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D 127.L14 
Manners, customs, and dress during the M 

3 1924 014 084 747 

In epypbaim co mint ao ft abfolutc mcipxat ebfcojt 
mat:nonoi; pomint La; ana v Aferto oomino filij ttv. 
Ina : ntC: Pe-sTadiutoiiug f adcmtc dt.tmt in aula fcFa ctusi 


(Costume of IS' 1 century.) 
Facsimile of a miniature from the Breviary of the cardinal Qrimani, attributed lo MemJing. Bibl. I. 
of S. Mate, Venice. (From a copy in the possession ofJtf. Amhroise Firmin-Didot.) 

The King inclines his sceptre towards the Queer, indicating his appreciation of her person and her gifts; five 
attend the Queen and five of the King's courtiers station his right hand. 








(Bibliophile Jacob), 

illustrate* Voith 




,8 74 . 


HE several successive editions of "Tlie 
Arts of the Middle Ages and Period 
of the Renaissance " sufficiently 
testify to its appreciation bv 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 entire!)" with an epoch. "The arts, considered in their generality, 
are the true expressions of society. The}' 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 — unde- 
niable witnesses of its spirit and manners for future generations. l!ut 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, hut to the man of the world 
also. Tn it, too, " we retrace not only one single period, hut 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 bar- 
barian, 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 Ml, 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, etc., 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 prodio-ious 
creation, the working of which occupied the whole of the Middle Ao-es 

b ' 

Hardly does modern society, civilised by Christianity, reach the fulness 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 
ol scenes, sad or gay, which composed their Inane life? We should like In 
follow" them in public and private occupations, and t«> know their manner ol' 
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. Alter 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 tor 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 tin 1 
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. Fol- 
lowing 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, Bepping, Benjamin Guerard, Be Roux do Taney, IT. Martin, 



Mary-Lafon, Francisque Michel, A. Monteil, Rabutau, Ferdinand Sere, 
Horace de Yiel-Castel, A. de la Villegille, Vallet de Virivillc. 

As in ilie volume of (lie Arts of the Middle Ages, engraving- and chrorno- 
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 cpiite recently found means of reproducing with 
so much fideHtjr the gems of Italian painting. 


(Bibliophile Jacob). 



Disorganization of the "West at the Beginning of the Middle Ages. — Mixture of Koraan, 
Germanic, and Gallic Institutions. — Fusion organized under Charlemagne. — Royal 
Authority.— -Position of the Great Feudalists. — Division of the Territory and Pre- 
rogatives attached to Landed Possessions. — Freemen and Tenants. — The Ba'ti, 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. — Eights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe-Conducts, Kansoni, 
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 Municipali- 
ties in Italy, Germany, and France. — Municipal Institutions ami Associations. — The 
Community. — The Middle-Class Cities {Cites Bourgeoises). — Origin of National Unity. 





The Merovingian < 'unties. — Pastimes of the Nobles : ii anting", War. — Domestic Arrange- 
ments. — -Private Life of Charlemagne. — Domestic Habits under the Carlo vingians. — 
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 Aujou. — Variety, Pages, Esquires, Maids of Honour. — Opulence 
of the Bourgeoisie. — " Le Menagier de Paris "— Ancient 1 ) wettings. — State of Rustics 
at various Periods. — "Rustic Sayings,'' by Noel du Pad. 


History of Bread.— Vegetables and Plants used in Cooking.— Fruits.— Butchers' Meat- 
Poultry, Game. — Milk, Butter, Cheese, and Fggs. — Fish and Shellfish. — Beverages: 
Beer 1 , Cider, Wine, Sweet Wine, Refreshing Brinks, Brandy. — Cookery. — Soups, 
Boiled Food, Pies, Stews, .Salads, Boasts, Grills. — Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar, Ver- 
juice. — Sweet.-:, Desserts, Pastry. — Meals and Feasts. — Bules of Serving at Table from 
the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries. 



HUNTING .... 178 

Venery and Hawking-. — Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle. — Gaston Phoebus anil his Book. — 
The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen. — Sporting Societies and Brotherhoods.— Sporting- 
Kings : Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XL, Charles VI] I., 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. — Fowding. 


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 deMars. — Cours Pleniercs and Cours Couronnees. — Jugglers, Tumblers, 
and Minstrels. — Rope-dancers. — Fireworks. — Gymnastics. — Cards and Dice. — Chess, 
Marbles, and Billiards. — La Soule, La Pirouette, &a. — Small Games for Private 
Society. — History of Dancing. — Ballet des Ardents.— The " Orchcsographie " (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 Pro- 
vence and Languedoc. — Establishment of Fairs. — Fairs of Landit, Champagne, 
Bi-aucairc, 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. 


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 Trade Corporations and other Communities. — Energy of 
the Corporations. — Masters, Journeymen, Supernumeraries, and Apprentices. — 
Religious Festivals and Trade Societies. — Trade Unions. 


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 
le Bel. —Pecuniary Embarrassment of his Successors. — Charles V. re-establishes Order 
in Finances. — Disasters of France under Charles VI., Charles VII. , and Jacques 

Ctfur. — Changes in Taxation from Louis XL to Francis 1. — The Great Financiers. 

Florimond Robertet. 




The. Family the Origin of Government. — Origin of Supreme Power amongst tho 
Franks. — The Legislation of Barbarism humanised by I Christianity.— Right of Justice 
inherent to the Right of Property. — The Laws under ( lharlemagnc. — .1 udiciul Forms. 
— Witnesses.— Duels, &c. — Organization of Royal Justice under St. Lewis.— Tie: 
Chatelet and the Provost of Paris. — Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its 
Responsibilities. — The Bailiwicks. — Struggles between Parliament and the ( 'hfitelot.— 
Codification of the Customs and Usages. — Official Cupidity. — Comparison between 
the Parliament and the Chatelet. 


The Old Man of the Mountain and his Followers in Syria.— The Castle of Alamond, 
Paradise ot' Assassins. — Charlemagne the Founder of Secret Tribunals amongst the 
Saxons. — The Holy Yehmc. — Organization of the Tribunal of the Tern- I'nitge, and 
Modes adopted in its Procedures. — Condemnations and Execution of Sentences. — 
The Truth respecting the Free Judges of Westphalia.— Duration and Fall of the 
Yehmic Tribunal. — Council of Ten, in Yeniee ; its < 'ode 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 Arquebuse. — Tickling. — Flaying. — Drowning. — Imprisonment. 
— Regulations of Prisons. — The Iron Cage. — " The Leads" of Venice. 

JEWS 434 

Dispersion of the dens.— Jewish Quarters in the Medieval Towns. — The Ghetto of 
Rome. — Ancient Prague. — The Giudccca of Yeniee. — Condition of the Jews; 
Animosity of the People against them; Vexatious Treatment ami Severity of the 
Sovereigns. — The Jews of Lincoln. — The Jews of Blois. — Mission of the Pas- 
toureaux. — Extermination of the Jews.— The Price at which the Jews purchased 
Indulgences. — Maries 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. 


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 Slung.— The Great Coesre, Chief of 
the Vagrants; bis Vassals and Subjects.— Divisions of the Slang People ; its Decay, 
and the Causes thereof.— ('ours des Miracles.— The Camp of Rogues.— Cunning 
Language, or Slang.— Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets. 




. 481 

Origin of Modern Ceremonial. — Uncertainty of Fiench Ceremonial up to the End of the 
Sixteenth Century. — Consecration of the Kings of Fiance. — 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. — Scats of Justice. — Visits of Ceremony between Persons of 
Rank. — Mourning. — Social Courtesies. — Popular Demonstrations and National Com- 
memorations. — New Year's Day. — Local Festivals. — Vim d'Honneur, — Processions of 


Influence of Ancient Costume. — Costume in the Fifth 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. — Lwrie. — 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 Dress. 



Plate To face page Plate To lace page 

1. The Queen of Sheba before Solomon. 8. The Chess-playere. After a Miniature 

Fac-simile of a Miniature from the of the "Three Ages of Man." (End 

Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attri- of the Fifteenth Century) 238 

buted to Memling. Costumes of the 9. MartyrdomofSS. Crispin and Crepinieu. 

Fifteenth Century. . . . Frontispiece From a Window in the Hopital des 

2. The Court of Marie of Anjou, Wife of Quinze-Vingts (Fifteenth Century) . . 2SS 

Charles VII. Fac-simile of a Minia- 10 - Settlement of Accounts by the Brother - 

hire from the " Dnnze Perilz d'Enfer." hoocl of Charite-Dieu, Rouen, in 1466. 

Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.. 24 A Miniature from the " Livre des 

o t ■ vit i n i ■ .1 Comntcs " of this Society (Fifteenth 

3. Louis XII. leaving Alexandria, on the ) -- j \ 

24th April, 1507, to chastise the Century) 326 

Citv of Genoa. From a Miniature U. Decapitation of Guillaume de Pomrmera 

in the "Voyage de Genes" of Jean and his Confessor at Bordeaux m 1377 

-,r , . (" Chroniques de Froissart ") 418 

, , C-' ' \rl-i •',",. ''".'''" 12. The Jews' Passover. Fac-simile of a 

4. A loung Mothers Ketmue. Miniature ... . . , T . . . ,, „■« 

" ,. „ ,, „_, , TTT Miniature m a Missal ot the 1'if- 

froma Latin " lerence ot Charles Y L ,. ,-, , ,, ., .. , , r ir 

„ teenth Century of the School of V an 

Costumes of tire .Fourteenth Cen- -^ . , - n 

Eyck 4ou 

tury ' ' J 13. Entry of Charles VII. into Paris. A 

5. Table Service of a Lady of Quality. Miniature from the "Chroniques 

Fac-simile of a Miniature in the d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Cos- 

" Roman de Benaud de Montauban." tlimes of the y lxte enth Century .... 494 

Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.. 138 H gt Catherine surrounded by the Doctors 

6. Ladies Hunting. From a Miniature in of Alexandria. A Miniature from 

a Manuscript Copy of " Ovid's the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, 

Epistles." Costumes of the Fifteenth attributed to Memling. Costumes 

Century 184 of the Fifteenth Century 534 

7. A Court Fool. Fac-simile of a Minia- 15. Italian Lace-work, in Gold-thread. The 

ture in a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Cypher and Arms of Henri III. 

Century 2L'8 (Sixteenth Century) 544 


Aigues-Mortes, Ramparts of the Town of . . 42 

Alms Bag, Fifteenth Century 27 

Amende honorable before the Tribunal .... 414 

America, Discovery of 263 

Anne of Brittany and the Ladies of her Court 86 

Archer, in Fighting Dress, Fifteenth Cen- 
tury 30 

Armourer 280 

Anns of Louis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy 542 
Amis, Various, Fifteenth Century 55 



Bailiwick 3(jg 

Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's Bailiff, 

Sixteenth Century 53 

Baker, The, Sixteenth Century 108 

Balancing, Feats of. Thirteenth Century . . 223 
Ballet, representation of a, before Henri 

III. anil his Court 606 

Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne lot 

La Bochelle Ml 

„ Corporation of Bakers of Arras 109 

Bakers of Paris 109 
,, ,, Boot and Shoe 

Makers of Issoudun 2 So 

,, Corporation of Publichouse- 

keepers of Montmedy .... 150 
Corporation of Publichouse- 

keepers of Tonnerre 1 50 

„ Drapers of Caen 299 

,, Harness-makers of Paris .. .. 2S6 

,, Nail-makers of Paris 236 

,, Pastrycooks of Caen 161 

La Bochelle . . 161 

,, ,, Tonnerre .... 177 

Tanners of Vic 286 

Tilers of Paris 2SG 

,, Weavers of Toulon 280 

Wheelwrights of Paris 286 

Banquet, Grand, at the Court of France .. 17G 

Barber 278 

Barnacle Geese 129 

Barrister, Fifteenth Century 378 

Basin-maker 281 

Bastille, The 431 

Bears and other Beasts, how they may lie 

caught with a Dart 195 

Beggar playing the Fiddle 4 74 

Beheading 418 

Bell and Canon Caster 281 

Bird-catching, Fourteenth Century 213 

Bird-piping, Fourteenth Century 212 

Blind and Poor Sick of St. John, Fifteenth 

Century 408 

Bob Apple, The Game of 247 

Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a Trial- 
piece, Thirteenth Century 239 

Bourbon, Constable do, Trial of, before the 

Beers of France 3G2 

Bourgeois, Thirteenth Century 21 

Brandenburg, Marquis of 393 

Brewer, The, Sixteenth Century 115 

Brotherhood of Death, Member of the .... 402 
Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, from a 

Window of the Fifteenth Century 84 

Burgess at Meals lit) 

Burgesses with Hoods, Fourteenth Century 78 

Burning Ballet, The 214 

Butcher, The, Sixteenth Century 124 

Butler at his Duties ... 153 

Cards for a Game of Piquet, Sixteenth Cen- 
tury 236 

Carlovingian King in his Palace 349 

Carpenter. Fifteenth Century 297 

Carpenter's Apprentice working at a Trial- 
piece, Fifteenth Century 290 

Cast to allure Beasts 183 

Castle of Alamond, The 383 

Cat-o'-nine-tails 433 

Celtic Monument (the Holy Ox) 123 

Chamber of Accounts, Hotel of the 320 

Chandeliers in Bronze, Fourteenth Century 75 

Charlemagne, The Emperor 347 

,, Coronation of 485 

,, Dalmatica and Sandals of . . 487 
receiving the Oath of Fidelity 

from one of his great Barons 17 

Portrait of 9 

Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receiving 

the News of the Death of his Father 8 

Charles V. and the Emperor Charles IV., 

Interview between 498 

Chateau- G-aillard anx Andelys 10 

Chatelet, The Great 357 

Cheeses, The Manufacture of, Sixteenth 

Century 139 

Chilperie, Tomb of, Eleventh Century .... 303 

Clasp-maker 279 

Cloth to approach Beasts, How to carry a. . 181 

Cloth-worker 277 

Coins, Gold Merovingian, 628-638 305 

,, G-old, Sixth and Seventh Centuries . . 313 
,, ,, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Cen- 
turies 318 

,, Gold and Silver, Thirteenth Century 313 
,, ,, Fifteenth and Six- 
teenth Centuries 339 
„ Silver, Eighth to Eleventh Centuries 313 

Cologne, View of, Sixteenth Century 397 

Comb in Ivory, Sixteenth Century 88 

Combat of a Knight with a Dog, Thirteenth 

Century 353 

Companion Carpenter, Fifteenth Century . . 295 

Cook, The, Sixteenth Century 165 

Coppersmith, The, Sixteenth Century . .156, 281 
Corn-threshing and Bread-making, Six- 
teenth Century 106 

Costume of Emperors at their Coronation 

since the Time of Charlemagne 489 
„ King Childebert, Seventh Cen- 
tury 513 

King Clovis, Sixth Century 513 

Saints in the Sixth to Eighth 

Century 515 

Prelates, Eighth to Tenth Cen- 
tury 517 

a Scholar of the Carlovingian 

Feriod 5]9 



Costume of a Scholar, Ninth Century .. 

a Bishop or Abbot, Ninth Century 
,, Charles the Simple, Tenth Century 

,, Louis le Jeune 

a Princess 

"William Malgencste, the King's 


an English Servant. Fourteenth 


Philip the Good 

,, Charles V., King of France .... 

Jeanne de Bourbon 

Charlotte of Savoy 

Mary of Burgundy 

the Ladies of the Court of Cathe- 
rine de Medieis 

a Gentleman of the French Court, 

Sixteenth Century 

the German Bourgeoisie, Six- 
teenth Century 

Costumes, Italian. Fifteenth 1 'entury 

Costumes of the Thirteenth ( 'entury 

,. the Common People, Fourteenth 


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 < 'entury 

,, Young Noblemen of the Court 

of Charles YIII 

,, a Nobleman, a Bourgeois, and 

a Noble Lady, of the time- of 

Louis Xn 

,, a rich Bourgeoise and a Noble- 
man, time of Francis 1 

Counter-seal of the Butchers of Bruges in 


Country Life- 

Cour ties Miracles of Paris 

Court Fool 

,, of Love in Provence, Fourteenth Cen- 

„ 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 I'oor, Fourteenth Century 

Courts of Love in Provence, Allegorical 

Scene of, Thirteenth Century 

Craftsmen, Fourteenth Century 













9 4 






Cultivation of Fruit, Fifteenth Century .. 115 
(.{rain, and Manufacture of 

Bailey and (Jilt Ulead 111 

Dance called "La Gaillarde " 210 

,, of Fools, Thirteenth Century 228 

„ by Torchlight 213 

Dancers on Christmas Night 210 

David playing on the Lyre 09 

Dealer in Eggs, Sixteenth Century 133 

Deer. Appearance of, and how to hunt them 

with Dogs 187 

Deputies of the Burghers of Ghent. Four- 
teenth Century 51 

Dice-maker 279 

Distribution of Bread, 31 eat, and Wine . ... 222 
Doge of Venice, Costume of the, before the 

Sixteenth Century .... 405 
,, in Ceremonial Costume of 

the Sixteenth Century. . 405 

Procession of the- 492 

Dog-kennel, Fifteenth Century 191 

Dogs, Diseases of, and their Cure, Four- 
teenth Century 208 

Dortmund, View of, Sixteenth ('entury.... 389 

Drille, or Xmrpiois, Fifteenth Century .... 470 

Drinkers of the North, Tie.- Great 1 1 4 

Druggist 278 

Dues on Wine 3,3 

Dyer 277 

Edict, Promulgation of an 334 

Elder and Juror, Ceremonial Dress of an . . 287 

Elder and Jurors of the- Tanners of Giant 294 

Floy, St., Signature of 304 

Empalement 42S 

Entry of Louis XL into Paris 500 

Equestrian Performances, Thirteenth ( Vn- 

tury 226 

Estrapade, The, or Question Extraordinary 408 

Executions 419 

Exhibitor of Strange Animals 480 

Falcon, How to train a New, Fourteenth 

Century 202 

,, How to bathe a New 204 

Falconer, Dress of the, Thirteenth Century 207 

,, German, Sixteenth Century .... 209 

Falconers, Thirteenth Century 203 

,, dressing their Birds, Fourteenth 

Century 200 

Falconry, Art of, King Modus teaching the, 

Fourteenth Century 191) 

Varlets of, Fourteenth Century . . 201 

Families, The, and the Barbarians 343 

Fight between aHorsc and Dogs, Thirteenth 

Century 220 

Fireworks on the Water 281 



Fish, Conveyance of, by Water and Land . . 14 1 

Flemish Peasants, Fifteenth Century 31 

Franc, Silver, Henry IV 310 

Franks, Fourth to Eighth Century 2 

Kint? or Chief of the, Ninth Century ' r> 
,. King of the, dictating the Salic Law 6 
\Fredegonde giving orders to assassinate 
Sigebert, from a Window of the Fif- 
teenth Century 60 

Free Judges 391 

Funeral Token 270 

Gallo-Roman Costumes oil 

Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of Venery 180 

German Beggars 477 

,, Knights, Fifteenth Century 398 

Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century 3 

Sportsman, Sixteenth Century. . . . 18-3 

Ghent, Civic Guard of 48 

Gibbet of Montfaucon, The 423 

Gipsies Fortune-telling 459 

on the March 4;] 7 

Gipsy Encampment 402 

., Family, A 401 

who used to wash bis Hands in 

Molten Lead 4 05 

Goldbeater 278 

Goldsmith 278 

Goldsmiths of Ghent, Names and Titles of 
some of the Members of the Cor- 
poration of, Fifteenth Century 293 
,, Group of, Seventeenth Century . . 2S3 
Grain-measurers of Ghent, Aims of the. . . . 113 

Grape, Treading the 117 

Grocer and Druggist, Shop of a, Seven- 
teenth Century 164 

Hanging to Music 425 

Hare, How to allure the 182 

Hatter 277 

Hawking, Lady setting out. Fourteenth 

Century 200 

Hawks, Young, how to make them fly, 

Fourteenth Century 205 

Hay-earriers, Sixteenth Century 259 

Herald, Fourteenth Century 483 

Heralds, Lodge of the 14 

Heron-hawking, Fourteenth Century .... 210 

Hostelry, Interior of an, Sixteenth Century 149 

Hotel des Lrsins, Paris, Fourteenth Century 9 1 

Hunting-meal 103 

Imperial Procession 491 

Infant Richard, The, crucified by the Jews 

at Pontoise 412 

Irmensul and Crodou, Idols of the Ancient 

Saxons 3S7 


Iron Cage 432 

Issue de Table, The 167 

Italian Beggar 4 76 

Jew, Fourteenth Centuiy 450 

Kitchen, Inferior of 162 

Nobleman, Fifteenth Century 25 

Jacques Coaur, Amende honorable of, before 

Charles VII 333 

,, House of, at Bourges 331 

Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of Paris, 
and Michelle do Vitry, his Wife (Reign 

of Charles VI.) .....' 35 

Jerusalem, View and Plan of 453 

Jew, Legend of a, calling the Devil from a 

Vessel of Blood 452 

Jewish Ceremony before the Ark 455 

,, Conspiracy in France 446 

Procession 4 tg 

Jews taking the Blood from Christian Chil- 
dren 438 

., of Cologne burnt alive, The 444 

,, Expulsion of the, in the Reign of the 

Emperor Hadrian 435 

., Secret Meeting of the 440 

John the Baptist, Decapitation of 411 

John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, 

Assassination of 328 

Judge. Fifteenth Century 37/ 

Judicial Duel, The ' 3.32 

Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and Bears, 

Thirteenth Century 225 

performing in Public, Thirteenth 

Century 22" 

King-at-Arms presenting the Sword to the 

Due de Bourbon 502 

King's Court, The, or Grand Council, Fif- 
teenth Century 3,59 

Kitchen, Interior of a, Sixteenth Century . . 155, 159 

,, and 'fable Utensils 157 

Knife-handles in Ivory, Sixteenth Century 175 

Knight in War-harness 16 

Knight and ins Lady, Fourteenth Century 73 
Knights and Men-at-Arms of the Reign of 

Louis le Gros 11 

Labouring Colons, Twelfth Century .... 12, 13 

Lambert of Liege, St., Chimes of the Clock of 50 

Landgrave of Thuringia and his Wile .... 390 

Lawyer, Sixteenth Century 378 

Leopard, Hunting with the, Sixteenth Cen- 

inr Y 193 

Lubeek and its Harbour, View of, Sixteenth 

Century 2 61 

Maidservants, Dress of, Thirteenth Century 90 

Mallet, Louis de, Admiral of France 82 




Mark's Place, St. .Venice, Sixteenth Century 44 
Marseilles and its Harbour, View and Plan 

of, Sixteenth Century 255 

Measurers of Corn, Paris, Sixteenth ( 'entury 259 

Measuring- Salt 321 

Merchant Vessel in a Storm 254 

Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constanti- 
nople 221 

Merchants of Rouen, Medal to commemorate 

the Association of the 'J07 

Merchants of Rouen, Painting commemora- 
tive of the Union of Seventeenth Ceiiturv 29S 
Merchants orTradesmen.Pourteenth ( 'entury 273 

Metals, The Extraction of 3U1 

Miller, The, Sixteenth Century 1U7 

Mint. The, Sixteenth Century 335 

Musician accompanying' the- Dancing 245 

New-born Child. The 86 

Nicholas Flamel, and Pernelle, his Wife, 

from :i Painting of the Fifteenth ('entury 93 
Nobility, Costumes of the. from the Seventh 

to the Ninth Century 02 

Ladiesof tlit-, in the Ninth Century 64 
Noble Ladies and Children, Dress of, Four- 
teenth Century 77 

Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, Four- 
teenth Century 7ft 

Noble of Provence, Fifteenth Century .... 198 

Nobleman hunting 33 

Nogent-le-Rotrou. Tower of the Castle of. . 65 

Nut-crackers, Sixteenth Century 175 

Occupations of the Peasants 95 

Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of 

the Imperial Court 171 

Oil. The Manufacture of. Sixteenth Century 135 

Old Man of the Mountain, The 3*5 

Oliiant, or Hunting-horn, Fourteenth Cen- 
tury 166 

details of 197 

Orphans, Callots, and Family of the Grand 

Coesre, Fifteenth Century 467 

Palace, The, Sixteenth Century 355 

Palace of the Doges, Interior I 'ourt of the 460 

Paris, View of 471 

Partridges, Way to catch 160 

Paying Toll on passing a Bridge 315 

Peasant Dances at the May Feasts 212 

Pheasant-fowling, Fourteenth Century .... 214 

Philippe )e Pel in War-dress 71 

Pillory, View of the, in the Market-place of 

Paris, Sixteenth Century 426 

Pin and Needle Maker 279 

Ploughmen. Fac-simile of a Miniature in 

very ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript . . 19 

Pond Fisherman, The 140 

l ' a S B 

Pool aux Lhangeurs, A law ol the ancient. . 316 

Pork-butcher, The, Fourteenth Century .. 122 

Poulterer, The, Sixteenth Century 12S 

Poultry-dealer, The 160 

Powder-horn, Sixteenth Century 216 

Piovost's Prison, The 429 

Provosfship of the Merchants of Paris, As- 
sembly of the, Sixteenth ( 'entury 379 

Punishment by Fire, The 415 

Purse or Leather Pag, with Knife or Dagger, 

Fiiteenth ( 'entury ... 101 

Receiver of Taxes. The 336 

Remy, St., Bishop of Pheims, begging of 
Clovis the restitution of the Sacred Vase, 

Fifteenth Century 57 

Liver Fisherman, Tee, Sixteenth (.'entury 141 

Roi de l'Epinette, Entry of the, at Lille. ... 034 

Roman Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century 3 

Royal Costume 524 

luif.s and MiUards, Fifteenth Century . . . 469 

Sainte-Genevievc, Front of the Church el' 

the Abbey of 40 

Sale by Town-Crier . . 309 

Salt-cellar, enamelled, Sixteenth ( 'i ntury, . 173 

Sandal or Buskin of ( 'harlernagne 509 

Saxony, fluke of 393 

Sbirro, Chief of 464 

Seal of the Butchers of Bruges in 1356 .... 125 
Corporation of Carpenters of St. 

Trend (Belgium) 270 

., Corporation of Clothworkers of 

Bruges °.76 

Corporation of Fullers of St. 

Trend 276 

Corporation of Joiners of Bruges 'J70 
.. ... Slioemcakeis of 

St. Trend 276 

Corporation of Woolweavers of 

Hasselt 276 

., Free Count Hans Vollmar von 

Twern 362 

Free Count Heinrich Beckmann 166, 

,, Herman Loseekin . . 392 

,, Johann On ippe ... 392 

King Chilpcric 3S0 

United Trades of Client, Fif- 
teenth Century 271 

Seat of Justice held by Philippe de Valois. . 196 
Secret Tribunal, Execution of the Sentences 

of the 365 

Scmur, Tower of the Castle of 65 

Serf or Vassal, Tenth Century 20 

Serjeants-at-Arms, Fourteenth Century .... 373 
Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the. 

Messiah 103 

Shoemaker 2M> 



Shops under Covered Market, Fifteenth 

Century 292 

Shout and blow Hums, How to 184 

Simon, Martyrdom of, at Trent 443 

Slaves or Serfs, Sixth to Twelfth Century . . 4 

Somersaults 233 

Sport with Dogs, Fourteenth Century 211 

Spring-hoard, The 234 

Spur-maker 2S0 

Squirrels, Way to eateh 189 

Stag, How to kill and cut up a, Fifteenth 

Century 133 

Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of 

Rouen, Fifteenth Century 291 

Stall of Carved Wood, Fifteenth Century. . 120 

Standards of the Church and the Empire . . 493 

State Banquet, Sixteenth Century 131 

Stcertebeck, Execution of 262 

Styli, Fourteenth Century 76 

Swineherd 119 

Swiss Grand Provost 412 

Sword-danee to the Sound of the Bagpipe, 

Fourteenth Century 224 

Sword-maker 280 

Table of a Baron, Thirteenth Century .... 169 

Tailor 277 

Talehot the Hunchback 472 

Tinman 281 

Tithe of Beer, Fifteenth Century 37 

Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of 

Antwerp .. 276 
,, Carpenters of 

Mae'stricht 276 

Toll und, r the Bridges of Paris 321 

,, on Markets, levied by a Cleric, Fif- 
teenth Century 307 

Torture of the Wheel, Demons applying 

the 421 

Tagc c 
Tournaments in Honour of the Entry ol 

Queen Isabel into Paris 495 ; 

Tower of the Temple, Paris 312 | 

Trade on the Seaports of the Levant, Fif- 
teenth Century 252 ! 

Transport of Merchandise on the Hacks of 

Camels 250 

University of Paris, Follows of the', haran- 
guing the Emperor Charles IV 38 

Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd, Fif- 
teenth Century 30 

View of Alexandria, Sixteenth Century .... 210 

Village Feast, Sixteenth Century 101 

Village pillaged by Soldiers 338 

Villain, the Covetous and Avaricious 99 

,, the Egotistical and Envious 98 

,, or Peasant, Fifteenth Century .... 23 

receiving his Lord's Orders 96 

Vine, Culture of the 117 

Vintagers, The, Thirteenth Century 117 

Votive Altar of the Xautes Parisiens 142 

Water Torture, The 409 

Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at 

Mans, Sixteenth Century 208 

Whale Fishing 25? 

William, Duke of Normandy, Eleventh 

Century 46 

Winegrower, The 118 

Wire-worker 279 

Wolves, how they may be caught with a 

Snare 191 

Woman under the Safeguard of Knight- 
hood, Fifteenth Century 66 

Women of the Court, Sixth to Tenth Century 39 
Woodcock, Mode of catching a, Fourteenth 

Century 215 








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 mid Prerogatives attached to Landed 
Possessions. — Freemen and Tenants. — The L;eti, the Colon, tie; Self, and the Lahourer, who 
may he called the Origin of the Modern Lower Classes. — Formation of Communities. — 
Right of Mortmain. 

[HE period known as the Middle Ages, 
says the learned Benjamin Guerard, 
is the produce of Pagan civilisation, 
of Germanic barbarism, and of Chris- 
tianity. It began in 470, on the fall 
of Agustulus, and ended in 1453, at 
the taking of Constantinople by Ma- 
homet 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 Ger- 
mans, was the destruction of political unity, and this was destined to be after- 
wards replaced by religious 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 


^&^rT^^^^A^^3^ ) 1 

faSh- "^BHH 



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 Crsars ; 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 

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. 

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 peoples 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 divide! into freeholds, 


tributary lauds, lands of the nobility and servile lands, thus constituting 
the freeholds, the benefices, the fiefs, and the tenures. It may lie added 
that the customs, and to a certain degree the laws, varied according to the 

Fie*. 3. — Costumes of Roman Soldiers. 

Fig. i. — Costume of Grerman Soldiers. 

From Miniatures on different Manuscripts, from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centimes. 

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. 


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, civilisa- 
tion 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. 

In fact, the conquerors contributed the worse share (Fig. 5) ; for, whilst 
exercising the low and debasing instincts of their former barbarism, they 

Fig. .5.— Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixtli to the Twelfth Centuries, collected by 
H. do Vielcastel, from original Documents in the great Libraries of Europe. 

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 independ- 
ence, 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 re- 
member 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. 

"When the Franks took root in 
Graul, 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 

Fig. 6. — King- or Chief of Franks armed with 
the Scramasax, from a Miniature of the Ninth 
Century, drawn hy H. de Vielcastel. 

broken up into clans. Graul soon found itself parcelled off into domains 


which were almost independent of one another. It was thus that Germanic 
genius became developed. 

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 

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). 

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- onlv 
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 he 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 Xing'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. 

Charlemajme was the first who recognised that social union, so admir- 
able 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 


m mm iRvi 

. Wl* ; p- *%mi S\ IIP 

\ - hi ,2LiLik.i 

K . w Jf§|R 


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). 

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 Lack into anarchy and contusion. The nohles, 
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. 

The revolution in society which took place under the Oarlovingian 

Eig. 9. — Portrait of Charlemagne, whom the Song of Roland names the King with the Grizzly 
Beard. — Fac-similc of an Engraving of the End of the Sixteenth Century. 

dynasty had for its especial object that of rendering territorial what was 
formerly personal, and, as it were, of destroying personality in matters of 

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 con- 
dition. 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 liberty. 

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, 

v '!y ; S^Iv ^ l ,>•' |, T'•' 

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 Cceur de Lion. 

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 bow royally itself was 
weakened towards ibe end of the second dynasty. When tbo 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 practi- 
cally to re-annex each bet', city, and province held by these petty nionarchs, 
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. 

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 
belono- 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 

Fig. 13. — Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a Miniature in a Manuscript of the 
Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of Paris. 

that was required of him, and these daily grew less, and at last disap- 
peared 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. 

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

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 administra- 
tion. 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 

Fig. 14. — Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a Miniature in a Manuscript of the 
Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of Paris. 

treasure of the chamber ; and a count of the stable, charged with the super- 
intendence of the stables. 

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 lie 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 

Fig. 1.5.— The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by banging 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 Erne " (Fifteenth Century), BBSS, of the National Library of Paris. 

I T p 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 Aery heavy, and drawn almost exclusively from his 
personal and private properties. In eases of emergency only, lie 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 establish- 
ments 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 eves both of 
great and small, maintained feudalism, and in s<> doing it maintained itself 
amidst all the chaos and confusion of repeated revolutions and social dis- 

"We have already stated, and wc 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 
chansing owners : the noble could still possess the labourer'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 

1 6 


his ordinary Council, the)- did not hesitate at times to declare themselves 
openly opposed to his will. 

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 fidbles, which, in truth, soon became a 
common designation of both the vassals of the Crown and those of the nobility. 



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 

\ assals emanating directly from the Xing, were then generally designated 
by the title of barons, and mostly possessed strongholds. The other nobles 
indiscriminately ranked as cheraliers or oughts, a generic title, to which was 

Fig. 17. — Ivin^ Charlemagne receiving the < >ath of Fidelity ami Homage from one of his great 
Feudatories or High Barons. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in ( 'am™, of tin.' " Chronicles of St. 
Denis." Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Lihrary of the Arsenal). 

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 extremel)' 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. Neverthe- 
less, 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 consequenee 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 rides of a 
liberal order, or else was under the most servile obligations. 

The property of the free men was originally the " rrkv," 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 tenure* were again divided accord- 
ing 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 kcti, colons, or serfs, they were then called colonies or 

The Iivti 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 

5fito) s$tbt f e #o^:£ mk n fywotA 

Fig. 18. — Ploughmen. — Far-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." 

limited power. The colon only served the land, whilst the kcti, whether 
agriculturists or servants, served both the land and the owner (Fig. 18). 
They nevertheless enjoyed the right of possession, and of defending them- 
selves, or prosecuting by law. The serf, on the contrary, had neither city, 
tribunal, nor family. The lseti had, besides, the power of purchasing their 
liberty when they had amassed sufficient for the purpose. 

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, hcti, 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; 

Fig. 19.— Serf or Vassal of Tenth Century, from Miniatures in the "Dialogues of St. Gregory," 
Manuscript No, 9917 (Eoyal Lifjrary of Brussels). 

and those who gave themselves up to trades and commerce in the towns, 
were the originators of the middle classes. 

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 net get rid of any of tin- feudal 
charges imposed upon it. 

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, ei\ il or ecclesiastical, conditions, onerous though 
they were, which enabled them to exist in the interior of the cities to which 

Fig 20. — Bourgeois at the End of Thirteenth Century. — Fac-simile of Miniature in Manuscript 
No. 6820, in the Xational Library of Paris. 

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 adminis- 
tration 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 XL, 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 com- 
munities in France ; but it is proved that a certain number of communities 
or corporations were already formally constituted, before his accession to the 

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. 

There was also a third kind of bourgeois, whose influence on the exten- 
sion of royal power was not less than that of the others. There were free 


2 3 

men who, under the title of bourgeois of the King (bourgeois ihi 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 dav without being' reclaimed by his lord and master, 

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. 

lie became a bourgeois of the King and a free man. In consequence of this 
the serfs and vilains (Fig. ','lj 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 vassals. 

These social revolutions did not, of course, operate suddenly, nor did they 
at once abolish former institutions, for we still find, that after the establish- 
ment 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 rigorousty held in the 
absolute dependence of his lord, to such a degree that the latter could 
appropriate during their life, or after death if he chose, all they possessed ; 
he could imprison them, ill-treat them 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 guilt} r 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 these latter class of 
serf's married a free woman, everything which they possessed became the 
property of their lord. The same was the case when they died, for they could 
not transmit any of their goods to their children, and were 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. 

Mortmain consisted of the privation of the right of freely disposing 



Her chaplain the learned Robert Blonde] presents hot with the allegorical Treatise 

of the "Twelve Perils of Ikfl." 

Which he composed for her ( I i.i5). 

Fae-simile of a miniature from this work. Bibl. de l'Arsenal, Paris. 

PEXSOXS and lands. 2 - 

of one's person or goods. He who had not tho 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 mortmain. 

Fig. 22. — Italian Nobleman of the Fifteenth ( lentury. From a Playing-card engraved on Copper 
about 1460 (Cabinet des Estampes, National Library of Paris). 

This name was apparently chosen because (lie hand, " considered tho 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 franchisee! 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 franchisee! 
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 depre- 
ciation 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 never- 
theless 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). 


2 7 

It is only just to state, that twelve or fourteen years earlier, Louis XVI. 
had clone 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 moil mains out of their original districts) all over 
the kingdom. 

!•>. 23.— Alms Bag taken from sume Tapestry in Orleans, Fifteenth Century. 



Elements of Feudalism. — Eights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe Conducts, Ransom, Disin- 
heritance, &e, — Immunity of (lie 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, German} 1 , and France. — 
Municipal Institutions and Associations. — The Community. — The Middle-Class Cities (Cites 
Bourgeoises). — Origin of National Unity. 

as to understand the numerous charges, 
dues, and servitudes, often as quaint 
as iniquitous and vexatious, 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, suc- 
ceeded 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 German 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 those two historical sources, 
as is very judiciously pointed out by M. Mary-Luton, 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 men- 
tioned the rights of treasure-trove, the rights of wreck, the rights of esta- 
blishing 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 Occur 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 ami 
the members of his family, at table. Adhemar was a vassal of the Luke 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 Mound, 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 Lis treasure, and died of his wound twelve 
days later; first haying, however, graciously pardoned the low man 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 

Figs. 24 and 25. — Tarletor 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 ' c " of Froissart, Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century 
(Imperial Library of Paris). 

the pitiless and barbaric right of appropriating the contents of ships 
happening to be wrecked on their shores. 

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 thoso lairs and markets 
never failed to attract a great number of buyers and sellers, this formed a 
very lucrative tax for the noble (Fig. 26). 

The right 01 marque, or reprisal, was a most barbarous custom. A famous 
example is given of it. In 1022, William tin' 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, not- 
withstanding their oath, two of the brothers, bavin"? invited the third to the 

Fig. 26.— Flemish Peasants at the Cattle Market.— Miniature of the ' ; Chroniques de ITainaut," 
Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century, vol. ii. fol. 20-1 (Library of the Dukes of Burgundy, 
Brussels) . 

Easter festivities, seized him at night in bis 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 retaliation. 

The rio-ht of sporting or hunting was of ail prerogatives that clearest to, 
anil 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 hare 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 tho 
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 remon- 
strance, 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 spoi'ting ; 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 him. 

Fig. 27.— Nobleman in Hunting Costume, preceded by his Servant, trying to iind the Scent of a 

Stag.— From a Miniature in the Book of Gaston Phoebus ("Pes Deduitz de la Chasse des 
Bestes Sauvaiges ").— Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (National Library of Paris). 

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 hue they had to 
pay for the charters which their lord caused to be delivered to them. 

The duty of aubaine was the fine or clue 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, 
? sols ; for use of ovens, the sixteenth loaf of each baking ; for the sale 
of corn in the domain, 4-3 setiers : besides these, 6 setiers of rye, 161 setiers 



of oats, 3 setiers of beans, 1 pound of wax, 8 capons, IT liens, and 37 loads of 
wine." There were a multitude of ether 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 

<'■-' % r£ Z3 


vv „£ - TV, (■»> .<?-- .a 

-v5^ w' ei>c, .-vrj 

. o . 

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 Ursins, and is now in the Versailles Museum. 

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, etc., &c. 

This worthy noble gathered in besides all this, during (lie 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 dependence. 

Fig. 29.— Does on Wines, granted to the Chapter of Tournai by King Chilperie.- 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 

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 1 the hours of 

Fig. 30. — The Bishop of Tournai receiving the Tithe of Beer granted by King Chilnerie. — From 
the Windows of the Cathedral of Tournai, Fifteenth Century. 

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 qnkes of the Chateau Nar- 

Toulouse had to pay dearly for the respect shown to its municij^al 
dignity. The parents of the student presented a petition to the King against 

Fig. 31.— Fellows of the University of Paris haranguing the Emperor Charles TV. in 1377.— From 
a Miniature of the Manuscript of the " Chroniques de St. Denis," No. 8395 (National Library 
of Paris). 

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; them- 
selves 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 Lave 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 privi- 
leged 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. 

Alberc, 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- ; 3'2), 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 

" ciovt'nTV' ^ An f ^ ChUrCh ° f thG Al ' hey ° f Sa -te-G e nevi fe ve, in Pans, founded bv 

D s 1 "" T, ^'; f EleVenth t0 Thil ' tee " th Centuri«._State of the Building before it, 
Destruction at the End of the last Century. 

hrst 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 

Fines were levied everywhere, at all times, and for all sorts of reasons. 
Under the name of epiccs, 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 the)' could reach mastership in their 
various crafts, nor have we yet mentioned certain tines, 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 Puv 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 Perigneux, the voung 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 

Fig. 33. — Ramparts of the Town of Aigues-Mortos, one of the Municipalities of 1 anguedor. 

the great merriment of their lord, never hit, and so had to continue paying 
the dues.'' 

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 doubtful. 


To cliastise the city of Genoa. 

1 », . . r^ an Marot. N« 5091, Bibl. n;\\'' 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 com- 
parative freedom to the labourers. Tn 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 than on the rest of Europe. In those favoured provinces where 
Roman organization had outlived Reman patronage, it seems as if ancient 
splendour had never ceased to exist, and the elegance of customs re- flourished 
amidst the ruins. There, a sort of urban aristocracy always continued, as a 
balance against the nobles, and the council of elected prnd'hommes, the syndics, 
jurors or capitouk, who in the towns replaced the Roman honorati and curiales, 
still were considered by kings and princes as holding sonic position in the 
state. The municipal body, larger, more open than the old "ward," no 
longer formed a corporation of unwilling aristocrats enchained to privileges 
which ruined them. The principal cities on the Italian coast had already 
amassed enormous wealth by commerce, and displayed the most remarkable 
ardour, activity, and power. The Eternal City, which was disputed by 
emperors, popes, and barons of the Roman States, bestirred itself at times to 
snatch at the ancient phantom of republicanism ; and this phantom was 
destined soon to change into reality, and another Rome, or rather a new 
Carthage, the lovely Venice, arose free and independent from the waves of 
the Adriatic (Fig. 34). 

In Lombardy, so thickly colonised by the German conquerors, feudalism, 
on the contrary, weighed heavily ; but there, too, the cities were populous 
and energetic, and the struggle for supremacy continued for centuries in an 
uncompromising manner between the people and the nobles, between the 
Guelphs and the Ghibellines. 

In the north and east of the Gallic territory, the instinct of resistance did 
not exist any the less, though perhaps it was more intermittent. In fact, 
in these regions we find ambitious nobles forest tiling the action of til.' 
Kin"-, and in order to attach towns to themselves and their houses, suppressing 



the most obnoxious of the taxes, and at the same time granting legal 
guarantees. For this the Counts of Flanders became celebrated, and the 
famous Heribert de Yermandois was noted for being so exacting in his 
demands with the great, and yet so popular with the small. 

iew of St. Mark's Place, Venice, Sixteenth Century, after Cesare Vecellio. 

The eleventh century, during which feudal power rose to its height, 
was also the period when a reaction set in of the townspeople against the 
nobility. The spirit of the city revived with that of the bourgeois (a name 



derived from the Teutonic word burg, habitation) and infused a feeling of 
opposition to the system which followed the conquest of the Teutons. 
"But," says M. Henri Martin, "what reappeared was not the Roman muni- 
cipality of the Empire, stained by servitude, although surrounded with 
glittering pomp and gorgeous arts, but it was something coarse and almost 
semi-barbarous in form, though strong and generous at core, and which, as far 
as the difference of the times would allow, rather reminds us of the small 
republics which existed previous to the Roman Empire." 

Two strong impulses, originating from two totally dissimilar centres of 
action, irresistibly propelled this great social revolution, with its various 
and endless aspects, affecting all central Europe, and being more or less 
felt in the west, the north, and the south. < hi one side, the Greek and 
Latin partiality for ancient corporations, modified by a democratic element, 
and an innate feeling of opposition characteristic id' barbaric tribes ; and 
on the other, the free spirit and equality of the old Celtic tribes rising 
suddenly against the military hierarchy, which was the offspring of conquest. 
Europe was roused by the double current of ideas which simultaneously' 
urged her on to a, new state of civilisation, and more particularly to a new 
organization of city life. 

Italy was naturally destined to be the country where the new trials of 
social regeneration were to be made ; but she presented the greatest possibl 
variety of customs, laws, and governments, including Emperor, l'ope, 
bishops, and feudal princes. In Tuscany and Liguria, the march towards 
liberty was continued almost without effort; whilst in Lombardy, on the 
contrary, the feudal resistance was very powerful. Everywhere, however, 
cities became more or less completely enfranchised, though some more rapidly 
than others. In Sicily, feudalism swayed over the counties; but in the greater 
part of the peninsula, the democratic spirit of the cities influenced the 
enfranchisement of the rural population. The feudal caste was in fact 
dissolved; the barons were transformed into patricians of the noble towns 
which gave their republican magistrates the old title of consuls. The 
Teutonic Emperor in vain sought to seize and turn to his own interest the 
sovereignty of the people, who had shaken off the yokes of his vassals : 
the signal of war was immediately given by the newly enfranchised masses; 
and the imperial eagle was obliged to fly before the banners of the 
besieged cities. Happy indeed might the cities of Italy have been had they 


4 6 


not forgotten, in their prosperity, that union alone could give them the 
possibility of maintaining that liberty which they so freely risked in con- 
tinual quarrels amongst one another ! 

The Italian movement was immediately felt on the other side of the Alps. 
In Provence, Septinianie, and Aquitaine, we find, in the eleventh century, 
cities which enjoyed considerable freedom. Under the name of communities 
and universities, which meant that all citizens were part of the one body, 
they jointly interfered in the general affairs of the kingdom to which they 


Fig. 35. — William, Duke of Normandy, accompanied by Bustatius, Count of Boulogne, and 
followed by his Knights in arms. — Military Diess of the Eleventh Century, from Bayeux 
Tapestry said to have been worked by Qacen Matilda. 

belonged. Their magistrates were treated on a footing of equality with the 
feudal nobility, and although the hitter at first would only recognise them as 
"good men " or notables, the consuls knew how to make a position for them- 
selves in the hierarchy. If the consulate, which was a powerful expression of 
the most prominent system of independence, did not succeed in suppressing 
feudalism in Provence as in Italy, it at least so transformed it, that it 
deprived it of its most unjust and insupportable elements. At Toulouse, for 
instance (where the consuls were by exception called enpitouk, that is to 



say, heads of the chapters or councils of the city), the lord of the country 
seemed less a feudal prince in his capital, than an honorary magistrate of the 
bourgeoisie. Avignon added to her consuls two porfextufx (from the Latin 
potestm, power"). At Marseilles, the University of the high city was ruled by 
a republic under the presidency of the Count of Provence, although the lower 
city was still under the sovereignty of a viscount. Perigueux, which was 
divided into two communities, "the great and the small fraternity," took up 
arms to resist the authority of the Counts of Perigord ; and Aries under its 
podestafs was governed for some time as a free and imperial town. Amongst 
the constitutions which were established by the cities, from the eleventh to 
the sixteenth centuries, we find admirable examples of administration and 
government, so that one is struck with admiration at the efforts of intelligence 
and patriotism, often uselessly lavished on such small political arenas. 
The consulate, which nominally at least found its origin in the ancient 
grandeur of southern regions, did not spread itself beyond Lyons. In 
the centre of France, at Poictiers, Tours, Moulin, &c, the urban pro- 
gress only manifested itself in efforts which were feeble and easily 
suppressed; but in the north, on the contrary, in the provinces between 
the Seine and the Rhine, and even between the Seine and the Loire, 
the system of franchise took footing and became recognised. In some 
places, the revolution was effected without difficulty, but in others it 
gave rise to the most determined struggles. In Normandy, for instance, 
under the active and intelligent government of the dukes of the race of 
Pioll or Eollon, the middle class was rich and even warlike. It had access 
to the councils of the duchy ; and when it was contemplated to invade 
England, the Duke William (Fig. 35) found support from the middle class, 
both in money and men. The ease was the same in Flanders, where the 
towns of Ghent (Fig. 36), of Bruges, of Ypres, after being enfranchised 
but a short time developed with great rapidity. But in the other counties 
of western France, the greater part of the towns were still much oppressed 
by the counts and bishops. If some obtained certain franchises, these 
privileges were their ultimate ruin, owing to the ill faith of their nobles. 
A town between the Loire and the Some gave the signal which caused 
the regeneration of the North. The inhabitants of Mans formed a com- 
munity or association, and took an oath that they would obtain and maintain 
certain rights. They rebelled about 1070, and forced the count and his 


noble vassals to grant them the freedom which they had sworn to obtain, 
though William of Normandy very soon restored the rebel city to order, 
and dissolved the presumptuous community. However, the example soon 
bore fruit. Cambrai rose in its turn and proclaimed the " Commune," and 
although its bishop, aided by treason and by the Count of Hainault, reduced 

Fig. 36.— Civic Guard of Ghent (Brotherhood of St. Sebastian), from a Painting on the Wall of 
the Chapel of St. John and St. Paul, Ghent, near the Gate of Bruges. 

it to obedience, it only seemed to succumb for a. time, to renew the struggle 
with greater success at a subsequent period. 

We have just mentioned the Commune ; but we must not mistake the true 
meaning of this word, which, under a Latin form (communitaH) , expresses 
originally a Germanic idea, and in its new form a Christian mode of living. 
Societies of mutual defence, guilds, occ., had never disappeared from Germanic 



and Celtic countries ; and, indeed, knighthood itself was but a brotherhood 
of Christian warriors. The societies of the Paix de Dieu, and of the Trive do 
Dieii, were encouraged by the clergy in order to stop the bloody quarrels (if the 
nobility, and formed in reality great religious guilds. This idea of a body of 
persons taking some common oath to one another, of which feudalism gave so 
striking an example, could not fail to influence the minds of the rustics and 
the lower classes, and they only wanted the opportunity which the idea of 
the Commune at once gave them of imitating their siiperiors. 

They too took oaths, and possessed their bodies and souls in " common ;" 
they seized, by force of strategy, the ramparts of their towns ; they elected 
mayors, aldermen, and jurors, who were charged to watch over the interests 
of their association. They swore to spare neither their goods, their labour, nor 
their blood, in order to free themselves ; and not content with defending them- 
selves behind barricades or chains which closed the streets, they boldly took 
the offensive against the proud feudal chiefs before whom their fathers 
had trembled, and they forced the nobles, who now saw themselves threatened 
by this armed multitude, to acknowledge their franchise by a solemn 

It does not follow that everywhere the Commune was established by 
means of insurrection, for it was obtained after all sorts of struggles ; and 
franchises were sold in some places for gold, and in others granted by a more 
or less voluntary liberality. Everywhere the object was the same ; every- 
where they struggled or negotiated to upset, by a written constitution or 
charter, the violence and arbitrary rule under which the)' had so long 
suffered, and to replace by an annual and fixed rent, under the protection 
of an independent and impartial law, the unlimited exactions and disguised 
plundering so long made by the nobility and royalty. Circumstanced as 
they were, what other means had they to attain this end but ramparts and 
gates, a common treasury, a permanent military force, and magistrates who were 
both administrators, judges, and captains ? The hotel de ville, or mansion- 
house, immediately became a sort of civic temple, where the banner of the 
Commune, the emblems of unity, and the seal which sanctioned the muni- 
cipal acts were preserved. Then arose the watch-towers, where the watchmen 
were unceasingly posted night and day, and whence the alarm signal was 
ever read)' to issue its powerful sounds when danger threatened the city. 
These watch-towers, the monuments of liberty, became as necessary for the 


Fig. 37.— Chimes of the Clock of St. Lambert of Lies 

burghers as the clock-towers 
of their cathedrals, whose 
brilliant peals and joyous 
chimes gave zest to the 
popular feasts (Fig. 37). 
The mansion-houses built 
in Flanders from the four- 
teenth to the sixteenth 
centuries, under municipal 
influence, are marvels of 

Who is there who could 
thoroughly describe or even 
appreciate all the happy or 
unhappy vicissitudes rela- 
ting to the establishment 
of the Communes ? We read 
of the Commune of Cam- 
brai, four times created, four 
times destroyed, and which 
was continually at war with 
the bishops ; the Commune 
of Beauvais, sustained on 
the contrary by the diocesan 
prelate against two nobles 
who possessed feudal rights 
over it ; Laon, a commune 
bought for money from 
the bishop, afterwards con- 
firmed by the King, and 
then violated by fraud 
and treachery, and eventu- 
ally buried in the blood of 
its defenders. We read also 
of St. Qucntin, where the 
Count of Vermandois and 



his vassals voluntarily swore to maintain tlie right of the bourgeois, and 
scrupulously respected their oath. In many other localities the feudal digni- 
taries took alarm simply at the name of Commune, and whereas they would 

Fi?. 38.— The Deputies of the Burghers of Ghent, in revolt against their Sovereign, Louis II , 
Count of Flanders, come to beg him to pardon them, and to return to their Town, 1397. — 
Miniature from Froissart, No. 2614 (National library of Paris). 

not agree to the very Lest arrangements under this terrible designation, they 
did not hesitate to adopt them when called either the "laws of friendship," 
the "peace of God," or the " institutions of peace." At Lisle, for instance, 
the bourgeois magistrates took the name of appetisers, or watchers over friend- 


ship. At Aire, in Artois, the members of friendship mutually, not only 
helped one another against the enemy, but also assisted one another in 


Amiens deserves the first place amongst the cities which dearly pur- 
chased their privileges. The most terrible and sanguinary war was sustained 
by the bourgeois against their count and lord of the manor, assisted by King 
Louis le Gros, who had under similar circumstances just taken the part of the 

nobles of La on. 

From Amiens, which, having been triumphant, became a perfect muni- 
cipal republic, the example propagated itself throughout the rest of Picardy, 
the Isle of France, Normandy, Brittany, and Burgundy, and by degrees, 
without any revolutionary shocks, reached the region of Lyons, where the 
consulate, a characteristic institution of southern Communes, ended. 

From Flanders, also, the movement spread in the direction of the German 
Empire ; and there, too, the struggle was animated, and victorious against the 
aristocracy, until at last the great system of enfranchisement prevailed ; and 
the cities of the west and south formed a confederation against the nobles, 
whilst those in the north formed the famous Teutonic Hanse, so celebrated 
for its maritime commerce. 

The centre of France slowly followed the movement ; but its progress 
was considerably delayed by the close influence of royalty, which sometimes 
conceded large franchises, and sometimes suppressed the least claims to inde- 
pendence. The kings, who willingly favoured Communes on the properties 
of their neighbours, did not so much care to see them forming on their own 
estates ; unless the exceptional position and importance of any town required 
a wise exercise of tolerance. Thus Orleans, situated in the heart of the 
royal domains, was roughly repulsed in its first movement ; whilst Mantes, 
which was on the frontier of the Duchy of Normandy, and still under the 
King of England, had but to ask in order to receive its franchise from the 
King of France. 

It was particularly in the royal domains that cities were to be found, 
which, although they did not possess the complete independence of communes, 
had a certain amount of liberty and civil guarantees. They had neither the 
right of war, the watch-tower, nor the exclusive jurisdiction over their elected 
magistrates, for the bailiffs and the royal provosts represented the sovereign 
amongst them (Fig. 39). 



In Paris, less than anywhere, could the kings consent to the organization 

Fig. 39.— Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's Bailiff.— Fac-simile of an Engraving on Wood in 
the Work of Josse Damhoudere, " Praxis Eerum Civilium" (Antwerp, 155", in 4to.). 

of an independent political system, although that city succeeded in creating 
for itself a municipal existence. The middle-class influence originated in 


a Gallo-Koman corporation. The Company of Nantes, or " the Corporation of 
the "Water Trade," formed a centre round which were successively attached 
various bodies of different trades. Gradually a strong concourse of civic 
powers was established, which succeeded in electing a municipal council, 
composed of a provost of merchants, four aldermen, and twenty-six council- 
lors of the town. This council afterwards succeeded in overstepping the 
royal influence at difficult times, and was destined to play a prominent part 
in history. 

There also sprang up a lower order of towns or boroughs than these bour- 
geois cities, which were especially under the Crown. Not having sufficient 
strength to claim a great amount of liberty, they were obliged to be satisfied 
with a few privileges, conceded to them by the nobles, for the most part with 
a political end. These were the Free Towns or New Towns which we have 
already named. 

However it came about, it is certain that although during the tenth century 
feudal power was almost supreme in Europe, as early as the twelfth century 
the municipal system had gained great weight, and was constantly progress- 
ing until the policy of the kingdom became developed on a more and more 
extended basis, so that it was then necessary for it to give up its primitive 
nature, and to participate in the great movement of consolidisation and national 
unity. In this way the position of the large towns in the state relatively lost 
their individual position, and became somewhat analogous, as compared with 
the kingdom at large, to that formerly held by bourgeois in the cities. 
Friendly ties arose between provinces; and distinct and rival interests 
were effaced by the general aspiration towards common objects. The towns 
were admitted to the states general, and the citizens of various regions 
mixed as representatives of the Tiers Mat. Three orders thus met, who 
were destined to struggle for predominance in the future. 

We must call attention to the fact that, as M. Henri Martin says, by an 
apparent contradiction, the fall of the communes declared itself in inverse 
ratio to the progress of the Tiers Mat. By degrees, as the government 
became more settled from the great fiefs being absorbed by the crown, and 
as parliament and other courts of appeal which emanated from the middle 
class extended their high judiciary and military authority, so the central 
power, organized under monarchical form, must necessarily have been less 
disposed to tolerate the local independence of the Communes. The State 



replaced the Commune for everything concerning justice, war, and adminis- 
tration. No doubt some valuable privileges were lost ; but that was only an 
accidental circumstance, for a great social revolution was produced, which 
cleared off at once all the relics of the old age ; and when the work of 
reconstruction terminated, homage was rendered to the venerable name of 
" Commune," which became uniformly applied to all towns, boroughs, or 
villages into which the new spirit of the same municipal system was infused. 

Fig. 40. — Various Arma of the Fifteenth Century. 



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. — Varlsts, rages, 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 Pail. 

gory of Tours, the Merovingian Hero- 
dotus, as an authority, thus describes 
a royal domain under the first royal 
dynasty of France : — 

" This dwelling in no way pos- 
sessed the military aspect of the 
chateau of the Middle Ages ; it was 
a large huilding surrounded with 
porticos of Roman architecture, some- 
times built of carefully polished and 
sculptured wood, which in no way was wanting in elegance. Around the 
main body of the building were arranged the dwellings of the officers of 
the palace, either foreigners or Romans, and those of the chiefs of companies, 
who, according to Germanic custom, had placed themselves and their 
warriors under the King, that is to say, under a special engagement of 
vassalage and fidelity. Other houses, of less imposing appearance, were 
occupied by a great number of families, who worked at all sorts of trades, 
such as jewellery, the making of arms, weaving, currying, the embroidering 
of silk and gold, cotton, &c. 

" Farm-buildings, paddocks, cow-houses, sheepfolds, barns, the houses of 
agriculturists, and the cabins of the serfs, completed the royal village, which 




perfectly resembled, although on a larger scale, the villages of ancient 
Germany. There was something too in the position of these dwellings 
which resembled the scenery beyond the Rhine; the greater number of 
them were on the borders, and some few in the centre of great forests, which 
havesince been partly destroyed, and the remains of which wo so much admire." 

Fig. 41.— St. Eemy, Bishop of Rheims, "begging of Clovis the restitution of the Sacred Vase 
taken by the Franks in the Pillage of Soissons.— Costumes of the Court of Burgundy in the 
Fifteenth Century.— Fac-simile of a Miniature on a Manuscript of the "History of the Em- 
perors" (Library of the Arsenal). 

Although historical documents are not very explicit respecting those 
remote times, it is only sufficient to study carefully a very small portion of 
the territory in order to form some idea of the manners and customs of the 
Franks ; for in the royal domain we find the existence of all classes, from 



the sovereign himself down to the humblest slave. As regards the private 
life, however, of the different classes in this elementary form of society, we 
have but appri iximate and very imperfect notions. 

It is clear, however, that as early as the beginning of the Merovingian 
race, there was much more luxury and comfort among the upper classes than 
is generally supposed. All the gold and silver furniture, all the jewels, and 
all the rich stuffs which the Gallo-Eomans had amassed in their sumptuous 
dwellings, had not been destroyed by the barbarians. The Frank Kings 
had appropriated the greater part ; and the rest had fallen into the hands of 
the chiefs of companies in the division of spoil. A welbknown anecdote, 
namely, that concerning the Yase of Soissons (Fig. 41), which King Clovis 
wished to preserve, and which a soldier broke with an axe, proves that many 
gems i if ancient art must have disappeared, owing to the ignorance and 
brutality of the conquerors ; although it is equally certain that the latter soon 
adopted the tastes and customs of the native population. At first, they appro- 
priated everything that flattered their pride and sensuality. This is how the 
material remains of the civilisation of the Gauls were preserved in the royal 
and noble residences, the churches and the monasteries. Gregory of Tours 
informs us, that when Fredegonde, wife of Chilperic, gave the hand of her 
daughter Rigouthe to the son of the Gothic king, fifty chariots were required 
to carry away all the valuable objects which composed the princess's dower. 
A strange family scene, related by the same historian, gives us an idea of 
the private habits of the court of that terrible queen of the Franks. " The 
mother and daughter had frequent quarrels, which sometimes ended in the 
most violent encounters. Fredegonde said one day to Rigouthe, ' Why do you 
continually trouble me? Here are the goods of your father, take them and 
do as you like with them.' And conducting her to a room where she locked 
up her treasures, she opened a large box filled with valuables. After having 
pulled out a great number of jewels which she gave to her daughter, she 
said, ' I am tired ; put your own hands in the box, and take what you find.' 
Rigouthe bent down to reach the objects placed at the bottom of the box ; 
upon which Fredegonde immediately lowered the lid on her daughter, and 
pressed upon it with so much force that the eyes began to start out of the 
princess's head. A maid began screaming, ' Help ! my mistress is being- 
murdered by her mother ! ' and Regouthe was saved from an untimely end." 
It is further related that this was only one of the minor crimes attributed 



by history to Fredegonde the Terrible, who always carried a dagger or poison 
about with her. 

Amongst the Franks, as amongst all 
barbaric populations, hunting was the 
pastime preferred when war was not 
being waged. The Merovingian nobles 

were therefore determined hunters, and 

it frequently happened that bunting 

occupied whole weeks, and took them far 

from their homes and families. But when 

the season or other circumstances pre- 
vented them from waging war against 

men or beasts, they only cared for feast- 
ing and gambling. To these occupations 

they gave themselves up, with a deter- 
mination and wildness well worthy of 

those semi-civilised times. It was the 

custom for invited guests to appear armed 

at the feasts, which were the more fre- 
quent, inasmuch as they were necessarily 

accompanied with religious ceremonies. 

It often happened that these long repasts, 

followed by games of chance, were stained 

with blood, either in private quarrels or in 

a general melee. One can easily imagine 

the tumult which must have arisen in a 

numerous assembly when the hot wine 

and other fermented drinks, such as beer, 

&C, had excited every one to the highest 

pitch of unchecked merriment. 

Some of the Merovingian kings listened 

to the advice of the ministers of the 

Catholic religion, and tried to reform these 

noisy excesses, and themselves abandoned 

the evil custom. For this purpose they received at their tallies bishops, 

who blessed the assembly at the commencement, of the meal, and were charged 

Fig. 42. — Costumes of the Women of the 
Court from the Sixth to the Tenth 
Centuries, from Documents collected by 
II. ile Vielcastel, in the great Libraries 
of Europe. 



besides to recite chapters of holy writ, or to sing hymns out of the divine 
service, so as to edify and occupy the minds of the guests. 

Gregory of Tours hears witness to the happy influence of the presence of 
bishops at the tables of the Frank kings and nobles ; he relates, too, that 
Chilperic, who was very proud of his theological and secular knowledge, 

Fig. 43.— Queen Fredegonde, seated on her Throne, gives orders to two young Men of Terouanne 
to assassinate Sigebert, King of Australia. -Window in the Cathedral of Tournai, Fifteenth 

liked, when dining, to discuss, or rather to pronounce authoritatively his 
opinion on questions of grammar, before his companions in arms, who, for 
the most part, neither knew how to read or write ; he even went as far as to 
order three ancient Greek letters to be added to the Latin alphabet. 

The private properties of the Frank kings were immense, and produced 
enormous revenues. These monarchs, besides, had palaces in almost all the 


large towns; at Bourges, Chalons-sur-Saone, Chaloiis-sur-Marnc, Dijon, 
Etampes, Metz, Lang-res, Mayence, Rheiins, Soissons, Toms, Toulouse, 
Treves, Valenciennes, Worms, &c. In Paris, tliey occupied the vast residence 
now known as the Thcrmes do Jiilicn (Hotel de Gluny), which then extended 
from the hill of St. Genevieve as far as the Seine; but they frequently left 
it for their numerous villas in the neighbourhood, on which occasions they 
were always accompanied by their treasury. 

All these residences were built on the same plan. High walls surrounded 
the palace. The Roman atrium, preserved under the name of proaulutm 
(preau, anti-court), was placed in front of the salutorhtm (hall of reception) 
where visitors were received. The consistoriuin, or great circular hall sur- 
rounded with seats, served for legislation, councils, public assemblies, and 
other solemnities, at which the kings displayed their royal pomp. 

The trichorium, or dining-room, was generally the largest hall in the 
palace; two rows of columns divided it into three parts; one for the royal 
family, one for the officers of the household, and the third for the guests, 
who were always very numerous. No person of rank visiting the King- 
could leave without sitting at his table, or at least draining a cup to his 
health. The King's hospitality was magnificent, especially on great religious 
festivals such as Christmas and Easter. 

The royal apartments were divided into winter and summer rooms. In 
order to regulate the temperature hot or cold water was used, according to 
the season; this circulated in the pipes of the hi/pocausfe, or the subterranean 
furnace which warmed the baths. The rooms with chimneys, were called 
epicaustoria (stoves), and it was the custom hermetically to close these when 
any one wished to be anointed with ointments and aromatic essences. In the 
same manner as the Gallo-Roman houses, the palaces of the Frank kings 
and principal nobles of ecclesiastical or military order had thermos, or bath- 
rooms ; to the thermes were attached acoli/mbitm, or washhouse, a gymnasium 
for bodily exercise, and a hi/podrome, or covered gallery for exercise, which 
must not be confounded with the hippodrome, a circus where horse-races took 

Sometimes after the repast, in the interval between two games of dice, 
the nobles listened to a bard, who sang the brilliant deeds of their ancestors 
in their native tongue. 

L T nder the government of Charlemagne, the private life of his subjects 



seems to have been less rough and coarse, although they did not entirely 
give up their turbulent pleasures. Science and letters, for a long time buried 
in monasteries, reappeared like beautiful exiles at the imperial court, and 
social life thereby gained a little charm and softness. Charlemagne had 
created in bis palace, under the direction of Alcuin, a sort of academy called 
the ".School of the Palace," which followed him everywhere. The intellectual 
exercises of this school generally brought together all the members of the 
imperial family, as well as all the persons of the household. Charle- 
magne, in fact, was himself one of the most attentive followers of the lessons 

Fig. 4i.-Costumea of the Nobility from the Seventh to the Ninth Centuries, from Documents 
gathered by H. de Vielcastel from the great Libraries of Europe. 

given by Alcuin. He was indeed the principal interlocutor and discourse!' 
at the discussions, which were on all subjects, religious, literary, and philo- 

Charlemagne took as much pains with the administration of his palace, 
as he did with that of his States. In Ins « Capitulaircs," a work he wrote 
on legislature, we find him descending to the minutest details in that respect. 
For instance, he nut only interested himself in his warlike and hunting 
equipages, but also in his kitchen and pleasure gardens. He insisted upon 
knowing every year the number of his oxen, horses, and goats ; he calculated 


the produce of the sale of fruits gathered in his orchards, which were not 
required for the use of his house ; he had a return of the numher of fish 
caught in his ponds ; he pointed out the shrubs host calculated for ornament- 
ing his garden, and the vegetables which were required for his table, &c. 

The Emperor generally assumed the greatest simplicity in his dross. 
His daily attire consisted of a linen shirt and drawers, and a woollen tunic 
fastened with a silk holt. ( tver this tunic he threw a. cloak of blue stuff, 
very long behind and before, but very short on each side, thus giving 
freedom to his arms to use his sword, which he always wore. On his feet 
he wore hands of stuffs of various colours, crossed over one another, and 
covering his legs also. In winter, when he travelled or hunted on horseback, 
he threw over his shoulders a covering of otter or sheepskin. The changes 
in fashion which the custom of the times necessitated, but to which lie would 
never submit personally, induced him to issue several strenuous orders, which, 
however, in reality had hardly any effect. 

He was most simple as regards his food and drink, and made a habit 
of having pious or historical works read to him during his repasts. He 
devoted the morning, which with him began in summer at sunrise, and 
in winter earlier, to the political administration of his empire. He dined 
at twelve with his family; the dukes and chiefs of various nations first 
waited on him, and then took their places at the table, and were waited 
on in their turn by the counts, prefects, and superior officers of the court, 
who dined after them. When these had finished the different chiefs of 
the household sat down, and they were succeeded lastly by servants of the 
lower order, who often did not dine till midnight, and had to content them- 
selves with what was left. When occasion required, however, this powerful 
Emperor knew how to maintain the pomp and dignity of his station ; but as 
soon as he had done what was necessary, either for some great religious 
festival or otherwise, he returned, as if by instinct, to his clear and native 

It must lie understood that the simple tastes of Charlemagne "were not. 
always shared by the princes and princesses of his family, nor by the 
magnates of his court (Fig. 45). Poets and historians have handed down 
to us descriptions of hunts, feasts, and ceremonies, at which a truly Asiatic- 
splendour was displayed. Eginhard, however, assures us that, the sons and 
daughters of the King were brought up under their father's eye in liberal 

6 4 


studies ; that, to save them from the vice of idleness, Charlemagne required 
his sons to devote themselves to all bodily exercises, such as horsemanship 
handling of arms, &c, and his daughters to do needlework and to spin. 
From what is recorded, however, of the frivolous habits and irregular morals 
of these princesses, it is evident that they but imperfectly realised the end 
of their education. 

Science and letters, which for a time were brought into prominence by 
Charlemagne and also by his son Louis, who was very learned and was con- 

Fig. 45.— Costumes of the Ladies of the Nobility in the Ninth Century, from a Miniature in the 
Bible of Charles the Bold (National Library of Paris). 

sidered skilful in translating and expounding Scripture, were, however, after 
the death of these two kings, fur a long time banished to the seclusion of the 
cloisters, owing to the hostile rivalry of their successors, which favoured the 
attacks of the Norman pirates. All the monuments and relics of the Gallo- 
Eoman civilisation, which the great Emperor had collected, disappeared in 
the civil wars, or were gradually destroyed by the devastations of the 

The vast empire which Charlemagne" had formed became gradually split 
up, so that from a dread of social destruction, in order to protect churches 



and monasteries!, as well as castles and homesteads, from the attacks of internal 
as well as foreign enemies, towers and impregnable fortresses began to rise in 
all parts of Europe, and particularly in France. 

During the first period of feudalism, that is to say from the middle of 
the ninth to the middle of the twelfth centuries, the inhabitants of castles 
had little time to devote to the pleasures of private life. They had not only 
to be continually under arms for the endless quarrels of (lie King and the 
great chiefs; but they had also to oppose the Normans on one side, and 



Fig. 46.- 


-Towers of the Castle of Semur, and of the Cattle of Nogcnt-le-Kolrou (Present 
Condition). — Specimens of Towers of the Thirteenth Century. 

the Saracens on the other, who, being masters of the Spanish peninsula, 
spread like the rising tide in the southern counties of Langucdoc and 
Provence. It is true that the Carlovingian warriors obtained a handsome 
and rich reward for these long and sanguinary efforts, for at last they seized 
upon the provinces and districts which had been originally entrusted to their 
charge, and the origin of their feudal possession was soon so far forgotten, that 
their descendants pretended that they held the lands, which they had really 
usurped regardless of their oath, from heaven and their swords. It is needless 




to say, that at that time the domestic life in these castles must have been 
dull and monotonous ; although, according to M. Guizot, the loneliness which 
was the result of this rough and laborious life, became by degrees the pioneer 
of civilisation. 

" "When the owner of the fief left his castle, his wife remained there, 
though in a totally different position from that which women generally held. 
She remained as mistress, representing her husband, and was charged with 
the defence and honour of the fief. This high and exalted position, in the 

Fig. 47- — Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, allegorical Scene. — Costume of the End of 
the Fifteenth Century, from a Miniature in a Latin Psalm Book (Manuscript No. 175, National 
Library of Paris). 

centre of domestic life, often gave to women an opportunity of displaying 
dignity, courage, virtue, and intelligence, which would otherwise have 
remained hidden, and, no doubt, contributed greatly to their moral develop- 
ment, and to the general improvement of their condition. 

"The importance of children, and particidarly of the eldest son, was 
greater in feudal houses than elsewhere. .... The eldest son of the noble 
was, in the eyes of his father and of all his followers, a prince and heir- 
presumptive, and the hope and glory of the dynasty. These feelings, and 
the domestic pride and affection of the various members one to another, 



united to give families much energy and power Add to this the 

influence of Christian ideas, and it will be understood how this lonely, dull, 
and hard castle life was, nevertheless, favourable to the development of 
domestic society, and to that improvement in the condition of women which 
plavs such a great part in the history of our civilisation." 

"Whatever opinion may be formed of chivalry, it is impossible to deny the 
influence -which this institution exercised on private life in the Middle 
Ages. It considerably modified custom, by bringing the stronger sex to 
respect and defend the weaker. These warriors, who were both simple and 
externallv rough and coarse, required association and intercourse with 
women to soften them (Fig. 47). In taking women and helpless widows 

Tig. 48.— Court of Love in Provence in the Fourteenth Century (Manuscript of the National 

Library of Paris). 

under their protection, they were necessarily more and more thrown in 
contact with them. A deep feeling of veneration for woman, inspired by 
Christianity, and, above all, by the worship of the Virgin Mary, ran 
throughout the songs of the troubadours, and produced a sort of sentimental 
reverence for the gentle sex, which culminated in the authority which women 
had in the courts of love (Fig. 48) . 

We have now reached the reign of Philip Augustus, that is to say, the 
end of the twelfth century. This epoch is remarkable, not only for its 
political history, but also for its effect on civilisation. Christianity had then 
considerably influenced the world ; arts, sciences, and letters, animated by 
its influence, again began to appear, and to add charms to the leisure of 



private life. The castles were naturally the first to be affected by this 
poetical and intellectual regeneration, although it has been too much the 
custom to exaggerate the ignorance of those who inhabited them. We are 
too apt to consider the warriors of the Middle Ages as totally devoid of 
knowledge, and as hardly able to sign their names, as far as the kings and 
princes are concerned. This is quite an error ; for many of the knights 
composed poems which exhibit evidence of their high literary culture. 

It was, in fact, the epoch of troubadours, who might be called professional 
poets and actors, who went from country to country, and from castle to castle, 
relating stories of good King Artus of Brittany and of the Knights of the 
Round Table ; repeating historical poems of the great Emperor Charlemagne 
and his followers. These minstrels were always accompanied by jugglers and 
instrumentalists, who formed a travelling troop (Fig. 49), having no other 
mission than to amuse and instruct their feudal hosts. After singing a 
ihw fragments of epics, or after the lively recital of some ancient fable, 
the jugglers would display their art or skill in gymnastic feats or con- 
juring, which were the more ajypreciated by the spectators, in that the 
latter were more or less able to compete with them. These wandering 
troops acted small comedies, taken from incidents of the times. Sometimes, 
too, the instrumentalists formed an orchestra, and dancing commenced. It 
may be here remarked that dancing at this epoch consisted of a number of 
persons forming large circles, and turning to the time of the music or the 
rhythm of the song. At least the dances of the nobles are thus represented 
in the MSS. of the Middle Ages. To these amusements were added games 
of calculation and chance, the fashion for which had much increased, and 
particularly such games as backgamrnon, draughts, and chess, to which certain 
knights devoted all their leisure. 

From the reign of Philip Augustus, a remarkable change seems to 
have taken place in the private life of kings, princes, and nobles. Although 
his domains and revenues had always been on the increase, this monarch 
never displayed, in ordinary circumstances at least, much magnificence. 
The accounts of his private expenses for the years 1202 and 1203 have 
been preserved, which enable us to discover some curious details bearing 
witness to the extreme simplicity of the court at that period. The household 
of the King or royal family was still very small : one chancellor, one 
chaplain, a squire, a butler, a few Knights of the Temple, and some 



sergeants-at-arms were the only officers of the palace. Tlie King and 
princes of his household only changed apparel three limes during the year. 

Fig. 49. — King David playing on the Lyre, surrounded by four Musicians.— Costumes of the 
Thirteenth Century (from a Miniature in a Manuscript Psalter in the Imperial Library, Paris). 

The children of the King slept in sheets of serge, and their nurses were 
dressed in gowns of dark-coloured woollen stuff, called brunette. The royal 
cloak, which was of scarlet, was jewelled, but the King only wore it on 


great ceremonies. At the same time enormous expenses were incurred for 
implements of war, arrows, helmets with visors, chariots, and for the men- 
at-arms whom the King kept in his pay. 

Louis IX. personally kept iip almost similar habits. The Sire de Joinville 
tells us in his " Chronicles," that the holy King on his return from his first 
crusade, in order to repair the damage done to his treasury by the failure of 
this expedition, would no longer wear costly furs nor robes of scarlet, and con- 
tented himself with common stuffs trimmed with hare-skin. He nevertheless 
did not diminish the officers of his household, which had already become 
numerous ; and being no doubt convinced that royalty required magnificence, 
he surrounded himself with as much pomp as the times permitted. 

Under the two PhiHps, his successors, this magnificence increased, and 
descended to the great vassals, who were soon imitated by the knights 
" bannerets." There seemed to be a danger of luxury becoming so great, 
and so general in all classes of feudal society, that in 1294 an order of 
the King was issued, regulating in the minutest details the expenses of 
each person according to his rank in the State, or the fortune which he 
could prove. But this law had the fate of all such enactments, and was 
either easily evaded, or was only partially enforced, and that with great 
difficulty. Another futile attempt to put it in practice was made in 130G, 
when the splendour of dress, of equipages, and of table had become still 
greater and more ruinous, and had descended progressively to the bourgeois 
and merchants. 

It must be stated in praise of Philip le Bel (Fig. 50) that, notwithstand- 
ing the failure of his attempts to arrest the progress of luxury, he was not 
satisfied with making laws against the extravagances of his subjects, for we 
find that he studied a strict economy in his own household, which recalled 
the austere times of Philip Augustus. Thus, in the curious regulations 
relating to the domestic arrangements of the palace, the Queen, Jeanne de 
Navarre, was only allowed two ladies and three maids of honour in her 
suite, and she is said to have had only two four-horse carriages, one for 
herself and the other for these ladies. In another place these regulations 
require that a butler, specially appointed, " should buy all the cloth and furs 
for the king, take charge of the key of the cupboards where these are kept, 
know the quantity given to the tailors to make clothes, and check the accounts 
when the tailors send in their claims for the price of their work." 



After the death of the pious Jeanne do Navarre, to whom perhaps we 


Fig. .50.— King Philip le Bel in War-dress, on the Occasion of his entering Paris in 1304, after 
having conquered the Communes of Flanders.— Equestrian Statue placed in Notre Dame, 
Paris, and destroyed in 1772.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut from Thovefs " Cosmographio 
TJniverselle," 1575. 

must attribute the wise measures of he; husband, Philip lc Bel, the expenses 
of the royal household materially increased, especially on the occasions of the 


marriages of the three young sons of the King, from 1305 to 1307. Gold, 
diamonds, pearls, and precious stones were employed profusely, both for the 
King's garments and for those of the members of the royal family. The 
accounts of 1307 mention considerable sums paid for carpets, counterpanes, 
robes, worked linen, &c. A chariot of state, ornamented and covered with paint- 
ings, and elided like the back of an altar, is also mentioned, and must have 
been a great change to the heavy vehicles used for travelling in those days. 

Down to the reign of St. Louis the furniture of castles had preserved a 
character of primitive simplicity which did not, however, lack grandeur. 
The stone remained uncovered in most of the halls, or else it was whitened 
with mortar and ornamented with moulded roses and leaves, coloured in 
distemper. Against the wall, and also against the pillars supporting the 
arches, arms and armour of all sorts were hung, arranged in suits, and inter- 
spersed with banners and pennants or emblazoned standards. In the great 
middle hall, or dining-room, there was a long massive oak table, with benches 
and stools of the same wood. At the end of this table, there was a large arm- 
chair, overhung with a canopy of golden or silken stuff, which was occupied 
by the owner of the castle, and only relinquished by him in favour of his 
superior or sovereign. Often the walls of the hall of state were hung with 
tapestry, representing groves with cattle, heroes of ancient history, or 
events in the romance of chivalry. The floor was generally paved with 
hard stone, or covered with enamelled tiles. It was carefully strewn with 
scented herbs in summer, and straw in winter. Philip Augustus ordered 
that the Hotel Dieu of Paris should receive the herbs and straw which was 
daily removed from the floors of his palace. It was only very much later 
that this troublesome system was replaced by mats and carpets. 

The bedrooms were generally at the top of the towers, and had little else 
by way of furniture, besides a very large bed, with or without curtains, a 
box in which clothes were kept, and which also served as a seat, and aprie- 
dieu chair, which sometimes contained prayer and other books of devotion. 
These lofty rooms, whoso thick walls kept out the heat in summer, and the 
cold in winter, were only lighted by a small window or loophole, closed 
with a square of oiled paper or of thin horn. 

A great change took place in the abodes of the nobility in the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries (Fig. 51). "We find, for instance, in Sauval's " History 
and Researches of the Antiquities of the City of Paris," that the abodes of 



the kings of the first dynast}'' had been transformed info Palaces of Justice 
by Philip le Eel ; the same author also gives us a vivid description of the 
Chateau du Louvre, and the Hotel St. Paul, which the kings inhabited 
when their court was in the capital. But even without examining into 
all the royal abodes, it will suffice to give an account of the Hotel de 

Fig'. 51.— The Knight and his Lady.— Costumes of the Court of Burgundy in the Fourteenth 
Century; Furnished Chamber.— Miniature in " Othea," Form by Christine de Pisan (Brussels 

Boheme, which, after having been the home of the Sires de Nesles, of 
Queen Blanche of Castillo, and other great persons, was given by Charles \ I., 
in 1388, to his brother, the famous Duke Louis of Orleans. 

" I shall not attempt," says Sauval, " to speak of the cellars and wine 
cellars, the bakehouses, the fruiteries, the salt-stores, the fur rooms, the 



porters' lodges, the stores, the guard-rooms, the wood-yard, or the glass-stores ; 
nor of the servants ; nor of the place where hypocms was made ; neither shall 
I describe the tapestry-room, the linen-room, nor the laundry ; nor, indeed, 
any of the various conveniences which were then to he found in the yards of 
that palace as well as in the other abodes of the princes and nobles. 

" I shall simply remark, that amongst the many suites of rooms which 
composed it, two occupied the two first stories of the main building; the first- 
was raised some few steps above the ground-floor of the court, and was 
occupied by Valentine do Milan ; and her husband, Louis of Orleans, generally 
occupied the second. Each of these suites of rooms consisted of a great hall, a 
chamber of state, a large chamber, a, wardrobe, some closets, and a chapel. 
The windows of the halls were thirteen and a half feet* high by four and a 
half wide. The state chambers were eight ' toises,' that is, about fifty feet 
and a half long. The duke and duchess's chambers were six ' toises ' by 
three, that is, about thirty-six feet by eighteen; the others were seven toises 
and a half square, all lighted by long and narrow windows of wirework with 
trellis-work of iron ; the wainscots and the ceilings were made of Irish wood, 
the same as at the Louvre." 

In this palace there was a room used by the duke, hung with cloth of 
gold, bordered with vermilion velvet, embroidered with roses ; the duchess had 
a room hung with vermilion satin embroidered with crossbows, which were 
on her coat of arms ; that of the Duke of Burgundy was hung with cloth of 
gold embroidered with windmills. There were, besides, eight carpets of 
glossy texture, with gold Mowers ; one representing " The Seven Virtues and 
the Seven Vices ; " another the history of Charlemagne ; another that of St. 
Louis. There were also cushions of cloth of gold, twenty-four pieces of 
vermilion leather of Aragon, and four carpets of Aragon leather, "to be 
placed on the floor of rooms in summer." The favourite arm-chair of the 
princess is thus described in an inventory : — " A chamber chair with four 
supports, painted in fine vermilion, the seat and arms of which are covered 
with vermilion morocco, or cordovan, worked and stamped with designs 
representing the sun, birds, and other devices, bordered with fringes of silk 
and studded with nails." 

Among the ornamental furniture were — " A large vase of massive silver, 
for holding sugar-plums or sweetmeats, shaped like a square table, supported 

* French feet. 



by four satyrs, also of silver; a fine wooden casket, covered with vormilion 
cordovan, nailed, and bordered with a narrow gilt band, shutting with a 

In the daily lite of Louis of < 'rleans and his wife, everything corresponded 
with the luxury of their house. Thus, for the amusement of their children, 
two little books of pictures were made, illuminated with gold, azure, and ver- 
milion, and covered with vermilion leather of Cordova, which cost sixty nols 
[itirisis, i.f. four hundred Cranes. But it was in the custom of New Year's 

Fig. 52.— Bronze Chandeliers of the Fourteenth Century (Collection of M. Aeh. Jubinal). 

gifts that the duke and duchess displayed truly royal magnificence, as we find 
described in the accounts of their expenses. For instance, in 138S they paid 
four hundred francs of gold for sheets of silk to give to those who received 
the New Year's gifts from the King and Queen. In 1402, one hundred pounds 
(tournois) were given to Jehan Taienne, goldsmith, for six silver cups pre- 
sented to Jacques de Poschin, the Duke's squire. To the Sire de la Tremouille 
Valentine gives " a cup and basin of gold ;" to Queen Isabella, "a golden 


image of St. John, surrounded with nine rubies, one sapphire, and twenty 
one pearls ;" to Mademoiselle de Luxembourg-, "another small golden sacred 
imao-e, surrounded with pearls;" and lastly, in an account of 1394, headed, 
" Portion of gold and silver jewels bought by Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans 
as a New Year's gift," we find "a clasp of gold, studded with one large ruby 
and six large pearls, given to the King ; three paternosters for the King's 
daughters, and two large diamonds for the Dukes of 
Burgundy and Berry." 

Such were the habits in private life of the royal 
princes under Charles VI. ; and it can easily be 
shown that the example of royalty was followed 
not only by the court, but also in the remotest 
provinces. The great tenants or vassals of the 
crown each possessed several splendid mansions in 
their fiefs ; the Dukes of Burgundy, at Souvigny, 
at Moulins, and at Bourbon l'Archambault ; the 
Counts of Champagne, at Troves ; the Dukes of 
Burgundy at Dijon ; and all the smaller nobles 
made a point of imitating their superiors. From the 
fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the provinces 
which now compose France were studded with 
castles, which were as remarkable for their interior 
architecture as for the richness of their furniture ; 
and it may be asserted that the luxury which was 
displayed in the dwellings of the nobility was the 
evidence, if not the result, of a great social revo- 
lution in the manners and customs of private life. 
At the end of the fourteenth centuiy there lived 
a much-respected noble of Anjou, named Geoffroy de Latour-Landry, who 
had three daughters. In his old age, he resolved that, considering the 
dangers which might surround them in consccpience of their inexperience 
and beauty, he would compose for their use a code of admonitions which 
might guide them in the various circumstances of life. 

This book of domestic maxims is most curious and instructive, from the 
details which it contains respecting the manners and customs, mode of 
conduct, and fashions of the nobility of the period (Fig. 54). The author 

Fig-. 53. — Styli used in writing- 
in the Fourteenth Century. 

\p^ ^ 


Representing the Parisian costumes at the end of the foirrtenntli century. 

Fac-simile of a miniature fmrn the latin Terence of king Charles \ !. 

From a manuscript in the I'.iM, J,e I'Arscmil 



mostly illustrates each of his precepts by examples from the life of contem- 
porary personages. 

The first advice the knight gives his daughters is, to begin the day with 
prayer ; and, in order to give greater weight to his counsel, he relates the 
following anecdote: "A noble had two daughters; the one was pious, 
always saying her prayers with devotion, and regularly attending the services 
of the church ; she married an honest man, and was most happy. The 
other, on the contrary, was satisfied with hearing low mass, and hurrying 

ajHMiHai ^^ 

Fig. 54.— Dress of Noble Ladies and Children in the Fourteenth Century.— Miniature in the 
" Merveilles du Monde " (Manuscript, National Library of Paris). 

once or twice through the Lord's Prayer, after which she went off to indulge 
herself with sweetmeats. She complained of headaches, and required 
careful diet. She married a most excellent knight; but, one evening, 
taking advantage of her husband being asleep, she shut herself up in one 
of the rooms of the palace, and in company with the people of the household, 
began eating and drinking in the most riotous and excessive manner. The 
knight awoke ; and, surprised not to find his wife by his side, got up, and, 
armed with a stick, betook himself to the scene of festivity. He struck one 
of the domestics with such force that he broke his stick in pieces, and one 


of the fragments flew into the lady's eye and put it out. This caused her 
husband to take a dislike to her, and he soon placed his affections elsewhere." 
"My pretty daughters," the moralising parent proceeds, "be courteous 
and meek, for nothing is more beautiful, nothing so secures the favour of God 
and the love of others. Be then courteous to great and small; speak o-ently 

with them I have seen a great lady take off her cap and bow to a 

simple ironmonger. One of her followers seemed astonished. ' I prefer ' 
she said, ' to have been too courteous towards that man, than to have been 
guilty of the least incivility to a knight.' " 

Fig. 5.5. — 'Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, and two Burgesses with Hoods (Fourteenth Century), 
from a Miniature in the " MerveiUes du Monde " (Manuscript in the Imperial Library of Paris). 

Latour-Landry also advised his daughters to avoid outrageous fashions 
in dress. "Do not be hasty in copying the dress of foreign women. I 
will relate a story on this subject respecting a bourgeoise of Guyenne and 
the Sire de Beaumanoir. The lady said to him, 'Cousin, I come from 
Brittany, where I saw my fine cousin, your wife, who was not so well 
dressed as the ladies of Guyenne and many other places. The 
borders of her dress and of her bonnet are not in fashion.' The Sire 
answered, ' Since you find fault with the dress and cap of my wife, and as 
they do not suit you, I shall take care in future that they arc changed ; but 

I shall be careful not to choose them similar to yours Understand, 

madam, that I wish her to be dressed according to the fashion of the good 



ladies of France and tin's country, and not like those of England. It was 
these last who first introduced into Brittany the large borders, the bodices 
opened on the hips, and the hanging sleeves. I remember the time, and saw 
it myself, and I have little respect for women who adopt these fashions.' !' 

Respecting the high head-dresses "which cause women to resemble stags 
who are obliged to lower their heads to enter a wood," the knight relates 
what took place in 139'2 at the fete of St. Marguerite. " There was a young 
and pretty woman there, quite differently dressed from the others; every one 
stared at her as if she had been a wild beast, One respectable lady 
approached her and said, ' My friend, what do you call that fashion ?' She 
answered, 'It is called the " gibbet dress." ' 'Indeed; but that is not a 
fine name ! ' answered the old lady. Very soon the name of ' gibbet dress ' 
got known all round the room, and every one laughed at the foolish creature 
who was thus bedecked." This head-dress did in fact owe its name to its 
summit, which resembled a gibbet. 

These extracts from the work of this honest knight, suffice to prove that 
the customs of French society had, as early as the end of the fourteenth 
century, taken a decided character which was to remain subject only to 
modifications introduced at various historical periods. 

Amongst the customs which contributed most to the softening and elegance 
of the feudal class, we must cite that of sending into the service of the 
sovereign for some years all the youths of both sexes, under the names of 
varlets, pages, squires, and maids of honour. No noble, of whatever wealth 
or power, ever thought of depriving his family of this apprenticeship and 
its accompanying chivalric education. 

Fp to the end of the twelfth century, the number of domestic officers 
attached to a castle was very limited ; we have seen, fur instance, that 
Philip Augustus contented himself with a few servants, and his queen with 
two or three maids of honour. Under Fouis IX. this household was much 
increased, and under Philippe le Bel and his sons the royal household had 
become so considerable as to constitute quite a large assemblage of young 
men and women. Under Charles VI., the household of Queen Isabella of 
Bavaria alone amounted to forty-five persons, without counting the almoner, 
the chaplains, and clerks of the chapel, who must have been very numerous, 
since the sums paid to them amounted to the large amount of four hundred 
and sixty francs of gold per annum. 



Fig. 56.— Court of the Ladies of Queen Anne of Brittany ; Miniature representing- this lady 
weeping on account of the absence of her husband during the Italian war.— Manuscript of the 
" Epistres Envoyees an Roi " (Sixteenth Century), obtained by the Coislin Fund for the Library 
of St. Germain des Pres in Paris, now in the Library of St. Petersburg. 

Under Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., the service of the 
young nohility, which was called " apprenticeship of honour or virtue," 


had taken a much wider range ; for the first families of the French nobility 
were most eager to get their children admitted into the royal household, 
either to attend on the King or Queen, or at any rate on one of the princes 
of the royal blood. Anne of Brittany particularly gave special attention to 
her female attendants (Fig. 56). "She was the first," says Brantome in 
his work on "Illustrious Women," "who began to form the great court of 
ladies which has descended to our days ; fur she had a considerable retinue 
both of adult ladies and young girls. She never refused to receive any' one ; 
on the contrary, she inquired of the gentlemen of the court if they had any 
daughters, ascertained who they were, and asked for them." It was thus 
that the Admiral de Graville (Fig. 57) confided to the good Queen the 
education of his daughter Anne, who at this school of the Court of Ladies 
became one of the most distinguished women of her day. The same Queen, 
as Duchess of Brittanv, created a company of one hundred Breton gentle- 
men, who accompanied her everywhere. " They never failed," says the 
author of " Illustrious Women," "when she went to mass or took a walk, 
to await her return on the little terrace of Blois, which is still called the 
Perche aux Bretons. She gave it this name herself; for when she saw them 
she said, ' There are my Bretons on the perch waiting for me.' ' 

We must not forget that this queen, who became successively the wife of 
Charles VIII. and of Louis XII., had taken care to c>tablish a strict 
discipline amongst the young men and women who composed her court. 
She rightly considered herself the guardian of the honour of the former, and 
of the virtue of the latter ; therefore, as long as she lived, her court was 
renowned for purity and politeness, noble and refined gallantry, and was 
never allowed to degenerate into imprudent amusements or licentious and 
culpable intrigues. 

Unfortunately, the moral influence of this worthy princess died with her. 
Although the court of France continued to gather around it almost every 
sort of elegance, and although it continued during the whole of the six- 
teenth century the most polished of European courts, notwithstanding the 
great external and civil wars, yet it afforded at the same time a sad example 
of laxity of morals, which had a most baneful influence on public habits ; so 
much so that vice and corruption descended from class to class, and contami- 
nated all orders of society. If we wished to make investigations into the 
private life of the lower orders in those times, we should not succeed as we 



Fig. .57.— Louis de Mallet, Lord of Graville, Admiral of France, 1487, in Cosluroe of War and 
Tournament, from an Engraving of the Sixteenth Century (National Library of Paris, Cabinet 
des Estampes). 

have been able to do with that of the upper classes ; for we have scarcely any 
data to throw light upon their sad and obscure history. Bourgeois and 
peasants were, as we have already shown, long included together with the 



miserable class of serfs, a herd of human beings without individuality, 
without significance, who from their birth to their death, whether isolated 
or collectively, were the "property" of their masters. What must have 
been the private life of this degraded multitude, bowed down under the must 
tyrannical and humiliating dependence, we can scarcely imagine ; it was in 
fact but a purely material existence, which has left scarcely any trace in 
Many centuries elapsed before the dawn of liberty could penetrate the 
social strata of this multitude, thus oppressed and denuded of all power of 
action. The development was slow, painful, and dearly bought, but at last 
it took place ; first of all towns sprang up, and with them, or rather by their 
influence, the inhabitants became possessed of social life. The agricultural 
population took its social position many generations later. 

As we have already seen, the great movement for the creation of communes 
and bourgeoisies only dates from the unsettled period ranging from the 
eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, and simultaneously we see the bour<reoi.s 
appear, already rich and luxurious, parading on all occasions their personal 
opulence. Their private life could only be an imitation of that in the 
chateaux ; by degrees as wealth strengthened and improved their condition, 
and rendered them independent, we find them trying to procure luxuries 
equal or analogous to those enjoyed by the upper classes, and which appeared to 
them the height of material happiness. In all times the small have imitated 
the great. It was in vain that the great obstinately threatened, by the exercise 
of their prerogatives, to try and crush tin's tendency to equality which alarmed 
them, by issuing pecuniary edicts, summary laws, coercive regulations, and 
penal ordinances; by the force of circumstances the arbitrary restrictions 
which the nobility laid upon the lower classes gradually disappeared, and 
the power of wealth displayed itself in spite of all their efforts to suppress it. 
In fact, occasions were not wanting in which the bourgeois class was able to 
refute the charge of unworthiness with which the nobles sought to stamp it. 
When taking a place in the council of the King, or employed in the 
administration of the provinces, many of its members distinguished them- 
selves by firmness and wisdom ; when called upon to assist in the national 
defence, they gave their blood and their gold with noble self-denial; and 
lastly, they did not fail to prove themselves possessed of those high and delicate 
sentiments of which the nobility alone claimed the hereditary possession. 


" The bourgeois," says Arnaud de Marveil, one of the most famous trouba- 
dours of the thirteenth century, " have divers sorts of merits : some dis- 
tinguish themselves by deeds of honour, others are by nature noble and 

Fig. 68.— Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, in ceremonial Attire, kneeling in Church, from a painted 
Window belonging to a Chapel in that Town (Fifteenth Century). 

behave accordingly. There arc others thoroughly brave, courteous, frank, 
and jovial, who, although poor, find means to please by graceful speech, 
frequenting courts, and making themselves agreeable there ; these, well 
versed in courtesy and politeness, appear in noble attire, and figure con- 


spicuously at the tournaments and military games, proving themselves 
good judges and good company." 

Down to the thirteenth century, however rich their fathers or husbands 
might be, the women of the bourgeoisie were not permitted, without 
incurring a tine, to use the ornaments and stuffs exclusively reserved for tbe 
nobilitv. During the reigns of Philip Augustas and Louis IX., although these 
arbitrary laws were not positively abolished, a heavy blew was inflicted on them 
by the marks of confidence, esteem, and honour which these monarchs found 
pleasure in bestowing on the bourgeoisie. We find the first of these kings, 
when on the point of starting for a crusade, chousing six from amongst the 
principal members of the parloir aux bourgeois (it was thus that the first Hotel 
de Yille, situated in the corner of the Place do la Greve, was named) to 
be attached to the Council of Regency, to whom be specially confided his 
will and the royal treasure. His grandson made a point of following his 
grandsire's example, and Louis IX. showed the same appreciation for the 
new element which the Parisian bourgeoisie was about to establish in political 
life by making tbe bourgeois Etienne Boileau one of his principal ministers 
of police, and the bourgeois Jean Sarrazin his chamberlain. 

Under tbese circumstances, the wbole bourgeoisie gloried in the marks of 
distinction conferred upon their representatives, and (luring tbe following 
reign, the ladies of this class, proud of their immense fortunes, but above 
all proud of the municipal powers held by their families, bedecked themselves 
regardless of expense, with costly furs and rich stuff's, notwithstanding that 
thev were forbidden by law to do so. 

Then came an outcry on the part of tbe nobles ; and we read as billows, in 
an edict of Philippe le Pel, wbo inclined less to the bourgeoisie than to the 
nobles, and who did net spare the former in matters of taxation: — "No 
bourgeois shall have a chariot nor wear gold, precious stones, or crowns of 
gold or silver. Bourgeois, not being either prelates nor dignitaries of state, 
shall not bave tapers of wax. A bourgeois possessing two thousand pounds 
(tournois) or more, may order for himself a dress of twelve sous six deniers, 
and for his wife one worth sixteen sous at the most,'' Tbe sou, which was 
but nominal money, may be reckoned as representing twenty francs, and the 
denier one franc, but allowance must be made for the enormous difference in 
the value of silver, which would make twenty francs in the thirteenth century 
represent upwards of two hundred francs of present currency. 



But these regulations as to the mode of living were so little or so 
carelessly observed, that all the successors of Philippe le Bel thought it 
necessary to re-enact them, and, indeed, Charles VII., one century later, was 
oblio-ed to censure the excess of luxury in dress by an edict which was, 
however, no better enforced than the rest. " It has been shown to the said 
lord" (the King Charles VII.), "that of all nations of the habitable globe 
there are none so changeable, outrageous, and excessive in their manner of 

Fig. 59. —The new-born Child, from a Miniature in the " Histoire de la Belle Helaine ' 
(Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, National Library of Paris). 

dress, as the French nation, and there is no possibility of discovering by 
their dress the state or calling of persons, be the}' princes, nobles, bour- 
geois, or working men, because all are allowed to dress as they think 
proper, whether in gold or silver, silk or wool, without any regard to their 

At the end of the thirteenth century, a rich merchant of Valenciennes 
went to the court of the King of France wearing a cloak of furs covered 


with gold and pearls ; seeing that no one offered him a cushion, he proudly 
sat on his cloak. On lea vino- ho did not attempt to take up the cloak ; and 
on a servant calling his attention to the fact he remarked, "It is not the 
custom in my country for people to cany away their cushions with them." 

Respecting a journey made by Philippe le Bel and his wife Jeanne de 
Navarre to the towns of Bruges and Ghent, the historian Jean Mayer 
relates that Jeanne, on seeing the costly array of the bourgeois of those 
two rich cities, exclaimed, " I thought I was the only queen here, but I see 
more than six hundred ! " 

In spite of the laws, the Parisian bourgeoisie soon rivalled the Flemish 
in the brilliancy of their dress. Thus, in the second halt of the fourteenth 
century, the famous Christine do Pisan relates that, having gone to visit 
the wife of a merchant during her confinement, it was not without some 
amazement that she saw the sumptuous furniture of the apartment in which 
this woman lay in bed (Fig. 011). The walls were hung with precious 
tapestry of Cyprus, on which the initials and motto of the lady were 
embroidered ; the sheets were of fine linen of Bheims, and had cost more 
than three hundred pounds ; the quilt was a now invention of silk and 
silver tissue ; the carpet was like gold. The lady wore an elegant dress of 
crimson silk, and rested her head and arms on pillows, ornamented with 
buttons of oriental pearls. It should be remarked that this lady was not the 
wife of a large merchant, such as those of Venice and Genoa, but of a simple 
retail dealer, who was not above selling articles for four sous ; such being the 
case, we need not be surprised that Christine should have considered the 
anecdote " worthy of being immortalised in a book." 

It must not, however, be assumed that the sole aim of the bourgeoisie 
was that of making a haughty and pompous display. This is refuted by 
the testimony of the " Menagier de Paris," a curious anonymous work, the 
author of which must have been an educated and enlightened bourgeois. 

The "Menagier," which was first published by the Baron Jerome Pichon, 
is a collection of counsels addressed by a husband to his young wife, as to her 
conduct in society, in the world, and in the management of her household. 
The first part is devoted to developing the mind of the young house- 
wife ; and the second relates to the arrangements necessary for the welfare 
of her house. It must be remembered that the comparatively trifling duties 
relating to the comforts of private life, which devolved on the wife, were not 



so numerous in those days as they are now ; but on the other hand they 
required an amount of practical knowledge on the part of the housewife which 
she can nowadays dispense with. Under this head the " Menagier " is full 
of information. 

After having spoken of the prayers which a Christian woman shoidd say 
morning and evening, the author discusses the great question of dress, 
which has ever been of supreme importance in the eyes of the female sex : 
"Know, dear sister," (the friendly name he gives his young wife), "that 
in the choice of your apparel you must always consider the rank of your 
parents and mine, as also the state of my fortune. Be respectably dressed, 

Fig. 60. — Sculptured Comb, in Ivory, of the Sixteenth Century (Sauvageot Collection). 

without devoting too much study to it, without too much plunging into new 
fashions. Before leaving your room, see that the collar of your gowa 
be well adjusted and is not put on crooked." 

Then he dilates on the characters of women, which are too often wilful 
and unmanagable ; on this point, for he is not less profuse in examples than 
the Chevalier de Latour-Landry, he relates an amusing anecdote, worthy of 
being repeated and remembered : — 

" I have heard the badiff of Tournay relate, that he had found himself 
several times at table with men long married, and that he had wagered with 
them the price of a dinner under the following conditions : the company 


was to visit the abode of each of the husbands successively, and any one who 
had a wife obedient enough immediately, without contradicting or making any 
remark, to consent to count up to four, would win the bet ; but, on the other 
hand, those whose wives showed temper, laughed, or refused to obey, would 
lose. Under these conditions the company gaily adjourned to the abode 
of Robin, whose wife, called Marie, had a high opinion of herself. The 
husband said before all, ' Marie, repeat after me what I shall say.' ' Willingly, 
sire.' 'Marie, say, 'One, two, three!' But by this time Marie was out of 
patience, and said, ' And seven, and twelve, and fourteen ! Why, you are 
making a fool of me ! ' So that husband lost his wager. 

" The company next went to the house of Maitre Jean, whose wife, 
Agnescat, well knew how to play the lady. Jean said, 'Repeat after me, 
one!' 'And two!' answered Agnescat disdainfully ; so he lost his wager. 
Tassin then tried and said to dame Tassin, ' Count one ! ' ' Go upstairs ! ' she 
answered, ' if you want to teach counting, I am not a child.' Another said, 
' Clo away with you; you must have lost your senses,' or similar words, 
which made the husbands lose their wagers. Those, on the contrary, who 
had well-behaved wives gained their wager and went away joyful." 

This amusing quotation suffices to show that the author of the " Menagier 
de Paris" wished to adopt a jocose style, with a view to enliven the serious- 
ness of the subject he was advocating. 

The part of his work in winch he discusses the administration of the 
house is not less worthy of attention. One of the most curious chapters 
of the work is that in which ho points out the manner in which the 
young bourgeoise is to behave towards persons in ho- service. Rich people 
in those days, in whatever station of life, were obliged to keep a numerous 
retinue of servants. It is curious to find that so far back as the period to 
which we allude, there was in Paris a. kind of servants' registry office, 
where situations were found for servant-maids from the country. The 
bourgeois gave up the entire management of the servants to his wife ; but, 
on account of her extreme youth, the author of the work in question 
recommends his wife only to engage servants who shall have been chosen 
by Dame Agnes, the nun whom he had placed with her as a kind ot 
governess or companion. 

"Before engaging them," he says, " know whence they come; in what 
houses they have been; if they have acquaintances in town, and if they are 




steady. Discover what they are capable of doing ; and ascertain that they 
are not greedy, or inclined to drink. If they como from another country, 
try to find out why they left it ; for, generally, it is not without some serious 
reason that a woman decides upon a change of abode. When you have 
engaged a maid, do not permit her to take the slightest liberty with you, 
nor allow her to speak disrespectfully to you. If, on the contrary, she be 
epiiet in her demeanour, honest, modest, and shows herself amenable to 
reproof, treat her as if she were your daughter. 

" Superintend the work to be done ; and choose among your servants 

Fig. 61._Dress of Maidservants in the Thirteenth Century.— Miniature in a Manuscript of the 

National Library of Paris. 

those qualified for each special department. If you order a thing to be clone 
immediately, do not be satisfied with the following answers: 'It shall be 
done presently, or to-morrow early ;' otherwise, be sure that you will have 
to repeat your orders." 

To these severe instructions upon the management of servants, the 
bourgeois adds a few words respecting their morality. He recommends 
that they be not permitted to use coarse or indecent language, or to insult 
one another (Fig. 61). Although he is of opinion that necessary time 
should be given to servants at their meals, he does not approve of their 
remaining drinking and talking too long at table: concerning which 



practice he quotes a proverb in use at that time : " Quand varlet presclie a 
table et cheval paist en gue, il est temps qu'on Ten oste: assez y a este ;" 
which means, that when a servant talks at table and a horse feeds near a 

Fig. 62.— Hotel deb Uxsins, Paris, built during the Fourteenth Century, restored in the Sixteenth, 
and now destroyed.— Stats of the North Front at the End of the last Century. 

watering-place it is time ho should be removed ; he has been there long 

The manner in which the author concludes his instruction proves his 
kindness of heart, as well as his benevolence : " If one of your servants fall 
sick, it is your duty, setting everything else aside, to see to his being cured." 

It was thus that a bourgeois of the fifteenth century expressed himself; 


and as it is clear that he could only have been inspired to dictate his 
theoretical teachings by the practical experience which he must have gained 
for the most part among the middle class to which he belonged, we must 
conclude that in those days the bourgeoisie possessed considerable knowledge 
of moral dignity and social propriety. 

It must be added that by the side of the merchant and working bour- 
geoisie — who, above all, owed their greatness to the high functions of the 
municipality — the parliamentary bourgeoisie had raised itself to power, and 
that from the fourteenth century it played a considerable part in the State, 
holding at several royal courts at different periods, and at last, almost 
hereditarily, the highest magisterial positions. The very character of these 
great offices of j^resident, or of parliamentary counsel, barristers, &c, proves 
that the holders must have had no small amount of intellectual culture. In 
this wa) T a refined taste was created among this class, which the protection 
of kings, princes, and lords had alone hitherto encouraged. We find, for 
example, the Grosliers at Lyons, the De Thous and Seguiers in Paris, 
regardless of their bourgeois origin, becoming judicious and zealous patrons 
of poets, scholars, and artists. 

A description of Paris, published in the middle of the fifteenth century, 
describes amongst the most splendid residences of the capital the hotels of 
Juvenal des Ursins (Fig. 02), of Bureau de Dampmartin, of Guillaume 
Seguin, of Mille Baillet, of Martin Double, and particularly that of Jacques 
JJuchie, situated in the Rue des Prouvaires, in which were collected at 
great cost collections of all kinds of arms, musical instruments, rare 
birds, tapestry, and works of art. In each church in Paris, and there 
were upwards of a hundred, the principal chapels were founded by cele- 
brated families of the ancient bourgeoisie, who had left money for one or 
more masses to be said daily for the repose of the souls of their deceased 
members. In the burial-grounds, and principally in that of the Innocents, 
the monuments of these families of Parisian bourgeoisie were of the most 
expensive character, and were inscribed with epitaphs in which the living 
vainly tried to immortalise the deeds of the deceased. Every one has heard 
of the celebrated tomb of Nicholas Flam el and Pernelle his wife (Fig. 63), 
the cross of Bureau, the epitaph of Yolande Bailly, who died in 1514, at 
the age of eighty-eight, and who " saw, or might have seen, two hundred 
and ninety-five children descended from her." 



In fact, the religious institutions of Paris afford much curious and 
interesting' information relative to the history of lite bourgeoisie. For 
instance, Jean Alais, who levied a tax. of one denier on each basket of fish 
brought to market, and thereby amassed an enormous fortune, left the whole 
of it at his death for the purpose of erecting a chapel called St. Agnes, which 
soon after became the church of St. Eustace. He farther directed that, by 
way of expiation, bis body should be thrown into the sewer which drained 


c (if ( -i^ vi « /p>) 

Fig. 63. — Nicholas Flarael and Peinelle, his Wife, from a Painting executed at the End of thi 
Fifteenth Century, under the Vaults of the Cemetery of the Innocents, in Paris. 

the offal from the market, and covered with a large stone ; this sewer up to 
the end of the last century was still called Pont Alais. 

Very often when citizens made gifts during their lifetime to churches 
or parishes, the donors reserved to themselves certain privileges which were 
calculated to cause the motives which had actuated them to be open to 
criticism. Thus, in 1304, the daughters of Nicholas Arrode, formerly 
provost of the merchants, presented to the church of St. Jaeques-la-Boiieherie 
the house and grounds which they inhabited, but one of them reserved the 



right of having a key of the church that she might go in whenever she 
pleased. Guillaume Haussecuel, in 140.3, bought a similar right for the 
sum of eighteen sols parisis per annum (equal to twenty-five francs) ; and 
Alain and his wife, whose house was close to two chapels of the church, under- 
took not to build so as in any way to shut out the light from one of the 
chapels on condition that they might open a small window into the chape], 
and so be enabled to hear the service without leaving their room. 

Fig-. 64.— Country Life.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut in a folio Edition of Virgil, published 

at Lyons in 1517. 

We thus see that the bourgeoisie, especially of Paris, gradually took 
a more prominent position in history, and became so grasping after power 
that it ventured, at a period which does not concern us here, to aspire to 
every sort of distinction, and to secure an important social standing. What 
had been the exception during the sixteenth century became the rule two 
centuries later. 

"V\ e will now take a glance at the agricultural population (Fig. 04), who, 



as we have already stated, were only emancipated from serfdom at the end of 
the eighteenth century. 

But whatever might have been formerly the civil condition of the rural 
population, everything leads us to suppose that there were no special changes 
in their private and domestic means of existence from a comparatively remote 
period down to almost the present time. 

A small poem of the thirteenth century, entitled, " De l'Oustillement 
au Yilain," gives a clear though rough sketch of the domestic state of the 
peasantry. Strange as it may seem, it must he acknowledged that, with a 
few exceptions resulting from the progress of time, it would not he difficult, 
even at the present day, to find the exact type maintained in the country 

Fig. 65.— Sedentary Occupations of the Peasants. — Fac-sinrile from an Engraving on Wood, 
attributed to Holbein, in the " Cosmographie " of Munster (Basle, 15.32, folio). 

districts farthest away from the capital and large towns ; at all events, they 
were faithfully represented at the time of the revolution of 1789. 

We gather from this poem, which must be considered an authentic and 
most interesting document, that the manse or dwelling of the villain com- 
prised three distinct buildings ; the first for the corn, the second for tlio hay 
and straw, the third for the man and his family. In this rustic abode a fire 
of vine brandies and faggots sparkled in a large chimney furnished with 
an iron pot-hanger, a tripod, a shovel, large tire-irons, a cauldron and a. 
meat-hook. Xext to the fireplace was an oven, and in close proximity to this 
an enormous bedstead, on which the villain, his wife, his children, and even 
the stranger who asked for hospitality, could all lie easily accommodated ; a 

9 6 


kneading trough, a table, a bench, a cheese cupboard, a jug, and a few 
baskets made up the rest of the furniture. The villain also possessed other 
utensils, such as a ladder, a mortar, a hand-mill — for every one then was 
obliged to grind bis own corn ; a mallet, some nails, some gimlets, fishing 
lines, hooks and baskets, &c. 

Fig. 66— Villains before going to Work receiving their Lord's Orders.— Miniature in the 
" I'roprietuire des Gnoses."— Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal, in 

Jtis working implements were a plough, a scythe, a spade, a hoe, large 
shears, a knife and a sharpening stone ; he had also a waggon, with harness 
for several horses, so as to be able to accomplish the different tasks required 
of him under feudal rights, either by his proper lord, or by the sovereign; 



for the villain was liable to be called upon to undertake every kind of work 
of this sort. 

His dress consisted of a blouse of cloth or skin fastened by a leather belt- 
round the waist, an overcoat or mantle of thick woollen stuff, which fell 
from his shoulders to half-way down his legs ; shoes or large boots, short 
woollen trousers, and from his belt there hung his wallet and a sheath for 
his knife (Figs. 66 and 71). He generally went bare-headed, but in cold 
weather or in rain he wore a sort of hat of similar stuff to his coat, or one of 
felt with a broad brim. lie seldom wore mouffles, or padded gloves, except 
when engaged in hedging. 

A small kitchen-garden, which he cultivated himself, was usually attached 
to the cottage, which was guarded by a large watch-dog. There was also a shed 
for the cows, whose milk contributed to the sustenance of the establishment; 
and on the thatched roof of this and his cottage the wild cats bunted the rats 
and mice. The family were never idle, even in the bad season, and the children 
were taught from infancy to work by the side of their parents (Fig. 65). 

If, then, we find so much resemblance between the abodes of the villains 
of the thirteenth century and those of the inhabitants of the poorest com- 
munes of France in the present day, we may fairly infer that there must be 
a great deal which is analogous between the inhabitants themselves of the 
two periods ; for in the chateaux as well as in the towns we find the material 
condition of the dwellings modifying itself conjointly with that of the moral 
condition of the inhabitants. 

Another little poem entitled, " On the Twenty-four Finds of Yillains," 
composed about the same period as the one above referred to, gives us a 
graphic description of the varieties of character among the feudal peasants. 
One example is given of a man who will not tell a traveller the way, but 
merely in a surly way answers, "You know it better than I" (Fig. 67b 
Another, sitting at his door on a Sunday, laughs at those passing by, and 
says to himself when he sees a gentleman going hawking with a bird on his 
wrist, " Ah ! that bird will eat a hen to-day, and our children could all feast 
upon it ! " Another is described as a sort of madman who equally despises 
Ood, the saints, the Church, and the nobility. His neighbour is an honest 
simpleton, who, stopping in admiration before the doorway of Notre Dame 
in Paris in order to admire the statues of Pepin, Charlemagne, and their 
successors, has his pocket picked of his purse. Another villain is supposed 




to make trade of pleading the cause of others before " Messire le Bailli;" he 
is very eloquent in trying to show that in the time of their ancestors the 
cows had a free right of pasture in such and such a meadow, or the sheep on 
such and such a ridge ; then there is the miser, and the speculator, who 

Fig. 67. — The egotistical and envious Villain. — From a Miniature in " Proverbes et Adages, &c," 
Manuscript of the La Valliere Fund, in the National Library of Paris, with this legend : 

"Attrapez y sont les plus fins : (" The cleverest burn their fingers at it, 

Qui trop embrasse mal estraint." And those who grasp all may lose all.") 

converts all his possessions into ready money, so as to purchase grain against 
a bad season ; but of course the harvest turns out to be excellent, and he 
does not make a farthing, but runs away to conceal his ruin and rage 
(Fig. 68). There is also the villain who leaves his plough to become a 



poacher. There are many other curious examples which altogether tend 
to prove that there has been but little change in the villager class since the 
first periods of history. 

Notwithstanding the miseries to which they were generally subject, the 
rural population had their days of rest and amusement, which were then 
much more numerous than at present. At that period the festivals of the 


<; ..,;: ; 

Fig. 68.— The covetous and avaricious Villain.— Prom a Miniature in " Proverbes et Adages, &c.,' ' 
Manuscript in the Kational Library of Paris, with this legend : 

" Je suis icy levant lea yeulx (" Even on this lofty height 
En ce haut lieu des attendens, We yet look higher, 

En convoitant pour avoir mieulx As nothing will satisfy us 

Prendre la lune avec les dens." But to clutch the moon.") 

Church were frequent and rigidly kept, and as each of them was the pretext 
for a forced holiday from manual labour, the peasants thought of nothing, 


after church, but of amusing themselves ; they drank, talked, sang, danced, 
and above all, laughed, for the laugh of our forefathers quite rivalled the 
Homeric laugh, and burst forth with a noisy joviality (Fig. 69). 

The "wakes," or evening parties, which are still the custom in most of the 
French provinces, and which are of very ancient origin, formed important events 
iu the private lives of the peasants. It was at these that the strange legends 
and vulgar superstitions, which so long fed the minds of the ignorant classes, 
were mostly created and propagated. It was there that those extraordinary 
and terrible fairy tales were related, as well as those of magicians, witches, 
spirits, &c. It was there that the matrons, whoso great age justified then- 
experience, insisted on proving, by absurd tales, that they knew all the 
marvellous secrets for causing happiness or for curing sickness. Consecpiently, 
in those days the most enlightened rustic never for a moment doubted the 
truth of witchcraft. 

In fact, one of the first efforts at printing was applied to reproducing 
the most ridiculous stories under the title of the " Evangile des Conuilles ou 
Quenouilles," and which had been previously circulated in manuscript, and 
had obtained implicit belief. The author of this remarkable collection asserts 
that the matrons in his neighbourhood had deputed him to put together 
in writing the sayings suitable for all conditions of rural life which were 
bebeved in by them and were announced at the wakes. The absurdities and 
childish follies which he has dared to register under their dictation are 
almost incredible. 

The "Evangile des Quenouilles," which was as much believed in as 
Holy Writ, tells us, amongst other secrets which it contains for the advantage 
of the reader, that a girl wishing to know the Christian name of her future 
husband, has but to stretch the first thread she spins in the morning across 
the doorway ; and that the first man who passes and touches the thread will 
necessarily have the same name as the man she is destined to marry. 

Another of the stories in this book was, that if a woman, on leaving off 
work on Saturday night, left her distaff loaded, she might be sure that the 
thread she would obtain from it during the following week would only pro- 
duce linen of bad quality, which could not be bleached ; this was considered 
to be proved by the fact that the Germans wore dark-brown coloured shirts, 
and it was known that the women never unloaded their distaffs from Saturday 
to Monday. 


Should a woman enter a cow-house to milk her cows without saying 
" God and St. Bridget bless you !" she was thought to run the risk of the 
cows kicking and breaking the milk-pail and spilling the milk. 

This silly nonsense, compiled like oracles, was printed as lato as 1493. 
Eighty years later a gentleman of Brittany, named Noel du Fail, Lord of 
Herissaye, councillor in the Parliament of Rennes, published, under the title 
of "Rustic and Amusing Discourses," a work intended to counteract the 
influence of the famous " Evan^-ile des Quenouilles." This new work was a 

Tig. 69. — Village — Fac-simile of u Woodcut of the " Sandrin on Void Galant," facetious 
Work of the End of the Sixteenth Century (edition of 1009). 

simple and true sketch of country habits, and proved the elegance and artless 
simplicity of the author, as well as his accuracy of observation. lie begins 
thus: " Occasionally, having to retire into the country more conveniently 
and uninterruptedly to finish some business, on a particular holiday, as I 
was walking I came to a neighbouring village, where the greater part of 
the old and young men were assembled, in groups of separate ages, for, 
according to the proverb, ' Each seeks his like.' The young wore practising 
the bow, jumping, wrestling, running races, and playing other games. The 
old were looking on, some sitting under an oak, with their legs crossed, and 


their hats lowered over their eyes, others leaning on their elbows criti- 
cizing every performance, and refreshing the memory of their own youth, 
and taking a lively interest in seeing the gambols of the young people." 

The author states that on questioning one of the peasants to ascertain who 
was the cleverest person present, the following dialogue took place : " The 
one you see leaning on his elbow, hitting bis boots, which have white strings, 
with a hazel stick, is called Anselme ; he is one of the rich ones of the 
village, he is a good workman, and not a bad writer for the flat country ; and 
the one you see by his side, with his thumb in his belt, hanging from which 
is a large game bag, containing spectacles and an old prayer book, is called 
Pasquicr, one of the greatest wits within a day's journey — nay, were I to say 
two I should not be lying. Anyhow, he is certainly the readiest of the whole 
company to open his purse to give drink to his companions." " And that 
one," I asked, " with the large Milanese cap on his head, who holds an old 
book?" "That one," he answered, "who is scratching the end of his nose 
with one hand and his beard with the other ?" " That one," I replied, 
"and who has turned towards us?" "Why," said he, "that is Roger 
Bontemps, a merry careless fellow, who up to the age of fifty kept the parish 
school ; but changing his first trade he has become a wine-grower. How- 
ever, he cannot resist the feast days, when he brings us his old books, and 
reads to us as long as we choose, such works as the ' Calendrier des Bergers,' 
' Fables d'Esope,' ' Le Roman de la Rose,' ' Matheolus,' ' Alain Chartier,' 
' Les Yigiles du feu Roy Charles,' 'Les deux Grebans,' and others. Neither, 
with his old habit of warbbng, can he help singing on Sundays in the choir ; 
and he is called Huguet. The other sitting near him, looking over his 
shoulder into his book, and wearing a sealskin belt with a yellow buckle, is 
another rich peasant of the village, not a bad villain, named Lubin, who 
also lives at home, and is called the little old man of the neighbourhood." 

After this artistic sketch, the author dilates on the goodman Anselme. 
He says : " This good man possessed a moderate amount of knowledge, was 
a goodish grammarian, a musician, somewhat of a sophist, and rather given 
to picking holes in others." Some of Anselme's conversation is also given, 
and after beginning by describing in glowing terms the bygone days which he 
and his contemporaries had seen, and which he stated to be very different to 
the present, he goes on to say, " I must own, my good old friends, that I 
look back with pleasure on our young days ; at all events the mode of doing 


I0 3 

things in those days was very superior and better in every way to that of the 

present happy days ! fortunate times when our fathers and 

grandfathers, whom may God absolve, were still among us ! " As he said 
this, he woidd raise the rim of his hat. He contented himself as to dress 




til mfF^K^^^ 

Fig. 70.— The Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the Messiah by Songs and Dances.— Fifteenth 
Century.— Facsimile of an Engraving on Wood, from a Book of Hours, printed by Anthony 

with a good coat of thick wool, well lined according to the fashion ; and 
for feast days and other important occasions, one of thick cloth, lined with 
some old gabardine. 

" So we see," says M. Le Houx de Lincy, » at the end of the fifteenth 
century that the old peasants complained of the changes in the village 
customs, and of the luxury which every one wished to display in his furniture 



or apparel. Od this point it seems that there has been little or no change. 
We read that, from the time of Homer down to that of the excellent author 
of ' Rustic Discourses,' and even later, the old people found fault with the 
manners of the present generation and extolled those of their forefathers 
which they themselves had criticized in their own youth." 

Fig. 71.— Pu 

rse or Leather Bag, with Knife or Dagger of the Fifteenth Century. 


History of Bread.— Vegetables and Plants used in Cooking.— Fruits.— Butchers' Meat.— Poultry, 
Game— Milk, Putter, Che. so and Eggs.— Fish and Shellfish.— Beverages, Beer, Cider, Wine 
Sweet "Wine, E, flushing Prinks, Brandy.— Cookery.— Soups, Boiled Food, Ties, Stews, Salads, 

Roasts, Grills.— Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar, Verjuie.e. — Sweets, Desserts, Pastry. Meals and 

Feasts.— Pules of Serving at Table from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries. 

H&^ftiaat-AA^^vJe^frBoaay 1 88 


TIE private life of a people," says 
Legrand d'Aussy, who had studied 
that of the French from a gastronomic 
point of view only, " from the founda- 
tion of monarchy down to the 
eighteenth century, must, like that 
of mankind generally, commence with 
obtaining the first and most pressing 
i (fits requirements. Not satisfied with 
providing food for his support, man 
has endeavoured to add to his food 
something which pleased his taste. lie does not wait to be hungry, but he 
anticipates that feeling, and aggravates it by condiments and seasonings. 
In a word his greediness has created on this score a very complicated and 
wide-spread science, which, amongst nations which are considered civilised, 
has become most important, and is designated the culinary art." 

At all times the people of every country have strained the nature of the 
soil on which they lived by forcing it to produce that which it seemed 
destined ever to refuse them. Such food as human industry was unable to 
obtain from any particular soil or from any particular climate, commerce 
undertook to bring from the country which produced it. This caused Rabelais 
to say that the stomach was the father and master of industry. 

We will rapidly glance over the alimentary matters which our fore- 
fathers obtained from the animal and vegetable kingdom, and then trace 




the progress of culinary art, and examine the rules of leasts and such matters 
as belong to the epicurean customs of the Middle Ages. 


Bread.— The Gauls, who principally inhabited deep and thick forests, 
fed on herbs and fruits, and particularly on acorns. It is even possible that 
the veneration in which they held the oak had no other origin. This primi- 
tive food continued in use, at least in times of famine, up to the eighth 
century, and we find in the regulations of St. Chrodegand that if, in con- 
sequence of a bad year, the acorn or beech-nut became scarce, it was the 
bishop's duty to provide something to make up for it. Eight centuries later, 

Fi£;s. 72 and 73. — Corn-threshing and Bread-making. — Miniatures from the Calendar of a Book 
of Hours. — Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century. 

when Rene du Bellay, Bishop of Mans, came to report to Francis I. the fearful 
poverty of his diocese, he informed the king that the inhabitants in many 
places were reduced to subsisting on acorn bread. 

In the earliest times bread was cooked under the embers. The use of 
ovens was introduced into Europe by the Romans, who had found them m 
Egypt, But, notwithstanding this importation, the old sj^stem of cooking 
was long after employed, for in the tenth century Raimbold, abbot of the 
monastery of St. Thierry, near Rhcirns, ordered in his will that on the day 
of his death bread cooked under the embers — panes subcinericios — should be 
given to his monks. By feudal law the lord was bound to bake the bread 
of his vassals, for which they were taxed, but the latter often preferred to 


i o 7 

cook their flour at home in the embers of their own hearths, rather than 
to carry it to the public oven. 

It must be stated that the custom of leavening the dou<4'h by the addition of 
a ferment was not universally adopted amongst the ancients. For this reason, 
as the dough without leaven could only produce a heavy and indigestible bread, 
they were careful, in order to secure their loaves being thoroughly cooked, 
to make them very thin. These loaves served as plates for cutting up the 
other food upon, and when they thus became saturated with the sauce and 

Fig. 74.— The Miller.— From an Engraving of the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

gravy thev were eaten as cakes. The use of the tourteaux (small crusty 
loaves), which were at first called tranchoirs and subsequently tail-loirs, 
remained long in fashion even at the most splendid banquets. Thus, in 
1336, the Dauphin of Vienna, Humbert II., had, besides the small white 
bread, four small loaves to serve as tranchoirs at table. The " Menagier de 
Paris " mentions " des pains de tranchouers half a foot in diameter, and four 
fingers deep," and Froissart the historian also speaks of tailloirs. 

It would be difficult to point out the exact period at which leavening 
bread was adopted in Europe, but we can assert that in the Middle Ages it 



was anything but general. Yeast, which, according to Pliny, was already 
known to the Gauls, was reserved for pastry, and it was only at the end of 
the sixteenth century that the bakers of Paris used it for bread. 

At first the trades of miller and baker were carried on by the same person 
(Figs. 74 and 75). The man who undertook the grinding of the grain had 
ovens near his mill, which he let to his lord to bake bread, when he did not 
confine his business to persons who sent him their corn to grind. 

At a later period public bakers established themselves, who not only 
baked the loaves which were brought to them already kneaded, but al 



Fig. 75. — The Baker. — From an Engraving of the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

made bread which they sold by weight ; and this system was in existence 
until very recently in the provinces. 

Charlemagne, in his " Capitulaircs " (statutes), fixed the number of 
bakers in each city according to the population, and St. Louis relieved 
them, as well as the millers, from taking their turn at the watch, so that 
they might have no pretext for stopping or neglecting their work, which he 
considered of public utility. Nevertheless bakers as a body never became 
rich or powerful (Figs. 7G and 77). It is pretty generally believed that the 



name of boulangcr (baker) originated from the fact that the shape of the loaves 
made at one time was very like that of a. round hall. But loaves varied so 
much in form, quality, and consequently in name, that in his " Dictionary of 
Obscure "Words " the learned Du Cange specifies at least twenty sorts made 
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and amongst them may be 
mentioned the court loaf, the pope's loaf, the knight's loaf, the squire's loaf, 
the peer's loaf, the varlet's loaf, &c. 

The most celebrated bread was the white bread of Chailly or Chilly, a 
village four leagues (ten miles) south of Paris, which necessarily appeared at 
all the tables of the elite of the fourteenth century. The pain mottet, or soft 
bread made with milk and butter, although much in use before this, only 

Fig. 76. — Banner oi the Corporation 
of Eaters of Paris. 

Fig. 77. — Banner of the Corporation 
of Bakers of Arras. 

became fashionable on the arrival of Marie de Medicis in France (1600), 
on account of this Tuscan princess finding it so much to her taste that she 
would eat no other. 

The ordinary market bread of Paris comprised the rousset bread, made of 
nieslin, and- employed for soup; the bourgeoisie bread; and the chaland 
or customer 's bread, which last was a general name given to all descrip- 
tions which were sent daily from the neighbouring villages to the capital. 
Amongst the best known varieties we will only mention the Corbcil bread, 
the dog bread, the bread of tiro colours, which hist was composed of alter- 
nate layers of wheat and rye, and was used by persons of small means ; 
there was also the Oonesse bread, which has maintained its reputation to 
this day. 


The " table loaves," which in the provinces were served at the tables of 
the rich, were of such a convenient size that one of them would suffice for 
a man of ordinary appetite, even after the crust was cut off, which it was 
considered polite to offer to the ladies, who soaked it in their soup. For 
the servants an inferior bread was baked, called "common bread." 

In many counties they sprinkled the bread, before putting it into the 
oven, with powdered linseed, a custom which still exists. They usually 
added salt to the flour, excepting in certain localities, especially in Paris, 
where, on account of its price, they only mixed it with the expensive 

The wheats which were long most esteemed for baking purposes, were 
those of Brie, Champagne, and Bassigny ; while those of the Dauphine were 
held of little value, because they were said to contain so many tares and 
worthless grains, that the bread made from them produced headache and 
other ailments. 

An ancient chronicle of the time of Charlemagne makes mention of a 
bread twice baked, or biscuit. This bread was very hard, and easier to keep 
than any other description. It was also used, as now, for provisioning ships, 
or towns threatened with a siege, as well as in religious houses. At a later 
period, delicate biscuits were made of a sort of dry and crumbling pastry 
which retained the original name. As early as the sixteenth century, 
llheims had earned a great renown for these articles of food. 

Bread made with barley, oats, or millet was always ranked as coarse 
food, to which the poor only had recourse in years of want (Fig. 78). 
Barley bread was, besides, used as a kind of punishment, and monks who 
had committed any serious offence against discipline were condemned to live 
on it for a certain period. 

Bye bread was held of very little value, although in certain provinces, 
such as Lyonnais, Forez, and Auvergne, it was very generally used among 
the country people, and contributed, says Bruyerin Champier in his treatise 
"Be re Cibaria," to "preserve beauty and freshness amongst women." At 
a later period, the doctors of Paris frequently ordered the use of bread made 
half of wheat and half of rye as a means " of preserving the health." Black 
wheat, or buck wheat, which was introduced into Europe by the Moors and 
Saracens when they conquered Spain, quickly spread to the northern pro- 
vinces, especially to Flanders, where, by its easy culture and almost certain 


yield, it averted much suffering from the inhabitants, who were continually 
being threatened with famine. 

It was only later that maize, or Turkey wheat, was cultivated in the 
south, and that rice came into use ; but these two kinds of grain, both 
equally useless for bread, were employed the one for fattening poultry, and 
the other for making cakes, which, however, were little appreciated. 

Fig. 7S. — Cultivation of Gram in use amongst the Peasants, and the Manufacture of Barley and 
Oat Bread. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in an edition of Virgil published at Lyons in 1517. 

Vegetables and Plants lsed in Cookixg. — From the most ancient 
historical documents we find that at the very earliest period of the French 
monarchy, fresh and dried vegetables were the ordinary food of tbc popula- 
tion. Pliny and Columella attribute a Gallic origin to certain roots, and 
among them onions and parsnips, which the Romans cultivated in their 
gardens for use at their tallies. 

It is evident, however, that vegetal ilea were never considered as being 
capable of forming solid nutriment, since they were almost exclusively used 
by monastic communities when under vows of extreme abstinence. 


A statute of Charlemagne, in which the useful plants which the emperor 
desired should be cultivated in his domains are detailed, shows us that at that 
period the greater part of our cooking vegetables were in use, for we find 
mentioned in it, fennel, garlic, parsley, shallot, onions, water-cress, endive, 
lettuce, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, carrots, artichokes; besides long-beans, 
broad-beans, peas or Italian vetches, and lentils. 

In the thirteenth century, the plants fit for cooking went under the 
general appellation of aigrun, and amongst them, at a later date, were ranked 
oranges, lemons, and other acid fruits. St. Louis added to this category even 
fruits with hard rinds, such as walnuts, filberts, and chestnuts ; and when the 
guild of the fruiterers of Paris received its statutes in 1G0S, they were still 
called "vendors of fruits and aigrun." 

The vegetables and cooking-plants noticed in the " Menagier de Paris," 
which dates from the fourteenth century, and in the treatise " De Obsonhs," 
of Platina (the name adopted by the Italian Bartholomew Sacchi), which dates 
from the fifteenth century, do not lead us to suppose that alimentary horti- 
culture had made much progress since the time of Charlemagne. Moreover, 
we are astonished to find the thistle placed amongst choice dishes ; though 
it cannot be the common thistle that is meant, but probably this somewhat 
general appellation refers to the vegetable-marrow, which is still found on 
the tables of the higher classes, or perhaps the artichoke, which we know 
to be only a kind of thistle developed by cultivation, and which at that period 
had been recently imported. 

About the same date melons begin to appear ; but the management of 
this vegetable fruit was not much known. It was so imperfectly cultivated 
in the northern provinces, that, in the middle of the sixteenth century, 
Bruyerin Champier speaks of the Languedocians as alone knowing how to 
produce excellent sucrins — "thus called," say both Charles Estienne and 
Liebault in the " liaison Pustique," "because gardeners watered them with 
honeyed or sweetened water." The water-melons have never been cultivated 
but in the south. 

Cabbages, the alimentary reputation of which dates from the remotest 
times, were already of several kinds, most of which have descended to us ; 
amongst them may be mentioned the apple-headed, the Poman, the white, 
the common white head, the Easter cabbage, &c. ; but the one held in the 
highest estimation was the famous cabbage of Senlis, whose leaves, says an 



ancient author, when opened, exhaled a smell more agreeable than musk or 
amber. This species no doubt fell into disuse when the plan of employing 
aromatic herbs in cooking, which was so much in repute by our ancestors, 
was abandoned. 

By a strange coincidence, at the same period as marjoram, carraway seed, 
sweet basil, coriander, lavender, and rosemary were used to add their 

Fig. 79. — Coat-of-arms of the Grain-measurers of Ghent, on their Ceremonial Banner, dated 1568. 

pungent flavour to sauces and hashes, on the same tables might be found 
herbs of the coldest and most insipid kinds, such as mallows, some kinds of 
mosses, &c. 

Cucumber, though rather in request, was supposed to be an unwholesome 
vegetable, because it was said that the inhabitants of Forez, who ate much 
of it, were subject to periodical fevers, which might really have been caused 



by noxious emanations from the ponds with which that country abounded. 
Lentils, now considered so wholesome, were also long looked upon as a 
doubtful vegetable ; according to Licbault, they were difficult to digest and 
otherwise injurious ; they inflamed the inside, affected the sight, and brought 
on the nightmare, &c. On the other hand, small fresh beans, especially those 
sold at Landit fair, were used in the most delicate repasts ; peas passed as a 
royal dish in the sixteenth century, when the custom was to eat them with 
salt pork. 

Turnips were also most esteemed by the Parisians. " This vegetable is 
to them," says Charles Estienne, " what large radishes are to the Limousins." 
The best were supposed to come from Maisons, Vaugirard, and Aubervilliers. 
Lastly, there were four kinds of lettuces grown in France, according to 
Licbault, in 1074: the small, the common, the curled, and the Roman; the 
seed of the last-named was sent to France by Francois Rabelais when he 
was in Rome with Cardinal du Bellay in 1037 ; and the salad made from it 
consequently received the name of Roman salad, which it has ever since 
retained. In fact, our ancestors much appreciated salads, for there was not 
a banquet without at least three or four different kinds. 

Fruits. — Western Europe was originally very poor in fruits, and it only 
improved by foreign importations, mostly from Asia by the Romans. The 
apricot came from Armenia, the pistachio-nuts and plums from Syria, the peach 
and nut from Persia, the cherry from Cerasus, the lemon from Media, the 
filbert from the Hellespont, and chestnuts from Castana, a town of Magnesia. 
"We are also indebted to Asia for almonds ; the pomegranate, according to 
some, came from Africa, to others from Cyprus ; the quince from Cydon in 
Crete; the olive, fig, pear, and apple, from Greece. 

The statutes of Charlemagne show us that almost all these fruits were 
reared in his gardens, and that some of them were of several lands or 

A considerable period, however, elapsed before the finest and more luscious 
productions of the garden became as it were almost forced on nature by 
artificial means. Thus in the sixteenth century we find Rabelais, Charles 
Estienne, and La Framboisiere, physician to Henry IV., praising the Corbeil 
peach, which was only an inferior and almost wild sort, and describing it as 
having "dry and solid flesh, not adhering to the stone." The culture of this 
fruit, which was not larger than a damask plum, had then, according to 



Champier, only just boon introduced into Franco. If must be remarked here 
that Jacques Coythier, physician to Louis XL, in order to curry favour with 
his master, who was very fond of now fruits, took as bis crest an apricot-tree, 
from which he was jokingly called Abri-Coythier. 

Fig. 80.— Cultivation of Fruit, from a Miniature of the " Proprietairc de Chosos " (Manuscript of 
the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the' Arsenal of Fails). 

It must be owned that great progress has been made in the culture of 
the plum, the pear, and the apple. Champier says that the best plums are 
the royale, the pcrdrirjon, and the damas of Tours ; Olivier de Serres mentions 


eighteen kinds — amongst which, however, we do not find the celebrated Reine 
Claude (greengage), which owes its name to the daughter of Louis XII., first 
•wife of Francis I. 

Of pears, the most esteemed in the thirteenth century were the Jiastiveau, 
which was an early sort, and no doubt the golden pear now called St. Jean ; 
the caillou or chaillou, a hard pear, which came from Gailloux in Burgundy ; 
and I'angoisse (agony), so called on account of its bitterness — which, however, 
totally disappeared in cooking. In the sixteenth century the palni is given 
to the cuisse dame, or madame ; the bon chritien, brought, it is said, by 
St. Francois de Paule to Louis XL ; the bergamote, which came from 
Bergamo, in Lombardy ; the taut-bonne, so named from its aroma; and 
the caillou remit, our rosewater pear. 

Amongst apples, the blandureau (hard white) of Auvergne, the rouveau, 
and the paradk of Provence, are of oldest repute. This reminds us of the 
couplet by the author of the "Street Cries of Paris," thirteenth century: — 

" Primes ai pommes dp rouviau, (" C4ive me first the russet apple, 

Et d' Auvergne le Llano durian." And the hard white fruit of Auvergne.") 

The quince, which was so generally cultivated in the Middle Ages, was 
looked upon as the most useful of all fruits. Not only did it form the basis 
of the farmers' dried preserves of Orleans, called cotignac, a sort of marmalade, 
but it was also used for seasoning meat. The Portugal quince was the 
most esteemed ; and the cotignac of Orleans had such a reputation, that 
boxes of this fruit were always given to kings, queens, and princes on 
entering the towns of France. It was the first offering made to Joan of Arc 
on her bringing reinforcements into Orleans during the English siege. 

Several sorts of cherries were known, but these did not prevent 
the small wild or wood cherry from being appreciated at the tables of the 
citizens ; whilst the eornouille, or wild cornelian cherry, was hardly touched, 
excepting by the peasants ; thence came the proverbial expression, more 
particularly in use at Orleans, when a person made a silly remark, "He has 
eaten cornelians," i.e. he speaks like a rustic. 

In the thirteenth century, chestnuts from Lombardy were hawked in 
the streets ; but in the sixteenth century, the chestnuts of the Lyonnais and 
Auvergne were substituted, and were to be found on the royal table. Four 
different sorts of figs, in equal estimation, were brought from Marseilles, 


"7, Saint-Andeol, ami Pent Saint-Esprit ; and in Provence, filberts- 
were to bo bad in snob profusion that tbey supplied from there all tbe tables, 
of tbe kingdom. 

Tbe Portuguese claim tbe honour of having introduced oranges from 
China; however, in an account of the bouse of Humbert, Dauphin of 
Yiennois, in 1333, that is, long before tbe expeditions of tbe Portuguese to 
India, mention is made of a sum of money being paid for transplanting 

In tbe time of Bruyerin Champier, physician to Henry II., raspberries 
were still completely wild ; the same author states that wood-strawberries 

Figs. 81 and 82.— Culture of the Vine and Treading the Grape.— Miniatures taken from the 
Calendar of a Prayer-Book, in Manuscript, of the Sixteenth Century. 

bad only just at that time been introduced into gardens, "by which," he 
says, " they had attained a larger size, though they at the same time lost 
tbeir quality." 

The vine, acclimatised and propagated by the Gauls, ever since the fol- 
lowers of Brenmis bad brought it from Italy, five hundred years before tbe 
Christian era, never ceased to be productive, and even to constitute the natural 
wealth of the country (Fig. 81 and 82). In the sixteenth century, Liebault 
enumerated nineteen sorts of grapes, and Olivier de Serres twenty-four, 
amongst wbieh, notwithstanding the eccentricities of the ancient names, we 
believe that we can trace tbe greater part of those plants which are now 
cultivated in France. For instance, it is known that the excellent vines of 
Tbomery, near Fontainebleau, which yield in abundance tbe most beautiful 


table grape which art and care can produce, were already in use in the reign 
of Henry IV. (Fig. S3). 

In the time of the Gauls the custom of drying grapes by exposing them 
to the sun, or to a certain amount of artificial heat, was already known; and 
very .soon after, the same means were adopted for preserving plums, an 
industry in which then, as now, the people of Tours and Eheims excelled. 
] hying apples in an oven was also the custom, and formed a delicacy which 
was reserved for winter and spring banquets. Dried fruits were also 

V\± S3.— The Winegrower, drawn and engraved in the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

brought from abroad, as mentioned in the " Booh of Street Cries in 
Paris :"— 

' Figues de Jlelites sans tin, 
J'ai roiain d'outre nier, roisin.' 

(" Figs from Malta without end, 
And grapes from over the sea.") 

Butchers' Meat.— According to Strabo, the Gauls were great eaters of 
meat, especially of pork, whether fresh or salted. "Gaul," says he, " feeds 
so many flocks, and, above all, so many pigs, that it supplies not only 
Rome, but all Italy, with grease and salt meat." The second chapter of 
the Salic law, comprising nineteen articles, relates entirely to penalties for 


1 19 

pig-stealing; and in the laws of the Visigoths we find lour articles on the 
same subject. 

In those remote days, in which the land was still covered with enormous 
forests of oak, great facilities were offered for breeding pigs, whose special liking 
for acorns is well known (Fig. 84). Thus the bishops, princes, and lords caused 
numerous droves of pigs to be fed on their domains, both for the purpose of 
supplying their own tables as well as for the fairs and markets. At a sub- 
sequent period, it became the custom for each household, whether in town or 
country, to rear and fatten a pig, which was killed and salted at a stated 
period of the year ; and this custom still exists in many provinces. In Paris, 
for instance, there was scarcely a bourgeois who had not two or three young 

Fiir. 84. — Swineherd. 

Fig. 85.— A liiu'L 

at Meals. 

Miniatures from the Calendar of a Book of Hours. — Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century. 

pigs. During the day these unsightly creatures were allowed to roam in 
the streets ; which, however, they helped to keep clean by eating up the 
refuse of all sorts which was thrown out of the houses. One of the sons of 
Louis le Gros, while passing, on the 2nd of October, 1131, in the Hue du 
Martroi, between the Hotel do Ville and the church of St. Gervais, fractured 
his skull by a fall from his horse, caused by a pig running between that 
animal's legs. This accident led to the first order being issued by the 
provosts, to the effect that breeding pigs within the town was forbidden. 
Custom, however, deep-rooted for centuries, resisted this order, and many- 
others on the same subject which followed it : for we find, under Francis I., 
a license was issued to the executioner, empowering him to capture all the 


stray pigs which ho could find in Paris, and to take them to the Hotel Dieu, 
when he should receive either live sous in silver or the head of the animal. 

It is said that the holy men of St. Antoine, in virtue of the privilege 
attached to the popular legend of their patron, who was generally repre- 
sented with a pig, objected to this order, and long after maintained the 
exclusive right of allowing their pigs to roam in the streets of the capital. 

The obstinate determination with which ever}' one tried to evade the 
administrative laws on this subject, is explained, in fact, by the general taste 
of the French nation for pork. This taste appeal's somewhat strange at a 

Fig. 86.— Stall of Carved Wood (fifteenth Century), representing the Proverb, "Margaritas ante 
Porcos," "Throwing Pearls before Swine," from Rouen Cathedral. 

time when this kind of food was supposed to engender leprosy, a disease with 
which France was at that time overrun. 

Pigs' meat made up generally the greater part of the domestic banquets. 
There was no great feast at which hams, sausages, and black puddings were 
not served in profusion on all the tables ; and as Easter Day, which brought 
to a close the prolonged fastings of Lent, was one of the great feasts, this 
food formed the most important dish on that occasion. It is possible that the 
necessity for providing for the consumption of that day originated the cele- 
brated ham fair, which was and is still held annually on the Thursday of 
Passion ^Veek in front of Xotre-Dame, where the dealers from all parts of 


France, and especially from Normandy and Lower Brittany, assembled with 
their swine. 

Sanitary measures were taken in Paris and in the various towns in order 
to prevent the evil effects likely to arise from the enormous consumption of 
pork; public officers, called languaycurs, were ordered to examine the animals 
to ensure that they had not white ulcers under the tongue, these being con- 
sidered the signs that their flesh was in a condition to communicate leprosy 
to those who partook of it. 

For a long time the retail sale of pork was confined to the butchers, like 
that of other meat. Salt or fresh pork was at one time always sold raw, 
though at a later period some retailors, who carried on business principally 
among the lowest orders of the people, took to selling cooked pork and sausages. 
They were named ckarcuitiers or saucissicrs. This new trade, which was most- 
lucrative, was adopted by so many people that parliament was forced to limit 
the number of ckarcuitiers, who at last formed a corporation, and received their 
statutes, which were confirmed by the King in 1475. 

Amongst the privileges attached to their calling was that of selling red 
herrings and sea-fish in Lent, during which time the sale of pork was strictly 
forbidden. Although they had the exclusive monopoly of selling cooked 
pork, they were at first forbidden to buy their meat of any one hut of the 
butchers, who alone had the right of killing pigs ; and it was only in 1513 
that the ckarcuitiers were allowed to purchase at market and sell the meat 
raw, in opposition to the butchers, who in consequence gradually gave up 
killing and selling pork (Fig. ST). 

Although the consumption of butchers' meat was not so great in the 
Middle Ages as it is now, the trade of a butcher, to which extraordinary 
privileges were attached, was nevertheless one of the industries which 
realised the greatest profits. 

We know what an important part the butchers played in the municipal 
history of France, as also of Belgium; and we also know how great their 
political influence was, especially in the fifteenth century. 

The existence of the great slaughter-house of Paris dates back to the 
most remote period of monarchy. The parish church of the corporation of 
butchers, namely, that of St. Pierre aux Bocufs in the city, on the front 
of which were two sculptured oxen, existed before the tenth century. A 
Celtic monument was discovered on the site of the ancient part of Paris, 



with a bas-relief representing a wild bull carrying three cranes standing 
lmon(r oa k branches. Archaeology lias chosen to recognise in this sculpture 
a Druidical allegory, which has descended to us in the shape of the triumphal 
car of the Prize Ox (Fio\ 88). The butchers who, for centuries at least in 
France, only killed sheep and pigs, proved themselves most jealous of their 
privileges, and admitted no strangers into their corporation. The proprietor- 
ship of stalls at the markets, and the right of being admitted as a master 
butcher at the age of seven years and a day, belonged exclusively to the 
male descendants of a few rich and powerful families. The Kings of France 

Fig. 87.— The Pork-butcher (Cliamificr).— Facsimile of a Miniature in a Charter of the Abbey 

of Solignac (Fourteenth Century). 

alone, on their accession, could create a new master butcher. Since the 
middle of the fourteenth century the " Grande Boucherie " was the seat of an 
important jurisdiction, composed of a mayor, a master, a proctor, and an 
attorney ; it also had a judicial council before which the butchers could bring 
up all their cases, and an appeal from which could only be considered by 
Parliament. Besides this court, which had to decide cases of misbehaviour 
on the part of the apprentices, and all their appeals against their masters, the 
corporation had a counsel in Parliament, as also one at the Chatelet, who were 
specially attached to the interests of the butchers, and were in their pay. 



Although liound, at all events with their money, to follow the calling' of 
their fathers, we find many descendants of ancient butchers' families of Paris, 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, abandoning- their stalls to fill high 
places in the state, and even at court. It must not he concluded that the rich 
butchers in those days occupied themselves with the minor details of their 
trade ; the greater number employed servants who cut up and retailed the meat, 
and they themselves simply kept the accounts, and were engaged in dealing 

Fig. 88.— Tie Holy Ox.— Celtic Monument found in Paris under the Choir of Notrc-Dame 
in 1711, and preserved in the Musee de Cluny et dea Thermes. 

through factors or foremen for the purchase of beasts for their stalls (Fig. 89). 
One can form an opinion of the wealth of some of these tradesmen by reading 
the enumeration made by an old chronicler of the property and income of 
Guillaume de Saint-Yon, one of the principal master butchers in 1370. "He 
was proprietor of three stalls, in which meat was weekly sold to the amount 
of 200 livres parisis (the livre being equivalent to 24 francs at least), witli an 
average profit of ten to fifteen per cent. ; he had an income of 000 livres parisis; 



he possessed besides his family house in Paris, four country-houses, well supplied 
with furniture and agricultural implements, drinking-cups, vases, cups of silver, 
and cups of onyx with silver feet, valued at 100 francs or more each. His wife 
had jewels, belts, purses, and trinkets, to the value of upwards of 1,000 gold 
francs (the gold franc was worth 'id livresj ; long and short gowns trimmed with 
fur ; and three mantles of grey fur. Guillauine de Saint- Yon had generallv 
in his storehouses 300 ox-hides, worth 2d francs each at least ; 800 measures 
of fat, worth ol sols each; in his sheds, he had 800 sheep worth 100 sols 
each ; in his safes ;j00 or 600 silver florins of ready money (the florin was 

Fig-. 89. — The Butcher and his Servant, drawn and engraved by J. Amman (Sixteenth Century). 

worth 12 francs, which must be multiplied five times to estimate its value in 
present currency), and his household furniture was valued at 12,000 florins. 
He gave a dowry of 2,000 florins to his two nieces, and spent 3,000 florins 
m rebuilding his Paris house ; and lastly, as if he had been a noble, he used 
a silver seal." 

We find in the " Menagier do Paris " curious statistics respecting the 
various butchers' shops of the capital, and the daily sale in each at the period 
referred to. This sale, without counting the households of the King, the 
=lueen, and the royal family, which were specially provisioned, amounted to 



26,624 oxen, 162,760 sheep, 27,406 pigs, and 15,912 calves per annum; to 
which must be added not only the smoked and salted flesh of 200 or 300 pigs, 
which were sold at the fair in Holy Week, but also 6,420 sheep, 823 oxen, 
832 calves, and 624 pigs, which, according to the " Menagier," were used in 
the royal and princely households. 

Sometimes the meat was sent to market already cut up, but the slaughter 
of beasts was more frequently done in the butchers' simps in the town; for 
they only killed from day to day, according to the demand. Besides the 
butchers' there were tripe shops, where the feet, kidneys, &c, were sold. 

According to Bruyerin Champier, during the sixteenth century the most 
celebrated sheep in France were those of Berri and Limousin ; and of all 

Figs. 90 and 91. — Seal ami Counter-Seal of the Hatchers of Bruges in 1356, from an impression 
on green wax, preserved in the archives of that town. 

butchers' meat, veal was reckoned the best. In fact, calves intended for the 
tables of the upper classes were fed in a special manner : they were allowed 
for six months, or even for a year, nothing but milk, whirh made their flesh 
most tender and delicate. Contrary to the present taste, kid was more 
appreciated than lamb, which caused the rotmeurs frequently to attach the 
tail of a kid to a lamb, so as to deceive the customer and sell him a less 
expensive meat at the higher price. This was the origin of the proverb 
which described a cheat as " a dealer in goat by halves." 

In other places butchers were far from acquiring the same importance 
which they did in France and Belgium (Figs. 00 and 91), where much more 
meat was consumed than in Spain, Italy, or even in Germany. Nevertheless, 


in almost all countries there were certain regulations, sometimes eccentric, 
but almost always rigidly enforced, to ensure a supply of meat of the best 
quality and in a healthy state. In England, for instance, butchers were 
only allowed to kill bulls after they had been baited with dogs, no doubt 
with the view of making the flesh more tender. At Mans, it was laid down 
in the trade regulations, that " no butcher shall bo so bold as to sell meat 
unless it shall have been previously seen alive by two or three persons, who 
will testify to it on oath ; and, anyhow, they shall not sell it until the 
persons shall have declared it wholesome," &C. 

To the many regulations affecting the interests of the public must be 
added that forbidding butchers to sell meat on days when abstinence from 
animal food was ordered by the Church. These regulations applied less to 
the vendors than to the consumers, who, by disobeying them, were liable 
to fine or imprisonment, or to severe corporal punishment by the whip or in 
the pillory. We rind that Clement Marot was imprisoned and nearly burned 
alive for having eaten pork in Lent. In 1534, Guillaumc des Moulins, 
Count of Brie, asked permission for his mother, who was then eighty years 
of age, to cease fasting ; the Bishop of Paris only granted dispensation 
on condition that the old lady should take her meals in secret and out of 
si°-ht of every one, and should still fast on Fridays. " In a certain town," 
says Brantome, " there had been a procession in Lent. A woman, who had 
assisted at it barefooted, went home to dine off a quarter of lamb and a ham. 
The smell got into the street ; the houso was entered. The fact being 
established, the woman was taken, and condemned to walk through the 
town with her quarter of lamb on the spit over her shoulder, and the ham 
hung round her neck." This species of severity increased during the times 
of religious dissensions. Erasmus says, " He who has eaten pork instead of 
fish is taken to the torture like a parricide." An edict of Henry II., 1549, 
forbade, the sale of meat in Lent to persons who should not be furnished with 
a doctor's certificate. Charles IX. forbade the sale of meat to the Huguenots ; 
and it was ordered that the privilege of selling meat during the time of 
abstinence should belong exclusively to the hospitals. Orders were given to 
those who retailed meat to take the address of every purchaser, although 
he had presented a medical certificate, so that the necessity for his eating 
meat might be verified. Subsequently, the medical certificate required to 
be endorsed by the priest, specifying what quantity of meat was required. 


Even in these cases the use of butchers' moat alone was granted, pork, poultry, 
and game being strictly forbidden. 

Poultry. — A monk of the abbey of Cluny once went on a visit to his 
relations. On arriving lie asked for food; but as it was a fast day he was 
told there was nothing in the house but tish. Perceiving some chickens in 
the yard, he took a stick and killed one, and brought it to his relations, 
saying, " This is the fish which I shall eat to-day." " Eh, but, my son," 
they said, " have you dispensation from fasting on a Friday ? " "No," he 
answered; "hut poultry is not flesh; fish and fowls were created at the 
same time ; they have a common origin, as the hymn which I sing in the 
service teaches me." 

This simple legend belongs to the tenth century; and notwithstanding 
that the opinion of this Benedictine monk may appear strange nowadays, 
yet it must be acknowledged that he was only conforming himself to the 
opinions laid down by certain theologians. In 817, the Council of Aix-la- 
Chapelle decided that such delicate nourishment could scarcely lie called 
mortification as understood by the teaching of the Church. In consequence 
of this an order was issued forbidding the monks to eat poultry, except during 
four days at Easter and four at Christmas. But this prohibition in no way 
changed the established custom of certain parts of Christendom, and the 
faithful persisted in believing that poultry and fish were identical in the 
eyes of the Church, and accordingly continued to eat them indiscriminately. 
We also see, in the middle of the thirteenth century, St. Thomas Aepiinas, 
who was considered an authority in questions of dogma and of faith, ranking 
poultry amongst species of aquatic origin. 

Eventually, this palpable error was abandoned; but when the Church 
forbade Christians the use of poultry on fast days, it made an exception, out 
of consideration for the ancient prejudice, in favour of teal, widgeon, moor- 
hens, and also two or three kinds of small amphibious quadrupeds. Hence 
probably arose the general and absurd beliefs concerning the origin of teal, 
which some said sprung from the rotten wood of old ships, others from the 
fruits of a tree, or the gum on fir-trees, whilst others thought they came from 
a fresh- water shell analogous to that of the oyster and mussel. 

As far back as modern history can. be traced, we find that a similar 
mode of fattening poultry was employed then as now, and was one which the 
Gauls must have learnt from the Romans. Amongst the charges in the 



households of the kings of France one item was that which concerned the 
poultry-house, and which, according to an edict of St. Louis in 12G1, bears 
the name of poulaillier. At a s-ubsequcnt period this name was given to 
breeders and dealers in poultry (Fig. 92). 

The " Menagier " tells us that, as is the present practice, chickens were 
fattened by depriving them of light and liberty, and gorging them with 
succulent food. Amongst the poultry yards in repute at that time, the 
author mentions that of Ilesdin, a property of the Dukes of Luxemburg, 
in Artois ; that of the Xing, at the Hotel Saint-Pol, Rue Saint- Antoine, 
Paris ; that of Master Hugues Aubriot, provost of Paris ; and that of Chariot, 

Fig. 92. — The Poulterer, drawn and engraved in the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

no doubt a bourgeois of that name, who also gave his name to an ancient 
street in that quarter called the Marais. 

Ccqjons are frequently mentioned in poems of the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries ; but the name of the poularde does not occur until the sixteenth. 

We know that under the Roman rule, the Gauls carried on a considerable 
trade in fattened geese. This trade ceased when Gaul passed to new masters; 
but the breeding of geese continued to be carefully attended to. For many 
centuries geese wore more highly prized than any other description of 



poultry, and Charlemagne ordered tliat his domains should bo well stocked 
with flocks of geese, which were driven to feed in the fields, 1 ike Hocks of 
sheep. There was an old proverb, " Who eats the king's goose returns the 
feathers in a hundred years." This bird was considered a great delicacy by the 
working classes and bourgeoisie. The rutmeurs (Fig. 94) had hardly anything 
in their shops but geese, and, therefore, when they were united in a company, 
they received the name of oi/ers, or oi/eurs. The street in which they were 
established, with their spits always loaded with juicy roasts, was called Rue 
des Ones (geese), and this street, when it ceased to be frequented by the o>/crs, 
became by corruption Rue Auxours. 

Fig. 93.— Barnacle Ueese.- Far-simile of an Engraving on Wood, from the " Cosmographie 
Universalis " of Minister, folio, Basle, 1552. 

There is every reason for believing that the domestication of the wdd 
duck is of quite recent date. The attempt having succeeded, it was wished 
to follow it up by the naturalisation in the poultry-yard of two other sorts of 
aquatic birds, namely, the sheldrake (tadorna) and the moorhen, but without 
success. Some attribute the introduction of turkeys into France and Europe 
to Jacques Cceur, treasurer to Charles VII, whose commercial connections 
with the East were very extensive ; others assert that it is due to King Rene, 
Count of Provence; but according to the best authorities these birds were first 
brought into Franco in the time of Francis T. by Admiral Philippe de Chabot, 
and Bruyerin Champier asserts that they were not known until even later. It 
was at about the same period that guinea-fowls were brought from the coast 
of Africa by Portuguese merchants; and the travelling naturalist, Pierre 


Belon, who wrote in the year 1555, asserts that in his time "they had 
already so multiplied in the houses of the nobles that they had become quite 

The pea-fowl played an important part in the chivalric banquets of the 
Middle Ages (Fig. 95). According to old poets the flesh of this noble bird 

Fig. 94.— The Poultry-dealer.— Facsimile of an Engraving on Wood, after Cesare Vecellio. 

is " food for the brave." A poet of the thirteenth century says, " that thieves 
have as much taste for falsehood as a hungry man has for the flesh of the 
peacock." In the fourteenth century poultry-yards were still stocked with 
these birds ; but the turkey and the pheasant gradually replaced them, as 
their flesh was considered somewhat hard and stringy. This is proved by 
the fact that in 1581, « La Nouvelle Coutume du Bourbonnois" only reckons 



the value of these beautiful birds at two sous and a hall', or about three francs 
of present currency. 

Game. — Our forefathers included anion"' the birds winch now constitute 

Fig. 9.;.— Stat-; Banquet.— Serving the Peacock.— Fac-simile of a \V lent in an edition of Virgil, 

folio, published at Lyons in 1517. 

feathered game the heron, the crane, the crow, the swan, the stork, the 
cormorant, and the bittern. These supplied the best tables, especially the 
first three, which were looked upon as exquisite food, fit even for royalty, 
and were reckoned as thorough French delicacies. There were at that time 


heronries, as at a Liter period there were pheasantries. People also ate birds 
of prey, and only rejected those which fed on carrion. 

Swans, which were much appreciated, were very common on all the 
principal rivers of France, especially in the north ; a small island below 
Paris had taken its name from these birds, and has maintained it ever since. 
It was proverbially said that the Charente was bordered with swans, and 
for this same reason Valenciennes was called Veil des Cygnes, or the Swan 

Some authors make it appear that for a long time young game was avoided 
owing to the little nourishment it contained and its indigestibility, and assert 
that it was only when some French ambassadors returned from Venice that 
the French learnt that young partridges and leverets were exquisite, and 
quite fit to appear at the most sumptuous banquets. The "Menagier" 
gives not only various receipts for cooking them, but also for dressing 
chickens, when game was out of season, so as to make them taste like young 

There was a time when the}' fattened pheasants as they did capons ; it 
was a secret, says Liebault, only known to the poultry dealers ; but although 
they were much appreciated, the pullet was more so, and realised as much 
as two crowns each (this does not mean the gold crown, but a current coin 
worth three livres). Plovers, which sometimes came from Beauce in cart- 
loads, were much relished ; they were roasted without being drawn, as also 
were turtle-doves and larks ; "for," says an ancient author, "larks only eat 
small pebbles and sand, doves grains of juniper and scented herbs, and plovers 
feed on air." At a later period the same honour was conferred on woodcocks. 
Thrushes, starlings, blackbirds, quail, and partridges were in equal 
repute according to the season. The bec-figue, a small bird like a nightingale, 
was so much esteemed in Provence that there were feasts at which that bird 
alone was served, prepared in various ways ; but of all birds used for the 
table none could be compared to the young cuckoo taken just as it was full 

As fhr as we can ascertain the Gauls had a dislike to the flesh of rabbits, 
and they did not even hunt them, for, according to Strabo, Southern Gaid was 
infested with these mischievous animals, which destroyed the growing crops, 
and even the barks of the trees. There was considerable change in this respect 
a few centuries later, for every one in town or country reared domesticated 



rabbits, and the wild ones formed an article of food which was much in request. 
In order to ascertain whether a rabbit is young, Strabo tells us we should feel 

Fig. 96.— "The way to skin and cut up a Stag."— Fac-sirnile of a Miniature of " Phcobus, and 

his Staff for hunting Wild Animals " (Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, National Library 
of Palis). 

the first joint of the fore-leg, when we shall find a small bene free and 
movable. This method is adopted in all kitchens in the present day. Hares 
were preferred to rabbits, provided they were young ; for an old French proverb 
says, "An old hare and an old goose are food for the devil." 


The hedgehog and squirrel were also eaten. As for roe and red deer, 
they were, according to Dr. Bruyerin Champier, morsels fit for kings and 
rich people (Fig. 96). The doctor speaks of "fried slices of the young horn 
of the stag" as the daintiest of food, and the " Menagier do Paris" shows 
how, as early as the fourteenth century, beef was dished up like bear's-flesh 
venison, for the use of kitchens in countries where the black bear did not 
exist. This proves that bear's flesh was in those days considered good food. 

Milk, Butter, Egos, and Cheese. — These articles of food, the first 
which nature gave to man, were not always and everywhere uniformly per- 
mitted or prohibited by the Church on fast days. The faithful were for 
several centuries left to their own judgment on the subject. In fact, there 
is nothing extraordinary in eggs being eaten in Lent without scruple, 
considering that some theologians maintained that the hens which laid them 
were animals of aquatic extraction. 

It appears, however, that butter, either from prejudice or mere custom, 
was only used on fast days in its fresh state, and was not allowed to be used 
for cooking purposes. At first, and especially amongst the monks, the dishes 
were prepared with oil ; but as in some countries oil was apt to become 
very expensive, and the supply even,to fail totally, animal fat or lard had to 
be substituted. At a subsequent period the Church authorised the use of 
butter and milk ; but on this point the discipline varied much. In the four- 
teenth century, Charles A"., King of France, having asked Pope Gregory XL 
for a dispensation to use milk and butter on fast days, in consequence of 
the bad state of his health, brought on owing to an attempt having been 
made to poison him, the supreme Pontiff rccjuired a certificate from a 
phj'sician and from the King's confessor. He even then only granted the 
dispensation after imposing on that Christian king the repetition of a certain 
number of prayers and the performance of certain pious deeds. In defiance 
of the severity of ecclesiastical authority, wo find, in the "Journal of a 
Bourgeois of Paris," that in the unhappy reign of Charles VI. (1120), 
"for want of oil, butter was eaten in Lent the same as on ordinary non-fast 

In 1491, Queen Anne, Duchess of Brittany, in order to obtain permission 
from the Pope to eat butter in Lent, represented that Brittany did not 
produce oil, neither did it import it from southern countries. Many northern 
provinces adopted necessity as the law, and, having no oil, used batter ; and 



thence originated that famous toast with slices of bread and butter, which 
formed such an important part of Flemish food. These papal dispensations 
were, however, only earned at the price of prayers and alms, and this was 
the origin of the troncs pour 1c bcurrr, that is, " alms-box for butter," which 
are still to be seen in some of the Flemish churches. 

It is not known when butter was first salted in order to preserve it or 
to send it to distant places ; but this process, which is so simple and so 
natural, dates, no doubt, from very ancient times ; it was particularly prac- 

Fig. 97. — The Manufacture of Oil, drawn and engraved by J. Amman in the Sixteenth 


tised by the Xormans and Bretons, who enclosed the butter in large earthen- 
ware jars, for in the statutes which were given to the fruiterers of Paris in 
1412, mention is made of salt butter in earthenware jars. Lorraine only 
exported butter in such jars. The fresh butter most in request for the table, 
in Paris, was that made at Yanvres, which in the month of May the people 
ate every morning mixed with garlic. 

The consumption of butter was greatest in Flanders. " I am surprised," 
says Bruyerin Champier, speaking of that country, " that they have not yet 
tried to turn it into drink ; in France it is mockingly called beurriere ; and 



when any one has to travel in that country, he is advised to take a knife 
with him if he wishes to taste the good rolls of butter;" 

It is not necessary to state that milk and cheese followed the fortunes of 
butter in the Catholic world, the same as eggs followed those of poultry. 
But butter having been declared lawful by the Church, a claim was put in 
for eggs (Fig 98), and Pope Julius III. granted this dispensation to all 

Fig. 98.— A Dealer in Eggs.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut, after Cesare Veeellio, Sixteenth Century. 

Christendom, although certain private churches did not at once choose to 
profit by this favour. The Greeks had always been more rigid on these 
points of discipline than the people of the West. It is to the prohihition of 
eggs in Lent that the origin of " Easter eggs," must be traced. These were 
hardened by boiling them in a madder bath, and were brought to receive 


the blessing of the priest on Good Friday, and were then eaten on the follow- 
ing Sunday as a sign of rejoicing. 

Ancient Ganl was celebrated for seme of its home-made cheeses. Pliny 
praises those of, and of Mount Lozerc, in Gevaudan; Martial mentions 
those of Toulouse, occ. A simple anecdote, handed clown by the monk of 
St. Gall, who wrote in the ninth century, proves to us that the traditions 
with regard to cheeses were not lost in (lie time of Charlemagne : " The 
Emperor, in one of his travels, alighted suddenly, and without being 
expected, at the house of a bishop. It was on a Friday. The prelate bad 
no fish, and did not dare to set meat before the prince. lie therefore 
offered him what he had got, some boiled corn and green cheese. 
Charles ate of the cheese; but taking the green part to be bad, he took 
care to remove it with his knife. The bishop, seeing this, took the 
liberty of telling his guest that this was the best part. The Emperor, tasting 
it, found that the bishop was right; and consequently ordered him to send 
him annually two cases of similar cheese to Aix-la-Chapelle. The Bishop 
answered, that he could easily send cheeses, but he could not be sure of 
sending them in proper condition, because it was only by opening them that 
you could be sure of the dealer not having deceived you in the quality of 
the cheese. 'Well,' said the Emperor, 'before sending them, cut them 
through the middle, so as to see if they are what I want ; you will only have 
to join the two halves again by means of a wooden peg, and you can then 
put the whole into a case.' ' 

Under the kings of the third French dynasty, a cheese was made at the 
village of Chaillot, near Paris, which was much appreciated in the capital. 
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the cheeses of Champagne and of 
Brie, which are still manufactured, were equally popular, and were hawked 
in the streets, according to the "Book of Street-Cries in Paris," — 

" J'ai ton fromage de Champaigne ; (" Buy my cheese from ( 'humpagne, 

Or i a fromage de Brie !" And my cheese from Biie ! ") 

Eustache Deschamps went so far as to say that cheese was the only good 
thing which could possibly come from Brie. 

The " Menagier de Paris" praises several kinds of cheeses, the names of 
which it would now be difficult to trace, owing to their frequent changes 
during four hundred years; but, according to the Gallic, author of this curious 



collection, a cheese, to be presentable at table, was required to possess certain 
qualities (in proverbial Latin, "Non Argus, nee Helena,, nee Maria Magda- 
lena," &c.), thus expressed in French rhyme : — 

" Non mic (pas) blanc cumme Helaine, 
Non mie (pas) plourant comme Jlagdelaine, 
Non Argus (a cent yeux), mais du tout avugle (aveugle) 
Et aussi pesant comme un bugle (bceuf), 
Contre le pouce soit rebellc, 
Et qu'il ait tigneuse cotelle (epaisse croute) 
Sans yeux, sans plourer, non pas blanc, 
Tigneulx, rebelle, bien pesant." 

(" Neither white like Helena, 
Nor weeping as Magdelena, 
Neither Argus, nor yet quite blind, 
And having too a thickish rind, 
Resisting somewhat to the touch, 
And as a bull should weigh as much ; 
Not eyeless, weeping, nor quite white, 
But firm, resisting, not too light.") 

In 1509, Platina, although an Italian, in speaking of good cheeses, 
mentions those of Chauny, in Picardy, and of Brehemont, in Touraine ; 
Charles Estienne praises those of Craponnc, in AuTergne, the angelots of 
Normandy, and the cheeses made from fresh cream which the peasant- women 
of Montreuil and Vincennes brought to Paris in small wickerwork baskets, 
and which were eaten sprinkled with sugar. The same author names also 
the rougerets of Lyons, which were always much esteemed ; but, above all 
the cheeses of Europe, he places the round or cylindrical ones of Auvergne, 
which were only made by very clean and healthy children of fourteen years 
of age. Olivier de Serres advises those who wish to have good cheeses to 
boil the milk before churning it, a plan which is in use at Lodi and Parma, 
" where cheeses are made which are acknowledged by all the world to be 

The parmesan, which this celebrated agriculturist cites as an example, 
only became the fashion in France on the return of Charles VIII. from his 
expedition to Naples. Much was thought at that time of a cheese brought 
from Turkey in bladders, and of different varieties produced in Holland and 
Zetland. A few of these foreign products were eaten in stews and in pastry, 
others were toasted and sprinkled with sugar and powdered cinnamon. 

"Le Roman de Claris," a manuscript which belongs to the commencement 



of the fourteenth century, says that in a town which was taken by storm the 
following stores were found : — 

" Maint bon tonnel de vin, 
Maint lion bacon (coclion), maint fromagc a rostir." 

(" Many a ton of wine. 

Many \\ slice of good bacon, plenty of good roasted cheese.'') 

Besides cheese and butter, the Normans, who had a great many cows in 
their rich pastures, made a sort of fermenting liquor from the butter-milk, 
which they called serai, by boiling the milk with onions and garlic, and 
lettin»' it cool in closed vessels. 

If the author of the " Menagier" is to be believed, the women who sold 
milk bv retail in the towns were well acquainted with the method of in - 

Pig, 99. _ Manufacture of Cheeses in Switzerland.— Fac-simile of aAVoodcut in the " Cosmographie 
TJniverselle " of Minister, folio, Basle, 1549. 

creasing its quantity at the expense of its quality. He describes how his 
froumeniee, which consists of a sort of soup, is made, and states that when he 
sends his cook to make her purchases at the milk market held in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Rues de la Savonnerie, des Eerivains, and de la Yieille- 
Monnaie, he enjoins her particularly "to get very fresh cow's milk, and to 
tell the person who sells it not to do so if she has put water to it ; for, unless 
it be quite fresh, or if there be water in. it, it will turn." 

Fish ant. Shellfish.— Freshwater fish, which was much more abundant 

1 40 


in former clays than now, was the ordinary food of those who lived on the 
borders of lakes, ponds, or rivers, or who, at all events, were not so far distant 
but that they could procure it fresh. There was of course much diversity at 
different periods and in different countries as regards the estimation in which 
the various kinds of hsh were held. Thus Ausone, who was a native of 
Bordeaux, spoke highly of the delicacy of the perch, and asserted that shad, 
pike, and tench should be left to the lower orders ; an opinion which was 
subsequently contradicted by the inhabitants of other parts of Gaul, and even 
by the countrymen of the Latin poet Gregory of Tours, who loudly praised 
the Geneva trout. But a time arrived when the higher classes preferred the 

Fig. 100. — The Pond Fisherman. — Fac-sirnile of a "Woodcut of the " Cosmographie 
Universelle " of Minister, folio, Basic, 1549. 

freshwater fish of Orchies in Flanders, and even those of the Lyonnais. Thus 
we see in the thirteenth century the barbel of Saint-Florentin held in great 
estimation, whereas two hundred years later a man who was of no use, or a 
nonentity, was said to resemble a barbel, " which is neither good for roasting 
nor boiling." 

Iu a collection of vulgar proverbs of the twelfth century mention is made, 
amongst the fish most in demand, besides the barbel of Saint-Florentin above 
referred to, of the eels of Maine, the pike of Chalons, the lampreys of Nantes, 
the trout of Andeli, and the dace of Aise. The "Menagier" adds several 
others to the above list, including blay, shad, roach, and gudgeon, but, above 



all, the carp, which was supposed to be a native of Southern Europe, and 
which must have been naturalised at a much later period in the northern 
waters (Figs. 100, 101, and 102). 

The most ancient documents bear witness that the natives of the sea-coasts 
of Europe, and particularly of the Mediterranean, fed on the same tish as at 
present : there were, however, a few other sea-fish, which were also used for 
food, but which have since been abandoned. Our ancestors were not 
difficult to please: they had good teeth, and their palates having become 


I^^^^^jferm^^' *" 

Fig. 101.— The River Fisherman, designed and 
engraved, in the Sixteenth Century, by 
J. Amman. 

Pig. 102. — Conveyance of Fish by Water and 
Land. — Fac-simile of an Engraving in the 
Loyal Statutes of the Provostship of Mer- 
chants, 1528. 

accustomed to the flesh of the cormorant, heron, and crane, without difficulty 
appreciated the delicacy of the nauseous sea-dog, the porpoise, and even the 
whale, which, when salted, furnished to a great extent all the markets of 

The trade in salted sea-fish only began in Paris in the twelfth century, 
when a company of merchants was instituted, or rather re-established, on the 
principle of the ancient association of Nautes. This association had existed 
from the period of the foundation under the Gauls of Lutetia, the city of 



fluvial commerce (Fig. 103), and it is mentioned in the letters patent of 
Louis VII. (1170). One of the first cargoes which this company brought 
in its boats was that of salted herrings from the coast of Normandy. These 
herrings became a necessary food during Lent, and 

" Ror et blanc harenc ties pouldre (couvort de sel) !" 
(" Herrings smoked, fresh, and salted !") 

was the cry of the retailers in the streets of Paris, where this fish became 
a permanent article of consumption to an extent which can be appreciated 
from the fact that Saint Louis gave annually nearly seventy thousand herrings 
to the hospitals, plague-houses, and monasteries. 

The profit derived from the sale of herrings at that time was so great 


Fig. 103. — A Votive Altar of the Nautes Parisiens,.or the Company for the Commercial Navigation 
of the Seine, erected in Lutetia during the reign of Tiberius. — Fragments of this Altar, which 
were discovered in 1711 under the Choir of the Church of Notre-Plame, are preserved in the 
Museums of Clunv and of the Palais des Thermos. 

that it soon became a special trade ; it was, in fact, the regular practice of the 
Middle Ages for persons engaged in any branch of industry to unite together 
and form themselves into a corporation. Other speculators conceived the 
idea of bringing fresh fish to Paris by means of relays of posting conveyances 
placed along the road, and they called themselves /brains. Laws were made 
to distinguish the lights of each of these trades, and to prevent any quarrel 
in the competition. In these laws, all sea-fish were comprised under three 
names, the fresh, the salted, and the smoked (sor). Louis IX. in an edict 
divides the dealers into two classes, namely, the sellers of fresh fish, and the 
sellers of salt or smoked fish. Besides salt and fresh herrings, an enormous 
amount of salted mackerel, which was almost as much used, was brought 


from the sea-coast, in addition to flat fish, gurnets, skate, fresh and salted 
whiting and codfish. 

In an old doeument of the thirteenth century about fifty kinds of fish 
are enumerated which were retailed in the markets of the kingdom ; and 
a century later the " : Menagier " gives receipts for cooking forty kinds, 
amongst which appears, under the name of craspois, the salted flesh of the 
whale, which was also called le lard dc careme. This coarse food, which was 
sent from the northern seas in enormous slices, was only eaten by the lower 
orders, for, according to a writer of the sixteenth century, " were it cooked 
even for twenty-four hours it would still be very hard and indigestible." 

The " Proverbes " of the thirteenth century, which mention the fresh- 
water fish then in vogue, also names the sea-fish most preferred, and whence 
they came, namely, the shad from Bordeaux, the congers from La Pochelle, the 
sturgeon fromBlaye, the fresh herrings from Fecamp, and the cuttle-fish from 
Coutances. At a later period the conger was not eaten from its being sup- 
posed to produce the plague. The turbot, John-dory, skate, and sole, which 
were very dear, were reserved for the rich. The fishermen fed on the sea- 
dragon. A great quantity of the small sea crayfish were brought into market; 
and in certain countries these were called saute, because the doctors recom- 
mended them to invalids or those in consumption ; on the other hand, fresh- 
water crayfish were not much esteemed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
excepting for their eggs, which were prepared with spice. It is well known 
that pond frogs were a favourite food of the Gauls and Franks ; they were 
never out of fashion in the rural districts, and were served at the host tables, 
dressed with green sauce ; at the same period, and especially during Lent, 
snails, which were served in pyramid-shaped dishes, were much appreciated ; 
so much so that nobles and bourgeois cultivated snail beds, somewhat 
resembling our oyster beds of the present day. 

The inhabitants of the coast at all periods ate various kinds of shell-fish, 
which were called in Italy sea-fruit ; but it was only towards the twelfth 
century that the idea was entertained of bringing oysters to Paris, and 
mussels were not kneevn there until much later. It is notorious that Henry I"\ . 
was a great oyster-eater. Sully relates that when he was created a duke 
" the king came, without being expected, to take his scat at the reception 
banquet, but as there was much delay in going to dinner, he began by 
eating some huitres de chasse, which he found very fresh." 



By huitres cle ckasse were meant those oysters which wore brought by the 
cliasse-maries, carriers who brought the fresh fish from the coast to Paris at 
great speed. 

Beverages. Beer is not only one of the oldest fermenting beverages 

used bv man, but it is also the one which was most in vogue in the Middle 
Ao-es. If we refer to the tales of the Greek historians, we find that the 
Gauls who, like the Egyptians, attributed the discovery of this refreshing- 
drink to their god Osiris — had two sorts of beer : one called zythus, made 
with honey and intended for the rich ; the other called corma, in which 
there was no honey, and which was made for the poor. But Pliny asserts 
that beer in Gallic was called ccrevisia, and the grain employed for making- 
it brasce. This testimony seems true, as from brasce or brasse comes the 

Fig. 104.— The Great Drinkers of the North. — Fae-simile of a Woodcut of the " Histoires des 
Pays .Septentrionaux," by Olaus Magnus, lCmo., Antwerp, 1560. 

name brasseur (brewer), and from cerevisia, cervoise, the generic name by which 
beer was known for centuries, and which only lately fell into disuse. 

After a great famine, Domitian ordered all the vines in Gaul to he 
uprooted so as to make room for corn. This rigorous measure must have 
caused beer to become even more general, and, although two centuries later 
Probus allowed vines to be replanted, the use of beverages made from grain 
became an established custom ; but in time, whilst the people still only 
drank cervoke, those who were able to afford it bought wine and drank it 
alternately with beer. 

However, as by degrees the vineyards increased in all places having a 
suitable soil and climate, the use of beer was almost entirely given up, so 
that in central Gaul wine became so common and cheap that all could drink 
it. In the northern provinces, where the vine would not grow, beer naturally 
continued to be the national beverage (Fig. 101). 



In the time of Charlemagne, for instance, we find the Emperor wisely 
ordered that persons knowing how to brew should be attached to ouch of 
his farms. Everywhere the monastic houses possessed breweries; but as 
early as the reign of St. Louis there were only a very few brewers in Paris 
itself, and, in spite of all the privileges granted to their corporation, even 
these were soon obliged to leave the capital, where there ceased to bo 
any demand for the produce of their industry. They reappeared in 1428, 
probablv in consequence of the political and commercial relations which 
had become established between Paris and the rich towns of the Flemish 

Y\%. 105.— The Biwe 

r, designed and engraved, in the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

bourgeoisie ; and then, either on account of the dearness of wine, or the 
caprice of fashion, the consumption of beer again became so general m 
France, that according to the " Journal d'un Bourgeois de Pans," it pro- 
duced to the revenue two-thirds more than wine. It must be understood, 
however, that in times of scarcity, as in the years 1415 arid 1482, brewing 
was temporarily stopped, and even forbidden altogether, on account of the 
quantity of grain which was thereby withdrawn from the food supply of the 
people (Fig. 105). 

Under the Pomans, the real cerroisf, or beer, was made with barley ; but, 



at a later period, all sorts of grain was indiscriminately used ; and it was 
only towards the end of the sixteenth century that adding the flower or seed 
of hops to the oats or barley, which formed the basis of this beverage, was 
thought of. 

Estienne Boileau's " Book of Trades," edited in the thirteenth century, 
shows us that, besides the cenoisc, another sort of beer was known, which 
was called godale. This name, we should imagine, was derived from the two 
German words god ad, which mean " good beer," and was of a stronger 
description than the ordinary cerroke ; this idea is proved by the Picards and 
Flemish people calling it " double beer." In any case, it is from the word 
godale that the familiar expression of godailler (to tipple) is derived. 

In fact, there is hardly any sort of mixture or ingredient which has not 
been used in the making of beer, according to the fashions of the different 
periods. When, on the return from the Crusades, the use of spice had become 
the fashion, beverages as well as the food were loaded with it. Allspice, 
juniper, resin, apples, bread- crumbs, sage, lavender, gentian, cinnamon, and 
laurel were each thrown into it. The English sugared it, and the Germans 
salted it, and at times they even went so far as to put darnel into it, at the 
risk of rendering the mixture poisonous. 

The object of these various mixtures was naturally to obtain high- 
flavoured beers, which became so much in fashion, that to describe the want 
of merit of persons, or the lack of value in anything, no simile was more 
common than to compare them to "small beer." Nevertheless, more delicate 
and less blunted palates were to be found which could appreciate beer 
sweetened simply with honey, or scented with ambergris or raspberries. It is 
possible, however, that these compositions refer to mixtures in which beer, 
the produce of fermented grain, was confounded with hydromel, or fermented 
honey- Both these primitive drinks claim an origin equally remote, which 
is buried in the most distant periods of history, and they have been used in 
all parts of the world, being mentioned in the oldest historical records, in 
the Bible, the Edda, and in the sacred books of India. In the thirteenth 
century, hydromel, which then bore the name of borgerafre, borgermtc, 
or bochet, was composed of one part of honey to twelve parts of water, 
scented with herbs, and allowed to ferment for a month or six weeks. This 
beverage, which in the customs and statutes of the order of Cluny is termed 
potus dulcissimus (the sweetest beverage), and which must have been both 



agreeable in taste ami smell, was speoially appreciated by tlio monks, who 
feasted on it on the great anniversaries of the Church. Besides this, an 
inferior quality of bochct was made for the consumption of the lower orders 
and peasants, out of the honey-comb after the honey had boon drained away, 
or with the scum which rose during the fermentation of the hotter qualities. 

Cider (in Latin sicera) and perry can also both claim a very ancient 
origin, since they are mentioned by Pliny. It does not appear, however, 
that the Gauls were acquainted with them. The first historical mention of 
them is made with reference to a repast which Thierry II., King of Burgundy 


Fi". 1(j6. The Vintagers, after a Miniature of the "Dialogues de Saint Gregoire " (Thirteenth 

Century).— Manuscript of the Royal Library of Brussels. 

and Orleans (096 — 613), son of Chihlebert, and grandson of Queen Brunehaut, 
gave to St. Colomban, in which both cider and wine were used. In the 
thirteenth century, a Latin poet (Guillaume le Breton) says that the inhabitants 
of the Auge and of Normandy made cider their daily drink ; but it is not 
likely that this beverage was sent away from the localities where it was made ; 
for, besides the fact that the " Menagier" only very curtly mentions a drink 
made of apples, we know that in the fifteenth century the Parisians were 
satisfied with pouring water on apples, and steeping them, so as to extract a 
sort of half-sour, half-sweet drink called defense. Besides this, Paulmier de 
Grandmesnil, a Norman by birth, a famous doctor, and the author of a Latin 


treatise on wine and cider (1588), asserts that half a century before, cider 
was very scarce at Rouen, and that in all the districts of Caux the people 
only drank beer. Duperron adds that the Normans brought cider from 
Biscay, when their crops of apples failed. 

By whom and at what period the vine was naturalised in Gaul has been 
a long-disputed question, which, in spite of the most careful research, remains 
unsolved. The most plausible opinion is that which attributes the honour of 
having imported the vine to the Phoenician colony who founded Marseilles. 

Pliny makes mention of several wines of the Gauls as being highly 
esteemed. He nevertheless reproaches the vine-growers of Marseilles, 
Beziers, and Narbonnc with doctoring their wines, and with infusing various 
drug's into them, which rendered them disagreeable and even unwholesome 
(Fig. 106). Dioscorides, however, approved of the custom in use among the 
Allobroges, of mixing resin with their wines to preserve them and prevent 
them from turning sour, as the temperature of their country was not warm 
enough thoroughly to ripen the grape. 

Booted up by order of Domitian in 92, as stated above, the vine only 
reappeared in Gaul under Protus, who revoked, in 282, the imperial edict of 
his predecessor ; after which period the Gallic wines soon recovered their 
ancient celebrity. Under the dominion of the Franks, who held wine in 
great favour, vineyard property was one of those which the barbaric laws 
protected with the greatest care. Wo find in the code of the Salians and in 
that of the Visigoths very severe penalties for uprooting a vine or stealing a 
bunch of grapes. The cultivation of the vine became general, and kings 
themselves planted them, even in the gardens of their city palaces. In 1160, 
there was still in Paris, near the Louvre, a vineyard of such an extent, that 
Louis VII. could annually present six hogsheads of wine made from it to the 
rector of St. Nicholas. Philip Augustus possessed about twenty vineyards of 
excellent quality in various parts of his kingdom. 

The culture of the vine having thus developed, the wine trade acquired 
an enormous importance in France. Gascony, Aunis, and Saintonge sent 
their wines to Flanders ; Quyenne sent hers to England. Froissart writes 
that, in 1372, a merchant fleet of quite two hundred sail, came from London 
to Bordeaux for wine. This flourishing trade received a severe blow in the 
sixteenth century ; for an awful famine having invaded France in 1566, 
Charles IX. did not hesitate to repeat the acts of Domitian, and to order all 




the vines to be uprooted and their place to be sown with corn; fortunately 
Henry III. soon after modified this edict by simply recommending the 
governors of the provinces to see that " the ploughs were not being neglected 
in their districts on account of the excessive cultivation of the vine." 

Although the trade of a wine-merchant is one of the oldest established 
in Paris, it does not follow that the retail sale of wine was exclusively 

Fig. 107.— Interior of an Hostelry.— Fae-simile of a Woodcut in a folio edition of Virgil, published 

at Lyons in IS 17. 

carried on by special tradesmen. On the contrary, for a long time the 
owner of the vineyard retailed the wine which he had not been able to 
sell in the cask. A broom, a laurel-wreath, or some other sign of the sort 
hung over a door, denoted that any one passing could purchase or drink 
wine within. When the wine-growers did not have the quality and price 
of their wine announced in the village or town by the public crier, they 
placed a man before the door of their cellar, who enticed the public to enter 
and taste the new wines. Other proprietors, instead of selling for people 


to take away in their own vessels, established a tavern in some room of their 
house, where they retailed drink (Fig. 107). The monks, who made wine 
extensively, also opened these taverns in the monasteries, as they only 
consumed part of their wine themselves ; and this system was universally 
adopted by wine-growers, and even by the king and the nobles. The latter 
however, had this advantage, that, whilst they were retailing their wines, no 
one in the district was allowed to enter into competition with them. This 
prescriptive right, which was called droit de ban-tin, was still in force in the 
seventeenth century. 

Saint Louis granted special statutes to the wine merchants in 1264; but it 
was only three centuries later that they formed a society, which was divided into 
four classes, namely, hotel-keepers, publichuuse-kccpers, tavern proprietors, and 

Fig'. 108. — Banner of the Corporation of the Fig. 109. — Banner of the Corporation of the 

Publichouse-keepers of Alontmedy. Puhlichouse-keepers of Tonnene. 

dealers in wine a pot, that is, sold to people to take away with them. Hotel- 
keepers, also called aabergistes, accommodated traA r ellers, and also put up 
horses and carriages. The dealers a pot sold wine which could not be drunk 
on their premises. There was generally a sort of window in their door through 
which the empty pot was passed, to be returned filled : hence the expression, 
still in use in the eighteenth century, rente d huis coupe (sale through a cut 
door). Publichouse-keepers supplied drink as well as nappe et assiette (table- 
cloth and plate), which meant that refreshments were also served. And lastly, 
the taverniers sold wine to be drunk on the premises, but without the right of 
supplying bread or meat to their customers (Figs. 108 and 109). 

The wines of France in most request from the ninth to the thirteenth 
centuries, were those of Macon, Cahors, Piheims, Choisy, Montargis, Marne, 


Meulan, and Orleanais. Amongst the latter there was one which was much 
appreciated by Henry T., and of which he kept a store, to stimulate his courage 
when he joined his army. The little fable of the Battle of Wines, composed 
in the thirteenth century by Henri d'Andelys, mentions a number of wines 
which have to this day maintained their reputation: for instance, the Beaune, 
in Burgundy; the Saint-Emilion, in Guyenne; the Chablis, Epernay, Sezanne, 
in Champagne, &c. But he places above all, with good reason, according to 
the taste of those days, the Saint-Poureain of Auvergne, which was then most, 
expensive and in great request. Another French poet, in describing the 
luxurious habits of a young man of fashion, says that he drank nothing but 

Fig. 110. — Banner of the Coopers 
of Bavonne. 

Fig. 111. — Banner of the Coopers 
of La Rochelle. 

Saint-Poureain ; and in a poem composed by Jean Bruyant, secretary of the 
Chatelet of Paris, in 1332, we find 

" Du saint-pour<;uin 
Que Ten met en son sein pour sain." 

(" Saint-l'ourcain wine, which you imhibe for the good of your health.") 

Towards 1400, the vineyards of A'i became celebrated for Champagne as 
those of Beaune were for Burgundy; and it is then that we find, according 
to the testimony of the learned Paulmicr de Grandmesnil, kings and queens 
making champagne their favourite beverage. Tradition has it that Francis I., 
Charles Quint, Henry VIII., and Pope Leon X. all possessed vineyards in 
Champagne at the same time. Burgundy, that pure and pleasant wine, was 
not despised, and it was in its honour that Erasmus said, "Happy province ! 
she may well call herself the mother of men, since she produces such 
milk." Nevertheless, the above-mentioned physician, Paulmicr, preferred to 


burgundy, "it" not perhaps for their flavour, yet for their wholesomeness, the 
wines of the lie de France or vinsfrangais, which agree, he says, with scholars, 
invalids, the bourgeois, and all other persons who do not devote themselves 
to manual labour ; for they do not parch the blood, like the wines of Gascony, 
nor fly to the head like those of Orleans and Chateau-Thierry ; nor do they 
cause obstructions like those of Bordeaux." This is also the opinion of 
Baccius, who in his Latin treatise on the natural history of wines (1596) 
asserts that the wines of Paris " are in no way inferior to those of any other 
district of the kingdom." These thin and sour wines, so much esteemed in 
the first periods of monarchy and so long abandoned, first lost favour in the 
reign of Francis L, who preferred the strong and stimulating productions of 
the South. 

Notwithstanding the great number of excellent wines made in their own 
country, the French imported from other lands. In the thirteenth century, in 
the "Battle of Wines" we find those of Aquila, Spain, and, above all, those of 
Cyprus, spoken of in high terms. A century later, Eustace Deschamps praised 
the Rhine wines, and those of Greece, Malmsey, and Grenache. In an edict 
of Charles VI. mention is also made of the muscatel, rosette, and the wine of 
Lieppe. Generally, the Malmsey which was drunk in France was an artificial 
preparation, which had neither the colour nor taste of the Cyprian wine. 
Olivier de Series tells us that in his time it was made with water, honey, clary 
juice, beer grounds, and brandy. At first the same name was used for the 
natural wine, mulled and spiced, which was produced in the island of Madeira 
from the grapes which the Portuguese brought there from Cyprus in 1420. 

The reputation which this wine accpiired in Europe induced Francis I. to 
import some vines from Greece, and he planted fifty acres with them near 
Fontaineblcau. It was at first considered that this plant was succeeding so 
well, that "there were hopes," says Olivier de Serres, " that France would 
soon be able to furnish her own Malmsey and Greek wines, instead of having 
to import them from abroad." It is evident, however, that they soon gave up 
this delusion, and that for want of the genuine wine they returned to artificial 
beverages, such as vin cuit, or cooked wine, which had at all times been 
cleverly prepared by boiling down new wine and adding various aromatic 
herbs to it. 

Many wines were made under the name of herbes, which were merely 
infusions of wormwood, myrtle, hyssop, rosemarv, &c, mixed with sweetened 



wine and flavoured with honey. The most celebrated of these beverages 
bore the pretentious name of "nectar;" those composed of spices, Asiatic; 
aromaties, and honey, were generally called " white wine," a name indis- 
criminately applied to liquors having for their liases some slightly coloured 
wine, as well as to the hypocras, which was often composed of a mixture of 
foreign liqueurs. This hypocras plays a prominent part in the romances 
of chivalry, and was considered a drink of honour, being always offered to 
kings, princes, and nobles on their solemn entry into a town. 

The name of wine was also given to drinks composed of the juices of 
certain fruits, and in which grapes were in no way used. These were the 

Fig. 112. — Butler at hisDuties. — Fac-simile from a "Woodcut in the " Cosmograjjliie Umvei-Bclle " 

of Munster, folio, Basle, 1549. 

cherry, the currant, the raspberry, and the pomegranate wines; also the 
more, made with the mulberry, which was so extolled by the poets of the 
thirteenth century. We must also mention the sour wines, which were made 
by pouring water on the refuse grapes after the wine laid been extracted ; 
also the drinks made from filberts, milk of almonds, the syrups of apricots and 
strawberries, and cherry and raspberry waters, all of which were refreshing, 
and were principally used in summer; and, lastly, tixniw, sold by the con- 
fectioners of Paris, and made hot or cold, with prepared barley, dried grapes, 
plums, dates, gum, or liquorice. This tisane may be considered as the origin 
of that drink which is now sold to the poor at a sons a glass, and which 
most assuredly has not much improved since olden tunes. 



It was about the thirteenth century that brandy first became known in 
France ; but it does not appear that it was recognised as a liqueur before the 
sixteenth. The celebrated physician Arnauld do Villeneuve, who wrote at 
the end of the thirteenth century, to whom credit has wrongly been 
given for inventing brandy, employed it as one of his remedies, and thus 
expresses himself about it: "Who would have believed that we could 
have derived from wine a liquor which neither resembles it in nature, 
colour, or effect? .... This can tie inn is called by some can cle vie, 

and justly so, since it prolongs life It prolongs health, dissipates 

superfluous matters, revives the spirits, and preserves youth. Alone, or 
added to some other proper remedy, it cures colic, dropsy, paralysis, ague, 
gravel, &c. 

At a period when so many doctors, alchemists, and other learned men made 
it their principal occupation to try to discover that marvellous golden fluid 
which was to free the human race of all its original infirmities, the discovery 
of such an elixir could not fail to attract the attention of all such manufac- 
turers of panaceas. It was, therefore, under the name of can d'or [aqua ami) 
that brandy first became known to the world ; a name improperly given to it, 
implying as it did that it was of mineral origin, whereas its beautiful goldeu 
colour was caused by the addition of spices. At a later period, when it lost 
its repute as a medicine, they actually sprinkled it with pure gold leaves, and 
at the same time that it ceased to be exclusively considered as a remedy, it 
became a favourite beverage. It was also employed in distilleries, especially 
as the basis of various strengthening and exciting liqueurs, most of which 
have descended to us, some coming from monasteries and others from 
chateaux, where they had been manufactured. 


Soups, Bkoths, Stews, &c. — The French word potage must originally 
have signified a soup composed of vegetables and herbs from the kitchen 
garden, but from the remotest times it was applied to soups in general. 

As the Gauls, according to Athenasus, generally ate their meat boiled, we 
must presume that they made soup with the water in which it was cooked. 
It is related that one day Gregory of Tours was sitting at the table of King 
Chilperie, when the latter offered him a. soup specially made in his honour 



from chicken. The poems of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries mention 
soups made of peas, of bacon, of vegetables, and of groats. In the southern 
provinces there were soups made of almonds, and of olive oil. When Du 
Gueselin went out to tight the English knight William of Blancbourg in 
single combat, he first ate three sorts of soup made with wine, " in honour 
of the three persons in the Holy Trinity." 

We find in the " Menagier," amongst a long list of the common soups, 
the receipts for which are given, soup made of " dried peas and the water in 
which bacon has been boiled," and, in Lent, " salted-whale water ;" water- 
cress soup, cabbage soup, cheese soup, and g ramose soup, which was prepared 
by adding stewed meat to the water in which meat had already been 
hoiled, and adding beaten eggs and verjuice; and lastly, the souppe despourrue, 

Fig. 113. — Interiur of a Kitchen of the Sixteenth Century.— Fac-simile from a Woodcut in the 
" Calcndarium Romanum " of Jean StaefBer, folio, Tubingen, 1.518. 

which was rapidly made at the hotels, for unexpected travellers, and was 

a sort of soup made from the odds and ends of the larder. In those days 

there is no doubt but that hot soup formed an indispensable part of the 

daily meals,'and that each person took it at least twice a day, according to 

the old proverb : — 

"■Soupe le soir, soupe le matin, 
C'est l'ordinaire du hon chrc-tien." 

(" Soup in the evening, and soup in the morning, 
Is the every-day food of a good Christian.") 

The cooking apparatus of that period consisted of a. whole glittering 
array of cauldrons, saucepans, kettles, and vessels of red and yellow copper, 
which hardly sufficed for all the rich soups for which France was so famous. 
Thence the old proverb, " En France sent les grands soupiers." 



But besides these soups, which were in fact looked upon as " common, and 
without spice," a number of dishes were served under the generic name of 
soup, which constituted the principal luxuries at the great tables in the 
fourteenth century, but which do not altogether bear out the names under 
which we find them. For instance, there was haricot mutton, a sort of stew; 
thin chicken broth ; veal broth with herbs ; soup made of veal, roe, stag, 
wild boar, pork, hare and rabbit soup flavoured with green peas, &c. 

The greater number of these soups were very rich, very expensive, several 
being served at the same time ; and in order to please the eye as well as the 
taste they were generally made of various colours, sweetened with sugar, and 

Fig. 114. — Coppersmith, designed find mgraved in the Sixteenth Century by J. Amman. 

sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and aromatic herbs, such as marjoram, 
sage, thyme, sweet basil, savoury, &c. 

These descriptions of soaps were perfect luxuries, and were taken instead 
of sweets. As a proof of this we must refer to the famous soupe doree, the 
description of which is given by Taillcvent, head cook of Charles VII., in 
the following words, " Toast slices of broad, throw them into a jelly made 
of sugar, white wine, yolk of egg, and rosewater ; when they are well 
soaked fry them, then throw them again into the rosewater and sprinkle 
them with suirar and saffron." 



Fig. 115— Kitchen and Tahle Utenails :- -1, Carving-knife (Sixteenth Century) ; '2, < 'halice or ( 'up, 
with Cover (Fourteenth Century) ; :), Douhle-handled Pot, in ( 'opper (Ninth Century) ; 4, Metal 
Boiler, or Tin Pot, taken from " L'Hiatoire de la Belle Helaine" (Fifteenth Century) 
(Sixteenth Century) ; 0, Pot, with Handles (Fourteenth Century) ; 7, Copper Boiler, t 
" L'Hiatoire de la Belle Helaine " (Fifteenth Century); 8, Ewer, -with Han 
Fashion (Ninth Century) ; 9, Pitcher, sculptured, from among the Decorations of the Church of 
St. Benedict, Paris (Fifteenth Century); 10, TwO-hranched Candlestick (Sixteenth Century); 
11, Cauldron (Fifteenth Century). 

5, Knife 

ken from 

in ( Mental 


It is possible that even now this kind of soup might find some favour; 
but we cannot say the same for those made with mustard, hemp-seed, millet, 
verjuice, and a number of others much in repute at that period ; for we see 
iu Rabelais that the French were the greatest soup-caters in the world, and 
boasted to be the inventors of seventy sorts. 

We have already remarked that broths were in use at the remotest 
periods, for, from the time that the practice of boiling various meats was first 
adopted, it must have been discovered that the water in which they were 
so boiled became savoury and nourishing. " In the time of the great King 
Francis I.," says Noel du Fail, in bis " Contes d'Eutrapel," " in many places 
the saucepan was put on to the table, on which there was only one other 
large dish, of beef, mutton, veal, and bacon, garnished with a large bunch 
of cooked herbs, the whole of which mixture composed a porridge, and a real 
restorer and elixir of life. From this came the adage, ' The soup in the 
great pot and the dainties in the hotch-potch.' " 

At one time they made what they imagined to be strengthening broths 
for invalids, though their virtue must have been somewhat delusive, for, after 
having boiled down various materials in a close kettle and at a slow fire, they 
then distilled from this, and the water thus obtained was administered as a 
sovereign remedy. The common-sense of Bernard Palissy did not fail to make 
him see this absurdity, and to protest against this ridiculous custom : "Take a 
capon," he says, " a partridge, or anything else, cook it well, and then if you 
smell the broth you will find it very good, and if you taste it you will find it 
has plenty of flavour ; so much so that you will feel that it contains something 
to invigorate you. Distil this, on the contrary, and take the water then 
collected and taste it, and you will find it insipid, and without smell except 
that of burning. This should convince you that your restorer does not give 
that nourishment to the weak body for which you recommend it as a means 
of making good blood, and restoring and strengthening the spirits." 

The taste for broths made of flour was formerly almost universal in France 
and over the whole of Europe ; it is spoken of repeatedly in the histories and 
annals of monasteries ; and we know that the Normans, who made it their 
principal nutriment, were surnamed bouilleux. They were indeed almost like 
the Romans who in olden times, before their wars with eastern nations, gave 
up making bread, and ate their corn simply boiled in water. 

In the fourteenth century the broths and soups were made with millet- 



flour and mixed wheats. The pure wheat flour was steeped in milk seasoned 
with sugar, saffron, honey, sweet wine or aromatic herbs, and sometimes 
butter, fat, and yolks of eggs were added. It was on account of this that the 
bread of the ancients so much resembled cakes, and it was also from this fact 
that the art of the pastrycook took its rise. 

Wheat made into gruel for a long time was an important ingredient in 
cooking, being the basis of a famous preparation called froiucntec, which was 
a bouillie of milk, made creamy by (lie addition of yolks of eggs, and which 
served as a liquor in which to roast meats and fish. There were, besides, 
several sorts of fromeniee, all equally esteemed, and Taillevent recommended 
the following receipt, which differs from the one above given: — "First boil 

Fig. 116. — Interior of a Kitchen. — Fuc -simile from a \V leut in the " Calendarium Romanum " 

of J. Staeffler, folio, Tubingen, l.jls. 

your wheat in water, then put into if the juice or gravy of fat meat, or, if you 
like it better, milk of almonds, and by this means you will make a soup fit for 
fasts, because it dissolves slowly, is of slow digestion and nourishes much. 
In this way, too, you can make orcliat, or barley soup, which is more generally 
approved than the s&idfromentee." 

Semolina, vermicelli, macaroni, &c, which were called Italian because 
they originally came from that country, have been in use in France longer 
than is generally supposed. They were first introduced after the expedition 
of Charles VIII. into Italv, and the conquest of the kingdom of Naples ; that 
is, in the reign of Louis XII., or the first years of the sixteenth century. 

Piks, Stews, Roasts, Salads, &e. — Pastry made with fat, which might 
be supposed to have been the invention of modern kitchens, was in great 
repute amongst our ancestors. The manufacture of sweet and savoury pastry 
was entrusted to the care of the good menagicrs of all ranks and conditions, and 

I 60 


to the corporation of pastrycooks, who obtained their statutes only in the middle 
of the sixteenth century ; the united skill of these, both in Paris and in the 
provinces, multiplied the different .sorts of tarts and meat pies to a very great 
extent. So much was this the case that these ingenious productions became a 
special art, worthy of rivalling even cookery itself (Figs. 117, 118, and 130). 
One of the earliest known receipts for making pies is that of Gaces de la 
Bigne, first chaplain of Kings John, Charles V., and Charles VI. ^Ye find 
it in a sporting poem, and it deserves to be quoted verbatim as a record of 
the royal kitchen of the fourteenth century. It will be observed on perusing 
it that nothing was spared either in pastry or in cookery, and that expense 
was not considered when it was a question of satisfying the appetite. 

' Trois perdriaulx gros et reffais 
Au milieu du pate me mets ; 
Mais gardes bien que tu ne failles 
A moi prendre six grosses cailles, 
De quoi tu les apuyeras. 
Et puis apres tu me prendras 
TJne douzaine d'alouetes 
Qu' environ les cailles me mettes, 
Et puis pendras de ees maches 
Et de ees petits oiseles : 
Selon ee que tu en auras, 
Le pate m'en billeteras. 
Or le fault faire pourveanee 
D'un peu de lart, sans point de ranee, 
Que tu tailleras comme de : 
Sj'en sera le paste pouldre. 
Si tu le veux de bonne guise, 
Du vertjus la grappe y soit mise, 
D'un bien peu de set soit pouldre . . . 
. . . Fay mettre des oeufs en la Tjaste, 
Les croutes un peu rudement 
Faietes de flour de pur froment . . . 
. . . N'y mets espiees ni fromaige . . . 
Au four bien a point chaud le met, 
Qui de cendre ait l'atre bien net ; 
Et quand sera bien a point euit, 
II n'est si bon mangier, ce euit." 

("Put me in the middle of the pie three 

young partridges large and fat; 
But take good care not to fail to take six 

fine quail to put by their side. 
After that you must take a dozen sky- 

hirks, which round the quail you must 

place ; 
And then y T ou must take some thrushes 

and such other little birds as you can 

get to garnish the pie. 
Further, you must provide yourself with 

a little bacon, which must not be in 

the least rank (reasty), and you must 

cut it into pieces of the size of a die, 

and sprinkle them into the pie. 
If you want it to be in quite good form, 

you must put some sour grapes iu and 

a very little salt . . . 
. . . Have eggs put into the paste, and the 

crust made rather hard of the flour of 

pure wheat. 
Put in neither spice nor cheese . . . 
Put it into the oven just at the proper heat, 
The bottom of which must be quite free 

from ashes ; 
And when it is baked enough, isn't that 

a dish to feast on ! ") 

From this period all treatises on cookery are full of the same kind of 
receipts for making " pies of young chickens, of fresh venison, of veal, of 
eels, of bream and salmon, of young rabbits, of pigeons, of small birds, 
of geese, and of narrois (a mixture of cod's liver and hashed fish). We may 


1 6i 

mention also the small pies, which were made of minced beef and raisins, 
similar to our mince pies, and which were hawked in the streets of Paris, 
until their sale was forbidden, because the trade encouraged greediness on 
the one hand and laziness on the ether. 

Ancient pastries, owing to their shapes, received the name of tourte or 
tarte, from the Latin toria, a larsre hunch of bread. This name was after- 
wards exclusively used for hot pies, whether they contained vegetables, meat, 
or fish. But towards the end of the fourteenth century tourte and tarte was 
applied to pastry containing herbs, fruits, or preserves, and pate to those 
containing any kind of meat, game, or fish. 

It was only in the course of the sixteenth century that the name of pot age 

Fig. 117. — Banner of the Corporation of 
Pastrycooks of Caen. 

Fig. 118.- -Banner of the Corporation of 
Pastrycooks of Bordeaux. 

ceased to be applied to stews, whose number equalled their variety, for on a 
bill of fare of a banquet of that period we find more than fifty different sorts 
of potages mentioned. The greater number of these dishes have disappeared 
from our books on cookery, having gone out of fashion ; but there are two 
stews which were popular during many centuries, and which have maintained 
their reputation, although they do not now exactly represent what they 
formerly did. The pot-pourri, which was composed of veal, beef, mutton, 
bacon, and vegetables, and the galimafrie, a fricassee of poultry, sprinkled 
with verjuice, flavoured with spices, and surrounded by a sauce composed of 
vinegar, bread crumbs, cinnamon, ginger, &c. (Fig. 11 J). 

The highest aim of the cooks of the Tailleveut school was to make dishes 
not only palatable, but also pleasing to the eye. These masters in the art of 


I 62 


cooking' might be said to be both sculptors and painters, so much did they 
decorate their works, their object being to surprise or amuse the guests by 
concealing the real nature of the dishes. Froissart, speaking of a repast 

Fig. 119.— Interior of Italian Kitchen. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Book on Cookery of 
C'hristoforo di Messisburgo, " Banchetti composition! di Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549. 

given in his time, says that there were a number of "dishes so curious 
and disguised that it was impossible to guess what they were." For instance, 
the bill of fare above referred to mentions a lion and a sun made of white 



chicken, a pink jelly with diamond-shaped points; and, as if the object of 
cookery was to disguise food and deceive epicures, Taillevent facetiously gives 
us a receipt for making fried or roast butter and for cooking eggs on (lie spit. 
The roasts were as numerous as the stews. xV treatise of the fourteenth 
century names about thirty, beginning with a sirloin of beef, which must 
have been one of the most common, and ending with a swan, which appeared 
on table in full plumage. This last was the triumph of cookery, inasmuch 
as it presented this magnificent bird to the eyes of the astonished guests 
just as if he were living and swimming. His beak was gilt, his body silvered, 
resting on a mass of brown pastry, painted green in order to represent a 

Fig. 120.— Hunting-Meal. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the " Livrc 
Modus " (National Library of Paris). 

da Roy 

grass field Eio-ht banners of silk were placed round, and a cloth of the 
same material served as a carpet for the whole dish, which towered above the 
other appointments of the table. 

The peacock, which was as much thought of then as it is little valued now, 
was similarly arrayed, and was brought to table amidst a flourish of trumpets 
and the applause of all present, The modes of preparing other roasts much 
resembled the present system in their simplicity, with this difference, that 
strong meats were first boiled to render them tender, and no roast was ever 
handed over to the skill of the carver without first being thoroughly basted 
with orange juice and rose-water, and covered with sugar and powdered spices. 

We must not forget to mention the broiled dishes, the invention of which 



is attributed to hunters, and which Rabelais continually refers to as acting 1 
as stimulants and irresistibly exciting the thirst for wine at the sumptuous 
feasts of those voracious heroes (Fig. 120). 

The custom of introducing salads after roasts was already established in 
the fifteenth century. However, a salad, of whatever sort, was never brought 
to table in its natural state ; for, besides the raw herbs, dressed in the same 
manner as in our days, it contained several mixtures, such as cooked vegetables, 
and the crests, livers, or brains of poultry. After the salads fish was served ; 
sometimes fried, sometimes sliced with eggs or reduced to a sort of pulp, 

Fig. 121.— Shop of a Grocer and Druggist, from a .Stamp of Vriese (Seventeenth Century). 

which was called carper or charpie, and sometimes it was boiled in water or 
wine, with strong seasoning. Near the salads, in the course of the dinner, 
dishes of eggs prepared in various ways were generally served. Many of these 
are now in use, such as the poached egg, the hard-boiled egg, egg sauce, &c. 
Seasonings.— We have already stated that the taste for spices much 
increased in Europe after the Crusades ; and in this rapid historical sketch of 
the food of the Freueh people in the Middle Ages it must have been observed 
to what an extent this taste had become developed in France (Fig. 121). 
This was the origin of sauces, all, or almost all of which were highly spiced, 
and were generally used with boiled, roast, or grilled meats. A few of these 



sauces, such as the yellow, the green, and the carnitine became so necessary 
in cooking that numerous persons took to manufacturing them by wholesale, 
and they -were hawked in the streets of Paris. 

These sauce-criers were first called sau/eiers, then vinaigriers-moustardicrs, 
and when Louis XII. united them in a body, as their business had con- 
siderably increased, they were termed sauciers-nwutardicrs-vinair/riers, distillers 
of brandy and spirits of wine, and buffetiers (from buffet, a sideboard). 

But very soon the corporation became divided, no doubt from the force of 
circumstances; and on one side we find the distillers, and on the other the 

Fig. 122. — The Cook, drawn and engraved, in the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

master-cooks and cooks, or porte-chapes, as they were called, because, when 
they carried on their business of cooking, they covered their dishes with a 
chape, that is, a cope or tin cover (Fig. 122), so as to keep them warm. 

The list of sauces of the fourteenth century, given by the " Menagier do 
Paris," is most complicated ; but, on examining the receipts, it becomes 
clear that the variety of those preparations, intended to sharpen the appetite, 
resulted principally from the spicy ingredients with which they were 
flavoured ; and it is here worthy of remark that pepper, in these days ex- 
clusively obtained from America, was known and generally used long before 

i 06 


the time of Columbus. It is mentioned in a document of the time of 
Clotaire III. (660) ; and it is clear, therefore, that before the discovery of 
the New "World pepper and spices were imported into Europe from the East. 
Mustard, which was an ingredient in so many dishes, was cultivated and 
manufactured in the thirteenth century in the neighbourhood of Dijon and 


According to a popular adage, garlic was the medicine (theriaque) of 
peasants ; town-people for a long time greatly appreciated aillee, which was 
a. sauce made with garlic, and sold ready prepared in the streets of Paris. 

The custom of using anchovies as a flavouring is also very ancient. This 
was also done with botargue and ccwial, two sorts of side-dishes, which consisted 
of fishes' eggs, chiefly mullet and sturgeon, properly salted or dried, and mixed 
with fresh or pickled olives. The olives for the use of the lower orders were 
brought from Languedoc and Provence, whereas those for the rich were im- 
ported from Spain and some from Syria. It was also from the south of France 
that the rest of the kingdom was supplied with olive oil, for which, to this 
day, those provinces have preserved their renown ; but as early as the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries oil of walnuts was brought from the centre of France 
to Paris, and this, although cheaper, was superseded by oil extracted from 
the poppy. 

Truffles, though known and esteemed by the ancients, disappeared from 
the gastronomic collection of our forefathers. It was only in the fourteenth 
century that they were again introduced, but evidently without a knowledge 
of their culinary qualities, since, after being preserved in vinegar, they were 
soaked in hot water, and afterwards served up in butter. We may also 
here mention sorrel and the common mushroom, which were used in cooking 
during the Middle Ages. 

On the strength of the old proverb, " Sugar has never spoiled sauce," 
sugar was put into all sauces which were not plquantes, and generally some 
perfumed water was added to them, such as rose-water. This was made in 
great quantities by exposing to the sun a basin full of water, covered over by 
another basin of glass, under which was a little vase containing rose-leaves. 
This rose-water was added to all stews, pastries, and beverages. It is very 
doubtful as to the period at which white lump sugar became known in the 
West. However, in an account of the house of the Dauphin Viennois (1333) 
mention is made of "white sugar;" and the author of the " Menagier de 



Paris" frequently speaks of this white sugar, which, before the discovery, or 
rather colonisation, of America, was brought, ready refined, from the Grecian 
islands, and especially from Candia. 

Fig. 123.— The Issue tie Table.— Facsimile of a Woodcut in the Treatise of Christoforo di 
Messisburgo, " Banchetti composition! di Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, lo49. 

Verjuice, or green juice, which, with vinegar, formed the essential basis 
of sauces, and is now extracted from a species of green grape, which never 


ripens, was originally the juice of sorrel ; another sort was extracted by 
pounding the green blades of wheat. Vinegar was originally merely soured 
wine, as the word cin-aiijre denotes. The mode of manufacturing it by artificial 
means, in order to render the taste more pungent and the quality better, is 
very ancient. It is needless to state that it was scented by the infusion of 
herbs or flowers — roses, elder, cloves, &c. ; but it was not much before the 
sixteenth century that it was used for pickling herbs or fruits and vegetables , 
such as gherkins, onions, cucumber, purslain, &c. 

Salt, which from the remotest periods was the condiment par excellence, 
and the trade in which had been free up to the fourteenth century, became, 
from that period, the subject of repeated taxation. The levying of these 
taxes was a frequent cause of tumult amongst the people, who saw with 
marked displeasure the exigencies of the excise gradually raising the price 
of an article of primary necessity. We have already mentioned times during 
which the price of salt was so exorbitant that the rich alone could put it in 
their bread. Thus, in the reign of Francis I., it was almost as dear as 
Indian spices. 

Sweet Dishes, Desserts, &c. — In the fourteenth century, the first courses 
of a repast were called mets or assiettes ; the last, "entremets, doreures, issue de 
table, desserte, and boute-hors." 

The dessert consisted generally of baked pears, medlars, pealed walnuts, 
figs, dates, peaches, grapes, filberts, spices, and white or red sugar-plums. 

At the issue de table wafers or some other light pastry were introduced, 
which were eaten with the hypocras wine. The boute-hors, which was served 
when the guests, after having washed their hands and said grace, had passed 
into the drawing-room, consisted of spices, different from those which had 
appeared at dessert, and intended specially to assist the digestion ; and for 
this object they must have been much needed, considering that a repast lasted 
several hours. Whilst eating these spices they drank Grenache, Malmsey, 
or aromatic wines (Fig. 123). 

It was only at the banquets and great repasts that sweet dishes and dorures 
appeared, and they seem to have been introduced for the purpose of exhibiting 
the power of the imagination and the talent in execution of the master-cook. 

The dorures consisted of jellies of all sorts and colours ; swans, pea- 
cocks, bitterns, and herons, on gala feasts, were served in full feather 
on a raised platform in the middle of the table, and hence the name of 



"raised dishes." As for the side-dishes, properly so culled, the long list 
collected in the " Menagier " shows us thai they wore served at table indis- 
criminately, for stuffed chickens at times followed hashed porpoise in sauce, 
lark pies succeeded lamb sausages, and piko's-eggs fritters appeared after 
orange preserve. 

At a later period the luxury of side-dishes consisted in the quantity and 
in the variety of the pastry; Rabelais names sixteen different worts atone 
repast; Tailleveiit mentions pastry called covered pastry, Bourboniiaise pastry, 
double-faced pastry, pear pastry, and apple pastry ; Platina speaks of the icltite 
pastry with quince, elder flowers, rice, roses, chestnuts, &c. The fashion 
of having pastry is, however, of very ancient date, for in the hook of the 

Fig. 124.— The Table of a Baron, as laid out in the Thirteenth Century.— Miniature from tin; 
"Histoire do St. Graal" (Manuscript from the Imperial Library, Paris). 

"Proverbs," of the thirteenth century, we find that the pics of Dourlens and 
the pastry of Chartres were then in great celebrity. 

In a charter of Robert le Bouillon, Bishop of Amiens, in loll, mention 
is made of a cake composed of puff flaky paste ; these cakes, however, are 
less ancient than the firm pastry called bean cake, or king's cake, winch, 
from the earliest days of monarchy, appeared on all the tables, not only at 
the feast of the Epiphany, but also on every festive occasion. 

Amongst the dry and sweet pastries from the small oven which appeared at 
the issue de table, the first to be noticed were those made of almonds, nuts, &c, 
and such choice morsels, which were very expensive; then came the cream or 
cheesecakes, tho peflts chouse, made of butter and eggs; the iclumdis, of which 


the people were very fond, and St. Louis even allowed the bakers to cook 
them on Sundays and feast days for the poor ; wafers, which are older than 
the thirteenth century ; and lastly the oublies, which, under the names of 
nieules, esterets, and supplications, gave rise to such an extensive trade that 
a corporation was established in Paris, called the oublayeurs, oublayers, or 
oublieux, whose statutes directed that none should bo admitted to exercise the 
trade unless he was able to make in one day 500 large oublies, 800 supplications, 
and 200 esterets. 


We have had to treat elsewhere of the rules and regulations of the 
repasts under the Merovingian and Carlovingian kings. We have also 
spoken of the table-service of the thirteenth century (see chapter on "Private 
Life"). The earliest author who has left us any documents on this curious 
subject is that excellent bourgeois to whom we owe the "Menagier de Paris." 
He describes, for instance, in its fullest details, a repast which was given in 
the fourteenth century by the Abbe de Lagny, to the Bishop of Paris, the 
President of the Parliament, the King's attorney and advocate, and other 
members of his council, in all sixteen guests. We find from this account that 
" my lord of Paris, occupying the place of honour, was, in consequence of his 
rank, served on covered dishes by three of his squires, as was the custom for 
the King, the: royal princes, the dukes, and peers ; that Master President, 
who was seated by the side of the bishop, was also served by one of his own 
servants, but on uncovered dishes, and the other guests were seated at table 
according to the order indicated by their titles or charges." 

The bill of fare of this feast, which was given on a fast day, is the more 
worthy of attention, in that it proves to us what numerous resources cookery 
already possessed. This was especially the case as regards fish, notwithstand- 
ing that the transport of fresh sea-fish was so difficult, owing to the bad state 
of the roads. 

First, a quarter of a. pint of Grenache was given to each guest on sitting 
down, then " hot eichaudes, roast apples with white sugar-plums upon them, 
roasted figs, sorrel and watercress, and rosemary." 

" Soups. — A rich soup, composed of six trout, six tenches, white herring, 
freshwater eels, salted twenty-four hours, and three whiting, soaked twelve 
hours ; almonds, ginger, saffron, cinnamon powder and sweetmeats. 



"Salt-water Fish. — Soles, gurnets, congers, turbots, and salmon. 

" Fresh-water Fish. — Lu.r faudis (pike with roc), carps from the Marne, 

"Side-Dishes. — Lampreys a Ik bwe, orange-apples (one for each guest), 
porpoise with sauee, mackerel, soles, bream, and shad a In eameline, with 
verjuice, rice and fried almonds upon them ; sugar and apples. 

Fig. 125.— Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the Imperial Court: Cup-bearer, Cook, 
Barber, and Tailor, from a Picture in the " Triomphe de MaximiKen I," engraved by J. Eesch, 
imrgmayer, and others (1512), from Drawings by Albert Diirer. 

" Dessert. — Stewed fruit with white and vermilion sugarplums; tigs, 
dates, grapes, and filberts. 

" Hypocras for issue de table, with oublies and supplications. 

" Wines and spices compose the boute-hors." 

To this fasting repast we give by way of contrast the lull of tare at 
the nuptial feast of Master Helye, "to which forty guests were bidden on a. 
Tuesday in May, a 'day of flesh.' " 

"Soups. — Capons with white sauce, ornamented with pomegranate and 
crimson sweetmeats. 


"Roasts. — Quarter of roe-deer, goslings, young chickens, and sauces of 
orange, camcline, and verjuice. 

" Side-dishes. — Jellies of crayfish and loach ; young rabbits and pork. 

" Dessert. — Froumentee and venison. 

" Issue. — Hypocras. 

'' Boute-iioks. — Wine and spices." 

The clever editor of the " Menagier de Paris," M. le Baron Jerome 
Piehon, after giving us this curious account of the mode of living of the 
citizens of that day, thus sums up the whole arrangements for the table 
in the fourteenth century : " The different provisions necessary for food 
are usually entrusted to the squires of the kitchen, and were chosen, 
purchased, and paid for by one or more of these officials, assisted by the 
cooks. The dishes prepared by the cooks were placed, by the help of the 
esquires, on dressers in the kitchen until the moment of serving. Thence 
they were carried to the tables. Let us imagine a vast hall hung with 
tapestries and other brilliant stuffs. The tables are covered with fringed 
table-cloths, and strewn with odoriferous herbs ; one of them, called the 
Great Table, is reserved for the persons of distinction. The guests are taken 
to their seats by two butlers, who bring them water to wash. The Great Table 
is laid out by a butler, with silver salt-cellars (Figs. 126 and 127), golden 
goblets with lids fur the high personages, spoons and silver drinking 
cups. The guests eat at least certain dishes on tranchoirs, or large slices 
of thick bread, afterwards thrown into vases called couloueres (drainers). 
For the other tables the salt is placed on pieces of bread, scooped out for that 
purpose by the intendants, who are called portr-c/t/ippcs. In the hall is a 
dresser covered with plate and various kinds of wine. Two squires standing 
near this dresser give the guests clean spoons, pour out what wine they ask 
lor, and remove the silver when used ; two other squires superintend the 
conveyance of wine to the dresser; a varlet placed under their orders is 
occupied with nothing but drawing wine from the casks." At that time wine 
was not bottled, and they drew directly from the cask the amount necessary 
for the day's consumption. " The dishes, consisting of three, four, five, and 
even six courses, called mets or assiettes, are brought in by varlets and two of 
the principal squires, and in certain wedding-feasts the bridegroom walked 
in front of them. The dishes are placed on the table by an asseeur (placer), 
assisted by two servants. The latter take awav the remains at the conclusion 


] 73 

of the course, and hand them over to the squires of the kitchen who have 
charge of them. After the mefs or nssiettes the table-cloths are changed, 
and the entremets are then brought in. This course is the must brilliant of 
the repast, and at some ol the princely banquets the dishes arc made to 
imitate a sort of theatrical representation. It is composed of sweet dishes, 
of coloured jellies of swans, of peacocks, or of pheasants adorned with their 
feathers, having the beak and feet gilt, and placed on the middle of the table 
on a sort of pedestal. To the entremets, a course which docs not appear on 
all hills of fare, succeeds the dessert. The issue, or exit from table, is mostly 

;,J(|f«! ft';''!!'! f'liP'i!' "i [If 

Figs. 126 and 127.— Sides of an Enamelled Salt-cellar, with six facings representing the Labours 
of Hercules, made at Limoges, by Pierre Raymond, for Francis I. 

composed of hypocras and a sort of oublie called mestier ; or, in summer, 
when hypocras is out of season on account of its strength, of apples, cheeses, 
and sometimes of pastries and sweetmeats. The boute-hors (wines and spices) 
end the repast. The guests then wash their hands, say grace, and pass into 
the chambre de parement or drawing-room. The servants then sit clown and 
dine after their masters. They subsequently bring the guests wine and 
epices de chambre, after which each retires home. ' 

But all the pomp and magnificence of the feasts of this period would have 
appeared paltry a century later, when royal banquets were managed by 
Taillevent, head cook to Charles VII. The historian of French cookery, 


Legrand d'Aussy, thus describes a great feast given in 1455 by the Count of 
Anjou, third son of Louis II., King of Sicily : — 

" On the table was placed a centre-piece, which represented a green 
lawn, surrounded with large peacocks' feathers and green branches, to 
which were tied violets and other sweet-smelling flowers. In the middle 
of this lawn a fortress was placed, covered with silver. This was hollow, 
and formed a sort of cage, in which several live birds were shut up, their 
tufts and feet being gilt. On its tower, which was gilt, three banners 
were placed, one bearing the arms of the count, the two others those of 
Mesdemoiselles de Chateaubrun and de Villecpiier, in whose honour the feast 
was given. 

" The first course consisted of a civet of hare, a quarter of stag which 
had been a night in salt, a stuffed chicken, and a loin of veal. The two 
last dishes were covered with a German sauce, with gilt sugar-plums, and 

pomegranate seeds At each end, outside the green lawn, was an 

enormous pie, surmounted with smaller pies, which formed a crown. The 
crust of the large ones was silvered all round and gilt at the top; each 
contained a whole roc-deer, a gosling, three capons, six chickens, ten 
pigeons, one young rabbit, and, no doubt to serve as seasoning or stuffing, 
a minced loin of veal, two pounds of fat, and twenty-six hard-boiled eggs, 
covered with saffron and flavoured with cloves. For the three following 
courses, there was a roe-deer, a pig, a sturgeon cooked in parsley and 
vinegar, and covered with powdered ginger ; a kid, two goslings, twelve 
chickens, as many pigeons, six young rabbits, two herons, a leveret, a fat 
capon stuffed, four chickens covered with yolks of eggs and sprinkled 
with powder de Due (spice), a wild boar, some wafers (darioles), and stars; 
a jelly, part white and part red, representing the crests of the three 
above-mentioned persons ; cream with Due powder, covered with fennel seeds 
preserved in sugar ; a white cream, cheese in slices, and strawberries ; and 
lastly, plums stewed in rose-water. Besides these four courses, there was a 
fifth, entirely composed of the prepared wines then in vogue, and of preserves. 
These consisted of fruits and various sweet pastries. The pastries represented 
stags and swans, to the necks of which were suspended the arms of the Count 
of Anjou and those of the two young ladies." 

In great houses, dinner was announced by the sound of the hunting-horn ; 
this is what Froissard calls corner I'assiette, but which was at an earlier period 



called cor ne r Yean, because it was the custom to wash the hinds before sitting 
down to table as well as on leaving the dining-room. For these ablutions- 





Fig. 128. — Knife-handles in Sculp- 
tured Ivor}", Sixteenth Century 
(Collection of M. Becker, of 
Frankfort) . 

Fig. 129.— Nut-crackers, in Boxwood, Sixteenth Century (Collection of M. Achille Jubiual). 

scented water, and especially rose-water, was used, brought in ewers of precious 
and delicately wrought metals, by pages or squires, who handed them to the 


ladies in silver basins. It was at about this period, that is, in the times of 
chivalry, that the custom of placing the guests by couples was introduced, 
generally a gentleman and lady, each couple having but one cup and one 
plate ; hence the expression, to eat from the same plate. 

Historians relate that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, at certain 
o-ala feasts, the dishes were brought in by servants in full armour, mounted on 
caparisoned horses ; but this is a custom exclusively attached to chivalry. As 
early as those days, powerful and ingenious machines were in use, which 
lowered from the story above, or raised from that below, ready-served tables, 
which were made to disappear after use as if by enchantment. 

At that period the table service of the wealthy required a considerable 
staff of retainers and varlets ; and, at a later period, this number was much 
increased. Thus, for instance, when Louis of Orleans went on a diplomatic 
mission to Germany from his brother Charles VI., this prince, in order that 
France might be worthily represented abroad, raised the number of his house- 
hold to more than two hundred and fifty persons, of whom about one hundred 
were retainers and table attendants. Olivier de la Marche, who, in his 
"Memoires," gives the most minute details of the ceremonial of the court 
of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, tells us that the table service was 
as extensive as in the other great princely houses. 

This extravagant and ruinous pomp fell into disuse during the reigns of 
Louis XL, Charles VIII. , and Louis XII., but reappeared in that of Francis I. 
This prince, after his first wars in Italy, imported the cookery and the gas- 
tronomic luxury of that country, where the art of good living, especially in 
Venice, Florence, and Rome, had reached the highest degree of refinement 
and magnificence. Henry II. and Francis II. maintained the magnificence 
of their royal tables ; but after them, notwithstanding the soft effeminacy of 
the manners at court, the continued wars which Henry III. and Charles IX. 
had to sustain in their own states against the Protestants and the League, 
necessitated a considerable economy in the households and tables of those 

" It was only by fits and starts," says Brantome, " that one was well fed 
during this reign, for very often circumstances prevented the proper pre- 
paration of the repasts ; a thing much disliked by the courtiers, who prefer 
open table to be kept at both court and with the army, because it then costs 
them nothing." Henry IV. was neither fastidious nor greedy; we must 



therefore come down to the reign of Louis XTIT. to find a vestige of the 
splendour of the banquets of Francis I. 

From the establishment of the Franks in Gaul down to the fifteenth 
century inclusive, there were but two meals a. day; people dined at ten 
o'clock in the morning, and supped at four in the afternoon. In the sixteenth 
century they put back dinner one hour anil supper three hours, to which 
many people objected. Hence the old proverb : — 

' Lever a six, diner a dix, 
Souper a six, eoueker a dix, 
Fait vivre l'homme dix fois dix." 

("To rise at six, dine at ten, 
Sup at six, to l>ed at ten, 
Makes man live ten times ten.") 


Fjo-. 131— Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of Tonnerre. 


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. 

Y the general term hunting is in- 
cluded the three distinct branches of 
an art, or it may be called a science, 
which dates its origin from the earliest 
times, hut which was particularly 
esteemed in the Middle Ages, and was 
especially cultivated in the glorious 
days of chivalry. 

Venery, which is the earliest, is 
defined by M. Elzear Blaze as "the 
science of snaring, taking, or killing 
one particular animal from amongst a herd." Hatching came next. This 
was not only the art of hunting with the falcon, but, that of training birds of 
prey to hunt feathered game. Lastly, Foisellerie (fowling), which, according 
to the author of several well-known works on the subject we are discussing, 
had originally no other object than that of protecting the crops and fruits 
from birds and other animals whose nature it was to feed on them. 

Venery will be first considered. Sportsmen always pride themselves in 
placing Xenophon, the general, philosopher, and historian, at the head of 
sporting writers, although his treatise on the chase (translated from the Greek 
into Latin under the title of " De Venatione "), which gives excellent advice 
respecting the training of dogs, only speaks of traps and nets for capturing 


lals. Al 

st the Greeks Arrian and Oppian, and amongst the 

//c.xTJxa. , 79 

Romans, Gratfus Faliscusand Ncmesianus, wrote on the same subject. Their 
works, however, except in a few isolated or scattered passages, do not contain 
anything about vencry properly so called, and the first historical information 
on the subject is to be found in the records of the seventh century. 

Long after that period, however, they still hunted, as it were, at random, 
attacking the first animal they met. The sports of Charlemagne, for instance, 
were almost always of this description. On some occasions they killed animals 
of all sorts by thousands, after bavin!;- tracked and driven them into an enclosure 
composed of cloths or nets. 

This illustrious Emperor, although usually at war in all parts of Europe, 
never missed an opportunity of hunting: so much so that it might be said that 
he rested himself by galloping through the forests. He was on these occa- 
sions not only followed by a large number of huntsmen and attendants of his 
household, but he was accompanied by bis wife and daughters, mounted on 
magnificent coursers, and surrounded by a numerous and elegant court, who 
vied with each other in displaying their skill and courage in attacking the 
fiercest animals. 

It is even stated that Aix-la-Chapelle owes its origin to a hunting adven- 
ture of Charlemagne. The Emperor one day while chasing a stag required 
to cross a brook which came in his path, but immediately his horse had set 
his foot in the water he pulled it out again and began to limp as if it were 
hurt. His noble rider dismounted, and on feeling the foot found it was 
quite hot. This induced him to put his hand into the water, which he found 
to be almost boiling. On that very spot therefore be caused a chapel to be 
erected, in the shape of a horse's hoof. The town was afterwards built, and 
to this day the spring of hot mineral water is enclosed under a rotunda, the 
shape of which reminds one of the old legend of Charlemagne and his horse. 

The sons of Charlemagne also held hunting in much esteem, and by 
degrees the art of venery was introduced and carried to great perfection. It 
was not, however, until the end of the thirteenth century that an anonymous 
author conceived the idea of writing its principal precepts m an instructive 
poem, called "Le Diet de la Chace du Cerf." In 1328 another anonymous 
writer composed the " Livre du Roy Modus," which contains the rules for 
hunting all furred animals, from the stag to the hare. Then followed other 
poets and writers of French prose, such as Gacc do la Vigne (1359), Gaston 
Phcebtis (1387), and Hardouin, lord of Fontaine-Guerin ( 1 394). None of these, 

I 80 


however, wrote exclusively on veneiy, but described the different sports known 
in their day. Towards 1340, Alphonse XL, king of Castile, caused a book on 

Fig. 132.— Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of Yenery.— Facsimile of a Miniature of " Phoebus 
and his Staff for hunting Wild Animals and Birds of Prey " (Manuscript, Fifteenth Century, 
National Library of Paris). 

hunting to be compiled for his use ; but it was not so popular as the instruction 
of Gaston Phoebus (Fig. 132). If hunting with hounds is known everywhere 



by the French name of the chase, it is because the honour of having organized 
it into a system, if not of having originated it, is duo to the early French 
sporting authors, who were able to form a code of rules for it. This also 
accounts for so many of the technical terms now in use in venery Vicing of 
French origin, as they are no others than those adopted by these ancient 
authors, whose works, so to speak, have perpetuated them. 

The curious miniatures which accompany the text in the original manu- 
script of Gaston Phoebus, and which have been reproduced in nearly all the 
ancient copies of this celebrated manuscript, give most distinct and graphic 

if, ^T\ 


\" M 


Fig. 133. — '■ How to carry a Cloth to approach Boasts."- Fac-simile of a Miniature in tho 
Manuscript of Phu'bus (Fifteenth Century). 

ideas of the various modes of hunting. We find, for instance, that the use of 
an artificial cow for approaching wild-fowl was understood at that time, the 
only difference being that a model was used more like a horse than a cow 
(Fig. 133) ; we also see sportsmen shooting at bears, wild boars, stags, and 
such live animals with arrows having sharp iron points, intended to enter 
deep into the flesh, notwithstanding the thickness of the fur and the creature's 
hard skin. In the case of the hare, however, the missile had a heavy, massive 
end, probably made of lead, which stunned him without piercing his body 
(Fig. 134). In other cases the sportsman is represented with a cross-bow 
seated in a cart, all covered up with boughs, by which plan he was supposed 



to approach the prey without alarming it any more than a swinging branch 
would do (Fig. 135). 

Gaston Phcebus is known to have been one of the bravest knights of his 
time ; and, after fighting, he considered hunting as his greatest delight. 
Somewhat ingenuously he writes of himself as a hunter, " that he doubts 
having any superior." Like all his contemporaries, he is eloquent as to the 
moral effect of his favourite pastime. " Bj r hunting," he says, " one avoids 
the sin of indolence ; and, according to our faith, he who avoids the seven 
mortal sins will be saved ; therefore the good sportsman will be saved." 

From the earliest ages sportsmen placed themselves under the protection 
of some special deity. Among the Greeks and Romans it was Diana and 


Fig. 131. — " How to allure the Hare." — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of 
Phoebus (Fifteenth Century). 

Phoebe. The Gauls, who had adopted the greater number of the gods and 
goddesses of Home, invoked the moon when they sallied forth to war or to 
the chase ; but, as soon as they penetrated the sacred obscurity of the forests, 
they appealed more particularly to the goddess Ardhuina, whose name, of 
unknown origin, has probably since been applied to the immense well-stocked 
forests of Ardenne or Ardennes. They erected in the depths of the woods 
monstrous stone figures in honour of this goddess, such as the heads of stags 
on the bodies of men or women ; and, to propitiate her during the chase, 
they hung round these idols the feet, the skins, and the horns of the beasts 
they killed. Cernunnos, who was always represented with a human head 
surmounted by stags' horns, had an altar even in Lutetia, which was, no 



doubt, in consequence of the great woods which skirted the hanks of the 

The Gallic Cernunnos, which we also find amongst the Romans, since 
Ovid mentions the votary stags' horns, continued to bo worshipped to a 
certain extent after the establishment of the Christian religion. In the 
fifth century, Germain, an intrepid hunter, who afterwards became Bishop of 
Auxerre, possessed not far from his residence an oak of enormous diameter, 



; i 





Fig. 13J.-"Hon' to take a Cart to allure Beasts."— Fac-simile of a Miniature in the 
Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century). 

a thorough Cernunnos, which he hung with the skins and other portions of 
animals he had killed in the chase. In some countries, where the Cernunnos 
remained an object of veneration, everybody bedecked it in the same way. 
The largest oak to be found in the district, was chosen on which to suspend 
the trophies both of warriors and of hunters; and, at a more recent period, 
sportsmen used to hang outside their doors stags' heads, boars' feet, birds ot 
prey, and other trophies, a custom which evidently was a relic of the one 
referred to. 

On pagan idolatry being abandoned, hunters used to have a presiding 



genius or protector, whom they selected from amongst the saints most in 
renown. Some chose St. Germain d'Auxerre, who had himself been a 
sportsman ; others St. Martin, who had teen a soldier before he became 
Bishop of Tours. Eventually they all agreed to place themselves under 
the patronage of St. Hubert, Bishop of Liege, a renowned hunter of the 
eighth century. This saint devoted himself to a religious life, after one day 
having encountered a miraculous stag whilst hunting in the woods, which 

Fig. 130. — " [low to shout and blow Horns." — Fae-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of 

Phoebus (Fifteenth Century). 

appeared to him as bearing between his horns a luminous image of our 
Saviour. At first the feast of St. Hubert was celebrated four times a year, 
namely, at the anniversaries of his conversion and death, and on the two 
occasions on which his relics were exhibited. At the celebration of each 
of these feasts a large number of sportsmen in "fine apparel" came from 
great distances with their horses and dogs. There was, in fact, no magni- 
ficence or pomp deemed too imposing to be displayed, both by the kings and 
nobles, in honour of the patron-saint of hunting (Fig. 136.) 



C/j C 

fa « 



Hunters and sportsmen in those days formed brotherhoods, which had their 
rank defined at public ceremonials, and especially in processions. In 1455, 
Gerard, Puke of Cloves and Burgravo of Ravensberg, created the order of the 
Knights of St. Hubert, into which those of noble blood only were admitted. The 
insignia consisted of a gold or silver chain formed of hunting horns, to which 
was hung a small likeness of the pa (run-saint in the act of (hung homage to our 
Saviour's image as it shone on the head of a stag. It was popularly believed 
that the Knights of St. Hubert had the power of curing madness, which, for 
some unknown reason, never showed itself in a pack of hounds. This, however, 

Fig. 137. — German Sportsman, drawn and engraved by J. Amman In the Sixteenth Century. 

was not the only superstitious belief attached to the noble and adventurous 
occupations of the followers of St. Hubert. Amongst a number of old 
legends, which mostly belong to Germany (Fig. 137), mention is made of 
hunters who sold their souls to the devil in exchange for some enchanted 
arrow which never missed its aim, and which reached game at extraordinary 
distances. Mention is also made in these legends of various animals which, 
on being pursued by the hunters, were miraculously waved by throwing 
themselves into the arms of some saint, or by running into some holy 
sanctuary. There were besides knights who, having hunted all their 

1! B 


lives, believed that they were to continue the same occupation in another 
world. An account is given in history of the apparition of a fiery phantom 
to Charles IX. in the forest of Lyons, and also the ominous meeting of 
Henry IV. with the terrible grand-veneur in the forest of Fontainebleau. We 
may account for these strange tales from the fact that hunting formerly con- 
stituted a sort of freemasonry, with its mysterious rites and its secret language. 
The initiated used particular signs of recognition amongst themselves, and 
they also had lucky and unlucky numbers, emblematical colours, &c. 

The more dangerous the sport the more it was indulged in by military 
men. The Chronicles of the Monk of Saint-Gall describe an adventure 
which befell Charlemagne on the occasion of his setting out with his hunts- 
men and hounds in order to chase an enormous bear which was the terror of 
the Vosges. The bear, after having disabled numerous dogs and hunters, 
found himself face to face with the Emperor, who alone dared to stand up 
before him. A fierce combat ensued on the summit of a rock, in which both 
were locked together in a fatal embrace. The contest ended by the death of 
the bear, Charles striking him with his dagger and hurling him down the 
precipice. < hi this the hills resounded with the cry of " Vive Charles le 
Grand! " from the numerous huntsmen and others who had assembled; and 
it is said that this was the first occasion on which the companions of the 
intrepid monarch gave him the title of Grand (Magnus), so from that time 
King Charles became King Charlemagne. 

This prince was most jealous of his rights of hunting, which he would 
waive to no one. For a long time he refused permission to the monks of the 
Abbey of St. Denis, whom he nevertheless held in great esteem, to have some 
stags killed which were destroying their forests. It was only on condition 
that the flesh of these animals would serve as food to the monks of inferior 
order, and that their hides should be used for binding the missals, that he 
eventually granted them permission to kill the offending animals (Fig- 138). 

If we pass from the ninth to the thirteenth century, we find that Louis IX., 
king of France, was as keen a sportsman and as brave a warrior as any 
of his ancestors. lie was, indeed, as fond of hunting as of war, and 
during his first crusade an opportunity occurred to him of hunting the 
lion. " As soon as he began to know the country of Cesarca," says Joinville, 
" the King set to work with his people to hunt lions, so that they captured 
many ; but in doing so they incurred great bodily danger. The mode of 


,s 7 

liking' them was (his: tln-y pm'sued tlicni on the swiftest horses. When 
they came near one tlicy shot a boll or arrow at him, and the animal, feeling 
himself wounded, ran at the first person he could see, who immediately turned 
his horse's head and tied as fast as he could. During his (light he dropped a. 
portion of his clothing, which the lion caught up and (ore, thinking it was 
the person who had injured him ; and whilst the lion was thus engaged the 
hunters again approached the infuriated animal and shot more holts and 
arrows at him. Soon the lion left the cloth and madly rushed at some 
other hunter, who adopted the same strategy as before. Tin's was repeated 

Fig. 138. — "Nature and Appearance of Deur, and how they can be hunted with Dogs."- 
Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Livre du Ruy Modus." — Manuscript of the Fourteenth 
Century (National Library of Paris). 

until the animal succumbed, becoming exhausted by the wounds he had 

Notwithstanding the passion which this king had for hunting, he was the 
first to grant leave to the bourgeoisie to enjoy the sport. The condition he 
made with them was that they should always give a. haunch of any animal 
killed to the lord of the soil. It is to this that we must trace the origin of 
giving the animal's foot to the huntsman or to the person who has the lead 
of the hunting party. 

Louis XL, however, did not at all act in this liberal manner, and although 
it might have been supposed that the incessant wars and political intrigues in 
which ho was constantly engaged would have given him no time for amuse- 
ments of this kind, yet he was nevertheless the keenest sportsman of his day. 

1 88 HUNTING. 

This tyrant of the Castle of Plessis-les- Tours, who was always miserly, except 
m matters of hunting', in which he was most lavish, forbade even the higher 
classes to hunt under penalty of hanging. To ensure the execution of his 
severe orders, he had all the castles as well as the cottages searched, and any 
net, engine, or sporting arm found was immediately destroyed. His only son, 
the heir to the throne, was not exempted from these laws. Shut up in the 
Castle of Amboise, he had no permission to leave it, for it was the will of 
the King that the young prince should remain ignorant of the noble exercises 
of chivalry. One day the Dauphin prayed his governor, M. du Bouchaare 
with so much earnestness to give him an idea of hunting, that this noble 
consented to make an excursion into the neighbouring wood with him. The 
King, however, managed to find it out, and Du Bouchage had great difficulty 
in keeping his head on his shoulders. 

One of the best ways of pleasing Louis XL was to offer him some present 
relating to his favourite pastime, either pointers, hounds, falcons, or varlets 
who were adepts in the art of venery or hawking (Figs. 139 and 140). 
When the cunning monarch became old and infirm, in order to make his 
enemies believe that he was still young and vigorous, he sent messengers 
everywhere, even to the most remote countries, to purchase horses, dogs, and 
falcons, for which, according to, he paid large sums (Fig. 141). 

On his death, the young prince, Charles YIIL, succeeded him, and he 
seems to have had an innate taste for hunting, and soon made up for lost time 
and the privation to which his father had subjected him. lie hunted daily, and 
generously allowed the nobles to do the same. It is scarcely necessary to say 
that these were not slow in indulging in the privilege thus restored to them, 
and which was one of their most ancient pastimes and occupations ; for it 
must be remembered that, in those days of small intellectual culture, hunting 
must have been a great, if not at times the onby, resource against idleness 
and the monotony of country life. 

Everything which related to sport again became the fashion amongst the 
youth of the nobility, and their chief occupation when not engaged in war. 
They continued as formerly to invent every sort of sporting device. For 
example, they obtained from other countries traps, engines, and hunting- 
weapons; they introduced into France at great expense foreign animals, which 
they took great pains in naturalising as game or in training as auxiliaries in 
hunting After having imported the reindeer from Lapland, which did not 



succeed in. their temperate climate, and the pheasant from Tartary, with, which 
they stocked the woods, they imported with greater success the panther and 
the leopard from Africa, which were used for furred game as the hawk was 
for feathered game. The mode of hunting with these animals was as follows : 
The sportsmen, preceded by their dogs, rode across country, each with a 
leopard sitting behind him on his saddle. When the dugs had started the 
game the leopard jumped off the saddle and sprang after it, and as soon as it 
was caught the hunters threw the leopard a piece of raw flesh, for which he 
gave up the prey ami remounted behind his master (Fig. 1T2). 

Lotus XL, Charles VIII. , and Louis XII. often hunted thus. The 

X^^" J 

Fis. 139. 

The Way to catch Squirrels on the Ground in the Woods."— Facsimile of a Miniature 
in the Manuscript of the " Livre du Roy Jlodus " (Fourteenth Century) . 

leopards, which formed a part of the royal venery, were kept in an enclosure 
of the Castle of Amboise, which still exists near the gate des Lions, so called, 
no doubt, on account of these sporting and carnivorous animals being mistaken 
for lions by the common people. There were, however, always lions in the 
menageries of the kings of France. 

Francis I. was quite as fond of hunting as any of his predecessors. His 
innate taste for sport was increased during his travels in Italy, where he lived 
with princes who displayed great splendour in their hunting equipages. He 
even acquired the name of the Father of Sportsmen. His netting establishment 
alone, consisted of one captain, one lieutenant, twelve mounted huntsmen, 


I | M |'| sis varlets to attend the 
bloodhounds ; six whips, 
who had under their 
charge sixty hounds; and 
one hundred bowmen on 
foot, carrying large stakes 
for fixing the nets and 
tents, which were car- 
ried by fifty six-horsed 
chariots. He was much 
pleased when ladies fol- 
lowed the chase ; and 
amongst those who were 
most inclined to share 
its pleasures, its toils, 
and even its perils, was 
Catherine de Aledicis, then lJauphine, who was distinguished 
for her agility and her graceful appearance on horseback, and 
who became a thorough sportswoman. 

The taste for hunting having become very general, and 
the art being considered as the most noble occupation to which 
persons could devote themselves, it is not surprising to find 
sporting works composed by writers of the greatest renown 
and of the highest rank. The learned William Bude, whom 
Erasmus called the wonder of Firmer, dedicated to the children 
of Francis I. the second book of his " Philologie," which con- 
tains a treatise on stag-hunting. This treatise, originally 
tin, was afterwards translated into French by 
order of Charles IX., who was acknowledged 
to be one of the boldest and most scientific 
hunters of his time. An extraordinary feat, 
which has never been imitated by any one, 
is recorded of him, and that was, that alone, 

Fig. 140 —" The Way of catching Far- n horseback and without dogs, he hunted 
fridges with an Osier is et-work Appa- n , rrn ., rn T1 -. ,, ,1 

° ,, ,, . ., , . li down a staff. The " Chasse Eoyale, the 

ratus. — Jbac-siniue 01 Miniature in ° J 

the "Livre du liny Modus." authorship of which is attributed to him, is 




replete with scientific information. "Wolf- hunting'," a work by (lie celebrated 
Glamorgan, anil "Venery," by Hu Fouilloux, were dedicated to Charles IX., 

Fig-. Ml.—" Kennel in which Dogs should live, and how they should he kept."- Fac-simile of a 
Miniature in Manuscript of Phei'bns (Fifteenth Century). 

and a great number of special treatises on such subjects appeared m his 

His brother, the effeminate Henry III., disliked hunting, as be considered 
it too fatio'uincr and too dangerous. 


On the other hand, according to Sully, Henry TV., le Bearnais, who 
learned hunting in early youth in the Pyrenees, "loved all kinds of sport, 
and, ahove all, the most fatiguing and adventurous pursuits, such as those 
after wolves, bears, and boars." lie never missed a chance of hunting, "even 
when in face of an enemy. If he knew a stag to be near, he found time to 
hunt it," and we find in the " Memoirs of Sully " that the King hunted the 
day after the famous battle of Ivry. 

One day, when he was only King of Navarre, he invited the ladies of Pan 
to come and see a bear-hunt. Happily they refused, for on that occasion 
their nerves would have been put to a serious test. Two bears killed two of 
the horses, and several bowmen were hugged to death by the ferocious 
animals. Another bear, although pierced in several places, and bavin"- six 
or seven pike-heads in his body, charged eight men who wore stationed on 
the top of a rock, and the whole of them with the bear were all dashed to 
pieces down the precipice. The only point in which Louis XIII. resembled 
his father was his love of the chase, for during his reign hunting continued 
in France, as well as in other countries, to be a favourite royal pastime. 

We have remarked that St. Germain d'Auxcrre, who at a certain period was 
the patron of sportsmen, made hunting his habitual relaxation. He devoted 
himself to it with great keenness in his youth, before ho became bishop, that 
is, when he was Duke of Auxerre and general of the troops of the provinces. 
Subsequently, when against his will he was raised to the episcopal dignity, 
not only did he give up all pleasures, but he devoted himself to the strictest 
religious life. Unfortunately, in those days, all churchmen did not under- 
stand, as he did, that the duties of their holy vocation wore not consistent 
with these pastimes, for, in the year 507, we find that councils and synods 
forbade priests to hunt. In spite of this, however, the ancient historians 
relate that several noble prelates, yielding to the customs of the times, 
indulged in hunting the stag and flying the falcon. 

It is related in history that some of the most illustrious popes were also 
great lovers of the chase, namely, Julius II., Leo X., and, previously to them, 
Pius II., who, before becoming Pope, amongst other literary and scientific 
works, wrote a Latin treatise on vencry under his Christian names, Hhreas 
Silvius. It is easy to understand how it happened that sports formerly 
possessed such attractions for ecclesiastical dignitaries. In early life they 
acquired the tastes and habits of people of their rank, and they were accord- 



ingly extremely jealous of the rights of chase in their domains. Although 
Pope Clement A'., in his celebrated " Institutions." called " Clementines," 

Fig. 142.— Hunting with the Leopard, from ajStamp of Jean Stradan (Sixteenth Century). 

had formally forbidden the monks to hunt, there were few who did not 
evade the canonical prohibition by pursuing furred game, and that without 

c c 



considering that they were violating the laws of the Church. The papal edict 
permitted the monks and priests to limit under certain circumstances, and 
especially where rabbits or beasts of prey increased so much as to damage 
the crops. It can easily be imagined that such would always be the 
case at a period when the people were so strictly forbidden to destroy 

Fig. 1 13.—" How Wolves may be caught with a Snare."— Fac-simile of a Miniature in the 
Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century). 

game; and therefore hunting was practised at all seasons in the woods 
and fields in the vicinity of each abbey. The jealous peasants, not them- 
selves having the right of hunting, and who continually saw Master Abbot 
passing on his hunting excursions, said, with malice, that "the monks 
never forgot to pray for the success of the litters and nests (pro pullis et 
nidis), in order that game might always be abundant," 



If venery, as a regular science, dates from a comparatively recent period, 
it is not so with falconry, (lie lirst traces of which are lust in obscure antiquity. 
This kind of sport, which had become a, most learned and complicated art, 
was the delight of the nobles of the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance 
period. It was in such esteem that a nobleman or his lady never appeared 
in public without a hawk mi the wrist as a mark of dignity (Fig. 147). 

Fig. 144. — " How Bears and other Beasts maybe caught with a Dart," — Fac-aimile of a Miniature 
in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century). 

Even bishops and abbots entered the churches with their hunting birds, 
which they placed on the steps of the altar itself during the service. 

The bird, bke the sword, was a distinctive mark which was inseparahlc 
from the person of gentle birth, who frequently even went to war with the 
falcon on his wrist. During the battle he would make his squire hold the 
bird, which he replaced on his gauntlet when the tight was over. In fact, it 
was forbidden by the laws of chivalry for persons to give up their birds, even 
as a ransom, should they be made prisoners ; in which case they had to let 
the noble birds fly in order that they might not share their captivity. 

The falcon to a certain degree partook of his owner's nobility ; he was, 
moreover, considered a noble bird by the laws of falconry, as were all birds 



of prey which could be trained for purposes of sport. All other birds, with- 
out distinction, were declared ignoble, and no exception was made to this 
rule by the naturalists of the Middle Ages, even in favour of the strongest 
and most magnificent, such as the eagle and vulture. According to this 

Fig. 145.— Olifant, or Hunting-horn, in Ivory (Fourteenth Century).— From an Original 

existing in England. 

capricious classification, they considered the sparrow-hawk, which was the 
smallest of the hunting birds, to rank higher than the eagle. The nick- 
name of this diminutive sporting bird was often applied to a country-gentle- 
man, who, not being able to afford to keep falcons, used the sparrow-hawk to 
capture partridges and quail. 



It was customary for gentlemen of all classes, whether sportsmen or not, 
to possess birds of some kind, " to keep up their rank," as the saying then 
was. Only the richest nobles, however, were expected to keep a regular 
falconry, that is, a collection of birds suited for taking all kinds of game, 
such as the hare, the kite, the heron, &c, as each sport not only required 
special birds, but a particular and distinctive retinue and establishment. 

Besides the cost of falcons, winch was often very great (for they were 
brought from the most distant countries, such as Sweden, Iceland, Turkey, 
and Morocco!, their rearing and training involved considerable outlay, as 


may be more readily understood from the illustrations (Figs. 148 to loo), 
showing some of the principal details of the long and difficult education which 
had to be given them. 

To succeed in making the falcon obey the whistle, the voice, and the 
signs of the falconer was the highest aim of the art, and it was only by the 
exercise of much patience that the desired result was obtained. All birds 
of prey, when used for sport, received the generic name of falcon ; and amongst 
them were to be found the gerfalcon, the saker-hawk, the lanner, the merlin, 



and the sparrow-hawk. The male birds were smaller than the females, 
and were called tiercelet — this name, however, more particularly applied to 
the gosshawk or the largest kind of male hawk, whereas the males of the 

Fig. 147.— A Noble of Provence (Fifteenth Century).— Bonnart's " Costumes from the Tenth 

to the Sixteenth Century." 

above-mentioned were called lancrct, sacret, emouchct. Generally the male 
birds were used for partridges and quail, and the female birds for the hare, 
the heron, and crane. Oi&eaim de poing, or hand-birds, was the name given to 



the gosshawk, common hawk, the gerfalcon, and the merlin, they 
returned to the hand of their master alter having pursued game. The lanner, 
sparrow-hawk, and salver-hawk were called oiseaujc do leure, from the fact 
that it was always necessary to entice them back again. 

The lure was an imitation of a bird, made of red cloth, that it might be 
more easily seen from a distance. It was stuffed so that the falcon could settle 
easily on it, and furnished with the wings of a. partridge, duck, or heron, 
according to circumstances. The falconer swung his mock bird like a, sling, 
and whistled as lie did so, and the falcon, accustomed to find a piece of flesh 
attached to the lure, flew down in order to obtain it, and was thus secured. 

Fig. 148. — Kins; Modus teaching the; Art of Falconry. — Fac-simile ol a Miniature in the 
Manuscript of " Livre da Hoy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

The trainers of birds divided them into two kinds, namely, the nitiis, or 
simple bird, which had been taken from the nest, and the wild bird (Iiayard), 
captured when full-grown. The education of the former was naturally very 
much the easier, but they succeeded in taming both classes, and even the 
most rebellious were at last subdued by depriving them of sleep, by keeping 
away the light from them, by coaxing them with the voice, by patting 
them, by giving them choice food, &c. 

Regardless of his original habits, (lie bird was first accustomed to have no 
fear of men, horses, and dogs, lie was afterwards fastened to a string by 
one leg, and, being allowed to fly a short distance, was recalled to the lure, 


where he always found a dainty bit of food. After he had been thus exercised 
for several months, a wounded partridge was let loose that he might catch 
it near the falconer, who immediately took it from him before he could tear 
it to pieces. When he appeared sufficiently tame, a quail or partridge, pre- 
viously stripped of a few feathers so as to prevent it flying properly, was put 
in his way as before. If he was wanted for hunting hares, a stuffed hare was 
dragged before him, inside of which was a live chicken, whose head and liver 
was his reward if he did his work well. Then they tried him with a hare 
whose fore-leg was broken in order to ensure his being quickly caught. 
For the kite, they placed two hawks together on the same perch, so as to 
accustom them peaceably to live and hunt together, for if they fought 

Fig. 149. — Falconers dressing their Birds. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of 
" Livre du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

with one another, as strange birds were apt to do, instead of attacking the 
kite, the sport would of course have failed. At first a hen of the colour of 
a kite was given them to tight with. When they had mastered this, a real 
kite was used, which was tied to a string and his claws and beak were filed 
so as to prevent him from wounding the young untrained falcons. The 
moment they had secured their prey, they were called off it and given 
chickens' flesh to eat on the lure. The same system was adojited for hunting 
the heron or crane (Fig. 159). 

It will be seen that, in order to train birds, it was necessary for a large 
number of the various kinds of game to be kept on the premises, and for each 
branch of sport a regular establishment was required. In falconry, as in 

Ill 'NTING. 

venerr, great care was taken to secure that a lard should continue at one 
object of prey until he had secured it, that is to say, it was most essential to 
teach it not to leave the game he was alter in order to pursue another which 
might come in his way. 

To establish a falconry, therefore, not only was a very large poultry-yard 
required, but also a considerable staff of huntsmen, falconers, and whips, 
besides a number of horses and dogs of all sorts, which wore either used for 
starting the game for the hawks, or for running it down when it was forced 
to ground by the birds. 

A well-trained falcon was a bird of great value, and was the finest present 

' .til'. 

LL**?'*'' , 'Ul*tVi' 

Fig. 150. — Yarlets of Falconry. — Fac-sirnilc of a Miniature in the Manuscript of " Livre 
(lit Boy Modus" (Fourteenth Century). 

that could be made to a lady, to a nobleman, or to the King himself, by any 
one who bad received a favour. For instance, the King of France received 
six birds from the Abbot of St. Hubert as a token of gratitude for the pro- 
tection granted by him to the abbey. The King of Denmark sent him several 
as a gracious offering in the month of April ; the Grand Master of Malta in 
the month of May. At court, in those days, the reception of falcons either 
in public or in private was a great business, and the first trial of any new 
birds formed a topic of conversation among the courtiers for some time after. 
The arrival at court of a hawk-dealer from some distant country was also 
a great event. It is said that Louis XI. gave orders that watch should be 
kept night and day to seize any falcons consigned to the Duke of Brittany 

D D 


from Turkey. The plan succeeded, and the birds thus stolen were brought 
to the King, who exclaimed, "By our holy Lady of Clery ! what will the 
Duke Francis and his Bretons do? They will be very angry at the good 

trick I have played them." 

European princes vied with each other in extravagance as regards falconry; 
but this was nothing in comparison to the magnificence displayed in oriental 
establishments. The Count de Severs, son of Philip the Bold, Duke of 
Burgundy, having been made prisoner at the battle of Nicopolis, was pre- 
sented to the Sultan Bajazet, who showed him his hunting establishment 
consisting of seven thousand falconers and as many huntsmen. The Duke of 
Burgundy, on hearing this, sent twelve white hawks, which were very scarce 


-"iuiitli>.i&l jyX : ,'i l 

Fig. 151.—" How to train a New Falcon."— Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript 
of " Livre du Boy Modus" (Fourteenth Century). 

birds, as a present to Bajazet. The Sultan was so pleased with them that 
he sent him back his son in exchange. 

The "Livre du Boy Modus" gives the most minute and curious details 
on the noble science of hawking. For instance, it tells us that the nobility 
of the falcon was held in such respect that their utensils, trappings, or feeding 
dishes were never used for other birds. The glove on which they were 
accustomed to alight was frequently elaborately embroidered in gold, and 
was never used except for birds of their own species. In the private establish- 
ments the leather hoods, which were put on their heads to prevent them 
seeing, were embroidered with gold arid pearls and surmounted with the 
feathers of birds of paradise. Each bird wore on his legs two little bells 
with his owner's crest upon them ; the noise made by these was very distinct, 



and could be hoard even when the bird was too high in the air to be scon, for 
they wore not made to sound in unison ; they generally came from Italy, Milan 
especially being celebrated for their manufacture. Straps were also fastened 
to the falcon's legs, by moans of which he was attached to the perch ; at the 
end of tins strap was a brass or gold ring with the owner's name engraved 
upon it. In the royal establishments each ring bore on one sale, "I belong 
to the king," and on the other the name of the Grand Falconer. This was a 
necessary precaution, for the birds frequently strayed, and, if captured, they 
could thus be recognised and returned. The ownership of a falcon was con- 
sidered sacred, and, by an ancient barbaric law, the stealer of a falcon was 

Fi<*. 152.— Falconers.— Fac-simile fruni a Miniature in Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, 
which treats of the " Cour de Jaime, Koi de Majorque." 

condemned to a very curious punishment. The unfortunate thief was obliged 
to allow the falcon to eat six ounces of the flesh of his breast, unless he could 
pay a heavy fine to the owner and another to the king. 

A man thoroughly acquainted with the mode of training hawks was in 
high esteem everywhere. If he was a freeman, the nobles outbid each other 
as to who should secure his services; if he was a serf, his master kept him as a 
rare treasure, only parted with him as a most magnificent present, or sold him 
for a considerable sum. Like the clever huntsman, a good falconer (Fig. 150) 
was bound to bo a man of varied information 011 natural history, the veterinary 
art, and the chase ; but the profession generally ran in families, and the son 
added his own experience to the lessons of his father. There were also special 
schools of vencry and falconry, the most rcnov 
royal household. 

mod being of course in the 

The office of Grand Falconer of Franco, the origin o 

f which date:.; from 



1250, was one of the highest in the kingdom. The Marechal do Flenranges 
srys, in his curious " Memoirs" — "The Grand Falconer, whose salary is four 
thousand florins" (the golden florin was worth then twelve or fifteen francs, 
and this amount must represent upwards of eight)' thousand francs of present 
currency), "has fifty gentlemen under him, the salary of each being from five 
to six thousand livres. Tie has also fifty assistant-falconers at two hundred 
livres each, all chosen by himself. His establishment consists of three hundred 
birds ; he has the right to hunt wherever lie pleases in the kingdom ; he 
levies a tax on all bird-dealers, who are forbidden, under penalty of the con- 
fiscation of their stock, from selling a single bird in any town or at court 

^3^"^ SSII 4-# a™ -risr" ~F-- ■■■■ .A -'---^*p--"-... 


Fig. 153. — " How to bathe a Xew Falcon." — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript 
of " Livre du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

without his sanction." The Grand Falconer was chief at all the hunts or 
hawking meetings ; in public ceremonies he always appeared with the bird 
on his wrist, as an emblem of his rank ; and the King, whilst hawking, could 
not let loose his bird until after the Grand Falconer had slipped his. 

Falconry, like venery, had a distinctive and professional vocabulary, 
which it was necessary for every one who joined in hawking to understand, 
unless he wished to lie looked upon as an ignorant yeoman. "Flying the 
hawk is a royal pastime," says the Jesuit Claude Binet, "and it is to talk 
royally to talk of the flight of birds. Every one speaks of it, but few speak 
well. Many speak so ignorantly as to excite pitv among their hearers. 



Sometimes one says the hand of the bird instead of saying the talon, sometimes 
the talon instead of the claw, sometimes the claw instead of the nail" &c. 

The fourteenth century was tho great epoch of falconry. There were 
then so many nobles who hawked, that in the rooms of inns there were 
perches made under the large mantel-pieces on which to place the birds 
while the sportsmen were at dinner. Histories of the period are full of 
characteristic anecdotes, which prove the enthusiasm which was created by 
hawking in those who devoted themselves to it. 

Emperors and kings wore as keen as others for this kind of sport. As 
earlv as the tenth century the Emperor Henry I. had acquired tho soubriquet 



1 f m 





Fig. 154. — "How to make Young Hawks fly." — Fuc-simile of a. Miniature in the Manuscript 
of " Livro da Boy Modus" (Fourteenth Century). 

of "the Bird-catcher," from the fact of his giving much more attention to his 
birds than to his subjects. His example was followed by one of his successors, 
the Emperor Henry YE, who was reckoned the first falconer of his time. 
When his father, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (Red-beard), died in 
the Holy Band, in 1189, the Archdukes, Electors of the Empire, went out to 
meet the prince so as to proclaim him Emperor of Germany. They found 
him, surrounded by dogs, horses, and birds, ready to go hunting. " The 
day is fine," he said ; " allow us to put off serious affairs until to-morrow." 

Two centuries later we find at the court of France the same ardour for 
hawking and the same admiration for tho performances of falcons. The Con- 
stable Bertram! du Guesclin gave two hawks to King Charles YI. ; and the 



Count do Taiicarville, whilst witnessing a combat between these noble birds 
and a crane which had been powerful enough to keep two greyhounds at bay, 
exclaimed, " I would not give up the pleasure which I feel for a thousand 
florins ! " 

The court-poet, William Cretin, although he was Canon of the holy 
chapel of Yincennes, was as passionately fond of hawking as his good 
master Louis XLT. lie thus describes the pleasure he felt in seeing a heron 
succumb to the vigorous attack of the falcons : — 

1 Qui auroit la mort aux dents, 
II revivroit d' avoir un tel passe-temps ! " 

(" He who is about to die 

AVould live again with such amusement.") 

I Ijjl 



(1 I \i '¥h. -5J»- '■-" "" 



Fig. 155.— Lady setting out Hawking. — Fac-siinile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of 
" Livre du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

At a hunting party given by Louis XII. to the Archduke Maximilian, 
Mary of Burgundy, the Archduke's wife, was killed by a fall from her horse. 
The King presented his best falcons to the Archduke with a view to divert his 
mind and to turn his attention from the sad event, and one of the historians 
tells us that the bereaved husband was soon consoled: "The partridges, 
herons, wild ducks, and quails which he was enabled to take on his journey 
home by means of the King's present, materially lessening his sorrow." 

Falconry, after having been in much esteem for centuries, at last became 
amenable to the same law which affects all great institutions, and, having 
reached the height of its glory, it was destined to decay. Although the art 



disappeared completely under Louis the Great, who only liked stag-hunting, 
and who, by drawing all the nobility to court, disorganized country life, no 
greater adept bad ever been known than King Louis XIII. 1 1 is first favourite 
and Grand Falconer was Albert de Luyncs, whom lie nude prime minister 
and constable. Even in the Tuileries gardens, on his way to mass at the 
convent of the Feuillants, this prince amused himself by catching linnets 
and wrens with noisy magpies trained to pursue small birds. 

It was during this reign that some ingenious person discovered that the 
words Loos treizieue, roy de France ei' de Navarre, exactly gave this 
anagram, Roy tres-rake, estivie dieude la faticonnerie. It was also at this 
time that Charles d'Arcussia, the last author who wrote a 
technical work on falconry, after praising his majesty for de- 
voting himself so thoroughly to the divine sport, compared 
the King's birds to domestic angels, and the carnivorous 
birds which they destroyed be likened to the devil. From 
this he argued that the sport was like the angel Gabriel de- 
stroying the demon Asmodeus. He also added, in his dedi- 
cation to the King, "As the nature of angels is above that 
of men, so is that of these birds above all other animals." 

At that time certain religious, or rather superstitious 
ceremonies were in use for blessing the water with which 
the falcons were sprinkled before hunting, and supplica- 
tions were addressed to the eagles that they might not 
molest them. The following words were used : "I adjure 
you, eagles ! by the true God, by the holy God, by 
the most blessed Virgin Mary, by the nine orders of 
angels, by the holy prophets, by the twelve apostles, &c 
the field clear to our birds, and not to molest them : in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It was at this time that, 
in order to recover a lost bird, the Sire de la Brizardiere, a professional 
necromancer, proposed beating the owner of the bird with birch-rods until 
he bled, and of making a charm with the blood, which was reckoned infallible. 

Elzear Blaze expressed his astonishment that the ladies should not have 
used their influence to prevent falconry from falling into disuse. The chase, 
he considered, gave them an active part in an interesting and animated 
scene, which only required easy and graceful movements on their part, and 

Fig. 156.— Dress of 
the Falconer (Thir- 
teenth Century). — 
Sculpture of the 
Cathedral of Rouen. 

.... to leave 



to which no danger was attached. " The ladies knowing," he says, "how to 
fly a bird, how to call him hack, and how to encourage him with their voice, 
bein!? familiar with him from having continually carried him on their wrist, 

Fig. 1.57. — Diseases of I logs and their Cure. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript 
of Phcrbus (Fourteenth Century). 

and often even from having broken him in themselves, the honour of hunting 
belongs to them by right. Besides, it brings out to advantage their grace 
and dexterity as they gallop amongst the sportsmen, followed by their pages 
and varlets and a whole herd of horses and dugs." 



The question of precedence and of superiority had, at every period, been 
pretty evenly balanced between venery and falconry, each having ils own 
staunch supporters. Thus, in the " Livredu Roy Modus," two ladies contend 
in verse (tor the subject was considered too exalted to be treated of in simple 
prose), the one for the superiority of the birds, the other for the superiority of 
dogs. Their controversy is at length terminated by a celebrated huntsman and 
falconer, who decides in favour of venery, for the somewhat remarkable reason 
that those who pursue it enjoy oral and ocular pleasure at the same t ime. In an 
ancient treatise by Gace de la Vigne, in which the same question occupies no 

Fig. 158.— German Falconer, designed and engraved, in the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman. 

fewer than ten thousand verses, the King (unnamed) ends the dispute by order- 
ing that in future they shall be termed pleasures of dugs and pleasures of birds, 
so that there may be no superiority on one side or tin' other (Fig. 160). The 
court-poet, William Cretin, who was in great renown during the reigns ol 
Louis XII. and Francis I., having asked two ladies to discuss the same subject 
in verse, does not hesitate, on the contrary, to place falconry above venery. 

It may fairly be asserted that venery and falconry have taken a position 
of some importance in history ; and in support of this theory it will suffice to 
mention a few facts borrowed from the annals of the chase. 

E E 


The King of Navarre, Charles the Bad, had sworn to be faithful to the 
alliance made between himself and King Edward III. of England ; but the 
English troops having been beaten by I)u Gruesclin, Charles saw that it 
was to his advantage to turn to the side of the King of France. In order 
not to appear to break his oath, he managed to be taken prisoner by the 
French whilst out hunting, and thus he sacrificed his honour to his personal 
interests. It was also due to a hunting party that Henry III., another King 
of Navarre, who was afterwards Henry IV., escaped from Paris, on the 


Fig. 159.— Heron-hawking.— Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the " Livre 
du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

3rd February, 1570, and fled to Senlis, where his friends of the Reformed 
religion came to join him. 

Hunting formed a principal entertainment when public festivals were cele- 
brated, and it was frequently accompanied with great magnificence. At the 
entry of Isabel of Bavaria into Paris, a sort of stag hunt was performed, when 
" the streets," according to a popular story of the time, " were full to profu- 
sion of hares, rabbits, and goslings." Again, at the solemn entry of Louis XL 
into Paris, a representation of a doe hunt took place near the fountain St. 


Innocent; " after which the queen received a present of a magnificent sta", 
made of confectionery, and having (lie myal arms hung round its neck." At 
the memorable festival given at Lille, in 1458, by flic Duke of Burgundy, a 
very curious performance took place. "At one end of the table," says the 
historian Mathieu de Coucy, " a heron was started, which was hunted as it 
by falconers and sportsmen ; and presently from the other end of the table a 
falcon was slipped, which hovered over the heron. In a lew minutes another 
falcon was started from the other side of the table, which attacked the heron 
so fiercely that he brought him down in the middle of the hall. After the 

Fig. 160.— Sport with Dogs.— " How the Wild Boar is hunted by means of Dogs."— Fac-simile of 
a Miniature in the Manuscript of the " Livre du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth ( 'entury). 

performance was over and the heron was killed, it was served up at the 

We shall conclude this chapter with a few words on bird-fowling, a, kind 
of sport which was almost disdained in the Middle Ages. The anonymous 
author of the " Livre du Roy Modus," called it, in the fourteenth century, 
the pastime of the poor, "because the poor, who can neither keep hounds nor 
falcons to hunt or to fly, take much pleasure in it, particularly as it serves at 
the same time as a means of subsistence to many of them." 

In this book, which was for a. long time the authority in matters of 
sport generally, we find that nearly all the methods and contrivances now 
employed for bird-fowling were known and in use in the Middle Ages, in 
addition to some which have since fallen into disuse. We accordingly read 
in the "Roy Modus " a description of the drag-net, the mirror, the screech-owl. 


the bird-pipe (Fig. 161), the traps, the springs, &c, the use of all of which 
is now well understood. At that time, when falcons were so much required, 
it was necessary that people should be employed to catch them when voune- ■ 
and the author of this book speaks of nets of various sorts, and the pronged 
piece of wood in the middle of which a screech-owl or some other bird was 
placed in order to attract the falcons (Fig. 162). 

Two methods were in use in those days for catching the woodcock and 
pheasant, which deserve to be mentioned. "The pheasants," says "Kino- 
Modus," "are of such a nature that the male bird cannot bear the company 
of another." Taking advantage of this weakness, the plan of placing a 

Fig. 161.— Bird-pipmg.— "The manner of catching Birds by piping."— Fac-simile of Miniature 
in the Manuscript of the " Livrc du Hoy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

mirror, which balanced a sort of wicker cage or coop, was adopted. The 
pheasant, thinking he saw his fellow, attacked him, struck against the glass 
and brought down the coop, in which he had leisure to reflect on his 
jealousy (Fig. 163). 

Woodcocks, which are, says the author, "the most silly birds," were 
caught in this way. The bird-fowler was covered from head to foot with 
clothes of the colour of dead leaves, only having two little holes for his eyes. 
When he saw one he knelt down noiselessly, and supported his arms on two 
sticks, so as to keep perfectly still. When the bird was not looking towards 
him he cautiously approached it on his knees, holding in his hands two little 
dry sticks covered with red cloth, which he gently waved so as to divert the 



bird's attention from himself. In this way ho gradually got near enough to 
pass a noose, which he kept ready at the end of a stick, round the bird's 
neek (Fig. 164). 

However ingenious these tricks may appear, they are eclipsed bv one we 
find recorded in the " Ixeutieon," a Aery elegant Latin poem, by Angelis de 
Barga, written two centuries later. In order to catch a large number of star- 
lings, this author assures us, it is only necessary to have two or three in a 
cage, and, when a flight of these birds is seen passing, to liberate them with 
a very long- twine attached to their claws. The twine must be covered with 

Kg. 162 — Bird-catching with ;i Machine like a Long Arm. — Fac-simile of Miniature in the 
Manuscript of the " Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century). 

bird-lime, and, as the released birds instantly join their friends, all those they 
come near get glued to the twine and fall together to the ground. 

As at the present time, the object of bird-fowling was twofold, namely, 
to procure game for food and to capture birds to be kept either for their voice 
or for fancy as pets. The trade in the latter was so important, at least in 
Paris, that the bird-catchers formed a. numerous corporation having its 
statutes and privileges. 

The Pont au Change (then covered on each side with houses and shops 
occupied by goldsmiths and money-changers) was the place where these 

2I + 


people carried on their trade ; and they had the privilege of hanging their 
cages against the houses, even without the sanction of the proprietors. This 
curious right was granted to them by Charles VI. in 1402, in return for 
which they were bound to " provide four hundred birds " whenever a king 
was crowned, " and an equal number when the queen made her first entry 
into her good town of Paris." The goldsmiths and money-changers, how- 
ever, finding that this became a. nuisance, and that it injured their trade, 
tried to get it abolished. They applied to the authorities to protect their 

Fig. 163. — Pheasant Fowling. — '• Showing how to catch Pheasants." — Fac-simile of a Miniature 
in the Manuscript of the " Livre du Hoy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

rights, urging that the approaches to their shops, the rents of which they 
paid regularly, were continually obstructed by a crowd of purchasers and 
dealers in birds. The case was brought several times before parliament, which 
only confirmed the orders of the kings of France and the ancient privi- 
leges of the bird-catchers. At the end of the sixteenth century the quarrel 
became so bitter that the goldsmiths and changers took to "throwing down 
the cages and birds and trampling them under foot," and even assaulted and 
openly ill-treated the poor bird-dealers. But a decree of parliament again 
justified the sale of birds on the Pont au Change, by condemning the ring- 


2 '5 

leader, Pierre Filacier, the muster goldsmith who had commenced the pro- 
ceedings against the bird-catchers, to pay a double fine, namely, twenty 
crowns to the plaintiffs and ten to the King. 

It is satisfactory to observe that at that period measures were taken to 
preserve nests and to prevent bird-fowling from the 15th of March to the 
15th of August. Besides this, it was necessary to have an express per- 
mission from the King himself to give persons the right of catching birds 
on the King's domains. Before any one could sell birds it was required for 
him to have been received as a master bird-catcher. The recognised bird- 
catchers, therefore, bad no opponents except dealers from other countries, who 

/' ^ifn^w^ 

y e 

Fig. 164.— The Mode of catching a Woodcock.— Fae-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript 
of the " Livre du Roy Modus " (Fourteenth Century). 

brought canary-birds, parrots, and other foreign specimens into Paris. These 
dealers were, however, obliged to conform to strict rules. They were required 
on their arrival to exhibit their birds from ten to twelve o'clock on the 
marble stone in the palace yard on the days when parliament sat, in order 
that the masters and governors of the King's aviary, and, after them, the 
presidents and councillors, might have the first choice before other people 
of anything they wished to buy. They were, besides, bound to part the 
male and female birds in separate cages with tickets on them, so that pur- 
chasers might not be deceived ; and, in ease of dispute on this point, some 
sworn inspectors were appointed as arbitrators. 



ISo doubt, emboldened by the victory which they hud achieved over the 
goldsmiths of the Pont au Change, the bird-dealers of Paris attempted to 
forbid any bourgeois of the town from breeding canaries or any sort of eao-e 
birds. The bourgeois resented this, and brought their case before the 
Marshals of France. They urged that it was easy for them to breed 
canaries, and it was also a pleasure for their wives and daughters to teach 
them, whereas those bought on the Pont au Change were old and difficult to 
educate. This appeal was favourably received, and an order from the 
tribunal of the Marshals of France permitted the bourgeois to breed canaries 
but it forbade the sale of them, which it was considered would interfere with 
the trade of the master- fowlers of. the town, faubourgs, and suburbs of Paris. 

Fig. 165.— Powder-horn.— Work of the Sixteenth Century (Artillery Museum of Brussels). 


Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. — Games of the Circus. — Animal < iombats. — Paring of 
Kins; Pepin. — The King's Lions. — 1 Hind Men's Fights — Cockneys of Paris. — Champ de 
Mars. — Corns Pleniercs and Cours Couronuees. — Jugglers, Tumblors, and Minstrels. — Rope- 
dancers. — Fireworks. — Gymnastics. — Cards and Dice.— Chess, Marbles, and Billiards. — 
Fa Soule, La Pirouette, kc— Small Games for Private Society.— History of Dancing.— Ballet 
des Ai'dents. — The " Orchesogranbie " (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arboau. — List of Dances. 


EOPLE of all countries and at all 
periods have been fond of public 
amusements, and have indulged in 
games and pastimes with a view to 
make time pass agreeably. These 
amusements have continually varied, 
according to the character of each 
nation, and according to the capri- 
cious changes of fashion. Since the 
learned antiquarian, J. Meursius, has 
devoted a large volume to describing 
the games of the ancient Greeks ("De Ludis Graseorum"), and Rabelais has 
collected a list of two hundred and twenty games which were in fashion at 
different times at the court of his gay master, it will be easily understood 
that a description of all the games and pastimes which have ever been in use 
by different nations, and particularly by the French, would form an encyclo- 
paedia of some size. 

TTe shall give a rapid sketch of the different kinds of games and pastimes 
which were most in fashion during the Middle Ages and to the end of the 
sixteenth century — omitting, however, the religious festivals, which belong to 
a different category ; the public festivals, which will come under the chapter 
on Ceremonials ; the tournaments and tilting matches and other sports of 
warriors, which belong to Chivalry; and, lastly, the scenic and literary 
representations, which specially belong to the history of the stage. 

V 1' 


We shall, therefore, limit ourselves hero to giving in a condensed form a 
few historical details of certain court amusements, and a short description of 
the sanies of skill and of chance, and also of dancing. 

The Romans, especially during the times of the emperors, had a passionate 
love for performances in the circus and amphitheatre, as well as for chariot 
races, horse races, foot races, combats of animals, and feats of strength and 
ability. The daily life of the Roman people may he summed up as consisting 
of taking their food and enjoying games in the circus (panem et circenses). A 
taste for similar amusements was common to the Gauls as well as to the whole 
Roman Empire ; and, were historians silent on the subject, we need no further 
information than that which is to be gathered from the ruins of the numerous 
amphitheatres, which are to be found at every centre of Roman occupation. 
The circus disappeared on the establishment of the Christian religion, for the 
bishops condemned it as a profane and sanguinary vestige of Paganism, and, 
no doubt, this led to the cessation of combats between man and beast. They 
continued, however, to pit wild or savage animals against one another, and 
to train dogs to fight with lions, tigers, bears, and bulls ; otherwise it woidd 
be difficult to explain the restoration by King Chilperic (a.d. 577) of the 
circuses and arenas at Paris and Soissons. The remains of one of these 
circuses was not long ago discovered in Paris whilst they were engaged in 
laying the foundations for a new street, on the west side of the hill of 
St. Genevieve, a short distance from the old palace of the Caesars, known 
by the name of the Thermes of Julian. 

Gregory of Tours states that Chilperic revived the ancient games of the 
circus, but that Gaul had ceased to be famous for good athletes and race- 
horses, although animal combats continued to take place for the amusement 
of the kings. One day King Pepin halted, with the principal officers of his 
army, at the Abbey of Ferrieres, and witnessed a fight between a lion and a 
bull. The bvdl was of enormous size and extraordinary strength, but never- 
theless the lion overcame him ; whereupon Pepin, who was surnamed the 
Short, turned to his officers, who used to joke him about his short stature, 
and said to them, "Slake the lion loose his hold of the bull, or kill him." No 
one dared to undertake so perilous a task, and some said aloud that the man 
who would measure his strength with a lion must be mad. Upon this, Pepin 
sprang into the arena sword in hand, and with two blows cut off the heads of 
the lion and the bull. "What do you think of that?" he said to his 


2 1 g 

astonished officers. "Am I not fit to be your master? Size cannot compare 
with courage. Remember what little David did to the Giant Goliath." 

Eight hundred years later there were occasional animal combats at the 
court of Francis I. "A fine lady," says Brantome, " went to see the Kino's 
lions, in company with a gentleman who much admired her. She suddenly 
let her glove drop, and it fell into the lions' den. ' T beg of you,' she said, in 
the calmest way, to her admirer, 'to go amongst the lions and bring me back 
my glove.' The gentleman made no remark, but, without even drawing his 
sword, went into the den and gave himself up silently to death to please the 
lady. The lions did not move, and he was aide to leave their den without a 
scratch and return the lady her missing glove. ' Here is your glove, madam,' 
he coldly said to her who evidently valued his life at so small a price; 'see 
if you can find any one else who would do the same as I have done for you.' 
So saying he left her, and never afterwards looked at or even spoke to her." 

It has been imagined that the kings of France onl)^ kept lions as living 
symbols of royalty. In 1333 Philippe de Valois bought a barn in the Hue 
Froidmantel, near the Chateau du Louvre, where he established a menagerie 
for his lions, bears, leopards, and other wild beasts. This royal menagerie 
still existed in the reigns of Charles VIII. and Francis I. Charles V. an 1 
his successors had an establishment of lions in the quadrangle of the Grand 
Hotel de St. Paul, on the very spot which was subsequently the site of the 
Rue des Lions St. Paul. 

These wild beasts were sometimes employed in the combats, and were 
pitted against bulls and dogs in the presence of the King and his court. It 
was after one of these combats that Charles IX., excited by the sanguinary 
spectacle, wished to enter the arena alone in order to attack a lion which had 
torn some of his best dogs to pieces, and it was only with great difficulty that 
the audacious sovereign was dissuaded from his foolish purpose. Henry III. 
had no disposition to imitate his brother's example; for dreaming one night 
that his lions were devouring him, he had them all killed the next day. 

The love for hunting wild animals, such as the wolf, bear, and boar (see 
chapter on Hunting), from an early date took the place of the animal combats 
as far as the court and the nobles were concerned. The people were there- 
fore deprived of the spectacle of the combats which had had so much charm 
for them ; and as they could not resort to the alternative of the chase, they 
treated themselves to a feeble imitation of the games of the circus in such 


amusements as setting dogs to worry old horses or donkeys, &c. (Fig. 166). 
Bull-fights, nevertheless, continued in the southern provinces of France, as 
also in Spain. 

At village feasts not only did wrestling matches take place, but also queer 
kinds of combats with sticks or birch boughs. Two men, blindfolded, each 
armed with a stick, and holding in his hand a rope fastened to a stake 
entered the arena, and went round and round tiding to strike at a fat goose 
or a pig which was also let loose with them. It can easily be imagined that 
the greater number of the blows fell like hail on one or other of the principal 
actors in this blind combat, amidst shouts of laughter from the spectators. 

Nothing amused our ancestors more than these blind encounters ; even 

Fig'. 16G. — Fight between a Horse and Dogs. — Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the British 
Museum (Thirteenth Century). 

kings took part at these burlesque representations. At Mid-Lent annually 
they attended with their court at the Quinze-Vingts, in Paris, in order to see 
blindfold persons, armed from head to foot, fighting with a lance or stick. 
This amusement was quite sufficient to attract all Paris. In 1425, on the 
last day of August, the inhabitants of the capital crowded their windows to 
witness the procession of four blind men, clothed in full armour, like knights 
going to a tournament, and preceded by two men, one playing the hautbois 
and the other bearing a banner on which a pig was painted. These four 
champions on the next day attacked a pig, which was to become the property 
of the one who killed it. The lists were situated in the court of the Hotel 
d'Armagnac, the present site of the Palais Royal. A great crowd attended 
the encounter. The blind men, armed with all sorts of weapons, belaboured 
each other so furiously that the game would have ended fatally to one or 


22 I 

more of them had they not heen separated and made to divide the pig which 
they had all so well earned. 

The people of the Middle Ages had an insatiable love of sio-ht-seeino- ■ 
they came great distances, from all parts, to witness any amusing' exhibition. 
They woidd suffer any amount of privation or fatigue to indulge this feeling 

Fig. 167. — Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople. — Fac-simile of an Engraving on Wood 
from the " Cosmographie Universelle" of Thevet: folio, 1575. 

and they gave themselves up to it, so heartily that it became a solace to 
them in their greatest sorrows, and they laughed with that hearty laugh 
which may be said to be one of their natural characteristics. In all public 
processions in the open air the crowd (or rather, as we might say, the 
Cockneys of Paris), in their anxiety to see everything that was to be seen, 
would frequently obstruct all the public avenues, and so prevent the proces- 
sion from passing along. In consequence of this the Provosts of Paris on 


these occasions distributed hundreds of stout sticks amongst the sergeants 
who used them freely on the shoulders of the most obstinate sight-seers (see 
chapter on Ceremonials). There was no religious procession, no parish fair 
no municipal feast, and no parade or review of troops, which did not brino- 
together crowds of people, whose ears and eyes were wide open, if only to 
hear the sound of the trumpet, or to see a "dog rush past with a frying-pan 
tied to his tail." 

... '--^r 

Fig. 168.— Free Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine to the People.— Reduced Copy of a 
Woodcut of the Solemn Entry of Charles V. and Pope Clement VII. into Bologna, in 1530. 

This curiosity of the French was particularly exhibited when the kings 
of the first royal dynasty held their Champs tie Mars, the kings of the second 
dynasty their Corns Plenieres, and the kings of the third dynasty their Cours 
Couronnees. In these assemblies, where the King gathered together all his 
principal vassals once or twice a year, to hold personal communication 
with them, and to strengthen his power by ensuring their feudal services, 
large quantities of food and fermented liquors were publicly distributed 
among the people (Fig. 168). The populace were always most enthusiastic 
spectators of military displays, of court ceremonies, and, above all, of the 
various amusements which royalty provided for them at great cost in those 


22 3 

days: and it was on these slate occasions that jugglers, tumblers, and 
minstrels displayed their talents. The Champ dc Mars was one of the prin- 
cipal fetes of the year, and was held sometimes in the centre of sumo large 
town, sometimes in a royal domain, and sometimes in the open country. 
Bishop Gregory of Tours describes one which was given in his diocese during 
the reign of Chilperie, at the Easter festivals, at which we may he sure that 
the games of the circus, re-established by Chilperie, excited the greatest 
interest. Charlemagne also held Champs dc Mars, but called them Cours 
Royales, at which he appeared dressed in cloth of gold studded all over with 
pearls and precious stones. Under the third dynasty King Robert celebrated 

Fig. 169. — Feats in Balancing. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript in the Bodleian 
Library at Oxford (Thirteenth Century). 

court days with the same magnificence, and the people were admitted to the 
palace during the royal banquet to witness the King sitting amongst his great 
officers of state. The Cours Plenieres, which were always held at Christmas, 
Twelfth-day, Easter, and on the day of Pentecost, were not less brilliant 
during the reigns of Robert's successors. Louis IX. himself, notwithstanding 
his natural shyness and his taste for simplicity, was noted for the display he 
made on state occasions. In 1-300, Philippe de Valois wore his crown at the 
Cours Plenieres, and from that time they were called Cours Couronnecs. The 
kings of jugglers were the privileged performers, and their feats and the 
other amusements, which continued on each occasion for several days, were 
provided for at the sovereign's sole expense. 

These kings of jugglers exercised a supreme authority over the art of 
jugglery and over all the members of this jovial fraternity. It must not 
be imagined that these jugglers merely recited snatches from tales and 



fables in rhyme ; this was the least of their talents. The cleverest of them 
played all sorts of musical instruments, sung songs, and repeated by heart 
a multitude of stories, after the example of their reputed forefather, 
King Borgabcd, or Bedabie, who, according to these troubadours, was 
King of Great Britain at the time that Alexander the Great was Kino- of 
Macedonia. The jugglers of a lower order especially excelled in tumbling 
and in tricks of legerdemain (Figs. 169 and 170). They threw wonderful 
somersaults, they leaped through hoops placed at certain distances from one 
another, they played with knives, slings, baskets, brass balls, and earthen- 
ware plates, and they walked on their hands with their feet in the air or with 
their heads turned downwards so as to look through their legs backwards. 
These acrobatic feats were even practised by women. Accordino- to a legend 
the daughter of Herodias was a renowned acrobat, and on a bas-relief in the 

Fig. 170.— Sword-dance to the sound of the Bagpipe.— Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the 
British Museum (Fourteenth Century). 

Cathedral of Eouen we find this Jewish dancer turning somersaults before 
Herod, so as to fascinate him, and thus obtain the decapitation of John the 

"The jugglers," adds M. de Labedolliere, in his clever work on "The 
Private Life of the French," " often led about bears, monkeys, and other 
animals, which they taught to dance or to fight (Figs. 171 and 172). A 
manuscript in the National Library represents a banquet, and around the 
table, so as to amuse the guests, performances of animals are going on, such 
as monkeys riding on horseback, a bear feigning to be dead, a goat playing 
the harp, and dogs walking on their hind legs." We find the same grotesque 



figures on sculptures, on the capitals of churches, 011 the illuminated margins 
of manuscripts of theology, and on prayer-hooks, which seems to indicate that 
jugglers were the associates of painters and illuminators, even if they them- 
selves were not the writers and illuminators of the manuscripts. "Jugglery," 
M. de Lahedolliere goes on to say, "at that time embraced poetry, music, 
dancing, sleight of hand, conjuring, wrestling, boxing, and the training of 
animals. Its humblest practitioners were the mimics or grimacers, in many- 
coloured garments, and brazen-faced mountebanks, who provoked laughter at 
the expense of decency." 

At first, and down to the thirteenth century, the profession of a juggler 
was a most lucrative one. There was no public or private feast of any 
importance without the profession being represented. Their mimicry and 

Fig. 171.— Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and Bears.— Far-simile of a Manuscript in the 
British Museum (Thirteenth Century). 

acrobatic feats were less thought of than their long poems or lays of wars and 
adventures, which they recited in doggerel rhyme to the accompaniment of a 
stringed instrument. The doors of the chateaux were always open to them, 
and they had a place assigned to them at all feasts. They were the principal 
attraction at the Cows Pkniere.% and, according to the testimony of one of 
their poets, they frequently retired from business loaded with presents, such 
as riding-horses, carriage-horses, jewels, cloaks, fur robes, clothing of violet 
or scarlet cloth, and, above all, with large sums of money. They loved to 
recall with pride the heroic memory of one of their own calling, the brave 
Norman, Taillefer, who, before the battle of Hastings, advanced alone on 
horseback between the two armies about to commence the engagement, and 
drew off the attention of the English by singing them the song of Roland. 

1; <; 



He then beo-an juggling, and taking his lance by the hilt, he threw it into 
the air and caught it by the point as it fell ; then, drawing his sword, he 
spun it several times over his head, and caught it in a similar way as it fell. 
After these skilful exercises, during which the enemy were gaping in mute 
astonishment, he forced Lis charger through the English ranks, and caused 
great havoc before he fell, positively riddled with wounds. 

Notwithstanding this noble instance, not to belie the old proverb, jugglers 
were never received into the order of knighthood. They were, after a time, 
as much abused as they had before been extolled. Their licentious lives 
reflected itself in their obscene language. Their pantomimes, like their 
songs, showed that they were the votaries of the lowest vices. The lower 

Fig. 172. — Equestrian Performances. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in an English Manuscript 
of the Thirteenth Century. 

orders laughed at their coarseness, and were amused at their juggleries ; but 
the nobility were disgusted with them, and they were absolutely excluded 
from the presence of ladies and girls in the chateaux and houses of the 
bourgeoisie. We see in the tale of " Le Jugleor " that they acquired ill 
fame everywhere, inasmuch as they were addicted to every sort of vice. The 
clergy, and St. Bernard especially, denounced them and held them up to 
public contempt. St. Bernard spoke thus of them in one of his sermons 
written in the middle of the twelfth century : " A man fond of jugglers will 
soon enough possess a wife whose name is Poverty. If it happens that the 
tricks of jugglers are forced upon your notice, endeavour to avoid them, and 
think of other things. The tricks of jugglers never please God." 

From this remark we may understand their fall as well as the disrepute 


2.2 7 

in which they were held at that time, and we are not surprised to find in an 
old edition of the " Memoires du Sire de Joinvillo " this passage, which is, 
perhaps, an interpolation from a contemporary document: "St. Louis drove 
from his kingdom all tumblers and players of sleight of hand, through whom 
many evil habits and tastes had become engendered in the people." A 
troubadour's story of this period shows that the jugglers wandered about the 
country with their trained animals nearly starved ; they were half naked, 
and were often without anything on their heads, without coats, without shoes, 
and always without money. The lower orders welcomed them, and eon- 

Fig. 173. — Jugglers performing in public. — From a Jlii 
Loherane " (Thirteenth Century). —Libra 

e of the Man in 
the Arsenal, P. 

nt of " < ruarin de 

tinued to admire and idolize them for their clover tricks (Fig. 173), but the 
bourgeois class, following the example of the nobility, turned their backs 
upon them. In 1-345 Guillaume de Gourmont, Provost of Paris, forbad their 
singing or relating obscene stories, under penalty of hue and imprisonment. 
Having been associated together as a confraternity since 1331, they lived 
huddled together in one street of Paris, which took the name of llm ilea 
Jongleurs. It was at this period that the Church and Hospital of St. Julian 
were founded through the exertions of Jacques Goure, a native of Pistoia, 
and of Huet lc Lorrain, who were both jugglers. The newly-formed brother- 
hood at once undertook to subscribe to this good work, and each member did 



so according to his means. Their aid to the cost of the two buildings was 
sixty livres, and they wore both erected in the Rue St. Martin, and placed 
under the protection of St. Julian the Martyr. The chapel was consecrated 
on the last Sunday in September, 1335, and on the front of it there were 
three figures, one representing a troubadour, one a minstrel, and one a 
juggler, each with his various instruments. 

The bad repute into which jugglers had fallen did not prevent the kino-s 
of France from attaching buffoons, or fools, as they were generally called to 
their households, who were often more or less deformed dwarf's, and who, 
to all intents and purposes, were jugglers. They were allowed to indulge in 
every sort of impertinence and waggery in order to excite the risibility of 

Fiy. 174.— Dance of Fools.— Fae-simile of a Miniature in Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, 
in the Bodleian Library of Oxford. 

their masters (Figs. 174 and 170). These buffoons or fools were an insti- 
tution at court until the time of Louis XIV., and several, such as Caillette, 
Triboulet, and Brusquet, arc better known in history than many of the 
statesmen and soldiers who were their contemporaries. 

At the end of the fourteenth century the brotherhood of jugglers divided 
itself into two distinct classes, the jugglers proper and the tumblers. The 
former continued to recite serious or amusing poetry, to sing love-songs, to 
play comic interludes, either singly or in concert, in the streets or in the 
houses, accompanying themselves or being accompanied by all sorts of 
musical instruments. The tumblers, on the other hand, devoted themselves 
exclusively to feats of agility or of skill, the exhibition of trained animals, 
the making of comic grimaces, and tight-rope dancing. 

Fac-simileofa miniature from a ms. in the Bihl. <lo J'Arsenal, Tli. !at., n" I2fi. 

GA 31 ES A ND P. I A 7 7MES. 


The art of rope-dancing is very ancient ; it was patronised by the Franks, 
who looked upon it as a marvellous effort of human genius. The mosf 
remarkable rope-dancers of that time were of Indian origin. All performers 
in this art came originally from the East, although they afterwards trained 
pupils in the countries through which thov passed, recruiting themselves 
chiefly from the mixed tribe of jugglers. According to a document quoted 
bv the learned Foneemagne, rope-dancers appeared as early as 1327 at the 
entertainments given at state banquets by the kings of France. But, lent;' 
before that time they are mentioned in the poems of troubadours as the 
necessary auxiliaries of any feast given by the nobility, or even by the 

Fig. 17o.— Court Fool.— of a. Woodcut in the " CusmograpMc Universale " of 
Minister: folio (Busle, 1.532). 

monasteries. From the fourteenth to the end of the sixteenth century they 
were never absent from any public ceremonial, and it was at the state entries 
of kings and queens, princes and princesses, that they were especially called 
upon to display their talents. 

One of the most extraordinary examples of the daring of these tumblers 
is to be found in the records of the entry of Queen Isabel of Bavaria into 
Paris, in 1385 (see chapter on Ceremonials); and, indeed, all the chronicles 
of the fifteenth century are full of anecdotes of their doings. Mathicu de 
Coucy, who wrote a history of the time of Charles VII., relates some very 
curious details respecting a show which took place at Milan, and which 


astonished the whole of Europe : — " The Duke of Milan ordered a rope to be 
stretched across his palace, about one hundred and fifty feet from the ground, 
and of equal length. On to this a Portuguese mounted, walked straight 
alono-, o-oino' backwards and forwards, and dancing to the sound of the 
tambourine. lie also hung from the rope with his head downwards, and 
went through all sorts of tricks. The ladies who were looking on could not 
help hiding their eyes in their handkerchiefs, from fear lest they should see 
him overbalance and fall and kill himself." The chronicler of Charles XII., 
Jean d'Arton, tells us of a not less remarkable feat, performed on the 
occasion of the obsequies of Duke Pierre de Bourbon, which were celebrated 
at Moulins, in the month of October, 1008, in the presence of the king and 
the court. "Amongst other performances was that of a German tight-rope 
dancer, named Georges Menustre, a very young man, who had a thick rope 
stretched across from the highest part of the tower of the Castle of Macon to 
the windows of the steeple of the Church of the Jacobites. The height of 
this from the ground was twenty-rive fathoms, and the distance from the 
castle to the steeple some two hundred and fifty paces. On two evenings in 
succession lie walked along this rojie, and on the second occasion when he 
started from the tower of the castle his feat was witnessed by the king and 
upwards of thirty thousand persons. He performed all sorts of graceful tricks, 
such as (lancing grotesque dances to music and hanging to the rope by his 
feet and by his teeth. Although so strange and marvellous, these feats were 
nevertheless actually performed, unless human sight had been deceived by 
magic. A female dancer also performed in a novel way, cutting capers, 
throwing somersaults, and performing graceful Moorish and other remarkable 
and peculiar dances." Such was their manner of celebrating a funeral. 

In the sixteenth century these dancers and tumblers became so numerous 
that they were to lie met with everywhere, in the pjrovinces as well as in the 
towns. Many of them were Bohemians or Zingari. They travelled in 
companies, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes with 
some sort of a conveyance containing the accessories of their craft and a 
travelling theatre. But people began to tire of these sorts of entertainments, 
the more so as they were required to pay for them, and they naturally 
preferred the public rejoicings, which cost them nothing. They were par- 
ticularly fond of illuminations and fireworks, which are of much later origin 
than the invention of gunpowder ; although the Saracens, at the time of the 



Crusades, used a Greek tire for illuminations, which considerably alarmed 
the Crusaders when they first witnessed its effects. Regular fireworks 



L^ti^wi/- 1 ^ ' 


Fig. 170.— Fireworks on the Water, with an Imitation of a Naval ( lomhat— Fac-simile ..1 
an Engraving on Copper of the " Pyrotechnie " of Hanzclet le Lorrain : 4to (Pont-a- 
Mousson, 1630). 

appear to have been invented in Italy, where the pyrotechnic art lias retained 
its superiority to this day, and where the inhabitants are as enthusiastic as 


ever for this sort of amusement, and consider it, in fact, inseparable from 
every religious, private, or public festival. This Italian invention was first 
introduced into the Low Countries by the (Spaniards, where it found many 
admirers, and it made its appearance in France with the Italian artists who 
established themselves in that country in the reigns of Charles VIII., 
Louis XII., and Francis I. Fireworks could not fail to be attractive at the 
Court of the Yalois, to which Catherine de Medici's had introduced the 
manners and customs of Italy. The French, who up to that time had only 
been accustomed to the illuminations of St. John's Lay and of the first 
Sunday in Lent, received those fireworks with great enthusiasm, and they 
soon became a regular part of the programme for public festivals (Fig. 176). 
We have hitherto only described the sports engaged in for the amuse- 
ment of the spectators ; we have still to describe those in which the actors 
took greater pleasure than even the spectators themselves. These were 
specially the games of strength and skill as well as dancing, with a notice 
< if which we shall conclude this chapter. There were, besides, the various 
games of chance and the games of fun and humour. Most of the bourgeois 
and the villagers played a variety of games of agility, many of which have 
descended to our times, and are still to be found at our schools and colleges. 
Wrestling, running races, the game of bars, high and wide jumping, leap- 
frog, blind-man's buff, games of ball of all sorts, gymnastics, and all exercises 
which strengthened the body or added to the suppleness of the limbs, were 
long in use among the youth of the nobilit}' (Figs. 177 and 178). The Lord 
of Fleuranges, in his memoirs written at the court of Francis I., recounts 
numerous exercises to which he devoted himself during his childhood and 
youth, and which were then looked upon as a necessary part of the education 
of chivalry. The nobles in this way acquired a taste for physical exercises, 
and took naturally to combats, tournaments, and hunting, and subsequently 
their services in the battle-field gave them plenty of opportunities to gratify 
the taste thus developed in them. These were not, however, sufficient for 
their insatiable activity ; when they could not do anything else, they played 
at tennis and such games at all hours of the day ; and these pastimes had so 
much attraction for nobles of all ages that they not unfrequentty sacrificed 
their health in consequence of overtaxing their strength. In 1506 the King 
of Castile, Philippe le Beau, died of pleurisy, from a severe cold which he 
caught while playing tennis. 


2 55 

Tennis also became the favourite game amongst the bourgeois in the 
towns, and tennis-courts were built in all parts, of such spacious proportions 
and so well adapted for spectators, that they were often converted into 
theatres. Their game of billiards resembled the modern one only in name, 
for it was played on a level piece of ground with wooden balls which were 
struck with hooked sticks and mallets. It was in great repute in the four- 
teenth century, for in 1396 Marshal do Boucicault, who was considered one 
of the best players of his time, won at it six hundred francs (or more than 

Fig. 177.— Somersaults.— Fac-Bimile of a Woodcut in "Exercises in Leaping and Vaulting," 
by A. Tuecaro: 4 to (Paris, 1599). 

twenty-eight thousand francs of present currency). At the beginning ot the 
following century the Duke Louis d'Orleans ordered bilks et billars to be bought 
for the sum of eleven sols six deniers tournois (about fifteen francs of our 
money), that he might amuse himself with them. There were several games ot 
the same sort, which were not less popular. Skittles ; la Souk or Souktte, winch 
consisted of a large ball of hay covered over with leather, the possession of which 
was contested for by two opposing sides of players; Football; open Tennis; 

it it 



Shuttlecock, &c. It was Charles V. who first thought of giving a more 
serious and useful character to the games of the people, and who, in. a 
celebrated edict forbidding games of chance, encouraged the establishment 
of companies of archers and bowmen. These companies, to which was 
subsequently added that of the arquebusiers, outlived political revolutions, 
and arc still extant, especially in the northern provinces of France. 

Fig. 178. — The Spring- board. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in "Exorcises in Leaping and 
Vaulting," by A. Tuccaro : 4to (Paris, 1599). 

At all times and in all countries the games of chance were the most 
popular, although they were forbidden both by ecclesiastical and royal 
authority. New laws were continually being enacted against them, and 
especially against those in which dice were used, though with little avail. 
" Dice shall nut be made in the kingdom," says the law of 1256; and "those 


who arc discovered using them, and frequenting- taverns and bad places, will 
be looked upon as suspicious characters." A law of 12!)1 repeats, "That 
games with dice be forbidden." Nevertheless, though these prohibitions 
were frequently renewed, people continued to disregard them and to lose 
much money at such games. The law of to!)b' is aimed particularly against 
loaded dice, which must have been contemporary with tho origin of dice, 
themselves, for no games ever gave rise to a greater amount of roguery than 
those of this description. They were, however, publicly sold in spite of all 
the laws to the contrary ; for, in the " I>it du Mercier," the dealer oilers bis 
merchandise thus : — 

•'J'ay dez do plus, j'ay dez de moms, (" I have heavy dice, I have light dice, 

De Faris, de Chartres, de Kains." From Paris, from Churtn s, and from Rains.") 

It has been said that the game of dice was at first called the game of Go//, 
because the regulation of lottery was one of God's prerogatives; but this 
derivation is purely imaginary. What appears more likely is, that dice 
were first forbidden by the Church, and then by the civil authorities, on 
account of the fearful oaths which were so apt to bo uttered by those players 
who had a run of ill luck. Nothing was commoner than for people to ruin 
themselves at this game. The poems of troubadours are full of imprecations 
against the fatal chance of dice; many troubadours, such as Guillaume Magrct 
and Gaucelm Faydit, lost their fortunes at it, and their lives in consequence. 
Rutebeuf exclaims, in one of his satires, "Dice rob me of all my clothes, dice 
kill me, dice watch me, dice track me, dice attack me, and dice defy me.' 
The blasphemies of the gamblers did not always remain unpuinshed. "Philip 
Augustus," says Pigord, in his Latin history of this king, "earned bis 
aversion for oaths to such an extent, that if any one, whether knight or of 
any other rank, let one slip from his lips in the presence of tho sovereign, 
even by mistake, he was ordered to be immediately thrown into the river. 
Louis XII., who was somewhat less severe, contented himself with having a 
hole bored with a hot iron through the blasphemer's tongue. 

The work "On the Manner of playing with Dice," has handed down to us 
the technical terms used in these games, which varied as much in practice 
as in name. They sometimes played with three dice, sometimes with six; 
different games were also in fashion, and in some the cast of the dice alone 
decided. The games of cards were also most numerous, but it is not our 

z 3 6 


intention to give the origin of them here. It is sufficient to name a few of the 
most popular ones in France, which were, Flux, Prime, Sequence, Triomphe 
Piquet, Trente-et-un, Passc-dix, Condemnade, Lansquenet, Marriage, Gay 
or J'ai, Malcontent, Here, &c. (Fig. 179 and 180). All these games, which 
were as much forbidden as dice, were played in taverns as well as at court ■ 
and, just as there were loaded dice, so were there also false cards, pre- 
pared by rogues for cheating. The greater number of the games of cards 
formerly did not require the least skill on the part of the players, chance 

Figs. 179 and 180.— French Cards for a Game of Piquet, early Sixteenth Century.— Collection 
of the National Library of Paris. 

alone deciding. The game of Tables, however, required skill and calculation, 
for under this head were comprised all the games which were played on a 
board, and particularly chess, draughts, and backgammon. The invention of 
the game of chess has been attributed to the Assyrians, and there can he no 
doubt but that it came from the East, and reached Gaul about the beginning 
of the ninth century, although it was not extensively known till about the 
twelfth. The annals of chivalry continually speak of the barons playing at 
these games, and especially at chess. Historians also mention chess, and 



show that it was played with the same zest in the camp of the Saracens as in 
that of the Crusaders. We must not be surprised if chess shared the pro- 
hibition laid upon dice, for those who were ignorant of its ingenious com- 
binations ranked it amongst games of chance. The Council of Paris, in 
1212, therefore condemned chess for the same reasons as dice, and it, was 
specially forbidden to church people, who had begun to make it their 
habitual pastime. The royal edict of 1254 was equally unjust with regard 
to this game. " "We strictly forbid," says Louis IX., " any person to play at 
dice, tables, or chess." This pious king set himself against these games, 
which he looked upon as inventions of the devil. After the fatal day of 
Mansorah, in 1249, the King, who was still in Egypt with the remnants 
of his army, asked what bis brother, the Comte d'Anjou, was doing. "He 
was told," says Join vide, "that he was playing at tables with his Royal 
Highness Gaultier de Nemours. The King was highly incensed against his 
brother, and, though most feelde from the effects of his illness, went to him, 
and taking the dice and the tables, had them thrown into the sea." Never- 
theless Louis IX. received as a present from the Yieu.r de la Montague, chief 
of the Ismalians, a chessboard made of gold and rock crystal, the pieces being 
of precious metals beautifully worked. It has been asserted, but incorrectly, 
that this chessboard was the one preserved in the Musee de Cluny, after 
having long formed part of the treasures of the Kings of France. 

Amongst the games comprised under the name of tables, it is sufficient to 
mention that of draughts, which was formerly played with dice and with the 
same men as were used for chess ; also the game of honchet, or joneliees, that 
is, bones or spillikins, games which required pieces or men in the same way 
as chess, but which required more quickness of hand than of intelligence ; 
and epingleft, or push-pin, which was played in a similar manner to the 
honchets, and was the great amusement of the small pages in the houses of 
the nobility. "When they had not epinglcs, honchets, or draughtsmen to 
play with, they used their fingers instead, and played a game which is still 
most popular amongst the Italian people, called the morra, and which was 
as much in vogue with the ancient Romans as it is among the modern 
Italians. It consisted of suddenly raising as many fingers as had been shown 
by one's adversary, and gave rise to a great amount of amusement among the 
players and lookers-on. The games played by girls were, of course, different 
from those in use among boys. The latter played at marbles, Juettes, peg or 



humming tops, quoits, fouquet, merelks, and a number of other games, many 
of which are now unknown. The girls, it is almost needless to say, from 
the earliest times played with dolls. Bridie, a game in which a brick and a 

Fig. 181. — Allegorical Scene of one of the Courts of Love in Provence. — In the First Compart- 
ment, the God of Love, Cupid, is sitting on the Stump of a Laurel-tree, wounding with his 
Farts those who do Mm homage ; the Second Compartment represents the Love Vows of Men 
and Women. — From the Cover of a Looking- glass, carved in Ivory, of the End of the Thirteenth 

small stick was used, was also a favourite. Martians, or small quoits, wolf 
or fox, blind man's buff, hide and seek, quoits, &c, were all girls' games. 
The greater part of these amusements were enlivened, by a chorus, which all 
the girls sang together, or by dialogues suno- or chanted in unison. 


After a miniature of "77«: Thn-r ,\ U rs of Mini", a ms. of the fifteenth eentun 
attributed tu Estiennii Porch ier. 'Bib), of M. Ambroife Eiriiiiii-Diilot. 


e seem. = lad 

one ol the saloons of the castle 

'Plessis-lc--Toure, the residence ol Louis XI, n the i la 
— --'''the king are recognisable. 


If children had their games, which for many generations continued com- 
paratively unchanged, so the dames and the young ladies had theirs, consisting 
of gallantly and politeness, which only disappeared with those harmless 
assemblies in which the two sexes vied with each other in urbanity, friendly 
roguishness, and wit. It would require long antiquarian researches to 
discover the origin and mode of playing many of these pastimes, such as 
des oes, des trois dues, des accords bigarres, du jardin madame, de la fricade, 
d/i feiseau, de In mick, and a number of others which are named but not 
described in the records of the times. The game a T oreille, the invention of 
which is attributed to the troubadour Guillaume Adhemar, the j'eu des 
Valentines, or the game of lovers, and the numerous games of forfeits, which 
have come down to us from the Courts of Love of the Middle Ages, we find 
to be somewhat deprived of their original simplicity in the way they are now 
played in country-houses in the winter and at village festivals in the summer. 
But the Courts of Love are no longer in existence gravely to superintend all 
these diversions (Fig. 181). 

Amongst the amusements which time has not obliterated, but which, on 
the contrary, seems destined to be of longer duration than monuments of 
stone and brass, we must name dancing, which was certainly one of the 
principal amusements of society, and which has come down to us through all 
religions, all customs, all people, and all ages, preserving at the same time 
much of its original character. Dancing appears, at each period of the 
world's history, to have been alternately religious and profane, lively and 
solemn, frivolous and severe. Though dancing was as common an amuse- 
ment formerly as it is now, there was this essential difference between the 
two periods, namely, that certain people, such as the Romans, were very fond 
of seeing dancing, but did not join in it themselves. Tiberius drove the 
dancers out of Home, and Domitian dismissed certain senators from their 
seats in the senate who had degraded themselves by dancing ; and there 
seems to be no doubt that the Romans, from the conquest of Julius Caesar, 
did not themselves patronise the art. There were a number of professional 
dancers in Gaul, as well as in the other provinces of the Roman Empire, 
who were hired to dance at feasts, and who endeavoured to do their best to 
make their art as popular as possible. The lightheadedness of the Crauls, 
their natural gaiety, their love for violent exercise and for pleasures of all 
sorts, made them delight in dancing, and indulge in it with great energy ; 



and thus, notwithstanding the repugnance of the Roman aristocracy and the 
prohibitions and anathemas of councils and synods, dancing has always been 
one of the favourite pastimes of the Gauls and the French. 

Leuce Carin, a writer of doubtful authority, states that in the early 
history of Christianity the faithful danced, or rather stamped, in measured 
time during religious ceremonials, gesticulating and distorting themselves. 
This is, however, a mistake. The only thing approaching to it was the 

Fig. 182. — Dancers on Christmas Kight punished for their Impiety, and condemned to dance for 
a whole Year (Legend of the Fifteenth Century). — Fac-simile of a Woodcut by P. Wohlge- 
muth, in the " Liber Chronieorum Mundi :" folio (Nuremberg, 14913). 

slight trace of the ancient Pagan dances which remained in the feast of the 
first Sunday in Lent, and which probably belonged to the religious ceremonies 
of the Druids. At nightfall fires were lighted in public places, and numbers 
of people danced madly round them. Rioting and disorderly conduct often 
resulted from this popular feast, and the magistrates were obliged to interfere 
in order to suppress it. The church, too, did not close her eyes to the abuses 
which this feast engendered, although episcopal admonitions were not always 
listened to (Fig. 182). We see, in the records of one of the most recent 


Councils of Narbonne, that the custom of dancing in the churches and in 
the cemeteries on certain feasts had not been abolished in some parts of the 
Languedoc at the end of the sixteenth century. 

Dancing was at all times forbidden by the Catholic Church on account of 
its tendency to corrupt the morals, and for centuries ecclesiastical authority 
was strenuously opposed to it ; but, on the other hand, it could not complain 
of want of encouragement from the civil power. When King Childebert, in 
554, forbade all dances in his domains, hi' was only induced to do so by the 
influence of the bishops. We have but little information respecting the 
dances of this period, and it would lie impossible accurately to determine as 
to the justice of their being forbidden. They were certainly no longer those 
war-dances which the Franks had brought with them, and which antiquarians 
have mentioned under the name of Pi/rrhie/iieiuie dances. In any case war- 
dances reappeared at the commencement of chivalry ; for, when a new knight 
was elected, all the knights in full armour performed evolutions, either on 
foot or on horseback, to the sound of military music, and the populace 
danced round them. It has been said that this was the origin of court 
ballets, and La Colombiere, in his " Theatre d'llonneur et de Chevalerie," 
relates that this ancient dance of the knights was kept up by the Spaniards, 
who called it the Moresque. 

The Middle Ages was the great epoch for dancing, especially in France. 
There were an endless number of dancing festivals, and, from reading the 
old poets and romancers, one might imagine that the French had never 
anything better to do than to dance, and that at all hours of the day and 
night. A curious argument in favour of the practical utility of dancing is 
suggested by Jean Tabouret in his " Orchesographie," published at Langres 
in 1088, under the name of Thoinot Arbeau. lie says, "Dancing is prac- 
tised in order to see whether lovers are healthy and suitable for one another: 
at the end of a dance the gentlemen are permitted to kiss their mistresses, in 
order that they may ascertain if they have an agreeable breath. In this 
matter, besides many other good results which follow from dancing, it 
becomes necessary for the good governing of society." Such was the doctrine 
of the Courts of Love, which stoutly took up the defence of dancing against 
the clergy. In those days, as soon as the two sexes were assembled in 
sufficient numbers, before or after the feasts, the balls began, and men and 
women took each other by the hand and commenced the performance in regular 

i I 

24 2 


steps (Fig. 183). The author of the poem of Provence, called "Flamenca," 
thus allegorically describes these amusements : " Youth and Gaiety opened 

Fig-. 183.— Peasant Dances at the May Feasts.— Pac-simile of a Miniature in a Prayer-book 
of the Fifteenth Century, in the National Library of Paris. 

the ball, accompanied by their sister Bravery ; Cowardice, confused, went of 
her own accord and hid herself." The troubadours mention a great number 
of dances, without describing them ; no doubt they were so familiar that 




they thought a description of them needless. They often speak of the danse 
an virlet, a kind of round dance, during the performance of which each 
person in turn sang a verse, the chorus being repeated by all. In the code 
of the Courts of Love, entitled " Arresta Amorum," that is, the decrees of 
love, the pas de Brabant is mentioned, in which each gentleman bent his 
knee before his lady ; and also the danse mi chapelet, at the end of which each 
dancer kissed his lady. Romances of chivalry frequently mention that knights 
used to dance with the dames and young ladies without taking off their 
helmets and coats of mail. Although this costume was hardly fitted for the 
purpose, we find, in the romance of " Perceforet," that after a repast, whilst 
the tables were being removed, everything was prepared for a ball, and that 
although the knights made no change in their accoutrements, yet the ladies 
went and made fresh toilettes. "Then," says the old novelist, "the young- 
knights and the young ladies began to play their instruments and to have 
the dance." From this custom may be traced the origin of the ancient Gallic 
proverb, "Apres la pause vient la danse" ("After the feast comes the dance"). 
Sometimes a minstrel sang songs to the accompaniment of the harp, and the 
young ladies danced in couples and repeated at intervals the minstrel's songs. 
Sometimes the torch-dance was performed ; in this each performer bore in his 
hand a long lighted taper, and endeavoured to prevent his neighbours from 
blowing it out, which each one tried to do if possible (Fig. 18-1). This dance, 
which was in use up to the end of the sixteenth century at court, was 
generally reserved for weddings. 

Dancing lost much of its simplicity and harmlessness when masquerades 
were introduced, these being the first examples of the ballet. These mas- 
querades, which soon after their introduction became passionately indulged 
in at court under Charles VI., were, at first, only allowed during Carnival, 
and on particular occasions called Charivaris, and they were usually made 
the pretext for the practice of the most licentious follies. These masquerades 
had a most unfortunate inauguration by the catastrophe which rendered the 
madness of Charles YI. incurable, and which is described in history under 
the name of the Burning Bullet. It was on the 29th of January, 1393, that 
this ballet made famous the festival held in the Royal Palace of St. Paul in 
Paris, on the occasion of the marriage of one of the maids of honour of Queen 
Isabel of Bavaria with a gentleman of Vermandois. The bride was a widow, 
and the second nuptials were deemed a fitting occasion for the Charivaris, 



A o-entleman from Normandy, named Hugonin de Gcnsay, thought he could 
create a sensation by having a dance of wild men to please the ladies. " He 
admitted to his plot," says Froissart, " the king and four of the principal 
nobles of the court. These all had themselves sewn up in close-fitting linen 
o-;u*ments covered with resin on which a quantity of tow was glued, and in 

Fig. 185.— The Burning Ballet.— Fae-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the 
" Chroniquos" of Froissart (Fifteenth Century), in the National Library of Paris. 

this guise they appeared in the middle of the ball. The king was alone, but 
the other four were chained together. They jumped about like madmen, 
uttered wild cries, and made all sorts of eccentric gestures. No one knew 
who these hideous objects were, but the Duke of Orleans determined to find 
out, so he took a candle and imprudently approached too near one of the men. 


2 45 

The tow caught fire, and the flames enveloped Lira and the other throe who 
were chained to him in a moment." " They wen; burning for nearly an hour 
like torches," says a chronicler. " The king had the good fortune to escape 
the peril, because the Duchesso de Berry, his aunt, recognised him, and had 
the presence of mind to envelop him in her train" (Fig. ISO). Such a 
calamity, one would have thought, might have been sufficient to disgust 
people with masquerades, but they were none the less in favour at court 
formally years afterwards; and, two centuries later, the author of the 
" Orchesographie " thus writes on this subject: "Kings and princes <nve 
dances and masquerades for amusement and in order to afford a joyful welcome 
to foreign nobles ; we also practise the same amusements on the celebration 

Kg. 18G. — Musicians accompanying the Dancing. — Fac-similo of a Wood Engraving in the 
" Orchesographie" of Thoinut Arbeau (Julian Tahourot) : Ito (Laugres, loss). 

of marriages." In no country in the world was dancing practised with more 
grace and elegance than in France. Foreign dances of every kind were 
introduced, and, after being remodelled and brought to as great perfection 
as possible, they were often returned to the countries from which the}' had 
been imported under almost a new character. 

In 1548, the dances of the Bearnais, which were much admired at the 
court of the Comtes de Foix, especially those called the dilute mmirvxqiir and 
the dame des sauvages, were introduced at the court of France, and excited 
great merriment. So popular did they become, that with a little modifica- 
tion they soon were considered essentially French. The German dances, 
which were distinguished by the rapidity of their movements, were also 



thoroughly established at the court of France. Italian, Milanese, Spanish 
and Piedmontese dances were in fashion in France before the expedition of 
Charles VIII. into Italy ; and when this king, followed by his youthful 
nobility, passed over the mountains to march to the conquest of Naples, lie 
found everywhere in the towns that welcomed him, and in which balls and 
masquerades were given in honour of his visit, the dance « la mode de France 
which consisted of a sort of medley of the dances of all countries. Some 
hundreds of these dances have been enumerated in the fifth book of the 
" Pantagruel " of Rabelais, and in various humorous works of those who 
succeeded him. They owed their success to the singing with which they 
were generally accompanied, or to the postures, pantomimes, or drolleries 
with which they were supplemented for the amusement of the spectators. A 

Fig. 187.— The Dance called "La Gaillarde."— Facsimile of Wood Engravings from tlit 
" Orckesographie " of Thoinot Aiijoau (Jehan Tabouret) : 4to (Langres, 1588). 

few, and amongst others that of the five steps and that of the three faces, are 
mentioned in the " History of the Queen of Navarre." 

Dances were divided into two distinct classes — danses basses, or common 
and regular dances, which did not admit of jumping, violent movements, 
or extraordinary contortions — and the danses par haut, which were irregular, 
and comprised all sorts of antics and buffoonery. The regular French dance 
was a basse dance, called the gaillarde; it was accompanied by the sound of 
the hautbois and tambourine, and originally it was danced with great form 
and state. This is the dance which Jean Tabourot has described ; it began 
with the two performers standing opposite to each other, advancing, bowing, 
and retiring. " These advancings and retirings were done in steps to the 
tunc ol the music, and continued until the instrumental accompaniment 


2 47 

stopped ; then the gentleman made his bow to the lady, took her by the hand, 
thanked her, and led her to her seat." The foiirdiun was similar to the 
gaillarde, only faster, and was accompanied with more action. Each 
province of France had its national dance, such as the bourree of Auver<me, 
the trioris of Brittany, the brailles of Poitou, and the raises of Lorraine, 
which constituted a very agreeable pastime, and one in which the French 
excelled all other nations. Tin's art, "so ancient, so honourable, and so 
profitable," to use the words of Jean Tabourot, was long in esteem in the 
highest social circles, and the old men liked to display their agility, and the 
dames and young ladies to find a temperate exercise calculated to contribute 
to their health as well as to their amusement. 

The sixteenth century was the great era of dancing in all the courts of 
Europe; but under the Yalois, the art had more charm and prestige at the 
court of France than anywhere else. The Queen-mother, Catherine, 
surrounded by a crowd of pretty young ladies, who composed what she called 
her flying squadron, presided at these exciting dances. A certain Balthazar 
de Beaujoyeux was master of her ballets, and they danced at the Castle of 
Blois the night before the Due de Guise was assassinated under the eyes 
of Henry III., just as they had danced at the Chateau of the Tuileries the 
clay after St. Bartholomew's Bay. 

Fig. IRs.— The Game of Bob Apple, or Swin^im* Apple— Mnmiseript of the Fourteenth 
Century, in the British Museum. 


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 Bandit, 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. 

OMMERCE in the Middle Ages," 
says M. Charles Grandniaison, " dif- 
fered but little from that of a more 
remote period. It was essentially a 
local and limited traffic, rather inland 
than maritime, for long and perilous 
sea voyages only commenced towards 
the end of the fifteenth century, or 
about the time when Columbus dis- 
covered America." 

On the fall of the Roman Empire, 
commerce was .rendered insecure, and, indeed, it was almost completely put 
a stop to by the barbarian invasions, and all facility of communication 
between different nations, and even between towns of the same country, was 
interrupted. In those times of social confusion, there were periods of such 
poverty and distress, that for want of money commerce was reduced to the 
simple exchange of the positive necessaries of life. "When order was a little 
restored, and society and the minds of people became more composed, we 
see commerce recovering its position ; and France was, perhaps, the first 
country in Europe in which this happy change took place. Those famous 
cities of Gaul, which ancient authors describe to us as so rich and so indus- 
trious, quickly recovered their former prosperity, and the friendly relations 
which were established between the kino's of the Franks and the Eastern 



Empire encouraged the Gallic cities in cultivating a commerce, which was at 
that time the most important and most extensive in the world. 

Marseilles, the ancient Phoenician colony, once the rival and then the 
successor to Carthage, was undoubtedly at the head of the commercial cities 
of France. Next to her came Aries, which supplied ship-builders and 
seamen to the fleet of Provence; and Narbonne, which admitted into its 
harbour ships from Spain, Sicily, and Africa, until, in consecpicnce of the 
Aude having changed its course, it was obliged to relinquish the greater part 
of its maritime commerce in favour of Montpellier. 

Commerce maintained frequent communications with the East ; it sought 





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Fig. 180. — View of Alexandria in Egypt, in the Sixteenth Century. — Facsimile of a Woodcut in 
the Travels of P. Belon, " Observations do Plusieurs Singularitez,'' &o. : 4to (Paris, I0S8). 

its supplies on the coast of Syria, and especially at Alexandria, in Egypt, 
which was a kind of depot for goods obtained from the rich countries lying 
beyond the Red Sea (Figs. 189 and 190). The Frank navigators imported 
from these countries, groceries, linen, Egyptian paper, pearls, perfumes, and 
a thousand other rare and choice articles. In exchange they offered chiefly 
the precious metals in bars rather than coined, and it is probable that 
at this period they also exported iron, wines, oil, and wax, The agricul- 
tural produce and manufactures of Caul had not sufficiently developed 

ic K 


to provide anything more than what was required for the producers them- 
selves. Industry was as yet, if not purely domestic, confined to monasteries 
and to the houses of the nobility ; and even the kings employed women or 
serf workmen to manufacture the coarse stuffs with which they clothed them- 
selves and their households. We may add, that the bad state of the roads, 
the little security they offered to travellers, the extortions of all kinds to 
which foreign merchants were subjected, and above all the iniquitous system 

Fig. li)0. — Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of Camels. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the 
" Cosmographie Universelle," of Thevet: folio, 1575. 

of fines and tolls which each landowner thought right to exact, before letting 
merchandise pass through his domains, all created insuperable obstacles to 
the development of commerce. 

The Frank kings on several occasions evinced a desire that communica- 
tions favourable to trade should be re-established in their dominions. We 
find, for instance, Chilperic making treaties with Eastern emperors in favour 

COlfMERCE. 251 

of the merchants of Agde and Marseilles, Queen Brunehaut making viaducts 
worthy of the Romans, and which still hear her name, and Dagoburt opening 
at St. Denis free fairs — that is to say, free, or nearly so, from all tolls and 
taxes — to which goods, both agricultural and manufactured, were; scut from 
every corner of Europe and the known world, to be afterwards distributed 
through the towns and provinces by the enterprise of internal commerce. 

After the reign of Dagobert, commerce again declined without positively 
ceasing, for the revolution, which transferred the power of the kings to the 
mayors of the palace was not of a nature to exhaust the resources of public pros- 
perity ; and a charter of 710 proves that the merchants of Saxony, England, 
Normandy, and even Hungary, still nocked to the fairs of St. Denis. 

Under the powerful and administrative hand of Charlemagne, the roads 
being better kept up, and the rivers being made more navigable, commerce 
became safe and more general; the coasts were protected from piratical 
incursions ; lighthouses were erected at dangerous points, to prevent ship- 
wrecks ; and treaties of commerce with foreign nations, including even the 
most distant, guaranteed the liberty and security of French traders abroad. 

Under the weak successors of this monarch, notwithstanding their many 
efforts, commerce was again subjected to all sorts of injustice and extortions, 
and all its safeguards were rapidly destroyed. The Moors in the south, 
and the Normans in the north, appeared to desire to destroy everything 
which came in their way, and already Marseilles, in S-'!S, was taken and 
pillaged by the Greeks. The constant altercations between the sons of Louis 
le Debonnaire and their unfortunate father, their jealousies amongst them- 
selves, and their fratricidal wars, increased the measure of public calamity, so 
that soon, overrun by foreign enemies and destroyed by ber own sons, France 
became a vast held of disorder and desolation. 

The Church, which alone possessed some social influence, never ceased to 
use its authority in endeavouring to remedy this miserable state of things ; 
but episcopal edicts, papal anathemas, and decrees of councils, had only a 
partial effect at this unhappy period. At any moment agricultural and com- 
mercial operations were liable to be interrupted, if not completely ruined, by 
the violence of a wild and rapacious soldiery ; at every step the roads, often 
impassable, were intercepted by toll-bars for some due of a vexatious nature, 
besides beino; continually infested by bands of brigands, who carried off the 
merchandise and murdered those few merchants who were so bold as to attempt 


to continue their business. It was the Church, occupied as she was with 
the interests of civilisation, who again assisted commerce to emerge from 
the state of annihilation into which it had fallen ; and the " Peace or Truce 
of God," established in 1041, endeavoured to stop at least the internal 

Fig. 191. — Trade on the Sea-ports of the Levant. — After a Miniature in a Manuscript of the 
Travels of Marco Polo (Fifteenth Century), Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

wars of feudalism, and it succeeded, at any rate for a time, in arresting these 
disorders. This was all that could be done at that period, and the Church 
accomplished it, by taking the high hand ; and with as much unselfishness 
as energy and courage, she regulated society, which had been abandoned by 
the civil power from sheer impotence an'd want of administrative capability. 


At all events, thanks to ecclesiastical foresight, which increased the 
number of fairs and markets at the gates of abbeys and convents, the first 
step was made towards the general resuscitation of commerce. Indeed, the 
Church may be said to have largely contributed to develop the spirit of 
progress and liberty, whence were to spring societies and nationalities, and, 
in a word, modern organization. 

The Eastern commerce furnished the first elements of that trading 
activity which showed itself on the borders of the Mediterranean, and wo 
find the ancient towns of Provence and Languedoc springing up again by the 
side of the republics of Amalfi, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, which had become 
the rich depots of all maritime trade. 

At first, as we have already stated, the wares of India came to Europe 
through the Greek port of Alexandria, or through Constantinople. The 
Crusades, which had facilitated the relations with Eastern countries, developed 
a taste in the Vest for their indigenous productions, gave a fresh vigour to 
this foreign commerce, and rendered it more productive by removing the 
stumbling blocks which had arrested its progress (Eig. 191). 

The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders had first opened all the 
towns and harbours of this wealthy region to Western traders, and many of 
them were able permanently to establish themselves there, with all sorts of 
privileges and exemptions from taxes, which were gladly offered to them by 
the nobles who had transferred feudal power to Mussulman territories. 

Ocean commerce assumed from this moment proportions hitherto 
unknown. Notwithstanding the papal bulls and decrees, which forbade 
Christians from having any connection with infidels, the voice of interest was 
more listened to than that of the Church (Fig. 192), and traders did not fear 
to disobey the political and religious orders which forbade them to carry 
arms and slaves to the enemies of the faith. 

It was easy to foretell, from the very first, that the military occupation 
of the Holy Land would not be permanent. In consequence of this, there- 
fore, the nearer the loss of this fine conquest seemed to lie, the greater were 
the efforts made by the maritime towns of the West to re-establish, on a more 
solid and lasting basis, a commercial alliance with Egypt, the country which 
they selected to replace Palestine, in a mercantile point of view. Marseilles 
was the greatest supporter of this intercourse with Egypt; and in the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries she reached a very high position, which she owed to 

-5 + 



J O mtiif moi( ( rSnmnf <nr mott or cff compare n namu ftfr met ou' tiufcrt pf of* 
J,(enfepotiant rtdjemrtrrfifl-ttStfr.l frquefftfpruff ScititanpoztquePe mattfiant 
Dcfiretffmrjjratrapit ftcfje. lid train™ .quant entrctij tirer. htfquee arft'ij befoiiSopct 
Qt,tfttt) «ran8 pcrif bcfFrr nopcr ou -pitfr bee mttentpe| iTat fri titer foitf f owjroifts 
jjett%. "CfP eft fcroips be ffjomnic Siuanf an m'on&e/ fa marrRatioife qailfotu 
eft fot) ante/ tteZutueii Sotines omuree* %tpott c\f patatiej ^uqudquipparl 
mew eff fouuerapnement ticfjr] %wm» eft fc montfe pfatjj t)c Swce tf pcefc. 
qw qui fimff a fc pcrffer ffkt) period Dagtcrg&eco W crmCfl Ocjfeeirop&eij tomcttftf- 
4iitle/cioi^OicU'|iat;[a;g L TOce«oue2iuiffcso>r5Wf2lmfi),* 

Fig. 192. — Merchant Vessel in a Storm. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Grand Kalendrier et 
Compost des Bergers," in folio : printed at Troves, about 1190, by Nicolas de Rouge. 

* " Mortal man, living in the world, is compared to a vessel on perilous seas, hearing rich mer- 
chandise, by which, if it can come to harbour, the merchant will be rendered rich and happy. The 
ship from the commencement to the end of its voyage is in great peril of being lost or taken by an 
enemy, for the seas are always beset with .perils. So is the body of man during its sojourn in the 
world. The merchandise he bears is bis soul, his virtues, and his good deeds. The harbour ia 
paradise, and he who reaches that haven is made supremely rich. The sea is the world, full of 
vices and sins, and in which all, during their passage through life, are in peril and danger ot 
losing body and soul and of being drowned in the infernal sea, from which God in His grace keep 
us ' Amen." 


2 5 5 

her shipowners and traders. In the fourteenth century, however, the princes 
of the house of Anjou ruined her like the rest of Provence, in the great and 
fruitless efforts which they made to recover the kingdom of Naples ; and it 
was not until the reign of Louis XL that tho old Phoenician city recovered 
its maritime and commercial prosperity (Pig. 193). 





:i /x* ^-ry ^ l\tyrv 

1'ig. 193. — View and Plan of Marseilles and its Harbour, in the Sixteenth Century. — From a 
Copper-plate in the Collection of G. Bruin, in folio : " Theatre des Citcz du Monde " 

Languedoc, depressed, and for a time nearly ruined in the thirteenth 
century by the effect of the wars of the Albigenses, was enabled, subse- 
quently, to recover itself. Beziers, Agde, Narbonne, and especially Mont- 
pellier, so quickly established important trading connections with all the 


ports of the Mediterranean, that at the end of the fourteenth century consuls 
were appointed at each of these towns, in order to protect and direct their 
transmarine commerce. A traveller of the twelfth century, Benjamin de 
Tudele, relates that in these ports, which were afterwards called the stepping- 
stones to the Levant, every language in the world might be heard. 

Toulouse was soon on a par with the towns of Lower Languedoc, and the 
Garonne poured into the markets, not only the produce of Guienne, and of 
the western parts of France, but also those of Flanders, Normandy, and 
England. We may observe, however, that Bordeaux, although placed in a 
most advantageous position, at the mouth of the river, only possessed, when 
under the English dominion, a very limited commerce, principally confined 
to the export of wines to Great Britain in exchange for corn, oil, &c. 

La Bochelle, on the same coast, was much more flourishing at this period, 
owing- to the numerous coasters which carried the wines of Aunis and 
iSaintonge, and the salt of Brouage to Flanders, the Netherlands, and the 
north of Germany. Vitre already had its silk manufactories in the fifteenth 
century, and Nantes gave promise of her future greatness as a depot of 
maritime commerce. It was about this time also that the fisheries became 
a new industry, in which Bayonnc and a few villages on the sea-coast took 
the lead, some being especially engaged in whaling, and others in the cod 
and herring fisheries (Fig. 194). 

Long before this, Normandy had depended on other branches of trade for 
its commercial prosperity. Its fabrics of woollen stuffs, its arms and cutlery, 
besides the agricultural productions of its fertile and well cultivated soil, 
each furnished material for export on a large scale. 

The towns of Bouen and Caen were especially manufacturing cities, and 
were very rich. This was the case with Bouen particularly, which was 
situated on the Seine, and was at that time an extensive depot for provisions 
and other merchandise which was sent down the river for export, or was 
imported for future internal consumption. Already Paris, the abode of 
kings, and the metropolis of government, began to foreshadow the immense 
development which it was destined to undergo, by becoming the centre of 
commercial affairs, and by daily adding to its labouring and mercantile 
population (Figs. 195 and 196). 

It was, however, outside the walls of Paris that commerce, which needed 
liberty as well as protection, at first progressed most rapidly. The northern 


2 r, 

provinces hod early united manufacturing industry with traffic, and this 
double source of local prosperity was the origin of their enormous wealth. 
Ghent and Bruges in the Low Countries, and Bcauvais and Arras, were cele- 
brated for their manufacture of cloths, carpets, and serge, and Camhrai for 
its fine cloths. The artizans and merchants of these industrious cities then 

Fig. 194. — Whale-Fishing. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie Univeraelle" oi' 

Thevet, in folio : Paris, 1574. 

established their powerful corporations, whose unwearied energy gave rise to 
that commercial freedom so favourable to trade. 

More important than the woollen manufactures — for the greater part of 
the wool used was brought from England — was the manufacture of flax, 
inasmuch as it encouraged agriculture, the raw material being produced 
in France. This first flourished in the north-cast of France, and spread 
slowly to Picardy, to Beauvois, and Brittany. The central countries, with 

L I. 


the exception of Bruges, whose cloth manufactories were already celebrated 
in the fifteenth century, remained essentially agricultural ; and their principal 
towns were merely depots for imported goods. The institution of fairs, 
however, rendered, it is true, this commerce of some of the towns as wide- 
spread as it was productive. In the Middle Ages religious feasts and cere- 
monials almost always gave rise to fairs, which commerce was not slow in 
multiplying as much as possible. The merchants naturally came to exhibit 
their goods where the largest concourse of people afforded the greatest pro- 
mise of their readily disposing of them. As early as the first dynasty of 
Merovingian kings, temporary and periodical markets of this kind existed ; 
but except at St. Denis, articles of local consumption only were brought to 
them. The reasons for this were, the heavy taxes which were levied by the 
feudal lords on all merchandise exhibited for sale, and the danger which 
foreign merchants ran of being plundered on their way, or even at the fair 
itself. These causes for a long time delayed the progress of an institution 
which was afterwards destined to become so useful and beneficial to all 
classes of the community. 

We have several times mentioned the famous fair of Landit, which is 
supposed to have been established by Charlemagne, but which no doubt was 
a sort of revival of the fairs of St. Denis, founded by Dagobert, and which 
for a time had fallen into disuse in the midst of the general ruin which 


preceded that emperor's reign. This fair of Landit was renowned over the 
whole of Europe, and attracted merchants from all countries. It was held 
in the month of June, and only lasted fifteen days. Goods of all sorts, both 
of homo and foreign manufacture, were sold, but the sale of parchment 
was the principal object of the fair, to purchase a supply of which the 
University of Paris regularly went in procession. On account of its special 
character, this fair was of less general importance than the six others, which 
from the twelfth century were held at Troyes, Provins, Lagny-sur-Marne, 
Pheims, and Bar-sur-Aube. These infused so much commercial vitality 
into the province of Champagne, that the nobles for the most part shook 
off the prejudice which forbad their entering into any sort of trading 

Fairs multiplied in the centre and in the south of France simultaneously. 
Those of Puy-en-Velay, now the capital of the Hautc-Loire, are looked upon 
as the most ancient, and they preserved their old reputation and attracted a 



considerable concourse of people, which was also increased by the pilgrimages 
then made to Notre-Dame du l'uy. These fairs, which were mure of a 
religious than of a commercial character, were then of loss importance as 
regards trade than those held at Beaucaire. This town rose to great repute 
in the thirteenth century, and, with the Lyons market, became at that time 
the largest centre of commerce in the southern provinces. Placed at the 
junction of the Saone and the Rhone, Lyons owed its commercial develop- 
ment to the proximity of Marseilles and the towns of Italy. Its four annual 

Fig. 195.— Measurers of Corn in Paris. Pig. 196.— Hay Carriers. 

Pac-simile of Woodcuts from the " Royal Orders concerning the Jurisdiction of the Company ot 
Merchants and Shrievalty in the City of Paris," in small folio goth. : Jacques Nyverd, 1028. 

fairs were always much frequented, and when the kings of France transferred 
to it the privileges of the fairs of Champagne, and transplanted to within 
its walls the silk manufactories formerly established at Tours, Lyons really 
became the second city of France. 

It may be asserted as an established fact that the gradual extension of 
the power of the king, produced by the fall of feudalism, was favourable to 
the extension of commerce. As early as the reign of Louis IX. many laws 
and regulations prove that the kings were alive to the importance of trade. 


Among the chief enactments was one which led to the formation of the 
harbour of Aigues-Mortes on the Mediterranean ; another to the publication 
of the book of " Weights and Measures," by Etienne Boileau, a work in 
which the ancient statutes of the various trades were arranged and codified ; 
and a third to the enactment made in the very year of this king's death, to 
guarantee the security of vendors, and, at, the same time, to ensure purchasers 
against fraud. All these bear undoubted witness that an enlightened policy 
in favour of commerce had already sprung up. 

Philippe le Bel issued several prohibitory enactments also in the interest 
of home commerce and local industry, which Louis X. confirmed. Philippe 
le Long attempted even to outdo the judicious efforts of Louis XL, and 
tried, though unsuccessfully, to establish a uniformity in the weights and 
measures throughout the kingdom ; a reform, however, which was never 
accomplished until the revolution of 1780. It is difficult to credit how 
many different weights and measures were in vise at that time, each one 
varying according to local custom or the choice of the lord of the soil, who 
probably in some way profited by the confusion which this uncertain state 
of things must have produced. The fraud and errors to which this led may 
easily be imagined, particularly in the intercourse between one part of the 
country and another. The feudal stamp is here thoroughly exhibited ; as 
M. Charles do Grandmaison remarks, " Xothing is fixed, nothing is uniform, 
everything is special and arbitrary, settled by the lord of the soil by virtue 
of his right of just esse, by which he undertook the regulation and super- 
intendence of the weights and measures in use in his lordship." 

Measures of length and contents often differed much from one another, 
although they might be similarly named, and it would require very com- 
plicated comparative tables approximately to fix their value. The pied de 
was from ten to twelve inches, and was the least varying measure. Th 
fathom differed much in different parts, and in the attempt to determine the 
relations between the innumerable measures of contents which we find 
recorded — a knowledge of which must have been necessary for the commerce 
of the period — we are stopped b} T a labyrinth of incomprehensible calculations, 
which it is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty. 

The weights were more uniform and less uncertain. The pound was 
everywhere in use, but it was not everywhere of the same standard (Fig. 201). 
For instance, at Paris it weighed sixteen ounces, whereas at Lyons it only 




id i 

weighed fourteen ; and in weighing silk fifteen ounces to the pound was the 
rule. At Toulouse and in Upper Langucdoc the pound was only thirteen 
and a half ounces ; at Marseilles, thirteen ounces; and at other places it even 
tell to twelve ounces. There was in Paris a. public scale called poids <lu roi; 
hut this scale, though a most important means of revenue, was a great 
hindrance to retail trade. 

In spite of these petty and irritating impediments, the commerce of 
France extended throughout the whole world. 


Fig. 197.— View of Lubeck and its Harbour (Sixteenth. Century).— From a Copper-plate in the 
Work of P. Eertius, " Commentaria Rerum Germanicarum," in 4to : Amsterdam, 1616. 

The compass — known in Italy as early as the twelfth century, but little 
used until the fourteenth — enabled the mercantile navy to discover new 
routes, and it was thus that true maritime commerce may be said regularly 
to have begun. The sailors of the Mediterranean, with the help of this little 
instrument, dared to pass the Straits of Gibraltar, and to venture on the 
ocean. From that moment commercial intercourse, which had previously 
only existed by land, and that with great difficulty, was permanently esta- 
blished between the northern and southern harbours of Europe. 

Flanders was the central port for merchant vessels, which arrived in great 


numbers from the Mediterranean, and Bruges became the principal depot. 
The Teutonic league, the origin of which dates from the thirteenth century, 
and which formed the most powerful confederacy recorded in history, also 
sent innumerable vessels from its harbours of Lubeck (Fig. 197) and Hamburg. 
These carried the merchandise of the northern countries into Flanders, and 
this rich province, which excelled in every branch of industry, and especially 
in those relating to metals and weaving, became the great market of Europe 
(Fig. 198). 

The commercial movement, formerly limited to the shores of the Mediter- 
ranean, extended to all parts, and gradually became universal. The northern 
states shared in it, and England, which for a long time kept aloof from a 
stage on which it was destined to play the first part, began to give indications 
of its future commercial greatness. The number of transactions increased as 
the facility for carrying them on became greater. Consumption being 
extended, production progressively followed, and so commerce went on 
gaining strength as it widened its sphere. Everything, in fact, seemed to 
contribute to its expansion. The downfall of the feudal system and the 
establishment in each country of a central power, more or less strong and 
respected, enabled it to extend its operations by land with a degree of 
security hitherto unknown ; and, at the same time, international legislation 
came in to protect maritime trade, which was still exposed to great dangers. 
The sea, which was open freely to the whole human race, gave robbers com- 
paratively easy means of following their nefarious practices, and with less fear 
of punishment than they could obtain on the shore of civilised countries. For 
this reason piracy continued its depreciations long after the enactment of 
severe laws for its suppression. 

This maritime legislation did not wait for the sixteenth century to come 
into existence. Maritime law was promulgated more or less in the twelfth 
century, but the troubles and agitations which weakened and disorganized 
empires during that period of the Middle Ages, deprived it of its power and 
efficiency. The Code des Rhodiens dates as far back as 1167 ; the Code de 
la Mer, which became a sort of recognised text-book, dates from the same 
period; the Lois d' Oleroii is anterior to the twelfth century, and ruled the 
western coasts of France, being also adopted in Flanders and in England ; 
Venice dated her most ancient law on maritime rights from 1250, and the 
Statutes of Marseilles date from 1254. 

CO.V.irERCE. zt,. 

The period of the establishment of commercial law and justice corresponds 
with that of the introduction of national and universal codes of law and 
consular jurisdiction. These may be said to have originated in the sixth 
century in the laws of the Visigoths, winch empowered foreign traders to be 
judged by delegates from their own countries. The Venetians had consuls 
in the Greek empire as early as the tenth century, and wo may fairly presume 
that the French had consuls in Palestine during the reign of Charlemagne. 
In the thirteenth century the towns of Italy had consular agents in France ; 
and Marseilles had them in Savoy, in Aries, and in Genoa. Thus traders of 
each country were always sure of finding justice, assistance, and protection 
in all the centres of European commerce. 

Numerous facilities tor barter were added to these advantages. Merchants, 
who at hist travelled with their merchandise, and who afterwards merely 
sent a factor as their representative, finally consigned it to foreign agents. 
Communication by correspondence in this way became more general, and 
paper replaced parchment as being less rare and less expensive. The intro- 
duction of Arabic figures, which were more convenient than the Roman 
numerals for making calculations, the establishment of banks, of which the 
most ancient was in operation in Venice as early as the twelfth century, the 
invention of bills of exchange, attributed to the Jews, and generally in use in 
tlie thirteenth century, the establishment of insurance against the risks and 
perils of sea and land, and lastly, the formation of trading companies, or what 
are now called partnerships, all tended to give expansion and activity to 
commerce, whereby public and private wealth was increased in spite of 
obstacles which routine, envy, ami ill-will persistently raised against great 
commercial enterprises. 

For a long time the French, through indolence or antipathy — for it was 
more to their liking to lie occupied with arms and chivalry than with matters 
of interest and profit — took but a. feeble part in the trade which was carried 
on so successfully on their own territory. The nobles were ashamed to mix 
in commerce, considering it unworthy of them, and the bourgeois, tor want, 
of liberal feeling and expansiveness in their ideas, were satisfied with appro- 
priating merely local trade. Foreign commerce, even of the most lucrative 
description, was handed over to foreigners, and especially to Jews, who were 
often banished from the kingdom and as frequently ransomed, though 
universally despised and hated. Notwithstanding this, they succeeded in 



rising to wealth under the stigma of shame and infamy, and the immense 
gains which they realised by means of usury reconciled them to, and consoled 
them for, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected. 

At a very early period, and especially when the Jews had been absolutely 
expelled, the advantage of exclusively trading with and securing the rich profits 
from France had attracted the Italians, who were frequently only Jews in 

Fie;. 199. — Discovery of America, 12th of May, 1492. — Columbus erects the Cross and baptizes the 
Isle of Guanahani (now Cat Island, one of the Bahamas) by the Christian Name of St. Salvador.— 
From a Stamp engraved on Copper by Bry, in the Collection of " Grands Voyages," 
in folio, 1590. 

disguise, concealing themselves as to their character under the generic name 
of Lombards. It was under this name that the French kings gave them on 
different occasions various privileges, when they frequented the fairs of 
Champagne and came to establish themselves in the inland and seaport 
towns. These Italians constituted the great corporation of money-changers 
in Paris, and hoarded in their coffers all the coin of the kingdom, and in this 

COMMERCE. 2 6 5 

way caused a perpetual variation in the value of money, by which they 
themselves benefited. 

In the sixteenth century the wars of Italy rather changed matters, and 
we find royal and important concessions increasing- in favour of Castilians 
and other Spaniards, whom the people maliciously called negroes, and who had 
emigrated in order to engage in commerce and manufactures in Saintonge, 
Normandy, Burgundy, Agenois, and Languedoc. 

About the time of Louis XL, the French, becoming more alive to their 
true interests, began to manage their own affairs, following the sus'2'es- 
tions and advice of the King, whose democratic instincts prompted him to 
encourage and favour the bourgeois. This result was also attributable to 
the state of peace and security which then began to exist in the kingdom, 
impoverished and distracted as it had been by a hundred years of domestic 
and foreign warfare. 

From 1365 to 1382 factories and warehouses were founded by Norman 
navigators on the western coast of Africa, in Senegal and Guinea. Numerous 
fleets of merchantmen, of great size for those days, were employed in trans- 
porting cloth, grain of all kinds, knives, brandy, salt, and other merchandise, 
which were bartered for leather, ivory, gum, amber, and gold dust. Con- 
siderable profits were realised by the shipowners and merchants, who, like 
Jacques Cceur, employed ships for the purpose of carrying on these large and 
lucrative commercial operations. These facts sufficiently testify the condition 
of France at this period, and prove that this, like other branches of human 
industry, was arrested in its expansion by the political troubles which 
followed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

Fortunately these social troubles were not universal, and it was just at 
the period when France was struggling and had become exhausted and 
impoverished that the Portuguese extended their discoveries on the same 
coast of Africa, and soon after succeeded in rounding the Cape of Good 
Hope, and opening a new maritime road to India, a country which was 
always attractive from the commercial advantages which it ottered. 

Some years after, Christopher Columbus, the Genoese, more daring and 
more fortunate still, guided by the compass and impelled by his own genius, 
discovered a new continent, the fourth continent of the world (Fig. 199). 
This unexpected event, the greatest and most remarkable of the age, neces- 
sarily enlarged the field for produce as well as for consumption to an 

M M 


enormous extent, and naturally added, not only to the variety and quantity 
of exchangeable wares, but also to the production of the precious metals, and 
brought about a complete revolution in the laws of the whole civilised world. 

Maritime commerce immediately acquired an extraordinary development, 
and merchants, forsaking the harbours of the Mediterranean, and even those 
of the Levant, which then seemed to them scarcely worthy of notice, sent 
their vessels by thousands upon the ocean in pursuit of the wonderful riches 
of the New World. The day of caravans and coasting had passed ; Venice 
had lost its splendour ; the sway of the Mediterranean was over ; the com- 
merce of the world was suddenly transferred from the active and industrious 
towns of that sea, which had so long monopolized it, to the Western 
nations, to the Portuguese and (Spaniards first, and then to the Dutch and 

France, absorbed in, and almost rained by civil war, and above all by 
religious dissensions, only played a subordinate part in this commercial and 
pacific revolution, although it has been said that the sailors of Dieppe and 
Ilonfleur really discovered America before Columbus. Nevertheless the 
kings of France, Louis XII., Francis I., and Henry II., tried to establish 
and encourage transatlantic voyages, and to create, in the interest of French 
commerce, colonies on the coasts of the New World, from Florida and 
Virginia to Canada. 

But these colonies had but a precarious and transitory existence ; fisheries 
alone succeeded, and French commerce continued insignificant, circumscribed, 
and domestic, notwithstanding the increasing requirements of luxury at 
court. This luxury contented itself with the use of the merchandise which 
arrived from the Low Countries, Spain, and Italy. National industry did 
all in its power to surmount this ignominious condition ; she specially turned 
her attention to the manufacture of silks and of stuff's tissued with gold and 
silver. The only practical attempt of the government in the sixteenth 
century to protect commerce and manufactures was to forbid the import of 
foreign merchandise, and to endeavour to oppose the progress of luxury by 
rigid enactments. 

Certainly the government of that time little understood the advantages 
which a country derived from commerce when it forbade the higher classes 
from engaging in mercantile pursuits under penalty of having their privileges 
of nobility withdrawn from them. In the face of the examples of Italy, 



Genoa, Venice, and especially of Florence, where the nobles were all traders 
or sons of traders, the kings of (lie line of Valois thought proper to make 
this enactment. The desire seemed to be to make the merchant class a 
separate class, stationary, and consisting exclusively of bourgeois, shut up 
in their counting-houses, and prevented in every way from participating in 

Pig. 200.— Medal to commemorate the Association of the Merchants of the City of Rouen. 

public life. The merchants became indignant at this banishment, and, 
in order to employ their leisure, they plunged with all their energy into 
the sanguinary struggles of Reform and of the League. 

It was not until the reign of II. airy IV. that they again confined them- 
selves to their occupations as merchants, when Sully published the political 
suggestions of his master for renewing commercial prosperity. From this 



time a new era commenced in the commercial destiny of France. Commerce 
fostered and protected by statesmen, sought to extend its operations with 
greater freedom and power. Companies were formed at Paris, Marseilles 
Lyons, and Rouen to carry French merchandise all over the world, and the 
rules of the mercantile associations, in spite of the routine and jealousies 
which guided the trade corporations, became the code which afterwards 



(Fig. 200). 


Fig. 201. -Standard Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at Mans : Sign of the Syren (End of the 

Sixteenth Century). 


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 ami Private Organization of Trade 
Corporations and other Communities. — Energy of the Corporations. — Masters, Journeymen, 
Supernumeraries, and Apprentices. — Religious Festivals and Trade Societies. — Trade Unions. 

EARNED authorities have frequently 
discussed, without agreeing, on the 
question of the origin of the Corpora- 
tions of the Middle Ages. It may 
be admitted, we think a priori, that 
associations of artisans were as ancient 
as the trades themselves. It may 
readily be imagined that the nume- 
rous members of the industrial classes, 
having to maintain and defend their 
common rights and common interests, 
would have sought to establish mutual fraternal associations among them- 
selves. The deeper we dive into ancient history the clearer we perceive 
traces, more or less distinct, of these kinds of associations. To cite only two 
examples, which may serve to some extent as an historical parallel to the 
analogous institutions of the present day, we may mention the Roman 
Colleges, which were really leagues of artisans following the same calling ; 
and the Scandinavian guilds, whose object was to assimilate the different 
branches of industry and trade, either of a city or of some particular district. 
Indeed, brotherhoods amongst the labouring classes always existed under 
the German conquerors from the moment when Europe, so long divided into 
Roman provinces, shook off the yoke of subjection to Rome, although she 
still adhered to the laws and customs of the nation which had held her in 
subjection for so many generations. We can, however, only regard the few 


traces which remain of these brotherhoods as evidence of their having once 
existed, and not as indicative of their having been in a flourishing state. In 
the fifth century, the Hermit Ampelius, in his " Legends of the Saints," 
mentions Consuls or Chiefs of Locksmiths. The Corporation of Goldsmiths is 
spoken of as existing in the first dynasty of the French kings. Bakers are 
named collectively in 630 in the laws of Dagobert, which seems to show that 
they formed a sort of trade union at that remote period. We also see 
Charlemagne, in several of his statutes, taking steps in order that the 
number of persons engaged in providing food of different kinds should 
everywhere be adequate to provide for the necessities of consumption, which 
would tend to show a general organization of that most important branch of 
industry. In Lombardy colleges of artisans were established at an early 
period, and were, no doubt, on the model of the Roman ones. Ravenna, in 
943, possessed a College of Fishermen ; and ten years later the records of that 
town mention a Chief of the Corporation of Traders, and, in 1001, a Chief of 
the Corporation of Butchers. France at the same time kept up a remembrance 
of the institutions of Roman Gaul, and the ancient colleges of trades still 
formed associations and companies in Paris and in the larger towns. In 
1061 King Philip I. granted certain privileges to Master Chandlers and 
Oilmen. The ancient customs of the butchers are mentioned as early as the 
time of Louis VII., 1162. The same king granted to the wife of Ives 
Laccobre and her heirs the collectorship of the dues which were payable by 
tanners, purse-makers, curriers, and shoemakers. Under Philip Augustus 
similar concessions became more frequent, and it is evident that at that time 
trade was beginning to take root and to require special and particular 
administration. This led to regulations being drawn up for each trade, to 
which Philip Augustus gave his sanction. In 1182 he confirmed the statutes 
of the butchers, and the furriers and drapers also obtained favourable conces- 
sions from him. 

According to the learned Augustin Thierry, corporations, like civic com- 
munities, were engrafted on previously existing guilds, such as on the colleges 
or corporations of workmen, which were of Roman origin. In the guild, which 
signifies a banquet at common expense, there was a mutual assurance against 
misfortunes and injuries of all sorts, such as fire and shipwreck, and also 
against all lawsuits incurred for offences and crimes, even though they were 
proved against the accused. Each of these associations was placed under 


2 7' 

the patronage of a god or of a hero, and had its compulsory statutes; each 
had its chief or president chosen from among- the members, and a common 
treasury supplied by annual contributions. Roman colleges, as wo have 
already stated, were established with a more special purpose, and were more 
exclusively confined to the peculiar trade to which they belonged ; but these, 
equally with the guilds, possessed a common exchequer, enjoyed equal rights 
and privileges, elected their own presidents, and celebrated in common their 
sacrifices, festivals, and banquets. We have, therefore, good reason for 

Fig. 202. — Craftsmen in the Fourteenth Century. — Fae-simile of a Miniature of a Manuscript in 

the Library of Brussels. 

agreeing in the opinion of the celebrated historian, who considers that in the 
establishment of a corporation "the guild should be to a certain degree the 
motive power, and the Roman college, with its organization, the material 
which should be used to bring it into existence." 

It is certain, however, that during several centuries corporations were 
either dissolved or hidden from public notice, for they almost entirely 
disappeared from the historic records during the partial return to barbarism, 
when the production of objects of daily necessity and the preparation of food 
were entrusted to slaves under the eye of their master. Not till the twelfth 


century did they again begin to nourish, and, as might be supposed, it was 
Italy which gave the signal for the resuscitation of the institutions whose 
birthplace had been Rome, and which barbarism, had allowed to fall into 
decay. Brotherhoods of artisans were also founded at an early period in 
the north of Gaul, whence they rapidly spread beyond the Rhine. Under 
the Emperor Henry I., that is, during the tenth century, the ordinary con- 
dition of artisans in Germany was still serfdom ; but two centuries later the 
greater number of trades in most of the large towns of the empire had con- 
gregated together in colleges or bodies under the name of unions {Einnungen 
or Imvungen) (Fig. 202), as, for example, at Gozlar, at Wurzburg, at Bruns- 
wick, &c. These colleges, however, were not established without much 
difficulty and without the energetic resistance of the ruling powers, inasmuch 
as they often raised their pretensions so high as to wish to substitute their 
authority for the senatorial law, and thus to grasjj the government of the cities. 
The thirteenth century witnessed obstinate and sanguinary feuds between these 
two parties, each of which was alternately victorious. Whichever had the 
upper hand took advantage of the opportunity to carry out the most cruel 
reprisals against its defeated opponents. The emperors Frederick II. and 
Henry VII. tried to put an end to these strifes hy abolishing the corporations 
of workmen, but these powerful associations fearlessly opposed the imperial 
authority. In France the organization of communities of artisans, an 
organization which in many ways was connected with the commercial move- 
ment, but which must not be confounded with it, did not give rise to any 
political difficulty. It seems not even to have met with any opposition 
from the feudal powers, who no doubt found it an easy pretext for levying 
additional rates and taxes. 

The most ancient of these corporations was the Parisian Hanse, or cor- 
poration of the bourgeois for canal navigation, which probably dates its 
origin back to the college of Parisian Nautex, existing before the Roman 
conquest. This mercantile association held its meetings in the island of 
Lutetia, on the very spot where the church of Notre-Dame was afterwards 
built. From the earliest days of monarchy tradesmen constituted entirely 
the bourgeois of the towns (Fig. 203). Above them were the nobility or 
clergy, beneath them the artisans. Hence we can understand how the 
bourgeois, who during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a distinct 
section of the community, became at last the important commercial body 


2 li 

itself. The kings invariably treated them with favour. Louis VI. granted them 
new rights, Louis A IT. confirmed their ancient privileges, and Philip Augustus 
increased them. The Parisian Hanse succeeded in monopolizing all the 
commerce which was carried on by water on the Seine and the Yonno between 
Mantes and Auxerre. No merchandise coming up or down the stream in 
boats could be disembarked in the interior of Paris without becoming, as it 
were, the property of the corporation, which, through its agents, superintended 
its measurement and its sale in bulk, and, up to a certain point, its sale by 


Fig. 203— Merchants or Tradesmen of the Fourteenth I 'entury.— Fac-bimile of ;i Miniature in a 
Manuscript of the Library at Brussels. 

retail. No foreign merchant was permitted to send his goods to Paris without 
first obtaining kttres dc LTansr, whereby he had associated with him a bourgeois 
of the town, who acted as his guarantee, and who shared in his profits. 

There were associations of the same kind in most of the' commercial towns 
situated on the banks of rivers and on the sea-coast, as, for example, at Rouen, 
Aries, Marseilles, Narbonne, Toulouse, Ratisbon, Augsburg, and Utrecht. 
Sometimes neighbouring towns, such as the great manufacturing cities of 
Flanders, agreed together and entered into a leagued bond, which gave them 
greater power, and constituted an offensive and defensive compact (bis. 20 ). 

\ \ 

2 7+ 


A typical example of this last institution is that of the commercial association 
of the Han&eatic Tonus of Germany, which were grouped together to the 
number of eighty around their four capitals, viz., Lubeck, Cologne, Dantzic 
and Brunswick. 

Although, as we have already seen, previous to the thirteenth century 
many of the corporations of artisans had been authorised by several of the 
kings of France to make special laws whereby they might govern them- 

Fig. 204.— Seal of the United Trades of Ghent (End of the Fifteenth Century). 

selves, it was really only from the reign of St. Louis that the first general 
measures of administration and police relating to these communities can 
be dated. The King appointed Etienne Boileau, a rich bourgeois, provost 
of the capital in 1261, to set to work to establish order, wise administration, 
and " good faith " in the commerce of Paris. To this end he ascertained 
from the verbal testimony of the senior members of each corporation the 
customs and usages of the various crafts, which for the most part up to that 


time had not been committed to writing. He arranged and probably 
amended them in many ways, and thus composed the famous " Book of 
Trades," which, as M. Depping, the able editor of this valuable compilation, 
first published in 1837, says, " has the advantage of being to a great extent 
the genuine production of the corporations themselves, and not a list of rules 
established and framed by the municipal or judicial authorities." From that 
time corporations gradually introduced themselves into the order of society. 
The royal decrees in their favour were multiplied, and the regulations with 
regard to mechanical trades daily improved, not only in Paris and in the 
provinces, but also abroad, both in the south and in the north of Europe, 
especially in Italy, Germany, England, and the Low Countries (Figs. 205 to 

Etienne Boileau's " Book of Trades " contained the rules of one hundred 
different trade associations. It must be observed, however, that several of 
the most important Trades, such as the butchers, tanners, glaziers, &c, were 
omitted, either because they neglected to be registered at the Chatelet, where 
the inquiry superintended by Boileau was made, or because some private 
interest induced them to keep aloof from this registration, which probably 
imposed some sort of tine and a tax upon them. In the following century 
the number of trade associations considerably increased, and wonderfully so 
during: the reig-ns of the last of the Valois and the first of the Bourbons. 

The historian of the antiquities of Paris, Henry Sauval, enumerated no 
fewer than fifteen hundred and fifty-one trade associations in the capital alone 
in the middle of the seventeenth century. It must be remarked, however, 
that the societies of artisans were much subdivided owing to the simple fact 
that each craft could only practise its own special work. Thus, in Boileau's 
book, we find four different corporations of patenotriers, or makers of chaplcts, 
six of hatters, six of weavers, &c. 

Besides these societies of artisans, there were in Paris a few privileged 
corporations, which occupied a more important position, and were known 
under the name of Corps dess Marchancls. Their number at first frequently 
varied, but finally it was settled at six, and they were termed les Six Corps. 
They comprised the drapers, which always took precedence of the five others, 
the grocers, the mercers, the furriers, the hatters, and the goldsmiths. These 
five for a long time disputed the question of precedence, and finally they 
decided the matter by lot, as they were not able to agree in any other way. 



Fig. 205. — Seal of the Corpo- 
ration of Carpenters of St. 
Trond (Belgium) — From an 
Impression preserved in the 

Fig. 206.— Seal of the Cor- 
poration of Shoemakers 
of St. Trond, from a Map 
of 1481, preserved in the 
Archives of that Town . 

Fig. 207.— Seal of the Cor- 
poration of Wool-weavers 
of Hasselt (Belgium), from 
a Parchment Title-deed of 
June 25, 1574. 

Fig. 208.— Seal of the Cor- 
poration of Clothworkers 
of Bruges (1356). — From an 
Impression preserved in the 
Archives of that Town. 

Fig. 209—Seal of the Cor- 
poration of Fullers of St. 
Trond (about 1350). — 
From an Impression pre- 
served in the Archives of 
that Town. 

Fig. 210. — Seal of the Corpora- 
tion of Joiners of Bruges 
(1356). — From an Impres- 
sion preserved in the Ai chives 
of that Town. 

Fig. 211.— Token of the Cor- Fig. 212.— Token of the Cor- Fig. 213.— Funeral Token of 
poration of Carpenters of poration of Carpenters of the Corporation of Carpen- 

Antwerp. ters of Maestricht. 

SI aestricht. 


2 11 

Fac-simile of Engravings on 'Wood, designed and engraved by .T. Amman, in fhe Sixteenth < 'ml urv 

Kj. 214— Clothworker. 

Fig. 21.5.— Tailor. 

Fig. 216.— Hatter 

Fig. 217.— Dyer. 

2 ? S 


Fac-simile of Engravings on Wood, designed and engraved by J. Amman, in the Sixteenth Centurv. 

Fig. 219.— Barber. 

Fig. 220.— Goldsmith. 

Fig. 221.— Goldbeater. 



Fae-simileof Engravings onAVood, designed and engraved by J. Amman, in the Sixteenth Century. 

Fig. 222.— Pin and Needle Maker 

Fig. 223.— Clasp-maker. 

Fig. 224.— Wire-worker. 

Fig. 225. — Dice-maker. 



Fac-simile of Engravings on Wood, designed and engraved by J. Amman, in the Sixteenth Century. 

Fisf. 226. — Sword-maker. 

Fig. 227. — Armourer. 

Fig. 228. — Spur-maker. 

Fig. 229. — Shoemaker. 


Fae-simile of Engravings on Wood, designed and engraved by J. Amman, in (he Sixteenth ( 'entury. 

Fig. 230. — Basin-maker. 

Fig. 231. — Tinman. 

Fig. 232.— Coppersmith. 

Fig. 233.— Bell and Cannon Caster. 


Apart from the privilege which these six bodies of merchants exclu- 
sively enjoyed of being called upon to appear, though at their own expense, 
in the civic processions and at the public ceremonials, and to carry the canopy 
over the heads of kings, queens, or princes on their state entry into the capital 
(Fig. 234), it would be difficult to specify the nature of the privileges 
which were granted to them, and of which they were so jealous. It is clear, 
however, that these six bodies were imbued with a kind of aristocratic spirit 
which made them place trading much above handicraft in their own class, 
and set a high value on their calling as merchants. Thus contemporary 
historians tell us that any merchant who compromised the dignity of the 
company " fell into the class of the lower orders ;" that mercers boasted of 
excluding from their body the upholsterers, " who were but artisans;" that 
hatters, who were admitted into the Six Corps to replace one of the other 
trades, became in consequence " merchants instead of artisans, which they 
had been up to that time." 

Notwithstanding the statutes so carefully compiled and revised by Etienne 
Boileau and his successors, and in spite of the numerous arbitrary rules which 
the sovereigns, the magistrates, and the corporations themselves strenuously 
endeavoured to frame, order and unity were far from governing the commerce 
and industry of Paris during the Middle Ages, and what took place in Paris 
generally repeated itself elsewhere. Serious disputes continually arose 
between the authorities and those amenable to their jurisdiction, and between 
the various crafts themselves, notwithstanding the relation which they bore 
to each other from the similarity of their employments. 

In fact in this, as in many other matters, social disorder often emanated 
from the powers whose duty it was in the first instance to have repressed it. 
Thus, at the time when Philip Augustus extended the boundaries of his 
capital so as to include the boroughs in it, which until then had been 
separated from the city, the lay and clerical lords, under whose feudal 
dominion those districts had hitherto been placed, naturally insisted upon pre- 
serving all their rights. So forcibly did they do this that the King was obliged 
to recognise their claims ; and in several boroughs, including the Bourg 
l'Abbe, the Beau Bourg, the Bourg St. Grermain, and the Bourg Auxerrois, 
etc., there were trade associations completely distinct from and independent 
of those of ancient Paris. If we simply limit our examination to that of the 
condition of the trade associations which held their authority immediately 



from royalty, we still see that the causes of confusion were by no means 
trifling ; for the majority of the high officers of the crown, acting as delegates 
of the royal authority, were always disputing amongst themselves the right 
of superintending, protecting, judging, punishing, and, above all, of exacting 
tribute from the members of the various trades. The King granted to various 
officers the privilege of arbitrarily disposing of the freedom of each trade 
for their own profit, and thereby gave them power over all the merchants 
and craftsmen who were officially connected with them, not only in Paris, 

Fig. 234.— Group of Goldsmiths preceding the Chuss, <le tit. Mnrcel in the Reign of Louis XIII.— 
From a Copperplate of the Period (Cabinet of Stamps in the National Library of Paris). 

but also throughout the whole kingdom. Thus the lord chamberlain had 
jurisdiction over the drapers, mercers, furriers, shoemakers, tailors, and other 
dealers in articles of wearing apparel ; the barbers were governed by the 
king's varlet and barber; the head baker was governor over the bakers; and 
the head butler over the wine-merchants. 

These state officers granted freedoms to artisans, or, in other words, they 
gave them the right to exercise such and such a craft with assistants or 
companions, exacting for the performance of this trifling act a very con- 
siderable tax. And, as they preferred receiving their revenues without the 

28 4 


annoyance of having- direct communication with their humble subjects, they 
appointed deputies, who were authorised to collect them in their names. 
The most celebrated of these deputies were the rots des merciers, who lived on 

Fig. 235.— Banner of the Corporation of the United Boot and Shoe Makers of Issoudun. 

the fat of the land in complete idleness, and who were surrounded by a mer- 
cantile court, which appeared in all its splendour at the trade festivals. 

The great officers of the crown exercised in their own interests, and 
without a thought for the public advantage, a complete magisterial juris- 
diction over all crafts ; they adjudicated in disputes arising between masters 
and men, decided quarrels, visited, either personally or through their 


deputies, the houses of the merchants, in order to discover frauds or infrac- 
tions in the rules of the trade, and levied tines accordingly. We must 
remember that the collectors of court dues had always to contend for the free 
exercise of their jurisdiction against the provost of Paris, who considered 
their acquisitions of authority as interfering with his personal prerogatives, 
and who therefore persistently opposed them on all occasions. For instance, 
if the head baker ordered an artisan of the same trade to be imprisoned in 
the Chatelet, the high provost, who was governor of the prison, released him 
immediately ; and, in retaliation, if the high provost punished a baker, the 
chief baker warmly espoused his subordinate's cause. At other times the 
artisans, if they were dissatisfied with the deputy appointed by the great 
officer of the crown, whose dependents they were, would refuse to recognise 
his authority. In this way constant quarrels and interminable lawsuits 
occurred, and it is easy to understand the disorder which must have arisen 
from such a state of things. By degrees, however, and in consequence of 
the new tendencies of royalty, which were simply directed to the diminution 
of feudal power, the numerous jurisdictions relating to the various trades 
gradually returned to the hand of the municipal provostship ; and this con- 
centration of power had the best results, as well for the public good as for 
that of the corporations themselves. 

Having examined into corporations collectively and also into their general 
administration, we will now turn to consider their internal organization. It 
was only after long and difficult struggles that these trade associations 
succeeded in taking a definite and established position ; without, however, 
succeeding at any time in organizing themselves as one body on the same 
basis and with the same privileges. Therefore, in pointing out the influential 
character of these institutions generally, we must omit various matters 
specially connected with individual associations, which it would be impossible 
to mention in this brief sketch. 

In the fourteenth century, the period when the communities of crafts 
were at the height of their development and power, no association of artisans 
could legally exist without a license either from the king, the lord, the prince, 
the abbot, the bailiff, or the mayor of the district in wdiieh it proposed to 
establish itself. 

These communities had their statutes and privileges ; they were dis- 
tinguished at public ceremonials by their liveries or special dress, as well as 


Fig. 236. — Banner of the Tilers 
of Paris, with the Aimorial 

Bearings of the Corporation. 

Fig' 237. — Banner of the Kail- 
makers of Paris, with Armorial 
Bearings of the Corporation. 

Fig. 238.— Banner of theHarnesa- 
makers of Paris, with the 
Armorial Bearings of the Cor- 

Fig. 239.— Banner of the Wheel- 
wrights of Paris, with the 
Armorial Bearings of the Cor- 

Fig. 240. — Banner of theTanners 
of Vic, with the Patron Saint 
of the Corporation. 

Fig. 241. — Banner of the Weavers 
of Poulon, with the Patron 
Saint of the Corporation. 



by their arms and banners (Figs. 235 to 241). They possessed the riffht 
freely to discuss their general interests, and at meetings composed of all their 
members they might modify their statutes, provided that such changes were 
confirmed by the King or by the authorities. It was also necessary that these 
meetings, at which the royal delegates were present, should lie duly authorised ; 
and, lastly, so as to render the communication between members more easy, 
and to facilitate everything -which concerned the interests of the craft, artisans 

Fig. 242. — Ceremonial Dress of an Elder and a Juror of the Corporation ..fold Shoemakers of Client. 

of the same trade usually resided in the same quarter of the town, and even 
in the same street. The names of many streets in Paris and other towns of 
France testify to this custom, which still partially exists in the towns of 
Germany and Italy. 

The communities of artisans had, to a certain extent, the character and 
position of private individuals. They had the power in their corporate 
capacity of holding and administrating property, of defending or bringing 


actions at law, of accepting inheritances, &c. ; they disbursed from a common 
treasury, which was supplied by legacies, donations, fines, and periodical 

These communities exercised in addition, through their jurors, a magis- 
terial authority, and even, under some circumstances, a criminal jurisdiction 
over their members. For a long time they strove to extend this last power or 
to keep it independent of municipal control and the supreme courts, by which 
it was curtailed to that of exercising a simple police authority strictly confined 
to persons or things relating to the craft. They carefully watched for any 
infractions of the rules of the trade. They acted as arbitrators between master 
and man, particularly in quarrels when the parties had had recourse to violence. 
The functions of this kind of domestic magistracy were exercised by officers 
known under various names, such as kings, masters, elders, guards, syndics, 
and jurors, who were besides charged to visit the workshops at any hour 
they pleased in order to see that the laws concerning the articles of work- 
manship were observed. They also received the taxes for the benefit of the 
association ; and, lastly, they examined the apprentices and installed masters 
into their office (Fig. 242). 

The jurors, or syndics, as they were more usually called, and whose 
number varied according to the importance or numerical force of the cor- 
poration, were generally elected by the majority of votes of their fellow- 
workmen, though sometimes the choice of these was entirely in the hands of 
the great officers of state. It was not unfrequent to find women amongst 
the dignitaries of the arts and crafts ; and the professional tribunals, which 
decided every question relative to the community and its members, were 
often held by an equal number of masters and associate craftsmen. The 
jealous, exclusive, and inflexible spirit of caste, which in the Middle Ages 
is to be seen almost everywhere, formed one of the principal features of 
industrial associations. The admission of new members was surrounded with 
conditions calculated to restrict the number of associates and to discourage 
candidates. The sons of masters alone enjoyed hereditary privileges, in 
consequence of which they were always allowed to be admitted without being 
subjected to the tyrannical yoke of the association. 

Generally the members of a corporation were divided into three distinct 
classes — the masters, the paid assistants or companions, and the apprentices. 
Apprenticeship, from which the sons of masters were often exempted, began 


2 Sf, 

between the ages of twelve ami seventeen years, and lasted from two to five 
years. In most of the trades the master could only receive one apprentice in 
his house besides his own son. Tanners, dyers, and goldsmiths were allowed 
one of their relatives in addition, or a second apprentice if they had no 
relation willing to learn their trade; and although some commoner trades, 
such as butchers and 1 iakei'8, were allowed an unlimited number of apprentices, 
the custom of restriction had become a sort of general law, with the object 
of limiting the number of masters and workmen to the requirements of the 

Fig. 243.— Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece.— From a Window of the. Thirteenth 
Century, published by Messrs. Cahier and Martin. 

rablic. The position of paid assistant or companion was required to be held 
in many trades for a certain length of time before promotion to mastership 
could be obtained. 

WLen apprentices or companions wished to become masters, they were 
called aspirants, and were subjected to successive examinations. They were 
particularly required to prove their ability by executing what was termed a 
chef -d' mitre, which consisted in fabricating a perfect specimen of whatever 
craft they practised. The execution of the chef- d' autre gave rise to many 
technical formalities, which were at times most frivolous. The aspirant 

p p 



in certain cases had to pass a technical examination, as, for instance, 
the barber in forging and polishing lancets ; the wool- weaver in making 
and adjusting the different parts of his loom ; and during the period of 
executing the chef-d'oeuvre, which often extended over several months, the 
aspirant was deprived of all communication with his fellows. He had to 
work at the office of the association, which was called the bureau, under the 
eyes of the jurors or syndics, who, often after an angry debate, issued their 
judgment upon the merits of the work and the capability of the workman 
(Figs. 243 and '244). 

J"ig. 244. — Carpenter's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece. — From one of the Stalls called 
Misericordes, in Kouen Cathedral (Fifteenth Century). 

On his admission the aspirant had first to take again the oath of allegiance 
to the King before the provost or civil deputy, although he had already done 
so on commencing his apprenticeship. He then had to pay a duty or fee, 
which was divided between the sovereign or lord and the brotherhood, from 
which fee the sons of masters always obtained a considerable abatement. 
Often, too, the husbands of the daughters of masters were exempted from 
paying the duties. A few masters, such as the goldsmiths and the cloth- 
workers, had besides to pay a sum of money by way of guarantee, which 
remained in the funds of the craft as long as they carried on the trade. 



After these forms had been complied with, the masters acquired the exclu- 
sive privilege of freely exercising their profession. There were, however, 
certain exceptions to this ride, for a king on his coronation, a prince or 
princess of the royal blood at the lime of his or her marriage, and, in certain 
towns, the bishop on his installation, had the right of creating one or more 

S> s4p=^7S 

Pig. 245.— Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of Rouen (Fifteenth Century). The Shield 
which the Lion holds with his paw shows the Arms of the Goldsmiths of Rouen (Present 
Condition) . 

masters in each trade, and these received their licence without going through 
any of the usual formalities. 

A widower or widow might generally continue the craft of the deceased 
wife or husband who had acquired the freedom, and which thus became the 

The condition, however, was that he or she 

inheritance of the survivor. 



did not contract a second marriage with any one who did not belong to the 
craft. Masters lost their rights directly they worked for any other master 
and received wages. Certain freedoms, too, were only available in the towns 
in which they had been obtained. In more than one craft when a family 
holding the freedom became extinct, their premises and tools became the 
property of the corporation, subject to an indemnity payable to the next 
of kin. 

Fiff. 246.— Shops under Covered Market (Goldsmith, Dealer in Stuffs, and Shoemaker) —From a 
Miniature in Aristotle's " Ethics and Politics," translated by Nicholas Oresme (Manuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century, Library of Rouen). 

At times, and particularly in those trades where the aspirants were 
not required to produce a chef-d'eeurre, the installation of masters was 
accompanied with extraordinary ceremonies, which no doubt originally 
possessed some symbolical meaning, but which, having lost their true 
signification, became singular, and appeared even ludicrous. Thus with 
the bakers, after four years' apprenticeship, the candidate on purchasing the 


2 Q3 

freedom from the King, issued from his door, escorted by all the other Lakers 
of the town, hearing a new put filled with walnuts and wafers. On arriving 
before the chief of the corporation, he said to him, " Master, I have accom- 
plished mv four years ; here is my pot filled with walnuts and wafers." The 
assistants in the ceremony having vouched for the truth of this statement, 
the candidate broke the pot against the wall, and the chief solemnly pro- 
nounced his admission, which was inaugurated by the older masters emptying 
a number of tankards of wine or beer at the expense of their new brother. 
The ceremony was also of a jovial character in the case of the millwrights, 
who only admitted the candidate after he had received a caning on the 
shoulders from the last-elected brother. 

dit/iixvalt^ti^at^i^^^ctiiir l \ lick? 

g JteqL^xlautf H 

Ficr. 247.— Fac-simile of the first six Lines on the Copper Tablet on which was engraved, from the 
year 1470, the Names and Titles of those who were elected Members of the Corporation of 
Goldsmiths of Ghent. 

The statutes of the corporations, which had the force of law on account 
of being approved and accepted by royal authority, almost always detailed 
with the greatest precision the conditions of labour. They fixed the hours 
arid days for working, the size of the articles to be made, the quality of 
the stuffs used in their manufacture, and even the price at which they were 
to be sold (Fig. '240). Night labour was pretty generally forbidden, as 
likely to produce only imperfect work. We nevertheless find that carpc liters 
were permitted to make coffins and other funeral articles by night. On the 
eve of religious feasts the shops were shut earlier than usual, that is to say, 
at three o'clock, and were not opened on the next day, with the excep- 
tion of those of pastrycooks, whose assistance was especially required on 
feast days, and who sold curious varieties of cakes and sweetmeats. Not- 

20 + 


withstanding the strictness of the rules and the administrative laws of each 
trade, which were intended to secure good faith and loyalty between the 
various members, it is unnecessary to state that they were frequently 
violated. The fines which were then imposed on delinquents constituted an, 
important source of revenue, not only to the corporations themselves, but 
also to the town treasury. The penalty, however, was not always a pecuniary 
one, for as late as the fifteenth century we have instances of artisans being 
condemned to death simply for baving adulterated their articles of trade. 

Fig. 248. — Elder and Jurors of the Tanners of the Town of Ghent in Ceremonial Dress. — Fac-simile 
of a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century. 

This deception was looked upon as of the nature of robbery, which we know 
to have been for a long time punishable by death. Robbery on the part of 
merchants found no indulgence nor pardon in those days, and the whole 
corporation demanded immediate and exemplary justice. 

According to the statutes, which generally tended to prevent frauds and 
falsifications, in most crafts the masters were bound to put their trade-mark 
fin their goods, or some particular sign which was to be a guarantee for the 
purchaser and one means of identifying the culprit in the event of complaints 



arising on account of the bad quality or bad workmanship of the articles 

Besides taking various steps to maintain professional integrity, the trainers 
of the various statutes, as a safeguard to the public interests, undertook 
also to inculcate morality and good feeling amongst their members. A 
youth could not be admitted unless he could prove Lis legitimacy of birth 
by his baptismal register ; and, to obtain the freedom, lie was bound to bear 

Fig-. 249. — Companion Carpenter. — Fragment of a Woodcut of the Fifteenth Century, after a 
Drawing by Wohlgemuth for the " Chronique de Nuremberg." 

an irreproachable character. Artisans exposed themselves to a reprimand, 
and even to bodily chastisement, from tire corporation, for even associating 
with, and certainly for working or drinking with those who had been ex- 
pelled. Licentiousness and misconduct of anj r kind rendered them liable 
to be deprived of their mastership. In some trade associations all the 
members were bound to solemnize the day of the decease of a brother, to 
assist at his funeral, and to follow him to the grave. In another com- 


munitjr the slightest indecent or discourteous word was punishable by a 
fine. A new master could not establish himself in the same street as his 
former master, except at a distance, which was determined by the statutes ; 
and, further, no member was allowed to ask for or attract customers when 
the latter were nearer the shop of his neighbour than of his own. 

In the Middle Ages religion placed its stamp on every occupation and 
calling, and corporations were careful to maintain this characteristic feature. 
Each was under the patronage of some saint, who was considered the special 
protector of the craft ; each possessed a shrine or chapel in some church of 
the quarter where the trade was located, and some even kept chaplains at 
their own expense for the celebration of masses which were daily said for 
the souls of the good deceased members of the craft. These associations, 
animated by Christian charity, took upon them to invoke the blessings of 
heaven on all members of the fraternity, and to assist those who were 
either laid by through sickness or want of work, and to take care of the 
widows and to help the orphans of the less prosperous craftsmen. They also 
gave alms to the poor, and presented the broken meat left at their banquets 
to the hospitals. 

Under the name of gargons, or compagnons de devoir (this surname was at 
first specially applied to carpenters and masons, who from a very ancient 
date formed an important association, which was partly secret, and from which 
Freemasonry traces its origin) (Fig. 250), the companions, notwithstanding 
that they belonged to the community of their own special craft, also formed 
distinct corporations among themselves with a view to mutual assistance. 
They made a point of visiting any foreign workman on his arrival in their 
town, supplied his first requirements, found him work, and, when work was 
wanting, the oldest companion gave up his place to him. These associations 
of companionship, however, soon failed to carry out the noble object for 
which they were instituted. After a time the meeting together of the 
fraternity was but a pretext for intemperance and debauchery, and at times 
their tumultuous processions and indecent masquerades occasioned much 
disorder in the cities. The facilities which these numerous associations 
possessed of extending and mutually co-operating with one another also led 
to coalitions among them for the purpose of securing any advantage which 
they desired to possess. Sometimes open violence was resorted to to obtain 
their exorbitant and unjust demands, which greatly excited the industrious 



classes, and eventually induced the authorities to interfere. Lastly, these 
brotherhoods gave rise to many violent quarrels, which ended in blows 
and too often in bloodshed, between workmen of the same craft who took 
different views on debateable points. The decrees of parliament, the edicts 
of sovereigns, and the decisions of councils, as early as at the end of 
the fifteenth century and throughout the whole of the sixteenth, severely 
proscribed the doings of these brotherhoods, but these interdictions were 

^•■i\\ o- 

Fig. 2.50.-Carpenters.-Fao-simileof a Miniature in the " Chroninues de Hainaut," Manuscript 
of the Fifteenth Century, in the Burgundy Library, Brussels. 

never duly and rigidly enforced, and the authorities themselves often 
tolerated infractions of the law, and thus license was given to every kind 

of abuse. 

We have frequently mentioned in the course of this volume the 
political part played by the corporations during the Middle Ages. We 
know the active and important part taken by trades of all descriptions 
in France in the great movement of the formation of communities. The 
spirit of fraternal association which constituted the strength of the cor- 
porations (Fig. 2-11), and which exhibited itself so conspicuously in every 
act of their public and private life, resisted during several centuries the 

n Q 



V U 


^ : ^(xderd-0§M^E> 


I'ig. 251.— Painting commemorative of the Union of the Merchants of Rouen at the End of the 

Seventeenth Century. 



individual ami collective attacks made on it by craftsmen themselves. These 
rich and powerful corporations began to decline from the moment they 
ceased to be united, and they were dissolved by law at, the beginning of the 
revolution of 17S'.t, an act which necessarily dealt a heavy blow to industry 
and commerce. 



' ■ N ^— — i 


Fijr. 2o2.— Banner of the Drapers of Caen. 


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 hy Louis J X.— Extortions of Philip le Bel.— Pecuniary 
Embarrassment of his Successors.— Charles V. re-estahlishes Order in Finances.— Disasters of 
France under Charles VI., Charles VII., and Jacques Ceeur. — Changes in Taxation from 
Louis XI to Francis I. — The great Financiers. — Florimond Robertet. 

F we believe Caesar's Commentaries 
on the Gallic War, the Gauls were 
groaning in his time under the pres- 
sure of taxation, and struggled hard 
to remove it. Rome lightened their 
burden ; but the fiscal system of the 
metropolis imperceptibly took root in 
all the Roman provinces. There was 
an arbitrary personal tax, called the 
poll tax, and a land tax which was 
named cens, calculated according to 
the area of the holding. Besides these, there were taxes on articles of 
consumption, on salt, on the import and export of all articles of mer- 
chandise, on sales 1 >y auction ; also on marriages, on burials, and on houses. 
There were also legacy and succession duties, and taxes on slaves, accord- 
ing to their number. Tolls on highways were also created; and the 
treasury went so far as to tax the hearth. Hence the origin of the name 
fen, which was afterwards applied to each household or family group 
assembled in the same house or sitting before the same fire. A number of 
other taxes sprung up, called sorclides, from which the nobility and the 
government functionaries were exempt. 

This ruinous system of taxation, rendered still more insupportable by the 
exactions of the proconsuls, and the violence of their subordinates, went on 



increasing down to the time of the fall of the Human Empire. The Middle 
Ages gave birth to a new order of tilings. The municipal administration, 
composed in great part of G alio- Roman citizens, did not perceptibly deviate 
from the customs established for live centuries, but each invading nation by 
degrees introduced new habits and ideas into the countries they subdued. 
The Germans and Franks, having become masters of part of Gaul, established 
themselves on the lands which they had divided between them. The great 

Fig. 253.— The Kxtraction of Metals.— Fac-siuiile of a Wuodc-ut in the " (Josmoyraphie 
Universelle " of Minister, folio : Basle, 1532. 

domains, with their revenues which had belonged to the emperors, naturally 
became the property of the barbarian chiefs, and served to defray the ex- 
penses of their houses or their courts. These chiefs, at each general assembly 
of the Leudes, or great vassals, received presents of money, of arms, oi 
horses, and of various objects of home or of foreign manufacture. For a 
long time these gifts were voluntary. The territorial fief, which was given 



to those soldiers who Lad deserved it by their military services, involved 
from the holders a personal service to the King. They had to attend him on 
his journeys, to follow him to war, and to defend him under all circum- 
stances. The fief was entirely exempt from taxes. Many misdeeds — even 
robberies and other crimes, which were ordinarily punishable by death — 
were pardonable on payment of a proportionate hue, and oaths, in many 
cases, might be absolved in the same way. Thus a large revenue was 
received, which was generally divided equally between the State, the 
procurator fiscal, and the King. 

War, which was almost constant in those turbulent times, furnished the 
barbarian kings with occasional resources, which were usually much more 
important than the ordinary supplies from taxation. The first chiefs of the 
Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, and the Franks, sought means of replenishing 
their treasuries by their victorious arms. Alaric, Totila, and Olovis thus 
amassed enormous wealth, without troubling themselves to place the govern- 
ment finances on a. satisfactory basis. We see, however, a semblance of 
financial organization in the institutions of Alaric and his successors. 
Subsequently, the great Theodoric, who had studied the administrative 
theories of the Byzantine Court, exercised his genius in endeavouring to 
work out an accurate system of finance, which was adopted in Italy. 

Gregory of Tours, a writer of the sixteenth century, relates in several 
passages of his " History of the Franks," that they exhibited the same 
repugnance to compulsory taxation as the Germans of the time of Tacitus. 
The Lcudcs considered that the)- owed nothing to the treasury, and to 
force them to submit to taxation was not an easy matter. About the 
year 465, Childeric I., father of Clovis, lost his crown for wishing all 
classes to submit to taxation equally. In 67o, Childeric II., King of 
Austrasia, had one of these Leiidcs, named Bodillon, flogged with rods for 
daring to reproach him with the injustice of certain taxes. He, however, 
was afterwards assassinated by this same Bodillon, and the Lcudex main- 
tained their right of immunity. A century before the Lcudcs were already 
quarrelling with royalty on account of the taxes, which they refused to pay, 
and they sacrificed Queen Brunehaut because she attempted to enrich the 
treasury with the confiscated property of a few nobles who had rebelled 
against her authoritv. The wealth of the Frank king's, which was always 
ery great, was a continual object of envy, and on one occasion Chilperic 1., 



3° 3 

King of Soissons, having' the Leitdes 
in league with him, laid bis hands 
on the wealth amassed l>v his 
father, Clotaire L, which was kept 
in the Palace of Braine, lie was, 
nevertheless, ohliged to share his 
spoil with his brothers and their 
followers, who came in arms to 
force him to refund what he had 
taken. Ghilperic (Fig. 204) was so 
much in awe of these Lewies that 
he did not ask them for money. His 
wife, the much-feared Fredegonde, 
did not, however, exempt them more 
than Brunehaut had done ; and her 
judges or ministers, Audon and 
Muinmius, having met with an in- 
surmountable resistance in endea- 
vouring to force taxation on the 
nobles, nearly lost their lives in 

The custom of numbering the 
population, such as was carried on in 
Borne through the censors, appears 
to have been observed under the 
Merovingian kings. At the request 
of the Bishop of Poitiers, Childebert 
gave orders to amend the census 
taken under Siffebert, King of 
Austrasia. It is a most curious 
document mentioned by Gregory of 
Tours. "The ancient division," he 
says, " had been one so unequal, 
owing to the subdivision of properties 
and other chances which time had 
made in the condition of the tax- 

ig. 2.11. — Tomb of Ohilperic— Sculpture 
Eleventh Century, in the Abbey of St. D( 

■ f the- 


payers, that tlio poor, the orphans, and the helpless classes generally alone 
bore the real burden of taxation. Florentius, comptroller of the King's 
household, and Romulfus, count of the palace, remedied this abuse. After a 
closer examination of the changes which had taken place, they relieved the 
taxpayers who were too heavily rated and placed the burden on those who 
could better afford it. 

This direct taxation continued on this plan until the time of the kings 
of the second dynasty. The Franks, who had not the privilege of exemption, 
paid a poll tax and a house tax ; about a tenth was charged on the produce of 
hio-hly cultivated lands, a little more on that of lands of an inferior description, 
and a certain measure, a cruclie, of wine on the produce of every half acre of 
vineyard. There were assessors and royal agents charged with levying such 

Fig. 255.— Signature of St. Eloy (Eligius), I 

Financier and Minister to Dagobert I. ; from 
the Charter of Foundation of the Abbey of 
Solignac (Mabiflon, "De Re Diplomatica"). 

taxes and regulating the farming of them. In spite of this precaution, how- 
ever, an edict of Clovis II., in the year 615, censures the mode of imposing 
rates and taxes ; it orders that they shall only be levied in the places where 
they have been authorised, and forbade their being used under any pretext 
whatever for any other object than that for which they were imposed. 

Under the Merovingians specie was not in common use, although the 
precious metals were abundant among the Gauls, as their mines of gold and 
silver were not yet exhausted. Money was rarely coined, except on great 
occasions, such as a coronation, the birth of an heir to the throne, the 
marriage of a prince, or the commemoration of a decisive victory. It 
is even probable that each time that money "was used in large sums the 
pound or the sou of gold was represented more by ingots of metal than by 
stamped coin. The third of the sou of gold, which was coined on state 
occasions, seems to have been used only as a commemorative medal, to be dis- 
tributed amongst the great officers of state, and this circumstance explains 



their extreme rarity. The general character of the coinage, whether of gold, 
silver, or of the baser metals, of the Burgundian, Austrasian, and Frank kings, 
differs little from what it had been at the time of the last of the Roman 
emperors, though the Angel bearing the crow gradually replaced the Renommee 
rictorieuse formerly stamped on the coins. Christian monograms and symbols 
of the Trinity were often intermingled with the initials of the sovereign. It 
also became common to combine in a monogram letters thought to be sacred 
or lucky, such as C, 3T, S, T, &c. ; also to introduce the names of places, 
which, perhaps, have since disappeared, as well as some particular mark or 

Mekoyingiax Gold Coin's, Strvck v,y St. Elov, Moneyer to Dagohert I. (628-63S). 

Fig. 256. — Parisinna ceye pit. Head of 
Dagobert with double diadem of pearls, 
hair hanging down the hack of the neck. 
i?et'.,DAGOEEE.TYSREX. Cross ; above,omega; 
under the arms of the cross, eligi. 

Fig. 257.— Paribsin. ( 'iy. Head of Clovis II., 
with diadem of pearls, hair braided and 
hanging down the back of the neck. Rev., 
Chlodoyevs rex. Cross with anchor ; under 
tile arms of the cross, eligi. 

Fig. 258. — Parisiys fit. Head of King. Ser., 
Eligivs mone. Cross ; ahoYe, omega ; under, 
a hah. 

Fig. 259.— MoN. Palati. Head of King, iter., 
Scolare. LA. Cross with anchor; under 
the arms of the cross, eligi. 

sign special to each mint. Some of these are very difficult to understand, and 
present a number of problems which have yet to be solved (Figs. 256 to 2o9) . 
Unfortunately, the names of places on Merovingian coins, to the number of 
about nine hundred, have rarely been studied by coin collectors, expert both 
as geographers and linguists. We find, for example, one hundred distinct 
mints, and, up to the present time, have not been able to determine where 
the greater number of them were situated. 

From the time that Clovis became a Christian, lie loaded the Church with 
favours, and it soon possessed considerable revenues, and enjoyed many 

K K 


valuable immunities. The sous of Clovis contested these privileges ; but the 
Church resisted for a time, though she was eventually obliged to give way 
to the iron hand of Charles Martel. In 732 this great military chieftain, 
after his struggle with Rainfroy, and after his brilliant victories over the 
Saxons, the Bavarians, the Swiss, and the Saracens, stripped the clergy of 
their landed possessions, in order to distribute them amongst his Leudes, who 
by this means he secured as his creatures, and who were, therefore, ever 
willing and eager to serve him in arms. 

On ascending the throne, King Pepin, who wanted to pacify the Church, 
endeavoured as far as possible to obliterate the recollection of the wrongs of 
which his father had been guilty towards her ; he ordered the dimes and 
the nones (tenth and ninth denier levied on the value of lands) to be placed 
to the account of the possessors of each ecclesiastical domain, on their under- 
taking to repair the buildings (churches, chateaux, abbeys, and presbyteries), 
and to restore to the owners the properties on which they held mortgages. 
The nobles long resented this, and it required the authority and the example 
of Charlemagne to soothe the contending parties, and to make Church and 
State act in harmony. 

Charlemagne renounced the arbitrary rights established by the Mayors 
of the Palace, and retained onby those which long usage had legitimised. 
He registered them clearly in a code called the Capitulaires, into Avhich 
he introduced the ancient laws of the Ripuaires, the Burgundians, and the 
Franks, arranging them so as to suit the organization and requirements of 
his vast empire. Prom that time each freeman subscribed to the military 
service according to the amount of his possessions. The great vassal, or 
hscal judge, was no longer allowed to practise extortion on those citizens 
appointed to defend the State. Freemen could legally refuse all servile or 
obligatory work imposed on them by the nobles, and the amount of labour to 
be performed by the serfs was lessened. Without absolutely abolishing the 
authority of local customs in matters of finance, or penalties which had been 
illegally exacted, they were suspended by laws decided at the Champs de 
Mai, by the Counts and by the Leudes, in presence of the Emperor. Arbitrary 
taxes were abolished, as they were no longer required. Food, and any 
articles of consumption, and military munitions, were exempted from taxa- 
tion ; and the revenues derived from tolls on road gates, on bridges, and on 
city gates. &c, were applied to the purposes for which they were imposed, 



namely, to the repair of the roads, the bridges, and the fortified enclosures. 
The hh'iban, a fine of sixty sols — which in those days would amount to more 
than 6,000 francs— was imposed on any holder of a fief who refused military 
service, and each noble was obliged to pay this for every one of his vassals 
who was absent when summoned to the King's banner. These tines must 
have produced considerable sums. A special law exempted ecclesiastics from 

Fig. 260.— Toll on Markets levied by a Cleiic.— From one of the Painted Windows oi the 
Cathedra] of Tom-nay Fifteenth Century). 

bearing arms, and Charlemagne decreed that their possessions should be 
sacred and untouched, and everything was done to ensure the payment of the 
indemnity — dime and none — which was due to them. 

Charlemagne; also superintended the coining and circulation of money. 
He directed that the silver sou should exactly contain the twenty-second 
part by weight of the pound. He also directed that money should only be 


coined in the Imperial palaces. He forbade the circulation of spurious 
coin ; he ordered base coiners to be severely punished, and imposed heavy 
fines upon those who refused to accept the coin in legal circulation. The 
tithe due to the Church (Fig. 260), which was imposed at the National 
Assembly in 779, and disbursed by the diocesan bishops, gave rise to many 
complaints and much opposition. This tithe was in addition to that paid to 
the King, which was of itself sufficiently heavy. The right of claiming the 
two tithes, however, had a common origin, so that the sovereign defended his 
own rights in protecting those of the Church. This is set forth in the text 
of the Capitukdres, from the year 794 to 829. "What had originally been 
only a voluntary and pious offering of a few of the faithful," says the author 
of the "Histoire Financiere de la France," "became thus a perpetual tax 
upon agriculture, custom rather than law enforcing its payment ; and a tithe 
which was at first limited to the produce of the soil, soon extended itself to 
cattle and other live stock." 

Ptoyal delegates (mis&i dominici), who were invested with complex 
functions, and with very extensive power, travelled through the empire 
exercising legal jurisdiction over all matters of importance. They assembled 
all the placites, or provincial authorities, and inquired rjarticularly into the 
collection of the public revenue. During their tours, which took place four 
times a year, they either personally annulled unjust sentences, or submitted 
them to the Emperor. They denounced any irregularities on the part of 
the Counts, punished the negligences of their assessors, and often, in order 
to replace unworthy judges, they had to resort to a system of election of 
assessors, chosen from among the people. They verified the returns for the 
census ; superintended the keeping up of the royal domains ; corrected frauds in 
matters of taxation ; and punished usurers as much as base coiners, for at that 
time money was not considered a commercial article, nor was it thought right 
that a money-lender should be allowed to carry on a trade which required a 
remuneration proportionate to the risk which he incurred. 

These missi dominici were too much hated by the great vassals to outlive 
the introduction of the feudal system. Their royal masters, as they them- 
selves gradually lost a part of their own privileges and power, could not 
sustain the authority of these officers. Dukes, counts, and barons, having 
become magistrates, arbitrarily levied new taxes, imposed new fines, and 
appropriated the King's tributes to such an extent that, towards the end of 




Fig. 261.- Sal,.- by Town-Crier. Pw), the Crier, blowing a trumpet ; Subhuxtutor, public officer 
charged with the sale. In the bark-round is seen another sale, by the Bellman.- Kac-simileot 
a Woodcut in the Work Damhoudere, " Traxia Uerum Civilium," 4lo : Antwerp, lo57. 

the tenth century, the laws of Charlemagne had no longer any weight, We 
then find a number of new taxes levied for the benefit of the nobles, the 


very names of which hare fallen into disuse -with the feudal claims which they 
represented. Among these new taxes were those of escorte and entree, of mort- 
main, of loch et rentes, of relief, the clmmparta, the tenth, the fouage, and the 
various fees for wine-pressing, grinding, baking, &e., all of which were payable 
without prejudice to the tithes clue to the King and the Church. However, 
as the royal tithe was hardly ever paid, the kings were obliged to look to 
other means for replenishing their treasuries ; and coining false money was 
a common practice. Unfortunately each great vassal vied with the kings 
in this, and to such an extent, that the enormous quantity of bad money 
coined during the ninth century completed the public ruin, and made this a 
sad period of social chaos. The freeman was no longer distinguishable from 
the villain, nor the villain from the serf. Serfdom was general ; men found 
themselves, as it were, slaves, in possession of land which they laboured at 
with the sweat of their brow, only to cultivate for the benefit of others. 
The towns even — with the exception of a few privileged cities, as Florence, 
Paris, Lyons, Eheims, Metz, Strasburg, Marseilles, Hamburg, Frankfort, 
and Milan — were under the dominion of some ecclesiastical or lay lord, and 
only enjoyed liberty of a more or less limited character. 

Towards the end of the eleventh century, under Philip I., the enthusiasm 
for Crusades became general, and, as all the nobles joined in the holy 
mission of freeing the tomb of Jesus Christ from the hands of the infidels, 
large sums of money were required to defray the costs. JN T ew taxes were 
accordingly imposed ; but, as these did not produce enough at once, large 
sums were raised by the sale of some of the feudal rights. Certain 
franchises were in this way sold by the nobles to the boroughs, towns, and 
abbeys, though, in not a few instances, these very privileges had been 
formerly plundered from the places to which they were now sold. Fines 
were exacted from any person declining to go to Palestine ; and foreign 
merchants — especially the Jews — were required to subscribe large sums. A 
number of the nobles holding fiefs were reduced to the lowest expedients 
with a view to raising money, and even sold their estates at a low price, or 
mortgaged them to the very Jews whom they taxed so heavily. Every 
town in which the spirit of Gallo-Roman municipality was preserved took 
advantage of these circumstances to extend its liberties. Each monarch, 
tco, found this a favourable opportunity to add new fiefs to the crown, 
and to recall as many great vassals as possible under his dominion. It 


was at this period that communities arose, and that the first charters of 
freedom which were obligatory and binding contracts between the Kin"- 
and the people, date their origin. Besides the annual tines due to the 
King and the feudal lords, and in addition to the general subsidies, such 
as the quit-rent and the tithes, these communities had to provide for the 
repair of the walls or rampirts, for the paving of the streets, the cleaning 
of the pits, the watch on the city gates, and the various expenses of local 

Louis le Gros endeavoured to make a re-arrangement of the taxes, and to 
establish them on a definite basis. By his orders a new register of the lands 
throughout the kingdom was commenced, but various calamities caused this 
useful measure to be suspended. In 1140, Louis le Jeune, in consequence of 
a disaster which had befallen the Crusaders, did what nine of his predeces- 
sors had dared to attempt: he exacted from all his subjects a sol per pound 
on their income. This tax, which amounted to a twentieth part of income, 
was paid even by the Church, which, for example's sake, did not take advan- 
tage of its immunities. Forty years later, at a council, or great ■parliament, 
called by Philip Augustus, a new crusade was decided up in ; and, under 
the name of Saladin's tithe, an annual tax was imposed on all property, 
whether landed or personal, of all who did not take up the cross to go t.o 
the Holy Land. The nobility, however, so violently resisted this, that the 
King was obliged to substitute for it a general tax, which, although it was 
still more productive, was less offensive in its mode of collection. 

On returning to France in 1191, Philip Augustus rated and taxed every 
one — nobility, bourgeois, and clergy — in order to prosecute the great wars 
in which he was engaged, and to provide for the first paid troops ever known 
in France. He began by confirming the enormous confiscations of the 
properties of the Jews, who had been banished from the kingdom, and 
afterwards sold a temporary permission to some of the richest of them to 

The Jews at that time were the only possessors of available funds, as 
they were the only people who trafficked, and who lent money on interest. 
On this account the Government were glad to recall them, so as to have at 
hand a valuable resource which it could always make use of. As the King 
could not on his own authority levy taxes upon the vassals of feudal lords, 
on emergencies he convoked the barons, who discussed financial matters with 


the King, and, when the sum required was settled, an order of assessment was 
issued, and the barons undertook the collection of the taxes. The assessment 
was always fixed higher than was required for the King's wants, and the 
barons, having paid the King what was due to him, retained the surplus, 
which they divided amongst themselves. 

The creation of a public revenue, raised by the contributions of all 
classes of society, with a definite sum to be kept in reserve, thus dates 
from the reign of Philip Augustus. The annual income of the State at 

Fig. 262. — The Tower of the Temple, in Paris. — From an Engraving of the Topography of Paris, 
in the Cabinet des Estampes, of the National Library. 

that time amounted to 30,000 marks, or 72,000 pounds' weight of silver — 
about sixteen or seventeen million francs of present currency. The treasury, 
which was kept in the great tower of the temple (Fig. 262), was under the 
custody of seven bourgeois of Paris, and a king's clerk kept a register of 
receipts and disbursements. This treasury must have been well filled 
at the death of Philip Augustus, for that monarch's legacies were very 
considerable. One of his last wishes deserves to be mentioned : and this 
was a formal order, which he gave to Louis VIII., to employ a certain 
sum, left him for that purpose, solely and entirely for the defence of the 



When Louis IX.. in \'l\'l, at Taillebourg and at Saintes, had defeated the 
great vassals who had rebelled against him, he hastened to regulate the 
taxes by means of a special eode which bore the name dt' the Etahlinsementis. 
The taxes thus imposed fell upon the whole population, and even lands 
belonging to the Church, houses which the nobles did not themselves occupy, 

Gold Coins or tub Si\th and Seventh Centi ries. 

Fig. 263. — Merovee, Son of 
Chilperic I. 

Fig. 255.— Clotaire III. 

Silver Coins from the Kh.iith to the Klkventii Centuries 

Mill \^mmm\ ft 

Fig. 266.— Pepin the short. Fig. 207.— Charlemagne. Fig. 20S.— Henri I. 

Gold am. Silver Coins of the Thirteenth Century. 

Fjg 269.— Gold Florin of Louis IX. 

Fig. 27U. — Silver Gros of Tours. — Philip III. 

rural properties and leased holdings, were all subjected to them. There 
were, however, two different kinds of rates, one- called the occupation rate, 
and the other the rate of exploitation ; and they were both collected accord- 
ing to a register, kept in the most regular and systematic manner possible. 
Ancient custom had maintained a tax exceptionally in the following eases : 
when a noble dubbed his son a knight, or gave his daughter in marriage, 


•when he had to pay a ransom, and when he set out on a campaign against 
the enemies of the Church, or for the defence of the country. These 
taxes were called reticle, mix quatre cas. At this period despotism too often 
overruled custom, and the good King Louis IX., by granting legal power to 
custom, tried to bring it back to the true principles of justice and humanity. 
He was, however, none the less jealous of his own personal privileges, 
especially as regarded coining (Tigs. 263 to 270). He insisted that coining 
should be exclusively carried on in his palace, as in the times of the Carlo- 
vinerian kinn\s, and he required every coin to be made of a definite standard 
of weight, which he himself fixed. In this way he secured the exclusive 
control over the mint. For the various localities, towns, or counties directly 
under the crown, Louis IX. settled the mode of levying taxes. Men of 
integrity were elected by the vote of the General Assembly, consisting of the 
three orders — namely, of the nobility, the clergy, and the tiers Mat — to 
assess the taxation of each individual ; and these assessors themselves were 
taxed by four of their own number. The custom of levying proprietary 
subsidies in each small feudal jurisdiction could not be abolished, notwith- 
standing the King's desire to do so, owing to the power still held by the 
nobles. Nobles were forbidden to levy a rate under any consideration, 
without previously holding a meeting of the vassals and their tenants. The 
tolls on roads, bridges (Fig. 271), fairs, and markets, and the harbour dues 
were kept up, notwithstanding their obstruction to commerce, with the 
exception that free passage was given to corn passing from one province to 
another. The exemptions from taxes which had been dearly bought were 
removed; and the nobles were bound not to divert the revenue received 
from tolls for any purposes other than those for which they were legitimately 
intended. The nobles were also required to guard the roads " from sunrise 
to sunset," and they were made responsible for robberies committed upon 
travellers within their domains. 

Louis IX., by refunding the value of goods which had been stolen 
through the carelessness of his officers, himself showed an example of the 
respect due to the law. Those charged with collecting the King's dues, 
as well as the mayors whose duty it was to take custody of the money con- 
tributed, and to receive the taxes on various articles of consumption, 
worked under the eye of officials appointed by the King, who exercised a 
financial jurisdiction which developed later into the department or office 



called the Chamber of Accounts. A tax, somewhat similar to the tithe on 
lands, was imposed for the benefit of the nobles on property held by corpora- 
tions or under charter, in order to compensate the treasury for the loss of the 
succession duties. This tax represented about the fifth part of the value of 
the estate. To cover the enormous expenses of the two crusades, Louis IX., 
however, was obliged to levy two new taxes, called declines, from his already 

Fig. 271.- Paying Toll on passing a Bridge.— From a Painted Window in the Cathedral of 
Tournay (Fifteenth Century). 

overburdened people. It does not, however, appear that this excessive taxa- 
tion alienated the affection of his subjects. Their minds were entirely taken 
up with the pilgrimages to tbe East, and the pious monarch, notwithstanding 
his fruitless sacrifices and his disastrous expeditions, earned for himself the 
title of Prince of Peace find of Justice. 

From the time of Louis IX. down to that of Philippe le Bel, who was 

3 i6 


the most extravagant of kings, and at the same time the most ingenious 
in raising funds for the State treasury, the financial movement of Europe 
took root, and eventually became centralised in Italy. In Florence was 
presented an example of the concentration of the most complete municipal 
privileges which a great flourishing city could desire. Pisa, Genoa, and 
Venice attracted a part of the European commerce towards the Adriatic 
and the Mediterranean. Everywhere the Jews and Lombards — already 
well initiated into the mysterious system of credit, and accustomed to lend 
money — started banks and pawn establishments, where jewels, diamonds, 

Fig. 272.— View of the ancient Pont aux (Jhangeurs.— From an Engraving of the Topography of 
Paris, in the Cabinet des Estampes, of the National Library. 

glittering arms, and paraphernalia of all kinds were deposited by princes 
and nobles as security for loans (Fig. 272). 

The tax collectors (maUdtiers, a name derived from the Italian mala tolta, 
unjust tax), receivers, or farmers of taxes, paid clearly for exercising their 
calling, which was always a dishonourable one, and was at times exercised 
with a great amount of harshness and even of cruelty. The treasury required 
a certain number of cleniers, oboles, or pities (a small coin varying in value 
in each province) to be paid by these men for each bank operation they 
effected, and for every pound in value of merchandise they sold, for they and 
the Jews were permitted to carry on trades of all kinds without being 
subject to any kind of rates, taxes, work, military service, or municipal dues. 

TAXES, .VOX/:}', AXD FINANCE. 3 , 7 

Philippe le Bel, owing to his interminable wars against the Kino- of 
Gastille, and against England, Germany, and Flanders, was frequently so 
embarrassed as to be obliged to resort to extraordinary subsidies in order 
to carry them on. In 129o, he called upon his subjects for a forced lean, 
and soon after he shamelessly required them to pay the one-hundredth 
part of their incomes, and after but a short interval he demanded another 
fiftieth part. The King assumed the exclusive right to debase the value 
of the coinage, which caused him to be commonly called the base coiner, 
and no sovereign ever coined a greater quantity of base money. He 
changed the standard or name of current coin with a view to counter- 
balance the mischief arising from the illicit coinage of the nobles, and 
especially to baffle the base traffic of the Jews and Lombards, who occa- 
sionally would obtain possession of a great part of the coin, and mutilate each 
piece before restoring it to circulation ; in this way the}' upset the whole 
monetary economy of the realm, and secured immense profits to themselves 
(Fig. 273 to 278). 

In 1303, the aide au /cur, which was afterwards called the aide de I'ost, or 
the army tax, was invented by Philippe le Eel for raising an army without 
opening his purse. It was levied without distinction upon dukes, counts, 
barons, ladies, damsels, archbishops, bishops, abbots, chapters, colleges, and, 
in fact, upon all classes, whether noble or not. Nobles were bound to furnish 
one knight mounted, equipped, and in full armour, for every five hundred 
marks of land which they possessed ; those who were not nobles had to 
furnish six foot-soldiers for every hundred households. T>j another enact- 
ment of this king the privilege was granted of paying money instead of 
complying with these demands for men, and a sum of 100 livres — about 
10,000 francs of present currency — was exacted for each armed knight ; and 
two sols — about ten francs per diem — for each soldier which any one failed 
to furnish. An outcry was raised throughout France at this proceeding, and 
rebellions broke out in several provinces : in Paris the mob destroyed the 
house of Stephen Barbette, master of the mint, and insulted the King in Lis 
palace. It was necessary to enforce the royal authority with vigour, and, after 
considerable difficulty, peace was at last restored, and Philip learned, though 
too late, that in matters of taxation the people should first be consulted. In 
1313, for the first time, the bourgeoisie, syndics, or deputies of communities, 
under the name of tiers etui — third order of the state — were called to 

3 i8 


exercise the right of freely voting the assistance or subsidy which it pleased 
the King to ask of them. After this memorable occasion an edict was issued 
ordering a levy of six deniers in the pound on every sort of merchandise sold 
in the kingdom. Paris paid this without hesitation, whereas in the provinces 
there was much discontented murmuring. But the following year, the Kinc? 

Gold (Joins of the Fourteenth and Fiftefth Centuries 

Fig. 273.— Masse d'Or. Philip IV. 

Fig. 274.— Small Aiguel d'Or. Charles IV. 

Fig. 275.— Large Aignel d'Or. John the Good. 

Fig. 27C— Franc a Cheral d'Or. Charles V. 

Fig. 277.— Ecu d'Or. Philip VI. 

Fig. 278. — Salut d'Or. Charles VI. 

having tried to raise the six deniers voted by the assembly of 1313 to twelve, 
the clergy, nobility, and tiers etat combined to resist the extortions of the 
government. Philippe le Bel died, after having yielded to the opposition of 
bis indignant subjects, and in his last moments he recommended his son to 
exercise moderation in taxing and honesty in coining'. 


On the accession of Louis X., in 1315, war against the Flemish was 
imminent, although the royal treasury was absolutely empty. The Kin^ 
unfortunately, in spite of his father's advice, attempted systematically to 
tamper with the coinage, and he also commenced the exaction of fresh taxes, 
to the great exasperation of his subjects. He was obliged, through fear of 
a general rebellion, to do away with the tithe established for the support of 
the army, and to sacrifice the superintendent of finances, Enguerrand de 
ilarigny, to the public indignation which was felt against him. This man, 
without being allowed to defend himself, was tried by an extraordinary com- 
mission of parliament for embezzling the public money, was condemned to 
death, and was hung on the gibbet of Montfaucon. Not daring to risk a 
convocation of the States-General of the kingdom, Louis X. ordered the 
seneschals to convoke the provincial assemblies, and thus obtained a few 
subsidies, which he promised to refund out of the revenues of his domains. 
The clergy even allowed themselves to be taxed, and closed their eves to the 
misappropriation of the funds, which were supposed to he held in reserve for 
a new crusade. Taxes giving commercial franchise and of exchange were 
levied, which were paid by the Jews, Lombards, Tuscans, and other Italians; 
judiciary offices were sold by auction ; the trading class purchased letters of 
nobility, as they had already done under Philippe le Bel ; and, more than this, 
the enfranchisement of serfs, which had commenced in 1298, was continued 
on the payment of a tax, which varied according to the means of each 
individual. In consequence of this system, personal servitude was almost 
entirely abolished under Philippe le Long, brother of Louis X. 

Each province, under the reign of this rapacious and necessitous monarch, 
demanded some concession from the crown, and almost always obtained it at 
money value. Normandy and Burgundy, which were dreaded more than 
any other province on account of their turbulence, received remarkable con- 
cessions. The base coin was withdrawn from circulation, and Louis X. 
attempted to forbid the rigid of coinage to those who broke (he wise laws of 
St. Louis. The idea of bills of exchange arose at this period. 

Thanks to the peace concluded with Flanders, on which occasion that 
country paid into the hands of the sovereign thirty thousand florins in gold 
for arrears of taxes, and, above all, owing to the rules of economy and order, 
from which Philip V., surnamed the Long, never deviated, the attitude 
of France became completely altered. We find the King initiating reform 

3 20 


by reducing the expenses of his household. He convened round his person 
a, great council, which met monthly to examine and discuss matters of public 
interest ; he allowed only one national treasury for the reception of the State 

revenues ; he require 

d the treasurers to make a half-yearly statement of thei: 

279. — Hotel of the Chamber of Accounts in the Courtyard of the Palace in Paris. Prom a 
Woodcut of the " Cosmographie Universelle " of Muaster, in folio : Basle 1552. 

accounts, and a daily journal of receipts and disbursements ; he forbad clerks of 
the treasury to make entries either of receipts or expenditure, however trifling, 
without the authority and supervision of accountants, whom ho also compelled 
to assist at the checking of sums received or paid by the money-changers 
(Fig. 279). The farming of the crown lands, the King's taxes, the stamp 


3 2 ' 

registration, and the gaol duties were sold by auction, subject to certain 
regulations with regard to guarantee. The bailiffs and seneschals sent in 
their accounts to Paris annually, they were not allowed to absent themselves 
without the King's permission, and they were formally forbidden, under pain 
of confiscation, or even a severer penalty, to speculate with the public money. 
The operations of the treasury were at this period always involved in the 
greatest mystery. 

The establishment of a central mint for the whole kingdom, the expulsion 


Fig. 280.— Measuring Salt.— Fac-simile of a Fig. 281.— Toll under the Bridges of Paris.— 
Woodcut of the "Ordonnances do la Prevoste Facsimile of a Woodcut of the " Ordonnances 

des Marchands de Paris," in folio : 1500. do la Prevoste des Marehands de Paris," in 

folio : 1500. 

of the money-dealers, who were mostly of Italian origin, and the confiscation 
of their goods if it was discovered that they had acted falsely, signalised the 
accession of Charles le Eel in 1332. This beginning was welcomed as most 
auspicious, but before long the export duties, especially on grain, wine, hay, 
cattle, leather, and salt, became a source of legitimate complaint (Figs. 280 
and 281). 

Philip VI, surnamed de Valois, a more astute politician than his pre- 
decessor, felt the necessity of gaining the affections of the people by sparing 

T T 


their private fortunes. In order to establish the public revenue on a firm basis, 
he assembled, in 1330, the States-General, composed of barons, prelates, and 
deputies from the principal towns, and then, hoping' to awe the financial 
agents, he authorised the arrest of the overseer, Pierre de Montigny, whose 
property was confiscated and sold, producing to the treasury the enormous 
sum of 1 ,200,000 livrcs, or upwards of 100,000,000 francs of present currency. 
The Ion o- and terrible war which the King was forced to carry on against 
the English, and which ended in the treaty of Bretigny in 1301, gave 
rise to the introduction of taxation of extreme severity. The dues on 
ecclesiastical properties were renewed and maintained for several years ; all 
beverages sold in towns were taxed, and from four to six deniers in the 
pound were levied upon the value of all merchandise sold in any part of the 
kingdom. The salt tax, which Philippe le Pel had established, and which 
his successor, Louis X., immediately abolished at the unanimous wish of the 
people, was again levied by Philip VI., and this king, having caused the 
salt produced in his domains to be sold, " gave great offence to all classes of 
the community." It was on account of this that Edward III., King of 
England, facetiously called him the author of the Salic law. Philippe de 
Valois, when lie first ascended the throne, coined his money according to the 
standard weight of St. Louis, but in a short time he more or less alloyed it. 
This lie did secretly, in order to be able to withdraw the pieces of full weight 
from circulation and to replace them with others having less pure metal in 
them, and whose weight was made up by an extra amount of alloy. In this 
dishonest way a considerable sum was added to the coffers of the state. 

King John, on succeeding his father in 1350, found the treasury empty 
and the resources of the kingdom exhausted. lie was nevertheless obliged 
to provide means to continue the war against the English, who continually 
harassed the French on their own territory. The tax on merchandise not 
being sufficient for this war, the payment of public debts contracted by the 
government was suspended, and the State was thus obliged to admit its 
insolvency. The mint taxes, called srigneitriage, were pushed to the utmost 
limits, and the King levied them on the new coin, which he increased at will 
by largely alloying the gold with base metals. The duties on exported and 
imported goods were increased, notwithstanding the complaints that commerce 
was declining. These financial expedients would not have been tolerated 
by the people had not the King taken the precaution to have them approved 


3 2 3 

by the States-General of tlio provincial states, which lie annually assembled. 
In 1355 the States-General were convoked, and the King, who had to maintain 
thirty thousand soldiers, asked them to provide for this animal expenditure, 
estimated at 5,000,000 licres jxirisis, about 300,000,000 francs of present 
currency. The States-General, animated by a generous feeling of patriotism, 
"ordered a tax of eight deniers in the pound on the sale and transfer of all 
goods and articles of merchandise, with the exception of inheritances, which 

"v t 


Fig. 2S2. — The Courtiers amassing Hiches at the Expense of the Poor. — From a Miniature 
"Tresor" of Brunette Latini, Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the Lihrary 
Arsenal, Faris. 

in the 
of the 

t her 

was to be payable by the vendors, of whatever rank they might be, whe 
ecclesiastics, nobles, or others, and also a salt tax to be levied throughout the 
whole kingdom of France." The King promised as long' as this assistance 
lasted to levy no other subsidy and to coin good and sterling money — i.e. 
deniers of fine gold, white, or silver coin, coin of billon, or mixed metal, and 
deniers and mailles of copper. The assembly appointed travelling agents 

3 2 4 


and three inspectors or superintendents, who had under them two receivers 
and a considerable number of sub-collectors, whose duties were defined with 
scrupulous minuteness. The King at this time renounced the right of seizin, 
his dues over property inherited or conveyed by sale, exchange, gift, or will, 
his right of demanding war levies by proclamation, and of issuing forced loans, 
the despotic character of which offended everybody. The following year, 
the tax of eight deniers having been found insufficient and expensive in its 
collection, the assembly substituted for it a property and income tax, varying 
according to the property and income of each individual. 

The finances were, notwithstanding these additions, in a low and unsatis- 
factory condition, which became worse and worse from the fatal clay of 
Poitiers, when King John fell into the hands of the English. The States- 
General were summoned by the Dauphin, and, seeing the desperate condition 
in which the country was placed, all classes freely opened their purses. The 
nobility, who had already given their blood, gave the produce of all their feudal 
dues besides. The church paid a tenth and a half, and the bourgeois showed 
the most noble unselfishness, and rose as one man to find means to resist the 
common enenry. The ransom of the King had been fixed at three millions of 
ecus d'or, nearly a thousand million francs, payable in six years, and the 
peace of Bretigny was concluded by the cession of a third of the territory of 
France. There was, however, cause for congratulation in this result, for 
" Franco was reduced to its utmost extremity," says a chronicler, "and had 
not something led to a reaction, she must have perished irretrievably." 

King John, grateful for the love and devotion shown to him by his 
subjects under these trying circumstances, returned from captivity with the 
solemn intention of lightening the burdens which pressed upon them, and in 
consequence he began by spontaneously reducing the enormous wages which 
the tax-gatherers had hitherto received, and by abolishing the tolls on high- 
ways. He also sold to the Jews, at a very high price, the right of remaining 
in the kingdom and of exercising any trade in it, and by this means he 
obtained a large sum of money. lie solemnly promised never again to 
debase the coin, and he endeavoured to make an equitable division of the 
taxes. Unfortunately it was impossible to do without a public revenue, and 
it was necessary that the royal ransom should be paid off within six years. 
The people, from whom taxes might be always extorted at pleasure, paid a 
good share of this, for the fifth of the three millions of ecus d'or was realised 


from the tax on salt, the thirteenth part from the duty on the sale of 
fermented liquors, and twelve deniers per pound from the tax mi the value of 
all provisions sold and resold within the kingdom. Commerce was subjected 
to anew tax called imposition famine, a measure most detrimental to the trade 
and manufactures of the country, which were continually strugo-lin"' under 
the pitiless oppression of the treasury. Royal despot ism was not always 
able to shelter itself under the sanction of the general and provincial 
councils, and a few provinces, which forcibly protested against tin's excise 
duty, were treated on the same footing as foreign slates with relation to the 
transit of merchandise from them. Other provinces compounded for this tax, 
and in this way, owing to the different arrangements in different places, a com- 
plicated system of exemptions and prohibitions existed which, although most 
prejudicial to all industry, remained in force to a great extent until 1789. 

"When Charles A'. — surnamed the Wise — ascended the throne in 1364, 
France, ruined by the disasters of the war, by the weight of taxation, by the 
reduction in her commerce, and by the want of internal security, exhibited 
everywhere a picture of misery and desolation; in addition to which, 
famine and various epidemics were constantly breaking out in various 
parts of the kingdom. Besides this, the country was incessantly overrun 
by gangs of plunderers, who called themselves eeorchcuns, routicr.i, fnrrl- 
venus, &c., and who were more dreaded by tne country people even than the 
English had been. Charles V., who was celebrated for his justice and for his 
economical and provident habits, was alone capable of establishing order in 
the midst of such general confusion. Supported by the vote of the Assembly 
held at Compiegne in 1367, he remitted a moiety of the salt tax and 
diminished the number of the treasury agents, reduced their wages, and cur- 
tailed their privileges. Tie inquired into all cases of embezzlement, so as 
to put a stop to fraud; and he insisted that the accounts of the public 
expenditure in its several departments should be annually audited. lie 
protected commerce, facilitated exchanges, and reduced, as far as possible, 
the rates and taxes on woven articles and manufactured goods. lie per- 
mitted Jews to hold funded properly, and invited foreign merchants to trade 
with the country. For the first time he required all sold and silver articles 
to be stamped, and called in all the old gold and silver coins, in order that by 
a new and uniform issue the value of money might no longer be fictitious or 
variable. For more than a century coins had so often changed in name, 


value, and standard weight, that in an edict of King John we read, " It was 
difficult for a man when paying money in the ordinary course to know what 
he was about from one day to another." 

The recommencement of hostilities between England and France in 1370 
unfortunately interrupted the progressive and regular course of these financial 
improvements. The States-General, to whom the King was obliged to appeal 
for assistance in order to cany on the war, decided that salt should be taxed 
one sol per pound, wine by wholesale a thirteenth of its value, and by retail 
a fourth; that afouage, or hearth tax, of six francs should bo established in 
towns, and of two francs in the country,* and that a duty should be levied 
in walled towns on the entrance of all wine. The produce of the salt tax 
was devoted to the special use of the King. Each district farmed its excise 
and its salt tax, under the superintendence of clerks appointed by the King, 
who regulated the assessment and the fines, and who adjudicated in the first 
instance in all cases of dispute. Tax-gatherers were chosen by the inha- 
bitants of each locality, but the chief officers of finance, four in number, 
were appointed by the King. This administrative organization, created on a 
sound basis, marked the establishment of a complete financial system. The 
Assembly, which thus transferred the administration of all matters of taxation 
from the people at large to the King, did not consist of a. combination of the 
three estates, but simply of persons of position — namely, prelates, nobles, and 
bourgeois of Paris, in addition to the leading magistrates of the kingdom. 

The following extract from the accounts of the loth November, 1372, 
is interesting, inasmuch as it represents the actual budget of France under 
Charles V. :_ 

Article 18. Assigned for the payment of men at arms . . 50,000 francs. 
,, 19. For payment of men at arms and cross-bowmen 

newly formed 42,000 

,, For sea purposes 8,000 

20. For the King's palace 6,000 

,, To place in the King's coffers 5,000 

,. 21. It pleases the King that the receiver-general 
should have monthly for matters that daily 

arise in the chamber 10,000 

,, For the payment of debts 10,000 

Total 131,000 

Thia is the origin of the saying " smoke farthing. 

A miniature from the "Lrore dcs comptes" of the Society, a ms. of i:;" 1 century. 

/'.l.VA'.v, .VOX/-:}', AXD FIXAXCE. ^ 7 

Tims, tor the year, 131,000 francs in com </'or, representiiif in present 
money about 12,000,000 francs, were appropriated to the expenses of the 
State, out ol' which the sum of 5,000 francs, equal to 275,000 francs of present 
money, was devoted to what we may call the ('in/ Lint. 

On the death of Charles V., in 1380, his oldest son Charles, who was a 
minor, was put under the guardianship of his uncles, and one of these, the 
Duke d'Anjou, assumed the regency by force. lie seized upon the royal 
treasury, which was concealed in the Castle of Mclun, and also upon all 
the savings of the deceased king; and, instead of applying them to alleviate 
the general burden of taxation, he levied a duty for the first time on the 
common food of the people. Immediately there arose a general outcry of 
indignation, and a formidable expression of resistance was made in Paris and 
in the large towns. Mob orators loudly proclaimed the public rights thus 
trampled upon by the regent and the King's uncles; the expression of the 
feelings of the masses began to take the shape of open revolt, when the 
council of the regency made an appearance of giving way, and the new taxes 
were suppressed, or, at all events, partially abandoned. The suocess of the 
insurrectionary movement, however, caused increased concessions to be de- 
manded by the people. The Jews and tax-collectors were attacked. Some 
of the hitter were hung or assassinated, and their registers torn up; and 
ninny of the former were ill-treated and banished, notwithstanding the price 
they had paid for living in the kingdom. 

The assembly of the States, which was summoned by the King's uncles to 
meet in Paris, sided with the people, and, in consequence, the regent and his 
brother pretended to acknowledge the justice of the claims which were made 
upon them in the name of the people, and, on their withdrawing the taxes, 
order was for a time restored. No sooner, however, was this the case than, 
in spite of the solemn promises made by the council of regency, the taxes 
were suddenly reimposed, and the right of farming them was sold to persons 
who exacted them in the most brutal manner. A sanguinary revolt, called 
that of the Maillotum, burst forth in Paris ; and the capital remained for some 
time in the power of the people, or rather of the bourgeois, who led the 
mob on to act for them (1381-13S2). The towns of Rouen, Ilheims, Troves, 
Orleans, and JJlois, many places in Beauvoise, in Champagne, and in Nor- 
mandy, followed the example of the Parisians, and it is impossible to say 
to what a length the revolt would have reached had it nol been for the 


victory over the Flemish at Hosebeequc. This victory enabled the King's 
uncles to re-enter Paris in 1383, and to re-establish the royal authority, at 

Fig-. 283.— Assassination of the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, on the Bridge of Montereau, 
in 1 119.— Far-simile of a Miniature in the "Chronicles" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the 
Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

the same time making the Maillotins and their accomplices pay dearly for 
their conduct. The excise duties, the hearth tax, the salt tax, and various other 
imposts which bad been abolished or suspended, were re-established; the 


y- c ) 

taxes on wine, beer, and other fermented liquors was lowered ; bread was 
taxed twelve deniers per pound, and the duty on salt was fixed at the exces- 
sive rate of twenty francs in gold — about 1,200 francs of present money — 
per hogshead of sixty hundredweight. Certain concessions and compromises 
were made exceptionally in favour of Artois, Dauphine, Poitou, and Saintonge, 
in consideration of the voluntary contributions which those provinces had 

Emboldened by the success of their exacting and arbitrary rule, the Dukes 
of Anjou, Burgundy, and Berry, under pretext of requiring money for war 
expenses, again increased the taxes from the year 1385 to 1388 ; and the 
salt tax was raised to forty golden francs, about 24,000 francs of present 
money, per hogshead. The ecclesiastics paid a half decime to the King, and 
several declines to the Pope, but these did not prevent a forced loan being- 
ordered. Happily, Charles VI. about this period attained his majority, and 
assumed his position as king; and his uncle, the Duke of Bourbon, who 
was called to the direction of affairs, re-established comparative order in 
financial matters ; but soon after the King's brother, the Duke of Orleans, 
seized the reins of government, and, jointly with his sister-in-law, Isabel 
of Bavaria, increased the taxation far beyond that imposed by the Duke 
d' Anjou. The Duke of Burgundy, called John the Fearless, in order to 
gratify his personal hatred to his cousin, Louis of Orleans, made himself 
the instrument of the strong popular feeling by assassinating that prince 
as he was returning from an entertainment. The tragical death of the 
Duke of Orleans no more alleviated the ills of France than did that of 
the Duke of Burgundy sixteen years later— for he in his turn was the 
victim of a conspiracy, and was assassinated on the bridge of Montereau m 
the presence of the Dauphin (Fig. 283). The marriage of Isabel of France 
with the young king Richard of England, the ransom of the Christian 
prisoners in the East, the money required by the Emperor of Constantinople 
to stop the invasions of the Turks into Europe, the pay of the French army, 
which was now permanent, each necessarily required fresh subsidies, and 
money had to be raised in some way or other from the French people. 
Distress was at its height, and though the people were groaning under 
oppression, they continued to pay not only the increased taxes on pro- 
visions and merchandise, and an additional general tax, but to submit 
to the most outrageous confiscations and robbery of the public money 

V V 


from the public treasuries. The State Assemblies held at Auxerre and 
Paris in 1412 and 14FJ, denounced the extravagance and maladminis- 
tration of the treasurers, the generals, the excisemen, the receivers of 
royal dues, and of all those who took part in the direction of the finances ; 
though they nevertheless voted the taxes, and promulgated most severe 
regulations with respect to their collection. To meet emergencies, which 
were now becoming chronic, extraordinary taxes were established, the non- 
payment of which involved the immediate imprisonment of the defaulter ; 
and the debasement of the coinage, and the alienation of certain parts of 
the kingdom, were authorised in the name of the King, who had been 
insane for more than fifteen years. The incessant revolts of the bourgeois, 
the reappearance of the English on the soil of France, the ambitious rivalry 
of Queen Isabel of Bavaria leagued with the Duke of Burgundy against 
the Dauphin, who had been made regent, at last, in 1420, brought about 
the humiliating treaty of Troves, by which Henry V., kino- of England 
was to become king of France on the death of Charles VI. 

This treaty of Troyes became the cause of, and the pretext for, a vast 
amount of extortion being practised upon the unfortunate inhabitants of the 
conquered country. Henry V., who had already made several exactions from 
Normandy before he had obtained by force the throne of France, did not 
spare the other provinces, and, whilst proclaiming his good intentions 
towards his future subjects, he added a new general impost, in the shape of 
a forced loan, to the taxes which already weighed so heavily on the people. 
lie also issued a new coinage, maintained many of the taxes, especially those 
on salt and on liquors, even after he had announced his intention of abolishing 

At the same time the Dauphin Charles, surnamed Roi de Bourges, 
because he had retired with his court and retinue into the centre of the 
kingdom (1422), was sadly in want of money. He alienated the State 
revenues, he levied excise duties and subsidies in the provinces which 
remained faithful to his cause, and he borrowed largely from those members 
of the Church and the nobility win. manifested a generous pity for the 
sad destiny of the King and the monarchy. Many persons, however, 
instead of sacrificing themselves for their king and country, made con- 
ditions with him, taking advantage of his position. The heir to the throne 
was obliged in many points to give way, either to a noble whose services 



Fig. 284. — The House of Jacques Cteur at Bourses, now converted into tin 1 Hotel ilc Vil'e. 

he bargained for, or to a town or an abbey whoso aid he sought. At times lie 
bought over influential bodies, such as universities and oilier corporations, 
by granting exemptions from, or privileges in, matters of taxation, &c. So 


much was this the case that it may be said that 'Charles VII. treated 
by private contract for the recovery of the inheritances of his fathers. 
The towns of Paris and Rouen, as well as the provinces of Brittany, Lan- 
guedoc, Normandy, and Guyenne, only returned to their allegiance to the 
King on conditions more or less advantageous to themselves. Burgundy, 
Picardy, and Flanders — which were removed from the kingdom of 
Charles VII. at the treaty of peace of Arras in 1435 — cordially adopted 
the financial system inaugurated by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the 

Charles VII. reconquered his kingdom by a good and wise policy as 
much as by arms. He, doubtless, had cause to be thankful for the valour 
and devotion of his officers, but he principally owed the success of his cause 
to one man, namely, his treasurer, the famous Jacques Cocur, who possessed 
the faculty of always supplying money to his master, and at the same 
time of enriching himself (Fig. 284). Thus it was that Charles VII., 
whose finances had been restored by the genius of Jacques Cceur, was at 
last able to re-enter his capital triumphantly, to emancipate Guyenne, 
Normandy, and the banks of the Loire from the English yoke, to re- 
attach to the crown a portion of its former possessions, or to open the way 
for their early return, to remove bold usurpers from high places in the 
State, and to bring about a real alleviation of those evils which his 
subjects had so courageously borne. He suppressed the fraud and extor- 
tion carried on under the name of justice, put a stop to the sale of offices, 
abolished a number of rates illegally levied, required that the receivers' 
accounts should be sent in biennially, and whilst regulating the taxa- 
tion, he devoted its proceeds entirely to the maintenance and pay of 
the army. From that time taxation, once feudal and arbitrary, became a 
fixed royal due, which was the surest means of preventing the pillage and 
the excesses of the soldiery to which the country people had been subjected 
for many years. Important triumphs of freedom were thus obtained over 
the tyrannical supremacy of the great vassals ; but in the midst of all this 
improvement we cannot but regret that the assessors, who, from the time of 
their creation by St. Louis, had been elected by the towns or the corporations, 
now became the nominees of the crown. 

Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, taxed his subjects but little: 
"Therefore," says Philippe de Commines, "they became very wealthy, and 



lived in much comfort." But Louis XT. did not imitate him. His first care 
was to reinstate that great merchant, that clover financier, Jacques Occur, to 
whom, as much as to Joan of Are, the kingdom owed its freedom, and 
whom Charles TIL, for the most contemptible reasons, had had the weakness 

Fir,'. 280. — Amende honorable of Jacquea Ccrur before Charles VII. — Fac-similc of a Miniature 
of the "C'hroniques" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the National 
Library of Pans. 

to allow to be judicially condemned (Fig. 285). Louis XL would have been 
very glad to entrust the care of bis finances to another Jacques Cceur ; for 
being sadly in want of money, he ran through bis father's earnings, and, to 
refill his coffers, he increased taxation, imposed a duty on the importation 


of wines, and levied a tax on tliose holding offices, &o. A revolution broke 
out in consequence, which was only quenched in the blood of the insurgents. 
In this manner he continued, by force of arms, to increase and strengthen 
his own regal power at the expense of feudalism. 

He soon found himself opposed by the Ligue clu Blen Public, formed by 
the great vassals ostensibly to get rid of the pecuniary burden which oppressed 
the people, but really with the secret intention of restoring feudalism and 
lessening the King's power. He was not powerful enough openly to resist 
this, and appeared to give way by allowing the leagued nobles immense 
privileges, and himself consenting to the control of a sort of council of 
" thirty-six notables appointed to superintend matters of finance." Far 
from acknowledging himself vanquished, however, he immediately set to 
work to cause division among his enemies, so as to be able to overcome 
them. He accordingly showed favour towards the bourgeois, whom he had 
already flattered, by granting new privileges, and abolishing or reducing 
certain vexatious taxes of which they complained. The thirty-six notables 
appointed to control his financial management reformed nothing. They 
were timid and docile under the cunning eye of the King, and practically 
assisted him in his designs ; for in a very few years the taxes were 
increased from 1,800,000 ecus — about 45,000,000 francs of present money — 
to 3,600,000 ecus — about 95,000,000 francs. Towards the end of the 
reign they exceeded 4,700,000 ecus — 130,000,000 francs of present monej'. 
Louis XL wasted nothing on luxury and pleasure ; he lived parsimoniously, 
but he maintained 110,000 men under arms, and was ready to make the 
greatest sacrifices whenever there was a necessity for augmenting the 
territory of the kingdom, or for establishing national unity. At his death, 
on the 25th of August, 1483, he left a kingdom considerably increased in 
area, but financially almost ruined. 

When Anne de Beaujeu, eldest sister of the King, who was a minor, 
assumed the reins of government as regent, an immediate demand was made 
for reparation of the evils to which the finance ministers had subjected the 
unfortunate people. The treasurer-general Olivier le Lain, and the attorney- 
general Jean Doyat, were almost immediately sacrificed to popular resent- 
ment, six thousand Swiss were subsidised, the pensions granted during the 
previous reign were cancelled, and a fourth part of the taxes was removed. 
Public opinion being thus satisfied, the States- General assembled. The 



bourgeois here showed grout practical good sense, especially in matters of 
finance ; they proved clearly that the assessment was illegal, and that the 

Fig. 286.— The Hint. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Translation of the Latin Work of Francis 
Patricius, " Lie l'lnstitution ct Administration de la Chose Politique :" folio, 1020. 

accounts were fictitious, inasmuch as the latter only showed 1,G50,000 livres 
of subsidies, whereas they amounted to three times as much. It was satisfac- 
torily established that the excise, the salt tax, and the revenues of the public 



Fig. 287. — The Receiver of Taxes. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Damhoudere's "Praxis 

Kerurn Civilium." 

lands amply sufficed for the wants of the country and the crown. The 
young King Charles was only allowed 1,200,000 livres for his private purse 
for two years, and 300,000 livres for the expenses of the festivities of his 



coronation. On the Assembly being dissolved, the Queen Regent found ample 
means of pleasing the bourgeois and the people generally by breaking 
through the engagements she had entered into in the King's name, by 
remitting taxation, and finally by force of arms destroying the power of 
the last remaining vassals of the crown. 

Charles \ III., during a reign of fourteen years, continued to waste the 
public money. His disastrous expedition for the conquest of the kingdom 
of Naples forced him to borrow at the rate of forty-two per cent. A short 
time previous to his death lie acknowledged his errors, but continued to 
spend money, without consideration or restraint, in all kinds of extravagances, 
but especially in buildings. During his reign the annual expenditure almost 
invariably doubled the revenue. In 1492 it readied 7,300,000 francs, about 
244,000,000 francs of present money. The deficit was made up each year 
by a general tax, " which was paid neither by the nobles nor the Church, 
but was obtained entirely from the people " (letters from the ambassadors 
of Venice) . 

When the Duke of Orleans ascended the throne as Louis XII., the people 
were again treated with some consideration. Having chosen George d'Amboise 
as premier and Florimond Robertet as first secretary of the treasury, he 
resolutely pursued a course of strict economy ; ho refused to demand of his 
subjects the usual tax for celebrating the joyous accession, the taxes fell 
by successive reductions to the sum of 2,600,000 livres, about 70,000,000 
francs of present money, the salt tax was entirely abolished, and the 
question as to what should be the standard measure of this important article 
was legislated upon. The tax-gatherers were forced to reside in their 
respective districts, and to submit their registers to the royal commissioners 
before beginning to collect the tax. By strict discipline pillage by soldiers 
was put a stop to (Fig. 288), 

Notwithstanding the resources obtained by the King through mortgaging 
a part of the royal domains, and in spite of the excellent administration of 
Robertet, who almost always managed to pay the public deficit without any 
additional tax, it was necessary in 1513, after several disastrous expeditions 
to Italy, to borrow, on the security of the royal domains, 400,000 livres, 
10,000,000 francs of present money, and to raise from the excise and from 
other dues and taxes the sum of 3,300,(101) livres, about 80,000,000 francs 
of present money. Tliis caused the nation some distress, but it was only 

'x x 



temporary and was not much, felt, for commerce, both domestic and foreign, 
much extended at the same time, and the sale of collectorships, of titles of 
nobility, of places in parliament, and of nominations to numerous judicial 
offices, brought in considerable sums to the treasury. The higher classes 
surnamed the king Le Roitelet, because he was sickly and of small stature, 
parsimonious and economical. The people called him their " father and 
master," and he has always been styled the father of the people ever since. 

wiSJF 8 




*i; f x 

Fig. 288.— A Village pillaged by Soldiers.— Fac-siniile of a Woodcut in Hamelmann's 
" Oldenburgisches Chronicon :" in folio, 1599. 

In an administrative and financial point of view, the reign of Francis I. 
was not at all a period of revival or of progress. The commencement of a 
sounder system of finance is rather to be dated from that of Charles V. ; and 
good financial organization is associated with the names of Jacques Cceur, 
Philip the Good, Charles XL, and Florimond Eobertet. As an example of 
this, it may be stated that financiers of that time established taxes on regis- 
tration of all kinds, also on stamps, and on sales, which did not before exist in 
France, and which were borrowed from the Roman emperors. We must 
also give them the credit of having first commenced a public debt, under the 



name of rentes pcrpetuclles, which at that time realised eight per cent. 
During- this brilliant and yet disastrous reign the additional taxes were 
enormous, and the sale of offices produced such a large revenue that the 
post of parliamentary counsel realised the sum of '-.',000 -olden ecus or 

Gold ami Silver Coins or the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centukies. 


Fig. 2S9.— Eoval d'Or. Charles VII." Fig. 200.— Ecu d'Argtnt a la Couronne. Louis XI. 



Fig. 291. — Ecu d'Or a la Couronne._ Charles VIII. Fig. 292. — Ecu d'Or au Porc-6|jic. Louis XII. 

Teston d' Argent au Croissant. Henry 11. 

nearly a million francs of present currency. It was necessary to obtain 
money at any price, and from any one who would lend it. Tlie ecclesiastics, 
the nobility, tbe bourgeois, all gave up their plate and their jewels to 
furnish the mint, which continued to coin money of every description, and, 
in consequence of the discovery of America, and tbe working of the gold 
and silver mines in tbat country, tbe precious metals poured into tbe bands 



of the money-changers. The country, however, was none the more 
prosperous, and the people often were in want of even the commonest 
necessaries of life. The King and the court swallowed up everything, and 
consumed all the resources of the country on their luxury and their wars. 
The towns, the monasteries, and the corporations, were bound to furnish a 
certain number of troops, either infantry or cavalry. By the establishment of 
a lottery and a bank of deposit, by the monopoly of the mines and by the taxes 
on imports, exports, and manufactured articles, enormous sums were realised 
to the treasury, which, as it was being continually drained, required to be as 
continually replenished. Francis I. exhausted every source of credit by his 
luxury, his caprices, and his wars. Jean de Beaune, Baron de Semblancay, 
the old minister of finance, died a victim to false accusations of having 
misappropriated the public funds. Robertet, who was in office with him, 
and William Bochetel, who succeeded him, were more fortunate : they so 
managed the treasury business that, without meeting with any legal diffi- 
culty, they were enabled to centralise the responsibility in themselves instead 
of having it distributed over sixteen branches in all parts of the kingdom, a 
system which has continued to our clay. In those days the office of superin- 
tendent of finance was usually only a short and rapid road to the gibbet of 


The Family the Origin of Government. — Origin of Supreme Power amongst tin; 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 Chitelet and the Provost of Paris. — 
Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its Responsibilities. — Tiro Bailiwicks. — Struggles 
between Parliament and the Chatelet. — Codification of the Customs and Usages. — Official 
cupidity. — Comparison between the Parliament and the Chitelet. 

MOXGST the ancient Celtic mid Ger- 
man populations, before any Greek 
or Roman innovations had become 
engrafted on to their customs, every- 
thing, even political power as well 
as the rightful possession of lands, 
appears to have been dependent on 
families. Julius Gesar, in bis " Com- 
mentaries," tells us that "each year 
the magistrates and princes assigned 
portions of land to families as well as 
to associations of individuals having a common object whenever they thought 
proper, and to any extent they chose, though in the following year the same 
authorities compelled them to go and establish themselves elsewhere." We 
again find families (familice) and associations of men (cognat tones hoiitiimm) 
spoken of by Caesar, in the barbaric laws, and referred to in the histories of 
the Middle Ages under the names of genealogies, faravianni, fam, etc; but the 
extent of the relationship (parentela) included under the general appellation 
of families varied amongst the Franks, Lombards, Visigoths, and Bavarians. 
Generally, amongst all the people of German origin, the relationship only 
extended to the seventh degree ; amongst the Celts it was determined merely 
by a common ancestry, with endless subdivisions of the tribe into distinct 


families. Amongst the Germans, from whom modern Europe has its origin, 
we find only three primary groups ; namely, first, the family proper, com- 
prising the father, mother, and children, and the collateral relatives of all 
degrees; secondly, the vassals (minister idles) or servants of the free class; 
and, thirdly, the servants (mansionarii, coloni, liti, serin) of the servile class 
attached to the family proper (Fig. 296). 

Domestic authority was represented hy the mund, or head of the family, 
also called rex (the king), who exercised a special power over the persons and 
goods of his dependents, a guardianship, in fact, with certain rights and pre- 
rogatives, and a sort of civil and political responsibility attached to it. Thus 
the head of the family, who was responsible for his wife and for those of his 
children who lived with him, was also responsible for his slaves and domestic 
animals. To such a pitch did these primitive people carry their desire that 
justice should be done in all cases of infringement of the law, that the head 
was held legally responsible for any injury which might be done by the bow 
or the sword of any of his dependents, without it being necessary that he 
should himself have handled either of these weapons. 

Long before the commencement of the Merovingian era, the family, 
whose sphere of action had at first been an isolated and individual one, 
became incorporated into one great national association, which held official 
meetings at stated periods on the Mailer g (Parliament hill). These assemblies 
alone possessed supreme power in its full signification. The titles given to 
certain chiefs of rex (king), dux (duke), graff (count), brenn (general of the 
army), only defined the subdivisions of that power, and were applied, the last 
exclusively, to those engaged in war, and the others to those possessing 
judicial and administrative functions. The duty of dispensing justice was 
specially assigned to the counts, who had to ascertain the cause of quarrels 
between parties and to inflict penalties. There was a count in each district 
and in each important town ; there were, besides, several counts attached to 
the sovereign, under the title of counts of the palace (comites palatii), an 
honourable position, which was much sought after and much coveted on 
account of its pecuniary and other contingent advantages. The counts of 
the palace deliberated with the sovereign on all matters and all questions of 
State, and at the same time they were his companions in hunting, feasting, 
and religious exercises ; they acted as arbitrators in questions of inheritance 
of the crown ; during the minority of princes they exercised the same 



authority as that which the constitution gave to sovereigns who wore of full 
age ; they confirmed the nominations of the principal functionaries and oven 
those of the bishops ; they gave their advice on the occasion of a proposed 
alliance between one nation and another, on matters connected with treaties of 
peace or of commerce, on military expeditions, or on exchanges of territory, 
as well as in reference to the marriage of a prince, and they incurred no re- 
sponsibility beyond that naturally attached to persons in so distinguished a 
position among a semi-barbarous community. At first the legates (legati), and 
afterwards the King's ambassadors [missi dominici), the bishops and the dukes 
or commanders of the army were usually selected from the higher court officials, 

Fig. 296.— The Families and the Barbarians.— Fae-simile of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie 
Universelle " of Minister : in folio, Basle, 1552. 

such as the counts of the palace, whereas the ministeriales, forming the second 
class of the royal officials, filled inferior though very honourable and lucrative 
posts of an administrative and magisterial character. 

Under the Merovingians the legal principle of power was closely bound up 
with the possession of landed property. The subdivision of that power, how- 
ever, closely followed this union, and the constant ruin of some of the nobles 
rapidly increased the power of others, who absorbed to themselves the lost 
authority of their more unfortunate brethren, so much so that the Frank kings 
perceived that society would soon escape their rule unless they speedily found 
a remedy for this state of things. It was then that the his Sa/ique and 
Eipuaire appeared, which were subjected to successive revisions and gradual 


or sudden modifications, necessitated by political changes or by the increasing 
exigencies of the prelates and nobles. But, far from lessening the supremacy 
of the King, the national customs which were collected in a code extended 
the limits of the royal authority and facilitated its exercise. 

In 596, Childebert, in concert with his leiicks, decided that in future the 
crime of rape should be punished with death, and that the judge of the 
district (pagus) in which it had been committed should kill the ravisher, 
and leave his body on the public road. He also enacted that the homicide 
should have the same fate. "It is just," to epiote the words of the law, 
"that he who knows how to kill should learn how to die." Bobbery, 
attested by seven witnesses, also involved capital punishment, and a judge 
convicted of having let a noble escape, underwent the same punishment 
that would have been inflicted on the criminal. The punishment, how- 
ever, differed according to the station of the delinquent. Thus, for the 
non-observance of Sunday, a Salian paid a fine of fifteen sols, a Roman 
seven and a half sols, a slave three sols, or " his back paid the penalty 
for him." At this early period some important changes in the barbaric 
code had been made : the sentence of death when once given had to be 
carried out, and no arrangements between the interested parties could avert 
it. A crime could no longer be condoned by the payment of money ; 
robbery even, which was still leniently regarded at that time, and beyond 
the Rhine even honoured, was pitilessly punished \>y death. We therefore 
cannot have more striking testimony than this of the abridgment of the 
privileges of the Frankish aristocracy, and of the progress which the 
sovereign power was making towards absolute and uncontrolled authority 
over cases of life and death. By almost imperceptible steps Roman legisla- 
tion became more humane and perfect, Christianity engrafted itself into 
barbarism, licentiousness was considered a crime, crime became an offence 
against the King and society, and it was in one sense by the King's hand 
that the criminals received punishment. 

From the time of the baptism of Clovis, the Church had much to do with 
the re-arrangement of the penal code ; for instance, marriage with a sister- 
in-law, a mother-in-law,, an aunt, or a niece, was forbidden ; the travelling 
shows, nocturnal dances, public orgies, formerly permitted at feasts, were for- 
bidden as being profane. In the time of Clotaire, the prelates sat as members 
of the supreme council, which was strictly speaking the highest court of the 


land, having the power of reversing the decisions of the judges of the 
lower courts. Tt pronounced sentence in conjunction with (he Kin"-, and 
from these decisions there was no appeal. The nation had no longer a voice 
in the election of the magistrates, for the assemblies of Malberg did not meet 
except on extraordinary occasions, and all government and judicial business 
was removed to the supreme and often capricious arbitration of the King and 
his council. 

As long as the mayors of the palace of Australia, and of thai of Bur- 
gundy, were only temporarily appointed, royal authority never wavered, and 
the sovereign remained supreme judge over his subjects. Suddenly, however, 
after the execution of Brunehaut, who was sacrificed to the hatred of the 
feudal lords, the mayoralty of the palace became a life appointment, and, in 
consequence, the person holding the office became possessed almost of supreme 
power, and the rightful sovereigns from that time practically became subject to 
the authority of the future usurpers of the crown. The edict of 615, to which 
the ecclesiastical and State nobility were parties, was in its laws and customs 
completely at variance with former edicts. In resuming their places in the 
French constitution, the Merovingian kings, who had been deprived both 
of influence and authority, were compelled by the Germanic institutions to 
return to the passive position which their predecessors had held in the forests 
of Germany, but they no longer had, like the latter, the prestige of military 
authority to enable them to keep the position of judges or arbitrators. The 
canons of the Council of Paris, which were confirmed by an edict of the King 
bearing date the loth of the calends of November, 015, upset the political and 
legal system so firmly established in Europe since the fifth century. The 
royal power was shorn of some of its most valuable prerogatives, one of which 
was that of selecting the bishops ; lay judges were forbidden to bring an 
ecclesiastic before the tribunals ; and the treasury was prohibited from 
seizing intestate estates, with a view to increasing the rates and taxes ; and it 
was decreed that Jews should not lie employed in collecting the public taxes. 
By these canons the judges and other officers of State were made responsible, 
the benefices which had been withdrawn from the kudes were restored, the 
King was forbidden from granting written orders (prrecepta) for carrying oft 
rich widows, young virgins, and nuns ; and the penalty of death was ordered 
to be enforced against those who disobeyed the canons of the council. Thence 
sprung two new species of legislation, one ecclesiastical, the other civil, 

v v 


between which royalty, more and more curtailed of its authority, was 
compelled for many centuries to struggle. 

Amongst the Germanic nations the right of justice was inherent to 
landed property from the earliest times, and this right had reference to 
things as well as to persons. It was the patronage (patrocinium) of the pro- 
prietor, and this patronage eventually gave origin to feudal jurisdictions and 
to lordly and customary rights in each domain. We may infer from this 
that under the two first dynasties laws were made by individuals, and that 
each lord, so to speak, made bis own. 

The right of jurisdiction seems to have been so inherent to the right of 
property, that a landed proprietor could always put an end to feuds and 
personal quarrels, could temporarily bring any lawsuit to a close, and, bv 
issuing his ban, stop the course of the law in his own immediate neighbour- 
hood — at least, within a given circumference of his residence. This was 
often done during any family festival, or any civil or religious public 
ceremony. On these occasions, whoever infringed the ban of the master, 
was liable to be brought before his court, and to have to pay a fine. The 
lord who was too poor to create a court of sufficient power and importance 
obtained assistance from his lord paramount, or relinquished the right of 
justice to him ; whence originated the saying, " The fief is one thing, and 
justice another." 

The law of the Visigoths speaks of nobles holding local courts, similar to 
those of the official judge, count, or bishop. King Dagobert required the 
public and the private judges to act together. In the law of Lombardy 
landlords are mentioned who, in virtue of the double title of nobles and 
judges, assumed the right of protecting fugitive slaves taking shelter in their 
domains. By an article of the Salic law, the noble is made to answer for 
his vassal before the court of the count. Wc must hence conclude that the 
landlord's judgment was exercised indiscriminately on the serfs, the colons, 
and the vassals, and a statute of 855 places under his authority even the 
freemen who resided with other persons. 

From these various sources w T e discover a curious fact, which has 
hitherto remained unnoticed by historians — namely, that there existed an 
intermediate legislation between the official court of the count and his subor- 
dinates and the private courts, which was a kind of court of arbitration 
exercised by the neighbours (vicini) without the assistance of the judges of 


Fig 297 -The Emperor Charlemagne holding in one hand the Glohe and in the Cher the 
Sword-After a Miniature in the Registers of the University of Paris (Archives of the Minister 
of Public Instruction of the University,. The Motto, In »«/«« exargo, scelen, d,sa;mu,a purgo, 
is written on a Scroll round the Sword. 



the county, and tins was invested with a sort of authority which rendered 
its decisions binding. 

Private courts, however, were limited in their power. They were neither 
absolutely independent, nor supreme and without appeal. All conducted 
their business much in the same way as the high, middle, and lower courts 
of the Middle Ages ; and above all these authorities towered the King's 
jurisdiction. The usurpation of ecclesiastical bishops and abbots — who, 
having become temporal lords, assumed a domestic jurisdiction — was curtailed 
by the authority of the counts, and they were even more obliged to give 
way before that of the missi dominici, or the official delegates of the monarch. 
Charles the Bald, notwithstanding his enormous concessions to feudalism 
and to the Church, never gave up his right of final appeal. 

During the whole of the Merovingian epoch, the malil (malhts), the 
general and regular assembly of the nation, was held in the month of 
March. Persons of every class met there clad in armour ; political, com- 
mercial, and judicial interests were discussed under the presidency of the 
monarch ; but this did not prevent other special assemblies of the King's 
court (curia rcijalis) being held on urgent occasions. This court formed a 
parliament (parlamentum) , which at first was exclusively military, but from 
the time of Clovis was composed of Franks, Burgundians, Gallo-Eomans, as 
well as of feudal lords and ecclesiastics. As, by degrees, the feudal system 
became organized, the convocation of national assemblies became more 
necessary, and the administration of justice more complicated. Charlemagne 
decided that two mahk should be held annually, one in the month of May, the 
other in the autumn, and, in addition, that in each county two annual plaids 
should meet independently of any special mahls and plaids which it should 
please him to convoke. In 788, the emperor found it necessary to call three 
general plaids, and, besides these, he was pleased to summon his great vassals, 
buth clerical and lay, to the four principal feasts of the year. It may be 
asserted that the idea of royalty being the central authority in matters of 
common law dates from the reign of Charlemagne (Fig. 297). 

The authority of royalty based on law took such deep root from that 
time forth, that it maintained itself erect, notwithstanding the weakness 
of the successors of the great Charles, and the repeated infractions of it 
by the Church and the great vassals of the crown (Fig. 298). 

The authoritative and responsible action of a tribunal which represented 



society (Fig. 299) thus took the place of the unchecked animosity of private 
feuds and family quarrels, which were often avenged by the use of the gibbet, 
a monument to be found erected at almost every corner. Nut unfrequently, 

Fig. 298,-Carlovingian Kin- in his Palace personifying Wisdom appealing to the whole Human 
Race—After a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ninth Century in the Burgundian Library of 
Brussels, from a Drawing by Count Horace de Vielcastel. 

in those early times, the unchecked passions of a, chief of a party would be 
the only reason for inflicting a penalty ; often such a person would constitute 
himself sole judge, and, without the advice of any one, he would pass sentence, 



and even, with his own sword or any other available instrument, he would 
act as his own executioner. The tribunal thus formed denounced duelling-, 
the pitiless warfare between man and man, and between family and family, 
and its first care was to protect, not each individual man's life, which 
was impossible in those days of blind barbarism, but at least his dwelling. 
Imperceptibly, the sanctuary of a man's house extended, first to towns of 
refuge, and then to certain public places, such as the church, the mahlum, 
or place of national assemblies, the market, the tavern, &c. It was next 
required that the accused, whether guilty or not, should remain unharmed 
from the time of the crime being committed until the day on which judgment 
was passed. 

Fig. 299. — The Court of the Nobles. — Fac-simile of a Miniature iu an old Poetical Romance of 
Chivalry, Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

This right of revenge, besides being thus circumscribed as to locality, 
was also subject to certain rules as to time. Sunday and the principal feasts 
of the year, such as Advent, Christmas week, and from that time to the 
Epiphany, from the Ascension to the Day of Pentecost, certain vigils, &c, 
were all occasions upon which the right of revenge could not be exercised. 
" The power of the King," says a clever and learned writer, " partook to a 
certain degree of that of God and of the Saints ; it was his province to calm 
human passions ; by the moral power of his seal and his hand he extended 
peace over all the great lines of communication, through the forests, along 
the principal rivers, the highways and the byways, &c. The Treve de Bint 
in 1035, was the logical application of these humane principles." 



We must not suppose that justice in those days was dispensed without 
formalities, and that there were no regular intervals between the various steps 
to he gone through before final judgment Mas given, and in consequence of 
which some guarantee was afforded that the decisions arrived at were care- 
fully considered. No one was tried without having been previously sum- 
moned to appear before the tribunal. Under the Carlovingians, as in 
previous times, the periods when judicial courts were held were regulated by 
the moon. Preference was given to the day on which it entered the first 
quarter, or during the lull moon ; the summonses were returnable by moons 
or quarter moons — that is, every seventh day. The summons was issued 
four times, after which, if the accused did not appear, he lost the right of 
counterplea, or was nonsuited. The Salic law allowed but two summonses 
before a count, which had to be issued at an interval of forty nights the one 
from the other. The third, which summoned the accused before the Kins', 
was issued fourteen nights later, and if he had not. put in an appearance 
before sunset on the fourteenth day, he was placed lion tie sa parole, his goods 
were confiscated, and he forfeited the privilege of any kind of refuge. 

Among the Visigoths justice was equally absolute from the count to the 
tithe-gatherer. Each magistrate had his tribunal and his special juris- 
diction. These judges called to their assistance assessors or colleagues, 
either rachimbourgs, who were selected from freemen ; or provosts, or 
echerins (scabini), whose appointment was of an official and permanent 
character. The scabins created by Charlemagne were the first elected magis- 
trates. They numbered seven for each bench. They alone prepared the 
cases and arranged as to the sentence. The count or his delegate alone 
presided at the tribunal, and pronounced the judgment. Every vassal 
enjoyed the right of appeal to the sovereign, who, with his court, alone 
decided the quarrels between ecclesiastics and nobles, and between private 
individuals who were specially under the royal protection. Criminal 
business was specially referred to the sovereign, the mmi, or the 
Count Palatine. Final appeal lay with the Count Palatine in all cases 
in which the public peace was endangered, such as in revolts or in armed 

As early as the time of the invasion, the Franks, Bavarians, and 
Visigoths, when investigating cases, began by an inquiry, and, previously to 
having recourse to trials before a judge, they examined witnesses on oath. 

3S 2 


Then, he who swore to the matter was believed, and acquitted accordingly. 
This system was no doubt flattering to human veracity, but, unfortunately, 
it gave rise to abuses ; which it was thought would lie avoided by calling 
the family and friends of the accused to take an oath, and it was then 
administered by requiring them to place their hands on the crucifix, on 
some relics, or on the consecrated Host. These witnesses, who were called 
conjuratores, came to attest before the judges not the fact itself, but the 

Fig. 300. — The Judicial Liuel. The Plaintifl' opening his Case before the Judge. — Fac-simile of a 
Miniature in the " Ceremonies des Gages des Batailles," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, 
in the National Library of Paris. 

veracity of the person who invoked their testimony. The number and 
respectability of the conjuratores varied according to the importance of the 
case in dispute. Gregory of Tours relates, that King Gontran being 
suspicious as to the legitimacy of the child who afterwards became 
Clotaire II., his mother, Fredegonde, called in the impartial testimony of 
certain nobles. These, to the number of three hundred, with three bishops 
at their head (tribus episcojyis ft trecentis viris optimis), swore, or, as we say, 
made an affidavit, and the queen was declared innocent. 


35 5 

The laws of the Burgundians and of the Angliaus were more severe 
than those of the Germanic race, for they granted to the disputants trial by 
combat. After having employed the ordeal of red-hot iron, and of sealdino- 
water, the Franks adopted the judicial duel (Fig. .'!()()). This was imposed 
first upon the disputing parties, then on the witnesses, and sometimes even 
on the judges themselves. Dating from the reign of the Emperor Otho 
the Great in 967, the judicial duel, which had been at first restricted to the 
most serious cases, was had recourse to in almost all suits that were brought 
before the courts. Neither women, old men, children, nor infirm persons 
were exempted. When a person could not himself fight he had to provide a 

!!•' fW, ' 


301. — Judicial Duel. — Combat of a Knight with a Dog. — Fur-simile of a Miniature in tin 
Eomance of "Kacaire," of the Thirteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal of Paris). 

champion, whose sole business was to take in hand the quarrels of others. 
Ecclesiastics were obliged, in the same manner, to fight by deputy. The 
champion or substitute required, of course, to be paid beforehand. It the 
legend of the Dog of Montargis is to be believed, the judicial duel seems to 
have been resorted to even against an animal (Fig. 301). 

In the twelfth century Europe was divided, so to speak, into two vast 
judicial zones : the one, Southern, Gallo-ltoman, and Visigoth ; the other, 
Northern and Western, half Germanic and half Scandinavian, Anglian, or 
Saxon. Christianity established common ties between these different legisla- 
tions, and imperceptibly softened their native coarseness, although they 
retained the elements of their pagan and barbaric origin. Sentences were 
not as yet given in writing : they were entrusted to the memory of the 

7, / 


judges who hud issued them; and when a question or dispute arose between 
the interested parties as to the terms of the decision which had been pro- 
nounced, an inquiry was held, and the court issued a second decision, called 
a, recordation. 

As Ions as the King's court was a movable one, the King carried about 
with him the original text of the law in rolls (rotu/i). It was in consequence 
of the seizure of a. number of these by the English, during the reign of 
Philip Augustus in 1194, that the idea was suggested of preserving the text 
of all the laws as state archives, and of opening authentic registers of 
decisions in civil and criminal cases. As early as the time of Charles the 
1) dd, the inconvenience was felt of the high court of the count beino: 
movable from place to place, and having no special locality where instruc- 
tions might be given as to modes of procedure, for the hearing of witnesses, 
and for keeping the accused in custody, &c. A former statute provided for 
this probable difficulty, but there seems to be no proof that previous to the 
twelfth century any fixed courts of justice had been established. The 
Kings, and likewise the counts, held courts in the open air at the entrance 
to the palace (Fig. 302), or in some other public place — under a large tree, 
for instance, as St. Louis did in the wood of Yincemies. 

M. Desmaze, in his valuable researches on the history of the Parliament 
of Paris, says — " In 1191, Philip Augustus, before starting for Palestine, 
established bailiwicks, which held their assizes once a month ; during 1 their 
sitting they heard all those who had complaints to make, and gave summary 
judgment. The bailiffs' assize was held at stated periods from time to time, 
and at a fixed place ; it was composed of five judges, the King deciding the 
number and quality of the persons who were to take part in the deliberations 
of the court for each session. The royal court only sat when it pleased the 
King to order it ; it accompanied the King wherever he went, so that it had 
no settled place of residence." 

Louis IX. ordered that the courts of the nobles should be consolidated 
with the King's court, and succeeded in carrying out this reform. The bailiffs, 
who were the direct delegates of the sovereign power, assumed an authority 
before which even the feudal lord was obliged to bend, because this authority 
was supported by the people, who were at that time organized in corpora- 
tions, and these corporations were again bound together in communes. 
Under the bailiffs a system was developed, the principles of which more 


nearly resembled the Hum;,,, legislation than the right of custom, which it 
nevertheless respected, and the judicial trial by duel completely disappeared. 
Inquiries and appeals were much resorted (,» in all kinds ,,1' proceedings, ami 
Louis IX. succeeded in controlling the power of ecclesiastical courts^vhioh 
had been much abused in reference to excommunication. lie also sup- 
pressed the arbitrary and ruinous confiscations which the nobles had unjustly 
made on their vassals. The edict of l'„>76 very clearly established theiuriJ- 

Fig. 302.— The Palace as it was in the Sixteenth Century.— After an En-raving of that Period, 
National Library of Paris (( 'abinet des Estampes). 

diction of parliaments and bailiwicks; it defined the important duties of the 
bailiffs, and at the same time specified the mode in which proceedings should 
be taken; it also regulated the duties of counsel, maitrcs des requites, auditors, 
and advocates. 

To the bailiwicks already in existence Louis IX. added the four great 
assizes of Vercnandois, of Sens, of Saint-Pierre-le-iloustier, and of Macon, 
"to act as courts of final appeal from the judgment of the nobles.' Philippe 



lc Eel went still further, for, in 1287, he invited "all those who possess 
temporal authority in the kingdom of France to appoint, for the purpose of 
exercising civil jurisdiction, a bailiff, a provost, and some Serjeants, who 
were to be laymen, and not ecclesiastics, and if there should be ecclesiastics 
in the said offices, to remove them." He ordered, besides, that all those who 
had cases pending before the court of the King and the secular judges of the 
kingdom should be furnished with lay attorneys; though the chapters, as 
well as the abbeys and convents, were allowed to be represented by canons. 
M. Desmaze adds, "This really amounted to excluding ecclesiastics from 
judicial offices, not only from the courts of the King, but also from those of 
the nobles, and from every place in which any temporal jurisdiction 

At the time of his accession, Hugh Capet was Count of Paris, and as 
such was invested with judicial powers, which he resigned in 987, on the 
understanding that his county of Paris, after the decease of the male heirs of 
his brother Eudes, should return to the crown. In 1032, a new magistrate 
was created, called the Provost of Paris, whose duty it was to give assistance 
to the bourgeois in arresting persons for debt. This functionary combined in 
his own person the financial and political chief of the capital, he was also the 
head of the nobility of the county, he was independent of the governor, and 
was placed above the bailiffs and seneschals. He was the senior of the urban 
magistracy and police, leader of the municipal troops, and, in a word, the pre- 
fect (prcsfectus urlm), as he was called under the Emperor Aurelian, or the first 
magistrate of Eutetia, as he was still called under Clotaire in 663. Assessors 
were associated with the provost, and together they formed a tribunal, which 
was afterwards known as the Chatelet (Fig. 303), because they assembled in 
that fortress, the building of which is attributed to Julius Cassar. The func- 
tions of this tribunal did not differ much from those of the royal ch&telkmes : its 
jurisdiction embraced quarrels between individuals, assaults, revolts, disputes 
between the universities and the students, and improper conduct generally 
(ribaudailles), in consequence of which the provost acquired the popular sur- 
name of Hoi dps Ribands. At first his judgment was final, but very soon 
those under his jurisdiction were allowed to appeal to Parliament, and that 
court was obliged to have certain eases sent back for judgment from the 
Chatelet. This was, however, done only in a few very important instances, 
notwithstanding frequent appeals being made to its supreme arbitration. 


35 7 

In addition to the courts of the counts and bailiffs established in certain 
of the large towns, aldermanic or magisterial courts existed, which rather 
resembled the Chatelet of Paris. Thus the capitoithtf of Toulouse, the senior 
alderman of Metz, and the burgomaster of Strasburg and Brussels, possessed 

Fig. 303. — The Great Chatelet of Paris. — Principal Front opposite the Pont-aii-Change. — Fa 
simile of an Engraving on Copper by Merian, in the " Topographia Giillire " el' Zeller. 

in each of these towns a tribunal, which judged without appeal, and united 
the several functions of a civil, criminal, and simple police court. Several 
places in the north of France had provosts who held courts, whose duties were 
various, but who were principally charged with the maintenance of public- 
order, and with suppressing disputes and conflicts arising from the privileges 


granted to the trade corporations, whose importance, especially in Flanders, 
had much increased since the twelfth century. 

" On his return from ahroad, Louis IX. took his seat upon the bench, 
and administered justice, by the side of the good provost of Paris." This 
provost was no other than the learned Estienne Boileau, out of respect to 
whom the provostship was declared a charge de maghtrature. The increase of 
business which fell to the provost's office, especially after the boundaries of 
Paris were extended by Philip Augustus, caused him to be released from the 
duty of collecting the public taxes. He was authorised to furnish himself 
with competent assistants, who were employed with matters of minor detail, 
and he was allowed the assistance of juges aiuliteurs. " "We order that they 
shall be eight in number,'' says an edict of Philippe le Bel, of February, 
1324, " four of them being ecclesiastics and four laymen, and that they shall 
assemble at the Chatelet two days in the week, to take into consideration the 

suits and causes in concert with our provost " In 1343, the provost's 

court was composed of one King's attorney, one civil commissioner, two 
King's counsel, eight councillors, and one criminal commissioner, whose 
sittings took place daily at the Chatelet. 

From the year 1340 this tribunal had to adjudicate in reference to all the 
affairs of the university, and from the Gth of October, 1380, to all those of 
the salt -fish market, which were no less numerous, so that its importance 
increased considerably. Unfortunately, numerous abuses were introduced 
into this municipal jurisdiction. In 1313 and 1320, the officers of the 
Chatelet were suspended, on account of the extortions which they were 
guilty of, and the King ordered an inquiry to be made into the matter. The 
provost and two councillors of the Parliament sat upon it, and Philip de 
Valois, adopting its decisions, prescribed fresh statutes, which were naturally 
framed in such a way as to show the distrust in which the Chatelet was then 
held. To these the officers of the Chatelet promised on oath to submit. The 
ignorance and immorality of the lay officers, who had been substituted for 
the clerical, caused much disturbance. Parliament authorised two of its 
principal members to examine the officers of the Chatelet. Twenty years 
later, on the receipt of fresh complaints, Parliament decided that three 
qualified councillors, chosen from its own body, should proceed with the 
King's attorney to the Chatelet, so as to reform the abuses and infoimalities 
of that court. 



In the time of Philippe lo Bel there existed in reality but one Parlia- 
ment, and that was the King's Court. Its action was at once political, 

Fig. 304.— The King's Court, or Grand Council.- Facsimile of a miniature in the " (Jhruninues " 
of Froissart, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (formerly in the possession of Charles V.), in 
the Lihrary of the Ar.-enal, Paris. 

administrative, financial, and judicial, and was necessarily, therefore, of a 
most complicated character. Philippe le Bel made it exclusively a judicial 
court, defined the territorial limit of its power, and gave it as a judicial body 

3 I i 


privileges tending- to strengthen its independence and to raise its dignity. 
He assigned political functions to the Great Council (Conseil d' 'Mat) ; finan- 
cial matters to the chamber of accounts ; and the hearing of cases of heresy, 
wills, legacies, and dowries to the prelates. But in opposition to the wise 
edict of 1295, ho determined that Jews should he excluded from Parliament, 
and prelates from the palace of justice ; by which latter proceeding he was 
depriving justice of the abilities of the most worthy representatives of the 
Gallican Church. But Philippe le Bel and his successors, while incessantly 
quarrelling either with the aristocracy or with the clergy, wanted the great 
judicial bodies which issued the edicts, and the urban or municipal magis- 
trates — which, being subject to re-election, were principally recruited from 
among the bourgeois — to be a common centre of opposition to any attempt 
at usurpation of power, whether on the part of the Church, the nobility, or 
the crown. 

The Great Days of Troyes ((lies mag id Trccenses), the assizes of the 
ancient counts of Champagne, and the exchequer of Normandy, were also 
organized by Philippe le Bel ; and, further, he authorised the maintenance 
of a Parliament at Toulouse, a court which he solemnly opened in person on 
the 10th of January, 1302. In times of war the Parliament of Paris sut 
once a year, in times of peace twice. There were, according to circumstances, 
during the year two, three, or four sittings of the exchequer of Normandy, 
and two of the Great Days of Troyes, tribunals which were annexed to the 
Parliament of Paris, and generally presided over by one of its delegates, and 
sometimes even by the supreme head of that high court. At the King's council 
(Fig. 304) it was decided whether a case should be reserved for the Parliament 
of Paris, or passed on either to the exchequer or to the Great Days of Troyes. 

As that advanced reformer, Philippe le Bel, died before the institutions 
he had established had taken root, for many years, even down to the time of 
Louis XL, a continual conflict for supremacy was waged between the 
Parliament of Paris and the various courts of the kingdom — between the 
counts and the Parliament, and between the latter and the King, which, 
without lessening the dignity of the crown, gradually tended to increase the 
influence which the judges possessed. Immediately on the accession of 
Louis le Ilutin, in 1314, a reaction commenced — the higher clergy re-entered 
Parliament; but Philippe le Long took care that the laity should be in a 
majority, and did not allow that in his council of State the titled councillors 


should be more numerous than tho lawyers. The latter succeeded in com- 
pletely carrying the day on account of the services they rendered, and the 
influence which their knowledge of the laws of the country gave them. As 
for centuries the sword had ruled the gown, so, since the emancipation of 
the bourgeois, the lawyers had become masters of the administrative and 
judicial world ; and, notwithstanding the fact that they were still kept in a 
somewhat inferior position to the peers and barons, their opinion alone 
predominated, and their decision frequently at once settled the most 
important questions. 

An edict issued at Val Notre-Dame on the 11th of March, 1344, increased 
the number of members of Parliament, which from that time consisted of 
three presidents, fifteen clerical councillors, fifteen lay councillors, twenty - 
four clergymen and sixteen laymen of the Court of Inquiry, and five 
clergymen and sixteen laymen of the Court of Petitions. The King tilled up 
the vacant seats on the recommendation of the Chancellor and of the Parlia- 
ment. The reporters were enjoined to write the decisions and sentences 
which were given by the court " in large letters, and far apart, so that they 
might be more easily read." The duties of police in the courts, the keeping 
of the doors, and the internal arrangements generally for those attending the 
courts and the Parliament, were entrusted to the ushers, " who divided among 
themselves the gratuities which were given them by virtue of their office." 
Before an advocate was admitted to plead he was required to take oath and 
to be inscribed on the register. 

The Parliament as then established was somewhat similar in its character 
to that of the old national representative government under the Germans 
and Franks. For centuries it protected the King against the undue inter- 
ference of the spiritual power, it defended the people against despotism, but 
it often lacked independence and political wisdom, and it was not always 
remarkable for its correct appreciation of men and things. This tribunal, 
although supreme over all public affairs, sometimes wavered before the threats 
of a minister or of a court favourite, succumbed to the influence of intrigues, 
and adapted itself to the prejudices of the times. We see it, in moments of error 
and of blindness, both condemning eminent statesmen and leading citizens, 
such as Jacques Cceur and Kobertet, and handing over to tho executioner 
distinguished men of learning and science in advance of the times 111 which 
they lived, because they were falsely accused of witchcraft, and also doing 

3 A 


the same towards unfortunate maniacs who fancied they had dealings with 
the devil. 

Fig. 305.— Trial of the Constable de Bourbon before the Peers of France (1523).— From an 
Engraving in "La Monarchic Francoise" of Jlontfaucon. 

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries all the members of Parliament 
formed part of the council of State, which was divided into the Smaller Council 


and the Greater Council. The Greater Council only assembled in cases of 
urgency and for extraordinary and very important purposes, the Smaller 
Council assembled every month, and its decisions were registered. From tins 
arose the custom of making a similar registration in Parliament, confirmino- 
the decisions after they had been formally arrived at. The most ancient 
edict placed on the register of the Parliament of Paris dates from the year 
1334, and is of a very important character. It concerns a question of royal 
authority, and decides that in spiritual matters the right of supremacy does 
not belong more to the Pope than to the King. Consequently Philippe tie 
Valois ordered "his friends and vassals who shall attend the next Parliament 
and the keepers of the accounts, that for the perpetual record of so memorable 
a decision, it shall be registered in the Chambers of Parliament and kept 
for reference in the Treasury of the Charters." From that time " cases of 
complaint and other matters relating to benefices have no longer been dis- 
cussed before the ecclesiastical judges, but before Parliament or some other 
secular court." 

During the captivity of Xing John in England, royal authority having 
considerably declined, the powers of Parliament and other bodies of the 
magistracy so increased, that under Charles VI. the Parliament of Paris 
was bold enough to assert that a royal edict should not become law until 
it had been registered in Parliament. This bold and certainly novel 
proceeding the kings nevertheless did not altogether oppose, as they 
foresaw that the time would come when it might afford them the means 
of repudiating a treaty extorted from them under difficult circumstances 
(Fig. 306). 

The close connection which existed between the various Parliaments and 
their political functions — for they had occasion incessantly to interfere between 
the acts of the government and the respective pretensions of the provinces or 
of the three orders— naturally increased the importance of this supreme magis- 
tracy. More than once the kings had cause to repent having rendered it so 
powerful, and this was the case especially with the Parliament of Paris. In this 
difficulty it is interesting to note how the kings acted. They imperceptibly 
curtailed the various powers of the other courts of justice, they circumscribed 
the power of the Parliament of Paris, and proportionately enlarged the juris- 
diction of the great bailiwicks, as also that of the Chatelet. The provost of 
Paris was an auxiliary as well as a support to the royal power, which never- 


1'ig. 3011-Prunmlgation ot an Edict—Facsimile of a Miniature in " Anciennetes des Juris, 
(French Translation from Josephus), Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, executed for the 
Duke of Burgundy (Library of the Arsenal of Paris). 

theless held him in its grasp. The Chatelet was also a centre of action and 
of strength, which counteracted in certain cases parliamentary opposition. 



Thence arose the most implacable rivalries and dissensions between these 
various parties. 

It is curious to notice with what ingenuity and how readily Parliament 
took advantage of the most trifling circumstances or of charges based upon 
the very slightest grounds to summon the officers of the Chatelet before its 
baron suspicion of prevarication or of outrages against religion, morals, or 
the laws. Often were these officers and the provost himself summoned to 
appear and make amende honorable before the assembly, notwithstanding 
which they retained their offices. More than once an officer of the Chatelet 
was condemned to death and executed, but the King always annulled that part 
of the sentence which had reference to the confiscation of the goods of the 
condemned, thus proving that in reality the condemnation had been unjust, 
although for grave reasons the royal authority had been unable to save the 
victim from the avenging power of Parliament. Hugues Aubriot, the provost, 
was thus condemned to imprisonment for life on the most trivial grounds, 
and he would have undergone capital punishment if Charles V. had abandoned 
him at the time of his trial. During the English occupation, in the disastrous 
reign of Charles VI., the Chatelet of Paris, which took part with the people, 
gave proof of extraordinary energy and of great force of character. The 
blood of many of its members was shed on the scaffold, and this circumstance 
must ever remain a reproach to the judges and to those who executed their 
cruel sentences, and a lasting crown of glory to the martyrs themselves. 

An edict of King John, issued after his return from Loudon in 1363, a 
short time before his death, clearly defined the duties of Parliament. They 
were to try cases which concerned peers of France, and such jirelates, 
chapters, barons, corporations, and councils as had the privilege of appealing 
to the supreme court; and to hear cases relating to estates, and appeals 
from the provost of Paris, the bailiffs, seneschals, and other judges (Fig. 307). 
It disregarded minor matters, but took cognizance of all judicial debates 
which concerned religion, the King, or the State. "We must remark here 
that advocates were only allowed to speak twice in the same cause, and that 
they were subjected to fine, or at least to remonstrance, if they were tedious or 
indulged in needless repetition in their replies, and especially if they did not 
keep carefully to the facts of the case. After pleading they were permitted 
to give a summary in writing of " the principal points of importance as well 
as their clients' grounds of defence." Charles V. confirmed these orders and 




regulations with respect to advocates, and added others which were no less 
important, among which we find a provision for giving "legal assistance to 
poor and destitute persons who go to law." These regulations of Charles 
also limited the time in which officers of justice were to get through their 
business under a certain penalty ; they also proclaimed that the King should 
no longer hear minor causes, and that, whatever might be the rules of the 
court, they forbad the presidents from deferring their judgment or from 
retarding the regular course of justice. Charles VI., before he became insane, 
contributed no less than his father to the estabbshment on a better footing of 
the supreme court of the kingdom, as well as that of the Chatelet and the 

Fig. 307. — Bailiwick. — Fac-simile of a "Woodcut in the " Cosmogiaphie Uuiver.iella " of Minister : 

in folio, Basle, 1552. 

In the fifteenth century, the Parliament of Paris was so organized as not 
to require material change till 1789. There were noble, clerical, and lay 
councillors, honorary members, and maitres de requite, only four of whom 
sat ; a first president, who was supreme head of the Parliament, a master of 
the great chamber of pleas, and three presidents of the chamber, all of whom 
were nominated for life. There were fifteen masters (maistres) or clerical 
councillors, and fifteen who were laymen, and these were annually approved 
by the King on the opening of the session. An attorney- general, several 
advocates-general, and deputies, who formed a committee or college, consti- 
tuted the active part of this court, round which were grouped consulting 


advocates (consiliarii), pleading advocates (proponcutcs), advocates who were 
mere listeners (audientes), ushers and Serjeants, whose chief, on his appoint- 
ment, became a member of the nobility. 

The official costume of the first president resembled that of the ancient 
barons and knights. He wore a scarlet gown lined with ermine, and a black 
silk cap ornamented with tassels. In winter he wore a scarlet mantle lined 
with ermine over his gown, on which his crest was worked on a shield. This 
mantle was fastened to the left shoulder by three gold cords, in order to leave 
the sword-side free, because the ancient knights and barons always sat in 
court wearing their swords. Amongst the archives of the mayoralty of 
London, we find in the " account of the entry of Henry V., King of England, 
into Paris'' (on the 1st of December, 14-0), that " the first president was in 
royal dress (estoit en habit ruin!), the first usher preceding him, and wearing 
a fur cap; the church dignitaries wore blue robes and hoods, and all the 
others in the procession scarlet robes and hoods." This imposing dress, in 
perfect harmony with the dignity of the office of those who wore them, 
degenerated towards the fifteenth century. 80 much was this the case, that 
an order of Francis I. forbad the judges from wearing pink "slashed hose" 
or other " rakish garments." 

In the early times of monarchy, the judicial functions were performed 
gratuitously; but it was the custom to give presents to (lie judges, consisting 
of sweetmeats, spices, sugar-plums, and preserves, until at a subsequent 
period, 1498, when, as the judges " preferred money to sweetmeats," says the 
Chancellor Etienne Pasquier, the money value of the spices, &c, was fixed 
by law and made compulsory. In the bills of expenses preserved among the 
national archives, we find that the first president of the Parliament of Paris 
received a thousand livres parisU annually, representing upwards of one hun- 
dred thousand francs at the present rate of money ; the three presidents of 
the chamber five hundred livres, equal to fifty thousand francs; and the other 
nobles of the said Parliament five sols parisis, or six sols three doniers — about 
twenty-five francs — per day for the days only on which they sat. They 
received, besides, two mantles annually. The prelates, princes, and barons 
who were chosen by the King received no salaries — i/s lie prennent mils 
ymiges (law of 27th January, 1807). The seneschals and high bailiffs, like 
the presidents of the chambers, received five hundred livres — fifty thousand 
francs. They and the bailiffs of inferior rank were expressly forbidden from 


receiving money or fees from the parties in any suit, but they were allowed 
to accept on one day refreshment and bottles of wine. The salaries were paid 
monthly ; but this was not always done regularly ; sometimes the King was 
to blame for this, and sometimes it was owing to the ill-nature of the chiefs 
of finance, or of the receivers and payers. "When the blame rested with the 
King, the Parliament humbly remonstrated or closed the court. When, on the 
contrary, an officer of finance did not pay the salaries, Parliament sent him the 
bailiff's usher, and put him under certain penalties until he had done so. The 
question of salaries was frequently arising. On the 9th of February, 1369, 
" the court having been requested to serve without any remuneration for one 
Parliament, on the understanding that the King would make up for it another 
time, the nobles of the court replied, after private deliberation, that they 
were ready to do the King's pleasure, but could not do so properly without 
receiving their salaries " (Eegister of the Parliament of Paris). 

At the commencement of the fifteenth century, the scale of remuneration 
was not increased. In 1411 it was raised for the whole Parliament to twenty- 
five thousand livres, which, calculated according to the present rate, amounted 
to nearly a million francs. In consequence of financial difficulties and the 
general distress, the unpleasant question in reference to claims for payment 
of salaries was renewed, with threats that the course of justice would be 
interrupted if they were not paid or not promised. On the 2nd of October, 
1119, two councillors and one usher were sent to the house of one of the 
chiefs of finance, with orders to demand payment of the salaries of the 
court. In October, 1130, the government owed the magistrates two years 
of arrears. After useless appeals to the Regent, and to the Bishop of 
Therouanne, the then Chancellor of France, the Parliament sent two of its 
members to the King at Rouen, who obtained, after much difficult)^ " one 
month's pay, on the understanding that the Parliament should hold its 
sittings in the month of April." In the month of July, 1131, there was 
another deputation to the King, "in order to lay before him the necessities of 
the court, and that it had for some time been prorogued, and was still pro- 
rogued, on account of the non-payment of salaries." After two mouths of 
repeated remonstrance, the deputies only bringing back promises, the court 
assumed a menacing aspect ; and on the 11th of January, 1437, it pointed 
out to the chancellor the evil which would arise if Parliament ceased to hold 
its sittings ; and this time the chancellor announced that the salaries would 


be paid, though six months passed without any result or any practical step 
being taken in the matter. This state of affairs grew worse until the 
year 1443, when the King was obliged to plead with the Parliament in 
the character of an insolvent debtor, and, in order to obtain remission of 
part of his debt to the members, to guarantee to them a part of the salt 

Charles VII., after having reconquered his states, hastened to restore order. 
He first occupied himself with the system of justice, the Parliament, the 
Chatelet, and the bailiwicks ; and in April, 1453, in concert with the princes, 
the prelates, the council of State, the judges, and others in authority, he 
framed a general law, in one hundred and twenty-five articles, which was 
considered as the great charter of Parliament (Fig. 308). According to the 
terms of these articles, *' the councillors are to sit after dinner, to get through 
the minor causes. Prisoners are to lie examined without delay, and to hold 
no communication with any one, unless by special permission. The cases are 
to be carefully gone through in their proper order; for courts are instructed 
to do justice as promptly for the poor as for the rich, as it is a greater hard- 
ship fur the poor to be kept waiting than the rich." The fees of attorneys 
were taxed and reduced in amount. Those of advocates were reduced 
" to such moderation and fairness, that there should lie no cause for com- 
plaint." The judgments by commissary were forbidden. The bailiffs and 
seneschals were directed to reside within their districts. The councillors 
were ordered to abstain from all communication with the parties in private, 
and consultations between themselves were to be held in secret. The judg- 
ments given in law-suits were inscribed in a register, and submitted every 
two months to the presidents, who, if necessary, called the reporters to account 
for any neglect of duty. The reporter was ordered to draw attention to any 
point of difficulty arising in a. suit, and the execution of sentences or judg- 
ments was entrusted to the ushers of the court. 

In 1454 the King, in consequence of a difficulty in paying the regular 
instalments of the usual salaries of the Parliament, created "after-dinner 
fees" (den gages d'aprh diiiees) of five sols parisis — more than ten francs 
of our money— per day, payable to those councillors who should hold a 
second hearing. Matters did not improve much, however ; nothing seemed 
to proceed satisfactorily, and members of Parliament, deprived of their 
salaries, were compelled to contract a loan, in order to commence pro- 



ceedings against the treasury for the non-payment of the amount due to 
them. In 1493, the annual salaries of Parliament were raised to the sum of 
40,(>30 livrcs, equal to about 1,100,000 francs. The first president received 

-Fig. 308. — Supreme (Joint, presided over by the King, who is in the act of issuing a Decree which 
is heing registered by the Usher. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in Gama'ieu of the " Information 
des Rois," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

4 livres, '22 sols parisis — about 140 francs — per day ; a clerical councillor 
25 sols parisis — about 40 francs — and a lay councillor 20 sols— about 
32 francs. This was an increase of a fifth on the preceding year. 
Charles YITL, in thus improving the remuneration of the members of the 


first court of the kingdom, reminded them of their duties, which had been too 
long neglected ; he told them " that of all the cardinal virtues justice was the 
most noble and most important ;" and he pointed out to them the line o r 
conduct they were to pursue. The councillors were to be present daily in 
their respective chambers, from St. Martin's day to Easter, before seven 
o'clock in the morning; and from Easter to the closing of Parliament, 
immediately after six o'clock, without intermission, under penalty of punish- 
ment. Strict silence was enforced upon them during the debates; and 
they were forbidden to occupy themselves with anything which did not 
concern the case under discussion. Amidst a mass of other points upon 
which directions are given, we notice the following : the necessity of keeping 
secret the matters in course of deliberation ; the prohibition to councillors 
from receiving, either directly or indirectly, anything in the shape of a 
douceur from the parties in any suit ; and the forbidding all attorneys from 
receiving any bribe or claiming more than the actual expenses of a journey 
and other just charges. 

The great charter of the Parliament, promulgated in April, 1453, was 
thus amended, confirmed, and completed, by this code of Charles VHP, with 
a wisdom which cannot lie too highly extolled. 

The magistrature of the supreme courts had been less favoured during 
the preceding reign. Louis XP, that cautious and crafty reformer, after 
having forbidden ecclesiastical judges to examine cases referring to the 
revenues of vacant benefices, remodelled the secular courts, but he ruthlessly 
destroyed anything which offended him personally. For this reason, as he 
himself said, he limited the power of the Parliaments of Paris and Toulouse, 
by establishing, to their prejudice, several other courts of justice, and by 
favouring the Chatelet, where lie was sure always to find those who would 
act with him against the aristocracy. The Parliament would not give way 
willingly, nor without the most determined opposition. It was obliged, how- 
ever, at last to succumb, and to pass certain edicts which were most 
repugnant to it. On the death of Louis XP, however, it took its revenge, 
and called those who had been his favourites and principal agents to answer 
a criminal charge, for no other reason than that they had exposed themselves 
to the resentment of the supreme court. 

The Chatelet, in its judicial functions, was inferior to the Parliament, 
nevertheless it acquired, through its provost, who represented the bourgeois 



of Paris, considerable importance in the eyes of the supreme court. In 
fact, for two centuries the provost held the privilege of ruling the capital, 
Loth politically and financially, of commanding the citizen militia, and 
of being chief magistrate of the city. In the court of audiences, a canopy 
was erected, under which he sat, a distinction which no other magis- 
trate enjoyed, and which appears to have been exclusively granted to him 
because he sat in the place of Monsieur Saint Loi/s (Saint Louis), dispensing 
■iustice to the good people of the City of Paris. When the provost was 
installed, he was solemnly escorted, wearing his cap, to the great chamber 

Fig. 309. — The Court of a Baron. — Fac-similo of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie TJniversellc " 

of Munater : in folio, Baale, 1552. , 

of Parliament, accompanied by four councillors. After the ceremony of 
installation he gave his horse to the president, who had come to receive 
him. His dress consisted of a short robe, with mantle, collar turned 
down, sword, and hat with feathers ; he also carried a staff of office, pro- 
fusely ornamented with silver. Thus attired ho attended Parliament, and 
assisted at the levees of the sovereign, where he took up his position on 
the lowest step of the throne, below the great chamberlain. Every day, 
excepting at the vintage time, he was required to be present at the Chatelct, 
either personally or by deputy, punctually at nine in the morning. There 
he received the list of the prisoners who had been arrested the day before ; 


after that he visited the prisons, settled business of various kinds, and then 
inspected the town. His jurisdiction extended to several courts, which were 
presided over by eight deputies or judges appointed by him, and who were 

Kg. 310— Serjeants-at-Arms of the Fourteenth ( lentury, carved in Stone—From the Church ot 
St. Catherine du Val des Ecoliers, in Paris. 

created officers of the Chatelet by Louis XII. in 1498. Subsequently, these 
received their appointments direct from the King-. Two auditing judges, 
one king's attorney, one registrar, and some bailiffs, completed the provost's 



The bailiff's at the Obltclet were divided into five classes : the king's 
sergeant- at-arms, the sergeants de la douzaine, the sergeants of the mace, or foot 
.sergeants, the sergeants fieffe's, and the mounted sergeants. The establishment 
cf these officers dated from the beginning of the fourteenth century, and 
they were originally appointed by the provost, but afterwards by the King 
himself. The King's sergeants-at-arms (Fig. 310) formed his body-guard ; 
they were not under the jurisdiction of the high constable, but of the 
ordinary judges, which proves that they were in civil employ. The ser- 
geants de la doiizii/nc were twelve in number, as their name implies, all of 
whom were in the service of the provost ; the foot sergeants, who were 
civilians, were gradually increased to the number of two hundred and twentv 
as early as the middle of the fifteenth century. They acted only in the 
interior of the capital, and guarded the city, the suburbs, and the surround- 
ing districts, whereas the mounted sergeants had " to watch over the safety 
of the rural parishes, and to act throughout the whole extent of the provost's 
jurisdiction, and of that of the viscount of Paris." 

In the midst of the changes of the Middle Ages, especially after the 
communes became free, all those kings who felt the importance of a strict 
system of justice, particularly St. Louis, Philippe le Bel, and Charles VIII., 
had seen the necessity of compiling a record of local customs. An edict of 
1453 orders that "the custom shall be registered in writing, so as to be 
examined by the members of the great council of the Parliament." Never- 
theless, this important work was never properly carried out, and to Louis XII. 
is due the honour of introducing a customary or usage law, and at the same 
time of correcting the various modes of procedure, upon which customs and 
usages had been based, and which had become singularly antiquated since 
the edict of 1302. 

No monarch showed more favour to Parliament than Louis XII. During 
his reign of seventeen years we never find complaints from the magistracy 
for not having been paid punctually. Put in contrast with this, on the 
accession of Francis I., the court complained of not having been paid its first 
quarter's salary. From that moment claims were perpetually being made ; 
there were continually delays, or absolute refusals ; the members were ex- 
pecting " remuneration for their services, in order absolutely to enable thern 
to support their families and households." We can thus judge of the state 
of the various minor courts, which, being less powerful than the supreme 



Fig. 311. — Inferior Court in the Great Bailiwick. Adoption of Orphan Children. — Fac-simile of 
a Woodcut in J. Damhoudere'a "Refuge et Garand des Pupilles, Orphelins :" Antwerp, 
J. Bellere, 1557. 

tribunals, and especially than that of Paris, were quite unable to get their 
murmurings even listened to by the proper authorities. This sad state of 
things continued, and, in fact, grew worse, until the assembly of the League, 


when Mayenne, the chief of the leaguers, in order to gratify the Parliament, 
promised to double the salaries, although he was unable to fulfil his promise. 

Towards the end of the sixteenth century the highest French tribunal 
was represented by nine superior courts — namely, the Parliament of Bor- 
deaux, created on the 9th of June, 1642 ; the Parliament of Brittany, which 
replaced the ancient Grands- Jours, in March, 1553, and sat alternately at 
Nantes and at Rennes ; the Parliament of the Dauphin e, established at Grenoble 
in 1451 to replace the Delphinal Council; the Parliament of Burgundy, 
established at Dijon in 1477, which took the place of the Grands- Jours at 
Beaune; the movable Parliament of Dombes, created in 1528, and consist- 
ing at the same time of a court of excise and a chamber of accounts ; the 
Parliament of Normandy, established by Louis XII. in April, 1504, intended 
to replace the Exchequer of Rouen, and the ancient ducal council of the 
province ; the Parliament of Provence, founded at Aix in July, 1501 ; the 
Parliament of Toulouse, created in 1301 ; and the Parliament of Paris, 
which took precedence of all the others, both on account of its origin, its 
antiquity, the extent of its jurisdiction, the number of its prerogatives, and 
the importance of its decrees. In 1551, Henry II. created, besides these, an 
inferior court in each bailiwick, the duties of which were to hear, on appeal, 
all matters in which sums of less than two hundred livres were involved 
(Fig. 311). There existed, besides, a branch of the Grands- Jours, occasion- 
ally sitting at Poitiers, Bayeux, and at some other central towns, in order to 
suppress the excesses which at times arose from religious dissensions and 
political controversy. 

The Parliament of Paris — or Great French Parliament, as it was called by 
Philip Y. and Charles V., in edicts of the 17th of November, 1318, and of the 
8th of October, 1371 — was divided into four principal chambers : the Grand 
Chamber, the Chamber of Inquiry, the Criminal Chamber, and the Chamber 
of Appeal. It was composed of ordinary councillors, both clerical and lay ; of 
honorary councillors, some of whom were ecclesiastics, and others members of 
the nobility ; of masters of inquiry ; and of a considerable number of officers 
of all ranks (Figs. 312 to 314). It. had at times as many as twenty-four pre- 
sidents, one hundred and eighty-two councillors, four knights of honour, four 
masters of records ; a piiblic prosecutor's office was also attached, consisting of 
the king's counsel, an attorney-general and deputies, thus forming an assembly 
of from fifteen to twenty persons, called a colleeje. Amongst the inferior officers 


we may mention twenty-six ushers, four receivers-general of trust money, 
three commissioners tor the receipt of goods which had been seized under 
distress, one treasurer and paymaster, three controllers, one physician, two 
surgeons, two apothecaries, one matron, one receiver of lines, one inspector of 
estates, several keepers of refreshment establishments, who resided within the 

Fig. 312.— Judge.— From a Drawing in '• Proverues, Adages, &c.," Manuscript of the Fifteenth 
Century, in the Imperial Library of Paris. 

or five hundred advocates, 
Down to the 

precincts of the palace, sixty or eighty notaries, lour o 
two hundred attorneys, besides registers and deputy registers. 
reign of Charles VI. (1380—1422) members of Parliament held their appoint- 
ment by commissions granted by the King, and renewed each session. From 
Charles VI. to Francis I. these appointments became royal charges; but 
from that time, owing to the office being so often prostituted for reward, it 
got more and more into disrepute. 

57 s 


Louis XL made the office of member of the Parliament of Paris a per- 
manent one, and Francis I. continued this privilege. In 1580 the supreme 
magistracy poured 140,000,000 francs, which now would be worth fifteen or 
twenty times as much, into the State treasury, so as to enable members to 
sit permanently sur les fleurs cle lis, and to obtain hereditary privileges. The 
hereditary transmission of office from father to son dealt a heavy blow at 

'Sf 85 " 1 *^ 

Fig. 313.— Lawyer.— From the " Ilanse dea Pig. 314.— Barrister.— From a Woodcut in the 
Morts " of Basle, engraved by Herian : in 4to, « Banse Macabre :" Guyot's edition, 1490. 

Frankfort, 1596. 

the popularity of the parliamentary body, which had already deeply suffered 
through shameful abuses, the enormity of the fees, the ignorance of some 
of the members, and the dissolute habits of many others. 

The Chatelet, on the contrary, was less involved in intrigue, less occupied 
with politics, and was daily engaged in adjudicating in cases of litiga- 
tion, and thus it rendered innumerable services in promoting the public 



Fig. 315.— Assembly of the Provostship of the Merchants of Paris.— Fae-simile of a Woodcut in 
" Ordonnances Royaux de la Jurisdiction de la Prevote des Marchands et Eschevinage de la Ville 
de Paris:" in small folio, goth. edition of Paris, Jacques Nyveid, 1528. 

welfare, and maintained, and even increased, the respect which it had 
enjoyed from the commencement of its existence. In 1408, Louis XII. 
required that the provost should possess the title of doctor in vtroqw jure, 


and that his officers, whom he made to hold their appointments for life 
should be chosen from amongst the most distinguished counsellors at law. 
This excellent arrangement bore its fruits. As early as 1510, the " Usages 
of the City, Trovosty, and Viscounty of Paris," were published in cvtenso 
and were then received with much ceremony at a solemn audience held on 
the Nth of March in the episcopal palace, and were deposited amono- the 
archives of the Chatelet (Fig. 315). 

The Parliament held a very different line of policy from that adopted by 
the Chatelet, which only took a political part in the religious troubles of 
Protestantism and the League with a view to serve and defend the cause of 
the people. In spite of its fits of personal animosity, and its rebellious freaks, 
Parliament remained almost invariably attached to the side of the Kino- and 
the court. It always leaned to the absolute maintenance of things as they 
were, instead of following progress and changes which time necessitated. It 
was for severe measures, for intimidation more than for gentleness and 
toleration, and it yielded sooner or later to the injunctions and admonitions 
of the King, although, at the same time, it often disapproved the acts which 
it was asked to sanction. 

Fig. 316.— Seal of King Chilperic, found in his Tomb at Tournay in 1651. 


The Old Man of the Mountain una his Followers in Syria. — The Castle of Alamond, Paradise of 

Assassins. — Charlemagne the Founder of Seeret Tribunals amongst the .Saxons. The Holy 

Vehme. — Organization of the Tribunal of the Terre Jinnr/e, and .Modes adopted in its Pro- 
cedures.— 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 Cede and Seeret Decisions. — hind of the Council of Ten. 

ITJXG the Middle Ages, human life 
was generally held in small respect ; 
various judicial institutions — if not 
altogether secret, at least more or 
less enveloped in mystery — were re- 
markable for being founded on the 
monstrous right of issuing the most 
severe sentences with closed doors, 
and of executing these sentences with 
inflexible rigour on individuals who 
had not been allowed the slightest 
chance of defending themselves. 

While passing judgment in seeret, they often openly dealt blows as 
unexpected and terrible as they were fatal. Therefore, the most innocent 
and the most daring trembled at the very name of the Free Judges of the 
Terre-Rouge, an institution which adopted Westphalia as the special, or rather 
as the central, region of its authority ; the Council of Ten exercised their power 
in Venice and the states of the republic ; and the Assassins of Syria, in the 
time of St. Louis, made more than one invasion into Christian Europe. V\ e 
must nevertheless acknowledge that, terrible as these mysterious institutions 
were, the general credulity, the gross ignorance of the masses, and the love of 
the marvellous, helped not a little to render them even more outrageous and 
alarming than they really were. 


Marco Polo, the celebrated Venetian traveller of the thirteenth century, 
says, " We will speak of the Old Man of the Mountain. This prince was 
named Alaodin. He had a lovely garden full of all manner of trees and 
fruits, in a beautiful valley, surrounded by high hills ; and all round these 
plantations were various palaces and pavilions, decorated with works of art 
in gold, with paintings, and with furniture of silk. Therein were to be seen 
rivulets of wine, as well as milk, honey, and gentle streams of limpid water. 
He had placed therein damsels of transcendent beauty and endowed with 
great charms, who were taught to sing and to play all manner of instru- 
ments ; the}' were dressed in silk and gold, and continually walked in these 
gardens and palaces. The reasons for which the Old Man had these palaces 
built were the following. Mahomet having said that those who should obey 
his will should go to paradise, and there find all kinds of luxuries, this prince 
wished it to be believed that he was the prophet and companion of Mahomet, 
and that he had the power of sending whom he chose to paradise. No one 
could succeed in entering the garden, because an impregnable castle had 
been built at the entrance of the valley, and it could only be approached bv 
a covered and secret way. The ( )ld Man had in his court some young men 
from ten to twenty years of age, chosen from those inhabitants of the hills 
who seemed to him capable of bearing arms, and who were bold and 
courageous. From time to time he administered a certain drink to ten or 
twelve of those young men, which sent them to sleep, and when they were 
in deep stupor, he had them carried into the garden. "When they awoke, 
they saw all wo have described : they were surrounded by the young damsels, 
w-ho sang, played instruments together, caressed them, played all sorts of 
games, and presented them with the most exquisite wines and meats (Fig. 
317). 80 that these young men, satiated with such pleasures, did not doubt 
that they were in paradise, and would willingly have never gone out of it 

" At the end of four or five days, the Old Man sent them to sleep again, 
and had them removed from the garden in the same way in which they had 
been brought in. He then called them before him, and asked them where 
they had been. 'By your grace, lord,' they answered, 'we have been in 
paradise.' And then they related, in the presence of everybody, what they 
had seen there. This tale excited the astonishment of all those who heard 
it, and the desire that they might le equally fortunate. The Old Man would 

SEC 'REE '1 'RIB I A \ 1 1. S. 


then formally announced to those who were present, as follows: 'Thus saith 
the law of our prophet, lie causes all who fight for their Lord to enter into 
paradise; if you obey me you shall enjoy that happiness.' By such words 
aud plans this prince had so accustomed them to believe in him, that ho 
whom he ordered to die for his service considered himself lucky. All the 
nobles or other enemies of the Old Man of the Mountain were put to death 
by the assassins in his service ; for none of them feared death, provided 
he complied with the orders and wishes of his lord. However powerful a 

- mm 


Fig. 317. — The Castle of Alamond and its Enchantments. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in " Marci 
Polo's Travels," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

man might be, therefore, if he was an enemy of the Old Man's, he was sure 
to meet with an untimely end." 

In his story, which wc translate literally from the original, written in 
ancient French, the venerable traveller attributes the origin of this singular 
system of exercising power over the minds of person.s to a prince who in 
reality did but keep up a tradition of his family; for the Alaodin herein 
mentioned is no other than a successor of the famous Hassan, son of All, 
who, in the middle of the eleventh century, took advantage of the wars 
which devastated Asia to create himself a kingdom, comprising the three 


provinces of Turkistan, Djebel, and .Syria. Hassan had embraced the doctrine 
of the Ishniaelian sect, who pretended to explain allegorically all the precepts 
of the Mahometan religion, and who did away with public worship, and 
originated a creed which was altogether philosophical. Ho made himself the 
chief exponent of this doctrine, which, by its very simplicity, was sure to 
attract to him many people of simple and sincere minds. Attacked by the 
troops of the Sultan Sindgar, he defended himself vigorously and not unsuc- 
cessfully ; but, fearing lest he should fall in an unequal and protracted struggle 
against an adversary more powerful than himself, he had recourse to cunning 
so as to obtain peace. He entranced, or fascinated probably, by means 
analogous to those related by Marco Polo, a slave, who had the daring, during 
Sindgar's sleep, to stick a sharp dagger in the ground by the side of the 
Sultan's head. On waking, Sindgar was much alarmed. A few days after, 
Hassan wrote to him, " If one had not good intentions towards the Sultan, 
one might have driven the dagger, which was stuck in the earth by his head, 
into his bosom." The Sultan Sindgar then made peace with the chief of the 
Ishmaelians, whose dynasty lasted for one hundred and seventy years. 

The Castle of Alamond, built on the confines of Persia, on the top of a 
hia-h mountain surrounded with trees, after having: been the usual residence 
of Hassan, became that of his successors. As in the native language the 
same word means both prince and old man, the Crusaders who had heard the 
word pronounced confounded the two, and gave the name of Old Man of the 
Mountain to the Ishniaelian prince at that time inhabiting the Castle of 
Alamond, a name which has remained famous in history since the period 
when the Sire de Joinville published his " Memoires." 

Ancient authors call the subjects of Hassan, Haschichini, Heismsini, 
Assissini, Assassini, various forms of the same expression, which, in fact, 
has passed into French with a signification which recalls the sanguinary 
exploits of the Ishmaelians. In seeking for the etymology of this name, one 
must suppose that Haschichini is the Latin transformation of the Arabic 
word Hacb3 r chy, the name of the sect of which we are speaking, because 
the ecstacies during wdiich they believed themselves removed to paradise 
were produced by means of haschisch or haschischa. We know that this 
inebriating preparation, extracted from hemp, really produces the most 
strange and delicious hallucinations on those who use it. All travellers who 
have visited the East agree in saying that its effects are very superior to 



those of opium. We evidently must attribute to some ecstatic vision the 
supposed existence of the enchanted gardens, which Marco Polo described 
from popular tales, and which, of course, never existed but in the imagina- 
tion of the young men, who were either mentally excited alter fasting and 
prayer, or intoxicated by the haschischa, and consequently for a time lulled 
in dreams of celestial bliss which they imagined awaited them under the 
guidance of Hassan and his descendants. 

Fig. 318. — The Old Man of the Mountain giving Orders to his Followers. — Fae-simile of a 
Miniature in the " Travels of Marco Polo," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Library of 
the Arsenal of Paris). 

The Haschischini, whom certain contemporary historians describe to us as 
infatuated by the hope of some future boundless felicity, owe their melan- 
choly celebrity solely to the blind obedience with which they executed the 
orders of their chiefs, and to the coolness with which they sought the 
favourable moment for fulfilling their sanguinary missions (Fig. 318). The 
Old Man of the Mountain (the master of daggers, magister cultellorum, as he is 
also called by the chronicler Jacques de Vintry), was almost continually at 
war with the Mussulman princes who reigned from the hanks of the Nile 
to the borders of the Caspian Sea. He continually opposed them with the 

3 n 



steel of his fanatical emissaries ; at times, also, making a traffic and mer- 
chandise of murder, he treated for a money payment with the sultans or 
emirs, who were desirous of ridding themselves of an enemy. The Ishmaelians 
thus put to death a number of princes and Mahometan nobles ; but, at the 
time of the Crusades, religious zeal having incited them against the 
Christians, they found more than one notable victim in the ranks of the 
Crusaders. Conrad, Marquis of Montferrat, was assassinated by them ; the 
great Salah-Eddin (Saladin) himself narrowly escaped them ; Pilchard Cosur 
de Lion and Philip Augustus were pointed out to the assassins by the Old 
Man, who subsequently, on hearing of the immense preparations which 
Louis IX. was making for the Hol} r War, had the daring to send two of his 
followers to France, and even into Paris, with orders to kill that monarch in 
the midst of his court. This king, after having again escaped, during his 
sojourn in Palestine, from the murderous attempts of the savage messengers 
of the Prince of Alamond, succeeded, by his courage, his firmness, and his 
irtues, in inspiring these fanatics with so much respect, that their chief, 
looking upon him as protected by heaven, asked for his friendship, and 
offered him presents, amongst which was a magnificent set of chessmen, in 
crystal, ornamented with gold and amber. 

The successors of Hassan, simultaneously attacked by the Moguls under 
Houlayon, and by the Egyptians commanded by the Sultan Bibars, were con- 
quered and dispossessed of their States towards the middle of the thirteenth 
century ; but, long after, the Ishmaelians, either because their chiefs sought to 
recover their power, or because they had placed their daggers at the disposal 
of some foreign foe, continued notorious in histoiy. At last the sect became 
extinct, or, at least, retired into obscurity, and renounced its murderous 
profession, which had for so long made its members such objects of terror. 

We have thus seen how a legion of fanatics in the East made themselves 
the blind and formidable tools of a religious and political chieftain, who was no 
less ambitious than revengeful. If we now turn our attention to Germany, 
we shall here find, almost at the same period, a local institution which, 
although very different from the sanguinary court of the Old Man of the 
Mountain, was of an equally terrible and mysterious character. We must 
not, however, look at it from the same point of view, for, having been 
founded with the object of furthering and defending the establishment of a 
regular social state, which had been approved and sanctioned by the sove- 



reigns, and recognised by the Church, it at times rendered great service to 
the cause of justice and humanity at a period when might usurped right, 
and when the excesses and the crimes of shameless evil-doers, and of petty 
tyrants, entrenched in their impregnable strongholds, were but too often 
made lawful from the simple fact that there was no power to oppose them. 

The secret tribunal of Westphalia, which held its sittings and passed 
sentence in private, and which carried out its decrees on the spot, and 


\ e^Vy^ -^3 ^-^"^^M^V""^'"" 


X ip| 


\\ 7V\*^ 




Sili/V^ 6sd f J l sf\. tl \iJ 







Figs. 319 and 320.— Hermensul or Irmensul and Crodon, Idols of the Ancient Saxons.— Fac-simile 
of a Woodcut in the " Annalea Circuli Westphalise," by Herman Stangefol : in 4to, 1656.— The 
Idol Hermensul appears to have presided over Executive Justice, the attributes of which it holds 
in its hands. 

whose rules, laws, and actions were enveloped in deep mystery, must 
unquestionably be looked upon as one of the most remarkable institutions 
of the Middle Ages. 

It would be difficult to state exactly at what period this formidable 
institution was established. A few writers, and amongst these Sebastian 
Mnnster, wish us to believe that it was founded by Charlemagne himself. 
They affirm that this monarch, having subjugated the Saxons to his sway, 



and havino- forced them to be baptized, created a secret tribunal, the duties 
of which were to watch over them, in order that they might not return to 
the errors of Paganism. However, the Saxons were incorrigible, and, 
althouoh Christians, they still carried on the worship of their idoh 
(Fio-s. 319 and 320) ; and, for this reason, it is said by these authorities 
that the laws of the tribunal of Westphalia were founded by Charlemagne. 
It is well known that from the ninth to the thirteenth century, all that 
part of Germany between the Rhine and the Weser suffered under the most 
complete anarchy. In consequence of this, and of the increase of crime 
which remained unpunished, energetic men established a rigorous juris- 
diction, which, to a certain extent, suppressed these barbarous disorders, 
and oave some assurance to social intercourse ; but the very mystery 
which o-ave weight to the institution was the cause of its origin being 
unknown. It is only mentioned, and then cursorily, in historical docu- 
ments towards the early part of the fifteenth century. This court of 
judicature received the name of Femgericht, or Vehmgericht, which means 
Yehmic tribunal. The origin of the word Fern, Vehvi, or Fam, which has 
o-iven rise to many scientific discussions, still remains in doubt. The most 
generally accepted opinion is, that it is derived from a Latin expression — 
remi (nr mihi), "woe is me ! " 

The special dominion over which the Vehmic tribunal reigned supreme was 
Westphalia, and the country which was subjected to its laws was designated 
as the Terre Rouge. There was no assembly of this tribunal beyond the limits 
of this Tcrre Rouge, but it would be quite impossible to define these limits 
with any accuracy. However, the free judges, assuming the right of sup- 
pressing certain crimes committed beyond their territory, on more than 
one occasion summoned persons living in various parts of Germany, and 
even in provinces far from Westphalia, to appear before them. We do not 
know all the localities wherein the Yehmic tribunal sat ; but the most 
celebrated of them, and the one which served as a model for all the rest, 
held its sittings under a lime-tree, in front of the castle-gate of Dortmund 
(Fig. 321). There the chapters-general of the association usually assembled; 
and, on certain occasions, several thousands of the free judges were to be 
seen there. 

Each tribunal was composed of an unlimited number of free judges, 
under the presidency of a free count, who was charged with the higher 


3 8g 

administration of Yehmic justice. A free county generally comprised several 
free tribunals, or friestii/ik. The free count, who was chosen by the 
prince of the territory in which the tribunal sat, had two courts, one 
secret, the other public. The public assizes, which took place at least 
three times a year, "were announced fourteen days beforehand, and any 
person living within the county, and who was summoned before the free 
count, was bound to appeal-, and to answer all questions which might be put 
to him. It was required that the free judges (who are generally mentioned 
as femnoten — that is to say, satjes — and who are, besides, denoted by writers 

Fig. 321.— View of the Town of Dortmund in the Sixteenth Century.— From au Engraving on 
Copper in 1 J . Bertius's " Theatrum Geographicum." 

of the time by the most honourable epithets: such as, "serious men," 
"very pious," "of very pure morals," " lovers of justice," &c.) should be 
persons who had been born in lawful wedlock, and on German soil; they 
were not allowed to belong to any religious order, or to have ever them- 
selves been summoned before the Vehrnic tribunal. They were nominated 
by the free counts, but subject to the approval of their sovereigns. They 
were not allowed to sit as judges before having been initiated into the 
mysteries of the tribunals. 

The initiation of a free judge was accompanied by extraordinary formali- 
ties. The candidate appeared bareheaded ; he knelt down, and, placing two 



fingers of his right hand on his naked sword and on a rope, ho took oath to 
adhere to the laws and customs of the holy tribunal, to devote his five senses 
to it, and not to allow himself to be allured therefrom either by silver, gold, or 
even precious stones ; to forward the interests of the tribunal " above every- 
thing illumined by the sun, and all that the rain reaches;" and to defend them 
" ao-ainst everything which is between heaven and earth." The candidate 
was then given the sign by which members of the association recognised 


in^foi 'vo 'Nmqtflant. 

Fig. 322. — The Landgrave of Thuringia and his Wife. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Collection 
of the Minnesinger, Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, 

each other. This sign has remained unknown ; and nothing, even in the 
deeds of the Vehmic archives, leads one even to guess what it was, and 
every hypothesis on this subject must be looked upon as uncertain or 
erroneous. By one of the fundamental statutes of the Terre-Rouge, a 
member convicted of betraying the secrets of the order was condemned to 
the most cruel punishment ; but we have every reason for asserting that 
this sentence was never carried out, or even issued against a free judge. 



In one case alone during the fourteenth century, was an accusation of this 
sort made, and that proved to be groundless. 

It would have been considered the height of treason to have given a 
relation, or a friend, the slightest hint that he was being pursued, or that 
he had been condemned by the Holy Yehme, in order that lie might seek 
refuge by flight. And in consequence of this, there was a general mistrust 
of any one belonging to the tribunal, so much so that, " a brother," says a 
German writer, " often feared his brother, and hospitality was no longer 

The functions of free judges consisted in going about the country seeking 

Fip;s. 323 and 321.— Free Judges. — l-'ac-simile of two \\ oodtuts in Uie " CoBmographie 
Universelle " of Minister: in folio, 1552. 

out crimes, denouncing them, and inflicting immediate punishment on any 
evil-doer caught in the act (Figs. 323 and 324). The free judges might 
assemble provided there were at least seven in number to constitute a tribunal ; 
hut we hear of as many as three hundred assisting at a meeting. 

It has been erroneously stated that the sittings of the Yehmie tribunals 
were held at night in the depths of forests, or in subterranean places; but it 
appears that all criminal business was first beard in public, and could only lie 
subjected to a secret judgment when the accused had failed either publicly 
to justify himself or to appear in person. 

When three free judges caught a malefactor in the very act, they could 
seize him, judge him, and inflict the penalty on the spot. In other cases, 



when a tribunal considered that it should pursue an individual, it summoned 
him to appear before it. The summons had to be written, without erasures, 
on a large sheet of vellum, and to bear at least seven seals — that of the free 
count, and those of six free judges ; and these seals generally represented 
either a man in full armour holding a sword, or a simple sword blade, or 
other analogous emblems (Figs. 325 to 327). Two free judges delivered the 
summons personally where a member of the association was concerned ; but 
if the summons affected an individual who was not of the Vehniic order, a 
sworn messenger bore it, and placed it in the very hands of the person, or 
slipped it into his house. The time given for putting in an appearance was 
originally six weeks and three days at least, but at a later period this time 

Fig. 32-5.— Seal of Herman Fig. 32b'.— Seal of the Free Fig. 327. — Seal of Johann 

Loseckin, Free Count of Count, Hana Vollmar von Croppe, Free Count of 

Medebaeh, in 1410. Twern, at Freyenhagen, in Kogelnberg, in 1413. 


was shortened. The writ of summons was repeated three times, and each 
time bore a greater number of seals of free judges, so as to verify the 
legality of the instrument. The accused, whether guilty or not, was liable 
to a hue for not answering the first summons, unless he could prove that it 
was impossible for him to have done so. If he failed to appear on the third 
summons, he was finally condemned en corps et en honneur. 

We have but imperfect information as to the formalities in use in the 
Tehmic tribunals. But we know that the sittings were invested with a 
certain solemnity and pomp. A naked sword— emblematical of justice, and 
recalling our Saviour's cross in the shape of its handle— and a rope- 
emblematical of the punishment deserved by the guilty— were placed on the 



talile before the president. The judges were bareheaded, with bare hands, 
and each wore a cloak over his shoulder, and carried no arms of any sort. 

The plaintiff and the defendant were each allowed to produce thirty 
witnesses. The defendant could either defend himself, or entrust his case to 

Fig. 328.— The Duke of Saxony and the SJaiquia ol lUandenbuig.— From the "Theatrum Orbis 
Ten-arum give Tabula vetcris Geographic," in folio. Engraved by Wiericx, after Geiard de 

an advocate whom he brought with him. At first, any free judge being- 
defendant in a suit, enjoyed the privilege of justifying himself on oath; 
but it having been discovered that this privilege was abused, all persons, of 
whatever station, were compelled to be confronted with the other side. 

3 E 


The witnesses, who were subpoened by either accuser or accused, had to give 
their evidence according to the truth, dispassionately and voluntarily. In 
the event of the accused not succeeding in bringing sufficient testimony to 
clear himself, the prosecutor claimed a verdict in his favour from the free 
count presiding at the tribunal, who appointed one of the free judges to 
declare it. In case the free judge did not feel satisfied as to the guilt, 
he could, by making oath, temporarily divest himself of his office, which 
devolved upon a second, a third, or even a fourth free judge. If four free 
judges were unable to decide, the matter was referred to another sitting; 
for judgment had to be pronounced by the appointed free judge at the 

The various penalties for different crimes were left to the decision of the 
tribunal. The rules are silent on the subject, and simply state that the 
culprits will be punished "according to the authority of the secret bench." 
The rot/ale, i.e. capital punishment, was strictly applied in all serious cases, 
and the manner of execution most in use was hanging (Figs. 3'39, 330). 

A person accused who did not appear after the third summons, was out- 
lawed by a terrible sentence, which deprived him of all rights, of common 
peace, and forbad him the company of all Christians ; by the wording of this 
sentence, his wife was looked upon as a widow, his children as orphans ; his 
neck was abandoned to the birds of the air, and his body to the beasts of the 
field, "but his soul was recommended to God." At the expiration of one 
year and a day, if the culprit had not appeared, or had not established his 
common rights, all his goods were confiscated, and appropriated by the King 
or Emperor. When the condemnation referred to a prince, a town, or a 
corporation (for the accusations of the tribunal frequently were issued 
against groups of individuals), it caused the loss of all honour, authority, 
and privileges. The free count, in pronouncing the sentence, threw the 
rope, which was before him, on to the ground ; the free judges spat upon it, 
and the name of the culprit was inscribed on the book of blood. The sen- 
tence was kept secret ; the prosecutor alone was informed of it by a written 
notice, which was sealed with seven seals. When the condemned was 
present, the execution took place immediately, and, according to the custom 
of the Middle Ages, its carrying out was deputed to the youngest of the 
free judges. The members of the Yehmic association enjoyed the privilege 
of being hung seven feet higher than those who were not associates. 



The Vehmic judgments wove, however, liable to be appealed against : the 
accused might, at the sitting, appeal either to what was termed the imperial 
chamber, a general chapter of the association, which assembled at Dortmund, 
or (and this was the more frequent custom) to the emperor, or ruler of the 
country, whether he were king, prince, duke, or bishop, provided that these 
authorities belonged to the association. The revision of the judgment could 
only be entrusted to members of the tribunal, who, in their turn, could only 
act in "Westphalia. The condemned might also appeal to the lieutenant- 
general of the emperor, or to the grand master of the Holy Vehme, a title 
which, from the remotest times, was given to the Archbishop of Cologne. 


- \^±-^ ;-" -K^ - 

~=i 5 

Figs. 329 and 330.— Execution of the Sentences of the Secret Trihunal.— Facsimile of Woodcuts 
in the " Cosmographie TJniveraelle " of Munster : in folio, Basle, 1552. 

There are even instances of appeals having been made to the councils and to 
the Popes, although the Vehmic association never had any communication or 
intercourse with the court of Home. We must not forget a very curious 
privilege which, in certain cases, was left to the culprit as a last resource; 
he might appeal to the emperor, and solicit an order which required the 
execution of the sentence to be applied after a delay of one hundred years, six 
weeks, and one day. 

The chapter-general of the association was generally summoned once a 
year by the emperor or his lieutenant, and assembled either at Dortmund or 
Arensberg, in order to receive the returns of causes judged by the various 


Yehmic tribunals ; to hear the changes which had taken place among the 
members of the order ; to receive the free judges ; to hear appeals ; and, 
lastly, to decide upon reforms to be introduced into the rules. These reforms 
usually had reference to the connection of imperial authority with the 
members of the secret jurisdiction, and were generally suggested by the 
emperors, who wore jealous of the increasing power of the association. 

From what we have shown, on the authority of authentic documents, we 
understand how untrue is the tradition, or rather the popular idea, that the 
Secret Tribunal was an assembly of bloodthirsty judges, secretly perpetrating 
acts of mere cruelty, without any but arbitrary laws. It is clear, on the 
contrary, that it was a regular institution, having, it is true, a most mysterious 
and complex organization, but simply acting in virtue of legal prescriptions, 
which were rigorously laid down, and arranged in a sort of code which did 
honour to the wisdom of those who had created it. 

It was towards the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth 
centuries that the Yehmic jurisdiction reached its highest degree of power ; 
its name was only pronounced in a whisper and with trembling ; its orders 
were received with immediate submission, and its chastisements always fell 
upon the guilty and those who resisted its authority. There cannot be a 
doubt but that the Westphalian tribunal prevented many great crimes and 
public misfortunes by putting a wholesome check on the nobles, who were 
ever ready to place themselves above all human authority ; and by punishing, 
with pitiless severity, the audacity of bandits, who would otherwise have 
been encouraged to commit the most daring acts with almost the certainty of 
escaping with impunity. But the Holy Vehme, blinded by the terror it 
inspired, was not long without displaying the most extravagant assumption 
of power, and digressing from the strict path to which its action should have 
been confined. It summoned before its tribunals princes, who openly denied 
its authority, and cities, which did not condescend to answer to its behests. 
In the fifteenth century, the free judges were composed of men who could 
not be called of unimpeachable integrity ; many persons of doubtful morals 
having been raised to the dignity by party influence and by money. The 
partiality and the spirit of revenge which at times prompted their judg- 
ments, were complained of; they were accused of being open to corrup- 
tion ; and this accusation appears to have been but too well founded. It 
is known tha f , according to a feudal practice established in the Vehmic 

SECRET TRIP, I \Y, 1 /. .V. 


system, every new free judge was obliged to make a present to the free count 
who had admitted him into the order ; and the free counts did not hesitate to 
make this an important source of revenue to themselves by admitting 
according' to an historian, " many people as fudyex who, in reality, deserved 
to he judged." 

Fig. 331.— View of Cologne in the .Sixteenth Century.— From a Copper-plate in the "Theatrum 
Geographicum " of P. Bertius. The three large stars represent, it is supposed, the Three 
Persons of the Trinity, and the seven small ones the Electors of the Empire. 

Owing to the most flagrant and most insolent abuses of power, the ancient 
authority of the institution became gradually more and more shaken. On 
one occasion, for instance, in answer to a summons issued by the Imperial 
Tribunal against some free judges, the tribunal of the Terre-Eouge had the 



I'ir ' 

< win ' ;M*.iu >■ 

Fig. 332.— German Knights (Fifteenth Century).— From a Plate in the "Life of the Emperor 
Maximilian," engraved by Burgmayer, from Drawings by Albert Diirer. 


daring to summon the Emperor Frederick 111. before it to answer for this 
want of respect. On another occasion, a certain free count, jealous of one of 
his associates, hung him with his o\\ n hands while oul on a. hunting excursion, 
alleging that his rank of free judge authorised him to execute summary 
justice. From that time there was a. perpetual cry of horror and indignation 
against a judicial institution which thus interpreted its duties, and before 
long the State undertook the suppression of these secret tribunals. The first 
idea of this was formed by the electors of the empire at the diet of Treves in 
1512. The Archbishop of Cologne succeeded, however, in parrying the 
blow, by convoking the chapter-general of the order, on the plea of the 
necessity of reform. But, besides being essentially corrupt, the Holy Vehme 
had really run its course, and it gradually became effete as, by degrees, a 
better organized and more defined social and political state succeeded to the 
confused anarchy of the Middle Ages, and as the princes and free towns 
adopted the custom of dispensing justice either in person or through regular 
tribunals. Its proceedings, becoming more and more summary and rigorous, 
daily gave rise to feelings of greater and greater abhorrence. The common 
saving over all Germany was, ''They first hang you, and afterwards inquire 
into your innocence." On all sides opposition arose against the jurisdiction 
of the free judges. Princes, bishops, cities, and citizens, agreed instinctively 
to counteract this worn-out and degenerate institution. The struggle was 
long and tedious. During the last convulsions of the expiring Holy Vehme, 
there was more than one sanguinary episode, both on the side of the free 
judges themselves, as well as on that of their adversaries. Occasionally the 
secret tribunal broke out into fresh signs of life, and proclaimed its existence 
by some terrible execution ; and at times, also, its members paid dearly for 
their acts. On one occasion, in L370, fourteen free judges, whom Kaspar 
Schwitz, Count of CEttingen, caused to lie seized, were already tied up in 
bags, and about to be drowned, when the mob, pitying their fate, asked 
for and obtained their reprieve. 

The death-blow to the A r ehmic tribunal was struck by its own hand. It 
condemned summarily, and executed without regular procedure, an inhabitant 
of Minister, who used to scandalize the town by his profligacy. He was 
arrested at night, led to a small wood, where the free judges awaited him, 
and condemned to death without being allowed an advocate ; and, after being- 
refused a respite even of a few hours, that be might make his peace with 



heaven, he was confessed b} T a monk, and his head was severed from his 
body by the executioner on the spot. 

Dating from this tragical event, which excited universal indignation, the 

Pig. 333.— Interior Court of the Palace of the Doges of Venice : Buildings in which are the Cells 
and the Leads. — Prom Cesare Vecellio. 

authority of the free judges gradually declined, and, at last, the institution 
became almost defunct, and merely confined itself to occasionally adjudicating 
in simple civil matter.-. 

We must not omit to mention the Council of Ten of Venice when speaking 


on the subject of arbitrary executions and of tyrannical and implacable 
justice. In some respects it was more notorious than the Vehmic tribunal, 
exercising as it did a no less mysterious power, arid inspiring equal terror, 
though in other countries. 

This secret tribunal was created after a revolt which burst on the republic 
of Venice on the 15th of June, 1310. At first it was only instituted for two 
months, but, after various successive prorogations, it was confirmed for five 
years, on the 31st of January, loll. In 1316 it was again appointed for 
five years ; on the 2nd of May, 1327, for ten years more; and at last was 
established permanently. In the fifteenth century the authority of the 
Council of Ten was consolidated and rendered more energetic by the creation 
of the Inquisitors of State. These were three in number, elected by the 
Council of Ten ; and the citizens on whom the votes fell could not refuse the 
functions which were thus spontaneously, and often unexpectedly, assigned 
to them. The authority of Inquisitors of State was declared to be 

In order to show the power and mode of action of this terrible tribunal, 
it is perhaps better to make a few extracts from the code of rules which it 
established for itself in June, 1404. 

This document — several manuscript copies of which are to be found in 
the public libraries of Paris — says, " The inquisitors may proceed against 
any person whomsoever, no rank giving the right of exemption from their 
jurisdiction. They may pronounce any sentence, even that of death ; 
only their final sentences must 1)0 passed unanimously. They shall 
have complete charge of the prisons and Hie leads (Fig. 333). They 
may draw at sight from the treasury of the Council of Ten, without 
having to give any account of the use made of the funds placed in their 

" The proceedings of the tribunal shall always be secret ; its members 
shall wear no distinctive badge. No open arrests shall be made. The 
chief of the bailiffs (shim) shall avoid making domiciliary arrests, but 
he shall try to seize the culprit unawares, away from his home, and so 
securely get him under the leads of the Palace of the Doges. When the 
tribunal shall deem the death of any person necessary, the execution 

Orfano Canal. 

3 !■' 

shall never be public; the condemned shall bo drowned at night m the 



" The tribunal shall authorise the generals commanding in Cyprus or in 
Canclia, in the event of its being for the welfare of the Republic, to cause 
any patrician or other influential person in either of those Venetian provinces 
to disappear, or to be assassinated secretly, if such a measure should con- 

Fig. 334. — Member of the Brotherhood of Death, whose duty it was to accompany ikose sentenced 

to death. — From Cesare Veeellio. 

scientiously appear to them indispensable ; but they shall be answerable 
before God. for it. 

"If any workman shall practise in a foreign land any art or craft to the 
detriment of the Republic, lie shall lie ordered to return to his country; and 
should he not obey, all his nearest relatives shall be imprisoned, in order that 


his affection for them may bring' him to obedience. Should lie still persist in 
his disobedience, secret measures shall be taken to put him to death, wherever 
he may be. 

"If a Venetian noble reveal to the tribunal propositions which have 
been made to him by some foreign ambassador, the agent, excepting it 
should be the ambassador himself, shall be immediately carried off and 

" If a patrician having committed any misdeed shall take refuge 
under the protection of a foreign ambassador, he shall be put to death 

"If any noble in full senate take upon himself to question the authority 
of the Council of Ten, and persist in attacking it, he shall be allowed to 
speak -without interruption; immediately afterwards he shall be arrested, 
and instructions as to his trial shall be given, so that he may be judged by 
the ordinary tribunals ; and, if this does not succeed in preventing his pro- 
ceedings, he shall be put to deatli secretly. 

"In case of a. complaint against one of the heads of the Council of Ten, 
the instructions shall be made secretly, and, in case of sentence of death, 
poison shall be the agent selected. 

" Should any dissatisfied noble speak ill of the Government, he shall first 
lie forbidden to appear in the councils and public places for two years. 
Should he not obey, or should he repeat the offence after the two years, he 
shall be drowned as incorrigible . . . ." &c. 

One can easily understand that in order to carry out these laws the most 
careful measures were taken to organize a system of espionage. The nobles 
were subjected to a rigorous supervision; the privacy of letters was not 
respected; an ambassador was never lost sight of, and his smallest acts were 
narrowly watched. Any one who dared to throw obstacles in the way of the 
spies employed by the Council of Ten, was put on the rack, and "made 
afterwards to receive the punishment which the State inquisitors might con- 
sider befitting." "Whole pages of the secret statutes bear witness that lying 
and fraud formed the basis of all the diplomatic relations of the Venetian 
Government. Nevertheless the Council of Ten, which was solely instituted 
with the view of watching over the safety of the Republic, could not inter- 
meddle in civil cases, and its members were forbidden to hold any sort ol 
communication with foreigners. 

+0 + 


The list of names of Venetian nobles and distinguished persons who 
became victims to the suspicious tyranny of the Council of Ten, and of the 
State inquisitors, would be very long and of little interest. We maj r mention 
a few, however. We find that in 1385, Peter Justiniani, and, in 1388, 

Figs. 335 and 336.— Chiefs of Sbirri, in the Secret Service of the Council of Ten.— 
From Cesare Vecellio. 

Stephen Monalesco, were punished for holding secret transactions with the 
Lord of Padua ; ia 1413, .John Nogarola, for having tried to set fire to Verona; 
m 1471, Borromeo Memo, for having uttered defamatory speeches against the 
Podestat of Padua. Not only was this Borromeo Memo punished, hut 
three witnesses of the crime which was imputed to him were condemned to a 

Fig. 391.— Grand Procession of the Doge, Venice (Sixteenth Century).— Reduced from one of fourteen Engiavinga 

representing this Ceremony, designed and engraved by J. Amman. 



•year's imprisonment and three yours' banishment, for not having denounced the 
deed "between evening and morning." In 1457 we find the Council of Ten 
attacking the Doge himself, by requiring the abdication of Francis Foscari. 
A century earlier it had caused the Doge, Marino Falicro, who was convicted 

Fig. 337. Doge of Venice. Costume before the Fig. 338.— Doge of Venice in Ceremonial Cos 
Sixteenth Century. tume of the Sixteenth Century. 

From Cesare Vccellio. 

of having taken part in a plot to destroy the influence of the nobility, to be 
executed on the very staircase of the ducal palace, where allegiance to the 
Republic was usually sworn. 

Like the Holy Vehme, the Council of Ten compromised its authority by 



the abuse of power. In 1540, unknown to the Senate, and in spite of the 
well-prescribed limit of its authority, it concluded a treaty with the Turkish 
Sultan, Soliman II. The Senate at first concealed its indignation at this 
abuse of power, but, in 1-j8'2, it took measures so as considerably to 
restrain the powers of the Council of Ten, which, from that date, only existed 
in name. 

U.— Seal of the Free Count Hoimich Beekmai 
of Jledetiach (1520—1533). 


Rpfinements of Penal Cruelty. — Tortures for different Pm-posos. — "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.— Wheel.— Garotte.— Hanging:.— The Whip.— The Pillory.— The Arquebuse.— 
Tickling - . — Flaying. — Drowning. — Imprisonment. — Regulations of Prisons. — The Iron 
Case.— The Leads of Venire. 

I T is very sad," says the learned 
M. de Yillegille, "to observe the 
infinite variety of tortures which 
have existed since the beginning of 
the world. It is, in fact, difficult to 
realise the amount of ingenuity exer- 
cised by men in inventing new 
tortures, in order to give themselves 
the satisfaction of seeing their fellow- 
creatures agonizing in the most awful 

In entering upon the subject of ancient modes of punishment, we must first 
speak of the torture, which, according to the received phrase, might be either 
previous or preparatory : prmo».s, when it consisted of a torture which the con- 
demned had to endure previous to capital punishment ; and preparatory, when 
it was applied in order to elicit from the culprit an avowal of his crime, or of 
that of his accomplices. It was also called ordinary, or extraordinary, according 
to the duration or violence with which it was inflicted. In some cases the 
torture lasted five or six consecutive hours ; in others, it rarely exceeded an 
hour. Hippolyte de Marsillis, the learned and venerable jurisconsult of 
Bologna, who lived at the beginning of the fifteenth century, mentions 
fourteen ways of inflicting torture. The compression of the limbs by special 
instruments, or by ropes only ; injection of water, vinegar, or oil, into the 



body of the accused; application of hot pitch, and starvation, were the pro- 
cesses most in use. Other means, which were more or less applied according to 
the fancy of the magistrate and the tormentor or executioner, were remark- 
able for their singular atrocities. For instance, placing hot eggs under the 
arm-pits ; introducing dice between the skin and flesh ; tying lighted 
candles to the fingers, so that they might be consumed simultaneously with 
the wax ; letting water trickle drop by drop from a great height on the 
stomach ; and also the custom, which was, according to writers on criminal 
matters, an indescribable torture, of watering the feet with salt water and 
allowing gnats to lick them. However, every country had special customs 
as to the manner of applying torture. 

In France, too, the torture varied according to the provinces, or rather 
according to the parliaments. For instance, in Brittany the culprit, tied in 
an iron chair, was gradually brought near a blazing furnace. In Normandy, 
one thumb was squeezed in a screw in the ordinary, and both thumbs in the 
jxtraordinary torture. At Autun, after high boots made of spongy leather had 
been placed on the culprit's feet, he was tied on to a table near a large fire, 
and a quantity of boiling water was poured on the boots, which penetrated 
the leather, ate away the flesh, and even dissolved the bones of the victim. 

At Orleans, fur the ordinary torture the accused was stripped half naked, 
and his hands were tightly tied behind his back, with a ring fixed between 
them. Then, by means of a rope fastened to this ring, they raised the poor 
man, who had a weight of one hundred and eighty pounds attached to his 
feet, a certain height from the ground. For the extraordinary torture, which 
then took the name of estrapade, they raised the victim, with two hundred 
and fifty pounds attached to his feet, to the ceiling by means of a capstan ; 
he was then allowed to fall several times successively by jerks to the level of 
the ground, by which means his arms and legs were completely dislocated 
(Fig. 340). 

At Avignon, the ordinary torture consisted in hanging the accused by the 
wrists, with a heavy iron ball at each foot ; for the extraordinary torture, 
which was then much in use in Italy under the name of reglia, the body 
was stretched horizontally by means of ropes passing through rings riveted 
into the wall, and attached to the four limbs, the only support given 
to the culprit being the point of a stake cut in a diamond shape, which 
just touched the end of the back-bone. A doctor and a surgeon were 

. 3iO.-The Esto r »^ r ~--<>-"*i„r, J ft rt wu mm ffiW — Fan-simile of ,a Woodcut in the Work ot J. R i seus, 

frimmis I i N^endi :" folio, Paris, 1541. 




always present, feeling the pulse at the temples of the patient, so as to bo 
able to judge of the moment when he could not any longer bear the pain. 

Fig. 341.— The Water Torture.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut in P. Damhoudere's " Praxis Eerum 
Criminalium :" in 4to, Antwerp, 1S56. 

At that moment he was untied, hot fomentations were used to revive him, 
restoratives were administered, and, as soon as he had recovered a little 

3 G 


strength, lie was again put to the torture, which went on thus for six 
consecutive hours. 

In Paris, for a long- time, the water torture was in use ; this was the most 
easily borne, and the least dangerous. A person undergoing it was tied to 
a hoard which was supported horizontally on two trestles. By means of 
a horn, acting as a funnel, and whilst his nose was being pinched, so as 
to force him to swallow, they slowly poured four coquemars (about nine 
pints) of water into his mouth ; this was for the ordinary torture. For 
the extraordinary, double that quantity was poured in (Fig. 341). When 
the torture was ended, the victim was untied, " and taken to be warmed in 
the kitchen," says the old text. 

At a later period, the brodequins were preferred. For this torture, the 
victim was placed in a .sitting posture on a massive bench, with strong 
narrow 1 loards fixed inside and outside of each leg, which were tightly bound 
together with strong rope ; wedges were then driven in between the centre 
boards with a mallet ; four wedges in the ordinary and eight in the extra- 
ordinary torture. Not unfrequently during the latter operation the bones of 
the legs were literally burst. 

The brodequins which were often used for ordinary torture were stock- 
ings of parchment, into which it was easy enough to get the feet when it 
was wet, but which, on being held near the fire, shrunk so considerably 
that it caused insufferable agony to the wearer. 

Whatever manner of torture was applied, the accused, before undergoing 
it, was forced to remain eight or ten hours without eating. Damhoudere, in 
his famous technical work, called " Practique et Enchiridion des Causes 
Criminellcs " (P544), also recommends that the hair should be carefully 
shaved from the bodies of persons about to undergo examination by torture, 
for fear of their concealing some countercharni which would render them 
insensible to bodily pain. The same author also recommends, as a rule, 
when there are several persons " to be placed on the rack" for the same 
deed, to begin with those from whom it would be most probable that con- 
fession would lie first extorted. Thus, for instance, when a man and a 
woman were to suffer one after the other, he recommended that the womau 
be first tortured, as being the weaker of the two ; when a father and son 
were concerned, the- son should be tortured in presence of the father, "who 
naturally fears more for his son than for himself." We thereby see that 



the judges were adepts in the art of adding moral to physical tortures. 
The barbarous custom ul' punishment by torture was on several occasions 
condemned by the Church. As early as 866, we find, from 1'ope Nicholas Y.'s 
letter to the Bulgarians, that their custom of torturing the accused was 
considered contrary to divine as well as In human law : " For," says he, " a 

Fig. 342.— Type of Executioner in the Decapitation of John the Baptist (Thirteenth Century). - 
Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Psalm-book of St. Louis. Manuscript preserved in the Musee 
ues Souverains. 

confession should be voluntary, and not forced. By means of the torture, an 
innocent man may suffer to the utmost without making any avowal; and, in 
such a case, what a crime for the judge ! < )r the person may be subdued by 
pain, and may acknowledge himself guilty, although he be not so, which 
throws an equally great sin upon the judge." 

After having endured the previous torture, the different phases of which 


were carried out by special tormentors or executioners, the condemned was 
at last handed over to the maidre des haultes ceuvres — that is to say, the 
executioner — whose special mission was that of sending culprits to another 
world (Fig. 342). 

The executioner did not hold the same position in all countries. For, 

Fig. 343.— Swiss Grand Provost (Fifteenth Century).— From a Painting in the " Danse des Morts ' 

of Basle, eDgraved by Merian. 

whereas in France, Italy, and Spain, a certain amount of odium was attached 
to this terrible craft, in Germany, on the contrary, successfully carrying out 
a certain number of capital sentences was rewarded by titles and the 
privileges of nobility (Fig. 343). At Reutlingen, in Suabia, the last of the 
councillors admitted into the tribunal had to carry out the sentence with his 


own hand. In Franconia, this painful duty fell upon the councillor who had 
last taken a -wife. 

In Franco, the executioner, otherwise called the King's Sworn Tormentor, 
was the lowest of the officers of justice. His letters of appointment, which 
he received from the King-, had, nevertheless, to he registered in Parliament; 
hut, after having- put the seal on them, it is said that the chancellor threw 
them under the table, in token of contempt. The executioner was generally 
forbidden to live within the precincts of the city, unless it was 011 the 
grounds -where the pillory was situated ; and, in some cases, so that he 
might not he mistaken amongst the people, he was forced to wear a particular 
coat, cither of red or yellow. On the other hand, his duties ensured him 
certain privileges. In Paris, he possessed the right of havage, which con- 
sisted in taking all that he could hold in his hand from every load of grain 
whieh was brought into market ; however, in order that the grain might 
be preserved from ignominious contact, he levied his tax with a wooden 
spoon. lie enjoyed many similar rights over most articles of consumption, 
independently of benefiting by several taxes or hues, such as the toll 
on the Petit-Pont, the tux on foreign traders, on boats arriving with fish, 
on dealers in herrings, watercress, &c. ; and the tine of five sous whieh 
was levied on stray pigs (see previous chapter), &c. And, lastly, besides the 
personal property of the condemned, he received the rents from the shops 
and stalls surrounding the pillory, in whieh the retail fish trade was 
carried on. 

It appears that, in consecpienee of the receipts from these various duties 
forming a considerable source of revenue, the prestige of wealth by degrees 
dissipated the unfavourable impressions traditionally attached to the duties 
of executioner. At least, we have authority for supposing this, when, for 
instance, in 1418, we see the Paris executioner, who was then captain of the 
bourgeois militia, coming in that capacity to touch the hand of the Puke 
of Burgundy, on the occasion of his solemn entry into Paris with Queen 
Isabel of Bavaria. We may add that popular belief generally ascribed to 
the executioner a certain practical knowledge of medicine, which was sup- 
posed inherent in the profession itself; and the acquaintance with certain 
methods of cure unknown to doctors, was attributed to him ; people went to 
buy from him the fat of culprits who had been hung, which was supposed to 
be a marvellous panacea. We may also remark that, in our day, the 

4' + 


proficiency of the executioner in setting dislocated limbs is still proverbial 
in many countries. 

More than once during the thirteenth century the duties of the executioner 
were performed by women, but only in those cases in which their own sex 
was concerned ; for it is expressly stated in an order of St. Louis, that persons 

Fig 344.— Amende Honorable before the Tribunal. — Fae-simile of a Woodcut in J. Damhoudeie's 
" Praxis Re-rum Criminalium :" in 4to, Antwerp, 1556. 

convicted of blasphemy shall be beaten with birch rods, "the men by men, 
and the women by women only, without the presence of men." This, how- 
ever, was not long tolerated, for we know that a period soon arrived when 
women were exempted from a duty so little adapted to their physical 
weakness and moral sensitiveness. 



The learned writer on criminal rases, Jossc Damhoudere, whom we have 
already mentioned, and whom we shall take as our special guide in the 
enumeration of the various tortures, specifies thirteen ways in which the 
executioner " carries out his executions," and places them in the following- 
order : — " Fire " — " the sword" — " mechanical force" — " quartering " — 
" the wheel " — " the fork " — " the gibbet " — " drawing " — " spiking " — 
"cutting off the ears" — "dismembering" — "flogging or beating" — and 
the " pillory." 

But before entering upon the details of this revolting subject, we must 
state that, whatever punishment was inflicted upon a culprit, it was very rare 

Fig. 345.— The Punishment by Fire.— Fuc-simile of a Woodcut ol the " Cosmographie Universelle 

of Minister : in folio, Basic, 1.552. 

that its execution had not keen preceded by the amende honorable, which, in 
certain cases, constituted a distinct punishment, but which generally was but 
the prelude to the torture itself. The amende honorable which was called 
simple or short, took place without the assistance of the executioner in the 
council chamber, where the condemned, bareheaded and kneeling, had to 
state that "he had falsely said or done something against the authority of 
the King or the honour of some person (Fig. 344). For the amende honor- 
able in ftguris— that is to say, in public— the condemned, in his shirt, bare- 
footed, the rope round his neck, followed by the executioner, and holding m 
his hand a wax taper, with a weight, which was definitely specified in the 
sentence which had been passed upon him, but which was generally of 


two or four pounds, prostrated himself at the door of a church, where in a 
loud voice he had to confess his sin, and to beg the pardon of God and 

When a criminal had been condemned to be burnt, a stake was erected 
on the spot specially designed for the execution, and round it a pile was 
prepared, composed of alternate layers of straw and wood, and rising to 
about the height of a man. Care was taken to leave a free space round 
the stake for the victim, and also a passage by which to lead him to 
it. Having been stripped of his clothes, and dressed in a shirt smeared 
with sulphur, he had to walk to the centre of the pile through a narrow 
opening, and was then tightly bound to the stake with ropes and chains. 
After this, faggots and straw were thrown into the empty space through 
which he had passed to the stake, until he was entirely covered by them ; 
the pile was then fired on all sides at once (Fig. 345). 

Sometimes, the sentence was that the culprit should only be delivered to 
the flames after having been previously strangled. In this case, the dead 
corpse was then immediately placed where the victim would otherwise have 
been placed alive, and the punishment lost much of its horror. It often 
happened that the executioner, in order to shorten the sufferings of the con- 
demned, whilst he prepared the pile, placed a large and pointed iron bar 
amongst the faggots and opposite the stake breast high, so that, directly the 
fire was lighted, the bar was quickly pushed against the victim, giving a 
mortal blow to the unfortunate wretch, who would otherwise have been 
slowly devoured by the flames. If, according to the wording of the sentence, 
the ashes of the criminal were to be scattered to the winds, as soon as it was 
possible to approach the centre of the burning pile, a few ashes were taken 
in a shovel and sprinkled in the air. 

They were not satisfied with burning the living, they also delivered to 
the flames the bodies of those who had died a natural death before their 
execution could be carried out, as if an anticipated death should not be 
allowed to save them from the punishment which they had deserved. It also 
happened in certain cases, where a person's guilt was only proved after his 
decease, that his body was disinterred, and carried to the stake to be 

The punishment by fire was always inflicted in cases of heresy or 
blasphemy. The Spanish Inquisition made such a constant and cruel use of 


it, that the expression auto-da-fe (act of faith), strangely perverted from 
its original meaning-, was the only one employed to denote the punishment 
itself. In France, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, fifty-nine 
Templars were bnrned at the same time tor the crimes of heresy and witch- 
craft. And three years later, on the IStli March, 1314, Jacques Molay, and 
a few other dignitaries of the Order of the Templars, also perished in the 
flames at the extremity of the island of Notre Dame, on the very spot where 
the equestrian statue of Henry IX . now stands. 

Every one is acquainted with the fact that judges were found iniquitous 
enough to condemn Joan of Are to death by tire as a witch and a heretic. 
Her execution, which took place in the market-place of Rouen, is remark- 
able from a circumstance which is little known, and which had never taken 
place on any other occasion. "When it was supposed that the tire which 
surrounded the young heroine on all sides had reached her and no doubt 
suffocated her, although sufficient time had not elapsed fur it to consume her 
body, a part of the blazing wood was withdrawn, " in order to remove any 
doubts from the people," and when the crowd had satisfied themselves by 
seeing her in the middle of the pile, " chained to the post and quite dead, 
■the executioner replaced the fire . . . ." It should be stated in reference to 
this point, that Joan having been accused of witchcraft, there was a general 
belief among the people that the flames would bo harmless to her, and that 
she would be seen emerging from her pile unscathed. 

The sentence of punishment by fire did not absolutely imply death at the 
stake, for there was a punishment of this description which was specially 
reserved for base coiners, and which consisted in hurling the criminals into 
a cauldron of scalding water or oil. 

"We must include in the category of punishment by fire certain penalties, 
which were, so to speak, but the preliminaries of a more severe punishment, 
such as the sulphur-fire, in which the hands of parricides, or of criminals 
accused of high treason, were burned. We must also add various punish- 
ments which, if they did not involve death, were none the less cruel, such as 
the red-hot brazier, bassin ardent, which was passed backwards and forwards 
before the eyes of the culprit, until they were destroyed by the scorching- 
heat; and the process of branding various marks on the flesh, as an inefface- 
able stigma, the use of which has been continued to the present day. 

In certain countries decapitation was performed with an axe; but in 

4 i S 


France, it was carried oat usually by means of a two-handed sword or 
glave of justice, which was furnished to the executioner for that purpose 
(Fig. 346). We find it recorded that in 147G, sixty sous parisis were paid to 
the executioner of Paris " for having bought a large espie dfeuille," used for 
beheading the condemned, and "for having the old sword done up, which 
was damaged, and had become notched whilst carrying out the sentence of 
justice upon Messire Louis de Luxembourg." 

Originally, decapitation was indiscriminately inflicted on all criminals 
condemned to death ; at a later period, however, it became the particular 

Fig. 346.— Beheading.— Fac-simile of a Miniature on Wood in the " Cosmographie Universelle" 

of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552. 

privilege of the nobility, who submitted to it without any feeling of degrada- 
tion. The victim— unless the sentence prescribed that he should be blind- 
folded as an ignominious aggravation of the penalty— was allowed to choose 
whether he would have his eyes covered or not. He knelt down on the 
scaffold, placed his head on the block, and gave himself up to the executioner 
(Fig. 847). The skill of the executioner was generally such that the head 
was almost invariably severed from the body at the first blow. Nevertheless, 
skill and practice at times failed, for cases are on record where as many as 
eleven blows wore dealt, and at times it happened that the sword broke. It 
was no doubt the desire to avoid this mischance that led to the invention 

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1 19 

tig. 'HI. — Public Executions.— Fac- simile of a Woodcut in the Latin Work of J. Milliuus, 
" Praxis Criminis Ptj-sequtudi :" small folio, Parisiis, Simon de Colines, 1541. 

of the mechanical instrument, now known under the name of the guillotine, 
which is merely an improvement on a complicated machine which was much 
more ancient than is generally supposed. As early as the sixteenth century 


the modern guillotine already existed in Scotland under the name of the 
Maiden, and English historians relate that Lord Morton, regent of Scotland 
during the minority of James VI., had it constructed after a model of a 
similar machine, which had long been in use at Halifax, in Yorkshire. They 
add, and popular tradition also has invented an analogous tale in France, that 
this Lord Morton, who was the inventor or the first to introduce this kind of 
punishment, was himself the first to experience it. The guillotine is, besides, 
very accurately described in the " Chronicles of Jean d'Auton," in an 
account of an execution which took place at Genoa at the beginning of the 
sixteenth century. Two German engravings, executed about 1550 by Pencz 
and Aldegrever, also represent an instrument of death almost identical with 
the guillotine ; and the same instrument is to be found on a bas-relief of that 
period, which is still existing in one of the halls of the Tribunal of 
Luneburg, in Hanover. 

Possibly the invention of such a machine was prompted by the desire to 
curtail the physical sufferings of the victim, instead of prolonging them, as 
under the ancient system. It is, however, difficult to believe that the 
mediasval judges were actuated by any humane feelings, when we find that, 
in order to reconcile a respect for propriety with a clue compliance with 
the ends of justice, the punishment of burying alive was resorted to for 
women, who could not with decency be hung up to the gibbets. In 1460, a 
woman named Perette, accused of theft and of receiving stolen goods, was 
condemned by the Provost of Paris to be " buried alive before the gallows," 
and the sentence was literally carried out. 

Quartering may in truth be considered the most horrible penalty invented 
by judicial cruelty. This punishment really dates from the remotest ages, 
but it was scarcely ever inflicted in more modern times, except on regicides, 
who were looked upon as having committed the worst of crimes. In almost 
all cases, the victim had previously to undergo various accessory tortures : 
sometimes his right hand was cut off, and the mutilated stump was burnt in 
a cauldron of sulphur ; sometimes his arms, thighs, or breasts were lacerated 
with redhot pincers, and hot oil, pitch, or molten lead was poured into the 

After these horrible preliminaries, a rope was attached to each of the 
limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the 
knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were then 


42 1 

fastened to four bars, to each of which, a strong- horse was harnessed, as if for 
towing a barge. These horses were first made to give short jerks ; and when 
the agony had elicited heartrending cries from the unfortunate man, who 
felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken, the four horses were 
all suddenly urged on with the whip in different directions, and thus all the 
limbs were strained at one moment. If the tendons and ligaments still 
resisted the combined efforts of the four horses, the executioner assisted, and 

Fig. 348.— Demons applying- the Torture of the Wheel.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Grand 
Kalendrier ou Compost dea Bergers :" small folio, Troyes, Nicholas le Rouge, 1529. 

made several cuts with a hatchet on each joint. When at last— for this 
horrible torture often lasted several hours — each horse had drawn out a 
limb, they were collected and placed near the hideous trunk, which often 
still showed signs of life, and the whole were burned together. Sometimes 
the sentence was, that the body should be hung to the gibbet, and that the 
limbs should be displayed on the gates of the town, or sent to four prin- 
cipal towns in the extremities of the kingdom. When this was done, " an 


inscription was placed on each of the limbs, which stated the reason of its 
being thus exposed." 

The wheel is the name applied to a torture of very ancient origin, but 
which was applied during the Middle Ages to quite a different torture from 
that used in olden times. The modern instrument might indeed haye been 
called the cross, for it only served for the public exhibition of the body of 
the criminal whose limbs had been previously broken alive. This torture, 
which does not date earlier than the days of Francis I., is thus described :— 
The victim was first tied on his back to two joists forming a St. Andrew's cross, 
each of his limbs being stretched out on its arms. Two places were hollowed 
out under each limb, about a foot apart, in order that the joints alone might 
touch the wood. The executioner then dealt a heavy blow over each hollow 
with a square iron bar, about two inches broad and rounded at the handle, 
thus breaking each limb in two places. To the eight blows required for this, 
the executioner generally added two or three on the chest, which were called 
coups de grace, and which ended this horrible execution. It was only after 
death that the broken body was placed on a wheel, which was turned round 
on a pivot. Sometimes, however, the sentence ordered that the condemned 
should be strangled before being broken, which was done in such cases by 
the instantaneous twist of a rope round the neck. 

Strangling, thus carried out, was called (/inviting. This method is still 
in use in Spain, and is specially reserved for the nobility. The victim is 
seated on a scaffold, his head leaning against a beam and his neck grasped 
by an iron collar, which the executioner suddenly tightens from behind by 
means of a screw. 

For several centuries, and down to the Fcevolution, hanging was the most 
common mode of execution in France ; consequently, in every town, and 
almost in every village, there was a permanent gibbet, which, owing to the 
custom of leaving the bodies to hang till they crumbled into dust, was 
very rarely without having some corpses or skeletons attached to it. These 
gibbets, which were called fourche-s patibulaires, or justices, because they 
represented the authority of the law, were generally composed of pillars of 
stone, joined at their summit by wooden traverses, to which the bodies of 
criminals were tied by ropes or chains. The gallows, the pillars of which 
varied in number according to the will of the authorities, were always placed 
by the side of frequented roads, and on an eminence. 



According to prescribed rule, the gallows of Paris, which played such an 
important part in the political as well as the criminal history of that city, 
were erected on a height north of the town, near the high road leading into 
Germany. Montfaucon, originally the name of the hill, soon became that 
of the gallows itself. This celebrated place of execution consisted of a heavy 
mass of masonry, composed of ten or twelve layers of rough stones, and 

Fig. 349. — The Gibbet of Montfaucon. — From an Kngraving of the Topography of Paris, in the 
Collection of Engravings of the National Library. 

formed an enclosure of forty feet by twenty-five or thirty. At the upper part 
there was a platform, which was reached by a. stone staircase, the entrance 
to which was closed by a massive door (Fig. 349). < »n three sides of this 
platform rested sixteen square pillars, about thirty feet high, made of blocks 
of stone a foot thick. These pillars were joined to one another 1 y double 
bars of wood, which were fastened into them, and bore iron chains three feet 



and a half long, to which the criminals were suspended. Underneath, half- 
way between these and the platform, other Lars were placed for the same 
purpose. Long and solid ladders riveted to the pillars enabled the execu- 
tioner and his assistants to lead up criminals, or to carry up corpses destined 
to be hung there. Lastl} r , the centre of the structure was occupied by a deep 
pit, the hideous receptacle of the decaying remains of the criminals. 

One can easily imagine the strange and melancholy aspect of this monu- 
mental gibbet if one thinks of the number of corpses continually attached to 
it, and which were feasted upon by thousands of crows. On one occasion 
only it was necessary to replace fifty-two chains, which were useless; and the 
accounts of the city of Paris prove that i\i.<& expense of executions was more 
heavy than that of the maintenance of the gibbet, a fact easy to be understood 
if one recalls to mind the frequency of capital sentences during the Middle 
Ages. llontfaucon was used not only for executions, but also for exposing 
corpses which were brought there from various places of execution in every 
part of the country. The mutilated remains of criminals who had been 
boiled, quartered, or beheaded, were also hung there, enclosed in sacks of 
leather or wicker-work. They often remained hanging for a considerable 
time, as in the case of Pierre des Essarts, who had been beheaded in 1413, 
and whose remains were handed over to his family for Christian burial after 
having hung on Montfaucon for three years. 

The criminal condemned to be hanged was generally taken to the place of 
execution sitting or standing in a waggon, with his back to the horses, his 
confessor by his side, and the executioner behind him. He bore three ropes 
round his neck : two the size of the little finger, and called toriouses, each of 
which had a slip-knot ; the third, called the jet, was only used to pull the 
victim off the ladder, and so to launch him into eternity (Fig. 350). When 
the cart arrived at the foot of the gallows, the executioner first ascended the 
ladder backwards, drawing the culprit after him by means of the ropes, and 
forcing him to keep pace with him; on arriving at the top, he quickly 
fastened the two tortouses to the arm of the gibbet, and by a jerk of his knee 
he turned the culprit off the ladder, still holding the jet in his own hand. 
He then placed his feet on the tied hands of the condemned, and suspending 
himself by his hands to the gibbet, he finished off his victim by repeated 
jerks, thus ensuring complete strangulation. 

When the words " shall be hung until death doth ensue " are to be found 


4 2 5 

in a sentence, it must not bo supposed that they wort' used merely as a form, 
for in certain cases the judge ordered that (be sentence should be only carried 
out as far as would prove to the culprit the awful sensation of hanging. In 
such cases, the victim was simply suspended by ropes passing under the arm- 
pits, a kind of exhibition which was not tree from danger when it was too 
prolonged, for the weight of the body so tightened the rope round ihe chest 
that the circulation might bo stopped. Many culprits, after hanging thus 
an hour, when brought down, were dead, or only survived this painful 
process a short time. 

Fig. 3-50. — Hanging to Music. (A Minstrel condemned to the Gallows obtained permission 
one of his companions should accompany him to his execution, and play his favourite instru- 
ment on the ladder of the Gallows.) — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Miehault's "Doctrinal du 
Temps Present:" small folio, goth., Bruges, aljout 1490. 

We have seen elsewhere (chapter on Privileges and Rights, Feudal ami 
Municipal) that, when the criminal passed before the convent of tho Filles- 
Lieu, the nuns of that establishment were bound to bring him out a. glass of 
wine and three pieces of bread, and this was called le dernier morceau den 
patient*. It was hardly ever refused, and an immense crowd assisted at this 
sad meal. After this the procession went forward, and on arriving near the 
gallows, another halt was made at tbe foot of a stone cross, in order that the 
culprit might receive the religious exhortations of his confessor. The moment 

•'! 1 



the execution was over, the confessor and the officers of justice returned to the 
Chatelet, where a repast provided by the town awaited them. 

Sometimes the criminals, in consequence of a peculiar wording of the 

Fig. 351. — View of the Pillory in the Market-place of Paris in the Sixteenth Century, after ; 
Drawing by an unknown Artist of 1670. 

sentence, were taken to Montfaueon, whether dead or alive, on a ladder 
fastened behind a cart. This was an aggravation of the penalty, which was 
called trainer sur la elate. 



The penalty of the lush was inflicted in two ways : first, under 
the eustode, that is to say within the prison, and by the hand of the 
gaoler himself, in which ease it Mas simply a correction; and secondly, 
in public, when its administration became ignominious as well as pain- 
ful. In the latter case the criminal was paraded about the town, stripped 
to the waist, and at each crosswav he received a, certain number of blows 
on the shoulders, given by the public executioner with a cane or a knotted 

When it was only required to stamp a culprit with infamy he was put 
into the pillory, which was generally a kind of scaffold furnished with chains 
and iron collars, and bearing on its front the arms of the feudal lord. In 
Paris, this name was given to a round isolated tower built in the centre of 
the market. The tower was sixty feet high, and had large openings in its 
thick walls, and a. horizontal wheel was provided, which was capable of 
turning on a pivot. This wheel was pierced with several holes, made so as 
to hold the hands and head of the culprit, who, on passing and repassing 
before the eyes of the crowd, came in full view, and was subjected to their 
hootings (Tig. 351). The pillories were always situated in the most 
frequented places, such as markets, erossways, &c. 

Notwithstanding the long and dreadful enumeration we have just made of 
mediaeval punishments, we are far from having exhausted the subject ; lor we 
have not spoken of several more or less atrocious punishments, which w-ere 
in use at various times and in various countries ; such as the Ptiui. of the 
Cross, specially employed against the Jews; the Arquebasade, which was well 
adapted for carrying out prompt justice on soldiers ; the ChatouiUement, which 
resulted in death after the most intense tortures ; the Pal (Fig. 352), flaying 
alive, and, lastly, drowning, a kind of death frequently employed in France. 
Hence the common expression, gens de sac et de corde, which was derived 
from the sack into which persons were tied who were condemned to die 

by immersion But we will now turn away from these horrible 

scenes, and consider the several methods of penal sequestration and prison 

It is unnecessary to state that in barbarous times the cruel and pitiless 
feeling which induced legislators to increase the horrors of tortures, also 
contributed to the aggravation of the fate of prisoners. Each adminis- 
trator of the law had his private gaol, which was entirely under his will and 



control (Fig. 353). Law or custom did not prescribe any fixed rules for the 
internal government of prisons. There can be little doubt, however, that 
these prisons were as small as they were unhealthy, if we may judge from 
that in the Rue de la Tannerie, which was the property of the provost, the 
merchants, and the aldermen of Paris in 1383. Although this dungeon was 

Fig. 352. — EmpalemeDt. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " (Josmographie dnivereelle " 
uf Minister : in folio, Basle, 1552. 

only eleven feet long by seven feet wide, from ten to twenty prisoners were 
often immured in it at the same time. 

Paris alone contained twenty-five or thirty special prisons, without 
counting the vade in pace of the various religious communities. The most 
important were the Grand CMtelet, the Petit Chalelet, the Bastille, the 
Conciergerie, and the For-1'Eveque, the ancient seat of the ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris. Nearly all these places of confinement 


+ 2 

contained subterranean cells, which wen- almost entirely deprived of air and 
light. As examples of these may be mentioned the chartres basses of the 
Petit Chatelet, where, under the reign of Charles VI., it was proved that no 


man could pass an entire day without being suffocated ; and the fearful cells 
excavated thirty feet below the surface of the earth, in the gaol of the 
Abbey of Saint Germain des Pres, the roof of which was so low that a man 
of middle height could not stand up in them, and where the straw of the 
prisoners' beds floated upon the stagnant water which had oozed through 
the walls. 

The Grand Chatelct was one of the most ancient prisons of Paris, and 
probably the one which held the greatest number of prisoners. By a curious 
and arbitrary custom, prisoners were compelled to pay a gaol fee on entering 
and going out of this prison, which varied according to their rank, and which 
was established by a law of the year 1425. We learn from this enactment 
the names by which the various places of confinement composing this 
spacious municipal prison were known. A prisoner who was confined in the 
Beau coir, La Mate or La Salle, had the right of "having a bed brought 
from his own house," and only had to pay the droit de place to the gaoler; 
any one who was placed in the Boucherie, in the Beaumont, or in the Griesche, 
"which are closed prisons," had to pay four deniers ''pour place;" any 
one who was confined in the Beauvais, "lies on mats or on layers of rushes 
or straw" {gist sur nates on stir eouelte de feu r re ou de pa/Ik) ; if he preferred, 
he might be placed au Puis, in the Gourdaine, in the Bereueil, or in the 
Oubliette, where he did not pay more than in the Fosse. For this, no doubt, 
the smallest charge was made. Sometimes, however, the prisoner was left 
between two doors (" eutre deux huis "), and he then paid much less than he 
would in the Barbaric or in the Gloriette. The exact meaning of these curious 
names is no longer intelligible to us, notwithstanding the terror which they 
formerly created, but their very strangeness gives us reason to suppose that 
the prison system was at that time subjected to the most odious refinement of 
the basest cruelty. 

From various reliable sources we learn that there was a place in the 
Grand Chatelet, called the Chausse d'Hypocras, in which the prisoners 
had their feet continually in water, and where they could neither stand 
up nor lie down ; and a cell, called Fin d'aise, which was a horrible 
receptacle of filth, vermin, and reptiles ; as to the Fosse, no staircase 
being attached to it, the prisoners were lowered down into it by means 
of a rope and pulley. 

By the law of 1 425, the gaoler was not permitted to put more than two or 



three persons in the same bed. He was bound to give " bread and water" to 
the poor prisoners who had no means of subsistence; and, lastly, ho was 
enjoined " to keep the large stone basin, which was on the pavement, full of 
water, so that prisoners might get it whenever they wished." In order 
to defray his expenses, he levied on the prisoners various charges for 
attendance and for bedding, and lie was authorised to detain in prison 
any person who failed to pay him. The power of compelling payment 
of these charges continued even after a judge's order for the release of a 
prisoner had been issued. 

The subterranean cells of the Bastille (Fig. 3-14) did not differ much 


Fig. 'ill. — The Bastille.— From an ancient Engraving of the Topography of Paris, in tin 
Collection of Engravings of the National Library. 

from those of the Chatelet. There were several, the bottoms of which were 
formed like a sugar-loaf upside down, thus neither allowing the prisoner to 
stand up, nor even to adopt a. tolerable position sitting or lying down. 
It was in these that King Louis XL, who seemed to have a partiality for 
filthy dungeons, placed the two young sons of the Duke de Nemours 
(beheaded in 1477J, ordering, besides, that they should be taken out twice a 
week and beaten with birch rods, and, as a supreme measure of atrocity, he 
had one of their teeth extracted every three months. It was Louis XL, too, 
who, in 147ti, ordered the famous iron cage to be erected in one of the 
towers of the Bastille, in which Guillaume, Bishop of Verdun, was incar- 
cerated for fourteen vears. 

43 2 


The Chateau de Loches also possessed one of these cages, which received 
the name of Cage de Balue, because the Cardinal Jean de la Balue was 
imprisoned in it. Philippe de Commines, in his " Meruoires," declares 
that he himself had a taste of it for eight months. Before the invention 
of cages, Louis XL ordered very heavy chains to he made, which were 
fastened to the feet of the prisoners, and attached to large iron halls, 
called, according to Commines, the King's little daughters (les fillettes clu 

The prison known by the name of The Leads of Venice is of so notorious 
a character that its mere mention is sufficient, without its being necessary 
for us to describe it. To the subject of voluntary seclusions, to which 

Fig. 355. — ilovable Iron Cage. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie Universelle ' 
of Munster : in folio, Basle, 1552. 

certain pious persons submitted themselves as acts of extreme relio-ious 
devotion, it will only be necessary to allude here, and to remark that 
there are examples of this confinement having been ordered by legal 
authority. In 1485, Pence de Vermandois, the widow of a squire, bad 
been condemned to be burnt for adultery and for murdering her husband ; 
but, on letters of remission from the King, Parliament commuted the sentence 
pronounced by the Provost of Paris, and ordered that Pence de Vermandois 
should be " shut up within the walls of the cemetery of the Saints-Innocents, 
in a small house, built at her expense, that she might therein do penance and 
end her days." In conformity with this sentence, the culprit having been 
conducted with much pomp to the cell which had been prepared for her, the 
door was locked by means of two keys, one of which remained in the hands 



of the churchwarden (marguiUier) of the Church of the Innocents, and the 
other was deposited at the office of the Parliament. The prisoner received 
her food from public charity, and it is said that she became an ohject of 
veneration and respect by the whole town. 

X-'ir,. 356.— Cat-o' -nine-tails.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the 
" Cosmographie Universelle " of Munster. 

■'> K 


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.— Severity and vexatious Treatment of the Sovereigns.— The Jews of Lincoln.— The 
Jews of Blois.— Mission of the Pastoureaiix.— Extermination of the Jews.— The Price at which 
the Jews purchased Indulgences.— Maries set upon them —Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and 
Financial Aptitude of the Jews.— Regulations respecting Usury as practised hy the Jews.— 
Attachment of the Jews to their Religion. 

PAINFUL and gloomy history com- 
mences for the Jewish race from the 
day when the Romans seized upon 
Jerusalem and expelled its unfortu- 
nate inhabitants, a race so essentially 
homogeneous, strong, patient, and 
religious, and dating its origin from 
the remotest period of the patri- 
archal ages. The Jews, proud of the 
title of " the People of God," were 
scattered, proscribed, and received 
universal reprobation (Fig. 357), notwithstanding that their annals, collected 
under divine inspiration by 3Ioses and the sacred writers, had furnished a 
glorious prologue to the annals of all modern nations, and had given to the 
world the holy and divine history of Christ, who, bv establishing the Gospel, 
was to become the regenerator of the whole human family. 

Their Temple is destroyed, and the crowd which had once pressed beneath 
its portico as the flock of the living God has become a miserable tribe, rest- 
less and unquiet in the present, but full of hope as regards the future. The 
Jewish nation exists nowhere, nevertheless, the Jewish people are to be found 
everywhere. They are wanderers upon the face of the earth, continually 
pursued, threatened, and persecuted. It would seem as if the existence of 


43 5 

the offspring of Israel is perpetuated simply to present to Christian eyes a 
clear and awful warning of the Divine vengeance, a special, and at the same 

Fig. 357. — Expulsion of the Jews in the Reign of, the Emperor Hadrian (a. p. 135) : "How Heraelius 
turned the Jews out of Jerusalem." — Fac-eimile of a Miniature in the " Histoire dea Empereuis," 
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal, Paris. 

time an overwhelming example of the vicissitudes which God alone can 
determine in the life of a people. 

+ ,6 JEWS. 

M. Depping, an historian of this race so long accursed, after having been 
for centuries blessed and favoured by God, says, " A Jewish community in 
an European town during the Middle Ages resembled a colony on an island 
or on a distant coast. Isolated from the rest of the population, it generally 
occupied a district or street which was separated from the town or borough. 
The Jews, like a troop of lepers, were thrust away and huddled together into 
the most uncomfortable and most unhealthy quarter of the city, as miserable 
as it was disgusting. There, in ill-constructed houses, this poor and 
numerous population was amassed ; in some cases high walls enclosed the 
small and dark narrow streets of the quarter occupied by this branded 
race, which prevented its extension, though, at the same time, it often 
protected the inhabitants from the fury of the populace." 

In order to form a just appreciation of what the Jewish quarters 
were like in the mediaeval towns, one must visit the Ghetto of Rome or 
ancient Prague. The latter place especially has, in all respects, preserved 
its antique appearance. We must picture to ourselves a large enclosure of 
wretched houses, irregularly built, divided by small streets with no atttempt 
at uniformity. The principal thoroughfare is lined with stalls, in which are 
sold not only old clothes, furniture, and utensils, but also new and glittering 
articles. The inhabitants of this enclosure can, without crossing its limits, 
procure everything necessary to material life. This quarter contains the old 
synagogue, a square building begrimed with the dirt of ages, and so covered 
with dirt and moss that the stone of which it is built is scarcely visible. The 
building, which is as mournful as a prison, has only narrow loopholes by way 
of windows, and a door so low that one must stoop to enter it. A dark passage 
leads to the interior, into which air and light can scarcely penetrate. A few 
lamps contend with the darkness, and lighted fires serve to modify a little the 
icy temperature of this cellar. Here and there pillars seem to support a 
roof which is too high and too darkened for the eye of the visitor to 
distinguish. On the sides are dark and damp recesses, where women 
assist at the celebration of worship, which is always carried on, according 
to ancient custom, with much wailing and strange gestures of the body. 
The book of the law which is in use is no less venerable than the edifice in 
which it is contained. It appears that this synagogue has never under- 
gone the slightest repairs or changes for many centuries. The successive 
generations who have prayed in this ancient temple rest under thousands 



of sepulchral stones, in a cemetery which is of the- same date as the 
synagogue, and is about a league in circumference. 

Paris has never possessed, properly speaking, a regular Jewish quarter; 
it is true that the Israelites settled down in the neighbourhood of the 
markets, and in certain narrow streets, which at some period or other 
took the name of Juiverie or Vieille Juiverie {Old. Jewry) ; but they were 
never distinct from the rest of the population ; they only had a separate 
cemetery, at the bottom or rather on the slope of the hill of Sainte-Geneviewe. 
On the other hand, most of the towns of France and of Europe had their 
Jewry. In certain countries, the colonies of Jews enjoyed a share of immu- 
nities and protections, thus rendering their life a little less precarious, and 
their occupations of a rather more settled character. 

In Spain and in Portugal, the Jews, in consequence of their having been 
on several occasions useful to the kings of those two countries, were allowed 
to carry on their trade, and to engage in money speculations, outside their 
own epiarters ; a few were elevated to positions of responsibility, and some 
were even tolerated at court. 

In the southern towns of France, which they enriched by commerce and 
taxes, and where they formed considerable communities, the Jews enjoyed the 
protection of the nobles. We find them in Lauguedoc and Provence buying 
and selling property like Christians, a privilege which was not permitted to 
them elsewhere : this is proved by charters of contracts made during the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which bear the signature of certain Jews 
in Plebrew characters. On Papal lands, at Avignon, at Carpcutras, and at 
Cavaillon, they had bailes, or consuls of their nation. The Jews of 
Pousillon during the Spanish rule (fifteenth century) were governed by two 
syndics and a scribe, elected by the community. The latter levied the taxes 
due to the Eing of Aragon. In Burgundy they cultivated the vines, which 
was rather singular, for the Jews generally preferred towns where they could 
form groups more compact, and more capable of mutual assistance. The 
name of Sabath, given to a vineyard in the neighbourhood of Macon, still 
points out the position of their synagogue. The hamlet of Mouys, a 
dependency of the communes of Prissey, owes its name to a rich Israelite, 
Moses, who had received that land as an indemnity for money lent to the 
Count Gerfroy de Macon, which the latter had been unable to repay. In 
Vienna, where the Israelites had a special quarter, still called the Jetcx' 



Fig. 358.— Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children, for their Mystic Rites.— From a 
Pen-and-ink Drawing, illuminated, in the Book of the Cahala of Abraham the Jew (Library of 
the Arsenal, Paris). 

Square, a special judge named by the duke was set over them. Exempted 
from the city rates, they paid a special poll tax, and they contributed, but 
on the same footing as Christian vassals, to extraordinary rates, war taxes, 

JEWS. 4 39 

and travelling expenses of the nobles, &c. This community even became 
so rich that it eventually held mortgages on the greater pari of the houses 
of the town. 

In Venice also, the Jews had their quarter — the Oiudccca — which is still 
one of the darkest in the town; but they did nut much care about such 
trifling inconveniences, as the republic allowed them to bank, that is, to 
lend money at interest ; and although they were driven out on several 
occasions, they always found means to return and recommence their opera- 
tions. When they were authorised to establish themselves in the towns of 
the Adriatic, their presence did not tail to annoy the Christian merchants, 
whose rivals they were ; but neither in Venice nor in the Italian repub- 
lics had they to fear court intrigues, nor the hatred of corporations of trades, 
which were so powerful in France and in German v. 

It was in the north of Europe that the animosity against the .lews was 
greatest. The Christian population continually threatened the Jewish 
quarters, which public opinion pointed to as haunts and sinks of iniquity. 
The Jews were believed to be much more amenable to the doctrines of the 
Talmud than to the laws of Moses. However secret they may have kept 
their learning, a portion of its tenets transpired, which was supposed to incul- 
cate the right to pillage and murder Christians ; and it is to the vajme 
knowledge of these odious prescriptions of the Talmud that we must attribute 
the readiness with which the most atrocious accusations against the Jews 
were always welcomed. 

Besides this, the public mind in those days of bigotry was naturally 
filled with a deep antipathy against the Jewish deicides. "When monks and 
priests came annually in Holy week to relate from the pulpit to their hearers 
the revolting details of the Passion, resentment was kindled in the hearts of 
the Christians against the descendants of the judges and executioners of the 
Saviour. And when, on going out of the churches, excited by the sermons 
they had just heard, the faithful saw in pictures, in the cemeteries, and 
elsewhere, representations of the mystery of the death of our Saviour, 
in which the Jews played so odious a part, there was scarcely a. spec- 
tator who did not feel an increased hatred against the condemned race. 
Hence it was that in many towns, even when the authorities did not compel 
them to do so, the Israelites found it prudent to shut themselves up in their 
own quarter, and even in their own houses, during the whole of Passion week ; 



for, in consequence of the public feeling roused during those days of mourn- 
ing and penance, a false rumour was quite sufficient to give the people a 
pretext for offering violence to the Jews. 

In fact, from the earliest days of Christianity, a certain number of accu- 
sations were always being made, sometimes in one country, sometimes in 
another, against the Israelites, which always ended in bringing down the 
same misfortunes on their heads. The most common, and most easily 
credited report, was that which attributed to them the murder of some 
Christian child, said to be sacrificed in Passion week in token of their hatred 

Fig. 359. — Secret Meeting of the Jews at the Iiabbi's House. — Fac-simile of a Miniature of the 
' ' Pelerinage de la Vie Humaine,' ' Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the National Library 
of Paris. 

of Christ ; and in the event of this terrible accusation being once uttered, 
and maintained by popular opinion, it never failed to spread with remark- 
able swiftness. In such cases, popular fury, not being on all occasions 
satisfied with the tardiness of judicial forms, vented itself upon the first Jews 
who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of their enemies. As soon as 
the disturbance was heard the Jewish quarter was closed ; fathers and 
mothers barricaded themselves in with their children, concealed whatever 
riches they possessed, and listened tremblingly to the clamour of the multitude 
which was about to besiege them. 



In 1255, in Lincoln, the report was suddenly spread that a, child of the 
name of Hughes had been enticed into the Jewish quarter, and there scourged, 
crucified, and pierced with lances, in the presence of all the Israelites of the 
district, who were convoked and assembled to lake part in this horrible 
barbarity. The King and Queen of England, on their return from a journey 
to Scotland, arrived in Lincoln at the very time when the inhabitants were 
so much agitated by this mysterious announcement. The people called for 
vengeance. An order was issued to the bailiffs and officers of the King to 
deliver the murderer into the hands of justice, and the quarter in which 
the Jews had shut themselves up, so as to avoid the public animosity, was 
immediatelv invaded by armed men. The rabbi, in whose house the child 
was supposed to have been tortured, was seized, and at once condemned to be 
tied to the tail of a horse, and dragged through the streets of the town. 
After this, his mangled body, which was only half dead, was hung 
(Fig. 3-39). Many of the Jews ran away and hid themselves in all parts of 
the kingdom, and those who had the misfortune to be caught were thrown 
into chains and led to London. Orders were given in the provinces to 
imprison all the Israelites who were accused or even suspected of having taken 
any part, whether actively or indirectly, in the murder of the Lincoln child ; 
and suspicion made rapid strides in those days. In a. short space of time, 
eighteen Israelites in London shared the fate of the rabbi of their community 
in Lincoln. Some Dominican monks, who were charitable and courageous 
enough to interfere in favour of the wretched prisoners, brought down odium 
on their own heads, and were accused of having allowed themselves to be 
corrupted by the money of the Jews. Seventy- one prisoners were retained 
in the dungeons of London, and seemed inevitably fated to die, when the 
king's brother, Richard, came to their aid, by asserting his right over all the 
Jews of the kingdom— a right which the King had pledged to him for a 
loan of 5,000 silver marks. The unfortunate prisoners were therefore saved, 
thanks to Richard's desire to protect his securities. History does not tell 
what their liberty cost them ; but we must hope that a sense of justice alone 
guided the English prince, and that the Jews found other means besides 
money by which to show their gratitude. 

There is scarcely a country in Europe which cannot recount similar tales. 
In 1171, we find the murder of a child at Orleans, or Idols, causing capital 
punishment to be inflicted on several Jews. Imputations of this horriblo 

3 L 



character were continually renewed during the Middle Ages, and were of 
very ancient origin ; for we hear of them in the times of Ilonorius and 
Theodosius the younger ; we find them reproduced with equal vehemence 
in 1475 at Trent, where a furious mob was excited against the Jews, who 
were accused of having destroyed a child twenty-nine months old named 
Simon. The tale of the martyrdom of this child was circulated widely, and 
woodcut representations of it were freely distributed, which necessarily 

Fig. 360.— The Infant Richard crucified by the Jews, at Pontoise.— Fac-simile of a Woodcut, with 
Figures by Wohlgemuth, in the " Liber Chronicarum Mundi :" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493. 

increased, especially in Germany, the horror which was aroused in the minds 
of Christians against the accursed nation (Fig. 361). 

The Jews gave cause for other accusations calculated to keep up this 
hatred ; such as the desecration of the consecrated host, the mutilation of the 
crucifix. Tradition informs us of a miracle which took place in Paris in 1290, 
m the Rue des Jardins, when a Jew dared to mutilate and boil a consecrated 
host. This miracle was commemorated by the erection of a chapel on the 



spot, which was afterwards replaced by the church and convent ol the 
Billettes. In 1370, the people of Brussels were startled in consequence of 
the statements of a Jewess, who accused her co-religionists of having made 
her carry a pyx full of stolen hosts to the Jews of ( 'ologne, for the purpose of 

Fig. 361.-JIartyrdom of Sin.on at Trent--Fnc- S imile, reduced, of a Woodcut of Wohlgemuth, 
in the " Fil'er Chroniriirmn Mraidi :" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493. 

submitting them to the most horrible profanations. The woman added, that 
the Jews having pierced these hosts with sticks and knives, such a quantity 
of blood poured from them that the culprits were struck with terror, and 
ealed themselves in their quarter. The Jews were all imprisoned, 




tortured, and burnt alive (Fig. 362). In order to perpetuate the memory of 
the miracle of the bleeding hosts, an annual procession took ]3lace, which 
was the origin of the great kermesse, or annual fair. 

In the event of any unforeseen misfortune, or any great catastrophe 
occurring amongst Christians, the odium was frequently cast on the Jews. 
If the Crusaders met with reverses in Asia, fanatics formed themselves into 
bands, who, under the name of Pastoureaux, spread over the country, killing 
and robbing not only the Jews, but many Christians also. In the event of 

Fig. 362. — The Jews of Cologne "burnt alive.— From a Woodcut in the " Liher Chroniearum 
Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493. 

any general sickness, and especially during the prevalence of epidemics, the 
Jews were accused of having poisoned the water of fountains and pits, and 
the people massacred them in consequence. Thousands perished in this way 
when the black plague made ravages in Europe in the fourteenth century. 
The sovereigns, wdio were tardy in suppressing these sanguinary proceedings, 
never thought of indemnifying the Jewish families which so unjustly 

In fact, it was then most religiously believed that, by despising and 

JEWS. 445 

holding the Jewish nation under the yoke, banished as it was from Judcea 
for the murder of Jesus Christ, the will of the Almighty was being 
carried out, so much so that the greater number of kings and princes 
looked upon themselves as absolute masters over the Jews who lived under 
their protection. All feudal lords spoke with scorn of their Jews; they 
allowed them to establish themselves on their lands, bat on the condition 
that as they became the subjects and property of their lord, the latter should 
draw his best income from them. 

We have shown by an instance borrowed from the history of England that 
the Jews were often mortgaged by the kings like land. This was not all, for 
the Jews who inhabited Great Britain during the reign of Henry III., in the 
middle of the thirteenth century, were not only obliged to acknowledge, by 
voluntarily contributing large sums of money, the service the King's brother 
had rendered them in clearing them from the imputation of having had any 
participation in the murder of the child Richard, but the loan on mortgage, 
for which they were the material and passive security, became the cause of 
odious extortions from them. The King had pledged them to the Earl of 
Cornwall for 5,000 marks, but they themselves had to repay the royal loan 
by means of enormous taxes. When they had succeeded in cancelling the 
King's debt to his brother, that necessitous monarch again mortgaged them, 
but on this occasion to his son Edward. Soon after, the son having rebelled 
against his father, the latter took back his Jews, and, having assembled six 
elders from each of their communities, he told them that he required 
20,000 silver marks, and ordered them to pay him that sum at two stated 
periods. The payments were rigorously exacted ; those who were behind- 
hand were imprisoned, and the debtor who was in arrear for the second 
payment was sued for the whole sum. On the King's death his successor 
continued the same system of tyranny against the Jews. In 1279 they were 
charged with having issued counterfeit coin, and on this vague or imaginary 
accusation two hundred and eighty men and women were put to death in 
London alone. In the counties there were also numerous executions, and 
many innocent persons were thrown into dungeons ; and, at last, in 1290 
King Edward, who wished to enrich himself by taking possession of their 
properties, banished the Jews from his kingdom. A short time before 
this, the English people had offered to pay an annual fine to the King on 
condition of his expelling the Jews from the country ; but the Jews outbid 



them, and thus obtained the repeal of the edict of banishment. However, on 
this last occasion there was no mere}' shown, and the Jews, sixteen thousand 
in number, were expelled from England, and the King seized upon their 


At the same period Philippe le Bel of France gave the example of this 
system of persecuting the Jews, but, instead of confiscating all their goods, 
he was satisfied with taking one-fifth; his subjects, therefore, almost accused 

him of generosity. 

The Jews often took the precaution of purchasing certain rights and 

Fig. 36S. — Jewish Conspiracy in France. — From a Miniature in the " Pelerinage de la Vie 
Humaine " (Imperial Library, Paris). 

franchises from their sovereign or from the feudal lord under whose sway 
they lived ; but generally these were one-sided bargains, for not being pro- 
tected by common rights, and only forming a very small part of the popu- 
lation, they could nowhere depend upon promises or privileges which had 
been made to them, even though they had purchased them with their own 

To the uncertainty and annoyance of a life which was continually being 
threatened, was added a number of vexatious and personal insults, even m 
ordinary times, and when they enjoyed a kind of normal tolerance. They 

JEWS. +47 

were almost everywhere obliged to wear a visible mark on their dress, such as 
a patch of gaudy colour attached to the shoulder or chest, in order to prevent 
their being mistaken for Christians. By this or some other means they were 
continually subject to insults from the people, and only succeeded in ridding 
themselves of it by paying the most enormous fines. Nothing was spared 
to humiliate and insult them. At Toulouse they were forced to send a repre- 
sentative to the cathedral on every Good Friday, that he might there publicly 
receive a box on the ears. At Beziers, during Passion week, the mob 
assumed the right of attacking the Jews' houses with stones. The Jews 
bought off this right in 1160 by paying a certain sum to the Vicomte de 
Beziers, and by promising an annual poll-tax to him and to his successors. 
A Jew, passing on the road of Etampes, beneath the tower of Montlhery, had 
to pay an obole ; if he had in his possession a Hebrew book, he paid four 
deniers ; and, if he carried his lamp with him, two oboles. At Chateauneuf- 
sur-Loire a Jew on passing had to pay twelve deniers and a Jewess six. It 
has been said that there were various ancient rates levied upon Jews, in which 
they were treated like cattle, but this requires authentication. During the 
Carnival in Borne they were forced to run in the lists, amidst the jeers of 
the populace. This public outrage was stopped at a subsequent period by 
a tax of 300 ecus, which a deputation from the Ghetto presented on their 
knees to the magistrates of the city, at the same time thanking them for 
their protection. 

When Pope Martin IV. arrived at the Council of Constance, in 1417, the 
Jewish community, which was as numerous as it was powerful in that old 
city, came in great state to present him with the book of the law (Fig. 364). 
The holy father received the Jews kindly, and prayed God to open their eyes 
and bring them back into the bosom of his church. We know, too, how 
charitable the popes were to the Jews. 

In the face of the distressing position they occupied, it may be asked 
what powerful motive induced the Jews to live amongst nations who almost 
invariably treated them as enemies, and to remain at the mercy of sovereigns 
whose sole object was to oppress, plunder, and subject them to all kinds of 
vexations ? To understand this it is sufficient to remember that, in their 
peculiar aptness for earning and hoarding money, they found, or at least 
hoped to find, a means of compensation whereby they might be led to forget 
the servitude to which they were subjected. 



There existed amongst them, and especially in the southern countries, 
some very learned men, who devoted themselves principally to medicine ; and 
in order to avoid having to struggle against insuperable prejudice, they were 
careful to disguise their nationality and religion in the exercise of that art. 

Fig. 364.— The Jewish Procession going to meet the Tope at the Council of Constance,. in 1417.— 
After a Miniature in the Manuscript Chronicle of ITlric de Reichental, in the Library of the 
Mansion-house of Basle, in Switzerland. 

They pretended, in order not to arouse the suspicion of their patients, to be 
practitioners from Lombardy or Spain, or even from Arabia ; whether they 
were really clever, or only made a pretence of being so, in an art which was 
then very much a compound of quackery and imposture, it is difficult to say, 

JEWS. w 

but they acquired wealth as well as renown in its practice. But there was 
another science, to the study of wliich they applied themselves with the 
utmost ardour and perseverance, and tor which they possessed in a mar- 
vellous degree the necessary qualities to insure success, and that science was 
the science of finance. In matters having reference to the recovering of arrears 
of taxes, to contracts for the sale of goods and produce of industry, to turning 
a royalty to account, to making hazardous commercial enterprises lucrative, 
or to the accumulating of large sums of money for the use of sovereigns or 
poor nobles, the Jews were always at hand, and might invariably be reckoned 
upon. They created capital, for they always bad funds to dispose of, even 
in the midst of the most terrible public calamities, and, when all other 
means were exhausted, when all expedients for filling empty purses had 
been resorted to without success, the Jews were called in. Often, in con- 
sequence of the envy which they excited from being known to possess hoards 
of gold, they were exposed to many dangers, whieb they nevertheless faced, 
buoving themselves up with the insatiable love of gain. 

Few Christians in the Middle Ages were given to speculation, and they 
were especially ignorant of financial matters, as demanding interest on loans 
was almost always looked upon as usury, and, consequently, such dealings 
were stigmatized as disgraceful. The Jews were far from sharing these high- 
minded scruples, and they took advantage of the ignorance of Christians by 
devoting themselves as much as possible to enterprises and speculations, 
which were at all times the distinguishing occupation of their race. For this 
reason we find the Jews, who were engaged in the export trade from the 
twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, doing a most excellent business, even in the 
commercial towns of the Mediterranean. We can, to a certain extent, m 
speaking of the intercourse of the Jews with the Christians of the Middle 
Ages, apply what Lady Montague remarked as late as 1717, when com- 
paring the Jews of Turkey with the Mussulmans: " The former," she says, 
"have monopolized all the commerce of the empire, thanks to the close 
ties which exist amongst them, and to the laziness and want of industry of 
the Turks. No bargain is made without their connivance. They arc the 
physicians and stewards of all the nobility. It is easy to conceive the 
unity which this gives to a nation which never despises the smallest 
profits. They have found means of rendering themselves so useful, that 
they are certain of protection at court, whoever the ruling minister may 

■ > M 



he. Many of them are enormously rich, but they are careful to make but 
little outward display, although living in the greatest possible luxury." 

The condition of the Jews in the East was never so precarious nor so 

Fig. 365.— Costume of an Italian Jew of the Fourteenth Century.— From a Painting by Sano di 
Pietro, preserved in the Academy of the Fine Arts, at Sienna. 

difficult as it was in the West. From the Councils of Paris, in 615, down 
to the end of the fifteenth century, the nobles and the civil and ecclesias- 
tical authorities excluded the Jews from administrative positions; but it 
continually happened that a positive want of money, against which the Jews 


Fac-simile of a miniature from a missel ol' fifteenth ivntuiS ornamented vi'li paintings 

of tlic School of Van liytk. 
Bibl. do 1' Arsenal, Th. Int., n° J09. 



were over ready to provide, caused a repeal or modification of these arbitrary 
measures. Moreover, Christians did not feel any scruple in parting with their 
most valued treasures, and giving (hem as pledges to the Jews for a loan 
of money when they were in need of it. This plan of lending on pledge, or 
usury, belonged specially to the Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages, 
and was both the cause of their prosperity and of their misfortune. Of 
their prosperity, because they cleverly contrived to become possessors of all 
the coin ; and of their misfortune, because their usurious demands became so 
detrimental to the public welfare, and were often exacted with such unscru- 
pulous severity, that people not unfrequently became exasperated, and acts of 
violence were committed, which as often fell upon the innocent as upon the 
guilty. The greater number of the acts of banishment were those for which 
no other motive was assigned, or, at all events, no other pretext was made, 
than the usury practised by these strangers in the provinces and in the 
towns in which they were permitted to reside. "V\ nen the Christians heard 
that these rapacious guests had harshly pressed and entirely stripped certain 
poor debtors, when they learned that the debtors, ruined by usury, were still 
kept prisoners in the houses of their pitiless creditors, general indignation 
often manifested itself by personal attacks. This feeling was frequently 
shared by the authorities themselves, who, instead of dispensing equal justice 
to the strangers and to the citizens, according to the spirit of the law, often 
decided with partiality, and even with resentment, and in some cases 
abandoned the Jews to the liny of the people. 

The people's feelings of hatred against the sordid avarice of the Jews 
was continually kept up by ballads which were sung, and legends which 
were related, in the public streets of the cities and in the cottages of the 
villages — ballads and legends in which usurers were depicted in hideous 
colours (Fig. 366). The most celebrated of these popular compositions was 
evidently that which must have furnished the idea to Shakespeare of the 
Merchant of Venice, for in tin's old English drama mention is made of a 
bargain struck between a Jew and a Christian, who borrows money of him, 
on condition that, if he cannot refund it on a certain day, the lender shall 
have the right of cutting a. pound of flesh from his body. All the evil 
which the people said and thought of the Jews during the Middle Ages 
seems concentrated in the Sbylock of the English poet. 

The rate of interest for loans was, nevertheless, everywhere settled by law, 

45 2 


and at all times. This rate varied according to the scarcity of gold, and was 
always high enough to give a very ample profit to the lenders, although they 
too often required a very much higher rate. In truth, the small security 
ottered by those borrowing, and the arbitrary manner in which debts were 
at times cancelled, increased the risks of the lender and the normal diffi- 
culties of obtaining a loan. We find everywhere, in all ancient legislations, 
a mass of rules on the rate of pecuniary interest to be allowed to the Jews. 

Fig. 366. — Legend of the Jew calling the Devil from a Vessel of Blood. — Far-simile of a Woodcut 
in Boaistuau's " Histoires Prodigieuses :" in 4to, Paris, Annet Briere, 1560. 

In some countries, especially in England, precautionary measures were taken 
for regulating the compacts entered into between Christians and Jews. 
One of the departments of the Exchequer received the register of these 
compacts, which thus acquired a legal value. However, it was not un- 
frequent for the kings of England to grant, of their own free will, letters of 
release to persons owing money to Jews ; and these letters, which were often 
equivalent to the cancelling of the entire debt, were even at times actually 



purchased from the sovereign. Mention of sums received by the royal 
treasury for the liberation of debtors, or for enabling them to recover their 
mortgaged lands without payment, may still bo found in the registers of the 
Exchequer of London ; at the same time, Jews, on the other hand, also paid 
the King large sums, in order that lie might allow justice to take its course 
against powerful debtors who were in arrear, and who could not be induced 
to pay. We thus see that if the Jews practised usury, the Christians, and 


l"" YjT LJglB -.'-' ' 

Wn'* I te^ : 



^1 S^m 

Fig. 367. — View and Plan of Jerusalem. — Fm-simile of a Woodcut in tin 
Mundi :" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493. 

■ Liber Chroniearum 

especially kings and powerful nobles, defrauded the Jews in every way, and 
were too often disposed to sell to them the smallest concessions at a great 
price. Indeed, Christians often went so far as to persecute them, in order to 
obtain the greatest possible amount from them ; and the Jews of the Middle 
Ages put up with anything provided they could enrich themselves. 

It must not be supposed, however, that, great as were their capabilities, 
the Jews exclusively devoted themselves to financial matters. When they 

45+ JEWS. 

were permitted to trade they were well satisfied to become artisans or agricul- 
turists. In Spain they proved themselves most industrious, and that kingdom 
suffered a great loss in consequence of their being expelled from it. In 
whatever country they established themselves, the Jews carried on most of 
the mechanical and manual industries with cleverness and success ; but they 
could not hope to become landed proprietors in countries where they were in 
such bad odour, and where the possession of land, far from offering them any 
security, could not fail to excite the envy of their enemies. 

If, as is the case, Oriental people are of a serious turn of mind, it is 
easy to understand that the Jews should have been still more so, since they 
were always objects of hatred and abhorrence. We find a touching allegory 
in the Talmud. Each time that a human being is created God orders his 
angels to bring a soul before his throne, and orders this soul to go and 
inhabit the body which is about to be bom on earth. The soul is grieved, 
and supplicates the Supreme Being to spare it that painful trial, in which it 
only sees sorrow and affliction. This allegory may be suitably applied to a 
people who have only to expect contempt, mistrust, and hatred, everywhere. 
The Israelites, therefore, clung enthusiastically to the hope of the advent of a 
Messiah who should bring back to them the happy days of the land of 
promise, and they looked upon their absence from Palestine as only a passing 
exile. "But," the Christians said to them, "this Messiah has Ions' since 
come." "Alas!" they answered, "if He had appeared on earth should we 
still be miserable ?" Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres, preached three sermons to 
undeceive the Jews, by endeavouring to prove to them that their Messiah was 
no other than Jesus Christ ; but he preached to the winds, for the Jews remained 
obstinately attached to their illusion that the Messiah was yet to come. 

In any ease, the Jews, who mixed up the mysteries and absurdities of the 
Talmud with the ancient laws and numerous rules of the religion of their 
ancestors, found in the practice of their national customs, and in the celebra- 
tion of their mysterious ceremonies, the sweetest emotions, especially when 
they could devote themselves to them in the peaceful retirement of the 
Ghetto ; for, in all the countries in which they lived scattered and isolated 
amongst Christians, they were careful to conceal their worship and to 
conduct their ceremonial as secretly as possible. 

The clergy, in striving to convert the Jews, repeatedly had conferences 
with the rabbis of a controversial character, which often led to quarrels, and 

/ f:\vs. 


aggravated the lot of the Jewish community. If Catholic proselytism suc- 
ceeded in completely detaching a few individuals or a few families; from the 
Israelitish creed, these ardent converts rekindled the horror of the people 
against their former co-religionists by revealing some of the precepts of the 
Talmud. Sometimes the conversion of whole masses of Jews was effected, 
but this happened much less through conviction on their part than through 
the fear of exile, plunder, or execution. 

These pretended conversions, however, did not always protect them from 
clanger. In Spain the Inquisition kept a close watch on converted Jews, 
and, if they were not true to their new faith, severe punishment was inflicted 
upon them. In 1506, the inhabitants of Abrantes, a town of Portugal, 
massacred all the baptized Jews. Manoel, a king of Portugal, forbad the 
converts from selling their goods and leaving his dominions. The Church 
excluded them from ecclesiastical dignities, and, when they succeeded in 
obtaining civil employments, they were received with distrust. In France 
the Parliaments tried, with a show of justice, to prevent converted Jews from 
being reproached for their former condition ; but Louis XII., during his 
pressing wants, did not scruple to exact a special tax from them. And, in 
1611, we again find that they were unjustly denounced, and under the form of 
a Remonstrance to f/tr King and the Parliament of Provence, on account of the 
great family alliances of the new concerts, an appeal was made for the most 
cruel reprisals against this unfortunate race, " which deserved only to be 
banished and their goods confiscated." 

308.— Jewish Ceremony before the Ark.— Fac-simile of a 
Woodcut printed at Troves. 



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. 

N the year 1417, the inhabitants of 
the countries situated near the mouth 
of the Elbe were disturbed by the 
arrival of strangers, whose manners 
and appearance were far from pre- 
possessing. These strange travellers 
took a course thence towards the 
Teutonic Hanse, starting from Lune- 
burg : they subsequently proceeded 
to Hamburg, and then, going from 
east to west along the Baltic, they 
visited the free towns of Lubeck, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, and 

These new visitors, known in Europe under the names of Zinc/art, Cigani, 
Gipsies, Gitanos, Egyptians, or Bohemians, but who, in their own language, 
called themselves Rami, or gens manes, numbered about three hundred men 
and women, besides the children, who were very numerous. They divided 
themselves into seven bands, all of which followed the same track. Very 
dirty, excessively ugly, and remarkable for their dark complexions, these 
people had for their leaders a duke and a count, as the}' were called, who 
were superbly dressed, and to whom the}' acknowledged allegiance. Some of 


45 7 

them rode on horseback, whilst others went on foot. The women and 
children travelled on beasts of burden and in waggons (Fi°-. 369). If we 

Fig. 3G9 — Gipsies on the March. — Fifteenth Century Piece of ol 
d'Effiat, contributed by 31. A. Jubinal 

ild Tapestry in the Chateau 

are to believe 
to Paganism 

their own story, their wandering life was caused by their return 
after having been previously converted to the Christian faith, 
3 N 


and, as a punishment for their sin, they were to continue their adventurous 
course for a period of seven years. They showed letters of recommendation 
from various princes, among others from Sigismund, King of the Romans, 
and these letters, whether authentic or false, procured for them a welcome 
wherever they went. They encamped in the fields at night, because the 
habit they indulged in of stealing everything for which they had a fancy, 
caused them to fear being disturbed in the towns. It was not long, however, 
before many of them were arrested and put to death for theft, when the rest 
speedily decamped. 

In the course of the following year we find them at Meissen, in Saxony, 
whence they were driven out on account of the robberies and disturbances 
they committed ; and then in Switzerland, where they passed through the 
countries of the Grrisons, the cantons of Appenzell, and Zurich, stopping in 
Argovie. Chroniclers who mention them at that time speak of their chief, 
Michel, as Duke of Egvpt, and relate that these strangers, calling themselves 
Egyptians, pretended that they were driven from their country by the 
Sultan of Turkey, and condemned to wander for seven years in want and 
misery. These chroniclers add that they were very honest people, who 
scupulously followed all the practices of the Christian religion ; that they 
were poorly clad, but that they had gold and silver in abundance ; that they 
lived well, and paid for everything they had ; and that, at the end of seven 
years, the}' went away to return home, as they said. However, whether 
because a considerable number remained on the road, or because they had 
been reinforced by others of the same tribe during the year, a troop of fifty 
men, accompanied by a number of hideous women and filthy children, made 
their appearance in the neighbourhood of Augsburg. These vagabonds gave 
out that they were exiles from Lower Egypt, and pretended to know the art 
of predicting coming events. It was soon found out that they were much 
less versed in divination and in the occult sciences than in the arts of 
plundering, roguery, and cheating. 

In the following year a similar horde, calling themselves Saracens, 
appeared at Sisteron, in Provence ; and on the 18th of July, 1422, a 
chronicler of Bologna mentions the arrival in that town of a troop of 
foreigners, commanded by a certain Andre, Duke of Egypt, and composed of 
at least one hundred persons, including women and children. They 
encamped inside and outside the gate di Galiem with the exception of the 




duke, who lodged at the inn del Re. During the fifteen days which they 
spent at Bologna a number of the people of the town wont to see them, and 
especially to see " the wife of the duke," who, it was said, knew how to 
foretell future events, and to tell what was to happen to people, what their 
fortunes would be, the number of their children, if they were good or bad, 
and many other things (Fig. 370). Few men, however, left the house of the 
so-called Duke of Egypt without having their purses stolen, and but few 
women escaped without having the skirts of their dresses cut. The Egyptian 

Fig. 370, — Gipsies Fortune- telling. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Gosmographie Universelle ' 

of Minister : in folio, Basle, 1552. 

women walked about the town in groups of six or seven, and whilst some were 
talking to the townspeople, telling them their fortunes, or bartering in shops, 
one of their number would lay her hands on anything which was within reach. 
So many robberies were committed in this way, that the magistrates of the 
town and the ecclesiastical authorities forbad the inhabitants from visiting 
the Egyptians' camp, or from having any intercourse with them, under 
penalty of excommunication and of a tine of fifty livres. Besides this, 
by a strange application of the laws of retaliation, those who had been 


robbed by these foreigners were permitted to rob them to the extent of the 
value of the things stolen. In consequence of this, the Bolognians entered a 
stable in which several of the Egyptians' horses were kept, and took out one 
of the finest of them. In order to recover him the Egyptians agreed to 
restore what they had taken, and the restitution was made. But perceivino- 
that they could no longer do any good for themselves in this jnrovince, they 
struck their tents and started for Borne, to which city they said they were 
bound to go, not only in order to accomplish a pilgrimage imposed upon 
them by the Sultan, who had expelled them from their own land, but 
especially to obtain letters of absolution from the IIolv Father. 

In 1422 the band left Italy, and we find them at Basle and in Suabia. 
Then, besides the imperial passports, of which they had up to that time 
alone boasted, they pretended to have in their possession bulls which they 
stated that they had obtained from the Bopo. They also modified their 
original tale, and stated that they were descendants of the Egyptians who 
refused hospitality to the Holy Virgin and to St. Joseph during their flight 
into Egypt : they also declared that, in consequence of this crime, God had 
doomed their race to perpetual misery and exile. 

Five years later we find them in the neighbourhood of Paris. " The 
Sunday after the middle of August," says "The Journal of a Bourgeois of 
Paris," "there came to Paris twelve so-called pilgrims, that is to say, a 
duke, a count, and ten men, all on horseback; they said that they were very 
good Christians, and that they came from Lower Egypt ; . . . . and on the 
29th of August, the anniversary of the beheading of St. John, the rest of 
the band made their appearance. These, however, were not allowed to enter 
Paris, but, by order of the provost, were lodged in the Chapel of St. Benis. 
They did not number more than one hundred and twenty, including women 
and children. They stated that, when they left their own country, they 
numbered from a thousand to twelve hundred, but that the rest had died on 

tllc roacl Whilst they were at the chapel never was such a concourse 

of people collected, even at the blessing of the fair of Bandit, as went from 
Paris, St. Benis, and elsewhere, to see these strangers. Almost all of them 
had their ears pierced, and in each one or two silver rings, which in their 
country, they said, was a, mark of nobility. The men were very swarthy, 
with curly hair ; the women were very ugly, and extremely dark, with long 
black hair like a horse's tail ; their only garment being an old rug tied 


4b 1 

round the shoulder by a strip of cloth or a bit of rope (Fig. 371). Amongst 
them were several fortune-tellers, who, by looking into people's hands, told 
them what had happened or what was to happen to them, and by this 
means often did a good deal to sow discord in families. What was worse, 
either by magic, by Satanic agency, or by sleight of hand, they managed 

to empty people's purses whilst talking to them So, at least, every 

one said. At last accounts respecting them reached the ears of the Bishop 
of Paris. He went to them with a Franciscan friar, called Lo Petit 
Jacobin, who, by the bishop's order, delivered an earnest address to them, 
and excommunicated all those who had anything to do with them, or who 

Fig. 371. — A Gipsy Family. — Fao-aimile of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie Univorsellc ' 
of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552. 

had their fortunes told, lie further advised the gipsies to go away, and, 
on the festival of Notre-Dame, they departed for Pontoise." 

Here, again, the gipsies somewhat varied their story. They said that 
they were originally Christians ; hut that, in consequence of an invasion by 
the Saracens, they had been forced to renounce their religion ; that, at a 
subsequent period, powerful monarchs had come to free them from the 
yoke of the infidels, and had decreed that, as a punishment to them for 
having renounced the Christian faith, they should not be allowed to 
return to their country before they had obtained permission from the Pope. 
They stated that the Holy Father, to whom they had gone to confess their 
sins, had then ordered them to wander about the world for seven years, 


without sleeping in beds, at the same time giving direction to every bishop 
and every priest "whom they met to offer them ten livres ; a direction which 
the abbots and bishops were in no hurry to obey. These strange pilgrims 
stated that they had been only rive years on the road when they arrived in 

Enough has been said to show that, although the object of their lono- 
pilgrimage was ostensibly a pious one, the Egyptians or gipsies were not 
very slow in giving to the people whom they visited a true estimate of their 
questionable honesty, and we do not think it would be particularly interesting 
to follow step by step the track of this odious band, which from this period 
made its appearance sometimes in one country and sometimes in another, not 
only in the north but in the south, and especially in the centre of Europe. 
Suffice it to say that their quarrels with the authorities, or the inhabitants of 
the countries which had the misfortune to be periodically visited by tbem, 
have left numerous traces in history. 

On the 7th of November, 1453, from sixty to eighty gipsies, coming from 
Courtisolles, arrived at the entrance of the town of Cheppe, near Chalons- 
sur-Marne. The strangers, many of whom carried "javelins, darts, and 
other implements of war," having asked for hospitality, the mayor of the 
town informed them " that it was not long since some of the same company, 
or others very like them, had been lodged in the town, and had been guilty 
of various acts of theft." The gipsies persisted in their demands, the indig- 
nation of the people was aroused, and they were soon obliged to resume their 
journey. During their unwilling retreat, they were pursued by many of the 
inhabitants of the town, one of whom killed a gipsy named Martin de la 
Barre : the murderer, however, obtained the King's pardon. 

In 1532, at Plempalais, a suburb of Geneva, some rascals from among a 
band of gipsies, consisting of upwards of three hundred in number, fell upon 
several of the officers who were stationed to prevent their entering the town. 
The citizens hurried up to the scene of disturbance. The gipsies retired to 
the monastery of the Augustin friars, in which they fortified themselves : the 
bourgeois besieged them, and would have committed summary justice on 
them, but the authorities interfered, and some twenty of the vagrants were 
arrested, but they sued for mercy, and were discharged. 

In 1632, the inhabitants of Viarme, in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne, 
made an onslaught upon a troop of gipsies who wanted to take up their 


quarters in that town. The whole of them were killed, with the exception 
of their chief, who was taken prisoner and brought before the Parliament of 
Bordeaux, and ordered to be hung-. Twenty-one years before this, the 
mayor and magistrates of Bordeaux gave orders to the soldiers of the watch 
to arrest a gipsy chief, who, having shut himself up in the tower of Yeyrines, 
at Merignac, ransacked the surrounding country. * >n the 21st of July, 1622, 
the same magistrates ordered the gipsies to leave the parish of Eysines within 
twenty- four hours, under penalty of the lash. 

It was not often that the gipsies used violence or openly resisted authority ; 
they more freopiently had recourse to artifice and cunning in order to attain 
their end. A certain Captain Charles acquired a great reputation amongst 
them for the clever trickeries which he continually conceived, and which his 
troop undertook to carry out. A chronicler of the time says, that by means 
of certain herbs which he gave to a half-starved horse, he made him into a 
fat and sleek animal ; the horse was then sold at one of the neighbouring 
fairs or markets, but the purchaser detected the fraud within a week, for the 
horse soon became thin again, and usually sickened and died. 

Tallemant des Beaux relates that, on one occasion, Captain Charles and 
his attendants took up their quarters in a village, the cure of which being 
rich and parsimonious, was much disliked by his parishioners. The cure 
never left his house, and the gipsies could not, therefore, get an opportunity 
to rob him. In this difficulty, they pretended that one of them had com- 
mitted a crime, and had been condemned to be hung a quarter of a league 
from the village, where they betook themselves with all their goods. The 
man, at the foot of the gibbet, asked for a confessor, and they went to fetch 
the cure. He, at first, refused to go, hut his parishioners compelled him. 
During his absence some gipsies entered his house, took five hundred ecus 
from his strong box, and quickly rejoined the troop. As soon as the rascal 
saw them returning, he said that he appealed to the king of la petite 
Egypte, upon which the captain exclaimed, "Ah! the traitor! I expected 
he would appeal." Immediately they packed up, secured the prisoner, and 
were far enough away from the scene before the cure re-entered his house. 

Tallemant relates another good trick. Near Boye, in Picardy, a gipsy 
who had stolen a sheep offered it to a butcher for one hundred sous (about 
sixty francs of our money), but the butcher declined to give more than four 
livres for it. The butcher then went away; whereupon the gipsy pulled the 



sheep from a sack into which he had put it, and substituted for it a child 
helono-ino' to his tribe. He then ran after the butcher, and said, " Give me 
five livres, and you shall have the sack into the bargain." The butcher paid 
him the money, and went away. When he got home he opened the sack, 
and was much astonished when he saw a little boy jump out of it, who, in 
an instant, caught up the sack and ran off. " Never was a poor man so 
thoroughly hoaxed as this butcher," says Tallemant des Reaux. 

The gipsies had thousands of other tricks in stock as good as the ones 
we have just related, hi proof of which we have but to refer to the testimony 
of one of their own tribe, who, under the name of Peehon do Ruby, published, 
towards the close of the sixteenth century, " La Vie Genereuse des Mattois, 
Gueux, Bohemiens et Cagoux." " When they want to leave a place where 
they have been stopping, they set out in an opposite direction to that in 
wdiich they are going, and after travelling about half a league they take 
their right course. They possess the best and most accurate maps, in which 
are laid down not only all the towns, villages, and rivers, but also the houses 
of the gentry and others ; and they fix upon places of rendezvous every ten 

days, at twenty leagues from the point from whence they set out The 

captain hands over to each of the chiefs three or four families to take charge 
of, and these small bands take different cross-roads towards the place of 
rendezvous. Those who are well armed and mounted he sends off with a 
good almanac, on which are marked all the fairs, and they continually 
change their dress and their horses. When they take up their quarters in 
any village they steal very little in its immediate vicinity, but in the 
neighbouring parishes they rob and plunder in the most daring manner. 
If they find a sum of money they give notice to the captain, and make a 
rapid flight from the place. They coin counterfeit money, and put it into 
circulation. They play at all sorts of games ; they buy all sorts of horses, 
whether sound or unsound, provided they can manage to pay for them in 
their own base coin. When they buy food they pay for it in good money 
the first time, as they are held in such distrust ; but, when they are about to 
leave a neighbourhood, they again buy something, for which they tender 
false coin, receiving the change in good money. In harvest time all doors 
are shut against them ; nevertheless they contrive, by means of picklocks 
and other instruments, to effect an entrance into houses, when they steal 
linen, cloaks, silver, and any other movable article which they can lay their 



4 6 5 

hands on. They give a strict account of everything- to their captain, who 
takes his share of all they get, except of what they earn by fortune- 
telling. They are very clever at making a good bargain; when they know 
of a rich merchant being in the place, they disguise themselves, enter into 
communications with him, and swindle him after which they change 

^5 f_2^gg 

Fig. 373. -The Gipsy who used to wash his Hands in Molten Lead.— Fac-aimile of a Woodcut 
in the " Histoires Jlerveilleusea " of Pierre Boaistnau : in J to, 1560. 

their clothes, have their horses shod the reverse way, and the shoes covered 
with some soft material lest they should lie heard, and gallop away." 

In the "Histoire Generate des Larrons" we read that the vagabonds called 
gipsies sometimes played tricks with goblets, sometimes danced on the tight- 
rope, turned double somersaults, and performed other feats (Fig. 373), which 
proves that these adventurers adopted all kinds of methods of gaining a live- 
lihood, highway robbery not excepted. We must not, therefore, be surprised 



if in almost all countries very severe police measures were taken against this 
dangerous race, though we must admit that these measures sometimes partook 
of a barbarous character. 

After having forbidden them, with a threat of six years at the galleys, 
to sojourn in Spain, Charles Y. ordered them to leave Flanders under penalty 
of death. In 1545, a gipsy who had infringed the sentence of banishment 
was condemned by the Court of Utrecht to be flogged till the blood appeared, 
to have his nostrils slit, his hair removed, his beard shaved off, and to be 
banished for life. "We can form some idea," says the German historian 
Grellman, " of the miserable condition of the gipsies from the following 
facts : many of them, and especially the women, have been burned by their 
own request, in order to end their miserable state of existence ; and we can 
give the case of a gipsy who, having been arrested, flogged, and conducted 
to the frontier, with the threat that if he re-appeared in the country he 
would be hanged, resolutely returned after three successive and similar 
threats, at three different places, and implored that the capital sentence 
might be carried out, in order that he might be released from a life of such 
misery. These unfortunate people," continues the historian, "were not even 
looked upon as human beings, for during a hunting party, consisting of 
members of a small German court, the huntsmen had no scruple whatever in 
killing a gipsy woman who was suckling her child, just as they would have 
done any wild beast which came in their way." 

M. Francisque Michel says, " Amongst the questions which arise from 
a consideration of the existence of this remarkable people, is one which, 
although neglected, is nevertheless of considerable interest, namely, how, with 
a strange language, unlike any used in Europe, the gipsies could make them- 
selves understood by the people amongst whom they made their appearance 
for the first time : newly arrived in the west, the)' could have none of 
those interpreters who are only to be found amongst a long-established 
people, and who have political and commercial intercourse with other 
nations. Where, then, did the gipsies obtain interpreters? The answer 
seems to us to be clear. Receiving into their ranks all those whom crime, 
the fear of punishment, an uneasy conscience, or the charm of a roaming life, 
continually threw in their path, they made use of them cither to find their 
way into countries of which they were ignorant, or to commit robberies 
which would otherwise have been impracticable. Themselves adepts in all 



sorts of bad practices, they were nut slow to form an alliance with profli- 
gate characters who sometimes worked in concert with them, and sometimes 
alone, and who always framed the model for their own organization from that 
of the gipsies.'' 

This alliance — governed by statutes, the honour of compiling which 
has been given to a certain llagot, who styled himself captain — was composed 
of mafois, or sharpers; of incrccMs, or hawkers, who were very little bettor than 
the former; of gueia; or dishonest beggars, and of a host of other swindlers, 
constituting the order or hierarchy of the Argot, or Slang people. Their chief 
was called the Grand Coesir, "a vagabond broken to all the tricks of his trade," 

Fig. 371. — Orphans, Callots, arid the Family of the Grand Coesre. — From painted Hangings and 
Tapestry from the Town of Rheims, executed during the Fifteenth Century. 

says M. Francisque Michel, and who frequently ended his days on the rack or 
the gibbet. History has furnished us with the story of a "miserable cripple" 
who used to sit in a wooden bowl, and who, after having boon (J rand Coesre for 
three years, was broken alive on the wheel at Bordeaux for his crimes, lie 
was called Roi da Tunes (Tunis;, and was drawn about by two large dogs. One 
of his successors, the Grand Coesre surnamed Anacreon, who suffered from the 
same infirmity, namely, that of a cripple, rode about Talis on a donkey begging. 
He generally held his court on the Port-au-Foin, where he sat on his throne 
dressed in a mantle made of a thousand pieces. The Grand Coesre had a 
lieutenant in each province called cagou, whose business it was to initiate 



apprentices in tlie secrets of the craft, and who looked after, in different 
localities, those whom the chief had entrusted to his care. He gave an 
account of the property he received in thus exercising his stewardship, and of 
the money as well as of the clothing which he took from the Argot iers who 
refused to recognise his authority. As a remuneration for their duties, the 
cagoux were exempt from all tribute to their chief; they received their 
share of the property taken from persons whom they had ordered to be 
robbed, and they were free to beg in any way they pleased. After the 
cagoux came the archisuppdts, who, being recruited from the lowest dregs of 

Fig. 375.— The Blind and the Poor Sick of St. John.— From painted Hangings and Tapestry 
in the Town of Rheims, executed during the Fifteenth Century. 

the clergy and others who had been in a better position, were, so to speak, 
the teachers of the law. To them was intrusted the duty of instructing the 
less experienced rogues, and of determining the language of Slang ; and, as a 
reward for their good and loyal services, they had the right of begging 
without paying any fees to their chiefs. 

The Grand Coesre levied a tax of twenty-four sous per annum upon 
the young rogues, who went about the streets pretending to shed tears 
(Fig. 374), as "helpless orphans," in order to excite public sympathy. 
The marcandiers had to pay an ecu ; they were tramps, clothed in a tolerably 
good doublet, who passed themselves off as merchants ruined by war, by 



tire, or by having been robbed mi the highway. The maliiHjreux bad to pay 
forty sous ; they were covered with sores, most of which were self-inflicted, 
or they pretended to have swellings of some kind, and staled that they wore 
about to undertake a pilgrimage to St. Meen, in Brittany, in order to be cured. 
The pietres, or lame rogues, paid half an ecu, and walked with crutches. 
The sabouleux, who were commonly called the jmor aid; of St. John, were 
in the habit of frequenting fairs and markets, or the vicinity of churches ; 


Fig. 376.— The Ruffis and the Millards.— From painted Hangings and Tapestry of Eheims, executed 

about tlie Fifteenth Century. 

there, smeared with blood and appearing as if foaming at the mouth by 
means of a piece of soap they had placed in it, they struggled on the ground 
as if in a fit, and in this way realised a considerable amount of alms. 
These consequently paid the largest fees to the Coesre (Fig. 3< 5). 

Besides these, there were the callots, who were either affected with a 
scurfy disease or pretended to be so, and who were contributors to the civil 
list of their chief to the amount of seven sous ; as also the coquiUards, or pre- 



tended pilgrims of St. James or St. Michael; and the hubins, who, according to 
the forged certificate which they carried with them, were going to, or returning 
from, St. Hubert, after having been bitten b} r a mad dog. The polissons paid 
two ecus to the Coesre, but they earned a considerable amount, especially 
in winter ; for benevolent people, touched with their destitution and half- 
nakedness, gave them sometimes a doublet, sometimes a shirt, or some 

other article of clothing, which of course 

s^s-te— they immediately sold. The francs mitoux, 

who were never taxed above five sous, were 

sickly members of the fraternity, or at all 

events pretended to be such ; they tied their 

arms above the elbow so as to stop the pulse, 

and fell down apparently fainting on the public 

footpaths. We must also mention the ruffes 

and the mittards, who went into the country in 

groups begging (Fig. 376). The capons were 

cut-purses, who hardly ever left the towns, 

and who laid hands on everything within their 

reach. The courtauds de boutanche pretended 

to be workmen, and were to be met with 

everywhere with the tools of their craft on their 

back, though they never used them. The 

convertis pretended to have been impressed by 

the exhortations of some excellent preacher, 

and made a public profession of faith ; they 

afterwards stationed themselves at church 

doors, as recently converted Catholics, and in 

this way received liberal contributions. 

Lastly, we must mention the drittes, the 
narquois, or the people of the petite flambe, who for the most part were old 
pensioners, and who begged in the streets from house to house, with their 
swords at their sides (Fig. 377). These, who at times lived a racketing and 
luxurious life, at last rebelled against the Grand Coesre, and would no longer 
be reckoned among his subjects — a step which gave a considerable shock to 
the Argotic monarchy. 

There was another cause which greatly contributed to diminish the power 

Fig. 377. — The Drill: or Narquois. 
— From painted Hangings from 
the Town of Eheims (Fifteenth 


as well as the prestige of tin's eccentric sovereign, and this was, that the 
cut-purses, the night-prowlers and wood-thieves, not rinding sufficient moans 
of livelihood in their own department, and seeing that the Argotiers, on the 
contrary, were always in a more luxurious position, tried to amalgamate 
robbery with mendicity, which raised an outcry amongst these sections of 
their community. The archisuppots and the cagoux at first declined such 
an alliance, but eventually they were obliged to admit all, with the 
exception of the wood-thieves, who were altogether excluded. In the seven- 
teenth century, therefore, in order to become a thorough Argotier, it was 
necessary not only to solicit alms like any mere beggar, hut also to 
possess the dexterity of the cut-purse and the thief. These arts were 
to he learned in the places which served as the habitual rendezvous of 
the very dregs of society, and which were generally known as the Coins 
des Miracles. Those houses, or rather resorts, had been so called, if we 
are to believe a writer of the early part of the seventeenth century, 
" Because rogues . . . and others, who have all day been cripples, maimed, 
dropsical, and beset with every sort of bodily ailment, come home at night, 
carrying under their arms a sirloin of beef, a joint of veal, or a leg of 
mutton, not forgetting to hang a bottle of wine to their belt, and, on enter- 
ing the court, they throw aside their crutches, resume their healthy and lusty 
appearance, and, in imitation of the ancient, Bacchanalian revelries, dance 
all kinds of dances with their trophies in their hands, whilst, the host, is 
preparing their suppers. Can there be a greater miracle than is to be seen 
in this court, where the maimed walk upright ? " 

In Paris there were several Cuius des Miracles, but the most celebrated was 
that which, from the time of Sauval, the singular historian of the "Antiquities 
of Paris," to the middle of the seventeenth century, preserved this generic name 
par excellence, and which exists to this day (Fig. 370). He says, " It is a, place 
of considerable size, and is in an unhealthy, muddy, and irregular blind alley. 
Formerly it was situated on the outskirts of Paris, now it is in one of the 
worst built, dirtiest, and most out-of-the-way quarters of the town, between the 
Pue Montorgueil, the convent of the Filles-Dicu, and the Rue Neuve-Saint- 
Sauveur. To get there one must wander through narrow, close, and 
by-streets ; and in order to enter it, one must descend a somewhat winding 
and rugged declivity. In this place I found a, mud house, half buried, very 
shaky from old age and rottenness, and only eight mitres square ; but in 

47 2 


Fig. 379.— C'oitr ties Mirut-hs of Paris. Talebot the Hunchback, a celebrated Scamp during the 
Seventeenth Century. — From an old Engraving in the Collection of Engravings in the 
National Library of Paris. 

winch, nevertheless, some fifty families are living, who have the charge of 
a large number of children, many of whom are stolen or illegitimate .... 
I was assured that upwards of five hundred large families occupy that 


mid other houses adjoining- Largo as this court is, it was formerly 

oven bigger. .... Hero, without any earo for the future, every one enjoys 
the present ; and eats in the evening what lie lias earned during the day with 
so much trouble, and often with so many blows ; lor it is one of the funda- 
mental rules of the ('our des Miracles never to lay by anything for the 
morrow. Every one who lives there indulges in the utmost licentiousness; 

both religion and law" are utterly ignored It is true that, outwardly 

they appear to acknowledge a God; for they have sot tip in a niche an 
image of God the Father, whirh they have stolen from some church, and 
before which they come daily to oiler up certain prayers; but this is only 
because they superstitiously imagine that by this means they are released 
from the necessity of performing the duties of Christians to their pastor and 
their parish, and are even absolved from the sin of entering a church for the 
purpose of robbery and purse-eutting." 

Paris, the capital of the kingdom of rogues, was not the only town which 
possessed a (Jour des .Miracles, for we find here and there, especially at 
Lyons and Bordeaux, some traces of these privileged resorts of rogues and 
thieves, which then flourished under the sceptre of the Grand Coesre. Sauval 
states, on the testimony of people worthy of credit, that at Sainte-Anne 
d'Auray, the most holy place of pilgrimage in Brittany, under the superin- 
tendence of the order of reformed Carmelite friars, there was a large held 
called the Uoyaus Field. This was covered with mud huts; and here the 
Grand Coesre resorted annually on the principal solemn festivals, with his 
officers and subjects, in order "to hold his council of state, that is to say, 
in order to settle and arrange respecting robbery. At these state meetings, 
which were not always held at Sainte-Anne d'Auray, all the subjects of the 
Grand Coesre were present, and paid homage to their lord and master. 
Some came and paid him the tribute which was required of them by the 
statutes of the craft ; others rendered him an account of what they had done, 
and what they had earned during the year. When they had executed then- 
work badly, he ordered them to be punished, either corporally or pecuniarily, 
according to the gravity of their offences. When he had not himself pro- 
perly governed his people, he was dethroned, ami a successor was appointed 
by acclamation. 

At these assemblies, as well as in the Cours des .Miracles, French was 
not spoken, but a strange and artificial language was used called jaryon, 



langue matoise, narquois, &o. This language, which is still in use under the 
name of argot, or slang, had for the most part been borrowed from, the jargon 
or slano- of the lower orders. To a considerable extent, according to the learned 

Fig. 380. — Beggar playing the Fiddle, and his Wife accompanying him with the Bones. — From 
an old Engraving of the Seventeenth Century. 

philologist of this mysterious language, M. Francisque Michel, it was com- 
posed of French words lengthened or abbreviated ; of proverbial expressions ; 
of words expressing the symbols of things instead of the things themselves; 
of terms either intentionally or unintentionally altered from their true 


meaning-; and of words which resembled other words in Round, but which 
had not the same signification. Tims, for mouth, they said priittiere, from 
pain (bread), which they put into it ; the arms were li/aus (binders) ; an ox 
was a commit (horned) ; a purse, a fouille, or foiiillouse ; a cock, a, Iiorlorje, or 
timepiece; the legs, den quillet (nine-pins); a sou, a roiid, or round thing; 
the eyes, lies luixants (sparklers), &c. In jargon several words were also 
taken from the ancient language of the gipsies, which testifies to the part 
which these vagabonds played in the formation of the Argotic community. 
For example, a shirt was called lime; a chambermaid, limoijerc ; sheets, 
limans — words all derived from the gipsy word limn, a shirt : they called 
an ecu, a rusquin or rouijcsme, from rujia, the common word for money ; a 
rich man, rupin ; a house, turtle ; a knife, chourin, from nip, ///run, and 
el/ori, which, in the gipsy tongue, mean respectively silver, castle, and 

From what we have related about rogues and the ('ours des Miracles, 
one might perhaps bo tempted to suppose that France was specially 
privileged ; but it was not so, for Italy was far worse in this respect. The 
rogues were called by the Italians bianti, or eeretani, and were subdivided 
into more than forty classes, the various characteristics of which have been 
described by a certain Rafael Frianoro. It is not necessary to state that the' 
analogue of more than one of these classes is to he found in (lie short 
description we have given of the Argotic kingdom in France. We wdl 
therefore only mention those which were more especially Italian. It must 
not be forgotten that in the southern countries, where religious superstition 
was more marked than elsewhere, the numerous family of rogues had no diffi- 
culty in practising every description of imposture, inasmuch as they trusted to 
the various manifestations of religious feeling to effect their purposes. Thus 
the riffrati, in order to obtain more alms and offerings, went about m tiiv 
garb of monks and priests, even saying mass, and pretending that it was the 
first time they had exercised their sacred office. So the monjhiijeri walked 
behind a donkey, carrying a bell and a, lamp, with their string of beads in 
their hands, and asking how they were to pay for the bell, which they were 
always "just going to buy." The fehi pretended that they were divinely 
inspired and endowed with the gift of second sight, and announced that 
there were hidden treasures in certain houses under the guardianship of evil 
spirits. They asserted that these treasures could not be discovered without 



V\s. ■Oil. — Italian Btuear, — From an Engraving by Callot. 

danger, except by means of fastings and offerings, which they and their 
brethren could alone make, in consideration of which they entered into a 
bargain, and received a certain sum of money from the owners. Ihe 



accatoai deserve mention on account of the cleverness with which they eon-' 
trived to assume the appearance of captives recently escaped from slavery. 
Shaking the chains with which they said they had been bound, jabbering 
unintelligible words, telling heart-rending tales of their sufferings and priva- 
tions, and showing the marks of blows which they had received, they went 
on their knees, begging for money that they might buy off their brethren 
or their friends, whom they said they had left in the hands of the Saracens 
or the Turks. "We must mention, also, the ullacr'uiuniti, or weepers, who 
owed their name to the facility which they possessed of shedding tears at 
will; and the testatori, who, pretending to be seriously ill and about to die, 


/ j 












w\ ' 


^ 1 



— =~^ ^L^r^^i^^t 

— r=— 

- — ^~^ 

Figs. 382 and 383.— German Beggars. — Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the " Cosmographie 
Universelle " of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552. 

extorted money from all those to whom they promised to leave their for- 
tunes, though, of course, they had not a sou to leave behind them. We 
must not forget the protobiauti (master rogues), who made no scruple of ex- 
citing compassion from their own comrades (Fig. 381), nor the vergognosi, 
who, notwithstanding their poverty, wished to be thought rich, and con- 
sidered that assistance was due to them from the mere fact of their being 
noble. We must here conclude, for it would occupy too much time to 
go through the list of these Italian vagabonds. As for the German 
(Figs. 382 and 383), Spanish, and English rogues, wc may simply remark 
that no type exists among them which is not to be met with amongst 


the Argotiers of France or the Bianti of Italy. In giving a description, 
therefore, of the mendicity practised in these two countries during the 
Middle Ages, we are sure to be representing what it was in other parts of 

The history of regular robbers and highwaymen during this long period 
is more difficult to describe ; it contains only disconnected anecdotes of a 
more or less interesting character. It is probable, moreover, that robbers 
did not always commit their depredations singly, and that they early under- 
stood the advantages of associating together. The Tafura, or Ealegrina, whom 
we notice as followers of Godefroy de Bouillon at the time of the Crusades, 
towards the end of the eleventh century, were terribly bad characters, and 
are actually accused by contemporary writers of violating tombs, and of 
livin"- on human flesh. On this account they were looked upon with 
the utmost horror by the infidels, who dreaded more their savage ferocity 
than the valour of the Crusaders. The latter even, who had these hordes 
of Tafurs under their command, were not without considerable mistrust 
of them, and when, during their march through Hungary, under the 
protection of the cross, these miscreants committed depreciations, Godefroy de 
Bouillon was obliged to ask pardon for them from the king of that 

An ancient poet has handed down to us a story in verse setting forth 
the exploits of Eustace the monk, who, after having thrown aside his frock, 
embraced the life of a robber, and only abandoned it to become Admiral of 
France under Philip Augustus. He was killed before Sandwich, in 1217. 
We have satisfactory proof that as early as the thirteenth century sharpers 
were very expert masters of their trade, for the ingenious and amusing 
tricks of which they were guilty are quite equal to the most skilled of those 
now recorded in our police reports. In the two following centuries the 
science of the pince and of the croc (pincers and hook), as it was then called, 
alone made progress, and Pathelin (a character in comedy, and an incom- 
parable type of craft and dishonesty) never lacked disciples any more than 
Villon did imitators. We know that this charming poet, who was at the 
same time a most expert thief, narrowly escaped hanging on two occasions. 
Bis contemporaries attributed to him a poem of twelve hundred verses, 
entitled " Les Replies Franches," in which are described the methods in use 
among his companions for procuring wine, bread, meat, and fish, without 


having to p.iy for them. They tuna a series of interesting stories, the moral 
of which is to be gathered from the following lines : 

" ("est bien disne, qmtnd on eseliappu 
Sans desbourcer pas uni* denier, 
Et dire adieu an tavernier, 
En torchant son nez a la nappe." 

The meaning of this doggrel, which is somewhat broad, may be rendered 

"He dines well who escapes without paying a penny, and who bids farewell 
to the innkeeper by wiping his nose on the tablecloth." 

>Side by side with this poem of Villon we ought to cite one of a 
later period — "La Legende de Maitre Faifeu," versified by Charles 
Boudigne. This Faifeu was a kind of Villon of Anion, who ex- 
celled in all kinds of rascality, and who might possibly have taught 
it even to the gipsies themselves. The character of 1'anurge, in the 
" Pantagruel," is no other than the type of Faifeu, immortalised by the 
genius of Rabelais. We must also mention one of the pamphlets of 
Guillaume Bouehet, written towards the end of the sixteenth century, which 
gives a very amusing account of thieves of every description, and also 
" L'Histoire Generalc des Larrons," in which are related numerous 
flronderful tales of murders, robberies, and other atrocities, which made our 
admiring ancestors well acquainted with the heroes of the Grreve and of 
Montfaueon. It must not be supposed that in those days the life of a robber 
who pursued his occupation with any degree of industry and skill was un- 
attended with danger, for the most harmless cut-purses were hung without 
mercy whenever they were caught ; the fear, however, of this fate did not 
prevent the En/ants de In Matte from performing wonders. 

Brantome relates that King Charles IX. had the curiosity to wish to 
"know how the cut-purses performed their arts with so much skill and dex- 
terity," and begged Captain La Chanibre to introduce to him, on the occasion 
of a banquet and a ball, the cleverest cut-purses, giving them full liberty to 
exhibit their skill. The captain went to the Cours des Miracles and fetched 
ten of the most expert of these thieves, whom he presented to the King. 
Charles, " after the dinner and the ball had taken place, wished to see all the 
plunder, and found that they had absolutely earned three thousand ecus, 
either in money from purses, or in precious stones, pearls, or other jewels; 
some of the guests even lost their cloaks, at wkjch the King thought he 



should die of laughter." The King allowed them to keep what they had 
thus earned at the expense of his guests ; but he forbad them " to con- 
tinue this sort of life," under penalty of being hung, and he had them 
enrolled in the army, in order to recompense them for their clever feats. 
We may safely assert that they made but indifferent soldiers. 

Fig. 384. — The Exhibitor of strange Animals (Twelfth Century 
Manuscript, Royal Library of Brussels). 


Origin of Modern Ceremonial.— Uncertainty of French Ceremonial up to the End of the Sixteenth 
Century.— Consi oration of the Kings of France.— Coronation of the Empi rors 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 Dav.- Lcral Festivals. This 

d'EoiDu ur. — Processions of Trades. 


LTHOUGH society during the Middle 
Ages was, as a whole, closely cemented 
together, being animated by the same 
sentiments and imbued with the same 
spirit, it was divided, as we have 
already stated, into three great classes, 
namely, the clergy, the nobility, and 
the tiers- Hat. These classes, each of 
which formed a distinct body within 
the State, carried on an existence 
peculiar to itself, and presented in 
its collective capacity a separate individuality. Hence there was a dis- 
tinct ceremonial for each class. We will not attempt to give in detail 
the innumerable laws of these three kinds of ceremonial, our attention 
will be directed solely to their most characteristic customs, and to their 
most remarkable and interesting aspects taken as a whole. T\ e must 
altogether lay aside matters relating specially to ceremonies of a purely 
religious character, as they are connected mere or less with the tradi- 
tions and customs of the Church, and belong to quite a distinct order of 

"When the Germans, and especially the Franks," says the learned 

3 Q 


paleographer Vallet de Viriville, "had succeeded in establishing their own 
rule in place of that of the Romans, these almost savage nations, and the 
barbarian chiefs who were at their head under the title of kings, necessarily 
borrowed more or less the refined practices relating to ceremonial possessed 
by the people whom they had conquered. The elevation of the elected chief 
or king on the shield and the solemn taking of arms in the midst of the 
tribe seem to be the only traces of public ceremonies which we can discover 
among the Germans. The marvellous display and the imposing splendour 
of the political hierarchy of the Roman Empire, especially in its outward 
arrano-ements, must have astonished the minds of these uncultivated people. 
Thus we find the Frank kings becoming immediately after a victory the 
simple and clumsy imitators of the civilisation which they had broken 
up." Clovis on returning to Tours in 007, after having defeated Alaric, 
received the titles of Patrician and Consul from the Emperor Anastasius, 
and bedecked himself with the purple, the chlamys, and the diadem. 
The same principle of imitation was afterwards exhibited in the internal 
and external court ceremonial, in proportion as it became developed in 
the royal person. Charlemagne, who aimed at everything which could 
adorn and add strength to a new monarchy, established a regular method 
for the general and special administration of his empire, as also for the 
internal arrangement and discipline of his palace. We have already 
referred to this twofold organization (vide chapters on Private Life and on 
Food), but we may here remark that, notwithstanding these ancient ten- 
dencies to the creation of a fixed ceremonial, the trifling rules which made 
etiquette a science and a law, were introduced by degrees, and have only 
very recently been established amongst us. 

In 138-j, when King Charles VI. married the notorious Isabel of 
Bavaria, then scarcel} r fourteen years of age, he desired to arrange for her 
a magnificent entry into Paris, the pomp and brilliancy of which should 
be consistent with the rank and illustrious descent of his young bride. 
He therefore begged the old Queen Blanche, widow of Philippe de Valois, 
to preside over the ceremony, and to have it conducted according to the 
custom of olden times. She was consequently obliged, in the absence of 
any fixed rules on the subject, to consult the official records, — that is to 
say, the " Chronique du Monastere de Saint-Denis." The first embodiment 
of rules relating to these matters in use among the nobility, which had 


4 S 3 

appeared in France under the title of " Honneurs de la Cour," only goes 
back to the end of the fifteenth, century. It appears, however, that even 
then this was not generally admitted 
among the nobility as the basis of cere- 
monial, for in 1548 we find that nothing- 
had been definitely settled. This is 
evident from the fact that when King 
Henri III. desired to know the rank 
and order of precedence of the princes 
of the royal blood, both dukes and 
counts — as also that of the other 
princes, the barons, the nobles of the 
kingdom, the constables, the marshals 
of France and the admirals, and what 
position they had held on great public 
occasions during the reigns of his pre- 
decessors — he commissioned Jean du 
Tillet, the civil registrar of the Par- 
liament of Paris, to search among the 
royal archives for the various authentic 
documents which might throw light 
on this question, and serve as a pre- 
cedent for the future. In fact, it was 
Henri III. who, in 1585, created the 
office of Grand Master of the Gere- 
monies of France, entrusting it to 
Gruillaume Pot, a noble of Rhodes, 
which office for many generations 
remained hereditary in his family. 

Nevertheless the question of cere- 
monial, and especially that of prece- 
dence, had already more than once 
occupied the attention of sovereigns, 

not only within their own states, but also in relation to diplomatic matters. 
The meetings of councils, at which the ambassadors of all the Christian 
Powers, with the delegates of the Catholic Church, were assembled, did 

Fig. 385.— Herald (Fourteenth Century).— 
From a Miniature in the "Chroniques de 
Saint-Penis " (Imperial Library of Paris). 

4 8 4 


not fail to bring this subject up for decision. Pope Julius II. in 1501 
instructed Pierre do Crassis, his Master of the Ceremonies, to publish a 
decree, determining the rank to be taken by the various sovereigns of 
Europe or by their representatives ; but we should add that this Papal decree 
never received the sanction of the parties interested, and that the question 
of precedence, even at the most unimportant public ceremonies, was during 
the whole of the Middle Ages a perpetual source of litigation in courts of 
law, and of quarrels which too often ended in bloodshed. 

It is right that we should place at the head of political ceremonies 
those having reference to the coronation of sovereigns, which were not only 
political, but owed their supreme importance and dignity to the necessary 
intervention of ecclesiastical authority. We will therefore first spaak of the 
consecration and coronation of the kings of France. 

Pepin le Bref, son of Charles Martel and founder of the second dynasty, 
was the first of the French kings who was consecrated by the religious rite 
of anointing. But its mode of administration for a long period underwent 
numerous changes, before becoming established by a defiaite law. Thus 
Pepin, after having been first consecrated in 752 in the Cathedral of 
Soissons, by the Archbishop of Mayence, was again consecrated with his two 
sons Charlemagne and Carloman, in 753, in the Abbey of St. Denis, by 
Pope Stephen III. Charlemagne was twice anointed by the Sovereign 
Pontiff, first as King of Lombardy, and then as Emperor. Louis le Debon- 
naire, his immediate successor, was consecrated at Rheims by Pope Stephen IV. 
in 816. In 877 Louis le Begue received unction and the sceptre, at 
Compiegne, at the hands of the ArchbishojJ of Rheims. Charles le Simple in 
893, and Robert I. in 922, were consecrated and crowned at Rheim? ; but the 
coronation of Raoul, in 923, was celebrated in the Abbey of St. Medard de 
Soissons, and that of Louis d'Outrenier, in 936, at Laon. From the accession 
of King Lothairc to that of Louis VI. (called Le Gros), the consecration of 
the kings of France sometimes took place in the metropolitan church of 
Rheims, and sometimes in other churches, but more frequently in the former. 
Louis VI. having been consecrated in the Cathedral of Orleans, the clergy 
of Rheims appealed against this supposed infraction of custom and their own 
special privileges. A long discussion took place, in which were brought 
forward the titles which the Church of Rheims possessed subsequently to 
the reign of Clovis to the exclusive honour of bavins: kings consecrated 



in it; and King- Louis lo Jcnne, son of Louis le Gros, who was himself con- 
secrated at Eheims, promulgated a special decree on this question, in anticipa- 
tion of the consecration of his son, Philippe Augusto. This decree finally 
settled the rights of this ancient church, and at the same time defined the 
order which was to be observed in future at the ceremony of consecration. 
From that date, down to the end of the reign of the Bourbons of the elder 
line, kings were invariably consecrated, according to legal rite, in the metro- 
politan church of Eheims, with the exception of Henri IV., who w r as crowned 
at Chartres by the bishop of that town, on account of the civil wars which 

Fig. 386.— Coronation of Charlemagne. — Fac-simile of a Miniature in the " Chroniquea de Saint- 
Denis," Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Imperial Library of Faris). 

then divided his kingdom, and caused the gates of Rheims to be closed 

against him. 

The consecration of the kings of France always took place on a Sunday. 
On the previous day, at the conclusion of evening prayers, the custody of the 
cathedral devolved upon certain royal officers, assisted by the ordinary officials. 
During the evening the monarch came to the church for devotion, and 
"according to his religious feelings, to pass part of the night m prayer,' 
an act which was called la veillie ties amies. A large platform, surmounted 
by a throne, was erected between the chancel and the great nave. Upon 
this assembled, besides the King and his officers of State, twelve ecclesiastical 


peers, together with those prelates whom the King might be pleased to 
invite, and six lay peers, with other officers or nobles. At daybreak, the King 
sent a deputation of barons to the Abbey of St. Kemi for the holy vial, which 
was a small glass vessel called ampoule, from the Latin word ampulla, containing 
the holy oil to be used at the royal anointing. According to tradition, this 
vial was brought from heaven by a clove at the time of the consecration of 
Clovis. Four of the nobles remained as hostages at the abbey during the 
time that the Abbot of St. Eemi, followed by his monks and escorted by the 
barons, went in procession to the cathedral to place the sacred vessel upon 
the altar. The abbot of St. Denis in Franco had in a similar manner to 
bring from Rheims with great pomp, and deposit by the side of the holy vial, 
the royal insignia, which were kept in the treasury of his monastery, and 
had been there since the reign of Charlemagne. They consisted of the crown, 
the sword sheathed, the golden spurs, the gilt sceptre, the rod adorned with 
an ivorv handle in the form of a band, the sandals of blue silk, embroidered 
with fleur do lis, the chasuble or dalmatique, and the surcot, or royal mantle, 
in the shape of a cape without a hood. The King, immediately on rising 
from his bed, entered the cathedral, and forthwith took oath to maintain the 
Catholic faith and the privileges of the Church, and to dispense good and 
impartial justice to his subjects. He then walked to the foot of the altar, and 
divested himself of part of his dress, having his head bare, and wearing a 
tunic with openings on the chest, on the shoulders, at the elbows, and in the 
middle of the back ; these openings were closed by means of silver aigulets. 
The Archbishop of Rheims then drew the sword from the scabbard and handed 
it to the King, who passed it to the principal officer in attendance. The 
prelate then proceeded with the religious part of the ceremony of consecration, 
and taking a drop of the miraculous oil out of the holy vial by means of a 
gold needle, he mixed it with the holy oil from his own church. This being 
done, and sitting in the posture of consecration, he anointed the King, who 
was kneeling before him, in five different parts of the body, namely, on the 
forehead, on the breast, on the back, on the shoulders, and on the joints of 
the arms. After this the King rose up, and with the assistance of his officers, 
put on his royal robes. The Archbishop handed to him successively the ring, 
the sceptre, and the rod of justice, and lastly placed the crown on his head. 
it this moment the twelve peers formed themselves into a group, the lay peers 
being in the first rank, immediately around the sovereign, and raising their 




rig. 387. — Dalmatica and Sandals of Charlemagne, Insignia of the Kings of France at their 
Coronation, preserved in the Treasury of the Abbey of St. Denis. 


hands to the crown, they held it for a moment, and then they conducted the 
King to the throne. The consecrating prelate, putting down his mitre, then 
knelt at the feet of the monarch and took the oath of allegiance, his example 
being followed by the other peers and their vassals who were in attendance. 
At the same time, the cry of "Vice le Roi!" uttered by the archbishop, was 
repeated three times outside the cathedral by the heralds-at-arms, who shouted 
it to the assembled multitude. The latter replied, "Noel! Noel! Noel!" 
and scrambled for the small pieces of money thrown to them by the officers, 
who at the same time cried out, " Largesse, largesse mix manants ! " Every 
part of this ceremony was accompanied by benedictions and prayers, the 
form of which was read out of the consecration service as ordered by the 
bishop, and the proceedings terminated by the return of the civil and 
religious procession which had composed the cortege. When the sovereign 
was married, his wife participated with him in the honours of the consecra- 
tion, the symbolical investiture, and the coronation ; but she only partook of 
the homage rendered to the King to a limited degree, which was meant to 
imply that the Queen had a less extended authority and a less exalted rank. 

The ceremonies which accompanied the accessions of the emperors of 
Germany (Fig. 388) are equally interesting, and were settled Vy a decree 
which the Emperor Charles IX. promulgated in 1-356, at the Diet of Nurem- 
berg. According to the terms of this decree — which is still preserved among 
the archives of Frankfort-on-the-Main, and which is known as the bu/le d'or, 
or golden bull, from the fact of its bearing a seal of pure gold — on the death 
of an emperor, the Archbishop of Mayence summoned, for an appointed day, 
the Prince Electors of the Empire, who, during the whole course of the 
Middle Ages, remained seven in number, "in honour," says the bull, "of 
the seven candlesticks mentioned in the Apocalypse." These Electors — who 
occupied the same position near the Emperor that the twelve peers did in 
relation to the King of France — were the Archbishops of Mayence, of Treves, 
and of Cologne, the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the 
Duke of Saxony, and the Margrave of Brandenburg. On the appointed day, 
the mass of the Holy Spirit was duly solemnized in the Church of St. Bar- 
tholomew of Frankfort, a town in which not only the election of the Emperor, 
but also his coronation, almost always took place, though one might have 
supposed that Aix-la-Chapelle would have been selected for such ceremonies. 
The Electors attended, and after the service was concluded, they retired to the 




J' if . 388. — Costume of Emperors ul their Coronation since the Time of Charlemagne.— From an 
Engraving in a Work entitled " Insignia Saerfo Majestatis Csesarum Principum ." Frankfort, 
1 - j 7 9 , in folio. 

3 R 



sacristy of the church, accompanied by their officers and secretaries. They 
had thirty days for deliberation, but beyond that period they were not 
allowed "to eat bread or drink water" until they had agreed, at least by a 
majority, to give a temporal chief to the Christian people, that is to say, a King 
of the Romans, who should in due time be promoted to be Emperor. The newly- 
elected prince was, in fact, at first simply King of the Romans, and this title 
was often borne by persons who were merely nominated for the office by the 
oice of the Electors, or by political combinations. In order to be promoted 
to the full measure of power and authority, the King of the Komans had to 
receive both religious consecration and the crown. The ceremonies adopted 
at this solemnity were very analogous to those used at the consecrations 
of the kin os of France, as well as to those of installation of all Christian 
princes. The service was celebrated by the Archbishop of Cologne, who 
placed the crown on the head of the sovereign-elect, whom he consecrated 
Emperor. The symbols of his authority were handed to him by the Electors, 
and then he was proclaimed, " Cmar, most sacred, ever august Majesty, Emperor, 
of the Holy Roman Empire of the nation of Germany." 

The imperial cortege then came out from the Church of St. Bartholomew, 
and went through the town, halting at the town-hall (called the Reenter, 
in commemoration of the noble name of Rome), where a splendid banquet, 
prepared in the Kaysersaal (hall of the Caesars), awaited the principal per- 
formers in this august ceremony. 

At the moment that the Emperor set foot on the threshold of the 
Eremer, the Elector of Saxony, Chief Marshal of the Empire, on horse- 
back, galloped at full speed towards a heap of oats which was piled up in 
the middle of the square. Holding in one hand a silver measure, and in 
the other a scraper of the same metal, each of which weighed six marks, he 
filled the measure with oats, levelled it with the scraper, and handed it over 
to the hereditary marshal. The rest of the heap was noisily scrambled for 
hj the people who had been witnesses of this allegorical performance. 
Then the Count Palatine, as chief seneschal, proceeded to perform his part 
in the ceremony, which consisted of placing before the Emperor, who was 
sitting at table, four silver dishes, each weighing three marks. The King of 
Bohemia, as chief butler, handed to the monarch wine and water in a silver 
cup weighing twelve marks ; and then the Margrave of Magdeburg presented 
to him a silver basin of the same weight for washing his hands. The other 



three Electors, or arch-chancellors, provided at their own expense the silver 
baton, weighing twelve marks, suspended to which one of them carried the 
seals of the empire. Lastly, the Emperor, and with him the Empress if lie 
was married, the princes, and the Electors, sat down to a banquet at separate 
tables, and were waited upon by their respective officers. On another tabic 
or stage were placed the Imperial insignia. The ceremony was concluded 

Fig. 389—Imperial Procession—From en Engraving of the "Solemn Entry of Charles V. and 
Clement VIE into Bologna," by L. dc Oranach, from a Freseo by Brusasorci, of Verona. 

outside by public rejoicings: fountains were set to play; wine, beer, and 
other beverages were distributed ; gigantic bonfires were made, at which 
whole oxen were roasted ; refreshment tables were set out in the open air, 
at which any one might sit clown and partake, and, in a word, every bounty 
as well as every amusement was provided. In this way for centuries public 
fetes were celebrated on these occasions. 


The doges of Venice, as well as the emperors of Germany, and some 
other heads of states, differed from other Christian sovereigns in this respect, 
that, instead of holding their high office by hereditary or divine right, they 
were installed therein by election. At Venice, a conclave, consisting of forty 
electors, appointed by a much more numerous body of men of high position, 
elected the Doge, or president of the most serene Republic. 

From the day when Laurent Tiepolo, immediately after his election in 
1268, was spontaneously carried in triumph by the Venetian sailors, it 
became the custom for a similar ovation to take place in honour of any newly- 
elected doo-e. In order to do this, the workmen of the harbour had the new 
Doge seated in a splendid palanquin, and carried him on their shoulders in 
great pomp round the Piazza San Marco. But another still more characteristic 
ceremony distinguished this magisterial election. On Ascension Day, the 
Doge, entering a magnificent galley, called the Bucentaur, which was 
elegantly equipped, and resplendent with gold and precious stuffs, crossed 
the Grand Canal, went outside the town, and proceeded in the midst of 
a nautical cortege, escorted by bands of music, to the distance of about a 
league from the town on the Adriatic Gulf. Then the Patriarch of Venice 
gave his blessing to the sea, and, the Doge taking the helm, threw a gold 
ring into the water, saying, " sea ! I espouse thee in the name, and in 
token, of our true and perpetual sovereignty." Immediately the waters 
were strewed with flowers, and the shouts of joy, and the clapping of 
hands of the crowd, were intermingled with the strains of instruments of 
music of all sorts, whilst the glorious sky of Venice smiled on the poetic 

The greater part of the principal ceremonies of the Middle Ages acquired, 
from various accessory and local circumstances, a character of grandeur well 
fitted to impress the minds of the populace. On these memorable occasions 
the exhibition of some historical memorial, of certain traditional symbols, of 
certain relics, &c, brought to the recollection the most celebrated events in 
national history — events already possessing the prestige of antiquity as well 
as the veneration of the people. Thus, as a memorial of the consecration of 
the kings of Hungary, the actual crown of holy King Stephen was used ; 
at the consecration of the kings of England, the actual chair of Edward 
the Confessor was used ; at the consecration of the emperors of Germany, 
the imperial insignia actually used by Charlemagne formed part of the 



display; at the consecration of the kings of France at a certain period, 
the hand of justice of St. Louis, which lias been before alluded to, was 

After their consecration by the Church and by (he spiritual power, the 
sovereigns had simply to take actual possession of their dominions, and, so 

-Fig. 390. — Standards of the Church and the Empire. — Reduced from an Engraving- of the " Entry of 
Charles V. and Clement YII. into Bologna," by Lucas de Cranach, from a Fresco by Brusasorei, 
of Verona. 

to speak, of their subjects. This positive act of sovereignty was often 
accompanied by another class of ceremonies, called joyous entry, or public 
entry. These entries, of which numerous accounts have been handed down 
to us by historians, and which for the most part were very varied in character, 
naturally took place in the capital city. We will limit ourselves to transcrib- 
ing the account given by the ancient chronicler, Juvenal des Ursins, of the 
entry into Paris of Queen Isabel of Bavaria, wife of Charles VI., which was 
a curious specimen of the public fetes of this kind. 


"In the year 1389, the King was desirous that the Queen should make 
a public entry into Paris, and this he made known to the inhabitants, in 
order that they should make prejrarations for it. And there were at each cross 
road divers kistoires (historical representations, pictures, or tableaux vivants), 
and fountains sending forth water, wine, and milk. The people of Paris in 
great numbers went out to meet the Queen, with the Provost of the Mer- 
chants, crying 'Noel!' The bridge by which she passed was covered with 
blue taffeta, embroidered with golden fleurs-de-lys. A man of light weight, 
dressed in the guise of an angel, came down, by means of some well- 
constructed machinery, from one of the towers of Notre-Dame, to the said 
bridge through an opening in the said blue taffeta, at the moment when the 
Queen was passing, and placed a beautiful crown on her head. After he had 
done this, he withdrew through the said opening by the same means, and 
thus appeared as if he were returning to the skies of his own accord. 
Before the Grand Chastelet there was a splendid court adorned with azure 
tapestry, which was intended to be a representation of the lit- de-justice, and 
it was very large and richly decorated. In the middle of it was a very large 
pure white artificial stag, its horns gilt, and its neck encircled with a crown 
of gold. It was so ingeniously constructed that its eyes, horns, mouth, and 
all its limbs, were put in motion by a man who was secreted within its body. 
Hanging to its neck were the King's arms — that is to say, three gold fieur- 

de-lys on an azure shield Near the stag there was a large sword, 

beautiful and bright, unsheathed ; and when the Queen passed, the stag was 
made to take the sword in the right fore-foot, to hold it out straight, and 
to brandish it. It was reported to the King that the said preparations were 
made, and he said to Savoisy, who was one of those nearest to him, 
' Savoisy, I earnestly entreat thee to mount a good horse, and I will ride 
behind thee, and we will so dress ourselves that no one will know us, and 
let us go and see the entry of my wife.' And, although Savoisy did all he 
could to dissuade him, the King insisted, and ordered that it should be done. 
So Savoisy did what the King had ordered, and disguised himself as well as 
he could, and mounted on a powerful horse with the King behind him. 
They went through the town, and managed so as to reach the Chastelet at the 
time the Queen was passing. There was a great crowd, and Savoisy placed 
himself as near as he could, and there were sergeants on all sides with thick 
birch wands, who, in order to prevent the crowd from pressing upon and 







injuring the court where the stag was, hit away with their wands as hard as 
they could. Savoisy struggled continually to get nearer and nearer, and the 
sergeants, who neither knew the King nor Savoisy, struck away at them, 
and the King received several very hard and well-directed blows on the 
shoulders. In the evening, in the presence of the ladies, the matter was 

L <!=\ <^ <n f=5 ,~, «S 

Fig. 392.- 
in the 

Paris} . 

-Tournaments in honour of the Entry of Q,ueen Isabel into Paris. — From a Miniature 
1 Chroniques " of Froissart, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (National Library of 

talked over, and they began to joke about it, and even the King himself 
laughed at the blows he had received. The Queen on her entry was seated 
on a litter, and very magnificently dressed, as were also the ladies and maids 
of honour. It was indeed a splendid sight ; and if any one wished to 
describe the dresses of the ladies, of the knights and squires, and of those 
who escorted the Queen, it would take a long time to do so. After supper, 

4 g6 


singing and dancing commenced, which continued until daylight. The next 
day there were tournaments and other sports" (Fig. 392). 

In the course of this simple and graphic description mention has been made 
of the lit dc justice (seat of justice). All judicial or legislative assemblies at 
which the King considered it his duty to be present were thus designated ; 
when the King came there simply as a looker-on, they were more commonly 


Fig. 393. — Seat of Justice, held by King Philippe de Valois, on the 8th April, 1332, for the Trial 
of Robert, Comte d'Artois. — From a Pen-and-ink Sketch in an Original Manuscript (Arch, of 
the Empire). 

called plaidoyers, and, in this case, no change was made in the ordinary 
arrangements ; but when the King presided they were called comeils, and then 
a special ceremonial was required. In fact, by lit de justice (Fig. 393), or 
cour des pairs, we understand a court consisting of the high officers of the 
crown, and of the great executive of the State, whose duty it was to determine 
whether any peer of France should be tried on a criminal charge ; gravely to 
deliberate on any political matter of special interest ; or to register, in the 


name of the absolute sovereignty of the King, any edict of importance. 
We know the prominent, and, we may say, even the fatal, part played by 
these solemnities, which were being- continually re-enacted, and on every 
sort of pretext, during- the latter days of monarchy. These courts were 
always held with impressive pomp. The sovereign usually summoned to 
them the princes of the blood royal and the officers of his household ; the 
members of the Parliament took their seats in scarlet robes, the presidents 
being habited in their caps and their mantles, and the registrars of the court 
also wearing their official dress. The High Chancellor, the hirst Chamber- 
lain, and the Provost of Paris, sat at the King's feet, The Chancellor of 
France, the presidents and councillors of the Parliament, occupied the bar, 
and the ushers of the court were in a kneeling- posture. 

Having thus mentioned the assemblies of persons of distinction, the inter- 
views of sovereigns (Fig. 394), and the reception of ambassadors — without 
describing them in detail, which would involve more space than we have at 
our command — we will enter upon the subject of the special ceremonial 
adopted by the nobility, taking as our guide the standard book called 
"Honneurs de la Cour," compiled at the end of the fifteenth century by the 
celebrated Alienor de Poitiers. In addition to her own observations, she 
gives those of her mother, Isabelle de Souza, who herself had but continued 
the work of another noble lady, Jeanne d'Harcourt — married in 1391 to the 
Count "William de Nanmr — who was considered the best authority to be found 
in the kingdom of France. This collection of the customs of the court forms 
a kind of family diary embracing three generations, and extending back over 
more than a century. 

Notwithstanding the curious and interesting character of this book, and 
the authority which it possesses on this subject, we cannot, much to our 
regret, do more than borrow a few passages from it ; but these, carefully 
selected, will no doubt suffice to give some idea of the manners and customs 
of the nobility during the fifteenth century, and to illustrate the laws of 
etiquette of which it was the recognised code. 

One of the early chapters of the work sets forth this fundamental law of 
French ceremonial, namely, that, "according to the traditions or customs 
of France, women, however exalted their position, be they even king's 
daughters, rank with their husbands." We find on the occasion of the 
marriage of King Charles VII. with Mary of Anjou, in 1413, although 

a s 

49 8 


probably there bad never been assembled together so man}' princes and 
ladies of rank, that at the banquet the ladies alone dined with the Queen, 
"and no gentlemen sat with them." We may remark, whilst on this 
subject, that before the reign of Francis I. it was not customary for the two 
sexes to be associated together in the ordinary intercourse of court life ; and 

Fig-. 394.— Interview of King Charles V. with the Emperor Charles IV. in Paris in 1378.— Fac- 
simile of a Miniature in the Description of this Interview, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, 
in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris. 

we have elsewhere remarked (see chapter on Private Life) that this departure 
from ancient custom exerted a considerable influence, not only on manners, 
but also on public affairs. 

The authoress of the " Ilonncurs de la Cour " specially mentions the 
respect which Queen Mary of Anjou paid to the Duchess of Burgundy when 


she was at Chalons in Champagne in U-FJ : " The Duchess came with all her 
retinue, on horseback and in carriages, into the courtyard of the mansion 
where the King and Queen were, and there alighted, her first maid of 
honour acting as her train-bearer. M. de Bourbon gave her his right hand, 
and the gentlemen went on in front. In this manner she was conducted to 
the hall which served as the ante-chamber to the Queen's apartment. There 
she stopped, and sent in M. de Creipii to ask the Queen if it was her pleasure 

that she should enter When the Duchess came to the door she 

took the train of her dress from the lady who bore it and let it trail 
on the ground, and as she entered she knelt and then advanced to the 
middle of the room. There she made the same obeisance, and moved straight 
towards the Queen, who was standing close to the foot of her throne. When 
the Duchess had performed a further act of homage, the Queen advanced 
two or three steps, and the Duchess fell on her knees; the Queen then put 
her hand on her shoulder, embraced her, kissed her, and commanded her to 

The Duchess then went up to Margaret of Scotland, wife of the Dauphin, 
afterwards Louis XI., " who Mas four or five feet from the Queen," and 
paid her the same honours as she had done to the Queen, although the 
Dauphine appeared to wish to prevent her from absolutely kneeling to her. 
After this she turned towards the Queen of Sicily (Isabelle de Lorraine, 
wife of Rene of Anjou, brother-in-law of the King), " who was two or 
three feet from the Dauphine," and merely bowed to her, and the same to 
another Princess, Madame de Calabre, who was still more distantly connected 
with the blood royal. Then the Queen, and after her the Dauphine, kissed 
the three maids of honour of the Duchess and the wives of the gentlemen. 
The Duchess did the same to the ladies who accompanied the Queen and the 
Dauphine, " but of those of the Queen of Sicily the Duchess kissed none, 
inasmuch as the Queen had not kissed hers. And the Duchess would not 
walk behind the Queen, for she said that the Duke of Burgundy was nearer 
the crown of France than was the King of Sicily, and also that she was 
daughter of the King of Portugal, who was greater than the King of Sicily." 

Further on, from the details given of a similar reception, we learn that 
etiquette was not at that time regulated by the laws of politeness as now 
understood, inasmuch as the voluntary respect paid by men to the gentle 
sex was influenced much by social rank. Thus, at the time of a visit of 



Louis XI., then Dauphin, to the court of Brussels, to which place he went 
to seek refuge against the anger of his father, the Duchesses of Burgundy, of 

Fig. 393.— The Entry of Louis XL into Paris.— Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Chroniques " 
of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris). 

Charolais, and of Cleves, his near relatives, exhibited towards him all the 
tokens of submission and inferiority which he might have received from a 
vassal. The Dauphin, it is true, wished to avoid this homage, and a dis- 


cussion 011 the subject of " more than a quarter of an hour ensued ;" at 
last ho took the Duchess of Burgundy hy the arm and led her away, in 
order to cut short the ceremonies " about which Madame made so much to 
do." This, however, did not prevent the princesses, on their withdrawing, 
from kneeling to the ground in order to show their respect for the son of 
the King of France. 

We have already seen that the Duchess of Burgundy, when about to 

appear before the Queen, took her train from her train-bearer in order that 

she mio-ht carry it herself. In this she was only conforming to a general 

principle, which was, that in the presence of a superior, a person, however 

hio-h his rank, should not himself receive honours whilst at the same time 

parin°' them to another. Thus a duke and a duchess amidst their court had 

all the things which were used at their table covered ; hence the modern 

expression, mettre le concert (to lay the cloth), even the wash-hand basin and 

the addict*, a kind of case in which the cups, knives, and other table articles 

were kept ; hut when they were entertaining a king all these marks of 

superiority were removed, as a matter of etiquette, from the table at which 

thev sat, and were passed on as an act of respect to the sovereign present. 

The book of 1 lame Alienor, in a series of articles to which we shall merely 
allude, speaks at great length and enters into detail respecting the interior 
arrangements of the rooms in which princes and other noble children were 
born. The formalities gone through on these occasions were as curious as 
they were complicated ; and Dame Alienor regretted to see them falling into 
disuse, "owing to which," she says, "we fear that the possessions of the 
great houses of the nobility are getting too large, as every one admits, and 
chicanery or concealment of birth, so as to make away with too many children, 
is on the increase." 

Mourning is the next subject which we shall notice. The King never 
wore black for mourning, not even for his father, but scarlet or violet. The 
Queen wore white, and did not leave her apartments for a whole year. 
Hence the name of chateau, hotel, or tour de In Heine Blanche, which many of 
the buildings of the Middle Ages still bear, from the fact that widowed 
queens inhabited them during the first year of their widowhood. On occa- 
sions of mourning, the various reception rooms of a house, were hung with 
black. In deep mourning, such as that for a husband or a father, a lady 
wore neither gloves, jewels, nor silk. The head was covered with a 1 




black head-dress, with trailing lappets, called chaperons, barbettes, cotevre-ehefs, 
and tourets. A duchess and the wife of a knight or a banneret, on going into 


Fig. 396.— "How the King-at-Arms presents the Swoid to the Duke of Bourbon."— From a 
Miniature in " Tournois du Eoi Rene," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library 
of Paris). 

mourning, stayed in their apartments for six weeks ; the former, during the 
whole of this time, when in deep mourning, remained lying down all day on 


a bed covered with a white sheet ; whereas the latter, at the end of nine days, 
got up, and until the six weeks were over, remained sitting' in front of the 
bed on a black sheet. Ladies did not attend the funerals of their husbands, 
though it was usual for (hem to be present at those of their fathers and 
mothers. For an elder brother, they wore the same mourning as for a 
father, but they did not lie down as above described. 

In their everyday intercourse with one another, kings, princes, dukes, 
and duchesses called one another monsieur and mailauie, adding the Christian 
name or that of the estate. A superior speaking or writing to an inferior, 
might prefix to his or her title of relationship beau or belle; for instance, 
moil bel OHc/r, ma belle eousine. People in a lower sphere of life, on being 
introduced to one another, did not say, " Monsieur Jean, ma belle tante " — 
" Mr. John, allow me to introduce you to my aunt" — but simply, "Jean, ma 
tante." The head of a house bad Ins seat under a canopy or ilosserct (Fig. 396), 
wbich he onlv relinquished to bis sovereign, when he bad the honour of 
entertaining him. "Such," says Alienor, in conclusion, '-arc the points of 
etiquette which arc observed in Germany, in France, in Xaples, in Italy, and 
in all other civilised countries and kingdoms." We may here remark, that 
etiquette, after having originated in France, spread throughout all Christian 
nations, and when it bad become naturalised, as it were, amongst the latter, 
it acquired a settled position, which it retained more firmly than it did in 
France. In this latter country, it was only from the seventeenth century, 
and particularly under Louis XIY., that court etiquette really became a 
science, and almost a species of religious observance, whose minutiae were 
attended to as much as if they were sacramental rites, though they were not 
unfrequently of the most childish character, and whose pomp and precision 
often caused the most insufferable annoyance. But notwithstanding the per- 
petual changes of times and customs, the French nation has always been dis- 
tinguished for nobility and dignity, tempered with good sense and elegance. 

If we now direct our attention to the tiers Hat, that class which, to quote 
a celebrated expression, "was destined to become everything, after having 
for a Ions time been looked upon as nothing," we shall notice that there, too, 
custom and tradition had much to do with ceremonies of all kinds. The 
presence of the middle classes not only gave, as it were, a stamp of 
grandeur to fetes of an aristocratic and religious character, but, in addition, 
the people themselves had a number of ceremonies of every description, in 



which etiquette was not one whit less strict than in those of the court. The 
variety of civic and popular ceremonies is so great, that it would require a 
large volume, illustrated with numerous engravings, to explain fully their 
characteristic features. The simple enumeration of the various public fetes, 
each of which was necessarily accompanied by a distinct ceremonial, would 
take up much time were we to attempt to give it even in the shortest manner. 

Fig. 397.— Entry of the Roi de 1'Epinette at Lille, in the .Sixteenth Century.— From a Miniature 
in a Manuscript of the Library of Eouen. 

Besides the numerous ceremonies which were purely religious, namely, 
the procession of the Fete-Dieu, in Kogation week, and the fetes which were 
both of a superstitious and burlesque character, such as des Fous, de I'Ane, 
des Innocents, and others of the same kind, so much in vogue chirms; the 
Middle Ages, and which we shall describe more in detail hereafter, we should 
like to mention the military or gymnastic fetes. Amongst these were 


what were railed the processions of the Confreres <!<■ V 'Arquebus?, the Archers, 
the Papegaat, the /•<>/ ,/,• I'Epinette, at Lille (Fig. 397), and the Forestier at 
Bruges. There were also -what may be termed the teles peculiar to certain 
places, such as those of Behors, of (he Champs Galat at Epinal, of the 
Laboureurs at ITontelimar, of 6?«// /'r?« hph/ at Anjou. Also of the fetes of 
May, of the s/im/; of the spring, of the rows, of the ,/?ros q/' -SV. John, &c. 
Then there were the historical or commemorative fetes, such as those of the 
Geant JReuss at Dunkerque, of the Gatjant at Douai, &c. ; also of (?»<?< c?e &m£- 
Maxime at Riez in Provence, the processions of Jeanne d : Are at Orleans, of 
Jeanne Hachette at Beauvais ; and lastly, the numerous fetes of public cor- 
porations, such as the Eeoliers, the Nations, the Unicersites ; also the Lendit, 
the Sainf-Cliarh magne, the Baillee ilex roses au Parlemcnt ; the literary fetes of 
the Prty-s c/ Chamures de rhetorique of Picardy and Flanders, of the Clemence 
Isaure at Toulouse, and of the Capitole at Rome, &c. ; the fetes of the &t- 
ments, Metiers, and Devoirs of the working men's corporation ; and lastly, 
the PtYcs Patronales, called also Assemblies, Dueasses, Folies, Foires, Kermesses, 
Pardons, &c. 

From, this simple enumeration, it can easily be understood what a useless 
task we should impose upon ourselves were we merely to enter upon so wide 
and difficult a subject. Apart from the infinite variety of details resulting 
from the local circumstances under which these ceremonies had been insti- 
tuted, which were everywhere celebrated at fixed periods, a kind of general 
principle regulated and directed their arrangement. Nearly all these fetes 
and public rejoicings, which to a certain extent constituted the common 
basis of popular ceremonial, bore much analogy to one another. There are, 
however, certain peculiarities less known and more striking than the rest, 
which deserve to be mentioned, and we shall then conclude this part of our 

Those rites, ceremonies, and customs, which are the most commonly 
observed, and which most persistently keep their place amongst us, are far 
from being of modern origin. Thus, the custom of jovially celebrating the 
commencement of the new year, or of devoting certain particular days to 
festivity, is still universally followed in every country in the world. The 
practice of sending presents on New Year's Day is to be found among 
civilised nations in the East as well as in our own country. In the Middle 
Ages the intimate friends of princes, and especially of the kings of France, 



Fig. 398.— Representation of a Ballet before Henri III. and his Court, in the Gallery of the 
Louvre.— Fac-simile of an Engraving on Copper of the " Ballet de la Eoyne," by Balthazar de 

Beaujoyeulx (folio, Paris, Mamert Patisson, 1582). 

received Christmas gifts, for which they considered themselves bound to make 
;m ample return. In England these interchanges of generosity also take 
place on Christmas Day. In Russia, on Easter Day, the people, on meeting 


in the street, salute one another by saying " Christ is risen." These practices, 
as well as many others, have no doubt been handed down to us from the early 
ages of Christianity. The same maybe said of a vast number of customs 
of a more or less local character, which have been observed in various 
countries for centuries. In former times, at Ochsonbach, in Wurternberg, 
during the carnival, women held a feast at which they wore waited upon by 
men, and, after it was over, they formed themselves into a sort of court of 
plenary indulgence, from which the men were uniformly excluded, and sat 
in judgment on one another. At Ramcrupt, a small town in Champagne, 
every year, on the 1st of May, twenty of the citizens repaired to the adjoin- 
ing hamlet of St. Remy, hunting as they went along. They were called the 
took of Sa merit, and it was said that the greatest fool led the band. The in- 
habitants of St. Remy were bound to receive them gratuitously, and to supply 
them, as well as their horses and do<is, with what they required, to have a 
mass said for them, to put up with all the absurd vagaries of the captain and 
his troop, and to supply them with a. fine and handsome honied rum, which was 
led back in triumph. On their return into Ramcrupt they set up shouts at 
the door of the cure, the procurator fiscal, and the collector of taxes, and, 
after the invention of gunpowder, fireworks were let off. They then went 
to the market-place, where they danced round the ram, which was decorated 
with ribbons. Xo doubt this was a relic of the feasts of ancient 

A more curious ceremony still, whose origin, we think, may be traced to 
the Dionysian feasts of heathenism, has continued to be observed to tins day 
at Beziers. It bears the names of the Feast of Pepezuch, the Triumph of 
Beziers, or the Feast of Caritats or Charites. At the bottom of the Rue 
Franchise at Beziers, a statue is to be seen which, notwithstanding the 
mutilations to which it has been subjected, still distinctly bears traces of 
being an ancient work of the most refined period of art, This statue repre- 
sents Pepezuch, a citizen of Beziers, who, according to somewhat questionable 
tradition, valiantly defended the town against the Goths, or, as some say, 
against the English ; its origin, therefore, cannot be later than the thirteenth 
century. On Ascension J Jay, the day of the feast of Pepezuch, an immense 
procession went about tin. town. Three remarkable machines were par- 
ticularly noticeable; the first was an enormous wooden camel made to 
walk by mechanism, and to move its limbs and jaws ; the second was a 


galley on wheels fully manned ; the third consisted of a cart on which a 
travelling theatre was erected. The consuls and other civic authorities, the 
corporations of trades having the pastors walking in front of them, the 
farriers on horseback, all bearing their respective insignia and banners, 
formed the procession. A double column, composed of a division of young 
men and young women holding white hoops decorated with ribbons and 
many-coloured streamers, was preceded by a young girl crowned with 
flowers, half veiled, and carrying a basket. This brilliant procession 
marched to the sound of music, and, at certain distances, the youthful 
couples of the two sexes halted, in order to perform, with the assistance of 
their hoops, various figures, which were called the Danse des Treittes. The 
machines also stopped from time to time at various places. The camel was 
especially made to enter the Church of St. Aphrodise, because it was said 
that the apostle had first come on a camel to preach the Gospel in that 
country, and there to receive the palm of martyrdom. On arriving before 
the statue of Pepezuch the young people decorated it with garlands. When 
the square of the town was reached, the theatre was stopped like the ancient 
car of Thespis, and the actors treated the people to a few comical drolleries 
in imitation of Aristophanes. From the galley the youths flung sugar- 
plums and sweetmeats, which the spectators returned in equal profusion. The 
procession closed with a number of men, crowned with green leaves, carry- 
ing on their heads loaves of bread, which, with other provisions contained in 
the galley, were distributed amongst the poor of the town. 

In Germany and in France it was the custom at the public entries of 
kings, princes, and persons of rank, to offer them the wines made in the 
district and commonly sold in the town. At Lang-res, for instance, these 
wines were put into four pewter vessels called cimaises, which are still to be 
seen. They were called the lion, monkey, sheep, and pig wines — symbolical 
names, which expressed the different degrees or phases of drunkenness which 
they were supposed to be capable of producing : the lion, courage ; the 
monkey, cunning ; the sheep, good temper ; the pig, bestiality. 

We will now conclude by borrowing, from the excellent work of 
M. Alfred Michiels on Dutch and Flemish painting, the abridged description 
of a procession of corporations of trades, which took place at Antwerp in 
1-320, on the Sunday after Ascension Day. " All the corporations of trades 
were present, every member being dressed in his best suit. In front of each 



guild a banner floated ; and immediately behind an enormous lighted wax- 
taper was carried. March music was played on long silver trumpets, flutes, 
and drums. The goldsmiths, painters, masons, silk embroiderers, sculptors, 
carpenters, boatmen, fishermen, butchers, curriers, drapers, bakers, tailors, 
and men of every other trade marched two abreast. Then came cross- 
bowmen, arquebusiers, archers, &c, some on loot and some on horseback. 
After them came the various monastic orders ; and then followed a crowd of 
bourgeois magnificently dressed. A numerous company of widows, dressed 
in white from head to foot, particularly attracted attention ; they constituted 
a sort of sisterhood, observing certain rules, and gaining their livelihood by 
various descriptions of manual work. The cathedral canons and the other 
priests walked in the procession in their gorgeous silk vestments sparkling 
with gold. Twenty persons carried on their shoulders a huge figure of the 
Virgin, with the infant Saviour in her arms, splendidly decorated. At the 
end of the procession were chariots and ships on wheels. There were various 
groups in the procession representing scenes from the Old and New- 
Testament, such as the Salutation of the Angels, the Visitation of the Maiji, 
who appeared riding on camels, the Flight into Egypt, and other well-known 
historical incidents. The last machine represented a dragon being led by 
St. Margaret with a magnificent bridle, and was followed by St. George 
and several brilliantly attired knights. 

Fig. 399. — Sandal ami 
Buskin of Charlemagne. 
— From the Abbey ol St. 


Influence of Ancient Costume. — Costume in the Fifth 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. — Zivrtie. — Cloaks and Capes. — Edicts against Extravagant 
Fashions. — Female Dress : Gowns, Bonnets, Head-dresses, &c. — Disappearance of Ancient 
Dress. — Tight-lilting Gowns.— General Character of Dress under Francis I. — Uniformity of 
1 >ress. 

ONG garments alone were worn by the 
ancients, and up to the period when 
the barbarous tribes of the North 
made their appearance, or rather, 
until the invasion of the Eoinan 
Empire by these wandering nations, 
male and female dress differed but 
little. The Greeks made scarcely 
any change in their mode of dress 
for centuries ; but the Romans, on 
becoming masters of the world, par- 
tially adopted the dress and arms of the people they had conquered, where 
they considered them an improvement on their own, although the original 
style of dress was but little altered (Figs. 400 and 401). 

Eoman attire consisted of two garments — the under garment, or tunic, 
and the outer garment, or cloak — the latter was known under the various 
names of chlanii/s, toga, and pallium, but, notwithstanding these several appel- 
lations, there was scarcely any appreciable distinction between them. The 
simple tunic with sleeves, which answered to our shirt, was like the modern 
blouse in shape, and was called by various names. The chiridota was a tunic 
with long and large sleeves, of Asiatic origin ; the manulcata was a tunic 
with long and tight sleeves coming to the wrists ; the talaris was a tunic 




reaching to the feet; the palmata was a. state tunic, emhroidcred with 
palms, which ornamentation was often found in other parts of dress. The 
lacenia, hrna, eueullus, c/ilami/s, sagiim, pdliithuiwufinit, were upper garments, 
more or less coarse, either full or scan), and usually short, and were 
analogous to our cloaks, mantles, &c, and were made hoth with and without 
hoods. There were many varieties of the tunic and cloak invented by female 
ingenuity, as well as of other articles of dress, which formed elegant acces- 
sories to the toilet, hut there was no essential alteration in the national 
costume, nor was there any change in the shape of the numerous descriptions 
of shoes. The barbarian invasions brought about a. revolution in the dress 
as well as in the social state of the people, and it is from the time of these 


Figs. 400 and 401.— Gallo -Roman Costumes.— From Bas-reliefs discovered in Paris in 1711 
underneath the Choir of Xotre-Dame. 

invasions that we may date, properly speaking, the history of modern dress ; 
for the Roman costume, which was in use at the same time as that of the 
Franks, the Huns, the Vandals, the Goths, &c, was subjected to various 
changes down to the ninth century. These modifications increased after- 
wards to such an extent that, towards the fourteenth century, the original 
type had altogether disappeared. 

It was quite natural that men living in a temperate climate, and bearing 
arms only when in the service of the State, should be satisfied witli garments 
which they could wear without wrapping themselves up too closely. The 
northern nations, on the contrary, had early learned to protect themselves 
against the severity of the climate in which they lived. Thus the garments 
known by them as braies, and by the I'arthians as sarabara, doubtless gave 

5 12 


origin to those which have been respectively called by us chausses, haid-de- 
ckausses, tromses, grtgues, culottes, pantalons, &c. These wandering people 
had other reasons for preferring the short and close-fitting garments to those 
which were long and full, and these were their innate pugnacity, which 
forced them ever to he under arms, their habit of dwelling in forests and 
thickets, their love of the chase, and their custom of wearing armour. 

The ancient Greeks and Romans always went bareheaded in the towns ; 
but in the country, in order to protect themselves from the direct rays of 
the sun, they wore hats much resembling our round hats, made of felt, 
plaited rushes, or straw. Other European nations of the same period also 
went bareheaded, or wore caps made of skins of animals, having no 
reo-ularity of style, and with the shape of which we are but little 

Shoes, and head-dresses of a definite style, belong to a much more modern 
period, as also do the many varieties of female dress, which have been known 
at all times and in all countries under the general name of robes. The 
girdle was only used occasionally, and its adoption depended on circum- 
stances ; the women used it in the same way as the men, for in those days it 
was never attached to the dress. The great difference in modern female 
costume consists in the fact of the girdle being part of the dress, thus 
giving a long or short waist, according to the requirements of fashion. In 
the same manner, a complete revolution took place in men's dress according 
as loose or tight, long or short sleeves were introduced. 

We shall commence our historical sketch from the fifth century, at which 
period we can trace the blending of the Roman with the barbaric costume — 
namely, the combination of the long, shapeless garment with that which 
was worn by the Germans, and which was accompanied by tight-fitting 
braies. Thus, in the recumbent statue which adorned the tomb of Clovis, in 
the Church of the Abbey of St. Genevieve, the Ring is represented as wearing 
the tunic and the toga, but, in addition, Gallo-Roman civilisation had actually 
given him tight-fitting braies, somewhat similar to what we now call panta- 
loons. Besides this, his tunic is fastened by a belt ; which, however, was not 
a novelty in his time, for the women then wore long dresses, fastened at the 
waist by a girdle. There is nothing very remarkable about his shoes, since 
we find that the shoe, or closed sandal, was worn from the remotest periods 
by nearly all nations (Figs. 402 and 4031. 

aajiifa. jj 

Fig. 402. — Costume of King Clovis (Sixth Fig.403.— Costume of King Childebert (Seventh 
Century). — From a Statue on his Tomb, Century). — From a Statue formerly placed 

formerly in the Abbey of St. Genevieve. in the Refectory of the Abbey of St. Germain- 


6 I 


The cloak claims an equally ancient origin. The principal thing worthy of 
notice is the amount of ornament with which the Franks enriched their girdles 
and the borders of their tunics and cloaks. This fashion they borrowed from 
the Imperial court, which, having been transferred from Eome to Constan- 
tinople during the third century, was not slow to adopt the luxury of 
precious stones and other rich decorations commonly in use amongst Eastern 
nations. Following the example of Horace de Vielcastel, the learned 
author of a history of the costumes of France, we may here state that it 
is very difficult, if not impossible, to define the exact costume during 
the time of the early Merovingian periods. The first writers who have 
touched upon this subject have spoken of it very vaguely, or not being 
contemporaries of the times of which they wrote, could only describe 
from tradition or hearsay. Those monuments in which early costume is 
supposed to be represented are almost all of later date, when artists, whether 
sculptors or painters, were not very exact in their delineations of costume, 
and even seemed to imagine that no other style could have existed before 
their time than the one with which they were daily familiar. In order to be 
as accurate as possible, although, after all, we can only speak hypothetically, 
we cannot do better than call to mind, on the one hand, what Tacitus says of 
the Germans, that they " were almost naked, excepting for a short and tight 
garment round their waists, and a little square cloak which they threw over 
the right shoulder," and, on the other, to carry ourselves back in imagi- 
nation to the ancient Roman costume. We may notice, moreover, the 
curious description given of the Franks by Sidoine Apollinaire, who says, 
" They tied up their flaxen or light-brown hair above their foreheads, into 
a kind of tuft, and then made it fall behind the head like a horse's tail. 
The face was clean shaved, with the exception of two long moustaches. 
They wore cloth garments, fitting tight to the body and limbs, and a 
broad belt, to which they hung their swords." But this is a sketch made 
at a time when the Frankish race was only known among the Gauls 
through its marauding tribes, whose raids, from time to time, spread terror 
and dismay throughout the countries which they visited. From the moment 
when the uncultivated tribes of ancient Germany fomialty took possession 
of the territory which they had withdrawn from Pioruan rule, they showed 
themselves desirous of adopting the more gentle manners of the con- 
cpiered nation. "In imitation of their chief," says M. Jules Quicherat, 



the eminent antiquarian, "more than once the Franks doffed the war 
coat ami the leather belt, and assumed the toga (it Roman dignity. More 
than once their flaxen hair was shown to advantage by flowing over the 
imperial mantle, and the gold of the knights, the purple of the senators 
and patricians, the triumphal crowns, the fasces, and, in short, everything 
which the Roman Empire invented in order to exhibit its grandeur, assisted 
in adding to that of our ancestors." 

One great and characteristic, difference between the Romans and the Franks 

Figs. 404 and 405.— Saints in the Costume of the Sixth to the Eighth Centuries. — From Miniatures 
in old Manuscripts of the Royal Library of Brussels (Designs by Count H. de Vieleastel). 

should, however, be specially mentioned ; namely, in the fashion of wearing 
the hair long, a fashion never adopted by the Romans, and which, during the 
whole of the first dynasty, was a distinguishing mark of kings and nobles among 
the Franks. Agathias, the Greek historian, says, " The hair is never cut from 
the heads of the Frankish kings' sons. From early youth their hair falls grace- 
fully over their shoulders, it is parted on the forehead, and falls equally on 
both sides; it is with them a matter to which they give special attention." 
We are told, besides, that they sprinkled it with gold-dust, and plaited it in 
small bands, which they ornamented with pearls and precious metals. 

Whilst persons of rank were distinguished by their long and flowing 


hair, the people wore theirs more or less short, according to the degree of 
freedom which they possessed, and the serfs had their heads completely 
shaved. It was customary for the noble and free classes to swear by their 
hair, and it was considered the height of politeness to pull out a hair and 
present it to a person. Fredegaire, the chronicler, relates that Clovis thus 
pulled out a hair in order to do honour to St. Germer, Bishop of Toulouse, 
and presented it to him ; upon this, the courtiers hastened to imitate their 
sovereign, and the venerable prelate returned home with his hand full of 
hair, delighted at the nattering reception he had met with at the court of the 
Frankish king. During the Merovingian period, the greatest insult that 
could be offered to a freeman was to touch him with a razor or scissors. 
The degradation of kings and princes was carried out in a public manner 
by shaving their heads and sending them into a monastery ; on their regain- 
ing their rights and their authority, their hair was always allowed to grow 
again. We may also conclude that great importance was attached to the 
preservation of the hair even under the kings of the second dynasty, for 
Charlemagne, in his Capitulaires, orders the hair to be removed as a punish- 
ment in certain crimes. 

The Franks, faithful to their ancient custom of wearing the hair long, 
gradually gave up shaving the face. At first, they only left a small tuft 
on the chin, but by degrees they allowed this to increase, and in the 
sixth and seventh centuries freemen adopted the usual form of beard. 
Amongst the clergy, the custom prevailed of shaving the crown of the head, 
in the same way as that adopted by certain monastic orders in the present 
day. Priests lor a long time wore beards, but ceased to do so on their 
becoming fashionable amongst the laity (Figs. 406, 407). Painters and 
sculptors therefore commit a serious error in representing the prelates and 
monks of those times with large beards. 

As far as the monumental relics of those remote times allow us to judge, 
the dress as worn by Clovis underwent bat trifling modifications during the 
first dynasty ; but during the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne considerable 
changes were effected, which resulted from the intercourse, either of a friendly 
or hostile nature, between the Franks and the southern nations. About this 
time, silk stuffs were introduced into the kingdom, and the upper classes, in 
order to distinguish themselves from the lower, had their garments trimmed 
round with costly furs (see chapter on Commerce). 


5 '7 

We have before stated (see chapter on Private Life) thai Charlemagne, 
who always was very simple in his tastes, strenuously set his face against 
these novel introductions of luxury, which he looked upon as tending to do 

Fier. 406 

and 407-OoBtume of the Prelates from the Eighth to the Tenth Centuries.-After 

miniatures in the " Missal of St. Gregory, 

the National Library of Paris. 


Of what use are these cloaks?" he said; "in bed they cannot 

jtcct us from the rain nor 


cover us, on horseback they can neither pre 

wind, and when we are sitting they can neither preserve our legs from 

the cold nor the damp." He himself generally wore a large tunic made of 


otters' skins. On one occasion his courtiers went out hunting with him, 
clothed in splendid garments of southern fashion, which became much torn 
by the briars, and begrimed with the blood of the animals they had killed. 
" Oh, ye foolish men ! " he said to them the next day as he showed them his 
own tunic, which a servant had just returned to him in perfect condition, 
after having simply dried it before the fire and rubbed it with his hands. 
" AYhose garments are the more valuable and the more useful? mine, for 
which I have only paid a sou (about twenty-two francs of present monejr), or 
yours, which have cost so much ? " From that time, whenever this great 
king entered on a campaign, the officers of his household, even the most rich 
and powerful, did not dare to show themselves in any clothes but those made 
of leather, wool, or cloth ; for had they, on such occasions, made their 
appearance dressed in silk and ornaments, he would have sharply reproved 
them and have treated them as cowards, or as effeminate, and consequently 
unfit for the work in which he was about to encase. 

Nevertheless, this monarch, who so severely proscribed luxury in daily 
life, made the most magnificent display on the occasions of political or reli- 
gious festivals, when the imperial dignity with which he was invested 
required to be set forth by pompous ceremonial and richness of attire. 

During the reign of the other Carlovingian kings, in the midst of political 
troubles, of internal wars, and of social disturbances, they had neither time 
nor inclination for inventing new fashions. Monuments of the latter jjart of 
the ninth century prove, indeed, that the national dress had hardly under- 
gone an}' change since the time of Charlemagne, and that the influence of 
Roman tradition, especially on festive occasions, was still felt in the dress of 
the nobles (Figs. 408 to 411). 

In a miniature of the large MS. Bible given by the canons of Saint-Martin 
of Tours in 869 to Charles the Bald (National Library of Paris), we find 
the King sitting on his throne surrounded by the dignitaries of his court, and 
by soldiers all dressed after the Boman fashion. The monarch wears a cloak 
which seems to be made of cloth of gold, and is attached to the shoulder by 
a strap or ribbon sliding through a clasp ; this cloak is embroidered in red, 
on a gold ground ; the tunic is of reddish brown, and the shoes are light red, 
worked with gold thread. In the same manuscript there is another painting, 
representing four women listening to the discourse of a prophet. From this 
we discover that the female costume of the time consisted of two tunics, the 


5 "J 

under one being longer but less capacious than the other, the sleeves of the 
former coming down tight to the wrists, and being plaited in many folds, 


^Inspiration of Chri s t,.-From a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Mnth Centun , „. 

bis Gospel under 


ll ur: 

..■undian Library, Brussels (drawn by Count H. de Vieleastel). 

whilst those of the latter open out, and only reach to the elbow. The lower 
part, the neek, and the borders of the sleeves are trimmed with ornamented 


bands, the waist is encircled by a girdle just above the hips, and a long veil, 
finely worked, and fastened on the head, covers the shoulders and hangs 
down to the feet, completely hiding the hair, so that long plaits falling in 
front were evidently not then in fashion. The under dress of these four 
women — who all wear black shoes, which were probably made of morocco 
leather — are of various colours, whereas the gowns or outer tunics are white. 

Notwithstanding that under the Carlovingian dynasty it was always con- 
sidered a shame and a dishonour to have the head shaved, it must not be 
supposed that the upper classes continued to wear the long Merovingian 
style of hair. After the reign of Charlemagne, it was the fashion to shave 
the hair from above the forehead, the parting being thus widened, and the 
hair was so arranged that it should not fall lower than the middle of the 
neck. Under Charles the Bald, whose surname proves that he was not 
partial to long hair, this custom fell into disuse or was abandoned, and men 
had the greater part of their heads shaved, and only kept a sort of cap of 
hair growing on the top of the head. It is at this period that we first find 
the cowl worn. This kind of common head-dress, made from the furs of 
animals or from woollen stuffs, continued to be worn for many centuries, and 
indeed almost to the present day. It was originally only a kind of cap, 
light and very small ; but it gradually became extended in size, and succes- 
sively covered the ears, the neck, and lastly even the shoulders. 

No great change was made in the dress of the two sexes during the tenth 
century. "Nothing was more simple than the head-dress of women," says 
M. Jules Quicherat ; "nothing was less studied than their mode of wearing 
their hair ; nothing was more simple, and yet finer, than their linen. The 
elegant appearance of their garments recalls that of the Greek and Eoman 
women. Their dresses were at times so tight as to display all the elegance 
of their form, whilst at others they were made so high as completely to cover 
the neck ; the latter were called cottes-hardies. The cotte-hardie, which has at 
all times been part of the dress of French women, and which was frequently 
worn also by men, was a long tunic reaching to the heels, fastened in at the 
waist and closed at the wrists. Queens, princesses, and ladies of the nobility 
wore in addition a long cloak lined with ermine, or a tunic with or without 
sleeves ; often, too, their dress consisted of two tunics, and of a veil or drapery, 
which was thrown over the head and fell down before and behind, thus 
entirely surrounding the neck." 



We cannot find that any very decided change was made in dress before 
the end of the eleventh century. The ordinary dress made of thick cloths 
and of coarse woollen stuffs wore very strong and durable, and not easily 
spoiled; and it was usual, as we still find in some provinces which adhere 
to (.ild customs, for clothes, especially tbose worn on festive occasions and at 

Fig . 409—Costume of a Scholar. Fig. 410.-Cof.tuim- of a Bishop or AVbot. 

Fac-similes of Miniatures in a Manuscript of the Ninth Century (" Biblia Sacra "), in the Royal 

Library of Brussels. 

ceremonials, to be handed down as heirlooms from father to son, to the third 
or fourth generation. The Normans, who came from Scandinavia towards 
the end of the tenth century, A.D. 070, with their short clothes and coats of 
mail, at first adopted the dress of the French, and continued to do so in all 
its various changes. In the following century, having found the Saxons and 

f v iff 


Fig. 411. — Costume of OharleB the Simple (Tenth Century). — From a Miniature in the "Eoia de 
France," by Du Tillet, Manuaeiipt of the Sixteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris). 


Britons in England clad in the garb of their ancestors, slightly modified by 
the Roman style of apparel, they began to make great changes in their manner 
of dressing themselves. They mure and more discarded Roman fashions, and 
assumed similar costumes to these made in France at the same period. 

Before proceeding further in our history of mediaeval dross, we must fore- 
stall a remark "which will not fail to be made by the reader, and tins is, that 
we seem to occupy ourselves exclusively with the dress of kings, queens, and 
other people of note. But we must reply, that though we arc able to form 
tolerably accurate notions relative to the dress of the upper classes during 
these remote periods, we do not possess any reliable information relative to 
that of the lower orders, and that the written documents, as well as the 
sculptures and paintings, are almost useless on this point. Nevertheless, we 
may suppose that the dress of the men in the lowest ranks of society has 
always been short and tight, consisting of brutes or tight drawers, mostly 
made of leather, of tight tunics, of satjotis or doublets, and of capes or cloaks 
of coarse brown woollen. The tunic was confined at the waist by a belt, to 
which the knife, the purse, and sometimes the working tools were suspended. 
The head-dress of the people was generally a simple cap made of thick, coarse 
woollen cloth or felt, and often of sheep's skin. 1 luring the twelfth century, 
a person's rank or social position was determined by the head-dress. The 
cap was made of velvet for persons of rank, and of common cloth for the poor. 
The comette, which was always an appendage to the cap, was made of cloth, 
with which the cap might lie fastened or adjusted on the head. The mortier, 
or round cap, dates from the earliest centuries, and was altered both in shape 
and material according to the various changes of fashion ; but lawyers of 
high position continued to wear it almost in its original shape, and it became 
like a professional badge forjudges and advocates. 

In the miniatures of that time we find Charles the Good, Count of 
Flanders, who died in 1127, represented with a cap with a point at the top, 
to which a long streamer is attached, and a peak turned up in front, A 
cap very similar, but without the streamer, ami with the point turned towards 
the left, is to be seen in a. portrait of Geoffrey le Bel, Comte de Maine, in 1150. 
About the same period, Agnes de Baudement is represented with a sort of cap 
made of linen or stuff, with lappets hanging down over the shoulders; she is 
dressed in a robe fastened round the waist, and having long bands attached to 
the sleeves near the wrists. Queen Ingeburge, second wife of Philip Augustus, 

l'ig. 412. — Costume of King Louis le Jeune.— Miniature 
of tho "Rois de France," by Du Tillet (Sixteenth 
Century), in the National Library of Paris. 

Fig. 413. — Royal Costume. — From a Miniature 
in a Manuscript of the Twelfth Century, in 
the Burgundian Library, Brussels. 


also wore the tight gown, fastened at the collar by a round buckle, and two 
bands of stuff forming a kind of necklace ; she also used the long cloak, and 
the closed shoes, which had then begun to be made pointed. Robert, Comte do 
Dreux, who lived at the same period, is also dressed almost precisely like the 
Queen, notwithstanding the difference of sex and rank ; his robe, however, only 
descends to the instep, and his belt has no hangings in front. The Queen is 
represented with her hair long and flowing, but the count has his cut short. 

Women, in addition to their head-dress, often wore a. broad band, which 
was tied under the chin, and gave the appearance of a kind of frame for the 
face. Both sexes wore coloured bands on their shoes, which were tied round 
the ankles like those of sandals, and showed the shape of the foot. 

The beard, which was worn in full at the beginning of the twelfth cen- 
tury, was by degrees modified both as to shape and length. At first it was 
cut in a point, and only covered the end of the chin, but the next fashion 
was to wear it so as to join the moustaches. Generally, under Lotus le 
Jeune (Fi°\ 41'-'), moustaches went out of fashion. We next find beards 
worn only by country people, who, according to contemporary historians, 
desired to preserve a. "remembrance of their participation in the Crusades." 
At the end of this century, all chins were shaved. 

The Crusades also gave rise to the general use of the purse, which was 
suspended to the belt by a cord of silk or cotton, and sometimes by a metal 
chain. At the time of the Holy War, it had become an emblem characteristic 
of pilgrims, who, before starting for Palestine, received from the hands of the 
priest the cross, the pilgrim's staff, and the purse. 

We now come to the time of Louis IX. (Figs. 411 to 418), of that good 
king who, according to the testimony of his historians, generally dressed 
with the greatest simplicity, but who, notwithstanding his usual modesty 
md economy, did not hesitate on great occasions to submit to the pomp 


required by the regal position which he held. " Sometimes," says the Sire 
de Joinville, "he went into his garden dressed in a camel's-hair coat, a sur- 
coat of linsey-woolsey without sleeves, a black silk cloak without a hood, 
and a hat trimmed with peacocks' feathers. At other times he was dressed 
in a coat of blue silk, a surcoat and mantle of scarlet satin, and a cotton 


The surcoat (sur-cotte) was at first a garment worn only by females, 
but it was soon adopted by both sexes : it was originally a huge wrapper 



with sleeves, and was thrown over the upper part of the robe (cotte), hence 
its name, stir-cotfe. Very soon it was made without sleeves — doubtless, as 
M. Quicherat remarks, that the under garment, which was made of more 
costly material, might be seen ; and then, with the same object, and in 
order that the due motion of the limbs might not be interfered with, the 

Fig. 414. — Costume of a Princess dressed in a 
Cloak lined with Fur. — From a Miniature of 
the Thirteenth Century. 

Fig. 41.3. — Costume of William Halgeneste, 
the King's Huntsman, as represented on his 
Tomb, formerly in the Abbey of Long-Pont. 

surcoat was raised higher above the hips, and the arm-holes were made very 

At the consecration of Louis IX., in 1226, the nobles wore the cap 
(niortier) trimmed with fur ; the bishops wore the cope and the mitre, and 
carried the crosier. Louis IX., at the age of thirteen, is represented, in a 
picture executed in 1262 (Saintc-Chapelle, Paris), with his hair short, and 
wearing a, red velvet cap, a tunic, and over this a cloak open at the chest, 



having long sleeves, which are slit up for the arms to go through ; this cloak, 
or surcoat, is trimmed with ermine in front, and has the appearance of what 
we should now call a fur shawl. The young King has long hose, and shoes 
similar in shape to high slippers. In the same painting Queen Margaret, 
his wife, wears a gown with tight bodice opened out on the hips, and having 
long and narrow sleeves ; she also has a cloak embroidered with fleurs-de-lis, 
the long sleeves of which are slit up and bordered with ermine ; a kind of 

^"."'^'^ ■" ^rji.. ■ :^ 

Fig. 4ic.— Costumes of the Thirteenth Century: Tristan and the beautiful Ysuult.— From a 
Miniature in the Romance of "Tristan," Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Imperial 
Library of Paris) . 

hood, much larger than her head, and over this a veil, which passes under 
the chin without touching the face ; the shoes are long, and seem to enclose 
the feet very tightly. 

From this period gowns with tight bodices were generally adopted ; the 
women wore over them a tight jacket, reaching to a little below the hips, 
often trimmed with fur when the gown was richly ornamented, and itself 
richly ornamented when the gown was plain. They also began to plait 


the hair, which fell down by the side of the face to the neck, and they 
profusely decorated it with pearls or gold or silver ornaments. Jeanne, 
Queen of Navarre, wife of Philippe le Bel, is represented with a pointed 
cap, on the turned-up borders of which the hair clusters in thick curls on 
each side of the face ; on the chest is a frill turned down in two points ; 
the gown, fastened in front by a row of buttons, has long and tight sleeves, 
with a small slit at the wrists closed by a button ; lastly, the Queen wears, 
over all, a sort of second robe in the shape of a cloak, the sleeves of which 
are widely slit in the middle. 

At the end of the thirteenth century luxury was at its height at the 
court of France : gold and silver, pearls and precious stones were lavished 
on dress. At the marriage of Philip III., son of St. Louis, the gentlemen 
were dressed in scarlet ; the ladies in cloth of gold, embroidered and 
trimmed with gold and silver lace. Massive belts of gold were also worn, 
and chaplets sparkling with the same costly metal. Moreover, this magnifi- 
cence and display (see chapter on Private Life) was not confined to the 
court, for we find that it extended to the bourgeois class, since Philippe 
le Bel, by his edict of 1294, endeavoured to limit this extravagance, which 
in the eyes of the world had an especial tendency to obliterate, or at least 
to conceal, all distinctions of birth, rank, and condition. Wealth strove hard 
at that time to be the sole standard of dress. 

As we approach the fourteenth century — an epoch of the Middle Ages at 
which, after many changes of fashion, and many struggles against the 
ancient Roman and German traditions, modern national costume seems at 
last to have assumed a settled and normal character — we think it right to 
recapitulate somewhat, with a view to set forth the nature of the various 
elements which were at work from time to time in forming the fashions in 
dress. In order to give more weight to our remarks, we will extract, almost 
word for word, a few pages from the learned and excellent work which 
M. Jules Quicherat has published on this subject. 

" Towards the year 1280," he says, " the dress of a man— not of a man 
as the word was then used, which meant serf, but of one to whom the exercise 
of human prerogatives was permitted, that is to say, of an ecclesiastic, a bour- 
geois, or a noble— was composed of six indispensable portions : the braies, or 
breeches, the stockings, the shoes, the coat, the surcoat, or cotte-hardie, and 
the chaperon, or head-dress. To these articles those who wished to dress more 


5 2 9 

Fig. 417. —Costumes of the Common Feunle in the Fourteenth Century : Italian Gardener ami 
Woodman. - From two Knc-ravine-s in the Bonnart Collection. 

elegantly added, on the body, a shirt; on the shoulders, a mantle; and on 
the head, a hat, ovfrontcau. 

"The braies, or brayes, wore a kind of drawers, generally knitted, some- 

8 v 


times made of woollen stuff' or silk, and sometimes even of undressed leather. 
. . . Our ancestors derived this part of their dress from the ancient Gauls ; 
only the Gallic braies came down to the ankle, whereas those of the thirteenth 
century only reached to the calf. They were fastened above the hips by 
means of a belt called the braier. 

" By chausses was meant what we now call long stockings or hose. The 
stockings were of the same colour and material as the braies, and were kept 
up by the lower part of the braies being pulled over them, and tied with a 

" The shoes were made of various kinds of leather, the quality of which 
depended on the way in which they were tanned, and were either of common 
leather, or of leather which was similar to that we know as morocco, and was 
called cordouan or cordua (hence the derivation of the word cordouannier, 
which has now become cordomiier). Shoes were generally made pointed; 
this fashion of the poulaiites, or Polish points, was followed throughout the 
whole of Europe for nearly three hundred years, and, when first introduced, 
the Church was so scandalized hj it that it was almost placed in the catalogue 
of heresies. Subsequently, the taste respecting the exaggerated length of 
the points was somewhat modified, but it had become so inveterate that the 
tendency for pointed shoes returning to their former absurd extremes was 
constantly showing itself. The pointed shoes became gradually longer 
during the struggles which were carried on in the reign of Philippe le Bel 
between Church and State. 

" Besides the shoes, there were also the est'maux, thus named from estiva 
(summer thing), because, being generally made of velvet, brocade, or other 
costly material, they could only be worn in dry weather. 

" The coat (cotte) corresponded with the tunic of the ancients, it was a blouse 
with tight sleeves. These sleeves were the only part of it which were exposed, 
the rest being completely covered by the surcoats, or cotte-hardle, a name the 
origin of which is obscure. In shape the surcoat somewhat resembled a 
sack, in which, at a later period, large slits were made in the arms, as well 
as over the hips and on the chest, through which appeared the rich furs and 

satins with which it was lined The ordinary material of the surcoat 

for the rich was cloth, either scarlet, blue, or reddish brown, or two or 
more of these colours mixed together ; and for the poor, linsey-woolsey or 
fustian. The nobles, princes, or barons, when holding a court, wore surcoats 


53 r 

of a colour to match tlicir arms, which wore embroidered upon them, hut the 
lesser nobles who frequented the houses of the great spoke of themselves as 

Fig. 41S.-Costume of English Servants in the Fourteenth Century. -From Manuscripts in the 

British Museum. 

in the robes of such and such a noble, because he whose patronage they 
courted was obliged to provide them with surcoats and mantles. These were 

S3 2 


Fig 419.— Costume of Philip the flood, with Hood and " Cockade."— From a Miniature in a 

Manuscript of the Period. 


of their patron's favourite colour, and were called the livery (lirrer), on 
account of their distribution (licruison), which took place twice a year. The 
word has remained in use ever since, but with a different signification ; it 
is, however, so nearly akin to the original meaning that its affinity is 

An interesting anecdote relative to this custom is to be found in the 
chronicles of Matthew Paris. When St. Louis, to the dismay of all his 
vassals, and of his inferior servants, had decided to take up the cross, he 
succeeded in associating the nobles of his court with him in his vow by a 
kind of pious fraud. Having had a certain number of mantles prepared for 
Christmas-day, he had a small white cross embroidered on each above the 
right shoulder, and ordered them to be distributed among the nobles on the 
morning of the feast when they were about to go to mass, which was cele- 
brated some time before sunrise. Each courtier received the mantle given by 
the King at the door of his room, and put it on in the dark without noticing 
the white cross ; but, when the day broke, to his great surprise, be saw the 
emblem worn by his neighbour, without knowing that he himself wore it 
also. " They were surprised and amused," says the English historian, " at 
finding that the King had thus piously entrapped them, . . . As it would 
have been unbecoming, shameful, and even unworthy of them to have removed 
these crosses, they laughed heartily, and said that the good King, on starting 
as a pilgrim-hunter, had found a new method of catching men." 

" The chaperon," adds M. Qnicherat, ''was the national head-dress of the 
ancient French, as the cucullus, which was its model, was that of the Gauls. 
TTe can imagine its appearance by its resemblance to the domino now worn 
at masked balls. The shape was much varied during the reign of Philippe 
le Bel, either by the diminution of the cape or by the lengthening of the 
hood, which was always sufficiently long to fall on the shoulders. In the first 
of these changes, the chaperon no longer being tied round the neck, required 
to be held on the head by something more solid. Fur this reason it was set 
on a pad or roll, which changed it into a regular cap. The material was so 
stitched as to make it take certain folds, which were arranged as puffs, as 
ruffs, or in the shape of a cock's comb ; this last fashion, called cockade, was 
especially in vogue (Fig. 419)— hence the origin of the French epithet 
coquard, which would be now expressed by the word dandy. 

"Hats were of various shapes. They were made of different kinds of 

5 3+ 


felt, or of otter or goat's skin, or of wool or cotton. The expression 
chapeau de flews (hat of flowers), which continually occurs in ancient works, 
did not mean any form of hat, but simply a coronet of forget-me-nots or 
roses, which was an indispensable part of dress for balls or festivities 

Fig. 420.— Costumes of a rich Bourgeoise, of a Peasant-woman, and of a Lady of the Nobility, 
of the Fourteenth Century.— From various painted Windows in the Churches of Moulins 

down to the reign of Philippe de Valois (1317). Frontlets (fronteaux), a 
species of fillet made of silk, covered with gold and precious stones, super- 
seded the chapeau de fleurs, inasmuch as they had the advantage of not fading. 
They also possessed the merit of being much more costly, and were thus the 


\ n 1 1 ilia fun.' from the lirfiinrij of tlir ranlinal ( in mam, attributed to Memlin;.' 
Ulbl. i.C S.iuii-M.n . . * ■;>«■<• 
. . ...: ;iL r tu M. Amln ni ■■ i'l'ii hi Indn'i. 



means of establishing in a still more marked manner distinctions in the social 
positions of the wearers. 

" There were two kinds of mantles ; one was open in front, and fell over 
the back, and a strap which crossed the chest held it fixed on the shoulders; 
the other, enveloping the body like a bell, was slit up on the right side, 
and was thrown back over the left arm; it was made with a fur collar, cut 
in the shape of a tippet. This last lias been handed down to us, and is worn 
by our judges under the name of toije and epitogc. 

" It is a very common mistake to suppose that the skirt is an article of 
dress of modern invention ; on the contrary, it is one of great antiquity, 
and its coming into general use is the only thing new about it. 

" Lastly, we have to mention the chape, which was always regarded as a 
necessary article of dress. The chcq>e was the only protection against bad 
weather at a period when umbrellas and covered carriages were unknown. 
It was sometimes called chain: tie phtie, on account of the use to which it was 
applied, and it consisted of a large cape with sleeves, and was completely 
waterproof. It was borne behind a master by his servant, who, on account of 
this service was called a portc-chape. It is needless to say that the common 
people carried it themselves, either slung over their backs, or folded under 
the arm.'' 

If we now turn to female attire, we shall find represented in it all the 
component parts of male dress, and almost all of them under the same 
names. It must be remarked, however, that the women's coats and sur- 
coats often trailed on the ground ; that the hat — which was generally called 
a coucre-chef, and consisted of a frame of wirework covered over with stuff 
which was embroidered or trimmed with lace — was not of a conical shape; 
and, lastly, that the chaperon, which was always made with a tippet, or 
c/iausse, never turned over so as to form a cap. We may add that the 
use of the couvre-chef did not continue beyond the middle of the four- 
teenth century, at which time women adopted the custom of wearing any 
kind of head-dress they chose, the hair being kept back by a. silken net, or 
cvcpnic, attached either to a frontlet, or to a metal fillet, or confined by a 
veil of very light material, called a molkquin (big- 420). 

With the aid of our learned guide we have now reached a, period (end 
of the thirteenth century) well adapted for this general study of the dress 
of our ancestors, inasmuch as soon afterwards men's dress at least, and 



Fig. 421. — Costumes of a young Nobleman and of a Bourgeois in the Fourteenth Century. — From 
a painted Window in the Church of Saint-Ouen at Rouen, and from a Window at Moulins 


especially that of young courtiers, became most ridiculously and even in- 
decently exaggerated. To such an extent was this the case, that serious 
calamities having befallen the French nation about this time, and its 
fashions having exercised a considerable influence over the whole continent 
of Europe, contemporary historians do not hesitate to regard these public 
misfortunes as a providential chastisement inflicted on Fiance for its dis- 
graceful extravagance in dress. 

"We must believe that God lias permitted this as a just judgment on 
us for our sins," say the monks who edited the " Grande Chronique de St. 
Denis" in 1346, at the time of the unfortunate battle of Cressv, " althouo-h 
it does not belong to us to judge. But what we see we testify to ; for pride 
was very great in France, and especially amongst the nobles and others, 
that is to say, pride of nobility, and eovetousness. There was also much 
impropriety in dress, and this extended throughout the whole of France. 
Some had their clothes so short and so tight that it required the help of two 
persons to dress and undress them, and whilst they were being undressed 
they appeared as if they were being skinned. Others wore dresses plaited 
over their loins like women ; some had chaperons cut out in points all 
round ; some had tippets of one cloth, others of another ; and some had their 
head-dresses and sleeves reaching to the ground, looking more like mounte- 
banks' than anything else. Considering all this, it is not surprising if God 
emploved the King of England as a scourge to correct the excesses of the 
French people." 

And this is not the only testimony to the ridiculous and extravagant 
tastes of this unfortunate period. One writer speaks with indignation of the 
goats' beards (with two points), which seemed to put the last finishing touch 
of ridicule on the already grotesque appearance of even the most serious 
people of that period. Another exclaims against the extravagant luxury 
of jewels, of gold and silver, and against the wearing of feathers, which 
latter then appeared for the first time as accessories to both male and 
female attire. Some censure, and not without reason, the absurd fashion 
of converting the ancient leather girdle, meant to support the waist, into 
a kind of heavy padded band, studded with gilded ornaments and precious 
stones, and apparently invented expressly to encumber the person wear- 
ing it. Other contemporary writers, and amongst these Pope Urban V. 
and King Charles V. (Fig. 422), inveigh against the poulaines, which had 

o z 



more than ever come into favour, and which were only considered correct in 
fashion when they were made as a kind of appendix to the foot, measuring 

Fig. 422. — Costume of Charles V., King of Fig.i23. — Costume of Jeanne de Bourbon, Wife 
France. — From a Statue formerly in the of Charles V. — From a Statue formerly in 

Church of the Celestins, Paris. the Church of the Celestins, Paris. 

at least double its length, and ornamented in the most fantastical manner. 
The Pope anathematized this deformity as " a mockery of God and the holy 
Church," and the King forbad craftsmen to make them, and his subjects to 


wear them. All this is as nothing in comparison with the profuse extrava- 
gance displayed in furs, which was most outrageous and ruinous, and of which 
we could not form an idea, wore it not for the items in certain royal documents, 
from which we gather that, in order to trim two complete suits lot- King 
John, no fewer than six hundred and seventy martens' skins were used. It 
is also stated that the Duke of Berry, the youngest son of that monarch, pur- 
chased nearly ten thousand of these same skins from a distant country in the 
north, in order to trim only five mantles and as many surcoats. We read 
also that a robe made for the Duke of Orleans, grandson of the same king, 
required two thousand seven hundred and ninety ermines' skins. It is 
unnecessary to state, that in consequence of this large consumption, skins 
could only be purchased at the most extravagant prices ; for example, fifty 
skins cost about one hundred francs (or about six thousand of present cur- 
rency), showing to what an enormous expense those persons were put who 
desired to keep pace with the luxury of the times (Fig. 424). 

We have already seen that Charles V. used his influence, which was unfor- 
tunately very limited, in trying to restrain the extravagance of fashion. This 
monarch did more than decree laws against indelicate or unseemly and 
ridiculous dress; he himself never wore anything but the Ion- ami ample 
costume, which was most becoming, and which had been adopted in the pre- 
ceding century. His example, it is true, was little followed, but it neverthe- 
less had this happy result, that the advocates of short and tight dresses, as if 
suddenly seized with instinctive modesty, adopted an upper garment, the 
object of which seemed to be to conceal the absurd fashions which they had 
not the courage to rid themselves of. This heavy and ungraceful tunic, 
called a housse, consisted of two broad bands of a more or less costly material, 
which, starting from the neck, fell behind and before, thus almost entirely 
concealing the front and back of the person, and only allowing the under 
garments to be seen through the slits which naturally opened on each side 

of it. 

A fact worthy of remark is, that whilst male attire, through a depravity 
of taste, had extended to the utmost limit of extravagance, women's dress, on 
the contrary, owing to a strenuous effort towards a. dignified and elegant 
simplicity, became of such a character that it combined all the most 
approved fashions of female costume which had been in use in former periods. 

The statue of Queen Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., formerly 



Fig. 424. — Costumes of Bourgeois or Merchant, of a Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court or rich 
Bourgeoise, with the Head-dress (escoffion) of the Fifteenth Century. — From a Painted Window 
of the Period, at Moulins (Bourbonnais), and from a Painting on Wood of the same Period, in 
the Musee de Cluny. 

placed with that of her husband in the Church of the Celestins at Paris, 
gives the most faithful representation of this charming costume, to which our 


artists continually have recourse when they wish to depicl any poetical scenes 
of the French Middle Ages (Fig. 423). 

This costume, without positively differing in style from that of the thir- 
teenth century, inasmuch as if was composed of similar elements, was never- 
theless to he distinguished by a degree of elegance which hitherto had been 
unknown. The coat, or under garment, which formerly only showed itself 
through awkwardly-contrived openings, now displayed the harmonious out- 
lines of the figure to advantage, thanks to the large openings in the overcoat. 
The. surcoat, kept back on the shoulders by two narrow bands, became a sort 
of wide and trailing skirt, which majestically draped tbe lower part of the 
body ; and, lastly, the external corset was invented, which was a kind of 
short mantle, falling down before and behind without concealing any of the 
fine outlines of the bust. This new article of apparel, which was kept in 
its place in the middle of the chest by a steel busk encased in some rich 
lace-work, was generally made of fur in winter and of silk in summer. If 
we consult the numerous miniatures in manuscripts of this period, in which 
the gracefulness of the costume was heightened by the colours employed, we 
shall understand what variety and what richness of effect coi dd be displayed 
without departing from the most rigid simplicity. 

One word more in reference to female head-dress. The fashion of wear- 
ing false hair continued in great favour dining the middle of the fourteenth 
century, and it gave rise to all sorts of ingenious combinations; which, how- 
ever, always admitted of the hair being parted from the forehead to the back 
of the head in two equal masses, and of being plaited or waved over the ears. 
Xets were again adopted, and head-dresses which, whilst permitting a display 
of masses of false hair, hid the horsehair or redded puffs. And, lastly, the 
excoffion appeared — a heavy roll, which, being placed on a cap also padded, 
produced the most clumsy, outrageous, and ungraceful shapes (Fig. 4'Jd). 

At the beginning of the fifteenth century men's dress was still very 
short. It consisted of a kind of tight waistcoat, fastened by tags, and 

O Jo" 

of very close-fitting breeches, which displayed the outlines of the figure. 
In order to appear wide at the shoulders artificial pads were worn, called 
tnahoitres. The hair was allowed to fall on the forehead in locks, which 
covered the eyebrows and eyes. The sleeves were slashed, the shoes armed 
with long metal points, and the conical hat, with turned- up rim, was 
ornamented with gold chains and various jewels. The ladies, dining the 




Fig. 425. — Italian Costumes of the Fifteenth Century : Notary and Sbirro. — From two Engravings 

in the Bonnart Collection. 

reign of Charles VI., still wore long trains to their dresses, which they 
carried tucked up under their arms, unless they had pages or waiting- 
maids (see chapter on Ceremonials). The tendency, however, was to shorten 



Fig. 426.— Costumes of a Mechanic's Wife and a rich Bourgeois in the latter part of the Fifteenth 
Century.— From Windows in the Cathedral of Moulins (Bourbonnais). 

these inconvenient trains, as well as the long hanging and embroidered in- 
fringed sleeves. On the other hand, ladies' dresses on becoming shorter were 
trimmed in the most costly manner. Their head-dresses consisted of very large 

54 + 


rolls, surmounted by a high conical bonnet called a hennin, the introduction 
of which into France was attributed to Queen Isabel of Bavaria, wife of 
Charles VI. It was at this period that they began to uncover the neck and 
to wear necklaces. 

Under Louis XL this costume, already followed and adopted by the 
greatest slaves of fashion, became more general. 

" In this year (1487)," saj^-s the chronicler Monstrelet, "ladies ceased to 
wear trains, substituting for them trimmings of grebe, of martens' fur, of 
velvet, and of other materials, of about eighteen inches in width ; some wore 
on the top of their heads rolls nearly two feet high, shaped like a round cap, 
which closed in above. Others wore them lower, with veils hanging from the 
top, and reaching down to the feet. Others wore unusually wide silk bands, 
with very elegant buckles equally wide, and magnificent gold necklaces of 
various patterns. 

"About this time, too, men took to wearing shorter clothes than ever, 
having them made to fit tightly to the body, after the manner of dressing 
monkeys, which was very shameful and immodest ; and the sleeves of their 
coats and doublets were slit open so as to show their fine white shirts. They 
wore their hair so long that it concealed their face and even their eyes, and 
on their heads they wore cloth caps nearly a foot or more high. They also 
carried, according to fancy, very splendid gold chains. Knights and squires, 
and even the varlets, wore silk or velvet doublets ; and almost every one, 
especially at court, wore poulaines nine inches or more in length. They also 
wore under their doublets large pads (tnahoitres), in order to appear as if 
they had broad shoulders." 

Under Charles VIII. the mantle, trimmed with fur, was open in front, 
its false sleeves being slit up above in order to allow the arms of the under 
coat to pass through. The cap was turned up ; the breeches or long hose 
were made tight-fitting. The shoes with poulaines were superseded by a 
kind of large padded shoe of black leather, round or square at the toes, and 
gored over the foot with coloured material, a fashion imported from Italy, 
and which was as much exaggerated in France as the poulaine had formerly 
been. The women continued to wear conical caps (hennins) of great height, 
covered with immense veils; their gowns were made with tight-fitting bodies, 
which thus displayed the outlines of the figure (Figs. 427 and 428) . 

Under Louis XII., Queen Anne invented a low head-dress — or rather it 

The cypher and arms of Henry 111. (lP l \»century.) 



Fig. 427.— Costume of Charlotte of Savoy, second Wife of Louis XI.— From a 1 icture of the 
Period formerly in the Castle of Bourbon-l'Aichambault, M. de Quedeville's .Collection, in Fans. 
The Arms of Louis XL and Charlotte are painted behind the pictvue. 

4 A 



Fig. 428.— Costume of Mary of Burgundy, Daughter of Charles the Bold, Wife of Maximilian of 
Austria (end of the Fifteenth Century). From an old Engraving in the Collection of the 
Imperial Library, Paris. 


was invented for her— consisting of strips of velvet or of black or violet 
silk over other bands of while linen, which encircled the lace and fell 
down over the back and shoulders ; the large sleeves of the dresses had 
a kind of turned-over borders, with trimmings of enormous width. Men 
adopted short tunics, plaited and tight at the waist. The upper part of the 
garments of both men and women was cut in the form of a square over the 
chest and shoulders, as most figures are represented in the pictures of Raphael 
and contemporarv painters. 

The introduction of Italian fashions, which in reality did not much 
differ from those which had been already adopted, but which exhibited 
better taste and a greater amount of elegance, dates from the famous expedi- 
tion of Charles VIII. into Italy (Figs. 429 and 130). Full and gathered or 
puffed sleeves, which gave considerable gracefulness to the upper part of the 
body, succeeded to the mahoitres, which had been discarded since the time 
of Louis XL A short and ornamented mantle, a broad-brimmed hat covered 
with feathers, and trunk hose, the ample dimensions of which earned for 
them the name of trous&es, formed the male attire at the end of the fifteenth 
century. Women wore the bodies of their dresses closely fitting to the figure, 
embroidered, trimmed with lace, and covered with gilt ornaments ; the sleeves 
were very large and open, and for the most part they still adhered to the 
heavy and ungraceful head-dress of Queen Anne of Brittany. The principal 
characteristic of female dress at the time was its fulness ; men's, on the con- 
trary, with the exception of the mantle or the upper garment, was usually 
tight and very scanty. 

We find that a distinct separation between ancient and modern dress took 
place as early as the sixteenth century ; in fact, our present fashions may be 
said to have taken their origin from about that time. It was during this 
century that men adopted clothes closely fitting to the body; overcoats with 
tight sleeves, felt hats with more or less wide brims, and closed shoes and boots. 
The women also wore their dresses closely fitting to the figure, with tight 
sleeves, low-crowned hats, and richly-trimmed petticoats. These garments, 
which differ altogether from those of antiquity, constitute, as it were, the 
common type from which have since arisen the endless varieties of male and 
female dress ; and there is no doubt that fashion will thus be continually 
changing backwards and forwards from time to time, sometimes returning to 
its original model, and sometimes departing from it. 



Figs. 429 anil 430.— Costumes of Young Nobles of the Court of Charles VIII., before and after the 
Expedition into Italy.— From Miniatures in two Manuscripts of the Period in the National 
Library of Paris. 

During the sixteenth century, ladies wore the skirts of their dresses, 
which were tight at the waist and open in front, very wide, displaying 
the lower part of a very rich under petticoat, which reached to the ground, 


completely concealing the feet. This, like the sleeves with puff's, which 
fell in circles to the wrists, was altogether an Italian fashion. Frequently 
the hair was turned over in rolls, and adorned with precious stones, and 
was surmounted by a small cap, coquettishly placed cither on one side 
or on the top of the held, and ornamented with gold chains, jewels, and 
feathers. The body of the dress was always long, and pointed in front. 
Men wore their coats cut somewhat after the same shape: their trunk hose 
were tight, but round the waist they were puffed out. They wore a cloak, 
which only reached as far as the hips, and was always much ornamented; 
they carried a smooth or ribbed cap on one side of the head, and a small 
upright collar adorned the coat. This collar was replaced, after the first 
half of the sixteenth century, by the high, starched ruff, which was kept out 
by wires ; ladies wore it still larger, when it had somewhat the appearance of 
an open fan at the back of the neck. 

If we take a retrospective glance at the numerous changes of costume 
which we have endeavoured to describe in this hurried sketch, we shall find 
that amongst European nations, during the Middle Ages, there was but one 
common standard of fashion, which varied from time to time according to the 
particular custom of each country, and according to the peculiarities of each 
race. In Italy, for instance, dress always maintained a certain character of 
grandeur, ever recalling the fact that the influence of antiquity was not quite 
lost. In Germany and Switzerland, garments had generally a heavy and 
massive appearance ; in Holland, still more so (Figs. 436 and 437). England 
uniformly studied a kind of instinctive elegance and propriety. It is a 
curious fact that Spain invariably partook of the heaviness peculiar to 
Germany, either because the Gothic element still prevailed there, or that 
the Walloon fashions had a special attraction to her owing to associations and 
general usage. France was then, as it is now, fickle and capricious, fantas- 
tical and wavering, but not from indifference, but because she was always 
ready to borrow from every quarter anything which pleased her. She, how- 
ever, never failed to put her own stamp on whatever she adopted, thus making 
any fashion essentially French, even though she had only just borrowed it 
from Spain, England, Germany, or Italy. In all these countries we have 
seen, and still see, entire provinces adhering to some ancient costume, causing 
them to differ altogether in character from the rest of the nation. This is 
simply owing to the fact that the fashions have become obsolete in the 




Fig. 431. — Costumes of a Nobleman or a very rich Bourgeois, of a Bourgeois or Merchant, and of a 
Noble Lady or rich Bourgeoise, of the Time of Louis XII. — From Miniatures in Manuscripts 
of the Period, in the Imperial Library of Paris. 

neighbouring places, for every local costume faithfully and rigorously pre- 
served by any community at a distance from the centre of political action or 
government, must have been originally brought there by the nobles of the 



Fig. 432. — Costume of a rich Bourgeoise, and of a Noble or Person of Distinction, of the Time ot 
Francis I. — From a Window in the Church of St. Ouen at Rouen, by Gaignieres (National 
Library of Paris). 

country. Thus the head-dress of Anne of Brittany is still that of the peasant- 
women of Penhoet and of Labrevack, and the hennin of Isabel of Bavaria is 
still the of Normandy. 

s; 2 


Although the subject has reached the limits we have by the very nature 
of this work assigued to it, we think it well to overstep them somewhat, in 
order briefly to indicate the last connecting link between modern fashions 
and those of former periods. 

Under Francis I., the costumes adopted from Italy remained almost 

Figs. 433 and 134. — Costumes of the Ladies and Damsels of the Court of Catherine de Medicis. — 

After Cesare Vecellio. 

stationary (Fig. 432). Under Henri II. (Figs. 433 and 434), and especially 
after the death of that prince, the taste for frivolities made immense progress, 
and the style of dress in ordinary use seemed day by day to lose the feu- 
traces of dignity which it had previously possessed. 

Catherine de Medicis had introduced into France the fashion of ruffs, and 


55 3 

ul the beginning of the fourteenth century, Marie de Jfedicis that of small 
collars. Dresses tight at the waist began to be made very full round the 
hips, by means of large padded rolls, and these were still more enlarged, 
under the name of rrrtitgtttliiis (corrupted from miu-gttrdieits), by a mon- 
strous arrangement of padded whalebone and steel, which subsequently 
became the ridiculous jjiutierx, which were worn almost, down to the com- 
mencement of the present century ; and the fashion seems likely to come 
into vogue again. 

Under the hist of the Talois, men's dress was short, the jacket was pointed 

Fij,-. 13.5.— Costume of a Uentlemun of the lnneli Ccimt, ;i the lind "1 the Sixteenth Century. 
Fur-simile of a Miniature in the " Livie de Poesies," Manuscript dedicated to Henri IV. 

and trimmed round with small peaks, the velvet cap was trimmed with 
aigrettes; the beard was pointed, a pearl hung from the left ear, and a small 
cloak or mantle was carried on the shoulder, which only reached to the 
waist. The use of gloves made of scented leather became universal. Ladies 
wore their dresses long, very full, and very costly, little or no change being 
made in these respects during the reign of Henri IT. At this period, the 
men's high hose were made longer and fuller, especially in Spain and the 
Low Countries, and the fashion of large soft boots, made of doeskin or of 
black morocco, became universal, on account of their being so comfortable. 

4 i; 

^5 + 


We may remark that the costume of the bourgeois was for a long time 
almost unchanged, even in the towns. Never having adopted either the 
tight-fitting hose or the balloon trousers, they wore an easy jerkin, a large 
cloak, and a felt hat, which the English made conical and with a broad brim. 

Towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, the high hose which 
were worn by the northern nations, profusely trimmed, was transformed into 
the, which was full and open at the knees. A division was thus 
suddenly made between the lower and the upper part of the hose, as if the 
garment which covered the lower limbs had been cut in two, and garters 
were then necessarily invented. The felt hat became over almost the whole 
of Europe a cap, taking the exact form of the head, and having a wide, flat 
brim turned up on one side. High heels were added to boots and shoes, 
which up to that time had been flat and with single soles. .... Two 
centuries later, a terrible social agitation took place all over Europe, after 
which male attire became mean, ungraceful, plain and more paltry than ever; 
whereas female dress, the fashions of which were perpetually changing from 
day to day, became graceful and elegant, though too often approaching to 
the extravagant and absurd. 

Fig-a. 436 and 437. — Costumes of the German Bourgeoisie in the Middle of il 
Sixteenth Century. — Drawings attributed to Holbein.