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which was then under persecution. There, however,
it did not prevail ; idolatry, for a long time, had the
ascendant. Some missionaries from Gaul, indeed,
rudely instructed a small number of those islanders.
The famous Pelagius, too zealous a defender of
human nature, was born, though not educated, in
England. We must, therefore, reckon him among
the natives of Rome.

Ireland, distinguished by the name of Scotland,
and Scotland, known by the appellation of Albany,
or the country of the Picts, had likewise received
some seeds of Christianity, choked, however, by
idolatry, that still predominated. The monk
Columba was born in Ireland, in the sixth century,
but it appears from his retreat to France, and the
monasteries he founded in Burgundy, that there
was very little to be done, and a great deal to be
feared, by those who fought in Ireland and England
for those rich and quiet establishments that were
found in other countries, under the shelter of relig-
ion. After an almost total extinction of Christian-
ity in England, Scotland, and Ireland, it was revived
by conjugal tenderness. Ethelbert, one of the bar-
barous Anglo-Saxon sovereigns of the Heptarchy,

Charlemagne. 139

in England, whose petty kingdom was the province
of Kent, where Canterbury stands, was desirous of
being allied to a monarch of France, and married a
daughter of Childebert, king of Paris. This Chris-
tian princess, who crossed the sea, attended by the
bishop of Soissons, disposed her husband to receive
baptism, in the same manner as Clovis had been
subdued by Clotilda. In the year 598, Pope Greg-
ory the Great sent thither Augustine, with some other
Roman monks, but they met with little success in
converting the people, for one must, at least, under-
stand the language of the country before he can
hope to change the religion of the natives. Never-
theless, they were enabled, by the queen's favor, to
build a monastery.

It was, properly, the queen who converted the
little kingdom of Canterbury. The barbarous sub-
jects, who had no opinions of their own, implicitly
followed the example of their sovereigns. This
Augustine found no great difficulty in prevailing
on Gregory the Great to declare him primate. He
wanted to be metropolitan of the Gauls, but Greg-
ory gave him to understand that he could only invest
him with the jurisdiction over England: he was,
therefore, first archbishop of Canterbury, and first
primate of England. One of his monks he created
bishop of London, and to another he gave the bish-
opric of Rochester; but we cannot compare these
bishops to anything better than to the prelates of
Antioch and Babylon, who are termed bishops

140 Ancient and Modern History.

in partibus infidelium. In time, the English hier-
archy was formed; their monasteries in particular
were extremely rich in the eighth and ninth cen-
turies. They enrolled in the catalogue of saints
all the great lords from whom they had received
benefactions; hence we find among their saints of
those times, seven kings, as many queens, eight
princes, and sixteen princesses. Their chronicles
relate that ten kings and eleven queens ended their
days in cloisters. It is probable that these ten kings
and eleven queens caused themselves, in their last
moments, to be clad in religious habits, and, perhaps,
to be carried into convents : but it is hardly credible
that, in good health, they actually renounced the
affairs of the public in order to live the life of a



THE counts appointed by the king administered
justice in a summary manner. Each had his sep-
arate district assigned to him ; and they were obliged
to be well versed in the laws, which were neither
so difficult nor so numerous as those under which
we now live. The process was altogether simple:
every man pleaded his own cause in France and
Germany. Rome alone, and the countries that
depended upon her, still retained many laws and

Charlemagne. 141

forms of the Roman Empire. The Lombard laws
prevailed in other parts of Hither Italy.

Every count had under him a lieutenant called
Viguier, seven Scabini or assessors, and a secretary,
Notarius. The counts, in their several jurisdictions,
published the order of march in time of war,
enrolled the soldiers under the' respective captains,
and conducted them to the rendezvous, leaving
their lieutenants to administer justice in their

The kings sent commissaries with letters patent,
missi Dominici, who examined the conduct of the
counts. Neither these commissaries, nor the counts,
except very rarely, condemned criminals to death,
or torture : for, exclusive of Saxony, where Charle-
magne enacted sanguinary laws, almost all sorts of
crimes were bought off, through the rest of the
empire. Rebellion alone was punished with death;
and the kings reserved the trial to themselves. The
Salic law, together with those of the Lombards
and the Ripuarian Franks, set a fine upon most
other crimes, as we have already observed.

Their jurisprudence, however, which at first
sight appears to have been humane, was, in fact,
more cruel than ours. It left every man at liberty
to do mischief, who could afford to pay for the
crimes he had committed. The most gentle law is
that which prevents guilt, by laying the most ter-
rible restriction upon iniquity.

Among those Salic laws which were revived by

142 Ancient and Modern History.

Charlemagne, there is one that strongly marks the
contempt into which the Romans were fallen
among those barbarous nations. The Frank who
had killed a Roman citizen paid but one thousand
and fifty deniers; whereas the Roman paid two
thousand and five hundred for having embrued his
hands in the blood of a Frank.

In criminal causes that could not be determined
by evidence, the parties purged themselves by oath.
The defendant was obliged not only to swear him-
self, but likewise to produce a certain number of
witnesses to swear with him. When both parties
opposed oath to oath, the cause was sometimes
determined by duel, either with a pointed iron, or
with the sword, to extremity.

These duels were called, as everybody knows, the
judgment of God : such was the name bestowed
upon one of the most deplorable follies of that bar-
barous government. The accused were likewise
subjected to the proof, by cold water, boiling water,
and red-hot iron. The celebrated Stephen Baluze
has collected all the ancient ceremonies of those
trials. They began with the mass, and the defend-
ant received the communion. The cold water was
first blessed and then exorcised. The accused per-
son being fettered, was thrown into the water: if
he sank to the bottom, he was deemed innocent ; if
he floated, he was pronounced guilty. M. de
Fleury, in his " Ecclesiastical History," says it was
a sure method of not finding any person criminal.

Charlemagne. 143

For my own part, I dare believe it was a method
by which many innocent persons perished. There
are many men whose chests are so large, and whose
lungs are so light, that they will not sink to the
bottom, especially when they are bound with many
turns of a thick rope, which, together with the body,
forms a volume specifically lighter than water.
This unhappy custom, which was later prohibited
in the great cities, has been preserved even to our
days in many provinces. It has been often imposed
even by the judge's sentence, upon those who passed
for wizards ; for nothing lasts so long as supersti-
tion ; and it has been the death of many unfortunate

The judgment of God by hot water was executed
by causing the accused person to plunge his naked
arm into a tub of boiling water. He was obliged
to take up a consecrated ring from the bottom. The
judge, in presence of the priests and people,
wrapped up the patient's arm in a bag which was
sealed with his own seal ; and if in three days after
the trial, no mark of scalding appeared on the arm,
his innocence was acknowledged.

All the historians relate the example of Queen
Teutberga, daughter-in-law to the emperor Lothar-
ius, grandson of Charlemagne, who was accused of
having committed incest with her brother, though
a monk and subdeacon. She nominated a cham-
pion, who in her stead underwent the trial of boiling
water, in presence of a numerous court; and took

144 Ancient and Modern History.

up the ring without being in the least injured. Cer-
tain it is, there are secrets that enable persons to
bear the action of the fire for some seconds without
being hurt. I have seen instances of this nature.
These secrets were then more common, as they
were then more necessary; but there is none that
can render us absolutely impassible. In all proba-
bility, upon those strange trials, the proof was
inflicted in a manner more or less rigorous, accord-
ing as the judge desired to condemn or acquit the
person accused.

This trial by boiling water was particularly
appointed for the conviction of adulterers. These
customs were more ancient and extensive than they
are commonly imagined. Women accused among
the Jews, were subjected by the law of Moses to the
proof of the waters of jealousy. They drank, in
presence of the priests, some water in which a little
consecrated ashes had been thrown ; and this water,
which was salutary to innocence, made the guilty
swell and burst upon the spot.

The learned very well know, that in Sicily the
person accused wrote his oath in the temple of the
gods called Palici. This was thrown into a basin
of water, and if it floated he was acquitted. The
temple of Traezenum was famous for the like trials.
At the extremity of the East, in Japan, we still find
such customs, founded on the simplicity of the
primitive times, and that superstition which is com-
mon to all nations. The third proof was that of a

Charlemagne. 145

red-hot bar of iron, to be carried in the naked hand
for the space of nine paces. It was more difficult to
deceive the spectator in this than in the other trials ;
therefore I do not find that any person submitted to
it even in those times of ignorance.

With regard to the civil laws, the most remark-
able, in my opinion, was that by which a man who
had no issue of his own, was at liberty to adopt
children. Married men could repudiate their wives
in course of law; and after the divorce, they were
allowed to contract other conjugal engagements.
Marculfus has given us a detail of these laws : but
what will perhaps appear more astonishing, though
not the less true, is, that in the second book of those
formularies published by Marculfus, we find that
nothing was more commonly allowed or practised,
than a deviation from that famous Salic law by
which daughters were excluded from inheritance.
A man brought his daughter before the count or
commissary, and pronounced words to this effect:
" My dear daughter, an ancient and impious custom
which prevails among us, deprives female children
of all paternal inheritance; having considered this
impiety, I am of opinion that, as you have been all
equally bestowed upon me by God, I ought to love
you all alike: therefore, dear daughter, it is my
will that you should inherit by equal portions, with
your brothers, in all my lands," etc. Among the
Franks, who lived according to the Salic and the

Ripuarian laws, the distinction was not known of
Vol. 24 10

146 Ancient and Modern History.

noblemen and plebeians; of noblemen ab avo, or
persons who lived like the nobility. There were
but two ranks of people, those that were free, and
the serfs, nearly the same as at this day in the
Mahometan empires, and in China. The term
nobilis is but once employed in the capitularies, and
that is in the fifth book, to signify the officers, the
counts, and the centurions. All the cities of Italy
and France were governed by their own municipal
laws. The tributes they paid to their sovereigns
consisted of forage, provisions, and furniture. For
a long time, the emperors and kings maintained
their dignity, with their own demesnes, and these
taxes paid in kind when they travelled. There is
still extant a capitulary of Charlemagne concern-
ing his farms. He there enters into the most cir-
cumstantial details, and ordains that an exact
account of his flocks should be duly delivered. One
of the principal articles of wealth in the country
consisted of bees. In a word, the most important
affairs, and the most inconsiderable matters of those
times, makes us acquainted with laws, manners, and
customs, of which scarcely any traces now remain.



THE history of the great events of this world is
scarcely anything but a detail of crimes. I do not
find any age which the ambition of the laity and the

Louis the Debonnaire. 147

clergy has not filled with horrors. Charlemagne
was hardly in his grave when his family and empire
were desolated by a civil war.

The archbishops of Milan and Cremona were the
first that kindled the flame, on pretence that Ber-
nard, king of Italy, was chief of the Carlovingian
house, as being the eldest son of Charlemagne. The
true reason, however, is easily found in that turbu-
lency of spirit and mad ambition which avails itself
of the very laws made to suppress it. A bishop of
Orleans entered into their intrigues, and both the
uncle and nephew levied troops, and were ready to
come to an engagement at Chalons on the Saone;
but the emperor, partly by money, and partly by
promises, found means to gain over one-half of the
Italian army. Negotiations were now set on foot;
or, in other words, each side endeavored to cheat
the other. Louis, surnamed the Debonnaire, on ac-
count of his being a weak prince, and who was cruel
merely from that weakness, caused his nephew's
eyes to be put out, though he begged for mercy
upon his knees. The unhappy king died three days
after this cruel act, of the torments he suffered in his
mind and body. He was buried at Milan, with this
inscription engraved on his tomb : " Here lies
Bernard of holy memory." It would seem that
this word " holy " was in those times used as a
mere honorary title. After this, Louis caused three
of his own brothers to be shaven and shut up in a
monastery; being apprehensive lest the blood of

148 Ancient and Modern History.

Charlemagne should command too much respect,
and light up commotions in the state. But this was
not all: the emperor caused all Bernard's friends
whom that prince had discovered, in hopes of their
obtaining mercy, to be arrested : these met with the
same punishment as their king, the clergy only
being excepted out of the sentence. Thus those
were spared who had been the chief authors of the
war, and met with no other chastisement than
deposition or banishment. Louis kept fair with the
Church ; and the Church soon made him sensible
that he should have been less cruel and more reso-

In 817 Louis followed his father's ill example, in
giving kingdoms to his children; and not having
either the courage or understanding of his father,
nor that authority which courage bestows, he
exposed himself to the effects of ingratitude; and
though too cruel an uncle, and too severe a brother,
he was too indulgent a father.

Having made his eldest son, Lotharius, his col-
league in the empire, given Aquitaine to the second,
Pepin, and Bavaria to Louis, his third son, there still
remained an infant whom he had had by a new wife.
This was Charles the Bald, who afterwards came to
be emperor. Having provided for his other sons,
he was resolved not to leave this child, the son of a
wife he loved, destitute -of dominions.

One of the sources of Louis's misfortunes, and
of the number of still greater disasters which have

Louis the Debonnaire. 149

since disturbed Europe, was the abuse which then
began to take its rise, of granting worldly power
to those who had renounced the world.

This memorable scene was opened by one Vala,
abbot of Corbie, a relation of the emperor's, a man
outrageous through a warmth of zeal or spirit of
faction, or perhaps both together; and one of the
heads of a party which has been so frequently
known to cause the greatest evils, by preaching up
too rigid a virtue, and to throw everything into con-
fusion, by pretending to reduce all to rule.

In a parliament held at Aix-la-Chapelle, in the
year 829, a parliament to which abbots had been
admitted, as being lords of very large manors, this
Vala openly reproved the emperor as the cause of
all the disorders in the state. " It is you," said he,
" that are guilty of them." He then proceeded to
address himself to each member in particular, in a
still more seditious manner, and had even the inso-
lence to accuse the empress Judith of adultery. He
strove to prevent and hinder the gifts which the
emperor had resolved to bestow on the son he had
by this empress; thus he went on disturbing the
peace and honor of the royal family, and conse-
quently the state, under the pretext of promoting
its welfare.

The emperor being at last enraged at these pro-
ceedings, sent Vala back to his convent, from
whence he ought never to have come out; and
resolving to satisfy his wife, gave the son he had by

150 Ancient and Modern History.

her a small part of Germany, towards the Rhine,
which is now called Switzerland, and the Franche-

If the laws of Europe had been founded on
paternal authority; and if every mind had been
penetrated with a due sense of the necessity of
filial respect, as the first of all duties, as I have
already shown to be the case in China, the three
children of the emperor who had received their
crowns from him, would never have rebelled against
their father for bestowing an inheritance on a child
by a second marriage.

At first they showed their discontent by murmur-
ing; immediately upon this, the abbot of Corbie
joined with the abbot of St. Denis, a man of a still
more factious spirit; and who by possessing the
abbeys of St. Medard, Soissons, and St. Germain-
des-Pres, was able to raise troops; which he
accordingly did. The bishops of Vienne, Lyons,
and Amiens, uniting with these monks, pushed on
the princes to engage in a civil war, and declared
all who refused to join them rebels to God and the
Church. In vain did Louis, instead of raising an
army, convoke four councils, in which were made
some good but unnecessary laws: his three sons
had recourse to arms; and, I believe, this is the
first instance we have of three sons joining in rebel-
lion against their father. The emperor himself at
length took up arms, and two camps were seen
filled with bishops, abbots, and monks : but Gregory

Louis the Debonnaire. 151

IV. declaring on the side of the princes, his name
added great weight to their party. It had already
become the interest of the popes to humble the
emperors. One Stephen, Gregory's predecessor,
had already been installed in the pontifical chair
without the consent of Louis the Debonnaire; and
the raising disputes between the father and his
children seemed a ready means of aggrandizing
themselves on their ruins. Pope Gregory then came
to France, and threatened the emperor with excom-
munication, a ceremony which did not at that time
carry the same idea which has been since affixed to
it; no one then daring to pretend that an excom-
municated person was to be deprived of his posses-
sions by excommunication alone. Their intent was
to render the party execrable, and cut asunder by
this sword all the bands which could attach mankind
to him.

The bishops of the emperor's party made use of
their privilege, and boldly told the pope: "Si
excommunicaturus veniet, excommunicatus abibit."
" That if he came to excommunicate, he himself
would return excommunicated." They wrote to him
with a noble freedom, treating him indeed like a
pope, but at the same time like a brother. Gregory,
still more haughty than they, wrote back to them in
these words : " The term brother expresses too great
an equality; adhere to that of pope; acknowledge
my superiority, and know that the authority of my
chair is above that of Louis's throne." In short, in

152 Ancient and Modern History.

this letter he evaded the oath he had taken to the

In the midst of this war they entered on negotia-
tions. The pontiff made himself arbiter, and went
to meet the emperor in his camp, where he had the
same advantage that Louis formerly had over Ber-
nard; he seduced his troops, or at least suffered
them to be seduced; and deceived Louis, or was
deceived himself by the rebels in whose name he
came to speak; and scarcely had he left the camp,
when the very same night one-half of the emperor's
army went over to his son Lotharius.

This desertion happened in 830 near Basel, and
the plain where the pope carried on this negotiation
is still called " The Field of Lies." In this situation
the unhappy monarch was obliged to surrender him-
self prisoner to his rebellious children, together with
the empress Judith, his wife, the principal object of
their hatred: he delivered up to them his son
Charles, then only ten years old, and the innocent
pretence for this war. In more barbarous times,
like those of Clovis and his children, or in a country
such as Constantinople, I should not have wondered
if they had put Judith and her son, and even the
emperor himself, to death ; but here the conquerors
contented themselves with ordering the empress to
be shaven and confined in prison in Lombardy ; with
shutting up young Charles in the convent of Prum,
which is situated in the middle of the forest of
Ardennes; and with obliging their father to abdi-

Louis the Debonnaire. 153

cate the throne. Methinks, in reading the disasters
which befell this too affectionate parent, we must at
least feel a secret satisfaction in seeing his unnatural
sons behave no less ungratefully towards the abbot
Vala, who was the first author of all these troubles ;
and to the pope, who had so effectually carried them
on. The pontiff returned to Rome, despised by the
conquerors, and Vala shut himself up in a monastery
in Italy.

Lotharius, who was so much the more culpable as
he had been made copartner in the empire, dragged
his father as a prisoner to Compiegne. There had
been at that time a fatal abuse introduced into the
Church, which forbade the carrying arms, or the
exercising any of the civil functions during the time
of public penance. These penances were seldom
practised, and rarely fell upon any besides some
unhappy wretches among the dregs of the people.
It was however resolved that the emperor should
undergo this infamous punishment under the color
of a voluntary and Christian act of humiliation;
and to impose upon him a perpetual penance that
would degrade him forever.

Louis intimidated, had the meanness to consent
to this proposal, which was so insolent in them to
make. An archbishop of Rheims, named Hebo, who
had been raised from a servile condition to this dig-
nity by Louis himself, contrary to the laws, was the
person pitched upon to depose his sovereign and
benefactor. The emperor was obliged to make his

154 Ancient and Modern History.

appearance, surrounded by thirty bishops, canons,
and monks, in the church of Notre Dame, of Sois-
sons. His son Lotharius was present at this cere-
mony, and seemed to take an unnatural pleasure in
the humiliation of his father. A hair-cloth was
spread before the altar ; and the archbishop ordered
the emperor to take off his belt, sword, and coat,
and prostrate himself on the hair-cloth. Louis, with
his face to the earth, asked for public penance,
which he too well deserved for his meanness in sub-
mitting to it. The archbishop then obliged him to
read aloud a paper in which he was accused of sacri-
lege and murder; and the unhappy prince read
deliberately the list of his crimes, among which it
is expressly mentioned, that he had caused his
troops to march in Lent, and had called a parliament
on Holy Thursday. A graces-verbal was prepared
of the whole action, which still subsists a monument
of insolence and meanness. In this document they
do not so much as deign to give Louis the title of
emperor: he is there called Dominus Ludovicus, a
nobleman, a venerable person.

It has always been customary to support extraor-
dinary proceedings by some former examples. The
penance performed by Louis was authorized by the
precedent of a certain king of the Visigoths, named
Wamba, who reigned in Spain in the year 68 1, and
who, growing weak and childish, had public pen-
ance inflicted on him by a council held at Toledo,

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