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age; and the magic of a name, not without influence in this day, was all-powerful in that. No very considerable event afterwards occurred to mark the declining years of Charlemagne. He died in 814, at Aix-la-Chapelle, and was buried in the famous Munster or cathedral which he had founded.
Charlemagne was a man of extraordinary mind and pow ers. To the characteristics of a hero and a conqueror, he united those of a monarch and legislator. In an age when the monastic virtues had superseded all others, he alone made those of the statesman temper them; and though so devoid of early education as to be unable to write, he supplied the defect by stu<iy throughout the whole course of his busy reign, and became a judge and a patron of letters at a time when the taste seemed utterly extinct save in him. Three hundred years were yet to elapse ere chivalry was to flourish, and yet Charlemagne anticipated its spirit; and the romancers of after-time had recourse to him and to his paladins, as the fittest models of knightly conduct and chivalrous valor.
The descendants of Charlemagne shall here be treated with as little notice as those of Clovis. Both degenerated, and were trampled under foot by the aristocracy. But the changes which the nation underwent during the reign of the Carlovingians are far better known, and far more important. There is this peculiar character in their history; that personages q.nd incidents, with one exception,—that of Rollo and the cession of Normandy,—are utterly unattractive, whilst the silent progress of society offers a. picture full of interest. We can afford to take but a cursory glance at the latter.
There is no political truth more fully known and admitted, than that slaves and freemen cannot continue long to form together the laboring class of the community. Universally, in a generation or two, the freemen disappear; the slaves alone remain upon the soil. Such was the case under the successors of Clovis. The conquests of Charlemagne spread a new race of freemen over the face of Gaul: under his successors they gradually disappeared. Compelled to join the army at their own expense, unprotected from violence, as laves were, by a powerful master, and disdaining those agricultural occupations practised by bondsmen, the freeman soon abandoned his little property, or saw it wrested from him by force. Most generally he perished, or perhaps was sold to pay off the weight of fines which his poverty forced him to incur.
Of the class of freemen the armies of Charlemagne were composed. There remained still sufficient to carry on the civil wars betwixt his grandchildren: between them the battle of Fontenoy was fought in 841, in which forty thousand men 850. SUCCESSORS OF CHARLEMAGNE. 21
are said to have perished; and all the historians of the time agree that the whole force of France perished with them. Henceforward the Normans and Saracens met nowhere with resistance, and the entire kingdom was exposed defenceless to pillage, How was this] The surviving population, excepting the class of prelates and nobles, were serfs and villains, and consequently forbidden and unused to bear arms. The state was without a defender,—the melancholy and inevitable consequence of slavery.
The lesser aristocracy also had greatly decayed. The equal division of property amongst brethren proved nearly as destructive to the noble as to the monarch. In the middle of the ninth century, the church stood alone unimpaired, and seemed at once to be possessed of all property as of all power. The kings, however, inherited the right, tenaciously held and exercised by Charlemagne, of appointing the superior governors, or dukes and counts of provinces. In the reigns of his weak successors, and principally in that of Charles the Bald, his grandson, the sovereign, in order to gain the support of the leading nobles against his competitors, found it necessary to abandon to them their commands, with hereditary rights thereto. Here the system of Charlemagne, and of the old and oriental monarchies, was departed from, and an hereditary aristocracy formed, possessed, each in his county, of all the attributes of sovereignty, and wanting nothing but the name.
Previously to this, the proprietors of the provinces, held their lands of the monarch, and professed allegiance exclusively to him; but now, the dukes and counts came to stand in the royal place. Finding* a great portion of the lands destitute of cultivators, owing to the devastations of the Normans, they distributed them to their followers, demanding in return personal allegiance to themselves rather than to the common sovereign. Thus were formed the sub-infeodations, the essential principle of the new political state,—the fibre, as we may say, which soon grew forth into the vast body of the feudal system.
The feeble characters of the Carlovingian monarchs, together with those frequent partitions and exchanges of territory amongst them, which prevented any power from being consolidated in their hands, or any feeling of loyalty from taking root in the bosoms of the people, was the chief cause of their fall, and of the weakness which abandoned their rights to the possessors of the great fiefs. The frequent invasions of the Normans contributed powerfully, however, towards the same effect.
Almost from the reign of the An ton in es to that o^ Charle
magne, the current of barbaric conquest had continued to overflow the Danube and the Rhine. The great effort of this hero's life was to check its torrent; and he succeeded. For the first time the northern nations became inspired with a dread of the south, and despaired to force their way, by land at least, into the fertile regions where their ancestors had emigrated. The tide, excluded from its ancient channels, opened new outlets for itself. Denmark and Scandinavia had been long accustomed to rear a surplus population, and to eject it upon foreign climes. The way by land was now closed; the more perilous path of the sea lay open, and the barbarians took to it in their rude galleys,—every reader of English history knows with what success. Even Charlemagne had the mortification, towards the close of his reign, to hear that two hundred of their vessels had landed their crews on the coast of Friesland, that the province had been ravaged, and the marauders re-embarked ere an army could be mustered to repel or revenge the insult. Under his successors, the Danes or Normans met of course with more success and more impunity. They sailed up the mouths of all the navigable rivers, the Rhine, the Seine, the Loire, burning and pillaging all the great towns, laying waste the provinces, and dragging the population along with them. They met with no resistance. The reason has been previously stated. The inhabitants of the country, almost all reduced to the servile state, were denied, and ignorant of, the use of arms.
The absolute necessity of resisting these invaders, which the monarch was never equal to, excited at length the efforts and talents of the nobles. They exercised themselves to arms, fortified their dwellings, and made strong-holds of them. They converted their serfs into soldiers; gave them land with-a partial property or durable tenure of it, that they migh be more attached to their chiefs, and more interested to de fend them. Feudality, in fine, arose; and, it is to be re marked, principally in the exposed and invaded provinces. All these foundations of it were laid before the conclusion of the ninth century. In the tenth they became consolidated.
In the year 911, when Charles the Simple, whose name bespeaks his character, reigned in France, the celebrated Rol£ or Rollo, sailed up the Seine with a numerous navy of Danes or Normans, with the usual purpose of pillaging and levying contributions. He besieged Paris and Chartres: the word marks the progress that fortifications, and, what is more important, the defence of them, had made; for formerly the Danes penetrated into every town without resistance. He ravaged even the distant province of Burgundy. Whilst king Charles the Simple sent an archbishop to offer Rollo an 911. ROLLO. 23
entire province of his dominions as the price of peace, Robert, Count of Paris, the ancestor of Hugh Capet and of the present dynasty of France, assembled an army, and attacked the Norman near Chartres. If Rollo gained the victory, it was dearly purchased; and the circumstance rendered him more inclined to accept the offer of Charles the Simple. He was to possess Normandy as its hereditary duke, swearing allegiance to Charles, and suffering himself to be baptized, with his whole army. After three months' negotiation, Charles and Rollo met upon the banks of the river Epte, the boundary of the future duchy, and the treaty was concluded; the French monarch at the same time giving his daughter Gisele in marriage to the Norman duke. The ceremony of swearing allegiance was found to be the only difficulty, Rollo declaring that he would never bow the knee to mortal. One of his followers was ordered, by way of compromise, to perform the humiliating act. The surly Norman obeyed reluctantly; and in the act of raising the monarch's foot to his mouth, lifted it so rudely and so high as to upset the new liege .lord of his master. The Normans on the occasion could not refrain from loud laughter. The French dissembled, passed over the insult, and the treaty was not interrupted.
Rollo divided the lands of Normandy amongst his principal followers, and demanded of them an oath of service and allegiance similar to that which Charles had sought of him. These again imitated their chief with respect to their inferiors. Duke Rollo had for advisers the French bishops, whom he had established in his dominions; and they instructed him in all the laws and habits then prevalent in France, which they were naturally anxious that he should adopt, in preference to the rude and pagan manners of his native land. In the formation of a new state of society, as in that of a new city, order and system could more easily be introduced and observed; and the people, who last received the principles of feudality, first brought them to that regularity and perfection, unknown as yet, and afterwards imitated, throughout the rest of France. Thus, as the ravages of the Danish marauders aided most materially in laying the foundations of the feudal system, so their final settlement served to com pkte and crown the edifice.
From The Accession Of Hugh Capet To That Of Saint Louis, 987—1226.
The reign of Charlemagne resembles the course of a meteor, which sheds a brilliant light around the heavens for a space, but leaves the darkness still more dreary as it disappears. Despite the place and rank which it assumes, it is a stranger to the great system athwart which lies its track, and whose progress it may be said more to disturb than to promote. Soon after the death of Charlemagne, his large empire fell asunder by its own weight. The mutual antipathies of different and neighboring races seconded the rivalry of the Carlovingian princes. The great division was into the German and the French: the first knit together by their old Teutonic tongue; the latter nurtured in the mixed language of a race descended from Gaul, Roman, and Barbarian blended. The Meuse, the Saone, and the Rhone, formed the line of demarcation betwixt them. The elder branch of Charlemagne's descendants chose the country east of this, and brought to it the title of Emperor, with all the vague prerogatives attached to the name. The Carlovingians lost the throne of Germany, even ere they were driven from that of France. The Germanic habit of holding diets and national assemblies was preserved to the east of the Rhine, whilst it fell into disuse in the west. And there, in consequence, the aristocracy acquired a more united and organized system of superiority, and succeeded not only in rendering their own rights hereditary, but also in making the monarchy elective. A duke of Franconia, a duke ©f Saxony, were raised successively to the imperial throne; and their example emboldened the family of Hugh Capet to usurp the place of the dwindled Carlovingians of France.
In the reign of Charles the Bald a kind of union was effected, under his sway, of all the countries west of the Meuse and the Rhone. They composed a heterogeneous mass. The link of even a common name applied to the land was wanting. Not only the Carlovingian monarchs, but the Capetians themselves, were long styled kings, not of France, but of the Franks. This circumscribed and ill-united realm it was beyond their power to keep together in obedience to them. A territorial aristocracy had everywhere arisen, by their very nature independent. Of the great connecting principle of society, neither commerce nor letters, nor arms,