices, considered generally,

never passed through the supposed stage of grants revocable at pleasure, and

that they were sometimes granted in inheritance from the sixth century

downwards.  This, however, was rather the exception, he supposes, than the

rule.  "We cannot doubt that under Charlemagne, most benefices were granted

only for life" (p. 140).  Louis the Debonair endeavored to act on the same

policy, but his efforts were unsuccessful.  Hereditary grants became the rule,

as is proved by many charters of his own and Charles the Bald. Finally, he

tells us, the latter prince, in 877, empowered his fideles to dispose of their

benefices as they thought fit, provided it were to persons capable of serving

the estate.  But this is too largely expressed; the power given is to those

vassals who might desire to take up their abode in a cloister; and it could

only be exercised in favor of a son or other kinsman. ^a But the right of

inheritance had probably been established before.  Still, so deeply was the

notion of a personal relation to the grantor implanted in the minds of men,

that it was common, notwithstanding the largest terms of inheritance in a

grant, for the new tenant to obtain a confirmation from the crown.  This might

also be for the sake of security. And is precisely the renewal of homage and

fealty on a change of tenancy, which belonged to the more matured stage of the

feudal polity.

 

[Footnote a: Si aliquis ex fidelibus nostris post obitum nostrum, Dei et

nostro amore compunctus, saeculo renuntiare voluerit, et filium vel talem

propinquum habuerit qui reipublicae prodesse valeat, suos honores prout melius

voluerit ei valeat piscitare. - Script. Rer. Gall. vii. 701.]

 

     Mr. Allen observes, with respect to the formula of Marculfus quoted in my

note, p. 130: - "Some authors have considered this as a precedent for the

grant of an hereditary benefice.  But it is only necessary to read with

attention the act itself to perceive that what it creates is not an hereditary

benefice, but an allodial estate.  It is viewed in this light in his

(Bignon's) notes on a subsequent formula (sect. 17), confirmatory of what had

been done under the preceding one, and it is only from inadvertence that it

could have been considered in a different point of view." (Inquiry into Royal

Prerogative, Appendix, p. 47.) But Bignon took for granted that benefices were

only for term of life, and consequently that words of inheritance, in the age

of Marculfus, implied an allodial grant.  The question is, What constituted a

benefice?  Was it not a grant by favor of the king or other lord?  If the

words used in the formula of Marculfus are inconsistent with a beneficiary

property, we must give up the inference from the treaty of Andely, and from

all other phrases which have seemed to convey hereditary benefices.  It is

true that the formula in Marculfus gives a larger power of alienation than

belonged afterwards to fiefs; but did it put an end to the peculiar obligation

of the holder of the benefice towards the crown?  It does not appear to me

unreasonable to suppose an estate so conferred to have been strictly a

benefice, according to the notions of the seventh century.

 

     Subinfeudation could hardly exist to any considerable degree until

benefices became hereditary.  But as soon as that change took place, the

principle was very natural and sure to suggest itself.  It prodigiously

strengthened the aristocracy, of which they could not but be aware; and they

had acquired such extensive possessions out of the royal domain that they

could well afford to take a rent for them in iron instead of silver.

Charlemagne, as Guizot justly conceives, strove to counteract the growing

feudal spirit by drawing closer the bonds between the sovereign and the

subject.  He demanded an oath of allegiance, as William afterwards did in

England, from the vassals of mesne lords.  But after his death, and after the

complete establishment of an hereditary right in the grants of the crown, it

was utterly impossible to prevent the general usage of subinfeudation.

 

     Mably distinguishes the lands granted by Charles Martel to his German

followers from the benefices of the early kings, reserving to the former the

name of fiefs.  These he conceives to have been granted only for life, and to

have involved, for the first time, the obligation of military service.

(Observations sur l'Hist. de France, vol. i. p. 32.) But as they were not

styled fiefs so early, but only benefices, this distinction seems likely to

deceive the reader; and the oath of fidelity taken by the Antrustion, which,

though personal, could not be a weaker obligation after he had acquired a

benefice, carries a very strong presumption that military service, at least in

defensive wars, not always distinguishable from wars to revenge a wrong, as

most are presumed to be, was demanded by the usages and moral sentiments of

the society.  We have not a great deal of testimony as to the grants of

Charles Martel; but in the capitularies of Charlemagne it is evident that all

holders of benefices were bound to follow the sovereign to the field.

 

     M. Guerard (Cartulaire de Chartres, i. 23) is of opinion that, though

benefices were ultimately fiefs, in the first stage of the monarchy they were

only usufructs; and the word will not be clearly found in the restrained sense

during that period.  "Cette difference entre deux institutions nees l'une de

l'autre, quoique assez delicate, etait essentielle.  Elle ne pourrait etre

meconnue que par ceux qui considereraient seulement, les benefices a la fin,

et les fiefs au commencement de leur existence; alors en effet les uns et les

autres se confondaient." That they were not mere usufructs, even at first,

appears to me more probable.

 

Note X

 

     Somner says that he has not found the word feudum anterior to the year

1000; and that Muratori, a still greater authority, doubts whether it was used

so early.  I have, however, observed the words feum and fevum, which are

manifestly corruptions of feudum, in several charters about 960. (Vaissette,

Hist. de Languedoc, t. ii. Appendix, p. 107, 128, et alibi.) Some of these

fiefs appears not to have been hereditary.  But independently of positive

instances, can it be doubted that some word of barbarous original must have

answered, in the vernacular languages, to the Latin beneficium?  See Du Cange,

v. Feudum.  Sir F. Palgrave answers this by producing the word lehn.  (English

Commonwealth, ii. 208.) And though M. Thierry asserts (Recits des Temps

Merovingiens, i. 245) that this is modern German, he seems to be altogether

mistaken.  (Palgrave, ibid.) But when Sir F. Palgrave proceeds to say - "The

essential and fundamental principle of a territorial fief or feud is, that the

land is held by a limited or conditional estate - the property being in the

lord, and the usufruct in the tenant," we must think this not a very exact

definition of feuds in their mature state, however it might apply to the early

benefices for life. The property, by feudal law, was, I conceive, strictly in

the tenant; what else do we mean by fee-simple?  Military service in most

cases, and always fealty, were due to the lord, and an abandonment of the

latter might cause forfeiture of the land; but the tenant was not less the

owner, and might destroy it or render it unprofitable if he pleased.

 

     Feudum Sir F. Palgrave boldly derives from emphyteusis; and, in fact, by

processes familiar to etymologists, that is, cutting off the head and legs,

and extracting the back-bone, it may thence be exhibited in the old form,

feum, or fevum.  M. Thierry, however, thinks feh, that is, fee or pay, and

odh, property, to be the true root.  (Lettres sur l'Hist. de France, Lettre

x.) Guizot inclines to the same derivation; and it is, in fact, given by Du

Cange and others.  The derivation of alod from all and odh seems to be

analogous; and the word udaller, for the freeholder of the Shetland and Orkney

Isles, strongly confirms this derivation, being only the two radical elements

reversed, as I remember to have seen observed in Gilbert Stuart's View of

Society.  A charter of Charles the Fat is suspected on account of the word

feudum, which is at least of very rare occurrence till late in the tenth

century.  The great objection to emphyteusis is, that a fief is a different

thing.  Sir F. Palgrave, indeed, contends that an "emphyteusis" is often

called a "precaria," and that the word "precaria" was a synonym of

"beneficium," as beneficium was of "feudum." But does it appear from the

ancient use of the words "precaria" and "beneficium" that they were

convertible, as the former is said, by Muratori and Lehuerou, to have been

with emphyteusis?  (Murat. Antiq. Ital. Diss.  xxxvi.  Lehuerou, Inst.

Caroling. p. 183.) The tenant by emphyteusis, whom we find in the Codes of

Theodosius and Justinian, was little more than a colonus, a demi-serf attached

to the soil, though incapable of being dispossessed.  Is this like the holder

of a benefice, the progenitor of the great feudal aristocracy?  How can we

compare emphyteusis with beneficium without remembering that one was commonly

a grant for a fixed return in value, answering to the "terrae censuales" of

later times, and the latter, as the word implies, a free donation with no

condition but gratitude and fidelity?  The word precaria is for the most part

applied to ecclesiastical property which, by some usurpation, had fallen into

the hands of laymen. These afterwards, by way of compromise, were permitted to

continue as tenants of the church for a limited term, generally of life, on

payment of a fixed rate.  Marculfus, however, gives a form in which the

grantor of the precaria appears to be a layman.  Military service was not

contemplated in the emphyteusis or the precaria, nor was either of them a

perpetuity; at least this was not their common condition.  Meyer derives

feudum from fides, quoting Aimoin: "Leudibussuis in fide disposuit." (Inst.

Judic. i. 187.)

 

Note XI

 

     M. Guizot, with the highest probability, refers the conversion of

allodial into feudal lands to the principle of commendation.  (Essais sur

l'Hist. de France, p. 166.) Though originally this had no relation to land,

but created a merely personal tie - fidelity in return for protection - it is

easy to conceive that the allodialist who obtained this privilege, as it might

justly appear in an age of rapine, must often do so by subjecting himself to

the law of tenure - a law less burdensome at a time when warfare, if not

always defensive, as it was against the Normans, was always carried on in the

neighborhood, at little expense beyond the ravages that might attend its want

of success.  Raynouard has published a curious passage from the Life of St.

Gerald, a Count of Aurillac, where he is said to have refused to subject his

allodial lands to the Duke of Guienne, with the exception of one farm,

peculiarly situated.  "Erat enim semotim, inter pessimos vicinos, longe a

oaeteris disparatum." His other lands were so situated that he was able to

defend them.  Nothing can better explain the principle which riveted the

feudal yoke upon allodialists.  (Hist. du Droit Municipal, ii. 261.)

 

     In my text, though M. Guizot has done me the honor to say, "M. Montlosier

et M. Hallam en ont mieux demele la nature et les causes," the subject is not

sufficiently disentangled, and the territorial character which commendation

ultimately assumed is too much separated from the personal.  The latter

preceded even the conquest of Gaul, both among the barbarian invaders

themselves and the provincial subjects, ^a and was a sort of clientela; ^b but

the former deserves also the name of commendation, though the Franks had a

word of their own to express it.  We find in Marculfus the form by which the

king took an ecclesiastical person, with his property and followers, under his

own mundeburde, or safeguard. (Lib. i. c. 44.) This was equivalent to

commendation, or rather another word for it; except as one rather expresses

the act of the tenant, the other that of the lord.  Letters of safeguard were

not by any means confined to the church.  They were frequent as long as the

crown had any power to protect, and revived again in the decline of the feudal

system. Nor were they limited to the crown; we have the form by which the poor

might place themselves under the mundeburde of the rich, still being free,

"ingenuili ordine servientes." Formulae Veteres Bignonii, c. 44; vide Naudet

ubi supra.  They were then even sometimes called, as the latter supposes, lidi

or liti, so that a freeman, even of the higher class, might, at his option,

fall, for the sake of protection, into an inferior position.

 

[Footnote a: M. Lehuerou has gone very deeply into the mundium, or personal

safeguard, by which the inferior class among the Germans were commended to a

lord, and placed under his protection, in return for their own fidelity and

service.  (Institutions Carolingiennes, liv. i. ch. i. sec. 2.) It is a

subject, as he conceives, of the highest importance in these inquiries, being,

in fact, the real origin of the feudal polity afterwards established in

Europe; though, from the circumstances of ancient Germany, it was of necessity

a personal and not a territorial vassalage.  It fell in very naturally with

the similar principle of commendation existing in the Roman empire.  This bold

and original theory, however, has not been admitted by his contemporary

antiquaries.  M. Giraud and M. Mignet (Seances et Travaux de l'Academie des

Sciences Morales et Politiques, pour Novembre, 1843), especially the latter,

dissent from this explication of the origin of feudal polity, which was in no

degree of a domestic character.  The utmost they can allow is, that

territorial jurisdiction was extended to feudal vassals, by analogy to that

which the patron, or chief of the mundium, had exercised over those who

recognized him as protector, as well as over his family and servants.  There

is nevertheless, perhaps, a larger basis of truth in M. Lehuerou's system than

they admit, though I do not conceive it to explain the whole feudal system.]

 

[Footnote b: Garnier has happily adduced a very ancient authority for this use

of the word.

 

Thais patri se commendavit; in clientelam et fidem 115 Nobis dedit se. - Ter.

Eun., Act 5. Origine du Gouvernement Francais (in Leber ii. 194).]

 

     I have no hesitation in agreeing with Guizot that the conversion of

allodial into feudal property was nothing more than an extension of the old

commendation.  It was not necessary that there should be an express surrender

and regrant of the land; the acknowledgment of seigniory by the commendatus

would supply the place.  M. Naudet (Nouv. Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip.  vol.

viii.) accumulates proofs of commendation; it is surprising that so little was

said of it by the earlier antiquaries.  One of his instances deserves to be

mentioned.  "Isti homines," says a writer of Charlemagne's age, "fuerunt

liberi et ingenui; sed quod militiam regis non valebant exercere, tradiderunt

alodos suos sancto Germano." ^c (P. 567.) We may perhaps infer from this that

the tenants of the church were not bound to military service.  "No general

law," says M. Guizot (Collect. de Mem. i. 419), "exempted them from it; but

the clergy endeavored constantly to secure such an immunity, either by grant

or by custom, which was one cause that their tenants were better off than

those of laymen." The difference was indeed most important, and must have

prodigiously enhanced the wealth of the church.  But after the feudal policy

became established we do not find that there was any dispensation for

ecclesiastical fiefs.  The advantage of their tenants lay in the comparatively

pacific character of their spiritual lords.  It may be added that, from many

passages in the laws of the Saxons, Alemanns, and Barvarians, all the

"commendati" appear to have been denominated vassals, whether they possessed

benefices or not. That word afterwards implied a more strictly territorial

limitation.

 

[Footnote c: It will be remarked that liberi and ingenui appear here to be

distinguished: "not only free, but gentlemen."]

 

     Thus then let the reader keep in mind that the feudal system, as it is

commonly called, was the general establishment of a peculiar relation between

the sovereign (not as king, but as lord) and his immediate vassals; between

these again and others standing to them in the same relation of vassalage, and

thus frequently through several links in the chain of tenancy.  If this

relation, and especially if the latter and essential element, subinfeudation,

is not to be found, there is no feudal system, though there may be analogies

to it, more or less remarkable or strict. But if he asks what were the

immediate causes of establishing this polity, we must refer him to three alone

- to the grants of beneficiary lands to the vassal and his heirs, without

which there could hardly be subinfeudation; to the analogous grants of

official honors, particularly that of count or governor of a district; and,

lastly, to the voluntary conversion of allodial into feudal tenure, through

free landholders submitting their persons and estates, by way of commendation,

to a neighboring lord or to the count of a district.  All these, though

several instances, especially of the first, occurred much earlier, belong

generally to the ninth century, and may be supposed to have been fully

accomplished about the beginning of the tenth - to which period, therefore,

and not to an earlier one, we refer the feudal system in France.  We say in

France, because our attention has been chiefly directed to that kingdom; in

none was it of earlier origin, but in some it cannot be traced so high.

 

     An hereditary benefice was strictly a fief, at least if we presume it to

have implied military service; hereditary governments were not: something

more, therefore, was required to assimilate these, which were far larger and

more important than donations of land.  And, perhaps, it was only by degrees

that the great chiefs, especially in the south, who, in the decay of the

Caroline race, established their patrimonial rule over extensive regions,

condescended to swear fealty, and put on the condition of vassals dependent on

the crown.  Such, at least, is the opinion of some modern French writers, who

seem to deny all subjection during the evening of the second and dawn of the

third race.  But if they did not repair to Paris or Laon in order to swear

fealty, they kept the name of the reigning king in their charters.

 

     The hereditary benefices of the ninth century, or, in other words, fiefs,

preserved the nominal tie, and kept France from utter dissolution. They

deserve also the greater praise of having been the means of regenerating the

national character, and giving its warlike bearing to the French people; not,

indeed, as yet collectively, but in its separate centres of force, after the

pusillanimous reign of Charles the Bald.  They produced much evil and misery;

but it is reasonable to believe that they prevented more.  France was too

extensive a kingdom to be governed by a central administration, unless

Charlemagne had possessed the gift of propagating a race of Alfreds and

Edwards, instead of Louis the Stammerers and Charles the Balds.  Her temporary

disintegration by the feudal system was a necessary consequence; without that

system there would have been a final dissolution of the monarchy, and perhaps

its conquest by barbarians.

 

Note XII

 

     M.  Thierry, whose writings display so much antipathy to the old

nobility of his country that they ought not to be fully trusted on such a

subject, observes that the Franks were more haughty towards their subjects

than any other barbarians, as is shown in the difference of weregild.  From

them this spirit passed to the French nobles of the middle ages, though

they were not all of Frank descent.  "L'exces d'orgueil attache a longtemps

au nom de gentilhomme est ne en France; son foyer, comme celui de

l'organization feodale, fut la Gaule du Centre et du Nord, et peut-etre

aussi l'Italie Lombarde.  C'est de la qu'il s'est propage dans les pays

Germaniques, ou la noblesse anterieurement se distinguait peu de la simple

condition d'homme libre.  Ce mouvement crea, partout ou il s'etendit, deux

populations, et comme deux nations, proprement distinctes." (Recits des

Temps Merovingiens, i. 250.)

 

     The feudal principle was essentially aristocratic, and tended to enhance

every unsocial and unchristian sentiment involved in the exclusive respect for

birth.  It had, of course, its countervailing virtues, which writers of M.

Thierry's school do not enough remember.  But a rural aristocracy in the

meridian of feudal usages was insulated in the midst of the other classes of

society far more than could ever happen in cities, or in any period of an

advanced civilization.  "Never," says Guizot, "had the primary social molecule

been so separated from other similar molecules; never had the distance been so

great between the simple and essential elements of society." The chatelain,

amidst his machicolated battlements and massive gates with their iron

portcullis, received the vavassor, though as an inferior, at his board; but to

the roturier no feudal board was open; the owner of a "terre censive," the

opulent burgess of a neighboring town, was as little admitted to the banquet

of the lord as he was allowed to unite himself in marriage to his family.

 

     Nec Deus hunc mensa, Dea nec dignata cubili est.

 

     Pilgrims, indeed, and travelling merchants may, if we trust romance, have

been always excepted.  Although, therefore, some of Guizot's phrases seem

overcharged, since there was, in fact, more necessary intercourse between the

different classes than they intimate, yet that of voluntary nature, and what

we peculiarly call social, was very limited.  Nor is this surprising when we

recollect that it has been so till comparatively a recent period.

 

     Guizot has copied a picturesque description of a feudal castle in the

fourteenth century from Monteil's "Histoire des Francais des divers Etats aux

cinq derniers Siecles." It is one of the happiest passages in that writer,

hardly more distinguished by his vast reading than by his skill in combining

and applying it, though sometimes bordering on tediousness by the profuse

expenditure of his commonplace-books on the reader.

 

     "Representez vous d'abord une position superbe, une montagne escarpee,

herisse de rochers, sillone de ravins et de precipices; sur le penchant est le

chateau.  Les petites maisons qui l'entourent enfont ressortir la grandeur;

l'Indre semble s'ecarter avec respect; elle fait un large demi-cercle a ses

pieds.

 

     "Il faut voir ce chateau lorsqu'au soleil levant ses galeries exterieures

reluisent des armures de ceux qui font le guet, et que ses tours se montrent

toutes brillantes de leurs grandes grilles neuves.  Il faut voir tous ces

hauts batiments qui remplissent de courage ceux qui les defendent, et de

frayeur ceux qui seraient tentes de les attaquer.

 

     "La porte se presente toute couverte de tetes de sangliers ou de loups,

flanquee de tourelles et couronnee d'un haut corps de garde. Entrezvous?

trois encientes, trois fosses, trois pont-levis a passer; vous vous trouverez

dans la grande cour carree ou sont les citernes, et a droite ou a gauche les

ecuries, les poulaillers, les colombiers, les remises.  Les caves, les

souterrains, les prisons sont par dessous; par dessus sont les logements, les

magasins, les lardoirs ou saloirs, les arsenaux.  Tous les combles sont bordes

des machicoulis, des parapets, des chemins le ronde, des guerites.  Au milieu

de la tour est le donjon, qui renferme les archives et le tresor.  Il est

profondement fossoye dans tout son pourtour, et on n'y entre que par un pont

presque toujours leve; bien que les murailles aient, comme celles du chateau,

plus de six pieds d'epaisseur, il est revetu jusqu'a la moitie de sa hauteur,

d'une chemise, ou second mur, en grosses pierres de taille.

 

     "Ce chateau vient d'etre refait a neuf.  Il y a quelque chose de leger,

de frais, que n'avaient pas les chateaux lourds et massifs des siecles

passes." (Civilis. en France, Lecon 35.)

 

     And this was true; for the castles of the tenth and eleventh centuries

wanted all that the progress of luxury and the cessation, or nearly such, of

private warfare had introduced before the age to which this description

refers; they were strongholds, and nothing more; dark, small, comfortless,

where one thought alone could tend to dispel their gloom, that life and honor,

and what was most valuable in goods, were more secure in them than in the

campaign around.

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