Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the Renaissance Period.
By Paul Lacroix (Bibliophile Jacob), Curator of the Imperial Library of the Arsenal, Paris.
Illustrated with Nineteen Chromolithographic Prints by F. Kellerhoven and upwards of Four Hundred Engravings on Wood.
The several successive editions of "The Arts of the Middle Ages and Period of the Renaissance" sufficiently testify to its appreciation by the public. The object of that work was to introduce the reader to a branch of learning to which access had hitherto appeared only permitted to the scientific. That attempt, which was a bold one, succeeded too well not to induce us to push our researches further. In fact, art alone cannot acquaint us entirely with an epoch. "The arts, considered in their generality, are the true expressions of society. They tell us its tastes, its ideas, and its character." We thus spoke in the preface to our first work, and we find nothing to modify in this opinion. Art must be the faithful expression of a society, since it represents it by its works as it has created them—undeniable witnesses of its spirit and manners for future generations. But it must be acknowledged that art is only the consequence of the ideas which it expresses; it is the fruit of civilisation, not its origin. To understand the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it is necessary to go back to the source of its art, and to know the life of our fathers; these are two inseparable things, which entwine one another, and become complete one by the other.
The Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages:—this subject is of the greatest interest, not only to the man of science, but to the man of the world also. In it, too, "we retrace not only one single period, but two periods quite distinct one from the other." In the first, the public and private customs offer a curious mixture of barbarism and civilisation. We find barbarian, Roman, and Christian customs and character in presence of each other, mixed up in the same society, and very often in the same individuals. Everywhere the most adverse and opposite tendencies display themselves. What an ardent struggle during that long period! and how full, too, of emotion is its picture! Society tends to reconstitute itself in every aspect. She wants to create, so to say, from every side, property, authority, justice, &c., &c., in a word, everything which can establish the basis of public life; and this new order of things must be established by means of the elements supplied at once by the barbarian, Roman, and Christian world—a prodigious creation, the working of which occupied the whole of the Middle Ages. Hardly does modern society, civilised by Christianity, reach the fullness of its power, than it divides itself to follow different paths. Ancient art and literature resuscitates because custom insensibly takes that direction. Under that influence, everything is modified both in private and public life. The history of the human race does not present a subject more vast or more interesting. It is a subject we have chosen to succeed our first book, and which will be followed by a similar study on the various aspects of Religious and Military Life.
This work, devoted to the vivid and faithful description of the Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, answers fully to the requirements of contemporary times. We are, in fact, no longer content with the chronological narration and simple nomenclatures which formerly were considered sufficient for education. We no longer imagine that the history of our institutions has less interest than that of our wars, nor that the annals of the humbler classes are irrelevant to those of the privileged orders. We go further still. What is above all sought for in historical works nowadays is the physiognomy, the inmost character of past generations. "How did our fathers live?" is a daily question. "What institutions had they? What were their political rights? Can you not place before us their pastimes, their hunting parties, their meals, and all sorts of scenes, sad or gay, which composed their home life? We should like to follow them in public and private occupations, and to know their manner of living hourly, as we know our own."
In a high order of ideas, what great facts serve as a foundation to our history and that of the modern world! We have first royalty, which, weak and debased under the Merovingians, rises and establishes itself energetically under Pepin and Charlemagne, to degenerate under Louis le Debonnaire and Charles le Chauve. After having dared a second time to found the Empire of the Caesars, it quickly sees its sovereignty replaced by feudal rights, and all its rights usurped by the nobles, and has to struggle for many centuries to recover its rights one by one.
Feudalism, evidently of Germanic origin, will also attract our attention, and we shall draw a rapid outline of this legislation, which, barbarian at the onset, becomes by degrees subject to the rules of moral progress. We shall ascertain that military service is the essence itself of the "fief," and that thence springs feudal right. On our way we shall protest against civil wars, and shall welcome emancipation and the formation of the communes. Following the thousand details of the life of the people, we shall see the slave become serf, and the serf become peasant. We shall assist at the dispensation of justice by royalty and nobility, at the solemn sittings of parliaments, and we shall see the complicated details of a strict ceremonial, which formed an integral part of the law, develop themselves before us. The counters of dealers, fairs and markets, manufactures, commerce, and industry, also merit our attention; we must search deeply into corporations of workmen and tradesmen, examining their statutes, and initiating ourselves into their business. Fashion and dress are also a manifestation of public and private customs; for that reason we must give them particular attention.
And to accomplish the work we have undertaken, we are lucky to have the conscientious studies of our old associates in the great work of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to assist us: such as those of Emile Begin, Elzear Blaze, Depping, Benjamin Guerard, Le Roux de Lincy, H. Martin, Mary-Lafon, Francisque Michel, A. Monteil, Rabutau, Ferdinand Sere, Horace de Viel-Castel, A. de la Villegille, Vallet de Viriville.
As in the volume of the Arts of the Middle Ages, engraving and chromo-lithography will come to our assistance by reproducing, by means of strict fac-similes, the rarest engravings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the most precious miniatures of the manuscripts preserved in the principal libraries of France and Europe. Here again we have the aid of the eminent artist, M. Kellerhoven, who quite recently found means of reproducing with so much fidelity the gems of Italian painting.
Paul Lacroix (Bibliophile Jacob).
Table of Contents.
Condition of Persons and Lands
Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle Ages.—Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.—Fusion organized under Charlemagne.—Royal Authority.—Position of the Great Feudalists.—Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to Landed Possessions.—Freeman and Tenants.—The Laeti, the Colon, the Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower Classes.—Formation of Communities.—Right of Mortmain.
Privileges and Rights (Feudal and Municipal)
Elements of Feudalism.—Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe-Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.—Immunity of the Feudalists.—Dues from the Nobles to their Sovereign.—Law and University Dues.—Curious Exactions resulting from the Universal System of Dues.—Struggles to enfranchise the Classes subjected to Dues.—Feudal Spirit and Citizen Spirit.—Resuscitation of the System of Ancient Municipalities in Italy, Germany, and France.—Municipal Institutions and Associations.—The Community.—The Middle-Class Cities (Cites Bourgeoises).—Origin of National Unity.
Private Life in the Castles, the Towns, and the Rural Districts
The Merovingian Castles.—Pastimes of the Nobles: Hunting, War.—Domestic Arrangements.—Private Life of Charlemagne.—Domestic Habits under the Carlovingians.—Influence of Chivalry.—Simplicity of the Court of Philip Augustus not imitated by his Successors.—Princely Life of the Fifteenth Century.—The bringing up of Latour Landry, a Noble of Anjou.—Varlets, Pages, Esquires, Maids of Honour.—Opulence of the Bourgeoisie.—"Le Menagier de Paris."—Ancient Dwellings.—State of Rustics at various Periods.—"Rustic Sayings," by Noel du Fail.
Food and Cookery
History of Bread.—Vegetables and Plants used in Cooking.—Fruits.—Butchers' Meat.—Poultry, Game.—Milk, Butter, Cheese, and Eggs.—Fish and Shellfish.—Beverages: Beer, Cider, Wine, Sweet Wine, Refreshing Drinks, Brandy.—Cookery.—Soups, Boiled Food, Pies, Stews, Salads, Roasts, Grills.—Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar, Verjuice.—Sweets, Desserts, Pastry,—Meals and Feasts.—Rules of Serving at Table from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries.
Venery and Hawking.—Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle.—Gaston Phoebus and his Book.—The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen.—Sporting Societies and Brotherhoods.—Sporting Kings: Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XI., Charles VIII., Louis XII., Francis I., &c.—Treatise on Venery.—Sporting Popes.—Origin of Hawking.—Training Birds.—Hawking Retinues.—Book of King Modus.—Technical Terms used in Hawking.—Persons who have excelled in this kind of Sport.—Fowling.
Games and Pastimes
Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.—Games of the Circus.—Animal Combats.—Daring of King Pepin.—The King's Lions.—Blind Men's Fights.—Cockneys of Paris.—Champ de Mars.—Cours Plenieres and Cours Couronnees.—Jugglers, Tumblers, and Minstrels.—Rope-dancers.—Fireworks.—Gymnastics.—Cards and Dice.—Chess, Marbles, and Billiards.—La Soule, La Pirouette, &c.—Small Games for Private Society.—History of Dancing.—Ballet des Ardents.—The "Orchesographie" (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arbeau.—List of Dances.
State of Commerce after the Fall of the Roman Empire; its Revival under the Frankish Kings; its Prosperity under Charlemagne; its Decline down to the Time of the Crusaders.—The Levant Trade of the East.—Flourishing State of the Towns of Provence and Languedoc.—Establishment of Fairs.—Fairs of Landit, Champagne, Beaucaire, and Lyons.—Weights and Measures.—Commercial Flanders.—Laws of Maritime Commerce.—Consular Laws.—Banks and Bills of Exchange.—French Settlements on the Coast of Africa.—Consequences of the Discovery of America.
Guilds and Trade Corporations
Uncertain Origin of Corporations.—Ancient Industrial Associations.—The Germanic Guild.—Colleges.—Teutonic Associations.—The Paris Company for the Transit of Merchandise by Water.—Corporations properly so called.—Etienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," or the First Code of Regulations.—The Laws governing Trades.—Public and Private Organization of Trades Corporations and other Communities.—Energy of the Corporations.—Masters, Journeymen, Supernumeraries, and Apprentices.—Religious Festivals and Trade Societies.—Trade Unions.
Taxes, Money, and Finance
Taxes under the Roman Rule.—Money Exactions of the Merovingian Kings.—Varieties of Money.—Financial Laws under Charlemagne.—Missi Dominici.—Increase of Taxes owing to the Crusades.—Organization of Finances by Louis IX.—Extortions of Philip lo Bel.—Pecuniary Embarrassment of his Successors.—Charles V. re-establishes Order in Finances.—Disasters of France under Charles VI., Charles VII., and Jacques Coeur.—Changes in Taxation from Louis XI. to Francis I.—The Great Financiers.—Florimond Robertet.
Law and the Administration of Justice
The Family the Origin of Government.—Origin of Supreme Power amongst the Franks.—The Legislation of Barbarism humanised by Christianity.—Right of Justice inherent to the Right of Property.—The Laws under Charlemagne.—Judicial Forms.—Witnesses.—Duels, &c.—Organization of Royal Justice under St. Louis.—The Chatelet and the Provost of Paris.—Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its Responsibilities.—The Bailiwicks.—Struggles between Parliament and the Chatelet.—Codification of the Customs and Usages.—Official Cupidity.—Comparison between the Parliament and the Chatelet.
The Old Man of the Mountain and his Followers in Syria.—The Castle of Alamond, Paradise of Assassins.—Charlemagne the Founder of Secret Tribunals amongst the Saxons.—The Holy Vehme.—Organization of the Tribunal of the Terre Rouge, and Modes adopted in its Procedures.—Condemnations and Execution of Sentences.—The Truth respecting the Free Judges of Westphalia.—Duration and Fall of the Vehmie Tribunal.—Council of Ten, in Venice; its Code and Secret Decisions.—End of the Council of Ten.
Refinements of Penal Cruelty.—Tortures for different Purposes.—Water, Screw-boards, and the Rack.—The Executioner.—Female Executioners.—Tortures.—Amende Honorable.—Torture of Fire, Real and Feigned.—Auto-da-fe.—Red-hot Brazier or Basin.—Beheading.—Quartering.—The Wheel.—Garotting.—Hanging.—The Whip.—The Pillory.—The Arquebuse.—Tickling.—Flaying.—Drowning.—Imprisonment.—Regulations of Prisons.—The Iron Cage.—"The Leads" of Venice.
Dispersion of the Jews.—Jewish Quarters in the Mediaeval Towns.—The Ghetto of Rome.—Ancient Prague.—The Giudecca of Venice.—Condition of the Jews; Animosity of the People against them; Vexations Treatment and Severity of the Sovereigns.—The Jews of Lincoln.—The Jews of Blois.—Mission of the Pastoureaux.—Extermination of the Jews.—The Price at which the Jews purchased Indulgences.—Marks set upon them.—Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and Financial Aptitude of the Jews.—Regulations respecting Usury as practised by the Jews.—Attachment of the Jews to their Religion.
Gipsies, Tramps, Beggars, and Cours des Miracles
First Appearance of Gipsies in the West.—Gipsies in Paris.—Manners and Customs of these Wandering Tribes.—Tricks of Captain Charles.—Gipsies expelled by Royal Edict.—Language of Gipsies.—The Kingdom of Slang.—The Great Coesre, Chief of the Vagrants; his Vassals and Subjects.—Divisions of the Slang People; its Decay, and the Causes thereof.—Cours des Miracles.—The Camp of Rogues.—Cunning Language, or Slang.—Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets.
Origin of Modern Ceremonial.—Uncertainty of French Ceremonial up to the End of the Sixteenth Century.—Consecration of the Kings of France.—Coronation of the Emperors of Germany.—Consecration of the Doges of Venice.—Marriage of the Doge with the Sea.—State Entries of Sovereigns.—An Account of the Entry of Isabel of Bavaria into Paris.—Seats of Justice.—Visits of Ceremony between Persons of Rank.—Mourning.—Social Courtesies.—Popular Demonstrations and National Commemorations—New Year's Day.—Local Festivals.—Vins d'Honneur.—Processions of Trades.
Influence of Ancient Costume.—Costume in the Fifteenth Century.—Hair.—Costumes in the Time of Charlemagne.—Origin of Modern National Dress.—Head-dresses and Beards: Time of St. Louis.—Progress of Dress: Trousers, Hose, Shoes, Coats, Surcoats, Capes.—Changes in the Fashions of Shoes and Hoods.—Livree.—Cloaks and Capes.—Edicts against Extravagant Fashions.—Female Dress: Gowns, Bonnets, Head-dresses, &c.—Disappearance of Ancient Dress.—Tight-fitting Gowns.—General Character of Dress under Francis I.—Uniformity of Dress.
Table of Illustrations.
1. The Queen of Sheba before Solomon. Fac-simile of a Miniature from the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.
2. The Court of Marie of Anjou, Wife of Charles VII. Fac-simile of a Miniature from the "Douze Perilz d'Enfer." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.
3. Louis XII. leaving Alexandria, on the 24th April, 1507, to chastise the City of Genoa. From a Miniature in the "Voyage de Genes" of Jean Marot.
4. A Young Mother's Retinue. Miniature from a Latin "Terence" of Charles VI. Costumes of the Fourteenth Century.
5. Table Service of a Lady of Quality. Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Roman de Renaud de Montauban." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.
6. Ladies Hunting. From a Miniature in a Manuscript Copy of "Ovid's Epistles." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.
7. A Court Fool. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century.
8. The Chess-players. After a Miniature of the "Three Ages of Man." (End of the Fifteenth Century.)
9. Martyrdom of SS. Crispin and Crepinien. From a Window in the Hopital des Quinze-Vingts (Fifteenth Century).
10. Settlement of Accounts by the Brotherhood of Charite-Dieu, Rouen, in 1466. A Miniature from the "Livre des Comptes" of this Society (Fifteenth Century).
11. Decapitation of Guillaume de Pommiers and his Confessor at Bordeaux in 1377 ("Chroniques de Froissart").
12. The Jews' Passover. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Missal of the Fifteenth Century of the School of Van Eyck.
13. Entry of Charles VII. into Paris. A Miniature from the "Chroniques d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Costumes of the Sixteenth Century.
14. St. Catherine surrounded by the Doctors of Alexandria. A Miniature from the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.
15. Italian Lace-work, in Gold-thread. The Cypher and Arms of Henri III. (Sixteenth Century).
Aigues-Mortes, Ramparts of the Town of Alms Bag, Fifteenth Century Amende honorable before the Tribunal America, Discovery of Anne of Brittany and the Ladies of her Court Archer, in Fighting Dress, Fifteenth Century Armourer Arms of Louis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy Arms, Various, Fifteenth Century
Bailiwick Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's Bailiff, Sixteenth Century Baker, The, Sixteenth Century Balancing, Feats of, Thirteenth Century Ballet, Representation of a, before Henri III. and his Court Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne " " La Rochelle " Corporation of Bakers of Arras " " Bakers of Paris " " Boot and Shoe Makers of Issoudun " Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Montmedy " Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Tonnerre " Drapers of Caen " Harness-makers of Paris " Nail-makers of Paris " Pastrycooks of Caen " " La Rochelle " " Tonnerre " Tanners of Vie " Tilers of Paris " Weavers of Toulon " Wheelwrights of Paris Banquet, Grand, at the Court of France Barber Barnacle Geese Barrister, Fifteenth Century Basin-maker Bastille, The Bears and other Beasts, how they may be caught with a Dart Beggar playing the Fiddle Beheading Bell and Canon Caster Bird-catching, Fourteenth Century Bird-piping, Fourteenth Century Blind and Poor Sick of St. John, Fifteenth Century Bob Apple, The Game of Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece, Thirteenth Century Bourbon, Constable de, Trial of, before the Peers of France Bourgeois, Thirteenth Century Brandenburg, Marquis of Brewer, The, Sixteenth Century Brotherhood of Death, Member of the Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, from a Window of the Fifteenth Century Burgess at Meals Burgesses with Hoods, Fourteenth Century Burning Ballet, The Butcher, The, Sixteenth Century Butler at his Duties
Cards for a Game of Piquet, Sixteenth Century Carlovingian King in his Palace Carpenter, Fifteenth Century Carpenter's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece, Fifteenth Century Cast to allure Beasts Castle of Alamond, The Cat-o'-nine-tails Celtic Monument (the Holy Ox) Chamber of Accounts, Hotel of the Chandeliers in Bronze, Fourteenth Century Charlemagne, The Emperor " Coronation of " Dalmatica and Sandals of " receiving the Oath of Fidelity from one of his great Barons " Portrait of Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receiving the News of the Death of his Father Charles V. and the Emperor Charles IV., Interview between Chateau-Gaillard aux Andelys Chatelet, The Great Cheeses, The Manufacture of, Sixteenth Century Chilperic, Tomb of, Eleventh Century Clasp-maker Cloth to approach Beasts, How to carry a Cloth-worker Coins, Gold Merovingian, 628-638 " Gold, Sixth and Seventh Centuries " " Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries " Gold and Silver, Thirteenth Century " " Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries " Silver, Eighth to Eleventh Centuries Cologne, View of, Sixteenth Century Comb in Ivory, Sixteenth Century Combat of a Knight with a Dog, Thirteenth Century Companion Carpenter, Fifteenth Century Cook, The, Sixteenth Century Coppersmith, The, Sixteenth Century Corn-threshing and Bread-making, Sixteenth Century Costume of Emperors at their Coronation since the Time of Charlemagne " King Childebert, Seventh Century " King Clovis, Sixth Century " Saints in the Sixth to Eighth Century " Prelates, Eighth to Tenth Century " a Scholar of the Carlovingian Period
Costume of a Scholar, Ninth Century " a Bishop or Abbot, Ninth Century " Charles the Simple, Tenth Century " Louis le Jeune " a Princess " William Malgeneste, the King's Huntsman " an English Servant, Fourteenth Century " Philip the Good " Charles V., King of France " Jeanne de Bourbon " Charlotte of Savoy " Mary of Burgundy " the Ladies of the Court of Catherine de Medicis " a Gentleman of the French Court, Sixteenth Century " the German Bourgeoisie, Sixteenth Century Costumes, Italian, Fifteenth Century Costumes of the Thirteenth Century " the Common People, Fourteenth Century " a rich Bourgeoise, of a Peasant-woman, and of a Lady of the Nobility, Fourteenth Century " a Young Nobleman and of a Bourgeois, Fourteenth Century " a Bourgeois or Merchant, of a Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court or rich Bourgeoise, Fifteenth Century " a Mechanic's Wife and a rich Bourgeois, Fifteenth Century " Young Noblemen of the Court of Charles VIII " a Nobleman, a Bourgeois, and a Noble Lady, of the time of Louis XII " a rich Bourgeoise and a Nobleman, time of Francis I Counter-seal of the Butchers of Bruges in 1356 Country Life Cour des Miracles of Paris Court Fool " of Love in Provence, Fourteenth Century " of the Nobles, The " Supreme, presided over by the King " of a Baron, The " Inferior, in the Great Bailiwick Courtiers amassing Riches at the Expense of the Poor, Fourteenth Century Courts of Love in Provence, Allegorical Scene of, Thirteenth Century Craftsmen, Fourteenth Century Cultivation of Fruit, Fifteenth Century " Grain, and Manufacture of Barley and Oat Bread
Dance called "La Gaillarde" " of Fools, Thirteenth Century " by Torchlight Dancers on Christmas Night David playing on the Lyre Dealer in Eggs, Sixteenth Century Deer, Appearance of, and how to hunt them with Dogs Deputies of the Burghers of Ghent, Fourteenth Century Dice-maker Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine Doge of Venice, Costume of the, before the Sixteenth Century " in Ceremonial Costume of the Sixteenth Century " Procession of the Dog-kennel, Fifteenth Century Dogs, Diseases of, and their Cure, Fourteenth Century Dortmund, View of, Sixteenth Century Drille, or Narquois, Fifteenth Century Drinkers of the North, The Great Druggist Dues on Wine Dyer
Edict, Promulgation of an Elder and Juror, Ceremonial Dress of an Elder and Jurors of the Tanners of Ghent Eloy, St., Signature of Empalement Entry of Louis XI. into Paris Equestrian Performances, Thirteenth Century Estrapade, The, or Question Extraordinary Executions Exhibitor of Strange Animals
Falcon, How to train a New, Fourteenth Century " How to bathe a New Falconer, Dress of the, Thirteenth Century " German, Sixteenth Century Falconers, Thirteenth Century " dressing their Birds, Fourteenth Century Falconry, Art of, King Modus teaching the, Fourteenth Century " Varlets of, Fourteenth Century Families, The, and the Barbarians Fight between a Horse and Dogs, Thirteenth Century Fireworks on the Water Fish, Conveyance of, by Water and Land Flemish Peasants, Fifteenth Century Franc, Silver, Henry IV. Franks, Fourth to Eighth Century " King or Chief of the, Ninth Century " King of the, dictating the Salic Law Fredegonde giving orders to assassinate Sigebert, from a Window of the Fifteenth Century Free Judges Funeral Token
Gallo-Roman Costumes Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of Venery German Beggars " Knights, Fifteenth Century " Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century " Sportsman, Sixteenth Century Ghent, Civic Guard of Gibbet of Montfaucon, The Gipsies Fortune-telling " on the March Gipsy Encampment " Family, A " who used to wash his Hands in Molten Lead Goldbeater Goldsmith Goldsmiths of Ghent, Names and Titles of some of the Members of the Corporation of, Fifteenth Century " Group of, Seventeenth Century. Grain-measurers of Ghent, Arms of the Grape, Treading the Grocer and Druggist, Shop of a, Seventeenth Century
Hanging to Music Hare, How to allure the Hatter Hawking, Lady setting out, Fourteenth Century Hawks, Young, how to make them fly, Fourteenth Century Hay-carriers, Sixteenth Century Herald, Fourteenth Century Heralds, Lodge of the Heron-hawking, Fourteenth Century Hostelry, Interior of an, Sixteenth Century Hotel des Ursins, Paris, Fourteenth Century Hunting-meal
Imperial Procession Infant Richard, The, crucified by the Jews at Pontoise Irmensul and Crodon, Idols of the Ancient Saxons Iron Cage Issue de Table, The Italian Beggar " Jew, Fourteenth Century " Kitchen, Interior of " Nobleman, Fifteenth Century
Jacques Coeur, Amende honorable of, before Charles VII " House of, at Bourges Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of Paris, and Michelle de Vitry, his Wife (Reign of Charles VI.) Jerusalem, View and Plan of Jew, Legend of a, calling the Devil from a Vessel of Blood Jewish Ceremony before the Ark " Conspiracy in France " Procession Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children " of Cologne burnt alive, The " Expulsion of the, in the Reign of the Emperor Hadrian " Secret Meeting of the John the Baptist, Decapitation of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, Assassination of Judge, Fifteenth Century Judicial Duel, The Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and Bears, Thirteenth Century " performing in Public, Thirteenth Century
King-at-Arms presenting the Sword to the Duc de Bourbon King's Court, The, or Grand Council, Fifteenth Century Kitchen, Interior of a, Sixteenth Century. " and Table Utensils Knife-handles in Ivory, Sixteenth Century Knight in War-harness Knight and his Lady, Fourteenth Century Knights and Men-at-Arms of the Reign of Louis le Gros
Labouring Colons, Twelfth Century Lambert of Liege, St., Chimes of the Clock of Landgrave of Thuringia and his Wife Lawyer, Sixteenth Century Leopard, Hunting with the, Sixteenth Century Lubeck and its Harbour, View of, Sixteenth Century
Maidservants, Dress of, Thirteenth Century Mallet, Louis de, Admiral of France Mark's Place, St., Venice, Sixteenth Century Marseilles and its Harbour, View and Plan of, Sixteenth Century Measurers of Corn, Paris, Sixteenth Century Measuring Salt Merchant Vessel in a Storm Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople Merchants of Rouen, Medal to commemorate the Association of the Merchants of Rouen, Painting commemorative of the Union of, Seventeenth Century Merchants or Tradesmen, Fourteenth Century Metals, The Extraction of Miller, The, Sixteenth Century Mint, The, Sixteenth Century Musician accompanying the Dancing
New-born Child, The Nicholas Flamel, and Pernelle, his Wife, from a Painting of the Fifteenth Century Nobility, Costumes of the, from the Seventh to the Ninth century " Ladies of the, in the Ninth Century Noble Ladies and Children, Dress of, Fourteenth Century Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, Fourteenth Century Noble of Provence, Fifteenth Century Nobleman hunting Nogent-le-Rotrou, Tower of the Castle of Nut-crackers, Sixteenth Century
Occupations of the Peasants Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the Imperial Court Oil, the Manufacture of, Sixteenth Century Old Man of the Mountain, The Olifant, or Hunting-horn, Fourteenth Century " " details of Orphaus, Gallois, and Family of the Grand Coesre, Fifteenth Century
Palace, The, Sixteenth Century Palace of the Doges, Interior Court of the Paris, View of Partridges, Way to catch Paying Toll on passing a Bridge Peasant Dances at the May Feasts Pheasant-fowling, Fourteenth Century Philippe le Bel in War-dress Pillory, View of the, in the Market-place of Paris, Sixteenth Century Pin and Needle Maker Ploughmen. Fac-simile of a Miniature in very ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript Pond Fisherman, The Pont aux Changeurs, View of the ancient Pork-butcher, The, Fourteenth Century Poulterer, The, Sixteenth Century Poultry-dealer, The Powder-horn, Sixteenth Century Provost's Prison, The Provostship of the Merchants of Paris, Assembly of the, Sixteenth Century Punishment by Fire, The Purse or Leather Bag, with Knife or Dagger, Fifteenth Century
Receiver of Taxes, The Remy, St., Bishop of Rheirns, begging of Clovis the restitution of the Sacred Vase, Fifteenth Century River Fishermen, The, Sixteenth Century Roi de l'Epinette, Entry of the, at Lille Roman Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century Royal Costume Ruffes and Millards, Fifteenth Century
Sainte-Genevieve, Front of the Church of the Abbey of Sale by Town-Crier Salt-cellar, enamelled, Sixteenth Century Sandal or Buskin of Charlemagne Saxony, Duke of Sbirro, Chief of Seal of the Bateliers of Bruges in 1356 " Corporation of Carpenters of St. Trond (Belgium) " Corporation of Clothworkers of Bruges " Corporation of Fullers of St. Trond " Corporation of Joiners of Bruges " " Shoemakers of St. Trond " Corporation of Wool-weavers of Hasselt " Free Count Hans Vollmar von Twern " Free Count Heinrich Beckmann " " Herman Loseckin " " Johann Croppe " King Chilperic " United Trades of Ghent, Fifteenth Century Seat of Justice held by Philippe de Valois Secret Tribunal, Execution of the Sentences of the Semur, Tower of the Castle of Serf or Vassal, Tenth Century Serjeants-at-Arms, Fourteenth Century Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the Messiah Shoemaker Shops under Covered Market, Fifteenth Century Shout and blow Horns, How to Simon, Martyrdom of, at Trent Slaves or Serfs, Sixth to Twelfth Century Somersaults Sport with Dogs, Fourteenth Century Spring-board, The Spur-maker Squirrels, Way to catch Stag, How to kill and cut up a, Fifteenth Century Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of Rouen, Fifteenth Century Stall of Carved Wood, Fifteenth Century Standards of the Church and the Empire State Banquet, Sixteenth Century Stoertebeck, Execution of Styli, Fourteenth Century Swineherd Swiss Grand Provost Sword-dance to the Sound of the Bagpipe, Fourteenth Century Sword-maker
Table of a Baron, Thirteenth Century Tailor Talebot the Hunchback Tinman Tithe of Beer, Fifteenth Century Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Antwerp Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Maestricht Toll under the Bridges of Paris Toll on Markets, levied by a Cleric, Fifteenth Century Torture of the Wheel, Demons applying the Tournaments in Honour of the Entry of Queen Isabel into Paris Tower of the Temple, Paris Trade on the Seaports of the Levant, Fifteenth Century Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of Camels
University of Paris, Fellows of the, haranguing the Emperor Charles IV.
Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd, Fifteenth Century View of Alexandria, Sixteenth Century Village Feast, Sixteenth Century Village pillaged by Soldiers Villain, the Covetous and Avaricious Villain, the Egotistical and Envious Villain or Peasant, Fifteenth Century Villain receiving his Lord's Orders Vine, Culture of the Vintagers, The, Thirteenth Century Votive Altar of the Nautes Parisiens
Water Torture, The Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at Mans, Sixteenth Century Whale Fishing William, Duke of Normandy, Eleventh Century Winegrower, The Wire-worker Wolves, how they may be caught with a Snare Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, Fifteenth Century Women of the Court, Sixth to Tenth Century Woodcock, Mode of catching a, Fourteenth Century
Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the Renaissance Period.
Condition of Persons and Lands.
Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle Ages.—Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.—Fusion organized under Charlemagne.—Royal Authority.—Position of the Great Feudalists.—Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to Landed Possessions.—Freemen and Tenants.—The Laeti, the Colon, the Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower Classes.—Formation of Communities.—Right of Mortmain.
The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guerard, is the produce of Pagan civilisation, of Germanic barbarism, and of Christianity. It began in 476, on the fall of Agustulus, and ended in 1453, at the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II., and consequently the fall of two empires, that of the West and that of the East, marks its duration. Its first act, which was due to the Germans, was the destruction of political unity, and this was destined to be afterwards replaced by religions unity. Then we find a multitude of scattered and disorderly influences growing on the ruins of central power. The yoke of imperial dominion was broken by the barbarians; but the populace, far from acquiring liberty, fell to the lowest degrees of servitude. Instead of one despot, it found thousands of tyrants, and it was but slowly and with much trouble that it succeeded in freeing itself from feudalism. Nothing could be more strangely troubled than the West at the time of the dissolution of the Empire of the Caesars; nothing more diverse or more discordant than the interests, the institutions, and the state of society, which were delivered to the Germans (Figs. 1 and 2). In fact, it would be impossible in the whole pages of history to find a society formed of more heterogeneous or incompatible elements. On the one side might be placed the Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, Germans, Franks, Saxons, and Lombards, nations, or more strictly hordes, accustomed to rough and successful warfare, and, on the other, the Romans, including those people who by long servitude to Roman dominion had become closely allied with their conquerors (Fig. 3). There were, on both sides, freemen, freedmen, colons, and slaves; different ranks and degrees being, however, observable both in freedom and servitude. This hierarchical principle applied itself even to the land, which was divided into freeholds, tributary lands, lands of the nobility, and servile lands, thus constituting the freeholds, the benefices, the fiefs, and the tenures. It may be added that the customs, and to a certain degree the laws, varied according to the masters of the country, so that it can hardly be wondered at that everywhere diversity and inequality were to be found, and, as a consequence, that anarchy and confusion ruled supreme.
The Germans (Fig. 4) had brought with them over the Rhine none of the heroic virtues attributed to them by Tacitus when he wrote their history, with the evident intention of making a satire on his countrymen. Amongst the degenerate Romans whom those ferocious Germans had subjugated, civilisation was reconstituted on the ruins of vices common in the early history of a new society by the adoption of a series of loose and dissolute habits, both by the conquerors and the conquered.
In fact, the conquerors contributed the worse share (Fig. 5); for, whilst exercising the low and debasing instincts of their former barbarism, they undertook the work of social reconstruction with a sort of natural and innate servitude. To them, liberty, the desire for which caused them to brave the greatest dangers, was simply the right of doing evil—of obeying their ardent thirst for plunder. Long ago, in the depths of their forests, they had adopted the curious institution of vassalage. When they came to the West to create States, instead of reducing personal power, every step in their social edifice, from the top to the bottom, was made to depend on individual superiority. To bow to a superior was their first political principle; and on that principle feudalism was one day to find its base.
Servitude was in fact to be found in all conditions and ranks, equally in the palace of the sovereign as in the dwellings of his subjects. The vassal who was waited on at his own table by a varlet, himself served at the table of his lord; the nobles treated each other likewise, according to their rank; and all the exactions which each submitted to from his superiors, and required to be paid to him by those below him, were looked upon not as onerous duties, but as rights and honours. The sentiment of dignity and of personal independence, which has become, so to say, the soul of modern society, did not exist at all, or at least but very slightly, amongst the Germans. If we could doubt the fact, we have but to remember that these men, so proud, so indifferent to suffering or death, would often think little of staking their liberty in gambling, in the hope that if successful their gain might afford them the means of gratifying some brutal passion.
When the Franks took root in Gaul, their dress and institutions were adopted by the Roman society (Fig. 6). This had the most disastrous influence in every point of view, and it is easy to prove that civilisation did not emerge from this chaos until by degrees the Teutonic spirit disappeared from the world. As long as this spirit reigned, neither private nor public liberty existed. Individual patriotism only extended as far as the border of a man's family, and the nation became broken up into clans. Gaul soon found itself parcelled off into domains which were almost independent of one another. It was thus that Germanic genius became developed.
The advantages of acting together for mutual protection first established itself in families. If any one suffered from an act of violence, he laid the matter before his relatives for them jointly to seek reparation. The question was then settled between the families of the offended person and the offender, all of whom were equally associated in the object of vindicating a cause which interested them alone, without recognising any established authority, and without appealing to the law. If the parties had sought the protection or advice of men of power, the quarrel might at once take a wider scope, and tend to kindle a feud between two nobles. In any case the King only interfered when the safety of his person or the interests of his dominions were threatened.
Penalties and punishments were almost always to be averted by a money payment. A son, for instance, instead of avenging the death of his father, received from the murderer a certain indemnity in specie, according to legal tariff; and the law was thus satisfied.
The tariff of indemnities or compensations to be paid for each crime formed the basis of the code of laws amongst the principal tribes of Franks, a code essentially barbarian, and called the Salic law, or law of the Salians (Fig. 7). Such, however, was the spirit of inequality among the German races, that it became an established principle for justice to be subservient to the rank of individuals. The more powerful a man was, the more he was protected by the law; the lower his rank, the less the law protected him.
The life of a Frank, by right, was worth twice that of a Roman; the life of a servant of the King was worth three times that of an ordinary individual who did not possess that protecting tie. On the other hand, punishment was the more prompt and rigorous according to the inferiority of position of the culprit. In case of theft, for instance, a person of importance was brought before the King's tribunal, and as it respected the rank held by the accused in the social hierarchy, little or no punishment was awarded. In the case of the same crime by a poor man, on the contrary, the ordinary judge gave immediate sentence, and he was seized and hung on the spot.
Inasmuch as no political institutions amongst the Germans were nobler or more just than those of the Franks and the other barbaric races, we cannot accept the creed of certain historians who have represented the Germans as the true regenerators of society in Europe. The two sources of modern civilisation are indisputably Pagan antiquity and Christianity.
After the fall of the Merovingian kings great progress was made in the political and social state of nations. These kings, who were but chiefs of undisciplined bands, were unable to assume a regal character, properly so called. Their authority was more personal than territorial, for incessant changes were made in the boundaries of their conquered dominions. It was therefore with good reason that they styled themselves kings of the Franks, and not kings of France.
Charlemagne was the first who recognised that social union, so admirable an example of which was furnished by Roman organization, and who was able, with the very elements of confusion and disorder to which he succeeded, to unite, direct, and consolidate diverging and opposite forces, to establish and regulate public administrations, to found and build towns, and to form and reconstruct almost a new world (Fig. 8). We hear of him assigning to each his place, creating for all a common interest, making of a crowd of small and scattered peoples a great and powerful nation; in a word, rekindling the beacon of ancient civilisation. When he died, after a most active and glorious reign of forty-five years, he left an immense empire in the most perfect state of peace (Fig. 9). But this magnificent inheritance was unfortunately destined to pass into unworthy or impotent hands, so that society soon fell back into anarchy and confusion. The nobles, in their turn invested with power, were continually at war, and gradually weakened the royal authority—the power of the kingdom—by their endless disputes with the Crown and with one another.
The revolution in society which took place under the Carlovingian dynasty had for its especial object that of rendering territorial what was formerly personal, and, as it were, of destroying personality in matters of government.
The usurpation of lands by the great having been thus limited by the influence of the lesser holders, everybody tried to become the holder of land. Its possession then formed the basis of social position, and, as a consequence, individual servitude became lessened, and society assumed a more stable condition. The ancient laws of wandering tribes fell into disuse; and at the same time many distinctions of caste and race disappeared, as they were incompatible with the new order of things. As there were no more Salians, Ripuarians, nor Visigoths among the free men, so there were no more colons, laeti, nor slaves amongst those deprived of liberty.
Heads of families, on becoming attached to the soil, naturally had other wants and other customs than those which they had delighted in when they were only the chiefs of wandering adventurers. The strength of their followers was not now so important to them as the security of their castles. Fortresses took the place of armed bodies; and at this time, every one who wished to keep what he had, entrenched himself to the best of his ability at his own residence. The banks of rivers, elevated positions, and all inaccessible heights, were occupied by towers and castles, surrounded by ditches, which served as strongholds to the lords of the soil. (Figs. 10 and 11). These places of defence soon became points for attack. Out of danger at home, many of the nobles kept watch like birds of prey on the surrounding country, and were always ready to fall, not only upon their enemies, but also on their neighbours, in the hope either of robbing them when off their guard, or of obtaining a ransom for any unwary traveller who might fall into their hands. Everywhere society was in ambuscade, and waged civil war—individual against individual—without peace or mercy. Such was the reign of feudalism. It is unnecessary to point out how this system of perpetual petty warfare tended to reduce the power of centralisation, and how royalty itself was weakened towards the end of the second dynasty. When the descendants of Hugh Capet wished to restore their power by giving it a larger basis, they were obliged to attack, one after the other, all these strongholds, and practically to re-annex each fief, city, and province held by these petty monarchs, in order to force their owners to recognise the sovereignty of the King. Centuries of war and negotiations became necessary before the kingdom of France could be, as it were, reformed.
The corporations and the citizens had great weight in restoring the monarchical power, as well as in forming French nationality; but by far the best influence brought to bear in the Middle Ages was that of Christianity. The doctrine of one origin and of one final destiny being common to all men of all classes constantly acted as a strong inducement for thinking that all should be equally free. Religious equality paved the way for political equality, and as all Christians were brothers before God, the tendency was for them to become, as citizens, equal also in law.
This transformation, however, was but slow, and followed concurrently the progress made in the security of property. At the onset, the slave only possessed his life, and this was but imperfectly guaranteed to him by the laws of charity; laws which, however, year by year became of greater power. He afterwards became colon, or labourer (Figs. 13 and 14), working for himself under certain conditions and tenures, paying fines, or services, which, it is true, were often very extortionate. At this time he was considered to belong to the domain on which he was born, and he was at least sure that that soil would not be taken from him, and that in giving part of his time to his master, he was at liberty to enjoy the rest according to his fancy. The farmer afterwards became proprietor of the soil he cultivated, and master, not only of himself, but of his lands; certain trivial obligations or fines being all that was required of him, and these daily grew less, and at last disappeared altogether. Having thus obtained a footing in society, he soon began to take a place in provincial assemblies; and he made the last bound on the road of social progress, when the vote of his fellow-electors sent him to represent them in the parliament of the kingdom. Thus the people who had begun by excessive servitude, gradually climbed to power.
We will now describe more in detail the various conditions of persons of the Middle Ages.
The King, who held his rights by birth, and not by election, enjoyed relatively an absolute authority, proportioned according to the power of his abilities, to the extent of his dominions, and to the devotion of his vassals. Invested with a power which for a long time resembled the command of a general of an army, he had at first no other ministers than the officers to whom he gave full power to act in the provinces, and who decided arbitrarily in the name of, and representing, the King, on all questions of administration. One minister alone approached the King, and that was the chancellor, who verified, sealed, and dispatched all royal decrees and orders.
As early, however, as the seventh century, a few officers of state appeared, who were specially attached to the King's person or household; a count of the palace, who examined and directed the suits brought before the throne; a mayor of the palace, who at one time raised himself from the administration of the royal property to the supreme power; an arch-chaplain, who presided over ecclesiastical affairs; a lord of the bedchamber, charged with the treasure of the chamber; and a count of the stables, charged with the superintendence of the stables.
For all important affairs, the King generally consulted the grandees of his court; but as in the five or six first centuries of monarchy in France the royal residence was not permanent, it is probable the Council of State was composed in part of the officers who followed the King, and in part of the noblemen who came to visit him, or resided near the place he happened to be inhabiting. It was only under the Capetians that the Royal Council took a permanent footing, or even assembled at stated periods.
In ordinary times, that is to say, when he was not engaged in war, the King had few around him besides his family, his personal attendants, and the ministers charged with the dispatch of affairs. As he changed from one of his abodes to another he only held his court on the great festivals of the year.
Up to the thirteenth century, there was, strictly speaking, no taxation and no public treasury. The King received, through special officers appointed for the purpose, tributes either in money or in kind, which were most variable, but often very heavy, and drawn almost exclusively from his personal and private properties. In cases of emergency only, he appealed to his vassals for pecuniary aid. A great number of the grandees, who lived far from the court, either in state offices or on their own fiefs, had establishments similar to that of the King. Numerous and considerable privileges elevated them above other free men. The offices and fiefs having become hereditary, the order of nobility followed as a consequence; and it then became highly necessary for families to keep their genealogical histories, not only to gratify their pride, but also to give them the necessary titles for the feudal advantages they derived by birth. (Fig. 15). Without this right of inheritance, society, which was still unsettled in the Middle Ages, would soon have been dissolved. This great principle, sacred in the eyes both of great and small, maintained feudalism, and in so doing it maintained itself amidst all the chaos and confusion of repeated revolutions and social disturbances.
We have already stated, and we cannot sufficiently insist upon this important point, that from the day on which the adventurous habits of the chiefs of Germanic origin gave place to the desire for territorial possessions, the part played by the land increased insensibly towards defining the position of the persons holding it. Domains became small kingdoms, over which the lord assumed the most absolute and arbitrary rights. A rule was soon established, that the nobility was inherent to the soil, and consequently that the land ought to transmit to its possessors the rights of nobility.
This privilege was so much accepted, that the long tenure of a fief ended by ennobling the commoner. Subsequently, by a sort of compensation which naturally followed, lands on which rent had hitherto been paid became free and noble on passing to the possession of a noble. At last, however, the contrary rule prevailed, which caused the lands not to change quality in changing owners: the noble could still possess the labourers's lands without losing his nobility, but the labourer could be proprietor of a fief without thereby becoming a noble.
To the comites, who, according to Tacitus, attached themselves to the fortunes of the Germanic chiefs, succeeded the Merovingian leudes, whose assembly formed the King's Council. These leudes were persons of great importance owing to the number of their vassals, and although they composed his ordinary Council, they did not hesitate at times to declare themselves openly opposed to his will.
The name of leudes was abandoned under the second of the then French dynasties, and replaced by that of fideles, which, in truth soon became a common designation of both the vassals of the Crown and those of the nobility.
Under the kings of the third dynasty, the kingdom was divided into about one hundred and fifty domains, which were called great fiefs of the crown, and which were possessed in hereditary right by the members of the highest nobility, placed immediately under the royal sovereignty and dependence.
Vassals emanating directly from the King, were then generally designated by the title of barons, and mostly possessed strongholds. The other nobles indiscriminately ranked as chevaliers or cnights, a generic title, to which was added that of banneret, The fiefs of hauberk were bound to supply the sovereign with a certain number of knights covered with coats of mail, and completely armed. All knights were mounted in war (Fig. 16); but knights who were made so in consequence of their high birth must not be confounded with those who became knights by some great feat in arms in the house of a prince or high noble, nor with the members of the different orders of chivalry which were successively instituted, such as the Knights of the Star, the Genet, the Golden Fleece, Saint-Esprit, St. John of Jerusalem, &c. Originally, the possession of a benefice or fief meant no more than the privilege of enjoying the profits derived from the land, a concession which made the holder dependent upon the proprietor. He was in fact his "man," to whom he owed homage (Fig. 17), service in case of war, and assistance in any suit the proprietor might have before the King's tribunal. The chiefs of German bands at first recompensed their companions in arms by giving them fiefs of parts of the territory which they had conquered; but later on, everything was equally given to be held in fief, namely, dignities, offices, rights, and incomes or titles.
It is important to remark (and it is in this alone that feudalism shows its social bearing), that if the vassal owed obedience and devotion to his lord, the lord in exchange owed protection to the vassal. The rank of "free man" did not necessarily require the possession of land; but the position of free men who did not hold fiefs was extremely delicate and often painful, for they were by natural right dependent upon those on whose domain they resided. In fact, the greater part of these nobles without lands became by choice the King's men, and remained attached to his service. If this failed them, they took lands on lease, so as to support themselves and their families, and to avoid falling into absolute servitude. In the event of a change of proprietor, they changed with the land into new hands. Nevertheless, it was not uncommon for them to be so reduced as to sell their freedom; but in such cases, they reserved the right, should better times come, of re-purchasing their liberty by paying one-fifth more than the sum for which they had sold it.
We thus see that in olden times, as also later, freedom was more or less the natural consequence of the possession of wealth or power on the part of individuals or families who considered themselves free in the midst of general dependence. During the tenth century, indeed, if not impossible, it was at least difficult to find a single inhabitant of the kingdom of France who was not "the man" of some one, and who was either tied by rules of a liberal order, or else was under the most servile obligations.
The property of the free men was originally the "aleu," which was under the jurisdiction of the royal magistrates. The aleu gradually lost the greater part of its franchise, and became liable to the common charges due on lands which were not freehold.
In ancient times, all landed property of a certain extent was composed of two distinct parts: one occupied by the owner, constituted the domain or manor; the other, divided between persons who were more or less dependent, formed what were called tenures. These tenures were again divided according to the position of those who occupied them: if they were possessed by free men, who took the name of vassals, they were called benefices or fiefs; if they were let to laeti, colons, or serfs, they were then called colonies or demesnes.
The laeti occupied a rank between the colon and the serf. They had less liberty than the colon, over whom the proprietor only had an indirect and very limited power. The colon only served the land, whilst the laeti, whether agriculturists or servants, served both the land and the owner (Fig. 18). They nevertheless enjoyed the right of possession, and of defending themselves, or prosecuting by law. The serf, on the contrary, had neither city, tribunal, nor family. The laeti had, besides, the power of purchasing their liberty when they had amassed sufficient for the purpose.
Serfs occupied the lowest position in the social ladder (Fig. 19). They succeeded to slaves, thus making, thanks to Christianity, a step towards liberty. Although the civil laws barely protected them, those of the Church continually stepped in and defended them from arbitrary despotism. The time came when they had no direct masters, and when the almost absolute dependence of serfs was changed by the nobles requiring them to farm the land and pay tithes and fees. And lastly, they became farmers, and regular taxes took the place of tithes and fees.
The colons, laeti, and serfs, all of whom were more or less tillers of the soil, were, so to speak, the ancestors of "the people" of modern times; those who remained devoted to agriculture were the ancestors of our peasants; and those who gave themselves up to trades and commerce in the towns, were the originators of the middle classes.
As early as the commencement of the third royal dynasty we find in the rural districts, as well as in the towns, a great number of free men: and as the charters concerning the condition of lands and persons became more and more extended, the tyranny of the great was reduced, and servitude decreased. During the following centuries, the establishment of civic bodies and the springing up of the middle classes (Fig. 20) made the acquisition of liberty more easy and more general. Nevertheless, this liberty was rather theoretical than practical; for if the nobles granted it nominally, they gave it at the cost of excessive fines, and the community, which purchased at a high price the right of self-administration, did not get rid of any of the feudal charges imposed upon it.
Fortunately for the progress of liberty, the civic bodies, as if they had been providentially warned of the future in store for them, never hesitated to accept from their lords, civil or ecclesiastical, conditions, onerous though they were, which enabled them to exist in the interior of the cities to which they belonged. They formed a sort of small state, almost independent for private affairs, subject to the absolute power of the King, and more or less tied by their customs or agreements with the local nobles. They held public assemblies and elected magistrates, whose powers embraced both the administration of civil and criminal justice, police, finance, and the militia. They generally had fixed and written laws. Protected by ramparts, each possessed a town-hall (hotel de ville), a seal, a treasury, and a watch-tower, and it could arm a certain number of men, either for its own defence or for the service of the noble or sovereign under whom it held its rights.
In no case could a community such as this exist without the sanction of the King, who placed it under the safeguard of the Crown. At first the kings, blinded by a covetous policy, only seemed to see in the issue of these charters an excellent pretext for extorting money. If they consented to recognise them, and even to help them against their lords, it was on account of the enormous sacrifices made by the towns. Later on, however, they affected, on the contrary, the greatest generosity towards the vassals who wished to incorporate themselves, when they had understood that these institutions might become powerful auxiliaries against the great titulary feudalists; but from the reign of Louis XI., when the power of the nobles was much diminished, and no longer inspired any terror to royalty, the kings turned against their former allies, the middle classes, and deprived them successively of all the prerogatives which could prejudice the rights of the Crown.
The middle classes, it is true, acquired considerable influence afterwards by participation in the general and provincial councils. After having victoriously struggled against the clergy and nobility, in the assemblies of the three states or orders, they ended by defeating royalty itself.
Louis le Gros, in whose orders the style or title of bourgeois first appears (1134), is generally looked upon as the founder of the franchise of communities in France; but it is proved that a certain number of communities or corporations were already formally constituted, before his accession to the throne.
The title of bourgeois was not, however, given exclusively to inhabitants of cities. It often happened that the nobles, with the intention of improving and enriching their domains, opened a kind of asylum, under the attractive title of Free Towns, or New Towns, where they offered, to all wishing to establish themselves, lands, houses, and a more or less extended share of privileges, rights, and liberties. These congregations, or families, soon became boroughs, and the inhabitants, though agriculturists, took the name of bourgeois.
There was also a third kind of bourgeois, whose influence on the extension of royal power was not less than that of the others. There were free men who, under the title of bourgeois of the King (bourgeois du Roy), kept their liberty by virtue of letters of protection given them by the King, although they were established on lands of nobles whose inhabitants were deprived of liberty. Further, when a vilain—that is to say, the serf, of a noble—bought a lease of land in a royal borough, it was an established custom that after having lived there a year and a day without being reclaimed by his lord and master, he became a bourgeois of the King and a free man. In consequence of this the serfs and vilains (Fig. 21) emigrated from all parts, in order to profit by these advantages, to such a degree, that the lands of the nobles became deserted by all the serfs of different degrees, and were in danger of remaining uncultivated. The nobility, in the interests of their properties, and to arrest this increasing emigration, devoted themselves to improving the condition of persons placed under their dependence, and attempted to create on their domains boroughs analogous to those of royalty. But however liberal these ameliorations might appear to be, it was difficult for the nobles not only to concede privileges equal to those emanating from the throne, but also to ensure equal protection to those they thus enfranchised. In spite of this, however, the result was that a double current of enfranchisement was established, which resulted in the daily diminution of the miserable order of serfs, and which, whilst it emancipated the lower orders, had the immediate result of giving increased weight and power to royalty, both in its own domains and in those of the nobility and their vassals.
These social revolutions did not, of course, operate suddenly, nor did they at once abolish former institutions, for we still find, that after the establishment of communities and corporations, several orders of servitude remained.
At the close of the thirteenth century, on the authority of Philippe de Beaumanoir, the celebrated editor of "Coutumes de Beauvoisis," there were three states or orders amongst the laity, namely, the nobleman (Fig. 22), the free man, and the serf. All noblemen were free, but all free men were not necessarily noblemen. Generally, nobility descended from the father and franchise from the mother. But according to many other customs of France, the child, as a general rule, succeeded to the lower rank of his parents. There were two orders of serfs: one rigorously held in the absolute dependence of his lord, to such a degree that the latter could appropriate during his life, or after death if he chose, all he possessed; he could imprison him, ill-treat him as he thought proper, without having to answer to any one but God; the other, though held equally in bondage, was more liberally treated, for "unless he was guilty of some evil-doing, the lord could ask of him nothing during his life but the fees, rents, or fines which he owed on account of his servitude." If one of the latter class of serfs married a free woman, everything which he possessed became the property of his lord. The same was the case when he died, for he could not transmit any of his goods to his children, and was only allowed to dispose by will of a sum of about five sous, or about twenty-five francs of modern money.
As early as the fourteenth century, serfdom or servitude no longer existed except in "mortmain," of which we still have to speak.
Mortmain consisted of the privation of the right of freely disposing of one's person or goods. He who had not the power of going where he would, of giving or selling, of leaving by will or transferring his property, fixed or movable, as he thought best, was called a man of mortmain.
This name was apparently chosen because the hand, "considered the symbol of power and the instrument of donation," was deprived of movement, paralysed, in fact struck as by death. It was also nearly in this sense, that men of the Church were also called men of mortmain, because they were equally forbidden to dispose, either in life, or by will after death, of anything belonging to them.
There were two kinds of mortmain: real and personal; one concerning land, and the other concerning the person; that is to say, land held in mortmain did not change quality, whatever might be the position of the person who occupied it, and a "man of mortmain" did not cease to suffer the inconveniences of his position on whatever land he went to establish himself.
The mortmains were generally subject to the greater share of feudal obligations formerly imposed on serfs; these were particularly to work for a certain time for their lord without receiving any wages, or else to pay him the tax when it was due, on certain definite occasions, as for example, when he married, when he gave a dower to his daughter, when he was taken prisoner of war, when he went to the Holy Land, &c., &c. What particularly characterized the condition of mortmains was, that the lords had the right to take all their goods when they died without issue, or when the children held a separate household; and that they could not dispose of anything they possessed, either by will or gift, beyond a certain sum.
The noble who franchised mortmains, imposed on them in almost all cases very heavy conditions, consisting of fees, labours, and fines of all sorts. In fact, a mortmain person, to be free, not only required to be franchised by his own lord, but also by all the nobles on whom he was dependent, as well as by the sovereign. If a noble franchised without the consent of his superiors, he incurred a fine, as it was considered a dismemberment or depreciation of the fief.
As early as the end of the fourteenth century, the rigorous laws of mortmain began to fall into disuse in the provinces; though if the name began to disappear, the condition itself continued to exist. The free men, whether they belonged to the middle class or to the peasantry, were nevertheless still subject to pay fines or obligations to their lords of such a nature that they must be considered to have been practically in the same position as mortmains. In fact, this custom had been so deeply rooted into social habits by feudalism, that to make it disappear totally at the end of the eighteenth century, it required three decrees of the National Convention (July 17 and October 2, 1793; and 8 Ventose, year II.—that is, March 2, 1794).
It is only just to state, that twelve or fourteen years earlier, Louis XVI. had done all in his power towards the same purpose, by suppressing mortmain, both real or personal, on the lands of the Crown, and personal mortmain (i.e. the right of following mortmains out of their original districts) all over the kingdom.
Privileges and Rights. Feudal and Municipal.
Elements of Feudalism.—Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.—Immunity of the Feudalists.—Dues from the Nobles to their Sovereign.—Law and University Dues.—Curious Exactions resulting from the Universal System of Dues.—Struggles to Enfranchise the Classes subjected to Dues.—Feudal Spirit and Citizen Spirit.—Resuscitation of the System of Ancient Municipalities in Italy, Germany, and France.—Municipal Institutions and Associations.—The Community.—The Middle-Class Cities (Cites Bourgeoises).—Origin of National Unity.
So as to understand the numerous charges, dues, and servitudes, often as quaint as iniquitous and vexations, which weighed on the lower orders during the Middle Ages, we must remember how the upper class, who assumed to itself the privilege of oppression on lands and persons under the feudal System, was constituted.
The Roman nobles, heirs to their fathers' agricultural dominions, succeeded for the most part in preserving through the successive invasions of the barbarians, the influence attached to the prestige of birth and wealth; they still possessed the greater part of the land and owned as vassals the rural populations. The Grerman nobles, on the contrary, had not such extended landed properties, but they appropriated all the strongest positions. The dukes, counts, and marquises were generally of German origin. The Roman race, mixed with the blood of the various nations it had subdued, was the first to infuse itself into ancient Society, and only furnished barons of a secondary order.
These heterogeneous elements, brought together, with the object of common dominion, constituted a body who found life and motion only in the traditions of Rome and ancient Germany. From these two historical sources, as is very judiciously pointed out by M. Mary-Lafon, issued all the habits of the new society, and particularly the rights and privileges assumed by the nobility.
These rights and privileges, which we are about to pass summarily in review, were numerous, and often curious: amongst them may be mentioned the rights of treasure-trove, the rights of wreck, the rights of establishing fairs or markets, rights of marque, of sporting, &c.
The rights of treasure-trove were those which gave full power to dukes and counts over all minerals found on their properties. It was in asserting this right that the famous Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England, met his death. Adhemar, Viscount of Limoges, had discovered in a field a treasure, of which, no doubt, public report exaggerated the value, for it was said to be large enough to model in pure gold, and life-size, a Roman emperor and the members of his family, at table. Adhemar was a vassal of the Duke of Guienne, and, as a matter of course, set aside what was considered the sovereign's share in his discovery; but Richard, refusing to concede any part of his privilege, claimed the whole treasure. On the refusal of the viscount to give it up he appeared under arms before the gates of the Castle of Chalus, where he supposed that the treasure was hidden. On seeing the royal standard, the garrison offered to open the gates. "No," answered Richard, "since you have forced me to unfurl my banner, I shall only enter by the breach, and you shall all be hung on the battlements." The siege commenced, and did not at first seem to favour the English, for the besieged made a noble stand. One evening, as his troops were assaulting the place, in order to witness the scene, Richard was sitting at a short distance on a piece of rock, protected with a target—that is, a large shield covered with leather and blades of iron—which two archers held over him. Impatient to see the result of the assault, Richard pushed down the shield, and that moment decided his fate (1199). An archer of Chalus, who had recognised him and was watching from the top of the rampart, sent a bolt from a crossbow, which hit him full in the chest. The wound, however, would perhaps not have been mortal, but, shortly after, having carried the place by storm, and in his delight at finding the treasure almost intact, he gave himself up madly to degrading orgies, during which he had already dissipated the greater part of his treasure, and died of his wound twelve days later; first having, however, graciously pardoned the bowman who caused his death.
The right of shipwrecks, which the nobles of seaboard countries rarely renounced, and of which they were the more jealous from the fact that they had continually to dispute them with their vassals and neighbours, was the pitiless and barbaric right of appropriating the contents of ships happening to be wrecked on their shores.
When the feudal nobles granted to their vassals the right of assembling on certain days, in order to hold fairs and markets, they never neglected to reserve to themselves some tax on each head of cattle, as well as on the various articles brought in and put up for sale. As these fairs and markets never failed to attract a great number of buyers and sellers, this formed a very lucrative tax for the noble (Fig. 26).
The right of marque, or reprisal, was a most barbarous custom. A famous example is given of it. In 1022, William the Pious, Count of Angouleme, before starting for a pilgrimage to Rome, made his three brothers, who were his vassals, swear to live in honourable peace and good friendship. But, notwithstanding their oath, two of the brothers, having invited the third to the Easter festivities, seized him at night in his bed, put out his eyes so that he might not find the way to his castle, and cut out his tongue so that he might not name the authors of this horrible treatment. The voice of God, however, denounced them, and the Count of Angouleme, shuddering with horror, referred the case to his sovereign, the Duke of Aquitaine, William IV., who immediately came, and by fire and sword exercised his right of marque on the lands of the two brothers, leaving them nothing but their lives and limbs, after having first put out their eyes and cut out their tongues, so as to inflict on them the penalty of retaliation.
The right of sporting or hunting was of all prerogatives that dearest to, and most valued by the nobles. Not only were the severest and even cruellest penalties imposed on "vilains" who dared to kill the smallest head of game, but quarrels frequently arose between nobles of different degrees on the subject, some pretending to have a feudal privilege of hunting on the lands of others (Fig. 27). From this tyrannical exercise of the right of hunting, which the least powerful of the nobles only submitted to with the most violent and bitter feelings, sprung those old and familiar ballads, which indicate the popular sentiment on the subject. In some of these songs the inveterate hunters are condemned, by the order of Fairies or of the Fates, either to follow a phantom stag for everlasting, or to hunt, like King Artus, in the clouds and to catch a fly every hundred years.
The right of jurisdiction, which gave judicial power to the dukes and counts in cases arising in their domains, had no appeal save to the King himself, and this was even often contested by the nobles, as for instance, in the unhappy case of Enguerrand de Coucy. Enguerrand had ordered three young Flemish noblemen, who were scholars at the Abbey of "St. Nicholas des Bois," to be seized and hung, because, not knowing that they were on the domain of the Lord of Coucy, they had killed a few rabbits with arrows. St. Louis called the case before him. Enguerrand answered to the call, but only to dispute the King's right, and to claim the judgment of his peers. The King, without taking any notice of the remonstrance, ordered Enguerrand to be locked up in the big tower of the Louvre, and was nearly applying the law of retaliation to his case. Eventually he granted him letters of pardon, after condemning him to build three chapels, where masses were continually to be said for the three victims; to give the forest where the young scholars had been found hunting, to the Abbey of "St. Nicholas des Bois;" to lose on all his estates the rights of jurisdiction and sporting; to serve three years in the Holy Land; and to pay to the King a fine of 12,500 pounds tournois. It must be remembered that Louis IX., although most generous in cases relating simply to private interests, was one of the most stubborn defenders of royal prerogatives.
A right which feudalists had the greatest interest in observing, and causing to be respected, because they themselves might with their wandering habits require it at any moment, was that of safe convoy, or guidance. This right was so powerful, that it even applied itself to the lower orders, and its violation was considered the most odious crime; thus, in the thirteenth century, the King of Aragon was severely abused by all persons and all classes, because in spite of this right he caused a Jew to be burned so as not to have to pay a debt which the man claimed of him.
The right of "the Crown" should also be mentioned, which consisted of a circle of gold ornamented in various fashions, according to the different degrees of feudal monarchy, which vassals had to present to their lord on the day of his investiture. The right of seal was a fee or fine they had to pay for the charters which their lord caused to be delivered to them.
The duty of aubaine was the fine or due paid by merchants, either in kind or money, to the feudal chief, when they passed near his castle, landed in his ports, or exposed goods for sale in his markets.
The nobles of second order possessed among their privileges that of wearing spurs of silver or gold according to their rank of knighthood; the right of receiving double rations when prisoners of war; the right of claiming a year's delay when a creditor wished to seize their land; and the right of never having to submit to torture after trial, unless they were condemned to death for the crime they had committed. If a great baron for serious offences confiscated the goods of a noble who was his vassal, the latter had a right to keep his palfrey, the horse of his squire, various pieces of his harness and armour, his bed, his silk robe, his wife's bed, one of her dresses, her ring, her cloth stomacher, &c.
The nobles alone possessed the right of having seats of honour in churches and in chapels (Fig. 28), and to erect therein funereal monuments, and we know that they maintained this right so rigorously and with so much effrontery, that fatal quarrels at times arose on questions of precedence. The epitaphs, the placing of tombs, the position of a monument, were all subjects for conflicts or lawsuits. The nobles enjoyed also the right of disinheritance, that is to say, of claiming the goods of a person dying on their lands who had no direct heir; the right of claiming a tax when a fief or domain changed hands; the right of common oven, or requiring vassals to make use of the mill, the oven, or the press of the lord. At the time of the vintage, no peasant might sell his wine until the nobles had sold theirs. Everything was a source of privilege for the nobles. Kings and councils waived the necessity of their studying, in order to be received as bachelors of universities. If a noble was made a prisoner of war, his life was saved by his nobility, and his ransom had practically to be raised by the "vilains" of his domains. The nobles were also exempted from serving in the militia, nor were they obliged to lodge soldiers, &c. They had a thousand pretexts for establishing taxes on their vassals, who were generally considered "taxable and to be worked at will." Thus in the domain of Montignac, the Count of Perigord claimed among other things as follows: "for every case of censure or complaint brought before him, 10 deniers; for a quarrel in which blood was shed, 60 sols; if blood was not shed, 7 sols; for use of ovens, the sixteenth loaf of each baking; for the sale of corn in the domain, 43 setiers: besides these, 6 setiers of rye, 161 setiers of oats, 3 setiers of beans, 1 pound of wax, 8 capons, 17 hens, and 37 loads of wine." There were a multitude of other rights due to him, including the provostship fees, the fees on deeds, the tolls and furnaces of towns, the taxes on salt, on leather, corn, nuts; fees for the right of fishing; for the right of sporting, which last gave the lord a certain part or quarter of the game killed, and, in addition, the dime or tenth part of all the corn, wine, &c., &c.
This worthy noble gathered in besides all this, during the religious festivals of the year, certain tributes in money on the estate of Montignac alone, amounting to as much as 20,000 pounds tournois. One can judge by this rough sketch, of the income he must have had, both in good and bad years, from his other domains in the rich county of Perigord.
It must not be imagined that this was an exceptional case; all over the feudal territory the same state of things existed, and each lord farmed both his lands and the persons whom feudal right had placed under his dependence.
To add to these already excessive rates and taxes, there were endless dues, under all shapes and names, claimed by the ecclesiastical lords (Figs. 29 and 30). And not only did the nobility make without scruple these enormous exactions, but the Crown supported them in avenging any act, however opposed to all sense of justice; so that the nobles were really placed above the great law of equality, without which the continuance of social order seemed normally impossible.