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    IT was by the Franks, under the leadership of Clovis, that the Visigothic monarchy was broken and deprived of its possessions in Gaul, which it had held for nearly a hundred years. Thus, of the Ten Kingdoms, after the Visigoths the Franks were the next in order to make their power predominant, and even supreme.ECE 19.1

    2. As late as “thirty years after the battle of Chalons” the tribes of the Franks who had “settled in Gaul were not yet united as one nation.” “Several tribes, independent one of another, were planted between the Rhine and the Somme; there were some in the environs of Cologne, Calais, Cambrai, even beyond the Seine and as far as Le Mans, on the confines of the Britons.... The two principal Frankish tribes were those of the Salian Franks and the Ripuarian Franks, settled, the latter in the east of Belgica, on the banks of the Moselle and the Rhine; the former toward the West, between the Meuse, the ocean, and the Somme. Meroveus, whose name was perpetuated in his line, was one of the principal chieftains of the Salian Franks; and his son Childeric, who resided in Tournay, where his tomb was discovered in 1655, was the father of Clovis, who succeeded him in 481, and with whom really commenced the kingdom and history of France.”—Guizot. 1[Page 19] “History of France,” chap 7, par. 9.ECE 19.2

    3. As late as A. D. 486 there was a small portion of Gaul, embracing the cities of Rheims, Troyes, Beauvais, Amiens, and the city and diocese of Soissons, which was still fairly Roman, and was ruled by Syagrius, a Roman, under the title of Patrician, or, as some give it, king of the Romans. “The first exploit of Clovis was the defeat of Syagrius,” in A. D. 486, and the reduction of the country which had acknowledged his authority. By this victory all the country of Gaul north of the Moselle, clear to the Seine, was possessed by the Franks. “The Belgic cities surrendered to the king of the Franks; and his dominions were enlarged toward the east by the ample diocese of Tongres, which Clovis subdued in the tenth year of his reign.”—Gibbon. 2[Page 20] Id., “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” chap 37, par. 4.ECE 19.3

    4. Until this time the Franks and the Alemanni had made almost equal progress in Gaul, and had made their conquests in that province, apparently in perfect national friendliness. But now both nations had become so powerful that it was impossible that two such fierce and warlike nations should subsist side by side without an appeal to arms for the decision of the question as to which should have the supremacy.ECE 20.1

    5. “From the source of the Rhine to its conflux with the Main and the Moselle, the formidable swarms of the Alemanni commanded either side of the river by the right of ancient possession, or recent victory. They had spread themselves into Gaul, over the modern provinces of Alsace and Lorraine; and their bold invasion of the kingdom of Cologne summoned the Salic prince to the defense of his Ripuarian allies. Clovis encountered the invaders of Gaul in the plain of Tolbiac [A. D. 496] about twenty-four miles from Cologne, and the two fiercest nations of Germany were mutually animated by the memory of past exploits, and the prospect of future greatness. The Franks, after an obstinate struggle, gave way; and the Alemanni, raising a shout of victory, impetuously pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valor, and the conduct, and perhaps by the piety, of Clovis; and the event of the bloody day decided forever the alternative of empire or servitude. The last king of the Alemanni was slain in the field, and his people were slaughtered, or pursued, till they threw down their arms, and yielded to the mercy of the conqueror. Without discipline it was impossible for them to rally; they had contemptuously demolished the walls and fortifications which might have protected their distress; and they were followed into the heart of their forests by an enemy not less active, or intrepid, than themselves.ECE 20.2

    6. “The great Theodoric congratulated the victory of Clovis, whose sister Albofleda the king of Italy had lately married; but he mildly interceded with his brother in favor of the suppliants and fugitives, who had implored his protection. The Gallic territories, which were possessed by the Alemanni, became the prize of their conqueror; and the haughty nation, invincible, or rebellious, to the arms of Rome, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Merovingian kings, who graciously permitted them to enjoy their peculiar manners and institutions, under the government of official, and, at length, of hereditary dukes.”Gibbon. 3[Page 21] Id., par. 5.ECE 20.3

    7. The defeat of the Burgundians followed that of the Alemanni, A. D. 499. “The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by the course of two Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, extended from the forest of Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles. The scepter was in the hands of Gundobald. That valiant and ambitious prince had reduced the number of royal candidates by the death of two brothers, one of whom was the father of Clotilda; but his imperfect prudence still permitted Godesil, the youngest of his brothers, to possess the dependent principality of Geneva.ECE 21.1

    8. “The allegiance of his brother was already seduced; and the obedience of Godegesil, who joined the royal standard with the troops of Geneva, more effectually promoted the success of the conspiracy. While the Franks and Burgundians contended with equal valor, his seasonable desertion decided the event of the battle; and as Gundobald was faintly supported by the disaffected Gauls, he yielded to the arms of Clovis [A. D. 500], and hastily retreated from the field, which appears to have been situate between Langres and Dijon. He distrusted the strength of Dijon, a quadrangular fortress, encompassed by two rivers, and by a wall thirty feet high, and fifteen thick, with four gates, and thirty-three towers; he abandoned to the pursuit of Clovis the important cities of Lyons and Vienna; and Gundobald still fled with precipitation, till he had reached Avignon, at the distance of two hundred and fifty miles from the field of battle. A long siege and an artful negotiation admonished the king of the Franks of the danger and difficulty of his enterprise. He imposed a tribute on the Burgundian prince, compelled him to pardon and reward his brother’s treachery, and proudly returned to his own dominions, with the spoils and captives of the southern provinces.ECE 21.2

    9. “This splendid triumph was soon clouded by the intelligence that Gundobald had violated his recent obligations, and that the unfortunate Godegesil, who was left at Vienna with a garrison of five thousand Franks, had been besieged, surprised and massacred by his inhuman brother. Such an outrage might have exasperated the patience of the most peaceful sovereign; yet the conqueror of Gaul dissembled the injury, released the tribute, and accepted the alliance and military service of the king of Burgundy. Clovis no longer possessed those advantages which had assured the success of the preceding war, and his rival, instructed by adversity, had found new resources in the affections of his people. The Gauls or Romans applauded the mild and impartial laws of Gundobald, which almost raised them to the same level with their conquerors. The bishops were reconciled and flattered by the hopes, which he artfully suggested, of his approaching conversion; and though he eluded their accomplishment to the last moment of his life, his moderation secured the peace and suspended the ruin of the kingdom of Burgundy.”—Gibbon. 4[Page 22] Id., pars. 8, 9.ECE 21.3

    10. In A. D. 507 Clovis turned his arms against the Visigoths in southwestern Gaul, who were ruled by Alaric II. “At the third hour of the day, about ten miles from Poitiers, Clovis overtook, and instantly attacked, the Gothic army, whose defeat was already prepared by terror and confusion. Yet they rallied in their extreme distress, and the martial youths, who had clamorously demanded the battle, refused to survive the ignominy of flight. The two kings encountered each other in single combat. Alaric fell by the hand of his rival; and the victorious Frank was saved, by the goodness of his cuirass, and the vigor of his horse, from the spears of two desperate Goths, who furiously rode against him to revenge the death of their sovereign. The vague expression of a mountain of the slain serves to indicate a cruel though indefinite slaughter.”—Gibbon. 5[Page 22] Id. par. 12. In A. D. 508 a treaty of peace was made between the two peoples. “The Visigoths were suffered to retain the possession of Septimania, a narrow tract of seacoast, from the Rhone to the Pyrenees; but the ample province of Aquitain, from those mountains to the Loire, was indissolubly united to the kingdom of France.” 6[Page 22] Id.ECE 22.1

    11. In A. D. 510, Anastasius, emperor of the Eastern Empire of Rome, sent to Clovis “at Tours a solemn embassy, bringing to him the titles and insignia of Patrician and Consul. ‘Clovis,’ says Gregory of Tours, put on the tunic of purple and the chlamys and the diadem; then mounting his horse he scattered with his own hand and with much bounty gold and silver amongst the people on the road which lies between the gate of the court belonging to the basilica of St. Martin and the church of the city. From that day he was called Consul and Augustus. On leaving the city of Tours he repaired to Paris, where he fixed the seat of his government.’ECE 22.2

    12. “Paris was certainly the political center of the dominion, the intermediate point between the early settlements of his race and himself in Gaul, and his new Gallic conquests; but he lacked some of the possessions nearest to him.... To the east, north, and southwest of Paris were settled some independent Frankish tribes, governed by chieftains with the name of kings. So soon as he had settled in Paris, it was the one fixed idea of Clovis to reduce them all to subjection. He had conquered the Burgundians and the Visigoths; it remained for him to conquer and unite together all the Franks. The barbarian showed himself in his true colors, during this new enterprise, with his violence, his craft, his cruelty, and his perfidy.” By the basest treachery and by sheer murder he put out of his way the kings of these Frankish tribes; and “so Clovis remained sole king of the Franks: for all the independent chieftains had disappeared.”—Guizot. 7[Page 23] “History of France,” chap 7, pars. 4, 5 from end.ECE 23.1

    13. Clovis died, Nov. 27, 511; and his dominions were divided among his four sons—Theodoric, or Thierry I, Childebert, Clodomir, and Clotaire I. Theodoric, or Thierry I, the eldest son, had the northeastern portion, which lay on both sides of the Rhine, with his capital at Metz. Childebert, the second son, held the central part, the country around Paris, with Paris as his capital. Clodomir, the third son, received western Gaul, along the Loire; and had his capital at Orleans. Clotaire, the youngest son, ruled in the northern part of Gaul, with his capital at Soissons. The Alemanni under the governorship of dukes, belonged with the eastern partition and were tributary to Theodoric. The Burgundians were still ruled by their own kings until 532, when the last Burgundian king, Sigismond, the son of Gundobald, was removed by being buried alive in a deep well, and the Burgundians, too, ruled by dukes, “were still permitted to enjoy their national laws under the obligation of tribute and military service; and the Merovingian princes peaceably reigned over a kingdom, whose glory and greatness had been first overthrown by the arms of Clovis.”—Gibbon. 8[Page 24] “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” chap 38, par. 10.ECE 23.2

    14. The quadruple division of the dominions of Clovis ended in 558 by being merged in the sole rule of Clotaire I, who held the power till his death in 561, when it was again divided into four parts among his four sons—Charibert, king of Paris; Gontran, of Orleans; Sigebert, of Metz; and Chilperic, of Soissons. The Burgundians fell to the portion of Gontran, who left Orleans, and fixed his capital in their country.ECE 24.1

    15. “In 567 Charibert, king of Paris, died, without children, and a new partition left only three kingdoms—Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy. Austrasia, in the east, extended over the two banks of the Rhine, and comprised, side by side with Roman towns and districts, populations that had remained Germanic. [The Alemanni—Suabians—belonged in this division.] Neustria, in the west, was essentially Gallo-Roman, though it comprised in the north the old territory of the Salian Franks, on the borders of the Scheldt. Burgundy was the old kingdom of the Burgundians, enlarged in the north by some few counties. Paris, as having been the residence of Clovis, their common progenitor, “was kept as a sort of neutral city, which none of them could enter without the common consent of all.”—Guizot. 9[Page 24] “History of France,” chap 8, par. 1.ECE 24.2

    16. In A. D. 567-570, the Lombards, who until this time had continued to dwell in Noricum and northern Panmonia, led by their King Alboin, removed to Italy. 10[Page 24] “Great Empires of Prophecy,” chap 44, pars. 17-19. “The victorious Autharis [A. D. 584-590] asserted his claim to the dominion of Italy. At the foot of the Rhaetian Alps, he subdued the resistance, and rifled the hidden treasures, of a sequestered island in the lake of Comum. At the extreme point of Calabria, he touched with his spear a column on the seashore of Rhegium, proclaiming that ancient landmark to stand the immovable boundary of his kingdom.” With the exception of the possessions of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and some cities on the coast, “the remainder of Italy was possessed by the Lombards; and from Pavia, the royal seat, their kingdom was extended to the east, the north, and the west, as far as the confines of the Avars, 11[Page 25] The Avars were a Scythian people of North Central Asia, who entered in the sixth century the territory that is now Hungary. the Bavarians, and the Franks of Austrasia and Burgundy.”Gibbon. 12[Page 25] “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” chap 14, pars. 14, 15.ECE 24.3

    17. “In A. D. 613 new incidents connected with family matters placed Clotaire II, son of Chilperic, and heretofore king of Soissons, in possession of the three kingdoms” of Austrasia, Neustria, and Burgundy. Clotaire II “kept them united until 628 and left them so to his son Dagobert I, who remained in possession of them until 638. At his death a new division of the Frankish dominions took place, no longer into three but two kingdoms: Austrasia being the one, and Neustria and Burgundy the other.”—Guizot. 13[Page 25] “History of France,” chap 8, par. 2.ECE 25.1

    18. In tracing this history farther it is essential to note the rise of a new character in these kingdoms,—the Mayor of the Palace,—which finally developed the era of Charlemagne. The last king of the line of Clovis, who displayed or possessed any of the characteristics of a king was Dagobert I. After his death in A. D. 638, the kings dwindled into insignificance, if not idiocy, and the Mayors of the Palace assumed sole authority, yet always in the name of the “do-nothing” kings; and the struggle for supremacy was kept up between the mayors, as it had been before by the kings. Finally, in A. D. 687, Pepin of Heristal, Mayor of the Palace, of Austrasia defeated Berthar, mayor of Neustria, at the battle of Testry, and so brought the contest virtually to an end. “From that time to the end of his life, in A. D. 714, Pepin of Heristal was unquestioned master of all Franks, the kings under him being utterly insignificant.” Pepin of Heristal was succeeded by his son Charles, who in A. D. 732 won the name of Martel—the Hammer—by the crushing defeat which he gave to the Saracens under Abdel-Rahman at the battle of Tours.ECE 25.2

    19. Charles Martel died Oct. 22, 741, and left his dominions divided between his two sons, Pepin the Short, and Carloman. Pepin had Neustria, Burgundy, Provence, and the suzerainty of Aquitaine. Carloman had Austrasia, Thuringia, and Allemannia. Each, however, with only the title of Mayor of the Palace. In 746 Carloman abdicated his power, left his dominions to Pepin, had Pope Zachary to make him a monk, and shut himself up in the monastery of Monte Casino. Thus in 747 Pepin the Short found himself sole master of all the heritage of Clovis, but still with only the title of Mayor of the Palace. At last in 751 he decided to put an end to the fiction. He sent an embassy to the pope to consult him “on the subject of the kings then existing amongst the Franks, and who bore only the name of king without enjoying a tittle of royal authority.” The pope, who had been already posted on the matter, answered that “it was better to give the title of king to him who exercised the sovereign power.” Accordingly the next year in March, 752, “in the presence and with the assent of the general assembly” at Soissons, Pepin was proclaimed king of the Franks, and received from the hand of St. Boniface the sacred anointing. “At the head of the Franks, as Mayor of the Palace from 741, and as king from 752, Pepin had completed in France and extended in Italy the work which his father Charles Martel had begun and carried on from 714 to 741 in State and Church. He left France reunited in one and placed at the head of Christian Europe.”—Guizot. 14[Page 26] “History of France,” chap 9. He died at the monastery of St. Denis, Sept. 18, 768.ECE 25.3

    20. Pepin, like his father, left his dominions to two sons, Charles and Carloman; but in 771 Carloman died, leaving Charles sole king, who, by his remarkable ability, became Charles the Great—CHARLEMAGNE. “The appellation of great has often been bestowed and sometimes deserved, but CHARLEMAGNE is the only prince in whose favor the title has been indissolubly blended with the name.... The dignity of his person, the length of his reign, the prosperity of his arms, the vigor of his government, and the reverence of distant nations, distinguish him from the royal crowd; and Europe dates a new era from his restoration of the Western Empire.”—Gibbon. 15[Page 26] “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” chap 49, par. 21.ECE 26.1

    21. It seems almost certain that Charlemagne really aspired to the restoration of the Roman Empire. But one life was too short, and there was no second Charlemagne. Besides this, the prophetic word was written that when once Rome was divided into its ten parts, they should not be made to cleave one to another any more than could iron and clay.ECE 26.2

    22. Charlemagne reigned forty-six years—forty-three from the death of Carloman—thirty-three of which were spent in almost ceaseless wars. He conducted, in all, fifty-three expeditions—thirty-one against the Saxons, Frisons, Danes, Slavs, Bavarians, and the Avars in southern Germany, Bohemia, Noricum, and Pannonia; five against the Lombards, in Italy; twelve against the Saracens, in Spain, Corsica, and Sardinia; two against the Greeks; and three in Gaul itself against the Aquitanians and the Britons. Thus Saxony, Bohemia, Bavaria, Pannonia; the Lombard kingdom of Italy as far as the duchy of Beneventum; that part of Spain between the Pyrenees and the river Ebro; Burgundy, Alemannia, and all Gaul, were subject to Charlemagne.ECE 26.3

    23. He already wore the iron crown of Lombardy, in addition to bearing the kingship of all the Frankish dominions; and on Christmas day, 800, in the church of St. Peter, Pope Leo III placed a precious crown upon the head of this mighty king, while the great dome resounded with the acclamations of the people: “Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God the great and pacific emperor of the Romans.” “And when in 801 an embassy arrived with curious presents from Harun-al-Rashid, the great caliph who held in the East the like position to that held by Charles in the West, men recognized it as a becoming testimony to the world-wide reputation of the Frankish monarchy.” “For fourteen years, with less of fighting and more of organization, Charles the Great proved that he was worthy of his high title and revived office of emperor of the West.”ECE 27.1

    24. But this honor, this power, and this glory were short-lived. Charlemagne died at Aix-la-Chapelle, Jan. 28, 814, and the unity of the empire which he had formed was at an end. “Like more than one great barbaric warrior, he admired the Roman Empire that had fallen,—its vastness all in one and its powerful organization under the hand of a single master. He thought he could resuscitate it, durably, through the victory of a new people and a new faith, by the hand of Franks and Christians. With this view he labored to conquer, convert, and govern. He tried to be, at one and the same time, Caesar, Augustus, and Constantine. And for a moment he appeared to have succeeded; but the appearance passed away with himself. The unity of the empire and the absolute power of the emperor were buried in his grave.”—Guizot. 16[Page 27] “History of France,” chap 11, end.ECE 27.2

    25. Charlemagne was succeeded by his only surviving son, Louis the Pious, or Easy, upon whom he had fixed the succession in 813, about six months before his death. Louis passed his life in a struggle with an ambitious second wife, and three undutiful sons, who by constant rebellions abused his natural gentleness and goodness. In the quarrels and jealousies of his sons he was twice deposed and twice restored; and perhaps only escaped a third deposition, by his death, June 20, 840. This set his sons free to wrangle among themselves, which they did till the fearful battle of Fontanet, June 25, 841; and the treaty of Verdun, August, 843, put an end to their mutual struggles and “to the griefs of the age.” Lothair, the eldest son, retained the title of emperor; and received the Italian territory, with a long, narrow strip stretching from the Gulf of Lyons to the North Sea, bounded on the east by the Alps and the Rhine, and on the west by the Rhone, the Saone, the Meuse, and the Scheldt. Charles the Bald had all the rest of Gaul. Louis the German received Alemannia and all the rest of the German lands east of the Rhine, with the towns of Mainz, Worms, and Spires, on the western bank of that river.ECE 28.1

    26. This division, though counted as marking the real beginning of the history of France and Germany as separate kingdoms, continued but a short time. For the emperor Lothair died in 855, and was succeeded in his possessions to the north of Italy by Lothair II, who died in 869, when Charles the Bald seized upon his territory. But Louis the German disputed his seizure of the whole prize, and in 870 they signed the treaty of Mersen by which Louis became possessed of most of Lotharingia, or, as it was now called, Lorraine; Charles the Bald the rest of it; and Lothair’s brother, Louis II, was allowed to retain the possessions of his father in Italy. Louis II died in 875, and Charles the Bald managed to secure the imperial crown, and aimed at the possession of the whole empire with it. But Louis the German, at his death in 876, had divided Germany among his three sons,—Carlman, Louis, and Charles,—the second of whom, Louis, met Charles the Bald on the field of Andernach, and gained such a victory over him as not only to put an effectual damper upon his imperial aspirations, but to force him to give up the portions of Lorraine that had been ceded to his father by the treaty of Mersen. Carlman and Louis both soon died, and the German kingdom passed to Charles surnamed “the Fat,” the youngest of the three sons of Louis the German.ECE 28.2

    27. Charles the Fat, incompetent, indolent, and gluttonous, became, without any effort of his own, sovereign of all the dominions of Charlemagne, except Burgundy, which now became again an independent state. Alemannia—Swabia—he inherited from his father in 876; by the death of his brother Carlman, he received Bavaria, and became king of Italy, in 880; he was crowned emperor in 881; the death of his brother Louis of Saxony gave him all the rest of the Germanic possessions; and as Charles the Bald had died in 877, and had no successor who could relieve France from the scourge of the Northmen, Charles the Fat was invited to become the king of France, at the death of Carloman in 885. But instead of boldly meeting the Northmen with an army, he adopted the policy of buying off these bold savages who had plundered Cologne and Treves, and had fed their horses over the very grave and in the beautiful basilica of Charlemagne. And when they laid siege to Paris and Charles still pursued the same cowardly course, his disgusted subjects under the leadership of his nephew Arnulf, deposed him in 887, and in a week or two afterward he died. Charles the Fat was the last ruler who ever reigned over both France and Germany. After his deposition, the history of these two countries is distinct.ECE 29.1

    28. At the time of the deposition of Charles the Fat, France proper was already broken up into “twenty-nine provinces or fragments of provinces which had become petty states, the former governors of which, under the names of dukes, counts, marquises, and viscounts, were pretty nearly real sovereigns. Twenty-nine great fiefs, which have played a special part in French history, date back to this epoch.”—Guizot. 17[Page 29] “History of France,” chap 13, par. 2. This divided condition of things prevented any systematic defense of the land against the Norman invasions, which like wave after wave of a mighty tide flooded the land. After Charles the Fat had so signally failed them in their struggle against the Normans, the states of France chose from among themselves to be central ruler and king, Eudes, count of Paris. Before Charles the Fat had come to Paris with his army only to buy off the Normans, Eudes had demonstrated his ability and valor, in the defense of Paris against the terrible siege pressed by the Normans led by Rolf; and he was now, A. D. 888, rewarded with the position and title of king.ECE 29.2

    29. The Northmen—Nor’men, Nor’man, Normans—were people of the far north: first of Scandinavia in general, later more especially of Norway. Their invasions of France began even in the time of Charlemagne. For when Charlemagne one day “arrived by mere hap and unexpectedly in a certain town of Narbonnese Gaul, whilst he was at dinner and was as yet unrecognized by any, some corsairs of the Northmen came to ply their piracies in the very port. When their vessels were descried, they were supposed to be Jewish traders according to some, African according to others, and British in the opinions of others; but the gifted monarch, perceiving by the build and lightness of the craft, that they bore not merchandise, but foes, said to his own folks: ‘These vessels be not laden with merchandise, but manned with cruel foes.’ At these words all the Franks, in rivalry one with another, ran to their ships, but uselessly, for the Northmen ...feared lest all their fleet should be taken or destroyed in the port, and they avoided, by a flight of inconceivable rapidity, not only the glaives, but even the eyes, of those who were pursuing them.ECE 30.1

    30. “Pious Charles, however, a prey to well-grounded fear, rose up from the table, stationed himself at a window looking eastward, and there remained a long while, and his eyes were filled with tears. As none durst question him, this warlike prince explained to the grandees who were about his person, the cause of his movement and of his tears: ‘Know ye, my lieges, wherefore I weep so bitterly? Of a surety I fear not lest these fellows should succeed in injuring me by their miserable piracies; but it grieveth me deeply that, whilst I live, they should have been nigh to touching at this shore; and I am a prey to violent sorrow when I foresee what evils they will heap upon my descendants and their people.’”ECE 30.2

    31. “The forecast and the dejection of Charles were not unreasonable. It will be found that there is special mention made, in the Chronicles of the ninth and tenth centuries, of forty-seven incursions into France, of Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Irish pirates, all comprised under the name of Northmen; and, doubtless, many other incursions of less gravity have left no trace in history.”—Guizot. 18[Page 30] “History of France,” chap 12, pars. 3-5. It was one of the greatest of these invasions, led by Rollo, or Rolf, that resulted in the raising of Eudes, count of Paris, to the kingship in 888. When questioned by a messenger of the Franks, as to their intentions, Rollo answered: “We be Danes; and all be equally masters amongst us. We be come to drive out the inhabitants of this land, and subject it as our own country.” 19[Page 31] Id., par. 10.ECE 30.3

    32. The contest between Eudes and Rollo was variable; but with the general gain in favor of the Normans. This because Rollo showed himself friendly to the people not found in arms, and treated gently those in the towns and country which he gained. Thus not only were the Franks kept from uniting solidly against the Normans, but some of the divisions were actually won to co-operation with them. In addition to this successful policy toward the people of France, Rollo held the lasting friendship of Alfred the Great, and his successor, Athelstane, of England. “He thus became, from day to day, more reputable as well as more formidable in France, insomuch that Eudes himself was obliged to have recourse, in dealing with him, to negotiations and presents.” 20[Page 31] Id., par. 14.ECE 31.1

    33. The provinces of southern France had not acknowledged Eudes as king. When he had quieted the Normans, Eudes ventured an attempt to compel the southern provinces to acknowledge him as king. Then the southern lords united with the disaffected parties in the northern provinces, held at Rheims in 893 “a great assembly,” and elected as rival king, Charles the Simple. He placed himself under the protection of the Emperor Arnulf, of whose house he was; and Arnulf “formally invested him with the kingdom of France, and sent soldiers to assert his claims.” In 898 Eudes died, and Charles the Simple was recognized sole king of France.ECE 31.2

    34. By this time, Rollo with his Normans had grown to be such a power in France “that the necessity of treating with him was clear. In 911 Charles, by advice of his councilors and, amongst them, of Robert, brother of the late king Eudes, who had himself become count of Paris and duke of France, sent to the chieftain of the Northmen Franco, archbishop of Rouen, with orders to offer him the cession of a considerable portion of Neustria and the hand of his young daughter Gisele, on condition that he become a Christian and acknowledge himself the king’s vassal. Rollo, by the advice of his comrades, received these overtures with a good grace; and agreed to a truce for three months, during which they might treat about peace.”—Guizot. 21[Page 32] “History of France,” chap 12, par. 14. At the end of the three months the Normans had concluded to accept in general the king’s offer. A day was fixed for the formal settlement of the terms of the proposed arrangement. Rollo insisted on receiving much more territory than King Charles had originally offered. This, with all other matters, was made satisfactory to him and his warriors; and then came the fulfillment of their part of the compact—their baptism, and Rollo’s swearing fealty as vassal of the king. Rollo and his warriors were formally baptized, Rollo receiving the name of Robert; and duly receiving in marriage the king’s daughter Gisele.ECE 31.3

    35. Then came the swearing of fealty. This was a ceremony which, in those times, was performed “whenever there was a change either of the overlord or of the underlord. The duke, count, or whatever he was, knelt down before the overlord; and, holding his hands, swore to follow him in war, and to be true to him always. The overlord, in his turn, swore to aid him and be a true and good lord to him in return, and kissed his brow. In return, the underlord—vassal, as he was called—was to kiss the foot of his superior. This was paying homage. Kings thus paid homage and swore allegiance to the emperor; dukes or counts, to kings; lesser counts or barons, to dukes; and for the lands they owned they were bound to serve their lord in council and in war, and not to fight against him. Lands so held were called fiefs; and the whole was called the feudal system.”—Yonge. 22[Page 32] “The World’s Great Nations,” French History, chap 9, par. 3. The ceremony passed off all smoothly enough until it came to the point where Rollo should kiss the king’s foot. This Rollo omitted. The bishops told him that one “who received such a gift as the duchy of Normandy, was bound to kiss the king’s foot.” But Rollo bluntly answered: “Never will I bend the knee before the knees of any; and I will kiss the foot of none.”ECE 32.1

    36. However, at the special request of the Franks, and rather than to make a breach in the compact, Rollo consented that the king’s foot should be kissed; but only by one of his warriors, and so gave order to one standing by. The tall Northman, instead of kneeling and reverently performing the ceremony, simply stooped and seized the king’s foot, and, standing “bolt upright,” lifted it to his lips: with the result that the king, with his throne and all, was upset backward: “which caused great bursts of laughter and much disturbance amongst the throng. Then the king and all the grandees who were about him—prelates, abbots, dukes, and counts—swore, in the name of the Catholic faith, that they would protect the patrician Rollo in his life, his members, and his folk, and would guarantee to him the possession of the aforesaid land, to him and his descendants forever. After which the king, well-satisfied, returned to his domains; and Rollo departed with Duke Robert for the town of Rouen.” 23[Page 33] Guizot’s “History of France,” chap 12, par. 14.ECE 32.2

    37. Thus arose the duchy of Normandy, whose dukes and people played such a large part in the history of the later Middle Ages. There “the history of Normandy began. Hrolf becomes Duke Robert, his people become Frenchmen. The duchy soon grew into a compact and orderly state, prosperous and vigorous; Norman towns and churches sprang up on all hands; French manners and speech soon ruled supreme; and in all the arts of peace, in building, commerce, letters, the Normans forthwith took the lead. The noble Scandinavian race, destined to influence so large a portion of the world’s history, herein made worthy mark on the soil and institutions of France.ECE 33.1

    38. “Soon after this time the French lords, headed by Robert, duke of France, the ‘king of the barons,’ second son of Robert the Strong, rose against their Caroling king [A. D. 922], and shut him up in Laon, the last stronghold of his family; thence he fled into Lorraine. On the death of Robert, the barons made Rodolf of Burgundy their king, and continued the strife; and Charles, falling into the hands of Hubert of Vermandois, was held by him as a hostage till his death in 929. Rodolf then became undisturbed king till he, too, died in 936. The barons under the guidance of Hugh ‘the White’ or ‘the Great,’ son of Robert, the greatest man of his age, sent over to England for Louis the son of Charles, who had been carried thither by his mother for safety. This is that ‘Louis d’Outremer’—’Louis from Over-sea’—who now became king. After showing unusual vigor in a struggle with Otho the Great of Germany, who claimed the kingship over France, he was recognized by all in 941.ECE 33.2

    39. “His reign could be nothing but the miserable record of a struggle against the great lords, Hugh the Great and Richard of Normandy. In this perpetual and wearisome strife he spent his latter days, and died, still a young man, in 954. He was the only man of energy among all the later Carolings. His son Lothair succeeded. His was a long and inglorious reign, ending in 986. His son Louis followed, ruling for a single year. He died childless in 987; and the only heir to the throne—if the feudal lords chose to recognize an hereditary claim—was his uncle, Charles, duke of Lorraine. The barons did not choose to be so tied. They set the Caroling prince aside, and elected Hugh, duke of France, to be king. He was afterward solemnly crowned at Rheims by Archbishop Adalberon. Thus did Hugh Capet, founder of a great dynasty, come to the throne. With him begins the true history of the kingdom of France: we have reached the epoch of the feudal monarchy.” 24[Page 34] Encyclopedia Britannica, art: “France,” history, “Charles the Simple.”ECE 34.1

    40. “Hugh Capet, eldest son of Hugh the Great, duke of France, was but a Neustrian noble when he was elected king. The house of the Carolings was entirely set aside, its claims and rights denied, by the new force now growing up, the force of feudalism. The head of the barons should be one of themselves; he should stand clear of the imperial ideas and ambitions which had ruled the conduct of his predecessors; he should be a Frenchman in speech and birth and thought, and not a German; but above all, he must be strong enough to hold his own. And among the great lords of northern France, the representative of the house of Robert the Strong held the most central position, and united in himself most elements of strength.” 25[Page 34] Id. That the king should be strong enough to hold his own, was indeed the greatest need, if there were to be any king of France at all. We have seen that at the time of the deposition of Charles the Fat, exactly a hundred years before, France was broken up into twenty-nine petty states. But at the time of the election of Hugh Capet, 987, the number of petty states had increased to fifty-five. And the temper of their rulers is aptly indicated in the reply that one of them, Adalbert, count of Pergord, once made to Hugh Capet himself after he had been made king. In a tone of superiority, Hugh had asked: “Who made thee count?” Quick as a flash, Adalbert darted back the words: “Who made thee king?”ECE 34.2

    41. “It was a confederation of petty sovereigns, of petty despots, unequal amongst themselves, and having, one toward another, certain duties and rights; but invested in their own domains, over their personal and direct subjects, with arbitrary and absolute power. This is the essential element of the feudal system: therein it differs from every other aristocracy, every other form of government. There has been no scarcity, in this world, of aristocracies and despotisms. There have been peoples arbitrarily governed, nay, absolutely possessed, by a single man, by a college of priests, by a body of patricians. But none of these despotic governments was like the feudal system....ECE 35.1

    42. “Liberty, equality, and tranquillity were all alike wanting, from the tenth to the thirteenth century, to the inhabitants of each lord’s domains: their sovereign was at their very doors, and none of them was hidden from him or beyond the reach of his mighty arm. Of all tyrannies, the worst is that which can thus keep account of its subjects; and which sees from its seat, the limits of its empire. The caprices of the human will then show themselves in all their intolerable extravagance and, moreover, with irresistible promptness. It is then, too, that inequality of conditions makes itself more rudely felt: riches, might, independence, every advantage and every right present themselves every instant to the gaze of misery, weakness, and servitude. The inhabitants of fiefs could not find consolation in the bosom of tranquillity: incessantly mixed up in the quarrels of their lord, a prey to his neighbors’ devastations, they led a life still more precarious and still more restless than that of the lords themselves, and they had to put up at one and the same time with the presence of war, privilege, and absolute power.”—Guizot. 26[Page 35] “History of France,” chap 13, pars. 11-13.ECE 35.2

    43. Politically, feudalism might be defined as the system which made the owner of a piece of land, whether large or small, the sovereign of those who dwelt thereon: an annexation of personal to territorial authority more familiar to Easter despotism than to the free races of primitive Europe. On this principle were founded, and by it are explained, feudal law and justice, feudal finance, feudal legislation, each tenant holding toward his lord the position which his own tenants held toward himself. And it is just because the relation was so uniform, the principle so comprehensive, the ruling class so firmly bound to its support, that feudalism has been able to lay upon society that grasp which the struggles of more than twenty generations have scarcely shaken off.”—Bryce. 27[Page 36] “The Holy Roman Empire.” chap 8, par. 3.ECE 35.3

    44. From this point onward to the period of the Reformation, the history of France is so wrapped up in contentions with the papacy, with the Crusades, and with the “Hundred Years’ War” with England, that it is not necessary to treat it any further separately. The dynasty founded in the election of Hugh Capet continues even to-day, in certain claimants to the throne of France, if only that throne were restored.ECE 36.1

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