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Title: Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period
Author: Jacob, P. L., 1806-1884
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: The Queen of Sheba before Solomon

(_Costume of 15th century_.)

Fac-simile of a miniature from the _Breviary_ of the Cardinal Grimani,
attributed to Memling. Bibl. of S. Marc, Venice. (From a copy in the
possession of M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot.)

The King inclines his sceptre towards the Queen indicating his
appreciation of her person and her gifts; five ladies attend the Queen and
five of the King's courtiers stand on his right hand.]

Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the
Renaissance Period.

By Paul Lacroix
(Bibliophile Jacob),
Curator of the Imperial Library of the Arsenal, Paris.

Illustrated with
Nineteen Chromolithographic Prints by F. Kellerhoven
and upwards of
_Four Hundred Engravings on Wood_.


The several successive editions of "The Arts of the Middle Ages and Period
of the Renaissance" sufficiently testify to its appreciation by the
public. The object of that work was to introduce the reader to a branch of
learning to which access had hitherto appeared only permitted to the
scientific. That attempt, which was a bold one, succeeded too well not to
induce us to push our researches further. In fact, art alone cannot
acquaint us entirely with an epoch. "The arts, considered in their
generality, are the true expressions of society. They tell us its tastes,
its ideas, and its character." We thus spoke in the preface to our first
work, and we find nothing to modify in this opinion. Art must be the
faithful expression of a society, since it represents it by its works as
it has created them--undeniable witnesses of its spirit and manners for
future generations. But it must be acknowledged that art is only the
consequence of the ideas which it expresses; it is the fruit of
civilisation, not its origin. To understand the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance, it is necessary to go back to the source of its art, and to
know the life of our fathers; these are two inseparable things, which
entwine one another, and become complete one by the other.

The Manners and Customs of the Middle Ages:--this subject is of the
greatest interest, not only to the man of science, but to the man of the
world also. In it, too, "we retrace not only one single period, but two
periods quite distinct one from the other." In the first, the public and
private customs offer a curious mixture of barbarism and civilisation. We
find barbarian, Roman, and Christian customs and character in presence of
each other, mixed up in the same society, and very often in the same
individuals. Everywhere the most adverse and opposite tendencies display
themselves. What an ardent struggle during that long period! and how full,
too, of emotion is its picture! Society tends to reconstitute itself in
every aspect. She wants to create, so to say, from every side, property,
authority, justice, &c., &c., in a word, everything which can establish
the basis of public life; and this new order of things must be established
by means of the elements supplied at once by the barbarian, Roman, and
Christian world--a prodigious creation, the working of which occupied the
whole of the Middle Ages. Hardly does modern society, civilised by
Christianity, reach the fullness of its power, than it divides itself to
follow different paths. Ancient art and literature resuscitates because
custom _insensibly_ takes that direction. Under that influence, everything
is modified both in private and public life. The history of the human race
does not present a subject more vast or more interesting. It is a subject
we have chosen to succeed our first book, and which will be followed by a
similar study on the various aspects of Religious and Military Life.

This work, devoted to the vivid and faithful description of the Manners
and Customs of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, answers fully to the
requirements of contemporary times. We are, in fact, no longer content
with the chronological narration and simple nomenclatures which formerly
were considered sufficient for education. We no longer imagine that the
history of our institutions has less interest than that of our wars, nor
that the annals of the humbler classes are irrelevant to those of the
privileged orders. We go further still. What is above all sought for in
historical works nowadays is the physiognomy, the inmost character of past
generations. "How did our fathers live?" is a daily question. "What
institutions had they? What were their political rights? Can you not
place before us their pastimes, their hunting parties, their meals, and
all sorts of scenes, sad or gay, which composed their home life? We should
like to follow them in public and private occupations, and to know their
manner of living hourly, as we know our own."

In a high order of ideas, what great facts serve as a foundation to our
history and that of the modern world! We have first royalty, which, weak
and debased under the Merovingians, rises and establishes itself
energetically under Pépin and Charlemagne, to degenerate under Louis le
Débonnaire and Charles le Chauve. After having dared a second time to
found the Empire of the Caesars, it quickly sees its sovereignty replaced
by feudal rights, and all its rights usurped by the nobles, and has to
struggle for many centuries to recover its rights one by one.

Feudalism, evidently of Germanic origin, will also attract our attention,
and we shall draw a rapid outline of this legislation, which, barbarian at
the onset, becomes by degrees subject to the rules of moral progress. We
shall ascertain that military service is the essence itself of the "fief,"
and that thence springs feudal right. On our way we shall protest against
civil wars, and shall welcome emancipation and the formation of the
communes. Following the thousand details of the life of the people, we
shall see the slave become serf, and the serf become peasant. We shall
assist at the dispensation of justice by royalty and nobility, at the
solemn sittings of parliaments, and we shall see the complicated details
of a strict ceremonial, which formed an integral part of the law, develop
themselves before us. The counters of dealers, fairs and markets,
manufactures, commerce, and industry, also merit our attention; we must
search deeply into corporations of workmen and tradesmen, examining their
statutes, and initiating ourselves into their business. Fashion and dress
are also a manifestation of public and private customs; for that reason we
must give them particular attention.

And to accomplish the work we have undertaken, we are lucky to have the
conscientious studies of our old associates in the great work of the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance to assist us: such as those of Emile
Bégin, Elzéar Blaze, Depping, Benjamin Guérard, Le Roux de Lincy, H.
Martin, Mary-Lafon, Francisque Michel, A. Monteil, Rabutau, Ferdinand
Séré, Horace de Viel-Castel, A. de la Villegille, Vallet de Viriville.

As in the volume of the Arts of the Middle Ages, engraving and
chromo-lithography will come to our assistance by reproducing, by means of
strict fac-similes, the rarest engravings of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, and the most precious miniatures of the manuscripts preserved
in the principal libraries of France and Europe. Here again we have the
aid of the eminent artist, M. Kellerhoven, who quite recently found means
of reproducing with so much fidelity the gems of Italian painting.

Paul Lacroix
(Bibliophile Jacob).

Table of Contents.

Condition of Persons and Lands

  Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle
  Ages.--Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.--Fusion
  organized under Charlemagne.--Royal Authority.--Position of the Great
  Feudalists.--Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to
  Landed Possessions.--Freeman and Tenants.--The Læti, the Colon, the
  Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower
  Classes.--Formation of Communities.--Right of Mortmain.

Privileges and Rights (Feudal and Municipal)

  Elements of Feudalism.--Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting,
  Safe-Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.--Immunity of the
  Feudalists.--Dues from the Nobles to their Sovereign.--Law and
  University Dues.--Curious Exactions resulting from the Universal System
  of Dues.--Struggles to enfranchise the Classes subjected to
  Dues.--Feudal Spirit and Citizen Spirit.--Resuscitation of the System of
  Ancient Municipalities in Italy, Germany, and France.--Municipal
  Institutions and Associations.--The Community.--The Middle-Class Cities
  (_Cités Bourgeoises_).--Origin of National Unity.

Private Life in the Castles, the Towns, and the Rural Districts

  The Merovingian Castles.--Pastimes of the Nobles: Hunting,
  War.--Domestic Arrangements.--Private Life of Charlemagne.--Domestic
  Habits under the Carlovingians.--Influence of Chivalry.--Simplicity of
  the Court of Philip Augustus not imitated by his Successors.--Princely
  Life of the Fifteenth Century.--The bringing up of Latour Landry, a
  Noble of Anjou.--Varlets, Pages, Esquires, Maids of Honour.--Opulence of
  the Bourgeoisie.--"Le Ménagier de Paris."--Ancient Dwellings.--State of
  Rustics at various Periods.--"Rustic Sayings," by Noël du Fail.

Food and Cookery

  History of Bread.--Vegetables and Plants used in
  Cooking.--Fruits.--Butchers' Meat.--Poultry, Game.--Milk, Butter,
  Cheese, and Eggs.--Fish and Shellfish.--Beverages: Beer, Cider, Wine,
  Sweet Wine, Refreshing Drinks, Brandy.--Cookery.--Soups, Boiled Food,
  Pies, Stews, Salads, Roasts, Grills.--Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar,
  Verjuice.--Sweets, Desserts, Pastry,--Meals and Feasts.--Rules of
  Serving at Table from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries.


  Venery and Hawking.--Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle.--Gaston Phoebus and his
  Book.--The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen.--Sporting Societies and
  Brotherhoods.--Sporting Kings: Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XI.,
  Charles VIII., Louis XII., Francis I., &c.--Treatise on
  Venery.--Sporting Popes.--Origin of Hawking.--Training Birds.--Hawking
  Retinues.--Book of King Modus.--Technical Terms used in
  Hawking.--Persons who have excelled in this kind of Sport.--Fowling.

Games and Pastimes

  Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.--Games of the Circus.--Animal
  Combats.--Daring of King Pepin.--The King's Lions.--Blind Men's
  Fights.--Cockneys of Paris.--Champ de Mars.--Cours Plénières and Cours
  Couronnées.--Jugglers, Tumblers, and
  Minstrels.--Rope-dancers.--Fireworks.--Gymnastics.--Cards and
  Dice.--Chess, Marbles, and Billiards.--La Soule, La Pirouette,
  &c.--Small Games for Private Society.--History of Dancing.--Ballet des
  Ardents.--The "Orchésographie" (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arbeau.--List
  of Dances.


  State of Commerce after the Fall of the Roman Empire; its Revival under
  the Frankish Kings; its Prosperity under Charlemagne; its Decline down
  to the Time of the Crusaders.--The Levant Trade of the
  East.--Flourishing State of the Towns of Provence and
  Languedoc.--Establishment of Fairs.--Fairs of Landit, Champagne,
  Beaucaire, and Lyons.--Weights and Measures.--Commercial Flanders.--Laws
  of Maritime Commerce.--Consular Laws.--Banks and Bills of
  Exchange.--French Settlements on the Coast of Africa.--Consequences of
  the Discovery of America.

Guilds and Trade Corporations

  Uncertain Origin of Corporations.--Ancient Industrial Associations.--The
  Germanic Guild.--Colleges.--Teutonic Associations.--The Paris Company
  for the Transit of Merchandise by Water.--Corporations properly so
  called.--Etienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," or the First Code of
  Regulations.--The Laws governing Trades.--Public and Private
  Organization of Trades Corporations and other Communities.--Energy of
  the Corporations.--Masters, Journeymen, Supernumeraries, and
  Apprentices.--Religious Festivals and Trade Societies.--Trade Unions.

Taxes, Money, and Finance

  Taxes under the Roman Rule.--Money Exactions of the Merovingian
  Kings.--Varieties of Money.--Financial Laws under Charlemagne.--Missi
  Dominici.--Increase of Taxes owing to the Crusades.--Organization of
  Finances by Louis IX.--Extortions of Philip lo Bel.--Pecuniary
  Embarrassment of his Successors.--Charles V. re-establishes Order in
  Finances.--Disasters of France under Charles VI., Charles VII., and
  Jacques Coeur.--Changes in Taxation from Louis XI. to Francis I.--The
  Great Financiers.--Florimond Robertet.

Law and the Administration of Justice

  The Family the Origin of Government.--Origin of Supreme Power amongst
  the Franks.--The Legislation of Barbarism humanised by
  Christianity.--Right of Justice inherent to the Right of Property.--The
  Laws under Charlemagne.--Judicial Forms.--Witnesses.--Duels,
  &c.--Organization of Royal Justice under St. Louis.--The Châtelet and
  the Provost of Paris.--Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its
  Responsibilities.--The Bailiwicks.--Struggles between Parliament and the
  Châtelet.--Codification of the Customs and Usages.--Official
  Cupidity.--Comparison between the Parliament and the Châtelet.

Secret Tribunals

  The Old Man of the Mountain and his Followers in Syria.--The Castle of
  Alamond, Paradise of Assassins.--Charlemagne the Founder of Secret
  Tribunals amongst the Saxons.--The Holy Vehme.--Organization of the
  Tribunal of the _Terre Rouge_, and Modes adopted in its
  Procedures.--Condemnations and Execution of Sentences.--The Truth
  respecting the Free Judges of Westphalia.--Duration and Fall of the
  Vehmie Tribunal.--Council of Ten, in Venice; its Code and Secret
  Decisions.--End of the Council of Ten.


  Refinements of Penal Cruelty.--Tortures for different Purposes.--Water,
  Screw-boards, and the Rack.--The Executioner.--Female
  Executioners.--Tortures.--Amende Honorable.--Torture of Fire, Real and
  Feigned.--Auto-da-fé.--Red-hot Brazier or
  Basin.--Beheading.--Quartering.--The Wheel.--Garotting.--Hanging.--The
  Whip.--The Pillory.--The
  of Prisons.--The Iron Cage.--"The Leads" of Venice.


  Dispersion of the Jews.--Jewish Quarters in the Mediæval Towns.--The
  _Ghetto_ of Rome.--Ancient Prague.--The _Giudecca_ of Venice.--Condition
  of the Jews; Animosity of the People against them; Vexations Treatment
  and Severity of the Sovereigns.--The Jews of Lincoln.--The Jews of
  Blois.--Mission of the _Pastoureaux_.--Extermination of the Jews.--The
  Price at which the Jews purchased Indulgences.--Marks set upon
  them.--Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and Financial Aptitude of the
  Jews.--Regulations respecting Usury as practised by the
  Jews.--Attachment of the Jews to their Religion.

Gipsies, Tramps, Beggars, and Cours des Miracles

  First Appearance of Gipsies in the West.--Gipsies in Paris.--Manners and
  Customs of these Wandering Tribes.--Tricks of Captain Charles.--Gipsies
  expelled by Royal Edict.--Language of Gipsies.--The Kingdom of
  Slang.--The Great Coesre, Chief of the Vagrants; his Vassals and
  Subjects.--Divisions of the Slang People; its Decay, and the Causes
  thereof.--Cours des Miracles.--The Camp of Rogues.--Cunning Language, or
  Slang.--Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets.


  Origin of Modern Ceremonial.--Uncertainty of French Ceremonial up to the
  End of the Sixteenth Century.--Consecration of the Kings of
  France.--Coronation of the Emperors of Germany.--Consecration of the
  Doges of Venice.--Marriage of the Doge with the Sea.--State Entries of
  Sovereigns.--An Account of the Entry of Isabel of Bavaria into
  Paris.--Seats of Justice.--Visits of Ceremony between Persons of
  Rank.--Mourning.--Social Courtesies.--Popular Demonstrations and
  National Commemorations--New Year's Day.--Local Festivals.--_Vins
  d'Honneur_.--Processions of Trades.


  Influence of Ancient Costume.--Costume in the Fifteenth
  Century.--Hair.--Costumes in the Time of Charlemagne.--Origin of Modern
  National Dress.--Head-dresses and Beards: Time of St. Louis.--Progress
  of Dress: Trousers, Hose, Shoes, Coats, Surcoats, Capes.--Changes in the
  Fashions of Shoes and Hoods.--_Livrée_.--Cloaks and Capes.--Edicts
  against Extravagant Fashions.--Female Dress: Gowns, Bonnets,
  Head-dresses, &c.--Disappearance of Ancient Dress.--Tight-fitting
  Gowns.--General Character of Dress under Francis I.--Uniformity of

Table of Illustrations.

I. Chromolithographs.

1. The Queen of Sheba before Solomon. Fac-simile of a Miniature from the
Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of the
Fifteenth Century.

2. The Court of Marie of Anjou, Wife of Charles VII. Fac-simile of a
Miniature from the "Douze Perilz d'Enfer." Costumes of the Fifteenth

3. Louis XII. leaving Alexandria, on the 24th April, 1507, to chastise the
City of Genoa. From a Miniature in the "Voyage de Gênes" of Jean Marot.

4. A Young Mother's Retinue. Miniature from a Latin "Terence" of Charles
VI. Costumes of the Fourteenth Century.

5. Table Service of a Lady of Quality. Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
"Roman de Renaud de Montauban." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.

6. Ladies Hunting. From a Miniature in a Manuscript Copy of "Ovid's
Epistles." Costumes of the Fifteenth Century.

7. A Court Fool. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript of the
Fifteenth Century.

8. The Chess-players. After a Miniature of the "Three Ages of Man." (End
of the Fifteenth Century.)

9. Martyrdom of SS. Crispin and Crépinien. From a Window in the Hôpital
des Quinze-Vingts (Fifteenth Century).

10. Settlement of Accounts by the Brotherhood of Charité-Dieu, Rouen, in
1466. A Miniature from the "Livre des Comptes" of this Society (Fifteenth

11. Decapitation of Guillaume de Pommiers and his Confessor at Bordeaux in
1377 ("Chroniques de Froissart").

12. The Jews' Passover. Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Missal of the
Fifteenth Century of the School of Van Eyck.

13. Entry of Charles VII. into Paris. A Miniature from the "Chroniques
d'Enguerrand de Monstrelet." Costumes of the Sixteenth Century.

14. St. Catherine surrounded by the Doctors of Alexandria. A Miniature
from the Breviary of Cardinal Grimani, attributed to Memling. Costumes of
the Fifteenth Century.

15. Italian Lace-work, in Gold-thread. The Cypher and Arms of Henri III.
(Sixteenth Century).

II. Engravings.

Aigues-Mortes, Ramparts of the Town of
Alms Bag, Fifteenth Century
Amende honorable before the Tribunal
America, Discovery of
Anne of Brittany and the Ladies of her Court
Archer, in Fighting Dress, Fifteenth Century
Arms of Louis XI. and Charlotte of Savoy
Arms, Various, Fifteenth Century

Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's Bailiff,
  Sixteenth Century
Baker, The, Sixteenth Century
Balancing, Feats of, Thirteenth Century
Ballet, Representation of a, before Henri
  III. and his Court
Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne
  "             "        La Rochelle
  "           Corporation of Bakers of Arras
  "             "            Bakers of Paris
  "             "            Boot and Shoe
                Makers of Issoudun
  "           Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Montmédy
  "           Corporation of Publichouse-keepers of Tonnerre
  "           Drapers of Caen
  "           Harness-makers of Paris
  "           Nail-makers of Paris
  "           Pastrycooks of Caen
  "                 "        La Rochelle
  "                 "        Tonnerre
  "           Tanners of Vie
  "           Tilers of Paris
  "           Weavers of Toulon
  "           Wheelwrights of Paris
Banquet, Grand, at the Court of France
Barnacle Geese
Barrister, Fifteenth Century
Bastille, The
Bears and other Beasts, how they may be
  caught with a Dart
Beggar playing the Fiddle
Bell and Canon Caster
Bird-catching, Fourteenth Century
Bird-piping, Fourteenth Century
Blind and Poor Sick of St. John, Fifteenth
Bob Apple, The Game of
Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece,
  Thirteenth Century
Bourbon, Constable de, Trial of, before the
  Peers of France
Bourgeois, Thirteenth Century
Brandenburg, Marquis of
Brewer, The, Sixteenth Century
Brotherhood of Death, Member of the
Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, from a
  Window of the Fifteenth Century
Burgess at Meals
Burgesses with Hoods, Fourteenth Century
Burning Ballet, The
Butcher, The, Sixteenth Century
Butler at his Duties

Cards for a Game of Piquet, Sixteenth Century
Carlovingian King in his Palace
Carpenter, Fifteenth Century
Carpenter's Apprentice working at a Trial-piece,
  Fifteenth Century
Cast to allure Beasts
Castle of Alamond, The
Celtic Monument (the Holy Ox)
Chamber of Accounts, Hotel of the
Chandeliers in Bronze, Fourteenth Century
Charlemagne, The Emperor
     "       Coronation of
     "       Dalmatica and Sandals of
     "       receiving the Oath of Fidelity
               from one of his great Barons
     "       Portrait of
Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receiving
  the News of the Death of his Father
Charles V. and the Emperor Charles IV.,
  Interview between
Château-Gaillard aux Andelys
Châtelet, The Great
Cheeses, The Manufacture of, Sixteenth
Chilpéric, Tomb of, Eleventh Century
Cloth to approach Beasts, How to carry a
Coins, Gold Merovingian, 628-638
  "    Gold, Sixth and Seventh Centuries
  "     "    Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
  "    Gold and Silver, Thirteenth Century
  "     "               Fifteenth and Sixteenth
  "    Silver, Eighth to Eleventh Centuries
Cologne, View of, Sixteenth Century
Comb in Ivory, Sixteenth Century
Combat of a Knight with a Dog, Thirteenth
Companion Carpenter, Fifteenth Century
Cook, The, Sixteenth Century
Coppersmith, The, Sixteenth Century
Corn-threshing and Bread-making, Sixteenth
Costume of Emperors at their Coronation
  since the Time of Charlemagne
    "   King Childebert, Seventh Century
    "   King Clovis, Sixth Century
    "   Saints in the Sixth to Eighth
    "   Prelates, Eighth to Tenth Century
    "   a Scholar of the Carlovingian

Costume of a Scholar, Ninth Century
     "   a Bishop or Abbot, Ninth Century
     "   Charles the Simple, Tenth Century
     "   Louis le Jeune
     "   a Princess
     "   William Malgeneste, the King's Huntsman
     "   an English Servant, Fourteenth Century
     "   Philip the Good
     "   Charles V., King of France
     "   Jeanne de Bourbon
     "   Charlotte of Savoy
     "   Mary of Burgundy
     "   the Ladies of the Court of Catherine de Medicis
     "   a Gentleman of the French Court, Sixteenth Century
     "   the German Bourgeoisie, Sixteenth Century
Costumes, Italian, Fifteenth Century
Costumes of the Thirteenth Century
     "   the Common People, Fourteenth Century
     "   a rich Bourgeoise, of a Peasant-woman, and of a Lady of the
         Nobility, Fourteenth Century
     "   a Young Nobleman and of a Bourgeois, Fourteenth Century
     "   a Bourgeois or Merchant, of a Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court
         or rich Bourgeoise, Fifteenth Century
     "   a Mechanic's Wife and a rich Bourgeois, Fifteenth Century
     "   Young Noblemen of the Court of Charles VIII
     "   a Nobleman, a Bourgeois, and a Noble Lady, of the time of Louis
     "   a rich Bourgeoise and a Nobleman, time of Francis I
Counter-seal of the Butchers of Bruges in 1356
Country Life
Cour des Miracles of Paris
Court Fool
     "  of Love in Provence, Fourteenth Century
     "  of the Nobles, The
     "  Supreme, presided over by the King
     "  of a Baron, The
     "  Inferior, in the Great Bailiwick
Courtiers amassing Riches at the Expense of the Poor, Fourteenth Century
Courts of Love in Provence, Allegorical Scene of, Thirteenth Century
Craftsmen, Fourteenth Century
Cultivation of Fruit, Fifteenth Century
         "            Grain, and Manufacture of Barley and Oat Bread

Dance called "La Gaillarde"
   "  of Fools, Thirteenth Century
   "  by Torchlight
Dancers on Christmas Night
David playing on the Lyre
Dealer in Eggs, Sixteenth Century
Deer, Appearance of, and how to hunt them with Dogs
Deputies of the Burghers of Ghent, Fourteenth Century
Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine
Doge of Venice, Costume of the, before the Sixteenth Century
            "             in Ceremonial Costume of the Sixteenth Century
            "             Procession of the
Dog-kennel, Fifteenth Century
Dogs, Diseases of, and their Cure, Fourteenth Century
Dortmund, View of, Sixteenth Century
_Drille_, or _Narquois_, Fifteenth Century
Drinkers of the North, The Great
Dues on Wine

Edict, Promulgation of an
Elder and Juror, Ceremonial Dress of an
Elder and Jurors of the Tanners of Ghent
Eloy, St., Signature of
Entry of Louis XI. into Paris
Equestrian Performances, Thirteenth Century
Estrapade, The, or Question Extraordinary
Exhibitor of Strange Animals

Falcon, How to train a New, Fourteenth Century
    "      How to bathe a New
Falconer, Dress of the, Thirteenth Century
       "      German, Sixteenth Century
Falconers, Thirteenth Century
      "         dressing their Birds, Fourteenth Century
Falconry, Art of, King Modus teaching the, Fourteenth Century
      "       Varlets of, Fourteenth Century
Families, The, and the Barbarians
Fight between a Horse and Dogs, Thirteenth Century
Fireworks on the Water
Fish, Conveyance of, by Water and Land
Flemish Peasants, Fifteenth Century
Franc, Silver, Henry IV.
Franks, Fourth to Eighth Century
   "    King or Chief of the, Ninth Century
   "    King of the, dictating the Salic Law
Frédégonde giving orders to assassinate Sigebert, from a Window of the
   Fifteenth Century
Free Judges
Funeral Token

Gallo-Roman Costumes
Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of Venery
German Beggars
  "    Knights, Fifteenth Century
  "    Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century
  "    Sportsman, Sixteenth Century
Ghent, Civic Guard of
Gibbet of Montfaucon, The
Gipsies Fortune-telling
  "     on the March
Gipsy Encampment
  "   Family, A
  "   who used to wash his Hands in Molten Lead
Goldsmiths of Ghent, Names and Titles of some of the Members
                     of the Corporation of, Fifteenth Century
    "      Group of, Seventeenth Century.
Grain-measurers of Ghent, Arms of the
Grape, Treading the
Grocer and Druggist, Shop of a, Seventeenth Century

Hanging to Music
Hare, How to allure the
Hawking, Lady setting out, Fourteenth Century
Hawks, Young, how to make them fly, Fourteenth Century
Hay-carriers, Sixteenth Century
Herald, Fourteenth Century
Heralds, Lodge of the
Heron-hawking, Fourteenth Century
Hostelry, Interior of an, Sixteenth Century
Hôtel des Ursins, Paris, Fourteenth Century

Imperial Procession
Infant Richard, The, crucified by the Jews at Pontoise
Irmensul and Crodon, Idols of the Ancient Saxons
Iron Cage
Issue de Table, The
Italian Beggar
   "    Jew, Fourteenth Century
   "    Kitchen, Interior of
   "    Nobleman, Fifteenth Century

Jacques Coeur, Amende honorable of, before
                 Charles VII
      "        House of, at Bourges
Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of Paris, and Michelle de Vitry, his
   Wife (Reign of Charles VI.)
Jerusalem, View and Plan of
Jew, Legend of a, calling the Devil from a Vessel of Blood
Jewish Ceremony before the Ark
  "    Conspiracy in France
  "    Procession
Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children
  "  of Cologne burnt alive, The
  "  Expulsion of the, in the Reign of the Emperor Hadrian
  "  Secret Meeting of the
John the Baptist, Decapitation of
John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, Assassination of
Judge, Fifteenth Century
Judicial Duel, The
Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and Bears, Thirteenth Century
   "     performing in Public, Thirteenth Century

King-at-Arms presenting the Sword to the Duc de Bourbon
King's Court, The, or Grand Council, Fifteenth Century
Kitchen, Interior of a, Sixteenth Century.
   "     and Table Utensils
Knife-handles in Ivory, Sixteenth Century
Knight in War-harness
Knight and his Lady, Fourteenth Century
Knights and Men-at-Arms of the Reign of Louis le Gros

Labouring Colons, Twelfth Century
Lambert of Liége, St., Chimes of the Clock of
Landgrave of Thuringia and his Wife
Lawyer, Sixteenth Century
Leopard, Hunting with the, Sixteenth Century
Lubeck and its Harbour, View of, Sixteenth Century

Maidservants, Dress of, Thirteenth Century
Mallet, Louis de, Admiral of France
Mark's Place, St., Venice, Sixteenth Century
Marseilles and its Harbour, View and Plan of, Sixteenth Century
Measurers of Corn, Paris, Sixteenth Century
Measuring Salt
Merchant Vessel in a Storm
Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople
Merchants of Rouen, Medal to commemorate the Association of the
Merchants of Rouen, Painting commemorative of the Union of, Seventeenth
Merchants or Tradesmen, Fourteenth Century
Metals, The Extraction of
Miller, The, Sixteenth Century
Mint, The, Sixteenth Century
Musician accompanying the Dancing

New-born Child, The
Nicholas Flamel, and Pernelle, his Wife, from a Painting of the Fifteenth
Nobility, Costumes of the, from the Seventh to the Ninth century
"    Ladies of the, in the Ninth Century
Noble Ladies and Children, Dress of, Fourteenth Century
Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, Fourteenth Century
Noble of Provence, Fifteenth Century
Nobleman hunting
Nogent-le-Rotrou, Tower of the Castle of
Nut-crackers, Sixteenth Century

Occupations of the Peasants
Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the Imperial Court
Oil, the Manufacture of, Sixteenth Century
Old Man of the Mountain, The
Olifant, or Hunting-horn, Fourteenth Century
"    "    details of
Orphaus, Gallois, and Family of the Grand Coesre, Fifteenth Century

Palace, The, Sixteenth Century
Palace of the Doges, Interior Court of the
Paris, View of
Partridges, Way to catch
Paying Toll on passing a Bridge
Peasant Dances at the May Feasts
Pheasant-fowling, Fourteenth Century
Philippe le Bel in War-dress
Pillory, View of the, in the Market-place of Paris, Sixteenth Century
Pin and Needle Maker
Ploughmen. Fac-simile of a Miniature in very ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript
Pond Fisherman, The
Pont aux Changeurs, View of the ancient
Pork-butcher, The, Fourteenth Century
Poulterer, The, Sixteenth Century
Poultry-dealer, The
Powder-horn, Sixteenth Century
Provost's Prison, The
Provostship of the Merchants of Paris, Assembly of the, Sixteenth Century
Punishment by Fire, The
Purse or Leather Bag, with Knife or Dagger, Fifteenth Century

Receiver of Taxes, The
Remy, St., Bishop of Rheirns, begging of Clovis the restitution of the
   Sacred Vase, Fifteenth Century
River Fishermen, The, Sixteenth Century
Roi de l'Epinette, Entry of the, at Lille
Roman Soldiers, Sixth to Twelfth Century
Royal Costume
_Ruffés_ and _Millards_, Fifteenth Century

Sainte-Geneviève, Front of the Church of the Abbey of
Sale by Town-Crier
Salt-cellar, enamelled, Sixteenth Century
Sandal or Buskin of Charlemagne
Saxony, Duke of
Sbirro, Chief of
Seal of the Bateliers of Bruges in 1356
"    Corporation of Carpenters of St. Trond (Belgium)
"    Corporation of Clothworkers of Bruges
"    Corporation of Fullers of St. Trond
"    Corporation of Joiners of Bruges
"    "    Shoemakers of St. Trond
"    Corporation of Wool-weavers of Hasselt
"    Free Count Hans Vollmar von Twern
"    Free Count Heinrich Beckmann
"    "    Herman Loseckin
"    "    Johann Croppe
"    King Chilpéric
"    United Trades of Ghent, Fifteenth Century
Seat of Justice held by Philippe de Valois
Secret Tribunal, Execution of the Sentences of the
Sémur, Tower of the Castle of
Serf or Vassal, Tenth Century
Serjeants-at-Arms, Fourteenth Century
Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the Messiah
Shops under Covered Market, Fifteenth Century
Shout and blow Horns, How to
Simon, Martyrdom of, at Trent
Slaves or Serfs, Sixth to Twelfth Century
Sport with Dogs, Fourteenth Century
Spring-board, The
Squirrels, Way to catch
Stag, How to kill and cut up a, Fifteenth Century
Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of Rouen, Fifteenth Century
Stall of Carved Wood, Fifteenth Century
Standards of the Church and the Empire
State Banquet, Sixteenth Century
Stoertebeck, Execution of
Styli, Fourteenth Century
Swiss Grand Provost
Sword-dance to the Sound of the Bagpipe, Fourteenth Century

Table of a Baron, Thirteenth Century
Talebot the Hunchback
Tithe of Beer, Fifteenth Century
Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Antwerp
Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of Maëstricht
Toll under the Bridges of Paris
Toll on Markets, levied by a Cleric, Fifteenth Century
Torture of the Wheel, Demons applying the
Tournaments in Honour of the Entry of Queen Isabel into Paris
Tower of the Temple, Paris
Trade on the Seaports of the Levant, Fifteenth Century
Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of Camels

University of Paris, Fellows of the, haranguing the Emperor Charles IV.

Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd, Fifteenth Century
View of Alexandria, Sixteenth Century
Village Feast, Sixteenth Century
Village pillaged by Soldiers
Villain, the Covetous and Avaricious
Villain, the Egotistical and Envious
Villain or Peasant, Fifteenth Century
Villain receiving his Lord's Orders
Vine, Culture of the
Vintagers, The, Thirteenth Century
Votive Altar of the Nautes Parisiens

Water Torture, The
Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at Mans, Sixteenth Century
Whale Fishing
William, Duke of Normandy, Eleventh Century
Winegrower, The
Wolves, how they may be caught with a Snare
Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood, Fifteenth Century
Women of the Court, Sixth to Tenth Century
Woodcock, Mode of catching a, Fourteenth Century

Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the
Renaissance Period.

Condition of Persons and Lands.

  Disorganization of the West at the Beginning of the Middle
  Ages.--Mixture of Roman, Germanic, and Gallic Institutions.--Fusion
  organized under Charlemagne.--Royal Authority.--Position of the Great
  Feudalists.--Division of the Territory and Prerogatives attached to
  Landed Possessions.--Freemen and Tenants.--The Læti, the Colon, the
  Serf, and the Labourer, who may be called the Origin of the Modern Lower
  Classes.--Formation of Communities.--Right of Mortmain.

The period known as the Middle Ages, says the learned Benjamin Guérard, is
the produce of Pagan civilisation, of Germanic barbarism, and of
Christianity. It began in 476, on the fall of Agustulus, and ended in
1453, at the taking of Constantinople by Mahomet II., and consequently the
fall of two empires, that of the West and that of the East, marks its
duration. Its first act, which was due to the Germans, was the destruction
of political unity, and this was destined to be afterwards replaced by
religions unity. Then we find a multitude of scattered and disorderly
influences growing on the ruins of central power. The yoke of imperial
dominion was broken by the barbarians; but the populace, far from
acquiring liberty, fell to the lowest degrees of servitude. Instead of one
despot, it found thousands of tyrants, and it was but slowly and with
much trouble that it succeeded in freeing itself from feudalism. Nothing
could be more strangely troubled than the West at the time of the
dissolution of the Empire of the Caesars; nothing more diverse or more
discordant than the interests, the institutions, and the state of society,
which were delivered to the Germans (Figs. 1 and 2). In fact, it would be
impossible in the whole pages of history to find a society formed of more
heterogeneous or incompatible elements. On the one side might be placed
the Goths, Burgundians, Vandals, Germans, Franks, Saxons, and Lombards,
nations, or more strictly hordes, accustomed to rough and successful
warfare, and, on the other, the Romans, including those people who by long
servitude to Roman dominion had become closely allied with their
conquerors (Fig. 3). There were, on both sides, freemen, freedmen, colons,
and slaves; different ranks and degrees being, however, observable both in
freedom and servitude. This hierarchical principle applied itself even to
the land, which was divided into freeholds, tributary lands, lands of the
nobility, and servile lands, thus constituting the freeholds, the
benefices, the fiefs, and the tenures. It may be added that the customs,
and to a certain degree the laws, varied according to the masters of the
country, so that it can hardly be wondered at that everywhere diversity
and inequality were to be found, and, as a consequence, that anarchy and
confusion ruled supreme.

[Illustration: Figs. 1 and 2.--Costumes of the Franks from the Fourth to
the Eighth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original
Documents in the great Libraries of Europe.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Costumes of Roman Soldiers. Fig. 4.--Costume of
German Soldiers. From Miniatures on different Manuscripts, from the Sixth
to the Twelfth Centuries.]

The Germans (Fig. 4) had brought with them over the Rhine none of the
heroic virtues attributed to them by Tacitus when he wrote their history,
with the evident intention of making a satire on his countrymen. Amongst
the degenerate Romans whom those ferocious Germans had subjugated,
civilisation was reconstituted on the ruins of vices common in the early
history of a new society by the adoption of a series of loose and
dissolute habits, both by the conquerors and the conquered.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the
Twelfth Centuries, collected by H. de Vielcastel, from original Documents
in the great Libraries of Europe.]

In fact, the conquerors contributed the worse share (Fig. 5); for, whilst
exercising the low and debasing instincts of their former barbarism, they
undertook the work of social reconstruction with a sort of natural and
innate servitude. To them, liberty, the desire for which caused them to
brave the greatest dangers, was simply the right of doing evil--of obeying
their ardent thirst for plunder. Long ago, in the depths of their forests,
they had adopted the curious institution of vassalage. When they came to
the West to create States, instead of reducing personal power, every step
in their social edifice, from the top to the bottom, was made to depend on
individual superiority. To bow to a superior was their first political
principle; and on that principle feudalism was one day to find its base.

Servitude was in fact to be found in all conditions and ranks, equally in
the palace of the sovereign as in the dwellings of his subjects. The
vassal who was waited on at his own table by a varlet, himself served at
the table of his lord; the nobles treated each other likewise, according
to their rank; and all the exactions which each submitted to from his
superiors, and required to be paid to him by those below him, were looked
upon not as onerous duties, but as rights and honours. The sentiment of
dignity and of personal independence, which has become, so to say, the
soul of modern society, did not exist at all, or at least but very
slightly, amongst the Germans. If we could doubt the fact, we have but to
remember that these men, so proud, so indifferent to suffering or death,
would often think little of staking their liberty in gambling, in the hope
that if successful their gain might afford them the means of gratifying
some brutal passion.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--King or Chief of Franks armed with the Seramasax,
from a Miniature of the Ninth Century, drawn by H. de Vielcastel.]

When the Franks took root in Gaul, their dress and institutions were
adopted by the Roman society (Fig. 6). This had the most disastrous
influence in every point of view, and it is easy to prove that
civilisation did not emerge from this chaos until by degrees the Teutonic
spirit disappeared from the world. As long as this spirit reigned, neither
private nor public liberty existed. Individual patriotism only extended as
far as the border of a man's family, and the nation became broken up into
clans. Gaul soon found itself parcelled off into domains which were
almost independent of one another. It was thus that Germanic genius became

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--The King of the Franks, in the midst of the
Military Chiefs who formed his _Treuste_, or armed Court, dictates the
Salic Law (Code of the Barbaric Laws).--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
"Chronicles of St. Denis," a Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Library
of the Arsenal).]

The advantages of acting together for mutual protection first established
itself in families. If any one suffered from an act of violence, he laid
the matter before his relatives for them jointly to seek reparation. The
question was then settled between the families of the offended person and
the offender, all of whom were equally associated in the object of
vindicating a cause which interested them alone, without recognising any
established authority, and without appealing to the law. If the parties
had sought the protection or advice of men of power, the quarrel might at
once take a wider scope, and tend to kindle a feud between two nobles. In
any case the King only interfered when the safety of his person or the
interests of his dominions were threatened.

Penalties and punishments were almost always to be averted by a money
payment. A son, for instance, instead of avenging the death of his
father, received from the murderer a certain indemnity in specie,
according to legal tariff; and the law was thus satisfied.

The tariff of indemnities or compensations to be paid for each crime
formed the basis of the code of laws amongst the principal tribes of
Franks, a code essentially barbarian, and called the Salic law, or law of
the Salians (Fig. 7). Such, however, was the spirit of inequality among
the German races, that it became an established principle for justice to
be subservient to the rank of individuals. The more powerful a man was,
the more he was protected by the law; the lower his rank, the less the law
protected him.

The life of a Frank, by right, was worth twice that of a Roman; the life
of a servant of the King was worth three times that of an ordinary
individual who did not possess that protecting tie. On the other hand,
punishment was the more prompt and rigorous according to the inferiority
of position of the culprit. In case of theft, for instance, a person of
importance was brought before the King's tribunal, and as it respected the
rank held by the accused in the social hierarchy, little or no punishment
was awarded. In the case of the same crime by a poor man, on the contrary,
the ordinary judge gave immediate sentence, and he was seized and hung on
the spot.

Inasmuch as no political institutions amongst the Germans were nobler or
more just than those of the Franks and the other barbaric races, we cannot
accept the creed of certain historians who have represented the Germans as
the true regenerators of society in Europe. The two sources of modern
civilisation are indisputably Pagan antiquity and Christianity.

After the fall of the Merovingian kings great progress was made in the
political and social state of nations. These kings, who were but chiefs of
undisciplined bands, were unable to assume a regal character, properly so
called. Their authority was more personal than territorial, for incessant
changes were made in the boundaries of their conquered dominions. It was
therefore with good reason that they styled themselves kings of the
Franks, and not kings of France.

Charlemagne was the first who recognised that social union, so admirable
an example of which was furnished by Roman organization, and who was able,
with the very elements of confusion and disorder to which he succeeded, to
unite, direct, and consolidate diverging and opposite forces, to establish
and regulate public administrations, to found and build towns, and to
form and reconstruct almost a new world (Fig. 8). We hear of him assigning
to each his place, creating for all a common interest, making of a crowd
of small and scattered peoples a great and powerful nation; in a word,
rekindling the beacon of ancient civilisation. When he died, after a most
active and glorious reign of forty-five years, he left an immense empire
in the most perfect state of peace (Fig. 9). But this magnificent
inheritance was unfortunately destined to pass into unworthy or impotent
hands, so that society soon fell back into anarchy and confusion. The
nobles, in their turn invested with power, were continually at war, and
gradually weakened the royal authority--the power of the kingdom--by their
endless disputes with the Crown and with one another.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--Charles, eldest Son of King Pepin, receives the
News of the Death of his Father and the Great Feudalists offer him the
Crown.--Costumes of the Court of Burgundy in the Fifteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of the "History of the Emperors"
(Library of the Arsenal).]

[Illustration: Fig. 9. Portrait of Charlemagne, whom the Song of Roland
names the King with the Grizzly Beard.--Fac-simile of an Engraving of the
End of the Sixteenth Century.]

The revolution in society which took place under the Carlovingian dynasty
had for its especial object that of rendering territorial what was
formerly personal, and, as it were, of destroying personality in matters
of government.

The usurpation of lands by the great having been thus limited by the
influence of the lesser holders, everybody tried to become the holder of
land. Its possession then formed the basis of social position, and, as a
consequence, individual servitude became lessened, and society assumed a
more stable condition. The ancient laws of wandering tribes fell into
disuse; and at the same time many distinctions of caste and race
disappeared, as they were incompatible with the new order of things. As
there were no more Salians, Ripuarians, nor Visigoths among the free men,
so there were no more colons, læti, nor slaves amongst those deprived of

[Illustrations: Figs. 10 and 11.--Present State of the Feudal Castle of
Chateau-Gaillard aux Andelys, which was considered one of the strongest
Castles of France in the Middle Ages, and was rebuilt in the Twelfth
Century by Richard Coeur de Lion.]

Heads of families, on becoming attached to the soil, naturally had other
wants and other customs than those which they had delighted in when they
were only the chiefs of wandering adventurers. The strength of their
followers was not now so important to them as the security of their
castles. Fortresses took the place of armed bodies; and at this time,
every one who wished to keep what he had, entrenched himself to the best
of his ability at his own residence. The banks of rivers, elevated
positions, and all inaccessible heights, were occupied by towers and
castles, surrounded by ditches, which served as strongholds to the lords
of the soil. (Figs. 10 and 11). These places of defence soon became points
for attack. Out of danger at home, many of the nobles kept watch like
birds of prey on the surrounding country, and were always ready to fall,
not only upon their enemies, but also on their neighbours, in the hope
either of robbing them when off their guard, or of obtaining a ransom for
any unwary traveller who might fall into their hands. Everywhere society
was in ambuscade, and waged civil war--individual against
individual--without peace or mercy. Such was the reign of feudalism. It is
unnecessary to point out how this system of perpetual petty warfare tended
to reduce the power of centralisation, and how royalty itself was
weakened towards the end of the second dynasty. When the descendants of
Hugh Capet wished to restore their power by giving it a larger basis, they
were obliged to attack, one after the other, all these strongholds, and
practically to re-annex each fief, city, and province held by these petty
monarchs, in order to force their owners to recognise the sovereignty of
the King. Centuries of war and negotiations became necessary before the
kingdom of France could be, as it were, reformed.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Knights and Men-at-arms, cased in Mail, in the
Reign of Louis le Gros, from a Miniature in a Psalter written towards the
End of the Twelfth Century.]

The corporations and the citizens had great weight in restoring the
monarchical power, as well as in forming French nationality; but by far
the best influence brought to bear in the Middle Ages was that of
Christianity. The doctrine of one origin and of one final destiny being
common to all men of all classes constantly acted as a strong inducement
for thinking that all should be equally free. Religious equality paved the
way for political equality, and as all Christians were brothers before
God, the tendency was for them to become, as citizens, equal also in law.

This transformation, however, was but slow, and followed concurrently the
progress made in the security of property. At the onset, the slave only
possessed his life, and this was but imperfectly guaranteed to him by the
laws of charity; laws which, however, year by year became of greater
power. He afterwards became _colon_, or labourer (Figs. 13 and 14),
working for himself under certain conditions and tenures, paying fines, or
services, which, it is true, were often very extortionate. At this time he
was considered to belong to the domain on which he was born, and he was at
least sure that that soil would not be taken from him, and that in giving
part of his time to his master, he was at liberty to enjoy the rest
according to his fancy. The farmer afterwards became proprietor of the
soil he cultivated, and master, not only of himself, but of his lands;
certain trivial obligations or fines being all that was required of him,
and these daily grew less, and at last disappeared altogether. Having thus
obtained a footing in society, he soon began to take a place in provincial
assemblies; and he made the last bound on the road of social progress,
when the vote of his fellow-electors sent him to represent them in the
parliament of the kingdom. Thus the people who had begun by excessive
servitude, gradually climbed to power.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of

We will now describe more in detail the various conditions of persons of
the Middle Ages.

The King, who held his rights by birth, and not by election, enjoyed
relatively an absolute authority, proportioned according to the power of
his abilities, to the extent of his dominions, and to the devotion of his
vassals. Invested with a power which for a long time resembled the command
of a general of an army, he had at first no other ministers than the
officers to whom he gave full power to act in the provinces, and who
decided arbitrarily in the name of, and representing, the King, on all
questions of administration. One minister alone approached the King, and
that was the chancellor, who verified, sealed, and dispatched all royal
decrees and orders.

As early, however, as the seventh century, a few officers of state
appeared, who were specially attached to the King's person or household; a
count of the palace, who examined and directed the suits brought before
the throne; a mayor of the palace, who at one time raised himself from the
administration of the royal property to the supreme power; an
arch-chaplain, who presided over ecclesiastical affairs; a lord of the
bedchamber, charged with the treasure of the chamber; and a count of the
stables, charged with the superintendence of the stables.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Labouring Colons (Twelfth Century), after a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ste. Chapelle, of the National Library of

For all important affairs, the King generally consulted the grandees of
his court; but as in the five or six first centuries of monarchy in France
the royal residence was not permanent, it is probable the Council of State
was composed in part of the officers who followed the King, and in part of
the noblemen who came to visit him, or resided near the place he happened
to be inhabiting. It was only under the Capetians that the Royal Council
took a permanent footing, or even assembled at stated periods.

In ordinary times, that is to say, when he was not engaged in war, the
King had few around him besides his family, his personal attendants, and
the ministers charged with the dispatch of affairs. As he changed from
one of his abodes to another he only held his court on the great festivals
of the year.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by
hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of
the Lodge of the Heralds.--After a Miniature of the "Tournaments of King
Réné" (Fifteenth Century), MSS. of the National Library of Paris.]

Up to the thirteenth century, there was, strictly speaking, no taxation
and no public treasury. The King received, through special officers
appointed for the purpose, tributes either in money or in kind, which
were most variable, but often very heavy, and drawn almost exclusively
from his personal and private properties. In cases of emergency only, he
appealed to his vassals for pecuniary aid. A great number of the grandees,
who lived far from the court, either in state offices or on their own
fiefs, had establishments similar to that of the King. Numerous and
considerable privileges elevated them above other free men. The offices
and fiefs having become hereditary, the order of nobility followed as a
consequence; and it then became highly necessary for families to keep
their genealogical histories, not only to gratify their pride, but also to
give them the necessary titles for the feudal advantages they derived by
birth. (Fig. 15). Without this right of inheritance, society, which was
still unsettled in the Middle Ages, would soon have been dissolved. This
great principle, sacred in the eyes both of great and small, maintained
feudalism, and in so doing it maintained itself amidst all the chaos and
confusion of repeated revolutions and social disturbances.

We have already stated, and we cannot sufficiently insist upon this
important point, that from the day on which the adventurous habits of the
chiefs of Germanic origin gave place to the desire for territorial
possessions, the part played by the land increased insensibly towards
defining the position of the persons holding it. Domains became small
kingdoms, over which the lord assumed the most absolute and arbitrary
rights. A rule was soon established, that the nobility was inherent to the
soil, and consequently that the land ought to transmit to its possessors
the rights of nobility.

This privilege was so much accepted, that the long tenure of a fief ended
by ennobling the commoner. Subsequently, by a sort of compensation which
naturally followed, lands on which rent had hitherto been paid became free
and noble on passing to the possession of a noble. At last, however, the
contrary rule prevailed, which caused the lands not to change quality in
changing owners: the noble could still possess the labourers's lands
without losing his nobility, but the labourer could be proprietor of a
fief without thereby becoming a noble.

To the _comites_, who, according to Tacitus, attached themselves to the
fortunes of the Germanic chiefs, succeeded the Merovingian _leudes_, whose
assembly formed the King's Council. These _leudes_ were persons of great
importance owing to the number of their vassals, and although they
composed his ordinary Council, they did not hesitate at times to declare
themselves openly opposed to his will.

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Knight in War-harness, after a Miniature in a
Psalter written and illuminated under Louis le Gros.]

The name of _leudes_ was abandoned under the second of the then French
dynasties, and replaced by that of _fidèles_, which, in truth soon became
a common designation of both the vassals of the Crown and those of the

Under the kings of the third dynasty, the kingdom was divided into about
one hundred and fifty domains, which were called great fiefs of the crown,
and which were possessed in hereditary right by the members of the highest
nobility, placed immediately under the royal sovereignty and dependence.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--King Charlemagne receiving the Oath of Fidelity
and Homage from one of his great Feudatories or High Barons.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in Cameo, of the "Chronicles of St. Denis." Manuscript of
the Fourteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal).]

Vassals emanating directly from the King, were then generally designated
by the title of _barons_, and mostly possessed strongholds. The other
nobles indiscriminately ranked as _chevaliers_ or _cnights_, a generic
title, to which was added that of _banneret_, The fiefs of _hauberk_ were
bound to supply the sovereign with a certain number of knights covered
with coats of mail, and completely armed. All knights were mounted in war
(Fig. 16); but knights who were made so in consequence of their high birth
must not be confounded with those who became knights by some great feat in
arms in the house of a prince or high noble, nor with the members of the
different orders of chivalry which were successively instituted, such as
the Knights of the Star, the Genet, the Golden Fleece, Saint-Esprit, St.
John of Jerusalem, &c. Originally, the possession of a benefice or fief
meant no more than the privilege of enjoying the profits derived from the
land, a concession which made the holder dependent upon the proprietor. He
was in fact his "man," to whom he owed homage (Fig. 17), service in case
of war, and assistance in any suit the proprietor might have before the
King's tribunal. The chiefs of German bands at first recompensed their
companions in arms by giving them fiefs of parts of the territory which
they had conquered; but later on, everything was equally given to be held
in fief, namely, dignities, offices, rights, and incomes or titles.

It is important to remark (and it is in this alone that feudalism shows
its social bearing), that if the vassal owed obedience and devotion to his
lord, the lord in exchange owed protection to the vassal. The rank of
"free man" did not necessarily require the possession of land; but the
position of free men who did not hold fiefs was extremely delicate and
often painful, for they were by natural right dependent upon those on
whose domain they resided. In fact, the greater part of these nobles
without lands became by choice the King's men, and remained attached to
his service. If this failed them, they took lands on lease, so as to
support themselves and their families, and to avoid falling into absolute
servitude. In the event of a change of proprietor, they changed with the
land into new hands. Nevertheless, it was not uncommon for them to be so
reduced as to sell their freedom; but in such cases, they reserved the
right, should better times come, of re-purchasing their liberty by paying
one-fifth more than the sum for which they had sold it.

We thus see that in olden times, as also later, freedom was more or less
the natural consequence of the possession of wealth or power on the part
of individuals or families who considered themselves free in the midst of
general dependence. During the tenth century, indeed, if not impossible,
it was at least difficult to find a single inhabitant of the kingdom of
France who was not "the man" of some one, and who was either tied by rules
of a liberal order, or else was under the most servile obligations.

The property of the free men was originally the "_aleu_," which was under
the jurisdiction of the royal magistrates. The _aleu_ gradually lost the
greater part of its franchise, and became liable to the common charges due
on lands which were not freehold.

In ancient times, all landed property of a certain extent was composed of
two distinct parts: one occupied by the owner, constituted the domain or
manor; the other, divided between persons who were more or less dependent,
formed what were called _tenures_. These _tenures_ were again divided
according to the position of those who occupied them: if they were
possessed by free men, who took the name of vassals, they were called
benefices or fiefs; if they were let to læti, colons, or serfs, they were
then called colonies or demesnes.

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Ploughmen.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a very
ancient Anglo-Saxon Manuscript published by Shaw, with legend "God Spede
ye Plough, and send us Korne enow."]

The _læti_ occupied a rank between the colon and the serf. They had less
liberty than the colon, over whom the proprietor only had an indirect and
very limited power. The colon only served the land, whilst the læti,
whether agriculturists or servants, served both the land and the owner
(Fig. 18). They nevertheless enjoyed the right of possession, and of
defending themselves, or prosecuting by law. The serf, on the contrary,
had neither city, tribunal, nor family. The læti had, besides, the power
of purchasing their liberty when they had amassed sufficient for the

_Serfs_ occupied the lowest position in the social ladder (Fig. 19). They
succeeded to slaves, thus making, thanks to Christianity, a step towards
liberty. Although the civil laws barely protected them, those of the
Church continually stepped in and defended them from arbitrary despotism.
The time came when they had no direct masters, and when the almost
absolute dependence of serfs was changed by the nobles requiring them to
farm the land and pay tithes and fees. And lastly, they became farmers,
and regular taxes took the place of tithes and fees.

The colons, læti, and serfs, all of whom were more or less tillers of the
soil, were, so to speak, the ancestors of "the people" of modern times;
those who remained devoted to agriculture were the ancestors of our
peasants; and those who gave themselves up to trades and commerce in the
towns, were the originators of the middle classes.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Serf or Vassal of Tenth Century, from
Miniatures in the "Dialogues of St. Gregory," Manuscript No. 9917 (Royal
Library of Brussels).]

As early as the commencement of the third royal dynasty we find in the
rural districts, as well as in the towns, a great number of free men: and
as the charters concerning the condition of lands and persons became more
and more extended, the tyranny of the great was reduced, and servitude
decreased. During the following centuries, the establishment of civic
bodies and the springing up of the middle classes (Fig. 20) made the
acquisition of liberty more easy and more general. Nevertheless, this
liberty was rather theoretical than practical; for if the nobles granted
it nominally, they gave it at the cost of excessive fines, and the
community, which purchased at a high price the right of
self-administration, did not get rid of any of the feudal charges imposed
upon it.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Bourgeois at the End of Thirteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of Miniature in Manuscript No. 6820, in the National
Library of Paris.]

Fortunately for the progress of liberty, the civic bodies, as if they had
been providentially warned of the future in store for them, never
hesitated to accept from their lords, civil or ecclesiastical, conditions,
onerous though they were, which enabled them to exist in the interior of
the cities to which they belonged. They formed a sort of small state,
almost independent for private affairs, subject to the absolute power of
the King, and more or less tied by their customs or agreements with the
local nobles. They held public assemblies and elected magistrates, whose
powers embraced both the administration of civil and criminal justice,
police, finance, and the militia. They generally had fixed and written
laws. Protected by ramparts, each possessed a town-hall (_hôtel de
ville_), a seal, a treasury, and a watch-tower, and it could arm a certain
number of men, either for its own defence or for the service of the noble
or sovereign under whom it held its rights.

In no case could a community such as this exist without the sanction of
the King, who placed it under the safeguard of the Crown. At first the
kings, blinded by a covetous policy, only seemed to see in the issue of
these charters an excellent pretext for extorting money. If they consented
to recognise them, and even to help them against their lords, it was on
account of the enormous sacrifices made by the towns. Later on, however,
they affected, on the contrary, the greatest generosity towards the
vassals who wished to incorporate themselves, when they had understood
that these institutions might become powerful auxiliaries against the
great titulary feudalists; but from the reign of Louis XI., when the power
of the nobles was much diminished, and no longer inspired any terror to
royalty, the kings turned against their former allies, the middle classes,
and deprived them successively of all the prerogatives which could
prejudice the rights of the Crown.

The middle classes, it is true, acquired considerable influence afterwards
by participation in the general and provincial councils. After having
victoriously struggled against the clergy and nobility, in the assemblies
of the three states or orders, they ended by defeating royalty itself.

Louis le Gros, in whose orders the style or title of _bourgeois_ first
appears (1134), is generally looked upon as the founder of the franchise
of communities in France; but it is proved that a certain number of
communities or corporations were already formally constituted, before his
accession to the throne.

The title of bourgeois was not, however, given exclusively to inhabitants
of cities. It often happened that the nobles, with the intention of
improving and enriching their domains, opened a kind of asylum, under the
attractive title of _Free Towns_, or _New Towns_, where they offered, to
all wishing to establish themselves, lands, houses, and a more or less
extended share of privileges, rights, and liberties. These congregations,
or families, soon became boroughs, and the inhabitants, though
agriculturists, took the name of bourgeois.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Costume of a Vilain or Peasant, Fifteenth
Century, from a Miniature of "La Danse Macabre," Manuscript 7310 of the
National Library of Paris.]

There was also a third kind of bourgeois, whose influence on the extension
of royal power was not less than that of the others. There were free
men who, under the title of bourgeois of the King _(bourgeois du Roy_),
kept their liberty by virtue of letters of protection given them by the
King, although they were established on lands of nobles whose inhabitants
were deprived of liberty. Further, when a _vilain_--that is to say, the
serf, of a noble--bought a lease of land in a royal borough, it was an
established custom that after having lived there a year and a day without
being reclaimed by his lord and master, he became a bourgeois of the King
and a free man. In consequence of this the serfs and vilains (Fig. 21)
emigrated from all parts, in order to profit by these advantages, to such
a degree, that the lands of the nobles became deserted by all the serfs of
different degrees, and were in danger of remaining uncultivated. The
nobility, in the interests of their properties, and to arrest this
increasing emigration, devoted themselves to improving the condition of
persons placed under their dependence, and attempted to create on their
domains _boroughs_ analogous to those of royalty. But however liberal
these ameliorations might appear to be, it was difficult for the nobles
not only to concede privileges equal to those emanating from the throne,
but also to ensure equal protection to those they thus enfranchised. In
spite of this, however, the result was that a double current of
enfranchisement was established, which resulted in the daily diminution of
the miserable order of serfs, and which, whilst it emancipated the lower
orders, had the immediate result of giving increased weight and power to
royalty, both in its own domains and in those of the nobility and their

These social revolutions did not, of course, operate suddenly, nor did
they at once abolish former institutions, for we still find, that after
the establishment of communities and corporations, several orders of
servitude remained.

At the close of the thirteenth century, on the authority of Philippe de
Beaumanoir, the celebrated editor of "Coutumes de Beauvoisis," there were
three states or orders amongst the laity, namely, the nobleman (Fig. 22),
the free man, and the serf. All noblemen were free, but all free men were
not necessarily noblemen. Generally, nobility descended from the father
and franchise from the mother. But according to many other customs of
France, the child, as a general rule, succeeded to the lower rank of his
parents. There were two orders of serfs: one rigorously held in the
absolute dependence of his lord, to such a degree that the latter could
appropriate during his life, or after death if he chose, all he possessed;
he could imprison him, ill-treat him as he thought proper, without having
to answer to any one but God; the other, though held equally in bondage,
was more liberally treated, for "unless he was guilty of some evil-doing,
the lord could ask of him nothing during his life but the fees, rents, or
fines which he owed on account of his servitude." If one of the latter
class of serfs married a free woman, everything which he possessed became
the property of his lord. The same was the case when he died, for he could
not transmit any of his goods to his children, and was only allowed to
dispose by will of a sum of about five sous, or about twenty-five francs
of modern money.

As early as the fourteenth century, serfdom or servitude no longer existed
except in "mortmain," of which we still have to speak.

[Illustration: The Court of Mary of Anjou, Wife of Charles VII.

Her chaplain the learned Robert Blondel presents her with the allegorical
Treatise of the "_Twelve Perils of Hell_." Which he composed for her
(1455). Fac-simile of a miniature from this work. Bibl. de l'Arsenal,

_Mortmain_ consisted of the privation of the right of freely disposing
of one's person or goods. He who had not the power of going where he
would, of giving or selling, of leaving by will or transferring his
property, fixed or movable, as he thought best, was called a man of

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Italian Nobleman of the Fifteenth Century. From a
Playing-card engraved on Copper about 1460 (Cabinet des Estampes, National
Library of Paris).]

This name was apparently chosen because the hand, "considered the symbol
of power and the instrument of donation," was deprived of movement,
paralysed, in fact struck as by death. It was also nearly in this sense,
that men of the Church were also called men of mortmain, because they
were equally forbidden to dispose, either in life, or by will after death,
of anything belonging to them.

There were two kinds of mortmain: real and personal; one concerning land,
and the other concerning the person; that is to say, land held in mortmain
did not change quality, whatever might be the position of the person who
occupied it, and a "man of mortmain" did not cease to suffer the
inconveniences of his position on whatever land he went to establish

The mortmains were generally subject to the greater share of feudal
obligations formerly imposed on serfs; these were particularly to work for
a certain time for their lord without receiving any wages, or else to pay
him the _tax_ when it was due, on certain definite occasions, as for
example, when he married, when he gave a dower to his daughter, when he
was taken prisoner of war, when he went to the Holy Land, &c., &c. What
particularly characterized the condition of mortmains was, that the lords
had the right to take all their goods when they died without issue, or
when the children held a separate household; and that they could not
dispose of anything they possessed, either by will or gift, beyond a
certain sum.

The noble who franchised mortmains, imposed on them in almost all cases
very heavy conditions, consisting of fees, labours, and fines of all
sorts. In fact, a mortmain person, to be free, not only required to be
franchised by his own lord, but also by all the nobles on whom he was
dependent, as well as by the sovereign. If a noble franchised without the
consent of his superiors, he incurred a fine, as it was considered a
dismemberment or depreciation of the fief.

As early as the end of the fourteenth century, the rigorous laws of
mortmain began to fall into disuse in the provinces; though if the name
began to disappear, the condition itself continued to exist. The free men,
whether they belonged to the middle class or to the peasantry, were
nevertheless still subject to pay fines or obligations to their lords of
such a nature that they must be considered to have been practically in the
same position as mortmains. In fact, this custom had been so deeply rooted
into social habits by feudalism, that to make it disappear totally at the
end of the eighteenth century, it required three decrees of the National
Convention (July 17 and October 2, 1793; and 8 Ventôse, year II.--that is,
March 2, 1794).

It is only just to state, that twelve or fourteen years earlier, Louis
XVI. had done all in his power towards the same purpose, by suppressing
mortmain, both real or personal, on the lands of the Crown, and personal
mortmain (i.e. the right of following mortmains out of their original
districts) all over the kingdom.

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Alms Bag taken from some Tapestry in Orleans,
Fifteenth Century.]

Privileges and Rights. Feudal and Municipal.

  Elements of Feudalism.--Rights of Treasure-trove, Sporting, Safe
  Conducts, Ransom, Disinheritance, &c.--Immunity of the Feudalists.--Dues
  from the Nobles to their Sovereign.--Law and University Dues.--Curious
  Exactions resulting from the Universal System of Dues.--Struggles to
  Enfranchise the Classes subjected to Dues.--Feudal Spirit and Citizen
  Spirit.--Resuscitation of the System of Ancient Municipalities in Italy,
  Germany, and France.--Municipal Institutions and Associations.--The
  Community.--The Middle-Class Cities (_Cités Bourgeoises_).--Origin of
  National Unity.

So as to understand the numerous charges, dues, and servitudes, often as
quaint as iniquitous and vexations, which weighed on the lower orders
during the Middle Ages, we must remember how the upper class, who assumed
to itself the privilege of oppression on lands and persons under the
feudal System, was constituted.

The Roman nobles, heirs to their fathers' agricultural dominions,
succeeded for the most part in preserving through the successive invasions
of the barbarians, the influence attached to the prestige of birth and
wealth; they still possessed the greater part of the land and owned as
vassals the rural populations. The Grerman nobles, on the contrary, had
not such extended landed properties, but they appropriated all the
strongest positions. The dukes, counts, and marquises were generally of
German origin. The Roman race, mixed with the blood of the various nations
it had subdued, was the first to infuse itself into ancient Society, and
only furnished barons of a secondary order.

These heterogeneous elements, brought together, with the object of common
dominion, constituted a body who found life and motion only in the
traditions of Rome and ancient Germany. From these two historical sources,
as is very judiciously pointed out by M. Mary-Lafon, issued all the habits
of the new society, and particularly the rights and privileges assumed by
the nobility.

These rights and privileges, which we are about to pass summarily in
review, were numerous, and often curious: amongst them may be mentioned
the rights of treasure-trove, the rights of wreck, the rights of
establishing fairs or markets, rights of marque, of sporting, &c.

The rights of treasure-trove were those which gave full power to dukes and
counts over all minerals found on their properties. It was in asserting
this right that the famous Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England, met his
death. Adhémar, Viscount of Limoges, had discovered in a field a treasure,
of which, no doubt, public report exaggerated the value, for it was said
to be large enough to model in pure gold, and life-size, a Roman emperor
and the members of his family, at table. Adhémar was a vassal of the Duke
of Guienne, and, as a matter of course, set aside what was considered the
sovereign's share in his discovery; but Richard, refusing to concede any
part of his privilege, claimed the whole treasure. On the refusal of the
viscount to give it up he appeared under arms before the gates of the
Castle of Chalus, where he supposed that the treasure was hidden. On
seeing the royal standard, the garrison offered to open the gates. "No,"
answered Richard, "since you have forced me to unfurl my banner, I shall
only enter by the breach, and you shall all be hung on the battlements."
The siege commenced, and did not at first seem to favour the English, for
the besieged made a noble stand. One evening, as his troops were
assaulting the place, in order to witness the scene, Richard was sitting
at a short distance on a piece of rock, protected with a target--that is,
a large shield covered with leather and blades of iron--which two archers
held over him. Impatient to see the result of the assault, Richard pushed
down the shield, and that moment decided his fate (1199). An archer of
Chalus, who had recognised him and was watching from the top of the
rampart, sent a bolt from a crossbow, which hit him full in the chest. The
wound, however, would perhaps not have been mortal, but, shortly after,
having carried the place by storm, and in his delight at finding the
treasure almost intact, he gave himself up madly to degrading orgies,
during which he had already dissipated the greater part of his treasure,
and died of his wound twelve days later; first having, however, graciously
pardoned the bowman who caused his death.

The right of shipwrecks, which the nobles of seaboard countries rarely
renounced, and of which they were the more jealous from the fact that they
had continually to dispute them with their vassals and neighbours, was the
pitiless and barbaric right of appropriating the contents of ships
happening to be wrecked on their shores.

[Illustration: Figs. 24 and 25.--Varlet or Squire carrying a Halberd with
a thick Blade; and Archer, in Fighting Dress, drawing the String of his
Crossbow with a double-handled Winch.--From the Miniatures of the
"Jouvencel," and the "Chroniques" of Froissart, Manuscripts of the
Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

When the feudal nobles granted to their vassals the right of assembling on
certain days, in order to hold fairs and markets, they never neglected to
reserve to themselves some tax on each head of cattle, as well as on the
various articles brought in and put up for sale. As these fairs and
markets never failed to attract a great number of buyers and sellers, this
formed a very lucrative tax for the noble (Fig. 26).

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Flemish Peasants at the Cattle Market.--Miniature
of the "Chroniques de Hainaut." Manuscripts of the Fifteenth Century, vol.
ii. fol. 204 (Library of the Dukes of Burgundy, Brussels).]

The right of _marque_, or reprisal, was a most barbarous custom. A famous
example is given of it. In 1022, William the Pious, Count of Angoulême,
before starting for a pilgrimage to Rome, made his three brothers, who
were his vassals, swear to live in honourable peace and good friendship.
But, notwithstanding their oath, two of the brothers, having invited the
third to the Easter festivities, seized him at night in his bed, put out
his eyes so that he might not find the way to his castle, and cut out his
tongue so that he might not name the authors of this horrible treatment.
The voice of God, however, denounced them, and the Count of Angoulême,
shuddering with horror, referred the case to his sovereign, the Duke of
Aquitaine, William IV., who immediately came, and by fire and sword
exercised his right of _marque_ on the lands of the two brothers, leaving
them nothing but their lives and limbs, after having first put out their
eyes and cut out their tongues, so as to inflict on them the penalty of

The right of sporting or hunting was of all prerogatives that dearest to,
and most valued by the nobles. Not only were the severest and even
cruellest penalties imposed on "vilains" who dared to kill the smallest
head of game, but quarrels frequently arose between nobles of different
degrees on the subject, some pretending to have a feudal privilege of
hunting on the lands of others (Fig. 27). From this tyrannical exercise of
the right of hunting, which the least powerful of the nobles only
submitted to with the most violent and bitter feelings, sprung those old
and familiar ballads, which indicate the popular sentiment on the subject.
In some of these songs the inveterate hunters are condemned, by the order
of Fairies or of the Fates, either to follow a phantom stag for
everlasting, or to hunt, like King Artus, in the clouds and to catch a fly
every hundred years.

The right of jurisdiction, which gave judicial power to the dukes and
counts in cases arising in their domains, had no appeal save to the King
himself, and this was even often contested by the nobles, as for instance,
in the unhappy case of Enguerrand de Coucy. Enguerrand had ordered three
young Flemish noblemen, who were scholars at the Abbey of "St. Nicholas
des Bois," to be seized and hung, because, not knowing that they were on
the domain of the Lord of Coucy, they had killed a few rabbits with
arrows. St. Louis called the case before him. Enguerrand answered to the
call, but only to dispute the King's right, and to claim the judgment of
his peers. The King, without taking any notice of the remonstrance,
ordered Enguerrand to be locked up in the big tower of the Louvre, and was
nearly applying the law of _retaliation_ to his case. Eventually he
granted him letters of pardon, after condemning him to build three
chapels, where masses were continually to be said for the three victims;
to give the forest where the young scholars had been found hunting, to the
Abbey of "St. Nicholas des Bois;" to lose on all his estates the rights of
jurisdiction and sporting; to serve three years in the Holy Land; and to
pay to the King a fine of 12,500 pounds tournois. It must be remembered
that Louis IX., although most generous in cases relating simply to private
interests, was one of the most stubborn defenders of royal prerogatives.

A right which feudalists had the greatest interest in observing, and
causing to be respected, because they themselves might with their
wandering habits require it at any moment, was that of _safe convoy_, or
_guidance_. This right was so powerful, that it even applied itself to the
lower orders, and its violation was considered the most odious crime;
thus, in the thirteenth century, the King of Aragon was severely abused by
all persons and all classes, because in spite of this right he caused a
Jew to be burned so as not to have to pay a debt which the man claimed of

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Nobleman in Hunting Costume, preceded by his
Servant, trying to find the Scent of a Stag.--From a Miniature in the Book
of Gaston Phoebus ("Des Deduitz de la Chasse des Bestes
Sauvaiges").--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (National Library of

The right of "the Crown" should also be mentioned, which consisted of a
circle of gold ornamented in various fashions, according to the different
degrees of feudal monarchy, which vassals had to present to their lord on
the day of his investiture. The right of seal was a fee or fine they had
to pay for the charters which their lord caused to be delivered to them.

The duty of _aubaine_ was the fine or due paid by merchants, either in
kind or money, to the feudal chief, when they passed near his castle,
landed in his ports, or exposed goods for sale in his markets.

The nobles of second order possessed among their privileges that of
wearing spurs of silver or gold according to their rank of knighthood; the
right of receiving double rations when prisoners of war; the right of
claiming a year's delay when a creditor wished to seize their land; and
the right of never having to submit to torture after trial, unless they
were condemned to death for the crime they had committed. If a great baron
for serious offences confiscated the goods of a noble who was his vassal,
the latter had a right to keep his palfrey, the horse of his squire,
various pieces of his harness and armour, his bed, his silk robe, his
wife's bed, one of her dresses, her ring, her cloth stomacher, &c.

The nobles alone possessed the right of having seats of honour in churches
and in chapels (Fig. 28), and to erect therein funereal monuments, and we
know that they maintained this right so rigorously and with so much
effrontery, that fatal quarrels at times arose on questions of precedence.
The epitaphs, the placing of tombs, the position of a monument, were all
subjects for conflicts or lawsuits. The nobles enjoyed also the right of
_disinheritance_, that is to say, of claiming the goods of a person dying
on their lands who had no direct heir; the right of claiming a tax when a
fief or domain changed hands; the right of _common oven_, or requiring
vassals to make use of the mill, the oven, or the press of the lord. At
the time of the vintage, no peasant might sell his wine until the nobles
had sold theirs. Everything was a source of privilege for the nobles.
Kings and councils waived the necessity of their studying, in order to be
received as bachelors of universities. If a noble was made a prisoner of
war, his life was saved by his nobility, and his ransom had practically to
be raised by the "vilains" of his domains. The nobles were also exempted
from serving in the militia, nor were they obliged to lodge soldiers, &c.
They had a thousand pretexts for establishing taxes on their vassals, who
were generally considered "taxable and to be worked at will." Thus in the
domain of Montignac, the Count of Perigord claimed among other things as
follows: "for every case of censure or complaint brought before him, 10
deniers; for a quarrel in which blood was shed, 60 sols; if blood was not
shed, 7 sols; for use of ovens, the sixteenth loaf of each baking; for the
sale of corn in the domain, 43 setiers: besides these, 6 setiers of rye,
161 setiers of oats, 3 setiers of beans, 1 pound of wax, 8 capons, 17
hens, and 37 loads of wine." There were a multitude of other rights due to
him, including the provostship fees, the fees on deeds, the tolls and
furnaces of towns, the taxes on salt, on leather, corn, nuts; fees for the
right of fishing; for the right of sporting, which last gave the lord a
certain part or quarter of the game killed, and, in addition, the _dîme_
or tenth part of all the corn, wine, &c., &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--Jean Jouvenel des Ursins, Provost of the
Merchants of Paris, and Michelle de Vitry, his Wife, in the Reign of
Charles VI.--Fragment of a Picture of the Period, which was in the Chapel
of the Ursinus, and is now in the Versailles Museum.]

This worthy noble gathered in besides all this, during the religious
festivals of the year, certain tributes in money on the estate of
Montignac alone, amounting to as much as 20,000 pounds tournois. One can
judge by this rough sketch, of the income he must have had, both in good
and bad years, from his other domains in the rich county of Perigord.

It must not be imagined that this was an exceptional case; all over the
feudal territory the same state of things existed, and each lord farmed
both his lands and the persons whom feudal right had placed under his

[Illustration: Fig. 29.--Dues on Wines, granted to the Chapter of Tournai
by King Chilperic.--From the Windows of the Cathedral of Tournai,
Fifteenth Century.]

To add to these already excessive rates and taxes, there were endless
dues, under all shapes and names, claimed by the ecclesiastical lords
(Figs. 29 and 30). And not only did the nobility make without scruple
these enormous exactions, but the Crown supported them in avenging any
act, however opposed to all sense of justice; so that the nobles were
really placed above the great law of equality, without which the
continuance of social order seemed normally impossible.

The history of the city of Toulouse gives us a significant example on
this subject.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--The Bishop of Tournai receiving the Tithe of Beer
granted by King Chilpéric.--From the Windows of the Cathedral of Tournai,
Fifteenth Century.]

On Easter Day, 1335, some students of the university, who had passed the
night of the anniversary of the resurrection of our Saviour in drinking,
left the table half intoxicated, and ran about the town during the hours
of service, beating pans and cauldrons, and making such a noise and
disturbance, that the indignant preachers were obliged to stop in the
middle of their discourses, and claimed the intervention of the municipal
authorities of Toulouse. One of these, the lord of Gaure, went out of
church with five sergeants, and tried himself to arrest the most turbulent
of the band. But as he was seizing him by the body, one of his comrades
gave the lord a blow with a dagger, which cut off his nose, lips, and
part of his chin. This occurrence aroused the whole town. Toulouse had
been insulted in the person of its first magistrate, and claimed
vengeance. The author of the deed, named Aimeri de Bérenger, was seized,
judged, condemned, and beheaded, and his body was suspended on the
_spikes_ of the Château Narbonnais.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--Fellows of the University of Paris haranguing the
Emperor Charles IV. in 1377.--From a Miniature of the Manuscript of the
"Chroniques de St. Denis," No. 8395 (National Library of Paris).]

Toulouse had to pay dearly for the respect shown to its municipal dignity.
The parents of the student presented a petition to the King against the
city, for having dared to execute a noble and to hang his body on a
gibbet, in opposition to the sacred right which this noble had of
appealing to the judgment of his peers. The Parliament of Paris finally
decided the matter with the inflexible partiality to the rights of rank,
and confiscated all the goods of the inhabitants, forced the principal
magistrates to go on their knees before the house of Aimeri de Bérenger,
and ask pardon; themselves to take down the body of the victim, and to
have it publicly and honourably buried in the burial-ground of the
Daurade. Such was the sentence and humiliation to which one of the first
towns of the south was subjected, for having practised immediate justice
on a noble, whilst it would certainly have suffered no vindication, if the
culprit condemned to death had belonged to the middle or lower orders.

We must nevertheless remember that heavy dues fell upon the privileged
class themselves to a certain degree, and that if they taxed their poor
vassals without mercy, they had in their turn often to reckon with their
superiors in the feudal hierarchy.

_Albere_, or right of shelter, was the principal charge imposed upon the
noble. When a great baron visited his lands, his tenants were not only
obliged to give him and his followers shelter, but also provisions and
food, the nature and quality of which were all arranged beforehand with
the most extraordinary minuteness. The lesser nobles took advantage
sometimes of the power they possessed to repurchase this obligation; but
the rich, on the contrary, were most anxious to seize the occasion of
proudly displaying before their sovereign all the pomp in their power, at
the risk even of mortgaging their revenues for several years, and of
ruining their vassals. History is full of stories bearing witness to the
extravagant prodigalities of certain nobles on such occasions.

Payments in kind fell generally on the abbeys, up to 1158. That of St.
Denis, which was very rich in lands, was charged with supplying the house
and table of the King. This tax, which became heavier and heavier,
eventually fell on the Parisians, who only succeeded in ridding themselves
of it in 1374, when Charles V. made all the bourgeois of Paris noble. In
the twelfth century, all furniture made of wood or iron which was found in
the house of the Bishop at his death, became the property of the King. But
in the fourteenth century, the abbots of St. Denis, St. Germain des Prés,
St. Geneviève (Fig. 32), and a few priories in the neighbourhood of Paris,
were only required to present the sovereign with two horse-loads of
produce annually, so as to keep up the old system of fines.

This system of rents and dues of all kinds was so much the basis of social
organization in the Middle Ages, that it sometimes happened that the lower
orders benefited by it.

Thus the bed of the Bishop of Paris belonged, after his death, to the poor
invalids of the Hôtel Dieu. The canons were also bound to leave theirs to
that hospital, as an atonement for the sins which they had committed. The
Bishops of Paris were required to give two very sumptuous repasts to
their chapters at the feasts of St. Eloi and St. Paul. The holy men of
St. Martin were obliged, annually, on the 10th of November, to offer to
the first President of the Court of Parliament, two square caps, and to
the first usher, a writing-desk and a pair of gloves. The executioner too
received, from various monastic communities of the capital, bread,
bottles of wine, and pigs' heads; and even criminals who were taken to
Montfaucon to be hung had the right to claim bread and wine from the nuns
of St. Catherine and the Filles Dieux, as they passed those establishments
on their way to the gibbet.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--Front of the Ancient Church of the Abbey of
Sainte-Geneviève, in Paris, founded by Clovis, and rebuilt from the
Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries.--State of the Building before its
Destruction at the End of the Last Century.]

Fines were levied everywhere, at all times, and for all sorts of reasons.
Under the name of _épices_, the magistrates, judges, reporters, and
counsel, who had at first only received sweetmeats and preserves as
voluntary offerings, eventually exacted substantial tribute in current
coin. Scholars who wished to take rank in the University sent some small
pies, costing ten sols, to each examiner. Students in philosophy or
theology gave two suppers to the president, eight to the other masters,
besides presenting them with sweetmeats, &c. It would be an endless task
to relate all the fines due by apprentices and companions before they
could reach mastership in their various crafts, nor have we yet mentioned
certain fines, which, from their strange or ridiculous nature, prove to
what a pitch of folly men may be led under the influence of tyranny,
vanity, or caprice.

Thus, we read of vassals descending to the humiliating occupation of
beating the water of the moat of the castle, in order to stop the noise of
the frogs, during the illness of the mistress; we elsewhere find that at
times the lord required of them to hop on one leg, to kiss the latch of
the castle-gate, or to go through some drunken play in his presence, or
sing a somewhat broad song before the lady.

At Tulle, all the rustics who had married during the year were bound to
appear on the Puy or Mont St. Clair. At twelve o'clock precisely, three
children came out of the hospital, one beating a drum violently, the other
two carrying a pot full of dirt; a herald called the names of the
bride-grooms, and those who were absent or were unable to assist in
breaking the pot by throwing stones at it, paid a fine.

At Périgueux, the young couples had to give the consuls a pincushion of
embossed leather or cloth of different colours; a woman marrying a second
time was required to present them with an earthen pot containing twelve
sticks of different woods; a woman marrying for the third time, a barrel
of cinders passed thirteen times through the sieve, and thirteen spoons
made of wood of fruit-trees; and, lastly, one coming to the altar for the
fifth time was obliged to bring with her a small tub containing the
excrement of a white hen!

"The people of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period were literally
tied down with taxes and dues of all sorts," says M. Mary-Lafon. "If a few
gleams of liberty reached them, it was only from a distance, and more in
the hope of the future than as regarded the present. As an example of the
way people were treated, a certain Lord of Laguène, spoken of in the old
chronicles of the south, may be mentioned. Every year, this cunning baron
assembled his tenants in the village square. A large maypole was planted,
and on the top was attached a wren. The lord, pointing to the little bird,
declared solemnly, that if any 'vilain' succeeded in piercing him with an
arrow he should be exempt from that year's dues. The vilains shot away,
but, to the great merriment of their lord, never hit, and so had to
continue paying the dues."

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--Ramparts of the Town of Aigues-Mortes, one of the
Municipalities of Languedoc.]

One can easily understand how such a system, legalised by law, hampered
the efforts for freedom, which a sense of human dignity was constantly
raising in the bosoms of the oppressed. The struggle was long, often
bloody, and at times it seemed almost hopeless, for on both sides it was
felt that the contest was between two principles which were incompatible,
and one of which must necessarily end by annihilating the other. Any
compromise between the complete slavery and the personal freedom of the
lower orders, could only be a respite to enable these implacable
adversaries to reinforce themselves, so as to resume with more vigour than
ever this desperate combat, the issue of which was so long to remain

[Illustration: Louis IV Leaving Alexandria on the 24th of April 1507 To
chastise the city of Genoa.

From a miniature by Jean Marot. No 5091, Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

These efforts to obtain individual liberty displayed themselves more
particularly in towns; but although they became almost universal in the
west, they had not the same importance or character everywhere. The feudal
system had not everywhere produced the same consequences. Thus, whilst in
ancient Gaul it had absorbed all social vitality, we find that in Germany,
the place of its origin, the Teutonic institutions of older date gave a
comparative freedom to the labourers. In southern countries again we find
the same beneficial effect from the Roman rule.

On that long area of land reaching from the southern slope of the Cevennes
to the Apennines, the hand of the barbarian had weighed much less heavily
than on the rest of Europe. In those favoured provinces where Roman
organization had outlived Roman patronage, it seems as if ancient
splendour had never ceased to exist, and the elegance of customs
re-flourished amidst the ruins. There, a sort of urban aristocracy always
continued, as a balance against the nobles, and the counsel of elected
_prud'hommes_, the syndics, jurors or _capitouls_, who in the towns
replaced the Roman _honorati_ and _curiales_, still were considered by
kings and princes as holding some position in the state. The municipal
body, larger, more open than the old "ward," no longer formed a
corporation of unwilling aristocrats enchained to privileges which ruined
them. The principal cities on the Italian coast had already amassed
enormous wealth by commerce, and displayed the most remarkable ardour,
activity, and power. The Eternal City, which was disputed by emperors,
popes, and barons of the Roman States, bestirred itself at times to snatch
at the ancient phantom of republicanism; and this phantom was destined
soon to change into reality, and another Rome, or rather a new Carthage,
the lovely Venice, arose free and independent from the waves of the
Adriatic (Fig. 34).

In Lombardy, so thickly colonised by the German conquerors, feudalism, on
the contrary, weighed heavily; but there, too, the cities were populous
and energetic, and the struggle for supremacy continued for centuries in
an uncompromising manner between the people and the nobles, between the
Guelphs and the Ghibellines.

In the north and east of the Gallic territory, the instinct of resistance
did not exist any the less, though perhaps it was more intermittent. In
fact, in these regions we find ambitious nobles forestalling the action of
the King, and in order to attach towns to themselves and their houses,
suppressing the most obnoxious of the taxes, and at the same time
granting legal guarantees. For this the Counts of Flanders became
celebrated, and the famous Héribert de Vermandois was noted for being so
exacting in his demands with the great, and yet so popular with the small.

[Illustration: Fig. 34.--View of St. Mark's Place, Venice, Sixteenth
Century, after Cesare Vecellio.]

The eleventh century, during which feudal power rose to its height, was
also the period when a reaction set in of the townspeople against the
nobility. The spirit of the city revived with that of the bourgeois (a
name derived from the Teutonic word _burg_, habitation) and infused a
feeling of opposition to the system which followed the conquest of the
Teutons. "But," says M. Henri Martin, "what reappeared was not the Roman
municipality of the Empire, stained by servitude, although surrounded with
glittering pomp and gorgeous arts, but it was something coarse and almost
semi-barbarous in form, though strong and generous at core, and which, as
far as the difference of the times would allow, rather reminds us of the
small republics which existed previous to the Roman Empire."

Two strong impulses, originating from two totally dissimilar centres of
action, irresistibly propelled this great social revolution, with its
various and endless aspects, affecting all central Europe, and being more
or less felt in the west, the north, and the south. On one side, the Greek
and Latin partiality for ancient corporations, modified by a democratic
element, and an innate feeling of opposition characteristic of barbaric
tribes; and on the other, the free spirit and equality of the old Celtic
tribes rising suddenly against the military hierarchy, which was the
offspring of conquest. Europe was roused by the double current of ideas
which simultaneously urged her on to a new state of civilisation, and more
particularly to a new organization of city life.

Italy was naturally destined to be the country where the new trials of
social regeneration were to be made; but she presented the greatest
possible variety of customs, laws, and governments, including Emperor,
Pope, bishops, and feudal princes. In Tuscany and Liguria, the march
towards liberty was continued almost without effort; whilst in Lombardy,
on the contrary, the feudal resistance was very powerful. Everywhere,
however, cities became more or less completely enfranchised, though some
more rapidly than others. In Sicily, feudalism swayed over the countries;
but in the greater part of the peninsula, the democratic spirit of the
cities influenced the enfranchisement of the rural population. The feudal
caste was in fact dissolved; the barons were transformed into patricians
of the noble towns which gave their republican magistrates the old title
of consuls. The Teutonic Emperor in vain sought to seize and turn to his
own interest the sovereignty of the people, who had shaken off the yokes
of his vassals: the signal of war was immediately given by the newly
enfranchised masses; and the imperial eagle was obliged to fly before the
banners of the besieged cities. Happy indeed might the cities of Italy
have been had they not forgotten, in their prosperity, that union alone
could give them the possibility of maintaining that liberty which they so
freely risked in continual quarrels amongst one another!

[Illustration: Fig. 35.--William, Duke of Normandy, accompanied by
Eustatius, Count of Boulogne, and followed by his Knights in
arms.--Military Dress of the Eleventh Century, from Bayeux Tapestry said
to have been worked by Queen Matilda.]

The Italian movement was immediately felt on the other side of the Alps.
In Provence, Septimanie, and Aquitaine, we find, in the eleventh century,
cities which enjoyed considerable freedom. Under the name of communities
and universities, which meant that all citizens were part of the one body,
they jointly interfered in the general affairs of the kingdom to which
they belonged. Their magistrates were treated on a footing of equality
with the feudal nobility, and although the latter at first would only
recognise them as "good men" or notables, the consuls knew how to make a
position for themselves in the hierarchy. If the consulate, which was a
powerful expression of the most prominent system of independence, did no
succeed in suppressing feudalism in Provence as in Italy, it at least so
transformed it, that it deprived it of its most unjust and insupportable
elements. At Toulouse, for instance (where the consuls were by exception
called _capitouls_, that is to say, heads of the chapters or councils of
the city), the lord of the country seemed less a feudal prince in his
capital, than an honorary magistrate of the bourgeoisie. Avignon added to
her consuls two _podestats_ (from the Latin _potestas_, power). At
Marseilles, the University of the high city was ruled by a republic under
the presidency of the Count of Provence, although the lower city was still
under the sovereignty of a viscount. Périgueux, which was divided into two
communities, "the great and the small fraternity," took up arms to resist
the authority of the Counts of Périgord; and Arles under its _podestats_
was governed for some time as a free and imperial town. Amongst the
constitutions which were established by the cities, from the eleventh to
the sixteenth centuries, we find admirable examples of administration and
government, so that one is struck with admiration at the efforts of
intelligence and patriotism, often uselessly lavished on such small
political arenas. The consulate, which nominally at least found its origin
in the ancient grandeur of southern regions, did not spread itself beyond
Lyons. In the centre of France, at Poictiers, Tours, Moulin, &c., the
urban progress only manifested itself in efforts which were feeble and
easily suppressed; but in the north, on the contrary, in the provinces
between the Seine and the Rhine, and even between the Seine and the Loire,
the system of franchise took footing and became recognised. In some
places, the revolution was effected without difficulty, but in others it
gave rise to the most determined struggles. In Normandy, for instance,
under the active and intelligent government of the dukes of the race of
Roll or Rollon, the middle class was rich and even warlike. It had access
to the councils of the duchy; and when it was contemplated to invade
England, the Duke William (Fig. 35) found support from the middle class,
both in money and men. The case was the same in Flanders, where the towns
of Ghent (Fig. 36), of Bruges, of Ypres, after being enfranchised but a
short time developed with great rapidity. But in the other counties of
western France, the greater part of the towns were still much oppressed by
the counts and bishops. If some obtained certain franchises, these
privileges were their ultimate ruin, owing to the ill faith of their
nobles. A town between the Loire and the Seine gave the signal which
caused the regeneration of the North. The inhabitants of Mans formed a
community or association, and took an oath that they would obtain and
maintain certain rights. They rebelled about 1070, and forced the count
and his noble vassals to grant them the freedom which they had sworn to
obtain, though William of Normandy very soon restored the rebel city to
order, and dissolved the presumptuous community. However, the example soon
bore fruit. Cambrai rose in its turn and proclaimed the "Commune," and
although its bishop, aided by treason and by the Count of Hainault,
reduced it to obedience, it only seemed to succumb for a time, to renew
the struggle with greater success at a subsequent period.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.--Civic Guard of Ghent (Brotherhood of St.
Sebastian), from a painting on the Wall of the Chapel of St. John and St.
Paul, Ghent, near the Gate of Bruges.]

We have just mentioned the Commune; but we must not mistake the true
meaning of this word, which, under a Latin form (_communitas_), expresses
originally a Germanic idea, and in its new form a Christian mode of
living. Societies of mutual defence, guilds, &c., had never disappeared
from Germanic and Celtic countries; and, indeed, knighthood itself was
but a brotherhood of Christian warriors. The societies of the _Paix de
Dieu_, and of the _Trève de Dieu_, were encouraged by the clergy in order
to stop the bloody quarrels of the nobility, and formed in reality great
religious guilds. This idea of a body of persons taking some common oath
to one another, of which feudalism gave so striking an example, could not
fail to influence the minds of the rustics and the lower classes, and they
only wanted the opportunity which the idea of the Commune at once gave
them of imitating their superiors.

They too took oaths, and possessed their bodies and souls in "common;"
they seized, by force of strategy, the ramparts of their towns; they
elected mayors, aldermen, and jurors, who were charged to watch over the
interests of their association. They swore to spare neither their goods,
their labour, nor their blood, in order to free themselves; and not
content with defending themselves behind barricades or chains which closed
the streets, they boldly took the offensive against the proud feudal
chiefs before whom their fathers had trembled, and they forced the nobles,
who now saw themselves threatened by this armed multitude, to acknowledge
their franchise by a solemn covenant.

It does not follow that everywhere the Commune was established by means of
insurrection, for it was obtained after all sorts of struggles; and
franchises were sold in some places for gold, and in others granted by a
more or less voluntary liberality. Everywhere the object was the same;
everywhere they struggled or negotiated to upset, by a written
constitution or charter, the violence and arbitrary rule under which they
had so long suffered, and to replace by an annual and fixed rent, under
the protection of an independent and impartial law, the unlimited
exactions and disguised plundering so long made by the nobility and
royalty. Circumstanced as they were, what other means had they to attain
this end but ramparts and gates, a common treasury, a permanent military
force, and magistrates who were both administrators, judges, and captains?
The hôtel de ville, or mansion-house, immediately became a sort of civic
temple, where the banner of the Commune, the emblems of unity, and the
seal which sanctioned the municipal acts were preserved. Then arose the
watch-towers, where the watchmen were unceasingly posted night and day,
and whence the alarm signal was ever ready to issue its powerful sounds
when danger threatened the city. These watch-towers, the monuments of
liberty, became as necessary for the burghers as the clock-towers of
their cathedrals, whose brilliant peals and joyous chimes gave zest to the
popular feasts (Fig. 37). The mansion-houses built in Flanders from the
fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, under municipal influence, are
marvels of architecture.

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--Chimes of the Clock of St. Lambert of Liége.]

Who is there who could thoroughly describe or even appreciate all the
happy or unhappy vicissitudes relating to the establishment of the
Communes? We read of the Commune of Cambrai, four times created, four
times destroyed, and which was continually at war with the Bishops; the
Commune of Beauvais, sustained on the contrary by the diocesan prelate
against two nobles who possessed feudal rights over it; Laon, a commune
bought for money from the bishop, afterwards confirmed by the King, and
then violated by fraud and treachery, and eventually buried in the blood
of its defenders. We read also of St. Quentin, where the Count of
Vermandois and his vassals voluntarily swore to maintain the right of the
bourgeois, and scrupulously respected their oath. In many other localities
the feudal dignitaries took alarm simply at the name of Commune, and
whereas they would not agree to the very best arrangements under this
terrible designation, they did not hesitate to adopt them when called
either the "laws of friendship," the "peace of God," or the "institutions
of peace." At Lisle, for instance, the bourgeois magistrates took the name
of _appeasers_, or watchers over friendship. At Aire, in Artois, the
members of friendship mutually, not only helped one another against the
enemy, but also assisted one another in distress.

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--The Deputies of the burghers of Ghent, in revolt
against their Sovereign Louis II., Count of Flanders, come to beg him to
pardon them, and to return to their Town. 1397--Miniature from Froissart,
No. 2644 (National Library of Paris)]

Amiens deserves the first place amongst the cities which dearly purchased
their privileges. The most terrible and sanguinary war was sustained by
the bourgeois against their count and lord of the manor, assisted by King
Louis le Gros, who had under similar circumstances just taken the part of
the nobles of Laon.

From Amiens, which, having been triumphant, became a perfect municipal
republic, the example propagated itself throughout the rest of Picardy,
the Isle of France, Normandy, Brittany, and Burgundy, and by degrees,
without any revolutionary shocks, reached the region of Lyons, where the
consulate, a characteristic institution of southern Communes, ended.

From Flanders, also, the movement spread in the direction of the German
Empire; and there, too, the struggle was animated, and victorious against
the aristocracy, until at last the great system of enfranchisement
prevailed; and the cities of the west and south formed a confederation
against the nobles, whilst those in the north formed the famous Teutonic
Hanse, so celebrated for its maritime commerce.

The centre of France slowly followed the movement; but its progress was
considerably delayed by the close influence of royalty, which sometimes
conceded large franchises, and sometimes suppressed the least claims to
independence. The kings, who willingly favoured Communes on the properties
of their neighbours, did not so much care to see them forming on their own
estates; unless the exceptional position and importance of any town
required a wise exercise of tolerance. Thus Orleans, situated in the heart
of the royal domains, was roughly repulsed in its first movement; whilst
Mantes, which was on the frontier of the Duchy of Normandy, and still
under the King of England, had but to ask in order to receive its
franchise from the King of France.

It was particularly in the royal domains that cities were to be found,
which, although they did not possess the complete independence of
communes, had a certain amount of liberty and civil guarantees. They had
neither the right of war, the watch-tower, nor the exclusive jurisdiction
over their elected magistrates, for the bailiffs and the royal provosts
represented the sovereign amongst them (Fig. 39).

[Illustration: Fig. 39.--Bailliage, or Tribunal of the King's
Bailiff.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on Wood in the Work of Josse
Damhoudere, "Praxis Rerum Civilium." (Antwerp, 1557, in 4to.).]

In Paris, less than anywhere, could the kings consent to the organization
of an independent political System, although that city succeeded in
creating for itself a municipal existence. The middle-class influence
originated in a Gallo-Roman corporation. The Company of _Nautes_ or "the
Corporation of the Water Trade," formed a centre round which were
successively attached various bodies of different trades. Gradually a
strong concourse of civic powers was established, which succeeded in
electing a municipal council, composed of a provost of merchants, four
aldermen, and twenty-six councillors of the town. This council afterwards
succeeded in overstepping the royal influence at difficult times, and was
destined to play a prominent part in history.

There also sprang up a lower order of towns or boroughs than these
bourgeois cities, which were especially under the Crown. Not having
sufficient strength to claim a great amount of liberty, they were obliged
to be satisfied with a few privileges, conceded to them by the nobles, for
the most part with a political end. These were the Free Towns or New Towns
which we have already named.

However it came about, it is certain that although during the tenth
century feudal power was almost supreme in Europe, as early as the twelfth
century the municipal system had gained great weight, and was constantly
progressing until the policy of the kingdom became developed on a more and
more extended basis, so that it was then necessary for it to give up its
primitive nature, and to participate in the great movement of
consolidisation and national unity. In this way the position of the large
towns in the state relatively lost their individual position, and became
somewhat analogous, as compared with the kingdom at large, to that
formerly held by bourgeois in the cities. Friendly ties arose between
provinces; and distinct and rival interests were effaced by the general
aspiration towards common objects. The towns were admitted to the states
general, and the citizens of various regions mixed as representatives of
the _Tiers Etat_. Three orders thus met, who were destined to struggle for
predominance in the future.

We must call attention to the fact that, as M. Henri Martin says, by an
apparent contradiction, the fall of the Communes declared itself in
inverse ratio to the progress of the _Tiers Etat_. By degrees, as the
government became more settled from the great fiefs being absorbed by the
Crown, and as parliament and other courts of appeal which emanated from
the middle class extended their high judiciary and military authority, so
the central power, organized under monarchical form, must necessarily have
been less disposed to tolerate the local independence of the Communes. The
State replaced the Commune for everything concerning justice, war, and
administration. No doubt some valuable privileges were lost; but that was
only an accidental circumstance, for a great social revolution was
produced, which cleared off at once all the relics of the old age; and
when the work of reconstruction terminated, homage was rendered to the
venerable name of "Commune," which became uniformly applied to all towns,
boroughs, or villages into which the new spirit of the same municipal
system was infused.

[Illustration: Fig. 40.--Various Arms of the Fifteenth Century.]

Private Life in the Castles, the Towns, and the Rural Districts.

  The Merovingian Castles.--Pastimes of the Nobles; Hunting,
  War.--Domestic Arrangements.--Private Life of Charlemagne.--Domestic
  Habits under the Carlovingians.--Influence of Chivalry.--Simplicity of
  the Court of Philip Angustus not imitated by his Successors.--Princely
  Life of the Fifteenth Century.--The bringing up of Latour Landry, a
  Noble of Anjou.--Varlets, Pages, Esquires, Maids of Honour.--Opulence of
  the Bourgeoisie.--"Le Menagier de Paris."--Ancient Dwellings.--State of
  Rustics at various Periods.--"Rustic Sayings," by Noël du Fail.

Augustin Thierry, taking Gregory of Tours, the Merovingian Herodotus, as
an authority, thus describes a royal domain under the first royal dynasty
of France:--

"This dwelling in no way possessed the military aspect of the château of
the Middle Ages; it was a large building surrounded with porticos of Roman
architecture, sometimes built of carefully polished and sculptured wood,
which in no way was wanting in elegance. Around the main body of the
building were arranged the dwellings of the officers of the palace, either
foreigners or Romans, and those of the chiefs of companies, who, according
to Germanic custom, had placed themselves and their warriors under the
King, that is to say, under a special engagement of vassalage and
fidelity. Other houses, of less imposing appearance, were occupied by a
great number of families, who worked at all sorts of trades, such as
jewellery, the making of arms, weaving, currying, the embroidering of silk
and gold, cotton, &c.

"Farm-buildings, paddocks, cow-houses, sheepfolds, barns, the houses of
agriculturists, and the cabins of the serfs, completed the royal village,
which perfectly resembled, although on a larger scale, the villages of
ancient Germany. There was something too in the position of these
dwellings which resembled the scenery beyond the Rhine; the greater number
of them were on the borders, and some few in the centre of great forests,
which have since been partly destroyed, and the remains of which we so
much admire."

[Illustration: Fig. 41.--St. Remy, Bishop of Rheims, begging of Clovis the
restitution of the Sacred Vase taken by the Franks in the Pillage of
Soissons.--Costumes of the Court of Burgundy in the Fifteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Miniature on a Manuscript of the "History of the
Emperors" (Library of the Arsenal).]

Although historical documents are not very explicit respecting those
remote times, it is only sufficient to study carefully a very small
portion of the territory in order to form some idea of the manners and
customs of the Franks; for in the royal domain we find the existence of
all classes, from the sovereign himself down to the humblest slave. As
regards the private life, however, of the different classes in this
elementary form of society, we have but approximate and very imperfect

It is clear, however, that as early as the beginning of the Merovingian
race, there was much more luxury and comfort among the upper classes than
is generally supposed. All the gold and silver furniture, all the jewels,
and all the rich stuffs which the Gallo-Romans had amassed in their
sumptuous dwellings, had not been destroyed by the barbarians. The Frank
Kings had appropriated the greater part; and the rest had fallen into the
hands of the chiefs of companies in the division of spoil. A well-known
anecdote, namely, that concerning the Vase of Soissons (Fig. 41), which
King Clovis wished to preserve, and which a soldier broke with an axe,
proves that many gems of ancient art must have disappeared, owing to the
ignorance and brutality of the conquerors; although it is equally certain
that the latter soon adopted the tastes and customs of the native
population. At first, they appropriated everything that flattered their
pride and sensuality. This is how the material remains of the civilisation
of the Gauls were preserved in the royal and noble residences, the
churches, and the monasteries. Gregory of Tours informs us, that when
Frédégonde, wife of Chilpéric, gave the hand of her daughter Rigouthe to
the son of the Gothic king, fifty chariots were required to carry away all
the valuable objects which composed the princess's dower. A strange family
scene, related by the same historian, gives us an idea of the private
habits of the court of that terrible queen of the Franks. "The mother and
daughter had frequent quarrels, which sometimes ended in the most violent
encounters. Frédégonde said one day to Rigouthe, 'Why do you continually
trouble me? Here are the goods of your father, take them and do as you
like with them.' And conducting her to a room where she locked up her
treasures, she opened a large box filled with valuables. After having
pulled out a great number of jewels which she gave to her daughter, she
said, 'I am tired; put your own hands in the box, and take what you find.'
Rigouthe bent down to reach the objects placed at the bottom of the box;
upon which Frédégonde immediately lowered the lid on her daughter, and
pressed upon it with so much force that the eyes began to start out of the
princess's head. A maid began screaming, 'Help! my mistress is being
murdered by her mother!' and Rigouthe was saved from an untimely end." It
is further related that this was only one of the minor crimes attributed
by history to Frédégonde _the Terrible_, who always carried a dagger or
poison about with her.

Amongst the Franks, as amongst all barbaric populations, hunting was the
pastime preferred when war was not being waged. The Merovingian nobles
were therefore determined hunters, and it frequently happened that hunting
occupied whole weeks, and took them far from their homes and families. But
when the season or other circumstances prevented them from waging war
against men or beasts, they only cared for feasting and gambling. To these
occupations they gave themselves up, with a determination and wildness
well worthy of those semi-civilised times. It was the custom for invited
guests to appear armed at the feasts, which were the more frequent,
inasmuch as they were necessarily accompanied with religious ceremonies.
It often happened that these long repasts, followed by games of chance,
were stained with blood, either in private quarrels or in a general
_mêlée_. One can easily imagine the tumult which must have arisen in a
numerous assembly when the hot wine and other fermented drinks, such as
beer, &c., had excited every one to the highest pitch of unchecked

[Illustration: Fig. 42.--Costumes of the Women of the Court from the Sixth
to the Tenth Centuries, from Documents collected by H. de Vielcastel, in
the great Libraries of Europe.]

Some of the Merovingian kings listened to the advice of the ministers of
the Catholic religion, and tried to reform these noisy excesses, and
themselves abandoned the evil custom. For this purpose they received at
their tables bishops, who blessed the assembly at the commencement of the
meal, and were charged besides to recite chapters of holy writ, or to
sing hymns out of the divine service, so as to edify and occupy the minds
of the guests.

Gregory of Tours bears witness to the happy influence of the presence of
bishops at the tables of the Frank kings and nobles; he relates, too, that
Chilpéric, who was very proud of his theological and secular knowledge,
liked, when dining, to discuss, or rather to pronounce authoritatively his
opinion on questions of grammar, before his companions in arms, who, for
the most part, neither knew how to read nor write; he even went as far as
to order three ancient Greek letters to be added to the Latin alphabet.

[Illustration: Fig. 43.--Queen Frédégonde, seated on her Throne, gives
orders to two young Men of Térouanne to assassinate Sigebert, King of
Austrasia.--Window in the Cathedral of Tournai, Fifteenth Century.]

The private properties of the Frank kings were immense, and produced
enormous revenues. These monarchs had palaces in almost all the large
towns; at Bourges, Châlons-sur-Saône, Châlons-sur-Marne, Dijon, Étampes,
Metz, Langres, Mayence, Rheims, Soissons, Tours, Toulouse, Trèves,
Valenciennes, Worms, &c. In Paris, they occupied the vast residence now
known as the _Thermes de Julien_ (Hôtel de Cluny), which then extended
from the hill of St. Geneviève as far as the Seine; but they frequently
left it for their numerous villas in the neighbourhood, on which occasions
they were always accompanied by their treasury.

All these residences were built on the same plan. High walls surrounded
the palace. The Roman _atrium_, preserved under the name of _proaulium_
(_preau_, ante-court), was placed in front of the _salutorium_ (hall of
reception), where visitors were received. The _consistorium_, or great
circular hall surrounded with seats, served for legislation, councils,
public assemblies, and other solemnities, at which the kings displayed
their royal pomp.

The _trichorium_, or dining-room, was generally the largest hall in the
palace; two rows of columns divided it into three parts; one for the royal
family, one for the officers of the household, and the third for the
guests, who were always very numerous. No person of rank visiting the King
could leave without sitting at his table, or at least draining a cup to
his health. The King's hospitality was magnificent, especially on great
religious festivals such as Christmas and Easter.

The royal apartments were divided into winter and summer rooms. In order
to regulate the temperature hot or cold water was used, according to the
season; this circulated in the pipes of the _hypocauste_, or the
subterranean furnace which warmed the baths. The rooms with chimneys were
called _epicaustoria_ (stoves), and it was the custom hermetically to
close these when any one wished to be anointed with ointments and aromatic
essences. In the same manner as the Gallo-Roman houses, the palaces of the
Frank kings and principal nobles of ecclesiastical or military order had
_thermes_, or bath-rooms: to the _thermes_ were attached a _colymbum_, or
washhouse, a gymnasium for bodily exercise, and a _hypodrome_, or covered
gallery for exercise, which must not be confounded with the _hippodrome_,
a circus where horse-races took place.

Sometimes after the repast, in the interval between two games of dice, the
nobles listened to a bard, who sang the brilliant deeds of their ancestors
in their native tongue.

Under the government of Charlemagne, the private life of his subjects
seems to have been less rough and coarse, although they did not entirely
give up their turbulent pleasures. Science and letters, for a long time
buried in monasteries, reappeared like beautiful exiles at the imperial
court, and social life thereby gained a little charm and softness.
Charlemagne had created in his palace, under the direction of Alcuin, a
sort of academy called the "School of the Palace," which followed him
everywhere. The intellectual exercises of this school generally brought
together all the members of the imperial family, as well as all the
persons of the household. Charlemagne, in fact, was himself one of the
most attentive followers of the lessons given by Alcuin. He was indeed the
principal interlocutor and discourser at the discussions, which were on
all subjects, religions, literary, and philosophical.

[Illustration: Fig. 44.--Costumes of the Nobility from the Seventh to the
Ninth Centuries, from Documents gathered by H. de Vielcastel from the
great Libraries of Europe.]

Charlemagne took as much pains with the administration of his palace as he
did with that of his States. In his "Capitulaires," a work he wrote on
legislature, we find him descending to the minutest details in that
respect. For instance, he not only interested himself in his warlike and
hunting equipages, but also in his kitchen and pleasure gardens. He
insisted upon knowing every year the number of his oxen, horses, and
goats; he calculated the produce of the sale of fruits gathered in his
orchards, which were not required for the use of his house; he had a
return of the number of fish caught in his ponds; he pointed out the
shrubs best calculated for ornamenting his garden, and the vegetables
which were required for his table, &c.

The Emperor generally assumed the greatest simplicity in his dress. His
daily attire consisted of a linen shirt and drawers, and a woollen tunic
fastened with a silk belt. Over this tunic he threw a cloak of blue stuff,
very long behind and before, but very short on each side, thus giving
freedom to his arms to use his sword, which he always wore. On his feet he
wore bands of stuffs of various colours, crossed over one another, and
covering his legs also. In winter, when he travelled or hunted on
horseback, he threw over his shoulders a covering of otter or sheepskin.
The changes in fashion which the custom of the times necessitated, but to
which he would never submit personally, induced him to issue several
strenuous orders, which, however, in reality had hardly any effect.

He was most simple as regards his food and drink, and made a habit of
having pious or historical works read to him during his repasts. He
devoted the morning, which with him began in summer at sunrise, and in
winter earlier, to the political administration of his empire. He dined at
twelve with his family; the dukes and chiefs of various nations first
waited on him, and then took their places at the table, and were waited on
in their turn by the counts, prefects, and superior officers of the court,
who dined after them. When these had finished the different chiefs of the
household sat down, and they were succeeded lastly by servants of the
lower order, who often did not dine till midnight, and had to content
themselves with what was left. When occasion required, however, this
powerful Emperor knew how to maintain the pomp and dignity of his station;
but as soon as he had done what was necessary, either for some great
religious festival or otherwise, he returned, as if by instinct, to his
dear and native simplicity.

It must be understood that the simple tastes of Charlemagne were not
always shared by the princes and princesses of his family, nor by the
magnates of his court (Fig. 45). Poets and historians have handed down to
us descriptions of hunts, feasts, and ceremonies, at which a truly Asiatic
splendour was displayed. Eginhard, however, assures us that the sons and
daughters of the King were brought up under their father's eye in liberal
studios; that, to save them from the vice of idleness, Charlemagne
required his sons to devote themselves to all bodily exercises, such as
horsemanship, handling of arms, &c., and his daughters to do needlework
and to spin. From what is recorded, however, of the frivolous habits and
irregular morals of these princesses, it is evident that they but
imperfectly realised the end of their education.

[Illustration: Fig. 45.--Costumes of the Ladies of the Nobility in the
Ninth Century, from a Miniature in the Bible of Charles the Bold (National
Library of Paris).]

Science and letters, which for a time were brought into prominence by
Charlemagne and also by his son Louis, who was very learned and was
considered skilful in translating and expounding Scripture, were, however,
after the death of these two kings, for a long time banished to the
seclusion of the cloisters, owing to the hostile rivalry of their
successors, which favoured the attacks of the Norman pirates. All the
monuments and relics of the Gallo-Roman civilisation, which the great
Emperor had collected, disappeared in the civil wars, or were gradually
destroyed by the devastations of the northerners.

The vast empire which Charlemagne had formed became gradually split up, so
that from a dread of social destruction, in order to protect churches and
monasteries, as well as castles and homesteads, from the attacks of
internal as well as foreign enemies, towers and impregnable fortresses
began to rise in all parts of Europe, and particularly in France.

[Illustration: Fig. 46.--Towers of the Castle of Sémur, and of the Castle
of Nogent-le-Rotrou (Present Condition).--Specimens of Towers of the
Thirteenth Century.]

During the first period of feudalism, that is to say from the middle of
the ninth to the middle of the twelfth centuries, the inhabitants of
castles had little time to devote to the pleasures of private life. They
had not only to be continually under arms for the endless quarrels of the
King and the great chiefs; but they had also to oppose the Normans on one
side, and the Saracens on the other, who, being masters of the Spanish
peninsula, spread like the rising tide in the southern counties of
Languedoc and Provence. It is true that the Carlovingian warriors obtained
a handsome and rich reward for these long and sanguinary efforts, for at
last they seized upon the provinces and districts which had been
originally entrusted to their charge, and the origin of their feudal
possession was soon so far forgotten, that their descendants pretended
that they held the lands, which they had really usurped regardless of
their oath, from heaven and their swords. It is needless to say, that at
that time the domestic life in these castles must have been dull and
monotonous; although, according to M. Guizot, the loneliness which was the
resuit of this rough and laborious life, became by degrees the pioneer of

"When the owner of the fief left his castle, his wife remained there,
though in a totally different position from that which women generally
held. She remained as mistress, representing her husband, and was charged
with the defence and honour of the fief. This high and exalted position,
in the centre of domestic life, often gave to women an opportunity of
displaying dignity, courage, virtue, and intelligence, which would
otherwise have remained hidden, and, no doubt, contributed greatly to
their moral development, and to the general improvement of their

[Illustration: Fig. 47.--Woman under the Safeguard of Knighthood,
allegorical Scene.--Costume of the End of the Fifteenth Century, from a
Miniature in a Latin Psalm Book (Manuscript No. 175, National Library of

"The importance of children, and particularly of the eldest son, was
greater in feudal houses than elsewhere.... The eldest son of the noble
was, in the eyes of his father and of all his followers, a prince and
heir-presumptive, and the hope and glory of the dynasty. These feelings,
and the domestic pride and affection of the various members one to
another, united to give families much energy and power..... Add to this
the influence of Christian ideas, and it will be understood how this
lonely, dull, and hard castle life was, nevertheless, favourable to the
development of domestic society, and to that improvement in the condition
of women which plays such a great part in the history of our

[Illustration: Fig. 48.--Court of Love in Provence in the Fourteenth
Century (Manuscript of the National Library of Paris).]

Whatever opinion may be formed of chivalry, it is impossible to deny the
influence which this institution exercised on private life in the Middle
Ages. It considerably modified custom, by bringing the stronger sex to
respect and defend the weaker. These warriors, who were both simple and
externally rough and coarse, required association and intercourse with
women to soften them (Fig. 47). In taking women and helpless widows under
their protection, they were necessarily more and more thrown in contact
with them. A deep feeling of veneration for woman, inspired by
Christianity, and, above all, by the worship of the Virgin Mary, ran
throughout the songs of the troubadours, and produced a sort of
sentimental reverence for the gentle sex, which culminated in the
authority which women had in the courts of love (Fig. 48).

We have now reached the reign of Philip Augustus, that is to say, the end
of the twelfth century. This epoch is remarkable, not only for its
political history, but also for its effect on civilisation. Christianity
had then considerably influenced the world; arts, sciences, and letters,
animated by its influence, again began to appear, and to add charms to the
leisure of private life. The castles were naturally the first to be
affected by this poetical and intellectual regeneration, although it has
been too much the custom to exaggerate the ignorance of those who
inhabited them. We are too apt to consider the warriors of the Middle Ages
as totally devoid of knowledge, and as hardly able to sign their names, as
far as the kings and princes are concerned. This is quite an error; for
many of the knights composed poems which exhibit evidence of their high
literary culture.

It was, in fact, the epoch of troubadours, who might be called
professional poets and actors, who went from country to country, and from
castle to castle, relating stories of good King Artus of Brittany and of
the Knights of the Round Table; repeating historical poems of the great
Emperor Charlemagne and his followers. These minstrels were always
accompanied by jugglers and instrumentalists, who formed a travelling
troop (Fig. 49), having no other mission than to amuse and instruct their
feudal hosts. After singing a few fragments of epics, or after the lively
recital of some ancient fable, the jugglers would display their art or
skill in gymnastic feats or conjuring, which were the more appreciated by
the spectators, in that the latter were more or less able to compete with
them. These wandering troops acted small comedies, taken from incidents of
the times. Sometimes, too, the instrumentalists formed an orchestra, and
dancing commenced. It may be here remarked that dancing at this epoch
consisted of a number of persons forming large circles, and turning to the
time of the music or the rhythm of the song. At least the dances of the
nobles are thus represented in the MSS. of the Middle Ages. To these
amusements were added games of calculation and chance, the fashion for
which had much increased, and particularly such games as backgammon,
draughts, and chess, to which certain knights devoted all their leisure.

From the reign of Philip Augustus, a remarkable change seems to have taken
place in the private life of kings, princes, and nobles. Although his
domains and revenues had always been on the increase, this monarch never
displayed, in ordinary circumstances at least, much magnificence. The
accounts of his private expenses for the years 1202 and 1203 have been
preserved, which enable us to discover some curious details bearing
witness to the extreme simplicity of the court at that period. The
household of the King or royal family was still very small: one
chancellor, one chaplain, a squire, a butler, a few Knights of the Temple,
and some sergeants-at-arms were the only officers of the palace. The king
and princes of his household only changed apparel three times during the

[Illustration: Fig. 49.--King David playing on the Lyre, surrounded by
four Musicians.--Costumes of the Thirteenth Century (from a Miniature in a
Manuscript Psalter in the Imperial Library, Paris).]

The children of the King slept in sheets of serge, and their nurses were
dressed in gowns of dark-coloured woollen stuff, called _brunette_. The
royal cloak, which was of scarlet, was jewelled, but the King only wore it
on great ceremonies. At the same time enormous expenses were incurred for
implements of war, arrows, helmets with visors, chariots, and for the
men-at-arms whom the King kept in his pay.

Louis IX. personally kept up almost similar habits. The Sire de Joinville
tells us in his "Chronicles," that the holy King on his return from his
first crusade, in order to repair the damage done to his treasury by the
failure of this expedition, would no longer wear costly furs nor robes of
scarlet, and contented himself with common stuffs trimmed with hare-skin.
He nevertheless did not diminish the officers of his household, which had
already become numerous; and being no doubt convinced that royalty
required magnificence, he surrounded himself with as much pomp as the
times permitted.

Under the two Philips, his successors, this magnificence increased, and
descended to the great vassals, who were soon imitated by the knights
"bannerets." There seemed to be a danger of luxury becoming so great, and
so general in all classes of feudal society, that in 1294 an order of the
King was issued, regulating in the minutest details the expenses of each
person according to his rank in the State, or the fortune which he could
prove. But this law had the fate of all such enactments, and was either
easily evaded, or was only partially enforced, and that with great
difficulty. Another futile attempt to put it in practice was made in 1306,
when the splendour of dress, of equipages, and of table had become still
greater and more ruinous, and had descended progressively to the bourgeois
and merchants.

It must be stated in praise of Philip le Bel (Fig. 50) that,
notwithstanding the failure of his attempts to arrest the progress of
luxury, he was not satisfied with making laws against the extravagances of
his subjects, for we find that he studied a strict economy in his own
household, which recalled the austere times of Philip Augustus. Thus, in
the curious regulations relating to the domestic arrangements of the
palace, the Queen, Jeanne de Navarre, was only allowed two ladies and
three maids of honour in her suite, and she is said to have had only two
four-horse carriages, one for herself and the other for these ladies. In
another place these regulations require that a butler, specially
appointed, "should buy all the cloth and furs for the king, take charge of
the key of the cupboards where these are kept, know the quantity given to
the tailors to make clothes, and check the accounts when the tailors send
in their claims for the price of their work."

[Illustration: Fig. 50.--King Philip le Bel in War-dress, on the Occasion
of his entering Paris in 1304, after having conquered the Communes of
Flanders.--Equestrian Statue placed in Notre Dame, Paris, and destroyed in
1772.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut from Thevet's "Cosmographie Universelle,"

After the death of the pious Jeanne de Navarre, to whom perhaps we must
attribute the wise measures of her husband, Philip le Bel, the expenses of
the royal household materially increased, especially on the occasions of
the marriages of the three young sons of the King, from 1305 to 1307.
Gold, diamonds, pearls, and precious stones were employed profusely, both
for the King's garments and for those of the members of the royal family.
The accounts of 1307 mention considerable sums paid for carpets,
counterpanes, robes, worked linen, &c. A chariot of state, ornamented and
covered with paintings, and gilded like the back of an altar, is also
mentioned, and must have been a great change to the heavy vehicles used
for travelling in those days.

Down to the reign of St. Louis the furniture of castles had preserved a
character of primitive simplicity which did not, however, lack grandeur.
The stone remained uncovered in most of the halls, or else it was whitened
with mortar and ornamented with moulded roses and leaves, coloured in
distemper. Against the wall, and also against the pillars supporting the
arches, arms and armour of all sorts were hung, arranged in suits, and
interspersed with banners and pennants or emblazoned standards. In the
great middle hall, or dining-room, there was a long massive oak table,
with benches and stools of the same wood. At the end of this table, there
was a large arm-chair, overhung with a canopy of golden or silken stuff,
which was occupied by the owner of the castle, and only relinquished by
him in favour of his superior or sovereign. Often the walls of the hall of
state were hung with tapestry, representing groves with cattle, heroes of
ancient history, or events in the romance of chivalry. The floor was
generally paved with hard stone, or covered with enamelled tiles. It was
carefully strewn with scented herbs in summer, and straw in winter. Philip
Augustus ordered that the Hôtel Dieu of Paris should receive the herbs and
straw which was daily removed from the floors of his palace. It was only
very much later that this troublesome system was replaced by mats and

The bedrooms were generally at the top of the towers, and had little else
by way of furniture, besides a very large bed, with or without curtains, a
box in which clothes were kept, and which also served as a seat, and a
_priedieu_ chair, which sometimes contained prayer and other books of
devotion. These lofty rooms, whose thick walls kept out the heat in
summer, and the cold in winter, were only lighted by a small window or
loophole, closed with a square of oiled paper or of thin horn.

A great change took place in the abodes of the nobility in the fourteenth
and fifteenth centuries (Fig. 51). We find, for instance, in Sauval's
"History and Researches of the Antiquities of the City of Paris," that the
abodes of the kings of the first dynasty had been transformed into
Palaces of Justice by Philip le Bel; the same author also gives us a vivid
description of the Château du Louvre, and the Hôtel St. Paul, which the
kings inhabited when their court was in the capital. But even without
examining into all the royal abodes, it will suffice to give an account of
the Hôtel de Bohême, which, after having been the home of the Sires de
Nesles, of Queen Blanche of Castille, and other great persons, was given
by Charles VI., in 1388, to his brother, the famous Duke Louis of Orleans.

[Illustration: Fig. 51.--The Knight and his Lady.--Costumes of the Court
of Burgundy in the Fourteenth Century; Furnished Chamber.--Miniature in
"Othea," Poem by Christine de Pisan (Brussels Library).]

"I shall not attempt," says Sauval, "to speak of the cellars and
wine-cellars, the bakehouses, the fruiteries, the salt-stores, the
fur-rooms, the porters' lodges, the stores, the guard-rooms, the
wood-yard, or the glass-stores; nor of the servants; nor of the place
where _hypocras_ was made; neither shall I describe the tapestry-room, the
linen-room, nor the laundry; nor, indeed, any of the various conveniences
which were then to be found in the yards of that palace as well as in the
other abodes of the princes and nobles.

"I shall simply remark, that amongst the many suites of rooms which
composed it, two occupied the two first stories of the main building; the
first was raised some few steps above the ground-floor of the court, and
was occupied by Valentine de Milan; and her husband, Louis of Orleans,
generally occupied the second. Each of these suites of rooms consisted of
a great hall, a chamber of state, a large chamber, a wardrobe, some
closets, and a chapel. The windows of the halls were thirteen and a half
feet[A] high by four and a half wide. The state chambers were eight
'toises,' that is, about fifty feet and a half long. The duke and
duchess's chambers were six 'toises' by three, that is, about thirty-six
feet by eighteen; the others were seven toises and a half square, all
lighted by long and narrow windows of wirework with trellis-work of iron;
the wainscots and the ceilings were made of Irish wood, the same as at the

[Footnote A: French feet.]

In this palace there was a room used by the duke, hung with cloth of gold,
bordered with vermilion velvet embroidered with roses; the duchess had a
room hung with vermilion satin embroidered with crossbows, which were on
her coat of arms; that of the Duke of Burgundy was hung with cloth of gold
embroidered with windmills. There were, besides, eight carpets of glossy
texture, with gold flowers; one representing "The Seven Virtues and the
Seven Vices;" another the history of Charlemagne; another that of St.
Louis. There were also cushions of cloth of gold, twenty-four pieces of
vermilion leather of Aragon, and four carpets of Aragon leather, "to be
placed on the floor of rooms in summer." The favourite arm-chair of the
princess is thus described in an inventory:--"A chamber chair with four
supports, painted in fine vermilion, the seat and arms of which are
covered with vermilion morocco, or cordovan, worked and stamped with
designs representing the sun, birds, and other devices, bordered with
fringes of silk and studded with nails."

Among the ornamental furniture were--"A large vase of massive silver, for
holding sugar-plums or sweetmeats, shaped like a square table, supported
by four satyrs, also of silver; a fine wooden casket, covered with
vermilion cordovan, nailed, and bordered with a narrow gilt band, shutting
with a key."

[Illustration: Fig. 52.--Bronze Chandeliers of the Fourteenth Century
(Collection of M. Ach. Jubinal).]

In the daily life of Louis of Orleans and his wife, everything
corresponded with the luxury of their house. Thus, for the amusement of
their children, two little books of pictures were made, illuminated with
gold, azure, and vermilion, and covered with vermilion leather of Cordova,
which cost sixty _sols parisis, i.e. four hundred francs. But it was in
the custom of New Year's gifts that the duke and duchess displayed truly
royal magnificence, as we find described in the accounts of their
expenses. For instance, in 1388 they paid four hundred francs of gold for
sheets of silk to give to those who received the New Year's gifts from the
King and Queen. In 1402, one hundred pounds (tournois) were given to Jehan
Taienne, goldsmith, for six silver cups presented to Jacques de Poschin,
the Duke's squire. To the Sire de la Trémouille Valentine gives "a cup and
basin of gold;" to Queen Isabella, "a golden image of St. John,
surrounded with nine rubies, one sapphire, and twenty-one pearls;" to
Mademoiselle de Luxembourg, "another small golden sacred image, surrounded
with pearls;" and lastly, in an account of 1394, headed, "Portion of gold
and silver jewels bought by Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans as a New Year's
gift," we find "a clasp of gold, studded with one large ruby and six large
pearls, given to the King; three paternosters for the King's daughters,
and two large diamonds for the Dukes of Burgundy and Berry."

[Illustration: Fig. 53.--Styli used in writing in the Fourteenth Century.]

Such were the habits in private life of the royal princes under Charles
VI.; and it can easily be shown that the example of royalty was followed
not only by the court, but also in the remotest provinces. The great
tenants or vassals of the crown each possessed several splendid mansions
in their fiefs; the Dukes of Burgundy, at Souvigny, at Moulins, and at
Bourbon l'Archambault; the Counts of Champagne, at Troyes; the Dukes of
Burgundy, at Dijon; and all the smaller nobles made a point of imitating
their superiors. From the fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries, the
provinces which now compose France were studded with castles, which were
as remarkable for their interior, architecture as for the richness of
their furniture; and it may be asserted that the luxury which was
displayed in the dwellings of the nobility was the evidence, if not the
resuit, of a great social revolution in the manners and customs of private

At the end of the fourteenth century there lived a much-respected noble of
Anjou, named Geoffroy de Latour-Landry, who had three daughters. In his
old age, he resolved that, considering the dangers which might surround
them in consequence of their inexperience and beauty, he would compose for
their use a code of admonitions which might guide them in the various
circumstances of life.

[Illustration: A Young Mother's Retinue

Representing the Parisian costumes at the end of the fourteenth century.
Fac-simile of a miniature from the latin _Terence_ of King Charles VI.
From a manuscript in the Bibl. de l'Arsenal.]

This book of domestic maxims is most curious and instructive, from the
details which it contains respecting the manners and customs, mode of
conduct, and fashions of the nobility of the period (Fig. 54). The author
mostly illustrates each of his precepts by examples from the life of
contemporary personages.

[Illustration: Fig. 54.--Dress of Noble Ladies and Children in the
Fourteenth Century.--Miniature in the "Merveilles du Monde" (Manuscript,
National Library of Paris).]

The first advice the knight gives his daughters is, to begin the day with
prayer; and, in order to give greater weight to his counsel, he relates
the following anecdote: "A noble had two daughters; the one was pious,
always saying her prayers with devotion, and regularly attending the
services of the church; she married an honest man, and was most happy. The
other, on the contrary, was satisfied with hearing low mass, and hurrying
once or twice through the Lord's Prayer, after which she went off to
indulge herself with sweetmeats. She complained of headaches, and required
careful diet. She married a most excellent knight; but, one evening,
taking advantage of her husband being asleep, she shut herself up in one
of the rooms of the palace, and in company with the people of the
household began eating and drinking in the most riotous and excessive
manner. The knight awoke; and, surprised not to find his wife by his side,
got up, and, armed with a stick, betook himself to the scene of festivity.
He struck one of the domestics with such force that he broke his stick in
pieces, and one of the fragments flew into the lady's eye and put it out.
This caused her husband to take a dislike to her, and he soon placed his
affections elsewhere."

"My pretty daughters," the moralising parent proceeds, "be courteous and
meek, for nothing is more beautiful, nothing so secures the favour of God
and the love of others. Be then courteous to great and small; speak gently
with them.... I have seen a great lady take off her cap and bow to a
simple ironmonger. One of her followers seemed astonished. 'I prefer,' she
said, 'to have been too courteous towards that man, than to have been
guilty of the least incivility to a knight.'"

[Illustration: Fig. 55.--Noble Lady and Maid of Honour, and two Burgesses
with Hoods (Fourteenth Century), from a Miniature in the "Merveilles du
Monde" (Manuscript in the Imperial Library of Paris).]

Latour-Landry also advised his daughters to avoid outrageous fashions in
dress. "Do not be hasty in copying the dress of foreign women. I will
relate a story on this subject respecting a bourgeoise of Guyenne and the
Sire de Beaumanoir. The lady said to him, 'Cousin, I come from Brittany,
where I saw my fine cousin, your wife, who was not so well dressed as the
ladies of Guyenne and many other places. The borders of her dress and of
her bonnet are not in fashion.' The Sire answered, 'Since you find fault
with the dress and cap of my wife, and as they do not suit you, I shall
take care in future that they are changed; but I shall be careful not to
choose them similar to yours.... Understand, madam, that I wish her to be
dressed according to the fashion of the good ladies of France and this
country, and not like those of England. It was these last who first
introduced into Brittany the large borders, the bodices opened on the
hips, and the hanging sleeves. I remember the time, and saw it myself, and
I have little respect for women who adopt these fashions.'"

Respecting the high head-dresses "which cause women to resemble stags who
are obliged to lower their heads to enter a wood," the knight relates what
took place in 1392 at the fête of St. Marguerite. "There was a young and
pretty woman there, quite differently dressed from the others; every one
stared at her as if she had been a wild beast. One respectable lady
approached her and said, 'My friend, what do you call that fashion?' She
answered, 'It is called the "gibbet dress."' 'Indeed; but that is not a
fine name!' answered the old lady. Very soon the name of 'gibbet dress'
got known all round the room, and every one laughed at the foolish
creature who was thus bedecked." This head-dress did in fact owe its name
to its summit, which resembled a gibbet.

These extracts from the work of this honest knight, suffice to prove that
the customs of French society had, as early as the end of the fourteenth
century, taken a decided character which was to remain subject only to
modifications introduced at various historical periods.

Amongst the customs which contributed most to the softening and elegance
of the feudal class, we must cite that of sending into the service of the
sovereign for some years all the youths of both sexes, under the names of
varlets, pages, squires, and maids of honour. No noble, of whatever wealth
or power, ever thought of depriving his family of this apprenticeship and
its accompanying chivalric education.

Up to the end of the twelfth century, the number of domestic officers
attached to a castle was very limited; we have seen, for instance, that
Philip Augustus contented himself with a few servants, and his queen with
two or three maids of honour. Under Louis IX. this household was much
increased, and under Philippe le Bel and his sons the royal household had
become so considerable as to constitute quite a large assemblage of young
men and women. Under Charles VI., the household of Queen Isabella of
Bavaria alone amounted to forty-five persons, without counting the
almoner, the chaplains, and clerks of the chapel, who must have been very
numerous, since the sums paid to them amounted to the large amount of four
hundred and sixty francs of gold per annum.

[Illustration: Fig. 56.--Court of the Ladies of Queen Anne of Brittany,
Miniature representing this lady weeping on account of the absence of her
husband during the Italian war.--Manuscript of the "Epistres Envoyées au
Roi" (Sixteenth Century), obtained by the Coislin Fund for the Library of
St. Germain des Pres in Paris, now in the Library of St. Petersburg.]

Under Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., the service of the young
nobility, which was called "apprenticeship of honour or virtue," had
taken a much wider range; for the first families of the French nobility
were most eager to get their children admitted into the royal household,
either to attend on the King or Queen, or at any rate on one of the
princes of the royal blood. Anne of Brittany particularly gave special
attention to her female attendants (Fig. 56). "She was the first," says
Brantôme in his work on "Illustrious Women," "who began to form the great
court of ladies which has descended to our days; for she had a
considerable retinue both of adult ladies and young girls. She never
refused to receive any one; on the contrary, she inquired of the gentlemen
of the court if they had any daughters, ascertained who they were, and
asked for them." It was thus that the Admiral de Graville (Fig. 57)
confided to the good Queen the education of his daughter Anne, who at this
school of the Court of Ladies became one of the most distinguished women
of her day. The same Queen, as Duchess of Brittany, created a company of
one hundred Breton gentlemen, who accompanied her everywhere. "They never
failed," says the author of "Illustrious Women," "when she went to mass or
took a walk, to await her return on the little terrace of Blois, which is
still called the _Perche aux Bretons_. She gave it this name herself; for
when she saw them she said, 'There are my Bretons on the perch waiting for

We must not forget that this queen, who became successively the wife of
Charles VIII. and of Louis XII., had taken care to establish a strict
discipline amongst the young men and women who composed her court. She
rightly considered herself the guardian of the honour of the former, and
of the virtue of the latter; therefore, as long as she lived, her court
was renowned for purity and politeness, noble and refined gallantry, and
was never allowed to degenerate into imprudent amusements or licentious
and culpable intrigues.

Unfortunately, the moral influence of this worthy princess died with her.
Although the court of France continued to gather around it almost every
sort of elegance, and although it continued during the whole of the
sixteenth century the most polished of European courts, notwithstanding
the great external and civil wars, yet it afforded at the same time a sad
example of laxity of morals, which had a most baneful influence on public
habits; so much so that vice and corruption descended from class to class,
and contaminated all orders of society. If we wished to make
investigations into the private life of the lower orders in those times,
we should not succeed as we have been able to do with that of the upper
classes; for we have scarcely any data to throw light upon their sad and
obscure history. Bourgeois and peasants were, as we have already shown,
long included together with the miserable class of serfs, a herd of human
beings without individuality, without significance, who from their birth
to their death, whether isolated or collectively, were the "property" of
their masters. What must have been the private life of this degraded
multitude, bowed down under the most tyrannical and humiliating
dependence, we can scarcely imagine; it was in fact but a purely material
existence, which has left scarcely any trace in history.

[Illustration: Fig. 57.--Louis de Mallet, Lord of Graville, Admiral of
France, 1487, in Costume of War and Tournament, from an Engraving of the
Sixteenth Century (National Library of Paris, Cabinet des Estampes).]

Many centuries elapsed before the dawn of liberty could penetrate the
social strata of this multitude, thus oppressed and denuded of all power
of action. The development was slow, painful, and dearly bought, but at
last it took place; first of all towns sprang up, and with them, or rather
by their influence, the inhabitants became possessed of social life. The
agricultural population took its social position many generations later.

As we have already seen, the great movement for the creation of communes
and bourgeoisies only dates from the unsettled period ranging from the
eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, and simultaneously we see the
bourgeois appear, already rich and luxurious, parading on all occasions
their personal opulence. Their private life could only be an imitation of
that in the châteaux; by degrees as wealth strengthened and improved their
condition, and rendered them independent, we find them trying to procure
luxuries equal or analogous to those enjoyed by the upper classes, and
which appeared to them the height of material happiness. In all times the
small have imitated the great. It was in vain that the great obstinately
threatened, by the exercise of their prerogatives, to try and crush this
tendency to equality which alarmed them, by issuing pecuniary edicts,
summary laws, coercive regulations, and penal ordinances; by the force of
circumstances the arbitrary restrictions which the nobility laid upon the
lower classes gradually disappeared, and the power of wealth displayed
itself in spite of all their efforts to suppress it. In fact, occasions
were not wanting in which the bourgeois class was able to refute the
charge of unworthiness with which the nobles sought to stamp it. When
taking a place in the council of the King, or employed in the
administration of the provinces, many of its members distinguished
themselves by firmness and wisdom; when called upon to assist in the
national defence, they gave their blood and their gold with noble
self-denial; and lastly, they did not fail to prove themselves possessed
of those high and delicate sentiments of which the nobility alone claimed
the hereditary possession.

[Illustration: Fig. 58.--Burgess of Ghent and his Wife, in ceremonial
Attire, kneeling in Church, from a painted Window belonging to a Chapel in
that Town (Fifteenth Century).]

"The bourgeois," says Arnaud de Marveil, one of the most famous
troubadours of the thirteenth century, "have divers sorts of merits: some
distinguish themselves by deeds of honour, others are by nature noble and
behave accordingly. There are others thoroughly brave, courteous, frank,
and jovial, who, although poor, find means to please by graceful speech,
frequenting courts, and making themselves agreeable there; these, well
versed in courtesy and politeness, appear in noble attire, and figure
conspicuously at the tournaments and military games, proving themselves
good judges and good company."

Down to the thirteenth century, however rich their fathers or husbands
might be, the women of the bourgeoisie were not permitted, without
incurring a fine, to use the ornaments and stuffs exclusively reserved for
the nobility. During the reigns of Philip Augustus and Louis IX., although
these arbitrary laws were not positively abolished, a heavy blow was
inflicted on them by the marks of confidence, esteem, and honour which
these monarchs found pleasure in bestowing on the bourgeoisie. We find the
first of these kings, when on the point of starting for a crusade,
choosing six from amongst the principal members of the _parloir aux
bourgeois_ (it was thus that the first Hôtel de Ville, situated in the
corner of the Place de la Grève, was named) to be attached to the Council
of Regency, to whom he specially confided his will and the royal treasure.
His grandson made a point of following his grandsire's example, and Louis
IX. showed the same appreciation for the new element which the Parisian
bourgeoisie was about to establish in political life by making the
bourgeois Etienne Boileau one of his principal ministers of police, and
the bourgeois Jean Sarrazin his chamberlain.

Under these circumstances, the whole bourgeoisie gloried in the marks of
distinction conferred upon their representatives, and during the following
reign, the ladies of this class, proud of their immense fortunes, but
above all proud of the municipal powers held by their families, bedecked
themselves, regardless of expense, with costly furs and rich stuffs,
notwithstanding that they were forbidden by law to do so.

Then came an outcry on the part of the nobles; and we read as follows, in
an edict of Philippe le Bel, who inclined less to the bourgeoisie than to
the nobles, and who did not spare the former in matters of taxation:--"No
bourgeois shall have a chariot nor wear gold, precious stones, or crowns
of gold or silver. Bourgeois, not being either prelates nor dignitaries of
state, shall not have tapers of wax. A bourgeois possessing two thousand
pounds (tournois) or more, may order for himself a dress of twelve sous
six deniers, and for his wife one worth sixteen sous at the most." The
sou, which was but nominal money, may be reckoned as representing twenty
francs, and the denier one franc, but allowance must be made for the
enormous difference in the value of silver, which would make twenty francs
in the thirteenth century represent upwards of two hundred francs of
present currency.

[Illustration: Fig. 59.--The new-born Child, from a Miniature in the
"Histoire de la Belle Hélaine" (Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century,
National Library of Paris).]

But these regulations as to the mode of living were so little or so
carelessly observed, that all the successors of Philippe le Bel thought it
necessary to re-enact them, and, indeed, Charles VII., one century later,
was obliged to censure the excess of luxury in dress by an edict which
was, however, no better enforced than the rest. "It has been shown to the
said lord" (the King Charles VII.), "that of all nations of the habitable
globe there are none so changeable, outrageous, and excessive in their
manner of dress, as the French nation, and there is no possibility of
discovering by their dress the state or calling of persons, be they
princes, nobles, bourgeois, or working men, because all are allowed to
dress as they think proper, whether in gold or silver, silk or wool,
without any regard to their calling."

At the end of the thirteenth century, a rich merchant of Valenciennes went
to the court of the King of France wearing a cloak of furs covered with
gold and pearls; seeing that no one offered him a cushion, he proudly sat
on his cloak. On leaving he did not attempt to take up the cloak; and on a
servant calling his attention to the fact he remarked, "It is not the
custom in my country for people to carry away their cushions with them."

Respecting a journey made by Philippe le Bel and his wife Jeanne de
Navarre to the towns of Bruges and Ghent, the historian Jean Mayer relates
that Jeanne, on seeing the costly array of the bourgeois of those two rich
cities, exclaimed, "I thought I was the only queen here, but I see more
than six hundred!"

In spite of the laws, the Parisian bourgeoisie soon rivalled the Flemish
in the brilliancy of their dress. Thus, in the second half of the
fourteenth century, the famous Christine de Pisan relates that, having
gone to visit the wife of a merchant during her confinement, it was not
without some amazement that she saw the sumptuous furniture of the
apartment in which this woman lay in bed (Fig. 59). The walls were hung
with precious tapestry of Cyprus, on which the initials and motto of the
lady were embroidered; the sheets were of fine linen of Rheims, and had
cost more than three hundred pounds; the quilt was a new invention of silk
and silver tissue; the carpet was like gold. The lady wore an elegant
dress of crimson silk, and rested her head and arms on pillows, ornamented
with buttons of oriental pearls. It should be remarked that this lady was
not the wife of a large merchant, such as those of Venice and Genoa, but
of a simple retail dealer, who was not above selling articles for four
sous; such being the case, we need not be surprised that Christine should
have considered the anecdote "worthy of being immortalised in a book."

It must not, however, be assumed that the sole aim of the bourgeoisie was
that of making a haughty and pompous display. This is refuted by the
testimony of the "Ménagier de Paris," a curious anonymous work, the author
of which must have been an educated and enlightened bourgeois.

The "Ménagier," which was first published by the Baron Jérôme Pichon, is a
collection of counsels addressed by a husband to his young wife, as to her
conduct in society, in the world, and in the management of her household.
The first part is devoted to developing the mind of the young housewife;
and the second relates to the arrangements necessary for the welfare of
her house. It must be remembered that the comparatively trifling duties
relating to the comforts of private life, which devolved on the wife, were
not so numerous in those days as they are now; but on the other hand they
required an amount of practical knowledge on the part of the housewife
which she can nowadays dispense with. Under this head the "Ménagier" is
full of information.

After having spoken of the prayers which a Christian woman should say
morning and evening, the author discusses the great question of dress,
which has ever been of supreme importance in the eyes of the female sex:
"Know, dear sister," (the friendly name he gives his young wife), "that in
the choice of your apparel you must always consider the rank of your
parents and mine, as also the state of my fortune. Be respectably dressed,
without devoting too much study to it, without too much plunging into new
fashions. Before leaving your room, see that the collar of your gown be
well adjusted and is not put on crooked."

[Illustration: Fig. 60.--Sculptured Comb, in Ivory, of the Sixteenth
Century (Sauvageot Collection)]

Then he dilates on the characters of women, which are too often wilful and
unmanageable; on this point, for he is not less profuse in examples than
the Chevalier de Latour-Landry, he relates an amusing anecdote, worthy of
being repeated and remembered.

"I have heard the bailiff of Tournay relate, that he had found himself
several times at table with men long married, and that he had wagered with
them the price of a dinner under the following conditions: the company
was to visit the abode of each of the husbands successively, and any one
who had a wife obedient enough immediately, without contradicting or
making any remark, to consent to count up to four, would win the bet; but,
on the other hand, those whose wives showed temper, laughed, or refused to
obey, would lose. Under these conditions the company gaily adjourned to
the abode of Robin, whose wife, called Marie, had a high opinion of
herself. The husband said before all, 'Marie, repeat after me what I shall
say.' 'Willingly, sire.' 'Marie, say, "One, two, three!"' But by this time
Marie was out of patience, and said, 'And seven, and twelve, and fourteen!
Why, you are making a fool of me!' So that husband lost his wager.

"The company next went to the house of Maître Jean, whose wife, Agnescat
well knew how to play the lady. Jean said, 'Repeat after me, one!' 'And
two!' answered Agnescat disdainfully; so he lost his wager. Tassin then
tried, and said to dame Tassin, 'Count one!' 'Go upstairs!' she answered,
'if you want to teach counting, I am not a child.' Another said, 'Go away
with you; you must have lost your senses,' or similar words, which made
the husbands lose their wagers. Those, on the contrary, who had
well-behaved wives gained their wager and went away joyful."

This amusing quotation suffices to show that the author of the "Ménagier
de Paris" wished to adopt a jocose style, with a view to enliven the
seriousness of the subject he was advocating.

The part of his work in which he discusses the administration of the house
is not less worthy of attention. One of the most curious chapters of the
work is that in which he points out the manner in which the young
bourgeoise is to behave towards persons in her service. Rich people in
those days, in whatever station of life, were obliged to keep a numerous
retinue of servants. It is curious to find that so far back as the period
to which we allude, there was in Paris a kind of servants' registry
office, where situations were found for servant-maids from the country.
The bourgeois gave up the entire management of the servants to his wife;
but, on account of her extreme youth, the author of the work in question
recommends his wife only to engage servants who shall have been chosen by
Dame Agnes, the nun whom he had placed with her as a kind of governess or

"Before engaging them," he says, "know whence they come; in what houses
they have been; if they have acquaintances in town, and if they are
steady. Discover what they are capable of doing; and ascertain that they
are not greedy, or inclined to drink. If they come from another country,
try to find out why they left it; for, generally, it is not without some
serious reason that a woman decides upon a change of abode. When you have
engaged a maid, do not permit her to take the slightest liberty with you,
nor allow her to speak disrespectfully to you. If, on the contrary, she be
quiet in her demeanour, honest, modest, and shows herself amenable to
reproof, treat her as if she were your daughter.

"Superintend the work to be done; and choose among your servants those
qualified for each special department. If you order a thing to be done
immediately, do not be satisfied with the following answers: 'It shall be
done presently, or to-morrow early;' otherwise, be sure that you will have
to repeat your orders."

[Illustration: Fig. 61.--Dress of Maidservants in the Thirteenth
Century.--Miniature in a Manuscript of the National Library of Paris.]

To these severe instructions upon the management of servants, the
bourgeois adds a few words respecting their morality. He recommends that
they be not permitted to use coarse or indecent language, or to insult one
another (Fig. 61). Although he is of opinion that necessary time should be
given to servants at their meals, he does not approve of their remaining
drinking and talking too long at table: concerning which practice he
quotes a proverb in use at that time: "Quand varlet presche à table et
cheval paist en gué, il est temps qu'on l'en oste: assez y a esté;" which
means, that when a servant talks at table and a horse feeds near a
watering-place it is time he should be removed; he has been there long

[Illustration: Fig. 62.--Hôtel des Ursins, Paris, built during the
Fourteenth Century, restored in the Sixteenth, and now destroyed.--State
of the North Front at the End of the last Century.]

The manner in which the author concludes his instruction proves his
kindness of heart, as well as his benevolence: "If one of your servants
fall sick, it is your duty, setting everything else aside, to see to his
being cured."

It was thus that a bourgeois of the fifteenth century expressed himself;
and as it is clear that he could only have been inspired to dictate his
theoretical teachings by the practical experience which he must have
gained for the most part among the middle class to which he belonged, we
must conclude that in those days the bourgeoisie possessed considerable
knowledge of moral dignity and social propriety.

It must be added that by the side of the merchant and working
bourgeoisie--who, above all, owed their greatness to the high functions of
the municipality--the parliamentary bourgeoisie had raised itself to
power, and that from the fourteenth century it played a considerable part
in the State, holding at several royal courts at different periods, and at
last, almost hereditarily, the highest magisterial positions. The very
character of these great offices of president, or of parliamentary
counsel, barristers, &c., proves that the holders must have had no small
amount of intellectual culture. In this way a refined taste was created
among this class, which the protection of kings, princes, and lords had
alone hitherto encouraged. We find, for example, the Grosliers at Lyons,
the De Thous and Seguiers in Paris, regardless of their bourgeois origin,
becoming judicious and zealous patrons of poets, scholars, and artists.

A description of Paris, published in the middle of the fifteenth century,
describes amongst the most splendid residences of the capital the hotels
of Juvénal des Ursins (Fig. 62), of Bureau de Dampmartin, of Guillaume
Seguin, of Mille Baillet, of Martin Double, and particularly that of
Jacques Duchié, situated in the Rue des Prouvaires, in which were
collected at great cost collections of all kinds of arms, musical
instruments, rare birds, tapestry, and works of art. In each church in
Paris, and there were upwards of a hundred, the principal chapels were
founded by celebrated families of the ancient bourgeoisie, who had left
money for one or more masses to be said daily for the repose of the soûls
of their deceased members. In the burial-grounds, and principally in that
of the Innocents, the monuments of these families of Parisian bourgeoisie
were of the most expensive character, and were inscribed with epitaphs in
which the living vainly tried to immortalise the deeds of the deceased.
Every one has heard of the celebrated tomb of Nicholas Flamel and Pernelle
his wife (Fig. 63), the cross of Bureau, the epitaph of Yolande Bailly,
who died in 1514, at the age of eighty-eight, and who "saw, or might have
seen, two hundred and ninety-five children descended from her."

In fact, the religious institutions of Paris afford much curious and
interesting information relative to the history of the bourgeoisie. For
instance, Jean Alais, who levied a tax of one denier on each basket of
fish brought to market, and thereby amassed an enormous fortune, left the
whole of it at his death for the purpose of erecting a chapel called St.
Agnes, which soon after became the church of St. Eustace. He further
directed that, by way of expiation, his body should be thrown into the
sewer which drained the offal from the market, and covered with a large
stone; this sewer up to the end of the last century was still called Pont

[Illustration: Fig. 63.--Nicholas Flamel and Pernelle, his Wife, from a
Painting executed at the End of the Fifteenth Century, under the Vaults of
the Cemetery of the Innocents, in Paris.]

Very often when citizens made gifts during their lifetime to churches or
parishes, the donors reserved to themselves certain privileges which were
calculated to cause the motives which had actuated them to be open to
criticism. Thus, in 1304, the daughters of Nicholas Arrode, formerly
provost of the merchants, presented to the church of St.
Jacques-la-Boucherie the house and grounds which they inhabited, but one
of them reserved the right of having a key of the church that she might
go in whenever she pleased. Guillaume Haussecuel, in 1405, bought a
similar right for the sum of eighteen _sols parisis_ per annum (equal to
twenty-five francs); and Alain and his wife, whose house was close to two
chapels of the church, undertook not to build so as in any way to shut out
the light from one of the chapels on condition that they might open a
small window into the chapel, and so be enabled to hear the service
without leaving their room.

[Illustration: Fig. 64.--Country Life--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in a folio
Edition of Virgil, published at Lyons in 1517.]

We thus see that the bourgeoisie, especially of Paris, gradually took a
more prominent position in history, and became so grasping after power
that it ventured, at a period which does not concern us here, to aspire to
every sort of distinction, and to secure an important social standing.
What had been the exception during the sixteenth century became the rule
two centuries later.

We will now take a glance at the agricultural population (Fig. 64), who,
as we have already stated, were only emancipated from serfdom at the end
of the eighteenth century.

But whatever might have been formerly the civil condition of the rural
population, everything leads us to suppose that there were no special
changes in their private and domestic means of existence from a
comparatively remote period down to almost the present time.

A small poem of the thirteenth century, entitled, "De l'Oustillement au
Vilain," gives a clear though rough sketch of the domestic state of the
peasantry. Strange as it may seem, it must be acknowledged that, with a
few exceptions resulting from the progress of time, it would not be
difficult, even at the present day, to find the exact type maintained in
the country districts farthest away from the capital and large towns; at
all events, they were faithfully represented at the time of the revolution
of 1789.

[Illustration: Fig. 65.--Sedentary Occupations of the
Peasauts.--Fac-simile from an Engraving on Wood, attributed to Holbein, in
the "Cosmographie" of Munster (Basle, 1552, folio).]

We gather from this poem, which must be considered an authentic and most
interesting document, that the _manse_ or dwelling of the villain
comprised three distinct buildings; the first for the corn, the second for
the hay and straw, the third for the man and his family. In this rustic
abode a fire of vine branches and faggots sparkled in a large chimney
furnished with an iron pot-hanger, a tripod, a shovel, large fire-irons, a
cauldron and a meat-hook. Next to the fireplace was an oven, and in close
proximity to this an enormous bedstead, on which the villain, his wife,
his children, and even the stranger who asked for hospitality, could all
be easily accommodated; a kneading trough, a table, a bench, a cheese
cupboard, a jug, and a few baskets made up the rest of the furniture. The
villain also possessed other utensils, such as a ladder, a mortar, a
hand-mill--for every one then was obliged to grind his own corn; a mallet,
some nails, some gimlets, fishing lines, hooks, and baskets, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 66.--Villains before going to Work receiving their
Lord's Orders.--Miniature in the "Propriétaire des Choses."--Manuscript of
the Fifteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal, in Paris).]

His working implements were a plough, a scythe, a spade, a hoe, large
shears, a knife and a sharpening stone; he had also a waggon, with harness
for several horses, so as to be able to accomplish the different tasks
required of him under feudal rights, either by his proper lord, or by the
sovereign; for the villain was liable to be called upon to undertake
every kind of work of this sort.

His dress consisted of a blouse of cloth or skin fastened by a leather
belt round the waist, an overcoat or mantle of thick woollen stuff, which
fell from his shoulders to half-way down his legs; shoes or large boots,
short woollen trousers, and from his belt there hung his wallet and a
sheath for his knife (Figs. 66 and 71). He generally went bareheaded, but
in cold weather or in rain he wore a sort of hat of similar stuff to his
coat, or one of felt with a broad brim. He seldom wore _mouffles_, or
padded gloves, except when engaged in hedging.

A small kitchen-garden, which he cultivated himself, was usually attached
to the cottage, which was guarded by a large watch-dog. There was also a
shed for the cows, whose milk contributed to the sustenance of the
establishment; and on the thatched roof of this and his cottage the wild
cats hunted the rats and mice. The family were never idle, even in the bad
season, and the children were taught from infancy to work by the side of
their parents (Fig. 65).

If, then, we find so much resemblance between the abodes of the villains
of the thirteenth century and those of the inhabitants of the poorest
communes of France in the present day, we may fairly infer that there must
be a great deal which is analogous between the inhabitants themselves of
the two periods; for in the châteaux as well as in the towns we find the
material condition of the dwellings modifying itself conjointly with that
of the moral condition of the inhabitants.

[Illustration: Fig. 67.--The egotistical and envious Villain.--From a
Miniature in "Proverbes et Adages, &c.," Manuscript of the La Vallière
Fund, in the National Library of Paris, with this legend:

  "Attrapez y sont les plus fins:
  Qui trop embrasse mal estraint."

  ("The cleverest burn their fingers at it,
  And those who grasp all may lose all.")

Another little poem entitled, "On the Twenty-four Kinds of Villains,"
composed about the same period as the one above referred to, gives us a
graphic description of the varieties of character among the feudal
peasants. One example is given of a man who will not tell a traveller the
way, but merely in a surly way answers, "You know it better than I" (Fig.
67). Another, sitting at his door on a Sunday, laughs at those passing by,
and says to himself when he sees a gentleman going hawking with a bird on
his wrist, "Ah! that bird will eat a hen to-day, and our children could
all feast upon it!" Another is described as a sort of madman who equally
despises God, the saints, the Church, and the nobility. His neighbour is
an honest simpleton, who, stopping in admiration before the doorway of
Notre Dame in Paris in order to admire the statues of Pepin, Charlemagne,
and their successors, has his pocket picked of his purse. Another villain
is supposed to make trade of pleading the cause of others before "Messire
le Bailli;" he is very eloquent in trying to show that in the time of
their ancestors the cows had a free right of pasture in such and such a
meadow, or the sheep on such and such a ridge; then there is the miser,
and the speculator, who converts all his possessions into ready money, so
as to purchase grain against a bad season; but of course the harvest turns
out to be excellent, and he does not make a farthing, but runs away to
conceal his ruin and rage. There is also the villain who leaves his plough
to become a poacher. There are many other curious examples which
altogether tend to prove that there has been but little change in the
villager class since the first periods of History.

[Illustration: Fig. 68.--The covetous and avaricious Villain.--From a
Miniature in "Proverbes et Adages, &c," Manuscript in the National Library
of Paris, with this legend:

  "Je suis icy levant les yeulx
  Eu ce haut lieu des attendens,
  En convoitant pour avoir mieulx
  Prendre la lune avec les dens."

  ("Even on this lofty height
  We yet look higher,
  As nothing will satisfy us
  But to clutch the moon.")

Notwithstanding the miseries to which they were generally subject, the
rural population had their days of rest and amusement, which were then
much more numerous than at present. At that period the festivals of the
Church were frequent and rigidly kept, and as each of them was the pretext
for a forced holiday from manual labour, the peasants thought of nothing,
after church, but of amusing themselves; they drank, talked, sang,
danced, and, above all, laughed, for the laugh of our forefathers quite
rivalled the Homeric laugh, and burst forth with a noisy joviality (Fig.

The "wakes," or evening parties, which are still the custom in most of the
French provinces, and which are of very ancient origin, formed important
events in the private lives of the peasants. It was at these that the
strange legends and vulgar superstitions, which so long fed the minds of
the ignorant classes, were mostly created and propagated. It was there
that those extraordinary and terrible fairy tales were related, as well as
those of magicians, witches, spirits, &c. It was there that the matrons,
whose great age justified their experience, insisted on proving, by absurd
tales, that they knew all the marvellous secrets for causing happiness or
for curing sickness. Consequently, in those days the most enlightened
rustic never for a moment doubted the truth of witchcraft.

In fact, one of the first efforts at printing was applied to reproducing
the most ridiculous stories under the title of the "Evangile des Conuilles
ou Quenouilles," and which had been previously circulated in manuscript,
and had obtained implicit belief. The author of this remarkable collection
asserts that the matrons in his neighbourhood had deputed him to put
together in writing the sayings suitable for all conditions of rural life
which were believed in by them and were announced at the wakes. The
absurdities and childish follies which he has dared to register under
their dictation are almost incredible.

The "Evangile des Quenouilles," which was as much believed in as Holy
Writ, tells us, amongst other secrets which it contains for the advantage
of the reader, that a girl wishing to know the Christian name of her
future husband, has but to stretch the first thread she spins in the
morning across the doorway; and that the first man who passes and touches
the thread will necessarily have the same name as the man she is destined
to marry.

Another of the stories in this book was, that if a woman, on leaving off
work on Saturday night, left her distaff loaded, she might be sure that
the thread she would obtain from it during the following week would only
produce linen of bad quality, which could not be bleached; this was
considered to be proved by the fact that the Germans wore dark-brown
coloured shirts, and it was known that the women never unloaded their
distaffs from Saturday to Monday.

Should a woman enter a cow-house to milk her cows without saying "God and
St. Bridget bless you!" she was thought to run the risk of the cows
kicking and breaking the milk-pail and spilling the milk.

[Illustration: Fig. 69.--Village Feast.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut of the
"Sandrin ou Verd Galant," facetious Work of the End of the Sixteenth
Century (edition of 1609).]

This silly nonsense, compiled like oracles, was printed as late as 1493.
Eighty years later a gentleman of Brittany, named Noel du Fail, Lord of
Herissaye, councillor in the Parliament of Rennes, published, under the
title of "Rustic and Amusing Discourses," a work intended to counteract
the influence of the famous "Evangile des Quenouilles." This new work was
a simple and true sketch of country habits, and proved the elegance and
artless simplicity of the author, as well as his accuracy of observation.
He begins thus: "Occasionally, having to retire into the country more
conveniently and uninterruptedly to finish some business, on a particular
holiday, as I was walking I came to a neighbouring village, where the
greater part of the old and young men were assembled, in groups of
separate ages, for, according to the proverb, 'Each seeks his like.' The
young were practising the bow, jumping, wrestling, running races, and
playing other games. The old were looking on, some sitting under an oak,
with their legs crossed, and their hats lowered over their eyes, others
leaning on their elbows criticizing every performance, and refreshing the
memory of their own youth, and taking a lively interest in seeing the
gambols of the young people."

The author states that on questioning one of the peasants to ascertain who
was the cleverest person present, the following dialogue took place: "The
one you see leaning on his elbow, hitting his boots, which have white
strings, with a hazel stick, is called Anselme; he is one of the rich ones
of the village, he is a good workman, and not a bad writer for the flat
country; and the one you see by his side, with his thumb in his belt,
hanging from which is a large game bag, containing spectacles and an old
prayer book, is called Pasquier, one of the greatest wits within a day's
journey--nay, were I to say two I should not be lying. Anyhow, he is
certainly the readiest of the whole company to open his purse to give
drink to his companions." "And that one," I asked, "with the large
Milanese cap on his head, who holds an old book?" "That one," he answered,
"who is scratching the end of his nose with one hand and his beard with
the other?" "That one," I replied, "and who has turned towards us?" "Why,"
said he, "that is Roger Bontemps, a merry careless fellow, who up to the
age of fifty kept the parish school; but changing his first trade he has
become a wine-grower. However, he cannot resist the feast days, when he
brings us his old books, and reads to us as long as we choose, such works
as the 'Calondrier des Bergers,' 'Fables d'Esope,' 'Le Roman de la Rose,'
'Matheolus,' 'Alain Chartier,' 'Les Vigiles du feu Roy Charles,' 'Les deux
Grebans,' and others. Neither, with his old habit of warbling, can he help
singing on Sundays in the choir; and he is called Huguet. The other
sitting near him, looking over his shoulder into his book, and wearing a
sealskin belt with a yellow buckle, is another rich peasant of the
village, not a bad villain, named Lubin, who also lives at home, and is
called the little old man of the neighbourhood."

After this artistic sketch, the author dilates on the goodman Anselme. He
says: "This good man possessed a moderate amount of knowledge, was a
goodish grammarian, a musician, somewhat of a sophist, and rather given to
picking holes in others." Some of Anselme's conversation is also given,
and after beginning by describing in glowing terms the bygone days which
he and his contemporaries had seen, and which he stated to be very
different to the present, he goes on to say, "I must own, my good old
friends, that I look back with pleasure on our young days; at all events
the mode of doing things in those days was very superior and better in
every way to that of the present.... O happy days! O fortunate times when
our fathers and grandfathers, whom may God absolve, were still among us!"
As he said this, he would raise the rim of his hat. He contented himself
as to dress with a good coat of thick wool, well lined according to the
fashion; and for feast days and other important occasions, one of thick
cloth, lined with some old gabardine.

[Illustration: Fig. 70.--The Shepherds celebrating the Birth of the
Messiah by Songs and Dances.--Fifteenth Century.--Fac-simile of an
Engraving on Wood, from a Book of Hours, printed by Anthony Verard.]

"So we see," says M. Le Roux de Lincy, "at the end of the fifteenth
century that the old peasants complained of the changes in the village
customs, and of the luxury which every one wished to display in his
furniture or apparel. On this point it seems that there has been little
or no change. We read that, from the time of Homer down to that of the
excellent author of 'Rustic Discourses,' and even later, the old people
found fault with the manners of the present generation and extolled those
of their forefathers, which they themselves had criticized in their own

[Illustration: Fig. 71.--Purse or Leather Bag, with Knife or Dagger of the
Fifteenth Century.]

Food and Cookery.

  History of Bread.--Vegetables and Plants used in
  Cooking.--Fruits.--Butchers' Meat.--Poultry, Game.--Milk, Butter,
  Cheese, and Eggs.--Fish and Shellfish.--Beverages, Beer, Cider, Wine,
  Sweet Wine, Refreshing Drinks, Brandy.--Cookery.--Soups, Boiled Food,
  Pies, Stews, Salads, Roasts, Grills.--Seasoning, Truffles, Sugar,
  Verjuice.--Sweets, Desserts, Pastry.--Meals and Feasts.--Rules of
  Serving at Table from the Fifteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries.

"The private life of a people," says Legrand d'Aussy, who had studied that
of the French from a gastronomic point of view only, "from the foundation
of monarchy down to the eighteenth century, must, like that of mankind
generally, commence with obtaining the first and most pressing of its
requirements. Not satisfied with providing food for his support, man has
endeavoured to add to his food something which pleased his taste. He does
not wait to be hungry, but he anticipates that feeling, and aggravates it
by condiments and seasonings. In a word his greediness has created on this
score a very complicated and wide-spread science, which, amongst nations
which are considered civilised, has become most important, and is
designated the culinary art."

At all times the people of every country have strained the nature of the
soil on which they lived by forcing it to produce that which it seemed
destined ever to refuse them. Such food as human industry was unable to
obtain from any particular soil or from any particular climate, commerce
undertook to bring from the country which produced it. This caused
Rabelais to say that the stomach was the father and master of industry.

We will rapidly glance over the alimentary matters which our forefathers
obtained from the animal and vegetable kingdom, and then trace the
progress of culinary art, and examine the rules of feasts and such matters
as belong to the epicurean customs of the Middle Ages.


Bread.--The Gauls, who principally inhabited deep and thick forests, fed
on herbs and fruits, and particularly on acorns. It is even possible that
the veneration in which they held the oak had no other origin. This
primitive food continued in use, at least in times of famine, up to the
eighth century, and we find in the regulations of St. Chrodegand that if,
in consequence of a bad year, the acorn or beech-nut became scarce, it was
the bishop's duty to provide something to make up for it. Eight centuries
later, when René du Bellay, Bishop of Mans, came to report to Francis I.
the fearful poverty of his diocese, he informed the king that the
inhabitants in many places were reduced to subsisting on acorn bread.

[Illustration: Figs. 72 and 73.--Corn-threshing and
Bread-making.--Miniatures from the Calendar of a Book of
Hours.--Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century.]

In the earliest times bread was cooked under the embers. The use of ovens
was introduced into Europe by the Romans, who had found them in Egypt.
But, notwithstanding this importation, the old system of cooking was long
after employed, for in the tenth century Raimbold, abbot of the monastery
of St. Thierry, near Rheims, ordered in his will that on the day of his
death bread cooked under the embers--_panes subcinericios_--should be
given to his monks. By feudal law the lord was bound to bake the bread of
his vassals, for which they were taxed, but the latter often preferred to
cook their flour at home in the embers of their own hearths, rather than
to carry it to the public oven.

[Illustration: Fig. 74.--The Miller.--From an Engraving of the Sixteenth
Century, by J. Amman.]

It must be stated that the custom of leavening the dough by the addition
of a ferment was not universally adopted amongst the ancients. For this
reason, as the dough without leaven could only produce a heavy and
indigestible bread, they were careful, in order to secure their loaves
being thoroughly cooked, to make them very thin. These loaves served as
plates for cutting up the other food upon, and when they thus became
saturated with the sauce and gravy they were eaten as cakes. The use of
the _tourteaux_ (small crusty loaves), which were at first called
_tranchoirs_ and subsequently _tailloirs_, remained long in fashion even
at the most splendid banquets. Thus, in 1336, the Dauphin of Vienna,
Humbert II., had, besides the small white bread, four small loaves to
serve as _tranchoirs_ at table. The "Ménagier de Paris" mentions "_des
pains de tranchouers_ half a foot in diameter, and four fingers deep," and
Froissart the historian also speaks of _tailloirs_.

It would be difficult to point out the exact period at which leavening
bread was adopted in Europe, but we can assert that in the Middle Ages it
was anything but general. Yeast, which, according to Pliny, was already
known to the Gauls, was reserved for pastry, and it was only at the end of
the sixteenth century that the bakers of Paris used it for bread.

At first the trades of miller and baker were carried on by the same person
(Figs. 74 and 75). The man who undertook the grinding of the grain had
ovens near his mill, which he let to his lord to bake bread, when he did
not confine his business to persons who sent him their corn to grind.

[Illustration: Fig. 75.--The Baker.--From an Engraving of the Sixteenth
Century, by J. Amman.]

At a later period public bakers established themselves, who not only baked
the loaves which were brought to them already kneaded, but also made bread
which they sold by weight; and this system was in existence until very
recently in the provinces.

Charlemagne, in his "Capitulaires" (statutes), fixed the number of bakers
in each city according to the population, and St. Louis relieved them, as
well as the millers, from taking their turn at the watch, so that they
might have no pretext for stopping or neglecting their work, which he
considered of public utility. Nevertheless bakers as a body never became
rich or powerful (Figs. 76 and 77). It is pretty generally believed that
the name of _boulanger_ (baker) originated from the fact that the shape
of the loaves made at one time was very like that of a round ball. But
loaves varied so much in form, quality, and consequently in name, that in
his "Dictionary of Obscure Words" the learned Du Cange specifies at least
twenty sorts made during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and amongst
them may be mentioned the court loaf, the pope's loaf, the knight's loaf,
the squire's loaf, the peer's loaf, the varlet's loaf, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 76.--Banner of the Corporation of Bakers of Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 77.--Banner of the Corporation, of Bakers of Arras.]

The most celebrated bread was the white bread of Chailly or Chilly, a
village four leagues (ten miles) south of Paris, which necessarily
appeared at all the tables of the _élite_ of the fourteenth century. The
_pain mollet_, or soft bread made with milk and butter, although much in
use before this, only became fashionable on the arrival of Marie de
Medicis in France (1600), on account of this Tuscan princess finding it so
much to her taste that she would eat no other.

The ordinary market bread of Paris comprised the _rousset bread_, made of
meslin, and employed for soup; the _bourgeoisie bread_; and the _chaland_
or _customer's bread_, which last was a general name given to all
descriptions which were sent daily from the neighbouring villages to the
capital. Amongst the best known varieties we will only mention the
_Corbeil bread_, the _dog bread_, the _bread of two colours_, which last
was composed of alternate layers of wheat and rye, and was used by persons
of small means; there was also the _Gonesse bread_, which has maintained
its reputation to this day.

The "table loaves," which in the provinces were served at the tables of
the rich, were of such a convenient size that one of them would suffice
for a man of ordinary appetite, even after the crust was cut off, which it
was considered polite to offer to the ladies, who soaked it in their soup.
For the servants an inferior bread was baked, called "common bread."

In many counties they sprinkled the bread, before putting it into the
oven, with powdered linseed, a custom which still exists. They usually
added salt to the flour, excepting in certain localities, especially in
Paris, where, on account of its price, they only mixed it with the
expensive qualities.

The wheats which were long most esteemed for baking purposes, were those
of Brie, Champagne, and Bassigny; while those of the Dauphiné were held of
little value, because they were said to contain so many tares and
worthless grains, that the bread made from them produced headache and
other ailments.

An ancient chronicle of the time of Charlemagne makes mention of a bread
twice baked, or biscuit. This bread was very hard, and easier to keep than
any other description. It was also used, as now, for provisioning ships,
or towns threatened with a siege, as well as in religious houses. At a
later period, delicate biscuits were made of a sort of dry and crumbling
pastry which retained the original name. As early as the sixteenth
century, Rheims had earned a great renown for these articles of food.

Bread made with barley, oats, or millet was always ranked as coarse food,
to which the poor only had recourse in years of want (Fig. 78). Barley
bread was, besides, used as a kind of punishment, and monks who had
committed any serious offence against discipline were condemned to live on
it for a certain period.

Rye bread was held of very little value, although in certain provinces,
such as Lyonnais, Forez, and Auvergne, it was very generally used among
the country people, and contributed, says Bruyérin Champier in his
treatise "De re Cibaria," to "preserve beauty and freshness amongst
women." At a later period, the doctors of Paris frequently ordered the use
of bread made half of wheat and half of rye as a means "of preserving the
health." Black wheat, or buck wheat, which was introduced into Europe by
the Moors and Saracens when they conquered Spain, quickly spread to the
northern provinces, especially to Flanders, where, by its easy culture and
almost certain yield, it averted much suffering from the inhabitants, who
were continually being threatened with famine.

It was only later that maize, or Turkey wheat, was cultivated in the
south, and that rice came into use; but these two kinds of grain, both
equally useless for bread, were employed the one for fattening poultry,
and the other for making cakes, which, however, were little appreciated.

[Illustration: Fig. 78.--Cultivation of Grain in use amongst the Peasants,
and the Manufacture of Barley and Oat Bread.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
an edition of Virgil published at Lyons in 1517.]

Vegetables and Plants Used in Cooking.--From the most ancient historical
documents we find that at the very earliest period of the French monarchy,
fresh and dried vegetables were the ordinary food of the population. Pliny
and Columella attribute a Gallic origin to certain roots, and among them
onions and parsnips, which the Romans cultivated in their gardens for use
at their tables.

It is evident, however, that vegetables were never considered as being
capable of forming solid nutriment, since they were almost exclusively
used by monastic communities when under vows of extreme abstinence.

A statute of Charlemagne, in which the useful plants which the emperor
desired should be cultivated in his domains are detailed, shows us that at
that period the greater part of our cooking vegetables were in use, for we
find mentioned in it, fennel, garlic, parsley, shallot, onions,
watercress, endive, lettuce, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, carrots,
artichokes; besides long-beans, broad-beans, peas or Italian vetches, and

In the thirteenth century, the plants fit for cooking went under the
general appellation of _aigrun_, and amongst them, at a later date, were
ranked oranges, lemons, and other acid fruits. St. Louis added to this
category even fruits with hard rinds, such as walnuts, filberts, and
chestnuts; and when the guild of the fruiterers of Paris received its
statutes in 1608, they were still called "vendors of fruits and _aigrun_."

The vegetables and cooking-plants noticed in the "Ménagier de Paris,"
which dates from the fourteenth century, and in the treatise "De
Obsoniis," of Platina (the name adopted by the Italian Bartholomew
Sacchi), which dates from the fifteenth century, do not lead us to suppose
that alimentary horticulture had made much progress since the time of
Charlemagne. Moreover, we are astonished to find the thistle placed
amongst choice dishes; though it cannot be the common thistle that is
meant, but probably this somewhat general appellation refers to the
vegetable-marrow, which is still found on the tables of the higher
classes, or perhaps the artichoke, which we know to be only a kind of
thistle developed by cultivation, and which at that period had been
recently imported.

About the same date melons begin to appear; but the management of this
vegetable fruit was not much known. It was so imperfectly cultivated in
the northern provinces, that, in the middle of the sixteenth century,
Bruyérin Champier speaks of the Languedocians as alone knowing how to
produce excellent _sucrins_--"thus called," say both Charles Estienne and
Liébault in the "Maison Rustique," "because gardeners watered them with
honeyed or sweetened water." The water-melons have never been cultivated
but in the south.

Cabbages, the alimentary reputation of which dates from the remotest
times, were already of several kinds, most of which have descended to us;
amongst them may be mentioned the apple-headed, the Roman, the white, the
common white head, the Easter cabbage, &c.; but the one held in the
highest estimation was the famous cabbage of Senlis, whose leaves, says an
ancient author, when opened, exhaled a smell more agreeable than musk or
amber. This species no doubt fell into disuse when the plan of employing
aromatic herbs in cooking, which was so much in repute by our ancestors,
was abandoned.

[Illustration: Fig. 79.--Coat-of-arms of the Grain-measurers of Ghent, on
their Ceremonial Banner, dated 1568.]

By a strange coincidence, at the same period as marjoram, carraway seed,
sweet basil, coriander, lavender, and rosemary were used to add their
pungent flavour to sauces and hashes, on the same tables might be found
herbs of the coldest and most insipid kinds, such as mallows, some kinds
of mosses, &c.

Cucumber, though rather in request, was supposed to be an unwholesome
vegetable, because it was said that the inhabitants of Forez, who ate much
of it, were subject to periodical fevers, which might really have been
caused by noxious emanation from the ponds with which that country
abounded. Lentils, now considered so wholesome, were also long looked upon
as a doubtful vegetable; according to Liébault, they were difficult to
digest and otherwise injurious; they inflamed the inside, affected the
sight, and brought on the nightmare, &c. On the other hand, small fresh
beans, especially those sold at Landit fair, were used in the most
delicate repasts; peas passed as a royal dish in the sixteenth century,
when the custom was to eat them with salt pork.

Turnips were also most esteemed by the Parisians. "This vegetable is to
them," says Charles Estienne, "what large radishes are to the Limousins."
The best were supposed to come from Maisons, Vaugirard, and Aubervilliers.
Lastly, there were four kinds of lettuces grown in France, according to
Liébault, in 1574: the small, the common, the curled, and the Roman: the
seed of the last-named was sent to France by François Rabelais when he was
in Rome with Cardinal du Bellay in 1537; and the salad made from it
consequently received the name of Roman salad, which it has ever since
retained. In fact, our ancestors much appreciated salads, for there was
not a banquet without at least three or four different kinds.

Fruits.--Western Europe was originally very poor in fruits, and it only
improved by foreign importations, mostly from Asia by the Romans. The
apricot came from Armenia, the pistachio-nuts and plums from Syria, the
peach and nut from Persia, the cherry from Cerasus, the lemon from Media,
the filbert from the Hellespont, and chestnuts from Castana, a town of
Magnesia. We are also indebted to Asia for almonds; the pomegranate,
according to some, came from Africa, to others from Cyprus; the quince
from Cydon in Crete; the olive, fig, pear, and apple, from Greece.

The statutes of Charlemagne show us that almost all these fruits were
reared in his gardens, and that some of them were of several kinds or

A considerable period, however, elapsed before the finest and more
luscious productions of the garden became as it were almost forced on
nature by artificial means. Thus in the sixteenth century we find
Rabelais, Charles Estienne, and La Framboisière, physician to Henry IV.,
praising the Corbeil peach, which was only an inferior and almost wild
sort, and describing it as having "_dry_ and _solid_ flesh, not adhering
to the stone." The culture of this fruit, which was not larger than a
damask plum, had then, according to Champier, only just been introduced
into France. It must be remarked here that Jacques Coythier, physician to
Louis XI., in order to curry favour with his master, who was very fond of
new fruits, took as his crest an apricot-tree, from which he was jokingly
called Abri-Coythier.

[Illustration: Fig. 80.--Cultivation of Fruit, from a Miniature of the
"Propriétaire de Choses" (Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the
Library of the Arsenal of Paris).]

It must be owned that great progress has been made in the culture of the
plum, the pear, and the apple. Champier says that the best plums are the
_royale_, the _perdrigon_, and the _damas_ of Tours; Olivier de Serres
mentions eighteen kinds--amongst which, however, we do not find the
celebrated Reine Claude (greengage), which owes its name to the daughter
of Louis XII., first wife of Francis I.

Of pears, the most esteemed in the thirteenth century were the
_hastiveau_, which was an early sort, and no doubt the golden pear now
called St. Jean, the _caillou_ or _chaillou_, a hard pear, which came from
Cailloux in Burgundy and _l'angoisse_ (agony), so called on account of its
bitterness--which, however, totally disappeared in cooking. In the
sixteenth century the palm is given to the _cuisse dame_, or _madame_; the
_bon chrétien_, brought, it is said, by St. François de Paule to Louis
XI.; the _bergamote_, which came from Bergamo, in Lombardy; the
_tant-bonne_, so named from its aroma; and the _caillou rosat_, our
rosewater pear.

Amongst apples, the _blandureau_ (hard white) of Auvergne, the _rouveau_,
and the _paradis_ of Provence, are of oldest repute. This reminds us of
the couplet by the author of the "Street Cries of Paris," thirteenth

  "Primes ai pommes de rouviau,
  Et d'Auvergne le blanc duriau."

  ("Give me first the russet apple,
  And the hard white fruit of Auvergne.")

The quince, which was so generally cultivated in the Middle Ages, was
looked upon as the most useful of all fruits. Not only did it form the
basis of the farmers' dried preserves of Orleans, called _cotignac_, a
sort of marmalade, but it was also used for seasoning meat. The Portugal
quince was the most esteemed; and the cotignac of Orleans had such a
reputation, that boxes of this fruit were always given to kings, queens,
and princes on entering the towns of France. It was the first offering
made to Joan of Arc on her bringing reinforcements into Orleans during the
English siege.

Several sorts of cherries were known, but these did not prevent the small
wild or wood cherry from being appreciated at the tables of the citizens;
whilst the _cornouille_, or wild cornelian cherry, was hardly touched,
excepting by the peasants; thence came the proverbial expression, more
particularly in use at Orleans, when a person made a silly remark, "He has
eaten cornelians," _i.e._, he speaks like a rustic.

In the thirteenth century, chestnuts from Lombardy were hawked in the
streets; but, in the sixteenth century, the chestnuts of the Lyonnais and
Auvergne were substituted, and were to be found on the royal table. Four
different sorts of figs, in equal estimation, were brought from
Marseilles, Nismes, Saint-Andéol, and Pont Saint-Esprit; and in Provence,
filberts were to be had in such profusion that they supplied from there
all the tables of the kingdom.

The Portuguese claim the honour of having introduced oranges from China;
however, in an account of the house of Humbert, Dauphin of Viennois, in
1333, that is, long before the expeditions of the Portuguese to India,
mention is made of a sum of money being paid for transplanting

[Illustration: Figs. 81 and 82.--Culture of the Vine and Treading the
Grape.--Miniatures taken from the Calendar of a Prayer-Book, in
Manuscript, of the Sixteenth Century.]

In the time of Bruyérin Champier, physician to Henry II., raspberries were
still completely wild; the same author states that wood strawberries had
only just at that time been introduced into gardens, "by which," he says,
"they had attained a larger size, though they at the same time lost their

The vine, acclimatised and propagated by the Gauls, ever since the
followers of Brennus had brought it from Italy, five hundred years before
the Christian era, never ceased to be productive, and even to constitute
the natural wealth of the country (Fig. 81 and 82). In the sixteenth
century, Liébault enumerated nineteen sorts of grapes, and Olivier de
Serres twenty-four, amongst which, notwithstanding the eccentricities of
the ancient names, we believe that we can trace the greater part of those
plants which are now cultivated in France. For instance, it is known that
the excellent vines of Thomery, near Fontainebleau, which yield in
abundance the most beautiful table grape which art and care can produce,
were already in use in the reign of Henry IV. (Fig. 83).

[Illustration: Fig. 83.--The Winegrower, drawn and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

In the time of the Gauls the custom of drying grapes by exposing them to
the sun, or to a certain amount of artificial heat, was already known; and
very soon after, the same means were adopted for preserving plums, an
industry in which then, as now, the people of Tours and Rheims excelled.
Drying apples in an oven was also the custom, and formed a delicacy which
was reserved for winter and spring banquets. Dried fruits were also
brought from abroad, as mentioned in the "Book of Street Cries in

  "Figues de Mélités sans fin,
  J'ai roisin d'outre mer, roisin."

  ("Figs from Malta without end,
  And grapes from over the sea.")

Butchers' Meat.--According to Strabo, the Gauls were great eaters of meat,
especially of pork, whether fresh or salted. "Gaul," says he, "feeds so
many flocks, and, above all, so many pigs, that it supplies not only Rome,
but all Italy, with grease and salt meat." The second chapter of the Salic
law, comprising nineteen articles, relates entirely to penalties for
pig-stealing; and in the laws of the Visigoths we find four articles on
the same subject.

[Illustration: Fig. 84.--Swineherd.

Illustration: Fig 85.--A Burgess at Meals.

Miniatures from the Calendar of a Book of Hours.--Manuscript of the
Sixteenth Century.]

In those remote days, in which the land was still covered with enormous
forests of oak, great facilities were offered for breeding pigs, whose
special liking for acorns is well known. Thus the bishops, princes, and
lords caused numerous droves of pigs to be fed on their domains, both for
the purpose of supplying their own tables as well as for the fairs and
markets. At a subsequent period, it became the custom for each household,
whether in town or country, to rear and fatten a pig, which was killed and
salted at a stated period of the year; and this custom still exists in
many provinces. In Paris, for instance, there was scarcely a bourgeois who
had not two or three young pigs. During the day these unsightly creatures
were allowed to roam in the streets; which, however, they helped to keep
clean by eating up the refuse of all sorts which was thrown out of the
houses. One of the sons of Louis le Gros, while passing, on the 2nd of
October, 1131, in the Rue du Martroi, between the Hôtel de Ville and the
church of St. Gervais, fractured his skull by a fall from his horse,
caused by a pig running between that animal's legs. This accident led to
the first order being issued by the provosts, to the effect that breeding
pigs within the town was forbidden. Custom, however, deep-rooted for
centuries, resisted this order, and many others on the same subject which
followed it: for we find, under Francis I., a license was issued to the
executioner, empowering him to capture all the stray pigs which he could
find in Paris, and to take them to the Hôtel Dieu, when he should receive
either five sous in silver or the head of the animal.

It is said that the holy men of St. Antoine, in virtue of the privilege
attached to the popular legend of their patron, who was generally
represented with a pig, objected to this order, and long after maintained
the exclusive right of allowing their pigs to roam in the streets of the

The obstinate determination with which every one tried to evade the
administrative laws on this subject, is explained, in fact, by the general
taste of the French nation for pork. This taste appears somewhat strange
at a time when this kind of food was supposed to engender leprosy, a
disease with which France was at that time overrun.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.--Stall of Carved Wood (Fifteenth Century),
representing the Proverb, "Margaritas ante Porcos," "Throwing Pearls
before Swine," from Rouen Cathedral.]

Pigs' meat made up generally the greater part of the domestic banquets.
There was no great feast at which hams, sausages, and black puddings were
not served in profusion on all the tables; and as Easter Day, which
brought to a close the prolonged fastings of Lent, was one of the great
feasts, this food formed the most important dish on that occasion. It is
possible that the necessity for providing for the consumption of that day
originated the celebrated ham fair, which was and is still held annually
on the Thursday of Passion Week in front of Notre-Dame, where the dealers
from all parts of France, and especially from Normandy and Lower
Brittany, assembled with their swine.

Sanitary measures were taken in Paris and in the various towns in order to
prevent the evil effects likely to arise from the enormous consumption of
pork; public officers, called _languayeurs_, were ordered to examine the
animals to ensure that they had not white ulcers under the tongue, these
being considered the signs that their flesh was in a condition to
communicate leprosy to those who partook of it.

For a long time the retail sale of pork was confined to the butchers, like
that of other meat. Salt or fresh pork was at one time always sold raw,
though at a later period some retailers, who carried on business
principally among the lowest orders of the people, took to selling cooked
pork and sausages. They were named _charcuitiers_ or _saucissiers_. This
new trade, which was most lucrative, was adopted by so many people that
parliament was forced to limit the number of _charcuitiers_, who at last
formed a corporation, and received their statutes, which were confirmed by
the King in 1475.

Amongst the privileges attached to their calling was that of selling red
herrings and sea-fish in Lent, during which time the sale of pork was
strictly forbidden. Although they had the exclusive monopoly of selling
cooked pork, they were at first forbidden to buy their meat of any one but
of the butchers, who alone had the right of killing pigs; and it was only
in 1513 that the _charcuitiers_ were allowed to purchase at market and
sell the meat raw, in opposition to the butchers, who in consequence
gradually gave up killing and selling pork (Fig. 87).

Although the consumption of butchers' meat was not so great in the Middle
Ages as it is now, the trade of a butcher, to which extraordinary
privileges were attached, was nevertheless one of the industries which
realised the greatest profits.

We know what an important part the butchers played in the municipal
history of France, as also of Belgium; and we also know how great their
political influence was, especially in the fifteenth century.

[Illustration: Fig. 87.--The Pork-butcher (_Charcutier_).--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in a Charter of the Abbey of Solignac (Fourteenth Century).]

The existence of the great slaughter-house of Paris dates back to the most
remote period of monarchy. The parish church of the corporation of
butchers, namely, that of St. Pierre aux Boeufs in the city, on the front
of which were two sculptured oxen, existed before the tenth century. A
Celtic monument was discovered on the site of the ancient part of Paris,
with a bas-relief representing a wild bull carrying three cranes standing
among oak branches. Archæology has chosen to recognise in this sculpture a
Druidical allegory, which has descended to us in the shape of the
triumphal car of the Prize Ox (Fig. 88). The butchers who, for centuries
at least in France, only killed sheep and pigs, proved themselves most
jealous of their privileges, and admitted no strangers into their
corporation. The proprietorship of stalls at the markets, and the right of
being admitted as a master butcher at the age of seven years and a day,
belonged exclusively to the male descendants of a few rich and powerful
families. The Kings of France alone, on their accession, could create a
new master butcher. Since the middle of the fourteenth century the "Grande
Boucherie" was the seat of an important jurisdiction, composed of a mayor,
a master, a proctor, and an attorney; it also had a judicial council
before which the butchers could bring up all their cases, and an appeal
from which could only be considered by Parliament. Besides this court,
which had to decide cases of misbehaviour on the part of the apprentices,
and all their appeals against their masters, the corporation had a counsel
in Parliament, as also one at the Châtelet, who were specially attached to
the interests of the butchers, and were in their pay.

[Illustration: Fig. 88.--The Holy Ox.--Celtic Monument found in Paris
under the Choir of Notre-Dame in 1711, and preserved in the Musée de Cluny
et des Thermes.]

Although bound, at all events with their money, to follow the calling of
their fathers, we find many descendants of ancient butchers' families of
Paris, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, abandoning their stalls
to fill high places in the state, and even at court. It must not be
concluded that the rich butchers in those days occupied themselves with
the minor details of their trade; the greater number employed servants who
cut up and retailed the meat, and they themselves simply kept the
accounts, and were engaged in dealing through factors or foremen for the
purchase of beasts for their stalls (Fig. 89). One can form an opinion of
the wealth of some of these tradesmen by reading the enumeration made by
an old chronicler of the property and income of Guillaume de Saint-Yon,
one of the principal master butchers in 1370. "He was proprietor of three
stalls, in which meat was weekly sold to the amount of 200 _livres
parisis_ (the livre being equivalent to 24 francs at least), with an
average profit of ten to fifteen per cent.; he had an income of 600
_livres parisis_; he possessed besides his family house in Paris, four
country-houses, well supplied with furniture and agricultural implements,
drinking-cups, vases, cups of silver, and cups of onyx with silver feet,
valued at 100 francs or more each. His wife had jewels, belts, purses, and
trinkets, to the value of upwards of 1,000 gold francs (the gold franc was
worth 24 livres); long and short gowns trimmed with fur; and three mantles
of grey fur. Guillaume de Saint-Yon had generally in his storehouses 300
ox-hides, worth 24 francs each at least; 800 measures of fat, worth 3-1/2
sols each; in his sheds, he had 800 sheep worth 100 sols each; in his
safes 500 or 600 silver florins of ready money (the florin was worth 12
francs, which must be multiplied five times to estimate its value in
present currency), and his household furniture was valued at 12,000
florins. He gave a dowry of 2,000 florins to his two nieces, and spent
3,000 florins in rebuilding his Paris house; and lastly, as if he had been
a noble, he used a silver seal."

[Illustration: Fig. 89.--The Butcher and his Servant, drawn and engraved
by J. Amman (Sixteenth Century).]

We find in the "Ménagier de Paris" curious statistics respecting the
various butchers' shops of the capital, and the daily sale in each at the
period referred to. This sale, without counting the households of the
King, the Queen, and the royal family, which were specially provisioned,
amounted to 26,624 oxen, 162,760 sheep, 27,456 pigs, and 15,912 calves
per annum; to which must be added not only the smoked and salted flesh of
200 or 300 pigs, which were sold at the fair in Holy Week, but also 6,420
sheep, 823 oxen, 832 calves, and 624 pigs, which, according to the
"Ménagier," were used in the royal and princely households.

Sometimes the meat was sent to market already cut up, but the slaughter of
beasts was more frequently done in the butchers' shops in the town; for
they only killed from day to day, according to the demand. Besides the
butchers' there were tripe shops, where the feet, kidneys, &c., were sold.

[Illustration: Figs. 90 and 91.--Seal and Counter-Seal of the Butchers of
Bruges in 1356, from an impression on green wax, preserved in the archives
of that town.]

According to Bruyérin Champier, during the sixteenth century the most
celebrated sheep in France were those of Berri and Limousin; and of all
butchers' meat, veal was reckoned the best. In fact, calves intended for
the tables of the upper classes were fed in a special manner: they were
allowed for six months, or even for a year, nothing but milk, which made
their flesh most tender and delicate. Contrary to the present taste, kid
was more appreciated than lamb, which caused the _rôtisseurs_ frequently
to attach the tail of a kid to a lamb, so as to deceive the customer and
sell him a less expensive meat at the higher price. This was the origin of
the proverb which described a cheat as "a dealer in goat by halves."

In other places butchers were far from acquiring the same importance which
they did in France and Belgium (Figs. 90 and 91), where much more meat was
consumed than in Spain, Italy, or even in Germany. Nevertheless, in
almost all countries there were certain regulations, sometimes eccentric,
but almost always rigidly enforced, to ensure a supply of meat of the best
quality and in a healthy state. In England, for instance, butchers were
only allowed to kill bulls after they had been baited with dogs, no doubt
with the view of making the flesh more tender. At Mans, it was laid down
in the trade regulations, that "no butcher shall be so bold as to sell
meat unless it shall have been previously seen alive by two or three
persons, who will testify to it on oath; and, anyhow, they shall not sell
it until the persons shall have declared it wholesome," &c.

To the many regulations affecting the interests of the public must be
added that forbidding butchers to sell meat on days when abstinence from
animal food was ordered by the Church. These regulations applied less to
the vendors than to the consumers, who, by disobeying them, were liable to
fine or imprisonment, or to severe corporal punishment by the whip or in
the pillory. We find that Clément Marot was imprisoned and nearly burned
alive for having eaten pork in Lent. In 1534, Guillaume des Moulins, Count
of Brie, asked permission for his mother, who was then eighty years of
age, to cease fasting; the Bishop of Paris only granted dispensation on
condition that the old lady should take her meals in secret and out of
sight of every one, and should still fast on Fridays. "In a certain town,"
says Brantôme, "there had been a procession in Lent. A woman, who had
assisted at it barefooted, went home to dine off a quarter of lamb and a
ham. The smell got into the street; the house was entered. The fact being
established, the woman was taken, and condemned to walk through the town
with her quarter of lamb on the spit over her shoulder, and the ham hung
round her neck." This species of severity increased during the times of
religious dissensions. Erasmus says, "He who has eaten pork instead of
fish is taken to the torture like a parricide." An edict of Henry II,
1549, forbade the sale of meat in Lent to persons who should not be
furnished with a doctor's certificate. Charles IX forbade the sale of meat
to the Huguenots; and it was ordered that the privilege of selling meat
during the time of abstinence should belong exclusively to the hospitals.
Orders were given to those who retailed meat to take the address of every
purchaser, although he had presented a medical certificate, so that the
necessity for his eating meat might be verified. Subsequently, the medical
certificate required to be endorsed by the priest, specifying what
quantity of meat was required. Even in these cases the use of butchers'
meat alone was granted, pork, poultry, and game being strictly forbidden.

Poultry.--A monk of the Abbey of Cluny once went on a visit to his
relations. On arriving he asked for food; but as it was a fast day he was
told there was nothing in the house but fish. Perceiving some chickens in
the yard, he took a stick and killed one, and brought it to his relations,
saying, "This is the fish which I shall eat to-day." "Eh, but, my son,"
they said, "have you dispensation from fasting on a Friday?" "No," he
answered; "but poultry is not flesh; fish and fowls were created at the
same time; they have a common origin, as the hymn which I sing in the
service teaches me."

This simple legend belongs to the tenth century; and notwithstanding that
the opinion of this Benedictine monk may appear strange nowadays, yet it
must be acknowledged that he was only conforming himself to the opinions
laid down by certain theologians. In 817, the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle
decided that such delicate nourishment could scarcely be called
mortification as understood by the teaching of the Church. In consequence
of this an order was issued forbidding the monks to eat poultry, except
during four days at Easter and four at Christmas. But this prohibition in
no way changed the established custom of certain parts of Christendom, and
the faithful persisted in believing that poultry and fish were identical
in the eyes of the Church, and accordingly continued to eat them
indiscriminately. We also see, in the middle of the thirteenth century,
St. Thomas Aquinas, who was considered an authority in questions of dogma
and of faith, ranking poultry amongst species of aquatic origin.

Eventually, this palpable error was abandoned; but when the Church forbade
Christians the use of poultry on fast days, it made an exception, out of
consideration for the ancient prejudice, in favour of teal, widgeon,
moor-hens, and also two or three kinds of small amphibious quadrupeds.
Hence probably arose the general and absurd beliefs concerning the origin
of teal, which some said sprung from the rotten wood of old ships, others
from the fruits of a tree, or the gum on fir-trees, whilst others thought
they came from a fresh-water shell analogous to that of the oyster and

As far back as modern history can be traced, we find that a similar mode
of fattening poultry was employed then as now, and was one which the Gauls
must have learnt from the Romans. Amongst the charges in the households
of the kings of France one item was that which concerned the
poultry-house, and which, according to an edict of St. Louis in 1261,
bears the name of _poulaillier_. At a subsequent period this name was
given to breeders and dealers in poultry (Fig. 92).

The "Ménagier" tells as that, as is the present practice, chickens were
fattened by depriving them of light and liberty, and gorging them with
succulent food. Amongst the poultry yards in repute at that time, the
author mentions that of Hesdin, a property of the Dukes of Luxemburg, in
Artois; that of the King, at the Hôtel Saint-Pol, Rue Saint-Antoine,
Paris; that of Master Hugues Aubriot, provost of Paris; and that of
Charlot, no doubt a bourgeois of that name, who also gave his name to an
ancient street in that quarter called the Marais.

[Illustration: Fig. 92.--The Poulterer, drawn and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

_Capons_ are frequently mentioned in poems of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries; but the name of the _poularde_ does not occur until the

We know that under the Roman rule, the Gauls carried on a considerable
trade in fattened geese. This trade ceased when Gaul passed to new
masters; but the breeding of geese continued to be carefully attended to.
For many centuries geese were more highly prized than any other
description of poultry, and Charlemagne ordered that his domains should
be well stocked with flocks of geese, which were driven to feed in the
fields, like flocks of sheep. There was an old proverb, "Who eats the
king's goose returns the feathers in a hundred years." This bird was
considered a great delicacy by the working classes and bourgeoisie. The
_rôtisseurs_ (Fig. 94) had hardly anything in their shops but geese, and,
therefore, when they were united in a company, they received the name of
_oyers_, or _oyeurs_. The street in which they were established, with
their spits always loaded with juicy roasts, was called Rue des _Oues_
(geese), and this street, when it ceased to be frequented by the _oyers_,
became by corruption Rue Auxours.

[Illustration: Fig. 93.--Barnacle Geese.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on
Wood, from the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, folio, Basle, 1552.]

There is every reason for believing that the domestication of the wild
duck is of quite recent date. The attempt having succeeded, it was wished
to follow it up by the naturalisation in the poultry-yard of two other
sorts of aquatic birds, namely, the sheldrake (_tadorna_) and the moorhen,
but without success. Some attribute the introduction of turkeys into
France and Europe to Jacques Coeur, treasurer to Charles VII., whose
commercial connections with the East were very extensive; others assert
that it is due to King René, Count of Provence; but according to the best
authorities these birds were first brought into France in the time of
Francis I. by Admiral Philippe de Chabot, and Bruyérin Champier asserts
that they were not known until even later. It was at about the same period
that guinea-fowls were brought from the coast of Africa by Portuguese
merchants; and the travelling naturalist, Pierre Belon, who wrote in the
year 1555, asserts that in his time "they had already so multiplied in the
houses of the nobles that they had become quite common."

[Illustration: Fig. 94.--The Poultry-dealer.--Fac-simile of an Engraving
on Wood, after Cesare Vecellio.]

The pea-fowl played an important part in the chivalric banquets of the
Middle Ages (Fig. 95). According to old poets the flesh of this noble bird
is "food for the brave." A poet of the thirteenth century says, "that
thieves have as much taste for falsehood as a hungry man has for the flesh
of the peacock." In the fourteenth century poultry-yards were still
stocked with these birds; but the turkey and the pheasant gradually
replaced them, as their flesh was considered somewhat hard and stringy.
This is proved by the fact that in 1581, "La Nouvelle Coutume du
Bourbonnois" only reckons the value of these beautiful birds at two sous
and a half, or about three francs of present currency.

[Illustration: Fig. 95.--State Banquet.--Serving the Peacock.--Fac-simile
of a Woodcut in an edition of Virgil, folio, published at Lyons in 1517.]

Game.--Our forefathers included among the birds which now constitute
feathered game the heron, the crane, the crow, the swan, the stork, the
cormorant, and the bittern. These supplied the best tables, especially the
first three, which were looked upon as exquisite food, fit even for
royalty, and were reckoned as thorough French delicacies. There were at
that time heronries, as at a later period there were pheasantries. People
also ate birds of prey, and only rejected those which fed on carrion.

Swans, which were much appreciated, were very common on all the principal
rivers of France, especially in the north; a small island below Paris had
taken its name from these birds, and has maintained it ever since. It was
proverbially said that the Charente was bordered with swans, and for this
same reason Valenciennes was called _Val des Cygnes_, or the Swan Valley.

Some authors make it appear that for a long time young game was avoided
owing to the little nourishment it contained and its indigestibility, and
assert that it was only when some French ambassadors returned from Venice
that the French learnt that young partridges and leverets were exquisite,
and quite fit to appear at the most sumptuous banquets. The "Ménagier"
gives not only various receipts for cooking them, but also for dressing
chickens, when game was out of season, so as to make them taste like young

There was a time when they fattened pheasants as they did capons; it was a
secret, says Liébault, only known to the poultry dealers; but although
they were much appreciated, the pullet was more so, and realised as much
as two crowns each (this does not mean the gold crown, but a current coin
worth three livres). Plovers, which sometimes came from Beauce in
cart-loads, were much relished; they were roasted without being drawn, as
also were turtle-doves and larks; "for," says an ancient author, "larks
only eat small pebbles and sand, doves grains of juniper and scented
herbs, and plovers feed on air." At a later period the same honour was
conferred on woodcocks.

Thrushes, starlings, blackbirds, quail, and partridges were in equal
repute according to the season. The _bec-figue_, a small bird like a
nightingale, was so much esteemed in Provence that there were feasts at
which that bird alone was served, prepared in various ways; but of all
birds used for the table none could be compared to the young cuckoo taken
just as it was full fledged.

As far as we can ascertain, the Gauls had a dislike to the flesh of
rabbits, and they did not even hunt them, for according to Strabo,
Southern Gaul was infested with these mischievous animals, which destroyed
the growing crops, and even the barks of the trees. There was considerable
change in this respect a few centuries later, for every one in town or
country reared domesticated rabbits, and the wild ones formed an article
of food which was much in request. In order to ascertain whether a rabbit
is young, Strabo tells us we should feel the first joint of the fore-leg,
when we shall find a small bone free and movable. This method is adopted
in all kitchens in the present day. Hares were preferred to rabbits,
provided they were young; for an old French proverb says, "An old hare and
an old goose are food for the devil."

[Illustration: Fig. 96.--"The way to skin and cut up a Stag."--Fac-simile
of a Miniature of "Phoebus, and his Staff for hunting Wild Animals"
(Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, National Library of Paris).]

The hedgehog and squirrel were also eaten. As for roe and red deer, they
were, according to Dr. Bruyérin Ohampier, morsels fit for kings and rich
people (Fig. 96). The doctor speaks of "fried slices of the young horn of
the stag" as the daintiest of food, and the "Ménagier de Paris" shows how,
as early as the fourteenth century, beef was dished up like bear's-flesh
venison, for the use of kitchens in countries where the black bear did not
exist. This proves that bear's flesh was in those days considered good

Milk, Butter, Eggs, and Cheese.--These articles of food, the first which
nature gave to man, were not always and everywhere uniformly permitted or
prohibited by the Church on fast days. The faithful were for several
centuries left to their own judgment on the subject. In fact, there is
nothing extraordinary in eggs being eaten in Lent without scruple,
considering that some theologians maintained that the hens which laid them
were animals of aquatic extraction.

It appears, however, that butter, either from prejudice or mere custom,
was only used on fast days in its fresh state, and was not allowed to be
used for cooking purposes. At first, and especially amongst the monks, the
dishes were prepared with oil; but as in some countries oil was apt to
become very expensive, and the supply even to fail totally, animal fat or
lard had to be substituted. At a subsequent period the Church authorised
the use of butter and milk; but on this point, the discipline varied much.
In the fourteenth century, Charles V., King of France, having asked Pope
Gregory XI. for a dispensation to use milk and butter on fast days, in
consequence of the bad state of his health, brought on owing to an attempt
having been made to poison him, the supreme Pontiff required a certificate
from a physician and from the King's confessor. He even then only granted
the dispensation after imposing on that Christian king the repetition of a
certain number of prayers and the performance of certain pious deeds. In
defiance of the severity of ecclesiastical authority, we find, in the
"Journal of a Bourgeois of Paris," that in the unhappy reign of Charles
VI. (1420), "for want of oil, butter was eaten in Lent the same as on
ordinary non-fast days."

In 1491, Queen Anne, Duchess of Brittany, in order to obtain permission
from the Pope to eat butter in Lent, represented that Brittany did not
produce oil, neither did it import it from southern countries. Many
northern provinces adopted necessity as the law, and, having no oil, used
butter; and thence originated that famous toast with slices of bread and
butter, which formed such an important part of Flemish food. These papal
dispensations were, however, only earned at the price of prayers and alms,
and this was the origin of the _troncs pour le beurre_, that is, "alms-box
for butter," which are still to be seen in some of the Flemish churches.

[Illustration: Fig. 97.--The Manufacture of Oil, drawn and engraved by J.
Amman in the Sixteenth Century.]

It is not known when butter was first salted in order to preserve it or to
send it to distant places; but this process, which is so simple and so
natural, dates, no doubt, from very ancient times; it was particularly
practised by the Normans and Bretons, who enclosed the butter in large
earthenware jars, for in the statutes which were given to the fruiterers
of Paris in 1412, mention is made of salt butter in earthenware jars.
Lorraine only exported butter in such jars. The fresh butter most in
request for the table in Paris, was that made at Vanvres, which in the
month of May the people ate every morning mixed with garlic.

The consumption of butter was greatest in Flanders. "I am surprised," says
Bruyérin Champier, speaking of that country, "that they have not yet tried
to turn it into drink; in France it is mockingly called _beurrière;_ and
when any one has to travel in that country, he is advised to take a knife
with him if he wishes to taste the good rolls of butter."

[Illustration: Fig. 98.--A Dealer in Eggs.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut, after
Cesare Vecellio, Sixteenth Century.]

It is not necessary to state that milk and cheese followed the fortunes of
butter in the Catholic world, the same as eggs followed those of poultry.
But butter having been declared lawful by the Church, a claim was put in
for eggs (Fig. 98), and Pope Julius III. granted this dispensation to all
Christendom, although certain private churches did not at once choose to
profit by this favour. The Greeks had always been more rigid on these
points of discipline than the people of the West. It is to the prohibition
of eggs in Lent that the origin of "Easter eggs" must be traced. These
were hardened by boiling them in a madder bath, and were brought to
receive the blessing of the priest on Good Friday, and were then eaten on
the following Sunday as a sign of rejoicing.

Ancient Gaul was celebrated for some of its home-made cheeses. Pliny
praises those of Nismes, and of Mount Lozère, in Gévaudau; Martial
mentions those of Toulouse, &c. A simple anecdote, handed down by the monk
of St. Gall, who wrote in the ninth century, proves to us that the
traditions with regard to cheeses were not lost in the time of
Charlemagne: "The Emperor, in one of his travels, alighted suddenly, and
without being expected, at the house of a bishop. It was on a Friday. The
prelate had no fish, and did not dare to set meat before the prince. He
therefore offered him what he had got, some boiled corn and green cheese.
Charles ate of the cheese; but taking the green part to be bad, he took
care to remove it with his knife. The Bishop, seeing this, took the
liberty of telling his guest that this was the best part. The Emperor,
tasting it, found that the bishop was right; and consequently ordered him
to send him annually two cases of similar cheese to Aix-la-Chapelle. The
Bishop answered, that he could easily send cheeses, but he could not be
sure of sending them in proper condition, because it was only by opening
them that you could be sure of the dealer not having deceived you in the
quality of the cheese. 'Well,' said the Emperor, 'before sending them, cut
them through the middle, so as to see if they are what I want; you will
only have to join the two halves again by means of a wooden peg, and you
can then put the whole into a case.'"

Under the kings of the third French dynasty, a cheese was made at the
village of Chaillot, near Paris, which was much appreciated in the
capital. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the cheeses of Champagne
and of Brie, which are still manufactured, were equally popular, and were
hawked in the streets, according to the "Book of Street-Cries in Paris,"--

  "J'ai bon fromage de Champaigne;
  Or i a fromage de Brie!"

  ("Buy my cheese from Champagne,
  And my cheese from Brie!")

Eustache Deschamps went so far as to say that cheese was the only good
thing which could possibly come from Brie.

The "Ménagier de Paris" praises several kinds of cheeses, the names of
which it would now be difficult to trace, owing to their frequent changes
during four hundred years; but, according to the Gallic author of this
collection, a cheese to be presentable at table, was required to possess
certain qualities (in proverbial Latin, "Non Argus, nee Helena, nee Maria
Magdalena," &c.), thus expressed in French rhyme:--

  "Non mie (pas) blanc comme Hélaine,
  Non mie (pas) plourant comme Magdelaine,
  Non Argus (à cent yeux), mais du tout avugle (aveugle)
  Et aussi pesant comme un bugle (boeuf),
  Contre le pouce soit rebelle,
  Et qu'il ait ligneuse cotelle (épaisse croûte)
  Sans yeux, sans plourer, non pas blanc,
  Tigneulx, rebelle, bien pesant."

  ("Neither-white like Helena,
  Nor weeping as Magdelena,
  Neither Argus, nor yet quite blind,
  And having too a thickish rind,
  Resisting somewhat to the touch,
  And as a bull should weigh as much;
  Not eyeless, weeping, nor quite white,
  But firm, resisting, not too light.")

In 1509, Platina, although an Italian, in speaking of good cheeses,
mentions those of Chauny, in Picardy, and of Brehemont, in Touraine;
Charles Estienne praises those of Craponne, in Auvergne, the _angelots_ of
Normandy, and the cheeses made from fresh cream which the peasant-women of
Montreuil and Vincennes brought to Paris in small wickerwork baskets, and
which were eaten sprinkled with sugar. The same author names also the
_rougerets_ of Lyons, which were always much esteemed; but, above all the
cheeses of Europe, he places the round or cylindrical ones of Auvergne,
which were only made by very clean and healthy children of fourteen years
of age. Olivier de Serres advises those who wish to have good cheeses to
boil the milk before churning it, a plan which is in use at Lodi and
Parma, "where cheeses are made which are acknowledged by all the world to
be excellent."

The parmesan, which this celebrated agriculturist cites as an example,
only became the fashion in France on the return of Charles VIII. from his
expedition to Naples. Much was thought at that time of a cheese brought
from Turkey in bladders, and of different varieties produced in Holland
and Zetland. A few of these foreign products were eaten in stews and in
pastry, others were toasted and sprinkled with sugar and powdered

"Le Roman de Claris," a manuscript which belongs to the commencement of
the fourteenth century, says that in a town winch was taken by storm the
following stores were found:--:

  "Maint bon tonnel de vin,
  Maint bon bacon (cochon), maint fromage à rostir."

  ("Many a ton of wine,
  Many a slice of good bacon, plenty of good roasted cheese.")

[Illustration: Table Service of a Lady of Quality

Fac-simile of a miniature from the Romance of Renaud de Montauban, a ms.
of fifteenth century Bibl. de l'Arsenal]

[Illustration: Ladies Hunting

Costumes of the fifteenth century. From a miniature in a ms. copy of
_Ovid's Epistles_. No 7231 _bis._ Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

Besides cheese and butter, the Normans, who had a great many cows in their
rich pastures, made a sort of fermenting liquor from the butter-milk,
which they called _serat_, by boiling the milk with onions and garlic, and
letting it cool in closed vessels.

[Illustration: Fig. 99.--Manufacture of Cheeses in
Switzerland.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of
Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

If the author of the "Ménagier" is to be believed, the women who sold milk
by retail in the towns were well acquainted with the method of increasing
its quantity at the expense of its quality. He describes how his
_froumentée_, which consists of a sort of soup, is made, and states that
when he sends his cook to make her purchases at the milk market held in
the neighbourhood of the Rues de la Savonnerie, des Ecrivains, and de la
Vieille-Monnaie, he enjoins her particularly "to get very fresh cow's
milk, and to tell the person who sells it not to do so if she has put
water to it; for, unless it be quite fresh, or if there be water in it, it
will turn."

Fish and Shellfish.--Freshwater fish, which was much more abundant in
former days than now, was the ordinary food of those who lived on the
borders of lakes, ponds, or rivers, or who, at all events, were not so far
distant but that they could procure it fresh. There was of course much
diversity at different periods and in different countries as regards the
estimation in which the various kinds of fish were held. Thus Ausone, who
was a native of Bordeaux, spoke highly of the delicacy of the perch, and
asserted that shad, pike, and tench should be left to the lower orders; an
opinion which was subsequently contradicted by the inhabitants of other
parts of Gaul, and even by the countrymen of the Latin poet Gregory of
Tours, who loudly praised the Geneva trout. But a time arrived when the
higher classes preferred the freshwater fish of Orchies in Flanders, and
even those of the Lyonnais. Thus we see in the thirteenth century the
barbel of Saint-Florentin held in great estimation, whereas two hundred
years later a man who was of no use, or a nonentity, was said to resemble
a barbel, "which is neither good for roasting nor boiling."

[Illustration: Fig. 100.--The Pond Fisherman.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut of
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

In a collection of vulgar proverbs of the twelfth century mention is made,
amongst the fish most in demand, besides the barbel of Saint-Florentin
above referred to, of the eels of Maine, the pike of Chalons, the lampreys
of Nantes, the trout of Andeli, and the dace of Aise. The "Ménagier" adds
several others to the above list, including blay, shad, roach, and
gudgeon, but, above all, the carp, which was supposed to be a native of
Southern Europe, and which must have been naturalised at a much later
period in the northern waters (Figs. 100, 101, and 102).

[Illustration: Fig. 101.--The River Fisherman, designed and engraved, in
the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

[Illustration: Fig. 102.--Conveyance of Fish by Water and
Land.--Fac-simile of an Engraving in the Royal Statutes of the Provostship
of Merchants, 1528.]

The most ancient documents bear witness that the natives of the sea-coasts
of Europe, and particularly of the Mediterranean, fed on the same fish as
at present: there were, however, a few other sea-fish, which were also
used for food, but which have since been abandoned. Our ancestors were,
not difficult to please: they had good teeth, and their palates, having
become accustomed to the flesh of the cormorant, heron, and crane, without
difficulty appreciated the delicacy of the nauseous sea-dog, the porpoise,
and even the whale, which, when salted, furnished to a great extent all
the markets of Europe.

The trade in salted sea-fish only began in Paris in the twelfth century,
when a company of merchants was instituted, or rather re-established, on
the principle of the ancient association of Nantes. This association had
existed from the period of the foundation under the Gauls of Lutetia, the
city of fluvial commerce (Fig. 103), and it is mentioned in the letters
patent of Louis VII. (1170). One of the first cargoes which this company
brought in its boats was that of salted herrings from the coast of
Normandy. These herrings became a necessary food during Lent, and

  "Sor et blanc harene frès pouldré (couvert de sel)!"

  ("Herrings smoked, fresh, and salted!")

was the cry of the retailers in the streets of Paris, where this fish
became a permanent article of consumption to an extent which can be
appreciated from the fact that Saint Louis gave annually nearly seventy
thousand herrings to the hospitals, plague-houses, and monasteries.

[Illustration: Fig. 103.--A Votive Altar of the Nantes Parisiens, or the
Company for the Commercial Navigation of the Seine, erected in Lutelia
during the reign of Tiberius.--Fragments of this Altar, which were
discovered in 1711 under the Choir of the Church of Notre-Dame, are
preserved in the Museums of Cluny and the Palais des Thermes.]

The profit derived from the sale of herrings at that time was so great
that it soon became a special trade; it was, in fact, the regular practice
of the Middle Ages for persons engaged in any branch of industry to unite
together and form themselves into a corporation. Other speculators
conceived the idea of bringing fresh fish to Paris by means of relays of
posting conveyances placed along the road, and they called themselves
_forains_. Laws were made to distinguish the rights of each of these
trades, and to prevent any quarrel in the competition. In these laws, all
sea-fish were comprised under three names, the fresh, the salted, and the
smoked (_sor_). Louis IX. in an edict divides the dealers into two
classes, namely, the sellers of fresh fish, and the sellers of salt or
smoked fish. Besides salt and fresh herrings, an enormous amount of salted
mackerel, which was almost as much used, was brought from the sea-coast,
in addition to flat-fish, gurnets, skate, fresh and salted whiting and

In an old document of the thirteenth century about fifty kinds of fish are
enumerated which were retailed in the markets of the kingdom; and a
century later the "Ménagier" gives receipts for cooking forty kinds,
amongst which appears, under the name of _craspois_, the salted flesh of
the whale, which was also called _le lard de carême_. This coarse food,
which was sent from the northern seas in enormous slices, was only eaten
by the lower orders, for, according to a writer of the sixteenth century,
"were it cooked even for twenty-four hours it would still be very hard and

The "Proverbes" of the thirteenth century, which mention the freshwater
fish then in vogue, also names the sea-fish most preferred, and whence
they came, namely, the shad from Bordeaux, the congers from La Rochelle,
the sturgeon from Blaye, the fresh herrings from Fécamp, and the
cuttle-fish from Coutances. At a later period the conger was not eaten
from its being supposed to produce the plague. The turbot, John-dory,
skate and sole, which were very dear, were reserved for the rich. The
fishermen fed on the sea-dragon. A great quantity of the small sea
crayfish were brought into market; and in certain countries these were
called _santé_, because the doctors recommended them to invalids or those
in consumption; on the other hand, freshwater crayfish were not much
esteemed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, excepting for their
eggs, which were prepared with spice. It is well known that pond frogs
were a favourite food of the Gauls and Franks; they were never out of
fashion in the rural districts, and were served at the best tables,
dressed with green sauce; at the same period, and especially during Lent,
snails, which were served in pyramid-shaped dishes, were much appreciated;
so much so that nobles and bourgeois cultivated snail beds, somewhat
resembling our oyster beds of the present day.

The inhabitants of the coast at all periods ate various kinds of
shell-fish, which were called in Italy sea-fruit; but it was only towards
the twelfth century that the idea was entertained of bringing oysters to
Paris, and mussels were not known there until much later. It is notorious
that Henry IV. was a great oyster-eater. Sully relates that when he was
created a duke "the king came, without being expected, to take his seat at
the reception banquet, but as there was much delay in going to dinner, he
began by eating some _huîtres de chasse_, which he found very fresh."

By _huîtres de chasse_ were meant those oysters which were brought by the
_chasse-marées_, carriers who brought the fresh fish from the coast to
Paris at great speed.

Beverages.--Beer is not only one of the oldest fermenting beverages used
by man, but it is also the one which was most in vogue in the Middle Ages.
If we refer to the tales of the Greek historians, we find that the
Gauls--who, like the Egyptians, attributed the discovery of this
refreshing drink to their god Osiris--had two sorts of beer: one called
_zythus_, made with honey and intended for the rich; the other called
_corma_, in which there was no honey, and which was made for the poor. But
Pliny asserts that beer in Gallie was called _cerevisia_, and the grain
employed for making it _brasce_. This testimony seems true, as from
_brasce_ or _brasse_ comes the name _brasseur_ (brewer), and from
_cerevisia, cervoise_, the generic name by which beer was known for
centuries, and which only lately fell into disuse.

[Illustration: Fig. 104.--The Great Drinkers of the North.--Fac-simile of
a Woodcut of the "Histoires des Pays Septentrionaux," by Olaus Magnus,
16mo., Antwerp, 1560.]

After a great famine, Domitian ordered all the vines in Gaul to be
uprooted so as to make room for corn. This rigorous measure must have
caused beer to become even more general, and, although two centuries later
Probus allowed vines to be replanted, the use of beverages made from grain
became an established custom; but in time, whilst the people still only
drank _cervoise_, those who were able to afford it bought wine and drank
it alternately with beer.

However, as by degrees the vineyards increased in all places having a
suitable soil and climate, the use of beer was almost entirely given up,
so that in central Gaul wine became so common and cheap that all could
drink it. In the northern provinces, where the vine would not grow, beer
naturally continued to be the national beverage (Fig. 104).

In the time of Charlemagne, for instance, we find the Emperor wisely
ordered that persons knowing how to brew should be attached to each of his
farms. Everywhere the monastic houses possessed breweries; but as early as
the reign of St. Louis there were only a very few breweries in Paris
itself, and, in spite of all the privileges granted to their corporation,
even these were soon obliged to leave the capital, where there ceased to
be any demand for the produce of their industry. They reappeared in 1428,
probably in consequence of the political and commercial relations which
had become established between Paris and the rich towns of the Flemish
bourgeoisie; and then, either on account of the dearness of wine, or the
caprice of fashion, the consumption of beer again became so general in
France that, according to the "Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris," it
produced to the revenue two-thirds more than wine. It must be understood,
however, that in times of scarcity, as in the years 1415 and 1482, brewing
was temporarily stopped, and even forbidden altogether, on account of the
quantity of grain which was thereby withdrawn from the food supply of the
people (Fig. 105).

[Illustration: Fig. 105.--The Brewer, designed and engraved, in the
Sixteenth. Century, by J. Amman.]

Under the Romans, the real _cervoise_, or beer, was made with barley; but,
at a later period, all sorts of grain was indiscriminately used; and it
was only towards the end of the sixteenth century that adding the flower
or seed of hops to the oats or barley, which formed the basis of this
beverage, was thought of.

Estienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," edited in the thirteenth century,
shows us that, besides the _cervoise_, another sort of beer was known,
which was called _godale_. This name, we should imagine, was derived from
the two German words _god ael_, which mean "good beer," and was of a
stronger description than the ordinary _cervoise_; this idea is proved by
the Picards and Flemish people calling it "double beer." In any case, it
is from the word _godale_ that the familiar expression of _godailler_ (to
tipple) is derived.

In fact, there is hardly any sort of mixture or ingredient which has not
been used in the making of beer, according to the fashions of the
different periods. When, on the return from the Crusades, the use of spice
had become the fashion, beverages as well as the food were loaded with it.
Allspice, juniper, resin, apples, bread-crumbs, sage, lavender, gentian,
cinnamon, and laurel were each thrown into it. The English sugared it, and
the Germans salted it, and at times they even went so far as to put darnel
into it, at the risk of rendering the mixture poisonous.

The object of these various mixtures was naturally to obtain
high-flavoured beers, which became so much in fashion, that to describe
the want of merit of persons, or the lack of value in anything, no simile
was more common than to compare them to "small beer." Nevertheless, more
delicate and less blunted palates were to be found which could appreciate
beer sweetened simply with honey, or scented with ambergris or
raspberries. It is possible, however, that these compositions refer to
mixtures in which beer, the produce of fermented grain, was confounded
with hydromel, or fermented honey. Both these primitive drinks claim an
origin equally remote, which is buried in the most distant periods of
history, and they have been used in all parts of the world, being
mentioned in the oldest historical records, in the Bible, the Edda, and in
the sacred books of India. In the thirteenth century, hydromel, which then
bore the name of _borgérafre, borgéraste_, or _bochet_, was composed of
one part of honey to twelve parts of water, scented with herbs, and
allowed to ferment for a month or six weeks. This beverage, which in the
customs and statutes of the order of Cluny is termed _potus dulcissimus_
(the sweetest beverage), and which must have been both agreeable in taste
and smell, was specially appreciated by the monks, who feasted on it on
the great anniversaries of the Church. Besides this, an inferior quality
of _bochet_ was made for the consumption of the lower orders and peasants,
out of the honeycomb after the honey had been drained away, or with the
scum which rose during the fermentation of the better qualities.

[Illustration: Fig. 106.--The Vintagers, after a Miniature of the "Dialogues
de Saint Gregoire" (Thirteenth Century).--Manuscript of the Royal Library
of Brussels.]

Cider (in Latin _sicera_) and perry can also both claim a very ancient
origin, since they are mentioned by Pliny. It does not appear, however,
that the Gauls were acquainted with them. The first historical mention of
them is made with reference to a repast which Thierry II., King of
Burgundy and Orleans (596-613), son of Childebert, and grandson of Queen
Brunehaut, gave to St. Colomban, in which both cider and wine were used.
In the thirteenth century, a Latin poet (Guillaume le Breton) says that
the inhabitants of the Auge and of Normandy made cider their daily drink;
but it is not likely that this beverage was sent away from the localities
where it was made; for, besides the fact that the "Ménagier" only very
curtly mentions a drink made of apples, we know that in the fifteenth
century the Parisians were satisfied with pouring water on apples, and
steeping them, so as to extract a sort of half-sour, half-sweet drink
called _dépense_. Besides this, Paulmier de Grandmesnil, a Norman by
birth, a famous doctor, and the author of a Latin treatise on wine and
cider (1588), asserts that half a century before, cider was very scarce at
Rouen, and that in all the districts of Caux the people only drank beer.
Duperron adds that the Normans brought cider from Biscay, when their crops
of apples failed.

By whom and at what period the vine was naturalised in Gaul has been a
long-disputed question, which, in spite of the most careful research,
remains unsolved. The most plausible opinion is that which attributes the
honour of having imported the vine to the Phoenician colony who founded

Pliny makes mention of several wines of the Gauls as being highly
esteemed. He nevertheless reproaches the vine-growers of Marseilles,
Beziers, and Narbonne with doctoring their wines, and with infusing
various drugs into them, which rendered them disagreeable and even
unwholesome (Fig. 106). Dioscorides, however, approved of the custom in
use among the Allobroges, of mixing resin with their wines to preserve
them and prevent them from turning sour, as the temperature of their
country was not warm enough thoroughly to ripen the grape.

Rooted up by order of Domitian in 92, as stated above, the vine only
reappeared in Gaul under Protus, who revoked, in 282, the imperial edict
of his predecessor; after which period the Gallic wines soon recovered
their ancient celebrity. Under the dominion of the Franks, who held wine
in great favour, vineyard property was one of those which the barbaric
laws protected with the greatest care. We find in the code of the Salians
and in that of the Visigoths very severe penalties for uprooting a vine or
stealing a bunch of grapes. The cultivation of the vine became general,
and kings themselves planted them, even in the gardens of their city
palaces. In 1160, there was still in Paris, near the Louvre, a vineyard of
such an extent, that Louis VII. could annually present six hogsheads of
wine made from it to the rector of St. Nicholas. Philip Augustus possessed
about twenty vineyards of excellent quality in various parts of his

The culture of the vine having thus developed, the wine trade acquired an
enormous importance in France. Gascony, Aunis, and Saintonge sent their
wines to Flanders; Guyenne sent hers to England. Froissart writes that, in
1372, a merchant fleet of quite two hundred sail came from London to
Bordeaux for wine. This flourishing trade received a severe blow in the
sixteenth century; for an awful famine having invaded France in 1566,
Charles IX. did not hesitate to repeat the acts of Domitian, and to order
all the vines to be uprooted and their place to be sown with corn;
fortunately Henry III. soon after modified this edict by simply
recommending the governors of the provinces to see that "the ploughs were
not being neglected in their districts on account of the excessive
cultivation of the vine."

[Illustration: Fig. 107.--Interior of an Hostelry.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in a folio edition of Virgil, published at Lyons in 1517.]

Although the trade of a wine-merchant is one of the oldest established in
Paris, it does not follow that the retail sale of wine was exclusively
carried on by special tradesmen. On the contrary, for a long time the
owner of the vineyard retailed the wine which he had not been able to sell
in the cask. A broom, a laurel-wreath, or some other sign of the sort hung
over a door, denoted that any one passing could purchase or drink wine
within. When the wine-growers did not have the quality and price of their
wine announced in the village or town by the public crier, they placed a
man before the door of their cellar, who enticed the public to enter and
taste the new wines. Other proprietors, instead of selling for people to
take away in their own vessels, established a tavern in some room of their
house, where they retailed drink (Fig. 107). The monks, who made wine
extensively, also opened these taverns in the monasteries, as they only
consumed part of their wine themselves; and this system was universally
adopted by wine-growers, and even by the king and the nobles. The latter,
however, had this advantage, that, whilst they were retailing their wines,
no one in the district was allowed to enter into competition with them.
This prescriptive right, which was called _droit de ban-vin_, was still in
force in the seventeenth century.

Saint Louis granted special statutes to the wine-merchants in 1264; but it
was only three centuries later that they formed a society, which was
divided into four classes, namely, hotel-keepers, publichouse-keepers,
tavern proprietors, and dealers in wine _à pot_, that is, sold to people
to take away with them. Hotel-keepers, also called _aubergistes_,
accommodated travellers, and also put up horses and carriages. The dealers
_à pot_ sold wine which could not be drunk on their premises. There was
generally a sort of window in their door through which the empty pot was
passed, to be returned filled: hence the expression, still in use in the
eighteenth century, _vente a huis coupé_ (sale through a cut door).
Publichouse-keepers supplied drink as well as _nappe et assiette_
(tablecloth and plate), which meant that refreshments were also served.
And lastly, the _taverniers_ sold wine to be drunk on the premises, but
without the right of supplying bread or meat to their customers (Figs 108
and 109).

[Illustration: Fig. 108.--Banner of the Corporation of the
Publichouse-keepers of Montmedy.]

[Illustration: Fig. 109.--Banner of the Corporation of the
Publichouse-keepers of Tonnerre.]

The wines of France in most request from the ninth to the thirteenth
centuries were those of Mâcon, Cahors, Rheims, Choisy, Montargis, Marne,
Meulan, and Orléanais. Amongst the latter there was one which was much
appreciated by Henry I., and of which he kept a store, to stimulate his
courage when he joined his army. The little fable of the Battle of Wines,
composed in the thirteenth century by Henri d'Andelys, mentions a number
of wines which have to this day maintained their reputation: for instance,
the Beaune, in Burgundy; the Saint-Emilion, in Gruyenne; the Chablis,
Epernay, Sézanne, in Champagne, &c. But he places above all, with good
reason, according to the taste of those days, the Saint-Pourçain of
Auvergne, which was then most expensive and in great request. Another
French poet, in describing the luxurious habits of a young man of fashion,
says that he drank nothing but Saint-Pourçain; and in a poem composed by
Jean Bruyant, secretary of the Châtelet of Paris, in 1332, we find

                 "Du saint-pourçain
  Que l'on met en son sein pour sain."

  ("Saint-Pourçain wine, which you imbibe for the good of your health.")

[Illustration: Fig. 110.--Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne.]

[Illustration: Fig. 111.--Banner of the Coopers of La Rochelle.]

Towards 1400, the vineyards of Aï became celebrated for Champagne as those
of Beaune were for Burgundy; and it is then that we find, according to the
testimony of the learned Paulmier de Grandmesnil, kings and queens making
champagne their favourite beverage. Tradition has it that Francis I.,
Charles Quint, Henry VIII., and Pope Leon X. all possessed vineyards in
Champagne at the same time. Burgundy, that pure and pleasant wine, was not
despised, and it was in its honour that Erasmus said, "Happy province! she
may well call herself the mother of men, since she produces such milk."
Nevertheless, the above-mentioned physician, Paulmier, preferred to
burgundy, "if not perhaps for their flavour, yet for their wholesomeness,
the vines of the _Ile de France_ or _vins français_, which agree, he says,
with scholars, invalids, the bourgeois, and all other persons who do not
devote themselves to manual labour; for they do not parch the blood, like
the wines of Gascony, nor fly to the head like those of Orleans and
Château-Thierry; nor do they cause obstructions like those of Bordeaux."
This is also the opinion of Baccius, who in his Latin treatise on the
natural history of wines (1596) asserts that the wines of Paris "are in no
way inferior to those of any other district of the kingdom." These thin
and sour wines, so much esteemed in the first periods of monarchy and so
long abandoned, first lost favour in the reign of Francis I., who
preferred the strong and stimulating productions of the South.

Notwithstanding the great number of excellent wines made in their own
country, the French imported from other lands. In the thirteenth century,
in the "Battle of Wines" we find those of Aquila, Spain, and, above all,
those of Cyprus, spoken of in high terms. A century later, Eustace
Deschamps praised the Rhine wines, and those of Greece, Malmsey, and
Grenache. In an edict of Charles VI. mention is also made of the muscatel,
rosette, and the wine of Lieppe. Generally, the Malmsey which was drunk in
France was an artificial preparation, which had neither the colour nor
taste of the Cyprian wine. Olivier de Serres tells us that in his time it
was made with water, honey, clary juice, beer grounds, and brandy. At
first the same name was used for the natural wine, mulled and spiced,
which was produced in the island of Madeira from the grapes which the
Portuguese brought there from Cyprus in 1420.

The reputation which this wine acquired in Europe induced Francis I. to
import some vines from Greece, and he planted fifty acres with them near
Fontainebleau. It was at first considered that this plant was succeeding
so well, that "there were hopes," says Olivier de Serres, "that France
would soon be able to furnish her own Malmsey and Greek wines, instead of
having to import them from abroad." It is evident, however, that they soon
gave up this delusion, and that for want of the genuine wine they returned
to artificial beverages, such as _vin cuit_, or cooked wine, which had at
all times been cleverly prepared by boiling down new wine and adding
various aromatic herbs to it.

Many wines were made under the name of _herbés_, which were merely
infusions of wormwood, myrtle, hyssop, rosemary, &c., mixed with sweetened
wine and flavoured with honey. The most celebrated of these beverages
bore the pretentious name of "nectar;" those composed of spices, Asiatic
aromatics, and honey, were generally called "white wine," a name
indiscriminately applied to liquors having for their bases some slightly
coloured wine, as well as to the hypocras, which was often composed of a
mixture of foreign liqueurs. This hypocras plays a prominent part in the
romances of chivalry, and was considered a drink of honour, being always
offered to kings, princes, and nobles on their solemn entry into a town.

[Illustration: Fig. 112.--Butler at his Duties.--Fac-simile from a Woodcut
in the "Cosmographie Universelle," of Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

The name of wine was also given to drinks composed of the juices of
certain fruits, and in which grapes were in no way used. These were the
cherry, the currant, the raspberry, and the pomegranate wines; also the
_moré_, made with the mulberry, which was so extolled by the poets of the
thirteenth century. We must also mention the sour wines, which were made
by pouring water on the refuse grapes after the wine had been extracted;
also the drinks made from filberts, milk of almonds, the syrups of
apricots and strawberries, and cherry and raspberry waters, all of which
were refreshing, and were principally used in summer; and, lastly,
_tisane_, sold by the confectioners of Paris, and made hot or cold, with
prepared barley, dried grapes, plums, dates, gum, or liquorice. This
_tisane_ may be considered as the origin of that drink which is now sold
to the poor at a sous a glass, and which most assuredly has not much
improved since olden times.

It was about the thirteenth century that brandy first became known in
France; but it does not appear that it was recognised as a liqueur before
the sixteenth. The celebrated physician Arnauld de Villeneuve, who wrote
at the end of the thirteenth century, to whom credit has wrongly been
given for inventing brandy, employed it as one of his remedies, and thus
expresses himself about it: "Who would have believed that we could have
derived from wine a liquor which neither resembles it in nature, colour,
or effect?.... This _eau de vin_ is called by some _eau de vie_, and justly
so, since it prolongs life.... It prolongs health, dissipates superfluous
matters, revives the spirits, and preserves youth. Alone, or added to some
other proper remedy, it cures colic, dropsy, paralysis, ague, gravel, &c."

At a period when so many doctors, alchemists, and other learned men made
it their principal occupation to try to discover that marvellous golden
fluid which was to free the human race of all its original infirmities,
the discovery of such an elixir could not fail to attract the attention of
all such manufacturers of panaceas. It was, therefore, under the name of
_eau d'or_ (_aqua auri_) that brandy first became known to the world; a
name improperly given to it, implying as it did that it was of mineral
origin, whereas its beautiful golden colour was caused by the addition of
spices. At a later period, when it lost its repute as a medicine, they
actually sprinkled it with pure gold leaves, and at the same time that it
ceased to be exclusively considered as a remedy, it became a favourite
beverage. It was also employed in distilleries, especially as the basis of
various strengthening and exciting liqueurs, most of which have descended
to us, some coming from monasteries and others from châteaux, where they
had been manufactured.

The Kitchen.

Soups, broths, and stews, &c.--The French word _potage_ must originally
have signified a soup composed of vegetables and herbs from the kitchen
garden, but from the remotest times it was applied to soups in general.

As the Gauls, according to Athenæus, generally ate their meat boiled, we
must presume that they made soup with the water in which it was cooked. It
is related that one day Gregory of Tours was sitting at the table of King
Chilpéric, when the latter offered him a soup specially made in his honour
from chicken. The poems of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries mention
soups made of peas, of bacon, of vegetables, and of groats. In the
southern provinces there were soups made of almonds, and of olive oil.
When Du Gueselin went out to fight the English knight William of
Blancbourg in single combat, he first ate three sorts of soup made with
wine, "in honour of the three persons in the Holy Trinity."

[Illustration: Fig. 113.--Interior of a Kitchen of the Sixteenth
Century.--Fac-simile from a Woodcut in the "Calendarium Romanum" of Jean
Staéffler, folio, Tubingen, 1518.]

We find in the "Ménagier," amongst a long list of the common soups the
receipts for which are given, soup made of "dried peas and the water in
which bacon has been boiled," and, in Lent, "salted-whale water;"
watercress soup, cabbage soup, cheese soup, and _gramose_ soup, which was
prepared by adding stewed meat to the water in which meat had already been
boiled, and adding beaten eggs and verjuice; and, lastly, the _souppe
despourvue_, which was rapidly made at the hotels, for unexpected
travellers, and was a sort of soup made from the odds and ends of the
larder. In those days there is no doubt but that hot soup formed an
indispensable part of the daily meals, and that each person took it at
least twice a day, according to the old proverb:--

  "Soupe la soir, soupe le matin,
  C'est l'ordinaire du bon chrétien."

  ("Soup in the evening, and soup in the morning,
  Is the everyday food of a good Christian.")

The cooking apparatus of that period consisted of a whole glittering array
of cauldrons, saucepans, kettles, and vessels of red and yellow copper,
which hardly sufficed for all the rich soups for which France was so
famous. Thence the old proverb, "En France sont les grands soupiers."

But besides these soups, which were in fact looked upon as "common, and
without spice," a number of dishes were served under the generic name of
soup, which constituted the principal luxuries at the great tables in the
fourteenth century, but which do not altogether bear out the names under
which we find them. For instance, there was haricot mutton, a sort of
stew; thin chicken broth; veal broth with herbs; soup made of veal, roe,
stag, wild boar, pork, hare and rabbit soup flavoured with green peas, &c.

The greater number of these soups were very rich, very expensive, several
being served at the same time; and in order to please the eye as well as
the taste they were generally made of various colours, sweetened with
sugar, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and aromatic herbs, such as
marjoram, sage, thyme, sweet basil, savoury, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 114.--Coppersmith, designed and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century by J. Amman.]

These descriptions of soups were perfect luxuries, and were taken instead
of sweets. As a proof of this we must refer to the famous _soupe dorée_,
the description of which is given by Taillevent, head cook of Charles
VII., in the following words, "Toast slices of bread, throw them into a
jelly made of sugar, white wine, yolk of egg, and rosewater; when they are
well soaked fry them, then throw them again into the rosewater and
sprinkle them with sugar and saffron."

[Illustration: Fig. 115.--Kitchen and Table Uensils:--

  1, Carving-knife (Sixteenth Century);
  2, Chalice or Cup, with Cover (Fourteenth Century);
  3, Doubled-handled Pot, in Copper (Ninth Century);
  4, Metal Boiler, or Tin Pot, taken from "L'Histoire de la Belle Hélaine"
    (Fifteenth Century);
  5, Knife (Sixteenth Century);
  6, Pot, with Handles (Fourteenth Century);
  7, Copper Boiler, taken from "L'Histoire de la Belle Hélaine" (Fifteenth
  8, Ewer, with Handle, in Oriental Fashion (Ninth Century);
  9, Pitcher, sculptured, from among the Decorations of the Church of St.
     Benedict, Paris (Fifteenth Century);
 10, Two-branched Candlestick (Sixteenth Century);
 11, Cauldron (Fifteenth Century).

It is possible that even now this kind of soup might find some favour;
but we cannot say the same for those made with mustard, hemp-seed, millet,
verjuice, and a number of others much in repute at that period; for we see
in Rabelais that the French were the greatest soup eaters in the world,
and boasted to be the inventors of seventy sorts.

We have already remarked that broths were in use at the remotest periods,
for, from the time that the practice of boiling various meats was first
adopted, it must have been discovered that the water in which they were so
boiled became savoury and nourishing. "In the time of the great King
Francis I.," says Noël du Fail, in his "Contes d'Eutrapel," "in many
places the saucepan was put on to the table, on which there was only one
other large dish, of beef, mutton, veal, and bacon, garnished with a large
bunch of cooked herbs, the whole of which mixture composed a porridge, and
a real restorer and elixir of life. From this came the adage, 'The soup in
the great pot and the dainties in the hotch-potch.'"

At one time they made what they imagined to be strengthening broths for
invalids, though their virtue must have been somewhat delusive, for, after
having boiled down various materials in a close kettle and at a slow fire,
they then distilled from this, and the water thus obtained was
administered as a sovereign remedy. The common sense of Bernard Palissy
did not fail to make him see this absurdity, and to protest against this
ridiculous custom: "Take a capon," he says, "a partridge, or anything
else, cook it well, and then if you smell the broth you will find it very
good, and if you taste it you will find it has plenty of flavour; so much
so that you will feel that it contains something to invigorate you. Distil
this, on the contrary, and take the water then collected and taste it, and
you will find it insipid, and without smell except that of burning. This
should convince you that your restorer does not give that nourishment to
the weak body for which you recommend it as a means of making good blood,
and restoring and strengthening the spirits."

The taste for broths made of flour was formerly almost universal in France
and over the whole of Europe; it is spoken of repeatedly in the histories
and annals of monasteries; and we know that the Normans, who made it their
principal nutriment, were surnamed _bouilleux_. They were indeed almost
like the Romans who in olden times, before their wars with eastern
nations, gave up making bread, and ate their corn simply boiled in water.

In the fourteenth century the broths and soups were made with
millet-flour and mixed wheats. The pure wheat flour was steeped in milk
seasoned with sugar, saffron, honey, sweet wine or aromatic herbs, and
sometimes butter, fat, and yolks of eggs were added. It was on account of
this that the bread of the ancients so much resembled cakes, and it was
also from this fact that the art of the pastrycook took its rise.

Wheat made into gruel for a long time was an important ingredient in
cooking, being the basis of a famous preparation called _fromentée_, which
was a _bouillie_ of milk, made creamy by the addition of yolks of eggs,
and which served as a liquor in which to roast meats and fish. There were,
besides, several sorts of _fromentée_, all equally esteemed, and
Taillevent recommended the following receipt, which differs from the one
above given:--"First boil your wheat in water, then put into it the juice
or gravy of fat meat, or, if you like it better, milk of almonds, and by
this means you will make a soup fit for fasts, because it dissolves
slowly, is of slow digestion and nourishes much. In this way, too, you can
make _ordiat_, or barley soup, which is more generally approved than the
said _fromentée_."

[Illustration: Fig. 116.--Interior of a Kitchen.--Fac-simile from a
Woodcut in the "Calendarium Romanum" of J. Staéffler, folio, Tubingen,

Semolina, vermicelli, macaroni, &c., which were called Italian because
they originally came from that country, have been in use in France longer
than is generally supposed. They were first introduced after the
expedition of Charles VIII. into Italy, and the conquest of the kingdom of
Naples; that is, in the reign of Louis XII., or the first years of the
sixteenth century.

Pies, Stews, Roasts, Salads, &c.--Pastry made with fat, which might be
supposed to have been the invention of modern kitchens, was in great
repute amongst our ancestors. The manufacture of sweet and savoury pastry
was intrusted to the care of the good _ménagiers_ of all ranks and
conditions, and to the corporation of pastrycooks, who obtained their
statutes only in the middle of the sixteenth century; the united skill of
these, both in Paris and in the provinces, multiplied the different sorts
of tarts and meat pies to a very great extent. So much was this the case
that these ingenious productions became a special art, worthy of rivalling
even cookery itself (Figs. 117, 118, and 130). One of the earliest known
receipts for making pies is that of Gaces de la Bigne, first chaplain of
Kings John, Charles V., and Charles VI. We find it in a sporting poem, and
it deserves to be quoted verbatim as a record of the royal kitchen of the
fourteenth century. It will be observed on perusing it that nothing was
spared either in pastry or in cookery, and that expense was not considered
when it was a question of satisfying the appetite.

  "Trois perdriaulx gros et reffais
  Au milieu du paté me mets;
  Mais gardes bien que tu ne failles
  A moi prendre six grosses cailles,
  De quoi tu les apuyeras.
  Et puis après tu me prendras
  Une douzaine d'alouètes
  Qu'environ les cailles me mettes,
  Et puis pendras de ces machés
  Et de ces petits oiselés:
  Selon ce que tu en auras,
  Le paté m'en billeteras.
  Or te fault faire pourvéance
  D'un pen de lart, sans point de rance,
  Que tu tailleras comme dé:
  S'en sera le pasté pouldré.
  S tu le veux de bonne guise,
  Du vertjus la grappe y soit mise,
  D'un bien peu de sel soit pouldré ...
  ... Fay mettre des oeufs en la paste,
  Les croutes un peu rudement
  Faictes de flour de pur froment ...
  ... N'y mets espices ni fromaige ...
  Au four bien à point chaud le met,
  Qui de cendre ait l'atre bien net;
  E quand sera bien à point cuit,
  I n'est si bon mangier, ce cuit."

  ("Put me in the middle of the pie three young partridges large and fat;
  But take good care not to fail to take six fine quail to put by their
  After that you must take a dozen skylarks, which round the quail you must
  And then you must take some thrushes and such other little birds as you
    can get to garnish the pie.
  Further, you must provide yourself with a little bacon, which must not be
    in the least rank (reasty), and you must cut it into pieces of the size
    of a die, and sprinkle them into the pie.
  If you want it to be in quite good form, you must put some sour grapes in
    and a very little salt ...
  ... Have eggs put into the paste, and the crust made rather hard of the
    flour of pure wheat.
  Put in neither spice nor cheese ...
  Put it into the oven just at the proper heat,
  The bottom of which must be quite free from ashes;
  And when it is baked enough, isn't that a dish to feast on!")

From this period all treatises on cookery are full of the same kind of
receipts for making "pies of young chickens, of fresh venison, of veal, of
eels, of bream and salmon, of young rabbits, of pigeons, of small birds,
of geese, and of _narrois_" (a mixture of cod's liver and hashed fish). We
may mention also the small pies, which were made of minced beef and
raisins, similar to our mince pies, and which were hawked in the streets
of Paris, until their sale was forbidden, because the trade encouraged
greediness on the one hand and laziness on the other.

Ancient pastries, owing to their shapes, received the name of _tourte_ or
_tarte_, from the Latin _torta_, a large hunch of bread. This name was
afterwards exclusively used for hot pies, whether they contained
vegetables, meat, or fish. But towards the end of the fourteenth century
_tourte_ and _tarte_ was applied to pastry containing, herbs, fruits, or
preserves, and _pâté_ to those containing any kind of meat, game, or fish.

[Illustration: Fig. 117.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of

[Illustration: Fig. 118.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of

It was only in the course of the sixteenth century that the name of
_potage_ ceased to be applied to stews, whose number equalled their
variety, for on a bill of fare of a banquet of that period we find more
than fifty different sorts of _potages_ mentioned. The greater number of
these dishes have disappeared from our books on cookery, having gone out
of fashion; but there are two stews which were popular during many
centuries, and which have maintained their reputation, although they do
not now exactly represent what they formerly did. The _pot-pourri_, which
was composed of veal, beef, mutton, bacon, and vegetables, and the
_galimafrée_, a fricassee of poultry, sprinkled with verjuice, flavoured
with spices, and surrounded by a sauce composed of vinegar, bread crumbs,
cinnamon, ginger, &c. (Fig. 119).

The highest aim of the cooks of the Taillevent school was to make dishes
not only palatable, but also pleasing to the eye. These masters in the art
of cooking might be said to be both sculptors and painters, so much did
they decorate their works, their object being to surprise or amuse the
guests by concealing the real nature of the disbes. Froissart, speaking of
a repast given in his time, says that there were a number of "dishes so
curious and disguised that it was impossible to guess what they were." For
instance, the bill of fare above referred to mentions a lion and a sun
made of white chicken, a pink jelly, with diamond-shaped points; and, as
if the object of cookery was to disguise food and deceive epicures,
Taillevent facetiously gives us a receipt for making fried or roast butter
and for cooking eggs on the spit.

[Illustration: Fig. 119.--Interior of Italian Kitchen.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the Book on Cookery of Christoforo di Messisburgo, "Banchetti
compositioni di Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549.]

The roasts were as numerous as the stews. A treatise of the fourteenth
century names about thirty, beginning with a sirloin of beef, which must
have been one of the most common, and ending with a swan, which appeared
on table in full plumage. This last was the triumph of cookery, inasmuch
as it presented this magnificent bird to the eyes of the astonished guests
just as if he were living and swimming. His beak was gilt, his body
silvered, resting 'on a mass of brown pastry, painted green in order to
represent a grass field. Eight banners of silk were placed round, and a
cloth of the same material served as a carpet for the whole dish, which
towered above the other appointments of the table.

[Illustration: Fig. 120.--Hunting-Meal.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (National Library of Paris).]

The peacock, which was as much thought of then as it is little valued now,
was similarly arrayed, and was brought to table amidst a flourish of
trumpets and the applause of all present. The modes of preparing other
roasts much resembled the present system in their simplicity, with this
difference, that strong meats were first boiled to render them tender, and
no roast was ever handed over to the skill of the carver without first
being thoroughly basted with orange juice and rose water, and covered with
sugar and powdered spices.

We must not forget to mention the broiled dishes, the invention of which
is attributed to hunters, and which Rabelais continually refers to as
acting as stimulants and irresistibly exciting the thirst for wine at the
sumptuous feasts of those voracious heroes (Fig. 120).

The custom of introducing salads after roasts was already established in
the fifteenth century. However, a salad, of whatever sort, was never
brought to table in its natural state; for, besides the raw herbs, dressed
in the same manner as in our days, it contained several mixtures, such as
cooked vegetables, and the crests, livers, or brains of poultry. After the
salads fish was served; sometimes fried, sometimes sliced with eggs or
reduced to a sort of pulp, which was called _carpée_ or _charpie_, and
sometimes it was boiled in water or wine, with strong seasoning. Near the
salads, in the course of the dinner, dishes of eggs prepared in various
ways were generally served. Many of these are now in use, such as the
poached egg, the hard-boiled egg, egg sauce, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 121.--Shop of a Grocer and Druggist, from a Stamp of Vriese
(Seventeenth Century).]

Seasonings.--We have already stated that the taste for spices much
increased in Europe after the Crusades; and in this rapid historical
sketch of the food of the French people in the Middle Ages it must have
been observed to what an extent this taste had become developed in France
(Fig. 121). This was the origin of sauces, all, or almost all, of which
were highly spiced, and were generally used with boiled, roast, or grilled
meats. A few of these sauces, such as the yellow, the green, and the
_caméline_, became so necessary in cooking that numerous persons took to
manufacturing them by wholesale, and they were hawked in the streets of

These sauce-criers were first called _saulciers_, then
_vinaigriers-moustardiers_, and when Louis XII. united them in a body, as
their business had considerably increased, they were termed
_sauciers-moutardiers-vinaigriers_, distillers of brandy and spirits of
wine, and _buffetiers_ (from _buffet_, a sideboard).

[Illustration: Fig. 122.--The Cook, drawn and engraved, in the Sixteenth
Century, by J. Amman.]

But very soon the corporation became divided, no doubt from the force of
circumstances; and on one side we find the distillers, and on the other
the master-cooks and cooks, or _porte-chapes_, as they were called,
because, when they carried on their business of cooking, they covered
their dishes with a _chape_, that is, a cope or tin cover (Fig. 122), so
as to keep them warm.

The list of sauces of the fourteenth century, given by the "Ménagier de
Paris," is most complicated; but, on examining the receipts, it becomes
clear that the variety of those preparations, intended to sharpen the
appetite, resulted principally from the spicy ingredients with which they
were flavoured; and it is here worthy of remark that pepper, in these days
exclusively obtained from America, was known and generally used long
before the time of Columbus. It is mentioned in a document, of the time
of Clotaire III. (660); and it is clear, therefore, that before the
discovery of the New World pepper and spices were imported into Europe
from the East.

Mustard, which was an ingredient in so many dishes, was cultivated and
manufactured in the thirteenth century in the neighbourhood of Dijon and

According to a popular adage, garlic was the medicine (_thériaque_) of
peasants; town-people for a long time greatly appreciated _aillée_, which
was a sauce made of garlic, and sold ready prepared in the streets of

The custom of using anchovies as a flavouring is also very ancient. This
was also done with _botargue_ and _cavial_, two sorts of side-dishes,
which consisted of fishes' eggs, chiefly mullet and sturgeon, properly
salted or dried, and mixed with fresh or pickled olives. The olives for
the use of the lower orders were brought from Languedoc and Provence,
whereas those for the rich were imported from Spain and some from Syria.
It was also from the south of France that the rest of the kingdom was
supplied with olive oil, for which, to this day, those provinces have
preserved their renown; but as early as the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries oil of walnuts was brought from the centre of France to Paris,
and this, although cheaper, was superseded by oil extracted from the

Truffles, though known and esteemed by the ancients, disappeared from the
gastronomie collection of our forefathers. It was only in the fourteenth
century that they were again introduced, but evidently without a knowledge
of their culinary qualities, since, after being preserved in vinegar, they
were soaked in hot water, and afterwards served up in butter. We may also
here mention sorrel and the common mushroom, which were used in cooking
during the Middle Ages.

On the strength of the old proverb, "Sugar has never spoiled sauce," sugar
was put into all sauces which were not _piquantes_, and generally some
perfumed water was added to them, such as rose-water. This was made in
great quantities by exposing to the sun a basin full of water, covered
over by another basin of glass, under which was a little vase containing
rose-leaves. This rose-water was added to all stews, pastries, and
beverages. It is very doubtful as to the period at which white lump sugar
became known in the West. However, in an account of the house of the
Dauphin Viennois (1333) mention is made of "white sugar;" and the author
of the "Ménagier de Paris" frequently speaks of this white sugar, which,
before the discovery, or rather colonisation, of America, was brought,
ready refined, from the Grecian islands, and especially from Candia.

[Illustration: Fig. 123.--The _Issue de Table_.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in the Treatise of Christoforo di Messisburgo, "Banchetti compositioni di
Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549.]

Verjuice, or green juice, which, with vinegar, formed the essential basis
of sauces, and is now extracted from a species of green grape, which never
ripens, was originally the juice of sorrel; another sort was extracted by
pounding the green blades of wheat. Vinegar was originally merely soured
wine, as the word _vin-aigre_ denotes. The mode of manufacturing it by
artificial means, in order to render the taste more pungent and the
quality better, is very ancient. It is needless to state that it was
scented by the infusion of herbs or flowers--roses, elder, cloves, &c.;
but it was not much before the sixteenth century that it was used for
pickling herbs or fruits and vegetables, such as gherkins, onions,
cucumber, purslain, &c.

Salt, which from the remotest periods was the condiment _par excellence_,
and the trade in which had been free up to the fourteenth century, became,
from that period, the subject of repeated taxation. The levying of these
taxes was a frequent cause of tumult amongst the people, who saw with
marked displeasure the exigencies of the excise gradually raising the
price of an article of primary necessity. We have already mentioned times
during which the price of salt was so exorbitant that the rich alone could
put it in their bread. Thus, in the reign of Francis I., it was almost as
dear as Indian spices.

Sweet Dishes, Desserts, &c.--In the fourteenth century, the first courses
of a repast were called _mets_ or _assiettes_; the last, "_entremets,
dorures, issue de table, desserte_, and _boule-hors_."

The dessert consisted generally of baked pears, medlars, pealed walnuts,
figs, dates, peaches, grapes, filberts, spices, and white or red

At the _issue de table_ wafers or some other light pastry were introduced,
which were eaten with the hypocras wine. The _boute-hors,_ which was
served when the guests, after having washed their hands and said grace,
had passed into the drawing-room, consisted of spices, different from
those which had appeared at dessert, and intended specially to assist the
digestion; and for this object they must have been much needed,
considering that a repast lasted several hours. Whilst eating these spices
they drank Grenache, Malmsey, or aromatic wines (Fig. 123).

It was only at the banquets and great repeats that sweet dishes and
_dorures_ appeared, and they seem to have been introduced for the purpose
of exhibiting the power of the imagination and the talent in execution of
the master-cook.

The _dorures_ consisted of jellies of all sorts and colours; swans,
peacocks, bitterns, and herons, on gala feasts, were served in full
feather on a raised platform in the middle of the table, and hence the
name of "raised dishes." As for the side-dishes, properly so called, the
long list collected in the "Ménagier" shows us that they were served at
table indiscriminately, for stuffed chickens at times followed hashed
porpoise in sauce, lark pies succeeded lamb sausages, and pike's-eggs
fritters appeared after orange preserve.

At a later period the luxury of side-dishes consisted in the quantity and
in the variety of the pastry; Rabelais names sixteen different sorts at
one repast; Taillevent mentions pastry called _covered pastry,
Bourbonnaise pastry, double-faced pastry, pear pastry_, and _apple
pastry_; Platina speaks of the _white pastry_ with quince, elder flowers,
rice, roses, chestnuts, &c. The fashion of having pastry is, however, of
very ancient date, for in the book of the "Proverbs" of the thirteenth
century, we find that the pies of Dourlens and the pastry of Chartres were
then in great celebrity.

[Illustration: Fig. 124.--The Table of a Baron, as laid out in the
Thirteenth Century.--Miniature from the "Histoire de St. Graal"
(Manuscript from the Imperial Library, Paris).]

In a charter of Robert le Bouillon, Bishop of Amiens, in 1311, mention is
made of a cake composed of puff flaky paste; these cakes, however, are
less ancient than the firm pastry called bean cake, or king's cake, which,
from the earliest days of monarchy, appeared on all the tables, not only
at the feast of the Epiphany, but also on every festive occasion.

Amongst the dry and sweet pastries from the small oven which appeared at
the _issue de table_, the first to be noticed were those made of almonds,
nuts, &c., and such choice morsels, which were very expensive; then came
the cream or cheesecakes, the _petits choux_, made of butter and eggs; the
_échaudés_, of which the people were very fond, and St. Louis even
allowed the bakers to cook them on Sundays and feast days for the poor;
wafers, which are older than the thirteenth century; and lastly the
_oublies_, which, under the names of _nieules, esterets_, and
_supplications_, gave rise to such an extensive trade that a corporation
was established in Paris, called the _oublayeurs, oublayers,_ or
_oublieux_, whose statutes directed that none should be admitted to
exercise the trade unless he was able to make in one day 500 large
_oublies_, 300 _supplications_, and 200 _esterets_.

Repasts and Feasts.

We have had to treat elsewhere of the rules and regulations of the repasts
under the Merovingian and Carlovingian kings. We have also spoken of the
table service of the thirteenth century (see chapter on "Private Life").
The earliest author who has left us any documents on this curious subject
is that excellent bourgeois to whom we owe the "Ménagier de Paris." He
describes, for instance, in its fullest details, a repast which was given
in the fourteenth century by the Abbé de Lagny, to the Bishop of Paris,
the President of the Parliament, the King's attorney and advocate, and
other members of his council, in all sixteen guests. We find from this
account that "my lord of Paris, occupying the place of honour, was, in
consequence of his rank, served on covered dishes by three of his squires,
as was the custom for the King, the royal princes, the dukes, and peers;
that Master President, who was seated by the side of the bishop, was also
served by one of his own servants, but on uncovered dishes, and the other
guests were seated at table according to the order indicated by their
titles or charges."

The bill of fare of this feast, which was given on a fast-day, is the more
worthy of attention, in that it proves to us what numerous resources
cookery already possessed. This was especially the case as regards fish,
notwithstanding that the transport of fresh sea-fish was so difficult,
owing to the bad state of the roads.

First, a quarter of a pint of Grenache was given to each guest on sitting
down, then "hot _eschaudés_, roast apples with white sugar-plums upon
them, roasted figs, sorrel and watercress, and rosemary."

"Soups.--A rich soup, composed of six trout, six tenches, white herring,
freshwater eels, salted twenty-four hours, and three whiting, soaked
twelve hours; almonds, ginger, saffron, cinnamon powder and sweetmeats.

"Salt-Water Fish.--Soles, gurnets, congers, turbots, and salmon.

"Fresh-Water Fish.--_Lux faudis_ (pike with roe), carps from the Marne,

"Side-Dishes.--Lampreys _à la boee_, orange-apples (one for each guest),
porpoise with sauce, mackerel, soles, bream, and shad _à la cameline_,
with verjuice, rice and fried almonds upon them; sugar and apples.

[Illustration: Fig. 125.--Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the
Imperial Court: Cup-bearer, Cook, Barber, and Tailor, from a Picture in
the "Triomphe de Maximilien T.," engraved by J. Resch, Burgmayer, and
others (1512), from Drawings by Albert Durer.]

"Dessert.--Stewed fruit with white and vermilion sugar-plums; figs, dates,
grapes, and filberts.

"Hypocras for _issue de table_, with _oublies_ and _supplications_.

"Wines and spices compose the _baute-hors_."

To this fasting repast we give by way of contrast the bill of fare at the
nuptial feast of Master Helye, "to which forty guests were bidden on a
Tuesday in May, a 'day of flesh.'"

"Soups.--Capons with white sauce, ornamented with pomegranate and crimson

"Roasts.--Quarter of roe-deer, goslings, young chickens, and sauces of
orange, cameline, and verjuice.

"Side-Dishes.--Jellies of crayfish and loach; young rabbits and pork.

"Dessert.--_Froumentée_ and venison.


"Boute-Hors.--Wine and spices."

The clever editor of the "Ménagier de Paris," M. le Baron Jerôme Pichon,
after giving us this curious account of the mode of living of the citizens
of that day, thus sums up the whole arrangements for the table in the
fourteenth century: "The different provisions necessary for food are
usually entrusted to the squires of the kitchen, and were chosen,
purchased, and paid for by one or more of these officials, assisted by the
cooks. The dishes prepared by the cooks were placed, by the help of the
esquires, on dressers in the kitchen until the moment of serving. Thence
they were carried to the tables. Let us imagine a vast hall hung with
tapestries and other brilliant stuffs. The tables are covered with fringed
table-cloths, and strewn with odoriferous herbs; one of them, called the
Great Table, is reserved for the persons of distinction. The guests are
taken to their seats by two butlers, who bring them water to wash. The
Great Table is laid out by a butler, with silver salt-cellars (Figs. 126
and 127), golden goblets with lids for the high personages, spoons and
silver drinking cups. The guests eat at least certain dishes on
_tranchoirs_, or large slices of thick bread, afterwards thrown into vases
called _couloueres_ (drainers). For the other tables the salt is placed on
pieces of bread, scooped out for that purpose by the intendants, who are
called _porte-chappes._ In the hall is a dresser covered with plate and
various kinds of wine. Two squires standing near this dresser give the
guests clean spoons, pour out what wine they ask for, and remove the
silver when used; two other squires superintend the conveyance of wine to
the dresser; a varlet placed under their orders is occupied with nothing
but drawing wine from the casks." At that time wine was not bottled, and
they drew directly from the cask the amount necessary for the day's
consumption. "The dishes, consisting of three, four, five, and even six
courses, called _mets_ or _assiettes_, are brought in by varlets and two
of the principal squires, and in certain wedding-feasts the bridegroom
walked in front of them. The dishes are placed on the table by an
_asséeur_ (placer), assisted by two servants. The latter take away the
remains at the conclusion of the course, and hand them over to the
squires of the kitchen who have charge of them. After the _mets_ or
_assiettes_ the table-cloths are changed, and the _entremets_ are then
brought in. This course is the most brilliant of the repast, and at some
of the princely banquets the dishes are made to imitate a sort of
theatrical representation. It is composed of sweet dishes, of coloured
jellies of swans, of peacocks, or of pheasants adorned with their
feathers, having the beak and feet gilt, and placed on the middle of the
table on a sort of pedestal. To the _entremets_, a course which does not
appear on all bills of fare, succeeds the dessert. The _issue_, or exit
from table, is mostly composed of hypocras and a sort of _oublie_ called
_mestier_; or, in summer, when hypocras is out of season on account of its
strength, of apples, cheeses, and sometimes of pastries and sweetmeats.
The _boute-hors_ (wines and spices) end the repast. The guests then wash
their hands, say grace, and pass into the _chambre de parement_ or
drawing-room. The servants then sit down and dine after their masters.
They subsequently bring the guests wine and _épices de chambre_, after
which each retires home."

[Illustration: Figs. 126 and 127.--Sides of an Enamelled Salt-cellar, with
six facings representing the Labours of Hercules, made at Limoges, by
Pierre Raymond, for Francis I.]

But all the pomp and magnificence of the feasts of this period would have
appeared paltry a century later, when royal banquets were managed by
Taillevent, head cook to Charles VII. The historian of French cookery,
Legrand d'Aussy, thus desoribes a great feast given in 1455 by the Count
of Anjou, third son of Louis II., King of Sicily:--

"On the table was placed a centre-piece, which represented a green lawn,
surrounded with large peacocks' feathers and green branches, to which were
tied violets and other sweet-smelling flowers. In the middle of this lawn
a fortress was placed, covered with silver. This was hollow, and formed a
sort of cage, in which several live birds were shut up, their tufts and
feet being gilt. On its tower, which was gilt, three banners were placed,
one bearing the arms of the count, the two others those of Mesdemoiselles
de Châteaubrun and de Villequier, in whose honour the feast was given.

"The first course consisted of a civet of hare, a quarter of stag which
had been a night in salt, a stuffed chicken, and a loin of veal. The two
last dishes were covered with a German sauce, with gilt sugar-plums, and
pomegranate seeds.... At each end, outside the green lawn, was an enormous
pie, surmounted with smaller pies, which formed a crown. The crust of the
large ones was silvered all round and gilt at the top; each contained a
whole roe-deer, a gosling, three capons, six chickens, ten pigeons, one
young rabbit, and, no doubt to serve as seasoning or stuffing, a minced
loin of veal, two pounds of fat, and twenty-six hard-boiled eggs, covered
with saffron and flavoured with cloves. For the three following courses,
there was a roe-deer, a pig, a sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar, and
covered with powdered ginger; a kid, two goslings, twelve chickens, as
many pigeons, six young rabbits, two herons, a leveret, a fat capon
stuffed, four chickens covered with yolks of eggs and sprinkled with
powder _de Duc_ (spice), a wild boar, some wafers (_darioles_), and stars;
a jelly, part white and part red, representing the crests of the three
above-mentioned persons; cream with _Duc_ powder, covered with fennel
seeds preserved in sugar; a white cream, cheese in slices, and
strawberries; and, lastly, plums stewed in rose-water. Besides these four
courses, there was a fifth, entirely composed of the prepared wines then
in vogue, and of preserves. These consisted of fruits and various sweet
pastries. The pastries represented stags and swans, to the necks of which
were suspended the arms of the Count of Anjou and those of the two young

In great houses, dinner was announced by the sound of the hunting-horn;
this is what Froissard calls _corner l'assiette,_ but which was at an
earlier period called _corner l'eau_, because it was the custom to wash
the hands before sitting down to table as well as on leaving the

[Illustration: Fig. 128.--Knife-handles in Sculptured Ivory, Sixteenth
Century (Collection of M. Becker, of Frankfort).]

[Illustration: Fig. 129.--Nut-crackers, in Boxwood, Sixteenth Century
(Collection of M. Achille Jubinal).]

For these ablutions scented water, and especially rose-water, was used,
brought in ewers of precious and delicately wrought metals, by pages or
squires, who handed them to the ladies in silver basins. It was at about
this period, that is, in the times of chivalry, that the custom of placing
the guests by couples was introduced, generally a gentleman and lady, each
couple having but one cup and one plate; hence the expression, to eat from
the same plate.

Historians relate that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, at
certain gala feasts, the dishes were brought in by servants in full
armour, mounted on caparisoned horses; but this is a custom exclusively
attached to chivalry. As early as those days, powerful and ingenious
machines were in use, which lowered from the story above, or raised from
that below, ready-served tables, which were made to disappear after use as
if by enchantment.

At that period the table service of the wealthy required a considerable
staff of retainers and varlets; and, at a later period, this number was
much increased. Thus, for instance, when Louis of Orleans went on a
diplomatic mission to Germany from his brother Charles VI., this prince,
in order that France might be worthily represented abroad, raised the
number of his household to more than two hundred and fifty persons, of
whom about one hundred were retainers and table attendants. Olivier de la
Marche, who, in his "Mémoires," gives the most minute details of the
ceremonial of the court of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, tells us
that the table service was as extensive as in the other great princely

This extravagant and ruinous pomp fell into disuse during the reigns of
Louis XI., Charles VIII., and Louis XII., but reappeared in that of
Francis I. This prince, after his first wars in Italy, imported the
cookery and the gastronomic luxury of that country, where the art of good
living, especially in Venice, Florence, and Rome, had reached the highest
degree of refinement and magnificence. Henry II. and Francis II.
maintained the magnificence of their royal tables; but after them,
notwithstanding the soft effeminacy of the manners at court, the continued
wars which Henry III. and Charles IX. had to sustain in their own states
against the Protestants and the League necessitated a considerable economy
in the households and tables of those kings.

"It was only by fits and starts," says Brantôme, "that one was well fed
during this reign, for very often circumstances prevented the proper
preparation of the repasts; a thing much disliked by the courtiers, who
prefer open table to be kept at both court and with the army, because it
then costs them nothing." Henry IV. was neither fastidious nor greedy; we
must therefore come down to the reign of Louis XIII. to find a vestige of
the splendour of the banquets of Francis I.

[Illustration: Fig. 130.--Grand Ceremonial Banquet at the Court of France
in the Fourteenth Century, archaeological Restoration from Miniatures and
Narratives of the Period.

From the "Dictionnaire du Mobilier Français" of M. Viollet-Leduc.]

From the establishment of the Franks in Gaul down to the fifteenth century
inclusive, there were but two meals a day; people dined at ten o'clock in
the morning, and supped at four in the afternoon. In the sixteenth century
they put back dinner one hour and supper three hours, to which many people
objected. Hence the old proverb:--

  "Lever à six, dîner à dix,
  Souper à six, coucher à dix,
  Fait vivre l'homme dix fois dix."

  ("To rise at six, dine at ten,
  Sup at six, to bed at ten,
  Makes man live ten times ten.")

[Illustration: Fig. 131.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of


  Venery and Hawking.--Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle.--Gaston Phoebus and his
  Book.--The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen.--Sporting Societies and
  Brotherhoods.--Sporting Kings: Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XI.,
  Charles VIII., Louis XII., Francis I., &c.--Treatise on
  Venery.--Sporting Popes.--Origin of Hawking.--Training Birds.--Hawking
  Retinues.--Book of King Modus.--Technical Terms used in
  Hawking.--Persons who have excelled in this kind of Sport.--Fowling.

By the general term hunting is included the three distinct branches of an
art, or it may be called a science, which dates its origin from the
earliest times, but which was particularly esteemed in the Middle Ages,
and was especially cultivated in the glorious days of chivalry.

_Venery_, which is the earliest, is defined by M. Elzéar Blaze as "the
science of snaring, taking, or killing one particular animal from amongst
a herd." _Hawking_ came next. This was not only the art of hunting with
the falcon, but that of training birds of prey to hunt feathered game.
Lastly, _l'oisellerie_ (fowling), which, according to the author of
several well-known works on the subject we are discussing, had originally
no other object than that of protecting the crops and fruits from birds
and other animals whose nature it was to feed on them.

Venery will be first considered. Sportsmen always pride themselves in
placing Xenophon, the general, philosopher, and historian, at the head of
sporting writers, although his treatise on the chase (translated from the
Greek into Latin under the title of "De Venatione"), which gives excellent
advice respecting the training of dogs, only speaks of traps and nets for
capturing wild animals. Amongst the Greeks Arrian and Oppian, and amongst
the Romans, Gratius Faliscus and Nemesianus, wrote on the same subject.
Their works, however, except in a few isolated or scattered passages, do
not contain anything about venery properly so called, and the first
historical information on the subject is to be found in the records of the
seventh century.

Long after that period, however, they still hunted, as it were, at random,
attacking the first animal they met. The sports of Charlemagne, for
instance, were almost always of this description. On some occasions they
killed animals of all sorts by thousands, after having tracked and driven
them into an enclosure composed of cloths or nets.

This illustrious Emperor, although usually at war in all parts of Europe,
never missed an opportunity of hunting: so much so that it might be said
that he rested himself by galloping through the forests. He was on these
occasions not only followed by a large number of huntsmen and attendants
of his household, but he was accompanied by his wife and daughters,
mounted on magnificent coursers, and surrounded by a numerous and elegant
court, who vied with each other in displaying their skill and courage in
attacking the fiercest animals.

It is even stated that Aix-la-Chapelle owes its origin to a hunting
adventure of Charlemagne. The Emperor one day while chasing a stag
required to cross a brook which came in his path, but immediately his
horse had set his foot in the water he pulled it out again and began to
limp as if it were hurt. His noble rider dismounted, and on feeling the
foot found it was quite hot. This induced him to put his hand into the
water, which he found to be almost boiling. On that very spot therefore he
caused a chapel to be erected, in the shape of a horse's hoof. The town
was afterwards built, and to this day the spring of hot mineral water is
enclosed under a rotunda, the shape of which reminds one of the old legend
of Charlemagne and his horse.

The sons of Charlemagne also held hunting in much esteem, and by degrees
the art of venery was introduced and carried to great perfection. It was
not, however, until the end of the thirteenth century that an anonymous
author conceived the idea of writing its principal precepts in an
instructive poem, called "Le Dict de la Chace du Cerf." In 1328 another
anonymous writer composed the "Livre du Roy Modus," which contains the
rules for hunting all furred animals, from the stag to the hare. Then
followed other poets and writers of French prose, such as Gace de la Vigne
(1359), Gaston Phoebus (1387), and Hardouin, lord of Fontaine-Guérin
(1394). None of these, however, wrote exclusively on venery, but described
the different sports known in their day. Towards 1340, Alphonse XI., king
of Castile, caused a book on hunting to be compiled for his use; but it
was not so popular as the instruction of Gaston Phoebus (Fig. 132). If
hunting with hounds is known everywhere by the French name of the chase,
it is because the honour of having organized it into a system, if not of
having originated it, is due to the early French sporting authors, who
were able to form a code of rules for it. This also accounts for so many
of the technical terms now in use in venery being of French origin, as
they are no others than those adopted by these ancient authors, whose
works, so to speak, have perpetuated them.

[Illustration: Fig. 132.--Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of
Venery.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of "Phoebus and his Staff for Hunting
Wild Animals and Birds of Prey" (Manuscript, Fifteenth Century, National
Library of Paris)]

[Illustration: Fig. 133.--"How to carry a Cloth to approach
Beasts."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

The curious miniatures which accompany the text in the original manuscript
of Gaston Phoebus, and which have been reproduced in nearly all the
ancient copies of this celebrated manuscript, give most distinct and
graphic ideas of the various modes of hunting. We find, for instance, that
the use of an artificial cow for approaching wild-fowl was understood at
that time, the only difference being that a model was used more like a
horse than a cow (Fig. 133); we also see sportsmen shooting at bears, wild
boars, stags, and such live animals with arrows having sharp iron points,
intended to enter deep into the flesh, notwithstanding the thickness of
the fur and the creature's hard skin. In the case of the hare, however,
the missile had a heavy, massive end, probably made of lead, which stunned
him without piercing his body (Fig. 134). In other cases the sportsman is
represented with a crossbow seated in a cart, all covered up with boughs,
by which plan he was supposed to approach the prey without alarming it
any more than a swinging branch would do (Fig. 135).

Gaston Phoebus is known to have been one of the bravest knights of his
time; and, after fighting, he considered hunting as his greatest delight.
Somewhat ingenuously he writes of himself as a hunter, "that he doubts
having any superior." Like all his contemporaries, he is eloquent as to
the moral effect of his favourite pastime. "By hunting," he says, "one
avoids the sin of indolence; and, according to our faith, he who avoids
the seven mortal sins will be saved; therefore the good sportsman will be

[Illustration: Fig. 134.--"How to allure the Hare."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century).]

From the earliest ages sportsmen placed themselves under the protection of
some special deity. Among the Greeks and Romans it was Diana and Phoebe.
The Gauls, who had adopted the greater number of the gods and goddesses of
Rome, invoked the moon when they sallied forth to war or to the chase;
but, as soon as they penetrated the sacred obscurity of the forests, they
appealed more particularly to the goddess _Ardhuina_, whose name, of
unknown origin, has probably since been applied to the immense
well-stocked forests of Ardenne or Ardennes. They erected in the depths of
the woods monstrous stone figures in honour of this goddess, such as the
heads of stags on the bodies of men or women; and, to propitiate her
during the chase, they hung round these idols the feet, the skins, and the
horns of the beasts they killed. Cernunnos, who was always represented
with a human head surmounted by stags' horns, had an altar even in
Lutetia, which was, no doubt, in consequence of the great woods which
skirted the banks of the Seine.

[Illustration: Fig. 135.--"How to take a Cart to allure
Beasts."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

The Gallic Cernunnos, which we also find among the Romans, since Ovid
mentions the votary stags' horns, continued to be worshipped to a certain
extent after the establishment of the Christian religion. In the fifth
century, Germain, an intrepid hunter, who afterwards became Bishop of
Auxerre, possessed not far from his residence an oak of enormous diameter,
a thorough Cernunnos, which he hung with the skins and other portions of
animals he had killed in the chase. In some countries, where the Cernunnos
remained an object of veneration, everybody bedecked it in the same way.
The largest oak to be found in the district was chosen on which to suspend
the trophies both of warriors and of hunters; and, at a more recent
period, sportsmen used to hang outside their doors stags' heads, boars'
feet, birds of prey, and other trophies, a custom which evidently was a
relic of the one referred to.

On pagan idolatry being abandoned, hunters used to have a presiding
genius or protector, whom they selected from amongst the saints most in
renown. Some chose St. Germain d'Auxerre, who had himself been a
sportsman; others St. Martin, who had been a soldier before he became
Bishop of Tours. Eventually they all agreed to place themselves under the
patronage of St. Hubert, Bishop of Liège, a renowned hunter of the eighth
century. This saint devoted himself to a religious life, after one day
haying encountered a miraculous stag whilst hunting in the woods, which
appeared to him as bearing between his horns a luminous image of our
Saviour. At first the feast of St. Hubert was celebrated four times a
year, namely, at the anniversaries of his conversion and death, and on the
two occasions on which his relics were exhibited. At the celebration of
each of these feasts a large number of sportsmen in "fine apparel" came
from great distances with their horses and dogs. There was, in fact, no
magnificence or pomp deemed too imposing to be displayed, both by the
kings and nobles, in honour of the patron-saint of hunting (Fig. 136).

[Illustration: Fig. 136.--"How to shout and blow Horns."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth Century).]

[Illustration: Ladies Hunting

Costumes of the fifteenth century. From a miniature in a ms. copy of
_Ovid's Epistles_ No 7234 _bis._ Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 137.--German Sportsman, drawn and engraved by J.
Amman in the Sixteenth Century.]

Hunters and sportsmen in those days formed brotherhoods, which had their
rank defined at public ceremonials, and especially in processions. In
1455, Gérard, Duke of Cleves and Burgrave of Ravensberg, created the order
of the Knights of St. Hubert, into which those of noble blood only were
admitted. The insignia consisted of a gold or silver chain formed of
hunting horns, to which was hung a small likeness of the patron-saint in
the act of doing homage to our Saviour's image as it shone on the head of
a stag. It was popularly believed that the Knights of St. Hubert had the
power of curing madness, which, for some unknown reason, never showed
itself in a pack of hounds. This, however, was not the only superstitious
belief attached to the noble and adventurous occupations of the followers
of St. Hubert. Amongst a number of old legends, which mostly belong to
Germany (Fig. 137), mention is made of hunters who sold their souls to the
devil in exchange for some enchanted arrow which never missed its aim, and
which reached game at extraordinary distances. Mention is also made in
these legends of various animals which, on being pursued by the hunters,
were miraculously saved by throwing themselves into the arms of some
saint, or by running into some holy sanctuary. There were besides knights
who, having hunted all their lives, believed that they were to continue
the same occupation in another world. An account is given in history of
the apparition of a fiery phantom to Charles IX. in the forest of Lyons,
and also the ominous meeting of Henry IV. with the terrible _grand-veneur_
in the forest of Fontainebleau. We may account for these strange tales
from the fact that hunting formerly constituted a sort of freemasonry,
with its mysterious rites and its secret language. The initiated used
particular signs of recognition amongst themselves, and they also had
lucky and unlucky numbers, emblematical colours, &c.

The more dangerous the sport the more it was indulged in by military men.
The Chronicles of the Monk of Saint-Gall describe an adventure which
befell Charlemagne on the occasion of his setting out with his huntsmen
and hounds in order to chase an enormous bear which was the terror of the
Vosges. The bear, after having disabled numerous dogs and hunters, found
himself face to face with the Emperor, who alone dared to stand up before
him. A fierce combat ensued on the summit of a rock, in which both were
locked together in a fatal embrace. The contest ended by the death of the
bear, Charles striking him with his dagger and hurling him down the
precipice. On this the hills resounded with the cry of "Vive Charles le
Grand!" from the numerous huntsmen and others who had assembled; and it is
said that this was the first occasion on which the companions of the
intrepid monarch gave him the title of _Grand_ (Magnus), so from that time
King Charles became King _Charlemagne_.

This prince was most jealous of his rights of hunting, which he would
waive to no one. For a long time he refused permission to the monks of the
Abbey of St. Denis, whom he nevertheless held in great esteem, to have
some stags killed which were destroying their forests. It was only on
condition that the flesh of these animals would serve as food to the monks
of inferior order, and that their hides should be used for binding the
missals, that he eventually granted them permission to kill the offending
animals (Fig. 138).

If we pass from the ninth to the thirteenth century, we find that Louis
IX., king of France, was as keen a sportsman and as brave a warrior as any
of his ancestors. He was, indeed, as fond of hunting as of war, and during
his first crusade an opportunity occurred to him of hunting the lion. "As
soon as he began to know the country of Cesarea," says Joinville, "the
King set to work with his people to hunt lions, so that they captured
many; but in doing so they incurred great bodily danger. The mode of
taking them was this: They pursued them on the swiftest horses. When they
came near one they shot a bolt or arrow at him, and the animal, feeling
himself wounded, ran at the first person he could see, who immediately
turned his horse's head and fled as fast as he could. During his flight he
dropped a portion of his clothing, which the lion caught up and tore,
thinking it was the person who had injured him; and whilst the lion was
thus engaged the hunters again approached the infuriated animal and shot
more bolts and arrows at him. Soon the lion left the cloth and madly
rushed at some other hunter, who adopted the same strategy as before. This
was repeated until the animal succumbed, becoming exhausted by the wounds
he had received."

[Illustration: Fig. 138.--"Nature and Appearance of Deer, and how they can
be hunted with Dogs."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Livre du Roy
Modus"--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (National Library of Paris)]

Notwithstanding the passion which this king had for hunting, he was the
first to grant leave to the bourgeoisie to enjoy the sport. The condition
he made with them was that they should always give a haunch of any animal
killed to the lord of the soil. It is to this that we must trace the
origin of giving the animal's foot to the huntsman or to the person who
has the lead of the hunting party.

Louis XI., however, did not at all act in this liberal manner, and
although it might have been supposed that the incessant wars and political
intrigues in which he was constantly engaged would have given him no time
for amusements of this kind, yet he was, nevertheless, the keenest
sportsman of his day. This tyrant of the Castle of Plessis-les-Tours, who
was always miserly, except in matters of hunting, in which he was most
lavish, forbade even the higher classes to hunt under penalty of hanging.
To ensure the execution of his severe orders, he had all the castles as
well as the cottages searched, and any net, engine, or sporting arm found
was immediately destroyed. His only son, the heir to the throne, was not
exempted from these laws. Shut up in the Castle of Amboise, he had no
permission to leave it, for it was the will of the King that the young
prince should remain ignorant of the noble exercises of chivalry. One day
the Dauphin prayed his governor, M. du Bouchage, with so much earnestness
to give him an idea of hunting, that this noble consented to make an
excursion into the neighbouring wood with him. The King, however, managed
to find it out, and Du Bouchage had great difficulty in keeping his head
on his shoulders.

One of the best ways of pleasing Louis XI. was to offer him some present
relating to his favourite pastime, either pointers, hounds, falcons, or
varlets who were adepts in the art of venery or hawking (Figs. 139 and
140). When the cunning monarch became old and infirm, in order to make his
enemies believe that he was still young and vigorous, he sent messengers
everywhere, even to the most remote countries, to purchase horses, dogs,
and falcons, for which, according to Comines, he paid large sums (Fig.

On his death, the young prince, Charles VIII., succeeded him, and he seems
to have had an innate taste for hunting, and soon made up for lost time
and the privation to which his father had subjected him. He hunted daily,
and generously allowed the nobles to do the same. It is scarcely necessary
to say that these were not slow in indulging in the privilege thus
restored to them, and which was one of their most ancient pastimes and
occupations; for it must be remembered that, in those days of small
intellectual culture, hunting must have been a great, if not at times the
only, resource against idleness and the monotony of country life.

Everything which related to sport again became the fashion amongst the
youth of the nobility, and their chief occupation when not engaged in war.
They continued as formerly to invent every sort of sporting device. For
example, they obtained from other countries traps, engines, and
hunting-weapons; they introduced into France at great expense foreign
animals, which they took great pains in naturalising as game or in
training as auxiliaries in hunting. After having imported the reindeer
from Lapland, which did not succeed in their temperate climate, and the
pheasant from Tartary, with which they stocked the woods, they imported
with greater success the panther and the leopard from Africa, which were
used for furred game as the hawk was for feathered game. The mode of
hunting with these animals was as follows: The sportsmen, preceded by
their dogs, rode across country, each with a leopard sitting behind him on
his saddle. When the dogs had started the game the leopard jumped off the
saddle and sprang after it, and as soon as it was caught the hunters threw
the leopard a piece of raw flesh, for which he gave up the prey and
remounted behind his master (Fig. 142)

Louis XI., Charles VIII., and Louis XII. often hunted thus. The leopards,
which formed a part of the royal venery, were kept in an enclosure of the
Castle of Amboise, which still exists near the gate _des Lions_, so
called, no doubt, on account of these sporting and carnivorous animals
being mistaken for lions by the common people. There, were, however,
always lions in the menageries of the kings of France.

[Illustration: Fig. 139.--"The Way to catch Squirrels on the Ground in the
Woods"--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century)]

Francis I. was quite as fond of hunting as any of his predecessors. His
innate taste for sport was increased during his travels in Italy, where he
lived with princes who displayed great splendour in their hunting
equipages. He even acquired the name of the _Father of Sportsmen_. His
_netting_ establishment alone, consisted of one captain, one lieutenant,
twelve mounted huntsmen, six varlets to attend the bloodhounds; six
whips, who had under their charge sixty hounds; and one hundred bowmen on
foot, carrying large stakes for fixing the nets and tents, which were
carried by fifty six-horsed chariots. He was much pleased when ladies
followed the chase; and amongst those who were most inclined to share its
pleasures, its toils, and even its perils, was Catherine de Medicis, then
Dauphine, who was distinguished for her agility and her graceful
appearance on horseback, and who became a thorough sportswoman.

[Illustration: Fig. 140.-"The Way of catching Partridges with an Osier
Net-Work Apparatus"--Fac-simile of a Miniature in "Livre du Roy Modus."]

The taste for hunting having become very general, and the art being
considered as the most noble occupation to which persons could devote
themselves, it is not surprising to find sporting works composed by
writers of the greatest renown and of the highest rank. The learned
William Budé, whom Erasmus called the _wonder of France_, dedicated to the
children of Francis I. the second book of his "Philologie," which contains
a treatise on stag-hunting. This treatise, originally written in Latin,
was afterwards translated into French by order of Charles IX., who was
acknowledged to be one of the boldest and most scientific hunters of his
time. An extraordinary feat, which has never been imitated by any one, is
recorded of him, and that was, that alone, on horseback and without dogs,
he hunted down a stag. The "Chasse Royale," the authorship of which is
attributed to him, is replete with scientific information.
"Wolf-hunting," a work by the celebrated Clamorgan, and "Yenery," by Du
Fouilloux, were dedicated to Charles IX., and a great number of special
treatises on such subjects appeared in his reign.

[Illustration: Fig. 141.--"Kennel in which Dogs should live, and how they
should be kept."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in Manuscript of Phoebus
(Fifteenth Century).]

His brother, the effeminate Henry III., disliked hunting, as he considered
it too fatiguing and too dangerous.

On the other hand, according to Sully, Henry IV., _le Béarnais_, who
learned hunting in early youth in the Pyrenees, "loved all kinds of sport,
and, above all, the most fatiguing and adventurous pursuits, such as those
after wolves, bears, and boars." He never missed a chance of hunting,
"even when in face of an enemy. If he knew a stag to be near, he found
time to hunt it," and we find in the "Memoirs of Sully " that the King
hunted the day after the famous battle of Ivry.

One day, when he was only King of Navarre, he invited the ladies of Pau to
come and see a bear-hunt. Happily they refused, for on that occasion their
nerves would have been put to a serious test. Two bears killed two of the
horses, and several bowmen were hugged to death by the ferocious animals.
Another bear, although pierced in several places, and having six or seven
pike-heads in his body, charged eight men who were stationed on the top of
a rock, and the whole of them with the bear were all dashed to pieces down
the precipice. The only point in which Louis XIII. resembled his father
was his love of the chase, for during his reign hunting continued in
France, as well as in other countries, to be a favourite royal pastime.

We have remarked that St. Germain d'Auxerre, who at a certain period was
the patron of sportsmen, made hunting his habitual relaxation. He devoted
himself to it with great keenness in his youth, before he became bishop,
that is, when he was Duke of Auxerre and general of the troops of the
provinces. Subsequently, when against his will he was raised to the
episcopal dignity, not only did he give up all pleasures, but he devoted
himself to the strictest religious life. Unfortunately, in those days, all
church-men did not understand, as he did, that the duties of their holy
vocation were not consistent with these pastimes, for, in the year 507, we
find that councils and synods forbade priests to hunt. In spite of this,
however, the ancient historians relate that several noble prelates,
yielding to the customs of the times, indulged in hunting the stag and
flying the falcon.

[Illustration: Fig. 142.--Hunting with the Leopard, from a Stamp of Jean
Stradan (Sixteenth Century).]

It is related in history that some of the most illustrious popes were also
great lovers of the chase, namely, Julius II, Leo X., and, previously to
them, Pius II, who, before becoming Pope, amongst other literary and
scientific works, wrote a Latin treatise on venery under his Christian
names, Æneas Silvius. It is easy to understand how it happened that sports
formerly possessed such attractions for ecclesiastical dignitaries. In
early life they acquired the tastes and habits of people of their rank,
and they were accordingly extremely jealous of the rights of chase in
their domains. Although Pope Clement V., in his celebrated "Institutions,"
called "Clémentines," had formally forbidden the monks to hunt, there were
few who did not evade the canonical prohibition by pursuing furred game,
and that without considering that they were violating the laws of the
Church. The papal edict permitted the monks and priests to hunt under
certain circumstances, and especially where rabbits or beasts of prey
increased so much as to damage the crops. It can easily be imagined that
such would always be the case at a period when the people were so strictly
forbidden to destroy game; and therefore hunting was practised at all
seasons in the woods and fields in the vicinity of each abbey. The jealous
peasants, not themselves having the right of hunting, and who continually
saw _Master Abbot_ passing on his hunting excursions, said, with malice,
that "the monks never forgot to pray for the success of the litters and
nests (_pro pullis et nidis_), in order that game might always be

[Illustration: Fig. 143.--"How Wolves may be caught with a
Snare."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth

If venery, as a regular science, dates from a comparatively recent
period, it is not so with falconry, the first traces of which are lost in
obscure antiquity. This kind of sport, which had become a most learned and
complicated art, was the delight of the nobles of the Middle Ages and
during the Renaissance period. It was in such esteem that a nobleman or
his lady never appeared in public without a hawk on the wrist as a mark of
dignity (Fig. 147). Even bishops and abbots entered the churches with
their hunting birds, which they placed on the steps of the altar itself
during the service.

[Illustration: Fig. 144.--"How Bears and other Beasts may be caught with a
Dart."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fifteenth

The bird, like the sword, was a distinctive mark which was inseparable
from the person of gentle birth, who frequently even went to war with the
falcon on his wrist. During the battle he would make his squire hold the
bird, which he replaced on his gauntlet when the fight was over. In fact,
it was forbidden by the laws of chivalry for persons to give up their
birds, even as a ransom, should they be made prisoners; in which case they
had to let the noble birds fly, in order that they might not share their

The falcon to a certain degree partook of his owner's nobility; he was,
moreover, considered a noble bird by the laws of falconry, as were all
birds of prey which could be trained for purposes of sport. All other
birds, without distinction, were declared _ignoble_, and no exception was
made to this rule by the naturalists of the Middle Ages, even in favour of
the strongest and most magnificent, such as the eagle and vulture.
According to this capricious classification, they considered the
sparrow-hawk, which was the smallest of the hunting-birds, to rank higher
than the eagle. The nickname of this diminutive sporting bird was often
applied to a country-gentleman, who, not being able to afford to keep
falcons, used the sparrow-hawk to capture partridges and quail.

[Illustration: Fig. 145.--Olifant, or Hunting-horn, in Ivory (Fourteenth
Century).--From an Original existing in England.]

It was customary for gentlemen of all classes, whether sportsmen or not,
to possess birds of some kind, "to keep up their rank," as the saying then
was. Only the richest nobles, however, were expected to keep a regular
falconry, that is, a collection of birds suited for taking all kinds of
game, such as the hare, the kite, the heron, &c., as each sport not only
required special birds, but a particular and distinctive retinue and

[Illustration: Fig. 146.--Details Hunting-horn of the Fourteenth
Century.--From the Original in an English Collection.]

Besides the cost of falcons, which was often very great (for they were
brought from the most distant countries, such as Sweden, Iceland, Turkey,
and Morocco), their rearing and training involved considerable outlay, as
may be more readily understood from the illustrations (Figs. 148 to 155),
showing some of the principal details of the long and difficult education
which had to be given them.

To succeed in making the falcon obey the whistle, the voice, and the signs
of the falconer was the highest aim of the art, and it was only by the
exercise of much patience that the desired resuit was obtained. All birds
of prey, when used for sport, received the generic name of _falcon_; and
amongst them were to be found the gerfalcon, the saker-hawk, the lanner,
the merlin, and the sparrow-hawk. The male birds were smaller than the
females, and were called _tiercelet_--this name, however, more
particularly applied to the gosshawk or the largest kind of male hawk,
whereas the males of the above mentioned were called _laneret, sacret,
émouchet._ Generally the male birds were used for partridges and quail,
and the female birds for the hare, the heron, and crane. _Oiseaux de
poing_, or _hand-birds,_ was the name given to the gosshawk, common hawk,
the gerfalcon, and the merlin, because they returned to the hand of their
master after having pursued game. The lanner, sparrow-hawk, and saker-hawk
were called _oiseaux de leure_, from the fact that it was always necessary
to entice them back again.

[Illustration: Fig. 147.--A Noble of Provence (Fifteenth
Century).--Bonnart's "Costumes from the Tenth to the Sixteenth Century."]

The lure was an imitation of a bird, made of red cloth, that it might be
more easily seen from a distance. It was stuffed so that the falcon could
settle easily on it, and furnished with the wings of a partridge, duck, or
heron, according to circumstances. The falconer swung his mock bird like a
sling, and whistled as he did so, and the falcon, accustomed to find a
piece of flesh attached to the lure, flew down in order to obtain it, and
was thus secured.

[Illustration: Fig. 148.--King Modus teaching the Art of
Falconry.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

The trainers of birds divided them into two kinds, namely, the _niais_ or
simple bird, which had been taken from the nest, and the wild bird
(_hagard_) captured when full-grown. The education of the former was
naturally very much the easier, but they succeeded in taming both classes,
and even the most rebellious were at last subdued by depriving them of
sleep, by keeping away the light from them, by coaxing them with the
voice, by patting them, by giving them choice food, &c.

Regardless of his original habits, the bird was first accustomed to have
no fear of men, horses, and dogs. He was afterwards fastened to a string
by one leg, and, being allowed to fly a short distance, was recalled to
the lure, where he always found a dainty bit of food. After he had been
thus exercised for several months, a wounded partridge was let loose that
he might catch it near the falconer, who immediately took it from him
before he could tear it to pieces. When he appeared sufficiently tame, a
quail or partridge, previously stripped of a few feathers so as to prevent
it flying properly, was put in his way as before. If he was wanted for
hunting hares, a stuffed hare was dragged before him, inside of which was
a live chicken, whose head and liver was his reward if he did his work
well. Then they tried him with a hare whose fore-leg was broken in order
to ensure his being quickly caught. For the kite, they placed two hawks
together on the same perch, so as to accustom them peaceably to live and
hunt together, for if they fought with one another, as strange birds were
apt to do, instead of attacking the kite, the sport would of course have
failed. At first a hen of the colour of a kite was given them to fight
with. When they had mastered this, a real kite was used, which was tied to
a string and his claws and beak were filed so as to prevent him from
wounding the young untrained falcons. The moment they had secured their
prey, they were called off it and given chickens' flesh to eat on the
lure. The same System was adopted for hunting the heron or crane (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 149.--Falconers dressing their Birds.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

It will be seen that, in order to train birds, it was necessary for a
large number of the various kinds of game to be kept on the premises, and
for each branch of sport a regular establishment was required. In
falconry, as in venery, great care was taken to secure that a bird should
continue at one object of prey until he had secured it, that is to say, it
was most essential to teach it not to leave the game he was after in order
to pursue another which might come in his way.

To establish a falconry, therefore, not only was a very large poultry-yard
required, but also a considerable staff of huntsmen, falconers, and whips,
besides a number of horses and dogs of all sorts, which were either used
for starting the game for the hawks, or for running it down when it was
forced to ground by the birds.

[Illustration: Fig. 150.--Varlets of Falconry.--Fac-simile of a Miniature
in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

A well-trained falcon was a bird of great value, and was the finest
present that could be made to a lady, to a nobleman, or to the King
himself, by any one who had received a favour. For instance, the King of
France received six birds from the Abbot of St. Hubert as a token of
gratitude for the protection granted by him to the abbey. The King of
Denmark sent him several as a gracious offering in the month of April; the
Grand Master of Malta in the month of May. At court, in those days, the
reception of falcons either in public or in private was a great business,
and the first trial of any new birds formed a topic of conversation among
the courtiers for some time after.

The arrival at court of a hawk-dealer from some distant country was also a
great event. It is said that Louis XI. gave orders that watch should be
kept night and day to seize any falcons consigned to the Duke of Brittany
from Turkey. The plan succeeded, and the birds thus stolen were brought
to the King, who exclaimed, "By our holy Lady of Cléry! what will the Duke
Francis and his Bretons do? They will be very angry at the good trick I
have played them."

European princes vied with each other in extravagance as regards falconry;
but this was nothing in comparison to the magnificence displayed in
oriental establishments. The Count de Nevers, son of Philip the Bold, Duke
of Burgundy, having been made prisoner at the battle of Nicopolis, was
presented to the Sultan Bajazet, who showed him his hunting establishment
consisting of seven thousand falconers and as many huntsmen. The Duke of
Burgundy, on hearing this, sent twelve white hawks, which were very scarce
birds, as a present to Bajazet. The Sultan was so pleased with them that
he sent him back his son in exchange.

[Illustration: Fig. 151.--"How to train a New Falcon."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

The "Livre du Roy Modus" gives the most minute and curious details on the
noble science of hawking. For instance, it tells us that the _nobility_ of
the falcon was held in such respect that their utensils, trappings, or
feeding-dishes were never used for other birds. The glove on which they
were accustomed to alight was frequently elaborately embroidered in gold,
and was never used except for birds of their own species. In the private
establishments the leather hoods, which were put on their heads to prevent
them seeing, were embroidered with gold and pearls and surmounted with the
feathers of birds of paradise. Each bird wore on his legs two little bells
with his owner's crest upon them; the noise made by these was very
distinct, and could be heard even when the bird was too high in the air
to be seen, for they were not made to sound in unison; they generally came
from Italy, Milan especially being celebrated for their manufacture.
Straps were also fastened to the falcon's legs, by means of which he was
attached to the perch; at the end of this strap was a brass or gold ring
with the owner's name engraved upon it. In the royal establishments each
ring bore on one side, "I belong to the king," and on the other the name
of the Grand Falconer. This was a necessary precaution, for the birds
frequently strayed, and, if captured, they could thus be recognised and
returned. The ownership of a falcon was considered sacred, and, by an
ancient barbaric law, the stealer of a falcon was condemned to a very
curious punishment. The unfortunate thief was obliged to allow the falcon
to eat six ounces of the flesh of his breast, unless he could pay a heavy
fine to the owner and another to the king.

[Illustration: Fig. 152.--Falconers.--Fac-simile from a Miniature in
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century, which treats of the "Cour de Jaime,
Roi de Maiorque."]

A man thoroughly acquainted with the mode of training hawks was in high
esteem everywhere. If he was a freeman, the nobles outbid each other as to
who should secure his services; if he was a serf, his master kept him as a
rare treasure, only parted with him as a most magnificent present, or sold
him for a considerable sum. Like the clever huntsman, a good falconer
(Fig. 156) was bound to be a man of varied information on natural history,
the veterinary art, and the chase; but the profession generally ran in
families, and the son added his own experience to the lessons of his
father. There were also special schools of venery and falconry, the most
renowned being of course in the royal household.

The office of Grand Falconer of France, the origin of which dates from
1250, was one of the highest in the kingdom. The Maréchal de Fleuranges
says, in his curious "Memoirs"--"The Grand Falconer, whose salary is four
thousand florins" (the golden florin was worth then twelve or fifteen
francs, and this amount must represent upwards of eighty thousand francs
of present currency), "has fifty gentlemen under him, the salary of each
being from five to six thousand livres. He has also fifty assistant
falconers at two hundred livres each, all chosen by himself. His
establishment consists of three hundred birds; he has the right to hunt
wherever he pleases in the kingdom; he levies a tax on all bird-dealers,
who are forbidden, under penalty of the confiscation of their stock, from
selling a single bird in any town or at court without his sanction." The
Grand Falconer was chief at all the hunts or hawking meetings; in public
ceremonies he always appeared with the bird on his wrist, as an emblem of
his rank; and the King, whilst hawking, could not let loose his bird until
after the Grand Falconer had slipped his.

[Illustration: Fig. 153.--"How to bathe a New Falcon."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Falconry, like venery, had a distinctive and professional vocabulary,
which it was necessary for every one who joined in hawking to understand,
unless he wished to be looked upon as an ignorant yeoman. "Flying the hawk
is a royal pastime," says the Jesuit Claude Binet, "and it is to talk
royally to talk of the flight of birds. Every one speaks of it, but few
speak well. Many speak so ignorantly as to excite pity among their
hearers. Sometimes one says the _hand_ of the bird instead of saying the
_talon_, sometimes the _talon_ instead of the _claw_, sometimes the _claw_
instead of the _nail_" &c.

The fourteenth century was the great epoch of falconry. There were then so
many nobles who hawked, that in the rooms of inns there were perches made
under the large mantel-pieces on which to place the birds while the
sportsmen were at dinner. Histories of the period are full of
characteristic anecdotes, which prove the enthusiasm which was created by
hawking in those who devoted themselves to it.

[Illustration: Fig. 154.--"How to make Young Hawks fly."--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Emperors and kings were as keen as others for this kind of sport. As early
as the tenth century the Emperor Henry I. had acquired the soubriquet of
"the Bird-catcher," from the fact of his giving much more attention to his
birds than to his subjects. His example was followed by one of his
successors, the Emperor Henry VI., who was reckoned the first falconer of
his time. When his father, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (Red-beard),
died in the Holy Land, in 1189, the Archdukes, Electors of the Empire,
went out to meet the prince so as to proclaim him Emperor of Germany. They
found him, surrounded by dogs, horses, and birds, ready to go hunting.
"The day is fine," he said; "allow us to put off serious affairs until

Two centuries later we find at the court of France the same ardour for
hawking and the same admiration for the performances of falcons. The
Constable Bertrand du Guesclin gave two hawks to King Charles VI.; and
the Count de Tancarville, whilst witnessing a combat between these noble
birds and a crane which had been powerful enough to keep two greyhounds at
bay, exclaimed, "I would not give up the pleasure which I feel for a
thousand florins!"

The court-poet, William Crétin, although he was Canon of the holy chapel
of Vincennes, was as passionately fond of hawking as his good master Louis
XII. He thus describes the pleasure he felt in seeing a heron succumb to
the vigorous attack of the falcons:--

  "Qui auroit la mort aux dents,
  Il revivroit d'avour un tel passe-temps!"

  ("He who is about to die
  Would live again with such amusement.")

[Illustration: Fig. 155.--Lady setting out Hawking.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the Manuscript of "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth.

At a hunting party given by Louis XII. to the Archduke Maximilian, Mary of
Burgundy, the Archduke's wife, was killed by a fall from her horse. The
King presented his best falcons to the Archduke with a view to divert his
mind and to turn his attention from the sad event, and one of the
historians tells us that the bereaved husband was soon consoled: "The
partridges, herons, wild ducks, and quails which he was enabled to take on
his journey home by means of the King's present, materially lessening his

Falconry, after having been in much esteem for centuries, at last became
amenable to the same law which affects all great institutions, and, having
reached the height of its glory, it was destined to decay. Although the
art disappeared completely under Louis the Great, who only liked
stag-kunting, and who, by drawing all the nobility to court, disorganized
country life, no greater adept had ever been known than King Louis XIII.
His first favourite and Grand Falconer was Albert de Luynes, whom he made
prime minister and constable. Even in the Tuileries gardens, on his way to
mass at the convent of the Feuillants, this prince amused himself by
catching linnets and wrens with noisy magpies trained to pursue small

It was during this reign that some ingenious person discovered that the
anagram, ROY TRÈS-RARE, ESTIMÉ DIEU DE LA FAUCONNERIE. It was also at this
time that Charles d'Arcussia, the last author who wrote a technical work
on falconry, after praising his majesty for devoting himself so thoroughly
to the divine sport, compared the King's birds to domestic angels, and the
carnivorous birds which they destroyed he likened to the devil. From this
he argued that the sport was like the angel Gabriel destroying the demon
Asmodeus. He also added, in his dedication to the King, "As the nature of
angels is above that of men, so is that of these birds above all other

[Illustration: Fig. 156.--Dress of the Falconer (Thirteenth
Century).--Sculpture of the Cathedral of Rouen.]

At that time certain religious or rather superstitious ceremonies were in
use for blessing the water with which the falcons were sprinkled before
hunting, and supplications were addressed to the eagles that they might
not molest them. The following words were used: "I adjure you, O eagles!
by the true God, by the holy God, by the most blessed Virgin Mary, by the
nine orders of angels, by the holy prophets, by the twelve apostles,
&c.... to leave the field clear to our birds, and not to molest them: in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." It was at
this time that, in order to recover a lost bird, the Sire de la
Brizardière, a professional necromancer, proposed beating the owner of the
bird with birch-rods until he bled, and of making a charm with the blood,
which was reckoned infallible.

[Illustration: Fig. 157.--Diseases of Dogs and their Cure.--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in the Manuscript of Phoebus (Fourteenth Century).]

Elzéar Blaze expressed his astonishment that the ladies should not have
used their influence to prevent falconry from falling into disuse. The
chase, he considered, gave them an active part in an interesting and
animated scene, which only required easy and graceful movements on their
part, and to which no danger was attached. "The ladies knowing," he says,
"how to fly a bird, how to call him back, and how to encourage him with
their voice, being familiar with him from having continually carried him
on their wrist, and often even from having broken him in themselves, the
honour of hunting belongs to them by right. Besides, it brings out to
advantage their grace and dexterity as they gallop amongst the sportsmen,
followed by their pages and varlets and a whole herd of horses and dogs."

The question of precedence and of superiority had, at every period, been
pretty evenly balanced between venery and falconry, each having its own
staunch supporters. Thus, in the "Livre du Roy Modus," two ladies contend
in verse (for the subject was considered too exalted to be treated of in
simple prose), the one for the superiority of the birds, the other for the
superiority of dogs. Their controversy is at length terminated by a
celebrated huntsman and falconer, who decides in favour of venery, for the
somewhat remarkable reason that those who pursue it enjoy oral and ocular
pleasure at the same time. In an ancient Treatise by Gace de la Vigne, in
which the same question occupies no fewer than ten thousand verses, the
King (unnamed) ends the dispute by ordering that in future they shall be
termed pleasures of dogs and pleasures of birds, so that there may be no
superiority on one side or the other (Fig. 160). The court-poet, William
Crétin, who was in great renown during the reigns of Louis XII. and
Francis I., having asked two ladies to discuss the same subject in verse,
does not hesitate, on the contrary, to place falconry above venery.

[Illustration: Fig. 158.--German Falconer, designed and engraved, in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

It may fairly be asserted that venery and falconry have taken a position
of some importance in history; and in support of this theory it will
suffice to mention a few facts borrowed from the annals of the chase.

The King of Navarre, Charles the Bad, had sworn to be faithful to the
alliance made between himself and King Edward III. of England; but the
English troops having been beaten by Du Guesclin, Charles saw that it was
to his advantage to turn to the side of the King of France. In order not
to appear to break his oath, he managed to be taken prisoner by the French
whilst out hunting, and thus he sacrificed his honour to his personal
interests. It was also due to a hunting party that Henry III., another
King of Navarre, who was afterwards Henry IV., escaped from Paris, on the
3rd February, 1576, and fled to Senlis, where his friends of the Reformed
religion came to join him.

[Illustration: Fig. 159.--Heron-hawking.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Hunting formed a principal entertainment when public festivals were
celebrated, and it was frequently accompanied with great magnificence. At
the entry of Isabel of Bavaria into Paris, a sort of stag hunt was
performed, when "the streets," according to a popular story of the time,
"were full to profusion of hares, rabbits, and goslings." Again, at the
solemn entry of Louis XI. into Paris, a representation of a doe hunt took
place near the fountain St. Innocent; "after which the queen received a
present of a magnificent stag, made of confectionery, and having the royal
arms hung round its neck." At the memorable festival given at Lille, in
1453, by the Duke of Burgundy, a very curious performance took place. "At
one end of the table," says the historian Mathieu de Coucy, "a heron was
started, which was hunted as if by falconers and sportsmen; and presently
from the other end of the table a falcon was slipped, which hovered over
the heron. In a few minutes another falcon was started from the other side
of the table, which attacked the heron so fiercely that he brought him
down in the middle of the hall. After the performance was over and the
heron was killed, it was served up at the dinner-table."

[Illustration: Fig. 160.--Sport with Dogs.--"How the Wild Boar is hunted
by means of Dogs."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the
"Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

We shall conclude this chapter with a few words on bird-fowling, a kind of
sport which was almost disdained in the Middle Ages. The anonymous author
of the "Livre du Roy Modus" called it, in the fourteenth century, the
pastime of the poor, "because the poor, who can neither keep hounds nor
falcons to hunt or to fly, take much pleasure in it, particularly as it
serves at the same time as a means of subsistence to many of them."

In this book, which was for a long time the authority in matters of sport
generally, we find that nearly all the methods and contrivances now
employed for bird-fowling were known and in use in the Middle Ages, in
addition to some which have since fallen into disuse. We accordingly read
in the "Roy Modus" a description of the drag-net, the mirror, the
screech-owl, the bird-pipe (Fig. 161), the traps, the springs, &c., the
use of all of which is now well understood. At that time, when falcons
were so much required, it was necessary that people should be employed to
catch them when young; and the author of this book speaks of nets of
various sorts, and the pronged piece of wood in the middle of which a
screech-owl or some other bird was placed in order to attract the falcons
(Fig. 162).

[Illustration: Fig. 161.--Bird-piping.--"The Manner of Catching Birds by
piping."--Fac-simile of Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Two methods were in use in those days for catching the woodcook and
pheasant, which deserve to be mentioned. "The pheasants," says "King
Modus," "are of such a nature that the male bird cannot bear the company
of another." Taking advantage of this weakness, the plan of placing a
mirror, which balanced a sort of wicker cage or coop, was adopted. The
pheasant, thinking he saw his fellow, attacked him, struck against the
glass and brought down the coop, in which he had leisure to reflect on his
jealousy (Fig. 163).

Woodcocks, which are, says the author, "the most silly birds," were caught
in this way. The bird-fowler was covered from head to foot with clothes of
the colour of dead leaves, only having two little holes for his eyes. When
he saw one he knelt down noiselessly, and supported his arms on two
sticks, so as to keep perfectly still. When the bird was not looking
towards him he cautiously approached it on his knees, holding in his hands
two little dry sticks covered with red cloth, which he gently waved so as
to divert the bird's attention from himself. In this way he gradually got
near enough to pass a noose, which he kept ready at the end of a stick,
round the bird's neck (Fig. 164).

However ingenious these tricks may appear, they are eclipsed by one we
find recorded in the "Ixeuticon," a very elegant Latin poem, by Angelis de
Barga, written two centuries later. In order to catch a large number of
starlings, this author assures us, it is only necessary to have two or
three in a cage, and, when a flight of these birds is seen passing, to
liberate them with a very long twine attached to their claws. The twine
must be covered with bird-lime, and, as the released birds instantly join
their friends, all those they come near get glued to the twine and fall
together to the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 162.--Bird-catching with a Machine like a Long
Arm.--Fac-simile of Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy
Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

As at the present time, the object of bird-fowling was twofold, namely, to
procure game for food and to capture birds to be kept either for their
voice or for fancy as pets. The trade in the latter was so important, at
least in Paris, that the bird-catchers formed a numerous corporation
having its statutes and privileges.

The Pont au Change (then covered on each side with houses and shops
occupied by goldsmiths and money-changers) was the place where these
people carried on their trade; and they had the privilege of hanging
their cages against the houses, even without the sanction of the
proprietors. This curious right was granted to them by Charles VI. in
1402, in return for which they were bound to "provide four hundred birds"
whenever a king was crowned, "and an equal number when the queen made her
first entry into her good town of Paris." The goldsmiths and
money-changers, however, finding that this became a nuisance, and that it
injured their trade, tried to get it abolished. They applied to the
authorities to protect their rights, urging that the approaches to their
shops, the rents of which they paid regularly, were continually obstructed
by a crowd of purchasers and dealers in birds. The case was brought
several times before parliament, which only confirmed the orders of the
kings of France and the ancient privileges of the bird-catchers. At the
end of the sixteenth century the quarrel became so bitter that the
goldsmiths and changers took to "throwing down the cages and birds and
trampling them under foot," and even assaulted and openly ill-treated the
poor bird-dealers. But a degree of parliament again justified the sale of
birds on the Pont an Change, by condemning the ring-leader,

[Illustration: Fig. 163.--Pheasant Fowling.--"Showing how to catch
Pheasants."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du
Roy Modus" (Fourteenth Century).]

Pierre Filacier, the master goldsmith who had commenced the proceedings
against the bird-catchers, to pay a double fine, namely, twenty crowns to
the plaintiffs and ten to the King.

[Illustration: Fig. 164.--The Mode of catching a Woodcock.--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in the Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (Fourteenth

It is satisfactory to observe that at that period measures were taken to
preserve nests and to prevent bird-fowling from the 15th of March to the
15th of August. Besides this, it was necessary to have an express
permission from the King himself to give persons the right of catching
birds on the King's domains. Before any one could sell birds it was
required for him to have been received as a master bird-catcher. The
recognised bird-catchers, therefore, had no opponents except dealers from
other countries, who brought canary-birds, parrots, and other foreign
specimens into Paris. These dealers were, however, obliged to conform to
strict rules. They were required on their arrival to exhibit their birds
from ten to twelve o'clock on the marble stone in the palace yard on the
days when parliament sat, in order that the masters and governors of the
King's aviary, and, after them, the presidents and councillors, might have
the first choice before other people of anything they wished to buy. They
were, besides, bound to part the male and female birds in separate cages
with tickets on them, so that purchasers might not be deceived; and, in
case of dispute on this point, some sworn inspectors were appointed as

No doubt, emboldened by the victory which they had achieved over the
goldsmiths of the Pont an Change, the bird-dealers of Paris attempted to
forbid any bourgeois of the town from breeding canaries or any sort of
cage birds. The bourgeois resented this, and brought their case before the
Marshals of France. They urged that it was easy for them to breed
canaries, and it was also a pleasure for their wives and daughters to
teach them, whereas those bought on the Pont an Change were old and
difficult to educate. This appeal was favourably received, and an order
from the tribunal of the Marshals of France permitted the bourgeois to
breed canaries, but it forbade the sale of them, which it was considered
would interfere with the trade of the master-fowlers of the town,
faubourgs, and suburbs of Paris.

[Illustration: Fig. 165.--Powder-horn.--Work of the Sixteenth Century
(Artillery Museum of Brussels).]

Games and Pastimes.

  Games of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.--Games of the Circus.--Animal
  Combats.--Daring of King Pepin.--The King's Lions.--Blind Men's
  Fights.--Cockneys of Paris.--Champ de Mars.--Cours Plénières and Cours
  Couronnées.--Jugglers, Tumblers, and
  Minstrels.--Rope-dancers.--Fireworks.--Gymnastics.--Cards and
  Dice.--Chess, Marbles, and Billiards.--La Soule, La Pirouette,
  &c.--Small Games for Private Society.--History of Dancing.--Ballet des
  Ardents.--The "Orchésographie" (Art of Dancing) of Thoinot Arbeau.--List
  of Dances.

People of all countries and at all periods have been fond of public
amusements, and have indulged in games and pastimes with a view to make
time pass agreeably. These amusements have continually varied, according
to the character of each nation, and according to the capricious changes
of fashion. Since the learned antiquarian, J. Meursius, has devoted a
large volume to describing the games of the ancient Greeks ("De Ludis
Graecorum"), and Rabelais has collected a list of two hundred and twenty
games which were in fashion at different times at the court of his gay
master, it will be easily understood that a description of all the games
and pastimes which have ever been in use by different nations, and
particularly by the French, would form an encyclopaedia of some size.

We shall give a rapid sketch of the different kinds of games and pastimes
which were most in fashion during the Middle Ages and to the end of the
sixteenth century--omitting, however, the religious festivals, which
belong to a different category; the public festivals, which will come
under the chapter on Ceremonials; the tournaments and tilting matches and
other sports of warriors, which belong to Chivalry; and, lastly, the
scenic and literary representations, which specially belong to the history
of the stage.

We shall, therefore, limit ourselves here to giving in a condensed form a
few historical details of certain court amusements, and a short
description of the games of skill and of chance, and also of dancing.

The Romans, especially during the times of the emperors, had a passionate
love for performances in the circus and amphitheatre, as well as for
chariot races, horse races, foot races, combats of animals, and feats of
strength and agility. The daily life of the Roman people may be summed up
as consisting of taking their food and enjoying games in the circus
(_panem et circenses_). A taste for similar amusements was common to the
Gauls as well as to the whole Roman Empire; and, were historians silent on
the subject, we need no further information than that which is to be
gathered from the ruins of the numerous amphitheatres, which are to be
found at every centre of Roman occupation. The circus disappeared on the
establishment of the Christian religion, for the bishops condemned it as a
profane and sanguinary vestige of Paganism, and, no doubt, this led to the
cessation of combats between man and beast. They continued, however, to
pit wild or savage animals against one another, and to train dogs to fight
with lions, tigers, bears, and bulls; otherwise it would be difficult to
explain the restoration by King Chilpéric (A.D. 577) of the circuses and
arenas at Paris and Soissons. The remains of one of these circuses was not
long ago discovered in Paris whilst they were engaged in laying the
foundations for a new street, on the west side of the hill of St.
Geneviève, a short distance from the old palace of the Caesars, known by
the name of the Thermes of Julian.

Gregory of Tours states that Chilpéric revived the ancient games of the
circus, but that Gaul had ceased to be famous for good athletes and
race-horses, although animal combats continued to take place for the
amusement of the kings. One day King Pepin halted, with the principal
officers of his army, at the Abbey of Ferrières, and witnessed a fight
between a lion and a bull. The bull was of enormous size and extraordinary
strength, but nevertheless the lion overcame him; whereupon Pepin, who was
surnamed the Short, turned to his officers, who used to joke him about his
short stature, and said to them, "Make the lion loose his hold of the
bull, or kill him." No one dared to undertake so perilous a task, and some
said aloud that the man who would measure his strength with a lion must be
mad. Upon this, Pepin sprang into the arena sword in hand, and with two
blows cut off the heads of the lion and the bull. "What do you think of
that?" he said to his astonished officers. "Am I not fit to be your
master? Size cannot compare with courage. Remember what little David did
to the Giant Goliath."

Eight hundred years later there were occasional animal combats at the
court of Francis I. "A fine lady," says Brantôme, "went to see the King's
lions, in company with a gentleman who much admired her. She suddenly let
her glove drop, and it fell into the lions' den. 'I beg of you,' she said,
in the calmest way, to her admirer, 'to go amongst the lions and bring me
back my glove.' The gentleman made no remark, but, without even drawing
his sword, went into the den and gave himself up silently to death to
please the lady. The lions did not move, and he was able to leave their
den without a scratch and return the lady her missing glove. 'Here is your
glove, madam,' he coldly said to her who evidently valued his life at so
small a price; 'see if you can find any one else who would do the same as
I have done for you.' So saying he left her, and never afterwards looked
at or even spoke to her."

It has been imagined that the kings of France only kept lions as living
symbols of royalty. In 1333 Philippe de Valois bought a barn in the Rue
Froidmantel, near the Château du Louvre, where he established a menagerie
for his lions, bears, leopards, and other wild beasts. This royal
menagerie still existed in the reigns of Charles VIII. and Francis I.
Charles V. and his successors had an establishment of lions in the
quadrangle of the Grand Hôtel de St. Paul, on the very spot which was
subsequently the site of the Rue des Lions St. Paul.

These wild beasts were sometimes employed in the combats, and were pitted
against bulls and dogs in the presence of the King and his court. It was
after one of these combats that Charles IX., excited by the sanguinary
spectacle, wished to enter the arena alone in order to attack a lion which
had torn some of his best dogs to pieces, and it was only with great
difficulty that the audacious sovereign was dissuaded from his foolish
purpose. Henry III. had no disposition to imitate his brother's example;
for dreaming one night that his lions were devouring him, he had them all
killed the next day.

The love for hunting wild animals, such as the wolf, bear, and boar (see
chapter on Hunting), from an early date took the place of the animal
combats as far as the court and the nobles were concerned. The people were
therefore deprived of the spectacle of the combats which had had so much
charm for them; and as they could not resort to the alternative of the
chase, they treated themselves to a feeble imitation of the games of the
circus in such amusements as setting dogs to worry old horses or donkeys,
&c. (Fig. 166). Bull-fights, nevertheless, continued in the southern
provinces of France, as also in Spain.

At village feasts not only did wrestling matches take place, but also
queer kinds of combats with sticks or birch boughs. Two men, blindfolded,
each armed with a stick, and holding in his hand a rope fastened to a
stake, entered the arena, and went round and round trying to strike at a
fat goose or a pig which was also let loose with them. It can easily be
imagined that the greater number of the blows fell like hail on one or
other of the principal actors in this blind combat, amidst shouts of
laughter from the spectators.

[Illustration: Fig. 166.--Fight between a Horse and Dogs.--Fac-simile of a
Manuscript in the British Museum (Thirteenth Century).]

Nothing amused our ancestors more than these blind encounters; even kings
took part at these burlesque representations. At Mid-Lent annually they
attended with their court at the Quinze-Vingts, in Paris, in order to see
blindfold persons, armed from head to foot, fighting with a lance or
stick. This amusement was quite sufficient to attract all Paris. In 1425,
on the last day of August, the inhabitants of the capital crowded their
windows to witness the procession of four blind men, clothed in full
armour, like knights going to a tournament, and preceded by two men, one
playing the hautbois and the other bearing a banner on which a pig was
painted. These four champions on the next day attacked a pig, which was to
become the property of the one who killed it. The lists were situated in
the court of the Hôtel d'Armagnac, the present site of the Palais Royal. A
great crowd attended the encounter. The blind men, armed with all sorts of
weapons, belaboured each other so furiously that the game would have ended
fatally to one or more of them had they not been separated and made to
divide the pig which they had all so well earned.

[Illustration: Fig. 167.--Merchants and Lion-keepers at Constantinople.--Fac-simile of
an Engraving on Wood from the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Thevet: folio,

The people of the Middle Ages had an insatiable love of sight-seeing; they
came great distances, from all parts, to witness any amusing exhibition.
They would suffer any amount of privation or fatigue to indulge this
feeling, and they gave themselves up to it so heartily that it became a
solace to them in their greatest sorrows, and they laughed with that
hearty laugh which may be said to be one of their natural characteristics.
In all public processions in the open air the crowd (or rather, as we
might say, the Cockneys of Paris), in their anxiety to see everything that
was to be seen, would frequently obstruct all the public avenues, and so
prevent the procession from passing along. In consequence of this the
Provosts of Paris on these occasions distributed hundreds of stout sticks
amongst the sergeants, who used them freely on the shoulders of the most
obstinate sight-seers (see chapter on Ceremonials). There was no religious
procession, no parish fair, no municipal feast, and no parade or review of
troops, which did not bring together crowds of people, whose ears and eyes
were wide open, if only to hear the sound of the trumpet, or to see a "dog
rush past with a frying-pan tied to his tail."

[Illustration: Fig. 168.--Free Distribution of Bread, Meat, and Wine to the
People.--Reduced Copy of a Woodcut of the Solemn Entry of Charles V and
Pope Clement VII into Bologna, in 1530.]

This curiosity of the French was particularly exhibited when the kings of
the first royal dynasty held their _Champs de Mars_, the kings of the
second dynasty their _Cours Plenières_, and the kings of the third dynasty
their _Cours Couronnées._ In these assemblies, where the King gathered
together all his principal vassals once or twice a year, to hold personal
communication with them, and to strengthen his power by ensuring their
feudal services, large quantities of food and fermented liquors were
publicly distributed among the people (Fig. 168). The populace were always
most enthusiastic spectators of military displays, of court ceremonies,
and, above all, of the various amusements which royalty provided for them
at great cost in those days: and it was on these state occasions that
jugglers, tumblers, and minstrels displayed their talents. The _Champ de
Mars_ was one of the principal fêtes of the year, and was held sometimes
in the centre of some large town, sometimes in a royal domain, and
sometimes in the open country. Bishop Gregory of Tours describes one which
was given in his diocese during the reign of Chilpéric, at the Easter
festivals, at which we may be sure that the games of the circus,
re-established by Chilpéric, excited the greatest interest. Charlemagne
also held _Champs de Mars_, but called them _Cours Royales,_ at which he
appeared dressed in cloth of gold studded all over with pearls and
precious stones. Under the third dynasty King Robert celebrated court days
with the same magnificence, and the people were admitted to the palace
during the royal banquet to witness the King sitting amongst his great
officers of state. The _Cours Plénières_, which were always held at
Christmas, Twelfth-day, Easter, and on the day of Pentecost, were not less
brilliant during the reigns of Robert's successors. Louis IX. himself,
notwithstanding his natural shyness and his taste for simplicity, was
noted for the display he made on state occasions. In 1350, Philippe de
Valois wore his crown at the _Cours Plénières_, and from that time they
were called _Cours Couronnées_. The kings of jugglers were the privileged
performers, and their feats and the other amusements, which continued on
each occasion for several days, were provided for at the sovereign's sole

[Illustration: Fig. 169.--Feats in Balancing.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Thirteenth Century).]

These kings of jugglers exercised a supreme authority over the art of
jugglery and over all the members of this jovial fraternity. It must not
be imagined that these jugglers merely recited snatches from tales and
fables in rhyme; this was the least of their talents. The cleverest of
them played all sorts of musical instruments, sung songs, and repeated by
heart a multitude of stories, after the example of their reputed
forefather, King Borgabed, or Bédabie, who, according to these
troubadours, was King of Great Britain at the time that Alexander the
Great was King of Macedonia. The jugglers of a lower order especially
excelled in tumbling and in tricks of legerdemain (Figs. 169 and 170).
They threw wonderful somersaults, they leaped through hoops placed at
certain distances from one another, they played with knives, slings,
baskets, brass balls, and earthenware plates, and they walked on their
hands with their feet in the air or with their heads turned downwards so
as to look through their legs backwards. These acrobatic feats were even
practised by women. According to a legend, the daughter of Herodias was a
renowned acrobat, and on a bas-relief in the Cathedral of Rouen we find
this Jewish dancer turning somersaults before Herod, so as to fascinate
him, and thus obtain the decapitation of John the Baptist.

[Illustration: Fig. 170.--Sword-dance to the sound of the Bagpipe.--Fac-simile of a
Manuscript in the British Museum (Fourteenth Century).]

"The jugglers," adds M. de Labédollière, in his clever work on "The
Private Life of the French," "often led about bears, monkeys, and other
animals, which they taught to dance or to fight (Figs. 171 and 172). A
manuscript in the National Library represents a banquet, and around the
table, so as to amuse the guests, performances of animals are going on,
such as monkeys riding on horseback, a bear feigning to be dead, a goat
playing the harp, and dogs walking on their hind legs." We find the same
grotesque figures on sculptures, on the capitals of churches, on the
illuminated margins of manuscripts of theology, and on prayer-books, which
seems to indicate that jugglers were the associates of painters and
illuminators, even if they themselves were not the writers and
illuminators of the manuscripts. "Jugglery," M. de Labédollière goes on to
say, "at that time embraced poetry, music, dancing, sleight of hand,
conjuring, wrestling, boxing, and the training of animals. Its humblest
practitioners were the mimics or grimacers, in many-coloured garments, and
brazen-faced mountebanks, who provoked laughter at the expense of

[Illustration: Fig. 171.--Jugglers exhibiting Monkeys and
Bears.--Fac-simile of a Manuscript in the British Museum (Thirteenth

At first, and down to the thirteenth century, the profession of a juggler
was a most lucrative one. There was no public or private feast of any
importance without the profession being represented. Their mimicry and
acrobatic feats were less thought of than their long poems or lays of wars
and adventures, which they recited in doggerel rhyme to the accompaniment
of a stringed instrument. The doors of the châteaux were always open to
them, and they had a place assigned to them at all feasts. They were the
principal attraction at the _Cours Plénières_, and, according to the
testimony of one of their poets, they frequently retired from business
loaded with presents, such as riding-horses, carriage-horses, jewels,
cloaks, fur robes, clothing of violet or scarlet cloth, and, above all,
with large sums of money. They loved to recall with pride the heroic
memory of one of their own calling, the brave Norman, Taillefer, who,
before the battle of Hastings, advanced alone on horseback between the two
armies about to commence the engagement, and drew off the attention of the
English by singing them the song of Roland. He then began juggling, and
taking his lance by the hilt, he threw it into the air and caught it by
the point as it fell; then, drawing his sword, he spun it several times
over his head, and caught it in a similar way as it fell. After these
skilful exercises, during which the enemy were gaping in mute
astonishment, he forced his charger through the English ranks, and caused
great havoc before he fell, positively riddled with wounds.

Notwithstanding this noble instance, not to belie the old proverb,
jugglers were never received into the order of knighthood. They were,
after a time, as much abused as they had before been extolled. Their
licentious lives reflected itself in their obscene language. Their
pantomimes, like their songs, showed that they were the votaries of the
lowest vices. The lower orders laughed at their coarseness, and were
amused at their juggleries; but the nobility were disgusted with them, and
they were absolutely excluded from the presence of ladies and girls in the
châteaux and houses of the bourgeoisie. We see in the tale of "Le Jugleor"
that they acquired ill fame everywhere, inasmuch as they were addicted to
every sort of vice. The clergy, and St. Bernard especially, denounced them
and held them up to public contempt. St. Bernard spoke thus of them in one
of his sermons written in the middle of the twelfth century: "A man fond
of jugglers will soon enough possess a wife whose name is Poverty. If it
happens that the tricks of jugglers are forced upon your notice, endeavour
to avoid them, and think of other things. The tricks of jugglers never
please God."

[Illustration: Fig. 172.--Equestrian Performances.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in an
English Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century.]

From this remark we may understand their fall as well as the disrepute in
which they were held at that time, and we are not surprised to find in an
old edition of the "Mémoires du Sire de Joinville" this passage, which is,
perhaps, an interpolation from a contemporary document: "St. Louis drove
from his kingdom all tumblers and players of sleight of hand, through whom
many evil habits and tastes had become engendered in the people." A
troubadour's story of this period shows that the jugglers wandered about
the country with their trained animals nearly starved; they were half
naked, and were often without anything on their heads, without coats,
without shoes, and always without money. The lower orders welcomed them,
and continued to admire and idolize them for their clever tricks (Fig.
173), but the bourgeois class, following the example of the nobility,
turned their backs upon them. In 1345 Guillaume de Gourmont, Provost of
Paris, forbad their singing or relating obscene stories, under penalty of
fine and imprisonment.

[Illustration: Fig. 173.--Jugglers performing in public.--From a Miniature
of the Manuscript of "Guarin de Loherane" (Thirteenth Century).--Library
of the Arsenal, Paris.]

Having been associated together as a confraternity since 1331, they lived
huddled together in one street of Paris, which took the name of _Rue des
Jougleurs_. It was at this period that the Church and Hospital of St.
Julian were founded through the exertions of Jacques Goure, a native of
Pistoia, and of Huet le Lorrain, who were both jugglers. The newly formed
brotherhood at once undertook to subscribe to this good work, and each
member did so according to his means. Their aid to the cost of the two
buildings was sixty livres, and they were both erected in the Rue St.
Martin, and placed under the protection of St. Julian the Martyr. The
chapel was consecrated on the last Sunday in September, 1335, and on the
front of it there were three figures, one representing a troubadour, one a
minstrel, and one a juggler, each with his various instruments.

The bad repute into which jugglers had fallen did not prevent the kings of
France from attaching buffoons, or fools, as they were generally called,
to their households, who were often more or less deformed dwarfs, and who,
to all intents and purposes, were jugglers. They were allowed to indulge
in every sort of impertinence and waggery in order to excite the
risibility of their masters (Figs. 174 and 175). These buffoons or fools
were an institution at court until the time of Louis XIV., and several,
such as Caillette, Triboulet, and Brusquet, are better known in history
than many of the statesmen and soldiers who were their contemporaries.

[Illustration: Fig. 174.--Dance of Fools.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in
Manuscript of the Thirteenth Century in the Bodleian Library of Oxford.]

At the end of the fourteenth century the brotherhood of jugglers divided
itself into two distinct classes, the jugglers proper and the tumblers.
The former continued to recite serious or amusing poetry, to sing
love-songs, to play comic interludes, either singly or in concert, in the
streets or in the houses, accompanying themselves or being accompanied by
all sorts of musical instruments. The tumblers, on the other hand, devoted
themselves exclusively to feats of agility or of skill, the exhibition of
trained animals, the making of comic grimaces, and tight-rope dancing.

[Illustration: A Court-Fool, of the 15th Century.

Fac-simile of a miniature from a ms. in the Bibl. de l'Arsenal, Th. lat.,
no 125.]

The art of rope dancing is very ancient; it was patronised by the
Franks, who looked upon it as a marvellous effort of human genius. The
most remarkable rope-dancers of that time were of Indian origin. All
performers in this art came originally from the East, although they
afterwards trained pupils in the countries through which they passed,
recruiting themselves chiefly from the mixed tribe of jugglers. According
to a document quoted by the learned Foncemagne, rope-dancers appeared as
early as 1327 at the entertainments given at state banquets by the kings
of France. But long before that time they are mentioned in the poems of
troubadours as the necessary auxiliaries of any feast given by the
nobility, or even by the monasteries. From the fourteenth to the end of
the sixteenth century they were never absent from any public ceremonial,
and it was at the state entries of kings and queens, princes and
princesses, that they were especially called upon to display their

[Illustration: Fig. 175.--Court Fool.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: folio (Basle, 1552).]

One of the most extraordinary examples of the daring of these tumblers is
to be found in the records of the entry of Queen Isabel of Bavaria into
Paris, in 1385 (see chapter on Ceremonials); and, indeed, all the
chronicles of the fifteenth century are full of anecdotes of their doings.
Mathieu de Coucy, who wrote a history of the time of Charles VII., relates
some very curious details respecting a show which took place at Milan, and
which astonished the whole of Europe:--"The Duke of Milan ordered a rope
to be stretched across his palace, about one hundred and fifty feet from
the ground, and of equal length. On to this a Portuguese mounted, walked
straight along, going backwards and forwards, and dancing to the sound of
the tambourine. He also hung from the rope with his head downwards, and
went through all sorts of tricks. The ladies who were looking on could not
help hiding their eyes in their handkerchiefs, from fear lest they should
see him overbalance and fall and kill himself." The chronicler of Charles
XII., Jean d'Arton, tells us of a not less remarkable feat, performed on
the occasion of the obsequies of Duke Pierre de Bourbon, which were
celebrated at Moulins, in the month of October, 1503, in the presence of
the king and the court. "Amongst other performances was that of a German
tight-rope dancer, named Georges Menustre, a very young man, who had a
thick rope stretched across from the highest part of the tower of the
Castle of Mâcon to the windows of the steeple of the Church of the
Jacobites. The height of this from the ground was twenty-five fathoms, and
the distance from the castle to the steeple some two hundred and fifty
paces. On two evenings in succession he walked along this rope, and on the
second occasion when he started from the tower of the castle his feat was
witnessed by the king and upwards of thirty thousand persons. He performed
all sorts of graceful tricks, such as dancing grotesque dances to music
and hanging to the rope by his feet and by his teeth. Although so strange
and marvellous, these feats were nevertheless actually performed, unless
human sight had been deceived by magic. A female dancer also performed in
a novel way, cutting capers, throwing somersaults, and performing graceful
Moorish and other remarkable and peculiar dances." Such was their manner
of celebrating a funeral.

In the sixteenth century these dancers and tumblers became so numerous
that they were to be met with everywhere, in the provinces as well as in
the towns. Many of them were Bohemians or Zingari. They travelled in
companies, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes with
some sort of a conveyance containing the accessories of their craft and a
travelling theatre. But people began to tire of these sorts of
entertainments, the more so as they were required to pay for them, and
they naturally preferred the public rejoicings, which cost them nothing.
They were particularly fond of illuminations and fireworks, which are of
much later origin than the invention of gunpowder; although the Saracens,
at the time of the Crusades, used a Greek fire for illuminations, which
considerably alarmed the Crusaders when they first witnessed its effects.
Regular fireworks appear to have been invented in Italy, where the
pyrotechnic art has retained its superiority to this day, and where the
inhabitants are as enthusiastic as ever for this sort of amusement, and
consider it, in fact, inseparable from every religious, private, or public
festival. This Italian invention was first introduced into the Low
Countries by the Spaniards, where it found many admirers, and it made its
appearance in France with the Italian artists who established themselves
in that country in the reigns of Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I.
Fireworks could not fail to be attractive at the Court of the Valois, to
which Catherine de Médicis had introduced the manners and customs of
Italy. The French, who up to that time had only been accustomed to the
illuminations of St. John's Day and of the first Sunday in Lent, received
those fireworks with great enthusiasm, and they soon became a regular part
of the programme for public festivals (Fig. 176).

[Illustration: Fig. 176.--Fireworks on the Water, with an Imitation of a
Naval Combat.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on Copper of the "Pyrotechnie"
of Hanzelet le Lorrain: 4to (Pont-à-Mousson, 1630).]

We have hitherto only described the sports engaged in for the amusement of
the spectators; we have still to describe those in which the actors took
greater pleasure than even the spectators themselves. These were specially
the games of strength and skill as well as dancing, with a notice of which
we shall conclude this chapter. There were, besides, the various games of
chance and the games of fun and humour. Most of the bourgeois and the
villagers played a variety of games of agility, many of which have
descended to our times, and are still to be found at our schools and
colleges. Wrestling, running races, the game of bars, high and wide
jumping, leap-frog, blind-man's buff, games of ball of all sorts,
gymnastics, and all exercises which strengthened the body or added to the
suppleness of the limbs, were long in use among the youth of the nobility
(Figs. 177 and 178). The Lord of Fleuranges, in his memoirs written at the
court of Francis I., recounts numerous exercises to which he devoted
himself during his childhood and youth, and which were then looked upon as
a necessary part of the education of chivalry. The nobles in this way
acquired a taste for physical exercises, and took naturally to combats,
tournaments, and hunting, and subsequently their services in the
battle-field gave them plenty of opportunities to gratify the taste thus
developed in them. These were not, however, sufficient for their
insatiable activity; when they could not do anything else, they played at
tennis and such games at all hours of the day; and these pastimes had so
much attraction for nobles of all ages that they not unfrequently
sacrificed their health in consequence of overtaxing their strength. In
1506 the King of Castile, Philippe le Beau, died of pleurisy, from a
severe cold which he caught while playing tennis.

[Illustration: Fig. 177.--Somersaults.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
"Exercises in Leaping and Vaulting," by A. Tuccaro: 4to (Paris, 1599).]

Tennis also became the favourite game amongst the bourgeois in the towns,
and tennis-courts were built in all parts, of such spacious proportions
and so well adapted for spectators, that they were often converted into
theatres. Their game of billiards resembled the modern one only in name,
for it was played on a level piece of ground with wooden balls which were
struck with hooked sticks and mallets. It was in great repute in the
fourteenth century, for in 1396 Marshal de Boucicault, who was considered
one of the best players of his time, won at it six hundred francs (or more
than twenty-eight thousand francs of present currency). At the beginning
of the following century the Duke Louis d'Orleans ordered _billes et
billars_ to be bought for the sum of eleven sols six deniers tournois
(about fifteen francs of our money), that he might amuse himself with
them. There were several games of the same sort, which were not less
popular. Skittles; _la Soule_ or _Soulette_, which consisted of a large
ball of hay covered over with leather, the possession of which was
contested for by two opposing sides of players; Football; open Tennis;
Shuttlecock, &c. It was Charles V. who first thought of giving a more
serious and useful character to the games of the people, and who, in a
celebrated edict forbidding games of chance, encouraged the establishment
of companies of archers and bowmen. These companies, to which was
subsequently added that of the arquebusiers, outlived political
revolutions, and are still extant, especially in the northern provinces of

[Illustration: Fig. 178.--The Spring-board.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
"Exercises in Leaping and Vaulting," by A. Tuccaro: 4to (Paris, 1599).]

At all times and in all countries the games of chance were the most
popular, although they were forbidden both by ecclesiastical and royal
authority. New laws were continually being enacted against them, and
especially against those in which dice were used, though with little
avail. "Dice shall not be made in the kingdom," says the law of 1256; and
"those who are discovered using them, and frequenting taverns and bad
places, will be looked upon as suspicions characters." A law of 1291
repeats, "That games with dice be forbidden." Nevertheless, though these
prohibitions were frequently renewed, people continued to disregard them
and to lose much money at such games. The law of 1396 is aimed
particularly against loaded dice, which must have been contemporary with
the origin of dice themselves, for no games ever gave rise to a greater
amount of roguery than those of this description. They were, however,
publicly sold in spite of all the laws to the contrary; for, in the "Dit
du Mercier," the dealer offers his merchandise thus:--

  "J'ay dez de plus, j'ay dez de moins,
  De Paris, de Chartres, de Rains."

  ("I have heavy dice, I have light dice,
  From Paris, from Chartres, and from Rains.")

It has been said that the game of dice was at first called the _game of
God_, because the regulation of lottery was one of God's prerogatives; but
this derivation is purely imaginary. What appears more likely is, that
dice were first forbidden by the Church, and then by the civil
authorities, on account of the fearful oaths which were so apt to be
uttered by those players who had a run of ill luck. Nothing was commoner
than for people to ruin themselves at this game. The poems of troubadours
are full of imprecations against the fatal chance of dice; many
troubadours, such as Guillaume Magret and Gaucelm Faydit, lost their
fortunes at it, and their lives in consequence. Rutebeuf exclaims, in one
of his satires, "Dice rob me of all my clothes, dice kill me, dice watch
me, dice track me, dice attack me, and dice defy me." The blasphemies of
the gamblers did not always remain unpunished. "Philip Augustus," says
Bigord, in his Latin history of this king, "carried his aversion for oaths
to such an extent, that if any one, whether knight or of any other rank,
let one slip from his lips in the presence of the sovereign, even by
mistake, he was ordered to be immediately thrown into the river." Louis
XII., who was somewhat less severe, contented himself with having a hole
bored with a hot iron through the blasphemer's tongue.

[Illustration: Figs. 179 and 180.--French Cards for a Game of Piquet,
early Sixteenth Century.--Collection of the National Library of Paris.]

The work "On the Manner of playing with Dice," has handed down to us the
technical terms used in these games, which varied as much in practice as
in name. They sometimes played with three dice, sometimes with six;
different games were also in fashion, and in some the cast of the dice
alone decided. The games of cards were also most numerous, but it is not
our intention to give the origin of them here. It is sufficient to name a
few of the most popular ones in France, which were, Flux, Prime, Sequence,
Triomphe, Piquet, Trente-et-un, Passe-dix, Condemnade, Lansquenet,
Marriage, Gay, or J'ai, Malcontent, Hère, &c. (Figs. 179 and 180). All
these games, which were as much forbidden as dice, were played in taverns
as well as at court; and, just as there were loaded dice, so were there
also false cards, prepared by rogues for cheating. The greater number of
the games of cards formerly did not require the least skill on the part of
the players, chance alone deciding. The game of _Tables_, however,
required skill and calculation, for under this head were comprised all the
games which were played on a board, and particularly chess, draughts, and
backgammon. The invention of the game of chess has been attributed to the
Assyrians, and there can be no doubt but that it came from the East, and
reached Gaul about the beginning of the ninth century, although it was not
extensively known till about the twelfth. The annals of chivalry
continually speak of the barons playing at these games, and especially at
chess. Historians also mention chess, and show that it was played with
the same zest in the camp of the Saracens as in that of the Crusaders. We
must not be surprised if chess shared the prohibition laid upon dice, for
those who were ignorant of its ingenious combinations ranked it amongst
games of chance. The Council of Paris, in 1212, therefore condemned chess
for the same reasons as dice, and it was specially forbidden to church
people, who had begun to make it their habitual pastime. The royal edict
of 1254 was equally unjust with regard to this game. "We strictly forbid,"
says Louis IX., "any person to play at dice, tables, or chess." This pious
king set himself against these games, which he looked upon as inventions
of the devil. After the fatal day of Mansorah, in 1249, the King, who was
still in Egypt with the remnants of his army, asked what his brother, the
Comte d'Anjou, was doing. "He was told," says Joinville, "that he was
playing at tables with his Royal Highness Gaultier de Nemours. The King
was highly incensed against his brother, and, though most feeble from the
effects of his illness, went to him, and taking the dice and the tables,
had them thrown into the sea." Nevertheless Louis IX. received as a
present from the _Vieux de la Montagne_, chief of the Ismalians, a
chessboard made of gold and rock crystal, the pieces being of precious
metals beautifully worked. It has been asserted, but incorrectly, that
this chessboard was the one preserved in the Musée de Cluny, after having
long formed part of the treasures of the Kings of France.

Amongst the games comprised under the name of _tables_, it is sufficient
to mention that of draughts, which was formerly played with dice and with
the same men as were used for chess; also the game of _honchet_, or
_jonchées_, that is, bones or spillikins, games which required pieces or
men in the same way as chess, but which required more quickness of hand
than of intelligence; and _épingles_, or push-pin, which was played in a
similar manner to the _honchets_, and was the great amusement of the small
pages in the houses of the nobility. When they had not épingles, honchets,
or draughtsmen to play with, they used their fingers instead, and played a
game which is still most popular amongst the Italian people, called the
_morra_, and which was as much in vogue with the ancient Romans as it is
among the modern Italians. It consisted of suddenly raising as many
fingers as had been shown by one's adversary, and gave rise to a great
amount of amusement among the players and lookers-on. The games played by
girls were, of course, different from those in use among boys. The latter
played at marbles, _luettes_, peg or humming tops, quoits, _fouquet,
merelles_, and a number of other games, many of which are now unknown. The
girls, it is almost needless to say, from the earliest times played with
dolls. _Briche_, a game in which a brick and a small stick was used, were
also a favourite. _Martiaus_, or small quoits, wolf or fox, blind man's
buff, hide and seek, quoits, &c., were all girls' games. The greater part
of these amusements were enlivened by a chorus, which all the girls sang
together, or by dialogues sung or chanted in unison.

[Illustration: Fig. 181.--Allegorical Scene of one of the Courts of Love
in Provence--In the First Compartment, the God of Love, Cupid, is sitting
on the Stump of a Laurel-tree, wounding with his Darts those who do him
homage, the Second Compartment represents the Love Vows of Men and
Women.--From the Cover of a Looking-glass, carved in Ivory, of the end of
the Thirteenth Century.]

[Illustration: The Chess-Players.

After a miniature of "_The Three Ages of Man_", a ms. of the fifteenth
century attributed to Estienne Porchier. (Bibl. of M. Ambroise

The scene is laid in one of the saloons of the castle of
Plessis-les-Tours, the residence of Louis XI; in the player to the right,
the features of the king are recognisable.]

If children had their games, which for many generations continued
comparatively unchanged, so the dames and the young ladies had theirs,
consisting of gallantry and politeness, which only disappeared with those
harmless assemblies in which the two sexes vied with each other in
urbanity, friendly roguishness, and wit. It would require long antiquarian
researches to discover the origin and mode of playing many of these
pastimes, such as _des oes, des trois ânes, des accords bigarrés, du
jardin madame, de la fricade, du feiseau, de la mick_, and a number of
others which are named but not described in the records of the times. The
game _à l'oreille,_ the invention of which is attributed to the troubadour
Guillaume Adhémar, the _jeu des Valentines,_ or the game of lovers, and
the numerous games of forfeits, which have come down to us from the Courts
of Love of the Middle Ages, we find to be somewhat deprived of their
original simplicity in the way they are now played in country-houses in
the winter and at village festivals in the summer. But the Courts of Love
are no longer in existence gravely to superintend all these diversions
(Fig. 181).

Amongst the amusements which time has not obliterated, but which, on the
contrary, seem destined to be of longer duration than monuments of stone
and brass, we must name dancing, which was certainly one of the principal
amusements of society, and which has come down to us through all
religions, all customs, all people, and all ages, preserving at the same
time much of its original character. Dancing appears, at each period of
the world's history, to have been alternately religions and profane,
lively and solemn, frivolous and severe. Though dancing was as common an
amusement formerly as it is now, there was this essential difference
between the two periods, namely, that certain people, such as the Romans,
were very fond of seeing dancing, but did not join in it themselves.
Tiberius drove the dancers out of Rome, and Domitian dismissed certain
senators from their seats in the senate who had degraded themselves by
dancing; and there seems to be no doubt that the Romans, from the conquest
of Julius Caesar, did not themselves patronise the art. There were a
number of professional dancers in Gaul, as well as in the other provinces
of the Roman Empire, who were hired to dance at feasts, and who
endeavoured to do their best to make their art as popular as possible. The
lightheartedness of the Gauls, their natural gaiety, their love for
violent exercise and for pleasures of all sorts, made them delight in
dancing, and indulge in it with great energy; and thus, notwithstanding
the repugnance of the Roman aristocracy and the prohibitions and anathemas
of councils and synods, dancing has always been one of the favourite
pastimes of the Gauls and the French.

[Illustration: Fig. 182.--Dancers on Christmas Night punished for their
Impiety, and condemned to dance for a whole Year (Legend of the Fifteenth
Century).--Fac-simile of a Woodcut by P. Wohlgemuth, in the "Liber
Chronicorum Mundi:" folio (Nuremberg, 1493).]

Leuce Carin, a writer of doubtful authority, states that in the early
history of Christianity the faithful danced, or rather stamped, in
measured time during religions ceremonials, gesticulating and distorting
themselves. This is, however, a mistake. The only thing approaching to it
was the slight trace of the ancient Pagan dances which remained in the
feast of the first Sunday in Lent, and which probably belonged to the
religious ceremonies of the Druids. At nightfall fires were lighted in
public places, and numbers of people danced madly round them. Rioting and
disorderly conduct often resulted from this popular feast, and the
magistrates were obliged to interfere in order to suppress it. The church,
too, did not close her eyes to the abuses which this feast engendered,
although episcopal admonitions were not always listened to (Fig. 182). We
see, in the records of one of the most recent Councils of Narbonne, that
the custom of dancing in the churches and in the cemeteries on certain
feasts had not been abolished in some parts of the Languedoc at the end of
the sixteenth century.

Dancing was at all times forbidden by the Catholic Church on account of
its tendency to corrupt the morals, and for centuries ecclesiastical
authority was strenuously opposed to it; but, on the other hand, it could
not complain of want of encouragement from the civil power. When King
Childebert, in 554, forbade all dances in his domains, he was only induced
to do so by the influence of the bishops. We have but little information
respecting the dances of this period, and it would be impossible
accurately to determine as to the justice of their being forbidden. They
were certainly no longer those war-dances which the Franks had brought
with them, and which antiquarians have mentioned under the name of
_Pyrrhichienne_ dances. In any case, war-dances reappeared at the
commencement of chivalry; for, when a new knight was elected, all the
knights in full armour performed evolutions, either on foot or on
horseback, to the sound of military music, and the populace danced round
them. It has been said that this was the origin of court ballets, and La
Colombière, in his "Théâtre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie," relates that this
ancient dance of the knights was kept up by the Spaniards, who called it
the _Moresque_.

The Middle Ages was the great epoch for dancing, especially in France.
There were an endless number of dancing festivals, and, from reading the
old poets and romancers, one might imagine that the French had never
anything better to do than to dance, and that at all hours of the day and
night. A curious argument in favour of the practical utility of dancing is
suggested by Jean Tabourot in his "Orchésographie," published at Langres
in 1588, under the name of Thoinot Arbeau. He says, "Dancing is practised
in order to see whether lovers are healthy and suitable for one another:
at the end of a dance the gentlemen are permitted to kiss their
mistresses, in order that they may ascertain if they have an agreeable
breath. In this matter, besides many other good results which follow from
dancing, it becomes necessary for the good governing of society." Such was
the doctrine of the Courts of Love, which stoutly took up the defence of
dancing against the clergy. In those days, as soon as the two sexes were
assembled in sufficient numbers, before or after the feasts, the balls
began, and men and women took each other by the hand and commenced the
performance in regular steps (Fig. 183). The author of the poem of
Provence, called "Flamença," thus allegorically describes these
amusements: "Youth and Gaiety opened the ball, accompanied by their sister
Bravery; Cowardice, confused, went of her own accord and hid herself." The
troubadours mention a great number of dances, without describing them; no
doubt they were so familiar that they thought a description of them
needless. They often speak of the _danse au virlet_, a kind of round
dance, during the performance of which each person in turn sang a verse,
the chorus being repeated by all. In the code of the Courts of Love,
entitled "Arresta Amorum," that is, the decrees of love, the _pas de
Brabant_ is mentioned, in which each gentleman bent his knee before his
lady; and also the _danse au chapelet_, at the end of which each dancer
kissed his lady. Romances of chivalry frequently mention that knights used
to dance with the dames and young ladies without taking off their helmets
and coats of mail. Although this costume was hardly fitted for the
purpose, we find, in the romance of "Perceforet," that, after a repast,
whilst the tables were being removed, everything was prepared for a ball,
and that although the knights made no change in their accoutrements, yet
the ladies went and made fresh toilettes. "Then," says the old novelist,
"the young knights and the young ladies began to play their instruments
and to have the dance." From this custom may be traced the origin of the
ancient Gallic proverb, "_Après la panse vient la danse_" ("After the
feast comes the dance"). Sometimes a minstrel sang songs to the
accompaniment of the harp, and the young ladies danced in couples and
repeated at intervals the minstrel's songs. Sometimes the torch-dance was
performed; in this each performer bore in his hand a long lighted taper,
and endeavoured to prevent his neighbours from blowing it out, which each
one tried to do if possible (Fig. 184). This dance, which was in use up to
the end of the sixteenth century at court, was generally reserved for

[Illustration: Fig. 183.--Peasant Dances at the May Feasts.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in a Prayer-book of the Fifteenth Century, in the National
Library of Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 184.--Dance by Torchlight, a Scene at the Court of
Burgundy.--From a Painting on Wood of 1463, belonging to M. H. Casterman,
of Tournai (Belgium).]

Dancing lost much of its simplicity and harmlessness when masquerades were
introduced, these being the first examples of the ballet. These
masquerades, which soon after their introduction became passionately
indulged in at court under Charles VI., were, at first, only allowed
during Carnival, and on particular occasions called _Charivaris_, and they
were usually made the pretext for the practice of the most licentious
follies. These masquerades had a most unfortunate inauguration by the
catastrophe which rendered the madness of Charles VI. incurable, and which
is described in history under the name of the _Burning Ballet_. It was on
the 29th of January, 1393, that this ballet made famous the festival held
in the Royal Palace of St. Paul in Paris, on the occasion of the marriage
of one of the maids of honour of Queen Isabel of Bavaria with a gentleman
of Vermandois. The bride was a widow, and the second nuptials were deemed
a fitting occasion for the Charivaris.

[Illustration: Fig. 185.--The Burning Ballet.--Fac-simile of a Miniature
in the Manuscript of the "Chroniques" of Froissart (Fifteenth Century), in
the National Library of Paris.]

A gentleman from Normandy, named Hugonin de Grensay, thought he could
create a sensation by having a dance of wild men to please the ladies. "He
admitted to his plot," says Froissart, "the king and four of the principal
nobles of the court. These all had themselves sewn up in close-fitting
linen garments covered with resin on which a quantity of tow was glued,
and in this guise they appeared in the middle of the ball. The king was
alone, but the other four were chained together. They jumped about like
madmen, uttered wild cries, and made all sorts of eccentric gestures. No
one knew who these hideous objects were, but the Duke of Orleans
determined to find out, so he took a candle and imprudently approached too
near one of the men. The tow caught fire, and the flames enveloped him
and the other three who were chained to him in a moment." "They were
burning for nearly an hour like torches," says a chronicler. "The king had
the good fortune to escape the peril, because the Duchesse de Berry, his
aunt, recognised him, and had the presence of mind to envelop him in her
train" (Fig. 185). Such a calamity, one would have thought, might have
been sufficient to disgust people with masquerades, but they were none the
less in favour at court for many years afterwards; and, two centuries
later, the author of the "Orchésographie" thus writes on the subject:
"Kings and princes give dances and masquerades for amusement and in order
to afford a joyful welcome to foreign nobles; we also practise the same
amusements on the celebration of marriages." In no country in the world
was dancing practised with more grace and elegance than in France. Foreign
dances of every kind were introduced, and, after being remodelled and
brought to as great perfection as possible, they were often returned to
the countries from which they had been imported under almost a new

[Illustration: Fig. 186.--Musicians accompanying the Dancing.--Fac-simile
of a Wood Engraving in the "Orchésographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan
Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).]

In 1548, the dances of the Béarnais, which were much admired at the court
of the Comtes de Foix, especially those called the _danse mauresque_ and
the _danse des sauvages_, were introduced at the court of France, and
excited great merriment. So popular did they become, that with a little
modification they soon were considered essentially French. The German
dances, which were distinguished by the rapidity of their movements, were
also thoroughly established at the court of France. Italian, Milanese,
Spanish, and Piedmontese dances were in fashion in France before the
expedition of Charles VIII. into Italy: and when this king, followed by
his youthful nobility, passed over the mountains to march to the conquest
of Naples, he found everywhere in the towns that welcomed him, and in
which balls and masquerades were given in honour of his visit, the dance
_à la mode de France_, which consisted of a sort of medley of the dances
of all countries. Some hundreds of these dances have been enumerated in
the fifth book of the "Pantagruel" of Rabelais, and in various humorous
works of those who succeeded him. They owed their success to the singing
with which they were generally accompanied, or to the postures,
pantomimes, or drolleries with which they were supplemented for the
amusement of the spectators. A few, and amongst others that of the _five
steps_ and that of the _three faces_, are mentioned in the "History of the
Queen of Navarre."

[Illustration: Fig. 187.--The Dance called "La Gaillarde."--Fac-simile of
Wood Engravings from the "Orchésographie" of Thoinot Arbeau (Jehan
Tabourot): 4to (Langres, 1588).]

Dances were divided into two distinct classes--_danses basses_, or common
and regular dances, which did not admit of jumping, violent movements, or
extraordinary contortions--and the _danses par haut_, which were
irregular, and comprised all sorts of antics and buffoonery. The regular
French dance was a _basse_ dance, called the _gaillarde_; it was
accompanied by the sound of the hautbois and tambourine, and originally it
was danced with great form and state. This is the dance which Jean
Tabouret has described; it began with the two performers standing opposite
to each other, advancing, bowing, and retiring. "These advancings and
retirings were done in steps to the time of the music, and continued until
the instrumental accompaniment stopped; then the gentleman made his bow
to the lady, took her by the hand, thanked her, and led her to her seat."
The _tourdion_ was similar to the _gaillarde_, only faster, and was
accompanied with more action. Each province of France had its national
dance, such as the _bourrée_ of Auvergne, the _trioris_ of Brittany, the
_branles_ of Poitou, and the _valses_ of Lorraine, which constituted a
very agreeable pastime, and one in which the French excelled all other
nations. This art, "so ancient, so honourable, and so profitable," to use
the words of Jean Tabourot, was long in esteem in the highest social
circles, and the old men liked to display their agility, and the dames and
young ladies to find a temperate exercise calculated to contribute to
their health as well as to their amusement.

The sixteenth century was the great era of dancing in all the courts of
Europe; but under the Valois, the art had more charm and prestige at the
court of France than anywhere else. The Queen-mother, Catherine,
surrounded by a crowd of pretty young ladies, who composed what she called
her _flying squadron_, presided at these exciting dances. A certain
Balthazar de Beaujoyeux was master of her ballets, and they danced at the
Castle of Blois the night before the Duc de Guise was assassinated under
the eyes of Henry III., just as they had danced at the Château of the
Tuileries the day after St. Bartholomew's Day.

[Illustration: Fig. 188.--The Game of Bob Apple, or Swinging
Apple.--Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the British Museum.]


  State of Commerce after the Fall of the Roman. Empire.--Its Revival
  under the Frankish Kings.--Its Prosperity under Charlemagne.--Its
  Decline down to the Time of the Crusaders.--The Levant Trade of the
  East.--Flourishing State of the Towns of Provence and
  Languedoc.--Establishment of Fairs.--Fairs of Landit, Champagne,
  Beaucaire, and Lyons.--Weights and Measures.--Commercial Flanders. Laws
  of Maritime Commerce.--Consular Laws.--Banks and Bills of
  Exchange.--French. Settlements on the Coast of Africa.--Consequences of
  the Discovery of America.

"Commerce in the Middle Ages," says M. Charles Grandmaison, "differed but
little from that of a more remote period. It was essentially a local and
limited traffic, rather inland than maritime, for long and perilous sea
voyages only commenced towards the end of the fifteenth century, or about
the time when Columbus discovered America."

On the fall of the Roman Empire, commerce was rendered insecure, and,
indeed, it was almost completely put a stop to by the barbarian invasions,
and all facility of communication between different nations, and even
between towns of the same country, was interrupted. In those times of
social confusion, there were periods of such poverty and distress, that
for want of money commerce was reduced to the simple exchange of the
positive necessaries of life. When order was a little restored, and
society and the minds of people became more composed, we see commerce
recovering its position; and France was, perhaps, the first country in
Europe in which this happy change took place. Those famous cities of Gaul,
which ancient authors describe to us as so rich and so industrious,
quickly recovered their former prosperity, and the friendly relations
which were established between the kings of the Franks and the Eastern
Empire encouraged the Gallic cities in cultivating a commerce, which was
at that time the most important and most extensive in the world.

Marseilles, the ancient Phoenician colony, once the rival and then the
successor to Carthage, was undoubtedly at the head of the commercial
cities of France. Next to her came Arles, which supplied ship-builders and
seamen to the fleet of Provence; and Narbonne, which admitted into its
harbour ships from Spain, Sicily, and Africa, until, in consequence of the
Aude having changed its course, it was obliged to relinquish the greater
part of its maritime commerce in favour of Montpellier.

[Illustration: Fig. 189.--View of Alexandria in Egypt, in the Sixteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Travels of P. Belon,
"Observations de Plusieurs Singularitez," &c.: 4to (Paris, 1588).]

Commerce maintained frequent communications with the East; it sought its
supplies on the coast of Syria, and especially at Alexandria, in Egypt,
which was a kind of depôt for goods obtained from the rich countries lying
beyond the Red Sea (Figs. 189 and 190). The Frank navigators imported from
these countries, groceries, linen, Egyptian paper, pearls, perfumes, and a
thousand other rare and choice articles. In exchange they offered chiefly
the precious metals in bars rather than coined, and it is probable that at
this period they also exported iron, wines, oil, and wax. The agricultural
produce and manufactures of Gaul had not sufficiently developed to
provide anything more than what was required for the producers themselves.
Industry was as yet, if not purely domestic, confined to monasteries and
to the houses of the nobility; and even the kings employed women or serf
workmen to manufacture the coarse stuffs with which they clothed
themselves and their households. We may add, that the bad state of the
roads, the little security they offered to travellers, the extortions of
all kinds to which foreign merchants were subjected, and above all the
iniquitous System of fines and tolls which each landowner thought right to
exact, before letting merchandise pass through his domains, all created
insuperable obstacles to the development of commerce.

[Illustration: Fig. 190.--Transport of Merchandise on the Backs of
Camels.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle," of
Thevet: folio, 1575.]

The Frank kings on several occasions evinced a desire that communications
favourable to trade should be re-established in their dominions. We find,
for instance, Chilpéric making treaties with Eastern emperors in favour
of the merchants of Agde and Marseilles, Queen Brunehaut making viaducts
worthy of the Romans, and which still bear her name, and Dagobert opening
at St. Denis free fairs--that is to say, free, or nearly so, from all
tolls and taxes--to which goods, both agricultural and manufactured, were
sent from every corner of Europe and the known world, to be afterwards
distributed through the towns and provinces by the enterprise of internal

After the reign of Dagobert, commerce again declined without positively
ceasing, for the revolution, which transferred the power of the kings to
the mayors of the palace was not of a nature to exhaust the resources of
public prosperity; and a charter of 710 proves that the merchants of
Saxony, England, Normandy, and even Hungary, still flocked to the fairs of
St. Denis.

Under the powerful and administrative hand of Charlemagne, the roads being
better kept up, and the rivers being made more navigable, commerce became
safe and more general; the coasts were protected from piratical
incursions; lighthouses were erected at dangerous points, to prevent
shipwrecks; and treaties of commerce with foreign nations, including even
the most distant, guaranteed the liberty and security of French traders

Under the weak successors of this monarch, notwithstanding their many
efforts, commerce was again subjected to all sorts of injustice and
extortions, and all its safeguards were rapidly destroyed. The Moors in
the south, and the Normans in the north, appeared to desire to destroy
everything which came in their way, and already Marseilles, in 838, was
taken and pillaged by the Greeks. The constant altercations between the
sons of Louis le Débonnaire and their unfortunate father, their jealousies
amongst themselves, and their fratricidal wars, increased the measure of
public calamity, so that soon, overrun by foreign enemies and destroyed by
her own sons, France became a vast field of disorder and desolation.

The Church, which alone possessed some social influence, never ceased to
use its authority in endeavouring to remedy this miserable state of
things; but episcopal edicts, papal anathemas, and decrees of councils,
had only a partial effect at this unhappy period. At any moment
agricultural and commercial operations were liable to be interrupted, if
not completely ruined, by the violence of a wild and rapacious soldiery;
at every step the roads, often impassable, were intercepted by toll-bars
for some due of a vexatious nature, besides being continually infested by
bands of brigands, who carried off the merchandise and murdered those few
merchants who were so bold as to attempt to continue their business. It
was the Church, occupied as she was with the interests of civilisation,
who again assisted commerce to emerge from the state of annihilation into
which it had fallen; and the "Peace or Truce of God," established in 1041,
endeavoured to stop at least the internal wars of feudalism, and it
succeeded, at any rate for a time, in arresting these disorders. This was
all that could be done at that period, and the Church accomplished it, by
taking the high hand; and with as much unselfishness as energy and
courage, she regulated society, which had been abandoned by the civil
power from sheer impotence and want of administrative capability.

[Illustration: Fig. 191.--Trade on the Seaports of the Levant.--After a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Travels of Marco Polo (Fifteenth
Century), Library of the Arsenal of Paris.]

At all events, thanks to ecclesiastical foresight, which increased the
number of fairs and markets at the gates of abbeys and convents, the first
step was made towards the general resuscitation of commerce. Indeed, the
Church may be said to have largely contributed to develop the spirit of
progress and liberty, whence were to spring societies and nationalities,
and, in a word, modern organization.

The Eastern commerce furnished the first elements of that trading activity
which showed itself on the borders of the Mediterranean, and we find the
ancient towns of Provence and Languedoc springing up again by the aide of
the republics of Amalfi, Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, which had become the
rich depôts of all maritime trade.

At first, as we have already stated, the wares of India came to Europe
through the Greek port of Alexandria, or through Constantinople. The
Crusades, which had facilitated the relations with Eastern countries,
developed a taste in the West for their indigenous productions, gave a
fresh vigour to this foreign commerce, and rendered it more productive by
removing the stumbling blocks which had arrested its progress (Fig. 191).

The conquest of Palestine by the Crusaders had first opened all the towns
and harbours of this wealthy region to Western traders, and many of them
were able permanently to establish themselves there, with all sorts of
privileges and exemptions from taxes, which were gladly offered to them by
the nobles who had transferred feudal power to Mussulman territories.

Ocean commerce assumed from this moment proportions hitherto unknown.
Notwithstanding the papal bulls and decrees, which forbade Christians from
having any connection with infidels, the voice of interest was more
listened to than that of the Church (Fig. 192), and traders did not fear
to disobey the political and religions orders which forbade them to carry
arms and slaves to the enemies of the faith.

It was easy to foretell, from the very first, that the military occupation
of the Holy Land would not be permanent. In consequence of this,
therefore, the nearer the loss of this fine conquest seemed to be, the
greater were the efforts made by the maritime towns of the West to
re-establish, on a more solid and lasting basis, a commercial alliance
with Egypt, the country which they selected to replace Palestine, in a
mercantile point of view. Marseilles was the greatest supporter of this
intercourse with Egypt; and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries she
reached a very high position, which she owed to her shipowners and
traders. In the fourteenth century, however, the princes of the house of
Anjou ruined her like the rest of Provence, in the great and fruitless
efforts which they made to recover the kingdom of Naples; and it was not
until the reign of Louis XI. that the old Phoenician city recovered its
maritime and commercial prosperity (Fig. 193).

[Illustration: Fig. 192.--Merchant Vessel in a Storm.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Grand Kalendrier et Compost des Bergers," in folio:
printed at Troyes, about 1490, by Nicolas de Rouge.[*]

  [Footnote *: "Mortal man, living in the world, is compared to a vessel
  on perilous seas, bearing rich merchandise, by which, if it can come to
  harbour, the merchant will be rendered rich and happy. The ship from the
  commencement to the end of its voyage is in great peril of being lost or
  taken by an enemy, for the seas are always beset with perils. So is the
  body of man during its sojourn in the world. The merchandise he bears is
  his soul, his virtues, and his good deeds. The harbour is paradise, and
  he who reaches that haven is made supremely rich. The sea is the world,
  full of vices and sins, and in which all, during their passage through
  life, are in peril and danger of losing body and soul and of being
  drowned in the infernal sea, from which God in His grace keep us!

[Illustration: Fig. 193.--View and Plan of Marseilles and its Harbour, in
the Sixteenth Century.--From a Copper-plate in the Collection of G. Bruin,
in folio: "Théâtre des Citez du Monde."]

Languedoc, depressed, and for a time nearly ruined in the thirteenth
century by the effect of the wars of the Albigenses, was enabled,
subsequently, to recover itself. Béziers, Agde, Narbonne, and especially
Montpellier, so quickly established important trading connections with all
the ports of the Mediterranean, that at the end of the fourteenth century
consuls were appointed at each of these towns, in order to protect and
direct their transmarine commerce. A traveller of the twelfth century,
Benjamin de Tudèle, relates that in these ports, which were afterwards
called the stepping stones to the Levant, every language in the world
might be heard.

Toulouse was soon on a par with the towns of Lower Languedoc, and the
Garonne poured into the markets, not only the produce of Guienne, and of
the western parts of France, but also those of Flanders, Normandy, and
England. We may observe, however, that Bordeaux, although placed in a most
advantageous position, at the mouth of the river, only possessed, when
under the English dominion, a very limited commerce, principally confined
to the export of wines to Great Britain in exchange for corn, oil, &c.

La Rochelle, on the same coast, was much more flourishing at this period,
owing to the numerous coasters which carried the wines of Aunis and
Saintonge, and the salt of Brouage to Flanders, the Netherlands, and the
north of Germany. Vitré already had its silk manufactories in the
fifteenth century, and Nantes gave promise of her future greatness as a
depôt of maritime commerce. It was about this time also that the fisheries
became a new industry, in which Bayonne and a few villages on the
sea-coast took the lead, some being especially engaged in whaling, and
others in the cod and herring fisheries (Fig. 194).

Long before this, Normandy had depended on other branches of trade for its
commercial prosperity. Its fabrics of woollen stuffs, its arms and
cutlery, besides the agricultural productions of its fertile and
well-cultivated soil, each furnished material for export on a large scale.

The towns of Rouen and Caen were especially manufacturing cities, and were
very rich. This was the case with Rouen particularly, which was situated
on the Seine, and was at that time an extensive depôt for provisions and
other merchandise which was sent down the river for export, or was
imported for future internal consumption. Already Paris, the abode of
kings, and the metropolis of government, began to foreshadow the immense
development which it was destined to undergo, by becoming the centre of
commercial affairs, and by daily adding to its labouring and mercantile
population (Figs. 195 and 196).

It was, however, outside the walls of Paris that commerce, which needed
liberty as well as protection, at first progressed most rapidly. The
northern provinces had early united manufacturing industry with traffic,
and this double source of local prosperity was the origin of their
enormous wealth. Ghent and Bruges in the Low Countries, and Beauvais and
Arras, were celebrated for their manufacture of cloths, carpets, and
serge, and Cambrai for its fine cloths. The artizans and merchants of
these industrious cities then established their powerful corporations,
whose unwearied energy gave rise to that commercial freedom so favourable
to trade.

[Illustration: Fig. 194. Whale-Fishing. Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Thevet, in folio: Paris, 1574.]

More important than the woollen manufactures--for the greater part of the
wool used was brought from England--was the manufacture of flax, inasmuch
as it encouraged agriculture, the raw material being produced in France.
This first flourished in the north-east of France, and spread slowly to
Picardy, to Beauvois, and Brittany. The central countries, with the
exception of Bruges, whose cloth manufactories were already celebrated in
the fifteenth century, remained essentially agricultural; and their
principal towns were merely depôts for imported goods. The institution of
fairs, however, rendered, it is true, this commerce of some of the towns
as wide-spread as it was productive. In the Middle Ages religious feasts
and ceremonials almost always gave rise to fairs, which commerce was not
slow in multiplying as much as possible. The merchants naturally came to
exhibit their goods where the largest concourse of people afforded the
greatest promise of their readily disposing of them. As early as the first
dynasty of Merovingian kings, temporary and periodical markets of this
kind existed; but, except at St. Denis, articles of local consumption only
were brought to them. The reasons for this were, the heavy taxes which
were levied by the feudal lords on all merchandise exhibited for sale, and
the danger which foreign merchants ran of being plundered on their way, or
even at the fair itself. These causes for a long time delayed the progress
of an institution which was afterwards destined to become so useful and
beneficial to all classes of the community.

We have several times mentioned the famous fair of Landit, which is
supposed to have been established by Charlemagne, but which no doubt was a
sort of revival of the fairs of St. Denis, founded by Dagobert, and which
for a time had fallen into disuse in the midst of the general ruin which
preceded that emperor's reign. This fair of Landit was renowned over the
whole of Europe, and attracted merchants from all countries. It was held
in the month of June, and only lasted fifteen days. Goods of all sorts,
both of home and foreign manufacture, were sold, but the sale of parchment
was the principal object of the fair, to purchase a supply of which the
University of Paris regularly went in procession. On account of its
special character, this fair was of less general importance than the six
others, which from the twelfth century were held at Troyes, Provins,
Lagny-sur-Marne, Rheims, and Bar-sur-Aube. These infused so much
commercial vitality into the province of Champagne, that the nobles for
the most part shook off the prejudice which forbad their entering into any
sort of trading association.

Fairs multiplied in the centre and in the south of France simultaneously.
Those of Puy-en-Velay, now the capital of the Haute-Loire, are looked upon
as the most ancient, and they preserved their old reputation and attracted
a considerable concourse of people, which was also increased by the
pilgrimages then made to Notre-Dame du Puy. These fairs, which were more
of a religious than of a commercial character, were then of less
importance as regards trade than those held at Beaucaire. This town rose
to great repute in the thirteenth century, and, with the Lyons market,
became at that time the largest centre of commerce in the southern
provinces. Placed at the junction of the Saóne and the Rhône, Lyons owed
its commercial development to the proximity of Marseilles and the towns of
Italy. Its four annual fairs were always much frequented, and when the
kings of France transferred to it the privileges of the fairs of
Champagne, and transplanted to within its walls the silk manufactories
formerly established at Tours, Lyons really became the second city of

[Illustration: Fig. 195.--Measurers of Corn in Paris.

Fig. 196.--Hay Carriers.

Fac-simile of Woodcuts from the "Royal Orders concerning the Jurisdiction
of the Company of Merchants and Shrievalty in the City of Paris," in small
folio goth.: Jacques Nyverd, 1528.]

It may be asserted as an established fact that the gradual extension of
the power of the king, produced by the fall of feudalism, was favourable
to the extension of commerce. As early as the reign of Louis IX. many laws
and regulations prove that the kings were alive to the importance of
trade. Among the chief enactments was one which led to the formation of
the harbour of Aigues-Mortes on the Mediterranean; another to the
publication of the book of "Weights and Measures," by Etienne Boileau, a
work in which the ancient statutes of the various trades were arranged and
codified; and a third to the enactment made in the very year of this
king's death, to guarantee the security of vendors, and, at the same time,
to ensure purchasers against fraud. All these bear undoubted witness that
an enlightened policy in favour of commerce had already sprung up.

Philippe le Bel issued several prohibitory enactments also in the interest
of home commerce and local industry, which Louis X. confirmed. Philippe le
Long attempted even to outdo the judicious efforts of Louis XI., and
tried, though unsuccessfully, to establish a uniformity in the weights and
measures throughout the kingdom; a reform, however, which was never
accomplished until the revolution of 1789. It is difficult to credit how
many different weights and measures were in use at that time, each one
varying according to local custom or the choice of the lord of the soil,
who probably in some way profited by the confusion which this uncertain
state of things must have produced. The fraud and errors to which this led
may easily be imagined, particularly in the intercourse between one part
of the country and another. The feudal stamp is here thoroughly exhibited;
as M. Charles de Grandmaison remarks, "Nothing is fixed, nothing is
uniform, everything is special and arbitrary, settled by the lord of the
soil by virtue of his right of _justesse_, by which he undertook the
regulation and superintendence of the weights and measures in use in his

Measures of length and contents often differed much from one another,
although they might be similarly named, and it would require very
complicated comparative tables approximately to fix their value. The _pied
de roi_ was from ten to twelve inches, and was the least varying measure.
The fathom differed much in different parts, and in the attempt to
determine the relations between the innumerable measures of contents which
we find recorded--a knowledge of which must have been necessary for the
commerce of the period--we are stopped by a labyrinth of incomprehensible
calculations, which it is impossible to determine with any degree of

The weights were more uniform and less uncertain. The pound was everywhere
in use, but it was not everywhere of the same standard (Fig. 201). For
instance, at Paris it weighed sixteen ounces, whereas at Lyons it only
weighed fourteen; and in weighing silk fifteen ounces to the pound was
the rule. At Toulouse and in Upper Languedoc the pound was only thirteen
and a half ounces; at Marseilles, thirteen ounces; and at other places it
even fell to twelve ounces. There was in Paris a public scale called
_poids du roi_; but this scale, though a most important means of revenue,
was a great hindrance to retail trade.

In spite of these petty and irritating impediments, the commerce of France
extended throughout the whole world.

[Illustration: Fig. 197.--View of Lubeck and its Harbour (Sixteenth
Century).--From a Copper-plate in the Work of P. Bertius, "Commentaria
Rerum Germanicarum," in 4to: Amsterdam, 1616.]

The compass--known in Italy as early as the twelfth century, but little
used until the fourteenth--enabled the mercantile navy to discover new
routes, and it was thus that true maritime commerce may be said regularly
to have begun. The sailors of the Mediterranean, with the help of this
little instrument, dared to pass the Straits of Gibraltar, and to venture
on the ocean. From that moment commercial intercourse, which had
previously only existed by land, and that with great difficulty, was
permanently established between the northern and southern harbours of

Flanders was the central port for merchant vessels, which arrived in great
numbers from the Mediterranean, and Bruges became the principal depôt.
The Teutonic league, the origin of which dates from the thirteenth
century, and which formed the most powerful confederacy recorded in
history, also sent innumerable vessels from its harbours of Lubeck (Fig.
197) and Hamburg. These carried the merchandise of the northern countries
into Flanders, and this rich province, which excelled in every branch of
industry, and especially in those relating to metals and weaving, became
the great market of Europe (Fig. 198).

The commercial movement, formerly limited to the shores of the
Mediterranean, extended to all parts, and gradually became universal. The
northern states shared in it, and England, which for a long time kept
aloof from a stage on which it was destined to play the first part, began
to give indications of its future commercial greatness. The number of
transactions increased as the facility for carrying them on became
greater. Consumption being extended, production progressively followed,
and so commerce went on gaining strength as it widened its sphere.
Everything, in fact, seemed to contribute to its expansion. The downfall
of the feudal system and the establishment in each country of a central
power, more or less strong and respected, enabled it to extend its
operations by land with a degree of security hitherto unknown; and, at the
same time, international legislation came in to protect maritime trade,
which was still exposed to great dangers. The sea, which was open freely
to the whole human race, gave robbers comparatively easy means of
following their nefarious practices, and with less fear of punishment than
they could obtain on the shore of civilised countries. For this reason
piracy continued its depredations long after the enactment of severe laws
for its suppression.

This maritime legislation did not wait for the sixteenth century to come
into existence. Maritime law was promulgated more or less in the twelfth
century, but the troubles and agitations which weakened and disorganized
empires during that period of the Middle Ages, deprived it of its power
and efficiency. The _Code des Rhodiens_ dates as far back as 1167; the
_Code de la Mer_, which became a sort of recognised text-book, dates from
the same period; the _Lois d'Oléron_ is anterior to the twelfth century,
and ruled the western coasts of France, being also adopted in Flanders and
in England; Venice dated her most ancient law on maritime rights from
1255, and the Statutes of Marseilles date from 1254.

[Illustration: Fig. 198.--Execution of the celebrated pirate Stoertebeck
and his seventy accomplices, in 1402, at Hamburg.--From a popular Picture
of the end of the Sixteenth Century (Hamburg Library).]

The period of the establishment of commercial law and justice
corresponds with that of the introduction of national and universal codes
of law and consular jurisdiction. These may be said to have originated in
the sixth century in the laws of the Visigoths, which empowered foreign
traders to be judged by delegates from their own countries. The Venetians
had consuls in the Greek empire as early as the tenth century, and we may
fairly presume that the French had consuls in Palestine during the reign
of Charlemagne. In the thirteenth century the towns of Italy had consular
agents in France; and Marseilles had them in Savoy, in Arles, and in
Genoa. Thus traders of each country were always sure of finding justice,
assistance, and protection in all the centres of European commerce.

Numerous facilities for barter were added to these advantages. Merchants,
who at first travelled with their merchandise, and who afterwards merely
sent a factor as their representative, finally consigned it to foreign
agents. Communication by correspondence in this way became more general,
and paper replaced parchment as being less rare and less expensive. The
introduction of Arabic figures, which were more convenient than the Roman
numerals for making calculations, the establishment of banks, of which the
most ancient was in operation in Venice as early as the twelfth century,
the invention of bills of exchange, attributed to the Jews, and generally
in use in the thirteenth century, the establishment of insurance against
the risks and perils of sea and land, and lastly, the formation of trading
companies, or what are now called partnerships, all tended to give
expansion and activity to commerce, whereby public and private wealth was
increased in spite of obstacles which routine, envy, and ill-will
persistently raised against great commercial enterprises.

For a long time the French, through indolence or antipathy--for it was
more to their liking to be occupied with arms and chivalry than with
matters of interest and profit--took but a feeble part in the trade which
was carried on so successfully on their own territory. The nobles were
ashamed to mix in commerce, considering it unworthy of them, and the
bourgeois, for want of liberal feeling and expansiveness in their ideas,
were satisfied with appropriating merely local trade. Foreign commerce,
even of the most lucrative description, was handed over to foreigners, and
especially to Jews, who were often banished from the kingdom and as
frequently ransomed, though universally despised and hated.
Notwithstanding this, they succeeded in rising to wealth under the stigma
of shame and infamy, and the immense gains which they realised by means of
usury reconciled them to, and consoled them for, the ill-treatment to
which they were subjected.

[Illustration: Fig. 199.--Discovery of America, 12th of May,
1492.--Columbus erects the Cross and baptizes the Isle of Guanahani (now
Cat Island, one of the Bahamas) by the Christian Name of St.
Salvador.--From a Stamp engraved on Copper by Th. de Bry, in the
Collection of "Grands Voyages," in folio, 1590.]

At a very early period, and especially when the Jews had been absolutely
expelled, the advantage of exclusively trading with and securing the rich
profits from France had attracted the Italians, who were frequently only
Jews in disguise, concealing themselves as to their character under the
generic name of Lombards. It was under this name that the French kings
gave them on different occasions various privileges, when they frequented
the fairs of Champagne and came to establish themselves in the inland and
seaport towns. These Italians constituted the great corporation of
money-changers in Paris, and hoarded in their coffers all the coin of the
kingdom, and in this way caused a perpetual variation in the value of
money, by which they themselves benefited.

In the sixteenth century the wars of Italy rather changed matters, and we
find royal and important concessions increasing in favour of Castilians
and other Spaniards, whom the people maliciously called _negroes_, and who
had emigrated in order to engage in commerce and manufactures in
Saintonge, Normandy, Burgundy, Agenois, and Languedoc.

About the time of Louis XI., the French, becoming more alive to their true
interests, began to manage their own affairs, following the suggestions
and advice of the King, whose democratic instincts prompted him to
encourage and favour the bourgeois. This result was also attributable to
the state of peace and security which then began to exist in the kingdom,
impoverished and distracted as it had been by a hundred years of domestic
and foreign warfare.

From 1365 to 1382 factories and warehouses were founded by Norman
navigators on the western coast of Africa, in Senegal and Guinea. Numerous
fleets of merchantmen, of great size for those days, were employed in
transporting cloth, grain of all kinds, knives, brandy, salt, and other
merchandise, which were bartered for leather, ivory, gum, amber, and gold
dust. Considerable profits were realised by the shipowners and merchants,
who, like Jacques Coeur, employed ships for the purpose of carrying on
these large and lucrative commercial operations. These facts sufficiently
testify the condition of France at this period, and prove that this, like
other branches of human industry, was arrested in its expansion by the
political troubles which followed in the fourteenth and fifteenth

Fortunately these social troubles were not universal, and it was just at
the period when France was struggling and had become exhausted and
impoverished that the Portuguese extended their discoveries on the same
coast of Africa, and soon after succeeded in rounding the Cape of Good
Hope, and opening a new maritime road to India, a country which was always
attractive from the commercial advantages which it offered.

Some years after, Christopher Columbus, the Genoese, more daring and more
fortunate still, guided by the compass and impelled by his own genius,
discovered a new continent, the fourth continent of the world (Fig. 199).
This unexpected event, the greatest and most remarkable of the age,
necessarily enlarged the field for produce as well as for consumption to
an enormous extent, and naturally added, not only to the variety and
quantity of exchangeable wares, but also to the production of the precious
metals, and brought about a complete revolution in the laws of the whole
civilised world.

Maritime commerce immediately acquired an extraordinary development, and
merchants, forsaking the harbours of the Mediterranean, and even those of
the Levant, which then seemed to them scarcely worthy of notice, sent
their vessels by thousands upon the ocean in pursuit of the wonderful
riches of the New World. The day of caravans and coasting had passed;
Venice had lost its splendour; the sway of the Mediterranean was over; the
commerce of the world was suddenly transferred from the active and
industrious towns of that sea, which had so long monopolized it, to the
Western nations, to the Portuguese and Spaniards first, and then to the
Dutch and English.

France, absorbed in, and almost ruined by civil war, and above all by
religious dissensions, only played a subordinate part in this commercial
and pacific revolution, although it has been said that the sailors of
Dieppe and Honfleur really discovered America before Columbus.
Nevertheless the kings of France, Louis XII., Francis I., and Henry II.,
tried to establish and encourage transatlantic voyages, and to create, in
the interest of French commerce, colonies on the coasts of the New World,
from Florida and Virginia to Canada.

But these colonies had but a precarious and transitory existence;
fisheries alone succeeded, and French commerce continued insignificant,
circumscribed, and domestic, notwithstanding the increasing requirements
of luxury at court. This luxury contented itself with the use of the
merchandise which arrived from the Low Countries, Spain, and Italy.
National industry did all in its power to surmount this ignominious
condition; she specially turned her attention to the manufacture of silks
and of stuffs tissued with gold and silver. The only practical attempt of
the government in the sixteenth century to protect commerce and
manufactures was to forbid the import of foreign merchandise, and to
endeavour to oppose the progress of luxury by rigid enactments.

Certainly the government of that time little understood the advantages
which a country derived from commerce when it forbade the higher classes
from engaging in mercantile pursuits under penalty of having their
privileges of nobility withdrawn from them. In the face of the examples of
Italy, Genoa, Venice, and especially of Florence, where the nobles were
all traders or sons of traders, the kings of the line of Valois thought
proper to make this enactment. The desire seemed to be to make the
merchant class a separate class, stationary, and consisting exclusively of
bourgeois, shut up in their counting-houses, and prevented in every way
from participating in public life. The merchants became indignant at this
banishment, and, in order to employ their leisure, they plunged with all
their energy into the sanguinary struggles of Reform and of the League.

[Illustration: Fig. 200.--Medal to commemorate the Association of the
Merchants of the City of Rouen.]

It was not until the reign of Henry IV. that they again confined
themselves to their occupations as merchants, when Sully published the
political suggestions of his master for renewing commercial prosperity.
From this time a new era commenced in the commercial destiny of France.
Commerce, fostered and protected by statesmen, sought to extend its
operations with greater freedom and power. Companies were formed at Paris,
Marseilles, Lyons, and Rouen to carry French merchandise all over the
world, and the rules of the mercantile associations, in spite of the
routine and jealousies which guided the trade corporations, became the
code which afterwards regulated commerce (Fig. 200).

[Illustration: Fig. 201.--Standard Weight in Brass of the Fish-market at
Mans: Sign of the Syren (End of the Sixteenth Century).]

Guilds and Trade Corporations.

  Uncertain Origin of Corporations.--Ancient Industrial Associations.--The
  Germanic Guild.--Colleges.--Teutonic Associations.--The Paris Company
  for the Transit of Merchandise by Water.--Corporations properly so
  called.--Etienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," or the First Code of
  Regulations.--The Laws governing Trades.--Public and Private
  Organization of Trade Corporations and other Communities.--Energy of the
  Corporations.--Masters, Journeymen, Supernumeraries, and
  Apprentices.--Religious Festivals and Trade Societies.--Trade Unions.

Learned authorities have frequently discussed, without agreeing, on the
question of the origin of the Corporations of the Middle Ages. It may be
admitted, we think _à priori_, that associations of artisans were as
ancient as the trades themselves. It may readily be imagined that the
numerous members of the industrial classes, having to maintain and defend
their common rights and common interests, would have sought to establish
mutual fraternal associations among themselves. The deeper we dive into
ancient history the clearer we perceive traces, more or less distinct, of
these kinds of associations. To cite only two examples, which may serve to
some extent as an historical parallel to the analogous institutions of the
present day, we may mention the Roman _Colleges_, which were really
leagues of artisans following the same calling; and the Scandinavian
guilds, whose object was to assimilate the different branches of industry
and trade, either of a city or of some particular district.

Indeed, brotherhoods amongst the labouring classes always existed under
the German conquerors from the moment when Europe, so long divided into
Roman provinces, shook off the yoke of subjection to Rome, although she
still adhered to the laws and customs of the nation which had held her in
subjection for so many generations. We can, however, only regard the few
traces which remain of these brotherhoods as evidence of their having
once existed, and not as indicative of their having been in a flourishing
state. In the fifth century, the Hermit Ampelius, in his "Legends of the
Saints," mentions _Consuls_ or Chiefs of Locksmiths. The Corporation of
Goldsmiths is spoken of as existing in the first dynasty of the French
kings. Bakers are named collectively in 630 in the laws of Dagobert, which
seems to show that they formed a sort of trade union at that remote
period. We also see Charlemagne, in several of his statutes, taking steps
in order that the number of persons engaged in providing food of different
kinds should everywhere be adequate to provide for the necessities of
consumption, which would tend to show a general organization of that most
important branch of industry. In Lombardy colleges of artisans were
established at an early period, and were, no doubt, on the model of the
Roman ones. Ravenna, in 943, possessed a College of Fishermen; and ten
years later the records of that town mention a _Chief of the Corporation
of Traders_, and, in 1001, a _Chief of the Corporation of Butchers_.
France at the same time kept up a remembrance of the institutions of Roman
Gaul, and the ancient colleges of trades still formed associations and
companies in Paris and in the larger towns. In 1061 King Philip I. granted
certain privileges to Master Chandlers and Oilmen. The ancient customs of
the butchers are mentioned as early as the time of Louis VII., 1162. The
same king granted to the wife of Ives Laccobre and her heirs the
collectorship of the dues which were payable by tanners, purse-makers,
curriers, and shoemakers. Under Philip Augustus similar concessions became
more frequent, and it is evident that at that time trade was beginning to
take root and to require special and particular administration. This led
to regulations being drawn up for each trade, to which Philip Augustus
gave his sanction. In 1182 he confirmed the statutes of the butchers, and
the furriers and drapers also obtained favourable concessions from him.

According to the learned Augustin Thierry, corporations, like civic
communities, were engrafted on previously existing guilds, such as on the
colleges or corporations of workmen, which were of Roman origin. In the
_guild_, which signifies a banquet at common expense, there was a mutual
assurance against misfortunes and injuries of all sorts, such as fire and
shipwreck, and also against all lawsuits incurred for offences and crimes,
even though they were proved against the accused. Each of these
associations was placed under the patronage of a god or of a hero, and
had its compulsory statutes; each had its chief or president chosen from
among the members, and a common treasury supplied by annual contributions.
Roman colleges, as we have already stated, were established with a more
special purpose, and were more exclusively confined to the peculiar trade
to which they belonged; but these, equally with the guilds, possessed a
common exchequer, enjoyed equal rights and privileges, elected their own
presidents, and celebrated in common their sacrifices, festivals, and
banquets. We have, therefore, good reason for agreeing in the opinion of
the celebrated historian, who considers that in the establishment of a
corporation "the guild should be to a certain degree the motive power, and
the Roman college, with its organization, the material which should be
used to bring it into existence."

[Illustration: Fig. 202.--Craftsmen in the Fourteenth Century--Fac-simile
of a Miniature of a Manuscript in the Library of Brussels.]

It is certain, however, that during several centuries corporations were
either dissolved or hidden from public notice, for they almost entirely
disappeared from the historic records during the partial return to
barbarism, when the production of objects of daily necessity and the
preparation of food were entrusted to slaves under the eye of their
master. Not till the twelfth century did they again begin to flourish,
and, as might be supposed, it was Italy which gave the signal for the
resuscitation of the institutions whose birthplace had been Rome, and
which barbarism had allowed to fall into decay. Brotherhoods of artisans
were also founded at an early period in the north of Gaul, whence they
rapidly spread beyond the Rhine. Under the Emperor Henry I., that is,
during the tenth century, the ordinary condition of artisans in Germany
was still serfdom; but two centuries later the greater number of trades in
most of the large towns of the empire had congregated together in colleges
or bodies under the name of unions (_Einnungen_ or _Innungen_) (Fig. 202),
as, for example, at Gozlar, at Würzburg, at Brunswick, &c. These colleges,
however, were not established without much difficulty and without the
energetic resistance of the ruling powers, inasmuch as they often raised
their pretensions so high as to wish to substitute their authority for the
senatorial law, and thus to grasp the government of the cities. The
thirteenth century witnessed obstinate and sanguinary feuds between these
two parties, each of which was alternately victorious. Whichever had the
upper hand took advantage of the opportunity to carry out the most cruel
reprisals against its defeated opponents. The Emperors Frederick II. and
Henry VII. tried to put an end to these strifes by abolishing the
corporations of workmen, but these powerful associations fearlessly
opposed the imperial authority. In France the organization of communities
of artisans, an organization which in many ways was connected with the
commercial movement, but which must not be confounded with it, did not
give rise to any political difficulty. It seems not even to have met with
any opposition from the feudal powers, who no doubt found it an easy
pretext for levying additional rates and taxes.

The most ancient of these corporations was the Parisian _Hanse_, or
corporation of the bourgeois for canal navigation, which probably dates
its origin back to the college of Parisian _Nautes_, existing before the
Roman conquest. This mercantile association held its meetings in the
island of Lutetia, on the very spot where the church of Notre-Dame was
afterwards built. From the earliest days of monarchy tradesmen constituted
entirely the bourgeois of the towns (Fig. 203). Above them were the
nobility or clergy, beneath them the artisans. Hence we can understand how
the bourgeois, who during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a
distinct section of the community, became at last the important commercial
body itself. The kings invariably treated them with favour. Louis VI.
granted them new rights, Louis VII. confirmed their ancient privileges,
and Philip Augustus increased them. The Parisian Hanse succeeded in
monopolising all the commerce which was carried on by water on the Seine
and the Yonne between Mantes and Auxerre. No merchandise coming up or down
the stream in boats could be disembarked in the interior of Paris without
becoming, as it were, the property of the corporation, which, through its
agents, superintended its measurement and its sale in bulk, and, up to a
certain point, its sale by retail. No foreign merchant was permitted to
send his goods to Paris without first obtaining _lettres de Hanse_,
whereby he had associated with him a bourgeois of the town, who acted as
his guarantee, and who shared in his profits.

[Illustration: Fig. 203.--Merchants or Tradesmen of the Fourteenth
Century.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Library at

There were associations of the same kind in most of the commercial towns
situated on the banks of rivers and on the sea-coast, as, for example, at
Rouen, Arles, Marseilles, Narbonne, Toulouse, Ratisbon, Augsburg, and
Utrecht. Sometimes neighbouring towns, such as the great manufacturing
cities of Flanders, agreed together and entered into a leagued bond, which
gave them greater power, and constituted an offensive and defensive
compact (Fig. 204). A typical example of this last institution is that of
the commercial association of the _Hanseatic Towns_ of Germany, which were
grouped together to the number of eighty around their four capitals, viz.,
Lubeck, Cologne, Dantzic, and Brunswick.

[Illustration: Fig. 204.--Seal of the United Trades of Ghent (End of the
Fifteenth Century).]

Although, as we have already seen, previous to the thirteenth century many
of the corporations of artisans had been authorised by several of the
kings of France to make special laws whereby they might govern themselves,
it was really only from the reign of St. Louis that the first general
measures of administration and police relating to these communities can be
dated. The King appointed Etienne Boileau, a rich bourgeois, provost of
the capital in 1261, to set to work to establish order, wise
administration, and "good faith" in the commerce of Paris. To this end he
ascertained from the verbal testimony of the senior members of each
corporation the customs and usages of the various crafts, which for the
most part up to that time had not been committed to writing. He arranged
and probably amended them in many ways, and thus composed the famous "Book
of Trades," which, as M. Depping, the able editor of this valuable
compilation, first published in 1837, says, "has the advantage of being to
a great extent the genuine production of the corporations themselves, and
not a list of rules established and framed by the municipal or judicial
authorities." From that time corporations gradually introduced themselves
into the order of society. The royal decrees in their favour were
multiplied, and the regulations with regard to mechanical trades daily
improved, not only in Paris and in the provinces, and also abroad, both in
the south and in the north of Europe, especially in Italy, Germany,
England, and the Low Countries (Figs. 205 to 213).

Etienne Boileau's "Book of Trades" contained the rules of one hundred
different trade associations. It must be observed, however, that several
of the most important trades, such as the butchers, tanners, glaziers,
&c., were omitted, either because they neglected to be registered at the
Châtelet, where the inquiry superintended by Boileau was made, or because
some private interest induced them to keep aloof from this registration,
which probably imposed some sort of fine and a tax upon them. In the
following century the number of trade associations considerably increased,
and wonderfully so during the reigns of the last of the Valois and the
first of the Bourbons.

The historian of the antiquities of Paris, Henry Sauval, enumerated no
fewer than fifteen hundred and fifty-one trade associations in the capital
alone in the middle of the seventeenth century. It must be remarked,
however, that the societies of artisans were much subdivided owing to the
simple fact that each craft could only practise its own special work.
Thus, in Boileau's book, we find four different corporations of
_patenôtriers_, or makers of chaplets, six of hatters, six of weavers, &c.

Besides these societies of artisans, there were in Paris a few privileged
corporations, which occupied a more important position, and were known
under the name of _Corps des Marchands_. Their number at first frequently
varied, but finally it was settled at six, and they were termed _les Six
Corps_. They comprised the drapers, which always took precedence of the
five others, the grocers, the mercers, the furriers, the hatters, and the
goldsmiths. These five for a long time disputed the question of
precedence, and finally they decided the matter by lot, as they were not
able to agree in any other way.

[Illustration: Fig. 205.--Seal of the Corporation of Carpenters of St.
Trond (Belgium)--From an Impression preserved in the Archives of that Town

[Illustration: Fig. 206.--Seal of the Corporation of Shoemakers of St.
Trond, from a Map of 1481, preserved in the Archives of that Town.]

[Illustration: Fig. 207.--Seal of the Corporation of Wool-weavers of
Hasselt (Belgium), from a Parchment Title-deed of June 25, 1574.]

[Illustration: Fig. 208.--Seal of the Corporation of Clothworkers of
Bruges (1356).--From an Impression preserved in the Archives of that

[Illustration: Fig. 209.--Seal of the Corporation of Fullers of St. Trond
(about 1350).--From an Impression preserved in the Archives of that Town.]

[Illustration: Fig. 210.--Seal of the Corporation of Joiners of Bruges
(1356).--From an Impression preserved in the Archives of that Town.]

[Illustration: Fig. 211.--Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of

[Illustration: Fig. 212.--Token of the Corporation of Carpenters of

[Illustration: Fig. 213.--Funeral Token of the Corporation of Carpenters
of Maestricht.]


Fac-simile of Engravings on Wood, designed and engraved by J. Amman, in
the Sixteenth Century.

[Illustration: Fig. 214.--Cloth-worker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 215.--Tailor.]

[Illustration: Fig. 216.--Hatter.]

[Illustration: Fig. 217.--Dyer.]

[Illustration: Fig. 218.--Druggist]

[Illustration: Fig. 219.--Barber]

[Illustration: Fig. 220.--Goldsmith]

[Illustration: Fig. 221.--Goldbeater]

[Illustration: Fig. 222.--Pin and Needle Maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 223.--Clasp-maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 224.--Wire-worker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 225.--Dice-maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 226.--Sword-maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 227.--Armourer.]

[Illustration: Fig. 228.--Spur-maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 229.--Shoemaker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 230.--Basin-maker.]

[Illustration: Fig. 231.--Tinman.]

[Illustration: Fig. 232.--Coppersmith.]

[Illustration: Fig. 233.--Bell and Cannon Caster.]

Apart from the privilege which these six bodies of merchants exclusively
enjoyed of being called upon to appear, though at their own expense, in
the civic processions and at the public ceremonials, and to carry the
canopy over the heads of kings, queens, or princes on their state entry
into the capital (Fig. 234), it would be difficult to specify the nature
of the privileges which were granted to them, and of which they were so
jealous. It is clear, however, that these six bodies were imbued with a
kind of aristocratic spirit which made them place trading much above
handicraft in their own class, and set a high value on their calling as
merchants. Thus contemporary historians tell us that any merchant who
compromised the dignity of the company "fell into the class of the lower
orders;" that mercers boasted of excluding from their body the
upholsterers, "who were but artisans;" that hatters, who were admitted
into the _Six Corps_ to replace one of the other trades, became in
consequence "merchants instead of artisans, which they had been up to that

Notwithstanding the statutes so carefully compiled and revised by Etienne
Boileau and his successors, and in spite of the numerous arbitrary rules
which the sovereigns, the magistrates, and the corporations themselves
strenuously endeavoured to frame, order and unity were far from governing
the commerce and industry of Paris during the Middle Ages, and what took
place in Paris generally repeated itself elsewhere. Serious disputes
continually arose between the authorities and those amenable to their
jurisdiction, and between the various crafts themselves, notwithstanding
the relation which they bore to each other from the similarity of their

In fact in this, as in many other matters, social disorder often emanated
from the powers whose duty it was in the first instance to have repressed
it. Thus, at the time when Philip Augustus extended the boundaries of his
capital so as to include the boroughs in it, which until then had been
separated from the city, the lay and clerical lords, under whose feudal
dominion those districts had hitherto been placed, naturally insisted upon
preserving all their rights. So forcibly did they do this that the King
was obliged to recognise their claims; and in several boroughs, including
the Bourg l'Abbé, the Beau Bourg, the Bourg St. Germain, and the Bourg
Auxerrois, &c., there were trade associations completely distinct from and
independent of those of ancient Paris. If we simply limit our examination
to that of the condition of the trade associations which held their
authority immediately from royalty, we still see that the causes of
confusion were by no means trifling; for the majority of the high officers
of the crown, acting as delegates of the royal authority, were always
disputing amongst themselves the right of superintending, protecting,
judging, punishing, and, above all, of exacting tribute from the members
of the various trades. The King granted to various officers the privilege
of arbitrarily disposing of the freedom of each trade for their own
profit, and thereby gave them power over all the merchants and craftsmen
who were officially connected with them, not only in Paris, but also
throughout the whole kingdom. Thus the lord chamberlain had jurisdiction
over the drapers, mercers, furriers, shoemakers, tailors, and other
dealers in articles of wearing apparel; the barbers were governed by the
king's varlet and barber; the head baker was governor over the bakers; and
the head butler over the wine merchants.

[Illustration: Fig. 234.--Group of Goldsmiths preceding the _Chasse de St.
Marcel_ in the Reign of Louis XIII.--From a Copper-plate of the Period
(Cabinet of Stamps in the National Library of Paris).]

These state officers granted freedoms to artisans, or, in other words,
they gave them the right to exercise such and such a craft with assistants
or companions, exacting for the performance of this trifling act a very
considerable tax. And, as they preferred receiving their revenues without
the annoyance of having direct communication with their humble subjects,
they appointed deputies, who were authorised to collect them in their

The most celebrated of these deputies were the _rois des merciers_, who
lived on the fat of the land in complete idleness, and who were surrounded
by a mercantile court, which appeared in all its splendour at the trade

[Illustration: Fig. 235.--Banner of the Corporation of the United Boot and
Shoe Makers of Issoudun.]

The great officers of the crown exercised in their own interests, and
without a thought for the public advantage, a complete magisterial
jurisdiction over all crafts; they adjudicated in disputes arising between
masters and men, decided quarrels, visited, either personally or through
their deputies, the houses of the merchants, in order to discover frauds
or infractions in the rules of the trade, and levied fines accordingly. We
must remember that the collectors of court dues had always to contend for
the free exercise of their jurisdiction against the provost of Paris, who
considered their acquisitions of authority as interfering with his
personal prerogatives, and who therefore persistently opposed them on all
occasions. For instance, if the head baker ordered an artisan of the same
trade to be imprisoned in the Châtelet, the high provost, who was governor
of the prison, released him immediately; and, in retaliation, if the high
provost punished a baker, the chief baker warmly espoused his
subordinate's cause. At other times the artisans, if they were
dissatisfied with the deputy appointed by the great officer of the crown,
whose dependents they were, would refuse to recognise his authority. In
this way constant quarrels and interminable lawsuits occurred, and it is
easy to understand the disorder which must have arisen from such a state
of things. By degrees, however, and in consequence of the new tendencies
of royalty, which were simply directed to the diminution of feudal power,
the numerous jurisdictions relating to the various trades gradually
returned to the hand of the municipal provostship; and this concentration
of power had the best results, as well for the public good as for that of
the corporations themselves.

Having examined into corporations collectively and also into their general
administration, we will now turn to consider their internal organization.
It was only after long and difficult struggles that these trade
associations succeeded in taking a definite and established position;
without, however, succeeding at any time in organizing themselves as one
body on the same basis and with the same privileges. Therefore, in
pointing out the influential character of these institutions generally, we
must omit various matters specially connected with individual
associations, which it would be impossible to mention in this brief

In the fourteenth century, the period when the communities of crafts were
at the height of their development and power, no association of artisans
could legally exist without a license either from the king, the lord, the
prince, the abbot, the bailiff, or the mayor of the district in which it
proposed to establish itself.

[Illustration: Fig. 236.--Banner of the Tilers of Paris, with the
Armorial Bearings of the Corporation.]

[Illustration: Fig. 237.--Banner of the Nail-makers of Paris, with
Armorial Bearings of the Corporation.]

[Illustration: Fig. 238.--Banner of the Harness-makers of Paris, with the
Armorial Bearings of the Corporation.]

[Illustration: Fig. 239.--Banner of the Wheelwrights of Paris, with the
Armoral Bearings of the Corporation.]

[Illustration: Fig. 240.--Banner of the Tanners of Vie, with the Patron
Saint of the Corporation.]

[Illustration: Fig. 241.--Banner of the Weavers of Poulon, with the Patron
Saint of the Corporation.]

These communities had their statutes and privileges; they were
distinguished at public ceremonials by their _liveries_ or special dress,
as well as by their arms and banners (Figs. 235 to 241). They possessed
the right freely to discuss their general interests, and at meetings
composed of all their members they might modify their statutes, provided
that such changes were confirmed by the King or by the authorities. It was
also necessary that these meetings, at which the royal delegates were
present, should be duly authorised; and, lastly, so as to render the
communication between members more easy, and to facilitate everything
which concerned the interests of the craft, artisans of the same trade
usually resided in the same quarter of the town, and even in the same
street. The names of many streets in Paris and other towns of France
testify to this custom, which still partially exists in the towns of
Germany and Italy.

[Illustration: Fig. 242.--Ceremonial Dress of an Elder and a Juror of the
Corporation of Old Shoemakers of Ghent.]

The communities of artisans had, to a certain extent, the character and
position of private individuals. They had the power in their corporate
capacity of holding and administrating property, of defending or bringing
actions at law, of accepting inheritances, &c.; they disbursed from a
common treasury, which was supplied by legacies, donations, fines, and
periodical subscriptions.

These communities exercised in addition, through their jurors, a
magisterial authority, and even, under some circumstances, a criminal
jurisdiction over their members. For a long time they strove to extend
this last power or to keep it independent of municipal control and the
supreme courts, by which it was curtailed to that of exercising a simple
police authority strictly confined to persons or things relating to the
craft. They carefully watched for any infractions of the rules of the
trade. They acted as arbitrators between master and man, particularly in
quarrels when the parties had had recourse to violence. The functions of
this kind of domestic magistracy were exercised by officers known under
various names, such as _kings, masters, elders, guards, syndics_, and
_jurors_, who were besides charged to visit the workshops at any hour they
pleased in order to see that the laws concerning the articles of
workmanship were observed. They also received the taxes for the benefit of
the association; and, lastly, they examined the apprentices and installed
masters into their office (Fig. 242).

The jurors, or syndics, as they were more usually called, and whose number
varied according to the importance of numerical force of the corporation,
were generally elected by the majority of votes of their fellow-workmen,
though sometimes the choice of these was entirely in the hands of the
great officers of state. It was not unfrequent to find women amongst the
dignitaries of the arts and crafts; and the professional tribunals, which
decided every question relative to the community and its members, were
often held by an equal number of masters and associate craftsmen. The
jealous, exclusive, and inflexible spirit of caste, which in the Middle
Ages is to be seen almost everywhere, formed one of the principal features
of industrial associations. The admission of new members was surrounded
with conditions calculated to restrict the number of associates and to
discourage candidates. The sons of masters alone enjoyed hereditary
privileges, in consequence of which they were always allowed to be
admitted without being subjected to the tyrannical yoke of the

[Illustration: Martyrdom of SS. Crispin and Crépinien.

From a window in the Hôpital des Quinze-Vingts (Fifteenth Century).]

Generally the members of a corporation were divided into three distinct
classes--the masters, the paid assistants or companions, and the
apprentices. Apprenticeship, from which the sons of masters were often
exempted, began between the ages of twelve and seventeen years, and
lasted from two to five years. In most of the trades the master could only
receive one apprentice in his house besides his own son. Tanners, dyers,
and goldsmiths were allowed one of their relatives in addition, or a
second apprentice if they had no relation willing to learn their trade;
and although some commoner trades, such as butchers and bakers, were
allowed an unlimited number of apprentices, the custom of restriction had
become a sort of general law, with the object of limiting the number of
masters and workmen to the requirements of the public. The position of
paid assistant or companion was required to be held in many trades for a
certain length of time before promotion to mastership could be obtained.

[Illustration: Fig. 243.--Bootmaker's Apprentice working at a
Trial-piece.--From a Window of the Thirteenth Century, published by
Messrs. Cahier and Martin]

When apprentices or companions wished to become masters, they were called
_aspirants_, and were subjected to successive examinations. They were
particularly required to prove their ability by executing what was termed
a _chef-d'oeuvre_, which consisted in fabricating a perfect specimen of
whatever craft they practised. The execution of the _chef-d'oeuvre_ gave
rise to many technical formalities, which were at times most frivolous.
The aspirant in certain cases had to pass a technical examination, as,
for instance, the barber in forging and polishing lancets; the wool-weaver
in making and adjusting the different parts of his loom; and during the
period of executing the _chef-d'oeuvre,_ which often extended over several
months, the aspirant was deprived of all communication with his fellows.
He had to work at the office of the association, which was called the
_bureau_, under the eyes of the jurors or syndics, who, often after an
angry debate, issued their judgment upon the merits of the work and the
capability of the workman (Figs. 243 and 244).

[Illustration: Fig. 244.--Carpenter's Apprentice working at a
Trial-piece.--From one of the Stalls called _Miséricordes_, in Rouen
Cathedral (Fifteenth Century).]

On his admission the aspirant had first to take again the oath of
allegiance to the King before the provost or civil deputy, although he had
already done so on commencing his apprenticeship. He then had to pay a
duty or fee, which was divided between the sovereign or lord and the
brotherhood, from which fee the sons of masters always obtained a
considerable abatement. Often, too, the husbands of the daughters of
masters were exempted from paying the duties. A few masters, such as the
goldsmiths and the cloth-workers, had besides to pay a sum of money by way
of guarantee, which remained in the funds of the craft as long as they
carried on the trade. After these forms had been complied with, the
masters acquired the exclusive privilege of freely exercising their
profession. There were, however, certain exceptions to this rule, for a
king on his coronation, a prince or princess of the royal blood at the
time of his or her marriage, and, in certain towns, the bishop on his
installation, had the right of creating one or more masters in each trade,
and these received their licence without going through any of the usual

[Illustration: Fig. 245.--Staircase of the Office of the Goldsmiths of
Rouen (Fifteenth Century). The Shield which the Lion holds with his Paw
shows the Arms of the Goldsmiths of Rouen. (Present Condition).]

A widower or widow might generally continue the craft of the deceased wife
or husband who had acquired the freedom, and which thus became the
inheritance of the survivor. The condition, however, was that he or she
did not contract a second marriage with any one who did not belong to the
craft. Masters lost their rights directly they worked for any other master
and received wages. Certain freedoms, too, were only available in the
towns in which they had been obtained. In more than one craft, when a
family holding the freedom became extinct, their premises and tools became
the property of the corporation, subject to an indemnity payable to the
next of kin.

[Illustration: Fig. 246.--Shops under Covered Market (Goldsmith, Dealer in
Stuffs, and Shoemaker).--From a Miniature in Aristotle's "Ethics and
Politics," translated by Nicholas Oresme (Manuscript of the Fifteenth
Century, Library of Rouen).]

At times, and particularly in those trades where the aspirants were not
required to produce a _chef-d'oeuvre_, the installation of masters was
accompanied with extraordinary ceremonies, which no doubt originally
possessed some symbolical meaning, but which, having lost their true
signification, became singular, and appeared even ludicrous. Thus with the
bakers, after four years' apprenticeship, the candidate on purchasing the
freedom from the King, issued from his door, escorted by all the other
bakers of the town, bearing a new pot filled with walnuts and wafers. On
arriving before the chief of the corporation, he said to him, "Master, I
have accomplished my four years; here is my pot filled with walnuts and
wafers." The assistants in the ceremony having vouched for the truth of
this statement, the candidate broke the pot against the wall, and the
chief solemnly pronounced his admission, which was inaugurated by the
older masters emptying a number of tankards of wine or beer at the expense
of their new brother. The ceremony was also of a jovial character in the
case of the millwrights, who only admitted the candidate after he had
received a caning on the shoulders from the last-elected brother.

[Illustration: Fig. 247.--Fac-simile of the first six Lines on the Copper
Tablet on which was engraved, from the year 1470, the Names and Titles of
those who were elected Members of the Corporation of Goldsmiths of Ghent.]

The statutes of the corporations, which had the force of law on account of
being approved and accepted by royal authority, almost always detailed
with the greatest precision the conditions of labour. They fixed the hours
and days for working, the size of the articles to be made, the quality of
the stuffs used in their manufacture, and even the price at which they
were to be sold (Fig. 246). Night labour was pretty generally forbidden,
as likely to produce only imperfect work. We nevertheless find that
carpenters were permitted to make coffins and other funeral articles by
night. On the eve of religious feasts the shops were shut earlier than
usual, that is to say, at three o'clock, and were not opened on the next
day, with the exception of those of pastrycooks, whose assistance was
especially required on feast days, and who sold curious varieties of cakes
and sweetmeats. Notwithstanding the strictness of the rules and the
administrative laws of each trade, which were intended to secure good
faith and loyalty between the various members, it is unnecessary to state
that they were frequently violated. The fines which were then imposed on
delinquents constituted an important source of revenue, not only to the
corporations themselves, but also to the town treasury. The penally,
however, was not always a pecuniary one, for as late as the fifteenth
century we have instances of artisans being condemned to death simply for
having adulterated their articles of trade.

[Illustration: Fig. 248.--Elder and Jurors of the Tanners of the Town of
Ghent in Ceremonial Dress.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in a Manuscript of
the Fifteenth Century.]

This deception was looked upon as of the nature of robbery, which we know
to have been for a long time punishable by death. Robbery on the part of
merchants found no indulgence nor pardon in those days, and the whole
corporation demanded immediate and exemplary justice.

According to the statutes, which generally tended to prevent frauds and
falsifications, in most crafts the masters were bound to put their
trade-mark on their goods, or some particular sign which was to be a
guarantee for the purchaser and one means of identifying the culprit in
the event of complaints arising on account of the bad quality or bad
workmanship of the articles sold.

[Illustration: Fig. 249.--Companion Carpenter.--Fragment of a Woodcut of
the Fifteenth Century, after a Drawing by Wohlgemüth for the "Chronique de

Besides taking various steps to maintain professional integrity, the
framers of the various statutes, as a safeguard to the public interests,
undertook also to inculcate morality and good feeling amongst their
members. A youth could not be admitted unless he could prove his
legitimacy of birth by his baptismal register; and, to obtain the freedom,
he was bound to bear an irreproachable character. Artisans exposed
themselves to a reprimand, and even to bodily chastisement, from the
corporation, for even associating with, and certainly for working or
drinking with those who had been expelled. Licentiousness and misconduct
of any kind rendered them liable to be deprived of their mastership. In
some trade associations all the members were bound to solemnize the day of
the decease of a brother, to assist at his funeral, and to follow him to
the grave. In another community the slightest indecent or discourteous
word was punishable by a fine. A new master could not establish himself in
the same street as his former master, except at a distance, which was
determined by the statutes; and, further, no member was allowed to ask for
or attract customers when the latter were nearer the shop of his neighbour
than of his own.

In the Middle Ages religion placed its stamp on every occupation and
calling, and corporations were careful to maintain this characteristic
feature. Each was under the patronage of some saint, who was considered
the special protector of the craft; each possessed a shrine or chapel in
some church of the quarter where the trade was located, and some even kept
chaplains at their own expense for the celebration of masses which were
daily said for the souls of the good deceased members of the craft. These
associations, animated by Christian charity, took upon them to invoke the
blessings of heaven on all members of the fraternity, and to assist those
who were either laid by through sickness or want of work, and to take care
of the widows and to help the orphans of the less prosperous craftsmen.
They also gave alms to the poor, and presented the broken meat left at
their banquets to the hospitals.

Under the name of _garçons_, or _compagnons de devoir_ (this surname was
at first specially applied to carpenters and masons, who from a very
ancient date formed an important association, which was partly secret, and
from which Freemasonry traces its origin) (Fig. 250), the companions,
notwithstanding that they belonged to the community of their own special
craft, also formed distinct corporations among themselves with a view to
mutual assistance. They made a point of visiting any foreign workman on
his arrival in their town, supplied his first requirements, found him
work, and, when work was wanting, the oldest companion gave up his place
to him. These associations of companionship, however, soon failed to carry
out the noble object for which they were instituted. After a time the
meeting together of the fraternity was but a pretext for intemperance and
debauchery, and at times their tumultuous processions and indecent
masquerades occasioned much disorder in the cities. The facilities which
these numerous associations possessed of extending and mutually
co-operating with one another also led to coalitions among them for the
purpose of securing any advantage which they desired to possess. Sometimes
open violence was resorted to to obtain their exorbitant and unjust
demands, which greatly excited the industrious classes, and eventually
induced the authorities to interfere. Lastly, these brotherhoods gave rise
to many violent quarrels, which ended in blows and too often in bloodshed,
between workmen of the same craft, who took different views on debateable
points. The decrees of parliament, the edicts of sovereigns, and the
decisions of councils, as early as at the end of the fifteenth century and
throughout the whole of the sixteenth, severely proscribed the doings of
these brotherhoods, but these interdictions were never duly and rigidly
enforced, and the authorities themselves often tolerated infractions of
the law, and thus license was given to every kind of abuse.

[Illustration: Fig. 250.--Carpenters.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
"Chroniques de Hainaut," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the
Burgundy Library, Brussels.]

We have frequently mentioned in the course of this volume the political
part played by the corporations during the Middle Ages. We know the active
and important part taken by trades of all descriptions, in France in the
great movement of the formation of communities. The spirit of fraternal
association which constituted the strength of the corporations (Fig. 251),
and which exhibited itself so conspicuously in every act of their public
and private life, resisted during several centuries the individual and
collective attacks made on it by craftsmen themselves. These rich and
powerful corporations began to decline from the moment they ceased to be
united, and they were dissolved by law at the beginning of the revolution
of 1789, an act which necessarily dealt a heavy blow to industry and

[Illustration: Fig. 251.--Painting commemorative of the Union of the
Merchants of Rouen at the End of the Seventeenth Century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 252.--Banner of the Drapers of Caen.]

Taxes, Money, and Finance.

  Taxes under the Roman Rule.--Money Exactions of the Merovingian
  Kings.--Varieties of Money.--Financial Laws under Charlemagne.--Missi
  Dominici.--Increase of Taxes owing to the Crusades.--Organization of
  Finances by Louis IX.--Extortions of Philip le Bel.--Pecuniary
  Embarrassaient of his Successors.--Charles V. re-establishes Order in
  Finances.--Disasters of France under Charles VI., Charles VII., and
  Jacques Coeur.--Changes in Taxation from Louis XI. to Francis I.--The
  great Financiers.--Florimond Robertet.

If we believe Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War, the Gauls were
groaning in his time under the pressure of taxation, and struggled hard to
remove it. Rome lightened their burden; but the fiscal system of the
metropolis imperceptibly took root in all the Roman provinces. There was
an arbitrary personal tax, called the poll tax, and a land tax which was
named _cens_, calculated according to the area of the holding. Besides
these, there were taxes on articles of consumption, on salt, on the import
and export of all articles of merchandise, on sales by auction; also on
marriages, on burials, and on houses. There were also legacy and
succession duties, and taxes on slaves, according to their number. Tolls
on highways were also created; and the treasury went so far as to tax the
hearth. Hence the origin of the name, _feu_, which was afterwards applied
to each household or family group assembled in the same house or sitting
before the same fire. A number of other taxes sprung up, called
_sordides_, from which the nobility and the government functionaries were

This ruinous system of taxation, rendered still more insupportable by the
exactions of the proconsuls, and the violence of their subordinates, went
on increasing down to the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. The Middle
Ages gave birth to a new order of things. The municipal administration,
composed in great part of Gallo-Roman citizens, did not perceptibly
deviate from the customs established for five centuries, but each invading
nation by degrees introduced new habits and ideas into the countries they
subdued. The Germans and Franks, having become masters of part of Gaul,
established themselves on the lands which they had divided between them.
The great domains, with their revenues which had belonged to the emperors,
naturally became the property of the barbarian chiefs, and served to
defray the expenses of their houses or their courts. These chiefs, at each
general assembly of the _Leudes_, or great vassals, received presents of
money, of arms, of horses, and of various objects of home or of foreign
manufacture. For a long time these gifts were voluntary. The territorial
fief, which was given to those soldlers who had deserved it by their
military services, involved from the holders a personal service to the
King. They had to attend him on his journeys, to follow him to war, and to
defend him under all circumstances. The fief was entirely exempt from
taxes. Many misdeeds--even robberies and other crimes, which were
ordinarily punishable by death--were pardonable on payment of a
proportionate fine, and oaths, in many cases, might be absolved in the
same way. Thus a large revenue was received, which was generally divided
equally between the State, the procurator fiscal, and the King.

[Illustration: Fig. 253.--The Extraction of Metals.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, folio: Basle, 1552.]

War, which was almost constant in those turbulent times, furnished the
barbarian kings with occasional resources, which were usually much more
important than the ordinary supplies from taxation. The first chiefs of
the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, and the Franks, sought means of
replenishing their treasuries by their victorious arms. Alaric, Totila,
and Clovis thus amassed enormous wealth, without troubling themselves to
place the government finances on a satisfactory basis. We see, however, a
semblance of financial organization in the institutions of Alaric and his
successors. Subsequently, the great Théodoric, who had studied the
administrative theories of the Byzantine Court, exercised his genius in
endeavouring to work out an accurate system of finance, which was adopted
in Italy.

Gregory of Tours, a writer of the sixteenth century, relates in several
passages of his "History of the Franks," that they exhibited the same
repugnance to compulsory taxation as the Germans of the time of Tacitus.
The _Leudes_ considered that they owed nothing to the treasury, and to
force them to submit to taxation was not an easy matter. About the year
465, Childéric I., father of Clovis, lost his crown for wishing all
classes to submit to taxation equally. In 673, Childéric II., King of
Austrasia, had one of these _Leudes_, named Bodillon, flogged with rods
for daring to reproach him with the injustice of certain taxes. He,
however, was afterwards assassinated by this same Bodillon, and the
_Leudes_ maintained their right of immunity. A century before the _Leudes_
were already quarrelling with royalty on account of the taxes, which they
refused to pay, and they sacrificed Queen Brunehaut because she attempted
to enrich the treasury with the confiscated property of a few nobles who
had rebelled against her authority. The wealth of the Frank kings, which
was always very great, was a continual object of envy, and on one occasion
Chilpéric I., King of Soissons, having the _Leudes_ in league with him,
laid his hands on the wealth amassed by his father, Clotaire I., which was
kept in the Palace of Braine. He was, nevertheless, obliged to share his
spoil with his brothers and their followers, who came in arms to force him
to refund what he had taken. Chilpéric (Fig. 254) was so much in awe of
these _Leudes_ that he did not ask them for money. His wife, the
much-feared Frédégonde, did not, however, exempt them more than Brunehaut
had done; and her judges or ministers, Audon and Mummius, having met with
an insurmountable resistance in endeavouring to force taxation on the
nobles, nearly lost their lives in consequence.

[Illustration: Fig. 254.--Tomb of Chilpéric.--Sculpture of the Eleventh
Century, in the Abbey of St. Denis.]

The custom of numbering the population, such as was carried on in Rome
through the censors, appears to have been observed under the Merovingian
kings. At the request of the Bishop of Poitiers, Childebert gave orders to
amend the census taken under Sigebert, King of Austrasia. It is a most
curious document mentioned by Gregory of Tours. "The ancient division," he
says, "had been one so unequal, owing to the subdivision of properties and
other changes which time had made in the condition of the taxpayers, that
the poor, the orphans, and the helpless classes generally alone bore the
real burden of taxation." Florentius, comptroller of the King's household,
and Romulfus, count of the palace, remedied this abuse. After a closer
examination of the changes which had taken place, they relieved the
taxpayers who were too heavily rated and placed the burden on those who
could better afford it.

This direct taxation continued on this plan until the time of the kings of
the second dynasty. The Franks, who had not the privilege of exemption,
paid a poll tax and a house tax; about a tenth was charged on the produce
of highly cultivated lands, a little more on that of lands of an inferior
description, and a certain measure, a _cruche_, of wine on the produce of
every half acre of vineyard. There were assessors and royal agents charged
with levying such taxes and regulating the farming of them. In spite of
this precaution, however, an edict of Clovis II., in the year 615,
censures the mode of imposing rates and taxes; it orders that they shall
only be levied in the places where they have been authorised, and forbade
their being used under any pretext whatever for any other object than that
for which they were imposed.

[Illustration: Fig. 255.--Signature of St. Eloy (Eligius), Financier and
Minister to Dagobert I.; from the Charter of Foundation of the Abbey of
Solignac (Mabillon, "Da Re Diplomatica").]

Under the Merovingians specie was not in common use, although the precious
metals were abundant among the Gauls, as their mines of gold and silver
were not yet exhausted. Money was rarely coined, except on great
occasions, such as a coronation, the birth of an heir to the throne, the
marriage of a prince, or the commemoration of a decisive victory. It is
even probable that each time that money was used in large sums the pound
or the _sou_ of gold was represented more by ingots of metal than by
stamped coin. The third of the _sou_ of gold, which was coined on state
occasions, seems to have been used only as a commemorative medal, to be
distributed amongst the great officers of state, and this circumstance
explains their extreme rarity. The general character of the coinage,
whether of gold, silver, or of the baser metals, of the Burgundian,
Austrasian, and Frank kings, differs little from what it had been at the
time of the last of the Roman emperors, though the _Angel bearing the
cross_ gradually replaced the _Renommée victorieuse_ formerly stamped on
the coins. Christian monograms and symbols of the Trinity were often
intermingled with the initials of the sovereign. It also became common to
combine in a monogram letters thought to be sacred or lucky, such as C, M,
S, T, &c.; also to introduce the names of places, which, perhaps, have
since disappeared, as well as some particular mark or sign special to each
mint. Some of these are very difficult to understand, and present a number
of problems which have yet to be solved (Figs. 256 to 259). Unfortunately,
the names of places on Merovingian coins to the number of about nine
hundred, have rarely been studied by coin collectors, expert both as
geographers and linguists. We find, for example, one hundred distinct
mints, and, up to the present time, have not been able to determine where
the greater number of them were situated.

[Illustration: Merovingian Gold Coins, Struck by St. Eloy, Moneyer to
Dagobert I. (628-638).

Fig. 256.--Parisinna Ceve Fit.. Head of Dagobert with double diadem of
pearls, hair hanging down the back of the neck. _Rev._, Dagobertvs Rex.
Cross; above, omega; under the arms of the cross, Eligi.

Fig. 257.--Parissin. Civ. Head of Clovis II., with diadem of pearls, hair
braided and hanging down the back of the neck. _Rev._, Chlodovevs Rex.
Cross with anchor; under the arms of the cross, Eligi.

Fig. 258.--Parisivs Fit. Head of King. _Rev._, Eligivs Mone. Cross; above,
omega; under, a ball.

Fig. 259.--Mon. Palati. Head of King. _Rev._, Scolare. I. A. Cross with
anchor; under the arms of the cross, Eligi. ]

From the time that Clovis became a Christian, he loaded the Church with
favours, and it soon possessed considerable revenues, and enjoyed many
valuable immunities. The sons of Clovis contested these privileges; but
the Church resisted for a time, though she was eventually obliged to give
way to the iron hand of Charles Martel. In 732 this great military
chieftain, after his struggle with Rainfroy, and after his brilliant
victories over the Saxons, the Bavarians, the Swiss, and the Saracens,
stripped the clergy of their landed possessions, in order to distribute
them amongst his _Leudes_, who by this means he secured as his creatures,
and who were, therefore, ever willing and eager to serve him in arms.

On ascending the throne, King Pepin, who wanted to pacify the Church,
endeavoured as far as possible to obliterate the recollection of the
wrongs of which his father had been guilty towards her; he ordered the
_dîmes_ and the _nones_ (tenth and ninth denier levied on the value of
lands) to be placed to the account of the possessors of each
ecclesiastical domain, on their under-taking to repair the buildings
(churches, châteaux, abbeys, and presbyteries), and to restore to the
owners the properties on which they held mortgages. The nobles long
resented this, and it required the authority and the example of
Charlemagne to soothe the contending parties, and to make Church and State
act in harmony.

Charlemagne renounced the arbitrary rights established by the Mayors of
the Palace, and retained only those which long usage had legitimatised. He
registered them clearly in a code called the _Capitulaires_, into which he
introduced the ancient laws of the Ripuaires, the Burgundians, and the
Franks, arranging them so as to suit the organization and requirements of
his vast empire. From that time each freeman subscribed to the military
service according to the amount of his possessions. The great vassal, or
fiscal judge, was no longer allowed to practise extortion on those
citizens appointed to defend the State. Freemen could legally refuse all
servile or obligatory work imposed on them by the nobles, and the amount
of labour to be performed by the serfs was lessened. Without absolutely
abolishing the authority of local customs in matters of finance, or
penalties which had been illegally exacted, they were suspended by laws
decided at the _Champs de Mai_, by the Counts and by the _Leudes_, in
presence of the Emperor. Arbitrary taxes were abolished, as they were no
longer required. Food, and any articles of consumption, and military
munitions, were exempted from taxation; and the revenues derived from
tolls on road gates, on bridges, and on city gates, &c., were applied to
the purposes for which they were imposed, namely, to the repair of the
roads, the bridges, and the fortified enclosures. The _heriban_, a fine of
sixty sols--which in those days would amount to more than 6,000
francs--was imposed on any holder of a fief who refused military service,
and each noble was obliged to pay this for every one of his vassals who
was absent when summoned to the King's banner. These fines must have
produced considerable sums. A special law exempted ecclesiastics from
bearing arms, and Charlemagne decreed that their possessions should be
sacred and untouched, and everything was done to ensure the payment of the
indemnity--_dîme_ and _none_--which was due to them.

[Illustration: Fig. 260.--Toll on Markets levied by a Cleric.--From one of
the Painted Windows of the Cathedral of Tournay (Fifteenth Century).]

Charlemagne also superintended the coining and circulation of money. He
directed that the silver sou should exactly contain the twenty-second part
by weight of the pound. He also directed that money should only be coined
in the Imperial palaces. He forbade the circulation of spurious coin; he
ordered base coiners to be severely punished, and imposed heavy fines upon
those who refused to accept the coin in legal circulation. The tithe due
to the Church (Fig. 260), which was imposed at the National Assembly in
779, and disbursed by the diocesan bishops, gave rise to many complaints
and much opposition. This tithe was in addition to that paid to the King,
which was of itself sufficiently heavy. The right of claiming the two
tithes, however, had a common origin, so that the sovereign defended his
own rights in protecting those of the Church. This is set forth in the
text of the _Capitulaires_, from the year 794 to 829. "What had originally
been only a voluntary and pious offering of a few of the faithful," says
the author of the "Histoire Financière de la France," "became thus a
perpetual tax upon agriculture, custom rather than law enforcing its
payment; and a tithe which was at first limited to the produce of the
soil, soon extended itself to cattle and other live stock."

Royal delegates (_missi dominici_), who were invested with complex
functions, and with very extensive power, travelled through the empire
exercising legal jurisdiction over all matters of importance. They
assembled all the _placites_, or provincial authorities, and inquired
particularly into the collection of the public revenue. During their
tours, which took place four times a year, they either personally annulled
unjust sentences, or submitted them to the Emperor. They denounced any
irregularities on the part of the Counts, punished the negligences of
their assessors, and often, in order to replace unworthy judges, they had
to resort to a system of election of assessors, chosen from among the
people. They verified the returns for the census; superintended the
keeping up of the royal domains; corrected frauds in matters of taxation;
and punished usurers as much as base coiners, for at that time money was
not considered a commercial article, nor was it thought right that a
money-lender should be allowed to carry on a trade which required a
remuneration proportionate to the risk which he incurred.

[Illustration: Fig. 261.--Sale by Town-Crier. _Preco_, the Crier, blowing
a trumpet; _Subhastator_, public officer charged with the sale. In the
background is seen another sale, by the Bellman.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in the Work of Josse Damhoudere, "Praxis Rerum Civilium," 4to: Antwerp,

These _missi dominici_ were too much hated by the great vassals to outlive
the introduction of the feudal system. Their royal masters, as they
themselves gradually lost a part of their own privileges and power, could
not sustain the authority of these officers. Dukes, counts, and barons,
having become magistrates, arbitrarily levied new taxes, imposed new
fines, and appropriated the King's tributes to such an extent that,
towards the end of the tenth century, the laws of Charlemagne had no
longer any weight. We then find a number of new taxes levied for the
benefit of the nobles, the very names of which have fallen into disuse
with the feudal claims which they represented. Among these new taxes were
those of _escorte_ and _entrée_, of _mortmain_, of _lods et ventes_, of
_relief_, the _champarts_, the _taille_, the _fouage_, and the various
fees for wine-pressing, grinding, baking, &c., all of which were payable
without prejudice to the tithes due to the King and the Church. However,
as the royal tithe was hardly ever paid, the kings were obliged to look to
other means for replenishing their treasuries; and coining false money was
a common practice. Unfortunately each great vassal vied with the kings in
this, and to such an extent, that the enormous quantity of bad money
coined during the ninth century completed the public ruin, and made this a
sad period of social chaos. The freeman was no longer distinguishable from
the villain, nor the villain from the serf. Serfdom was general; men found
themselves, as it were, slaves, in possession of land which they laboured
at with the sweat of their brow, only to cultivate for the benefit of
others. The towns even--with the exception of a few privileged cities, as
Florence, Paris, Lyons, Rheims, Metz, Strasburg, Marseilles, Hamburg,
Frankfort, and Milan--were under the dominion of some ecclesiastical or
lay lord, and only enjoyed liberty of a more or less limited character.

Towards the end of the eleventh century, under Philip I., the enthusiasm
for Crusades became general, and, as all the nobles joined in the holy
mission of freeing the tomb of Jesus Christ from the hands of the
infidels, large sums of money were required to defray the costs. New taxes
were accordingly imposed; but, as these did not produce enough at once,
large sums were raised by the sale of some of the feudal rights. Certain
franchises were in this way sold by the nobles to the boroughs, towns, and
abbeys, though, in not a few instances, these very privileges had been
formerly plundered from the places to which they were now sold. Fines were
exacted from any person declining to go to Palestine; and foreign
merchants--especially the Jews--were required to subscribe large sums. A
number of the nobles holding fiefs were reduced to the lowest expedients
with a view to raising money, and even sold their estates at a low price,
or mortgaged them to the very Jews whom they taxed so heavily. Every town
in which the spirit of Gallo-Roman municipality was preserved took
advantage of these circumstances to extend its liberties. Each monarch,
too, found this a favourable opportunity to add new fiefs to the crown,
and to recall as many great vassals as possible under his dominion. It
was at this period that communities arose, and that the first charters of
freedom which were obligatory and binding contracts between the King and
the people, date their origin. Besides the annual fines due to the King
and the feudal lords, and in addition to the general subsidies, such as
the quit-rent and the tithes, these communities had to provide for the
repair of the walls or ramparts, for the paving of the streets, the
cleaning of the pits, the watch on the city gates, and the various
expenses of local administration.

Louis le Gros endeavoured to make a re-arrangement of the taxes, and to
establish them on a definite basis. By his orders a new register of the
lands throughout the kingdom was commenced, but various calamities caused
this useful measure to be suspended. In 1149, Louis le Jeune, in
consequence of a disaster which had befallen the Crusaders, did what none
of his predecessors had dared to attempt: he exacted from all his subjects
a sol per pound on their income. This tax, which amounted to a twentieth
part of income, was paid even by the Church, which, for example's sake,
did not take advantage of its immunities. Forty years later, at a council,
or _great parliament_, called by Philip Augustus, a new crusade was
decided upon; and, under the name of Saladin's tithe, an annual tax was
imposed on all property, whether landed or personal, of all who did not
take up the cross to go to the Holy Land. The nobility, however, so
violently resisted this, that the King was obliged to substitute for it a
general tax, which, although it was still more productive, was less
offensive in its mode of collection.

On returning to France in 1191, Philip Augustus rated and taxed every
one--nobility, bourgeois, and clergy--in order to prosecute the great wars
in which he was engaged, and to provide for the first paid troops ever
known in France. He began by confirming the enormous confiscations of the
properties of the Jews, who had been banished from the kingdom, and
afterwards sold a temporary permission to some of the richest of them to

The Jews at that time were the only possessors of available funds, as they
were the only people who trafficked, and who lent money on interest. On
this account the Government were glad to recall them, so as to have at
hand a valuable resource which it could always make use of. As the King
could not on his own authority levy taxes upon the vassals of feudal
lords, on emergencies he convoked the barons, who discussed financial
matters with the King, and, when the sum required was settled, an order
of assessment was issued, and the barons undertook the collection of the
taxes. The assessment was always fixed higher than was required for the
King's wants, and the barons, having paid the King what was due to him,
retained the surplus, which they divided amongst themselves.

The creation of a public revenue, raised by the contributions of all
classes of society, with a definite sum to be kept in reserve, thus dates
from the reign of Philip Augustus. The annual income of the State at that
time amounted to 36,000 marks, or 72,000 pounds' weight of silver--about
sixteen or seventeen million francs of present currency. The treasury,
which was kept in the great tower of the temple (Fig. 262), was under the
custody of seven bourgeois of Paris, and a king's clerk kept a register of
receipts and disbursements. This treasury must have been well filled at
the death of Philip Augustus, for that monarch's legacies were very
considerable. One of his last wishes deserves to be mentioned: and this
was a formal order, which he gave to Louis VIII., to employ a certain sum,
left him for that purpose, solely and entirely for the defence of the

[Illustration: Fig. 262.--The Tower of the Temple, in Paris.--From an
Engraving of the Topography of Paris, in the Cabinet des Estampes, of the
National Library.]

[Illustration: Gold Coins of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries.

Fig. 263.--Mérovée, Son of Chilperic I.

Fig. 264.--Dagobert I.

Fig. 265.--Clotaire III.]

[Illustration: Silver Coins from the Eighth to the Eleventh Centures.

Fig 266.--Pepin the Short.

Fig. 267.--Charlemagne.

Fig. 268.--Henri I.]

[Illustration: Gold and Silver Coins of the Thirteenth Century.

Fig. 269.--Gold Florin of Louis IX.

Fig. 270.--Silver Gros of Tours.--Philip III.]

When Louis IX., in 1242, at Taillebourg and at Saintes, had defeated the
great vassals who had rebelled against him, he hastened to regulate the
taxes by means of a special code which bore the name of the
_Établissements_. The taxes thus imposed fell upon the whole population,
and even lands belonging to the Church, houses which the nobles did not
themselves occupy, rural properties and leased holdings, were all
subjected to them. There were, however, two different kinds of rates, one
called the _occupation_ rate, and the other the rate of _exploitation_;
and they were both collected according to a register, kept in the most
regular and systematic manner possible. Ancient custom had maintained a
tax exceptionally in the following cases: when a noble dubbed his son a
knight, or gave his daughter in marriage, when he had to pay a ransom,
and when he set out on a campaign against the enemies of the Church, or
for the defence of the country. These taxes were called _l'aide aux quatre
cas_. At this period despotism too often overruled custom, and the good
King Louis IX., by granting legal power to custom, tried to bring it back
to the true principles of justice and humanity. He was, however, none the
less jealous of his own personal privileges, especially as regarded
coining (Figs. 263 to 270). He insisted that coining should be exclusively
carried on in his palace, as in the times of the Carlovingian kings, and
he required every coin to be made of a definite standard of weight, which
he himself fixed. In this way he secured the exclusive control over the
mint. For the various localities, towns, or counties directly under the
crown, Louis IX. settled the mode of levying taxes. Men of integrity were
elected by the vote of the General Assembly, consisting of the three
orders--namely, of the nobility, the clergy, and the _tiers état_--to
assess the taxation of each individual; and these assessors themselves
were taxed by four of their own number. The custom of levying proprietary
subsidies in each small feudal jurisdiction could not be abolished,
notwithstanding the King's desire to do so, owing to the power still held
by the nobles. Nobles were forbidden to levy a rate under any
consideration, without previously holding a meeting of the vassals and
their tenants. The tolls on roads, bridges (Fig. 271), fairs, and markets,
and the harbour dues were kept up, notwithstanding their obstruction to
commerce, with the exception that free passage was given to corn passing
from one province to another. The exemptions from taxes which had been
dearly bought were removed; and the nobles were bound not to divert the
revenue received from tolls for any purposes other than those for which
they were legitimately intended. The nobles were also required to guard
the roads "from sunrise to sunset," and they were made responsible for
robberies committed upon travellers within their domains.

Louis IX., by refunding the value of goods which had been stolen through
the carelessness of his officers, himself showed an example of the respect
due to the law. Those charged with collecting the King's dues, as well as
the mayors whose duty it was to take custody of the money contributed, and
to receive the taxes on various articles of consumption, worked under the
eye of officials appointed by the King, who exercised a financial
jurisdiction which developed later into the department or office called
the Chamber of Accounts. A tax, somewhat similar to the tithe on funds,
was imposed for the benefit of the nobles on property held by corporations
or under charter, in order to compensate the treasury for the loss of the
succession duties. This tax represented about the fifth part of the value
of the estate. To cover the enormous expenses of the two crusades, Louis
IX., however, was obliged to levy two new taxes, called _decimes_, from
his already overburdened people. It does not, however, appear that this
excessive taxation alienated the affection of his subjects. Their minds
were entirely taken up with the pilgrimages to the East, and the pious
monarch, notwithstanding his fruitless sacrifices and his disastrous
expeditions, earned for himself the title of _Prince of Peace and of

[Illustration: Fig. 271.--Paying Toll on passing a Bridge.--From a Painted
Window in the Cathedral of Tournay (Fifteenth Century).]

From the time of Louis IX. down to that of Philippe le Bel, who was the
most extravagant of kings, and at the same time the most ingenious in
raising funds for the State treasury, the financial movement of Europe
took root, and eventually became centralised in Italy. In Florence was
presented an example of the concentration of the most complete municipal
privileges which a great flourishing city could desire. Pisa, Genoa, and
Venice attracted a part of the European commerce towards the Adriatic and
the Mediterranean. Everywhere the Jews and Lombards--already well
initiated into the mysterious System of credit, and accustomed to lend
money--started banks and pawn establishments, where jewels, diamonds,
glittering arms, and paraphernalia of all kinds were deposited by princes
and nobles as security for loans (Fig. 272).

[Illustration: Fig. 272.--View of the ancient Pont aux Changeurs.--From an
Engraving of the Topography of Paris, in the Cabinet des Estampes, of the
National Library.]

The tax collectors (_maltôtiers_, a name derived from the Italian _mala
tolta_, unjust tax), receivers, or farmers of taxes, paid dearly for
exercising their calling, which was always a dishonourable one, and was at
times exercised with a great amount of harshness and even of cruelty. The
treasury required a certain number of _deniers, oboles_, or _pittes_ (a
small coin varying in value in each province) to be paid by these men for
each bank operation they effected, and for every pound in value of
merchandise they sold, for they and the Jews were permitted to carry on
trades of all kinds without being subject to any kind of rates, taxes,
work, military service, or municipal dues.

Philippe le Bel, owing to his interminable wars against the King of
Castille, and against England, Germany, and Flanders, was frequently so
embarrassed as to be obliged to resort to extraordinary subsidies in order
to carry them on. In 1295, he called upon his subjects for a forced loan,
and soon after he shamelessly required them to pay the one-hundredth part
of their incomes, and after but a short interval he demanded another
fiftieth part. The king assumed the exclusive right to debase the value of
the coinage, which caused him to be commonly called the _base coiner_, and
no sovereign ever coined a greater quantity of base money. He changed the
standard or name of current coin with a view to counterbalance the
mischief arising from the illicit coinage of the nobles, and especially to
baffle the base traffic of the Jews and Lombards, who occasionally would
obtain possession of a great part of the coin, and mutilate each piece
before restoring it to circulation; in this way they upset the whole
monetary economy of the realm, and secured immense profits to themselves
(Figs. 273 to 278).

In 1303, the _aide au leur_, which was afterwards called the _aide de
l'ost,_ or the army tax, was invented by Philippe le Bel for raising an
army without opening his purse. It was levied without distinction upon
dukes, counts, barons, ladies, damsels, archbishops, bishops, abbots,
chapters, colleges, and, in fact, upon all classes, whether noble or not.
Nobles were bound to furnish one knight mounted, equipped, and in full
armour, for every five hundred marks of land which they possessed; those
who were not nobles had to furnish six foot-soldiers for every hundred
households. By another enactment of this king the privilege was granted of
paying money instead of complying with these demands for men, and a sum of
100 livres--about 10,000 francs of present currency--was exacted for each
armed knight; and two sols--about ten francs per diem--for each soldier
which any one failed to furnish. An outcry was raised throughout France at
this proceeding, and rebellions broke out in several provinces: in Paris
the mob destroyed the house of Stephen Barbette, master of the mint, and
insulted the King in his palace. It was necessary to enforce the royal
authority with vigour, and, after considerable difficulty, peace was at
last restored, and Philip learned, though too late, that in matters of
taxation the people should first be consulted. In 1313, for the first
time, the bourgeoisie, syndics, or deputies of communities, under the name
of _tiers état_--third order of the state--were called to exercise the
right of freely voting the assistance or subsidy which it pleased the King
to ask of them. After this memorable occasion an edict was issued ordering
a levy of six deniers in the pound on every sort of merchandise sold in
the kingdom. Paris paid this without hesitation, whereas in the provinces
there was much discontented murmuring. But the following year, the King
having tried to raise the six deniers voted by the assembly of 1313 to
twelve, the clergy, nobility, and _tiers état_ combined to resist the
extortions of the government. Philippe le Bel died, after having yielded
to the opposition of his indignant subjects, and in his last moments he
recommended his son to exercise moderation in taxing and honesty in

[Illustration: Gold Coins of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.

Fig. 273.--Masse d'Or. Philip IV.

Fig. 274.--Small Aignel d'Or. Charles IV.

Fig. 275.--Large Aignel d'Or. John the Good.

Fig. 276.--Franc à Cheval d'Or. Charles V.

Fig. 277.--Ecu d'Or. Philip VI.

Fig. 278.--Salut d'Or. Charles VI.]

On the accession of Louis X., in 1315, war against the Flemish was
imminent, although the royal treasury was absolutely empty. The King
unfortunately, in spite of his father's advice, attempted systematically
to tamper with the coinage, and he also commenced the exaction of fresh
taxes, to the great exasperation of his subjects. He was obliged, through
fear of a general rebellion, to do away with the tithe established for the
support of the army, and to sacrifice the superintendent of finances,
Enguerrand de Marigny, to the public indignation which was felt against
him. This man, without being allowed to defend himself, was tried by an
extraordinary commission of parliament for embezzling the public money,
was condemned to death, and was hung on the gibbet of Montfauçon. Not
daring to risk a convocation of the States-General of the kingdom, Louis
X. ordered the seneschals to convoke the provincial assemblies, and thus
obtained a few subsidies, which he promised to refund out of the revenues
of his domains. The clergy even allowed themselves to be taxed, and closed
their eyes to the misappropriation of the funds, which were supposed to be
held in reserve for a new crusade. Taxes giving commercial franchise and
of exchange were levied, which were paid by the Jews, Lombards, Tuscans,
and other Italians; judiciary offices were sold by auction; the trading
class purchased letters of nobility, as they had already done under
Philippe le Bel; and, more than this, the enfranchisement of serfs, which
had commenced in 1298, was continued on the payment of a tax, which varied
according to the means of each individual. In consequence of this system,
personal servitude was almost entirely abolished under Philippe de Long,
brother of Louis X.

Each province, under the reign of this rapacious and necessitous monarch,
demanded some concession from the crown, and almost always obtained it at
a money value. Normandy and Burgundy, which were dreaded more than any
other province on account of their turbulence, received remarkable
concessions. The base coin was withdrawn from circulation, and Louis X.
attempted to forbid the right of coinage to those who broke the wise laws
of St. Louis. The idea of bills of exchange arose at this period.

Thanks to the peace concluded with Flanders, on which occasion that
country paid into the hands of the sovereign thirty thousand florins in
gold for arrears of taxes, and, above all, owing to the rules of economy
and order, from which Philip V., surnamed the Long, never deviated, the
attitude of France became completely altered. We find the King initiating
reform by reducing the expenses of his household. He convened round his
person a great council, which met monthly to examine and discuss matters
of public interest; he allowed only one national treasury for the
reception of the State revenues; he required the treasurers to make a
half-yearly statement of their accounts, and a daily journal of receipts
and disbursements; he forbad clerks of the treasury to make entries either
of receipts or expenditure, however trifling, without the authority and
supervision of accountants, whom he also compelled to assist at the
checking of sums received or paid by the money-changers (Fig. 279). The
farming of the crown lands, the King's taxes, the stamp registration, and
the gaol duties were sold by auction, subject to certain regulations with
regard to guarantee. The bailiffs and seneschals sent in their accounts to
Paris annually, they were not allowed to absent themselves without the
King's permission, and they were formally forbidden, under pain of
confiscation, or even a severer penalty, to speculate with the public
money. The operations of the treasury were at this period always involved
in the greatest mystery.

[Illustration: Fig. 279.--Hotel of the Chamber of Accounts in the
Courtyard of the Palace in Paris. From a Woodcut of the "Cosmographie
Universelle" of Munster, in folio: Basle, 1552.]

[Illustration: Fig. 280.--Measuring Salt.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut of the
"Ordonnances de la Prevosté des Marchands de Paris," in folio: 1500.]

[Illustration: Fig. 281.--Toll under the Bridges of Paris.--Fac-simile of
a Woodcut of the "Ordonnances de la Prevosté des Marchands de Paris," in
folio: 1500.]

The establishment of a central mint for the whole kingdom, the expulsion
of the money-dealers, who were mostly of Italian origin, and the
confiscation of their goods if it was discovered that they had acted
falsely, signalised the accession of Charles le Bel in 1332. This
beginning was welcomed as most auspicious, but before long the export
duties, especially on grain, wine, hay, cattle, leather, and salt, became
a source of legitimate complaint (Figs. 280 and 281).

Philip VI., surnamed _de Valois_, a more astute politician than his
predecessor, felt the necessity of gaining the affections of the people by
sparing their private fortunes. In order to establish the public revenue
on a firm basis, he assembled, in 1330, the States-General, composed of
barons, prelates, and deputies from the principal towns, and then, hoping
to awe the financial agents, he authorised the arrest of the overseer,
Pierre de Montigny, whose property was confiscated and sold, producing to
the treasury the enormous sum of 1,200,000 livres, or upwards of
100,000,000 francs of present currency. The long and terrible war which
the King was forced to carry on against the English, and which ended in
the treaty of Bretigny in 1361, gave rise to the introduction of taxation
of extreme severity. The dues on ecclesiastical properties were renewed
and maintained for several years; all beverages sold in towns were taxed,
and from four to six deniers in the pound were levied upon the value of
all merchandise sold in any part of the kingdom. The salt tax, which
Philippe le Bel had established, and which his successor, Louis X.,
immediately abolished at the unanimous wish of the people, was again
levied by Philip VI., and this king, having caused the salt produced in
his domains to be sold, "gave great offence to all classes of the
community." It was on account of this that Edward III., King of England,
facetiously called him the author of the _Salic_ law. Philippe de Valois,
when he first ascended the throne, coined his money according to the
standard weight of St. Louis, but in a short time he more or less alloyed
it. This he did secretly, in order to be able to withdraw the pieces of
full weight from circulation and to replace them with others having less
pure metal in them, and whose weight was made up by an extra amount of
alloy. In this dishonest way a considerable sum was added to the coffers
of the state.

King John, on succeeding his father in 1350, found the treasury empty and
the resources of the kingdom exhausted. He was nevertheless obliged to
provide means to continue the war against the English, who continually
harassed the French on their own territory. The tax on merchandise not
being sufficient for this war, the payment of public debts contracted by
the government was suspended, and the State was thus obliged to admit its
insolvency. The mint taxes, called _seigneuriage_, were pushed to the
utmost limits, and the King levied them on the new coin, which he
increased at will by largely alloying the gold with base metals. The
duties on exported and imported goods were increased, notwithstanding the
complaints that commerce was declining. These financial expedients would
not have been tolerated by the people had not the King taken the
précaution to have them approved by the States-General of the provincial
states, which he annually assembled. In 1355 the States-General were
convoked, and the King, who had to maintain thirty thousand soldiers,
asked them to provide for this annual expenditure, estimated at 5,000,000
_livres parisis_, about 300,000,000 francs of present currency. The
States-General, animated by a generous feeling of patriotism, "ordered a
tax of eight deniers in the pound on the sale and transfer of all goods
and articles of merchandise, with the exception of inheritances, which was
to be payable by the vendors, of whatever rank they might be, whether
ecclesiastics, nobles, or others, and also a salt tax to be levied
throughout the whole kingdom of France." The King promised as long as this
assistance lasted to levy no other subsidy and to coin good and sterling
money--i.e., _deniers_ of fine gold, _white_, or silver coin, coin of
_billon_, or mixed metal, and _deniers_ and _mailles_ of copper. The
assembly appointed travelling agents and three inspectors or
superintendents, who had under them two receivers and a considerable
number of sub-collectors, whose duties were defined with scrupulous
minuteness. The King at this time renounced the right of seizin, his dues
over property, inherited or conveyed by sale, exchange, gift, or will, his
right of demanding war levies by proclamation, and of issuing forced
loans, the despotic character of which offended everybody. The following
year, the tax of eight deniers having been found insufficient and
expensive in its collection, the assembly substituted for it a property
and income tax, varying according to the property and income of each

[Illustration: Fig. 282.--The Courtiers amassing Riches at the Expense of
the Poor.--From a Miniature in the 'Tresor of Brunetto Latini, Manuscript
of the Fourteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal, Paris.]

The finances were, notwithstanding these additions, in a low and
unsatisfactory condition, which became worse and worse from the fatal day
of Poitiers, when King John fell into the hands of the English. The
States-General were summoned by the Dauphin, and, seeing the desperate
condition in which the country was placed, all classes freely opened their
purses. The nobility, who had already given their blood, gave the produce
of all their feudal dues besides. The church paid a tenth and a half, and
the bourgeois showed the most noble unselfishness, and rose as one man to
find means to resist the common enemy. The ransom of the King had been
fixed at three millions of _écus d'or,_ nearly a thousand million francs,
payable in six years, and the peace of Bretigny was concluded by the
cession of a third of the territory of France. There was, however, cause
for congratulation in this result, for "France was reduced to its utmost
extremity," says a chronicler, "and had not something led to a reaction,
she must have perished irretrievably."

King John, grateful for the love and devotion shown to him by his subjects
under these trying circumstances, returned from captivity with the solemn
intention of lightening the burdens which pressed upon them, and in
consequence be began by spontaneously reducing the enormous wages which
the tax-gatherers had hitherto received, and by abolishing the tolls on
highways. He also sold to the Jews, at a very high price, the right of
remaining in the kingdom and of exercising any trade in it, and by this
means he obtained a large sum of money. He solemnly promised never again
to debase the coin, and he endeavoured to make an equitable division of
the taxes. Unfortunately it was impossible to do without a public revenue,
and it was necessary that the royal ransom should be paid off within six
years. The people, from whom taxes might be always extorted at pleasure,
paid a good share of this, for the fifth of the three millions of _écus
d'or_ was realised from the tax on salt, the thirteenth part from the
duty on the sale of fermented liquors, and twelve deniers per pound from
the tax on the value of all provisions sold and resold within the kingdom.
Commerce was subjected to a new tax called _imposition foraine_, a measure
most detrimental to the trade and manufactures of the country, which were
continually struggling under the pitiless oppression of the treasury.
Royal despotism was not always able to shelter itself under the sanction
of the general and provincial councils, and a few provinces, which
forcibly protested against this excise duty, were treated on the same
footing as foreign states with relation to the transit of merchandise from
them. Other provinces compounded for this tax, and in this way, owing to
the different arrangements in different places, a complicated system of
exemptions and prohibitions existed which although most prejudicial to all
industry, remained in force to a great extent until 1789.

When Charles V.--surnamed the Wise--ascended the throne in 1364, France,
ruined by the disasters of the war, by the weight of taxation, by the
reduction in her commerce, and by the want of internal security, exhibited
everywhere a picture of misery and desolation; in addition to which,
famine and various epidemics were constantly breaking out in various parts
of the kingdom. Besides this, the country was incessantly overrun by gangs
of plunderers, who called themselves _écorcheurs, routiers, tardvenus_,
&c., and who were more dreaded by the country people even than the English
had been. Charles V., who was celebrated for his justice and for his
economical and provident habits, was alone capable of establishing order
in the midst of such general confusion. Supported by the vote of the
Assembly held at Compiègne in 1367, he remitted a moiety of the salt tax
and diminished the number of the treasury agents, reduced their wages, and
curtailed their privileges. He inquired into all cases of embezzlement, so
as to put a stop to fraud; and he insisted that the accounts of the public
expenditure in its several departments should be annually audited. He
protected commerce, facilitated exchanges, and reduced, as far as
possible, the rates and taxes on woven articles and manufactured goods. He
permitted Jews to hold funded property, and invited foreign merchants to
trade with the country. For the first time he required all gold and silver
articles to be stamped, and called in all the old gold and silver coins,
in order that by a new and uniform issue the value of money might no
longer be fictitious or variable. For more than a century coins had so
often changed in name, value, and standard weight, that in an edict of
King John we read, "It was difficult for a man when paying money in the
ordinary course to know what he was about from one day to another."

The recommencement of hostilities between England and France in 1370
unfortunately interrupted the progressive and regular course of these
financial improvements. The States-General, to whom the King was obliged
to appeal for assistance in order to carry on the war, decided that salt
should be taxed one sol per pound, wine by wholesale a thirteenth of its
value, and by retail a fourth; that a _fouage_, or hearth tax, of six
francs should be established in towns, and of two francs in the
country,[*] and that a duty should be levied in walled towns on the
entrance of all wine. The produce of the salt tax was devoted to the
special use of the King. Each district farmed its excise and its salt tax,
under the superintendence of clerks appointed by the King, who regulated
the assessment and the fines, and who adjudicated in the first instance in
all cases of dispute. Tax-gatherers were chosen by the inhabitants of each
locality, but the chief officers of finance, four in number, were
appointed by the King. This administrative organization, created on a
sound basis, marked the establishment of a complete financial system. The
Assembly, which thus transferred the administration of all matters of
taxation from the people at large to the King, did not consist of a
combination of the three estates, but simply of persons of
position--namely, prelates, nobles, and bourgeois of Paris, in addition to
the leading magistrates of the kingdom.

  [Footnote *: This is the origin of the saying "smoke farthing."]

The following extract from the accounts of the 15th November, 1372, is
interesting, inasmuch as it represents the actual budget of France under
Charles V.:--

  Article 18. Assigned for the payment of men at arms ...... 50,000 francs.
    "     19. For payment of men at arms and crossbowmen
                 newly formed .............................. 42,000  "
    "      "  For sea purposes .............................  8,000  "
    "     20. For the King's palace ........................  6,000  "
    "      "  To place in the King's coffers................  5,000  "
    "     21. It pleases the King that the receiver-general
                 should have monthly for matters that daily
                 arise in the chamber ...................... 10,000  "
    "      "  For the payment of debts ..................... 10,000  "

                                Total ..................... 131,000  "

[Illustration: Settlement of Accounts by the Brothers of Cherité-Dieu of
the Recovery of Roles

A miniature from the "_Livre des Comptes_" of the Society (Fifteenth

Thus, for the year, 131,000 francs in _écus d'or_ representing in
present money about 12,000,000 francs, were appropriated to the expenses
of the State, out of which the sum of 5,000 francs, equal to 275,000
francs of present money, was devoted to what we may call the _Civil List_.

On the death of Charles V., in 1380, his eldest son Charles, who was a
minor, was put under the guardianship of his uncles, and one of these, the
Duke d'Anjou, assumed the regency by force. He seized upon the royal
treasury, which was concealed in the Castle of Melun, and also upon all
the savings of the deceased king; and, instead of applying them to
alleviate the general burden of taxation, he levied a duty for the first
time on the common food of the people. Immediately there arose a general
outcry of indignation, and a formidable expression of resistance was made
in Paris and in the large towns. Mob orators loudly proclaimed the public
rights thus trampled upon by the regent and the King's uncles; the
expression of the feelings of the masses began to take the shape of open
revolt, when the council of the regency made an appearance of giving way,
and the new taxes were suppressed, or, at all events, partially abandoned.
The success of the insurrectionary movement, however, caused increased
concessions to be demanded by the people. The Jews and tax-collectors were
attacked. Some of the latter were hung or assassinated, and their
registers torn up; and many of the former were ill-treated and banished,
notwithstanding the price they had paid for living in the kingdom.

The assembly of the States, which was summoned by the King's uncles to
meet in Paris, sided with the people, and, in consequence, the regent and
his brother pretended to acknowledge the justice of the claims which were
made upon them in the name of the people, and, on their withdrawing the
taxes, order was for a time restored. No sooner, however, was this the
case than, in spite of the solemn promises made by the council of regency,
the taxes were suddenly reimposed, and the right of farming them was sold
to persons who exacted them in the most brutal manner. A sanguinary
revolt, called that of the _Maillotins_, burst forth in Paris; and the
capital remained for some time in the power of the people, or rather of
the bourgeois, who led the mob on to act for them (1381-1382). The towns
of Rouen, Rheims, Troyes, Orleans, and Blois, many places in Beauvoise, in
Champagne, and in Normandy, followed the example of the Parisians, and it
is impossible to say to what a length the revolt would have reached had it
not been for the victory over the Flemish at Rosebecque. This victory
enabled the King's uncles to re-enter Paris in 1383, and to re-establish
the royal authority, at the same time making the _Maillotins_ and their
accomplices pay dearly for their conduct. The excise duties, the hearth
tax, the salt tax, and various other imposts which had been abolished or
suspended, were re-established; the taxes on wine, beer, and other
fermented liquors was lowered; bread was taxed twelve deniers per pound,
and the duty on salt was fixed at the excessive rate of twenty francs in
gold--about 1,200 francs of present money--per hogshead of sixty
hundredweight. Certain concessions and compromises were made exceptionally
in favour of Artois, Dauphiné, Poitou, and Saintonge, in consideration of
the voluntary contributions which those provinces had made.

[Illustration: Fig. 283.--Assassination of the Duke of Burgundy, John the
Fearless, on the Bridge of Montereau, in 1419.--Fac-simile of a Miniature
in the "Chronicles" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in
the Library of the Arsenal of Paris.]

Emboldened by the success of their exacting and arbitrary rule, the Dukes
of Anjou, Burgundy, and Berry, under pretext of requiring money for war
expenses, again increased the taxes from the year 1385 to 1388; and the
salt tax was raised to forty golden francs, about 24,000 francs of present
money, per hogshead. The ecclesiastics paid a half décime to the King, and
several décimes to the Pope, but these did not prevent a forced loan being
ordered. Happily, Charles VI. about this period attained his majority, and
assumed his position as king; and his uncle, the Duke of Bourbon, who was
called to the direction of affairs, re-established comparative order in
financial matters; but soon after the King's brother, the Duke of Orleans,
seized the reins of government, and, jointly with his sister-in-law,
Isabel of Bavaria, increased the taxation far beyond that imposed by the
Duke d'Anjou. The Duke of Burgundy, called John the Fearless, in order to
gratify his personal hatred to his cousin, Louis of Orleans, made himself
the instrument of the strong popular feeling by assassinating that prince
as he was returning from an entertainment. The tragical death of the Duke
of Orleans no more alleviated the ills of France than did that of the Duke
of Burgundy sixteen years later--for he in his turn was the victim of a
conspiracy, and was assassinated on the bridge of Montereau in the
presence of the Dauphin (Fig. 283). The marriage of Isabel of France with
the young king Richard of England, the ransom of the Christian prisoners
in the East, the money required by the Emperor of Constantinople to stop
the invasions of the Turks into Europe, the pay of the French army, which
was now permanent, each necessarily required fresh subsidies, and money
had to be raised in some way or other from the French people. Distress was
at its height, and though the people were groaning under oppression, they
continued to pay not only the increased taxes on provisions and
merchandise, and an additional general tax, but to submit to the most
outrageous confiscations and robbery of the public money from the public
treasuries. The State Assemblies held at Auxerre and Paris in 1412 and
1413, denounced the extravagance and maladministration of the treasurers,
the generals, the excisemen, the receivers of royal dues, and of all those
who took part in the direction of the finances; though they nevertheless
voted the taxes, and promulgated most severe regulations with respect to
their collection. To meet emergencies, which were now becoming chronic,
extraordinary taxes were established, the non-payment of which involved
the immediate imprisonment of the defaulter; and the debasement of the
coinage, and the alienation of certain parts of the kingdom, were
authorised in the name of the King, who had been insane for more than
fifteen years. The incessant revolts of the bourgeois, the reappearance of
the English on the soil of France, the ambitious rivalry of Queen Isabel
of Bavaria leagued with the Duke of Burgundy against the Dauphin, who had
been made regent, at last, in 1420, brought about the humiliating treaty
of Troyes, by which Henry V., king of England, was to become king of
France on the death of Charles VI.

This treaty of Troyes became the cause of, and the pretext for, a vast
amount of extortion being practised upon the unfortunate inhabitants of
the conquered country. Henry V., who had already made several exactions
from Normandy before he had obtained by force the throne of France, did
not spare the other provinces, and, whilst proclaiming his good intentions
towards his future subjects, he added a new general impost, in the shape
of a forced loan, to the taxes which already weighed so heavily on the
people. He also issued a new coinage, maintained many of the taxes,
especially those on salt and on liquors, even after he had announced his
intention of abolishing them.

At the same time the Dauphin Charles, surnamed _Roi de Bourges_, because
he had retired with his court and retinue into the centre of the kingdom
(1422), was sadly in want of money. He alienated the State revenues, he
levied excise duties and subsidies in the provinces which remained
faithful to his cause, and he borrowed largely from those members of the
Church and the nobility who manifested a generous pity for the sad destiny
of the King and the monarchy. Many persons, however, instead of
sacrificing themselves for their king and country, made conditions with
him, taking advantage of his position. The heir to the throne was obliged
in many points to give way, either to a noble whose services he bargained
for, or to a town or an abbey whose aid he sought. At times he bought over
influential bodies, such as universities and other corporation, by
granting exemptions from, or privileges in, matters of taxation, &c. So
much was this the case that it may be said that Charles VII. treated by
private contract for the recovery of the inheritances of his fathers. The
towns of Paris and Rouen, as well as the provinces of Brittany, Languedoc,
Normandy, and Guyenne, only returned to their allegiance to the King on
conditions more or less advantageous to themselves. Burgundy, Picardy, and
Flanders--which were removed from the kingdom of Charles VII. at the
treaty of peace of Arras in 1435--cordially adopted the financial system
inaugurated by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good.

[Illustration: Fig. 284.--The House of Jacques Coeur at Bourges, now
converted into the Hôtel de Ville.]

Charles VII. reconquered his kingdom by a good and wise policy as much as
by arms. He, doubtless, had cause to be thankful for the valeur and
devotion of his officers, but he principally owed the success of his cause
to one man, namely, his treasurer, the famous Jacques Coeur, who possessed
the faculty of always supplying money to his master, and at the same time
of enriching himself (Fig. 284). Thus it was that Charles VII., whose
finances had been restored by the genius of Jacques Coeur, was at last
able to re-enter his capital triumphantly, to emancipate Guyenne,
Normandy, and the banks of the Loire from the English yoke, to reattach to
the crown a portion of its former possessions, or to open the way for
their early return, to remove bold usurpers from high places in the State,
and to bring about a real alleviation of those evils which his subjects
had so courageously borne. He suppressed the fraud and extortion carried
on under the name of justice, put a stop to the sale of offices, abolished
a number of rates illegally levied, required that the receivers' accounts
should be sent in biennially, and whilst regulating the taxation, he
devoted its proceeds entirely to the maintenance and pay of the army. From
that time taxation, once feudal and arbitrary, became a fixed royal due,
which was the surest means of preventing the pillage and the excesses of
the soldiery to which the country people had been subjected for many
years. Important triumphs of freedom were thus obtained over the
tyrannical supremacy of the great vassals; but in the midst of all this
improvement we cannot but regret that the assessors, who, from the time of
their creation by St. Louis, had been elected by the towns or the
corporations, now became the nominees of the crown.

[Illustration: Fig. 285.--_Amende honorable_ of Jacques Coeur before
Charles VII.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of the "Chroniques" of Monstrelet,
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the National Library of Paris.]

Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, taxed his subjects but little:
"Therefore," says Philippe de Commines, "they became very wealthy, and
lived in much comfort." But Louis XI did not imitate him. His first care
was to reinstate that great merchant, that clever financier, Jacques
Coeur, to whom, as much as to Joan of Arc, the kingdom owed its freedom,
and whom Charles VII., for the most contemptible reasons, had had the
weakness to allow to be judicially condemned Louis XI. would have been
very glad to entrust the care of his finances to another Jacques Coeur;
for being sadly in want of money, he ran through his father's earnings,
and, to refill his coffers, he increased taxation, imposed a duty on the
importation of wines, and levied a tax on those holding offices, &c. A
revolution broke out in consequence, which was only quenched in the blood
of the insurgents. In this manner he continued, by force of arms, to
increase and strengthen his own regal power at the expense of feudalism.

He soon found himself opposed by the _Ligue du Bien Public_, formed by the
great vassals ostensibly to get rid of the pecuniary burden which
oppressed the people, but really with the secret intention of restoring
feudalism and lessening the King's power. He was not powerful enough
openly to resist this, and appeared to give way by allowing the leagued
nobles immense privileges, and himself consenting to the control of a sort
of council of "thirty-six notables appointed to superintend matters of
finance." Far from acknowledging himself vanquished, however, he
immediately set to work to cause division among his enemies, so as to be
able to overcome them. He accordingly showed favour towards the bourgeois,
whom he had already flattered, by granting new privileges, and abolishing
or reducing certain vexatious taxes of which they complained. The
thirty-six notables appointed to control his financial management reformed
nothing. They were timid and docile under the cunning eye of the King, and
practically assisted him in his designs; for in a very few years the taxes
were increased from 1,800,000 écus--about 45,000,000 francs of present
money--to 3,600,000 écus--about 95,000,000 francs. Towards the end of the
reign they exceeded 4,700,000 écus--130,000,000 francs of present money.
Louis XI. wasted nothing on luxury and pleasure; he lived parsimoniously,
but he maintained 110,000 men under arms, and was ready to make the
greatest sacrifices whenever there was a necessity for augmenting the
territory of the kingdom, or for establishing national unity. At his
death, on the 25th of August, 1483, he left a kingdom considerably
increased in area, but financialty almost ruined.

When Anne de Beaujeu, eldest sister of the King, who was a minor, assumed
the reins of government as regent, an immediate demand was made for
reparation of the evils to which the finance ministers had subjected the
unfortunate people. The treasurer-general Olivier le Dain, and the
attorney-general Jean Doyat, were almost immediately sacrificed to popular
resentment, six thousand Swiss were subsidised, the pensions granted
during the previous reign were cancelled, and a fourth part of the taxes
was removed. Public opinion being thus satisfied, the States-General
assembled. The bourgeois here showed great practical good sense,
especially in matters of finance; they proved clearly that the assessment
was illegal, and that the accounts were fictitious, inasmuch as the latter
only showed 1,650,000 livres of subsidies, whereas they amounted to three
times as much. It was satisfactorily established that the excise, the salt
tax, and the revenues of the public lands amply sufficed for the wants of
the country and the crown. The young King Charles was only allowed
1,200,000 livres for his private purse for two years, and 300,000 livres
for the expenses of the festivities of his coronation. On the Assembly
being dissolved, the Queen Regent found ample means of pleasing the
bourgeois and the people generally by breaking through the engagements she
had entered into in the King's name, by remitting taxation, and finally by
force of arms destroying the power of the last remaining vassals of the

[Illustration: Fig. 286.--The Mint.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
Translation of the Latin Work of Francis Patricius, "De l'Institution et
Administration de la Chose Politique:" folio, 1520.]

[Illustration: Fig. 287.--The receiver of Taxes.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in Damhoudere's "Praxis Rerum Civilium."]

Charles VIII., during a reign of fourteen years, continued to waste the
public money. His disastrous expedition for the conquest of the kingdom of
Naples forced him to borrow at the rate of forty-two per cent. A short
time previous to his death he acknowledged his errors, but continued to
spend money, without consideration or restraint, in all kinds of
extravagances, but especially in buildings. During his reign the annual
expenditure almost invariably doubled the revenue. In 1492 it reached
7,300,000 francs, about 244,000,000 francs of present money. The deficit
was made up each year by a general tax, "which was paid neither by the
nobles nor the Church, but was obtained entirely from the people" (letters
from the ambassadors of Venice).

When the Duke of Orleans ascended the throne as Louis XII., the people
were again treated with some consideration. Having chosen George d'Amboise
as premier and Florimond Robertet as first secretary of the treasury, he
resolutely pursued a course of strict economy; he refused to demand of his
subjects the usual tax for celebrating the joyous accession, the taxes
fell by successive reductions to the sum of 2,600,000 livres, about
76,000,000 francs of present money, the salt tax was entirely abolished,
and the question as to what should be the standard measure of this
important article was legislated upon. The tax-gatherers were forced to
reside in their respective districts, and to submit their registers to the
royal commissioners before beginning to collect the tax. By strict
discipline pillage by soldiers was put a stop to (Fig. 288).

Notwithstanding the resources obtained by the King through mortgaging a
part of the royal domains, and in spite of the excellent administration of
Robertet, who almost always managed to pay the public deficit without any
additional tax, it was necessary in 1513, after several disastrous
expeditions to Italy, to borrow, on the security of the royal domains,
400,000 livres, 10,000,000 francs of present money, and to raise from the
excise and from other dues and taxes the sum of 3,300,000 livres, about
80,000,000 francs of present money. This caused the nation some distress,
but it was only temporary, and was not much felt, for commerce, both
domestic and foreign, much extended at the same time, and the sale of
collectorships, of titles of nobility, of places in parliament, and of
nominations to numerous judicial offices, brought in considerable sums to
the treasury. The higher classes surnamed the king _Le Roitelet_, because
he was sickly and of small stature, parsimonious and economical. The
people called him their "father and master," and he has always been styled
the father of the people ever since.

[Illustration: Fig. 288.--A Village pillaged by Soldiers.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in Hamelmann's "Oldenburgisches Chronicon." in folio, 1599.]

In an administrative and financial point of view, the reign of Francis I.
was not at all a period of revival or of progress. The commencement of a
sounder System of finance is rather to be dated from that of Charles V.;
and good financial organization is associated with the names of Jacques
Coeur, Philip the Good, Charles XI., and Florimond Robertet. As an example
of this, it may be stated that financiers of that time established taxes
on registration of all kinds, also on stamps, and on sales, which did not
before exist in France, and which were borrowed from the Roman emperors.
We must also give them the credit of having first commenced a public debt,
under the name of _rentes perpetuelles_, which at that time realised
eight per cent. During this brilliant and yet disastrous reign the
additional taxes were enormous, and the sale of offices produced such a
large revenue that the post of parliamentary counsel realised the sum of
2,000 golden écus, or nearly a million francs of present currency. It was
necessary to obtain money at any price, and from any one who would lend
it. The ecclesiastics, the nobility, the bourgeois, all gave up their
plate and their jewels to furnish the mint, which continued to coin money
of every description, and, in consequence of the discovery of America, and
the working of the gold and silver mines in that country, the precious
metals poured into the hands of the money-changers. The country, however,
was none the more prosperous, and the people often were in want of even
the commonest necessaries of life. The King and the court swallowed up
everything, and consumed all the resources of the country on their luxury
and their wars. The towns, the monasteries, and the corporations, were
bound to furnish a certain number of troops, either infantry or cavalry.
By the establishment of a lottery and a bank of deposit, by the monopoly
of the mines and by the taxes on imports, exports, and manufactured
articles, enormous sums were realised to the treasury, which, as it was
being continually drained, required to be as continually replenished.
Francis I. exhausted every source of credit by his luxury, his caprices,
and his wars. Jean de Beaune, Baron de Semblançay, the old minister of
finance, died a victim to false accusations of having misappropriated the
public funds. Robertet, who was in office with him, and William Bochetel,
who succeeded him, were more fortunate: they so managed the treasury
business that, without meeting with any legal difficulty, they were
enabled to centralise the responsibility in themselves instead of having
it distributed over sixteen branches in all parts of the kingdom, a system
which has continued to our day. In those days the office of superintendent
of finance was usually only a short and rapid road to the gibbet of

[Illustrations: Gold and Silver Coins of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth

Fig. 289.--Royal d'Or. Charles VII
Fig. 290.--Écu d'Argent à la Couronne. Louis XI.
Fig. 291.--Écu d'Or à la Couronne. Charles VIII.
Fig. 292.--Écu d'Or au Porc-épic. Louis XII.
Fig. 293.--Teston d'Argent. Francis I.
Fig. 294.--Teston d'Argent au Croissant. Henry II.

[Illustration: Fig. 295.--Silver Franc. Henry IV.]

Law and the Administration of Justice.

  The Family the Origin of Government.--Origin of Supreme Power amongst
  the Franks.--The Legislation of Barbarism humanised by
  Christianity.--Right of Justice inherent to the Bight of Property.--The
  Laws under Charlemagne.--Judicial Forms.--Witnesses.--Duels, &c.--
  Organization of Royal Justice under St. Louis.--The Châtelet and the
  Provost of Paris.--Jurisdiction of Parliament, its Duties and its
  Responsibilities.--The Bailiwicks. Struggles between Parliament and the
  Châtelet.--Codification of the Customs and Usages.--Official
  Cupidity.--Comparison between the Parliament and the Châtelet.

Amongst the ancient Celtic and German population, before any Greek or
Roman innovations had become engrafted on to their customs, everything,
even political power as well as the rightful possession of lands, appears
to have been dependent on families. Julius Cæsar, in his "Commentaries,"
tells us that "each year the magistrates and princes assigned portions of
land to families as well as to associations of individuals having a common
object whenever they thought proper, and to any extent they chose, though
in the following year the same authorities compelled them to go and
establish themselves elsewhere." We again find families (_familiæ_) and
associations of men (_cognationes hominum_) spoken of by Cæsar, in the
barbaric laws, and referred to in the histories of the Middle Ages under
the names of _genealogiæ, faramanni, faræ_, &c.; but the extent of the
relationship (_parentela_) included under the general appellation of
_families_ varied amongst the Franks, Lombards, Visigoths, and Bavarians.
Generally, amongst all the people of German origin, the relationship only
extended to the seventh degree; amongst the Celts it was determined merely
by a common ancestry, with endless subdivisions of the tribe into distinct
families. Amongst the Germans, from whom modern Europe has its origin, we
find only three primary groups; namely, first, the family proper,
comprising the father, mother, and children, and the collateral relatives
of all degrees; secondly, the vassals (_ministeriales_) or servants of the
free class; and, thirdly, the servants (_mansionarii, coloni, liti,
servi_) of the servile class attached to the family proper (Fig. 296).

Domestic authority was represented by the _mund_, or head of the family,
also called _rex_ (the king), who exercised a special power over the
persons and goods of his dependents, a guardianship, in fact, with certain
rights and prerogatives, and a sort of civil and political responsibility
attached to it. Thus the head of the family, who was responsible for his
wife and for those of his children who lived with him, was also
responsible for his slaves and domestic animals. To such a pitch did these
primitive people carry their desire that justice should be done in all
cases of infringement of the law, that the head was held legally
responsible for any injury which might be done by the bow or the sword of
any of his dependents, without it being necessary that he should himself
have handled either of these weapons.

Long before the commencement of the Merovingian era, the family, whose
sphere of action had at first been an isolated and individual one, became
incorporated into one great national association, which held official
meetings at stated periods on the _Malberg_ (Parliament hill). These
assemblies alone possessed supreme power in its full signification. The
titles given to certain chiefs of _rex_ (king), _dux_ (duke), _graff_
(count), _brenn_ (general of the army), only defined the subdivisions of
that power, and were applied, the last exclusively, to those engaged in
war, and the others to those possessing judicial and administrative
functions. The duty of dispensing justice was specially assigned to the
counts, who had to ascertain the cause of quarrels between parties and to
inflict penalties. There was a count in each district and in each
important town; there were, besides, several counts attached to the
sovereign, under the title of counts of the palace (_comites palatii_), an
honourable position, which was much sought after and much coveted on
account of its pecuniary and other contingent advantages. The counts of
the palace deliberated with the sovereign on all matters and all questions
of State, and at the same time they were his companions in hunting,
feasting, and religious exercises; they acted as arbitrators in questions
of inheritance of the crown; during the minority of princes they exercised
the same authority as that which the constitution gave to sovereigns who
were of full age; they confirmed the nominations of the principal
functionaries and even those of the bishops; they gave their advice on the
occasion of a proposed alliance between one nation and another, on matters
connected with treaties of peace or of commerce, on military expeditions,
or on exchanges of territory, as well as in reference to the marriage of a
prince, and they incurred no responsibility beyond that naturally attached
to persons in so distinguished a position among a semi-barbarous
community. At first the legates (_legati_), and afterwards the King's
ambassadors (_missi dominici_), the bishops and the dukes or commanders of
the army were usually selected from the higher court officials, such as
the counts of the palace, whereas the _ministeriales_, forming the second
class of the royal officials, filled inferior though very honourable and
lucrative posts of an administrative and magisterial character.

[Illustration: Fig. 296.--The Familles and the Barbarians.--Fac-simile of
a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle,

Under the Merovingians the legal principle of power was closely bound up
with the possession of landed property. The subdivision of that power,
however, closely followed this union, and the constant ruin of some of the
nobles rapidly increased the power of others, who absorbed to themselves
the lost authority of their more unfortunate brethren, so much so that the
Frank kings perceived that society would soon escape their rule unless
they speedily found a remedy for this state of things. It was then that
the _lois Salique_ and _Ripuaire_ appeared, which were subjected to
successive revisions and gradual or sudden modifications, necessitated by
political changes or by the increasing exigencies of the prelates and
nobles. But, far from lessening the supremacy of the King, the national
customs which were collected in a code extended the limits of the royal
authority and facilitated its exercise.

In 596, Childebert, in concert with his _leudes_, decided that in future
the crime of rape should be punished with death, and that the judge of the
district (_pagus_) in which it had been committed should kill the
ravisher, and leave his body on the public road. He also enacted that the
homicide should have the same fate. "It is just," to quote the words of
the law, "that he who knows how to kill should learn how to die." Robbery,
attested by seven witnesses, also involved capital punishment, and a judge
convicted of having let a noble escape, underwent the same punishment that
would have been inflicted on the criminal. The punishment, however,
differed according to the station of the delinquent. Thus, for the
non-observance of Sunday, a Salian paid a fine of fifteen sols, a Roman
seven and a half sols, a slave three sols, or "his back paid the penalty
for him." At this early period some important changes in the barbaric code
had been made: the sentence of death when once given had to be carried
out, and no arrangements between the interested parties could avert it. A
crime could no longer be condoned by the payment of money; robbery even,
which was still leniently regarded at that time, and beyond the Rhine even
honoured, was pitilessly punished by death. We therefore cannot have more
striking testimony than this of the abridgment of the privileges of the
Frankish aristocracy, and of the progress which the sovereign power was
making towards absolute and uncontrolled authority over cases of life and
death. By almost imperceptible steps Roman legislation became more humane
and perfect, Christianity engrafted itself into barbarism, licentiousness
was considered a crime, crime became an offence against the King and
society, and it was in one sense by the King's hand that the criminals
received punishment.

From the time of the baptism of Clovis, the Church had much to do with the
re-arrangement of the penal code; for instance, marriage with a
sister-in-law, a mother-in-law, an aunt, or a niece, was forbidden; the
travelling shows, nocturnal dances, public orgies, formerly permitted at
feasts, were forbidden as being profane. In the time of Clotaire, the
prelates sat as members of the supreme council, which was strictly
speaking the highest court of the land, having the power of reversing the
decisions of the judges of the lower courts. It pronounced sentence in
conjunction with the King, and from these decisions there was no appeal.
The nation had no longer a voice in the election of the magistrates, for
the assemblies of _Malberg_ did not meet except on extraordinary
occasions, and all government and judicial business was removed to the
supreme and often capricious arbitration of the King and his council.

As long as the mayors of the palace of Austrasia, and of that of Burgundy,
were only temporarily appointed, royal authority never wavered, and the
sovereign remained supreme judge over his subjects. Suddenly, however,
after the execution of Brunehaut, who was sacrificed to the hatred of the
feudal lords, the mayoralty of the palace became a life appointment, and,
in consequence, the person holding the office became possessed almost of
supreme power, and the rightful sovereigns from that time practically
became subject to the authority of the future usurpers of the crown. The
edict of 615, to which the ecclesiastical and State nobility were parties,
was in its laws and customs completely at variance with former edicts. In
resuming their places in the French constitution, the Merovingian kings,
who had been deprived both of influence and authority, were compelled by
the Germanic institutions to return to the passive position which their
predecessors had held in the forests of Germany, but they no longer had,
like the latter, the prestige of military authority to enable them to keep
the position of judges or arbitrators. The canons of the Council of Paris,
which were confirmed by an edict of the King bearing date the 15th of the
calends of November, 615, upset the political and legal system so firmly
established in Europe since the fifth century. The royal power was shorn
of some of its most valuable prerogatives, one of which was that of
selecting the bishops; lay judges were forbidden to bring an ecclesiastic
before the tribunals; and the treasury was prohibited from seizing
intestate estates, with a view to increasing the rates and taxes; and it
was decreed that Jews should not be employed in collecting the public
taxes. By these canons the judges and other officers of State were made
responsible, the benefices which had been withdrawn from the _leudes_ were
restored, the King was forbidden from granting written orders (_præcepta_)
for carrying off rich widows, young virgins, and nuns; and the penalty of
death was ordered to be enforced against those who disobeyed the canons of
the council. Thence sprung two new species of legislation, one
ecclesiastical, the other civil, between which royalty, more and more
curtailed of its authority, was compelled for many centuries to struggle.

Amongst the Germanic nations the right of justice was inherent to landed
property from the earliest times, and this right had reference to things
as well as to persons. It was the patronage (_patrocinium_) of the
proprietor, and this patronage eventually gave origin to feudal
jurisdictions and to lordly and customary rights in each domain. We may
infer from this that under the two first dynasties laws were made by
individuals, and that each lord, so to speak, made his own.

The right of jurisdiction seems to have been so inherent to the right of
property, that a landed proprietor could always put an end to feuds and
personal quarrels, could temporarily bring any lawsuit to a close, and, by
issuing his _ban_, stop the course of the law in his own immediate
neighbourhood--at least, within a given circumference of his residence.
This was often done during any family festival, or any civil or religious
public ceremony. On these occasions, whoever infringed the _ban_ of the
master, was liable to be brought before his _court_, and to have to pay a
fine. The lord who was too poor to create a court of sufficient power and
importance obtained assistance from his lord paramount or relinquished the
right of justice to him; whence originated the saying, "The fief is one
thing, and justice another."

The law of the Visigoths speaks of nobles holding local courts, similar to
those of the official judge, count, or bishop. King Dagobert required the
public and the private judges to act together. In the law of Lombardy
landlords are mentioned who, in virtue of the double title of nobles and
judges, assumed the right of protecting fugitive slaves taking shelter in
their domains. By an article of the Salie law, the noble is made to answer
for his vassal before the court of the count. We must hence conclude that
the landlord's judgment was exercised indiscriminately on the serfs, the
colons, and the vassals, and a statute of 855 places under his authority
even the freemen who resided with other persons.

From these various sources we discover a curious fact, which has hitherto
remained unnoticed by historians--namely, that there existed an
intermediate legislation between the official court of the count and his
subordinates and the private courts, which was a kind of court of
arbitration exercised by the neighbours (_vicini_) without the assistance
of the judges of the county, and this was invested with a sort of
authority which rendered its decisions binding.

[Illustration: Fig. 297.--The Emperor Charlemagne holding in one hand the
Globe and in the other the Sword.--After a Miniature in the Registers of
the University of Paris (Archives of the Minister of Public Instruction of
the University). The Motto, _In scelus exurgo, sceleris discrimina purgo,
_ is written on a Scroll round the Sword.]

Private courts, however, were limited in their power. They were neither
absolutely independent, nor supreme and without appeal. All conducted
their business much in the same way as the high, middle, and lower courts
of the Middle Ages; and above all these authorities towered the King's
jurisdiction. The usurpation of ecclesiastical bishops and abbots--who,
having become temporal lords, assumed a domestic jurisdiction--was
curtailed by the authority of the counts, and they were even more obliged
to give way before that of the _missi dominici_, or the official delegates
of the monarch. Charles the Bald, notwithstanding his enormous concessions
to feudalism and to the Church, never gave up his right of final appeal.

During the whole of the Merovingian epoch, the _mahl_ (_mallus_), the
general and regular assembly of the nation, was held in the month of
March. Persons of every class met there clad in armour; political,
commercial, and judicial interests were discussed under the presidency of
the monarch; but this did not prevent other special assemblies of the
King's court (_curia regalis_) being held on urgent occasions. This court
formed a parliament (_parlamentum_), which at first was exclusively
military, but from the time of Clovis was composed of Franks, Burgundians,
Gallo-Romans, as well as of feudal lords and ecclesiastics. As, by
degrees, the feudal System became organized, the convocation of national
assemblies became more necessary, and the administration of justice more
complicated. Charlemagne decided that two _mahls_ should be held annually,
one in the month of May, the other in the autumn, and, in addition, that
in each county two annual _plaids_ should meet independently of any
special _mahls_ and _plaids_ which it should please him to convoke. In
788, the emperor found it necessary to call three general _plaids_, and,
besides these, he was pleased to summon his great vassals, both clerical
and lay, to the four principal feasts of the year. It may be asserted that
the idea of royalty being the central authority in matters of common law
dates from the reign of Charlemagne (Fig. 297).

The authority of royalty based on law took such deep root from that time
forth, that it maintained itself erect, notwithstanding the weakness of
the successors of the great Charles, and the repeated infractions of it by
the Church and the great vassals of the crown (Fig. 298).

[Illustration: Fig. 298.--Carlovingian King in his Palace personifying
Wisdom appealing to the whole Human Race.--After a Miniature in a
Manuscript of the Ninth Century in the Burgundian Library of Brussels,
from a Drawing by Count Horace de Vielcastel.]

The authoritative and responsible action of a tribunal which represented
society (Fig. 299) thus took the place of the unchecked animosity of
private feuds and family quarrels, which were often avenged by the use of
the gibbet, a monument to be found erected at almost every corner. Not
unfrequently, in those early times, the unchecked passions of a chief of a
party would be the only reason for inflicting a penalty; often such a
person would constitute himself sole judge, and, without the advice of any
one, he would pass sentence, and even, with his own sword or any other
available instrument, he would act as his own executioner. The tribunal
thus formed denounced duelling, the pitiless warfare between man and man,
and between family and family, and its first care was to protect, not each
individual man's life, which was impossible in those days of blind
barbarism, but at least his dwelling. Imperceptibly, the sanctuary of a
man's house extended, first to towns of refuge, and then to certain public
places, such as the church, the _mahlum_, or place of national assemblies,
the market, the tavern, &c. It was next required that the accused, whether
guilty or not, should remain unharmed from the time of the crime being
committed until the day on which judgment was passed.

[Illustration: Fig. 299.--The Court of the Nobles.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in an old Poetical Romance of Chivalry, Manuscript of the
Thirteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of Paris.]

This right of revenge, besides being thus circumscribed as to locality,
was also subject to certain rules as to time. Sunday and the principal
feasts of the year, such as Advent, Christmas week, and from that time to
the Epiphany, from the Ascension to the Day of Pentecost, certain vigils,
&c., were all occasions upon which the right of revenge could not be
exercised. "The power of the King," says a clever and learned writer,
"partook to a certain degree of that of God and of the Saints; it was his
province to calm human passions; by the moral power of his seal and his
hand he extended peace over all the great lines of communication, through
the forests, along the principal rivers, the highways and the byways, &c.
The _Trêve du Dieu_ in 1035, was the logical application of these humane

We must not suppose that justice in those days was dispensed without
formalities, and that there were no regular intervals between the various
steps to be gone through before final judgment was given, and in
consequence of which some guarantee was afforded that the decisions
arrived at were carefully considered. No one was tried without having been
previously summoned to appear before the tribunal. Under the
Carlovingians, as in previous times, the periods when judicial courts were
held were regulated by the moon. Preference was given to the day on which
it entered the first quarter, or during the full moon; the summonses were
returnable by moons or quarter moons--that is, every seventh day. The
summons was issued four times, after which, if the accused did not appear,
he lost the right of counterplea, or was nonsuited. The Salic law allowed
but two summonses before a count, which had to be issued at an interval of
forty nights the one from the other. The third, which summoned the accused
before the King, was issued fourteen nights later, and if he had not put
in an appearance before sunset on the fourteenth day, he was placed _hors
de sa parole_, his goods were confiscated, and he forfeited the privilege
of any kind of refuge.

Among the Visigoths justice was equally absolute from the count to the
tithe-gatherer. Each magistrate had his tribunal and his special
jurisdiction. These judges called to their assistance assessors or
colleagues, either _rachimbourgs_, who were selected from freemen; or
provosts, or _échevins_ (_scabini_), whose appointment was of an official
and permanent character. The scabins created by Charlemagne were the first
elected magistrates. They numbered seven for each bench. They alone
prepared the cases and arranged as to the sentence. The count or his
delegate alone presided at the tribunal, and pronounced the judgment.
Every vassal enjoyed the right of appeal to the sovereign, who, with his
court, alone decided the quarrels between ecclesiastics and nobles, and
between private individuals who were specially under the royal protection.
Criminal business was specially referred to the sovereign, the _missi_, or
the Count Palatine. Final appeal lay with the Count Palatine in all cases
in which the public peace was endangered, such as in revolts or in armed

As early as the time of the invasion, the Franks, Bavarians, and
Visigoths, when investigating cases, began by an inquiry, and, previously
to having recourse to trials before a judge, they examined witnesses on
oath. Then, he who swore to the matter was believed, and acquitted
accordingly. This system was no doubt flattering to human veracity, but,
unfortunately, it gave rise to abuses; which it was thought would be
avoided by calling the family and friends of the accused to take an oath,
and it was then administered by requiring them to place their hands on the
crucifix, on some relics, or on the consecrated Host. These witnesses, who
were called _conjuratores_, came to attest before the judges not the fact
itself, but the veracity of the person who invoked their testimony.

[Illustration: Fig. 300.--The Judicial Duel. The Plaintiff opening his
Case before the Judge.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Cérémonies des
Gages des Batailles," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century in the National
Library of Paris.]

The number and respectability of the _conjuratores_ varied according to
the importance of the case in dispute. Gregory of Tours relates, that King
Gontran being suspicious as to the legitimacy of the child who afterwards
became Clotaire II., his mother, Frédégonde, called in the impartial
testimony of certain nobles. These, to the number of three hundred, with
three bishops at their head (_tribus episcopis et trecentis viris
optimis_), swore, or, as we say, made an affidavit, and the queen was
declared innocent.

The laws of the Burgundians and of the Anglians were more severe than
those of the Germanic race, for they granted to the disputants trial by
combat. After having employed the ordeal of red-hot iron, and of scalding
water, the Franks adopted the judicial duel (Fig. 300). This was imposed
first upon the disputing parties, then on the witnesses, and sometimes
even on the judges themselves. Dating from the reign of the Emperor Otho
the Great in 967, the judicial duel, which had been at first restricted to
the most serious cases, was had recourse to in almost all suits that were
brought before the courts. Neither women, old men, children, nor infirm
persons were exempted. When a person could not himself fight he had to
provide a champion, whose sole business was to take in hand the quarrels
of others.

[Illustration: Fig. 301.--Judicial Duel.--Combat of a Knight with a
Dog.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Romance of "Macaire," of the
Thirteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal of Paris).]

Ecclesiastics were obliged, in the same maimer, to fight by deputy. The
champion or substitute required, of course, to be paid beforehand. If the
legend of the Dog of Montargis is to be believed, the judicial duel seems
to have been resorted to even against an animal (Fig. 301).

In the twelfth century Europe was divided, so to speak, into two vast
judicial zones: the one, Southern, Gallo-Roman, and Visigoth; the other,
Northern and Western, half Germanic and half Scandinavian, Anglian, or
Saxon. Christianity established common ties between these different
legislations, and imperceptibly softened their native coarseness, although
they retained the elements of their pagan and barbaric origin. Sentences
were not as yet given in writing: they were entrusted to the memory of the
judges who had issued them; and when a question or dispute arose between
the interested parties as to the terms of the decision which had been
pronounced, an inquiry was held, and the court issued a second decision,
called a _recordatum_.

As long as the King's court was a movable one, the King carried about with
him the original text of the law in rolls (_rotuli_). It was in
consequence of the seizure of a number of these by the English, during the
reign of Philip Augustus in 1194, that the idea was suggested of
preserving the text of all the laws as state archives, and of opening
authentic registers of decisions in civil and criminal cases. As early as
the time of Charles the Bald, the inconvenience was felt of the high court
of the count being movable from place to place, and having no special
locality where instructions might be given as to modes of procedure, for
the hearing of witnesses, and for keeping the accused in custody, &c. A
former statute provided for this probable difficulty, but there seems to
be no proof that previous to the twelfth century any fixed courts of
justice had been established. The Kings, and likewise the counts, held
courts in the open air at the entrance to the palace (Fig. 302), or in
some other public place--under a large tree, for instance, as St. Louis
did in the wood of Vincennes.

M. Desmaze, in his valuable researches on the history of the Parliament of
Paris, says--"In 1191, Philip Augustus, before starting for Palestine,
established bailiwicks, which held their assizes once a month; during
their sitting they heard all those who had complaints to make, and gave
summary judgment. The bailiff's assize was held at stated periods from
time to time, and at a fixed place; it was composed of five judges, the
King deciding the number and quality of the persons who were to take part
in the deliberations of the court for each session. The royal court only
sat when it pleased the King to order it; it accompanied the King wherever
he went, so that it had no settled place of residence."

Louis IX. ordered that the courts of the nobles should be consolidated
with the King's court, and succeeded in carrying out this reform. The
bailiffs who were the direct delegates of the sovereign power, assumed an
authority before which even the feudal lord was obliged to bend, because
this authority was supported by the people, who were at that time
organized in corporations, and these corporations were again bound
together in communes. Under the bailiffs a system was developed, the
principles of which more nearly resembled the Roman legislation than the
right of custom, which it nevertheless respected, and the judicial trial
by duel completely disappeared. Inquiries and appeals were much resorted
to in all kinds of proceedings, and Louis IX. succeeded in controlling the
power of ecclesiastical courts, which had been much abused in reference to
excommunication. He also suppressed the arbitrary and ruinous
confiscations which the nobles had unjustly made on their vassals.

[Illustration: Fig. 302.--The Palace as it was in the Sixteenth
Century.--After an Engraving of that Period, National Library of Paris
(Cabinet des Estampes).]

The edict of 1276 very clearly established the jurisdiction of parliaments
and bailiwicks; it defined the important duties of the bailiffs, and at
the same time specified the mode in which proceedings should be taken; it
also regulated the duties of counsel, _maîtres des requêtes_, auditors,
and advocates.

To the bailiwicks already in existence Louis IX. added the four great
assizes of Vermandois, of Sens, of Saint-Pierre-le-Moustier, and of Mâcon,
"to act as courts of final appeal from the judgment of the nobles."
Philippe le Bel went still further, for, in 1287, he invited "all those
who possess temporal authority in the kingdom of France to appoint, for
the purpose of exercising civil jurisdiction, a bailiff, a provost, and
some serjeants, who were to be laymen, and not ecclesiastics, and if there
should be ecclesiastics in the said offices, to remove them." He ordered,
besides, that all those who had cases pending before the court of the King
and the secular judges of the kingdom should be furnished with lay
attorneys; though the chapters, as well as the abbeys and convents, were
allowed to be represented by canons. M. Desmaze adds, "This really
amounted to excluding ecclesiastics from judicial offices, not only from
the courts of the King, but also from those of the nobles, and from every
place in which any temporal jurisdiction existed."

At the time of his accession, Hugh Capet was Count of Paris, and as such
was invested with judicial powers, which he resigned in 987, on the
understanding that his county of Paris, after the decease of the male
heirs of his brother Eudes, should return to the crown. In 1032, a new
magistrate was created, called the Provost of Paris, whose duty it was to
give assistance to the bourgeois in arresting persons for debt. This
functionary combined in his own person the financial and political chief
of the capital, he was also the head of the nobility of the county, he was
independent of the governor, and was placed above the bailiffs and
seneschals. He was the senior of the urban magistracy and police, leader
of the municipal troops, and, in a word, the prefect (_præfectus urbis_),
as he was called under the Emperor Aurelian, or the first magistrate of
Lutetia, as he was still called under Clotaire in 663. Assessors were
associated with the provost, and together they formed a tribunal, which
was afterwards known as the Châtelet (Fig. 303), because they assembled in
that fortress, the building of which is attributed to Julius Caesar. The
functions of this tribunal did not differ much from those of the royal
_châtellenies:_ its jurisdiction embraced quarrels between individuals,
assaults, revolts, disputes between the universities and the students, and
improper conduct generally (_ribaudailles_), in consequence of which the
provost acquired the popular surname of _Roi des Ribauds_. At first his
judgment was final, but very soon those under his jurisdiction were
allowed to appeal to Parliament, and that court was obliged to have
certain cases sent back for judgment from the Châtelet. This was, however,
done only in a few very important instances, notwithstanding frequent
appeals being made to its supreme arbitration.

[Illustration: Fig. 303.--The Great Châtelet of Paris.--Principal Front
opposite the Pont-au-Change.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on Copper by
Mérian, in the "Topographia Galliae" of Zeller.]

In addition to the courts of the counts and bailiffs established in
certain of the large towns, aldermanic or magisterial courts existed,
which rather resembled the Châtelet of Paris. Thus the _capiloulat_ of
Toulouse, the senior alderman of Metz, and the burgomaster of Strasburg
and Brussels, possessed in each of these towns a tribunal, which judged
without appeal, and united the several functions of a civil, criminal, and
simple police court. Several places in the north of France had provosts
who held courts whose duties were various, but who were principally
charged with the maintenance of public order, and with suppressing
disputes and conflicts arising from the privileges granted to the trade
corporations, whose importance, especially in Flanders, had much increased
since the twelfth century.

"On his return from abroad, Louis IX. took his seat upon the bench, and
administered justice, by the side of the good provost of Paris." This
provost was no other than the learned Estienne Boileau, out of respect to
whom the provostship was declared a _charge de magistrature_. The increase
of business which fell to the provost's office, especially after the
boundaries of Paris were extended by Philip Augustus, caused him to be
released from the duty of collecting the public taxes. He was authorised
to furnish himself with competent assistants, who were employed with
matters of minor detail, and he was allowed the assistance of _juges
auditeurs_. "We order that they shall be eight in number," says an edict
of Philippe le Bel, of February, 1324, "four of them being ecclesiastics
and four laymen, and that they shall assemble at the Châtelet two days in
the week, to take into consideration the suits and causes in concert with
our provost...." In 1343, the provost's court was composed of one King's
attorney, one civil commissioner, two King's counsel, eight councillors,
and one criminal commissioner, whose sittings took place daily at the

From the year 1340 this tribunal had to adjudicate in reference to all the
affairs of the university, and from the 6th of October, 1380, to all those
of the salt-fish market, which were no less numerous, so that its
importance increased considerably. Unfortunately, numerous abuses were
introduced into this municipal jurisdiction. In 1313 and 1320, the
officers of the Châtelet were suspended, on account of the extortions
which they were guilty of, and the King ordered an inquiry to be made into
the matter. The provost and two councillors of the Parliament sat upon it,
and Philip de Valois, adopting its decisions, prescribed fresh statutes,
which were naturally framed in such a way as to show the distrust in which
the Châtelet was then held. To these the officers of the Châtelet promised
on oath to submit. The ignorance and immorality of the lay officers, who
had been substituted for the clerical, caused much disturbance. Parliament
authorised two of its principal members to examine the officers of the
Châtelet. Twenty years later, on the receipt of fresh complaints,
Parliament decided that three qualified councillors, chosen from its own
body, should proceed with the King's attorney to the Châtelet, so as to
reform the abuses and informalities of that court.

[Illustration: Fig. 304.--The King's Court, or Grand Council.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in the "Chroniques" of Froissart, Manuscript of the
Fifteenth Century (formerly in the possession of Charles V), in the
Library of the Arsenal, Paris.]

In the time of Philippe le Bel there existed in reality but one
Parliament, and that was the _King's Court_. Its action was at once
political, administrative, financial, and judicial, and was necessarily,
therefore, of a most complicated character. Philippe le Bel made it
exclusively a judicial court, defined the territorial limit of its power,
and gave it as a judicial body privileges tending to strengthen its
independence and to raise its dignity. He assigned political functions to
the Great Council (_Conseil d'Etat_); financial matters to the chamber of
accounts; and the hearing of cases of heresy, wills, legacies, and dowries
to the prelates. But in opposition to the wise edict of 1295, he
determined that Jews should be excluded from Parliament, and prelates from
the palace of justice; by which latter proceeding he was depriving justice
of the abilities of the most worthy representatives of the Gallican
Church. But Philippe le Bel and his successors, while incessantly
quarrelling either with the aristocracy or with the clergy, wanted the
great judicial bodies which issued the edicts, and the urban or municipal
magistrates--which, being subject to re-election, were principally
recruited from among the bourgeois--to be a common centre of opposition to
any attempt at usurpation of power, whether on the part of the Church, the
nobility, or the crown.

The Great Days of Troyes (_dies magni Trecenses_), the assizes of the
ancient counts of Champagne, and the exchequer of Normandy, were also
organized by Philipe le Bel; and, further, he authorised the maintenance
of a Parliament at Toulouse, a court which he solemnly opened in person on
the 10th of January, 1302. In times of war the Parliament of Paris sat
once a year, in times of peace twice. There were, according to
circumstances, during the year two, three, or four sittings of the
exchequer of Normandy, and two of the Great Days of Troyes, tribunals
which were annexed to the Parliament of Paris, and generally presided over
by one of its delegates, and sometimes even by the supreme head of that
high court. At the King's council (Fig. 304) it was decided whether a case
should be reserved for the Parliament of Paris, or passed on either to the
exchequer or to the Great Days of Troyes.

As that advanced reformer, Philippe le Bel, died before the institutions
he had established had taken root, for many years, even down to the time
of Louis XI., a continual conflict for supremacy was waged between the
Parliament of Paris and the various courts of the kingdom--between the
counts and the Parliament, and between the latter and the King, which,
without lessening the dignity of the crown, gradually tended to increase
the influence which the judges possessed. Immediately on the accession of
Louis le Hutin, in 1314, a reaction commenced--the higher clergy
re-entered Parliament; but Philippe le Long took care that the laity
should be in a majority, and did not allow that in his council of State
the titled councillors should be more numerous than the lawyers. The
latter succeeded in completely carrying the day on account of the services
they rendered, and the influence which their knowledge of the laws of the
country gave them. As for centuries the sword had ruled the gown, so,
since the emancipation of the bourgeois, the lawyers had become masters of
the administrative and judicial world; and, notwithstanding the fact that
they were still kept in a somewhat inferior position to the peers and
barons, their opinion alone predominated, and their decision frequently at
once settled the most important questions.

An edict issued at Val Notre-Dame on the 11th of March, 1344, increased
the number of members of Parliament, which from that time consisted of
three presidents, fifteen clerical councillors, fifteen lay councillors,
twenty-four clergymen and sixteen laymen of the Court of Inquiry, and five
clergymen and sixteen laymen of the Court of Petitions. The King filled up
the vacant seats on the recommendation of the Chancellor and of the
Parliament. The reporters were enjoined to write the decisions and
sentences which were given by the court "in large letters, and far apart,
so that they might be more easily read." The duties of police in the
courts, the keeping of the doors, and the internal arrangements generally
for those attending the courts and the Parliament, were entrusted to the
ushers, "who divided among themselves the gratuities which were given them
by virtue of their office." Before an advocate was admitted to plead he
was required to take oath and to be inscribed on the register.

The Parliament as then established was somewhat similar in its character
to that of the old national representative government under the Germans
and Franks. For centuries it protected the King against the undue
interference of the spiritual power, it defended the people against
despotism, but it often lacked independence and political wisdom, and it
was not always remarkable for its correct appreciation of men and things.
This tribunal, although supreme over all public affairs, sometimes wavered
before the threats of a minister or of a court favourite, succumbed to the
influence of intrigues, and adapted itself to the prejudices of the times.
We see it, in moments of error and of blindness, both condemning eminent
statesmen and leading citizens, such as Jacques Coeur and Robertet, and
handing over to the executioner distinguished men of learning and science
in advance of the times in which they lived, because they were falsely
accused of witchcraft, and also doing the same towards unfortunate
maniacs who fancied they had dealings with the devil.

[Illustration: Fig. 305.--Trial of the Constable de Bourbon before the
Peers of France (1523).--From an Engraving in "La Monarchie Françoise" of

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries all the members of Parliament
formed part of the council of State, which was divided into the Smaller
Council and the Greater Council. The Greater Council only assembled in
cases of urgency and for extraordinary and very important purposes, the
Smaller Council assembled every month, and its decisions were registered.
From this arose the custom of making a similar registration in Parliament,
confirming the decisions after they had been formally arrived at. The most
ancient edict placed on the register of the Parliament of Paris dates from
the year 1334, and is of a very important character. It concerns a
question of royal authority, and decides that in spiritual matters the
right of supremacy does not belong more to the Pope than to the King.
Consequently Philippe de Valois ordered "his friends and vassals who shall
attend the next Parliament and the keepers of the accounts, that for the
perpetual record of so memorable a decision, it shall be registered in the
Chambers of Parliament and kept for reference in the Treasury of the
Charters." From that time "cases of complaint and other matters relating
to benefices have no longer been discussed before the ecclesiastical
judges, but before Parliament or some other secular court."

During the captivity of King John in England, royal authority having
considerably declined, the powers of Parliament and other bodies of the
magistracy so increased, that under Charles VI. the Parliament of Paris
was bold enough to assert that a royal edict should not become law until
it had been registered in Parliament. This bold and certainly novel
proceeding the kings nevertheless did not altogether oppose, as they
foresaw that the time would come when it might afford them the means of
repudiating a treaty extorted from them under difficult circumstances
(Fig. 306).

The close connection which existed between the various Parliaments and
their political functions--for they had occasion incessantly to interfere
between the acts of the government and the respective pretensions of the
provinces or of the three orders--naturally increased the importance of
this supreme magistracy. More than once the kings had cause to repent
having rendered it so powerful, and this was the case especially with the
Parliament of Paris. In this difficulty it is interesting to note how the
kings acted. They imperceptibly curtailed the various powers of the other
courts of justice, they circumscribed the power of the Parliament of
Paris, and proportionately enlarged the jurisdiction of the great
bailiwicks, as also that of the Châtelet. The provost of Paris was an
auxiliary as well as a support to the royal power, which nevertheless held
him in its grasp. The Châtelet was also a centre of action and of
strength, which counteracted in certain cases parliamentary opposition.
Thence arose the most implacable rivalries and dissensions between these
various parties.

[Illustration: Fig. 306.--Promulgation of an Edict.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in "Anciennetés des Juifs," (French Translation from Josephus),
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, executed for the Duke of Burgundy
(Library of the Arsenal of Paris.)]

It is curious to notice with what ingenuity and how readily Parliament
took advantage of the most trifling circumstances or of charges based upon
the very slightest grounds to summon the officers of the Châtelet before
its bar on suspicion of prevarication or of outrages against religion,
morals, or the laws. Often were these officers and the provost himself
summoned to appear and make _amende honourable_ before the assembly,
notwithstanding which they retained their offices. More than once an
officer of the Châtelet was condemned to death and executed, but the King
always annulled that part of the sentence which had reference to the
confiscation of the goods of the condemned, thus proving that in reality
the condemnation had been unjust, although for grave reasons the royal
authority had been unable to save the victim from the avenging power of
Parliament. Hugues Aubriot, the provost, was thus condemned to
imprisonment for life on the most trivial grounds, and he would have
undergone capital punishment if Charles V. had abandoned him at the time
of his trial. During the English occupation, in the disastrous reign of
Charles VI., the Châtelet of Paris, which took part with the people, gave
proof of extraordinary energy and of great force of character. The blood
of many of its members was shed on the scaffold, and this circumstance
must ever remain a reproach to the judges and to those who executed their
cruel sentences, and a lasting crown of glory to the martyrs themselves.

An edict of King John, issued after his return from London in 1363, a
short time before his death, clearly defined the duties of Parliament.
They were to try cases which concerned peers of France, and such prelates,
chapters, barons, corporations, and councils as had the privilege of
appealing to the supreme court; and to hear cases relating to estates, and
appeals from the provost of Paris, the bailiffs, seneschals, and other
judges (Fig. 307). It disregarded minor matters, but took cognizance of
all judicial debates which concerned religion, the King, or the State. We
must remark here that advocates were only allowed to speak twice in the
same cause, and that they were subjected to fine, or at least to
remonstrance, if they were tedious or indulged in needless repetition in
their replies, and especially if they did not keep carefully to the facts
of the case. After pleading they were permitted to give a summary in
writing of "the principal points of importance as well as their clients'
grounds of defence." Charles V. confirmed these orders and regulations
with respect to advocates, and added others which were no less important,
among which we find a provision for giving "legal assistance to poor and
destitute persons who go to law." These regulations of Charles also
limited the time in which officers of justice were to get through their
business under a certain penalty; they also proclaimed that the King
should no longer hear minor causes, and that, whatever might be the rules
of the court, they forbad the presidents from deferring their judgment or
from retarding the regular course of justice. Charles VI., before he
became insane, contributed no less than his father to the establishment on
a better footing of the supreme court of the kingdom, as well as that of
the Châtelet and the bailiwicks.

[Illustration: Fig. 307.--Bailiwick.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

In the fifteenth century, the Parliament of Paris was so organized as not
to require material change till 1789. There were noble, clerical, and lay
councillors, honorary members, and _maîtres de requête_, only four of whom
sat; a first president, who was supreme head of the Parliament, a master
of the great chamber of pleas, and three presidents of the chamber, all of
whom were nominated for life. There were fifteen masters (_maistres_) or
clerical councillors, and fifteen who were laymen, and these were annually
approved by the King on the opening of the session. An attorney-general,
several advocates-general, and deputies, who formed a committee or
college, constituted the active part of this court, round which were
grouped consulting advocates (_consiliarii_), pleading advocates
(_proponentes_), advocates who were mere listeners (_audientes_), ushers
and serjeants, whose chief, on his appointment, became a member of the

The official costume of the first president resembled that of the ancient
barons and knights. He wore a scarlet gown lined with ermine, and a black
silk cap ornamented with tassels. In winter he wore a scarlet mantle lined
with ermine over his gown, on which his crest was worked on a shield. This
mantle was fastened to the left shoulder by three gold cords, in order to
leave the sword-side free, because the ancient knights and barons always
sat in court wearing their swords. Amongst the archives of the mayoralty
of London, we find in the "account of the entry of Henry V., King of
England, into Paris" (on the 1st of December, 1420), that "the first
president was in royal dress (_estoit en habit roial_), the first usher
preceding him, and wearing a fur cap; the church dignitaries wore blue
robes and hoods, and all the others in the procession scarlet robes and
hoods." This imposing dress, in perfect harmony with the dignity of the
office of those who wore them, degenerated towards the fifteenth century.
So much was this the case, that an order of Francis I. forbad the judges
from wearing pink "slashed hose" or other "rakish garments."

In the early times of monarchy, the judicial functions were performed
gratuitously; but it was the custom to give presents to the judges,
consisting of sweetmeats, spices, sugar-plums, and preserves, until at a
subsequent period, 1498, when, as the judges "preferred money to
sweetmeats," says the Chancellor Etienne Pasquier, the money value of the
spices, &c., was fixed by law and made compulsory. In the bills of
expenses preserved among the national archives, we find that the first
president of the Parliament of Paris received a thousand _livres parisis_
annually, representing upwards of one hundred thousand francs at the
present rate of money; the three presidents of the chamber five hundred
livres, equal to fifty thousand francs; and the other nobles of the said
Parliament five _sols parisis_, or six sols three deniers--about
twenty-five francs--per day for the days only on which they sat. They
received, besides, two mantles annually. The prelates, princes, and barons
who were chosen by the King received no salaries--_ils ne prennent nuls
guaiges_ (law of 27th January, 1367). The seneschals and high bailiffs,
like the presidents of the chambers, received five hundred livres--fifty
thousand francs. They and the bailiffs of inferior rank were expressly
forbidden from receiving money or fees from the parties in any suit, but
they were allowed to accept on one day refreshment and bottles of wine.
The salaries were paid monthly; but this was not always done regularly;
sometimes the King was to blame for this, and sometimes it was owing to
the ill-nature of the chiefs of finance, or of the receivers and payers.
When the blame rested with the King, the Parliament humbly remonstrated or
closed the court. When, on the contrary, an officer of finance did not pay
the salaries, Parliament sent him the bailiff's usher, and put him under
certain penalties until he had done so. The question of salaries was
frequently arising. On the 9th of February, 1369, "the court having been
requested to serve without any remuneration for one Parliament, on the
understanding that the King would make up for it another time, the nobles
of the court replied, after private deliberation, that they were ready to
do the King's pleasure, but could not do so properly without receiving
their salaries" (Register of the Parliament of Paris).

At the commencement of the fifteenth century, the scale of remuneration
was not increased. In 1411 it was raised for the whole Parliament to
twenty-five thousand livres, which, calculated according to the present
rate, amounted to nearly a million francs. In consequence of financial
difficulties and the general distress, the unpleasant question in
reference to claims for payment of salaries was renewed, with threats that
the course of justice would be interrupted if they were not paid or not
promised. On the 2nd of October, 1419, two councillors and one usher were
sent to the house of one of the chiefs of finance, with orders to demand
payment of the salaries of the court. In October, 1430, the government
owed the magistrates two years of arrears. After useless appeals to the
Regent, and to the Bishop of Thérouanne, the then Chancellor of France,
the Parliament sent two of its members to the King at Rouen, who obtained,
after much difficulty, "one month's pay, on the understanding that the
Parliament should hold its sittings in the month of April." In the month
of July, 1431, there was another deputation to the King, "in order to lay
before him the necessities of the court, and that it had for some time
been prorogued, and was still prorogued, on account of the non-payment of
salaries." After two months of repeated remonstrance, the deputies only
bringing back promises, the court assumed a menacing aspect; and on the
11th of January, 1437, it pointed out to the chancellor the evil which
would arise if Parliament ceased to hold its sittings; and this time the
chancellor announced that the salaries would be paid, though six months
passed without any resuit or any practical step being taken in the matter.
This state of affairs grew worse until the year 1443, when the King was
obliged to plead with the Parliament in the character of an insolvent
debtor, and, in order to obtain remission of part of his debt to the
members, to guarantee to them a part of the salt duties.

Charles VII, after having reconquered his states, hastened to restore
order. He first occupied himself with the System of justice, the
Parliament, the Châtelet, and the bailiwicks; and in April, 1453, in
concert with the princes, the prelates, the council of State, the judges,
and others in authority, he framed a general law, in one hundred and
twenty-five articles, which was considered as the great charter of
Parliament (Fig. 308). According to the terms of these articles, "the
councillors are to sit after dinner, to get through the minor causes.
Prisoners are to be examined without delay, and to hold no communication
with any one, unless by special permission. The cases are to be carefully
gone through in their proper order; for courts are instructed to do
justice as promptly for the poor as for the rich, as it is a greater
hardship for the poor to be kept waiting than the rich." The fees of
attorneys were taxed and reduced in amount. Those of advocates were
reduced "to such moderation and fairness, that there should be no cause
for complaint." The judgments by commissary were forbidden. The bailiffs
and seneschals were directed to reside within their districts. The
councillors were ordered to abstain from all communication with the
parties in private, and consultations between themselves were to be held
in secret. The judgments given in lawsuits were inscribed in a register,
and submitted every two months to the presidents, who, if necessary,
called the reporters to account for any neglect of duty. The reporter was
ordered to draw attention to any point of difficulty arising in a suit,
and the execution of sentences or judgments was entrusted to the ushers of
the court.

In 1454 the King, in consequence of a difficulty in paying the regular
instalments of the usual salaries of the Parliament, created "after-dinner
fees" (_des gages d'après dînées_) of five sols parisis--more than ten
francs of our money--per day, payable to those councillors who should hold
a second hearing. Matters did not improve much, however; nothing seemed to
proceed satisfactorily, and members of Parliament, deprived of their
salaries, were compelled to contract a loan, in order to commence
proceedings against the treasury for the non-payment of the amount due to
them. In 1493, the annual salaries of Parliament were raised to the sum of
40,630 livres, equal to about 1,100,000 francs.

[Illustration: Fig. 308.--Supreme Court, presided over by the King, who is
in the act of issuing a Decree which is being registered by the
Usher.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in Camareu of the "Information des
Rois," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal
of Paris.]

The first president received 4 livres, 22 solis parisis--about 140
francs--per day; a clerical councillor 25 sols parisis--about 40
francs--and a lay councillor 20 sols--about 32 francs. This was an
increase of a fifth on the preceding year. Charles VIII., in thus
improving the remuneration of the members of the first court of the
kingdom, reminded them of their duties, which had been too long neglected;
he told them "that of all the cardinal virtues justice was the most noble
and most important;" and he pointed out to them the line of conduct they
were to pursue. The councillors were to be present daily in their
respective chambers, from St. Martin's day to Easter, before seven o'clock
in the morning; and from Easter to the closing of Parliament, immediately
after six o'clock, without intermission, under penalty of punishment.
Strict silence was enforced upon them during the debates; and they were
forbidden to occupy themselves with anything which did not concern the
case under discussion. Amidst a mass of other points upon which directions
are given, we notice the following: the necessity of keeping secret the
matters in course of deliberation; the prohibition to councillors from
receiving, either directly or indirectly, anything in the shape of a
douceur from the parties in any suit; and the forbidding all attorneys
from receiving any bribe or claiming more than the actual expenses of a
journey and other just charges.

The great charter of the Parliament, promulgated in April, 1453, was thus
amended, confirmed, and completed, by this code of Charles VIII., with a
wisdom which cannot be too highly extolled.

The magistrature of the supreme courts had been less favoured during the
preceding reign. Louis XI., that cautious and crafty reformer, after
having forbidden ecclesiastical judges to examine cases referring to the
revenues of vacant benefices, remodelled the secular courts, but he
ruthlessly destroyed anything which offended him personally. For this
reason, as he himself said, he limited the power of the Parliaments of
Paris and Toulouse, by establishing, to their prejudice, several other
courts of justice, and by favouring the Châtelet, where he was sure always
to find those who would act with him against the aristocracy. The
Parliament would not give way willingly, nor without the most determined
opposition. It was obliged, however, at last to succumb, and to pass
certain edicts which were most repugnant to it. On the death of Louis XI.,
however, it took its revenge, and called those who had been his favourites
and principal agents to answer a criminal charge, for no other reason than
that they had exposed themselves to the resentment of the supreme court.

The Châtelet, in its judicial functions, was inferior to the Parliament,
nevertheless it acquired, through its provost, who represented the
bourgeois of Paris, considerable importance in the eyes of the supreme
court. In fact, for two centuries the provost held the privilege of ruling
the capital, both politically and financially, of commanding the citizen
militia, and of being chief magistrate of the city. In the court of
audiences, a canopy was erected, under which he sat, a distinction which
no other magistrate enjoyed, and which appears to have been exclusively
granted to him because he sat in the place of _Monsieur Saint Loys_ (Saint
Louis), _dispensing justice to the good people of the City of Paris_. When
the provost was installed, he was solemnly escorted, wearing his cap, to
the great chamber of Parliament, accompanied by four councillors.

[Illustration: Fig. 309.--The Court of a Baron.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

After the ceremony of installation he gave his horse to the president, who
had come to receive him. His dress consisted of a short robe, with mantle,
collar turned down, sword, and hat with feathers; he also carried a staff
of office, profusely ornamented with silver. Thus attired he attended
Parliament, and assisted at the levees of the sovereign, where he took up
his position on the lowest step of the throne, below the great
Chamberlain. Every day, excepting at the vintage time, he was required to
be present at the Châtelet, either personally or by deputy, punctually at
nine in the morning. There he received the list of the prisoners who had
been arrested the day before; after that he visited the prisons, settled
business of various kinds, and then inspected the town. His jurisdiction
extended to several courts, which were presided over by eight deputies or
judges appointed by him, and who were created officers of the Châtelet by
Louis XII. in 1498. Subsequently, these received their appointments direct
from the King. Two auditing judges, one king's attorney, one registrar,
and some bailiffs, completed the provost's staff.

[Illustration: Fig. 310.--Sergeants-at-Arms of the Fourteenth Century,
carved in Stone.--From the Church of St. Catherine du Val des Ecoliers, in

The bailiffs at the Châtelet were divided into five classes: the _king's
sergeant-at-arms,_ the _sergeants de la douzaine_, the _sergeants of the
mace_, or _foot sergeants,_ the _sergeants fieffés_, and the _mounted
sergeants_. The establishment of these officers dated from the beginning
of the fourteenth century, and they were originally appointed by the
provost, but afterwards by the King himself. The King's sergeants-at-arms
(Fig. 310) formed his body-guard; they were not under the jurisdiction of
the high constable, but of the ordinary judges, which proves that they
were in civil employ. The sergeants _de la douzaine_ were twelve in
number, as their name implies, all of whom were in the service of the
provost; the foot sergeants, who were civilians, were gradually increased
to the number of two hundred and twenty as early as the middle of the
fifteenth century. They acted only in the interior of the capital, and
guarded the city, the suburbs, and the surrounding districts, whereas the
mounted sergeants had "to watch over the safety of the rural parishes, and
to act throughout the whole extent of the provost's jurisdiction, and of
that of the viscount of Paris."

In the midst of the changes of the Middle Ages, especially after the
communes became free, all those kings who felt the importance of a strict
system of justice, particularly St. Louis, Philippe le Bel, and Charles
VIII., had seen the necessity of compiling a record of local customs. An
edict of 1453 orders that "the custom shall be registered in writing, so
as to be examined by the members of the great council of the Parliament."
Nevertheless, this important work was never properly carried out, and to
Louis XII. is due the honour of introducing a customary or usage law, and
at the same time of correcting the various modes of procedure, upon which
customs and usages had been based, and which had become singularly
antiquated since the edict of 1302.

No monarch showed more favour to Parliament than Louis XII. During his
reign of seventeen years we never find complaints from the magistracy for
not having been paid punctually. But in contrast with this, on the
accession of Francis I., the court complained of not having been paid its
first quarter's salary. From that moment claims were perpetually being
made; there were continually delays, or absolute refusals; the members
were expecting "remuneration for their services, in order absolutely to
enable them to support their families and households." We can thus judge
of the state of the various minor courts, which, being less powerful than
the supreme tribunals, and especially than that of Paris, were quite
unable to get their murmurings even listened to by the proper authorities.
This sad state of things continued, and, in fact, grew worse, until the
assembly of the League, when Mayenne, the chief of the leaguers, in order
to gratify the Parliament, promised to double the salaries, although he
was unable to fulfil his promise.

[Illustration: Fig. 311.--Inferior Court in the Great Bailiwick. Adoption
of Orphan Children.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in J. Damhoudère's "Refuge et
Garand des Pupilles, Orphelins:" Antwerp, J. Bellère, 1557.]

Towards the end of the sixteenth century the highest French tribunal was
represented by nine superior courts--namely, the Parliament of Bordeaux,
created on the 9th of June, 1642; the Parliament of Brittany, which
replaced the ancient _Grands-Jours,_ in March, 1553, and sat alternately
at Nantes and at Rennes; the Parliament of the Dauphiné, established at
Grenoble in 1451 to replace the Delphinal Council; the Parliament of
Burgundy, established at Dijon in 1477, which took the place of the
_Grands-Jours_ at Beaune; the movable Parliament of Dombes, created in
1528, and consisting at the same time of a court of excise and a chamber
of accounts; the Parliament of Normandy, established by Louis XII. in
April, 1504, intended to replace the Exchequer of Rouen, and the ancient
ducal council of the province; the Parliament of Provence, founded at Aix
in July, 1501; the Parliament of Toulouse, created in 1301; and the
Parliament of Paris, which took precedence of all the others, both on
account of its origin, its antiquity, the extent of its jurisdiction, the
number of its prerogatives, and the importance of its decrees. In 1551,
Henry II. created, besides these, an inferior court in each bailiwick, the
duties of which were to hear, on appeal, all matters in which sums of less
than two hundred livres were involved (Fig. 311). There existed, besides,
a branch of the _Grands-Jours,_ occasionally sitting at Poitiers, Bayeux,
and at some other central towns, in order to suppress the excesses which
at times arose from religious dissensions and political controversy.

The Parliament of Paris--or _Great French Parliament_, as it was called by
Philip V. and Charles V., in edicts of the 17th of November, 1318, and of
the 8th of October, 1371--was divided into four principal chambers: the
Grand Chamber, the Chamber of Inquiry, the Criminal Chamber, and the
Chamber of Appeal. It was composed of ordinary councillors, both clerical
and lay; of honorary councillors, some of whom were ecclesiastics, and
others members of the nobility; of masters of inquiry; and of a
considerable number of officers of all ranks (Figs. 312 to 314). It had at
times as many as twenty-four presidents, one hundred and eighty-two
councillors, four knights of honour, four masters of records; a public
prosecutor's office was also attached, consisting of the king's counsel,
an attorney-general and deputies, thus forming an assembly of from fifteen
to twenty persons, called a _college_. Amongst the inferior officers we
may mention twenty-six ushers, four receivers-general of trust money,
three commissioners for the receipt of goods which had been seized under
distress, one treasurer and paymaster, three controllers, one physician,
two surgeons, two apothecaries, one matron, one receiver of fines, one
inspector of estates, several keepers of refreshment establishments, who
resided within the precincts of the palace, sixty or eighty notaries, four
or five hundred advocates, two hundred attorneys, besides registers and
deputy registers. Down to the reign of Charles VI. (1380--1422) members of
Parliament held their appointment by commissions granted by the King, and
renewed eaeh session. From Charles VI. to Francis I. these appointments
became royal charges; but from that time, owing to the office being so
often prostituted for reward, it got more and more into disrepute.

[Illustration: Fig. 312.--Judge.--From a Drawing in "Proverbes, Adages,
&c.," Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Imperial Library of

Louis XI. made the office of member of the Parliament of Paris a
permanent one, and Francis I. continued this privilege. In 1580 the
supreme magistracy poured 140,000,000 francs, which now would be worth
fifteen or twenty times as much, into the State treasury, so as to enable
members to sit permanently _sur les fleurs de lis_, and to obtain
hereditary privileges. The hereditary transmission of office from father
to son dealt a heavy blow at the popularity of the parliamentary body,
which had already deeply suffered through shameful abuses, the enormity of
the fees, the ignorance of some of the members, and the dissolute habits
of many others.

[Illustration: Fig. 313.--Lawyer.--From the "Danse des Morts" of Basle,
engraved by Mérian: in 4to, Frankfort, 1596.]

[Illustration: Fig. 314.--Barrister.--From a Woodout in the "Danse
Macabre:" Guyot's edition, 1490.]

[Illustration: Fig. 315.--Assembly of the Provostship of the Merchants of
Paris.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in "Ordonnances Royaux de la Jurisdiction
de la Prevoté des Marchands et Eschevinage de la Ville de Paris:" in small
folio, goth. edition of Paris, Jacques Nyverd, 1528.]

The Châtelet, on the contrary, was less involved in intrigue, less
occupied with politics, and was daily engaged in adjudicating in cases of
litigation, and thus it rendered innumerable services in promoting the
public welfare, and maintained, and even increased, the respect which it
had enjoyed from the commencement of its existence. In 1498, Louis XII.
required that the provost should possess the title of doctor _in utroque
jure_, and that his officers, whom he made to hold their appointments for
life, should be chosen from amongst the most distinguished counsellors at
law. This excellent arrangement bore its fruits. As early as 1510, the
"Usages of the City, Provosty, and Viscounty of Paris," were published _in
extenso_, and were then received with much ceremony at a solemn audience
held on the 8th of March in the episcopal palace, and were deposited among
the archives of the Châtelet (Fig. 315).

The Parliament held a very different line of policy from that adopted by
the Châtelet, which only took a political part in the religious troubles
of Protestantism and the League with a view to serve and defend the cause
of the people. In spite of its fits of personal animosity, and its
rebellious freaks, Parliament remained almost invariably attached to the
side of the King and the court. It always leaned to the absolute
maintenance of things as they were, instead of following progress and
changes which time necessitated. It was for severe measures, for
intimidation more than for gentleness and toleration, and it yielded
sooner or later to the injunctions and admonitions of the King, although,
at the same time, it often disapproved the acts which it was asked to

[Illustration: Fig. 316.--Seal of King Chilpéric, found in his Tomb at
Tournay in 1654.]

Secret Tribunals.

  The Old Man of the Mountain and his Followers in Syria.--The Castle of
  Alamond, Paradise of Assassins.--Charlemagne the Founder of Secret
  Tribunals amongst the Saxons.--The Holy Vehme.--Organization of the
  Tribunal of the _Terre Rouge_, and Modes adopted in its
  Procedures.--Condemnations and Execution of Sentences.--The Truth
  respecting the Free Judges of Westphalia.--Duration and Fall of the
  Vehmic Tribunal.--Council of Ten in Venice; its Code and Secret
  Decisions.--End of the Council of Ten.

During the Middle Ages, human life was generally held in small respect;
various judicial institutions--if not altogether secret, at least more or
less enveloped in mystery--were remarkable for being founded on the
monstrous right of issuing the most severe sentences with closed doors,
and of executing these sentences with inflexible rigour on individuals who
had not been allowed the slightest chance of defending themselves.

While passing judgment in secret, they often openly dealt blows as
unexpected and terrible as they were fatal. Therefore, the most innocent
and the most daring trembled at the very name of the _Free Judges of the
Terre-Rouge,_ an institution which adopted Westphalia as the special, or
rather as the central, region of its authority; the _Council of Ten_
exercised their power in Venice and the states of the republic; and the
_Assassins_ of Syria, in the time of St. Louis, made more than one
invasion into Christian Europe. We must nevertheless acknowledge that,
terrible as these mysterious institutions were, the general credulity, the
gross ignorance of the masses, and the love of the marvellous, helped not
a little to render them even more outrageous and alarming than they really

Marco Polo, the celebrated Venetian traveller of the thirteenth century,
says, "We will speak of the Old Man of the Mountain. This prince was named
Alaodin. He had a lovely garden full of all manner of trees and fruits, in
a beautiful valley, surrounded by high hills; and all round these
plantations were various palaces and pavilions, decorated with works of
art in gold, with paintings, and with furniture of silk. Therein were to
be seen rivulets of wine, as well as milk, honey, and gentle streams of
limpid water. He had placed therein damsels of transcendent beauty and
endowed with great charms, who were taught to sing and to play all manner
of instruments; they were dressed in silk and gold, and continually walked
in these gardens and palaces. The reasons for which the Old Man had these
palaces built were the following. Mahomet having said that those who
should obey his will should go to paradise, and there find all kinds of
luxuries, this prince wished it to be believed that he was the prophet and
companion of Mahomet, and that he had the power of sending whom he chose
to paradise. No one could succeed in entering the garden, because an
impregnable castle had been built at the entrance of the valley, and it
could only be approached by a covered and secret way. The Old Man had in
his court some young men from ten to twenty years of age, chosen from
those inhabitants of the hills who seemed to him capable of bearing arms,
and who were bold and courageous. From time to time he administered a
certain drink to ten or twelve of these young men, which sent them to
sleep, and when they were in deep stupor, he had them carried into the
garden. When they awoke, they saw all we have described: they were
surrounded by the young damsels, who sang, played instruments together,
caressed them, played all sorts of games, and presented them with the most
exquisite wines and meats (Fig. 317). So that these young men, satiated
with such pleasures, did not doubt that they were in paradise, and would
willingly have never gone out of it again.

"At the end of four or five days, the Old Man sent them to sleep again,
and had them removed from the garden in the same way in which they had
been brought in. He then called them before him, and asked them where they
had been. 'By your grace, lord,' they answered, 'we have been in
paradise.' And then they related, in the presence of everybody, what they
had seen there. This tale excited the astonishment of all those who heard
it, and the desire that they might be equally fortunate. The Old Man would
then formally announce to those who were present, as follows: 'Thus saith
the law of our prophet, He causes all who fight for their Lord to enter
into paradise; if you obey me you shall enjoy that happiness.' By such
words and plans this prince had so accustomed them to believe in him, that
he whom he ordered to die for his service considered himself lucky. All
the nobles or other enemies of the Old Man of the Mountain were put to
death by the assassins in his service; for none of them feared death,
provided he complied with the orders and wishes of his lord. However
powerful a man might be, therefore, if he was an enemy of the Old Man's,
he was sure to meet with an untimely end."

[Illustration: Fig. 317.--The Castle of Alamond and its
Enchantments.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in "Marco Polo's Travels,"
Manuscript of the Fifteenth. Century, in the Library of the Arsenal of

In his story, which we translate literally from the original, written in
ancient French, the venerable traveller attributes the origin of this
singular system of exercising power over the minds of persons to a prince
who in reality did but keep up a tradition of his family; for the Alaodin
herein mentioned is no other than a successor of the famous Hassan, son of
Ali, who, in the middle of the eleventh century, took advantage of the
wars which devastated Asia to create himself a kingdom, comprising the
three provinces of Turkistan, Djebel, and Syria. Hassan had embraced the
doctrine of the Ishmaelian sect, who pretended to explain allegorically
all the precepts of the Mahometan religion, and who did away with public
worship, and originated a creed which was altogether philosophical. He
made himself the chief exponent of this doctrine, which, by its very
simplicity, was sure to attract to him many people of simple and sincere
minds. Attacked by the troops of the Sultan Sindgar, he defended himself
vigorously and not unsuccessfully; but, fearing lest he should fall in an
unequal and protracted struggle against an adversary more powerful than
himself, he had recourse to cunning so as to obtain peace. He entranced,
or fascinated probably, by means analogous to those related by Marco Polo,
a slave, who had the daring, during Sindgar's sleep, to stick a sharp
dagger in the ground by the side of the Sultan's head. On waking, Sindgar
was much alarmed. A few days after, Hassan wrote to him, "If one had not
good intentions towards the Sultan, one might have driven the dagger,
which was stuck in the earth by his head, into his bosom." The Sultan
Sindgar then made peace with the chief of the Ishmaelians, whose dynasty
lasted for one hundred and seventy years.

The Castle of Alamond, built on the confines of Persia, on the top of a
high mountain surrounded with trees, after having been the usual residence
of Hassan, became that of his successors. As in the native language the
same word means both _prince_ and _old man_, the Crusaders who had heard
the word pronounced confounded the two, and gave the name of _Old Man of
the Mountain_ to the Ishmaelian prince at that time inhabiting the Castle
of Alamond, a name which has remained famous in history since the period
when the Sire de Joinville published his "Mémoires."

Ancient authors call the subjects of Hassan, _Haschichini, Heississini,
Assissini, Assassini_, various forms of the same expression, which, in
fact, has passed into French with a signification which recalls the
sanguinary exploits of the Ishmaelians. In seeking for the etymology of
this name, one must suppose that Haschichini is the Latin transformation
of the Arabic word Hachychy, the name of the sect of which we are
speaking, because the ecstacies during which they believed themselves
removed to paradise were produced by means of _haschisch_ or _haschischa_.
We know that this inebriating preparation, extracted from hemp, really
produces the most strange and delicious hallucinations on those who use
it. All travellers who have visited the East agree in saying that its
effects are very superior to those of opium. We evidently must attribute
to some ecstatic vision the supposed existence of the enchanted gardens,
which Marco Polo described from popular tales, and which, of course, never
existed but in the imagination of the young men, who were either mentally
excited after fasting and prayer, or intoxicated by the haschischa, and
consequently for a time lulled in dreams of celestial bliss which they
imagined awaited them under the guidance of Hassan and his descendants.

[Illustration: Fig. 318.--The Old Man of the Mountain giving Orders to his
Followers.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Travels of Marco Polo,"
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (Library of the Arsenal of Paris).]

The Haschischini, whom certain contemporary historians describe to us as
infatuated by the hope of some future boundless felicity, owe their
melancholy celebrity solely to the blind obedience with which they
executed the orders of their chiefs, and to the coolness with which they
sought the favourable moment for fulfilling their sanguinary missions
(Fig. 318). The Old Man of the Mountain (the master of daggers, _magister
cultellorum_, as he is also called by the chronicler Jacques de Vintry),
was almost continually at war with the Mussulman princes who reigned from
the banks of the Nile to the borders of the Caspian Sea. He continually
opposed them with the steel of his fanatical emissaries; at times, also,
making a traffic and merchandise of murder, he treated for a money payment
with the sultans or emirs, who were desirous of ridding themselves of an
enemy. The Ishmaelians thus put to death a number of princes and Mahometan
nobles; but, at the time of the Crusades, religious zeal having incited
them against the Christians, they found more than one notable victim in
the ranks of the Crusaders. Conrad, Marquis of Montferrat, was
assassinated by them; the great Salah-Eddin (Saladin) himself narrowly
escaped them; Richard Coeur de Lion and Philip Augustus were pointed out
to the assassins by the Old Man, who subsequently, on hearing of the
immense preparations which Louis IX. was making for the Holy War, had the
daring to send two of his followers to France, and even into Paris, with
orders to kill that monarch in the midst of his court. This king, after
having again escaped, during his sojourn in Palestine, from the murderous
attempts of the savage messengers of the Prince of Alamond, succeeded, by
his courage, his firmness, and his virtues, in inspiring these fanatics
with so much respect, that their chief, looking upon him as protected by
heaven, asked for his friendship, and offered him presents, amongst which
was a magnificent set of chessmen, in crystal, ornamented with gold and

The successors of Hassan, simultaneously attacked by the Moguls under
Houlayon, and by the Egyptians commanded by the Sultan Bibars, were
conquered and dispossessed of their States towards the middle of the
thirteenth century; but, long after, the Ishmaelians, either because their
chiefs sought to recover their power, or because they had placed their
daggers at the disposal of some foreign foe, continued notorious in
history. At last the sect became extinct, or, at least, retired into
obscurity, and renounced its murderous profession, which had for so long
made its members such objects of terror.

We have thus seen how a legion of fanatics in the East made themselves the
blind and formidable tools of a religious and political chieftain, who was
no less ambitious than revengeful. If we now turn our attention to
Germany, we shall here find, almost at the same period, a local
institution which, although very different from the sanguinary court of
the Old Man of the Mountain, was of an equally terrible and mysterious
character. We must not, however, look at it from the same point of view,
for, having been founded with the object of furthering and defending the
establishment of a regular social state, which had been approved and
sanctioned by the sovereigns, and recognised by the Church, it at times
rendered great service to the cause of justice and humanity at a period
when might usurped right, and when the excesses and the crimes of
shameless evil-doers, and of petty tyrants, entrenched in their
impregnable strongholds, were but too often made lawful from the simple
fact that there was no power to oppose them.

The secret tribunal of Westphalia, which held its sittings and passed
sentence in private, and which carried out its decrees on the spot, and
whose rules, laws, and actions were enveloped in deep mystery, must
unquestionably be looked upon as one of the most remarkable institutions
of the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: Figs. 319 and 320.--Hermensul or Irmensul and Crodon, Idols
of the Ancient Saxons.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Annales Circuli
Westphaliæ," by Herman Stangefol: in 4to, 1656.--The Idol Hermensul
appears to have presided over Executive Justice, the attributes of which
it holds in its hands.]

It would be difficult to state exactly at what period this formidable
institution was established. A few writers, and amongst these Sebastian
Munster, wish us to believe that it was founded by Charlemagne himself.
They affirm that this monarch, having subjugated the Saxons to his sway,
and having forced them to be baptized, created a secret tribunal, the
duties of which were to watch over them, in order that they might not
return to the errors of Paganism. However, the Saxons were incorrigible,
and, although Christians, they still carried on the worship of their idols
(Figs. 319 and 320); and, for this reason, it is said by these authorities
that the laws of the tribunal of Westphalia were founded by Charlemagne.
It is well known that from the ninth to the thirteenth century, all that
part of Germany between the Rhine and the Weser suffered under the most
complete anarchy. In consequence of this, and of the increase of crime
which remained unpunished, energetic men established a rigorous
jurisdiction, which, to a certain extent, suppressed these barbarous
disorders, and gave some assurance to social intercourse; but the very
mystery which gave weight to the institution was the cause of its origin
being unknown. It is only mentioned, and then cursorily, in historical
documents towards the early part of the fifteenth century. This court of
judicature received the name of _Femgericht_, or _Vehmgericht_, which
means Vehmic tribunal. The origin of the word _Fem_, _Vehm_, or _Fam_,
which has given rise to many scientific discussions, still remains in
doubt. The most generally accepted opinion is, that it is derived from a
Latin expression--_vemi_ (_vae mihi_), "woe is me!"

The special dominion over which the Vehmic tribunal reigned supreme was
Westphalia, and the country which was subjected to its laws was designated
as the _Terre Rouge_. There was no assembly of this tribunal beyond the
limits of this Terre Rouge, but it would be quite impossible to define
these limits with any accuracy. However, the free judges, assuming the
right of suppressing certain crimes committed beyond their territory, on
more than one occasion summoned persons living in various parts of
Germany, and even in provinces far from Westphalia, to appear before them.
We do not know all the localities wherein the Vehmic tribunal sat; but the
most celebrated of them, and the one which served as a model for all the
rest, held its sittings under a lime-tree, in front of the castle-gate of
Dortmund (Fig. 321). There the chapters-general of the association usually
assembled; and, on certain occasions, several thousands of the free judges
were to be seen there.

Each tribunal was composed of an unlimited number of free judges, under
the presidency of a free count, who was charged with the higher
administration of Vehmic justice. A _free county_ generally comprised
several free tribunals, or _friestuhle_. The free count, who was chosen by
the prince of the territory in which the tribunal sat, had two courts, one
secret, the other public. The public assizes, which took place at least
three times a year, were announced fourteen days beforehand, and any
person living within the _county_, and who was summoned before the free
count, was bound to appear, and to answer all questions which might be put
to him. It was required that the free judges (who are generally mentioned
as _femnoten_--that is to say, _sages_--and who are, besides, denoted by
writers of the time by the most honourable epithets: such as, "serious
men," "very pious," "of very pure morals," "lovers of justice," &c.)
should be persons who had been born in lawful wedlock, and on German soil;
they were not allowed to belong to any religions order, or to have ever
themselves been summoned before the Vehmic tribunal. They were nominated
by the free counts, but subject to the approval of their sovereigns. They
were not allowed to sit as judges before having been initiated into the
mysteries of the tribunals.

[Illustration: Fig. 321.--View of the Town of Dortmund in the Sixteenth
Century.--From an Engraving on Copper in P. Bertius's "Theatrum

The initiation of a free judge was accompanied by extraordinary
formalities. The candidate appeared bareheaded; he knelt down, and,
placing two fingers of his right hand on his naked sword and on a rope,
he took oath to adhere to the laws and customs of the holy tribunal, to
devote his five senses to it, and not to allow himself to be allured
therefrom either by silver, gold, or even precious stones; to forward the
interests of the tribunal "above everything illumined by the sun, and all
that the rain reaches;" and to defend them "against everything which is
between heaven and earth." The candidate was then given the sign by which
members of the association recognised each other. This sign has remained
unknown; and nothing, even in the deeds of the Vehmic archives, leads one
even to guess what it was, and every hypothesis on this subject must be
looked upon as uncertain or erroneous. By one of the fundamental statutes
of the Terre Rouge, a member convicted of betraying the secrets of the
order was condemned to the most cruel punishment; but we have every reason
for asserting that this sentence was never carried out, or even issued
against a free judge.

[Illustration: Fig. 322.--The Landgrave of Thuringia and his
Wife.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the Collection of the Minnesinger,
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century.]

In one case alone during the fourteenth century, was an accusation of
this sort made, and that proved to be groundless.

It would have been considered the height of treason to have given a
relation, or a friend, the slightest hint that he was being pursued, or
that he had been condemned by the Holy Vehme, in order that he might seek
refuge by flight. And in consequence of this, there was a general mistrust
of any one belonging to the tribunal, so much so that "a brother," says a
German writer, "often feared his brother, and hospitality was no longer

The functions of free judges consisted in going about the country seeking
out crimes, denouncing them, and inflicting immediate punishment on any
evil-doer caught in the act (Figs. 323 and 324). The free judges might
assemble provided there were at least seven in number to constitute a
tribunal; but we hear of as many as three hundred assisting at a meeting.

[Illustration: Figs. 323 and 324.--Free Judges.--Fac-simile of two
Woodcuts in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, 1552.]

It has been erroneously stated that the sittings of the Vehmic tribunals
were held at night in the depths of forests, or in subterranean places;
but it appears that all criminal business was first heard in public, and
could only be subjected to a secret judgment when the accused had failed
either publicly to justify himself or to appear in person.

When three free judges caught a malefactor in the very act, they could
seize him, judge him, and inflict the penalty on the spot. In other cases,
when a tribunal considered that it should pursue an individual, it
summoned him to appear before it. The summons had to be written, without
erasures, on a large sheet of vellum, and to bear at least seven
seals--that of the free count, and those of six free judges; and these
seals generally represented either a man in full armour holding a sword,
or a simple sword blade, or other analagous emblems (Figs. 325 to 327).
Two free judges delivered the summons personally where a member of the
association was concerned; but if the summons affected an individual who
was not of the Vehmic order, a sworn messenger bore it, and placed it in
the very hands of the person, or slipped it into his house. The time given
for putting in an appearance was originally six weeks and three days at
least, but at a later period this time was shortened. The writ of summons
was repeated three times, and each time bore a greater number of seals of
free judges, so as to verify the legality of the instrument. The accused,
whether guilty or not, was liable to a fine for not answering the first
summons, unless he could prove that it was impossible for him to have done
so. If he failed to appear on the third summons, he was finally condemned
_en corps et en honneur_.

[Illustration: Fig. 325.--Seal of Herman Loseckin, Free Count of Medebach,
in 1410.]

[Illustration: Fig. 326.--Seal of the Free Count, Hans Vollmar von Twern,
at Freyenhagen, in 1476-1499.]

[Illustration: Fig. 327.--Seal of Johann Croppe, Free Count of Kogelnberg,
in 1413.]

We have but imperfect information as to the formalities in use in the
Vehmic tribunals. But we know that the sittings were invested with a
certain solemnity and pomp. A naked sword--emblematical of justice, and
recalling our Saviour's cross in the shape of its handle--and a
rope--emblematical of the punishment deserved by the guilty--were placed
on the table before the president. The judges were bareheaded, with bare
hands, and each wore a cloak over his shoulder, and carried no arms of any

[Illustration: Fig. 328.--The Duke of Saxony and the Marquis of
Brandenburg.--From the "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Tabula veteris
Geographiae," in folio. Engraved by Wieriex, after Gérard de Jode.]

The plaintiff and the defendant were each allowed to produce thirty
witnesses. The defendant could either defend himself, or entrust his case
to an advocate whom he brought with him. At first, any free judge being
defendant in a suit, enjoyed the privilege of justifying himself on oath;
but it having been discovered that this privilege was abused, all persons,
of whatever station, were compelled to be confronted with the other side.
The witnesses, who were subpoened by either accuser or accused, had to
give their evidence according to the truth, dispassionately and
voluntarily. In the event of the accused not succeeding in bringing
sufficient testimony to clear himself, the prosecutor claimed a verdict in
his favour from the free count presiding at the tribunal, who appointed
one of the free judges to declare it. In case the free judge did not feel
satisfied as to the guilt, he could, by making oath, temporarily divest
himself of his office, which devolved upon a second, a third, or even a
fourth free judge. If four free judges were unable to decide, the matter
was referred to another sitting; for judgment had to be pronounced by the
appointed free judge at the sitting.

The various penalties for different crimes were left to the decision of
the tribunal. The rules are silent on the subject, and simply state that
the culprits will be punished "according to the authority of the secret
bench." The _royale, i.e._ capital punishment, was strictly applied in all
serious cases, and the manner of execution most in use was hanging (Figs.
329, 330).

A person accused who did not appear after the third summons, was out-lawed
by a terrible sentence, which deprived him of all rights, of common peace,
and forbad him the company of all Christians; by the wording of this
sentence, his wife was looked upon as a widow, his children as orphans;
his neck was abandoned to the birds of the air, and his body to the beasts
of the field, "but his soul was recommended to God." At the expiration of
one year and a day, if the culprit had not appeared, or had not
established his common rights, all his goods were confiscated, and
appropriated by the King or Emperor. When the condemnation referred to a
prince, a town, or a corporation (for the accusations of the tribunal
frequently were issued against groups of individuals), it caused the loss
of all honour, authority, and privileges. The free count, in pronouncing
the sentence, threw the rope, which was before him, on to the ground; the
free judges spat upon it, and the name of the culprit was inscribed on the
book of blood. The sentence was kept secret; the prosecutor alone was
informed of it by a written notice, which was sealed with seven seals.
When the condemned was present, the execution took place immediately, and,
according to the custom of the Middle Ages, its carrying out was deputed
to the youngest of the free judges. The members of the Vehmic association
enjoyed the privilege of being hung seven feet higher than those who were
not associates.

The Vehmic judgments were, however, liable to be appealed against: the
accused might, at the sitting, appeal either to what was termed the
imperial chamber, a general chapter of the association, which assembled at
Dortmund, or (and this was the more frequent custom) to the emperor, or
ruler of the country, whether he were king, prince, duke, or bishop,
provided that these authorities belonged to the association. The revision
of the judgment could only be entrusted to members of the tribunal, who,
in their turn, could only act in Westphalia. The condemned might also
appeal to the lieutenant-general of the emperor, or to the grand master of
the Holy Vehme, a title which, from the remotest times, was given to the
Archbishop of Cologne. There are even instances of appeals having been
made to the councils and to the Popes, although the Vehmic association
never had any communication or intercourse with the court of Rome. We must
not forget a very curious privilege which, in certain cases, was left to
the culprit as a last resource; he might appeal to the emperor, and
solicit an order which required the execution of the sentence to be
applied after a delay _of one hundred years, six weeks, and one day_.

[Illustration: Figs. 329 and 330.--Execution of the Sentences of the
Secret Tribunal.--Fac-simile of Woodcuts in the "Cosmographie Universelle"
of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

The chapter-general of the association was generally summoned once a year
by the emperor or his lieutenant, and assembled either at Dortmund or
Arensberg, in order to receive the returns of causes judged by the various
Vehmic tribunals; to hear the changes which had taken place among the
members of the order; to receive the free judges; to hear appeals; and,
lastly, to decide upon reforms to be introduced into the rules. These
reforms usually had reference to the connection of imperial authority with
the members of the secret jurisdiction, and were generally suggested by
the emperors, who were jealous of the increasing power of the association.

From what we have shown, on the authority of authentic documents, we
understand how untrue is the tradition, or rather the popular idea, that
the _Secret Tribunal_ was an assembly of bloodthirsty judges, secretly
perpetrating acts of mere cruelty, without any but arbitrary laws. It is
clear, on the contrary, that it was a regular institution, having, it is
true, a most mysterious and complex organization, but simply acting in
virtue of legal prescriptions, which were rigorously laid down, and
arranged in a sort of code which did honour to the wisdom of those who had
created it.

It was towards the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the
fifteenth centuries that the Vehmic jurisdiction reached its highest
degree of power; its name was only pronounced in a whisper and with
trembling; its orders were received with immediate submission, and its
chastisements always fell upon the guilty and those who resisted its
authority. There cannot be a doubt but that the Westphalian tribunal
prevented many great crimes and public misfortunes by putting a wholesome
check on the nobles, who were ever ready to place themselves above all
human authority; and by punishing, with pitiless severity, the audacity of
bandits, who would otherwise have been encouraged to commit the most
daring acts with almost the certainty of escaping with impunity. But the
Holy Vehme, blinded by the terror it inspired, was not long without
displaying the most extravagant assumption of power, and digressing from
the strict path to which its action should have been confined. It summoned
before its tribunals princes, who openly denied its authority, and cities,
which did not condescend to answer to its behests. In the fifteenth
century, the free judges were composed of men who could not be called of
unimpeachable integrity; many persons of doubtful morals having been
raised to the dignity by party influence and by money. The partiality and
the spirit of revenge which at times prompted their judgments, were
complained of; they were accused of being open to corruption; and this
accusation appears to have been but too well founded. It is known that,
according to a feudal practice established in the Vehmic system, every
new free judge was obliged to make a present to the free count who had
admitted him into the order; and the free counts did not hesitate to make
this an important source of revenue to themselves by admitting, according
to an historian, "many people as _judges_ who, in reality, deserved to be

[Illustration: Fig. 331.--View of Cologne in the Sixteenth Century.--From
a Copper-plate in the "Theatrum Geographicum" of P. Bertius. The three
large stars represent, it is supposed, the Three Persons of the Trinity,
and the seven small ones the Electors of the Empire.]

[Illustration: Fig. 332.--German Knights (Fifteenth Century).--From a
Plate in the "Life of the Emperor Maximilian," engraved by Burgmayer, from
Drawings by Albert Durer.]

Owing to the most flagrant and most insolent abuses of power, the ancient
authority of the institution became gradually more and more shaken. On one
occasion, for instance, in answer to a summons issued by the Imperial
Tribunal against some free judges, the tribunal of the Terre-Rouge had the
daring to summon the Emperor Frederick III. before it to answer for this
want of respect. On another occasion, a certain free count, jealous of one
of his associates, hung him with his own hands while out on a hunting
excursion, alleging that his rank of free judge authorised him to execute
summary justice. From that time there was a perpetual cry of horror and
indignation against a judicial institution which thus interpreted its
duties, and before long the State undertook the suppression of these
secret tribunals. The first idea of this was formed by the electors of the
empire at the diet of Trèves in 1512. The Archbishop of Cologne succeeded,
however, in parrying the blow, by convoking the chapter-general of the
order, on the plea of the necessity of reform. But, besides being
essentially corrupt, the Holy Vehme had really run its course, and it
gradually became effete as, by degrees, a better organized and more
defined social and political state succeeded to the confused anarchy of
the Middle Ages, and as the princes and free towns adopted the custom of
dispensing justice either in person or through regular tribunals. Its
proceedings, becoming more and more summary and rigorous, daily gave rise
to feelings of greater and greater abhorrence. The common saying over all
Germany was, "They first hang you, and afterwards inquire into your
innocence." On all sides opposition arose against the jurisdiction of the
free judges. Princes, bishops, cities, and citizens, agreed instinctively
to counteract this worn-out and degenerate institution. The struggle was
long and tedious. During the last convulsions of the expiring Holy Vehme,
there was more than one sanguinary episode, both on the side of the free
judges themselves, as well as on that of their adversaries. Occasionally
the secret tribunal broke out into fresh signs of life, and proclaimed its
existence by some terrible execution; and at times, also, its members paid
dearly for their acts. On one occasion, in 1570, fourteen free judges,
whom Kaspar Schwitz, Count of Oettingen, caused to be seized, were already
tied up in bags, and about to be drowned, when the mob, pitying their
fate, asked for and obtained their reprieve.

The death-blow to the Vehmic tribunal was struck by its own hand. It
condenmed summarily, and executed without regular procedure, an inhabitant
of Munster, who used to scandalize the town by his profligacy. He was
arrested at night, led to a small wood, where the free judges awaited him,
and condemned to death without being allowed an advocate; and, after being
refused a respite even of a few hours, that he might make his peace with
heaven, he was confessed by a monk, and his head was severed from his
body by the executioner on the spot.

[Illustration: Fig. 333.--Interior Court of the Palace of the Doges of
Venice: Buildings in which are the Cells and _the Leads_.--From Cesare

Dating from this tragical event, which excited universal indignation, the
authority of the free judges gradually declined, and, at last, the
institution became almost defunct, and merely confined itself to
occasionally adjudicating in simple civil matters.

We must not omit to mention the Council of Ten of Venice when speaking on
the subject of arbitrary executions and of tyrannical and implacable
justice. In some respects it was more notorious than the Vehmic tribunal,
exercising as it did a no less mysterious power, and inspiring equal
terror, though in other countries.

This secret tribunal was created after a revolt which burst on the
republic of Venice on the 15th of June, 1310. At first it was only
instituted for two months, but, after various successive prorogations, it
was confirmed for five years, on the 31st of January, 1311. In 1316 it was
again appointed for five years; on the 2nd of May, 1327, for ten years
more; and at last was established permanently. In the fifteenth century
the authority of the Council of Ten was consolidated and rendered more
energetic by the creation of the Inquisitors of State. These were three in
number, elected by the Council of Ten; and the citizens on whom the votes
fell could not refuse the functions which were thus spontaneously, and
often unexpectedly, assigned to them. The authority of Inquisitors of
State was declared to be "unlimited."

In order to show the power and mode of action of this terrible tribunal,
it is perhaps better to make a few extracts from the code of rules which
it established for itself in June, 1454.

This document--several manuscript copies of which are to be found in the
public libraries of Paris--says, "The inquisitors may proceed against any
person whomsoever, no rank giving the right of exemption from their
jurisdiction. They may pronounce any sentence, even that of death; only
their final sentences must be passed unanimously. They shall have complete
charge of the prisons and _the leads_ (Fig. 333). They may draw at sight
from the treasury of the Council of Ten, without having to give any
account of the use made of the funds placed in their hands.

"The proceedings of the tribunal shall always be secret; its members shall
wear no distinctive badge. No open arrests shall be made. The chief of the
bailiffs (_sbirri_) shall avoid making domiciliary arrests, but he shall
try to seize the culprit unawares, away from his home, and so securely get
him under _the leads_ of the Palace of the Doges. When the tribunal shall
deem the death of any person necessary, the execution shall never be
public; the condemned shall be drowned at night in the Orfano Canal.

"The tribunal shall authorise the generals commanding in Cyprus or in
Candia, in the event of its being for the welfare of the Republic, to
cause any patrician or other influential person in either of those
Venetian provinces to disappear, or to be assassinated secretly, if such a
measure should conscientiously appear to them indispensable; but they
shall be answerable before God for it.

[Illustration: Fig. 334.--Member of the Brotherhood of Death, whose duty
it was to accompany those sentenced to death.--From Cesare Vecellio.]

"If any workman shall practise in a foreign land any art or craft to the
detriment of the Republic, he shall be ordered to return to his country;
and should he not obey, all his nearest relatives shall be imprisoned, in
order that his affection for them may bring him to obedience. Should he
still persist in his disobedience, secret measures shall be taken to put
him to death, wherever he may be.

"If a Venetian noble reveal to the tribunal propositions which have been
made to him by some foreign ambassador, the agent, excepting it should be
the ambassador himself, shall be immediately carried off and drowned.

"If a patrician having committed any misdeed shall take refuge under the
protection of a foreign ambassador, he shall be put to death forthwith.

"If any noble in full senate take upon himself to question the authority
of the Council of Ten, and persist in attacking it, he shall be allowed to
speak without interruption; immediately afterwards he shall be arrested,
and instructions as to his trial shall be given, so that he may be judged
by the ordinary tribunals; and, if this does not succeed in preventing his
proceedings, he shall be put to death secretly.

"In case of a complaint against one of the heads of the Council of Ten,
the instructions shall be made secretly, and, in case of sentence of
death, poison shall be the agent selected.

"Should any dissatisfied noble speak ill of the Government, he shall first
be forbidden to appear in the councils and public places for two years.
Should he not obey, or should he repeat the offence after the two years,
he shall be drowned as incorrigible...." &c.

One can easily understand that in order to carry out these laws the most
careful measures were taken to organize a system of espionage. The nobles
were subjected to a rigorous supervision; the privacy of letters was not
respected; an ambassador was never lost sight of, and his smallest acts
were narrowly watched. Any one who dared to throw obstacles in the way of
the spies employed by the Council of Ten, was put on the rack, and "made
afterwards to receive the punishment which the State inquisitors might
consider befitting." Whole pages of the secret statutes bear witness that
lying and fraud formed the basis of all the diplomatic relations of the
Venetian Government. Nevertheless the Council of Ten, which was solely
instituted with the view of watching over the safety of the Republic,
could not inter-meddle in civil cases, and its members were forbidden to
hold any sort of communication with foreigners.

[Illustration: Figs. 335 and 336.--Chiefs of Sbirri, in the Secret
Service of the Council of Ten.--From Cesare Vecellio.]

The list of names of Venetian nobles and distinguished persons who became
victims to the suspicions tyranny of the Council of Ten, and of the State
inquisitors, would be very long and of little interest. We may mention a
few, however. We find that in 1385, Peter Justiniani, and, in 1388,
Stephen Monalesco, were punished for holding secret transactions with the
Lord of Padua; in 1413, John Nogarola, for having tried to set fire to
Verona; in 1471, Borromeo Memo, for having uttered defamatory speeches
against the Podestat of Padua. Not only was this Borromeo Memo punished,
but three witnesses of the crime which was imputed to him were condemned
to a year's imprisonment and three years' banishment, for not having
denounced the deed "between evening and morning." In 1457 we find the
Council of Ten attacking the Doge himself, by requiring the abdication of
Francis Foscari. A century earlier it had caused the Doge, Marino Faliero,
who was convicted of having taken part in a plot to destroy the influence
of the nobility, to be executed on the very staircase of the ducal palace,
where allegiance to the Republic was usually sworn.

[Illustration: Fig. 337.--Doge of Venice. Costume before the Sixteenth
Century. From Cesare Vecellio.]

[Illustration: Fig. 338.--Doge of Venice in Ceremonial Costume of the
Sixteenth Century. From Cesare Vecellio.]

Like the Holy Vehme, the Council of Ten compromised its authority by the
abuse of power. In 1540, unknown to the Senate, and in spite of the
well-prescribed limit of its authority, it concluded a treaty with the
Turkish Sultan, Soliman II. The Senate at first concealed its indignation
at this abuse of power, but, in 1582, it took measures so as considerably
to restrain the powers of the Council of Ten, which, from that date, only
existed in name.

[Illustration: Fig. 339.--Seal of the Free Count Heinrich Beckmann, of
Medebach. (1520--1533).]


  Refinements of Penal Cruelty.--Tortures for different Purposes.--Water,
  Screw-boards, and the Rack.--The Executioner.--Female
  Executioners.--Tortures.--Amende Honorable.--Torture of Fire, Real and
  Feigned.--Auto-da-fé.--Red-hot Brazier or
  Whip.--The Pillory.--The
  of Prisons.--The Iron Cage.--The Leads of Venice.

"It is very sad," says the learned M. de Villegille, "to observe the
infinite variety of tortures which have existed since the beginning of the
world. It is, in fact, difficult to realise the amount of ingenuity
exercised by men in inventing new tortures, in order to give themselves
the satisfaction of seeing their fellow-creatures agonizing in the most
awful sufferings."

In entering upon the subject of ancient modes of punishment, we must first
speak of the torture, which, according to the received phrase, might be
either _previous_ or _preparatory: previous_, when it consisted of a
torture which the condemned had to endure previous to capital punishment;
and _preparatory_, when it was applied in order to elicit from the culprit
an avowal of his crime, or of that of his accomplices. It was also called
_ordinary_, or _extraordinary_, according to the duration or violence with
which it was inflicted. In some cases the torture lasted five or six
consecutive hours; in others, it rarely exceeded an hour. Hippolyte de
Marsillis, the learned and venerable jurisconsult of Bologna, who lived at
the beginning of the fifteenth century, mentions fourteen ways of
inflicting torture. The compression of the limbs by special instruments,
or by ropes only; injection of water, vinegar, or oil, into the body of
the accused; application of hot pitch, and starvation, were the processes
most in use. Other means, which were more or less applied according to the
fancy of the magistrate and the tormentor or executioner, were remarkable
for their singular atrocities. For instance, placing hot eggs under the
arm-pits; introducing dice between the skin and flesh; tying lighted
candles to the fingers, so that they might be consumed simultaneously with
the wax; letting water trickle drop by drop from a great height on the
stomach; and also the custom, which was, according to writers on criminal
matters, an indescribable torture, of watering the feet with salt water
and allowing goats to lick them. However, every country had special
customs as to the manner of applying torture.

In France, too, the torture varied according to the provinces, or rather
according to the parliaments. For instance, in Brittany the culprit, tied
in an iron chair, was gradually brought near a blazing furnace. In
Normandy, one thumb was squeezed in a screw in the ordinary, and both
thumbs in the extraordinary torture. At Autun, after high boots made of
spongy leather had been placed on the culprit's feet, he was tied on to a
table near a large fire, and a quantity of boiling water was poured on the
boots, which penetrated the leather, ate away the flesh, and even
dissolved the bones of the victim.

At Orleans, for the ordinary torture the accused was stripped half naked,
and his hands were tightly tied behind his back, with a ring fixed between
them. Then by means of a rope fastened to this ring, they raised the poor
man, who had a weight of one hundred and eighty pounds attached to his
feet, a certain height from the ground. For the extraordinary torture,
which then took the name of _estrapade_, they raised the victim, with two
hundred and fifty pounds attached to his feet, to the ceiling by means of
a capstan; he was then allowed to fall several times successively by jerks
to the level of the ground, by which means his arms and legs were
completely dislocated (Fig. 340).

At Avignon, the ordinary torture consisted in hanging the accused by the
wrists, with a heavy iron ball at each foot; for the extraordinary
torture, which was then much in use in Italy under the name of _veglia_,
the body was stretched horizontally by means of ropes passing through
rings riveted into the wall, and attached to the four limbs, the only
support given to the culprit being the point of a stake cut in a diamond
shape, which just touched the end of the back-bone. A doctor and a surgeon
were always present, feeling the pulse at the temples of the patient, so
as to be able to judge of the moment when he could not any longer bear the

[Illustration: Fig. 340.--The Estrapade, or Question
Extraordinary.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the Work of J. Millaeus,
"Praxis Criminis Persequendi." folio, Paris, 1541.]

[Illustration: Fig. 341.--The Water Torture.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
J. Damhoudère's "Praxis Rerum Criminalium:" in 4to, Antwerp, 1556.]

At that moment he was untied, hot fomentations were used to revive him,
restoratives were administered, and, as soon as he had recovered a little
strength, he was again put to the torture, which went on thus for six
consecutive hours.

In Paris, for a long time, the _water torture_ was in use; this was the
most easily borne, and the least dangerous. A person undergoing it was
tied to a board which was supported horizontally on two trestles. By means
of a horn, acting as a funnel, and whilst his nose was being pinched, so
as to force him to swallow, they slowly poured four _coquemars_ (about
nine pints) of water into his mouth; this was for the ordinary torture.
For the extraordinary, double that quantity was poured in (Fig. 341). When
the torture was ended, the victim was untied, "and taken to be warmed in
the kitchen," says the old text.

At a later period, the _brodequins_ were preferred. For this torture, the
victim was placed in a sitting posture on a massive bench, with strong
narrow boards fixed inside and outside of each leg, which were tightly
bound together with strong rope; wedges were then driven in between the
centre boards with a mallet; four wedges in the ordinary and eight in the
extraordinary torture. Not unfrequently during the latter operation the
bones of the legs were literally burst.

The _brodequins_ which were often used for ordinary torture were stockings
of parchment, into which it was easy enough to get the feet when it was
wet, but which, on being held near the fire, shrunk so considerably that
it caused insufferable agony to the wearer.

Whatever manner of torture was applied, the accused, before undergoing it,
was forced to remain eight or ten hours without eating. Damhoudère, in his
famous technical work, called "Practique et Enchiridion des Causes
Criminelles" (1544), also recommends that the hair should be carefully
shaved from the bodies of persons about to undergo examination by torture,
for fear of their concealing some countercharm which would render them
insensible to bodily pain. The same author also recommends, as a rule,
when there are several persons "to be placed on the rack" for the same
deed, to begin with those from whom it would be most probable that
confession would be first extorted. Thus, for instance, when a man and a
woman were to suffer one after the other, he recommended that the woman be
first tortured, as being the weaker of the two; when a father and son were
concerned, the son should be tortured in presence of the father, "who
naturally fears more for his son than for himself." We thereby see that
the judges were adepts in the art of adding moral to physical tortures.
The barbarous custom of punishment by torture was on several occasions
condemned by the Church. As early as 866, we find, from Pope Nicholas V.'s
letter to the Bulgarians, that their custom of torturing the accused was
considered contrary to divine as well as to human law: "For," says he, "a
confession should be voluntary, and not forced. By means of the torture,
an innocent man may suffer to the utmost without making any avowal; and,
in such a case, what a crime for the judge! Or the person may be subdued
by pain, and may acknowledge himself guilty, although he be not so, which
throws an equally great sin upon the judge."

[Illustration: Fig. 342.--Type of Executioner in the Decapitation of John
the Baptist (Thirteenth Century).--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Psalm-book of St. Louis. Manuscript preserved in the Musée des

After having endured the _previous_ torture, the different phases of which
were carried out by special tormentors or executioners, the condemned was
at last handed over to the _maistre des haultes oeuvres_--that is to say,
the _executioner_--whose special mission was that of sending culprits to
another world (Fig. 342).

[Illustration: Fig. 343.--Swiss Grand Provost (Fifteenth Century).--From a
Painting in the "Danse des Morts" of Basle, engraved by Mérian.]

The executioner did not hold the same position in all countries. For
whereas in France, Italy, and Spain, a certain amount of odium was
attached to this terrible craft, in Germany, on the contrary, successfully
carrying out a certain number of capital sentences was rewarded by titles
and the privileges of nobility (Fig. 343). At Reutlingen, in Suabia, the
last of the councillors admitted into the tribunal had to carry out the
sentence with his own hand. In Franconia, this painful duty fell upon the
councillor who had last taken a wife.

In France, the executioner, otherwise called the _King's Sworn Tormentor,_
was the lowest of the officers of justice. His letters of appointment,
which he received from the King, had, nevertheless, to be registered in
Parliament; but, after having put the seal on them, it is said that the
chancellor threw them under the table, in token of contempt. The
executioner was generally forbidden to live within the precincts of the
city, unless it was on the grounds where the pillory was situated; and, in
some cases, so that he might not be mistaken amongst the people, he was
forced to wear a particular coat, either of red or yellow. On the other
hand, his duties ensured him certain privileges. In Paris, he possessed
the right of _havage_, which consisted in taking all that he could hold in
his hand from every load of grain which was brought into market; however,
in order that the grain might be preserved from ignominious contact, he
levied his tax with a wooden spoon. He enjoyed many similar rights over
most articles of consumption, independently of benefiting by several taxes
or fines, such as the toll on the Petit-Pont, the tax on foreign traders,
on boats arriving with fish, on dealers in herrings, watercress, &c.; and
the fine of five sous which was levied on stray pigs (see previous
chapter), &c. And, lastly, besides the personal property of the condemned,
he received the rents from the shops and stalls surrounding the pillory,
in which the retail fish trade was carried on.

It appears that, in consequence of the receipts from these various duties
forming a considerable source of revenue, the prestige of wealth by
degrees dissipated the unfavourable impressions traditionally attached to
the duties of executioner. At least, we have authority for supposing this,
when, for instance, in 1418, we see the Paris executioner, who was then
captain of the bourgeois militia, coming in that capacity to touch the
hand of the Duke of Burgundy, on the occasion of his solemn entry into
Paris with Queen Isabel of Bavaria. We may add that popular belief
generally ascribed to the executioner a certain practical knowledge of
medicine, which was supposed inherent in the profession itself; and the
acquaintance with certain methods of cure unknown to doctors, was
attributed to him; people went to buy from him the fat of culprits who had
been hung, which was supposed to be a marvellous panacea. We may also
remark that, in our day, the proficiency of the executioner in setting
dislocated limbs is still proverbial in many countries.

[Illustration: Fig. 344.--Amende Honorable before the
Tribunal.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in J. Damhoudère's "Praxis Rerum
Criminalium:" in 4to, Antwerp, 1556.]

More than once during the thirteenth century the duties of the executioner
were performed by women, but only in those cases in which their own sex
was concerned; for it is expressly stated in an order of St. Louis, that
persons convicted of blasphemy shall be beaten with birch rods, "the men
by men, and the women by women only, without the presence of men." This,
however, was not long tolerated, for we know that a period soon arrived
when women were exempted from a duty so little adapted to their physical
weakness and moral sensitiveness.

The learned writer on criminal cases, Josse Damhoudère, whom we have
already mentioned, and whom we shall take as our special guide in the
enumeration of the various tortures, specifies thirteen ways in which the
executioner "carries out his executions," and places them in the following
order:--"Fire"--"the sword"--"mechanical force"--"quartering"--"the
wheel"--"the fork"--"the gibbet"--"drawing"--"spiking"--"cutting off the
ears"--"dismembering"--"flogging or beating"--and the "pillory."

[Illustration: Fig. 345.--The Punishment by Fire.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
of the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

But before entering upon the details of this revolting subject, we must
state that, whatever punishment was inflicted upon a culprit, it was very
rare that its execution had not been preceded by the _amende honorable_,
which, in certain cases, constituted a distinct punishment, but which
generally was but the prelude to the torture itself. The _amende
honorable_ which was called _simple_ or _short_, took place without the
assistance of the executioner in the council chamber, where the condemned,
bareheaded and kneeling, had to state that "he had falsely said or done
something against the authority of the King or the honour of some person"
(Fig. 344). For the _amende honorable in figuris_--that is to say, in
public--the condemned, in his shirt, barefooted, the rope round his neck,
followed by the executioner, and holding in his hand a wax taper, with a
weight, which was definitely specified in the sentence which had been
passed upon him, but which was generally of two or four pounds,
prostrated himself at the door of a church, where in a loud voice he had
to confess his sin, and to beg the pardon of God and man.

When a criminal had been condemned to be burnt, a stake was erected on the
spot specially designed for the execution, and round it a pile was
prepared, composed of alternate layers of straw and wood, and rising to
about the height of a man. Care was taken to leave a free space round the
stake for the victim, and also a passage by which to lead him to it.
Having been stripped of his clothes, and dressed in a shirt smeared with
sulphur, he had to walk to the centre of the pile through a narrow
opening, and was then tightly bound to the stake with ropes and chains.
After this, faggots and straw were thrown into the empty space through
which he had passed to the stake, until he was entirely covered by them;
the pile was then fired on all sides at once (Fig. 345).

Sometimes, the sentence was that the culprit should only be delivered to
the flames after having been previously strangled. In this case, the dead
corpse was then immediately placed where the victim would otherwise have
been placed alive, and the punishment lost much of its horror. It often
happened that the executioner, in order to shorten the sufferings of the
condemned, whilst he prepared the pile, placed a large and pointed iron
bar amongst the faggots and opposite the stake breast high, so that,
directly the fire was lighted, the bar was quickly pushed against the
victim, giving a mortal blow to the unfortunate wretch, who would
otherwise have been slowly devoured by the flames. If, according to the
wording of the sentence, the ashes of the criminal were to be scattered to
the winds, as soon as it was possible to approach the centre of the
burning pile, a few ashes were taken in a shovel and sprinkled in the air.

They were not satisfied with burning the living, they also delivered to
the flames the bodies of those who had died a natural death before their
execution could be carried out, as if an anticipated death should not be
allowed to save them from the punishment which they had deserved. It also
happened in certain cases, where a person's guilt was only proved after
his decease, that his body was disinterred, and carried to the stake to be

The punishment by fire was always inflicted in cases of heresy, or
blasphemy. The Spanish Inquisition made such a constant and cruel use of
it, that the expression _auto-da-fé_ (act of faith), strangely perverted
from its original meaning, was the only one employed to denote the
punishment itself. In France, in the beginning of the fourteenth century,
fifty-nine Templars were burned at the same time for the crimes of heresy
and witchcraft. And three years later, on the 18th March, 1314, Jacques
Molay, and a few other dignitaries of the Order of the Templars, also
perished in the flames at the extremity of the island of Notre Dame, on
the very spot where the equestrian statue of Henry IV. now stands.

Every one is acquainted with the fact that judges were found iniquitous
enough to condemn Joan of Arc to death by fire as a witch and a heretic.
Her execution, which took place in the market-place of Rouen, is
remarkable from a circumstance which is little known, and which had never
taken place on any other occasion. When it was supposed that the fire
which surrounded the young heroine on all sides had reached her and no
doubt suffocated her, although sufficient time had not elapsed for it to
consume her body, a part of the blazing wood was withdrawn, "in order to
remove any doubts from the people," and when the crowd had satisfied
themselves by seeing her in the middle of the pile, "chained to the post
and quite dead, the executioner replaced the fire...." It should be stated
in reference to this point, that Joan having been accused of witchcraft,
there was a general belief among the people that the flames would be
harmless to her, and that she would be seen emerging from her pile

The sentence of punishment by fire did not absolutely imply death at the
stake, for there was a punishment of this description which was specially
reserved for base coiners, and which consisted in hurling the criminals
into a cauldron of scalding water or oil.

We must include in the category of punishment by fire certain penalties,
which were, so to speak, but the preliminaries of a more severe
punishment, such as the sulphur-fire, in which the hands of parricides, or
of criminals accused of high treason, were burned. We must also add
various punishments which, if they did not involve death, were none the
less cruel, such as the red-hot brazier, _bassin ardent_, which was passed
backwards and forwards before the eyes of the culprit, until they were
destroyed by the scorching heat; and the process of branding various marks
on the flesh, as an ineffaceable stigma, the use of which has been
continued to the present day.

In certain countries decapitation was performed with an axe; but in
France, it was carried out usually by means of a two-handed sword or
glave of justice, which was furnished to the executioner for that purpose
(Fig. 346). We find it recorded that in 1476, sixty sous parisis were paid
to the executioner of Paris "for having bought a large _espée à feuille_,"
used for beheading the condemned, and "for having the old sword done up,
which was damaged, and had become notched whilst carrying out the sentence
of justice upon Messire Louis de Luxembourg."

[Illustration: Fig. 346.--Beheading.--Fac-simile of a Miniature on Wood in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Originally, decapitation was indiscriminately inflicted on all criminals
condemned to death; at a later period, however, it became the particular
privilege of the nobility, who submitted to it without any feeling of
degradation. The victim--unless the sentence prescribed that he should be
blindfolded as an ignominious aggravation of the penalty--was allowed to
choose whether he would have his eyes covered or not. He knelt down on the
scaffold, placed his head on the block, and gave himself up to the
executioner (Fig. 347). The skill of the executioner was generally such
that the head was almost invariably severed from the body at the first
blow. Nevertheless, skill and practice at times failed, for cases are on
record where as many as eleven blows were dealt, and at times it happened
that the sword broke. It was no doubt the desire to avoid this mischance
that led to the invention of the mechanical instrument, now known under
the name of the _guillotine_, which is merely an improvement on a
complicated machine which was much more ancient than is generally
supposed. As early as the sixteenth century the modern guillotine already
existed in Scotland under the name of the _Maiden_, and English historians
relate that Lord Morton, regent of Scotland during the minority of James
VI., had it constructed after a model of a similar machine, which had long
been in use at Halifax, in Yorkshire. They add, and popular tradition also
has invented an analogous tale in France, that this Lord Morton, who was
the inventor or the first to introduce this kind of punishment, was
himself the first to experience it. The guillotine is, besides, very
accurately described in the "Chronicles of Jean d'Auton," in an account of
an execution which took place at Genoa at the beginning of the sixteenth
century. Two German engravings, executed about 1550 by Pencz and
Aldegrever, also represent an instrument of death almost identical with
the guillotine; and the same instrument is to be found on a bas-relief of
that period, which is still existing in one of the halls of the Tribunal
of Luneburg, in Hanover.

[Illustration: Decapitation of Guillaume de Pommiers.

[Illustration: Fig. 347.--Public Executions.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the Latin Work of J. Millaeus, "Praxis Criminis Persequendi:" small folio,
Parisis, Simon de Colines, 1541.]

And his Confessor, at Bordeaux in 1377, by order of the King of England's
Lieutenant. _Froissart's Chronicles._ No. 2644, Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

Possibly the invention of such a machine was prompted by the desire to
curtail the physical sufferings of the victim, instead of prolonging them,
as under the ancient system. It is, however, difficult to believe that the
mediæval judges were actuated by any humane feelings, when we find that,
in order to reconcile a respect for _propriety_ with a due compliance with
the ends of justice, the punishment of burying alive was resorted to for
women, who could not with decency be hung up to the gibbets. In 1460, a
woman named Perette, accused of theft and of receiving stolen goods, was
condemned by the Provost of Paris to be "buried alive before the gallows,"
and the sentence was literally carried out.

_Quartering_ may in truth be considered the most horrible penalty invented
by judicial cruelty. This punishment really dates from the remotest ages,
but it was scarcely ever inflicted in more modern times, except on
regicides, who were looked upon as having committed the worst of crimes.
In almost all cases, the victim had previously to undergo various
accessory tortures: sometimes his right hand was cut off, and the
mutilated stump was burnt in a cauldron of sulphur; sometimes his arms,
thighs, or breasts were lacerated with red-hot pincers, and hot oil,
pitch, or molten lead was poured into the wounds.

[Illustration: Fig. 348.--Demons applying the Torture of the
Wheel.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Grand Kalendrier ou Compost des
Bergers:" small folio, Troyes, Nicholas le Rouge, 1529.]

After these horrible preliminaries, a rope was attached to each of the
limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the
knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were
then fastened to four bars, to each of which a strong horse was harnessed,
as if for towing a barge. These horses were first made to give short
jerks; and when the agony had elicited heart-rending cries from the
unfortunate man, who felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken,
the four horses were all suddenly urged on with the whip in different
directions, and thus all the limbs were strained at one moment. If the
tendons and ligaments still resisted the combined efforts of the four
horses, the executioner assisted, and made several cuts with a hatchet on
each joint. When at last--for this horrible torture often lasted several
hours--each horse had drawn out a limb, they were collected and placed
near the hideous trunk, which often still showed signs of life, and the
whole were burned together. Sometimes the sentence was, that the body
should be hung to the gibbet, and that the limbs should be displayed on
the gates of the town, or sent to four principal towns in the extremities
of the kingdom. When this was done, "an inscription was placed on each of
the limbs, which stated the reason of its being thus exposed."

The _wheel_ is the name applied to a torture of very ancient origin, but
which was applied during the Middle Ages to quite a different torture from
that used in olden times. The modern instrument might indeed have been
called the cross, for it only served for the public exhibition of the body
of the criminal whose limbs had been previously broken alive. This
torture, which does not date earlier than the days of Francis I., is thus
described:--The victim was first tied on his back to two joists forming a
St. Andrew's cross, each of his limbs being stretched out on its arms. Two
places were hollowed out under each limb, about a foot apart, in order
that the joints alone might touch the wood. The executioner then dealt a
heavy blow over each hollow with a square iron bar, about two inches broad
and rounded at the handle, thus breaking each limb in two places. To the
eight blows required for this, the executioner generally added two or
three on the chest, which were called _coups de grâce_, and which ended
this horrible execution. It was only after death that the broken body was
placed on a wheel, which was turned round on a pivot. Sometimes, however,
the sentence ordered that the condemned should be strangled before being
broken, which was done in such cases by the instantaneous twist of a rope
round the neck.

Strangling, thus carried out, was called _garotting_. This method is still
in use in Spain, and is specially reserved for the nobility. The victim is
seated on a scaffold, his head leaning against a beam and his neck grasped
by an iron collar, which the executioner suddenly tightens from behind by
means of a screw.

For several centuries, and down to the Revolution, hanging was the most
common mode of execution in France; consequently, in every town, and
almost in every village, there was a permanent gibbet, which, owing to the
custom of leaving the bodies to hang till they crumbled into dust, was
very rarely without having some corpses or skeletons attached to it. These
gibbets, which were called _fourches patibulaires_ or _justices_, because
they represented the authority of the law, were generally composed of
pillars of stone, joined at their summit by wooden traverses, to which the
bodies of criminals were tied by ropes or chains. The gallows, the pillars
of which varied in number according to the will of the authorities, were
always placed by the side of frequented roads, and on an eminence.

[Illustration: Fig. 349.--The Gibbet of Montfaucon.--From an Engraving of
the Topography of Paris, in the Collection of Engravings of the National

According to prescribed rule, the gallows of Paris, which played such an
important part in the political as well as the criminal history of that
city, were erected on a height north of the town, near the high road
leading into Germany. Montfaucon, originally the name of the hill, soon
became that of the gallows itself. This celebrated place of execution
consisted of a heavy mass of masonry, composed of ten or twelve layers of
rough stones, and formed an enclosure of forty feet by twenty-five or
thirty. At the upper part there was a platform, which was reached by a
stone staircase, the entrance to which was closed by a massive door (Fig.
349). On three sides of this platform rested sixteen square pillars, about
thirty feet high, made of blocks of stone a foot thick. These pillars were
joined to one another by double bars of wood, which were fastened into
them, and bore iron chains three feet and a half long, to which the
criminals were suspended. Underneath, half-way between these and the
platform, other bars were placed for the same purpose. Long and solid
ladders riveted to the pillars enabled the executioner and his assistants
to lead up criminals, or to carry up corpses destined to be hung there.
Lastly, the centre of the structure was occupied by a deep pit, the
hideous receptacle of the decaying remains of the criminals.

One can easily imagine the strange and melancholy aspect of this
monumental gibbet if one thinks of the number of corpses continually
attached to it, and which were feasted upon by thousands of crows. On one
occasion only it was necessary to replace _fifty-two_ chains, which were
useless; and the accounts of the city of Paris prove that the expense of
executions was more heavy than that of the maintenance of the gibbet, a
fact easy to be understood if one recalls to mind the frequency of capital
sentences during the Middle Ages. Montfaucon was used not only for
executions, but also for exposing corpses which were brought there from
various places of execution in every part of the country. The mutilated
remains of criminals who had been boiled, quartered, or beheaded, were
also hung there, enclosed in sacks of leather or wickerwork. They often
remained hanging for a considerable time, as in the case of Pierre des
Essarts, who had been beheaded in 1413, and whose remains were handed over
to his family for Christian burial after having hung on Montfaucon for
three years.

The criminal condemned to be hanged was generally taken to the place of
execution sitting or standing in a waggon, with his back to the horses,
his confessor by his side, and the executioner behind him. He bore three
ropes round his neck; two the size of the little finger, and called
_tortouses_, each of which had a slip-knot; the third, called the _jet_,
was only used to pull the victim off the ladder, and so to launch him into
eternity (Fig. 350). When the cart arrived at the foot of the gallows, the
executioner first ascended the ladder backwards, drawing the culprit after
him by means of the ropes, and forcing him to keep pace with him; on
arriving at the top, he quickly fastened the two _tortouses_ to the arm of
the gibbet, and by a jerk of his knee he turned the culprit off the
ladder, still holding the _jet_ in his own hand. He then placed his feet
on the tied hands of the condemned, and suspending himself by his hands to
the gibbet, he finished off his victim by repeated jerks, thus ensuring
complete strangulation.

When the words "shall be hung until death doth ensue" are to be found in
a sentence, it must not be supposed that they were used merely as a form,
for in certain cases the judge ordered that the sentence should be only
carried out as far as would prove to the culprit the awful sensation of
hanging. In such cases, the victim was simply suspended by ropes passing
under the arm-pits, a kind of exhibition which was not free from danger
when it was too prolonged, for the weight of the body so tightened the
rope round the chest that the circulation might be stopped. Many culprits,
after hanging thus an hour, when brought down, were dead, or only survived
this painful process a short time.

[Illustration: Fig. 350.--Hanging to Music. (A Minstrel condemned to the
Gallows obtained permission that one of his companions should accompany
him to his execution, and play his favourite instrument on the ladder of
the Gallows.)--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Michault's "Doctrinal du Temps
Présent:" small folio, goth., Bruges, about 1490.]

We have seen elsewhere (chapter on _Privileges and Rights, Feudal and
Municipal_) that, when the criminal passed before the convent of the
_Filles-Dieu_, the nuns of that establishment were bound to bring him out
a glass of wine and three pieces of bread, and this was called _le dernier
morceau des patients._ It was hardly ever refused, and an immense crowd
assisted at this sad meal. After this the procession went forward, and on
arriving near the gallows, another halt was made at the foot of a stone
cross, in order that the culprit might receive the religions exhortations
of his confessor. The moment the execution was over, the confessor and
the officers of justice returned to the Châtelet, where a repast provided
by the town awaited them.

[Illustration: Fig. 351.--View of the Pillory in the Market-place of Paris
in the Sixteenth Century, after a Drawing by an unknown Artist of 1670.]

Sometimes the criminals, in consequence of a peculiar wording of the
sentence, were taken to Montfaucon, whether dead or alive, on a ladder
fastened behind a cart. This was an aggravation of the penalty, which was
called _traîner sur la claie_.

The penalty of the lash was inflicted in two ways: first, under the
_custode_, that is to say within the prison, and by the hand of the gaoler
himself, in which case it was simply a correction; and secondly, in
public, when its administration became ignominious as well as painful. In
the latter case the criminal was paraded about the town, stripped to the
waist, and at each crossway he received a certain number of blows on the
shoulders, given by the public executioner with a cane or a knotted rope.

When it was only required to stamp a culprit with infamy he was put into
the _pillory_, which was generally a kind of scaffold furnished with
chains and iron collars, and bearing on its front the arms of the feudal
lord. In Paris, this name was given to a round isolated tower built in the
centre of the market. The tower was sixty feet high, and had large
openings in its thick walls, and a horizontal wheel was provided, which
was capable of turning on a pivot. This wheel was pierced with several
holes, made so as to hold the hands and head of the culprit, who, on
passing and repassing before the eyes of the crowd, came in full view, and
was subjected to their hootings (Fig. 351). The pillories were always
situated in the most frequented places, such as markets, crossways, &c.

Notwithstanding the long and dreadful enumeration we have just made of
mediæval punishments, we are far from having exhausted the subject; for we
have not spoken of several more or less atrocious punishments, which were
in use at various times and in various countries; such as the _Pain of the
Cross_, specially employed against the Jews; the _Arquebusade_, which was
well adapted for carrying out prompt justice on soldiers; the
_Chatouillement_, which resulted in death after the most intense tortures;
the _Pal_ (Fig. 352), _flaying alive_, and, lastly, _drowning_, a kind of
death frequently employed in France. Hence the common expression, _gens de
sac et de corde_, which was derived from the sack into which persons were
tied who were condemned to die by immersion.... But we will now turn away
from these horrible scenes, and consider the several methods of penal
sequestration and prison arrangements.

It is unnecessary to state that in barbarous times the cruel and pitiless
feeling which induced legislators to increase the horrors of tortures,
also contributed to the aggravation of the fate of prisoners. Each
administrator of the law had his private gaol, which was entirely under
his will and control (Fig. 353). Law or custom did not prescribe any
fixed rules for the internal government of prisons. There can be little
doubt, however, that these prisons were as small as they were unhealthy,
if we may judge from that in the Rue de la Tannerie, which was the
property of the provost, the merchants, and the aldermen of Paris in 1383.
Although this dungeon was only eleven feet long by seven feet wide, from
ten to twenty prisoners were often immured in it at the same time.

[Illustration: Fig. 352.--Empalement.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Paris alone contained twenty-five or thirty special prisons, without
counting the _vade in pace_ of the various religious communities. The most
important were the Grand Châtelet, the Petit Châtelet, the Bastille, the
Conciergerie, and the For-l'Evêque, the ancient seat of the ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris. Nearly all these places of
confinement contained subterranean cells, which were almost entirely
deprived of air and light. As examples of these may be mentioned the
_Chartres basses_ of the Petit Châtelet, where, under the reign of Charles
VI., it was proved that no man could pass an entire day without being
suffocated; and the fearful cells excavated thirty feet below the surface
of the earth, in the gaol of the Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés, the roof
of which was so low that a man of middle height could not stand up in
them, and where the straw of the prisoners' beds floated upon the stagnant
water which had oozed through the walls.

[Illustration: Fig. 353.--The Provost's Prison.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in J. Damhoudère's "Praxis Rerum Civilium."]

The Grand Châtelet was one of the most ancient prisons of Paris, and
probably the one which held the greatest number of prisoners. By a curious
and arbitrary custom, prisoners were compelled to pay a gaol fee on
entering and going out of this prison, which varied according to their
rank, and which was established by a law of the year 1425. We learn from
this enactment the names by which the various places of confinement
composing this spacious municipal prison were known. A prisoner who was
confined in the _Beauvoir, La Mate_ or _La Salle_, had the right of
"having a bed brought from his own house," and only had to pay the _droit
de place_ to the gaoler; any one who was placed in the _Boucherie_, in the
_Beaumont_, or in the _Griseche_, "which are closed prisons," had to pay
four deniers "_pour place_;" any one who was confined in the _Beauvais_,
"lies on mats or on layers of rushes or straw" (_gist sur nates ou sur
couche de feurre ou de paille_); if he preferred, he might be placed _au
Puis_, in the _Gourdaine_, in the _Bercueil_, or in the _Oubliette_, where
he did not pay more than in the _Fosse_. For this, no doubt, the smallest
charge was made. Sometimes, however, the prisoner was left between two
doors ("_entre deux huis_"), and he then paid much less than he would in
the _Barbarie_ or in the _Gloriette_. The exact meaning of these curious
names is no longer intelligible to us, notwithstanding the terror which
they formerly created, but their very strangeness gives us reason to
suppose that the prison system was at that time subjected to the most
odious refinement of the basest cruelty.

From various reliable sources we learn that there was a place in the Grand
Châtelet, called the _Chausse d'Hypocras_, in which the prisoners had
their feet continually in water, and where they could neither stand up nor
lie down; and a cell, called _Fin d'aise_, which was a horrible receptacle
of filth, vermin, and reptiles; as to the _Fosse_, no staircase being
attached to it, the prisoners were lowered down into it by means of a rope
and pulley.

By the law of 1425, the gaoler was not permitted to put more than _two or
three_ persons in the same bed. He was bound to give "bread and water" to
the poor prisoners who had no means of subsistence; and, lastly, he was
enjoined "to keep the large stone basin, which was on the pavement, full
of water, so that prisoners might get it whenever they wished." In order
to defray his expenses, he levied on the prisoners various charges for
attendance and for bedding, and he was authorised to detain in prison any
person who failed to pay him. The power of compelling payment of these
charges continued even after a judge's order for the release of a prisoner
had been issued.

[Illustration: Fig. 354.--The Bastille.--From an ancient Engraving of the
Topography of Paris, in the Collection of Engravings of the National

The subterranean cells of the Bastille (Fig. 354) did not differ much from
those of the Châtelet. There were several, the bottoms of which were
formed like a sugar-loaf upside down, thus neither allowing the prisoner
to stand up, nor even to adopt a tolerable position sitting or lying down.
It was in these that King Louis XI., who seemed to have a partiality for
filthy dungeons, placed the two young sons of the Duke de Nemours
(beheaded in 1477), ordering, besides, that they should be taken out twice
a week and beaten with birch rods, and, as a supreme measure of atrocity,
he had one of their teeth extracted every three months. It was Louis XI.,
too, who, in 1476, ordered the famous _iron cage_, to be erected in one of
the towers of the Bastille, in which Guillaume, Bishop of Verdun, was
incarcerated for fourteen years.

The Château de Loches also possessed one of these cages, which received
the name of _Cage de Balue_, because the Cardinal Jean de la Balue was
imprisoned in it. Philippe de Commines, in his "Mémoires," declares that
he himself had a taste of it for eight months. Before the invention of
cages, Louis XI. ordered very heavy chains to be made, which were fastened
to the feet of the prisoners, and attached to large iron balls, called,
according to Commines, the King's little daughters (_les fillettes du

[Illustration: Fig. 355.--Movable Iron Cage.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, in folio, Basle, 1552.]

The prison known by the name of The Leads of Venice is of so notorious a
character that its mere mention is sufficient, without its being necessary
for us to describe it. To the subject of voluntary seclusions, to which
certain pious persons submitted themselves as acts of extreme religious
devotion, it will only be necessary to allude here, and to remark that
there are examples of this confinement having been ordered by legal
authority. In 1485, Renée de Vermandois, the widow of a squire, had been
condemned to be burnt for adultery and for murdering her husband; but, on
letters of remission from the King, Parliament commuted the sentence
pronounced by the Provost of Paris, and ordered that Renée de Vermandois
should be "shut up within the walls of the cemetery of the
Saints-Innocents, in a small house, built at her expense, that she might
therein do penance and end her days." In conformity with this sentence,
the culprit having been conducted with much pomp to the cell which had
been prepared for her, the door was locked by means of two keys, one of
which remained in the hands of the churchwarden (_marguillier_) of the
Church of the Innocents, and the other was deposited at the office of the
Parliament. The prisoner received her food from public charity, and it is
said that she became an object of veneration and respect by the whole

[Illustration: Fig. 356.--Cat-o'-nine-tails.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster.]


  Dispersion of the Jews.--Jewish Quarters in the Mediæval Towns.--The
  _Ghetto_ of Rome.--Ancient Prague.--The _Giudecca_ of Venice.--Condition
  of the Jews.--Animosity of the People against them--Severity and
  vexatious Treatment of the Sovereigns.--The Jews of Lincoln.--The Jews
  of Blois.--Mission of the _Pastoureaux_.--Extermination of the
  Jews.--The Price at which the Jews purchased Indulgences.--Marks set
  upon them.--Wealth, Knowledge, Industry, and Financial Aptitude of the
  Jews.--Regulations respecting Usury as practised by the
  Jews.--Attachment of the Jews to their Religion.

A painful and gloomy history commences for the Jewish race from the day
when the Romans seized upon Jerusalem and expelled its unfortunate
inhabitants, a race so essentially homogeneous, strong, patient, and
religious, and dating its origin from the remotest period of the
patriarchal ages. The Jews, proud of the title of "the People of God,"
were scattered, proscribed, and received universal reprobation (Fig. 357),
notwithstanding that their annals, collected under divine inspiration by
Moses and the sacred writers, had furnished a glorious prologue to the
annals of all modern nations, and had given to the world the holy and
divine history of Christ, who, by establishing the Gospel, was to become
the regenerator of the whole human family.

Their Temple is destroyed, and the crowd which had once pressed beneath
its portico as the flock of the living God has become a miserable tribe,
restless and unquiet in the present, but full of hope as regards the
future. The Jewish _nation_ exists nowhere, nevertheless, the Jewish
_people_ are to be found everywhere. They are wanderers upon the face of
the earth, continually pursued, threatened, and persecuted. It would seem
as if the existence of the offspring of Israel is perpetuated simply to
present to Christian eyes a clear and awful warning of the Divine
vengeance, a special, and at the same time an overwhelming example of the
vicissitudes which God alone can determine in the life of a people.

[Illustration: Fig. 357.--Expulsion of the Jews in the Reign of the
Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 135): "How Heraclius turned the Jews out of
Jerusalem."--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Histoire des Empereurs,"
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the Library of the Arsenal,

M. Depping, an historian of this race so long accursed, after having been
for centuries blessed and favoured by God, says, "A Jewish community in an
European town during the Middle Ages resembled a colony on an island or on
a distant coast. Isolated from the rest of the population, it generally
occupied a district or street which was separated from the town or
borough. The Jews, like a troop of lepers, were thrust away and huddled
together into the most uncomfortable and most unhealthy quarter of the
city, as miserable as it vas disgusting. There, in ill-constructed houses,
this poor and numerous population was amassed; in some cases high walls
enclosed the small and dark narrow streets of the quarter occupied by this
branded race, which prevented its extension, though, at the same time, it
often protected the inhabitants from the fury of the populace."

In order to form a just appreciation of what the Jewish quarters were like
in the mediæval towns, one must visit the _Ghetto_ of Rome or ancient
Prague. The latter place especially has, in all respects, preserved its
antique appearance. We must picture to ourselves a large enclosure of
wretched houses, irregularly built, divided by small streets with no
attempt at uniformity. The principal thoroughfare is lined with stalls, in
which are sold not only old clothes, furniture, and utensils, but also new
and glittering articles. The inhabitants of this enclosure can, without
crossing its limits, procure everything necessary to material life. This
quarter contains the old synagogue, a square building begrimed with the
dirt of ages, and so covered with dirt and moss that the stone of which it
is built is scarcely visible. The building, which is as mournful as a
prison, has only narrow loopholes by way of windows, and a door so low
that one must stoop to enter it. A dark passage leads to the interior,
into which air and light can scarcely penetrate. A few lamps contend with
the darkness, and lighted fires serve to modify a little the icy
temperature of this cellar. Here and there pillars seem to support a roof
which is too high and too darkened for the eye of the visitor to
distinguish. On the sides are dark and damp recesses, where women assist
at the celebration of worship, which is always carried on, according to
ancient custom, with much wailing and strange gestures of the body. The
book of the law which is in use is no less venerable than the edifice in
which it is contained. It appears that this synagogue has never undergone
the slightest repairs or changes for many centuries. The successive
generations who have prayed in this ancient temple rest under thousands
of sepulchral stones, in a cemetery which is of the same date as the
synagogue, and is about a league in circumference.

Paris has never possessed, properly speaking, a regular _Jewish quarter_;
it is true that the Israelites settled down in the neighbourhood of the
markets, and in certain narrow streets, which at some period or other took
the name of _Juiverie_ or _Vieille Juiverie (Old Jewry_); but they were
never distinct from the rest of the population; they only had a separate
cemetery, at the bottom or rather on the slope of the hill of
Sainte-Geneviève. On the other hand, most of the towns of France and of
Europe had their _Jewry_. In certain countries, the colonies of Jews
enjoyed a share of immunities and protections, thus rendering their life a
little less precarious, and their occupations of a rather more settled

In Spain and in Portugal, the Jews, in consequence of their having been on
several occasions useful to the kings of those two countries, were allowed
to carry on their trade, and to engage in money speculations, outside
their own quarters; a few were elevated to positions of responsibility,
and some were even tolerated at court.

In the southern towns of France, which they enriched by commerce and
taxes, and where they formed considerable communities, the Jews enjoyed
the protection of the nobles. We find them in Languedoc and Provence
buying and selling property like Christians, a privilege which was not
permitted to them elsewhere: this is proved by charters of contracts made
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which bear the signature of
certain Jews in Hebrew characters. On Papal lands, at Avignon, at
Carpentras, and at Cavaillon, they had _bailes_, or consuls of their
nation. The Jews of Rousillon during the Spanish rule (fifteenth century)
were governed by two syndics and a scribe, elected by the community. The
latter levied the taxes due to the King of Aragon. In Burgundy they
cultivated the vines, which was rather singular, for the Jews generally
preferred towns where they could form groups more compact, and more
capable of mutual assistance. The name of _Sabath_, given to a vineyard in
the neighbourhood of Mâcon, still points out the position of their
synagogue. The hamlet of _Mouys_, a dependency of the communes of Prissey,
owes its name to a rich Israelite, Moses, who had received that land as an
indemnity for money lent to the Count Gerfroy de Mâcon, which the latter
had been unable to repay. In Vienna, where the Israelites had a special
quarter, still called _the Jews'_

[Illustration: Fig. 358.--Jews taking the Blood from Christian Children,
for their Mystic Rites.--From a Pen-and-ink Drawing, illuminated, in the
Book of the Cabala of Abraham the Jew (Library of the Arsenal, Paris).]

_Square_, a special judge named by the duke was set over them. Exempted
from the city rates, they paid a special poil tax, and they contributed,
but on the same footing as Christian vassals, to extraordinary rates, war
taxes, and travelling expenses of the nobles, &c. This community even
became so rich that it eventually held mortgages on the greater part of
the houses of the town.

In Venice also, the Jews had their quarter--the _Giudecca_--which is still
one of the darkest in the town; but they did not much care about such
trifling inconveniences, as the republic allowed them to bank, that is, to
lend money at interest; and although they were driven out on several
occasions, they always found means to return and recommence their
operations. When they were authorised to establish themselves in the towns
of the Adriatic, their presence did not fail to annoy the Christian
merchants, whose rivals they were; but neither in Venice nor in the
Italian republics had they to fear court intrigues, nor the hatred of
corporations of trades, which were so powerful in France and in Germany.

It was in the north of Europe that the animosity against the Jews was
greatest. The Christian population continually threatened the Jewish
quarters, which public opinion pointed to as haunts and sinks of iniquity.
The Jews were believed to be much more amenable to the doctrines of the
Talmud than to the laws of Moses. However secret they may have kept their
learning, a portion of its tenets transpired, which was supposed to
inculcate the right to pillage and murder Christians; and it is to the
vague knowledge of these odious prescriptions of the Talmud that we must
attribute the readiness with which the most atrocious accusations against
the Jews were always welcomed.

Besides this, the public mind in those days of bigotry was naturally
filled with a deep antipathy against the Jewish deicides. When monks and
priests came annually in Holy week to relate from the pulpit to their
hearers the revolting details of the Passion, resentment was kindled in
the hearts of the Christians against the descendants of the judges and
executioners of the Saviour. And when, on going out of the churches,
excited by the sermons they had just heard, the faithful saw in pictures,
in the cemeteries, and elsewhere, representations of the mystery of the
death of our Saviour, in which the Jews played so odious a part, there was
scarcely a spectator who did not feel an increased hatred against the
condemned race. Hence it was that in many towns, even when the authorities
did not compel them to do so, the Israelites found it prudent to shut
themselves up in their own quarter, and even in their own houses, during
the whole of Passion week; for, in consequence of the public feeling
roused during those days of mourning and penance, a false rumour was quite
sufficient to give the people a pretext for offering violence to the Jews.

In fact, from the earliest days of Christianity, a certain number of
accusations were always being made, sometimes in one country, sometimes in
another, against the Israelites, which always ended in bringing down the
same misfortunes on their heads. The most common, and most easily credited
report, was that which attributed to them the murder of some Christian
child, said to be sacrificed in Passion week in token of their hatred of
Christ; and in the event of this terrible accusation being once uttered,
and maintained by popular opinion, it never failed to spread with
remarkable swiftness. In such cases, popular fury, not being on all
occasions satisfied with the tardiness of judicial forms, vented itself
upon the first Jews who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of their
enemies. As soon as the disturbance was heard the Jewish quarter was
closed; fathers and mothers barricaded themselves in with their children,
concealed whatever riches they possessed, and listened tremblingly to the
clamour of the multitude which was about to besiege them.

[Illustration: Fig. 359.--Secret Meeting of the Jews at the Rabbi's
House.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of the "Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine,"
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century, in the National Library of Paris.]

In 1255, in Lincoln, the report was suddenly spread that a child of the
name of Hughes had been enticed into the Jewish quarter, and there
scourged, crucified, and pierced with lances, in the presence of all the
Israelites of the district, who were convoked and assembled to take part
in this horrible barbarity. The King and Queen of England, on their return
from a journey to Scotland, arrived in Lincoln at the very time when the
inhabitants were so much agitated by this mysterious announcement. The
people called for vengeance. An order was issued to the bailiffs and
officers of the King to deliver the murderer into the hands of justice,
and the quarter in which the Jews had shut themselves up, so as to avoid
the public animosity, was immediately invaded by armed men. The rabbi, in
whose house the child was supposed to have been tortured, was seized, and
at once condemned to be tied to the tail of a horse, and dragged through
the streets of the town. After this, his mangled body, which was only half
dead, was hung (Fig. 359). Many of the Jews ran away and hid themselves in
all parts of the kingdom, and those who had the misfortune to be caught
were thrown into chains and led to London. Orders were given in the
provinces to imprison all the Israelites who were accused or even
suspected of having taken any part, whether actively or indirectly, in the
murder of the Lincoln child; and suspicion made rapid strides in those
days. In a short space of time, eighteen Israelites in London shared the
fate of the rabbi of their community in Lincoln. Some Dominican monks, who
were charitable and courageous enough to interfere in favour of the
wretched prisoners, brought down odium on their own heads, and were
accused of having allowed themselves to be corrupted by the money of the
Jews. Seventy-one prisoners were retained in the dungeons of London, and
seemed inevitably fated to die, when the king's brother, Richard, came to
their aid, by asserting his right over all the Jews of the kingdom--a
right which the King had pledged to him for a loan of 5,000 silver marks.
The unfortunate prisoners were therefore saved, thanks to Richard's desire
to protect his securities. History does not tell what their liberty cost
them; but we must hope that a sense of justice alone guided the English
prince, and that the Jews found other means besides money by which to show
their gratitude.

There is scarcely a country in Europe which cannot recount similar tales.
In 1171, we find the murder of a child at Orleans, or Blois, causing
capital punishment to be inflicted on several Jews. Imputations of this
horrible character were continually renewed during the Middle Ages, and
were of very ancient origin; for we hear of them in the times of Honorius
and Theodosius the younger; we find them reproduced with equal vehemence
in 1475 at Trent, where a furious mob was excited against the Jews, who
were accused of having destroyed a child twenty-nine months old named
Simon. The tale of the martyrdom of this child was circulated widely, and
woodcut representations of it were freely distributed, which necessarily
increased, especially in Germany, the horror which was aroused in the
minds of Christians against the accursed nation (Fig. 361).

[Illustration: Fig. 360.--The Infant Richard crucified by the Jews, at
Pontoise.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut, with Figures by Wohlgemuth, in the
"Liber Chronicarum Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

[Illustration: Fig. 361.--Martyrdom of Simon at Trent.--Fac-simile,
reduced, of a Woodcut of Wohlgemuth, in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi:"
large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

The Jews gave cause for other accusations calculated to keep up this
hatred; such as the desecration of the consecrated host, the mutilation of
the crucifix. Tradition informs us of a miracle which took place in Paris
in 1290, in the Rue des Jardins, when a Jew dared to mutilate and boil a
consecrated host. This miracle was commemorated by the erection of a
chapel on the spot, which was afterwards replaced by the church and
convent of the Billettes. In 1370, the people of Brussels were startled in
consequence of the statements of a Jewess, who accused her co-religionists
of having made her carry a pyx full of stolen hosts to the Jews of
Cologne, for the purpose of submitting them to the most horrible
profanations. The woman added, that the Jews having pierced these hosts
with sticks and knives, such a quantity of blood poured from them that the
culprits were struck with terror, and concealed themselves in their
quarter. The Jews were all imprisoned, tortured, and burnt alive (Fig.
362). In order to perpetuate the memory of the miracle of the bleeding
hosts, an annual procession took place, which was the origin of the great
kermesse, or annual fair.

In the event of any unforeseen misfortune, or any great catastrophe
occurring amongst Christians, the odium was frequently cast on the Jews.
If the Crusaders met with reverses in Asia, fanatics formed themselves
into bands, who, under the name of _Pastoureaux_, spread over the country,
killing and robbing not only the Jews, but many Christians also. In the
event of any general sickness, and especially during the prevalence of
epidemics, the Jews were accused of having poisoned the water of fountains
and pits, and the people massacred them in consequence. Thousands perished
in this way when the black plague made ravages in Europe in the fourteenth
century. The sovereigns, who were tardy in suppressing these sanguinary
proceedings, never thought of indemnifying the Jewish families which so
unjustly suffered.

[Illustration: Fig. 362.--The Jews of Cologne burnt alive.--From a Woodcut
in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi:" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

In fact, it was then most religiously believed that, by despising and
holding the Jewish nation under the yoke, banished as it was from Judæa
for the murder of Jesus Christ, the will of the Almighty was being carried
out, so much so that the greater number of kings and princes looked upon
themselves as absolute masters over the Jews who lived under their
protection. All feudal lords spoke with scorn of _their Jews_; they
allowed them to establish themselves on their lands, but on the condition
that as they became the subjects and property of their lord, the latter
should draw his best income from them.

We have shown by an instance borrowed from the history of England that the
Jews were often mortgaged by the kings like land. This was not all, for
the Jews who inhabited Great Britain during the reign of Henry III., in
the middle of the thirteenth century, were not only obliged to
acknowledge, by voluntarily contributing large sums of money, the service
the King's brother had rendered them in clearing them from the imputation
of having had any participation in the murder of the child Richard, but
the loan on mortgage, for which they were the material and passive
security, became the cause of odious extortions from them. The King had
pledged them to the Earl of Cornwall for 5,000 marks, but they themselves
had to repay the royal loan by means of enormous taxes. When they had
succeeded in cancelling the King's debt to his brother, that necessitous
monarch again mortgaged them, but on this occasion to his son Edward. Soon
after, the son having rebelled against his father, the latter took back
his Jews, and having assembled six elders from each of their communities,
he told them that he required 20,000 silver marks, and ordered them to pay
him that sum at two stated periods. The payments were rigorously exacted;
those who were behind-hand were imprisoned, and the debtor who was in
arrear for the second payment was sued for the whole sum. On the King's
death his successor continued the same system of tyranny against the Jews.
In 1279 they were charged with having issued counterfeit coin, and on this
vague or imaginary accusation two hundred and eighty men and women were
put to death in London alone. In the counties there were also numerous
executions, and many innocent persons were thrown into dungeons; and, at
last, in 1290 King Edward, who wished to enrich himself by taking
possession of their properties, banished the Jews from his kingdom. A
short time before this, the English people had offered to pay an annual
fine to the King on condition of his expelling the Jews from the country;
but the Jews outbid them, and thus obtained the repeal of the edict of
banishment. However, on this last occasion there was no mercy shown, and
the Jews, sixteen thousand in number, were expelled from England, and the
King seized upon their goods.

At the same period Philippe le Bel of France gave the example of this
system of persecuting the Jews, but, instead of confiscating all their
goods, he was satisfied with taking one-fifth; his subjects, therefore,
almost accused him of generosity.

[Illustration: Fig. 363.--Jewish Conspiracy in France.--From a Miniature
in the "Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine" (Imperial Library, Paris).]

The Jews often took the precaution of purchasing certain rights and
franchises from their sovereign or from the feudal lord under whose sway
they lived; but generally these were one-sided bargains, for not being
protected by common rights, and only forming a very small part of the
population, they could nowhere depend upon promises or privileges which
had been made to them, even though they had purchased them with their own

To the uncertainty and annoyance of a life which was continually being
threatened, was added a number of vexatious and personal insults, even in
ordinary times, and when they enjoyed a kind of normal tolerance. They
were almost everywhere obliged to wear a visible mark on their dress,
such as a patch of gaudy colour attached to the shoulder or chest, in
order to prevent their being mistaken for Christians. By this or some
other means they were continually subject to insults from the people, and
only succeeded in ridding themselves of it by paying the most enormous
fines. Nothing was spared to humiliate and insult them. At Toulouse they
were forced to send a representative to the cathedral on every Good
Friday, that he might there publicly receive a box on the ears. At
Béziers, during Passion week, the mob assumed the right of attacking the
Jews' houses with stones. The Jews bought off this right in 1160 by paying
a certain sum to the Vicomte de Béziers, and by promising an annual
poll-tax to him and to his successors. A Jew, passing on the road of
Etampes, beneath the tower of Montlhéry, had to pay an obole; if he had in
his possession a Hebrew book, he paid four deniers; and, if he carried his
lamp with him, two oboles. At Châteauneuf-sur-Loire a Jew on passing had
to pay twelve deniers and a Jewess six. It has been said that there were
various ancient rates levied upon Jews, in which they were treated like
cattle, but this requires authentication. During the Carnival in Rome they
were forced to run in the lists, amidst the jeers of the populace. This
public outrage was stopped at a subsequent period by a tax of 300 écus,
which a deputation from the Ghetto presented on their knees to the
magistrates of the city, at the same time thanking them for their

When Pope Martin IV. arrived at the Council of Constance, in 1417, the
Jewish community, which was as numerous as it was powerful in that old
city, came in great state to present him with the book of the law (Fig.
364). The holy father received the Jews kindly, and prayed God to open
their eyes and bring them back into the bosom of his church. We know, too,
how charitable the popes were to the Jews.

In the face of the distressing position they occupied, it may be asked
what powerful motive induced the Jews to live amongst nations who almost
invariably treated them as enemies, and to remain at the mercy of
sovereigns whose sole object was to oppress, plunder, and subject them to
all kinds of vexations? To understand this it is sufficient to remember
that, in their peculiar aptness for earning and hoarding money, they
found, or at least hoped to find, a means of compensation whereby they
might be led to forget the servitude to which they were subjected.

There existed amongst them, and especially in the southern countries,
some very learned men, who devoted themselves principally to medicine; and
in order to avoid having to struggle against insuperable prejudice, they
were careful to disguise their nationality and religion in the exercise of
that art.

[Illustration: Fig. 364.--The Jewish Procession going to meet the Pope at
the Council of Constance, in 1417.--After a Miniature in the Manuscript
Chronicle of Ulrie de Reichental, in the Library of the Mansion-house of
Basle, in Switzerland.]

They pretended, in order not to arouse the suspicion of their patients, to
be practitioners from Lombardy or Spain, or even from Arabia; whether they
were really clever, or only made a pretence of being so, in an art which
was then very much a compound of quackery and imposture, it is difficult
to say, but they acquired wealth as well as renown in its practice. But
there was another science, to the study of which they applied themselves
with the utmost ardour and perseverance, and for which they possessed in a
marvellous degree the necessary qualities to insure success, and that
science was the science of finance. In matters having reference to the
recovering of arrears of taxes, to contracts for the sale of goods and
produce of industry, to turning a royalty to account, to making hazardous
commercial enterprises lucrative, or to the accumulating of large sums of
money for the use of sovereigns or poor nobles, the Jews were always at
hand, and might invariably be reckoned upon. They created capital, for
they always had funds to dispose of, even in the midst of the most
terrible public calamities, and, when all other means were exhausted, when
all expedients for filling empty purses had been resorted to without
success, the Jews were called in. Often, in consequence of the envy which
they excited from being known to possess hoards of gold, they were exposed
to many dangers, which they nevertheless faced, buoying themselves up with
the insatiable love of gain.

Few Christians in the Middle Ages were given to speculation, and they were
especially ignorant of financial matters, as demanding interest on loans
was almost always looked upon as usury, and, consequently, such dealings
were stigmatized as disgraceful. The Jews were far from sharing these
high-minded scruples, and they took advantage of the ignorance of
Christians by devoting themselves as much as possible to enterprises and
speculations, which were at all times the distinguishing occupation of
their race. For this reason we find the Jews, who were engaged in the
export trade from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, doing a most
excellent business, even in the commercial towns of the Mediterranean. We
can, to a certain extent, in speaking of the intercourse of the Jews with
the Christians of the Middle Ages, apply what Lady Montague remarked as
late as 1717, when comparing the Jews of Turkey with the Mussulmans: "The
former," she says, "have monopolized all the commerce of the empire,
thanks to the close ties which exist amongst them, and to the laziness and
want of industry of the Turks. No bargain is made without their
connivance. They are the physicians and stewards of all the nobility. It
is easy to conceive the unity which this gives to a nation which never
despises the smallest profits. They have found means of rendering
themselves so useful, that they are certain of protection at court,
whoever the ruling minister may be. Many of them are enormously rich, but
they are careful to make but little outward display, although living in
the greatest possible luxury."

[Illustration: Fig. 365.--Costume of an Italian Jew of the Fourteenth
Century.--From a Painting by Sano di Pietro, preserved in the Academy of
the Fine Arts, at Sienna.]

[Illustration: The Jews' Passover.

Fac-simile of a miniature from a missel of fifteenth century ornamented
with paintings of the School of Van Eyck. Bibl. de l'Arsenal, Th. lat., no

The condition of the Jews in the East was never so precarious nor so
difficult as it was in the West. From the Councils of Paris, in 615, down
to the end of the fifteenth century, the nobles and the civil and
ecclesiastical authorities excluded the Jews from administrative
positions; but it continually happened that a positive want of money,
against which the Jews were ever ready to provide, caused a repeal or
modification of these arbitrary measures. Moreover, Christians did not
feel any scruple in parting with their most valued treasures, and giving
them as pledges to the Jews for a loan of money when they were in need of
it. This plan of lending on pledge, or usury, belonged specially to the
Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages, and was both the cause of their
prosperity and of their misfortune. Of their prosperity, because they
cleverly contrived to become possessors of all the coin; and of their
misfortune, because their usurious demands became so detrimental to the
public welfare, and were often exacted with such unscrupulous severity,
that people not unfrequently became exasperated, and acts of violence were
committed, which as often fell upon the innocent as upon the guilty. The
greater number of the acts of banishment were those for which no other
motive was assigned, or, at all events, no other pretext was made, than
the usury practised by these strangers in the provinces and in the towns
in which they were permitted to reside. When the Christians heard that
these rapacious guests had harshly pressed and entirely stripped certain
poor debtors, when they learned that the debtors, ruined by usury, were
still kept prisoners in the house of their pitiless creditors, general
indignation often manifested itself by personal attacks. This feeling was
frequently shared by the authorities themselves, who, instead of
dispensing equal justice to the strangers and to the citizens, according
to the spirit of the law, often decided with partiality, and even with
resentment, and in some cases abandoned the Jews to the fury of the

The people's feelings of hatred against the sordid avarice of the Jews was
continually kept up by ballads which were sung, and legends which were
related, in the public streets of the cities and in the cottages of the
villages--ballads and legends in which usurers were depicted in hideous
colours (Fig. 366). The most celebrated of these popular compositions was
evidently that which must have furnished the idea to Shakespeare of the
_Merchant of Venice_, for in this old English drama mention is made of a
bargain struck between a Jew and a Christian, who borrows money of him, on
condition that, if he cannot refund it on a certain day, the lender shall
have the right of cutting a pound of flesh from his body. All the evil
which the people said and thought of the Jews during the Middle Ages seems
concentrated in the Shylock of the English poet.

The rate of interest for loans was, nevertheless, everywhere settled by
law, and at all times. This rate varied according to the scarcity of
gold, and was always high enough to give a very ample profit to the
lenders, although they too often required a very much higher rate. In
truth, the small security offered by those borrowing, and the arbitrary
manner in which debts were at times cancelled, increased the risks of the
lender and the normal difficulties of obtaining a loan. We find
everywhere, in all ancient legislations, a mass of rules on the rate of
pecuniary interest to be allowed to the Jews.

[Illustration: Fig. 366.--Legend of the Jew calling the Devil from a
Vessel of Blood.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in Boaistuau's "Histoires
Prodigieuses:" in 4to, Paris, Annet Briere, 1560.]

In some countries, especially in England, precautionary measures were
taken for regulating the compacts entered into between Christians and
Jews. One of the departments of the Exchequer received the register of
these compacts, which thus acquired a legal value. However, it was not
unfrequent for the kings of England to grant, of their own free will,
letters of release to persons owing money to Jews; and these letters,
which were often equivalent to the cancelling of the entire debt, were
even at times actually purchased from the sovereign. Mention of sums
received by the royal treasury for the liberation of debtors, or for
enabling them to recover their mortgaged lands without payment, may still
be found in the registers of the Exchequer of London; at the same time,
Jews, on the other hand, also paid the King large sums, in order that he
might allow justice to take its course against powerful debtors who were
in arrear, and who could not be induced to pay. We thus see that if the
Jews practised usury, the Christians, and especially kings and powerful
nobles, defrauded the Jews in every way, and were too often disposed to
sell to them the smallest concessions at a great price. Indeed, Christians
often went so far as to persecute them, in order to obtain the greatest
possible amount from them; and the Jews of the Middle Ages put up with
anything provided they could enrich themselves.

[Illustration: Fig. 367.--View and Plan of Jerusalem.--Fac-simile of a
Woodout in the "Liber Chronicarum Mundi" large folio, Nuremberg, 1493.]

It must not be supposed, however, that, great as were their capabilities,
the Jews exclusively devoted themselves to financial matters. When they
were permitted to trade they were well satisfied to become artisans or
agriculturists. In Spain they proved themselves most industrious, and that
kingdom suffered a great loss in consequence of their being expelled from
it. In whatever country they established themselves, the Jews carried on
most of the mechanical and manual industries with cleverness and success;
but they could not hope to become landed proprietors in countries where
they were in such bad odour, and where the possession of land, far from
offering them any security, could not fail to excite the envy of their

If, as is the case, Oriental people are of a serious turn of mind, it is
easy to understand that the Jews should have been still more so, since
they were always objects of hatred and abhorrence. We find a touching
allegory in the Talmud. Each time that a human being is created God orders
his angels to bring a soul before his throne, and orders this soul to go
and inhabit the body which is about to be born on earth. The soul is
grieved, and supplicates the Supreme Being to spare it that painful trial,
in which it only sees sorrow and affliction. This allegory may be suitably
applied to a people who have only to expect contempt, mistrust, and
hatred, everywhere. The Israelites, therefore, clung enthusiastically to
the hope of the advent of a Messiah who should bring back to them the
happy days of the land of promise, and they looked upon their absence from
Palestine as only a passing exile. "But," the Christians said to them,
"this Messiah has long since come." "Alas!" they answered, "if He had
appeared on earth should we still be miserable?" Fulbert, Bishop of
Chartres, preached three sermons to undeceive the Jews, by endeavouring to
prove to them that their Messiah was no other than Jesus Christ; but he
preached to the winds, for the Jews remained obstinately attached to their
illusion that the Messiah was yet to come.

In any case, the Jews, who mixed up the mysteries and absurdities of the
Talmud with the ancient laws and numerous rules of the religion of their
ancestors, found in the practice of their national customs, and in the
celebration of their mysterious ceremonies, the sweetest emotions,
especially when they could devote themselves to them in the peaceful
retirement of the Ghetto; for, in all the countries in which they lived
scattered and isolated amongst Christians, they were careful to conceal
their worship and to conduct their ceremonial as secretly as possible.

The clergy, in striving to convert the Jews, repeatedly had conferences
with the rabbis of a controversial character, which often led to quarrels,
and aggravated the lot of the Jewish community. If Catholic proselystism
succeeded in completely detaching a few individuals or a few families from
the Israelitish creed, these ardent converts rekindled the horror of the
people against their former co-religionists by revealing some of the
precepts of the Talmud. Sometimes the conversion of whole masses of Jews
was effected, but this happened much less through conviction on their part
than through the fear of exile, plunder, or execution.

These pretended conversions, however, did not always protect them from
danger. In Spain the Inquisition kept a close watch on converted Jews,
and, if they were not true to their new faith, severe punishment was
inflicted upon them. In 1506, the inhabitants of Abrantès, a town of
Portugal, massacred all the baptized Jews. Manoël, a king of Portugal,
forbad the converts from selling their goods and leaving his dominions.
The Church excluded them from ecclesiastical dignities, and, when they
succeeded in obtaining civil employments, they were received with
distrust. In France the Parliaments tried, with a show of justice, to
prevent converted Jews from being reproached for their former condition;
but Louis XII., during his pressing wants, did not scruple to exact a
special tax from them. And, in 1611, we again find that they were unjustly
denounced, and under the form of a _Remonstrance to the King and the
Parliament of Provence, on account of the great family alliances of the
new converts_, an appeal was made for the most cruel reprisals against
this unfortunate race, "which deserved only to be banished and their goods

[Illustration: Fig. 368.--Jewish Ceremony before the Ark.--Fac-simile of a woodcut
printed at Troyes.]

Gipsies, Tramps, Beggars, and Cours des Miracles.

  First Appearance of Gipsies in the West.--Gipsies in Paris.--Manners and
  Customs of these Wandering Tribes.--Tricks of Captain Charles.--Gipsies
  expelled by Royal Edict.--Language of Gipsies.--The Kingdom of
  Slang.--The Great Coesre, Chief of the Vagrants; his Vassals and
  Subjects.--Divisions of the Slang People; its Decay and the Causes
  thereof.--Cours des Miracles.--The Camp of Rognes.--Cunning Language, or
  Slang.--Foreign Rogues, Thieves, and Pickpockets.

In the year 1417 the inhabitants of the countries situated near the mouth
of the Elbe were disturbed by the arrival of strangers, whose manners and
appearance were far from pre-possessing. These strange travellers took a
course thence towards the Teutonic Hanse, starting from Luneburg: they
subsequently proceeded to Hamburg, and then, going from east to west along
the Baltic, they visited the free towns of Lubeck, Wismar, Rostock,
Stralsund, and Greifswald.

These new visitors, known in Europe under the names of _Zingari, Cigani,
Gipsies, Gitanos, Egyptians_, or _Bohemians_, but who, in their own
language, called themselves _Romi_, or _gens mariés_, numbered about three
hundred men and women, besides the children, who were very numerous. They
divided themselves into seven bands, all of which followed the same track.
Very dirty, excessively ugly, and remarkable for their dark complexions,
these people had for their leaders a duke and a count, as they were
called, who were superbly dressed, and to whom they acknowledged
allegiance. Some of them rode on horseback, whilst others went on foot.
The women and children travelled on beasts of burden and in waggons (Fig.
369). If we are to believe their own story, their wandering life was
caused by their return to Paganism after having been previously converted
to the Christian faith, and, as a punishment for their sin, they were to
continue their adventurous course for a period of seven years. They showed
letters of recommendation from various princes, among others from
Sigismund, King of the Romans, and these letters, whether authentic or
false, procured for them a welcome wherever they went. They encamped in
the fields at night, because the habit they indulged in of stealing
everything for which they had a fancy, caused them to fear being disturbed
in the towns. It was not long, however, before many of them were arrested
and put to death for theft, when the rest speedily decamped.

[Illustration: Fig. 369.--Gipsies on the March.--Fifteenth Century Piece
of old Tapestry in the Château d'Effiat, contributed by M.A. Jubinal.]

In the course of the following year we find them at Meissen, in Saxony,
whence they were driven out on account of the robberies and disturbances
they committed; and then in Switzerland, where they passed through the
countries of the Grisons, the cantons of Appenzell, and Zurich, stopping
in Argovie. Chroniclers who mention them at that time speak of their
chief, Michel, as Duke of Egypt, and relate that these strangers, calling
themselves Egyptians, pretended that they were driven from their country
by the Sultan of Turkey, and condemned to wander for seven years in want
and misery. These chroniclers add that they were very honest people, who
scrupulously followed all the practices of the Christian religion; that
they were poorly clad, but that they had gold and silver in abundance;
that they lived well, and paid for everything they had; and that, at the
end of seven years, they went away to return home, as they said. However,
whether because a considerable number remained on the road, or because
they had been reinforced by others of the same tribe during the year, a
troop of fifty men, accompanied by a number of hideous women and filthy
children, made their appearance in the neighbourhood of Augsburg. These
vagabonds gave out that they were exiles from Lower Egypt, and pretended
to know the art of predicting coming events. It was soon found out that
they were much less versed in divination and in the occult sciences than
in the arts of plundering, roguery, and cheating.

In the following year a similar horde, calling themselves Saracens,
appeared at Sisteron, in Provence; and on the 18th. of July, 1422, a
chronicler of Bologna mentions the arrival in that town of a troop of
foreigners, commanded by a certain André, Duke of Egypt, and composed of
at least one hundred persons, including women and children. They encamped
inside and outside the gate _di Galiera_, with the exception of the duke,
who lodged at the inn _del Re_. During the fifteen days which they spent
at Bologna a number of the people of the town went to see them, and
especially to see "the wife of the duke," who, it was said, knew how to
foretell future events, and to tell what was to happen to people, what
their fortunes would be, the number of their children, if they were good
or bad, and many other things (Fig. 370). Few men, however, left the house
of the so-called Duke of Egypt without having their purses stolen, and but
few women escaped without having the skirts of their dresses cut. The
Egyptian women walked about the town in groups of six or seven, and whilst
some were talking to the townspeople, telling them their fortunes, or
bartering in shops, one of their number would lay her hands on anything
which was within reach. So many robberies were committed in this way, that
the magistrates of the town and the ecclesiastical authorities forbad the
inhabitants from visiting the Egyptians' camp, or from having any
intercourse with them, under penalty of excommunication and of a fine of
fifty livres. Besides this, by a strange application of the laws of
retaliation, those who had been robbed by these foreigners were permitted
to rob them to the extent of the value of the things stolen. In
consequence of this, the Bolognians entered a stable in which several of
the Egyptians' horses were kept, and took out one of the finest of them.
In order to recover him the Egyptians agreed to restore what they had
taken, and the restitution was made. But perceiving that they could no
longer do any good for themselves in this province, they struck their
tents and started for Rome, to which city they said they were bound to go,
not only in order to accomplish a pilgrimage imposed upon them by the
Sultan, who had expelled them from their own land, but especially to
obtain letters of absolution from the Holy Father.

[Illustration: Fig. 370.--Gipsies Fortune-telling.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle,

In 1422 the band left Italy, and we find them at Basle and in Suabia.
Then, besides the imperial passports, of which they had up to that time
alone boasted, they pretended to have in their possession bulls which they
stated that they had obtained from the Pope. They also modified their
original tale, and stated that they were descendants of the Egyptians who
refused hospitality to the Holy Virgin and to St. Joseph during their
flight into Egypt: they also declared that, in consequence of this crime,
God had doomed their race to perpetual misery and exile.

Five years later we find them in the neighbourhood of Paris. "The Sunday
after the middle of August," says "The Journal of a Bourgeois of Paris,"
"there came to Paris twelve so-called pilgrims, that is to say, a duke, a
count, and ten men, all on horseback; they said that they were very good
Christians, and that they came from Lower Egypt; ... and on the 29th of
August, the anniversary of the beheading of St. John, the rest of the band
made their appearance. These, however, were not allowed to enter Paris,
but, by order of the provost, were lodged in the Chapel of St. Denis. They
did not number more than one hundred and twenty, including women and
children. They stated that, when they left their own country, they
numbered from a thousand to twelve hundred, but that the rest had died on
the road..... Whilst they were at the chapel never was such a concourse of
people collected, even at the blessing of the fair of Landit, as went from
Paris, St. Denis, and elsewhere, to see these strangers. Almost all of
them had their ears pierced, and in each one or two silver rings, which in
their country, they said, was a mark of nobility. The men were very
swarthy, with curly hair; the women were very ugly, and extremely dark,
with long black hair, like a horse's tail; their only garment being an old
rug tied round the shoulder by a strip of cloth or a bit of rope (Fig.
371). Amongst them were several fortune-tellers, who, by looking into
people's hands, told them what had happened or what was to happen to them,
and by this means often did a good deal to sow discord in families. What
was worse, either by magic, by Satanic agency, or by sleight of hand, they
managed to empty people's purses whilst talking to them.... So, at least,
every one said. At last accounts respecting them reached the ears of the
Bishop of Paris. He went to them with a Franciscan friar, called Le Petit
Jacobin, who, by the bishop's order, delivered an earnest address to them,
and excommunicated all those who had anything to do with them, or who had
their fortunes told. He further advised the gipsies to go away, and, on
the festival of Notre-Dame, they departed for Pontoise."

[Illustration: Fig. 371.--A Gipsy Family.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the
"Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle, 1552.]

Here, again, the gipsies somewhat varied their story. They said that they
were originally Christians; but that, in consequence of an invasion by the
Saracens, they had been forced to renounce their religion; that, at a
subsequent period, powerful monarchs had come to free them from the yoke
of the infidels, and had decreed that, as a punishment to them for having
renounced the Christian faith, they should not be allowed to return to
their country before they had obtained permission from the Pope. They
stated that the Holy Father, to whom they had gone to confess their sins,
had then ordered them to wander about the world for seven years, without
sleeping in beds, at the same time giving direction to every bishop and
every priest whom they met to offer them ten livres; a direction which the
abbots and bishops were in no hurry to obey. These strange pilgrims stated
that they had been only five years on the road when they arrived in Paris.

Enough has been said to show that, although the object of their long
pilgrimage was ostensibly a pious one, the Egyptians or gipsies were not
very slow in giving to the people whom they visited a true estimate of
their questionable honesty, and we do not think it would be particularly
interesting to follow step by step the track of this odious band, which
from this period made its appearance sometimes in one country and
sometimes in another, not only in the north but in the south, and
especially in the centre of Europe. Suffice it to say that their quarrels
with the authorities, or the inhabitants of the countries which had the
misfortune to be periodically visited by them, have left numerous traces
in history.

On the 7th of November, 1453, from sixty to eighty gipsies, coming from
Courtisolles, arrived at the entrance of the town of Cheppe, near
Châlons-sur-Marne. The strangers, many of whom carried "javelins, darts,
and other implements of war," having asked for hospitality, the mayor of
the town informed them "that it was not long since some of the same
company, or others very like them, had been lodged in the town, and had
been guilty of various acts of theft." The gipsies persisted in their
demands, the indignation of the people was aroused, and they were soon
obliged to resume their journey. During their unwilling retreat, they were
pursued by many of the inhabitants of the town, one of whom killed a gipsy
named Martin de la Barre: the murderer, however, obtained the King's

In 1532, at Pleinpalais, a suburb of Geneva, some rascals from among a
band of gipsies, consisting of upwards of three hundred in number, fell
upon several of the officers who were stationed to prevent their entering
the town. The citizens hurried up to the scene of disturbance. The gipsies
retired to the monastery of the Augustin friars, in which they fortified
themselves: the bourgeois besieged them, and would have committed summary
justice on them, but the authorities interfered, and some twenty of the
vagrants were arrested, but they sued for mercy, and were discharged.

[Illustration: Fig. 372.--Gipsy Encampment.--Fac-simile of a Copper-plate
by Callot.]

In 1632, the inhabitants of Viarme, in the Department of Lot-et-Garonne,
made an onslaught upon a troop of gipsies who wanted to take up their
quarters in that town. The whole of them were killed, with the exception
of their chief, who was taken prisoner and brought before the Parliament
of Bordeaux, and ordered to be hung. Twenty-one years before this, the
mayor and magistrates of Bordeaux gave orders to the soldiers of the watch
to arrest a gipsy chief, who, having shut himself up in the tower of
Veyrines, at Merignac, ransacked the surrounding country. On the 21st of
July, 1622, the same magistrates ordered the gipsies to leave the parish
of Eysines within twenty-four hours, under penalty of the lash.

It was not often that the gipsies used violence or openly resisted
authority; they more frequently had recourse to artifice and cunning in
order to attain their end. A certain Captain Charles acquired a great
reputation amongst them for the clever trickeries which he continually
conceived, and which his troop undertook to carry out. A chronicler of the
time says, that by means of certain herbs which he gave to a half-starved
horse, he made him into a fat and sleek animal; the horse was then sold at
one of the neighbouring fairs or markets, but the purchaser detected the
fraud within a week, for the horse soon became thin again, and usually
sickened and died.

Tallemant des Réaux relates that, on one occasion, Captain Charles and his
attendants took up their quarters in a village, the curé of which being
rich and parsimonious, was much disliked by his parishioners. The curé
never left his house, and the gipsies could not, therefore, get an
opportunity to rob him. In this difficulty, they pretended that one of
them had committed a crime, and had been condemned to be hung a quarter of
a league from the village, where they betook themselves with all their
goods. The man, at the foot of the gibbet, asked for a confessor, and they
went to fetch the curé. He, at first, refused to go, but his parishioners
compelled him. During his absence some gipsies entered his house, took
five hundred écus from his strong box, and quickly rejoined the troop. As
soon as the rascal saw them returning, he said that he appealed to the
king of _la petite Egypte_, upon which the captain exclaimed, "Ah! the
traitor! I expected he would appeal." Immediately they packed up, secured
the prisoner, and were far enough away from the scene before the curé
re-entered his house.

Tallemant relates another good trick. Near Roye, in Picardy, a gipsy who
had stolen a sheep offered it to a butcher for one hundred sous (about
sixty francs of our money), but the butcher declined to give more than
four livres for it. The butcher then went away; whereupon the gipsy pulled
the sheep from a sack into which he had put it, and substituted for it a
child belonging to his tribe. He then ran after the butcher, and said,
"Give me five livres, and you shall have the sack into the bargain." The
butcher paid him the money, and went away. When he got home he opened the
sack, and was much astonished when he saw a little boy jump out of it,
who, in an instant, caught up the sack and ran off. "Never was a poor man
so thoroughly hoaxed as this butcher," says Tallemant des Réaux.

The gipsies had thousands of other tricks in stock as good as the ones we
have just related, in proof of which we have but to refer to the testimony
of one of their own tribe, who, under the name of Pechon de Ruby,
published, towards the close of the sixteenth century, "La Vie Généreuse
des Mattois, Guex, Bohémiens, et Cagoux." "When they want to leave a place
where they have been stopping, they set out in an opposite direction to
that in which they are going, and after travelling about half a league
they take their right course. They possess the best and most accurate
maps, in which are laid down not only all the towns, villages, and rivers,
but also the houses of the gentry and others; and they fix upon places of
rendezvous every ten days, at twenty leagues from the point from whence
they set out.... The captain hands over to each of the chiefs three or
four families to take charge of, and these small bands take different
cross-roads towards the place of rendezvous. Those who are well armed and
mounted he sends off with a good almanac, on which are marked all the
fairs, and they continually change their dress and their horses. When they
take up their quarters in any village they steal very little in its
immediate vicinity, but in the neighbouring parishes they rob and plunder
in the most daring manner. If they find a sum of money they give notice to
the captain, and make a rapid flight from the place. They coin counterfeit
money, and put it into circulation. They play at all sorts of games; they
buy all sorts of horses; whether sound or unsound, provided they can
manage to pay for them in their own base coin. When they buy food they pay
for it in good money the first time, as they are held in such distrust;
but, when they are about to leave a neighbourhood, they again buy
something, for which they tender false coin, receiving the change in good
money. In harvest time all doors are shut against them; nevertheless they
contrive, by means of picklocks and other instruments, to effect an
entrance into houses, when they steal linen, cloaks, silver, and any other
movable article which they can lay their hands on. They give a strict
account of everything to their captain, who takes his share of all they
get, except of what they earn by fortune-telling. They are very clever at
making a good bargain; when they know of a rich merchant being in the
place, they disguise themselves, enter into communications with him, and
swindle him, ... after which they change their clothes, have their horses
shod the reverse way, and the shoes covered with some soft material lest
they should be heard, and gallop away."

[Illustration: Fig. 373.--The Gipsy who used to wash his Hands in Molten
Lead.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Histoires Merveilleuses" of Pierre
Boaistuau: in 4to, 1560.]

In the "Histoire Générale des Larrons" we read that the vagabonds called
gipsies sometimes played tricks with goblets, sometimes danced on the
tight-rope, turned double-somersaults, and performed other feats (Fig.
373), which proves that these adventurers adopted all kinds of methods of
gaining a livelihood, highway robbery not excepted. We must not,
therefore, be surprised if in almost all countries very severe police
measures were taken against this dangerous race, though we must admit that
these measures sometimes partook of a barbarous character.

After having forbidden them, with a threat of six years at the galleys, to
sojourn in Spain, Charles V. ordered them to leave Flanders under penalty
of death. In 1545, a gipsy who had infringed the sentence of banishment
was condemned by the Court of Utrecht to be flogged till the blood
appeared, to have his nostrils slit, his hair removed, his beard shaved
off, and to be banished for life. "We can form some idea," says the German
historian Grellman, "of the miserable condition of the gipsies from the
following facts: many of them, and especially the women, have been burned
by their own request, in order to end their miserable state of existence;
and we can give the case of a gipsy who, having been arrested, flogged,
and conducted to the frontier, with the threat that if he reappeared in
the country he would be hanged, resolutely returned after three successive
and similar threats, at three different places, and implored that the
capital sentence might be carried out, in order that he might be released
from a life of such misery. These unfortunate people," continues the
historian, "were not even looked upon as human beings, for, during a
hunting party, consisting of members of a small German court, the huntsmen
had no scruple whatever in killing a gipsy woman who was suckling her
child, just as they would have done any wild beast which came in their

M. Francisque Michel says, "Amongst the questions which arise from a
consideration of the existence of this remarkable people, is one which,
although neglected, is nevertheless of considerable interest, namely, how,
with a strange language, unlike any used in Europe, the gipsies could make
themselves understood by the people amongst whom they made their
appearance for the first time: newly arrived in the west, they could have
none of those interpreters who are only to be found amongst a
long-established people, and who have political and commercial intercourse
with other nations. Where, then, did the gipsies obtain interpreters? The
answer seems to us to be clear. Receiving into their ranks all those whom
crime, the fear of punishment, an uneasy conscience, or the charm of a
roaming life, continually threw in their path, they made use of them
either to find their way into countries of which they were ignorant, or to
commit robberies which would otherwise have been impracticable. Themselves
adepts in all sorts of bad practices, they were not slow to form an
alliance with profligate characters who sometimes worked in concert with
them, and sometimes alone, and who always framed the model for their own
organization from that of the gipsies."

[Illustration: Fig. 374.--Orphans, _Callots_, and the Family of the Grand
Coesre.--From painted Hangings and Tapestry from the Town of Rheims,
executed during the Fifteenth Century.]

This alliance--governed by statutes, the honour of compiling which has
been given to a certain Ragot, who styled himself captain--was composed of
_matois_, or sharpers; of _mercelots_, or hawkers, who were very little
better than the former; of _gueux_, or dishonest beggars, and of a host of
other swindlers, constituting the order or hierarchy of the _Argot_, or
Slang people. Their chief was called the _Grand Coesre_, "a vagabond
broken to all the tricks of his trade," says M. Francisque Michel, and who
frequently ended his days on the rack or the gibbet. History has furnished
us with the story of a "miserable cripple" who used to sit in a wooden
bowl, and who, after having been Grand Coesre for three years, was broken
alive on the wheel at Bordeaux for his crimes. He was called _Roi de
Tunes_ (Tunis), and was drawn about by two large dogs. One of his
successors, the Grand Coesre surnamed Anacréon, who suffered from the same
infirmity, namely, that of a cripple, rode about Paris on a donkey
begging. He generally held his court on the Port-au-Foin, where he sat on
his throne dressed in a mantle made of a thousand pieces. The Grand Coesre
had a lieutenant in each province called _cagou_, whose business it was to
initiate apprentices in the secrets of the craft, and who looked after,
in different localities, those whom the chief had entrusted to his care.
He gave an account of the property he received in thus exercising his
stewardship, and of the money as well as of the clothing which he took
from the _Argotiers_ who refused to recognise his authority. As a
remuneration for their duties, the cagoux were exempt from all tribute to
their chief; they received their share of the property taken from persons
whom they had ordered to be robbed, and they were free to beg in any way
they pleased. After the cagoux came the _archisuppôts_, who, being
recruited from the lowest dregs of the clergy and others who had been in a
better position, were, so to speak, the teachers of the law. To them was
intrusted the duty of instructing the less experienced rogues, and of
determining the language of Slang; and, as a reward for their good and
loyal services, they had the right of begging without paying any fees to
their chiefs.

[Illustration: Fig. 375.--The Blind and the Poor Sick of St. John.--From
painted Hangings and Tapestry in the Town of Rheims, executed during the
Fifteenth Century.]

The Grand Coesre levied a tax of twenty-four sous per annum upon the young
rogues, who went about the streets pretending to shed tears (Fig. 374), as
"helpless orphans," in order to excite public sympathy. The _marcandiers_
had to pay an écu; they were tramps clothed in a tolerably good doublet,
who passed themselves off as merchants ruined by war, by fire, or by
having been robbed on the highway. The _malingreux_ had to pay forty sous;
they were covered with sores, most of which were self-inflicted, or they
pretended to have swellings of some kind, and stated that they were about
to undertake a pilgrimage to St. Méen, in Brittany, in order to be cured.
The _piètres_, or lame rogues, paid half an écu, and walked with crutches.
The _sabouleux_, who were commonly called the _poor sick of St. John_,
were in the habit of frequenting fairs and markets, or the vicinity of
churches; there, smeared with blood and appearing as if foaming at the
mouth by means of a piece of soap they had placed in it, they struggled on
the ground as if in a fit, and in this way realised a considerable amount
of alms. These consequently paid the largest fees to the Coesre (Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 376.--The _Ruffes_ and the _Millards_.--From painted
Hangings and Tapestry of Rheims, executed about the Fifteenth Century.]

Besides these, there were the _callots_, who were either affected with a
scurfy disease or pretended to be so, and who were contributors to the
civil list of their chief to the amount of sevens sous; as also the
_coquillards_, or pretended pilgrims of St. James or St. Michael; and the
_hubins_, who, according to the forged certificate which they carried with
them, were going to, or returning from, St. Hubert, after having been
bitten by a mad dog. The _polissons_ paid two écus to the Coesre, but they
earned a considerable amount, especially in winter; for benevolent people,
touched with their destitution and half-nakedness, gave them sometimes a
doublet, sometimes a shirt, or some other article of clothing, which of
course they immediately sold. The _francs mitoux_, who were never taxed
above five sous, were sickly members of the fraternity, or at all events
pretended to be such; they tied their arms above the elbow so as to stop
the pulse, and fell down apparently fainting on the public footpaths. We
must also mention the _ruffés_ and the _millards_, who went into the
country in groups begging (Fig. 376). The _capons_ were cut-purses, who
hardly ever left the towns, and who laid hands on everything within their
reach. The _courtauds de boutanche_ pretended to be workmen, and were to
be met with everywhere with the tools of their craft on their back, though
they never used them. The _convertis_ pretended to have been impressed by
the exhortations of some excellent preacher, and made a public profession
of faith; they afterwards stationed themselves at church doors, as
recently converted Catholics, and in this way received liberal

Lastly, we must mention the _drilles_, the _narquois_, or the people of
the _petite flambe_, who for the most part were old pensioners, and who
begged in the streets from house to house, with their swords at their
sides (Fig. 377). These, who at times lived a racketing and luxurious
life, at last rebelled against the Grand Coesre, and would no longer be
reckoned among his subjects--a step which gave a considerable shock to the
Argotic monarchy.

[Illustration: Fig. 377.--The _Drille_ or _Narquois_.--From painted
Hangings from the Town of Rheims (Fifteenth Century).]

[Illustration: Fig. 378.--Perspective View of Paris in 1607.--Fac-simile
of a Copper-plate by Léonard Gaultier. (Collection of M. Guénebault,

There was another cause which greatly contributed to diminish the power
as well as the prestige of this eccentric sovereign, and this was, that
the cut-purses, the night-prowlers and wood-thieves, not finding
sufficient means of livelihood in their own department, and seeing that
the Argotiers, on the contrary, were always in a more luxurious position,
tried to amalgamate robbery with mendicity, which raised an outcry amongst
these sections of their community. The archisuppôts and the cagoux at
first declined such an alliance, but eventually they were obliged to admit
all, with the exception of the wood-thieves, who were altogether excluded.
In the seventeenth century, therefore, in order to become a thorough
Argotier, it was necessary not only to solicit alms like any mere beggar,
but also to possess the dexterity of the cut-purse and the thief. These
arts were to be learned in the places which served as the habitual
rendezvous of the very dregs of society, and which were generally known as
the _Cours des Miracles_. These houses, or rather resorts, had been so
called, if we are to believe a writer of the early part of the seventeenth
century, "Because rogues ... and others, who have all day been cripples,
maimed, dropsical, and beset with every sort of bodily ailment, come home
at night, carrying under their arms a sirloin of beef, a joint of veal, or
a leg of mutton, not forgetting to hang a bottle of wine to their belt,
and, on entering the court, they throw aside their crutches, resume their
healthy and lusty appearance, and, in imitation of the ancient
Bacchanalian revelries, dance all kinds of dances with their trophies in
their hands, whilst the host is preparing their suppers. Can there be a
greater _miracle_ than is to be seen in this court, where the maimed walk

[Illustration: Fig. 379.--_Cour des Miracles_ of Paris. Talebot the
Hunchback, a celebrated Scamp during the Seventeenth Century.--From an old
Engraving in the Collection of Engravings in the National Library of

In Paris there were several _Cours des Miracles_, but the most celebrated
was that which, from the time of Sauval, the singular historian of the
"Antiquities of Paris," to the middle of the seventeenth century,
preserved this generic name _par excellence_, and which exists to this day
(Fig. 379). He says, "It is a place of considerable size, and is in an
unhealthy, muddy, and irregular blind alley. Formerly it was situated on
the outskirts of Paris, now it is in one of the worst built, dirtiest, and
most out-of-the-way quarters of the town, between the Rue Montorgueil, the
convent of the Filles-Dieu, and the Rue Neuve-Saint-Sauveur. To get there
one must wander through narrow, close, and by-streets; and in order to
enter it, one must descend a somewhat winding and rugged declivity. In
this place I found a mud house, half buried, very shaky from old age and
rottenness, and only eight mètres square; but in which, nevertheless,
some fifty families are living, who have the charge of a large number of
children, many of whom are stolen or illegitimate.... I was assured that
upwards of five hundred large families occupy that and other houses
adjoining.... Large as this court is, it was formerly even bigger....
Here, without any care for the future, every one enjoys the present; and
eats in the evening what he has earned during the day with so much
trouble, and often with so many blows; for it is one of the fundamental
rules of the Cour des Miracles never to lay by anything for the morrow.
Every one who lives there indulges in the utmost licentiousness; both
religion and law are utterly ignored.... It is true that outwardly they
appear to acknowledge a God; for they have set up in a niche an image of
God the Father, which they have stolen from some church, and before which
they come daily to offer up certain prayers; but this is only because they
superstitiously imagine that by this means they are released from the
necessity of performing the duties of Christians to their pastor and their
parish, and are even absolved from the sin of entering a church for the
purpose of robbery and purse-cutting."

Paris, the capital of the kingdom of rogues, was not the only town which
possessed a Cour des Miracles, for we find here and there, especially at
Lyons and Bordeaux, some traces of these privileged resorts of rogues and
thieves, which then flourished under the sceptre of the Grand Coesre.
Sauval states, on the testimony of people worthy of credit, that at
Sainte-Anne d'Auray, the most holy place of pilgrimage in Brittany, under
the superintendence of the order of reformed Carmelite friars, there was a
large field called the _Rogue's Field_. This was covered with mud huts;
and here the Grand Coesre resorted annually on the principal solemn
festivals, with his officers and subjects, in order "to hold his council
of state," that is to say, in order to settle and arrange respecting
robbery. At these _state_ meetings, which were not always held at
Sainte-Anne d'Auray, all the subjects of the Grand Coesre were present,
and paid homage to their lord and master. Some came and paid him the
tribute which was required of them by the statutes of the craft; others
rendered him an account of what they had done, and what they had earned
during the year. When they had executed their work badly, he ordered them
to be punished, either corporally or pecuniarily, according to the gravity
of their offences. When he had not himself properly governed his people,
he was dethroned, and a successor was appointed by acclamation.

[Illustration: Fig. 380.--Beggar playing the Fiddle, and his Wife
accompanying him with the Bones.--From an old Engraving of the Seventeenth

At these assemblies, as well as in the Cours des Miracles, French was not
spoken, but a strange and artificial language was used called _jargon_,
_langue matoise, narquois_, &c. This language, which is still in use under
the name of _argot_, or slang, had for the most part been borrowed from
the jargon or slang of the lower orders. To a considerable extent,
according to the learned philologist of this mysterious language, M.
Francisque Michel, it was composed of French words lengthened or
abbreviated; of proverbial expressions; of words expressing the symbols of
things instead of the things themselves; of terms either intentionally or
unintentionally altered from their true meaning; and of words which
resembled other words in sound, but which had not the same signification.
Thus, for mouth, they said _pantière_, from _pain_ (bread), which they put
into it; the arms were _lyans_ (binders); an ox was a _cornant_ (horned);
a purse, a _fouille_, or _fouillouse_; a cock, a _horloge_, or timepiece;
the legs, _des quilles_ (nine-pins); a sou, a _rond_, or round thing; the
eyes, _des luisants_ (sparklers), &c. In jargon several words were also
taken from the ancient language of the gipsies, which testifies to the
part which these vagabonds played in the formation of the Argotic
community. For example, a shirt was called _lime_; a chambermaid,
_limogère;_ sheets, _limans_--words all derived from the gipsy word
_lima_, a shirt: they called an écu, a _rusquin_ or _rougesme_, from
_rujia_, the common word for money; a rich man, _rupin_; a house, _turne_;
a knife, _chourin_, from _rup, turna_, and _chori_, which, in the gipsy
tongue, mean respectively silver, castle, and knife.

From what we have related about rogues and the Cours des Miracles, one
might perhaps be tempted to suppose that France was specially privileged;
but it was not so, for Italy was far worse in this respect. The rogues
were called by the Italians _bianti_, or _ceretani_, and were subdivided
into more than forty classes, the various characteristics of which have
been described by a certain Rafael Frianoro. It is not necessary to state
that the analogue of more than one of these classes is to be found in the
short description we have given of the Argotic kingdom in France. We will
therefore only mention those which were more especially Italian. It must
not be forgotten that in the southern countries, where religions
superstition was more marked than elsewhere, the numerous family of rogues
had no difficulty in practising every description of imposture, inasmuch
as they trusted to the various manifestations of religions feeling to
effect their purposes. Thus the _affrati_, in order to obtain more alms
and offerings, went about in the garb of monks and priests, even saying
mass, and pretending that it was the first time they had exercised their
sacred office. So the _morghigeri_ walked behind a donkey, carrying a bell
and a lamp, with their string of beads in their hands, and asking how they
were to pay for the bell, which they were always "just going to buy." The
_felsi_ pretended that they were divinely inspired and endowed with the
gift of second sight, and announced that there were hidden treasures in
certain houses under the guardianship of evil spirits. They asserted that
these treasures could not be discovered without danger, except by means of
fastings and offerings, which they and their brethren could alone make, in
consideration of which they entered into a bargain, and received a certain
sum of money from the owners. The _accatosi_ deserve mention on account of
the cleverness with which they contrived to assume the appearance of
captives recently escaped from slavery. Shaking the chains with which they
said they had been bound, jabbering unintelligible words, telling
heart-rending tales of their sufferings and privations, and showing the
marks of blows which they had received, they went on their knees, begging
for money that they might buy off their brethren or their friends, whom
they said they had left in the hands of the Saracens or the Turks, We must
mention, also, the _allacrimanti_, or weepers, who owed their name to the
facility which they possessed of shedding tears at will; and the
_testatori_, who, pretending to be seriously ill and about to die,
extorted money from all those to whom they promised to leave their
fortunes, though, of course, they had not a son to leave behind them. We
must not forget the _protobianti_ (master rogues), who made no scruple of
exciting compassion from their own comrades (Fig. 381), nor the
_vergognosi_, who, notwithstanding their poverty, wished to be thought
rich, and considered that assistance was due to them from the mere fact of
their being noble. We must here conclude, for it would occupy too much
time to go through the list of these Italian vagabonds. As for the German
(Figs. 382 and 383), Spanish, and English rogues, we may simply remark
that no type exists among them which is not to be met with amongst the
Argotiers of France or the Bianti of Italy. In giving a description,
therefore, of the mendicity practised in these two countries during the
Middle Ages, we are sure to be representing what it was in other parts of

[Illustration: Fig. 381.--Italian Beggar.--From an Engraving by Callot.]

[Illustration: Figs. 382 and 383.--German Beggars.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: in folio, Basle,

The history of regular robbers and highwaymen during this long period is
more difficult to describe; it contains only disconnected anecdotes of a
more or less interesting character. It is probable, moreover, that robbers
did not always commit their depredations singly, and that they early
understood the advantages of associating together. The _Tafurs_, or
_Halegrins_, whom we notice as followers of Godefroy de Bouillon at the
time of the Crusades, towards the end of the eleventh century, were
terribly bad characters, and are actually accused by contemporary writers
of violating tombs, and of living on human flesh. On this account they
were looked upon with the utmost horror by the infidels, who dreaded more
their savage ferocity than the valour of the Crusaders. The latter even,
who had these hordes of Tafurs under their command, were not without
considerable mistrust of them, and when, during their march through
Hungary, under the protection of the cross, these miscreants committed
depredations, Godefroy de Bouillion was obliged to ask pardon for them
from the king of that country.

An ancient poet has handed down to us a story in verse setting forth the
exploits of Eustace the monk, who, after having thrown aside his frock,
embraced the life of a robber, and only abandoned it to become Admiral of
France under Philip Augustus. He was killed before Sandwich, in 1217. We
have satisfactory proof that as early as the thirteenth century sharpers
were very expert masters of their trade, for the ingenious and amusing
tricks of which they were guilty are quite equal to the most skilled of
those now recorded in our police reports. In the two following centuries
the science of the _pince_ and of the _croc_ (pincers and hook), as it was
then called, alone made progress, and Pathelin (a character in comedy, and
an incomparable type of craft and dishonesty) never lacked disciples any
more than Villon did imitators. We know that this charming poet, who was
at the same time a most expert thief, narrowly escaped hanging on two
occasions. His contemporaries attributed to him a poem of twelve hundred
verses, entitled "Les Repues Franches," in which are described the methods
in use among his companions for procuring wine, bread, meat, and fish,
without having to pay for them. They form a series of interesting
stories, the moral of which is to be gathered from the following lines:--

  "C'est bien, disné, quand on eschappe
  Sans desbourcer pas ung denier,
  Et dire adieu an tavernier,
  En torchant son nez à la nappe."

The meaning of this doggrel, which is somewhat broad, may be rendered--"He
dines well who escapes without paying a penny, and who bids farewell to
the innkeeper by wiping his nose on the tablecloth."

Side by side with this poem of Yillon we ought to cite one of a later
period--"La Légende de Maître Faifeu," versified by Charles Boudigné. This
Faifeu was a kind of Villon of Anjou, who excelled in all kinds of
rascality, and who might possibly have taught it even to the gipsies
themselves. The character of Panurge, in the "Pantagruel," is no other
than the type of Faifeu, immortalised by the genius of Rabelais. We must
also mention one of the pamphlets of Guillaume Bouchet, written towards
the end of the sixteenth century, which gives a very amusing account of
thieves of every description, and also "L'Histoire Générale des Larrons,"
in which are related numerous wonderful tales of murders, robberies, and
other atrocities, which made our admiring ancestors well acquainted with
the heroes of the Grève and of Montfaucon. It must not be supposed that in
those days the life of a robber who pursued his occupation with any degree
of industry and skill was unattended with danger, for the most harmless
cut-purses were hung without mercy whenever they were caught; the fear,
however, of this fate did not prevent the _Enfants de la Matte_ from
performing wonders.

Brantôme relates that King Charles IX. had the curiosity to wish to "know
how the cut-purses performed their arts with so much skill and dexterity,"
and begged Captain La Chambre to introduce to him, on the occasion of a
banquet and a ball, the cleverest cut-purses, giving them full liberty to
exhibit their skill. The captain went to the Cours des Miracles and
fetched ten of the most expert of these thieves, whom he presented to the
King. Charles, "after the dinner and the ball had taken place, wished to
see all the plunder, and found that they had absolutely earned three
thousand écus, either in money from purses, or in precious stones, pearls,
or other jewels; some of the guests even lost their cloaks, at which the
King thought he should die of laughter." The King allowed them to keep
what they had thus earned at the expense of his guests; but he forbad them
"to continue this sort of life," under penalty of being hung, and he had
them enrolled in the army, in order to recompense them for their clever
feats. We may safely assert that they made but indifferent soldiers.

[Illustration: Fig. 384.--The Exhibitor of strange Animals (Twelfth
Century Manuscript, Royal Library of Brussels).]


  Origin of Modern Ceremonial.--Uncertainty of French Ceremonial up to the
  End of the Sixteenth Century.--Consecration of the Kings of
  France.--Coronation of the Emperors of Germany.--Consecration of the
  Doges of Venice.--Marriage of the Doge with the Sea.--State Entries of
  Sovereigns.--An Account of the Entry of Isabel of Bavaria into
  Paris.--Seats of Justice.--Visits of Ceremony between Persons of
  rank.--Mourning.--Social Courtesies.--Popular Demonstrations and
  National Commemorations.--New Year's Day.--Local Festivals.--_Vins
  d'Honneur._--Processions of Trades.

Although society during the Middle Ages was, as a whole, closely cemented
together, being animated by the same sentiments and imbued with the same
spirit, it was divided, as we have already stated, into three great
classes, namely, the clergy, the nobility, and the _liers-état._ These
classes, each of which formed a distinct body within the State, carried on
an existence peculiar to itself, and presented in its collective capacity
a separate individuality. Hence there was a distinct ceremonial for each
class. We will not attempt to give in detail the innumerable laws of these
three kinds of ceremonial; our attention will be directed solely to their
most characteristic customs, and to their most remarkable and interesting
aspects taken as a whole. We must altogether lay aside matters relating
specially to ceremonies of a purely religions character, as they are
connected more or less with the traditions and customs of the Church, and
belong to quite a distinct order of things.

"When the Germans, and especially the Franks," says the learned
paleographer Vallet de Viriville, "had succeeded in establishing their
own rule in place of that of the Romans, these almost savage nations, and
the barbarian chiefs who were at their head under the title of kings,
necessarily borrowed more or less the refined practices relating to
ceremonial possessed by the people whom they had conquered. The elevation
of the elected chief or king on the shield and the solemn taking of arms
in the midst of the tribe seem to be the only traces of public ceremonies
which we can discover among the Grermans. The marvellous display and the
imposing splendour of the political hierarchy of the Roman Empire,
especially in its outward arrangements, must have astonished the minds of
these uncultivated people. Thus we find the Frank kings becoming
immediately after a victory the simple and clumsy imitators of the
civilisation which they had broken up." Clovis on returning to Tours in
507, after having defeated Alaric, received the titles of _Patrician_ and
_Consul_ from the Emperor Anastasius, and bedecked himself with the
purple, the chlamys, and the diadem. The same principle of imitation was
afterwards exhibited in the internal and external court ceremonial, in
proportion as it became developed in the royal person. Charlemagne, who
aimed at everything which could adorn and add strength to a new monarchy,
established a regular method for the general and special administration of
his empire, as also for the internal arrangement and discipline of his
palace. We have already referred to this twofold organization (_vide_
chapters on Private Life and on Food), but we may here remark that,
notwithstanding these ancient tendencies to the creation of a fixed
ceremonial, the trifling rules which made etiquette a science and a law,
were introduced by degrees, and have only very recently been established
amongst us.

In 1385, when King Charles VI. married the notorious Isabel of Bavaria,
then scarcely fourteen years of age, he desired to arrange for her a
magnificent entry into Paris, the pomp and brilliancy of which should be
consistent with the rank and illustrious descent of his young bride. He
therefore begged the old Queen Blanche, widow of Philippe de Valois, to
preside over the ceremony, and to have it conducted according to the
custom of olden times. She was consequently obliged, in the absence of any
fixed rules on the subject, to consult the official records,--that is to
say, the "Chronique du Monastère de Saint-Denis." The first embodiment of
rules relating to these matters in use among the nobility, which had
appeared in France under the title of "Honneurs de la Cour," only goes
back to the end of the fifteenth century. It appears, however, that even
then this was not generally admitted among the nobility as the basis of
ceremonial, for in 1548 we find that nothing had been definitely settled.
This is evident from the fact that when King Henri III. desired to know
the rank and order of precedence of the princes of the royal blood, both
dukes and counts--as also that of the other princes, the barons, the
nobles of the kingdom, the constables, the marshals of France and the
admirals, and what position they had held on great public occasions during
the reigns of his predecessors--he commissioned Jean du Tillet, the civil
registrar of the Parliament of Paris, to search among the royal archives
for the various authentic documents which might throw light on this
question, and serve as a precedent for the future. In fact, it was Henri
III. who, in 1585, created the office of Grand Master of the Ceremonies of
France, entrusting it to Guillaume Pot, a noble of Rhodes, which office
for many generations remained hereditary in his family.

[Illustration: Fig. 385.--Herald (Fourteenth Century).--From a Miniature
in the "Chroniques de Saint-Denis" (Imperial Library of Paris).]

Nevertheless the question of ceremonial, and especially that of
precedence, had already more than once occupied the attention of
sovereigns, not only within their own states, but also in relation to
diplomatic matters. The meetings of councils, at which the ambassadors of
all the Christian Powers, with the delegates of the Catholic Church, were
assembled, did not fail to bring this subject up for decision. Pope
Julius II. in 1504 instructed Pierre de Crassis, his Master of the
Ceremonies, to publish a decree, determining the rank to be taken by the
various sovereigns of Europe or by their representatives; but we should
add that this Papal decree never received the sanction of the parties
interested, and that the question of precedence, even at the most
unimportant public ceremonies, was during the whole of the Middle Ages a
perpetual source of litigation in courts of law, and of quarrels which too
often ended in bloodshed.

It is right that we should place at the head of political ceremonies those
having reference to the coronation of sovereigns, which were not only
political, but owed their supreme importance and dignity to the necessary
intervention of ecclesiastical authority. We will therefore first speak of
the consecration and coronation of the kings of France.

Pépin le Bref, son of Charles Martel and founder of the second dynasty,
was the first of the French kings who was consecrated by the religions
rite of anointing. But its mode of administration for a long period
underwent numerous changes, before becoming established by a definite law.
Thus Pépin, after having been first consecrated in 752 in the Cathedral of
Boissons, by the Archbishop of Mayence, was again consecrated with his two
sons Charlemagne and Carloman, in 753, in the Abbey of St. Denis, by Pope
Stephen III. Charlemagne was twice anointed by the Sovereign Pontiff,
first as King of Lombardy, and then as Emperor. Louis le Débonnaire, his
immediate successor, was consecrated at Rheims by Pope Stephen IV. in 816.
In 877 Louis le Bègue received unction and the sceptre, at Compiègne, at
the hands of the Archbishop of Rheims. Charles le Simple in 893, and
Robert I. in 922, were consecrated and crowned at Rheims; but the
coronation of Raoul, in 923, was celebrated in the Abbey of St. Médard de
Soissons, and that of Louis d'Outremer, in 936, at Laon. From the
accession of King Lothaire to that of Louis VI. (called Le Gros), the
consecration of the kings of France sometimes took place in the
metropolitan church of Rheims, and sometimes in other churches, but more
frequently in the former. Louis VI. having been consecrated in the
Cathedral of Orleans, the clergy of Rheims appealed against this supposed
infraction of custom and their own special privileges. A long discussion
took place, in which were brought forward the titles which the Church of
Rheims possessed subsequently to the reign of Clovis to the exclusive
honour of having kings consecrated in it; and King Louis le Jeune, son of
Louis le Gros, who was himself consecrated at Rheims, promulgated a
special decree on this question, in anticipation of the consecration of
his son, Philippe Auguste. This decree finally settled the rights of this
ancient church, and at the same time defined the order which was to be
observed in future at the ceremony of consecration. From that date, down
to the end of the reign of the Bourbons of the elder line, kings were
invariably consecrated, according to legal rite, in the metropolitan
church of Rheims, with the exception of Henry IV., who was crowned at
Chartres by the bishop of that town, on account of the civil wars which
then divided his kingdom, and caused the gates of Rheims to be closed
against him.

[Illustration: Fig. 386.--Coronation of Charlemagne.--Fac-simile of a
Miniature in the "Chroniques de Saint-Denis," Manuscript of the Fourteenth
Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

The consecration of the kings of France always took place on a Sunday. On
the previous day, at the conclusion of evening prayers, the custody of the
cathedral devolved upon certain royal officers, assisted by the ordinary
officials. During the evening the monarch came to the church for devotion,
and "according to his religions feelings, to pass part of the night in
prayer," an act which was called _la veillée des armes_. A large platform,
surmounted by a throne, was erected between the chancel and the great
nave. Upon this assembled, besides the King and his officers of State,
twelve ecclesiastical peers, together with those prelates whom the King
might be pleased to invite, and six lay peers, with other officers or
nobles. At daybreak, the King sent a deputation of barons to the Abbey of
St. Remi for the holy vial, which was a small glass vessel called
_ampoule_, from the Latin word _ampulla_, containing the holy oil to be
used at the royal anointing. According to tradition, this vial was brought
from heaven by a dove at the time of the consecration of Clovis. Four of
the nobles remained as hostages at the abbey during the time that the
Abbot of St. Remi, followed by his monks and escorted by the barons, went
in procession to the cathedral to place the sacred vessel upon the altar.
The abbot of St. Denis in France had in a similar manner to bring from
Rheims with great pomp, and deposit by the side of the holy vial, the
royal insignia, which were kept in the treasury of his monastery, and had
been there since the reign of Charlemagne. They consisted of the crown,
the sword sheathed, the golden spurs, the gilt sceptre, the rod adorned
with an ivory handle in the form of a hand, the sandals of blue silk,
embroidered with fleur de lis, the chasuble or _dalmatique_, and the
_surcot_, or royal mantle, in the shape of a cape without a hood. The
King, immediately on rising from his bed, entered the cathedral, and
forthwith took oath to maintain the Catholio faith and the privileges of
the Church, and to dispense good and impartial justice to his subjects. He
then walked to the foot of the altar, and divested himself of part of his
dress, having his head bare, and wearing a tunic with openings on the
chest, on the shoulders, at the elbows, and in the middle of the back;
these openings were closed by means of silver aigulets. The Archbishop of
Rheims then drew the sword from the scabbard and handed it to the King,
who passed it to the principal officer in attendance. The prelate then
proceeded with the religious part of the ceremony of consecration, and
taking a drop of the miraculous oil out of the holy vial by means of a
gold needle, he mixed it with the holy oil from his own church. This being
done, and sitting in the posture of consecration, he anointed the King,
who was kneeling before him, in five different parts of the body, namely,
on the forehead, on the breast, on the back, on the shoulders, and on the
joints of the arms. After this the King rose up, and with the assistance
of his officers, put on his royal robes. The Archbishop handed to him
successively the ring, the sceptre, and the rod of justice, and lastly
placed the crown on his head. At this moment the twelve peers formed
themselves into a group, the lay peers being in the first rank,
immediately around the sovereign, and raising their hands to the crown,
they held it for a moment, and then they conducted the King to the throne.
The consecrating prelate, putting down his mitre, then knelt at the feet
of the monarch and took the oath of allegiance, his example being followed
by the other peers and their vassals who were in attendance. At the same
time, the cry of "_Vive le Roi_!" uttered by the archbishop, was repeated
three times outside the cathedral by the heralds-at-arms, who shouted it
to the assembled multitude. The latter replied, "_Noel! Noel! Noel!_" and
scrambled for the small pieces of money thrown to them by the officers,
who at the same time cried out, "_Largesse, largesse aux manants_!" Every
part of this ceremony was accompanied by benedictions and prayers, the
form of which was read out of the consecration service as ordered by the
bishop, and the proceedings terminated by the return of the civil and
religious procession which had composed the _cortège_. When the sovereign
was married, his wife participated with him in the honours of the
consecration, the symbolical investiture, and the coronation; but she only
partook of the homage rendered to the King to a limited degree, which was
meant to imply that the Queen had a less extended authority and a less
exalted rank.

[Illustration: Fig. 387.--Dalmatica and Sandals of Charlemagne, Insignia
of the Kings of France at their Coronation, preserved in the Treasury of
the Abbey of St. Denis.]

The ceremonies which accompanied the accessions of the emperors of Germany
(Fig. 388) are equally interesting, and were settled by a decree which the
Emperor Charles IX. promulgated in 1356, at the Diet of Nuremberg.
According to the terms of this decree--which is still preserved among the
archives of Frankfort-on-the-Main, and which is known as the _bulle d'or_,
or golden bull, from the fact of its bearing a seal of pure gold--on the
death of an emperor, the Archbishop of Mayence summoned, for an appointed
day, the Prince Electors of the Empire, who, during the whole course of
the Middle Ages, remained seven in number, "in honour," says the bull, "of
the seven candlesticks mentioned in the Apocalypse." These Electors--who
occupied the same position near the Emperor that the twelve peers did in
relation to the King of France--were the Archbishops of Mayence, of
Trèves, and of Cologne, the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the
Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, and the Margrave of Brandenburg. On the
appointed day, the mass of the Holy Spirit was duly solemnized in the
Church of St. Bartholomew of Frankfort, a town in which not only the
election of the Emperor, but also his coronation, almost always took
place, though one might have supposed that Aix-la-Chapelle would have been
selected for such ceremonies. The Electors attended, and after the service
was concluded, they retired to the sacristy of the church, accompanied by
their officers and secretaries, They had thirty days for deliberation, but
beyond that period they were not allowed "to eat bread or drink water"
until they had agreed, at least by a majority, to give _a temporal chief
to the Christian people, that is to say, a King of the Romans, who should
in due time be promoted to be Emperor_, The newly-elected prince was, in
fact, at first simply _King of the Romans_, and this title was often borne
by persons who were merely nominated for the office by the voice of the
Electors, or by political combinations. In order to be promoted to the
full measure of power and authority, the King of the Romans had to receive
both religions consecration and the crown. The ceremonies adopted at this
solemnity were very analogous to those used at the consecrations of the
kings of France, as well as to those of installation of all Christian
princes. The service was celebrated by the Archbishop of Cologne, who
placed the crown on the head of the sovereign-elect, whom he consecrated
Emperor. The symbols of his authority were handed to him by the Electors,
and then he was proclaimed, "_Cæsar, most sacred, ever august Majesty,
Emperor, of the Holy Roman Empire of the nation of Germany_."

[Illustration: Fig. 388.--Costume of Emperors at their Coronation since
the Time of Charlemagne.--From an Engraving in a Work entitled "Insignia
Sacre Majistatis Cæsarum Principum." Frankfort, 1579, in folio.]

The imperial _cortége_ then came out from the Church of St. Bartholomew,
and went through the town, halting at the town-hall (called the _Roemer_,
in commemoration of the noble name of Rome), where a splendid banquet,
prepared in the _Kaysersaal_ (hall of the Caesars), awaited the principal
performers in this august ceremony.

At the moment that the Emperor set foot on the threshold of the Roemer,
the Elector of Saxony, Chief Marshal of the Empire, on horseback, galloped
at full speed towards a heap of oats which was piled up in the middle of
the square. Holding in one hand a silver measure, and in the other a
scraper of the same metal, each of which weighed six marks, he filled the
measure with oats, levelled it with the scraper, and handed it over to the
hereditary marshal. The rest of the heap was noisily scrambled for by the
people who had been witnesses of this allegorical performance. Then the
Count Palatine, as chief seneschal, proceeded to perform his part in the
ceremony, which consisted of placing before the Emperor, who was sitting
at table, four silver dishes, each weighing three marks. The King of
Bohemia, as chief butler, handed to the monarch wine and water in a silver
cup weighing twelve marks; and then the Margrave of Magdeburg presented to
him a silver basin of the same weight for washing his hands. The other
three Electors, or arch-chancellors, provided at their own expense the
silver baton, weighing twelve marks, suspended to which one of them
carried the seals of the empire. Lastly, the Emperor, and with him the
Empress if he was married, the princes, and the Electors, sat down to a
banquet at separate tables, and were waited upon by their respective
officers. On another table or stage were placed the Imperial insignia. The
ceremony was concluded outside by public rejoicings: fountains were set to
play; wine, beer, and other beverages were distributed; gigantic bonfires
were made, at which whole oxen were roasted; refreshment tables were set
out in the open air, at which any one might sit down and partake, and, in
a word, every bounty as well as every amusement was provided. In this way
for centuries public fêtes were celebrated on these occasions.

[Illustration: Fig. 389.--Imperial Procession.--From an Engraving of the
"Solemn Entry of Charles V. and Clement VII. into Bologna," by L. de
Cranach, from a Fresco by Brusasorci, of Verona.]

The doges of Venice, as well as the emperors of Germany, and some other
heads of states, differed from other Christian sovereigns in this respect,
that, instead of holding their high office by hereditary or divine right,
they were installed therein by election. At Venice, a conclave, consisting
of forty electors, appointed by a much more numerous body of men of high
position, elected the Doge, or president of _the most serene Republic_.

From the day when Laurent Tiepolo, immediately after his election in 1268,
was spontaneously carried in triumph by the Venetian sailors, it became
the custom for a similar ovation to take place in honour of any
newly-elected doge. In order to do this, the workmen of the harbour had
the new Doge seated in a splendid palanquin, and carried him on their
shoulders in great pomp round the Piazza San Marco. But another still more
characteristic ceremony distinguished this magisterial election. On
Ascension Day, the Doge, entering a magnificent galley, called the
_Bucentaur_, which was elegantly equipped, and resplendent with gold and
precious stuffs, crossed the Grand Canal, went outside the town, and
proceeded in the midst of a nautical _cortége_, escorted by bands of
music, to the distance of about a league from the town on the Adriatic
Gulf. Then the Patriarch of Venice gave his blessing to the sea, and the
Doge, taking the helm, threw a gold ring into the water, saying, "O sea! I
espouse thee in the name, and in token, of our true and perpetual
sovereignty." Immediately the waters were strewed with flowers, and the
shouts of joy, and the clapping of hands of the crowd, were intermingled
with the strains of instruments of music of all sorts, whilst the glorious
sky of Venice smiled on the poetic scene.

The greater part of the principal ceremonies of the Middle Ages acquired,
from various accessory and local circumstances, a character of grandeur
well fitted to impress the minds of the populace. On these memorable
occasions the exhibition of some historical memorial, of certain
traditional symbols, of certain relics, &c., brought to the recollection
the most celebrated events in national history--events already possessing
the prestige of antiquity as well as the veneration of the people. Thus,
as a memorial of the consecration of the kings of Hungary, the actual
crown of holy King Stephen was used; at the consecration of the kings of
England, the actual chair of Edward the Confessor was used; at the
consecration of the emperors of Germany, the imperial insignia actually
used by Charlemagne formed part of the display; at the consecration of the
kings of France at a certain period, the hand of justice of St. Louis,
which has been before alluded to, was produced.

[Illustration: Fig. 390.--Standards of the Church and the Empire.--Reduced
from an Engraving of the "Entry of Charles V. and Clement VII. into
Bologna," by Lucas de Cranach, from a Fresco by Brusasorci, of Verona.]

After their consecration by the Church and by the spiritual power, the
sovereigns had simply to take actual possession of their dominions, and,
so to speak, of their subjects. This positive act of sovereignty was often
accompanied by another class of ceremonies, called _joyous entry_, or
_public entry._ These entries, of which numerous accounts have been handed
down to us by historians, and which for the most part were very varied in
character, naturally took place in the capital city. We will limit
ourselves to transcribing the account given by the ancient chronicler,
Juvenal des Ursins, of the entry into Paris of Queen Isabel of Bavaria,
wife of Charles VI., which was a curious specimen of the public fêtes of
this kind.

[Illustration: Fig. 391.--Grand Procession of the Doge, Venice (Sixteenth
Century).--Reduced from one of fourteen Engravings representing this
Ceremony, designed and engraved by J. Amman.]

"In the year 1389, the King was desirous that the Queen should make a
public entry into Paris, and this he made known to the inhabitants, in
order that they should make preparations for it. And there were at each
cross roads divers _histoires_ (historical representations, pictures, or
tableaux vivants), and fountains sending forth water, wine, and milk. The
people of Paris in great numbers went out to meet the Queen, with the
Provost of the Merchants, crying '_Noel!_' The bridge by which she passed
was covered with blue taffeta, embroidered with golden fleurs-de-lys. A
man of light weight, dressed in the guise of an angel, came down, by means
of some well-constructed machinery, from one of the towers of Notre-Dame,
to the said bridge through an opening in the said blue taffeta, at the
moment when the Queen was passing, and placed a beautiful crown on her
head. After he had done this, he withdrew through the said opening by the
same means, and thus appeared as if he were returning to the skies of his
own accord. Before the Grand Chastelet there was a splendid court adorned
with azure tapestry, which was intended to be a representation of the
_lit-de-justice,_ and it was very large and richly decorated. In the
middle of it was a very large pure white artificial stag, its horns gilt,
and its neck encircled with a crown of gold. It was so ingeniously
constructed that its eyes, horns, mouth, and all its limbs, were put in
motion by a man who was secreted within its body. Hanging to its neck were
the King's arms--that is to say, three gold fleur-de-lys on an azure
shield.... Near the stag there was a large sword, beautiful and bright,
unsheathed; and when the Queen passed, the stag was made to take the sword
in the right fore-foot, to hold it out straight, and to brandish it. It
was reported to the King that the said preparations were made, and he said
to Savoisy, who was one of those nearest to him, 'Savoisy, I earnestly
entreat thee to mount a good horse, and I will ride behind thee, and we
will so dress ourselves that no one will know us, and let us go and see
the entry of my wife.' And, although Savoisy did all he could to dissuade
him, the King insisted, and ordered that it should be done. So Savoisy did
what the King had ordered, and disguised himself as well as he could, and
mounted on a powerful horse with the King behind him. They went through
the town, and managed so as to reach the Chastelet at the time the Queen
was passing. There was a great crowd, and Savoisy placed himself as near
as he could, and there were sergeants on all sides with thick birch wands,
who, in order to prevent the crowd from pressing upon and injuring the
court where the stag was, hit away with their wands as hard as they could.
Savoisy struggled continually to get nearer and nearer, and the sergeants,
who neither knew the King nor Savoisy, struck away at them, and the King
received several very hard and well-directed blows on the shoulders. In
the evening, in the presence of the ladies, the matter was talked over,
and they began to joke about it, and even the King himself laughed at the
blows he had received. The Queen on her entry was seated on a litter, and
very magnificently dressed, as were also the ladies and maids of honour.
It was indeed a splendid sight; and if any one wished to describe the
dresses of the ladies, of the knights and squires, and of those who
escorted the Queen, it would take a long time to do so. After supper,
singing and dancing commenced, which continued until daylight. The next
day there were tournaments and other sports" (Fig. 392).

[Illustration: Entry of Charles the Seventh into Paris

A miniature from _Monstrelet the Chronicles_ in the Bibl. nat. de Paris,
no 20,861 Costumes of the Sixteenth century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 392.--Tournaments in honour of the Entry of Queen
Isabel into Paris--From a Miniature in the "Chroniques" of Froissart,
Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century (National Library of Paris).]

[Illustration: Fig. 393.--Seat of Justice, held by King Philippe de Valois,
on the 8th April, 1332, for the Trial of Robert, Comte d'Artois.--From a
Pen-and-ink Sketch in an Original Manuscript (Arch. of the Empire)]

In the course of this simple and graphic description mention has been made
of the _lit de justice_ (seat of justice). All judicial or legislative
assemblies at which the King considered it his duty to be present were
thus designated; when the King came there simply as a looker-on, they were
more commonly called _plaidoyers_, and, in this case, no change was made
in the ordinary arrangements; but when the King presided they were called
_conseils_, and then a special ceremonial was required. In fact, by _lit
de justice_ (Fig. 393), or _cour des pairs_, we understand a court
consisting of the high officers of the crown, and of the great executive
of the State, whose duty it was to determine whether any peer of France
should be tried on a criminal charge; gravely to deliberate on any
political matter of special interest; or to register, in the name of the
absolute sovereignty of the King, any edict of importance. We know the
prominent, and, we may say, even the fatal, part played by these
solemnities, which were being continually re-enacted, and on every sort of
pretext, during the latter days of monarchy. These courts were always held
with impressive pomp. The sovereign usually summoned to them the princes
of the blood royal and the officers of his household; the members of the
Parliament took their seats in scarlet robes, the presidents being habited
in their caps and their mantles, and the registrars of the court also
wearing their official dress. The High Chancellor, the First Chamberlain,
and the Provost of Paris, sat at the King's feet. The Chancellor of
France, the presidents and councillors of the Parliament, occupied the
bar, and the ushers of the court were in a kneeling posture.

Having thus mentioned the assemblies of persons of distinction, the
interviews of sovereigns (Fig. 394), and the reception of
ambassadors--without describing them in detail, which would involve more
space than we have at our command--we will enter upon the subject of the
special ceremonial adopted by the nobility, taking as our guide the
standard book called "Honneurs de la Cour," compiled at the end of the
fifteenth century by the celebrated Aliénor de Poitiers. In addition to
her own observations, she gives those of her mother, Isabelle de Souza,
who herself had but continued the work of another noble lady, Jeanne
d'Harcourt--married in 1391 to the Count William de Namur--who was
considered the best authority to be found in the kingdom of France. This
collection of the customs of the court forms a kind of family diary
embracing three generations, and extending back over more than a century.

Notwithstanding the curious and interesting character of this book, and
the authority which it possesses on this subject, we cannot, much to our
regret, do more than borrow a few passages from it; but these, carefully
selected, will no doubt suffice to give some idea of the manners and
customs of the nobility during the fifteenth century, and to illustrate
the laws of etiquette of which it was the recognised code.

One of the early chapters of the work sets forth this fundamental law of
French ceremonial, namely, that, "according to the traditions or customs
of France, women, however exalted their position, be they even king's
daughters, rank with their husbands." We find on the occasion of the
marriage of King Charles VII. with Mary of Anjou, in 1413, although
probably there had never been assembled together so many princes and
ladies of rank, that at the banquet the ladies alone dined with the Queen,
"and no gentlemen sat with them." We may remark, whilst on this subject,
that before the reign of Francis I. it was not customary for the two sexes
to be associated together in the ordinary intercourse of court life; and
we have elsewhere remarked (see chapter on Private Life) that this
departure from ancient custom exerted a considerable influence, not only
on manners, but also on public affairs.

[Illustration: Fig. 394.--Interview of King Charles V. with the Emperor
Charles IV. in Paris in 1378.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Description of this Interview, Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, in the
Library of the Arsenal of Paris.]

The authoress of the "Honneurs de la Cour" specially mentions the respect
which Queen Mary of Anjou paid to the Duchess of Burgundy when she was at
Châlons in Champagne in 1445: "The Duchess came with all her retinue, on
horseback and in carriages, into the courtyard of the mansion where the
King and Queen were, and there alighted, her first maid of honour acting
as her train-bearer. M. de Bourbon gave her his right hand, and the
gentlemen went on in front. In this manner she was conducted to the hall
which served as the ante-chamber to the Queen's apartment. There she
stopped, and sent in M. de Crequi to ask the Queen if it was her pleasure
that she should enter.... When the Duchess came to the door she took the
train of her dress from the lady who bore it and let it trail on the
ground, and as she entered she knelt and then adyanced to the middle of
the room. There she made the same obeisance, and moved straight towards
the Queen, who was standing close to the foot of her throne. When the
Duchess had performed a further act of homage, the Queen advanced two or
three steps, and the Duchess fell on her knees; the Queen then put her
hand on her shoulder, embraced her, kissed her, and commanded her to

The Duchess then went up to Margaret of Scotland, wife of the Dauphin,
afterwards Louis XI., "who was four or five feet from the Queen," and paid
her the same honours as she had done to the Queen, although the Dauphine
appeared to wish to prevent her from absolutely kneeling to her. After
this she turned towards the Queen of Sicily (Isabelle de Lorraine, wife of
René of Anjou, brother-in-law of the King), "who was two or three feet
from the Dauphine," and merely bowed to her, and the same to another
Princess, Madame de Calabre, who was still more distantly connected with
the blood royal. Then the Queen, and after her the Dauphine, kissed the
three maids of honour of the Duchess and the wives of the gentlemen. The
Duchess did the same to the ladies who accompanied the Queen and the
Dauphine, "but of those of the Queen of Sicily the Duchess kissed none,
inasmuch as the Queen had not kissed hers. And the Duchess would not walk
behind the Queen, for she said that the Duke of Burgundy was nearer the
crown of France than was the King of Sicily, and also that she was
daughter of the King of Portugal, who was greater than the King of

Further on, from the details given of a similar reception, we learn that
etiquette was not at that time regulated by the laws of politeness as now
understood, inasmuch as the voluntary respect paid by men to the gentle
sex was influenced much by social rank. Thus, at the time of a visit of
Louis XI., then Dauphin, to the court of Brussels, to which place he went
to seek refuge against the anger of his father, the Duchesses of Burgundy,
of Charolais, and of Clèves, his near relatives, exhibited towards him all
the tokens of submission and inferiority which he might have received from
a vassal. The Dauphin, it is true, wished to avoid this homage, and a
disussion on the subject of "more than a quarter of an hour ensued;" at
last he took the Duchess of Burgundy by the arm and led her away, in order
to cut short the ceremonies "about which Madame made so much to do." This,
however, did not prevent the princesses, on their withdrawing, from
kneeling to the ground in order to show their respect for the son of the
King of France.

[Illustration: Fig. 395.--The Entry of Louis XI. into Paris.--Fac-simile
of a Miniature in the "Chroniques" of Monstrelet, Manuscript of the
Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

We have already seen that the Duchess of Burgundy, when about to appear
before the Queen, took her train from her train-bearer in order that she
might carry it herself. In this she was only conforming to a general
principle, which was, that in the presence of a superior, a person,
however high his rank, should not himself receive honours whilst at the
same time paying them to another. Thus a duke and a duchess amidst their
court had all the things which were used at their table covered--hence the
modern expression, _mettre le couvert_ (to lay the cloth)--even the
wash-hand basin and the _cadenas_, a kind of case in which the cups,
knives, and other table articles were kept; but when they were
entertaining a king all these marks of superiority were removed, as a
matter of etiquette, from the table at which they sat, and were passed on
as an act of respect to the sovereign present.

The book of Dame Aliénor, in a series of articles to which we shall merely
allude, speaks at great length and enters into detail respecting the
interior arrangements of the rooms in which princes and other noble
children were born. The formalities gone through on these occasions were
as curious as they were complicated; and Dame Aliénor regretted to see
them falling into disuse, "owing to which," she says, "we fear that the
possessions of the great houses of the nobility are getting too large, as
every one admits, and chicanery or concealment of birth, so as to make
away with too many children, is on the increase."

Mourning is the next subject which we shall notice. The King never wore
black for mourning, not even for his father, but scarlet or violet. The
Queen wore white, and did not leave her apartments for a whole year. Hence
the name of _château, hôtel,_ or _tour de la Reine Blanche_, which many of
the buildings of the Middle Ages still bear, from the fact that widowed
queens inhabited them during the first year of their widowhood. On
occasions of mourning, the various reception rooms of a house were hung
with black. In deep mourning, such as that for a husband or a father, a
lady wore neither gloves, jewels, nor silk. The head was covered with a
low black head-dress, with trailing lappets, called _chaperons,
barbettes, couvre-chefs_, and _tourets_. A duchess and the wife of a
knight or a banneret, on going into mourning, stayed in their apartments
for six weeks; the former, during the whole of this time, when in deep
mourning, remained lying down all day on a bed covered with a white sheet;
whereas the latter, at the end of nine days, got up, and until the six
weeks were over, remained sitting in front of the bed on a black sheet.
Ladies did not attend the funerals of their husbands, though it was usual
for them to be present at those of their fathers and mothers. For an elder
brother, they wore the same mourning as for a father, but they did not lie
down as above described.

[Illustration: Fig. 396.--"How the King-at-Arms presents the Sword to the
Duke of Bourbon."--From a Miniature in "Tournois du Roi René," Manuscript
of the Fifteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

In their everyday intercourse with one another, kings, princes, dukes, and
duchesses called one another _monsieur_ and _madame_, adding the Christian
name or that of the estate. A superior speaking or writing to an inferior,
might prefix to his or her title of relationship _beau_ or _belle_; for
instance, _mon bel oncle, ma belle cousine_. People in a lower sphere of
life, on being introduced to one another, did not say, "Monsieur Jean, ma
belle tante"--"Mr. John, allow me to introduce you to my aunt"--but
simply, "Jean, ma tante." The head of a house had his seat under a canopy
or _dosseret_ (Fig. 396), which he only relinquished to his sovereign,
when he had the honour of entertaining him. "Such," says Aliénor, in
conclusion, "are the points of etiquette which are observed in Germany, in
France, in Naples, in Italy, and in all other civilised countries and
kingdoms." We may here remark, that etiquette, after having originated in
France, spread throughout all Christian nations, and when it had become
naturalised, as it were, amongst the latter, it acquired a settled
position, which it retained more firmly than it did in France. In this
latter country, it was only from the seventeenth century, and particularly
under Louis XIV., that court etiquette really became a science, and almost
a species of religions observance, whose minutiae were attended to as much
as if they were sacramental rites, though they were not unfrequently of
the most childish character, and whose pomp and precision often caused the
most insufferable annoyance. But notwithstanding the perpetual changes of
times and customs, the French nation has always been distinguished for
nobility and dignity, tempered with good sense and elegance.

If we now direct our attention to the _tiers état_, that class which, to
quote a celebrated expression, "was destined to become everything, after
having for a long time been looked upon as nothing," we shall notice that
there, too, custom and tradition had much to do with ceremonies of all
kinds. The presence of the middle classes not only gave, as it were, a
stamp of grandeur to fêtes of an aristocratic and religions character,
but, in addition, the people themselves had a number of ceremonies of
every description, in which etiquette was not one whit less strict than
in those of the court. The variety of civic and popular ceremonies is so
great, that it would require a large volume, illustrated with numerous
engravings, to explain fully their characteristic features. The simple
enumeration of the various public fêtes, each of which was necessarily
accompanied by a distinct ceremonial, would take up much time were we to
attempt to give it even in the shortest manner.

[Illustration: Fig. 397.--Entry of the Roi de l'Epinette at Lille, in the
Sixteenth Century.--From a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Library of

Besides the numerous ceremonies which were purely religious, namely, the
procession of the _Fête-Dieu_, in Rogation week, and the fêtes which were
both of a superstitions and burlesque character, such as _des Fous, de
l'Ane, des Innocents_, and others of the same kind, so much in vogue
during the Middle Ages, and which we shall describe more in detail
hereafter, we should like to mention the military or gymnastic fêtes.
Amongst these were what were called the processions of the _Confrères de
l'Arquebuse_, the _Archers_, the _Papegaut_, the _roi de l'Epinette_, at
Lille (Fig. 397), and the _Forestier_ at Bruges. There were also what may
be termed the fêtes peculiar to certain places, such as those of _Béhors_,
of the _Champs Galat_ at Epinal, of the _Laboureurs_ at Montélimar, of
_Guy l'an neuf_ at Anjou. Also of the fêtes of _May_, of the _sheaf_, of
the _spring_, of the _roses_, of the _fires of St. John_, &c. Then there
were the historical or commemorative fêtes, such as those of the _Géant
Reuss_ at Dunkerque, of the _Gayant_ at Douai, &c.; also of _Guet de
Saint-Maxime_ at Riez in Provence, the processions of _Jeanne d'Arc_ at
Orleans, of _Jeanne Hachette_ at Beauvais; and lastly, the numerous fêtes
of public corporations, such as the _Écoliers_, the _Nations_, the
_Universités_; also the _Lendit_, the _Saint-Charlemagne_, the _Baillée
des roses au Parlement_; the literary fêtes of the _Pays et Chambres de
rhetorique_ of Picardy and Flanders, of the _Clémence Isaure_ at Toulouse,
and of the _Capitole_ at Rome, &c.; the fêtes of the _Serments, Métiers_,
and _Devoirs_ of the working men's corporation; and lastly, the _Fêtes
Patronales_, called also _Assemblées, Ducasses, Folies, Foires, Kermesses,
Pardons_, &c.

From this simple enumeration, it can easily be understood what a useless
task we should impose upon ourselves were we merely to enter upon so wide
and difficult a subject. Apart from the infinite variety of details
resulting from the local circumstances under which these ceremonies had
been instituted, which were everywhere celebrated at fixed periods, a kind
of general principle regulated and directed their arrangement. Nearly all
these fêtes and public rejoicings, which to a certain extent constituted
the common basis of popular ceremonial, bore much analogy to one another.
There are, however, certain peculiarities less known and more striking
than the rest, which deserve to be mentioned, and we shall then conclude
this part of our subject.

[Illustration: Fig. 398.--Representation of a Ballet before Henri III.
and his Court, in the Gallery of the Louvre.--Fac-simile of an Engraving
on Copper of the "Ballet de la Royne," by Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx (folio,
Paris, Mamert Patisson, 1582.)]

Those rites, ceremonies, and customs, which are the most commonly
observed, and which most persistently keep their place amongst us, are far
from being of modern origin. Thus, the custom of jovially celebrating the
commencement of the new year, or of devoting certain particular days to
festivity, is still universally followed in every country in the world.
The practice of sending presents on _New Year's Day_ is to be found among
civilised nations in the East as well as in our own country. In the Middle
Ages the intimate friends of princes, and especially of the kings of
France, received Christmas gifts, for which they considered themselves
bound to make an ample return. In England these interchanges of generosity
also take place on Christmas Day. In Russia, on Easter Day, the people, on
meeting in the street, salute one another by saying "Christ is risen."
These practices, as well as many others, have no doubt been handed down to
us from the early ages of Christianity. The same may be said of a vast
number of customs of a more or less local character, which have been
observed in various countries for centuries. In former times, at
Ochsenbach, in Wurtemberg, during the carnival, women held a feast at
which they were waited upon by men, and, after it was over, they formed
themselves into a sort of court of plenary indulgence, from which the men
were uniformly excluded, and sat in judgment on one another. At Ramerupt,
a small town in Champagne, every year, on the 1st of May, twenty of the
citizens repaired to the adjoining hamlet of St. Remy, hunting as they
went along. They were called _the fools of Rameru_, and it was said that
the greatest fool led the band. The inhabitants of St. Remy were bound to
receive them gratuitously, and to supply them, as well as their horses and
dogs, with what they required, to have a mass said for them, to put up
with all the absurd vagaries of the captain and his troop, and to supply
them with a _fine and handsome horned ram,_ which was led back in triumph.
On their return into Ramerupt they set up shouts at the door of the curé,
the procurator fiscal, and the collector of taxes, and, after the
invention of gunpowder, fireworks were let off. They then went to the
market-place, where they danced round the ram, which was decorated with
ribbons. No doubt this was a relic of the feasts of ancient heathenism.

A more curious ceremony still, whose origin, we think, may be traced to
the Dionysian feasts of heathenism, has continued to be observed to this
day at Béziers. It bears the names of the _Feast of Pepézuch_, the
_Triumph of Béziers,_ or the _Feast of Caritats_ or _Charités_. At the
bottom of the Rue Française at Béziers, a statue is to be seen which,
notwithstanding the mutilations to which it has been subjected, still
distinctly bears traces of being an ancient work of the most refined
period of art. This statue represents Pepézuch, a citizen of Béziers, who,
according to somewhat questionable tradition, valiantly defended the town
against the Goths, or, as some say, against the English; its origin,
therefore, cannot be later than the thirteenth century. On Ascension Day,
the day of the Feast of Pepézuch, an immense procession went about the
town. Three remarkable machines were particularly noticeable; the first
was an enormous wooden camel made to walk by mechanism, and to move its
limbs and jaws; the second was a galley on wheels fully manned; the third
consisted of a cart on which a travelling theatre was erected. The consuls
and other civic authorities, the corporations of trades having the pastors
walking in front of them, the farriers on horseback, all bearing their
respective insignia and banners, formed the procession. A double column,
composed of a division of young men and young women holding white hoops
decorated with ribbons and many-coloured streamers, was preceded by a
young girl crowned with flowers, half veiled, and carrying a basket. This
brilliant procession marched to the sound of music, and, at certain
distances, the youthful couples of the two sexes halted, in order to
perform, with the assistance of their hoops, various figures, which were
called the _Danse des Treilles_. The machines also stopped from time to
time at various places. The camel was especially made to enter the Church
of St. Aphrodise, because it was said that the apostle had first come on a
camel to preach the Gospel in that country, and there to receive the palm
of martyrdom. On arriving before the statue of Pepézuch the young people
decorated it with garlands. When the square of the town was reached, the
theatre was stopped like the ancient car of Thespis, and the actors
treated the people to a few comical drolleries in imitation of
Aristophanes. From the galley the youths flung sugar-plums and sweetmeats,
which the spectators returned in equal profusion. The procession closed
with a number of men, crowned with green leaves, carrying on their heads
loaves of bread, which, with other provisions contained in the galley,
were distributed amongst the poor of the town.

In Germany and in France it was the custom at the public entries of kings,
princes, and persons of rank, to offer them the wines made in the district
and commonly sold in the town. At Langres, for instance, these wines were
put into four pewter vessels called _cimaises_, which are still to be
seen. They were called the _lion, monkey, sheep_, and _pig_ wines,
symbolical names, which expressed the different degrees or phases of
drunkenness which they were supposed to be capable of producing: the lion,
courage; the monkey, cunning; the sheep, good temper; the pig, bestiality.

We will now conclude by borrowing, from the excellent work of M. Alfred
Michiels on Dutch and Flemish painting, the abridged description of a
procession of corporations of trades, which took place at Antwerp in 1520,
on the Sunday after Ascension Day. "All the corporations of trades were
present, every member being dressed in his best suit." In front of each
guild a banner floated; and immediately behind an enormous lighted
wax-taper was carried. March music was played on long silver trumpets,
flutes, and drums. The goldsmiths, painters, masons, silk embroiderers,
sculptors, carpenters, boatmen, fishermen, butchers, curriers, drapers,
bakers, tailors, and men of every other trade marched two abreast. Then
came crossbowmen, arquebusiers, archers, &c., some on foot and some on
horseback. After them came the various monastic orders; and then followed
a crowd of bourgeois magnificently dressed. A numerous company of widows,
dressed in white from head to foot, particularly attracted attention; they
constituted a sort of sisterhood, observing certain rules, and gaining
their livelihood by various descriptions of manual work. The cathedral
canons and the other priests walked in the procession in their gorgeous
silk vestments sparkling with gold. Twenty persons carried on their
shoulders a huge figure of the Virgin, with the infant Saviour in her
arms, splendidly decorated. At the end of the procession were chariots and
ships on wheels. There were various groups in the procession representing
scenes from the Old and New Testament, such as the _Salutation of the
Angels_, the _Visitation of the Magi_, who appeared riding on camels, the
_Flight into Egypt_, and other well-known historical incidents. The last
machine represented a dragon being led by St. Margaret with a magnificent
bridle, and was followed by St. George and several brilliantly attired

[Illustration: Fig. 399.--Sandal and Buskin of Charlemagne.--From the
Abbey of St. Denis.]


  Influence of Ancient Costume.--Costume in the Fifth
  Century.--Hair.--Costumes in the Time of Charlemagne.--Origin of Modern
  National Dress.--Head-dresses and Beards: Time of St. Louis.--Progress
  of Dress: Trousers, Hose, Shoes, Coats, Surcoats, Capes.--Changes in the
  Fashions of Shoes and Hoods.--_Livrée_,--Cloaks and Capes.--Edicts
  against Extravagant Fashions.--Female Dress: Gowns, Bonnets,
  Head-dresses, &c.--Disappearance of Ancient Dress.--Tight-fitting
  Gowns.--General Character of Dress under Francis I.--Uniformity of

Long garments alone were worn by the ancients, and up to the period when
the barbarous tribes of the North made their appearance, or rather, until
the invasion of the Roman Empire by these wandering nations, male and
female dress differed but little. The Greeks made scarcely any change in
their mode of dress for centuries; but the Romans, on becoming masters of
the world, partially adopted the dress and arms of the people they had
conquered, where they considered them an improvement on their own,
although the original style of dress was but little altered (Figs. 400 and

Roman attire consisted of two garments--the under garment, or _tunic_, and
the outer garment, or _cloak_; the latter was known under the various
names of _chlamys, toga_, and _pallium_, but, notwithstanding these
several appellations, there was scarcely any appreciable distinction
between them. The simple tunic with sleeves, which answered to our shirt,
was like the modern blouse in shape, and was called by various names. The
_chiridota_ was a tunic with long and large sleeves, of Asiatic origin;
the _manuleata_ was a tunic with long and tight sleeves coming to the
wrists; the _talaris_ was a tunic reaching to the feet; the _palmata_ was
a state tunic, embroidered with palms, which ornamentation was often found
in other parts of dress. The _lacerna_, _loena_, _cucullus_, _chlamys_,
_sagum_, _paludamentum_, were upper garments, more or less coarse, either
full or scant, and usually short, and were analogous to our cloaks,
mantles, &c., and were made both with and without hoods. There were many
varieties of the tunic and cloak invented by female ingenuity, as well as
of other articles of dress, which formed elegant accessories to the
toilet, but there was no essential alteration in the national costume, nor
was there any change in the shape of the numerous descriptions of shoes.
The barbarian invasions brought about a revolution in the dress as well as
in the social state of the people, and it is from the time of these
invasions that we may date, properly speaking, the history of modern
dress; for the Roman costume, which was in use at the same time as that of
the Franks, the Huns, the Vandals, the Goths, &c., was subjected to
various changes down to the ninth century. These modifications increased
afterwards to such an extent that, towards the fourteenth century, the
original type had altogether disappeared.

[Illustration: Figs. 400 and 401.--Gallo-Roman Costumes.--From Bas-reliefs
discovered in Paris in 1711 underneath the Choir of Notre-Dame.]

It was quite natural that men living in a temperate climate, and bearing
arms only when in the service of the State, should be satisfied with
garments which they could wear without wrapping themselves up too closely.
The northern nations, on the contrary, had early learned to protect
themselves against the severity of the climate in which they lived. Thus
the garments known by them as _braies_, and by the Parthians as
_sarabara_, doubtless gave origin to those which have been respectively
called by us _chausses, haut-de-chausses, trousses, grègues, culottes,
pantalons_, &c. These wandering people had other reasons for preferring
the short and close-fitting garments to those which were long and full,
and these were their innate pugnacity, which forced them ever to be under
arms, their habit of dwelling in forests and thickets, their love of the
chase, and their custom of wearing armour.

The ancient Greeks and Romans always went bareheaded in the towns; but in
the country, in order to protect themselves from the direct rays of the
sun, they wore hats much resembling our round hats, made of felt, plaited
rushes, or straw. Other European nations of the same period also went
bareheaded, or wore caps made of skins of animals, having no regularity of
style, and with the shape of which we are but little acquainted.

Shoes, and head-dresses of a definite style, belong to a much more modern
period, as also do the many varieties of female dress, which have been
known at all times and in all countries under the general name of _robes_.
The girdle was only used occasionally, and its adoption depended on
circumstances; the women used it in the same way as the men, for in those
days it was never attached to the dress. The great difference in modern
female costume consists in the fact of the girdle being part of the dress,
thus giving a long or short waist, according to the requirements of
fashion. In the same manner, a complete revolution took place in men's
dress according as loose or tight, long or short sleeves were introduced.

We shall commence our historical sketch from the fifth century, at which
period we can trace the blending of the Roman with the barbaric
costume--namely, the combination of the long, shapeless garment with that
which was worn by the Germans, and which was accompanied by tight-fitting
braies. Thus, in the recumbent statue which adorned the tomb of Clovis, in
the Church of the Abbey of St. Geneviève, the King is represented as
wearing the _tunic_ and the _toga_, but, in addition, Gallo-Roman
civilization had actually given him tight-fitting braies, somewhat similar
to what we now call pantaloons. Besides this, his tunic is fastened by a
belt; which, however, was not a novelty in his time, for the women then
wore long dresses, fastened at the waist by a girdle. There is nothing
very remarkable about his shoes, since we find that the shoe, or closed
sandal, was worn from the remotest periods by nearly all nations (Figs.
402 and 403).

[Illustration: Fig. 402.--Costume of King Clovis (Sixth Century).--From a
Statue on his Tomb, formerly in the Abbey of St. Geneviève.]

[Illustration: Fig. 403.--Costume of King Childebert (Seventh
Century).--From a Statue formerly placed in the Refectory of the Abbey of
St. Germain-des-Prés.]

The cloak claims an equally ancient origin. The principal thing worthy of
notice is the amount of ornament with which the Franks enriched their
girdles and the borders of their tunics and cloaks. This fashion they
borrowed from the Imperial court, which, having been transferred from Rome
to Constantinople during the third century, was not slow to adopt the
luxury of precious stones and other rich decorations commonly in use
amongst Eastern nations. Following the example of Horace de Vielcastel,
the learned author of a history of the costumes of France, we may here
state that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to define the exact
costume during the time of the early Merovingian periods. The first
writers who have touched upon this subject have spoken of it very vaguely,
or not being contemporaries of the times of which they wrote, could only
describe from tradition or hearsay. Those monuments in which early costume
is supposed to be represented are almost all of later date, when artists,
whether sculptors or painters, were not very exact in their delineations
of costume, and even seemed to imagine that no other style could have
existed before their time than the one with which they were daily
familiar. In order to be as accurate as possible, although, after all, we
can only speak hypothetically, we cannot do better than call to mind, on
the one hand, what Tacitus says of the Germans, that they "were almost
naked, excepting for a short and tight garment round their waists, and a
little square cloak which they threw over the right shoulder," and, on the
other, to carry ourselves back in imagination to the ancient Roman
costume. We may notice, moreover, the curious description given of the
Franks by Sidoine Apollinaire, who says, "They tied up their flaxen or
light-brown hair above their foreheads, into a kind of tuft, and then made
it fall behind the head like a horse's tail. The face was clean shaved,
with the exception of two long moustaches. They wore cloth garments,
fitting tight to the body and limbs, and a broad belt, to which they hung
their swords." But this is a sketch made at a time when the Frankish race
was only known among the Gauls through its marauding tribes, whose raids,
from time to time, spread terror and dismay throughout the countries which
they visited. From the moment when the uncultivated tribes of ancient
Germany formally took possession of the territory which they had withdrawn
from Roman rule, they showed themselves desirous of adopting the more
gentle manners of the conquered nation. "In imitation of their chief,"
says M. Jules Quicherat, the eminent antiquarian, "more than once the
Franks doffed the war coat and the leather Belt, and assumed the toga of
Roman dignity. More than once their flaxen hair was shown to advantage by
flowing over the imperial mantle, and the gold of the knights, the purple
of the senators and patricians, the triumphal crowns, the fasces, and, in
short, everything which the Roman Empire invented in order to exhibit its
grandeur, assisted in adding to that of our ancestors."

[Illustration: Figs. 404 and 405.--Saints in the Costume of the Sixth to
the Eighth Centuries.--From Miniatures in old Manuscripts of the Royal
Library of Brussels (Designs by Count H. de Vielcastel).]

One great and characteristic difference between the Romans and the Franks
should, however, be specially mentioned; namely, in the fashion of wearing
the hair long, a fashion never adopted by the Romans, and which, during
the whole of the first dynasty, was a distinguishing mark of kings and
nobles among the Franks. Agathias, the Greek historian, says, "The hair is
never cut from the heads of the Frankish kings' sons. From early youth
their hair falls gracefully over their shoulders, it is parted on the
forehead, and falls equally on both sides; it is with them a matter to
which they give special attention." We are told, besides, that they
sprinkled it with gold-dust, and plaited it in small bands, which they
ornamented with pearls and precious metals.

Whilst persons of rank were distinguished by their long and flowing hair,
the people wore theirs more or less short, according to the degree of
freedom which they possessed, and the serfs had their heads completely
shaved. It was customary for the noble and free classes to swear by their
hair, and it was considered the height of politeness to pull out a hair
and present it to a person. Frédégaire, the chronicler, relates that
Clovis thus pulled out a hair in order to do honour to St. Germer, Bishop
of Toulouse, and presented it to him; upon this, the courtiers hastened to
imitate their sovereign, and the venerable prelate returned home with his
hand full of hair, delighted at the flattering reception he had met with
at the court of the Frankish king. Durinig the Merovingian period, the
greatest insult that could be offered to a freeman was to touch him with a
razor or scissors. The degradation of kings and princes was carried out in
a public manner by shaving their heads and sending them into a monastery;
on their regaining their rights and their authority, their hair was always
allowed to grow again. We may also conclude that great importance was
attached to the preservation of the hair even under the kings of the
second dynasty, for Charlemagne, in his Capitulaires, orders the hair to
be removed as a punishment in certain crimes.

The Franks, faithful to their ancient custom of wearing the hair long,
gradually gave up shaving the face. At first, they only left a small tuft
on the chin, but by degrees they allowed this to increase, and in the
sixth and seventh centuries freemen adopted the usual form of beard.
Amongst the clergy, the custom prevailed of shaving the crown of the head,
in the same way as that adopted by certain monastic orders in the present
day. Priests for a long time wore beards, but ceased to do so on their
becoming fashionable amongst the laity (Figs. 406, 407). Painters and
sculptors therefore commit a serious error in representing the prelates
and monks of those times with large beards.

As far as the monumental relics of those remote times allow us to judge,
the dress as worn by Clovis underwent but trifing modifications during the
first dvnasty; but during the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne considerable
changes were effected, which resulted from the intercourse, either of a
friendly or hostile nature, between the Franks and the southern nations.
About this time, silk stuffs were introduced into the kingdom, and the
upper classes, in order to distinguish themselves from the lower, had
their garments trimmed round with costly furs (see chapter on Commerce).

[Illustration: Fig. 406 and 407.--Costume of the Prelates from the Eighth
to the Tenth Centuries--After Miniatures in the "Missal of St. Gregory,"
in the National Library of Paris.]

We have before stated (see chapter on Private Life) that Charlemagne, who
always was very simple in his tastes, strenuously set his face against
these novel introductions of luxury, which he looked upon as tending to do
harm. "Of what use are these cloaks?" he said; "in bed they cannot cover
us, on horseback they can neither protect us from the rain nor the wind,
and when we are sitting they can neither preserve our legs from the cold
nor the damp." He himself generally wore a large tunic made of otters'
skins. On one occasion his courtiers went out hunting with him, clothed in
splendid garments of southern fashion, which became much torn by the
briars, and begrimed with the blood of the animals they had killed. "Oh,
ye foolish men!" he said to them the next day as he showed them his own
tunic, which a servant had just returned to him in perfect condition,
after having simply dried it before the fire and rubbed it with his hands.
"Whose garments are the more valuable and the more useful? mine, for which
I have only paid a sou (about twenty-two francs of present money), or
yours, which have cost so much?" From that time, whenever this great king
entered on a campaign, the officers of his household, even the most rich
and powerful, did not dare to show themselves in any clothes but those
made of leather, wool, or cloth; for had they, on such occasions, made
their appearance dressed in silk and ornaments, he would have sharply
reproved them and have treated them as cowards, or as effeminate, and
consequently unfit for the work in which he was about to engage.

Nevertheless, this monarch, who so severely proscribed luxury in daily
life, made the most magnificent display on the occasions of political or
religious festivals, when the imperial dignity with which he was invested
required to be set forth by pompous ceremonial and richness of attire.

During the reign of the other Carlovingian kings, in the midst of
political troubles, of internal wars, and of social disturbances, they had
neither time nor inclination for inventing new fashions. Monuments of the
latter part of the ninth century prove, indeed, that the national dress
had hardly undergone any change since the time of Charlemagne, and that
the influence of Roman tradition, especially on festive occasions, was
still felt in the dress of the nobles (Figs. 408 to 411).

In a miniature of the large MS. Bible given by the canons of Saint-Martin
of Tours in 869 to Charles the Bald (National Library of Paris), we find
the King sitting on his throne surrounded by the dignitaries of his court,
and by soldiers all dressed after the Roman fashion. The monarch wears a
cloak which seems to be made of cloth of gold, and is attached to the
shoulder by a strap or ribbon sliding through a clasp; this cloak is
embroidered in red, on a gold ground; the tunic is of reddish brown, and
the shoes are light red, worked with gold thread. In the same manuscript
there is another painting, representing four women listening to the
discourse of a prophet. From this we discover that the female costume of
the time consisted of two tunics, the under one being longer but less
capacious than the other, the sleeves of the former coming down tight to
the wrists, and being plaited in many folds, whilst those of the latter
open out, and only reach to the elbow. The lower part, the neck, and the
borders of the sleeves are trimmed with ornamented bands, the waist is
encircled by a girdle just above the hips, and a long veil, finely worked,
and fastened on the head, covers the shoulders and hangs down to the feet,
completely hiding the hair, so that long plaits falling in front were
evidently not then in fashion. The under dress of these four women--who
all wear black shoes, which were probably made of morocco leather--are of
various colours, whereas the gowns or outer tunics are white.

[Illustration: Fig. 408.--Costume of a Scholar of the Carlovingian Period
(St. Matthew writing his Gospel under the Inspiration of Christ).--From a
Miniature in a Manuscript of the Ninth Century, in the Burgundian Library,
Brussels (drawn by Count H. de Vielcastel).]

Notwithstanding that under the Carlovingian dynasty it was always
considered a shame and a dishonour to have the head shaved, it must not be
supposed that the upper classes continued to wear the long Merovingian
style of hair. After the reign of Charlemagne, it was the fashion to shave
the hair from above the forehead, the parting being thus widened, and the
hair was so arranged that it should not fall lower than the middle of the
neck. Under Charles the Bald, whose surname proves that he was not partial
to long hair, this custom fell into disuse or was abandoned, and men had
the greater part of their heads shaved, and only kept a sort of cap of
hair growing on the top of the head. It is at this period that we first
find the _cowl_ worn. This kind of common head-dress, made from the furs
of animals or from woollen stuffs, continued to be worn for many
centuries, and indeed almost to the present day. It was originally only a
kind of cap, light and very small; but it gradually became extended in
size, and successively covered the ears, the neck, and lastly even the

No great change was made in the dress of the two sexes during the tenth
century. "Nothing was more simple than the head-dress of women," says M.
Jules Quicherat; "nothing was less studied than their mode of wearing
their hair; nothing was more simple, and yet finer, than their linen. The
elegant appearance of their garments recalls that of the Greek and Roman,
women. Their dresses were at times so tight as to display all the elegance
of their form, whilst at others they were made so high as completely to
cover the neck; the latter were called _cottes-hardies_. The
_cotte-hardie_, which has at all times been part of the dress of French
women, and which was frequently worn also by men, was a long tunic
reaching to the heels, fastened in at the waist and closed at the wrists.
Queens, princesses, and ladies of the nobility wore in addition a long
cloak lined with ermine, or a tunic with or without sleeves; often, too,
their dress consisted of two tunics, and of a veil or drapery, which was
thrown over the head and fell down before and behind, thus entirely
surrounding the neck."

[Illustration: Fig. 409.--Costume of a Scholar.

Fig. 410.--Costume of a Bishop or Abbot.

Fac-similes of Miniatures in a Manuscript of the Ninth Century ("Biblia
Sacra"), in the Royal Library of Brussels.]

We cannot find that any very decided change was made in dress before the
end of the eleventh century. The ordinary dress made of thick cloths and
of coarse woollen stuffs was very strong and durable, and not easily
spoiled; and it was usual, as we still find in some provinces which adhere
to old customs, for clothes, especially those worn on festive occasions
and at ceremonials, to be handed down as heirlooms from father to son, to
the third or fourth generation. The Normans, who came from Scandinavia
towards the end of the tenth century, A.D. 970, with their short clothes
and coats of mail, at first adopted the dress of the French, and continued
to do so in all its various changes. In the following century, having
found the Saxons and Britons in England clad in the garb of their
ancestors, slightly modified by the Roman style of apparel, they began to
make great changes in their manner of dressing themselves. They more and
more discarded Roman fashions, and assumed similar costumes to those made
in France at the same period.

[Illustration: Fig. 411.--Costume of Charles the Simple (Tenth
Century).--From a Miniature in the "Rois de France," by Du Tillet,
Manuscript of the Sixteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

Before proceeding further in our history of mediæval dress, we must
forestall a remark which will not fail to be made by the reader, and this
is, that we seem to occupy ourselves exclusively with the dress of kings,
queens, and other people of note. But we must reply, that though we are
able to form tolerably accurate notions relative to the dress of the upper
classes during these remote periods, we do not possess any reliable
information relative to that of the lower orders, and that the written
documents, as well as the sculptures and paintings, are almost useless on
this point. Nevertheless, we may suppose that the dress of the men in the
lowest ranks of society has always been short and tight, consisting of
_braies_, or tight drawers, mostly made of leather, of tight tunics, of
_sayons_ or doublets, and of capes or cloaks of coarse brown woollen. The
tunic was confined at the waist by a belt, to which the knife, the purse,
and sometimes the working tools were suspended. The head-dress of the
people was generally a simple cap made of thick, coarse woollen cloth or
felt, and often of sheep's skin. During the twelfth century, a person's
rank or social position was determined by the head-dress. The cap was made
of velvet for persons of rank, and of common cloth for the poor. The
_cornette_, which was always an appendage to the cap, was made of cloth,
with which the cap might be fastened or adjusted on the head. The
_mortier_, or round cap, dates from the earliest centuries, and was
altered both in shape and material according to the various changes of
fashion; but lawyers of high position continued to wear it almost in its
original shape, and it became like a professional badge for judges and

In the miniatures of that time we find Charles the Good, Count of
Flanders, who died in 1127, represented with a cap with a point at the
top, to which a long streamer is attached, and a peak turned up in front.
A cap very similar, but without the streamer, and with the point turned
towards the left, is to be seen in a portrait of Geoffroy le Bel, Comte de
Maine, in 1150. About the same period, Agnès de Baudement is represented
with a sort of cap made of linen or stuff, with lappets hanging down over
the shoulders; she is dressed in a robe fastened round the waist, and
having long bands attached to the sleeves near the wrists. Queen
Ingeburge, second wife of Philip Augustus, also wore the tight gown,
fastened at the collar by a round buckle, and two bands of stuff forming a
kind of necklace; she also used the long cloak, and the closed shoes,
which had then begun to be made pointed. Robert, Comte de Dreux, who lived
at the same period, is also dressed almost precisely like the Queen,
notwithstanding the difference of sex and rank; his robe, however, only
descends to the instep, and his belt has no hangings in front. The Queen
is represented with her hair long and flowing, but the count has his cut

[Illustration: Fig. 412.--Costume of King Louis le Jeune--Miniature of
the "Rois de France," by Du Tillet (Sixteenth Century), in the National
Library of Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 413.--Royal Costume.--From a Miniature in a Manuscript
of the Twelfth Century, in the Burgundian Library, Brussels.]

Women, in addition to their head-dress, often wore a broad band, which was
tied under the chin, and gave the appearance of a kind of frame for the
face. Both sexes wore coloured bands on their shoes, which were tied round
the ankles like those of sandals, and showed the shape of the foot.

The beard, which was worn in full at the beginning of the twelfth century,
was by degrees modified both as to shape and length. At first it was cut
in a point, and only covered the end of the chin, but the next fashion was
to wear it so as to join the moustaches. Generally, under Louis le Jeune
(Fig. 412), moustaches went out of fashion. We next find beards worn only
by country people, who, according to contemporary historians, desired to
preserve a "remembrance of their participation in the Crusades." At the
end of this century, all chins were shaved.

The Crusades also gave rise to the general use of the purse, which was
suspended to the belt by a cord of silk or cotton, and sometimes by a
metal chain. At the time of the Holy War, it had become an emblem
characteristic of pilgrims, who, before starting for Palestine, received
from the hands of the priest the cross, the pilgrim's staff, and the

We now come to the time of Louis IX. (Figs. 414 to 418), of that good king
who, according to the testimony of his historians, generally dressed with
the greatest simplicity, but who, notwithstanding his usual modesty and
economy, did not hesitate on great occasions to submit to the pomp
required by the regal position which he held. "Sometimes," says the Sire
de Joinville, "he went into his garden dressed in a camel's-hair coat, a
surcoat of linsey-woolsey without sleeves, a black silk cloak without a
hood, and a hat trimmed with peacocks' feathers. At other times he was
dressed in a coat of blue silk, a surcoat and mantle of scarlet satin, and
a cotton cap."

The surcoat (_sur-cotte_) was at first a garment worn only by females, but
it was soon adopted by both sexes: it was originally a large wrapper with
sleeves, and was thrown over the upper part of the robe (_cotte_), hence
its name, _sur-cotte._ Very soon it was made without sleeves--doubtless,
as M. Quicherat remarks, that the under garment, which was made of more
costly material, might be seen; and then, with the same object, and in
order that the due motion of the limbs might not be interfered with, the
surcoat was raised higher above the hips, and the arm-holes were made very

[Illustration: Fig. 414.--Costume of a Princess dressed in a Cloak lined
with Fur.--From a Miniature of the Thirteenth Century.]

[Illustration: Fig. 415.--Costume of William Malgeneste, the King's
Huntsman, as represented on his Tomb, formerly in the Abbey of Long-Pont.]

At the consecration of Louis IX., in 1226, the nobles wore the cap
(_mortier_) trimmed with fur; the bishops wore the cope and the mitre, and
carried the crosier. Louis IX., at the age of thirteen, is represented, in
a picture executed in 1262 (Sainte-Chapelle, Paris), with his hair short,
and wearing a red velvet cap, a tunic, and over this a cloak open at the
chest, having long sleeves, which are slit up for the arms to go through;
this cloak, or surcoat, is trimmed with ermine in front, and has the
appearance of what we should now call a fur shawl. The young King has long
hose, and shoes similar in shape to high slippers. In the same painting
Queen Margaret, his wife, wears a gown with tight bodice opened out on the
hips, and having long and narrow sleeves; she also has a cloak embroidered
with fleurs-de-lis, the long sleeves of which are slit up and bordered
with ermine; a kind of hood, much larger than her head, and over this a
veil, which passes under the chin without touching the face; the shoes are
long, and seem to enclose the feet very tightly.

[Illustration: Fig. 416.--Costumes of the Thirteenth Century: Tristan and
the beautiful Yseult.--From a Miniature in the Romance of "Tristan,"
Manuscript of the Fourteenth Century (Imperial Library of Paris).]

From this period gowns with tight bodices were generally adopted; the
women wore over them a tight jacket, reaching to a little below the hips,
often trimmed with fur when the gown was richly ornamented, and itself
richly ornamented when the gown was plain. They also began to plait the
hair, which fell down by the side of the face to the neck, and they
profusely decorated it with pearls or gold or silver ornaments. Jeanne,
Queen of Navarre, wife of Philippe le Bel, is represented with a pointed
cap, on the turned-up borders of which the hair clusters in thick curls on
each side of the face; on the chest is a frill turned down in two points;
the gown, fastened in front by a row of buttons, has long and tight
sleeves, with a small slit at the wrists closed by a button; lastly, the
Queen wears, over all, a sort of second robe in the shape of a cloak, the
sleeves of which are widely slit in the middle.

At the end of the thirteenth century luxury was at its height at the court
of France: gold and silver, pearls and precious stones were lavished on
dress. At the marriage of Philip III., son of St. Louis, the gentlemen
were dressed in scarlet; the ladies in cloth of gold, embroidered and
trimmed with gold and silver lace. Massive belts of gold were also worn,
and chaplets sparkling with the same costly metal. Moreover, this
magnificence and display (see chapter on Private Life) was not confined to
the court, for we find that it extended to the bourgeois class, since
Philippe le Bel, by his edict of 1294, endeavoured to limit this
extravagance, which in the eyes of the world had an especial tendency to
obliterate, or at least to conceal, all distinctions of birth, rank, and
condition. Wealth strove hard at that time to be the sole standard of

As we approach the fourteenth century--an epoch of the Middle Ages at
which, after many changes of fashion, and many struggles against the
ancient Roman and German traditions, modern national costume seems at last
to have assumed a settled and normal character--we think it right to
recapitulate somewhat, with a view to set forth the nature of the various
elements which were at work from time to time in forming the fashions in
dress. In order to give more weight to our remarks, we will extract,
almost word for word, a few pages from the learned and excellent work
which M. Jules Quicherat has published on this subject.

"Towards the year 1280," he says, "the dress of a man--not of a man as the
word was then used, which meant _serf_, but of one to whom the exercise of
human prerogatives was permitted, that is to say, of an ecclesiastic, a
bourgeois, or a noble--was composed of six indispensable portions: the
_braies_, or breeches, the stockings, the shoes, the coat, the surcoat, or
_cotte-hardie,_ and the _chaperon_, or head-dress. To these articles those
who wished to dress more elegantly added, on the body, a shirt; on the
shoulders, a mantle; and on the head, a hat, or _fronteau_.

[Illustration: Fig. 417.--Costumes of the Common People in the Fourteenth
Century: Italian Gardener and Woodman.--From two Engravings in the Bonnart

"The _braies_, or _brayes_, were a kind of drawers, generally knitted,
sometimes made of woollen stuff or silk, and sometimes even of undressed
leather. .... Our ancestors derived this part of their dress from the
ancient Gauls; only the Gallic braies came down to the ankle, whereas
those of the thirteenth century only reached to the calf. They were
fastened above the hips by means of a belt called the _braier_.

"By _chausses_ was meant what we now call long stockings or hose. The
stockings were of the same colour and material as the braies, and were
kept up by the lower part of the braies being pulled over them, and tied
with a string.

"The shoes were made of various kinds of leather, the quality of which
depended on the way in which they were tanned, and were either of common
leather, or of leather which was similar to that we know as morocco, and
was called _cordouan_ or _cordua_ (hence the derivation of the word
_cordouannier_, which has now become _cordonnier_). Shoes were generally
made pointed; this fashion of the _poulaines_, or Polish points, was
followed throughout the whole of Europe for nearly three hundred years,
and, when first introduced, the Church was so scandalized by it that it
was almost placed in the catalogue of heresies. Subsequently, the taste
respecting the exaggerated length of the points was somewhat modified, but
it had become so inveterate that the tendency for pointed shoes returning
to their former absurd extremes was constantly showing itself. The pointed
shoes became gradually longer during the struggles which were carried on
in the reign of Philippe le Bel between Church and State.

"Besides the shoes, there were also the _estiviaux_, thus named from.
_estiva_ (summer thing), because, being generally made of velvet, brocade,
or other costly material, they could only be worn in dry weather.

"The coat (_cotte_) corresponded with the tunic of the ancients, it was a
blouse with tight sleeves. These sleeves were the only part of it which
were exposed, the rest being completely covered by the surcoats, or
_cotte-hardie,_ a name the origin of which is obscure. In shape the
surcoat somewhat resembled a sack, in which, at a later period, large
slits were made in the arms, as well as over the hips and on the chest,
through which appeared the rich furs and satins with which it was
lined.... The ordinary material of the surcoat for the rich was cloth,
either scarlet, blue, or reddish brown, or two or more of these colours
mixed together; and for the poor, linsey-woolsey or fustian. The nobles,
princes, or barons, when holding a court, wore surcoats of a colour to
match their arms, which were embroidered upon them, but the lesser nobles
who frequented the houses of the great spoke of themselves as in the robes
of such and such a noble, because he whose patronage they courted was
obliged to provide them with surcoats and mantles. These were of their
patron's favourite colour, and were called the livery (_livrée_), on
account of their distribution (_livraison_), which took place twice a
year. The word has remained in use ever since, but with a different
signification; it is, however, so nearly akin to the original meaning that
its affinity is evident."

[Illustration: Fig. 418.--Costume of English Servants in the Fourteenth
Century.--From Manuscripts in the British Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 419.--Costume of Philip the Good, with Hood and
"Cockade."--From a Miniature in a Manuscript of the Period.]

An interesting anecdote relative to this custom is to be found in the
chronicles of Matthew Paris. When St. Louis, to the dismay of all his
vassals, and of his inferior servants, had decided to take up the cross,
he succeeded in associating the nobles of his court with him in his vow by
a kind of pious fraud. Having had a certain number of mantles prepared for
Christmas-day, he had a small white cross embroidered on each above the
right shoulder, and ordered them to be distributed among the nobles on the
morning of the feast when they were about to go to mass, which was
celebrated some time before sunrise. Each courtier received the mantle
given by the King at the door of his room, and put it on in the dark
without noticing the white cross; but, when the day broke, to his great
surprise, he saw the emblem worn by his neighbour, without knowing that he
himself wore it also. "They were surprised and amused," says the English
historian, "at finding that the King had thus piously entrapped them....
As it would have been unbecoming, shameful, and even unworthy of them to
have removed these crosses, they laughed heartily, and said that the good
King, on starting as a pilgrim-hunter, had found a new method of catching

"The chaperon," adds M. Quicherat, "was the national head-dress of the
ancient French, as the _cucullus_, which was its model, was that of the
Gauls. We can imagine its appearance by its resemblance to the domino now
worn at masked balls. The shape was much varied during the reign of
Philippe le Bel, either by the diminution of the cape or by the
lengthening of the hood, which was always sufficiently long to fall on the
shoulders. In the first of these changes, the chaperon no longer being
tied round the neck, required to be held on the head by something more
solid. For this reason it was set on a pad or roll, which changed it into
a regular cap. The material was so stitched as to make it take certain
folds, which were arranged as puffs, as ruffs, or in the shape of a cock's
comb; this last fashion, called _cockade_, was especially in vogue (Fig.
419)--hence the origin of the French epithet _coquard_, which would be now
expressed by the word _dandy_.

"Hats were of various shapes. They were made of different kinds of felt,
or of otter or goat's skin, or of wool or cotton. The expression _chapeau
de fleurs_ (hat of flowers), which continually occurs in ancient works,
did not mean any form of hat, but simply a coronet of forget-me-nots or
roses, which was an indispensable part of dress for balls or festivities
down to the reign of Philippe de Valois (1347). Frontlets (_fronteaux_), a
species of fillet made of silk, covered with gold and precious stones,
superseded the _chapeau de fleurs_, inasmuch as they had the advantage of
not fading. They also possessed the merit of being much more costly, and
were thus the means of establishing in a still more marked manner
distinctions in the social positions of the wearers.

[Illustration: Fig. 420.--Costumes of a rich Bourgeoise, of a
Peasant-woman, and of a Lady of the Nobility, of the Fourteenth
Century.--From various painted Windows in the Churches of Moulins

[Illustration: Saint Catherine Surrounded by the Doctors of Alexandria.

A miniature from the _Breviary_ of the cardinal Grimani, attributed to

Bibl. of Saint-Marc, Venice.

(From a copy belonging to M. Ambroise Firmin-Didot.)]

"There were two kinds of mantles; one was open in front, and fell over the
back, and a strap which crossed the chest held it fixed on the shoulders;
the other, enveloping the body like a bell, was slit up on the right side,
and was thrown back over the left arm; it was made with a fur collar, cut
in the shape of a tippet. This last has been handed down to us, and is
worn by our judges under the name of _toge_ and _épitoge_.

"It is a very common mistake to suppose that the shirt is an article of
dress of modern invention; on the contrary, it is one of great antiquity,
and its coming into general use is the only thing new about it.

"Lastly, we have to mention the _chape_, which was always regarded as a
necessary article of dress. The _chape_ was the only protection against
bad weather at a period when umbrellas and covered carriages were unknown.
It was sometimes called _chape de pluie_, on account of the use to which
it was applied, and it consisted of a large cape with sleeves, and was
completely waterproof. It was borne behind a master by his servant, who,
on account of this service was called a _porte-chape._ It is needless to
say that the common people carried it themselves, either slung over their
backs, or folded under the arm."

If we now turn to female attire, we shall find represented in it all the
component parts of male dress, and almost all of them under the same
names. It must be remarked, however, that the women's coats and surcoats
often trailed on the ground; that the hat--which was generally called a
_couvre-chef,_ and consisted of a frame of wirework covered over with
stuff which was embroidered or trimmed with lace--was not of a conical
shape; and, lastly, that the _chaperon_, which was always made with a
tippet, or _chausse_, never turned over so as to form a cap. We may add
that the use of the couvre-chef did not continue beyond the middle of the
fourteenth century, at which time women adopted the custom of wearing any
kind of head-dress they chose, the hair being kept back by a silken net,
or _crépine_, attached either to a frontlet, or to a metal fillet, or
confined by a veil of very light material, called a _mollequin_ (Fig.

With the aid of our learned guide we have now reached a period (end of the
thirteenth century) well adapted for this general study of the dress of
our ancestors, inasmuch as soon afterwards men's dress at least, and
especially that of young courtiers, became most ridiculously and even
indecently exaggerated. To such an extent was this the case, that serious
calamities having befallen the French nation about this time, and its
fashions having exercised a considerable influence over the whole
continent of Europe, contemporary historians do not hesitate to regard
these public misfortunes as a providential chastisement inflicted on
France for its disgraceful extravagance in dress.

[Illustration: Fig. 421.--Costumes of a young Nobleman and of a Bourgeois
in the Fourteenth Century.--From a painted Window in the Church of
Saint-Ouen at Rouen, and from a Window at Moulins (Bourbonnais).]

"We must believe that God has permitted this as a just judgment on us for
our sins," say the monks who edited the "Grande Chronique de St. Denis,"
in 1346, at the time of the unfortunate battle of Cressy, "although it
does not belong to us to judge. But what we see we testify to; for pride
was very great in France, and especially amongst the nobles and others,
that is to say, pride of nobility, and covetousness. There was also much
impropriety in dress, and this extended throughout the whole of France.
Some had their clothes so short and so tight that it required the help of
two persons to dress and undress them, and whilst they were being
undressed they appeared as if they were being skinned. Others wore dresses
plaited over their loins like women; some had chaperons cut out in points
all round; some had tippets of one cloth, others of another; and some had
their head-dresses and sleeves reaching to the ground, looking more like
mountebanks than anything else. Considering all this, it is not surprising
if God employed the King of England as a scourge to correct the excesses
of the French people."

And this is not the only testimony to the ridiculous and extravagant
tastes of this unfortunate period. One writer speaks with indignation of
the _goats' beards_ (with two points), which seemed to put the last
finishing touch of ridicule on the already grotesque appearance of even
the most serious people of that period. Another exclaims against the
extravagant luxury of jewels, of gold and silver, and against the wearing
of feathers, which latter then appeared for the first time as accessories
to both male and female attire. Some censure, and not without reason, the
absurd fashion of converting the ancient leather girdle, meant to support
the waist, into a kind of heavy padded band, studded with gilded ornaments
and precious stones, and apparently invented expressly to encumber the
person wearing it. Other contemporary writers, and amongst these Pope
Urban V. and King Charles V. (Fig. 422), inveigh against the _poulaines_,
which had more than ever come into favour, and which were only considered
correct in fashion when they were made as a kind of appendix to the foot,
measuring at least double its length, and ornamented in the most
fantastical manner. The Pope anathematized this deformity as "a mockery of
God and the holy Church," and the King forbad craftsmen to make them, and
his subjects to wear them. All this is as nothing in comparison with the
profuse extravagance displayed in furs, which was most outrageous and
ruinous, and of which we could not form an idea were it not for the items
in certain royal documents, from which we gather that, in order to trim
two complete suits for King John, no fewer than six hundred and seventy
martens' skins were used. It is also stated that the Duke of Berry, the
youngest son of that monarch, purchased nearly ten thousand of these same
skins from a distant country in the north, in order to trim only five
mantles and as many surcoats. We read also that a robe made for the Duke
of Orleans, grandson of the same king, required two thousand seven hundred
and ninety ermines' skins. It is unnecessary to state, that in consequence
of this large consumption, skins could only be purchased at the most
extravagant prices; for example, fifty skins cost about one hundred francs
(or about six thousand of present currency), showing to what an enormous
expense those persons were put who desired to keep pace with the luxury of
the times (Fig. 424).

[Illustration: Fig. 422.--Costume of Charles V., King of France.--From a
Statue formerly in the Church of the Célestins, Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 423.--Costume of Jeanne de Bourbon, Wife of Charles
V.--From a Statue formerly in the Church of the Célestins, Paris.]

We have already seen that Charles V. used his influence, which was
unfortunately very limited, in trying to restrain the extravagance of
fashion. This monarch did more than decree laws against indelicate or
unseemly and ridiculous dress; he himself never wore anything but the long
and ample costume, which was most becoming, and which had been adopted in
the preceding century. His example, it is true, was little followed, but
it nevertheless had this happy resuit, that the advocates of short and
tight dresses, as if suddenly seized with instinctive modesty, adopted an
upper garment, the object of which seemed to be to conceal the absurd
fashions which they had not the courage to rid themselves of. This heavy
and ungraceful tunic, called a _housse_, consisted of two broad bands of
a more or less costly material, which, starting from the neck, fell behind
and before, thus almost entirely concealing the front and back of the
person, and only allowing the under garments to be seen through the slits
which naturally opened on each side of it.

A fact worthy of remark is, that whilst male attire, through a depravity
of taste, had extended to the utmost limit of extravagance, women's dress,
on the contrary, owing to a strenuous effort towards a dignified and
elegant simplicity, became of such a character that it combined all the
most approved fashions of female costume which had been in use in former

The statue of Queen Jeanne de Bourbon, wife of Charles V., formerly placed
with that of her husband in the Church of the Célestins at Paris, gives
the most faithful representation of this charming costume, to which our
artists continually have recourse when they wish to depict any poetical
scenes of the French Middle Ages (Fig. 423).

[Illustration: Fig. 424.--Costumes of Bourgeois or Merchant, of a
Nobleman, and of a Lady of the Court or rich Bourgeoise, with the
Head-dress (_escoffion_) of the Fifteenth Century.--From a Painted Window
of the Period, at Moulins (Bourbonnais), and from a Painting on Wood of
the same Period, in the Musee de Cluny.]

This costume, without positively differing in style from that of the
thirteenth century, inasmuch as it was composed of similar elements, was
nevertheless to be distinguished by a degree of elegance which hitherto
had been unknown. The coat, or under garment, which formerly only showed
itself through awkwardly-contrived openings, now displayed the harmonious
outlines of the figure to advantage, thanks to the large openings in the
overcoat. The surcoat, kept back on the shoulders by two narrow bands,
became a sort of wide and trailing skirt, which majestically draped the
lower part of the body; and, lastly, the external corset was invented,
which was a kind of short mantle, falling down before and behind without
concealing any of the fine outlines of the bust. This new article of
apparel, which was kept in its place in the middle of the chest by a steel
busk encased in some rich lace-work, was generally made of fur in winter
and of silk in summer. If we consult the numerous miniatures in
manuscripts of this period, in which the gracefulness of the costume was
heightened by the colours employed, we shall understand what variety and
what richness of effect could be displayed without departing from the most
rigid simplicity.

One word more in reference to female head-dress. The fashion of wearing
false hair continued in great favour during the middle of the fourteenth
century, and it gave rise to all sorts of ingenious combinations; which,
however, always admitted of the hair being parted from the forehead to the
back of the head in two equal masses, and of being plaited or waved over
the ears. Nets were again adopted, and head-dresses which, whilst
permitting a display of masses of false hair, hid the horsehair or padded
puffs. And, lastly, the _escoffion_ appeared--a heavy roll, which, being
placed on a cap also padded, produced the most clumsy, outrageons, and
ungraceful shapes (Fig. 424).

At the beginning of the fifteenth century men's dress was still very
short. It consisted of a kind of tight waistcoat, fastened by tags, and of
very close-fitting breeches, which displayed the outlines of the figure.
In order to appear wide at the shoulders artificial pads were worn, called
_mahoitres_. The hair was allowed to fall on the forehead in locks, which
covered the eyebrows and eyes. The sleeves were slashed, the shoes armed
with long metal points, and the conical hat, with turned-up rim, was
ornamented with gold chains and various jewels. The ladies, during the
reign of Charles VI., still wore long trains to their dresses, which they
carried tucked up under their arms, unless they had pages or waiting-maids
(see chapter on Ceremonials). The tendency, however, was to shorten these
inconvenient trains, as well as the long hanging and embroidered or
fringed sleeves. On the other hand, ladies' dresses on becoming shorter
were trimmed in the most costly manner. Their head-dresses consisted of
very large rolls, surmounted by a high conical bonnet called a _hennin_,
the introduction of which into France was attributed to Queen Isabel of
Bavaria, wife of Charles VI. It was at this period that they began to
uncover the neck and to wear necklaces.

[Illustration: Fig. 425.--Italian Costumes of the Fifteenth Century:
Notary and Sbirro.--From two Engravings in the Bonnart Collection.]

[Illustration: Fig. 426.--Costumes of a Mechanic's Wife and a rich
Bourgeois in the latter part of the Fifteenth Century.--From Windows in
the Cathedral of Moulins (Bourbonnais).]

Under Louis XI. this costume, already followed and adopted by the greatest
slaves of fashion, became more general.

"In this year (1487)," says the chronicler Monstrelet, "ladies ceased to
wear trains, substituting for them trimmings of grebe, of martens' fur, of
velvet, and of other materials, of about eighteen inches in width; some
wore on the top of their heads rolls nearly two feet high, shaped like a
round cap, which closed in above. Others wore them lower, with veils
hanging from the top, and reaching down to the feet. Others wore unusually
wide silk bands, with very elegant buckles equally wide, and magnificent
gold necklaces of various patterns.

"About this time, too, men took to wearing shorter clothes than ever,
having them made to fit tightly to the body, after the manner of dressing
monkeys, which was very shameful and immodest; and the sleeves of their
coats and doublets were slit open so as to show their fine white shirts.
They wore their hair so long that it concealed their face and even their
eyes, and on their heads they wore cloth caps nearly a foot or more high.
They also carried, according to fancy, very splendid gold chains. Knights
and squires, and even the varlets, wore silk or velvet doublets; and
almost every one, especially at court, wore poulaines nine inches or more
in length. They also wore under their doublets large pads (_mahoitres_),
in order to appear as if they had broad shoulders."

Under Charles VIII. the mantle, trimmed with fur, was open in front, its
false sleeves being slit up above in order to allow the arms of the under
coat to pass through. The cap was turned up; the breeches or long hose
were made tight-fitting. The shoes with poulaines were superseded by a
kind of large padded shoe of black leather, round or square at the toes,
and gored over the foot with coloured material, a fashion imported from
Italy, and which was as much exaggerated in France as the poulaine had
formerly been. The women continued to wear conical caps (_hennins_) of
great height, covered with immense veils; their gowns were made with
tight-fitting bodies, which thus displayed the outlines of the figure
(Figs. 427 and 428).

Under Louis XII., Queen Anne invented a low head-dress--or rather it was
invented for her--consisting of strips of velvet or of black or violet
silk over other bands of white linen, which encircled the face and fell
down over the back and shoulders; the large sleeves of the dresses had a
kind of turned-over borders, with trimmings of enormous width. Men adopted
short tunics, plaited and tight at the waist. The upper part of the
garments of both men and women was cut in the form of a square over the
chest and shoulders, as most figures are represented in the pictures of
Raphael and contemporary painters.

[Illustration: Italian Lacework, in Gold Thread.

The cypher and arms of Henry III. (16th century.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 427.--Costume of Charlotte of Savoy, second Wife of
Louis XI.--From a Picture of the Period formerly in the Castle of
Bourbon-l'Archambault, M. de Quedeville's Collection, in Paris. The Arms
of Louis XI. and Charlotte are painted behind the picture.]

[Illustration: Fig. 428.--Costume of Mary of Burgundy, Daughter of
Charles the Bold, Wife of Maximilian of Austria (end of the Fifteenth
Century). From an old Engraving in the Collection of the Imperial Library,

The introduction of Italian fashions, which in reality did not much differ
from those which had been already adopted, but which exhibited better
taste and a greater amount of elegance, dates from the famous expedition
of Charles VIII. into Italy (Figs. 429 and 430). Full and gathered or
puffed sleeves, which gave considerable gracefulness to the upper part of
the body, succeeded to the _mahoitres_, which had been discarded since the
time of Louis XI. A short and ornamental mantle, a broad-brimmed hat
covered with feathers, and trunk hose, the ample dimensions of which
earned for them the name of _trousses_, formed the male attire at the end
of the fifteenth century. Women wore the bodies of their dresses closely
fitting to the figure, embroidered, trimmed with lace, and covered with
gilt ornaments; the sleeves were very large and open, and for the most
part they still adhered to the heavy and ungraceful head-dress of Queen
Anne of Brittany. The principal characteristic of female dress at the time
was its fulness; men's, on the contrary, with the exception of the mantle
or the upper garment, was usually tight and very scanty.

We find that a distinct separation between ancient and modern dress took
place as early as the sixteenth century; in fact, our present fashions may
be said to have taken their origin from about that time. It was during
this century that men adopted clothes closely fitting to the body;
overcoats with tight sleeves, felt hats with more or less wide brims, and
closed shoes and boots. The women also wore their dresses closely fitting
to the figure, with tight sleeves, low-crowned hats, and richly-trimmed
petticoats. These garments, which differ altogether from those of
antiquity, constitute, as it were, the common type from which have since
arisen the endless varieties of male and female dress; and there is no
doubt that fashion will thus be continually changing backwards and
forwards from time to time, sometimes returning to its original model, and
sometimes departing from it.

[Illustration: Figs. 429 and 430.--Costumes of Young Nobles of the Court
of Charles VIII., before and after the Expedition into Italy.--From
Miniatures in two Manuscripts of the Period in the National Library of

During the sixteenth century, ladies wore the skirts of their dresses,
which were tight at the waist and open in front, very wide, displaying the
lower part of a very rich under petticoat, which reached to the ground,
completely concealing the feet. This, like the sleeves with puffs, which
fell in circles to the wrists, was altogether an Italian fashion.
Frequently the hair was turned over in rolls, and adorned with precious
stones, and was surmounted by a small cap, coquettishly placed either on
one side or on the top of the head, and ornamented with gold chains,
jewels, and feathers. The body of the dress was always long, and pointed
in front. Men wore their coats cut somewhat after the same shape: their
trunk hose were tight, but round the waist they were puffed out. They wore
a cloak, which only reached as far as the hips, and was always much
ornamented; they carried a smooth or ribbed cap on one side of the head,
and a small upright collar adorned the coat. This collar was replaced,
after the first half of the sixteenth century, by the high, starched ruff,
which was kept out by wires; ladies wore it still larger, when it had
somewhat the appearance of an open fan at the back of the neck.

If we take a retrospective glance at the numerous changes of costume which
we have endeavoured to describe in this hurried sketch, we shall find that
amongst European nations, during the Middle Ages, there was but one common
standard of fashion, which varied from time to time according to the
particular custom of each country, and according to the peculiarities of
each race. In Italy, for instance, dress always maintained a certain
character of grandeur, ever recalling the fact that the influence of
antiquity was not quite lost. In Germany and Switzerland, garments had
generally a heavy and massive appearance; in Holland, still more so (Figs.
436 and 437). England uniformly studied a kind of instinctive elegance and
propriety. It is a curious fact that Spain invariably partook of the
heaviness peculiar to Germany, either because the Gothic element still
prevailed there, or that the Walloon fashions had a special attraction to
her owing to associations and general usage. France was then, as it is
now, fickle and capricious, fantastical and wavering, but not from
indifference, but because she was always ready to borrow from every
quarter anything which pleased her. She, however, never failed to put her
own stamp on whatever she adopted, thus making any fashion essentially
French, even though she had only just borrowed it from Spain, England,
Germany, or Italy. In all these countries we have seen, and still see,
entire provinces adhering to some ancient costume, causing them to differ
altogether in character from the rest of the nation. This is simply owing
to the fact that the fashions have become obsolete in the neighbouring
places, for every local costume faithfully and rigorously preserved by any
community at a distance from the centre of political action or government,
must have been originally brought there by the nobles of the country. Thus
the head-dress of Anne of Brittany is still that of the peasant-women of
Penhoét and of Labrevack, and the _hennin_ of Isabel of Bavaria is still
the head-dress of Normandy.

[Illustration: Fig. 431.--Costumes of a Nobleman or a very rich
Bourgeois, of a Bourgeois or Merchant, and of a Noble Lady or rich
Bourgeoise, of the Time of Louis XII.--From Miniatures in Manuscripts of
the Period, in the Imperial Library of Paris.]

[Illustration: Fig. 432.--Costume of a rich Bourgeoise, and of a Noble,
or Person of Distinction, of the Time of Francis I.--From a Window in the
Church of St. Ouen at Rouen, by Gaignières (National Library of Paris).]

Although the subject has reached the limits we have by the very nature of
this work assigned to it, we think it well to overstep them somewhat, in
order briefly to indicate the last connecting link between modern fashions
and those of former periods.

[Illustration: Figs. 433 and 434.--Costumes of the Ladies and Damsels of
the Court of Catherine de Medicis.--After Cesare Vecellio.]

Under Francis I., the costumes adopted from Italy remained almost
stationary (Fig. 432). Under Henri II. (Figs. 433 and 434), and especially
after the death of that prince, the taste for frivolities made immense
progress, and the style of dress in ordinary use seemed day by day to lose
the few traces of dignity which it had previously possessed.

Catherine de Medicis had introduced into France the fashion of ruffs, and
at the beginning of the fourteenth century, Marie de Medicis that of
small collars. Dresses tight at the waist began to be made very full round
the hips, by means of large padded rolls, and these were still more
enlarged, under the name of _vertugadins_ (corrupted from
_vertu-gardiens),_ by a monstrous arrangement of padded whalebone and
steel, which subsequently became the ridiculous _paniers_, which were worn
almost down to the commencement of the present century; and the fashion
seems likely to come into vogue again.

[Illustration: Fig. 435.--Costume of a Gentleman of the French Court, of
the End of the Sixteenth Century.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the "Livre
de Poésies," Manuscript dedicated to Henry IV.]

Under the last of the Valois, men's dress was short, the jacket was
pointed and trimmed round with small peaks, the velvet cap was trimmed
with aigrettes; the beard was pointed, a pearl hung from the left ear, and
a small cloak or mantle was carried on the shoulder, which only reached to
the waist. The use of gloves made of scented leather became universal.
Ladies wore their dresses long, very full, and very costly, little or no
change being made in these respects during the reign of Henry IV. At this
period, the men's high hose were made longer and fuller, especially in
Spain and the Low Countries, and the fashion of large soft boots, made of
doeskin or of black morocco, became universal, on account of their being
so comfortable.

We may remark that the costume of the bourgeois was for a long time
almost unchanged, even in the towns. Never having adopted either the
tight-fitting hose or the balloon trousers, they wore an easy jerkin, a
large cloak, and a felt hat, which the English made conical and with a
broad brim.

Towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, the high hose which were
worn by the northern nations, profusely trimmed, was transformed into the
_culotte_, which was full and open at the knees. A division was thus
suddenly made between the lower and the upper part of the hose, as if the
garment which covered the lower limbs had been cut in two, and garters
were then necessarily invented. The felt hat became over almost the whole
of Europe a cap, taking the exact form of the head, and having a wide,
flat brim turned up on one side. High heels were added to boots and shoes,
which up to that time had been flat and with single soles.... Two
centuries later, a terrible social agitation took place all over Europe,
after which male attire became mean, ungraceful, plain and more paltry
than ever; whereas female dress, the fashions of which were perpetually
changing from day to day, became graceful and elegant, though too often
approaching to the extravagant and absurd.

[Illustration: Figs. 436 and 437.--Costumes of the German Bourgeoisie in
the Middle of the Sixteenth Century.--Drawings attributed to Holbein.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period" ***

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