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Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period by Paul Lacroix

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[Illustration: The Queen of Sheba before Solomon

(_Costume of 15th century_.)

Fac-simile of a miniature from the _Breviary_ of the Cardinal Grimani,
attributed to Memling. Bibl. of S. Marc, Venice. (From a copy in the
possession of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot.)

The King inclines his sceptre towards the Queen indicating his
appreciation of her person and her gifts; five ladies attend the Queen and
five of the King's courtiers stand on his right hand.]

Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the
Renaissance Period.

By Paul Lacroix
(Bibliophile Jacob),
Curator of the Imperial Library of the Arsenal, Paris.

Illustrated with
Nineteen Chromolithographic Prints by F. Kellerhoven
and upwards of
_Four Hundred Engravings on Wood_.


The several successive editions of "The Arts of the Middle Ages and Period
of the Renaissance" sufficiently testify to its appreciation by the
public. The object of that work was to introduce the reader to a branch of
learning to which access had hitherto appeared only permitted to the
scientific. That attempt, which was a bold one, succeeded too well not to
induce us to push our researches further. In fact, art alone cannot
acquaint us entirely with an epoch. "The arts, considered in their
generality, are the true expressions of society. They tell us its tastes,
its ideas, and its character." We thus spoke in the preface to our first
work, and we find nothing to modify in this opinion. Art must be the
faithful expression of a society, since it represents it by its works as
it has created them--undeniable witnesses of its spirit and manners for
future generations. But it must be acknowledged that art is only the
consequence of the ideas which it expresses; it is the fruit of
civilisation, not its origin. To understand the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance, it is necessary to go back to the source of its art, and to
know the life of our fathers; these are two inseparable things, which
entwine one another, and become complete one by the other.

The Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages:--this subject is of the
greatest interest, not only to the man of science, but to the man of the
world also. In it, too, "we retrace not only one single period, but two
periods quite distinct one from the other." In the first, the public and
private customs offer a curious mixture of barbarism and civilisation. We
find barbarian, Roman, and Christian customs and character in presence of
each other, mixed up in the same society, and very often in the same
individuals. Everywhere the most adverse and opposite tendencies display
themselves. What an ardent struggle during that long period! and how full,
too, of emotion is its picture! Society tends to reconstitute itself in
every aspect. She wants to create, so to say, from every side, property,
authority, justice, &c., &c., in a word, everything which can establish
the basis of public life; and this new order of things must be established
by means of the elements supplied at once by the barbarian, Roman, and
Christian world--a prodigious creation, the working of which occupied the
whole of the Middle Ages. Hardly does modern society, civilised by
Christianity, reach the fullness of its power, than it divides itself to
follow different paths. Ancient art and literature resuscitates because
custom _insensibly_ takes that direction. Under that influence, everything
is modified both in private and public life. The history of the human race
does not present a subject more vast or more interesting. It is a subject
we have chosen to succeed our first book, and which will be followed by a
similar study on the various aspects of Religious and Military Life.

This work, devoted to the vivid and faithful description of the Manners
and Customs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, answers fully to the
requirements of contemporary times. We are, in fact, no longer content
with the chronological narration and simple nomenclatures which formerly
were considered sufficient for education. We no longer imagine that the
history of our institutions has less interest than that of our wars, nor
that the annals of the humbler classes are irrelevant to those of the
privileged orders. We go further still. What is above all sought for in
historical works nowadays is the physiognomy, the inmost character of past
generations. "How did our fathers live?" is a daily question. "What
institutions had they? What were their political rights? Can you not
place before us their pastimes, their hunting parties, their meals, and
all sorts of scenes, sad or gay, which composed their home life? We should
like to follow them in public and private occupations, and to know their
manner of living hourly, as we know our own."

In a high order of ideas, what great facts serve as a foundation to our
history and that of the modern world! We have first royalty, which, weak
and debased under the Merovingians, rises and establishes itself
energetically under Pepin and Charlemagne, to degenerate under Louis le
Debonnaire and Charles le Chauve. After having dared a second time to
found the Empire of the Caesars, it quickly sees its sovereignty replaced
by feudal rights, and all its rights usurped by the nobles, and has to
struggle for many centuries to recover its rights one by one.

Feudalism, evidently of Germanic origin, will also attract our attention,
and we shall draw a rapid outline of this legislation, which, barbarian at
the onset, becomes by degrees subject to the rules of moral progress. We
shall ascertain that military service is the essence itself of the "fief,"
and that thence springs feudal right. On our way we shall protest against
civil wars, and shall welcome emancipation and the formation of the
communes. Following the thousand details of the life of the people, we
shall see the slave become serf, and the serf become peasant. We shall
assist at the dispensation of justice by royalty and nobility, at the
solemn sittings of parliaments, and we shall see the complicated details
of a strict ceremonial, which formed an integral part of the law, develop
themselves before us. The counters of dealers, fairs and markets,
manufactures, commerce, and industry, also merit our attention; we must
search deeply into corporations of workmen and tradesmen, examining their
statutes, and initiating ourselves into their business. Fashion and dress
are also a manifestation of public and private customs; for that reason we
must give them particular attention.

And to accomplish the work we have undertaken, we are lucky to have the
conscientious studies of our old associates in the great work of the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance to assist us: such as those of Emile
Begin, Elzear Blaze, Depping, Benjamin Guerard, Le Roux de Lincy, H.
Martin, Mary-Lafon, Francisque Michel, A. Monteil, Rabutau, Ferdinand
Sere, Horace de Viel-Castel, A. de la Villegille, Vallet de Viriville.

As in the volume of the Arts of the Middle Ages, engraving and
chromo-lithography will come to our assistance by reproducing, by means of
strict fac-similes, the rarest engravings of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, and the most precious miniatures of the manuscripts preserved
in the principal libraries of France and Europe. Here again we have the
aid of the eminent artist, M. Kellerhoven, who quite recently found means
of reproducing with so much fidelity the gems of Italian painting.

Paul Lacroix
(Bibliophile Jacob).

Table of Contents.

Condition of Persons and Lands

Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle
Ages.--Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.--Fusion
organized under Charlemagne.--Royal Authority.--Position of the Great
Feudalists.--Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to
Landed Possessions.--Freeman and Tenants.--The Laeti, the Colon, the
Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower
Classes.--Formation of Communities.--Right of Mortmain.

Privileges and Rights (Feudal and Municipal)

Elements of Feudalism.--Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting,
Safe-Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.--Immunity of the
Feudalists.--Dues from the Nobles to their Sovereign.--Law and
University Dues.--Curious Exactions resulting from the Universal System
of Dues.--Struggles to enfranchise the Classes subjected to
Dues.--Feudal Spirit and Citizen Spirit.--Resuscitation of the System of
Ancient Municipalities in Italy, Germany, and France.--Municipal
Institutions and Associations.--The Community.--The Middle-Class Cities
(_Cites Bourgeoises_).--Origin of National Unity.

Private Life in the Castles, the Towns, and the Rural Districts

The Merovingian Castles.--Pastimes of the Nobles: Hunting,
War.--Domestic Arrangements.--Private Life of Charlemagne.--Domestic
Habits under the Carlovingians.--Influence of Chivalry.--Simplicity of
the Court of Philip Augustus not imitated by his Successors.--Princely
Life of the Fifteenth Century.--The bringing up of Latour Landry, a
Noble of Anjou.--Varlets, Pages, Esquires, Maids of Honour.--Opulence of
the Bourgeoisie.--"Le Menagier de Paris."--Ancient Dwellings.--State of
Rustics at various Periods.--"Rustic Sayings," by Noel du Fail.

Food and Cookery

History of Bread.--Vegetables and Plants used in
Cooking.--Fruits.--Butchers' Meat.--Poultry, Game.--Milk, Butter,
Cheese, and Eggs.--Fish and Shellfish.--Beverages: Beer, Cider, Wine,
Sweet Wine, Refreshing Drinks, Brandy.--Cookery.--Soups, Boiled Food,
Pies, Stews, Salads, Roasts, Grills.--Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar,
Verjuice.--Sweets, Desserts, Pastry,--Meals and Feasts.--Rules of
Serving at Table from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries.


Venery and Hawking.--Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle.--Gaston Phoebus and his
Book.--The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen.--Sporting Societies and
Brotherhoods.--Sporting Kings: Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XI.,
Charles VIII., Louis XII., Francis I., &c.--Treatise on
Venery.--Sporting Popes.--Origin of Hawking.--Training Birds.--Hawking
Retinues.--Book of King Modus.--Technical Terms used in
Hawking.--Persons who have excelled in this kind of Sport.--Fowling.

Games and Pastimes

Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.--Games of the Circus.--Animal
Combats.--Daring of King Pepin.--The King's Lions.--Blind Men's
Fights.--Cockneys of Paris.--Champ de Mars.--Cours Plenieres and Cours
Couronnees.--Jugglers, Tumblers, and
Minstrels.--Rope-dancers.--Fireworks.--Gymnastics.--Cards and
Dice.--Chess, Marbles, and Billiards.--La Soule, La Pirouette,
&c.--Small Games for Private Society.--History of Dancing.--Ballet des
Ardents.--The "Orchesographie" (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arbeau.--List
of Dances.


State of Commerce after the Fall of the Roman Empire; its Revival under
the Frankish Kings; its Prosperity under Charlemagne; its Decline down
to the Time of the Crusaders.--The Levant Trade of the
East.--Flourishing State of the Towns of Provence and
Languedoc.--Establishment of Fairs.--Fairs of Landit, Champagne,
Beaucaire, and Lyons.--Weights and Measures.--Commercial Flanders.--Laws
of Maritime Commerce.--Consular Laws.--Banks and Bills of
Exchange.--French Settlements on the Coast of Africa.--Consequences of
the Discovery of America.

Guilds and Trade Corporations

Uncertain Origin of Corporations.--Ancient Industrial Associations.--The
Germanic Guild.--Colleges.--Teutonic Associations.--The Paris Company
for the Transit of Merchandise by Water.--Corporations properly so
called.--Etienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," or the First Code of
Regulations.--The Laws governing Trades.--Public and Private
Organization of Trades Corporations and other Communities.--Energy of
the Corporations.--Masters, Journeymen, Supernumeraries, and
Apprentices.--Religious Festivals and Trade Societies.--Trade Unions.

Taxes, Money, and Finance

Taxes under the Roman Rule.--Money Exactions of the Merovingian
Kings.--Varieties of Money.--Financial Laws under Charlemagne.--Missi
Dominici.--Increase of Taxes owing to the Crusades.--Organization of
Finances by Louis IX.--Extortions of Philip lo Bel.--Pecuniary
Embarrassment of his Successors.--Charles V. re-establishes Order in
Finances.--Disasters of France under Charles VI., Charles VII., and
Jacques Coeur.--Changes in Taxation from Louis XI. to Francis I.--The
Great Financiers.--Florimond Robertet.

Law and the Administration of Justice

The Family the Origin of Government.--Origin of Supreme Power amongst
the Franks.--The Legislation of Barbarism humanised by
Christianity.--Right of Justice inherent to the Right of Property.--The
Laws under Charlemagne.--Judicial Forms.--Witnesses.--Duels,
&c.--Organization of Royal Justice under St. Louis.--The Chatelet and
the Provost of Paris.--Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its
Responsibilities.--The Bailiwicks.--Struggles between Parliament and the
Chatelet.--Codification of the Customs and Usages.--Official
Cupidity.--Comparison between the Parliament and the Chatelet.

Secret Tribunals

The Old Man of the Mountain and his Followers in Syria.--The Castle of
Alamond, Paradise of Assassins.--Charlemagne the Founder of Secret
Tribunals amongst the Saxons.--The Holy Vehme.--Organization of the
Tribunal of the _Terre Rouge_, and Modes adopted in its
Procedures.--Condemnations and Execution of Sentences.--The Truth
respecting the Free Judges of Westphalia.--Duration and Fall of the
Vehmie Tribunal.--Council of Ten, in Venice; its Code and Secret
Decisions.--End of the Council of Ten.


Refinements of Penal Cruelty.--Tortures for different Purposes.--Water,
Screw-boards, and the Rack.--The Executioner.--Female
Executioners.--Tortures.--Amende Honorable.--Torture of Fire, Real and
Feigned.--Auto-da-fe.--Red-hot Brazier or
Basin.--Beheading.--Quartering.--The Wheel.--Garotting.--Hanging.--The
Whip.--The Pillory.--The
of Prisons.--The Iron Cage.--"The Leads" of Venice.


Dispersion of the Jews.--Jewish Quarters in the Mediaeval Towns.--The
_Ghetto_ of Rome.--Ancient Prague.--The _Giudecca_ of Venice.--Condition
of the Jews; Animosity of the People against them; Vexations Treatment
and Severity of the Sovereigns.--The Jews of Lincoln.--The Jews of
Blois.--Mission of the _Pastoureaux_.--Extermination of the Jews.--The
Price at which the Jews purchased Indulgences.--Marks set upon
them.--Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and Financial Aptitude of the
Jews.--Regulations respecting Usury as practised by the
Jews.--Attachment of the Jews to their Religion.

Gipsies, Tramps, Beggars, and Cours des Miracles

First Appearance of Gipsies in the West.--Gipsies in Paris.--Manners and
Customs of these Wandering Tribes.--Tricks of Captain Charles.--Gipsies
expelled by Royal Edict.--Language of Gipsies.--The Kingdom of
Slang.--The Great Coesre, Chief of the Vagrants; his Vassals and
Subjects.--Divisions of the Slang People; its Decay, and the Causes
thereof.--Cours des Miracles.--The Camp of Rogues.--Cunning Language, or
Slang.--Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets.


Origin of Modern Ceremonial.--Uncertainty of French Ceremonial up to the
End of the Sixteenth Century.--Consecration of the Kings of
France.--Coronation of the Emperors of Germany.--Consecration of the
Doges of Venice.--Marriage of the Doge with the Sea.--State Entries of
Sovereigns.--An Account of the Entry of Isabel of Bavaria into
Paris.--Seats of Justice.--Visits of Ceremony between Persons of
Rank.--Mourning.--Social Courtesies.--Popular Demonstrations and
National Commemorations--New Year's Day.--Local Festivals.--_Vins
d'Honneur_.--Processions of Trades.


Influence of Ancient Costume.--Costume in the Fifteenth
Century.--Hair.--Costumes in the Time of Charlemagne.--Origin of Modern
National Dress.--Head-dresses and Beards: Time of St. Louis.--Progress
of Dress: Trousers, Hose, Shoes, Coats, Surcoats, Capes.--Changes in the
Fashions of Shoes and Hoods.--_Livree_.--Cloaks and Capes.--Edicts
against Extravagant Fashions.--Female Dress: Gowns, Bonnets,
Head-dresses, &c.--Disappearance of Ancient Dress.--Tight-fitting
Gowns.--General Character of Dress under Francis I.--Uniformity of

Table of Illustrations.

I. Chromolithographs.

1. The Queen of Sheba before Solomon. Fac-simile of a Miniature from the
Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of the
Fifteenth Century.

2. The Court of Marie of Anjou, Wife of Charles VII. Fac-simile of a
Miniature from the "Douze Perilz d'Enfer." Costumes of the Fifteenth

3. Louis XII. leaving Alexandria, on the 24th April, 1507, to chastise the
City of Genoa. From a Miniature in the "Voyage de Genes" of Jean Marot.

4. A Young Mother's Retinue. Miniature from a Latin "Terence" of Charles
VI. Costumes of the Fourteenth Century.

5. Table Service of a Lady of Quality. Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
"Roman de Renaud de Montauban." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.

6. Ladies Hunting. From a Miniature in a Manuscript Copy of "Ovid's
Epistles." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.

7. A Court Fool. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript of the
Fifteenth Century.

8. The Chess-players. After a Miniature of the "Three Ages of Man." (End
of the Fifteenth Century.)

9. Martyrdom of SS. Crispin and Crepinien. From a Window in the Hopital
des Quinze-Vingts (Fifteenth Century).

10. Settlement of Accounts by the Brotherhood of Charite-Dieu, Rouen, in
1466. A Miniature from the "Livre des Comptes" of this Society (Fifteenth

11. Decapitation of Guillaume de Pommiers and his Confessor at Bordeaux in
1377 ("Chroniques de Froissart").

12. The Jews' Passover. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Missal of the
Fifteenth Century of the School of Van Eyck.

13. Entry of Charles VII. into Paris. A Miniature from the "Chroniques
d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Costumes of the Sixteenth Century.

14. St. Catherine surrounded by the Doctors of Alexandria. A Miniature
from the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of
the Fifteenth Century.

15. Italian Lace-work, in Gold-thread. The Cypher and Arms of Henri III.
(Sixteenth Century).

II. Engravings.

Aigues-Mortes, Ramparts of the Town of
Alms Bag, Fifteenth Century
Amende honorable before the Tribunal
America, Discovery of
Anne of Brittany and the Ladies of her Court
Archer, in Fighting Dress, Fifteenth Century
Arms of Louis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy
Arms, Various, Fifteenth Century

Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's Bailiff,
Sixteenth Century
Baker, The, Sixteenth Century
Balancing, Feats of, Thirteenth Century
Ballet, Representation of a, before Henri
III. and his Court
Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne
" " La Rochelle
" Corporation of Bakers of Arras
" " Bakers of Paris
" " Boot and Shoe
Makers of Issoudun
" Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Montmedy
" Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Tonnerre
" Drapers of Caen
" Harness-makers of Paris
" Nail-makers of Paris
" Pastrycooks of Caen
" " La Rochelle
" " Tonnerre
" Tanners of Vie
" Tilers of Paris
" Weavers of Toulon
" Wheelwrights of Paris
Banquet, Grand, at the Court of France
Barnacle Geese
Barrister, Fifteenth Century
Bastille, The
Bears and other Beasts, how they may be
caught with a Dart
Beggar playing the Fiddle
Bell and Canon Caster
Bird-catching, Fourteenth Century
Bird-piping, Fourteenth Century
Blind and Poor Sick of St. John, Fifteenth
Bob Apple, The Game of
Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece,
Thirteenth Century
Bourbon, Constable de, Trial of, before the
Peers of France
Bourgeois, Thirteenth Century
Brandenburg, Marquis of
Brewer, The, Sixteenth Century
Brotherhood of Death, Member of the
Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, from a
Window of the Fifteenth Century
Burgess at Meals
Burgesses with Hoods, Fourteenth Century
Burning Ballet, The
Butcher, The, Sixteenth Century
Butler at his Duties

Cards for a Game of Piquet, Sixteenth Century
Carlovingian King in his Palace
Carpenter, Fifteenth Century
Carpenter's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece,
Fifteenth Century
Cast to allure Beasts
Castle of Alamond, The
Celtic Monument (the Holy Ox)
Chamber of Accounts, Hotel of the
Chandeliers in Bronze, Fourteenth Century
Charlemagne, The Emperor
" Coronation of
" Dalmatica and Sandals of
" receiving the Oath of Fidelity
from one of his great Barons
" Portrait of
Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receiving
the News of the Death of his Father
Charles V. and the Emperor Charles IV.,
Interview between
Chateau-Gaillard aux Andelys
Chatelet, The Great
Cheeses, The Manufacture of, Sixteenth
Chilperic, Tomb of, Eleventh Century
Cloth to approach Beasts, How to carry a
Coins, Gold Merovingian, 628-638
" Gold, Sixth and Seventh Centuries
" " Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
" Gold and Silver, Thirteenth Century
" " Fifteenth and Sixteenth
" Silver, Eighth to Eleventh Centuries
Cologne, View of, Sixteenth Century
Comb in Ivory, Sixteenth Century
Combat of a Knight with a Dog, Thirteenth
Companion Carpenter, Fifteenth Century
Cook, The, Sixteenth Century
Coppersmith, The, Sixteenth Century
Corn-threshing and Bread-making, Sixteenth
Costume of Emperors at their Coronation
since the Time of Charlemagne
" King Childebert, Seventh Century
" King Clovis, Sixth Century
" Saints in the Sixth to Eighth
" Prelates, Eighth to Tenth Century
" a Scholar of the Carlovingian

Costume of a Scholar, Ninth Century
" a Bishop or Abbot, Ninth Century
" Charles the Simple, Tenth Century
" Louis le Jeune
" a Princess
" William Malgeneste, the King's Huntsman
" an English Servant, Fourteenth Century
" Philip the Good
" Charles V., King of France
" Jeanne de Bourbon
" Charlotte of Savoy
" Mary of Burgundy
" the Ladies of the Court of Catherine de Medicis
" a Gentleman of the French Court, Sixteenth Century
" the German Bourgeoisie, Sixteenth Century
Costumes, Italian, Fifteenth Century
Costumes of the Thirteenth Century
" the Common People, Fourteenth Century
" a rich Bourgeoise, of a Peasant-woman, and of a Lady of the
Nobility, Fourteenth Century
" a Young Nobleman and of a Bourgeois, Fourteenth Century
" a Bourgeois or Merchant, of a Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court
or rich Bourgeoise, Fifteenth Century
" a Mechanic's Wife and a rich Bourgeois, Fifteenth Century
" Young Noblemen of the Court of Charles VIII
" a Nobleman, a Bourgeois, and a Noble Lady, of the time of Louis
" a rich Bourgeoise and a Nobleman, time of Francis I
Counter-seal of the Butchers of Bruges in 1356
Country Life
Cour des Miracles of Paris
Court Fool
" of Love in Provence, Fourteenth Century
" of the Nobles, The
" Supreme, presided over by the King
" of a Baron, The
" Inferior, in the Great Bailiwick
Courtiers amassing Riches at the Expense of the Poor, Fourteenth Century
Courts of Love in Provence, Allegorical Scene of, Thirteenth Century
Craftsmen, Fourteenth Century
Cultivation of Fruit, Fifteenth Century
" Grain, and Manufacture of Barley and Oat Bread

Dance called "La Gaillarde"
" of Fools, Thirteenth Century
" by Torchlight
Dancers on Christmas Night
David playing on the Lyre
Dealer in Eggs, Sixteenth Century
Deer, Appearance of, and how to hunt them with Dogs
Deputies of the Burghers of Ghent, Fourteenth Century
Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine
Doge of Venice, Costume of the, before the Sixteenth Century
" in Ceremonial Costume of the Sixteenth Century
" Procession of the
Dog-kennel, Fifteenth Century
Dogs, Diseases of, and their Cure, Fourteenth Century
Dortmund, View of, Sixteenth Century
_Drille_, or _Narquois_, Fifteenth Century
Drinkers of the North, The Great
Dues on Wine

Edict, Promulgation of an
Elder and Juror, Ceremonial Dress of an
Elder and Jurors of the Tanners of Ghent
Eloy, St., Signature of
Entry of Louis XI. into Paris
Equestrian Performances, Thirteenth Century
Estrapade, The, or Question Extraordinary
Exhibitor of Strange Animals

Falcon, How to train a New, Fourteenth Century
" How to bathe a New
Falconer, Dress of the, Thirteenth Century
" German, Sixteenth Century
Falconers, Thirteenth Century
" dressing their Birds, Fourteenth Century
Falconry, Art of, King Modus teaching the, Fourteenth Century
" Varlets of, Fourteenth Century
Families, The, and the Barbarians
Fight between a Horse and Dogs, Thirteenth Century
Fireworks on the Water
Fish, Conveyance of, by Water and Land
Flemish Peasants, Fifteenth Century
Franc, Silver, Henry IV.
Franks, Fourth to Eighth Century
" King or Chief of the, Ninth Century
" King of the, dictating the Salic Law
Fredegonde giving orders to assassinate Sigebert, from a Window of the
Fifteenth Century
Free Judges
Funeral Token

Gallo-Roman Costumes
Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of Venery
German Beggars
" Knights, Fifteenth Century
" Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century
" Sportsman, Sixteenth Century
Ghent, Civic Guard of
Gibbet of Montfaucon, The
Gipsies Fortune-telling
" on the March
Gipsy Encampment
" Family, A
" who used to wash his Hands in Molten Lead
Goldsmiths of Ghent, Names and Titles of some of the Members
of the Corporation of, Fifteenth Century
" Group of, Seventeenth Century.
Grain-measurers of Ghent, Arms of the
Grape, Treading the
Grocer and Druggist, Shop of a, Seventeenth Century

Hanging to Music
Hare, How to allure the
Hawking, Lady setting out, Fourteenth Century
Hawks, Young, how to make them fly, Fourteenth Century
Hay-carriers, Sixteenth Century
Herald, Fourteenth Century
Heralds, Lodge of the
Heron-hawking, Fourteenth Century
Hostelry, Interior of an, Sixteenth Century
Hotel des Ursins, Paris, Fourteenth Century

Imperial Procession
Infant Richard, The, crucified by the Jews at Pontoise
Irmensul and Crodon, Idols of the Ancient Saxons
Iron Cage
Issue de Table, The
Italian Beggar
" Jew, Fourteenth Century
" Kitchen, Interior of
" Nobleman, Fifteenth Century

Jacques Coeur, Amende honorable of, before
Charles VII
" House of, at Bourges
Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of Paris, and Michelle de Vitry, his
Wife (Reign of Charles VI.)
Jerusalem, View and Plan of
Jew, Legend of a, calling the Devil from a Vessel of Blood
Jewish Ceremony before the Ark
" Conspiracy in France
" Procession
Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children
" of Cologne burnt alive, The
" Expulsion of the, in the Reign of the Emperor Hadrian
" Secret Meeting of the
John the Baptist, Decapitation of
John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, Assassination of
Judge, Fifteenth Century
Judicial Duel, The
Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and Bears, Thirteenth Century
" performing in Public, Thirteenth Century

King-at-Arms presenting the Sword to the Duc de Bourbon
King's Court, The, or Grand Council, Fifteenth Century
Kitchen, Interior of a, Sixteenth Century.
" and Table Utensils
Knife-handles in Ivory, Sixteenth Century
Knight in War-harness
Knight and his Lady, Fourteenth Century
Knights and Men-at-Arms of the Reign of Louis le Gros

Labouring Colons, Twelfth Century
Lambert of Liege, St., Chimes of the Clock of
Landgrave of Thuringia and his Wife
Lawyer, Sixteenth Century
Leopard, Hunting with the, Sixteenth Century
Lubeck and its Harbour, View of, Sixteenth Century

Maidservants, Dress of, Thirteenth Century
Mallet, Louis de, Admiral of France
Mark's Place, St., Venice, Sixteenth Century
Marseilles and its Harbour, View and Plan of, Sixteenth Century
Measurers of Corn, Paris, Sixteenth Century
Measuring Salt
Merchant Vessel in a Storm
Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople
Merchants of Rouen, Medal to commemorate the Association of the
Merchants of Rouen, Painting commemorative of the Union of, Seventeenth
Merchants or Tradesmen, Fourteenth Century
Metals, The Extraction of
Miller, The, Sixteenth Century
Mint, The, Sixteenth Century
Musician accompanying the Dancing

New-born Child, The
Nicholas Flamel, and Pernelle, his Wife, from a Painting of the Fifteenth
Nobility, Costumes of the, from the Seventh to the Ninth century
" Ladies of the, in the Ninth Century
Noble Ladies and Children, Dress of, Fourteenth Century
Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, Fourteenth Century
Noble of Provence, Fifteenth Century
Nobleman hunting
Nogent-le-Rotrou, Tower of the Castle of
Nut-crackers, Sixteenth Century

Occupations of the Peasants
Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the Imperial Court
Oil, the Manufacture of, Sixteenth Century
Old Man of the Mountain, The
Olifant, or Hunting-horn, Fourteenth Century
" " details of
Orphaus, Gallois, and Family of the Grand Coesre, Fifteenth Century

Palace, The, Sixteenth Century
Palace of the Doges, Interior Court of the
Paris, View of
Partridges, Way to catch
Paying Toll on passing a Bridge
Peasant Dances at the May Feasts
Pheasant-fowling, Fourteenth Century
Philippe le Bel in War-dress
Pillory, View of the, in the Market-place of Paris, Sixteenth Century
Pin and Needle Maker
Ploughmen. Fac-simile of a Miniature in very ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript
Pond Fisherman, The
Pont aux Changeurs, View of the ancient
Pork-butcher, The, Fourteenth Century
Poulterer, The, Sixteenth Century
Poultry-dealer, The
Powder-horn, Sixteenth Century
Provost's Prison, The
Provostship of the Merchants of Paris, Assembly of the, Sixteenth Century
Punishment by Fire, The
Purse or Leather Bag, with Knife or Dagger, Fifteenth Century

Receiver of Taxes, The
Remy, St., Bishop of Rheirns, begging of Clovis the restitution of the
Sacred Vase, Fifteenth Century
River Fishermen, The, Sixteenth Century
Roi de l'Epinette, Entry of the, at Lille
Roman Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century
Royal Costume
_Ruffes_ and _Millards_, Fifteenth Century

Sainte-Genevieve, Front of the Church of the Abbey of
Sale by Town-Crier
Salt-cellar, enamelled, Sixteenth Century
Sandal or Buskin of Charlemagne
Saxony, Duke of
Sbirro, Chief of
Seal of the Bateliers of Bruges in 1356
" Corporation of Carpenters of St. Trond (Belgium)
" Corporation of Clothworkers of Bruges
" Corporation of Fullers of St. Trond
" Corporation of Joiners of Bruges
" " Shoemakers of St. Trond
" Corporation of Wool-weavers of Hasselt
" Free Count Hans Vollmar von Twern
" Free Count Heinrich Beckmann
" " Herman Loseckin
" " Johann Croppe
" King Chilperic
" United Trades of Ghent, Fifteenth Century
Seat of Justice held by Philippe de Valois
Secret Tribunal, Execution of the Sentences of the
Semur, Tower of the Castle of
Serf or Vassal, Tenth Century
Serjeants-at-Arms, Fourteenth Century
Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the Messiah
Shops under Covered Market, Fifteenth Century
Shout and blow Horns, How to
Simon, Martyrdom of, at Trent
Slaves or Serfs, Sixth to Twelfth Century
Sport with Dogs, Fourteenth Century
Spring-board, The
Squirrels, Way to catch
Stag, How to kill and cut up a, Fifteenth Century
Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of Rouen, Fifteenth Century
Stall of Carved Wood, Fifteenth Century
Standards of the Church and the Empire
State Banquet, Sixteenth Century
Stoertebeck, Execution of
Styli, Fourteenth Century
Swiss Grand Provost
Sword-dance to the Sound of the Bagpipe, Fourteenth Century

Table of a Baron, Thirteenth Century
Talebot the Hunchback
Tithe of Beer, Fifteenth Century
Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Antwerp
Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Maestricht
Toll under the Bridges of Paris
Toll on Markets, levied by a Cleric, Fifteenth Century
Torture of the Wheel, Demons applying the
Tournaments in Honour of the Entry of Queen Isabel into Paris
Tower of the Temple, Paris
Trade on the Seaports of the Levant, Fifteenth Century
Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of Camels

University of Paris, Fellows of the, haranguing the Emperor Charles IV.

Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd, Fifteenth Century
View of Alexandria, Sixteenth Century
Village Feast, Sixteenth Century
Village pillaged by Soldiers
Villain, the Covetous and Avaricious
Villain, the Egotistical and Envious
Villain or Peasant, Fifteenth Century
Villain receiving his Lord's Orders
Vine, Culture of the
Vintagers, The, Thirteenth Century
Votive Altar of the Nautes Parisiens

Water Torture, The
Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at Mans, Sixteenth Century
Whale Fishing
William, Duke of Normandy, Eleventh Century
Winegrower, The
Wolves, how they may be caught with a Snare
Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, Fifteenth Century
Women of the Court, Sixth to Tenth Century
Woodcock, Mode of catching a, Fourteenth Century

Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the
Renaissance Period.

Condition of Persons and Lands.

Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle
Ages.--Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.--Fusion
organized under Charlemagne.--Royal Authority.--Position of the Great
Feudalists.--Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to
Landed Possessions.--Freemen and Tenants.--The Laeti, the Colon, the
Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower
Classes.--Formation of Communities.--Right of Mortmain.

The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guerard, is
the produce of Pagan civilisation, of Germanic barbarism, and of
Christianity. It began in 476, on the fall of Agustulus, and ended in
1453, at the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II., and consequently the
fall of two empires, that of the West and that of the East, marks its
duration. Its first act, which was due to the Germans, was the destruction
of political unity, and this was destined to be afterwards replaced by
religions unity. Then we find a multitude of scattered and disorderly
influences growing on the ruins of central power. The yoke of imperial
dominion was broken by the barbarians; but the populace, far from
acquiring liberty, fell to the lowest degrees of servitude. Instead of one
despot, it found thousands of tyrants, and it was but slowly and with
much trouble that it succeeded in freeing itself from feudalism. Nothing
could be more strangely troubled than the West at the time of the
dissolution of the Empire of the Caesars; nothing more diverse or more
discordant than the interests, the institutions, and the state of society,
which were delivered to the Germans (Figs. 1 and 2). In fact, it would be
impossible in the whole pages of history to find a society formed of more
heterogeneous or incompatible elements. On the one side might be placed
the Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, Germans, Franks, Saxons, and Lombards,
nations, or more strictly hordes, accustomed to rough and successful
warfare, and, on the other, the Romans, including those people who by long
servitude to Roman dominion had become closely allied with their
conquerors (Fig. 3). There were, on both sides, freemen, freedmen, colons,
and slaves; different ranks and degrees being, however, observable both in
freedom and servitude. This hierarchical principle applied itself even to
the land, which was divided into freeholds, tributary lands, lands of the
nobility, and servile lands, thus constituting the freeholds, the
benefices, the fiefs, and the tenures. It may be added that the customs,
and to a certain degree the laws, varied according to the masters of the
country, so that it can hardly be wondered at that everywhere diversity
and inequality were to be found, and, as a consequence, that anarchy and
confusion ruled supreme.

[Illustration: Figs. 1 and 2.--Costumes of the Franks from the Fourth to
the Eighth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original
Documents in the great Libraries of Europe.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Costumes of Roman Soldiers. Fig. 4.--Costume of
German Soldiers. From Miniatures on different Manuscripts, from the Sixth
to the Twelfth Centuries.]

The Germans (Fig. 4) had brought with them over the Rhine none of the
heroic virtues attributed to them by Tacitus when he wrote their history,
with the evident intention of making a satire on his countrymen. Amongst
the degenerate Romans whom those ferocious Germans had subjugated,
civilisation was reconstituted on the ruins of vices common in the early
history of a new society by the adoption of a series of loose and
dissolute habits, both by the conquerors and the conquered.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the
Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents
in the great Libraries of Europe.]

In fact, the conquerors contributed the worse share (Fig. 5); for, whilst
exercising the low and debasing instincts of their former barbarism, they
undertook the work of social reconstruction with a sort of natural and
innate servitude. To them, liberty, the desire for which caused them to
brave the greatest dangers, was simply the right of doing evil--of obeying
their ardent thirst for plunder. Long ago, in the depths of their forests,
they had adopted the curious institution of vassalage. When they came to
the West to create States, instead of reducing personal power, every step
in their social edifice, from the top to the bottom, was made to depend on
individual superiority. To bow to a superior was their first political
principle; and on that principle feudalism was one day to find its base.

Servitude was in fact to be found in all conditions and ranks, equally in
the palace of the sovereign as in the dwellings of his subjects. The
vassal who was waited on at his own table by a varlet, himself served at
the table of his lord; the nobles treated each other likewise, according
to their rank; and all the exactions which each submitted to from his
superiors, and required to be paid to him by those below him, were looked
upon not as onerous duties, but as rights and honours. The sentiment of
dignity and of personal independence, which has become, so to say, the
soul of modern society, did not exist at all, or at least but very
slightly, amongst the Germans. If we could doubt the fact, we have but to
remember that these men, so proud, so indifferent to suffering or death,
would often think little of staking their liberty in gambling, in the hope
that if successful their gain might afford them the means of gratifying
some brutal passion.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--King or Chief of Franks armed with the Seramasax,
from a Miniature of the Ninth Century, drawn by H. de Vielcastel.]

When the Franks took root in Gaul, their dress and institutions were
adopted by the Roman society (Fig. 6). This had the most disastrous
influence in every point of view, and it is easy to prove that
civilisation did not emerge from this chaos until by degrees the Teutonic
spirit disappeared from the world. As long as this spirit reigned, neither
private nor public liberty existed. Individual patriotism only extended as
far as the border of a man's family, and the nation became broken up into
clans. Gaul soon found itself parcelled off into domains which were
almost independent of one another. It was thus that Germanic genius became

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--The King of the Franks, in the midst of the
Military Chiefs who formed his _Treuste_, or armed Court, dictates the
Salic Law (Code of the Barbaric Laws).--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
"Chronicles of St. Denis," a Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Library
of the Arsenal).]

The advantages of acting together for mutual protection first established
itself in families. If any one suffered from an act of violence, he laid
the matter before his relatives for them jointly to seek reparation. The
question was then settled between the families of the offended person and
the offender, all of whom were equally associated in the object of
vindicating a cause which interested them alone, without recognising any
established authority, and without appealing to the law. If the parties
had sought the protection or advice of men of power, the quarrel might at
once take a wider scope, and tend to kindle a feud between two nobles. In
any case the King only interfered when the safety of his person or the
interests of his dominions were threatened.

Penalties and punishments were almost always to be averted by a money
payment. A son, for instance, instead of avenging the death of his
father, received from the murderer a certain indemnity in specie,
according to legal tariff; and the law was thus satisfied.

The tariff of indemnities or compensations to be paid for each crime
formed the basis of the code of laws amongst the principal tribes of
Franks, a code essentially barbarian, and called the Salic law, or law of
the Salians (Fig. 7). Such, however, was the spirit of inequality among
the German races, that it became an established principle for justice to
be subservient to the rank of individuals. The more powerful a man was,
the more he was protected by the law; the lower his rank, the less the law
protected him.

The life of a Frank, by right, was worth twice that of a Roman; the life
of a servant of the King was worth three times that of an ordinary
individual who did not possess that protecting tie. On the other hand,
punishment was the more prompt and rigorous according to the inferiority
of position of the culprit. In case of theft, for instance, a person of
importance was brought before the King's tribunal, and as it respected the
rank held by the accused in the social hierarchy, little or no punishment
was awarded. In the case of the same crime by a poor man, on the contrary,
the ordinary judge gave immediate sentence, and he was seized and hung on
the spot.

Inasmuch as no political institutions amongst the Germans were nobler or
more just than those of the Franks and the other barbaric races, we cannot
accept the creed of certain historians who have represented the Germans as
the true regenerators of society in Europe. The two sources of modern
civilisation are indisputably Pagan antiquity and Christianity.

After the fall of the Merovingian kings great progress was made in the
political and social state of nations. These kings, who were but chiefs of
undisciplined bands, were unable to assume a regal character, properly so
called. Their authority was more personal than territorial, for incessant
changes were made in the boundaries of their conquered dominions. It was
therefore with good reason that they styled themselves kings of the
Franks, and not kings of France.

Charlemagne was the first who recognised that social union, so admirable
an example of which was furnished by Roman organization, and who was able,
with the very elements of confusion and disorder to which he succeeded, to
unite, direct, and consolidate diverging and opposite forces, to establish
and regulate public administrations, to found and build towns, and to
form and reconstruct almost a new world (Fig. 8). We hear of him assigning
to each his place, creating for all a common interest, making of a crowd
of small and scattered peoples a great and powerful nation; in a word,
rekindling the beacon of ancient civilisation. When he died, after a most
active and glorious reign of forty-five years, he left an immense empire
in the most perfect state of peace (Fig. 9). But this magnificent
inheritance was unfortunately destined to pass into unworthy or impotent
hands, so that society soon fell back into anarchy and confusion. The
nobles, in their turn invested with power, were continually at war, and
gradually weakened the royal authority--the power of the kingdom--by their
endless disputes with the Crown and with one another.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receives the
News of the Death of his Father and the Great Feudalists offer him the
Crown.--Costumes of the Court of Burgundy in the Fifteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of the "History of the Emperors"
(Library of the Arsenal).]

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Portrait of Charlemagne, whom the Song of Roland
names the King with the Grizzly Beard.--Fac-simile of an Engraving of the
End of the Sixteenth Century.]

The revolution in society which took place under the Carlovingian dynasty
had for its especial object that of rendering territorial what was
formerly personal, and, as it were, of destroying personality in matters
of government.

The usurpation of lands by the great having been thus limited by the
influence of the lesser holders, everybody tried to become the holder of
land. Its possession then formed the basis of social position, and, as a
consequence, individual servitude became lessened, and society assumed a
more stable condition. The ancient laws of wandering tribes fell into
disuse; and at the same time many distinctions of caste and race
disappeared, as they were incompatible with the new order of things. As
there were no more Salians, Ripuarians, nor Visigoths among the free men,
so there were no more colons, laeti, nor slaves amongst those deprived of

[Illustrations: Figs. 10 and 11.--Present State of the Feudal Castle of
Chateau-Gaillard aux Andelys, which was considered one of the strongest
Castles of France in the Middle Ages, and was rebuilt in the Twelfth
Century by Richard Coeur de Lion.]

Heads of families, on becoming attached to the soil, naturally had other
wants and other customs than those which they had delighted in when they
were only the chiefs of wandering adventurers. The strength of their
followers was not now so important to them as the security of their
castles. Fortresses took the place of armed bodies; and at this time,
every one who wished to keep what he had, entrenched himself to the best
of his ability at his own residence. The banks of rivers, elevated
positions, and all inaccessible heights, were occupied by towers and
castles, surrounded by ditches, which served as strongholds to the lords
of the soil. (Figs. 10 and 11). These places of defence soon became points
for attack. Out of danger at home, many of the nobles kept watch like
birds of prey on the surrounding country, and were always ready to fall,
not only upon their enemies, but also on their neighbours, in the hope
either of robbing them when off their guard, or of obtaining a ransom for
any unwary traveller who might fall into their hands. Everywhere society
was in ambuscade, and waged civil war--individual against
individual--without peace or mercy. Such was the reign of feudalism. It is
unnecessary to point out how this system of perpetual petty warfare tended
to reduce the power of centralisation, and how royalty itself was
weakened towards the end of the second dynasty. When the descendants of
Hugh Capet wished to restore their power by giving it a larger basis, they
were obliged to attack, one after the other, all these strongholds, and
practically to re-annex each fief, city, and province held by these petty
monarchs, in order to force their owners to recognise the sovereignty of
the King. Centuries of war and negotiations became necessary before the
kingdom of France could be, as it were, reformed.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Knights and Men-at-arms, cased in Mail, in the
Reign of Louis le Gros, from a Miniature in a Psalter written towards the
End of the Twelfth Century.]

The corporations and the citizens had great weight in restoring the
monarchical power, as well as in forming French nationality; but by far
the best influence brought to bear in the Middle Ages was that of
Christianity. The doctrine of one origin and of one final destiny being
common to all men of all classes constantly acted as a strong inducement
for thinking that all should be equally free. Religious equality paved the
way for political equality, and as all Christians were brothers before
God, the tendency was for them to become, as citizens, equal also in law.

This transformation, however, was but slow, and followed concurrently the
progress made in the security of property. At the onset, the slave only
possessed his life, and this was but imperfectly guaranteed to him by the
laws of charity; laws which, however, year by year became of greater
power. He afterwards became _colon_, or labourer (Figs. 13 and 14),
working for himself under certain conditions and tenures, paying fines, or
services, which, it is true, were often very extortionate. At this time he
was considered to belong to the domain on which he was born, and he was at
least sure that that soil would not be taken from him, and that in giving
part of his time to his master, he was at liberty to enjoy the rest
according to his fancy. The farmer afterwards became proprietor of the
soil he cultivated, and master, not only of himself, but of his lands;
certain trivial obligations or fines being all that was required of him,
and these daily grew less, and at last disappeared altogether. Having thus
obtained a footing in society, he soon began to take a place in provincial
assemblies; and he made the last bound on the road of social progress,
when the vote of his fellow-electors sent him to represent them in the
parliament of the kingdom. Thus the people who had begun by excessive
servitude, gradually climbed to power.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of

We will now describe more in detail the various conditions of persons of
the Middle Ages.

The King, who held his rights by birth, and not by election, enjoyed
relatively an absolute authority, proportioned according to the power of
his abilities, to the extent of his dominions, and to the devotion of his
vassals. Invested with a power which for a long time resembled the command
of a general of an army, he had at first no other ministers than the
officers to whom he gave full power to act in the provinces, and who
decided arbitrarily in the name of, and representing, the King, on all
questions of administration. One minister alone approached the King, and
that was the chancellor, who verified, sealed, and dispatched all royal
decrees and orders.

As early, however, as the seventh century, a few officers of state
appeared, who were specially attached to the King's person or household; a
count of the palace, who examined and directed the suits brought before
the throne; a mayor of the palace, who at one time raised himself from the
administration of the royal property to the supreme power; an
arch-chaplain, who presided over ecclesiastical affairs; a lord of the
bedchamber, charged with the treasure of the chamber; and a count of the
stables, charged with the superintendence of the stables.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of

For all important affairs, the King generally consulted the grandees of
his court; but as in the five or six first centuries of monarchy in France
the royal residence was not permanent, it is probable the Council of State
was composed in part of the officers who followed the King, and in part of
the noblemen who came to visit him, or resided near the place he happened
to be inhabiting. It was only under the Capetians that the Royal Council
took a permanent footing, or even assembled at stated periods.

In ordinary times, that is to say, when he was not engaged in war, the
King had few around him besides his family, his personal attendants, and
the ministers charged with the dispatch of affairs. As he changed from
one of his abodes to another he only held his court on the great festivals
of the year.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by
hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of
the Lodge of the Heralds.--After a Miniature of the "Tournaments of King
Rene" (Fifteenth Century), MSS. of the National Library of Paris.]

Up to the thirteenth century, there was, strictly speaking, no taxation
and no public treasury. The King received, through special officers
appointed for the purpose, tributes either in money or in kind, which
were most variable, but often very heavy, and drawn almost exclusively
from his personal and private properties. In cases of emergency only, he
appealed to his vassals for pecuniary aid. A great number of the grandees,
who lived far from the court, either in state offices or on their own
fiefs, had establishments similar to that of the King. Numerous and
considerable privileges elevated them above other free men. The offices
and fiefs having become hereditary, the order of nobility followed as a
consequence; and it then became highly necessary for families to keep
their genealogical histories, not only to gratify their pride, but also to
give them the necessary titles for the feudal advantages they derived by
birth. (Fig. 15). Without this right of inheritance, society, which was
still unsettled in the Middle Ages, would soon have been dissolved. This
great principle, sacred in the eyes both of great and small, maintained
feudalism, and in so doing it maintained itself amidst all the chaos and
confusion of repeated revolutions and social disturbances.

We have already stated, and we cannot sufficiently insist upon this
important point, that from the day on which the adventurous habits of the
chiefs of Germanic origin gave place to the desire for territorial
possessions, the part played by the land increased insensibly towards
defining the position of the persons holding it. Domains became small
kingdoms, over which the lord assumed the most absolute and arbitrary
rights. A rule was soon established, that the nobility was inherent to the
soil, and consequently that the land ought to transmit to its possessors
the rights of nobility.

This privilege was so much accepted, that the long tenure of a fief ended
by ennobling the commoner. Subsequently, by a sort of compensation which
naturally followed, lands on which rent had hitherto been paid became free
and noble on passing to the possession of a noble. At last, however, the
contrary rule prevailed, which caused the lands not to change quality in
changing owners: the noble could still possess the labourers's lands
without losing his nobility, but the labourer could be proprietor of a
fief without thereby becoming a noble.

To the _comites_, who, according to Tacitus, attached themselves to the
fortunes of the Germanic chiefs, succeeded the Merovingian _leudes_, whose
assembly formed the King's Council. These _leudes_ were persons of great
importance owing to the number of their vassals, and although they
composed his ordinary Council, they did not hesitate at times to declare
themselves openly opposed to his will.

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Knight in War-harness, after a Miniature in a
Psalter written and illuminated under Louis le Gros.]

The name of _leudes_ was abandoned under the second of the then French
dynasties, and replaced by that of _fideles_, which, in truth soon became
a common designation of both the vassals of the Crown and those of the

Under the kings of the third dynasty, the kingdom was divided into about
one hundred and fifty domains, which were called great fiefs of the crown,
and which were possessed in hereditary right by the members of the highest
nobility, placed immediately under the royal sovereignty and dependence.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--King Charlemagne receiving the Oath of Fidelity
and Homage from one of his great Feudatories or High Barons.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in Cameo, of the "Chronicles of St. Denis." Manuscript of
the Fourteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal).]

Vassals emanating directly from the King, were then generally designated
by the title of _barons_, and mostly possessed strongholds. The other
nobles indiscriminately ranked as _chevaliers_ or _cnights_, a generic
title, to which was added that of _banneret_, The fiefs of _hauberk_ were
bound to supply the sovereign with a certain number of knights covered
with coats of mail, and completely armed. All knights were mounted in war
(Fig. 16); but knights who were made so in consequence of their high birth
must not be confounded with those who became knights by some great feat in
arms in the house of a prince or high noble, nor with the members of the
different orders of chivalry which were successively instituted, such as
the Knights of the Star, the Genet, the Golden Fleece, Saint-Esprit, St.
John of Jerusalem, &c. Originally, the possession of a benefice or fief
meant no more than the privilege of enjoying the profits derived from the
land, a concession which made the holder dependent upon the proprietor. He
was in fact his "man," to whom he owed homage (Fig. 17), service in case
of war, and assistance in any suit the proprietor might have before the
King's tribunal. The chiefs of German bands at first recompensed their
companions in arms by giving them fiefs of parts of the territory which
they had conquered; but later on, everything was equally given to be held
in fief, namely, dignities, offices, rights, and incomes or titles.

It is important to remark (and it is in this alone that feudalism shows
its social bearing), that if the vassal owed obedience and devotion to his
lord, the lord in exchange owed protection to the vassal. The rank of
"free man" did not necessarily require the possession of land; but the
position of free men who did not hold fiefs was extremely delicate and
often painful, for they were by natural right dependent upon those on
whose domain they resided. In fact, the greater part of these nobles
without lands became by choice the King's men, and remained attached to
his service. If this failed them, they took lands on lease, so as to
support themselves and their families, and to avoid falling into absolute
servitude. In the event of a change of proprietor, they changed with the
land into new hands. Nevertheless, it was not uncommon for them to be so
reduced as to sell their freedom; but in such cases, they reserved the
right, should better times come, of re-purchasing their liberty by paying
one-fifth more than the sum for which they had sold it.

We thus see that in olden times, as also later, freedom was more or less
the natural consequence of the possession of wealth or power on the part
of individuals or families who considered themselves free in the midst of
general dependence. During the tenth century, indeed, if not impossible,
it was at least difficult to find a single inhabitant of the kingdom of
France who was not "the man" of some one, and who was either tied by rules
of a liberal order, or else was under the most servile obligations.

The property of the free men was originally the "_aleu_," which was under
the jurisdiction of the royal magistrates. The _aleu_ gradually lost the
greater part of its franchise, and became liable to the common charges due
on lands which were not freehold.

In ancient times, all landed property of a certain extent was composed of
two distinct parts: one occupied by the owner, constituted the domain or
manor; the other, divided between persons who were more or less dependent,
formed what were called _tenures_. These _tenures_ were again divided
according to the position of those who occupied them: if they were
possessed by free men, who took the name of vassals, they were called
benefices or fiefs; if they were let to laeti, colons, or serfs, they were
then called colonies or demesnes.

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Ploughmen.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a very
ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript published by Shaw, with legend "God Spede
ye Plough, and send us Korne enow."]

The _laeti_ occupied a rank between the colon and the serf. They had less
liberty than the colon, over whom the proprietor only had an indirect and
very limited power. The colon only served the land, whilst the laeti,
whether agriculturists or servants, served both the land and the owner
(Fig. 18). They nevertheless enjoyed the right of possession, and of
defending themselves, or prosecuting by law. The serf, on the contrary,
had neither city, tribunal, nor family. The laeti had, besides, the power
of purchasing their liberty when they had amassed sufficient for the

_Serfs_ occupied the lowest position in the social ladder (Fig. 19). They
succeeded to slaves, thus making, thanks to Christianity, a step towards
liberty. Although the civil laws barely protected them, those of the
Church continually stepped in and defended them from arbitrary despotism.
The time came when they had no direct masters, and when the almost
absolute dependence of serfs was changed by the nobles requiring them to
farm the land and pay tithes and fees. And lastly, they became farmers,
and regular taxes took the place of tithes and fees.

The colons, laeti, and serfs, all of whom were more or less tillers of the
soil, were, so to speak, the ancestors of "the people" of modern times;
those who remained devoted to agriculture were the ancestors of our
peasants; and those who gave themselves up to trades and commerce in the
towns, were the originators of the middle classes.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Serf or Vassal of Tenth Century, from
Miniatures in the "Dialogues of St. Gregory," Manuscript No. 9917 (Royal
Library of Brussels).]

As early as the commencement of the third royal dynasty we find in the
rural districts, as well as in the towns, a great number of free men: and
as the charters concerning the condition of lands and persons became more
and more extended, the tyranny of the great was reduced, and servitude
decreased. During the following centuries, the establishment of civic
bodies and the springing up of the middle classes (Fig. 20) made the
acquisition of liberty more easy and more general. Nevertheless, this
liberty was rather theoretical than practical; for if the nobles granted
it nominally, they gave it at the cost of excessive fines, and the
community, which purchased at a high price the right of
self-administration, did not get rid of any of the feudal charges imposed
upon it.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Bourgeois at the End of Thirteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of Miniature in Manuscript No. 6820, in the National
Library of Paris.]

Fortunately for the progress of liberty, the civic bodies, as if they had
been providentially warned of the future in store for them, never
hesitated to accept from their lords, civil or ecclesiastical, conditions,
onerous though they were, which enabled them to exist in the interior of
the cities to which they belonged. They formed a sort of small state,
almost independent for private affairs, subject to the absolute power of
the King, and more or less tied by their customs or agreements with the
local nobles. They held public assemblies and elected magistrates, whose
powers embraced both the administration of civil and criminal justice,
police, finance, and the militia. They generally had fixed and written
laws. Protected by ramparts, each possessed a town-hall (_hotel de
ville_), a seal, a treasury, and a watch-tower, and it could arm a certain
number of men, either for its own defence or for the service of the noble
or sovereign under whom it held its rights.

In no case could a community such as this exist without the sanction of
the King, who placed it under the safeguard of the Crown. At first the
kings, blinded by a covetous policy, only seemed to see in the issue of
these charters an excellent pretext for extorting money. If they consented
to recognise them, and even to help them against their lords, it was on
account of the enormous sacrifices made by the towns. Later on, however,
they affected, on the contrary, the greatest generosity towards the
vassals who wished to incorporate themselves, when they had understood
that these institutions might become powerful auxiliaries against the
great titulary feudalists; but from the reign of Louis XI., when the power
of the nobles was much diminished, and no longer inspired any terror to
royalty, the kings turned against their former allies, the middle classes,
and deprived them successively of all the prerogatives which could
prejudice the rights of the Crown.

The middle classes, it is true, acquired considerable influence afterwards
by participation in the general and provincial councils. After having
victoriously struggled against the clergy and nobility, in the assemblies
of the three states or orders, they ended by defeating royalty itself.

Louis le Gros, in whose orders the style or title of _bourgeois_ first
appears (1134), is generally looked upon as the founder of the franchise
of communities in France; but it is proved that a certain number of
communities or corporations were already formally constituted, before his
accession to the throne.

The title of bourgeois was not, however, given exclusively to inhabitants
of cities. It often happened that the nobles, with the intention of
improving and enriching their domains, opened a kind of asylum, under the
attractive title of _Free Towns_, or _New Towns_, where they offered, to
all wishing to establish themselves, lands, houses, and a more or less
extended share of privileges, rights, and liberties. These congregations,
or families, soon became boroughs, and the inhabitants, though
agriculturists, took the name of bourgeois.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Costume of a Vilain or Peasant, Fifteenth
Century, from a Miniature of "La Danse Macabre," Manuscript 7310 of the
National Library of Paris.]

There was also a third kind of bourgeois, whose influence on the extension
of royal power was not less than that of the others. There were free
men who, under the title of bourgeois of the King _(bourgeois du Roy_),
kept their liberty by virtue of letters of protection given them by the
King, although they were established on lands of nobles whose inhabitants
were deprived of liberty. Further, when a _vilain_--that is to say, the
serf, of a noble--bought a lease of land in a royal borough, it was an
established custom that after having lived there a year and a day without
being reclaimed by his lord and master, he became a bourgeois of the King
and a free man. In consequence of this the serfs and vilains (Fig. 21)
emigrated from all parts, in order to profit by these advantages, to such
a degree, that the lands of the nobles became deserted by all the serfs of
different degrees, and were in danger of remaining uncultivated. The
nobility, in the interests of their properties, and to arrest this
increasing emigration, devoted themselves to improving the condition of
persons placed under their dependence, and attempted to create on their
domains _boroughs_ analogous to those of royalty. But however liberal
these ameliorations might appear to be, it was difficult for the nobles
not only to concede privileges equal to those emanating from the throne,
but also to ensure equal protection to those they thus enfranchised. In
spite of this, however, the result was that a double current of
enfranchisement was established, which resulted in the daily diminution of
the miserable order of serfs, and which, whilst it emancipated the lower
orders, had the immediate result of giving increased weight and power to
royalty, both in its own domains and in those of the nobility and their

These social revolutions did not, of course, operate suddenly, nor did
they at once abolish former institutions, for we still find, that after
the establishment of communities and corporations, several orders of
servitude remained.

At the close of the thirteenth century, on the authority of Philippe de
Beaumanoir, the celebrated editor of "Coutumes de Beauvoisis," there were
three states or orders amongst the laity, namely, the nobleman (Fig. 22),
the free man, and the serf. All noblemen were free, but all free men were
not necessarily noblemen. Generally, nobility descended from the father
and franchise from the mother. But according to many other customs of
France, the child, as a general rule, succeeded to the lower rank of his
parents. There were two orders of serfs: one rigorously held in the
absolute dependence of his lord, to such a degree that the latter could
appropriate during his life, or after death if he chose, all he possessed;
he could imprison him, ill-treat him as he thought proper, without having
to answer to any one but God; the other, though held equally in bondage,
was more liberally treated, for "unless he was guilty of some evil-doing,
the lord could ask of him nothing during his life but the fees, rents, or
fines which he owed on account of his servitude." If one of the latter
class of serfs married a free woman, everything which he possessed became
the property of his lord. The same was the case when he died, for he could
not transmit any of his goods to his children, and was only allowed to
dispose by will of a sum of about five sous, or about twenty-five francs
of modern money.

As early as the fourteenth century, serfdom or servitude no longer existed
except in "mortmain," of which we still have to speak.

[Illustration: The Court of Mary of Anjou, Wife of Charles VII.

Her chaplain the learned Robert Blondel presents her with the allegorical
Treatise of the "_Twelve Perils of Hell_." Which he composed for her
(1455). Fac-simile of a miniature from this work. Bibl. de l'Arsenal,

_Mortmain_ consisted of the privation of the right of freely disposing
of one's person or goods. He who had not the power of going where he
would, of giving or selling, of leaving by will or transferring his
property, fixed or movable, as he thought best, was called a man of

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Italian Nobleman of the Fifteenth Century. From a
Playing-card engraved on Copper about 1460 (Cabinet des Estampes, National
Library of Paris).]

This name was apparently chosen because the hand, "considered the symbol
of power and the instrument of donation," was deprived of movement,
paralysed, in fact struck as by death. It was also nearly in this sense,
that men of the Church were also called men of mortmain, because they
were equally forbidden to dispose, either in life, or by will after death,
of anything belonging to them.

There were two kinds of mortmain: real and personal; one concerning land,
and the other concerning the person; that is to say, land held in mortmain
did not change quality, whatever might be the position of the person who
occupied it, and a "man of mortmain" did not cease to suffer the
inconveniences of his position on whatever land he went to establish

The mortmains were generally subject to the greater share of feudal
obligations formerly imposed on serfs; these were particularly to work for
a certain time for their lord without receiving any wages, or else to pay
him the _tax_ when it was due, on certain definite occasions, as for
example, when he married, when he gave a dower to his daughter, when he
was taken prisoner of war, when he went to the Holy Land, &c., &c. What
particularly characterized the condition of mortmains was, that the lords
had the right to take all their goods when they died without issue, or
when the children held a separate household; and that they could not
dispose of anything they possessed, either by will or gift, beyond a
certain sum.

The noble who franchised mortmains, imposed on them in almost all cases
very heavy conditions, consisting of fees, labours, and fines of all
sorts. In fact, a mortmain person, to be free, not only required to be
franchised by his own lord, but also by all the nobles on whom he was
dependent, as well as by the sovereign. If a noble franchised without the
consent of his superiors, he incurred a fine, as it was considered a
dismemberment or depreciation of the fief.

As early as the end of the fourteenth century, the rigorous laws of
mortmain began to fall into disuse in the provinces; though if the name
began to disappear, the condition itself continued to exist. The free men,
whether they belonged to the middle class or to the peasantry, were
nevertheless still subject to pay fines or obligations to their lords of
such a nature that they must be considered to have been practically in the
same position as mortmains. In fact, this custom had been so deeply rooted
into social habits by feudalism, that to make it disappear totally at the
end of the eighteenth century, it required three decrees of the National
Convention (July 17 and October 2, 1793; and 8 Ventose, year II.--that is,
March 2, 1794).

It is only just to state, that twelve or fourteen years earlier, Louis
XVI. had done all in his power towards the same purpose, by suppressing
mortmain, both real or personal, on the lands of the Crown, and personal
mortmain (i.e. the right of following mortmains out of their original
districts) all over the kingdom.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Alms Bag taken from some Tapestry in Orleans,
Fifteenth Century.]

Privileges and Rights. Feudal and Municipal.

Elements of Feudalism.--Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe
Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.--Immunity of the Feudalists.--Dues
from the Nobles to their Sovereign.--Law and University Dues.--Curious
Exactions resulting from the Universal System of Dues.--Struggles to
Enfranchise the Classes subjected to Dues.--Feudal Spirit and Citizen
Spirit.--Resuscitation of the System of Ancient Municipalities in Italy,
Germany, and France.--Municipal Institutions and Associations.--The
Community.--The Middle-Class Cities (_Cites Bourgeoises_).--Origin of
National Unity.

So as to understand the numerous charges, dues, and servitudes, often as
quaint as iniquitous and vexations, which weighed on the lower orders
during the Middle Ages, we must remember how the upper class, who assumed
to itself the privilege of oppression on lands and persons under the
feudal System, was constituted.

The Roman nobles, heirs to their fathers' agricultural dominions,
succeeded for the most part in preserving through the successive invasions
of the barbarians, the influence attached to the prestige of birth and
wealth; they still possessed the greater part of the land and owned as
vassals the rural populations. The Grerman nobles, on the contrary, had
not such extended landed properties, but they appropriated all the
strongest positions. The dukes, counts, and marquises were generally of
German origin. The Roman race, mixed with the blood of the various nations
it had subdued, was the first to infuse itself into ancient Society, and
only furnished barons of a secondary order.

These heterogeneous elements, brought together, with the object of common
dominion, constituted a body who found life and motion only in the
traditions of Rome and ancient Germany. From these two historical sources,
as is very judiciously pointed out by M. Mary-Lafon, issued all the habits
of the new society, and particularly the rights and privileges assumed by
the nobility.

These rights and privileges, which we are about to pass summarily in
review, were numerous, and often curious: amongst them may be mentioned
the rights of treasure-trove, the rights of wreck, the rights of
establishing fairs or markets, rights of marque, of sporting, &c.

The rights of treasure-trove were those which gave full power to dukes and
counts over all minerals found on their properties. It was in asserting
this right that the famous Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England, met his
death. Adhemar, Viscount of Limoges, had discovered in a field a treasure,
of which, no doubt, public report exaggerated the value, for it was said
to be large enough to model in pure gold, and life-size, a Roman emperor
and the members of his family, at table. Adhemar was a vassal of the Duke
of Guienne, and, as a matter of course, set aside what was considered the
sovereign's share in his discovery; but Richard, refusing to concede any
part of his privilege, claimed the whole treasure. On the refusal of the
viscount to give it up he appeared under arms before the gates of the
Castle of Chalus, where he supposed that the treasure was hidden. On
seeing the royal standard, the garrison offered to open the gates. "No,"
answered Richard, "since you have forced me to unfurl my banner, I shall
only enter by the breach, and you shall all be hung on the battlements."
The siege commenced, and did not at first seem to favour the English, for
the besieged made a noble stand. One evening, as his troops were
assaulting the place, in order to witness the scene, Richard was sitting
at a short distance on a piece of rock, protected with a target--that is,
a large shield covered with leather and blades of iron--which two archers
held over him. Impatient to see the result of the assault, Richard pushed
down the shield, and that moment decided his fate (1199). An archer of
Chalus, who had recognised him and was watching from the top of the
rampart, sent a bolt from a crossbow, which hit him full in the chest. The
wound, however, would perhaps not have been mortal, but, shortly after,
having carried the place by storm, and in his delight at finding the
treasure almost intact, he gave himself up madly to degrading orgies,
during which he had already dissipated the greater part of his treasure,
and died of his wound twelve days later; first having, however, graciously
pardoned the bowman who caused his death.

The right of shipwrecks, which the nobles of seaboard countries rarely
renounced, and of which they were the more jealous from the fact that they
had continually to dispute them with their vassals and neighbours, was the
pitiless and barbaric right of appropriating the contents of ships
happening to be wrecked on their shores.

[Illustration: Figs. 24 and 25.--Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd with
a thick Blade; and Archer, in Fighting Dress, drawing the String of his
Crossbow with a double-handled Winch.--From the Miniatures of the
"Jouvencel," and the "Chroniques" of Froissart, Manuscripts of the
Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

When the feudal nobles granted to their vassals the right of assembling on
certain days, in order to hold fairs and markets, they never neglected to
reserve to themselves some tax on each head of cattle, as well as on the
various articles brought in and put up for sale. As these fairs and
markets never failed to attract a great number of buyers and sellers, this
formed a very lucrative tax for the noble (Fig. 26).

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Flemish Peasants at the Cattle Market.--Miniature
of the "Chroniques de Hainaut." Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century, vol.
ii. fol. 204 (Library of the Dukes of Burgundy, Brussels).]

The right of _marque_, or reprisal, was a most barbarous custom. A famous
example is given of it. In 1022, William the Pious, Count of Angouleme,
before starting for a pilgrimage to Rome, made his three brothers, who
were his vassals, swear to live in honourable peace and good friendship.
But, notwithstanding their oath, two of the brothers, having invited the
third to the Easter festivities, seized him at night in his bed, put out
his eyes so that he might not find the way to his castle, and cut out his
tongue so that he might not name the authors of this horrible treatment.
The voice of God, however, denounced them, and the Count of Angouleme,
shuddering with horror, referred the case to his sovereign, the Duke of
Aquitaine, William IV., who immediately came, and by fire and sword
exercised his right of _marque_ on the lands of the two brothers, leaving
them nothing but their lives and limbs, after having first put out their
eyes and cut out their tongues, so as to inflict on them the penalty of

The right of sporting or hunting was of all prerogatives that dearest to,
and most valued by the nobles. Not only were the severest and even
cruellest penalties imposed on "vilains" who dared to kill the smallest
head of game, but quarrels frequently arose between nobles of different
degrees on the subject, some pretending to have a feudal privilege of
hunting on the lands of others (Fig. 27). From this tyrannical exercise of
the right of hunting, which the least powerful of the nobles only
submitted to with the most violent and bitter feelings, sprung those old
and familiar ballads, which indicate the popular sentiment on the subject.
In some of these songs the inveterate hunters are condemned, by the order
of Fairies or of the Fates, either to follow a phantom stag for
everlasting, or to hunt, like King Artus, in the clouds and to catch a fly
every hundred years.

The right of jurisdiction, which gave judicial power to the dukes and
counts in cases arising in their domains, had no appeal save to the King
himself, and this was even often contested by the nobles, as for instance,
in the unhappy case of Enguerrand de Coucy. Enguerrand had ordered three
young Flemish noblemen, who were scholars at the Abbey of "St. Nicholas
des Bois," to be seized and hung, because, not knowing that they were on
the domain of the Lord of Coucy, they had killed a few rabbits with
arrows. St. Louis called the case before him. Enguerrand answered to the
call, but only to dispute the King's right, and to claim the judgment of
his peers. The King, without taking any notice of the remonstrance,
ordered Enguerrand to be locked up in the big tower of the Louvre, and was
nearly applying the law of _retaliation_ to his case. Eventually he
granted him letters of pardon, after condemning him to build three
chapels, where masses were continually to be said for the three victims;
to give the forest where the young scholars had been found hunting, to the
Abbey of "St. Nicholas des Bois;" to lose on all his estates the rights of
jurisdiction and sporting; to serve three years in the Holy Land; and to
pay to the King a fine of 12,500 pounds tournois. It must be remembered
that Louis IX., although most generous in cases relating simply to private
interests, was one of the most stubborn defenders of royal prerogatives.

A right which feudalists had the greatest interest in observing, and
causing to be respected, because they themselves might with their
wandering habits require it at any moment, was that of _safe convoy_, or
_guidance_. This right was so powerful, that it even applied itself to the
lower orders, and its violation was considered the most odious crime;
thus, in the thirteenth century, the King of Aragon was severely abused by
all persons and all classes, because in spite of this right he caused a
Jew to be burned so as not to have to pay a debt which the man claimed of

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Nobleman in Hunting Costume, preceded by his
Servant, trying to find the Scent of a Stag.--From a Miniature in the Book
of Gaston Phoebus ("Des Deduitz de la Chasse des Bestes
Sauvaiges").--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (National Library of

The right of "the Crown" should also be mentioned, which consisted of a
circle of gold ornamented in various fashions, according to the different
degrees of feudal monarchy, which vassals had to present to their lord on
the day of his investiture. The right of seal was a fee or fine they had
to pay for the charters which their lord caused to be delivered to them.

The duty of _aubaine_ was the fine or due paid by merchants, either in
kind or money, to the feudal chief, when they passed near his castle,
landed in his ports, or exposed goods for sale in his markets.

The nobles of second order possessed among their privileges that of
wearing spurs of silver or gold according to their rank of knighthood; the
right of receiving double rations when prisoners of war; the right of
claiming a year's delay when a creditor wished to seize their land; and
the right of never having to submit to torture after trial, unless they
were condemned to death for the crime they had committed. If a great baron
for serious offences confiscated the goods of a noble who was his vassal,
the latter had a right to keep his palfrey, the horse of his squire,
various pieces of his harness and armour, his bed, his silk robe, his
wife's bed, one of her dresses, her ring, her cloth stomacher, &c.

The nobles alone possessed the right of having seats of honour in churches
and in chapels (Fig. 28), and to erect therein funereal monuments, and we
know that they maintained this right so rigorously and with so much
effrontery, that fatal quarrels at times arose on questions of precedence.
The epitaphs, the placing of tombs, the position of a monument, were all
subjects for conflicts or lawsuits. The nobles enjoyed also the right of
_disinheritance_, that is to say, of claiming the goods of a person dying
on their lands who had no direct heir; the right of claiming a tax when a
fief or domain changed hands; the right of _common oven_, or requiring
vassals to make use of the mill, the oven, or the press of the lord. At
the time of the vintage, no peasant might sell his wine until the nobles
had sold theirs. Everything was a source of privilege for the nobles.
Kings and councils waived the necessity of their studying, in order to be
received as bachelors of universities. If a noble was made a prisoner of
war, his life was saved by his nobility, and his ransom had practically to
be raised by the "vilains" of his domains. The nobles were also exempted
from serving in the militia, nor were they obliged to lodge soldiers, &c.
They had a thousand pretexts for establishing taxes on their vassals, who
were generally considered "taxable and to be worked at will." Thus in the
domain of Montignac, the Count of Perigord claimed among other things as
follows: "for every case of censure or complaint brought before him, 10
deniers; for a quarrel in which blood was shed, 60 sols; if blood was not
shed, 7 sols; for use of ovens, the sixteenth loaf of each baking; for the
sale of corn in the domain, 43 setiers: besides these, 6 setiers of rye,
161 setiers of oats, 3 setiers of beans, 1 pound of wax, 8 capons, 17
hens, and 37 loads of wine." There were a multitude of other rights due to
him, including the provostship fees, the fees on deeds, the tolls and
furnaces of towns, the taxes on salt, on leather, corn, nuts; fees for the
right of fishing; for the right of sporting, which last gave the lord a
certain part or quarter of the game killed, and, in addition, the _dime_
or tenth part of all the corn, wine, &c., &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of the
Merchants of Paris, and Michelle de Vitry, his Wife, in the Reign of
Charles VI.--Fragment of a Picture of the Period, which was in the Chapel
of the Ursinus, and is now in the Versailles Museum.]

This worthy noble gathered in besides all this, during the religious
festivals of the year, certain tributes in money on the estate of
Montignac alone, amounting to as much as 20,000 pounds tournois. One can
judge by this rough sketch, of the income he must have had, both in good
and bad years, from his other domains in the rich county of Perigord.

It must not be imagined that this was an exceptional case; all over the
feudal territory the same state of things existed, and each lord farmed
both his lands and the persons whom feudal right had placed under his

[Illustration: Fig. 29.--Dues on Wines, granted to the Chapter of Tournai
by King Chilperic.--From the Windows of the Cathedral of Tournai,
Fifteenth Century.]

To add to these already excessive rates and taxes, there were endless
dues, under all shapes and names, claimed by the ecclesiastical lords
(Figs. 29 and 30). And not only did the nobility make without scruple
these enormous exactions, but the Crown supported them in avenging any
act, however opposed to all sense of justice; so that the nobles were
really placed above the great law of equality, without which the
continuance of social order seemed normally impossible.

The history of the city of Toulouse gives us a significant example on
this subject.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--The Bishop of Tournai receiving the Tithe of Beer
granted by King Chilperic.--From the Windows of the Cathedral of Tournai,
Fifteenth Century.]

On Easter Day, 1335, some students of the university, who had passed the
night of the anniversary of the resurrection of our Saviour in drinking,
left the table half intoxicated, and ran about the town during the hours
of service, beating pans and cauldrons, and making such a noise and
disturbance, that the indignant preachers were obliged to stop in the
middle of their discourses, and claimed the intervention of the municipal
authorities of Toulouse. One of these, the lord of Gaure, went out of
church with five sergeants, and tried himself to arrest the most turbulent
of the band. But as he was seizing him by the body, one of his comrades
gave the lord a blow with a dagger, which cut off his nose, lips, and
part of his chin. This occurrence aroused the whole town. Toulouse had
been insulted in the person of its first magistrate, and claimed
vengeance. The author of the deed, named Aimeri de Berenger, was seized,
judged, condemned, and beheaded, and his body was suspended on the
_spikes_ of the Chateau Narbonnais.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--Fellows of the University of Paris haranguing the
Emperor Charles IV. in 1377.--From a Miniature of the Manuscript of the
"Chroniques de St. Denis," No. 8395 (National Library of Paris).]

Toulouse had to pay dearly for the respect shown to its municipal dignity.
The parents of the student presented a petition to the King against the
city, for having dared to execute a noble and to hang his body on a
gibbet, in opposition to the sacred right which this noble had of
appealing to the judgment of his peers. The Parliament of Paris finally
decided the matter with the inflexible partiality to the rights of rank,
and confiscated all the goods of the inhabitants, forced the principal
magistrates to go on their knees before the house of Aimeri de Berenger,
and ask pardon; themselves to take down the body of the victim, and to
have it publicly and honourably buried in the burial-ground of the
Daurade. Such was the sentence and humiliation to which one of the first
towns of the south was subjected, for having practised immediate justice
on a noble, whilst it would certainly have suffered no vindication, if the
culprit condemned to death had belonged to the middle or lower orders.

We must nevertheless remember that heavy dues fell upon the privileged
class themselves to a certain degree, and that if they taxed their poor
vassals without mercy, they had in their turn often to reckon with their
superiors in the feudal hierarchy.

_Albere_, or right of shelter, was the principal charge imposed upon the
noble. When a great baron visited his lands, his tenants were not only
obliged to give him and his followers shelter, but also provisions and
food, the nature and quality of which were all arranged beforehand with
the most extraordinary minuteness. The lesser nobles took advantage
sometimes of the power they possessed to repurchase this obligation; but
the rich, on the contrary, were most anxious to seize the occasion of
proudly displaying before their sovereign all the pomp in their power, at
the risk even of mortgaging their revenues for several years, and of
ruining their vassals. History is full of stories bearing witness to the
extravagant prodigalities of certain nobles on such occasions.

Payments in kind fell generally on the abbeys, up to 1158. That of St.
Denis, which was very rich in lands, was charged with supplying the house
and table of the King. This tax, which became heavier and heavier,
eventually fell on the Parisians, who only succeeded in ridding themselves
of it in 1374, when Charles V. made all the bourgeois of Paris noble. In
the twelfth century, all furniture made of wood or iron which was found in
the house of the Bishop at his death, became the property of the King. But
in the fourteenth century, the abbots of St. Denis, St. Germain des Pres,
St. Genevieve (Fig. 32), and a few priories in the neighbourhood of Paris,
were only required to present the sovereign with two horse-loads of
produce annually, so as to keep up the old system of fines.

This system of rents and dues of all kinds was so much the basis of social
organization in the Middle Ages, that it sometimes happened that the lower
orders benefited by it.

Thus the bed of the Bishop of Paris belonged, after his death, to the poor
invalids of the Hotel Dieu. The canons were also bound to leave theirs to
that hospital, as an atonement for the sins which they had committed. The
Bishops of Paris were required to give two very sumptuous repasts to
their chapters at the feasts of St. Eloi and St. Paul. The holy men of
St. Martin were obliged, annually, on the 10th of November, to offer to
the first President of the Court of Parliament, two square caps, and to
the first usher, a writing-desk and a pair of gloves. The executioner too
received, from various monastic communities of the capital, bread,
bottles of wine, and pigs' heads; and even criminals who were taken to
Montfaucon to be hung had the right to claim bread and wine from the nuns
of St. Catherine and the Filles Dieux, as they passed those establishments
on their way to the gibbet.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--Front of the Ancient Church of the Abbey of
Sainte-Genevieve, in Paris, founded by Clovis, and rebuilt from the
Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries.--State of the Building before its
Destruction at the End of the Last Century.]

Fines were levied everywhere, at all times, and for all sorts of reasons.
Under the name of _epices_, the magistrates, judges, reporters, and
counsel, who had at first only received sweetmeats and preserves as
voluntary offerings, eventually exacted substantial tribute in current
coin. Scholars who wished to take rank in the University sent some small
pies, costing ten sols, to each examiner. Students in philosophy or
theology gave two suppers to the president, eight to the other masters,
besides presenting them with sweetmeats, &c. It would be an endless task
to relate all the fines due by apprentices and companions before they
could reach mastership in their various crafts, nor have we yet mentioned
certain fines, which, from their strange or ridiculous nature, prove to
what a pitch of folly men may be led under the influence of tyranny,
vanity, or caprice.

Thus, we read of vassals descending to the humiliating occupation of
beating the water of the moat of the castle, in order to stop the noise of
the frogs, during the illness of the mistress; we elsewhere find that at
times the lord required of them to hop on one leg, to kiss the latch of
the castle-gate, or to go through some drunken play in his presence, or
sing a somewhat broad song before the lady.

At Tulle, all the rustics who had married during the year were bound to
appear on the Puy or Mont St. Clair. At twelve o'clock precisely, three
children came out of the hospital, one beating a drum violently, the other
two carrying a pot full of dirt; a herald called the names of the
bride-grooms, and those who were absent or were unable to assist in
breaking the pot by throwing stones at it, paid a fine.

At Perigueux, the young couples had to give the consuls a pincushion of
embossed leather or cloth of different colours; a woman marrying a second
time was required to present them with an earthen pot containing twelve
sticks of different woods; a woman marrying for the third time, a barrel
of cinders passed thirteen times through the sieve, and thirteen spoons
made of wood of fruit-trees; and, lastly, one coming to the altar for the
fifth time was obliged to bring with her a small tub containing the
excrement of a white hen!

"The people of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period were literally
tied down with taxes and dues of all sorts," says M. Mary-Lafon. "If a few
gleams of liberty reached them, it was only from a distance, and more in
the hope of the future than as regarded the present. As an example of the
way people were treated, a certain Lord of Laguene, spoken of in the old
chronicles of the south, may be mentioned. Every year, this cunning baron
assembled his tenants in the village square. A large maypole was planted,
and on the top was attached a wren. The lord, pointing to the little bird,
declared solemnly, that if any 'vilain' succeeded in piercing him with an
arrow he should be exempt from that year's dues. The vilains shot away,
but, to the great merriment of their lord, never hit, and so had to
continue paying the dues."

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--Ramparts of the Town of Aigues-Mortes, one of the
Municipalities of Languedoc.]

One can easily understand how such a system, legalised by law, hampered
the efforts for freedom, which a sense of human dignity was constantly
raising in the bosoms of the oppressed. The struggle was long, often
bloody, and at times it seemed almost hopeless, for on both sides it was
felt that the contest was between two principles which were incompatible,
and one of which must necessarily end by annihilating the other. Any
compromise between the complete slavery and the personal freedom of the
lower orders, could only be a respite to enable these implacable
adversaries to reinforce themselves, so as to resume with more vigour than
ever this desperate combat, the issue of which was so long to remain

[Illustration: Louis IV Leaving Alexandria on the 24th of April 1507 To
chastise the city of Genoa.

From a miniature by Jean Marot. No 5091, Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

These efforts to obtain individual liberty displayed themselves more
particularly in towns; but although they became almost universal in the
west, they had not the same importance or character everywhere. The feudal
system had not everywhere produced the same consequences. Thus, whilst in
ancient Gaul it had absorbed all social vitality, we find that in Germany,
the place of its origin, the Teutonic institutions of older date gave a
comparative freedom to the labourers. In southern countries again we find
the same beneficial effect from the Roman rule.

On that long area of land reaching from the southern slope of the Cevennes
to the Apennines, the hand of the barbarian had weighed much less heavily

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