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blems have been more differently and eagerly debated than that as to when and how the feudal system commenced. To speak only of French scholars and publicists, ChantereauLefevre, Salvaing, Brussel, de Boulainvilliers, Dubos, Mably, Montesquieu, and many others: each forms a different idea of it. Whence arises this diversity? It is that they have almost all proposed to find the feudal system entire even in its very cradle, to find it such as they see it is at the epoch of its full development. Feudalism has, as it were, entered at once into their mind; and it is in this condition, at this stage of its history, that they have everywhere sought it. And as, notwithstanding, each of them has applied himself more particularly to such and such a characteristic of the feudal system, and has made it to consist in one particular element rather than another, they have been led into immensely different ideas of the epoch and mode of its formation; ideas which may be easily rectified and reconciled as soon people will consent not to forget that feudalism took five centuries in forming, and that its numerous elements, during this long epoch, belong to very different elements and origins.
It is according to this idea, and never losing sight of it, that I shall endeavour to trace the history of its progressive formation, rapidly and as a preparation to the study of feudalism itself.
To succeed in this, it is necessary-first, to determine the principal facts, the essential elements of this social condition; I mean the facts which properly constitute it, and distinguish it from all others. Secondly, to follow these facts through their successive transformations, each isolately and in itself, and in the junctions and combinations which at the end of five centuries resulted in feudalism.
The essential facts, the constituent elements of the feudal system, may, I think, be reduced to three.
1. The particular nature of territorial property, real, full, hereditary, and yet derived from a superior, imposing certain personal obligations on its possessor, under pain of forfeiture, in a word, wanting in that complete independence which is wow its characteristic.
2. The amalgamation of sovereignty with property, I mean the attribution to the proprietor of the soil over all the inhabitants of that soil, of the whole or nearly the whole of those rights which constitute what we now call sovereignty, and which are now possessed only by the government, the public power.
3. The hierarchical system of legislative, judicial, military institutions, which united the possessors of fiefs among themselves, and formed them into a general society.
These, if I am not mistaken, are the truly essential and constitutive facts of feudalism. It would be easy to resolve it into a larger number of elements, to assign to it a greater number of characteristics; but these, I think, are the principal, and contain all the others. I shall therefore confine myself to them, and sum them up by saying, that properly to comprehend the progressive development of feudalism, we have to study: first, the history of territorial property, that is, the state of lands; secondly, the history of sovereignty and of the social state, that is, the state of persons; thirdly, the history of the political system, that is, the state of institutions.
I enter at once into the matter; the history of territorial property will now occupy us.
At the end of the tenth century, when feudalism was definitively constituted, its territorial element, as you know, bore the name of fief (feodum, feudum). A writer replete with sense and learning, Brussel, in his Examen de l'usage general des Fiefs aux 11, 13, et 14 siècles, says, that the word fief (feodum) did not originally mean the land itself, the body of the domain, but only what in feudal language is called the tenure of the land, that is, its relation of dependence towards such or such a suzerain:
Thus,” says he," when king Louis ie Jeune notifies by a charter of the year 1167, that count Henry of Champagne has granted the fief of Savegny to Bartholomew, bishop of Beauvais, it is only to be understood from this, that count Henry had granted the dependence of Savegny to the bishop of Beauvais; so that this land which had hitherto been held immediately from the count of Champagne was thenceforward only to hold of him as a sub-fief.”
I think that Brussel is mistaken. It is very improbable that the name of feudal property meant at first only the quality, the attribute of that property, and not the thing itself. When the first lands which became fiefs were given, it woud
not suzerainty alone which was conferred; the donors evidently gave the land itself. At a later period, when the feudal system and its ideas had gained some firmness and develop. ment, then they might have distinguished the tenure of the domain, have given one apart from the other, and designated it by a particular word. It may be that at this epoch the word fief was often used for the tenure, independently of the body of the land. But such could not have been the primi. tive meaning of feodum; the domain and the tenure were surely originally confounded in language as in fact.
However this may be, the word is only found at a late period in the documents of our history. It appears for the first time in a charter of Charles le Gros, in 884. It is there repeated three times, and almost at the same epoch it is also met with elsewhere. Its etymology is uncertain; many have been assigned to it. I shall point out but two of them, as those alone which I consider probable. According to some (and this is the opinion of most of the French jurisconsults, of Cujas among others), the word feodum is of Latin origin; it comes from the word fides, and means the land in consideration of which people were bound to fidelity towards a suzerain. According to others, and especially according to German writers, feodum is of German origin, and comes from two ancient words, of which one has disappeared from the German languages, while the other still exists in many, particularly in the English, from the word fe, fee, reward, recompence, and from the radical od, property, goods, possession; so that feodum means a property given in recompence, by way of pay or reward.
The Germanic origin seems to me far more probable than the Latin origin: first, because of the very construction of the word, and next, because that, at the time when it was introduced into our territory, it was from Germany that it
came; lastly, because, in our ancient Latin documents, this kind of property bears a different name—that of beneficium. The word beneficium very frequently occurs in our historical documents from the fifth to the tenth century, and these evidently indicate the same condition of territorial property which, at the end of the eleventh century, took the name of feodum. For a long time after this epoch, the two words are synonymous; so that in the very charter referred
to, of Charles le Gros, down to a charter of the emperor Frederic I., of 1162, feodum and beneficium are used indifferently.
In order, therefore, to the study of the history of the feoda from the fifth to the tenth century, it is necessary to look at that of the beneficia. What we say of benefices will apply to fiefs, because the two words, at different dates, are the expression of the same fact.
From the earliest times of our history, immediately after the invasion and establishment of the Germans upon Gallic soil, we find benefices appear. This kind of territorial property is contradistinguished from another, which bears the name of alodium. The word alod, alodium, means an estate which the possessor holds of no one, which imposed no obligation upon him towards any one.
There is reason to suppose that the first freeholds were lands which, under various forms, and without general or systematic division, were appropriated amongst themselves by the conquering Germans, Franks, Burgundians, or Visigoths, at the time of their establishment.
These were entirely independent; they were gained by conquest, by lot, not from a superior. They were called alod, that is to say, according to some, lot, chance ; according to others, full, independent property, (Al-od.)
The word beneficium, on the contrary, meant from its origin (it is on the very face of it) an estate received from a superior by way of recompence, of favour, and which required certain duties and services towards him. You know that the German chiefs, to attract or attach their companions to them, made them presents of arms, of horses, supported them and maintained them in their train. The gifts of estates, the benefices, succeeded, or at least were added to presents of moveables. But thence there was to result, and in fact soon did result, a considerable change in the relations between the chief and his companions. The presents of arms, horses, banquets, retained the companions around the chief, and made them lead a life in common. The gifts of estates, on the contrary, were an infallible cause of separation. Among the men to whom their chiefs gave benefices, many soon wished to establish themselves upon those benefices, to live
also upon their own estates, there to become in their turn the centre of a small society. Thus, by their very nature, the new gifts of the chief to his companions dispersed the band, and changed the principles as well as the forms of the suciety.
There was a second difference, fertile in results: the quan. tity of arms, horses, in a word, of personal presents, which a chief might make to his men was unlimited. It was a matter of pillage; a new expedition always procured the means of giving. It could not be so with presents of estates. There was doubtless much to share in the Roman empire, but still the mine was not inexhaustible; and when a chief had given away the lands of a country where he was fixed, he had nothing more to give, in order to gain other companions, unless by constantly recommencing the wandering life, by constantly changing residence and country, a habit which gradually disappeared Thence a twofold fact is everywhere visible, from the fifth to the ninth century. On the one hand, the constant efforts of the givers of benefices to resume them when it suited them, and to make them a means of acquiring other companions; on the other, the equally constant effort of the beneficiaries to insure themselves the full and unalterable possession of the estates, and to free themselves from their obligations towards the chief from whom they held them, but with whom they no longer lived, and whose whole fate they no longer shared.
From this twofold effort there resulted a continual instability in properties of this kind. Some resumed them, others retained them by force, and all accused each other of usurpation.
This was the fact; but what was the right? what was the legal condition of benefices, and of the tie formed between the givers and the receivers? Let us see the system of most political historians, especially of Montesquieu, Robertson, and Mably.
They think the benefices were: 1, entirely revocable; the giver could take them back when he pleased; 2, temporary, conceded for a fixed time, a year, five years, ten years; 3, for life, granted during the life of the beneficiary; 4, lastly, hereditary. Arbitrary revocability, temporary concession, life possession, and hereditary property, such, in their opinions, are the four conditions through which beneficiary property