The State: Its /Historic Rdle.
bring the towns under subjection When not marching by their orders,
the peasant left them free to act.
It is in the country, in a fortified castle, situated in the midst of
rural populations, that royalty was slowly constituted. In the twelfth
century it existed but in name, and to-day we know what to think of
the rogues, chiefs of little bands of brigands, who adorned themselves
with this title, which after all—Augustin Thierry has so well demonstrated it—had very little meaning at that time; in fact the Norse
fishermen had their " Nets' Kings," even the beggars had their "Kings''
—the word having then simply the signification of "temporary leader."
Slowly, tentatively, a baron mora powerful or more cunning than the
others, succeeded here and there in rising above the others. The Church
no doubt bestirred itself to support him. And by force, cunning,
money, sword, and poison in case of need, one of these feudal barons became great at the expense of the others. But it was never in one of
the free cities, which had their noisy forum, their Tarpeian rock, or their
river for the tyrants, that royal authority succeeded in constituting
itself : it was always in the country in the village.
After having vainly tried to constitute this authority in Rheims or
in Lyons, it was established in Paris,—an agglomeration of villages and
boroughs surrounded by a rich country, which had not yet known the
life of free cities; it was establisehd in Westminster, at the gates of populous London City; it was established in the Kremlin which was built
in the midst of rich villages on the banks of the Moskva, after having
failed at Souzdal and Vladimir,—but never in Novgorod or Pskov, in
Nuremberg or Florence could royal authority be consolidated.
The neighbouring peasants supplied them with grain, horses and men;
and commerce—royal, not communal—increased the wealth of the growing tyrants. The Church looked after their interests. It protected them,
came to their succour with its treasure chests; it invented a saint and
miracles for their royal town. It encircled with its veneration Notre-Dame
of Paris or the Virgin of Iberia at Moscow. And while the civilization
of free cities, emancipated from the bishops, took its youthful bound, the
Church worked steadily to reconstitute its authority by the intermediary of nascent royalty, it surrounded with its tender care, its incense
and its ducats, the family cradle of the one whom it had finally chosen,
in order to rebuild with him, and through him, the ecclesiastical authority. In Paris, Moscow, Madrid and Prague, you see the Church bending over the royal cradle, a lighted torch in its hand.
Hard at work, strong in its State education, leaning on the man of
will or cunning whom it sought out in any class of society, learned in intrigue as well as in Roman and Byzantine law—you see the Church
marching without respite towards its ideal; the Hebrew King, absolute