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History is not an art. To read all the available texts and to report upon them strictly. wherever he has trodden. so that. in which subjective elements have no place. and the faith to abide by it. 11 se peut sans doutte. Drawn instinctively towards the most delicate and the most contested points of history. If every word in the text has been given its due weight. Indeed. After an exhaustive analysis of institutions as presented to us by all the existing documents. a very notable figure passes away from the ranks of historians. their affinities will emerge by a sequence as imperious as that which exists between the flash and report of a cannon.d'elle-meme. His lofty almost contemptuous indeperndencewas due to no vulgar hostility or love of parade. mais il faut qu'elle se degage en naturellement. but the most arduous of sciences. he seems to have changed the centre of gravity. few men have effected more. he was one of those powerful and coherent thinkers who have the force to shape out a path for themselves. XVII. It sprang from a sustained faith in the value of an historical method from which he believed that other historians had departed. the function of the historian.THE ENGLISH REVIEW I890 HISTORICAL NO. he has left everywhere an abundance of new lights. that German history is throughout infected by patriotism. the truth will be disengaged not hypothetically but necessarily. Fustel de Coulanges was not only a man of wide and exact erudition.' he complains. qu'une certaine philosophie se degage de cette histoire scientifique. entitled 'La Maniere d'ecrire l'Histoire en France et en Allemagne. in the eyes of Fustel de Coulanges. He was BYthe . in proportion to the bulk of their writings.-JANUARY FEistelde Coudazges death of Fustel de Coulanges. In an article written for the Revue des deux Mondes in September 1872.he says. presqute dehors de larolonte de l'historien. such was. in tones which are perhaps too rancorous.
three years after Sir Henry Maine's ' Ancient Law. for the widely distributed consequences of some remote force. Although every one of his works was in part. to view them in an unreal and stationary isolation.2 FUSTEL DE COULANGES Jan. In his treatment of institutions he was prone to overlook the political circumstances whiich contributed to their growth arid gave them their distinctive colour. and of exhibiting the process in an attractive and exhilarating form. and was. He is trenchant without bluster.' In 1859 he was named professor suappleantat the Lycee St. a polemic. he was doctor of letters in 1858. if not in entirety. In 1850 he entered the Ecole Normale. that the texts had been insufficiently studied. 'La Cite Antique' appeared in 1864. and that a large amount of interested speculation had been imported to fill up the lacunae. and in 1861 he was appointed to the chair of history at Strassburg. Determined to extract a clear answer from the darkest oracles of the past. Louis. apt to ignore the plurality of causes. and on his exit three years later was named professor of rhetoric at the Lycee of Amiens. and to insist too strongly on those features which appeared to harmonise with his own dominating convictions. of developing the result into all its logical consequences. and to correct the results of German erudition by a fresh and thorough investigation of the texts. Always a clear and incisive writer. a keen logical understanding. he set himself to build up history anew from its very base. The one virtue on which he prided himself. Fustel de Coulanges was born at Paris on 18 March 1830. He possessed important qualifications for the task. animated by a profound belief that the origins of medieval history had been written on wrong lines to serve the ends of Teutonic self-glorification. No one has better understood the art of eliciting the maximum of meaning out of the minimum of text. and untiring industry. presenting for his doctorat the usual two theses. he excelled especially in the exposition and elucidation of texts. in the process of simplification. 'Quid Vestae cultus in institutis veterum privatis publicisque valuerit. Sweeping away the Teutonic tradition. The fact is that Fustel de Coulanges was a logician first and an historian afterwards. He has a wonderful eye for the unity of history. and sustained by a background of intense personal feeling. he often submitted his texts to unwilling tortures. Agrege in 1857. But he missed the complexity of events. that of absolute scientific impartiality.' The subject was suggested by the Latin .' the other in Latin. he rarely departed from that sobriety which is the true note of genius. a subtle sense of nice distinctions both of language and law. for the common properties of institutions. imperious without insolence. one in French entitled 'Polybe ou la Grece conquise par les Romains. is the one virtue which experience does not allow us to assign to those historians who give to burning questions a burning answer.
and certainly there is no higher authority on the social history of the later Roman empire. In 1875 he issued his 'Institutions Politiques de l'Ancienne France. to the tenth century A. He boasted that he was the only scholar who had studied. each worshipping a common ancestor.D. the Solonian revolution and the twelve tables are parallel steps in the break-up of the familiar system. Four works have already appeared as the result of this great labour. pieced together though it largely is by a medley of fragments of dateless and doubtful application. penl in hand. The remarkable cohesion of the family group in early times. and female disabilities were all explicable on the hypothesis that the social evolution of the race was controlled by a particular order of religious belief and observance. It is obvious that in this conception of antiquity.' and in . on the on Solonian otpot. plutocracy. the origin of priestly families-and which infuse a new sap into the great reconstruction of the past. one of those fertilising conceptions which produce on every side a fresh crop of suggestive views-on the lot at Athens. It is a lantern held up from an untried corner. He was then struck by the fact that all the institutions of the ancient Aryan world bore signs of a common origin in the primitive cult of dead ancestors. and submitting each to a rigorous analysis. and democracy. The appearance of the archon and the consul. Between ' La Cite Antique' and the first volume of ' Les Institutions Politiques de l'Ancienne France. But its value depends not so much on the amount of ascertained truth which it may contain. as upon the new angle at which it presents every fact and institution of the ancient world. three of which have been substantially incorporated in later works. each of which marks a point in the progressive decomposition of the primitive family group. the ancient city passed through the successive stages of monarchy. all the Latin texts from the sixth century B.' in 1885 the ' Recherches sur quelques Problemes d'Histoire. broken by occasional contributions to the Reeite des deux Mondes. the primitive inalienability of property. the phenomena of agnation. aristocracy.. to become its director in 1880. there .C. During all these years he had been making an enthusiastic and unintermittent study of all the texts bearing upon Roman and Germanic institutions.is much that is true as well as striking. adoption. From that time onward he had devoted himself to the study of the institutions of Greece and Rome. in the light of which familiar shapes assume new relations. A federal union of patriarchal families.1890 FUSTEL DE CO ULANGES 3 thesis on the cult of Vesta which Fustel sent up for his doctorat six years before.' there elapses a period of eleven years. taking them one by one. In 1870 Fustel de Coulanges was summoned back to the Ecole Normale as professor. and in 1875 he was admitted into the Acad6mie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. which yields to the pressure of a growing non-privileged population. of the strategus and the tribune.
In 'La Cite Antique' Fustel de Coulanges had expressed his opinion that although communism may have been the original form of landed property. M. too. M. received but one answer. whatever it may have been before 1592. J. as far as we are aware. 1888 'La Monarchie Franque.' is still disputable. but he had not. They had eagerly annexed the Russian mir. In 1844. entitled 'L 'Alleu et le Domaine Rural pendant l'Epoque Merovingienne. and his view was worked out in detail by Maurer with reference to Germany. they either boldly identified them with the object of their quest. all accepted the results of the Teutonic theory. The question of the primitive form of landed property had. Sir Henry Maine. but it indicates the line of attack which Fustel de Coulanges afterwards adopted with such great results in another field. into the easy excesses opened out by the new comparative method. With the leaven of Jean-Jacques still fermenting in their brains. while the third. They had run. but if we may judge from the striking work which he never lived to complete. they had confused a positive historical problem with a speculative ethnological hypothesis. and by Nasse with reference to England. Paul Viollet. and verified them from additional sources. received any notable support until Fustel de Coulanges opened up the whole question of the Germanic invasion and the organisation of justice under the Merovingians in articles written to the Revue des deux Mondes in 1871 and 1872. which.' and three more volumes are in preparation. M. and the Javanese sawahs. until quite lately. Kemble asserted that the mark is the original basis upon which all Teutonic society rests. or village common lands. or joint agricultural exploitation. ' Le Benefice de l'Epoque Merovingienne. de Laveleye. Guerard in his prolegomena to the 'Polyptique d'Irminon' had attempted to trace the chief features of the manor to the legislation of the later Roman Empire. there was no existing Greek or Latin text which indicated its existence. or treated them as sure .' will complete the account of the Frank land system. d'Arbois de Jubainville. has ever since that date been subject to a lord. The task which Fustel de Coulanges set himself was strictly critical. The Teutonic school had in the first place overlooked the Roman evidence. In 1848. Wherever they had discovered either joint familiar holdings. two of which.4 FUSTEL DE COULANGES Jan. 'La Gaule Romaine' and IL'Invasion Germanique. or indivisibility of tenure. and had in the second place read the Teutonic documents in the light of national or philosophical prepossessions. The proposition. We have thus not yet reaped the full harvest of Fustel's labours. concerning which the earliest quoted document dates from 1804. the store which is yet in reserve will be a rich one.' Since his death a fourth volume has been published.' will cover in a more matured form the ground occupied by the volume of 1875. M. as it stands in ' La Cite Antique.
never.' in which the structure of the Roman and Merovingian land system is analysed. seventh. had never examined their history or tested their meaning. No one can have read the four volumes which deal with these questions without feeling the immense service which Fustel de Coulanges has renderedto historical inquiry. on the existing textual evidence. and a comprehensive minute study of the institutions which prevailed yet in France during the sixth. and in the no less admirable chapters in 'L'Alleu et le Benefice. both as cultivatorsand as soldiers. so far from imposing their free institutions 'on conqueredGaul. commntnia. ' what do our documentsrelate of the early German?' Fustel de Coulangesaimed at showingthat. It involves a dissection of the Germanic institutions beforethe conquest. the problem must be divested of its dazzling accessories. in historical times at least.many debts which we owe to Fustel de Coulanges. and would in any case have been powerlessto impose them. Criticismsmay be made. It was clear that beforeany sound result could be attained. On the other hand the Germans. Although we may hesitate to believe that the Germansof the fifth century were the debris d'une race epuisee. Although Fustel de Coulanges was wrong in supposing that the pope did not intervene in the concernsof the Merovingian dioceses. and that the Merovingianmonarchyaped the nomenclature of Constantinople.it is not the least that he has traced and accuratelynoted. possessed those institutions. ' what was the primitive state of man ?' but. In the admirable essay on the Colonat. Fustel de Coulanges has satisfactorily established the first half of his contention. or that Clovis ruled as a delegate of the Roman empire.but they are unavailing to shake the solid fabric of his work.on his treatment of evidence. Onthe one hand all the agriculturalcharacteristics of the manor existed under the empire. and are again discoverableunder the earliest Merovingians. The second half is larger and more complex. it is certainly true that Germanshad been settled in Gaul.1890 FUSTEL DE COULANGES 5 indications that the object existed. He has not only recalledsocial history from hasty inferenceand flimsy analogy to the study of the texts. mark. The question for the historian is not. the Teutonic tradition is not only not proven but positively contradicted. and eighth centuries. and those not sparingly. he was right in pointing out that the bishop was always nominated by the king. Among the. through documents covering a period of six cen- . long before the conquest. but he has investigated and largely determined the use of the terminology which serves as its datum.and submittedto critical tests in a narrowedarea.in which he traces the serfdomof the Polyptiquesto its varied origins under the Roman empire. allmend. They relied upon the words but ager.an account of the invasion.
but he is at pains to show how the thing is done. we suspect that the author will owe his opportunityto Fustel de Coulanges. H. L. covnnunia. the varying significance of the terms marca. A. allviend. If ever the worldis to possessa definitiveaccount of the origins of feudalismin France. He has not only written history in his own way.6 FUSTEL DE COULANGEIS Jan. FISHER. He has workednew and untried veins of inquiry.alodis. turies. and has placed every detail of his investigations before the eye of the reader. .
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