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upheld his state in peace,' receiving in return such presents as their leader could confer.
The power of all the chiefs, whether reges, duces, or principes, was greatly limited. All important State affairs were discussed and determined in the national assemblies, held at stated times, and attended by all the freemen of the tribe. Questions of minor importance were settled by the principes, meeting as a separate body, and this body also appears to have taken the initiative in bringing matters before the larger assembly.
Below the freemen was a class of men intermediate between the slave and the freeman. They were not slaves, but they had no political rights. They were the cultivators of the soil which they held under the frecmcn, to whom they rendered a part of its producc as rent. Last of all came the more slaves, chicfly made up of prisoners of war and of freemen who had been degraded for some crime.
Among the freemen there were differences of rank and social status ; some were of noble blood and some were not; but this distinction carried with it no inequality of political rights. Military valour was shared by the Germans with all the northern nations ; but one of their national traits was remarkable from the earliest times, the respect paid by them to the women of their race, who on their side were celebrated for an exceptional chastity. The tie of kindred was strong and all-pervading ; it formed the basis of social organization, and entered into the military, the legal, and the territorial arrangements.” Side by side with it may be discerned the germ of Feudalism in the relation existing between the princeps and his comites, though it was as yet unconnected with the tenure of land.
In pace decus, in bello praesidium. Tac. Germ. c. xiii. . See Tacitus, Germania, for the importance of the family tie; its bearings on the host, c. 7 ; feuds, c. 21 ; inheritance, c. 20 ; the kin of the unfaithful wife, c. 19; exogamy unusual, c. 4. Geffroy (Rome et les Barbares, p. 207), says : 'Il est facile de distinguer dans les récits de César et de Tacite l'existence de petits groupes d'autant mieux constitués que les cercles en sont plus étroits, et qu'on se rapproche d'avantage du groupe le plus simple et le moins nombreux, celui de la fainille.'
Such were the general features of the political and social system which our Teutonic forefathers brought with them to their new island home. But the process of migration and conquest necessarily produced certain modifications and developments of the primitive institutions. One of the carliest of these developments was the institution of
royalty. The Teu. According to the Saxon Chronicle, the chicftains of the tonic leaders assume the first settlers were only distinguished by the title of Ealdorregal title.
man, or Herctoga, the former word expressing the civil, the latter the military, aspect of the same office. But the successful leader soon won for himself a position mucli stronger than that of any chicf in the old land, and, in most cases, assumed the regal titlc, as more accurately denoting his altered relation to liis followers. The word Cyning, or King, closcly connected as it is with the word Cyn, or Kin, marked out the bearer of the title as the representative of the race, the head and leader of the people, not the lord of the soil. His reputed descent from Woden, the god from whom all the English kings professed to descend, invested with a semi-sacred character the authority which his own prowess and the will of the people had
conferred upon him. Conversion The conversion of the English to Christianity exercised of the English to
an important influence upon the national development. Christianity. The Church not only introduced a higher civilization, miti(A. D. 597– 681.)
gated the original fierceness of the heathen conquerors, softened their pride of birth and race, and exalted the power of the intellect above that of brute force, but also supplied a new and powerful bond of union to a divided people. Once within the pale of the universal Christian Church, the English, moreover, were necessarily brought into relations with the general political society of Europe ;
A. D. 449 (of the Jutes) : 'Heora heretogan wäron twegen gebroda, Hengest and Horsa.'
A.D. 495 (of the West Saxons): «Her comen twegen ealitvrmen on Brytene, Cerdic and Cynric his súnu.'-anglo-Sax. Chron. ; cf. Freeman, Norm. Conq. i. 77.
and in the highly organized system of ecclesiastical synods they found a pattern by which to regulate the procedure of their own political assemblies. From the first the Church National entered into the closest alliance with the State, and while character
of the paying respectful deference to the Roman Sce, grew up Church. with a distinctly marked national character. Theodore of Tarsus, cnthroned Archbishop of Canterbury in 66S, reduced the whole ecclesiastical organization of the various kingdoms into one national Church. Henceforward the Church existed as a united, central, and national institution, in spite of the separation and frequent hostility of the states to which the clergy individually belonged. Thus the ccclesiastical unity preceded and pointed the way to the civil unity of the nation. After the first missionary prelates had passed away, the highest spiritual dignities were filled by Englishmen, members, for the most part, of noble and powerful families. The tie thus created between the clergy and the State was strengthened by the union of secular and spiritual functions. The bishops were prominent members of the Witcnagemòt, and frequently acted as the chief ministers of the King. They also shared with the ealdormen in the local judicial administration. The Church thus entered into close combination with the civil organization, gradually intertwining itself with all the feelings and customs of the people, and acquiring in the process its exceptionally national character.
During the whole period commonly called the Hep- The Brettarchy, the land was full of petty kings or princes, some waldas. one of whom, from time to time, obtained a forcible predominance over his neighbours. Bede enumerates seven who are said to have enjoyed such a predominance or
• Isque primus erat in archiepiscopis cui omnis Anglorum aecclesia manus dare consentiret.'—Beda, Hist. Ecc. iv. 2; Kemble, Saxons in England, ii. 366.
• There were at least nine, if not ten, independent states founded by the invaders ; and there was never a confecerate government composed of the different states as members. The word Ileptarchy, therefore, is not accurate, but it is convenient is taken to denule the greater prominence of seven states out of the number.
leadership over nearly the whole island ; and the Saxon Chronicle speaks of Ecgberht as 'the eighth king who was Bretwalda.'? What were the exact nature and extent of the dominion of these Bretwaldas is very doubtful; but we may accept as a fact that each of the seven had acquired and exercised some kind of supremacy over all his neighbours. The existence of the Bretwaldas would seem to indicate certain earlier attempts at a union of the whole English race, which was ultimately carried out by the West Saxon kings in the 9th and 10th centuries.?
The three kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, and Northumbria at length became predominant. Ecgberht, King of the West Saxons, not only added to his dominions the dependent kingdoms of Kent and Essex, but compelled the extensive states of Mercia and Northumbria to acknowledge his supremacy. Still the Mercians, East Anglians, and Northumbrians retained each their ancient line of kings, and neither Ecgberht nor his five immediate successors assumed any other title than that of King of the West Saxons. This is the only style used by Elfred in his
will. Invasions of The consolidation of the various kingdoms into one was (787–1070.)
hastened by the invasions of the Danes, by which the three minor kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia were overwhelmed, and even that of the West Saxons was brought to the brink of destruction. Led by their Vikingr, or Sea-kings, these `Slayers of the North’ravaged almost every European coast during the 9th and 10th centuries. They were closely akin to the English, and spoke another dialect of the same common Teutonic speech. Their insti
Beda, Hist. Eccles. ii. 5; Chron. Ang. -Sax. an. $27. Mr. Kemble points out that of six manuscripts in which the passage quoted occurs, only one reads ‘Bretwalda,' four have Bryten-, and one Breten-walılı. • The true meaning of this word, which is compounded of wealda, a ruler, and the adjective bryten, is totally unconnected with Bret or Bretwealh, the name of the British aborigines. Bryten is derived from breótan, to distribute, disperse : it is a common prefix to words denoting wide or general dispersion, and when coupled with wealda, means no more than an extensive, powerful king—a king whose power is widely extended.'- Saxons in England, ii. 20.
? Freeman, Norin. Conq., i. 28.
tutions exhibited a striking similarity to those of the English, and even where differing in detail were generally governed by identical principles. The first recorded descent of the Danes upon the shores of England occurred towards the end of the 8th century. They re-appeared again and again, and at length, instead of making more predatory excursions, began to form permanent settlements in the island. The genius and heroism of Elfred' alone rescued the English from their imminent peril. Yet he was never able to expel thc Danes from England, or to become its sole master. By the treaty of Ælfred and Guthrum (11.D. 879), the limits of the Danish occupation southward were defined up on the Thames, and then up on the Lea, along the Lea unto its source, tlien right. to Bedford, then up on the Quse unto Watling Street.'? To the North it extended as far as the Tyne, and on the West to the mountain districts of Yorkshire, Westmoreland, and Cumberland. Throughout this district—the Denalagu, or region where the Danish law was in force—the armies, as the Saxon Chronicle expressly terms them, of the Danes continued to occupy the land, governing, as a military aristocracy, the subject Anglian population. The victorious arms of Ælfred's three able and energetic successors, Eadward, Æthelstan, and Eadmund, succeeded in reducing the Danes to something like real submission, and also in obtaining an acknowledgment of supremacy over the bordering nations of the isle of Britain. At length, in 959, Eadgar, having outlived the last Danish king of Northumbria, received the crown as King of all England, uniting in his person, as the elect of all three provinces of England, the threefold sovereignty of the West Saxons, Mercians, and Northum
· Dr. Freeman thus eloquently sums up the character of the great Alfred : 'A saint without superstition, a scholar without ostentation, a warrior all whose wars were fought in defence of his country, a conqueror whose laurels were never stained by cruelty, a prince never cast down by adversity, never lifted up to insolence in the day of triumph '-and adds, with perhaps pardonable exaggeration, there is no other name in history to compare with him. Norm. Cong. i. 51.
? Thorpe, Anc. Laws and Inst. an. 879.