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INSTITUTIONS, LOCAL AND SELF GOVERNMENTS. 359
in name ; and at his death in 741 divided the three great
mayoralties among his sons. The weak Merovingian kings
had now become puppets in the hands of the mayors. His
son, Pippin the Short, after putting down his own brothers
and being now, in fact, king of the Franks, suggested to the
pope whether it would not be well to make him such by a
solemn, religious consecration. The pope entered into his
views, the magnates consented, and so he became in name
the first king of the dynasty of the Carolings. He was suc-
ceeded by his son Charles (Charlemagne), who, in 800, was
crowned by Leo III. emperor of the west, and got into his
hands nearly all of central Europe.*
The history of this office affords a very striking illustration
of an institution growing up without law, by the force of cir-
cumstances that favored its development. One of these
favoring circumstances was the political and personal weak-
ness of the Merovingian kings. Another is that the East-
Franks were the most warlike and uncorrupted by vices of
all the portions composing the Frank kingdom. Still another
is that the most powerful family among the East-Franks re-
tained to a good degree the support of their brethren in the
aristocracy. They also ingratiated themselves, nothwithstand-
ing arbitrary acts relating to ecclesiastical property, with the
leaders in the church. It is noticeable also that great ability
through a number of generations distinguished a family which
after Charlemagne ran down and ran out.
When the descendants of Pippin of Heristal became kings,
they abolished the high office of mayor of the palace, lest
others should climb by the same ladder. After this, and
perhaps on this account, the old word seneschal came again.
The feudal system itself presents to us an instance of a
vast and complicated institution, growing up out of the union
of vassality, the beneficiary holding of property and terri-
*Comp. Waitz., u. s., ii., 411-428 (ed. 2); Roth Beneficialw., p.
236, 309, 357 ; and of older writers, Lobell, Gregor von Tours, p.
183 • Perz, Hausmeier, Hanover, 1819.