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But in order to examine to the greatest advantage the complicated workings of the clerical body on the Teutonic states as they increased in civilization and became associated with the remnants of Roman dominion, we may investigate somewhat more minutely the process as exemplified in one nation, and that the most politically enlightened of the barbarian tribes, the Visigoths. The “ Forum Judicum,” (subsequently known as the Breviarium Alaricianum), or collection of the statutes published by the Spanish monarchs till the Saracen conquest, presents to us a far more lively view of the amalgamation of Roman and Germanic polity, than we can obtain from any other quarter; clerical influence accordingly is throughout more prominently displayed than in any other legal compilation of the period. And, from the peculiar
division of the kingdom was adjusted “electis ab his duobus regibus duodecim Francorum proceribus, ut eorum disceptatione hæc finiretur intentio; inter quos et domnus Arnulfus pontifex Mettensis cum reliquis episcopis eligitur, qui benignissime, ut sua erat sanctitas, inter patrem et filium pro pacis loquebatur concordia” (Fredegarii Chronicon, c.53). "Cum pontifices et universi proceres regni sui * * pro utilitate regia et salute patriæ conjunxissent,” &c. (c. 55). Similar instances of bishops acting habitually as the king's counsellors, and co-operating with the “proceres” and “cæteri leudes” in important state affairs, especially in reference to the succession, occur repeatedly in the same chronicle (cc. 41, 44, 56, 58, 75, 76, 89). So Pepin of Landen, mayor of the palace, took as his habitual adviser Arnulf bishop of Metz (who before becoming bishop had been himself mayor of the palace), and after his death Chunibert bishop of Cologne (Vitu Pipini Ducis, ap. Guizot, Coll. des Mém. iii. 380, 381 ; Du Chesne, Hist. Fr. Scr. i. 594 B, c.).
circumstances of the Spanish Church and monarchy, we may justly consider that we have in it such a picture of clerical intervention in the affairs of Government as we could find in no other contemporary nation.
Spain, under the later Roman Emperors, had enjoyed a degree of prosperity surpassing that of any other province. Her rich municipalities gloried in the political and literary distinctions of her sons, for there were few European lands which could boast such names as Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius; and we may be assured that on the dislocation of the Empire the towns of Iberia and Bætica did not sink to the degraded level of the other divisions of the civilized world. Hence it naturally followed that, when the Visigothic chiefs established their sway, they found themselves in contact with numerous Roman citizens, headed and guided by a powerful body of clergy.
Sidonius Apollinaris has drawn the following picture, couched in language which in its day must have passed for epigrammatic elegance, of King Euric, the founder of the Visigothic constitution, which does not lead us to conclude that the priesthood found much favor with that rough and energetic sovereign* :-“ In concilio jubet; in consilio tacet; in ecclesia jocatur; in convivio prædicat; in cubiculo damnat; in quæstione dormitat. Implet quotidie altaria reis, carceres clericis; exultans Gothis, insultansque Romanis, illudensque præfectis, colludensque numerariis ; leges Theodosianas calcans, Theodorici
* Ep. ii. 1.
anasque proponens.” However, if the Teutonic princes of Spain set themselves in array against the clergy, they must soon have found themselves overmatched, for in the seventh century they scantily shared with the Church that supreme power which they had been unable to wrest from it. And the contrast between the military and political weakness of Spain and its eminence among the other Germanic nations in every branch of civilization is a sufficient token of the decay into which the Goths had fallen, and of the simultaneous activity of the intellectual principle as represented by the clergy. Indeed, throughout, the Visigothic constitution was a strange medley of the autocratic and the so-called theocratic elements. The great national councils which assembled at Toledo applied themselves, as soon as they had been inaugurated with all the pomp of a religious ceremony, to the ecclesiastical affairs of the realm, and seemed to look upon the civil legislation as merely a secondary share of the great religious work committed to their hands. The predominance of the ecclesiastical element, as well as the changeless stability of the national character, is attested by the stringency of the statutes against Jews and Heretics, foreshadowing the horrors of the Inquisition. But our opinion concerning the fruit borne by clerical power must be formed not so much from such edicts as these as from the accidental allusions occurring throughout the code: in which we may clearly discern the moral integrity and elevation which we have already traced, as diffused by the action of the clergy throughout the asperities of Roman legislation.
We took notice, in the preceding section, of the gradual sway acquired by the priestly authorities over the Roman officers, and of the check thus exercised on magisterial corruption or irregularity. What during the Roman age had been a tacit exercise of salutary authority, became now a recognized portion of the state government. If, for example*, on a pauper appearing before a civil tribunal, the magistrate neglected his suit, or wilfully perverted justice, the Bishop of the diocese was empowered to supersede him for the time, and, in case the Count of the district refused to carry into execution the episcopal decision, he was liable to be mulcted in a specified sum. And, in generalt, the magistrate who despised the just counsels of the bishop and his assessors was liable to be deposed through the influence of the latter from the exercise of his functions for the time being. These enactments, which at first sight may appear to confer an exorbitant power on the prelates, will be placed in a truer light, if we interpret them into means of securing the equal rights of the Roman population, and of protecting the ancient inhabitants, by the intervention of their kindred churchmen, from the injustice of their Gothic conquerors. Such a province, we may rest assured, fell to the lot of the bishops in every continental country to a greater or less degree, and one of their most beneficial modes of action was that by which they afforded security against barbarian violence to the privileges of the municipalities. But we obtain yet further proof of the judicial authority which superior legal knowledge and acuteness bestowed on the Spanish bishops, in a statute associating them with the “judices” in ascertaining the fidelity of slaves, witnesses of a will*.
* Leg. Visig. lib. 11. t. i. c. 29. Cap. Cancian. Leg. Barb. t. iv. pp. 73, 74.]
† Ibid. t. i. c. 30 [ibid. p. 74].
It appears, then, that not only have we considerable evidence to show that the Visigothic code was in great measure compiled by clerical jurists, but that we may believe the aid of Christian prelates to have been frequently invoked in order to secure against barbaric turbulence the equitable administration of the laws they had framed.
In Spain, as throughout Europe in general, the clerical and monarchical powers seemed to depend in their relations to each other upon the administrative talents or incapacity of the sovereign ; and the excessive despotic sway exercised by the active and unscrupulous among the Visigothic kings gives us to know how more than elsewhere necessary for the well-being of the nation was the imposing bulwark which the Church presented to the autocratic tendencies of the Court.
The methods of beneficial clerical action which have fallen under our notice in Spain might for the most part,
* Ibid. t. v. c. 13 [ibid. p. 85].