[ocr errors]


learned and well arranged, as bringing of the great Charles. And now was the out the facts with great distinctness and time of re-formation. For nearly eighty perspicuity, as — no slight merit — send years after the division of 887, the Holy ing the reader away with a very definite Roman Empire was "in a kind of impression upon his mind of what has abeyance.” It was in the second half of passed through it.

the tenth century that it began to shape So much concerning the principal mod itself definitely as a German power under ern authorities upon the life and pon- the Saxon Oito – the Regnum Teutonitificate of Gregory VII. In what I am cum, if I may so speak, its backbone, about to write, I shall avail myself of although the iron crown of Lombardy, them as the occasion demands, as well as imposed at Milan, was a splendid accesof the invaluable collection of Gregory's sory, and the imperial crown bestowed at Epistles * which has come down to us Rome conferred the prestige of the most invaluable, because it reveals to us, as sacred and venerable of secular titles, the nothing else could, his real mind — and incommunicable majesty of the Cæsars. of the works of writers contemporary with France, in the sense which the word conhim which present the most vivid and au veys to us, as yet was not. The kingdom thentic account of his acts and times. of the West Franks, Karolingia, bad, in

deed, begun to receive this name. And

it is from the death of Louis le Fainéant, No adequate appreciation of Hilde- the last of the Carlovingians, and the brand's work is possible unless we realize election of the first of the Capets, Hugh, the conditions in which it was done. And that the beginning of the French State this is no easy matter, so wide is the must be traced. But at the date of which difference between the Europe of the I am speaking the date of Hildebrand's eleventh century and the Europe of the birth Robert II., who ruled in Paris, nineteenth in many of the things that reigned directly only over the royal domost largely make up human existence. main, which "took in the greater part of The thoughts of the men of that age about the Isle of France, the territory to which this life and the next, their social rela- the old name specially clung, and the tions, their political organizations, their greater part of the later government of standard of rights and duties, are as far Orleans, besides some outlying fiefs holdremoved from ours as is their speech, and ing directly from the king,”* while around require the like careful study to become his territories were grouped the great intelligible to us. When Hildebrand was feudatory dukes and counts of Normandy, born, soinewhere in the second decade of Brittany, and Champagne, of Burgundy the eleventh century, England, notwith- and Aquitaine, of Toulouse, Gascony, and standing the constructive work of the. Flanders. The process of absorption kings of the line of Egbert, can hardly be whereby " the King of the Franks”, said to have been fully welded into a to add to his own dominions the lands of single nation. It was Cnut, the organizer one great feudatory after another, and to also, in great measure, of the Scandina: aggrandize them by the acquisition of forvian States of Denmark, Norway, and eign territory, had not yet begun; indeed, Sweden, over which he likewise ruled, the ruler of the great Norman fief, which, whose reign of twenty years, from 1017 to cut off a century before from the duchy 1035, began among us that definitive work of France, extended from the Epte to the of consolidation, which two centuries of sea westwards, was a far more powerful foreign kings, Norman and Angevin, were potentate than his royal suzerain, while to carry forward - a work the result of the Norsemen over whom he ruled, al. which should be to make "our Britain though forgetful of the language, the habwhole within herself.” On the continentits, and the traditions of their pirate of Europe a similar process was taking ancestors, yet retained those ineradicable place. The previous century bad wit- characteristics of their race, that restless nessed the dissolution of the inheritance energy, that enthusiasm for the ideal, that

dauntless daring, that “ Berserker rage,” • They may be read, together with his Diplomata which were so potently to influence the Pontificia, his Acts, as given by the Boliandists including his Life, by Paulus Bernriedensis, and other inportant documents relating to him, in vol. cxlviii. of * Freeman's “Historical Geography of Europe," Migue's “Patrologia Latina." Most valuable informa. vol. i., p. 330. Although I have the misfortune to differ tion about Gregory and his times, let me add, will be from Mr. Freeman on some very important points. I found in a forin easily accessible, in vol. i. of Wat- gladly bear testimony to the merits of this admirable terich's Romanorum Pontificum Vitæ ab æqualibus work, which no student of European history should be conscriptæ.”

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

course of European history. Spain, like 'sentative of the people.* Nor was the France, was still a thing of the future, imperial power alone political. It was only its nucleus existing in the States also religious. It extended into what we which had sprung up as the tide of Sara- know as the domain of conscience. Not cen invasion had receded from the Ibe. only was the emperor, as pontifex maxirian peninsula. In eastern Europe the mus, the supreme head of all cults; he monarchy which took its name from the was also the final arbiter of the moral law, recently converted Slave people who dwelt which, as it is needless to say, was quite in the valley of the Vistula — the Polacks, a separate matter from the worships of people of the plains — was shaping itself | pagan antiquity. Nor was his apotheosis under the great king Boleslas. And Tu-a mere idle imagination of servile flattery. ranian Hungary, which had received the

Calo Tonantem credidimus Jovem faith about the same time as Poland, was

Regnare : præsens divus habebitur being wrought into a Christian polity by

Augustus : a still more famous monarch — St. Ste. phen. Of the empire of New Rome, now sings the poet. But “the present deity practically Greek, I need not speak. It was the real one, in whom men believed lay outside the limits of Latin Christen- and before whom they trembled; and as dom, as also did Russia, Greek too in re time went on the Olympian Thunderer ligion and civilization, and hardly as yet became more and more shadowy, until, a accounted a European power,

century later, the satirist could affirm that Such, in the brief outline which alone is only babes believed in him. It is not my possible or, indeed, necessary here, is the purpose here to relate how this great fabaspect which the map of Europe exhibits ric of imperial power fell, crushed out, so as the eleventh century opens. Every- to speak, as the spiritual empire of the where the new nationalities are struggling Christian Church, in which it rightly disinto full life, assuming the forms, distinct cerned its irreconcilable foe, rose slowly though inchoate, which they were to pre. into ecumenical proportions -- like the sent in the modern world. So that we stone cut without hands, seen in the vishave, in some sort,

ion of the Hebrew seer while the vig.

orous hordes of barbarians from the The baby figure of the giant mass forests of Germany beat upon it from Of things to come at large.

without. It fell, and great was the fall

of it. But long before its final catastroAnd as we can now see, with the wisdom phe the Church had stripped it of its easy of attainment after the event, the moral and spiritual authority. To her great question was in what mould these the præsens divus of the Roman poet new and plastic nationalities should be was no divinity at all, but a type and fore. cast. One note of the times, which should runner of Antichrist — "that man of sin not be lost sight of, is the singular iden- who opposeth and exalteth himself above tity of ideas, of institutions, of habits all that is called God or is worshipped which prevailed among the various Euro- so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple pean peoples. Throughout Christendom of God, showing himself that he is God." ihe public order was substantially of one Even so early as the second century we type. Society was organized upon a defi- find Tertullian, with a boldness which it nite set of principles; principles as far is difficult for us adequately to appreciate, removed from those upon which the an- writing, "I pray for the emperor, for his cient world had rested as from those armies, for the security of the empire, for upon which the modern world is based. the peace of the world. As to other The Roman theory of sovereignty, in the things I am independent of him. For shape which it assumed under the emper- my Lord is one, the omnipotent and eterors, meant the concentration of all power nal Lord, and the selfsame is his Lord in the hands of one man. The old repub- also.”† Here is, in few words, the cause lican forms, indeed, remained. The nom- for which the martyrs victoriously died. ipal authority was still that of the Sena. The enfranchisement of the human con. tus populusque Romanus. Here was the science from secular chains was the gift source and fount whence the preroga. which, purchased at the price of their tives of the ruler were derived. But the shadow of this great name merely fur. • So Justinian, Inst. i., tit. 3, 6: “Quod principi nished the thinnest veil to the supreme ir. placuit legis habet vigorem quum lege regia quæ de responsible dictatorship wielded by Cæsar jus imperio bata est, populus ei et, in eum omne suum as the perpetual and indefeasible repre. † Apolog.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

own blood, they gave unto men. Thus, where the law was more powerful than was the State shorn of half its ancient men." It is manifest that where the domain. And as the years went on, the servile maxim prevailed, “ Quidquid prinnew political order, of Teutonic origin, cipi placuit legis habet vigorem,” liberty but largely affected by Roman influences, thus conceived of was ill-assured. Still, which had arisen and was spread through even in the darkest times of antique CæEurope by the beginning of the eleventh sarism, the idea of the supremacy of law century, completed the work of dissolu. as the guarantee of personal freedom tion by breaking up the unity of civil remained. In feudalism - taken by itself authority. Charles the Great had dreamed - that idea was wanting. It was a miliof an imperial realm, in which he as tary or materialistic reorganization of soemperor, and the pope as pontifex maxi- ciety broken into chaotic fragments by inus, the first of his prelates, should share the disappearance of the great imperial the supreme rule that had been concen- power. Its tendency was to annihilate trated in the hands of earlier Cæsars. individual rights, to shut men up in cateHis vast design received but an imperfectgories of dependence, to make the arbiaccomplishment. The new political order trary will of another take the place of was not to be cast into the old mould, nor that will which is the norm or rule for were the relations of the sacerdotium and all men.” M. Taine has observed that the imperium to be such as Charles had voluntary engagement was the only root supposed. As one after another of his (la racine uniqne) of the feudal system.* successors sinks under the weight of the It is a saying which certainly requires imperial crown, the union between the much modification, to bring it into accord Empire and the papacy becomes weaker, with the facts. True it is that “the sphere while everywhere the tendency is to sub- occupied in them by contract principally stitute in the secular order a hierarchy of distinguishes feudal institutions from the powers for the one supreme direct ruler. unadulterated usages of primitive tribes.” The ninth and tenth centuries are the But it is also true that “a fief was an period of a social and political revolution : organically complete brotherhood of asso

ciates whose proprietary and personal Magnus ab integro sæclorum nascitur ordo.

rights were inextricably blended togethThat new great world-order was the feudal er;” that "it had much in common with system, and its dominant note was, if I an Indian village community, and more in may use a modern word, positivism.* common with a Highland clan;" that The Empire, despotism as it was, yet was "the lord had many of the characteristics avowedly based upon the spiritual power of a patriarchal chieftain.” † The very of law, and professedly derived from essence of the feudal system is that every popular delegation; and so was in itself one was the man of some one else. The a confession, however hypocritical, of good vassal was its highest social type. those rights of the immaterial part of Inflexible — if I may so speak, canine man's nature, the recognition of which is fidelity to one's lord was the supreme the only true safeguard of individual free. virtue. It is extremely difficult for us in dom. Feudalism recognized little else the present day to realize the all-absorb. than matter and force. It is of much ing closeness of the relation involved in importance that the true character of feudal fealty. A book which happens to feudality should be accurately apprehend. lie before me as I write Gower's Coned. It arose in an age full of violence fossio Amantismay serve to supply and confusion, when might was well nigh an illustration of it before I

pass on. equivalent to right, when the great idea The poet tells us that it was “for King of law seemed to have perished, and, with Richard's sake” that he wrote: that is, law, liberty, of which' law is the life. upon a suggestion thrown out by the king : * By liberty,” as Bossuet truly says, “the To whom belongeth my legeaunce Romans, like the Greeks, meant a state With all min herte's obeisaunce where men were subject only to law, and In all that ever a lege man

Unto his king may don or can. • It is necessary." to speak by the book ” in making such expressions as these, if we really mention of positivism. Let me, therefore, say that I use the word in the sense indicated by M. Littré: "La understand them, will avail better than philosophie positive est l'ensemble du savoir humain disposé suivant un certain ordre. .



[ocr errors]

*"Lorsqu'on considère la société féodale à son définerons-nous le savoir humain ? Nous le définerons origine on s'aperçoit qu'elle a pour racine unique . l'étude des forces qui appartiennent la matière et des l'engagement voluntaire.” (Nouveaux Essais de Criconditions ou lois qui régissent ces forces." (Auguste tique et d'Histoire, p. 200.) Comte et la Philosophie Positive, p. 42.)

† Maine's Ancieni Law, p. 365.

Mais comment

- the

many a ponderous dissertation to reveal with the feudal organization had grown to us the true spirit, the ethos of feudal- up the_great ecclesiastical system by ism. I do not know that it is too much which Europe had been formed into a to say ihat to a large extent the system spiritual commonwealth called Christenwas an undoing of the work of so many dom. The principles upon which the generations of Roman jurisconsults, and. Church was based were precisely those a going back from contract to status as which were most urgently needed to corthe foundation of civil relations. It was rect in the world the evils of feudality; a vast military and territorial aristocracy, Feudalism tended to the annibilation of in which the ideas of individual freedom the individual. The Church taught, and and political right had become merged in could not keep from teaching, as her first the relations between lord and vassal. It postulate, the supreme worth of human was, as Professor Stubbs well observes, personality. Feudalism, essentially aris. “a graduated system of jurisdiction based tocratic, set the greatest store upon on land tenure, in which every lord judged, glories of our birth and state.” The commanded, and taxed the class next be-Church maintained the absolute equality low him; in which abject slavery formed of all men, not in secular rights, as the the lowest, and irresponsible tyranny the sophists of 1789 feigned, but in their highest grade; in which private war, pri. common spiritual nature, in their common vate coinage, and private prisons took dependence upon and accountability to the place of the imperial institutions of God. The supreme argument of feudalpower.”

;"* And as this learned and care-ism was the sword. The Church wielded ful writer elsewhere remarks: “Land has mightier weapons, not carnal but spiritbecome the sacramental tie of all public ual, the terrors of that divine law, ruling relations. The poor man depends on the over all, which has its sanctions in man's rich, not as his chosen patron, but as the conscience and instinct of retribution. owner of the land that he cultivates, the The highest ideal of feudalism was the lord of the court to which he does ser- loyal and valiant soldier, the probus miles. vice, the leader whom he is bound to The Church set forward the example of follow to the host.” † Such were the main nobler heroes – tender maidens like St. features of the public order which had Agnes, slave girls like St. Afra, beggars sprung up upon the ruins of the majestic like St. Alexius, who “by faith subfabric of Roman polity and Roman dued kingdoms, wrought justice ... out law. But to prevent a misapprehension of weakness were made strong, waxed which I should regret, let me point out valiant in war, put to fight the armies of that I recognize as fully as any one the the aliens.” Feudalism sternly forbade beneficent work which feudalism had to the individual to break “his birth's inviddo in the modern world. While dissent-ious bar.” The Church proclaimed loudly ing as widely as possible from the posi- the doctrine of a career for talents. Her tivist school of historians, I acknowledge constitution was still largely democratic. a profound truth in the canon that every- The suffragium de persona, which the thing which has existed has had its reason general body of the faithful bad, from the for existing Feudalism was a stern earliest times, possessed in the choice of schoolmaster to the new nationalities, their pastors, however intermittently excoming to them with a rod, and by no ercised, yet subsisted as a fact. Her relimeans in the spirit of meekness. But its gious houses were so many little republics discipline was not less salutary than rude. scattered up and down Europe. Her It was, as M. Thierry somewhere ob- councils and synods were real deliberaserves, a necessary revolution,” “a nat- tive assemblies. Her free institutions ural bond of defence between the lords were the germ and norm of the civil fran. and the neighboring peasants; and, chises which were afterwards to spring guided by religion, it was the instrument up. Once more. Feudalism was, by its of the slow but sure elevation of the very nature, disruptive; its tendency to peasants. It found them, for the most universal war; its practical effect to renpart, slaves. It led them, through serf- der peregrinus as of old a synonym for dom, to enfranchisement.

hostis. "But as political unity perished

* For feudality was not the only great from Europe a higher unity developed, fact of the ages which witnessed the rise and “ from the bosom of the most frightof the new nationalities. Side by side ful disorder the world has ever seen,

* " Hostis enim apud majores nostros is dicebatur, • Stubbs's Constitutional History, vol. i., pp. 255-6. quem nunc peregrinum dicimus." (Cicero de Ufficiis, † Ibid., p. 167.

l. 1., C. 12.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


arose the largest and purest idea, per-| that great ecclesiastical statesman, as we haps, which ever drew men together find it in the graphic narrative of his conthe idea of a spiritual society. "*

temporary, Anastasius,* without feeling Of that society the Roman Church was that he realized the aimn and ideal of the the centre and head. No period in ee- supreme pontificate in a way untrodden clesiastical history is more worthy of by any of his predecessors. His short careful and exact study — of much more reign of nine years is the translation into careful and exact study than it has as yet fact of the ecclesiastical system set forth received – than the period between the in the decretals of Isidore documents death of Charles the Great and the rise which, whatever the real history of them, of Hildebrand. The immediate effect of though false in form, are certainly true in the departure of the great Frankish mon- substance. And so Neander: "The arch from the scene where he had played pseudo-Isidore was, at all events, but the so high a part was to add vastly to the organ of a tendency of the religious and authority of the Roman pontiff. Relieved ecclesiastical spirit which prevailed among from the shadow of his great name, the the great inasses of the men among whom Apostolic see grew into a hitherto un- he lived. He had no idea of introducing known strength. Charles,” remarks M. a new code, but only of presenting, in a Villemain in his rhetorical way, "in dec- connected form, the principles which must orating the pope with so many titles, had be recognized by every one as correct, merely wished to raise a gilt statue which and on which depended the well-being of should place the imperial crown upon his the Church.” + own head. After Charles, when his em- As a matter of fact, and apart from all pire was ruled with a feebler hand and theories, the close union thus subsisting divided by factions, the pontifical statue between the Roman see and the several came to life, and wanted to reign.” † The churches throughout Europe constituted similitude is striking, and so, helpful to the true strength of the spiritualty, and the imagination. But it must not be offered the sole guarantee for its indepressed too far. M. Villemain certainly pendence. The Church is in the world, underrates the ecumenical jurisdiction and it is impossible for her, in any age, to the exercise of which by the popes is escape the influence of contemporary clearly traceable from the dawn of eccle- events and institutions. And it was the siastical history. It is not too much to tendency of feudalism, as it is the tensay that, as in what has been called the dency of every great movement in the

happy anarchy” of the nascent Chris- public order, to bring all things into sub. tian kingdom we trace the rudimentary jection unto itself; to bend them into its forms of the polity which was to be, the own mould, or if it cannot so bend them, most salient fact discernible is to use to break them in pieces as out of harmony the phrase of St. Irenæus — the potentior with the age and as obstacles to its own principalitas of the Roman see. It is development. How nearly feudalism trias certain that, “ as the Church grew into umphed over the ecclesiastical element in form, so did the power of the pope devel- the two centuries between Nicholas I. and op." | We may give what explanation Gregory VII., the history of the papacy we will of the fact. But no well-instruct itself may serve to shoiv. I am well ed scholar will question it. And it is aware that the estimate long current of the equally beyond question that long before saddest portion of that period, the hunthe time of Charles, " the centralizing dred years which closed the first Chris. process by which the see of St. Peter tian millennium, needs large qualification became the sovereign head of Christen- to make it just. Iron, leaden, dark as dom” § was in all essentials complete. that age was, it was the time when the Not the less clear, however, is it that in monastic orders were informed by fresh the half-century from the death of Charles, energy and sanctity, and the great Cluniac in 814, to the election of Pope St. Nicho foundation supplied the norm for the relas I., in 858, the nature, extent, and attri- formed religious lise; when the new butes of the papal sovereignty were more school of Latin lyric poetry was maturing clearly; precisely, and universally appre. its laws and developing its capacities, and hended. And no one can read the life of already giving a foretaste of the glories

[ocr errors]

to come in the strains of sweet singers * Guizot, Lec. XII.

like Godescalcus and St. Notker ; wbile + Vol. i., p. 145.

Cardinal Newman's Development of Christian # It will be found in Part I. of the third volume of Doctrine, p. 154, ed. 1878.

Muratori's “ Rerum Italicarum Scriptores." § Ibid., p. 155.

† Church History, vol. vi., p. 7, Eng. tr.


« VorigeDoorgaan »