1236 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
of Feudalism. Cathedrals and monasteries
took on the relation of sovereigns and vassals.
One city became the suzerain of another.
The king himself was only a feudal lord
of larger growth. Not only landed estates,
but rights, prerogatives, privileges-the surplice fees of the Church, the revenues derived from the baptismal rite, the privilege of fishing in a given river or of cutting
wood in a given forest-all were conceded
by the superior to the inferior after the
feudal manner. The system took complete possession of society, and constrained
every other institution to accept its form,
if not its spirit.
Looking more closely into the social condition of Feudal Europe, we find much of
interest and instruction. Modern times have
been and are still largely influenced by conditions which were native to the soil of
Feudalism. The family of today is essentially feudal in its character and sentiments,
and the nature of land ownership in most
of the states of the West is derived from the
same origin. From these considerations it
may be interesting to sketch in outline the
peculiar organization of the family, the
household, the estate of a feudal baron of
the Middle Ages.
He was himself a warrior. He was ignorant, brave, and gloriously brutal. He came
as the leader of a band out of the North. At
the time of his appearing the inhabitants of
the country were those half-Romanized Celts,
who in the cities and towns had wholly, and
in the country districts partly, substituted the
Latin language and institutions for the primitive usages of their fathers. These once war1 like peoples, long subject to the iron scepter
of Rome, had become tame and timid. They
were trodden under foot by the mighty warriors of the German woods. The work of
subjugation was quickly and easily accomplished. A powerful barbarism sat down with
crushing weight upon the abject Celtic peasantry of Western Europe.
The leader, of this conquering band was
now destined to become a feudal lord. He
settled in the country which he had conquered. He chose for himself an estate with
a limit proportionate to his power and ambition. The inhabitants of these lands,