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Title: Mediaeval Socialism
Author: Jarrett, Bede, 1881-1934
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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London: T. C. & E. C. Jack
67 Long Acre, W.C., and Edinburgh
New York: Dodge Publishing Co.


CHAP.                               PAGE

  I. INTRODUCTION                      5

 II. SOCIAL CONDITIONS                17

III. THE COMMUNISTS                   29

 IV. THE SCHOOLMEN                    41

  V. THE LAWYERS                      55

 VI. THE SOCIAL REFORMERS             68


     BIBLIOGRAPHY                     91

     INDEX                            93




The title of this book may not unnaturally provoke suspicion. After all,
howsoever we define it, socialism is a modern thing, and dependent
almost wholly on modern conditions. It is an economic theory which has
been evolved under pressure of circumstances which are admittedly of no
very long standing. How then, it may be asked, is it possible to find
any real correspondence between theories of old time and those which
have grown out of present-day conditions of life? Surely whatever
analogy may be drawn between them must be based on likenesses which
cannot be more than superficial.

The point of view implied in this question is being increasingly adopted
by all scientific students of social and political opinions, and is most
certainly correct. Speculation that is purely philosophic may indeed
turn round upon itself. The views of Grecian metaphysicians may continue
for ever to find enthusiastic adherents; though even here, in the realm
of purely abstract reasoning, the progressive development of science, of
psychology, and kindred branches of knowledge cannot fail by its
influence to modify the form and arrangement of thought. But in those
purely positive sciences (if indeed sciences they can properly be
called) which deal with the life of man and its organisation, the very
principles and postulates will be found to need continual readjustment.
For with man's life, social, political, economic, we are in contact with
forces which are of necessity always in a state of flux. For example,
the predominance of agriculture, or of manufacture, or of commerce in
the life of the social group must materially alter the attitude of the
statesman who is responsible for its fortunes; and the progress of the
nation from one to another stage of her development often entails (by
altering from one class to another the dominant position of power) the
complete reversal of her traditional maxims of government. Human life is
not static, but dynamic. Hence the theories weaved round it must
themselves be subject to the law of continuous development.

It is obvious that this argument cannot be gainsaid; and yet at the same
time we may not be in any way illogical in venturing on an inquiry as to
whether, in centuries not wholly dissimilar from our own, the mind of
man worked itself out along lines parallel in some degree to
contemporary systems of thought. Man's life differs, yet are the
categories which mould his ideas eternally the same.

But before we go on to consider some early aspects of socialism, we must
first ascertain what socialism itself essentially implies. Already
within the lifetime of the present generation the word has greatly
enlarged the scope of its significance. Many who ten years ago would
have objected to it as a name of ill-omen see in it now nothing which
may not be harmonised with the most ordinary of political and social
doctrines. It is hardly any longer the badge of a school. Yet it does
retain at any rate the bias of a tendency. It suggests chiefly the
transference of ownership in land and capital from private hands into
their possession in some form or other by the society. The means of this
transference, and the manner in which this social possession is to be
maintained, are very widely debated, and need not here be determined; it
is sufficient for the matter of this book to have it granted that in
this lies the germ of the socialistic theory of the State.

Once more it must be admitted that the meaning of "private ownership"
and "social possession" will vary exceedingly in each age. When private
dominion has become exceedingly individual and practically absolute, the
opposition between the two terms will necessarily be very sharp. But in
those earlier stages of national and social evolution, when the
community was still regarded as composed, not of persons, but of groups,
the antagonism might be, in point of theory, extremely limited; and in
concrete cases it might possibly be difficult to determine where one
ended and the other began. Yet it is undeniable that socialism in itself
need mean no more than the central principle of State-ownership of
capital and land. Such a conception is consistent with much private
property in other forms than land and capital, and will be worked out in
detail differently by different minds. But it is the principle, the
essence of it, which justifies any claims made to the use of the name.
We may therefore fairly call those theories socialistic which are
covered by this central doctrine, and disregard, as irrelevant to the
nature of the term, all added peculiarities contributed by individuals
who have joined their forces to the movement.

By socialistic theories of the Middle Ages, therefore, we mean no more
than those theories which from time to time came to the surface of
political and social speculation in the form of communism, or of some
other way of bringing about the transference which we have just
indicated. But before plunging into the tanglement of these rather
complicated problems, it will make for clearness if we consider quite
briefly the philosophic heritage of social teaching to which the Middle
Ages succeeded.

The Fathers of the Church had found themselves confronted with
difficulties of no mean subtlety. On the one hand, the teaching of the
Scriptures forced upon them the religious truth of the essential
equality of all human nature. Christianity was a standing protest
against the exclusiveness of the Jewish faith, and demanded through the
attendance at one altar the recognition of an absolute oneness of all
its members. The Epistles of St. Paul, which were the most scientific
defence of Christian doctrine, were continually insisting on the fact
that for the new faith there was no real division between Greek or
barbarian, bond or free. Yet, on the other hand, there were equally
unequivocal expressions concerning the reverence and respect due to
authority and governance. St. Peter had taught that honour should be
paid to Caesar, when Caesar was no other than Nero. St. Paul had as
clearly preached subjection to the higher powers. Yet at the same time
we know that the Christian truth of the essential equality of the whole
human race was by some so construed as to be incompatible with the
notion of civil authority. How, then, was this paradox to be explained?
If all were equal, what justification would there be for civil
authority? If civil authority was to be upheld, wherein lay the meaning
of St. Paul's many boasts of the new levelling spirit of the Christian
religion? The paradox was further complicated by two other problems. The
question of the authority of the Imperial Government was found to be
cognate with the questions of the institution of slavery and of private
property. Here were three concrete facts on which the Empire seemed to
be based. What was to be the Christian attitude towards them?

After many attempted explanations, which were largely personal, and,
therefore, may be neglected here, a general agreement was come to by the
leading Christian teachers of East and West. This was based on a
theological distinction between human nature as it existed on its first
creation, and then as it became in the state to which it was reduced
after the fall of Adam. Created in original justice, as the phrase ran,
the powers of man's soul were in perfect harmony. His sensitive nature,
_i.e._ his passions, were in subjection to his will, his will to his
reason, his reason to God. Had man continued in this state of innocence,
government, slavery, and private property would never have been
required. But Adam fell, and in his fall, said these Christian doctors,
the whole conditions of his being were disturbed. The passions broke
loose, and by their violence not unfrequently subjected the will to
their dictatorship; together with the will they obscured and prejudiced
the reason, which under their compulsion was no longer content to follow
the Divine Reason or the Eternal Law of God. In a word, where order had
previously reigned, a state of lawlessness now set in. Greed, lust for
power, the spirit of insubordination, weakness of will, feebleness of
mind, ignorance, all swarmed into the soul of man, and disturbed not
merely the internal economy of his being, but his relations also to his
fellows. The sin of Cain is the social result of this personal upheaval.

Society then felt the evils which attended this new condition of things,
and it was driven, according to this patristic idea, to search about for
remedies in order to restrain the anarchy which threatened to overwhelm
the very existence of the race. Hence was introduced first of all the
notion of a civil authority. It was found that without it, to use a
phrase which Hobbes indeed has immortalised, but which can be easily
paralleled from the writings of St. Ambrose or St. Augustine, "life was
nasty, brutish, and short." To this idea of authority, there was quickly
added the kindred ideas of private property and slavery. These two were
found equally necessary for the well-being of human society. For the
family became a determined group in which the patriarch wielded absolute
power; his authority could be effective only when it could be employed
not only over his own household, but also against other households, and
thus in defence of his own. Hence the family must have the exclusive
right to certain things. If others objected, the sole arbitrament was an
appeal to force, and then the vanquished not only relinquished their
claims to the objects in dispute, but became the slaves of those to whom
they had previously stood in the position of equality and rivalry.

Thus do the Fathers of the Church justify these three institutions. They
are all the result of the Fall, and result from sin. Incidentally it may
be added that much of the language in which Hildebrand and others spoke
of the civil power as "from the devil" is traceable to this theological
concept of the history of its origin, and much of their hard language
means no more than this. Private property, therefore, is due to the
Fall, and becomes a necessity because of the presence of sin in the

But it is not only from the Fathers of the Church that the mediaeval
tradition drew its force. For parallel with this patristic explanation
came another, which was inherited from the imperial legalists. It was
based upon a curious fact in the evolution of Roman law, which must now
be shortly described.

For the administration of justice in Rome two officials were chosen, who
between them disposed of all the cases in dispute. One, the _Praetor
Urbanus_, concerned himself in all litigation between Roman citizens;
the other, the _Praetor Peregrinus_, had his power limited to those
matters only in which foreigners were involved; for the growth of the
Roman _Imperium_ had meant the inclusion of many under its suzerainty
who could not boast technical citizenship. The _Praetor Urbanus_ was
guided in his decisions by the codified law of Rome; but the _Praetor
Peregrinus_ was in a very different position. He was left almost
entirely to his own resources. Hence it was customary for him, on his
assumption of office, to publish a list of the principles by which he
intended to settle all the disputes between foreigners that were brought
to his court. But on what foundation could his declaratory act be based?
He was supposed to have previously consulted the particular laws of as
many foreign nations as was possible, and to have selected from among
them those which were found to be held in common by a number of tribes.
The fact of this consensus to certain laws on the part of different
races was supposed to imply that these were fragments of some larger
whole, which came eventually to be called indifferently the Law of
Nature, or the Law of Nations. For at almost the very date when this
Law of Nations was beginning thus to be built up, the Greek notion of
one supreme law, which governed the whole race and dated from the lost
Golden Age, came to the knowledge of the lawyers of Rome. They proceeded
to identify the two really different concepts, and evolved for
themselves the final notion of a fundamental rule, essential to all
moral action. In time, therefore, this supposed Natural Law, from its
venerable antiquity and universal acceptance, acquired an added sanction
and actually began to be held in greater respect than even the declared
law of Rome. The very name of Nature seemed to bring with it greater
dignity. But at the same time it was carefully explained that this _Lex
Naturae_ was not absolutely inviolable, for its more accurate
description was _Lex_ or _Jus Gentium_. That is to say, it was not to be
considered as a primitive law which lay embedded like first principles
in human nature; but that it was what the nations had derived from
primitive principles, not by any force of logic, but by the simple
evolution of life. The human race had found by experience that the
observance of the natural law entailed as a direct consequence the
establishment of certain institutions. The authority, therefore, which
these could boast was due to nothing more than the simple struggle for
existence. Among these institutions were those same three (civil
authority, slavery, private property), which the Fathers had come to
justify by so different a method of argument. Thus, by the late Roman
lawyers private property was upheld on the grounds that it had been
found necessary by the human race in its advance along the road of life.
To our modern ways of thinking it seems as though they had almost
stumbled upon the theory of evolution, the gradual unfolding of social
and moral perfection due to the constant pressure of circumstances, and
the ultimate survival of what was most fit to survive. It was almost by
a principle of natural selection that mankind was supposed to have
determined the necessity of civil authority, slavery, private property,
and the rest. The pragmatic test of life had been applied and had proved
their need.

A third powerful influence in the development of Christian social
teaching must be added to the others in order the better to grasp the
mental attitude of the mediaeval thinkers. This was the rise and growth
of monasticism. Its early history has been obscured by much legendary
detail; but there is sufficient evidence to trace it back far into the
beginnings of Christianity. Later there had come the stampede into the
Thebaid, where both hermit life and the gathering together of many into
a community seem to have been equally allowed as methods of asceticism.
But by the fifth century, in the East and the West the movement had been
effectively organised. First there was the canonical theory of life,
introduced by St. Augustine. Then St. Basil and St. Benedict composed
their Rules of Life, though St. Benedict disclaimed any idea of being
original or of having begun something new. Yet, as a matter of fact, he,
even more efficiently than St. Basil, had really introduced a new force
into Christendom, and thereby became the undoubted father of Western

Now this monasticism had for its primary intention the contemplation of
God. In order to attain this object more perfectly, certain subsidiary
observances were considered necessary. Their declared purpose was only
to make contemplation easier; and they were never looked upon as
essential to the monastic profession, but only as helps to its better
working. Among these safeguards of monastic peace was included the
removal of all anxieties concerning material well-being. Personal
poverty--that is, the surrender of all personal claim to things the care
of which might break in upon the fixed contemplation of God--was
regarded as equally important for this purpose as obedience, chastity,
and the continued residence in a certain spot. It had indeed been
preached as a counsel of perfection by Christ Himself in His advice to
the rich young man, and its significance was now very powerfully set
forth by the Benedictine and other monastic establishments.

It is obvious that the existence of institutions of this kind was bound
to exercise an influence upon Christian thought. It could not but be
noticed that certain individual characters, many of whom claimed the
respect of their generation, treated material possessions as hindrances
to spiritual perfection. Through their example private property was
forsworn, and community of possession became prominently put forward as
being more in accordance with the spirit of Christ, who had lived with
His Apostles, it was declared, out of the proceeds of a common purse.
The result, from the point of view of the social theorists of the day,
was to confirm the impression that private property was not a thing of
much sanctity. Already, as we have seen, the Fathers had been brought to
look at it as something sinful in its origin, in that the need of it was
due entirely to the fall of our first parents. Then the legalists of
Rome had brought to this the further consideration that mere expedience,
universal indeed, but of no moral sanction, had dictated its institution
as the only way to avoid continual strife among neighbours. And now the
whole force of the religious ideals of the time was thrown in the same
balance. Eastern and Western monasticism seemed to teach the same
lesson, that private property was not in any sense a sacred thing.
Rather it seemed to be an obstacle to the perfect devotion of man's
being to God; and community of possession and life began to boast itself
to be the more excellent following of Christ.

Finally it may be asserted that the social concept of feudalism lent
itself to the teaching of the same lesson. For by it society was
organised upon a system of land tenure whereby each held what was his of
one higher than he, and was himself responsible for those beneath him in
the social scale. Landowners, therefore, in the modern sense of the
term, had no existence--there were only landholders. The idea of
absolute dominion without condition and without definite duties could
have occurred to none. Each lord held his estate in feud, and with a
definite arrangement for participating in the administration of justice,
in the deliberative assembly, and in the war bands of his chief, who in
turn owed the same duties to the lord above him. Even the king, who
stood at the apex of this pyramid, was supposed to be merely holding his
power and his territorial domain as representing the nation. At his
coronation he bound himself to observe certain duties as the condition
of his royalty, and he had to proclaim his own acceptance of these
conditions before he could be anointed and crowned as king. Did he break
through his coronation-oath, then the pledge of loyalty made by the
people was considered to be in consequence without any binding force,
and his subjects were released from their obedience. In this way, then,
also private property was not likely to be deemed equivalent to absolute
possession. It was held conditionally, and was not unfrequently
forfeited for offences against the feudal code. It carried with it
burdens which made its holding irksome, especially for all those who
stood at the bottom of the scale, and found that the terms of their
possession were rigorously enforced against them. The death of the
tenant and the inheriting of his effects by his eldest son was made the
occasion for exactions by the superior lord; for to him belonged certain
of the dead man's military accoutrements as pledges, open and manifest,
of the continued supremacy to be exercised over the successor.

Thus the extremely individual ideas as regards the holding of land which
are to-day so prevalent would then have been hardly understood. Every
external authority, the whole trend of public opinion, the teaching of
the Christian Fathers, the example of religious bodies, the inherited
views that had come down to the later legalists from the digests of the
imperial era, the basis of social order, all deflected the scale against
the predominance of any view of land tenure or holding which made it an
absolute and unrestricted possession. Yet at the same time, and for the
same cause, the modern revolt against all individual possession would
have been for the mediaeval theorists equally hard to understand.
Absolute communism, or the idea of a State which under the magic of that
abstract title could interfere with the whole social order, was too
utterly foreign to their ways of thinking to have found a defender. The
king they knew, and the people, and the Church; but the State (which the
modern socialist invokes) would have been an unimaginable thing.

In that age, therefore, we must not expect to find any fully-fledged
Socialism. We must be content to notice theories which are socialistic
rather than socialist.



So long as a man is in perfect health, the movements of his life-organs
are hardly perceptible to him. He becomes conscious of their existence
only when something has happened to obstruct their free play. So, again,
is it with the body politic, for just so long as things move easily and
without friction, hardly are anyone's thoughts stimulated in the
direction of social reform. But directly distress or disturbance begin
to be felt, public attention is awakened, and directed to the
consideration of actual conditions. Schemes are suggested, new ideas
broached. Hence, that there were at all in the Middle Ages men with
remedies to be applied to "the open sores of the world," makes us
realise that there must have been in mediaeval life much matter for
discontent. Perhaps not altogether unfortunately, the seeds of unrest
never need much care in sowing, for the human heart would else advance
but little towards "the perfect day." The rebels of history have been as
necessary as the theorists and the statesmen; indeed, but for the
rebels, the statesmen would probably have remained mere politicians.

Upon the ruins of the late Empire the Germanic races built up their
State. Out of the fragments of the older _villa_ they erected the
_manor_. No doubt this new social unit contained the strata of many
civilisations; but it will suffice here to recognise that, while it is
perhaps impossible to apportion out to each its own particular
contribution to the whole result, the manor must have been affected
quite considerably by Roman, Celt, and Teuton. The chief difference
which we notice between this older system and the conditions of modern
agricultural life--for the manor was pre-eminently a rural
organism--lies in the enormous part then played in the organisation of
society by the idea of Tenure. For, through all Western civilisation,
from the seventh century to the fourteenth, the personal equation was
largely merged in the territorial. One and all, master and man, lord and
tenant, were "tied to the soil." Within the manor there was first the
land held in demesne, the "in-land"--this was the perquisite of the lord
himself; it was farmed by him directly. Only when modern methods began
to push out the old feudal concepts do we find this portion of the
estate regularly let out to tenants, though there are evidences of its
occasionally having been done even in the twelfth century. But besides
what belonged thus exclusively to the lord of the manor, there was a
great deal more that was legally described as held in villeinage. That
is to say, it was in the hands of others, who had conditional use of it.
In England these tenants were chiefly of three kinds--the villeins, the
cottiers, the serfs. The first held a house and yard in the village
street, and had in the great arable fields that surrounded them strips
of land amounting sometimes to thirty acres. To their lord they owed
work for three days each week; they also provided oxen for the plough.
But more than half of their time could be devoted to the farming of
their property. Then next in order came the cottiers, whose holding
probably ran to not more than five acres. They had no plough-work, and
did more of the manual labour of the farm, such as hedging,
nut-collecting, &c. A much greater portion of their time than was the
case with the villeins was at the disposal of their master, nor indeed,
owing to the lesser extent of their property, did they need so much
opportunity for working their own land. Lowest in the scale of all
(according to the Domesday Book of William I, the first great land-value
survey of all England, they numbered not more than sixteen per cent. of
the whole population) came the slaves or serfs. These had almost
exclusively the live stock to look after, being engaged as foresters,
shepherds, swineherds, and servants of the household. They either lived
under the lord's own roof, or might even have their cottage in the
village with its strip of land about it, sufficient, with the provisions
and cloth provided them, to eke out a scanty livelihood. Distinct from
these three classes and their officials (bailiffs, seneschals, reeves,
&c.) were the free tenants, who did no regular work for the manor, but
could not leave or part with their land. Their services were
requisitioned at certain periods like harvest-time, when there came a
demand for more than the ordinary number of hands. This sort of labour
was known as boon-work.

It is clear at once that, theoretically at least, there was no room in
such a community for the modern landless labourer. Where all the workers
were paid by their tenancy of land, where, in other words, fixity and
stability of possession were the very basis of social life, the fluidity
of labour was impossible. Men could not wander from place to place
offering to employers the hire of their toil. Yet we feel sure that, in
actual fact, wherever the population increased, there must have grown up
in the process of time a number of persons who could find neither work
nor maintenance on their father's property. Younger sons, or more remote
descendants, must gradually have found that there was no scope for them,
unless, like an artisan class, they worked for wages. Exactly at what
date began the rise of this agricultural and industrial class of fee
labourers we cannot very clearly tell. But in England--and probably the
same holds good elsewhere--between 1200 and 1350 there are traces of its
great development. There is evidence, which each year becomes more ample
and more definite, that during that period there was an increasingly
large number of people pressing on the means of subsistence. Though the
land itself might be capable of supporting a far greater number of
inhabitants, the part under cultivation could only just have been enough
to keep the actually existing population from the margin of destitution.
The statutes in English law which protest against a wholesale occupation
of the common-land by individuals were not directed merely against the
practices of a landlord class, for the makers of the law were themselves
landlords. It is far more likely that this invasion of village rights
was due to the action of these "landless men," who could not otherwise
be accommodated. The superfluous population was endeavouring to find for
itself local maintenance.

Precisely at this time, too, in England--where the steps in the
evolution from mediaeval to modern conditions have been more clearly
worked out than elsewhere--increase of trade helped to further the same
development. Money, species, in greater abundance was coming into
circulation. The traders were beginning to take their place in the
national life. The Guilds were springing into power, and endeavouring to
capture the machinery of municipal government. As a result of all this
commercial activity money payments became more frequent. The villein was
able to pay his lord instead of working for him, and by the sale of the
produce from his own yard-land was put in a position to hire helpers for
himself, and to develop his own agricultural resources. Nor was it the
tenant alone who stood to gain by this arrangement. The lord, too, was
glad of being possessed of money. He, too, needed it as a substitute for
his duty of military service to the king, for scutage (the payment of a
tax graduated according to the number of knights, which each baron had
to lead personally in time of war as a condition of holding land at all)
had taken the place of the old feudal levy. Moreover, he was probably
glad to obtain hired labour in exchange for the forced labour which the
system of tenure made general; just as later the abolition of slavery
was due largely to the fact that, in the long run, it did not pay to
have the plantations worked by men whose every advantage it was to shirk
as much toil as possible.

But in most cases, as far as can be judged now, the lord was methodical
in releasing services due to him. The week-work was first and freely
commuted, for regular hired labour was easy to obtain; but the
boon-work--the work, that is, which was required for unusual
circumstances of a purely temporary character (such as harvesting,
&c.)--was, owing to the obvious difficulty of its being otherwise
supplied, only arranged for in the last resort. Thus, by one of the many
paradoxes of history, the freest of all tenants were the last to achieve
freedom. When the serfs had been set at liberty by manumission, the
socage-tenants or free-tenants, as they were called, were still bound by
their fixed agreements of tenure. It is evident, however, that such
emancipation as did take place was conditioned by the supply of free
labour, primarily, that is, by the rising surplus of population. Not
until he was certain of being able to hire other labourers would a
landholder let his own tenants slip off the burdens of their service.

But this process, by which labour was rendered less stationary, was
immeasurably hastened by the advent of a terrible catastrophe. In 1347
the Black Death arrived from the East. Across Europe it moved, striking
fear by the inevitableness of its coming. It travelled at a steady rate,
so that its arrival could be easily foretold. Then, too, the
unmistakable nature of its symptoms and the suddenness of the death it
caused also added to the horror of its approach.

On August 15, 1349, it got to Bristol, and by Michaelmas had reached
London. For a year or more it ravaged the countryside, so that whole
villages were left without inhabitants. Seeing England so stunned by the
blow, the Scots prepared to attack, thinking the moment propitious for
paying off old scores; but their army, too, was smitten by the
pestilence, and their forces broke up. Into every glen of Wales it
worked its havoc; in Ireland only the English were affected--the "wild
Irish" were immune. But in 1357 even these began to suffer. Curiously
enough, Geoffrey Baker in his Chronicle (which, written in his own hand,
after six hundred years yet remains in the Bodleian at Oxford) tells us
that none fell till they were afraid of it. Still more curiously,
Chaucer, Langland, and Wycliff, who all witnessed it, hardly mention it
at all. There could not be any more eloquent tribute to the nameless
horror that it caused than this hushed silence on the part of three of
England's greatest writers.

Henry Knighton of Leicester Abbey, canon and chronicler, tells us some
of the consequences following on the plague, and shows us very clearly
the social upheaval it effected. The population had now so much
diminished that prices of live stock went down, an ox costing 4_s._, a
cow 12_d._, and a sheep 3_d._ But for the same reason wages went up, for
labour had suddenly grown scarce. For want of hands to bring in the
harvest, whole crops rotted in the fields. Many a manor had lost a third
of its inhabitants, and it was difficult, under the fixed services of
land tenure, to see what remedy could be applied. In despair the feudal
system was set aside, and lord competed with lord to obtain landless
labourers, or to entice within their jurisdiction those whose own
masters ill-treated them in any way. The villeins themselves sought to
procure enfranchisement, and the right to hire themselves out to their
lords, or to any master they might choose. Commutation was not
particularly in evidence as the legal method of redress; though it too
was no doubt here and there arranged for. But for the most part the
villein took the law into his own hands, left his manor, and openly sold
his labour to the highest bidder.

But at once the governing class took fright. In their eyes it seemed as
though their tenants were taking an unfair advantage of the
disorganisation of the national life. Even before Parliament could meet,
in 1349 an ordnance was issued by the King (Edward III), which compelled
all servants, whether bond or free, to take up again the customary
services, and forced work on all who had no income in land, or were not
otherwise engaged. The lord on whose manor the tenant had heretofore
dwelt had preferential claim to his labour, and could threaten with
imprisonment every refractory villein. Within two years a statute had
been enacted by Parliament which was far more detailed in its operation,
fixing wages at the rate they had been in the twentieth year of the
King's reign (_i.e._ at a period before the plague, when labour was
plentiful), and also with all appearance of justice determining the
prices of agricultural produce. It was the first of a very long series
of Acts of Parliament that, with every right intention, but with a
really obvious futility, endeavoured to reduce everything to what it had
been in the past, to put back the hands of the clock, and keep them
back. But one strange fact is noticeable.

Whether unconsciously or not, the framers of these statutes were
themselves striking the hardest blow at the old system of tenure. From
1351 the masters' preferential claim to the villeins of their own manor
disappears, or is greatly limited. Henceforth the labourers are to
appear in the market place with their tools, and (reminiscent of
scriptural conditions) wait till some man hired them. The State, not the
lord, is now regulating labour. Labour itself has passed from being
"tied to the soil," and has become fluid. It is no longer a personal
obligation, but a commodity.

Even Parliament recognised that in many respects at least the old order
had passed away. The statute of 1351 allows "men of the counties of
Stafford, Lancaster, Derby, the borders of Wales and Scotland, &c., to
come in August time to labour in other counties, and to return in
safety, as they were heretofore wont to do." It is the legalisation of
what had been looked at, up till then, askance. The long, silent
revolution had become conscious. But the lords were, as we have said,
not altogether sorry for the turn things had taken. Groaning under
pressure from the King's heavy war taxation, and under the demands which
the advance of new standards of comfort (especially between 1370 and
1400) entailed, they let off on lease even the demesne land, and became
to a very great extent mere rent-collectors. Commutation proceeded
steadily, with much haggling so as to obtain the highest price from the
eager tenant. Wages rose slowly, it is true, but rose all the same; and
rent, though still high, was becoming, on the whole, less intolerable.

But the drain of the French war, and the peculation in public funds
brought about the final upheaval which completed what the Black Death
had begun. The capricious and unfairly graduated poll-tax of 1381 came
as a climax, and roused the Great Revolt of that year, a revolt
carefully engineered and cleverly organised, which yet for the demands
it made is a striking testimony to the moderation, the good sense, and
also the oppressed state of the English peasant.

The fourfold petition presented to the King by the rebels was:

     (1) The abolition of serfdom.

     (2) The reduction of rent to 4_d._ per acre.

     (3) The liberty to buy and sell in market.

     (4) A free pardon.

Compare the studiously restrained tone of these articles with the
terrible atrocities and vengeance wreaked by the Jacquerie in France,
and the no less awful mob violence perpetrated in Florence by the
Ciompi. While it shows no doubt in a kindly light the more equitable
rule of the English landholder, it remains a monument, also, of the
fair-mindedness of the English worker.

In the towns much the same sort of struggle had been going on; for the
towns themselves, more often than not, sprang up on the demesne of some
lord, whether king, Church, or baron. But here the difficulties were
complicated still further by the interference of the Guilds, which in
the various trades regulated the hours of labour, the quality of the
work, and the rate of remuneration. Yet, on the other hand, it is
undoubted that, once the squalor of the earlier stages of urban life had
been removed or at least improved, the social condition of the poor,
from the fourteenth century onwards, was immeasurably superior in the
towns to what it was in the country districts.

The quickening influence of trade was making itself felt everywhere. In
1331 the cloth trade was introduced at Bristol, and settled down then
definitely in the west of England. In the north we notice the beginnings
of the coal trade. Licence was given to the burgesses of Newcastle to
dig for coal in 1351; and in 1368 two merchants of the same city had
applied for and obtained royal permission to send that precious
commodity "to any part of the kingdom, either by land or water." Even
vast speculations were opening up for English commercial enterprise,
when, by cornering the wool and bribing the King, a ring of merchants
were able to break the Italian banking houses, and disorganise the
European money market, for on the Continent all this energy in trade was
already old. The house of Anjou, for example, had made the kingdom of
Naples a great trading centre. Its corn and cattle were famous the world
over. But in Naples it was the sovereigns (like Edward III and Edward IV
in England) who patronised the commercial instincts of their people. By
the indefatigable genius of the royal house, industry was stimulated,
and private enterprise encouraged. By wise legislation the interests of
the merchants were safeguarded; and by the personal supervision of
Government, fiscal duties were moderated, the currency kept pure and
stable, weights and measures reduced to uniformity, the ease and
security of communications secured.

No doubt trade not seldom, even in that age, led to much evil.
Parliament in England raised its voice against the trickery and deceit
practised by the greater merchants towards the small shopkeepers, and
complained bitterly of the growing custom of the King to farm out to the
wealthier among them the subsidies and port-duties of the kingdom. For
the whole force of the break-up of feudal conditions was to turn the
direction of power into the hands of a small, but moneyed class. Under
Edward III there is a distinct appearance of a set of _nouveaux riches_,
who rise to great prominence and take their places beside the old landed
nobility. De la Pole, the man who did most to establish the prosperity
of Hull, is an excellent example of what is often thought to be a
decidedly modern type. He introduced bricks from the Low Countries, and
apparently by this means and some curious banking speculations of very
doubtful honesty achieved a great fortune. The King paid a visit to his
country house, and made him Chief Baron of the Exchequer, in which
office he was strongly suspected of not always passing to the right
quarter some of the royal moneys. His son became Earl of Suffolk and
Lord Chancellor; and a marriage with royalty made descendants of the
family on more than one occasion heirs-at-law of the Crown.

Even the peasant was beginning to feel the amelioration of his lot,
found life easy, and work something to be shirked. In his food, he was
starting to be delicate. Says Langland in his "Vision of Piers Plowman":

     "Then labourers landless that lived by their hands,
     Would deign not to dine upon worts a day old.
     No penny-ale pleased them, no piece of good bacon,
     Only fresh flesh or fish, well-fried or well-baked,
     Ever hot and still hotter to heat well their maw."

And he speaks elsewhere of their laziness:

     "Bewailing his lot as a workman to live,
     He grumbles against God and grieves without reason,
     And curses the king and his council after
     Who licence the laws that the labourers grieve."

That the poor could thus become fastidious was a good sign of the rising
standard of comfort.

But for all that life was hard, and much at the mercy of the weather,
and of the assaults of man's own fellows. The houses of the better folk
were of brick and stone, and glass windows were just becoming known,
whereas the substitute of oiled paper had been neither cheerful nor of
very much protection. But the huts of the poor were of plastered mud;
and even the walls of a quite respectable man's abode, we know from one
court summons to have been pierced by arrows shot at him by a pugnacious
neighbour. The plaintiff offered to take judge and jury then and there
and show them these "horrid weapons" still sticking to the exterior. In
the larger houses the hall had branched off, by the fourteenth century,
into withdrawing-rooms, and parlours, and bedrooms, such as the Paston
Letters describe with much curious wealth of detail. Lady Milicent
Falstolf, we are told, was the only one in her father's household who
had a ewer and washing-basin.

Yet with all the lack of the modern necessities of life, human nature
was still much the same. The antagonism between rich and poor, which the
collapse of feudal relations had strained to breaking-point, was not
perhaps normally so intense as it is to-day; yet there was certainly
much oppression and unnecessary hardships to be suffered by the weak,
even in that age. The Ancren Riwle, that quaint form of life for
ankeresses drawn up by a Dominican in the thirteenth century, shows
that even then, despite the distance of years and the passing of so many
generations, the manners and ways and mental attitudes of people
depended very much as to whether they were among those who had, or who
had not; the pious author in one passage of homely wit compares certain
of the sisters to "those artful children of rich parents who purposely
tear their clothes that they may have new ones."

There have always been wanton waste and destitution side by side; and on
the prophecy of the One to whom all things were revealed, we know that
the poor shall be always with us. Yet we must honour those who, like
their Master, strive to smooth away the anxious wrinkles of the world.



There have always been religious teachers for whom all material creation
was a thing of evil. Through the whole of the Middle Ages, under the
various names of Manicheans, Albigensians, Vaudois, &c., they became
exceedingly vigorous, though their importance was only fitful. For them
property was essentially unclean, something to be avoided as carrying
with it the in-dwelling of the spirit of evil. Etienne de Bourbon, a
Dominican preacher of the thirteenth century, who got into communication
with one of these strange religionists, has left us a record,
exceedingly unprejudiced, of their beliefs. And amongst their other
tenets, he mentions this, that they condemned all who held landed
property. It will be here noticed that as regards these Vaudois (or Poor
Men of Lyons, as he informs us they were called), there could have been
no question of communism at all, for a common holding of property would
have been as objectionable as private property. To hold material things
either in community or severalty was in either case to bind oneself to
the evil principle. Yet Etienne tells us that there was a sect among
them which did sanction communism; they were called, in fact, the
_Communati_ (_Tractatus de Diversis Materiis Predicabilibus_, Paris,
1877, p. 281). How they were able to reconcile this social state with
their beliefs it is quite impossible to say; but the presumption is that
the example of the early Christians was cited as of sufficient authority
by some of these teachers. Certain it is that a sect still lingered on
into the thirteenth century, called the _Apostolici_, who clung to the
system which had been in vogue among the Apostles. St. Thomas Aquinas
(_Summa Theologica_, 2_a_, 2_ae_, 66, 2) mentions them, and quotes St.
Augustine as one who had already refuted them. But these were seemingly
a Christian body, whereas the Albigensians could hardly make any such
claim, since they repudiated any belief in Christ's humanity, for it
conflicted with their most central dogma.

Still it is clear that there were in existence certain obscure bodies
which clung to communism. The published records of the Inquisition refer
incessantly to preachers of this kind who denied private property,
asserted that no rich man could get to heaven, and attacked the practice
of almsgiving as something utterly immoral.

The relation between these teachers and the Orders of friars has never
been adequately investigated. We know that the Dominicans and
Franciscans were from their earliest institution sent against them, and
must therefore have been well acquainted with their errors. And, as a
fact, we find rising among the friars a party which seemed no little
infected with the "spiritual" tendency of these very Vaudois. The
Franciscan reverence for poverty, which the Poor Man of Assisi had so
strenuously advocated, had in fact become almost a superstition. Instead
of being, as the saint had intended it to be, merely a means to an end,
it had in process of time become looked upon as the essential of
religion. When, therefore, the excessive adoption of it made religious
life an almost impossible thing, an influential party among the
Franciscans endeavoured to have certain modifications made which should
limit it within reasonable bounds. But opposed to them was a determined,
resolute minority, which vigorously refused to have any part in such
"relaxations." The dispute between these two branches of the Order
became at last so tempestuous that it was carried to the Pope, who
appointed a commission of cardinals and theologians to adjudicate on the
rival theories. Their award was naturally in favour of those who, by
their reasonable interpretation of the meaning of poverty, were fighting
for the efficiency of their Order. But this drove the extreme party into
still further extremes. They rejected at once all papal right to
interfere with the constitutions of the friars, and declared that only
St. Francis could undo what St. Francis himself had bound up. Nor was
this all, for in the pursuance of their zeal for poverty they passed
quickly from denunciations of the Pope and the wealthy clergy (in which
their rhetoric found very effective matter for argument) into abstract
reasoning on the whole question of the private possession of property.
The treatises which they have left in crabbed Latin and involved methods
of argument make wearisome and irritating reading. Most are exceedingly
prolix. After pages of profound disquisitions, the conclusions reached
seem to have advanced the problem no further. Yet the gist of the whole
is certainly an attempt to deny to any Christian the right to temporal
possessions. Michael of Cesena, the most logical and most effective of
the whole group, who eventually became the Minister-General of this
portion of the Order, does not hesitate to affirm the incompatibility of
Christianity and private property. From being a question as to the
teaching of St. Francis, the matter had grown to one as to the teaching
of Christ; and in order to prove satisfactorily that the practice of
poverty as inculcated by St. Francis was absolute and inviolable, it was
found necessary to hold that it was equally the declared doctrine of

Even Ockham, a brilliant Oxford Franciscan, who, together with Michael,
defended the Emperor, Louis of Bavaria, in his struggle against Pope
John XXII, let fall in the heat of controversy some sayings which must
have puzzled his august patron; for Louis would have been the very last
person for whom communism had any charms. Closely allied in spirit with
these "Spiritual Franciscans," as they were called, or Fraticelli, were
those curious mediaeval bodies of Beguins and Beghards. Hopelessly
pantheistic in their notion of the Divine Being, and following most
peculiar methods of reaching on earth the Beatific Vision, they took up
with the same doctrine of the religious duty of the communistic life.
They declared the practice of holding private property to be contrary to
the Divine Law.

Another preacher of communism, and one whose name is well known for the
active propaganda of his opinions, and for his share in the English
Peasant Revolt of 1381, was John Ball, known to history as "The Mad
Priest of Kent." There is some difficulty in finding out what his real
theories were, for his chroniclers were his enemies, who took no very
elaborate steps to ascertain the exact truth about him. Of course there
is the famous couplet which is said to have been the text of all his

     "Whaune Adam dalf and Eve span,
     Who was thane a gentilman?"[1]

at least, so it is reported of him in the _Chronicon Angliae_, the work
of an unknown monk of St. Albans (Roll Series, 1874, London, p. 321).
Froissart, that picturesque journalist, who naturally, as a friend of
the Court, detested the levelling doctrines of this political rebel,
gives what he calls one of John Ball's customary sermons. He is
evidently not attempting to report any actual sermon, but rather to give
a general summary of what was supposed to be Ball's opinions. As such,
it is worth quoting in full.

"My good friends, things cannot go on well in England, nor ever will
until everything shall be in common; when there shall be neither vassal
nor lord, and all distinctions levelled; when lords shall be no more
masters than ourselves. How ill have they used us! and for what reason
do they thus hold us in bondage? Are we not all descended from the same
parents--Adam and Eve? And what can they show, and what reason give, why
they should be more the masters than ourselves? Except, perhaps, in
making us labour and work for them to spend." Froissart goes on to say
that for speeches of this nature the Archbishop of Canterbury put Ball
in prison, and adds that for himself he considers that "it would have
been better if he had been confined there all his life, or had been put
to death." However, the Archbishop "set him at liberty, for he could not
for conscience sake have put him to death" (Froissart's _Chronicle_,
1848, London, book ii. cap. 73, pp. 652-653).

From this extract all that can be gathered with certainty is the popular
idea of the opinions John Ball held; and it is instructive to find that
in the Primate's eyes there was nothing in the doctrine to warrant the
extreme penalty of the law. But in reality we have no certainty as to
what Ball actually taught, for in another account we find that,
preaching on Corpus Christi Day, June 13, 1381, during the last days of
the revolt, far fiercer words are ascribed to him. He is made to appeal
to the people to destroy the evil lords and unjust judges, who lurked
like tares among the wheat. "For when the great ones have been rooted up
and cast away, all will enjoy equal freedom--all will have common
nobility, rank, and power." Of course it may be that the war-fever of
the revolt had affected his language; but the sudden change of tone
imputed in the later speeches makes the reader somewhat suspicious of
the authenticity.

The same difficulty which is experienced in discovering the real mind of
Ball is encountered when dealing with Wat Tyler and Jack Straw, who
were, with him, the leaders of the revolt. The confession of Jack Straw
quoted in the _Chronicon Angliae_, like nearly all mediaeval
"confessions," cannot be taken seriously. His accusers and judges
readily supplied what they considered he should have himself admitted.
Without any better evidence we cannot with safety say along what lines
he pushed his theories, or whether, indeed, he had any theories at all.
Again, Wat Tyler is reported to have spoken threateningly to the King on
the morning of his murder by Lord Mayor Walworth; but the evidence is
once more entirely one-sided, contributed by those who were only too
anxious to produce information which should blacken the rebels in the
minds of the educated classes. As a matter of fact, the purely official
documents, in which we can probably put much more reliance (such as the
petitions that poured in from all parts of the country on behalf of the
peasants, and the proclamations issued by Richard II, in which all their
demands were granted on condition of their immediate withdrawal from the
capital), do not leave the impression that the people really advocated
any communistic doctrines; oppression is complained of, the lawyers
execrated, the labour laws are denounced, and that is practically all.

It may be, indeed, that the traditional view of Ball and his followers,
which makes them one with the contemporaneous revolts of the Jacquerie
in France, the Ciompi in Florence, &c., has some basis in fact. But at
present we have no means of gauging the precise amount of truth it

But even better known than John Ball is one who is commonly connected
with the Peasant Revolt, and whose social opinions are often grouped
under the same heading as that of the "Mad Priest of Kent,"--John
Wycliff, Master of Balliol, and parson of Lutterworth. This Oxford
professor has left us a number of works from which to quarry materials
to build up afresh the edifice he intended to erect. His chief
contribution is contained in his _De Civili Dominio_, but its
composition extended over a long period of years, during which time his
views were evidently changing; so that the precise meaning of his famous
theory on the Dominion of Grace is therefore difficult to ascertain.

But in the opening of his treatise he lays down the two main "truths"
upon which his whole system rests:

     I. No one in mortal sin has any right to the gifts of God;

     II. Whoever is in a state of grace has a right, not indeed to
     possess the good things of God, but to use them.

He seems to look upon the whole question from a feudal point of view.
Sin is treason, involving therefore the forfeiture of all that is held
of God. Grace, on the other hand, makes us the liegemen of God, and
gives us the only possible right to all His good gifts. But, he would
seem to argue, it is incontestable that property and power are from God,
for so Scripture plainly assures us. Therefore, he concludes, by grace,
and grace alone, are we put in dominion over all things; once we are in
loyal subjection to God, we own all things, and hold them by the only
sure title. "Dominion by grace" is thus made to lead direct to
communism. His conclusion is quite clear: _Omnia debent esse communia_.

In one of his sermons (Oxford, 1869, vol. i. p. 260), when he has proved
this point with much complacent argumentation, he poses himself with the
obvious difficulty that in point of fact this is not true; for many who
are apparently in mortal sin do possess property and have dominion.
What, then, is to be done, for "they be commonly mighty, and no man dare
take from them"? His answer is not very cheerful, for he has to console
his questioner with the barren scholastic comfort that "nevertheless, he
hath them not, but occupieth things that be not his." Emboldened by the
virtue of this dry logic, he breaks out into his gospel of plain
assertion that "the saints have now all things that they would have."
His whole argument, accordingly, does not get very far, for he is still
speaking really (though he does not at times very clearly distinguish
between the two) much more about the right to a thing than its actual
possession. He does not really defend the despoiling of the evil rich at
all--in his own graphic phrase, "God must serve the Devil"; and all that
the blameless poor can do is to say to themselves that though the rich
"possess" or "occupy," the poor "have." It seems a strange sort of
"having"; but he is careful to note that, "as philosophers say, 'having
is in many manners.'"

Wycliff himself, perhaps, had not definitely made up his mind as to the
real significance of his teaching; for the system which he sketches does
not seem to have been clearly thought out. His words certainly appear to
bear a communistic sense; but it is quite plain that this was not the
intention of the writer. He defends Plato at some length against the
criticism of Aristotle, but only on the ground that the disciple
misunderstood the master: "for I do not think Socrates to have so
intended, but only to have had the true catholic idea that each should
have the use of what belongs to his brother" (_De Civili Dominio_,
London, 1884-1904, vol. i. p. 99). And just a few lines farther on he
adds, "But whether Socrates understood this or not, I shall not further
question. This only I know, that by the law of charity every Christian
ought to have the just use of what belongs to his neighbour." What else
is this really but the teaching of Aristotle that there should be
"private property and common use"? It is, in fact, the very antithesis
of communism.

Some have thought that he was fettered in his language by his academic
position; but no Oxford don has ever said such hard things about his
Alma Mater as did this master of Balliol. "Universities," says he,
"houses of study, colleges, as well as degrees and masterships in them,
are vanities introduced by the heathen, and profit the Church as little
and as much as does Satan himself." Surely it were impossible to accuse
such a man of economy of language, and of being cowed by any University

His words, we have noted above, certainly can bear the interpretation of
a very levelling philosophy. Even in his own generation he was accused
through his followers of having had a hand in instigating the revolt.
His reply was an angry expostulation (Trevelyan's _England in the Age of
Wycliff_, 1909, London, p. 201). Indeed, considering that John of Gaunt
was his best friend and protector, it would be foolish to connect
Wycliff with the Peasant Rising. The insurgents, in their hatred of
Gaunt, whom they looked upon as the cause of their oppression, made all
whom they met swear to have no king named John (_Chronicon Angliae_, p.
286). And John Ball, whom the author of the _Fasciculi Zizaniorum_ (p.
273, Roll Series, 1856, London) calls the "darling follower" of Wycliff,
can only be considered as such in his doctrinal teaching on the dogma of
the Real Presence. It must be remembered that to contemporary England
Wycliff's fame came from two of his opinions, viz. his denial of a real
objective Presence in the Mass (for Christ was there only by "ghostly
wit"), and his advice to King and Parliament to confiscate Church lands.
But whenever Ball or anyone else is accused of being a follower of
Wycliff, nothing else is probably referred to than the professor's
well-known opinion on the sacrament of the Eucharist. Hence it is that
the _Chronicon Angliae_ speaks of John Ball as having been imprisoned
earlier in life for his Wycliffite errors, which it calls simply
_perversa dogmata_. The "Morning Star of the Reformation" being
therefore declared innocent of complicity with the Peasant Revolt, it
is interesting to note to whom it is that he ascribes the whole force of
the rebellion. For him the head and front of all offending was the hated

Against this imputation the four Orders of friars (the Dominicans,
Franciscans, Augustinians, and Carmelites) issued a protest. Fortunately
in their spirited reply they give the reasons on account of which they
are supposed to have shared in the rising. These were principally
negative. Thus it was stated that their influence with the people was so
great that had they ventured to oppose the spirit of revolt their words
would have been listened to (_Fasciculi Zizaniorum_, p. 293). The
chronicler of St. Albans is equally convinced of their weakness in not
preventing it, and declares that the flattery which they used alike on
rich and poor had also no mean share in producing the social unrest
(_Chronicon Angliae_, p. 312). Langland also, in his "Vision of Piers
Plowman," goes out of his way to denounce them for their levelling

     "Envy heard this and bade friars go to school,
     And learn logic and law and eke contemplation,
     And preach men of Plato and prove it by Seneca
     That all things under Heaven ought to be in common,
     And yet he lieth, as I live, and to the lewd so preacheth
     For God made to men a law and Moses it taught--

            _Non concupisces rem proximi tui_"
       (Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods).

Here then it is distinctly asserted that the spread of communistic
doctrines was due to the friars. Moreover, the same popular opinion is
reflected in the fabricated confession of Jack Straw, for he is made to
declare that had the rebels been successful, all the monastic orders, as
well as the secular clergy, would have been put to death, and only the
friars would have been allowed to continue. Their numbers would have
sufficed for the spiritual needs of the whole kingdom (_Chronicon
Angliae_, p. 309). Moreover, it has been noticed that not a few of them
actually took part in the revolt, heading some of the bands of
countrymen who marched on London.

It will have been seen, therefore, that Communism was a favourite
rallying-cry throughout the Middle Ages for all those on whom the
oppression of the feudal yoke bore heavily. It was partly also a
religious ideal for some of the strange gnostic sects which flourished
at that era. Moreover, it was an efficient weapon when used as an
accusation, for Wycliff and the friars alike both dreaded its
imputation. Perhaps of all that period, John Ball alone held it
consistently and without shame. Eloquent in the way of popular appeal,
he manifestly endeavoured to force it as a social reform on the
peasantry, who were suffering under the intolerable grievance of the
Statutes of Labourers. But though he roused the countryside to his
following, and made the people for the first time a thing of dread to
nobles and King, it does not appear that his ideas spread much beyond
his immediate lieutenants. Just as in their petitions the rebels made no
doctrinal statements against Church teaching, nor any capital out of
heretical attacks (except, singularly enough, to accuse the Primate,
whom they subsequently put to death, of overmuch leniency to Lollards),
so, too, they made no reference to the central idea of Ball's social
theories. In fact, little abstract matter could well have appealed to
them. Concrete oppression was all they knew, and were this done away
with, it is evident that they would have been well content.

The case of the friars is curious. For though their superiors made many
attempts to prove their hostility to the rebels, it is evident that
their actual teaching was suspected by those in high places. It is the
exact reversal of the case of Wycliff. His views, which sounded so
favourable to communism, are found on examination to be really nothing
but a plea to leave things alone, "for the saints have now all they
would have"; while on the other hand the theories of the friars, in
themselves so logical and consistent, and in appearance obviously
conservative to the fullest extent, turn out to contain the germ of

Said Lord Acton with his sober wit: "Not the devil, but St. Thomas
Aquinas, was the first Whig."


[1] This rhyme is of course much older than John Ball; _cf._ Richard
Rolle (1300-1349), i. 73, London, 1895.



The schoolmen in their adventurous quest after a complete harmony of all
philosophic learning could not neglect the great outstanding problems of
social and economic life. They flourished at the very period of European
history when commerce and manufacture were coming back to the West, and
their rise synchronises with the origin of the great houses of the
Italian and Jewish bankers. Yet there was very little in the past
learning of Christian teachers to guide them in these matters, for the
patristic theories, which we have already described, and a few isolated
passages cited in the Decretals of Gratian, formed as yet almost the
only contribution to the study of these sciences. However, this absence
of any organised body of knowledge was for them but one more stimulus
towards the elaboration of a thorough synthesis of the moral aspect of
wealth. A few of the earlier masters made reference, detached and
personal, to the subject of dispute, but it was rather in the form of a
disorderly comment than the definite statement of a theory.

Then came the translation of Aristotle's _Politics_, with the keen
criticism they contain of the views Plato had advocated. Here at once
the intellect of Europe found an exact exposition of principles, and
began immediately to debate their excellence and their defect. St.
Thomas Aquinas set to work on a literal commentary, and at his express
desire an accurate translation was made direct from the Greek by his
fellow-Dominican, William of Moerbeke. Later on, when all this had had
time to settle and find its place, St. Thomas worked out his own theory
of private property in two short articles in his famous _Summa
Theologica_. In his treatise on Justice, which occupies a large
proportion of the _Secund Secundae_ of the _Summa_, he found himself
forced to discuss the moral evil of theft; and to do this adequately he
had first to explain what he meant by private possessions. Without
these, of course, there could be no theft at all.

He began, therefore, by a preliminary article on the actual state of
created things--that is, the material, so to say, out of which private
property is evolved. Here he notes that the nature of things, their
constituent essence, is in the hands of God, not man. The worker can
change the form, and, in consequence, the value of a thing, but the
substance which lies beneath all the outward show is too subtle for him
to affect it in any way. To the Supreme Being alone can belong the power
of creation, annihilation, and absolute mutation. But besides this
tremendous force which God holds incommunicably, there is another which
He has given to man, namely, the use of created things. For when man was
made, he was endowed with the lordship of the earth. This lordship is
obviously one without which he could not live. The air, and the forces
of nature, the beasts of the field, the birds and fishes, the vegetation
in fruit and root, and the stretches of corn are necessary for man's
continued existence on the earth. Over them, therefore, he has this
limited dominion.

Moreover, St. Thomas goes on, man has not merely the present moment to
consider. He is a being possessed of intelligence and will, powers which
demand and necessitate their own constant activity. Instinct, the gift
of brute creation, ensures the preservation of life by its blind
preparation for the morrow. Man has no such ready-made and spontaneous
faculty. His powers depend for their effectiveness on their deliberative
and strenuous exertions. And because life is a sacred thing, a lamp of
which the once extinguished light cannot be here re-enkindled, it
carries with it, when it is intelligent and volitional, the duty of
self-preservation. Accordingly the human animal is bound by the law of
his own being to provide against the necessities of the future. He has,
therefore, the right to acquire not merely what will suffice for the
instant, but to look forward and arrange against the time when his power
of work shall have lessened, or the objects which suffice for his
personal needs become scarcer or more difficult of attainment. Property,
therefore, of some kind or other, says Aquinas, is required by the very
nature of man. Individual possessions are not a mere adventitious luxury
which time has accustomed him to imagine as something he can hardly do
without, nor are they the result of civilised culture, which by the law
of its own development creates fresh needs for each fresh demand
supplied; but in some form or other they are an absolute and dire
necessity, without which life could not be lived at all. Not simply for
his "well-being," but for his very existence, man finds them to be a
sacred need. Thus as they follow directly from the nature of creation,
we can term them "natural."

St. Thomas then proceeds in his second article to enter into the
question of the rights of private property. The logical result of his
previous argument is only to affirm the need man has of some property;
the practice of actually dividing goods among individuals requires
further elaboration if it is to be reasonably defended. Man must have
the use of the fruits of the earth, but why these rather than those
should belong to him is an entirely different problem. It is the problem
of Socialism. For every socialist must demand for each member of the
human race the right to some possessions, food and other such
necessities. But why he should have this particular thing, and why that
other thing should belong to someone else, is the question which lies at
the basis of all attempts to preserve or destroy the present fabric of
society. Now, the argument which we have so far cited from St. Thomas is
simply based on the indefeasible right of the individual to the
maintenance of his life. Personality implies the right of the individual
to whatever is needful to him in achieving his earthly purpose, but does
not in itself justify the right to private property.

"Two offices pertain to man with regard to exterior things" (thus he
continues). "The first is the power of procuring and dispensing, and in
respect to this, it is lawful for man to hold things as his own." Here
it is well to note that St. Thomas in this single sentence teaches that
private property, or the individual occupation of actual land or capital
or instruments of wealth, is not contrary to the moral law. Consequently
he would repudiate the famous epigram, "_La Propriété c'est le vol_."
Man may hold and dispose of what belongs to him, may have private
property, and in no way offend against the principles of justice,
whether natural or divine.

But in the rest of the article St. Thomas goes farther still. Not merely
does he hold the moral proposition that private property is lawful, but
he adds to it the social proposition that private property is necessary.
"It is even necessary," says he, "for human life, and that for three
reasons. Firstly, because everyone is more solicitous about procuring
what belongs to himself alone than that which is common to all or many,
since each shunning labour leaves to another what is the common burden
of all, as happens with a multitude of servants. Secondly, because human
affairs are conducted in a more orderly fashion if each has his own duty
of procuring a certain thing, while there would be confusion if each
should procure things haphazard. Thirdly, because in this way the peace
of men is better preserved, for each is content with his own. Whence we
see that strife more frequently arises among those who hold a thing in
common and individually. The other office which is man's concerning
exterior things, is the use of them; and with regard to this a man ought
not to hold exterior things as his own, but as common to all, that he
may portion them out to others readily in time of need." (The
translation is taken from _New Things and Old_, by H. C. O'Neill, 1909,
London, pp. 253-4.) The wording and argument of this will bear, and is
well worth, careful analysis. For St. Thomas was a man, as Huxley
witnesses, of unique intellectual power, and, moreover, his theories on
private property were immediately accepted by all the schoolmen. Each
succeeding writer did little else than make more clear and defined the
outlines of the reasoning here elaborated. We shall, therefore, make no
further apology for an attempt to set out the lines of thought sketched
by Aquinas.

It will be noticed at once that the principles on which private property
are here based are of an entirely different nature from those by which
the need of property itself was defended. For the latter we were led
back to the very nature of man himself and confronted with his right and
duty to preserve his own life. From this necessity of procuring supply
against the needs of the morrow, and the needs of the actual hour, was
deduced immediately the conclusion that property of some kind (_i.e._
the possession of some material things) was demanded by the law of man's
nature. It was intended as an absolute justification of a sacred right.
But in this second article a completely different process is observed.
We are no longer considering man's essential nature in the abstract, but
are becoming involved in arguments of concrete experience. The first was
declared to be a sacred right, as it followed from a law of nature; the
second is merely conditioned by the reasons brought forward to support
it. To repeat the whole problem as it is put in the _Summa_, we can
epitomise the reasoning of St. Thomas in this easier way. The question
of property implies two main propositions: (_a_) the right to property,
_i.e._ to the use of material creation; (_b_) the right to private
property, _i.e._ to the actual division of material things among the
determined individuals of a social group. The former is a sacred,
inalienable right, which can never be destroyed, for it springs from the
roots of man's nature. If man exists, and is responsible for his
existence, then he must necessarily have the right to the means without
which his existence is made impossible. But the second proposition must
be determined quite differently. The kind of property here spoken of is
simply a matter not of right, but of experienced necessity, and is to be
argued for on the distinct grounds that without it worse things would
follow: "it is even necessary for human life, and that for three
reasons." This is a purely conditional necessity, and depends entirely
on the practical effect of the three reasons cited. Were a state of
society to exist in which the three reasons could no longer be urged
seriously, then the necessity which they occasioned would also cease to
hold. In point of fact, St. Thomas was perfectly familiar with a social
group in which these conditions did not exist, and the law of individual
possession did not therefore hold, namely, the religious orders. As a
Dominican, he had defended his own Order against the attacks of those
who would have suppressed it altogether; and in his reply to William of
St. Amour he had been driven to uphold the right to common life, and
consequently to deny that private property was inalienable.

Of course it was perfectly obvious that for St. Thomas himself the idea
of the Commune or the State owning all the land and capital, and
allowing to the individual citizens simply the use of these common
commodities, was no doubt impracticable; and the three reasons which he
gives are his sincere justification of the need of individual ownership.
Without this division of property, he considered that national life
would become even more full of contention than it was already.
Accordingly, it was for its effectiveness in preventing a great number
of quarrels that he defended the individual ownership of property.

Besides this article, there are many other expressions and broken
phrases in which Aquinas uses the same phrase, asserting that the actual
division of property was due to human nature. "Each field considered in
itself cannot be looked upon as naturally belonging to one rather than
to another" (2, 2, 57, 3); "distinction of property is not inculcated by
nature" (1_a_, 2_ae_, 94, 5); but again he is equally clear in insisting
on the other proposition, that there is no moral law which forbids the
possession of land in severalty. "The common claim upon things is
traceable to the natural law, not because the natural law dictates that
all things should be held in common, and nothing as belonging to any
individual person, but because according to the natural law there is no
distinction of possessions which comes by human convention" (2_a_,
2_ae_, 66, 2_ad_ 1_m_.).

To apprehend the full significance of this last remark, reference must
be made to the theories of the Roman legal writers, which have been
already explained. The law of nature was looked upon as some primitive
determination of universal acceptance, and of venerable sanction, which
sprang from the roots of man's being. This in its absolute form could
never be altered or changed; but there was besides another law which had
no such compelling power, but which rested simply on the experience of
the human race. This was reversible, for it depended on specific
conditions and stages of development. Thus nature dictated no division
of property, though it implied the necessity of some property; the need
of the division was only discovered when men set to work to live in
social intercourse. Then it was found that unless divisions were made,
existence was intolerable; and so by human convention, as St. Thomas
sometimes says, or by the law of nature, as he elsewhere expresses it,
the division into private property was agreed upon and took place.

This elaborate statement of St. Thomas was widely accepted through all
the Middle Ages. Wycliff alone, and a few like him, ventured to oppose
it; but otherwise this extremely logical and moderate defence of
existing institutions received general adhesion. Even Scotus, like
Ockham, a brilliant Oxford scholar whose hidden tomb at Cologne finds
such few pilgrims kneeling in its shade, so hardy in his thought and so
eager to find a flaw in the arguments of Aquinas, has no alternative to
offer. Franciscan though he was, and therefore, perhaps, more likely to
favour communistic teaching, his own theory is but a repetition of what
his rival had already propounded. Thus, for example, he writes in a
typical passage: "Even supposing it as a principle of positive law that
'life must be lived peaceably in a state of polity,' it does not
straightway follow 'Therefore everyone must have separate possessions.'
For peace could be observed even if all things were in common. Nor even
if we presuppose the wickedness of those who live together is it a
necessary consequence. Still a distinction of property is decidedly in
accord with a peaceful social life. For the wicked rather take care of
their private possessions, and rather seek to appropriate to themselves
than to the community common goods. Whence come strife and contention.
Hence we find it (division of property) admitted in almost every
positive law. And although there is a fundamental principle from which
all other laws and rights spring, still from that fundamental principle
positive human laws do not follow absolutely or immediately. Rather it
is as declarations or explanations in detail of that general principle
that they come into being, and must be considered as evidently in accord
with the universal law of nature." (_Super Sententias Quaestiones_, Bk.
4, Dist. 15, q. 2. Venice, 1580.)

Here again, then, are the same salient points we have already noticed in
the _Summa_. There is the idea clearly insisted on that the division of
property is not a first principle nor an immediate deduction from a
first principle, that in itself it is not dictated by the natural law
which leaves all things in common, that it is, however, not contrary to
natural law, but evidently in accord with it, that its necessity and its
introduction were due entirely to the actual experience of the race.

Again, to follow the theory chronologically still farther forward, St.
Antonino, whose charitable institutions in Florence have stamped deeply
with his personality that scene of his life's labours, does little more
than repeat the words of St. Thomas, though the actual phrase in which
he here compresses many pages of argument is reproduced from a work by
the famous Franciscan moralist John de Ripa. "It is by no means right
that here upon earth fallen humanity should have all things in common,
for the world would be turned into a desert, the way to fraud and all
manner of evils would be opened, and the good would have always the
worse, and the bad always the better, and the most effective means of
destroying all peace would be established" (_Summa Moralis_, 3, 3, 2,
1). Hence he concludes that "such a community of goods never could
benefit the State." These are none other arguments than those already
advanced by St. Thomas. His articles, already quoted, are indeed the
_Locus Classicus_ for all mediaeval theorists, and, though references
in every mediaeval work on social and economic questions are freely made
to Aristotle's _Politics_, it is evident that it is really Aquinas who
is intended.

Distinction of property, therefore, though declared so necessary for
peaceable social life, does not, for these thinkers, rest on natural
law, nor a divine law, but on positive human law under the guidance of
prudence and authority. Communism is not something evil, but rather an
ideal too lofty to be ever here realised. It implied so much generosity,
and such a vigour of public spirit, as to be utterly beyond the reach of
fallen nature. The Apostles alone could venture to live so high a life,
"for their state transcended that of every other mode of living"
(Ptolomeo of Lucca, _De Regimine Principio_, book iv., cap. 4, Parma,
1864, p. 273). However, that form of communism which entailed an
absolutely even division of all wealth among all members of the group,
though it had come to them on the authority of Phileas and Lycurgus, was
indeed to be reprobated, for it contradicted the prime feature of all
creation. God made all things in their proper number, weight, and
measure. Yet in spite of all this it must be insisted on at the risk of
repetition that the socialist theory of State ownership is never
considered unjust, never in itself contrary to the moral law. Albertus
Magnus, the master of Aquinas, and the leader in commenting on
Aristotle's _Politics_, freely asserts that community of goods "is not
impossible, especially among those who are well disciplined by the
virtue of philanthropy--that is, the common love of all; for love, of
its own nature, is generous." But to arrange it, the power of the State
must be called into play; it cannot rest on any private authority. "This
is the proper task of the legislator, for it is the duty of the
legislator to arrange everything for the best advantage of the
citizens" (_In Politicis_, ii. 2, p. 70, Lyons, 1651). Such, too, is the
teaching of St. Antonino, who even goes so far as to assert that "just
as the division of property at the beginning of historic time was made
by the authority of the State, it is evident that the same authority is
equally competent to reverse its decision and return to its earlier
social organisation" (_Summa Moralis_, ii. 3, 2, Verona, 1740, p. 182).
He lays down, indeed, a principle so broad that it is difficult to
understand where it could well end: "That can be justly determined by
the prince which is necessary for the peaceful intercourse of the
citizens." And in defence he points triumphantly to the fact that the
prince can set aside a just claim to property, and transfer it to
another who happens to hold it by prescription, on the ground of the
numerous disputes which might otherwise be occasioned. That is to say,
that the law of his time already admitted that in certain circumstances
the State could take what belonged to one and give it to another,
without there being any fault on the part of the previous owner to
justify its forfeiture; and he defends this proceeding on the axiom just
cited (_ibid._, pp. 182-3), namely, its necessity "for the peaceful
intercourse of the citizens."

The Schoolmen can therefore be regarded as a consistent and logical
school. They had an extreme dislike to any broad generalisation, and
preferred rather, whenever the occasion could be discovered, to
distinguish rather than to concede or deny. Hence, confronted by the
communistic theory of State ownership which had been advanced by Plato,
and by a curious group of strange, heterodox teachers, and which had,
moreover, the actual support of many patristic sayings, and the strong
bias of monastic life, they set out joyfully to resolve it into the
simplest and most unassailable series of propositions. They began,
therefore, by admitting that nature made no division of property, and in
that sense held all things in common; that in the early stages of human
history, when man, as yet unfallen, was conceived as living in the
Garden of Eden in perfect innocency, common property amply satisfied his
sinless and unselfish moral character; that by the Fall lust and greed
overthrew this idyllic state, and led to a continued condition of
internecine strife, and the supremacy of might; that experience
gradually brought men to realise that their only hope towards peaceful
intercourse lay in the actual division of property, and the
establishment of a system of private ownership; that this could only be
set aside by men who were themselves perfect, or had vowed themselves to
pursue perfection, namely, Our Lord, His Apostles, and the members of
religious orders. To this list of what they held to be historic events
they added another which contained the moral deductions to be made from
these facts. This began by the assertion that private property in itself
was not in any sense contrary to the virtue of justice; that it was
entirely lawful; that it was even necessary on account of certain evil
conditions which otherwise would prevail; that the State, however, had
the right in extreme cases and for a just cause to transfer private
property from one to another; that it could, when the needs of its
citizens so demanded, reverse its primitive decision, and re-establish
its earlier form of common ownership; that this last system, however
possible, and however much it might be regretted as a vanished and lost
ideal, was decidedly now a violent and impracticable proceeding.

These theories, it is evident, though they furnish the only arguments
which are still in use among us to support the present social
organisation, are also patent of an interpretation which might equally
lead to the very opposite conclusion. In his fear of any general
contradiction to communism which should be open to dispute, and in his
ever-constant memory of his own religious life as a Dominican friar,
Aquinas had to mark with precision to what extent and in what sense
private property could be justified. But at the same time he was forced
by the honesty of his logical training to concede what he could in
favour of the other side. He took up in this question, as in every
other, a middle course, in which neither extreme was admitted, but both
declared to contain an element of truth. It is clear, too, that his
scholastic followers, even to our own date, in their elaborate
commentaries can find no escape from the relentless logic of his
conclusions. Down the channel that he dug flowed the whole torrent of
mediaeval and modern scholasticism.[2] But for those whose minds were
practical rather than abstract, one or other proposition he advanced,
isolated from the context of his thought, could be quoted as of moment,
and backed by the greatness of his name. His assertion of the absolute
impracticable nature of socialistic organisation, as he knew it in his
own age, was too good a weapon to be neglected by those who sought about
for means of defence for their own individualistic theories; whereas
others, like the friars of whom Wycliff and Langland spoke, and who
headed bands of luckless peasants in the revolt of 1381 against the
oppression of an over-legalised feudalism, were blind to this remarkable
expression of Aquinas' opinion, and quoted him only when he declared
that "by nature all things were in common," and when he protested that
the socialist theory of itself contained nothing contrary to the
teaching of the gospel or the doctrines of the Church.

Truth is blinding in its brilliance. Half-truths are easy to see, and
still easier to explain. Hence the full and detailed theory elaborated
by the Schoolmen has been tortured to fit first one and then another
scheme of political reform. Yet all the while its perfect adjustment of
every step in the argument remains a wonderful monument of the
intellectual delicacy and hardihood of the Schoolmen.


[2] _Cf._ Coutenson, _Theologia Mentis et Cordis_, iii. 388-389, Paris,
1875; and Billnart, _De Justitia_, i. 123-124, Liège, 1746.



Besides the Schoolmen, by whom the problems of life were viewed in the
refracted light of theology and philosophy, there was another important
class in mediaeval times which exercised itself over the same social
questions, but visaged them from an entirely different angle. This was
the great brotherhood of the law, which, whether as civil or canonical,
had its own theories of the rights of private ownership. It must be
remembered, too, that just as the theologians supported their views by
an appeal to what were considered historic facts in the origin of
property, so, too, the legalists depended for the material of their
judgment on circumstances which the common opinion of the time admitted
as authentic.

When the West drifted out from the clouds of barbaric invasion, and had
come into calm waters, society was found to be organised on a basis of
what has been called feudalism. That is to say, the natural and
universal result of an era of conquest by a wandering people is that the
new settlers hold their possessions from the conqueror on terms
essentially contractual. The actual agreements have varied constantly in
detail, but the main principle has always been one of reciprocal rights
and duties. So at the early dawn of the Middle Ages, after the period
picturesquely styled the Wanderings of the Nations, we find the
subjugating races have encamped in Europe, and hold it by a series of
fiefs. The action, for example, of William the Norman, as plainly shown
in Domesday Book, is typical of what had for some three or four
centuries been happening here and on the Continent. Large tracts of land
were parcelled out among the invading host, and handed over to
individual barons to hold from the King on definite terms of furnishing
him with men in times of war, of administering justice within their
domains, and of assisting at his Council Board when he should stand in
need of their advice. The barons, to suit their own convenience, divided
up these territories among their own retainers on terms similar to those
by which they held their own. And thus the whole organisation of the
country was graduated from the King through the greater barons to
tenants who held their possessions, whether a castle, or a farm, or a
single hut, from another to whom they owed suit and service.

This roughly (constantly varying, and never actually quite so absolutely
carried out) is the leading principle of feudalism. It is clearly based
upon a contract between each man and his immediate lord; but, and this
is of importance in the consideration of the feudal theory of private
property, whatever rights and duties held good were not public, but
private. There was not at the first, and in the days of what we may
call "pure feudalism," any concept of a national law or natural right,
but only a bundle of individual rights. Appeal from injustice was not
made at a supreme law-court, but only to the courts of the barons to
whom both litigants owed allegiance. The action of the King was quite
naturally always directed towards breaking open this enclosed sphere of
influence, and endeavouring to multiply the occasions on which his
officials might interfere in the courts of his subjects. Thus the idea
gradually grew up (and its growth is perhaps the most important matter
of remark in mediaeval history), by which the King's law and the King's
rights were looked upon as dominating those of individuals or groups.
The courts baron and customary, and the sokes of privileged townships
were steadily emptied of their more serious cases, and shorn of their
primitive powers. This, too, was undoubtedly the reason for the royal
interference in the courts Christian (the feudal name for the clerical
criminal court). The King looked on the Church, as he looked on his
barons and his exempted townships, as outside his royal supremacy, and,
in consequence, quarrelled over investiture and criminous clerks, and
every other point in which he had not as yet secured that his writs and
judgments should prevail. There was a whole series of courts of law
which were absolutely independent of his officers and his decision. His
restless energy throughout this period had, therefore, no other aim than
to bring all these into a line with his own, and either to capture them
for himself, or to reduce them to sheer impotence. But at the beginning
there was little notion of a royal judge who should have power to
determine cases in which barons not immediately holding their fiefs of
the King were implicated. The concern of each was only with the lord
next above him. And the whole conception of legal rights was, therefore,
considered simply as private rights.

The growth of royal power consequently acted most curiously on
contemporary thinkers. It meant centralisation, the setting up of a
definite force which should control the whole kingdom. It resulted in
absolutism increasing, with an ever-widening sphere of royal control. It
culminated in the Reformation, which added religion to the other
departments of State in which royal interference held predominance. Till
then the Papacy, as in some sort "a foreign power," world-wide and
many-weaponed, could treat on more than equal terms with any European
monarch, and secure independence for the clergy. With the lopping off of
the national churches from the parent stem, this energising force from a
distant centre of life ceased. Each separate clerical organisation could
now depend only on its own intrinsic efficiency. For most this meant
absolute surrender.

The civil law therefore which supplanted feudalism entailed two
seemingly contradicting principles which are of importance in
considering the ownership of land. On the one hand, the supremacy of the
King was assured. The people became more and more heavily taxed, their
lands were subjected to closer inspection, their criminal actions were
viewed less as offences against individuals than as against the peace of
the King. It is an era in which, therefore, as we have already stated,
the power of the individual sinks gradually more and more into
insignificance in comparison with the rising force of the King's
dominion. Private rights are superseded by public rights.

Yet, on the other hand, and by the development of identically the same
principles, the individual gains. His tenure of land becomes far less a
matter of contract. He himself escapes from his feudal chief, and his
inferior tenants slip also from his control. He is no longer one in a
pyramid of grouped social organisation, but stands now as an individual
answerable only to the head of the State. He has duties still; but no
longer a personal relationship to his lord. It is the King and that
vague abstraction called the State which now claim him as a subject; and
by so doing are obliged to recognise his individual status. This new and
startling prominence of the individual disturbed the whole concept of
ownership. Originally under the influence of that pure feudalism which
nowhere existed in its absolute form, the two great forces in the life
of each member of the social group were his own and that of his
immediate lord. These fitted together into an almost indissoluble union;
and therefore absolute ownership of the soil was theoretically
impossible. Now, however, the individual was emancipated from his lord.
He was still, it is true, subject to the King, whose power might be a
great deal more oppressive than the barons' had been. But the King was
far off, whereas the baron had been near, and nearly always in full
evidence. Hence the result was the emphasis of the individual's absolute
dominion. Not, indeed, as though it excluded the dominion of the King,
but precisely because the royal predominance could only be recognised by
the effective shutting out of the interference of the lord. To exclude
the "middle-man," the King was driven to recognise the absolute dominion
of the individual over his own possessions.

This is brought out in English law by Bracton and his school. Favourers
as they were of the royal prerogative, they were driven to take up the
paradoxical ground that the King was not the sole owner of property. To
defend the King they were obliged to dispossess him. To put his control
on its most effective basis, they had no other alternative left them
than to admit the fullest rights of the individual against the King. For
only if the individual had complete ownership, could there be no
interference on the part of the lord; only if the possessions of the
tenants were his own, were they prevented from falling under the
baronial jurisdiction. Therefore by apparently denying the royal
prerogative the civil lawyers were in effect, as they perfectly well
recognised, really extending it and enabling it to find its way into
cases and courts where it could not else well have entered.

Seemingly, therefore, all idea of socialism or nationalisation of land
(at that date the great means of production) was now excluded. The
individualistic theory of property had suddenly appeared; and
simultaneously the old group forms, which implied collectivism in some
shape or other, ceased any longer to be recognised as systems of tenure.
Yet, at the same time, by a paradox as evident as that by which the
civilians exalted the royal prerogative apparently at its own expense,
or as that by which Wycliff's communism is found to be in reality a
justification of the policy of leaving things as they are, while St.
Thomas's theory of property is discovered as far less oppressive and
more adaptable to progressive developments of national wealth, it is
noticed that, from the point of view of the socialist, monarchical
absolutism is the most favourable form of a State's constitution. For
wherever a very strictly centralised system of government exists, it is
clear that a machinery, which needs little to turn it to the advantage
of the absolute rule of a rebellious minority, has been already
constructed. In a country where, on the other hand, local government has
been enormously encouraged, it is obviously far more difficult for
socialism to force an entrance into each little group. There are all
sorts of local conditions to be squared, vagaries of law and
administration to be reduced to order, connecting bridges to be thrown
from one portion of the nation to the next, so as to form of it one
single whole. Were the socialists of to-day to seize on the machinery of
government in Germany and Russia, they could attain their purposes
easily and smoothly, and little difference in constitutional forms would
be observed in these countries, for already the theory of State
ownership and State interference actually obtains. They would only have
to substitute a _bloc_ for a man. But in France and England, where the
centralisation is far less complete, the success of the socialistic
party and its achievement of supreme power would mean an almost entire
subversal of all established methods of administration, for all the
threads would have first to be gathered into a single hand.

Consequently feudalism, which turned the landowners into petty
sovereigns and insisted on local courts, &c., though seemingly
communistic or socialistic, was really, from its intense local
colouring, far less easy of capture by those who favoured State
interference. It was individualistic, based on private rights. But the
new royal prerogative led the way to the consideration of the evident
ease by which, once the machine was possessed, the rest of the system
could without difficulty be brought into harmony with the new theories.
To make use of comparison, it was Cardinal Wolsey's assumption of full
legatine power by permission of the Pope which first suggested to Henry
VIII that he could dispense with His Holiness altogether. He saw that
the Cardinal wielded both spiritual and temporal jurisdiction. He
coveted his minister's position, and eventually achieved it by ousting
both Clement and Wolsey, who had unwittingly shown him in which way more
power lay.

So, similarly, the royal despotism itself, by centralising all power
into the hands of a single prince, accustomed men to the idea of the
absolute supremacy of national law, drove out of the field every
defender of the rights of minorities, and thus paved the way for the
substitution of the people for itself. The French Revolution was the
logical conclusion to be drawn from the theories of Louis XIV. It needed
only the fire of Rousseau to burn out the adventitious ornamentation
which in the shape of that monarch's personal glorification still
prevented the naked structure from being seen in all its clearness.
_L'Etat c'est moi_ can be as aptly the watchword of a despotic
oligarchy, or a levelling socialism, as of a kingly tyranny, according
as it passes from the lips of the one to the few or the many. It is true
that the last phase was not completed till long after the Middle Ages
had closed, but the tendency towards it is evident in the teachings of
the civil lawyers.

Thus, for example, State absolutism is visible in the various
suggestions made by men like Pierre du Bois and Wycliff (who, in the
expression of their thoughts, are both rather lawyers than schoolmen) to
dispossess the clergy of their temporalities. The principles urged, for
instance, by these two in justification of this spoliation could be
applied equally well to the estates of laymen. For the same principles
put into the King's hand the undetermined power of doing what was
necessary for the well-being of the State. It is true that Pierre du
Bois (_De Recuperatione Terre Sancte_, pp. 39-41, 115-8) asserted that
the royal authority was limited to deal in this way with Church lands,
and could not touch what belonged to others. But this proviso was
obviously inserted so arbitrarily that its logical force could not have
had any effect. Political necessity alone prevented it from being used
against the nobility and gentry.

Ockham, however, the clever Oxford Franciscan, who formed one of the
group of pamphleteers that defended Louis of Bavaria against Pope John
XXII, quite clearly enlarged the grounds for Church disendowment so as
to include the taking over by the State of all individual property. He
was a thinker whose theories were strangely compounded of absolutism and
democracy. The Emperor was to be supported because his autocracy came
from the people. Hence, when Ockham is arguing about ecclesiastical
wealth, and the way in which it could be quite fairly confiscated by the
Government, he enters into a discussion about the origin of the imperial
dignity. This, he declares, was deliberately handed over by the people
to the Emperor. To escape making the Pope the original donor of the
imperial title, Ockham concedes that privilege to the people. It was
they, the people, who had handed over to the Caesars of the Holy Roman
Empire all their own rights and powers. Hence Louis was a monarch whose
absolutism rested on a popular basis. Then he proceeds in his argument
to say that the human positive law by which private property was
introduced was made by the people themselves, and that the right or
power by which this was done was transferred by them to the Emperor
along with the imperial dignity.

Louis, therefore, had the same right to undo what they had done, for in
him all their powers now resided. This, of course, formed an excellent
principle from which to argue to his right to dispossess the Church of
its superfluous wealth--indeed of all its wealth. But it could prove
equally effectual against the holding by the individual of any property
whatever. It made, in effect, private ownership rest on the will of the

Curiously, too, in quite another direction the same form of argument had
been already worked out by Nicole Oresme, a famous Bishop of Lisieux,
who first translated into French the _Politics_ of Aristotle, and who
helped so largely in the reforms of Charles V of France. His great work
was in connection with the revision of the coinage, on which he composed
a celebrated treatise. He held that the change of the value of money,
either by its deliberate depreciation, or by its being brought back to
its earlier standard of face value, carried such widespread consequences
that the people should most certainly be consulted on it. It was not
fair to them to take such a step without their willing co-operation. Yet
he admits fully that, though this is the wiser and juster way of acting,
there was no absolute need for so doing, since all possession and all
property sprang from the King. And this last conclusion was advocated by
his rival, Philip de Meziers, whose advice Charles ultimately followed.
Philip taught that the king was sole judge of whatever was for public

But there was a further point in the same question which afforded matter
for an interesting discussion among the lawyers. Pope Innocent IV, who
had first been famous as a canonist, and retained as Pontiff his old
love for disputations of this kind, developed a theory of his own on the
relation between the right of the individual to possess and the right
of the State over that possession. He distinguished carefully between
two entirely different concepts, namely, the right and its exercise. The
first he admitted to be sacred and inviolable, because it sprang from
the very nature of man. It could not be disturbed or in any way
molested; the State had therefore no power to interfere with the right.
But he suggested that the exercise of that right, or, to use his actual
phrase, the "actions in accord with that right," rested on the basis of
civil, positive law, and could therefore be controlled by legal
decisions. The right was sacred, its exercise was purely conventional.
Thus every man has a right to property; he can never by any possible
means divest himself of it, for it is rooted in the depths of his being,
and supported by his human nature. But this right appears especially to
be something internal, intrinsic. For him to exercise it--that is to
say, to hold this land or that, or indeed any land at all--the State's
intervention must be secured. At least the State can control his action
in buying, selling, or otherwise obtaining it. His right cannot be
denied, but for reasons of social importance its exercise well may be.
Nor did this then appear as a merely unmeaning distinction; he would not
admit that a right which could not be exercised was hardly worth
consideration. And, in point of fact, the Pope's private theory found
very many supporters.

There were others, however, who judged it altogether too fantastical.
The most interesting of his opponents was a certain Antonio Roselli, a
very judiciously-minded civil lawyer, who goes very thoroughly into the
point at issue. He gives Innocent's views, and quotes what authority he
can find for them in the Digest and Decretals. But for himself he would
prefer to admit that the right to private property is not at all sacred
or natural in the sense of being inviolable. He willingly concedes to
the State the right to judge all claims of possession. This is the more
startling since ordinarily his views are extremely moderate, and
throughout the controversy between Pope and Emperor he succeeded in
steering a very careful, delicate course. To him, however, all rights to
property were purely civil and arguable only on principles of positive
law. There was no need, therefore, to discriminate between the right and
its exercise, for both equally could be controlled by the State. There
are evidences to show that he admitted the right of each man to the
support of his own life, and, therefore, to private property in the form
of actual food, &c., necessary for the immediate moment; but he
distinctly asserts as his own personal idea that "the prince could take
away my right to a thing, and any exercise of that right," adding only
that for this there must be some cause. The prince cannot arbitrarily
confiscate property; he must have some reasonable motive of sufficient
gravity to outweigh the social inconveniences which confiscation would
necessarily produce. Not every cause is a sufficient one, but those only
which concern "public liberty or utility." Hence he decides that the
Pope cannot alienate Church lands without some justifying reason, nor
hand them over to the prince unless there happens to be an urgent need,
springing from national circumstances. It does not follow, however, that
he wishes to make over to the State absolute right to individual
property under normal conditions. The individual has the sole dominion
over his own possessions; that dominion reverts to the State only in
some extreme instance. His treatise, therefore (Goldast, _De Monarchia_,
1611-1614, Hanover, p. 462, &c.), may be looked upon as summing up the
controversy as it then stood. The legal distinction suggested by
Innocent IV had been given up by the lawyers as insufficient. The
theories of Du Bois, Wycliff, Ockham, and the others had ceased to have
much significance, because they gave the royal power far too absolute a
jurisdiction over the possessions of its subjects. The feudal
contractual system, which these suggested reforms had intended to drive
out, had failed for entirely different reasons, and could evidently be
brought back only at the price of a complete and probably unsuccessful
disturbance of the social and economic organisation. The centralisation
which had risen on the ruins of the older local sovereignties and
immunities, had brought with it an emphasised recognition of the public
rights and duties of all subjects, and had at the same time confirmed
the individual in the ownership of his little property, and given him at
the last not a conditional, but an absolute possession. To safeguard
this, and to prevent it from becoming a block in public life, a factor
of discontent, the lawyers were engaged in framing an additional clause
which should give to the State an ultimate jurisdiction, and would
enable it to overrule any objections on the part of the individual to a
national policy or law. The suggested distinction that the word "right"
should be emptied of its deeper meaning, by refusing it the further
significance of "exercise," was too subtle and too legal to obtain much
public support. So that the lawyers were driven to admit that for a just
cause the very right itself could be set aside, and every private
possession (when public utility and liberty demanded it) confiscated or
transferred to another.

Even the right to compensation for such confiscation was with equal
cleverness explained away. For it was held that, when an individual had
lost his property through State action, and without his having done
anything to deserve it as a punishment, compensation could be claimed.
But whenever a whole people or nation was dispossessed by the State,
there was no such right at all to any indemnity.

Thus was the wholesale adoption of land-nationalism to be justified.
Thus could the State capture all private possessions without any fear of
being guilty of robbery. It was considered that it was only the
oppression of the individual and class spoliation which really
contravened the moral law.

The legal theories, therefore, which supplanted the old feudal concepts
were based on the extension of royal authority, and the establishment of
public rights. Individualistic possession was emphasised; yet the
simultaneous setting up of the absolute monarchies of the sixteenth
century really made their ultimate capture by the Socialist party more



It may seem strange to class social reforms under the wider heading of
Socialistic Theories, and the only justification for doing so is that
which we have already put forward in defence of the whole book; namely,
that the term "socialistic" has come to bear so broad an interpretation
as to include a great deal that does not strictly belong to it. And it
is only on the ground of their advocating State interference in the
furtherance of their reforms that the reformers here mentioned can be
spoken of as socialistic.

Of course there have been reformers in every age who came to bring to
society their own personal measures of relief. But in the Middle Ages
hardly a writer took pen in hand who did not note in the body politic
some illness, and suggest some remedy. Howsoever abstruse might be the
subject of the volume, there was almost sure to be a reference to
economic or social life. It was not an epoch of specialists such as is
ours. Each author composed treatises in almost every branch of learning.
The same professor, according to mediaeval notions, might lecture to-day
on Scripture, to-morrow on theology or philosophy, and the day after on
natural science. For them a university was a place where each student
learnt, and each professor taught, universal knowledge. Still from time
to time men came to the front with some definite social message to be
delivered to their own generation. Some were poets like Langland, some
strike-leaders like John Ball, some religious enthusiasts like John
Wycliff, some royal officials like Pierre du Bois.

This latter in his famous work addressed to King Edward I of England
(_De Recuperatione Sancte Terre_), has several most interesting and
refreshing chapters on the education of women. His bias is always
against religious orders, and, consequently, he favours the suppression
of almost every conventual establishment. Still, as these were at his
own date the only places where education could be considered to exist at
all, he had to elaborate for himself a plan for the proper instruction
of girls. First, of course, the nunneries must be confiscated by
Government. For him this was no act of injustice, since he regarded the
possessions of the whole clerical body as something outside the ordinary
laws of property. But having in this way cleared the ground of all
rivals, and captured some magnificent buildings, he can now go forward
in his scheme of education. He insists on having only lay-mistresses,
and prescribes the course of study which these are to teach. There
should be, he held, many lectures on literature, and music, and poetry,
and the arts and crafts of home life. Embroidery and home-management are
necessities for the woman's work in after years, so they must be
acquired in these schools. But education cannot limit itself to these
branches of useful knowledge. It must take the woman's intelligence and
develop that as skilfully as it does the man's. She is not inferior to
him in power of reason, but only in her want of its right cultivation.
Hence the new schools are to train her to equal man in all the arts of
peace. Such is the main point in his programme, which even now sounds
too progressive for the majority of our educational critics. He appeals
for State interference that the colleges may be endowed out of the
revenues of the religious houses, and that they may be supported in such
a fashion as would always keep them abreast of the growing science of
the times. And when, after a schooling of such a kind as this, the girls
go out into their life-work as wives and mothers, he would wish them a
more complete equality with their men-folk than custom then allowed. The
spirit of freedom which is felt working through all his papers makes him
the apostle of what would now be called the "new woman."

After him, there comes a lull in reforming ideas. But half a century
later occurs a very curious and sudden outburst of rebellion all over
Europe. From about the middle of the fourteenth century to the early
fifteenth there seemed to be an epidemic of severe social unrest. There
were at Paris, which has always been the nursery of revolutions, four
separate risings. Etienne Marcel, who, however, was rather a tribune of
the people than a revolutionary leader, came into prominence in 1355;
he was followed by the Jacquerie in 1358, by the Maillotins in 1382, and
the Cabochiens in 1411. In Rome we know of Rienzi in 1347, who
eventually became hardly more than a popular demagogue; in Florence
there was the outbreak of Ciompi in 1378; in Bohemia the excesses of
Taborites in 1409; in England the Peasant Revolt of 1381.

It is perfectly obvious that a series of social disturbances of this
nature could not leave the economic literature of the succeeding period
quite as placid as it had found it. We notice now that, putting away
questions of mere academic character, the thinkers and writers concern
themselves with the actual state of the people. Parliament has its
answer to the problem in a long list of statutes intended to muzzle the
turbulent and restless revolutionaries. But this could not satisfy men
who set their thought to study the lives and circumstances of their
fellow-citizens. Consequently, as a result, we can notice the rise of a
school of writers who interest themselves above all things in the
economic conditions of labour. Of this school the easiest exponent to
describe is Antonino of Florence, Archbishop and canonised saint. His
four great volumes on the exposition of the moral law are fascinating as
much for the quotations of other moralists which they contain, as for
the actual theories of the saint himself. For the Archbishop cites on
almost every page contemporary after contemporary who had had his say on
the same problems. He openly asserts that he has read widely, taken
notes of all his reading, has deliberately formed his opinions on the
judgments, reasoned or merely expressed, of his authors. To read his
books, then, is to realise that Antonino is summing up the whole
experience of his generation. Indeed he was particularly well placed for
one who wished for information. Florence, then at the height of its
renown under the brilliant despotism of Cosimo dei Medici, was the scene
where the great events of the life of Antonino took place. There he had
seen within the city walls, three Popes, a Patriarch of Constantinople,
the Emperors of East and West, and the most eminent men of both
civilisations. He had taken part in a General Council of the Church, and
knew thinkers as widely divergent as Giovanni Dominici and Æneas Sylvius
Piccolomini. He was, therefore, more likely than most to have heard
whatever theories were proposed by the various great political statesmen
of Europe, whether they were churchmen or lawyers. Consequently, his
schemes, as we might well expect, are startlingly advanced.

He begins by attacking the growing spirit of usury, and the resulting
idleness. Men were finding out that under the new conditions which
governed the money market it was possible to make a fortune without
having done a day's work. The sons of the aristocracy of Florence, which
was built up of merchant princes, and which had amassed its own fortunes
in honest trading, had been tempted by the bankers to put their wealth
out to interest, and to live on the surplus profit. The ease and
security with which this could be done made it a popular investment,
especially among the young men of fashion who came in, simply by
inheritance, for large sums of money. As a consequence Florence found
itself, for the first time in its history, beginning to possess a
wealthy class of men who had never themselves engaged in any profession.
The old reverence, therefore, which had always existed in the city for
the man who laboured in his art or guild, began to slacken. No longer
was there the same eagerness noticeable which used to boast openly that
its rewards consisted in the consciousness of work well done. Instead,
idleness became the badge of gentility, and trade a slur upon a man's
reputation. No city can long survive so listless and languid an ideal.
The Archbishop, therefore, denounced this new method of usurious
traffic, and hinted further that to it was due the fierce rebellion
which had for a while plunged Florence into the horrors of the
Jacquerie. Wealth, he taught, should not of itself breed wealth, but
only through the toil of honest labour, and that labour should be the
labour of oneself, not of another.

Then he proceeded to argue that as upon the husband lies the labour of
trade, the greater portion of his day must necessarily be passed outside
the circle of family life. The breadwinner can attend neither to works
of piety nor of charity in the way he should, and, consequently, to his
wife it must be left to supply for his defects. She must take his place
in the church, and amid the slums of the poor; she must for him and his
lift her hands in prayer, and dispense his superfluous wealth in
succouring the poverty-stricken. For the Archbishop will have none of
the soothing doctrine which the millionaire preaches to the mob. He
asserts that poverty is not a good thing; in itself it is an evil, and
can be considered to lead only accidentally to any good. When,
therefore, it assumes the form of destitution, every effort must be made
to banish it from the State. For if it were to become at all prevalent
in a nation, then would that people be on the pathway to its ruin. The
politicians should therefore make it the end of their endeavours--though
this, it may be, is an ideal which can never be fully brought to
realisation--to leave each man in a state of sufficiency. No one, for
whatever reason, should be allowed to become destitute. Even should it
be by his own fault that he were brought low, he must be provided for by
the State, which has, however, in these circumstances, at the same time,
the duty of punishing him.

But he remarks that the cause of poverty is more often the unjust rate
of wages. The competition even of those days made men beat each other
down in clamouring for work to be given them, and afforded to the
employers an opportunity of taking workers who willingly accepted an
inadequate scale of remuneration. This state of things he considered to
be unjustifiable and unjust. No one had any right to make profit out of
the wretchedness of the poor. Each human being had the duty of
supporting his own life, and this he could not do except by the hiring
of his own labour to another. That other, therefore, by the immutable
laws of justice, when he used the powers of his fellow-man, was obliged
in conscience to see that those powers could be fittingly sustained by
the commodity which he exchanged for them. That is, the employer was
bound to take note that his employees received such return for their
labour as should compensate them for his use of it. The payment promised
and given should be, in other words, what we would now speak of as a
"living wage." But further, above this mere margin, additional rewards
should be added according to the skill of the workman, or the dangerous
nature of his employment, or the number of his children. The wages also
should be paid promptly, without delay.

But it may sometimes happen that the labour which a man can contribute
is not of such a kind as will enable him to receive the fair
remuneration that should suffice for his bodily comfort. The saint is
thinking of boy-labour, and the case of those too enfeebled by age or
illness to work adequately, or perhaps at all. What is to be done for
them? Let the State look to it, is his reply. The community must, by the
law of its own existence, support all its members, and out of its
superfluous wealth must provide for its weaker citizens. Those,
therefore, who can labour harder than they need, or who already possess
more riches than suffice for them, are obliged by the natural law of
charity to give to those less favourably circumstanced than themselves.

St. Antonino does not, therefore, pretend to advocate any system of
rigid equality among men. There is bound to be, in his opinion, variety
among them, and from this variety comes indeed the harmony of the
universe. For some are born to rule, and others, by the feebleness of
their understanding or of their will, are fitted only to obey. The
workman and servant must faithfully discharge the duties of their trade
or service, be quick to receive a command, and reverent in their
obedience. And the masters, in their turn, must be forbearing in their
language, generous in their remuneration, and temperate in their
commands. It is their business to study the powers of each of those whom
they employ, and to measure out the work to each one according to the
capacity which is discoverable in him. When a faithful labourer has
become ill, the employer must himself tend and care for him, and be in
no hurry to send him to a hospital.

About the hospitals themselves he has his own ideas, or at least he has
picked out the sanest that he can find in the books and conversation of
people whom he has come across. He insists strongly that women should,
as matrons and nurses, manage those institutions which are solely for
the benefit of women; and even in those where men also are received, he
can see no incompatibility in their being administered by these same
capable directors. He much commends the custom of chemists in Florence
on Sundays, feast-days, and holidays of opening their dispensaries in
turn. So that even should all the other shops be closed, there would
always be one place open where medicines and drugs could be obtained in
an emergency.

The education of the citizens, too, is another work which the State must
consider. It is not something merely optional which is to be left to the
judgment of the parent. The Archbishop holds that its proper
organisation is the duty of the prince. Education, in his eyes, means
that the children must be taught the knowledge of God, of letters, and
of the arts and crafts they are to pursue in after life.

Again, he has thought out the theory of taxation. He admits its
necessity. The State is obliged to perform certain duties for the
community. It is obliged, for example, to make its roads fit for
travelling, and so render them passable for the transfer of merchandise.
It is bound to clear away all brigandage, highway robbery, and the like,
for were this not done, no merchant would venture out through that
State's territory, and its people would accordingly suffer.

Hence, again, he deduces the need for some sort of army, so that the
goods of the citizens may be secured against the invader, for without
this security there would be no stimulus to trade. Bridges must be
built, and fords kept in repair. Since, therefore, the State is obliged
to incur expenses in order to attain these objects, the State has the
right, and indeed the duty, to order it so that the community shall pay
for the benefits which it is to receive. Hence follows taxation.

But he sees at once that this power of demanding forced contributions
from wealthy members of society needs safeguarding against abuse. Thus
he is careful to insist that taxation can be valid only when it is
levied by public authority, else it becomes sheer brigandage. No less is
it to be reprobated when ordered indeed by public authority, but not
used for public benefit. Thus, should it happen that a prince or other
ruler of a State extorted money from his subjects on pretence of keeping
the roads in good order, or similar works for the advantage of the
community, and yet neglected to put the contributions of his people to
this use, he would be defrauding the public, and guilty of treason
against his country. So, too, to lay heavier burdens on his subjects
than they could bear, or to graduate the scale in such a fashion as to
weigh more heavily on one class than another, would be, in the ruler, an
aggravated form of theft. Taxation must therefore be decreed by public
authority, and be arranged according to some reasonable measure, and
rest on the motive of benefiting the social organisation.

The citizens therefore who are elected to settle the incidence of
taxation must be careful to take account of the income of each man, and
so manage that on no one should the burden be too oppressive. He
suggests himself the percentage of one pound per hundred. Nor, again,
must there be any deliberate attempt to penalise political opponents, or
to make use of taxation in order to avenge class-oppression. Were this
to be done, the citizens so acting would be bound to make restitution to
the persons whom they had thus injured.

Then St. Antonino takes the case of those who make a false declaration
of their income. These, too, he convicts of injustice, and requires of
them that they also should make restitution, but to the State. An
exception to this, however, he allows. For if it happens to be the
custom for each to make a declaration of income which is obviously below
the real amount, then simply because all do it and all are known to do
it, there is no obligation for the individual to act differently from
his neighbours. It is not injustice, for the law evidently recognises
the practice. And were he, on the other hand, to announce his full
yearly wage of earnings, he would allow himself to be taxed beyond the
proper measure of value. But to refuse to pay, or to elude by some
subterfuge the just contribution which a man owes of his wealth to the
easing of the public burdens, is in the eyes of the Archbishop a crime
against the State. It would be an act of injustice, of theft, all the
more heinous in that, as he declares with a flash of the energy of
Rousseau, the "common good is something almost divine."

We have dwelt rather at length on the schemes of this one economist, and
may seem, therefore, to have overlooked the writings of others equally
full of interest. But the reason has been because this Florentine
moralist does stand so perfectly for a whole school. He has read
omnivorously, and has but selected most of his thoughts. He compares
himself, indeed, in one passage of these volumes, to the laborious ant,
"that tiny insect which wanders here and there, and gathers together
what it thinks to be of use to its community." He represents a whole
school, and represents it at its best, for there is no extreme dogmatism
in him, no arguing from grounds that are purely arbitrary, or from _a
priori_ principles. It is his knowledge of the people among whom he had
laboured so long which fits him to speak of the real sufferings of the
poor. But experience requires for its being effectually put to the best
advantage, that it should be wielded by one whose judgment is sober and
careful. Now, St. Antonino was known in his own day as Antonino the
Counsellor; and his justly-balanced decision, his delicately-poised
advice, the straightness of his insight, are noticeable in the masterly
way in which he sums up all the best that earlier and contemporary
writers had devised in the domain of social economics.

There is, just at the close of the period with which this book deals, a
rising school of reformers who can be grouped round More's _Utopia_.
Some foreshadowed him, and others continued his speculations. Men like
Harrington in his _Oceana_, and Milton in his _Areopagitica_, really
belong to the same band; but life for them had changed very greatly, and
already become something far more complex than the earlier writers had
had to consider. There seemed no possibility of reforming it by the
simple justice which St. Antonino and his fellows judged to be
sufficient to set things back again as they had been in the Golden Age.
The new writers are rather political than social. For them, as for the
Greeks, it is the constitution which must be repaired. Whereas the
mediaeval socialists thought, as St. Thomas indeed never wearied of
repeating, that unrest and discontent would continue under any form of
government whatever. The more each city changed its constitution, the
more it remained the same. Florence, whether under a republic or a
despotism, was equally happy and equally sad. For it was the spirit of
government alone which, in the eyes of the scholastic social writers,
made the State what it happened to be.

In this the modern sociologist of to-day finds himself more akin with
the mediaeval thinkers than with the idealists of the parliamentary era
in England, or of the Revolution in France. These fixed their hopes on
definite organisations of government, and on the exact balance of
executive and legislative powers. But for Scotus, and Wycliff, and St.
Antonino, the cause of the evil is far deeper and more personal. Not in
any form of the constitution, nor in any division of ruling authority,
nor in its union under a firm despot, nor in the divine right of kings,
or nobles, or people, was security to be found, or the well-ordering of
the nation. But peace and rest from faction could be achieved with
certainty only on the conditions of strict justice between man and man,
on the observance of God's commandments.



Any description of mediaeval socialistic ideals which contained no
reference to mediaeval notions of almsgiving would not be complete.
Almsgiving was for them a necessary corollary to their theories of
private possession. In the passage already quoted from St. Thomas
Aquinas (p. 45), wherein he sets forth the theological aspect of
property, he makes use of a broad distinction between what he calls "the
power of procuring and dispensing" exterior things and "the use of
them." We have already at some length tried to show what economists then
meant by this first "power." Now we must establish the significance of
what they intended by the second. And to do this the more clearly it
will be as well to repeat the words in which St. Thomas briefly notes
it: "The other office which is man's concerning exterior things is the
use of them; and with regard to this a man ought not to hold exterior
things as his own, but as common to all, that he may portion them out
readily to others in time of need."

In this sentence is summed up the whole mediaeval concept of the law of
almsdeeds. Private property is allowed--is, in fact, necessary for human
life--but on certain conditions. These imply that the possession of
property belongs to the individual, but also that the use of it is not
limited to him. The property is private, the use should be common.
Indeed, it is only this common enjoyment which at all justifies private
possession. It was as obvious then as now that there were inequalities
in life, that one man was born to ease or wealth, or a great name,
whereas another came into existence without any of these advantages,
perhaps even hampered by positive disadvantages. Henry of Langenstein
(1325-1397) in his famous _Tractatus de Contractibus_ (published among
the works of Gerson at Cologne, 1484, tom. iv. fol. 188), draws out this
variety of fortune and misfortune in a very detailed fashion, and puts
before his reader example after example of what they were then likely to
have seen. But all the while he has his reason for so doing. He
acknowledges the fact, and proceeds from it to build up his own
explanation of it. The world is filled with all these men in their
differing circumstances. Now, to make life possible for them, he asserts
that private property is necessary. He is very energetic in his
insistence upon that point. Without private property he thinks that
there will be continual strife in which might, and not right, will have
the greater probability of success. But simultaneously, and as a
corrective to the evils which private property of itself would cause
there should be added to it the condition of common use. That is to say,
that although I own what is mine, yet I should put no obstacle in the
way of its reasonable use by others. This is, of course, really the
ideal of Aristotle in his book of _Politics_, when he makes his reply to
Plato's communism. In Plato's judgment, the republic should be governed
in the reverse way, _Common property and private use_; he would really
make this, which is a feature of monastic life, compulsory on all. But
Aristotle, looking out on the world, an observer of human nature, a
student of the human heart, sets up as more feasible, more practical,
the phrase which the Middle Ages repeat, _Private property and common
use_. The economics of a religious house are hardly of such a kind,
thought the mediaevalists, as to suit the ways and fancies of this
workaday world.

But the Middle Ages do not simply repeat, they Christianise Aristotle.
They are dominated by his categories of thought, but they perfect them
in the light of the New Dispensation. Faith is added to politics, love
of the brotherhood is made to extend the mere brutality of the
economists' teaching. In "common use" they find the philosophic name for
"almsdeeds." "A man ought not to hold exterior things as his own, but as
common to all, that he may portion them out readily to others in time of
need." This sentence, an almost literal translation from the _Book of
Politics_, takes on a fuller meaning and is softened by the
unselfishness of Christ when it is found in the _Summa Theologica_ of

Let us take boldly the passage from St. Thomas in which he lays down the
law of almsgiving.

(2_a_, 2_ae_, 32, 5.) "Since love of one's neighbour is commanded us, it
follows that everything without which that love cannot be preserved, is
also commanded us. But it is essential to the love of one's neighbour,
not merely to wish him well, but to act well towards him; as says St.
John (1 Ep. 3), 'Let us not love in word nor in tongue, but in deed and
in truth.' But to wish and to act well towards anyone implies that we
should succour him when he is in need, and this is done by almsgiving.
Hence almsgiving is a matter of precept. But because precepts are given
in things that concern virtuous living, the almsgiving here referred to
must be of such a kind as shall promote virtuous living. That is to say,
it must be consonant with right reason; and this in turn implies a
twofold consideration, namely, from the point of view of the giver, and
from that of the receiver. As regards the giver, it must be noted that
what is given should not be necessary to him, as says St. Luke 'That
which is superfluous, give in alms.' And by 'not necessary' I mean not
only to himself (_i.e._ what is over and above his individual needs),
but to those who depend on him. For a man must first provide for himself
and those of whom he has the care, and can then succour such of the rest
as are necessitous--that is, such as are without what their personal
needs entail. For so, too, nature provides that nutrition should be
communicated first to the body, and only secondly to that which is to be
begotten of it. As regards the receiver, it is required that he should
really be in need, else there is no reason for alms being given him. But
since it is impossible for one man to succour all who are in need, he is
only under obligation to help such as cannot otherwise be provided for.
For in this case the words of Ambrose become applicable: 'Feed them
that are dying of starvation, else shall you be held their murderer.'
Hence it is a matter of precept to give alms to whosoever is in extreme
necessity. But in other cases (namely, where the necessity is not
extreme) almsgiving is simply a counsel, and not a command."

(_Ad_ 2_m._) "Temporal goods which are given a man by God are his as
regards their possession, but as regards their use, if they should be
superfluous to him, they belong also to others who may be provided for
out of them. Hence St. Basil says: 'If you admit that God gave these
temporal goods to you, is God unjust in thus unequally distributing His
favours? Why should you abound, and another be forced to beg, unless it
is intended thereby that you should merit by your generosity, and he by
his patience? For it is the bread of the starving that you cling to; it
is the clothes of the naked that hang locked in your wardrobe; it is the
shoes of the barefooted that are ranged in your room; it is the silver
of the needy that you hoard. For you are injuring whoever is in want.'
And Ambrose repeats the same thing."

Here it will be noticed that we find the real meaning of those words
about a man's duty of portioning out readily to another's use what
belongs to himself. It is the correlative to the right to private

But a second quotation must be made from another passage closely
following on the preceding:

"There is a time when to withhold alms is to commit mortal sin. Namely,
when on the part of the receiver there is evident and urgent necessity,
and he does not seem likely to be provided for otherwise, and when on
the part of the giver he has superfluities of which he has not any
probable immediate need. Nor should the future be in question, for this
would be looking to the morrow, which the Master has forbidden (Matt.

(_Ibid._, 32, 6.) "But 'superfluous' and 'necessity' are to be
interpreted according to their most probable and generally accepted
meaning. 'Necessary' has two meanings. First, it implies something
without which a thing cannot exist. Interpreted in this sense, a man has
no business to give alms out of what is necessary to him; for example,
if a man has only enough wherewith to feed himself and his sons or
others dependent on him. For to give alms out of this would be to
deprive himself and his of very life, unless it were indeed for the sake
of prolonging the life of someone of extreme importance to Church and
State. In that case it might be praiseworthy to expose his life and the
lives of others to grave risk, for the common good is to be preferred to
our own private interests. Secondly, 'necessary' may mean that without
which a person cannot be considered to uphold becomingly his proper
station, and that of those dependent on him. The exact measure of this
necessity cannot be very precisely determined, as to how far things
added may be beyond the necessity of his station, or things taken away
be below it. To give alms, therefore, out of these is a matter not of
precept, but of counsel. For it would not be right to give alms out of
these, so as to help others, and thereby be rendered unable to fulfil
the obligations of his state of life. For no one should live
unbecomingly. Three exceptions, however, should be made. First, when a
man wishes to change his state of life. Thus it would be an act of
perfect virtue if a man, for the purpose of entering a religious order,
distributed to the poor for Christ's sake all that he possessed.
Secondly, when a man gives alms out of what is necessary for his state
of life, and yet does so knowing that they can very easily be supplied
to him again without much personal inconvenience. Thirdly, when some
private person, still more when the State itself, is in the gravest
need. In these cases it would be most praiseworthy for a man to give
what seemingly was required for the upkeep of his station in life in
order to provide against some far greater need."

From these passages it will be possible to construct the theory in vogue
during the whole of the Middle Ages. The landholder was considered to
possess his property on a system of feudal tenure, and to be obliged
thereby to certain acts of suit and service to his immediate lord, or
eventually to the King. But besides these burdens which the
responsibility of possession entailed, there were others incumbent on
him, because of his brotherhood with all Christian folk. He owed a debt,
not merely to his superiors, but also to his equals. Such was the
interpretation of Christ's commandment which the mediaeval theologians
adopted. With one voice they declare that to give away to the needy what
is superfluous is no act of charity, but of justice. St. Jerome's words
were often quoted: "If thou hast more than is necessary for thy food and
clothing, give that away, and consider that in thus acting thou art but
paying a debt" (Epist. 50 ad Edilia q. i.); and those others of St.
Augustine, "When superfluities are retained, it is the property of
others which is retained" (in Psalm 147). These and like sayings of the
Fathers constitute the texts on which the moral economic doctrine of
what is called the Scholastic School is based. Albertus Magnus (vol. iv.
in Sent. 4, 14, p. 277, Lyons, 1651) puts to himself the question
whether to give alms is a matter of justice or of charity, and the
answer which he makes is compressed finally into this sentence: "For a
man to give out of his superfluities is a mere act of justice, because
he is rather the steward of them for the poor than the owner." St.
Thomas Aquinas is equally explicit, as another short sentence shall show
(2_a_, 2_ae_, 66, 2, _ad_ 3_m_): "When Ambrose says 'Let no one call his
own that which is common property,' he is referring to the use of
property. Hence he adds: 'Whatever a man possesses above what is
necessary for his sufficient comfort, he holds by violence.'" And the
same view could be backed by quotations from Henry of Ghent, Duns
Scotus, St. Bonaventure, the sermons of Wycliff, and almost every writer
of any consequence in that age.

Perhaps to us this decided tone may appear remarkable, and even
ill-considered. But it is evident that the whole trouble lies in the
precise meaning to be attached to the expressions "superfluous" and
"needy." And here, where we feel most of all the need of guidance, it
must be confessed that few authors venture to speak with much
definiteness. The instance, indeed, of a man placed in extreme
necessity, all quote and explain in nearly identical language. Should
anyone be reduced to these last circumstances, so as to be without means
of subsistence or sufficient wealth to acquire them, he may, in fact
must, take from anywhere whatever suffices for his immediate
requirements. If he begs for the necessities of life, they cannot be
withheld from him. Nor is the expression "necessities of life" to be
interpreted too nicely. Says Albertus Magnus: "I mean by necessary not
that without which he cannot live, but that also without which he cannot
maintain his household, or exercise the duties proper to his condition"
(_loc. cit._, art. 16, p. 280). This is a very generous interpretation
of the phrase, but it is the one pretty generally given by all the chief
writers of that period. Of course they saw at once that there were
practical difficulties in the way of such a manner of acting. How was it
possible to determine whether such a one was in real need or not? And
the only answer given was that, if it was evident that a man was so
placed, there could be no option about giving; almsdeeds then became of
precept. But that, if there were no convincing signs of absolute need,
then the obligation ceased, and almsgiving, from a command, became a

In an instance of this extreme nature it is not difficult to decide, but
the matter becomes perilously complicated when an attempt is made to
gauge the relative importance of "need" and "superfluity" in concrete
cases. How much "need" must first be endured before a man has a just
claim on another's superfluity? By what standard are "superfluities"
themselves to be judged? For it is obvious that when the need among a
whole population is general, things possessed by the richer classes,
which in normal circumstances might not have been considered luxuries,
instantly become such. However then the words are taken, however
strictly or laxly interpreted, it must always be remembered that the
terms used by the Scholastics do not really solve the problem. They
suggest standards, but do not define them, give names, but cannot tell
us their precise meaning.

Should we say, then, that in this way they had failed? It is not in
place in a book of this kind to sit in judgment on the various theories
quoted, and test them to see how far they hold good, or to what extent
they should be disregarded, for it is the bare recital of mere historic
views which can be here considered. The object has been simply to tell
what systems were thought out and held, without attempting to apprize
them or measure their value, or point out how far they are applicable to
modern times. But in this affair of almsdeeds it is perhaps well to note
that the Scholastics could make this much defence of their vagueness. In
cases of this kind, they might say, we are face to face with human
nature, not as an abstract thing, but in its concrete personal
existence. The circumstances must therefore differ in each single
instance. General laws can be laid down, but only on the distinct
understanding that they are mere principles of direction--in other
words, that they are nothing more than general laws. The Scholastics,
the mediaeval writers of every school, except a few of that Manichean
brood of sects, admitted the necessity of almsgiving. They looked on it
from a moral point of view as a high virtue, and from an economic
standpoint as a correlative to their individualistic ideas on private
property. The one without the other would be unjust. Alone, they would
be unworkable; together, mutually independent, they would make the State
a fair and perfect thing.

But to fix the exact proportion between the two terms, they held to be
the duty of the individual in each case that came to his notice. To give
out of a man's superfluities to the needy was, they held, undoubtedly a
bounden duty. But they could make no attempt to apprize in definite
language what in the receiver was meant by need, and in the giver by
superfluity. They made no pretence to do this, and thereby showed their
wisdom, for obviously the thing cannot be done. Yet we must note, last
of all, that they drew up a list of principles which shall here be set
down, because they sum up in a few sentences the wit of mediaeval
economists, their spirit of orderly arrangement, and their unanimous
opinion on man's moral obligations.

     (I) A man is obliged to help another in his extreme need, even at
     the risk of grave inconvenience to himself.

     (II) A man is obliged to help another who, though not in extreme
     need, is yet in considerable distress, but not at the risk of grave
     inconvenience to himself.

     (III) A man is not obliged to help another whose necessity is
     slight, even though the risk to himself should be quite trifling.

In other words, the need of his fellow must be adjusted against the
inconvenience to himself. Where the need of the one is great, the
inconvenience to the other must at least be as great, if it is to excuse
him from the just debt of his alms. His possession of superfluities does
not compel him to part with them unless there is some real want which
they can be expected to supply. In fine, the mediaevalists would contend
that almsgiving, to be necessary, implies two conditions, both

     (_a_) That the giver should possess superfluities.

     (_b_) That the receiver should be in need.

Where both these suppositions are fulfilled, the duty of almsgiving
becomes a matter not of charity, but of justice.


Among the original works by mediaeval writers on economic subjects,
which can be found in most of the greater libraries in England, we would
place the following:

     _De Recuperatione Terre Sancte_, by Pierre du Bois. Edited by C. V.
     Langlois in Paris. 1891.

     _Commentarium in Politicos Aristotelis_, by Albertus Magnus. Vol.
     iv. Lyons. 1651.

     _Summa Theologica_, of St. Thomas Aquinas. This is being translated
     by the English Dominicans, published by Washborne. London. 1911.
     But the parts that deal with Aquinas' theories of property, &c.,
     have not yet been published.

     _De Regimine Principio_, probably by Ptolomeo de Lucca. It will be
     found printed among the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote the
     first chapters. The portion here to be consulted is in book iv.

     _Tractatus de Civili Dominio_, by Wycliff, published in four vols.
     in London. 1885-1904.

     _Unprinted Works of John Wycliff_, edited at Oxford in three vols.

     _Fasciculus Zizaniorum_ and the _Chronicon Angliae_, both edited in
     the Roll Series, help in elucidating the exact meaning of Wycliff,
     and his relation to the insurgents of 1381.

     _Monarchia_, edited by Goldast of Hanover in 1611, gives a
     collection of fifteenth-century writers, including Ockham, Cesena,
     Roselli, &c.

     _Summa Moralis_, by St. Antonino of Florence, contains a great deal
     of economic moralising. But the whole four volumes (Verona, 1740)
     must be searched for it.

Among modern books which can be consulted with profit are:--

     _Illustrations of the Mediaeval Thought_, by Reginald Lane Poole.
     1884. London.

     _Political Theories of the Middle Ages_, by F. W. Maitland. 1900.

     _History of Mediaeval Political Thought_, by A. J. Carlyle. 1903.
     &c. Oxford (unfinished).

     _History of English Law_, by Pollock and Maitland. 1898. Cambridge.

     _Introduction to English Economic History_, by W. J. Ashley. 1892.

     _Economie Politique au Moyen Age_, by V. Brandts. 1895. Louvain.

     _La Propriété après St. Thomas_, by Mgr. Deploige, Revue
     Neo-Scholastique. 1895, 1896. Louvain.

     _History of Socialism_, by Thomas Kirkup. 1909. London.

     _Great Revolt of 1381_, by C. W. C. Oman. 1906. Oxford.

     _Lollardy and the Reformation_, by Gairdner. 1908-1911 (three
     vols.) London.

     _England in the Age of Wycliff_, by G. M. Trevelyan. 1909. London.

     _Leaders of the People_, by J. Clayton. 1910. London. A sympathetic
     account of Ball, Cade, &c.

     _Social Organisation_, by G. Unwin. 1906. Oxford.

     _Outlines of Economic History of England_, by H. O. Meredith. 1908.

     _Mutual Aid in a Mediaeval City_, by Prince Kropotkin (Nineteenth
     Century Review. Vol. xxxvi. p. 198).


Albertus Magnus, 51, 86, 87
Albigensians, 29
Almsgiving, 80
Ambrose, St., 10, 87
Antonino, St., 50, 52, 71, 80
Aquinas, St. Thomas, 30, 42, 51, 60, 79, 80, 83
Aristotle, 35, 42, 51, 64, 82
Augustine, St., 10, 86
Authority, 8, 10

Ball, John, 32, 38
Bavaria, Louis of, 32, 63
Beghards, 32
Beguins, 32
Benedict, St., 13
Black Death, 22
Bois, Pierre du, 62, 69
Bonaventure, St., 87
Bourbon, Etienne de, 29
Bracton, 59

Cabochiens, 71
Cesena, Michael de, 32
Ciompi, 25, 71
Communism, 29

Destitution, 71
Dominicans, 30, 39, 47

Education, 76

Fall, 9
Fathers of Church, 8
Feudalism, 15, 56
Francis, St., 31
Franciscans, 30, 31, 39
Friars, 39
Froissart, 33

Ghent, Henry of, 87

Harrington, 79
Hildebrand, 10
Hospitals, 75

Innocent IV, 64

Jacquerie, 25, 71
Jerome, St., 86
John XXII, 32, 63

King, 15, 56

Labourers, landless, 19, 27
Langenstein, Henry of, 81
Langland, 27, 39
Law of Nations, 11
Law of Nature, 11
Lawyers, 55
Legalists, 11
Lucca, Ptolomeo de, 51

Maillotins, 71
Manicheans, 29
Manor, 71
Marcel, Etienne, 71
Meziers, Philip de, 64
Milton, 79
Moerbeke, 42
Monasticism, 13
More, Sir Thomas, 79

Necessities, 83

Ockham, 32, 49, 63
Oresme, Nichole, 64

Parliament, 43
Peasant Revolt, 25, 32, 71
Plato, 35, 52, 82
_Praetor Peregrinus_, 11
_Praetor Urbanus_, 11
Property, 10, 12, 29, 41, 80

Rienzi, 71
Ripa, John de, 50
Roselli, Antonio, 65

Schoolmen, 41, 88
Scotus, Duns, 49, 80, 87
Slavery, 10
Socialism, 6, 16, 60
Straw, Jack, 34, 39
Superfluities, 83

Taborites, 71
Taxation, 76
Tyler, Wat, 34

Vaudois, 29

Wages, 23, 25, 74
Women, 70, 73
Wycliff, 35, 49, 60, 62, 80, 87

Edinburgh & London




The volumes issued (Spring 1913) are marked with an asterisk


  *1. The Foundations of Science     By W. C. D. Whetham, F.R.S.
  *2. Embryology--The Beginnings     By Prof. Gerald Leighton, M.D.
        of Life
   3. Biology--The Science of Life   By Prof. W. D. Henderson, M.A.
  *4. Zoology: The Study of Animal   By Prof. E. W. MacBride, F.R.S.
  *5. Botany; The Modern Study of    By M. C. Stopes, D.Sc., Ph.D.
   6. Bacteriology                   By W. E. Carnegie Dickson, M.D.
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   9. Darwin                         By Prof. W. Garstang, M.A., D.Sc.
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 *12. Organic Chemistry              By Prof. J. B. Cohen, B.Sc., F.R.S.
 *13. The Principles of Electricity  By Norman R. Campbell, M.A.
 *14. Radiation                      By P. Phillips, D.Sc.
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 *17. Weather-Science                By R. G. K. Lempfert, M.A.
 *18. Hypnotism                      By Alice Hutchison, M.D.
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 *96. Gardening                      By A. Cecil Bartlett.
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 *98. Atlas of the World             By J. Bartholomew, F.R.G.S.
*110. British Birds                  By F. B. Kirkman, B.A.


 25. The Meaning of Philosophy      By T. Loveday, M.A.
*26. Henri Bergson                  By H. Wildon Carr.
*27. Psychology                     By H. J. Watt, M.A., Ph.D.
*28. Ethics                         By Canon Rashdall, D. Litt., F.B.A.
 29. Kant's Philosophy              By A. D. Lindsay, M.A.
 30. The Teaching of Plato          By A. D. Lindsay, M.A.
*67. Aristotle                      By Prof. A. E. Taylor, M.A., F.B.A.
*68. Nietzsche                      By M. A. Mügge, Ph.D.
*69. Eucken                         By A. J. Jones, M.A., B.Sc., Ph.D.
 70. The Experimental Psychology    By C. W. Valentine, B.A.
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*71. The Problem of Truth           By H. Wildon Carr.
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       Philosophy of Idealism
 31. Buddhism                       By Prof. T. W. Rhys Davids, F.B.A.
*32. Roman Catholicism              By H. B. Coxon.
*33. The Oxford Movement            By Wilfrid P. Ward.
*34. The Bible in the Light of the {By Rev. W. F. Adeney, M.A., and
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 35. Cardinal Newman                By Wilfrid Meynell.
*72. The Church of England          By Rev. Canon Masterman.
 73. Anglo-Catholicism              By A. E. Manning Foster.
*74. The Free Churches              By Rev. Edward Shillito, M.A.
*75. Judaism                        By Ephraim Levine, B.A.
*76. Theosophy                      By Annie Besant.


 *36. The Growth of Freedom         By H. W. Nevinson.
  37. Bismarck                      By Prof. F. M. Powicke, M.A.
 *38. Oliver Cromwell               By Hilda Johnstone, M.A.
 *39. Mary Queen of Scots           By E. O'Neill, M.A.
 *40. Cecil Rhodes                  By Ian Colvin.
 *41. Julius Cæsar                  By Hilary Hardinge.

        History of England--

  42. England in the Making         By Prof. F. J. C. Hearnshaw, LL.D.
 *43. England in the Middle Ages    By E. O'Neill, M.A.
  44. The Monarchy and the People   By W. T. Waugh, M.A.
  45. The Industrial Revolution     By A. Jones, M.A.
  46. Empire and Democracy          By G. S. Veitch, M.A.
 *61. Home Rule                     By L. G. Redmond Howard.
  77. Nelson                        By H. W. Wilson.
 *78. Wellington and Waterloo       By Major G. W. Redway.
 100. A History of Greece           By E. Fearenside, B.A.
 101. Luther and the Reformation    By L. D. Agate, M.A.
 102. The Discovery of the          By F. B. Kirkman, B.A.
        New World
*103. Turkey and the Eastern        By John Macdonald.
 104. A History of Architecture     By Mrs. Arthur Bell.


 *47. Women's Suffrage              By M. G. Fawcett, LL.D.
  48. The Working of the British    By Prof. Ramsay Muir, M.A.
        System of Government to-day
  49. An Introduction to Economic   By Prof. H. O. Meredith, M.A.
  50. Socialism                     By F. B. Kirkman, B.A.
 *79. Mediaeval Socialism           By Rev. B. Jarrett, O.P., M.A.
 *80. Syndicalism                   By J. H. Harley, M.A.
  81. Labour and Wages              By H. M. Hallsworth, M.A., B.Sc.
 *82. Co-operation                  By Joseph Clayton.
 *83. Insurance as Investment       By W. A. Robertson, F.F.A.
 *92. The Training of the Child     By G. Spiller.
*105. Trade Unions                  By Joseph Clayton.
*106. Everyday Law                  By J. J. Adams.


 *51. Shakespeare                   By Prof. C. H. Herford, Litt.D.
 *52. Wordsworth                    By Rosaline Masson.
 *53. Pure Gold--A Choice of        By H. C. O'Neill.
        Lyrics and Sonnets
 *54. Francis Bacon                 By Prof. A. R. Skemp, M.A.
 *55. The Brontës                   By Flora Masson.
 *56. Carlyle                       By the Rev. L. MacLean Watt.
 *57. Dante                         By A. G. Ferrers Howell.
  58. Ruskin                        By A. Blyth Webster, M.A.
  59. Common Faults in Writing      By Prof. A. R. Skemp, M.A.
 *60. A Dictionary of Synonyms.     By Austin K. Gray, B.A.
  84. Classical Dictionary          By A. E. Stirling.
 *85. History of English            By A. Compton-Rickett.
  86. Browning                      By Prof. A. R. Skemp, M.A.
 *87. Charles Lamb                  By Flora Masson.
  88. Goethe                        By Prof. C. H. Herford, Litt.D.
  89. Balzac                        By Frank Harris.
  90. Rousseau                      By H. Sacher.
  91. Ibsen                         By Hilary Hardinge.
 *93. Tennyson                      By Aaron Watson.
 107. R. L. Stevenson               By Rosaline Masson.
*108. Shelley                       By Sydney Waterlow, M.A.
 109. William Morris                By A. Blyth Webster, M.A.

London and Edinburgh: T. C. & E. C. Jack

New York: Dodge Publishing Co.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mediaeval Socialism" ***

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