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an aristocracy, or for each to erect a separate little kingdom. They are not originally different in blood from the rest of the people, but length of time and absence of intermarriage with the commonalty give these eldermen a species of nobility, and the spectacle of feudal systems in other countries naturally makes them desire its introduction into their own principalities. Many parts of Germany afford instances of this. The reigning dukes and other little potentates are the exact representatives of the eldermen, except that length of time has widened the distance between them and their subjects. No subsequent invasion has disturbed their power, and an aristocracy has not grown up around the reigning family. In fact, till lately, the reigning dukes were the real aristocracy of a great part of Germany, and the emperor was the head of the country, elected by these aristocrats.

The same would have taken place in Norway, had not Harold expelled all the small kings and made himself sole sovereign of the country. The native Irish king before the Danish and Norman invasion, was a potentate of this description, the “ king of the country,” chosen by a general as

a sembly of the chiefs of the different provinces, and he took to the nation the same oath that the chiefs of the tribes took to their respective tribes,—that of observing inviolate the ancient laws and hereditary customs. The king's functions were chiefly to lead to war, the public affairs were decided in open-air councils.

In the country south of the Loire, when the original race rose against the invaders and re-conquered the land from them, the native chieftains assumed a seigniory not unlike that which the invaders had attempted to establish; yet the line was never drawn between the seignior and those below him, as it would have been if the former had been of different race. Thierry says* that south of the Loire there was political life; and notes, as a characteristic trait,

* Hist. de la Conquête de l'Angl. iii. 79.

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that satire agunst the chiefs, whether temporal or spiritual, was never, south of the Loire, a crime of lasa majestas.

The erection of a native aristocracy had to some extent taken place in England before the Norman invasion. The earls and princes of the heptarchy were gradually segregating themselves into a compact body and taking all power from the people. The commons, thus stripped in great measureof their political

' privileges, became indifferent to the nature of their rulers, and this, as has been well observed, is one of the causes of the immediate success which has attended invasion by a handful of warriors. They have to contend only with the clergy and nobility; the mass of the population care little for a change of rulers. Whereas in Norway an invasion would have been met by the rising of the whole populace to defend their possessions. This has been aptly suggested by Mr. Laing as an explanation of the extraordinary supineness with which, in the middle ages, a few hundred men landing on a coast were allowed to dictate conditions and parcel out the territories of a whole nation,—and the same observation accounts for the weakness of the Belgians and Gauls.t

Hitherto I have spoken chiefly of modern nations, because the earliest history of the ancients is even more confused and indefinite than the history of our Teutonic ancestors. But the species of coup d'état which was repeatedly employed to found the aristocracies of Europe, is likewise very distinctly to be observed in the early history of the ancients. The old Homeric monarchies were in fact exactly similar to the small kingdoms estalished in England, Germany, and the north of Europe. I do not imagine that these Homeric small kings were of a different race from their subjects, they were merely the chiefs of tribes who had settled in the Hellenic territory. These chiefs, like the petty princes of Germany, chose from among them one to be the king of all the tribes ; it

a

* Laing's Norway, 203.

+ Niebuhr, H. R. v. 51.

being necessary to the very existence of these separate units as a nation, that there should be one head of the national organisation. As Homer makes his chieftain say: “Let not all of us chieftains assume to be kings, the sovereignty of many is not a good thing: let there be one sovereign, one king, him to whom Jupiter has given the sceptre and the charters of empire, that he may reign over us;"* but this one monarch among monarchs was far from being what we understand by an imperial despot. The great council of the nation in which all the chiefs met was the really ruling power. Peace and war were determined in the council of the Homeric heroes, in the senate of the Sabine and Latin kings, and in the meetings of German chieftains in the royal tent. The public assemblies of the Franks and Lombards, like the Homeric agora are only for the purpose of promulgating the decrees of the kings and nobles, not for giving an opportunity to the assembled commons to put any veto upon them. The difference is at this period much less between the king and the nobles than between the nobles and the lower class. None except the ήρωες, the ηγήτορες ήδε μέδοντες are called on to address the Homeric assemblies, and Ulysses characterises the δήμου ανήρ as ούτε ποτ' εν πολέμω έναρίθμιος, ούτ' ενί βουλή. Thus the Homeric heroes had segregated themselves from the mass of the people, who owed them allegiance as chiefs very much as the eldermen of the Anglo-Saxons, or the dukes of Germany. They lost their power for perhaps the same reason as the former,—the carelessness of the people whether they changed masters or not. The Dorian invasion was a coup d'état precisely similar to the abortive attempt of the Danes, and the successful stroke of the Normans.

ου μέν πως πάντες βασιλεύσομεν ενθάδ' 'Αχαιοί: ουκ αγαθόν πολυκοιρανίη· είς κoίρανος έστω, είς βασιλευς, η έδωκα Κρόνου παίς αγκυλομήτεω σκήπτρόν τ' ήδέ θέμιστας, ίνα σφίσιν εμβασιλεύη.-ΙΙ. ii. 203, sqα.

f Grote, H. of Greece, ii. 93.

Iliad, ii. 202.

CHAP. V.

TIIE FORMATION OF ARISTOCRACIES.

1

“ The world is a great wilderness, wherein mankind have wandered and jostled one another about from the creation. Some have removed by necessity, and others by choice. One nation has been fond of seizing what another was tired of possessing, and it will be difficult to point out the country which is to this day in the hands of its first inhabitants."- BOLINGBROKE.

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The simple idea of a fundamental aristocracy is that of a body of men of the same race, language, pursuits, feelings, tastes, and rights, settled as masters in a land where dwells also another population inferior in energy, character, and power.

There are two ways in which this duplicity of population arises, either by invasion of the superior race, or by immigration of the inferior. The Normans invaded the land of the Anglo-Saxons, the Dorians that of the Laconians, the Megarians that of the Mariandynians, the Ionians that of the old Atticans, the Lucumones that of the primitive Tuscans, the Franks that of the Gauls and their earlier conquerors; and each of these conquering tribes became an aristocracy by right of the sword: or, being in undisturbed possession of the land, tribes like the ancestors of the Roman patricians and the Eupatridæ of Athens invite or tolerate peaceful settlers from other places, on terms dictated by the original inhabitants.

Either course draws the broad line between aristocrats or patricians on the one hand, and the common serfs or

plebeians on the other, but there is of course an infinity of little distinctions caused by the difference in the origin of this relation. In invasions the conquerors generally can impose their own terms, however harsh, upon their subjects ; in cases where the subjects immigrate, the terms offered must not be such as to deter the immigrating people, though often a weak and peaceful tribe will readily submit to the severest terms from one spoiler, rather than be the prey for which a dozen spoilers contend.

In the result it generally signifies little which branch of the population was first on the soil, for the higher race ever tries to extend the privileges which it has won or reserved to itself, and the other seeks a gradual emancipation from the yoke which necessity, or a preference among necessities, imposed upon them.

them. This simplifies our view immensely, for to all practical purposes we shall be correct in saying that the first scene of the drama of national life opens with the settlement of a few conquerors in the land of a subjugated people, whom, with the land of which they are considered little else than the live stock, the conquerors parcel out among themselves according to the feudal maxim, “ Nulle terre sans seigneur.” This is, in the history of separate nations, the point of departure which historians who aim at exactness generally select. Before that crisis, the records of the prenational existence present to the despondent inquirer an unwieldy mass, respecting which it may reasonably be doubted whether we should most lament the vagueness of the whole, or the manifest falsehood of the greater part.

A striking characteristic attracts to the memory of the invaders all that admiration which we feel for those who have been an object of fear to others, and whom time alone prevents from inspiring fear in ourselves. A small horde of men receives the homage of a nation of subjects. Their inferiority in number is compensated by their su

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