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called into play until the old canons were neglected, which excluded the dregs of society from the service of the altar. Meanwhile it materially strengthened the authority of the Church by surrounding it with devoted adherents, easily to be distinguished from the long-haired barbarians, and forming, as it were, a middle order between the sanctity of the ordained priesthood and the main body of the faithful. The ties which bound together the Roman and Germanic peoples were thus more than ever strengthened, since a large increase was effected in the numbers of that sacerdotal order which was most interested in the consolidation of society. Before we turn to consider another mode of clerical influence, we must answer one objection which might very speciously be urged against the correctness of the preceding conclusions. It might be argued that the natural and inseparable union of the priesthood with the old population was in so marked a manner the principal feature in their organization, and so much more cogent than the somewhat feeble bond which attached them to the barbarians, that it may more reasonably be supposed to have tended rather towards alienating the minds of the conquerors, and that we must consider the social amalgamation to have proceeded rather in spite of than in consequence of clerical interference.
Now, as if for the express purpose of convincing us how completely and how willingly the clergy bound themselves occasionally by a community of interests with the conquerors, we possess records* which prove that it was by no means uncommon for dignitaries of the Church voluntarily to surrender the privileges of the Roman Law, and submit themselves to the barbarian codes.
Such, then, was the great moral and social work of the Christian ministers during the gradual settlement of the European nations, but it was by no means their only one. Well worthy of remark in a less degree was their influence as the disseminators of the old Roman traditions and legislation among the new possessors of the soil, and in cherishing a spirit which manifested itself in the zeal for the restoration of almost forgotten offices and insignia, as when Theodoric attempted to restore among the Ostrogoths the fallen dignity of the Empire, and the Frank conqueror of Gaul assumed to himself the titles of Patrician and Augustust: but a fuller investigation of these topics will fall more appropriately under a future division of our subject.
Thus far we have limited our view more especially to the period of national migration and final settlement, which was the forerunner of the mediæval system. If we
* See the passages quoted by Savigny, Gesch. d. Röm. Rechts. vol. i. p. 117, note 66. [“Fumagalli, Cod. dipl. Ambros. Num. 124. p. 502. a. 885.' 'Ego Leotpertus archipresbiter ecclesie S. Juliani qui professo sum legem vivere langubardorum.' Eben so der Bischoff Atto von Bergamo im J. 1072. Ughelli, [Italia Sacra.] t. iv. col. 447 (ed. 1719]. In Bergamo war es im zehnten und elften Jahrhundert so haüfig, dass man diese Ausnahme fast als Regel ansehen konnte. 'Lupi. p. 225.'”]
+ Sismondi, Hist. des Français, t. 1. p. 227.
now direct our attention to the moral condition of the European world during the age of comparative repose intervening between the re-establishment of more enduring governments and the accession of Charlemagne, we shall find satisfactory traces of the progressive operation of clerical authority; and our inquiries are materially facilitated by the circumstance that although the conditions of the different parts of Europe before the rise of the Carlovingian Empire varied widely, yet we may safely compare their relative progress by assuming them all to have diverged from one common center, to be found in those customs and modes of thought peculiar to all the Teutonic tribes. Let us take what is perhaps the most obvious and most frequently cited of all these barbarian characteristics. Nothing can be more completely indicative of an utterly uncultivated state than the penal code of the German nations; indeed we can scarcely term it a penal code, for in the ages of those primitive legislators crime, in the sense we attach to the word, had no existence. Every violation of what we denominate public justice was to them a mere civil offence; for national authority was never exerted in the punishment of guilt, and retribution depended solely on the power or inclinations of the injured party. This system of “weregilt" or penal composition was originally so inherent in all the barbarian tribes that we may assume their greater or less deviation from the ancient laws in this particular as a not inaccurate test of their progress in the humanizing arts. Now the Visigothic kingdom, as we have already seen, was the first to exhibit any approach towards a more correct penal legislation. In it first was the “weregilt” in any measure abolished, and truer ideas on the subject of crime inculcated on the people*. Their civil code, too, indicates a state of society far superior to that of the Burgundians or less polished Franks, and it contains, prefixed to its leading enactments, such general remarks on the principles of jurisprudence and the respective duties of a legislator and his subjects, as prove it to have been compiled by men of thought and philosophy. If we seek for the cause of so manifest a superiority, we shall find it in that extraordinary legislative and political authority of the clergy, which imparted to the great national councils of Toledo the mingled characters of Parliament and Convocationt, and which we shall more thoroughly examine when we have come to consider the political influence of the priesthood. And lest it should be imagined that the superiority of Visigothic jurisprudence was the consequence rather of a long course of unbroken tranquillity than of the maxims of Roman law transmitted through the clergy, we may enunciate this general proposition which appears to be supported by a comparison of the various European nations during the 6th and 7th centuries :--That, in proportion as each Germanic tribe, on establishing itself in its new dominions, found itself in contact with a more or less organized clergy and submitted with greater or less willingness to the exhortations of its spiritual advisers, so was the rapidity of its subsequent progress from the rude enactments of former days to the scrupulous justice of Rome. In illustration of this, we find that the Burgundians, who of all the invading hordes, if we except the Visigoths, occupied a land most thickly teeming with Roman cities and rejoicing in the most numerous and thoroughly organized priesthood, possessed a code far surpassing in completeness and impartiality the rude statutes of their Frank neighbours. While in our own island, where, as we have already noticed, the whole fabric of Roman hierarchy had been most utterly demolished by the savage idolatry of the Saxon conquerors, and where the scanty privileges of the clergy placed them in a less dominant position than was enjoyed by their brethren either in France or Spain, the ancient ignorance and barbarism on the subject of penal ordinances held sway long after it had vanished from the continent of Europe?. From such an induction as this we seem to be fully justified in asserting, that to the clergy principally does Europe owe the disappearance of that pernicious notion which taught man to look upon himself as answerable to his injured
* See, e. g. lib. vi. tit. 5 Cap. Cancian. Leg. Barb. t. iv. pp. 137– 142], where unintentional homicide is made expiable by a composition, but murder by capital punishment alone.
+ See Gibbon, c. 38.
Thus the early part of Alfred's Laws, which consists of little more than adaptations of the Mosaic law, repeatedly ordains capital punishment (see in particular § 15. ap. Thorpe, Anc. Laws, p. 21); whereas in the later part (see $ 9. Thorpe, pp. 30, 31, and $927—31, pp. 35, 36) a pecuniary compensation is appointed for the same offences.