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the fifth century to the twelfth, of Germany and Italy from the twelfth to the nineteenth; while even a narrative of more restricted scope, which should attempt to disengage from a general account of the affairs of those countries the events that properly belong to imperial history, could hardly be compressed within reasonable 4 limits. It is therefore better, declining so great a task, to attempt one simpler and more practicable, though not necessarily inferior in interest; to speak less of events than of principles, and endeavor to describe the empire not as a state but as an institution, an institution created by and embodying a wonderful system of ideas. In pursuance of such a plan, the forms which the empire took in the several stages of its growth and decline must be briefly sketched. The characters and acts of the great men who founded, guided, and overthrew 5 it must from time to time be touched upon. But the
chief aim of the treatise will be to dwell more fully on the inner nature of the empire as the most signal instance of the fusion of Roman and Teutonic elements in modern civilization; to show how such a combination was possible; how Charles and Otto were led to revive the imperial title in the West; how far, during the reigns of their successors, it preserved the memory of its origin, and influenced the European commonwealth of 6 nations. Strictly speaking, it is from the year 800 A. D., when a king of the Franks was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III, that the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire must be dated. But in history there is nothing isolated, and, just as to explain a modern act of Parliament or a modern conveyance of lands, we must
back to the feudal customs of the thirteenth century, so among the institutions of the Middle Ages there is scarcely one which can be understood until it is traced
ap either to classical or to primitive Teutonic antiquity. Such a mode of inquiry is most of all needful in the case of the Holy Empire, itself no more than a tradition, a fancied revival of departed glories. And thus, in order 7 to make it clear out of what elements the imperial system was formed, we might be required to scrutinize the antiquities of the Christian Church; to survey the constitution of Rome in the days when Rome was no more than the first of the Latin cities; nay, to travel back yet further to that Jewish theocratic policy whose influence on the minds of the mediæval priesthood was necessarily so profound. Practically, however, it may suffice to begin by glancing at the condition of the Roman world in the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era. We shall then see the old empire with its scheme of ab-8 solutism fully matured; we shall mark how the new religion, rising in the midst of a hostile power, ends by embracing and transforming it; and we shall be in a position to understand what impression the whole huge fabric of secular and ecclesiastical government which Roman and Christian had piled up made upon the barbarian tribes who pressed into the charmed circle of the ancient civilization.
THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE-ITS INFLUENCE UPON
This extract is also from Bryce's admirable work. How inexhaustible the influence of Rome! It is still active as one of the determining elements in our modern historical life. Its laws, its language, have entered into the very heart of Christian civilization. All history centers around it, nearly all the distinctive elements of our intellectual and political life have descended from it, or have
passed through it, in the process of transmission. See Freeman's “Essays,” Niebuhr's “Rome," Arnold's “ History of Rome,” Gibbon's " Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Milman's “ History of Latin Christianity," Merivale's “Romans under the Empire.”
1 No one who reads the history of the last three hundred years, no one, above all, who studies attentively the career of Napoleon, can believe it possible for any state, however great her energy and material resources, to repeat in modern Europe the part of ancient Rome; to gather into one vast political body races whose national individuality has grown more and more marked in each successive age. Nevertheless, it is in great measure due to Rome and to the Roman Empire of the Middle Ages that the bonds of national union are on the whole both stronger and nobler than they were ever before. The latest historian of Rome, after summing up the results to the world of his hero's career, closes his treatise with
these words: 2 “There was in the world as Cæsar found it the rich and noble heritage of past centuries, and an endless abundance of splendor and glory, but little soul, still less taste, and, least of all, joy in and through life. Truly it was an old world, and even Cæsar's genial patriotism could not make it young again. The blush of dawn returns not until the night has fully descended. Yet with him there came to the much-tormented races of the Mediterranean a tranquil evening after a sultry day; and when, after long historical night, the new day broke once more upon the peoples, and fresh nations in free, self-guided movement began their course toward new and higher aims, many were found among them in whom the seed of Cæsar had sprung up, many who owed him, and who owe him still, their national individuality.” 3 If this be the glory of Julius, the first great founder
of the empire, so is it also the glory of Charlemagne, the second founder, and of more than one among his Teutonic successors. The work of the mediæval empire was self-destructive; and it fostered, while seeming to oppose, the nationalities that were destined to replace it. It tamed the barbarous races of the North, and forced them within the pale of civilization. It preserved the arts and literature of antiquity. In times of violence and oppression, it set before its subjects the duty of rational obedience to an authority whose watchwords were peace and religion. It kept alive, when national hatreds were most bitter, the notion of a great European commonwealth. And, by doing all this, it was in effect abolishing the 4 need for a centralizing and despotic power like itself; it was making men capable of using national independence aright; it was teaching them to rise to that conception of spontaneous activity, and a freedom which is above law but not against it, to which national independence itself, if it is to be a blessing at all, must be only a means.
Those who mark what has been the tendency of 5 events since A. D. 1789, and who remember how many of the crimes and calamities of the past are still but half redressed, need not be surprised to see the so-called principle of nationalities advocated with honest devotion as the final and perfect form of political development. But such undistinguishing advocacy is, after all, only the old error in a new shape. If all other history did not bid us beware the habit of taking the problems and the conditions of our own age for those of all time, the warning which the empire gives might alone be warning enough. From the days of Augustus down to those of Charles V, 6 the whole civilized world believed in its existence as a part of the eternal fitness of things, and Christian theologians were not behind heathen poets in declaring that
when it perished the world would perish with it. Yet the empire is gone, and the world remains, and hardly notes the change. This is but a small part of what might be said upon an almost inexhaustible theme-inexhaustible not from its extent but from its profundity-not because there is so much to say, but because, pursue we it never so far, more will remain unexpressed, since incapable of expression. For that which it is at once most necessary and least easy to do, is to look at the empire as a whole; a single institution, in which centers the history of eighteen centuries, whose outer form is the same, while its essence and spirit are constantly changing. It is when we come to consider it in this light that the difficulties of so vast a subject are felt in all their force. Try to explain in words the theory and inner meaning of the Holy Empire, as it appeared to the saints and poets of the Middle Ages, and that which we can not but conceive as noble and fertile in its life sinks into a heap of barren and scarcely intelligible formulas. Who has been able to describe the Papacy in the power it once wielded over the hearts and imaginations of men ? 8 Those persons, if such there still be, who see in it nothing but a gigantic upas-tree of fraud and superstition, planted and reared by the enemy of mankind, are hardly further from entering into the mystery of its being than the complacent political philosopher, who explains in neat phrases the process of its growth, analyzes it as a clever piece of mechanism, enumerates and measures the interests it appealed to, and gives, in conclusion, a sort of tabular view of its results for good and for evil. 9 So, too, is the Holy Empire above all description or explanation ; not that it is impossible to discover the beliefs which created and sustained it, but that the power of those beliefs can not be adequately apprehended by