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by conveyance or by will were established in different districts or lordships, and different sums were paid to the lord as fines upon descent or alienation. One thing, however, was common originally to the whole—some service was exacted by the lord, and this service was of an inferior or base kind; never the military service by which free land was held by the freemen, vassals of the lord. These were the freeholders of each manor or lordship, owed suit service to the freeholders' court, and were bound to follow the lord in war. But the serfs, even when established in their rights of property, only attended customary courts of an inferior kind, and served the lord in a humbler way.
Thus, throughout the whole of what was once the Empire of the West, the feudal system was effectually established ; and thus, from the degraded serf, who eked a miserable sustenance from the allotment made him by the holder of a knight's fee, who, perhaps, was vassal to a baron holding from some count, who was retainer to a duke, who was tenant in capite, or the immediate vassal of the king himself, until we reach the royal head of this vast system of servitude, we find not one freeman. True, the terms of the relationship were made to seem sufficiently inviting. Nominally “the feudal relation of lord and vassal was one of mutual support and assistance. Heavy burdens were laid upon the one, but they demanded corresponding duties and obligations from the other. If the vassal was bound to furnish an uncertain amount of personal military attendance to his superior, in his wars, public or private, and in later times to contribute much money, the lord was in turn obliged to warrant and secure his dependant in the quiet possession of his land, and to defend him against all enemies." No language, however, can conceal the fact that the whole system was one of petty despotisms, rising to an irresponsible and central military head; that it was emphatically a system of brute force; that it gave no defence from lawlessness but by submission to a lawless tyranny; that it reduced the poor man to a state of slavery, and that the best it could make any man was the bound vassal of a higher lord than he.
Such was the substitute for the free Saxon institutions, brought to England by the Norman conqueror, and we repeat what we
asserted in the first page of the present chapter—that it was a rising series of consolidated military powers, reaching its climax in a central monarchy which tolerated not one true freeman. But fortunately for the liberties of England, William made himself too powerful. The royal power in France had been reduced almost into contempt by the immense power of the immediate feudatories of the crown. The counts and dukes—though nominally vassals of the kingholding enormous territories, and, by the practice of sub-infeudation, having multitudes of military followers, had become in reality all but independent sovereigns. William himself, as duke of Normandy, had been too powerful to pay much respect to his French suzerain; but in distributing the lands of his defeated Saxon subjects among the Norman knights whose swords had won bis crown, he saw to it that none should be so powerful as to dare, in any case, contest the royal will. He thus made tyranny over the barons possible whenever he or his successors should desire to play the tyrant. The result could not be doubtful. Tyranny, when possible, is always certain. He had made the individual barons too weak individually to make an issue with the king. When, therefore, royal tyranny became intolerable, the resistance to it necessarily assumed the best form of resistance to a tyranny —that of a united and determined coalition. Better still, it made the Saxon commons an important element in the baronial contests with the crown; and hence the charters, wrung from kings in England by the hands of nobles, have invariably been charters of the people's rights much more than of baronial privileges. Thus, through generation after generation, the united lords and commons, making common cause for rights and liberties dear to them both, have gradually won back to the people from the royal power what, but for the insatiable rapacity and keen sagacity of William, they might never have united to achieve. How the first great step of this mighty march was made we shall proceed to tell hereafter.'
1. Guizot on the Social Working of the Feudal System.-"Let us investigate this society in itself, and see what part it has played in the history of civil. ization. First of all, let us take feudalism in its most simple, primitive, and fundamental element : let us consider a single possessor of a fief in his domain, and let us see what will become of all those who form the little society around him.
“He establishes himself upon an isolated and elevated spot, which he takes care to render safe and strong: there he constructs what he will call his castle. With whom does he establish himself? With bis wife and children ; perhaps some freemen who have not become proprietors, attach themselves to his person, and continue to live with him at his table. These are the inhabitants of the interior of the castle. Around and at its foot, a little population of colonists and serfs gather together, who cultivate the domains of the possessor of the fief. In the centre of this lower population, religion plants a church ; it brings hither a priest. In the early period of the feudal system, this priest was commonly at the same time the chaplain of the castle and the pastor of the village: by and by these two characters separated ; the village had its own pastor, who lived there beside his church. This, then was the elementary feudal society, the feudal molecule, so to speak. It is this element that we have first of all to examine. We will demand of it the double question which should be asked of all our facts: What has resulted from it in favor of the development, 1, of man himself—2, of society ?
“We are perfectly justified in addressing this double question to the little society which I have just described, and in placing faith in its replies; for it was the type and faithful image of the entire feudal society. The lord, the people on his domains, and the priest: such is feudalism upon the great as well as the small scale, when we have taken from it royalty and the towns, which are distinct and foreign elements.
“ The first fact that strikes us in contemplating this little society, is the prodigious importance which the possessor of the fief must have had, both in his own eyes, and in the eyes of those who surrounded him. The sentiment of personality, of individual liberty, predominated in the barbaric life. But here it was wholly different: it was no longer only the liherty of the man, of the warrior; it was the importance of the proprietor, of the head of the family, of the master, that came to be considered. From this consideration an impression of immense snperiority must have resulted ; a superiority quite peculiar, and very different from everything that we meet with in the career of other civilizations. I will give the proof of this. I take in the ancient world some great aristocratical position, a Roman patrician for instance. Like the feudal lord, the Roman patrician was head of a family, master, superior. He was, moreover, the religious magistrate, the pontift in the interior of his family. Now bis importance as a religious magistrate came to him from without; it was not a purely personal and individual importance; he received it from on high; he was the delegate of the Divinity; the interpreter of the religious creed. The Roman patrician was, besides, the member of a corporation which lived united on the same spot, a member of the senate; this again was an importance which came to him from without, from his corporation, a received, a borrowed importance. The greatness of the ancient aristocrats, associated as it was with a religious and political character, belonged to the situation, to the corporation in general, rather than to the individual. That of the possessor of the fief was purely individual; it was not derived from any one; all his rights, all his power came to him from himself. He was not a religious magistrate; he took no part in a senate; it was in his person that all his importance resided; all that he was, he was of himself, and in his own name. What a mighty influence must such a situation have exerted on its occupant ! What individual haughtiness, what prodigious pride-let us say the word—what insolence must have arisen in his soul ! Above himself there was no superior of whom he was the representative or interpreter: there was no equal near him; no powerful and general law which weighed upon him; no external rule which influenced his will ; he knew no curb but the limits of his strength and the presence of danger. Such was the neces. sary moral result of this situation upon the character of man.
"I now proceed to a second consequence, mighty also, and too little noticed, namely, the particular turn taken by the feudal family spirit.
“Let us cast a glance over the various family systems. Take, first of all, the patriarchal system of which the Bible and oriental records offer the model. The family was very numerous, it was a tribe. The chief, the patriarch, lived therein in common with his children, his near relations, the various generations which united themselves around him, all his kindred, all his servants; and not only did he live with them all, but he had the same interests, the same occupations, and he led the same life. Was not this the condition of Abraham, of the Patriarchs, and of the chiefs of the Arab tribes who still reproduce the image of the patriarchal life
“ Another family system presents itself, namely, the clan, a petty society, whose type we must seek for in Scotland or Ireland. Through this system, probably, a large portion of the European family has passed. This is no longer the patriarchal family. There is here a great difference between the situation of the chief and that of the rest of the population. They did not lead the same life. The greater portion tilled and served, the chief was idle and warlike. But they had a common origin: they all bore the same name, and their relations of kindred, ancient traditions, the same recollections, the same affections, established a moral tie, a sort of equality between all the members of the clan.
“These are the two principal types of the family society presented by history. But have we here the feudal family? Obviously not. It seems at first that the feudal family bears some relation to the clan ; but the difference is much greater than the resemblance. The population which surrounded the possessor of the fief were totally unconnected with him; they did not bear his name: between them and him there was no kindred, no bond, moral or historical. Neither did it resemble the patriarchal family. The possessor of the fief led not the same life, nor did he engage in the same occupations with those who surrounded him; he was an idler and a warrior, while the others were laborers. The feudal family was not numerous; it was not a tribe ; it reduced itself to the family, properly so called, namely, to the wife and children; it lived separated from the rest of the population, shut up in the castle. The colonist and serfs made no part of it: the origin of the members of this society was different, the inequality of their situation immense. Five or six individuals in a situation at once superior to and estranged from the rest of the society—that was the feudal family. It was of course invested with a peculiar character. It was narrow, concentrated, and constantly called upon to defend itself against, to distrust, and at least to isolate itself from, even its retainers."
"No doubt, after a certain time, some moral relations, some habits of affection, became contracted between the colonists and the possessor of the fief. But this happened in spite of their relative position, and not by reason of its influence. Considered in itself, the position was radically wrong. There was nothing morally in common between the possessor of the fief and the colonists; they constituted part of his domain ; they were his property; and under this name property were included all the rights which, in the present day, are called the rights of public sovereignty, as well as the rights of private property, the right of imposing laws, of taxing, and of punishing, as well as that of disposing of and selling. As far as it is possible that such should be the case where men are in presence of men, between the lord and the cultivators of his lands there existed no rights, no guarantees, no society.
“ Hence I conceive the truly prodigious and invincible hatred with which the people at all times have regarded the feudal system, its recollections, its very name. It is not a case without example for men to have submitted to oppressive despotisms, and to have become accustomed to them ; nay, to have wil. lingly accepted them. Theocratic and monarchical despotisms have more than once obtained the consent, almost the affections, of the population subjected to them. But feudal despotism has always been repulsive and odious; it has oppressed the destinies, but never reigned over the souls of men. The reason is that in theocracy and monarchy, power is exercised in virtue of certain words which are common to the master and to the subject; it is the representative, the minister of another power superior to all human power; it speaks and acts in the name of the Divinity, or of a general idea, and not in the name of man himself, of man alone. Feudal despotism was altogether different; it was the power of the individual over the individual; the dominion of the personal and capricious will of a man. This is, perhaps, the only tyranny of which, to his eternal honor,