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and tanner; from embroidery in silk and gold to the coarsest preparations of flax and wooi. Most of these families were Gallic, born on that portion of territory which the king had adjudged to himself by right of conquest, or brought by violence from some neighbouring town, to colonize the royal domain. Buildings for agricultural purposes, such as stables, sheepfolds, and barns, with the hovels of the husbandmen, and the huts of the serfs, completed the royal establishment, which exactly resembled, though on a larger scale, the villages of ancient Germany. In the very site of these palaces of the Frank kings there was something which recalled the scenery beyond the Rhine ; most of them stood on the outskirts, and some in the very centre of these vast forests, since mutilated by civilization, but of which we still admire the remains. It was there that the king kept, in a secret apartment, in triplelocked chests, his treasures, consisting of gold coins, vases, and precious jewels. It was there also that he exercised his royal power. It was there that he assembled the chiefs and bishops from the towns, received ambassadors from foreign states, and presided over the great assemblies of the Franks, which were followed by those feasts, traditional among the Teutonic races, at which wild boars and deer were served up whole on spits, and staved barrels occupied the four corners of the hall. When not employed in war, the king went from one of these palaces to another, from Braine to Attigny,
from Attigny to Compiegne, from Compiegne to Verberie, consuming all the provisions he found ; hunting, swimming, or fishing, with his followers." In these abodes of rude and barbarous magnificence dwelt the Frank kings. Had Charlemagne seen nothing better, he would, doubtless, have remained contented with these, as his ancestors had done for so many generations; but he visited Italy, and the ruins of ancient Rome, magnificent even in decay, could not but excite the monarch's admiration. He gazed with wonder at the mighty works reared by these old masters o the world—bridges, aqueducts, villas, basilicas, military entrenchments the products and homes of military power, patrician luxury, and commercial enterprise ; and he determined to erect such upon the soil of France. Of the palaces which he built in imitation of those he had admired in Italy, two are specially mentioned, as distinguished by unusual beauty, those at Ingleheim and Aix la Chapelle. The latter of these, from its extent and splendour, was popularly styled Little Rome. For its erection, he obtained from the pope a grant of such marbles and mosaics as he needed from the ancient palaces and basilicas of Rome and Ravenna. Were the fact less adequately attested, we might have doubted whether even the energy of Charlemagne could have succeeded in conveying these massive blocks and columns with their delicate carving and tracery to so great a distance. Little did
the Roman emperors and patricians suppose, when they reared these stately domes, that at some future day, they would only afford quarries whence the descendants of those rude chiefs, whom their legions were employed in quelling, would draw materials for erecting palaces, amidst what was then the primeval forest on the banks of the Rhine.
The palaces which he thus erected and adorned, Charlemagne surrounded with farms, gardens, and vineyards, which were cultivated under his special superintendence, It is said that he stocked them with exotic plants, and strange animals, either collected by himself or sent to him by foreign potentates, and that he was careful to introduce into them all those better modes of agriculture which he observed elsewhere.*
That he set a high value upon commerce is very evident. He sought to open commercial intercourse and relations between his own subjects and the most distant nations. With the Sclavons, who peopled the coasts of the Baltic, he established a trade in furs and slaves; and with the Greeks in works of art, the precious metals, and articles of luxury. He even sent ambassadors to the distant court of Persia. They were absent four years, and only one of them, Isaac, a Jew, returned alive. He was accompanied by envoys from Haroun al Raschid, bringing as presents from the greatest monarch of the east to the greatest monarch of the west,
* Menzel's History of Germany, vol. 1. p. 256.
an elephant trained to the performance of many wonderful feats of strength and skill; fine silks and cloths from the looms of Tabreez; a magnificent tent; a water clock, which struck the hours, and was adorned with automatic figures, which seems to have been regarded by the simple-minded Franks as the work of magic; the standard of Jerusalem, and the keys of the holy sepulchre.
Manufactures were not altogether neglected, though they occupied less attention and were regarded as beneath the dignity of freemen. The only artificers of the period were women and slaves. To the female part of the community, Charlemagne set an example of diligence by making his daughters accustom themselves to spin wool, and hold the distaff and spindle, and in short employ themselves in all the avocations of the time, so that idleness should not corrupt them."
Among the most extraordinary projects of this remarkable man, was one for the junction of the Baltic and the Black Sea, by means of a ship canal. In the year 793, the Saxons, the Lombards, and the Saracens, were all up in arms against him. As he was thus assailed on three sides at once, and could not tell which attack would prove most serious, he despatched an army under one of his generals to each of the threatened frontiers, whilst he, gathering a strong body of troops as an army of
reserve, took up a position in the centre, ready to bear
* Eginhardt, Vita Caroli Magni, c. xix,
down at once upon the point where his presence was most needed.
In the neighbourhood of his encampment, branches from the Danube and the Rhine approach within a few miles of each other. He at once perceived the advantage which would accrue to Europe if, by uniting these two, he could make a passage for ships from the Baltic to the Euxine, and thence into the Mediterranean. Indolence was insufferable to himself, and he knew it would be most injurious to his troops. He therefore employed them during this period of constrained inaction in commencing a canal, three hundred feet broad, from the one river to the other. The work went on rapidly for some time, but the nature of the ground, boggy in some parts and rocky in others, presented insuperable obstacles to the defective engineering of that day. Heavy rains followed by violent floods burst the banks he had constructed, and swept away a great part of the works. He was, therefore, compelled to abandon the great enterprise, nor did he ever find opportunity to renew the attempt. The traces of the excavations yet remain ; and recently, after the lapse of a thousand years, it has been proposed to attempt the completion of the work thus adventurously begun.
Whilst Charlemagne was thus anxious to benefit his countrymen by introducing among them the learning, arts, and commerce of foreign nations, he did not lose the simplicity and plainness, both of manners and costume, which had always characterized the Franks.