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Medieval Civilization:
 Medieval Civilization

 What The Middle Ages Started With

 Addition Of Christianity

 German Conquest And The Fall Of Rome

 What The Germans Added

 Formation Of The Papacy

 The Franks And Charlemagne

 After Charlemagne

 Feudal System

 The Empire And The Papacy

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The Franks And Charlemagne

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

IN the account of the German conquest which was given in the fourth chapter the history of one tribe —the Franks, was entirely omitted. The results of their occupation of Gaul were so important, the empire which they founded, their alliance with the church, their legal notions and political institutions were all of such decisive influence upon the future that their history deserves a separate treatment. The ideas and practices of the Visigoths and of the Lombards had important results in the national history of the lands where they settled. It would be necessary to investigate Visigothic law in order to understand the details of Spanish institutional life. The Anglo-Saxons will doubtless exert upon the final history of the world an influence greater than that of the Franks, if it be not already greater. But it was the Franks alone of all the German tribes who became a wide power in the general history of the middle ages. It is to them that the political inheritance of the Roman empire passed, to them came the honor of taking up and carrying on, roughly, to be sure, and far less extensively and effectively, but nevertheless of actually carrying on the political work which Rome had been doing. They alone represent that unity which Rome had established, and so far as that unity was maintained at all as a definite fact, it is the Franks who maintained it. Its influence was undoubtedly wider than theirs, as felt through the church for example, and yet, without the strong reinforcement which the empire of the Franks brought to that idea of unity, it would in all probability have disappeared as a separate political force before the need for it had passed away.'

Originally a very loose confederation it is doubtful even if they were so much as a confederation of small tribes or families in the middle and lower Rhine valley, some of them in alliance with Rome and on Roman territory, the Franks hardly attracted even a passing notice from either statesman or historian during the time when the great tribes of the East Germans were in motion. It is only at the end of the fifth century that their career really begins, and then, as so often in similar cases, it is the genius of one man, a great leader, which creates the nation. Rising out of an obscurity which is hardly lightened by the abundant mythology which afterward collected about him, head of one of the little family groups into which the Franks were divided, a " county king," Clovis Hlodwig, the first Louis the Grand appears as one of the great creative spirits who give a new direction to the currents of history. The main traits of his character and work stand out clearly enough despite the legendary embellishments which have naturally been added. Like very many others of his kind, utterly without a conscience, hesitating at no means for the accomplishment of his purpose, he brought about, by a succession of treasons and murders, the consolidation of the whole Frankish stock under his personal rule. But even before this process of consolidation was undertaken, he had begun to extend rapidly the territory occupied by the Franks. Syagrius, the son of a former Roman governor, had gathered into his hands the remains of the Roman power north of the Loire, and ruled a considerable territory there which, in the general breaking up of things, had fallen to no one else, nominally under the emperor, really as a little in-dependent kingdom. This power Clovis overcame in the first great battle of his history, A.D. 486, and brought under the Frankish dominion.

With the territory occupied by the Franks, and that which was gradually added as a result of this victory, Clovis possessed the larger part of northeastern Gaul. To the south of him lay the two German kingdoms of the Burgundians and the Visigoths. With the power which he had gained in the north he turned against them. The Burgundians were first attacked, and, though their kingdom was not incorporated in that of the Franks during Clovis's life, it was made tributary and compelled to aid the further extension of his power. A few years later the Visigoths were defeated and retired to Spain, leaving the lands south of the Loire to Clovis, except a small portion in the southeast which Theodoric the Ostrogoth, Clovis's more powerful contemporary, forced him to abandon.

Clovis had thus made subject to himself nearly the whole of Roman Gaul, and that, too, with a body of Franks originally very small perhaps not more than three thousand men and though later reinforced, still never very large ; certainly the Romanized provincials were in a very large majority, especially south of the Loire. It might seem inevitable that the Teutonic institutions, represented by so small a proportion of the population, would be overwhelmed and disappear. It was in reality, however, to be the lot of the Franks, unconsciously and by the force of circumstances, to do that work for the future which Theodoric had, with clearer vision, seen to be necessary--the uniting of German and Roman into a common whole. But if this was to be done, it was vitally necessary that the Teutonic side of the new kingdom should be kept strong enough to survive the danger of Romanization to which it was exposed.

This was secured as a result of two very important points in which the Frankish conquest differed from that made by any other German people. In the first place, their conquest was not a migration. Instead of cutting themselves off completely from their original homes, and settling themselves in the midst of a much more numerous Roman population, with only scanty and accidental reinforcements of new German blood, as did the others, they retained permanently their original German land, and the parts of northeastern Gaul where the Roman population seems to have disappeared or become very small. They simply spread themselves out from their original lands, retaining these permanently as a constant source of fresh German life, a Teutonic makeweight to the Roman provinces occupied.

It was of equal importance, in the second place, that step by step as their conquests spread over Roman lands, they extended also, in the opposite direction, into Germany and brought in peoples who had not been permanently affected by Roman influence. These German conquests Clovis began by his incorporation of the Alemanni and of the eastern Franks, and they were still farther extended by his successors. The pure, or nearly pure, Roman lands of the west were kept in balance, in their influence on the new state, by the pure German lands of the east.

These facts were of great importance in more ways than one. Not merely was it essential to the formation of the civilization of the future, that German and Roman elements should both be preserved, and brought together in such a way that they should unite on equal terms in a new common whole, but also, if a permanent civilization was to be constructed for the future on the foundation of the Frankish kingdom, it was absolutely necessary that the invasions should cease. So long as every new at-tempt to reconstruct order and settled government was liable to be defeated by a new invasion, and chaos likely to be introduced again, no steps could be taken toward the future. This danger could be removed only by the incorporation of Germany the source of the invasions in the new common life which was forming, and by the creation of a political and military power strong enough to be safe from outside attack.

The incorporation of Germany was not finished until the days of Charlemagne, but it was, long before that, complete enough to secure the Frankish state against such an attack as that by which it had itself overthrown the kingdoms of the Burgundians and the Alemanni, and it also very early became strong enough not to fear the danger before which Vandal and Ostrogoth had gone down, and on the field of Tours it was able to turn back the invader who had destroyed the Visigothic state.

It was this great political and military power which the Franks built up that gave them the opportunity to do the work which every other German tribe failed to accomplish. It was because they kept constantly open the sources of Teutonic life and vigor that they were able to use the opportunity to great results.

A third step of great importance, in this process of union, was also taken by Clovis. One institution, produced in the ancient world before the Germans entered it, had continued with vigorous life and wide influence, indeed, with slowly increasing power, through all the changes of this chaotic period. It was to be in the future a still greater power and to exert an influence even wider and more permanent than that of the Franks. It was also one of the most important channels through which the ancient civilization passed over into the new. This was the Roman church. It was to be the great ecclesiastical power of the future. It was, therefore, a most essential question whether the Franks, who were to grow on their side into the great political power of the future, should do so in alliance with this other power or in opposition to it.

The other Germans who entered the empire, except the Saxons, were Christians, but they had been converted to that form of Christianity which is known as Arian-ism. This was a Unitarian belief which had grown up in the East at the beginning of the fourth century, and which continued a cause of theological strife for two or three hundred years. Whatever may be one's personal belief upon the theological point, the fact which condemns Western Arianism in the sight of history, and makes its fate deserved, is that, at a time when there was the utmost need that the shattered fragments of the empire should be held together in some way, and when disorganization was most dangerous, it stood for separation and local independence, and furnished no strong bond of unity on the religious side, as did the Catholic faith, to replace that political unity which was falling to pieces. Burgundian and Visigoth, Vandal and Ostrogoth and Lombard, had no common religious organization and recognized no primacy in the Bishop of Rome, and though they tolerated the catholicism of their Roman subjects, and did not break off the connection of these with the Roman church, that result would certainly have followed had they grown into strong and permanent states, still Arian in faith. The continued life of these nations would have meant not merely the political, but also the religious, disintegration of Europe. The unity of the future, in a Christian commonwealth of nations, was at stake in the triumph of the Roman church and the Frankish empire.

This question Clovis settled, not long after the beginning of his career, by his conversion to Catholic Christianity. That he ever became a real Christian seems as unlikely as that Constantine did, and the two cases are in many ways parallel. That political considerations moved him we can only guess, but they seem obvious, and there is little doubt but that his further conquests in Gaul were aided by the fact that the Franks were of the same faith as the Roman provincials, while the Goths and Burgundians whom he attacked were Arians. That he could have had any conception of the more remote consequences of his act, is impossible ; but, as we have seen, these were the most important of its results. That the Frankish empire could have been formed without this alliance is probable. It is possible, also, that a common church organization could have been created for all its parts, but it would have been impossible for such a church to have done the work as important outside the Frankish bounds as within which the Catholic Church accomplished.

In these three ways, therefore, the work of Clovis was of creative influence upon the future. He brought together the Roman and the German upon equal terms, each preserving the sources of his strength, to form a new civilization. He founded a political power which was to unite nearly all the continent in itself, and to bring the period of the invasions to an end. He established a close alliance between the two great controlling forces of the future, the two empires which continued the unity which Rome had created, the political empire and the ecclesiastical.

It may seem from one point of view more strange that Roman institutions were preserved at all in this Frankish kingdom, than that they threatened to supersede the German. The Frankish occupation of Gaul was a conquest. It seems to have been more distinctly a conquest than most of the other German migrations a definite change of government and so presumptively of institutions.

It must be remembered, however, that government was in an incomplete stage of development among these Germans ; if well advanced in some directions it was entirely wanting in others. In the simpler life and small land of their earlier history few difficult problems had presented themselves, and these had been met by simple means. Now, however, with the necessity of ruling a wide land and a large population of diverse race, of settling complicated legal questions, and of providing a larger revenue, there was a demand suddenly put upon the German state for an enlargement of its institutional life which no rapidity of development could possibly meet. The result was natural. Wherever in their earlier public life the Germans had developed institutions capable of application to the new conditions, these were continued in the new states, and became German elements in the final institutional product. An extremely important ex-ample of this is the system of public courts. Wherever the new demand was of a sort which could not be met by anything which they already possessed, it was the simplest, and easiest, indeed the only possible thing to do, to continue in operation the Roman machinery which they found existing. So the administrative system, taxation, legal and extra legal customs in the renting of lands, remained Roman. These are but single examples on either side. The number might be largely increased, and will be, in some cases of detail, as we proceed.

One peculiar idea of the Germans must also be taken account of here, as of influence in preserving Roman practices, that idea which is known, somewhat technically, as the "personality of the law." The German was supposed to preserve of right his native tribal law under whatever government he might live. Alemanni, Burgundians, and Lombards, brought into the Frankish kingdom and subject to its king, kept their old law and did not come under the Frankish. New taws concerning public affairs might be made, and be in force in all the subject lands, but in private law, in matters between man and man, the old tribal customary law was still their law. This principle was applied also to the Romans. The Roman law continued to be the law of the Roman subjects of these German states, at least for a very consider-able time, and until Roman and German had melted into a new people with a new customary law. More than one of these German states, indeed, issued manuals or summaries of the Roman law for the use of their subjects, as they had done of their own German law.

Under other heads, as in the last chapter and in the chapter on feudalism, are to be seen some further preservative forces of great value which kept the Roman elements in use until they became organic parts of a new civilization. Those mentioned here will serve to show how it was that, even if the Franks entered as a conquering nation and consciously put a new government in place of the old, large portions of the Roman legal and institutional arrangements remained in use.

The immediate successors of Clovis continued his work. At one time, under the early Merovingians, the subject territory of the Frankish state almost if not quite touched the Adriatic. It was recognized by the other western states as the strongest of them all, and had diplomatic relations with the Roman empire in the East on something like an equal footing.

But the Merovingian race was passionate- and brutal. Its history is full of treasons and murders and crimes not to be mentioned. As a result its life was speedily exhausted, and it sank, physically and morally, with fearful rapidity, its princes dying like old men, at twenty years of age, and its power passing into other hands.

The life of its royal family was, with no very great exaggeration, the life of the race. This was also violent and savage. Crimes were frequent. The first appeal was usually to brute force. Life and property were not se-cure, and the government seemed to have small power to enforce order.' Civil war raged almost without ceasing. The subject nations became restless and by degrees more and more independent. The empire of the Franks seemed to be threatened with dissolution, and the work which Clovis had begun, with failure.

Even in the early days of the Merovingian dynasty a line of division through the national life had begun to show itself, and it ran ever deeper and deeper as time went on. This was the difference between the west—Neustria—set off into a separate kingdom in the Merovingian family divisions, and the eastern kingdom—Austrasia. In the west the Franks were few and rapidly becoming Romanized, and Roman usages prevailed. The east was thoroughly Teutonic.

There is also another difference to be noticed, fully as important as the contrast and possible hostility of these two incipient nationalities. Besides tending to make the king more powerful, as was noticed in Chapter V., the con-quest had led also, as a secondary result, to the formation of a more powerful aristocracy than had existed before, through the possession of land and office of greater and more permanent sources of wealth. This new nobility began at once to attack the royal power, and to strive for independence. In the western kingdom, as a result of the Roman influence the analogy and the continued institutions of a highly centralized government the royal power was strong. In the east, where German ideas were prevalent, the strength of the nobility grew more rapidly.

Out of these two sources of contention grew the continual civil strifes of this period. They seem at first sight as meaningless for history as the battles of the stone age. But taken together with the decay of the Merovingian house, they gave an opportunity for the family of nobles, who were destined to restore the royal power and to reconstruct the Frankish kingdom, to rise into a position of controlling influence.

This family had its house possessions in Austrasia. In that kingdom, in the reign of Dagobert I., the last of the strong Merovingian kings, there were two powerful nobles, intrusted with positions of great importance by the king, Pippin of Landen, and Arnulf, Bishop of Metz. After the death of Dagobert, the son of Pippin made a premature attempt to seize the crown, and perished with his son, and the male line of Pippin came to an end. But the marriage of his daughter with the son of Arnulf united the possessions and power of the two families, and the son of this marriage, Pippin of Heristal, soon won a commanding position in the state, though not without severe struggles. The Merovingians still retained the crown as kings in name, but the real control of affairs passed into the hands of Pippin and of his descendants, the Mayors of the Palace.

The battle of Testry, fought in 687, is the turning-point of this part of Frankish history. In it Austrasia triumphed over Neustria, and the organized nobles under Pippin over the tendency toward a centralized government. It meant that the Teutonic elements were still to retain the direction of affairs in the reunited kingdom, and that the Romanizing influences, which bade fair to split the Frankish nation into two parts, were to be held back for some generations yet. The western half of the land was to be brought into connection once more with the sources of Teutonic life, and under the rule of a thorough German family.

This battle was in form a triumph of the aristocracy over the royal power. It was as a representative of the nobles, and by their aid, that the new house, the Carolingian, had secured its power. But the nobles speedily found that they had only succeeded in putting a strong and determined master in the place of a powerless one. The stand-point of the Carolingian princes was changed at once, as soon as they were in a position to rule in the name of the Merovingian king.

The task before them was by no means an easy one. Not merely had the nobles grown strong in the state, but the confusion of the last part of the Merovingian period had enabled many of them to assume a position virtually independent of all government control. These were the days of the earliest stage of feudalism, and the political disorder one of its chief causes allowed in some cases an almost complete feudal isolation. A considerable part of the work which Pippin of Heristal, and his son Charles Martel, had to do was to break the power of these local " tyrants," as Einhard calls them in his " Life of Charlemagne," and so to make the royal power more real.

But also the outlying provinces, especially where these represented a nationality once independent, were in very doubtful obedience. Aquitania, Alemannia, Thuringia, and Bavaria had taken advantage of the dissensions among the Franks to resume a more or less complete in-dependence under dukes of their own race. The empire which the early Merovingians had brought together threatened to fall to pieces. It must be reconstructed, or the Franks could have no great political future. The work of doing this was a long one. Charles Martel hardly more than began it. It continued through the reign of his son, Pippin the Short, and on to the beginning of the reign of Charlemagne.

Still another great task fell to the early Carolingians. The German north Frisians and Saxons was a ceaseless source of danger. These peoples were continually attacking the borders, striving to force their way into the south, the last wave of the invasions from Germany proper. Charles Martel and Pippin maintained a vigorous defence, but they could establish no permanent con-quests. The Christian missionaries, mostly Anglo-Saxons, who attempted to convert them, met with no better success, and it proved the great labor of Charlemagne's life to incorporate them with the Roma a and Christian world.

One decisive victory, gained by Charles Martel, reflected great glory on his family and helped to secure its position. The Arab invasion, which had entered Europe through Spain, in 711, had not been held back by the Pyrenees. The Duke of Aquitania was not strong enough alone to resist them, and, in 732, an army of them had reached the neighborhood of the Loire, a thousand miles north of Gibraltar. There, in the battle of Tours or Poitiers, the infantry of the Franks withstood the at-tacks of the Arab horse, and turned back their invasion. There were still other attacks of theirs to be met in the south, and they held some parts of Septimania and the Rhone valley for many years, but they were never again able to penetrate so far into the country, and the danger that Europe would be overrun by Mohammedanism, as Asia and Africa had been, was past, so far at least as concerns the attack from the west.

The time of Charles Martel, and of Pippin, as Mayor of the Palace, was a time of reconstruction for the Frankish state. The power of the central government was re-established. The nobles were brought into obedience, and the elements of dissolution held in check. The subject nationalities were compelled to give up the independence which they were resuming, and to acknowledge the supremacy of the Franks once more. The church, which had suffered with the rest of the state, and almost fallen apart, was made to feel the effects of the change also. The life and morals of the clergy were reformed. The councils, its legislative machinery, were used to serve public ends, and the vast estates of land, which it had gathered into its hands, were made to contribute to the support of the army. Pippin called Boniface, the great Anglo-Saxon missionary among the Germans, to his aid in the work of reconstruction, and, although the strong Carolingian princes never gave up their direct control of the church, the result was to give the papacy a greater influence in the Frankish church than it had had before.

Now follows a series of events which opens a new and greater epoch in Frankish history.

The kingdom of the Lombards in Italy, though quiet for long intervals, was never wholly satisfied with its in-complete occupation of that country. As soon as an ambitious king ascended the throne, and had his some-what unruly people in hand, he was very apt to begin to push for further territory. This was a constant menace to the papacy, and to the independence of the little state of which it had come to be practically the sovereign. It was not strong enough to insure its own safety, though it had defended itself with great skill. Its natural protector would have been the emperor at Constantinople, still nominal sovereign of Rome and other parts of Italy. But Constantinople was far away, and the emperor had many more immediate interests which demanded his attention. Besides this, the points of dispute between the Eastern church and the Roman, upon the worship of images and other topics, which were one day to make a complete and hostile separation between them, had al-ready begun to appear and to create ill-feeling. The appeal which the popes made for protection brought them no help, and they had only one resource left. This was to the restored Frankish kingdom, the strongest political power of the West.

Gregory II. and Gregory III. both appealed to Charles Martel to come to their assistance, and the latter sent to him the keys of St. Peter's tomb. But Charles did not comply. It is probable that he had still too serious work at home, and that so long as the position of the Arabs in the south was threatening, and plans of further invasion on their part not improbable, he could not afford to engage in hostilities with the Lombards.

But Pippin felt himself in a more secure position. There was also, on his side, a strong reason for a close alliance with the papacy. The plan which the son of the first Pippin had attempted to carry out, before the hold of his family on the state was secure enough to war-rant it, could now be taken up again. The Franks had been accustomed, for more than sixty years, to see the Merovingian kings excluded from all real government, and all the duties of the royal office performed by the Carolingian princes. Almost all the nobles were now also the vassals of Pippin, and the leaders of the church would support him. To set aside the Merovingian family, and put the Carolingian on the throne, would seem far less revolutionary at this time than it had one hundred years earlier. Still a sort of religious feeling might attach itself to the old royal family, and Pippin needed all the support which he could get. Accordingly the first move toward the alliance came from him, and an embassy to Rome, sent with the consent of the Franks, laid before the pope the question whether the condition of things was a good one where he who bore the title of king was without any real power. The answer was a satisfactory one, and with the sanction of this high religious authority, the last Merovingian king disappeared in the cloister. Pippin was elected king by the nobles and people, raised on their shields after the old German fashion, and, by a new ceremony, the bishops consecrated him king in anointing him with holy oil. This took place in the year 751.

Almost immediately after this the advance of the Lombard king became so threatening that the pope determined to go in person to beseech the new king of the Franks to come to his aid. His mission was successful. Pippin went back with him to Italy, and compelled the Lombards to abandon their conquests. Two years later another expedition was necessary, as the Lombard king was threatening Rome again. This time, in 755, Pippin bestowed on the pope a part of the exarchate of Ravenna, which he forced the Lombards to give up, and thus added territory on the Adriatic to that around Rome of which the popes had already made themselves the virtual sovereigns. The wishes of the emperor at Constantinople were not consulted in this disposition of his property, and, without any regard to his rights, the foundations of the temporal principality of the popes were securely laid.

These events were of as wide influence upon the future of the Franks as upon that of the papacy. They drew still closer that alliance with the church which had always been a characteristic of their history. They opened the way to a new conquest that of Italy of vital necessity in their consolidation of Europe ; and, still more important, they brought them into direct contact with Rome, and so made likely the awakening of imperial ambitions in their minds, and made it natural for others to associate with them those ideas of a revival of an empire in the west which had already begun to stir in Italy.1

These events bring us to the beginning of the reign of Charles the Great Charlemagne in 768. A very general opinion has ranked him among the greatest political leaders of history. A less favorable judgment, however, has not been wanting, and it will, perhaps, afford us the best point of view for a brief sketch of his reign and an understanding of his place in history, if we try to ascertain upon what grounds such high rank can be assigned him.'

It is necessary to remember, however, in doing so that the original sources which treat of his reign give us almost no statement of his motives or plans. They tell us what things he did, but give us scarcely the slightest clew to the reason why he did them, or what ultimate purpose he had in view. It is necessary to infer the leading ideas of his policy from what he did and what he left undone. Such inference is certainly proper, and may lead to sound conclusions, but it must always lack the character of proof, and will seem to some much less conclusive than to others. To myself, the theory that Charlemagne was a man of the broadest statesmanship appears to explain the facts much more perfectly than any other, though one must certainly hesitate to affirm that he was conscious to the full of all the bearings of his policy which we may seem to detect.

But such a consciousness is not necessary ; indeed, it never exists. The statesman is a man who sees the needs of his own time, the immediate dangers to which society is exposed, the next step which may be taken in advance, and, seeing this work which is to be done, sees also how to do it, knows what means the conditions of the time will allow him to employ, and how to work out the needed result with the materials and tools which he must use. The ultimate historical results of his work, and even the deeper currents of the age, he cannot see. But if he truly realizes the needs and opportunities of his time, which these deepest currents have created, he does understand them, though he does not know it, and he works unconsciously in harmony with them.

Our question, then, is this : Were the things which Charlemagne did wisely adapted to meet the needs and danger of the time, and to lead the way to a better future ? Did he do the things which a great statesman ought to have done if he had realized the task demanded of him?

To answer this question we must first determine, as we now look back upon the age, what the things were which most of all needed to be done for the secure unfolding of civilization. This is not difficult to do. The ultimate outcome of the middle ages was to be, as was said at the beginning of our study, a new civilization based upon that of the classic nations, with the new Teutonic race as its active agent. To bring about a condition of things which would allow such a civilization to arise, three things must be accomplished in the political world. In the first place, the invasions must be brought to an end. No se-cure and productive civilization would be possible so long as everything was likely to be thrown back into con-fusion by a new settlement of barbarians who must be absorbed and civilized. In the second place, the Christian nations of Europe must be held together in a common whole, in order that the unity, which Rome had established, and which is the foundation of Christendom, might be preserved. Finally, the government of the state must be strong enough to keep order and to hold in check anarchy and the brute passions, for safety of person and property is indispensable to any advancing civilization. All these were secured in some way before modern history opened. Had it been possible to secure them permanently in the ninth century it might have saved the world some centuries of time.

We have then these three things which the statesman of Charlemagne's age, if he had been gifted with the power to read his own time and to see into the future, would have endeavored to accomplish — to guard his empire against future invasion, to consolidate Christian Europe, and to establish a strong central government, preserving order throughout the whole.

In taking up for examination the conquests which were made by Charlemagne, it seems impossible to believe that they were dictated by any other motive than the desire to render permanent the power which the Franks had established. That his leading motive was ambition, the passion of conquering for the sake of conquering, appears entirely irreconcilable with the facts. If Charlemagne had looked about him to ascertain from what sources new invasions might come to endanger the Frankish state, guided also by the experience of the past, so far as he would know its history at all in detail, he would have been likely to conclude that there were two and only two sources of danger, the Arabs of Spain, and the Saxons of northern Germany.

As a matter of fact, there was no danger now to be feared from the Arabs. They were at strife among them-selves, and in no position to undertake further conquests, as they had been in the past, and would be again in the near future. Very possibly this fact explains why Charlemagne pushed his conquests no further than he did in that direction, but satisfied himself with a few campaigns and a little strip of territory in northeastern Spain.

The Saxons were a very different enemy. For more than a hundred years they had kept up almost constant warfare on the Frankish borders, as earlier still the Germans had along the Roman frontiers. If any new German invasion was to repeat the history of the earlier one, it was from them that it must come. Charlemagne certainly acted as if he realized this fact. They were a stubborn foe, but his determination was more stubborn still. There was apparently far less to be gained from them than from Spain. They were poor and uncivilized. Their land was a cold and hard wilderness ; indeed, for purposes of mere conquest, it would seem as if he could have gone in no other direction so difficult and so little remunerative. But he made their subjugation the constant business of thirty years. He led his army into their land, compelled them to submit and to become Christians in name, and established officers and regulations for their government. But hardly had he turned his back when his work was all undone, Christianity thrown off, and his officers driven out. With infinite patience he did the work over and over again, generally with wise measures, sometimes with unwise, as in the massacre of Verden, but in the end he succeeded. They acknowledged his superiority, submitted to his govern-ment, and accepted Christianity. In no very long time the teachings of the missionaries had replaced their compulsory faith with a more genuine Christianity, and with-in a few generations they looked upon him as the founder, rather than the destroyer, of their national existence, and reckoned him among the great apostles of the Christian religion. Their incorporation in the Roman Christian system of things was complete, and the invasions were over forever. The Hungarians were to make devastating inroads, and the Northmen conquered England and made some settlements on the mainland, but within the limits of Charlemagne's empire no more new states could be founded by armies of invading barbarians.

In the way of consolidation, Charlemagne had but little more to do than to put the finishing touches upon a process long going on and almost completed before his clay. Central and southern Germany, and the Lombard state, and the fringe of Greek territory of which he took possession, were already marked out for Frankish occupation before his reign began, and in no direction, except against the Saxons, were his conquests pushed further than to give him security from attack, as against the Slays and Danes, and in southern Italy, or to connect his territories with one another and round them into a compact whole, as in the Danube valley.

Of the importance of this part of his work for the future, and of the way in which it continued the work of Rome, he could have had no conception. What he was striving to do was to render this Frankish empire secure and permanent. But he did bring together, into a common political union, nearly all the peoples which were to form the great nations of the future, and those which lay outside his immediate rule seem to have looked upon him as in some direct way their head also.'

Finally, in no part of his work does the political genius of Charlemagne appear so evident as in the measures which he adopted to strengthen the power of the central government. It had been the great weakness of all the German governments of earlier generations that they did not make their power felt and obeyed in every locality in the state. The result had been disorder and confusion and the growth of narrowing local interests in the place of general and national ones. Charlemagne's task, as it presented itself to him, would very likely have seemed to be to secure obedience and order, but if this could have been done, if a thoroughly centralized government could have been established and made permanent, it would have meant also the union of the various subject peoples into a common nationality, and a rapidly advancing civilization.

The chief executive officer of the early Frankish state was the count the graf administering in the name of the king a subdivision of the state, the county. After the conquest this office had been very considerably developed under the Roman influence, and its duties widened, especially upon the judicial side, and it came to be theoretically an executive, military, and judicial office, not ill adapted to bring the central government into contact with all parts of the kingdom. But it was natural to choose for the office some large landholder of the county, who would have local interests and local ambitions, and, though the Merovingian kings seem to have recognized the danger of this, and to some extent to have sought to avoid it, the nobles, whose interests lay in the opposite direction, were in the main successful in forcing this policy upon them. It is evident that the prerogatives of the count's office would be of great advantage to the noble in building up a local principality, and they were very commonly used for this purpose, even to the extent of forcing the free landholders of the district into dependent or vassal relations to the count. This turning of the office into a local power greatly impaired its value as an instrument of the general government, and there was imperative need of reformation at this point if the state was really to control its subjects.

Charlemagne made a most vigorous effort to force the counts to be faithful to their duties as agents of his government, and to cease the abuse of their powers for private ends. He certainly did bring about a great change in these respects, but that his success was not so great as he wished, is evident from the frequent denunciations of the abuse of their powers in his laws. Even if his success had been complete, the experience of the past would show that there was here a constant danger to be guarded against and that the state needed some more efficient means of overseeing the counts and of holding them strictly to their duties. The practical statesman-ship of Charlemagne seems clear in the arrangement which he devised for this purpose.

Like almost every other case of the making of new institutions in history, it was the adaptation of an earlier institution to a new and wider use. Charlemagne got the suggestion for the new office from the earlier royal missi —missi dominici—messengers sent out by the king for special purposes, the inspection of the royal domain lands for example. This office he gradually adapted to the new purpose he had in mind until, apparently by 802, it had become a most effective instrument of government.

The details of the arrangement vary greatly at different times, but in general they seem to have been like this : The empire was divided into large districts, or circuits, containing a considerable number of counties. To each of these districts missi were sent annually, usually two in number, different men each year, one a high officer of the church and the other a layman of rank. On coming to their district they divided it into subdistricts according to geographical convenience, each containing a number of counties. In each of these subdivisions they held an assembly four times in their year of office in January, April, July, and October. To this assembly must come all the counts and bishops of the subdistricts, all the subordinate officers of the counties and bishoprics, and all the vassals of the king. Representatives of the freemen of the territory were selected to report upon the conduct of affairs and to inquire into abuses, and any of the inhabitants might enter complaint before the missi concerning any special act of oppression. In this way the administration of the count, and of the bishop, was kept under close watch, and accusations of injustice or misuse of power on their part were quickly heard by the central government. The missi had the right themselves to hear appeals, to correct abuses, and to punish the officers for disobedience or insubordination. They were supposed to represent the king, and to have the rights which he would have had if present in person, but especially important cases seem to have been referred directly to the king for decision. They also made a tour of inspection through the different counties and might hold courts in each of them. At the close of their year of service they drew up written reports to the king of the state of things in their circuits, and these formed the basis of instructions to the new missi of the following year.

Such an office was certainly very wisely adapted to meet the difficulties of the time, to hold the local officers faithful to their public duties, and to bring the power of central government into direct contact with every locality, and make it respected and obeyed.' The best comment upon its purpose and usefulness is the fact that, as the power of the general government grew weaker under the successors of Charlemagne, the office gradually disappeared, leaving, if anything, only faint traces of its former existence.

For the defence of the frontier mark, the marches the office of graf took on a new form, which developed in time into a new feudal rank the markgraf, marchisus, marquis. To the markgraf was assigned a much larger territory than to the ordinary count, and he was allowed to exercise much more extensive power. In this same period appeared also the vicecomes the viscount who exercised his power as a representative of the count, in his absence, or when he held more than one county.

Under Charlemagne's government the old national assemblies with legislative rights are not to be found. Assemblies were held at regular intervals which were like them in form, but if there is anything in these assemblies which may be taken to represent the people, it had no influence upon legislation. Assemblies of the nobles, lay and ecclesiastic, sometimes acting together, seem to have had a consulting and suggesting influence, but the legislative right was apparently vested in the king, as would naturally be the case in a strong government growing out of a past of such political uncertainty.'

Besides the institutions of government given special shape by Charlemagne, two other facts of a different sort, but quite as important, indicate the character of his policy, and would tend to produce the same results permanence of order and a renewal of civilization. They are his revival of schools and education and his renewing of the title of Emperor of Rome in the West.

Of Charlemagne's revival of schools we know unfortunately too little to reconstruct his general plan or to determine how wide his purpose was.' We know there was a palace school, in which the children of the king were taught and those of the great nobles and promising children from the provinces, and where boys were trained for public employment. In this school Alcuin taught, who had been educated in England, and we know that Charlemagne sought for teachers for his schools wherever else anything of learning had remained, as in northern Italy. We know also that schools were to be maintained by the monasteries and cathedral churches, which would naturally be of an intermediate grade, and we suspect, from the regulations for his own diocese of a bishop who was also employed as a royal missus, that there was an intention, or desire at least, of establishing free elementary public schools in each parish, to be taught by the parish priest. This would be a very wise and well-organized system for the times, if it really was what Charlemagne had in mind, and if it could have been carried into effect.

We know perhaps more as to the actual results which followed Charlemagne's revival of schools than we do as to the actual details of his educational system. The legal documents, letters, and writings of the next generation show a very decided improvement in style and accuracy, and this improvement was never lost.' The schools themselves, in places at least, continued to flourish even during the dissolution of his empire, as they had not before, and his efforts for education may clearly be reckoned as the first step toward the revival of learning.

Some of the original sources represent that the act of Pope Leo III., in placing a crown upon the head of Charlemagne as he was praying in St. Peter's on Christmas-day of the year 800, and proclaiming him emperor of Rome, was a surprise to him and not acceptable.' But the plan of reviving the Empire in the West must have been under discussion; there are indications that it had been thought of before the beginning of Charlemagne's reign, and the pope would hardly have ventured upon such a step unless he had known that it was in accordance with the general idea of the king. Charlemagne may have been surprised at the time chosen, and displeased with the assumption of the leading part in the drama by the pope, but there can be no doubt that he had determined upon taking the title. It must have seemed to every one at the time the perfectly natural thing to do. His empire corresponded very nearly with the western half of the Roman empire, more nearly than anything which had existed since. They had believed all along, in a theoretical way, in the continuation of the Roman empire and in the overlordship of the emperor in Constantinople over the West. Just now the power in the East was in the hands of a woman, something which the people of the West regarded as especially unworthy and impossible. The time was favorable for a renewal of the title in Rome, the man was at hand, the empire was undeniably reconstructed in territory and in strength, They may not, perhaps, have thought of themselves exactly as Romans, but they unquestionably thought of the empire as a direct and unbroken continuation of that of Augustus and Theodosius.

To Charlemagne himself, the direct gain which might come from a revival of the empire may have been as important a consideration as the glory of the title itself. The Roman empire meant, above all things else, permanence and consolidation. With no political structure of history has the idea of eternal endurance connected itself as with the Roman empire. This feeling was not yet entirely extinct, as is evident from the way in which this revival was thought of at the time as entirely natural and in no way extraordinary. It would be a great help to the permanence of the empire of the Franks if there could be identified with it the ideas and feelings which belonged to the Roman empire. Again, the only government of which they could have known anything, under which the diverse nationalities, which had been brought together by the conquests of the Franks, could become equal and organic parts of a single state, was the Roman empire. Charlemagne might be recognized as their national ruler by Franks and Lombards and Saxons and Bavarians, but the problem of his clay, and of the future, was how to unite these all together into a single whole, a new homogeneous nationality, in which the old race lines should have disappeared. The Roman empire might do this, and it alone could. That Charlemagne consciously reasoned about the matter in this way is hardly possible. It is altogether probable, however, that he did believe that the taking of the title would be of very great help to him in his struggle to consolidate and render lasting the power which he had created.

The attempt of Charlemagne was a failure. His reign was not long enough to allow such a unity of races, and such a solidarity of law and government, to form them-selves as had formed under Rome, and without this his work could not be permanent. Even if his own life could have continued through the whole ninth century, it is very doubtful whether his genius would. have been sufficient to hold in check the forces of separation and disorder. They certainly were too strong for the weaker men who succeeded him, and his empire fell apart and the strong government which he had established was overpowered.

Some of the special things which he accomplished were permanent contributions to civilization, like the conquest of the Saxons and the revival of schools. Many of his special political expedients disappeared with the strong government which they had helped to sustain, as was the case with the missi. But there was a profound and permanent influence of the empire and good government of Charlemagne upon the general course of history, though they may not have continued themselves.

He had created and sustained for a generation a really powerful central government, obeyed and respected everywhere, and this fact was not forgotten in the days of feudal confusion and anarchy which followed. Men looked back to it, as they had earlier looked back upon the Roman empire, as an age when things were as they ought to be a kind of golden age, when most marvellous deeds were done, to be told of in poetry and romance. The ideal of a strong king and a real government was so deeply impressed upon the time that feudalism was never able to destroy it, as logically it should have done, but itself always retained the character which Charlemagne had been the chief one to give it, of a constitutional organization for the state, exercising its powers and rights as delegated to it, when strictly interpreted, and in the name of a general government which theoretically must continue to exist.

His empire also brought together for a time all the Christian nations of the continent in a real union. The unity which Rome had established had been, for centuries past, merely theoretical. There was no objective fact corresponding to it. The supremacy of the emperor at Constantinople over the whole empire was too shadowy to be of any real value in maintaining even the idea of unity. The church had formed a real unity, but the political world had none. The theory itself would soon have passed out of the minds of men if it had never taken form in fact. Charlemagne, if we may say so, made the facts conform to the theory. At the beginning of the period of most complete separation, when the feudal system was about to render the existence even of state governments practically impossible, and to divide Europe into the smallest of fragments, he recreated, for a generation or more, the Roman unity as an actual fact, and strengthened the belief in its continued existence, as the ideal political constitution for the world. His revival of the empire rendered possible its second revival, on a somewhat different basis, by the kings of Germany, and laid the foundation for that ideal structure, the Holy Roman Empire, alongside the Holy Roman Church an ideal which grew more and more perfect in theory as the actual empire declined in power.

But if the empire had never been revived a second time by Otto I., and if the theory of the Holy Roman Empire had never been developed, the real unity which Charlemagne created would have been an enormous reinforcement to the influence of the church in holding the nations of the West together in a common system, and an especially decisive aid in this direction, because, with its strong unity it cut the age of confusion and separation in half, and held the disintegrating forces of the time in check in their full career.

Of still further significance is the fact that Charlemagne represented, even more completely than Theodoric or any other of his predecessors had done, the union of German and Roman elements into a common whole. In Charlemagne personally and in his government they are manifestly united, not as two distinct and separate sets of things brought together consciously and with intention, and held together by an artificial arrangement, but they are mingled in a living and natural union, as if no one were conscious of any difference between them. Within a short time at least after his death, we have evidence in language, and in customary law, and in more or less clearly felt race feeling, that the same sort of a union had taken place in the mass of the people. The German had not been raised to the level of the classic civilization. The knowledge and culture lost had not been re-covered, but enormous progress toward this recovery had been made when the German and the Roman had melted together into a single people, and begun to develop a new national consciousness.

The unity, which Charlemagne had formed, might be broken up, the empire might fall again into abeyance, the strong government disappear, but in such ways as these, which have been indicated, his work was permanent.

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