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they returned penniless to mortgaged estates.

It rapidly

hastened the movement, begun by other influences, to reduce the number of feudal proprietors, and render government more vigorous over increasingly large territories.



1. Between 1000 and 1200 the independent and enterprising spirit — the individualism - that we have seen at the base of European character, and which first produced the Feudal System, began to move among the masses in various ways and laid the foundation for that influence of the People that was afterward to become the most powerful element in political life.

It first presented itself in the development of industrial arts and commerce in cities which obtained, as corporations, the rights, or a part of the rights, of the feudal proprietor, which they proceeded to exercise under the form of Free Cities in Germany, privileged Communes in France and commercial Republics in Italy.

2. A second development, highly favorable some centuries later to the reaction of popular freedom against centralizing despotism in the government, was the religious protest against the claims of the church over freedom of thought. This spirit grew up in Germany, and its first remote beginnings are to be found in the imperial title conferred by the pope on Charlemagne. In the course of time (A. D. 963) that title was inherited by the German rulers who, for a long time, struggled for the control of Italy and a feudal superiority over the popes. This was carried on for two centuries with much acrimony, in which the terms Guelph, the general name of those who supported the side of the popes, and Ghibellines, of those who rallied to the emperor, came to be the watchwords of Germany and Italy. The popes triumphed in this contest, which prevented the establishment of a vast and powerful political des

potism, and gave the church a temporal kingdom in a part of Italy, with an immense spiritual empire highly embarrassing to free mental growth. The reaction against this spiritual control produced the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, in which was wrapped up the germ of mod ern Republicanism.

3. The Crusades loosened the bonds of Feudalism, taught nations and rulers to act together to gain a common object, enlarged the experiences of men immensely, and cultivated and organized the spirit of personal adventure which afterwards expended itself on commerce.

It was at about the crisis of this period (1215, a. D.) that the Magna Charta - the foundation of English constitutional liberty was produced; that the Hanseatic League and Free Cities began to flourish in Germany; the commercial republics of Venice, Genoa and Florence rose in Italy; and the communal corporations in France sprang up. They were all more or less stimulated by influences growing out of the Crusades, and brought forward the people and their distinct and separate interests and activities into political importance. This was the beginning of an entirely new order of things, which required a new continent for its full development.

4. A first circumstance, above all favorable to the libertie of the people, was the Invention of Printing, producing rapid diffusion of information, the coincident revival of learning and the foundation of modern science. All these, working together with various other agencies, gradually swept away feudalism, checked the towering spiritual tyranny of the churc and corrected a crowd of minor evils that embarrassed society, enterprise, and progress in the science of government.

The intermediate stage in this progress appeared like a return to old principles. The dissolution of feudalism left the governments of Europe centralized. The lords inheriting feudal rights had become intolerable despots. For a certain period the authority of the king was the bulwark behind which the people sheltered themselves from the oppressions of their

feudal superiors, and they united with him to reduce the feudal nobility to the comparatively harmless condition of the modern aristocracy, whose greatest distinction is social pre-eminence. It left them, indeed, a high, but not overwhelming, position in the body politic, which the growing education and wealth of the middle and lower classes constantly tended to reduce. This change was commencing when America was discovered. The feudal chiefs labored to extend and strengthen their power at the expense of each other, of the king and the people. The increasing activity and importance of commerce, trade and industry required the support of a broad legislation that could not be obtained while nations were broken up into petty lordships, principalities and kingdoms almost independent of each other, and whose rulers were often hostile to or at war with each other; while the support of so many rulers became a heavy burden on the resources of the people. The king represented the nation and was the rallying point of reform. To strengthen him was to promote the larger interests of the country.

5. For these reasons, and from the resistance offered by the feudal institutions, which had existed a thousand years, authority became centralized in the monarch to an extravagant degree, and this at a time when freer institutions were most required by the larger and wiser views of the people. The great usefulness of the Roman Catholic Church in civilizing and educating the modern nations and founding a center or common bond between them, which produced a degree of unity in their progress, had continually added to her power, while the disposition to free thought was ever becoming more pronounced. Thus two despotic forces, each claiming absolute obedience in their respective spheres, were rising in strength to a degree extremely embarrassing to the growing intelligence and increased activities of the commonalty. The traditional authority of the church and the king came, in the course of a hundred years after the discovery of America, to

directly oppose the most important interests and instinots of



6. The progress of the people, as distinct from that of their governments, may then be described as starting in the last great service done for Europe by the church-the organization of the Crusades. The feudal system separated men too much for healthy progress, and this singular display of religious zeal united the various nationalities in a common effort, and stirred up powers that had long slumbered. was in this period that the adventurous and comprehensive activities of modern life commenced. Wealth had been largely confined to the feudal nobility. It now began to flow out through the general community. The nobles expended vast sums in fitting out princely retinues to lead to the Holy Land, for which their estates were security. They died, or returned penniless, and their lands passed into the hands of the commercial classes, whose successful diligence had made them wealthy. It was the first heavy blow to feudal institutions, and laid the foundation of the power of the people.

Corporations and cities which had obtained the rights of feudal proprietors, employed them for the purposes of selfgovernment, and so used an instrument of despotism to shield and sustain a virtual democracy. With this freedom of action, popular liberty, controlled in a general way by feudal obligations to the prince, king, or emperor, grew fast and strong protected by the growing despotisms of the church and the state. The Hanseatic League, in the north of Germany, was, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, perhaps as wealthy and powerful as any king or emperor in Christendom; and in the sixteenth, the small commercial province of the Netherlands could defy the whole power of Spain, with the wealth of the Indies at her back.

7. The revival of learning, and the invention of the art of printing, gave an immense impulse to this uprising of the people, commenced near three hundred years before; about the same time the Portuguese discovered the way to India by

the Cape of Good Hope, Columbus threw open the "Gates of the West," and the wealth of both Indies flowed in a full stream through the channels of commerce and trade; that is to say, into the hands of the busy and industrious people. All events seemed to conspire to build up a base for the power and development of the commonalty.

This growing intelligence and strength among the masses, with the habit of ruling themselves under feudal forms, made a conflict with the two arrogant despotisms inevitable in the near future. Feudal institutions were still a serious and vexatious embarrassment to freedom of movement, and a very heavy tax on industry, and the only legal way to remove it • was by strengthening the central or kingly power, which continued to increase for more than a hundred years; but the conflict with priestly despotism was entered on at once. A vast rebellion against the church commenced, called "The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century," which embraced nearly all the most enterprising and commercial nations.



We have said that great men were a kind of summary of the tendencies of their period; an expression of a widespread thought or state of mind, which their fortunate combination of faculties and more favorable circumstances enabled them first to state, or embody, with distinctness; that the great following they obtained, and the extensive influence which enabled them to make great changes, were due to a coincident development in their generation of the same thoughts and tendencies. This explains the existence of eras in all departments of life. Men grow, or progress, silently, from one to the other; when the general progress has reached the suitable point it breaks out in a leader more bold and positive than the rest.

The discovery of America was such an era; and the sudden

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