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EDWARD A. FREEMAN, M.A., Hon. D.C.L. & LL.D., 


" Gallorum levitas Germanos justifirabit; 
Italise gravitas Gallos confusa necabit ; 
Succumbet Gallus, ajuilse victricia regno, 
Mundus adorabit, erit urbs vix prxsule digna. 


Papa cito moritur, Caesar regnabit ubique, 
Sub quo tunc vana cessabit gloria cleri." 

Peter Langtoft, ii. 450. 


7$ n a o n : 


\_The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved.] 






I^jT^^I A J~h. m-w±*.a.\.» 


In preparing- this second edition for the press, I have made a 
few verbal improvements and added two or three notes 
bearing* on matters still more recent than the first appear- 
ance of the volume. Otherwise the book is unchanged. 

I trust in the course of the present year to bring out 
another collection of essays of the same kind, but bearing 
on other parts of history. 

Somerleaze, Wells, 

February 5th, 1872. 


The following essavs have been chosen out of a much larger 
number which have appeared in various periodical works. 
The principle on which they were chosen was that of selecting 
papers which referred to comparatively modern times, or, at 
least, to the existing states and nations of Europe. It is by 
a sort of accident that a large number of the pieces chosen 
have thrown themselves into something like a continuous 
series bearing on the historical causes of the great events of 
the last and the present year. In revising the essays, I have 
commonly let passages referring to the state of European 
politics ten or fifteen years back stand as they were written 
at first, merely adding a note whenever a note seemed to be 
called for. I have done the same whenever change of cir- 
cumstances or increase of knowledge on my own part has led 
me to change my views on any point. But whenever I could 
gain in accuracy of statement or in force or clearness of ex- 


pression, I have freely changed, added to, or left out, what I 
wrote in the first instance. To many of the essays I have 
added a short notice of the circumstances under which they 
were written. 

I have to thank Messrs. Longman for allowing me to re- 
print the essay which stands second in the series, the only 
one among several contributions of mine to the Edinburgh 
Review which seemed to come within the scope of the 
present volume. I have also to thank the publishers and 
editors of the Fortnightly, British Quarterly, North British, 
and National Reviews for leave to reprint the articles which 
appeared in their pages. It is much to be regretted that two 
of the Reviews which I have just mentioned have now to be 
reckoned among things of the past. 

If the present venture should prove successful, I hope that 
it mav be followed by a further selection from among my 
smaller writings, whether from among essays of the same 
class as those now reprinted, but bearing on earlier periods 
of history, or from among smaller pieces on various subjects 
not always Btrictly historical. 

■ -.< , Wells, 
August 9ft, 1871. 



The Mythical and Romantic Elements in Early English 

History (Fortnightly Review, May 1866) .. .. .. 1 

The Continuity of English History (Edinburgh Review, July 

- 1860) 40 

The Relations between the Crowns of England and Scotland 

(Fortnightly Review, June 1867) .. .. .. .. .. 53 

Saint Thomas of Canterbury and HD3 Biographers (National 

Review, April 1860) 79 

The Reign of Edward the Third (Fortnightly Review, May 1869) 114 
The Holy Roman Empire (North British Review, March 1865) .. 126 
The Franks and the Gauls (National Review, October 1860) . . 161 
The Early Sieges of Paris (British Quarterly Review, January 

1871) 207 

Frederick the First, King of Italy (National Review, January 

1861) 252 

The Emperor Frederick the Second (North British Beview, 

December 1866) 283 

Charles the Bold (National Review, April 1864, and Fortnightly 

Review, October 1868) 314 

Presidential Government (National Review, November 1864) .. 373 




I do not intend in the present Essay to enter into any full 
examination of the nature of mythical narratives, or syste- 
matically to compare those which we meet with in early 
English history with those which we meet with in the early 
history of other nations. The origin of mythical narratives in 
general, and the relation of the myths of one nation to those of 
others, is an important and fascinating subject, and one which 
has lately been zealously taken up by a special school of 
inquirers. The doctrine of the comparative mythologists 
traces the myths of at least all Aryan nations to a certain 
common stock of sayings, expressive of the chief phsenomena 
of nature. These sayings, set forth in the simple poetical 
language of an early age, have gradually grown into narra- 
tives of the adventures of personal beings. Zeus, for in- 
stance, is the Sky, Apollo the Sun, and the legends of Zeus 
and Apollo resolve themselves into poetical descriptions of 
those processes of nature in which the sky and the sun are 
concerned. This view must not be confounded with that of an 
earlier school of mythologists, who saw in the Grecian legends 
a system of physical truths set forth under the veil of allegory. 
The comparative school admits of nothing like conscious alle- 
gory. In the view of its followers the physical truth grows 
into the mythical story by a process perfectly gradual and 
unconscious. The doctrine is new and fascinating, and, as 



put fortli by Professor Max ?>Iuller and by Mr. G. W. Cox, 
it is in the highest degree capable of poetical treatment. 
But I must confess that I can as yet accept it only in a 
modified form. I mast make a distinction between legends 
of the Gods and legends of the Heroes — between myths 
which are gwrtsi'-thoological and myths which are quasi- 
historical. I can fully belieye that Zeus is the Sky and that 
Deineter is the Earth, and that the legends of Zens and 
Demeter arose from poetical statements of physical phe- 
nomena relating to the sky and the earth. But I confess 
that I haye some difficulty in accepting the doctrine that the 
mythical histories of Herakles.. of Meleagros, of Paris, of 
Achilleus, and of Odysseus, are all of them mythical ways 
of describing the daily course of the sun. The idea is most 
ingenious, and the way in which it is carried out is, in many 
of its details, not only ingenious, but highly beautiful. But I 
confess that I am as yet only half a belieyer. Perhaps I am 
under the influence of a dread that, if Achilleus and Odys- 
seus are ruled to be the sun, later heroes of mythology and 
romance, Arthur and Hengest and Cerdic and the Great Karl 
himself, may some day be found out to be the sun also. The 
fear is natural on the part of one who does not scruple to 
confess that he sees a certain historical -element alike in 
Hellenic and in Teutonic legend. Yet I am told that the 
fear is an unreasonable one, inasmuch as the two yiews are 
really not inconsistent. I am giyen to understand that 
Achilleus may be the sun, and yet that I may see, if I please, 
in Achilleus' conquest of Lesbos a fragment, however exag- 
gerated and distorted, of the real primitive tradition of the 
Hellenic conquest of the land which that conquest turned 
into Aiolis. Nay, I believe it is allowed that, if the Charle- 
magne of romance should also turn out to be the sun, the 
position of the historical Emperor Karl will be in no way 
damaged by the discovery. 

I mention all this only to show why I do not feel called 
on to enter into any scientific explanation of such mythical 
-Tories as I have here to deal with. J Leave them to in- 


quirers of another class, and I shall be well pleased if I find 
that my line of inquiry, though wholly different, is held by 
them not to be necessarily inconsistent with their own. But 
when I say that I recognize a certain historical element in 
the myths, I wish especially to guard against a probable 
misconception. I have as little sympathy with the old 
pragmatizing or Euhemeristic school of mythological inter- 
pretation as the comparative mythologists have with the old 
physical school. The pragrnatizers take a mythical story ; 
they strip it by an arbitrary process of whatever seems im- 
possible; they explain or allegorize miraculous details; and ? 
having thus obtained something which possibly may have 
happened, they give it out as something which actually did 
happen. This system has been thoroughly rooted up by 
Mr. Grote. It will never do to take the tale of Troy, to leave 
out all intervention of the Gods, and to give out the remnant 
as a piece of real Grecian history. It will never do, as Thu- 
cydides did, to piece out whatever seems unlikely by possible, 
but perfectly arbitrary, conjectures of our own. And yet I 
cannot but think that Mr. Grote goes too far in censuring all 
attempts to extract a certain amount of historical truth from 
the Trojan legend, or from any other legend. I will explain 
my notions on this head a little more fullv. But to do so, 
I must first explain the nature of what I understand by 
romantic as distinguished from mythical narratives. 

I divide then the statements contained in our early English 
history, or in any other history which may be chosen for our 
illustrations, into four classes— historical, romantic, traditional, 
and mythical. Of these I look on the mythical statements as 
standing to the traditional in the same relation in which the 
romantic statements stand to the historical. I shall therefore 
first inquire into the relation of these last two classes to one 
another, and then, arguing from the known to the unknown 
attempt to point out more briefly the light which these rela- 
tions cast on the obscurer relation between traditional and 
mythical statements. 

By historical statements I mean those which we accept as 

B 2 


undoubtedly true, as resting on contemporary or other suf- 
ficient evidence : say, that Eadward the Elder died in the 
year 925, and that iEthelstan his son was chosen King in his 
stead. Or perhaps the words " undoubtedly true " may be too 
strong ; for we often meet with statements which we must set 
down as historical, which we nevertheless receive with a certain 
hesitation, as resting on a mere balance of evidence. Owing 
to the natural imperfection of all human testimony, owing to 
unavoidable errors, to men's different ways of looking at things, 
to the way in which statements are, sometimes wilfully, some- 
times unconsciously, coloured by party spirit or other interested 
feelings — owing to all these causes, we often find contradictory 
statements of facts, between which w r e have to judge as we 
best can. but where there is nothing mythical or romantic 
about either version. Thus, in the whole career of Godwine 
and Harold, we have to pick our way between the opposite 
statements of friends and enemies. Both versions cannot be 
true ; but the version which we reject is not myth or romance, 
but mistake or calumny, as may happen. The true statement 
is historical — the false one we may call pseudo-historical; it 
assumes the form of history, and it is put forth in the hope 
and belief that it will be accepted as true. Such misstate- 
ments are, in a later stage, often adorned with romantic details 
— such, for instance, as we shall presently find in the legend 
of the death of Godwine — but in their original state they are 
not romance, but history misconceived or misrepresented. 

By romantic statements I understand stories about historical 
persons, which we set aside, sometimes as merely doubtful, 
sometimes as positively untrue, by other tests than those by 
which we distinguish historical from pseudo-historical state- 
ments. Around many famous men there gathers a mass of tales 
and anecdotes, the evidence for which is insufficient. Some- 
times all that we can say is that the evidence is insufficient. 
The story may be neither improbable in itself, nor inconsistent 
with the recorded actions and character of the person spoken 
of. Of this kind is a large proportion of the personal anecdotes 
handed down to us by Plutarch. They may have happened, 


but we cannot feel certain that they did happen. We know 
that anecdotes are often invented, and that they are often im- 
proved in the telling. We know that the fact of an anecdote 
being probable and characteristic is no proof of its historical 
truth. For clever anecdote-mongers always take care that 
their anecdotes shall be probable and characteristic. Many a 
living man has heard stories about himself, some of which are 
pure invention, some of which contain a kernel of truth, but 
which in both cases illustrate, if only by caricature, some real 
feature in his character. Stories of this sort, where a distinct 
play of fancy is at work, set us down within the borders of the 
land of romance. In j;se?«fo-historical statements, the narrator 
is either himself deceived, or he intentionally seeks to deceive 
others ; in purely romantic statements deception hardly 
comes in either way. The teller and the hearer have no set 
purpose to contradict historical truth ; they are simply 
careless about historical truth. They tell an attractive story, 
heedless whether it be true or false ; the tale may be coloured 
by the narrator's passions or opinions, but it is not a direct 
pleading on the side of those passions or opinions, as are the 
statements which I have called jpsew^o-historical. If the teller 
and the hearer have knowledge and tact enough, they will take 
care that the story, if not true, shall be at least characteristic. 
But in more careless hands no such propriety is aimed at. 
The tale may, in such a case, be utterly improbable from the 
beginning, or, though it may have been characteristic at 
starting, it may, in process of telling, get incrusted with 
circumstances which make it no longer even characteristic. 
Every detail is exaggerated, improved, or corrupted; and 
circumstances are brought in from other stories about other 
people. In this last process we come across one of the most 
fertile sources of legendary matter. 

There is a class of stories which seem to be the common 
property of mankind, and which may be said to go about the 
world with blanks for the names, dates, and places, ready to 
be filled up as occasion may serve. We meet with abundance 
of these stories both in undoubted mythology and in what 


professes to be history. Stories, for instance, of women falsely 
accusing men who have refused their favours, stories of Kings' 
daughters betraying their country for love of invaders who 
in the encV punish their treachery, turn up, with little more 
than the change of name, in all times and in all places. Now, 
stories of this sort we instinctively doubt, even in their earliest 
form, and in every later form we unhesitatingly reject them. 
It comes indeed within the compass of belief, and even of 
probability, that such a story may have happened once. In 
some cases indeed we may be sure that one form of the 
story is historical, the later repetitions only being legendary ; 
nay, it is within the compass of physical possibility that such 
a story may have happened several times. It is even possible, 
especially when a story occurs both in legend and in history, 
that the later story may be a conscious repetition of the earlier. 
Alexander may, as Mr. Grote believes, have dragged Batis at 
his chariot-wheels, in conscious imitation of the treatment of 
the body of Hektor by A chilleus. But the chances are always 
strongly against any tale of the kind. Knowing, as we do, 
the way in which stories grow and wander about, we need the 
strongest contemporary evidence to make us believe any of 
them. Take, for instance, one of the best known of the class. 
There is nothing actually impossible in the story of a father 
being set to shoot an apple off his son's head. We should have 
no difficulty in believing the fact on sufficient evidence. But 
when we see the story turning up in various forms in various 
places, when in some instances it is evidently a mere tale, when 
in no instance does it rest upon any convincing testimony, wo 
set it down as simply one of the stories which make the round 
of the world. Another point must be mentioned, namely 
that, when we have two or more stories of this sort, there is 
no need to suppose that any one of them is borrowed from any 
other. So to argue is like deriving Greek from Sanscrit, or 
French from Italian. Those who told the story of l'alnatoki 
could not have heard the story of William Tell, and it is not 
likely that those who told the story of William Tell had 
hoard the story of Palnatoki. It is far more probable that 


both are portions of that general stock of romantic narrative 
which is the common property of mankind. 

By romantic narratives then I understand stories about 
historical persons, which are neither historical nor fseudo- 
historical, neither real truth nor invention with a purpose, 
but mere plays of fancy, in which historical truth is simply 
disregarded. In most of them there is probably a kernel of 
truth ; in some of them we can see what the kernel of the 
truth is ; but all the colouring, all the circumstances, every- 
thing which gives life to the story, are, at the best, doubtful, 
and are in many cases clearly fictitious. The story, at its 
best, cannot be proved to be true, and in many cases it 
can be proved to be false. Such a story may be laudatory, 
or it may be calumnious. In such a case we may feel sure 
that, in its first form, it was put forth by the friends or by 
the enemies of the person spoken of; but as the story 
grows, virtues are heightened, vices are blackened, new good 
actions and new crimes are attributed to the hero, by the 
mere process of mythopoeic growth, without any regard to 
truth, but without any intentional departure from it. Truth 
and falsehood, as I have before said, are matters foreign 
to the state of mind both of the teller and of his hearers. 
Of this state of mind Mr. Grote gives a lucid explanation 
in the chapter on mythical narratives to which I have 
already referred. Stories of this sort, as long as they are 
acknowledged to be mere stories, may often be told and 
heard with real pleasure. The evil begins when they are 
mistaken for history, as they constantly are, and that some- 
times at a time surprisingly near to the period at which they 
are said to have happened. Our early English history, and 
all early history is full of them. To show their true charactv r 
is one of the highest duties of the historian ; but none of his 
duties runs more distinctly counter to popular prejudice, there 
is none in the discharge of which the results of his labour 
are more distasteful to large classes of his readers. With 
most people our early history is a mere collection of legends. 
iElfred is simply the King who forgot to turn the cakes, or, 


in another form, the King who invented trial by jury. Eadgar 
is the King who imposed a tribute of wolves' heads upon the 
Welsh, or the King who slew iEthelwald and married his 
widow. Dunstan is the monk who took the devil by the nose, 
or possibly the Archbishop who caused iElfgifu to be put to a 
horrible death. In all these cases history is simply sacrificed 
to silly stories. The real actions of very remarkable men are 
utterly forgotten, because their names have got inseparably 
attached to legends which at best are doubtful, and which in 
most cases can be shown to be untrue. Yet many people cry 
out as if some wrong were done to them, as if the grounds of 
all human belief were shaken, when they are simply asked to 
accept history and to reject fable, to see which statements 
rest on evidence and which do not, and to believe or dis- 
believe according as such a test requires. People deliberately 
set themselves against the truth ; sometimes because truth 
contradicts some prejudice, sometimes merely to escape the 
trouble of inquiry. But the case becomes worse when the 
prejudice to be fought against takes the form of some political 
or provincial point of honour. For instance, the character 
of the greatest of England's later Kings is blackened in 
popular estimation, because people will accept late legends 
and ballads rather than the undoubted history written clown 
at the time. History sets before us William Wallace as 
quidam latro 'publicus, the savage devastator of England ; it 
sets before us Robert Bruce as a traitor in turn to every 
cause, as a pardoned rebel, who at last took to patriotism as 
his only chance to escape the punishment of a treacherous 
private murder. It sets before us the great Edward as 
simply asserting the acknowledged rights of more than three 
hundred years — rights as fully acknowledged by his Scottish 
vassals as by his English subjects.* It sets him before us as 

* Nothing could be more strictly just than Edward's whole dealing in 
the affair of the disputed fief. His singular disinterestedness stands out 
most clearly in the refusal of the proposal to divide the kingdom made by 
Hastings and the elder Bruce. Nothing could have been more tempting 
than such a proposal to a suzerain whose clear interest it was to have 
three weak vassals rather than one powerful one. Bui Edward, as ever, 


acting throughout with a justice and a disinterestedness to 
which his age, or any age, affords few parallels — as acting 
throughout in strict adherence to law and right, and, after 
repeated provocations, staining his conquest with the smallest 
amount of bloodshed on record. But it makes a prettier 
story to tell of the hairbreadth scapes of hunted patriots than 
to record the real actions of a wise and righteous King. The 
legend therefore turns out the history. Scotch people make 
it a point of provincial honour to reject the truth, and 
English people — more unpardonably still — reject it simply 
because the legend is thought to be prettier. To crown the 
whole thing, novelists not only substitute the legend for the 
history, but alter the history itself to make the tale more 
convenient still. I believe there is a Scotch story-book 
which makes the great Edward, and not his wretched son, 
light the losing fight of Bannockburn, and I dare say there 
are people, both Scotch and English, who believe that it 
really was so. 

This is the sort of difficulty against which simple historic 
truth has to struggle. In many cases it illustrates the pro- 
verb that there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. 
To those who are accustomed to look facts in the face, it is 
hard to understand the clinging to a story as a truth simply 
because the story is pretty. As an avowed fable, as a mere 
novel, it would be just as pretty to hear. A romance without 
a shadow of truth may be exquisitely beautiful as a story, 
and the most severe historian has no wish to interfere with 
anyone enjoying his favourite legend on those terms. All 
that he asks is that truth should never be tampered with, 
when truth, and not artistic beauty, is the question at issue. 
Belief is purely a matter of evidence, not a matter of taste or 
of prejudice. But disbelief of a story as a matter of historic 

stuck to his motto — pactum serva ; he scorned all such considerations, 
and adjudged the whole fief to the lawful heir. If any one wishes to 
see the difference between an honest man and a rascal, let him com- 
pare the dealings of Edward with John of Balliol in the matter of 
Scotland, and the dealings of Philip of Fiance with Edward in the matter 
of Aquitaine. 


reality is consistent with the fullest appreciation of the 
artistic beauties of the tale which is pronounced to be histo- 
rically false. The historic mind is never offended by either 
myth or romance as such, but only when people obstinately 
cling to them to the rejection of historic truth. Thus the 
legends of ^Elfred are singularly beautiful ; the legends of 
Dunstan are disgustingly absurd. We can, as a matter of 
taste, enjoy the one and despise the other, while, as a 
matter of historic truth, we hold both to be equally 
worthless. The legend of William Tell throws a halo over 
the marketplace of Altdorf, and the legend of Achilleus 
throws a halo over the plains of Ilios, which can be as fully 
entered into by those who distinguish between history and 
legend, as by those who make their prejudices the measure 
of their belief. In fact, the lovers of legendary lore lose 
nothing by accepting the historic standard. A new source 
of enjoyment is opened to them, and the old one is not 
taken away. 

I will now take two well-known legends in early English 
history, and attempt to dissect them, and to trace their several 
elements to their respective sources. In both cases we shall 
find a certain kernel of truth round which a whole tissue of 
romance has been woven. 

In the year 933 the iEtheling Eadwino, son of King 
Eadward the Elder, and brother of the reigning King yEthel- 
stan, was drowned at sea. This simple entry is all that we 
find in the English Chronicles, and there is nothing about the 
entry to make us suspect any sort of foul play. We are at 
our.- reminded of the similar fate of a later iEth cling, William 
tlw son of Henry the First; and there is nothing to make us 
think that the prince who was drowned in 933 came to his 
end in any other way than the prince who was drowned in 
1120. Among later writers, Eenry of Huntingdon, who so 
often preserves fragments of early tradition, records the 
drowning of Eadwine as a misfortune clouding the otherwise 
successful career of JEthelstan : " Adversa pcrcussus fortuna 


fratrem suum Edwinum, inagni vigoris juvenein et bonse 
indolis, maris fhictibus flebiliter amisit." Not a hint is here 
given that iEthelstan had any hand in his death, but quite 
the contrary. But on turning to Simeon of Durham, who 
wrote in the twelfth century, but who copied a much earlier 
Northumbrian Chronicle, we are amazed to find a direct asser- 
tion that Eadwine was drowned bv order of his brother : 
" Bex iEthelstanus jussit Eadwinum fratrem suum submergi 
in mare." We are amazed at such a charge brought against 

O Do 

one of our noblest Kings, a prince with whose whole character 
such a crime seems specially inconsistent. Nothing stands 
out more conspicuously in the reign of " glorious JEthelstan " 
than the care which, himself childless and probably un- 
married, he took of his numerous brothers and sisters, and 
the harmony in which he always appears to act with them. 
On the field of Brunanburh the roval brothers, iEthelstan 
and Eadmund, appear side by side, almost like the Kastor 
and Polydeukes of Grecian legend. Can we believe such a 
tale of such a man ? We might look at the story as a mere 
piece of slander, invented by the Northumbrian enemies of 
the West-ISaxon conqueror. But it is far more likely that 
the story is a mere bit of romance, which the Northumbrian 
chronicler inserted in his annals — a very likely bit of romance 
to be preserved in a dry pragmatized form, but for the 
genuine romantic shape of which we must look elsewhere. 
The garrulous pages of William of Malmesbury help us to 
the key. I will translate the tale as William gives it : — 

" When King Eadward was dead, his son iElfward, born of his lawful 
wife,* followed his father by a speedy death. Then, when the hopes of all 
were fixed upon JEthelstan, j3Elfred alone, a man of great insolence, with 
his party, resisted secretly as much as he could, disdaining to be subject to 
a lord whom he had not chosen of his own will. But when he, as tho 

* This qualification alludes to the legend, which William had just before 
told, which represents vEthelstan as the natural son of Eadward by a 
shepherd's daughter. This again is a mere legend, which, with its accom- 
paniment of dreams and marvels, doubtless made a very pretty story in 
some ballad. 


King told the tale above,* was discovered, and had ended his life, there were 
some who accused Eadwine, the King's brother, of treachery — a horrid and 
foul crime to disturb brotherly affection by hostile suggestions. Eadwine, 
though calling on his brother's faith, both in person and by messengers, 
and even denying the charge on oath, was driven into banishment. The 
insinuations of some men had so far prevailed over a mind occupied by 
many cares, that, forgetting the ties of kindred, he drove out a youth whom 
even strangers might have pitied, and that with an unheard-of kind of 
cruelty, for he was compelled, alone with his armour-bearer, to embark in 
a boat, without oars or rowers, and moreover rotten with age. Fortune 
laboured for a long while to bring back the guiltless to the shore. But 
when at last, in the midst of the sea, the sails could not abide the fury of 
the wind, he, as a delicate youth, and weary of life in such a case, sought 
death by a sudden plunge into the water. His armour-bearer, with wiser 
mind enduring to prolong his life, now evading the adverse waves, now 
rowing with his feet, brought the body of his master to land, namely, over 
the narrow sea from Dover to Witsaud. iEthelstan, when his anger had 
cooled, was shocked at the deed in his calmer mood, and having undertaken 
a seven years' penance, avenged himself wrathfully on the accuser of his 
brother. He was the King's cupbearer, and had therefore opportunities of 
effectually pressing any of his schemes. Therefore, once, when on a solemn 
day he was handing wine to the King, slipping with one foot, he recovered 
himself with the other; then, seizing the occasion, he uttered a word fatal 
to himself — ' So brother helps brother.' When the King heard that, he 
commanded the traitor to be beheaded, oftentimes speaking aloud of the 
help which he should have had from his brother, if he had lived, and 
bitterly lamenting his death." 

Such is William of Malmesbury's tale, on which be himself 
thus comments : — 

"This story of the death of his brother, although it seems probable, 1 
affirm with less confidence, because he showed a wonderful and affectionate 
care towards his other brothers, whom, when their father had left them as 
mere children, he brought up while young with every kindness, and when 
grown-up made them partners in his kingdom. Of his sisters, I have already 
said to what greatness he promoted those among them whom his father 
had left unmarried and untochered.'' 

The readers of Livy will remember the story of the stra- 
tagems of Sextus Tarquinius at Gabii, a tale made out of two 

* Namely, in a real or spurious charter of ^thelstan which William had 
quoted a little time before, and in which /Ethelstan tells the tale in his 
own person. According to this story, iElfred was sent to Rome to deny 
his conspiracy on oath before the Pope. He swore of course falsely, fell 
down before the altar of Saint Peter's, and died on the third day, 


stories which are also found in Herodotus. The trick by 
which Sextus gains admission into Gabii comes from the same 
source as the trick by which Zopyros gains admission into 
Babylon. The policy recommended to Sextus by his father's 
symbolical action is the same as the policy recommended to 
Periandros of Corinth by the like symbolical action of 
Thrasyboulos of Miletos. Our present story of Eadwine is a 
compound story of the same class. It is made up of several 
current tales, which have had their blanks filled up with the 
names of iEthelstan, Eadwine, and the cupbearer, while any 
other names would have done just as well. A number of 
floating tales have gathered themselves, like barnacles on a 
plank, round the simple fact that Eadwine was drowned. 
The treacherous servant who falsely accuses his lord's wife, 
or son, or brother, is one of the stock characters of story- 
tellers in all time and places. He is always found out and 

punished when too late. 

" Likewise he made the master-cook 

In boiling lead to stand, 
And made the simple scullion-boy 

The heir of all his land." 
This was the ending of a nursery-tale * which delighted and 
horrified my own childhood, and the master-cook and .ZEtkel- 
stan's cupbearer are only different forms of a single legendary 
sinner. But we may get more into detail than this. Stories of 
people exposed in boats, and being carried safely to some shore 
or other, are exceedingly common. To speak of no others, one 
is introduced into legendary English history in the century 
before .ZEthelstan. Lothebrok, a Dane of royal descent, is 
driven by a storm to the coast of East-Anglia with only his 
hawk on his wrist. He is there murdered by Biorn, the 
huntsman of Saint Eadmund, King of the East-Angles. 
Eadmund exposes the murderer in an open boat like his 
victim. Biorn is carried to Denmark, as Lothebrok was to 
England, and there, of course telling the story his own way, 
he excites the sons of Lothebrok to vengeance against his 
own master. He thus leads to the Danish conquest of East- 
* It may be found in Percy's TColiques. 


Anglia, and to the martyrdom of Eadmuud. It required a 
little invention to piece this story on to the fact that Eadwine 
was drosvned; but this difficulty was got over by the intro- 
duction of the armour-bearer. The latter part of the tale 
comes over again in the Norman legend of Earl Godwine, 
which also contains details somewhat similar to those of the 
death of iElfred. I will translate the tale as it is told in its 
fulness by Eoger of Wendover, or those whom he copied : — 

" In the year of grace 1054, Eadward, King of the English, kept the 
Taschal festival at Winchester, where, as the said King was sitting at the 
table, as his cupbearer was carrying to the table a royal beaker full of 
wine, he struck one foot against the floor of the house, but recovering him- 
self with the other foot, he escaped falling. When Earl Godwine saw this 
as he was sitting, according to custom, by the King at dinner, he said, ' This 
brother brought help to his brother.' On this the King ironically answered 
him, ' My brother might now help me, if it had not been for the treachery 
of Godwine.' Then Godwine, who had betrayed the King's brother, being 
much distressed at the King's answer, replied : ' I know, King,' said he — ' I 
know that you suspect me of the death of your brother iElfred ; but may 
God, who is true and righteous, not let this morsel of bread which I hold 
pass my throat without choking me, if your brother ever underwent death 
or hurt of his body through me or by my device ! ' When he had said this, 
the King blessed the morsel, which Godwine put in his mouth, and, conscious 
of his guilt, was choked and died. When the King saw him dead and pale, 
4 Drag out,' said he, ' this dog, and bury him in the highway, for he is un- 
worthy to have Christian burial ! ' When his sons, who were present, saw 
that, they dragged out their father from the table, and buried him in the 
Old Minster of that city, the King knowing nothing at all about it." 

Now the whole Norman account of Godwine is in itself 
one of the best specimens of the growth of legend, the par- 
ticular course taken by invention being in this case dictated 
by political enmity. This whole romance of the death of 
Godwine, which "William of Malmesbury gives in an inter- 
mediate shape, has gathered round the simple fact that the 
Earl fell down in a fit while at dinner with the King, and 
died four days after. But I am now concerned with it only 
as showing that the story of " brother helps brother " was a 
current one, ready to be fitted into any place which it would 
at all suit. Roger, who gives it in the legend of Godwine, 
does not bring it into the legend of .ZEthelstan, and William, 


who gives it in the legend of iEthelstan, does not give 
it in the legend of Godwine. The seven years' penance 
of -ZEthelstan also seems borrowed from the seven years' 
penance said, with better likelihood of truth, to have been 
imposed by Dunstan on Eadgar for the seduction of 

We thus see what the elements of romance really are 
which have gathered round a very simple historical fact. I 
may add that chronology alone upsets the legend. The 
legend connects Ead wine's death with an opposition to 
iEthelstan's election to the crown. But .ZEthelstan was 
chosen King in 925, while Eadwine was not drowned till 
933. A seven years' penance again, dating from this last 
year, would reach to the end of iEthelstan's reign, and 
would take in his most important actions. 

For my own part I hold, not only that the details of the 
exposure of Eadwine and of the punishment of the cupbearer 
are altogether unhistorical — which I suppose few people will 
deny — but that there is no evidence at all to connect iEthel- 
stan in any way with the death of his brother. But if anyone 
chooses to accept the Northumbrian statement as historical, 
all that I have said will equally apply. The legendary 
details will have grown in exactly the same way round an 
historical kernel, just like the legendary details of the death 
of Godwine. 

The second story which I have chosen as an illustration of 

the romantic element in what passes for our early history is 

one which I imagine to be more commonly known than that 

of the death of Eadwine, namely the legend of Eadgar and 

his wife -ZElfthryth, commonly Latinized into iElfrida. This 

I cannot do better than introduce with the comments made 

on it by Lord Macaulay in the preface to the " Lays of 

Ancient Borne :" — 

" ' History,' says Hume, with the utmost gravity, ' has preserved some 
instances of Edgar's amours, from which, as from a specimen, we may form 
a conjecture of the rest.' He then tells very agreeably the stories of Elfleda 
and Elfrida — two stories which have a most suspicious air of romance, and 


which greatly resemble, in their general character, some of the legends of 
early Eome. He cites, as his authority for these two tales, the Chronicle of 
William of Malmesbury, who lived in the time of King Stephen. The great 
majority of readers suppose that the device by which Elfleda was substi- 
tuted for her young mistress, the artifice by which Athel wold obtained the 
hand of Elfrida, the detection of that artifice, the hunting-party, and the 
vengeance of the amorous King, are things about which there is no more 
doubt than abont the execution of Anne Boleyn, or the slitting of Sir John 
Coventry's nose. But when we turn to William of Malmesbury, we find 
that Hume, in his eagerness to relate these pleasant fables, has overlooked 
one very important circumstance. William does indeed tell both the 
stories ; but he gives distinct notice that he does not warrant their truth, 
and that they rest on no better authority than that of ballads. Such is the 
way in which these two well-known tales have been handed down. They 
originally appeared in a poetical form. They found their way from ballads 
into an old chronicle. The ballads perished, the chronicle remained. A 
great historian, some centuries after the ballads had been altogether forgotten, 
consulted the chronicle. He was struck by the lively colouring of these 
ancient fictions ; he transferred them to his pages ; and thus we find inserted, 
as unquestionable facts, in a narrative which is likely to last as long as the 
English tongue, the inventions of some minstrel whose works were probably 
never committed to writing, whose name is buried in oblivion, and whose 
dialect has become obsolete." 

A professed student of early English history may be a 
little amused at finding the work of William of Malmesbury 
called a " Chronicle," and at finding David Hume spoken of 
as " a great historian." But, low as I rate the confused and 
rambling narrative of William, he at least stands out here in 
honourable contrast to Hume.* The monk of Malmesbury 
had some notion of the difference between truth and false- 
hood, between history and legend ; the Scotch philosopher, it 
seems, had absolutely none. But the process by which 
legend gets transmuted into apparent history could not have 
been better described than it is by Lord Macaulay, and he 
could not have found better instances to illustrate his posi- 
tion. But it is needful to go a little further into the matter 
than Lord Macaulay has done. The story, as told by William 

* [I now rank William of Malmesbury higher than 1 did. His narrative 
is "confused and rambling;" his neglect of chronology makes him most 
provoking to one who consults him : but no one more commonly gives us 
two sides of a story, and no contemporary writer makes, as may be seen in 
the extract already given, a nearer approach to historical criticism.] 


of Malinesbury, is not the only form of the legend, and I do 
not think that it is the oldest form. It bears signs of being 
improved from another still extant version. It is improved 
at once by the doing-away of one or two manifest contradic- 
tions, and by the introduction of one or two incidents which 
are not found in the earlier version, and which, if they 
increase the criminal horrors of the story, certainly add to its 
poetical effect. But let us first see what the history is. In 
the English Chronicles we read, under the year 965 : * — 

" This year Eadgar King took iElfthryth to him to Queen. She was 
Ordgar Ealdorman's daughter." 

Florence of Worcester, the best of our Latin writers, the 
discreet and careful translator and harmonist of the English 
Chronicles, tells us one more circumstance about iElfthryth. 
She was the widow of iEthelwald, Ealdorman of the East- 
Angles : — 

" Rex Anglorum pacificus Eadgarus Ordgari Ducis Domnama? filiam, M\(- 
thrytham nomine, post mortem viri sni iEthehvaldi, gloriosi Ducis Orien- 
talium Anglorum, in matrimonium accepit." 

Henry of Huntingdon, who so often preserves older tradi- 
tions, is silent. 

Thus far, and it is as far as certain history goes, there is 
not the slightest shadow of crime or scandal thrown upon the 
matter. The King, himself a widower, marries the daughter 
of one of his chief nobles, the widow of another. We know 
indeed that the character of neither husband nor wife was 
altogether spotless. Eadgar, the lover of the nun | Wulf- 
thryth, was not absolutely perfect in his relations with 
women ; and iElfthryth afterwards incurred a suspicion, 
amounting almost to certainty, of being concerned in the 
death of her stepson Eadward.J But, as far as her marriage 

* Florence makes it 964. This difference of a year, owing to imperfect 
calculations, is very common. 

f It is not perfectly clear whether Wulfthryth was a professed nun, but, at 
any rate, the sanctity of the cloister was invaded. 

% " Give a dog a bad name and hang him." When IElfthryth \s character 
was damaged in one way, it was easy to make stories to her discredit in 



goes, there is nothing at all in the recorded history to make 
us look on the transaction as being otherwise than regular and 
honourable. Yet the mere fact of scandalous stories arising, 
if it does not exactly prove anything, at least awakens our 
suspicions. And in this case, there is something like internal 
evidence for some small part of the legend. Let us then 
examine its different versions in detail, beginning with the 
familiar story as told by William of Malrnesbury. 

Eadgar, according to this legend, hears of the beauty of 
Ordgar's daughter, and thinks of marrying her. But he first 
sends his confidential favourite .ZEthelwald to see whether 
report spoke truly of her. JEthelwald goes to her father's 
house, falls in love himself, and marries her, persuading the 
King that she is unworthy of a royal alliance. After a while 
Eadgar hears of the deception, and proposes a visit to 
.ZEthelwald. .ZEthelwald, in his alarm, tells his wife how he 
obtained her, and begs her to disguise her beauty from the 
King. Instead of so doing she adorns herself to the utmost 
of her power. Eadgar becomes enamoured, and kills iEthel- 
wald at a hunting-party. He turns round to iEthelwald's 
natural son, who happens to be present, and asks how he 
likes such a quarry. The youth answers that whatever 
pleases the King pleases him. Eadgar takes him into his 
special favour, and marries the widow iElfthryth. 

But the story, as told by Geoffrey Gaimar, and in the Chro- 
nicle known as that of Bromton, is widely different. It is 
not only told with much greater detail, but it contradicts the 
other version in some of the essential parts of the story. 
Down to the marriage of iEthelwald and iElftkryth there is 
no substantial difference. But at that point the stories part 
company. Eadgar's visit to iEthelwald does not take place 
till after iElftkryth has borne a son, whom the King holds at 

other ways. There is a wild fahle in the Eistoria Eliensis, about her and 
Brihtnoth, Abbot of Ely, in which she is first described as a witch, and 
then made to play the part of Zuleikha to the Abbot's Joseph. Of course 
such changes arc made as were Deeded to adapt the story to the case of a 
widow — fur the tale is placed after the death of Eadgar — instead of that of 
a married woman. 


the font, and to whom he gives his own name, but without 
having seen his mother. iEthelwald purposely asks the 
King to become godfather to the child, in order that he 
might thereby contract a spiritual affinity with the mother. 
iEthelwald is thus put more at his ease as to any possible 
designs on the part of the King, either on the virtue of 
iElfthryth or on his own life. Then comes the story of the 
visit, essentially the same as in William's version, only it is 
told, by Bromton at least, with much greater detail, and with 
a fervid description of the growth of Eadgar's passion. Eadgar 
then considers how he may get rid of iEthelwald by craft. 
He holds a meeting of his " parliament " at Salisbury, and, as 
the Danes had lately invaded Yorkshire, it is determined to 
send iEthelwald to the defence of that country. He is met 
on the road in Wherwell Forest by armed men — whether 
sent by Eadgar or not, neither Geoffrey nor Bromton ven- 
tures to decide — who kill him. Eadgar marries the widow* 
contrary to the canon law, which forbade marriage with the 
parent of a godchild. For this he is rebuked by Saint 
Dunstan, who pronounces the marriage to be mere adultery, 
and requires Eadgar to separate from his wife. So great 
however is his love for her, that he can never bring himself 
to do so. 

Let us compare these two stories. The latter, I may re- 
mark, though improbable, is just possible, and I suspect that 
it contains one little germ of truth which explains how the 
whole story arose. The main improbability lies in the utter 
misconception of iEthelwald's position, which however would 
not necessarily involve the falsehood of the rest of the story. 
iEthelwald was the son of iEthelstan, the reigning Ealdor- 
man of the East- Angles, and he was associated with his father 
in that dignity, one short only of royalty. In the story he 
is represented as a needy adventurer, glad to marry the 
daughter of the rich Ordgar, and when married, he lives in 
Devonshire, with or near his father-in-law.* The deception 

* Neither Geoffrey Gaimar nor William of Malmosbury makes any 
allusion to iEthelwald being Ealdorman of the East-Angles. Bromton 

c 2 


and the visit are of course just possible, though we may 
safely set them aside as mere romance. But the birth of the 
child to whom the King is godfather, the essential point of 
difference between this version and the other, is much more 
likely to contain a germ of truth. That the marriage of 
Eadgar and iElfthryth was in some way uncanonical, and 
brought husband and wife under Dunstan's rebuke, is per- 
fectly probable, and it is not the sort of thing which a mere 
minstrel would invent. On the other hand, it might be 
thought that we have here some confusion between iElfthryth 
and Wulfthryth, and that the legend-maker was thinking of 
the penance imposed on Eadgar by Dunstan for the sacri- 
legious abduction of a consecrated virgin. But I think that 
in this breach of canonical rule we shall find the real germ 
of truth in the story. The way in which the tale goes on is 
very remarkable. The narrator clearly has the story of 
David and Uriah in his head, and to make the parallel 
complete, he ought to kill iEthelwald by the sword of the 
Danes. But he stops short in a most lame and impotent 
way, killing him on the road to his new government, and 
not venturing to say whether those who killed him were the 
King's agents or not. It strikes me that a piece of genuine 
history or tradition stood in the way of the original romancer. 
Let us suppose that zEthelwald really was murdered by some 
unknown persons, and that Eadgar married the widow in 
breach of some canonical restriction,* and we have the germ 
round which the whole story grew. By a supposition of this 

makes him at once the King's secretary and Ealdorman of the East- Angles, 
and makes him talk of himself as a poor man to whom a rich mar- 
riage was desirable. Of course the original legend knew nothing of liis 
dignity, but Bromton put in the title of Ealdorman without thinking of the 

* It would be simpler and more natural to suppose a marriage entered 
into with indecent haste after the death of the first husband, but there is 
reason to believe that two or three years passed between the death of 
TEthelwald and the marriage of his widow. Up to 962 iEthelwald signs 
charters in company with his father /Ethclstan ; in that year he ceases to 
do so, and his brother vEthelwinr takes his place. It is therefore almost 
certain that. ^Sthelwald died in 962. 


kind we get at the origin of the legend, which otherwise is 
puzzling. If there were nothing remarkable about the 
marriage, whence all this talk about it ? If .ZEthelwald died 
a violent death, and if the marriage of his widow was un- 
canonical, though there would be no proof at all of any 
criminality on the part of Eadgar and .ZElfthry th beyond the 
mere breach of the canon law, there would be quite enough 
to set slanderous tongues on imagining moral aggravations of 
their formal offence. 

If this be so, we have, just as in the case of Eadwine, a germ 
of truth round which a certain portion of fabulous matter has 
gathered. It is almost necessary to suppose something of 
the kind to account for the existence of the legend at all. 
In the case of Eadwine, the manner of his death, as recorded 
in the Chronicles, suggested the tale of his exposure ; but in 
the simple record of the marriage of Eadgar and iElfthryth 
there is nothing to suggest any one feature of the tale. I 
think then that we may assume a violent death of .ZEthel- 
wald and an uncanonical remarriage of his widow as almost 
certain. To this germ of truth the first romantic narrative 
added the story of the deception of Eadgar by .ZEthelwald 
and the visit of the King to iElfthryth. The next stage 
took a much greater liberty with the facts. The story now 
probably got into other hands. The tale in Bromton has an 
ecclesiastical tone about it : it turns on a breach of canonical 
rule, and one object of it is to set forth the holy courage of 
Dunstan in rebuking a royal offender. As a mere story, it 
is but a lame one ; iEtkelwald is killed somehow, but the 
tale-teller does not know exactly how : he suspects the King, 
but he does not venture directly to accuse him. This is a 
state of mind which in an historian is often highly praise- 
worthy, but it is not one suited to produce any very effective 
romantic narrative. The tale next fell into the hands of 
some one who did not care about the credit of Saint Dunstan, 
and who was not thinking of David and Uriah. It mani- 
festly was far more effective to make Eadgar kill ZEthewald 
with his own hand. There are many stories of people being 


killed at hunting-parties, and indeed a hunting-party is 
brought in among the details given by Bromton, though 
nobody is killed at it. The murder at the hunting-party 
was thus suggested. But this was not all. The story of 
Kanibyses and Praixaspes in Herodotus stood ready to be 
worked in. I do not mean either that the English minstrel 
had read Herodotus, or that he knew anything about Prai- 
xaspes from any other source. I only mean that a tale, 
forming part of the common fund of romantic tales, which 
the informants of Herodotus had ages before shaped into one 
form, was now shaped into one slightly different. In Hero- 
dotus the tyrant shoots the son, and calls on the father to 
admire his archery. In the legend of Eadgar father and 
son necessarily change places. Now that the tale had 
reached the dignity of an unmistakable murder, the mere 
breach of canonical order was left out, or became quite 
secondary. But the new version borrowed one important 
feature from the old. The son of ^Ethelwald, whom Eadgar 
afterwards loved so dearly, was surely, in the first fonn of 
this second version, the young Eadgar, the son of iElfthryth, 
the King's own godson and stepson. Lastly, William of 
Malmesbury, or those whom he immediately followed, saw 
the absurdity of bringing in a son of JElfthryth's of an age 
to speak and act. They therefore made the youth, not a son 
of iElfthryth, but a bastard of -ZEthelwald by some unknown 
mother. The story of the birth of young Eadgar, and of the 
spiritual affinity between his mother and the King, was now 
simply in the way, and, not being very capable of poetical 
treatment, it was left out altogether. In short, while the first 
version of the legend still retains a certain kernel of truth, 
the second is simply fabulous throughout. New imaginary 
incidents have been introduced, and the little truth which 
remained has been turned out to make way for them. 

One or two features may be noticed in both versions which 
illustrate the feelings of the time, or possibly point to a 
traditional conception of the personal character of Eadgar. 
iEthelwald's delight in his fancied security, when he has 


succeeded in placing the bar of spiritual affinity between the 
King and his wife, points to an age, or to a character, which 
looked on the breach of a petty canonical restriction as a 
greater crime than adultery or murder. Till that point is 
made safe, iEthelwald feels no security that Eadgar will not 
seduce his wife, or murder him for her sake. But he thinks 
that he will most likely have a scruple about either seducing 
or marrying the mother of his godson. On the other hand, 
in neither version does Eadgar, enamoured as he is — and 
Bromton's version helps us to all the details of an extrava- 
gant passion — make any attempt to corrupt the virtue of 
iElfthryth while she is the wife of iEthelwald. His first 
thought seems to be, not to make iElfthryth his mistress, 
but to get rid of ^Ethelwald and marry his widow. Eadgar 
is, in short, set before us as a character something like 
Henry the Eighth, as one who feels more scruple at adultery 
than he feels at murder, and who is expected to feel more 
scruple at an uncanonical marriage than he feels at adultery. 
That is to sav, a breach of Divine law is more serious in his 
eyes than a breach of natural justice, and a breach of human 
law is more serious than a breach of Divine law. We have 
no reason to say that such was the real character of Eadgar, 
but it was a caricature very likely to be drawn by the enemies 
of a prince who was so zealous in enforcing the observance of 
canonical restrictions. It would have been a triumph indeed 
to represent the great champion of clerical celibacy as a 
murderer and adulterer, after the pattern of David. But it 
was a still greater triumph to describe him, either in fiction 
or in real history, as himself breaking a canonical restriction 
of the same class as that which he was foremost in imposing 
on others. 

Such are the two legends which I have chosen out of many 
others to illustrate the nature, origin, and growth of romantic 
fiction. Each of them has its special value for my purpose. 
In the story of Eadwine we see how the fiction was suggested 
by the real history as we find it recorded. In the story of 
iElfthryth, we see how the germ of truth, which the recorded 


history has failed to preserve, is to be found by internal 
evidence in the details of the legend itself. The story of 
^Flfthryth also, being happily preserved in two quite distinct 
versions, helps us to trace out in a more distinct way how 
tales of this sort grew, how each stage brought in fresh 
imaginary details, and still further concealed the truth which 
lay at the kernel. It is also a good illustration of the great 
rule for testing two contradictory stories. If, supposing A to 
be true, we can account for the origin of B, while, supposing 
B to be true, we cannot account for the origin of A, we have 
found an argument almost approaching to certainty in favour 
of the truth of A. This rule applies equally to real and to 
fictitious narratives. When it is applied to two statements, 
each claiming to be historical, it determines A to be the true 
account, and B to be pseudo-historical. AYhen it is applied 
to two romantic statements, it does not indeed prove that A 
is historically true, but it proves that it possesses a kind of 
relative truth. It shows that it is an older form of the fiction 
than B, and one therefore likely to depart less widely from 
historical truth. 

One small matter of detail may still be mentioned. There 
is a confusion in the geography of both versions of the tale of 
iElfthryth. Gaimar mentions no place for the murder of 
-ZEthelwald, just as he does not give him the title of Ealdor- 
man. He is killed on his way to York, and that is all. 
Bromton makes him set out from Salisbury to York and get 
killed, seemingly after one or two days' journey, in Wherwell 
Forest ("versus custodiam illam [Eboraci] se disponens, et 
per dietas suas incedens, in foresta de Werwelle," &c). Now, 
as Wherwell is in Hampshire, it could not be a day or two's 
journey on the road from Salisbury to York. The printed 
text of William of Malmesbury lias simply " Werewelle ; " 
but some of his manuscripts read, " Werewelle, quie vocatur 
Harewode." Now, 11 an 'wood Forest in Yorkshire is cer- 
tainly not the same as Wherwell in Hampshire. There were 
doubtless two stories. Those who made JEthelwald be k illed 
by unknown persons on the road to York, if they named any 


place, named Harewoocl ; those who made Eadgar kill him 
with his own hand, named Wherwell as the scene of the 
murder. Gaimar and the printed text of William are both 
consistent. But Bromton and some of William's transcribers 
confound the two accounts. Bromton (so to call him), though 
he chose to adhere to Gaimar's version, wrote later than 
William ; and both in this, and in his awkward and contra- 
dictory description of iEthelwald, he has brought in details 
from the other version which are inconsistent with the story 
which in the main he preferred. 

Having thus, as I hope, done enough to set forth and 
illustrate the nature of what I call the romantic element in 
our early history, I will now argue backward from the better 
known to the less known, and endeavour to set forth the 
nature of what I distinguish from it as the mythical element. 
In a mythical narrative, as it appears to me, we may fairly 
expect to find the same sort of elements of truth which we 
find in the romantic narrative, though we are not able to test 
the mythical narratives in the same convincing way. A 
mythical narrative, as I hold, stands to genuine tradition in 
the same relation in which a romantic narrative stands to 
recorded history. If out of such a mythical narrative we 
succeed in disentangling the element of genuine tradition, we 
reach something which I hold to be essentially of the same 
nature as recorded history, though infinitely inferior in 

By mythical stories then, as distinguished from romantic 
stories, I understand tales in which, as being placed before 
the beginnings of recorded history, we cannot fix the re- 
spective amounts of truth and falsehood from direct evidence. 
In examiuing such stories as those with which we have just 
been dealing, we are in a position to affirm some facts, and to 
deny others, with as full confidence as we can affirm and deny 
anything which does not come within the range of our own 
personal knowledge. Much may be left doubtful, which we 
do not venture positively either to assert or to deny ; but the 


state of historical certainty, the possibility of confident asser- 
tion and confident denial, is matter of constant occurrence. 
That Eadgar married JEthelwald's widow we may positively 
as :t : that Eadgar slew JEthelwald with his own hand we 
may positively deny. That JEthelwald met with a violent 
death, that Eadgar was 2rodfath»-r to a son of JEthelwald 
and JElfthxyth, are assertions which are highly probable, 
all but certain, but still assertions which we do not make 
with perfect euntidenee. We know the value of the evidence., 
internal and external, for every part of the story. But when 
we come to a mythical tale, a tale wh^se scene is laid in a 
time of which we have no recorded history, we cannot test its 
component elements in the same way. On the mere strength 
of the tale itself, we may often positively deny, but we can 
never positively affirm. The farthest point that we can 
reach is that the internal evidence for some statements 
renders them highly probable : but we cannot get beyond 
such probability, unless the mythical statement is confirmed 
by external evidence of some sort or other. For it must be 
remembered that external evidence is often to be had. even 
for times before written history : I mean evidence of the 
antiquarian class in its various forms, buildings, barrows. 
sepulchral remains, philological evidence derived from lan- 
guage and local nomenclature. All this is just as much 
direct evidence as the statements of chronicles and charters,* 
and. compared with evidence of that class, it has some advan- 
tages and some disadvantages. Written evidence mav. after 
all. not be trustworthy ; the author may have been mis- 
informed, or he may have wilfully perverted the truth ; or 
again, he may be both honest and well-informed, but we may 
mi-interpret his testimony. In the case of antiquarian 
evidence this latter Bource of error is greatly increased, while 
the former source is altogether taken away. We are n 
liable to misunderstand the evidence supplied by a sepulchral 

* Coins and inscriptions are strictly written documents, differing from 
chronicles and charters only in their material. In fact, they go some way 
t> i combine the advantages of both species of evidence. 


barrow than we are to misunderstand the evidence supplied 
by a written document ; but then the written document may- 
err or may lie, the sepulchral barrow can neither err nor lie. 
In inquiries of this kind we must be constantly on our guard 
against our own misinterpretations, but we need stand in no 
fear of error or deception on the part of our informants. Or 
again, what is an age of recorded history for one nation is 
an age before recorded history for another, so that casual 
allusions in writers of other nations may also be taken as con- 
clusive external evidence. The two or three references in 
Greek writers to the mythical period of Eoman history, the 
two or three references in Byzantine writers to the mythical 
period of English history, so far as they fall in with the 
mythical tales, form corroborative evidence for those tales. 
But, without corroborative evidence of one or other of these 
kinds, no statement during mythical times can get beyond 
probability. The distinct, probable, and uncontradicted 
statement of a contemporary chronicle we accept as certain 
truth ; but a statement, however distinct, probable, and 
uncontradicted, relating to times before recorded history, we 
do not accept as more than probable, unless it be confirmed 
by some evidence of another kind. 

The point then at which I part company with Mr. Grote 
is this. Mr. Grote has done excellent service by utterly up- 
setting the old pragmatizing way of dealing with mythical 
stories. No one can any longer venture, as so many have 
done from Thucydides onwards, to take a poetical tale, to 
strip it of its impossible elements, to turn it by an arbitrary 
process into something which may have happened, and then, 
without any further evidence, to give it out as something 
which did happen. That Achilleus killed Hektor by the 
personal help of Athene we all agree in disbelieving ; but to 
leave Athene out, and to give it forth as an historical fact 
that Achilleus killed Hektor without the help of Athene, is 
utterly unphilosophical. One statement is impossible ; the 
other is perfectly possible ; but there is no more evidence for 
one than for the other. Thus far I heartily go along with 


Mr. Grote ; but I cannot go on with, him to say that e very- 
attempt to extract truth, or even probability, from mythical 
stories is only time thrown away. I believe that by other 
processes, by the processes at which I have already hinted, a 
good deal may be recovered which is highly probable, some- 
thing which is all but certain. I am led to this belief by an 
argument from analogy. I argue from the known to the 
unknown ; I employ our knowledge of the way in which we 
know that romantic stories were formed, to help us to the 
way in which it is probable that the mythical stories were 

We have seen then that the makers of romantic legends 
did not purely and wholly invent. There is a kernel of truth 
at the bottom of their stories. A real action of a real person 
is distorted, exaggerated, incrusted with all kinds of fictitious 
details, details sometimes transferred to a wrong person, or to 
a wrong time or place ; but we see that a real action of a real 
person did form the groundwork, after all. The Charle- 
magne of romance departs so utterly from the Karl of history 
that we seem to be dealing with two different persons. The 
actions of Charlemagne are, for the most part, purely imagi- 
nary, and, when they are grounded on any real actions of Karl, 
those actions are so perverted as to seem hardly the same. 
The character of Charlemagne is not the character of the 
historical Karl ; the person of Charlemagne is made up by 
taking Karl as the groundwork, and throwing in all kinds of 
elements, earlier and later. His very nationality is mistaken ; 
the greatest of Germans has become the national hero of a 
people who in his age had no national speech or national 
being, and whose land he knew only as a province of his 
German kingdom. Still even in the legend of Charlemagne 
there is a groundwork of real history. It preserves a memory 
of the time when a single Emperor reigned over all Western 
Europe. Here is a fact which wo should hardly have guessed 
from later history, but which the legend of Charlemagne 
preserves no less than the history of Karl. Again, some of 
the utterly fabulous exploits of Charlemagne, though they 


have no groundwork in the history of Karl, have a ground- 
work in the history of other people. The ally of Haroun, 
the political lover of Eirene, never led armies against Jeru- 
salem or Constantinople. But later heroes did ; and the 
fact that the legends carry Charlemagne to Constantinople 
and Jerusalem would, of itself, almost be enough to prove the 
reality of some expeditions to those cities. When a crusade 
was the type of heroism, when Charlemagne was the type of 
a hero, it was assumed that so great a hero must have gone 
on a crusade, and a crusade was accordingly invented for 
him. But such an invention could have been made only in 
an age to which real crusades were familiar ; it is therefore 
in itself a witness to the historical truth of some crusades, 
though not of the particular crusade spoken of. A gain, though 
doubtless many of the minor actors in the legend are purely 
fictitious, some are not. Roland is such a pure hero of 
romance that we might easily fancy that he never existed. 
But two lines of Eginhard preserve to us the fact that 
lioland was a real man, and that his famous legendary death 
is a very easy perversion of his historical death. He did die 
in Pyrensean warfare, though in warfare waged not against 
Saracens, but against Gascons.* Now it seems to me that 
legends of this sort, which we can test by real history, give us 
a key to the amount of truth likely to be found in those 
legends which we cannot test in the same way. Arguing 
from the known to the unknown, I should expect to find 
about the same amount of truth in the legend of the Trojan 
war which I find in the legend of Charlemagne. The legend 
of Charlemagne, amidst infinite perversions, preserves a 
certain groundwork of real history. I should expect to find in 
the legend of Agamemnon a similar groundwork of real history. 
There is of course the all-important difference, that we can test 
the one story, and that we cannot test the other, by the certain 

* Eginhard, vita Karoli. c. 9 : " In quo proelio Eggihardus region mensaj 
propositus, Anselmus comes palatii, et Hruodlandus Brittannici limitis 
prcrfectus, cum aliis compluribus interficiuntur." This is, I believe, the 
whole of the authentic history of Roland. 


evidence of contemporary documents. This gives us cer- 
tainty in one case, while we cannot get beyond high proba- 
bility in the other. But, pursuing the analogy, let us see what 
amount of probability there is in the Trojan story. Later 
Grecian history would never lead us to believe that there had 
once been a single dynasty reigning, if not as sovereigns, at 
least as suzerains, over a large portion of insular and penin- 
sular Greece. So later mediaeval history would never lead 
us to believe that there had once been a Latin or Teutonic 
Emperor whose dominions stretched from the Eider to the 
Ebro. But we know that the Carolingian legend is thus far 
confirmed by history ; there is therefore no a priori objection 
to the analogous features of the Pelopid legend. The truth 
is that the idea of such an extensive dominion would not 
have occurred to a later romancer, unless some real history 
or tradition had suggested it to him. So again, without some 
such groundwork of history or tradition, no one would have 
fixed upon Mykene, a place utterly insignificant in later 
history, as the capital of this extensive empire. The 
romances have transferred the capital of Karl from Aachen 
to Paris ; had it really been Paris, no one would have trans- 
ferred it to Aachen. To have quartered the Bretwalda of 
Hellas at Argos or Sparta would have been the natural 
course of perversion ; to quarter him at Mykene could have 
been done only under the influence of a genuine tradition. 
And that tradition again is confirmed by those striking anti- 
quarian remains which show by indisputable evidence that 
Mykene really was in early times a far more important city 
than it appears in later history. Whether Agamemnon be a 
real man or not, the combination of internal and external 
evidence leads us to set down the Pelopid dynasty at Mykene 
as an established fact. Again, one can hardly doubt that the 
war of Troy is a mythical version of some part or other of 
the warfare which gradually Hellenized the north-west coast 
of Asia. The warfare of Agamemnon in the Troad may be 
as imaginary as the warfare of Karl at Jerusalem, because, if 
Agamemnon was a great traditional name, legend-makers 


would, at a time when Grecian imagination was filled by- 
schemes of conquest in Asia, be as sure to carry him thither 
as Karl was sure to be carried to Jerusalem. But a false 
crusade implies a real crusade, and mythical warfare in the 
Troad points to that real warfare there which we know, from 
the results of the case, must have taken place. The Greek 
chief who conquered Lesbos may, or may not, have been 
named Achilleus; but some Greek chief must have con- 
quered Lesbos; and, with the example of a real Roland 
before our eyes, we may be inclined to say that the chances 
are stronger that he was named Achilleus than that he was 
not. I could mention many other portions of the Trojan 
story which seem to me to have such a measure of evidence, 
internal or external, as to enable us to set them down as, if 
not certain, at least probable in a very high degree. But I 
hope to discuss the matter more at length in another work ; 
at present I have only referred to the main outline of one of 
the most familiar of mythical narratives in order to show the 
sort of amount and kind of truth which we are likely to find 
in any mythical narrative. 

The truth, as it appears to me, is that the difference 
between romantic and mythical narratives, as I defined them 
at starting, is simply a difference in the degree of our 
knowledge of them, not a difference in the nature of the tales 
themselves. We can test the one class in detail, and we can- 
not so test the other ; but each class seems really to consist of 
exactlv the same elements. In both alike there is an element 
of truth and an element of imagination. A romantic narrative 
we can commonly compare with an historical narrative of the 
same event, and we can thereby disentangle the several ele- 
ments of which it is made up. So, in dealing with a mythical 
narrative, if we can, by any sort of evidence, external or 
internal, distinguish the element of genuine tradition from 
the poetical or imaginative element, we are doing what is 
virtually the same thing. We are too often apt to confound 
these two elements in a mythical story, and to forget that 
tradition is really a means of information essentially of the 


same kind as history. Each alike intends or professes to 
hand down a true statement of- facts ; only one works with a 
very imperfect instrument, the other with a much more per- 
fect one. History, in short, is written tradition, and tradition 
is oral history. History and tradition, as having the same 
object, the preservation of a true account of past times, form 
one class, as opposed to mere poetical or romantic tales to 
which the truth or falsehood of statements is indifferent. 
The difference between such tales and either history or 
tradition is a difference of kind, while the difference between 
history and tradition themselves is only a difference of 
degree. Tradition has the same objects as history, but it 
is a much ruder instrument for attaining those objects. It 
is far more open to corruption, both accidental and wilful ; 
it is far more liable to be mixed up with mythical or romantic 
additions. In many cases it exists only in combination 
with such additions, and it has to be disentangled from 
them how it can, while history commonly exists in an in- 
dependent and parallel shape. It is therefore by no means 
so easy to get at genuine tradition as to get at genuine 
history, and, when we have got at it, it is by no means worthy 
of the same undoubting acceptance. In short, its inferiority 
in degree as compared with history is almost infinite ; all that 
I assert is the absolute identity in kind of the two sources of 
information. The oral statement of an eyewitness is as trust- 
worthy as his written statement ; the only difference is that 
the oral statement is much more likely to be corrupted by 
the various mouths through which it afterwards passes. But 
such a statement, however much corrupted, still differs in 
kind from the mere romantic tale. The distinction was 
observed long ago by Herodotus, who remarks on the widely 
different versions as to certain points in the half-mythical 
history of Peloponnesos, as they were told in the songs of the 
poets and as they were told in the native traditions of Sparta.* 
To get then at genuine tradition is a diflicult matter ; and 

* Herod., vi. 52: AaKefruifjiovioi yitp, nfJioXoytovrti oiidtvi TroirjTji, Xe'yovm, 

K. T. A. 


the genuine tradition, when it is got at, is only a very imperfect 
form of history. Still I maintain that it is an imperfect form 
of history, and that, as such, it is entitled to a certain measure 
of respect. But to entitle it to such respect it must be 
genuine tradition. It must not be a romantic legend cut 
down into prose. It must not be later inference or invention 
or imitation. For instance, I look on the War of Thebes, 
the War of Troy, the Dorian Migration, as all pieces of 
genuine tradition, as far as concerns the essence of the story? 
however mythical every detail may be. The first of the 
three is cast so far back into mythical darkness that we can- 
not accept a single detail, so far back that even for the main 
story there is only the faintest shadow of probability. In the 
War of Troy we can discern the historical event of which the 
story is a legendary representation ; and we here and there 
meet with details which are capable of such an amoimt of cor- 
roboration of one kind or another as to clothe them with the 
highest degree of probability. The Dorian Migration is all 
but historical, and the most sceptical historians admit the 
main story as true. Doubtless in all three the mythical or 
romantic element is very strong ; but then that element lives 
on to a much later stage of Grecian history, and is by no 
means wanting even in the narrative of the Persian War.* 
On the other hand, tales about Kekrops coming from Egypt 
are not traditions, or even myths, but inferences from a theory. 
The legend of Aineias coming into Italy is, as far as we can 
see, a bit of genuine tradition ; that is, there seems no ground 
for supposing it to be mere inference or invention. But it 
must be an inaccurate tradition, because it contradicts another 
tradition which has strong corroborative evidence, f But the 
catalogue of Alban Kings in Livy is pure invention. It is 

* See Cox's Tale of the Great Persian War, p. 112. 
1 refer to the passages in Homer which distinctly speak of an Aineiad 
dynasty as reigning in the Troad, and which have been often quoted to 
show that a dynasty descended, or claiming to be descended, from Aineias, 
was actually reigning there in the time of the poet. To me this inference 
seems as certain as any mere inference can be. See Iliad, xx. 307. Cf., 
Hymn to Aphrodite, 197, 198. 



made up to cover over a chronological difficulty which showed 
itself when men began to affix dates to the legends. The 
elder story made Aineias the father or grandfather of 
Eomulus. But when the fall of Troy got a date, and when 
the foundation of Rome got a date, it was seen that the 
founder of Rome could not, according to the received chrono- 
logy, be the son or grandson of a fugitive from Troy. A 
series of names was therefore invented to fill up the gap. So 
the whole series of Attic legends is full of mere invention of 
this kind. So again, while the Trojan origin of Rome is 
apparently a genuine tradition, the Trojan origin of Briton 
and Frank is mere imitative invention. A Trojan descent 
was the right thing for a distinguished nation, and it was 
invented accordingly, just as pedigree-mongers nowadays 
invent pedigrees, Norman, Welsh, or Scotch, according to 
taste. Human nature and human vanity are the same in all 
times and places, and rubbish of this sort, however ancient, 
must be carefully distinguished from those genuine traditions 
which are an inferior form of history. 

Again, I must here repeat a remark with which I started, 
namely, that I draw a much wider distinction than the Com- 
parative Mythologists seemed disposed to allow between theo- 
logical and historical myths. Legends of the Gods and legends 
of the heroes undoubtedly rim into one another in such a 
way that it is not always easy to draw an accurate line 
between them. Still the two things are essentially distinct. 
Tales about Zeus and Woden, and tales about Achilleus and 
Hengest seem to me to be altogether different in kind. The 
former class are theological, physical, what we please, any- 
thing but historical. The latter have at least the form of 
history, and it is worth inquiring in each case whether they 
contain any measure of its substance. The doctrines of all 
religions must largely take the form of facts ; but purely 
theological facts, true or false, do not come within the range of 
history, and they are seldom capable of historical proof or 
disproof. That Zeus deposed his father Kronos, that Loki 
brought about the death of Balder, are propositions altogether 


beyond the range of history ; their examination belongs 
to another science. But that Achilleus conquered Lesbos 
and Hypoplakian Thebes, that Hengest and Horsa founded 
the first English kingdom in Britain, are propositions essen- 
tially of the same class as the propositions that Henry the 
Fifth conquered at Agincourt and that Edward the First 
massacred the Welsh bards. Of these last propositions we 
know one to be true and the other to be false. The proposi- 
tions about Archilleus and Hengest we cannot so undoubtiugly 
accept or reject ; but the difference is not in the nature of 
the propositions themselves, but in the difference of our 
means of testing them. But the strictly theological proposi- 
tions of either a true or a false religion we deal with in a 
different way. In the w r ords of Scripture, we walk in the one 
case by faith (or its opposite), in the other case by sight. 

I have but little space left to illustrate, in the purely 
mythical history of England, the principles of mythical inter- 
pretation which I have been trying to lay down. But take, 
for instance, the story of Hengest. As there is an historical 
Eadgar and a romantic Eadgar, so is there a traditional 
Hengest and a mythical Hengest. The personal existence of 
Hengest is doubtful ; that is to say, it is doubtful whether 
the founder of the Kentish kingdom bore the name of Hengest.* 
The name has a mythical air ; but as men have been called 
Wolf and Bear and Lion, a man may also have been called 
Horse. The name may be merely a mythical expression of 
the national standard, or a chieftain may really have been 
called after the national standard. Hengest again is un- 
doubtedly a mythical hero, and the different versions of his 
origin and exploits cannot be made to agree. But it is 
possible, on the one hand, that a real conqueror of Kent may 
have become a hero of Teutonic minstrelsy, and may thus 
have gathered a mythical reputation round him ; it is possible, 
on the other hand, that the conquest of Kent may have been 
mythically attributed to a favourite hero of legend. All this 
is utterly doubtful. But beyond this we get matter which 
[* I now see no reason to doubt the real existence of Hengest:] 

D 2 ' 


we can much more positively accept and much more positively 
deny. That about the time when Hengest is said to have 
lived, certain Teutonic conquerors began — most undoubtedly 
not the first Teutonic incursions into Britain, possibly not the 
first Teutonic settlement in Britain — but the first pure and 
self-existent Teutonic kingdom, the first Teutonic settlement 
after the .Roman power was withdrawn, the first Teutonic 
settlement which involved, whether by extirpation or assimi- 
lation, the utter driving out of the earlier British and Koman 
elements — all this is not indeed directly proved by contem- 
porary evidence, but it is asserted by an evidently genuine 
tradition, and it is borne out by all the later phenomena of 
English history. The Chronicles give us a narrative which 
is, in the main, perfectly credible, and most of which is 
evidently genuine tradition — tradition, it may be, assisted by 
some rude artificial helps to memory, such as have existed 
among many nations. The invitation of Vortigern looks as if 
it had come in from a Welsh source ; but even here there is 
nothing incredible in the main tale itself: it only wants 
evidence. A British prince, like a Roman Emperor or an 
Abbasside Caliph, may have taken barbarian mercenaries into 
his pay ; they may have turned against him, and may have 
invited fresh hordes of their brethren. But the details of this 
story, as given in one version of the Chronicles, are certainly 
mythical, and though the main story itself is possible, yet I 
suspect that the whole tale is a bit of Welsh romance which 
has found its way into the English Chronicles. But what 
follows, namely the meagre details of the conquest of Kent, 
is surely genuine tradition, and it is, allowing perhaps for an 
artificial computation of years, as trustworthy as any tradition 
can be. The Chronicles confine the conquest of Hengest to 
Kent, and they give us nothing but what is credible and 
probable. But in Nennius we begin to get mythical details 
which are unknown in the earlier version ; Hengest's daughter,* 

* Is it possible, however, that even in this wild story an element of truth 
may lurk ? In most tales the stranger marries the daughter of the native 
prince; here the native prince marries the daughter of the stranger. Does 


for instance, is now introduced, though her name of Rowena* 
is as yet unheard of. When we corne to Geoffrey of 
Monmouth we get a whole tissue of pure myth, working 
in all kinds of wonders and stereotyped fables, till there 
arises a mythical Hengest as different from the traditional 
Hengest as the romantic Charlemagne is from the historical 

Yet it is worth notice that, even among these tales, a bit 
of probable history peeps out. Nennius, like our own 
Chronicles, confines Hengest himself to Kent ; but he makes 
two chieftains of his house, Octha and Ebissa, conquer and 
settle far to the north, on the confines of the Picts. We find 
nothing of this in the Chronicles, nor is there any entry at 
all about the North of England till, in 547, the accession of 
Ida the Angle to the Northumbrian crown is recorded. It 
is the first recorded Northumbrian event, but it is recorded 
in a way which shews that Ida, though the founder of the 
subsequent Northumbrian kingdom, was not the first Teutonic 
settler in that part of Britain. This earlier settlement of 
Octha and Ebissa just fills up the gap, and fills it up in the 
most unsuspicious way. It appears again in a somewhat 
different, but perfectly probable, form in William of Malmes- 
bury and Henry of Huntingdon. They make Ida the first 
King of the Northumbrians, the settlement having been 
originally made by chiefs who took no higher title than that 
of Ealdormen. And, if we can suppose a distinctively Saxon 
settlement in the north, before the establishment of Ida and 
his Angles, one or two points in the latter history of 
Northumberland would be cleared up. Hengest indeed and 
his followers are not called Saxons, but Jutes ; but I suspect 

not this typify the probable fact that the English settlers, to a great extent 
at hast, brought their women with them, in short, that our settlement in 
Britain was a strictly national migration? [The researches of Dr. 
KnUcston have set this matter beyond doubt. He has seen our Teutonic 

* It is amusing to find this purely fictitious name, which is nowhere 
found in real history, assumed by novelists and newspaper-writers as the 
typical name of an Englishwoman before the Norman Conquest. 


that the ethnical connection between Jutes and Saxons was 
closer than that between either and the Angles. 

The mythical history of England, that namely which we 
have no direct means of testing, lasts down to the conversion 
of the English to Christianity, about one hundred and fifty 
years after the time assigned to Hengest. But I can call it 
mythical only in the sense that it does not, as far as we know, 
rest on contemporary written evidence. Some names and 
dates may be doubtful, but I have no doubt that the main 
story represents a genuine and trustworthy tradition, perhaps, 
as I before hinted, assisted by some means of artificial memory. 
The more the details of the story are examined by antiquarian 
and philological tests, the more clearly does the general truth 
of the narrative come out. No doubt we have here the great 
advantage that we are dealing with the very last stage of a 
mythical period, when the first twilight of proper history is 
beginning to dawn. We are dealing with a period analogous, 
not to the War of Thebes or even to the War of Troy, but to 
the Dorian Migration and the Wars of Messene. When I find 
that the boundary of my own parish and my own property 
coincides, after thirteen hundred years, with the boundary 
assigned by two independent inquirers,* following two distinct 
lines of investigation, to the conquests of the West-Saxon 
Ceawlin in 577, I cannot say that I find myself inclined to 
the over-sceptial way of judging of these matters. 

Once more in all these inquiries, our one object is truth — 
truth, to be sought after at all hazards, at whatever sacrifice 
of preconceived opinions, whether they take the form of 
personal theories or of national prejudices. Historical criticism 
requires us to give up many beliefs to which we are naturally 
attached, but it in no way interferes with our artistic enjoy- 
ment of romantic stories, and it gives us, above all things, the 
one jewel — truth. And happily, in early English history at 
least, the substitution of history for legend almost always 
tends to exalt instead of to depreciate the ancient heroes of 
our land. It is something to find in real history that iElfred 
* Dr, Guest and the late Rev. Francis Wane 


was as great and good, and that most of his successors were 
greater and better than they appear in legend. It is some- 
thing to find, as we do find, in the pages of real history, that 
iEthelstan was not a fratricide ; that Eadgar was not one of 
the basest of murderers ; that Godwine was a patriot and 
not a traitor ; that Harold was no usurper but the noblest of 
Englishmen, the true choice of every English heart ; it is 
something to find elements of greatness and even of goodness 
in the awful portrait of his mighty rival ; to see in Henry of 
Anjou and in Thomas of Canterbury men both of whom had 
a zeal^for God, though it was for God alone to say whose zeal 
was according to knowledge;* to see in Simon of Montfortno 
selfish and crafty rebel, but the combined saint and hero and 
statesman to whom we owe our freedom ; to see in the great 
Edward no reckless invader of other men's rights, but the 
wise and just and merciful assertor of his own. For truths 
like these it is worth while to surrender a few pleasant fables ; 
but on the other hand, we must beware lest sound criticism 
degenerate into indiscriminate scepticism. We have seen, I 
think, that the probability is in favour of any mythical 
narrative being founded on a groundwork of truth. To 
distinguish truth and falsehood amid such darkness needs 
great caution, and a constant check upon the temptation of 
fancy. But I believe that the task is not impossible, and 
that antiquarian and philological research opens to us the 
means of testing many a tale which at first sight appears to 
be hopelessly beyond our power of examining, and of showing 
that much which appears to be the merest fiction, may really 
contain no small element of genuine truth. 

* I borrow the expression of Thomas's friend and biographer, Herbert of 
Bosliam : " Certo enim certius quod uterque Dei habuerit annulationem, 
unus pro populo, alter vero pro clero; utrins tamen eorum fuerit cum 
scicntia zelus, non hominis qui cito fallitur, scd scientiarum Domini qui in 
fine declarabit judicium." Vita S. Thomae, iii. 18 (p. 109, Giles). The 
whole passage, from which Jr have made only a short extract, is very 




A comparison between the histories of England, France, 
and Germany, as regards their political development, would 
be a subject well worth working out in detail. Ejich country- 
started with much that was common to all three, while the 
separate course of each has been wholly different. The dis- 
tinctive character of English history is its continuity. No 
broad gap separates the present from the past. If there is 
any point at which a line between the present and the past 
is to be drawn, it is at all events not to be drawn at the point 
where a superficial glance might perhaps induce us to draw 
it, at the Norman invasion in 1066. At first sight that 
event might seem to separate us from all before it in a way 
to which there is no analogy in the history either of our own 
or of kindred lands. Neither France nor Germany ever saw 
any event to be compared to the Norman Conquest. Neither 
of them has ever received a permanent dynasty of foreign 
Kings ; neither has seen its lands divided among the soldiers of 
a foreign army, and its native sons shut out from every position 
of wealth or dignity. England, alone of the three, has under- 
gone a real and permanent foreign conquest. One might 
have expected that the greatest of all possible historical 
chasms would have divided the ages before and the ages 
after such an event. Yet in truth modern England has 
practically far more to do with the England of the West- 

* [Tiiis was originally a review of Dr. Vaughan'a work called Revolu- 
tions in English History, and the former part of the article consisted mainly 
of minute criticisms on the book. Rut the latter part was of more general 
interest, and seemed worth preserving.] 


Saxon kings than modern France or Germany has to do with 
the Gaul and Germany of Charles the Great, or even of much 
more recent times. The England of the age before the Norman 
Conquest is indeed, in all external respects, widely removed 
from us. But the England of the age immediately succeeding 
the Norman Conquest is something more widely removed 
still. The age when Englishmen dwelt in their own land as a 
conquered race, when their name and tongue were badges of 
contempt and slavery, when England was counted for little 
more than an accession of power to the Duke of Rouen in his 
struggle with the King of Paris, is an age than which we can 
conceive none more alien to every feeling and circumstance 
of our own. When then did the England in which we still 
live and move have its beginning ? Where are we to draw 
the broad line, if any line is to be drawn, between the pre- 
sent and the past ? We answer in the great creative and 
destructive age of Europe and of civilized Asia — the thir- 
teenth century. The England of Richard Cceur-de-Lion is 
an England which is past for ever ; but the England of 
Edward the First is essentially the still living England in 
which we have our own being. Up to the thirteenth 
century our history is the domain of antiquaries ; from that 
point it becomes the domain of lawyers. A law of King 
Alfred's Witenagemot is a valuable link in the chain of our 
political progress, but it could not have been alleged as any 
legal authority by the accusers of Strafford or the defenders 
of the Seven Bishops. A statute of Edward the Eirst is quite 
another matter. Unless it can be shown to have been 
repealed by some later statute, it is just as good to this day 
as a statute of Queen Victoria. In the earlier period we 
may indeed trace the rudiments of our laws, our language, 
our political institutions ; but from the thirteenth century 
onwards we see the things themselves, in that very essence 
which we all agree in wishing to retain, though successive 
generations have wrought improvement in many points of 
detail and may have left many others capable of further im- 
provement still. Let us illustrate our meaning by the 


greatest of all examples. Since the first Teutonic settlers 
landed on her shores, England has never known full and com- 
plete submission to the will of a single man. Some assembly, 
Witenageniot, Great Council, or Parliament, there has 
always been, capable of checking the caprices of tyrants 
and of speaking, with more or less of right, in the name of 
the nation. From Hengest to Victoria England has always 
had what we may fairly call a parliamentary constitution. 
Normans, Tudors, and Stewarts might suspend or weaken it, 
but they could not wholly sweep it away. Our Old-English 
^'itena gemots, our Norman Great Councils, are matters of 
antiquarian research, whose exact constitution it puzzles our 
best antiquaries fully to explain. But from the thirteenth 
century onwards we have a veritable Parliament, essentially 
as we see it before our own eyes. In the course of the fourteenth 
century every fundamental constitutional principle became 
fullv recognised. The best worthies of the seventeenth 
century struggled, not for the establishment of anything new, 
but for the preservation of what even then was already old. 
It is on the Great Charter that we still rest the foundation 
of all our rights. And no later parliamentary reformer has 
ever wrought or proposed so vast a change as when Simon of 
Montfort, by a single writ, conferred their parliamentary 
being upon the cities and boroughs of England. 

This continuity of English history from the very beginning 
is a point which cannot be too strongly insisted on, but it is its 
special continuity from the thirteenth century onwards which 
forms the most instructive part of the comparison between 
English history and the history of Germany and France. At 
the time of the Norman Conquest, the many small Teutonic 
kingdoms in Britain had grown into the one Teutonic king- 
dom of England, rich in her barbaric greatness and barbaric 
freedom, with the germs, but as yet only the germs, of every 
institution which we most dearly prize. At the close of the 
thirteenth century, we see the England with which we are 
still familiar, young indeed and tender, but still possessing 
more than the germs, the very things themselves. She has 


already King, Lords, and Commons ; she has a King, mighty 
indeed and honoured, but who may neither ordain laws nor 
impose taxes against the will of his people. She has Lords 
with high hereditary powers, but Lords who are still only the 
foremost rank of the people, whose children sink into the 
general mass of Englishmen, and into whose order any 
Englishman may be raised. She has a Commons still diffi- 
dent in the exercise of new-born rights; but a Commons 
whose constitution and whose powers we have altered only by 
gradual changes of detail ; a Commons which, if they sometimes 
shrank from hard questions of state, were at least resolved 
that no man should take their money without their leave. 
The courts of justice, the great offices of state, the chief 
features of local administration, have assumed, or are rapidly 
assuming, the form whose essential character they still retain. 
The struggle with Papal Koine has already begun ; doctrines 
and ceremonies indeed remain as yet unchallenged, but 
statute after statute is passed to restrain the abuses and 
exactions of the ever hateful Roman court. The great middle 
class of England is rapidly forming ; a middle class not, as 
elsewhere, confined to a few great cities, but spread, in the 
form of a lesser gentry and a wealthy yeomanry, over the 
whole face of the land. Villainage still exists, but both law 
and custom are paving the way for that gradual and silent 
extinction of it, which, without any formal abolition of the 
legal status, left, three centuries later, not a legal villain 
among us. With this exception, there was in theory equal 
law for all classes, and imperfectly as the theory may have 
been carried out, it was at least far less imperfectly so than 
in any other kingdom. Our language was fast taking its 
present shape ; English, in the main intelligible at the 
present day, was the speech of the mass of the people, and 
it was soon to drive out French from the halls of princes and 
nobles. England, at the end of the century, is, for the first 
time since the Conquest, ruled by a prince bearing a purely 
English name, and following a purely English policy. Edward 
the First was no doubt as despotic as he could be or dared 


to be ; so was every prince of those days who could not 
practise the superhuman righteousness of Saint Lewis. But 
he ruled over a people who knew how to keep even his 
despotism within bounds. The legislator of England, the 
conqueror of Wales and Scotland, seems truly like an old 
Bretwalda or West-Saxon Basileus sitting once more on the 
throne of Cerdic and of .ZElfred. The modern English nation 
is now fully formed ; it stands ready for those struggles for 
French dominion in the two following centuries, which, utterly 
unjust and fruitless as they were, still jjroved indirectly the 
confirmation of our liberties at home, and which for ever fixed 
the national character for good and for evil. 

Let us here sketch out a comparison between the history 
and institutions of England and those of France and Ger- 
many. As we before said, our modern Parliament is traced 
up in an unbroken line to the early Great Council, and to 
the still earlier Witenagemot. The later institution, widely 
different as it is from the earlier, has not been substituted 
for the earlier, but has grown out of it. It would be ludi- 
crous to look for any such continuity between the Diet of 
ambassadors which meets at Frankfurt * and the assemblies 
which met to obey Henry the Third and to depose Henry 
the Fourth. And how stands the case in France ? France 
has tried constitutional government in all its shapes ; in its 
old Teutonic, in its mediaeval, and in all its modern forms — 
Kings with one Chamber and Kings with two, EejDublics 
without Presidents and Republics with, Conventions, Direc- 
tories, Consulates, and Empires. All of these have been 
separate experiments ; all have failed ; there is no historical 
continuity between any of them. Charles the Great gathered 
his Great Council around him year by year: his successors in 
the Eastern Francia, the Kings of the Teutonic Kingdom, 
went on doing so long afterwards. But in Gaul, in Western 
Francia, after it fell away from the common centre, no such 
assembly could be gathered together. The kingdom split 

* ['Hint this Diet lias since given way to something wholly different is 
only a further instance of the distinction.] 


into fragments ; every province did what was right in its 
own eyes ; Aquitaine and Toulouse had neither fear nor love 
enough for their nominal King to contribute any members to 
a council of his summoning. Philip the Fair, for his own 
convenience, summoned the States-General. But the States- 
General were no historical continuation of the old Frankish 
Assemblies ; they were a new institution of his own, devised, 
it may be, in imitation of the English Parliament or of the 
Spanish Cortes. From that time the French States-General 
ran a brilliant and a fitful course. Very different indeed 
were they from the homely Parliaments of England. Our 
stout knights and citizens were altogether guiltless of political 
theories. They had no longing after great and comprehensive 
measures. But if they saw any practical abuses in the land, 
the king could get no money out of them till he set matters 
right again. If they saw a bad law, they demanded its 
alteration : if they saw a wicked minister, they demanded 
his dismissal. It is this sort of bit-by-bit reform, going on 
for six hundred years, which has saved us alike from mag- 
nificent theories and from massacres in the cause of humanity. 
Both were as familiar in France in the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries as ever they were in the last years of the eighteenth. 
The demands of the States-General, and of what we may call 
the liberal party in France generally, throughout those two 
centuries, are as wide in their extent, and as neatly expressed, 
as any modern constitution from 1791 to 1848. But while 
the English Parliament, meeting year after year, made almost 
every year some small addition or other to the mass of our 
liberties, the States-General, meeting only now and then, 
effected nothing lasting, and gradually sank into as com- 
plete disuse as the old Frankish Assemblies. By the time 
of the revolution of 1789, their constitution and mode of pro- 
ceeding had become matters of antiquarian curiosity. Of 
later attempts, National Assemblies, National Conventions, 
Chambers of Deputies,* we need not speak. They have 

* [Here again events which have happened since the essay was written 
supply further instances of this position.] 


risen and they have fallen, while the House of Lords and 
the House of Commons have gone on undisturbed. 

And as with the parliamentary constitution, so it is with 
all our lesser institutions. There is hardly a title or office, 
from a Lord-Chancellor to a Head-borough, which does not 
reach back at least to Edward the First, while not a few reach 
back to Alfred and Hengest. What would Philip the Fair 
have understood by a Prefect of a Department or by a 
Minister of Public Instruction ? But Edward the First corre- 
sponded with the Sheriffs of his counties, with the Mayor and 
Alderman of his capital, exactly like our present Sovereign. 
Elsewhere, the advisers of the Crown bear some title 
which at once bespeaks their modern origin. Here in 
England they are sometimes the shadows, sometimes the 
realities, of some great mediaeval office. On the other side 
of the Channel, the Minister bears his portfolio, here the 
Secretary bears his seal. Look again at our local divisions. 
Save for the formation of the Welsh counties, the map of Eng- 
land under Victoria differs but little from the map of England 
under William the Conqueror, we might almost say from 
the map of England under Eadward the Elder. Of the Old- 
English kingdoms, several still survive as counties, some of 
them with their boundaries absolutely unchanged. Nearly 
all our shires date at least from the tenth century, many of 
them date from the very beginning of the English Conquest.* 
But a map of France or Germany sixty or seventy t years old 
is already well nigh useless ; one showing those countries as 
they stood under Frederick Barbarossa or Louis the Seventh 
looks like the map of another region. Normandy, Burgundy, 
Guienne, are gone — cut up into departments which we suppose 
only their own Prefects can undertake to remember. In 
the other of the two old Frankish realms, where are the old 
Five Nations ? where are the comparitively modern Seven 

* [T have explained tlio distinction in this respect between the shires of 
Mercia ami of Wessex, in the History of the Norman Conquest, vol. i., 
p. 5G1, ed. 2.] 

t [One is now tempted to say " six or seven."] 


Electors ? Franconia, Saxony, Lorraine, Bavaria, and Swabia, 
have either vanished from the map, or they have so changed 
their shapes and boundaries that no man would know them 
for the same. In everything, in laws, in institutions, in 
local divisions, France and Germany have been alike lands 
of change, England is pre-eminently the land of permanence' 
But, though the characteristics of English History are thus 
throughout combined permanence and progress, yet we can- 
not deny that there are occasional periods of at least apparent 
falling back. We say apparent, because it may be doubted 
whether there has been any period which has proved to be 
such in the long run. One such period we have already 
seen ; the period of Norman oppression comes between the 
days of England's earlier and later freedom. Yet even 
during that gloomy twelfth century that silent union of the 
two nations was going on without which England could never 
have beheld the glorious events of the thirteenth. At a later 
period, the fifteenth century is a time of distinct degeneracy. 
ISome good laws were made, some good precedents were esta- 
blished ; but, on the whole, the Parliaments of the fifteenth 
century were less liberal and independent bodies than those 
of the fourteenth. One of them formally legalized religious 
persecution ; another stands alone in English history in pass- 
ing a counter-reform bill. The county franchise was restricted 
to those freeholders whose possessions reached the amount of 
forty shillings yearly. Considering the value of money at 
the time, this must have been a measure of extraordinary 
exclusiveness, such as the most conservative of statesmen 
would not have dreamed of for some generations past. The 
later Parliaments of this century exhibit the most utter sub- 
serviency to the powers which are uppermost for the moment ; 
we feel that we are fast drawing near to the Elysian epoch of 
Mr. Froude. Again, the war with France has sunk into a 
mere struggle for an unjust dominion, and is succeeded by 
fierce and purposeless civil wars at home. The personal and 
dynastic struggles of the fifteenth century excite a sort of 
feeling of disgust when compared with the great struggles of 


principle either of the thirteenth century or of the seventeenth. 
Yet there is a bright side even to the fifteenth century. That 
age, looked at alone, may be thought to have gone back, but 
in the long run, it has, like other ages, contributed to our 
general progress. The development of the popular power in 
the seventeenth century required the previous breaking-down 
of the old feudal nobility. The general harmony between 
the two Houses of Parliament, from their very beginning, has 
been something wonderful ; but it is evident that, till the old 
nobles were got out of the way, the House of Commons could 
never become the real ruling body. And the particular way 
in which they were got rid of hindered any open breach 
between the mass of the people and a peerage which was 
really the first rank among themselves. The Norman nobility 
w r ere not overthrown by any popular movement ; they were 
cut down by each other's swords at Towton and Barnet, or 
were reserved to fall beneath the axe of Henry. The Tudor 
despotism, like the Norman despotism, served to shelter and 
preserve the elements of liberty through a period of transi- 
tion. And, if the Parliaments of the later Plantagenet sera 
were less independent than their predecessors, we see, both 
then and in the Tudor age, abundant evidence that the im- 
portance of Parliament was becoming more and more fully 
recognized. The very act which narrowed the elective fran- 
chise shows that the elective franchise was a thing valued 
and sought after, that it was no longer felt as a burthen, as 
it often was in earlier times. Late in the fifteenth century, 
as the Paston Letters show, the position of a borough 
member had risen sufficiently to be an object of ambition 
to men of birth and landed property. In the Tudor age, we 
come to direct government interference at elections, and to 
the creation of insignificant boroughs on purpose to secure 
members in the interest of the Crown. Violent and corrupt 
as were these stretches of power, they still show the ad- 
vancing importance of the body about whose composition 
so much care was taken. And palpably unjust as were the 
French wars of this age, they were more distinctly national 


wars, waged for the national glory. Edward the Third, as a 
French prince, claimed the crown of France ; his son reigned 
at Bordeaux as Prince of Aquitaine. But Henry the Fifth, 
as a King of England, obtained a treaty, which made the 
crown of France an appendage to the crown of England. 
Doubtless England, by grasping at the French crown, lost 
her own Aquitanian coronet, but that very loss rendered her 
still more insular and national, and it is clear that all traces 
of the old Norman feeling must have utterly died out in the 
breasts of the men who strove to make France a province of 

In the ecclesiastical aspect of the fifteenth century we see 
the same mixture of advance and retrogression. The Church 
of the fifteenth century was scandalously corrupt ; both doc- 
trinal and practical abuses had reached their highest pitch. 
The prelates of that day were, at all events in their profes- 
sional aspect, men very inferior to their predecessors. They 
had sunk into mere secular statesmen, members of noble 
families who preferred the crosier to the sword, and whose 
ecclesiastical advancement was owing to their birth or their 
worldly services. The fifteenth century supplies us with none 
of the saints, heroes, and patriots of the Church, none of the 
Anselms and Beckets, the Langtons and Grossetestes, of 
former times. Chichele was one of the best prelates of that 
day, and he certainly owed his promotion to merit in his 
own calling. But even Chichele was not ashamed to pro- 
mote an unjust war, in order to draw off the attention of 
the King and the nation from the overgrown wealth of the 
Church. But, on the other hand, even this degradation of 
the Church is not without its good side also. The Church 
is no longer antagonistic to the State ; the clergy have 
become citizens like other men. 

We have thus tred to trace the outward sequence of cause 
and effect through a considerable portion of history. This 
outward sequence is all that we can profess to trace out. 
We cannot submit the phoenomena of English history, its 
course at home or its points of difference from that of other 


nations, to any grand scientific law. If we are asked for the 
causes of the contrast between the steady course of freedom 
in England and its fitful rises and falls in France, we have no 
universal formula of explanation. We can only say that the 
causes are many and various ; and some of those which we 
should assign are perhaps rather of an old-fashioned kind. 
We confess that we are not up to the last lights of the age ; 
we have not graduated in the scho d of Mr. Buckle. We 
still retain our faith in the existence and the free-will both 
of God and of man. National character, geographical posi- 
tion, earlier historical events, have had much to do with the 
difference ; but we believe that the personal character of 
individual men, and the happy thought, or happy accident, of 
some particular enactment has often had quite as much to do 
with it as any of them. No one single cause has more effec- 
tually and more beneficially influenced our whole political 
development than the law or custom which gives to the 
children of a peer no higher legal status than that of simple 
commoners. This alone has allowed us to retain the institu- 
tion of a hereditary peerage, while it has delivered us from 
the curse of a nobility of the continental sort, forming a dis- 
tinct caste from the rest of the people. Yet no one can tell 
the date, the author, or the cause of this all-important rule. 
Again, we do not believe that men like William the Conqueror 
and Edward the First were mere walking automata. Their 
personal will, their personal genius, did influence men and 
things, let philosophers say what they please. Of these 
several classes of causes we have only space to point out a few 
of the most important. None, we think, has had greater 
influence than the fact that we Englishmen live in an island, 
jand have always moved in a sort of world of our own. This, 
combined with the exterminating character of the first Teu- 
tonic settlements, made England, in the days of its earliest 
independence, a more purely Teutonic country than even 
Germany itself. And even the Norman Conquest, which 
seemed to destroy the old Teutonic life of the nation, in truth 
only strengthened it. To the Norman Conquest, more than to 


any other event, we owe the new birth of freedom two centuries 
later. It gave the finishing stroke to that process of union 
which had been going on ever since the days of Ecgberht. 
England now for ever became one kingdom. For a moment 
she became the prey of strangers ; but a variety of happy 
circumstances soon tended to change her conquerors into her 
children. The gigantic genius and iron will of the Conqueror 
himself enabled him to establish a power in the Crown which 
had no parallel in Europe save at Constantinople and at 
Cordova. Then came the accession of the Angevins, which 
was almost equivalent to a second Conquest. The French 
domains of Henry the Second were so vast that he was essen- 
tially a French sovereign. William was a Norman reigning in 
England; Englishmen were conquered, but England was great. 
Henry was a Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, perhaps a 
would-be King of France, who ruled England as a depen- 
dency beyond the sea. Posts of honour were so far from 
being held by men of Old-English blood, that they were but 
sparingly held even by the descendants of the first Norman 
settlers ; men utter strangers to the land held sway over both. 
In the reign of John, Normandy and the strictly French pro- 
vinces were lost ; Aquitaine alone was retained, a country as 
foreign to France as to England, and which found her 
account in loyalty to the more distant master. Then came 
fresh swarms of foreigners under Henry the Third, when at 
last the nation was ready for resistance. All these causes 
had combined to draw all the natives of the soil together. 
The heavy hand of despotism pressed alike upon the con- 
querors and the conquered. Men who were wholly alien to 
the realm were enriched and exalted at the expense of both. 
The Norman meanwhile had drunk in the air of the free 
island, and had learned that the laws of good King Edward 
weir as good for him as for his English neighbour. He soon 
found that his true place was among the English people, not 
beside the foreign King. Speedily did the Norman lords 
and gentlemen adopt the name, the feelings, and at last the 
tongue of Englishmen. The bloody baptism of Lewes and 

e 2 


of Evesham made the two races brethren in war and in peace 
for ever. In short, the true effect of the Norman Conquest 
was, not to crush or extinguish the Old-English spirit, but to 
call it out in a more definite and antagonistic form, and to 
give it a band of worthy proselytes in the conquering 
Normans themselves. 

Thus did an event which seemed to be the very death of 
English freedom, prove in the end to be to it, above all others, 
a savour of life unto life. We will not speculate as to what 
might have been had William, instead of Harold, fallen upon 
the hill of Senlac. It is enough to see what has been. It 
is through the very event which might have seemed to cut 
off England for ever from her ancient being that she has — 
more than through any other cause — been enabled to pre- 
serve an uninterrupted historical continuity with her earliest 
days which has been denied to kindred nations which never 
went through her fiery trial. 

( 53 ) 



There is something very remarkable in the way in which 
the popular mind, both in England and Scotland, looks at the 
whole history of the two countries, and especially at the 
question of the ancient relations between the two Crowns. 
It is not very wonderful that it is a point of honour with 
most Scotchmen to defend the Scottish side of a controversy 
between England and Scotland. The wonderful thing is 
that many Englishmen, and we suspect most Englishwomen, 
take the Scottish side against their own country. And it is 
more wonderful still that they do this, not from any calm 
conviction that England was wrong in the controversy, 
but from the same sort of unreasoning impulse which 
would more naturally have led them to take the other 
side. An Englishman, or a native of any other country, if 
he looks through the past history of his own land, will find 
plenty of occasions on which he must allow that his own 
nation and its sovereigns were utterly in the wrong. Still he 
feels a certain sympathy with his own people, even when 
they are in the wrong. His judgement draws him one way, 
and his feelings draw him another way. That the wars of 
Edward the Third in France were wars of purely unjust 
aggression it is impossible to deny.* The only conceivable 
palliation for them is that even virtuous men seem at the time 
to have persuaded themselves that those wars were just; and 
we must not forget that war in general, just or unjust, was not 

* [This is rather too strong. Sec the Essay on Edward the Third.] 


looked on then in the same light in which it is looked on 
now. Still Edward the Third and his son are popular heroes 
of English fancy. Eeason may condemn the aggression, but 
the glory of Crecy and Poitiers is too dazzling to be with- 
stood. The Black Prince is looked upon so exclusively as 
the model of chivalrous courage and chivalrous generosity 
that his real crimes and his real merits are alike forgotten. 
The cruel massacre of Limoges, an act condemned even in 
his own age, is forgotten. The real services which he ren- 
dered to his country in the Good Parliament are forgotten 
also. No ordinary English reader, even if he consents to the 
abstract proposition that the wars of Edward the Third and 
Henry the Fifth were unjust, ever sympathizes with the 
French who fought against them. 

But from France turn to Scotland, and the scene is com- 
pletely changed. In dealing with Scottish matters the 
popular and romantic English mind not only condemns its own 
countrymen, but throws itself, as a matter of feeling, against 
its own countrymen. Under the convenient name of Scots, a 
variety of persons, from William Wallace, perhaps from 
Malcolm Canmore, down to Charles Edward Stewart, are 
jumbled together. All alike are popular heroes, though their 
only common merit seems to be that they were all, in one 
way or another, enemies of England. Edward the First is 
distinctly unpopular, not because he seized the wool or be- 
cause he was not eager to confirm the Great Charter, but 
because, with the full approbation of all England, he asserted 
his right to the ancient overlordship of Scotland, and because 
in the end he put William Wallace to death as a traitor. 
Even Elizabeth, the great Protestant Queen who defied 
Parma and Spain, comes off with a very doubtful reputation, 
because she cut off the head of a Scotchwoman whoso crimes 
had aroused the righteous instincts of the Scottish people to 
depose her from their throne. Oddly enough, the greatest 
English sinners against Scotland, Henry the Eighth and 
Protector Somerset, are let off. If people think of Scotland 
in connexion with King Henry, it is because Flodden was 


fought in his reign, and a King of Scots invading England 
is of course an object of romantic English sympathy. The 
brutal and causeless devastations of Scotland under Henry 
and Edward the Sixth, the utterly useless slaughter of Pinkie, 
seems to be wholly forgotten. 

The cause of this strange, and probably unparalleled, direc- 
tion of popular feeling is to be found in a sort of generous 
revulsion of sentiment, strengthened by the influence of a 
few great Scottish writers. A foolish and unworthy preju- 
dice against Scotland and Scotsmen made way, under the 
charms of romance and poetry, for an equally unreasonable 
feeling of admiration for everything beyond the Tweed. 
The Scots, in the widest sense of the word, the inhabitants of 
modern Scotland of all tongues and races, first made up their 
own differences, and then made a sort of common conquest 
of English opinion. Lord Macaulay has forcibly shown how 
every fight in which the Gael overcame the Saxon, and every 
fight in which the Saxon overcame the Gael, has been thrown 
into a common stock of Scottish glory. Respectable citizens 
of Edinburgh, bearing, it may be, such Teutonic names as 
Smith, Brown, or Wilson, probably believe to this day that 
the grand charge of Celtic claymores at Killiecrankie some- 
how reflects honour on themselves. Mary Stewart, whose 
rejection by the Scottish people is one of the most honour- 
able facts in Scottish history, has become a sacred possession 
of the Scottish nation, on whom Englishmen at least may not 
lay their unhallowed hands. And Englishmen, at all events 
Englishwomen, believe all this. They get their notions of 
English history from the romance of Hume, and they follow 
them up with the certainly not more unhistorical romances 
of Sir Walter Scott. Everything Scotch becomes invested 
with a sort of poetical and romantic halo. Wallace and 
Bruce are heroes, full of exploits and hairbreadth scapes. 
King Edward may possibly have been a general, a statesman, 
and a lawgiver, but what are such prosaic merits when set 
against the charms of a hero of romance ? 

The fashion in these matters sets so strongly for the Scot- 


tish and against the English side, that it is very difficult to 
preserve strict impartiality in the matter. A revulsion 
against utter misrepresentation of truth may easily drive us 
too violently to the other side. When Englishmen condemn, 
almost without a hearing, the part taken by the whole Eng- 
lish nation under the greatest and noblest King that England 
has seen for eight hundred years, one is perhaps tempted to 
do less than justice to his enemies. Trying to look at the 
matter as fairly as possible, it seems to me that, while the 
conduct of King Edward can be justified and more than jus- 
tified, it does not at all follow that there is not a good deal 
to be said on the other side. The claim of Edward was" 
quite clear enough to justify an honest man in asserting it. 
It was not so clear but that an honest man might also be 
justified in resisting it. Crimes were committed on both 
Bides which fully account for bitter national animosity on 
both Bides. In the end, the justice of the case, originally on 
tin- side of England, turned to the side of Scotland. I am 
Dot concern i. 'd to defend the way in which Scotland was dealt 
with eithei by Edward the Third or by any English King 
later than Edward the Third. I only ask for justice for his 
incomparably uobler grandfather. I only ask that our great 
King be not hastily condemned for the assertion of rights 
which were not, as I believe people generally fancy, some 
invention of his own, but which had been an inheritance of 
liis predecessors on the English throne for more than three 
hundred and sixty years. 

( >m the Bubject of the relations between the English and 
Scottish Crowns in early times, I have had occasion to say 

BO what in the first volume of my History of the Norman 

( tonquest, and especially in the Appendix. I there entered 
into some controversy with an able writer on the Scottish 
ride, Mr. I]. W. Robertson I there expressed a hope that I 
might, at ~"in.- future time, l»' able to go into the matter 
more fully, as in that Appendix [ could deal only with points 
belonging to the yeryearliesl stages of the dispute. I men- 
tion this lesf anj one should mistake the present paper for 


the fulfilment of the promise which I then held forth. I 
mean it for nothing of the kind. To go fully into the matter 
from the beginning to the end, arguing, as I should have to 
do, against Mr. Eobertson at almost every step, would require 
much more time and space than can be given to it in a 
single essay. But where the case on one side is generally 
misunderstood, a mere statement of the case, even without 
a minute discussion of the evidence, is worth something. I 
thought therefore that I might be doing service to historical 
truth by calling attention to the subject, by clearly showing 
the line which I trust some day to find an opportunity for 
defending in a more complete manner, and by getting rid of 
some mere popular misconceptions, which can never, unless 
quite unconsciously, affect the minds of real scholars on either 
side, but which form the whole belief on the subject in the 
minds of a great many people, Scottish and English 

First, then, I would venture to ask, what is Scotland, and 
who are the Scots ? I must here say once more what, I have 
no doubt, I have said over and over again in one shape or 
another, but which must be said over and over again till 
people thoroughly take it in. No one can understand this 
question, or any other question in early media3val history, 
unless he sets himself altogether free from the bondage of 
the modern map and of modern national nomenclature. 
When the disputed relations between the English and Scot- 
tish Crowns began, the names of England and Scotland seem 
not to have been in use at all. And if we choose to use 
them as convenient ways of expressing the English and 
Scottish territories as they then stood, we must still remem- 
ber that the limits of those territories in no way answered to 
the modern limits of England and Scotland. Part of modern 
English was not yet English, and a very large part of 
modern Scotland was not yet Scottish. The growth of the 
Scottish nation and kingdom is one of the most remarkable 
facts in history. It was formed by the fusing together of 
certain portions of all the three races which in the tenth 


century, as now, inhabited the Isle of Britain. Those three 
races may be most conveniently spoken of as English, Welsh, 
and Irish. A portion of each of these three races was, 
through a variety of political circumstances, detached from 
the main stock of its own nation, and all were brought into 
close connexion with one another. At the beginning of the 
tenth century the three were still distinct. The original 
Scots, a colony from Ireland, the original Scotia, had, cen- 
turies before, established themselves on the north-western 
coast of Britain, and, not very long before the period with 
which I am concerned, they had conquered or fraternized 
with or exterminated or assimilated the Picts, the people of 
the north-eastern part of modern Scotland. The relations 
between the Picts and the Scots I leave in intentional vague- 
ness; they form a very difficult question, and one whose 
solution or exposition is in no way essential to my object. 
It is enough that at the beginning of the tenth century an 
independent Celtic potentate, the King of Scots, reigned over 
all modern Scotland north of the two great firths of Forth 
and Clyde, except so far as Scandinavian adventurers had 
already begun to occupy the islands and the extreme north 
of the mainland. Here then were the Scots, a Celtic people, 
whose dominant tongue was Irish, a tongue still represented 
by the modern Gaelic. These Scots then, a branch of the 
Irish nation, have given to the modern Scottish kingdom its 
name and its royal dynasty. But all that gave Scotland its 
historical importance came from other quarters. The appli- 
cation of the Scottish name to the whole people of modern 
Scotland was something like the application, so common 
before the restoration of the Kingdom of Italy, of the Sar- 
dinian name to the people of Savoy, Piedmont, and Genoa. 
As far as ethnical connexion is concerned, this analogy will 
hold good. The groat mass of the so-called Scots wore Scots 
bnly by nrtue of being subjects of the Jung of Scots. 
The great mass of the so-called Sardinians were Sardinians 
only by virtue of being subjects of the King of Sardinia, 
But there is this difference, thai the King of Scots was really 


a King of Scots ; the royal dynasty of Scotland was Scottish, 
while the royal dynasty of Sardinia was not Sardinian. But 
the position of that dynasty as Dukes of Savoy answered 
exactly to the position of the Kings of Scots. In both cases 
the cradle of the dynasty was one of the least valuable pos- 
sessions of the reigning sovereign. 

The King of Scots then, at the beginning of the tenth 
century, reigned north of the firths, over an independent 
Celtic people. The Scots seem to have submitted more than 
once to a certain superiority on the part of the Northumbrian 
Kings ; perhaps both they and the Northumbrians submitted 
to the Imperial superiority of Charles the Great. But 
any submission of this sort was quite transient, and did not 
affect the later history. At the beginning of the tenth 
century the Scots were, as is allowed on all hands, perfectly 

' But at that time the southern part of what is now Scotland 
had nothing to do with the Scots, and it had to do with the 
King of Scots only inasmuch as an independent branch of 
the Scottish royal family reigned in one part of it. xVll 
south-western Scotland, with much of what is now north- 
western England, formed the Kingdom of the Strathclyde 
Welsh. Over this kingdom, from an early date in the tenth 
century, Kings of the Scottish family reigned, but it formed 
a purely distinct state, independent equally of the King of 
Scots and of the King of the West-Saxons. The south- 
eastern part of modern Scotland, Lothian in the wide sense 
of the word, was simply part of Northumberland, that great 
region which, sometimes under one King, sometimes under 
two or more, stretched from the Humber to the Forth. 
Lothian was therefore, then as now, a strictly Teutonic 
country, inhabited by a population mainly Anglian, and 
speaking, then as now, the Northumbrian dialect of English. 
In the language of the Scots, the land was Saxony and its 
people Saxons. An inroad into Saxony was a favourite 
exploit of the Scottish Kings, and they had already begun 
to look with wistful eyes on the northern bulwark of Saxony, 


the border-fortress raised by the great Northumbrian Bret- 
walda, the castle of Eadwinesburh or Edinburgh. 

Here then are the three elements of the modern Scottish 
nation : the true Scots, the Irish population north of the 
Forth; the Welsh of Strathclyde or Cumberland; the 
English of Lothian. Of these, the first and the third still 
survive and still retain their several languages, though ever 
since they have been brought into connexion with each other 
the English element has advanced and the Irish element has 
fallen back. The Welsh element has long since been 
absorbed by the English. The old Welsh kingdom no longer 
exists as a distinct division ; it is divided between modern 
England and modern Scotland, and its language survives 
only in some points of local nomenclature to be traced out 
by inquiring antiquaries and philologers. 

It was out of the fusion of these three elements that the 
modern Scottish nation arose, and their fusion arose wholly 
out of the relations into which they all of them entered with 
the dominant English power to the south. In 924 the king- 
dom of Eadward the Elder reached to the Hurnber. Beyond 
that river the Scots and the Strathclyde Welsh had never 
owned any superiority in any West-Saxon King. Northum- 
berland, including of course Lothian, might be considered as 
owing some sort of vassalage, for the whole land had owned 
the supremacy of Ecgberht, and had even renewed its submis- 
sion to iElfred. In 924, according to our national Chronicles, 
the submission of Northumberland was again renewed in a 
more solemn way ; and with the renewal of the submission 
of Northumberland, Eadward also received — what no West- 
Saxon King had ever before received — the submission of the 
Scots and the Strathclyde Welsh. All the kings and princes 
north of the Humber, with the assent of their subjects, 
" chose Eadward to father and to lord." In the Latin phrase 
they coiitiiKittlrJ themselves to him; they promised him 
fidelity and put themselves under his protection. This is the 
origin of the English claim to superiority over Scotland. It 
is also the origin of the close connexion between the three 


countries which united to form modern Scotland. All three 
— Scotland proper, Strathclyde, and Lothian (as a part of 
Northumberland) — became dependencies of the King of the 
English. Other changes speedily followed, all of which had 
a tendency to bring the three countries more closely together. 
The first change may for a moment have had an oj}posite 
effect. ^Ethelstan was the first to incorporate Northumber- 
land, and Lothian as a part of it, with the English kingdom. 
That kingdom thus stretched to the Forth. After several 
revolts of the Danes, this incorporation was finally accom- 
plished by Eadred. Meanwhile Eadmund, on a revolt of 
Strathclyde, conquered the country, and granted it to Malcolm 
of Scotland, to be held on tenure of military service. From 
that time it became the appanage of the eldest son of the 
Scottish King. In Eadred's time Edinburgh came into the 
possession of the Scots, by what means does not appear. At 
some later time, either under Eadgar or under Cnut — I have 
gone fully into that controversy elsewhere — all Lothian was 
ceded to the Scottish King ; when and on what terms forms 
one of the points of dispute. 

We thus find, early in the eleventh century, the three 
countries — Scotland proper, Strathclyde, and Lothian — all 
united under one sovereign, Strathclyde being usually 
granted out again to that sovereign's heir-apparent. A great- 
step had thus been taken towards the formation of the 
modern Scottish kingdom and nation. But all three formed 
part of the English Empire, and were subject to the Impe- 
rial authority of the West-Saxon or English King. The 
three countries, however, stood in three different relations to 
their overlord ; and the different relations of Scotland and 
Strathclyde supply some of the best illustrations of those 
various kinds of relations, both between sovereigns and 
between private men, out of which the latter and more finished 
feudalism gradually grew. 

What lies at the bottom of the whole thing is the personal 
relation between a man and his lord. The weaker party 
commends himself to the stronger; the man promises faithful 


service, the lord promises faithful protection. The holding 
of land by military or other service is not an essential or 
original part of the relation, but it gradually and easily 
came to be ingrafted upon it. Such land might be an ori- 
ginal errant from the lord, held bv his man on such terms as 
they might agree upon ; or it might be the man's own allodial 
holding, which he surrendered to the lord, and received back 
to be held of him in fief. Out of these simple elements 
gradually grew up that elaborate feudal jurisprudence which 
had reached its perfection in the thirteenth century, but 
which was certainly not known in the tenth. But, even 
within the tenth century, the different relations of Scotland 
proper and Strathclyde mark the advance in the strictly feudal 
direction. The King of Scots, and all the people of Scots, 
chose Eadward the Elder to father and to lord. The motive 
was obvious : Eadward was powerful, and was clearly aiming 
at the conquest of the whole island. It was good policy to 
meet him half-way ; it was also good policy, and something 
more, for all the Christian states of the island to unite 
against their heathen invaders. Such an union could not be 
effectually made except under West-Saxon leadership. The 
position of Wessex in Britain then was really not unlike that 
of Prussia in Germany just now.* By a great national act 
the King and the people of the Scots commended them- 
selves to the West-Saxon King, exactly as numberless states 
on the Continent found it expedient to commend themselves 
to the Emperor, or as the Duke of the Normans commended 
himself to the Duke of the French. There Mas nothing 
strange or degrading in the relation ; it was the relation in 
which, in theory, all other princes stood to the Emperor. 
But the commendation of the Scott ; h King and people 
certainly did not make Scotland a territorial fief; still less 
did it bring with it any of the feudal incidents which were 
invented long after. In the course of the controversy it \\;is 

* [The events of 1870-1871, especially the assumption of the Imperial 
title by the Prussian King — the Bretwalda of Germany — have made tin' 
Likeness still closer.] 


argued that the English King could have no superior rights 
over Scotland, because Scotland was confessedly not liable to 
certain feudal incidents. The true answer would have been 
that the superiority dated from a time older than the feudal 
jurisprudence, from a time when any incidents of the kind 
were as vet unknown. 

Scotland proper then — the Irish land north of the firths — 
was connected with the English King (or, in this relation 
we should rather say the English Emperor) by a tie of purely 
personal commendation. Strathclyde, on the other hand, 
was an early case of a real territorial fief. Eadmund con- 
quered Strathclyde ; he might of course have incorporated it 
with his own kingdom. Instead of so doing, he granted the 
land to Malcolm on condition of military service by sea and 
by land. Here we have a real fief, though of course all the 
niceties and intricacies of feudal law are not to be applied 
to the case. The vassalage of part of Strathclyde, namely of 
the modern county of Cumberland, is not denied by any 
Scottish writer. Indeed, Scottish writers seem rather inclined 
to exaggerate the feudal position of Cumberland, as affording 
a means of escape from the fact of any superiority over 
Scotland itself. Every instance of homage is thus con- 
veniently represented as being done for lands within the 
modern limits of England. 

Strathclyde then was a territorial fief, but not a territorial 
fief within the Kingdom of England. But Lothian was an 
integral part of England. Jedburgh was as much a North- 
umbrian town as York. Unluckily the cession of Lothian is, 
as to its date and circumstances, a difficult and disputed 
point ; there is no contemporary account of this transaction, 
such as there is of the other two. But it is hardly possible 
to doubt that the King of Scots must have been intended to 
be, with regard to Lothian, strictly an English Earl, just as 
he was in later times for other lands within the later English 

The three countries which make up modern Scotland were 
thus brought into a close political connexion with one 


another, while at the same time they stood in three distinct 
relations to the Imperial Crown of England. It followed 
naturally that the three should draw closer together, and that 
the original difference in the three tenures should come 
to be forgotten on both sides. The Scottish Kings soon 
learned that English Lothian was by far the most valuable 
part of their dominions. They gradually identified them- 
selves with their English territories, and they endeavoured 
to spread English culture over the rest of their possessions. 
As early as the reign of Macbeth they welcomed settlers from 
England and exiles from England, of whatever kind ; native 
Englishmen dispossessed by the Conqueror, Norman settlers 
in England dissatisfied with him or his successors, all found 
a munificent welcome beyond the Tweed. The marriage 
of Malcom and Margaret was the great turning-point. The 
Kings of Scots, from that time, became essentially English 
princes, and that just at the very moment when French 
princes were beginning to reign in England itself. English 
Lothian, and so much of their other territories as they suc- 
ceeded in Anglicizing, became the real Kingdom of Scot- 
land. The true Scots were in a manner forsaken by their 
own princes ; they gradually came to be looked on simply as 
troublesome savages, whom the new English Kings of Scots 
had much ado to keep in any sort of submission. Thus the 
English subjects of the King of Scots gradually came to be 
called Scots, and their land Scotland. A part of England, 
in short, got detached from the rest under the name of Scot- 
land, and held the true Scotland beyond it in a somewhat 
unwilling connexion. And so long as the Kings of southern 
England were French, so long as the court language of 
England was French while that of Scotland was English, 
the King of Scotland's dominions were in very truth far more 
English than England itself. 

Thus the Scottish Kingdom gradually formed itself. Under 
such circumstances it was impossible that the different tenures 
by which the three parts of the dominions of the Kiug of 
Soots wore hold should long be remembered. As the feudal 


jurisprudence developed, all of them became obsolete and 
almost unintelligible. That Scotland was held by personal 
commendation — that Strathclyde was a territorial fief, but a 
fief too old to be burthened with aids or wardship or marriage 
— that Lothian was in strictness an English Earldom — were 
distinctions which naturally passed out of mind. Gradually 
there came to be no apparent alternatives except strict feudal 
tenure, as feudal tenure came to be understood, and the 
entire absence of subjection of any sort. The subjection of 
Scotland to the Imperial Crown of Britain was an historical 
fact ; there was therefore a temptation on the English side 
to argue that Scotland was an ordinary fief, differing only in 
extent and dignity from any English Earldom. On the other 
hand, it was equally an historical fact that Scotland had never 
been subject to the burthens incident to an ordinary fief; 
there was therefore a temptation on the Scottish side to deny 
that Scotland owed any kind of subjection whatever. In an 
age when the developed feudal jurisprudence was familiar to 
both sides, it was almost impossible that either side should 
cleave to the ancient precedents of the tenth century. It 
was in the nature of things that the lord should claim more, 
that the " man " should offer less, than those ancient prece- 
dents dictated. More and less, that is, as regards Scotland 
and Strathclyde ; as regards Lothian, an integral part of 
England, it is clear that the English Kings claimed less than 
their ancient right. Add to this that, except under some 
special circumstances, the fear of Danish invasions or the 
like, any sort of subjection would, from the days of the first 
commendation onwards, be galling to the Scottish King and 
his people. The homage due to the Emperor of Britain 
would never be very willingly paid. It would be paid when 
England was strong and Scotland weak ; when England was 
weak it would be refused, perhaps not demanded. Homage 
for Scotland proper was paid to Eadgar, to Cnut,to Eadward, to 
William ; it does not appear that it was ever paid to the feeble 
iEthelred. Then, in later times, the homage due for the 
different parts of what had become the Kingdom of Scotland 



got mixed up with various other questions. The Kings of 
Scots undoubtedly held territories within the later borders of 
England, both royalties and private estates, for which nobody 
doubted that homage was as fully due from them as from any 
English noble. "Whenever a King of Scots did homage, it 
was alwavs possible to raise the question whether the homage 
was done for the Kingdom of Scotland, or onlv for lands 
held in England. In many cases it might be convenient alike 
to lord and vassal to allow so delicate a question to remain 
unsettled either way. Then Henry the Second imposed con- 
ditions on his captive William the Lion which undoubtedly 
went far beyond all earlier precedent. Richard the First 
released Scotland from these special and novel burthens ; did 
he or did he not, also release her from all subjection of every 
kind? Here then were abundant materials for a never- 
ending 1 controversy, a controversy in which, if right consisted 
in adherence to precedents which were no longer understood, 
it is quite certain that neither side could ever be exactly in 
the right. Here were questions perpetually arising which 
did not admit of any satisfactory settlement, questions which 
at different times were sure to be answered in different ways 
and imder different circumstances. "When a weak King of 
England was troubled with every sort of domestic difficulties 
at home, while a national and popular dynasty filled the 
throne of Scotland, it was not likely that the English claim 
could be very effectually pressed. Things changed when 
England was ruled by the greatest King of his age, by well 
nigh the greatest English King of any age, and when a crowd 
of competitors for the Scottish Crown were eager to lay their 
contending claims at his feet. 

The claim which was then put forward by Edward the First 
was, as I before said, a claim which he had fair grounds for 
putting forward, but which the other side had fair grounds 
for contesting. It was easy to prove that Scotland owed 
some subjection to England; it was equally easy to prove 
that Scotland did not owe the subjection of an ordinary 
English fief. Vulgar and ill-informed Scottish writrrs always 


seize the opportunity for hurling every sort of abuse at 
Edward, seemingly for bringing forward his claims at all. 
Better-informed and more candid writers on the same side, 
who know the facts and who make no attempt to disguise 
them, are satisfied with charging him with ungenerous and 
unchivalrous conduct. This lack of generosity and chivalry 
on Edward's part seems to have consisted in his being states- 
man enough to see an advantage and to make use of it. But 
I would ask whether Kings and Governments even now com- 
monly show much of chivalry or generosity to one another, 
or whether it is to be reasonably expected that they should 
show much of such feelings ? An angel on earth, like Saint 
Lewis, may act otherwise ; from ordinary human Kings, Pre- 
sidents, or Prime Ministers it is enough to expect that they 
do not, in any time or place, put forth claims which are pal- 
pably dishonest. If a claim have any fair ground to go upon, 
to put it forth in the form, the time, the place, in which it 
can be pressed with most effect, is generally held to be a 
mere question of policy. He who chooses the worst time for 
such a purpose, instead of the best, may possibly show chivalry 
or generosity ; but no statesman, whether of the thirteenth or 
of the nineteenth century, will speak highly of his wisdom. 
Edward then, I hold, had a fair case — such a case, I mean, 
as would justify an honest man in putting forth an ordinary 
claim in an ordinary court of law. He claimed an ancient 
right of his crown, which his predecessors had exercised 
whenever they could : he claimed it in the only shape which 
the claim was likely to take in his days. If in some points 
he claimed more, in other points he claimed less, than ancient 
precedents would have given him. In reading the lengthy 
pleadings in the great suit before the Lord Superior two 
things constantly strike us. As a rule, the whole matter 
had reduced itself to a question whether the land north of 
the Tweed, looked at as a whole, was or was not a fief of 
England. But ever and anon we are struck with various 
signs which show a vague feeling, a sort of lurking memory, 
that the real historical issue was not quite so simple as this. 

f 2 


Here and there an expression is found implying some sort 
of distinction between Scotland, Lothian, and Galloway 
— the representative of ancient Strathclyde. More com- 
monly we find a very distinct feeling on all sides that a 
Kingdom, even if held in fief, differed in some way or other 
from an ordinary feudal holding. More remarkable than all 
are two passages in which the Lord Superior receives the 
ancient and now well nigh forgotten title of Emperor. In 
one of the earliest documents belonging to the question, one 
earlier than the great conference at Norham, Robert Bruce 
asks for the kingdom of Scotland of Edward as " his sove- 
reign Lord and Emperor."* So, when the question is raised 
whether the controversy between the candidates should be 
judged by the Imperial law or by any other, one of the pre- 
lates consulted answers that the King of England must follow 
the law of his own realm, because he is himself Emperor 
in his own dominions/!" And passages are rather numerous 
in which freedom from all subjection to the Empire and to 
the laws of the Empire is spoken of as a sort of privilege of 
the Crown of England, and of Scotland as a member thereof. 
This was of course the old notion. The King of the English 
was, within his own island, what the Emperor was in the rest 
of the world. He owed no submission to Caesar, and he him- 
self stood in the place of Caesar to all the other princes of 
Britain. The Imperial position of the Old-English Kings 
must be thoroughly grasped before the real nature of Scottish 
subjection can be understood. In the full Imperial theory, 
all kingdoms, Scotland of course included, owed submission 
to the Roman Emperor. But our West-Saxon Kings put in 
an exception for Britain, as being in some sort another world, 
and they claimed to be themselves Emperors within its borders. 

* Palgrave, Documents, p. 29. "Sire Itobert de Brus .... ]>rie 
a nostre Seigneur le Key come sou Sovereign Seigneur e son Emprvxr." 

t Riahanger, ed. Riley, p. 255. " Episcopus Bibliensis requisitus dixit 
quodDominua Rex secundum leges per quas judicat subjectos suos debet 
procedere in casu isto, quia hie censetur Tmjaerator." I confess tbat I do 
not know who " Episcopus Bibliensis " was. I can only guess that he was 
some Rishop in pcertibus, perhaps of Byblos in Syria. 


This ancient position, by that time well nigh forgotten, is 
invoked both by the elder Bruce and by the Bishop. But 
commonly the matter becomes a mere question of fief or no 
fief, allowing for any special privileges belonging to a fief 
which was also a kingdom. 

It must be borne in mind that Edward was invited to decide 
the disputed succession to the Scottish crown. He was invited 
to do so by Robert Bruce, by the Seven Earls,* and by the 
Scots generally. The Seven Earls appealed to him as their 
natural protector against the wrongs inflicted by the Regents ; 
Robert Bruce, as we have seen, appealed to him in the 
ancient character of Emperor of Britain. Xow can any 
reasonable man blame Edward for demanding that those who 
thus invoked his interference should make a full acknow- 
ledgement of his claims ? In the judgement of any states- 
man, the moment was now come to make certain what was 
before uncertain. Edward put forth his claim, a good and 
honest claim, urged in good faith. No doubt an equally 
honest answer might on some points have been made to the 
claim ; but no answer was made. After a little hesitation, 
all the competitors for the crown admitted Edward's claims 
to the superiority in the fullest extent, and they gave him, as 
surely was reasonable, the temporary possession of the king- 
dom in dispute. And, if any man's conduct ever was marked 
by thorough justice and disinterestedness, that of King 
Edward was so marked throughout the whole business. 
Every claimant was fully and fairly heard; judgment was 
given in favour of the claimant who clearly had the best 
right ; the new King was at once put into full possession of his 
kingdom and all its appurtenances. Most princes of that age, 
and of many other ages, would have devised some excuse for 
detaining the kingdom itself, or some castle in it, or some other 
material hold over it. That is to say, most princes would 
have acted in the matter of Scotland as Philip the Fair did 
act to Edward himself in the matter of Aquitaine. Edward's 
conduct was throughout honest and aboveboard. He required 
* See Palgrave, Documents, p. 1-1. 


the acknowledgement of his claims ; he received it ; he then 
acted justly and honourably according to the theory of his 
own position which he had put forth, and which all the com- 
petitors had acknowledged. And, more than all, he rejected 
the tempting proposal of Hastings and Bruce to divide the 
kingdom. Had Edward wished to take any unfair advantage, 
here was his chance. Two of the competitors, when their 
claim to the whole kingdom was rejected, demanded a share, 
according to the English usage in the case of female fiefs- 
No proposal could have been more tempting, had Edward 
sought anything but what he honestly held to be his due. It 
\\as clearly his interest to have three weak vassals rather than 
one powerful one. But Edward, as he did throughout the 
case, calmly inquired into law and precedent, and ruled, in 
conformity with at least later law and precedent, that the 
Kingdom of Scotland could not be divided. Edward may 
have taken a wrong view of his own rights ; but of any- 
thing like unfair or underhand dealing no man stands more 
thoroughly acquitted. 

The competitors then, the new King, the great men of the 
realm generally, accepted Edward's claims. But it may be, 
and it has been, doubted how far they really spoke the voice 
of the Scottish nation. We must never forget who these 
competitors and other great men really were. None of the 
competitors, and comparatively few of the great men of the 
realm, were genuine Scots in either the older or the later 
sense. Setting aside foreign princes like Eric of Norway and 
Florence of Holland, the competitors, Bruce, Balliol, Comyn, 
Hastings, and the rest, were neither Dalriadic Scots, nor 
Welshmen of Strathclyde, nor Englishmen of Lothian. They 
were Norman nobles, holding lands both in England and in 
Scotland, who might throw in their lot with England or 
Scotland at pleasure, but who did much more commonly 
throw in their lot with England. Balliol and the elder 
Bruce were essentially Englishmen Englishmen, that is, in 
thesense in which any other English noble of Norman descent 
was an Englishman. John Comyn of Buchanwas throughout 


a faithful adherent of Edward; John Comyn of Badenoch 
and the younger Bruce identified themselves more freely 
with Scotland. But none of them were Scots in the ethno- 
logical sense ; none of them were Scots even in the sense of 
being natives and inhabitants of Scotland, with no interests 
beyond its borders. John Balliol had lands alike in Scotland, 
England, and France. After being a King in Scotland and 
a prisoner in England, he retired to live as a private French 
noble on his French property. Such men did not, and could 
not, really represent the feelings of any part of the Scottish 
people. The event proved that in the heart of the nation 
there was a feeling against English dominion in any shape 
which the great nobles did not share. But the apparent 
consent was universal. Edward might boast, like his great 
namesake and ancestor, that the King of Scots, and all the 
people of Scots, chose him to father and to lord. And again 
we may ask, Who were the Scottish people ? It is plain that 
the whole affair was one in which the original Scots took no 
share, or a share hostile to what is commonly looked on as 
the Scottish cause. The Scots who resisted Edward were 
the English of Lothian. The true Scots, out of hatred to the 
" Saxons " nearest to them, leagued with the " Saxons " 
further off. Candid Scottish writers allow that the true Scots 
of the Highlands were bitterly hostile to the younger Bruce, 
and strongly favourable to Edward. No doubt, had Edward 
kept possession, he would soon have become the object of 
their hostility. As it was, the true Scots were the faithful 
allies of Edward against the English of Lothian. 

We thus see Edward the acknowledged Lord Superior, and 
John of Balliol, undoubtedly the lawful heir, reigning as his 
vassal. Then comes the question of the appeals. It does 
not appear that any appeal had ever before been carried from 
the court of the King of Scots to the court of the King of 
England. We may be quite sure that no such subtleties were 
ever dreamed of in the tenth century. But the idea of an 
appeal to the court of the overlord naturally grew out of the 
principles of the new feudal jurisprudence. Edward himself, 


as Duke of Aquitaine, was often summoned to the courts of 
the King of France, and he does not seem to have disputed 
the right of the King of France so to summon him. But we 
may be quite sure that Edward's predecessors in Aquitaine 
in the tenth century as little thought of paying any such 
sign of submission to their lord at Laon or Paris as his prede- 
cessors in Wessex at the same time thought of requiring any 
such sign of submission from their vassal beyond the Forth. 
The whole notion of an elaborate system of courts, such as 
could allow of such appeals, is later than the earliest homage 
paid either for Aquitaine or for Scotland. It coidd not be 
part of the original bargain in either case, but in both cases 
the claim grew up with the gradual development of feudal 
ideas. And, after all, it was the Scots themselves who, from 
the fact of Edward's superiority over the kingdom, drew the 
inference that they might appeal to his courts. Two Scottish 
subjects in very different positions, Roger Bartholomew, bur- 
gess of Berwick, and Macduff, a near kinsman of the Earl of 
Fife — surely a genuine Scot, if there ever was one — dis- 
satisfied with the justice to be had in the courts of the King 
of Scots, appealed to the courts of his acknowledged feudal 
superior. The thing was a novelty ; but it was an obvious 
consequence from a state of things which was now universally 
admitted, and it was not a novelty of Edward's devising. 
Ordinary human nature on Edward's part was not likely to 
refuse what would seem to be so fair and honourable a way 
of increasing his power. But ordinary human nature on the 
Scottish part could hardly fail to be offended with what 
would seem to be a further humiliation of Scotland. 

Next came the Scottish alliance with France, then at war 
with England, an alliance which gradually led to a series of 
mutual hostilities, which I need not recount at length, as 
they do not immediately bear on the relations between the 
two Crowns. Tin important points are, that the first hostili- 
ties were the act of the Scots, and that the King of Scots, as 
soon as the war had actually begun, renounced his homage. 
The assertion of national independence might be just and 


expedient ; but the attempt to assert it by a process of feudal 
law was simply absurd. Then Edward, in 1296, conquered 
Scotland, and received the abdication of the King and the 
general submission of the country. The kingdom was his by 
conquest in a lawful war not of his seeking. I am not saying 
that the Scots might not be fully justified in revolting against 
him. All I say is that Edward was fully justified in occupy- 
ing Scotland, and in putting down such revolts. With the 
conquest in 1296 the history of the old relations between the 
Crowns comes to an end. From 1296 to 1328 the question was, 
not whether Scotland should be held by its own King in feudal 
dependence on England, but whether Scotland should be- 
come, as Northumberland and Wales had in different ages be- 
come, an integral portion of the English kingdom. Meanwhile 
a new dynasty, that of Bruce, had arisen in Scotland. In 
1328 the legitimacy of the new dynasty and the independence 
of the Scottish kingdom were fully acknowledged by England. 
From that day forth, wars between England and Scotland 
must be judged by the same principles as wars between any 
other two independent nations. The renunciation of 1328 
wiped out the first commendation of 924 ; it wiped out what 
we may call the second commendation of 1292 ; it wiped out 
the conquest of 1296. The attempts made by the English 
Kings to fall back on the earlier state of things, to claim 
again a homage which they had expressly surrendered, to set 
up pretenders against a dynasty whose rights they had ex- 
pressly acknowledged, were all simply dishonest. The 
charges of craft, bad faith, and the like, which Scottish 
writers most unjustly bring against Edward the First, may all 
be brought with perfect justice against Edward the Third. 

The little space I have left I will give to point out one or 
two popular misconceptions. I fancy that people in general 
quite mistake the chronology of the case. They fancy that 
the whole of Edward's reign was taken up in an attempt to 
conquer Scotland. Instead of this, it was only the latter 
part of his reign which was occupied by Scottish matters at 
all. Edward began to reign in 1272. In the nineteenth 


year of his reign, 1291, the conference at Norham began. In 

1296 came the first hostilities and the first conquest. In 

1297 came the revolt of William Wallace and his victory at 
Stirling. In 1298 the battle of Falkirk crushed the revolt, 
but the war lingered till the surrender of Stirling in 1304. 
In that year Edward was again undisputed lord of all Scot- 
land. Scotland was annexed to England as an integral part 
of the kingdom, and was to be represented in the English 
Parliament. In 1306, the year before Edward's death, came 
the murder of Comyn, the revolt and coronation of the 
younger Bruce. At Edward's death, in 1307, the new King 
was again a fugitive. 

I speak of the wars of Wallace and Bruce as revolts. Their 
revolts may, like many other revolts, have been justifiable, 
but they were revolts. Neither of them, Bruce far less than 
Wallace, was resisting an invader. As for William Wallace, 
we need not look upon him either as the faultless hero which 
he appears in Scottish romance, nor yet as the vulgar ruffian 
which he appears in English history. His tenure of power 
in Scotland was very short, but for a man who started, as he 
did, from nothing, to rise, even for a moment, to the com- 
mand of armies, and even to the government of the kingdom, 
shows that he must have possessed some very great qualities. 
That the great nobles mostly shrank from him, or supported 
him very faintly, is rather to his credit ; it sets him forth 
more distinctly as a national champion. On the other hand, 
it is impossible to deny the fiendish brutalities practised by 
him in England, brutalities which fully explain the intense 
hatred with which every English writer speaks of him, and 
which were certainly not retaliation for any cruelties on the 
I >art of Edward. Candid Scottish w liters allow that no useless 
slaughter or ravages can be laid to Edward's charge. In the 
whole course of Lis warfare he stands chargeable with nothing 
which even our age would call cruelty, unless it be in the 
forming of Berwick, where the personal insults of the 
besieged seem t<> have stirred him up to fury. At other 
times we find nothing of the kind, but we do find him check- 


ing and reproving the cruelties of others, including his own 
unworthy son. As for the execution of William Wallace, it 
should be remembered that his was the only Scottish blood 
shed by an English executioner before the murder of Comyn, 
and that he brought his fate upon himself. Every other 
man in Scotland had submitted. Wallace was invited to 
surrender to the King's mercy. That mercy had been ex- 
tended to every man who had sought it, including many who 
had broken their oaths to Edward over and over again. 
Wallace refused, and refused with insult. He was seized by 
Sir John Menteith, Edward's commander at Dunbarton, an 
act of official duty which has been strangely turned into a 
betrayal* He could now hardly look for the mercy which 
he had scorned. In the eyes of Edward and of every 
Englishman he was simply a traitor, robber, murderer, of the 
blackest dye. On such men the law took its course in 1305 
just as it did in 1745. 

The revolt of Robert Bruce was, in every way, far less 
justifiable than that of William Wallace. Wallace was cer- 
tainly a native Scotsman in the wider sense of the word. His 
name seems to imply that he was a Welshman of Strathclyde. 
By his own account he had never sworn fealty to Edward. 
The position of Robert Bruce was very different. He has 
become so thoroughly mythical a being that it may be 
necessary to explain to many people who he was. One 
Scottish romance goes so far as to make him defeat Edward the 
First at Bannockburn ! Another, of older date, identifies him 
with his own grandfather, makes him the competitor for the 
crown, but makes him also proudly refuse to do homage for 
it. We have seen that Bobert Bruce the grandfather was an 
Englishman, a faithful subject of Edward, eager to admit 
Edward's supremacy, ready to have the kingdom divided. 
His son was an utterly obscure person, who plays no part in 
the politics of the time. His gnlndson, the future King, 

* Wallace was "betrayed," not hj Menteith, but. to Menteith, by his 
<>\vn servant Jack Short. From this the English chronicler Peter Langtoft 
draws the moral that there is no honour anions: thieves. 


possessor of great Scottish estates through his mother, seems 
always to have inclined to Scotland rather than to England. 
Still he was Edward's subject ; he had sworn to him and served 
under him over and over again. At last, when the country- 
was at peace, when Edward's government was universally 
submitted to, Robert Bruce treacherously and sacrilegiously 
murdered John Comyn, the man, be it remembered, who, 
after the male line of Balliol, was undoubtedly the heir of 
the Scottish crown. After such a crime there could be no 
hope of pardon. Bruce then threw a desperate stake; he 
assumed kingship ; while the great Edward lived he lived 
the life of an outlaw and a vagabond ; over Edward's wretched 
son he won an easy triumph. Robert Bruce undoubtedly 
proved himself in the end a great captain and a great King ; 
but that fact should blind no one to the infamous beginning 
of his career. That all who were concerned in the murder of 
Comyn met with their merited punishment, who can wonder ? 
Who can wonder that lesser degrees of punishment fell on the 
other ringleaders of the revolt ? The nature of punishments, 
the form of death, the degree of the severity of imprison- 
ment, are questions between the habits of one age and those of 
another ; but it is quite certain that Edward punished no man 
or woman who would not be held liable to punishment at the 
present moment. Indeed, when we look at the atrocities 
which living Englishmen have committed and justified in 
India and in Jamaica, King Edward need not blush for the 
comparison. The man who pardoned his enemies over and 
over again, who checked the cruelties of his own son, who, 
in the suppression of three rebellions, put no man to death 
who had not added murder to treason, who, save in one case 
of a stormed town, everywhere carried on war with unparal- 
leled clemency, would hardly have worshipped at the shrine 
of a Hodson or joined in the festive reception of an Eyre. 

One woid more. I do not regret that Scotland won her 
independence. I cannot regret the formation of a nation, a 
nation essentially of English blood and speech, a nation 
which soon developed many noble qualities, and showed itself 


fully worthy of the independence which it won. On the 
field of Bannockburn I can almost bring myself to sympathize 
with the great and wise King of Scots against the foolish 
and cowardly heir of the greatest of later Englishmen. But 
these things do not touch the character of the great Edward. 
The real honour of Scotland in no way requires the per- 
version of historical truth, or the depreciation of a King 
whose object was to unite our island as we see it united now. 
The vassalage of Scotland to England ought by this time to 
be looked on as calmly as the vassalage of Northumberland 
and Mercia to Wessex. An Englishman bom north of the 
Tweed should deem himself as little bound to malign Edward 
as an Englishman born north of the Thames deems himself 
bound to malign Ecgberht. Or, if a southern victim must 
be had, let Scottish indignation spend itself on brutal devas- 
tators of Scotland like Henry the Eighth and Protector 
Somerset, not on the noble prince of whom the contemporary 
poet so truly sang : — 

" Totus Christo traditur Eex noster Edwardus ; 
A T elox est ad veniam, ad vindictam tardus." 

I have now merely sketched out my line of argument both 
as to the general constitutional question, and as to the per- 
sonal character of the great Edward. I trust some day or 
other to work out the whole matter more fully, as fully as 
I have worked out the two or three points on which I have 
entered into direct controversy with Mr. Kobertson. In the 
meanwhile, I would recommend to all who are interested in 
the matter a careful study of the original chronicles and 
documents, and a comparison of these with the later 
romances which have supplanted them. As a guide in such 
a task, I will not venture to recommend a book for which I 
must nevertheless confess a certain liking, the anonymous 
volume called "The Greatest of the Plantagenets." The 
book has much in it that is good and useful ; but it is too 
much of a mere panegyric; the writer throughout holds, 
what I certainly do not hold, that the honour of Edward 


requires the sacrifice of every one who, either in England or 
Scotland, in any way withstood him. I will rather choose 
my expositor in the ranks of the enemy. I will send 
students of the original authorities to a really learned and 
candid Scottish historian as their harmonist, In Mr. Burton's 
lately published History of Scotland the matter is treated in 
a way which does honour to the writer. Mr. Burton has not 
wholly triumphed over national prejudices, though in many 
passages he does justice to Edward on particular points in a 
way in which I suspect that no Scottish writer has forestalled 
him. In many cases the inferences which I draw from the 
facts are very different from those which Mr. Burton draws. 
But his facts and my facts are the same throughout, Mr. 
Burton's learning hinders him from neglecting any fact ; his 
candour hinders him from concealing or misrepresenting any 
fact. How far such a book may be acceptable to the less 
informed and more deeply prejudiced classes of Mr. Burton's 
own countrymen, I do not profess to know. I hail it as a 
great step towards the fair examination of a great historical 
question, which should now be looked on purely as an his- 
torical question, not as involving the honour of either of two 
portions of one happily united realm. 

( 79 ) 



Vita S. Thomse Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi et Martyris. 
Epistolse Saudi Thomse Cantuariensis et aliorum. Gilberti 
Episcopi Londoniensis Epistolse. Herberti de Boseham 
Opera quae extant omnia. Edidit J. A. Giles, LL.D. 
8 volumes. Oxford, 1845. 

Joannis Sarisburiensis Opera omnia. Collegit J. A. Giles, 
J.C.D. 5 volumes. Oxford, 1848. 

The History of Latin Christianity. By Henry Hart Mil- 
man, D.D. Vol. III. Loudon, 1854. 

The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop 
of Canterbury and Legate of the Holy See. By John 
Morris, Canon of Northampton. London, 1859. 

Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. A Biography. By James 
Craigie Robertson, M.A., Canon of Canterbury. London, 

A full catalogue of the materials for the history of the 
wonderful man whose name heads this Article, a complete 
list of all the books, old and new, of which he has been the 
subject, would take up a space rather suited for an article 
itself than for the mere heading of one. We have selected 
a few only of the most recent and important. We have 
original materials of every sort, — chronicles, biographies, 
private letters, state-papers ; we have the panegyrics of 
friends, the invectives of enemies, the correspondence of the 

* [As this article gave rise to some controversy at the time, I reprint it 
exactly as it originally appeared.] 


man himself. And as his own age was divided in its opinion 
of him, ours seems to be divided no less. He has still ene- 
mies who pursue him with the fierceness of a Gilbert Foliot, 
and idolators who worship him with the devotion of a Herbert 
of Bosham. There is hardly any man of past times for esti- 
mating whose life and character we have such ample means. 
Every action of his own, every action of others with regard 
to him, has been chronicled and commented on by men who 
were both eyewitnesses and actors. And there are few men 
about the main features of whose history there is so little 
doubt. Here and there, among the multitude of witnesses, 
we find unimportant contradictions ; here and there we may 
have our doubts as to the accuracy of a date or the genuine- 
ness of a letter ; but the main events of his life, from his 
birth in London to his murder at Canterbury, are known to 
us as clearly and vividly as the transactions of our own time. 
Our materials are not confined either to the land of his birth 
or to the land of his exile. The vast Thomaic correspondence 
speads over the whole Latin world. The terms of peace 
between a King of England and an Archbishop of Canter- 
bury fluctuated according to the triumphs and the failures 
of a German Emperor in Italy. Our materials, in short, are 
infinite ; indeed, until somebody shall kindly put them in 
order for us, they are overwhelming. We know, or by the 
help of a decent editor we might know, all about everybody 
and everything. As to mere matters of fact, the points of con- 
troversy, for so vast a field, are exceedingly few. The pecu- 
liarity of the history is, that, with the same facts before them, 
no two people seem to be content to draw the same inferences. 
The cause of all this diversity and controversy — a diversity 
and controversy most fatal to historic truth — is to be traced 
to the unhappy mistake of looking at the men of the twelfth 
century with the eyes of the nineteenth ; and still worse, of 
hoping to extracl something from the events of the twelfth 
century to do service in the controversies of the nineteenth. 
Thomas of Canterbury has become surrounded by a mist of 
theological and quasi-theologieal disputation ; it is impossible 


even to name him without raising a storm of controversy. 
For how is the man to be spoken of? " Thomas a Becket," 
on the one hand, and " Saint Thomas of Canterbury " both 
have their dangers, while every intermediate form expresses 
some intermediate shade of estimation. " Becket" is perhaps 
neutral ; " Archbishop Becket " carries with it a degree of 
reverence for the office, if not for the man. And again, it 
is doubtful whether his own age even called him Thomas 
Becket, much less Thomas a Becket, or Becket alone.* King 
Henry the Eighth's proclamation has converted his historical 
title of " Saint Thomas of Canterbury " into a badge of party. 
Otherwise we might probably have called him Saint Thomas 
with no more offence than is incurred by speaking historically 
of Saint Dominic or Saint Dunstan. By way of being safe, 
we mean to call him, as his contemporaries called him, 
Thomas, which we hope will not commit us to anything 
either way. Thomas of London, Thomas of Canterbury, 
Thomas the Archdeacon, the Chancellor, the Archbishop, 
and finally the Martyr, are the only descriptions by which 
he was commonly known in his own day. 

But when we have settled his name, we come to the more 
important question of his character. Was he a good or a bad 
man? Is he worthy of honour or of dishonour? To two 
classes of inquirers no question can be more easy to settle. 
It is a very simple business to rule either that an Archbishop 
must be right who opposes a King, or that a King must be 
right who opposes an Archbishop. But at the tribunal of 

* His father was undoubtedly called Gilbert Becket ; but in the twelfth 
century surnames were very fluctuating, and a son, especially if a church- 
man, did not at all necessarily bear his father's name. The most natural 
way of calling him would be Thomas of london, just like John of Oxford 
and Herbert of Bosham, and we find him actually so called by Gervase 
(col. 1377). We find the Archbishop himself only once called " Thomas 
Becket," namely, by the knights at his death, according to Edward Grim 
(ap. Giles, i. 75), where it may be very likely an unusual expression of 
contempt. This remark, as far as we know, has been made by no English 
writer; but we find from M. Buss's work (p. 150) that Gorman industry 
has forestalled us : M. Buss has found one more instance of the use of the 
name " Becket,'' which (perhaps through Dr. Giles's fault) we cannot verify. 



historical criticism no such sweeping general principles are 
admitted. Nor does it at all decide the question to say 
which side we should take if the same controversy were to 
arise now. What would be very unreasonable and inexpedient 
now may have been exactly the opposite seven hundred years 
back. If we wish fairly to judge of the right and the wrong 
between Henry and Thomas, we must first of all shut our 
eyes to all modern controversies whatever. We must not 
carry into that region any modern theories about Church and 
State, about Catholicism and Protestantism. We must not 
think whether the events of those times can be made to help 
High Church, Low Church, or Broad Church. Even whether 
we are right or wrong in having no spiritual dealings with the 
Bishop of Rome, is a question which has just nothing to do 
with the matter. Yet it has been with at least a side-glance 
to questions of this sort that the history of Henry and 
Thomas has been for the most part recently written. If we 
want to read or write it as it should be read or written, we 
must forget everything of the kind. We have before us two 
of the foremost men of the twelfth century ; it is only by 
the customs, the principles, the light and knowledge, of the 
twelfth century that we can ever fairly judge them. 

Cautions of this kind are more necessary with regard to 
the dispute between Henry and Thomas than with regard to 
almost any other portion of history. With regard to many 
other controversies of past times, it is almost impossible to 
avoid looking at them with the eyes of our own day. In many 
cases, within proper limits, it is even right that we should 
do so. The controversies of remote ages and countries may 
be closely analogous to controversies of our own day. The 
controversies of our own country in past times may be but 
the beginning of controversies still going on among our- 
selves. In such cases the side taken in present politics will 
id ways decide the general estimate of past politics. We 
only ask for the men and measures of the past, what we 
should ask for the men and measures of the present, that 
opposition and criticism be fair and honest, that particular 


men and particular actions be not misrepresented, and that 
it be never forgotten that, both then and now, wise and good 
men may be foimd on both sides. But the twelfth century 
stands in a peculiar position. It was a highly important 
period, fruitful in great men and great events ; but its work 
was a silent one, and its controversies have, less than those 
of most ages, either before or after, any direct bearing upon 
present affairs. The events of the age which came before, 
and those of the age which followed it, speak at once to our 
hearts. The spectacle of a nation, and that the English 
nation, overcome by foreign enemies, made bondmen and 
strangers in their own land, is one which requires no expla- 
nation. The struggle of Englishman and Norman is one 
which awakens sympathies common to all time and places : 

elt olwvos apt<rros, afivveadat rrepl TraTprjs, 

is a sentiment which speaks equally to the heart, whether it 
be put into the mouth of Hector, of Here ward, or of Garibaldi. 
The thirteenth century, again, has for every Englishman an 
interest of another kind. We have now entered on the 
England of our own time; the great struggle has begun 
which still continues ; we have begun to walk among that 
goodly company of statesmen, heroes, and patriots which 
leads us from Langton and Grosseteste and Winchelsea, from 
Fitzwalter and De Montfort and Roger Bigod, on to the 
Peel, the Russell, and the Gladstone of our own day. Com- 
pared with the eleventh century and with the thirteenth, the 
age of Henry and Thomas seems like something with which 
we have nothing to do, and which we can hardly understand. 
The political position of England was like nothing before it 
or after it. In the eleventh century and in the thirteenth, 
there was an English King and an English people ; but in 
the twelfth such objects are hardly discernible. There is, 
indeed, a King of England, the mightiest and richest prince 
of Europe ; but he is a mere foreigner, a Frenchman living in 
France, devoting his energies to French objects, and holding 
England almost as a province of Anjou. And as with the 
position of the Island, so with its internal controversies. 

G 2 


We imagine that no Roman Catholic or High Churchman 
would claim for the clergy a freedom from secular jurisdiction 
in criminal cases, or would think the exclusive right of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury to crown the King of England a 
matter for which it was worth while to resist even unto death. 
In the twelfth century the case was much less clear. Thomas 
and Henry, in short, were two very remarkable men in a very 
remarkable age, who engaged in a controversy about which 
there could not be two opinions now, but about which opposite 
sides were then taken by the best and wisest men of the age. 
If a man will study the materials before him fully and fairly, 
he will probably rise up with very considerable respect for 
both disputants on the whole, mingled with strong con- 
demnation of particular actions of both. Thomas often dis- 
graced a good cause by violence and obstinacy ; Henry 
disgraced a cause equally good by mean cruelty and petty 
personal persecution, and sometimes, which Thomas never 
did, he allowed momentary passion to hurry him into prac- 
tically giving up his cause altogether. 

On the modern writers on the subject we do not intend to 
enlarge at length. Though the history has been touched on 
incidentally by some very distinguished men, it has never 
been made the subject of any separate work of first-rate merit. 
We will therefore touch briefly on the most important modern 
writers on the subject, and then proceed to give our own esti- 
mate of Thomas himself and his contemporary biographers. 

Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Berington were probably the first, 
among the modern " amici " and " inimici Thomse,"* who 
could give any reason for their friendship or enmity. Their 
histories of Henry the Second were both of them highly 
creditable to their authors at a time when historical learning 
was at its lowest ebb. In an age of second-hand knowledge 
they had really read the contemporary writers. Each main- 
tains his own position well, and eacli may be still turned to 
with profit, ev<n after the accumulation of so much recent 

* Among the Letters is one (Giles, iv. 256) headed " Alexandre) Papseet 
omnibus Cardinalibus Tnimici Thomce Cantuariensia Archiepiscopi." 


literature on the subject. Mr. Berington, we may add, though 
an apologist of Thomas, is by no means a blind admirer ; he 
is not a Herbert of Bosham, but claims the higher character 
of a John of Salisbury. 

Among more general historians, in whose pages Thomas 
and Henry necessarily play a considerable part, Dr. Lingard 
at once occurs as a Roman Catholic writer of much the same 
school as Mr. Berington. Both of them have the wisdom to 
write, not as Roman Catholics, but as ordinary men ; they at 
all events affect impartiality, and of course are much more 
likely to influence Protestant judgements than if they checked 
them at the beginning by any ostentatious display of their 
peculiar dogmas. On the other hand, Southey's agreeable, 
but very superficial, Book of the Church contains one of 
the very best of what we may call the incidental biographies 
of Thomas. It is full, vivid, and sympathizing. It is clear 
that the heroic grandeur of the Catholic saint appealed irre- 
sistibly to the heart of the poet, even while invested with the 
character of a Protestant controversialist. 

Thomas also figures very prominently in Thierry's well- 
known History of the Norman Conquest, where he is pressed 
into the service of that writer's peculiar theories. He is made 
to figure as an English patriot contending against Norman 
oppressors. Of this utterly untenable notion, and of the small 
nucleus of truth around which M. Thierry has gathered a mass 
of very attractive romance, we shall have again to speak. 

The more recent literature on the subject begins with the 
Remains of the late Mr. R. II. Froude. Strangely enough, 
the first recent apologist of St. Thomas of Canterbury was 
brother of the apologist of King Henry the Eighth. The 
elder Froude, one of the original leaders of the Oxford Tract 
movement, was a man of ability and independent thought, 
but, as one might expect, he approached the subject from a 
wholly false point of view. His case was one of the most 
conspicuous of misconceiving history, in consequence of seeing 
it through an atmosphere of modern controversy. The sub- 
ject attracted him from some fancied analogies between the 


position of the Church in the twelfth century and the nine- 
teenth. The career of Thomas occupies the whole of the 
third volume of Mr. Froude's Bemains, but a large portion 
of the narrative part is from another hand, no less an one, 
we believe, than Dr. Newman's. Mr. Froude's own labours 
were chiefly given to translating and partially arrangiug the 
Epistles, a task before which any amount of energy might 
excusably have broken down. 

After Mr. Froude came Dr. Giles. We suppose we must 
allow the praises of zeal and research to a man who has 
edited, translated, and written more books than any other 
living English scholar. But really we can give him no other 
praise. The Epistles, as edited in his Sandus Tliomas 
Cantuariensis, are, as most later writers have complained, a 
heap of confusion, made far worse confounded by Dr. Giles 
himself. The principle of arrangement is an elaborate puzzle 
which renders it almost hopeless to find any particular letter ; 
the indexes are very meagre, and the mere editing is exceed- 
ingly bad.* 

Dr. Giles has indeed also given us the Life and Letters 
in two volumes of English, in which there is an attempt to 
arrange some of the letters in the order of time. But scholars 
do not want a translation — and a very bad translation too — 
of some of the letters, but an intelligible edition of the ori- 
ginal text of all. Dr. Giles's attempt at original biography 
amounts to little more than a filling-up of interstices, and is 
moreover as poor and superficial as may be. Nearly every- 
thing that is good in it is copied from Mr. Froude. 

The life and death of Thomas have also been taken up by 
two writers of a widely different stamp from either Mr. Froude 
or Dr. Giles. Professor Stanley, in his Historical Memorials 
of Canterbury, has given us a harmonized narrative of the 

* We thoroughly agree with Mr. Robertson's wish, that a really good 
edition of the whole literature on the subject should form part of the 
Beries now publishing by authority of the Blaster of tbe Rolls. [Eleven 
years have p and we Beem no nearer to getting this cruel want 



martyrdom, written with such minuteness, life, and truth, 
that we deeply regret that it extends to the martyrdom alone, 
and does not take in the whole history. No less admirable 
is his treatment of what we may call the posthumous history 
of Thomas in the chapter on the Shrine of Becket. The 
Thomaic controversy, again, occupies a large portion of the 
third volume of Dean Milman's Latin Christianity. With 
some drawbacks, this is the best English life of Thomas we 
know, though the narrative perhaps suffers a little from over- 
compression ;' and though we think that the dean passes on 
the whole too harsh a judgement on Thomas, it is only fair to 
add that he sometimes bears rather hard upon Henry also. 
Still his narrative, allowing for some of those little slips in 
names and details into which it is strange to find so really 
learned a man as Dr. Milman so constantly falling, is the 
very best history of Thomas we know, far better, considering 
its scale, than the more special ones which we have now to 

The year 1859 produced two rival biographies of our hero ; 
the works of the Roman Catholic Canon of Northampton, 
and of the Protestant Canon of Canterbury. On these we 
might be tempted to dilate at some length, as the contrast 
between them is very curious and amusing. Each of the 
rival canons has read his books well and accurately ; each 
brings local inspiration to the task ; each does his best, such 
as it is, to be fair ; but each is disqualified by invincible pre- 
judices, and the work of each alike labours under incurable 
objections in point of form. Canon Morris writes in a spirit 
of ^discriminating admiration ; Canon Robertson writes in a 
spirit of carping and fault-finding, with which we have still 
less sympathy. Canon Morris might have written a purely 
devotional life of Saint Thomas of Canterbury for members of 
his own communion, and no fair person would have objected ; 
or he might have written a historical life in the same spirit 
of prudence as Mr. Berington and Dr. Lingard ; but he has 
confounded the two ideas together, and has produced some- 
thing far too historical for purely devotional use, while, as a 


history, it is sure to offend every Protestant reader. Canon 
Robertson has worked up into a book two old articles from 
the defunct English Eeview, written, it would seem, against 
Mr. Froude and Dr. Giles. The book retains far too palpable 
traces of its origin in its somewhat poor and heavy attempts 
at wit, in its constant sarcasms on the writers reviewed, and 
its occasional allusions to things quite unintelligible to those 
who have not all the numbers of the English Eeview by 
heart. Nothing for instance, can be truer, but nothing can 
be more out of place, than the elaborate criticism on Dr. 
Giles's editing which is thrust into the middle of the bio- 
graphy. For the matter of the book, it is what might be 
expected from a man who understands his subject without 
loving it, and whose chief object is to upset Mr. Froude. 
The narrative is accurate ; the references are highly valuable. 
The author does his best to be fair, and rejects all the more 
vulgar calumnies against his victim ; — for, unlike most biogra- 
phies, this of Mr. Robertson has no hero. But Mr. Robertson 
sees everything through the coloured glass of the English 
Review. He is utterly incapable of entering into the posi- 
tion of either a King or an Archbishop of the twelfth cen- 
tury. Above all, Thomas of Canterbury, whether saint or 
not, was emphatically a hero, and a hero is just the sort of 
person whom Canon Robertson cannot possibly understand. 

Of the foreign writers on the subject, we must confess with 
shame that we know less than we ought. Reuter's History 
of Alexander the Third is frequently quoted by Dean Mil- 
man and Mr. Robertson ; and, as it seems to be highly favour- 
able to that Pontiff, we suppose we ought in fairness to have 
mastered it, for certainly our own study of the Thomaic 
correspondence does not lead us to a conclusion at all like 
what we take M. Reuter's to be. M. Ozanam's DeuxChance- 
liers d'Angleterre (Paris, 1836), and M. Buss's Der HeiJige 
Thomas unci sein Kampf fur die Freiheit der Kirche (Mainz, 
185G), we only heard of through M r. Robertson's references. 
]\I. Ozanam's book we have not soon; M. Buss's has reached 
us since we began to write this article, and we have had 


time only to glance at it. It is easy to see that M. Buss is a 
strong Catholic and partizan of Thomas, but we do not see 
any thing of the offensive ostentation of Catholicism of which 
we complain in Mr. Morris. His research and labour are 
unwearied, and, as far as we have seen, his work seems to be 
the best suited of all to serve as a guide to the original 
writers. But there are some tasks before which even German 
industry breaks down, or at least which it cannot go through 
without complaining. M. Buss complains, not indeed with 
the sarcastic rhetoric of Mr. Robertson, but with a simple 
pathos which is quite as effective, of the superhuman diffi- 
culty of finding any thing he wants in a book edited by 
Dr. Giles. 

We will now turn from modern writers on the subject to 
the original authorities for the Life of Thomas. These are 
of three kinds, — the biographers, the contemporary chro- 
niclers, and the correspondence of Thomas, Gilbert, and the 
rest. All our authorities are in Latin, except a single very 
important biography in French verse. English records we 
unluckily have none. The Saxon Chronicle breaks off at the 
accession of Henry the Second. What would, one not have 
given to have seen this stirring period described, with the 
same life as the days of the Conqueror and of Stephen, by a 
real native Englishman, in the old Teutonic mother-tongue ? 

The French Life of Gamier of Pont Sainte Maxence must 
be the earliest of all, as the author tells us it was written 
between 1172 and 1174, being completed within four years 
after the martyrdom. The author had himself seen the saint 
in the flesh, but before he assumed his saintly character : 

" En Gascuiugne fu-il lung tens pur guerreier. 
As Gascuns i kovint de lur chasteus lesser. 
En Nortuendie r'out sun seinur grant mester, 
Etj'o Vvi sor Franceis plusur feiz chevaucher."* 

He visited Canterbury, and also conversed with Thomas's 
sister, Mary, Abbess of Barking, so that he had good sources 
of knowledge ; and he tells us that, in the course of writing 

* Gamier, p. 1 1, ed. Eippeau. 


his book, he often altered what lie had written, as he obtained 
better information. Besides direct narrative, the book con- 
tains many digressions or versified sermons ; he has also taken 
the trouble to translate several of the more important letters 
into his French verse, and a very odd effect they have in 
their new shape. This biography is very important from its 
early date, and to the philologer it is highly valuable as a 
specimen of the French language in the twelfth century. 

Of the Latin Lives the most important are those of Edward 
Grim, Roger of Pontigny, William Fitz-Stephen, Alan of 
Tewkesbury, and Herbert of Bosham, together with the 
short Life by John of Salisbury prefixed to that of Alan. 
All these writers Avere contemporary, and were intimate with 
the Archbishop at some portion or other of his career. Each 
therefore tells part at least of his story from his own personal 
knowledge. Each, to a great extent, fills up the deficiencies 
of the others. Thus Edward Grim only entered the service 
of Thomas a few days before his death ; his earlier narrative 
is therfore written from hearsay ; but, in his new-born zeal 
for his master, he gives a full and vivid account of his martyr- 
dom : of that martyrdom indeed he was more than a spectator ; 
he was actually a fellow-sufferer, having his arm broken in 
a vain attempt to defend the Archbishop. Eoger was the 
attendant of Thomas during his sojourn at Pontigny. We 
might have exj3ected him to be very full on that part of his 
history ; but, writing doubtless mainly for the monks of 
Pontigny, he says that he will not enlarge upon what every 
one knows, and cuts that part very short. He therefore 
writes mainly from hearsay, but it is from the hearsay of 
Thomas himself ; so that we may look upon Roger's work as 
being more nearly an autobiography than any of the others. 
William Fitz-Stephen seems to have been attached to Thomas 
earlier than any of the rest. He was his clerk when Chan- 
cellor, and consequently gives us many details of that time 
of his life which are not to be found elsewhere. He did not 
follow the Archbishop into exile, though he had one interview 
with him in the course of a journey through France; buthe 


was present at the martyrdom. Hence he can tell us little 
from his own knowledge of his master's doings in banish- 
ment, but he supplies many valuable particulars of what was 
going on in England meanwhile. Herbert of Bosham, on the 
other hand, followed Thomas through his whole career both 
in England and France, but he was not present at the martyr- 
dom, and he seems to have known very little of his early life. 
He is therefore the fullest of all in his biography of the 
Archbishop, but tells us very little of the Chancellor. 
Alan, and the fragmentary Life by William of Canterbury in 
Dr. Giles's second volume, also contain occasional particulars 
not to be found elsewhere. 

The comparison of these biographies with one another is 
exceedingly curious and interesting. We fully agree with 
Mr. Robertson that they need to be more closely analysed 
and compared than they have ever yet been, " with a view of 
ascertaining their correspondences and divergences, and the 
sources from which each writer derived his materials." Mr. 
Robertson goes on to say, rather darkly, " Perhaps the result 
of such an inquiry might be found to throw some light on 
questions connected with a Hiatoria Quadrij)artita far more 
important than that which is devoted to the Life of Thomas 
of Canterbury." This we take to be Canon Robertson's 
roundabout way of describing the Four Gospels. The hint 
is an excellent one, especially as coming from so orthodox 
a source, though it is very likely that some inquirers might 
push it to results at which Mr. Robertson might be rather 
alarmed. The general character of the narratives is that of 
close agreement in the main story, combined with constant 
contradiction in minute particulars. This is just what might 
be expected from narratives written from memory some 
years after the event. Herbert, for instance, did not write 
till fourteen years after the martyrdom. He speaks rather 
pathetically of himself as the last survivor of the whole band 
of faithful disciples.* On the other hand, there is not un- 
commonly a minute, sometimes even a verbal, agreement 

* Giles, vii. 335. 


between two or more narrators, as if they had copied from 
one another, or from some common source. Take, for 
instance, one grand scene in Thomas's life, his " fighting 
with beasts" at Northampton. Two at least of our autho- 
rities, Herbert and William Fitz-Stephen, were there. Yet 
if a man were to try to force even their narratives into exact 
conformity, as commentators do with Mr. Robertson's other 
Historia Quadripartita, he would utterly break down in the 
attempt. Comparing all the narratives, there is a good deal 
of difference in the order of events, and even as to the mouth 
into which particular speeches are put. But in the whole 
history we only remember one contradiction of any real 
moment. William Fitz-Stephen says that Thomas did affix 
his seal to the Constitutions of Clarendon, which is stated by 
no one else, and which the rest implicitly deny. Here we 
confess is a difficulty. William was something of a lawyer, 
and seems always careful about legal technicalities, so his 
testimony is especially valuable. But it has to be set against 
a consensus of the other writers and the general tenour of the 
story. Whether Thomas did or did not seal the Constitu- 
tion.- is of real importance to the history, and it is strange 
that any of his followers should be careless or misinformed 
about it ; but the slighter diversities which elsewhere lie thick 
upon the narrative are just what always happen to several 
una— isted human narrators telling the same story. No 
reader of the Life of Thomas is likely to be troubled at dis- 
crepancies of this sort; but exactly similar ones in the other 
Historia QuadWipartita have given no small trouble to tender 
consciences. Each biographer of Thomas, like each of the 
Evangelists, has a character of his own. Edward Grim has 
the greatest tendency to the marvellous; Roger,as a French- 
man, i- far more bitter against Henry than any of the rest, 
and he makes ju.-t those little mistakes about English matters 
which a Frenchman would make in any age. William Fitz- 
Stephen i- lively ami amusing; He, Lit is given to sermoniz- 
ing ami twaddling, and to [jutting long speeches, not only 
into hi- own mouth (which is his own affair), but into the 


mouths of Thomas and others, which we trust and believe are 
Master Herbert's own composition. But even this is no more 
than every historian gave himself the license of doing till 
very recent times. Herbert is moreover the Boanerges of our 
story. He seems to have been the double of Thomas in mind 
and body, and probably did Thomas very little good by his 
constant company. As if the Primate were not of himself 
daring and unyielding enough in all conscience, Herbert was 
always stirring him up to the strongest measures. Like 
Thomas, he did not fear the face of man, and spoke as boldly 
to King Henry on his throne as to his own master in his 
chamber. Like Thomas too he was tall of stature and goodly 
of countenance ; and like Thomas in his unregenerate state, 
he did not object to set off his bodily perfections to the best 
advantage.* These two faithful followers appear in their 
several characters in that most striking scene at North- 
ampton.f Thomas sits with his cross in his hand, defying 
the King of earth in the name of the King of Heaven. 
Herbert, the true Boanerges, would fain have him excom- 
municate every man present on the spot. William counsels 
meekness and patience. Forbidden to speak to his master, 
he points in silence to the figure of the crucified Saviour. 
Even the cold heart of Mr. Robertson forbears to sneer at 
this most touching incident. 

Besides these biographies by writers whose names and 
actions we know, there is a very remarkable one printed in 
Dr. Giles's second volume, from an anonymous manuscript in 
the Library at Lambeth Palace. The author affirms that 
he was present at the martyrdom ; still his contemporary 
character is doubted by some modern writers. If it were 
fully ascertained, the work would be most valuable ; for, 
though it does not contain many new facts, it is written in a 
tone of unusually independent criticism, and has fewer co- 
incidences with other Lives than any one in the series. It 
states the case for Henry and against Thomas with great 
fullness and fairness, and enters into arguments at some 
* William Fitz-Stephen, Giles, i. 2G5. t lb. i. 226. 


length against those who denied the Archbishop's claims to 
the title of martyr. 

As for contemporary chroniclers, who wrote, not special 
Lives of Saint Thomas, but general annals of their own times, 
several of the best of the class have recorded the reign of 
Henry the Second. These of course are highly valuable, as 
giving us the view of affairs taken by those who were not 
Thomas's immediate followers, and also as helping us to the 
more exact chronology of the period. The biographers are 
commonly rather careless as to the order of time. Each, as 
we have seen, recorded what struck him most or what he 
best knew ; one set down one event and another another ; 
and none of them paid much regard to the order of details. 
The chroniclers step in to correct their errors and supply 
their deficiencies. Ralph de Diceto, Dean of St. Paul's, a 
moderate partisan of the King's, supplies in his Imagines 
Hisboriarwm several important facts not in the biographies, 
together with the chronological arrangement of all. Gervase 
and Roger of Hoveden were also contemporaries; but they 
wire younger men, who wrote after the biographers, whom 
they continually copy. But it is always curious to see which 
Life they follow for any particular fact, and they also often 
add touches and details of their own. Gervase especially, as 
a Canterbury monk admitted by Thomas himself, had good 
means of information. William of Newburgh is chiefly 
remarkable for the manly and independent tone with which 
he treats the whole controversy, doing full justice to the 
originally honest motives of both the King and the Primate, 
but not scrupling to deal severe censure on particular actions 
of both. 

The Letters of course are invaluable ; at least they will 
be when any one shall be found to edit them decently. For 
the whole of Thomas's sojourn in France, they, much more 
than the biographers, are really the history. Many of the 
Letters are strictly public documents, and many others, 
though private in form, were meant at least for the eyes of 
all the writer's own party. Mr. Robertson thinks the corre- 


spondence does not give a favourable idea of the time, and 
that it is on the whole discreditable to the mediaeval church. 
That the letters are full of strong language is no more than 
was to be expected ; but we do not know that Saint Thomas 
and his contemporaries use any stronger language than those 
worthies of the sixteenth century whom doubtless Mr. 
Robertson, as a sound Protestant, duly reverences. If 
Thomas is rather fond of calling Geoffrey Riddell Archidia- 
bolus instead of Archidiaconus, was it not the established 
joke of the Reformation to call a Bishop a Bitesheep, and to 
turn Cardinal Poole into Carnal Fool? In short, in ages 
when decorum was not very stringent, all men who have 
been in earnest, from the Prophets and Apostles downwards, 
have used very strong language upon occasion. But Mr. 
Robertson's taste is so delicate that he is actually offended 
by Thomas's hearty, honest, and thoroughly English denun- 
ciations of the iniquities of the Roman Court. These we 
suspect, in anybody but Saint Thomas of Canterbury, he 
would have hailed as an instance of Protestantism before its 
time. But he has weightier accusations still against the 
unfortunate Letters. They are he thinks full of "cant," 
and of " strange tossing to and fro of Scripture, perverted by 
allegory and misapplication."* In a certain sense this is 
true ; but talk of this sort always reminds us very strongly 
of the doctrine taught us by Mr. Grote, that all religions 
seem absurd to those who do not believe them. Most un- 
doubtedly a calm and critical reader of those Hebrew and 
Greek writings which we call Scripture will find constant 
" misapplications " and strange " tossings to and fro " in the 
writings of Thomas, his friends, and his enemies. But he 
will find misapplications and tossings equally strange in any 
sermon, any religious tract, any religious biography, of our 
own times. In their belief, as in that of the Protestant 
enthusiasts of the seventeenth century, every word of the 
Old and New Testament was written for the direct example 
and instruction of every man of every age. Believing this, 

* P. 173. 


they did not shrink from carrying it out in detail. If God 
spake unto Moses, why should He not speak also to Anselm 
or Bernard ? If He bade Joshua lead his people against the 
Canaanite, did He not also bid Peter the Hermit to preach 
the crusade against the Saracen ? If the destroying angel 
smote the host of Sennacherib before Jerusalem, was the arm 
of the Lord to be shortened when the schismatic Frederick 
threw up his banks and shot his arrows agaiust the tomb and 
Temple of the Prince of the Apostles ? The faith of those 
times was at least a real, living, practical, faith ; professing 
to believe certain books as their rule of faith and their per- 
sonal guide of life, they did believe them as such. Con- 
sistently, at all events, they shrank from no " misapplication," 
no " strange tossing to and fro," of what they held to be 
real lively oracles, speaking direct comfort and counsel in 
every circumstance of the life of every man. 

We however fully agree with Mr. Robertson in placing 
the letters of John of Salisbury far higher than any others in 
the collection. John was a thoroughly good and pious man, 
and withal learned, thoughtful, moderate, and prudent. A 
firm friend and faithful follower of Thomas, he rebukes him, 
whenever he thinks him in the wrong, with apostolic bold- 
ness; down to the very day of his death,* he withstands him 
to the face as often as he is to be blamed. We have no 
hesitation in setting down John as a wiser and better man 
than Thomas himself. But does not Mr. Robertson see that 
it speaks very much in Thomas's favour to have attracted 
and retained the devoted attachment of such a man? A 
really candid writer would have pointed out that if John's 
bold and faithful rebukes tell greatly to his honour, they 
tell almost equally to the honour of Thomas, who invariably 
toot them in good part. 

In a similar spirit elsewhere Mr. Robertson exhibits an 
amount of delight and triumph altogether childish, in point- 
ing nut the error of " certain writers" who had not put the 
events connected with the excommunication at Vezelay and 
* Rog. Pont. ap. Giles, i. L64 ; Ben. Petr., ibid. ii. G2. 


the removal from Pontignv in their right order. The 
" certain writers " seem to be Dr. Lingard, and perhaps Dr. 
(Jiles and Mr. Froude. We are not greatly concerned for 
them ; but when Mr. Robertson ventures to say * that the 
original biographers " wished to falsify the history," that is 
quite another matter. The case is this. In 1166 Thomas 
went from Pontigny to Vezelay, and there, in discharge of 
legatine powers with which he had been lately invested by 
the Pope, he excommunicated, with especial solemnity, 
several of the King's friends, both clerical and lay, for 
various offences, and uttered a solemn warning against Henry 
himself. Him also he had intended to excommunicate, but 
forebore doing so on hearing that he was dangerously ill. 
On hearing of this proceeding, Henry, by violent threats 
against the whole Cistercian order, procured the removal of 
Thomas from the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, where he 
had hitherto been sheltered. The comment of an impartial 
historian would be, that the Archbishop's conduct was violent 
and imprudent, the King's revenge mean and cowardly. 
Unfortunately it happens that not one of the biographers, 
except the anonymous Lambeth writer, describes this scene 
in all its fullness. The complete account of the matter has 
to be made out from the chroniclers and the Letters. That 
most of the biographers do not mention it is really not very 
wonderful. Edward Grim was not there, and his whole 
narrative of this part of Thomas's life is utterly meagre. 
Roger of Pontigny cuts his almost as short, because his 
brethren knew all about it. William Fitz-Stephen was not 
there ; he tells us chiefly what happened in Henry's domi- 
nions. Herbert was there, and records the scene ; he does 
not indeed directly mention the excommunication ; but this 
is clearly because the warning against the King was the 
most striking point, that which he found most vividly im- 
pressed on his mind eighteen years after. For an Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury to suspend a disobedient Bishop, and 
excommunicate a schismatic Dean and a sacrilegious layman 

* P. 103. 



was no very wonderful occurrence. The awful and unex- 
pected part of the proceedings was, when Thomas arose, with 
a voice broken with tears,* to warn the King of England 
that, if he did not repent, excommunication should fall upon 
him as well as upon inferior sinners. That Herbert had no 
intention of concealing the far less important fact of the 
excommunication and suspension appears from his speaking 
directly of them in the very next page.f So equally does 
William Fitz-Stephen,t though without strict regard to 
chronology, he being more intent on the reception of the 
excommunications in England than on their first denuncia- 
tion in Burgundy. In short, if Mr. Robertson enjoys crowing 
over Dr. Lingard, we have not the least wish to interfere 
with his enjoyment ; but he has not the slightest right to 
repeat the note of triumph over any one of Thomas's original 

We must now turn from the ancient and modern bio- 
graphers of Thomas to the estimate which we have ourselves 
formed of Thomas himself. If we can trust ourselves, that 
estimate is not swayed by party considerations of any kind. 
We do not feel ourselves bound to indiscriminate worship 
because of a Papal canonization ; but we do not look on 
such Papal canonization as at all taking away a claim to 
honour when honour is due. And be it remembered that it 
was not only the Roman Chancery, but the spontaneous 
voice of the English nation which raised Thomas to the 
honours of saintship. Through his whole archiepiscopal 
career, alike in England and in France, Thomas was the 
darling of the people. One of his biographers is almost 
content to rest his claims to reverence on the adage, familiar 
then as now, that tin' voice of the people is the voice of 
God.§ When he "fought with beasts" at Northampton, 

* " Confestim, omnibus audientibus el stupentibus, noiro motu com- 
punctus, voce quiderh flebili el intentissimo compassionis affectu in ipsum 
Anglorura Etegem Henricum nominative comminatorium cmisit edictum." 
HeTb.,ap. Giles, vii. 230. 

t Giles, vii. 231. % lb. i. 258. § Lamb., ap. Giles, ii. 13G. 


when his King accused him, when Barons condemned him 
and Bishops deserted him, an admiring multitude followed 
him in triumph from the castle-gate to his lodging at Saint 
Andrew's. When he turned away from the conference at 
Montmirail, when every earthly power seemed to have for- 
saken him, every eye as he passed was fixed in admiration on 
the Primate who " would not deny the honour of God for the 
face of two Kings." His return from banishment, his reception, 
at Sandwich, at Canterbury, and at London, was a nobler 
triumph than ever awaited returning conqueror. The bells, 
the organs, the processions of monks and clergy, might have 
expressed a mere constrained or official homage ; but there 
could have been nothing of such compulsion in the voice 
with which in defiance of hostile nobles and officials, all 
Kent and all London poured forth to bless him who came 
back to them in the name of the Lord, the father of the 
orphans and the judge of the widows.* Such popular rever- 
ence does not prove that the cause which he defended was 
one which the sober voice of history will permanently 
approve. It does not prove that his own character may not 
have been disfigured by many and grievous faults. But it is 
a homage which assuredly was never paid to a mere proud 
and ambitious hypocrite, or to the assertor of a cause 
which was at the time palpably that of unrighteousness or 

Nor must we suppose that the popularity of Thomas in his 
own day was at all the popularity of an assertor of the cause 
of the " Saxon " against the Norman. This is a mere dream, 
to which an unlucky currency has been given by the eloquent 
writing of Thierry. There is no trace in the history of the 
period of any such strongly marked antagonism as Thierry 
supposes still to have existed ; still less is there any trace of 
Thomas of London being its impersonation, if it did exist. 
Thomas, in reality, was himself of Norman descent. His 
family was settled in London at the time of his birth ; but 
his father was originally from Rouen, while his mother seems 

* " Pater .orphanorttm et judex viduarum." Herb., ap. Giles, vii. 315. 

H 2 


actually to have been born at Caen.* It is evident, however, 
that at the time of his birth his family was thoroughly esta- 
blished in England, and that they had the feelings, not of 
strangers, but of Englishmen and Londoners. The truth is, 
that there is not a word about " Saxons and Normans," or 
any controversies between them, in any one contemporary 
biographer, chronicler, or letter-writer. The whole evidence 
seems to us to show that the wide distinction and hostility 
between the two races, supposed by Thierry and his school 
to have remained so late as the reign of Henry the Second, 
is a mere imagination. The probability is that, though the 
upper classes were mainly of Norman, the lower of Old- 
English descent, the distinction had then become one merely 
of class, and not of nation. In the middle class, Thomas's 
own class, the two races must have been much mixed up 
together. Indeed, the Conquest itself must have had the 
highly beneficial effects of at once forming a middle class out 
of the higher ranks of the conquered people. The Norman 
gentleman, born in England, often of an English mother, 
would soon feel himself much more English than Norman. 
The Norman citizen, Gilbert Becket or his father, would do 
so still sooner. In truth, mankind are every where far more 
sensible of birth than of descent, and they identify them- 
selves with the country where they were born, rather than 
with the country of their fathers. We are sometimes led to 
suppose that the feeling of race lasted longer than it did 
because the Kings remained foreign so long. Henry the 
Second was not an Englishman, he was not even a Norman ; 
he was a great French prince, who reigned in France, and 
treated England as a dependency. To his English subjects 
he was the Rex transmarinus,] the King beyond the sea, 
who sometimes visited them, but who commonly dwelt in 
more favoured parts of his dominions. Twice in his reign 
he seems to have wished to confine his own immediate 
government to his French territories, and to convert England 

* Lamb.j ap. Giles, ii. 73. 
f William Fitz-Stephen, ap. Giles, i. 284, 289, 294. 


into the formal state of a viceroyalty. Such, if we may- 
believe the Lambeth biographer,* was actually his object in 
pressing the election of Thomas to the Archbishoprick. 
Henry was to reign in France and Thomas in England. 
And afterwards it was clearly with the same object that he 
procured the coronation of his son as a Bex eismarinus 
during his lifetime. Those whom he, and the Kings before 
and after him, advanced by preference to high office were 
neither " Anglo-Saxons " nor " Anglo-Normans," but absolute 
foreigners, natives of the Continent. This is especially to 
be seen in ecclesiastical promotions. Thomas is always said 
to have been the first Englishman who became Archbishop 
of Canterbury since the Conquest ; it might have been added 
that he was nearly the first Englishman who became Bishop 
of any see. This is perfectly true. He was the first native 
of England, of either race, who rose to the metropolitan 
throne ; while his predecessors, and the greater number of 
the contemporary Bishops, were natives of the Continent. 
It is probably this ambiguous expression of " Englishman " 
which led M. Thierry into the mistake of looking on Thomas 
as an " Anglo-Saxon " patriot. The real phenomenon of the 
age is not the struggle between the two races in England, 
but the fusing together of the two races preparatory to the 
struggle with a royal line foreign to both. This silent, 
gradual fusing of " Saxons and Normans," is recorded by no 
chronicler, just because it was so silent and gradual. But 
we see it plainly enough in its results. It was the great 
work of the twelfth century. It is this work which gives 
that century that peculiar character of which we have already 
spoken. No process could be more important, more neces- 
sary to all that was to come after. But its silent, hidden 
nature is alone enough to give a sort of isolated and unin- 
telligible character to the outward aspect of the age. 

Of this fusion Thomas, the son of Gilbert Becket of London, 
may be taken as the type. Though of Norman blood, his 
whole feeling, his whole character, is English ; and it is clear 
* Ap. Giles, ii. 8G : cf. Gamier (et Freteval), 152. 


that no man in England looked upon him as a stranger. 
His general character in mind and in body, stands vividly 
forth in his own letters and in the descriptions of his bio- 
graphers. The man of majestic presence and of unyielding 
soul at once rises up before us. Saint Thomas of Canterbury 
was indeed a " muscular Christian " with a vengeance. Of 
strength and stature beyond the common lot of men ; with a 
quick ear, a keen eye, a fluent speech, cheerful in discourse 
and ready in debate ; foremost in the mimic warfare of the 
chase and on the actual field of battle,— such was Thomas 
the Chancellor. And scourge and fast and sackcloth did 
but little to change the essential character of Thomas the 
Archbishop. The weapons of his warfare alone are changed. 
Of old he stormed the strongest castles, and unhorsed the 
stoutest knights in single combat. He laughed at the scruples 
of his sovereign which kept him back from assailing his 
liege lord King Lewis within the walls of Toulouse. The 
saint clearly took exactly the same delight in wielding his 
spiritual arms. He writhed under the timid and time- 
serving counsels of Pope and Cardinals, who kept back the 
sword of Peter from the slaughter. And yet this man, so 
ardent and headstrong, must have been, at both times of his 
life, amongst the most amiable and delightful of companions. 
The intense love with which he inspired his immediate 
followers breathes in every page of their writings. It is 
alike in the neophyte Edward Grim, in the fellow-exile 
Herbert, and in his earlier follower William Fitz-Stephen, 
who seems hardly to know which most to admire, the mag- 
nificent Chancellor or the martyred Archbishop. Nor did 
he awaken less attachment among men of other ways and 
callings. All their disputes could never quite efface the old 
friendship from the heart cither of Henry or of Thomas. 
At every personal meeting the unextinguished love breaks 
out again, if only for one brief moment. Henry, there can 
be Little doubt, was kept up to his opposition by men who 
hated Thomas far more than he did. The Bishops, even the 
l». ttei ones, for the most part disliked him from their natural 


repugnance to see a man of his early life and conversation so 
strangely exalted over their heads. Humans like the De 
Brocs were actuated by the motives common to men of their 
stamp in all ages. The higher and better class of the laity, 
men like the Earls of Arundel and Leicester, oppose Thomas 
with deep sorrow, and in every respect exhibit a favourable 
contrast to the Bishops on the King's side. The love and 
the hatred of Thomas were passions of intense depth, and he 
could call out both feelings in others in as great intensity as 
he felt them himself. 

The intellect of Thomas was clearly one ranking very high 
in the second order of genius. He was not a creator. We 
should look in vain to him for anything original or comprehen- 
sive. He could never have left any such impress upon his age 
as did Hildebrand among Popes, or Charles the Great among 
Kings. His great qualities were an ardent and impetuous 
spirit, a practical energy which carried everything before 
him, an admirable versatility which could adapt itself to all 
circumstances and all people, and a lofty sense of duty which 
could support him under any amount of adversity and dis- 
appointment. His faults were chiefly the exaggeration of his 
virtues. His impetuosity often grew into needless and injudi- 
cious violence ; his strong will continually degenerated into 
obstinacy. His biographers praise him for uniting the wisdom 
of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove. We must 
confess that we can see in him very little of either dove or 
serpent ; their other favourite quotation of " the righteous 
man bold as a lion," is very much more to the purpose. His 
enemies have accused him of pride and of duplicity. Doubt- 
less he magnified his office to the extremest point ; his long 
brooding over his wrongs at Sens and Pontigny imbued him 
with a fanatical spirit, and an overdone, almost frantic, long- 
ing for martyrdom. Yet how far the personal exaltation of 
Ihomas of London was still thought of in procuring the 
triumph of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Legate of the 
Holy See, it is not for mortals to presume to judge. The 
charge of duplicity, which we are sorry to see brought on one 


occasion by so weighty a writer as Dean Milman, is, we think, 
without foundation. The faults of Thomas were the natural 
faults of his lofty and impetuous character, the faults of 
obstinacy and violence. But duplicity, conscious bad faith, 
was utterly alien to his nature. Once, possibly twice, in his 
life — certainly at Clarendon, perhaps also at Montmirail — 
he allowed himself to be talked over into conduct which he 
did not thoroughly approve. He repented ; he drew back ; 
in a certain sense he violated his promise ; but he was not 
guilty of any deliberate deception. His conduct may be 
called either vacillating or obstinate, two qualities quite con- 
sistent with one another ; it may be called over-scrupulous ; 
it certainly was provoking and offensive ; but we do not 
think it fairly deserves the name of double-dealing. 

The whole character of Thomas strikes us as essentially 
secular. He was made for the court and the camp, not for 
cathedral or the cloister. His episcopacy and his saintship 
strike us as mistakes. There was not a particle of hypocrisy 
in him ; but the whole of his saintly career was artificial, 
unnatural, and overdone. His misfortune was to be born in 
an age, and in a class, to which the Church alone offered 
means of advancement. His first great advancement was 
indeed secular ; he was a statesman and a soldier, not a 
priest; but, strangely enough, it was only his ecclesiastical 
character which allowed him to become a statesman and 
a soldier. His parentage was respectable, but no more ; he 
was himself in no way ashamed of his descent, but it is clear 
that it was humble enough to be used as a means of disparage- 
ment by his enemies. The son of Gilbert Becket of London 
would, as a mere layman, have had little chance of presiding 
in the King's Chancery or of commanding the King's armies. 
Once tonsured, secular as well as ecclesiastical greatness was 
open to him. As Chancellor he nearly cast off his clerical 
character. Strict men condemned the secular pomp of the 
great courtier and captain who was also Archdrncon of Canter- 
bury and Provost of Beverley. But two things are to be 
remembered: 6rs1 of all, he was not a priest. Loaded with 


preferment which now no deacon could hold, the terror of 
King Lewis and counsellor of King Henry remained eccle- 
siastically in that lowly order. A righting Archdeacon was a 
scandal, though Edward Grim seems to have thought other- 
wise ; but the conduct of Thomas did not present the far 
greater scandal of a priest, one invested with the mysterious 
powers of sacrifice and absolution, casting off his spiritual 
character like Ca?sar Borgia or Talleyrand. In modern esti- 
mation the difference between a priest and a deacon seems 
very slight; but, when once the full sacerdotal ideal is realized, 
it becomes something infinite. Secondly, though Thomas as 
Chancellor led a thoroughly secular life, he did not lead 
either an irreligious or an immoral one. Looked on as a 
layman, he might almost, even then, have passed for a saint. 
That he already bared his back to the discipline does not 
prove very much, as Henry himself now and then did the 
same. But it is no small credit that a man, whose order 
debarred him from marriage, should, in a profligate court, have 
strictly preserved his personal chastity. How far he rebuked 
the King's vices we know not, but he resisted many strong 
temptations to share in them, and he was a severe censor of 
inferior offenders in the same line. At last came the moment 
of the great change. Thomas the Chancellor- Archdeacon is 
converted into Thomas the Archbishop. We have every 
reason to believe that the appointment was against his own 
wishes. He was as great as he could be in the line which 
best suited his powers, and he felt no desire to adventure him- 
self in a line for which he must then at least have felt himself 
less fitted. He warned his master that, once Archbishop, he 
should be sure to lose his favour.* But Henry insisted on 
the appointment, and Thomas was ordained priest, and elected 
and consecrated Primate of all England. 

And now came that great change by which, in the language 
of his biographers, he became another man. Was the 
change miraculous ? Was it hypocritical? Or shall we say 
with Mr. Froude that there was no sudden change at all ? 

* Herb. vii. 26 : cf. Rog. i. 108; Will. Fite-Steph. i. 103; Alan, i. 322. 


To us it seems merely the natural result of change of circum- 
stances in a man of Thomas's character. He was not a man 
to do any thing by halves ; whatever master he served he 
served to the uttermost. As the servant of the King he was 
the most faithful of Chancellors ; as the servant of the Church 
he would be the most faithful of Bishops. One at least of 
his biographers seems to have quite understood * what is 
really no very wonderful phenomenon. Thomas was in all 
things a man of his own age ; we never find him rising above 
it or sinking below it. He accepted without hesitation the 
current notion of a saintly prelate, and endeavoured to carry 
it out in his own person. The ideal ecclesiastic of his times 
was one who united the loftiest hierarchical pretensions with 
the most unbounded liberality and the severest personal 
mortifications. Into this ideal Thomas threw himself with 
characteristic fervour. His perfect sincerity no man can 
doubt who has studied at once human nature and the 
records of the time. But the change, though perfectly 
sincere, was still artificial; his saintship never sat quite 
easily upon him ; with the zeal of a new convert he overdid 
matters. We at once see the difference between him and 
those holy personages whose sanctity has been the sanctity of 
a whole life, or those again who have been suddenly turned 
from notorious sinners into contrite-hearted penitents. Nor 
was he one of the class of great ecclesiastical statesmen, to 
whom the Church has been through life as a fatherland or a 
political party. Had Thomas belonged to any one of those 
classes, he would have been somewhat more chary of his spiri- 
tual thunders. But his artificial frame of mind allowed no 
scope cither for the long-suffering of Anselm, or for the policy 
of Hildebrand. His fiery soul would have revolted against 
either as remissness in the cause of God. Thomas could be 

" " Siquidom quum ante promotionem auamtanquam urnis excellentium 
enituisaet seculo, non minus etiam poatmodum inter prsecipuos orthodox- 
orum eminere studuii militana Christo. Neaciebat enim nisi maximorum 
nuns esse quemcumque Bortitus esset ordinem vita'." Will. Cant, ap. 
Giles, ii. 1'60. 


meek and gentle after a sort, yet always only by an effort ; 
himself personally he could humble, as he did to his censor 
John of Salisbury ; but the rights of his office, the cause of 
the Church, were never to be humbled by him. Throughout 
his life the garb of saintship never fitted him. Through his 
whole career the old Adam is perpetually peeping out : we 
see the spirit of former days when he tells his slanderer at 
Northampton that, were he a knight, his sword should assert 
his righteousness ; when he is detected on the Flemish coast 
by his eye fixed on the hawk on the young noble's wrist ; 
when, even in his last hour, after years of scourging and 
penance, the strong arm which had unhorsed Engelram de 
Trie threw Eeginald Fitz-Urse prostrate upon the pavement 
of the cathedral. It peeps out in less excusable form in those 
words of reviling, rather than rebuke, from which he could 
not restrain himself even in the hour of confessorship and of 
martyrdom.* Had his early life been one of deeper sinful- 
ness, his conversion might have brought a more chastened 
and truly mortified spirit to the service of his Maker. But a 
saintship artificial, though thoroughly sincere, had always 
something awkward and incongruous about it. If the Church 
really needed a champion, the lion-heart of Thomas was 
certainly less fitted for the office than the true union of dove 
and serpent to be found in his friend and monitor John of 

Our estimate of Thomas's personal character ought not to 
be at all affected by modern notions, however well founded, 
as to the abstract justice of the cause which he maintained. 
The immunity of clerks from the jurisdiction of the civil 
power would now be justly considered monstrous in every 
well-governed country. All that is wanted is to show that 
it was a cause which might be honestly maintained in the 
twelfth century. And that it surely was. Thomas did not 
invent the ecclesiastical claims ; he merely defended them 
as he found them. Even if the "Customs" were, which 

* "Garcionem et spurium" (Will. Cant,, ap. Giles, ii. 13) at North- 
ampton. " Lenonem a[ipellans" at Canterbury (E. Grim, ap. Giles, i. 76). 


seems very doubtful, the established laws of the land, they 
were laws which a churchman of those days could at most 
submit to in patience, and could not be expected to approve 
or subscribe to. None of his fellow-Bishops loved the Con- 
stitutions of Clarendon any better than Thomas did ; they 
simply submitted through fear, some of them at least clearly 
against their own judgement. The most violent attack on 
Thomas ever penned, the famous letter of Gilbert Foliot,* 
does not blame the Archbishop for resisting the King, but 
for not resisting him more strenuously. And we must re- 
member that, if the so-called liberties of the Church were 
utterly repugnant to our notions of settled government, they 
did not appear equally so in those times. The modern idea 
of government is an equal system of law for every part of 
the territory and for every class of the nation. In the 
middle ages every class of men, every district, every city, 
tried to isolate itself within a jurisprudence of its own. 
Nobles, burghers, knights of order, wherever either class 
was strong enough, refused the jurisdiction of any but their 
own peers. Every town tried to approach as nearly as it 
could to the condition of a separate republic. A province 
thought itself privileged if it could obtain a judicial system 
separate from the rest of the kingdom. Even within the 
ecclesiastical pale we find peculiar jurisdictions : orders, 
monasteries, chapters, colleges, shake off the authority of 
the regular ordinaries, and substitute some exceptional tri- 
bunal of their own. For the clergy to be amenable only to 
a clerical judicature was really nothing very monstrous in 
such a state of things. It was of course defended on totally 
different grounds from any other exemption; but it could 
hardly have arisen except in a state of things when exemp- 
tions of all kinds were familiar. And we must also remember 
that ecclesiastical privileges were not so exclusively priestly 
privileges as we sometimes fancy. They sheltered not only 
ordained ministers, but all ecclesiastical officers of every 
kind ; the Church courts also claimed jurisdiction in the 
* Ep. Gilb. Fol.,ap. Giles, v. 272. 


causes of widows and orphans.* In short, the privileges for 
which Thomas contended transferred a large part of the 
people, and that the most helpless part, from the bloody- 
grasp of the King's courts to the milder jurisdiction of the 
Bishop. The ecclesiastical judicature was clearly inadequate 
to deal with the most serious class of offences ; but, on the 
other hand, it did not, like that of the royal courts, visit 
petty thefts or assaults with such monstrous penalties as 
blinding and castration.! One of the Constitutions of Cla- 
rendon, that which forbade the ordination of villains without 
the consent of their lords, was directly aimed at the only means 
by which the lowest class in the state could rise. And this 
constitution did not, as Dean Milnian says,:j: pass unheeded ; 
on the contrary, it called forth an indignant burst of almost 
democratic sentiment from the French biographer of Thomas.§ 
But while we do justice to Thomas, we must also do justice 
to Henry. Foreigner as he was, careless of special English 
interest, and stained as his life was by vices and faults of 
various kinds, Henry had still many of the qualities of a 
great ruler, and we have no reason to doubt that he was sin- 
cerely desirous for the good government of his kingdom. 
The civil wars of Stephen's reign had left England in a state 
of utter anarchy. This state of things King Henry and 
Chancellor Thomas set themselves to work in good earnest 
to undo. Their government did much to restore order and 
peace ; but it is easy to see that, to restore perfect order and 
peace, no class of men must be allowed to break the law with 
the certainty of an inadequate punishment. Thomas's own 
admirers state Henry's case very fairly, and do full justice to 

* See the letter of John of Poitiers, Giles, Ep. Gilb. Fol. vi. 238. 
f See a most curious story in Benedict's Miracles of St. Thomas, pp. 
184-193. On the cruelty of the royal jurisprudence, see Herb. vii. 105. 
% Lat. Christ, iii. 4G5. 

§ " ' Fils a vilains ne fust en nul liu ordenez 

Sanz l'otrci sur seignur de cui terre il fu nez.' 

Et Deus a sun servise nus a tuz apelez ! 

Mielz valt fils a vilain qui est preuz et senez, 

Que ne feit gentilz hum failliz et debutez." Gamier, \\ 89. 


his motives.* Herbert himself goes so far as to say that 
King and Archbishop alike had a zeal for God, and leaves it 
to God Himself to judge which zeal was according to know- 
ledge.! No doubt both Henry and Thomas saw the evil, and 
each set himself vigorously to correct it in his own way. 
The number of clerical offenders was large, and some of their 
offences were very serious. Thomas, during the short time 
that he lived in England as Archbishop, certainly did his 
best to strike at the root of the evil by unusual care as to 
those whom he ordained ; and he also passed severe sen- 
tences, though of course not of life or limb, upon the offenders 
Avhom he sheltered from the royal vengeance. Still there 
can be no doubt that there were a good many churchmen in 
the kingdom for whom the gallows was the only appropriate 
remedy. Henry had a noble career before him, had he but 
adhered steadily to his own principles. The only danger 
was, that the full carrying out of those principles would have 
led to consequences which in the twelfth century would have 
been altogether premature. They involved not only the 
subjection of the clergy to the ordinary jurisdiction, but the 
throwing off of all dependence upon the see of Rome. This 
noble, but perhaps impracticable, cause Henry wilfully threw 
away. He let the contest degenerate from a strife of prin- 
ciples into a petty personal persecution of the Archbishop. 
In the scene at Clarendon we see the clashing of two causes, 
both of which contained elements of right. In the scene at 
Northampton we see only a series of mean and malignant 
attempts to crush a man who had become offensive and 
dangerous. Henry was now the tyrant and Thomas the hero. 
By allowing his Bishops to appeal to the Pope, by appealing 
to the Pope himself, Henry gave up his own cause. Nor did 
he mend it when he recognized the Pope as arbiter whenever 
lie thought him favourable, but, whenever he turned against 
him, denounced savage penalties on all who should introduce 
any Papal Letters into the kingdom. Henry, at the begin- 

* See Herb., ap. Giles, vii. 102, 122; A.m. Lamb. ii. 85,80. 
t Herb. vii. 108, 109. 


ning at least, appears as the statesman of wider and clearer 
vision ; but Thomas deserves the higher moral praise of 
sticking firmly and manfully to the principles which he 
conscientiously believed to be right. 

And now for a few words on the closing scene. As usual, 
we find a heroic firmness, a lofty sense of right, mixed up 
with circumstances detracting from the purely saintly ideal. 
We admire rather than approve. We hold Thomas to have 
been highly blameworthy in returning to England amidst a 
storm of censures and excommunications ; so did many of 
his wisest contemporaries. An amnesty on such a triumphal 
return would have been naturally expected from a secular 
conqueror ; much more would it have become a minister of 
peace victorious in a bloodless struggle. But in the state of 
fanatic exaltation into which Thomas had now wrought him- 
self, lenity would have seemed a crime which would incur 
the curse of Meroz ; to have failed to smite the contumacious 
Prelates would have been failing to come to the help of the 
Lord against the mighty. The quarrel in itself was not so 
frivolous an one as it seems in these days. The ancient right 
of the Primate of Canterbury to crown the English King 
seems to us a mere honorary privilege ; it was a very dif- 
ferent matter when a King was no King till he was crowned 
and anointed. And in the actual choice put before him, no 
one can wish that Thomas had chosen otherwise than he did. 
" Absolve the prelates ; fly, or die." He would not fly ; he 
had fled once ; he would not again desert his church. As 
for the absolution, he was probably canonically right in 
saying that the Pope alone could pronounce it ; but a con- 
ditional absolution he did offer. Now, whether the sentence 
was just or unjust, wise or foolish, no public officer, Bishop, 
Judge, or any other, could be justified in withdrawing a 
solemn and regular judgement in answer to the bidding 
and threats of four ruffians armed with no sort of legal 
authority. To have absolved the Bishops through fear of 
the words of Tracy and Eitz-Urse would have been un- 
worthy cowardice indeed. That Thomas showed a most 


unhealthy craving after martyrdom cannot be denied ; but a 
martyr he clearly was, not merely to the privileges of the 
church or to the rights of the see of Canterbury, but to the 
general cause of law and order as opposed to yiolence and 

"We haye thus tried to deal, by the clear light of impartial 
historical criticism, with a man whose history has been dis- 
figured by three centuries and a half of adoration, followed 
by three more centuries of obloquy. The almost deified 
Saint Thomas, the despised Thomas a Becket, appears by that 
light as a man of great gifts, of high and honest purpose, 
but whose yirtues were disfigured by great defects, and who 
was placed in a position for which his character was un- 
suited. Indiscriminate adoration and indiscriminate reviling 
are alike out of place with so mixed a character; petty 
carping and sneers are yet more out of place than either. 
Thomas and his age are gone. He has perhaps no direct 
claims upon our gratitude* as Englishmen ; none certainly 
for those acts which most won him the admiration of his own 
day. He won the martyr's crown in contending for prin- 
ciples which we must all rejoice did not ultimately prevail. 
'The Constitutions of Clarendon are now, with the good will 
of all, part and parcel of our law. We do not claim a place 
for Thomas of Canterbury beside Alfred and iEthelstan, 
beside Stephen Langton and Simon de Montfort ; yet, as a 
great and heroic Englishman, he is fully entitled to a respect 
more disinterested than that which we show to benefactors 
whose gifts we are still enjoying. Of no man of such wide- 
spread fame have we so few visible memorials ; Northampton 
Castle has vanished, Canterbury Cathedral is rebuilt ; a few 
fragments alone remain on which the eyes of Thomas can 
have rested. No great foundation, no splendid minster or 

* We speak doubtingly, because the account of one exaction of Henry's 
resisted by Thomas (Edw. Grim, ap. Giles, i. 21 ; Rog. Pont. i. 113 ; Gamier, 
p. 30) reads very much as if it were n sisted on general and not on purely 
ecclesiastical grounds. Even Mr. Robertson allows (p. 71), in his half- 
sneering way, that " the primate appeared as a si rt of Hampden." 


castle, survives to bear witness to his bounty or to his skill 
in the arts. He lived in and for his own age. To under- 
stand him thoroughly, one must first thoroughly know what 
that age was. And no fair-minded man who has at once 
mastered the history and literature of the twelfth century, 
and has attained the faculty of throwing himself with a lively 
interest into times so alien to our own, can rise from his 
studies without the conviction that Thomas of Canterbury, 
with all his faults, is fairly entitled to a place among the 
worthies of whom England is proud, 



To lovers of chivalrous adventure I presume that no part of 
English history is more attractive than the reign of Edward 
the Third. Edward himself is to some extent a popular 
hero, and his son the Black Prince is so to a much greater 
extent. But in Edward himself, when we come fairly to 
examine him, there is not very much to admire ; and as to 
his son, the provoking thing is that people admire him for 
the wrong things. Throwing aside all the fopperies and 
fripperies of chivalry, we have to balance how we can the 
good and the evil points of the man who was at once the 
savage conqueror of Limoges and the patriotic statesman of 
the Good Parliament. 

To the political student the reign of Edward is rather 
repulsive at first sight, but a closer examination soon shows 
that there is a great deal of important matter below the 
surface. The primary and popular notion of Edward the 
Third and his son is that they were two great conquerors 
who won brilliant victories, which victories abundantly showed 
how few Englishmen could beat a vast number of French- 
men. And no one will deny that Crecy, Poitiers, even 
Navarete, were wonderful victories indeed, victories of 
which it is impossible even now to read the account without 
a thrill of national pride. The pity is that they were 
victories which served absolutely no purpose — Crecy and 
Navarete absolutely no purpose, Poitiers only a very tem- 

* This was a review of Mr. Longman's Life and Times of Edward the 
Third. I have dealt with it in the same way as I dealt with the article on 
Dr. Vanghan's Revolutions in English History. 


porary purpose. England was successful in battles, but she 
was thoroughly beaten in war. Edward the Third succeeded 
by lawful inheritance to a large part of Southern Gaul. He 
left to his successor the mere shadow of that ancient inhe- 
ritance, together with a still more shadowy title to the 
Kingdom of France itself. His only conquest, in the strict 
sense of the word, was Calais. One may conceive a point of 
view in which the gain of Calais might counterbalance the 
loss of nearly all Aquitaine, but this is a very philosophical 
point of view, and one from which we may be quite sure 
that no one looked at things in the time of Edward the 
Third. The broad and plain fact of Edward's reign is that 
it was a time of great territorial losses. As far as glory 
consists in winning wonderful battles and leading foreign 
Kings captive, no other age in English history was equally 
glorious. But at no time, save that of Henry the Sixth, 
was England ever so thoroughly stripped of possessions which 
had once been hers. 

The comparison which I have just made suggests another. 
One can hardly help contrasting the two great periods of 
English warfare and English victory in France. Edward the 
Third and Henry the Fifth almost necessarily suggest one 
another ; but the difference between the two men is infinite. 
There is indeed a striking superficial likeness between those 
among the exploits of the two princes which have found for 
themselves the most abiding resting-place in popular memory. 
The story of Azincourt is almost a literal repetition of the 
story of Crecy, and the victory of Azincourt was hardly 
richer in immediate results than the victory of Crecy. But- 
Edward was simply victor in a battle ; Henry was victor in 
war, in diplomacy, in all that he attempted. In reading the 
reign of Edward, the years seem to pass away we know not 
how. Every ten years there is a great battle, a glorious 
victory, but the intermediate periods slip by like a dream. 
They are full of purposeless unconnected events, which fall 
into no certain order, and which it is almost impossible to 
keep in the memory. The time is stirring enough ; there is 

i 2 


always something going on; the difficulty is to understand 
or to remember what it is that is going on. We move back- 
wards and forwards from Britanny to Gascony, from Flanders 
to Germany, from Scotland to Castile, without any very clear 
notion why we are thus flitting backwards and forwards. In 
the reign of Henry, on the other hand, the wonder is how 
so manv great events, pressing close upon the heels of one 
another, could be crowded into the few years of his warfare. 
Edward, in short, made war like a knight-errant ; war was a 
noble pastime for princes and nobles ; the whole thing, from 
beginning to end, reads like a long tournament, a tournament 
carried on for the amusement and glory of a few, at the 
expense of suffering millions. Henry cared as little for 
human suffering as Edward did, perhaps even less. The 
besieger of Rouen was at least as stern as the besieger of 
Calais. But the warfare of Henry was no purposeless tourna- 
ment ; not a blow was dealt by him, whether on the field 
or in the council chamber, which was not dealt in deep and 
deadly earnest. It was not as a knight-errant that he made 
war, but as a general and a statesman of the highest order, as 
a King worthy to wear the crown of the great William and 
the great Edward. No doubt Henry was favoured by fortune 
as few men ever have been favoured. France lay before him 
in a state which seemed almost to invite his invasion. The 
murder of John of Burgundy, and the position assumed bv 
his son, served the purposes of Henry as directly as if he 
had himself planned them beforehand. Edward certainly 
had no such manifest advantages. But after all, what does 
statesmanship consist in except in making the most of such 
advantages as a man has? The position of Henry was un- 
doubtedly far more favourable than the position of Edward ; 
but then Henry made the most of his position, while the 
Edwards, father and son, failed to make the most of theirs. 
Henry knew his purposes, and he fulfilled them. Edward 
failed to fulfil his purposes, or rather it is hard to say 
whether he had any purposes to fulfil. 
Looking at the morality of the tun great enterprises 


against France, a modern writer is perhaps tempted to 
judge both Edward and Henry with undue harshness. 
Lord Brougham, for instance, brings Henry up before the 
tribunal of abstract right, and before the tribunal of ab- 
stract right it must be allowed that Henry cuts but a 
poor figure. But it is seldom fair to judge any historical 
character bv so unswerving a standard ; we must make 
allowance for the circumstances, the habits, the beliefs, the 
prejudices, of each man's time. As a lesson in moral phi- 
losophy, as a comment on the doctrine that man is very far 
gone from original righteousness, Lord Brougham's estimate 
of Henry the Fifth is highly instructive ; but as a portrait of 
Henry the Fifth it is unfair. The biographer of Edward, 
Mr. Longman, cannot wield the trenchant weapons of Lord 
Brougham, but he is really fairer in his estimate of Edward 
than Lord Brougham is in his estimate of Henry. He is 
not dazzled with Edward's somewhat tinsel glories, but he 
equally avoids the other extreme of unreasonable harshness. 
He strongly brings out the fact that Edward was really forced 
into the war by Philip. Philip, in truth, had a policy, while 
Edward had none. Philip's policy was the obvious, the 
traditional, French policy, the policy of consolidating his 
Kingdom by convenient annexations. He clearly aimed at 
the annexation of Edward's Duchy of Aquitaine, and he 
sought for a war which would give him a chance of annex- 
ing it. A perfectly calm and passionless English statesman 
might have doubted whether Aquitaine was worth the keep- 
ing. Aquitaine, we must remember, was now strictly an 
English dependency. "When England and Aquitaine first 
became possessions of the same sovereign, it was not so. 
Henry of Anjou, King of England, Duke of Normandy, 
Duke of Aquitaine, Count and Lord of a crowd of smaller 
states, was no more a national prince in any of them than 
(liarles of Ghent was a national prince in Castile or Ger- 
many or Sicily. But Henry's various continental dominions, 
widdv as they differed from one another in speech and 
feeling, might still be looked on as forming one whole, in 


opposition to his insular Kingdom. And in his eyes, and in 
those of his immediate successors, they certainly outweighed 
his insular Kingdom. Henry was primarily a great conti- 
nental sovereign, the rival of his less powerful lord at Paris. 
That he was also King of England was a very important 
accession to his power and position ; still it was an accession 
and little more. But things changed when John lost all his 
possessions in Northern Gaul, with the solitary exception of 
that insular Normandy which his successors have kept to 
this day. Aquitaine, or what was left of it, was now a mere 
accession to England, an outlying and distant possession 
of the English Crown. And as the relation of Aquitaine to 
England changed, its relation to France changed also. We 
must not forget that Aquitaine, though a fief of the French 
Crown, was in no sense a French province. Unless we 
except the short time during which Louis the Seventh ruled 
there in right of Eleanor, Aquitaine had never been a pos- 
session of the Parisian Kings, and its people had, in speech 
and origin, no kindred with the people of France beyond that 
general kindred which they shared equally with the people of 
Spain and Italy. When Henry was Lord of Rouen, of Tours, 
and of Bourdeaux, none of those cities seemed at all called 
upon to bow to Paris. But when Paris had swallowed up 
Rouen and Tours, the position of Bourdeaux was sensibly 
changed. It was changed both politically and geographi- 
cally. Aquitaine was now no longer a part of the great 
continental monarchy of Henry. It was a dependency of 
the island Kingdom, which the French conquest of Toulouse 
had caused to be surrounded by French territory on every 
side, except those occupied by the sea and the mountains. 
The Parisian King, instead of being a mere nominal suzerain, 
was now the immediate master of the larger part of Gaul. 
Aquitaine now looked like a natural portion of his Kingdom, 
unnaturally detained from him by a distant potentate. 
Within the Duchy itself the feelings of the inhabitants 
presented great differences and fluctuations. There was 
always an English and a French party; of a Spanish party. 


of which we see signs in the thirteenth century, we see none 
in the fourteenth. And men's minds might well be divided 
on the question whether it were better for their country to 
remain a dependency of England or to become an integral 
part of France. There can be no doubt that the English 
rule was the better of the two, as was soon found out when 
Aquitaine was finally conquered. The nearer master was 
far more dangerous to local liberties and customs than 
the more distant one. Bourdeaux, while it was a distant 
dependency of England, came much nearer to the position 
of a free city than when it had sunk into a provincial town 
of France. But Englishmen failed then, as they fail now, 
to adapt themselves to subjects of another race and speech. 
Their rule was essentially better than that of France, but 
it was less attractive. France was already beginning 
to exercise that strange fascination which she goes on ex- 
ercising still, and which enables her to incorporate and assi- 
milate her conquests in a way in which no other conquering 
power has succeeded in rivalling her. And, marked 
as was the ethnical distinction between France and Aqui- 
taine, it was slight compared to the ethnical distinction 
between Aquitaine and England. All these causes con- 
tributed to produce a very divided state of feeling in the 
Duchy. The strength of England lay mainly in the cities ; 
that of France lay mainly among the nobles of the country. 
But it is easy to see throughout Edward's wars that the 
English party was decaying, and that the French party was 
growing. To annex then this great province, which lay so 
temptingly open to him, a corner which seemed so needful 
to round off his dominions, was the main object of the 
policy of Philip of Valois. We are commonly inclined to 
blame Edward for setting up a claim of his own on the 
French Crown, after he had done homage to Philip, and 
had thereby recognized him as lawful King of France. But 
Edward was fairly goaded into the war by Philip, and he 
seems to have assumed the title of Kinsr of France as much 
to satisfy the scruples of the Flemings as for any other 


reason. It was fairly a case of drifting into war — a war 
which, notwithstanding the two great battles and many other 
gallant exploits, was begun, continued, and ended in a way 
which is throughout purposeless and perplexing. 

The first war, the war of Crecy and Poitiers, was ended by 
the Peace of Bretigny. People often fail to understand how 
important a bearing that peace had upon the wars of the next 
century. The French are perfectly right in speaking of 
the whole time from Edward the Third to Henry the Sixth 
as the Hundred Years' War. The Peace of Bretigny was the 
formal justification of Henry the Fifth. On no theory could 
Henry have any hereditary right to the Crown of France. 
The principle on which Edward the Third had claimed that 
crown was the principle of female succession, and the prin- 
ciple of female succession would have given the rights of 
Edward the Third to the House of Mortimer. But Henry 
the Fifth succeeded to the crown of England at a time 
when England was at war with France. The Peace of 
Bretigny was undoubtedly broken on the French side. From 
Bretigny to Troyes no other peace was concluded ; there 
were only truces, and at the end of any truce the King 
of England had a perfect formal right to begin the war 
again. That the Peace of Bretigny did not last is a sign of 
the change of feeling which was gradually coming over 
Southern Gaul. Two hundred years earlier we may be sure 
that Aquitanian patriotism would have rejoiced in an ar- 
rangement which made the lands south of the Loire free 
from all superiority on the part of the Parisian Crown. But 
a large part of the former dominions of Henry the Second 
submitted with the utmost reluctance to those terms of the 
treaty which restored them to the rule of the descendant of 
their ancient Dukes. Even within the lands which had 
never been separated from England the rule of the Black 
Prince seems not to have thoroughly taken root. In fact an 
independent Principality of Aquitaine was fast becoming, in 
French phrase,an anachronism. And an independent Prin- 
cipality of Aquitaine to the bands of an English prince was 


somewhat of a pretence into the bargain. At an earlier 
time independent commonwealths of Bourdeaux and La 
Itochelle might have been something more than a dream. 
But in Aquitaine, as throughout the fiefs of the Parisian 
Crown, with the single half exception of Flanders, the 
princely power, royal or ducal, was always too strong to 
allow of the growth of a system of free cities, such as arose 
within the bounds of each of the three Imperial Kingdoms. 
The reign of Edward the Third is also of great importance 
in a constitutional point of view ; it is equally so in a social, 
a literary, and a religious point of view. But in these points 
also the reign of Edward has something of the same character 
that it has in military affairs. Changes take place in a sort 
of in visible, incidental way ; we cannot lay our hands on any 
marked revolutions, like those of the reign of Henry the 
Third, nor on many great and lasting enactments, like those 
of the reign of Edward the First. The fourteenth century is 
indeed more fertile than any other in one most important 
class of political precedents. It is the only century since 
the eleventh * which saw two Kings deposed by authority of 
Parliament. Yet even the depositions of Edward the Second 
and Bichard the Second do not stand out in the same way as 
the events of the thirteenth century or of the seventeenth. 
The reign of Edward the Third was a reign of frequent 
Parliaments and of much legislation, but Edward could no 
more be compared to his grandfather as a legislator than he 
could as a statesman and a warrior. Even his commercial 
legislation was done, as it were, by haphazard. So indeed 
was everything that he did. He constantly wanted money, 
and his constant want of money was a great constitutional 
advantage. He was driven to summon Parliaments, com- 
monly yearly, sometimes oftener ; and those Parliaments 
gradually learned their strength. How important these 
silent influences were is shown when we reach the last two 

* Charles the First was nut deposed, but was executed being King. 
This leaves the seventeenth century with only one case of deposition 
strictly so called. 


years of Edward's life. In the Good Parliament we see how 
the Commons had been gradually gaining more and more of 
power and enlightenment, till they were able to carry some 
of the most thorough measures of reform, and to make one 
of the most successful attacks on the executive government 
that any legislative body ever made. No doubt it was a great 
help for the popular party to have the Prince of Wales on 
their side, and, when he was gone, his loss was sadly felt in 
the reaction of the next year. But it was a great thing to see 
a Prince of Wales put himself at the head of a real popular 
movement of reform, a very different process from a Prince 
of Wales getting up a factious personal opposition against 
his father. It is his conduct in this Parliament, far more 
than any of his doings beyond the sea, which gives the Black 
Prince his real claim to rank among the worthies of England. 
The acts of the Good Parliament and their unhappy reversal 
in the next year, the good influence of Prince Edward and 
the evil influence of John of Gaunt, are points which stand 
out conspicuously in the legislative history of this reign. On 
the legislation of this time there is one dark blot, which 
even touches the Good Parliament itself: I mean the 
constant attempt to control matters which are beyond the 
proper province of legislation, and, worse still, the constant 
attempt to control them in a way contrary to the interests of 
the most numerous and the most helpless class of the people. 
The depopulation caused by the Black Death made labour 
scarce ; wages of course rose, and successive Parliaments, the 
Good Parliament among them, undertook the cruel and im- 
possible tusk of keeping wages down by law. At the same 
time, and very much by reason of the same causes, the 
emancipation of the villain-; was largely going on. Thus the 
class of free labourers was being enlarged and strengthened ; 
the payment of wages for work done was constantly becoming 
mure habitual, while the class of people who could be set to 
work without wages was constantly diminishing. One might 
almost have expected that the emancipation of villains would 
have been forbidden by law, just as in old Rome restrictions 


were put on the emancipation of slaves. But happily the 
Church taught that to set a bondman free was a pious and 
charitable deed, and men could hardly be ordered by Act of 
Parliament to abstain from adding to the number of their 
good works. 

The mention of the religious and the literary condition of 
England during this reign at once suggests that we are 
dealing with the age of Wyclif and the age of Chaucer. I 
am not going to discuss either of them at the end of an 
article. But those names stanip the age of Edward the 
Third as the beginning of the theological reformation in 
England and as the beginning of modern English litera- 
ture. I confess that the purely theological aspect of the 
time interests me less than the part played by this age, as by 
other ages, in the long struggle between England and Borne. 
The English spirit which, three centuries before, had, through 
the mouth of Tostig, defied Pope Nicolas on his throne, came 
out in the Parliaments of Edward the Third as it came out 
in other Parliaments before and after him. And it was a 
soimd and happy line of argument, a true English love of 
precedent, which led the Good Parliament to appeal to the 
practice of the sainted Eadward himself as unanswerable 
evidence of the true and ancient supremacy of the Crown in 
matters ecclesiastical. Oddly enough, this was the very 
moment when the old ground on which that supremacy was 
based was beginning to give way. Up to this time, ever 
since the last Englishman ceased to worship Thunder and 
Woden, Englishmen had been united in religion ; the Church 
and the nation had been two aspects of the same body. But 
the teaching of Wyclif gave birth in the next generation to 
our earliest Nonconformists ; when we ought to have had our 
first toleration, we did have our first persecution. With the 
appearance of the Lollards, the Church and the nation ceased 
to be fully one, and the puzzles and controversies of modern 
times had their beginning. 

Another sign of the times in religious matters is the turn 
which the bounty of pious founders and benefactors was now 


taking. The day of the monks was over. The great struggle 
which had been going on ever since the days of Dimstan was 
at last decided in favour of the seculars. Monasteries were 
still founded now and then, but there is nothing like the zeal 
for them which followed on the Benedictine movement in the 
tenth and eleventh centuries, on the Cistercian movement in 
the twelfth, on the Franciscan and Dominican movement in 
the thirteenth. Colleges in the Universities, chantries for 
the repose of their founders' souls, colleges for the more 
splendid performance of divine service in this or that parish 
church, hospitals for the poor, schools for the young, are now 
the objects of pious benefactions far more largely than the 
monastic orders. On the other hand, the constant wars with 
France led, on an obvious principle of policy, to temporary 
seizures of the property of the Alien Priories. These tem- 
porary seizures again suggested the complete suppression of 
those priories in the next century, and this formed a pre- 
cedent for the general suppression of all monasteries in the 
century after that. 

On the whole then the fourteenth century, the age of 
Edward the Third, is an age whose importance lies below the 
surface. It sets before us nothing like the great tragedy of 
the eleventh century or the mighty new birth of the thirteenth, 
it has more in common with the silent working of the 
twelfth. But the visible actors are on a smaller scale. The 
tinsel frippery of chivalry hangs around the names of Edward 
and his son, but, when stripped of these factitious attrac- 
tions, they seem small indeed beside the two great Henries. 
Edward seems great between his father and his grandson, but 
the real personal greatness of our Kings leaps from Edward 
the First to Henry the Fifth. But there is this difference 
between them. The work of Edward the First, like the 
w< nk of the Concpieror, still abides. Each of them has left his 
direct impress on English history for all time. Henry, hardly 
their inferior in natural gifts, has had only an indirect influence 
upon after events. The war which he waged, the war in 
which France was so nearly conquered, showed in the end 


that France could not really be conquered. His son, the only- 
English King who was ever crowned King of France, was the 
King who lost the last relics of that continental dominion 
which England began to lose under the King who first took up 
the vain title of French royalty. As long as Calais was kept, 
men ever and anon dreamed that those who still held the key 
of France might one day enter on the possession of France 
itself. But such thoughts were mere momentary dreams, 
and never continuously Influenced our policy. The victories 
of Edward the Third beiran the chain of events which in the 
end made England a strictly insular power. As such we may 
be thankful for them. 




The Holy Roman Empire. By James Bryce, B.A.* 

Oxford, 1864. 

It may seem a hard saying, but it is one which the facts 
fully bear out, that hardly one student in ten of mediaeval 
history really grasps that one key to the whole subject without 
which mediaeval history is simply an unintelligible chaos. 
That key is no other than the continued existence of the 
Eoman Empire. As long as people are taught to believe 
that the Empire came to an end in the year 476, a true 
understanding of the next thousand years becomes utterly 
impossible. No man can understand either the politics or 
the literature of that whole period, unless he constantly 
bears in mind that, in the ideas of the men of those days, 
the Koman Empire, the Empire of Augustus, Constantine, 
and Justinian, was not a thing of the past but a thing of the 
present. "Without grasping the mediaeval theory of the 
Empire, it is impossible fully to grasp the theory and to follow 
the career of the Papacy. Without understanding the posi- 
tion of the Empire, it is impossible rightly to understand 
the origin ami development of the various European states. 
Without such an understanding, the history of the nations 
which clave to the Empire, and the history of the nations 
which fell away from it, are alike certain to be misconceived. 
Unless viewed in the light of the Imperial theory, the whole 
history of ( rermany, Italy, and Burgundy becomes an inex- 

* [Now D.C.L. and Regius Professor of Civil Law. The article was 
founded on the first edition. The third edition (1871), to which I have 
brought in Beveral references, is greatly enlarged and improved.] 


plicable riddle. The struggle of Hildebrand and Henry loses 
half its meaning, the whole position of the Swabian Emperors 
becomes an insoluble puzzle, the most elaborate prose and 
the most impassioned verse of Dante sink into purposeless 
gibberish, if we do not fully grasp the fact that in the mind of 
all contemporary Europe, the Hohenstaufen were the direct 
and lawful successors of the Julii. How Germany, once the 
most united state of Western Europe, gradually changed 
from a compact and vigorous Kingdom into one of the laxest 
of Confederations, can never be understood unless we trace 
how the German Kingdom was crushed and broken to pieces 
beneath the weight of the loftier diadem which rested on the 
brow of its Kings. Those misrepresentations of all European 
history with which French historians and French politicians 
are apt to deceive the imwary can never be fully exposed, 
except by a thorough acquaintance with the true position 
and true nationality of those Teutonic Kings and Caesars 
whom the Gaul is so apt to look upon as his countrymen 
and not as his masters. The relations between Eastern and 
Western Europe can never be taken in, unless we fully under- 
stand the true nature of those rival Empires, each of which 
asserted and believed itself to be the one true and lawful 
possessor of the heritage of ancient Rome. We see our way 
but feebly through the long struggle between the East and 
the "West, between Christendom and Islam, unless we fully 
grasp the position of the Caesar, the chief of Christendom, and 
the Caliph, the chief of Islam ; unless we see, in the complex 
interpenetration of the divided Empire and the divided Cali- 
phate, at once what the theory of Christian and of Moslem 
was, and how utterly either theories failed to be carried out 
in all its fulness. In a word, as we began by saying, the 
history of the Empire is the key to the whole history of 
mediaeval Europe, and it is a key which as yet is foimd in 
far fewer hands than it ought to be. 

The immediate cause of the failure of most historical 
students to grasp the paramount importance of the Imperial 
history is of course to be found in the fact that hardly any 


of the books from which students draw their knowledge give 
its proper prominence to the history of the Empire. This is 
indeed little more than a truism. The question is, how it 
comes to pass that even able and well-informed writers have 
failed to bring forward this most important portion of history 
as it should be brought forward. The causes, we think, are 
tolerably obvious. 

First. Our own national history has been less affected by 

the history of the Empire than that of any other European 

country. Britain, Spain, and Sweden, in their insular and 

peninsular positions, were the parts of Europe over which 

the Imperial influence was slightest, and of the three, that 

influence was slighter over Britain than it was over Spain, 

and not much greater than it was over Sweden. Of direct 

connexion with the Empire, England had very little, and 

Scotland still less. The external history of England does 

indeed ever and anon touch the history of the Empire, in the 

way in which the history of each European state must ever 

and anon touch the history of every other European state. 

Once or twice in a century we come across an Emperor as a 

friend or as an enemy, in one case as a possible suzerain. As 

England supplied the spiritual Rome with a single Pope, so 

she supplied the temporal Rome with a single King, a King 

who never visited his capital or received the crown and title 

of Augustus. But the whole internal history of England, 

and the greater part of its external history, went on pretty 

much as if there had been no Holy Roman Empire at all. 

( Mir one moment of most intimate connexion with the Empire 

brings out most fully how slight, compared with that of other 

nnl ions, our usual connexion with the Empire was. Every 

reader of English history knows the name of Richard, Earl 

of Cornwall and King of the Romans, and knows the part 

which lit' played in flic internal politics of England. But 

very feu readers, and we Buspect by no means all writers, of 

English history seem to have any clear notion what a King 

of the Romans was. On Scot land indeed the Roman Empire 

has had, in one way, a most important internal influence, 


through the authority which Scottish lawyers, in such marked 
contrast to those of England, have for so long a time attached 
to the Roman law. But this is simply because Scottish law- 
givers or lawyers chose that it should be so ; on the actual 
events of Scottish history, external and internal, the Empire 
and its rulers have had even less influence than they have 
had on those of England. As then our own national history 
can be written and understood with very little reference to 
the Holy Eoman Empire, British readers lie under a strong 
temptation to undervalue the importance of the Holy Roman 
Empire in the general history of the world. 

Secondly. When British readers get beyond the limits of 
their own island, not only is their attention not commonly 
drawn to the history of the Empire, but it is commonly drawn 
to a history which is actually antagonistic to the history of 
the Empire. France, so long the rival of England, and for 
that cause so long the ally of Scotland, is the country with 
which, next to their own, most British readers are most 
familiar. Now it is certain that no one who learns French 
history at the hands of Frenchmen can ever rightly under- 
stand the history of the Empire. The whole history of 
France, strictly so called, the history of the Parisian Kings, 
has been for six hundred years one long tale of aggrandize- 
ment at the expense of the Empire. From the annexation 
of Lyons to the annexation of Savoy, all have been acts of 
one great drama, a drama of which the devastation of the 
Palatinate, the seizure of Strassburg in time of peace, the 
tyranny of the first Buonaparte over the whole German 
nation, are familiar and characteristic incidents. French 
history consists mainly of a record of wrongs inflicted on the 
later and feebler Empire, prefaced by a cool appropriation of 
the glories of the Empire in the days of its early greatness. 
In official and popular French belief, two great German 
dynasties, who held modern France as a subject province, are 
conveniently turned into national Frenchmen. The greatest 
of German Kings, the first of German Caesars, Charles, the 
Lord of Rome and Aachen, is strangely turned about into a 


French Emperor of the West, the precursor of either Buona- 
parte. The ancient landmarks of European geography are 
wiped out, the names of the most famous European cities are 
mutilated or barbarized, in order to throw some colour of 
right and antiquity over the results of six hundred years of 
intrigue and violence. French history, as it is commonly pre- 
sented to Englishmen, exists only through a systematic mis- 
representation of Imperial history. Till all French influences 
are wholly cast aside and trampled under foot, the true his- 
tory of the Holy Eoman Empire can never be understood. 

Thirdly. It seems not unlikely that the righteous and 
generous sympathy which we all feel towards regenerate 
Italy has tended somewhat to obscure the true character of 
the Empire. So many Austrian Archdukes were elected 
Kings of Germany and Emperors of the Komans that people 
have gradually come to identify the House of Austria and the 
Roman Empire. Nothing is more common than to see the 
title of " Emperor of Austria," the most monstrous invention 
of modern diplomacy, carried back into the last century, and 
even earlier. Even Sir Walter Scott, in some of his novels, 
Anne of Geierstein for instance, seems to have had great 
difficulty in triumphing over a notion that every Emperor 
must have been Duke of Austria, and that every Duke of 
Austria must have been Emperor. We have seen Frederick 
Barbarossa set down as an Austrian because he was an Em- 
peror : we have seen the Leopold of Morgarten and the 
Leopold of Sempach exalted into Emperors because they 
were Austrian-. People thus learn to identify two things 
than which do two can be more unlike, and to look on the 
ancient reality with the eyes with, which they rightly look on 
the modern counterfeit. The dislike which every generous 
mind feels towards tin- oppressors of modern Italy is thus 
transferred to thai earlier Empire which, always in theory 
and often in practice, was as much Italian as German. As 
Charles the Groat becomes the forerunner of Buonaparte, 
ho Frederick the beloved of Lodi, and Frederick the native 
King of Palermo, ; ,nd Otto, the dream of whose short life 


was to reign as a true Roman Caesar in the Eternal City, 
all are popularly looked upon as forerunners of Francis 
Joseph, perhaps of Philip the Second.* The Austrian delu- 
sion, no less than the French delusion, must be utterly cast 
aside by everyone who would understand what Charles and 
Otto and Henry and Frederick really were. 

Lastly. Even among those who better know the facts of 
the case, and who better understand the leading idea of the 
mediaeval Empire, there is a certain tendency to underrate 
the importance of the Imperial history, on the ground that 
the mediaeval Empire was throughout an unreality, if not an 
imposture. We fully admit the utter unreality of the posi- 
tion of Francis the Second, Emperor-elect of the Romans, 
King of Germany and Jerusalem; we fully admit that 
Charles the Great himself was not a Roman Emperor in 
exactly the same sense as Vespasian or Trajan. We may 
freely grant that the Imperial idea was never fully carried 
out, and that it was by no means for the interest of the world 
that it should be carried out. We may wonder at the belief 
of the ages which held, as undoubted and eternal truths, first, 
that it was a matter of right that there should be an universal 
monarch of the world ; secondly, that that universal monarchy 
belonged, no less of eternal right, to the Roman Emperor, 
the successor of Augustus ; and, thirdly, that the German 
King, the choice of the German Electors, was the undoubted 
Roman Emperor, and therefore, of eternal right, Lord of the 
World. This belief seems to us very strange, but it was the 
belief of Dante. We rejoice that this scheme of universal 
dominion was never practically carried out ; we pride our- 
selves that our own island at least was always exempted from 
the sway of the universal sovereign. But all this should not 
lead us at all to underrate the paramount importance of the 
Imperial idea. A belief may be false, absurd, unreal, mis- 
chievous, as we please ; but this in no way touches the his- 

1 We have seen in a popular work the words " The Emperor Philip the 
Second." The reasoning is irresistible : Philip's father was an Emperor, 
how could Philip himself fail to be an Emperor too? 

K 2 


torical importance of suck belief. Christians believe that the 
leading idea of Mahometanism is a grievous error ; Protes- 
tants believe that the leading idea of the Papacy is a grievous 
error ; but no one argues that either Mahometanism or the 
Papacy has therefore been without influence on the fate of 
the world, or that any historical student can safely neglect 
the history of one or the other, merely because he looks on 
them as erroneous beliefs. In fact, the deadlier the error 
the more important are the results of an error which is 
accepted by large masses of men. It may be very wrong to 
believe that Mahomet was the prophet of God ; but the fact 
that millions of men have so believed has changed the des- 
tinies of a large portion of the world. It may be very wrong 
to believe that Saint Peter was the Prince of the Apostles 
and that the Bishop of Kome is Saint Peter's successor ; but 
the fact that millions of men have so believed and do so 
believe has affected the course of all European history and 
politics down to this day. In these cases no one attempts to 
deny the importance of the facts ; no one holds that either 
Mahometan or Papal history can safely be neglected. So it 
should be with the history of the medieval Empire. The 
Imperial idea may have been unreal, absurd, mischievous ; 
but it is not therefore the less important. Men did believe 
in it ; perhaps they were wrong to believe in it ; but the fact 
that they did believe in it affected the whole history of the 
world for many ages. It may have been foolish to believe 
that the German King was necessarily Eoman Emperor, and 
that the Roman Emperor was necessarily Lord of the World. 
But men did believe it; and the fact of their believing it 
changed the whole face of Europe. It might have been 
much wis.r if the German Kings had been content to be real 
Grerman Kings, and had not striven after the shadowy 
majesty of Roman Emperors. But, as a matter of fact, they 
did ao Btrive; it was qo1 in human nature for men in their 
position to do otherwise ; and the fact that they did so strive 
entailed the mosl importunl consequences upon their own 
ind upon everj neighbouring realm. If the history of the 


Empire were to be set down purely as the history of error 
and folly, it should still be remembered that the history of 
error and folly forms by far the largest part of the history 
of mankind. 

But we are far from admitting that the history of the 
Empire is purely a part of the history of human folly, though 
we may be obliged to admit that it is a part of the history 
of human error. The idea of the Empire, the idea of an 
universal Christian monarchy, not interfering with the local 
independence of particular kingdoms and commonwealths, 
but placing Caesar Augustus, the chosen and anointed chief 
of Christendom, as the common guide and father of all — such 
an idea is as noble and captivating as it is impracticable. It 
is an idea which has commended itself to some of the noblest 
spirits that the world has seen. It was the idea for which 
the first Frederick struggled with a far from merely selfish 
aim. It was the idea to which the early revivers of scientific 
jurisprudence clung as to the one foundation of order and 
legal government throughout the world. It was the great 
principle which acted as the guiding spirit of the prose, the 
verse, and the life of Dante. To men of that time, living 
amid the perpetual strife of small principalities and common- 
wealths, the vision of an universal Empire of law and right 
shone with an alluring brightness, which we, accustomed to a 
system of national governments and international relations, 
can hardly understand. But be the worth of the idea what 
it may, its practical influence on the history of Christendom 
can hardly be overrated. The empire may have been a 
shadow, but it was a shadow to which men were for ages 
ready to devote their thoughts, their pens, and their swords. 
The results were none the less practical because the object 
\\a~; unattainable. We repeat that, without a full under- 
standing of the mediaeval conception of the Empire, without 
a full grasp of the way in which that conception influenced 
•men's minds and actions from the eighth century to the 
fourteenth, the greater and more important part of mediaeval 
history remains an insoluble riddle. 


Knowing then, as we do, the unspeakable importance of 
right views of the Empire to a true understanding of mediaeval 
history, and being unable, as we are, to lay our hand upon 
any other book in the English tongue which gives so clear 
and thorough an account of the whole matter, it is with no 
common delight that we welcome the appearance of the small 
but remarkable volume whose name we have placed at the 
head of this article. It is the first complete and connected 
view of the mediaeval Empire which has ever been given to 
British readers. Mr. Bryce's book is of course not a history, 
but an essay ; he has not attempted so hopeless a task as to 
narrate the fates of the Empire and its attendant Kingdoms 
within the space of a single thin volume. But no one must 
confound Mr. Bryce's Arnold Essay with the common run of 
prize compositions. Mr. Bryce's book, if it be not a bull to 
say so, has been written since it gained the historical prize 
at Oxford. " It is right," he tells us, " to state that this Essay 
has been greatly changed and enlarged since it was composed 
for the Arnold Prize." Any one who knows anything of 
prize essays could have told as much by the light of nature. 
It is hardly possible that any mere academic exercise could 
have displayed the depth of thought, the thoroughness of 
research, the familiarity with a whole learning of a very 
recondite kind, which stand revealed in every page of this 
volume. The merits of the book are so palpably due in the 
main to this later revision, that we could almost wish that 
the words Arnold Prize Essay were removed from the 

Of the Essay itself, in its present form, we can hardly trust 
on is. •Ives -to speak all our thoughts. Men naturally and 
rightly look with some suspicion on criticism which speaks 
of a novice in language which is seldom deserved even by a 
veteran. Bui it is only in such language that we can utter 
our honest conviction with regard to the merits of the volume 
before us. Mr. Bryce's Essay may seem ephemeral in form, 
I. ut it i< not ephemeral in substance, lie has, in truth, bya 
Bingle youthful effort, placed himself on a level with men who 


have given their lives to historical study. Like the young 
Opuntian in Pindar — 

oiov ev MapadaivL, ov- 

\a8e\s ayeveicov 

fxivev dyu>ua TrpeafivTipcov. 

Mr. Bryce's Essay must be placed in the same rank, and must 
be judged by the same standard, as the most voluminous 
works of professed historians. He has done for historic 
literature a service as great as any of theirs. 

Mr. Bryce's great merit is the clear and thorough way in 
which he sets forth what the mediaeval conception of the 
Empire really was, and especially that religious sentiment 
which so strangely came to attach itself to the power which 
had once been the special representative of heathen pride and 
persecution. This is a part of the subject which we have 
never before seen set forth with the same power and fullness. 
For, of course, in combating the vulgar error that the Roman 
Empire came historically to an end in 476, though Mr. Bryce 
is doing excellent service to the cause of truth, he is not 
putting forth any new discovery. Thus much Sir Francis 
Palgrave has already established for the West, and Mr. 
Finlay for the East. The Eastern side of the subject is, we 
cannot but think, somewhat neglected by Mr. Bryce, as 
perhaps, on the other hand, the Western side is by Mr. 
Finlay. Sir Francis Palgrave and Mr. Bryce have to deal 
with the same side of the subject, but they look at it with 
somewhat different eyes. With Mr. Bryce indeed the Empire 
is his main, or rather sole, subject, while the contributions of 
Sir Francis to Imperial history, valuable as they are, have 
come out incidentally in dealing with matters not immediately 
connected with the Empire. Sir Francis again concerns 
himself mainly with those outward forms and institutions 
which show that the Empire did not formally die. Mr. Bryce 
has more to do with the theory of the Empire itself, and with 
the various shapes through which it passed from Caius Julius 
Caesar Octavianus to Francis the Second of Lorraine. This 
he has done in so complete and admirable a manner that we 

J : : i ; THE HOL Y R OMAN EMPIRE. [Essay 

trust that the essay is only the precursor of a narrative. We 
trust that Mr. Bryce may one day give us a history of the 
mediaeval Roman Empire worthy to be placed by the side of 
Dean Oilman's history of the mediaeval Eoman Church. 

The theory of the mediaeval Empire is that of an universal 
Christian monarchy. The Roman Empire and the Catholic 
Church are two aspects of one society, a society ordained by 
the divine will to spread itself over the whole world. Of 
this society Rome is marked out by divine decree as the pre- 
destined capital, the chief seat alike of spiritual and of 
temporal rule. At the head of this society, in its temporal 
character as an Empire, stands the temporal chief of Christen- 
dom, the Roman Caesar. At its head, in its spiritual character 
as a Church, stands the spiritual chief of Christendom, the 
Roman Pontiff. Caesar and Pontiff alike rule by divine 
right, each as God's immediate Vicar within his own sphere. 
Each ruler is bound to the other by the closest ties. Caesar 
is the Advocate of the Roman Church, bound to defend her 
by the temporal arm against all temporal enemies. The 
Pontiff, on the other hand, though the Caesar holds his rank, 
not of him, but by an independent divine commission, has 
the lofty privilege of personally admitting the Lord of the 
World to his high office, of hallowing the Lord's Anointed, 
and of making him in some sort a partaker in the mysterious 
privileges of the priesthood. The sway alike of Caesar and 
of Pontiff is absolutely universal; it is local, in so far as 
Rome is its chosen seat; but it is in no way national: it is 
doI confined to Italy, or Germany, or Europe; to each alike, 
in bis own Bphere, God has given the heathen for his inheri- 
tance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. 
And each of these Lofty oflices is open to every baptized man; 
each alike is purely elective; each maybe the reward of 
merit in any rank of life oi in any corner of Christendom. 
While smaller offices were closely confined by local or 
aristocratic restrictions, the throne of Augustus and the chair 
of Peter were, in theorj at least, open to the ambition of 


every man of orthodox belief. Even in the darkest times of 
aristocratic exclusiveness, no one dared to lay down as a 
principle that the Roman Emperor, any more than the 
Roman Bishop, need be of princely or noble ancestry. Free- 
dom of birth — Roman citizenship, in short, to clothe mediaeval 
ideas in classical words — was all that was needed. Each 
power alike, as the power of a Yicar of God upon earth, rises 
far above all petty considerations of race or birthplace. The 
Lord of the World has all mankind alike for the objects of 
his paternal rule ; the successor of Saint Peter welcomes all 
alike, from the east and from the west, from the north and 
from the south, within the one universal fold over which he 
has the commission to bind and to loose, to remit and to 

Here is a conception as magnificent as it was impracticable. 
No wonder indeed that such a theory fascinated men's minds 
for ages, and that in such a cause they were willing to spend 
and to be spent. That it never was carried out history tells 
us at the first glance. It is evident that neither the Roman 
Pontiff nor the Roman Ca?sar ever extended their common 
sway over the whole of the world, or even over the whole of 
Christendom. And the two powers, which were in theory 
designed to work in harmony, appear, for the most part, in 
real history as the bitterest of rivals. Still no theory, as a 
theory, can be more magnificent. But how did such a theory 
arise ? What is the Roman Empire and the Roman Emperor ? 
At the two ends of their existence those words express ideas 
as unlike one another as either of them is unlike the theory 
which Otto the Third and Gregory the Fifth did for a 
moment carry out in practice. At the one end of the chain 
we see the heathen magistrate of a heathen commonwealth, 
carefully avoiding all royal titles and royal insignia, as- 
sociating on terms of equality with other distinguished 
citizens, but carefully grasping the reality of absolute power 
by the stealthy process of uniting in his own person a crowd 
of offices which had hitherto been deemed inconsistent with 
one another. Such was the first Roman Emperor, and in his 


days the Roman Pontiff as yet was not. The last Roman 
Emperor was a German King, whose German Kingdom was 
almost as imaginary as his Eoman Empire. He was a 
mighty potentate indeed, but mighty only through the 
possession of hereditary or conquered realms, which mostly 
lay beyond the limits of either Roman or German dominion. 
He was adorned with all the titles, and surrounded with all 
the external homage, which could befit either German King 
or Roman Emperor. But as regards the local Rome he had 
no further connexion, no further authority or influence, than 
might belong to any other Catholic Prince of equal power. 
The Roman Emperor no longer claimed any shadow of juris- 
diction in his ancient capital ; even in his German realm, his 
position had sunk to that of the president of one of the laxest 
of federal bodies. The Lord of the World, the temporal head 
of Christendom, retained nothing but a barren precedence 
over other princes, which other princes were not always ready 
to admit. His position, Roman, German, and oecumenical, 
was, as the event proved, utterly unreal and precarious, ready 
to fall in pieces at the first touch of a vigorous assailant. 
Such were Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the first, and 
Francis the Second, the last, of the Roman Emperors. 
Each is equally unlike the Roman Emperor of the true 
media-val theory. How then did the same title, in theory 
denoting one unchanged office through the whole period, 
come to be attached at different times to personages so widely 
unlike each other ? We will, under Mr. Bryce's guidance, 
run briefly through the various stages through which the 
grand theory of the Christian Empire arose and fell. 

M i . I '.! vrr properly begins at the beginning. He starts with 
sketch of the state of things under the old Roman Empire, 
the old dominion of the Roman Commonwealth under her 
nominal magistrates and practical sovereigns, the Emperors 
of the Julian, Claudian, and other Imperial houses, down to 
tin- changes introduced, first by Diocletian, and then by 
Constantino. The chief point lien- to bo notice*] is the 
absolute wanl of nationality in the Empire. Hut, in this lack 


of nationality, the Roman Empire does but continue the 
Roman Republic. The Roman Republic was intensely local ; 
every association gathered round the one centre, the city of 
Rome ; but it was less national than any other Commonwealth 
in all history. It grew, in fact, by gradually extending its 
franchise over Latium, Italy, and the whole Mediterranean 
world. The edict of Caracalla, whatever were its motives, 
did but put the finishing touch to the work begun by the 
mythical Romulus in his league with the Sabine Tatius. 
From the Ocean to the Euphrates, the civilized world was 
now Roman in name, and from the Ocean to Mount Taurus 
it was Roman in feeling. Mr. Bryce, we think, overrates the 
distinct nationality of the Greeks of this age, and underrates 
that of Syria and Egypt, provinces which never really became 
either Roman or Greek. Then came, under Diocletian and 
Constantine, the transformation of the Empire into something 
like an avowed royalty — we can hardly say an avowed 
monarchy, seeing that the system of Diocletian involved the 
simultaneous reign of more than one Emperor. Under this 
system too the Old Rome ceased to be the seat of govern- 
ment. Milan and Nikomedeia became Imperial cities, till 
Constantine made a better and more permanent choice than 
all in his New Rome by the Bosporos. 

With Constantine too comes in a new element more im- 
portant than all. Hitherto we have indeed had a Roman 
Empire, but it has as yet had no claim whatever, in a Chris- 
tian sense, to the epithet of Holy. Hitherto Rome and 
her princes have been the enemies of the Faith, drunken 
with the blood of the saints. But from the conversion of 
Constantine onwards, the epithet, though not yet formally 
given, was in truth practically deserved. Rome and Chris- 
tianity formed so close an alliance that, in at least one 
portion of the Empire, the names Roman and Christian 
became synonymous.* Emperors presided in the councils of 

The Greek, mediaeval aud modern, down to the late classical revival, 
was indifferently called 'Pw/inios and Xpianavos. "EXKtjv, as in the New 
Testament, expressed only the Paganism of a past age. 


the Church; Christian ecclesiastics obtained the rank of 
high temporal dignitaries; orthodoxy and loyalty, heresy 
and treason, became almost convertible terms. Christianity, 
in fact, became the religion of the Eoman Empire, universal 
within its limits, but making hardly any progress beyond 
them. And so it is to this day. Christianity still remains 
all but exclusively the religion of Europe and of European 
colonies, that is, of those nations which either formed part 
of the Roman Empire, or came within the range of Eome's 
civilizing influence. Thus the Empire, which once had been 
the bitterest foe of the Gospel, now became inseparably con- 
nected with its profession. The heathen sanctity which had 
once hedged in the Emperor was now exchanged for a sanc- 
tity of another kind. The High Pontiff of Pagan Rome 
passed by easy steps into the Anointed of the Lord, the 
temporal chief of Christendom. 

The Empire then and the Emperor thus became Holy ; 
but yet the Empire, even in the East, was not a Caliphate. 
The successor of Mahoniet inherited alike the temporal and 
the spiritual functions of the Prophet. In the ^Mahometan 

>tem, Church and State needed not to be united, because 
they had never been distinct. Rut closely as the Roman 
Empire and the Christian Church became united, one might 
almost say identified, traces still remained of the days when 
they had been distinct and hostile bodies. The internal 
organization of the Church, the gradations of its hierarchy, 
the rights of Bishops and of Councils, had grown up nearly 
to perfection before the Empire became Christian. The con- 
stitution of the Chuivh was a kind of theocratic democracy. 
The liisliop's ••oinmission was divine, proceeding neither from 
the prince nor from the people; but it was the popular voice, 
and not the voice of th<- priesthood alone, which marked out 
the person on whom thai divine commission should be 
bestowed. Of Buch an organization the Emperor might 
be some the patron, the protector, the external ruler, but he 
could no1 strictly become the head. The spiritual power 
thus remained something in close alliance with the temporal, 


but still something distinct. The two were never so com- 
pletely fused together in the Imperial idea as they were in 
the idea of the Caliphate. In the East the priesthood became 
subservient ; in the West it became independent, and at last 
hostile. But in either case it was distinct. Whether 
Emperors deposed Patriarchs or Popes excommunicated 
Emperors, the Pontiff and the Emperor were two distinct 
persons. In the Mahometan system the Caliph is Pontiff 
and Emperor in one. 

From the time of Constantine, Constantinople, the New 
Rome, became the chief seat of Empire ; towards the end of 
the fifth century it became the only seat. It should never 
be forgotten, and Mr. Bryce calls all due attention to the 
fact, that the event of the year 476, so often mistaken for a 
fall of the Roman Empire, was, in its form, a reunion of the 
Western Empire to the Eastern. Here again, nothing is 
easier than to say that this is an unreal, unpractical view. It 
is an obvious thing to argue that Italy was not reunited to 
the East, but that the Roman dominion was destroyed alto- 
gether ; that the supremacy of the Eastern Emperors in 
Italy was merely nominal, and the pretended reunion of the 
Empire merely an excuse to save their foolish pride. Be it 
so ; but, as we said before on the general subject, when words 
and forms, however unreal in themselves, exercise a practical 
influence on men's actions, they cease to be unreal. The 
majesty of Rome still lived in men's minds ; the Roman 
Emperor, the Roman Consuls, the Roman Senate and 
People, still went on. Odoacer and Theodoric might reign 
as national Kings over their own people ;* but the Roman 
population of Italy cheated themselves into the belief that 
the Barbarian King was merely a lieutenant of the absent 

* Mr. Bryce, otherwise most accurate in his account of these events, 
repeats the common statement that Odoacer assumed the title of " King of 
Italy." We know of no ancient authority for this statement, and it is 
most unlikely in itself. Territorial titles were not in use till some ages 
later, and no one would be so unlikely to assume a style of this kind as one 
who professed himself to be an Imperial lieutenant. [This slip has been 
corrected by Mr. Bryce in his third edition, p. 26.] 


Emperor. Such a belief might be a delusion, but it was a 
living belief, and it did not always remain a delusion. 
When Belisarius, in the year of his consulship, landed in 
Italy, he appeared to the Roman population, not as a foreign 
conqueror, but as a deliverer come to restore them to their 
natural relation to their lawful sovereign. And as Mr. Bryce 
truly observes, unless we remember that the line of Emperors 
never ceased, that from 476 to 800 the Byzantine Caesar 
was always in theory, often in practice, recognized as the 
lawful Lord of Rome and Italy, it is impossible rightly to 
understand the true significance of the assumption of the 
Empire by Charles the Great.* 

Almost the only defect of any consequence in Mr. Bryce's 
work is that he seems hardly to realize the importance, in 
any theory of the Empire, alike of the Eastern Empire and 
of the Eastern Church. He shows neither ignorance, nor con- 
cealment, nor even misconception of the facts. But he hardly 
gives the facts their full prominence. The truth is that the 
existence of Eastern Christendom, as it is the great stum- 
bling-block of the Papal theory, is also the great stumbling- 
block of the Imperial theory. Ingenious men might theorize 
about the two lights and the two swords, and argue whether 
of the twain were the brighter and the stronger. They might 
debate whether the Pope held of the Emperor, or the Em- 
peror of the Pope; but it was agreed on both sides that 
there could be only one Pope and one Emperor. These mag- 
nificent theories of the Church and the Empire were in truth 
set aside by the fact that a large portion of Christendom, 
that portion too which could most truly claim to represent 
unchanged the earliest traditions both of the Church and of 
the Empire, acknowledged no Pope at all, and acknowledged 
a rival Emperor. It is impossible to deny that, as far as 
uninterrupted political succession went, it was the Eastern 

* Mr. Bryoe remarks that, in the Middle Ages, the Western Emperors 
of the fifth century seem to have been quite forgotten. The lists of 
Emperors from Augustus to Maximilian or Rudolf or Ferdinand, always 
goon uninterruptedly in tin' Eastern tine from Theodosius to Constantine 
the Sixth. 


and not the Western Emperor who was the lineal heir of the 
old Caesars. The act which placed Charles the Great on the 
Imperial throne was strictly a revolt, a justifiable revolt, it 
might be, but still a revolt. It was in the East, and in the 
East alone, that the Imperial titles and Imperial traditions — 
in a word, the whole political heritage of Eome — continued 
absolutely unbroken down to the days of the Frank Conquest. 
The Greek prince whom the Crusaders hurled from the Theo- 
dosian Column, was, as Mr. Finlay says, a truer successor of 
Augustus than was Frederick Barbarossa. The Eastern 
Church too presented even a more practical answer to the 
claims of the Western Pontiff than the Eastern Empire did 
to the claims of the Western Caesar. The universal dominion 
of either was a theory, and only a theory, as long as their 
dominion reached, not to the world's end, not even to the 
Euphrates, but only to the Hadriatic. Alike in the days of 
Otto and in the days of Dante, the most unchanged portion 
of the Eoman world still refused to acknowledge the sway of 
either the Western Caesar or the Western Pontiff. In truth, 
the elaborate theories of the mediaeval Empire were not pro- 
pounded, and could not with any decency have been pro- 
pounded, as long as the Eastern Church and Empire retained 
their old position. When Dante wrote, an Emperor of the 
Romans still reigned at Constantinople, but he had sunk to 
be simply one amidst a crowd of Eastern princes, Greek and 
Frank.* By that time too there had begun to be some 
ground for bringing the charge of schism against the ancient 
Churches of the East. There was at least a rjretext for 
saying that the Church of Constantinople had been reconciled 
to the Church of Eome, and had again fallen away. Such a 
theory could hardly have been put forth in the days of the 
great Macedonian Emperors, when the New Eome, and not 
the Old, was still mistress of the Mediterranean, and when 
a large portion of the Italian peninsula still owed allegiance 
to the Eastern and not to the Western Caesar. Mr. Bryce 

* Dante, De Monorchia, iii. 10. Scindere imperium esset deslruere 
ipsum, consistente imperio in unitate monarchia? universalis. 


does not forget these things ; but we cannot think that he 
gives them all the prominence which they certainly deserve.* 
From the accession of Charles the Great onwards, Mr. 
Bryce is thoroughly at home. During the whole of the 
eighth century, the Imperial power in Italy had been gra- 
dually waning. Lombard invasions had narrowed the boun- 
dary of the Imperial province, and the Iconoclast controversy 
had shaken the loyalty of the subjects of the Empire. 
The Bishop of lionie had stood forth as the champion alike of 
orthodoxy and of nationality, and the practical rule of the city 
had been transferred to the Frankisk King. Still the tie was 
not formally severed ; the image and superscription of Caesar 
still appeared on the coin of his Western capital, and Pippin 
and Charles ruled, like Odoacer, by no higher title than that of 
Patrician. At last the accession of Eirene filled up the measure 
of Western indignation. The throne of Augustus could not be 
lawfully filled by a woman, least of all by a woman who raised 
herself to power by the deposition and blinding of her own 
child. The throne was vacant ; the Christian world could not 
remain without an Emperor :f the Senate and People of the 
Old Pome had too long submitted to the dictation of the New ; 
they asserted their dormant rights, and chose their Patrician 
Charles, not as the founder of a new Empire, not as the re- 
storer of a fallen Empire, but as the lawful successor of their 
last lawful sovereign, the injured Constantine the Sixth. 
This belief in the absolute continuity of the Empire is the 

[This omission is largely supplied in Mr. Bryce's third edition, p. 189.] 
t Chron. Moissiac, A. 801 (Pertz, Mon. Hist. Germ. i. 505) : " Quum 
enim apud Romam nunc prsafatus Imperator moraretur, delati quidam 
sunt ad eum, dicentes quod apud Gtsbcos nomen Imperatoris cessassct, et 
femina apud cos nomen Imperii teneret, Serena nomine, qua? filium suum 
Imperatorem fraude captum, oculos eruit, et sibi nomen Imperii usurpavit, 
ut Atalia in libro Regum le«itur fecisse. Audito, Leo Papa et omnis con- 
vent us episcoporum et sacerdotum sou abbatum, ct senatus Francorum et 
omnes majores natu Romanorum, cum rcliquo Christiano populo consilium 
habuerunt, at ipsum Carolum, Rcgem Francorum, Imperatorem nominare 
deberent, qui Romam matrem Imperii tenebat, ubi semper Ca3sares et Im- 
peratoreg sedere soldi fuerunt ; et ne pagani insultarent Christianis, si 
[mperatorie oomen apud Christianos cesssaset." 


key to the whole theory ; but it is just the point by which 
so many readers and writers break down, and fail to take in 
the true character of the election of Charles as it seemed 
to the men of his own time. Never was the true aspect of 
the case more thoroughly understood and more vigorously set 
forth than it has been by Mr. Bryce. And few descriptions in 
the English language surpass his brilliant picture of the 
election and coronation of the first Teutonic Caesar. 

Thus was accomplished that revolution of which, in the 
W est at least, no man had hitherto dared to dream. As yet no 
man of avowed Barbarian blood had dared to assume the 
Imperial rank. Alaric, Ricimer, Chlodwig, Theodoric, Pippin 
himself, had never dared to call themselves Emperors of the 
Romans. They might be Kings of their own people and 
Roman Consuls or Patricians, they might create or depose 
Emperors, but the Empire itself was beyond them. But now 
a man of Teutonic blood and speech was, by the election of 
the Old Rome, placed on her Imperial throne. The Frankish 
King became a Roman Caesar. And, what should never be 
forgotten, he claimed, after his Imperial coronation, to reign 
not only as King but as Csasar over the whole of his 
dominions. Those who had already sworn allegiance to the 
King were now called on afresh to swear allegiance to 
the Emperor. Thus was the dominion of Rome and her 
Emperor again formally extended, alike over large provinces 
which had been wrested from the Empire and over vast 
regions which the older Caesars had never held. The Roman 
eagle was planted again on the banks of the Ebro, and 
planted fur the first time on the banks of the Eider. When 
Germany swore allegiance to the new Augustus, the defeat of 
Varus might be thought to be avenged at the hands of one 
who, in blood and speech and manners, was the true successor 
of Arminius. If Greece fed captive her Roman conqueror, 
Rome now still more truly led captive the Barbarian who 
strove to hide, even from himself, the fact that he had 
conquered her. 

All this, it is easy to say, was mere unreality and delusion. 



It is easy to argue that Charles was not a Roman Emperor in 
the same sense as Augustus, or even as Augustulus. With 
what right could he be called the successor of Constantine 
the Sixth, when the dominions of the two princes had hardly 
a square mile of ground in common, while the succession of 
Byzantine Emperors continued undisturbed, and while they 
bore sway even over some portions of Italy itself? Charles, 
it may be argued, was simply a Teutonic King, who satisfied 
a mere predjudice on the part of a portion of his subjects 
by assuming an empty title, a title which neither extended 
his rule over new dominions nor increased his prerogative 
within the old. 

All this, no doubt, is true ; it is obvious enough to us at 
the distance of a thousand years. But it was not obvious 
to men at the time. And, as men's actions in all ages have 
been governed, not by what, with further knowledge, they 
might have thought, but by what they actually did know 
and think, the assumption of the Imperial rank by Charles 
was neither unreal nor illusory, because it led to important 
practical results. In the eyes of all Charles's Italian 
subjects, probably in the eyes of many of his Gaulish sub- 
jects, the assumption of the Roman title made all the dif- 
ference between lawful and unlawful dominion. The King 
of the Franks was a Barbarian conqueror, or at best a 
Barbarian deliverer; in the Emperor of the Romans men 
beheld the restorer of lawful and orderly government, after 
a Long and violent interruption. Even in the eyes of his 
own Germans, Charles Augustus became, in some vague way, 
greater and holier than Charles the mere Erankish King. 
And in their exaltation of its prince the nation felt itself 
exalted also. The form of words did not as yet exist, but 
the Weal dow saw again a Holy Roman Empire, and it was 
imu a "Holj Eoman Empire of the German Nation." 

Thia truth however was nni as yet legally acknowledged; 
indeed it did not as yel exist in all its practical fulness. 
Charles was indeed a German King; but the possession of 
the Imperial crown by ;i German King did not identify the 


Imperial crown with the German nation in the same way 
that it did from the time of Otto the Great onward. The 
difference between the position of Charles and that of Otto is 
this. Otto was indeed the most powerful King of the West, 
but he was not the only King. The Imperial crown A\as 
annexed to the distinct local Kingdom of the Eastern Franks, 
when it might conceivably have been annexed to the King- 
dom of the Burgundians, or even to the Kingdom of the 
Western Franks. There thus arose, from Otto onwards, a 
direct connexion between the Eoman Empire and Germany 
as a distinct country and nation, one country and nation out 
of several possible competitors. But Charles had been far more 
than all this : he was not only the most powerful King, but 
he was in some sense the only King. He might claim to be 
Lord of the World in a truer sense than any Emperor after 
his son, in as true a sense as any Emperor since Theodosius. 
Setting aside our own island, which passed in some sort 
for another world, Charles was actually either the immediate 
sovereign or the suzerain lord of all Western Christendom. 
The East was indeed ruled by a second Caesar, who might, 
according to circumstances, be looked on either as an 
Imperial rival, a Tetricus or a Carausius, or as an Imperial 
colleague, a Yalens or an Arcadius. But the West was all 
his own. He ruled, and, after his Imperial coronation, he 
ruled distinctly as Koman Augustus, over all the lands from 
tin' Ocean and the Ebro to the Elbe and the Theiss. His 
frontiers were surrounded, as the frontiers of Rome were in 
ancient times, by a string of allied and tributary rulers, the 
antitypes of the Massinissas and the Herods. In such a 
dominion as this the mere Frankish nationality might well 
seem to be lost : Frank, Gaul, Burgundiau, Italian, might 
seem to be alike subjects of Caesar, or, if they better liked the 
title, citizens of Eome. Of course this appearance of uni- 
versal dominion was delusive ; but it was only in human 
nature that men should at the time be deluded by it. 

But such an Empire as this needed the arm of Charles the 
Great himself to support it. One hardly knows whether it 

l 2 


was in folly or in wisdom, because he saw not the consequences 
or because he saw that the consequences were unavoidable, 
that Charles laid down the principle of a division of his 
dominions among his sons. The Empire was still to be one 
and indivisible, but the Emperor was to reign only as the 
superior lord over several kings of his own house. Under 
Charles himself, his sons had reigned as Kings over Italy 
and Aquitaine, and he had ever found them his loyal vice- 
gerents. Perhaps he hardly foresaw that the submission 
which was willingly yielded to a father, and such a father, 
would not be so willingly yielded to a brother, an uncle, or 
perhaps a distant cousin. Perhaps he saw that no hand but 
his own could keep his dominions together ; that it was better 
to make the best of a sad necessity ; that it was something to 
secure a nominal and theoretical unity through the vassalage 
of all the Kings to the Imperial head of the family. Anyhow 
he had precedents enough, Roman and Frankish. He was 
only treading in the steps of Chlodwig and of Pippin, and he 
may well have thought that ho was treading in the steps of 
Diocletian, Constantino, and Theodosius. At all events, from 
tho death of Lewis the Pious, or rather from the death of 
Charles himself, a state of division begins ; Kings and 
Emperors rise and fall ; the Empire is sometimes nominally, 
always practically, in abeyance. For one moment, under 
Charles the Fat, nearly the whole Empire is reunited; but, 
with his deposition in 888, the Eastern and the Western 
Franks, Francia Teutonica and Francia Latina — in modern 
language, Germany and France— are parted asunder for ever. 
Germany, West-France, Burgundy, Italy, become distinct 
Kingdoms, ruled for the most part by Kings who are not of 
the blood of the Great Charles. Through the first half of 
the ninth century, whenever there was an Emperor at all, 
instead of beiug Lord of tho world, he was at most a King of 
Italy, with a very feeble hold indeed even on his peninsular 

Then came the revival under Otto the Great, the founda- 
tion of the Roman Empire under its latest form. Tho 


Kingdoms of Germany and Italy were now united, and their 
common King, though he did not as yet assume the title, 
was, from the moment of his coronation at Aachen, Roman 
Emperor-elect, " Rex Romanorum in Caesarem promo- 
vendus." Once only, on the extinction of the direct line of 
the Ottos, did Italy again strive to establish a real national 
King. Though Kings of Italy were once or twice elected in 
later times in opposition to the reigning King or Emperor, 
they were discontented or rebellious princes of the Imperial 
house, who certainly had no mind to confine their rule to 
Italy, if they could extend it over Germany and Burgundy 
also. From the days of Otto the principle was gradually 
established that the chosen King of Germany acquired, as 
such, a right to the royal crowns of Italy and Burgundy* and 
to the Imperial crown of Rome. He was not Emperor till he 
had been crowned at Rome by the Roman Pontiff; but he, 
and no other, had a right to become Emperor. This was a 
state of things very different from the Empire of the first 
Caesars, very different from the Empire of Charles, but it was 
still more widely different from the " phantom Empire," to 
use Mr. Bryce's words, of Guy and Berenger. The union of 
three out of the four Kingdoms into which the dominions of 
Charles had split, made the Empire, if not an universal 
monarchy, yet a power which had as yet no rival in Western 
Europe. France — modern, Celtic, Capetian, Parisian, France 
— looked exceedingly like a revolted province, wrongfully 
a limb cut off from the body of the Empire and from the sway 
of the successor of Charles. States of which the old Caesars 
had never heard — Denmark, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, 
owed a homage, more or less practical, to the Saxon, Frankish, 
or Swabian Augustus. The Holy Roman Empire had now 
assumed essentially the same form which it retained down to 
1806 ; another distinct step had been taken towards making 
it the special heritage of the German nation. 

* After the acquisition of the Kingdom of Burgundy in 1032. Mr. 
Bryce has an important note on the various uses of the word Burgundy, 
the most fluctuating and perplexing name in history. 


It is at this point, the beginning of the Empire in its last 
shape, that Mr. Bryce stops to review the Imperial theory as it 
was understood in the Middle Ages. What that theory was 
we hare already tried to set forth ; but it should be borne in 
mind that the theory grew in clearness and fulness, and more- 
over that the more clearly men saw that the existing Empire 
failed to answer their ideal conception, the more they went on 
to theorize about the ideal Empire. We may be sure that 
neither Otto the Great nor any man of his time could have set 
forth the Imperial creed in the distinct and elaborate shape into 
which it was thrown by Dante. Still the essential elements 
of the theory existed from the beginning. It was held, from 
the days of Otto, that the eternal fitness of things required 
an imiversal temporal and an universal spiritual chief of 
Christendom ; it was held that those chiefs were to be looked 
for in the Roman Emperor and the Roman Pontiff; and 
lastly, it was held that the true Roman Emperor was to be 
looked for in the German King. No Emperor was ever so 
thoroughly imbued with these notions as Otto the Third, who 
seems to have seriously intended to make Rome, in fact as 
well as in name, the seat of his Empire, and thence to rule 
the world by the help of a Pontiff like-minded with himself. 
Of the schemes, or rather the visions, of this wonderful young 
prince, so sadly cut off in the days of his brightest promise, 
Mr. Bryce gives us an eloquent picture, which forms one of 
the gems of his book. 

The union in one person of the incongruous functions of 
German King and Roman Emperor is a fact which Mr. Bryce 
sets forth with much power and clearness. He contrasts the 
two offices, "the one centralized, the other local; the one 
resting on a sublime theory, the other the rude offspring of 
anarchy; the one gathering all power into the hands of an 
irresponsible monarch, the other limiting his rights, and 
authorizing resistance to his commands ; the one demanding 
tli" equality of all citizens as creatures equal before heaven, 
the other bound ap with an aristocracy the proudest, and in 
its gradations of rank the most exact, that Europe had ever 


seen." He then goes on to show how these two conceptions 
were fused into a third different from either ; how the Em- 
peror-King strove to merge his kingship in his Empire ; how 
the titles of German royalty were dropped for ages, so that 
Csesar was held to rule as Caesar no less in Germany than in 
Italy ; how again, by a natural interchange of thought, the 
idea of the Empire became mingled with feudal notions ; 
how the Emperor became a Lord of the World, not as a 
direct ruler, like the old Caesars, but as an universal suzerain, 
of whom local Kings and Dukes and Commonwealths might 
hold as his vassals, while he himself held his Empire imme- 
diately of God alone. There can be no doubt that, in Ger- 
many itself, the effect of the union of the Kingdom with the 
Empire was the weakening and the final destruction of the 
royal power. The Germany of the Ottos and the Henries, 
divided and turbulent as it seems when compared with 
modern centralized states, was actually the most united 
power in Western Europe, incomparably more united than 
contemporary England or France. The whole later history 
of Germany is simply a history of the steps by which this 
once united realm fell to pieces. The King gradually lost 
all real power, and yet he remained to the last surrounded 
by a halo of outward reverence beyond all other Kings. The 
full examination of the causes of these phenomena belongs 
to German history. But it cannot be doubted that the 
chief cause of all was the fact that the German Kina: was 
also Koinan Emperor. It was not only that their Italian 
claims and titles led the German Kings into never-endimr 
Italian wars, to the neglect of true German interests. This 
outward and palpable cause had doubtless a good deal to do 
with the matter ; but this was by no means all. The true 
causes lie deeper. The Emperor, Lord of the World, became, 
like the supreme deities of some mythologies, too great to 
act with effect as the local King of a national kingdom. 
His local kingship was forgotten. The Emperors strove to 
merge their kingship in the Empire, and they did merge it 
in the Empire, though in an opposite way from that which 


they had intended. They would reign as Emperors and not 
as Kings, meaning to reign as Emperors with more absolute 
and undisputed power. They did reign as Emperors and 
not as Kings, because the Imperial power was found to be 
practically far less effective than the royal power. The 
Emperor, Lord of the World, exercised only a most vague 
and nominal supremacy beyond the limits of his own King- 
doms ; why, now that he reigned as Cresar rather than as 
King, should Caosar claim any more effective authority over 
Germany, Burgundy, and Italy, than he held over Gaul or 
Spain or Britain ? He was Emperor alike in all lands ; why 
should his jurisdiction, nominal in one land, be any more 
practical in another ? Thus, because their suzerain was of 
greater dignity than all other suzerains, did the vassal 
princes of Germany obtain a more complete independence 
than the vassal princes of any other realm. Again, the 
Empire was in its own nature elective. Mere kingdoms or 
duchies, mere local sovereignties, might pass from father to 
son like private estates ; but the Empire, the chieftainship 
of Christendom, the temporal vicarship of God upon earth, 
could not be exposed to the chances of hereditary succession ; 
it must remain as the loftiest of prizes, the fitting object of 
ambition for the worthiest of Roman citizens, that is, now, 
for all baptized men above the rank of a serf. The practical 
effect of this splendid theory was that, while the crowns of 
England and France became hereditary, the crown of Ger- 
many, as inseparable from the Empire, became purely 
< -li'ctive.* Then followed the consequences which, in any 
but a very early state of society, are sure to follow on the 
establishment of a purely elective kingship. Each Emperor, 
uncertain whether he would bo able to transmit his dignity 
to bis Bon, thought more of the aggrandizement of his family 
than of maintaining the dignity of his crown. Escheated or 

* Of course the old Teutonic law, in Germany and everywhere else, was 
election out of one royal family, bul in England and France the hereditary 
element in this Bj rew at the expense of the elective, while in 

I lermany the |. as reverst d. 


forfeited fiefs, which in France would have gone to swell the 
royal domain, were employed in Germany to provide princi- 
palities for children whose succession to anything higher was 
uncertain. The election of each Emperor was commonly 
purchased by concessions to the Electors, and if an Emperor 
was so lucky as to procure the election of his son as King of 
the Romans during his lifetime, that special favour was pur- 
chased by further concessions still. The Empire sank to such 
a degree of poverty that it became absolutely necessary to 
elect a prince whose hereditary dominions were large enough 
to enable him to maintain his Imperial rank. Such princes 
made their hereditary dominions their first object, and re- 
treated altogether to their hereditary capitals, sometimes 
beyond the limits of Roman or German dominion. Italy fell 
away, Burgundy was gradually swallowed up by France. 
The Holy Roman Empire was cut down to a German King- 
dom, whose very royalty was little more than a pageant. 
As if in some desperate hope of reviving the royal authority, 
Maximilian revived the royal title,* almost forgotten since 
the days of Otto. And by a strange but inevitable reaction, 
the crown which had become purely elective became from 
this time practically hereditary. The form of election was 
never dropped, but chief after chief of the Austrian house 
was chosen, because national feeling revolted from choosing 
a stranger, while no other German Prince could be found 
equal to bearing the burthen. Thus both the Roman 
Empire and the German Kingdom came to be looked on as 
part of the heritage of the House of Austria.! From Charles 
the Fifth onwards, the Roman Emperor was again a mighty 
prince, but his might was neither as Roman Emperor nor as 

* The old titles, " Rex Orientalium Francorum," etc., were gradually 
dropped under the Ottos. Henceforth the Emperor, though crowned at 
Aachen and sometimes at Aries, took no title but "Imperator" or "Rex 
Romanorum." Maximilian restored the ancient style under the form of" Rex 
Germanise," "Konig in Germanien." This description was common in the 
ninth century, though it was not used as a formal title. 

t The election of Charles the Seventh of Bavaria was no exception. He 
claimed the Austrian succession. 


German King. The Emperor-King, with his Kingdom and 
his Empire, sank, as we have already said, to be the president 
of one of the laxest of federal bodies. 

Thus it was that the acquisition of the Imperial dignity 
crushed and broke up the ancient Kingdom of the Eastern 
Franks. Yet the influence of that splendid possession was 
not wholly destructive. It preserved in the very act of weak- 
ening. The Imperial idea was like the ivy which first makes 
a wall ruinous, and then keeps it from falling. The possession 
of Empire in every way lessened the real power and influence 
of the Kingdom, but it ensured its existence. We may 
be sure that any other Kingdom whose King retained so 
little real authority as the King of Germany would have 
fallen asunder far sooner than Germany did. But the King 
of Germany was also the Koman Emperor ; as such he was 
surrounded by an atmosphere of vague majesty beyond all 
other Kings ; he was the object of a mysterious reverence, 
which did not hinder his vassals from robbing him of all 
effectual prerogatives, but which kept them back from the 
very thought of formally abolishing his office. The Roman 
Empire, as far as any real power or dignity was concerned, 
was buried in the grave of Frederick the Wonder of the 
World. But its ghost lingered on for five hundred and fifty 
years. Caesar survived the Interregnum; he survived the 
Golden Bull ; he survived the Reformation ; he survived the 
Peace of Westphalia. The Roman Emperors, powerful as 
heads of the Austrian House, became, as Kings and Caesars, 
almost as vain a pageant as a Merowingian King or an Abbas- 
side Caliph of Egypt. The temporal head of Christendom 
saw half of his own kingdom fall away into heresy. He 
saw liis vassals, great and small, assume all the rights of inde- 
pendent sovereigns. He saw cities and provinces fall away 
one by one, some assuming perfect republican independence,* 
some swallowed up by royal or revolutionary France. But 

The Con one of Switzerland and the United Provinces, whose 

independence of the Empire, practically established Long before, was not 
formally recognis* d nil L6 Is. 


the frail bark which carried Caesar and his fortunes still kept 
on its course amid so many contending blasts. It was only 
when the magic spell of the name of Empire was dissolved 
by the rise of upstart and rival Emperors, that the fabric at 
last gave way. The assumption of the Imperial title by the 
Muscovite was the first step, but this alone did but little. 
The Kussian Empire might be looked upon as in some vague 
way representing the Empire of Byzantium, or its sovereign 
might be spoken of as Emperor according to that rough 
analogy which confers the Imperial title on the barbaric 
princes of China and Morocco. It was not till a rival appeared 
close on its own ground that the Holy Eoman Empire of the 
German Nation fell utterly asunder. Side by side with the 
Emperor of the Romans suddenly arose an " Emperor of the 
French," giving himself out, with consummate but plausible 
impudence, as the true successor of the Great Charles. The 
Kingdom of Italy, almost forgotten since the days of the 
Hohenstaufen, arose again to place a new diadem on the 
same presumptuous brow. A King of Rome, a title unheard 
of since the days of Tarquin, next appeared, as if to mock 
the long line of German "Reges Romanorum." The as- 
sumption of the Imperial title by Buonaparte was met by 
Francis the Second in a way which showed that he must 
almost have forgotten his own existence. He, the King of 
Germany and Roman Emperor-elect, could find no better 
means to put himself on a level with the Corsican usurper 
than to add to his style the monstrous, ludicrous, and mean- 
ingless addition of " Hereditary Emperor of Austria." * An 

* " Erbk&\sei von Oesterreich," as distinguished from " erwahlter romi- 
Bcher Kaiser.'' This, as Mr. Bryce remarks, besides its absurdity in 
other ways, implies a complete forget fulness of the meaning of the word 
"erwahlter" The title of " erwahlter romischer Kaiser," " Eomanorum 
Imperator electus," was introduced by Maximilian, under Papal sanction, to 
express what hitherto had been expressed by " Rex Romanorum in Csesarem 
pii nuovendus," that is, a prince elected at Frankfurt and crowned at Aachen 
(latterly crowned at Frankfurt also), but not yet Emperor, because not yet 
crowned at Rome by the Pope. This was the condition of all the Emperors 
since Charles the Fifth, none of whom were crowned by the Pope. They 
were therefore only " Emperors-elect," just like a Bishop-elect, one, that 


hereditary Emperor of Lichtenstein would have seemed no 
greater absurdity in the eyes of Charles or Otto or Frederick. 
When it had come to this, it was time that the old titles of 
Roine and C4ermany should pass away. As the elective King 
had made himself an hereditary Emperor, Dukes and Elec- 
tors thought they had an equal right to make themselves 
hereditary Kings. Their new-fangled Majesties and High- 
nesses revolted against their renegade overlord, and found a 
willing protector west of the Rhine. The Roman Empire 
and the German Kingdom were now no more ; the foreign 
Emperor declared that he did not recognise their existence,* 
and its own Imperial chief proclaimed the final dissolution 
of the creation of Augustus, Charles, and Otto, in a document 
in which, after the formal enumeration of his own now 
degraded titles, the name of Eome does not occur.t 

AYe have thus hurried through a period of more than 
eight hundred years, the revolutions of which are set forth by 
Mr. Bryce with singular clearness and power. He brings 
forth in its due prominence the great reign of Henry the 
Third, the moment when the Empire reached its highest pitch 
of real power. This was followed by the struggles between 
the spiritual and temporal powers under his son and grand- 

is, chosen, but not yet consecrated. But when " .EV&kaiser " could be opposed 
to " erwShlter Kaiser," it was clear that people fancied that erwdhUer 
meant, not " elect," but elective as opposed to hereditary. In short, Francis 
the Second seems to have altogether forgotten who and what ho was. 

In the Peace of Presburg, in 1805, the Emperor is called throughout 
" Empereur (l'AUemagne et d'Autriche ;" in the heading ho is " Kaiser von 
Oesterrcich " only. 

* See the addition made by Buonaparte to the Act of Confederation of 
the Rhine: "Sa Majeste* . . . ne reconnoit plus l'existence de la con- 
Btitution germanique." 

t The form used throughout is "d-'iitsches Reich." But the titles run 
as of old, "erwShlter romischer Kaiser," "Konig in Germanien," etc.; 
only the new-fasbioned " Erbkaiser von Oesterrcich " is thrust in between 
them. Even the w zu alien Zeiten Mehrer des Reichs," the old ludicrous 
mistranslation of " semper Augustus," is not left out in the document 
which proclaims the Empire to have come to an end. 


son, which showed how vain was the theory which expected 
the Roman Ca?sar and the Roman Pontiff to pull together in 
harmony. But Mr. Bryce's highest enthusiasm centres round 
the great House of Swabia. He gives us a brilliant picture 
of the reign of Frederick Barbarossa, into whose real cha- 
racter and position we need hardly say that he fully enters. 
On the reign of his grandson, " Fridericus stupor mundi et 
innovator mirabilis," Mr. Bryce is less full and less eloquent 
than we should have expected ; but he clearly points out the 
importance of his reign as an epoch in Imperial history, and 
marks out boldly the fact that " with Frederick fell the 
Empire." The Empire, in short, from Rudolf onwards, is a 
revival, something analogous to the Empire of the Palaiologoi 
at Constantinople. Internal disorganization had done in 
the Western Empire what foreign conquest had done in the 
Eastern. Rudolf, Adolf, Albert, were mere German Kings ; 
they never crossed the Alps to assume either the golden crown 
of Rome or the iron crown of Monza. With Henry the Seventh 
we reach a new period, or rather his reign seems like a few 
years transported onwards from an earlier time. The revival 
of classical learning had given a revived impulse to the 
Imperial idea, just as the revival of the Civil Law had done 
at an earlier time. Of the ideas with which men then looked 
upon the Empire, Dante, in his work Be Monarchid, is the 
great exponent. It must not be thought for a moment that 
Dante's subject is monarchy, in the common sense of the 
word, royal government as opposed to aristocracy or demo- 
cracy. With him Monarchia is synonymous with Imperium. 
There may be many Kings and princes, but there is only 
one Monarch, one universal chief, the Roman Emperor. He 
proves elaborately, in the peculiar syle of reasoning current 
in that age, that an universal Monarch is necessary, that the 
Roman Emperor is of right the universal monarch, that the 
Emperor does not hold his crown of the Pope, but imme- 
diately of God alone. But he has not a word of argument to 
show that the German King is really the Roman Emperor ; 
that is assumed as a matter of course; there was no need to 


prove, because nobody doubted, that whatever belonged of 
right to Augustus Caesar belonged of right to his lawful 
successor, Henry of Lutzelburg. On this branch of the argu- 
ment — one which, to our notions, stood quite as much in need 
of proof as any of the others — Dante does not vouchsafe a 
single line. The illusion survived untouched. 

We have not room to follow Mr. Bryce through all the 
stages of the later German history, when the Empire had lost 
all Roman and Imperial character, when the Emperor was 
again a mere German King, or rather a mere President of a 
German Confederation. The steps by which Germany sank 
from a Kingdom into a Confederation have an interest of their 
own, but it is one which more closely touches Federal than 
Imperial history. Germany is, as far as we know, the only 
example of a Confederation which arose, not out of the union 
of elements before distinct, but out of the dissolution of a 
formerly existing kingdom.* From the Peace of Westphalia 
— we might almost say from the Interregnum onwards — the 
Imperial historian has little more to do than to watch the 
strange and blind affection with which men clave to the mere 
name of what had once been great and glorious. And yet 
we have seen that even that name was not without its prac- 
tical effect. If, in Mr. Bryce's emphatic words, " the German 
Kingdom broke down beneath the weight of the Roman Em- 
pire," it was certainly the name of the Roman Empire which 
hindered the severed pieces from altogether flying asunder. 
And the recollection of the Empire works still in modern 
politics, t hough we fear more for evil than for good. Patriotic 
Germans indeed look back with a sigh to the days when 
Germany was gnat and united under her Ottos and her 
Eenries, but these are remembrances of the Kingdom rather 
than of the Empire The memory of the Empire is mainly 
used in modem times to prop up the position of the two up- 
start powers which now venture to profane the Imperial title. 

" [There aow (May, 1871), a famt chance— shall I say hope or 

?- of something of the same kind happening in the Western Kingdom 
as well as in the Eastern.] 


Because Gaul was once a German province, the Lord of Paris 
would have us believe that the successor of Charles is to be 
found among a people who in the days of the great Emperor 
had no national being. Because certain Austrian Dukes 
were chosen Roman Emperors, we are called upon, sometimes 
to condemn the great Frederick as a forerunner of Francis 
Joseph, sometimes to justify Francis Joseph as a successor 
of the great Frederick. We will wind up with the fervid and 
eloquent comments of Mr. Bryce on this latter head. A 
more vigorous denunciation of the great Austrian imposture 
we have seldom come across : — 

"Austria lias indeed, in somethings, but too faithfully reproduced the 
policy of the Saxon and Swabian Caesars. Like her, they oppressed and 
insulted the Italian people ; but it was in the defence of rights which the 
Italians themselves admitted. Like her, they lusted after a dominion over 
the races on their borders, but that dominion was to them a means of 
spreading civilization and religion in savage countries, not of pampering 
upon their revenues a hated court and aristocracj 7 . Like her, they strove 
to maintain a strong government at home, but they did it when a strong 
government was the first of political blessings. Like her, they gathered 
and maintained vast armies ; but those armies were composed of knights 
and barons who lived for war alone, not of peasants torn away from useful 
labour, and condemned to the cruel task of perpetuating their own bondage 
by crushing the aspirations of another nationality. They sinned grievously, 
no doubt, but they sinned in the dim twilight of a half-barbarous age, not 
in the noonday blaze of modern civilization. The enthusiasm for mediaeval 
faith and simplicity which was so fervid some years ago, has run its course, 
and is not likely soon to revive. He who reads the history of the Middle 
Ages will not deny that its heroes, even the best of them, were in some 
respects little better than savages. But when he approaches more recent 
times, and sees how, during the last three hundred years, kings have dealt 
with their subjects, and with each other, he will forget the ferocity of the 
Middle Ages, in horror at the heartlessness, the treachery, the injustice all 
the more odious because it sometimes wears the mask of legality, which 
disgraces the annals of the military monarchies of Europe. With regard, 
however, to the pretensions of modern Austria, the truth is that this 
dispute about the worth of the old system has no bearing upon them at 
all. The day of Imperial greatness was already past when Rudolf the 
first Hapsburg reached the throne ; while during what may be called the 
Austrian period, from Maximilian to Francis II., the Holy Empire was to 
Germany a mere clog and encumbrance, which the unhappy nation bore 
because she knew not how to rid herself of it. The Germans are welcome 


to appeal to the old Empire to prove that they were once a united people. 
Nor is there any harm in their comparing the politics of the twelfth 
century with those of the nineteenth, although to argue from the one to 
the other seems to betray a want of historical judgment. But the one 
thing which is wholly absurd is to make Francis Joseph of Austria the 
successor 'of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, and justify the most sordid and 
ungenial of modern despotisms by the example of the mirror of mediaeval 
chivalry, the noblest creation of mediaeval thought."* 

* [I let Mr. Bryce's words and my own stand as they were first written. 
Since then we have seen the " sordid and ungenial despotism " scourged by a 
wholesome defeat into an honourable place in Europe. We have seen the 
Tyrant of Hungary changed into her lawful King. "We have seen Italy 
enlarged and strengthened by the deliverance of Venice and of Bome. We 
have seen the rod of the oppressor broken ; the power which has been so 
long the disturbing element in Europe has at last been crushed, and instead 
of the frontier of France being extended to the Rhine, the frontier of Ger- 
many has been again extended to the Mosel. The unity of the greater part 
of Germany has been secured, and, by a pardonable confusion of ideas, the 
Imperial title has been assumed by the chief of the united nation. I need 
not show that such a title is in strictness inaccurate, but it would be hard 
to find a title more appropriate than that of Emperor for the head of a 
Confederation of Kings and other princes. The new German Empire is a 
fair revival of the old German Kingdom, but it must be borne in mind that 
it is in no sense a revival of the Holy Roman Empire. That has passed 
away for ever.] 

( 161 ) 


We think it right, at the beginning of this Article, to tell 
our readers exactly what we are going to talk about, and 
what we are not. We are not going to plunge into any 
antiquarian minutias about the settlement of the Franks in 
Gaul, or to perplex ourselves and our readers with any 
questions as to Leudes, Antrustions, and Scabini. Still less 
are we about to enter on the disputed ground of Gaulish or 
British ethnology, to trace out the exact line of demarcation 
between the Gael and the Cymry, or to decide the exact 
relations of the Belgae either to them or to their Teutonic 
neighbours. What we wish to do is to pass rapidly through 
the whole history of Gaul and France, from the earliest 
times down to our own day. We wish to take a general 
survey of Gaulish and Frankish history from a point of view 
which is not commonly understood, but which is well suited 
to throw an important light alike upon the history of re- 
mote ages and upon the latest events of our own day. The 
past and the present are for ever connected ; but the kind 
of connexion which exists between them differs widely in 
different cases. Past history and modern politics are always 
influencing one another ; but the forms which their mutual 
influence takes are infinitely varied. Sometimes the busi- 
ness of the historian is to point out real connexions and real 
analogies which the world at large does not perceive. This 
is most conspicuously his duty in dealing with what is called 
the " ancient " history of Greece and Italy, and, to a large 
extent also, in dealing with the early and mediaeval history 



of our own island. Sometimes, on the other hand, it is his 
duty to upset false connexions and false analogies, which 
have not only misled historical students, but have often 
exercised a most baneful influence upon public affairs. This 
is his primary duty when dealing with the history of Gaul 
and France. It is something to show that the old history of 
Athens and Eome is no assemblage of lifeless chronicles, but 
the truest textbook for the real statesman of every age. It 
is something to show that the England of our own times is in 
every important respect one and the same with the England 
of our earliest being. But it is something no less valuable to 
break down false assumptions which pervert the truth of his- 
tory, and which enable designing men to throw a false colour 
over unprincipled aggressions. If it is worth our while to show 
that Queen Victoria is in every sense the true successor of 
Cerdic and .ZElfred and Edward the First, it is no less worth 
our while to show that Louis Napoleon Buonaparte is in no 
conceivable sense the successor of Clovis * and of Charles the 
( 1 reat. 

There is perhaps nothing which people in general find 
more difficult to master than the science of historical geo- 
graphy. Few men indeed there are who fully take in the way 
in which nations have changed their places, and countries 
have changed their boundaries. We say " fully take in " 
because the facts are continually known in a kind of way, 
when there is no sort of living grasp of them. People 
know things and, so to speak, do not act upon their know- 
ledge. Almost everybody has heard, for instance, of the 
succession of " the Britons " and " the Saxons " in this island. 
A man knows in a kind of way that " the Saxons " are his 
own Ion fathers, and that they drove "the Britons" into 
a corner; but he does not fully take in the fact that these 
" Britons " and " Saxons" are simply Welshmen and English- 
nun. \\ In n I >r. Guest, like a good and accurate scholar, talks 

* [I Beem, i Leven yeara back, to have kept (his absurd form of the name. 

The two names being exactly the same, if we do not write Hlodvrig or 

thing like it, it would be better to write Lewis from the very beginning.] 


of " the English " in the fifth and sixth centuries, to most 
ears it sounds like a paradox.* In the meanwhile, the most 
unmistakeable Teutons will talk glibly about " our British 
ancestors," and see no absurdity in the title of Haydon's 
picture of " Alfred and the first British Jury." In the same 
way men have a sort of notion that Gaul is the " ancient 
name " of France, and France the " modern name " of Gaul. 
A man sees " Charlemagne " called " King of France," and he 
thinks that the France of Charlemagne is the same as the 
France of Lewis the Fourteenth or of either Buonaparte. One 
cause of the evil is doubtless the want of proper historical 
maps. Every household does not boast a copy of Spruner's 
Hand- Atlas. People are set to read the history of the world 
with two sets of maps. One is to serve from Adam to Theod- 
oric or to Charles the Fifth — we are not quite sure which ; 
the other, from Theodoric or Charles the Fifth to the year 
1860. They sit down to read about John and Philip 
Augustus either with a map of Eoman Gaul or with a map 
of Napoleonic France. Now, if you want to find the homes 
of the Twelve Peers of France, it is no light matter to do 
so when you have to choose between a map showing you 
only Lugdunensis and Germania Prima and a map showing 
you only the departments of Gironde and of Hie and Vilaine. 
People read of the return of Richard Coeur-de-Lion from the 
East, how he falls into the hands of the Duke of Austria, 
and is presently passed over into those of the " Emperor of 
Germany." This Duke and this Emperor are persons not a 
little mysterious to those whose only idea of "Austria" is 
something which takes in Yenetia at the one end and 
Transsilvania at the other. If a man in this state of mind 
came across a copy of Eginhard, and found Mainz, Koln, and 
Trier spoken of as cities of Francia, he would think that 
he had hit upon an irrefragable argument in favour of the 
claims of Paris to the frontier of the Phine. A " King of 
France " once reigned upon the Elbe, the Danube, the Tiber, 
and the Ebro ! A patriotic Frenchman would trumpet the 
* [I trust that it is not so great a paradox in 1871 as it was in 18G0.] 

M 2 


discovery abroad as the greatest of triumphs; a patriotic 
Englishman might perhaps be inclined to hide so dangerous 
a light under the nearest bushel. Our business just now is to 
show that the fact tells quite the other way, so far as it tells 
any way at all. If any inference in modern politics is to be 
drawn from the phenomena of mediaeval geography, they 
would certainly rather prove the right of Maximilian of 
Bavaria to the frontier of the Atlantic than the right of 
Napoleon of Paris to the frontier of the Ehine. 

We will begin by admitting, if it is needful for anybody 
either to assert or to deny the fact, that modern France is, 
beyond all doubt, connected with ancient Gaul in a way in 
which modern England is not connected with ancient Britain. 
There can be no question that the predominant blood in 
modern France is not that of the invading Franks, but that 
of the conquered Gallo-Ronians ; while in England the pre- 
dominant blood is not that of the conquered Britons, but that 
of the invading Angles and Saxons. The truth is that the 
Prankish conquest of Gaul must, of the two, have been more 
analogous to the Norman than to the English conquest of 
our own country. The Frank in Gaul and the Norman in 
England were predominant for a season ; but in the end the 
smaller and foreign element died out, and left Gaul once 
more Gaul and England once more England. In fact, 
England still retains more traces of the Norman than France 
does of the Frank. The Eomance infusion into our Teutonic 
speech is far more extensive than the Teutonic infusion into 
the Eomance speech of Gaul. The main difference is that 
Gaul or part of it has changed its name to France, while 
England has not changed its name to Normandy. This was 
doubtless, among other causes, owing to the more settled 
condition of states and nations in the eleventh century as 
compared with the sixth, and to the fact that William of 
Normandy claimed to be, not the unprovoked invader of 
England, but the lawful inheritor of her crown. But, on the 
other hand, Gaul has never, even in name, so thoroughly 
becoin<- Prance as Britain has become England. This may 


sound strange at first hearing, because " Briton " and " British " 
are now such household words to express ourselves ; but 
their use in that sense is extremely modern ; it has simply 
come in from the necessity, constant in political language and 
frequent elsewhere, of having some name to take in alike 
England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. So lately as James 
the Second's time, a Briton still meant a Welshman ; * and we 
believe that exactly a century back, the famous declaration 
of George the Third that he " gloried in the name," not of 
Englishman, but " of Briton," was looked upon by many 
of his subjects as a wicked device of the Scotchman Bute. 
To' this day " England " and " Englishman " are the words 
which always first occur to us in the language either 
of every-day discourse or of the rhetoric of the heart. The 
word " Britain," in the mouth of an Englishman, is reserved 
either for artificial poetry, for the dialect of foreign politics, 
or for the conciliation of Scottish hearers. Before England 
and Scotland were united, the name " Briton," as including 
Englishmen, was altogether unheard of; but the name 
" Gaul " has never fully died out as the designation of 
France. How does the case stand in the tongue which was 
so long the common speech of Europe ? The most pedantic 
Ciceronian never scrupled to talk familiarly about Anglus and 
Anglia ; but Francus and Francia are hardly known except 
in language more or less formal. Gallus, Gallia, Gallia- 
rum Bex, are constantly used by writers who would never 
think of an analogous use of Britannus and Britannia. In 
ecclesiastical matters, Gaul has always remained even the 
formal designation. The Gallican Church answers to the 
Anglican, the Primate of the Gauls to the Primate of all 
England. And if it be said that the reason is that Eng- 

* As iu the ballad quoted by Lord Macaulay : 

" Both our Britons are fooled, 
Who the laws overruled, 
And next Parliament both shall be plaguily schooled." 

The "Britons" arc the Welshmen Jeffreys and Williams. 


land is not coextensive with Britain, neither, we are happy to 
say, is France even yet coextensive with Gaul. If Britain 
includes Scotland as well as England, Gaul includes Belgium 
and Switzerland as well as France. The difference of ex- 
pression merely sets forth the truth of the case. France 
is still really Gaulish ; England is in no sense British, except 
in a sense lately introduced for political convenience. 

If we turn to a map of the Roman Empire, we shall find 
in the West of Europe the great province of Gaul, whose 
extent, as we have hinted in the last paragraph, was far 
larger than that of modern France. Its boundaries are the 
Ocean, the Pyrenees, the Alps, and the Rhine. It .includes 
the modern states of France, Switzerland, and Belgium, the 
lately plundered Duchy of Savoy, and portions of the King- 
dom of the Netherlands and of the German states of Prussia, 
Bavaria, and Hessen. And then, as now, the division was 
geographical, and not national. As France now forms the 
greatest part, but far from the whole, of the ancient province, 
so in those days men of Celtic blood occupied the greater 
part, but not the whole, of geographical Gaul. The German 
dwelled then, as now, on both sides of the Rhine. The 
Basque dwelled then, as now, in Aquitaine, though his 
tongue has now shrunk up into a much narrower corner 
of the land than it then occupied. Now the only claim of 
modern France to the Rhine frontier is that the Rhine was 
tlw frontier of ancient Gaul. But why should one of the 
states into which ancient Gaul is divided thus claim to be 
the representative of the whole ? There is no reason save 
that of their relative strength, why France should, on geo- 
graphical principles, annex Belgium or Switzerland, rather 
than Belgium or Switzerland annex France. If the Parisii 
claim to reach t<> the Rhino as the eastern frontier of Gaul, 
the Ilelvetii may just as well claim to reach to the Atlantic, 
as being do Less undoubtedly its western frontier. And, on 
this soil of reasoning, why stop at the Alps? why be satisfied 
with Savoy ainl Nizza ? What are Loinhardv and Roniagna 

hut fragments feloniously cul off from the great Gallic whole ? 


They came as much within the limits of the Gaul of Caesar 
as Paris itself. Caesar spent his winters at Lucca without 
leaving his province. He had got some way into the present 
Papal territory before he violated the sacred limits of Roman 
Italy.* Geographical necessities and natural boundaries 
may, in the mouth of a despot, mean whatever he pleases ; 
but we really do not see why every argument in favour of 
the French claim to the frontier of the Ehine would not tell 
just as strongly in favour of a French claim to the frontier 
of the Rubicon. 

The truth is, that, though modern France does represent 
ancient Gaul, so far as that the old Gaulish blood is pre- 
dominant in the veins of the modern Frenchman, still the 
connexion is purely geographical and ethnological ; modern 
France is in no political or historical sense the representative 
of ancient Gaul. France, in short, in the modern sense of 
the word, the monarchy of Paris, has no continuous exist- 
ence earlier than the tenth century; it has no existence 
at all earlier than the ninth. Parisian France has been in 
Gaul what Wessex has been in England, what England has 
been in Britain, what Castile has been in Spain, what Sweden 
has been in Scandinavia, what Prussia has been in Germany 
and Sardinia in Italy ; that is, it is one state among several, 
which has risen to greater importance than any of its fellows, 
and which has gradually swallowed up many of them into its 
( >wn substance. The Kings of Paris gradually united to their 
domain nearly all the territories of their nominal vassals, and 
a vast territory besides which never owed them so much as a 
formal homage. So have the Kings of Castile done in the 
Spanish peninsula; so is the Sardinian monarchy doing 
before our own eyes in Italy. There is of course one wide 
difference between the cases : Italy is being annexed to Sar- 

* [It is half a privilege, half a penalty, to live in an age when states 
and rations are making themselves new boundaries. When I wrote this 
article, the Bishop of Home was a temporal Prince reigning on both coasts 
of the now liberated peninsula. Piedmont was just beginning to grow into 
Italy. 1 leave every word relating to Italy as it was fust written.] 


dinia by its own free will, while, in the Spanish peninsula, 
Portugal has not the least wish to be again incorporated with 
Castile and Aragon, and, in Gaul, the free states of Belgium 
and Switzerland have still less longing to be swallowed up by 
the despotism of Paris. Otherwise, for Sardinia to annex 
any Italian state by fraud or conquest or the mere award of 
foreign powers would be as much opposed to justice as the 
annexation of Portugal by Spain, or of Belgium by France. 
The thing which men have so much difficulty in understand- 
ing is that modern France is a power which really has risen in 
this way. The existence of France in its modern extent, or 
nearly so, is assumed as something almost existing in the 
eternal fitness of things. The name of France, a mere fluc- 
tuating political expression for a territory which has grown 
and which may again diminish,* is used as if it had a perma- 
nent physical meaning, like the names Spain or Italy. To 
speak of a time when Lyons and Marseilles were no parts of 
France would seem to many people as great a paradox as to 
speak of a time when Pome was no part of the Italian 
peninsula. People know in a way, but they do not fully take 
in, that Rouen, Poitiers, and Toulouse were once the seats of 
sovereigns whose allegiance to the Parisian King was at least 
as loose as that of Frederick of Prussia to the Austrian 
Emperor ; still less do they take in that Provence, Dauphiny, 
Franche Comte, Lorraine, and Elsass were all — some of them 
till very lately — as absolutely independent of the crown of 
France as they were of the crown of Russia. There was no 
reason in the nature of things why, not France, but Aqui- 
l.iine, or Toulouse, or Burgundy, might not have risen to the 
supremacy in Gaul, any more than there was why Saxony 
or Bavaria might not have risen to the place in Germany now 
held by Prussia. 

This sort of geographical and historical confusion is very 
much aided by one or two peculiarities in modern diplomatic 
language. When Louis Napoleon Buonaparte first expressed 

* [I bad l)"it faint hopes then of seeing Elsass and Lothringen won luck 
■ m. J 


his wish to become master of Savoy, the word selected for 
the occasion was the verb " revendiquer," and the actual pro- 
cess of annexation was expressed by the noun " reunion," and 
the verb " reunir." At first sight this seems very much as if 
a burglar who asked for your money or your life should be 
said to " revendiquer " the contents of your purse, and after- 
wards to effect a " reunion " between them and the contents 
of his own. According to all etymology, " revendiquer " 
must mean to claim back again something which you have 
lost, and " reunion " must mean the joining together of things 
which have been separated after being originally one. Now 
undoubtedly, in modern French usage, the particle " re " has 
lost its natural force, and " reunion " has come simply to 
mean " union." But, first of all, foreigners may indeed get 
to know, but they can hardly get to realize this ; you may 
know the construing in the dictionary, but you cannot get 
rid of the instinctive impression that " revendiquer " and 
" re'union " imply the recovery of something lost, most pro- 
bably of something unjustly lost. " La reunion de Savoie " 
will always seem to an Englishman to mean that Savoy was 
a natural part of France unjustly dissevered from it. If 
Savoy remains annexed to France for the next hundred 
years, people will begin to look on it as they have already 
learned to look upon the " reunion " of Lorraine in the last 
century and upon the earlier " reunions " of Provence and 
Lyons. And one can hardly doubt that the twofold meaning 
of the word, its etymological sense and its modern Parisian 
sense, has been purposely made use of as a blind by French 
diplomatists. They tell us that they use the word merely in 
its modern Parisian sense ; but they know very well that 
many people now, and still more hereafter, will instinctively 
interpret it in its natural meaning. And secondly, it is a 
most speaking fact, that in any language " reunion " should 
have come to mean the same as " union." It could only have 
come to do so in the language of a country where a long 
series of fraudulent or violent " unions " had been ingeniously 
passed off as lawful " reunions." 


The truth is that, while all nations have a tendency to 
annexation, France stands alone in the art of veiling the 
ugly features of annexation by various ingenious devices. 
France is not more guilty in this matter than Russia, Prussia, 
Austria, Turkey, or Spain ; indeed we cannot venture to pro- 
fess that our own English hands are altogether clean. But 
France stands distinguished from them all by her power of 
putting a good name on a bad business. A Russian or 
Austrian aggression is simply an aggression of brute force ; 
it is defended by the aggressor, if he condescends to defend 
it at all, simply on grounds of political expediency. Austria 
does not retain Yenetia for the good of the Venetians, or 
because the hand of nature has marked out Venetia as a 
necessary portion of her dominions. She has simply got it, 
and means, if she can, to keep what she has got. But a 
French aggression is quite another business. There is always 
some elaborate reason for it. French ingenuity never lacks 
a theory for anything. A country is annexed in the interests 
of French versions of physical geography, of French 
notions of what has been, or French notions of what ought 
to be. Franco "wars for an idea;" an idea, it may be, 
either of past history or of anticipated futurity. Treaties 
are broken, legal rights are trampled under foot, natural 
justice is cast to the winds ; but there is a good reason for 
every step. French cleverness is alike apt at proving the 
doctrine that the annexed people ought to desire annexa- 
tion, and the fact that they actually do desire it. In short, 
while Austria acts as a mere vulgar and brutal highwayman, 
France better likes the character of an elegant, plausible, 
and ingenious swindler. The tendency is not new. Lewis 
the Eleventh had much to say for himself when he seized 
on Provence and the Duchy of Burgundy, and Philip 
Augustus extemporized a tribunal and a jurisprudence in 
• ■nler to put himself into lawful possession of Normandy and 

Another means by which a false light is thrown upon the 
successive aggressions of Prance arises out of the familiar 


and almost universal use of the French language. We are 
so much more familiar with French than with any other 
tongue, French has become to so great an extent our medium 
of communication with other nations, that we have got into 
a way of speaking of half the cities of Europe, not by their 
own names, but by French corruptions. The custom is quite 
recent ; in the sixteenth century Englishmen spoke of a 
German, Flemish, or Italian town either by its real German, 
Flemish, or Italian name, or else by some corruption of their 
own making. Now our habit of calling all places by French 
names greatly softens the ugliness of French aggression. 
Alsace sounds as if it had been a French province from all 
eternity ; the Teutonic Elsass suggests ideas altogether dif- 
ferent. The " reunion " of Nice may a generation or two 
hence sound quite natural, but that of Nizza would retain 
its native ugliness to all time. Cologne, Mayence, and Treves 
sound as if they positively invited annexation ; so do Liege, 
Malines, and Louvain ; and it is no wonder that people think 
that Charles the Great was a Frenchman when they find his 
tomb at such a French-sounding place as Aix-la-Chapelle. 
But Koln, Mainz, Trier, Liittich, Mecheln, Lowen, and 
Aachen * would, by their very names, stand up as so many 
bulwarks against Parisian aggression. For at least eight 
hundred years past Frenchmen have been incapable of spell- 
ing rightly any single name in any foreign language ; but it 
is not at all unlikely that the incapacity may now and then 
have not been without a sound political motive. 

We will now return to our geographical survey, which we 
have perhaps somewhat irregularly interrupted. Some time 
back we drew a map of ancient Gaul as a province of the 
Roman Empire. In the days of the great Teutonic migration, 
when East-Goths poured into Italy, West-Goths into Spain, 
Vandals into Africa, Angles and Saxons into Britain, the 
kindred nation of the Franks appeared in Gaul. Everybody 
knows that France is so called from the Franks ; but people 

* [The low-Dutch forms of names like Liittich and even Aachen would 
bo better still, if one could be sure of getting them in their right shape.] 


are apt to forget that France is not the only country which 
is called from them. France and Franconia are etymologically 
the same word ; the difference in their modern forms simply 
comes from a wish to avoid confusion, a confusion which was 
avoided in early mediaeval Latin by speaking of Francia 
occidentalis and Francia orientalis, Francia Latina and 
Francia Teutonica. The difference between the two is that 
the Frank of France was a settler in a strange land, 
while the Frank of Franconia remained in the land of his 
fathers ; that the Frank of France ere long degenerated into 
something half Koman, half Celtic, while the Frank of Fran- 
conia has ever remained an uncontaminated Teuton. In 
short, the Franks conquered Gaul, but without forsaking 
Germany ; and they conquered different parts of Gaul in 
widely different senses and degrees. In Northern Gaul, to a 
certain extent, they settled. Orleans, Paris, Soissons, and 
Metz became the seats of Frankish kingdoms ; but in the 
southern provinces of Aquitaine and Burgundy they hardly 
settled at all. There other Teutonic conquerors had been 
before them. The Goth reigned at Toulouse, and the Bur- 
gundian had given his name to the land between the Rhone 
and the Alps. Both were in a certain sense conquered. The 
orthodox zeal of the newly-converted Merwing formed a good 
pretext for driving the Arian out of Gaul. The Gothic 
monarchy had to retire beyond the Pyrenees, and the Bur- 
gnndian kingdom for a while "ceased to exist." But the 
conquest was at most a political one. Southern Gaul was 
brought into a more or less complete subjection to the 
Frankish Kings, but it never really became jtart of the true 
Frankish territory. There was no permanent Frankish popu- 
lation south of the Loire, and, as the Merowingian dynasty 
declined, Aquitaine again became to all intents and purposes 
an independent state. Under Pippin we find a Duke of 
Aquitaine who lias to be conquered just as much as any prince 
of I jombardy or Sax< my. In truth, to this day Aquitaine and 
I'" ranee proper have absolutely nothing in common, except 
tin; old Koman eleinenl and the results of their political 


union during the last four hundred years. The Tuetonic 
element is different in the two lands, and, in a large district 
at least, the aboriginal element is different also. The 
Frenchman is formed by the infusion of the Frank upon the 
Celt, the Gascon is formed by the infusion of the Goth upon 
the Basque. Both speak tongues derived from that of Home, 
but the difference passes the limits of mere difference of 
dialect. The arrogance of modern Paris talks indeed of the 
" bad French " of Aquitaine and Provence. In its ignorant 
pride, it can see only a patois of itself in a tongue which is as 
distinct as that of Spain or Italy, and which was a formed 
and polished speech, the speech of the refined courts of 
Poitiers and Toulouse, while northern France had still only 
an unformed and unwritten jargon. 

We thus see that the dominions of the Kings of the Franks 
of the house of Clovis in no way answered either to ancient 
Gaul or to the modern FrenchEmpire. The Merowingian realm 
consisted of central Germany and Northern Gaul. Southern 
Gaul was overrun rather than really conquered, and northern 
Italy was overrun also. For a short time, during the wars 
of the sixth century, Frankish conquerors appeared south of 
the Alps on an errand which, for aught we know, may afford 
a full precedent for the Italian campaigns of Francis the First, 
or for those of either Buonaparte. But the real Frankish 
territory of this period does not reach southward of the 
Loire. North of that river we find the Frank of Neustria, per- 
haps by this time in some degree Romanized, and to the east 
of him comes the true German Frank of Austrasia. How far the 
Franks of Gaul had yielded to Roman influences during the 
Merowingian period it is impossible to say ; but everything 
leads us to believe that before the time of Pippin they must 
have begun to differ widely from their uncorrupted Austrasian 
brethren. We shall see presently that, by the middle of the 
ninth century, a Romance speech, no longer Latin, but as yet 
hardly to be called French, had grown up in Frankish Gaul. 
Now the influences of the previous century and a half were 
altogether in a Teutonic direction : a Romance dialect could 


hardly have lived on through the domination of the Austrasian 
Mayors and Kings, unless it had been pretty firmly established 
before the end of the Merowingian rule.* 

The Carolingian dynasty dates its formal beginning from 
the election of Pippin as King of the Franks in 752. But 
practically it may be carried back to the beginning of the 
series of Austrasian Mayors in 681. The first Pippin and 
the first Charles were really sovereigns of the Franks, no 
less than the Pippin and the Charles who were invested with 
the royal title. And this transfer of power to the house of 
Pippin was nearly equivalent to a second Teutonic conquest. 
Whatever the Merwings and their Gaulish subjects may have 
been, there is no doubt as to the true Teutonic character of 
the whole dynasty of the Karlings. They were raised to 
power by the swords of the Teutonic Austrasians ; the cradle 
of their race was the Teutonic Heerstall ; their favourite seats 
of royalty were the Teutonic Engelheim and Aachen ; as 
Mayors of the Palace, as Kings of the Franks, as Eoman 
( laesars, nay even when they had shrunk up into the petty 
Kings of the rock of Laon, they clave firmly, down to their 
latest days, to the dress, the manners, and the tongue of their 
Teutonic fathers. Under the " Kings of the second race," 
Aquitaine and even Neustria were little more than subject 
provinces of a German monarch. 

The zenith of the Frankish power was attained in the 
reign of Charles the Great. Charles, King of the Franks, 
King of the Lombards, Patrician of the Romans, was some- 
thing far more than a King either of Gaul or of Germany; 
be was the Lord of Western Christendom. All Gaul, all that 
was then Germany, were his; Aquitaine, Saxony, Bavaria, 
Lmnbardy, were gathered in as conquered provinces; the 
Slave, the Avar, the Northman, became subjects or tribu- 
taries ; the Commander of the Faithful himself corresponded 

' [This depends on the extent to which the Franks and the Gauls inter* 
mingled. A Roman speech must have gone on uninterruptedly among the 
ef the people, but men of Prankish descent most likely spoke only 
I ferman.] 


on equal and friendly terms with the mightiest of the followers 
of the Cross. At last a dignity fell to the lot of the trium- 
phant Frank to which no barbarian of the West had as yet 
ventured to aspire. Goths and Herulans had long before 
made and unmade the Western Caesars : Gothic chiefs had 
reigned in Italy with the royal title ; but the diadem and 
the sceptre of Augustus had as yet been worn by no Teutonic 
brow and grasped by no Teutonic hand. The Old Rome had 
stooped to become a provincial dependency of the New ; but 
it had never submitted to the permanent sway of a barbarian. 
Theodoric had reigned, a Gothic king indeed in fact, but an 
Imperial lieutenant in theory; Alboin and Liudprand had 
appeared as open enemies, but they had never passed the 
gates of the Eternal City ; Charles himself, his father, and 
his grandfather, had exercised the full Imperial power under 
humbler names ; but the Patrician was only the republican 
magistrate of the Eonian commonwealth or the vicegerent of 
the Eastern Caesar. By that Caesar's regnal years charters 
still were dated, and his image and superscription were still 
impressed on a coinage from which no tax or tribute ever 
reached him. At last the moment came when the Old Rome 
was again to assert her coequality with her younger sister, 
and to affirm that she had never forfeited her right to nomi- 
nate one at least of the masters of the world. Rome once 
more chose her own Caesar, but that Caesar was not of Roman 
or Italian blood ; the golden crown at last rested on the open 
brow of the lordly German, and the Pontiff and People of 
Rome proclaimed the Imperial style of " Charles Augustus, 
crowned by God, the great and pacific Emperor of the Romans." 
Not that the Roman Augustus gained thereby an inch or par- 
ticle of territory or power which had not already belonged to 
the simple Frankish King. But in the eyes of a large portion 
of his subjects his rule was thereby at once changed from a 
dominion of force into a dominion of law ; the elected and 
consecrated Emperor became, in the eyes of all southern 
Europe, a different being from the mere barbaric conqueror ; 
we might almost say that the world recognized the Teuton as 


its chosen and natural ruler, when for the first time a man of 
Teutonic blood was raised to the highest pinnacle of earthly 
greatness. It shows the true greatness of Charles's mind that 
his head was not in the least turned by a splendour which 
might have dazzled the imagination of any mortal. Crowned 
in the Eternal City by the common father of Christendom, 
he still remained, Imperator and Augustus as he was, the 
same simple hearty German as of old. Even Alexander, on 
the throne of the Great King, could not wholly endure the 
trial ; he went far to exchange the spirit of the chosen Eing 
of Macedon and chief of Greece for the arbitrary rule of a 
Persian despot. But Charles was in no way spoiled or changed 
by the almost superhuman glory from which he seems him- 
self to have shrunk. He still retained his German dress, his 
German speech, his German habits ; nor did he ever transfer 
the pomp, the slavery, the almost idolatrous incense of the 
court of his Byzantine colleague into the free Teutonic air of 
Aachen and of Engelheim. 

Those were indeed days of glory for the ancient Frank ; 
but it is a glory in which the modern Frenchman can claim 
no share. Celtic, Parisian, France had as yet no being. Its 
language was as yet the unformed patois of a conquered pro- 
vince. Paris was a provincial town which the lord of Borne 
and Aachen once visited in the course of a long progress 
amongst a string of its lowly fellows. Gaul, at least its Celtic 
portions, was seldom honoured by the presence of its Ger- 
man master, and it added but little to the strength of his 
German armies. The native speech of Charles was the old 
Teutonic; Latin, the literary tongue of the whole West, and 
still the native speech of many provinces, he spoke fluently 
as an acquired language; Greek, the other universal and 
[mperial tongue, be understood when spoken, but could not 
himself speak it with case. French he could neither speak 
nor understand ; for, alas, as yet no French language could 
!»«• Baid to ' xist ; a King of the Franks was about as likely to 
express himself in the dialect of a Neustrian Celt as an Em- 
perorof the French is ao\* to indite his pamphlets in Basque, 


Walloon, or Bas-Breton. The valley of the Loire, the chosen 
home of the Yalois, the valley of the Seine, the chosen home 
of the Bourbon, had little charms for the Australian Frank, 
whose heart, amid Roman pomps and Aquitanian and Hunnish 
victories, ever yearned for the banks of his own Teutonic 
Rhine. Under Charles that elder Francia which was the 
native land of the Frank was at the summit of its greatness ; 
but there was no period, before or after, at which that younger 
Francia of which Paris is the centre was so utterly insig- 
nificant in the eyes of men. 

Another of the many mistakes with which this period of 
history is overshadowed is the common belief that the long- 
reign of Charles, his wars, his treaties, his legislation, left 
hardly any lasting fruit behind them. We are too apt to 
suppose that his great work was almost immediately undone 
amidst the dissensions of his grandsons. This again arises 
from looking at him and his Empire from a French instead 
of a German point of view. Looked at from Aquitaine or 
Neustria, the work of Charles the Great was altogether 
ephemeral ; but it bears quite another hue if we once step 
on the other side of the Rhine. Charles found a large part 
of Germany a mere wilderness of heathendom ; the Christian 
Frank found the bitterest and most stubborn enemy of his 
creed and empire in the kindred Saxon. Charles converted 
Saxony by the sword ; but, however the work was done, it 
was done effectually. He welded Saxony and the Teutonic 
Francia together into that great German Kingdom which so 
long held the first rank in Europe, and which, strange as it 
seems to us, was really, when we compare it with Gaul, Italy, 
or Spain, the most united of Western realms. He opened a 
patli in which a long line of illustrious German Kings and Em- 
perors, from Arnulf to Frederick the Second, worked with no 
small success after him. That he bequeathed to them a claim 
to his Imperial style, and a vague pretension to his Imperial 
power, was an inheritance of but doubtful advantage. The 
Kingdom of Germany was in truth crushed and broken to 
pieces beneath the weight of the Holy Roman Empire ; but 



of the united and glorious Germany of Henry the Fowler 
and Otto the Great, of Henry the Frank and of Frederick 
the Swabian, Charles the Great was the father and the 
founder. If Gaul and Italy fell away, the Begnum Teu- 
tonicum survived for four hundred years, and it still survives in 
the hearts of a people longing to be one as they were beneath 
his sceptre.* Only remember what the Francia and the 
Franci of Charles really were, and the dismemberment of the 
Carolingian Empire amounts to little more than the lopping- 
off of some outlying foreign provinces from the body of the 
great Teutonic realm. 

We have now reached the ninth century. Charles was 
crowned at Rome in the last year of the eighth century, and 
fourteen years later he was borne to his Imperial tomb at 
Aachen. He had founded the German Kingdom and won 
the Roman diadem for its Kings. But before the new century 
had passed, another nation, another language, was beginning 
to appear. During the century which followed the death of 
Charles, we get our first glimpses of the existence of modern, 
Celtic, Parisian, France. Before the close of the second cen- 
tury from his coronation, modern, Celtic, Parisian, France, the 
Kingdom of Odo and Hugh Capet, is fully established, high 
in rank, but as yet small in power, among the recognized 
divisions of Western Christendom. 

The Western or Frankish Empire, as it stood under Charles 
the Gnat, was undoubtedly far too vast, and included nations 
far too incongruous, to remain permanently united under a 
single head. Charles himself, it is evident, perceived this. 
The division of a kingdom among the sons of a deceased 
King was indeed nothing new; it was a device which had 
Iteen constantly tried in Merowingian Gaul. But we can- 
not Ldieye that < diaries would have given the sanction of 
his master genius to such a plan had it not been really 

* [The Ttegnv/m Teutonicum has new come to life again, but its chief 
1 an the Imperial title, still the inaccuracy may be forgiven. Now thai 
Dukes and Electors have gro a into Kings, it is hard to sec what a Basileus, 
a Bang of Kings, could be called except Emperor. 


adapted to the circumstances of the time. His schemes were 
very elaborate. The mode of succession chalked out by him 
included a mixture of popular election and hereditary right 
and all the minor kings were to be united in a sort of federal 
bond by the recognition of a common superior in the Em- 
peror. Whether such a system could have worked may be 
doubted. It had worked under himself; he had made his sons 
Kings in Italy and Aquitaine without any prejudice to his 
own rights as supreme Emperor. But submission to a father, 
and that father Charles the Great, was quite another thing 
from submission to a brother, an uncle, or, as it might soon 
be, a distant cousin. Charles's own scheme of division came 
to nothing, because of the death of two out of his three sons. 
Lewis the Pious succeeded him in the possession of the whole 
Empire, with only one subordinate King in the person 
of the unfortunate Bernard of Italy. But it is well worth 
while to mark the geographical limits of the several king- 
doms as traced out by the hand of Charles himself. Most likely 
he had no thought of forming national kingdoms at all.* 
There was still to be one Kingdom of the Franks, though it 
was divided among several Kings ; just as in the early days of 
the division of the Eoman Empire, the Empire was still held 
to be one, though its administration was portioned out be- 
tween two or more Imperial colleagues. Certainly the three 
kingdoms traced out for Charles, Pippin, and Lewis coincide 
with no national divisions either of earlier or of later times. 
Roughly speaking, Charles seems to have meant to keep the 
old Frankish Kingdom for his eldest son Charles, and to divide 
his conquests between Pippin and Lewis. But, besides that 
the frontier is not very accurately followed, one most im- 
portant exception is to be made. The wholly new acqui- 
sitions of ltal\ and the Spanish March, together with Aqui- 
taine and Bavaria, which had been reduced from nominal 
vassalage to real obedience, were divided between the two 

* This seems to be shown by the titles which Eginhard gives to the 
subordinate Kings. Lewis, for instance, is not " Rex AquitanisB," or " Rex 
Aquitanorum," but merely " Rex super Aquitaniam." 

N 2 


younger sons. Charles took the 6\& Franeia; but he also, 
by the necessity of the case, took the great conquest of Saxony. 
Of the three divisions, Aquitaine, the kingdom of Lewis, 
came nearest to being a national kingdom. Southern Gaul 
and the Spanish March answer pretty nearly to what "were 
afterwards the countries of the Lingua cTOc. But the Italian 
kingdom, cut short at one end by the Byzautine province, 
was lengthened at the other by the addition of all Germany 
south of the Danube. Did the theory of " natural bound- 
aries " flash across the mind of the great Charles when he 
made that great river a political limit ? Certainly no such 
idea presented itself to him with regard to the Rhine. Not 
the slightest regard was paid either to the past boundaries of 
Bonian Gaul or to the future boundaries of modern France. 
Aquitaine was to have something like a national sovereign ; 
but no such boon was conferred on Neustria. The German 
King was to reign, as of old, on both sides of the German 
river. The kingdom of the younger Charles was to consist 
of what is now Northern France and Northern Germany ; 
while what is now Southern France formed the great bulk of 
the kingdom of Lewis. Modern, Parisian, France was so far 
from answering to the Franeia of Charles the Great, that 
it did Ik >t even occur to him as a convenient division when he 
was portioning out the vast monarchy of which it formed apart. 
The division made by Charles had, as we said, no lasting 
effect. It is valuable only as showing what were the ideas 
of a convenient partition entertained in the year 806 by the 
greatest of living men. Charles was succeeded by Lewis. 
His reigD was a mere series of ever-fluctuating partitions of 
tin- Empire among his sons. Sir Francis Pal grave, in the 
first volume of his History of England and Normandy, has 
takes the trouble to reckon up no less than ten successive 
schemes of division. In the last of these we begin to discern, 
for the fir8l time, something like the modem Kingdom of 
Franco. Then, in 839, Northern and Southern Gaul, Neustria 
and Aquitaine, were for the Oral time united as the kingdom 
of Charles the Bald. The kingdom thus formed was far 


smaller than modern France, but it lay almost wholly with- 
in it. It took in Flanders at the one end and the Spanish 
March at the other; but both of these provinces remained 
French, in a vague sense, far down into the middle ages. 
The suzerainty over the County of Barcelona was only given 
up by Saint Lewis, and that over the County of Flanders 
lingered on to be one of the main subjects of dispute between 
Francis the First and Charles the Fifth. The kino-dom of 
Charles the Bald was undoubtedly the first germ of modern 
France. It was, if we except the Flemings, the Bretons, 
and the Basques at its several corners, a kingdom wholly of 
the Roman speech. This fact comes prominently forth in 
the famous oath of Strassburg, preserved by Nithard.* 
That precious document has been commented upon over and 
over again as a matter of philology ; it is no less valuable as 
a matter of history. It shows that in 841 the distinctions 
of race and language were beginning to make themselves 
felt. The Austrasian soldiers of King Lewis swear in 
the Old-German tongue, of which the oath is an early 
monument; but of the language in which the oath is 
taken by the Neustrian soldiers of King Charles f the oath 
itself is, as far as our knowledge goes, absolutely the oldest 
monument. In the lingua Romana, as Nithard calls it, we 
see for the first time a tongue essentially of Roman origin, 
and yet a tongue which has departed too far from the Roman 
model to be any longer called Latin. It has ceased to be 
Latin, but we cannot yet call it French, even Old-French. 
1 low tUr it is the mother of French, and how far rather the 
mother of Provencal, we must leave those to decide whose 
special business lies with the history of language. For our 

* Nithard, iii. G, ap. Pcrtz, ii. G66. 

t [It is worth notice that Charles the Bald, as well as his soldiers, could 
speak the " lingua Romana " or Romance tongue. See the Capitularies 
put forth by the Kings Lewis, Charles, and Lothar at Coblenz in 860. 
!.< \\ is speaks "lingua Thcothisca," and Charles " lingua Romana " (Pertz, 
Leges, i. 472). Yet Charles, in his own Capitularies, speaks of "lingua 
Theodiseu " as the language of the country, exactly as Lewis does (i. 482, 


purpose it is enough that it reveals to us the existence of a 
Gaul speaking neither Celtic, nor Teutonic, nor Latin, but 
Romance; that is, it shows that one most important step 
had been taken towards the creation of modern France. As 
yet the new speech was known only as lingua Romano, ; in 
the course of the next century it became nationalized as 
lingua GalUea* One might be curious to know how far men 
had begun really to feel that a new language had been 
formed ; whether it was in any case the tongue of men of rank 
or of men who could read and write ; whether there were any 
to whom the lingua Romana was already their mother-tongue, 
but who still committed their thoughts to writing in the more 
classical lingua Lalina. Of all this we can tell nothing, ex- 
cept what we may infer from the fact that Count Nithard, a 
man of high rank and high ability, and, by an illegitimate 
female descent, the actual grandson of the great Charles, was 
struck by the plia'nomenon of the diversity of speech, and 
thought the formula worth preserving in the very words of 
the vulgar tongue. This is in itself remarkable enough, and 
at all events it proves the observant and inquiring spirit of 
Nithard himself. We wish that he had had more followers. 
There is nothing which we more commonly lack in the Latin 
chroniclers of the middle age than notices of the tongue of 
the people, and even of the tongue of the actors in the story. 
The wars between the sons of the Emperor Lewis, and the 
final settlement at Verdun in 843, did but confirm the exist- 
once of the new kingdom. The connexion between the two 
parts of ancient Francia was now severed for ever; Neustria 
and Austrasia were never, except during the ephemeral 
Empire of Charles the Fat, again united under a single 
ruler. On the other hand, a connexion was formed between 
Neustria and Aquitaine, a connexion which was of little 
moment, but which was destined to bear at the time no small 
fruit in future ages. By the treaty of Verdun the Empire 
was divided into three parts. Charles took, as we have seen, 
the purely Romance lands of Neustria and Aquitaine ; Lewis 

■ Bee Richer, i. '-'<>, iii. 85, iv. ion, a p. Pertz, vol. v. 


took the purely German lands far to the east. Lothar, their 
eldest brother, the Roman Coesar, of course took Frankish 
Italy ; but he took also that long strip of debateable land 
from the Mediterranean to the Ocean, which took his name, 
and part of which still keeps it. Lotliaringia, Lothringen, 
Lorraine, lay between the Germanic realm of Lewis and the 
Romance realm of Charles, taking in doubtless then, as now, 
lands both of Romance and of Germanic speech. But it was 
a kingdom which had no principle of unity of any kind ; no 
kind of tie of language, of history, or of " natural boundaries," 
united Provence and Holland and the intermediate countries. 
The kingdom, therefore, had no lasting being. Sometimes 
we find it cut up into several separate kingdoms ; sometimes, 
as in our own day, it was divided between the two more 
compact realms on each side of it. Those two realms re- 
mained, grew, and flourished, while Lotliaringia fell to pieces. 
Those realms need names from the beginning, and it is hard 
to avoid giving them, though it is still too soon to do so, the 
familiar names of Germany and France. 

Thus we get our first glimpse of France in the modern 
sense, a creation of the ninth century, not of the fifth. As 
Sir Francis Palgrave says, * " this division created territorial 
France." Modern France was thus created, but it was 
created purely by accident. Charles was King over Neustria ; 
and the Emperor Lewis, wishing to enlarge the appanage of 
his favourite son, added the kingdom of Aquitaine, which 
fell vacant by the death of his brother Pippin. Neustria 
and Aquitaine together made France, such a France as lasted 
till the fourteenth century ; a France without Alpine slopes 
or frontiers of the Rhine ; a France which, instead of the 
Rhine, barely reached to the Rhone, and which still had to 
" reunite," not only Savoy and Nizza, but Provence, Dauphiny, 
the County of Burgundy, Lyons, Bresse, Bugey, Elsass, and 
Lothringen. And even within the limits of the new king- 
dom, the position of Aquitaine shows how utterly accidental 
and artificial the creation was. Aquitaine, the kingdom of 

* History of England and Normandy, i. 345. 


Pippin, had no love for the sway of Charles of Neustria ; 
it was constantly revolting on behalf of Pippin's heirs, as the 
representatives of its national independence. Aquitaine was 
joined to Neustria by the command of Lewis the Fious ; but 
no effectual union took place for ages ; all that the command 
of the pious Emperor brought about was to invest the 
Neustrian King with vague and nearly nominal rights, which 
did not fully become realities for six hundred years. Aqui- 
taine was to the Kings of the French pretty much what 
Romagna was to the Popes. Constantine or Pippin or Charles 
or Matilda or Rudolf gave Romagna to the Holy See ; but 
the sovereignty of the Holy See was of the most unpractical 
kind till its rights were at last enforced by the sword of 
Ca3sar Borgia. So it was with Aquitaine : nominally part of 
the kingdom of Charles the Bald, it soon split into two great 
principalities, differing in nothing but name from sovereign 
kingdoms. The Duke of Aquitaine and the Count of Tou- 
louse came to rank among the princes of Europe. They 
might be vassals of the King of France, but their vassalage 
went no further than placing the royal name in the dates of 
their charters. During the busy French and Norman history 
of the tenth century, the French chroniclers tell us much 
about Germany and something about England, but about 
Southern Gaul we only hear just enough to assure us that it 
had not vanished from the face of creation. The Loire seems 
in those days to have been the truest natural boundary ; 
between Northern and Southern Gaul we find few relations 
either of peace or war, but something very like utter 
mutual oblivion. As time rolled on, the Aquitanian duchy 
\\;is, in the twelfth century, united to the crown of England ; 
while the eastern portion of Old Aquitaine, Languedoc, or 
the ( 'oiinly of Toulouse, became, in the next age, one of the 
iii-t and greatest acquisitions of the Kings of Paris. Few 
portions of history are less understood than that of the noble 
duchj which bo long formed one of the fairest possessions 
of our own kings. Few Englishmen understand the diffe- 
rence between the English tenure of Bourdeaux and the 


English tenure of Calais. When the Black Prince kept his 
court at Bourdeaux as Prince of Aquitaine, most readers look 
upon him as an English conqueror, just like Henry the 
Fifth at Paris. Bourdeaux is marked in the modern map as 
part of France ; therefore people do not understand that, 
till its loss in the fifteenth century, the Kings of France had 
never held it at all, except during the momentary and 
fraudulent occupation of Aquitaine by Philip the Fair. 
When Talbot fell before Chastillon, he fell in the cause, not 
of the bondage, but of the independence of the Pyrensean 
duchy, in the same cause which Hunholt and Lupus fought for 
against Charles the Great, and Pippin and Sancho against 
Charles the Bald. In short, Louis the Pious might grant 
Aquitaine in the ninth century to Charles the Bald, but it 
was only Charles the Seventh, in the fifteenth century, who 
first really obtained possession of the gift. 

The Frankish Empire, as we have seen, was divided by 
the treaty of Verdun into three kingdoms : the Eastern and 
Western, which grew severally into modern Germany and 
France, and the central realm of Italy and Lotharingia, 
which soon fell asunder. The next forty years form little 
but a history of unions and partitions. Each father tried to 
divide his dominions amongst his sons ; each brother or uncle 
did his best to seize to himself the inheritance of his brothers 
and nephews. Of all the princes of that age, the Emperor 
Lewis the Second, reigning in Italy as a real Roman Caesar, 
and fighting in the cause of Christendom against the Saracen, 
is the only one who can claim any portion of our esteem. 
Even he was not altogether free from the general vice ; but 
he has at least merits to set against it which we do not find 
in the case of his fellows. The whole period is one of utter 
confusion and division. At last, in 885, nearly the whole of 
the Carolingian Empire was reunited in the person of 
Charles the Fat. He had gradually gathered on his brow 
tin' Imperial crown of Pome and the royal crowns of Ger- 
many, Italy, and the Western Kingdom. Still to this re- 
union one important exception must be made. One state, 


part of the Lotkaringia of forty years earlier, kad set tke 
example of entire revolt from tke blood of tke great Ckarles. 
In 879 Coimt Boso was elected and crowned King over a 
kingdom wkick, as Sir Francis Palgrave says, kas almost 
vanisked from kistory, but wkose memory it is just now 
kigkly desirable to recall. Boso made tke beginnings of tke 
short-lived Kingdom of Burgundy or Aries, a kingdom lying 
between France and Italy, and which may be roughly 
described as the country between the Bhone and the Alps. 
In modern geographical language, it includes Provence, 
Orange, the Venaissin, Daupkiny, Lyons, Bresse, Bugey, the 
County of Burgundy (or Franche Comte), with Savoy, Nizza, 
and a large part of Switzerland. On the theory of natural 
boundaries, the Kingdom of Burgundy seems quite as well 
marked out as the Kingdom of France. The Ehone and the 
Saone to the west, the Alps to the east, the Mediterranean 
to the south, make as good lines of demarcation as one com- 
monly meets with in the political map. Nearly all its in- 
habitants were of the Bomance speech — all except a small 
German territory in what long afterwards became Switzerland. 
As far as we can see, Burgundy had much more right to ask 
to extend itself to the Ocean by swallowing up the kindred 
province of Aquitaine than Parisian France had to ask to 
extend itself to the Alps by swallowing up the far more 
foreign Kingdom of Burgundy. 

In 887 Charles the Fat was deposed by common consent 
of his various realms, which were from henceforth separated 
with a far more thorough and lasting separation than before. 
The Carolingian Empire vanishes ; even the rank of Emperor 
-inks into a kind of abeyance. Emperors indeed were 
crowned during the first half of the ninth century ; but there 
was no dynasty which permanently united Imperial power to 
Imperial pretensions till, in 962, Otto the Great finally 
annexed the Roman Empire and the Italian kingdom to kis 
own Teutonic crown. Tke division of 888 was really tke 
beginning <>f the modem slates and the modern divisions of 
Europe. The Carolingian Umpire was broken up into four 


separate kingdoms: the Western Kingdom, answering roughly 
to France, the Eastern Kingdom or Germany, Italy, and 
Burgundy. Of these, the three first remain as the greatest 
nations of the Continent: Burgundy, by that name, has 
vanished ; but its place as an European power is filled, far 
more worthily than by any King or Caesar, by the noble 
Confederation of Switzerland. 

Of the four kingdoms thus formed, three at once cast away 
their allegiance to the Carolingian blood. Germany elected 
Arnulf, a bastard of the Imperial house ; but, after the death 
of his son Lewis, the Teutonic sceptre passed altogether 
away from the male line of Pippin and Charles. Boso of 
Burgundy was connected with that race only by marriage. 
Italy chose shifting Kings and Emperors of her own. The 
Western Kingdom chose the patriarch of that long line which 
was, with two periods of intermission, to rule her down to our 
own day, which still reigns over Castile and Aragon,* and 
which we have seen happily expelled from the minor thrones 
of Parma and of both the Sicilies. 

The division of 843 first introduced us to a Bomance — 
that is, really a Celtic — Francia, as distinguished from the 
elder Teutonic Francia of the old Frankish Kings. The 
division of 888 first introduces us to a Capetian and a Parisian 
Francia. Since the death of the great Charles, the city on 
the Seine, the old home of Julian, had been gradually rising 
in consequence. It plays an important part during the 
reign of his son Lewis the Pious. Characteristically enough, 
Paris first appears in our history as the scene of a conspiracy 
against her Teutonic master. There it was that, in 830, the 
rebels gathered who seized and imprisoned, and at last 
deposed, the pious Emperor. Later in the ninth century 
Taris won a more honourable renown; she became the bul- 
wark of Gaul against the inroads of the Northmen. The 
pirates soon found out the importance of the position of the 
city in any attack or defence of Gaul from her northern side. 

* [In 1860 I did not foresee an Italian — in 860 he would have been a 
Burgundian — King of Spain.] 


Through her great deeds and sufferings in this warfare, 
Paris grew into a centre, a capital, first a ducal and then a 
royal city. The great siege of Paris in 885 and 886, and its 
gallant defence by Count Eudes or Odo, fixed the destiny of 
the city as the future capital of the land. On the deposition 
of Charles the Fat, Count Odo was, after some ineffectual 
attempts on behalf of other candidates, elected and conse- 
crated to what we are now strongly tempted to speak of as 
the Kinerdom of France. 

Yet the notion of a great Frankish realm, held in a sort 
of co-parcenary, long survived the day when the descendants 
of Charles ceased to be its masters. Germany, the old 
Frankish land, long clave to the Frankish name. One of 
her greatest Imperial dynasties was of Frankish blood. Nor 
did their Saxon predecessors and their Swabian successors 
reject the title. As late as the reign of Frederick Barbarossa, 
the name of Frank was still used, and used too with an air of 
triumph, as equivalent to the name of German.* The Kings 
and kingdoms of this age had indeed no fixed titles, because 
all were still looked on as mere portions of the great Frankish 
realm. Another step has now been taken towards the crea- 
tion of modern France ; but the older state of things has not 
yet wholly passed away. Germany has no definite name; 
for a long time it is Francia Orientalis, Francia Teutoniea ; 
then it becomes Regnum Teutonicum, Regnum Teutonicorum.\ 
But it is equally clear that, within the limits of that Western 
or Latin France, Francia and Francus were fast getting 
their modern meanings of France and Frenchman, as distin- 
guished from Frank or German ; % they were, in fact, names 

* Otto of Freisingen, passim. See especially the speech of Frederick, 
ii. 22 (Mural. .ri, vi. 722). 

t In the bull of deposition of Henry IV., Hildebrand uses the curious 
form "totius regni Theutonicorum et Italice gubernacula contradico" 
(Bruno de Bel. Sax. cap. 70, ap. Pertz, vii. 354). Italy had a local name; 
Germany had none. So Eenry just before talks of " regnum Italian" but 
we do not remember " regnum Germaniaj" or " Alemaniaj" in that age. 

% [The use ol the word Francia in writers of the ninth century is very 
Somcl " '■■ d of the whole Eegnuin Occidentdle. 


of honour to which each of the divided nations clave as 
specially its own. Even so early as the reign of Lewis 
the Pious, one writer distinguished Fraud and Germani* 
meaning by the former the people of the Western Kingdom. 
Gradually the name was, in the usage of Gaul and of Europe, 
thoroughly fixed in this sense. The Merwings, the Karlings, 
the Capets, all alike called themselves Beges Francorum ; 
Francus having of course totally changed its meaning in the 
meanwhile. In the Eastern Kingdom, on the other hand, 
the German sovereign, when he had grown into a Roman 
Emperor, gradually dropped his style as Frankish King. It 
is this continuity of name and title which gives to modern, 
" Western," " Latin," France a false appearance of being a 
continuation or representative of the old Frankish kingdom. 
But no one who really understands the history of the time 
can doubt for a moment that, among the four kingdoms 
which arose out of the ruins of the Carolingian Empire, it 
was " Eastern Francia," the " Teutonic Kingdom," which 
might most truly claim, in extent of territory, in retention 
of language, in possession of the old seats of royalty, to be 
the true representative of the Francia of Charles the Great. 
Odo of Paris then, in 888, became Bex Francorum in a 
sense which, modern as the words sound, cannot be so well 
translated as by the familiar title of " King of the French." 
We have at last France before us, with Paris for her capital 
and the lord of Paris for her king. But neither the Carol- 
ingian race nor the Carolingian interest was as yet extinct 
in the Western Francia. The next century is a history of a 
continued struggle in various forms between the German and 
what we may now call the French blood, between the Carol- 
ingian and the Capetian House, between Paris and Laon, 

This is an intermediate sense between its widest and its narrowest meanine 
and a sense roughly answering to that to which it has come back in 
modem times. But within the Western Kingdom it soon became fixed, to 
the Parisian Duchy with its Dukes and. Kings, and in the East to Francia 
Orientalis or TeutonicaJ] 
* Vita Nludowici Imp. cap. 15, ap. Pertz, ii. G33. 


between the Duke of the French, the lord of Paris, and the 
lord of Laon, still the West-Frankish King. Oclo was elected 
as the hero of the siege of Paris, the true champion of Gaul 
and of Christendom. But he soon found a rival in the in- 
capable Charles the Simple, whose only claim was the doubt- 
ful belief that the blood of his great namesake flowed in his 
veins. Charles was again overthrown by Duke Robert, the 
brother of King Odo, who himself afterwards reigned as the 
second of the Parisian Kings. Charles in his turn overthrew 
Robert, who died in battle at Soissons in 923. The heir of 
the Capetian house was Hugh, surnamed the Great. His 
career was a strange one : he refused the offered crown, and 
preferred the character of a King-maker to that of a King. 
One can hardly help thinking that he had some superstitious 
dread of a title which had brought little but sorrow to his 
father and uncle ; for he certainly bore himself as a King in 
everything but name. He bore what to us sounds the strange 
title of Dux Francorum ; and, as Duke of the French, he was 
a far more powerful potentate than the King of the French 
who was his nominal sovereign. On the death of Robert, he 
declined the royal dignity for himself, and passed it on to 
his brother-in-law, Rudolph or Raoul, Duke of French Bur- 
gundy. He next, like our own King-maker of a later day, 
passed it on to Lewis the son of Charles. The Carolingian 
King once more reigned on the rock of Laon, but he found 
anything but a peaceful subject in the mighty Duke of Paris. 
The Duke of the French allowed himself full power of revolt, 
of disobeying, attacking, expelling, imprisoning the King of 
the French, — anything, in short, but avowedly reigning in 
his stead. King Lewis was succeeded by his son Lothav, 
and Duke Hugh the Great by his son Hugh Capet. The 
younger Hugh however, though in no imprudent hurry to 
obtain a crown, had Dot liis lather's rooted objection to receive 
one. He remained Duke of the French during the long 
reign of Lothar and the short reign of his son Lewis ; at last, 
in 987, on the death of Lewis, Hugh brought about his own 
election. The struggle went on for a while in the person of 


Charles of Lotharingia, the Carolingian pretender ; but Hugh 
kept his crown and handed it on to his descendants. He 
founded, in short, the most enduring of all dynasties. No 
other royal patriarch has been succeeded by more than eight 
centuries of direct male descendants, by three centuries and 
a half of unbroken succession from father to son. Since 987 
no King of France of any other line has felt the touch of the 
consecrating oil of Kheinis. Hugh's own city has indeed 
beheld the coronation of one English Kins; and of one Cor- 
sican Tyrant. Both alike yielded to the claims of the return- 
ing Capetian. Who can tell whether a race endowed with 
such an unparalleled gift of permanency may not again return 
to the city which their forefathers first raised to greatness ? 

The immediate results of Hugh's elevation were not very 
marked. The Duke of the French became the King of the 
French, and the same prince reigned at Paris and at Laon. 
But in the greater part of Gaul the change from the Carol- 
ingian to the Capetian line was hardly felt. To Hugh's own 
subjects it made little practical difference whether their 
prince were called Duke or King. Beyond the Loire men 
were utterly heedless who might reign either at Paris or at 
Laon. But slight as may have been the immediate change, 
the event of 987 was a real revolution: it was the completion 
of a change which had been preparing for a century and a 
half, and it was the true beginning of a new period. The 
modern Kingdom of France dates its definite existence from 
the election of Hugh ; the partitions of 843 and 888 showed 
in what way the stream of events was running, but the change 
of 987 was the full establishment of the thing itself. There 
was now at last, what till quite lately there has been ever 
since, a French King reigning at Paris. When we remember 
all that Paris has been since, how completely it has become, 
not merely the centre of France, but France itself, it is clear 
that the mere change of the royal city was alone an event of 
the highest importance. The rock of Laon could never have 
won the same position as the island-city of the Seine. It 
might have remained a royal fortress ; it could never have 


become a national capital. The Karlings remained German 
to the last ; the Kings of Laon were Franks in the old sense, 
the Kings of Paris were Frenchmen in the new. The native 
tongue of King Lewis was Teutonic; the native tongue of 
Kinjr Himh was Romance. France now breaks off all traces 
of her old connexion with Germany. Hitherto the " King 
beyond the Rhine " has been, in friendship or in enmity, an 
important personage in the politics of Latin Francia ; even 
in the middle of the tenth century we find Otto of Saxony 
and Lewis of Laon still acting like royal colleagues in the 
administration of one Frankish realm. From the election 
of Hugh the German Cajsar becomes an utter stranger to the 
Capetian realm. Lotharingia too becomes definitely German. 
As long as Kings of the Carolingian house still reigned in 
Western Francia, Lotharingia was a border land of France 
and Germany, the seat of loyalty to the Carolingian house, 
but preferring a German to a mere Frenchman. But after 
the Capetian revolution it becomes an undoubted fief of the 
Teutonic Kingdom. Its Carolingian loyalty remained un- 
touched ; it still might boast of having a descendant of 
Charles and Pippin for its immediate ruler ; but that ruler 
was no longer a King of the Western Francia or a pretender 
to its crown, but a Duke holding his states in fee of the 
Saxon Emperor. 

Thus the change of dynasty in U87 marks the final estab- 
lishment of France in the modern sense. The geographical 
name was still, for the most part, confined to the Parisian 
Duchy, but the Regnum Francorum, in its modern sense, 
had now come into being. Its boundaries, as they stood 
under the early Parisian Kings, differed hardly at all from 
tin- West-Frankish boundaries as settled in 8-13. But we 
should bear carefully in mind how utterly nominal the royal 
authority \\;is over the greater [tart of the territory com- 
prised within those limits. It should be thoroughly under- 
stood, (irst, that the kingdom as it then stood was very much 
smaller than modern France; secondly, that, even within 
the kingdom, the King was merely the head of a body of 



sovereign princes, some of whom were at least as powerful as 
himself. The subsequent history of France is the history of 
two processes : first, the conversion of a nominal feudal supe- 
riority into a direct sovereignty over the whole kingdom ; 
secondly, the annexation of divers states which formed no 
part of the kingdom at all. The two processes are not 
accurately distinguished in popular imagination, and the 
Parisian phrase of " reunion " greatly tends to confound them. 
To talk of the " reunion " of Normandy or French Burgundy 
is not absolute nonsense, because Normandy and French 
Burgundy were, at all events by a fiction of feudal law, 
grants proceeding from the crown of France, which were 
afterwards reincorporated with the royal domain from which 
they had been severed. But a " reunion " of Provence, Lor- 
raine, or Savoy, is absolute nonsense, because those provinces 
never formed any part of the Capetian monarchy. These 
two processes, of internal consolidation and of external 
aggression, have now been going on side by side for six 
hundred years. It will best suit our purpose to give a brief 
sketch of the results of each separately. 

The Kingdom of France, as it stood in 987, contained six 

great principalities besides the royal domain, namely, those 

afterwards called the six Lay Peerages — Flanders, Normandy, 

Aquitaine, Toulouse, Burgundy, and Champagne. The titles 

of Toulouse and Champagne may be a little later, but the 

states themselves already existed. Besides these, there were 

a crowd of smaller potentates, holding either of the crown or 

of these great vassals. With the exception of the Spanish 

March and of part of Flanders, all these states have long 

been fully incorporated with the French monarchy.- But we 

must remember that, under the earlier French Kings, the 

connexion of most of these provinces with their nominal 

suzerain was even looser than the connexion of the German 

princes after the peace of Westphalia with the Viennese 

Emperors. A great French Duke was as independent within 

his own dominions as an Elector of Saxony or Bavaria, and 

there were no common institutions, no Diet or assembly of 



any kind, to bring him into fellowship either with his liege 
lord or with his fellow-vassals. Aquitaine and Toulouse, as 
we have already said, seem almost to have forgotten that 
there was any King of the French at all, or at all events that 
they had anything to do with him. They did not often even 
pay him the compliment of waging war upon him, a mode of 
recognition of his existence which was constantly indulged in 
by their brethren of Normandy and Flanders. Normandy 
was the possession of Scandinavian invaders, whom a resi- 
dence in Gaul was fast transforming into Frenchmen of a 
grander type. Charles the Simple granted the province to 
Hrolf Ganger, the Rou or Rollo of French and Latin writers, 
and along with it he granted a feudal superiority over the 
turbulent Celts of Britanny. The Norman Dukes speedily 
changed into French princes, and played a most important 
part in French history. At last one of their number won 
the crown of England, and nearly a century later a count of 
Anjou inherited England and Normandy from his mother, 
and received Aquitaine and Poitou as the dowry of his wife. 
A perfectly novel power was thus formed in France. We 
must not transfer to the twelfth century the ideas of two or 
three centuries later, and look upon Henry the Second as 
an English King reigning in France. Henry was a French- 
man, a French feudatory, who had contrived to unite in his 
own hands an accumulation of French fiefs, which rendered 
him, even on French ground, far stronger than his nominal 
suzerain. The possession of England gave him a higher title 
than that of Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine ; its valiant 
inhabitants of both races added to his military strength. 
But England was not his home ; it was not the Englishman 
who reigned over Anjou, but the Angevin who reigned over 
England. Henry and Richard held greater territories in 
France than those of the King and the other feudatories put 
together. They held the mouths of all the great rivers, and 
possessed the great cities of Rouen, Tours, Poitiers, and 
Bourdeaux. The King meanwhile, the lord of Paris and 
Orleans, was cooped up in the centre of his nominal 


dominions. Thus matters stood at the beginning of the 
thirteenth century ; but they were not a little altered before 
its close. "When Philip Augustus came to the throne, the 
King of the French did not own a single seaport ; but Philip 
the Fair could boast of a seaboard on the English Channel, 
the Ocean and the Mediterranean. The crimes of John lost 
him all the northern part of his French possessions. Nor- 
mandy, 31aine, Anjou, and Touraine were incorporated with 
the royal domain. Britanny, the arriere-fief of Normandy, 
became an immediate fief of the crown till the time when it 
was united with France through the marriage of Lewis the 
Twelfth and Anne of Britanny. The loss of Normandy and 
the other lands wrested by Philip from John had the twofold 
effect of making both the King of the French and the King 
of the English what their formal titles imported. When the 
crown of France had entered by forfeiture on Normandy, 
Anjou, and Touraine, it had become far stronger than any 
single feudatory. Again, the English Kings of the Angevin 
House, now cut off from their old home, began to be really 
English rulers. Hitherto England had been a dependency 
of Normandy or Anjou ; now Aquitaine became a dependency 
of England. The wars of Henry the Second and Eichard 
the First were French wars, the struggles of a French 
feudatory striving to get the better of his suzerain. The 
wars of Edward the Third, and still more the wars of Henry 
the Fifth, were English wars. They began indeed in French 
dynastic claims, but it soon appeared that their real object 
was the subjection of France to England. As such, they do 
not immediately concern our subject. The aspect in which 
they do bear upon it is this. By the Peace of Bretigny 
Edward the Third gave up his claims on the crown of France ; 
but he was acknowledged in return as independent Prince of 
Aquitaine, without any homage or superiority being reserved 
to the French monarch. When Aquitaine therefore was 
conquered by France, partly in the fourteenth, fully in the 
fifteenth century, it was not the " reunion " of a forfeited fief, 
but the absorption of a distinct and sovereign state. The 

o 2 


feelings of Aquitaiiie itself seem to have been divided. The 
nobles to a great extent, though far from universally, pre- 
ferred the French connexion. It better fell in with their 
notions of chivalry, feudal dependency, and the like ; the 
privileges too which French law conferred on noble birth 
would make their real interests lie that way. But the great 
cities and, we have reason to believe, the mass of the people 
also, clave faithfully to their ancient Dukes ; and they had 
good reason to do so. The English Kings, both by habit 
and by interest, naturally protected the municipal liberties 
of Bourdeaux and Bayonne, and they exposed no part of 
their subjects to the horrors of French taxation and general 
oppression. ^Yhen, in 1451, the first conquest was achieved, 
and the Bourdelese for the first time felt what the hand of a 
French master really was, they speedily revolted in favour of 
the more distant and more indulgent lord. The French con- 
quest of Aquitaine was very much like what a French con- 
quest of the Channel Islands would be now. The theory of 
natural boundaries claims them equally, and the theory of 
identity of language claims them with better right. But in 
the teeth of all theories, the people of Bourdeaux knew then, 
and the people of Jersey know now, that practical liberty 
and good government does not lie on the side of the power 
to which abstract theories would assign them. 

We have somewhat overshot our mark in order to complete 
the history of the English dominion in France. We now come 
back to the thirteenth century. Besides Normandy and 
Anjou, the forfeited goods of the felon John, the crown of 
France, during that century, obtained the County of Cham- 
pagne by marriage, and that of Toulouse as the ultimate re- 
sult of the Albigensian wars. Of the six lay peerages, Flanders 
and Burgundy alono remained. French Burgundy was 
granted out by Hugh Capet to a younger branch of his own 
family, and ; when that race of Dukes became extinct, the 
Baxne policy was carried on by Charles the Fifth in 1363, 
when he invested his son Philip with the duchy. Philip 
obtained by marriage the remaining peerage, the County of 


Flanders. Under Philip the Good and Charles the Bold 
there seemed every prospect of Burgundy, in the later sense, 
becoming a greater kingdom than ever Burgundy had been 
in the old. The fiefs which the Dukes of Burgundy of the 
House of Valois held of the Empire and of the crown of 
France raised them to a place among the greatest powers of 
Eurorje. At last the might and the hopes of Charles were 
shivered beneath the halbert of the free Switzer. Ducal 
Burgundy itself fell into the grasp of Lewis the Eleventh, and 
a fifth great fief was " reunited " to the Parisian crown. But 
Flanders remained, together with those Imperial fiefs which 
nature seems to have connected with it, to become not the 
least valuable possession of the universal monarchy of Charles 
the Fifth. For Flanders and for Artois Charles the Fifth 
was the nominal liegeman of his rival Francis. The Treaty 
of Madrid abolished this antiquated claim of suzerainty ; and 
in vain did the Parliament of Paris, some years later, strive 
to win back the right, and to carry out against Charles the 
same process which, three hundred years sooner, had been so 
successfully carried out against John Lackland. The Count 
of Flanders and Artois was summoned to the court of his 
liege lord, and, as he did not appear, he was deprived of his 
lands for contumacy. But the sentence was more easily 
pronounced than executed against a Count of Flanders and 
Artois who was also Emperor of the Romans and King of 
Spain and the Indies. Flanders and Artois remained 
to the House of Austria till the wars of Lewis the Four- 
teenth incorporated all Artois and part of Flanders with 
the French monarchy. The rest of Flanders was reserved, 
by a happier lot, to form part of the free monarchy of 

Thus, at various periods spread over more than four hun- 
dred years, all the great feudal states of France were gradually 
incorporated with the crown. On the other hand, the nominal 
boundaries of Capetian France have gone back in three places. 

* The extreme northern part of the old county belongs to the Kingdom 
of the Netherlands, but much the greater part is Belgian. 


The feudal superiority of the French crown extended over 
three districts which now form part of other states. As we 
have implied in our last paragraph, King Leopold owes no 
homage to the Parisian despot for the County of Flanders ; 
nor is any paid by the Catholic Queen for the County of Barce- 
lona, the royal rights over which, even more nominal than 
elsewhere, were finally surrendered by Saint Lewis. Our own 
sovereign also retains, with the most perfect good will of the 
inhabitants, those insular portions of the Duchy of Normandy 
against which Philip's sentence of forfeiture was pronounced 
in vain. With these three exceptions, the France of 1860 
takes in the whole of the France of 987 ; it also takes in a 
great deal besides. 

We have thus traced the steps by which the Kings of Paris 
gradually gathered under their immediate dominion the 
whole, or nearly so, of those states Avhich were at least 
nominally dependent upon them. We have now to follow 
the course of annexation in those countries which had never, 
even nominally, formed part of the Capetian monarchy. In 
so doing we may pass lightly over mere temporary con- 
quests, and confine ourselves to those annexations which have 
really become part and parcel of the French monarchy. 
Thus the Yalois Kings were always conquering and always 
1 using Naples and Milan, as well as Piedmont and Savoy; 
but Piedmont, Naples, and Milan have never permanently 
become parts of France. Thus again, under Napoleon the 
First, the French "empire" threatened to become the empire 
of all Europe ; but happily this extended dominion did not 
descend to Napoleon the "Third." But we suspect that 
people in general are not aware how much territory, ori- 
ginally French in no sense, has been gradually and perma- 
nently swallowed up by the Parisian monarchy since the 
reign of Philip the Pair. 

I 'ranee, ;is it stood under the early Capets, was bounded to 
tin- south by the various kingdoms of Spain, to the east by 
the states holding of tin- Holy Koman Empire. With Spain 
B'rance has had comparatively Little to do. The existence of 


a real " natural boundary " may have had something to do 
with this ; still the line of the Pyrenees has not always been 
held perfectly sacred on either side. More than one of the 
French Kings held the Kingdom of Navarre by a personal 
hereditary right. The Bourbon dynasty permanently bore 
the title ; but their Navarre consisted only of that small por- 
tion of the kingdom which lies north of the Pyrenees. At 
the eastern end of the mountain range the frontier was long 
unsettled, and Koussillon did not finally become French till 
the Peace of 1659. In the space between Navarre and Eous- 
sillon, the sovereigns of France, in the character, however, 
not of Kings but of Counts of Foix, have appeared in the 
more honourable aspect of Protectors of the Republic of 
Andorra. But the relations of France towards Spain are of 
far less importance than her relations towards the Empire. 
We left the German kingdom at the moment of its definitive 
separation from that of Western France in 888. In the 
next century Otto the Great permanently united to it the 
crown of Italy or the Lombard kingdom, and also the Im- 
perial crown of Rome. In the next century the Kingdom of 
Burgundy was acquired by virtue of the bequest of its last 
separate sovereign. Thus were the kingdoms of Germany, 
Italy, and Burgundy united under a single ruler. The King 
of the Eastern Franks inherited the Imperial style of 
Charles the Great, and he possessed three out of the four 
divisions of his Empire. He held alike the Teutonic and the 
Italian capital of the great Emperor. Western France might 
look like a single province torn away from the main body of 
the Frankish realm. During the first three centuries of the 
Capetian dynasty, France was weak and Germany strong. 
The great Saxon, Frankish, and Swabian Emperors wielded 
a far more practical authority over the whole of their vast 
dominions than the King of Paris wielded over his nominal 
realm of Latin France. But while the Capets were gradually 
consolidating their power over France, the Emperors began 
to lose theirs over Germany and Italy, and in the greater 
part of their Burgundian dominions the Imperial authority 


became more nominal still. Frederick Barbarossa was 
crowned at Aries as King of Burgundy ; but a century after- 
wards the allegiance of Provence to King Rudolf of Hapsburg 
was very precarious indeed. As France grew stronger and 
more united, she found her whole eastern frontier, from 
Hainault to Provence, formed by a succession of petty states, 
duchies, counties, bishopricks,and free cities, disunited among 
themselves, and owning a very nominal subjection to their 
Imperial suzerain. The King of the French was to most of 
them at once a nearer and a more powerful neighbour than 
the Emperor of the Eomans : he was a more dangerous foe 
and a more desirable friend. Some provinces had a greater 
likeness in language and manners to France than to 
Germany. To the nobles, and even to the princes them- 
selves, the splendours of the French court offered a constant 
attraction. To take a familiar instance, the great House of 
Guise, in the sixteenth century, forsook their position as 
princes of the sovereign blood of Lorraine to assume that of 
French nobles and French party-leaders. The whole of these 
small states lay admirably open alike to French intrigue and 
to French violence ; by one means or the other nearly all 
have been won. The five centuries and a half since Philip 
the Fair are one long record of French aggrandizement at 
the expense of the territories of the Empire. 

Of the three kingdoms attached to the Empire, Italy has 
been constantly overrun by French armies, and portions, like 
Milan, Piedmont, and Genoa, have been held by France, by 
conquest or by some pretended hereditary right, for consider- 
able periods. But no portion of the Italian mainland has 
been permanently retained by France. But in the last cen- 
tury, by one of the most disreputable of juggles, France ob- 
fcained the Italian island of Corsica without a shadow of 
rL'lit, and lias hem repaid by obtaining from thence the line 
of In ii own Tyrants. 

The Kingdom of Germany has suffered large dismem- 
berments. In the sixteenth century the three Lotharingian 
bishoprieka of Met/, Toul, and Verdun were won by a mix- 


ture of force and fraud; but it was only late in the last 
century that the duchy in which those bishopricks were 
enclaves was finally incorporated with France. The Peace of 
Westphalia gave France, not, as many people think, the 
whole of Elsass, but the possessions and rights of the House 
of Austria within it. Such a cession left large portions of the 
province legally as much parts of the Empire as they were 
before. But such a cession opened a most taking field for the 
process of " reunion," and the " reunion " went on bit-by -bit 
till the last robbery was done at the Great Revolution. One 
act of this long drama stands out above all others, the 
seizing of Strassburg by Lewis the Fourteenth in a time of 
perfect peace. The same monarch, too, at the time when he 
recovered a portion of the old French fief of Flanders, 
seized also a portion of the Imperial fief of Hennegau — ■ 
Gall ice Hainault. 

But it has been against the old Kingdom of Burgundy that 
the aggressions of the Parisian monarchy have been most 
constant and most successful. For that very reason they 
are much less familiarly known : there are more people who 
know that Lorraine has not always been French than 
there are people who know that the same is true of Pro- 
vence. It is therefore specially desirable to trace them 
in order. We have seen that the old frontier, the " natural 
boundary," of France to the east, was the Phone, the line 
above Lyons being continued along the Saone. The land 
between the Rhone and the Alps was the Kingdom of Boso, 
afterwards, as we have seen, united to the Imperial crown. At 
the expense of that kingdom France has, in the space of five 
centuries, gained fifteen departments, counting those which 
she has made out of her last stealings of Savoy and Nizza. The 
Burgundian kingdom, lying further away from the Imperial 
power than either Germany or Italy, fell away earlier and 
more completely than either, and split up into a host of small 
principalities and commonwealths. All of these, except those 
which still retain their independence as portions of the Swiss 
League, have been gradually swallowed up by the vultures 


of Paris. The Khcme frontier was first permanently violated 
by Philip the Fair in 1310. In the free Imperial city of 
Lyons, as in so many others, violent disputes raged between 
the citizens and the Prince-Archbishops. Philip seized the 
favourable opportunity treacherously to occupy the city, and 
to reduce prince and people alike to bondage. Later in the 
century, the Dauphiny or County of Yienne was bequeathed 
by its last priuce to the eldest son of the King of France for 
the time being, to be held as a separate sovereignty with the 
title of Dauphin. This of course soon sank into actual an- 
nexation. Lewis the Eleventh, in the next century, seized 
upon the County of Provence by a pretended hereditary 
right. The way to this acquisition was doubtless not a 
little smoothed by the fact that the sovereign Counts had for 
some generations been princes of the blood-royal of France. 
Bresse and Bugey, part of the dominions of Savoy, were 
acquired by Henry the Fourth in exchange for the French 
claims on the Marquisate of Saluzzo, a change which first 
made France an immediate neighbour of Switzerland. The 
little state of Orange was obtained in 1732 by exchange with 
Prussia. The County of Burgundy was first acquired in the 
fourteenth century, like Navarre, by a hereditary claim ; but 
like Navarre, or like Hanover in the case of our own Kings, 
it was separated again before it had been really incorporated 
with the French monarchy. It was not till the days of 
Lewis the Fourteenth that, after many vicissitudes, the once 
sovereign County-palatine of Burgundy, and the once free 
Imperial city of Besanjon, were finally engulfed in the 
t'liarybdis of French domination. At the breaking-out of 
the French Bevolution all that had escaped of the Burgun- 
dy n kingdom was the Duchy of Savoy, the western part 
of Switzerland and the neighbouring allies of the Swiss 
Leagues, and the Pa pal possessions of Avignon and Venaissin, 
long surrounded l>y curlier annexations. All these were 
swallowed ii]) \)\ the revolutionary torrent ;* but all save the 

[No part of any of the old Swiss Cantons was formally incorporated 
with France; indeed Valid owed to France its independence of Bern. Bui. 


Papal territory recovered their independence by the settlement 
of 1814-15. The last act as yet of the drama, one surpassed 
in perfidious baseness by none of those which have gone 
before it, has been just performed beneath our own eyes. 

It is, we think, not only curious as a piece of past history, 
but really important as a matter of present politics, to trace 
the gradual stages of French aggression in this quarter. A 
steady course of aggrandizement has been carried out for five 
hundred years, and the policy of the Capet has been con- 
tinued by the Buonaparte. The first step was taken by 
Philip the Fair, the father of the old royal tyranny ; the last 
step as yet has fallen to the lot of the kindred genius of 
Louis Napoleon ; — we say the last step as yet, because it is 
impossible to believe that a voluntary check will be put on a 
settled scheme which is now all but accomplished. There is 
no difference in principle between the absorption of Savoy 
and Nizza and the absorption of Yaud and Neufchatel. 
Whatever arguments justify the one would with an equally 
"irresistible logic" justify the other. We are told that 
Nizza and Savoy are provinces " essentially French ;" they 
can be so only in a sense in which Geneva and Lausanne, and 
yet more Brussels and Saint Heliers, are essentially French 
also. Those obligations of treaties which guarantee the in- 
dependence and neutrality of Switzerland are not more sacred 
than those which guarantee that neutrality of Northern Savoy 
without which the independence of Switzerland is a name. 
That this scheme of aggrandizement, that all schemes of 
aggrandizement, are solemnly denied, proves about as much 
as was proved some months ago by the no less solemn denial 
of all designs upon Savoy. We have long learned how to 
trust the man whose lips uttered the words " Je le jure," and 
who kept the oath by a December massacre. 

In short, among a crowd of ancient and independent states 
which have been gradually swallowed up, one alone remains. 

Switzerland became practically dependent on Fiance, and the allied states 
of Geneva, Wallis, Neufchatel, and the Bishoprick of Basel, were actually 


Switzerland, the very home and cradle of freedom, is the last 
remnant of the many centres of political life which once 
existed between the Rhone and the Alps. Marseilles, Lyons, 
Besancon, were once as free as Bern and Geneva. The Im- 
perial Eabshakek may stand before the still unattacked 
citadel of freedom, and point to the lands which he has 
destroyed utterly, and ask in his pride if the remnant which 
is left shall venture to hope for deliverance. French cannon 
bristling on the shores of the Lake of Geneva can be pointed 
in one direction only, that direction which French aggression 
has been constantly taking since the banner of the fieur-de- 
lys first showed itself east of the Rhone. It remains for 
Europe to determine whether it will sit by and see the per- 
petration of a wrong before which the annexations of Pro- 
vence and Lorraine, and of Savoy itself, would sink into 

"We have thus traced out the long history of Parisian 
aggression ; but, in common justice, we must make one 
remark on the other side. We said at the outset that, except 
for the monstrous deceptions by which they have always been 
defended, the aggressions of France are in no way more guilty 
than the aggressions of other powers ; in one important respect 
France has much less to answer for than other conquering 
states. To be conquered by France has been at all times a 
less immediate evil than to be conquered by Spain, Austria, 
or Turkey. A province conquered by France has always 
been really incorporated with France : no French conquests 
have ever been kept in the condition of subject dependencies ; 
theii inhabitants have at once been admitted to the rights 
and the wrongs, the good and the evil fortune of French- 
men, and they have had every career offered by the French 
monarchy at once opened to them. No French conquest has 

* [1 let all this stand as it was written in 1860. It is well to bear in 
mind thai Pram basi vet been the same under all forms of government, 
and that Switzerland and Europe will have to keep on their guard against 
any Kingdom or Commonwealth which may arise out of the chaos of the 
moment, just as much as they had to keep on their guard against the 
fallen Tyranny.] 


ever been kept in the state in which Spain kept Milan, Naples, 
and the Netherlands, in which Austria has kept Hungary and 
Lombardy, in which the whole Ottoman Empire is kept to 
this day. Savoy will lose much by its transfer from the rule 
of constitutional Sardinia to that of despotic France, but 
there is no fear of its being brought down to the condition of 
Venetia. The geographical position of all the French con- 
quests, except Corsica, has of course tended to this complete 
incorporation, as well as that inherent spirit of French cen- 
tralization which tends to wipe out all local distinctions. 
One must allow that, if conquests are to be made, this is a 
generous and liberal as well as a prudent way of conquering. 
But it has its bad side also. The inhabitants of a country 
conquered by France become Frenchmen, and swell the ranks 
of the aggressors. The subtle process of denationalization 
cuts off that hope of undoing the evil work which always 
exists when a country is kept down under an avowed foreign 
tyranny. One cannot doubt that, when a part of the Spanish 
Netherlands was seized by Lewis the Fourteenth, the inhabi- 
tants found an immediate gain in becoming an integral portion 
of France, instead of a distant dependency of Spain. But 
the immediate gain has been an ultimate loss; had those 
provinces then remained to the House of Austria, they would 
now swell the strength of independent Belgium. So Elsass 
has not suffered at the hands of France as Himgary has 
suffered at the hands of Austria ; but the hope of seeing an 
independent Hungary is a hope far less wild than that of 
seeing Elsass once more a member of a German Confederation 
or Empire. The very best side of French aggression makes 
us feel the more sadly that there are vestigia nulla retrorsum* 
We have thus done our best to show that Parisian France 
in no way represents ancient Gaul or Carolingian Francia. 
France and the French are a modern power and a modern 
nation, of which we see the first glimmerings in the ninth 

* [1 rejoice to have been here a false prophet. The eleven years since 
this was written has given the world both a free Hungary and a German 


century, and which attain something like a definite and last- 
ing position in the tenth. France is essentially an artificial, 
advancing state, just like Sardinia and Prussia in more recent 
times. When Mayors and Bishops hail Louis Napoleon as 
the " successor of Pepin and Charlemagne," they are asserting 
a palpable untruth. Modern Europe contains no real suc- 
cessor of either ; but least of all is the successor of the elected 
King of Aachen, the crowned Csesar of Rome, to be looked 
for in the upstart usurper of Paris. The work of Charles was 
to make Italy and Gaul alike subject to a German monarch. 
No work could less call forth our sympathies at the present 
moment ; but no work could be more unlike the process of 
extending the frontiers of the Celt of Paris over Italian, 
Burgundian, and Teutonic lands. Italy, in the eighth cen- 
tury and in the tenth, invoked a German King as her 
deliverer from her intestine troubles. No such remedy now 
is needed. She can now work her deliverance for herself, 
and she no more needs the hypocritical friendship of the Gaul 
than the open enmity of the Austrian. Before our eyes is 
growing up an Italian kingdom truer and freer than that of 
Charles and Otto, than that of Berengar and Hugh of 
Provence ; and, with a slight change of name and style, we 
may apply to its first and chosen sovereign the words of the 
Pap;ii benediction to Charles himself. Not altogether for his 
own sake, not forgetting the tortuous and faithless policy 
which bartered away the old cradle of his house, still, as to 
the representative of Italian unity, we may say with heart 
and voice : " Victori Emmanueli, a Deo coronato, magno et 
pacifico Italorum Kegi, Romanorum Imperatori futuro, vita 
el victoria!"* 

* [Here, unlike the last note, I can rcjoicein having been a true prophet. 
Rome is again the head of Italy. Whether its sovereign would do well 
to take lip the title to which he, alone among Christian princes, has a real 
right, is another matter. A purely Italian Emperor would simply represent 
Majorian ami Lewis the Second.] 

( 207 ) 



The events of the last few months have in a special way 
drawn the thoughts of men towards two cities which stand 
out among European capitals as witnesses of the way in which 
the history of remote times still has its direct bearing on 
things which are passing before our own eyes. Eome and 
Paris now stand out, as they have stood out in so many 
earlier ages, as the historic centres of a period which, there 
can be no doubt, will live to all time as one of the marked 
periods of the world's history. And it is not the least won- 
derful phsenomenon of this autumn of wonders that, while 
our eyes have been drawn at once to Rome and to Paris, they 
have been drawn far more steadily and with far keener 
interest towards Paris than they have been drawn towards 
Rome. We can hardly doubt, whether we look back to the 
past or onwards to the future, that the fall of the Pope's 

* [This essay was headed by the names of two books : Les Comtes de 
Paris ; Eistoire de I'Avenement de la Troisieme Pace, par Ernest Mourin 
(Taris, Didier & Cie.) and Robert der Tap/ere, Markgraf von Anj'ou, der 
Stammvater des Kapetingischen Eauses. Von Dr. Phil. Eai-l von 
Eahhstein (Berlin, Lowenstein). M. Mourin's book, dated at Angers in 
1869, is a careful and pleasantly-written account of the origin of tbe 
Parisian Kingdom, and it contains one or two good hits at the state of 
things in 1869. But it is amazing to see a man who has really read the 
authorities for the ninth and tenth centuries carried away by dreams about 
a French frontier of the Rhine. Dr. v. Kalckstein's is a most thoroughgoing 
monograph, working up all that is known about its hero from every quarter, 
but perhaps sometimes losing him a little in the general events of his age. 
A more careful study of his book, which I had barely time to glance at 
before the Article first appeared, has enabled me to add and modify some 
sentences, and to add some further references.] 


temporal power is really a greater event than any possible 
result of the war between Germany and France. Yet such 
is the greater immediate interest of the present struggle, such 
perhaps is the instinctive attraction of mankind towards the 
more noisy and brilliant triumphs of the siege and the battle- 
field, that the really greater event, simply because of the 
ease with which it has happened, has passed almost unnoticed 
in the presence of the lesser. The world has seen the Papacy 
in several shapes ; but the shape of a Pontiff spiritually in- 
fallible but politically a subject, and the subject not of an 
universal Emperor but of a mere local King, is something 
which the world has not seen before. What may come of it 
no man can say ; but we may be pretty sure that greater 
things will come of it, in one way or another, than can come out 
of any settlement, in whatever direction, of conflicting French 
and German interests. Still, at this moment, the present 
fate of Paris unavoidably draws to itself more of our thoughts 
than the future fate of Rome. But it is well to keep the 
two cities together before our eyes, and all the more so be- 
cause the past history and the present position of those two 
cities have points in common which no other city in Europe 
shares an 1th them in their fulness, which only one other city 
in Europe can claim to share with them in any degree. 

The history of Rome, as all the world knows, is the history 
of a city Nvhich.grew into an Empire. It grew in truth into 
a twofold, perhaps a more than twofold, Empire. Out of the 
village on the Palatine sprang the Rome of the Caesars and 
the Rome of the Pontiffs. From Rome came the language, 
the theology, the code of law, which have had such an un- 
dying effect on the whole European world. Amidst all 
changes, the city itself has always been clothed with a kind 
of mysterious and superstitious charm, and its possession has 
carried with it an influence which common military and 
political considerations cannot always explain. And from 
the Old Rome on the Tiber many of these attributes passed — 
some were even heightened in passing — to the New Rome on 
the Bosporos. From the days of Constantine till now, no 


man has ever doubted that, in the very nature of things, 
Constantinople, in whatever hands, must be the seat of empire- 
To Western eyes this seems mainly the result of her un- 
rivalled geographical situation ; over large regions of the East 
the New Rome wields the same magic influence which in the 
West has been wielded by the Old. The City,* the City of the 
Caesars, is in Christian eyes the one great object to be won ; in 
Mahometan eyes it is the one great object to be kept. By the 
Bosporos, as by the Tiber, it is the city which has grown into 
the Empire, which has founded it, and which has sustained it. 
Now of the other capitals of Europe — the capitals of the 
more modern states — one alone can claim to have been, in 
this way, the creator of the state of which it is now the head. 
Berlin, Madrid, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Saint Petersburg, 
are simply places chosen in later times, for reasons of caprice 
or convenience, as administrative centres of states which 
already existed. Vienna has grown from the capital of a 
Duchy into the capital of something which calls itself an 
Empire ; but Vienna, as a city, has had nothing to do with 
the growth of that so-called Empire. London may fairly 
claim a higher place than any of the cities of which we have 
spoken. It was only by degrees, and after some fluctuations, 
that London, rather than Winchester, came to be permanently 
acknowledged as the capital of England. London won its 
rank, partly by virtue of an unrivalled military and com- 
mercial position, partly as the reward of the unflinching 
patriotism of its citizens in the Danish wars. But London 
in no way formed England, or guided her destinies. The 
history of London is simply that the city was found to be 
the most fitting and worthy head of an already existing king- 
dom. But Paris has been what London has been, and some- 
thing more. Paris, like London, earned her pre-eminence in 
Gaul by a gallant and successful resistance to the Scandina- 
vian enemy. It was the great siege of Paris in the ninth 
century which made Paris the chief among the cities of Gaul, 
and its Count the chief among the princes of Gaul. Its 

* 'Ey rav no\iv = Stiimboul. 


position first marked it out for the rank of a local capital, 
and, through the way in which it used its position, it grew 
into the capital of a kingdom. But it did not, like London, 
simply grow into the capital of a kingdom already existing. 
The city created first the county, and then the kingdom, of 
which it was successively the head. Modern France, as dis- 
tinguished both from Eoman Gaul and from the "Western 
Kingdom of the Karlings, grew out of the County of Paris ; 
and of the County of Paris the city was not merely the centre) 
but the life and soul. The position of Paris in the earliest 
times is best marked, as in the case of all Gaulish cities, by 
its place in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. It was a city, not 
of the first, but of the second rank ; the seat of a Bishop, but 
not the seat of a Metropolitan.* Lutetia Parisiorum held the 
usual rank of one of those head-towns of Gaulish tribes which 
grew into Roman cities. But it never became the centre of 
one of the great ecclesiastical and civil divisions ; it never 
reached the rank of Lyons, Narbonne, Yienne, or Trier. 
Twice before the ninth century, the discerning eye, first of a 
Roman and then of a Frankish master, seemed to mark out 
the city of the Seine for greater things. It was the beloved 
home of Julian ; it was the city which Hlodwig at once fixed 
upon for the seat of his new dominion. But the greatness of 
Paris, as the earliest settled seat of the Frankish power, was 
not doomed to be lasting. Under the descendants of Hlodwig 
Paris remained a seat of royalty ; but, among the fluctua- 
tions of the Merowingian kingdoms, it was only one seat of 
royalty among several. It was the peer of Soissons, Orleans, 
and Metz — all of them places which, in the new state of 
things, assumed a higher importance than had belonged to 
them in Roman times. But, as the Austrasian house of the 
Karlings grew, first as Mayors, and then as Kings, to the 
Lordship of the whole Frankish realm, the importance of the 
cities (if Western G-au] necessarily lessened. Paris reached 

We need hardly say that the Archbishoprick of Paris dates only from 
the seventeeth century. Up to that time the Bishop of Paris had been a 
suffragan of the Metropolitan of Sens. 


its utmost point of insignificance in the days of Charles the 
Great, whom French legends have pictured as a French King, 
reigning in Paris as his royal city. Whatever importance it 
had, it seems to have derived from its neighbourhood to the 
revered sanctuary of Saint Denis. By a strange accident, 
the first King of the new house — the house with which Paris 
was to wage a war of races and languages — died either in the 
city itself, or in the precinct of the great monastery beyond 
its walls. Pippin, returning from a successful campaign in 
Aquaitaine, fell sick at Saintes ; from thence he was carried to 
Tours to implore the help of Saint Martin, and thence to 
Paris to implore the help of Saint Denis. He died at Paris, 
and was buried in the great minster which became the burial- 
place of the next and rival line of Kings.* But Paris was 
neither the crowning-place nor the dwelling-place of his son, 
nor was it the object of any special attention during his long 
reign. Of the two sons of Pippin, between whom his king- 
dom was immediately divided, Paris fell to the lot of Karl- 
mann. But he chose Soissons for his crowning-place — the 
place where his father had been crowned before him.f 
Charles, crowned at Noyon, made Aachen his capital, and, 
in the course of his whole reign, he visited Paris only on a 
single progress, when it is incidentally mentioned among a 
long string of other cities.} 

* Eginh. Ann. 768 : " In ipsa tamen valetudine Turonos delatus, apud 
Sancti Martini memoviam oravit. Inde quum ad Parisios venisset, viii. 
Kal. Octobris diem obiit, cnjus corpus in basilica beati Dionysii martyris 
bumatum est." So Vita Karoli, 3 : "Apud Parisius morbo aquae inter- 
cutis diem obiit." Mark the singular, but frequent, use of Parisius as an 
indeclinable noun. 

f Eginh. Ann. 753, 768. 

X Ibid. 800. The passage is worth quoting, as a specimen of the 
constant locomotion of the German Kings: — " Eedeunte verna temperie, 
medio fere Martio Eex Aquisgrani digressus, litus Oceani Gallici perlustravit, 
et in ipso mari, quod tunc piratis Nordmannicis infestum erat, classem 
instituit, prsesidia disposuit, pascha in Centulo apud sanctum Eichariuni 
celebravit. Inde iterum per litus maris iter agens, Eatumagum civitatem 
venit, ibiquo Sequana amne transmisso, Turonos ad sanctum Martinmn 
orationis causa profectus est, moratus ibi dies aliquot propter adversam 

p 2 


But this time of utter neglect was, in the history of Paris, 
only the darkness before the coming of the dawn. In the 
course of the next reign Paris begins to play an important 
part, and from that time the importance of the city steadily 
grew till it became what we have seen it in our own day. 
The occasional visits of Lewis the Pious to the city are 
dwelled on by his poetical biographer with evident delight, 
and with even more than his usual pomp of words.* And the 
city was now about to appear in its most characteristic light. 
In the words of Sir Francis Palgrave, who has sketched the 
early history of Paris with great power and insight,t " the 
City of Eevolutions begins her real history by the first French 
Eevolution."| In this particular case we do not even grudge 

Liutgardaj conjugis valetudinem, quae ibidem et defuncta et hmnata est ; 
obiit autem diem ii. Xon. Jim. hide per Aurelianos ac Parisios Aquasgrani 
reversus est, et mense Augusto inchoante Mogontiacum veniens, geueralem 
conventum ibidem babuit, et iter in Italian! condixit, atque inde profectus 
cum exercitu Eavennam venit, ibique septem nom amplius dies moratus, 
Pippimrm filium suum cum codem exercitu in terram Beneventanorum ire 
jussit, movensque de Eavenna, simul cum filio, Anconam usque pervenit, 
quo ibi dimisso Eomarn proficiscitur." This same visit to Paris seems to be 
alluded to by tbe monk of Saint Gallen, Gesta Karoli, i. 10 (Pertz, ii. 735): 
" Quum vero ingeniosissimus Karolus quodem anno festivitates nativitatis 
et apparitionis Domini apud Treverense vel Metense oppiduni celebrasset 

sequent i vero anno easdem sollemnitates Parisii vel Turonis ageret." 

* Ermoldus Nigellus, ii. 143 (Pertz, ii. 481): 

" Inde Parisiacas properant cito visere sedes, 

Quo Stephanus martyr culmina summa tenet, 
Quo, Germane, tuurn colitur, sanctissime, corpus, 
Quo Genuveffa micat, virgo dicata Deo. 

Nee tua prasteriit Dionysi culmina martyr, 
Quin adiens tibimet posceret auxilium." 
And again, iii. 269 : 

" Caesar iter tutum per propria regna gerebat, 
Usque Parisiaca quo loca celsus adit. 
Jam tua martyr ovans Dionysi tecta revisit, 
Ililtliuin abba potens quo sibi dona paras; 
Hinc, Germane, tui transivit culmina tecti 
Martyris el Stephani, seu, Genuvefa, tui." 
t History of Normandy and England, i. 279-281. 
X Ibid. i. 282. 


the premature use of the word " French," for the movement of 
which he speaks was plainly a movement of the Romanized 
lands of the West against their Teutonic master. It is not 
likely that any such feeling was knowingly present to the 
mind of any man; but nations and parties learn to shape them- 
selves unknowingly, and cities and regions learn to play their 
fitting parts, before they can give any intelligible account of 
what they are doing. The Emperor was leading an expedition 
against the revolted Bretons ; suddenly all the disaffected 
spirits of the Empire, his own sons among the foremost, 
gathered themselves together at Paris.* They then seized 
Lewis himself at Compiegne, and their hated stepmother 
Judith on the rock of Laon. But one part of his dominions 
was still faithful to the imprisoned Caesar ; the German 
lauds had no share in the rebellion, and they eagerly sought 
for the restoration of their sovereign. In marking out the 
geographical divisions of feeling, the writer of the ninth 
century, like those of the nineteenth, is driven, as it were, to 
forestall the language of a somewhat later time. The Emperor 
had no confidence in the French, but he put his trust in the 


Such was the part — a characteristic part — played by Paris 

* The fact that Paris was the gathering-place comes out most strongly 
in the Annates Bertiniani, 830(Pertz, i. 423) : " Nam aliqui ex primoribus 
mumurationem populi cognoscentes, convocaverunt ilium, ut eum a fide, 
quam domno Imperatori promissam hahebant, averterent ; ideoque omnis 
populus qui in Britanniam ire debebat ad Parisium se conjuuxit, nee non 
Hlotharium de Italia et Pippinum de Aquitania hostiliter adversumpativm 
venire, ut ilium de regno ejicercnt et novercam suam perderent ac Bernardum 
interticerent, compulenmt." 

f Vita Hludowiei, 45 (Pertz, ii. 633) : "Quum autem instaret auctum- 
nalis temperies, ei qui Imperatori contraria sentiebant alicubi in Francia 
conventum fieri generalem volebant. Imperator autem clanculo obnite- 
batur, diflidens quideni Francis magisque se credens Germanis." (See 
above, p. 189.) One cannot help talking here about France and French, 
though such is not the established use of the words till Ions; after. It 
should, however, be noticed that the Francia of this writer, while it 
excludes Germany, equally excludes Burgundy and Aquitaine. (See c. 49.) 
The assembly was held at Neomaga (Nimwegen), and we read that 
"omnis Germania eo confluxit Imperatori auxilio futura." 


in the Revolution of 830. Four years later Paris appears 
playing an opposite yet a no less characteristic part. The 
Emperor Lewis, already restored and again deposed, is held 
as a prisoner by his eldest son Lothar, and is led in bonds to 
Paris.* Again the men of the East, the faithful Germans, 
are in arms for their sovereign under Lewis, at that moment 
his only loyal son. But by this time the city has changed 
sides. Lothar, for fear of the German host, flees to the 
South, leaving his father at liberty ; the late captive is led 
by his rejoicing people to the minster of Saint Denis, and 
there is girt once more with the arms of the warrior and 
with the Imperial robes of the Caesar.t Once then in the 
course of its long history did Paris behold the inauguration 
of a lawful Emperor. But it was the re-inauguration of an 
Emperor whom one Parisian revolution had overthrown, and 
whom another Parisian revolution had set up again ; and in 
the moment alike of his fall and of his restoration the force 
of loyal Germany forms at one time a threatening, at another 
time an approving, background. 

We thus see Paris, well-nigh unheard of during the reign 
of Charles the Great, suddenly rise into importance under his 
son. Under Charles the Bald its importance becomes greater 
still, and it begins to assume the peculiar function which 
raised it to the head place in Gaul. The special wretched- 
ness of the time was fast showing the great military import- 
ance of the site. Under the rule of the Austrasian Mayors 
and Kings there had been endless wars, but they had been 
wars waged far away from Paris. Above all, no hostile fleet 

* Annalus Bertiniani, 834 : " Quumboc Lotliarius cognovisset, de Aquis 
abscessit,et patrem suurn usquead Parisius sub memoratacustodiadeduxit." 
Si; in tin- Vita Hludowici, 50 : "Hlotharius patre assumpto per pagum 
Easbaniensem iter arripuit, et Parisius urbem petivit, ubi obviarn fore 
cunctoa Bitri fideles praBcepit." 

■f Annates Bertiniani, 834: " Illo abscedente, venerunt episcopi qui 
prssentes aderant, et in ecclesift sancti Dionysii domnum Imperatorem 
reconciliaverunt, et regalibns vestibus arniisque induerunt. Deinde filii 
ejus Pippinua et Ludoicus cum ceteris fidelibus ad cum venientes paterno 
animo gaudenter suscepti sunt, el plurimas ill'- ac cuncto populo gratias 

i, quod jam alacriter ilii auxilium praebi io studuissent. M 


had for ages sailed up the Seine. Lutetia on her island must, 
under the Frankish power, have enjoyed for some generations 
a repose almost as unbroken as she had enjoyed in the days 
of the Roman Peace. Now all was changed. The Empire 
was torn in pieces by endless civil wars, wars of brother 
against brother ; and the fleets of the Northmen, barely heard 
of in the days of Charles the Great, were making their way 
up the mouths of all its rivers. Men now began to learn 
that the island city, encompassed by the broad Seine, with 
its bridges and its minsters and the Eoman palace on the 
left bank, was at once among the most precious possessions 
and among the surest bulwarks of the realm. It is not with- 
out significance that, when the Great Charles himself for once 
visited Paris, he visited it in the course of a progress in which 
he had been surveying the shores of the Northern Ocean.* 
He came to Paris as a mourner and as a pilgrim, yet we may 
believe that neither his grief nor his devotion hindered him 
from marking the importance of the post. His eye surely 
marked the site as one fated to be the main defence, if not of 
his whole Empire, at least of its western portion, against the 
pirate barks by which the Ocean was beginning to be covered. 
And probably it was not by mere accident that it was in the 
course of an expedition against Britanny that Paris became 
the centre of the conspiracy of 830. In a Breton War, a 
war by land, Paris would not be of the same pre-eminent im- 
portance as it was in the invasion of the Northmen. Still the 
island stronghold would be of no small moment in case of a 
Breton inroad, and in the days of Lewis the Pious a Breton 
inroad was again a thing to be dreaded. Among the troubles 
of the next reign the pre-eminent importance of Paris begins 
to stand out more and more strongly. Of the newly-formed 
Western Kingdom, the kingdom of Charles the Bald, the 
kingdom to which it was a mere chance that he did not 
for ever bequeath his name,t it seemed at first that 

* See p. 211. 

f The Western Kingdom is " Regnum Karoli," its people Karoli, Karl- 
enses," just like " Regnum Lotharii, Lotharii, Lotbarienses. (See History 
of the Norman Conquest, i. 600, cd. 2.) It is a mere chance that Karolingia, 


Paris was at once to become the capital ; no other city 
filled so prominent a place in the early history of his 
reign. In the very beginning of his reign we find Charles 
making use of the position of the city and its bridges to bar 
the progress of his brother, the Emperor Lothar. We find 
him dwelling for a long time in the city, and giving the 
citizens the delight of a spectacle by appearing among them 
in royal pomp at the Easter festival.* Four years later, the 
city began to appear in its other character as the great mark 
for Scandinavian attack. The Northern pirates were now 
swarming on every sea, and the coasts of Britain, Gaul, and 
Germany were all alike v.asted by their harryings. But 
they instinctively felt that, while no shore lay more tempt- 
ingly for their objects than the shores of Northern Gaul, there 
was no point either of the insular or of the continental realm 
where their approach was better guarded against. The island 
city, with its two bridges and its strongly fortified Boman 
suburb on the mainland, blocked their path as perhaps no 
other stronghold in Gaul or Britain could block it.j In the 
very year of the fight of Fontenay, as if they had scented the 
mutual slaughter from afar, the Northmen had sailed up the 
stream, and had harried Bouen and the surrounding lands 
with the sternest horrors of fire and sword.J Four years 

Charlaine, did not survive as the name of the Western Kingdom, as 
Lotharingia, Lorraine survived as the name of the Middle Kingdom. It 
would have saved many confusions if it had. 

* See the Annals of Prudentius of Troyes, 841 (Pertz, i. 437), and the 
story in Nithard, ii. G-8 ; Palgrave, England and Normandy, i. 313, 314. 
llildwin, Abbot of Saint Denis, and Gerard, Count of Paris — the first we 
remember bearing that title — had been among the first to break their oaths 
to Charles. 

t Set tlie vivid description of Carolingian Paris and its first capture in 
Palgrave, i. 433-439; but Sir Francis has not wholly withstood the 
temptation to exaggerate the antiquity of some of the existing buildings. 

\ Ann. Prud. Tree. 841 (Pertz, i. 437): "Interea pirate Danorum ab 
Oceano Euripo devecti Botumam irruentes, rapinis, ferro, ignique bacchantes, 
lulu in, monaclios, reliquumque vulgum et caxlibus et captivitate pessum- 
dederunt, et omnia monasteria sen qiwcumque loca flumini Sequanaj 
adhaerentia aut depopulati sunt aut, multis acceptis pecuniis, territa 


later they pressed on yet further into the heart of the de- 
fenceless realm ; Paris was attacked ; in strange contrast 
with the valour of its citizens forty years later, no one had 
the heart to resist ; the city was stormed and sacked ; and 
King Charles, finding his forces unequal to defend or to avenge, 
was driven to forestall the wretched policy of ^Ethelred, and to 
buy a momentary respite from the invaders.* Other attacks, 
other harryings, followed. One devastation more terrible than 
all, in the year 857, was specially remembered on account of 
the frightful havoc wrought among the churches of the city. 
The Church of Saint Genoveva, on the left bank of the river 
— whose successor is better known to modern ears as the 
Pantheon — was burned ; Saint Stephens, afterwards known 
as Notre Dame, Saint Germans, and St. Denis, bought 
their deliverance only by large ransoms.f In the minds of 
the preachers of the time, the woes of Paris suggested the 
woes of Jerusalem, and a wail of sorrow went up from the 

* Ann. Prud. Tree. 855 : " Nordniannorum naves centum viginti mense 
Martio per Sequanam bine et abinde cuncta vastantes, Loticiam Parisiorum 
nullo penitus obsistente pervadunt. Quibus quurn Caroms occurrere 
moliretur, sed prajvalere suos nullatenus posse prospiceret, quibusdam 
pactionibus, et munere septem milium librarum eis exbibito, a progrediendo 
compescuit, ac redire persuasit." So in tbe Annals of Fulda, 845 (Pertz, 
i. 364): " Xordmanni regnum Karoli vastantes, per Sequanam usque 
Parisios navigio venerunt, et tamab ipso quamincolis terra? accepta pecunia 
copiosa, cum pace discesserunt." 

f Ann. Prud. Tree. 857 : " Dani Sequana? insistentes cuncta libere vastant, 
Lutetiamque Parisiorum adgressi, basilicam beati Petri et sanctas Genovefaj 
incendunt et ceteras omnes, prater domum sancti Stepbani et ecclesiam 
sancti Vincentii atque Germani praterque ecclesiam sancti Dionysii, pro 
quibus tantummodo, ne incenderentur, multa solidorum summa soluta est." 
Sir Francis Palgrave (i. 459, 464) gives a vivid picture of tbis sack of 
Paris. Of Saint Denis he adds : " Saint Denis made a bad bargain. Tbe 
Northmen did not bold to their contract, or another company of pirates did 
not consider it as binding : the Monastery was burnt to a shell, and a 
most heavy ransom paid for the liberation of Abbot Louis, Charlemagne's 
grandson by his daughter Rothaida." Sir Francis, as usual, gives no 
reference : but we may be sure that he could, if be had pleased, have given 
one for the burning cf the Monastery as well as for the capture of the 
Abbot, which tbe Annals mention under the next year, though not in 
connexion with the sack of Paris. 


Jeremiah of the age for the havoc of the city and its holy 

When we remember the importance to which Paris was 
plainly beginning to rise under Lewis the Pious, we may 
perhaps be led to think that it was the constant attacks to 
which the city was exposed which hindered it from becoming 
the permanent dwelling-place of royalty imder Charles the 
Bald. That the city held a place in his affections through- 
out his life is shown by his choosing Saint Denis as the place 
of his burial. But it never became the royal city of the 
Kings of his house. We need hardly look on it as a mark of 
personal cowardice in Charles that he preferred to fix his 
ordinary seat of government in some other place than the 
most exposed fortress of his kingdom. Compiegne now often 
appears as a royal dwelling-place ;f but the home and centre 
of Carolingian Eoyalty in the Western Kingdom gradually 
fixed itself on a spot the most opposite to Paris in position 
and feeling which the Western Kingdom could afford. Paris 
and Laon were in every sense rivals ; their rivalry is stamped 

* Sir Francis Palgrave (i. 462) says : " Amongst the calamities of the 
times, the destruction of the Parisian monasteries seems to have worked 
peculiarly on the imagination. Paschasius Eadbertus, the biographer of 
YVala, expatiates upon this misery when writing his Commentary on 
Jeremiah." Some extracts are given in Pertz, i. 450 : " Quis umquam 

crcderet, vel quis umquam cogitare potuisset ut piratae, diversis 

admodum collect! ex familiis, Parisiorum attingerent fines, ecclesiasque 
Christi hinc inde cremarent circa litus ? . . . . Fateor enim quod nullus 
ex Pegibus terra? ista cogitaivt, neque ullus habitator orbis nostri audire 
potuisset quodParisium nostrum hostis intraret." 

t Compiegne comes out with amusing grandeur in the Fragmenta 
Historian Fossatensis, Pertz, ix. 372. There Charles the Paid figures as a 
very great prince indeed: "Hie post multas Imperii divisioncs, post 
innumeras bellorum angustias, Pipino et Lothario decedentibus Rex et 
[mperator constituitur. Ludovicus autem Germaniam obtinebat. Quumque 
universo pene orbi Karolua imperaret, placuit pra ceteris nationibus (inllias 
bonorare reliquiasque quas patruus suns Karolus Magnus Constantinopoli 
advectas Aquisgrani poBuerat, clavum scilicet et coronam apud Sanctum 
Dyonisium; Compendium vero,quod instar Constantinopoleos suis diebus 
decreverat fabricari, ut de nomine suo Karnopolim, sicut Constantinus 
( ionstantinopolim, appellaret, sindonem delegai it." 


upon their very outward appearance. Each is a representative 
city. Paris, like Chalons and Bristol, is essentially an island 
city 5 the river was its defence against ordinary enemies, how- 
ever easily that defence might be changed into a highway for 
its attack in the hands of the amphibious Northmen. But Laon 
is the very pride of that class of towns which, out of Gaulish 
hill-forts, grew into Roman and mediaeval cities. None stands 
more proudly on its height ; none has kept its ancient cha- 
racter so little changed to our own day. The town still keeps 
itself within the walls which fence in the hill top, and what- 
ever there is of suburb has grown up at the foot, apart from 
the ancient city. Paris again was the home of the new-born 
nationality of the Eomance speech, the home of the new French 
nation. Laon stood near the actual German border, in a land 
where German was still spoken ; it was fitted in every way to 
be, as it proved, the last home of a German Dynasty in the 
West. There can be little doubt that, by thus moving east- 
ward, by placing themselves in this outlying Teutonic corner 
of their realm, the Carolingian Kings of the West threw away 
the chance of putting themselves at the head of the new 
national movement, the chance of reigning as national 
Kings, if not over the whole Bomance-speaking population 
of Gaul, at least over its strictly French portion north of 
the Loire. 

Of such a mission we may be sure Charles the Bald and 
his successors never dreamed. The chances are that those to 
whom that mission really fell dreamed of it just as little. 
We must never forget that the national movements of those 
days were for the more part instinctive and unconscious ; 
but they were all the more powerful and lasting for being 
instinctive and unconscious. An act of Charles the Bald, 
one of the ordinary grants by a King to one of his vassals, 
created the French nation. The post from which the King 
himself shrank was entrusted to a valiant subject, and 
Robert the Strong, the mightiest champion of the land 
against the heathen invader, received the government of the 
whole border land threatened by the Breton and the North- 


man.* We may be sure that the thoughts of the King him- 
self did not at the most reach beyond satisfaction at having 
provided the most important post in his realm with a worthy- 
defender. To shield himself from the enemy by such a 
barrier as was furnished by Robert's county in Robert's hands 
was an object for which it was wise to sacrifice the direct 
possession even of the fair lands between the Loire and the 
Seine. The dominion of Robert was a mark ; his truest title 
was Marquess. And this frontier district, like so many other 
frontier districts, was destined to great things. Rome itself 
was most likely, in its beginning, a mark of the Latin League 
against the Etruscan. Castile, a line of border-castles against 
the Saracen, grew into the ruling kingdom of all Spain. 
The Eastern Mark, the mark of Germany against the Hun- 
garian, and the Mark of Brandenburg, her mark against the 
Wend, grew, under the names of Austria and Prussia, to 
become the leading powers of Germany, while one of them 
in a manner has become Germanv itself. So the mark 
granted to Robert grew into the Duchy of France and the 
Kingdom of France. Robert no doubt, like the other 
governors and military chiefs who were fast growing from 
magistrates into princes, rejoiced in the prospect of becoming 
the source of a dynasty, a dynasty which could not fail to 
take a high place among the princes of Gaul. But he 
hardly dreamed of foimding a line of Kings, and a line of 
Kings the most lasting that the world ever saw. Still less 
did he dream of founding a nation. But he himself founded 
a line of Kings, and his son foimded a nation for those Kings 
to rule over. It may be doubted whether Robert's mark 
between the Loire and Seine took in the city on the Seine. 
Once indeed he went to its help,t but, if it was part of his 

* Regino 861 : " Carol us Hex placitum habuit in Compendio, ibique cum 
optimatnm consilio Roberto Comiti Ducatum inter Ligcrim et Sequanam 
adversuin Brittones commendavit, quern cum ingenti industrift per aliqnod 
t< mpus rexit." In the same writer, under 867, he appears as " Ruotbertus 
qui marcam tenebat." So Hincmar (ann. 865) calls him " March io in 
Andegavor" Be held also the County of Autun. Hincmar, 866. 

f Hincmar, 866. 


dominions, it was at least not their capital or centre. Robert 
was in a special manner Count or Marquess of Anjou. It 
was his son, the Count of Paris, the defender of Paris, who 
was the real founder of the nation of which he became the first 
King. In saving Paris Odo created France. The Counts 
who held the first place of danger and honour soon eclipsed 
in men's eyes the Kings who had retired to the safer obscurity 
of their eastern frontier. The city of the river became a 
national centre in a way in which the city of the rock could 
never be. The people of the struggling Romance speech 
of Northern Gaul found a centre and a head in the rising 
city and its gallant princes. That Robert was himself of 
German descent, the son of a stranger from some of the 
Teutonic provinces of the Empire, mattered not a whit.* 
From the beginning of their historic life the Parisian Dukes 
and Kings have been the leaders and representatives of the 
new French nationality. No royal dynasty has ever been so 
thoroughly identified with the nation over which it ruled, 
because no royal dynasty could be so truly said to have 
created the nation. Paris, France, and the Dukes and Kings 
of the French, are three ideas which can never be kept 
asunder. A true instinct soon gave the ruler of the new 
state a higher and a more significant title. The Count of 
Paris was merged in the Duke of the French, and the Duke 
of the French was soon to be merged in the King. The name 
of Francia, a name whose shiftings and whose changes of 
meaning have perplexed both history and politics — a name 
which Eastern and Western writers seem to have made it a 
kind of point of honour to use in different meanings f — now 

* The origin of Robert the Strong has been discussed by M. Mourin, p. 19, 
and more fully by Dr. Kalcksrein in his first ' Exkurs.' The best-known 
passage is that in Richer, i. 5 : " Odo patrem habuit ex equestri ordine 
Rotbertum, avum vero paternum Witichinum, advenam Germanum." In 
Aimon of Fleury, de Regibus Francorum (Petz, ix. 374), he appears as 
"Rotbertus Andegavensis Comes, Saxonici generis vir." In the Annales 
Xantenses, 867 (Pertz, ii. 232), he is " Ruodbertus, vir valde strenuus, 
ortus de Frantia, dux Karoli." P>y this German writer Frantia is of 
course opposed to Gallia. 

f The monk of Saint Gallen (Gesta Karoli, i. 10) gives us a definition of 


gradually settles down, as far as the Western Kingdom is 
concerned, into the name of a territory which answers roughly 
to the Celtic Gaul of the elder geography.* It has still to be 
distinguished by epithets like Occidentalis and Latina from 
the Eastern Franeia of Teutonic speech, but, in the language 
of Gaul, Franeia and Franci for the future mean the 
dominion and the subjects of the lord of Paris. France 
was still but one among the principalities of Gaul ; but 
it was the principality destined, by one means or another, 
to swallow up the rest. From the foundation of the Parisian 
Duchy we may date the birth of the French state and 
nation. From that day onwards France is whatever can, 
by fair means or foul, be brought into obedience to Paris and 
her ruler. 

Count Robert the Strong, the Maccabseus of the West- 
Frankish realm, the patriarch of the old Capets, of the Valois, 
and of the Bourbons, died as he had lived, fighting for Gaul 
and Christendom against the heathen Dane.f But his do- 
minion and his mission passed to a son worthy of him — to 
Odo, or Eudes, the second Count of his house, presently to be 
the first of the Kings of Paris. At his father's death Odo was 
deemed too young to take the place of his father. The Duchy 

Franeia in the widest sense : " Franciam vero interdum quum norninvero, 
omnes Cisalpinas provincias significo .... in illo tempore propter 
excellentiam gloriosissimi Karoli et Galli et Aquitani, Mini et Hispani, 
Alamanni et Baioarii, non parnrn se insignitos gloriabantur, si vel nomine 
Francorum servorum censeri mererentnr." 

* Richer (i. 14) twice speaks of the Duchy of France as "Celtica" and 
"Gallia Celtica.'" " Rex [Karolus] Celtics? [Rotbertum] Ducem prreficit." 
These arc Charles the Simple and the second Robert, afterwards King. 

f Ann. Fuld., 867 (Pertz, ii. 380): "Kuodbertus Karoli Regis Comes 
apud Ligerim fluvium contra Nordmannos fortiter dimicans occiditur, alter 
quodarnmodo aostris temporibus Maehabaeus, cujus proelia quae cum 
Brittonibua et Nbrdmannis gessit, si per omnia scripta fuissent, Machabai 
gestis aequiparari potuissent." Sue the details in Regino, 867 ; Ilincmar, 
Ann. 866. The meagre annals of Pleury (Pertz, ii. 254) kindle into life at 
the exploits"!' I!<)l«'i-t : " lilintliliertns afquo Kainnulfus, virimiraa potentise 
armisque strenui el inter primos Lpsi priores, Northmannorum gladio 



between the Seine and the Loire was granted to Abbot Hugh 
some fiefs alone of unknown extent were first given to Odo 
and then taken from him.f But somewhat later we find him 
holding the post of Count of Paris, without any notice as to 
the extent of territory which formed his county. But when at 
a later time, on the death of Hugh, he received a grant of his 
father's Duchy, the great step was taken ; France, with Paris as 
its capital, was created.! The grant was fittingly made in the 
very midst of his great deeds, in the midst of that great 
struggle, that mighty and fiery trial, which was to make the 
name of Paris and her lord famous throughout the world. On 
the great siege of Paris by the Northmen, the turning-point 
in the history of the city, of the Duchy, and in truth of all 
Western Europe, we may fairly dwell at somewhat greater 
detail than we have done on the smaller events which paved 
the way for it. We must bear in mind the wretched state of 
all the countries which made up the Carolingian Empire. 
The Northmen were sailing up every river, and were spread- 
ing their ravages to every accessible point. Every year in the 
various contemporary annals is marked by the harrying of 
some fresh district, by the sack of some city, by the desecra- 
tion of some revered monastery.§ Resistance, when there was 
any, was almost wholly local ; the invaders were so far from 
encountering the whole force of the Empire that they never 
encountered the whole force of any one of its component king- 

* Regino, 867 : " Hugo Abba in locum Ruotberti substitutus est ... . 
siquideni Odo et Euotbertus filii Ruotberti adhuc parvuli erant ; quando 
pater exstinctus est, et idcirco non est illis ducatus cornmissus." 

f Hincmar, 868 : " Ablatis a Rotberti filio bis qua? post mortem patris 
de honoribus ipsius ei concesserat [Carolus] et per alios divisis." 

% Regino, 887 : " Ducatus quern [Hugo] tenuerat et strenue rexerat 
Odoni filio Rodberti ab Imperatore traditur, qui ea tempestate Parisiorum 
Comes erat." 

§ See especially tbe entries in tbe Annales Vedastini (Pertz, ii. 200), 
under 874 and several following years. Take, above all, tbe general picture 
under 884 : " JSTortmanni vero non cessant captivari atque interfici populum 
Christianum, atque ecclesias subrui, destructis mceniis et villis crematis. 
Per omnes enim plateas jacebant cadavera clericorum, laicorum, nobilium 
atque aliorum, mulierum, juvenum, et lactentium : non enim erat via vel 
locus quo non jacerent mortui ; et erat tribulatio omnibus et dolor, videntes 
populum Christianum usque ad internecionem devastari." 


doms. The day of Saulcourt, renowned in that effort of old 
Teutonic minstrelsy which may rank alongside of our own 
songs of Brimanburh and Maldon * the day when the young 
King Lewis led the West-Frankish host to victory over the 
heathen,t stands out well-nigh alone in the records of that 
unhappy time. While neither realm was spared, while one 
set of invaders ravaged the banks of the Seine and the Loire, 
while another more daring band sacked Aachen, Koln, and 
Trier,J the rival Kings of the Franks were mainly intent 
on extending their borders at the expense of one another. 
Charles the Bald was far more eager to extend his nominal 
frontier to the Ehine,§ or to come back from Italy adorned 
with the Imperial titles, || than he was to take any active step 
to drive out the common enemy of all the kindred realms. 
At last the whole Empire, save the Burgundian Kingdom of 
Boso, was once more joined together under Charles the Fat. 

* The Ludwigslied is printed in Max Miiller's German Classics, also in 
the second volume of Schilter's Thesaurus. 

f A full account of the battle is given in the Annales Vedastini, 881. 

% Annales Vedastini, 882 : "Australes Franci (that is, Eastern, Austrasian, 
not Southern) congregant exercitum contra Nortmannos, sed statim terga 
vertunt, ibique Walo, Mettensis episcopus, corruit, Dani vero famosissimum 
Aquisgrani palatium igne cremant, et monasteria atque civitates, Treveris 
nobilissimam et Coloniam Agrippinam, palatia quoque regum et villas, cum 
babitatoribus terras interfectis, igne cremaverunt." 

§ Annales Fuldenses (Pertz, i. 390), 876 : " Karolus vero, Hludowici 
morte comperta, regnum illius, cupiditate ductus, invasit et sua? ditioni 
subjugare studuit; existimans se, ut fama vulgabat, non solum partem 
regni Hlotharii, quam Hludowicus tenuit et filiis suis utendam dereliquit, 
per tyrannidem posse obtinere, verum etiam cunctas civitates regni 
Hludowici in occidentali litorc Rheni fluminis positas suo regno addere, id 
est Mogontiam, Wormatiam, et Kemetum, filiosque fratris per potentiam 
opprimere, ita ut nullus ei resistere vel contradicere auderet." The first 
entry under the next year is : " Hludowicus Rex mense Januario, generali 
conventu habito apud Franconofurt, quos de regno Karoli tenuit captivos 
remisit in Galliam." 

|| Ann. Fuld. 876. The way in which Charles' Imperial dignity is re- 
corded is remarkable. After a satirical description of the Imperial costume, 
the annalist goes on: " Omnem enim consuetudinem Regum Francorum 
contemnens, Grsscas glorias optimas arbitrabatur, et ut majorem sua? mentis 
elationem ostenderet, ablato Regis nomine, se Imperatorem et Augustum 
omnium Regum cis man- consistent ium appellare pra>cepit." The phrase 


Paris was again under the nominal sovereignty of an Emperor 
whose authority, equally nominal everywhere, extended also 
over Konie and Aachen. Precarious and tottering as such an 
Empire was, the even nominal union of so many crowns on a 
single head, however unfit that head was to bear their weight, 
does seem to have given for the moment something like a 
feeling of greater unity, and thereby of greater strength. 
Paris, defended by its own Count, and its own Bishop, was 
defended by them in the name of the Emperor, Lord of the 
World.* The sovereign alike of East and West was ap- 
pealed to for help, and at least a show of help was sent in the 
name of both parts of the Frankish realm.f The defence of 
Paris was essentially a local defence, waged by its own citizens 
under the command of their local chiefs. Still the great check 
which the invaders then received came nearer to a national 
act on the part of the whole Frankish Empire than anything 
which had happened since the death of Charles the Great. 

Our materials for the great siege are fairly abundant. 
Several of the contemporary chronicles, in describing this 
gallant struggle, throw off somewhat of their accustomed 
meagreness, and give an account conceived with an unusual 
degree of spirit and carried out with an unusual amount of 
detail.^ And we have a yet more minute account, which, even 

" cis mave " is remarkable, when we think of the English claims to Empire, 
and of the constant use of the word " trausmarinus " to express Engl&nd 
and English things. The common name for Charles in these Annals is 
" Gallia; Tyrannus." 

* Ahbo, i. 48 (Pertz, ii. 780) :— 

" Urbs mandata fuit Karolo nobis basileo, 
Irnperio cujus regitur totus prope kosmus 
Post Dominum, Regem dominatoremque potentum, 
Excidium per earn regnum non quod patiatur, 
Sed quod salvetur per earn sedeatque serenum." 
f Regino, 887 (Pertz, i. 596) : " Heinricus cum exercitibus utriusque 
regni Parisius venit." " Utrumque regnum " means of course the East and 
the West Franks. The same Annals, in the next year, speak of Charles 
as reigning over " omnia regna Franeorum." 

X See especially the Annales Vedastini, 885-890 ; other details come 
from the Chronicle of Regino, 887-890. 



as it is, is of no small value, and which, had it been a few 
degrees less wearisome and unintelligible, would have been of 
the highest interest. Abbo, a distinguished churchman of 
those times, a monk of the house of Saint German, and not 
only a contemporary, but a spectator and sharer in the 
defence,* conceived the happy idea of writing a minute nar- 
rative of the stirring scenes which he had witnessed. But 
unhappily he threw his tale into the shape of hexameters 
which have few rivals for affectation and obscurity. The 
poetical biographer of Lewis the Pious at least writes Latin ; 
Abbo writes in a Babylonish dialect of his own composing, 
stuffed full of Greek and other out-of-the-way words, and 
to parts of which he himself found it needful to attach a 
glossary. Still, with all this needless darkness, he gives us 
many details, and he especially preserves many individual 
names which we should not find out from the annalists. A 
fervent votary of Saint German, a loyal citizen of Paris, a no 
less loyal subject of the valiant Count who, when he wrote, 
had grown into a King, Abbo had every advantage which per- 
sonal knowledge and local interest could give to a narrator 
of the struggle. Only we cannot help wishing that he had 
stooped to tell his tale, if not in his native tongue, whether 
I ti nuance or Teutonic, yet at least in the intelligible Latin of 
Kithard in a past generation and of Richer in a future one.t 

* Let us take one out of several passages where he describes his own 
exploits (ii. 300-30l. , ) :— 

" Nemo stetit supra speculam, solus nisi sa?pe 
Jam sancti famulus dicti, lignum crucis alinse 
In flammas retinens, oculis hajc vidit et inquit." 
| The book is printed in the second volume of Pertz, 776-805. The 
Third Book lias a sort of Tnterpretatio throughout. We give a few lines 
(15 L8) ' cimen : — 

" laicorum 
Tapeti undiqut ell/osi /lojui/aru/u hetua iii i' lucre, 

Amphytappa la xtat, badanola aecnon ; 

Ornamentum. decorum valde amant vestem putam vel gum/cm claram 
polioiu hi 1 1 /• I- at. urn. 

Effipiam diamant, Btragulam pariterque propomam. 
lenocinatio fugat paham 


The poet begins with a panegyric on his city, in which he 
may, while dealing with such a theme, be forgiven for some- 
what unduly exalting its rank among the cities of the world.* 
Its position, the strength of the island-fortress, connected with 
the mainland by its castles on either side, is plainly set forth. f 
The defenders of the city are clearly set before us : Odo the 
Count, the future King, as we are often reminded,} and 
Gdzlin the Bishop, stand forth in the front rank. Around the 
two great local chiefs are gathered a secondary band of their 
kinsfolk and supporters, clerical and lay. There is Odo's 
brother Eobert, himself one day to wear a crown in the city 
which he defended, but in times to which the foresight of the 
poet did not extend ; there is the valiant Count Eagnar ; there 
is the warlike Abbot Eblesof Saint Germans, whose exploits are 
recorded with special delight by the loyal monk of his house.§ 
A crowd of lesser names are also handed down to us, names 
of men who had their honourable share in the work, but with 
whose bare names it is hardly needful to burthen the memo- 

Agagula celebs aginat pecudes nee ablundam." 

But the narrative portions of the poem, though often obscure enough, 
are not altogether in this style. 
* Abbo, i. 10 :— 

" Nam medio Sequanse recubans, culti quoqne regni 
Francigenum, temet statuis per celsa canendo : 
Sum polis, ut regina micans omnes super urbes ! 
Quaj statione nites cunctis venerabiliori, 
Quisque cupiscit opes Francorum, te veneratur." 
t Ibid. i. 15:— 

" Insula te gaudet, fluvius sua fert tibi giro 
Brachia, complexo muros mulcentia circum 
Dextra tui pontes habitant tentoria limfse 
La?vaque claudentes ; horum hinc inde tutrices 
Cis urbem speculare falas, citra quoque flumen." 
% Ibid. i. 45 :— 

" Ilic Consul venerabatur, Rex atque futurus, 
Urbis erat tutor, regni venturus et altor." 
§ Ibid. i. 66 :— 

" Hie Comites Odo fraterque suus radiabant 
Rotbertus, pariterque Comes Itagenarius; illic 
rontificisque nepos Ebolus, fortissimus Abba." 

Q 2 


ries of modern readers. A great object of attack on the part 
of the Northmen was the castle which guarded the bridge on 
the right bank of the river, represented in after-times by the 
Grand Chatelet. The watchful care of the Bishop had been 
diligent in strengthening this and the other defences of the 
city ; but the last works which were to guard this important 
point were not yet fully finished.* The Danish fleet now drew 
near, a fleet manned, so it was said, by more than thirty 
thousand warriors.f As in the tale of our own Brihtnoth,t 
the invaders began with a peaceful message. The leader of 
the pirates, Sigefrith, the sea-king — a king, as the poet tells 
us, without a kingdom § — sought an interview with Count 
Odo, and demanded a peaceful passage through the city. Odo 
sternly answers that the city is entrusted to his care by his 
lord the Emperor, and that he will never forsake the duty 
which has been laid upon him. || The siege now began ; the 
Northmen strove to storm the unfinished tower. After two 
days of incessant fighting, and an intervening night spent in 
repairing the defences, the valour of the defenders prevailed. 
The Count and the Bishop, and the Abbot who could pierce 
seven Danes with a single shot of his arrow,!" finally drove 
back the heathen to their ships; and instead of the easy 
storm and sack, which they doubtless looked for on this as 
on earlier occasions, the Northmen were driven to undertake 
the siege of the city in form.** 

* Ann. Ved. 885 : " Nortmanni, patrata victoria valde elati, Parisius 
adeunt turrimque statim aggressi, valide oppugnant; et quia necdum 
perfecte firmata fuerat, earn se capi sine mora existimant." 

t Etegino, 887: "Eranr, ut ferant, triginta et eo amplius adversariorum 
in'. Ilia, onmes pene robusti bellatores." 

% See Eistory of the Norman Conquest, i. 270, cd. ii. 
§ Abbo, i. 38 : " Solo Rex verbo, sociis tamen imperitabat." 
|| K<. e, p. 225. 

1 i. 107 :— 

" Portia Odo innumeros tutudit. Sed quis fuit alter? 
Alter Ebolufl huic & ciua fuit aequiperansquo ; 
B( !••' nos una potuil ti rebrare sagittal, 
Quos hnl. 'iis alius jussil praebere quoquinse." 
Ann. Ved. 885: "Dani, multis suorum amissis, rediere ad naves; 


One is a little surprised at the progress in the higher 
branches of the art of war which had clearly been made by 
the enemy who now assaulted Paris. The description of 
their means of attack, if not intelligible in every detail, at 
least shows that the freebooters, merciless heathens as they 
were, were thorough masters of the engineering science of 
their age.* But, through the whole winter of 885, all their 
attempts were unavailing. The skill and valour of the de- 
fenders were equal to those of the besiegers, and their hearts 
were strung by every motive which could lead men to defend 
themselves to the last. But early in the next year, in the Feb- 
ruary of 88G, accident threw a great advantage into the hands 
of the besiegers. A great flood in the Seine swept away, or 
greatly damaged the lesser bridge, the painted bridge, that 
which joined the island to the fortress on the left bank of the 
river.t That fortress and the suburb which it defended, the 
suburb which contained the Eoman palace and the minsters 
of Saint Genoveva and Saint German, were thus cut off from 
the general defences of the city. The watchful care of the 
Bishop strove to repair the bridge by night. But the attempt 
was forestalled by the invaders ; the tower was isolated and 
surrounded by the enemy. The Bishop and the other de- 

indeque sibi castrurn statuunt ad versus civitateni, eamque obsidione valiant 
machinas construunt, ignem supponunt, et omne ingemum suum apponunt 
ad captionem civitatis ; sed Chiistiani adversus eos fortiter dimicando, in 
omnibus cxstitere superiores." 

* Let us take Abbo's description (i. 205) of an engine which may have been 
only a sow or a tortoise, but which certainly suggests the Trojan horse : 
" Ergo bis octonis faciunt mirabile visu, 
Monstra rotis ignara; modi com pacta tiiadi, 
Koboris ingentis, super argete quodque cubante 
Domate sublimi cooper to. Nam capiebant 
Claustra sinus arcana uteri penetralia ventris 
Sexa_ r inta viros, ut adest rumor, galeatos." 
f Ann. Ved. 886 : " Octavo Idus Fehruarii contigit grave discrimen 
infra civitatem habitantibus, nam ex gravissirna hmndatione fluminis 
minor pons disruptus est." It is called " pictus pons " by Abbo, i. 250. It 
was perhaps something like the bridges at Luzern, with their series of 
paintings of scriptural and other subjects. 


fenders of the city were left to behold, to weep, and to pray 
from the walls, at the fate of their brethren whom they could 
no longer help.* The tower was fiercely attacked ; the gate 
did not give way till fire was brought to help the blows of the 
Northmen; the defenders of the tower all perished either by 
the flames or by the sword, and their bodies were hurled into 
the river before the eyes of their comrades.t The con- 
querors now destroyed the tower, and from their new vantage- 
ground they pressed the siege of the island city with increased 


The chances of war seemed now to be turning against the 
besieged. The stout heart of Bishop Gozlin at last began to 
fail ; he saw that Paris could no longer be defended by the 
arms of its citizens only. He sent a message to Henry, the 
Duke of the Eastern Franks, praying him to come to the 
defence of the Christian people. The Duke came ; we are 
told that his presence did little or nothing for the besieged 
city ;t yet in the obscure verses of the poet we seem to dis- 
cern something like a night attack on the Danish camp on 

* Ibid. : " Illis vero qui intra turrim erant acriter resistentibus, fit clamor 
multitudinis usque in cceluni ; Episcopus desuper muro civitatis cum 
omnibus qui in civitate erant nimis flentibus, eo quod suis subvenire non 
possent, et quia nil aliud agere poterat, Christo eos commendabat." 

t Ann. Ved. 886 : " Nortmanni cum impetu portam ipsius turis adeunt 
ignemque subponunt. Et bi qui intra erant, fracti vulneribus et incendio, 
capiuntur atque ad opprobrium Christianorum diversis iuterficiuntur 
modis, atque in flumine praacipitantur." 

% Ibid. : " Hcrkengerus [tbe messenger sent by tbe Bisbop, described as 
Comes] . . . Henricum cum exercitu Parisius venire fecit; sed nil ibi 
profecit . . . atque in suam rediit regionem." 

Kegino (887) makes tbe same confession : "Imperator Heinricum ducem 
cum exercitu vernali tempore dirigit, sed minime prajvaluit." Tbe Fulda 
Annals alone (886) seem to make out sometbing of a case for Henry. His 
army "in itinera propter imbrium inundationem et frigus imminens non 
modicum equorum suorum perpcssi sunt damnum." Tbe annalist tben 
adds : ' i.'uum illuc pervenissent, Nbrdmanni rerum omnium abundantiam 
in muuitionibus suis habeutes, manumcumeis conserere ncc voluerunt, 
oec int." 1 !<• goes on to say that tin y spent the whole of Lentand up 

t,, ; ition-daya in vain labours (" inani labore consumptis "). Tbey 

then v.cni home, having done nothing except kill some Danes whom they 
found outside their camp, and carry "if a large number of horses and oxen 


the part of the Saxon Duke and his followers.* But in any 
case the coming of the German allies did nothing for the 
permanent relief of the city. They went back to their own 
land ; Paris was again left to its own resources ; and at last 
the Bishop, worn out with sorrow and illness, began to seek 
the usual delusive remedy. He began to enter into negotia- 
tions with Sigefrith, which were cut short by the prelate's 
death. The news was known in the Danish camp before it 
was commonly known within the walls of Paris, and the mass 
of the citizens first learnt from the insulting shouts of the 
besiegers that their valiant Bishop was no more.f 

The Bishop, as long as he lived, had been the centre and 
soul of the whole defence, yet it would seem that, at the 
actual moment of his death, his removal was a gain. We 
hear no more, at least not on the part of the men of Paris, of 
any attempts at treating with the enemy. One bitter wail of 
despair from the besieged city reaches our ears, and the hero 
of the second act of the siege now stands forth. The spiritual 
chief was gone ; the temporal chief steps into his place, and 
more than into his place. Count Odo appears as cheering 
the hearts of the people by his eloquence, and as leading them 
on to repeated combats with the besiegers.:}; At last hunger 

* Abbo, ii. 3 : 

" SaxoniS, vir Ainricus fortisque potensque 
Yenit in auxilium Gozlini prsesulis urbis, 
At tribuit victus illi letunique cruentis 
Heu paucis auxit vitam nostris, tulit amplam 
His prasdam. Sub nocte igitur quadam penetravit 
Castra Danum, multos et equos illic sibi cepit." 
After some further description be adds : 

" Sic et Ainricus postremum castra reliquit, 
Culpa tamen, fugiente mora, defertur ad arcem." 
t Ann. Yed. 886 : " Gauzlinus vero, dum omnibus modis populo Chris- 
tiano juvare vellet, cum Sigirido, Eege Danorum, amicitiam fecit, ut per 
hoc civitas ab obsidione liberaretur. Dum bsec aguntur, Episcopus gravi 
corruit in infirmitate, diem clausit extremum, et in loculo positus est in 
ipsa civitate. Cujus obitus Nortmaunis non latuit ; et antequam civibus 
ejus obitus nuntiaretur, a Nortmanuis do foris pradicatur Episcopum esse 

X Ibid.: " Dehinc valgus pertaesL una cum morte patris obsidione, inv- 


began to tell on the strength of the defenders ; help from 
without was plainly needed, and this time it was to be sought, 
not from any inferior chief, but from the common sovereign, 
the Emperor and King of so many realms. Count Odo went 
forth in person on the perilous errand; he called on the 
princes of the Empire for help in the time of need, and 
warned the sluggish Augustus himself that, unless help came 
speedily, the city would be lost for ever.* Long before any 
troops were set in motion in any quarter for the deliverance 
of Paris, the valiant Count was again within its walls, bring- 
ing again a gleam of joy to the sad hearts of the citizens, 
both by the mere fact of his presence and by the gallant ex- 
ploit by which he was enabled to appear among them. The 
Northmen knew of his approach, and made ready to bar his 
way to the city. Before the gate of the tower on the right 
bank, the tower which still guarded the northern bridge, the 
lines of the heathen stood ready to receive the returning 
champion. Odo's horse was killed under him, but, sword in 
hand, he hewed himself a path through the thick ranks of 
the enemy ; he made good his way to the gate, and was once 
more within the walls of his own city, ready to share every 
danger of his faithful people.! 

Such a city, we may well say, deserved to become the seat 
of Kings, and such a leader deserved to wear a royal crown 
within its walls. Eight months of constant fighting passed 
away after the return of Odo before the Lord alike of Kome, 

mediabiliter contristautur ; quos Odo, illustris Comes, suis adbortationibus 
roborabat. Nortmanni tamen quotidie non cessant oppugnare civitatem ; 
ft ex utr&que parte multi interficiuntur, pluresque vulneribus dcbilitantur, 
fsc.i) ctiani cocperunt niinui in civitate." 

* Ann. Vcd. 886 : "Odo videns affligi populum, clam exiit de civitate, 
a principibus regni requirens auxilium, et ut Imperatori innotesceret 
velociufl perituram civitatem, nisi ei auxilium detur." 

j- Ibid.: "Dehinc regressus, ipsam civitatem de ejus absentia nimis 
rcpporit tntiTenteni ; non tamen in earn sine admiratione introiit. Nortmanni 
ejus reditum praescientes, accurrerunt ei ante portam turris ; Bed ille, omisso 
equo, a dextris ct sinistris advcrsarios caxlens, civitatem ingressus, tristem 
populum reddidit latum." 


of Aachen, and of Paris appeared before the city where just 
now his presence was most needed. Towards the last days of 
summer Duke Henry again appeared, but it was fully autumn 
before the Emperor himself found his way to the banks of 
the Seine * Duke Henry came with an army drawn from 
both the Frankish realms, Eastern and Western.! With 
more show of prudence than he had shown at his former 
coming, Henry began by reconnoitring both the city and the 
camp of the enemy, to judge at what point an attack might 
be made with least risk.:}: But the Northmen were too wary 
for him. They had surrounded their whole camp with a net- 
work of trenches, three feet deep and one foot wide, filled up 
with straw and brushwood, and made to present the appear- 
ance of a level surface^ A small party only were left in 
ambush. As the Duke drew near, they sprang up, hurled 
their javelins, and provoked him with shouts. Henry pressed 
ou in wrath, but he was soon caught in the simple trap which 
had been laid for him ; his horse fell and he himself was 
hurled to the ground. The enemy rushed upon him, slew 
him, and stripped him in the sight of his army.|| One of the 
defenders of the city, the brave Count Eagnar, of whom we 

* " .Estivo tempore, antequam segetes in mauipulos reduerentur," says 
Regino (t>87) of the coming of Henry, and adds, " Post ha?c Imperator 
. . . venit." This does not practically contradict the Annales Yedastini 
(881)) : " Circa auctumni tempora Imperator Carisiacum veniens cum in- 
^enti exercitu, prasmisit Heinricum, dictum I)ucem Austrasiorum, Parisius." 

f Regino, 887 : " Idem Heinricus cum exercitibus utriusque regni 
Parisius venit." 

% Ann. Ved. 886 : " Qui quum advenisset illnc cum exercitu prope civi- 
tatem, cum paucis inconsulte coepit equitare circa castra Danorum, voiens 
invisere qualiter exercitus castra eorum posset attingere, vel quo ipsi castra 
figere deberent." To which Regino (887) adds : " Situm loci couternplatur 
aditumque perquirit, quoexercitui cum hostibus minus periculosus pateret 

§ This is told most fully by Regino (887) : " Porro Xordmanni audientes 
appropinquare exercitum, foderant foveas, latitudinisunius pedis etprofun- 
ditatis trium, in circuitu castrorum, easque quisquiliis et stipula openierant, 
semitas tantum discursui necessarias intactas reservautes." 

| Ibid.: "Aspiciente universe exercitu, absque mora trucidaat, anna 
auferunt, etspolia ex parte diripiunt." 


have already heard, came in time only to bear off the body, 
at the expense of severe wounds received in his own person.* 
The corpse of the Duke was carried to Soissons and was 
buried in the Church of Saint Medard. The army of Henry, 
disheartened by the loss of their chief, presently returned to 
their own homes. Paris was again left to its own resources, 
cheered only by such small rays of hope as might spring 
from the drowning of one of the besieging leaders in the 


The news of the death of Henry was brought to the Em- 
peror. Notwithstanding his grief — perhaps an euphemism 
for his fear — he pressed on towards Paris with his army ; but 
even the chronicler most favourable to him is obliged to 
confess that the lord of so many nations, at the head of the 
host gathered from all his realms, did nothing worthy of the 
Imperial majesty4 All in truth that the Emperor Charles 

* The exploit of Count Ragnar comes only from the Annales Vedastiui : 
"Quurn nur.asseut ilium armis suis, supervenit quidam e Francis, Rag- 
nerus nomine Comes, ejusque corpus non absque vulneribus illis tulit ; 
quod statim Imperatori nuntiatum est." Regino says only, "Agminibus 
impetum lucientibus, vix cadaver exauime eruitur. He adds, " Exercitus, 
amisso duce, ad propria revertitur." 
t Abbo, ii. 217 : 

" En et Ainricus, superis crebro vocitatus, 
Obsidione volens illos vallare, necatur. 
Iuque suos, nitens Sequanam transire, Danorum 
Rex Sinric, geminis ratibus spretis, penetravit 
Cum sociis ter nam quinquagenis, patiturque 
Naufragium medio fiuvii, fundum petiturus, 
Quo fixit, comitesque simul, tentoria morti, 
Hie sua castra prius Sequanaj contingere fundum 
Quo surgens oirtur, dixit, quam linquere rcgnum 
Francorum, fecit Domino tribuente quod inquit." 
% Regiuo, 887: " l'ost haeo Imperator, Galliarum populos perlustrans, 
Parisius cum Lnimenso exercitu venit, ibique adversos hostes castra posuit, 
Bed nil dignum [mperatoria" majestate in eodeni loco gessit." So Ann. V(d. 
--'1: [He viP) audito multum doluit; accepto tamen consilio, Parisius 
i cum manu valida: Bed quia l)ux ]>eriit, ipse nil utile gessit." So the 
Annals of Fulda, 886: "Imperator per Burgundiam obviam Nortmannos 
in Galliam, qui tunc Parisios erant, usque pervenit. Occiso ibi Heinrico, 
Marcbenai Francorum, qui in id tempus Niustriam tenuit, Rex, parum 
prospere actis rebus, revertitur in sua.'' 


did was to patch up a treaty with the barbarians, by virtue 
of which, on condition of their raising the siege of Paris, 
they received a large sum as the ransom of the city, and 
were allowed to ravage Burgundy without let or hindrance.* 
We are told indeed that this step was taken because the land 
to be ravaged — are we to understand the Kingdom of Boso ? — 
was in rebellion.t At all events, the Christian Emperor, the 
last who reigned over the whole Empire, handed over a 
Christian land as a prey to pagan teeth, and left Paris 
without striking a blow. Charles went straight back into 
Germany, and there spent the small remnant of his reign and 
life in a disgraceful domestic quarrel.^ One act however 
he did which concerns our story. Hugh the Abbot, the 
successor of Kobert the Strong in the greater part of his 
Duchy, had died during the siege. The valiant Count of 
Paris was now, by imperial grant, put in possession of all the 
domains which had been held by his fat her. § 

But the Count was not long to remain a mere Count ; the 
city and its chief were alike to receive the reward of their 
services in the cause of Christendom. Presently came that 
strange and unexampled event by which the last Emperor of 
the legitimate male stock of the great Charles was deposed 
by the common consent of all his dominions. The Empire 
again split up into separate Kingdoms, ruled over by Kings 
of their own choice. The choice of the Western realm fell, 
as it well deserved to fall, upon the illustrious Count of Paris. 
Later writers, full of hereditary ideas, seem hardly to have 

* Ann. Yed. 866 : " Factum est vere consilium miserum ; nam utrum- 
que, et civitatis redemptio illis promissa est, et data est via sine im- 
pedimento, ut Burgundiarn hieme depradarent." So Ann. Fuld. 886 : 
" Imperator perterritus, quibusdam per Burgundiam vagandi licentiam 
dedit, quibusdam plurimam promisit pecuniam, si a regno ejus statuto inter 
eos tempore discederent." 

f Eegino, 887 : "Ad extremum, concessis terris et regionibus qua 1 ultra 
Sequanam erant Nordmannis ad depra?dandum, eo quod incolaj illarum sibi 
obtemperare uollent, recessit." 

X The details follow immediately after in Rcgino. 

§ See above, p. 222. So Ann. Ved. 886: "Terra patris sui RothbertJ 
Odoni Comiti concessa, Imperator ca^tra movit." 


understood the first election of a national King, and to have 
looked upon Odo as simply chosen as a guardian for the 
young heir of the Karlings, the future King Charles the 
Simple.* But Charles, instead of Odo's ward, appeared as 
his most dangerous rival. For the reign of Odo was not un- 
disturbed, nor was his title undisputed. He had to struggle 
in the beginning of his reign with a rival in the Italian Guy, 
and in later years he had to withstand the more formidable 
opposition of Charles himself. And, chosen as he was by the 
voice of what we may now almost venture to call the French 
people, hallowed as King in the old royal seat of Compiegne 
by the hands of the Primate of Sens, the Metropolitan of his 
own Paris,! Odo had still to acknowledge the greater power 
and higher dignity of the Eastern King. He had to acknow- 
ledge himself the man of Arnulf, to receive his crown again 
at Arnulf s hands, while Arnulf was not as yet a Roman 
Emperor, but still only a simple King of the East Franks.^ 

* Aimon of Ferny, de Kcgibus Francorum (Pertz, ix. 374) : " Karolus, 
qui Simplex postea est dictus, in cunis asvum agens, patre ovbatus remansit. 
Cujus ajtatem Francise primores iticongruam, ut erat, exercenda? domina- 
tionis arbifcrati, maxime quum jam recidivi Nortinannorum uuntiarentur 
motus, concilium de summis ineunt rebus. Supererant duo filii Rotberti ; 
senior Odo dicebatur, Botbertus alter, patrem nomine referens. Ex bis 
majorem uatu Odonem Franci, licet reluctantem, tutorem pueri regnique 
elegere gubernatorem, qui mente benignus et reipublicaj bostes arcendo 
strenue praefuit, et parvulum optimefovit, atque adolescenti et suarepetenti 
patienter regna refudit, a quo parte regui redonatus quo advixit tempore 
hostibus terribilis eique semper exstitit fidelis." Tbis account leaves out 
all mention of Charles the Fat, as is done also in the Historia Francorum 
Senoncnsis (Pertz, ix. 3G5) : " Post baec defunctus est Hludovicus Rex 
Francorum, filius Karoli Calvi, relinquens filium suum parvulum, Karolum 
nomine, qui Simplex appellatur, cum regno in custodia Odonis principis. 
Eo tempore gens incredula Normannorum per Gallias sese diffudit, ca?dibus, 
incendiis, atque omni crudelitatis genere debaccbata. Deinde Franci, Bur- 
gundiones, et Aquitanenses proceres, congregati in unum, Odonem principeui 
elegerunt sibi in Regem." Alberic of Trois Fontaines, on the other band, 
epeakfl of Charles the Simple as intrusted to the care of Odo by Charles the 

t Ann. V.d. 888. 

\ Ibid.: "Odo Rex Etemia civitatem contra missos Arnulfi perrexit, 
qui <i coronam, ut ferunt, misit, quam in ccclesia Dei genitricis in natali 


Still the Count had become a King ; the city which his stout 
heart and arm had so well defended had become a royal 
city. The rank indeed both of the city and its King was far 
from being firmly fixed. A hundred years of shiftings and 
changings of dynasties, of rivalry between Laon and Paris, 
between the Frank and the Frenchman, had still to follow. 
But the great step had been taken ; there was at last a King 
of the French reigning in Paris. The city which by its own 
great deeds had become the cradle of a nation, the centre of 
a kingdom, had now won its fitting place as their head. 
The longest and most unbroken of the royal dynasties of 
Europe had now begun to reign. And it had begun to reign, 
because the first man of that house who wore a crown was 
called to that crown as the worthiest man in the realm over 
which he ruled. 

But we must go back to the enemy before Paris. By the 
treaty concluded with the Emperor, they were to raise the 
siege, but they were left at liberty to harry Burgundy and 
other lands. The citizens of Paris, however, steadfastly re- 
fused to allow them to pass up the Seine ; so the Northmen 
ventured on a feat which in that age was looked on as un- 
paralleled.* They saw, we are told, that the city could not 
be taken ; so they carried their ships for two miles by land, 
and set sail at a point on the river above the city.f While 

sancti Briccii capiti impositam, ab omni populo Rex adclarnatur," Cf. 
Ann. Fuld. 888-895; Regino, 895. Arnulf was not crowned Emperor 
till 896. An amusing perversion of this confirmation by Arnnlf will be 
found in Alberic des Trois Fontaines (888), who turns it into a confirmation 
by Charles the Fat : " Normanni, fugati a civitate Parisius, Senonas vene- 
runt, quorum timore Waltherus Senonensis Archiepiscopus unxit Odoneni 
in Regem, ut exiret contra eos. Fuit enim iste Odo frater ex matre supra 
dicti Hugonis Abbatis, filii Karoli magni ex Regina ; unde aliqua erat ratio 
quod ei in tutela regni successit. Potuit igitur fieri, ut primo ungeretur 
ab Archiepiscopo, postea confirmaretur, quod factum erat a memorato 
Imperatore Karolo." 

* Regino, 888: " Nordmanni, qui Parisiorum urbem obsidebant, miram 
et inauditam rem, non solum nostra, sed etiam superiore <Ttate fecerunt." 

f Ibid.: " Quum civitatem inexpugnabilem esse persensissent, omni 
virtnte omnique ingenio laborare coeporunt, quatcnus urbe post tergum 


the Empire was falling in pieces, while new kingdoms were 
arising and were being: struggled for by rival Kings, the 
Northmen were harrying at pleasure. Soissons was sacked ;* 
after a long and vain attack on the mighty walls of Sens, the 
enemy found it convenient to retire on a payment of money.f 
Meaux also, under the valiant Count Theodberht, stood a 
siege ; but, after the death of their defender, the citizens 
capitulated. The capitulation was broken by the Northmen ; 
the city was burned, and the inhabitants were massacred.^ 
By this time Odo was King. Meanwhile the Northmen, 
after their retreat from Sens, had made another attempt on 
Paris, and had been again beaten off by the valiant citizens.§ 
The King now came to what was now his royal city, and 
established a fortified camp in the neighbourhood to secure 
it from future attacks. || Yet, when the Northmen once more 
besieged Paris in the autumn of 889, even Odo himself had 
to stoop to the common means of deliverance. The new 
King, the first Parisian King, bought off the threatened 
attack by the payment of a Danegeld, and the pirates went 
away by land and sea to ravage the Constantino peninsula, 
the land which, a generation or two later, was to become the 
special land of the converted Northmen.1T 

relicta, classem cum omnibus copiis per Pe pianam sursutn possent evehere, 
et sic Hionnam fluvium ingredientes, Burgundia? fines absque obstaculo 

* Ann. Ved. 886. 

t Ibid. 

\ Ann. Ved. 886. 

§ Regino, 889 : "Nordmanni a Senonica urbe reccdentes, denuo Parisius 
cum omnibus copiis devenerunt. Ktquuin i 1 lis descensus fluminisacivibus 
omnino inhiberetur, rursus castraponunt, civitatem totis viribus oppugnant, 
Bed, Deo opem fercnte, nihil prevalent." 

|| Ann. Ved. S88: "Circa autumni vero tempora Odo Rex, adunato 
exercitu, Parisius venit ; ibiquc castra metatus est prope civitatem, ne 
iterum ipsa obsideretur." 

1 Regino, 890: "Civibus qui continuis operum ac vigiliarum laborilms 
induruerant, ct assiduis bellorum conflictibus exercitati erant, audacitcr 
reluctantibus, Nbidmanni, desperatis rebus, naves per terram cum magno 
sudore trahunt, d sic alveum repetentes, Rritannire finibus classem traji- 


Paris was at last secured against Scandinavian attack by 
the establishment of the Duchy of Normandy. By the Treaty 
of Clair-on-Epte in 913, Hrolf Ganger (changed in French and 
Latin mouths into Rou and Eollo) became the man of the 
King of Laon for lands which were taken away from the 
dominion of the Duke of Paris. Charles the Simple, the 
restored Karling, was now King; Eobert, the brother of 
Odo, was Duke of the French ; and there can be no doubt 
that the tottering monarchy of Laon gained much by the 
dismemberment of the Parisian Duchy and by the establish- 
ment at the mouth of the Seine of a vassal bound by special 
ties to the King himself. The foundation of the Rouen 
Duchy at once secured Paris against all assaults of mere 
heathen pirates. France had now a neighbour to the im- 
mediate north of her — a neighbour who shut her off from the 
sea and from the mouth of her own great river — a neighbour 
with whom she might have her wars as with other neighbours ; 
but a neighbour who had embraced her creed, who was 
speedily adopting her language and manners, and who 
formed part of the same general political system as herself. 
The shifting relations between France and Normandy during 
the tenth and eleventh centuries form no part of our sub- 
ject, but it will be well to bear in mind that Paris was at 
once sheltered and imprisoned through the Norman posses- 
sion of the lower course of the Seine. 

It follows then that the next besiegers of Paris came from 
a different quarter ; and these next besiegers came from the 
quarter from which its last foreign besiegers have come. In 
the course of the tenth century, the century of so many shift- 
ing relations between Rouen, Laon, and Paris, while the 

ciunt. Quoddam castellum in Constantiensi territories quod ad sanctum 
Loth dicebatur, obsident." The action of Odo comes from Ann. Yed. 889 : 
" Contra quos [Danos] Odo Bex venit ; et nuntiis intercurrentibus, mune- 
rati ab eo regressi a Parisius, relictaque Sequana, per mare navale iter 
atque per terram pedestre et equestre agentes in territorio Constantly 
civitatis circa castrum sancti Laudi sedem sibi faciunt, ipsumque castrum 
oppugnare non cessant.'' 


rivalry between King and Duke sometimes broke forth and 
sometimes slumbered, Paris was twice attacked or threatened 
by German armies. Both the first and the second Otto at 
least appeared in the near neighbourhood of the city. In 946, 
the first and greatest of the name, not yet Emperor in formal 
rank, but already exercising an Imperial pre-eminence over 
the kingdoms into which the Frankish Empire had split up, 
entered the French Duchy with two royal allies or vassals in 
his train. One was the Burgundian King Conrad, Lord of 
the realm between the Rhone and the Alps ; the other was 
the nominal King of Paris and its Duke, Lewis, alike the 
heir of all the Karlings and the descendant of our own 
-/Elfred, whose nominal reign over the Western Kingdom 
was in truth well nigh confided to the single fortress of 
Compiegne. Among the shifting relations of the Princes of 
the Western Kingdom, Hugh Duke of the French and 
Richard Duke of the Normans were now allied against 
their Carolingian overlord. He had lately been their pri- 
soner, and he had been restored to freedom and kingship 
only by the surrender of the cherished possession of his race, 
the hill and tower of Laon. Otto, the mighty Lord of the 
Eastern realm, felt himself called on to step in when Teutonic 
interests in the Western lands seemed to be at their last 
gasp. The three Kings united their forces against the two 
Dukes, and marched against the capitals both of France and 
Normandy. But never were the details of a campaign told 
in a more contradictory way. There can be little doubt that 
Rouen was besieged, and besieged unsuccessfully. Thus 
much at least the German historian allows;* in Norman 
hands the tale swells into a magnificent legend.! What 
happened at Paris is still less clear. Laon, for the moment 
a French possession, was besieged unsuccessfully, and Rheims 

* Widukind, iii. 4: " Exinde, collect^ ex onmi exercitu electorum 
mili t ii in manu, Rothun Dauorum urbem adiit, sed difficultate locorum, 
asperiorique hieme ingruente, plagfl eos quidem magnA percussit ; incolumi 
exercitu, infecto negotio, post trea menses Saxoniam regressus est." 

■f See Dudo'fl account in Duchesne, Iter. Norm. Scriptt, 130-134 ; or 
Palgrave, ii. 562-578. 


successfully.* Theu, after a vain attempt on Senlis, the 
combined armies of the Kings of Aachen, Aries, and Com- 
piegne drew near to the banks of the Seine. Flodoard, the 
canon of Kheims, the discreetest writer of his age, leaves out 
all mention of Paris and its Duke; he tells us only that 
the Kings crossed the river and harried the whole land ex- 
cept the cities.t The Saxon Widukind tells us how his King, 
at the head of thirty-two legions, every man of whom wore 
a straw hat,! besieged Duke Hugh in Paris, and duly per- 
formed his devotions at the shrine of Saint Denis.§ From 
these two entries we are safe in inferring that, if Paris was 
now in any strict sense besieged, it was at least not besieged 
successfully. But Eicher, the monk of Saint Eemigius, one 
of the liveliest tale-tellers of any age, is ready with one of 
those minute stories which, far more than the entries of more 
solemn annalists, help to bring us face to face with the men 
of distant times. The Kings were drawing near to the Seine. 
In order that the enemy might be cut off from all means of 
crossing, the Duke of the French, Hugh the Great, had bid- 

* Richer, ii. 54 : " Tres itaque Reges, in unum collecti, primi certaminis 
laborem Lauduno inferenduin decernunt. Et sine mora, illo exercitum 
ducunt. Quum ergo ex adverso montis eminentiam viderent, et omni 
parte urbis situm explorarent, cognito incassum sese ibi certaturos, ab ei, 
nrbe discedunt et Romos adoriuntur." He then goes on to describe the 
taking of Rheims. This is confirmed by Widukind, iii. 3 : " Rex cum 
exercitu Lugdunum adiit, eamque armis tentavit." He places the taking 
of Kheims after the attack on Paris, and afterwards, perhaps inadvertently, 
speaks of Laon as if it had been taken. Lugdunum is of course a mistake 
for Laudunum. 

t Flodoard, 946 (Pertz, iii. 393) : " Sicque trans Sequanam contendentes, 
loca qureque prater civitates gravibus atterunt depra'dationibus." 

X Widukind (iii. 2) records Otto's answer to a boastful message of 
Hugh : " Ad quod Rex famosurn satis reddit responsum ; sibi vero fore 
tantam multitudinem pileorum ex culmis contextorum, quos ei pra?sentari 
oporteret, quantum nee ipse nee pater suus umquam videret. Et revera, 
quum essetmagnus valde exercitus, triginta scilicet duarum legionum, non 
est inventus qui hujusmodi non uteretur tegumento, nisi rarissimus 
quisque." On these straw hats see Pertz's note. 

§ Widukind (iii. 3), immediately after the attempt on Rouen, adds : 
" Inde Parisius pen-exit, Hugonemque ibi obsedit, memoriam quoque 
Dionysii martyris digne honorans veneratus est." 



den all vessels, great and small, to be taken away from the 
right bank of the river for the space of twenty miles. But 
his design was hindered by a cunning stratagem of the in- 
vaders. Ten young men, who had made up their mind to 
brave every risk,* went in advance of the army of the Kings, 
having laid aside their warlike garb and provided themselves 
with the staves and wallets of pilgrims. Protected by this 
spiritual armour, they passed unhurt and unchallenged 
through the whole city of Paris, and crossed over both 
bridges to the left bank of the river. There, not far from 
the suburb of Saint German, dwelled a miller, who kept the 
mills which were turned by the waters of the Seine.t He 
willingly received the comely youths who professed to have 
crossed from the other side of the river to visit the holy 
places. They repaid his hospitality with money, and more- 
over laid in a stock of wiue, over which they spent a jovial 
day. The genial drink opened the heart and the lips 
of the host, and he freely answered the various questions 
of his guests. He was not only a miller ; he was also the 
Duke's head fisherman, and he moreover turned an occasional 
penny by letting out vessels for hire. The Germans praised 
the kindness which he had already shown them, which made 
them go on to ask for further favours. They had still 
other holy places to pray at, but they were wearied with 
their journey. They promised him a reward of ten shillings 
— no small sum in the tenth century — if he would carry 
them across to the other side. He answered that, by the 
Duke's orders, all vessels were kept on the left bank to cut 
off the means of crossing from the Germans. They told him 

* Richer, ii. 57 : " Decern numero juvenes quibus constant! mente fixum 
erat omne periculum subire." He then describes their pilgrim's garb. 

t Kicher, ii. 57 : "Me farinarium sesc memorat, at i LI i prosecuti, siquid 
amplios possit inteiTogant. Jlle ctiam piscatorum Ducis magistrum se 
i, 1 1 ex ii.iviuin accommodatione questum aliquem sibi adesse." This 
miller of the Seine appears also in a story of Geoffrey Grisegonelle in the 
I i Consilium Andegavensiuro (D*Achery, Spicilcgium, iii. 247) : " In 
crastino Consul furtivua viator, egreditor, non longe a Parisiaca urbe 
burgum sancti Germani devitans, a molendinario qui molendinos Secanaa 
odiebat, dato ei buo habitu, navigium sibi parari impetravit." 


that it inight be done in the night without discovery. Eager 
for his reward, he agreed. He received the money, and, 
accompanied by a boy, his stepson, he guided them to the 
spot where seventy-two ships lay moored to the river-side. 
The boy was presently thrown into the river ; the miller was 
seized by the throat, and compelled by threats of instant 
death to loose the ships. He obeyed, and was presently 
bound and put on board one of the vessels. Each of the 
Germans now entered a ship and steered it to the right bank. 
The whole body then returned in one of the vessels, and each 
again brought across another. By going through this pro- 
cess eight times, the whole seventy-two ships were brought 
safely to the right bank. By daybreak the army of the 
Kings had reached the river. They crossed in safety, for all 
the men of the country had fled, and the Duke himself 
had sought shelter at Orleans. The land was harried as far 
as the Loire, but of the details of the siege of Bouen and of 
the siege of Paris, if any siege there was, we hear not a word.* 
The military results of the first German invasion of France 
and Normandy were certainly not specially glorious. Laon, 
Senlis, Paris, and Bouen were, to say the least, not taken. 
All that was done was to take Bheims and to ravage a large 
extent of open country. But in a political point of view the 
expedition was neither unsuccessful nor unimportant. From 
that time the influence of the Eastern King in the affairs of 
the Western Kingdom becomes of paramount weight, and 
under his protection, the King of the West-Franks, King of 
Compiegne and soon again to be King of Laon, holds a far 
higher place than before in the face of his mighty vassals at 
Paris and Bouen. The next German invasion, forty years 
later, found quite another state of things in the Western 
Kingdom. The relations between King Lothar and Duke 
Hugh Capet were wholly different from the relations which 

* All that "Richer (ii. 58) tells us is that Otto's troops, after crossing the 
river, "terra* rccepti incendiis praedisque vehementihus totam regioncm 
usque Ligerim depopulate sunt. Post haec feruntur in terrain piratarum 
ac solo teuus devastant. Sicque Regis injuriam atrociter ulti, iter ad sua 
retorquent." The " terra piratarum " is of course Normandy. 

B 2 


had existed between their fathers, King Lewis and Duke 
Hugh the Great. No less different were the relations between 
Lothar and Otto the Second from those which had existed 
between their fathers Lewis and Otto the Great. The elder 
Otto had been a protector, first to his brother-in-law and then 
to his nephew ; the younger Otto was only a rival in the eyes 
of his cousin.* On the other hand, it was the policy of Hugh 
Capet to keep up the dignity of the crown which he meant 
one day to wear, and not to appear as an open enemy of the 
dynasty which he trusted quietly to supplant. For a while 
then the rivalry between Laon and Paris was hushed, and the 
friendship of Paris carried with it the friendship of Eouen 
and Angers. Thus, while Lewis, a prince than whom none 
ever showed a loftier or more gallant spirit, was hunted from 
one fortress or one prison to another, his son, a man in every 
way his inferior, was really able to command the forces of the 
whole land north of the Loire. Again the King of Gaul looked 
Rhine-wards ; the border land of Lotharingia kindled the 
ambition of a prince who might deem himself King both of 
Laon and Paris. That border land, after many changes to 
and fro, had now become an acknowledged portion of the 
Eastern Kingdom. But a sudden raid might win it for the 
King of the West, and the Duke of Paris would be nothing 
loth to help to make so great an addition to the Kingdom 
which he meant one day to make his own. The raid was 
made ; the hosts of the King and the Duke crossed the 
frontier, and burst suddenly on the Imperial dwelling-place of 
Aachen. The Emperor, with his pregnant wife, the Greek 
princess Theophano, had to flee before the approach of his 
cousin, and Lothar had the glory of turning the brazen eagle 
which his great forefather had placed on the roof of his 
palace in such a direction as no longer to be a standing 
menace to the Western realm.! As in a more recent war- 

* Lotbar was the -son of Lewis and of Gorberga the sister of Otto the 
Greal ; Lothar ami the younger Otto were therefore cousins. 

f Richer, iii. 71 : ".Knam aquilam quae in vertice jalatii a Karolo 
Magnet acsi volans fixa erat, in Vulturnum converterunt. Nam Germani 


fare, the Gaul began with child's play, and the German made 
answer in terrible earnest. The dishonour done to their prince 
and his realm stirred the heart of all Germany, and thirty 
thousand horsemen — implying no doubt a far larger number 
of warriors of lower degree — gathered round their Emperor 
to defend and avenge the violated Teutonic soil. Lothar 
made no attempt to defend his immediate dominions ; he 
fled to crave the help of his mighty vassal at Paris.* The 
German hosts marched, seemingly without meeting any 
resistance, from their own frontier to the banks of the Seine. 
Everywhere the land was harried ; cities were taken or sur- 
rendered ; but the pious Emperor, the Advocate of the 
Universal Church, everywhere showed all due honour to the 
saints and their holy places.! In primatial Eheims, in our 
own days to be the temporary home of another German King, 
the German Csesar paid his devotions at the shrine of Saint 
Eemigius, the saint who had received an earlier German 
conqueror still into the fold of Ckrist.J At Soissons Saint 
Medard received equal worship, and when the church of 
Saint Bathild at Chelles was burned without the Emperor's 
knowledge, a large sum was devoted to its restoration. But 
if the shrines of the saints were reverenced, the palaces of 
the rival King were especially marked out for destruction. 
Attigny was burned, and nearly equal ruin fell upon Com- 

eam in Favoniuni converterant, subtiliter significantes Gallos suo equitatu 
quandoque posse devinci." So Thietniar of Merseburg, iii. 6 (Pertz, iii. 
701), records the turning of the eagle and adds: " Ha?c stat in orientali 
parte domus, morisque fuit omnium hunc locum possidentium, ad sua earn 
vertere regna." The raid on Aachen is also described by Baldric in the 
Gcsta Episcoporum Cameracensium, i. 96 (Pertz, vii. 440). He always 
speaks of Lothar as " Rex Karlensium," and of his kingdom as " partes 
Karlensium." hi Thietmar he is " Rex Karolingorum." See above, p. 215. 

* Richer, iii. 74 : " Sic etiam versa vice, Lotharium adurgens, eo quod 
militum copiam non haberet, fiuvium Sequanam transire compulit, et 
gemebundum ad Ducem ire coegit." 

t Gest. Ep. Cam. i. 97: "Paternis morions instructus, ecclesias obser- 
vavit, immo etiam opulent is muncribus ditare potius aestimavit." 

% Richer, iii. 74: " Per fines urbis Remorum transiens sancto Bemigio 
mullum honorcm exhibuit." 


piegne itself. Meanwhile the King had fled to Etampes, 
in the immediate territory of the Duke, while Hugh himself 
was gathering his forces at Paris. At last the German host 
came within sight of the ducal city. Otto now deemed 
that he had done enough for vengeance. He had shown that 
the Frontiers of Germany were not to be invaded with im- 
punity ; he had come to Paris not to storm or blockade the 
city, but to celebrate his victorious march with the final 
triumph of a pious bravado. He sent a message to the Duke 
to say that on the Mount of Martyrs he would sing such 
a Hallelujah to the martyrs as the Duke and people of 
Paris had never heard. He performed his vow ; a band of 
clergy were gathered together on the sacred hill, and the 
German host sang their Hallelujah in the astonished ears of 
the men of Paris. This done the mission of Otto was over, 
and after three days spent within sight of Paris, the Emperor 
turned him to depart into his own land.* 

Such, at least, is the tale as told by the admirers of the 
Imperial devotee. In the hands of the monk of Eheims the 
story assumes quite another shape, and in the hands of the 
panegyrist of the House of Anjou it inevitably grows into a 
legend.f Picher tells us how the Emperor stood for three 
days on the right bank of the river, while the Duke was 
gathering his forces on the left ; how a German Goliath chal- 

* This story comes from Ealdric, Gest. Ep. Cam. i. 97: " Deinde vero 
ad pompandam victorias suaj gloriam Hugoni, qui Farisius residebat, per 
legationem dcnimtians, quod in tantem sublimitatern Alleluia facerct et 
decantari in quanta non audierit, accitis quam pluribus clericis Alleluia te 
Martyrum in loco qui dicitur Mons Martyrum, in tantum elatis vocibus 
decantari praecepit, ut attonitis auribus ipse Hugo et omnis Parisiorum 
plebs miraretur." The " Mons Martyrum" is, we need scarcely say, 

f Gest. Cons. Andeg. vi. 2. Very little can be made of a story in which 
i lie invasion of Otto is placed in the reign of Robert, the son of Hugh Capet, 
who is represented as King, his lather being still only Duke. The ex- 
pedition of Otto is thus described: " Otto siquidem Rex Alernannorum 
cum universls copiia suia Saxonum et Danorum Moutem Morentiaci 
obsederal <-t urbi Parisius multos asaultua ignominiose faciebat." Geoffrey 
Gri egonelle c es to tli<' rescue with three thousand men. 


lenged any man of France to single combat, and presently 
fell by the dart of a French or perhaps Breton, David ;* how 
Otto, seeing the hosts which were gathering against him, 
while his own forces were daily lessening, deemed that it was 
his wisest course to retreat.t As for the details of the retreat, 
our stories are still more utterly contradictory. One loyal 
French writer makes Lothar, at the head of the whole force 
of France and Burgundy, chase the flying Emperor to the 
banks of the Maes, whose waters swallowed up many of the 
fugitives.^ The monk of Bheims transfers the scene of the 
German mishap to the nearer banks of the Aisne,§ while the 
Maes is with him the scene of a friendly conference between 
the two Kings, in which Lothar, distrusting his vassal at 
Paris, deems it wiser to purchase the good will of the Emperor 
by the cession of all his claims upon Lotharingia. || The most 
striking details come from the same quarter from which we 
get the picture of the Hallelujah on Montmartre. The Em- 
peror, deeming that he had had enough of vengeance, went 
away on the approach of winter :Tf he reached the Aisne and 

* Richer, iii. 76. The name of the French champion is Tvo, 

t Ibid. iii. 77 : " Otto, Gallorum exercitum sensim colligi non ignorans, 
suum etiam tarn longo itinere quarn hostium iucursu posse minui sciens, 
redire disponit, et datis signis castra amoverunt." 

% Rudolf Glaber, i. 3. His way of telling the whole story should be 
noticed : " Lotharius . . . . ut erat agilis corpore, et validus, sensuque 
integer, tentavit redintegrare regnum, ut olim fuerat." This is explained 
in the next sentence : " Nam partem ipsius regni superiorem, qua? etiam 
Lotharii Regnum cognominatur, Otto Rex Saxonum, immo Imperator 
Romanorum [this means Otto the Great, 'primus ac maximus Otto'], ad 
suum, id est Saxonum, inclinaverat regnum." The retreat is thus 
described : " Lotharius ex omni Fraucia atque Burgundia militaii manu in 
unum coacta, persecutus est Ottonis exercitum usque in fluvium Mosam, 
multosquc ex ipsis fugientibus in eodem fiumine contigit interire." 

§ Richer, iii. 77. : " Axona; fluvii vada festinantcs alii transmiserant, alii 
vcro ingrediebantuquum exercitus a Rege missus a tergo festinantibus 
affuit. Qui reperti fuere mox gladiis hostium fusi sunt, plures quidem at 
nullo nomine clari." 

Ibid. iii. 80,81: " Belgicaj pars qua3 in lite fuerat in jus Ottonis 
trausiit." Rudolf Glaber clearly means the same thing when lie says, 
"Dehinc vero uterque cessavit, Lothario minus explente quod cupiit." 

1 Gest. Ep. Cam. i. 98: "Qui [Otto] quum satis exhausta ultione 


proposed to encamp on its banks. But by the advice of Count 
Godfrey of Hennegau, who warned him of the dangers of a 
stream specially liable to floods, he crossed with the greater 
part of his army, leaving on the dangerous side only a small 
party with the baggage.* It was on this party that Lothar, 
hastening on with a small force, fell suddenly, while a sudden 
rise of the stream hindered either attack or defence on the 
part of the main armies.f Otto then sends a boat across 
with a challenge, proposing that one or the other should 
allow his enemy to cross without hindrance, and that the 
possession of the disputed lands should be decided by the 
result of the battle which should follow.^ " Nay, rather," 
cried Count Geoffrey, probably the famous Grisegonelle of 
Anjou, " let the two Kings fight out their differences in their 
own persons, and let them spare the blood of their followers."§ 
" Small then, it seems," retorted Count Godfrey in wrath, " is 
the value that you put upon your Eing. At least, it shall 
never be said that German warriors stood tamely by while 
their Emperor was putting his life in jeopardy." || At this 

congruam vicissitudinem se rependisse putaret, ad hiberna oportere se con- 
cedere ratus, inde sirnul revccato equitatu, circa festivitatem sancti Andrea?, 
jam hieme subeunte, reditum disposuit ; remensoque itinere, bono successu 
gestarum rcrum gandens super Axonam fluvium castra metari praecepit." 

* Ibid. : " Pancis tamen famulorum remanentibus, qui retrogradientes — 
nam sarcinas bellicre supellectilis convectabant — prse fatigatione oneris, 
tenebris siquidem jam noctis incumbentibus, transitum in crastino difi'ere 
arbitrati sunt." 

f Gest. Ep. Cam. i. 98 : " Ipsa etenim nocte in tantum excrevit alveolus, 
ut difficultate importuosi littoris neuter alteri manum conferre potuerit >* 
boc ita sane, credo, Dei voluntate disposito, ne strages innumcrabilis 
ederetur utrimque." 

% Ibid. The prize was to be, "Commissa invicem pugna, cui Deus 
annueret laureatus regni imperio potiretur." This challenge again reminds 
us of Brihtnoth. Compare the references in History of the Norman 
Conquest, i. 271, note 1 . 

§ Ilu 1. : "Quid tut, ali utraque parte caxlentur? Veniant ambo Begcsin 
unum tantummodo, nobisque procul spectantibus, summi periculi soli 
subeuntes ana conferantur, unoque fusocseteri reservati victorisubjiciantur." 

II Ibid.: "Semper oestrum Regent vobis vilem haberi audivimus non cre- 
dentes ; nunc .lutein vobismetipsis fatentibus, credere fas est. Numquam 


moment, when we are looking for some scene of exciting 
personal interest, the curtain suddenly falls, and this our 
most detailed narrator, turns away from the fortunes of 
Emperors and Kings to occupy himself with his immediate 
subject, the acts of the bishops of Cambray.* 

Putting all our accounts together, it is hard to say whether, 
in a military point of view, the expedition of Otto the Second 
was a success or a failure. If his design was to take Paris, 
he certainly failed. If he simply wished to avenge his 
own wrongs and to show that Germany could not be insulted 
with impunity, he undoubtedly succeeded. In either case the 
political gain was wholly on the German side. King and 
Duke acted together during the campaign ; but each, in its 
course, learned to distrust the other, and each found it ex- 
pedient to seek the friendship of the Emperor as a check 
against his rival.f And more than all, the Imperial rights 
over Lotharingia were formerly acknowledged by Lothar, and 
were not again disputed for some ages. J 

This campaign of 976 has a special interest just now, as 
its earlier stages read, almost word for word, like a forestalling 
of the events of the last and the present year of wonders. But 
it is a campaign which marks a stage in the history of Europe. 

nobis quiescentibus noster Imperator pugnabit, nuraquam nobis sospitibus 
in proelio periclitabitur." Compare the proposal of tbe Argeians for a 
judicial combat to decide tbe right to the disputed land of Thyrea ; Tbuc. 
V. 41, rols 8e AaKeSat/xoi/iot? to fiev irpcorov efioKei fiapla eivat ravra, much as 
it seemed to Count Godfrey. 

* His comment (Gest. Ep. Cam. i. 99) is : " Hoc igitur modo Regibus 
inter se discordautibus, jam dictu difficile est quot procellis factionum 
intonantibus ab ipsis suis vassallis afficitur Tethdo episcopus." 

f Richer, iii. 78. Lothar debates whether he shall oppose Otto or make 
friends with him : " Si staret contra, cogitabat possibile esse Ducem opibus 
corrumpi, et in amicitiam Ottonis relabi. Si reconciliaretur hosti, id esse 
accelerandum, ne Dux prasentiret, et ne ipse quoque vellet reconciliari. 
Talibus in dies afficiebatur, et exinde his duobus Ducem suspectum habuit." 
See also the story of Hugh's dealings with Otto (82-85). 

t So Thietmar of Merseburg, iii. 6: "Reversus hide Imperator trium- 
phali gloria, tantum hostibus incussit terrorern ut numquam post talia 
incipere auderent; recompensatumque est iis quicquid dedecoris priufl 
intulere nostris." 


It is the first war that we can speak of as a war waged between 
Germany and anything which has even the feeblest claim to 
be called an united France. When Otto the Great marched 
against Paris and Kouen, he was fighting in the cause of the 
King of the West-Franks, the lawful overlord of the Dukes, 
against whom he was fighting. When Otto the Second 
marched against Paris, he was fighting against King and 
Dukes alike, and King and Dukes between them had at their 
call all the lands of the strictly French speech, the tongue of 
oil. Aquitaine, and the other lands of the tongue of oc, had 
of course, no part or lot in the matter ; then, as in later times, 
there were no Frenchmen south of the Loire. But if the 
expedition of Otto was in this sense the first German invasion 
of France, it was also for a long time the last. It is not often 
that Imperial armies have since that day entered French 
territory at all. The armies of Otto the Fourth appeared in 
the thirteenth century at Bouvines, and the armies of Charles 
the Fifth appeared in the sixteenth century in Provence. 
But Bouvines, lying in the dominions of a powerful and re- 
bellious vassal, was French only by the most distant external 
allegiance ; and Provence, in the days of Charles the Fifth, 
was still a land newly won for France, and the Imperial 
claims over it were not yet wholly forgotten. Both invasions 
touched only remote parts of the kingdom, and in no way 
threatened the capital. Since the election of Hugh Capet 
made Paris for ever the head of France and of all the vassals 
of the French kingdom, the city has been besieged and taken 
by pretenders, native and foreign, to the Capetian crown, but 
it has never, till our own century, been assailed by the armies 
of the old Teutonic realm. The fall of the first Buonaparte 
was followed by a surrender of Paris to a host which called 
up the memories alike of Otto of Germany and of Henry of 
England. The fall of the second Buonaparte was followed 
before our own eyes by the siege of Paris, the crowning-point 
of a war whose first stages suggest the campaign of the second 
Otto, but which, for the mighty interests at stake, for the long 
endurance of besieger and besieged, rather suggests the great 


siege at the hands of Sigefrith. But all alike are witnesses 
to the position which the great city of the Seine has held 
ever since the days of Odo. Paris is to France, not merely 
its greatest city, the seat of its government, the centre of its 
society and literature. It is France itself; it is, as it has 
been so long, its living heart and its surest bulwark. It is 
the city which has created the kingdom, and on the life of 
the city the life of the kingdom seems to hang. What is to 
be its fate ?* Is some wholly different position in the face of 
France and of Europe to be the future doom of that memo- 
rable city ? Men will look on its possible humiliation with 
very different eyes. Some may be disposed to take up the 
strain of the Hebrew prophet, and to say, " How hath the 
oppressor ceased, the golden city ceased !" Others will lament 
the home of elegance and pleasure, and what calls itself civili- 
zation. We will, in taking leave of Paris, old and new, wind 
up with the warning, this time intelligible enough to be 
striking, of her own poet : — 

" Francia cur latitas vires, narra, peto, priscas, 
Te rnajora triumphasti quibus atque jugasti 
Regna tibi ? Propter vitium triplexque piaclum. 
Quippe supercilium, Veneris quoque feda venustas, 
Ac vestis preciosaj elatio te tibi tollunt ! 
Afrodite adeo, saltern quo arcere pareutesf 
Haud valeas lecto, monachas Domino neque sacras ; 
Vel quid naturam, siquidem tibi sat rnulieres, 
Despicis, occurant? Agitamus fasque nefasque. 
Aurea sublimem mordet tibi fibula vestem, 
Efncis et calidam Tyria" carnem preciosa. 
Non propter chlaraydem auratam cupis indusiari 
Tegmine, decusata tuos gemmis nisi zona 
Nulla fovet lumbos, aurique pedes nisi virgse, 
Non habitus humilis, non te valet abdere vestis. 
Hn?c facis ; haec alise faciunt gentcs ita nulla? ; tria ni linquas, vires regnumque paternum 
Onnie scelus super his Christi, cujus quoque vates, 
Nasci testantur biUi ; luge, Francia, ab istis ! " 

* [In January 1871 I did not foresee — who did ? — a second siege of Paris 
— still less a burning of Paris — at the hands of Frenchmen.] 
t That is, simply kinswomen ; parentes in the French sense. 




Of all the many odd freaks of diplomacy which we have seen 
of late, perhaps the very oddest was when an Austrian states- 
man last year defended the possession of Lombardy by his 
master on the ground that that province was " a fief of the 
German Empire." Considering that there never was such a 
thing as " the German Empire ;" considering also that, if 
there was, Lombardy never was a fief of it ;t considering 
again that Francis Joseph of Lorraine is in no sense the heir 
or successor of the old German Kings ; considering also that, 
if he were, it would by no means prove his right to any 
particular fief of their kingdom : — considering all this, the 
statement, whether as a historical assertion or a political 
argument, is certainly remarkable in all its parts. We do 
not undertake to decide whether the diplomatist who made it 
was really so strangely ignorant himself, or whether he was, 
after the manner of diplomatists, merely practising upon the 
presumed ignorance of others. In either case it shows the 
reckless way in which people allow themselves to turn the 
facts of past times into political arguments about present 
affairs. If it is true in any sense that " Lombardy is a fief 
of the German Empire," it is equally true of all Germany, of 

* [This Essay appeared in January 1861, and I keep the political allu- 
sions as they were then written. It is curious and pleasant to see all that 
ten years have done. 

The peculiar title was chosen, because the Essay dealt mainly with the 
Italian side of Frederick, and also to show people that there had been 
Kin.- of Italy.] 

f [That is to say, Lombardy was a fid' of the Roman Empire and of the 
Kingdom of Italy, nol of the Kingdom of Germany.] 


the greater part of Italy and Belgium, of nearly all Holland, 
all Switzerland, and about a third of France. If Francis 
Joseph is lawful master of Lombardy, because Lombardy 
was " a fief of the German Empire," his claim must be equally 
good to be absolute lord of all the countries which we have 
reckoned up, to say nothing of vaguer claims to superiority 
over Poland, Denmark, England, and the world in general. 

We have mentioned this diplomatic freak as an instance of 
the way in which the ancient relations of Germany and Italy 
may be misrepresented or misconceived from the German 
side. Not long ago we fell in with an Italian novel, fairly 
interesting, but not very remarkable, which shows how they 
may be misrepresented or misconceived from the Italian side. 
This novel, Folchetto Malespina by name, dealt with the days 
and the deeds of— since the great Charles himself— the 
greatest German who ever set foot upon Italian soil. Now 
most certainlv any one who drew his idea of Frederick 
Barbarossa from that story alone would set him down as 
having as little business in Italy as Francis Joseph has at 
Venice and Cracow, or Louis Napoleon at Borne and Chani- 
bery. It would never occur to a reader of Folchetto Malesjnna 
that Frederick, German as he was, was the elected, crowned, 
and anointed King of Italy and Emperor of the Bomans, a 
King whose sovereignty was acknowledged in theory by all 
Italy, and was zealously asserted in act by a large portion of 
the Italian nation. 

It is most desirable, for the sake both of the present and 
the past, that misconceptions of this sort should not be 
allowed to confuse the right understanding of either. We 
undertook in a former Essay to show that Louis Napoleon 
Buonaparte was not the successor of Charles the Great. We 
now assert, with equal confidence, that Francis Joseph of 
Lorraine is just as little the successor of the Saxon Ottos or 
the Swabian Fredericks. The legal and traditional rights of 
the old Teutonic Kings have absolutely nothing in common 
with the brute force of the modern Austrian tyranny. Let 
this be well understood on both sides, and it will be impos- 


sible to dress up an imposture of yesterday in the borrowed 
plumes of a fallen but still venerable power, and it will be 
needless to pervert and depreciate a great cause and a great 
man, because, at a superficial glance, his career seems to run 
counter to the cause which has the sympathy of every generous 
heart of our own day. 

Our immediate business is to give a picture, both personal 
and political, of Frederick Barbarossa as the greatest and 
most typical of the German Kings of Italy, and therein to 
show that there is absolutely nothing in common between the 
position of the old Swabian and that of the modern Austrian. 
We have chosen Frederick, both as being the most famous 
name among the Teutonic Kings, and because he is really the 
best suited for our purpose. Charles the Great stands by 
himself, alone and without competitor. He was the founder ; 
those who came after him were at most his successors. And 
again, the four centuries which elapsed between Charles and 
Frederick had greatly altered the position of the world. 
Charles belongs to the debateable ground between ancient and 
mediaeval history ; Frederick belongs to a century which is 
the most typical of all the middle ages. In the days of 
Charles much was still living and practical which in the days 
of Frederick had become matter of learning and tradition. 
Charles was really a Roman Augustus ; he stepped, as 
naturally as a barbarian Frank could step, into the place of 
which the female usurper at Byzantium was declared un- 
worthy. Frederick was a real King of G ermany, and a King 
almost equally real of Italy ; but the Imperial title was now 
little more than a magnificent pageant, to be disputed about 
by priests and lawyers. In the days of Charles, the Bishop 
of Borne was as clearly the subject of the Emperor as his 
rival at Constantinople. In the days of Frederick the 
Popes had reached that ambiguous condition, neither subject 
nor sovereign, which was in truth the source of their most 
efficient power. In short, it would require the ingenuity of a 
French Bishop to see any likeness between Charles the 
Great and anything now on the lace of the earth. But 


Frederick comes near enough to us to be easily misunder- 
stood. In his days the old Francia had vanished. Ger- 
many, France, and Italy, in the modern sense of those words, 
already existed. A King of Germany warring in Italy, now 
conquering, now conquered, building up with one hand, and 
pulling down with another, has enough of superficial likeness 
to phenomena of our own times to make it worth while to 
stop to show the points of real unlikeness. And again, 
Frederick is the best suited for our purpose of the post- 
Carolingian Emperors, if only because he is far the best 
known. Like Charles the Great, he has become a hero of 
romance : he has become, as it were, the patriarch of a 
nation, and his memory still lives in the German heart as 
the impersonation of German unity. Frederick was certainly 
not personally superior to his predecessors Otto the Great 
and Henry the Third; but he has contrived to attract to 
himself a greater portion of the world's lasting fame. 
Again, in the reign of Henry the Fourth the chief interest, 
as far as Italy is concerned, is of an ecclesiastical kind ; 
in the reign of Frederick the ecclesiastical interest is 
subordinate to the political. Hildebrand himself is the 
arch-antagonist of Henry, but one cannot help looking at 
Alexander the Third chiefly as the ally of Milan. Again, 
Frederick Barbarossa, like all other German Kings, and in- 
deed like almost all other men, cannot be compared, in extent 
and variety of natural gifts, to his wonderful grandson and 
namesake. But the very genius of Frederick the Second, 
and the whole circumstances of his life, put him out of all 
competition. Frederick Barbarossa is essentially a man of a 
[•articular age and country; he is in everything, for good 
and for evil, a German of the twelfth century. But his 
grandson can hardly be said to belong to any particular 
nation. The child of a German father and a Norman mother, 
born and brought up in his half-Greek, half-Saracen realm of 
Sicily, the first patron of the newborn speech and civilization 
of modern Italy, it is hard to say what blood or what culture 
predominated in him ; but it is clear that the Teutonic 


element was the weakest of all. In the largeness of his views, 
in the versatility of his powers, he rises intellectually as far 
above his grandfather as he sinks beneath hirn morally. It is 
never desirable for history to descend, either with prudish or 
with prurient curiosity, into the secrets of private life ; still 
it is impossible to avoid comparing the almost acknowledged 
harem of the second Frederick, his concubines and bastards 
openly thrust upon the world, with the seemingly decent 
and regular household of his grandfather. Perhaps, indeed, 
we may be more inclined to forgive the license which pro- 
duced Manfred and Hensius, than the lawful matrimony which 
gave birth to Henry the Sixth ; still, as concerns the men 
themselves, it is clear that the elder Frederick lived the life 
of a Christian King, and the younger that of a Saracen 
Sultan. In matters coming more properly within the sphere 
of history, we cannot fancy Frederick Barbarossa wandering 
into the regions of forbidden religious speculation ; but still 
less can we imagine him acting the part of a cruel persecutor 
of heretics,* without a particle of religious bigotry, simply to 
ward off the suspicion of heterodoxy from himself. Frederick 
the Second, in the higher parts of his character, was beyond 
his age, almost beyond all ages ; but for that very reason he 
had but little real influence upon his own generation, and is 
least of all men to be taken as typical of it. But the elder 
Frederick was one whose every idea was cast in the mould of 
his own age and nation. He devoted himself, with a stead- 
fast and honourable devotion which won the respect of his 
enemies, to those objects to which it was natural that a 
German King of the twelfth century should devote himself. 
Most of those objects are utterly alien to the sympathies of 
our own time ; many of them were opposed by those men of 
his own day with whom we are naturally most inclined to 
side. Still, a candid mind will ever honour the zealous 

* How far Frederick Barbarossa was responsible for the death of Arnold 
(if Brescia does not seem quite clear ; but to have spared a man whom 
every Catholic looked OD as a heretic, and every Cihihelin as a traitor, 
would have required as keen a vision as that of Frederick the Second 
combined with a clemency beyond that of his grandfather. 


devotion of a life to any cause not palpably unrighteous, and 
unstained by means which are palpably dishonourable. A 
prince whose life was mainly given up to crush the growing- 
liberties of Italy appears at first sight as an object of some- 
thing almost like abhorrence. But only look at him with the 
eyes of a contemporary German, or of an Italian of his own 
side, and we shall soon see that the enemy of Italy in the 
twelfth century was at least one of a far nobler mould than 
the Bourbon, the Corsican, and the Lorrainer, with whom 
she has had to struggle before our own eyes. 

Our present object is chiefly to consider the character and 
position of Frederick with regard to the kingdom of Italy ; 
his relations with powers like Poland and Denmark, his two 
crusades, even his internal policy in his German realm, hardly 
concern us. Now, fully to understand that position, we must, 
for a short space, take up that general thread of early me- 
diaeval history which we dropped in our Seventh Essay. We 
there saw that the great Frankisk Empire of Charles the 
Great was, at least from the year 888, cut up into the four 
Kingdoms of Eastern Francia or Germany, Western Francia, 
Burgundy, and Italy; and that of these it was Eastern Francia, 
the Regnum Teutonicum, which had by far the fairest claim 
to be looked upon as the true continuation of the kingdom of 
Charles and Pippin. The Eastern Frank clave to the tongue 
and manners of his forefathers, and kept possession of the 
city which was the great Emperor's chosen dwelling during 
life and his resting-place after death. For nearly four hun- 
dred years the crown of Germany passed through a succession 
of dynasties, which produced at least their fair share of able 
and valiant Kings. We have been so used for some ages past 
to look upon Germany as a country utterly divided, or united 
only by the loosest of federal ties, that we have some difficulty 
in realizing the Regnum Teutonicum of the early middle a^e 
as a single kingdom, and, for those times, far from a disunited 
kingdom. Of course it would not answer modern ideas of 
English good government, still less Parisian ideas of centrali- 
zation. A Duke of Saxony or Bavaria was a very formidable 



subject, and lie bad very little scruple about rebelling against 
his lieere lord. But be was not more formidable or less scru- 
pulous than an Earl of Mercia or Northumberland, long after 
England acknowledged a single King. He was, at all events, 
far more orderly and obedient than a Duke of Normandy or a 
Count of Flanders. In short, the Germany of Henry the Third 
was quite as united as the England of Eadward the Confessor, 
ami incomparably more united than the France of Philip the 
First. A revolt in Germany, like a revolt in England, was a 
rebellion, and was felt and spoken of as such ; but hostilities 
between Rouen and Paris have rather the character of foreign 
war. The object of the great Saxon war against Henry the 
Fourth was to dethrone the reigning King and to set up 
another, a tribute to his importance which the King of Paris 
never received from his refractory feudatories. While the 
King of the French never got farther from his capital than 
Orleans or Compiegne, the Kings of the Teutonic Kingdom 
were constantly moving from province to province and from 
.it v to city throughout the whole of their vast realm. Above 
all, while no Diet or Assembly of any kind brought the French 
feudatory into peaceful contact either with his lord or with his 
fellow-vassals, all Germany was constantly flocking together 
to those Colloquia which occupy as important a place in the 
pages of Lambert of Herzfeld as our own Witenagemots, 
Great Councils, and Parliaments do in those of our own early 
historians. In a word, the Saxon, Prankish, and Swabian 
Emperors were, in a true and practical sense, Kings of Ger- 
many ; the early Capetians were only in the vaguest and 
most nominal way Kings of France. 

But the Kingdom of Germany was not the only realm 
which obeyed the sceptre of Frederick. For nearly two 
1 1 u nilivd years before his time it had been acknowledged that 
the prince who was elected to the sovereignty of the Regnum 
Ttutonicum acquired thereby at least an inchoate right to the 
iron crown of the Italian Kingdom and to the golden crown 
of the Roman Empire. Otto the Great had appeared in Italy, 
at the call of the [talians themselves, as the most powerful 


among the successors of the Great Charles ; he was crowned 
and anointed Emperor of the Romans, and, as Emperor of 
the Romans, he exercised the fullest sway over the Pontiff 
and the people of the Eternal City. From his time onward 
the rank of King of Germany was but a step to the higher 
rank of Roman Emperor ; till at last the very name of the 
German Kingdom was lost, and the prince who was crowned 
at Aachen, but not yet crowned at Rome, bore the title of 
King, instead of Emperor, of the Romans. It is easy to see 
that this increase of dignity proved the real ruin of the 
German Kingdom. It involved at least one Italian campaign 
in every reign ; each successive King had to fight his way to 
his Italian capital. It called off the sovereign from the affairs 
of his native kingdom to struggle with Popes and common- 
wealths in a land which it was vain to hope really to hold in 
any constant and regular obedience. And again, the very 
rank of Roman Einj)eror, with all the halo of superhuman 
grandeur which surrounded it, must have tended to diminish 
the real power of the German King. Caesar Augustus might 
well be looked upon as almost too exalted to act as the local 
K ing of a particular kingdom. His power gradually diminished ; 
the Imperator TJrbis et Orbis at last owned hardly a foot of 
ground in his Imperial capacity, and another prince was 
formally acknowledged as sovereign of the city from which 
he drew his highest title. 

Had therefore the German Kings Otto, Henry the Third, 
and Frederick himself, sternly abstained from all intermed- 
dling in Italian affairs, we can hardly doubt that the German 
Kingdom would have greatly gained thereby. Perhaps their 
once compact and powerful realm might have remained com- 
pact and powerful to this day. But it would have required 
foresight more than human to refuse the Imperial Crown for 
themselves and for their nation. National distinctions had 
not then made themselves so distinctly felt as they have since. 
The universal sway of the old Caesars, its more recent reno- 
vation by ( 'harles, were not yet forgotten among men. That 
there should be a Roman Ca?sar was something in the eternal 


fitness of things ; and to whom could that highest place on 
earth be so worthily decreed as to the best and most powerful 
of the successors of Charles ? Again, a large part of the 
higher ranks in Northern Italy were of German descent, and 
they probably had not yet wholly forgotten their German 
origin. And, though the speech of daily life was different in 
Germany and in Italy, yet the use of one language for every 
public purpose throughout Western Europe greatly tended to 
make national distinctions less strongly felt. Their practical 
effect was just as strong, but men did not then, as they do 
now, openly assert and act upon the principle that difference 
of race or language is a ground for difference of political 
government. We do not remember during the whole of 
Frederick's Italian warfare, any distinct and openly-avowed 
case of Italians as Italians acting against the German as a 
German. No man denied Frederick's right either to the 
Kingdom of Italy or to the Roman Empire. The only doubt 
was as to the nature and extent of his royal rights ; and no 
doubt the growing republican spirit of the cities would quite 
as readily have disputed the rights of a native sovereign. 
And Frederick was throughout the chief of a large Italian 
party, who supported him with even greater zeal than his 
German countrymen. Possibly their loyalty was misplaced, 
but it was loyalty to an acknowledged legitimate King, not 
traitorous adhesion to a foreign invader. Frederick was in 
Italy the King of a party ; if he was cursed as a destroyer at 
Milan, he was worshipped as a founder at Lodi. The truth is 
that, in the twelfth century, Italian patriotism did not exist. 
Each man had the warmest local affection for his own city, 
but of Italy as a country he had no idea whatever. Indeed, 
as the cities more and more assumed the character of indepen- 
dent republics, as the notion of a separate Italian Kingdom 
grew fainter and fainter, national as distinguished from local 
patriotism grew fainter and fainter also. A variety of circum- 
st ances in each particular case made the Emperor the friend 
of one city and the enemy of another. But the Milanese 
who resisted Frederick nsistod the enemy, not of Italy, but of 


Milan ; the men of Cremona and Pavia who followed his 
banner never dreamed that in supporting their own friend, 
they were supporting the enemy of their country. Difference 
of blood, speech, and manners may have silently aggravated 
the bitterness of the conflict ; yet the German historian * 
holds up his hands in horror at the cruelty of the Italians 
to one another, compared with which the mutual hate of 
German and Italian was love and gentleness. Nowhere, in 
short, do we find any signs of that really national feeling 
which awoke in after-times the feeling with which stout Pope 
Julius longed for the expulsion of the Barbarians, or that which 
now unites all Italy from the Alps to the Pharos in loathing 
at the sway of Austria. The union of Germany and Italy 
under a single King, was in truth, something utterly hope- 
less; the attempt to bring about such an union brought 
much of lasting evil on both countries ; but openly to ac- 
knowledge that it was hopeless would have required a more 
long-sighted statesman than the twelfth century was likely 
to produce. We sympathize with the Italian opponents of 
Frederick, but we sympathize with them rather as the as- 
sertors of civic freedom against Imperial power than as the 
defenders of Italy against a foreign invader. Italy, in short, 
in the twelfth century was not an " oppressed nationality." 

It was therefore in support of claims consecrated by long and 
venerable traditions, of claims admitted in name by the whole 
nation and zealously supported by a powerful party, that 
Frederick waged his long warfare in Italy. We have en- 
deavoured to give some notion of the cause which he repre- 
sented ; we will now attempt to draw a picture of the man 
hirnsclf, and to give a slight sketch of his policy and actions 
as tar as concerns Italy. In so doing we shall endeavour, as 
far as possible, to draw our estimate of the man and his acts 
directly from contemporary sources. It is of course impos- 
sible but that remembrances of Gibbon, Sismondi, and Mil- 

* "Nun tit cognatus populus, 11011 ut domesticus inimicus, sed velul in 
extemos kostes, in alienigenas, tanta in sese iuvicem sui gentiles crudelitate 
sajviunt quanta nee in barbaros deceret." — Otto Fiis. lib. i. cap. 39. 


man should now and then influence us ; but we have certainly 
done our best to form our judgment from the evidence of 
men who were spectators, and sometimes actors, in the events. 
Most of the chronicles of this period are to be found in the 
sixth volume of the great collection of Muratori. Among 
these, the first place in rank belongs to no less a person than 
Frederick himself, who gives a summary of the early events 
of his reign in a letter to Otto, Bishop of Freisingen, prefixed 
to that prelate's history. The second place in dignity and the 
first in importance is undoubtedly due to Otto himself. This 
episcopal historian was himself of princely, even of Imperial 
descent ; he was the son of Leopold the Third, Margrave of 
Austria, by Agnes, daughter of the Emperor Henry the Fourth. 
But as this same Agnes, by her first marriage with Frederick 
the First, Duke of Swabia, was the mother of Duke Frederick 
the Second, the father of the Emperor Frederick, it follows that 
Bishop Otto was himself the uncle of the subject of his history. 
That history, as we have said, may be read in the sober text of 
Muratori ;* but we have chosen rather to study it in a noble 
old copy, dated Strassburg, 1515, ushered in with Imperial 
diplomas from King Maximilian, and adorned with abun- 
dance of Imperial eagles. Otto first wrote a general history 
of the world in seven books, ending with the election of his 
nephew Frederick, in 1152, followed by an eighth book, of a 
diviner sort, containing an account of what is to happen at 
the end of the world. Like all chronicles of the kind, it is 
valueless alike for prophecy and for early history, but it 
becomes useful as it draws near the writer's own time. He 
afterwards accompanied his Imperial nephew in his first 
[talian expedition, and wrote two books De Gestis Friderici 
J'rinii, which fill one of the highest places in the list of 
mediaeval writings. He, howevef, unluckily gets no further 
than the fourth year of his hero's reign; but his work is con- 
tinued in two books more by Radevie, a canon of his own 
church, down to 11<H>, the year in which Radevie wrote. 
I loth these authors, of course, write from the imperial side, 

* [It lias since a d in one "i the latest volumes of Pertz.] 


but both seem to write as fairly as one can expect, and they 
are especially valuable in quoting contemporary documents. 
Otto writes like a prince, admiring his nephew without wor- 
shipping him, and showing throughout the wide grasp of a 
statesman, and a most remarkable spirit of observation in 
every way. Radevic, as becomes his place, is not the rival, 
but, as far as in him lies, the careful imitator of the prelate 
who promoted him. Both of them were high-minded German 
churchmen, and we look on their witness on the Emperor's 
side with far less suspicion than on that of the Imperialist 
writer next in importance. This is Otto Morena of Lodi, an 
Italian lawyer, who filled some judicial office under Frederick 
and the two preceding Kings, Lothar and Conrad. We must 
remember that this was just the time when the study of the 
Civil Law was reviving ; and there can be no doubt that its 
study was of no small advantage to the Imperial cause. Fre- 
derick came into Italy with the sword of Germany in the one 
hand and the books of Justinian in the other. No doubt the 
jurisconsult of Lodi honestly saw in the Swabian King the 
true successor of Augustus and Constantine, the Caesar of 
whom it was written that quod Principi ylacuit, leg is habet 
vigorem* But no doubt this conviction produced in the 
mind of Otto the Judge an allegiance of a far more servile 
kind than the Teutonic loyalty of Otto the Bishop. We can 
fully understand the enthusiastic affection which every citizen 
of Lodi would feel for his royal patron and founder ; still we 
soon get wearied of the sanctissimus, the dulcissimus, the 
Christianissimus, and the whole string of superlatives which 
Otto delights to attach to every mention of the Imperial 
name. Otto's own chronicle goes down to 1162; both as 
judge and as annalist he was succeeded by his son Acerbus, 
an equally firm adherent to the Imperial cause, but who is 
somewhat less profuse in his adulation, and who does not 
scruple sometimes to pronounce censure on his master's 
actions. His attachment to Frederick himself never fails ; 
but he paints in strong colours the evil deeds of the Imperial 

* Inst. Just. lib. i. cap. ii. § 6. 


lieutenants during Frederick's absence,* and the little heed 
which the Emperor himself took to punish them.t The his- 
tory of Acerbus Morena ends with his own death, in 1167 ; 
the record of that event, and the character of the author, 
were doubtless added by another hand. 

These are the chief writers on the Imperial side. On the 
other side we have the too brief chronicle of the Milanese 
Sire Raul in the sixth volume of Muratori, and the life of 
Pope Alexander in the collection of the Cardinal of Aragon 
in the third. The sixth volume also contains a few smaller 
pieces on particular parts of the story ; one of which is 
Buoncompagni's Narrative of the Siege of Ancona, a most 
interesting piece of description, but to which, as it is not 
strictly contemporary, it strikes us that Sismondi has given 
more weight than it deserves as a historical document. We 
may remark generally, that the writers on the papal and 
republican side commonly speak of the Emperor with a 
strong feeling of respect. If we want good hearty abuse of 
Frederick Barbarossa, we must turn to the letters of our own 
Saint Thomas of Canterbury and his correspondents. The 
cause of the difference is obvious. To the French and Eng- 
lish partizans of Alexander, Frederick was a mere distant 
bugbear, a savage enemy of the Church, to be abhorred as 
much or more than any Sultan of Paynimrie. Those who 
saw him nearer, even as an enemy, understood him better. 
Those who fought against him knew that they were contend- 
ing with a noble and generous enemy, and with one who, 
after all, was their own acknowledged sovereign. Popes too 
always commanded, even from their own party, less of rever- 
ence in Italy than they did anywhere else ; the sacrilegious 
warfare of the Ghibelin, which seemed so monstrous on this 
side the Alps, assumed a dye far less deep in the eyes of 
those among and against whom it was actually waged. 

Frederick was elected King in 1152. He came to the 
crown by that mixture of descent and election which was so 
common in tin- early middle age, and which modern writers 

* Apud Muratori, 1 vi, col, 1127. f Apud Muratori, t. vi. col. 1131. 


so constantly misunderstand. Nearly every modern state has 
settled down into a hereditary monarchy, and has enacted for 
itself a strict law of succession, because it has been found 
that, whatever arguments may be brought against that form 
of government, it has at least the great practical advan- 
tage of hindering dissensions and civil wars. Those earlier 
times had no clear idea of strict hereditary right ; but the 
family feeling was intensely strong, and in those days the 
personal character of a King was everything. A King could 
not then be a mere constitutional puppet ; a great man was 
loved or he was feared — in either case he was obeved ; a 
small man, with equal legal authority, was despised, dis- 
obeyed, perhaps deposed or murdered. The ideal King 
needed two qualifications : he must be the descendant of 
former Kings, and he must be himself fit for the kingly 
office. Hence we constantly find a King succeeded, not by 
the person whom we should call his next heir, but by him 
who was deemed the worthiest of the royal house. Thus 
Conrad, by his last will, recommended, not his son, but his 
nephew Frederick, as his fittest successor in his kingdoms ; 
and the princes of those kingdoms confirmed his choice. 
Conrad's eldest son, who, according to a common practice, 
had been crowned in his lifetime as his successor, was dead ; 
his second son was too young : Germany had no desire for such 
another minority as that of Henry the Fourth ; Frederick was 
young, brave, vigorous ; he united the blood of the two great 
contending houses ; the son of a Ghibelin father and a Guelfic 
mother, he was the man of all others who might be expected 
to secure peace* at home and victory abroad. He was there- 
tore unanimously chosen King by the Assembly at Frankfurt, 
and he received the crown of the Teutonic Kingdom | at 
Aachen, the royal city of the Franks.:}: But besides Germany, 

* Otto Pris. ii. 2 : cf. Urspergensis in anno (p. 295), who plays on the 
Dame Friedrich = Facis Dives. 

t "Tost primam unctionem Aquisgrani et acceptam coronam Teutonici 
rcgni." — Ep. l'rid. ap, Otto n. Fris. 

X "lnsede regni Francorum, quae in eadem ecclesia a Carolo magno 
1 osita i st, collocatur." — Otto Fris. ii. 3. 


tlie newly-elected monarch had at least an inchoate right to 
the royal crowns of Burgundy and Italy and to the Imperial 
diadem of Borne. Of Burgundy we need say little more than 
that he visited the kingdom once or twice, that he secured 
his interest there by his marriage with the Burgundian 
princess Beatrice, and at last, rather late in his reign, in the 
year 1178, found leisure for a solemn coronation at Aries.* 

But our interest centres round him in his character of 
King of Italy and Emperor of the Romans. Otto of Frei- 
singen distinctly tells us that Italian barons took a part in 
Frederick's election at Frankfurt, f We know not who these 
Italian barons may have been, what was their number, or 
how far they were really entitled to speak in the name of the 
Italian kingdom. But whoever they were, whether many or 
few, whether they were summoned or came of their own 
accord, it is clear that their presence must have tended to 
give at least an outward appearance of right to the new 
King's claims over Italy, both in his own eyes and in those of 
others. As King-elect of Italy, his course was to hold an 
assembly of the Italian kingdom at Roncaglia, to receive at 
Milan the iron crown of the Lombard Kings, and thence to 
advance to Rome, and there receive the golden crown of the 
Roman Empire at the hands of the Roman Pontiff. This was 
the regular course for each newly-elected King ; in theory he 
went on a peaceful errand to his capital ; in practice he com- 
monly had to fight his way at every step. Two things always 
strike us in these Imperial progresses : no Emperor ever gets 
to Rome and leaves it again without meeting with more or 
less of resistance, and yet that resistance never assumes any 
organized national form. No man denies his claims ; a strong 
party zealously asserts them ; and yet no King is turned into 
an Emperor without bloodshed. The truth is that it was an 
utter unreality for a German sovereign of the twelfth century 

* "Anno Domini mclxxviii. iii. nonas Augusti Fridericus Primus Jmpe- 
rator coronatua I'uii spud Arelatem." — Vit. Alex. iii. ap. Muratori, torn, iii- 
p. 1 17. 

f "Noii sine quibusdam <\ Italia ba ibus." — Otto Fris. ii. 1. 


to attempt to unite Italy under his sceptre, yet no one fully 
understood that it was an unreality. The German King 
claimed only what his predecessors had always claimed ; half 
Italy was ready to receive him with open arms ; learned 
Doctors of the Civil Law told him that his Imperial rights 
were something all hut eternal ; — how were his eyes to be 
opened ? Rome herself lived upon memories of the past ; she 
fluctated between memories of the Republic and memories 
of the Empire. Sometimes she set up a Consul, a Senator, a 
Tribune ; sometimes she welcomed the German invader as 
the true Augustus Caesar. The whole atmosphere of the age 
seems saturated with this kind of unreality; it was unreal, 
but it was not knowingly put on ; people thoroughly believed 
in it, and therefore the unreality became real, and had most 
important practical results. We are half inclined to laugh 
when the German sovereign calls himself Romano-rum Impe- 
rator semper Augustus, — when the German historian stu- 
diously adopts Roman language, talks about Urbs and Orbis 
Romanus, and dates from the foundation of the city of 
Romulus. It is quite impossible to avoid laughing, even at 
the great Frederick, when he writes, or causes some eloquent 
bishop to write in his name, to tell the Saracen Sultan that 
he is speedily coming to avenge the defeat of Crassus, and 
once more to restore his Empire to its widest limits under 
Trajan.* It sounds strangest of all when the Romans them- 
selves send, first to Conrad and then to Frederick, asking 
him to come and live among them, and reign over them as 
a constitutional Emperor, the choice and the child of the 
Roman Senate and People.! This last was too much ; when 
it came to this, Frederick did find out that, if he was to reign 
at all, it could only be as a Teutonic conqueror. The suc- 
cessor of Charles and Otto was not prepared to be told that 

* See Frederick's letter to Saladin, in Roger of Howden, ii. 357, Stubbs ; 
Ralph of Diss, Decern Script. 6-iO. The copy in Roger of Wendover 
(vol. ii. p. 429, ed. Coxe) leaves out the flourishes about Crassus and 
Marcus Antonius. 

f See the letter to Conrad, Otto Fris., i. 28 ; the embassy to Frederick, 
ii. 21. 


he was a stranger whom Home had taken in ; and when Eome 
asked five thousand pounds of gold as the price of her recog- 
nition, Eome learned, in the triumphant words of Bishop Otto, 
that the Franks did not buy Empire with any metal but steel. 
All this was very absurd and very unreal ; that is, we at this 
distance of time see that it was so. But it is not very won- 
derful that the men of the time were less clearsighted, that 
old traditions and venerable names were too strong for them. 
The result is, that, in reading the history of the times, we 
can fully sympathize with both sides. Our first and most 
natural sympathy is with the heroes of Italian freedom, the 
defenders of Milan, the founders of Alessandria, the men who 
routed Frederick himself upon the glorious field of Legnano. 
But we should do very wrong if we looked upon Frederick as 
a cruel and unprovoked aggressor, or on his Italian partizans 
as traitors to their native land. Neither side has a monopoly 
of right or a monopoly of wrong. As no candid man can 
read our own history of the seventeenth century and not 
enter into the feelings alike of the best supporters of the 
King and of the best supporters of the Parliament, so, if we 
look upon Frederick and his enemies with the eyes of the 
twelfth and not with those of the nineteenth century, we 
shall find equal cause for admiration in the patriots of Lodi 
and in the patriots of Tortona, in the assertors of the venerable 
rights of the Boman Caesar and in the assertors of the new- 
born freedom of the Commonwealths of Lombardv. 


Frederick then came into Italy as a claimant of strictly 
legal rights, but of rights whicli we can now see to have been 
inconsistent with the circumstances of the time. The Impe- 
rii! I rights in Italy could be exercised only by fits and starts. 
IVederick came after one of the periods of intermission. 
I hiring the reigns of Lothar and Conrad the royal authority 
in Italy had fallen very low; Frederick came to raise it 
again, to claim and to win back every power which had been 
exercised by diaries and Otto and Henry the Third. But 
In- olid not come in exactly tin- same character as any of 
those great Emperors. They came at the prayer of Italy, as 


deliverers from utter anarchy, from the tyranny of cruel 
Kings, or from the abominations of rival and wicked Pontiffs. 
Frederick had no such advantage. During the practical 
interregnum which preceded his reign, a spirit had been at 
work, and a power had been growing up, in Italy against 
which earlier Emperors had not had to struggle. The 
freedom of the cities had made wonderful advances ; munici- 
palities were fast growing into sovereign commonwealths. 
With this spirit a King, anxious to assert his royal rights 
to the full, especially after a time of partial disuse, could 
not fail to come into conflict. Otto and Henry the Third 
came into Italy as champions of right against wrong ; they 
did not sin against a freedom which in their days was not 
yet in being ; Frederick unhappily was driven to appear, as 
no earlier Emperor had appeared, as the direct enemy of free- 
dom. The rights of the crown, as he understood them, and 
the rights of the republics, as the republics understood them, 
must have clashed sooner or later. The immediate occasion 
of his warfare with Milan is of comparatively little moment, 
because the immediate occasion, whatever it was, was not the 
real determining cause. In the narrative of Otto Morena the 
wrongs of Lodi hold the first place ; the holy and merciful 
King comes mainly to deliver Otto and his fellow-citizens 
from Milanese oppression.* The Milanese Raul seems hardly 
to think Lodi worth speaking of: the sagacious Frederick t 
wishes to bring Italy under his power ; Milan is at war with 
Pa via ; his sagacity leads him to take the side of Pavia as the 
weaker city. Frederick's own laureate tells us how, through 
the neglect of former Kings, the wicked had grown strong in 
Lombardy, and how the proud city of Saint Ambrose refused 
to pay tribute to Csesar.J The Prince-Bishop of Freisingen 

* Otto Mor. ap. Muratori, torn, vi., col. 957 et seqq. 
f "Rex Fedricus, homo industrius, sagacissinms, fortissimus." Ap. 
Mur., torn, vi., col. 1173. 

X " De tributo Crcsaris nemo cogitabat ; 

Omnes erant Cacsarcs, nemo censum dabat ; 
Civitas Ambrosii velut Troja stabat ; 
Deos parum, homines minus formidabat." 

Qedichti auf Konig Fried/rich, p. 65. 


sets forth a variety of motives as working on the mind of his 
Imperial nephew : the wrongs of Lodi are not forgotten, 
though they are less prominent in the pages of Otto the 
Bishop than in those of his namesake the Judge. The 
immediate occasion of the attack was almost accidental ; the 
Consuls of Milan wilfully led the King's army through a 
country where no provisions were to be had, and that at a 
time when the soldiers were generally out of humour at 
the bad weather.* Anyhow the war, which could not have 
been long put off, now began, — that great struggle which 
occupied thirty years out of the thirty-eight of the reign of 

We of course cannot pretend to give anything like a nar- 
rative of this long warfare. All that we can do is to comment 
on a few points which illustrate the character of Frederick and 
his cause. Primarily the war was a purely political one ; it 
was only by accident that it put on anything of a religious 
character. The struggle between Frederick and Alexander the 
Third is not exactly analogous to the struggle between Henry 
the Fourth and Hildebrand, or to that between Frederick the 
Second and a whole succession of Pontiffs. Pope and Caesar 
never could pull together, and Frederick, almost as a matter of 
course, had several matters of dispute with Pope Hadrian. One 
indeed concerned nothing less than the tenure of the Imperial 
crown. The controversy turned on a word. Hadrian spoke of 
the beneficium which he had conferred upon Frederick by 
officiating at his Eoman coronation.t Frederick, doubtless 
with a feudal lawyer at his elbow, asks if the word beneficium 
is meant to imply that the Emperor of Rome was a vassal of 
the Bishopof lioine. Hadrian disclaims any such intention; 
he held that he had done the Emperor a benefit, but he did 
iml pretend to have invested him with a benefice. It is not 
unl i koly that, if Hadrian had lived,a struggle of the Henry and 
Hildebrandtypemighl havearisenbetweenhim and Frederick. 
A- it was the strife was of another kind. Henry and Frederick 
the Second were, as far as Popes were concerned, open foes 
of the ChTirch; Frederick the Second certainly was more 
Otto Fris., ii. 13. 1 Rad. Kris., iii. 15 el seqq. 


sinned against than sinning ; still, he was condemned, deposed, 
excommunicated, by Pontiffs and Councils whose authority 
Mas not disputed. Henry the Fourth indeed disputed the rights 
of Hildebrand and set up a Pope of his own ; but he did not 
do so till his crimes had brought down upon him the wrath 
of the hitherto undisputed Pontiff. Indeed, Henry did not 
enthrone his Anti-Pope in Rome till Gregory had set up an 
Anti-Csesar in Germany. The case of Frederick Barbarossa 
was quite different ; he was not the foe of the Church, but 
merely of that party in the Church which triumphed in the 
end. The Roman See was the subject of a disputed election : 
the accounts of that election are so utterly contradictory that 
it seems quite impossible to adopt either statement without 
imputing (what one is always loth to do) direct falsehood to 
the other party. Frederick had to choose between the rival 
Pontiffs, and he doubtless chose the one whose disposition best 
suited his policy. Roland, otherwise Alexander the Third, had 
already shown himself a strong assertor of hierarchical claims ; 
Octavian, otherwise Victor, was more disposed — at all events 
while his party was the weaker — to yield to the successor of 
Constautine and Justinian that loyal submission which Con- 
stantine and Justinian * had most certainly exacted from his 
predecessors. The cause of Alexander naturally triumphed ; a 
Pope reigning under Imperial protection was no Pope at all ; 
Frederick's very support of Victor drove strict churchmen to 
the side of Alexander. Again, the mere fact of Alexander's 
long reign, which allowed the Papal power to be wielded for 
many successive years by the same hand, greatly contributed 
to his strength and dignity, as contrasted with the quick suc- 
cession of the Imperialist Antipopes. Above all, Alexander, 
the spiritual enemy of Frederick, found it politic to coalesce 
with his temporal enemies ; and the combined strength of the 
Church and the republics proved in the end too much for the 
arms of Caesar. Frederick was at last driven to seek absolu- 
tion from the Pope, and to acknowledge the liberties of the 

* Pope Hadrian was unlucky in quoting Justinian as the type of 
Imperial reverence for the Papacy. — Pad. Fris., iii. 1".. 


cities. As Alexander was thus in the end triumphant, the 
Church has branded Victor, his successors and his adherents, 
with the charge of schism ; and Frederick, in the invectives of 
churchmen in other lands, appears in the odious character of 
a persecutor. Still one might think that to choose the wrong 
Pope in a warmly-disputed and very doubtful case was at 
worst a venial sin : it does not appear that Frederick sinned 
against any acknowledged principle of the religion of his 
age ; his warfare was not against the Popedom, but against a 
particular Pope, whom he denounced, and whom he may well 
have sincerely looked on, as an usurper of the Holy See. 
. Our estimate of Frederick's personal character will be 
mainly determined by the estimate which we may form of 
his conduct during this long war. Assuming its justice from 
his own point of view, we can hardly fail to honour his un- 
tiring devotion to the cause which he had taken in hand. It 
is of course easy to say that that cause was simply his own 
exaltation. It would of course be easy to draw a touching 
picture of all the miseries of war, — of slaughter and plunder 
and devastation, of stately cities levelled with the ground, of 
men, women, and children driven from their native homes, 
merely that one man might enjoy the delight of exercising 
increased power, or that he might gratify the more childish 
desire for an useless bauble and an empty title. Nothing would 
be easier than to accumulate charges of cruelty, obstinacy, and 
disregard of human suffering, against a sovereign who spent 
nearly his whole reign in warring against his own subjects. 
Talk of this sort is extremely easy, but we believe that it 
would give a very false view of the case. No one, we think, 
can go through the history of the time without clearly seeing 
that Frederick was not actuated by any low personal ambi- 
tion, but that he felt himself to have a mission, to which he 
zealously and sincerely devoted himself. To him the rights 
of the Roman Empire were a sacred cause, in whose behalf he 
was ready to spend and to be spent. He was doubtless stirred 
up by as clea c a sense of duty to assert his Imperial claims as 
any Milanese patriol was stirred up to withstand them. Of 


course, in fighting for the rights of the Empire, he was also 
fighting for his own greatness and glory. And what man is 
there who can quite separate himself from his cause ? Heroes, 
patriots, martyrs at the stake, do and suffer for a cause which 
they hold to be righteous ; but it is utterly impossible that 
they can wholly forget that the triumph of their cause brings 
success and power to themselves, and that, even in defeat and 
martyrdom, they win the fame and sympathy of mankind. 
Take the very purest of men, heroes whom no temptation of 
rank or wealth or power could ever corrupt for a moment, — 
Timoleon, Washington, or Garibaldi, — even they, we cannot 
but believe, must feel a greater excitement in the path of 
duty from the thought that they are winning for themselves 
the present love and gratitude of their fellow-citizens, and 
everlasting glory in the pages of history. That Frederick 
therefore was fighting in the cause of his own greatness 
really proves nothing against him. His purpose was no petty, 
passionate, momentary, ambition, such as has too often in- 
fluenced the policy of rulers in all ages. We see in him a 
steady untiring devotion to a cause which, in his eyes, was 
the cause of right. That we do not sympathize with his 
cause proves nothing. Let us compare him with a prince in 
almost every thing his inferior, but in whom we see a similar un- 
bending devotion to a cause conscientiously taken up. What- 
ever we think of Charles the First in his days of power, his 
violations of law, his breaches of solemn contracts, it is im- 
possible not to respect the thorough conviction of right which 
bears him up through the more honourable days of his ad- 
versity. When he writes to Rupert that to a soldier or 
statesmen his cause must seem hopeless, but that, looking on 
it as a Christian, he knows that God will not suffer rebels to 
prosper nor his cause to be overthrown, it is impossible not 
to feel that, despot as he was, he was something very different 
from the vulgar run of despots. And if we feel this respect 
for Charles, much more may we feel it for Frederick, whose 
character rises far above that of Charles in those points where 
Charles, oven from a royalist point of view, decidedly fails. 



Charles, notwithstanding his real devotion to a cause, exhibits 
a strange mixture of irresolution and obstinacy. Frederick 
was rationally firm ; he was unyielding as long as there was 
a reasonable hope of winning his ends, but his firmness never 
degenerated into blind obstinacy. Again, Charles was one 
whom no man could really trust ; Frederick was, above all 
princes of the twelfth century, a man of his word. 

We have claimed honour for Frederick on the ground of 
his zealous and unbending devotion to a cause which he 
honestly adopted as the cause of right. This however is 
a doctrine which must not be pressed too far. It is im- 
possible to doubt that Philip the Second was zealously and 
conscientiously devoted to the cause of the Church and the 
monarchy. The question in all such cases is, By what means 
is the end sought for ? We do not blame Philip merely for 
coercing those whom he looked upon as rebels and heretics ; 
to expect him to do otherwise would be simply to expect him 
to be gifted with a discernment given in its fulness to no 
European of that age save his Batavian rival. What we do 
blame him for is the baseness, perfidy, and wanton cruelty 
of the means by which he sought to compass his end. In 
Frederick Barbarossa we find nothing of the kind. According 
to the standard of his own age, Frederick certainly appears 
chargeable with neither cruelty nor perfidy. We must re- 
member what that age was, though we really think that the 
twelfth century need not shrink from a comparison with many 
later ages. War was in the twelfth century undertaken on 
very light grounds, and it was carried on with very great 
cruelty. But it certainly was not undertaken on lighter 
grounds, or carried on with greater cruelty, than it was in the 
fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. The horrors 
of Burgumliaii and Armagnac warfare, of the Italian wars of 
the age of the Renaissance, of the Spanish rule in the Nether- 
lands, of the Thirty Years' War, equal anything in the very 
darkest times, and they certainly far exceed anything that can 
be laid to tin; charge of Frederick the First. Frederick had 
no guilt upon his son] like the sack of Rome or the sack of 


Magdeburg ; he never, like Charles the Bold,* rode with 
delight through a town heaped with corpses, congratulating 
himself on his "good butchers." He did not drown his 
captives like Philip Augustus, starve them to death like John 
of England, or flay them alive like his own accomplished 
grandson.f Charles the Great beheaded four thousand Saxons 
in cold blood ; Richard Coeur-de-Lion massacred his Saracen 
prisoners wholesale; the Black Prince looked on unmoved 
from his sick litter while men, women, and children were 
murdered in the streets of Limoges. No such scenes marked 
the entry of the triumphant Csesar into vanquished Milan or 
Tortona. Stern, even cruel, as he seems to us, yet, when we 
compare Frederick with his predecessors, contemporaries, and 
successors, we see that there is a meaning even in the clemen- 
tissinins and duleissimus of Otto Morena. As long as opposi- 
tion lasted, Frederick did not shrink from carrying out to the 
utmost the cruel laws of war J of that stern age. He did not 
scruple to cut off the hands of those who tried to bring in 
provisions to a beleaguered town. He tied his hostages to 
his engines, that they might perish by the darts of their 
friends, or rather that their danger might move their friends 
to submission. When submission came, the injured majesty 
of Augustus required hard conditions of peace ; but, such as 
they were, they were always honourably kept, and they at least 
never involved hurt to life or limb. It was a hard sentence 
for the inhabitants of a whole city to march forth with their 
lives alone, or with so much of their worldly goods as they 
could carry on their shoulders ;§ but such a doom was mercy 
compared with the lot of those who fell into the jaws of 
< 'harlcs of Burgundy, of Alva, or of Tilly. Milan was 
levelled with the ground, doubtless as a high symbolic act 
of justice, ;i w;iniing against all who should resist the might 

* Barante, Dues dc Bourgogne, vol. x. p. 6. 

f "Quoseunque in castellis suis ex adversariis cepit, aut vivos exeoriavit 
ant patibulo suspendit." Ron. Wend., iv. 209, ed. Coxe. 
% " I'tar ergo deinceps belli legibus." Rad. Fris., iv. 50. 
§ Otto Fris , ii. 20; Rad., iv. 56; Otto Morena, col. 981. 

T 2 


of the Lord of Germany and of Home. But the vengeance 
of Frederick was exercised wholly upon dead walls ; it was 
another matter when restored Milan fell, three centuries and 
a half later, into the hands of the Csesar of a more civilized, 
at all events of a more polished, time. No doubt the wars 
and sieges of Frederick caused much human misery ; vast, 
and doubtless not very well disciplined, armies, living at free 
quarters,* must have been a constant scourge to the country : 
but all this is common to Frederick with countless other 
warlike princes ; what is specially his own is his constant 
moderation in victory. This alone would show that his 
wars were not wars of passion or caprice, but were waged in 
a cause which to him seemed a high and holy one. And 
again, in an age not so much of deliberate bad faith as of 
utter recklessness as to promises, an age when oaths were 
lightly taken and lightly broken, Frederick's all but inva- 
riable adherence to his word stands out conspicuously and 
honourably. Once, and onjy once, he failed. He stooped to 
attack Alessandria during a time of truce, f and he was de- 
servedly driven back and obliged to raise the siege. This is a 
deep stain upon Frederick's otherwise straightforward and up- 
right character. It is utterly unlike any other of his recorded 
actions. We may therefore at least believe that it was not a 
case of premeditated perfidy ; we may trust that he concluded 
the truce in perfect good faith, but that he was afterwards 
tempted into a breach of faith by the sight of a favourable 
opportunity for attack before the days of truce were expired. 
But, after all, the most truly honourable scene in the life 
of this great Emperor is that which followed his final defeat. 
Alter the Battle of Legnano in 117(5, it was plain that he 
had no longer any hope of conquering the Lombard cities. 
He sought for peace : the negotiations were slow, but at last 
the Peace of Constant was agreed upon, and became a law 

* The panegyrist of A.cerbus Morena (col. 1153) mentions it as hia 
ipecial and wonderful merit, thai he abstained from plunder himself, and 
<liil all he could to hinder it in others. 

t Vit. Alex. 1 1 1., ap. Muratori, t. iii. \>. 464. 


of the Empire. By this document the Imperial rights over 
the commonwealths were confined within certain moderate 
bounds. To Frederick's eternal honour, when he had given 
his people a constitution, he kept it. He did not act like 
German and Italian Kings ten years ago. After the treaty 
was once concluded, Frederick honestly threw himself into 
the altered state of things. He did not even sullenly with- 
draw himself from Italy altogether. In that very Milan 
whose citizens had broken his power, the city whose very 
existence showed how vain had been the schemes of his life, 
the King of Italy came and dwelt as an honoured guest, and, 
with perhaps too much regard for his new allies, he allowed 
the banner of the Empire to be displayed in local warfare 
against the enemies of Milan. Doubtless it was now Frede- 
rick's policy to preserve the peace of Italy, as his great object 
now was to obtain the Sicilian Kingdom for his son.* Still 
there have been few monarchs who could have so thoroughly 
adapted themselves to their altered fate, or who would have 
so scrupulously adhered to their faith when it was once 
plighted. We know few things in history more touching, 
more honourable to all concerned, than the last years of the 
Italian reign of Frederick. At last the hero went forth in 
his later years, as he had gone in his youth, on a yet higher 
errand than to maintain the rights of the Eoman Empire. 
The temporal chief of Christendom, the highest and the 
worthiest of Western Kings, went forth once more to do battle 
for the sepulchre of Christ. We may be sure that no man 
ever put the cross upon his shoulder with a higher and a purer 
heart. Well had it been if he had reached the goal of his 
pilgrimage, and had given the crusading host a worthy leader. 
But he died before he could again reach the Syrian border, 
bequeathing the destinies of Germany, Italy, and Sicily to 
the hands of his unworthy son, and leaving the championship 
of Christendom against the Moslem to the faithless Philip of 
Paris and the brutal Richard of Poitou. 

* It must be remembered that the Kingdom of Sicily and Duchy ol 
Apulia did not — de facto, at least — form any part of the Kingdom of Italy, 
though the Emperors seem always, naturally enough, to have looked on 
the Norman Bongs as interlopers. 


The more private and personal character of Frederick comes 
to us only in the language of panegyric. We have his por- 
trait as drawn l»oth by a German and by an Italian admirer.* 
After making all needful deductions, it is easy to see in him a 
high and pleasing type of the pure Teutonic character. He 
was a man of moderate stature, bright open countenance, fair 
skin, yellow hair,f and, as his nickname % implies, reddish 
beard. He was a kind friend and a placable enemy ; he 
loved war but only as a means to peace ; so at least the Canon 
of Freisingen assures us.§ He was bountiful in almsgiving, 
and attentive to his religious duties. As to his domestic life, 
we know that his first wife Adelaide was divorced ; the fact 
is recorded, but we are told little of the circumstances. || His 
second wife Beatrice is described by his panegyrists as equally 
admirable with her husband.1l The amount of his literary 
accomplishments seems doubtful. One passage in Kadevic 
might almost imply that he could not read; ** but it may 
merely mean that he was not an accomplished scholar like 
his grandson. The same writer tells us of his study of the 
Scriptures and of ancient histories, which of course may 
merely mean that they were read to him, but it is more 

* Rad. Fris., iv. 80. Otto Morena, col. 1115. 

f " Flava cassaries, paullulum a vertice frontis orispata. Aures vix 
superjacentibus crinibus operiuntur ; tonsore, pro reverentid Imperii, pilos 
capitis et genaruin assidua succisione curtante." Rad. loc. cit. 

J We have not come across the familiar name Barbarossa in the con- 
temporary writers. Probably, like many other royal nicknames, it was in 
popular use during the owner's lifetime, but did not find its way into 
written history till later. 

§ " Bellorum ainator, Bed ut per ea pax acquiratur." Rad. loc. cit. 

|| Otto of Saint Blaise (Mur., vi. 869) says it was "causa fornicationis ;" 
Ottool Freisingen says, " ob vincula consanguinitatis." In this Muratori (ad 
Otto Mor., col. 1033) sees a contradiction, which we do not. Adultery was 
no Legal -round of divorce ; but a husband's eyes would become very much 
more sharp-sighted to the consanguinity of a faithless wife. Muratori also 
argues thai a certain Diethoof Raven sburg, who married her, would not 
married a divorced adulteress. Yet Henry the Second of England did. 

^f Acerbus Morena, col, 1117. 

•• "Qui literas non a6i Read Fris., iv. 6. By the way, Acerbus 

ia (ool. L102) dictated his history. Could not a Judge ("curisB 
1 1 1 1 1 I"- ."' col, I L53) • rite f 


naturally understood of his reading them himself. Kadevie 
speaks of him also as eloquent in his own tongue, and as 
having reached the same measure of Latin learning which 
Charles the Great reached in Greek. He understood the 
Latin tongue when spoken ; he could not speak it fluently 
himself. Altogether, we do not see in Frederick Barbarossa 
one of those mighty original geniuses who change the world's 
destiny, like Alexander or Charles, or who vainly struggle 
against the age in which they are cast, like Hannibal or 
Frederick the Second. He is a man of his own age : he 
adopts the feelings and opinions of his own age without 
inquiry ; he throws himself, without hesitation, into all the 
traditions and prejudices of his own position; in short, he 
never rises above the received policy and morality of his own 
day, but he carries out that policy and morality in its best 
and most honourable form. It is not needful to compare him 
either with the superhuman virtue of Saint Lewis or with the 
superhuman wickedness of John Lackland ; compare him with 
his great contemporary, our own Angevin master, Henry. 
Henry was evidently a man of far greater original genius, of 
a far more creative mind, than Frederick was ; but he utterly 
lacks Frederick's honest good faith and steady adherence to 
what, in his eyes, was the path of duty. In Henry too there 
was an element of brutality, a trace of the daemon line from 
which he was said to spring, of which we see nothing in 
Frederick in his sternest moods. A far nearer likeness, much 
as either party would have been amazed at it, may be seen 
between the Swabian Ca?sar and the great contemporary 
English churchman. Frederick of Hohenstaufen and Thomas 
of Canterbury were alike men of high and noble character, 
devoting themselves to objects which, in the judgement of 
their own time, were righteous. We can have no sympathy 
either with the exemption of the clergy from temporal juris- 
diction or with the subjugation of Italy by a German monarch. 
We can rejoice that both Frederick and Thomas failed in the 
Ions: run, but we can honour the men themselves all the same. 
Frederick had the great advantage of finding himself in a 


position which allowed all his qualities their free, full, and 
natural developement. The lot of Thomas constrained him 
to a course, sincere indeed, but still unnatural and artificial. 
Frederick would have made but a strange saint and martyr ; 
but had Thomas been born of Frederick's princely ancestry, 
he might have shone on the Imperial throne with a glory 
equal to that of Frederick himself. 

How far the reign of Frederick worked in the long run for 
the good or for the ill of Italy may well be doubted. A long 
and at last victorious struggle against such an adversary of 
course raised the spirit and confidence of the republics, and 
thus contributed to the freedom and glory of the great age of 
mediaeval Italy. But the very same cause doubtless made 
Italian unity further off than ever. To be a citizen of Milan 
or Crema or Tortona was to bear so glorious a name that 
men cared not to sink it in the vaguer and less glorious 
name of Italians. The war with Frederick gave Italy, as 
Sismondi says, the opportunity, which she failed to grasp, of 
forming herself into a powerful and permanent Confederation. 
Achaia, Switzerland, Holland, and America, formed them- 
selves under similar circumstances into great and lasting 
Federal republics ; the Lombard cities had no thought of any 
union closer than that of strict offensive and defensive alli- 
ance. Doubtless the constitutional theory, admitted by Guelf 
no less than (ihibeline, that the republics were munici- 
palities holding of the King of Italy must have stood in the 
way of any closer union. The same cause may have hindered 
even Switzerland from assuming the perfect Federal form 
till our own day. The Kingdom died out, and the cities 
remained, not cantons of a strong Italian League, but sove- 
reign states, weak against any powerful foreign invader. In 
the next century Italy had another chance of union in quite 
another form. The process which we see going on under our 
own eyes might have happened from the opposite quarter, 
and Italy might have tunned a great and united monarchy 
under tin; sceptre of tin- Sicilian Manfred. Such a fate would 
have shorn Florence and ( ienoa and Venice of some brilliant 


centuries ; but it would have saved Milan from the rule of the 
Visconti and Rome from the rule of Borgia, and it might 
have saved the whole peninsula from the yoke of Spaniard, 
Austrian, and Frenchman. 

To return, in conclusion, to the position from which we 
started : what conceivable analogy is there between a King of 
Italy and Emperor of the Eomans, reigning by acknowledged 
legal right, in whose election Italian barons had at least a 
formal share, and who received the crown of Rome from 
Rome's own Pontiff, a King whose right no Italian denied, 
and in whose cause many Italians zealously fought, and the 
lord of a strange disunited collection of kingdoms, who un- 
happily possesses a corner of Italian soil, and who till lately 
exercised an illegitimate influence over Italy in general ? It 
is hard to see why the Archduke of Austria calls himself 
Emperor, without election or coronation ; it is hard to see 
what is meant by an " Emperor of Austria " any more than 
by an Emperor of Reuss-Schleiz ; it is hard to see how a 
prince the greater part of whose dominions lie out of Ger- 
many can give himself out as the representative of the old 
German Kings ; but it is harder still to see the likeness 
between the foreign prince who does not even claim the 
Italian Kingdom, who by mere brute violence holds an Ita- 
lian province without a single Italian partizan, and the clul- 
cissimus hwperator who commanded the loyal devotion of 
Pavia and Lodi and Cremona. One of the very strangest 
notions is that " Austria " is an ancient, venerable, conserva- 
tive power. History pronounces it to be modern, upstart, 
and revolutionary, a power which has risen to a guilty great- 
ness by trampling on every historic right and every national 
memory. The so called "Empire" of Austria — a lover of 
old German history almost shrinks from writing the hateful 
title — is a mere creation of yesterday, a mere collection of 
plunder from various quarters. Hungary and P>ohemia were 
once elective kingdoms; Gallicia was rent from unhappy 
Poland by the basest of treachery and ingratitude ; Venice 
and Kagusa were independent commonwealths within the 


memory of man ; the liberties of Cracow have been trampled 
to the earth before our own eyes. What has such a power as 
this in common with the old days of great and united Germany ? 
What is its " Imperial " master but a mere impostor, a bas- 
tard Caesar, a profane mockery of the glories of Charles and 
Otto and Henry and Frederick ? German as well as Italian 
patriotism ought to shrink from the miserable sham. If 
the Imperial title — now become the prize of perjury and 
massacre — has not sunk too low to be borne by the chief of 
a free people, the true Csesar Augustus will be he whom we 
trust soon to see enthroned in the old capital of Italy and 
the world. And if the chosen King of liberated Italy can 
recover either the iron crown of Monza or the golden crown 
of Home, not the least ennobling association of these venerable 
relics will be that they have pressed the noble brow of King- 
Frederick of Hohenstaufen.* 

* [How all that called forth my protest of ten years back has utterly 
changed every reader can see for himself. The cession of two or three 
small districts is all that is needed to make the Italian Kingdom complete. 
The King of Hungary — to give him his highest lawful title — has now a 
noble future before him. Let his small Italian possessions revert to Italy, 
let Austria and his other German possessions revert to their natural 
position as parts of the new German Empire, and let, Hungary stand 
forth as the centre and head of the scattered and distracted nations of 
Eastern Christendom. The Hungarian King is their natural champion 
alike against their Turkish tyrant and their insidious Russian deliverer. 
Union with a Kingdom which already contains so many inhabitants of 
their own speech would be a far better fate for the troubled Roiunan pro- 
vinces than incorporation with either Russia or Turkey, or than an inde- 
pendence for which they are clearly unfit. Races, creeds, tongues, are so 
mingled together in those regions that a strictly national state of any 
size cannot be formed. But Magyars, Slaves, Roumans, Bulgarians, even 
Traussilvanian Saxons, so far cut off from the Teutonic body, might all find 
their places in a great Federal Union of the Lower Danube. Buda was 
once the seat of a Turkish Pasha no less than Belgrade. Hungary, freed from 
foreign foes, and having changed her Tyrant into her King, is marked out 
as the state charged with the mission of restoring freedom and civilization 
among all the neighbouring lands.] 

( 283 ) 



1. Historia Diplomatica Friderici Secundi, etc. Collegit, 

etc., J. L. A. Huillaud-Beeholles, auspieiis et sunip- 
tibus H. de Albektis de Luynes. Preface et Intro- 
duction. Paris : H. Plon, 1859. 

2. History of Frederick the Second, Emperor of the Romans. 

By T. L. Kington [Oi.iphant], M.A. Cambridge and 

London : Macinillan, 1862. 
o. Vie et Correspondance de Pierre de la Vigne, Ministre de 

VEmpereur Frederic II, etc. Par A. Hutllard-Be£- 

holles. Paris : H. Plon, 1866. 
Stupor mundi Fredericus — Frederick the Wonder of the 
World — is the name by which the English historian Matthew 
Paris more than once speaks of the Emperor who drew on 
him the eyes of all men during the greater part of the former 
half of the thirteenth century, and whose name has ever since 
lived in history as that of the most wonderful man in a 
most wonderful age. We do not say the greatest, still less 
the best, man of his time, but, as Matthew Paris calls him, 
the most wonderful man; the man whose character and actions 
shone out most distinctively, the man whose personality was 
most marked ; the man, in short, who was in all things the 
most unlike to all the other men who were about him. It is 
probable that there never lived a human being endowed with 
greater natural gifts, or whose natural gifts were, according 
to the means afforded him by his age, more sedulously culti- 
vated, than the last Emperoi of the House of Swabia. There 
seems to be no aspect of human nature which was not deve- 
loped to the highest degree in his person. In versatility of 


gifts, in what we may call manysidedness of character, he 
appears as a sort of mediaeval Alkibiades, while he was 
undoubtedly far removed from Alkibiades' utter lack of prin- 
ciple or steadiness of any kind. Warrior, statesman, lawgiver, 
scholar, there was nothing in the compass of the political or 
intellectual world of his age which he failed to grasp. In an 
age of change, when, in every corner of Europe and civilized 
Asia, old kingdoms, nations, systems, were falling and new 
ones rising, Frederick was emphatically the man of change, 
the author of things new and unheard of — he was stupor 
mundi et immutator mirahilis. A suspected heretic, a sus- 
pected Mahometan, he was the object of all kinds of absurd 
and self-contradictory charges; but the charges mark real 
features in the character of the man. He was something 
unlike any other Emperor or any other man ; whatever pro- 
fessions of orthodoxy he might make, men felt instinctively 
that his belief and his practice were not the same as the 
belief and the practice of other Christian men. There 
can be no doubt that he had wholly freed his mind from the 
trammels of his own time, and that he had theories and 
designs which, to most of his contemporaries, would have 
seemed monstrous, unintelligible, impossible. Frederick in 
short was, in some obvious respects, a man of the same stamp 
as those who influence their own age and the ages which come 
after them, the men who, if their lot is cast in one walk, 
found sects, and if it is cast in another, foimd empires. Of 
all men, Frederick the Second might have been expected to 
be the founder of something, the beginning of some new sera, 
political or intellectual. He was a man to whom some great 
institution might well have looked back as its creator, to 
\\ horn some large body of men, some sect or party or nation, 
might well have looked back as their prophet or founder or 
deliverer. But the most gifted of the sons of men has left 
behind him no such memory, while men whose gifts cannot 
bear a comparison with his are reverenced as founders by 
grateful nations, churches, political and philosophical parties. 
Frederick in fad founded nothing, and he sowed the seeds of 


the destruction of many things. His great charters to the 
spiritual and. temporal princes of Germany dealt the death- 
blow to the Imperial power, while he, to say the least, looked 
coldly on the rising power of the cities and on those com- 
mercial Leagues which were in his time the best element 
of German political life. In fact, in whatever aspect we look 
at Frederick the Second, we find him, not the first, but the 
last, of every series to which he belongs. An English 
writer, two hundred years after his time, had the penetration 
to see that he was really the last Emperor.* He was the 
last prince in whose style the Imperial titles do not seem a 
mockery ; he was the last under whose rule the three Impe- 
rial kingdoms retained any practical connexion with one 
another and with the ancient capital of all. Frederick, who 
sent his trophies to Rome to be guarded by his own subjects 
in his own citv, was a Roman Caesar in a sense in which no 
other Emperor was after him. And he was not only the last 
Emperor of the whole Empire ; he might almost be called 
the last King of its several Kingdoms. After his time Bur- 
gundy vanishes as a kingdom ; there is hardly an event to 
remind us of its existence except the fancy of Charles the 
Fourth, of all possible Emperors, to go and take the Bur- 
gundian crown at Aries. Italy too, after Frederick, vanishes 
as a kingdom ; any later exercise of the royal authority in 
Italy was something which came and went wholly by fits and 
starts. Later Emperors were crowned at Milan, but none 
after Frederick was King of Italy in the same real and 
effective sense that he was. Germany did not utterly vanish, 
or utterly split in pieces, like the sister kingdoms ; but after 
Frederick came the Great Interregnum, and after the Great 
Interregnum the royal power in Germany never was what it 
had been before. In his hereditary Kingdom of Sicily he 
was not absolutely the last of his dynasty, for his son Man- 
fred ruled prosperously and gloriously for some years after his 

* Capgrave in his Chronicle, dates by Emperors down to Frederick, and 
then adds: "Fro this tymo forward oure annotacioo schal be aftir the 
regne of tlie Kyngis of Ynglond ; for the Empire, in maner, sesed here." 


death. But it is none the less clear that from Frederick's 
time the Sicilian Kingdom was doomed ; it was marked out to 
be, what it has been ever since, divided, reunited, divided 
again, tossed to and fro between one foreign sovereign and 
another. Still more conspicuously than all was Frederick the 
last Christian King of Jerusalem, the last baptized man who 
really ruled the Holy Land or wore a crown in the Holy City. 
And yet, strangely enough, it was at Jerusalem, if anywhere, 
that Frederick might claim in some measure the honours 
of a founder. If he was the last more than nominal King 
of Jerusalem, he was also, after a considerable interval, the 
first ; he recovered the kingdom by his own address, and, if 
he lost it, its loss was, of all the misfortunes of his reign, that 
which could be with the least justice attributed to him as 
a fault. In the world of elegant letters Frederick has 
some claim to be looked on as the founder of that modern 
Italian language and literature which first assumed a distinc- 
tive shape at his Sicilian court. But in the wider field of 
political history Frederick appears nowhere as a creator, but 
rather everywhere as an involuntary destroyer. He is in 
everything the last of his own class, and he is not the last in 
the same sense as princes who perish along with their realms 
in domestic revolutions or on the field of battle. If we call 
hi in the last Emperor of the West, it is in quite another 
sense from that in which Constantine Palaiologos was the 
last Emperor of the East. Under Frederick the Empire and 
everything connected with it seems to crumble and decay 
while preserving its external splendour. Assoonas its brilliant 
possessor is gone, it at once falls asunder. It is a significant 
fact that one who in mere genius, in mere accomplishments, 
was surely the greatest prince who ever wore ;i crown, -a 
prince who held the greatest place on earth, and who was con- 
cerned during a long reign in some of the greatest transac- 
tions of one of the greatest ages, seems never, even from his 
own flatterers, to have received that title of Great which has 
been bo lavishly bestowed on far smaller men. The worldin- 
Btinctively fell t hut Frederick, by nature the more than peer of 


Alexander, of Constantine, and of Charles, had left behind 
him no such creation as they left, and had not influenced the 
world as they had influenced it. He was stti/por mundi et 
immutator mirdbilis, but the name of Fridericus Magnus was 
kept in store for a prince of quite another age and house, 
who, whatever else we say of him, at least showed that he 
had learned the art of Themistokles, and knew how to change 
a small state into a great one. 

Many causes combined to produce this singular result, that 
a man of the extraordinary genius of Frederick, a man pos- 
sessed of every advantage of birth, office, and opportunity, 
should have had so little direct effect upon the world. It is 
not enough to attribute his failure to the many and great 
faults of his moral character. Doubtless they were one cause 
among others. But a man who influences future ages is not 
necessarily a good man. No man ever had a more direct in- 
fluence on the future history of the world than Lucius Cor- 
nelius Sulla. The man who crushed Rome's last rival, who 
saved Rome in her last hour of peril, who made her indisput- 
ably and for ever the head of Italy, did a work greater than 
the work of Caesar. Yet the name of Sulla is one at which 
we almost instinctively shudder. So the faults and crimes 
of Frederick, his irreligion, his private licentiousness, his bar- 
barous cruelty, would not of themselves be enough to hinder 
him from leaving his stamp upon his age in the way that other 
ages have been marked by the influence of men certainly not 
worse than he. Still, to exercise any great and lasting influ- 
ence on the world, a man must be, if not virtuous, at least 
capable of objects and efforts which have something in 
common with virtue. Sulla stuck at no crime which could 
serve his country or his party, but it was for his country and 
his party, not for purely selfish ends, that he laboured and 
that lie sinned. Thorough devotion to any cause has in it 
something of self-sacrifice, something which, if not purely 
virtuous, is not without an element akin to virtue. Very bad 
men have achieved very great works, but they have com- 
monly achieved them through those features in their character 


which made the nearest approach to goodness. The weak 
side in the brilliant career of Frederick is one which seems 
to have been partly inherent in his character, and partly the 
result of the circumstances in which he found himself. 
Capable of every part, and in fact playing every part by 
turns, he had no single definite object, pursued honestly and 
steadfastly throughout his whole life. With all his powers, 
with all his brilliancy, his course throughout life seems to 
have been in a manner determined for him by others. He 
was ever drifting into wars, into schemes of policy, which 
seem to be hardly ever of his own choosing. He was the 
mightiest and most dangerous adversary that the Papacy 
ever had. But he does not seem to have withstood the 
Papacy from any personal choice, or as the voluntary cham- 
pion of any opposing principle. He became the enemy of 
the Papacy, he planned schemes which involved the utter 
overthrow of the Papacy, yet he did so simply because he 
found that no Pope would ever let him alone. It was per- 
haps an unerring instinct which hindered any Pope from 
ever letting him alone. Frederick, left alone to act accord- 
ing to his own schemes and inclinations, might very likely 
have done the Papacy more real mischief than he did when 
he was stirred up to open enmity. Still, as a matter of fact, 
his quarrels with the Popes were not of his own seeking ; a 
sort of inevitable destiny led him into them, whether he 
wished for them or not. Again, the most really successful 
feature in Frederick's career, his acquisition of Jerusalem, is 
not only a mere episode in his life, but it is something that 
was absolutely forced upon him against his will. The most 
successful of Crusaders since Godfrey is the most utterly 
unlike any other Crusader. With other Crusaders the Holy 
War was, in some cases the main business of their lives ; in 
all cases it was something seriously undertaken as a matter 
either of policy <>r of religious duty. But the Crusade of the 
man who actually did recover the Holy City is simply a 
grotesque episode inliis Life. Excommunicated for not going 
excommunicated again for going, excommunicated again for 


coming back, threatened on every side, he still went, and he 
succeeded. What others had failed to win by arms, he con- 
trived to win by address, and all that came of his success 
was that it was made the ground of fresh accusations against 
him. For years the cry for the recovery of Jerusalem had 
been sounding through Christendom ; at last Jerusalem was 
recovered, and its recoverer was at once cursed for accom- 
plishing the most fervent wishes of so many thousands of the 
faithful. The excommunicated King, whom no churchman 
would crown, whose name was hardly allowed to be uttered 
in his own army, kept his dominions in spite of all opposition. 
He was hindered from the further consolidation and exten- 
sion of his Eastern Kingdom only by a storm stirred up in 
his hereditary states by those who were most bound to show 
towards him something more than common international 
honesty. Whatever were the feelings and circumstances 
under which he had acted, Frederick was in fact the 
triumphant champion of Christendom, and his reward was 
fresh denunciations on the part of the spiritual chief of 
Christendom. The Elder Frederick, Philip of France, 
Eichard of England, Saint Lewis, Edward the First, were 
Crusaders from piety, from policy, or from fashion ; Frederick 
the Second was a Crusader simply because he could not 
help being one, and yet he did what they all failed to do. 
So again in his dealings with both the German and the 
Italian States, it is impossible to set him down either as a 
consistent friend or a consistent enemy of the great political 
movements of the age. He issues charters of privileges to 
this or that commonwealth, he issues charters restraining the 
freedom of commonwealths in general, simply as suits the 
policy of the time. In his dealings with the Popes, perhaps 
in his dealings with the cities also, Frederick was certainly 
more sinned against than sinning. P>ut a man whose genius 
and brilliancy and vigour shine out in every single action of 
his life, but in the general course of his actions no one ruling 
principle can be discerned, who is as it were tossed to and fro 
by circumstances and by the actions of others, is either very 



unfortunate in the position in which he finds himself, or else, 
with all his genius, he must lack some of the qualities with- 
out which genius is comparatively useless. 

In the case of Frederick probably both causes were true. 
For a man to influence his age, he must in some sort belong 
to his age. He should be above it, before it, but he should 
not be foreign to it. He may condemn, he may try to change, 
the opinions and feelings of the men around him ; but he 
must at least understand and enter into those opinions 
and feelings. But Frederick belongs to no age ; intellec- 
tually he is above his own age, above every age ; morally it 
can hardly be denied that he was below his age ; but in 
nothing was he of his age. In many incidental details his 
career is a repetition of that of his grandfather. Like him 
he struggles against Popes, he struggles against a league of 
cities, he wears the Cross in warfare against the Infidel. 
But in character, in aim, in object, grandfather and grandson 
are the exact opposite to each other. Frederick Barbarossa 
was simply the model of the man, the German, the Emperor, 
of the twelfth century. All the faults and all the virtues of 
his age, his country, and his position received in him their 
fullest developement. He was the ordinary man of his time, 
following the objects which an ordinary man of his time and 
in his position could not fail to follow. He exhibited the 
ordinary character of his time in its very noblest shape ; but 
it was still only the ordinary character of his time. His 
whole career was simply typical of his age, and in no way 
personal to himself; every action and every event of his life 
could be understood by every contemporary human being, 
friend or enemy. But his grandson, emphatically stupor 
miindi, commanded the wonder, perhaps the admiration, of 
an age which could not understand him. He gathered indeed 
around him a small band of devoted adherents; but to the 
mass of his contemporaries he seemed like a being of another 
Dature. He shared none of the feelings or prejudices of the 
time; alike in his intellectual greatness and in his moral 
abasement he had nothing in common with the ordinary man 


of the thirteenth century. The world probably contained no 
man, unless it were some solitary thinker here and there, 
whose mind was so completely set free, alike for good and for 
evil, from the ordinary trammels of the time. He appeared 
in the eyes of his own age as the enemy of all that it was 
taught to hold sacred, the friend of all that it was taught to 
shrink from and wage war against. What Frederick's reli- 
gious views really were is a problem hard indeed to solve ; 
but to his own time he appeared as something far more than 
a merely political, or even than a doctrinal, opponent of the 
Papacy. Men were taught to believe that he was the enemy 
of the head of Christendom simply because he was the enemy 
of Christianity altogether. Again, the crimes and vices of 
Frederick were no greater than those of countless other 
princes ; but there was no prince who trampled in the like 
sort upon all the moral notions of his own time. He con- 
trived, by the circumstances of his vices, to outrage contem- 
porary sentiment in a way in which his vices alone would not 
have outraged it. A man who thus showed no condescension 
to the feelings of his age, whether good or evil, could not 
directly influence that age. Some of his ideas and schemes 
may have been silently passed on to men of later times, in 
whose hands they were better able to bear fruit. He may 
have shaken old prejudices and old beliefs in a few minds of 
his own age ; he may even have been the fountain of a tra- 
dition which was powerfully to affect distant ages. In many 
things his ideas, his actions, forestalled events which were yet 
far remote. The events which he forestalled he may in this 
indirect and silent way have influenced. But direct influence 
on the world of his own age he had none. He may have 
undermined a stately edifice which was still to survive for 
ages ; but he simply undermined. He left no traces of him- 
self in the character of a founder; he left as few in the 
character of an open and avowed destroyer. 

There was also another cause which, besides Frederick's 
personal character, may have tended to isolate him from his 
age and to hinder him from having that influence over it 

r 2 


which we may say that his genius ought to have had. This 
was his utter want of nationality. The conscious idea of 
nationality had not indeed the same effect upon men's minds 
which it has in our own times. The political ideas and 
systems of the age ran counter to the principle of nationality 
in two ways. Nothing could be more opposed to any doc- 
trine of nationality than those ideas which were the essence 
of the whole political creed of the time, the ideas of the 
Universal Empire and the Universal Church. On the other 
hand, the conception of the joint lordship of the world, 
vested in the successor of Peter and the successor of Augustus, 
was hardly more opposed to the doctrine of nationality than 
was the form which was almost everywhere taken by the 
rising spirit of freedom. A movement towards national 
freedom was something exceptional ; in most places it was 
the independence of a district, of a city, at most of a small 
union of districts or cities, for which men strove. A German 
or Italian commonwealth struggled for its own local inde- 
pendence ; so far as was consistent with the practical enjoy- 
ment of that independence, it was ready to acknowledge the 
supremacy of the Emperor, Lord of the World. Of a strictly 
national patriotism for Germany or Italy men had very little 
thought indeed. These two seemingly opposite tendencies, the 
tendency to merge nations in one universal dominion, and the 
tendency to divide nations into small principalities and com- 
monwealths, were in truth closely connected. The tendency 
to division comes out most strongly in the kingdoms which 
were united to the Empire. Other countries showed a power 
of strictly national action, of acquiring liberties common to 
the whole nation, of legislating in the interest of the whole 
nation, almost in exact proportion to the degree in which 
they were placed beyond the reach of Imperial inlluences. 
Spain, Scandinavia, Britain, were the countries on which the 
Empire bad least influence. Spain, Scandinavia, Britain, 
were therefore the countries in which we see the nearest 
approaches to true national Lifeand consciousness. Still there 
is no doubt that, even within the Empire, national feelings 


did exercise a strong, though in a great measure an uncon- 
scious, influence. Local feelings exercised an influence still 
stronger. But there was no national or local feeling which 
could gather round Frederick the Second. There was no 
national or local cause of which he could be looked on as the 
champion. There was no nation, no province, no city, which 
could claim him as its own peculiar hero. Kuling over men 
of various races and languages, he could adapt himself to 
each of them in turn in a way in which few men before or 
after him could do. But there was none of the various races 
of his dominions, German, Burgundian, Italian, Norman, 
Greek, or Saracen, which could claim him as really bone of its 
bone and flesh of its flesh. His parentage was half German, 
half Norman, his birthplace was Italian, the home of his 
choice was Sicilian, his tastes and habits were strongly sus- 
pected of being Saracenic. The representative of a kingly 
German house, he was himself, beyond all doubt, less German 
than anything else. He was Norman, Italian, almost any- 
thing rather than German ; but he was far from being purely 
Norman or purely Italian. In this position, placed as it were 
above all ordinary local and national ties, he was, beyond 
every other prince who ever wore the Imperial diadem, the 
embodiment of the conception of an Emperor, Lord of the 
World. But an Emperor, Lord of the World, is placed too 
hiirh to win the affections which attach them to rulers and 
leaders of lower degree. A King may command the love of 
his own Kingdom ; a popular leader may command the love 
of his own city. But Caesar, whose dominion is from the 
one sea to the other and from the flood unto the world's end, 
must, in this respect as in others, pay the penalty of his 
greatness. Frederick was, in idea, beyond all men, the hero 
and champion of the Empire. But practically the champion- 
ship of the Empire was found less truly effective in his hands 
than in the hands of men who were further from carrying out 
the theoretical ideal. The Imperial power was more truly 
vigorous in the hands of princes in whom the ideal champion- 
ship of the Empire was united with the practical leadership 


of one of its component nations. Frederick Barbarossa, the 
true German King, the man whom the German instinct at 
once hails as the noblest developement of the German 
character, really did more for the greatness of the Empire 
than his descendant, whose ideal position was far more truly 
Imperial. The men who influence their age, the men who 
leave a lasting memory behind them, are the men who are 
thoroughly identified with the actual or local life of some 
nation or city. Frederick Barbarossa was the hero of 
Germany ; but his grandson, the hero of the Empire, was the 
hero of none of its component parts. The memory of the 
grandfather still lives in the hearts of a people, some of whom 
perhaps even now look for his personal return. The memory 
of the grandson has everywhere passed away from popular 
remembrance ; the Wonder of the World remains to be the 
wonder of scholars and historians only. 

In this last respect the memory of Frederick the Second 
has certainly nothing to complain of. Few princes have ever 
had such a monument raised to them as has been raised to the 
memory of the last Swabian Emperor by the munificence 
of the Duke of Luynes and the learning and industry of 
M.I f uillard-Breholles. Here, in a series of noble quartos, are 
all the documents of a reign most fertile in documents, 
ushered in by a volume which, except in not assuming a 
strictly narrative form, is essentially a complete history of 
Frederick's reign. M. Huillard-Breholles seems literally to 
have let nothing escape him. He discusses at length every- 
thing which in anyway concerns his hero, from the examina- 
tion of schemes which look very like the institution of a new 
religion down to the minutest details of form in the 
wording, dating, and Bpelling of the Emperor's official acts. 
We oevei saw a book which is more thoroughly exhaustive of 
the subject with which it deals. It is not a history, merely 
l>< cause the form of an Introduction or Preface seems to have 
laid M.. Breholles under (lie necessity of giving us, instead 
of ii single regular aarrative, a series of distinct narrative 
discussions of each of 1 lie almost countless aspects in which 


the reign of Frederick can be looked at. M. Breholles has 
also followed up his great work by a monograph of the life 
and aims of one whose history is inseparably bound together 
with that of Frederick, his great and unfortunate minister, 
Peter de Vinea. In this he examines at full length a subject 
to which we shall again return, and which is perhaps the 
most interesting of all which the history of Frederick pre- 
sents, namely, the relation of the freethinking and reforming 
Emperor to the received religion of this age. On this point 
we cannot unreservedly pledge ourselves to all the details of 
M. Breholles' conclusions ; but they are at least highly in- 
genious, and the contemporary evidence on which he grounds 
them is most singular and interesting, and deserves most 
attentive study. Altogether we can have no hesitation in 
placing M. Breholles' investigation of the reign of Frederick 
the Second among the most important contributions which 
our age has made to historical learning. 

Nor has the character and history of Frederick failed to 
attract notice among scholars in our own country. His 
career supplies materials for one of the most brilliant parts 
of Dean Milman's History of Latin Christianity ; there is no 
part of his great work which is more palpably a labour of 
love. More recently has appeared the history of Frederick 
by Mr. Eington-Oliphant, the production of a young writer, 
and which shows want of due preparation in some of the 
introductory portions, but which also shows real research and 
real vigour as the author approaches his main subject, the 
life of Frederick himself. Mr. Oliphant is confessedly a dis- 
ciple of M. Breholles, and his volumes, as supplying that 
direct and continuous narrative which M. Breholles' plan did 
not allow of, may be taken as a companion-piece to the great 
work of his master. 

The reign of Frederick, like that of his predecessor Henry 
the Fourth, was nearly co-extensive with his life. His his- 
tory began while he was in his cradle. Like Henry the 
Fourth, after filling the first place in men's minds for a long- 
scries of years, he died at no very advanced time of life. 


Frederick, born in 1194, died in 1250, at the age of fifty-six. 
Henry at the time of his death was a year younger. Yet it 
marks a difference between the two men that historians 
seem involuntarily, in defiance of chronology, to think and 
speak of Henry in his later years as quite an aged man. No 
one ever speaks in this way of Frederick. The Wonder of 
the World seems endowed with a kind of undying youth, 
and after all the great events and revolutions of his reign, 
we are at last surprised to find that we have passed over so 
many years as we really have. Frederick was a King almost 
from his birth. The son of the Emperor Henry the Sixth 
and of Constance the heiress of Sicily, he was born while his 
father was in his full career of success and cruelty. His 
very birth gave occasion to mythical tales. The compara- 
tively advanced age of his mother, which however has been 
greatly exaggerated, gave occasion to rumours of opposite 
kinds. His enemies gave out that he was not really of 
Imperial birth, and that the childless Empress had palmed 
off a supposititious child on her husband. His admirers 
hailed his birth as wonderful, if not miraculous, and placed 
the conception of Constance alongside of the conceptions of 
the mothers of Isaac, of Samuel, and of John the Baptist. 
Elected King of the Romans in his infancy, his father's death 
left him in his third year his successor in the Sicilian King- 
dom, and his mother's death in the next year left an orphan 
boy as the heir alike of the Hohenstaufen Emperors and of 
the Norman Kings. His election as King of the Romans 
seems to have been utterly forgotten ; after the death of his 
father, the Crown was disputed by the double election of 
Otto of Saxony and of Frederick's own uncle Philip. The 
child in Sicily was not thought of till Philip had been mur- 
dered just when fortune seemed to have finally decided for 
him; till Otto, reaping the advantage of a crime of which 
lie was guiltless, bad been enabled to secure both the King- 
dom and the Empire, and til] lie had fallen into disgrace with 
the Pontiff by whose favour lie had at first been supported. 
Meanwhile the Sicilian Kingdom was torn by rebellions and 


laid waste by mercenary captains. The land had at last been 
restored to some measure of peace, and the young King to 
some measure of authority, by the intervention of the over- 
lord Pope Innocent. Frederick was a husband at fifteen, a 
father at eighteen, and almost at the same moment as the 
birth of his first son, Henry the future King and rebel, he 
was called to the German Crown by the party which was 
discontented with Otto, now under the ban of the Church. 
Frederick, destined to be the bitterest enemy of the Roman 
See, made his first appearance on German soil as its special 
nursling, called to royalty and Empire under the auspices of 
the greatest of the Roman Pontiffs. He came thither also, 
there seems little reason to doubt, under patronage of a less 
honourable kind. The long disputes between England and 
France had already begun, and, by a strange anticipation of 
far later times, they had already begun to be carried on 
within the boundaries of the Empire. Otto, the son of an 
English mother, was supported by the money and the arms 
of his uncle John of England, while the heir of the Hohen- 
staufen partly owed his advancement to the influence and 
the gold of Philip of France. In 1211 Frederick was elected 
King ; three years later, Otto, in Mr. Oliphant's words, "rushed 
on his doom." At Bouvines, a name hardly to be written 
without an unpleasant feeling by any man of Teutonic blood 
and speech, the King of the French overthrew the Saxon 
Emperor and his English and Flemish allies. The power of 
Otto, already crumbling away, was now utterly broken. In 
1215, while John was quailing before his triumphant Barons, 
Frederick, the rival of his nephew, received the royal crown 
and assumed the Cross. Three years later, the death of Otto 
removed all traces of opposition to his claims, an event which, 
by a singular coincidence, was nearly contemporaneous with 
the birth of one destined to be himself, not only a King, but 
the beginner of a new stage in the history of the Empire, the 
famous Rudolf of Hapsburg. In 1220 Frederick's son Henry, 
then only eight years old, was elected King, although his 
father was not yet crowned Emperor. But in the course of 


the same year Frederick received the Imperial diadem at 
the hands of Pope Honorius. His coronation was an event 
deserving of special record in the Roman annals, as one of 
the very few times when an Emperor received his Crown 
without bloodshed or disturbance, amid the loyal acclama- 
tions of the Roman people. Possibly some conscious or un- 
conscious feeling of national kindred spoke in favour of an 
Emperor born within the borders of Italy, and under whose 
rule it might seem that Germany and not Italy was likely to 
be the secondary and dependent realm. In truth, in that 
same year, before leaving his Northern Kingdom, Frederick 
had, seemingly as the price of the election of his son, put the 
seal to the destruction of the royal power in Germany. The 
charter which he granted in that year to the German Princes 
is one of the marked stages of the long process which changed 
the Kingdom of Charles and Otto and Henry into the lax Con- 
federation which has so lately fallen in pieces before our eyes.* 
Frederick was still, to all appearance, a dutiful son of the 
Church ; but there were already signs that a storm was 
brewing. The union between a Pope and a Hohenstaufen 
Emperor was something which in its own nature could not 
be lasting. The magnificent theory which looked on the 
spiritual and temporal chiefs of Rome as the co-equal rulers 
of the Church and the world always gave way at the slightest 
strain. Even before his Imperial coronation, Frederick had 
fallen under the displeasure of Honorius ; he had received 
rebukes and had had to make excuses. As usual, the two 
swords were always clashing ; the King of Sicily was charged 
with meddling witli ecclesiastical fiefs and with the freedom 
of ecclesiastical elections. Put the great point was the 
( 'riisade. Frederick had became a Crusader at the time of 
Ins assumption of the German Crown; but no Crusade had 
in- as yet waged. Damietta had been won, and Damietta was 
sunn after lost again, without the temporal head of Christen- 
dom striking a blow to win or to defend it. The position 
thus lightly dealt with was held to be the very key of the 

* [December, L866.] 


Holy Land. In the eyes of a Pope such neglect was a 
wicked forsaking of the first of duties. It might perhaps 
have appeared in the same light in the eyes of an ideal 
Emperor. But the hereditary King of Sicily, the elected 
King of Germany, Italy, and Burgundy, found occupation 
enough in the lower duties of ordinary royalty. In all his 
kingdoms there were matters calling for his attention. In 
his own hereditary realm he had a work to do which he 
might fairly plead as an excuse for not engaging in warfare 
beyond the sea. He had no need to go and seek for Saracen 
enemies in distant lands while, the Saracens of his own island 
were in open revolt. He brought into subjection both the 
turbulent Infidels and the no less turbulent Norman nobles, 
and he made Sicily the model of a civilized and legal 
despotism, framed after the pattern of the best days of the 
Eastern Empire. The wild Saracens of the mountains were 
partly constrained to adopt a more peaceful life, partly trans- 
ferred to a spot where, instead of restless rebels, they became 
the surest defence of his throne. He planted them in the 
city of Lucera in Apulia, where, isolated in a surrounding 
Christian country, they dwelt as his Housecarls or Janis- 
saries, bound by the single tie of personal loyalty — soldiers 
who could always be trusted, for over them Popes and monk's 
had no influence. Besides this work in his native kingdom, 
a work enough by itself to tax all the energes of an ordinary 
mortal, he had other work to do in all his Imperial realms. 
Not the least interesting among the notices of this part of 
his reign are those which concern the states along his western 
frontier. On the one hand France was already encroaching ; 
on the other hand a movement was beginning which, had it 
prospered, might have placed an unbroken line of indepen- 
dent states between the great rival powers. The duty which 
Switzerland and Belgium, at too great an interval from one 
another, have still to discharge, fell, in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, to the lot of a whole crowd of rising commonwealths. 
From the months of the Rhine to the mouths of the Phone, re- 
publics, worthy sisters of the republics of Italy and Northern 


Germany, were springing up through the whole length of 
ancient Lotharingia and Burgundy. It is sad to see Frederick 
everywhere interfering to check this new birth of freedom. 
Everywhere the local Count or Bishop was encouraged to 
subdue the presumptuous rebels of the cities. Take two 
instances from cities widely apart in geographical position. 
Massalia, the old Ionian commonwealth, the city which had 
braved the might of Caesar and which was before many years 
to brave the might of Charles of Anjou, had begun her second 
and shorter career of freedom. In the eyes of Frederick the 
citizens were mere rebels against their Bishop, and the Count 
of Provence was bidden to bring them back to their due 
obedience. So, at almost the other end of the Empire, the 
citizens of Cambray failed to pay due submission to the 
Imperial commands. But here a more dangerous influence 
was at work. The Emperor was still on good terms with the 
King of the French ; he had lately concluded a treaty with 
him, binding himself, among other things, to enter into no 
alliance with England. But the instinctive tendencies of the 
Parisian monarchy were then, as ever, too strong for mere 
written engagements. France was intriguing with the citizens 
of Cambray, and the Emperor had to call upon King Lewis 
to cease from any intermeddling with his disaffected subjects. 
We have brought out these points, though of no special 
importance in the life of Frederick, because they at once 
illustrate the varied relations of a mediaeval Emperor to all 
kinds of rulers and communities, great and small, and be- 
cause they specially illustrate the reality of power which the 
Emperor still retained both in his Burgundian Kingdom and 
in other portions of the Empire which have since been 
swallowed up by the encroachments of France. Neither of 
our authors brings out this point as it should be brought out. 
M. Breholles is far too learned to be ignorant of, far too candid 
to suppress, any one fact in his history. Still he is a French- 
man, and we can hardly expect him to enter a formal protest 
against the most popular of all French delusions. Mr. 
Oliphant know- bis tads, but he does not fully grasp them. 


It is with a kind of surprise that he finds " that many pro- 
vinces, now included within the boundaries of France, then 
looked for direction to Hagenau or Palermo, not to Paris." 
To be sure Mr. Bryce's tabular view of the Ten Burgundies 
had not been drawn up when Mr. Oliphant wrote. 

At last we reach Frederick's Crusade, perhaps rather to be 
called his progress to the East. The Marriage of Frederick 
with Yolande of Brienne put him into altogether a new rela- 
tion to the Holy Land and all that pertained to it. His 
journey to Jerusalem was now not that of a private adven- 
turer or pilgrim, not that of an Emperor acting as the 
common head of Christendom, but that of a King going to 
take possession of one of his own kingdoms, to receive yet 
another crown in another of his capitals. And in truth 
Frederick, when he had once set out, found less difficulty in 
winning his way to the crown of Jerusalem than some of his 
predecessors in the Empire had found in winning their way 
to the crown of Borne. Everything seemed against him ; the 
Papal throne had a new and very different occupant ; to the 
mild Honorius had succeeded the stern and unbending Gre- 
gory. Frederick's second Empress was already dead, and 
with her, it might be argued, he had lost his right to a king- 
dom which he could claim only through her. He himself 
was excommimicated at every step ; if he went, if he stayed, 
the ban was equally launched against him for going and for 
sta ving. Yet he went : on his way he successfully established 
his Imperial rights over the Frank King of Cyprus, a rival 
claimant for the crown of Jerusalem. Without striking a 
blow, by dexterous diplomacy, by taking advantage of the 
divided and tottering state of the Mahometan powers, he 
gained the main object for which Christendom had striven in 
vain for forty years. A Christian King again reigned in the 
Holy City, and the sepulchre of Christ was again in the hands 
of His worshippers. It was a strange position when the ex- 
communicated King, in whose presence any religious office 
was forbidden, placed on his own head the crown of the Holy 
Land in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It might almost 


seem as if it was in this strange moment of trial that Frede- 
rick's faith finally gave way. The suspicion of Mahometanism 
which attached to him is of course, in its literal sense, utterly 
absurd ; but it is worthy of notice that it was not confined to 
Christian imaginations. The conduct of Frederick at Jeru- 
salem impressed more than one Mahometan writer with the 
belief that, if the Emperor was not an actual proselyte to 
Islam, he was at least not sound in the faith which he out- 
wardly professed. It must be remembered that the toleration 
of Mahometan worship within its walls was one of the con- 
ditions on which Frederick obtained possession of the Holy 
City. A stipulation like this might well arouse suspicions 
of his Christian orthodoxy in the minds of Christians and 
Mussulmans alike. In modern eyes his conduct appears 
simply just and reasonable ; setting aside any abstract doctrine 
of religious toleration, the view of a modern statesman would 
be that Frederick preferred, and wisely preferred, instead of 
putting everything to the hazard of the sword, to win his 
main object by treaty, and to yield on some lesser points. 
The essence of a treaty between two powers treating on equal 
terms is that each should abate somewhat of that which it 
holds to be the full measure of its rights. Few will now con- 
demn Frederick for choosing to accept such large concessions 
by treaty rather than to trust everything to the chances of 
war. Had he done otherwise, he might probably have had 
to return to Europe after wasting his forces in a struggle as 
bootless as those of most of the Crusaders who had gone 
before liim. And it seems that, even in his own age, a large 
amount of general European feeling went with him. His 
treatment at the hands of the Pope and the Papal party was 
so manifestly unjust as to arouse a deep feeling in his favour 
in all parts of Christendom. In Italy, in Germany, in 
Falkland, the chief writers of the time all side with Frederick 
against Gregory. Allowance was made for his position; he 
had done what lie could; had he not laboured under an un- 
righteous excommunication, had he not been thwarted and 
betrayed by the clergy and the military orders, lie would have 


done far more. Still the indignation of the extreme eccle- 
siastical party against Frederick was, from their own point of 
view, neither unnatural nor unreasonable. In the eyes of 
some zealots any treaty with the Infidels was in itself un- 
lawful ; even without going this length, a treaty which, though 
it secured the Holy Sepulchre to the Christian, left the 
" Temple of the Lord " to the Mahometan, could not fail to 
offend some of the most deep-seated feelings of the age. 
Whatever might be Frederick's own faith, he at least had 
not the orthodox hatred for men of another faith. Various 
incidental actions and expressions of the Emperor during 
his stay at Jerusalem impressed the Mahometans themselves 
with the idea that he at least put both religions pretty much 
on a level. We must remember that his toleration of 
Mahometanism would be a thing which few Mahometans would 
appreciate, and which would of itself raise suspicions in most 
Oriental minds. A man who could act with Justice and 
moderation towards men of their law would seem to them to 
be no real believer in the law which he himself professed. 
But this could not have been all : the impression of Frederick's 
lack of orthodoxy, and of his special tendency towards Ma- 
hometanism, was too deeply fixed in the minds of men of 
both creeds to have rested only on an inference of this kind. 
And it is perfectly credible in itself. A King of Sicily, 
who from his childhood had had to do with Saracens in his 
own kingdom both in peace and in war, who, if he had 
sometimes had to deal with them as enemies, had also found 
that they could be changed into its bravest and most loyal 
soldiers, could not possibly hate the unbelievers with the 
hatred which in the breast of a King of England or France 
might be a perfectly honest passion. Then, just at the 
moment when he was naturally stimg to the heart by his ill 
treatment at the hands of the head of his own faith, when 
he was denied communion in Christian rites, and when the 
ministers and defenders of the Christian Church shrank from 
him as from one worse than an infidel — just at such a moment 
as this, he came across a fuller and more splendid develope- 


ment of the Mahometan law among the independent Maho- 
metan powers of the East. There was much in the aspect 
of Mahometan society to attract him. The absolute authority 
of the Mahometan sovereigns was congenial to his political 
notions. The art and science, such as it was, of the more 
civilized Mahometan nations appealed to his intellectual 
cravings. The license allowed by the Mahometan law fell in 
no less powerfully with the impulses of his voluptuous tem- 
perament. That Frederick ever, strictly speaking, became 
a Mahometan is of course an absurd fable. It is not even 
necessary to believe that he ever formally threw aside all 
faith in the dogmas of Christianity as understood in his own 
age. But that Frederick, with all his professions of ortho- 
doxy, was at least a freethinker, that he indulged in specu- 
lations which the orthodoxy of his age condemned, it is hardly 
possible to doubt. That he aimed at the widest changes in 
the external fabric of the Christian Church, in the relations 
between the spiritual and the temporal, between the Papal 
and the Imperial, powers, there can be no doubt at all. And, 
if there was any one moment of change in Frederick's mind, 
any one moment when doubt, if not disbelief, obtained the 
supremacy over his mind, no moment is so likely as that in 
which he saw Christianity and Islam standing side by side 
in the Holy City of both religions, and when, as regarded 
himself, it could not have been Christianity which appeared 
in the more attractive light. 

We had hoped to give a sketch, if only a short one, of the 
main events in Frederick's late career — his reconciliation with 
Gregory, his season of comparative tranquillity in his Sicilian 
realm, his schemes of government and legislation, his second 
and final rupture with Gregory, his last struggle with Inno- 
cent, his last excommunication and deposition, and the 
political coiisf'(|nonces of that bold stretch of Papal authority 
in the appearance of rival Kings in Germany and the general 
weakening of the Imperial power throughout the Empire. 
Bui the reflexions to which we have been led by the con- 
sideration of Frederick's position at Jerusalem lead us at 


once to questions which may well occupy our remaining space. 

On the question of Frederick's religion Mr. Oliphant hardly 

enlarges at all ; Dean Milman sums up his own view in a 

few remarkable words : — 

" Frederick's, in my judgment, was neither scornful and godless infidelity, 
nor certainly a more advanced and enlightened Christianity, yearning after 
holiness and purity not then attainable. It was the shattered, dubious, at 
times trembling faith, at times desperately reckless incredulity, of a man 
under the burthen of an undeserved excommunication, of which he could 
not but discern the injustice, but could not quite shake off the terrors; of 
a man whom a better age of Christianity might not have made religious ; 
whom his own made irreligious. 

But M. Breholles, both in his general Introduction and in 
his special monograph of Peter de Yinea, goes very much 
deeper into the question. He gathers together a great num- 
ber of passages from contemporary writers, which, in his 
judgement, are evidence that Frederick was, in the eyes of a 
small knot of enthusiastic admirers, looked on as something 
like the Apostle, or rather the Messiah, of a new religion. 
Such a notion is certainly much less improbable in itself 
than, with our modern notions, it seems to us. Everything 
was then looked at from a religious point of view. Political 
partizanship took the form of religious worship ; the man 
who died for his country, or for his party, was canonized as a 
martyr, and miracles were deemed to be wrought at his 
grave. The famous case of Simon of Montfort, a younger 
contemporary of Frederick, is perhaps the strongest of any. 
Simon died under a Papal excommunication ; but no excom- 
munication could hinder the English people, and the mass of 
the English clergy among them, from looking on the mar- 
tyred Earl as the patron of the English nation, whose relics 
possessed healing virtues on earth, and whose intercession 
could not fail to be availing in heaven. The age of Frederick 
moreover was eminently an age of religious movement. The 
new monastic orders on the one hand, the countless heresies 
on the other, sprang out of the same source, and sometimes 
mingled together in a strange way. The heretic who was 
sent to the stake and the Pominican friar who sent him 



thither were, each in his own way, witnesses to a general 
feeling of dissatisfaction with the existing state of the Church, 
to a general striving after something new, in dogma, in dis- 
cipline, or in practice, according to the disposition of each 
particular reformer. Strange writings, setting forth strange 
doctrines, were afloat before the days of Frederick and re- 
mained afloat after his days. The whole of the inner circle 
of the Franciscan Order, the order of personal self-sacrifice 
and mystic devotion, seemed fast sweeping into something 
more than heresy. Even the pillars of orthodoxy, the un- 
relenting avengers of every deviation from the narrow path, 
the stern, practical, relentless Dominicans, did not escape the 
suspicion of being touched by the same contagion. That 
contagion was indeed more than heresy ; it was the preaching 
of a new religion. To the believers in the " Everlasting 
Gospel," Christianity itself seemed, just as it seems to a 
Mahometan, to be a mere imperfect and temporary dispensa- 
tion, a mere preparation for something better which was to 
come. The reign of the Father, with its revelation the 
Mosaic Law, had passed away ; the reign of the Son, with 
its revelation the Christian Gospel, was passing away ; the 
reign of the Holy Ghost was approaching, with its own special 
revelation, more perfect than all. The age was one which 
could hardly bear to look upon anything in a purely secular 
way. Even when the spiritual and temporal powers came 
into conflict, the conflict was of a somewhat different kind 
from similar conflicts in our own day. The Ghibelin doctrine 
was far from being a mere assertion of the superiority of a 
power confessedly of the earth, earthy, over a power confes- 
s< >dly of higher origin. The Empire had its religious devotees 
as well as the Popedom. In the ideas of both parties a 
Vicar of Christ was a necessity; the only question was 
whether the true Vicar of Christ was to be looked for in the 
Roman Pontiff or in theKoman Caesar. To the enthusiastic 
votaries of the Empire the Emperor seemed as truly a direct 
representative of Divinity, us literally a power reigning by 
divine right, as ever the Pope could seem in the eyes of 


the strongest assertor of ecclesiastical claims. It is the 
growth of independent nations and Churches which has, more 
than anything else, dealt the death-blow to both theories. 
But in Frederick's time no man within the limits of the 
Empire could be a vehement opponent of the temporal or 
spiritual claims of the Pope without in some measure assert- 
ing a spiritual as well as a temporal power in the Emperor. 
This deification of the Imperial power attained its fullest and 
most systematic developement among the writers who under- 
took the defence of Lewis of Bavaria ; but there is no doubt 
that ideas of the same kind were already busily at work in 
the days of Frederick. So far as Frederick was an opponent 
of the Papal power, so far as he contemplated any transfer of 
power from the Papacy to the Empire, so far in short as he 
appeared at all in the character of an ecclesiastical reformer, 
he could only do so, if not in his own eyes at least in those 
of his admirers, by transferring to himself, as Roman Emperor, 
some portion of that official holiness of which he proposed to 
deprive the Roman Pontiff. 

Now, perplexing as is the question of Frederick's personal 
belief, his external position, as Emperor and King, towards 
ecclesiastical questions is intelligible enough. He always 
professed strict orthodoxy of dogma in his own person, and in 
his legislation he strictly enforced such orthodoxy within the 
pale of the Christian Church. To the Jew and the Maho- 
metan he gave full toleration ; the Christian heretic found in 
him a persecutor as cruel as the most enthusiastic Dominican 
turned loose upon the victims of the elder Montfort. There 
is no necessary inconsistency in such a position ; it is, in fact, 
one which was acknowledged by the general treatment of the 
Jews throughout the middle ages. The Jew or the Maho- 
metan is something altogether external to the Church. He 
is a foreign enemy, not an inborn rebel ; he is one against 
whom the Church may rightfully wage war, but not one whom 
she can claim to bring before her domestic judgement-seat. 
But the heretic is a home-bred traitor ; he is not a foreign 
enemy of the Church, but a native rebel against her ; he is 

x 2 


therefore an object, not of warfare, but of judicial punishment. 
A Christian sovereign then, according to the mediaeval theory, 
is in no way bound to molest Jews or Mahometans simply as 
Jews or Mahometans ; he must secure Christians from any mo- 
lestation at their hands, from any prosely tism to their creed ; 
but the Jew or the Mahometan is not amenable to punish- 
ment simply on the ground of his misbelief. But the heretic 
is so amenable. The Jew has never been under the allegiance 
of the Church ; he is a foreigner, not to be injured unless he 
commits some act of national enmity. But the heretic is one 
who has cast off his allegiance to the Church ; he is a spiritual 
rebel to be chastised as unsparingly as the temporal rebel . 
This principle was acted on throughout the middle ages. r l he 
Jew was often exposed to unfavourable legislation ; he was 
still more commonly visited with illegal or extra-legal oppres- 
sion : but a Jew, simply as a Jew, was never held to be liable 
to the penalties of heresy. What is remarkable in Frede- 
rick's legislation is the real and effective nature of the tole- 
ration which he secured to Jews and Mahometans, combined 
with the fact that such a man as he was should appear as 
a religious persecutor under any circumstances. If he really 
handed over heretics to the flames in cold blood, simply to 
keep up for himself a character for orthodoxy which he did 
not deserve, it is hardly possible to conceive a greater measure 
of guilt. And the guilt is hardly less if he employed the 
popular prejudice against heresy to destroy political enemies 
under the garb of heretics. But it is possible to explain 
Frederick's persecutions without attributing to him such 
detestable wickedness as this. Though a legislator may be 
personally a freethinker, or even a confirmed unbeliever, it 
does not at all follow that he thinks it either possible or 
desirable to abolish the public establishment of Christianity 
in his doni in ions. And, in the view of all times and places 
up to liis day iuhI long alter, the public establishment of any 
religious system involved the legal punishment of those who 
separated from it. Frederick might thus hold it to be a 
matter of public order ami public justice to chastise men for 


publicly rebelling against a system in which he had himself 
lost all personal faith. Persecution of this sort is far more 
hateful than the persecutions of the honest fanatic, who burns 
a few men in this world to save many from being burned in 
the next. Still it does not reach the same measure of guilt 
as the detestable hypocrisy which at first seems to be the 
obvious explanation of Frederick's conduct in this respect. 

Frederick then professed strict orthodoxy of dogma, and 
persecuted those who departed from such orthodoxy. But it 
is plain that, as to the relations between the spiritual and 
temporal powers, he was not orthodox in the Papal sense. It 
was hardly possible that any Emperor should be so. In the 
ideal theory of the two powers, the Pope and the Emperor 
are strictly coequal ; the authority of each is alike divine 
within its own range. But rigidly to define the range of 
each is so hard a matter that this ideal theory could hardly 
fail to remain an ideal theory. The practical question always 
was whether the Emperor should be subject to the Pope or 
the Pope subject to the Emperor. On this question we cannot 
doubt that Frederick had formed a very decided judgement 
indeed. With such an intellect as his, in such a position as 
his, the subjection of the Pope to the Emperor would be an 
established principle from the first moment that he was ca- 
pable of speculating about such matters at all. Every event of 
his life, every excommunication pronounced by a Pope, every 
act of hostility or treachery on the part of churchmen or 
military monks, would tend to confirm his decision. How 
far Frederick, the innovator, the revolutionist, the despiser of 
received beliefs, may have been influenced by the traditional 
theories of the Holy Roman Empire is another matter. It is 
possible that he employed them as useful for his purpose, 
without that honest faith in them which clearly moved the 
Ottos and his own grandfather. The magnificent theory of 
the Empire may well have kindled his imagination, and he 
may have consciously striven to change that magnificent 
theory into a living reality. But the dominion at which he 
aimed was the effective immediate dominion of a Byzantine 


Emperor or a Saracen Sultan, rather than the shadowy lord- 
ship of a world every inch of which was really partitioned 
out among independent princes and commonwealths. But, 
whether strictly as Emperor or in any other character, there 
can be no doubt that Frederick gradually came to set before 
himself, as the main object of his life, the depression of the 
spiritual, and the exaltation of the temporal, power. 

As we said before, whatever might have been Frederick's 
own secret views, such a transfer of power as this could, in 
that age, hardly take any outward form or shape except that 
of a further deification of the temporal power, a more com- 
plete acknowledgement of the Emperor, and not the Pope, as 
the true Vicar of Christ upon earth. We must also remem- 
ber the tendencies and ways of expression of that age, how 
every thought took a religious turn, how, just as among the 
Puritans of the seventeenth century, every strong feeling 
instinctively clothed itself in scriptural language. Every 
one who knows anything of the literature of those times 
is familiar with the way in which the thoughts and words 
of Scripture are habitually applied by men to their own 
public or private affairs, applied in the most thorough good 
faith, but in a tone which to our habits seems irreverent, and 
sometimes almost blasphemous. It is therefore in no way 
wonderful to find devoted partizans of Frederick investing 
him with a religious character, and lavishing upon him the 
most sacred language of prophets and apostles. Again, the 
Christian Emperors had all along kept on from their pagan 
predecessors several official phrases borrowed from the old 
heathendom. The Emperor and all that belonged to him was 
" divine " and " sacred ;" his rescripts were " oracles ;" his 
parents and his children were spoken of as if they belonged 
to a stock higher than mankind. Between these two in- 
fluences we are not surprised to find Frederick spoken of in 
terms which, with modern feelings, we should apply only to 
tin- holiest of objects. The question now comes, — Was Fre- 
derick ever directly and seriously putforth by himself or by his 
followers as the prophet, apostle, or Messiah of a new religion? 


That lie was so put forth seems to be the opinion of M. Bre- 
holles, and we must wind up by a glance at the evidence on 
which he founds his belief. He would hardly rely with any 
great confidence on two or three scoffing speeches attributed 
to Frederick himself, which may or not have been really 
uttered by him, but which in any case illustrate the concep- 
tion which men in general formed of him. Thus, as is well 
known, he was commonly believed to have said that Jews, 
Christians, and Saracens had been led away by three impostors, 
Moses, Jesus, and Mahomet, and that he, Frederick, would 
set up a better religion than any of them. If such a speech 
was ever made, it could only have been in mockery; it 
would convict Frederick of utter contempt for all religion, 
rather than of any serious scheme for setting up a religion of 
his own. The real stress of the argument lies on the meaning 
to be put on certain passages in which contemporary partizans 
of Frederick speak of him in language which undoubtedly 
has, at first sight, a very extraordinary sound. It is not won- 
derful, in an age when every name was played upon and 
made the subject of mystical explanations, that the fact that 
Frederick's great minister bore the name of Peter should 
have been made the subject of endless allusions. The parallel 
drawn between Simon Peter and his master and Peter de 
Vinea and his master shocks the taste of our times, but it was 
thoroughly in the taste of the thirteenth century. Peter is to 
go on the water to his master ; he is converted and he is to 
strengthen his brethren ; his master has committed to him the 
trust to feed his sheep and to bear the keys of his kingdom. 
All these and other expressions of the same kind are foimd in 
the original documents collected by M. Breholles. So we find 
Frederick hailed as a saint ; — Vivat, vivat Sancti Friderici 
nomen in j^ulo. We find Frederick himself, in one and the 
same passage, applying to his mother the old title of pagan 
divinity, and speaking of his birthplace in a way which im- 
plies a parallel between himself and Christ. Constance is 
diva mater nostra, and Jesi is Bethleem nostra. But there is 
one passage which goes beyond all the rest. This is found in a 


letter from a Sicilian Bishop to Peter de Vinea, a letter which 
is by no means easy to understand by reason of the figura- 
tive language used throughout, but in which there is a 
direct parallel of the most daring kind between Christ and 
Frederick. After an allusion, brought in in a strange way, 
to the Last Supper and the rite then instituted, the writer 
goes on thus : — 

"Uncle non immerito me movet haec externa relatio, quod Petrus, in 
cujus petrS tundatur Imperialis Ecclesia, quum augustalis animus roboratur 
in coenS cum discipulis, tale certain potuit edixisse." 

The language here is what we should nowadays call blas- 
phemous, but it is really only the habit of scriptural applica- 
tion pushed to its extreme point. We should also remember 
that Frederick and his partisans, against whom so much 
Scripture had been quoted, would have a certain pleasure in 
showing that they could quote Scripture back again, as cer- 
tainly no one ever did with more vigorous effect than Fre- 
derick himself at some stages of his controversy with Gregory. 
But wc do not see that this or the other passages quoted are 
enough to justify some of the expressions used by M. Bre- 
holles; such we mean as when he says: — 

" Ecrivant aux cardinaux durant la vacance du saint-siege, en 1243, il 
leur rappelle I'exem] le des Israelites, qui, errant sans chef dans le desert 
pendanl quarante jours, en vinrent a prendre un veau d'or pour leur dieu : 
'S'il faul renoncer a la consecration d'un nouveau pape, ajoute-t-il, qu'un 
autre saint des saints paraisse enfin, mais quel sera-t-il?' [Si papalis 
cessavit unctio, venict ergo alius sanctus sanctorum, et quis ille est ?] Lui- 
meme apparemment, puisqu'il aspire au role de prophete et de Messie: et 
sin ce |" int lis contemporains nese trompaient guere quand ils accusaient 
Frecle'ric de chercher a usur] er pour son propre compte le souverain ponti- 
licat. Dela a se declarer d'nne essence presque divine, il n'y a qu'un pas." 

M. Breholles here quotes the passages in which Frederick 

calls his son Csesarei sanguinis divina proles, and speaks 

of Ins own mother and his own birthplace in the way in which 

we have already spoken. Elsewhere he says: — 

"Ainai Frdderic a. Bemble bien, de son vivani, adore* et divinise' a, pen 

mi in- une dmanation de L'Esprit-Saint. Dans les termesqui servent 

a cxprimer sa - prdmatie religieuso, il j a quelque chose qui tieni alafois 

du '0 ent, qui rappelle le culte personnel impost a leurs 


snjets par les empereurs de l'ancienne Rome et par ies califes fatimites <le 
l'Egypte." * 

Surely this language is stronger than the passages quoted 
will bear out. To us it seems that the actual designs of 
Frederick were not unlike those of Henry the Eighth. We 
forego any comparison between the two men, than whom no 
two men could well have less of likeness to each other. 
Henry was at least a firm believer in his own theological 
system. Frederick, we cannot help thinking, looked on all 
theological systems chiefly as political instruments. But the 
immediate object of each was the same, to bring the spiritual 
power under the control of the temporal, to transfer to the 
King the ecclesiastical supremacy of the Pope. Within his 
own Kingdom of Sicily the position of Frederick must have 
been identical with the position of Henry. If he could do no 
more, he could at least be both Pope and King in his own 
realm. But, as Emperor, he must have at least dreamed of 
a far wider supremacy, even if he gave up any practical hope 
of obtaining it. The Emperor, Lord of the World, might 
dream of establishing a spiritual as well as a temporal 
supremacy over all the realms which were in theory placed 
beneath his superiority. He might deem it really possible to 
establish such a superiority within those realms which still 
retained some measure of connexion with the Empire. The 
result would have been the subjection of Western Europe, or, 
at all events, of three of its most important portions, to the 
deadening yoke of a Caliphate. 

Our remarks have been desultory and imperfect. Such a 
subject as the life and objects of Frederick the Second might 
furnish materials for volumes. We can profess to do little 
more than to call attention to some of the most wonderful 
chapters of European history, and to point to the collection 
of M. Breholles as one of the most wonderful treasure-houses 
of original materials with which any scholar has ever enriched 
historical learning. 

* Was there any Caliph, except Hakem, who imposed on his subjects 
anything which could be strictly called "culti 'personnel t n 




History of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. By John 
Foster Kirk. Loudon : Murray. Yols. I. and II. 1863. 
Vol. III. 1868. 
We welcome with genuine pleasure a narrative of an im- 
portant portion of history by a writer who shows in no small 
degree the possession of real historic power. And we welcome 
it with still greater pleasure when we find that it proceeds 
from an American writer, a countryman of Mr. Prescott and 
Mr. Motley, a writer fully entitled to take his place alongside 
of them, and in some respects perhaps to be preferred to 
either. It is a matter of real satisfaction that so good an 
historical school should be still growing and prospering, and 
that untoward political events have not wholly checked its 
dcvelopement.t A very slight glance at Mr. Kirk's book is 
enough to show that we are dealing with a real historian, that 
we have before us a work of a wholly different kind from the 
countless volumes of superficial talk which are unceasingly 
poured out upon the world under the degraded garb of history. 

* [I reviewed Mr. Kirk's first and second volumes in the National 
Review for April, 1864, and the third in the Fortnightly Review for 
October 1st, 1868. The former article was necessarily without my name, 
and the latter was necessarily with it. But 1 acknowledged the authorship 
of the National article in a note to the Fortnightly article. A certain 
amount of repetition could bardly be helped. J have therefore thrown the 
into "in' continuous Essay, but I have taken care to preserve the 
substance and sentiments of both, especially so far as they regard my 
estimate of Mr. Kirk's book.] 

t [Mr. Kirk wrote, ami I wrote, while the American Civil War was 
going on.] 


Mr. Kirk has his faults both of style and of matter. That 
we do not always come to the same conclusions as he does, in 
one of the most perplexed mazes to be found in the whole 
range of history, is as likely to be our fault as his. But, 
besides this, there are features in Mr. Kirk's style which 
hardly conform to the laws of a pure taste, and portions of 
his matter which hardly conform to the laws of accurate 
reasoning. Still, his merits in both ways, alike as to form 
and as to substance, are real and great. He has studied 
history in its real sources, in the chronicles and documents 
of the time, and in the best modern writers of the various 
nations concerned. His research has been unwearied ; and 
in dealing with his materials, he displays, notwithstanding a 
certain tendency to make the best of his hero, a very con- 
siderable degree of critical power. His narratives of events 
and his general pictures of the time are often of a very high 
order ; it would not be going too far to say that many of 
them are first-rate. In his wider political speculations he is 
less happy. Long disquisitions on matters which hardly bear 
on his subject are needlessly brought in, and they are far from 
being written with the same clearness and power as the narra- 
tive portions of the book. And in his occasional references 
to times earlier than his own immediate subject Mr. Kirk's 
accuracy is certainly not unimpeachable. Besides a few 
strange errors in detail, it is plain that he is not wholly free 
from those popular misconceptions which have perverted the 
whole early history of Germany and France. These are 
serious defects ; but they are defects which are quite over- 
balanced by the sterling excellences of the work, and they 
in no way hinder us from gladly hailing in Mr. Kirk a 
welcome recruit to the small band of real historians. 

In estimating Mr. Kirk's style, it would be unfair not to 
take into account the fact that we are dealing, not with a 
British but with an American writer. We use the word 
British by choice, as best expressing mere geographical and 
political distinctions ; for we trust that Mr. Kirk is not one of 
those whose birth on the other side of the Ocean leads thorn 
to despise the name of Englishmen. American literature 


has a special interest, as bearing on the probable future fate 
of the language which is still common to all men of Eng- 
lish blood in both continents. It is quite clear that good 
writers and speakers in the two countries speak and write 
—and will doubtless long go on to speak and write- 
exactly the same language. The divergences of speech which 
may occasionally be noticed between England and America 
simply arise from the fact that in both countries the language 
is corrupted by bad speakers and writers, and that British 
and American corruptions of speech do not always follow 
the same course. A few local expressions springing out of 
the several wants and circumstances of the two countries, a 
few Avords kept in use in one country after they have become 
obsolete in the other, make hardly any perceptible difference. 
They are only worth speaking of because half-informed people 
often apply the name of Americanisms to expressions which 
have simply dropped out of use in England, or which linger 
only in particular districts or among old-fashioned people. In 
Mr. Kirk's Btyle it is not often that we detect any signs of the 
American origin of his book. Here and there indeed we find 
such \v< >rds as "proclivities," "reliable,"* and the like; but 
these, though American corruptions of the language, have 
become too common among British writers to be marked as 
sure signs of American birth. But the worst of Mr. Kirk's 
defects is that, in some very important points, he does not 
improve as he goes on. In point of style there is a great and 
gradual fall ing-off from the beginning of the first volume to 
the end of the third. Mr. Kirk forms, in this respect, a 
striking contrast to his countryman Mr. Motley. When Mr. 
Motley began his work, he constantly mistook extravagance 
foi eloquence This was shown both in many of his descrip- 
tions and in his trick of giving fantastic — what we may call 
osational — headings to Ins chapters. But Mr. Motley's 
atyle, as his work wenl on, became gradually improved and 
chastened, till in his later volumes, though traces of the old 
Leaven may still be tracked out, they appear only as casual 

I pel p worth noting that seven years ago I looked on these ugly 


blemishes, not seriously interfering with the general merits 
of a clear and forcible diction. Mr. Kirk, on the other hand, 
began far better than he went on. In the early part of his 
m >rk his story is well told ; he writes, especially in his strictly 
narrative portions, at once with clearness and with purity. 
It is only here and there that we stumble on a passage where 
a forced expression, or a confusion of metaphors, might 
offend a refined taste. Take for instance a passage in the 
second volume. The following parable is quite beyond us ; 
indeed, we suspect some confusion in the writer's mind 
between the shaft of a pillar and the shaft of a pit : — 

" The shaft of Saxon liberty, raised high and solid in the time of the 
deepest obscurity, — while the Continental races were still undergoing the 
crushing and rending of a veritable chaos, — had pierced through the super- 
vening layers of the Norman Conquest and of feudalism, incrusting itself 
with glitteiing extraneous decorations, but preserving its simple and 
massive proportions ; and now, in like manner, it towered above the too 
a*piring pretensions of royalty, reared upon other and narrower founda- 
tions "(ii. 339). 

As the work goes on, passages of this sort become thicker on 
the ground. As he warms with his tale, Mr. Kirk begins to 
take a pleasure in ever and anon lashing himself into a certain 
vehemence of language which often rises to the level of 
actual rant. In the third volume he stops at every crisis 
of his narrative to pour forth a page or so of what can be 
called by no name but that of absolute raving. Over the 
death-scene of his hero Mr. Kirk becomes simply frantic. 
He who, when he chooses, can tell a story as well as any man, 
breaks off into that wild spasmodic style whose mildest form 
consists in the writer rigidly turning his back on all the his- 
torical tenses. A scene, than which none more striking can be 
found in the whole range of history, dissolves in Mr. Kirk's 
hand's into page on page of tawdry bombast. " Night ! 
thou art crueller than Day." "Bid his brother, his captive 
nobles, his surviving servants, come." " Let Rene come." 
" Gentle Ke!ne, good and gentle prince, God, we doubt not, hath 
pardoned many a fault of thine for those tender thoughts." 
"Thou art right, Commines." And so on, through several 


pages till the book itself winds up with — " Alas ! 

Alas!" in all the dignity of sensational printing. 

AYhat can have possessed Mr. Kirk to take to this sort of 
thing it is impossible to guess. It certainly is not because he 
cannot do better. This frenzied way of writing is simply put 
on now and then as a kind of holiday garb. In his general 
narrative there is none of it. His battle-pieces are admirable ; 
and, when he chooses, he can moralize without ranting. There 
is something really striking and pathetic when, after de- 
scribing the spoil of Grandson, the wanderings of the three 
great diamonds, the relics still treasured up in the Swiss 
towns, Mr. Kirk goes back to the days of Charles's own 
triumph and hard-heartedness at Dinant and Luttich : — 

" For our own part, while looking at these trophies, or turning over the 
leaves of the time-stained lists in which they are enumerated, we have been 
reminded of other relics and another inventory. The 'little ivory comb,' 
the ' pair of bride's gloves,' the 'agnus enchased with silver,' the ' necklace 
with ten little paternosters of amber,' picked up among the ashes of Dinant, 
and duly entered to the credit of ' my lord of Burgundy '—was there no 
connection between those memorials of humble joy, of modest love, of 
rained homes, and these remains of fallen pride and grandeur? Yes, 
without doubt! though it be one which history, that tracks the diamond 
from hand to hand, is incapable of tracing." 

Perhaps even here a very stern critic might say that Mr. 
Kirk was verging on the sensational, but if this had been the 
extreme point which Mr. Kirk had allowed himself, it would 
have been unreasonable to find fault. Mr. Kirk, in a word, 
can write well, and he constantly does write well. But there 
is for that very reason the less excuse for his ever deliberately 
choosing to write in the wild fashion in which he has written 
tli" last pages of his book. 

'!'•» turn from manner to matter, large parts of the general 
disquisitions contained in the second and third chapters of 
Mr. Kirk's fourth book seem to us wanting both in force and 
in clearness. In many places Mr. Kirk needlessly goes out 
of his \\a\ t'> grapple with earlier writers, as Hallam and 
Macaulay, and that sometimes altogether without ground. 
Tim Mr. Kirk tells us in a note : — 


" We cauiiot help protesting* against what seems to us the most radically- 
false, the most pernicious in the general inferences to he drawn from it, and 
yet the most characteristic — inasmuch as it even runs through his literary 
criticisms — of the paradoxes in which Macaulay loved to indulge. Speaking 
of England in the reign of John, he says : ' Her interest was so directly 
opposed to the interest of her rulers that she had no hope but in their 
errors or misfortunes. The talents and even the virtues of her six first 
French Kings were a curse to her. ThefoUits and vices of the seventh were 
her salvation.'' And so too when he comes to a later period he writes : ' Of 
James the First, as of John, it may he said that if his administration had 
been able and splendid, it would probably have been fatal to our country, 
and that tve owe more to his weaknesses and meannesses than to the wisdom 
and courage of much better sovereigns'" (ii. 355). 

Now Mr. Kirk looks on these words of Lord Macaulay 's 
as contradicting a remark of kis own that the English 
Parliament and nation, in contradistinction to the communes 
and Estates of the Netherlands, " seconded the enterprising 
spirit of their monarchs while asserting and enlarging their 
own constitutional rights." But there is no contradiction 
and no paradox. What Lord Macaulay says and what 
Mr. Kirk says are both perfectly true of different periods 
of English history. Lord Macaulay is speaking of our 
" French Kings," of the first seven Kings after the Con- 
quest. And what he says of them is perfectly true. Eng- 
land had no interest in the aggrandizement of Henry the 
Second in France. For the Duke of Normandy and Aqui- 
taine to strengthen himself at the expense of the King of 
Paris could in no way profit the kingdom which he held as a 
sort of insular independency. The folly of John lost Normandy 
and all his other French possessions except Aquitaine. That 
loss w 7 as the salvation of England. Hitherto England had 
been, like Sardinia and Sicily in later times, the source of 
the highest title, but by no means the most valued possession, 
of her sovereigns. But now England again became the most 

* By the way, we cannot help protesting, in our turn, against Mr. Kirk's 
fashion of speaking of himself as "we" and "us." In a newspaper or 
review there are manifest reasons for the practice, none of which apply to 
a book written by a single avowed author. Such a man should not talk of 
himself more than need be ; but, when he does talk of himself, he should 
say " I " and " me." 


important part of the King of England's dominions. England 
had been a dependency of Anjon ; Aquitaine was now a 
dependency of England. At last a King of England under- 
took a war of aggrandizement in France, from which England 
and English freedom were then in a position to reap great, 
though doubtless only indirect, advantage. All this was the 
direct result of the follies and vices of John. What Lord 
Macaulay says is perfectly true of the reign of John ; what 
Mr. Kirk says is perfectly true of the reign of Edward the 
Third. There is no kind of opposition between the two state- 
ments, and, both in this and in several other places, Mr. Kirk 
need not have gone out of his way to pass censures on Lord 
Macaulay which are quite undeserved. 

We also mentioned occasional inaccuracies and misconcep- 
tions as to earlier times as among the faults of Mr. Kirk's 
book. It is ludicrous to place (i. 288) the saying "Non 
Angli sed angeli " in the mouth of Gregory the Seventh. It 
is hardly less so to call Citeaux (i. 45) the " head of the great 
Carthusian order." And such a passage as the following is 
utterly inaccurate in fact, and still more false in deduction : 

" But the Norman sovereigns of England were not related, at least by 
any close affinity, to the Capetian race. They had acquired their chief 
possessions in France, as they had acquired the English crown, not by grant 
(■r inheritance, but by the power of their arms. They were foreigners and 
open enemies ; their only adherents in France were secret traitors or avowed 
rebels; and they could not, therefore, mask their designs against it under 
the pretext of serving the nation and. reforming the state " (i. 3). 

We suppose that Mr. Kirk is not here thinking of the 
strictly " Norman sovereigns of England," the Conqueror and 
In- sons. It is not likely that he means any King before 
Eenry tin- Second. Hut Henry the Second did not acquire 
In- chief possessions in France I >\ force of arms, but by lawful 
inheritance and marriage : Normandy came from his mother> 
Anjon from lii> Bather, Aquitaine from his wife. He was not 
a foreigner, bul a Frenchman by blood and language; he 
was an open enemy only ;is every powerful ami turbulent 
rassal was an open enemj ; in what sense his "adherents in 


France " were "secret traitors or avowed rebels" we cannot 
in the least understand. It is not likely that Mr. Kirk uses 
the word France in the older sense, the sense in which it is 
opposed to Aquitaine and Normandy ; and it is hard to under- 
stand how a loyal subject and "adherent" of the Duke of Nor- 
mandy or Aquitaine can be called a rebel or a traitor against 
the King of France. It may be — indeed the next paragraph 
makes it probable—that Mr. Kirk intends this description to 
apply, not to Henry the Second and Richard the First, but to 
Edward the Third and Henry the Fifth. But the " Norman 
sovereigns of England" is an odd way of describing the two 
latter princes, and the assertion as to the origin of the 
dominion of the Kings of England in France remains equally 
inaccurate in any case. 

In point of research Mr. Kirk's labours have been in every 
way praiseworthy. He has made diligent use of all printed 
sources, and he has also toiled unweariedly among the manu- 
script archives of the Swiss Cantons ; nor has he neglected 
another object of study, which is quite as worthy of the 
historian's attention as anything recorded by pen and ink. 
He has thoroughly mastered the geographical features of the 
districts where the great events of his history took place. 
Mr. Kirk's geographical minuteness, illustrated as it is by 
careful ground-plans, makes his battle pieces clear, lively, 
and intelligible. We can here speak as something more than 
a mere reader. We cannot pretend to have gone over the 
field of Grandson with the same minuteness as Mr. Kirk has 
done, but we have seen enough of it to be able to bear a 
general testimony to the merit of his description of the siege 
and the battle ; and at the same time we heard enough in 
Switzerland of Mr. Kirk's labours among manuscript sources 
of information to make us put full confidence in whatever 
he professes to have drawn from archives which we have no. 
ourselves examined. 

Putting aside then Mr. Kirk's occasional bursts of extrava- 
gance, which might be simply cut out of his book without 
doing it the least damage, and making some other deductions 


which we shall have to make before we have done, we have 
no hesitation in saying that Mr. Kirk has given us a good, 
clear, and vigorous narrative of the career of Charles the 
Bold, containing much that will be quite new to the English 
reader. Where he breaks down is in failing to give his 
subject the necessary connexion with the general history of 
Europe before and afterwards. Mr. Kirk, who ends his 
history with a frantic ejaculation over his hero's dead body, 
does not even attempt to connect his hero's story with any- 
thing that came after him, and his attempts to connect it with 
anything that went before cannot be called successful. Mr. 
Kirk hardly attempts to trace matters at all further back 
than to the establishment of the princes of the House of 
Valois in the French Duchy of Burgundy, and the few re- 
ferences which he makes to earlier times, or to countries 
beyond the immediate range of his story, show no width or 
accuracy of grasp. He has not, for instance, mastered the 
various meanings and uses of the name Burgundy, of which 
minute inquirers have reckoned up no less than ten. In 
truth it was not likely that Mr. Kirk should make himself 
thoroughly master of this aspect of his subject, because he 
shows throughout his book that he has failed fully to grasp 
the importance of historical geography. Physical and pic- 
turesque geography he is thoroughly master of, as he shows 
1 >y his descriptions of Grandson and Morat. But he has not 
been able fully to emancipate himself from bondage to the 
modern map. Of course he knows that the frontiers of 
France and of Switzerland were widely different then from 
what they are now. But he has not got rid of a sort of super- 
stition which affects many even among people who know the 
tarts — a sort of notion that, even if France, as a matter of fact, 
once bad a narrower frontier than it has at present, still it 
was in the eternal fitness of things that it should some day 
reach to its present frontier, or to a frontier wider still. In 
short, Mr. Kirk lias listened to French babble about natural 
boundaries and the frontier ofthe Bhinc. Now everyone who 
nae mastered historical geography knows that this sort of 


talk is babble and nothing else. There was no more reason 
in the nature of things why Aries or Nancy should bow 
to Paris than there was why Paris should bow to Aries or 
Nancy. 31 r. Kirk does not thoroughly understand the 
utter difference in blood and speech between Gaul north 
and south of the Loire, heightened by utter difference in 
political position between Gaul east and west of the Saone. 
He seems throughout to identify the modern Kingdom of 
France with that ancient monarchy of the Franks which is 
far more truly to be identified with the German Kingdom 
which was dissolved in 1806. Thus, in introducing a really 
beautiful description of the County of Burgundy, lie tells us 

" After a long separation from the Duchy of Burgundy, it again became 
subject to the same rule in the early part of the fourteenth century. It 
was a fief, however, not of France, but of the Empire, though situated 
within the natural boundaries of France, governed by a line of princes 
of French descent, and inhabited by a people who spoke the French 
language " (i. -iT). 

Here Mr. Kirk knows the facts, but he does not fully 
understand them. He is in a manner surprised at finding a 
great fief of the Empire within what, on the modern map, 
are the boundaries of France. As for " natural boundaries," 
they may of course be placed wherever anyone pleases. It 
is quite as easy to call the Elbe the natural boundary of 
France as it is so to speak of the Bhine. It is quite as easy, 
and more true historically, to give that name to the Khone 
and the Saone. The French Counts of Burgundy, one of 
them a reigning King of France, had come in quite lately 
through female succession from the descendants of Fre- 
derick and Beatrice. As for language, the County of Bur- 
gundy, like nearly the whole of the Kingdom of Burgundy, 
spoke a Romance language ; but we greatly doubt its speak- 
ing in those days anything that could fairly be called French. 

In another place we read : 

" Wherever the French race existed, wherever the French language was 
spoken, wherever mountain or river offered a bulwark to the integrity of 
the French soil, there the French monarchv must seek to fix its sway and 

Y 2 


establish its supremacy. Franco, in distinction from all other nations or 
countries, aspires to uniformity and completeness. Her foreign wars, her 
foreign conquests, for the most part Lave had for their object the attain- 
ment or recovery of her ' natural boundaries.' Again and again the tide 
has swollen to those limits, often with a force that carried it beyond them. 
A gain and again it has receded, leaving a margin still to be reclaimed, but 
bearing still the traces of a former flood" (ii. 157). 

Towards the end of this passage Mr. Kirk gets so meta- 
phorical that we hardly know what he means. But what 
on earth is " the French race " ? Why are all sorts of 
Romance dialects to be jumbled together under the name of 
" the French language " ? And Elsass at least is surely not 
peopled by " the French race," nor did its inhabitants ever 
speak the tongue either of oc or of oil. On Mr. Kirk's 
principles we must take to " rectifying " the map of Europe ; 
and a poor look-out it will be for Brussels, Saint Heliers, 
Xcufchatcl, and Geneva. 

So again with regard to Switzerland. Though it is a point 
essential to Mr. Kirk's argument to bear in mind that Vaud 
wits, in Charles the Bold's time, a country absolutely foreign 
to Switzerland, though he constantly points out the fact when- 
ever his narrative rails for it, yet he still carries about with 
him some notion about Helvetia and the Helvetii, as if that 
Celtic tribe had some kind of historical connexion with 
the Swabian cities and districts which united to form the 
( )ld League of High Germany.* Of course he knows these 

* It is most curious to sco how early this sort of confusion arose. 
Valerius Anshelm, who flourished about 1530, speaking of the County 
of Burgundy, says : — " Ein wunderbare Sach, dass die uralten Eydgenossen 
so vil utilise (u-affschalt gesetzt liatten, dass ehe sie davon stahn wolltinl 
[sie] ehe ihr Land, Lyb und Gut gegem Romischen Keiser Julio unab- 
wyslich wagtenl " (Berner-Obronik, i. 145). To call the Helvetii " Uralten 
Eydgenossen" is even more wonderful than when Machiavelli calls the 
Gaulsof I'.niinus Frenchmen ; bul it is almost more amazing still when, in 
ither passage(i. 140), Valerius Anshelm distinctly claims the ancien I 
frontier of the Belvetii as the hereditary frontier of the Confederates: 
"Hat ein glticksame Stadt Bern, mil Bystand ihrer Eydgnossen . . . 
eroberel und gewunnen der wralten Eydynossschaft uralte Landmarch, 
aen-Nidergang reichend — namlich das Land zwuschen dem 
Ld>. rer-Gebirg und dem Rotten, von Erlach und Murteo an bis gan lenf 
an die Bragg," &c. 


things, but he does not fully grasp them ; and through not 
realizing them, he often fails fully to grasp the true position 
of Charles and of those with whom Charles had to deal. He 
of course knows, but he does not seem thoroughly to enter 
into, the purely German position and purely German feeling 
of the Confederates of those days. In the Swiss writers the 
war is always a war of Dutch and Welsh (Tiitschen and 
Wdlschen), and the position of the Confederates as members 
of the Roman Empire and of the German nation is always 
put strongly forward. The "tutsche Nation " is constantly 
heard of in Swiss mouths as something entitled to the deepest 
patriotic affection, and we hear not uncommonly of " das 
heilig Itych," and of " unser Herr der Keiser," as of objects 
to which Swiss loyalty had by no means ceased to be due. 
Now there is no habit of the historical mind so hard to acquire 
in its fulness as this habit of constantly bearing in mind the 
political divisions and the nomenclature of the particular time 
of which one is writing, and of utterly freeing oneself from 
what we have already spoken of as the bondage of the modern 
map. It is by no means always a question of mere know- 
ledge, but rather a question of practically remembering and 
making use of one's knowledge. Many a man who, if directly 
asked for the names and divisions which existed at a par- 
ticular date, would at once give the right answer, will go 
away and use some expression which shows that his know- 
ledge of them is not a real living thing which he constantly 
carries about with him. We do not at all mean that Mr. Kirk 
is a remarkable offender this way, or that his pages are full 
of geographical blunders. It is quite the contrary. Mr. Kirk's 
position as an historian is many degrees above that level. We 
only mention what strikes us as his deficiency in this respect, 
because it influences the general character of his narrative, 
and sometimes hinders him from fully grasping the aspect of 
affairs as it looked in the eyes of a contemporary. 

It follows from what we have said that the earlier part of 
Mr. Kirk's work is the best. The career of Charles the Bold, 


as he points out, naturally falls into two parts, and Mr. 
Kirk is more successful in dealing with the former of the two. 
This twofold division is naturally suggested by Charles's 
twofold position. His career divides itself into a French 
and a German portion. In both alike he is exposed to 
the restless rivalry of Lewis of France; but in the one 
period that rivalry is carried on openly within the French 
territory, while in the second stage the crafty King finds 
the means to deal far more effectual blows through the 
agency of Teutonic hands. That Charles should thus play a 
part in the affairs of both countries naturally followed from 
his position as at once a French prince and a Prince of 
the Empire; but it is certainly remarkable that his two 
spheres of action can be thus mapped out with almost 
as much chronological as geographical precision. The 
position of Charles was a very peculiar one ; it requires a 
successful shaking-off of modern notions fully to take in what 
it was. He held the rank of one of the first princes in 
Europe without being a King, and without possessing an 
inch of ground for which he did not owe service to some 
superior lord. And, more than this, he did not owe service 
to one lord only. The phrase of " Great Powers " had not 
been invented in the fifteenth century ; but there can be no 
doubt that, if it had been, the Duke of Burgundy would have 
ranked among the foremost of them. He was, in actual 
strength, the equal of his royal neighbour to the west, and 
far more than the equal of his Imperial neighbour to the 
east. Yet for every inch of his territories he owed a vassal's 
duty to one or other of them. Placed on the borders of 
France and the Empire, some of his territories were held of 
the Umpire iiud some of the French Crown. Charles, Duke 
<it Burgundy, Count of Flanders and Artois, was a vassal of 
France; bul diaries, Duke of Brabant, Count of Burgundy, 
Holland, and a dozen other duchies and counties, held his 
dominions as a vassal of ( 'a'sar. His dominions were large in 
positive extent, and they were valuable out of all proportion 
to their extent. No other prince in Europe was the direct 


sovereign of so many rich and flourishing cities, rendered still 
more rich and flourishing through the long and, in the main, 
peaceful administration of his father. The cities of the 
Netherlands were incomparably greater and more prosperous 
than those of France or England ; and, though they enjoyed 
large municipal privileges, they were not; like those ol 
Germany, independent commonwealths, acknowledging only 
an external suzerain in their nominal lord. Other parts of 
his dominions, the Duchy of Burgundy especially, were as 
rich in men as Flanders was rich in money. So far the 
Duke of Burgundy had some great advantages over every 
other prince of his time. But, on the other hand, his 
dominions were further removed than those of any prince in 
Europe from forming a compact whole. He was not King 
of one kingdom, but Duke, Count, and Lord of innumer- 
able duchies, counties, and lordships, acquired by different 
means, held by different titles and of different overlords, 
speaking different languages, subject to different laws, trans- 
mitted according to different rules of succession, and subject 
to possible escheat to different suzerains. These various terri- 
tories, moreover, had as little geographical as they had 
political connexion. They lay in two large masses, the two 
Burgundies forming one and the Low Countries forming the 
other, so that their common master could not go from one 
of his capitals to another without passing through a foreign 
territory. And, even within these two great masses, there 
were portions of territory intersecting the ducal dominions 
which there was no hope of annexing by fair means. The 
dominions of a neighbouring Duke or Count might be 
acquired by marriage, by purchase, by exchange, by various 
means short of open robbery. But the dominions of the 
Free Cities and of the ecclesiastical princes were in their own 
nature exempt from any such processes. If the Duke of 
Burgundy became also Duke of Brabant, the inhabitants 
simply passed from one line of princes to another ; no change 
was involved in their laws or in their form of government. 
But, as Mr. Kirk well points out, the Bishoprick of Luttich 


could never pass by marriage, inheritance, forfeiture, or 
purchase. Just as little could the Free Imperial City of 
Besancon. The Duke whose dominions hemmed them in 
could win them only by sheer undisguised conquest, a con- 
quest too which must necessarily change the whole frame- 
work of their government. The rights of princely govern- 
ment were in no way affected by the transfer, even the 
violent transfer, of a Duchy from one Duke to another ; but 
the rights of the Church in one case, and the rights of civic 
freedom in the other, would have been utterly trampled 
under foot by the annexation of a Bishopric 1 .; or a Free City. 
Charles too, lord of so many lordships, was also close'y con- 
nected with many royal houses. In France he was not only 
the first feudatory of the kingdom, the Dean of the Peers of 
France ; he was also a prince of the blood royal, with no 
great number of lives between him and the Crown. On his 
mother's side he claimed descent from the royal houses of 
England and Portugal : he closely identified himself with 
England ; he spoke our language ; he played an active 
part in our politics; he seems to have cherished a hope, one 
perhaps not wholly unreasonable, that, among the revolutions 
and disputed successions of our country, the extinction of 
both the contending houses might at last place the island 
crown upon his own brow. Looking to his eastern frontier, 
1 1 ' the states which he held of the Frnpire, he was beyond all 
comparison the most powerful of the Imperial feudatories. 
'1 lie next election might place him upon the throne of the 
Caesars, where he would be able to reign after a very different 
- .rt from the feeble Austrian whom he aspired to succeed or 
to displace. Or, failing of any existing crown, he might 
dream of having a crown called out of oblivion for his special 
benefit. Burgundy might again give its name to a King- 
dom, and his scattered duchies and lordships might be firmly 
welded together under a royal sceptre. Perhaps no man 
ever had >■> many dreams, dreams which in any one else 
would have been extravagant, naturally suggested to him by 
tin- position in which he found himself by inheritance. 


And now what sort of man was he who inherited so much, 
and whose inheritance prompted him to strive after so much 
more ? We wish to speak of him as he was in his better 
days ; towards the end of his days the effect of unexpected 
misfortunes darkened all his faults, even if it did not actually 
touch his reason. Mr. Kirk is a biographer, and, as such, 
he is bound by a sort of feudal tenure to " rehabilitate," as 
the cant word is, the lord under whom he takes service. We 
do not at all blame him for trying to make out the best case 
he can for his hero ; indeed we can go much further, and 
say that, in a great degree, he successfully makes out his 
case. Though he is zealous, he is by no means extravagant 
on behalf of Charles. Though he holds, and we think with 
reason, that Charles has commonly had less than justice done 
to him, he by no means sets him up as a perfect model. He 
rates both his abilities and his character higher than they are 
commonly rated, but he does not claim for him any exalted 
genius, neither does he undertake to be the apologist of all 
his actions. He is satisfied with showing that a man who 
played an important part in an important time was neither 
the brute nor the fool that he has been described both by 
partizan chroniclers and by modern romance-writers. Even 
in the point where we see most reason to differ from Mr. 
Kirk, we have little to object to as far as regards Charles 
himself. We shall presently see that, in estimating the 
causes of the war between Charles and the Swiss, Mr. Kirk 
lays the whole blame upon the Confederates, and represents 
the Duke of Burgundy as something like an injured victim. 
Allowing for a little natural exaggeration, we think Mr. 
Kirk is fairly successful in his justification of Charles; wo 
do not think him equally successful in his inculpation of the 

Charles was perhaps unlucky in the age in which he lived ; 
he was certainly unlucky in the predecessor whom he suc- 
ceeded and in the rival against whom he had to struggle. It 
may be, as Mr. Kirk says, that he was better iitted for an 
earlier age than that in which he lived ; it is certain that ho 


was quite unfit either to succeed Philip the Good or to con- 
tend against Lewis the Eleventh. One can have no hesita- 
tion in saying that Charles was morally a better man thau his 
father. He had greater private virtues, and he was certainly 
not stained with greater public crimes. Yet Philip passed 
with unusual prosperity and reputation through a reign of 
unusual length, while the career of Charles was short and 
stormy, and he left an evil memory behind him. Philip, pro- 
fligate as a man and unprincipled as a ruler, was still the 
Good Duke, who lived beloved and died regretted by his 
subjects. Charles, chaste and temperate in his private life, 
and with a nearer approach to justice and good faith in his 
public dealings than most princes of his time, was hated even 
by his own soldiers, and died unlamented by any one.* As 
in many other men, the virtues and the vices of Charles were 
closely linked together. He knew no mercy either for him- 
self or for anybody else. Austere in his personal morals and a 
strict avenger of vice in others, he probably made himself 
enemies by his very virtues, where a little genial profligacy 
might have made him friends. His home government was 
strictly just ; his ear was open to the meanest petitioner, and 
he was ready to send the noblest offender to the scaffold. 
But such stern justice was not the way to make himself 
popular in those days. A justice which knows not how to 
yield or to forgive is hardly suited for fallible man in any age, 
and in that age Charles sometimes drew blame upon himself 
by acts which we should now look on as crowning him with 
honour. His inexorable justice refused to listen to any en- 
treaties for the life of a gallant young noble f who had mur- 

* < lliarles, to say the least, never became a national hero anywhere. The 
writers of the sixteenth century, who compiled their chronicles within his 
dominions and inscribed tlirm to his descendants, Oudegherst, Pontus 
II. uterus, his copyist Ilaneus, and the like, speak of him without any sort 
of enthusiasm ; indeed, they are full of those views of his character and 
actions which Mr. K irk strongly, and often truly, denounces as popular 

t s«r the story of the Bastard of Hamaide in Barante, Dues de Bour- 
. ne, x. 116; Kirk i. 462. The better-known tale told by Pontus 


dered a man of lower degree. In this we look on him as 
simply discharging the first duty of a sovereign ; in his own 
age the execution seemed to men of all ranks to be an act of 
remorseless cruelty. In short, Charles, as a civil ruler, prac- 
tised none of the arts by which much worse rulers have often 
made themselves beloved. He was chary of gifts, of praise, 
of common courtesy. No wonder then that so many of his 
servants forsook him for a prince who at least knew how to 
appreciate and to reward their services. And what Charles 
was as a ruler he was even more conspicuously as a captain. 
In warfare his discipline was terrible ; he imposed indeed no 
hardship on the lowest sentinel which he did not equally im- 
pose upon himself ; but the commander who had no kind word 
for any one, and a heavy punishment for the slightest offence, 
did not go the way to win the love of his soldiers. His 
cruelty towards Dinant and Luttich did not greatly exceed — 
in some respects it did not equal — the ordinary cruelty of the 
age ; but the cold and quasi-judicial severity with which he 
planned the work of destruction is almost more repulsive than 
the familiar horrors of the storm and the sack. It was his 
utter want of sympathy with mankind which made Charles 
the Bold hated, while really worse men have been beloved. 
The ambition of Philip the Good was quite as unprincipled 
as that of his son, but it was more moderate, and kept more 
carefully within the bounds of possibility. The means by 
which he gained large portions of his dominions, Holland 
and Hennegau especially, were perhaps more blameworthy 
than anything in the career of Charles, and in particular 
acts of cruelty and in violent outbursts of wrath there was 
little to choose between father and son. But Philip's ambi- 
tion was satisfied with now and then seizing a province or two 
which came conveniently within his grasp ; he did not keep 
the world constantly in commotion ; he had no longing after 

Heuterus (Rerum Burgundiacarum lil>. v. cap. 5), and worked up into the 
story of Rhynsault and Sapphira in the Spectator, whether true or false, 
is at least quite in character. 


royal or Imperial crowns, and indeed refused them when they 
came in his way; his rule was on the whole peaceful and 
beneficent, and his very annexations, when they were once 
made, secured large districts from the horrors of border 
warfare. But Charles was always planning something, and 
the world was always wondering what he might be planning. 
He attacked and annexed so widely that it was no wonder 
if even those whom he had no mind to attack deemed it 
necessary to stand ready for him. His loftiest flights of 
ambition were far from bein^ so wild and reckless as thev are 
commonly represented ; his dream of a new Burgundian 
Kingdom was far from irrational ; still less was there any- 
thing monstrous either in a great French prince aspiring to 
a paramount influence in France, or in a great German prince 
aspiring to the Crown of the Empire. But the misfortune of 
( liailts was that he was always aspiring after something ; he 
was always grasping at something which he had not, instead 
of enjoying what he had. Neither his own subjects nor 
strangers were allowed a moment's peace : wars with France, 
wars with Luttich, G elders annexed, Elsass purchased, Xeuss 
In sieged, Lorraine conquered, Provence bargained for, were 
enough to keep the whole world in commotion. The ten 
years of Charles's reign are as rich in events as the forty- 
eight years of his father. 

Mr. Kirk is fond of enlarging on Charles's good faith, and, 
for a prince of the fifteenth century, the praise is not wholly 
undeserved. As compared with the contemporary Kings of 
England and France, the Duke of Burgundy may fairly pass 
foT a man of his word.* He certainly did notopenly trample 
on oaths and obligations like Edward the Fourth, nor did he 
rairy on a systematic trade of secret intrigue like Lewis the 
Eleventh. Even in the affair of Peronne, to which Mr. Kirk 
frequently points as an exception to Charles's general straight- 
forwardness, there Beems to have been no deliberate treachery 
on Charles's part, though there certainly was a breach in 

* "Quod numquam aim a fecerat, rupta" fide," says Heater (liv. v. c. 12), 
of the execution of the prisoners al Grandson. 


words of the safe-conduct which he had given to Lewis. 
The King sought an interview of his own accord ; it was to 
take place in the then Burgundian town of Leronne. The 
Duke gave the King a safe-conduct, notwithstanding anything 
which had happened or might happen, ^'liile Lewis was 
at l'eronne, Charles discovered, or believed that he had dis- 
covered, evidence that the Kiug was plotting with the revolted 
people of Liittich. Charles then kept him as a prisoner 
till he had signed an unfavourable treaty, and further obliged 
him to accompany him on his campaign against Liittich, and 
to witness and take a part in the utter overthrow of his allies. 
Here was undoubtedly a breach of an engagement : accord- 
ing to the letter of the bond, Charles should have taken Lewis 
safe back into his own dominions, and should have declared 
war and pursued him the moment he had crossed the frontier. 
But, setting aside the literal breach of faith, to deal with 
Lewis as he did, to humble him before all the world, to make 
him follow where he was most unwilling to go, was quite in 
character with the stern and ostentatious justice of Charles. 
As a mere breach of faith, it was a light matter compared 
with the everyday career of Lewis himself. But what shocked 
the feeling of the time was for a vassal to put his suzerain 
lord under personal duress. To rebel against such a lord and 
make war upon him was an ordinary business; but for a Duke 
of Burgundy to make a King of France his prisoner was a 
breach of all feudal reverence, a sacrilegious invasion of the 
sanctity of royalty, which carried men's minds back to a deed 
of treason more than five hundred years old.* We cannot 
look upon this business at Peronne as being morally of so deep 
a dye as the long course of insincerity pursued by Charles 
with regard to the marriage of his daughter. It is clear that 
he was possessed with a strong and not very intelligible dread 

* As Comines says (liv. ii. c. 7), " Le Roy se voyoit lo^6 rasibus d'une 
OTosse tour, oil un Comte de Yennandois fit mount un sein predecesseur 


Roy de France." The allusion is to the two imprisonments of Charles the 
Simple at Peronne (928-9) hy Count Hubert of Vermandois. — See Richer, 
lib. i. c. 40,54; Flodoard in anno; Palgrave, Normandy and England, 
ii. 93. 


of a son-in-law in any shape. Like many other princes, he 
shrank from the notion of a successor ; he shrank especially 
from a successor who would not be one of his own blood, but the 
husband of his daughter, one who most likely would seek in 
her marriage and his affinity nothing but stepping-stones to 
the ducal or royal crown of Burgundy. So far one can enter 
into the feeling ; but it is clear that Charles first carried it to 
a morbid extent, and then made use of it for a disingenuous 
political purpose. He held out hopes of his daughter's hand to 
every prince whom he wished for the moment to attach to his 
interests, without the least serious intention of bestowing her 
upon any of them. Mary was used as the bait for Charles of 
Guienne, for Nicolas of Calabria, for Maximilian of Austria. 
Now this, though it might serve an immediate end, was a 
base and selfish policy, which could not fail to leave, as in the 
end it did leave, both his daughter and his dominions without 
any lawful or acknowledged protector. The feelings alike 
of a father and a sovereign should have made Charles over- 
come his dread of an acknowledged successor, rather than 
rim the risk of leaving a young girl to grapple unprotected 
with the turbulent people of Flanders and with such a 
neighbour as Lewis the Eleventh. It is here, we think, 
rather than in his formal breach of faith at Peronne, that we 
should look for the most marked exception to that general 
character for good faith and sincerity which is claimed for 
Charles by his biographer. It is certain that he piqued him- 
self upon such a character, and that his conduct was on the 
whole not inconsistent with it. The worst deeds of his later 
career, his treatment of the Princes of Lorraine and Wiir- 
ti lulling, his unprovoked attack on Neuss, his cruelties after 
the loss of Llsass, were deeds of open violence rather than of 
bad faith.. Through the whole of his dealings witli Austria 
ami Switzerland there runs a vein of conscious sincerity, a 
feeling that his own straightforwardness was not met with 
equal straightforwardness on the part of those with whom he 

ha<l to deal. 

Whcrr then Charles failed was that ho had neither the 


moral nor the intellectual qualities which alone could have 
enabled him to carry out the great schemes which he was 
ever planning. Success has often been the lot of brave, 
frank, and open-hearted princes, who have carried everything 
before them, and who have won hearts as well as cities by 
storm. Sometimes again it has fallen to the lot of a cold, 
crafty, secret plotter, like Charles's own rival and opposite. 
The gallant, genial, Bene of Lorraine won the love of sub- 
jects and allies, and recovered the dominions which Charles 
had stolen from him. Lewis, from his den at Plessis, esta- 
blished his power over all France ; he extended the bounds of 
France by two great provinces, and permanently attached 
the stout pikes and halberts of Switzerland to his interest. 
But Charles the Bold, always planning schemes which needed 
the genius and opportunities of Charles the Great, was doomed 
to failure in the nature of things. A prince, just, it may be, 
and truthful, but harsh and pitiless, who never made a friend 
public or private, whose very virtues were more repulsive 
than other men's vices, who displayed no single sign of deep 
or enlarged policy, but whose whole career was one simple 
embodiment of military force in its least amiable form, — such 
a prince was not the man to found an empire ; he was the 
very man to lose the dominions which he had himself 
inherited and conquered. 

And now we turn from the character of the man to the 
events in which he was the actor or the instrument. The 
history of Charles is a history of the highest and most varied 
interest. The tale, as a mere tale, as a narrative of personal 
adventure and a display of personal character, is one of the 
most attractive in European history. As such it has been 
chosen by Scott as the material for two of his novels, one of 
which, if not absolutely one of his masterpieces, at any rate 
ranks high among his writings. It is probably from Quentin 
Durward that most English readers have drawn their ideas 
of Lewis the Eleventh and of Charles the Bold ; some may 
even have drawn their main ideas of the fights of Grandson, 


Morat, and Nancy from the hurried narrative in Anne of 
Geierstein. In fact a nobler subject, whether for romance 
or poetry or tragedy, can hardly be conceived than the exalta- 
tion and the fall of the renowned Burgundian Duke. But 
to the historian the fate of Charles and his Duchy has an 
interest which is far higher and wider than this. Chrono 
logically and geographically alike, Charles and his Duchy 
t'i irm the great barrier, or the great connecting link, which- 
ever we choose to call it, between the main divisions of 
European history and European geography. The Dukes of 
Burgundy of the House of Valois form a sort of bridge be- 
tween the latter Middle Age and the period of the Eenaissance 
and the Reformation. They connect those two periods by 
forming the kernel of the vast dominion of that Austrian 
House to which their inheritance fell, and which, mainly by 
virtue of that inheritance, fills such a space in the history of 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centimes. But the dominions 
of the Burgimdian Dukes hold a still higher historical position. 
They may be said to bind together the whole of European 
history for the last thousand years. From the ninth century 
to the nineteenth, the politics of Europe have largely gathered 
round the rivalry between the Eastern and the Western 
Kingdoms — in modern language, between Germany and 
France. From the ninth century to the nineteenth, a sue- 
cession of efforts have been made to establish, in one shape 
or another, a middle state between the two. Over and over 
again during that long period have men striven to make the 
whole or some portion of the frontier lands stretching from 
the mouth of the Khine to the mouth of the Khone into an 
independent barrier state. The first expression of the idea 
is to be seen in the Kingdom of Lothar, the grandson of 
Charles the Great, a kingdom of which Provence and the 
Netherlands were alike portions. The neutralizations, or 
attempted neutralizations, of Switzerland, Savoy, Belgium, 
and Luzelburg, have been the feebler contributions of the 
nineteenth century to the same work. Meanwhile, various 
Kingdoms and Duchies of Burgundy and Lorraine have risen 


and fallen, all of thern, knowingly or unknowingly, aiming 
at the same European object. That object was never more 
distinctly aimed at, and it never seemed nearer to its accom- 
plishment, than when Charles the Bold actually reigned 
from the Zuyder Zee to the Lake of Keufchatel, and was 
not without hopes of extending his frontier to the Gulf of 

To understand his position, to understand the position of 
the land over which he ruled, it is not needful to go back to 
any of the uses of the Burgundian name earlier than the divi- 
sion of the Empire in 888. The old Lotharingia of forty years 
earlier, the narrow strip reaching from the German Ocean to 
the Mediterranean, had then ceased to exist as a separate 
state. Its northern portion had become the later Lotharingia, 
that border land between the Eastern and Western King- 
doms, which for a hundred years formed an endlefs subject 
of dispute between them. Its southern portion had become 
what our Old-English Chroniclers emphatically call the 
"middle-rice" — the Middle Kingdom, the state placed be- 
tween France, Germany, and Italy. This is that Burgundy, 
sometimes forming one kingdom, sometimes two, which was at 
last annexed to the Empire, and of which Aries was the capital, 
where those Emperors who chose to go through a some- 
what empty ceremony took the crown of their Burgundian 
Kingdom.* This kingdom took in the County Palatine of 
Burgundy, better known as Franche Comte, which, till the 
days of Lewis the Fourteenth, remained a fief of the Empire. 
It did not take in the Duchy of Burgundy, the Duchy of 
which Dijon was the capital, which was always a fief of the 
Crown of France. Now there can be no doubt that Charles, 
Duke of the French Duchy, Count of the Imperial Palatinate, 
Duke, by inheritance, of the Lower Lorraine (or Brabant), 
Duke, by conquest, of the Upper Lorraine, had always before 
his eyes the memory of these earlier Burgundian and Lothar- 
ingian kingdoms. Holding, as he did, parts of old Lotharingia 
and parts of old Burgundy, there can be no doubt that he 

* Sec almve, p. 180. 


aimed at the re-establishment of a great Middle Kingdom, 
which should take in all that had ever been Burgundian or 
Lotharingian ground. He aimed, in short, as others have 
aimed before and since, at the formation of a state which 
should hold a central position between France, Germany, and 
Italy — a state which should discharge, with infinitely greater 
strength, all the duties which our own age has endeavoured 
to throw on Switzerland, Belgium, and Savoy. 

Now Mr. Kirk is by no means wholly blind to this peculiar 
aspect of his hero, an aspect which brings him into so remark- 
able a connexion with times long before him and with times 
long after him. But it is not present to his mind in any life- 
like way ; it is not present as it would be to one who was really 
master of European history as a whole. In our way of looking 
at it, the career of Charles the Bold forms the central point 
in the history of a thousand years, and it cannot be worthily 
treated without constantly looking both forwards and back- 
w ;i ids. There can be no doubt that, through the whole latter 
part of Charles's reign, his object was thus to extend his 
dominions, and to reign as a Burgundian King, the peer of 
either of his two overlords to the right and left of him. 
This view seems to us to explain the whole of his latter 
policy. It seems also to explain the mixture of dread and 
wonder with which he was looked on, and the restless appre- 
hensions which never ceased to work among all who felt that 
they were possibly marked out for annexation. 

'! his twofold position of Charles, as at once a French and a 
German Prince, forms the key to his history. "When he had 
turned away his thoughts from his schemes of pre-eminence 
within tht; French Kingdom, the creation of such a middle 
state as we have spoken of was a natural form for his ambi- 
tion to take His schemes of this kind form the great subject 
of tin' second of the two groat divisions of his history. The 
second division then is undoubtedly the more important, but 
the former i- l>\ Ear the better known, it has the greatadvan- 
of being recorded by one of the few mediaeval writers — 
it Philip of Comines is to count as a mediaeval writer — who 


are familiar to many who are not specially given to mediaeval 
studies. It is a plain straightforward tale, about which there 
is a little difficulty or controversy, and it is so constantly con- 
nected with the history of our own country as to have special 
attractions for the English student. The German career of 
Charles holds a very different position. One or two facts in 
it, at least the names of one or two great battles, are familiar 
to the whole world. Every one can point the moral how the 
rash and proud Duke was overthrown by the despised Switzer 
at Grandson, at Morat, and at Nancy. But the real character 
and causes of the war are, for the most part, completely 
unknown or utterly misrepresented. In fact, no part of his- 
tory is more thoroughly perplexing than this : the original 
sources are endless ; the inferences made from them by later 
writers are utterly contradictory ; and neither the original 
sources nor their modern commentators are at all familiar to 
English students in general. We think then that we shall 
be doing our readers more service if we pass lightly 
over the earlier and better known years of Charles's history, 
and give as much space as we can to the perplexing- 
story of his relations towards Switzerland, Austria, and 
the Empire. 

Each of the two positions which were held by Charles 
assumes special importance in one of the two great divisions 
of his career. He succeeded to the ducal crown in 14G7 ; but 
his practical reign may be dated from a point at least two 
years earlier, when the old age and sickness of Philip threw 
the chief management of affairs into his hands. What we 
have called his French career lasts from this point till 1 172. 
In these years, both before and after the death of his father, 
he appears mainly as a French Prince. His main policy is 
to maintain and increase that predominance in French politics 
which had been gained by his father. During this period, 
with the single exception of his wars with Liittich, his field 
of action lies almost wholly within the Kingdom of France ; 
and Liittich, though it lay within the Empire, had at this 
time a closer practical connexion with France than with 

z 2 


Germany. Charles's chief French dominions were the Duchy 
of Burgundy and the Counties of Artois and Flanders, the 
last being strictly a French fief, though circumstances have 
always tended to unite that province, together with some of 
its neighbours, into a system of their own, distinct alike from 
France and from Germany. There was also that fluctuating 
territory in Picardy, the towns on the Somme, so often 
pledged, recovered, ceded, and conquered within the space 
of so few years. These possessions made Charles the most 
powerful of French princes, to say nothing of the fiefs 
beyond the Kingdom which helped to make him well nigh 
the most powerful of European princes. As a French prince, 
he joined with other French princes to put limits on the 
power of the Crown, and to divide the Kingdom into great 
feudal holdings, as nearly independent as might be of the 
common overlord. As a French prince, he played his part in 
the War of the Public Weal, and insisted, as a main object 
of his policy, on the establishment of the King's brother as 
an all but independent Duke of Normandy. The object of 
Lewis was to make France a compact monarchy ; the object 
of Charles and his fellows was to keep France as nearly as 
might be in the same state as Germany. But, when the 
other French princes had been gradually conquered, won 
over, or got rid of in some way or other by the crafty policy 
of Lewis, Charles remained no longer the chief of a coalition 
of French princes, but the personal rival, the deadly enemy, 
of the French King. 

In the second part of his life his objects were wholly different. 
His looks won 'now turned eastward and southward, or, if they 
were turned westward,it was with quite different aims from those 
with which he wont forth to fight at Montlhery. His object 
now was,notto gain a paramount in lluence within the Kingdom 
of Prance, not to weaken the Kronen monarch, in the character 
of ono of its rassals, but to throw it into the shade, to dis- 
member, perhaps to conquer, it in the character of a foreign 
sovereign. For this end probably, more than for any other 
Charles sought to bo King of t ho Romans, King of Burgundy, 


King of England. For this end he strove to gather together 
province after province, so as to form his scattered territories 
into a kingdom greater than that of France, a kingdom ex- 
ternal and antagonistic to France. As he had found that the 
French monarchy was too strong for him in bis character of 
a French vassal, he -would no longer be a Frenchman at all. 
To curb and weaken the now hostile and foreign realm, he 
would form a state which should altogether hem it in from 
the North Sea to the Mediterranean. That is to say, he would 
call again into being that Middle Kingdom, call it Burgundy 
or Lorraine* as we will, which he had abetter chance of calling 
into being than any man before or since. And undoubtedly 
it would have been for the permanent interest of Europe if 
he had succeeded in his attempt. It would be one of the 
greatest of political blessings if a Duke or King of Burgundy or 
Lorraine could suddenly appear now.t A strong independent 
power standing in the gap between France and Germany! 
would release the world from many difficulties, and would 
insure the world against many dangers. It would in fact 
accomplish, in a much more thorough-going way, the objects 
which modern statesmen have tried to accomplish by guaran- 
teeing the neutrality of the smaller states on the same border. 
How vain such guaranties are the experience of the last few 
years has taught us. But the kingdom which Charles dreamed 
of, had it been held together long enough to acquire any 
consistency, would have needed no guaranty, but would have 

* Charles, of course, aimed at restoring a Kingdom of Burgundy, not of 
Lorraine ; but the extent of the dominions which he either actually pos- 
sessed, or is believed to have aimed at, woidd answer very nearly to the 
ancient Kingdom of Lorraine, while it would far surpass the extent of any 
of the successive Kingdoms of Burgundy, of none of which did the Nether- 
lands form any part. In fact, the County of Burgundy is the only ground 
common to Charles's actual dominions and to the later Burgundian 
Kingdom. His dominions in Picardy and Elsass lay beyond the limits 
of either Burgundy or Lorraine in any sense. 

t [In 1871 such a power would come too late, but it might have been 
useful in 1870.] 

X " Ut, inter Germanos Francosque mediusimperans, utrisque terrorem 
incuteret." — Heuter, lib. v. c. 11. 


stood by its own strength. Such a state would indeed have 
had two great points of weakness, its enormous extent of 
frontier* and the heterogeneous character of its population. 
But German and Italian neighbours would hardly have been 
more dangerous to Burgundy than they have been to France, 
and such a Burgimdy would have been far better able to 
resist the aggressions of France than Germany and Italy 
have been.j The population would certainly have been made 
up of very discordant elements, but they would have been 
less discordant than the elements to be found in the modern 
" empire " of Austria, and they would have had a common 
interest in a way in which the subjects of Austria have not. 
Perhaps indeed a common government and a common interest 
might in course of time have fused them together as closely 
as the equally discordant elements in modern Switzerland 
have been fused together. Anyhow, the great dream of 
Charles, the formation of a barrier power between France 
and Germany, is one which, if it only could be carried out, 
would be most desirable for Europe to have carried out. 
Statesmen of a much later age than Charles the Bold have 
dreamed of the Kingdom of Burgundy as the needful counter- 
poise to tile power of France. But though the creation of 
such a state would be highly desirable now, it does not follow 
that is was desirable then, still less that any prince or people 
of those days could be expected to see that it was desirable. 
With the map of Europe now before us, it seems madness in 
Switzerland, or in any other small and independent state, to 
League itself with France and Austria to destroy a Duke of 
Burgundy. That is to say, it is very easy to be a Prometheus 
after the fact. But neither princes nor commonwealths can be 
expected to look on so many centuries before them. Austria 
was in those days the Least threatening of all powers. Its 
sovereigns were small German Dukes, who had much ado 

* On tbi point Bee Johannes von Miiller, b. iv. c. 8, note 469. [The 
extent of frontier would not have been greater than thai of Prussia up to 

■nil Hi mi lit lie used in two opposite ways.] 
t [In I d oot foresee L870.] 


to keep their own small dominions together. In fact, the 
Duke of Austria with whom we have to do was only a titular 
Duke of Austria ; his capital was not Vienna, but Innsbruck ; 
his dominions consisted of the county of Tyrol and the 
Swabian and Alsatian lordships of his house. And it would 
have been only by a miraculous foresight of which history 
gives few examples that a citizen of Switzerland or of any 
other country could have perceived that France was a power 
more really dangerous to the liberties of Europe than Bur- 
gundy was. Lewis seemed to have quite enough to do to 
maintain his power in his own kingdom, while Charles seemed 
to ride through the whole world, going forth conquering and 
to conquer. In this case, as in all others, we must try to 
throw ourselves into the position of the times, and not to 
judge of everything according to the notions of our own age. 
The warning is important, because by some writers,* though not 
very conspicuously by Mr. Kirk, it is made part of the case 
against the Confederates that they helped to destroy a power 
which was really useful to them as a check upon France. 
This, as we have said, is perfectly true in a modern European 
point of view ; but the Swiss of the fifteenth century could 
not see with the eyes of the nineteenth century. And, valuable 
as a Kingdom of Burgundy would have been in an European 
point of view, it is by no means clear that it would have been 
equally valuable in a Swiss point of view. Indeed, it is hard 
to see how its existence could have been consistent with the 
retention of Swiss independence in any shape. 

We have thus reached that later portion of Charles's life 
which brings him mainly into contact with the Empire, both 
in the person of its head and in those of many of its members. 
His dealings now lie mainly with Lorraine and Savoy, with 
Koln, Elsass, and Austria, with the Old League of High 
Germanv, and with Caesar Augustus himself. His relations 
to his Imperial overlord were such as might be looked for 
wdien he had to deal with a prince who lived politically from 
hand to mouth, like the Emperor Frederick the Third. The 

* As, for instance, in the notes of De la Harpe in the French translation 
of Miiller's History of Switzerland. 

3 14 CHARLES THE BOLD. [Essay 

Confederates were at one moment ordered, at another moment 
they were forbidden, on their allegiance as members of the 
Empire, to march against a prince who was at one moment 
proclaimed as the chief enemy of the German nation, and 
who at another moment seemed marked out as the destined 
chief of Germany and the Empire. The unwise and dis- 
honourable policy which Charles followed with regard to the 
marriage of his daughter is one main feature of this period. 
The hand of Mary of Burgundy was promised in succession 
to every prince whom such a promise might make useful for 
a moment, and seemingly without any serious purpose of ever 
really bestowing it on any of them. But it was towards the 
formation of the Middle Kingdom that everything tended 
throughout Charles's later years. That kingdom would no 
doubt have been, in Charles's hands, directly designed as a 
rival and an enemy to France. Its relations towards Germany 
were less certain. There is little doubt that Charles at one 
time aimed at the Imperial Crown ; there is no doubt at all 
as to his expectations of receiving a crown of some sort or 
other from the hands of the Emperor. Among the many 
striking and awful pictures which the history of Charles con- 
tains, among heavy blows dealt and heavy blows received, 
the tale is relieved by at least two remarkable touches of the 
ludicrous. We can hardly help laughing over the field of 
Montlhery, over the two hosts, each of which fancied itself 
beaten, and over the tall thistles which bore so terrible a 
likeness to hostile spears. We laugh still more heartily 
when ( 'harles has got everything ready for his coronation at 
Trier, and when the Lord of the World suddenly decamps in 
the night, leaving the expectant king of Burgundy, or 
Lorraine, or whatever his kingdom was to be, to go back a 
mere Duke as he came. One thing however is shown by the 
willingness of Charles to accept a crown at the hands of the 
Emperor. A crown so received could only have been a vassal 
crown. A King of Burgundy so crowned, more than the 
rival of an Emperor in real power, would still have been, in 
formal rank, the peer only of a King of Bohemia, not of a 
King of France or England. With such a vassal crown 


Charles no doubt hoped some day to unite the Imperial 
diadem itself. But it is plain that at this stage of his life, 
vassalage to the Empire was less irksome to Charles's mind 
than vassalage to France. Indeed, he seems to have quite 
cast away the thought that he was not only a vassal of France, 
but by descent a Frenchman. He fell back on his ancestry 
by the female line, and instead of being French he would 
rather be Portuguese on the strength of his mother, or 
English on the strength of his grandmother. In English 
affairs, we must always remember, Charles constantly took 
a deep and by no means a disinterested or sentimental 
interest. By birth a descendant of the House of Lancaster, 
by marriage a member of the House of York, each English 
party looked to him in turn as an ally, while he no doubt 
dreamed that he might one day be called in as more than 
an ally. And, had not that been an age when the first thing 
needed in a King of England was to be an Englishman, 
the claims of Charles, descended as he was from a legitimate 
daughter of John of Gaunt, might have seemed far stronger 
than those of bastard Beauforts or Tudors. It would indeed 
have been the highest consummation of Charles's hopes could 
he have thus won a higher crown than that of Burgundy or 
Lorraine, and could have gone on once more to attack his old 
enemy in the new character of a King of England and France. 
But though there is little doubt that such dreams did flash 
across his mind, they had no serious results. Charles probably 
knew England well enough to feel sure that, except in some 
most strange conjunction of events, a stranger had no chance 
of the island crown. It was to aggrandizement eastward and 
southward, to the union of the two detached masses of his 
dominions by the annexation of Lorraine, that Charles's whole 
immediate policy looked in his later days. But there can be 
little doubt that all this had a further aim, that of turning 
round some day to deal a blow at his Western rival at the 
head of an irresistible power. Truces might be made and 
renewed, but they were merely truces ; Charles and Lewis 
each knew well enough what were the aims of the other. 
And the wary King of France knew well how to throw the 


most effectual check in the way of his rival by raising up 
against him the most terrible of enemies within the limits of 
the Empire, partly within the ancient bounds of that Bur- 
irundian Kingdom of which he dreamed. 

"With Mr. Kirk's way of looking at things it is not won- 
derful that his treatment of the early part, what we may call 
the French period, of Charles's career, is better than his treat- 
ment of the latter, what we may in some sort call its German 
period. In the latter portion, just as in the former, we 
have no charge to bring against Mr. Kirk on the ground of 
research, none on the score of narrative and descriptive power 
in treating the main events of his history. Still there is a 
distinct falling-off, both in style and, in a certain sense, in 
matter. During the later years of Charles the main interest 
of his story gathers round his relations with the Swiss. And, 
though Mr. Kirk has probably worked more diligently at the 
S\\ iss history and the Swiss archives of that age than any man 
who is not a native Switzer, still, after all, he does not seem 
fully to grasp the relations between Charles and the Confede- 
rates. And it is certain that it is during this latter part of 
Mr. Kirk's labours that his way of writing begins to change for 
the worse. He writes far more distinctly as a partizan, with 
a strong feeling for Charles and against the Swiss. In this 
there is nothing specially to quarrel with. English readers 
are so apt to take up the Swiss side of the quarrel too un- 
reservedly, that it is no bad thing to have the story told, 
fervidly and vigorously told, from the Burgundian side. But 
there are signs that there is somewhere a screw loose in Mr. 
Kirk's treatment of these events. He is evidently less at his 
thanbefore; heismore palpably influenced by the feeling 
tliat he has a cause to plead, a case to make out, than in his 
story of ( Jharles's doings at Montlhery and Peronne, at Dinant 
and Luttich. It is from the beginning of the second period 
thai Mr. Kirk begins to disfigure his pages with those passages 
of forced and extravagant rhetoric which are the great blemish 
of bis book, and which thicken through the third volume till 
we reach the mere ravings with which the history ends. 

We bave thus reached the great point of controversy, the 


origin of the famous war between Charles the Bold and the 
Swiss. The popular conception of this war is simply that 
Charles, a powerful and encroaching prince, was overthrown 
in three great battles by the petty commonwealths which he 
had expected easily to attach to his dominion. Grandson and 
Morat are placed side by side with Morgarten and Sempach. 
Such a view as this implies complete ignorance of the his- 
tory ; it implies ignorance of the fact that it was the Swiss 
who made war upon Charles, and not Charles who made war 
upon the Swiss ; it implies ignorance of the fact that Charles's 
army never set foot on proper Swiss territory at all, that 
Grandson and Morat were at the beginning of the war no 
part of the possessions of the Confederation. That is to say, 
the war between Charles and the Swiss, like most other 
events in history, will always be misunderstood as long as 
people do not thoroughly master the facts of historical geo- 
graphy. The mere political accident that the country which 
formed the chief seat of war now forms part of the Swiss Con- 
federation has been with many people enough to determine 
their estimate of the quarrel. Grandson and Morat are in 
Switzerland ; Burgundian troops appeared and were defeated 
at Grandson and Morat ; therefore Charles must have been 
an invader of Switzerland, and the warfare on the Swiss 
side must have been a warfare of purely defensive heroism. 
The simple fact that it was only through the result of the 
Burgundian war that Grandson and Morat ever became Swiss 
territory at once disposes of this line of argument. This is 
just the sort of simple fact than which nothing can be 
simpler, but on which the real aspect of whole pages of his- 
tory sometimes turns. But it is also just the sort of simple 
fact which people find so hard really to master and carry 
about with them. The plain facts of the case are that the 
Burgundian war was a war declared by Switzerland against 
Burgimdy, not a war declared by Burgundy against 
Switzerland, and that in the campaigns of Grandson and 
Morat the Duke of Burgundy was simply driving back and 
avenging Swiss invasions of his own territory and the territory 


of his allies. A Burgunclian victory at Morat would no doubt 
have been followed by a Burgundian invasion of Switzerland ; 
but, as the Swiss were victorious at Morat, no Burgundian 
invasion of Switzerland took place. Mr. Kirk, we need 
hardly say, knows all this as well as any man. He is the 
last of all men to need teaching that Vaud was not Swiss 
ground in 1474. He is no doubt doing good service by 
teaching many people in England and America that it was 
not so. Thus far he is acting as an useful preacher of his- 
torical geography. Yet the lack of a full grasp of historical 
geography affects his argument even here. I cannot think 
that he has fully understood the light in which a possible 
restoration of the Burgundian Kingdom must have looked in 
the eyes of the Old League of High Germany. 

How then is the war between Charles and the Swiss com- 
monly looked at ? We fancy that to most of those who go a 
little further into the matter than usual, to those who, without 
having looked very deeply into details, still have a knowledge 
of the history somewhat deeper than mere popular talk, the 
aspect of the war is something of this kind. It is held to 
have been, though not immediately defensive, yet in every 
way justifiable in right and in policy; it is held to have been 
provoked, though not by actual invasion on the part of Charles, 
yet by various wrongs and insults at the hands of his officers-, 
and by the crudest oppression inflicted on a neighbouring and 
allied people. In this view, the Swiss, in beginning the war, 
simply took the bull by the horns, and attacked a power which 
was on the very point of attacking them. The agency of the 
King of France is too plain to be altogether kept out of sight ; 
but 1 1 is interference would be held to have been shown simply 
in fomenting a quarrel which had already arisen, and aiding — 
after his peculiar fashion — the Confederates in a struggle in 
which li" had the deepest possible interest, but which would 
have taken place equally had he not existed. Those who are 
used to look atthe matter in this light will certainly be some- 
what amazed at the way in which the story is told by Mr. Kirk. 
In 1 1 is vi<'\\ a \i<'\\ i ml really new, though doubtless new to 


most of his readers — Charles was wholly in the right, and the 
Confederates were wholly in the wrong. Charles had no hostile 
intentions towards the Confederates, but was full of the most 
friendly dispositions towards them. The mass of the Swiss 
people had as little wish to quarrel with Charles as Charles 
had to quarrel with them. The alleged grounds of complaint 
were either matters with which the Swiss had no concern, or 
else mere trifles which the Duke would at once have re- 
dressed on a frank understanding. The war was wholly the 
device of Lewis of France, who thought that it would be more 
convenient to overthrow his great adversary by the arms of 
the Swiss than by his own. He bribed and cajoled certain 
citizens of Bern, Nicolas von Diessbach at their head ; and 
they contrived to entangle Bern and the whole Confederation 
in a war in which they had no national interest. The Swiss 
patched up a hurried alliance with an old enemy in order to 
attack an old friend who had neither done nor designed them 
any wrong. The alleged grounds of provocation given by 
Charles were utterly frivolous, and if the Confederates had 
been as anxious for peace as the Duke, an understanding 
might easily have been come to. The execution of Peter von 
llngenbach, above all, was an act of directly illegal violence 
on the part of the Swiss and their allies. The war against 
Charles was so far from being defensive that it was utterly 
unprovoked ; it was not even a war of policy ; the Confede- 
rates were neither defending their own country nor supporting 
the rights of an ally. They acted simply as mercenaries, as 
the " hired bravos " of a power which had corrupted them. 
The victories of Grandson, Morat, and Nancy may be glorious 
as mere displays of valour, but they were unrighteous triumphs 
won in a cause in which the victors had no interest ; instead 
of being classed with Sempach and Morgarten, they ought 
rightly to be classed with the displays of Swiss mercenary 
valour in later times. The Confederates carried a cruel and 
desolating war into the dominions of Savoy, a country whose 
rulers and people had given them no offence; they hunted 
the Duke of Burgundy to death, and broke the power of his 


House at a moment when its preservation was a matter of 
European interest. And all this they did simply in the 
interest of their paymaster the King of France, who himself, 
as soon as he had hopelessly involved them in the war, left 
them to fight their battles for themselves. From that time 
began the disgraceful system of foreign pensions and mer- 
cenary service which permanently degraded the Swiss cha- 
racter and made Swiss valour a mere article of merchandize. 
The only section of the Confederates to whom any sympathy 
is due in the matter are those, whether states or individuals, 
who did their best to hinder the war, and who joined in it only 
when it became a matter of national duty to give help to those 
who were already engaged in it. Such among states was Unter- 
walden ; such among individuals was Hadrian von Bubenberg, 
the defender of Morat. In the war itself and its great victories 
those who take this line see nothing but successful strokes of 
brigandage. And in those who brought about the war, in the 
leading Bernese statesmen, above all in Nicolas von Diessbach, 
Mr. Kirk sees nothing but traitors of the blackest dye. 

AVe believe that this is a fair exposition of the view which 
Mr. Kirk now brings, for the first time, as far as we know, 
before English and American readers. But it is a view 
which is far from being unknown in Switzerland itself. It 
was fully set forth by the late Baron Frederick de Gingins- 
la-Sarraz, whose papers on the subject will be found reprinted 
as an Appendix to the sixth and seventh volumes of BE. Mon- 
nard's French translation — not a very accurate translation, 
by the way — of Johannes von Midler's great History of the 
!^v. iss Confederation. De Gingins was perhaps the only ex- 
ample in Europe of his own class. He was essentially a Bur- 
gundian of the Kingdom of Burgundy. He had deliberately 
given his life to the study of every phase of Burgundian his- 
tory, and Charles, Puke of one Burgundy, Count of another, 
and would-be King of all, was naturally a character in whom 
In' took a deep interest. Add to this that De Gingins, though 
he probably cherished no actual wish to be other than the 
Swi - citizen which modern geography made him, was at 


heart a Burgundiau noble, like his forefathers four hundred 
years back. He had not forgotten that those forefathers had 
swelled the armies of Charles, and that their ancestral castle 
had been burned by the Confederates. A scholar of unwearied 
research, he worked manfully at this as at all other Bur- 
gundiau subjects, and he had evidently a special pleasure in 
bringing forward those facts which tell for the Burgundiau 
and against the Swiss side. Considering how exclusively the 
story had been hitherto looked upon from the Swiss side, he 
was, in so doing, doing a service to the cause of truth. Mr. 
Kirk seems to have dived yet deeper into the same stores, 
and distinctly with the same bias. But it was to be borne in 
mind that, novel as his view of the case may seem to an 
English reader, he is only working in the beat of De Gingins, 
by whom his main facts and arguments have been already 
strongly set forth. Our own views have been mainly formed 
on those set forth by another Swiss scholar, John Caspar Zell- 
weger, the historian of Appenzell, in a most elaborate essay,* 
followed by a large collection of hitherto unpublished docu- 
ments, printed in the fifth volume of the Archiv fur schiveizer- 
ische Geschichte (Zurich, 1847). It is not for us to guess how 
many of Mr. Kirk's readers, British or American, are likely to 
have read Zellweger or De Gingins, or even Johannes von 
M tiller himself. Swiss historical works, both original autho- 
rities and modern writers, are not very common in England, 
and cannot always be got at a moment's notice. And the best 
authorities for this period consist of documents, documents too, 
as must always happen in a Confederation of small states, 
scattered about in all manner of local archives. Each fresh 
writer brings forth some paper which nobody had seen before, 
and by its help he crows over the mistakes of those who were 
unlucky enough to write without having seen it. Zellweger 
has done a real service by printing his documents at full 
length, while other writers merely give references which are 

* "Yersuch die wahren Griinde des burgundisclieu Krieges aus den 
Quellen darzustellen und die dariiber verbreiteten irrigen Ansichten zu 


little better than a mockery, or extracts which make us wish 
to see the context. But no reader probably would wish us, 
even if we had the space, to go minutely through every dis- 
puted point of detail. We will confine ourselves to setting 
forth the general conclusions to which we have come, and to 
pointing out a few considerations which seem to have escaped 
M r. Kirk's notice. 

First of all, we must bear in mind at every moment the 
real extent and position of Switzerland at that time. We 
are accustomed to conceive Switzerland as including Geneva, 
Basel, and Chur at its different corners, and as being a per- 
fectly independent power, quite distinct from Germany. We 
are also accustomed to point to Switzerland as the most re- 
markable example of a country where diversity of blood, lan- 
guage, and religion does not hinder the existence of a common 
feeling of nationality. We are also accustomed to look upon 
Switzerland as a power conservative but not aggressive, and 
on the Swiss as a people who are as ready as of old to defend 
themselves if attacked, but who have neither the will nor the 
means to annex any of the territory of their neighbours. 
Such is the Switzerland of our own time, but such was 
not the Switzerland with which Charles the Bold had to 
deal. In those days the name of Switzerland, as a distinct 
nation or people, was hardly known. The names Stvitenses, 
Sivitzois, Suisses, were indeed beginning to spread them- 
selves from a single Canton to the whole Confederation ; but 
the formal style of that Confederation was still the "Great 
(or Old) League of Upper Germany" — perhaps rather of 
" Upper Swabia."* That League was much smaller than it 
is now, and it was purely German. It consisted of eight 
German districts and cities, united, like many other groups 

l,i ;i \ ''ins Alemanniaa altas (Treaty with Charles the Seventh, ap. 
Zellwe< < t, 75 I. I >omini de Liga Alamanke (ibid. 130). Domini de Lig& 
magnfl Alamaniaj superioris (ibid. L32). "Allemannia" might cither mean 
Germany in general or Swabia in particular; in either case, "Upper 
Allemannia" is opposed to the "Lower Union" of the cities on the 


of German cities, by a lax Federal tie, which tie, while other 
similar unions have died away, has gradually developed into 
a perfect Federal Government, and has extended itself over 
a large non-German territory. The League then consisted of 
eight Cantons only — Zurich, Bern, Luzern, Uri, Schwyz, 
Unterwalden, Zug, and Glarus. All these states were prac- 
tically independent commonwealths ; in theory they were 
immediate subjects of the Emperor, holding certain large 
franchises by ancient grant or prescription. Moreover, the 
League was looked on as an eminently advancing, not to say an 
aggressive, power ; it was always extending its borders, always 
winning new allies and subjects which stood in various rela- 
tions to the older Cantons. Bern, above all, was always con- 
quering, purchasing, admitting to citizenship, in a way which 
affords a close parallel to old Rome. The League was feared, 
hated, or admired by its neighbours according to circum- 
stances ; but it was a power which all its neighbours were glad 
to have as a friend rather than as an enemy. But as yet, with 
all its advances, the League itself had not set foot on Welsh 
— that is, Romance-speaking — ground. Neufchatel, Geneva, 
Vaud, even Freiburg, were not yet members or even allies of 
the Confederation, though some of them stood in close rela- 
tions to the particular Canton of Bern. All these are points 
which must be carefully borne in mind, lest the history be 
misconceived through being looked at through too modern a 
medium. Above all, the strictly German character of the 
League, and its close relation to the Empire must never be 
allowed to pass out of mind. The German national spirit 
breathes strongly in all the chronicles which record the great 
national war between Dutch and Welsh. Under the former 
name the Confederate troops are constantly joined with 
those of Austria and the Free cities, in a way which would 
certainly not be done by any Swiss writer now. As to 
their relations to the Empire, there is the manifest fact 
that the Imperial summons is put prominently forward in 
the Swiss declaration of war against Burgundy. The Con- 
federates make war upon Duke Charles at the bidding of 

2 A 


their gracious Lord the Emperor of the Kornans. Mr. Kirk 
rather sneers at this, and asks whether the Swiss were on all 
other occasions equally obedient to the orders of the Chief 
of the Empire. Now we certainly do not believe that mere 
loyalty to any Emperor, least of all to such an Emperor as 
Frederick the Third, would have led the Swiss into a war to 
which they were not prompted by nearer interests. But it 
does not at all follow that the prominence given to the 
Imperial summons was mere pretence. The Swiss, like the 
other members of the Empire, had little scruple in acting 
against the Emperor when it suited him to do so ; still it 
was a great point to have the Imperial name on their side 
whenever they could ; it gave a formal legitimacy to their 
doings, and it doubtless really satisfied the consciences of many 
who might otherwise have hesitated as to the right course. 
And in truth the relations of the Swiss to the Empire had 
commonly been very friendly. Certain Emperors and Kings 
of the Austrian House, Frederick himself among them, had 
indeed been guilty of wrongs against the Confederacy, but that 
had been in pursuit, not of Imperial but of Austrian interests. 
But with Emperors of other lines the League had commonly 
stood well ; the war of Charles the Fourth against Zurich is 
the only important exception. The great Fredericks,* Henry 
the Seventh, Lewis of Bavaria, and Sigismund, had always 
been on the very best terms both with the old Forest Cantons 
and with the more extended League. There can be no doubt 
that the name of Caesar still commanded a deep reverence 
throughout the Cantons, which died away only as the Imperial 
title sank into little more than one of the elements of great- 
ness in the dangerous House of Austria. It is evident that in 
the war with Charles, the Swiss, though they certainly never 
forgot their own interests, sincerely felt that they were fighting 

* Of course iii their day the extended League did not exist. But the 
three original Cantons were douhtless already bound together by that 

ditional tie which Inter written engagements only confirmed ; and the 
Swabians of those Cantons were among the most devoted supjtorters of the 
Swabian Caesars. 


for German nationality and for the majesty of that Empire with 
which German nationality was so closely identified. That 
the Emperor himself, when he had once stirred them up, dis- 
gracefully left them in the lurch proves nothing as to the 
original feeling ; when their blood was once up, they were not 
likely to turn back for King, Ca?sar, or Pontiff. 

But feelings of German nationality and of loyalty to the 
Empire, though they were elements in the case which must 
not be left out, were certainly not the moving causes of the 
war between Charles and the Confederates. They might 
well turn the balance with those who were doubtful, but they 
were not the things which stirred up men's minds in the first 
instance. What then was the character of the war ? We 
have seen that it was not a war of the Morgarten type, a war 
of pure defensive heroism. W T as it then, as De Gingins and 
Mr. Kirk would have us believe, a war of mere brigandage, an 
ungrateful attack upon an old friend under the influence of 
the bribes of a concealed enemy ? Or shall we, with Zell- 
weger, look upon it as a war which was brought about by the 
corrupt intrigues of Lewis the Eleventh with Nicolas von 
Diessbach, a war in which the Confederates generally were 
taken in by these crafty men, but one in which they them- 
selves could not be fairly looked upon as wanton aggressors ? 

This last view is one which seems to us to come much 
nearer to the truth than Mr. Kirk's ; indeed, we are dis- 
posed to go a little further on behalf of the Confederates 
than Zellweger seems disposed to do. It seems to us that 
the war was no more a war of mere brigandage than it 
was a war of pure defensive heroism. It was rather, 
like most other wars, a war of policy — whether of good 
or of bad policy is another question — a war which had some- 
thing to be said for it and something to be said against it, 
a war which an honest man might advocate and which an 
honest man might oppose. It seems to us, like most other 
wars, to have had its origin in a combination of causes, none 
of which alone would have brought it about. The Swiss, as 
a body, Avere taken in ; they were made the tool or play- 

2 a 2 


thing— the SpieTball, as Zellweger expressively calls it— of 
the contending powers and of crafty and dishonest men 
among themselves. They were forsaken alike by the 
Emperor who summoned them to the field on their alle- 
giance to the Empire, and by the King whose policy and 
whose gold were undoubtedly among the chief determin- 
ing causes of the war. We say among the chief determining 
causes, not the determining cause. We clearly see the 
hand of Lewis throughout the matter, and we believe that 
without his interference the war would most likely never 
have broken out. It is certain that the Confederation had 
no immediate interest in the war. There can be no doubt 
that territorial conquest was from the beginning one main 
object in the eyes of Bern, and that in the later stages of the 
war a mere eagerness for booty began gradually to mingle 
itself with other motives. It is certain that large sums were 
paid by Lewis to many leading men in Switzerland, especially 
at Bern and Luzern ; and it is certain that from this time the 
baneful practice of mercenary service took a far wider deve- 
lopement, and the yet more baneful system of pensions and of 
military capitulations with the states themselves, took its first 
beginning. It is hardly less certain that of the men who 
took the gold of Lewis, some at least took it as a bribe in the 
strictest sense, and were simply dishonest traitors, sold to the 
service of a foreign prince. At their head we have as little 
hesitation as Mr. Kirk in placing the name of Nicolas von 
Diessbach. In so doing we are only following in the steps of 
Zellweger, and repeating a sentence which was before him 
pronounced by De la Harpe. All this we readily admit, but 
it does not follow that the war was a war of pure brigandage. 
It was a war very much like all other wars, except those few 
heroic struggles in which men have simply fought to deliver 
their country from an unprovoked invasion. Such a war, 
even if, after weighing the arguments on both sides, we pro- 
nounce it to have been unjust, is quite a different thing from 
a w;ir of pure brigandage. Our Russian war fourteen years 
back was thoroughly needless and thoroughly unjust, a war 


waged in a bad cause against a people who had not wronged 
us ; but there was quite enough to be said on its behalf to 
take it out of the class of wars of pure brigandage. And 
the Swiss had in the Burgundian war, not indeed a case like 
their own case at Morgarten and Senipach, but a better case 
than England, France, and Sardinia had in the Russian war. 
As for particular acts of cruelty, those may be found on both 
sides, and there is nothing to excuse them on either side 
except the ferocious customs of the age, customs far more 
ferocious than the customs of some centuries earlier. Swiss 
cruelty at Orbe and Estavayer was as blameworthy as Bur- 
gundian cruelty at Dinant, Liittich, and Grandson. That it 
was more blameworthy we cannot see. 

That there was a weak side to the Swiss cause is plain, if 
only from the witness of their own historians. The most im- 
portant sources for this period are undoubtedly the documents 
which have been worked with such good results both by Zell- 
weger and by Mr. Kirk. But the chroniclers are in some sort 
better indexes of what was in men's minds at the time. One 
most important authority, and one most strongly anti-Bur- 
gundian in its spirit, is the Chronicle of Diebold Schilling of 
Bern.* Now throughout his story there reigns a sort of un- 
comfortable, artificial, apologetic tone, as if the writer was 
trying, by dint of using the strongest epithets and putting 
everything in the strongest way, to justify in the eyes of his 
readers a course that he himself knew could not be fully 
justified. No contrast can be greater than between Diebold 
Schilling and Mr. Kirk's favourite author, Valerius Anshelm. 
Anshelm wrote just after the Reformation, full of all the zeal 
which awakened that political and moral reformation which 
was a temporary result of the religious change.! His 

* This chronicle has long been known. It must not be confounded with 
the contemporary chronicle of the other Diebold Schilling of Luzern, which 
was printed only a few years back, and which is much less full. 

t Not, I would say, as far as I can see, the result of the peculiar dogmas 
of the fiefonnation, but of that moral elevation and purification which must 
always accompany any great and sincere change in religion. Zwingli un- 


righteous soul is thoroughly vexed by the unlawful deeds of 
his own generation and of the generation before him. He 
declaims against the foreign pensions and everything that has 
to do with them, with the fervour, the sarcasm, and somewhat 
of the parabolic vein, of a Hebrew prophet. Lewis the 
Eleventh, whom Diebold Schilling is rather inclined to wor- 
ship, is painted by Anshelm in the blackest colours.* To be 
sure he paints Charles of Burgundy in colours equally black, 
and throughout his narrative of the time two feelings seem 
to contend, a natural sympathy for the military prowess of 
his countrymen, and a profound conviction of the evils which 
followed on once touching the gold of France. But, like 
most rebukers of the vices of their time, Anshelm's righteous 
zeal, as Zellweger thinks it needful to warn us, sometimes 
carries him beyond the mark. We have to strike the balance 
between ancient partizans of two opposite sides as well as 
between their modern followers. 

In striking this balance there are some points which Mr. 
Kirk can hardly be said to keep steadily enough before him. 
He insists on the facts that Charles had no hostile intentions 
against the Confederation, and that it was very hard to make 
the members of the Confederation agree to the war against 
him, except those greater and more ambitious states which 
lay nearest to the frontier, and which were most open to the 
agency of France. Now let us think for a moment what the 

doubtedly wrought a wonderful moral reformation at Zurich ; but Saint 
Charles Borromeo wrought an equally wonderful moral reformation at 
Luzern. In neither case do I believe the reformation to have been the 
result of those dogmas on which those two good men spoke different lan- 
guages, but rather of those on which they spoke the same. And neither 
theological system proved itself capable of setting up an earthly paradise 
for more than a short time. 

1 Bee vol. i. p. TOO of his 'Berner Chronik.' The great point is the 
contrast between Lewis — "der eigensinnig, listig, frevel Delfin " and his 
lather — "von Binem milden, giitigcn und wyseu Vatcr, Kiing Karl dem 
Sibenten." Bui he gets just as eloquent over his comparison between 
Charlet (If Bold ami his lather, Philip the Good: Lewis and Charles alike 
are compared to Turkish tyrants. 


interest of the Confederation really was. To us, looking 
calmly at the matter from our distance of time, the over- 
throw of Charles, the aggrandizement of Lewis, the blighting 
of the best hope which had ever appeared for the formation 
of a strong Middle Kingdom, seem a great and lasting Euro- 
pean calamity. But it is not fair to expect the Swiss of those 
days to look so many hundred years forwards and so many 
hundred years backwards. Putting such distant views out 
of sight, and putting also out of sight for a moment the ques- 
tion of French influence in the business, had the Old League 
of Upper Germany any good reason for making war upon the 
Duke of Burgundy ? It seems to us that they had as good 
grounds for war as nations commonly have for wars which are 
not purely defensive ; but it also seems to us that the quarrels 
which formed the ostensible casus belli could easily have been 
made up by a frank understanding between the parties, if 
it had not been the interest of other powers to keep their 
differences alive. 

There is no reason to believe that Charles had any imme- 
diate intention of attacking the Swiss. Indeed, whatever 
were his ultimate intentions, it was clearly his interest to 
keep on good terms with them while he was carrying on 
his other conquests. It is also clear that the great mass 
of the Confederates had no sort of wish to quarrel with 
Charles. His father Philip had been an old friend and a 
good neighbour ; and, whatever we say of Hagenbach, Charles 
personally had certainly done the Confederates no direct 
wrong. But it does not follow from this that peace was the 
best policy, or that the war was without excuse. Two ques- 
tions have to be asked : — First, was the general position of 
Charles really threatening to the Confederates, so as to make 
it good policy to attack him while he could still be attacked 
in concert with powerful allies, instead of waiting merely to be 
devoured the last ? Secondly, were there any particular acts 
on the part of Charles which, apart from these more distant 
considerations, rendered immediate hostilities justi liable? 

On the former ground the advocates of war could make 


out at least a very plausible case. Charles was, by various 
means, annexing province after province, in a way which 
pointed to settled schemes of annexation which put all his 
neighbours in jeopardy. He had annexed Gelders, he had 
annexed Elsass ; he was clearly aiming at uniting his scat- 
tered dominions by the annexation of Lorraine; he was 
besieging the German town of Neuss, in a quarrel with which 
he had not the least concern, in a dispute about the rightful 
possession of the Archbishoprick of Koln * — a question surely 
to be judged at the tribunal of the Emperor or the Pope, and 
not to be decided by the arms of the Duke of Burgundy. 
All these were facts known to all the world. All the world 
knew also how Charles had, in 1473, gone to Trier, to be 
raised by the Emperor to the rank of King of some kingdom 
or other, and how he had been left to pack up his newly-made 
crown and sceptre and go home again. More lately there had 
been rumours, true or false, that the restoration of the King- 
dom was again designed, that Charles was to be Imperial 
Vicar throughout the old Burgundy, that the Free Imperial 
City of Besangon was to become his capital, that he was 
in sg( itiating with good King Bene for the cession or inheritance 
of Provence. All these things were enough to frighten any- 
body, especially those who dwelt within the limits which would 
naturally be assigned to the revived kingdom. Even among 
the original Cantoris, Schwyz and Uri indeed lay without the 
borders of Burgundy in any meaning of the name, yet among 
the endless fluctuations of those borders, Unterwalden had 
sometimes been counted to lie within the Lesser Burgimdian 
I 'iichy. And Bern and her allies of Solothurn and Freiburg 
all stood on undoubted Burgimdian soil, and they were far 

* Charles's policy with regard to the See of Koln seems to be the same 
as bis earlier policy towards Liittich. As he could hardly annex the 
oprick to his dominions, his object was to convert the ecclesiastical 
Bovereign into his instrument. Charles, however,. is said to have meditated 
the annexation by Imperial authority of the four great ecclesiastical 
principalities which intersected his dominions in the Netherlands — the 
Bishoprickfl of Utrecht, Liittich, Cambray, and Tournay. — Heuter, lib. v. 
c. 8. 


from being: forgetful of the fact * The re-establishment of 
the Burgundian Kingdom would thus, if it did not altogether 
destroy the Confederation, at least dismember it ; it would 
despoil it of its greatest city, and give the eastern Cantons a 
powerful foreign King, instead of one of their own Confede- 
rates, as their western neighbour. Any serious prospect of 
such a change was enough to alarm the whole Confederacy ; 
the least hint of the possibility of such a change was surely 
enough to alarm Bern. This is a feeling which Mr. Kirk does 
not enter into so much as an historian would to whom historical 
geography was more of a living thing. But there can be no 
doubt that the fear existed at the time, and that it was far from 
being an unnatural fear. Bern then, more directly threat- 
ened and better versed than her sisters in the general politics 
of the world, naturally took the lead in the movement. That 
the older Cantons lagged behind is nothing wonderful : Uri, 
Schwyz, and Unterwalden were far less directly threatened, 
and their position and manner of life naturally hindered 
them from keeping so keen an eye on the general politics of 
the world as the astute and polished statesmen of Bern. 
That Bern therefore was eager for war, while the other 
Cantons somewhat unwillingly followed her lead, was just 
what the circumstances of the case would naturally lead us 
to expect. The alliance with Austria was a necessary part 
of any scheme of hostility against Burgundy. It of course 
offended all Swiss traditional sentiment. Austria had up to 
this moment always been their enemy, while Burgundy had 

* " Als Krone irn Burgundenreich, 

Als freier Stadte Krone, 

Als reiner Spiegel, der zugleich 

Ganz mal und mack el ohne : 

Wird Bern geriihmt all uberall 

Yon Jungen wie von Greisen, 
Aucli muss den grossen Heldensal 
Das ganze Deutscbland preisen." 
Lied uber Gugler, 1376, in Rochholz's Eidgenossische Lieder-Chronik 
(Bern, 1842). It is much to be regretted that the compiler of this collection 
should have modernized the language of the old songs in the way that lie 
has done. 


long been their friend, and had only ceased to be so under 
Austrian influence. But such a feeling was purely senti- 
mental. If Burgundy was really dangerous, Austria was a 
natural ally. Sigisniund, far too weak to do the Swiss any 
mischief by himself, was yet strong enough to give them 
valuable help against a common enemy. 

The case, in fact, is one in which what we may call the 
policy of the moment agreed with the permanent policy of 
Europe, while what we may call the policy of the age, the 
policy which it needs a long-sighted statesman to reach and 
which the most long-sighted of statesmen seldom get beyond, 
suggested another course. The smaller and more remote 
Cantons, those which lay further from the scene of action 
and which knew less of the general politics of the world, those 
which had no hope of that territorial aggrandizement which 
the war opened to Bern and Freiburg, naturally shrank from 
attacking a prince who had not directly attacked them. This 
short-sighted policy accidentally agrees with our judgement 
four hundred years after that the overthrow of Charles and 
his power has proved a great European evil. But, at the 
time, a more long-sighted policy might argue that the 
part of wisdom was to meet the blow before it came, and, 
as Charles had given real provocation, not to wait till pro- 
vocation grew into invasion. The particular grievances 
alleged against Burgundy were grievances of that kind which 
can be easily got over when both parties are so disposed, but 
which easily lead to war when the mind of either side is 
exasperated on other grounds. That the Swiss had real 
grievances cannot be denied: their merchants had been 
seized, the Bernese territory had been violated, their allies 
of Muhlhausen had been attacked. We cannot doubt that 
Pct<r vnn Hagenbach had used violent and insulting lan- 
guage towards the Confederates. But, except the attack 
on Muhlhausen, none of these wen- Charles's own acts. For 
the affair of Muhlhausen he had an excuse which might 
seem just to himself, though it hardly would seem so to the 
Confederates; for the acts of i I agcu bach and others he was 


quite ready to make reasonable atonement. But it was not 
the interest of France, it was not the interest of Bern, it was 
perhaps not the more remote interest of the whole League, 
that such atonement should be accepted. A little friendly 
mediation might no doubt have easily brought both sides 
to a momentary good understanding. The question was 
whether such a momentary good understanding was in har- 
mony with sound policy. And in weighing what was sound 
policy at the time, it is not reasonable to expect men to 
look forward for four or five hundred years. 

As for Hagenbach, we freely grant to Mr. Kirk that his 
execution was a breach of the law of nations. Whatever 
were his crimes, neither the Duke of Austria, nor the Con- 
federates, nor the Free Cities of the Rhine, had any right 
to judge him. He was an officer of the Duke of Burgundy, 
in a country of which the Duke of Burgundy had a lawful, 
though only a temporary, possession. His deeds, if left 
unpunished, might form a casus belli against his master ; we 
might be inclined to shut our eyes if he had perished in a 
popular tumult ; but his solemn judicial trial was a mere 
mockery of justice. But it is quite in vain that Mr. Kirk 
attempts to whitewash the man himself. His resolute and 
Christian end, acknowledged by his bitterest enemies,* proves 
very little. Men often die well who have lived ill. And 
Hagenbach at least knew that he was dying by an unjust sen- 
tence. But the genuine and bitter hatred of all the Alsatian 
and Swabian towns could not have been aroused for nothing. 
The whole people of Breisach were not in the pay of King 
Lewis, nor had they all been led astray by the eloquence of 
Nicolas von Diessbach. The fact is plain ; they revolted 
against a cruel, lustful, and insolent ruler. The particular 
stories in Konigshoven f and elsewhere may perhaps be lies, or 
at any rate exaggerations ; but even slander commonly shows 

* See Schilling of Lnzern, p. 65. 

t Die Alteste Teutsche so wol allgemeine als insonderheit Elsassische 
mid Strassburgische ChroniGke, von Jacob von Konigshoven, Priestern in 
Strassburg. (Strassburg, 10 ( J8.) 


some regard to probability. The real deeds of Hagenbach 
must have been very bad before men could invent such stories 
about him. The particular grounds of indignation were just 
those which do most stir up men's indignation, namely, lust- 
ful excess combined with violence and insult. It is quite in 
vain for Mr. Kirk to soften down the stories of Hagenbach 
into his being merely " a man of immoral life." People do 
not rise up against mere immorality in a ruler ; it sometimes 
even makes a ruler more popular. Philip the Good, Sigis- 
mund of Austria, Edward of England, the pious King of 
France himself, were all men of immoral life, but we do not 
find that anybody revolted against them on that account.* 
But then, whatever were their moral offences, they at least 
abstained from those specially galling forms of vice which 
brought destruction on Peter von Hagenbach and on the 
victims of the Sicilian Vespers. 

As we grant to Mr. Kirk the unlawfulness of the execu- 
tion of Hagenbach, we can also grant to him another point. 
The decisive moment of the struggle was when Sigismund 
of Austria reclaimed the lands in Elsass which he had 
pledged to Charles. We admit that the repayment of the 
money — the PfanchchiUing, as the old chroniclers call it — 
was made in a way not contemplated in the treaty, and that 
Charles was therefore justified in treating the redemption as 
null and void. But we think that this admission leaves the 
main case very much as it stood before. The important point 
is the zeal with which the various towns helped to raise the 
money, and their eagerness to have Sigismund for their 
master or neighbour rather than Charles. Mr. Kirk tells us 

and we are ready to believe it — that the Burgundian 
irovernment was stricter and more regular than the Austrian, 
and that the towns simply stood out for franchises which 

" I rnless indeed we accept that version of the quarrel betweeu Warwick 
and Edward which attributes Warwick's bitterness against the King to an 
li offered by him to the Karl's daughter or niece. If so, we are 
approaching the same ground as the tales of Hagenbach. As a general 
rule, Edward's gallantries seem rather to have made him popular thau 


were inconsistent with the general good. So possibly they 
were, but it would have been hard to make the citizens of 
those towns think so. At any rate we may be quite sure 
that men did not mingle their political cries with their 
Easter hymns without some good reason.* 

We hold then that, taking all these things together, — the 
generally dangerous designs of Charles, the particular wrongs 
done by Hagenbach and others, the oppression of neighbour- 
ing and friendly commonwealths, the summons to the Con- 
federates in the name of the Emperor, — there was quite 
enough to explain, perhaps enough to justify, the Swiss 
declaration of war. And the peculiar position of Bern fully 
explains and justifies her eagerness and the backwardness of 
the other Cantons. If the career of Charles did not imme- 
diately threaten the Confederates, yet it threatened them in 
the long run, and it had directly touched their allies. German 
national feeling, and that vague loyalty to the Empire which 
was by no means without influence, called the Confederates, 
along with other Germans, to withstand the threatening 
Welsh power against whom Csesar had summoned all his 
liegemen. That Csesar afterwards forsook the liegemen 
whom he had summoned would count for very little when 
the die was once cast. These were motives which would 
appeal to the sentiments of the Confederates in genera]. 
They would be met by strong motives on the other side. 
Mere sluggishness, mere unwillingness to stir without mani- 
fest necessity, would count for something. A powerful 
sentimental feeling would oppose itself to a war with Bur- 
gundy, an old friend, undertaken in concert with Austria, 
the old enemy. There would be the feeling of jealousy 
on the part of the small Cantons against Bern, when Bern 

* The Easter Song of 1474 ran thus : 

" Christ ist erstanden, der Landvogt ist gefangen ; 
Des sollend wir fro syn. 
Siegmund soil unser Trost syn, Kyrie eleison. 
War er nit gefangen, so war's ubel gangen ; 
Seyd er nun gefangen ist, hilft ihm nut syn bose List," 
J. v. Midler, b. iv. c. vii. note 572. So Schilling of Luzern, p. 66. 


was so sure to reap the chief advantages of war. Motives 
would thus be pretty evenly balanced. In the end the 
Confederation was hurried, one might almost say cheated, 
into the war by French intrigue and Bernese diplomacy. All 
that did happen might possibly have happened, even though 
the gold and the intrigues of King Lewis had played no 
important part in the business. But we are far from denying 
that they did play a very important part. They clinched, as 
it were, the whole matter. They made that certain which 
otherwise would have been only possible; they hastened 
what otherwise might have been delayed; they made a 
quarrel irreconcileable which otherwise might have been made 
up, at least for a season. We do not doubt that the finger 
of Lewis was to be traced everywhere, at Bern, at Innsbruck, 
in the Alsatian towns, seizing opportunities, removing diffi- 
culties, aggravating what needed to be aggravated and soften- 
ing what needed to be softened. We do not doubt that the 
Confederates were made the tool of a policy which few among 
them understood, except the special agents of Lewis. All 
that we say is that Lewis's interference was not the sole 
explanation of the matter ; that, though a very important 
influence, it was only one conspiring influence among several ; 
that the Confederates had at least a plausible case against 
Charles, and that they might even have acted as they did 
though Lewis had never been born. So far as they were 
unduly or unworthily influenced by the tempter, they had 
their fitting reward; when they were once committed to 
the struggle with the power of Burgundy, their royal ally 
forsook them no less basely than their Imperial lord, and the 
baneful habits brought in by this first handling of French 
gold remained the shame and curse of the Swiss common- 
wealths till tli' stain was wiped out in our own day. 

How far then was the Bernese diplomacy corrupt ? Was 
Bern, were its statesmen, simply bought by Lewis? Nicolas 
von Dicssbach most likely sold himself, soul and body, to 
the French King. But did the whole commonwealth so sell 
itself? To our thinking, Mr. Kirk does not make enough 


of allowance for the wide difference between the feelings 
of those days and the feelings of ours with regard to any- 
taking of money by public men. Our feeling on the sub- 
ject is undoubtedly a much higher and better one, and it 
is a safeguard against practices which, even in their most 
harmless shape, are at least very dangerous. But we must 
judge men according to the feelings of their own time. 
Every man who took the King's money was not necessarily 
acting corruptly. No doubt it would have been nobler to 
refuse to touch a sou of it in any case. The high-minded 
refusal of Freiburg at the time of the King's first offers 
reads like some of the noblest stories of the best days of 
old Koine. To take the money, whether for a common- 
wealth or for an individual, was dangerous and degrading ; 
but it was far from being so dangerous or so degrading as the 
like conduct would be now. We have no right to say that 
either a commonwealth or an individual was bribed or 
bought, unless it can be shown that he or they were led by 
gifts to adopt a line of conduct which their unbought 
judgements condemned. Diessbach may have been a traitor 
of this kind ; Zellweger demands his condemnation as well 
as Mr. Kirk, and Bern and Switzerland can afford to give 
him up. But we must not extend the same harsh measure 
to every man who grasped a few gold pieces from the royal 
storehouse. It might be a reward ; it might be a subvention ; 
it was not necessarily a bribe, as we now count bribes. We 
have a feeling nowadays about taking money at all which 
had no sort of existence in the fifteenth century. In those 
days men freely took what they could get: judges took 
presents from suitors and ambassadors took presents from 
the princes to whom they were sent ; sovereigns and their 
councillors became the pensioners of other sovereigns ; Kings 
on their progresses did not scruple to receive purses filled 
with gold as an earnest of the love of their subjects. To sell 
one's country for money, to change one's policy for money, 
was as shameful then as it is now ; but simply to take 
money, either as a help or as a reward, from a richer fellow- 


worker in the same cause was not thought shameful at all. 
Kings with their ministers and ambassadors, commonwealths 
and their leading citizens, freely took money in such cases. 
Charles spent his money in Switzerland as well as Lewis ; 
Englishmen took the money of Lewis no less readily than 
Switzers. If Diessbach or any one else took French money 
in order to beguile his country into a course which, had he 
not received French money, he would not have counselled, 
he was a corrupt traitor. But if Diessbach or any one else, 
believing a war with Burgundy to be just and politic, took 
French money as a help towards the common cause, or even 
as a reward for his services in promoting that cause, the 
morality of the time did not condemn him. And many of 
these practices long survived the days of Charles the Bold. 
The English patriots of the reign of Charles the Second took 
the money of Lewis the Fourteenth as freely as Aratos in 
old times took the money of King Ptolemy. But neither 
Aratos nor Algernon Sidney can fairly bo called corrupt ; 
the interest of the patriot was in either case believed to be 
the same as the interest of the foreign King, and the patriot 
did not disdain the foreign King's money as help given to 
the common cause. The subventions publicly granted by 
Lewis the Eleventh to the several Cantons were really of 
much the same nature as the subsidies in which England not 
so long ago dealt very largely. In all these cases there is 
much of danger and temptation in handling the seducing 
metal, but the mere act is not of itself necessarily corrupt. 
The worst to be said of the Swiss is that, in a not very 
scrupulous age, they did not show themselves conspicuously 
better than other people. The friends of France took the 
King's money, and the friends of Burgundy took the Duke's ; 
for Charles had his paid partizans also, though he was 
both less bountiful and less discreet in the business than his 
rival. In taking foreign money, as in serving as mercenaries, 
the Swiss simply (lid like the rest of the world, only various 
circumstances made these bad habits more conspicuous and 
more permanent in them than in other nations. The help 


of France, which took the ugly form of receiving French 
money, had a great deal to do with fixing the purpose both of 
Bern and of the other Confederates. And it is pretty clear 
that, with some particular men, the receiving of French 
money was simply the receiving of French bribes. But as 
regards the state, the subsidy need not have been more than 
a subsidy ; to receive French money as a help against the 
common enemy was not necessarily any more corrupt than 
to receive the help of French troops. We do not deny the 
danger of such practises ; we do not deny their evil effects 
in this particular case, in which they undoubtedly led, as 
Valerius Anshelm shows, to the political demoralization of 
Switzerland. These transactions with Lewis were the be- 
ginning of these evil practices, — practices which seriously 
lowered the dignity and independence of the Swiss people 
down to the abolition of the military capitulations by the Con- 
stitution of 1848. An individual Swiss can now sell himself 
to a foreign power, just as an individual Englishman can ; 
but no Swiss commonwealth can now, as a commonwealth, 
sell its citizens to the service of strangers. The beginning 
of these degrading habits is to be traced to the war of Bur- 
gundy ; but it is not fair to speak, as De Gingins and 
Mr. Kirk do, of the war of Burgundy itself as an instance of 
mercenary service. We believe that in that war the Swiss 
were neither strictly fighting for their hearths and homes 
nor yet basely shedding their blood in an alien quarrel. 
They were fighting in a war of policy, a war into which they 
had drifted, as the phrase is, through a variety of influences. 
But we decline to look on French gold and intrigues as the 
sino-le cause of the war, of which we hold them to have been 
only one cause among several. We look on the war, like most 
other wars, as a war of doubtful justice and expediency, a 
war which had much to be said for it and much to be said 
against it. We cannot look on it as a war of mere brigandage, 
or on the Swiss who were engaged in it as mere mercenary 

The Swiss then acted simply like other people, neither 

2 B 


better nor worse ; only there is a sort of disposition in many 
minds specially to blame the Swiss if they did not act better 
than other people. They were republicans, and they ought 
to have set examples of all the republican virtues. But in 
truth the Swiss of that age were not theoretical republicans 
at all. They had the strongest possible attachment to the 
rights of their own cities and districts, but they had no 
notion whatever of the rights of man. They had no rhetori- 
cal horror of Kings, such as appears in some measure among 
the old Greeks and Romans, and in a form of exaggerated 
caricature among the French revolutionists. In truth they 
were subjects of a King ; true they had no King but Csesar, 
but Caesar was their King, though thay had contrived 
to cut down his royal powers to a vanishing point. Again, 
people often fancy that the Swiss of that day were wholly a 
people of shepherds and mountaineers, like the Swiss of a 
hundred and fifty years earlier. They expect to find in every 
part of the Confederation the supposed simple virtues of the 
inhabitants of the Forest Cantons. But the refined and 
skilful statesmen and diplomatists of the Bernese aristocracy 
were men of quite another mould. They lived in the great 
world of general politics, and they were neither better nor 
worse than other people who lived in it. Their standard was 
doubtless always higher than that of the mere slaves of a 
court, but we have no right to expect from them an impossible 
career of heroic virtue ; it is enough if they reach the con- 
temporary standard of fairly honest men in other countries. 

There are then points in which we cannot unreservedly 
follow Mr. Kirk, and points in which we think that his way 
of looking at things is defective. There are also faults of 
style, which are the more provoking because Mr. Kirk can 
write thoroughly well whenever he chooses. But we must 
not be thought to be blind to Mr. Kirk's real and great 
merits. He is many degrees removed from that class of 
historians who draw theii facts and their inferences alike 
from their imaginations, who blunder in every detail, and 


who, when their blunders are pointed out, repeat them in 
pamphlets or in new editions, as may be convenient. Mr. 
Kirk belongs to the school of good, honest, hard work. Such 
faults as he has clearly arise, not from any want of due care in 
dealing with his immediate subject, but rather from not fully 
grasping the position of his immediate subject in the general 
history of the world. On one point especially Mr. Kirk has 
done really good service ; that is, with regard to the character 
of his own hero. It is, of course, easy for a man whose studies 
have gathered round one particular person to rate that 
person somewhat above his merits, especially if he be one 
who has commonly been rated below his merits. But it is 
just as easy to cry out " hero-worship " whenever a man's 
studies have led him to take a more favourable view of any 
historical character than has commonly been taken. Mr. 
Kirk is very far from being an undiscerning panegyrist or 
apologist of Charles the Bold. But some ingenious hand 
might doubtless, by carefully bringing forward this passage 
and carefully leaving out the other, give the impression that 
he is an undiscerning panegyrist. To us he certainly seems 
somewhat to overrate Charles, but he does not overrate him 
more than is almost unavoidable in one to whom Charles 
must have been for many years the main subject of his 
thoughts. And the overrating of Charles is undoubtedly a 
fault on the right side. The novels of Scott have led people 
in general to see nothing but an embodiment of brute force 
in a man whose very mixed character is a really instructive 
study of human nature. It would be an abuse of words to 
call Charles either a great man or a good man; but there 
were in his character strong elements both of greatness and 
goodness. To compare him with a man who soars in all 
things far above him, we may see in Charles the same in- 
flexible will, the some stern and unbending justice, many 
of the same personal virtues, which mark the character of 
William the Great. We may see in him too the same utter 
indifference to human suffering ; but in both it is simple in- 
difference, and never grows into actual delight in oppression. 

2 B 2 

372 CHARLES THE BOLD. [Essay Xr 

But no man was ever further than Charles from William's 
political skill ; he had no trace of that marvellous power by 
which William knew how to make every man his instrument, 
how to adapt the fitting means to every end, how to mark 
the right time, the right way, the right place, for the accom- 
plishment of every scheme. Hence, lacking the guidance 
of that master intellect, those very qualities which made 
William well nigh the master of destiny made Charles only 
the sport of fortune. His later history is conceived in the 
very spirit of iEschylean tragedy. And as far as the part 
of the Messenger is concerned, one can hardly wish for any 
improvement in Mr. Kirk's acting. It is then the more pity 
that he should have failed so thoroughly, failed, so to speak, 
by his own choice, as he has failed in the part of Chorus. 

On the whole then we welcome Mr. Kirk as a worthy 
accession to the same company as his countrymen Prescott 
and Motley. The subjects of the three are closely connected. 

The historian of Philip the Second and the historian of the 
United Netherlands do, in effect, carry on the story of 
Charles, his family, and his dominions. Their tale tells how 
one corner of those dominions rose for a short time to the 
highest point of European glory, and how the great work of 
the Middle Kingdom, to act as the bulwark of Germany and 
of Europe against the aggression of the Western Kingdom, 
was thrown on a few of the smallest of the many states whose 
names served to swell the roll-call of Charles's titles. And 
when we see other large portions of those states now helping 
to swell the might of the power which they once held in 
check, we cannot help wishing, even without throwing our- 
selves on the other side with all the zeal of Mr. Kirk, that 
the stout pikes and halberts of Switzerland had never been 
melded against one who seemed marked out by destiny as 
the restorer of the Middle Kingdom. 

( 373 ) 



In planning a political constitution — an employment which 
always has a slightly ludicrous side to it, but which, in many 
conditions of a nation, is a sad necessity — the makers of the 
new machine have to consider the necessary partition of 
powers under a twofold aspect. They have to decide both as 
to the number of departments among which authority is to 
be divided, and as to the hands in which authority of each 
kind is to be vested. Thus, the British Constitution in its 
legal theory, the Federal Constitutions of America and 
Switzerland, and the type of constitution common among 
the American States, all agree in dividing the powers of 
government between two Legislative Chambers and an exe- 
cutive power distinct from both. The partition of powers, as 
far as the number of departments goes, is much the same in 
all these cases ; but the nature of the hands in which power 
is placed differs widely in the different examples. There is 
undoubtedly a considerable difference in the amount of power 
which each of these constitutions gives to its executive ; but 
the difference in the amount of power is less striking than 
the difference in the nature of the hands in which that power 
is vested. England entrusts the executive authority to an 
hereditary King ; the United States, and the several States 
generally, entrust it to an elective President or Governor ; 
the Swiss Confederation entrusts it to an elective Council. 
America, it is clear, here forms a mean between Switzerland 
and England. It agrees with England — that is, with the legal 
theory of England — in placing the executive power in the 
hands of a single person, and not in those of a Council ; it 


agrees with Switzerland in making the depository of execu- 
tive power elective and responsible instead of hereditary and 
irresponsible. An almost infinite number of cross divisions 
might be made by comparing any of these constitutions with 
those which agree with them in some particular points and 
differ in others. Thus the French Constitution of 1791 had an 
hereditary King, and only a single Chamber ; and the present 
Kingdom of Greece, where the Senate was abolished by the 
last-made constitution, has followed the same model. These 
constitutions, so far as their executive is single, approach to 
the English and American type ; so far as their executive is 
hereditary, they approach to the English type as distinguished 
from the American ; but so far as they have only a single 
Legislative Chamber, they forsake the models of England, 
America, and Federal Switzerland, and approach to the type 
of constitution common anions the Swiss Cantons. Almost 
any number of changes can be rung in this way. We thus 
see how inadequate any one classification of governments is, 
if it is sought to apply it to all purposes, and how almost 
every topic of political disquisition calls for a classification 
of its own. In the little way that we have gone, we find 
monarchic and republican constitutions showing marks of 
likeness or unlikeness to one another, quite independent of 
their likeness or unlikeness as monarchies and republics. 
And any questions between aristocracy and democracy have 
not as yet come in at all. The aristocratic or democratic 
nature of a constitution depends much more on the constitution 
of the Legislative Chambers than either on their number or on 
their relation to the executive. No doubt the purest forms 
of democracy and of aristocracy, those in which all power 
is vested in an assembly of the whole people or of the 
whole privileged class among the people, would be incon- 
sistent with any of the forms of executive which we have 
spoken of. Hut any of these forms could co-exist with what 
is now generally understood by aristocracy or democracy, 
namely, an aristocratic or a democratic way of choosing the 
Legislative Chambers. Of the many possible cross divisions 


the one which concerns us for the purpose of the present 
essay is one which arranges constitutions according to the 
nature of the hands in which the executive power is vested ; 
according, for instance, as that power is placed in the hands 
of a King, a President, or a Council. 

The distinction between an executive President and an 
executive Council is obvious. Is there, or is there not, some 
one person to whose sole hands the executive power is com- 
mitted in such a degree that whatever is done in the exe- 
cutive department is his personal act, while any other persons 
who may be concerned are merely his agents or advisers ? 
The American President is a President of this kind ; every 
executive act is his act ; many things depend wholly on his 
personal pleasure ; other acts of his require the confirmation 
of the Senate ; still the Senate merely confirms, and cannot 
act of itself ; the act is strictly the act of the President. The 
President has his ministers ; but they are strictly his ministers, 
named by him, and dependent on him ; they are his advisers 
and agents, not his colleagues. The position of the Swiss 
President of the Confederation (Bundesprasiclent), though 
his title is so similar, is wholly different. He is simply chair- 
man, with the usual powers of a chairman, of the real exe- 
cutive body, the Federal Council (Bundesrath). The other 
members of that Council are his colleagues, not his mere 
agents or advisers ; executive acts are the acts of the Coimcil 
as a body, not of the President personally, and it is of course 
possible that a majority of the Council may come to a resolu- 
tion of which the President does not approve. These two 
systems may be taken as typical examples. Few republican 
States have invested a single magistrate with such large 
powers as the American President, while few commonwealths 
have given a nominal chief magistrate so small a degree of 
power as belongs to the Swiss President. In truth, the Swiss 
President is not a chief magistrate at all ; he is simply chief 
of a board, which board, in its collective character, acts as chief 
magistrate. It is not the Federal President personally, but the 
Federal Council as a body, which answers to the Presidents, 


Consuls, Doges, and Gonfaloniers of other commonwealths. 
His title in truth is a misleading one; he is not President of the 
Confederation, but simply President of the Federal Council. 
Between these two extreme types it is easy to imagine 
several intermediate forms, some coming nearer to the Ameri- 
can and some to the Swiss type. Thus the General of the 
Achaian League, whose position so wonderfully forestalled 
that of the American President, differed from him in his 
relation to what may be called his Cabinet, the Council of 
demiourgoi. In most matters the General and his Council 
seem to have acted together, while others came within the 
distinct competence of the General alone and of the Council 
alone. But, even where the General and Council acted 
together, they acted as two distinct authorities in the State ; 
the action of the General in such a case was something 
between that of the American President asking the con- 
firmation of the Senate to an executive act and that of the 
Swiss President taking the chair at a meeting of his col- 
leagues. So again, many of the American States have, at 
different times, assisted or encumbered their chief magistrate 
with a Council of State. For instance, the Pennsylvanian 
Constitution of 1776 vested executive power in a President 
and Council, the President being apparently a mere chair- 
man. This is hardly distinguishable from the Swiss Federal 
model. The Virginian Constitution of the same year gave 
its Governor a Privy Council, but allowed him a somewhat 
more independent position. He was bound, in most cases, to 
act by the advice of the Privy Council, but this is a different 
thing from being a mere chairman of that body. The Swiss 
Cantons again commit the executive power to Councils ; there 
seems to be no Canton where the chief magistrate holds the 
independent position of an American Federal President 
or an American State < Jovernor. But here too intermediate 
shades may be seen; in many of the Cantons the chief 
magistrate, like the Federal President, is a mere chairman 
of the, Council, but in others he holds a decidedly higher 
relative position. His (it'licial title, for instance, often forms 


part of the style of the Canton ; in the purely democratic 
Cantons, the Landammann has the great advantage of pro- 
siding both in the executive Council and in the Landesge- 
meinde or Assembly of the People ; in Inner- Appenzell he 
even has large constitutional powers to be exercised personally. 
In fact, in these cases where the executive power belongs to 
a President and Council, it is easy to conceive every possible 
shade between the two types. There is manifestly a wide dif- 
ference between merely presiding in a Council, with a casting- 
vote in case of necessity, and having to act by the advice of 
a Council. If, in the latter, case, the President retains the 
sole initiative, his position will come very nearly to that of the 
President of the United States with regard to the Senate. 

Another type of executive, which may in some sort be 
called intermediate between the Council and the independent 
President, may be found in such a magistracy as that of the 
Eoman Consuls. Here are two chief magistrates of equal 
power, whose number at once distinguishes them alike from 
the Council and from the single President. The Achaian 
League too, in its earlier days, placed two Generals at the 
head of the State. The first impression of a modern reader 
is that such a government must have come to a perpetual 
dead-lock. Yet it is certain from the Eoman history that 
such was not the ordinary condition of the Roman common- 
wealth. Interruptions to the regular march of government 
arose much more commonly from the clashing of the con- 
sular and tribunitian power than from dissensions between 
the Consuls themselves. But in truth, though the Consuls 
were the chief magistrates of the commonwealth, it cannot 
be said that the executive power was vested in them in the 
same sense in which it is vested in the President of the 
United States. The government of Rome, in the modern 
sense of the word government, was certainly vested in the 
Senate. The other magistrates also, though inferior in rank * 

* That is the regular permanent magistracies, all of which were inferior 
to the Consulship. The Dictatorship was only an occasional office, and 
though Censors were appointed at regular intervals their office was not a 
permanent one. 


to the Consuls, were still strictly co-ordinate with thern, and 
were in no sense their agents or delegates. We know so 
little of the Achaian League during the days of the double 
generalship that we cannot say from direct evidence how it 
worked. But the fact that a single General was, after a 
few years, substituted for two, seems to show that it worked 

As a President is, on the one hand, clearly distinguished 
from a Council, so he is, on the other hand, no less clearly 
distinguished from a King. This distinction seems almost 
more obvious than the former one ; yet intermediate forms 
may be seen here also, and to define a King may not be 
quite so easy as it seems at first sight. What, for instance, 
was the King of Poland or the Doge of Venice? What 
were the two Kings of Sparta ? The Spartan case may be 
easily set aside. Sparta was not a case either of regal or of 
presidential government. The Kings were so far from being 
Kings in the ordinary sense that they were not even chief 
magistrates. The real executive was a Council, the College 
of Ephors. The Kings were hereditary generals and here- 
ditary priests; they were reverenced on account of their divine 
ancestry, and were placed in a position where an able King 
might attain to a commanding influence in the state ; but 
their constitutional powers were of the very narrowest kind. 
The mere title of King proves nothing ; it was kept on in 
other Greek commonwealths besides Sparta ; it was even the 
style of one of the annual Archons under the Democracy of 
Athens. The two modern cases are more difficult. Venice 
and Poland, though both had princes, both bore the name of 
republics, and Venice is universally classed among republican 
states. Poland is less usually recognized as a republic. 
This is probably because there is felt to be a contradiction in 
the notion of a republic under a King, which is not felt in 
tin- notion of a republic under a Doge. People do not fully 
grasp that Dogu is simply the local form of Duke, nor do they 
folly grasp thai other Indian Dukes were, in all save a barren 
precedence, the eqoals of Kings. Hut the King of Poland ami 


the Duke of Venice were in the beginning as truly sovereign 
as other Kings and other Dukes ; only their powers had been 
gradually cut down to a point which seemed almost to remove 
them out of the class of princes into that of mere magistrates. 
But, as having once been really sovereigns, they still kept 
much of that personal position which distinguishes the prince 
from the magistrate. The King of Poland especially, though 
he might not be of royal birth, though he was not in the 
possession of ordinary royal powers, was still, in personal rank 
and privilege, looked on as the peer of other Kings. The 
constitutional authority of both princes was far less than that 
of the American President, but, being elected for life, they 
enjoyed, like the Spartan Kings, far greater opportunities of 
obtaining a permanent influence in the state. Other in- 
stances might be found elsewhere, as the hereditary Stadt- 
holder in the United Provinces, the Lord Protector in 
England, the First Consul in France. But it may be observed 
that this ambiguous kind of government has seldom been 
lasting. Venice and Poland have been the only countries 
where it could really be called permanent. In France and 
England — we might perhaps add Holland — it has either 
fallen to pieces or grown into undisguised monarchy. 

Setting aside these intermediate cases, and forbearing also 
to speculate as to the exact nature of kingship, we may say 
that the main difference between a King and a President is 
that the President is distinctly responsible to the law, that 
he may be judged and deposed by a legal process, and that 
there is nothing about him of that mysterious personal 
dignity which, in the minds of most people, still hangs about 
a King. Whether the powers of a President are great or 
small, he is simply a magistrate, to be obeyed within the 
range of his powers, but who is liable to legal punishment if 
he outsteps them. This would seem to be the most essential 
difference between a President and a King. A King, how- 
ever limited his powers may be, is, in all modern constitu- 
tions, personally irresponsible. His command is no justifica- 
tion of any illegal act done by another, but no constitutional 


monarchy seems to supply any regular means of punishing 
an illegal act done by the King's own hands. If the King 
be deposed or set aside in any way, it is clearly by some un- 
usual—not necessarily unjustifiable— stretch of authority on 
the part of some other power in the state ; there is no court 
before which the King can be arraigned in ordinary process 
of law. But the President holds office only during good 
behaviour, and he may be deposed by sentence of a com- 
petent court. This responsibility of the President and 
irresponsibility of the King seems to be the main difference 
between them. It seems indeed essential that the President 
should be elective, but this is no necessary point of difference 
between the President and the King. An elective King is 
none the less a King, but an hereditary President would have 
made a most important advance towards exchanging pre- 
sidentship for royalty. So, though it is essential to kingship 
that the office should be held for life, this again is no neces- 
sary distinction between a King and a President. A repub- 
lican President may be elected for life, as the Florentine 
Gonfalonier was in the latter days of that republic, and as the 
President of the United States would have been according to 
the first scheme of Alexander Hamilton. The one real dis- 
tinction lies in the President's responsibility. The divinity 
which hedges in a King, and which does not hedge in a 
President, is something which is of no small practical impor- 
tance, but it is hardly capable of political definition. This 
special feeling about a King seems mainly to arise from that 
vague religious character with which most nations have loved 
to invest their princes. In most heathen nations a supposed 
divine descent is held to be essential to the royal office ; most 
< 'liristiau nations have supplied an analogous kind of sanctity 
in the form of an ecclesiastical consecration of the monarch. 
But even this is not an essential distinction. Some modern 
Kings dispense with any ecclesiastical ceremony ; and though 
no religious character attaches to any modern republican 
ruler, such has aol been the case in all commonwealths. The 
official sanctity of the Eoman Kings clave in no small measure 


to the republican magistrates among whom their powers 
were divided ; and there is, to say the least, no contradiction 
in terms in conceiving an ecclesiastical inauguration of a 
responsible President as well as of an irresponsible King. 

We have thus reached our definition of a President. He 
is a single, elective, responsible, magistrate to whom the 
chief executive power in a commonwealth is entrusted. His 
responsibility distinguishes him from a King ; his numerical 
unity distinguishes him from an executive Council. His 
elective character he shares with the Council ; he may share 
it with the King. Whether he is elected for life or for a 
term is a point of detail of the particular constitution under 
which he acts. It may be here remarked that the examples 
of the several classes which have been chosen have been 
taken indiscriminately from single commonwealths and from 
Federations. For in a perfect Federal government, one 
where the Federal and the State power are strictly co-ordi- 
nate, where the Federal power has direct authority, within its 
own range, over every citizen, the powers, executive, legisla- 
tive, and judicial, to be distributed among the Federal 
authorities will be precisely the same as in a consolidated 
state. The form of government may be exactly the same in a 
great confederation as in a single small canton. The peculiar 
position of a Federal Government, its special duties, relations, 
and dangers, may suggest one form of legislature or of execu- 
tive as preferable to another, just as any other circumstances 
of the commonwealth may do so. But there is nothing in the 
Federal character of any particular state which directly affects 
the distribution of the powers of government, or which hinders 
its constitution from being fairly compared with other con- 
stitutions which are not Federal. The President of the Union 
and the Governor of the State are powers exactly analogous 
within their several spheres ; that they both form part of one 
greater political system in no way affects their position as 
the heads of two distinct and parallel political constitutions. 

We have compared our President with a King and with a 
Council, and we have distinguished him from both. But it 


will at once be felt that the comparison between the Presi- 
dent and the constitutional King is not a very practical one- 
In most limited or constitutional monarchies the person really 
to be compared with the President is not the King, the legal 
and apparent head of the state, but another person of whose 
position as practical head of the state the law in most cases 
knows nothing. That is to say, it is not the King, but his 
First Minister, who fills the position which is really analogous 
to that of the President of a republic. At the same time it 
may be as well to remark that this is by no means necessarily 
the case in all constitutional monarchies. It is curious to 
see how people always assume that " constitutional monarchy" 
must mean that particular form of it where the royal power 
is practically vested in the King's Ministers. In like manner 
it is commonly assumed that " parliamentary government " 
must mean that particular form of it where Parliament is 
assisted, guided, or controlled by the same body, a body it 
may be, as in our own country, wholly unknown to the law. 
That is to say, by " constitutional monarchy " and " parlia- 
mentary government" people understand exclusively that 
t'i urn of government by which all the powers of the King and 
a large portion of the powers of the Parliament are practically 
transferred to the body known as a Cabinet or Ministry. 
This mode of speech puts out of sight those states where the 
powers of the King are distinctly limited by law, but where, 
within the limits of his legal powers, he acts according to his 
personal will. Such is the case with the constitutions both of 
Sweden and of Norway. Both are constitutional monarchies, 
both are parliamentary governments ; but the device of a 
( labinet to guide both King and Parliament till Parliament 
prefers the guidance of some other Cabinet is unknown to 
them. The Norwegian Constitution is probably the most 
democratic form of government that ever included an here- 
ditary King as one of its elements. The royal authority is 
more narrowly limited than in any other kingdom, yet the 
personal will el' a King of Norway counts for more than the 
personal will of a King el' England. That is to say, small as 


is the degree of authority which the law gives him, he is free 
to exercise it according to his personal discretion. The con- 
stitution binds him to consult his State Council, but it dis- 
tinctly affirms that the final decision of all matters within the 
range of his authority rests with himself. He is personally 
irresponsible ; all responsibility rests with his Councillors, but 
any Councillor who dissents from the royal decision may 
escape all responsibility by a formal protest against it. Here 
is a limited monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, but a mon- 
archy in which there is no approach to a Ministry in our 
sense of the word. King and Parliament have their distinct 
functions traced out by law ; but in case of differences be- 
tween them, they are brought face to face as opposing powers, 
in a way in which an English King and an English Parlia- 
ment have not been brought face to face for some genera- 
tions. Here then is a king who clearly may be personally 
compared with a republican President. He is personally 
irresponsible ; he succeeds by hereditary right and not by 
election ; but his actual functions are as nearly as possible 
the same as those of a President, and they are quite different 
from those of an English King. In England it is not the 
King, but his chief Minister, with whom the President should 
really be compared. 

The theory of cabinet government, of what is commonly 
called constitutional or parliamentary government, is that 
the legal functions of the King and a large portion of the 
legal functions of Parliament are transferred to a body of 
Ministers. These Ministers are appointed by the King, but, 
as they must be chosen by him out of the party which has 
the upper hand in the House of Commons, they may be said 
to be indirectly chosen by the House of Commons itself. 
They exercise the executive functions of the Crown, and they 
possess a practical initiative in all important points of legisla- 
tion. If their policy is censured, or even if any important 
ministerial proposal is rejected, they resign office. They may 
indeed escape for a season by dissolving Parliament, but if the 
new House of Commons confirms the adverse vote of its pre- 


decessor, there is no hope for them left. At the head of this 
body stands one Minister, the chief of the Cabinet, the leader 
of one or other House of Parliament, who is really the person 
to be compared with the President under the other system. 
Now all this is purely conventional ; the law knows nothing 
of the Ministry, as a Ministry ; it knows the several Ministers 
as personal holders of certain offices ; it knows them as Privy 
Councillors and as members of one or other House of Parlia- 
ment ; in all these characters, if they come within the reach 
of the law, the law can deal with them. A Minister who 
acts illegally in his office, a Privy Councillor who gives the 
sovereign illegal advice, can be touched by impeachment or 
otherwise ; his rjarliamentary conduct, like that of any other 
member, is cognizable by that House of Parliament to which 
he belongs. All this is matter of law ; but the doctrine of 
ministerial responsibility, the duty of a Ministry to resign if 
the House of Commons disapprove of its policy, the duty of 
the whole Ministry to stand together in Parliament, the 
consequent duty of a dissentient Minister to compromise or 
conceal his differences with his colleagues or else to re- 
sign his office — all these doctrines, familiar as we are with 
them, are mere customs which have gradually, and some of 
them very recently, grown up, and of which the law of 
England knows nothing. The power of the Cabinet has 
gradually increased during the last hundred years. The 
names by which the persons actually in power have been 
called at different times bear witness to their rapid increase 
in importance. In George the Third's reign people spoke of 
"Administration;" at the time of the Eeform Bill it was 
'• Ministers," or "the Ministry;" it is only quite lately that 
the word " Government," which once meant Kings, Lords, and 
< lommons, lias come to be applied to this extra-legal body. 
Y.t we u'-w habitually speak of " the Government," of "Lord 
Palmerston's Government," of "Lord Derby's Government," 
meaning thereby a certain knot of Privy Councillors, of 
whom it would be impossible to give any legal definition. 
The expression is so common that people use it withoiii in 


the least thinking how very modern it is, and how singular 
is the state of things which it implies. As Lord Macaulay 
says, the Cabinet seems to have been unknown to writers like 
De Lolme and Blackstone, who never mentioned it among the 
powers of the state. It is more important to remark that 
the existence of the British Cabinet seems to have attracted 
no attention among the disputants for and against the Ameri- 
can Constitution. The opponents of the Constitution objected 
to the position and powers of the President as being too near 
an approach to kingship. Hamilton answered them by 
showing how much greater were the restrictions placed upon 
the power of the President than those which were placed 
upon the power of the King. But neither party seems to 
have paid any attention to the fact that the President can 
exercise his smaller powers far more freely than the King 
can exercise his greater powers. They speak as if the King 
of Great Britain could act as independently within his own 
range as the King of Sweden and Norway. They recognise 
the restrictions imposed by the written law, but they pay no 
attention to the further restrictions which were even then 
imposed by the conventional " constitution." This shows 
how widely the Cabinet system has developed since Hamil- 
ton's time, and how complete is the recognition which, with- 
out receiving any more legal sanction than before, it has 
obtained in general opinion and in popular modes of speech. 
No one now could fail to see the fallacy of comparing a 
President who acts for himself, or by the advice of Ministers 
chosen by himself personally and dependent on him only, 
with a King who acts at every step by the advice of Ministers 
who may have been forced upon him in the first instance, 
and whom he may, at any moment, be called on to dismiss. 
Every one now would see that the real comparison, for like- 
ness and unlikeness, lies between the two practical leaders 
of the state under the tAvo systems, though the chiefship of 
the one is a matter of positive legal enactment, while the 
chiefship of the other is a matter of imwritten constitutional 

The main distinction bet\veen the President of a republic 

2 c 


and the First Minister of a constitutional kingdom seems to 
be this. The President is elected for a definite time, and 
except in the case of some definite crime being judicially 
proved against him, he cannot be constitutionally got rid of 
before the end of that time. Be his rule never so bad, still, 
if he does not break the letter of the law, he must be endured 
till the end of his year or of his four years; be his rule 
never so good, the country must part with him at the end of his 
term, or at any rate his further existence in office must be put 
to the risk of a fresh election. But the First Minister, hold- 
ing a purely conventional office, holds it for no fixed term ; if 
his policy be disapproved, a vote of the House of Commons 
can get rid of him at any moment : if he continues to give 
satisfaction, he may, without any formal vote about it, be 
continued in office for the rest of his days. This seems to be 
the one essential difference between a President and a First 
Minister ; any other differences are not inherent in the nature 
of the two offices, but depend on the circumstances of par- 
ticular countries and on the provisions of particular constitu- 
tions. It follows that there is an important difference between 
the position of an English Minister and that of an American 
President with regard to the national Legislature. The English 
Minister and all his colleagues in the Cabinet are necessarily 
members of one or other House of Parliament ; they take 
the lead in its debates, and have the chief management of its 
business ; it is in the House, as members of the House, and 
not as an external power, that they explain their policy and 
defend it against objectors. In America, on the other hand, 
neither the President nor his Ministers can be members of 
either House of Congress. The President indeed, under a 
representative constitution, can hardly be conceived as being 
a mi in I ><-r of either branch of the Legislature. He can com- 
municate with Congress only by formal messages and speeches 
like a king ; he cannot take his place as a member and join 
in a debate.* But the exclusion of the President's Ministers 

* [The existing state of things in France (January, 1872) — one can 
hardly dignify it by the name of constitution— docs give us a President 
who i 8 also a member of the Assembly. 


is a mere point of detail in the American Constitution, which 
might quite well have been otherwise ordered. There is not 
indeed the same necessity for the President's Ministers to be 
members of the Legislature as there is in a constitutional 
monarchy ; but there seems no inherent difficulty in their 
being so if it should so happen. Accordingly the Constitu- 
tion of the Confederate States has somewhat relaxed the 
restriction.* By that constitution no office-holder can be a 
member of Congress, but Congress is empowered to grant by 
law to certain great officers a seat in either House, with the 
right of discussing measures affecting his own department. 
And in one class of republics it is clear that neither the 
President nor any officer of the state can be excluded from 
the legislative body. In a pure democracy, transacting its 
affairs in a primary assembly, the magistrates as citizens of 
the commonwealth, can be no more shut out of the assembly 
than any other citizens. Thus in the purely democratic 
Cantons of Switzerland, the chief magistrate, the Landani- 
mann, is President alike of the executive council and of the 
Landesgemeincle or general assembly of all citizens of full 
age. So in the Achaian League, the General, being an 
Achaian citizen, was necessarily a member of the Federal 
Assembly, and, being a member of the Assembly and more- 
over not being its President, he naturally took a place in it 
exactly answering to that of our Leader of the House. In 
fact, the constitution of the Achaian Assembly, as a primary 
assembly, allowed the Achaian General to hold a position 
much more nearly answering to that of an English First 
Minister than the representative constitution of the American 
Congress allows to the American President. A Soman Consul 

I ought perhaps to have mentioned, though it does not strictly bear on 
the position of Presidents, that the members of the Swiss Federal Council 
may attend and speak in either House of the Federal Assembly, but with- 
out the right of voting.] 

* [I leave the references to American affairs as I wrote them in October, 
1864. The Confederate constitution is just as well worth studying as a 
piece of constitution-making a g if the Southern Confederation had lasted.] 

2 c 2 


again, as being a Roman citizen, was necessarily a member of 
the Roman popular Assembly, which he could convoke and 
preside in at pleasure. And this same rule equally applies to 
aristocratic commonwealths possessing a primary assembly, 
one, that is, in which every member of the privileged order 
has a seat by right of birth without any election. Thus the 
Duke of Venice could not be shut out from the Great 
Council nor the Spartan Kings from the Assembly of the 
Spartan citizens. It follows therefore that this peculiarity of 
the American Constitution, by which all executive officers 
are excluded from the legislature, is by no means inherent in 
the nature of Presidential Government. Still less is the 
mode of election, or any other detail of the American Con- 
stitution. The one real and essential difference between a 
President and a First Minister is that given already, that a 
President holds a legal position for a definite time, a First 
Minister holds a conventional position for such a time as the 
legislature, or one branch of it, may tacitly think fit. 

And now for a few words as to the practical working of 

Presidential Government, especially in its American form, as 

compared with the working of constitutional monarchy as it is 

understood among ourselves. In making this comparison we 

must take care to confine it to the points which really enter 

into the comparison, for there are many points of difference 

between the British and American Constitutions which wholly 

arise from other causes, and which have nothing to do with 

the difference in the form of the executive. Thus both 

Houses of Congress are elective, while one House of our 

Parliament is hereditary. But in other constitutional 

monarchies the body answering to our House of Lords is 

often elective or nominated, and an hereditary chamber in 

a republic, though not at all likely, is perfectly possible. So 

again, the peculiar constitution of the American Senate arises 

from the fact that the American constitution is a Federal 

constitution, but it has nothing to do with the special form 

of the American executive. The same constitution of the 

Senate is, as wo see in Switzerland, equally consistent with 


an executive Council ; it would be equally consistent with a 
Federal monarchy, a form of government as yet untried, but 
perfectly possible in idea.* But some of the special func- 
tions of the Senate, the necessity of its confirmation to 
certain acts of the President, are, in the nature of the case, 
derived from the fact that there is a President, and could 
hardly exist in a state governed by a First Minister.! Again, 
the fact that the constitution of the American House of 
Representatives is much more democratic than that of the 
English House of Commons has nothing whatever to do with 
the form of the American Executive. A House of Commons 
chosen by universal suffrage is perfectly consistent with 
hereditary kingship, and a House chosen by as narrow a body 
of electors as may be thought good is perfectly consistent 
with Presidential Government. In fact, it is a mistake to 
look upon the American Constitution as one inherently de- 
mocratic. The American Federal Constitution is in itself 
neither aristocratic nor democratic, but it is capable of being 
either, or any mixture of the two, according to the nature of 
the State constitutions.^ None of these points have any 

* [It has at last arisen in the German Imperial Constitution of 1871.] 
f One can conceive the acts of an hereditary King needing the confirma- 
tion of one branch of his legislature, just like the acts of the American 
President. Such an arrangement would he quite possible in a monarchy 
where the King, as in Sweden and Norway, acts for himself within the 
legal limits of his authority ; but it can hardly be conceived as existing, or 
at least as being practically efficient, in a monarchy where the King is in 
the hands of a ministry. 

% Speaking roughly, we may say that both the House of Representatives 
and the electors of the President — that is, practically, the President himself 
— are now chosen by universal suffrage ; but the Constitution in no way 
orders such a mode of election ; it is consistent with it, but it is equally 
consistent with modes of election highly aristocratic. The House of 
Representatives is to be chosen by those persons who have votes for the 
most numerous branch of the Legislature of their own State, a provision 
perfectly consistent with an aristocratic, or even with an oligarchic, con- 
stitution of the State Government ; and it is well known that, though no 
State could ever be strictly called aristocratic, yet most of the States 
at first required a higher or lower property qualification in the electors. 
Again, the electors of the President in each State are appointed as the 


immediate connexion with the fact that the head of the 
American commonwealth is neither a King nor a Council, 
but a President. They may influence the practical working 
of the executive, but they have nothing to do with deter- 
mining its form. We have now to look only at those dif- 
ferences which arise immediately from the special form of the 
American executive, again distinguishing those which are in- 
herent in Presidential Government as such as those which 
arise from special provisions in the American Constitution. 

The main differences between the two systems, the main 
weaknesses, as Englishmen are apt to think them, of the 
American system, are obvious enough, and they have been 
set forth by many writers. But most English writers, writing, 
as they commonly do, with some immediate party aim, have 
not taken the needful pains to distinguish what is essential 
in either system from what is incidental ; and they have too 
often used the whole controversy merely as a means of pointing 
declamations against federalism or democracy or republican 
government in general. The first difference which imme- 
diately flows from the nature of Presidential Government, 
as distinguished from Cabinet Government, has been already 
stated. It is this, that the President's office comes to an end 
at a fixed time, till which time he cannot, save in very excep- 
tional cases, be removed, while the First Minister may be got 
rid of at once or may be continued indefinitely. What we call 
" a ministerial crisis" is, under the Presidential system, neces- 
sarily brought on at some time fixed beforehand. In England 
such a " crisis " occurs whenever the ministry is not in har- 
mony with a majority of the House of Commons, and it can 
hardly happen at any other time. When it does happen, 
the Minister cither resigns or dissolves. The Ministry and 
the House are thus brought into harmony, either by the 
formation of a new Ministry in harmony with the House 
or by the election of a new House in harmony with the 

Legislature of each State may determine, which of course is not necessarily 
l>y a popular vote. The legislature of Smith Carolina always kept the 
Domination of the electors in its own bands. 


Ministry. But iu America, if the President and the Congress 
do not agree, neither party has any means of getting rid of 
the other. The President cannot dissolve Congress, and he 
is in no way called on to resign his own office. Thus it is 
quite possible that the executive and legislative branches 
may be in state of discord for four years. On the other 
hand, a President of whom Congress thoroughly approves, 
and of whom the country thoroughly approves, may come to 
the end of his term of office when nothing calls for any 
change of men or of measures, and, though he may be re- 
elected, yet his continuance in office is at least jeoparded, 
and the country is obliged to go through the excitement and 
turmoil of a presidential election. This disadvantage seems 
inherent in any sort of Presidential Government. The Con- 
federate constitution gives the President six years instead of 
four, and makes him ineligible for re-election. The diffi- 
culty is in no way avoided by this change. It indeed enables 
a good President to be kept in office for a longer time, 
but it also requires a bad President to be endured for a 
longer time. By forbidding re-election, it escapes certain 
evils which have been produced by the possibility of re- 
election, but it does so only at the risk of introducing at 
least an equal evil. It is possible, and indeed probable, that 
the Confederate provision may deprive the commonwealth 
of the services of its best citizen just when they are most 
wanted. In truth the evil is one inherent in the form of 
government; it may, by judicious provisions, be made less 
baneful, but it cannot be got rid of altogether. It is the 
weak point of Presidential Government, a weak point to be 
fairly balanced against its strong points and against the weak 
points of other systems. 

This weak point however would not have been so obvious, 
nor would it have needed to be so much dwelled upon as it 
has been, if it had not been aggravated rather than diminished 
by certain provisions in the American Constitution. If the 
President were elected by Congress, or by some body chosen 
by or out of Congress, if his Ministers were allowed to be 


members of Congress or to appear and speak in Congress, the 
evils of the system would be greatly diminished, while the 
essential principles of Presidential Government would remain 
untouched. The system of election actually employed, one 
which most certainly was not contemplated by the founders 
of the Union, carries the evils of a great party struggle to 
their extreme point. The founders of the Union doubtless 
hoped that the election of electors would be a reality, that 
the primary electors would choose those men to whom they 
could best confide so great a trust, and that the electors thus 
chosen would elect independently and fearlessly. There 
was nothing absurd in such an expectation on the face of it. 
In some states of society the election of electors seems a per- 
fectly reasonable system. It is the system adopted in the 
election of the Legislature under the highly democratic con- 
stitution of Norway. But in Norway there are no political 
parties answering to those of England or America. In such 
a country the matters brought before the Storthing must be 
mainly of two kinds. There may be questions touching the 
national independence, about which there is only one opinion 
in the country ; there may be questions of practical improve- 
ment, not implying political differences, but requiring prac- 
tical knowledge or acuteness for their decision. A Parlia- 
ment which has to discharge such functions as these, to 
decide questions where the only difference is as to means 
and not as to ends, will most likely be better chosen by an 
intermediate body of electors. But such an intermediate 
body becomes a farce in any country where there are 
strongly marked political parties. Whether it be a Parlia- 
ment or a President which has to be elected, the only 
question asked of the primary candidate will be, "For whom 
will you vote ?" It is clear that, when it comes to this, the 
popular vote had much better be given directly. The inter- 
mediate electors exercise no real choice; their interposition 
does but serve to prolong the crisis of the election, and the 
time of unsettlement and no-government which it involves. 
The presidential election, as it is now conducted, is simply a 


party struggle on the most gigantic scale. The founders of the 
constitution doubtless hoped that the local question in each 
State or district would lie, not between this or that candidate 
for the Presidency, but between this or that candidate for the 
electorship of the President. But experience has shown this 
to be hopeless when the elector is simply chosen to elect 
and has no other duties. As it is, the election of the 
President is a trial of strength between national parties, in- 
tensified because the same personal question, the same choice 
between two or three candidates, is presented to a whole 
nation. It is a national election by universal suffrage, in 
which, after all, the candidate elected may not have a 
numerical majority* of the nation. This last possibility, 
whether it be reckoned as a gain or a loss, is the only way 
in which the existence of an intermediate body has any 
practical effect on the result of the election. 

The gradual falling off which has been often remarked in the 
character of the American Presidents, so far as it is a fact, is 
the natural result of the practical mode of election. "When 
each party selects its candidate in large conventions, it is not 
likely that the best man of the party will be chosen. An 
inferior man, who is less known, and who therefore has fewer 
enemies, is found to be a safer card. This is a great evil in 
itself, and it further tends to prevent really superior men 
from meddling with public affairs at all. But, after all, the 
fact must be taken with some modifications, and other causes 
have contributed to the result besides the mode of election. 
Great events bring great men to the surface ; in quieter 
times the average is lower, and there is less obvious need for 
choosing the greatest even of those who are to be had. The 
history of Rome shows this very plainly. In ordinary times 
the people chose ordinary Consuls, who very often broke down 
if any event occurred which required special ability. In most 

* If the majority of the presidential electors are chosen by small 
majorities in their several States, while the minority are chosen by lar^e 
majorities, it may well happen that the person who is chosen President 
may not have a numerical majority of the popular vote. 


of the later Boinan wars, the early campaigns are unsuccessful; 
an average Consul was sent to discharge duties which needed 
powers above the average ; defeat was therefore the result, 
till the right man, Scipio or Flamininus or iErnilius Paullus, 
was sent to retrieve the errors of his predecessors. So, in 
America, the republic started under the guidance of one of 
the very first of men, a man to whom but a few parallels are 
supplied by the whole history of the world. To expect a suc- 
cession of Washingtons would have been chimerical on the 
face of it. But it would have been hardly less unreasonable to 
look for a perpetual supply of Presidents of the stamp of 
Washington's successors from the elder Adams to the younger. 
That remarkable succession of able men of different parties 
was the natural fruit of a great struggle like the War of 
Independence. In another generation it was not to be ex- 
pected either that men of equal power should appear in 
equal abundance, or that they would be equally sure of rising 
to the highest places if they did appear. The mode of 
election into which that designed by Washington and 
Hamilton gradually changed did but aggravate this natural 
tendency, and made that a certain evil which was otherwise 
only a probable danger. Yet it needs a good deal of pre- 
judice to refuse to see in late elections the beginnings of 
better things. Mr. Buchanan, whatever were his actual 
shortcomings, started from a previous career of much greater 
promise than most of his recent predecessors. Few English- 
men will be found to approve of all the doings of Mr. Lincoln, 
still it is ridiculous to speak of him as the mere drivelling 
idiot which it suits party prejudice to call him.* And Mr. 
Lincoln, it should be remembered, was chosen before the 
crisis, as a mere average President in ordinary times. The 
choice of General M'Clellan as his opponent was a distinct 
return to the older and better system. That the South, 
choosing after the crisis had begun, and with infinitely more 
at stake than the North, put its best men at its head, is 

* [The time when this was written, when Mr. Lincoln was a candidate 
for his sec I presidency, will be remembered.] 


universally allowed. But the constitutional mode of election 
in the two confederations was exactly the same. He therefore 
who admires the result of the system in the one case has no 
right to decry it as irretrievably corrupt in the other. 

After all, it may be fairly asked whether the average of 
the American Presidents is not pretty much on a level with 
the average of Ministers in the constitutional states of 
Europe. We must look at their acts, not at their words ; we 
must allow for the natural self-assertion of a people at once 
young and powerful ; we must remember that America has 
not, like the nations of Europe, the advantage of the disci- 
pline provided by constant friendly or hostile intercourse with 
surrounding neighbours on equal terms. Looking fairly at the 
case, we must say that really great men are the exception, both 
in Europe and in America. And there is no more security 
in the one case than in the other that the greatest man who 
can be had shall be put at the head of affairs. In any coun- 
try it is hard to say how much credit is due to the form 
of government, how much to the personal character of 
rulers, how much to causes over which Kings, Parliaments, 
and Presidents have no control. But the American system 
has at least not been inconsistent with a high degree of 
peace, freedom, and prosperity. Most people indeed look 
only at the present moment, and think that whatever goes 
on before their own eyes must needs be greater, for good 
or for evil, than anything that ever happened before. Such 
people cry out at the present American war as something 
horrible beyond all comparison in past history. This feeling 
is generally mingled with unreasonable abuse of the form of 
government which is common to both the contending parties. 
The fact that so large a mass of mankind never before 
remained for so long a time in the enjoyment of so large a 
portion at once of peace * and of freedom, as the American 
people enjoyed in the interval between the War of Indepen- 

* Madison's war with England and the later Mexican war — neither of 
them struggles on any very great scale — are the only serious exceptions to 
seventy-eight years of peace. 


dence and the War of Secession, is altogether forgotten. No 
one will say that this great blessing has been the personal 
work of the successive Presidents. But at least neither their 
personal character, nor the system of government under 
which they were appointed, has proved any hindrance to 
national prosperity. Few nations, whether monarchies or 
republics, can say more of so long a succession of rulers. 

At the same time it is clear that the mode of presidential 
election which is now in use in the United States is essentially 
vicious. A system which was meant to be a check upon 
party spirit has become its most effectual instrument. It 
may be hoped that some means may be found for remedying 
this evil even in the American Union itself; at all events, 
the warning should not be lost on any future States which 
may adopt the Presidential system. For surely the Presiden- 
tial system, with all its faults, is far better, far more honest, 
far more stable, than those mockeries of ministerial or " re- 
sponsible " government which are to be seen in our still 
unemancipated colonies. Our peculiar system, complicated 
and conventional as it is, works well in England because it is 
the natural and gradual growth of the circumstances of 
England. It is a delicate and doubtful task to transfer it to 
other European kingdoms, but this has, in one or two cases, 
been successfully done. But in any European kingdom there 
is some groundwork to go upon. There are older titles, insti- 
tutions, traditions, which can be dexterously pressed into the 
service, and can be clothed with new objects and duties. But 
a conventional system of this kind is the very last thing which 
ought to be set up in a perfectly new commonwealth which 
supplies none of the elements which are needed for its success. 
We do not feel the unreal position of a constitutional King, 
because the unreality is at once veiled by the traditions of ages, 
and is fully counterbalanced by its incidental advantages. But 
the unreality, one might say the absurdity, of a Governor and 
a " responsible Ministry " in Australia or New Zealand stands 
out in all its nakedness. A President safe in power for four 
years or for one year would be an element of stability com- 


pared with the ephemeral ministers which supplant one 
another almost daily. Any new states which adopt the Pre- 
sidential system will have to consider two main points, the 
way of electing the President, and the question whether he 
should or should not be capable of immediate re-election. 
With regard to the election, the American system as now 
practised is one extreme, the old ducal elections at Venice 
were another. The strange mixture of chance and selection 
the repeated choosings and drawings, by which the electors of 
the Prince were finally appointed, have in our eyes somewhat 
of the ludicrous. No one probably would propose a system 
quite so complicated; still the Venetian mode of election 
must have shut out the main evils of the American mode. 
The electors, when at last appointed, may have chosen well 
or ill, honestly or corruptly, but they really did choose. 
Utterly unknown as it was beforehand who would finally 
have to elect, they at least could never have elected at the 
bidding of a party convention. If the choice were vested in 
the Legislature, or in some committee of it, or in some class 
of persons previously existing and not appointed for the 
special purpose of election, the election would doubtless 
still be a struggle between two political parties in the state ; 
indeed, within proper limits, it ought to be a struggle between 
political parties, wherever political parties exist. But, with 
such modes of election as have just been hinted at, the 
election of the national chief magistrate would not become a 
local struggle in every district, and it would run a much fairer 
chance of being a struggle between parties represented by 
the best men on each side. 

The other question, that of re-election, is, like most other 
political questions, a balance of evils. The chief reason for 
allowing re-election has been already stated; if it is for- 
bidden, it may easily happen that the country may be 
deprived of the services of its best statesman just when they 
are most wanted. In many of the ancient commonwealths 
re-election was forbidden; in Achaia the General could not 
serve for two successive years ; at Rome it was at no time 


lawful for the same man to be Consul for two years together, 
and at one time it was forbidden for a man who had once 
been Consul ever to be Consul again. But in those common- 
wealths there was a constant and not unreasonable dread lest 
a chief magistrate constantly re-elected should grow into a 
Tyrant. And, where magistrates are annual, to shut a man 
out for a single year is a different thing from shutting him 
out for four years or for six. And the extreme case, the law 
forbidding a Consul to be chosen again after any lapse of 
time, was found, as might have been looked for, to work 
badly, and it was therefore repealed. Even the law which 
forbade two successive consulships was dispensed with when 
Koine needed the arm of Caius Marius against the Teutonic 
invader.* In the democratic Cantons of Switzerland, the re- 
election of the Landammann has always been very common, 
both in past times and in our own day. Sometimes the office, 
though always filled by annual election, became almost 
hereditary in a single family. But in Switzerland there has 
never been the same fear of Tyrants which there was in 
Greece, and on the other hand it is hardly safe to argue 
from such very small communities as the democratic cantons 
to republics of the size of America or even of Achaia. If 
there are strong arguments for re-eligibility, there are strong 
arguments against it. And the controversy has somewhat 
shifted its ground since the days when re-eligibility was de- 
fended by Hamilton in the Federalist. Men then professed 
the old Greek fear, lest a President often re-elected should 
grow into a Tyrant. Experience has shown this fear to be 
quite groundless, and Jefferson, its chief mouthpiece, lived 
himself to disprove it in his own person. But other evils 
have arisen from the practice which Hamilton could hardly 
foresee. His whole argument presupposes the possibility of 
a wicked President, but it hardly presupposes the possibility 

* [I leave the epithet, as, literally and grammatically, it is not incorrect. 
But, when 1 wrote the sentence, I had hardly learned that the Ttutones 
whom Marius overcame were most likely not Teutonic in our sense, not 
Thiodisc or Dutch,"] 


of a weak President. In truth, the smaller man the Pre- 
sident is, the greater becomes the evil, not merely of his 
re-election, but of its re-eligibility. In all cases where re- 
election is possible, the magistrate in office is placed in the 
position of a candidate. He is tempted, especially as his 
term of office draws near to its end, to direct his administra- 
tion mainly with a view to secure popular favour. It is clear 
that, the smaller the man in office is, the greater will be the 
force of this temptation, and the smaller will be the means 
to which he will resort to secure his re-election. The real 
evil of re-eligibility did not come out in the days of those 
great Presidents who were actually re-elected, but in the 
days of those small Presidents who wished to be re-elected 
and were not. And now, for the first time since the days 
of Jackson, there appears a real chance of a presidential 
re-election. And why? Clearly because, however small 
Mr. Lincoln may seem in our eyes, he does not seem small 
in the eyes of a vast party of his countrymen. Probably no 
one puts him on a level with any of the Presidents down to 
Jackson ; but it is just because he is felt to be a man of a 
different mould from any of the Presidents since Jackson, 
that one of the great parties in the commonwealth is pre- 
pared to raise him a second time to the head of the state.* 

It is undoubtedly true that the possibility of re-election 
does lay a President under temptation to act in all things 
with a view to re-election ; that it degrades him, in short, from 
a ruler into a canvasser. With a weak or mediocre President 
these temptations are greatly increased. They are again so 
aggravated in America by the present mode of election that, 
while that mode of election prevails, we may safely say that 
the arguments against re-eligibility overbalance the argu- 
ments for it. Yet, after all, we may ask whether the evil, 
though undoubtedly far more glaring, is practically very 
much worse than much that we see at home. It is more 
glaring, because an English First Minister can never be driver* 

* So now — January, 1872 — there seems every chance of tin- re-election 
of General Grant, 


directly to canvass the whole country for votes to keep him in 
the place of First Minister. But he does the same thing 
indirectly. The Minister is tempted, no less than the Pre- 
sident, to act in the way by which he may catch most votes, 
whether that way be the best way or not. If he wishes to 
keep office, he must, just as much as the President who aims 
at re-election, keep both the House of Commons and the 
nation in good humour. The only difference is that our 
conventional constitution throws a decorous veil over much 
which in the American system stands out nakedly. The 
English Minister can often gain a point by dexterous dealing 
in Parliament about which an American President would 
have to make an open appeal to the multitude. The homage 
thus paid to virtue may or may not be a gain, but the inherent 
vice is the same in both cases. A President of the Con- 
federate States or a King of Sweden and Norway has in this 
case the advantage over either. The Confederate President 
is safe for six years, and cannot be re-elected ; the Scan- 
dinavian King is safe for life. Either of them can act far 
more freely according to his own notion of the public interest 
than is open either to a President of the United States or to 
an English Minister. Whether it is a gain to allow either 
King or President so wide a discretion is another matter. 
Here, as ever, we can only balance the advantages each way. 
So again, the indirect power of deposing the Ministry, which 
our conventional constitution vests in the House of Commons, 
leads the House to abdicate many of its functions in favour 
of the Ministry ; it makes the possible fate of a Ministry 
depend on the decision of questions which should be judged 
on their own merits ; it affords a constant temptation to 
members to vote this way or that, not because it is the best 
way, but because it will help to keep in or turn out such a 
Minister. The American system avoids all this, but it avoids 
it, to mention no other disadvantages, at the cost of too great 
an isolation of the executive and legislative branches from 
one another. And our system, though it tends to divert 
attention from real practical interests to the maintenance of 


this or that man in power, certainly does not thereby make 
party strife in England any more bitter or any less personal 
than party strife in America. 

"We have just compared the President with the constitu- 
tional King acting at his own discretion within the limits of 
the law and with the First Minister in constitutional monar- 
chies of another kind. It now only remains to contrast him 
with the other form of republican executive, the Executive 
Council, as seen both in the Swiss Confederation and in most 
of the several Cantons. The Swiss Federal Constitution has 
several points of likeness with that of America, and the 
constitution of the two Houses of the Federal Legislature is 
clearly borrowed from the American model.* But, in the 
nature of its Executive, the Swiss Confederation has utterlv 
departed from American precedent, and has produced some- 
thing at least as widely different from an American President 
as an American President differs from an European King. In 
Switzerland the executive power of the Confederation is 
vested in a Board or Council of seven, as the Bundesrath or 
Conseil Federal. This Council is elected by the two Houses 
of the Federal Assembly acting together. The Federal 
Assembly itself is choosen for three years, and, when it comes 
together, it chooses an Executive to last as long as itself. 
The President and Vice-President are chosen yearly by the 
Assembly from among the members of the Council, and 
neither of those offices can be held by the same man for two 
years together. The Council apportions the different depart- 
ments of state among its own members, but it is expressly 
declared that this is simply an arrangement of convenience, 
and that all decisions must issue from the Council as a body. 
The members of the Council have a right to speak and make 
proposals in either House of the Federal Legislature, but not 
to vote. 

The first thing that strikes one on considering this system 

* [I speak of the Federal Constitution as it was fixed in 1848. Important 
changes are now — December, 1871-January, 1872 — under discussion by 
the Federal Assembly.] 

2 D 


is that it at once hinders the commonwealth from making 
the most of a great man, and secures the commonwealth 
from being dragged through the dirt by a small man. The 
presidency of Washington and the presidency of Pierce are 
in Switzerland alike impossible. The state has no personal 
chief; the so-called President of the Confederation is only 
chairman of a board of seven. He cannot do a single act or 
make a single nomination by his own personal authority. It 
is clear that this hampering of individual action may be a 
great evil in the case of a man of genius checked by inferior 
colleagues ; but it may also be a great good in the case of a 
presumptuous or incompetent man rendered harmless by 
wiser colleagues. America, with her personal chief, runs a 
risk which Switzerland avoids. As in all cases of risk, the 
more adventurous state sometimes reaps for itself advantages, 
and sometimes brings on itself evils, from both of which its 
less daring fellow is equally cut off. It may be that each 
system better suits the position of the nation which has 
adopted it. The people of America, a young, vigorous, ex- 
panding people, with a whole continent lying open to them, 
naturally preferred the energetic lead of a personal head. 
They took their chance : a bad President could hardly do so 
much harm as a good President could do good. In Switzer- 
land, on the other hand, a good President could hardly do so 
much good as a bad President could do harm. Switzerland, 
though beyond all others a regenerate nation, was still an 
old nation ; she was a small state hemmed in by greater 
ones ; she lay between two of the greatest powers of Europe, 
two of the bitterest and most persevering enemies of right 
and freedom. Alike the cradle and the refuge of continental 
liberty, she needed above all things a system which should 
preserve everything and jeopard nothing. She seized on a 
rare and happy moment, when all the despots of Europe had 
enough to do at home, to reform her constitution without 
foreign intermeddling. And she formed a system which 
exactlv suits the position of a small, free, conservative pow.-v 
ready as ever t<> defend its own, but neither capable nor 


desirous of aggrandizement at the expense of others. In such 
a position as that of Switzerland, the first virtue in a govern- 
ment is a certain dignified discretion. The League has to 
hold its own, and sometimes to hold it with some difficulty. 
Anything like bravado and anything like servility would be 
alike out of place. An incompetent chief of the common- 
wealth might do irretrievable mischief, and a man of genius, 
unless genius were more than usually tempered by discretion, 
might do fully as much mischief as a fool or a traitor. It is 
then in a spirit of the truest wisdom that Switzerland declines 
to place herself at the mercy of any single chief. Where 
moderation and discretion are the virtues most to be prized, 
a well chosen Council is better to be trusted than any one 
man. The wisdom of the Swiss Constitution in this respect 
has been amply tested by experience. Among all the 
changes and complications of late years, no government in 
Europe has displayed a higher degree of practical wisdom 
than the Federal Council of Switzerland. In every question 
with foreign powers it has preserved that dignified modera- 
tion which best suits the position of the country. In do- 
mestic affairs, in the local disputes which still often distract 
the several Cantons, the action of the Federal power has been 
invariably such as to command the general respect of the 
nation. The last event in Swiss history, the late imhappy 
outrage at Geneva,* has been as honourable to the Federal 
Council as it has been discreditable to the authorities of the 
Canton. No despot could have acted with greater energy ; 
no Judge on the bench could have acted with greater im- 
partiality. We can hardly conceive that any single President 
or succession of Presidents could have guided the Confedera- 
tion with the like wisdom through all the difficulties of the 
last sixteen years. A weak President might have cringed 
ignobly before Prussia or Austria or France : a daring Pre- 
sident might have entangled the Confederation in enterprises 
beyond its strength. The tutelary wisdom of the Federal 
Council has steered equally clear of both tonus of error. 

* [18(54.] 


The sort of negative wisdom which the Swiss Government 
shows, and which is what the position of the country specially 
needs, is displayed both in the theory and the practice of the 
Swiss Federal system. The form of Executive which is 
chosen, and the relations between the executive and legisla- 
tive branches, avoid most of the positive evils which have been 
pointed out in other systems. The Council is elective ; but 
its election cannot be made the subject of strife throughout 
the whole land. There is no opportunity for caucuses and 
conventions where the election is made by the Legislature 
itself. No doubt the election of the Federal Councillors will 
always be a party business ; no doubt they will always repre- 
sent the party which has the majority in the Assembly ; but 
they are not themselves the direct creation of a personal 
struggle carried into every corner of the land. Elected by 
the Legislature, coming into office along with the Legisla- 
ture, there is every chance of their acting in harmony with it. 
Their power of taking a share in the debates of the Assembly 
at once enables the Assembly to be better informed on public 
affairs, and also takes away that blot on the American system 
by which a statesman who is appointed to any executive office 
is debarred, for the time at the least, from any parliamentary 
career. Irremoveable by the existing Assembly, with the 
question of their re-election dependent on an Assembly which 
is not yet in being, they have less need than either English 
or American statesmen to adapt their policy to meet any 
momentary cry. On the other hand, acting always as a 
board, the Swiss Federal Councillors have not the same oppor- 
tunities of making themselves known in the world which 
fall to the executive chiefs of other countries. No Swiss 
statesman enjoys an European reputation. The Ministers of 
other powers, even of other minor powers, are often well 
known. Every one just now is familiar with the names of 
certain statesmen, not only in Prussia and Austria, but in Den- 
mark and Saxony* But when the affairs of Neufcoatel, of 

* [The Saxon Btatesman of 1864 has since become famous on a wider 


Savoy, of the Valley of Dappes, drew the eyes of all Europe 
upon Switzerland, it was not this or that Swiss statesman 
who was heard of, but the Federal Council as a body. It 
is hardly needful to point out how exactly contrary this is to 
the state of things in America. No one in England ever 
doubts who is Prime Minister ; no one in the United States 
ever doubts who is President. But even in Switzerland itself 
very well informed men cannot always say off hand who is 
the Bundesprasident of the year. This is by no means neces- 
sarily a fault ; perhaps it is just the state of things which 
should be in a republic ; but it at least strikes any one who is 
familiar with the personal contests of England and America 
as a singular peculiarity. 

We have thus contrasted Presidential Government with 
Constitutional Monarchies on the one hand and with Execu- 
tive Councils on the other. Which system is the best of the 
three is a question which can admit of no general answer. 
The great lesson of political history is to learn that no kind 
of government worthy to be called government is universally 
good or bad in itself. All forms, Kings, Presidents, Councils, 
anything in short except mere tyranny and mere anarchy, 
may be the best, as they may be the worst, in some particular 
age or country. Of the three great systems which we have 
been considering, the English, the American, and the Swiss, 
we may be sure that each is, on the whole, the best suited 
to the country in which it is found. None of the three 
countries would gain by exchanging its own system for the 
system of either of the others. But this does not show that 
any one of the three may not profitably study the theory and 
practice of the other two, and find therein either warnings 
or examples for its own benefit. The Swiss system is, of all 
the three, the least open to positive objection ; but it does 
not therefore follow that it is better in itself than that of 
England or of America. Still its success within its own 
sphere cannot fail to point it out as something worthy of the 
attention and the admiration of both countries. The Ame- 
rican system, as we have seen, is open to objections of the 


gravest kind, yet there can be little doubt that it will bear 
transplanting better than either of the other two, and that 
it is better suited than either of the other two to the circum- 
stances of those new commonwealths which are rising in 
distant corners of the world. The attempt to transplant the 
traditional English system to lands where its historical and 
social groundwork does not exist has proved a lamentable 
failure. And for a yoimg, pushing commonwealth, with the 
world before it, the dash and enterprise of a well-chosen 
personal chief will probably be more valuable than the calm 
defensive wisdom of the Councillors of the Everlasting League. 
It is the American system, in its most essential features, 
which forms the natural object for the imitation of other com- 
munities of Englishmen beyond the seas. It is for them to 
seize on the leading principles of the immortal work of 
Washington and Hamilton, to alter such of its general pro- 
visions as experience has shown to be defective, to work in 
such changes in detail as may be needed by any particular 
commonwealth. The American Constitution, with its manifest 
defects, still remains one of the most abiding monuments of 
human wisdom, and it has received a tribute to its general 
excellence such as no other political system was ever honoured 
with. The States which have seceded from its government, 
the States which look with the bitterest hatred on its actual 
administrators, have re-enacted it for themselves in all its 
essential provisions. Nothing but the inveterate blindness 
of party-spirit can hinder this simple fact from at once 
stopping the mouths of cavillers. Sneers at republics, at 
democracies, at federal systems, are, wherever they are found, 
mere proofs of ignorance and shallowness ; but there are no 
mouths in which they are so utterly inconsistent, so utterly 
self-condemning, as in the mouths of champions of the 
Southern Confederation. 

THE i:ni>. 




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December, 1879. 


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V. Cox, M.A., New College, late Esquire Bedel and Coroner 
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Cunynghame (Sir A. T.) — MY COMMAND IN SOUTH 

AFRICA, 1874 — 78. Comprising Experiences of Travel in the 

Colonies of South Africa and the Independent States. By Sir 

Arthur Thurlow Cunynghame, G.C.B., then Lieutenant- 

. Governor and Commander of the Forces in South Africa. Third 

Edition. 8vo. \2.s. 6d. 
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ENCE of the War between Germany and France, 1870 — 1. Edited 
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PEACE. Cheaper Edition. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

Davidson. — the life of a Scottish probationer; 

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Deas. — THE RIVER CLYDE. An Historical Description of the 
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Drummond of Hawthornden : the story of his 

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Duff. — Works by M. E. Grant-Duff, M.P., late Under Secretary 
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Elliott.— LIFE OF HENRY VENN ELLIOTT, of Brighton. 
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Elze. — ESSAYS ON SHAKESPEARE. By Dr. Karl Elze. 
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English Men of Letters. Edited by John Morley. A 
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English Men of Letters. — continued. 

I. DR. JOHNSON. By Leslie Stephen. 

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IV. SHELLEY. By J. A. Symonds. 

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V. HUME. By Professor Huxley. 

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VI. GOLDSMITH. By William Black. 

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VIII. BURNS. By Principal Shairp, Professor of Poetry in the 
University of Oxford. 

" It is impossible to desire fairer criticism than Principal Shairp' s 
on Burns' s poetry .... None of the series has given a truer estimate 
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genius of Scotland 's greatest poet '." — Spectator. 

IX. SPENSER. By the Very Rev. the Dean of St. Paul's. 

' ' Dr. Church is master of his subject, and writes always with good 
taste." — Academy. 

X. THACKERAY. By Anthony Trollope. 

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the series in which it appears." — Athen.eum. 

XI. BURKE. By John Morley. 

" Perhaps the best criticism yet published on the life and character of 


English Men of Letters. — continued. 

Burke is contained in Mr. Morley's compendious biography. His style is 
vigorous and polished, and both his political and personal judgment, and 
his literary criticisms are just, generous, subtle, and in a high degree 
interesting." — Saturday Review. 

MILTON. By Mark Pattison. \Just ready.] 

HAWTHORNE. By Henry James. 
SOUTHEY. By Professor Dowden. 
CHAUCER. By Professor Ward. 
COWPER. By Goldwin Smith. [In preparation.] 

BUNYAN. By J. A. Froude. 
WORDSWORTH. By F. W. H. Myers. J 
Others in preparation. 

Eton College, History of. By H. C. Maxwell Lyte, 

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European History, Narrated in a Series of Historical 

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Faraday. — MICHAEL FARADAY. By J. H. Gladstone, 
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FORBES, F.R.S., late Principal of the United College in the 
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of the United College in the University of St. Andrews ; P. G. 
Tait, M.A., Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University 
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Freeman. — Works by Edward A. Freeman, D.C.L.,LL.D. :— 
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English History" II "The Continuity of English History ;'' III 

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Free man — continued. 

" St. Thomas of Canterbury and his Biographers ;" V. " The Reign oj 
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"The Southern Slaves." "Sicilian Cycles." "The JVormans at 
Palermo. " 

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chiefly Italian. With Illustrations by the Author. Crown Svo. 
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dation of the Achaian League to the Disruption of the United 
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neglected portion of English history." — Spectator. 


as illustrating the History of the Cathedral Churches of the Old 

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Freeman — continued. 
FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES. Crown 8vo. Jj. Third 
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Vol. I. of a Historical Course for Schools edited by E. A. 
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THE OTTOMAN POWER IN EUROPE : its Nature, its Growth, 
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principally from his Correspondence and that of his eldest 
daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, Nun in the Franciscan Convent of 
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By W. D. Geddes, LL.D., Professor of Greek in the University 
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his portmanteau to this booh." — Times. 

Gray. — CHINA. A History of the Laws, Manners, and Customs 
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' ' Mr. Green has done a work which probably no one but himself could 

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students during the last half century in the field op English history, and 

has given them a fresh meaning by his own independent study. He has 

fused together by the force of sympathetic imagination all that he has so 


Green . — continued. 

collected, and has $iven us a vivid and forcible sketch of the march of 
English hist ot y. His book, both in its aims and its accomplishments, 
rises far beyond any of a similar kind, and it will give the colouring to the 
popular view to English history for some time to come." — Examiner. 

Coloured Maps, Genealogical Tables, and Chronological Annals. 
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8vo. 8s. 6d. Containing : Lambeth and the Archbishops — The 
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THE INTELLECTUAL LIFE. With a Portrait of Leonardo da 
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THOUGHTS ABOUT ART. New Edition, revised, with an 

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Hill. — WHAT WE SAW IN AUSTRALIA. By Rosamond 
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OF ENGLAND AND FRANCE. By the Rev. C. Hole, 
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' ' // is long since any more interesting book of travels has issued from 

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Hozier (H. M.) — Works by Captain Henry M. Hozier, 
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THE SEVEN WEEKS' WAR ; Its Antecedents and Incidents. 
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Hiibner. — A RAMBLE ROUND THE WORLD IN 1871. By 

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THE ROMAN AND THE TEUTON. A Series of Lectures 
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PLAYS AND PURITANS, and other Historical Essays. With 
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Lang. — CYPRUS: Its History, its Present Resources and Future 

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1S79 ; with Notes on the Present State and Ancient History of the 
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James Macdonell. Edited with Preface by his Wife. Crown 
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Macarthur.— HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, By Margaret 
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Macmillan (Rev. Hugh).— For other Works by same Author, 
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HOLIDAYS ON HIGH LANDS ; or, Rambles and Incidents in 
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b 2 


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