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power of the monarchy remained weak, as compared with the power of the aristocracy. But when that day had passed, and the crown could afford, or thought it could afford, to take another course, another course was taken. The elements of self-government which had been ceded in a time of weakness, to those larger or smaller communities scattered over the land, were all withdrawn, though by little and little, as strength came into the place of weakness. The honest burghers, we may believe, little thought that the time would come when the crown would rise as much above law in its dealings with the municipalities of France, as the feudal nobles of the middle age had ever been.

Thus exaggeration again wrought its mischiefs. Good municipal government may be made eminently subservient to good national government. In the natural course of things, the liberty of towns should be tributary to the liberty of states. But the first of these forms of liberty is not identical with the second, and the history of France shows that the two do not necessarily go together.

Failure in this case appears to have resulted from two causes -from the fact, that the burgher's passion for liberty rarely extended beyond the liberty affecting him as a burgess; and from the circumstance, that even this measure of liberty was often realized by means of insurrection and crime, on such a scale as furnished to the partizans of arbitrary rule the most plausible pretexts for curbing and suppressing the popular power, whenever the season came in which such a course could be taken towards it with safety. It is beyond doubt, that the revolution which dates from 1789, was, in most of its features, only the enacting anew of such scenes as had taken place, not only in the history of Paris, but in many of the municipalities of France far back in the middle ages.

Among the places which became conspicuous in the history of insurrection in those times was Laon, a city second only to Paris in respect to wealth and population. Laon was a bishopric, and the city itself was a fief held by the bishop. The prelate who possessed the see in 1108 was one Naudre, a man who had distinguished himself in the service of our Henry L., and who, after his elevation to his sacred office, frequently made his appearance in this country, to enrich himself with such spoils as might be gathered up among the conquered Saxons. Even at home, this right reverend personage was as little observant of the episcopal proprieties as abroad. It was not enough that he should hunt and make war after the most feudal and boisterous fashion, he was notorious as a freebooter. Still more was he



feared as being the owner of dungeons, where a certain negro, seen about his castle, decorated, in true oriental and crusading style, with turban and bells, was reported as ever ready to do his bidding in torturing or executing his victims. It came to pass, however, during one of the visits with which this worthy favoured our country, that the success wherewith oppressions like his had been resisted in other cities, came to the memory of the citizens of Laon so forcibly, that the temptation to give themselves to an experiment of that description proved to be too great to be withstood. The fire of insurrection once kindled, the effect was such as might have been expected. The citizens were triumphant, and after the manner of the brave burghers in other cities, the people of Laon devised for themselves a constitution, which vested them with all the rights of self-government, and all parties were bound by oath to an observance of the new order of things. Naudre, on his return, manifested no little displeasure; but a large bribe sufficed to obtain for the people a confirmation of the liberties they had asserted. To this confirmation, not only the bishop and nobles, but the king, Louis le Gros, were assenting.

Matters, however, did not so end. The sum thus obtained by the bishop was soon disbursed; his loss, and the loss of his nobles, was felt to be great and humiliating; and, for the consideration of 700 livres, the king was induced to revoke his sanction of the charter, whereupon the bishop declared it null. But Naudre had overrated his strength. His castle was besieged; his church was occupied by armed men, and with military stores; and his defenders were overpowered and massacred. One man, named Theigaud, on whom, from his savage appearance and manners, the bishop had conferred the name of the "master-wolf," became a man of mark in these commotions. The bishop, finding resistance hopeless, endeavoured to conceal himself in an empty wine-cask in one of his cellars. But Theigaud discovered him, drew him out by the hair of the head, and was heard to say as he so did, "So, Master Wolf, and this is your den!" Naudre was forced at once into the street, was hurried along there from place to place by the mob, amidst blows, and the lowest insults, covered with filth. At length, a stroke upon the skull from an axe put an end to his existence. Theigaud stripped and mutilated his body. In that state it lay exposed a whole day, the people as they passed casting stones or mud upon it, with taunts and execrations.

But the end of the doings of this nature at Laon was not yet. During sixteen years the city was engaged in war as the consequence of this memorable outbreak; and if the citizens gained

their object at last, by extorting from Louis le Gros a renewed confirmation of their charter, it was not until their city had been brought to the verge of ruin, and the place and its neighbourhood had become the scenes of atrocities too revolting for description. The insurrectionary process was not so costly in all places as at Laon, but in all places its characteristics were the


Nor is the history of the States-General without its scenes of this nature. The violence of the wrongs inflicted on the people were often resented in modes no less violent, the struggle being naturally prolonged by the fact, that the faults on either side were so nearly equal. The meeting of the States-General began in French history, as we have stated, in the first year of the fourteenth century. Philip le Bel, in convening the assembly of that year, regarded it, no doubt, as a temporary expedient. The pope had interfered with his rights as a sovereign within his own dominions; and he sought by this means to arm himself with the suffrages of his people in his resistance of usurpation from that quarter. But nothing, we may suppose, was farther from his thoughts, than that the influence of the precedent thus supplied would be such as it has proved on the destiny of France. Man's doings often yield less and more than is expected from them.

The States-General embraced, as is well known, representatives of three estates-the clergy, the noblesse, and the commons. The representatives of the commons were, in general, more numerous than those of the clergy, or of the nobles, taken separately; but they were outnumbered by the two when taken together. The separation of the representatives of the clergy and the representatives of the nobles into two houses was a grave mistake. Had they been assembled together, so as to constitute one upper house, they might have acted with effect as a middle power between the monarchy on the one hand, and the democracy upon the other. But acting separately, it was natural that they should act in relation to separate interests, and with separate feelings. Division, and the usual consequence of division-weakness, were the result. The weak, moreover, were slow in perceiving the source of their weakness; not so the monarchy, which grew strong through that weakness. Another defect, still more serious, in the constitution of the StatesGeneral was, that its power was in no real sense legislative. The three houses represented three estates, and it pertained to each house to lay before the king the desires or grievances of the estate which it represented. These statements were prepared separately, and presented separately; and when the three estates had so done, the sort of parliament which they consti

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tuted ceased to exist. The king promised attention to the matters so submitted to him; but it was not until the representatives had separated, had returned home, and again become powerless, that they became aware of the success or the failure of their labours. The legislative power of France was vested exclusively in the crown before the first meeting of the StatesGeneral was convoked; and it continued to be so vested until the fall of the monarchy subsequently to 1789. The subject might complain, and petition, and it became the sovereign to estimate these complaints and petitions at their proper value; but it pertained to him alone to determine whether these petitions of the subject should become in any sense the basis of law. Nor was this all: not only did the legislative power rest thus entirely with the crown, these assemblies never became so consolidated in French history as to be convened at fixed periods; their being assembled at all was determined by the pleasure of the king, and such exigencies of state as might seem to require their presence.

But though it did not belong to the States-General to enact laws, it was deemed expedient that a sanction, more or less formal, should be obtained from them in reference to the imposition of taxes. The real power of these States always consisted in their money power. It was especially so with the third estate, representing the commons; it happened, too, as is usual in such cases, that the commons aimed sometimes to compensate for their want of an orderly power as legislators, by the exercise of a disorderly power as demagogues. The history of the States-General of the fourteenth century furnish sufficient evidence on this point.

The contentions between Philip le Bel and the Flemings compelled him to assemble the States-General a second time in 1304, and a third time in 1314. These meetings, together with the charters granted to various provinces by Philip's successor, Louis X., contributed to give prevalence to the sentiment through France, that no new impost could be valid without the consent of the representatives of the community. In the meeting of the States under King John, in 1355, this was assumed as a conclusion understood and settled. On that occasion, the third estate petitioned that the three estates might deliberate together; and they did so. But the effect of this arrangement was, that the power of the two first orders was virtually neutralized by the power of the third. Now, also, the States not only assumed the right to levy taxes, but took upon themselves to see, by commissioners of their own, to the collecting of the taxes so imposed, and to the auditing of the public revenue.

Something, also, was done towards rendering the burden of extraordinary taxes more equal, and towards abating the power of the crown in regard to any deterioration of the coinage, or the impressment of goods and men for the royal service. The constitution of the States-General did not recognise these men as legislators; and, in this manner, they assumed to be that, and something more, appropriating to themselves some of the most material functions of the executive government.

This meeting of the States, and that of 1356, in the year following, took place amidst the calamities into which France was plunged by the disasters of her wars with the English. Her king was then a prisoner in the Tower of London. Charles, the Dauphin, was only nineteen years of age. The juncture was one in which the feeling of class might have been expected to give place to that of patriotism; but it was far otherwise. The posture of affairs was viewed as favourable to the popular cause ; and it was resolved that, in that view, the most should be made of it. Monies were voted, and an army of 30,000 men was to be sustained. But, on the other hand, the conditions were, that a large number of persons filling public offices should give place to others; that the new officers should be appointed by the States; that the old should be brought to trial before such commissioners as the States should appoint; and that an attempt should be made to substitute the Dauphin as a prisoner in the place of his father. That Charles should hesitate to accept aid on such terms until the States had separated; and that, freed from the presence of such hard masters, he should then determine, if possible, to do without them, is hardly surprising. But to do without these masters was not, as yet, within his power. He attempted to raise money by depreciating the currency; the measure called forth an insurrection in Paris, and, before the next day had closed, the prince was obliged to profess himself penitent, and to promise that the affairs of the kingdom should be committed to the discretion of a new assembly of the States-General. That assembly met; they removed the obnoxious persons from office; they bound the king to abstain from meddling with the currency without their consent; and they appointed a commission from their own body to act as a permanent council with the prince during the intervals of the meetings of the States. To all this, and more, Charles assented.

But now came the illustration of the old adage, as to finding fault and mending it. The old functionaries had been dismissed; but the new men soon made the discovery that to uphold a government at all, it was unavoidable that they should

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