The State: Its Historic Rdle.
to recognize the accomplished fact—or else to fight the young "conjuration" by force of arms. Often the king—that is to say the prince
who tried to gain superiority over other princes, and whose coffers were
always empty,—"granted" the charter, for ready money. He thus renounced imposing Adjudge on the commune, while giving himself importance before other feudal lords. But it was in nowise the rule:
hundreds of communes lived without any other sanctiorr than their
good pleasure, their ramparts and their lances.
In a hundred years this movement spread, with striking unity, to the
whole of Europe,—by imitation, observe well,—including Scotland,
France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland
and Russia. And to-day, when we compare the charters and internal
organisation of French, English, Scotch, Irish, Scandinavian, German,
Bohemian, Russian, Swiss, Italian and Spanish communes, we are struck
with the almost complete sameness of these charters, and of the organisation which grew up under the shelter of these " social contracts." What
a striking lesson for Romanists and Hegelists who know no other
means to obtain similarity of institutions than servitude before thejlaw !
From the Atlantic to the middle course of the Volga, and from Norway to Italy, Europe was covered with similar communes—some becoming populous cities like Florence, Venice, Nuremberg or Novgorod,
others remaining boroughs of a hundred or even twenty families, and
nevertheless treated as equals by their more or less prosperous sisters.
Organisms full of vigour, the communes evidently grew dissimilar in
their evolution. The geographical position, the character of external
commerce, the obstacles to be vanquished outside, gave every commune
its own history. But for all, the principle was the same. Pskov in
Russia and Brugge in Flanders, a Scotch borough of three hundred inhabitants and rich Venice with its islands, a borough in the North of
France or in Poland, and Florence the Beautiful represent the same
amitas. The same fellowship of village communes and of associated
guilds; the same constitution in its general outline.
Generally, the town, whose enclosure grows in length and breadth
with the population and surrounds itself with higher and higher towers,
erected, each, by such and such a parish or such guild, and having its
own individual character,—generally, I say, the town is divided into
four, five or six districts or sections which radiate from the citadel to the
ramparts. In preference these districts are inhabitated, each, by one
"art" or craft, whereas new trades—the "young arts"—occupy the
suburbs, which will soon be enclosed in a new fortified circle.
The street or parish, represents a territorial unit, corresponding to