Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
By John J. Lalor
NEITHER American nor English literature has hitherto possessed a Cyclopædia of Political Science and Political Economy. The want of a work of reference on these important branches of knowledge has long been felt, especially by lawyers, journalists, members of our state and national legislatures, and the large and intelligent class of capitalists and business men who give serious thought to the political and social questions of the day. The present work, which will be completed in three volumes, is the first to supply that want. It is also the first Political History of the United States in encyclopædic form—the first to which the reader can refer for an account of the important events or facts in our political history, as he would to a dictionary for the precise meaning of a word. The French, the Germans and even the Italians are richer in works of reference on political science and political economy than the Americans or the English. The Germans have Rotteck and Welcker’s
Staatslexikon, and Bluntschli and Brater’s
Staatswörterbuch; the French, Block’s
Dictionnaire Général de la Politique, and the celebrated
Dictionnaire de l’Economie Politique, edited by Guillaumin and Coquelin.The “Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States” is intended to be to the American and English reader what the above-named works are to French and German students of political science and political economy. The articles by foreigners in our work are largely translations from the
Dictionnaire de l’Economie Politique, the
Dictionnaire Général de la Politique, the
Staatswörterbuch, and original articles by Mr. T. E. Cliffe Leslie, the eminent English economist; while the American articles are by the best American and Canadian writers on political economy and political science. The task of writing the articles on the political history of the United States was confided to one person, Mr. Alexander Johnston, of Norwalk, Connecticut, thoroughness, conciseness and the absence of repetition and of redundancy being thus secured…. [From the Preface]
First Pub. Date
New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Originally printed in 3 volumes. Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
The text of this edition is in the public domain.
- V.1, Entry 1, ABDICATION
- V.1, Entry 2, ABOLITION AND ABOLITIONISTS
- V.1, Entry 3, ABSENTEEISM
- V.1, Entry 4, ABSOLUTE POWER
- V.1, Entry 5, ABSOLUTISM
- V.1, Entry 6, ABSTENTION
- V.1, Entry 7, ABUSES IN POLITICS
- V.1, Entry 8, ABYSSINIA
- V.1, Entry 9, ACADEMIES
- V.1, Entry 10, ACADEMIES
- V.1, Entry 11, ACCLAMATION
- V.1, Entry 12, ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH
- V.1, Entry 13, ACT
- V.1, Entry 14, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 15, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 16, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 17, ADAMS
- V.1, Entry 18, ADJOURNMENT
- V.1, Entry 19, ADMINISTRATION
- V.1, Entry 20, ADMINISTRATIONS
- V.1, Entry 21, AFRICA
- V.1, Entry 22, AGE
- V.1, Entry 23, AGENT
- V.1, Entry 24, AGENTS
- V.1, Entry 25, AGIO
- V.1, Entry 26, AGIOTAGE
- V.1, Entry 27, AGRICULTURE
- V.1, Entry 28, ALABAMA
- V.1, Entry 29, ALABAMA CLAIMS
- V.1, Entry 30, ALASKA
- V.1, Entry 31, ALBANY PLAN OF UNION
- V.1, Entry 32, ALBANY REGENCY
- V.1, Entry 33, ALCALDE
- V.1, Entry 34, ALCOHOL
- V.1, Entry 35, ALGERIA
- V.1, Entry 36, ALGERINE WAR
- V.1, Entry 37, ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS
- V.1, Entry 38, ALIENS
- V.1, Entry 39, ALLEGIANCE
- V.1, Entry 40, ALLEGIANCE
- V.1, Entry 41, ALLIANCE
- V.1, Entry 42, ALLIANCE
- V.1, Entry 43, ALLOYAGE
- V.1, Entry 44, ALMANACH DE GOTHA
- V.1, Entry 45, ALSACE-LORRAINE
- V.1, Entry 46, AMBASSADOR
- V.1, Entry 47, AMBITION
- V.1, Entry 48, AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
- V.1, Entry 49, AMERICA
- V.1, Entry 50, AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE
- V.1, Entry 51, AMERICAN PARTY
- V.1, Entry 52, AMERICAN WHIGS
- V.1, Entry 53, AMES
- V.1, Entry 54, AMISTAD CASE
- V.1, Entry 55, AMNESTY
- V.1, Entry 56, AMNESTY
- V.1, Entry 57, ANAM
- V.1, Entry 58, ANARCHY
- V.1, Entry 59, ANCIEN RÉGIME
- V.1, Entry 60, ANDORRA
- V.1, Entry 61, ANHALT
- V.1, Entry 62, ANNEXATION
- V.1, Entry 63, ANNEXATIONS
- V.1, Entry 64, ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY
- V.1, Entry 65, ANTI-MASONRY
- V.1, Entry 66, ANTI-NEBRASKA MEN
- V.1, Entry 67, ANTI-RENTERS
- V.1, Entry 68, ANTI-SLAVERY.
- V.1, Entry 69, APPORTIONMENT
- V.1, Entry 70, APPROPRIATION.
- V.1, Entry 71, APPROPRIATIONS
- V.1, Entry 72, ARBITRAGE
- V.1, Entry 73, ARBITRARY ARRESTS
- V.1, Entry 74, ARBITRARY POWER
- V.1, Entry 75, ARBITRATION
- V.1, Entry 76, ARCHONS
- V.1, Entry 77, AREOPAGUS.
- V.1, Entry 78, ARGENTINE CONFEDERATION
- V.1, Entry 79, ARISTOCRACY.
- V.1, Entry 80, ARISTOCRATIC AND DEMOCRATIC IDEAS.
- V.1, Entry 81, ARITHMETIC
- V.1, Entry 82, ARIZONA
- V.1, Entry 83, ARKANSAS
- V.1, Entry 84, ARMISTICE
- V.1, Entry 85, ARMIES
- V.1, Entry 86, ARMY
- V.1, Entry 87, ARTHUR
- V.1, Entry 88, ARTISANS
- V.1, Entry 89, ARYAN RACES.
- V.1, Entry 90, ASIA
- V.1, Entry 91, ASSEMBLY (IN U. S. HISTORY)
- V.1, Entry 92, ASSESSMENTS
- V.1, Entry 93, ASSIGNATS
- V.1, Entry 94, ASSOCIATION AND ASSOCIATIONS
- V.1, Entry 95, ASYLUM
- V.1, Entry 96, ATELIERS NATIONAUX
- V.1, Entry 97, ATTAINDER
- V.1, Entry 98, ATTORNEYS GENERAL
- V.1, Entry 99, AUSTRALIA
- V.1, Entry 100, AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
- V.1, Entry 101, AUTHORITY
- V.1, Entry 102, AUTHORS
- V.1, Entry 103, AUTOCRAT
- V.1, Entry 104, AUTONOMY.
- V.1, Entry 105, AYES AND NOES
- V.1, Entry 106, BADEN
- V.1, Entry 107, BALANCE OF POWER
- V.1, Entry 108, BALANCE OF TRADE
- V.1, Entry 109, BALLOT
- V.1, Entry 110, BANK CONTROVERSIES
- V.1, Entry 111, BANKING
- V.1, Entry 112, BANK NOTES.
- V.1, Entry 113, BANKRUPTCY.
- V.1, Entry 114, BANKRUPTCY, National.
- V.1, Entry 115, BANKS.
- V.1, Entry 116, BANKS, Functions of.
- V.1, Entry 117, BANKS OF ISSUE
- V.1, Entry 118, BANKS, Advantages of Savings.
- V.1, Entry 119, BANKS, History and Management of Savings,
- V.1, Entry 120, BAR
- V.1, Entry 121, BARNBURNERS
- V.1, Entry 122, BARRICADE
- V.1, Entry 123, BARTER.
- V.1, Entry 124, BASTILLE
- V.1, Entry 125, BAVARIA
- V.1, Entry 126, BELGIUM
- V.1, Entry 127, BELL
- V.1, Entry 128, BELLIGERENTS
- V.1, Entry 129, BENTON
- V.1, Entry 130, BERLIN DECREE
- V.1, Entry 131, BILL
- V.1, Entry 132, BILL OF EXCHANGE
- V.1, Entry 133, BILL OF RIGHTS
- V.1, Entry 134, BILLION
- V.1, Entry 135, BILLS
- V.1, Entry 136, BI-METALLISM.
- V.1, Entry 137, BIRNEY
- V.1, Entry 138, BLACK COCKADE
- V.1, Entry 139, BLACK CODE.
- V.1, Entry 140, BLACK REPUBLICAN.
- V.1, Entry 141, BLAINE
- V.1, Entry 142, BLAIR
- V.1, Entry 143, BLOCKADE
- V.1, Entry 144, BLOODY BILL
- V.1, Entry 145, BLUE LAWS
- V.1, Entry 146, BLUE LIGHT
- V.1, Entry 147, BOARD OF TRADE.
- V.1, Entry 148, BOLIVIA
- V.1, Entry 149, BOOTY
- V.1, Entry 150, BORDER RUFFIANS
- V.1, Entry 151, BORDER STATES
- V.1, Entry 152, BOURGEOISIE
- V.1, Entry 153, BOUTWELL
- V.1, Entry 154, BRAHMANISM.
- V.1, Entry 155, BRAZIL
- V.1, Entry 156, BRECKENRIDGE
- V.1, Entry 157, BROAD SEAL WAR
- V.1, Entry 158, BROKERS
- V.1, Entry 159, BROOKS
- V.1, Entry 160, BROWN
- V.1, Entry 161, BUCHANAN
- V.1, Entry 162, BUCKSHOT WAR
- V.1, Entry 163, BUCKTAILS
- V.1, Entry 164, BUDDHISM
- V.1, Entry 165, BUDGET
- V.1, Entry 166, BULL
- V.1, Entry 167, BUNDESRATH
- V.1, Entry 168, BUREAUCRACY
- V.1, Entry 169, BURGESSES
- V.1, Entry 170, BURLINGAME
- V.1, Entry 171, BURR
- V.1, Entry 172, BUTLER, Benj. F.
- V.1, Entry 173, BUTLER, William Orlando
- V.1, Entry 174, CACHET
- V.1, Entry 175, CÆSARISM
- V.1, Entry 176, CALENDAR
- V.1, Entry 177, CALHOUN
- V.1, Entry 178, CALIFORNIA
- V.1, Entry 179, CANADA
- V.1, Entry 180, CANALS
- V.1, Entry 181, CANON LAW
- V.1, Entry 182, CAPITAL
- V.1, Entry 183, CAPITAL
- V.1, Entry 184, CAPITULATION
- V.1, Entry 185, CARICATURE
- V.1, Entry 186, CARPET BAGGERS
- V.1, Entry 187, CARTEL
- V.1, Entry 188, CASS
- V.1, Entry 189, CASUS BELLI
- V.1, Entry 190, CAUCUS
- V.1, Entry 191, CAUCUS SYSTEM
- V.1, Entry 192, CAUSE AND EFFECT IN POLITICS.
- V.1, Entry 193, CELIBACY, Clerical
- V.1, Entry 194, CELIBACY, Political Aspects of.
- V.1, Entry 195, CELTS.
- V.1, Entry 196, CENSURE.
- V.1, Entry 197, CENSURE OF MORALS.
- V.1, Entry 198, CENSURES
- V.1, Entry 199, CENSUS.
- V.1, Entry 200, CENTRALIZATION and DECENTRALIZATION.
- V.1, Entry 201, CEREMONIAL
- V.1, Entry 202, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
- V.1, Entry 203, CHARGÉ D'AFFAIRES.
- V.1, Entry 204, CHARITY, Private.
- V.1, Entry 205, CHARITY, Public.
- V.1, Entry 206, CHARITY, State.
- V.1, Entry 207, CHASE
- V.1, Entry 208, CHECKS AND BALANCES.
- V.1, Entry 209, CHEROKEE CASE
- V.1, Entry 210, CHESAPEAKE CASE.
- V.1, Entry 211, CHILI.
- V.1, Entry 212, CHINA
- V.1, Entry 213, CHINESE IMMIGRATION.
- V.1, Entry 214, CHIVALRY.
- V.1, Entry 215, CHRISTIANITY.
- V.1, Entry 216, CHURCH AND STATE
- V.1, Entry 217, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 218, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 219, CHURCH
- V.1, Entry 220, CHURCHES AND RELIGIONS
- V.1, Entry 221, CHURCHES
- V.1, Entry 222, CINCINNATI
- V.1, Entry 223, CIPHER DISPATCHES AND DECIPHERMENT
- V.1, Entry 224, CIRCULATION OF WEALTH.
- V.1, Entry 225, CITIES
- V.1, Entry 226, CITIES AND TOWNS.
- V.1, Entry 227, CIVIL ADMINISTRATION
- V.1, Entry 228, CIVIL LIST.
- V.1, Entry 229, CIVIL RIGHTS BILL
- V.1, Entry 230, CIVIL SERVICE REFORM
- V.1, Entry 231, CIVILIZATION
- V.1, Entry 232, CLAY
- V.1, Entry 233, CLEARING, AND CLEARING HOUSES
- V.1, Entry 234, CLERICALISM
- V.1, Entry 235, CLIENTÈLE AND CUSTOM
- V.1, Entry 236, CLIMATE
- V.1, Entry 237, CLIMATE
- V.1, Entry 238, CLINTON
- V.1, Entry 239, CLINTON, George
- V.1, Entry 240, CL�TURE
- V.1, Entry 241, COASTING TRADE
- V.1, Entry 242, COCHIN CHINA
- V.1, Entry 243, COINAGE
- V.1, Entry 244, COLFAX
- V.1, Entry 245, COLONIZATION SOCIETY
- V.1, Entry 246, COLORADO
- V.1, Entry 247, COLOMBIA
- V.1, Entry 248, COMMERCE.
- V.1, Entry 249, COMMERCIAL CRISES
- V.1, Entry 250, COMMISSION
- V.1, Entry 251, COMMITTEES
- V.1, Entry 252, COMMON LAW
- V.1, Entry 253, COMMONS
- V.1, Entry 254, COMMUNE
- V.1, Entry 255, COMMUNISM
- V.1, Entry 256, COMPETITION.
- V.1, Entry 257, COMPROMISES
- V.1, Entry 258, COMPULSORY CIRCULATION
- V.1, Entry 259, COMPULSORY EDUCATION
- V.1, Entry 260, CONCESSION
- V.1, Entry 261, CONCLAVE.
- V.1, Entry 262, CONCLUSUM
- V.1, Entry 284, CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES
- V.1, Entry 301, CONVENTION
- V.1, Entry 375, DISTILLED SPIRITS
- V.1, Entry 384, DOMINION OF CANADA
- V.2, Entry 7, EDUCATION
- V.2, Entry 18, EMBARGO
- V.2, Entry 33, EXCHANGE
- V.2, Entry 35, EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS
- V.2, Entry 37, EXCHANGE OF WEALTH
- V.2, Entry 121, GREAT BRITAIN
- V.2, Entry 130, HABEAS CORPUS
- V.2, Entry 180, INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION AND CONCILIATION
- V.2, Entry 225, JUSTICE, Department of
- V.2, Entry 246, LAW
- V.2, Entry 364, NEW GRANADA
- V.2, Entry 379, NULLIFICATION
- V.3, Entry 4, OCEANICA
- V.3, Entry 29, PARIS MONETARY CONFERENCE
- V.3, Entry 32, PARLIAMENTARY LAW.
- V.3, Entry 116, RACES OF MANKIND
- V.3, Entry 137, REPUBLICAN PARTY
- V.3, Entry 155, ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
- V.3, Entry 195, SLAVERY
- V.3, Entry 278, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- V. 2, List of Writers
- V. 3, List of Writers
- V. 3, List of American Writers
CHIVALRY. It was not in the middle ages that the word knight made its first appearance in the language of politics. The small cities of Greece and the republic of Rome had their knights. They formed a distinct class in the state, and in some respects had a faint resemblance to the knights of the middle ages. We find the spirit of chivalry, as the unselfish prompter of valiant deeds and of heroism, in the most dissimilar nations and ages. It is characteristic of a certain period in the life of most nations; the period of transition from a barbarous state to a more refined civilization. During this period, while retaining to some extent the savage grandeur of the previous age, nations begin to acquire the graces of the other. For instance, chivalry shed some light on the Arabs before Mohammed appeared. Mr. Ampère calls attention to it in the poems of the Radjastan. Hallam sees in Homer’s Achilles the model of chivalry in its most general form. Heeren finds in Godfrey of Bouillon, the Agamemnon of an army having in Tancred, Raymond, and Boemond, its Achilles, Diomedes and Ulysses. Greece, in the time of its glory, conceived Hercules as a sort of knight-errant and righter of wrongs. But the feudal system alone gave rise to, and has the right to claim chivalry as its own, that is, the perfect development of the spirit of chivalry in an institution peculiar to itself. What then, is chivalry, as Montesquieu calls it, “the marvelous system of chivalry,” which according to Hallam, was “the best school of moral discipline that appeared in the middle ages;” and which Mr. Ampère alludes to as “the greatest moral and social event between the establishment of Christianity which produced it and the outbreak of the French revolution which utterly destroyed it”? The question is not easily answered. Many causes, impossible for us to allude to here, have contributed to obscure the subject. There are two kinds of chivalry. First comes primitive, hereditary chivalry. It can not be clearly distinguished from feudalism; or rather it
is feudalism, armed feudalism. It is the true
militia, properly speaking, what the French call the
ancien ordre. It was composed of the old crown vassals, holding their fiefs direct from the crown before the final establishment, of the feudal hierarchy, and all the titled gentlemen from dukes to barons inclusive. They were
milites per naturam, generositate sanguinis. In Spain they existed too. They were the ”
Ricos hombres,” ”
Ricos hombres de natura.” This chivalry had its esquires, valets and varlets, also esquires by birth, with the name of their fiefs, for which they rendered a special service. They were rear vassals, brought into existence by the large increase in the number of fiefs, nobles provided with the benefices by the great barons, freemen and allodial proprietors who were included in the feudal system when the latter extended to all who owned land.
—The other chivalry is the
nova militia; the
militaris honos, as opposed to the
genus militaire, the
militiæ cingulum, the order of chivalry. It is the chivalry of honor, of the accollade, and is personal, not hereditary. As time passed, people came gradually to consider it as the recompense of courage or merit. Its first recruits were from among the vassals already alluded to, the nobles of inferior rank, or esquires, who could thus be made knights without changing the nature of their fiefs, and rose in the feudal hierarchy by personal merit. This chivalry also admitted into its ranks hereditary knights who, however, were not full knights until they were able to bear arms.
—It is of this second species of chivalry that we wish to say a few words here. Its cradle, as that of all great institutions, is veiled in obscurity. It first saw the light in “France, the classic land of chivalry.” (Hallam.) It grew in the shade, spontaneously, the natural development of various germs planted in modern society. When first noticed it had actually been in existence for a long time. Some elements borrowed
from the manners, traditions and ideas of ancient Germany supplied its military foundation, its very substance, so to speak. Religion soon claimed it as her own, aiming to direct it toward a noble and moral end, and to make it an instrument of order and a means of social improvement. Gallantry, in turn, with the worship of woman, with love and the muses, left its imprint upon it, giving it grace, brilliancy, originality and polish.
—Tacitus tells us of an ancient custom which existed in the forests of Germany. When a youth was old enough to bear arms his father, or his next of kin, handed him the sword and buckler in presence of the council of the tribe. The German conquerors never gave up this custom. Under the feudal system the court of the feudal castle took the place of the council of the tribe, the lord paramount succeeded the barbarian chieftain and conferred the new dignity, not only upon his own son, but upon the young vassals brought up in his household, who were proud of receiving it from the hands of the suzerain, surrounded by their companions. The two ceremonies are in fact the same. Such was chivalry.
—Knighthood consisted essentially in admission to the rank and honors of the warrior, in the solemn delivery of arms and giving of emblems of warlike life. This was its origin. (Guizot.) From the beginning of the ninth century certain religious rights accompanied the investiture of the knight, and at the end of the tenth century the ceremony was, in its principal features, what we find it later. Chivalry soon received a wonderful impetus from the crusades. They developed all its latent germs and made it a religious institution, especially devoted to the defense of the faith. Chivalry thoroughly organized in the twelfth century, had spread from France to all the states of western Europe, England, Germany, Italy and Spain. Its leading features remained the same in all these countries, but its minor characteristics and its fortunes varied. It even penetrated to the east for a while, but the conditions being unfavorable, its existence there was of brief duration.
—We do not care to enter into all the details of a knightly education. We know that the youthful aspirant was taken from the government of women at 7 years of age. He passed the next 14 years of his life either in the home of his father’s suzerain, or in that of some distinguished knight. The first 7 years he spent as a page, the remaining 7 as an esquire. During all this time he performed menial duties, which were not considered any disgrace by the nations of Germanic origin. The esquire, at least in early times, was dubbed a knight at 21 years of age, the age at which noblemen attained their majority. Sometimes high birth, or tried courage, enabled him to anticipate this age. As a rule he postponed assuming the belt until later, or else abandoned the idea altogether, either hoping that some brilliant exploit would shed lustre on his knighthood, or because his poverty made it impossible for him to meet the expense. As we have seen, there is no doubt that the honor was, at first, almost exclusively conferred, by the suzerain, within the walls of his castle. And the writers of the middle ages liked to compare the investiture of knighthood with that of a fief or homage, even to the conferring of holy orders. When chivalry afterward loosened the ties that bound it to feudalism, periods of great public solemnity, tournaments, festivity at the coronation of kings, or at the baptism or marriage of princes, were selected for the investiture of knighthood. In accordance with the taste of the time, the ceremonies accompanying the conferring of knighthood had a deeply symbolic character. They pictured, in noble and poetic rites, the tasks and duties of a knightly career. These ceremonies varied, in their details, with the country and the age; but, while they were performed, their leading features remained the same. When the esquire had taken the prescribed bath, and performed the vigil of arms, the weapons he was to carry were committed to his keeping. The lance and sword were the special emblems of his new dignity. Then his sponsor, that is, the person who was to introduce him to the order, struck him on the neck with the flat of his sword. This was the accolade. Henceforth the knight was said to be dubbed. Then the priest performed his part. Suiting his speech to the occasion he reminded the new knight of the obligations he was under. To these the latter, in a solemn oath, swore to remain faithful. He swore to defend the right, to protect the defenseless, widows and orphans, and to succor the oppressed. He was to be “humble to the lowly,” valiant, loyal, gentle, courteous, generous and modest; he was to keep his plighted word, to love truth, and to be just in all things. The mediæval idea of a knight was the embodiment of all that was noble and warlike. He united in his person all the qualities, all the virtues, all the graces which constitute the moral perfection of a man of the higher classes. This was of course only an unattainable ideal, and but a few chosen ones ever attempted to attain it. The majority made no effort in that direction. Yet the fact of this ideal being impressed on men’s imaginations at that time had a tendency to raise the average of character, and to prevent the sentiment of honor and of right from being obliterated from a society ruled by force and violence. The words with which Renan describes the nations of Indo European origin, apply more particularly to the knights of the middle ages:
A race capable of self-sacrifice, and preferring many things to life.
—Knighthood was not always conferred with such ceremonies as we have attempted to describe. Knights were often, more especially toward the close of the feudal period, created in great numbers on the battle field, either before engaging in battle in order to excite their valor, or afterward to reward it. There the accolade alone sufficed. Little by little this custom gained ground, and, in the fifteenth century, the rites of investiture were discarded.
—The education of the knight was not over by any means, when the belt encircled his loins. He completed it in time of war on the field of battle. In time of peace he perfected himself in all those martial exercises which were used in warfare. These exercises were always bloody and dangerous. They constituted in great part the military pageant called a tournament, which Saint Palaye compares to the French
camps de plaisance in which the knights were alternately encouraged by the example of princes, and hampered by their decrees; but which the church, though in vain, never ceased to oppose with all the influence and spiritual power at its command, as bloody games where cruelty vied with license.
—But the tournament was not a mere military school. any more than was chivalry itself a purely military institution. Chivalry was the embodiment of the feelings and customs which left their imprint on the middle ages. The tournaments illustrated this in the most striking manner. They were great feasts, “the drama of chivalry,” as Hallam calls them; and soon became chivalry itself. All the luxury and magnificence of the middle ages were displayed on these occasions. The ladies, though hesitatingly at first, soon attended them in great numbers, excited the valor of the contestants, acted as judges, distributed the rewards, and there exercised their undisputed power. This feature was the crowning glory of chivalry, its brightest ornament, and, in the end, its greatest danger.
—Compared with what it was in antiquity, the condition of woman had very much improved in the new society formed by feudalism. Many causes combined to produce this transformation. The German conquerors had only to consult the traditions of their race to find evidence of a profound respect for women among their ancestors. This respect had been strengthened by the isolated life of families living on their estates; and the dignified position held by the lady of the castle. Christianity gave it a character of greater gentleness and tenderness, and the worship of the Virgin, more than anything else, cast around it a halo of mysticism. This tender and austere respect for woman, carried to an extreme, no longer found satisfactory expression, and gallantry, of which more refined and at the same time more dissolute southern France furnished in its manners and customs and in the troubadours who had formed them, the most captivating and dangerous example. Chivalry accepted henceforward the dogma, that the man who was faithful both to God and to his love could count on happiness here below and heavenly joys hereafter. A vigorous aristocratic literature, eagerly devoured in the feudal castles into which it penetrated, contributed largely to the spread of this dubious species of mysticism. How far did people go in the path thus entered on? The character of knightly love has been the subject of much controversy. Perhaps no subject in the history of chivalry is as difficult or delicate. Each side has furnished proofs in support of its opinion. The testimony is voluminous and contradictory, and varies with the country, the time, and the national character, according as it was warlike and sensual, or chaste and pure. The literature of chivalry was always of a high character as compared to the depraved cynicism and low satire of the stories and the metrical tales of the troubadours. Two powers struggled to control this literature: the church, which, after vainly trying to suppress it, endeavored to make it its own and to use it in the interests of morality; and the world, which sought in it the interpreter of its passions. Whatever may be said on the subject, the prevalent looseness of morals can not be denied. Should the teachings of chivalry bear the undivided responsibility of these disorders? It would be unjust to say so. A portion of them is no doubt due to causes always in action, and another portion to the violence characteristic of that particular age, and which chivalry certainly contributed to temper. It introduced delicacy where it could not introduce purity. But it can not be denied that the amorous scholasticism, professed by poets and romancers, puerile subtlety and inordinate curiosity peculiar to the middle ages aggravated the evil and contributed to the deterioration of morals.
—We find chivalry heroic “and even a little barbarous” in the twelfth century; austere in Godfrey de Bouillon, brilliant and ornate in Richard Cœur de Lion. It attained the height of its development in the thirteenth century. Here we find all the graces, all the glories and all the virtues that adorn it combined in noble harmony and proper equilibrium. It began to decline in the fourteenth century. It was doomed, but died slowly. It passed away because it had no longer any reason to exist. It had become a useless instrument, out of harmony with the spirit of the times, not able to meet its requirements. The great national wars which developed a new patriotism entirely opposed to that of chivalry, the predominance of infantry, and the invention of gunpower, destroyed chivalry. When the knights, beaten at Courtray by the Flemish burghers, and at Creçy by the English infantry, fought on foot at Poitiers, Cocherel, Auray and Agincourt, chivalry had ceased to exist. The military hierarchy, with the king at its head, destroyed the hierarchy of chivalry. When the military organization of knighthood and the feudal system disappeared, the spirit of chivalry based upon them soon followed. The fading lustre of the great institution brightened for a moment before it passed away, and seemed to the inexperienced eye more full of life than ever. But this was a deception. The old rules were ignored. The rude discipline to which the youth had submitted who wished to carry the lance, and the tedious novitiate of knighthood, had long been neglected. The distinguishing badges of rank were no longer worn. Sentiment became false and a pretense for over-refinement. Devotion to the fair sex and gallantry turned to folly. When the great satirists
who appeared at the beginning of modern times—Rabelais, Ariosto and Cervantes—treated with scorn or ridicule the beloved heroes of a previous generation, their shafts were aimed more at the degenerate literature of chivalry than at an institution that could never be resuscitated.
—But in the last period of chivalry heroes appeared whose great prowess and nobility of character might stand a comparison with any in former ages: Walter Manny and John Chandos, and, later, Talbot and Suffolk in England, Duguesclin and Boucicaut, and Lahire, Dunois, and Xaintrailles in France. With Bayard the list is about ended. Francis I., after just receiving the accolade from the knight “without fear and without reproach,” on the very day of the battle of Marignan, excuses himself to the marshal of Fleuranges for offering to knight him. “I well know,” said the king, “that after the many battles you have been in you do not care to be knighted, but I have been made a knight myself to-day. Please accept the same honor at my hands.” Henry IV. of France, a little later, in 1590, seemed to seek an excuse to make Sully a knight, saying, “I wish to embrace you and declare you a true and faithful knight, not so much with the accolade, which I now give you, nor with the order of St. Michael, or of the Holy Ghost, as with my heartfelt and sincere affection.” What need had a man to ask the king for what he could take himself? Any gentleman of ancient noble lineage who had knights among his ancestors had a generally recognized right to the title. The word knight had gradually come to be used to designate the lowest title of nobility, coming immediately after that of baron. The orders of court chivalry, coming into vogue during the fifteenth century, gradually took the place of the other; and the ribands and crosses which were its insignia, began to be eagerly coveted by the ambitious. We shall not discuss them here. We merely intended to treat of the militant chivalry in its general features.