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Scotland in the Middle Ages
Chapter I - Introductory


Modern political society originating with the era of Charlemagne — The state of Europe in his time — The population — Celts — Franks — Sclaves — Wends — Bavarians — Northmen or Danes — Saxons — Teutonic races — Superstitions of the Northmen — Virtues of the Germans — Saint Boniface's Catechism — Pagan Saxon prayer — The Moors — Their accomplishments — Their activity and enterprise — The Lombards — Rome — Her missions and adoption of co-operating missionaries — Her danger from the Arian heresy — The Church, its influence and power — Used for the advantage of mankind — Constantinople and the Eastern empire — The dominions of Charlemagne — Vestiges of Roman Institutions — Municipia — Defects of those institutions for patriotic union — Charlemagne himself, his appearance, habits, dress, arms, ornaments — The amount of his education — His buildings, fleets, his ordinances, his country houses — His gardens, flowers, fruit trees, poultry, game — His ordinance for schools — Keeping of Sunday — Preaching — Charlemagne the champion of Christianity — Saxon Resistance — Duke Radbod — -Witikind — Final subjugation of the Saxons — Charlemagne's other triumphs — Harun-el-Rashid's, and the Greek Emperor's embassies — Crowned as Caesar — His achievements.

In laying before the public these Sketches, I may be permitted to explain that their original purpose was merely to engage the interest of young men in the study of history. I offer no ambitious disquisitions on political science; still less do I strive to crowd into a few pages the facts of a nation's history. I have thought it more useful to direct attention to the origin and progress of the complicated frame of modern society, the sources of our institutions, and the mixed foresight and accident that have fostered them. I would willingly show the stages through which European society has passed, not using the a priori speculations of theorists, but taking history and its materials as our guides.

I trust it will not be unacceptable if, in tracing up the great stream of civilization, I follow the little tributary branch that rises and flows through our own valleys. The same results for science may . be derived from the research, as if it were extended over a much wider field; and the very familiarity of the scenes, and the interest you cannot avoid feeling in them, will, at any rate, help to keep up your attention, which might flag in more general discussions. For my part, I shall have obtained my utmost object if, in pointing your observation to the structure of our political society, and to the domestic history of our ancestors — to their modes of thought, feeling, and action — I can awake some taste for historical research and speculation, or assist, in however humble a degree, to promote the love of reasonable liberty, of truth, and of virtue.

[A.D. 768 - 814] In such an inquiry, I think I have gone high enough in beginning at the era of Charlemagne. Most of our institutions — I may say, all the peculiar institutions of the existing body politic of Europe — have arisen within that limit. Then, too, we begin to have some of the authentic materials of history. We have original letters and state papers; bodies of laws, rude indeed, but most characteristic; we have chroniclers, meagre and undiscriminating, but still giving facts as they appeared to common men at the time, and deriving value even from the exhibition of the prepossessions and prejudices of the relater; and, finally, we have lives of great men, written by their familiars. Unfortunately, at that time the history of our own country is a blank; and we are left to conjecture that similar institutions, and manners not materially different when they first fall within the light of history, have had a similar origin, and passed through the same stages of progress.

After examining the structure of Christendom under Charlemagne, and the fragments into which it was broken when no longer sustained by his wisdom and power, I propose to leave the general European history at the period of the Norman conquest of England, and to direct your attention to the state of Britain at that era. That is an important point in the history of England, which then first becomes one of the members of the Continental family — a state of the great commonwealth of Europe; and it may be said to be the beginning of Scotch history.

Soon after that period, we may derive materials from our own records that will enable us to throw light upon the state of our country, feeble at first, and uncertain, but gradually brightening into the fulness of perfect history.

Modern politicians are in the habit of claiming for their own time the dignity and interest of a great political crisis; but the student of history, looking back through the cool vista of a thousand years, will find no crisis so important in European affairs as the era of the accession of Charlemagne [AD 771]. We should take a narrow and mistaken view if we regarded the wars of that time as the struggle for superiority of men or of nations — as a dispute whether Charles or Witikind should reign — whether the Saxons or the Franks should be the dominant tribe. If we examine more attentively, we shall find the elements of a different war. The great fight then began, which has continued ever since, now slumbering, now blazing out anew — often asleep, never dead — the struggle between order and anarchy, between civilization and barbarism. Setting out of view the interposition of an over-ruling Providence (which a historian has no right to limit as a cause of any particular issue), it is owing to the wisdom and vigour of Charlemagne, and to the success of that party of which he was the leader and the type, not only that the Germanic race is lord of the ascendant in Europe, but, perhaps, that Europe has set up the standard of mind against brute force—has identified its existence with Christianity, instead of the worship of the groves and of Odin, or the doctrine of the prophet of Islam.

We shall understand this better if we bestow a little attention upon the state of society in Europe at that important era when Charlemagne ascended the throne of the Franks. Thirty-six years before [AD 732], his grandfather, Charles Martel, mayor of the palace of the Merovingian kings, had set a limit to the progress of the invading Moors of Spain, in a three days' fight near Poictiers, which has been exaggerated and surrounded with romantic marvels, as was natural and almost fitting for a battle upon which depended the fate of the Christian world. [AD 752]Twenty years after that victory, Pepin, the son of the conqueror, already king in power and authority, became King of the Franks by the solemn election of the free German nation, in an assembly or parliament held at Soissons, when he was proclaimed King, and the degraded Childeric deposed and sent as a shaven monk to drag out the remainder of his life in a monastery at St. Omers. [AD 768] On Pepin's death again, the people immediately elected his sons Charles and Carloman as his successors [AD 752]. The Pope Zacharias had sanctioned the setting aside of Childeric III., the last of the ancient Merovingian kings, in favour of the more vigorous race, whose arms he trusted to engage in the service of the Church, then sore bestead. Pepin immediately showed his gratitude by bestowing on the Roman See its first great territorial possessions, the provinces of Romagna and the march of Ancona, wrested by him and his hardy Franks from the Lombards, whom the languid Emperors of the East allowed to possess the fairest provinces of Italy. And there began that intimate alliance of the Church and the State, which, cultivated at first, perhaps, for political or even selfish ends, had the effect for many centuries of giving unity to Christendom and predominance to the Papal power; and of engaging the successive rulers of Europe to propagate and support the doctrines of the Church.

It is not necessary to dwell upon the short period of double rule of Charles and his brother Carloman [AD 768 - 771], and I only advert to it to call your attention to two facts — first, the partition of the inheritance, so contrary to the notions of after-feudalism, and in reality so dangerous to the existence of the kingdom, but so established in the customs of the time, that neither Charles Martel, Pepin, nor Charlemagne himself, ventured to controvert it. Secondly, we must not omit to notice, that whatever the destination of the deceased monarch might be, and however influential in guiding the succession, still the absolute election and right of choice lay in the people.

Observe how Europe was peopled at that time. The original Gaulish people had experienced the fate which seems to attend the Celtic race when brought in collision with Teutonic nations. A part had submitted to the fortune of war, and as bondmen tilled the soil which they had formerly possessed ; and part had been pushed back into the defiles of Armorica, or disappeared among the gorges of the Alps and the Jura, and while they have left interesting traces of their manners and their language, they may, without much injustice to history, be discounted as an independent people from the politics of Europe.

The swarms of many named Teutonic barbarians before whom they had retired, soon filled the land from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, introducing every where a new element into European society, the sentiment of personal independence and passion for individual liberty, which you will find on reflection was unknown among the Romans, and which formed no part of the feeling or instruction of the Christian church.

The leading band of the barbarians, who had at an early time inhabited the district of the Lower Rhine and Weser, but after their combination occupying the country from the Rhine to the Somme, and including Holland, Brabant, Flanders, Gueldres, all the ancient states, afterwards the kingly dukedom of the Burgundian princes, had, long before the time of Charlemagne, united for common defence [About AD 240, soon after Maximin's slaughter, which was in 238.], and assumed the common name of Franks. Their bond of union consisted in a common Teutonic tongue, and a similarity at least of national customs literature of the north, one class of which, the Edda, has preserved to us their mythology, and another their historical and romantic narratives, the Sagas. "The Saxons," says Einhard, "like almost all the nations inhabiting Germany, are of fierce nature, and devoted to the worship of demons, and most hostile to our religion." No people perhaps has ever so realized their rude ideas of another state of being, and the presence and interference of their deities. These, indeed, were rather deified heroes, raised into gods by antiquity; men, only more powerful than the mortals of a degenerate time. Like the Greek deities of the Homeric age, they often mixed in human affairs, and were sometimes met by mortal heroes in not unequal combat. The joys of their Olympus or Valhalla were to be opened to the valiant warrior after death, who was to employ his days in warlike exercises, to feast on the everlasting boar's flesh, and revel in horns of ale and mead. Over these hero gods was the eternal being, the Alfader, the creator and ruler, not only of the earth and heaven, but also of those interposed godheads kindred to humanity, and which, in the absence of revelation, seem necessary for its support. They had the reverence for woods and groves and fountains, natural to man in his unenlightened state, and many of their heathen observances were connected with them. Charlemagne himself ordained, "that any one who made a vow or offering, after the manner of the pagans, to fountains, or trees, or groves, or made sacrifices in honour of demons, should be fined according to his rank, or if unable to pay, be given to the service of the church till the fine be made up; that the bodies of the Christian Saxons should be taken for burial to the church cemeteries, and not to the tumuli of the pagans; and that sorcerers and diviners should be given over to the church and the clergy." Their practice of eating horse flesh was not a mere indulgence of taste, but was connected with their national superstitions. Pope Gregory, in one of his epistles, enjoins the zealous Boniface to repress it by every means as a foul and execrable practice. A more monstrous enormity prevailed among some of the Thuringians, who, having themselves nominally embraced Christianity, yet ministered to their native superstitions in their worst forms, by selling slaves to the unconverted pagans for the purpose of sacrifice. [Quidam ex fidelibus ad immolandum Paganis sua venundant mancipia.] This is denounced by the Pope as an impious offence, and to be visited with the same penance as homicide. Procopius assures us, indeed, that many of the Germanic tribes, even those professing Christianity, adhered to the rites of their ancient idolatry, and sacrificed human victims. [Thierry, 52.]

While we notice these monstrous superstitions, let us not pass over the savage virtues of our German forefathers, and their abhorrence of some kinds of immorality. In a curious letter of Boniface to Ethelbald, king of Mercia, reproving him for his licentious life, he appeals to the usages even of Pagan Germany as enforcing his precepts. His words are, — "Not only by Christians, but by Pagans also, such conduct is esteemed a dishonour and shame; for the very Pagans, though ignorant of the true God, observe in this matter, by nature, the things of the law, and keep what God has from the beginning ordained. For they respect their conjugal engagements, and punish paramours and adulterers. In old Saxony, if a young woman pollutes her paternal name by impurity, or a wife violates her marriage obligations, they sometimes compel her to strangle herself, and hang the seducer over the funeral pile of her burning body. Sometimes they assemble a crowd of women, who whip the offending female from village to village, scourging her with rods, tearing her clothes from her sides, and lacerating her body with knives, till she is left dead or dying, that others may feel a salutary fear of adultery and wantonness." I have given the words of the letter, that you may observe the minute details and differences which, I think, prove it to be written from the Bishop's own observation, and not merely copied from a passage of Tacitus, where he describes similar manners among the ancient Germans. This is confirmed by his adding a further illustration of conjugal fidelity, in the practice of the Suttee, which we know to have then prevailed among the Wendish or Sclavonian tribes, who were neighbours of the Saxons on the East. "Even the Wends," continues the Anglo-Saxon missionary, "who are the vilest and most degraded of mortals, so zealously adhere to the bond of marriage, that the wife, when her husband dies, refuses to survive him; and she is considered the most exemplary of her sex who inflicts her death-wound with her own hand, and perishes upon the same pile with her husband." There is reason to believe that the same practice was at least in occasional observance among the early Germans, and vivid traces of it appear in the heroic poems of Scandinavia ; but it cannot be affirmed that it continued to prevail down to the period of their known history. A fragment, found in a MS. of the Vatican, gives us the form of the catechism of the new converts of the Thuringians and Saxons brought into the Church by St. Boniface and his companions in the middle of the eighth century, which, while it indicates a multitude of their prevailing superstitions [AD 743] contains a very remarkable specimen of the language then spoken by the governing people of Northern Europe. It is plain that it was the common language of Frank, Saxon, and Thuringian; and it is interesting to find that it is understood, without difficulty, eleven hundred years later, by Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, Scots, and English — all the people who speak a genuine Teutonic language.

Forsachistu dioboloe? Forsakest thou the devil?

A. Ec forsacho diobolae. I forsake the devil.

End allum diobolgeldce? And all devil worship?

A. End ec forsacho allum diobolgeldae. And I forsake all devil worship.

End allum dioboles uuercum? And all the devil's works?

A. End ec forsacho allum dioboles uuercum end uuordum, Thunaer ende Woden ende Saxnote, ende allem them unholdum the hira genotas sint. And I forsake all the devil's works and words, Thor and Woden and Saxnot, and the unclean spirits that are their comrades.

Gelobistu in Got Alamehtigan Fadaer ?
A. Ec gelobo in Got Alamehtigan Fadaer.
Gelobisto in Crist Godes suno?
A. Ec gelobo in Crist Godes suno.
Gelobistu in Halogan Gast?
A. Ec gelobo in Halogan Gast. [Pertz, Monumenta Germaniae, torn. iii. p. 19.]

There is preserved a vow or prayer offered up by the Saxon army, apparently after the slaughter at Verden:— "Holy great Woden, deliver us and our Prince Witikind from the most foul Charles — woe to that butcher! — and I will give to thee a wild bull (urus) and two sheep, and the spoils, and I will kill to thee all my prisoners in thy sacred hill of Artishberka."

On the other side of the territory occupied by the new Frankish nation, on the Pyrenean frontier, were the Moors of Spain, a formidable enemy, checked by the defeat at Poictiers, but still warlike, active, and zealous for extending their dominion and faith. These were beyond doubt the most enlightened as well as the most refined people of Europe at that time. They cultivated letters, science, and some of the arts with a taste and success which we do not find among the nations of Christendom for ages afterwards. We owe to them our modern system of arithmetic, and our earliest acquaintance with astronomy, which their forefathers had studied in the plains of Bagdad and Sinaar. To that study they were partly led by the belief of the influence of the stars upon the actions and fortunes of men; and their zealous prosecution of chemistry, long before its first principles were understood in Christendom, might originate in the strange tradition which gave rise to the search after a mysterious agent that could convert the baser metals into gold, and bestow life and youth as well as wealth upon its possessor. But even the pursuit of such dreams bespeaks a diving into the mysteries of nature and a cultivation, far removed from the rudeness of the Germanic peoples. The remains of Moorish architecture, so rich and graceful, so suited for the enjoyment of that voluptuous climate, would alone convince us how far they had outstripped our ancestors in the arts of life. But nothing appears to me to show better what civilization owes to the Moors, than the unquestionable etymology of some of those terms now so familiar in our mouths—words connected with the foundation of our knowledge of the properties of numbers, the calculations of astronomy, and the science and art of chemistry.[As almanack, algebra, cypher, zenith, nadir, azimuth, alembic, alkali.]

This people, so ingenious, of so fine and subtle a nature, were not less active and enterprising. They had already run down all the southern coast of the Mediterranean, and colonised from the sea to the ridge of Atlas. They had made themselves a home in the Spanish peninsula, and were clustering round the Pyrenean passes, ready to send off a swarm into France. They were unrivalled at sea, at least in that sea which served as their road of communication with their fatherland. Along its waters they brought to Spain the produce of Asia, and of the unknown regions of Central Africa. Other peoples of the same stock and religion soon became even more dangerous, and in spite of the awe of the great Emperor, devastated the coasts of Italy, seized upon Sardinia and Sicily, and established a colony within the territory of the Frank empire on the coast of Provence.

On the south side of the Alps the Longobardi were the most formidable of the rivals of the Franks, though they had more than once given way before the prowess of the ancestors of Charlemagne.

Beyond their kingdom, on the banks of the Tiber, on the hills whence Pome once sent out its legions, was that old city, no longer imperial nor the centre of civil dominion, but swaying the minds of men with an authority more awful. It was not merely the respect for the seat of the chief Christian bishop — venerated as the scene of the preaching and suffering of the greatest of the Apostles — seen indistinctly through the misty distance — with a name still associated with universal dominion. In those ages Pome made her existence be felt by sending her missionaries to the most dangerous and distant fields of exertion, and by winning over to cooperation and unity the most zealous preachers of Christianity who had not drawn their zeal or their commission from herself, at least directly. By the mission of Augustine [AD 596] she had reclaimed Saxon England from utter Paganism; and in another age, when the English neophytes proved their gratitude by spreading Christianity among the Frisians and Saxons of their German fatherland, Wilbrord and Boniface in succession — names now unfamiliar to our ears, but long venerated as the English apostles of the faith amongst the Germans — at the height of their success, and while bringing within the pale of Christianity whole provinces by their preaching, consented to bow to the majesty of Rome and to accept at her hands the consecration of their Episcopal office. In the time of the Carlovingian princes, Rome had to struggle almost for her existence. The mighty Arian heresy which began in Egypt at the beginning of the fourth century, and was spread through all the Eastern churches, had inundated Europe also, with the irruption of the Goths, the Vandals, the Burgundians and the Lombards, all tainted with the prevailing Arian doctrines. Against it, Rome had to contend almost alone, and scarcely was she finally victorious in that struggle [AD 660], when another dispute embroiled her with the Eastern emperors, and obliged her to turn for refuge and support to a new, a rising, and a more energetic ally.

And here it is necessary to speak of the Christian Church, its influence and its effects. I cannot go into the more ancient history of the organisation of the clergy, but must regard it as it had become shortly before our era, a completely organised society, separated from the laity by celibacy, extending from one centre and embracing all Christendom; comprehending in its ranks nearly all of intelligence, literature, and science that then existed; having alone some communion with the mind of immortal antiquity, and having in view, when rightly considered, the noblest and most elevating objects of man's exertions. It is not surprising that by their office the clergy should possess a large share of influence; but when we consider the general want of that discipline of mind necessary for common affairs, we find an additional cause for the crowd of secular business thrown upon the churchmen in the middle ages. The bishops of all the cities of Gaul were administrators of the civil and Imperial authority under the Lower Roman emperors. [They were called papas or patres. — Leg. Arcad. et Theodor. ] "It is not quite fair to accuse the clergy of usurpation in this matter," says Guizot, "for it fell out according to the common course of events. The clergy alone possessed moral strength and activity; and the clergy everywhere succeeded to power—such is the common law of the universe."

How did the Church wield this vast power? It is a large subject, and I cannot be expected here to go into the discussion. I have studied it, however, with some care, and as I am not aware of any prejudice or prepossession, I will not withhold from you the results.

I think it could be shown that up to the era of Charlemagne, and for some time afterwards, the Church was in a state of continual progression of intelligence, and high views. It attacked barbarism at every point, to civilize and to rule over it. Notwithstanding its denial of the exercise of individual judgment — notwithstanding its claim to the right of compelling submission — its tendency was ever popular. It protected the weak against oppression. It supported the poor. It emancipated the slave. It admitted into its own bosom all comers of all ranks. With its mighty moral power it saved the world, when there was a danger of its falling a prey to brute force. I use the words of a Protestant and a true philosopher when I say, — "humanly speaking, it was the Christian Church that saved Christianity." [Guizot.]

In this rude numbering of the elements of Euro- pean society, I have not alluded to that shadow of ancient empire, which yet brooded over the Bos-phorus. The emperors of Constantinople had still some footing in the exarchates of Italy (though even there, the Lombards were fast encroaching on them); but of Europe beyond the Alps, they had neither influence nor knowledge. They despised the country which they stamped as barbarous, and knew nothing of the power which was rising out of the ruins of their old Gaulish provinces. The Bysantine writers of the sixth century speak of the Western inhabitants of Europe, even of the mighty league of the Franks, as something indistinct and all but fabulous. We cannot imagine that the barbarians were more informed regarding the city and its emperors; and all the records we have of them, show that it formed no object of their respect or thoughts. It was indeed impossible that the fame of Charlemagne should not reach even to Constantinople; and we have records of several embassies sent to him by the Bysantine emperors; but the distance prevented any collision or political intercourse; and it was not till the time of the Crusades, that the wily Greeks learned to respect or fear the iron-handed men of the North.

At the death of Pepin [AD768], the father of Charlemagne, the empire of the Franks consisted of the three kingdoms of Neustria, Burgundy, and Aus-trasia; in other words, of three-fourths of France, Holland and Belgium, Switzerland, the Grand Duchy of the Lower Rhine, Wurtemberg and Bavaria, and the small states of the German Confederacy. It extended from the Loire to the frontiers of modern Austria and Bohemia — from the German Sea to the Mediterranean. I have already said that the Franks—a Teutonic confederacy—were the predominating people. They occupied the territory between the Rhine, the Seine, and the Loire. The Gauls, the former possessors of a great proportion of the territory, were still, perhaps, found scattered over their former possessions, though united and in strength chiefly in the Orleanois, the central district of modern France. The Visigoths occupied Languedoc, and all the country from the Loire to the Pyrenees. The Ostrogoths were seated in Provence; the Burgundians between the Loire, the Rhone, and the Rhine, from Avignon to Basel. Brittany had its own Celtic inhabitants, reinforced by large additions from Britain in the middle of the fifth century, when the Roman province was overrun by the barbarians. A large territory on the right bank of the Rhine can scarcely be held as adding strength to the kingdom of the Franks. The Thuringians, the Alimanni, and its other inhabitants, had, indeed, more than once been reduced to submission by the predecessors of Charlemagne; but these were mere barbarians, constantly fluctuating, and yielding a mere nominal obedience.

The Roman power may be said to have been finally destroyed in Gaul by the victory of Clovis at Soissons [AD 486]; but we must not suppose that the Roman civil dominion of many ages, over every part of Europe, had left no permanent effects on its society. These were chiefly seen in the cities; for the Romans of the provinces seem to have lived altogether in towns, while their barbarian invaders, on the contrary, either at once, or soon after their settlement, took their seats chiefly in the open country. In the time of Charlemagne, Roman cities still remained over all Germany, maintaining a sort of tolerated independence, using their own customs, and having the election of the managers of their local affairs. The effect of such communities, where order was preserved and property protected, must have been very great even upon the rude settlers of the open country round, and they were soon imitated as models in the cities which grew up round the princes and bishops of the new peoples. A writer [Paulus Orosius.] of the fifth century describes the Visigoths on the west of the Rhone, and the Burgundians on the east, living on the most friendly terms with the Romanised Gauls, "not as if with subjects, but with brothers." [Non quasi cum subjectis sed cum fratribus.] In the sixth century, Alaric, a king of the Visigoths of Toulouse, collected and published a body of Roman laws, a fact which speaks the continued influence of Roman manners, long after the downfall of the power of Rome. We should overrate the power of this element, however, if we did not observe that whilst the Roman institutions, still remaining amongst the new peoples, gave the experience of order and security, they inculcated little of real patriotism. When cut off from Rome, they had no common bond of union; each city stood alone, with no natural connection even with other free communities, still less with the government, under which it existed by sufferance.

Of such materials, with little of adherence in their structure, and hemmed in on the East and West by the most dangerous enemies, was composed the empire of the Frankish princes, the ancestors of Charlemagne.

Charles, whom we know best by the name of Charlemagne, [AD 768] was twenty-six years old when he succeeded his father in the western provinces, and three years afterwards [AD771], the death of his brother Carloman left him undisputed lord of the Frankish empire.

We owe the description of his person to his contemporary and friend Einhard. He was large of limb, strong bodied, tall, but yet not more than seven times the length of his own foot, which his biographer considered the just proportion. His eyes were large and quick, his nose somewhat too long. He had fine fair hair. His countenance was gay and cheerful. He had a dignified presence, whether standing or walking, though his neck was too thick and short, and his belly somewhat prominent. His gait was firm, and his whole appearance manly; but his voice, though clear, was scarcely full enough to suit his great size. He was always in good health, until the last four years of his life. He was fond of riding and hunting, and passionately fond of swimming. The same author describes his dress as that of his nation—a linen shirt and breeches, and above them a tunic bordered with a fringe of silk. His legs were bandaged with stripes of cloth, and he wore low leather buskins. In winter he defended his shoulders and chest with a jacket of otter and marten skins. Over these, he had a blue cloak, and always wore a sword, the hilt and belt of which was of gold or silver. Sometimes he put on a jewelled sword, but that was only at the great feasts of the Church, or at the reception of foreign ambassadors. He rejected all foreign garments, however beautiful, and only on two occasions, at Rome, he was persuaded to use the Roman garb. On great festivals he wore a robe woven with gold and buskins ornamented with jewels, with a gold clasp for his cloak, and on his head a diadem of gold and gems. On common days, his dress was simple, and differed in nothing from that of his people. He was moderate in his food, and still more temperate in his drink, and hated drunkenness. His common dinner consisted of four dishes; but the meat he liked best was the little roast which the hunters brought him fresh killed, and presented on the spit. Whilst he was at table, he liked to hear reading, and it was the history of old times, and the great deeds of his forefathers, which he generally chose to hear. He also liked the works of St. Augustine, particularly his " City of God." In summer, at his mid-day meal, he would eat some apples, take one draught of wine, and he then undressed, and lay down to sleep for two or three hours. At night his sleep was broken, and he often got up and dressed four or five times during the night. In the morning, whilst he was dressing, he admitted his friends; and if any law cause of great importance was pending, he had the parties brought before him, and decided it himself.

Einhard praises his eloquence, in language borrowed from Suetonius' characters of Augustus and Titus. He knew Latin perfectly, and spoke it like his own language; but Greek he did not pronounce so well as he understood it. He studied Grammar — which word then comprehended some classical learning — and Dialectics, as they were then taught under Peter of Pisa, and our countryman Alcuin, who was considered the paragon of all learning and accomplishment of his time. He studied Astronomy, and was skilful in computing the courses of the stars. Lastly, he tried anxiously to learn to write, but with little success, although he used to carry writing materials about with him, and endeavour to trace the written characters even in bed.

He loved the society of strangers, and entertained all comers with the most royal hospitality. He commenced two sumptuous palaces; but he bestowed his attention chiefly upon building and repairing churches throughout his vast dominions. He built fleets in all the rivers which run into the Northern Ocean, for repelling the invasions of the Northmen, and had a navy in the Mediterranean, for protecting his coasts against the pirate Moors.

Einhard tells us much of his charity and alms, and that he adhered most religiously to the Christian faith, which he had learned in his youth. But for this and some other matters, I may be permitted to bring under your notice a few passages from his own ordinances, preserved among the capitularies of the ancient Frankish kings. Some of these give the most minute descriptions of the court life of the eighth century. The one prescribing the order to be observed in the imperial country houses is perhaps the most curious, and illustrates the home life of the castles of the period, its comforts and luxuries, scattered as they were in a country but half reclaimed from the original forest. We have careful arrangements for vintage, harvest, and hay-making; provisions for the feeding and proper fattening of poultry, and for a supply of swans, of peacocks, pheasants, and winged game, "pro dignitatis causa" and innumerable regulations applicable to a country life, like that on which we now pride ourselves in England. The Emperor's care descended even to the plants which were to be cultivated in his garden. His list of flowers began, as was fitting, with the lily and the rose, and extended through an immense catalogue of names, which are rather puzzling to modern gardeners, while some of them undoubtedly belong rather to the produce of the kitchen and herb garden, and others may have served as charms against witchcraft and sorcery.

Of trees, he ordered apple trees of different kinds, with very hard names; [Gozmaringa, Geroldinga, Crevedella, Spirauca.] some for keeping through the winter, others for summer use; pears of three or four different kinds, and plums, medlars, chesnuts, peaches, and quinces; almond trees and mulberries ; walnuts and varieties of cherries. Finally, the gardener was to have upon the roof of his own house the plant which, in Charlemagne's time, bore the name of Jove's beard, and which is well known to us by the name of house-leek, a sort of domestic plant, to which I believe some superstition has always attached. Nothing could bring the scene of a thousand years ago more freshly to our mind than these curious ordinances now collected with the accuracy and care they deserve. We see the great Emperor among his fruits and his flowers, his harvests, his poultry and his game, surrounded by men of science and letters, by the high officers of his crown and dignified churchmen, with his palace crowded with strangers, dispensing his charity with profusion, leading the life of the opulent and well educated country gentlemen of our own time. [See a notice of the capitular of Charlemagne de villis imperialibus, in the Appendix.]

It has been said that the famous constitution of Charlemagne, for instituting schools in every bishopric and monastery [AD 788], was the cause of the restoration of letters and learning in France and Germany. In that, perhaps, there is some overstatement, but I cannot now dwell upon the inquiry. I prefer giving you a specimen of an exhortation of Charlemagne, addressed to all persons, clerical and secular, in the year 789, which I cannot help thinking in every way most memorable; especially the latter clauses, which regard the keeping of Sunday, and the preaching of pastors. The king ordained, that according to the precept of the Divine Law, no servile works should be done on the Lord's day, particularly, that men should not work at country work, in the vineyard, or in ploughing, reaping, mowing, hedging, nor in grubbing wood, or cutting trees; that they should not build houses, nor work in their gardens, nor meet in law courts, nor hunt. It was not lawful to use cart or carriage labour, except for three purposes:—for expeditions of war, for victuals, and thirdly, if it should be necessary, for burial. Women were prohibited from weaving on that day, from shaping or sewing clothes, and from embroidery and needlework, from carding wool, beating flax, public washing of clothes, and shearing of sheep. All were ordered to assemble at church for mass, to praise God for all the good things he bestowed upon us in that day.

The injunction with regard to preaching is more remarkable. Here are the words of Charlemagne himself: — "It is your duty to see, beloved and venerable pastors of the churches of God, that the priests whom you send throughout your parishes preach rightly and honestly, and that you allow none to preach to the people novelties, or things not canonical, according to their own sense, and not according to the Scripture, but do you yourselves preach what is useful, honest, and right, and such things as lead to eternal life; and instruct others to do the same.

"First of all, the preacher should instruct all generally, that they should believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God, Almighty, Everlasting, Invisible, who created Heaven and Earth, and all that in them is; "and so on through all the points of the Apostle's Creed, set down with great plainness and precision. Afterwards, he is enjoined to preach against the works of the flesh, for which men are punished in another life, "but," continues Charlemagne, " above all, admonish them concerning the love of God and their neighbour, of faith and hope in God, of humility and patience, of chastity and continence, of kindness and mercy, of alms, and the confession of sins, and the forgiving of debts."

Charlemagne was hereditarily attached to the Church, and to Rome. His family had risen as the champions of the Church. I believe he was firmly convinced of the truth of her doctrines, and of the virtue of unity. But other motives were not wanting to confirm his attachment. Surrounded by Pagan enemies, it was his policy to be Christian. In a church and society long distracted by schism, he saw the advantage of supporting and enforcing a standard of unity of doctrine. You have seen that with some inconsiderable exceptions in Europe, and excepting, of course, the Greek Empire, his kingdom was co-extensive with Christianity. Thus from policy as well as zeal, he marched to battle as the servant of the Cross. With him, all Pagans were enemies, and all Christians were both friends and subjects. Every battle he gained brought him not only new subjects, but new proselytes. Baptism was the necessary consequence of submission to Charlemagne. He compelled unity in the Empire and in the Church. By his creed there should be but one king and one faith! But while he converted with the sword, and baptized the conquered Pagans in their blood, he supported the zealous missionaries who used methods more suited to the doctrines they taught. The preacher of peace and the mighty warrior worked in harmony together, to bring new subjects within the pale of Christendom and the Empire.

We are not surprised that the rude freemen of Saxony long resisted such conversion. Radbod, a fierce chief of the Frisians, who had withstood the arms of Pepin Heristal, was at length almost gained over to Christianity, by the persevering entreaties and preaching of Wulframn and other missionaries. He was even brought to the sacred font. He had already one foot in the water, when he suddenly stopped — turned to Wulframn, and asked, whether there were more Frieslanders in heaven or in hell. The missionary could not hesitate, and told him that all his ancestors being unbaptized, were certainly in the latter place. The prince immediately drew back his foot from the font. "I cannot," he said, "give up the company of my ancestors even for the joys of heaven." [Pertz, II. 221.] "And Duke Radbod," says the chronicler, "died unbaptized."

Charlemagne turned his whole power against the Saxons. His generals were defeated over and over again. He marched himself at the head of immense armies against them. He won battle after battle, but still the stubborn people refused his rule, or only submitted while he was amongst them, to revolt whenever his force was withdrawn. Baptism had become a badge of slavery, which they were loath to undergo, and Witikind, their chief, resisted as long as nature could endure. It cost thirty-three years of war to the great emperor to complete the subjection of the Saxons. None of his other undertakings was so wasteful of blood and treasure, and yet it was no light task to stem the tide of barbarous nations, setting so strongly from the east to the west of Europe. We must not follow him through his lifetime of war and conquest, nor dwell upon the suffering occasioned to his subjects by his endless conscriptions and levies. He humbled the Moors of Navarre, and pushed his frontier beyond the Pyrenees to the Ebro. He won and wore the iron crown of Lombardy. He ruled the Western Continent of Europe from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, to the Danube and the Oder, the Baltic Sea and the Eyder. He received suppliant embassies from the Emperors of the East, and the mighty caliph Harun-al-Rashid sent him ambassadors and presents—rich robes and perfumes of the east, and his only elephant, [We learn that he bore the name of Ab-ul-Abas, or " the father of destruction;" that he was brought into Italy in the year 802, and died in Lippenheil in 810 — in all likelihood, the only elephant seen to the north of the Alps since the days of Hannibal.] which Charlemagne had expressed a desire to possess. Charlemagne reached the summit of earthly grandeur, when the Pope, placed on his head the crown of the Caesars, and hailed him by the still unforgotten titles of Emperor and Augustus.

But more than this, he had effectually rolled hack the hitherto constant tide of invasion, which had kept Europe barbarous since the first irruption of the Goths and Vandals. He had given steadiness to the society of his great empire. He had promoted sound religion and unity, while he discouraged superstition. He had done something for education by ordaining schools, colleges, and libraries, and patronising the teachers of the learning and science of that day. He had matured and defined the great system of feudalism, and introduced method into the laws of his people, and civilization into their manners of life. From him we date the first recognition of the existence of the great European Christian community and republic, with some mutual duties, common interests and principles of action, which among all the changes that have come over it, has never been entirely abolished or forgotten. From his era we trace the rise of feudalism, with all its consequences—the gradation of ranks—the growing attachment to the soil—the respect for women—in short, chivalry in its noblest acceptation.


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