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never the complete and faithful image of the fact. In the first place, it is individual, which the fact is not ; great events, the invasion of a foreign people, for instance, are related by those who have been personally affected, as victims, actors, or spectators : they relate the event as they have seen it ; they characterize it according to what they have known or undergone. He who has seen his house or his village burnt, will, perhaps, call the invasion a conflagration : to the thought of another, it will be found arrayed in the form of a deluge or ah earthquake. These images are true, but are of a truth which, if I may so express myself
, is full of prejudice and egoism; they reproduce the impressions of some few men ; they are not expressions of the fact in its entire extent nor of the manner in which it impressed the whole of the country.
Such, moreover, is the instinctive poetry of the human mind, that it receives from facts an impression which is livelier and greater than are the facts themselves; it is its tendency to extend and ennoble them; they are for it but matter which it fashions and forms, a theme upon which it exercises itself, and from which it draws, or rather over which it spreads beauties and effects which were not really there. Thus, a double and contrary cause fills language with illusion ; under a material point of view, facts are greater than man, and he perceives and describes of them only that which strikes him personally ; under the moral point of view, man is greater than facts; and, in describing them, he lends them something of his own greatness.
This is what we must never forget in studying history, particularly in reading contemporary documents ; they are at once incomplete and exaggerated; they omit and amplify: we must always distrust the impression conveyed by them, both as too narrow and as too poetical ; we must both add to and take from it. Nowhere does this double error appear more strongly than in the narratives of the Germanic invasion ; the words by which it has been described in no way represent it.
The invasion, or rather, the invasions, were events which were essentially partial, local, and momentary. A band arrived, usually far from numerous; the most powerful, those who founded kingdoms, as the band of Clovis, scarcely numbered from five thousand to six thousand men ; the entire nation of the Burgundians did not exceed sixty thousand men. It rapidly overran a limited territory ; ravaged a district ; attacked a city, and sometimes retreated, carrying away its booty, and sometimes settled somewhere, always careful not to disperse itself too much We know with what facility and promptitude such events accomplish themselves and disappear. Houses are burnt, fields are devastated, crops carried off, men killed or led away prisoners : all this evil over, at the end of a few days the waves close, the ripple subsides, individual sufferings are forgotten, society returns, at least in appearance, to its former state. This was the condition of things in Gaul during the fourth century.
But we also know that the human society, that society which we call a people, is not a simple juxta-position of isolated and fugitive existence: were it nothing more, the invasions of the barbarians would not have prduced the impression which the documents of the epoch depict; for a long while the number of places and men that suffered therefrom was far inferior to the number of those who escaped. But the social life of each man is not concentrated in the material space which is its theatre, nor in the passing moment; it extends itself to all the relations which he has contracted upon different points of the land ; and not only to those relations which he has contracted, but also to those which he might contract, or can even conceive the possibility of contracting : it embraces not only the present, but the future ; man lives in a thousand spots which he does not inhabit, in a thousand moments which, as yet, are not; and if this development of his life is cut off from him if he
is forced to confine himself to the narrow limits of his material and actual existence, to isolate himself in space and time, social life is mutilated, and society is no more.
And this was the effect of the invasions, of those apparitions of barbarous hordes, short, it is true, and limited, but reviving without cessation, everywhere possible, and always imminent: they destroyed, 1st, all regular, habitual, and easy correspondence between the various parts of the territory ; 2nd, all security, all sure prospect of the future ; they broke the ties which bound together the inhabitants of the same country, the moments of the same life; they isolated men, and the days of each man. In many places, and for many years, the aspect of the country might remain the same; but the social organization was attacked, the members no longer held together, the muscles no longer played, the blood no longer circulated freely or surely in the veins: the disease appeared sometimes at one point, sometimes at another : a town was pillaged, a road rendered impassable, a bridge destroyed ; such or such a communication ceased; the culture of the land became impossible in such or such a district: in a word, the organic harmony, the general activity of the social body, were each day fettered and disturbed ; each day dissolution and paralysis made some new advance.
Thus was Roman society destroyed in Gaul ; not as a valley is ravaged by a torrent, but as the most solid body is disorganized by the continual infiltration of a foreign substance. Between all the members of the state, between all the moments of the life of each man, the barbarians continually intruded themselves. I lately endeavoured to paint to you the dismemberment of the Roman empire, the impossibility under which its masters found themselves of holding together the different parts, and how the imperial administration was obliged to retire spontaneously from Britain, from Gaul, incapable of resisting the dissolution of that vast body. What occurred in the Empire occurred equally in each province; as the Empire had suffered disorganization, so did each province ; the cantons, the towns detached themselves, and returned to a local and isolated existence. The invasion operated everywhere in the same manner, and everywhere produced the same effects. All the ties by which Rome had been enabled, after so many efforts, to combine together the different parts of the world ; that great system of administration, of-imposts, of recruiting, of public works, of roads, had not been able to support itself. There remained of it nothing but what could subsist in an isolated and local condition, that is to say, nothing but the wrecks of the municipal system. The inhabitants shut themselves up in the towns, where they continued to govern themselves nearly as they had done of old, with the same rights, by the same institutions. A thousand circumstances prove this concentration of society in towns ; here is one which has been little noticed. Under the Roman administration, it is the governors of provinces, the consuls, the correctors, the presidents who fill the scene, and appear continually in the laws and history; in the sixth century, their names become much more rare ; we, indeed, still meet with dukes and counts, to whom the government of the provinces was confided; the barbarian kings strove to inherit the Roman administration, to preserve the same officers, and to induce their power to flow in the same channels ; but they succeeded only very incompletely, and with great disorder ; their dukes were rather military chiefs than administrators ; it is manifest that the governors of provinces had no longer the same importance, and no longer played the same part ; the governors of towns now filled history ; the majority of these counts of Chilperic, of Gontran, of Theodebert, whose exactions are related by Gregory of Tours, are counts of towns established within their walls, and by the side of their bishop. I should exaggerate were I to say that the province disappeared, but it became disorganized, and lost all consistency, and almost all reality. The towns, the primitive elements of the Roman world, survived almost alone amidst its ruin.
The rural districts became the prey of the barbarians, it was there that they established themselves with their men ; it was there that they were about to introduce by degrees totally new institutions, and a new organization, but till then the rural districts will occupy scarcely any place in society, they will be but the theatre of excursions, pillages, and misery.
Even within the towns the ancient society was far from maintaining itself strong and entire. Amidst the movement of the invasions, the towns were regarded above all as fortresses ; the population shut themselves therein to escape from the hordes which ravaged the country. When the barbarous immigration was somewhat diminished, when the new people had planted themselves upon the territory, the towns still remained fortresses : in place of having to defend themselves against the wandering hordes, they had to defend themselves against their neighbours, against the greedy and turbulent possessors of the surrounding country. There was therefore little security behind those weak ramparts. Towns are unquestionably centres of population and of labour, but under certain conditions ; under the condition, on the one hand, that the country population cultivate for them ; or the other, that an extended and active commerce consume the products of the citizen's labour. If agriculture and commerce decay, towns must decay; their prosperity and their power cannot be isolated. Now you have just seen into what a condition the rural districts of Gaul had fallen in the sixth century; the towns were able to escape for some time, but from day to day the evil threatened to conquer them. Finally, it did conquer them, and very soon this last wreck of the Empire seemed stricken with the same weakness, and a prey to the same dissolution,
The following says 'The Penny Cyclopædia,' were the kingdoms founded by the several invading bands, the dates being those assigned in the valuable summaries of Anglo-Saxon history, given by Sir F. Palgrave, in his Appendix of Proofs and Illustrations to his Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth, p. ccxxix—cccxl
1. Kent, consisting of the present county of that name, founded by Hengist and Horsa, whose followers were Jutes, A.D. 457. From Æsc or Eric, the son and successor of Hengist, the kings of Kent acquired the name of Æscingas. Kent subsisted as an independent state till its conquest by Cenwulf, king of Mercia, in 796. In 823 it was finally annexed to Wessex by Egbert; but for at least a century after that date it is still mentioned as a separate though subordinate kingdom.
2. Sussex, consisting of the present county of that name, founded by Ella, whose followers were Saxons, A.D. 491. In A.D. 686 it was conquered by Ceadwalla, king of Wessex, and appears to have remained ever after in subjection either to that state or to Mercia. In 828 it finally submitted to 'Egbert ;' and 'from this period,' says Sir F. Palgrave, ‘Sussex and Surrey appear to have been considered as integral portions of the empire of Wessex, but as annexed to the kingdom of Kent and passing with it.'
3. Wessex, including (in its greatest extent) Surrey, Ilants with the Isle of Wight, Berks, Wilts, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and part of Cornwall, founded by Cerdic and his son Cynric, whose followers were Saxons, A.D. 519. The Jutes of the Isle of Wight were conquered by Cerdic and Cynric, A.D. 530; but in 661 the island was wrested from Wessex by Wulfere, king of Mercia ; some time after which it appears to have asserted its independence, which it maintained under kings of its own till the beginning of the 10th century, when it submitted to Edward the
Elder. In the reign of Egbert (A.D 800—836) the kingdom of Wessex attained a supremacy over the other states, which it never lost afterwards.
4. Esses, including the present counties of Essex and Middlesex, and the southern part of Hertfordshire, supposed to have been founded by Æscwin, or Ercen wine, whose followers were Saxons, A.D. 527. 'It is doubtful,' says Sir F. Palgrave, whether this monarchy ever enjoyed independence. It certainly became subject to Mercia in the course of the seventh century, and in 823 it finally submitted to Egbert of Wessex.
5. Northumbria, consisting of the sometimes separate but commonly united states of Bernicia and Deira ; the former (from the native name Bryneich) including the county of Northumberland, and the south-eastern counties of Scotland as far as the Forth, founded by Ida, whose followers were Angles, A D. 547; the latter (from the native name Deifyr) including the counties of Cumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, York, and Lancaster, founded by Ella, whose followers were also Angles, A.D. 560. These two states appear to have coalesced before the beginning of the seventh century; and after the year 655 they were never separated, so long as they retained their independence. The limits of the kingdom of Northumbria to the north varied greatly from time to time according to the fortunes of the almost constant warfare which it carried on with the Scots, the Picts, and the kingdom of Strathclyde. From the middle of the eighth century the history of Northumbria consists of little else than a detail of civil dissensions, confusion, and bloodshed, arising from the claims of rival competitors for the throne. The Northumbrians made a formal submission to Egbert of Wessex in 829. In 867 the country was conquered by the Danes; and from this time it may be considered to have remained independent under princes of Danish race till 924, when both the Danes and the English inhabitants acknowledged the supremacy of Edward the Elder. Northumbria, however, continued to be governed by princes of its own, who, although nominally subject to the English monarch, took the title of kings, till 952. After this its rulers were only designated earls; the district forming sometimes one earldom, sometimes two, under the names of Bernicia and Deira, or Northumbria and York, It was not till some time after the Norman conquest that the territories which had formed this Saxon state came to be considered as strictly included within the realm of England.
6. East Anglia, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, and part of Bedfordshire, founded by Uffa, whose followers were Angles, and from whom the kings of this state took the name of Uffingas, A.D. 571. The East Angles placed themselves under the sovereignty of Egbert of Wessex about the year 823, but they continued for some time after this under the immediate government of their own kings. The country was conquered by the Danes in 883; and it was not completely brought back under the subjection to the English crown till after the accession of Athelstane in 925. From this time it appears to have been governed by ealdermen ur dukes.
7. Mercia, including the counties of Chester, Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Shropshire, Stafford, Leicester, Rutland, Northampton, Huntingdon, Hereford, Worcester, Warwick, Gloucester, Oxford, Buckingham, and parts of Hertford and Bedford, said to have been founded by Crida, whose followers were Angles, A.D. 585. The name Mercia has been derived, by Camden and others, om the word mearc, a limit; "for the other kingdoms, it is said, "bordered upon it.' Lingard thinks that the people were called Mercians, perhaps from the marshy district in which they first settled.” The most probable explanation, however, appears to be that given by Macpherson, in his ‘Annals of Commerce,' who observes that the Saxon Dame Myrenaric properly signifies the woodland kingdom, which,' he adds,
agrees very closely with Coitani, the Latinized name of the old British inhabitants, signifying woodland-men, or foresters.' About the middle of the seventh century Mercia was conquered by Oswio, king of Northumbria ; but after a few years it recovered its independence ; and before the end of the next century it had reduced to subjection both the neighbouring states of East Anglia and Kent. It was eventually subjugated however about the year 825, by Egbert of Wessex, and although for some time considered as a separate kingdom, it continued ever after dependent upon that state, with the exception of a short period in the latter part of that century, during which it was overrun and taken possesion of by the Danes.
This assemblage of states has been commonly called the Heptarchy, for which Mr. Turner has proposed to substitute the Octarchy, on the ground that Deira and Bernicia ought to be considered as two distinct kingdoms. But in truth it may be doubted if there ever was a time when so many as seven of the states co-existed separately and independently. Various small districts also appear to have for longer or shorter periods preserved an all but nominal independence in the midst of the larger states, to some one or other of which they were severally considered as annexed. Such were the Isle of Wight; the Suthrige, or Southern Kingdom, now Surrey; the district of Hwiccas, or Magesettam, which was conterminous with the antient bishopric of Worcester; and others, of which the annals have been for the first time collected by Sir Francis Palgrave. But above all it would be difficult to show that either term is perfectly admissible, if it be intended to imply (as in strict propriety both heptarchy and octarchy would seem to do) that the several states were all connected together into any sort of union or confederacy; that they formed, in fact, any political system entitled to be designated by one word at all. We know that they were constantly at war with one another, and of the existence of any general controlling authority, except such as one king was occasionally enabled to maintain over the rest by his sword, their history affords no trace. To certain of the kings however by whom this temporary supremacy appears to have been asserted in the most marked manner, Bede, and after him, the Saxon Chronicle, have attributed the title of Bretwalda, that is, as it has been interpreted, Wielder or Emperor of Britain ; and it is probable that a species of superior honour and dignity, such as this title would imply, may have been claimed by the princes in question, and accorded to them by those of their neighbours whom they had brought under subjection, or who, although unsubdued, preferred not to provoke their enmity.
14.-THE WARS OF MERCIA.
JOANNA BAILLIE. From 'Ethwald,' a Tragedy.
SCENE I. A small cavern, in which is discovered a Wizard, sitting by a fire of embers, baking
his scanty meal of parched corn, and counting out some money from a bag; a book and other things belonging to his art are strewed near him on the ground.
Wiz. (alone.) Thanks to the restless soul of Mollo's son !