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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

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her prisoners, and to give up all the gold she possessed. Rollo took
only half the gold, and restored to the countess her husband. When, in
885, he became master of Rouen, instead of devastating the city, after
the fashion of his kind, he respected the buildings, had the walls
repaired, and humored the inhabitants. In spite of his violent and
extortionate practices where he met with obstinate resistance, there were
to be discerned in him symptoms of more noble sentiments and of an
instinctive leaning towards order, civilization, and government. After
the deposition of Charles the Fat and during the reign of Eudes, a lively
struggle was maintained between the Frankish king and the chieftain of
the Northmen, who had neither of them forgotten their early encounters.
They strove, one against the other, with varied fortunes; Eudes succeeded
in beating the Northmen at Montfaucon, but was beaten in Vermandois by
another band, commanded, it is said, by the veteran Hastings, sometime
count of Chartres. Rollo, too, had his share at one time of success, at
another of reverse; but he made himself master of several important
towns, showed a disposition to treat the quiet populations gently, and
made a fresh trip to England, during which he renewed friendly relations
with her king, Athelstan, the successor of Alfred the Great. He thus
became, from day to day, more reputable as well as more formidable in
France, insomuch that Eudes himself was obliged to have recourse, in
dealing with him, to negotiations and presents. When, in 898, Eudes was
dead, and Charles the Simple, at hardly nineteen years of age, had been
recognized sole king of France, the ascendency of Rollo became such that
the necessity of treating with him was clear. In 911, Charles, by the
advice of his councillors, and, amongst them, of Robert, brother of the
late king, Eudes, who had himself become count of Paris and duke of
France, sent to the chieftain of the Northmen Franco, archbishop of
Rouen, with orders to offer him the cession of a considerable portion of
Neustria and the hand of his young daughter Giscle, on condition that he
became a Christian and acknowledged himself the king's vassal. Rollo, by
the advice of his comrades, received these overtures with a good grace,
and agreed to a truce for three months, during which they might treat
about peace. On the day fixed, Charles accompanied by Duke Robert, and
Rollo, surrounded by his warriors, repaired to St. Clair-sur-Epte, on the
opposite banks of the river, and exchanged numerous messages. Charles
offered Rollo Flanders, which the Northman refused, considering it too
swampy; as to the maritime portion of Neustria, he would not be contented
with it; it was, he said, covered with forests, and had become quite a
stranger to the plough-share by reason of the Northmen's incessant
incursions; he demanded the addition of territories taken from Brittany,
and that the princes of that province, Berenger and Alan, lords,
respectively, of Redon and Del, should take the oath of fidelity to him.
When matters had been arranged on this basis, "the bishops told Rollo
that he who received such a gift as the duchy of Normandy was bound to
kiss the king's foot. 'Never,' quoth Rollo, 'will I bend the knee before
the knees of any, and I will kiss the foot of none.' At the solicitation
of the Franks he then ordered one of his warriors to kiss the king's
foot. The Northman, remaining bolt upright, took hold of the king's
foot, raised it to his mouth, and so made the king fall backward, which
caused great bursts of laughter and much disturbance amongst the throng.
Then the king and all the grandees who were about him, prelates, abbots,
dukes, and counts, swore, in the name of the Catholic faith, that they
would protect the patrician Rollo in his life, his members, and his folk,
and would guarantee to him the possession of the aforesaid land, to him
and his descendants forever. After which the king, well satisfied,
returned to his domains; and Rollo departed with Duke Robert for the town
of Rouen."

The dignity of Charles the Simple had no reason to be well satisfied; but
the great political question which, a century before, caused Charlemagne
such lively anxiety, was solved; the most dangerous, the most incessantly
renewed of all foreign invasions, those of the Northmen, ceased to
threaten France. The vagabond pirates had a country to cultivate and
defend; the Northmen were becoming French.

No such transformation was near taking place in the case of the invasions
of the Saracens in Southern Gaul; they continued to infest Aquitania,
Septimania, and Provence; their robber-hordes appeared frequently on the
coasts of the Mediterranean and the banks of the Rhone, at Aigues-Mortes,
at Marseilles, at Arles, and in Camargue; they sometimes penetrated into
Dauphine, Rouergue, Limousin, and Saintonge. The author of this history
saw, at the commencement of the present century, in the mountains of the
Cevennes, the ruins of the towers built, a thousand years ago, by the
inhabitants of those rugged countries, to put their families and their
flocks under shelter from the incursions of the Saracens. But these
incursions were of short duration, and most frequently undertaken by
plunderers few in number, who retreated precipitately with their booty.
Africa was not, as Asia was, an inexhaustible source of nations burning
to push onward, one upon another, to go wandering and settling elsewhere.
The people of the north move willingly towards the south, where living is
easier and pleasanter; but the people of the south are not much disposed
to migrate to the north, with its soil so hard to cultivate, and its
leaden skies, and into the midst of its fogs and frosts. After a course
of plundering in Aquitania or in Provence, the Arabs of Spain and of
Africa were eager to recross the Pyrenees or the Mediterranean, and
regain their own lovely climate, and their life of easefulness that never
palled. Furthermore, between Christians and Mussulmans the religious
antipathy was profound. The Christian missionaries were not much given
to carrying their pious zeal into the home of the Mussulman; and the
Mussulmans were far less disposed than the pagans to become Christians.
To preserve their conquests, the Arabs of Spain had to struggle against
the refugee Goths in the Asturias; and Charlemagne, by extending those of
the Franks to the Ebro, had given the Christian Goths a powerful alliance
against the Spanish Mussulmans. For all these reasons, the invasions of
the Saracens in the south of France did not threaten, as those of the
Northmen did in the north, the security of the Gallo-Frankish monarchy,
and the Gallo-Roman populations of the south were able to defend their
national independence at the same time against the Saracens and the
Franks. They did so successfully in the ninth and tenth centuries; and
the French monarchy, which was being founded between the Loire and the
Rhine, had thus for some time a breach in it, without ever suffering
serious displacement.

A new people, the Hungarians, which was the only name then given to the
Magyars, appeared at this epoch, for the first time, amongst the
devastators of Western Europe. From 910 to 954, as a consequence of
movements and wars on the Danube, Hungarian hordes, after scouring
Central Germany, penetrated into Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne, Burgundy,
Berry, Dauphine, Provence, and even Aquitaine; but this inundation was
transitory, and if the populations of those countries had much to suffer
from it, the Gallo-Frankish dominion, in spite of inward disorder and the
feebleness of the latter Carlovingians, was not seriously endangered

And so 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 Debonnair 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
Debonnair is suited to him; it expresses his moral worth and his
political incapacity, both at once.

As king of Aquitania, 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 a 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 (_missi dominici_) 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,
Lothaire, 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, whilst 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, Lothaire, the imperial throne. Lothaire 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, Lothaire, to wit: Pepin, over Aquitaine and a great
part of Southern Gaul and of Burgundy; Louis, beyond the Rhine, over
Bavaria and the divers peoplets in the east of Germany." The rest of
Gaul and of Germany, as well as the kingdom of Italy, was to belong to
Lothaire, 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 Debonnair, and at the same time of his son Lothaire, 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 Debonnair,
whilst 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 Debonnair
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, whilst
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 amongst 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 Lothaire at the orders of his uncle Louis. These
two attempts were easily repressed, but the third was more serious. It
took place in Brittany, amongst 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, hasted 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 Lotus, 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 nought 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

The monk returned to Louis the Debonnair, and rendered account of his
mission. War was resolved upon; and the emperor collected his troops,
Allemannians, 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 amidst 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, towards 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 death-blow.

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 Debonnair, accept
all the conditions imposed upon them, and the Franks withdraw with the
boast that Brittany is henceforth their tributary. (_Faits et testes de
Louis le Picux,_ a poem by Ermold le Noir, in M. Guizot's _Collection des
Memoires relatifs L'Histoire de France,_ t. iv., p. 1-113.--Fauriel,
_Histoire de la Gaule,_ etc., t. iv., p. 77-88.)

[Illustration: Ditcar the Monk recognizing the Head of Morvan----273]

On arriving at Angers, Louis found the Empress Hermengarde dying; and two
days afterwards 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's 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 towards 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 towards his youngest son, set at
nought the solemn act whereby, in 817, he had shared his dominions
amongst his three elder sons; and took away from two of them, in Burgundy
and Allemannia, some of the territories he had assigned to them, and gave
them to the boy Charles for his share. Lothaire, 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, amongst 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
Lothaire, his eldest son; that the act whereby a share of the empire had
but lately beer assigned to Charles was annulled; and that the act of
817, which had regulated the partition of Louis's dominions after his
death, was once more in force. But soon there was a burst of reaction in
favor of the emperor; Lothaire'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's army; most of the prelates, laics, and men-at-arms
who had accompanied him passed over to the camp of Lothaire; 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. Lothaire hastily collected an assembly, which
proclaimed him emperor, with the addition of divers territories to the
kingdoms of Aquitaine and Bavaria: and, three months afterwards, 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.

Lothaire considered his father dethroned for good, and himself henceforth
sole emperor; but he was mistaken. For six 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
Lothaire, 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 towards 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 of
Ingelheim, on a little island in the river. His last acts were a fresh
proof of his goodness towards even his rebellious sons, and of his
solicitude for his last-born. He sent to Louis the Germanic his pardon,
and to Lothaire 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 Lothaire, 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 Debonnair dead, when Lothaire 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 Lothaire, 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 Lothaire. 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 younger 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 Debonnair, that the two armies, that of Lothaire 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 whilst they were
hesitating, the old favorite not only of Louis the Debonnair, 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 Lothaire; but the troops
of Charles the Bald recovered the advantage which had been lost by 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 Lothaire'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, Lothaire made
zealous efforts to continue the struggle; he scoured the countries
wherein he hoped to find partisans: to the Saxons he promised the
unrestricted re-establishment 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
Strasbourg, 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, Lothaire 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. Lothaire 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 ought 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 trove 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 Lothaire 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 amongst so many valiant folks, for
great as were the number and the mixture of different nationalities, no
one was insulted or maltreated, though the contrary is often the case
amongst 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
Verdun, whither they had repaired to concert their next movement, a
messenger from Lothaire, with peaceful proposals which they were
unwilling to reject. The principal was that, with the exception of
Italy, Aquitaine, and Bavaria, to be secured without dispute to their
then possessors, the Frankish empire should be divided into three
portions, that the arbiters elected to preside over the partition should
swear to make it as equal as possible, and that Lothaire should have his
choice, with the title of Emperor. About mid June, 842, the three
brothers met on an island of the Saone, near Chalons, where they began to
discuss the questions which divided them; but it was not till more than a
year after, in August, 843, that assembling all three of them, with their
umpires, at Verdun, they at last came to an agreement about the partition
of the Frankish empire, save the three countries which it had been
beforehand agreed to except. Louis kept all the provinces of Germany of
which he was already in possession, and received besides, on the left
bank of the Rhine, the towns of Mayence, Worms, and Spire, with the
territory appertaining to them. Lothaire, for his part, had the eastern
belt of Gaul, bounded on one side by the Rhine and the Alps, on the other
by the courses of the Meuse, the Saone, and the Rhone, starting from the
confluence of the two latter rivers, and, further, the country comprised
between the Meuse and the Scheldt, together with certain countships lying
to the west of that river. To Charles fell all the rest of Gaul:
Vasconia or Biscaye, Septimania, the marches of Spain, beyond the
Pyrenees, and the other countries of Southern Gaul which had enjoyed
hitherto, under the title of the Kingdom of Aquitaine, a special
government subordinated to the general government of the empire, but
distinct from it, lost this last remnant of their Gallo-Roman
nationality, and became integral portions of Frankish Gaul, which fell by
partition to Charles the Bald, and formed one and the same kingdom under
one and the same king.

Thus fell through and disappeared, in 843, by virtue of the treaty of
Verdun, the second of Charlemagne's grand designs, the resuscitation of
the Roman empire by means of the Frankish and Christian masters of Gaul.
The name of emperor still retained a certain value in the minds of the
people, and still remained an object of ambition to princes; but the
empire was completely abolished, and in its stead sprang up three
kingdoms, independent one of another, without any necessary connection or
relation. One of the three was thenceforth France.

In this great event are comprehended two facts; the disappearance of the
empire and the formation of the three kingdoms which took its place. The
first is easily explained. The resuscitation of the Roman empire had
been a dream of ambition and ignorance on the part of a great man, but a
barbarian. Political unity and central absolute power had been the
essential characteristics of that empire. They became introduced and
established, through a long succession of ages, on the ruins of the
splendid Roman republic, destroyed by its own dissensions, under favor of
the still great influence of the old Roman senate, though fallen from its
high estate, and beneath the guardianship of the Roman legions and
imperial pretorians. Not one of these conditions, not one of these
forces, was to be met with in the Roman world reigned over by
Charlemagne. The nation of the Franks and Charlemagne himself were but
of yesterday; the new emperor had neither ancient senate to hedge at the
same time that it obeyed him, nor old bodies of troops to support him.
Political unity and absolute power were repugnant alike to the
intellectual and the social condition, to the national manners and
personal sentiments of the victorious barbarians. The necessity of
placing their conquests beyond the reach of a new swarm of barbarians and
the personal ascendency of Charlemagne were the only things which gave
his government a momentary gleam of success in the way of unity and of
factitious despotism under the name of empire. In 814, Charlemagne had
made territorial security an accomplished fact; but the personal power he
had exercised disappeared with him. The new Gallo-Frankish community
recovered, under the mighty but gradual influence of Christianity, its
proper and natural course, producing disruption into different local
communities and bold struggles for individual liberties, either one with
another, or against whosoever tried to become their master.

As for the second fact, the formation of the three kingdoms which were
the issue of the treaty of Verdun, various explanations have been given
of it. This distribution of certain peoples of Western Europe into three
distinct and independent groups, Italians, Germans, and French, has been
attributed at one time to a diversity of histories and manners; at
another to geographical causes and to what is called the rule of natural
frontiers; and oftener still to a spirit of nationality and to
differences of language. Let none of these causes be gainsaid; they
all exercised some sort of influence, but they are all incomplete in
themselves and far too redolent of theoretical system. It is true that
Germany, France, and Italy began, at that time, to emerge from the chaos
into which they had been plunged by barbaric invasion and the conquests
of Charlemagne, and to form themselves into quite distinct nations; but
there were in each of the kingdoms of Lothaire, of Louis the Germanic,
and of Charles the Bald, populations widely differing in race, language,
manners, and geographical affinity, and it required many great events and
the lapse of many centuries to bring about the degree of national unity
they now possess. To say nothing touching the agency of individual and
independent forces, which is always considerable, although so many men of
intellect ignore it in the present day, what would have happened, had any
one of the three new kings, Lothaire, or Louis the Germanic, or Charles
the Bald, been a second Charlemagne, as Charlemagne had been a second
Charles Martel? Who can say that, in such a case, the three kingdoms
would have taken the form they took in 843?

Happily or unhappily, it was not so; none of Charlemagne's successors was
capable of exercising on the events of his time, by virtue of his brain
and his own will, any notable influence. Not that they were all
unintelligent, or timid, or indolent. It has been seen that Louis the
Debonnair did not lack virtues and good intentions; and Charles the Bald
was clear-sighted, dexterous, and energetic; he had a taste for
information and intellectual distinction; he liked and sheltered men of
learning and letters, and to such purpose that, instead of speaking, as
under Charlemagne, of the school of the palace, people called the palace
of Charles the Bald the palace of the school. Amongst the eleven kings
who after him ascended the Carlovingian throne, several, such as Louis
III. and Carloman, and, especially, Louis the Ultramarine (d'Outremer)
and Lothaire, displayed, on several occasions, energy and courage; and
the kings elected, at this epoch, without the pale of the Carlovingian
dynasty--Eudes in 887 and Raoul in 923--gave proofs of a valor both
discreet and effectual. The Carlovingians did not, as the Merovingians
did, end in monkish retirement or shameful inactivity even the last of
them, and the only one termed sluggard, Louis V., was getting ready, when
he died, for an expedition in Spain against the Saracens. The truth is
that, mediocre or undecided or addle-pated as they may have been, they
all succumbed, internally and externally, without initiating and without
resisting, to the course of events, and that, in 987, the fall of the
Carlovingian line was the natural and easily accomplished consequence of
the new social condition which had been preparing in France under the


The reader has just seen that, twenty-nine years after the death of
Charlemagne, that is, in 843, when, by the treaty of Verdun, the sons of
Louis the Debonnair had divided amongst them his dominions, the great
empire split up into three distinct and independent kingdoms--the
kingdoms of Italy, Germany, and France. The split did not stop there.
Forty-five years later, at the end of the ninth century, shortly after
the death of Charles the Fat, the last of the Carlovingians who appears
to have re-united for a while all the empire of Charlemagne, this empire
had begotten seven instead of three kingdoms, those of France, of
Navarre, of Provence or Cisjuran Burgundy, of Trans-juran Burgundy, or
Lorraine, of Allemannia, and of Italy. This is what had become of the
factitious and ephemeral unity of that Empire of the West which
Charlemagne had wished to put in the place of the Roman empire.

We will leave where they are the three distinct and independent kingdoms,
and turn our introspective gaze upon the kingdom of France. There we
recognize the same fact; there the same work of dismemberment is going
on. About the end of the ninth century there were already twenty-nine
provinces or fragments of provinces which had become petty states, the
former governors of which, under the names of dukes, counts, marquises,
and viscounts, were pretty nearly real sovereigns. Twenty-nine great
fiefs, which have played a special part in French history, date back to
this epoch.

These petty states were not all of equal importance or in possession of a
perfectly similar independence; there were certain ties uniting them to
other states, resulting in certain reciprocal obligations which became
the basis, or, one might say, the constitution of the feudal community;
but their prevailing feature was, nevertheless, isolation, personal
existence. They were really petty states begotten from the dismemberment
of a great territory; those local governments were formed at the expense
of a central power.

From the end of the ninth pass we to the end of the tenth century, to the
epoch when the Capetians take the place of the Carlovingians. Instead of
seven kingdoms to replace the empire of Charlemagne, there were then no
more than four. The kingdoms of Provence and Trans-juran Burgundy had
formed, by re-union, the kingdom of Arles. The kingdom of Lorraine was
no more than a duchy in dispute between Allemannia and France. The
Emperor Otho the Great had united the kingdom of Italy to the empire of.
Allemannia. Overtures had produced their effects amongst the great
states. But in the interior of the kingdom of France, dismemberment had
held on its course; and instead of the twenty-nine petty states or great
fiefs observable at the end of the ninth century, we find at the end of
the tenth, fifty-five actually established. (_Vide_ Guizot's _Histoire
de la Civilisation,_ t. ii., pp. 238-246.)

Now, how was this ever-increasing dismemberment accomplished? What
causes determined it, and little by little made it the substitute for the
unity of the empire? Two causes, perfectly natural and independent of
all human calculation, one moral and the other political. They were the
absence from the minds of men of any general and dominant idea; and the
reflux, in social relations and manners, of the individual liberties but
lately repressed or regulated by the strong hand of Charlemagne. In
times of formation or transition, states and governments conform to the
measure, one had almost said to the height, of the men of the period,
their ideas, their sentiments, and their personal force of character;
when ideas are few and narrow, when sentiments spread only over a
confined circle, when means of action and expansion are wanting to men,
communities become petty and local, just as the thoughts and existence of
their members are. Such was the state of things in the ninth and tenth
centuries; there was no general and fructifying idea, save the Christian
creed; no great intellectual vent; no great national feeling; no easy and
rapid means of communication; mind and life were both confined in a
narrow space, and encountered, at every step, stoppages and obstacles
well nigh insurmountable. At the same time, by the fall of the empires
of Rome and of Charlemagne, men regained possession of the rough and
ready individual liberties which were the essential characteristic of
Germanic manners: Franks, Visigoths, Burgundians, Saxons, Lombards, none
of these new peoples had lived as the Greeks and Romans had, under the
sway of an essentially political idea, the idea of city, state, and
fatherland: they were free men, and not citizens; comrades, not members
of one and the same public body. They gave up their vagabond life; they
settled upon a soil conquered by themselves and partitioned amongst
themselves; and there they lived each by himself, master of himself and
all that was his, family, servitors, husbandmen, and slaves: the
territorial domain became the fatherland, and the owner remained a free
man, a local and independent chieftain, at his own risk and peril. And
this, quite naturally, grew up feudal France, when the new comers,
settled in their new abodes, were no more swayed or hampered by the vain
attempt to re-establish the Roman empire.

The consequences of such a state of things and of such a disposition of
persons were rapidly developed. Territorial ownership became the
fundamental characteristic of and warranty for independence and social
importance. Local sovereignty, if not complete and absolute, at least
in respect of its principal rights, right of making war, right of
judicature, right of taxation, and right of regulating the police, became
one with the territorial ownership, which before long grew to be
hereditary, whether, under the title of _alleu (allodium)_, it had been
originally perfectly independent and exempt from any feudal tie, or,
under the title of benefice, had arisen from grants of land made by the
chieftain to his followers, on condition of certain obligations. The
offices, that is, the divers functions, military or civil, conferred by
the king on his lieges, also ended by becoming hereditary. Having become
established in fact, this heirship in lands and local powers was soon
recognized by the law. A capitulary of Charles the Bald, promulgated in
877, contains the two following provisions:--

"If, after our death, any one of our lieges, moved by love for God and
our person, desire to renounce the world, and if he have a son or other
relative capable of serving the public weal, let him be free to transmit
to him his benefices and his honor, according to his pleasure."

"If a count of this kingdom happen to die, and his son be about our
person, we will that our son; together with those of our lieges who may
chance to be the nearest relatives of the deceased count, as well as with
the other officers of the said countship and the bishop of the diocese
wherein it is situated, shall provide for its administration until the
death of the heretofore count shall have been announced to us and we have
been enabled to confer on the son, present at our court, the honors
wherewith his father was invested."

Thus the king still retained the nominal right of conferring on the son
the offices or local functions of the father, but he recognized in the
son the right to obtain them. A host of documents testify that at this
epoch, when, on the death of a governor of a province, the king attempted
to give his countship to some one else than his descendants, not only did
personal interest resist, but such a measure was considered a violation
of right. Under the reign of Louis the Stutterer, son of Charles the
Bald, two of his lieges, Wilhelm and Engelschalk, held two countships on
the confines of Bavaria; and, at their death, their offices were given to
Count Arbo, to the prejudice of their sons. "The children and their
relatives," says the chronicler, "taking that as a gross injustice, said
that matters ought to go differently, and that they would die by the
sword or Arbo should give up the courtship of their family." Heirship in
territorial ownerships and their local rights, whatever may have
originally been their character; heirship in local offices or powers,
military or civil, primarily conferred by the king; and, by consequence,
hereditary union of territorial ownership and local government, under the
condition, a little confused and precarious, of subordinated relations
and duties between suzerain and vassal--such was, in law and in fact, the
feudal order of things. From the ninth to the tenth century it had
acquired full force.

This order of things being thus well defined, we find ourselves face to
face with an indisputable historic fact: no period, no system has ever,
in France, remained so odious to the public instincts. And this
antipathy is not peculiar to our age, nor merely the fruit of that great
revolution which not long since separated, as by a gulf, the French
present from its past. Go back to any portion of French history, and
stop where you will; and you will everywhere find the feudal system
considered, by the mass of the population, a foe to be fought and fought
down at any price. At all times, whoever dealt it a blow has been
popular in France.

The reasons for this fact are not all, or even the chief of them, to be
traced to the evils which, in France, the people had to endure under the
feudal system. It is not evil plight which is most detested and feared
by peoples; they have more than once borne, faced, and almost wooed it,
and there are woful epochs, the memory of which has remained dear. It is
in the political character of feudalism, in the nature and shape of its
power, that we find lurking that element of popular aversion which, in
France at least, it has never ceased to inspire.

It was a confederation of petty sovereigns, of petty despots, unequal
amongst themselves, and having, one towards another, certain duties and
rights, but invested in their own domains, over their personal and direct
subjects, with arbitrary and absolute power. That is the essential
element of the feudal system; therein it differs from every other
aristocracy, every other form of government.

There has been no scarcity in this world of aristocracies and despotisms.
There have been peoples arbitrarily governed, nay, absolutely possessed
by a single man, by a college of priests, by a body of patricians. But
none of these despotic governments was like the feudal system.

In the case where the sovereign power has been placed in the hands of a
single man, the condition of the people has been servile and woful. At
bottom the feudal system was somewhat better; and it will presently be
explained why. Meanwhile, it must be acknowledged that that condition
often appeared less burdensome, and obtained more easy acceptance than
the feudal system. It was because, under the great absolute monarchies,
men did, nevertheless, obtain some sort of equality and tranquillity. A
shameful equality and a fatal tranquillity, no doubt; but such as peoples
are sometimes contented with under the dominance of certain
circumstances, or in the last gasp of their existence. Liberty,
equality, and tranquillity were all alike wanting, from the tenth to the
thirteenth century, to the inhabitants of each lord's domains; their
sovereign was at their very doors, and none of them was hidden from him,
or beyond reach of his mighty arm. Of all tyrannies, the worst is that
which can thus keep account of its subjects, and which sees, from its
seat, the limits of its empire. The caprices of the human will then show
themselves in all their intolerable extravagance, and, moreover, with
irresistible promptness. It is then, too, that inequality of conditions
makes itself more rudely felt; riches, might, independence, every
advantage and every right present themselves every instant to the gaze of
misery, weakness, and servitude. The inhabitants of fiefs could not find
consolation in the bosom of tranquillity; incessantly mixed up in the
quarrels of their lord, a prey to his neighbors' devastations, they led a
life still more precarious and still more restless than that of the lords
themselves, and they had to put up at one and the same time with the
presence of war, privilege, and absolute power. Nor did the rule of
feudalism differ less from that of a college of priests or a senate of
patricians than from the despotism of an individual. In the two former
systems we have an aristocratic body governing the mass of the people; in
the feudal system we have an aristocracy resolved into individuals, each
of whom governs on his own private account a certain number of persons
dependent upon him alone. Be the aristocratic body a clergy, its power
has its root in creeds which are common to itself and its subjects. Now,
in every creed common to those who command and those who obey there is a
moral tie, an element of sympathetic equality, and on the part of those
who obey a tacit adhesion to the rule. Be it a senate of patricians that
reigns, it cannot govern so capriciously, so arbitrarily, as an
individual. There are differences and discussions in the very bosom of
the government; there may be, nay, there always are, formed factions,
parties which, in order to arrive at their own ends, strive to conciliate
the favor of the people, sometimes take in hand its interests, and,
however bad may be its condition, the people, by sharing in its masters'
rivalries, exercises some sort of influence over its own destiny.
Feudalism was not, properly speaking, an aristocratic government, a
senate of kings--to use the language used by Cineas to Pyrrhus; it was a
collection of individual despotisms, exercised by isolated aristocrats,
each of whom, being sovereign in his own domains, had to give no account
to another, and asked nobody's opinion about his conduct towards his

Is it astonishing that such a system incurred, on the part of the
peoples, more hatred than even those which had reduced them to a more
monotonous and more lasting servitude? There was despotism, just as in
pure monarchies, and there was privilege, just as in the very closest
aristocracies. And both obtruded themselves in the most offensive, and,
so to speak, crude form. Despotism was not tapered off by means of the
distant and elevation of a throne; and privilege did not veil itself
behind the majesty of a large body. Both were the appurtenances of an
individual ever present and ever alone, ever at his subjects' doors, and
never called upon, in dealing with their lot, to gather his peers around

And now we will leave the subjects in the case of feudalism, and consider
the masters, the owners of fiefs, and their relations one with another.
We here behold quite a different spectacle; we see liberties, rights, and
guarantees, which not only give protection and honor to those who enjoy
them, but of which the tendency and effect are to open to the subject
population an outlet towards a better future.

It could not, in fact, be otherwise: for, on the one hand, feudal society
was not wanting in dignity and glory; and, on the other, the feudal
system did not, as the theocracy of Egypt or the despotism of Asia did,
condemn its subjects irretrievably to slavery. It oppressed them; but
they ended by having the power as well as the will to go free.

It is the fault of pure monarchy to set up power so high, and encompass
it with such splendor, that the possessor's head is turned, and that
those who are beneath it dare scarcely look upon it. The sovereign
thinks himself a god; and the people fall down and worship him. But it
was not so in society under owners of fiefs: the grandeur was neither
dazzling nor unapproachable; it was but a short step from vassal to
suzerain; they lived familiarly one with another, without any possibility
that superiority should think itself illimitable, or subordination think
itself servile. Thence came that extension of the domestic circle, that
ennoblement of personal service, from which sprang one of the most
generous sentiments of the middle ages, fealty, which reconciled the
dignity of the man with the devotion of the vassal.

Further, it was not from a numerous aristocratic senate, but from
himself, and almost from himself alone, that every possessor of fiefs
derived his strength and his lustre. Isolated as he was in his domains,
it was for him to maintain himself therein, to extend them, to keep his
subjects submissive and his vassals faithful, and to correct those who
were wanting in obedience to him, or who ignored their duties as members
of the feudal hierarchy. It was, as it were, a people consisting of
scattered citizens, of whom each, ever armed, accompanied by his
following or intrenched in his castle, kept watch himself over his own
safety and his own rights, relying far more on his own courage and his
own renown than on the protection of the public authorities. Such a
condition bears less resemblance to an organized and settled society than
to a constant prospect of peril and war; but the energy and the dignity
of the individual were kept up in it, and a more extended and better
regulated society might issue therefrom.

And it did issue. This society of the future was not slow to sprout and
grow in the midst of that feudal system so turbulent, so oppressive, so
detested. For five centuries, from the invasion of the barbarians to the
fall of the Carlovingians, France presents the appearance of being
stationary in the middle of chaos. Over this long, dark space of
anarchy, feudalism is slowly taking shape, at the expense, at one time,
of liberty, at another, of order; not as a real rectification of the
social condition, but as the only order of things which could possibly
acquire fixity, as, in fact, a sort of unpleasant but necessary
alternative. No sooner is the feudal system in force, than, with its
victory scarcely secured, it is attacked in the lower grades by the mass
of the people attempting to regain certain liberties, ownerships, and
rights, and in the highest by royalty laboring to recover its public
character, to become once more the head of a nation. It is no longer the
case of free men in a vague and dubious position, unsuccessfully
defending, against the nomination of the chieftains whose lands they
inhabit, the wreck of their independence, whether Gallic, or Roman, or
barbaric; it is the case of burgesses, agriculturists, and serfs, who
know well what their grievances and who their oppressors are, and who are
working to get free. It is no longer the case of a king doubtful about
his title and the nature of his power, at one time a chieftain of
warriors, at another the anointed of the Most High; here a mayor of the
palace of some sluggard barbarian, there the heir of the emperors of
Rome; a sovereign tossing about confusedly amidst followers or servitors
eager at one time to invade his authority, at another to render
themselves completely isolated: it is the case of one of the premier
feudal lords exerting himself to become the master of all, to change his
suzerainty into sovereignty. Thus, in spite of the servitude into which
the people had sunk at the end of the tenth century, from this moment the
enfranchisement of the people makes way. In spite of the weakness, or
rather nullity, of the regal power at the same epoch, from this moment
the regal power begins to gain ground. That monarchical system which the
genius of Charlemagne could not found, kings far inferior to Charlemagne
will little by little make triumphant. Those liberties and those
guarantees which the German warriors were incapable of transmitting to a
well-regulated society, the commonalty will regain one after another.
Nothing but feudalism could have sprung from the womb of barbarism; but
scarcely is feudalism established when we see monarchy and liberty
nascent and growing in its womb.

From the end of the ninth to the end of the tenth century, two families
were, in French history, the representatives and instruments of the two
systems thus confronted and conflicting at that epoch, the imperial which
was falling, and the feudal which was rising. After the death of
Charlemagne, his descendants, to the number of ten, from Louis the
Debonnair to Louis the Sluggard, strove obstinately, but in vain, to
maintain the unity of the empire and the unity of the central power. In
four generations, on the other hand, the descendants of Robert the Strong
climbed to the head of feudal France. The former, though German in race,
were imbued with the maxims, the traditions, and the pretensions of that
Roman world which had been for a while resuscitated by their glorious
ancestor; and they claimed it as their heritage. The latter preserved,
at their settlement upon Gallo-Roman territory, Germanic sentiments,
manners, and instincts, and were occupied only with the idea of getting
more and more settled, and greater and greater in the new society which
was little by little being formed upon the soil won by the barbarians,
their forefathers. Louis the Ultra-marine and Lothaire were not, we may
suppose, less personally brave than Robert the Strong and his son Eudes;
but when the Northmen put the Frankish dominions in peril, it was not to
the descendants of Charlemagne, not to the emperor Charles the Fat, but
to the local and feudal chieftain, to Eudes, count of Paris, that the
population turned for salvation: and Eudes it was who saved them.

In this painful parturition of French monarchy, one fact deserves to be
remarked, and that is, the lasting respect attached, in the minds of the
people, to the name and the reminiscences of the Carlovingian rule,
notwithstanding its decay. It was not alone the lustre of that name, and
of the memory of Charlemagne which inspired and prolonged this respect; a
certain instinctive feeling about the worth of hereditary monarchy, as an
element of stability and order, already existed amongst the populations,
and glimpses thereof were visible amongst the rivals of the royal family
in the hour of its dissolution. It had been consecrated by religion; the
title of anointed of the Most High was united, in its case, to that of
lawful heir. Why did Hugh the Great, duke of France, in spite of
favorable opportunities and very palpable temptations, abstain
perseveringly from taking the crown, and leave it tottering upon the
heads of Louis the Ultramarine and Lothaire? Why did his son, Hugh Capet
himself, wait, for his election as king, until Louis the Sluggard was
dead, and the Carlovingian line had only a collateral and discredited
representative? In these hesitations and lingerings of the great feudal
chieftains, there is a forecast of the authority already vested in the
principle of hereditary monarchy, at the very moment when it was about to
be violated, and of the great part which would be played by that
principle in the history of France.

At last the day of decision arrived for Hugh Capet. There is nothing to
show that he had conspired to hasten it, but he had foreseen the
probability of it, and, if he had done nothing to pave the way for it, he
had held himself, so far as he was concerned, in readiness for it.
During a trip which he made to Rome in 981, he had entered into kindly
personal relations with the Emperor Otho II., king of Germany, the most
important of France's neighbors, and the most disposed to meddle in her
affairs. In France, Hugh Capet had formed a close friendship with
Adalberon, archbishop of Rheims, the most notable and most able of the
French prelates. The event showed the value of such a friend. On the
21st of May, 987, King Louis V. died without issue; and, after his
obsequies, the grandees of the kingdom met together at Senlis. We will
here borrow the text of a contemporary witness, Richer, the only one of
the chroniclers of that age who deserves the name of historian, whether
for the authenticity of his testimony or the extent and clearness of his
narrative. "The bishop," he says, "took his place, together with the
duke, in the midst of the assembly, and said to them, 'I come and sit
down amongst you to treat of the affairs of the state. Far from me be
any design of saying anything but what has for aim the advantage of the
common weal. As I do not see here all the princes whose wisdom and
energy might be useful in the government of the kingdom, it seems to me
that the choice of a king should be put off for some time, in order that,
at a period fixed upon, all may be able to meet in assembly, and that
every opinion, having been discussed and set forth in the face of day,
may thus produce its full effect. May it please you, then, all of ye who
are here assembled to deliberate, to bind yourselves in conjunction with
me by oath to this illustrious duke, and to promise between his hands not
to engage yourselves in any way in the election of a Head, and not to do
anything to this end until we be re-assembled here to deliberate upon
that choice.' This opinion was well received and approved of by all:
oath was taken between the hands of the duke, and the time was fixed at
which the meeting should assemble again."

Before the day fixed for re-assembling, the last of the descendants of
Charlemagne, Charles, duke of Lower Lorraine, brother of the late King
Lothaire, and paternal uncle of the late King Louis, "went to Rheims in
quest of the archbishop, and thus spake to him about his rights to the
throne: 'All the world knoweth, venerable father, that, by hereditary
right, I ought to succeed my brother and my nephew. I am wanting in
nought that should be required, before all, from those who ought to
reign, to wit, birth and the courage to dare. Wherefore am I thrust out
from the territory which all the world knows to have been possessed by my
ancestors? To whom could I better address myself than to you, when all
the supports of my race have disappeared? To whom, bereft as I am of
honorable protection, should I have recourse but to you? By whom, if not
by you, should I be restored to the honors of my fathers? Please God
things turn out favorably for me and for my fortunes! Rejected, what,
can become of me save to be exhibited as a spectacle to all who look on
me? Suffer yourself to be moved by some feeling of humanity: be
compassionate towards a man who has been tried by so many reverses!'"

Such language was more calculated to inspire contempt than compassion.
"The metropolitan, firm in his resolution, gave for answer these few
words: 'Thou hast ever been associated with the perjured, the
sacrilegious, and the wicked of every sort, and now thou art still
unwilling to separate from them: how canst thou, in company with such
men, and by means of such men, seek to attain to the sovereign power?'
And when Charles replied that he must not abandon his friends, but rather
gain over others, the bishop said to himself, 'Now that he possesses no
position of dignity, he hath allied himself with the wicked, whose
companionship he will not, in any way, give up: what misfortune would it
be for the good if he were elected to the throne!' To Charles, however,
he made answer that he would do nought without the consent of the
princes; and so left him."

At the time fixed, probably the 29th or 30th of June, 987, the grandees
of Frankish Gaul who had bound themselves by oath re-assembled at Senlis.
Hugh Capet was present with his brother Henry of Burgundy, and his
brother-in-law Richard the Fearless, duke of Normandy. The majority of
the direct vassals of the crown were also there--Foulques Nerra (the
Black), count of Anjou; Eudes, count of Blois, Chartres, and Tours;
Bouchard, count of Vent-Mine and Corbeil; Gautier, count of Vexin; and
Hugh, count of Maine. Few counts came from beyond the Loire; and some of
the lords in the North, amongst others Arnulf II., count of Flanders, and
the lords of Vermandois were likewise missing. "When those present were
in regular assembly, Archbishop Adalheron, with the assent of Duke Hugh,
thus spake unto them: 'Louis, of blessed memory, having been taken from
us without leaving issue, it hath become necessary to engage seriously in
seeking who may take his place upon the throne, to the end that the
common weal remain not in peril, neglected and without a head. That is
why on the last occasion we deemed it useful to put off this matter, in
order that each of ye might come hither and submit to the assembly the
opinion with which God should have inspired him, and that from all those
sentiments might be drawn what is the general will. Here be we
assembled: let us, then, be guided by our wisdom and our good faith to
act in such sort that hatred stifle not reason, and affection distort not
truth. We be not ignorant that Charles hath his partisans, who maintain
that he ought to come to the throne transmitted to him by his relatives.
But if we examine this question, the throne is not acquired by hereditary
right, and we be bound to place at the head of the kingdom none but him
who not only hath the distinction of corporeal nobility, but hath also
honor to recommend him and magnanimity to rest upon. We read in the
annals that to emperors of illustrious race, whom their own laches caused
to fall from power, succeeded others, at one time similar, at another
different; but what dignity could we confer on Charles, who hath not
honor for his guide, who is enfeebled by lethargy, and who, finally, hath
lost head so far that he hath no shame in serving a foreign king, and in
misuniting himself to a woman taken from the rank of the knights his
vassals? How could the puissant duke brook that a woman issuing from a
family of his vassals should become queen, and have dominion over him?
How could he walk behind her whose equals and even superiors bend the
knee before him and place their hands beneath his feet? Examine
carefully into the matter, and consider that Charles hath been rejected
more through his own fault than that of others. Decide ye rather for the
good than the ill of the common weal. If ye wish it ill, make Charles
sovereign; if ye hold to its prosperity, crown Hugh, the illustrious
duke. Let attachment to Charles seduce nobody, and let hatred towards
the duke distract nobody, from the common interest. . . . Give us
then, for our head, the duke, who has deeds, nobility, and troops to
recommend him; the duke, in whom ye will find a defender not only of
the common weal, but also of your private interests. Thanks to his
benevolence, ye will have in him a father. Who hath had recourse to him
and hath not found protection? Who, that hath been torn from the care of
home, hath not been restored thereto by him?'

"This opinion having been proclaimed and well received, Duke Hugh was
unanimously raised to the throne, crowned on the 1st of July by the
metropolitan and the other bishops, and recognized as king by the Gauls,
the Britons, the Normans, the Aquitanians, the Goths, the Spaniards, and
the Gascons. Surrounded by the grandees of the kingdom, he passed
decrees and promulgated laws according to royal custom, regulating
successfully and disposing of all matters. That he might deserve so
much good fortune, and under the inspiration of so many prosperous
circumstances, he gave himself up to deep piety. Wishing to have a
certainty of leaving, after his death, an heir to the throne, he
conferred with his grandees, and after holding council with them he first
sent a deputation to the metropolitan of Rheims, who was then at Orleans,
and subsequently went himself to see him touching the association of his
son Robert with himself upon the throne. The archbishop having told him
that two kings could not be, regularly, created in one and the same year,
he immediately showed a letter sent by Borel, duke of inner Spain,
proving that that duke requested help against the barbarians. . . .
The metropolitan, seeing advantage was likely to result, ultimately
yielded to the king's reasons; and when the grandees were assembled, at
the festival of our Lord's nativity, to celebrate the coronation, Hugh
assumed the purple, and he crowned solemnly, in the basilica of Sainte-
Croix, his son Robert, amidst the acclamations of the French."

[Illustration: Hugh Capet elected King----300]

Thus was founded the dynasty of the Capetians, under the double influence
of German manners and feudal connections. Amongst the ancient Germans
royal heirship was generally confined to one and the same family; but
election was often joined with heirship, and had more than once thrust
the latter aside. Hugh Capet was head of the family which was the most
illustrious in his time and closest to the throne, on which the personal
merits of Counts Eudes and Robert had already twice seated it. He was
also one of the greatest chieftains of feudal society, duke of the
country which was already called France, and count of Paris--of that city
which Clovis, after his victories, had chosen as the centre of his
dominions. In view of the Roman rather than Germanic pretensions of the
Carlovingian heirs and of their admitted decay, the rise of Hugh Capet
was the natural consequence of the principal facts as well as of the
manners of the period, and the crowning manifestation of the new social
condition in France, that is, feudalism. Accordingly the event reached
completion and confirmation without any great obstacle. The
Carlovingian, Charles of Lorraine, vainly attempted to assert his rights;
but after some gleams of success, he died in 992, and his descendants
fell, if not into obscurity, at least into political insignificance. In
vain, again, did certain feudal lords, especially in Southern France,
refuse for some time their adhesion to Hugh Capet. One of them,
Adalbert, count of Perigord, has remained almost famous for having made
to Hugh Capet's question, "Who made thee count?" the proud answer, "Who
made thee king?" The pride, however, of Count Adalbert had more bark
than bite. Hugh possessed that intelligent and patient moderation,
which, when a position is once acquired, is the best pledge of
continuance. Several facts indicate that he did not underestimate the
worth and range of his title of king. At the same time that by getting
his son Robert crowned with him he secured for his line the next
succession, he also performed several acts which went beyond the limits
of his feudal domains, and proclaimed to all the kingdom the presence of
the king. But those acts were temperate and wise; and they paved the way
for the future without anticipating it. Hugh Capet confined himself
carefully to the sphere of his recognized rights as well as of his
effective strength, and his government remained faithful to the character
of the revolution which had raised him to the throne, at the same time
that it gave warning of the future progress of royalty independently of
and over the head of feudalism. When he died, on the 24th of October,
996, the crown, which he hesitated, they say, to wear on his own head,
passed without obstacle to his son Robert, and the course which was to be
followed for eight centuries, under the government of his descendants, by
civilization in France, began to develop itself.

[Illustration: "Who made thee King?"----302]

It has already been pointed out, in the case of Adalberon, archbishop of
Rheims, what part was taken by the clergy in this second change of
dynasty; but the part played by it was so important and novel that we
must make a somewhat more detailed acquaintance with the real character
of it and the principal actor in it. When, in 751, Pepin the Short
became king in the place of the last Merovingian, it was, as we have
seen, Pope Zachary who decided that "it was better to give the title of
king to him who really exercised the sovereign power than to him who bore
only its name." Three years later, in 754, it was Pope Stephen II. who
came over to France to anoint King Pepin, and, forty-six years
afterwards, in 800, it was Pope Leo III. who proclaimed Charlemagne
emperor of the West. From the Papacy, then, on the accession of the
Carlovingians, came the principal decisions and steps. The reciprocal
services rendered one to the other by the two powers, and still more,
perhaps, the similarity of their maxims as to the unity of the empire,
established between the Papacy and the Carlovingians strong ties of
gratitude and policy; and, accordingly, when the Carlovingian dynasty was
in danger, the court of Rome was grieved and troubled; it was hard for
her to see the fall of a dynasty for which she had done so much and which
had done so much for her. Far, then, from aiding the accession of the
new dynasty, she showed herself favorable to the old, and tried to save
it without herself becoming too deeply compromised. Such was, from 985
to 996, the attitude of Pope John XVI., at the crisis which placed Hugh
Capet upon the throne. In spite of this policy on the part of the
Papacy, the French Church took the initiative in the event, and supported
the new king; the Archbishop of Rheims affirmed the right of the people
to accomplish a change of dynasty, and anointed Hugh Capet and his son
Robert. The accession of the Capetians was a work independent of all
foreign influence, and strictly national, in Church as well as in State.

The authority of Adalberon was of great weight in the matter. As
archbishop he was full of zeal, and at the same time of wisdom in
ecclesiastical administration. Engaging in politics, he showed boldness
in attempting a great change in the state, and ability in carrying it out
without precipitation as well as without hesitation. He had for his
secretary and teacher a simple priest of Auvergne, who exercised over
this enterprise an influence more continuous and still more effectual
than that of his archbishop. Gerbert, born at Aurillac, and brought up
in the monastery of St. Geraud, had, when he was summoned to the
directorate of the school of Rheims, already made a trip to Spain,
visited Rome, and won the esteem of Pope John XIII. and of the Emperor
Otho II., and had thus had a close view of the great personages and great
questions, ecclesiastical and secular, of his time. On his establishment
at Rheims, he pursued a double course with a double end: he was fond of
study, science, and the investigation of truth, but he had also a taste
for the sphere of politics and of the world; he excelled in the art of
instructing, but also in the art of pleasing; and the address of the
courtier was in him united with the learning of the doctor. His was a
mind lofty, broad, searching, prolific, open to conviction, and yet
inclined to give way, either from calculation or attraction, to contrary
ideas, but certain to recur, under favorable circumstances, to its
original purpose. There was in him almost as much changeableness as zeal
for the cause he embraced. He espoused and energetically supported the
elevation of a new dynasty and the independence of the Roman Church. He
was very active in the cause of Hugh Capet; but he was more than once on
the point of going over to King Lothaire or to the pretender Charles of
Lorraine. He was in his time, even more resolutely than Bossuet in the
seventeenth century, the defender and practiser of what have since been
called the liberties of the Gallican Church, and in 992 he became, on
this ground, Archbishop of Rheims; but, after having been interdicted, in
995, by Pope John XVI., from the exercise of his episcopal functions in
France, he obtained, in 998, from Pope Gregory V., the archbishopric of
Ravenna in Italy, and the favor of Otho III. was not unconnected, in
999, with his elevation to the Holy See, which he occupied for four
years, with the title of Sylvester II., whilst putting in practice, but
with moderation and dignity, maxims very different from those which he
had supported, fifteen years before, as a French bishop. He became, at
this later period of his life, so much the more estranged from France in
that he was embroiled with Hugh Capet's son and successor, King Robert,
whose quondam preceptor he had been and of whose marriage with Queen
Bertha, widow of Eudes, count of Blois, he had honestly disapproved.

[Illustration: Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester II----304]

In 995, just when he had been interdicted by Pope John X VI. from his
functions as Archbishop of Rheims, Gerbert wrote to the abbot and
brethren of the monastery of St. Geraud, where he had been brought up,
"And now farewell to your holy community; farewell to those whom I knew
in old times, or who were connected with me by blood, if there still
survive any whose names, if not their features, have remained upon my
memory. Not that I have forgotten them through pride; but I am broken
down, and--if it must be said--changed by the ferocity of barbarians;
what I learned in my boyhood I forgot in my youth; what I desired in my
youth, I despised in my old age. Such are the fruits thou hast borne for
me, O pleasure! Such are the joys afforded by the honors of the world!
Believe my experience of it: the higher the great are outwardly raised by
glory, the more cruel is their inward anguish!"

Length of life brings, in the soul of the ambitious, days of hearty
undeception; but it does not discourage them from their course of
ambition. Gerbert was, amongst the ambitious, at the same time one of
the most exalted in point of intellect and one of the most persistent as
well as restless in attachment to the affairs of the world.


From 996 to 1108, the first three successors of Hugh Capet, his son
Robert, his grandson Henry I., and his great-grandson Philip I., sat upon
the throne of France; and during this long space of one hundred and
twelve years the kingdom of France had not, sooth to say, any history.
Parcelled out, by virtue of the feudal system, between a multitude of
princes, independent, isolated, and scarcely sovereigns in their own
dominions, keeping up anything like frequent intercourse only with their
neighbors, and loosely united, by certain rules or customs of vassalage,
to him amongst them who bore the title of king, the France of the
eleventh century existed in little more than name: Normandy, Brittany,
Burgundy, Aquitaine, Poitou, Anjou, Flanders, and Nivernais were the real
states and peoples, each with its own distinct life and history. One
single event, the Crusade, united, towards the end of the century, those
scattered sovereigns and peoples in one common idea and one combined
action. Up to that point, then, let us conform to the real state of the
case, and faithfully trace out the features of the epoch, without
attempting to introduce a connection and a combination which did not
exist; and let us pass briefly in review the isolated events and
personages which are still worthy of remembrance, and which have remained
historic without having belonged exactly to a national history. Amongst
events of this kind, one, the conquest of England, in 1066, by William
the Bastard, duke of Normandy, was so striking, and exercised so much
influence over the destinies of France, that, in the incoherent and
disconnected picture of this eleventh century, particular attention must
first be drawn to the consequences, as regarded France, of that great
Norman enterprise.

After the sagacious Hugh Capet, the first three Capetians, Robert,
Henry I., and Philip I., were very mediocre individuals, in character
as well as intellect; and their personal insignificance was one of the
causes that produced the emptiness of French history under their sway.
Robert lacked neither physical advantages nor moral virtues: "He had a
lofty figure," says his biographer Helgaud, archbishop of Bourgcs, "hair
smooth and well arranged, a modest eye, a pleasant and gentle mouth, a
tolerably furnished beard, and high shoulders. He was versed in all the
sciences, philosopher enough and an excellent musician, and so devoted to
sacred literature that he never passed a day without reading the Psalter
and praying to the Most High God together with St. David." He composed
several hymns which were adopted by the Church, and, during a pilgrimage
he made to Rome, he deposited upon the altar of St. Peter his own Latin
poems set to music. "He often went to the church of St. Denis, clad in
his royal robes and with his crown on his head; and he there conducted
the singing at matins, mass, and vespers, chanting with the monks and
himself calling upon them to sing. When he sat in the consistory, he
voluntarily styled himself the bishops' client." Two centuries later,
St. Louis proved that the virtues of the saint are not incompatible with
the qualities of the king; but the former cannot form a substitute for
the latter, and the qualities of king were to seek in Robert. He was
neither warrior nor politician; there is no sign that he ever gathered
about him, to discuss affairs of state, the laic barons together with the
bishops, and when he interfered in the wars of the great feudal lords,
notably in Burgundy and Flanders, it was with but little energy and to
but little purpose. He was hardly more potent in his family than in his
kingdom. It has already been mentioned that, in spite of his preceptor
Gerbert's advice, he had espoused Bertha, widow of Eudes, count of Blois,
and he loved her dearly; but the marriage was assailed by the Church, on
the ground of kinship. Robert offered resistance, but afterwards gave
way before the excommunication pronounced by Pope Gregory V., and then
espoused Constance daughter of William Taillefer, count of Toulouse; and
forth-with, says the chronicler Raoul Glaber, "were seen pouring into
France and Burgundy, because of this queen, the most vain and most
frivolous of all men, coming from Aquitaine and Auvergne. They were
outlandish and outrageous equally in their manners and their dress, in
their arms and the appointments of their horses; their hair came only
half way down their head; they shaved their beards like actors; they wore
boots and shoes that were not decent; and, lastly, neither fidelity nor
security was to be looked for in any of their ties. Alack! that nation
of Franks, which was wont to be the most virtuous, and even the people of
Burgundy, too, were eager to follow these criminal examples, and before
long they reflected only too faithfully the depravity and infamy of their
models." The evil amounted to something graver than a disturbance of
court-fashions. Robert had by Constance three sons, Hugh, Henry, and
Robert. First the eldest, and afterwards his two brothers, maddened by
the bad character and tyrannical exactions of their mother, left the
palace, and withdrew to Dreux and Burgundy, abandoning themselves, in the
royal domains and the neighborhood, to all kinds of depredations and
excesses. Reconciliation was not without great difficulty effected; and,
indeed, peace was never really restored in the royal family. Peace was
everywhere the wish and study of King Robert; but he succeeded better in
maintaining it with his neighbors than with his children. In 1006, he
was on the point of having a quarrel with Henry II., emperor of Germany,
who was more active and enterprising, but fortunately not less pious,
than himself. The two sovereigns resolved to have an interview at the
Meuse, the boundary of their dominions. "The question amongst their
respective followings was, which of the two should cross the river to
seek audience on the other bank, that is, in the other's dominions; this
would be a humiliation, it was said. The two learned princes remembered
this saying of Eclesiasticus: 'The greater thou art, the humbler be thou
in all things.' The emperor, therefore, rose up early in the morning,
and crossed, with some of his people, into the French king's territory.
They embraced with cordiality; the bishops, as was proper, celebrated the
sacrament of the mass, and they afterwards sat down to dinner. When the
meal was over, King Robert offered Henry immense presents of gold and
silver and precious stones, and a hundred horses richly caparisoned, each
carrying a cuirass and a helmet; and he added that all that the emperor
did not accept of these gifts would be so much deducted from their
friendship. Henry, seeing the generosity of his friend, took of the
whole only a book containing the Holy Gospel, set with gold and precious
stones, and a golden amulet, wherein was a tooth of St. Vincent, priest
and martyr. The empress, likewise, accepted only two golden cups. Next
day, King Robert crossed with his bishops into the territories of the
emperor, who received him magnificently, and, after dinner, offered him a
hundred pounds of pure gold. The king, in his turn, accepted only two
golden cups; and, after having ratified their pact of friendship, they
returned each to his own dominions."

[Illustration: NOTRE DAME----310]

Let us add to this summary of Robert's reign some facts which are
characteristic of the epoch. In A.D. 1000, in consequence of the sense
attached to certain words in the Sacred Books, many Christians expected
the end of the world. The time of expectation was full of anxieties;
plagues, famines, and divers accidents which then took place in divers
quarters, were an additional aggravation; the churches were crowded;
penances, offerings, absolutions, all the forms of invocation and
repentance multiplied rapidly; a multitude of souls, in submission or
terror, prepared to appear before their Judge. And after what
catastrophes? In the midst of what gloom or of what light? These were
fearful questions, of which men's imaginations were exhausted in
forestalling the solution. When the last day of the tenth and the first
of the eleventh centuries were past, it was like a general regeneration;
it might have been said that time was beginning over again; and the work
was commenced of rendering the Christian world worthy of the future.
"Especially in Italy and in Gaul," says the chronicler Raoul Glaber, "men
took in hand the reconstruction of the basilicas, although the greater
part had no need thereof. Christian peoples seemed to vie one with
another which should erect the most beautiful. It was as if the world,
shaking itself together and casting off its old garments, would have
decked itself with the white robes of Christ." Christian art, in its
earliest form of the Gothic style, dates from this epoch; the power and
riches of the Christian Church, in its different institutions, received,
at this crisis of the human imagination, a fresh impulse.

Other facts, some lamentable and some salutary, began, about this epoch,
to assume in French history a place which was destined before long to
become an important one. Piles of fagots were set up, first at Orleans
and then at Toulouse, for the punishment of heretics. The heretics of
the day were Manicheans. King Robert and Queen Constance sanctioned by
their presence this return to human sacrifices offered to God as a
penalty inflicted on mental offenders against His word. At the same time
a double portion of ire blazed forth against the Jews. "What have we to
do," it was said, "with going abroad to make war on Mussulmans? Have we
not in the very midst of us the greatest enemies of Jesus Christ?"
Amongst Christians acts of oppression and violence on the part of the
great against the small became so excessive and so frequent that they
excited in country parts, particularly in Normandy, insurrections which
the insurgents tried to organize into permanent resistance. "In several
counties of Normandy," says William of Jumieges, "all the peasants,
meeting in conventicles, resolved to live according to their own wills
and their own laws, not only in the heart of the forests, but also on the
borders of the rivers, and without care for any established rights. To
accomplish this design, these mobs of madmen elected each two deputies,
who were to form, at the central point, an assembly charged with the
execution of their decrees. So soon as the duke (Richard II.) was
informed thereof, he sent a large body of armed men to suppress this
audacity in the country parts, and to disperse this rustic assembly.
In execution of his orders, the deputies of the peasantry and many other
rebels were forthwith arrested; their feet and hands were cut off, and
they were sent home thus mutilated to deter their fellows from such
enterprises, and to render them more prudent, for fear of worse. After
this experience, the peasants gave up their meetings and returned to
their ploughs."

[Illustration: Knights returning from Foray----311]

This is a literal translation of the monkish chronicler, who was far from
favorable to the insurgent peasants, and was more for applauding the
suppression than justifying the insurrection. The suppression, though
undoubtedly effectual for the moment, and in the particular spots it
reached, produced no general or lasting effect. About a century after
the cold recital of William of Jumieges, a poet-chronicler, Robert Wace,
in his _Romance of Rou_, a history in verse of Rollo and the first dukes
of Normandy, related the same facts with far more sympathetic feeling and
poetical coloring. "The lords do us nought but ill," he makes the Norman
peasants say; "with them we have nor gain nor profit from our labors;
every day is, for us, a day of suffering, toil, and weariness; every day
we have our cattle taken from us for road-work and forced service. We
have plaints and grievances, old and new exactions, pleas and processes
without end, money-pleas, market-pleas, road-pleas, forest-pleas,
mill-pleas, black-mail-pleas, watch-and-ward-pleas. There are so many
provosts, bailiffs, and sergeants, that we have not one hour's peace; day
by day they run us down, seize our movables, and drive us from our lands.
There is no security for us against the lords; and no pact is binding
with them. Why suffer all this evil to be done to us and not get out of
our plight? Are we not men even as they are? Have we not the same
stature, the same limbs, the same strength--for suffering? All we need
is courage. Let us, then, bind ourselves together by an oath: let us
swear to support one another; and if they will make war on us, have we
not, for one knight, thirty or forty young peasants, nimble and ready to
fight with club, with boar-spear, with arrow, with axe, and even with
stones if they have not weapons? Let us learn to resist the knights, and
we shall be free to cut down trees, to hunt and fish after our fashion,
and we shall work our will in flood and field and wood."

[Illustration: Knights and Peasants----312]

Here we have no longer the short account and severe estimate of an
indifferent spectator; it is the cry of popular rage and vengeance
reproduced by the lively imagination of an angered poet. Undoubtedly the
Norman peasants of the twelfth century did not speak of their miseries
with such descriptive ability and philosophical feeling as were lent to
them by Robert Wace; they did not meditate the democratic revolution of
which he attributes to them the idea and almost the plan; but the deeds
of violence and oppression against which they rose were very real, and
they exerted themselves to escape by reciprocal violence from intolerable
suffering. Thence date those alternations of demagogic revolt and
tyrannical suppression which have so often ensanguined the land and put
in peril the very foundations of social order. Insurrections became of
so atrocious a kind that the atrocious chastisements with which they were
visited seemed equally natural and necessary. It needed long ages, a
repetition of civil wars and terrible political shocks, to put an end to
this brutal chaos which gave birth to so many evils and reciprocal
crimes, and to bring about, amongst the different classes of the French
population, equitable and truly human relations.

So quick-spreading and contagious is evil amongst men, and so difficult
to extirpate in the name of justice and truth!

However, even in the midst of this cruel egotism and this gross unreason
of the tenth and eleventh centuries, the necessity, from a moral and
social point of view, of struggling against such disgusting
irregularities, made itself felt, and found zealous advocates. From this
epoch are to be dated the first efforts to establish, in different parts
of France, what was called God's peace, God's truce. The words were well
chosen for prohibiting at the same time oppression and revolt, for it
needed nothing less than law and the voice of God to put some restraint
upon the barbarous manners and passions of men, great or small, lord or
peasant. It is the peculiar and glorious characteristic of Christianity
to have so well understood the primitive and permanent evil in human
nature that it fought against all the great iniquities of mankind and
exposed them in principle, even when, in point of general practice, it
neither hoped nor attempted to sweep them away. Bishops, priests, and
monks were, in their personal lives and in the councils of the Church,
the first propagators of God's peace or truce, and in more than one
locality they induced the laic lords to follow their lead. In 1164, Hugh
II., count of Rodez, in concert with his brother Hugh, bishop of Rodez,
and the notables of the district, established the peace in the diocese of
Rodez; "and this it is," said the learned Benedictines of the eighteenth
century, in the Art of Verifying Dates, "which gave rise to the toll of
_commune paix_ or _pesade,_ which is still collected in Rouergue." King
Robert always showed himself favorable to this pacific work; and he is
the first amongst the five kings of France, in other respects very
different,--himself, St. Louis, Louis XII, Henry IV., and Louis XVI.,--
who were particularly distinguished for sympathetic kindness and anxiety
for the popular welfare. Robert had a kindly feeling for the weak and
poor; not only did he protect them, on occasion, against the powerful,
but he took pains to conceal their defaults, and, in his church and at
his table, he suffered himself to be robbed without complaint, that he
might not have to denounce and punish the robbers. "Wherefore at his
death," says his biographer Helgaud, "there were great mourning and
intolerable grief; a countless number of widows and orphans sorrowed for
the many benefits received from him; they did beat their breasts and went
to and from his tomb, crying, 'Whilst Robert was king and ordered all, we
lived in peace, we had nought to fear. May the soul of that pious
father, that father of the senate, that father of all good, be blest and
saved! May it mount up and dwell forever with Jesus Christ, the King of

[Illustration: Robert had a Kindly Feeling for the Weak and Poor----313]

Though not so pious or so good as Robert, his son, Henry I., and his
grandson, Philip I., were neither more energetic nor more glorious kings.
During their long reigns (the former from 1031 to 1060, and the latter
from 1060 to 1108) no important and well-prosecuted design distinguished
their government. Their public life was passed at one time in petty
warfare, without decisive results, against such and such vassals; at
another in acts of capricious intervention in the quarrels of their
vassals amongst themselves. Their home-life was neither less irregular
nor conducted with more wisdom and regard for the public interest. King
Robert had not succeeded in keeping his first wife, Bertha of Burgundy;
and his second, Constance of Aquitaine, with her imperious, malevolent,
avaricious, meddlesome disposition, reduced him to so abject a state that
he never gave a gratuity to any of his servants without saying, "Take
care that Constance know nought of it." After Robert's death, Constance,
having become regent for her eldest son, Henry I., forthwith conspired to
dethrone him, and to put in his place her second son, Robert, who was her
favorite. Henry, on being delivered by his mother's death from her
tyranny and intrigues, was thrice married; but his first two marriages
with two German princesses, one the daughter of the Emperor Conrad the
Salic, the other of the Emperor Henry III., were so far from happy that
in 1051 he sent into Russia, to Kieff, in search of his third wife, Anne,
daughter of the Czar Yaroslaff the Halt. She was a modest creature who
lived quietly up to the death of her husband in 1060, and, two years
afterwards, in the reign of her son Philip I., rather than return to her
own country, married Raoul, count of Valois, who put away, to marry her,
his second wife, Haqueney, called Eleonore. The divorce was opposed at
Rome before Pope Alexander II., to whom the archbishop of Rheims wrote
upon the subject, "Our kingdom is the scene of great troubles. The
queen-mother has espoused Count Raoul, which has mightily displeased the
king. As for the lady whom Raoul has put away, we have recognized the
justice of the complaints she has preferred before you, and the falsity
of the pre-texts on which he put her away." The Pope ordered the count
to take back his wife; Raoul would not obey, and was excommunicated; but
he made light of it, and the Princess Anne of Russia, actually
reconciled, apparently, to Philip I., lived tranquilly in France, where,
in 1075, shortly after the death of her second husband, Count Raoul her
signature was still attached to a charter side by side with that of the
king her son.

The marriages of Philip I. brought even more trouble and scandal than
those of his father and grandfather. At nineteen years of age, in 1072,
he had espoused Bertha, daughter of Florent I., count of Holland, and in
1078 he had by her the son who was destined to succeed him with the title
of Louis the Fat. But twenty years later, 1092, Philip took a dislike to
his wife, put her away and banished her to Montreuil-sur-Mer, on the
ground of prohibited consanguinity. He had conceived, there is no
knowing when, a violent passion for a woman celebrated for her beauty,
Bertrade, the fourth wife, for three years past, of Foulques le Roehin
(the brawler), count of Anjou. Philip, having thus packed off Bertha,
set out for Tours, where Bertrade happened to be with her husband.
There, in the church of St. John, during the benediction of the baptismal
fonts, they entered into mutual engagements. Philip went away again;
and, a few days afterwards, Bertrade was carried off by some people he
had left in the neighborhood of Tours, and joined him at Orleans. Nearly
all the bishops of France, and amongst others the most learned and
respected of them, Yves, bishop of Chartres, refused their benediction to
this shocking marriage; and the king had great difficulty in finding a
priest to render him that service. Then commenced between Philip and the
heads of the Catholic Church, Pope and bishops, a struggle which, with
negotiation upon negotiation and excommunication upon excommunication,
lasted twelve years, without the king's being able to get his marriage
canonically recognized; and, though he promised to send away Bertrade, he
was not content with merely keeping her with him, but he openly jeered at
excommunication and interdicts. "It was the custom," says William of
Malmesbury, "at the places where the king sojourned, for divine service
to be stopped; and, as soon as he was moving away, all the bells began to
peal. And then Philip would cry, as he laughed like one beside himself,
'Dost hear, my love, how they are ringing us out?'" At last, in 1104,
the Bishop of Chartres himself, wearied by the persistency of the king
and by sight of the trouble in which the prolongation of the interdict
was plunging the kingdom, wrote to the Pope, Pascal II., "I do not
presume to offer you advice; I only desire to warn you that it were well
to show for a while some condescension towards the weaknesses of the man,
so far as consideration for his salvation may permit, and to rescue the
country from the critical state to which it is reduced by the
excommunication of this prince." The Pope, consequently, sent
instructions to the bishops of the realm; and they, at the king's
summons, met at Paris on the 1st of December, 1104. One of them,
Lambert, bishop of Arras, wrote to the Pope, "We sent as a deputation
to the king the bishops John of Orleans and Galon of Paris, charged to
demand of him whether he would conform to the clauses and conditions set
forth in your letters, and whether he were determined to give up the
unlawful intercourse which had made him guilty before God. The king,
having answered, without being disconcerted, that he was ready to make
atonement to God and the holy Roman Church, was introduced to the
assembly. He came barefooted, in a posture of devotion and humility,
confessing his sin and promising to purge him of his excommunication by
expiatory deeds. And thus, by your authority, he earned absolution.
Then laying his hand on the book of the holy Gospels, he took an oath,
in the following terms, to renounce his guilty and unlawful marriage:
'Hearken, thou Lambert, bishop of Arras, who art here in place of the
Apostolic Pontiff; and let the archbishops and bishops here present
hearken unto me. I, Philip, king of the French, do promise not to go
back to my sin, and to break off wholly the criminal intercourse I have
heretofore kept up with Bertrade. I do promise that henceforth I will
have with her no intercourse or companionship, save in the presence of
persons beyond suspicion. I will observe, faithfully and without turning
aside, these promises, in the sense set forth in the letters of the Pope,
and as ye understand. So help me God and these holy Gospels!' Bertrade,
at the moment of her release from excommunication, took in person the
same oath on the holy Gospels."

According to the statement of the learned Benedictines who studiously
examined into this incident, it is doubtful whether Philip I. broke off
all intercourse with Bertrade. "Two years after his absolution, on the
10th of October, 1106, he arrived at Angers, on a Wednesday," says a
contemporary chronicler, "accompanied by the queen named Bertrade, and
was there received by Count Foulques and by all the Angevines, cleric and
laic, with great honors. The day after his arrival, on Thursday, the
monks of St. Nicholas, introduced by the queen, presented themselves
before the king, and humbly prayed him, in concert with the queen, to
countenance, for the salvation of his soul and of the queen and his
relatives and friends, all acquisitions made by them in his dominions, or
that they might hereafter make, by gift or purchase, and to be pleased to
place his seal on their titles to property. And the king granted their

The most complete amongst the chroniclers of the time, Orderic Vital,
says, touching this meeting at Angers of Bertrade's two husbands, "This
clever woman had, by her skilful management, so perfectly reconciled
these two rivals, that she made them a splendid feast, got them both to
sit at the same table, had their beds prepared, the ensuing night, in the
same chamber, and ministered to them according to their pleasure." The
most judicious of the historians and statesmen of the twelfth century,
the Abby Suger, that faithful minister of Louis the Fat, who cannot be
suspected of favoring Bertrade, expresses himself about her in these
terms: "This sprightly and rarely accomplished woman, well versed in the
art, familiar to her sex, of holding captive the husbands they have
outraged, had acquired such an empire over her first husband, the count
of Anjou, in spite of the affront she had put upon him by deserting him,
that he treated her with homage as his sovereign, often sat upon a stool
at her feet, and obeyed her wishes by a sort of enchantment."

These details are textually given as the best representation of the place
occupied, in the history of that time, by the morals and private life of
the kings. It would not be right, however, to draw therefrom conclusions
as to the abasement of Capetian royalty in the eleventh century, with too
great severity. There are irregularities and scandals which the great
qualities and the personal glory of princes may cause to be not only
excused but even forgotten, though certainly the three Capetians who
immediately succeeded the founder of the dynasty offered their people no
such compensation; but it must not be supposed that they had fallen into
the plight of the sluggard Merovingians or the last Carlovingians,
wandering almost without a refuge. A profound change had come over
society and royalty in France. In spite of their political mediocrity
and their indolent licentiousness, Robert, Henry I., and Philip I., were
not, in the eleventh century, insignificant personages, without authority
or practical influence, whom their contemporaries could leave out of the
account; they were great lords, proprietors of vast domains wherein they
exercised over the population an almost absolute power; they had, it is
true, about them, rivals, large proprietors and almost absolute
sovereigns, like themselves, sometimes stronger even, materially, than
themselves and more energetic or more intellectually able, whose
superiors, however, they remained on two grounds--as suzerains and as
kings: their court was always the most honored and their alliance always
very much sought after. They occupied the first rank in feudal society
and a rank unique in the body politic such as it was slowly becoming in
the midst of reminiscences and traditions of the Jewish monarchy, of
barbaric kingship, and of the Roman empire for a while resuscitated by
Charlemagne. French kingship in the eleventh century was sole power
invested with a triple character--Germanic, Roman, and religious; its
possessors were at the same time the chieftains of the conquerors of the
soil, the successors of the Roman emperors and of Charlemagne, and the
laic delegates and representatives of the God of the Christians.
Whatever were their weaknesses and their personal short-comings, they
were not the mere titularies of a power in decay, and the kingly post was
strong and full of blossoms, as events were not slow to demonstrate.

And as with the kingship, so with the community of France in the eleventh
century. In spite of its dislocation into petty incoherent and turbulent
associations, it was by no means in decay. Irregularities of ambition,
hatreds and quarrels amongst neighbors and relatives, outrages on the
part of princes and peoples were incessantly renewed; but energy of
character, activity of mind, indomitable will and zeal for the liberty of
the individual were not wanting, and they exhibited themselves
passionately and at any risk, at one time by brutal and cynical outbursts
which were followed occasionally by fervent repentance and expiation, at
another by acts of courageous wisdom and disinterested piety. At the
commencement of the eleventh century, William III., count of Poitiers and
duke of Aquitaine, was one of the most honored and most potent princes of
his time; all the sovereigns of Europe sent embassies to him as to their
peer; he every year made, by way of devotion, a trip to Rome, and was
received there with the same honors as the emperor. He was fond of
literature, and gave up to reading the early hours of the night; and
scholars called him another Maecenas. Unaffected by these worldly
successes intermingled with so much toil and so many miscalculations, he
refused the crown of Italy, when it was offered him at the death of the
Emperor Henry II., and he finished, like Charles V. some centuries later,
by going and seeking in a monastery isolation from the world and repose.
But, in the same domains and at the end of the same century, his grandson
William VII. was the most vagabondish, dissolute, and violent of
princes; and his morals were so scandalous that the bishop of Poitiers,
after having warned him to no purpose, considered himself forced to
excommunicate him. The duke suddenly burst into the church, made his way
through the congregation, sword in hand, and seized the prelate by the
hair, saying, "Thou shalt give me absolution or die." The bishop
demanded a moment for reflection, profited by it to pronounce the form of
excommunication, and forthwith bowing his head before the duke, said,
"And now strike!" "I love thee not well enough to send thee to
paradise," answered the duke; and he confined himself to depriving him of
his see. For fury the duke of Aquitaine sometimes substituted insolent
mockery. Another bishop, of Angouleme, who was quite bald, likewise
exhorted him to mend his ways. "I will mend," quoth the duke, "when thou
shalt comb back thy hair to thy pate." Another great lord of the same
century, Foulques the Black, count of Anjou, at the close of an able and
glorious lifetime, had resigned to his son Geoffrey Martel the
administration of his countship. The son, as haughty and harsh towards
his father as towards his subjects, took up arms against him, and bade
him lay aside the outward signs, which he still maintained, of power.
The old man in his wrath recovered the vigor and ability of his youth,
and strove so energetically and successfully against his son that he
reduced him to such subjection as to make him do several miles "crawling
on the ground," says the chronicle, with a saddle on his back, and to
come and prostrate himself at his feet. When Foulques had his son thus
humbled before him, he spurned him with his foot, repeating over and over
again nothing but "Thou'rt beaten, thou'rt beaten!" "Ay, beaten," said
Geoffrey, "but by thee only, because thou art my father; to any other I
am invincible." The anger of the old man vanished at once: he now
thought only how he might console his son for the affront put upon him,
and he gave him back his power, exhorting him only to conduct himself
with more moderation and gentleness towards his subjects. All was
inconsistency and contrast with these robust, rough, hasty souls; they
cared little for belying themselves when they had satisfied the passion
of the moment.

The relations existing between the two great powers of the period, the
laic lords and the monks, were not less bitter or less unstable than
amongst the laics themselves; and when artifice, as often happened, was
employed, it was by no means to the exclusion of violence. About the
middle of the twelfth century, the abbey of Tournus, in Burgundy, had, at
Louhans, a little port where it collected salt-tax, whereof it every year
distributed the receipts to the poor during the first week in Lent.
Girard, count of Macon, established a like toll a little distance off.
The monks of Tournus complained; but he took no notice. A long while
afterwards he came to Tournus with a splendid following, and entered the
church of St. Philibert. He had stopped all alone before the altar to
say his prayers, when a monk, cross in hand, issued suddenly from behind
the altar, and, placing himself before the count, "How hast thou the
audacity," said he, "to enter my monastery and mine house, thou that dost
not hesitate to rob me of my dues?" and, taking Girard by the hair, he
threw him on the ground and belabored him heavily. The count, stupefied
and contrite, acknowledged his injustice, took off the toll that he had
wrongfully put on, and, not content with this reparation, sent to the
church of Tournus a rich carpet of golden and silken tissue. In the
middle of the eleventh century, Adhemar II., viscount of Limoges, had in
his city a quarrel of quite a different sort with the monks of the abbey
of St. Martial. The abbey had fallen into great looseness of discipline
and morals; and the viscount had at heart its reformation. To this end
he entered into concert, at a distance, with Hugh, abbot of Cluni, at
that time the most celebrated and most respected of the monasteries. The
abbot of St. Martial died. Adhemar sent for some monks from Cluni to
come to Limoges, lodged them secretly near his palace, repaired to the
abbey of St. Martial after having had the chapter convoked, and called
upon the monks to proceed at once to the election of a new abbot. A
lively discussion, upon this point, arose between the viscount and the
monks. "We are not ignorant," said one of them to him, "that you have
sent for brethren from Cluni, in order to drive us out and put them in
our places; but you will not succeed." The viscount was furious, seized
by the sleeve the monk who was inveighing, and dragged him by force out
of the monastery. His fellows were frightened, and took to flight; and
Adhemar immediately had the monks from Cluni sent for, and put them in
possession of the abbey. It was a ruffianly proceeding; but the reform
was popular in Limoges and was effected.

These trifling matters are faithful samples of the dominant and
fundamental characteristic of French society during the tenth, eleventh,
and twelfth centuries, the true epoch of the middle ages. It was chaos,
and fermentation within the chaos the slow and rough but powerful and
productive fermentation of unruly life. In ideas, events, and persons
there was a blending of the strongest contrasts: manners were rude and
even savage, yet souls were filled with lofty and tender aspirations; the
authority of religious creeds at one time was on the point of extinction,
yet at another shone forth gloriously in opposition to the arrogance and
brutality of mundane passions; ignorance was profound, and yet here and
there, in the very heart of the mental darkness, gleamed bright centres
of movement and intellectual labor. It was the period when Abelard,
anticipating freedom of thought and of instruction, drew together upon
Mount St. Genevieve thousands of hearers anxious to follow him in the
study of the great problems of Nature and of the destiny of man and the
world. And far away from this throng, in the solitude of the abbey of
Bee, St. Anselm was offering to his monks a Christian and philosophical
demonstration of the existence of God--"faith seeking understanding"
(fides quoerens intellectuan), as he himself used to say. It was the
period, too, when, distressed at the licentiousness which was spreading
throughout the Church as well as lay society, two illustrious monks, St.
Bernard and St. Norbert, not only went preaching everywhere reformation
of morals, but labored at and succeeded in establishing for monastic life
a system of strict discipline and severe austerity. Lastly, it was the
period when, in the laic world, was created and developed the most
splendid fact of the middle ages, knighthood, that noble soaring of
imaginations and souls towards the ideal of Christian virtue and
soldierly honor. It is impossible to trace in detail the origin and
history of that grand fact which was so prominent in the days to which it
belonged, and which is so prominent still in the memories of men; but a
clear notion ought to be obtained of its moral character and its
practical worth. To this end a few pages shall be borrowed from Guizot's
_History of Civilization in France_. Let us first look on at the
admission of a knight, such as took place in the twelfth century. We
will afterwards see what rules of conduct were imposed upon him, not only
according to the oaths which he had to take on becoming knight, but
according to the idea formed of knighthood by the poets of the day, those
interpreters not only of actual life, but of men's sentiments also. We
shall then understand, without difficulty, what influence must have been
exercised, in the souls and lives of men, by such sentiments and such
rules, however great may have been the discrepancy between the knightly
ideal and the general actions and passions of contemporaries.

"The young man, the esquire who aspired to the title of knight, was first
stripped of his clothes and placed in a bath, which was symbolical of
purification. On leaving the bath, he was clothed in a white tunic,
which was symbolical of purity, and a red robe, which was symbolical of
the blood he was bound to shed in the service of the faith, and a black
sagum or close-fitting coat, which was symbolical of the death which
awaited him as well as all men.

"Thus purified and clothed, the candidate observed for four and twenty
hours a strict fast. When evening came, he entered church, and there
passed the night in prayer, sometimes alone, sometimes with a priest and
sponsors, who prayed with him. Next day, his first act was confession;
after confession the priest gave him the communion; after the communion
he attended a mass of the Holy Spirit; and, generally, a sermon touching
the duties of knights and of the new life he was about to enter on. The
sermon over, the candidate advanced to the altar with the knight's sword
hanging from his neck. This the priest took off, blessed, and replaced
upon his neck. The candidate then went and knelt before the lord who was
to arm him knight. 'To what purpose,' the lord asked him, 'do you desire
to enter the order? If to be rich, to take your ease and be held in
honor without doing honor to knighthood, you are unworthy of it, and
would be, to the order of knighthood you received, what the simoniacal
clerk is to the prelacy.' On the young man's reply, promising to acquit
himself well of the duties of knight, the lord granted his request.

"Then drew near knights and sometimes ladies to reclothe the candidate in
all his new array; and they put on him, 1, the spurs; 2, the hauberk or
coat of mail; 3, the cuirass; 4, the armlets and gauntlets; 5, the sword.

[Illustration: "The Accolade."----324]

"He was what was then called adubbed (that is, adopted, according to Du
Cange). The lord rose up, went to him and gave him the accolade or
accolee, three blows with the flat of the sword on the shoulder or nape
of the neck, and sometimes a slap with the palm of the hand on the cheek,
saying, 'In the name of God, St. Michael and St. George, I make thee
knight.' And he sometimes added, 'Be valiant, bold, and loyal.'

"The young man, having been thus armed knight, had his helmet brought to
him; a horse was led up for him; he leaped on its back, generally without
the help of the stirrups, and caracoled about, brandishing his lance and
making his sword flash. Finally he went out of church and caracoled
about on the open, at the foot of the castle, in presence of the people
eager to have their share in the spectacle."

Such was what may be called the outward and material part in the
admission of knights. It shows a persistent anxiety to associate
religion with all the phases of so personal an affair; the sacraments,
the most august feature of Christianity, are mixed up with it; and many
of the ceremonies are, as far as possible, assimilated to the
administration of the sacraments. Let us continue our examination; let
us penetrate to the very heart of knighthood, its moral character, its
ideas, the sentiments which it was the object to impress upon the knight.
Here again the influence of religion will be quite evident.

"The knight had to swear to twenty-six articles. These articles,
however, did not make one single formula, drawn up at one and the same
time and all together; they are a collection of oaths required of knights
at different epochs and in more or less complete fashion from the
eleventh to the fourteenth century. The candidate swore, 1, to fear,
reverence, and serve God religiously, to fight for the faith with all
their might, and to die a thousand deaths rather than ever renounce
Christianity; 2, to serve their sovereign-prince faithfully, and to fight
for him and fatherland right valiantly; 3, to uphold the rights of the
weaker, such as widows, orphans, and damsels, in fair quarrel, exposing
themselves on that account according as need might be, provided it were
not against their own honor or against their king or lawful prince; 4,
that they would not injure any one maliciously, or take what was
another's, but would rather do battle with those who did so; 5, that
greed, pay, gain, or profit should never constrain them to do any deed,
but only glory and virtue; 6, that they would fight for the good and
advantage of the common weal; 7, that they would be bound by and obey the
orders of their generals and captains who had a right to command them; 8,
that they would guard the honor, rank, and order of their comrades, and
that they would neither by arrogance nor by force commit any trespass
against any one of them; 9, that they would never fight in companies
against one, and that they would eschew all tricks and artifices; 10,
that they would wear but one sword, unless they had to fight against two
or more; 11, that in tourney or other sportive contest they would never
use the point of their swords; 12, that being taken prisoner in a
tourney, they would be bound, on their faith and honor, to perform in
every point the conditions of capture, besides being bound to give up to
the victors their arms and horses, if it seemed good to take them, and
being disabled from fighting in war or elsewhere without their leave; 13,
that they would keep faith inviolably with all the world, and especially
with their comrades, upholding their honor and advantage, wholly, in
their absence; 14, that they would love and honor one another, and aid

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