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THE BRITISH

QUARTERLY REVIEW.

AUGUST 1, 1853.

ART. I. (1.) Civil Wars and Monarchy in France in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. By LEOPOLD RANKE. Translated by M. A. GARVEY. 2 vols. 8vo. Bentley. 1852.

(2.) History of the Protestants of France, from the Commencement of the Reformation to the Present Time. Translated from the French of G. DE FELICE, Professor of Theology at Montauban. 2 vols. 8vo. Longman. 1853.

OUR maps show us that to approach the city of Tours we must make our way to nearly the centre of modern France. That city is a very ancient city. Its walls and turrets frowned defiance on assailants from the neighbouring plains as far back as the time when the power of old Rome was ascendant in Gaul. One memorable event in the history of France, of Europe, and of the human race, has relation to that locality. Thus far did the migrating nations under the command of Attila penetrate westward in the fifth century. But there, the multitudinous hordes from the steppes of Central Asia, and elsewhere, subject to the will of that chief, received a signal repulse. The course of the barbarian invader was thus turned in another direction, and Europe was saved from falling into the hands of races incapable of the kind of greatness since realized in this quarter of the globe.

Two centuries later, a second memorable struggle gave historical interest to another spot on the French territory, not far from Tours-viz., to the open country stretching off in the direction of Tours from Poictiers. The Moslems, who had taken possession of Northern Africa, and of Spain, from the Straits to the Pyrenees, crossed those mountains, and extended their conquests over the provinces now known as forming the South of France; menacing the Europe to come with the predominance of Arabian ideas as to religion, and of Oriental ideas as

to government. Charles Martel was then nominal King of France. Eudes, duke of Aquitaine, was among the turbulent nobles who had drawn their swords against that monarch, and whose lands were now wrested from them by this new power. One stormy evening, Eudes made his way, accompanied by a few fugitive companions, to the royal camp, and was admitted to the presence of Charles. He deplored the feuds that had taken place between them, and the ruin which threatened their common country, and urged the king to turn his good sword without delay against the invader. Charles, who was as much the child of the tent and the battle-field as any Arab that might cross his path, collected his forces, and confronted the enemy not far from Poictiers. One solitary chronicler of the time has given us an account of this battle, and even his description is restricted to a single paragraph. From him, however, we learn, that the Moslems distinguished themselves, after their manner, on that day, displaying a marvellous celerity in their movements, and great skill and courage when they threw themselves upon the ranks of the foe. But in this encounter, neither their tactics nor their bravery availed them. The Franco-Germanic lines were not to be broken. They stood, says our authority, like an immovable buttress, like a wall of ice, against which the light-armed Arabs dashed themselves to 'pieces, without making any impression. The Moslems advanced ' and retired with rapidity, but were mown down by the swords ' of the Germans. The Moslem general himself fell under their 'blows. Meanwhile, night began to fall; and the Franks lifted 'up their arms, as if to petition their leaders for rest. They wished to reserve themselves for the next day's fight, for they 'saw the distant country covered with Saracen tents. But when ' on the following morning they formed for battle, they perceived 'that the tents were empty, and discovered that the Saracens, 'terrified by the dreadful loss they had sustained, had retreated in the middle of the night, and were already far on their way.' The Moslem sword lost its prestige northward of the Pyrenees from that day. The disciples of the Prophet learned to restrict their ambition to the provinces southward of those fastnesses. Thus France proved, in two memorable instances, the great rampart of European faith and freedom.

And from that time to the present, the history of France has been closely interwoven with the history of Europe. We say interwoven, because the relation has ever been one of mutual influences. The influence of France on the other states of Europe has been great; but the influence of other states upon France has been also great. She has her place in the history of

Isidore, bishop of Beja, in Portugal, cited in Sismondi's History of the Fall of the Roman Empire.

FRANCE THE REPELLENT OF ASIATIC BARBARISM.

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European progress, as always sharing in it, and at times as contributing largely towards it. The present position of that country is such as to dispose thoughtful men to look with some anxiety to the probabilities of its future. The true prognostics of that future must be sought, not in the narrowness of the immediately present, but in the breadth of the past. National character may develop, it does not change. Here, eminently, what has been, is that which will be. Nations, indeed, do not always run the exact course which even a sound philosophy may imagine as awaiting them. Unforeseen circumstances do sometimes prove more potent than natural tendencies, and frustrate the calculations of the most reasonable. But these are rare exceptions. The tendencies of race, and of those conditions of race which result from climate and country, act with the force and steadiness of law. It is scarcely more true that the boy is father to the man, than that a nation in a certain stage of development gives assurance of developments of the same kind in a more matured form in later ages. Nations grow, in common with other existences having life. And to grow, is simply to augment and expand the past, not to lose it. There is an identity of nature between the seed and the product, though the changes which the process may exhibit be manifold and marvellous.

In this view there is hope for France. Her character is not before us in any one of her special manifestations, nor in any particular reaction called forth by such manifestations. It rests on ground much broader and more permanent, and what this ground is, it is the business of philosophy to determine. The defects of French character in the past may attach to it in the future, but so will its virtues, and it is these last that have grown stronger as social science has advanced. In the characteristics of French history there is beyond a doubt much to occasion disappointment and sorrow, but there is much also, if the subject be largely viewed, to inspire hope. Such is our impression, and we wish to state the grounds of it.

One hopeful fact especially observable in French history is, that its errors are rarely errors as to principle, they are nearly always errors of exaggeration. The ideas and feelings which become alternately dominant in that country are almost invariably just and noble in themselves, but seem to be ever tending towards injustice and deterioration through excess.

We scarcely need say, for example, that the feeling in favour of the aristocratic element in political society, which is so conspicuous in the history of France, is not in itself an unreasonable feeling. In the times which succeeded the fall of the Roman

empire, everything pointed towards the centralizing power of a great monarchy as being the form of power which could alone ensure order and safety. But wherever the monarchical power becomes thus necessary, it becomes necessary that there should be the check of an aristocratic power. This last power is required to bridge the distance between the highest and the lowest-the monarchy and the people, if the social system is to be rightly balanced, and to present cohesiveness and harmony. Nature and circumstances give existence to these gradations, whether recognised in institutions corresponding to them or not. In rude times, the aristocracy of birth weighs little. It is the aristocracy of talent that rules. The first nobles are self-created, and it so happens in many a subsequent stage in the history of nobility. The language of law may be that of equality, but nature has another language, which no language of law can silence.

In France, however, the limits within which the existence of a privileged class is found to be wholesome have been too commonly overlooked. Aristocracy there, accordingly, presents itself too often as an element of disturbance and oppression. The genius of Charlemagne could ensure obedience from his chiefs-those lesser kings who were disposed to rule the provinces subject to their sway so independently. But not so his successors. The coming in of some power, possessing the advantage of unity-as in the case of the Huns under Attila, or of the Moslems from Spain-might suggest the importance of subordination to some centralized authority even in the case of the highest. But as the season of danger passed away, so did this wiser thoughtfulness. The dukes and counts then returned to the jealous exercise of their petty royalties, within their respective domains; and forces that should have contributed to national improvement were wasted, worse than wasted, in feuds, and in feuds which grew not unfrequently into civil war.

What the wars of the Roses did for a time for the nobility of England, the frenzy of the crusades did for a season for the nobility of France-it reduced their numbers, and it made them comparatively poor. But in the fifteenth century the sovereignties of the French provinces had so far recovered from that shock, that their opulence and power were often felt as overshadowing the throne itself. The dukes of Brittany, for instance, in defiance of the king, persisted in describing themselves as dukes by the grace of God.' They presumed to found a university wholly irrespective of the royal authority. They rejected the Pragmatic Sanction, which the king would have imposed on them, and did not scruple to side with the pope in

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ARISTOCRACY IN FRANCE.

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taking up arms against it. The counts of Anjou and Provence made much of their claims on Syria and Jerusalem, which were regarded as giving them a place among the independent sovereignties of their time. The castle of Angiers, where they held their court, was gazed upon with wonder by many a traveller, and accounted the most impregnable in the world. Its twenty towers seen from without, gave no more than fair indication of the marvellous contributions from the west and east, natural and artificial, which served to confer so much opulence and splendour on the scenes within. Blois, the residence of the dukes of Orleans, was long celebrated as the seat of every knightly accomplishment; and during the time of one of its owners at least, it was famous through France as the home of the poet and the scholar. But the court of the dukes of Burgundy surpassed all these. Foreigners, we are told, were amazed as they saw the vast number of knights, counts, and even of princes, who crowded its stately chambers, and still more as they gazed on the treasures to be seen there, especially in the time of the great centre of those pageantries known by the name of Philip the Good. In the treasury of this great vassal, it is said, the stranger might see a hundred thousand quintals of coined gold, besides an infinite quantity of the most costly jewels.' As the first peer of the realm, the duke of Burgundy often acted as a sort of elective monarch among the great vassals, throwing his weight into their scale, in their negotiations and differences with their legitimate sovereigns. Philip the Good had given an asylum to Louis XI. before his accession to the throne, and when the time came for the youth to receive the crown, the grandeur and the popularity of the duke, both during the coronation ceremonial at Rheims, and on the entrance into Paris, altogether eclipsed anything that seemed to belong to the modest presence of the king.

Nor was it enough that these great barons should be thus formidable in the domestic affairs of France. By alliances, and other means, they became possessed of feudal sovereignties beyond the territory of that kingdom, especially in the direction of Flanders and Germany. Ere long, the duke of Burgundy succeeding Philip the Good, and all the great vassals, are found in arms against Louis, and they succeed, as the result of a pitched battle, in imposing upon him most humiliating conditions. But in French history, Louis XI. proved to be the monarch who was to break the force of this undue aristocratic power, and to lay the foundation for a series of changes which went on until the monarchy became absolute, and the privileged orders, once so

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