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Fusion Organized Under Charlemagne

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. 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. 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, læti, 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. 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, 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.

Divisions of The Byzantine History

The history of the Byzantine Empire divides itself into three periods, strongly marked by distinct characteristics.

The first period commences with the reign of Leo III in 716, and terminates with that of Michael III in 867. It comprises the whole history of the predominance of the Iconoclasts in the established church, and of the reaction which reinstated the orthodox in power. It opens with the efforts by which Leo and the people of the empire saved the Roman law and the Christian religion from the conquering Saracens. It embraces a long and violent struggle between the government and the people, the emperors seeking to increase the central power by annihilating every local franchise, and even the right of private opinion, among their subjects. The contest concerning image-worship, from the prevalence of ecclesiastical ideas, became the expression of this struggle. Its object was as much to consolidate the supremacy of the imperial authority, as to purify the practice of the church. The emperors wished to constitute themselves the fountains of ecclesiastical as completely as of civil legislation.

The long and bloody wars of this period, and the vehement character of the sovereigns who filled the throne, attract the attention of those who love to dwell on the romantic facts of history. Unfortunately, the biographical sketches and individual characters of the heroes of these ages lie concealed in the dullest chronicles. But the true historical feature of this memorable period is the aspect of a declining empire, saved by the moral vigour developed in society, and of the central authority struggling to restore national prosperity. Never was such a succession of able sovereigns seen following one another on any other throne. The stern Iconoclast, Leo the Isaurian, opens the line as the second founder of the Eastern Empire. His son, the fiery Constantino, who was said to prefer the odour of the stable to the perfumes of his palaces, replanted the Christian standards on the banks of the Euphrates. Irene, the beautiful Athenian, presents a strange combination of talent, heartlessness, and orthodoxy. The finance minister, Nicephoras, perishes on the field of battle like an old Roman. The Armenian Leo falls at the altar of his private chapel, murdered as he is singing psalms with his deep voice, before day-dawn. Michael the Amorian, who stammered Greek with his native Phrygian accent, became the founder of an imperial dynasty, destined to be extinguished by a Sclavonian groom. The accomplished Theophilus lived in an age of romance, both in action and literature. His son, Michael, the last of the Amorian family, was the only contemptible prince of this period, and he was certainly the most despicable buffoon that ever occupied a throne.

The second period commences with the reign of Basil I in 867, and terminates with the deposition of Michael VI in 1057. During these two centuries the imperial sceptre was retained by members of the Basilian family, or held by those who shared their throne as guardians or husbands. At this time the Byzantine empire attained its highest pitch of external power and internal prosperity. The Saracens were pursued into the plains of Syria. Antioch and Edessa were reunited to the empire. The Bulgarian monarchy was conquered, and the Danube became again the northern frontier. The Sclavonians in Greece were almost exterminated. Byzantine commerce filled the whole Mediterranean, and legitimated the claim of the emperor of Constantinople to the title of Autocrat of the Mediterranean sea. But the real glory of this period consists in the power of the law. Respect for the administration of justice pervaded society more generally than it had ever done at any preceding period of the history of the world a fact which our greatest historians have overlooked, though it is all-important in the history of human civilisation.

The third period extends from the accession of Isaac I (Comnenus) in 1057, to the conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusaders, in 1204. This is the true period of the decline and fall of the Eastern Empire. It commenced by a rebellion of the great nobles of Asia, who effected an internal revolution in the Byzantine empire by wrenching the administration out of the hands of well-trained of officials and destroying the responsibility created by systematic procedure. A despotism supported by personal influence soon ruined the scientific fabric which had previously upheld the imperial power. The people were ground to the earth by a fiscal rapacity, over which the splendour of the house of Comnenus throws a thin veil. The wealth of the empire was dissipated, its prosperity destroyed, the administration of justice corrupted, and the central authority lost all control over the population, when a band of 20,000 adventurers, masked as crusaders, put an end to the Roman empire of the East.

In the eighth and ninth centuries the Byzantine empire continued to embrace many nations differing from the Greeks in language and manners. Even in religion there was a strong tendency to separation, and many of the heresies noticed in history assumed a national character, while the orthodox church circumscribed itself more and more within the nationality of the Greeks, and forfeited its ecumenical characteristics. The empire still included within its limits Romans, Greeks, Armenians, Isaurians, Lycaonians, Phrygians, Syrians, and Gallo-Grecians. But the great Thracian race, which had once been inferior in number only to the Indian, and which, in the first century of our era, had excited the attention of Vespasian by the extent of the territory it occupied, was now exterminated. The country it had formerly inhabited was peopled by Sclavonian tribes, a diminished Roman and Greek population only retaining possession of the towns, and the Bulgarians, a Turkish tribe, ruling as the dominant race from Mount Hemus to the Danube. The range of Mount Hemus generally formed the Byzantine frontier to the north, and its mountain passes were guarded by imperial garrisons. Sclavonian colonies had established themselves over all the European provinces, and had even penetrated into the Peloponnesus. The military government of Strymon, above the passes in the plain of Heraclea Sintica, was formed to prevent the country to the south of Mounts Orbelos and Skomios from becoming an independent Sclavonian province.

Characteristics of Byzantine History

The institutions of Imperial Rome bad long thwarted the great law of man's existence which impels him to better his condition, when the accession of Leo the Isaurian to the throne of Constantinople suddenly opened a new era in the history of the Eastern Empire. Both the material and intellectual progress of society had been deliberately opposed by the imperial legislation. A spirit of conservatism persuaded the legislators of the Roman Empire that its power could not decline, if each order and profession of its citizens was fixed irrevocably in the sphere of their own peculiar duties by hereditary succession. An attempt was really made to divide the population into castes. But the political laws which were adopted to maintain mankind in a state of stationary prosperity by these trammels, depopulated and impoverished empire, and threatened to dissolve the very elements of society. The Western Empire, under their operation, fell a prey to small tribes of northern nations; the Eastern was so depopulated that it was placed on the eve of being repeopled by Sclavonian colonists, and conquered by Saracen invaders.

Leo III. mounted the throne, and under his government the empire not only ceased to decline, but even began to regain much of its early vigour. Reformed modifications of the old Roman authority developed new energy in the empire. Great political reforms, and still greater changes in the condition of the people, mark the eighth century as an epoch of transition in Roman history, though the improved condition of the mass of the population is in some degree concealed by the prominence given to the disputes concerning image-worship in the records of this period. But the increased strength of the empire, and the energy infused into the administration, are forcibly displayed by the fact, that the Byzantine armies began from this time to oppose a firm barrier to the progress of the invaders of the empire.

When Leo III. was proclaimed Emperor, it seemed as if no human power could save Constantinople from falling as Rome had fallen. The Saracens considered the sovereignty of every land, in which any remains of Roman civilisation survived, as within their grasp. Leo, an Isaurian, and an Iconoclast, consequently a foreigner and a heretic, ascended the throne of Constantine, and arrested the victorious career of the Mohammedans. He then reorganised the whole administration so completely in accordance with the new exigencies of Eastern society, that the reformed empire outlived for many centuries every government contemporary with its establishment.

The Eastern Roman Empire, thus reformed, is called by modern historians the Byzantine Empire; and the term is well devised to mark the changes effected in the government, after the extinction of the last traces of the military monarchy of ancient Rome. The social condition of the inhabitants of the Eastern Empire had already undergone a considerable change during the century which elapsed from the accession of Heraclius to that of Leo, from the influence of causes to be noticed in the following pages; and this change in society created a new phase in the Roman empire. The gradual progress of this change has led some writers to date the commencement of the Byzantine Empire as early as the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, and others to descend so late as the times of Maurice and Heraclius. But as the Byzantine Empire was only a continuation of the Roman government under a reformed system, it seems most correct to date its commencement from the period when the new social and political modifications produced a visible effect on the fate of the Eastern Empire. This period is marked by the accession of Leo the Isaurian.

The administrative system of Rome, as modified by Constantine, continued in operation, though subjected to frequent reforms, until Constantinople was stormed by the Crusaders, and the Greek church enslaved by papal domination. The General Council of Nicsea, and the dedication of the imperial city, with their concomitant legislative, administrative, and judicial institutions, engendered a succession of political measures, whose direct relations were uninterrupted until terminated by foreign conquest. The government of Great Britain has undergone greater changes during the last three centuries than that of the Eastern Empire during the nine centuries which elapsed from the foundation of Constantinople in 330, to its conquest in 1204.

Yet Leo III. has strong claims to be regarded as the first of a new series of emperors. He was the founder of a dynasty, the saviour of Constantinople, and the reformer of the church and state. He was the first Christian sovereign who arrested the torrent of Mohammedan conquest ; he improved the condition of his subjects; he attempted to purify their religion from the superstitious reminiscences of Hellenism, with which it was still debased, and to stop the development of a quasi-idolatry in the orthodox church. Nothing can prove more decidedly the right of his empire to assume a new name than the contrast presented by the condition of its inhabitants to that of the subjects of the preceding dynasty. Under the successors of Heraclius, the Roman Empire presents the spectacle of a declining society, and its thinly-peopled provinces were exposed to the intrusion of foreign colonists and hostile invaders. But, under Leo, society offers an aspect of improvement and prosperity; the old population revives from its lethargy, and soon increases, both in number and strength, to such a degree as to drive back all intruders on its territories. In the records of human civilisation, Leo the Isaurian must always occupy a high position, as a type of what the central power in a state can effect even in a declining empire.

Before reviewing the history of Leo's reign, and recording his brilliant exploits, it is necessary to sketch the condition to which the Roman administrative system had reduced the empire. It would be an instructive lesson to trace the progress of the moral and mental decline of the Greeks, from the age of Plato and Aristotle to the time of the sixth ecumenical council, in the reign of Justinian II; for the moral evils nourished in Greek society degraded the nation, before the oppressive government of the Romans impoverished and depopulated Greece. When the imperial authority was fully established, we easily trace the manner in which the intercommunication of different provinces and orders of society became gradually restricted to the operations of material interests, and how the limitation of ideas arose from this want of communication, until at length civilisation decayed. Good roads and commodious passage-boats have a more direct connection with the development of popular education, as we see it reflected in the works of Phidias and the writings of Sophocles, than is generally believed. Under the jealous system of the imperial government, the isolation of place and class became so complete, that even the highest members of the aristocracy received their ideas from the inferior domestics with whom they habitually associated in their own households - not from the transitory intercourse they held with able and experienced men of their own class, or with philosophic and religious teachers. Nurses and slaves implanted their ignorant superstitions in the households where the rulers of the empire and the provinces were reared; and no public assemblies existed, where discussion could efface such prejudices. Family education became a more influential feature in society than public instruction; and though family education, from the fourth to the seventh century, appears to have improved the morality of the population, it certainly increased their superstition and limited their understandings. Emperors, senators, landlords, and merchants, were alike educated under these influences; and though the church and the law opened a more enlarged circle of ideas, from creating a deeper sense of responsibility, still the prejudices of early education oircumscribed the sense of duty more and more in each successive generation. The military class, which was the most powerful in society, consisted almost entirely of mere barbarians. The mental degradation, resulting from superstition, bigotry, and ignorance, which forms the marked social feature of the period between the reigns of Justinian I. and Leo III., brought the Eastern Empire to the state of depopulation and weakness that had delivered the Western a prey to small tribes of invaders.

The fiscal causes of the depopulation of the Roman empire have been noticed in a prior volume, as well as the extent to which immigrants had intruded themselves on the soil of Greece. The corruption of the ancient language took place at the same time, and arose out of the causes which disseminated ignorance. At the accession of Leo, the disorder in the central administration, the anarchy in the provincial government, and the ravages of the Sclavonians and Saracens, had rendered the condition of the people intolerable. The Roman government seemed incapable of upholding legal order in. society, and its extinction was regarded as a proximate event. All the provinces between the shores of the Adriatic and the banks of the Danube had been abandoned to Sclavonian tribes. Powerful colonies of Sclavonians had been planted by Justinian II. in Macedonia and Bithynia, in the rich valleys of the Strymon and the Artanas. Greece was filled with pastoral and agricultural hordes of the same race, who became in many districts the sole cultivators of the soil, and effaced the memory of the names of mountains and streams, which will be immortal in the world's literature. The Bulgarians plundered all Thrace to the walls of Constantinople. Thessalonica was repeatedly besieged by Sclavonians. The Saracens had inundated Asia Minor with their armies, and were preparing to extirpate Christianity in the East. Such was the crisis at which Leo was proclaimed emperor by the army, in Amorium, 716 A.D. .

Yet there were peculiar features in the condition of the surviving population, and an inherent vigour in the principles of the Roman administration, that still operated powerfully in resisting foreign domination. The people felt the necessity of defending the administration of the law, and of upholding commercial intercourse. The ties of interest consequently ranged a large body of the inhabitants of every province round the central administration at this hour of difficulty. The very circumstances which weakened the power of the court of Constantinople, conferred on the people an increase of authority, and enabled them to take effectual measures for their own defence. This new energy may be traced in the resistance which Ravenna and Cherson offered to the tyranny of Justinian II. The orthodox church, also, served as an additional bond of union among the people, and, throughout the wide extent of the imperial dominions, its influences connected the local feelings of the parish with the general interests of the church and the empire. These misfortunes, which brought the state to the verge of ruin, relieved commerce from much fiscal oppression and many monopolies. Facilities were thus given to trade, which afforded to the population of the towns additional sources of employment. The commerce of the Eastern Empire had already gained by the conquests of the barbarians in the West, for the ruling classes in the countries conquered by the Goths and Franks rarely engaged in trade or accumulated capital. The advantage of possessing a systematic administration of justice, enforced by fixed legal procedure, attached the commercial classes and the town population to the person of the emperor, whose authority was considered the fountain of legal order and judicial impartiality. A fixed legislation, and an uninterrupted administration of justice, prevented the political anarchy that prevailed under the successors of Heraclius from ruining society in the Roman empire; while the arbitrary judicial power of provincial governors, in the dominions of the caliphs, rendered property insecure, and undermined national wealth.

There was likewise another feature in the Eastern Empire which deserves notice. The number of towns was very great, and they were generally more populous than the political state of the country would lead us to expect. Indeed, to estimate the density of the urban population, in comparison with the extent of territory from which it apparently derived its supplies, we must compare it with the actual condition of Malta and Guernsey, or with the state of Lombardy and Tuscany in the middle ages. This density of population, joined to the great difference in the price of the produce of the soil in various places, afforded the Roman government the power of collecting from its subjects an amount of taxation unparalleled in modern times, except in Egypt. The whole surplus profits of society were annually drawn into the coffers of the state, leaving the inhabitants only a bare sufficiency for perpetuating the race of tax -payers. History indeed, shows that the agricultural classes, from the labourer to the landlord, were unable to retain possession of the sayings required to replace that depreciation which time is constantly producing in all rested capital, and that their numbers gradually diminished.

After the accession of Leo III, a new condition of society is soon apparent; and though many old political evils continued to exist, it becomes evident that a greater degree of personal liberty, as well as greater security for property, was henceforth guaranteed to the mass of the inhabitants of the empire. Indeed, no other government of which history has preserved the records, unless it be that of China, has secured equal advantages to its subjects for so long a period. The empires of the caliphs and of Charlemagne, though historians have celebrated their praises loudly, cannot, in their best days, compete with the administration organised by Leo on this point; and both sank into ruin while the Byzantine empire continued to flourish in full vigour. It must be confessed that eminent historians present a totally different picture of Byzantine history to their readers. Voltaire speaks of it as a worthless repertory of declamation and miracles, disgraceful to the human mind. Even the sagacious Gibbon, after enumerating with just pride the extent of his labours, adds, “From these considerations, I should have abandoned without regret the Greek slaves and their servile historians, had I not reflected that the fate of the Byzantine monarchy is passively connected with the most splendid and important revolutions which have changed the state of the world”. The views of Byzantine history, unfolded in the following pages, are frequently in direct opposition to these great authorities. The defects and vices of the political system will be carefully noticed, but the splendid achievements of the emperors, and the great merits of the judicial and ecclesiastical establishments, will be contrasted with their faults.

In The Early Middle Ages: Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions

The Germans 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; 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.

Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, From the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents in the great Liberaries of Europe

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. 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. 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.

Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle Ages

The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guérard, 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. 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. There were, on 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.

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