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I'm faint—a biting sword ' A noble sword
Enter De Kaims and Knights, doc.
De Kaims. Is’t madness or a hunger after death That makes thee thus unarm'd throw taunts at us — Yield, Stephen, or my sword's point dips in The gloomy current of a traitor's heart. Stephen. Do it, De Kaims, I will not budge an inch. De Kaims. Yes, of thy madness thou shalt take the meed. Stephen. Darest thou ? De Kaims. How dare, against a man disarm'd 1 Stephen. What weapons has the lion but himself Come not near me, De Kaims, or by the price Of all the glory I have won this day, Being a king, I will not yield alive To any but the second man of the realm, Robert of Glocester. De Kaims. Thou shalt wail to me. Stephen. Shall I, when I have sworn against it, sir? Thou think'st it brave to take a breathing king, That, on a court-day bow'd to haughty Maud, The awed presence-chamber may be bold To whisper, there's the man who took alive Stephen—me—prisoner. Certes, De Kaims, The ambition is a noble one.
De Kaims. 'Tis true,
Do not tempt me to throttle you on the gorge,
A Soldier. Is an honest yeoman's spear
Stephen. Ah, dastard
De Kaims. What, you are vulnerable ! my prisoner
Stephen. No, not yet. I disclaim it, and demand
Trumpets. Enter the Earl of Chester and Knights.
SCENE IV.-A Presence Chamber. Queen Maud in a Chair of State, the Earls of Glocester and Chester, Lords, Attendants.
Maud. Glocester, no more : I will behold that Boulogne :
Glocester. Faithful counsel have I given;
Maud. The Heavens forbid that I should not think so.
Glocester. Then in plain terms,
I would no more of that ; for, as I said,
Woos him to hold a duet in a smile,
Maud. A perjur’d slave
Chester. And for his perjury,
Maud. A frost upon his summer
Chester. A Queen's nod
60,—THE FEUDAL SYSTEM.–I. GUIzot.
A good proof that, in the tenth century, the feudal system was necessary, and the only social state then possible, is the universality of its establishment. Whereever barbarism ceased, every thing took the feudal form. At first, men saw in it nothing but the triumph of chaos. All unity, all general civilization vanished; on all sides society was seen to dismember itself, and a number of small, obscure, isolated, and incoherent societies to arise in its place. This appeared to contemporaries the dissolution of all things, universal anarchy. Consult either the poets or the chroniclers of that time; they all believed themselves at the end of the world. It was, however, a new and real society which commenced, the feudal society, which was so necessary, so inevitable, so much the only possible consequence of the anterior state, that every thing was merged in it, and adopted its form. Even those elements which appeared the most foreign to this system, the Church, municipalities, royalty, were forced to accommodate themselves to it; the churches became suzerains and vassals, the towns had lords and vassals, royalty was disguised under suzerainship. Every thing was given in fief; not only lands, but certain rights, the right of felling in the forests, the right of fishing: the churches gave their perquisites in fief, their gains by baptisms, and the churching of women. Water and money were given in fief. In the same way that all the general elements of society entered into the feudal frame, so the smallest details, the least important acts of common life came under the operation of feudalism.
In seeing the feudal form thus take possession of all things we are inclined to believe, in the first moment, that the essential vital principle of feudalism prevailed every where. This is a great mistake. In taking the feudal form, the institutions, the elements of society which were not analogous to the feudal system, did not renounce their peculiar nature and principles. The feudal church did not cease to be animated and governed, at bottom, by the theocratic principle ; and in order to make this principle the prevailing one, it laboured incessantly, now in concert with the royal power, now with the pope, now with the people, to destroy this system, of which, so to speak, it bore the livery. It was the same with royalty, and with the corporations: in the one, the monarchical, in the other, the democratic principle, continued, in reality, to rule. Despite their feudal garb, these various elements of European society constantly laboured to free themselves from a form foreign to their true nature, and to assume that which corresponded with their peculiar and vital principle. Having established the universality of the feudal form, we must avoid concluding from this the universality of the feudal principle, and studying feudalism indifferently wherever we meet with its physiognomy. To know and comprehend this system perfectly, to distinguish and judge of its effects with reference to modern civilization, we must examine it where the principle and form are in harmony; we must study it in the hierarchy of lay possessors of fiefs, in the community of the conquerors of the European territory. There we find the true feudal society; in that relation we will now consider it. I spoke just now of the importance of moral questions, and of the necessity of not avoiding any such. There is another order of considerations, entirely opposed to these, and which are in general too much neglected; I mean the material condition of society, the material changes in the being and living of mankind, produced by a fresh event, by a revolution, by a new social state. This has not been always sufficiently considered; it has not been sufficiently enquired what modifications these great crises of the world made in the material existence of men, in the material aspect of their relations. These modifications have more influence on general society than is supposed. Who does not know how much the influence of climate has been studied, and how much importance is attached to it by Montesquieu. If we consider the direct influence of climate upon men, it is, perhaps, not so extensive as has been supposed; it is, at any rate, vague, and difficult to discover. But the indirect influence of climate, that which results, for example, from the fact that in a warm country, men live in the open air, whilst in a cold country, they shut themselves in the interior of their habitations, that here they live on one kind of food, there on another, are facts of extreme importance, and which, by simply changing material life, act powerfully on civilization. Every great revolution produces in the social state modifications of this kind, which should be carefully considered. The establishment of the feudal system caused one of these modifications, the importance of which must be allowed. It altered the distribution of the inhabi tants on the face of the land. Until then, the owners of the land, the sovereign population, lived in united masses, more or less numerous, either settled in the interior of the towns, or wandering in bands, through the country. Feudalism caused these men to become isolated, each in his own habitation, at great distances from each other. You will perceive, at a glance, what influence this change necessarily exercised on the character and the course of civilization. The social preponderance, the government of society suddenly passed from the towns to the country; private property took precedence of public property, private life of public life. Such was the first effect, an effect purely material, of the triumph of feudal society. The further we investigate it, the more clearly will the consequences of this single fact be unfolded before our eyes. Let us examine this society in itself, and see what part it has played in the history of civilization. Let us first take feudalism in its most simple, its primitive. fundamental element; let us consider the case of a single possessor of a fief, in hir domain; let us see what will be the position, and the duties of all those who compose the little society by which he is surrounded. He establishes himself in an isolated, elevated situation, which his first care is to render safe and strong; he there constructs what he will call his castle. With whom does he establish himself? With his wife and children; perhaps some free P
men, who have not become proprietors, have attached themselves to his person, and continue to live with him, at his table. These are the inhabitants of the interior of the castle. All around, at the foot, are grouped a little population of colonists and serfs, who cultivate the land belonging to the holder of the fief. In the midst of this inferior population religion plants a church, and establishes a priest. In the early days of the feudal system this priest was generally, at the same time the chaplain of the castle, and the pastor of the village; in time the two characters became distinct; and the village had its pastor living there, beside his church. This was the elementary feudal society, the feudal molecule, so to speak. It is this element which we have now to examine; we must do so, in the two points of view from which it is necessary to regard all facts. What have been its results towards the development, first, of man, secondly, of society. We are quite right in examining this little society which I have just described, on these two points, and in placing faith in the result; for it is the type, the faithful image, of the whole feudal society. The lord, the people on his domains, and the priest, are the features of feudalism, on a great as well as a small scale, separating from it royalty and the towns, which are distinct and foreign elements. The first fact which strikes me in considering this little society, is the prodigious importance which the possessor of the fief must have had, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of those who surrounded him. The sentiment of personality, of individual liberty, was supreme in the barbaric life. Here it was entirely different: it was no longer only the liberty of the man, of the warrior; it was the importance of the proprietor, the chief of the family, the master. This position necessarily gave rise to an impression of immense superiority: a superiority entirely personal, and very different from any we meet with in the course of other civilizations. I will give a proof of this. I take, in the ancient world, a grand aristocratic position, a Roman patrician, for example: like the feudal lord, the Roman patrician was the chief of the family, the master and superior. He was, besides, a religious magistrate, the pontiff in his family. But the importance of a religious magistrate was conferred on him from without; it was not an importance purely personal and individual; he received it from on high; he was the delegate of the Divinity; the interpreter of the religious creeds. The Roman patrician was, besides, the member of a corporation which lived united in the same place, a member of the senate; this again was an importance which came to him from without, from his corporation, an extraneous, borrowed importance. The greatness of the ancient aristocrats, associated with a religious and political character, was rather that of the position, of the corporation in general, than of the individual. That of the possessor of a fief was entirely individual; he owed nothing to any one ; all his rights, all his power was derived from himself. He was not a religious magistrate, he was not a member of a senate; all his importance was contained in his own person; all that he was, he was of himself, in his own name. What an influence such a situation must have exercised upon him who occupied it ! What personal haughtiness, what prodigious pride, to be plain, what insolence must have arisen in his soul | Above him no superior of whom he was the representative and interpreter; beside him no equal; no powerful general law oppressed him; there was no external power which could control his will; he felt no curb but the limits of his strength, and the presence of danger. Such was the moral influence of this situation on the character of him who held it. I proceed now to a second consequence, also most important, and too little considered, the particular turn of the feudal family spirit. Let us glance over the various family systems; we will first take the patriarchal family, of which the Bible and the oriental monuments give the type. This family