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superior to what their immediate predecessors had exercised over the minds of their rude barbarian neophytes. But this will be accounted for when we remember the utter helplessness into which every form of government and every branch of society fell during that disastrous age, when we reflect on the change which had come over the dauntless spirit of independence and individual freedom (characteristic, more than any other quality, of the early invaders of the empire,) and which had proved an effectual bar to the excessive political exaltation of the Church among nations so zealously conservative of their pristine institutions. Every incident of ecclesiastical history during the tenth century convinces us that the despotism of the clergy depended rather on the disappearance of all else that was great or venerable than on any absolute moral strength accruing to the Church?.
i Nearly all the letters of Fulk, Hincmar's successor at Rheims, to Pope Formosus, given by Frodoard (Hist. Ecc. Rem. lib. iv. cc. 1-3. ap. Guizot, Coll. des Mém. v. 480—490, Couvenier, pp. 571-596) contain lamentable evidence of the utter disorganization of all government and society in France; as in c. 3 (p. 487. Guizot; 592. Couvenier), where he complains of the ravages of the see of Rheims and attacks upon the city by Arnulf of Germany and Eudes count of Paris. However, during this complete absence of legitimate power, it does appear from the correspondence reported in these chapters that the organization of the Church, though irregular compared with what it had been, was far more perfect than any other at the time in the country. Heriveus, Fulk's successor, seems likewise to have distinguished himself by his good government (ibid. c. 11. p. 531. Guizot; p. 645. Couvenier): “Qui mox huic adeo gradui sese exhibere studuit habilem, bonis omnibus præbens amabilem, ipsis etiam senibus
Indeed, we shall find that the rise of feudalism, while it inspired so much new life into the European nations, tended, previously to the acknowledgment of papal power, rather to weaken sacerdotal influence.
In spite of the fictitious brilliancy imparted to the clerical order, during this its darkest period, by a few men of an intellectual calibre far beyond their contemporaries, the only reason for extolling the general advantages of priestly influence is to be derived from the utter obscurity of the world in which they lived.
We shall now revert from the repulsive spectacle presented by society during the 10th century to the most historically interesting portion of our present section, the reign of Charlemagne. The policy of that mighty sovereign, viewed in the relation as well to the religious as to
imitabilem : benignus amator existens pauperum, largus solator religiosorum, multumque misericors recreator lugentium miserorum : Ecclesiasticis apprime cantilenis eruditus, ac psalmodia præcipuus, et hujus exercitatione limatus, animo vultuque jocundus, suavis atque mitissimus omnique bonitate conspicuus, pater cleri atque totius populi pius patronus; tardus ad irascendum et velox ad miserandum; amator Ecclesiarum Dei, et fortissimus ovilis sibi commissi cum Dei virtute defensor. Recepit denique res diversas et villas Ecclesiæ, quas antecessor suus per precarias sive præstarias diversis contulerat personis. Cui sedula intentione sectanti spiritalia affluenter exuberabant temporalia, quæ ipse honesta dispensabat prudentia, disponens competentibus Episcopium ministerialibus, ipse orationibus incessanter intentus. Replentur igitur Ecclesiæ diversa bonis uberrimis tam hordea quam promptuaria : disponuntur cuncta tum rationabiliter tum misericorditer prædia: sed et quædam reparantur ab eo vel etiam instituuntur municipia.”
the political ideas of his predecessors and successors, seems to us to afford a rare instance of the prevailing tendencies of an age and nation checked, and for a season turned into a new channel, by the activity and administrative talent of a single man. Our present concern, however, is with the clergy, considered not in their political but in their moral and social relations to a prince who undoubtedly exerted over the whole religious ideas of his day an authority unequalled by any succeeding sovereign.
We may look upon the reign of Charlemagne as a sort of parenthesis in the history of the age, for in the political world the prevailing tendency towards a general splitting up of the old barbaric kingdoms into virtually independent duchies and counties was checked for a time by the centralizing influences of his administration, though under his descendants it broke forth again with greater power and more rapid success. In the religious world, again, the ascendancy of priestly authority over the state was for a time restrained by the imposing magnitude and elevated morality of the Frank Empire.
It must, however, be observed that Charlemagne, like all other great administrators, did not so much remodel the ideas of his age to suit the tendencies of his own mind, as follow out to their most legitimate and beneficial conclusions such as already existed; for he combined that commanding genius which necessarily belongs to a great man, with that far-sighted compliance which necessarily belongs to a wise one; so that we
may in some measure view his influence on the intellect and morality of his age as the most perfect and natural form of the development consequent on the peculiarities of the preceding centuries ; and in this we shall be supported by the facts both of his political and his ecclesiastical legislation. The former, though not such as to entitle him to the praises bestowed upon him by Montesquieu, yet presents to us the old Teutonic institutions in their most perfect forml; and in the latter, though it may excite the regrets of zealous ecclesiastical historians that the Church was subjected to the authority of a temporal lord”, we behold a combination of spiritual and civil influences for the good of the nation, which we look for in vain under feebler rulers.
Although in reviewing the vast extent of legislation
1 " Post susceptum imperiale nomen, cum adverteret multa legibus populi sui deesse, (nam Franci duas habent leges, in plurimis locis valde diversas,) cogitavit quæ deerant addere et discrepantia unire, prava quoque ac perperam prolata corrigere; sed de his nihil aliud ab eo factum est, nisi quod pauca capitula et ea imperfecta legibus addidit. Omnium tamen nationum, quæ sub ejus dominatu erant, jura quæ scripta non erant describere ac literis mandari fecit. Item barbara et antiquissima carmina, quibus veterum regum actus et bella canebantur, scripsit memoriæque mandavit. Inchoavit et grammaticam patrii sermonis. Mensibus etiam juxta propriam linguam vocabula imposuit, cum ante id temporis apud Francos partim latinis partim barbaris nominibus pronuntiarentur” (Einhardi Vita Karoli M. c. 29. ap. Pertz, Mon. Germ. Hist. Script. t. 11. p. 458).
2 Yet his rough dealings with the Church had been anticipated by Charles Martel (Frodoard, Hist. Eccl. Rem. lib. ii. c. 12. ap. Guizot, Coll. des Mém. v. 170—174; Couvenier, pp. 222—4).
bearing the name of Charlemagne we must attribute much of its profound foresight and policy to the judgment and talent of so great a sovereign; although more, perhaps, than most rulers he may be associated with the acts published during his reign; yet it must also be remembered that he was ever surrounded by all the most erudite and the most pious of his clergy, and that to their sage counsels must be assigned the glory of many of those enactments which posterity refers to their illustrious pupil. While we admire the great results of the fulfilment, in the person of the Teutonic Emperor, of one portion of Plato's wish, if we look with admiration on the philosophic king, we must not forget to give their due meed of praise to the philosophers who swayed an almost kingly power; for the privy council of the Emperor during peace was composed of churchmen, and in a great measure of the same who will come before us again as the ornaments of the Palace School. The absolute form in which the royal decrees were published in France hides from us the fact that many of those Capitularies, which bear all the appearance of having been prompted by a single mind ever devoted to the interests of learning and morality, were little else than formal expressions of decisions arrived at by the assembled ecclesiastical authorities of his realm. We may then with reason assert that the most important part of the moral and intellectual blessings conferred by the clergy on their contemporaries consisted in their influence on the imperial mind; and, consequently, while we give all due praise to the