Montesquieu
 

XXX.12 That the lands of the barbarians’ division paid no tributes

Simple, poor, free, war­riors, she­pherds who lived without indus­try and were atta­ched to their lands only by reed huts,1 fol­lo­wed chiefs to pillage, and not to pay or raise tri­bu­tes. The art of extor­tion is always inven­ted after­wards, when men begin to enjoy the feli­city of the other arts.

The short-lived tri­bute of a pit­cher of wine per acre,2 which was one of the harass­ments of Chilperic and Fredegonda, concer­ned only the Romans. Indeed it was not the Franks who tore up those tax rolls, but the eccle­sias­tics, who in those times were all Roman. This tri­bute prin­ci­pally afflic­ted the resi­dents of the cities,3 but the cities were almost all inha­bi­ted by Romans.

Gregory of Tours4 says that a cer­tain judge was obli­ged, after the death of Chilperic, to take refuge in a church for having under the reign of that prince sub­jec­ted Franks who in the time of Childebert were free­born to tri­bu­tes : Multos de Francis, qui tem­pore Childeberti regis inge­nui fue­rant, publico tri­buto sube­git. The Franks, who were not serfs, the­re­fore paid no tri­bu­tes.

There is no gram­ma­rian who does not pale at seeing how this pas­sage has been inter­pre­ted by the abbé Dubos.5 He notes that in those times freed men were also cal­led inge­nui. From there, he inter­prets the Latin word inge­nui with these words : freed from tri­bu­tes, an expres­sion one can use in the French lan­guage, as one says freed from cares, freed from woes ; but in the Latin ton­gue, inge­nui a tri­bu­tis, liber­tini a tri­bu­tis, manu­missi tri­bu­to­rum,6 would be mons­trous expres­sions.

We see in the law of the Visigoths7 that when a bar­ba­rian occu­pied a Roman’s land, the judge obli­ged him to sell it, so that piece of land would conti­nue to be tri­bu­tary : the­re­fore the bar­ba­rians did not pay tri­bu­tes.

The abbé Dubos,8 who nee­ded to have the Visigoths pay tri­bu­tes,9 departs from the lite­ral and spi­ri­tual sense of the law, and ima­gi­nes, solely because he ima­gi­nes, that there had been bet­ween the esta­blish­ment of the Goths and this law an increase in tri­bu­tes that concer­ned only the Romans. But only Father Hardouin is allo­wed to exer­cise arbi­trary power over facts.10

The abbé Dubos abu­ses the capi­tu­la­ries as well as the his­to­rians and the laws of the bar­ba­rian peo­ples. When he wants the Franks to have paid tri­bu­tes, he applies to free men what can only be unders­tood for serfs11 ; when he wants to speak of their mili­tia, he applies to serfs what could only refer to free men.12

Gregory of Tours, book II.

Ibid., book V.

Quæ conditio universis Urbibus per Galliam constitutis summopere est adhibita (Life of St. Aridius).

Book VII.

Histoire critique de l’établissement de la monarchie française, vol. III, ch. xiv, p. 515.

[Various ways of imagining that one might say “freed from tributes in Latin.”]

Judices atque Præpositi tertias Romanorum, ab illis qui occupatas tenent, auferant, et Romanis sua exactione sine aliqua dilatione restituant, ut nihil fisco debeat deperire (Book X, tit. 1, ch. xiv).

Établissement des Francs dans les Gaules, vol. III, ch. xiv, p. 510.

He bases himself on another Lex Visigothorum, book X, tit. 1, art. 11, which proves absolutely nothing : it says only that he who has received a piece of land from a lord on condition of a remuneration, must pay it.

[In the 1758 edition, Annex 23 is inserted here.]

Établissement de la monarchie française, vol. III, ch. xiv, p. 513, where he cites art. 28 of the Edict of Pistres ; see below, ch. xviii.

Ibid., vol. III, ch. iv, p. 298.