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Medieval Civilization:
 The Crusades

 Growth Of Commerce And Its Results

 Formation Of France

 England And The Other States

 The Renaissance

 The Papacy In The New Age

 The Reformation

 Summary - Medieval Civilization

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England And The Other States

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Our brief sketch of English history before the Norman conquest revealed two facts of the highest importance in their bearing upon the later English constitution. One was that only the slightest Roman influence had been felt by the Saxons, the other that the feudal system of the continent had obtained no footing in the island. Then followed the Norman conquest, in appearance the most revolutionary epoch of the medieval history of England. But it was, in truth, less revolutionary than it seems, and less revolutionary than other national crises before the sixteenth century.

It may easily be made to seem, as it has been by some writers, that the formation of the characteristic features of the English constitution is a process dating no farther back than the Norman conquest. But if the English people had not had the Anglo-Saxon past behind them, if there had not been maintained such a close continuity of national life in spite of the conquest, the final result would have been very different. The conquest, and the age which immediately followed it, introduced much that was new, both in the way of institutions and of conditions, but in the main the new development seized upon institutions or tendencies which existed in the old, and produced results which are often decidedly unlike the old, but which are still in harmony with its spirit. And this must have been so. Aside from feudalism, which is to be spoken of in special, the law and institutions which the Normans brought with them were Frankish, that is, Teutonic like the Saxon, and Frankish less modified in many respects than the contemporary institutions of other parts of the old Carolingian empire. The question as to whether a given institution is of Norman or of Saxon origin is, for our purpose, of little importance. In either case, the ultimate origin is Teutonic, and in either case the value of the institution to the world at large is the value given to it by Englishmen.

The conquest brought into English history two new factors which had most decided influence upon the future. First, in the place of a weak king, personally weak and almost overshadowed by one or two great noble families, who threatened to bring about some of the results of continental feudalism, it put a strong king, strong by the fact of conquest and strong in character. This meant absolutism in the actual conduct of affairs, but for the fundamental institutions of England it meant very little. The body of the Saxon laws remained in force by the choice and will of the king. It was a century before the centralization which began with the conquest affected in any marked degree local institutions, particularly the shire courts.

In the second place, the conquest introduced the feu-dal system into England ; it was not, however, the feudal system of France. It was introduced by a strong king, not because he thought it the best form of government it is evident from the precautions he took that he did not think that but because it furnished the only method of military and financial administration with which he was familiar, and, though he made use of it he carefully guarded against its most dangerous abuses, by making those modifications in it which have been specified in Chapter VIII. As a consequence not only was there in England no great baron occupying such a position as the duke of Normandy, or the duke of Aquitaine, or even the count of Anjou occupied in France, but also the fact which gave the feudal system its strong hold upon society on the continent the fact that it took the place of an inefficient national government and exercised its functions never existed in England, and the consequences which this fact produced in France and Germany never appeared there. Only for a brief time, under a weak and insecure king, Stephen, did the feudal lords usurp powers of the general government, coining money and taking possession of the courts, and give the English a short experience of conditions familiar to their neighbors on the mainland.

Another result of the introduction of the feudal system was to create a more definitely organized body of nobles than had existed before, no one of whom perhaps equalled in power the Godwin family of Edward the Confessor's time, but who were, as a body, stronger than the body of Saxon nobles. For the moment this fact had no results. The barons had first to learn a lesson foreign to their class anywhere else in the world of that time, the lesson of combination with one another and with the middle class, be-fore they could begin to stand successfully against the superior might of the king. This is a fact of great significance in relation to the different roads taken by French and English history. The French baron was so placed that he could hope to secure independence, and naturally this was the object which he sought. This led him into opposition not merely to the government but also to others of his own order who were in some sense his rivals, and consequently combinations among the barons against the king are less common in French history, and when they occur have more of a personal and less of a public character. The English baron, however, having no hope of establishing by himself an independent principality, learned to seek the aid of others against the power of the king, and as he was successful, went on gradually, not to independence, but to an increasing share in the general government of the state, the form which a reduction of the royal power necessarily took in England.

This was a lesson, however, which was only slowly learned. Not until a hundred and fifty years had elapsed from the date of the conquest was the formation of the English constitution really taken in hand. The Norman and the first Angevin kings were to all intents absolute monarchs. Such forms of a more popular government as continued to be observed furnished no real check upon their action. Taxation was practically at their will. There was no legislative assembly which survived aside from their feudal court, and there was no legislation except their own. Lawyers trained in the Roman law did not hesitate to declare, here as on the continent, that the will of the prince was valid law. Slight signs of resistance had not been wanting, among the barons of resistance to the king's absolute power over them, among the people on account of oppressive extortion of money, as under Richard I. But these were isolated cases and led to no definite results. The history of organized and self-conscious opposition to the king, embodying its results in constitutional documents to which clear appeal could be made against the sovereign, and whose enforcement marked out a consistent policy from generation to generation the history, in other words, of the formation of the constitutional monarchy, opened in the reign of king John, and recorded the results of the first victory in the Magna Charta.

It was in all probability nothing more than the selfish wish of the barons to protect themselves against the abuse of power by the king, and to gain as much for themselves as they could, which influenced them in their rebellion against John. They did not have it would not have been possible for them to have had any such motive before them as was before the leaders of the resistance to the Stuarts in the seventeenth century, nor is it likely that they were led by any hereditary influence from the spirit or practice of liberty of earlier generations. So far as spirit and wish of theirs are concerned, they would have preferred the results which were sought by the barons of France and Germany, and would have used their victory to reach such ends if circumstances had not made them impossible. As it was, they found it best to include in the guarantees demanded of the king, not only the observance of their feudal rights, but also of rights affecting the people at large and more directly bearing upon popular liberty. Many of these guarantees were the formulation of old principles and practices, but the relation of the Magna Charta to the future is far more important than its relation to the past. And yet, in relation to the future, it was suggestion and germ rather than a clear conception even of important institutions then beginning to form.

According to the prevalent interpretation, five fundamental principles of present Anglo-Saxon liberty are contained in the Magna Charta. These are, the right to trial by jury, the principle of the Habeas Corpus, the illegality of taxes not consented to by the nation's representative fixed places of meeting for the courts of common pleas, and the principle, to put it in the words of its latest and somewhat more general formulation, that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. But such an interpretation reads into the document, upon some of these points, a meaning derived from later history, and yet, in one sense, not incorrectly. In studying the Magna Charta as a historical document, it is necessary to have regard to what its provisions meant to those who drew them up. But, whatever this may have been, it does not exhaust the meaning of the Magna Charta as an influence in the growth of English liberty. It was not many generations before the progress of events macle its clauses appear to contain a meaning foreign to the minds of its contemporaries, and when this occurred, its weighty sanction was a real force in the establishment and protection of the institutions which, it was believed, had been intended. Trial by jury, in the later sense, is not in the Magna Charta. It could not well have been there, for the jury was then only just beginning to be formed, and had not yet reached an importance, or indeed a use, which would have justified its insertion in a document of this sort. The " judgment of his peers " referred to is the judgment by the community of freemen, once common to the popular courts of all the German states, and from them passing to the feudal courts everywhere. The words used in the charter, judicium parium, are not infrequent in the feudal documents of the continent. And yet the judgment of his peers " came soon to mean to every Englishman trial by jury, and the Magna Charta seemed to secure to him that right. And justly so, for the bearing of the practice which it did guarantee upon liberty is identical with that of the jury system, which took its place. So, again, in the matter of the consent to taxation. The practice, in its later form, is not referred to in the Magna Charta, either in the matter of the consent or of the taxation. The reference is again to feudal law, to the recognized right of the vassal to give his consent to any extraordinary " aid," that is, to any aid besides the three regular ones specified in the charter, before he could legally be compelled to pay it. But here again the principle is involved, and later ideas extended the Magna Charta to cover the new practice. In regard to the other three points relating to the administration of justice, the original meaning of the Magna Charta is more closely in harmony with the later ideas, though put in a more special and narrower way. In general the Magna Charta holds rightly the great place which is given it in the history of civil liberty. It gave a solemn sanction and a definite statement, to which appeal could ever afterward be made, to certain most fundamental principles of liberty, much wider in their application than its framers knew, and it gave direction toward the securing of national rights to nearly every subsequent case of insurrection against the sovereign in English history.

It is not necessary for us to follow step by step the familiar historical events which were associated with the growth of the English constitution. It will answer our purpose if we can obtain an idea of the amount of progress which had been made by the close of the middle ages in the work of transforming the monarchy of William the Conqueror into the republic of to-day, and of the institutional forms in which the results had been embodied.

The English constitution at the close of the middle ages, as at the present time, comprised two distinct kinds of institutions, each essential in its way to the general result. First were institutions of a negative character, intended to protect the individual from the arbitrary dis pleasure of the executive. Such were the jury, the principle of the Habeas Corpus, and the statutory definitions of treason. The second were institutions which may be called positive in character, whose object was to give to the representatives of the nation some power to check the public actions of the king and some share in the operations of the government. Examples of these are, impeachment and the principle that the consent of the House of Commons is necessary to the validity of a statute. National consent to taxation is a matter that lies midway between the two and partakes of the nature of both. Demanded at first as a protection of the individual against the executive, and always serving that end, it became also the most effective means of securing to the nation a share in the control of public affairs. Certainly civil liberty could not exist at all without the institutions of the first class, as a little study of contemporary Russia will make clear, nor could any great progress be made toward a republican constitution without those of the second.

As occupying a midway position between the two kinds of institutions mentioned above, the right of self-taxation is first to be considered. The most obstinate and long-continued struggle, also, of this period of English history was over this right, and Englishmen in all parts of the world have always considered it the most fundamental principle of their constitution. If the executive can provide a large enough revenue to meet his needs, independently of the nation, he is independent in everything else, and can do what he pleases. This struggle, when looked at as a whole, may have the appearance of a succession of special cases rather than of the following of a definite purpose, but the cases are as fundamental in the current of historical events as the principle is in the constitution, and both sides saw what was involved clearly enough to make the contest obstinate and protracted.

At the time of the Magna Charta, taxation had just entered the transition period between the feudal methods of aids and tallages, and the more regular methods of modern times. Into the history of this transition we cannot enter, the essential fact is that the principle of consent was an extension to a more general tax of the feudal principle, that the consent of the vassal must be obtained to an extraordinary aid. The feudal relation was a contract with definite specifications. Neither party to the contract had any right to enlarge these specifications to his advantage without the consent of the other, and the point was carefully guarded wherever possible in a matter of such importance in feudal days as the payment of money. When national taxation began to be possible, toward the close of the feudal age, its introduction was rendered easier by the application to it of this feudal principle ; indeed that was the only natural thing to do, and such an application of it was by no means peculiar to England. That which was peculiar to England was that it became the great weapon in the hands of the people to force the sovereign to grant almost everything else.

It was the financial necessities of John's son, Henry III., which forced him to submit to the plan of government embodied by the barons in the Provisions of Oxford, in 1258. This was a plan for the conduct of affairs by committees of Parliament, which was a peculiar fore-shadowing of the present English system, but which was fortunately premature; fortunately because no middle class of large political influence had at that time been formed, and government by committees of Parliament, if successfully established, would have ended in a narrow oligarchy. The attempt of the king to free himself from this control led to the famous struggle with Simon de Montfort, and to the Parliament of 1265, in which representatives from the boroughs made their appearance for the first time with the knights of the shire, who had be-gun to represent the counties in Parliament in the reign of John. The military victory of the king over the barons was complete, but it was followed by a formal recognition on his part of those points among their demands which were consistent with the stage of constitutional growth then reached.

Thirty years later there was another contest between the king, now Edward I., and the barons, certainly as factious on the part of the latter as any in the series, but involving the question of taxation, and closed by a new and full agreement by the king to observe the provisions of the great charter. This agreement was now so explicitly made by the king, there had been so many precedents established of taxation by expressed consent that the principle may be said to be finally accepted by the close of the reign of Edward I., that only those taxes were legal which had been granted by the nation. Hereafter the sovereign might attempt to escape from the limitation placed upon him by some form of evasion, but when brought face to face with the question he necessarily admitted the principle.

Hardly had this point been gained when Parliament advanced another step, almost as important, in the historical sequence. In 1309 they voted a tax for the benefit of King Edward II., on the condition that certain abuses, which they specified, should be reformed, and the king was obliged to consent. This precedent was not followed for a generation, but the long war with France, which began about 1340, made the sovereign more dependent than ever upon the grants of Parliament and the practice of attaching conditions to votes of money began in earnest.' Edward III. was compelled to acknowledge the illegality of various forms of taxation by which the principle of consent had been evaded, or for which, in earlier times, it had not been necessary. Under Richard II. the Parliament began to ask how the money granted had been used, and to specify the purposes to which it should be applied. Henry IV., the first Lancastrian, held the throne by a Parliamentary title, and he allowed, if he did not always definitely recognize, the right of Parliament to attach conditions to votes of taxes, to require the redress of abuses before the taxes were voted, to direct the use to be made of the money, and to require an account of it, and these points were still further secured before the end of the century. With the definite establishment of these rights the control of Parliament over taxation was complete. It was not yet complete beyond the possibility of question or evasion. It had still to pass through the Stuart period before that point was reached. But in the legal recognition of all the principles involved it was complete before the accession of the House of Tudor.

The French possessions of the English were of great assistance to the growth of liberty from the fact that they involved the sovereigns in affairs on the continent which seemed to them of as great, and some-times of greater, importance than those of their English kingdom, while the nation, and even the great barons of Norman origin, had but little interest in them. The baron was ready to refuse all aid to the king unless satisfied upon the point especially near to him, his rights at home ; the king was ready to compromise on the demands of the barons if he could get their help in France. The French possessions were lost when they could no longer be of use in domestic politics, and when the growth of international rivalries would have made a continental position of great disadvantage to the cause of the English people.

The increasing power of Parliament over taxation is only one form of its increasing power in the general government of the country, and leads us directly to a consideration of the share of the nation in the control of public affairs at the beginning of modern history. The primary fact in this direction, upon which nearly all the rest was founded, was the composition of the House of Commons. This was determined by a fact which distinguishes the England of the later middle ages from all other European countries the existence of a land-owning middle class, of a class the great majority of whom would have ranked with the nobles in any continental state, and would have insisted upon their rank and privileges with especial strictness, but who, in England, found themselves more nearly allied in interests and desires with the Third Estate than with the great barons. This union was due to a variety of causes, prominent among which was the county organization, in which it had long existed.' It was the county organization, also, which suggested the principle and the method of representation, the representation first of the counties by the knights of the shire, in the reign of John, and then of the boroughs in 1265. The composition of Parliament was finally fixed by the " model Parliament " of 1295, in which the representatives of the towns appeared, constitutionally summoned now by the king, not by a revolutionary leader. The great result which followed from the union of the knights with the burgesses was that no Third Estate existed in England in the same sense as in the other countries of the time. The House of Commons represented not a class but the nation. This was increasingly the case as time went on. It was rendered easier and more complete by the fact, peculiar also to England, that all the members of a noble family, except the one actually holding the title, were in law commoners, and by the fact that the clergy as a body withdrew from Parliament, some members of the order only attending the House of Lords in their capacity as barons. The alliance of the English nobility with the Commons in the straggle for liberty was determined not merely by the fact that the barons were so placed that they needed allies against the king, but also by the fact that the English Commons was a far more influential and powerful body than any contemporary Third Estate.

As Parliament increased its power it meant, step by step, the increased weight and authority of the House of Commons. That process, which is so marked a feature of English history in modern times, by which the House of Commons has gradually drawn into its hands the whole government of the country, begins within less than a century after the model Parliament, almost immediately, in fact, after the definite separation of the lower house as a distinct body, and it was clearly on the road to completion before the events of the Tudor and Stuart reigns interrupted the regular development for a time.

By a series of precedents, beginning in the reign of Edward III., the Commons had secured the recognition of the principle that their consent was necessary to the validity of a law, and that no changes should be made in the wording of a law after its adoption by them. Beginning from the same time, they had established their right to inquire into abuses in the administration of the public business, and to hold the king's ministers to trial and punishment for their misconduct, by an impeachment conducted by themselves. The great principle necessarily involved in this, that, since the king can do no wrong, all misconduct in the administration must be due to his ministers, who can be brought to account and punished without civil war or revolution, was not put into any explicit shape, as a recognized constitutional doctrine, until the latter part of the Stuart period ; but the foundation for it was laid in the reign of Richard II. Finally, it was a very important precedent which was made by Parliament, though without any very definite idea of its meaning, in the deposition of Edward II., in 1327. By the deposition of Richard II.., in 1399, this precedent was made stronger, and the fundamental principle, by which alone a revolution of the sort can be justified, was made more evident. For the thing which made the nation turn against Richard II. was not the wrongs which Henry of Lancaster had suffered, but the king's violent disregard of their constitutional liberties. The principle that the king must govern according to the laws, was already fixed before the War of the Roses began.

The age of the Tudors, which followed, was, however, a time of great danger for popular government. The near remembrance of a long civil war, the weakening of the old nobility, the accession of a brilliant king with popular graces and a strong will, a revolution in one department of the public life, the church, which tended to increase the royal power, all things combined to make the danger serious that England would be turned into the path which the continental states were following, and the king become absolute. Had Henry VIII. really cared for such a result, it is difficult to say what the outcome would have been. But the Parliamentary title of their house to the throne, together with the long experience of the kings in being held to the law, was probably more decisive than indifference or absorption in something else in keeping the Tudors in the main faithful to the forms of law, notwithstanding their practical despotism. When another family succeeded to the throne, with less hold upon the nation, the complementary principle was made a part of the constitution, though not without a strong party against it, that, if the king will not obey the law, the penalty is the loss of the throne. The sovereign has never since denied that he holds his place by the will of the people. The revolutions of the seventeenth century had for their result, indeed, but little if anything more than to render explicit, and beyond the possibility of further dispute, the points already established in principle before the ac-cession of the Tudors. The growth of the English constitution in the two hundred years since 1688 seems rapid and large as compared with the four centuries from William I. to Henry VII. ; but in reality, except in one point, the growth of democracy, the progress of the past two centuries has consisted in devising machinery for applying the principles gained by 1485 and finally fixed by the failure of the Stuarts to overthrow them, to more and more of the details of the government, as in the formation of the cabinet, for example, and in the control by the ministry of the nation's foreign policy.

For the protection of the individual the institution which was most nearly in its present form at the close of the middle ages was the jury, though the especially famous cases of its use against the executive were still to occur. The primitive institution, out of which the jury grew, was brought into England by the Normans, who had themselves derived it from the Franks. In its early form the jury was a body of men chosen from among those who were supposed to have a personal knowledge of the matter, to whom was submitted, under oath, the question as to the facts in any case which might arise in administrative or executive matters, the assessment of taxes, for example, or of fines, as in clause twenty of the Magna Charta. This practice came into especial use in the king's courts, as distinguished from the county courts, for the settlement of disputes concerning the ownership of lands, and was recognized in the laws under Henry II. From this time the development of the institution was rapid, more slow in criminal than in civil cases, and the jury gradually advanced from depending upon their own knowledge of the facts concerned to taking into account evidence submitted to them. The jury system secures two points which are of great value for individual liberty. The first is the right of the citizens themselves to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused, in view, if the case seems to demand it, of general considerations rather than of the special evidence.1 This is a right of the utmost importance in the trial of political offenders, on charges either of technical violation of existing laws or of constructive or pretended offences. The second is the fact that, by the use of the jury, the judge occupies a position of impartiality in a criminal trial, as, in a sort, an umpire between the parties, and is not directly interested in ascertaining the facts, as in the French criminal practice, for instance, where the judge is almost a legalized inquisitor, and the accused is subjected to a judicial examination, which, however carefully it may be guarded, seems to the Anglo-Saxon mind a serious evil. Neither of these points was clearly fixed in the English practice at the close of the middle ages. The beginning had been made in the definite organization of the jury system, of which these were to be the necessary conclusions, but it was reserved for later times to draw them clearly. In fact, the independence of the judge, from executive interference, as well as his independence in the process of trial, was the most important element of Anglo-Saxon liberty not distinctly foreshadowed in the medieval times.

Other rights of individual liberty, secured by 1485, cannot be better stated than in the words of Hallam, at the beginning of his Constitutional History. He says : " No man could be committed to prison but by a legal warrant specifying his offence ; and by a usage nearly tantamount to constitutional right, he must be speedily brought to trial by means of regular sessions of gaol-delivery. The fact of guilt or innocence, on a criminal charge, was determined in a public court, and in the county where the offence was alleged to have occurred, by a jury of twelve men, from whose unanimous verdict no appeal could be made. Civil rights, so far as they depended on questions of fact, were subject to the saine decision. The officers and servants of the crown, violating the personal liberty or other right of the subject, might be sued in an action for damages to be assessed by a jury, or, in some cases, were liable to criminal process ; nor could they plead any warrant or command in their justification, nor even the direct order of the king."

To this should be added the fact that by a law of Edward III., in 1352, the judicial punishment of treason had been limited to certain definitely specified cases, a safeguard for the individual of as great importance against a democracy as against a monarchy. The English law has not greatly improved upon this ancient statute, but the American has gone much further in the same direction in the clause of the Constitution on the subject which marks out very strict limitations both of definition and of trial.

England was by no means a republic at the close of the fifteenth century. Much liad yet to be done before that end was reached, but the work of converting it into a republic was well under way, and, as compared with any of the other states of the time, of equal size or promise, it entirely justifies the remark of Philip de Comines, cited in the last chapter,1 or the words of Sir John Fortescue, written under Henry VI., and so often quoted : " A king of England cannot, at his pleasure, make any alterations in the laws of the land. . . . He is appointed to protect his subjects in their lives, properties, and laws ; for this very end and purpose he has the delegation of power from the people, and he has no just claim to any other power but this."'

With the close of the Hohenstaufen period in German history the power of the central government had almost totally disappeared, and the complete sovereignty and independence of the feudal subdivisions of the state was practically established if not legally recognized. The period of twenty years which followed, known as the Great Interregnum, during which there was only the merest shadow of a general government the nominal sovereignty in the hands of foreigners, who, if they visited Germany at all, did so only for parade, and every local ruler laying his hands upon what he pleased that was within his reach completed the process of dissolution, if it needed completion.

The policy which the electors definitely adopted, and continued in operation through the age which follows the Interregnum, is equivalent to an official declaration that this dissolution is complete. In electing an emperor they selected, so far as possible, a candidate from a family having but scanty resources and small power of its own, and they changed from one family to another as often as circumstances would permit. Rudolf of Hapsburg, Adolf of Nassau, Henry of Luxemburg, and Lewis of Bavaria are all examples of this policy. It is manifestly the result of a united judgment on the part of the electors, almost formally expressed, that if a real national government is ever to be reconstructed, and a centralization established like that which was forming in France, it must be done by the independent family re-sources of the emperor. It could not be done, in their judgment, by the use of the sovereign rights and prerogatives which remained to the imperial office. The emperor's power as sovereign, in its actual condition, was not to be feared, the only source of danger to their position was the fact that his personal power might be great enough to lead him to try to recover the rights of government which had been lost. This policy the electors followed in general to the end of the middle ages, and they finally allowed the imperial succession to settle quietly in the Hapsburg family only when it had become manifest to all the world that it was nothing more than an empty title.

The policy which the emperors on their side adopted was an equally emphatic declaration of the same fact.

Not a single one of them, during the whole period, made any serious attempt to reconstruct the central government, but every family, without exception, that gained possession of the imperial office, attempted to make all that it could out of the opportunities of the position to enlarge its own possessions and to increase its family power. Some met with greater and others with less success; but all-- Hapsburg and Nassau, Wittelsbach and Luxemburg were governed by the same rules of conduct. It was in effect a unanimous agreement on the part of the emperors that centralization was no longer possible, that there was no use in trying to form a national government for the German people, but that the only successful use to which the imperial position could be put was to make their own local state as large and as strong as possible.

The two families most successful in this policy were those of Hapsburg and of Luxemburg. Rudolf of Hapsburg, the first emperor chosen after the Interregnum, was a count whose scanty possessions lay in west-ern Switzerland and Alsace. He was a man of vigorous character, but one in no way distinguished in power or possessions from a hundred others in the Germany of that day who remained unheard of in history. The fortunate fact that he was able to break up the threatening Slavic kingdom, which was ruled over by Ottokar II., king of Bohemia, enabled him to bestow the south German duchies, Austria and Styria, which had been Ottokar's, upon his son, and to lay the foundations of the future greatness of his house. The electors did not allow the crown to continue during the next generation in Rudolf's family, but later other Hapsburg emperors followed, and were able to continue his policy.

An equally fortunate chance occurred during the reign of the first Luxemburg emperor, Henry VII., in the opportunity presented him to marry his son John to the heiress of the Bohemian crown. John's son, the Emperor Charles IV., succeeded in gaining possession also of Brandenburg, which the Emperor Lewis IV. of Bavaria, who followed Henry VIL, had tried to secure for his family. The last emperor of the Luxemburg house, Sigismund, abandoned Brandenburg but obtained the kingdom of Hungary. He was the last of the male line of his family, however, and the great possessions which they had brought together passed with his daughter to the Hapsburgs, so that the acquisitions made by the two families who had most successfully followed this policy of getting all that they could for themselves from the imperial office were finally united in the hands of the Hapsburgs alone.

It was during the Luxemburg period that Brandenburg passed into the hands of the Hohenzollerns, who have erected modern Prussia upon it as the foundation. At the beginning of the thirteenth century the Hohenzollerns were, like the Hapsburgs, merely local counts in Switzerland, giving no promise of future greatness. Early in that century the elder line obtained the office of Burggraf of Nuremberg and an opportunity to grow rich, which was improved with the hereditary thriftiness of the family, and fortunate marriages and purchases increased their possessions and influence in southern Germany. Finally, in 1411, the Emperor Sigismund, in need of money and unable to establish a sound government in the troubled and disordered electorate of Brandenburg, gave it into the hands of Frederick of Nuremberg as pledge for a loan, and a few years later sold it to him outright. Around this as a beginning the later Hohenzollern electors and kings collected, piece by piece, the modern Prussia.

Many other small states were forming in the same way in Germany at this time, many that have not survived the political storms of modern history, and some that have continued to grow larger and stronger, or at least that have made good their place in the present federal empire of Germany. Within many of these states the course of history was very similar to that in France. A group of feudally independent territories was united under a single ruler, and by degrees the barriers which separated them were broken down and they were centralized in a common government, and in this process such elements of local liberty as had remained were destroyed and the government became an absolutism.' This process was one, however, which occurred in most cases, and the larger part of it in modern history rather than in medieval.

In Italy, as in Germany, the nation was able to form no government. In both cases, as we have seen, the Holy Roman Empire was at fault. In Italy it was a foreign power which prevented the rise of any native state to a sufficient strength to absorb the whole peninsula. To the influence of the empire must be added that of the papacy as an equally responsible cause as the one most responsible in the last centuries of the middle ages, after the empire had practically disappeared, and in modern times. The position of the pope, as sovereign of a little state in central Italy, had forced him, as a mat-ter of self-defence, to use all possible means to prevent the rise of any threatening power in Italy from the days of the Lombards down, down, indeed, to Victor Emmanuel. When such a power appeared to be forming the pope would strive to form combinations against it until its strength was reduced below the danger-point, and if in the process one of its own allies gained too much strength, new combinations were immediately set on foot against the new danger.

No government for the nation was able to be formed, but an immense variety of local governments arose, and a most intricate entanglement of interstate politics. In the south, Naples was an absolute monarchy. The States of the Church were an ecclesiastical monarchy, very loosely organized during most of the middle ages, but brought into order and centralized by the political genius of Julius IT. at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Florence presents us an interesting case. Originally a republic, with a tendency toward democracy, it passed under the power of a family of rich bankers, the Medici, who, without holding any office and without destroying the forms of the republic, filled all the offices with their nominees and determined every public act exactly as does an American " boss " when his party is in power.' In the sixteenth century the state became an avowed monarchy under the Medici as grand dukes. Milan was a republic turned into a monarchy by military force, and Venice a republic which had become a very close oligarchy.

But if a national government was not formed, a national consciousness was, as in Germany, and it was given clear expression now and then. Its most remarkable product was Machiavelli's Prince, written, beyond a reasonable doubt, to show how, in the evil circumstances then existing, a national government might be created.

The rapid rise of Spain to a position of first rank among the nations was one of the most important political facts of the close of the middle ages. This was due to two causes : to the union of the two largest kingdoms of the peninsula by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, and to the political skill of Ferdinand. Disunion between the various provinces, feudal anarchy, local independence, and a weak central government were the characteristics of Spain when he began to reign. Within a few years order was secured, the baronage reduced to obedience, the process of breaking down the securities of local independence and the old institutions of liberty well begun, the monarchy made practically an absolutism, if not in every respect legally so as yet, and, although the old provincial lines and provincial jealousies could not be entirely obliterated, they were thrown into the background by the coming up of new and more national interests. It was chance rather than skill which added America to the resources of the Spanish monarchy, but it formed no inconsiderable element in the rapid rise of the new state. In all else, the internal consolidation, the conquest of Granada and Navarre, the footing gained in Italy, the judgment in regard to the policy of France, and the allies which were secured, the political skill of Ferdinand must be admitted, however disastrous his policy was to prove in other hands and in conditions which no genius could forecast.

Ferdinand was, of all the sovereigns of his day, the one who saw most clearly that, in political affairs, the middle ages had passed away and a new age begun. He could hardly have stated his opinion in these words, but he realized that the settlement of the domestic problems which he had so well in hand left the state at liberty to secure advantages for itself in Europe at large, and that the near rivalry of other European states for these ad-vantages made it the part of wisdom to be beforehand with them, and to get a footing and allies wherever possible. The first links in the chain of modern international politics were forged by Ferdinand. It was the settlement of these domestic problems in all the states, or their settlement to such an extent that they were no longer the most pressing necessities of the moment, which brings the middle ages to an end politically, and leads to the beginning of that most characteristic feature of modern history--diplomacy.

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