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only were institutions from the banks of the Seine transported to those of the Elbe and the Tiber, but the extreme distance from the wealthiest provinces of the Empire to the seat of administration weakened the Imperial authority in those very districts which were most able and willing for the approaching duties of selfgovernment.
The other peculiarity of the period, the gradual recovery of power by the Roman element throughout the continent, will be presented to us with greater clearness when we come to view the political influence of the clergy.
It appears then, on the whole, that, though we have adopted as our chronological limit the accession of Charlemagne to the throne of Clovis, we have so done more from regard to the strongly marked character of his administration, as laying before us in a striking light the peculiarities of the age, than because we considered his reign as the real commencement of a new era in European society. Another and more powerful reason is to be found in the circumstance that under his sway first? were the principles of incipient feudalism in France disseminated through other lands; and from the close of the eighth to that of the tenth century, the general organization of the various Christian communities on the continent may be so far considered identical, as that
Yet Pepin, after quelling a revolt of Theodebald, son of Godfrey duke of Suevia, returns “revocato sibi ejusdem loci ducatu" (3rd cont. of Fredegarii Chron. c. 113).
we may suppose them to possess the same leading characteristics.
But to return to our more immediate subject. The accession of Charlemagne found the priesthood in possession of an increased and rapidly increasing moral power over the people, consequent on a reform within the Church itself. The impulse from without, by which such a change was effected, has already been exemplified by the Capitularies of Vermeric: and the very large proportion of the contemporary enactments devoted to the enforcement of the Canon Law testifies to its previous neglect. Regarding the succeeding century, we can desire no more secure or complete source of information than the very miscellaneous collection of state papers known as Baluze's edition of the Capitularies of the French Kings. Although the ecclesiastical form imparted to the legislative body of the Franks under Pepin was very far from being continued after the Champ de Mars once again became what it had anciently been, the mustering ground of the national army, and though even under the unwarlike sceptre of Louis le Debonnaire the people never submitted to be represented, though they might allow themselves to be ruled, by the clergy, yet, as we glance over the statutes bearing the names of Charlemagne and his successor, the number of them devoted to the enunciation and enforcement of the Canon Law strikes us as a very remarkable peculiarity of the period. M. Guizot has presented to his readers* an elaborate * Guizot, Civilisation en France, leç. 21. t. ii. (pp. 324–338.]
table of the Capitularies of Charlemagne and his successors, from which it appears that those which he classes under the three heads of moral, religious, and canonical edicts, all of which we may suppose to have been drawn up under the immediate eye of the clerical advisers of the emperor, comprise, during the reign of Charlemagne, considerably more than a third part of the general legislation ; under his son, again, the proportion of those above specified to the whole number is smaller, yet still so considerable as to attract notice, especially when we remember that a very important power of independent ecclesiastical legislation was lodged in the hands of the prelates, and that all such statutes are to be looked upon as mere appendices to the enormous mass of canonical edicts which had preceded them. Under Charlemagne, however, the fact we have mentioned is especially worthy of note, when we reflect that many of the national assemblies were summoned in remote halfsubdued districts, and were in their very essence military encampments, where the presence of the clergy was forbidden not only by more ancient statutes but by a
1 “Concilia quoque jussu ejus super statu Ecclesiarum corrigendo per totam Galliam ab episcopis celebrata sunt, quorum unum Mogontiaci, alterum Remis, tertium Turonis, quartum Cabillione, quintum Arelati congregatum est, et constitutionum quæ in singulis factæ sunt collatio coram imperatore in illo conventu [apud Aquasgrani] habita ; quas qui nosse voluerit, in supradictis quinque civitatibus invenire poterit, quamquam et in archivo palatii exemplaria illarum habeantur” (Einhardi Annales. sub anno 813. ap. Pertz. i. 200).
amone on do
recent Imperial injunction *, granted in consequence of a popular petition remonstrating against the warlike propensities of the Christian pastors. Here then we possess a remarkable token of the intellectual and moral energy pervading the clerical body, and of the earnest vigor with which the disciplinarian reforms, begun during the reign of Pepin, were carried on during those of his son and grandson, both among the clergy themselves and among their barbarian flocks.
In our preceding section we have mentioned that it was mainly owing to clerical influence that the old system of composition for crimes was infringed upon, and we discover yet more evident traces of the same circumstance during the centuries we are now examining. It was indeed as yet far from being the case that crime was universally punished in those days on the same principles which regulate our modern penal codes; but we cannot but see, along with that increase of clerical authority to which we have already referred, the continued progress and application of those principles. Indeed it is, to speak generally, difficult to overestimate the advantages which have accrued to modern Europe from the strictness with which the decrees of councils assembled under a more perfect form of society were preserved by ecclesiastical tradition among rude and lawless nations, for not only is the maintenance of the priestly order, as a separate and superior class, in great measure owing to the authority which could not but be exercised over uncultured minds
* Baluz. Capit. Reg. Franc. t. i. coll. 405—414.
by the professors of so pure and venerable a code, but the gradual infusion of canonical morality into the Teutonic statute-books assumes, during the centuries now before us, an importance not to be concealed. This assertion will be supported by the very slightest comparison of the respective penalties with which the Church and the state at different times visited the more heinous offences. If we were to take the case of homicide, which we adopted to exemplify a similar position in the last section, we should be led from the inhuman regulations of the Salic code, as revised shortly after the accession of Charlemagne, where is laid down with the utmost precision the “ Weregilt” varying with the rank of the victim, to a Capitulary of 802*, containing instructions for the “ Missi Dominici,” where, although the enormity of the crime is represented in strong colours, a pecuniary composition is the assigned punishment, while at the same time the progress of a purer Christian morality is marked by the necessity of penitence before the Bishop in order to a recovery of social privileges. A third and more satisfactory step is to be found among the Capitularies collected by Benedict Levita, where a law, probably to be referred to the later years of Charlemagne, or the earlier ones of his successor, declares death to be the penalty due to murder. The second as well as the
* Baluz. Capit. Reg. Franc. t. i. coll. 371, 2.
+ Id. t. 1. col. 1079 (Capit. [Kar. et Lud.] vii. c. 256). [De homicidis ita jussimus observare, ut quicunque ausu temerario alium sine causa occiderit, vitæ periculo feriatur, et pretio nullo