The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 5

Part 1 out of 8














With a staff of specialists



An Outline Narrative of the Great Events

Feudalism: Its Frankish Birth and English Development
(9th to 12th Century)

Decay of the Frankish Empire
Division into Modern France, Germany, and Italy
(A.D. 843-911)

Career of Alfred the Great (A.D. 871-901)

Henry the Fowler Founds the Saxon Line of German Kings
Origin of the German Burghers or Middle Classes (A.D. 911-936)

Conquest of Egypt by the Fatimites (A.D. 969)

Growth and Decadence of Chivalry (10th to 15th Century)

Conversion of Vladimir the Great
Introduction of Christianity into Russia (A.D. 988-1015)

Leif Ericson Discovers America (A.D. 1000)

Mahometans In India
Bloody Invasions under Mahmud (A.D. 1000)

Canute Becomes King of England (A.D. 1017)

Henry III Deposes the Popes (A.D. 1048)
The German Empire Controls the Papacy

Dissension and Separation of the Greek and Roman
Churches (A.D. 1054)

Norman Conquest of England
Battle of Hastings (A.D. 1066)

Triumphs of Hildebrand
"The Turning-point of the Middle Ages"
Henry IV Begs for Mercy at Canossa (A.D. 1073-1085)

Completion of the Domesday Book (A.D. 1086)

Decline of the Moorish Power in Spain
Growth and Decay of the Almoravide and Almohade
Dynasties (A.D. 1086-1214)

The First Crusade (A.D. 1096-1099)

Foundation of the Order of Knights Templars (A.D. 1118)

Stephen Usurps the English Crown
His Conflicts with Matilda
Decisive Influence of the Church (A.D. 1135-1154)

Antipapal Democratic Movement
Arnold of Brescia
St. Bernard and the Second Crusade (A.D. 1145-1155)

Decline of the Byzantine Empire
Ravages of Roger of Sicily (A.D. 1146)

Universal Chronology (A.D. 843-1161)






The three centuries which follow the downfall of the empire of
Charlemagne laid the foundations of modern Europe, and made of it a
world wholly different, politically, socially, and religiously, from
that which had preceded it. In the careers of Greece and Rome we saw
exemplified the results of two sharply opposing tendencies of the Aryan
mind, the one toward individualism and separation, the other toward
self-subordination and union.

In the time of Charlemagne's splendid successes it appeared settled that
the second of these tendencies was to guide the Teutonic Aryans, that
the Europe of the future was to be a single empire, ever pushing out its
borders as Rome had done, ever subduing its weaker neighbors, until the
"Teutonic peace" should be substituted for the shattered "Roman peace,"
soldiers should be needed only for the duties of police, and a whole
civilized world again obey the rule of a single man.

Instead of this, the race has since followed a destiny of separation.
Europe is divided into many countries, each of them a vast camp
bristling with armies and arsenals. Civilization has continued
hag-ridden by war even to our own day, and, during at least seven
hundred of the years that followed Charlemagne, mankind made no greater
progress in the arts and sciences than the ancients had sometimes
achieved in a single century. We do indeed believe that at last we have
entered on an age of rapid advance, that individualism has justified
itself. The wider personal liberty of to-day is worth all that the race
has suffered for it. Yet the retardation of wellnigh a thousand years
has surely been a giant price to pay.


This mighty change in the course of Teutonic destiny, this breakdown of
the Frankish empire, was wrought by two destroying forces, one from
within, one from without. From within came the insubordination, the
still savage love of combat, the natural turbulence of the race. It is
conceivable that, had Charlemagne been followed on the throne by a son
and then a grandson as mighty as he and his immediate ancestors, the
course of the whole broad earth would have been altered. The Franks
would have grown accustomed to obey; further conquest abroad would have
insured peace at home; the imperial power would have become strong as in
Roman days, when the most feeble emperors could not be shaken. But the
descendants of Charlemagne sank into a decline. He himself had directed
the fighting energy of the Franks against foreign enemies. His son and
successor had no taste for war, and so allowed his idle subjects time to
quarrel with him and with one another. The next generation, under the
grandsons of Charlemagne, devoted their entire lives to repeated and
furious civil wars, in which the empire fell apart, the flower of the
Frankish race perished, and the strength of its dominion was sapped to

[Footnote 1: See _Decay of Frankish Empire_, page 22.]

There were three of these grandsons, and, when their struggle had left
them thoroughly exhausted, they divided the empire into three. Their
treaty of Verdun (843) is often quoted as beginning the modern kingdoms
of Germany, France, and Italy. The division was in some sense a natural
one, emphasized by differences of language and of race. Italy was
peopled by descendants of the ancient Italians, with a thin
intermingling of Goths and Lombards; France held half-Romanized Gauls,
with a very considerable percentage of the Frankish blood; while Germany
was far more barbaric than the other regions. Its people, whether Frank
or Saxon, were all pure Teuton, and still spoke in their Teutonic or
German tongue.

The Franks themselves, however, did not regard this as a breaking of
their empire. They looked on it as merely a family affair, an
arrangement made for the convenience of government among the descendants
of the great Charles. So firm had been that mighty hero's grasp upon the
national imagination, that the Franks accepted as matter of course that
his family should bear rule, and rallied round the various worthless
members of it with rather pathetic loyalty, fighting for them one
against the other, reuniting and redividing the various fragments of the
empire, until the feeble Carlovingian race died out completely.

It is thus evident that there was a strong tendency toward union among
the Franks. But there was also an outside influence to disrupt their
empire. Charlemagne had not carried far enough their career of conquest.
He subdued the Teutons within the limits of Germany, but he did not
reach their weaker Scandinavian brethren to the north, the Danes and
Norsemen. He chastised the Avars, a vague non-Aryan people east of
Germany, but he could not make provision against future Asiatic swarms.
He humbled the Arabs in Spain, but he did not break their African
dominion. From all these sources, as the Franks grew weaker instead of
stronger, their lands became exposed to new invasion.


Let us take a moment to trace the fortunes of these outside races,
though the main destiny of the future still lay with Teutonic Europe.

In speaking of the followers of Mahomet, we might perhaps at this period
better drop the term Arabs, and call them Saracens. They were thus known
to the Christians; and their conquests had drawn in their train so many
other peoples that in truth there was little pure Arab blood left among
them. The Saracens, then, had begun to lose somewhat of their intense
fanaticism. Feuds broke out among them. Different chiefs established
different kingdoms or "caliphates," whose dominion became political
rather than religious. Spain had one ruler, Egypt[2] another, Asia a
third. In the eleventh century an army of Saracens invaded India[3] and
added that strange and ancient land to their domain. Europe they had
failed to conquer; but their fleets commanded the Mediterranean. They
held all its islands, Sicily, Crete, Sardinia, and Corsica. They
plundered the coast towns of France and Italy. There was a Saracenic
ravaging of Rome.

[Footnote 2: See _Conquest of Egypt by the Fatimites_, page 94.]

[Footnote 3: See _Mahometans in India_, page 151.]

On the whole, however, the wave of Mahometan conquest receded. In Spain
the remnants of the Christian population, Visigoths, Romans, and still
older peoples, pressed their way down from their old-time, secret
mountain retreats and began driving the Saracens southward.[4] The
decaying Roman Empire of the East still resisted the Mahometan attack;
Constantinople remained a splendid city, type and picture of what the
ancient world had been.

[Footnote 4: See _Decline of the Moorish Power in Spain_, page 296.]

While the Saracens were thus laying waste the Frankish empire along its
Mediterranean coasts, a more dangerous enemy was assailing it from the
east. Toward the end of the ninth century the Magyars, an Asiatic,
Turanian people, burst on Europe, as the Huns had done five centuries
before. Indeed, the Christians called these later comers Huns also, and
told of them the same extravagant tales of terror. The land which the
Magyars settled was called Hungary. They dwell there and possess it even
to this day, the only instance of a Turanian people having permanently
established themselves in an Aryan continent and at the expense of Aryan

From Hungary the Magyars soon advanced to the German border line, and
made fierce plundering inroads upon the more civilized regions beyond.
They came on horseback, so that the slower Teutons could never gather
quickly enough to resist them. The marauding parties, as they learned
the wealth and weakness of this new land, grew bigger, until at length
they were armies, and defeated the German Franks in pitched battles, and
spread desolation through all the country. They returned now every year.
Their ravages extended even to the Rhine and to the ancient Gallic land
beyond. The Frankish empire seemed doomed to reenact, in a smaller, far
more savage way, the fate of Rome.

Yet more widespread in destruction, more important in result than the
raids of either Saracens or Magyars, were those of the Scandinavians or
Northmen. These, the latest, and perhaps therefore the finest, flower of
the Teutonic stock, are closer to us and hence better known than the
early Goths or Franks. Shut off in their cold northern peninsulas and
islands, they had grown more slowly, it may be, than their southern
brethren. Now they burst suddenly on the world with spectacular dramatic
effect, wild, fierce, and splendid conquerors, as keen of intellect and
quick of wit as they were strong of arm and daring of adventure.

We see them first as sea-robbers, pirates, venturing even in
Charlemagne's time to plunder the German and French coasts. One tribe of
them, the Danes, had already been harrying England and Ireland. Only
Alfred,[5] by heroic exertions, saved a fragment of his kingdom from
them. Later, under Canute,[6] they become its kings. The Northmen
penetrate Russia and appear as rulers of the strange Slavic tribes
there; they settle in Iceland, Greenland, and even distant and unknown

[Footnote 5: See _Career of Alfred the Great_.]

[Footnote 6: See _Canute Becomes King of England_.]

[Footnote 7: _Leif Ericson Discovers America_.]

Meanwhile, after Charlemagne's death they become a main factor in the
downfall of his empire. Year after year their little ships plunder the
undefended French coast, until it is abandoned to them and becomes a
desert. They build winter camps at the river mouths, so that in the
spring they need lose less time and can hurry inland after their
retreating prey. Sudden in attack, strong in defence, they venture
hundreds of miles up the winding waterways. Paris is twice attacked by
them and must fight for life. They penetrate so far up the Loire as to
burn Orleans.

It was under stress of all these assaults that the Franks, grown too
feeble to defend themselves as Charlemagne would have done, by marching
out and pursuing the invaders to their own homes, developed instead a
system of defence which made the Middle Ages what they were. All central
authority seemed lost; each little community was left to defend itself
as best it might. So the local chieftain built himself a rude fortress,
which in time became a towered castle; and thither the people fled in
time of danger. Each man looked up to and swore faith to this, his own
chief, his immediate protector, and took little thought of a distant and
feeble king or emperor. Occasionally, of course, a stronger lord or king
bestirred himself, and demanded homage of these various petty
chieftains. They gave him such service as they wished or as they must.
This was the "feudal system."[8]

[Footnote 8: See _Feudalism: Its Frankish Birth and English

The inclination of each lesser lord was obviously to assert as much
independence as he could. He naturally objected to paying money or
service without benefit received; and he could see no good that this
"overlord" did for him or for his district. It seemed likely at this
time that instead of being divided into three kingdoms, the Frankish
empire would split into thousands of little castled states.

That is, it seemed so, after the various marauding nations were disposed
of. The Northmen were pacified by presenting them outright with the
coast lands they had most harried. Their great leader, Rolf, accepted
the territory with some vague and ill-kept promise of vassalage to the
French King, and with a very firmly held determination that he would let
no pirates ravage his land or cross it to reach others. So the French
coast became Normandy, and the Northmen learned the tongue and manners
of their new home, and softened their harsh name to "Norman," even as
they softened their harsh ways, and rapidly became the most able and
most cultured of Frenchmen.

As for the Saracens, being unprogressive and no longer enthusiastic,
they grew ever feebler, while the Italian cities, being Aryan and left
to themselves, grew strong. At length their fleets met those of the
Saracens on equal terms, and defeated them, and gradually wrested from
them the control of the Mediterranean. Invaders were thus everywhere met
as they came, locally. There was no general gathering of the Frankish
forces against them.

The repulse of the Huns proved the hardest matter of all. Fortunately
for the Germans, their line of Carlovingian emperors died out. So the
various dukes and counts, practically each an independent sovereign, met
and elected a king from among themselves, not really to rule them, but
to enable them to unite against the Huns. After their first elected king
had been soundly beaten by one of his dukes, he died, and in their next
choice they had the luck to light upon a leader really great. Henry the
Fowler, more honorably known as Henry the City-builder,[9] taught them
how to defeat their foe.

[Footnote 9: See _Henry the Fowler Founds the Saxon Line of German

Much to the disgust of his simple and war-hardened comrades, he first
sent to the Hungarians and purchased peace and paid them tribute. Having
thus secured a temporary respite, Henry encouraged and aided his people
in building walled cities all along the frontier. He also planned to
meet the invaders on equal terms by training his warriors to fight on
horseback. He instituted tournaments and created an order of knighthood,
and is thus generally regarded as the founder of chivalry, that fairest
fruit of mediaeval times, which did so much to preserve honor and
tenderness and respect for womankind.[10]

[Footnote 10: See _Growth and Decadence of Chivalry_.]

When he felt all prepared, Henry deliberately defied and insulted the
Hungarians, and so provoked from them a combined national invasion,
which he met and completely overthrew in the battle of Merseburg (933).
A generation later the Huns felt themselves strong enough to try again;
but Henry's son, Otto the Great, repeated the chastisement. He then
formed a boundary colony or "East-mark" from which sprang Austria; and
this border kingdom was always able to keep the weakened Huns in check.

At the same time there was growing up in Russia a Slavic civilization,
which received Christianity[11] from the South as it had received
Teutonic dominion from the North, and so developed along very similar
lines to Western Europe. The Russian states served as a barrier against
later Asiatic hordes; and this, combined with the civilizing of the last
remnants of the Scandinavians in the North, and the fading of Saracenic
power in the South, left the tottering civilization of the West free
from further barbarian invasion. We shall find destruction threatened
again in later ages by Tartar and by Turk; but the intruders never reach
beyond the frontier. The Teutons and the half-Romanized ancients with
whom they had assimilated were left to work out their own problems. All
the ingredients, even to the last, the Northmen, had been poured into
the caldron. There remains to see what the intermingling has brought

[Footnote 11: See _Conversion of Vladimir the Great_.]


We have here, then, somewhere about the middle of the tenth century, a
date which may be regarded as marking a distinctly new era. The
ceaseless work of social organization and improvement, which seems so
strong an instinct of the Aryan mind, had been recommenced again and
again from under repeated deluges of barbarism. To-day for nearly a
thousand years it has progressed uninterrupted, except by disturbances
from within; nor does it appear possible, with our present knowledge of
science and of the remoter corners of the globe, that our civilization
will ever again be even menaced by the other races.

Chronologists frequently adopt as a convenient starting-point for this
modern development the year 962, in which Otto the Great, conqueror of
the Huns, felt himself strong enough to march a German army to Rome and
assume there the title of emperor, which had been long in abeyance. To
be sure, there was still an Emperor of the East in Constantinople, but
nobody thought of him; and, to be sure, the power of Otto and the later
emperors was purely German, with scarce a pretence of extending beyond
their own country and sometimes Italy. Yet here was at least one
restored influence that made toward unity and, by its own devious and
erratic ways, toward peace.

It must not be supposed, of course, that there was no more war. But, as
it became a private affair between relatives, or at least acquaintances,
its ravages were greatly reduced. It was accepted as the "pastime of
gentlemen," "the sport of kings;" and though we may quote the phrases
to-day with kindling sarcasm, yet they open a very different vision from
that of the older inroads by unknown hordes, frenzied with the passion
and the purpose of the brute. The usefulness of the common people was
recognized, and they were allowed to continue to live and cultivate the
ground; while all the great dukes and even the lesser nobles, having
secured as many castles as possible, intrenched themselves in their
strongholds and defied all comers.

They asserted their right of "private war" and attacked each other upon
every conceivable provocation, whether it were the disputed succession
to some vast estate or the ravage spread by a reckless cow in a foreign
field. Indeed, it is not always easy to distinguish these private wars
from mere robberies or plundering expeditions; and it is not probable
that the wild barons exercised any very delicate discrimination. Even
Otto the Great had little real influence or authority over such lords as
these. His immediate successors found themselves with even less.

In short, it was the golden age of feudalism, of the individual feudal
lords. In Italy there was no central authority whatever, nor among the
little Christian states gradually arising in Spain. In France and
England the title of king was but a name. France was really composed of
a dozen or more independent counties and dukedoms. For a while its lords
elected a king as the Germans did; and gradually the title became
hereditary in the Capet family, the counts of Paris, who had fought most
valiantly against the Northmen. But the entire power of these so-called
kings lay in their own estates, in the fact that they were counts of
Paris, and by marriage or by force were slowly adding new possessions to
their old. Any other noble might have been equally fortunate in his
investments, and wrested from them their purely honorary title. In fact,
there was more than once a king of Aquitaine.

Yet, in 1066, William the Conqueror was able to form for a moment a
strong and centralized monarchy in England.[12] With him we reach the
period of the second Northmen, or now Norman, outbreak. The marauders
had grown polished, but not peaceful, in their French home. They had
become more numerous and more restless, until we find them again taking
to their ships and seeking newer lands to master. Only they go now as a
civilizing as well as a devastating influence.

[Footnote 12: See _Norman Conquest of England_.]

Most famed of their undertakings, of course, was William's Conquest of
England. But we find them also sailing along the Spanish coast, entering
the Mediterranean, seizing the Balearic Isles, making out of Sicily and
most of Southern Italy a kingdom which lasted until 1860, and finally
ravaging the Eastern Empire, and entering Constantinople itself.[13]
Last and mightiest of the wandering races, they accomplished what all
their predecessors had failed to do.

[Footnote 13: See _Decline of the Byzantine Empire_, page 353.]

In England, William, with the shrewdness of his race, recognized the
tendencies of the age, and erected a state so planned that there could
be no question as to who was master. He gave fiefs liberally to his
followers; but he took care that the gifts should be in small and
scattered parcels. No one man controlled any region sufficiently
extensive to give him the faintest chance of defying the King. William
had the famous _Domesday Book_[14] compiled, that he might know just
what every freeman in his dominions owned and for what he could be held
accountable. The England of the later days of the Conqueror seemed far
advanced upon our modern ways.

[Footnote 14: See _Completion of the Domesday Book_, page 242.]

But what can one man, however able and advanced, do against the current
of his age? History shows us constantly that the great reformers have
been those who felt and followed the general feeling of their times, who
became mouthpieces for the great mass of thought and effort behind them,
not those who struggled against the tide. William's successors failed to
comprehend what he had done, or why. By the time of Stephen (1135)[15]
we find the barons of England wellnigh as powerful as those of other
lands. A civil war arises in which Stephen and his rival Matilda are
scarce more than pawns upon the board. The lords shift sides at will,
retreat to safety in their strong castles, plunder the common folk, and
make private war quite as they please.

[Footnote 15: See _Stephen Usurps the English Crown_, page 317.]

If any sage before the reign of the Emperor Barbarossa, that is, before
the middle of the twelfth century, had studied to predict the course of
society, he would probably have said that the empire was wholly
destroyed, and that the principle of separation was becoming ever more
insistent, that even kings were mere fading relics of the past, and that
the future world would soon see every lordship an independent state.


Amid all this turmoil of the upper classes, one would like much to know
what was the condition, what the lives, of the common people.
Unfortunately, the data are very slight. We see dimly the peasant
staring from his field as the armed knights ride by; we see him fleeing
to the shelter of the forests before more savage bandits. We see the
people of the cities drawing together, building walls around their
towns, and defying in their turn their so-called "overlords." We see
Henry the City-builder thus become champion of the lower classes,
despite the strenuous warning of his conservative and not wholly
disinterested barons. We see shadowy troops of armed merchants drift
along the unsafe roads. And, most interesting perhaps of all, we see one
Arnold of Brescia,[16] an Italian monk, advocating a democracy, actually
urging a return to what he supposed early Rome to have been, a
government by the masses. Arnold, too, you see, was in advance of his
time. He was executed by the advice of even so good and wise a man as
St. Bernard. But the principle of modern life was there, the germ seems
to have been planted. These humble people of the cities, "citizens,"
grow to be rulers of the world.

[Footnote 16: See _Antipapal Democratic Movement_ page 340.]

There was a revival, too, of learning in this quieter age. Schools and
universities become clearly visible. Abelard teaches at the great
University of Paris, lectures to "forty thousand students," if one
chooses to believe in such carrying power of his voice, or such
radiating power of his influence at second hand through those who heard.

The arts spring up, great cathedrals are begun, the wonder and despair
of even twentieth-century resources. Royal ladies work on tapestries,
queer things in their way, but certainly not barbaric. Musical notation
is improved. Manuscripts are gorgeously illumined. Paintings and
mosaics, though of the crudest, reappear on long-barren walls.
Civilization begins to advance with increasing stride.


Of all the influences that through these wandering and desolate ages had
sustained humanity and helped it onward, the mightiest has been left to
speak of last. It was Christianity, a Christianity which had by now
taken definite form as the Roman Catholic Church. Strongest of all the
institutions bequeathed by the ancient empire to her conquerors was this
Church. Indeed, it has been said that Rome had influenced Christianity
quite as much as Christianity did Rome. The legal-minded Romans insisted
on the laying out of exact doctrines and creeds, on the building of a
definite organization, a priesthood, a hierarchy. They lent the weight
of law to what had been but individual belief and impulse. Thus the
Church grew hard and strong.

In the same manner that the early emperors had ordered the persecution
of Christianity, so the later ones ordered the persecution of
heathendom, nor had the Church grown civilized or Christian enough to
oppose this method of conversion. Luckily for all parties, however, the
heathen were scarce sufficiently enthusiastic to insist on martyrdom,
and so the persecuting spirit which man ultimately imparted to even the
purest of religions remained latent.

With the downfall of Rome there came another interval in which the
Church was weak, and was trampled on by barbarians, and was heroic. Then
the bishops of Rome joined forces with Pepin and Charlemagne.
Christianity became physically powerful again. The Saxons were converted
by the sword. So, also, in Henry the Fowler's time, were the Slavic
Wends. These Roman bishops, or "popes," were accepted unquestioned
throughout Western Europe as the leaders of a militant Christianity, a
position never after denied them until the sixteenth century. In the
East, however, the bishops of Constantinople insisted on an equal, if
not higher, authority, and so the two churches broke apart.[17]

[Footnote 17: See _Dissension and Separation of the Greek and Roman

In the West, Christianity undoubtedly did great good. Its teachings,
though applied by often fallible instruments and in blundering ways, yet
never completely lost sight of their own higher meanings of mercy and
peace. From the Abbey of Cluny originated that quaint mediaeval idea of
the "truce of God," by which nobles were very widely persuaded to
restrict their private wars to the middle of the week, and reserve at
least Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as days of brotherly love and
religious devotion. The Church also, from very early days, founded
monasteries, wherein learning and the knowledge of the past were kept
alive, where pity continued to exist, where the oppressed found refuge.
It is from these monasteries that all the arts and scholarship of the
eleventh century begin dimly to emerge.

Moreover, the fact that the Teutons were all of a common religion
undoubtedly held them much closer together, made them more merciful
among themselves, more nearly a unit against the outside world. Perhaps
in this respect more important even than the religion was the Church;
that is, the hierarchy, the vast army of monks and priests, abbots and
bishops, spread over all kingdoms, yet looking always toward Rome. Here
at least was one common centre for Western civilization, one mighty
influence that all men acknowledged, that all to some faint extent


The power thus concentrating in the Roman papacy made the office one to
attract eager ambition. It has a political history of its own. At first
the Christian populace that continued to dwell in Rome despite the
repeated spoliations, elected, from among themselves, their own pope or
bishop, regarding him not only as their spiritual guide, but as their
earthly leader and protector also. Naturally, in their distress, they
chose the very ablest man they could, their wisest and their noblest. It
was no pleasant task being pope in those dark days; and sometimes the
bravest shrank from the position.

But centuries of war and self-defence developed a Roman populace more
fierce and savage and degenerate, while the growing importance of their
pope beyond the city's walls brought wealth and splendor to his office.
The result was that some very unsaintly popes were elected amid unseemly
squabbles. The conditions surrounding the high office became so bad that
they were felt as a disgrace throughout all Christendom; and in 1046 the
German emperor Henry III took upon himself to depose three fiercely
contending Romans, each claiming to be pope. He appointed in their stead
a candidate of his own, not a dweller in the city at all, but a German.
Henry, therefore, must have considered the duties of the pope as bishop
of the Romans to be far less important than his duties as head of the
Church outside of Rome.[18]

[Footnote 18: See _Henry III Deposes the Popes_.]

So necessary had this interference by the Emperor become that it was
everywhere approved. Yet as he continued to appoint pope after pope,
churchmen realized that in the hands of an evil emperor this method of
securing their head might prove quite as dangerous and unsatisfactory as
the former one. So the Church took the matter in hand and declared that
a conclave of its own highest officials should thereafter choose the man
who was to lead them.

Under this surely more suitable arrangement, the papal office rose at
once in dignity. It was held for a time by true leaders, earnest
prelates of the highest worth and ability. We have said that the rank of
the bishop of Rome as head of the Church had never been seriously
questioned among the Teutons; but now the popes asserted a political
authority as well. They regarded themselves, theoretically, as supreme
heads of the entire Christian world. They claimed and even partly
exercised the right to create and depose kings and emperors. To such a
supremacy as this, however, the Teutons were still too rude and warlike
to submit. Much is made of the fact that the Emperor Henry IV was
compelled to come as a suppliant to Pope Gregory at Canossa, 1077.[19]
But this submission was only forced on him by quarrels with his barons,
who welcomed the Pope as a chance ally. It proved the power of feudalism
rather than that of religion. Still we may trace here the beginnings of
a later day when spirit was really to dominate bodily force, when ideas
should prove stronger than swords.

[Footnote 19: See _Triumphs of Hildebrand_.]


Under these aroused and able popes, the Western world was stirred to the
first widespread religious enthusiasm since the ancient days of
persecution. Jerusalem, long in the hands of a tolerant sect of Saracens
who welcomed the coming of Christian worshippers as a source of revenue,
was captured in 1075 by another more fanatic Mahometan sect, and word
came back to Europe that pilgrimage was stopped.

The crusades followed. A great mass of warriors from every nation of the
West, men who certainly had never intended to go on pilgrimage
themselves, were roused to what seems a somewhat perverse anger of
religious devotion. Under the lead of Godfrey of Bouillon they marched
eastward, saw the wonders of Constantinople, marvellous indeed to their
ruder eyes, defeated the sultans of Asia Minor and of Antioch, and ended
by storming Jerusalem, and erecting there a Christian kingdom where
Mahometanism had ruled for nearly five hundred years.[20]

[Footnote 20: See _The First Crusade_, page 276.]

Of course, a great flow of pilgrims followed them. Religious orders of
knighthood were formed[21] to help defend the shrine of Christ and to
extend Christian conquest farther through the surrounding regions.
Travel began again. Europe, after having forgotten Asia for seven
centuries, was introduced once more to its languor, its splendor, and
its vices. The Aryan peoples had at last filled full their little world
of Western Europe. They had reached among themselves a state of law and
union, confused and weak, perhaps, yet secure enough to enable them once
more to overflow their boundaries and become again the aggressive,
intrusive race we have seen them in earlier days.

[Footnote 21: See _Foundation of the Order of Knights Templars_, page




(That social system--however varying in different times and places--in
which ownership of land is the basis of authority is known in history as
feudalism. From the time of Clovis, the Frankish King, who died in A.D.
511, the progress of the Franks in civilization was slow, and for more
than two centuries they spent their energies mainly in useless wars. But
Charles Martel and his son, Pepin the Short--the latter dying in
768--built up a kingdom which Charlemagne erected into a powerful
empire. Under the predecessors of Charlemagne the beginnings of
feudalism, which are very obscure, may be said vaguely to appear.
Charles Martel had to buy the services of his nobles by granting them
lands, and although he and Pepin strengthened the royal power, which
Charlemagne still further increased, under the weak rulers who followed
them the forces of the incipient feudalism again became active, and the
State was divided into petty countships and dukedoms almost independent
of the king.

The gift of land by the king in return for feudal services was called a
feudal grant, and the land so given was termed a "feud" or "fief." In
the course of time fiefs became hereditary. Lands were also sometimes
usurped or otherwise obtained by subjects, who thereby became feudal
lords. By a process called "subinfeudation," lands were granted in
parcels to other men by those who received them from the king or
otherwise, and by these lower landholders to others again; and as the
first recipient became the vassal of the king and the suzerain of the
man who held next below him, there was created a regular descending
scale of such vassalage and suzerainty, in which each man's allegiance
was directly due to his feudal lord, and not to the king himself. From
the king down to the lowest landholder all were bound together by
obligation of service and defence; the lord to protect his vassal, the
vassal to do service to his lord.

These are the essential features of the social system which, from its
early growth under the later Carlovingians in the ninth century, spread
over Europe and reached its highest development in the twelfth century.
At a time midway between these periods it was carried by the Norman
Conquest into England. The history of this system of distinctly Frankish
origin--a knowledge of which is absolutely essential to a proper
understanding of history and the evolution of our present social
system--is told by Stubbs with that discernment and thoroughness of
analysis which have given him his rank as one of the few masterly
writers in this field.)

Feudalism had grown up from two great sources--the _beneficium_, and the
practice of commendation--and had been specially fostered on Gallic soil
by the existence of a subject population which admitted of any amount of
extension in the methods of dependence.

The beneficiary system originated partly in gifts of land made by the
kings out of their own estates to their kinsmen and servants, with a
special undertaking to be faithful; partly in the surrender by
land-owners of their estates to churches or powerful men, to be received
back again and held by them as tenants for rent or service. By the
latter arrangement the weaker man obtained the protection of the
stronger, and he who felt himself insecure placed his title under the
defence of the church.

By the practice of commendation, on the other hand, the inferior put
himself under the personal care of a lord, but without altering his
title or divesting himself of his right to his estate; he became a
vassal and did homage. The placing of his hands between those of his
lord was the typical act by which the connection was formed; and the
oath of fealty was taken at the same time. The union of the beneficiary
tie with that of commendation completed the idea of feudal obligation--
the twofold engagement: that of the lord, to defend; and that of the
vassal, to be faithful. A third ingredient was supplied by the grants of
immunity by which in the Frank empire, as in England, the possession of
land was united with the right of judicature; the dwellers on a feudal
property were placed under the tribunal of the lord, and the rights
which had belonged to the nation or to its chosen head were devolved
upon the receiver of a fief. The rapid spread of the system thus
originated, and the assimilation of all other tenures to it, may be
regarded as the work of the tenth century; but as early as A.D. 877
Charles the Bald recognized the hereditary character of all benefices;
and from that year the growth of strictly feudal jurisprudence may be
held to date.

The system testifies to the country and causes of its birth. The
beneficium is partly of Roman, partly of German origin; in the Roman
system the usufruct--the occupation of land belonging to another
person--involved no diminution of status; in the Germanic system he who
tilled land that was not his own was imperfectly free; the reduction of
a large Roman population to dependence placed the two classes on a
level, and conduced to the wide extension of the institution.

Commendation, on the other hand, may have had a Gallic or Celtic origin,
and an analogy only with the Roman clientship. The German _comitatus_,
which seems to have ultimately merged its existence in one or other of
these developments, is of course to be carefully distinguished in its
origin from them. The tie of the benefice or of commendation could be
formed between any two persons whatever; none but the king could have
_antrustions_. But the comitatus of Anglo-Saxon history preserved a more
distinct existence, and this perhaps was one of the causes that
distinguished the later Anglo-Saxon system most definitely from the
feudalism of the Frank empire.

The process by which the machinery of government became feudalized,
although rapid, was gradual.

The weakness of the Carlovingian kings and emperors gave room for the
speedy development of disruptive tendencies in a territory so extensive
and so little consolidated. The duchies and counties of the eighth and
ninth centuries were still official magistracies, the holders of which
discharged the functions of imperial judges or generals. Such officers
were of course men whom the kings could trust, in most cases Franks,
courtiers or kinsmen, who at an earlier date would have been _comites_
or antrustions, and who were provided for by feudal benefices. The
official magistracy had in itself the tendency to become hereditary, and
when the benefice was recognized as heritable, the provincial
governorship became so too. But the provincial governor had many
opportunities of improving his position, especially if he could identify
himself with the manners and aspirations of the people he ruled. By
marriage or inheritance he might accumulate in his family not only the
old allodial estates which, especially on German soil, still continued
to subsist, but the traditions and local loyalties which were connected
with the possession of them. So in a few years the Frank magistrate
could unite in his own person the beneficiary endowment, the imperial
deputation, and the headship of the nation over which he presided. And
then it was only necessary for the central power to be a little
weakened, and the independence of duke or count was limited by his
homage and fealty alone, that is, by obligations that depended on
conscience only for their fulfilment.

It is in Germany that the disruptive tendency most distinctly takes the
political form; Saxony and Bavaria assert their national independence
under Swabian and Saxon dukes who have identified the interests of their
subjects with their own. In France, where the ancient tribal divisions
had been long obsolete, and where the existence of the allod involved
little or no feeling of loyalty, the process was simpler still; the
provincial rulers aimed at practical rather than political sovereignty;
the people were too weak to have any aspirations at all. The disruption
was due more to the abeyance of central attraction than to any
centrifugal force existing in the provinces. But the result was the
same; feudal government, a graduated system of jurisdiction based on
land tenure, in which every lord judged, taxed, and commanded the class
next below him, of which abject slavery formed the lowest, and
irresponsible tyranny the highest grade, and private war, private
coinage, private prisons, took the place of the imperial institutions of

This was the social system which William the Conqueror and his barons
had been accustomed to see at work in France. One part of it--the feudal
tenure of land--was perhaps the only kind of tenure which they could
understand; the king was the original lord, and every title issued
mediately or immediately from him. The other part, the governmental
system of feudalism, was the point on which sooner or later the duke and
his barons were sure to differ. Already the incompatibility of the
system with the existence of the strong central power had been
exemplified in Normandy, where the strength of the dukes had been tasked
to maintain their hold on the castles and to enforce their own high
justice. Much more difficult would England be to retain in Norman hands
if the new king allowed himself to be fettered by the French system.

On the other hand the Norman barons would fain rise a step in the social
scale answering to that by which their duke had become a king; and they
aspired to the same independence which they had seen enjoyed by the
counts of Southern and Eastern France. Nor was the aspiration on their
part altogether unreasonable; they had joined in the Conquest rather as
sharers in the great adventure than as mere vassals of the duke, whose
birth they despised as much as they feared his strength. William,
however, was wise and wary as well as strong. While, by the insensible
process of custom, or rather by the mere assumption that feudal tenure
of land was the only lawful and reasonable one, the Frankish system of
tenure was substituted for the Anglo-Saxon, the organization of
government on the same basis was not equally a matter of course.

The Conqueror himself was too strong to suffer that organization to
become formidable in his reign, but neither the brutal force of William
Rufus nor the heavy and equal pressure of the government of Henry I
could extinguish the tendency toward it. It was only after it had, under
Stephen, broken out into anarchy and plunged the whole nation in misery;
when the great houses founded by the barons of the Conquest had suffered
forfeiture or extinction; when the Normans had become Englishmen under
the legal and constitutional reforms of Henry II--that the royal
authority, in close alliance with the nation, was enabled to put an end
to the evil.

William the Conqueror claimed the crown of England as the chosen heir of
Edward the Confessor. It was a claim which the English did not admit,
and of which the Normans saw the fallacy, but which he himself
consistently maintained and did his best to justify. In that claim he
saw not only the justification of the Conquest in the eyes of the
church, but his great safeguard against the jealous and aggressive host
by whose aid he had realized it; therefore, immediately after the battle
of Hastings he proceeded to seek the national recognition of its
validity. He obtained it from the divided and dismayed _witan_ with no
great trouble, and was crowned by the archbishop of York--the most
influential and patriotic among them--binding himself by the
constitutional promises of justice and good laws. Standing before the
altar at Westminster, "in the presence of the clergy and people he
promised with an oath that he would defend God's holy churches and their
rulers; that he would, moreover, rule the whole people subject to him
with righteousness and royal providence; would enact and hold fast right
law and utterly forbid rapine and unrighteous judgments." The form of
election and acceptance was regularly observed and the legal position of
the new King completed before he went forth to finish the Conquest.

Had it not been for this the Norman host might have fairly claimed a
division of the land such as the Danes had made in the ninth century.
But to the people who had recognized William it was but just that the
chance should be given them of retaining what was their own.
Accordingly, when the lands of all those who had fought for Harold were
confiscated, those who were willing to acknowledge William were allowed
to redeem theirs, either paying money at once or giving hostages for the
payment. That under this redemption lay the idea of a new title to the
lands redeemed may be regarded as questionable. The feudal lawyer might
take one view, and the plundered proprietor another. But if charters of
confirmation or regrant were generally issued on the occasion to those
who were willing to redeem, there can be no doubt that, as soon as the
feudal law gained general acceptance, these would be regarded as
conveying a feudal title. What to the English might be a mere payment of
_fyrdwite_, or composition for a recognized offence, might to the
Normans seem equivalent to forfeiture and restoration.

But however this was, the process of confiscation and redistribution of
lands under the new title began from the moment of the coronation. The
next few years, occupied in the reduction of Western and Northern
England, added largely to the stock of divisible estates. The tyranny of
Odo of Bayeux and William Fitzosbern, which provoked attempts at
rebellion in 1067; the stand made by the house of Godwin in Devonshire
in 1068; the attempts of Mercia and Northumbria to shake off the Normans
in 1069 and 1070; the last struggle for independence in 1071, in which
Edwin and Morcar finally fell; the conspiracy of the Norman earls in
1074, in consequence of which Waltheof perished--all tended to the same

After each effort the royal hand was laid on more heavily; more and more
land changed owners, and with the change of owners the title changed.
The complicated and unintelligible irregularities of the Anglo-Saxon
tenures were exchanged for the simple and uniform feudal theory. The
fifteen hundred tenants-in-chief of _Domesday Book_ take the place of
the countless land-owners of King Edward's time, and the loose,
unsystematic arrangements which had grown up in the confusion of title,
tenure, and jurisdiction were replaced by systematic custom. The change
was effected without any legislative act, simply by the process of
transfer under circumstances in which simplicity and uniformity were an
absolute necessity. It was not the change from allodial to feudal so
much as from confusion to order. The actual amount of dispossession was
no doubt greatest in the higher ranks; the smaller owners may to a large
extent have remained in a mediatized position on their estates; but even
_Domesday_, with all its fulness and accuracy, cannot be supposed to
enumerate all the changes of the twenty eventful years that followed the
battle of Hastings. It is enough for our purpose to ascertain that a
universal assimilation of title followed the general changes of
ownership. The king of _Domesday_ is the supreme landlord; all the land
of the nation, the old folkland, has become the king's; and all private
land is held mediately or immediately of him; all holders are bound to
their lords by homage and fealty, either actually demanded or understood
to be demandable, in every case of transfer by inheritance or otherwise.

The result of this process is partly legal and partly constitutional or
political. The legal result is the introduction of an elaborate system
of customs, tenures, rights, duties, profits, and jurisdictions. The
constitutional result is the creation of several intermediate links
between the body of the nation and the king, in the place of or side by
side with the duty of allegiance.

On the former of these points we have very insufficient data; for we are
quite in the dark as to the development of feudal law in Normandy before
the invasion, and may be reasonably inclined to refer some at least of
the peculiarities of English feudal law to the leaven of the system
which it superseded. Nor is it easy to reduce the organization described
in _Domesday_ to strict conformity with feudal law as it appears later,
especially with the general prevalence of military tenure.

The growth of knighthood is a subject on which the greatest obscurity
prevails, and the most probable explanation of its existence in
England--the theory that it is a translation into Norman forms of the
_thegnage_ of the Anglo-Saxon law--can only be stated as probable.

Between the picture drawn in _Domesday_ and the state of affairs which
the charter of Henry I was designed to remedy, there is a difference
which the short interval of time will not account for, and which
testifies to the action of some skilful organizing hand working with
neither justice nor mercy, hardening and sharpening all lines and points
to the perfecting of a strong government.

It is unnecessary to recapitulate here all the points in which the
Anglo-Saxon institutions were already approaching the feudal model; it
may be assumed that the actual obligation of military service was much
the same in both systems, and that even the amount of land which was
bound to furnish a mounted warrior was the same however the conformity
may have been produced. The _heriot_ of the English earl or _thegn_ was
in close resemblance with the _relief_ of the Norman count or knight.
But however close the resemblance, something was now added that made the
two identical. The change of the heriot to the relief implies a
suspension of ownership, and carries with it the custom of "livery of
seisin." The heriot was the payment of a debt from the dead man to his
lord; his son succeeded him by allodial right. The relief was paid by
the heir before he could obtain his father's lands; between the death of
the father and livery of seisin to the son the right of the "overlord"
had entered; the ownership was to a certain extent resumed, and the
succession of the heir took somewhat of the character of a new grant.
The right of wardship also became in the same way a reentry, by the
lord, on the profits of the estate of the minor, instead of being, as
before, a protection, by the head of the kin, of the indefeasible rights
of the heir, which it was the duty of the whole community to maintain.

There can be no doubt that the military tenure--the most prominent
feature of historical feudalism--was itself introduced by the same
gradual process which we have assumed in the case of the feudal usages
in general. We have no light on the point from any original grant made
by the Conqueror to a lay follower, but judging by the grants made to
the churches we cannot suppose it probable that such gifts were made on
any expressed condition, or accepted with a distinct pledge to provide a
certain contingent of knights for the king's service. The obligation of
national defence was incumbent, as of old, on all land-owners, and the
customary service of one fully armed man for each five hides of land was
probably the rate at which the newly endowed follower of the king would
be expected to discharge his duty. The wording of the _Domesday_ survey
does not imply that in this respect the new military service differed
from the old; the land is marked out, not into knights' fees, but into
hides, and the number of knights to be furnished by a particular
feudatory would be ascertained by inquiring the number of hides that he
held, without apportioning the particular acres that were to support the
particular knight.

It would undoubtedly be on the estates of the lay vassals that a more
definite usage would first be adopted, and knights bound by feudal
obligations to their lords receive a definite estate from them. Our
earliest information, however, on this as on most points of tenure, is
derived from the notices of ecclesiastical practice. Lanfranc, we are
told, turned the _drengs_, the rent-paying tenants of his archiepiscopal
estates, into knights for the defence of the country; he enfeoffed a
certain number of knights who performed the military service due from
the archiepiscopal barony. This had been done before the _Domesday_
survey, and almost necessarily implies that a like measure had been
taken by the lay vassals. Lanfranc likewise maintained ten knights to
answer for the military service due from the convent of Christ Church,
which made over to him, in consideration of the relief, land worth two
hundred pounds annually. The value of the knight's fee must already have
been fixed at twenty pounds a year.

In the reign of William Rufus the abbot of Ramsey obtained a charter
which exempted his monastery from the service of ten knights due from it
on festivals, substituting the obligation to furnish three knights to
perform service on the north of the Thames--a proof that the lands of
that house had not yet been divided into knights' fees. In the next
reign, we may infer--from the favor granted by the King to the knights
who defended their lands _per loricas_ (that is, by the hauberk) that
their demesne lands shall be exempt from pecuniary taxation--that the
process of definite military infeudation had largely advanced. But it
was not even yet forced on the clerical or monastic estates. When, in
1167, the abbot of Milton, in Dorset, was questioned as to the number of
knights' fees for which he had to account, he replied that all the
services due from his monastery were discharged out of the demesne; but
he added that in the reign of Henry I, during a vacancy in the abbacy,
Bishop Roger, of Salisbury, had enfeoffed two knights out of the abbey
lands. He had, however, subsequently reversed the act and had restored
the lands, whose tenure had been thus altered, to their original
condition of rent-paying estate or "socage."

The very term "the new feoffment," which was applied to the knights'
fees created between the death of Henry I and the year in which the
account preserved in the _Black Book_ of the exchequer was taken, proves
that the process was going on for nearly a hundred years, and that the
form in which the knights' fees appear when called on by Henry II for
"scutage" was most probably the result of a series of compositions by
which the great vassals relieved their lands from a general burden by
carving out particular estates, the holders of which performed the
services due from the whole; it was a matter of convenience and not of
tyrannical pressure. The statement of Ordericus Vitalis that the
Conqueror "distributed lands to his knights in such fashion that the
kingdom of England should have forever sixty thousand knights, and
furnish them at the king's command according to the occasion," must be
regarded as one of the many numerical exaggerations of the early
historians. The officers of the exchequer in the twelfth century were
quite unable to fix the number of existing knights' fees.

It cannot even be granted that a definite area of land was necessary to
constitute a knight's fee; for although at a later period and in local
computations we may find four or five hides adopted as a basis of
calculation, where the extent of the particular knight's fee is given
exactly, it affords no ground for such a conclusion. In the _Liber
Niger_ we find knights' fees of two hides and a half, of two hides, of
four, five, and six hides. Geoffrey Ridel states that his father held
one hundred and eighty-four _carucates_ and a _virgate_, for which the
service of fifteen knights was due, but that no knights' fees had been
carved out of it, the obligation lying equally on every carucate. The
archbishop of York had far more knights than his tenure required. It is
impossible to avoid the conclusion that the extent of a knight's fee was
determined by rent or valuation rather than acreage, and that the common
quantity was really expressed in the twenty _librates_, the twenty
pounds' worth of annual value which until the reign of Edward I was the
qualification for knighthood.

It is most probable that no regular account of the knights' fees was
ever taken until they became liable to taxation, either in the form of
_auxilium militum_ under Henry I, or in that of scutage under his
grandson. The facts, however, which are here adduced, preclude the
possibility of referring this portion of the feudal innovations to the
direct legislation of the Conqueror. It may be regarded as a secondary
question whether the knighthood here referred to was completed by the
investiture with knightly arms and the honorable accolade. The
ceremonial of knighthood was practised by the Normans, whereas the
evidence that the English had retained the primitive practice of
investing the youthful warrior is insufficient; yet it would be rash to
infer that so early as this, if indeed it ever was the case, every
possessor of a knight's fee received formal initiation before he assumed
his spurs. But every such analogy would make the process of transition
easier and prevent the necessity of any general legislative act of

It has been maintained that a formal and definitive act, forming the
initial point of the feudalization of England, is to be found in a
clause of the laws, as they are called, of the Conqueror; which directs
that every freeman shall affirm, by covenant and oath, that "he will be
faithful to King William within England and without, will join him in
preserving his lands and honor with all fidelity, and defend him against
his enemies." But this injunction is little more than the demand of the
oath of allegiance which had been taken to the Anglo-Saxon kings and is
here required not of every feudal dependent of the King, but of every
freeman or freeholder whatsoever.

In that famous council of Salisbury of 1086, which was summoned
immediately after the making of the _Domesday_ survey, we learn from the
_Chronicle_ that there came to the King "all his witan, and all the
landholders of substance in England whose vassals soever they were, and
they all submitted to him, and became his men and swore oaths of
allegiance that they would be faithful to him against all others." In
this act have been seen the formal acceptance and date of the
introduction of feudalism, but it has a very different meaning. The oath
described is the oath of allegiance, combined with the act of homage,
and obtained from all land-owners, whoever their feudal lord might be.
It is a measure of precaution taken against the disintegrating power of
feudalism, providing a direct tie between the sovereign and all
freeholders which no inferior relation existing between them and the
mesne lords would justify them in breaking. The real importance of the
passage as bearing on the date of the introduction of feudal tenure is
merely that it shows the system to have already become consolidated; all
the land-owners of the kingdom had already become, somehow or other,
vassals, either of the king or of some tenant under him. The lesson may
be learned from the fact of the _Domesday_ survey.

The introduction of such a system would necessarily have effects far
wider than the mere modification of the law of tenure; it might be
regarded as a means of consolidating and concentrating the whole
machinery of government; legislation, taxation, judicature, and military
defence were all capable of being organized on the feudal principle, and
might have been so had the moral and political results been in harmony
with the legal. But its tendency when applied to governmental machinery
is disruptive. The great feature of the Conqueror's policy is his defeat
of that tendency. Guarding against it he obtained recognition as the
King of the nation and, so far as he could understand them and the
attitude of the nation allowed, he maintained the usages of the nation.
He kept up the popular institutions of the hundred court and the shire
court. He confirmed the laws which had been in use in King Edward's
days, with the additions which he himself made for the benefit, as he
especially tells us, of the English.

We are told, on what seems to be the highest legal authority of the next
century, that he issued in his fourth year a commission of inquiry into
the national customs, and obtained from sworn representatives of each
county a declaration of the laws under which they wished to live. The
compilation that bears his name is very little more than a reissue of
the code of Canute; and this proceeding helped greatly to reconcile the
English people to his rule. Although the oppressions of his later years
were far heavier than the measures taken to secure the immediate success
of the Conquest, all the troubles of the kingdom after 1075, in his
sons' reigns as well as in his own, proceeded from the insubordination
of the Normans, not from the attempts of the English to dethrone the
king. Very early they learned that, if their interest was not the
king's, at least their enemies were his enemies; hence they are
invariably found on the royal side against the feudatories.

This accounts for the maintenance of the national force of defence, over
and above the feudal army. The _fyrd_ of the English, the general
armament of the men of the counties and hundreds, was not abolished at
the Conquest, but subsisted even through the reigns of William Rufus and
Henry I, to be reformed and reconstituted under Henry II; and in each
reign it gave proof of its strength and faithfulness. The _witenagemot_
itself retained the ancient form, the bishops and abbots formed a chief
part of it, instead of being, as in Normandy, so insignificant an
element that their very participation in deliberation has been doubted.
The king sat crowned three times in the year in the old royal towns of
Westminster, Winchester, and Gloucester, hearing the complaints of his
people, and executing such justice as his knowledge of their law and
language and his own imperious will allowed. In all this there is no
violent innovation, only such gradual essential changes as twenty
eventful years of new actors and new principles must bring, however
insensibly the people themselves--passing away and being replaced by
their children--may be educated to endurance.

It would be wrong to impute to the Conqueror any intention of deceiving
the nation by maintaining its official forms while introducing new
principles and a new race of administrators. What he saw required change
he changed with a high hand. But not the less surely did the change of
administrators involve a change of custom, both in the church and in the
state. The bishops, ealdormen, and sheriffs of English birth were
replaced by Normans; not unreasonably, perhaps, considering the
necessity of preserving the balance of the state. With the change of
officials came a sort of amalgamation or duplication of titles; the
ealdorman or earl became the _comes_ or count; the sheriff became the
_vicecomes_; the office in each case receiving the name of that which
corresponded most closely with it in Normandy itself. With the
amalgamation of titles came an importation of new principles and
possibly new functions; for the Norman count and viscount had not
exactly the same customs as the earls and sheriffs. And this ran up into
the highest grades of organization; the King's court of counsellors was
composed of his feudal tenants; the ownership of land was now the
qualification for the witenagemot, instead of wisdom; the earldoms
became fiefs instead of magistracies, and even the bishops had to accept
the status of barons. There was a very certain danger that the mere
change of persons might bring in the whole machinery of hereditary
magistracies, and that king and people might be edged out of the
administration of justice, taxation, and other functions of supreme or
local independence.

Against this it was most important to guard; as the Conqueror learned
from the events of the first year of his reign, when the severe rule of
Odo and William Fitzosbern had provoked Herefordshire. Ralph Guader,
Roger Montgomery, and Hugh of Avranches filled the places of Edwin and
Morcar and the brothers of Harold. But the conspiracy of the earls in
1074 opened William's eyes to the danger of this proceeding, and from
that time onward he governed the provinces through sheriffs immediately
dependent on himself, avoiding the foreign plan of appointing hereditary
counts, as well as the English custom of ruling by viceregal ealdormen.
He was, however, very sparing in giving earldoms at all, and inclined to
confine the title to those who were already counts in Normandy or in

To this plan there were some marked exceptions, which may be accounted
for either on the ground that the arrangements had been completed before
the need of watchfulness was impressed on the King by the treachery of
the Normans, or on that of the exigencies of national defence. In these
cases he created, or suffered the continuance of, great palatine
jurisdictions; earldoms in which the earls were endowed with the
superiority of whole counties, so that all the land-owners held feudally
of them, in which they received the whole profits of the courts and
exercised all the "regalia" or royal rights, nominated the sheriffs,
held their own councils, and acted as independent princes except in the
owing of homage and fealty to the King. Two of these palatinates, the
earldom of Chester and the bishopric of Durham, retained much of their
character to our own days. A third, the palatinate of Bishop Odo in
Kent, if it were really a jurisdiction of the same sort, came to an end
when Odo forfeited the confidence of his brother and nephew. A fourth,
the earldom of Shropshire, which is not commonly counted among the
palatine jurisdictions, but which possessed under the Montgomery earls
all the characteristics of such a dignity, was confiscated after the
treason of Robert of Belesme by Henry I. These had been all founded
before the conspiracy of 1074; they were also, like the later lordships
of the marches, a part of the national defence; Chester and Shropshire
kept the Welsh marches in order, Kent was the frontier exposed to
attacks from Picardy, and Durham, the patrimony of St. Cuthbert, lay as
a sacred boundary between England and Scotland; Northumberland and
Cumberland were still a debatable ground between the two kingdoms.
Chester was held by its earls as freely by the sword as the King held
England by the crown; no lay vassal in the county held of the King, all
of the earl. In Shropshire there were only five lay tenants _in capite_
besides Roger Montgomery; in Kent, Bishop Odo held an enormous
proportion of the manors, but the nature of his jurisdiction is not very
clear, and its duration is too short to make it of much importance. If
William founded any earldoms at all after 1074 (which may be doubted),
he did it on a very different scale.

The hereditary sheriffdoms he did not guard against with equal care. The
Norman viscounties were hereditary, and there was some risk that the
English ones would become so too; and with the worst consequences, for
the English counties were much larger than the bailiwicks of the Norman
viscount, and the authority of the sheriff, when he was relieved from
the company of the ealdorman, and was soon to lose that of the bishop,
would have no check except the direct control of the King. If William
perceived this, it was too late to prevent it entirely; some of the
sheriffdoms became hereditary, and continued to be so long after the
abuse had become constitutionally dangerous.

The independence of the greater feudatories was still further limited by
the principle, which the Conqueror seems to have observed, of avoiding
the accumulation in any one hand of a great number of contiguous
estates. The rule is not without some important exceptions, and it may
have been suggested by the diversity of occasions on which the fiefs
were bestowed, but the result is one which William must have foreseen.
An insubordinate baron whose strength lay in twelve different counties
would have to rouse the suspicions and perhaps to defy the arms of
twelve powerful sheriffs, before he could draw his forces to a head. In
his manorial courts, scattered and unconnected, he could set up no
central tribunal, nor even force a new custom upon his tenants, nor
could he attempt oppression on any extensive scale. By such limitation
the people were protected and the central power secured.

Yet the changes of ownership, even thus guarded, wrought other changes.
It is not to be supposed that the Norman baron, when he had received his
fief, proceeded to carve it out into demesne and tenants' land as if he
were making a new settlement in an uninhabited country. He might indeed
build his castle and enclose his chase with very little respect to the
rights of his weaker neighbors, but he did not attempt any such radical
change as the legal theory of the creation of manors seems to presume.
The name "manor" is of Norman origin: but the estate to which it was
given existed, in its essential character, long before the Conquest; it
received a new name as the shire also did, but neither the one nor the
other was created by this change. The local jurisdictions of the thegns
who had grants of _sac_ and _soc_, or who exercised judicial functions
among their free neighbors, were identical with the manorial
jurisdictions of the new owners.

It may be conjectured with great probability that in many cases the
weaker freemen, who had either willingly or under constraint attended
the courts of their great neighbors, were now, under the general
infusion of feudal principle, regarded as holding their lands of them as
lords; it is not less probable that in a great number of grants the
right to suit and service from small land-owners passed from the king to
the receiver of the fief as a matter of course; but it is certain that
even before the Conquest such a proceeding was not uncommon; Edward the
Confessor had transferred to St. Augustine's monastery a number of
allodiaries in Kent, and every such measure in the case of a church must
have had its parallel in similar grants to laymen. The manorial system
brought in a number of new names; and perhaps a duplication of offices.
The _gerefa_ of the old thegn, or of the ancient township, was replaced,
as president of the courts, by a Norman steward or seneschal; and the
_bydel_ of the old system by the bailiff of the new; but the gerefa and
bydel still continued to exist in a subordinate capacity as the _grave_
or reeve and the _bedell_; and when the lord's steward takes his place
in the county court, the reeve and four men of the township are there
also. The common of the township may be treated as the lord's waste, but
the townsmen do not lose their customary share.

The changes that take place in the state have their resulting analogies
in every village, but no new England is created; new forms displace but
do not destroy the old, and old rights remain, although changed in title
and forced into symmetry with a new legal and pseudo-historical theory.
The changes may not seem at first sight very oppressive, but they opened
the way for oppression; the forms they had introduced tended, under the
spirit of Norman legality and feudal selfishness, to become hard
realities, and in the profound miseries of Stephen's reign the people
learned how completely the new theory left them at the mercy of their
lords; nor were all the reforms of his successor more stringent or the
struggles of the century that followed a whit more impassioned than were
necessary to protect the English yeoman from the men who lived upon his

In attempting thus to estimate the real amount of change introduced by
the feudalism of the Conquest, many points of further interest have been
touched upon, to which it is necessary to recur only so far as to give
them their proper place in a more general view of the reformed
organization. The Norman king is still the king of the nation. He has
become the supreme landlord; all estates are held of him mediately or
immediately, but he still demands the allegiance of all his subjects.
The oath which he exacted at Salisbury in 1086, and which is embodied in
the semi-legal form already quoted, was a modification of the oath taken
to Edmund, and was intended to set the general obligation of obedience
to the king in its proper relation to the new tie of homage and fealty
by which the tenant was bound to his lord.

All men continued to be primarily the king's men, and the public peace
to be his peace. Their lords might demand their service to fulfil their
own obligations, but the king could call them to the _fyrd_, summon them
to his courts, and tax them without the intervention of their lords; and
to the king they could look for protection against all foes. Accordingly
the king could rely on the help of the bulk of the free people in all
struggles with his feudatories, and the people, finding that their
connection with their lords would be no excuse for unfaithfulness to the
king, had a further inducement to adhere to the more permanent

In the department of law the direct changes introduced by the Conquest
were not great. Much that is regarded as peculiarly Norman was developed
upon English soil, and although originated and systematized by Norman
lawyers, contained elements which would have worked in a very different
way in Normandy. Even the vestiges of Carlovingian practice which appear
in the inquests of the Norman reigns are modified by English usage. The
great inquest of all, the _Domesday_ survey, may owe its principle to a
foreign source; the oath of the reporters may be Norman, but the
machinery that furnishes the jurors is native; "the king's barons
inquire by the oath of the sheriff of the shire, and of all the barons
and their Frenchmen, and of the whole hundred, the priest, the reeve,
and six _ceorls_ of every township."

The institution of the collective Frank pledge, which recent writers
incline to treat as a Norman innovation, is so distinctly colored by
English custom that it has been generally regarded as purely indigenous.
If it were indeed a precaution taken by the new rulers against the
avoidance of justice by the absconding or harboring of criminals, it
fell with ease into the usages and even the legal terms which had been
common for other similar purposes since the reign of Athelstan. The
trial by battle, which on clearer evidence seems to have been brought in
by the Normans, is a relic of old Teutonic jurisprudence, the absence of
which from the Anglo-Saxon courts is far more curious than its
introduction from abroad.

The organization of jurisdiction required and underwent no great change
in these respects. The Norman lord who undertook the office of sheriff
had, as we have seen, more unrestricted power than the sheriffs of old.
He was the king's representative in all matters judicial, military, and
financial in his shire, and had many opportunities of tyrannizing in
each of those departments: but he introduced no new machinery. From him,
or from the courts of which he was the presiding officer, appeal lay to
the king alone; but the king was often absent from England and did not
understand the language of his subjects. In his absence the
administration was intrusted to a _judiciar_, a regent, or lieutenant,
of the kingdom; and the convenience being once ascertained of having a
minister who could in the whole kingdom represent the king, as the
sheriff did in the shire, the judiciar became a permanent functionary.
This, however, cannot be certainly affirmed of the reign of the
Conqueror, who, when present at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, held
great courts of justice as well as for other purposes of state; and the
legal importance of the office belongs to a later stage. The royal
court, containing the tenants-in-chief of the crown, both lay and
clerical, and entering into all the functions of the witenagemot, was
the supreme council of the nation, with the advice and consent of which
the King legislated, taxed, and judged.

In the one authentic monument of William's jurisprudence, the act which
removed the bishops from the secular courts and recognized their
spiritual jurisdictions, he tells us that he acts "with the common
council and counsel of the archbishops, bishops, abbots, and all the
princes of the kingdom." The ancient summary of his laws contained in
the _Textus Roffensis_ is entitled "_What William, King of the English,
with his Princes enacted after the Conquest of England_"; and the same
form is preserved in the tradition of his confirming the ancient laws
reported to him by the representatives of the shires. The _Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle_ enumerates the classes of men who attended his great courts:
"There were with him all the great men over all England, archbishops and
bishops, abbots and earls, thegns and knights."

The great suit between Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury and Odo as
Earl of Kent, which is perhaps the best reported trial of the reign, was
tried in the county court of Kent before the King's representative,
Gosfrid, bishop of Coutances; whose presence and that of most of the
great men of the kingdom seem to have made it a witenagemot. The
archbishop pleaded the cause of his Church in a session of three days on
Pennenden Heath; the aged South-Saxon bishop, Ethelric, was brought by
the King's command to declare the ancient customs of the laws; and with
him several other Englishmen skilled in ancient laws and customs. All
these good and wise men supported the archbishop's claim, and the
decision was agreed on and determined by the whole county. The sentence
was laid before the King, and confirmed by him. Here we have probably a
good instance of the principle universally adopted; all the lower
machinery of the court was retained entire, but the presence of the
Norman justiciar and barons gave it an additional authority, a more
direct connection with the king, and the appearance at least of a joint

The principle of amalgamating the two laws and nationalities by
superimposing the better consolidated Norman superstructure on the
better consolidated English substructure, runs through the whole policy.

The English system was strong in the cohesion of its lower organism, the
association of individuals in the township, in the hundred, and in the
shire; the Norman system was strong in its higher ranges, in the close
relation to the Crown of the tenants-in-chief whom the King had
enriched. On the other hand, the English system was weak in the higher
organization, and the Normans in England had hardly any subordinate
organization at all. The strongest elements of both were brought



A.D. 843-911


(The period with which the following article deals may be said to mark
the end of distinctively Frankish history. A striking mixture of races
entered into the formation of this people, and the beginnings of the
great modern nations into which the Frankish empire was divided brought
to them varied elements of strength and a diversity of constituents that
were to be commingled in new national characters and careers.

In 840 Charles the Bald became King of France, and his reign, both as
king and afterward as emperor, continued for thirty-seven years, during
which he proved himself to be lacking in those qualities which his
responsibilities and the wants of his people demanded. He had great
obstacles to contend against; for besides the ambitions of various
districts for separate nationality, which led to insurrections in many
quarters, Greek pirates ravaged the South, where the Saracens also
wrought havoc, while in the North and West the Northmen burned and
pillaged, laying waste a wide region and leaving many towns in ruins.

It was an age of turbulence in Europe, and the violence of predatory
invaders brought woes upon many peoples. On the east of Charles' empire
the Hungarians, successors of the Huns, began to threaten. In the midst
of all these distractions and dangers, assailed by enemies without and
within, Charles found it a task far beyond his abilities to construct a
state upon foundations of unity. He bore many titles and held several
crowns, but his actual dominion was narrowly restricted, and his nominal
subjects were in a state of political subdivision almost amounting to
dismemberment. After various futile efforts during his later years to
unify his empire, Charles died from an illness which seized him in 877,
on his return to France from a fruitless campaign of subjugation and
pillage in Italy. In the subsequent division of the empire, according to
the terms of the treaty of Verdun, the several portions included Italy,
the nucleus of France, and that of the present Germany.

Already suffering from the devastating expeditions of the Norse or
Northmen, the Carlovingian empire, now weakened by division, became an
easier prey for the invaders. Emboldened by success, the Northmen at
length commenced to settle in the regions they invaded, no longer
returning, as formerly, to their northern homes in winter. Among
chieftains of the early Norman invaders who settled in France was
Hastings, who became Count of Chartres; later came Rou, Rolf, or Rollo
the Rover, to whom Charles the Simple of France gave Normandy, whence
sprang the conquerors and rulers of England, who laid the foundation of
the English-speaking nations of today.)

The first of Charlemagne's grand designs, the territorial security of
the Gallo-Frankish and Christian dominion, was accomplished. In the East
and the North, the Germanic and Asiatic populations, which had so long
upset it, were partly arrested at its frontiers, partly incorporated
regularly in its midst. In the South, the Mussulman populations which,
in the eighth century, had appeared so near overwhelming it, were
powerless to deal it any heavy blow. Substantially France was founded.
But what had become of Charlemagne's second grand design, the
resuscitation of the Roman Empire at the hands of the barbarians that
had conquered it and become Christians?

Let us leave Louis the Debonair his traditional name, although it is not
an exact rendering of that which was given him by his contemporaries.
They called him Louis the Pious. And so, indeed, he was, sincerely and
even scrupulously pious; but he was still more weak than pious, as weak
in heart and character as in mind; as destitute of ruling ideas as of
strength of will, fluctuating at the mercy of transitory impressions or
surrounding influences or positional embarrassments. The name of
_Debonnaire_ is suited to him; it expresses his moral worth and his
political incapacity both at once.

As king of Aquitaine in the time of Charlemagne, Louis made himself
esteemed and loved; his justice, his suavity, his probity, and his piety
were pleasing to the people, and his weaknesses disappeared under the
strong hand of his father. When he became emperor, he began his reign by
a reaction against the excesses, real or supposed, of the preceding
reign. Charlemagne's morals were far from regular, and he troubled
himself but little about the license prevailing in his family or his
palace. At a distance, he ruled with a tight and heavy hand. Louis
established at his court, for his sisters as well as his servants,
austere regulations. He restored to the subjugated Saxons certain of the
rights of which Charlemagne had deprived them. He sent out everywhere
his commissioners with orders to listen to complaints and redress
grievances, and to mitigate his father's rule, which was rigorous in its
application and yet insufficient to repress disturbance, notwithstanding
its preventive purpose and its watchful supervision.

Almost simultaneously with his accession, Louis committed an act more
serious and compromising. He had, by his wife Hermengarde, three sons,
Lothair, Pepin, and Louis, aged respectively nineteen, eleven, and
eight. In 817, Louis summoned at Aix-la-Chapelle the general assembly of
his dominions; and there, while declaring that "neither to those who
were wisely minded nor to himself did it appear expedient to break up,
for the love he bare his sons and by the will of man, the unity of the
empire, preserved by God himself," he had resolved to share with his
eldest son, Lothair, the imperial throne. Lothair was in fact crowned
emperor; and his two brothers, Pepin and Louis, were crowned king, "in
order that they might reign, after their father's death and under their
brother and lord, Lothair, to wit: Pepin, over Aquitaine and a great
part of Southern Gaul and of Burgundy; Louis, beyond the Rhine, over
Bavaria and the divers peoples in the east of Germany." The rest of Gaul
and of Germany, as well as the kingdom of Italy, was to belong to
Lothair, Emperor and head of the Frankish monarchy, to whom his brothers
would have to repair year by year to come to an understanding with him
and receive his instructions. The last-named kingdom, the most
considerable of the three, remained under the direct government of Louis
the Debonair, and at the same time of his son Lothair, sharing the title
of emperor. The two other sons, Pepin and Louis, entered,
notwithstanding their childhood, upon immediate possession, the one of
Aquitaine and the other of Bavaria, under the superior authority of
their father and their brother, the joint emperors.

Charlemagne had vigorously maintained the unity of the empire, for all
that he had delegated to two of his sons, Pepin and Louis, the
government of Italy and Aquitaine with the title of king. Louis the
Debonair, while regulating beforehand the division of his dominion,
likewise desired, as he said, to maintain the unity of the empire. But
he forgot that he was no Charlemagne.

It was not long before numerous mournful experiences showed to what
extent the unity of the empire required personal superiority in the
emperor, and how rapid would be the decay of the fabric when there
remained nothing but the title of the founder.

In 816 Pope Stephen IV came to France to consecrate Louis the Debonair
emperor. Many a time already the popes had rendered the Frankish kings
this service and honor. The Franks had been proud to see their King,
Charlemagne, protecting Adrian I against the Lombards; then crowned
emperor at Rome by Leo III, and then having his two sons, Pepin and
Louis, crowned at Rome, by the same Pope, kings respectively of Italy
and of Aquitaine. On these different occasions Charlemagne, while
testifying the most profound respect for the Pope, had, in his relations
with him, always taken care to preserve, together with his political
greatness, all his personal dignity. But when, in 816, the Franks saw
Louis the Pious not only go out of Rheims to meet Stephen IV, but
prostrate himself, from head to foot, and rise only when the Pope held
out a hand to him, the spectators felt saddened and humiliated at the
sight of their Emperor in the posture of a penitent monk.

Several insurrections burst out in the empire; the first among the
Basques of Aquitaine; the next in Italy, where Bernard, son of Pepin,
having, after his father's death, become king in 812, with the consent
of his grandfather Charlemagne, could not quietly see his kingdom pass
into the hands of his cousin Lothair at the orders of his uncle Louis.
These two attempts were easily repressed, but the third was more
serious. It took place in Brittany among those populations of Armorica
who were still buried in their woods, and were excessively jealous of
their independence. In 818 they took for king one of their principal
chieftains, named Morvan; and, not confining themselves to a refusal of
all tribute to the King of the Franks, they renewed their ravages upon
the Frankish territories bordering on their frontier. Louis was at that
time holding a general assembly of his dominions at Aix-la-Chapelle; and
Count Lantbert, commandant of the marches of Brittany, came and reported
to him what was going on. A Frankish monk, named Ditcar, happened to be
at the assembly: he was a man of piety and sense, a friend of peace,
and, moreover, with some knowledge of the Breton king Morvan, as his
monastery had property in the neighborhood. Him the Emperor commissioned
to convey to the King his grievances and his demands. After some days'
journey the monk passed the frontier and arrived at a vast space
enclosed on one side by a noble river, and on all the others by forests
and swamps, hedges and ditches. In the middle of this space was a large
dwelling, which was Morvan's. Ditcar found it full of warriors, the King
having, no doubt, some expedition on hand. The monk announced himself as
a messenger from the Emperor of the Franks. The style of announcement
caused some confusion at first, to the Briton, who, however, hastened to
conceal his emotion under an air of good-will and joyousness, to impose
upon his comrades. The latter were got rid of; and the King remained
alone with the monk, who explained the object of his mission. He
descanted upon the power of the emperor Louis, recounted his complaints,
and warned the Briton, kindly and in a private capacity, of the danger
of his situation, a danger so much the greater in that he and his people
would meet with the less consideration, seeing that they kept up the
religion of their pagan forefathers. Morvan gave attentive ear to this
sermon, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and his foot tapping it from
time to time. Ditcar thought he had succeeded; but an incident
supervened. It was the hour when Morvan's wife was accustomed to come
and look for him ere they retired to the nuptial couch. She appeared,
eager to know who the stranger was, what he had come for, what he had
said, what answer he had received. She preluded her questions with
oglings and caresses; she kissed the knees, the hands, the beard, and
the face of the King, testifying her desire to be alone with him. "O
King and glory of the mighty Britons, dear spouse of mine! what tidings
bringeth this stranger? Is it peace, or is it war?"

"This stranger," answered Morvan, with a smile, "is an envoy of the
Franks; but bring he peace or bring he war is the affair of men alone;
as for thee, content thee with thy woman's duties." Thereupon Ditcar,
perceiving that he was countered, said to Morvan: "Sir King, 'tis time
that I return; tell me what answer I am to take back to my sovereign."

"Leave me this night to take thought thereon," replied the Breton chief,
with a wavering air. When the morning came, Ditcar presented himself
once more to Morvan, whom he found up, but still half drunk and full of
very different sentiments from those of the night before. It required
some effort, stupefied and tottering as he was with the effects of wine
and the pleasures of the night, to say to Ditcar: "Go back to thy King,
and tell him from me that my land was never his, and that I owe him
naught of tribute or submission. Let him reign over the Franks; as for
me, I reign over the Britons. If he will bring war on me, he will find
me ready to pay him back."

The monk returned to Louis the Debonair and rendered account of his
mission. War was resolved upon, and the Emperor collected his
troops--Alemannians, Saxons, Thuringians, Burgundians, and Aquitanians,
without counting Franks or Gallo-Romans. They began their march, moving
upon Vannes; Louis was at their head, and the Empress accompanied him,
but he left her, already ill and fatigued, at Angers. The Franks entered
the country of the Britons, searched the woods and morasses, found no
armed men in the open country, but encountered them in scattered and
scanty companies, at the entrance of all the defiles, on the heights
commanding pathways, and wherever men could hide themselves and await
the moment for appearing unexpectedly. The Franks heard them, from amid
the heather and the brushwood, uttering shrill cries, to give warning
one to another or to alarm the enemy. The Franks advanced cautiously,
and at last arrived at the entrance of the thick wood which surrounded
Morvan's abode. He had not yet set out with the pick of the warriors he
had about him; but, at the approach of the Franks, he summoned his wife
and his domestics, and said to them: "Defend ye well this house and
these woods; as for me, I am going to march forward to collect my
people; after which to return, but not without booty and spoils." He put
on his armor, took a javelin in each hand, and mounted his horse. "Thou
seest," said he to his wife, "these javelins I brandish: I will bring
them back to thee this very day dyed with the blood of Franks.
Farewell." Setting out he pierced, followed by his men, through the
thickness of the forest, and advanced to meet the Franks.

The battle began. The large numbers of the Franks who covered the ground
for some distance dismayed the Britons, and many of them fled, seeking
where they might hide themselves. Morvan, beside himself with rage and
at the head of his most devoted followers, rushed down upon the Franks
as if to demolish them at a single stroke; and many fell beneath his
blows. He singled out a warrior of inferior grade, toward whom he made
at a gallop, and, insulting him by word of mouth, after the ancient
fashion of the Celtic warriors, cried: "Frank, I am going to give thee
my first present, a present which I have been keeping for thee a long
while, and which I hope thou wilt bear in mind;" and launched at him a
javelin which the other received on his shield. "Proud Briton," replied
the Frank, "I have received thy present, and I am going to give thee
mine." He dug both spurs into his horse's sides and galloped down upon
Morvan, who, clad though he was in a coat of mail, fell pierced by the
thrust of a lance. The Frank had but time to dismount and cut off his
head when he fell himself, mortally wounded by one of Morvan's young
warriors, but not without having, in his turn, dealt the other his
deathblow. It spreads on all sides that Morvan is dead; and the Franks
come thronging to the scene of the encounter. There is picked up and
passed from hand to hand a head all bloody and fearfully disfigured.
Ditcar the monk is called to see it, and to say whether it is that of
Morvan; but he has to wash the mass of disfigurement, and to partially
adjust the hair, before he can pronounce that it is really Morvan's.
There is then no more doubt; resistance is now impossible; the widow,
the family and the servants of Morvan arrive, are brought before Louis
the Debonair, accept all the conditions imposed upon them, and the
Franks withdraw with the boast that Brittany is henceforth their

On arriving at Angers, Louis found the empress Hermengarde dying; and
two days afterward she was dead. He had a tender heart which was not
proof against sorrow; and he testified a desire to abdicate and turn
monk. But he was dissuaded from his purpose; for it was easy to
influence his resolutions. A little later, he was advised to marry
again, and he yielded. Several princesses were introduced; and he chose
Judith of Bavaria, daughter of Count Welf (Guelf), a family already
powerful and in later times celebrated. Judith was young, beautiful,
witty, ambitious, and skilled in the art of making the gift of pleasing
subserve the passion for ruling. Louis, during his expedition into
Brittany, had just witnessed the fatal result of a woman's empire over
her husband; he was destined himself to offer a more striking and more
long-lived example of it. In 823, he had, by his new empress Judith, a
son, whom he called Charles, and who was hereafter to be known as
Charles the Bald. This son became his mother's ruling, if not exclusive,
passion, and the source of his father's woes. His birth could not fail
to cause ill-temper and mistrust in Louis' three sons by Hermengarde,
who were already kings. They had but a short time previously received
the first proof of their father's weakness. In 822, Louis, repenting of
his severity toward his nephew, Bernard of Italy, whose eyes he had
caused to be put out as a punishment for rebellion, and who had died in
consequence, considered himself bound to perform at Attigny, in the
church and before the people, a solemn act of penance; which was
creditable to his honesty and piety, but the details left upon the minds
of the beholders an impression unfavorable to the Emperor's dignity and
authority. In 829, during an assembly held at Worms, he, yielding to his
wife's entreaties, and doubtless also to his own yearnings toward his
youngest son, set at naught the solemn act whereby, in 817, he had
shared his dominions among his three elder sons; and took away from two
of them, in Burgundy and Alemannia, some of the territories he had
assigned to them, and gave them to the boy Charles for his share.
Lothair, Pepin, and Louis thereupon revolted. Court rivalries were added
to family differences. The Emperor had summoned to his side a young
southron, Bernard by name, duke of Septimania and son of Count William
of Toulouse, who had gallantly fought the Saracens. He made him his
chief chamberlain and his favorite counsellor. Bernard was bold,
ambitious, vain, imperious, and restless. He removed his rivals from
court, and put in their places his own creatures. He was accused not
only of abusing the Emperor's favor, but even of carrying on a guilty
intrigue with the empress Judith. There grew up against him, and, by
consequence, against the Emperor, the Empress, and their youngest son, a
powerful opposition, in which certain ecclesiastics, and, among them,
Wala, abbot of Corbie, cousin-german and but lately one of the privy
counsellors of Charlemagne, joined eagerly. Some had at heart the unity
of the empire, which Louis was breaking up more and more; others were
concerned for the spiritual interests of the Church, which Louis, in
spite of his piety and by reason of his weakness, often permitted to be
attacked. Thus strengthened, the conspirators considered themselves
certain of success. They had the empress Judith carried off and shut up
in the convent of St. Radegonde at Poitiers; and Louis in person came to
deliver himself up to them at Compiegne, where they were assembled.
There they passed a decree to the effect that the power and title of
emperor were transferred from Louis to Lothair, his eldest son; that the
act whereby a share of the empire had but lately been assigned to
Charles was annulled; and that the act of 817, which had regulated the
partition of Louis' dominions after his death, was once more in force.
But soon there was a burst of reaction in favor of the Emperor;
Lothair's two brothers, jealous of his late elevation, made overtures to
their father; the ecclesiastics were a little ashamed at being mixed up
in a revolt; the people felt pity for the poor, honest Emperor; and a
general assembly, meeting at Nimeguen, abolished the acts of Compiegne,
and restored to Louis his title and his power. But it was not long
before there was revolt again, originating this time with Pepin, King of
Aquitaine. Louis fought him, and gave Aquitaine to Charles the Bald. The
alliance between the three sons of Hermengarde was at once renewed; they
raised an army; the Emperor marched against them with his; and the two
hosts met between Colmar and Bale, in a place called _le Champ rouge_
("the Field of Red"). Negotiations were set on foot; and Louis was
called upon to leave his wife Judith and his son Charles, and put
himself under the guardianship of his elder sons. He refused; but, just
when the conflict was about to commence, desertion took place in Louis'
army; most of the prelates, laics, and men-at-arms who had accompanied
him passed over to the camp of Lothair; and the "Field of Red" became
the "Field of Falsehood" (_le Champ du Mensonge_). Louis, left almost
alone, ordered his attendants to withdraw, "being unwilling," he said,
"that any one of them should lose life or limb on his account," and
surrendered to his sons. They received him with great demonstrations of
respect, but without relinquishing the prosecution of their enterprise.
Lothair hastily collected an assembly, which proclaimed him Emperor,
with the addition of divers territories to the kingdoms of Aquitaine and
Bavaria: and, three months afterward, another assembly, meeting at
Compiegne, declared the emperor Louis to have forfeited the crown, "for
having, by his faults and incapacity, suffered to sink so sadly low the
empire which had been raised to grandeur and brought into unity by
Charlemagne and his predecessors." Louis submitted to this decision;
himself read out aloud, in the Church of St. Medard at Soissons, but not
quite unresistingly, a confession, in eight articles, of his faults,
and, laying his baldric upon the altar, stripped off his royal robe, and
received from the hands of Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims, the gray vestment
of a penitent.

Lothair considered his father dethroned for good, and himself henceforth
sole Emperor; but he was mistaken. For years longer the scenes which
have just been described kept repeating themselves again and again;
rivalries and secret plots began once more between the three victorious
brothers and their partisans; popular feeling revived in favor of Louis;
a large portion of the clergy shared it; several counts of Neustria and
Burgundy appeared in arms, in the name of the deposed Emperor; and the
seductive and able Judith came afresh upon the scene, and gained over to
the cause of her husband and her son a multitude of friends. In 834, two
assemblies, one meeting at St. Denis and the other at Thionville,
annulled all the acts of the assembly of Compiegne, and for the third
time put Louis in possession of the imperial title and power. He
displayed no violence in his use of it; but he was growing more and more
irresolute and weak, when, in 838, the second of his rebellious sons,
Pepin, king of Aquitaine, died suddenly. Louis, ever under the sway of
Judith, speedily convoked at Worms, in 839, once more and for the last
time, a general assembly, whereat, leaving his son Louis of Bavaria
reduced to his kingdom in Eastern Europe, he divided the rest of his
dominions into two nearly equal parts, separated by the course of the
Meuse and the Rhone. Between these two parts he left the choice to
Lothair, who took the eastern portion, promising at the same time to
guarantee the western portion to his younger brother Charles. Louis the
Germanic protested against this partition, and took up arms to resist
it. His father, the Emperor, set himself in motion toward the Rhine, to
reduce him to submission; but, on arriving close to Mayence, he caught a
violent fever, and died on the 20th of June, 840, at the castle
Ingelheim, on a little island in the river. His last acts were a fresh
proof of his goodness toward even his rebellious sons and of his
solicitude for his last-born. He sent to Louis the Germanic his pardon,
and to Lothair the golden crown and sword, at the same time bidding him
fulfil his father's wishes on behalf of Charles and Judith.

There is no telling whether, in the credulousness of his good nature,
Louis had, at his dying hour, any great confidence in the appeal he made
to his son Lothair, and in the impression which would be produced on his
other son, Louis of Bavaria, by the pardon bestowed. The prayers of the
dying are of little avail against violent passions and barbaric manners.
Scarcely was Louis the Debonair dead, when Lothair was already
conspiring against young Charles, and was in secret alliance, for his
despoilment, with Pepin II, the late King of Aquitaine's son, who had
taken up arms for the purpose of seizing his father's kingdom, in the
possession of which his grandfather Louis had not been pleased to
confirm him. Charles suddenly learned that his mother Judith was on the
point of being besieged in Poitiers by the Aquitanians; and, in spite of
the friendly protestations sent to him by Lothair, it was not long
before he discovered the plot formed against him. He was not wanting in
shrewdness or energy; and, having first provided for his mother's
safety, he set about forming an alliance, in the cause of their common
interests, with his other brother, Louis the Germanic, who was equally
in danger from the ambition of Lothair. The historians of the period do
not say what negotiator was employed by Charles on this distant and
delicate mission; but several circumstances indicate that the empress
Judith herself undertook it; that she went in quest of the King of
Bavaria; and that it was she who, with her accustomed grace and address,
determined him to make common cause with his youngest against their
eldest brother. Divers incidents retarded for a whole year the outburst
of this family plot, and of the war of which it was the precursor. The
position of the young king Charles appeared for some time a very bad
one; but "certain chieftains," says the historian Nithard, "faithful to
his mother and to him, and having nothing more to lose than life or
limb, chose rather to die gloriously than to betray their King." The
arrival of Louis the Germanic with his troops helped to swell the forces
and increase the confidence of Charles; and it was on the 21st of June,
841, exactly a year after the death of Louis the Debonair, that the two
armies, that of Lothair and Pepin on the one side, and that of Charles
the Bald and Louis the Germanic on the other, stood face to face in the
neighborhood of the village of Fontenailles, six leagues from Auxerre,
on the rivulet of Audries. Never, according to such evidence as is
forthcoming, since the battle on the plains of Chalons against the Huns,
and that of Poitiers against the Saracens, had so great masses of men
been engaged. "There would be nothing untruthlike," says that scrupulous
authority, M. Fauriel, "in putting the whole number of combatants at
three hundred thousand; and there is nothing to show that either of the
two armies was much less numerous than the other." However that may be,
the leaders hesitated for four days to come to blows; and while they
were hesitating, the old favorite, not only of Louis the Debonair, but
also, according to several chroniclers, of the empress Judith, held
himself aloof with his troops in the vicinity, having made equal promise
of assistance to both sides, and waiting, to govern his decision, for
the prospect afforded by the first conflict. The battle began on the
25th of June, at daybreak, and was at first in favor of Lothair; but the
troops of Charles the Bald recovered the advantage which had been lost
by those of Louis the Germanic, and the action was soon nothing but a
terribly simple scene of carnage between enormous masses of men,
charging hand to hand, again and again, with a front extending over a
couple of leagues. Before midday the slaughter, the plunder, the
spoliation of the dead--all was over; the victory of Charles and Louis
was complete; the victors had retired to their camp, and there remained
nothing on the field of battle but corpses in thick heaps or a long
line, according as they had fallen in the disorder of flight or steadily
fighting in their ranks.... "Accursed be this day!" cries Angilbert, one
of Lothair's officers, in rough Latin verse; "be it unnumbered in the
return of the year, but wiped out of all remembrance! Be it unlit by the
light of the sun! Be it without either dawn or twilight! Accursed, also,
be this night, this awful night in which fell the brave, the most expert
in battle! Eye ne'er hath seen more fearful slaughter: in streams of
blood fell Christian men; the linen vestments of the dead did whiten the
champaign even as it is whitened by the birds of autumn!"

In spite of this battle, which appeared a decisive one, Lothair made
zealous efforts to continue the struggle; he scoured the countries
wherein he hoped to find partisans; to the Saxons he promised the
unrestricted reestablishment of their pagan worship, and several of the
Saxon tribes responded to his appeal. Louis the Germanic and Charles the
Bald, having information of these preliminaries, resolved to solemnly
renew their alliance and, seven months after their victory at
Fontenailles, in February, 842, they repaired both of them, each with
his army, to Argentaria, on the right bank of the Rhine, between Bale
and Strasburg, and there, at an open-air meeting, Louis first,
addressing the chieftains about him in the German tongue, said: "Ye all
know how often, since our father's death, Lothair hath attacked us, in
order to destroy us, this my brother and me. Having never been able, as
brothers and Christians, or in any just way, to obtain peace from him,
we were constrained to appeal to the judgment of God. Lothair was beaten
and retired, whither he could, with his following; for we, restrained by
paternal affection and moved with compassion for Christian people, were
unwilling to pursue them to extermination. Neither then nor aforetime
did we demand aught else save that each of us should be maintained in
his rights. But he, rebelling against the judgment of God, ceaseth not
to attack us as enemies, this my brother and me; and he destroyeth our
peoples with fire and pillage and the sword. That is the cause which
hath united us afresh; and, as we trow that ye doubt the soundness of
our alliance and our fraternal union, we have resolved to bind ourselves
afresh by this oath in your presence, being led thereto by no prompting
of wicked covetousness, but only that we may secure our common advantage
in case that, by your aid, God should cause us to obtain peace. If,
then, I violate--which God forbid--this oath that I am about to take to
my brother, I hold you all quit of submission to me and of the faith ye
have sworn to me."

Charles repeated this speech, word for word, to his own troops, in the
Romance language, in that idiom derived from a mixture of Latin and of
the tongues of ancient Gaul, and spoken, thenceforth, with varieties of
dialect and pronunciation, in nearly all parts of Frankish Gaul. After
this address, Louis pronounced and Charles repeated after him, each in
his own tongue, the oath couched in these terms: "For the love of God,
for the Christian people and for our common weal, from this day forth
and so long as God shall grant me power and knowledge, I will defend
this my brother and will be an aid to him in everything, as one ought to
defend his brother, provided that he do likewise unto me; and I will
never make with Lothair any covenant which may be, to my knowledge, to
the damage of this my brother."

When the two brothers had thus sworn, the two armies, officers and men,
took, in their turn, a similar oath, going bail, in a mass, for the
engagements of their kings. Then they took up their quarters, all of
them, for some time, between Worms and Mayence, and followed up their
political proceeding with military fetes, precursors of the knightly
tournaments of the Middle Ages. "A place of meeting was fixed," says the
contemporary historian Nithard, "at a spot suitable for this kind of
exercises. Here were drawn up, on one side, a certain number of
combatants, Saxons, Vasconians, Austrasians, or Britons; there were
ranged, on the opposite side, an equal number of warriors, and the two
divisions advanced, each against the other, as if to attack. One of
them, with their bucklers at their backs, took to flight as if to seek,
in the main body, shelter against those who were pursuing them; then
suddenly, facing about, they dashed out in pursuit of those before whom
they had just been flying. This sport lasted until the two kings,
appearing with all the youth of their suites, rode up at a gallop,
brandishing their spears and chasing first one lot and then the other.
It was a fine sight to see so much temper among so many valiant folk,
for, great as was the number and the mixture of different nationalities,
no one was insulted or maltreated, though the contrary is often the case
among men in small numbers and known one to another."

After four or five months of tentative measures or of incidents which
taught both parties that they could not, either of them, hope to
completely destroy their opponents, the two allied brothers received at


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