6. Mutual aid in the Mediaeval city (cont.)

Submitted by libcom on January 31, 2006

Likeness and diversity among the medieval cities. -- The
craftguilds: State-attributes in each of them. -- Attitude of the
city towards the peasants; attempts to free them. -- The lords.
-- Results achieved by the medieval city: in arts, in learning.
-- Causes of decay.

The medieval cities were not organized upon some preconceived

plan in obedience to the will of an outside legislator. Each of

them was a natural growth in the full sense of the word -- an

always varying result of struggle between various forces which

adjusted and re-adjusted themselves in conformity with their

relative energies, the chances of their conflicts, and the

support they found in their surroundings. Therefore, there are

not two cities whose inner organization and destinies would have

been identical. Each one, taken separately, varies from century

to century. And yet, when we cast a broad glance upon all the

cities of Europe, the local and national unlikenesses disappear,

and we are struck to find among all of them a wonderful

resemblance, although each has developed for itself,

independently from the others, and in different conditions. A

small town in the north of Scotland, with its population of

coarse labourers and fishermen; a rich city of Flanders, with its

world-wide commerce, luxury, love of amusement and animated life;

an Italian city enriched by its intercourse with the East, and

breeding within its walls a refined artistic taste and

civilization; and a poor, chiefly agricultural, city in the marsh

and lake district of Russia, seem to have little in common. And

nevertheless, the leading lines of their organization, and the

spirit which animates them, are imbued with a strong family

likeness. Everywhere we see the same federations of small

communities and guilds, the same "sub-towns" round the mother

city, the same folkmote, and the same insigns of its

independence. The defensor of the city, under different names and

in different accoutrements, represents the same authority and

interests; food supplies, labour and commerce, are organized on

closely similar lines; inner and outer struggles are fought with

like ambitions; nay, the very formulae used in the struggles, as

also in the annals, the ordinances, and the rolls, are identical;

and the architectural monuments, whether Gothic, Roman, or

Byzantine in style, express the same aspirations and the same

ideals; they are conceived and built in the same way. Many

dissemblances are mere differences of age, and those disparities

between sister cities which are real are repeated in different

parts of Europe. The unity of the leading idea and the identity

of origin make up for differences of climate, geographical

situation, wealth, language and religion. This is why we can

speak of the medieval city as of a well-defined phase of

civilization; and while every research insisting upon local and

individual differences is most welcome, we may still indicate the

chief lines of development which are common to all cities.1

There is no doubt that the protection which used to be

accorded to the market-place from the earliest barbarian times

has played an important, though not an exclusive, part in the

emancipation of the medieval city. The early barbarians knew no

trade within their village communities; they traded with

strangers only, at certain definite spots, on certain determined

days. And, in order that the stranger might come to the

barter-place without risk of being slain for some feud which

might be running between two kins, the market was always placed

under the special protection of all kins. It was inviolable, like

the place of worship under the shadow of which it was held. With

the Kabyles it is still annaya, like the footpath along which

women carry water from the well; neither must be trodden upon in

arms, even during inter-tribal wars. In medieval times the market

universally enjoyed the same protection.2 No feud could be

prosecuted on the place whereto people came to trade, nor within

a certain radius from it; and if a quarrel arose in the motley

crowd of buyers and sellers, it had to be brought before those

under whose protection the market stood -- the community's

tribunal, or the bishop's, the lord's, or the king's judge. A

stranger who came to trade was a guest, and he went on under this

very name. Even the lord who had no scruples about robbing a

merchant on the high road, respected the Weichbild, that is, the

pole which stood in the market-place and bore either the king's

arms, or a glove, or the image of the local saint, or simply a

cross, according to whether the market was under the protection

of the king, the lord, the local church, or the folkmote -- the


It is easy to understand how the self-jurisdiction of the

city could develop out of the special jurisdiction in the

market-place, when this last right was conceded, willingly or

not, to the city itself. And such an origin of the city's

liberties, which can be traced in very many cases, necessarily

laid a special stamp upon their subsequent development. It gave a

predominance to the trading part of the community. The burghers

who possessed a house in the city at the time being, and were

co-owners in the town-lands, constituted very often a merchant

guild which held in its hands the city's trade; and although at

the outset every burgher, rich and poor, could make part of the

merchant guild, and the trade itself seems to have been carried

on for the entire city by its trustees, the guild gradually

became a sort of privileged body. It jealously prevented the

outsiders who soon began to flock into the free cities from

entering the guild, and kept the advantages resulting from trade

for the few "families" which had been burghers at the time of the

emancipation. There evidently was a danger of a merchant

oligarchy being thus constituted. But already in the tenth, and

still more during the two next centuries, the chief crafts, also

organized in guilds, were powerful enough to check the oligarchic

tendencies of the merchants.

The craft guild was then a common seller of its produce and a

common buyer of the raw materials, and its members were merchants

and manual workers at the same time. Therefore, the predominance

taken by the old craft guilds from the very beginnings of the

free city life guaranteed to manual labour the high position

which it afterwards occupied in the city.4 In fact, in a

medieval city manual labour was no token of inferiority; it bore,

on the contrary, traces of the high respect it had been kept in

in the village community. Manual labour in a "mystery" was

considered as a pious duty towards the citizens: a public

function (Amt), as honourable as any other. An idea of "justice"

to the community, of "right" towards both producer and consumer,

which would seem so extravagant now, penetrated production and

exchange. The tanner's, the cooper's, or the shoemaker's work

must be "just," fair, they wrote in those times. Wood, leather or

thread which are used by the artisan must be "right"; bread must

be baked "in justice," and so on. Transport this language into

our present life, and it would seem affected and unnatural; but

it was natural and unaffected then, because the medieval artisan

did not produce for an unknown buyer, or to throw his goods into

an unknown market. He produced for his guild first; for a

brotherhood of men who knew each other, knew the technics of the

craft, and, in naming the price of each product, could appreciate

the skill displayed in its fabrication or the labour bestowed

upon it. Then the guild, not the separate producer, offered the

goods for sale in the community, and this last, in its turn,

offered to the brotherhood of allied communities those goods

which were exported, and assumed responsibility for their

quality. With such an organization, it was the ambition of each

craft not to offer goods of inferior quality, and technical

defects or adulterations became a matter concerning the whole

community, because, an ordinance says, "they would destroy public

confidence."5 Production being thus a social duty, placed

under the control of the whole amitas, manual labour could not

fall into the degraded condition which it occupies now, so long

as the free city was living.

A difference between master and apprentice, or between master

and worker (compayne, Geselle), existed but in the medieval

cities from their very beginnings; this was at the outset a mere

difference of age and skill, not of wealth and power. After a

seven years' apprenticeship, and after having proved his

knowledge and capacities by a work of art, the apprentice became

a master himself. And only much later, in the sixteenth century,

after the royal power had destroy ed the city and the craft

organization, was it possible to become master in virtue of

simple inheritance or wealth. But this was also the time of a

general decay in medieval industries and art.

There was not much room for hired work in the early

flourishing periods of the medieval cities, still less for

individual hirelings. The work of the weavers, the archers, the

smiths, the bakers, and so on, was performed for the craft and

the city; and when craftsmen were hired in the building trades,

they worked as temporary corporations (as they still do in the

Russian art?ls), whose work was paid en bloc. Work for a master

began to multiply only later on; but even in this case the worker

was paid better than he is paid now, even in this country, and

very much better than he used to be paid all over Europe in the

first half of this century. Thorold Rogers has familiarized

English readers with this idea; but the same is true for the

Continent as well, as is shown by the researches of Falke and

Sch?nberg, and by many occasional indications. Even in the

fifteenth century a mason, a carpenter, or a smith worker would

be paid at Amiens four sols a day, which corresponded to

forty-eight pounds of bread, or to the eighth part of a small ox

(bouvard). In Saxony, the salary of the Geselle in the building

trade was such that, to put it in Falke's words, he could buy

with his six days' wages three sheep and one pair of shoes.6

The donations of workers (Geselle) to cathedrals also bear

testimony of their relative well-being, to say nothing of the

glorious donations of certain craft guilds nor of what they used

to spend in festivities and pageants.7 In fact, the more we

learn about the medieval city, the more we are convinced that at

no time has labour enjoyed such conditions of prosperity and such

respect as when city life stood at its highest.

More than that; not only many aspirations of our modern

radicals were already realized in the middle ages, but much of

what is described now as Utopian was accepted then as a matter of

fact. We are laughed at when we say that work must be pleasant,

but -- "every one must be pleased with his work," a medieval

Kuttenberg ordinance says, "and no one shall, while doing nothing

(mit nichts thun), appropriate for himself what others have

produced by application and work, because laws must be a shield

for application and work."8 And amidst all present talk about

an eight hours' day, it may be well to remember an ordinance of

Ferdinand the First relative to the Imperial coal mines, which

settled the miner's day at eight hours, "as it used to be of old"

(wie vor Alters herkommen), and work on Saturday afternoon was

prohibited. Longer hours were very rare, we are told by Janssen,

while shorter hours were of common occurrence. In this country,

in the fifteenth century, Rogers says, "the workmen worked only

forty-eight hours a week."9 The Saturday half-holiday, too,

which we consider as a modern conquest, was in reality an old

medieval institution; it was bathing-time for a great part of the

community, while Wednesday afternoon was bathing-time for the

Geselle.10 And although school meals did not exist -- probably

because no children went hungry to school -- a distribution of

bath-money to the children whose parents found difficulty in

providing it was habitual in several places As to Labour

Congresses, they also were a regular Feature of the middles ages.

In some parts of Germany craftsmen of the same trade, belonging

to different communes, used to come together every year to

discuss questions relative to their trade, the years of

apprenticeship, the wandering years, the wages, and so on; and in

1572, the Hanseatic towns formally recognized the right of the

crafts to come together at periodical congresses, and to take any

resolutions, so long as they were not contrary to the cities'

rolls, relative to the quality of goods. Such Labour Congresses,

partly international like the Hansa itself, are known to have

been held by bakers, founders, smiths, tanners, sword-makers and


The craft organization required, of course, a close

supervision of the craftsmen by the guild, and special jurates

were always nominated for that purpose. But it is most remarkable

that, so long as the cities lived their free life, no complaints

were heard about the supervision; while, after the State had

stepped in, confiscating the property of the guilds and

destroying their independence in favour of its own bureaucracy,

the complaints became simply countless.12 On the other hand,

the immensity of progress realized in all arts under the

mediaeval guild system is the best proof that the system was no

hindrance to individual initiative.13 The fact is, that the

medieval guild, like the medieval parish, "street," or "quarter,"

was not a body of citizens, placed under the control of State

functionaries; it was a union of all men connected with a given

trade: jurate buyers of raw produce, sellers of manufactured

goods, and artisans -- masters, "compaynes," and apprentices. For

the inner organization of the trade its assembly was sovereign,

so long as it did not hamper the other guilds, in which case the

matter was brought before the guild of the guilds -- the city.

But there was in it something more than that. It had its own

self-jurisdiction, its own military force, its own general

assemblies, its own traditions of struggles, glory, and

independence, its own relations with other guilds of the same

trade in other cities: it had, in a word, a full organic life

which could only result from the integrality of the vital

functions. When the town was called to arms, the guild appeared

as a separate company (Schaar), armed with its own arms (or its

own guns, lovingly decorated by the guild, at a subsequent

epoch), under its own self-elected commanders. It was, in a word,

as independent a unit of the federation as the republic of Uri or

Geneva was fifty years ago in the Swiss Confederation. So that,

to compare it with a modern trade union, divested of all

attributes of State sovereignty, and reduced to a couple of

functions of secondary importance, is as unreasonable as to

compare Florence or Br?gge with a French commune vegetating under

the Code Napol?on, or with a Russian town placed under Catherine

the Second's municipal law. Both have elected mayors, and the

latter has also its craft corporations; but the difference is --

all the difference that exists between Florence and

Fontenay-les-Oies or Tsarevokokshaisk, or between a Venetian doge

and a modern mayor who lifts his hat before the sous-pr?fet's


The medieval guilds were capable of maintaining their

independence; and, later on, especially in the fourteenth

century, when, in consequence of several causes which shall

presently be indicated, the old municipal life underwent a deep

modification, the younger crafts proved strong enough to conquer

their due share in the management of the city affairs. The

masses, organized in "minor" arts, rose to wrest the power out of

the hands of a growing oligarchy, and mostly succeeded in this

task, opening again a new era of prosperity. True, that in some

cities the uprising was crushed in blood, and mass decapitations

of workers followed, as was the case in Paris in 1306, and in

Cologne in 1371. In such cases the city's liberties rapidly fell

into decay, and the city was gradually subdued by the central

authority. But the majority of the towns had preserved enough of

vitality to come out of the turmoil with a new life and

vigour.14 A new period of rejuvenescence was their reward. New

life was infused, and it found its expression in splendid

architectural monuments, in a new period of prosperity, in a

sudden progress of technics and invention, and in a new

intellectual movement leading to the Renaissance and to the


The life of a mediaeval city was a succession of hard battles

to conquer liberty and to maintain it. True, that a strong and

tenacious race of burghers had developed during those fierce

contests; true, that love and worship of the mother city had been

bred by these struggles, and that the grand things achieved by

the mediaeval communes were a direct outcome of that love. But

the sacrifices which the communes had to sustain in the battle

for freedom were, nevertheless, cruel, and left deep traces of

division on their inner life as well. Very few cities had

succeeded, under a concurrence of favourable circumstances, in

obtaining liberty at one stroke, and these few mostly lost it

equally easily; while the great number had to fight fifty or a

hundred years in succession, often more, before their rights to

free life had been recognized, and another hundred years to found

their liberty on a firm basis -- the twelfth century charters

thus being but one of the stepping-stones to freedom.15 In

reality, the mediaeval city was a fortified oasis amidst a

country plunged into feudal submission, and it had to make room

for itself by the force of its arms. In consequence of the causes

briefly alluded to in the preceding chapter, each village

community had gradually fallen under the yoke of some lay or

clerical lord. His house had grown to be a castle, and his

brothers-in-arms were now the scum of adventurers, always ready

to plunder the peasants. In addition to three days a week which

the peasants had to work for the lord, they had also to bear all

sorts of exactions for the right to sow and to crop, to be gay or

sad, to live, to marry, or to die. And, worst of all, they were

continually plundered by the armed robbers of some neighbouring

lord, who chose to consider them as their master's kin, and to

take upon them, and upon their cattle and crops, the revenge for

a feud he was fighting against their owner. Every meadow, every

field, every river, and road around the city, and every man upon

the land was under some lord.

The hatred of the burghers towards the feudal barons has

found a most characteristic expression in the wording of the

different charters which they compelled them to sign. Heinrich V.

is made to sign in the charter granted to Speier in 1111, that he

frees the burghers from "the horrible and execrable law of

mortmain, through which the town has been sunk into deepest

poverty" (von dem scheusslichen und nichtsw?rdigen Gesetze,

welches gemein Budel genannt wird, Kallsen, i. 307). The coutume

of Bayonne, written about 1273, contains such passages as these:

"The people is anterior to the lords. It is the people, more

numerous than all others, who, desirous of peace, has made the

lords for bridling and knocking down the powerful ones, "and so

on (Giry, Etablissements de Rouen, i. 117, Quoted by Luchaire, p.

24). A charter submitted for King Robert's signature is equally

characteristic. He is made to say in it: "I shall rob no oxen nor

other animals. I shall seize no merchants, nor take their moneys,

nor impose ransom. From Lady Day to the All Saints' Day I shall

seize no horse, nor mare, nor foals, in the meadows. I shall not

burn the mills, nor rob the flour... I shall offer no protection

to thieves," etc. (Pfister has published that document,

reproduced by Luchaire). The charter "granted" by the Besan?on

Archbishop Hugues, in which he has been compelled to enumerate

all the mischiefs due to his mortmain rights, is equally

characteristic.16 And so on.

Freedom could not be maintained in such surroundings, and the

cities were compelled to carry on the war outside their walls.

The burghers sent out emissaries to lead revolt in the villages;

they received villages into their corporations, and they waged

direct war against the nobles. It Italy, where the land was

thickly sprinkled with feudal castles, the war assumed heroic

proportions, and was fought with a stern acrimony on both sides.

Florence sustained for seventy-seven years a succession of bloody

wars, in order to free its contado from the nobles; but when the

conquest had been accomplished (in 1181) all had to begin anew.

The nobles rallied; they constituted their own leagues in

opposition to the leagues of the towns, and, receiving fresh

support from either the Emperor or the Pope, they made the war

last for another 130 years. The same took place in Rome, in

Lombardy, all over Italy.

Prodigies of valour, audacity, and tenaciousness were

displayed by the citizens in these wars. But the bows and the

hatchets of the arts and crafts had not always the upper hand in

their encounters with the armour-clad knights, and many castles

withstood the ingenious siege-machinery and the perseverance of

the citizens. Some cities, like Florence, Bologna, and many towns

in France, Germany, and Bohemia, succeeded in emancipating the

surrounding villages, and they were rewarded for their efforts by

an extraordinary prosperity and tranquillity. But even here, and

still more in the less strong or less impulsive towns, the

merchants and artisans, exhausted by war, and misunderstanding

their own interests, bargained over the peasants' heads. They

compelled the lord to swear allegiance to the city; his country

castle was dismantled, and he agreed to build a house and to

reside in the city, of which he became a co-burgher

(com-bourgeois, con-cittadino); but he maintained in return most

of his rights upon the peasants, who only won a partial relief

from their burdens. The burgher could not understand that equal

rights of citizenship might be granted to the peasant upon whose

food supplies he had to rely, and a deep rent was traced between

town and village. In some cases the peasants simply changed

owners, the city buying out the barons' rights and selling them

in shares to her own citizens.17 Serfdom was maintained, and

only much later on, towards the end of the thirteenth century, it

was the craft revolution which undertook to put an end to it, and

abolished personal servitude, but dispossessed at the same time

the serfs of the land.18 It hardly need be added that the

fatal results of such policy were soon felt by the cities

themselves; the country became the city's enemy.

The war against the castles had another bad effect. It

involved the cities in a long succession of mutual wars, which

have given origin to the theory, till lately in vogue, namely,

that the towns lost their independence through their own

jealousies and mutual fights. The imperialist historians have

especially supported this theory, which, however, is very much

undermined now by modern research. It is certain that in Italy

cities fought each other with a stubborn animosity, but nowhere

else did such contests attain the same proportions; and in Italy

itself the city wars, especially those of the earlier period, had

their special causes. They were (as was already shown by Sismondi

and Ferrari) a mere continuation of the war against the castles

-- the free municipal and federative principle unavoidably

entering into a fierce contest with feudalism, imperialism, and

papacy. Many towns which had but partially shaken off the yoke of

the bishop, the lord, or the Emperor, were simply driven against

the free cities by the nobles, the Emperor, and Church, whose

policy was to divide the cities and to arm them against each

other. These special circumstances (partly reflected on to

Germany also) explain why the Italian towns, some of which

Sollght support with the Emperor to combat the Pope, while the

others sought support from the Church to resist the Emperor, were

soon divided into a Gibelin and a Guelf camp, and why the same

division appeared in each separate city.19

The immense economical progress realized by most italian

cities just at the time when these wars were hottest,20 and

the alliances so easily concluded between towns, still better

characterize those struggles and further undermine the above

theory. Already in the years 1130-1150 powerful leagues came into

existence; and a few years later, when Frederick Barbarossa

invaded Italy and, supported by the nobles and some retardatory

cities, marched against Milan, popular enthusiasm was roused in

many towns by popular preachers. Crema, Piacenza, Brescia,

Tortona, etc., went to the rescue; the banners of the guilds of

Verona, Padua, Vicenza, and Trevisa floated side by side in the

cities' camp against the banners of the Emperor and the nobles.

Next year the Lombardian League came into existence, and sixty

years later we see it reinforced by many other cities, and

forming a lasting organization which had half of its federal

war-chest in Genoa and the other half in Venice.21 In Tuscany,

Florence headed another powerful league, to which Lucca, Bologna,

Pistoia, etc., belonged, and which played an important part in

crushing down the nobles in middle Italy, while smaller leagues

were of common occurrence. It is thus certain that although petty

jealousies undoubtedly existed, and discord could be easily sown,

they did not prevent the towns from uniting together for the

common defence of liberty. Only later on, when separate cities

became little States, wars broke out between them, as always must

be the case when States struggle for supremacy or colonies.

Similar leagues were formed in Germany for the same purpose.

When, under the successors of Conrad, the land was the prey of

interminable feuds between the nobles, the Westphalian towns

concluded a league against the knights, one of the clauses of

which was never to lend money to a knight who would continue to

conceal stolen goods.22 When "the knights and the nobles lived

on plunder, and murdered whom they chose to murder," as the

Wormser Zorn complains, the cities on the Rhine (Mainz, Cologne,

Speier, Strasburg, and Basel) took the initiative of a league

which soon numbered sixty allied towns, repressed the robbers,

and maintained peace. Later on, the league of the towns of

Suabia, divided into three "peace districts" (Augsburg,

Constance, and Ulm), had the same purpose. And even when such

leagues were broken,23 they lived long enough to show that

while the supposed peacemakers -- the kings, the emperors, and

the Church-fomented discord, and were themselves helpless against

the robber knights, it was from the cities that the impulse came

for re-establishing peace and union. The cities -- not the

emperors -- were the real makers of the national unity.24

Similar federations were organized for the same purpose among

small villages, and now that attention has been drawn to this

subject by Luchaire we may expect soon to learn much more about

them. Villages joined into small federations in the contado of

Florence, so also in the dependencies of Novgorod and Pskov. As

to France, there is positive evidence of a federation of

seventeen peasant villages which has existed in the Laonnais for

nearly a hundred years (till 1256), and has fought hard for its

independence. Three more peasant republics, which had sworn

charters similar to those of Laon and Soissons, existed in the

neighbourhood of Laon, and, their territories being contiguous,

they supported each other in their liberation wars. Altogether,

Luchaire is of the opinion that many such federations must have

come into existence in France in the twelfth and thirteenth

centuries, but that documents relative to them are mostly lost.

Of course, being unprotected by walls, they could easily be

crushed down by the kings and the lords; but in certain

favourable circumstances, when they found support in a league of

towns and protection in their mountains, such peasant republics

became independent units of the Swiss Confederation.25

As to unions between cities for peaceful purposes, they were

of quite common occurrence. The intercourse which had been

established during the period of liberation was not interrupted

afterwards. Sometimes, when the scabini of a German town, having

to pronounce judgment in a new or complicated case, declared that

they knew not the sentence (des Urtheiles nicht weise zu sein),

they sent delegates to another city to get the sentence. The same

happened also in France;26 while Forli and Ravenna are known

to have mutually naturalized their citizens and granted them full

rights in both cities. To submit a contest arisen between two

towns, or within a city, to another commune which was invited to

act as arbiter, was also in the spirit of the times.27 As to

commercial treaties between cities, they were quite

habitual.28 Unions for regulating the production and the sizes

of casks which were used for the commerce in wine, "herring

unions," and so on, were mere precursors of the great commercial

federations of the Flemish Hansa, and, later on, of the great

North German Hansa, the history of which alone might contribute

pages and pages to illustrate the federation spirit which

permeated men at that time. It hardly need be added, that through

the Hanseatic unions the medieval cities have contributed more to

the development of international intercourse, navigation, and

maritime discovery than all the States of the first seventeen

centuries of our era.

In a word, federations between small territorial units, as

well as among men united by common pursuits within their

respective guilds, and federations between cities and groups of

cities constituted the very essence of life and thought during

that period. The first five of the second decade of centuries of

our era may thus be described as an immense attempt at securing

mutual aid and support on a grand scale, by means of the

principles of federation and association carried on through all

manifestations of human life and to all possible degrees. This

attempt was attended with success to a very great extent. It

united men formerly divided; it secured them a very great deal of

freedom, and it tenfolded their forces. At a time when

particularism was bred by so many agencies, and the causes of

discord and jealousy might have been so numerous, it is

gratifying to see that cities scattered over a wide continent had

so much in common, and were so ready to confederate for the

prosecution of so many common aims. They succumbed in the long

run before powerful enemies; not having understood the mutual-aid

principle widely enough, they themselves committed fatal faults;

but they did not perish through their own jealousies, and their

errors were not a want of federation spirit among themselves.

The results of that new move which mankind made in the

medieval city were immense. At the beginning of the eleventh

century the towns of Europe were small clusters of miserable

huts, adorned but with low clumsy churches, the builders of which

hardly knew how to make an arch; the arts, mostly consisting of

some weaving and forging, were in their infancy; learning was

found in but a few monasteries. Three hundred and fifty years

later, the very face of Europe had been changed. The land was

dotted with rich cities, surrounded by immense thick walls which

were embellished by towers and gates, each of them a work of art

in itself. The cathedrals, conceived in a grand style and

profusely decorated, lifted their bell-towers to the skies,

displaying a purity of form and a boldness of imagination which

we now vainly strive to attain. The crafts and arts had risen to

a degree of perfection which we can hardly boast of having

superseded in many directions, if the inventive skill of the

worker and the superior finish of his work be appreciated higher

than rapidity of fabrication. The navies of the free cities

furrowed in all directions the Northern and the Southern

Mediterranean; one effort more, and they would cross the oceans.

Over large tracts of land well-being had taken the place of

misery; learning had grown and spread. The methods of science had

been elaborated; the basis of natural philosophy had been laid

down; and the way had been paved for all the mechanical

inventions of which our own times are so proud. Such were the

magic changes accomplished in Europe in less than four hundred

years. And the losses which Europe sustained through the loss of

its free cities can only be understood when we compare the

seventeenth century with the fourteenth or the thirteenth. The

prosperity which formerly characterized Scotland, Germany, the

plains of Italy, was gone. The roads had fallen into an abject

state, the cities were depopulated, labour was brought into

slavery, art had vanished, commerce itself was decaying.29

If the medieval cities had bequeathed to us no written

documents to testify of their splendour, and left nothing behind

but the monuments of building art which we see now all over

Europe, from Scotland to Italy, and from Gerona in Spain to

Breslau in Slavonian territory, we might yet conclude that the

times of independent city life were times of the greatest

development of human intellect during the Christian era down to

the end of the eighteenth century. On looking, for instance, at a

medieval picture representing Nuremberg with its scores of towers

and lofty spires, each of which bore the stamp of free creative

art, we can hardly conceive that three hundred years before the

town was but a collection of miserable hovels. And our admiration

grows when we go into the details of the architecture and

decorations of each of the countless churches, bell-towers,

gates, and communal houses which are scattered all over Europe as

far east as Bohemia and the now dead towns of Polish Galicia. Not

only Italy, that mother of art, but all Europe is full of such

monuments. The very fact that of all arts architecture -- a

social art above all -- had attained the highest development, is

significant in itself. To be what it was, it must have originated

from an eminently social life.

Medieval architecture attained its grandeur -- not only

because it was a natural development of handicraft; not only

because each building, each architectural decoration, had been

devised by men who knew through the experience of their own hands

what artistic effects can be obtained from stone, iron, bronze,

or even from simple logs and mortar; not only because, each

monument was a result of collective experience, accumulated in

each "mystery" or craft30 -- it was grand because it was born

out of a grand idea. Like Greek art, it sprang out of a

conception of brotherhood and unity fostered by the city. It had

an audacity which could only be won by audacious struggles and

victories; it had that expression of vigour, because vigour

permeated all the life of the city. A cathedral or a communal

house symbolized the grandeur of an organism of which every mason

and stone-cutter was the builder, and a medieval building appears

-- not as a solitary effort to which thousands of slaves would

have contributed the share assigned them by one man's

imagination; all the city contributed to it. The lofty bell-tower

rose upon a structure, grand in itself, in which the life of the

city was throbbing -- not upon a meaningless scaffold like the

Paris iron tower, not as a sham structure in stone intended to

conceal the ugliness of an iron frame, as has been done in the

Tower Bridge. Like the Acropolis of Athens, the cathedral of a

medieval city was intended to glorify the grandeur of the

victorious city, to symbolize the union of its crafts, to express

the glory of each citizen in a city of his own creation. After

having achieved its craft revolution, the city often began a new

cathedral in order to express the new, wider, and broader union

which had been called into life.

The means at hand for these grand undertakings were

disproportionately small. Cologne Cathedral was begun with a

yearly outlay of but 500 marks; a gift of 100 marks was inscribed

as a grand donation;31 and even when the work approached

completion, and gifts poured in in proportion, the yearly outlay

in money stood at about 5,000 marks, and never exceeded 14,000.

The cathedral of Basel was built with equally small means. But

each corporation contributed its part of stone, work, and

decorative genius to their common monument. Each guild expressed

in it its political conceptions, telling in stone or in bronze

the history of the city, glorifying the principles of "Liberty,

equality, and fraternity,"32 praising the city's allies, and

sending to eternal fire its enemies. And each guild bestowed its

love upon the communal monument by richly decorating it with

stained windows, paintings, "gates, worthy to be the gates of

Paradise," as Michel Angelo said, or stone decorations of each

minutest corner of the building.33 Small cities, even small

parishes,34 vied with the big agglomerations in this work, and

the cathedrals of Laon and St. Ouen hardly stand behind that of

Rheims, or the Communal House of Bremen, or the folkmote's

bell-tower of Breslau. "No works must be begun by the commune but

such as are conceived in response to the grand heart of the

commune, composed of the hearts of all citizens, united in one

common will" -- such were the words of the Council of Florence;

and this spirit appears in all communal works of common utility,

such as the canals, terraces, vineyards, and fruit gardens around

Florence, or the irrigation canals which intersected the plains

of Lombardy, or the port and aqueduct of Genoa, or, in fact, any

works of the kind which were achieved by almost every city.35

All arts had progressed in the same way in the medieval

cities, those of our own days mostly being but a continuation of

what had grown at that time. The prosperity of the Flemish cities

was based upon the fine woollen cloth they fabricated. Florence,

at the beginning of the fourteenth century, before the black

death, fabricated from 70,000 to 100,000 panni of woollen stuffs,

which were valued at 1,200,000 golden florins.36 The

chiselling of precious metals, the art of casting, the fine

forging of iron, were creations of the medi?val "mysteries" which

had succeeded in attaining in their own domains all that could be

made by the hand, without the use of a powerful prime motor. By

the hand and by invention, because, to use Whewell's words:

"Parchment and paper, printing and engraving, improved glass

and steel, gunpowder, clocks, telescopes, the mariner's compass,

the reformed calendar, the decimal notation; algebra,

trigonometry, chemistry, counterpoint (an invention equivalent to

a new creation of music); these are all possessions which we

inherit from that which has so disparagingly been termed the

Stationary Period" (History of Inductive Sciences, i. 252).

True that no new principle was illustrated by any of these

discoveries, as Whewell said; but medieval science had done

something more than the actual discovery of new principles. It

had prepared the discovery of all the new principles which we

know at the present time in mechanical sciences: it had

accustomed the explorer to observe facts and to reason from them.

It was inductive science, even though it had not yet fully

grasped the importance and the powers of induction; and it laid

the foundations of both mechanics and natural philosophy. Francis

Bacon, Galileo, and Copernicus were the direct descendants of a

Roger Bacon and a Michael Scot, as the steam engine was a direct

product of the researches carried on in the Italian universities

on the weight of the atmosphere, and of the mathematical and

technical learning which characterized Nuremberg.

But why should one take trouble to insist upon the advance of

science and art in the medieval city? Is it not enough to point

to the cathedrals in the domain of skill, and to the Italian

language and the poem of Dante in the domain of thought, to give

at once the measure of what the medieval city created during the

four centuries it lived?

The medieval cities have undoubtedly rendered an immense

service to European civilization. They have prevented it from

being drifted into the theocracies and despotical states of old;

they have endowed it with the variety, the self-reliance, the

force of initiative, and the immense intellectual and material

energies it now possesses, which are the best pledge for its

being able to resist any new invasion of the East. But why did

these centres of civilization, which attempted to answer to

deeply-seated needs of human nature, and were so full of life,

not live further on? Why were they seized with senile debility in

the sixteenth century? and, after having repulsed so many

assaults from without, and only borrowed new vigour from their

interior struggles, why did they finally succumb to both?

Various causes contributed to this effect, some of them

having their roots in the remote past, while others originated in

the mistakes committed by the cities themselves. Towards the end

of the fifteenth century, mighty States, reconstructed on the old

Roman pattern, were already coming into existence. In each

country and each region some feudal lord, more cunning, more

given to hoarding, and often less scrupulous than his neighbours,

had succeeded in appropriating to himself richer personal

domains, more peasants on his lands, more knights in his

following, more treasures in his chest. He had chosen for his

seat a group of happily-situated villages, not yet trained into

free municipal life -- Paris, Madrid, or Moscow -- and with the

labour of his serfs he had made of them royal fortified cities,

whereto he attracted war companions by a free distribution of

villages, and merchants by the protection he offered to trade.

The germ of a future State, which began gradually to absorb other

similar centres, was thus laid. Lawyers, versed in the study of

Roman law, flocked into such centres; a tenacious and ambitious

race of men issued from among the burgesses, who equally hated

the naughtiness of the lords and what they called the lawlessness

of the peasants. The very forms of the village community, unknown

to their code, the very principles of federalism were repulsive

to them as "barbarian" inheritances. Caesarism, supported by the

fiction of popular consent and by the force of arms, was their

ideal, and they worked hard for those who promised to realize


The Christian Church, once a rebel against Roman law and now

its ally, worked in the same direction. The attempt at

constituting the theocratic Empire of Europe having proved a

failure, the more intelligent and ambitious bishops now yielded

support to those whom they reckoned upon for reconstituting the

power of the Kings of Israel or of the Emperors of

Constantinople. The Church bestowed upon the rising rulers her

sanctity, she crowned them as God's representatives on earth, she

brought to their service the learning and the statesmanship of

her ministers, her blessings and maledictions, her riches, and

the sympathies she had retained among the poor. The peasants,

whom the cities had failed or refused to free, on seeing the

burghers impotent to put an end to the interminable wars between

the knights -- which wars they had so dearly to pay for -- now

set their hopes upon the King, the Emperor, or the Great Prince;

and while aiding them to crush down the mighty feudal owners,

they aided them to constitute the centralized State. And finally,

the invasions of the Mongols and the Turks, the holy war against

the Maures in Spain, as well as the terrible wars which soon

broke out between the growing centres of sovereignty -- Ile de

France and Burgundy, Scotland and England, England and France,

Lithuania and Poland, Moscow and Tver, and so on -- contributed

to the same end. Mighty States made their appearance; and the

cities had now to resist not only loose federations of lords, but

strongly-organized centres, which had armies of serfs at their


The worst was, that the growing autocracies found support in

the divisions which had grown within the cities themselves. The

fundamental idea of the medieval city was grand, but it was not

wide enough. Mutual aid and support cannot be limited to a small

association; they must spread to its surroundings, or else the

surroundings will absorb the association. And in this respect the

medieval citizen had committed a formidable mistake at the

outset. Instead of looking upon the peasants and artisans who

gathered under the protection of his walls as upon so many aids

who would contribute their part to the making of the city -- as

they really did -- a sharp division was traced between the

"families" of old burghers and the newcomers. For the former, all

benefits from communal trade and communal lands were reserved,

and nothing was left for the latter but the right of freely using

the skill of their own hands. The city thus became divided into

"the burghers" or "the commonalty," and "the inhabitants."38

The trade, which was formerly communal, now became the privilege

of the merchant and artisan "families," and the next step -- that

of becoming individual, or the privilege of oppressive trusts --

was unavoidable.

The same division took place between the city proper and the

surrounding villages. The commune had well tried to free the

peasants, but her wars against the lords became, as already

mentioned, wars for freeing the city itself from the lords,

rather than for freeing the peasants. She left to the lord his

rights over the villeins, on condition that he would molest the

city no more and would become co-burgher. But the nobles

"adopted" by the city, and now residing within its walls, simply

carried on the old war within the very precincts of the city.

They disliked to submit to a tribunal of simple artisans and

merchants, and fought their old feuds in the streets. Each city

had now its Colonnas and Orsinis, its Overstolzes and Wises.

Drawing large incomes from the estates they had still retained,

they surrounded themselves with numerous clients and feudalized

the customs and habits of the city itself. And when discontent

began to be felt in the artisan classes of the town, they offered

their sword and their followers to settle the differences by a

free fight, instead of letting the discontent find out the

channels which it did not fail to secure itself in olden times.

The greatest and the most fatal error of most cities was to

base their wealth upon commerce and industry, to the neglect of

agriculture. They thus repeated the error which had once been

committed by the cities of antique Greece, and they fell through

it into the same crimes.39 The estrangement of so many cities

from the land necessarily drew them into a policy hostile to the

land, which became more and more evident in the times of Edward

the Third,40 the French Jacqueries, the Hussite wars, and the

Peasant War in Germany. On the other hand, a commercial policy

involved them in distant enterprises. Colonies were founded by

the Italians in the south-east, by German cities in the east, by

Slavonian cities in the far northeast. Mercenary armies began to

be kept for colonial wars, and soon for local defence as well.

Loans were contacted to such an extent as to totally demoralize

the citizens; and internal contests grew worse and worse at each

election, during which the colonial politics in the interest of a

few families was at stake. The division into rich and poor grew

deeper, and in the sixteenth century, in each city, the royal

authority found ready allies and support among the poor.

And there is yet another cause of the decay of communal

institutions, which stands higher and lies deeper than all the

above. The history of the medieval cities offers one of the most

striking illustrations of the power of ideas and principles upon

the destinies of mankind, and of the quite opposed results which

are obtained when a deep modification of leading ideas has taken

place. Self-reliance and federalism, the sovereignty of each

group, and the construction of the political body from the simple

to the composite, were the leading ideas in the eleventh century.

But since that time the conceptions had entirely changed. The

students of Roman law and the prelates of the Church, closely

bound together since the time of Innocent the Third, had

succeeded in paralyzing the idea -- the antique Greek idea --

which presided at the foundation of the cities. For two or three

hundred years they taught from the pulpit, the University chair,

and the judges' bench, that salvation must be sought for in a

strongly-centralized State, placed under a semi-divine

authority;41 that one man can and must be the saviour of

society, and that in the name of public salvation he can commit

any violence: burn men and women at the stake, make them perish

under indescribable tortures, plunge whole provinces into the

most abject misery. Nor did they fail to give object lessons to

this effect on a grand scale, and with an unheard-of cruelty,

wherever the king's sword and the Church's fire, or both at once,

could reach. By these teachings and examples, continually

repeated and enforced upon public attention, the very minds of

the citizens had been shaped into a new mould. They began to find

no authority too extensive, no killing by degrees too cruel, once

it was "for public safety." And, with this new direction of mind

and this new belief in one man's power, the old federalist

principle faded away, and the very creative genius of the masses

died out. The Roman idea was victorious, and in such

circumstances the centralized State had in the cities a ready


Florence in the fifteenth century is typical of this change.

Formerly a popular revolution was the signal of a new departure.

Now, when the people, brought to despair, insurged, it had

constructive ideas no more; no fresh idea came out of the

movement. A thousand representatives were put into the Communal

Council instead of 400; 100 men entered the signoria instead of

80. But a revolution of figures could be of no avail. The

people's discontent was growing up, and new revolts followed. A

saviour -- the "tyran" -- was appealed to; he massacred the

rebels, but the disintegration of the communal body continued

worse than ever. And when, after a new revolt, the people of

Florence appealed to their most popular man, Gieronimo

Savonarola, for advice, the monk's answer was: -- "Oh, people

mine, thou knowest that I cannot go into State affairs... purify

thy soul, and if in such a disposition of mind thou reformest thy

city, then, people of Florence, thou shalt have inaugurated the

reform in all Italy!" Carnival masks and vicious books were

burned, a law of charity and another against usurers were passed

-- and the democracy of Florence remained where it was. The old

spirit had gone. By too much trusting to government, they had

ceased to trust to themselves; they were unable to open new

issues. The State had only to step in and to crush down their

last liberties.

And yet, the current of mutual aid and support did not die

out in the masses, it continued to flow even after that defeat.

It rose up again with a formidable force, in answer to the

communist appeals of the first propagandists of the reform, and

it continued to exist even after the masses, having failed to

realize the life which they hoped to inaugurate under the

inspiration of a reformed religion, fell under the dominions of

an autocratic power. It flows still even now , and it seeks its

way to find out a new expression which would not be the State,

nor the medieval city, nor the village community of the

barbarians, nor the savage clan, but would proceed from all of

them, and yet be superior to them in its wider and more deeply

humane conceptions.


1 The literature of the subject is immense; but there is no work
yet which treats of the medieval city as of a whole. For the
French Communes, Augustin Thierry's Lettres and Consid?rations
sur l'histoire de France still remain classical, and Luchaire's
Communes fran?aises is an excellent addition on the same lines.
For the cities of Italy, the great work of Sismondi (Histoire des
r?publiques italiennes du moyen ?ge, Paris, 1826, 16 vols.), Leo
and Botta's History of Italy, Ferrari's R?volutions d'Italie, and
Hegel's Geschichte der St?dteverfassung in Italien, are the chief
sources of general information. For Germany we have Maurer's
St?dteverfassung, Barthold's Geschichte der deutschen St?dte,
and, of recent works, Hegel's St?dte und Gilden der germanischen
V?lker (2 vols. Leipzig, 1891), and Dr. Otto Kallsen's Die
deutschen St?dte im Mittelalter (2 vols. Halle, 1891), as also
Janssen's Geschichte des deutschen Volkes (5 vols. 1886), which,
let us hope, will soon be translated into English (French
translation in 1892). For Belgium, A. Wauters, Les Libert?s
communales (Bruxelles, 1869-78, 3 vols.). For Russia, Byelaeff's,
Kostomaroff's and Sergievich's works. And finally, for England,
we posses one of the best works on cities of a wider region in
Mrs. J.R. Green's Town Life in the Fifteenth Century (2 vols.
London, 1894). We have, moreover, a wealth of well-known local
histories, and several excellent works of general or economical
history which I have so often mentioned in this and the preceding
chapter. The richness of literature consists, however, chiefly in
separate, sometimes admirable, researches into the history of
separate cities, especially Italian and German; the guilds; the
land question; the economical principles of the time. the
economical importance of guilds and crafts; the leagues between,
cities (the Hansa); and communal art. An incredible wealth of
information is contained in works of this second category, of
which only some of the more important are named in these pages.
2 Kulischer, in an excellent essay on primitive trade
(Zeitschrift f?r V?lkerpsychologie, Bd. x. 380), also points out
that, according to Herodotus, the Argippaeans were considered
inviolable, because the trade between the Scythians and the
northern tribes took place on their territory. A fugitive was
sacred on their territory, and they were often asked to act as
arbiters for their neighbours. See Appendix XI.
3 Some discussion has lately taken place upon the Weichbild and
the Weichbild-law, which still remain obscure (see Z?pfl,
Alterth?mer des deutschen Reichs und Rechts, iii. 29; Kallsen, i.
316). The above explanation seems to be the more probable, but,
of course, it must be tested by further research. It is also
evident that, to use a Scotch expression, the "mercet cross"
could be considered as an emblem of Church jurisdiction, but we
find it both in bishop cities and in those in which the folkmote
was sovereign.
4 For all concerning the merchant guild see Mr. Gross's
exhaustive work, The Guild Merchant (Oxford, 1890, 2 vols.); also
Mrs. Green's remarks in Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, vol.
ii. chaps. v. viii. x; and A. Doren's review of the subject in
Schmoller's Forschungen, vol. xii. If the considerations
indicated in the previous chapter (according to which trade was
communal at its beginnings) prove to be correct, it will be
permissible to suggest as a probable hypothesis that the guild
merchant was a body entrusted with commerce in the interest of
the whole city, and only gradually became a guild of merchants
trading for themselves; while the merchant adventurers of this
country, the Novgorod povolniki (free colonizers and merchants)
and the mercati personati, would be those to whom it was left to
open new markets and new branches of commerce for themselves.
Altogether, it must be remarked that the origin of the mediaeval
city can be ascribed to no separate agency. It was a result of
many agencies in different degrees.
5 Janssen's Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, i. 315; Gramich's
W?rzburg; and, in fact, any collection of ordinances.
6 Falke, Geschichtliche Statistik, i. 373-393, and ii. 66;
quoted in Janssen's Geschichte, i. 339; J.D. Blavignac, in
Comptes et d?penses de la construction du clocher de
Saint-Nicolas ? Fribourg en Suisse, comes to a similar
conclusion. For Amiens, De Calonne's Vie Municipale, p. 99 and
Appendix. For a thorough appreciation and graphical
representation of the medieval wages in England and their value
in bread and meat, see G. Steffen's excellent article and curves
in The Nineteenth Century for 1891, and Studier ?fver
l?nsystemets historia i England, Stockholm, 1895.
7 To quote but one example out of many which may be found in
Sch?nberg's and Falke's works, the sixteen shoemaker workers
(Schusterknechte) of the town Xanten, on the Rhine, gave, for
erecting a screen and an altar in the church, 75 guldens of
subscriptions, and 12 guldens out of their box, which money was
worth, according to the best valuations, ten times its present
8 Quoted by Janssen, l.c. i. 343.
9 The Economical Interpretation of History, London, 1891, p.
10 Janssen, l.c. See also Dr. Alwin Schultz, Deutsches Leben im
XIV und XV Jahrhundert, grosse Ausgabe, Wien, 1892, pp. 67 seq.
At Paris, the day of labour varied from seven to eight hours in
the winter to fourteen hours in summer in certain trades, while
in others it was from eight to nine hours in winter, to from ten
to twelve in Summer. All work was stopped on Saturdays and on
about twenty-five other days (jours de commun de vile foire) at
four o'clock, while on Sundays and thirty other holidays there
was no work at all. The general conclusion is, that the medieval
worker worked less hours, all taken, than the present-day worker
(Dr. E. Martin Saint-L?on, Histoire des corporations, p. 121).
11 W. Stieda, "Hansische Vereinbarungen ?ber st?dtisches Gewerbe
im XIV und XV Jahrhundert," in Hansische Geschichtsbl?tter,
Jahrgang 1886, p. 121. Sch?nberg's Wirthschaftliche Bedeutung der
Z?nfte; also, partly, Roscher.
12 See Toulmin Smith's deeply-felt remarks about the royal
spoliation of the guilds, in Miss Smith's Introduction to English
Guilds. In France the same royal spoliation and abolition of the
guilds' jurisdiction was begun from 1306, and the final blow was
struck in 1382 (Fagniez, l.c. pp. 52-54).
13 Adam Smith and his contemporaries knew well what they were
condemning when they wrote against the State interference in
trade and the trade monopolies of State creation. Unhappily,
their followers, with their hopeless superficiality, flung
medieval guilds and State interference into the same sack, making
no distinction between a Versailles edict and a guild ordinance.
It hardly need be said that the economists who have seriously
studied the subject, like Sch?nberg (the editor of the well-known
course of Political Economy), never fell into such an error. But,
till lately, diffuse discussions of the above type went on for
economical "science."
14 In Florence the seven minor arts made their revolution in
1270-82, and its results are fully described by Perrens (Histoire
de Florence, Paris, 1877, 3 vols.), and especially by Gino
Capponi (Storia della repubblica di Firenze, 2da edizione, 1876,
i. 58-80; translated into German). In Lyons, on the contrary,
where the movement of the minor crafts took place in 1402, the
latter were defeated and lost the right of themselves nominating
their own judges. The two parties came apparently to a
compromise. In Rostock the same movement took place in 1313; in
Z?rich in 1336; in Bern in 1363; in Braunschweig in 1374, and
next year in Hamburg; in L?beck in 1376-84; and so on. See
Schmoller's Strassburg zur Zeit der Zunftk?mpfe and Strassburg's
Bl?the; Brentano's Arbeitergilden der Gegenwart, 2 vols.,
Leipzig, 1871-72; Eb. Bain's Merchant and Craft Guilds, Aberdeen,
1887, pp. 26-47, 75, etc. As to Mr. Gross's opinion relative to
the same struggles in England, see Mrs. Green's remarks in her
Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, ii. 190-217; also the chapter
on the Labour Question, and, in fact, the whole of this extremely
interesting volume. Brentano's views on the crafts' struggles,
expressed especially in iii. and iv. of his essay "On the History
and Development of Guilds," in Toulmin Smith's English Guilds
remain classical for the subject, and may be said to have been
again and again confirmed by subsequent research.
15 To give but one example -- Cambrai made its first revolution
in 907, and, after three or four more revolts, it obtained its
charter in 1O76. This charter was repealed twice (11O7 and 1138),
and twice obtained again (in 1127 and 1180). Total, 223 years of
struggles before conquering the right to independence. Lyons --
from 1195 to 132O.
16 See Tuetey, "Etude sur Le droit municipal... en
Franche-Comt?," in M?moires de la Soci?t? d'?mulation de
Montb?liard, 2e s?rie, ii. 129 seq.
17 This seems to have been often the case in Italy. In
Switzerland, Bern bought even the towns of Thun and Burgdorf.
18. Such was, at least, the case in the cities of Tuscany
(Florence, Lucca, Sienna, Bologna, etc.), for which the relations
between city and peasants are best known. (Luchitzkiy, "Slavery
and Russian Slaves in Florence," in Kieff University Izvestia for
1885, who has perused Rumohr's Ursprung der Besitzlosigkeit der
Colonien in Toscana, 1830.) The whole matter concerning the
relations between the cities and the peasants requires much more
study than has hitherto been done.
19 Ferrari's generalizations are often too theoretical to be
always correct; but his views upon the part played by the nobles
in the city wars are based upon a wide range of authenticated
20 Only such cities as stubbornly kept to the cause of the
barons, like Pisa or Verona, lost through the wars. For many
towns which fought on the barons' side, the defeat was also the
beginning of liberation and progress.
21 Ferrari, ii. 18, 104 seq.; Leo and Botta, i. 432.
22 Joh. Falke, Die Hansa als Deutsche See- und Handelsmacht,
Berlin, 1863, pp. 31, 55.
23 For Aachen and Cologne we have direct testimony that the
bishops of these two cities -- one of them bought by the enemy
opened to him the gates.
24 See the facts, though not always the conclusions, of Nitzsch,
iii. 133 seq.; also Kallsen, i. 458, etc.
25 On the Commune of the Laonnais, which, until Melleville's
researches (Histoire de la Commune du Laonnais, Paris, 1853), was
confounded with the Commune of Laon, see Luchaire, pp. 75 seq.
For the early peasants' guilds and subsequent unions see R.
Wilman's "Die l?ndlichen Schutzgilden Westphaliens," in
Zeitschrift f?r Kulturgeschichte, neue Folge, Bd. iii., quoted in
Henne-am-Rhyn's Kulturgeschichte, iii. 249.
26 Luchaire, p. 149.
27 Two important cities, like Mainz and Worms, would settle a
political contest by means of arbitration. After a civil war
broken out in Abbeville, Amiens would act, in 1231, as arbiter
(Luchaire, 149); and so on.
28 See, for instance, W. Stieda, Hansische Vereinbarungen, l.c.,
29 Cosmo Innes's Early Scottish History and Scotland in Middle
Ages, quoted by Rev. Denton, l.c., pp. 68, 69; Lamprecht's
Deutsches wirthschaftliche Leben im Mittelalter, review by
Schmoller in his Jahrbuch, Bd. xii.; Sismondi's Tableau de
l'agriculture toscane, pp. 226 seq. The dominions of Florence
could be recognized at a glance through their prosperity.
30 Mr. John J. Ennett (Six Essays, London, 1891) has excellent
pages on this aspect of medieval architecture. Mr. Willis, in his
appendix to Whewell's History of Inductive Sciences (i. 261-262),
has pointed out the beauty of the mechanical relations in
medieval buildings. "A new decorative construction was matured,"
he writes, "not thwarting and controlling, but assisting and
harmonizing with the mechanical construction. Every member, every
moulding, becomes a sustainer of weight; and by the multiplicity
of props assisting each other, and the consequent subdivision of
weight, the eye was satisfied of the stability of the structure,
notwithstanding curiously slender aspects of the separate parts."
An art which sprang out of the social life of the city could not
be better characterized.
31 Dr. L. Ennen, Der Dom zu K?ln, seine Construction und
Anstaltung, K?ln, 1871.
32 The three statues are among the outer decorations of N?tre
Dame de Paris.
33 Medi?val art, like Greek art, did not know those curiosity
shops which we call a National Gallery or a Museum. A picture was
painted, a statue was carved, a bronze decoration was cast to
stand in its proper place in a monument of communal art. It lived
there, it was part of a whole, and it contributed to give unity
to the impression produced by the whole.
34 Cf. J. T. Ennett's "Second Essay," p. 36.
35 Sismondi, iv. 172; xvi. 356. The great canal, Naviglio
Grande, which brings the water from the Tessino, was begun in
1179, i.e. after the conquest of independence, and it was ended
in the thirteenth century. On the subsequent decay, see xvi. 355.
36 In 1336 it had 8,000 to 10,000 boys and girls in its primary
schools, 1,000 to 1,200 boys in its seven middle schools, and
from 550 to 600 students in its four universities. The thirty
communal hospitals contained over 1,000 beds for a population of
90,000 inhabitants (Capponi, ii. 249 seq.). It has more than once
been suggested by authoritative writers that education stood, as
a rule, at a much higher level than is generally supposed.
Certainly so in democratic Nuremberg.
37 Cf. L. Ranke's excellent considerations upon the essence of
Roman Law in his Weltgeschichte, Bd. iv. Abth. 2, pp. 2O-31. Also
Sismondi's remarks upon the part played by the l?gistes in the
constitution of royal authority, Histoire des Fran?ais, Paris,
1826, viii. 85-99. The popular hatred against these "weise
Doktoren und Beutelschneider des Volks" broke out with full force
in the first years of the sixteenth century in the sermons of the
early Reform movement.
38 Brentano fully understood the fatal effects of the struggle
between the "old burghers" and the new-comers. Miaskowski, in his
work on the village communities of Switzerland, has indicated the
same for village communities.
39 The trade in slaves kidnapped in the East was never
discontinued in the Italian republics till the fifteenth century.
Feeble traces of it are found also in Germany and elsewhere. See
Cibrario. Della schiavit? e del servaggio, 2 vols. Milan, 1868;
Professor Luchitzkiy, "Slavery and Russian Slaves in Florence in
the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," in Izvestia of the Kieff
University, 1885.
40 J.R. Green's History of the English People, London, 1878, i.
41 See the theories expressed by the Bologna lawyers, already at
the Congress of Roncaglia in 1158.