Montesquieu
 

XXX.13 What charges were borne by the Romans and the Gauls under the Frankish monarchy

I could exa­mine whe­ther the conque­red Gauls and Romans conti­nued to pay the char­ges to which they were sub­jec­ted under the empe­rors. But to expe­dite things, I will be content to say that if they paid them at first, they were soon exemp­ted, and that those tri­bu­tes were chan­ged to mili­tary ser­vice ; and I admit that I can scar­cely see how the Franks would first have been so friendly to extor­tion, and then sud­denly appea­red so adverse to it.

A capi­tu­lary of Louis the Debonaire1 explains very well to us the state of free men in the Frankish monar­chy. A few bands2 of Goths or Iberians fleeing the oppres­sion of the Moors were allo­wed onto the lands of Louis. The conven­tion that was made with them sta­tes that, like the other free men, they would go to the army with their count ; that on the march they would mount the guard and patrols3 under the orders of the self­same count, and sup­ply to the king’s envoys and to ambas­sa­dors who came from his court, or were going to him,4 hor­ses and wagons for trans­port ; that other­wise they could not be obli­ged to pay any other cens, and that they would be trea­ted as the other free men.

We can­not say that these were new prac­ti­ces intro­du­ced early in the second dynasty ; all that must belong at least to the middle or end of the first. A capi­tu­lary of the year 8645 sta­tes expressly that it was an ancient cus­tom for free men to do mili­tary ser­vice and pay in addi­tion for the hor­ses and wagons which we have men­tio­ned, char­ges that were spe­ci­fic to them, from which peo­ple who pos­ses­sed fiefs were exempt, as I shall prove in what fol­lows.

What is more, there was a sta­tute that did not at all allow sub­jec­ting these free men to tri­bu­tes.6 A man who had four manors7 was always obli­ga­ted to march to war ; he who only had three was pai­red with a free man who only had one : the lat­ter defrayed him for a quar­ter of the expen­ses and stayed home. Likewise, two free men who had two manors each were pai­red ; the one who mar­ched had half his expen­ses defrayed by the one who stayed.

Moreover, we have an infi­nite num­ber of char­ters where pri­vi­le­ges of fiefs are given to par­cels of land or dis­tricts owned by free men, which I shall dis­cuss fur­ther on. These hol­dings are exemp­ted from all the char­ges that the counts and other offi­cers of the king impo­sed on them ; and as all these char­ges are spe­ci­fi­cally enu­me­ra­ted, and there is no men­tion of tri­bu­tes, it is clear that none were levied.

Roman tax extor­tion very sim­ply disap­pea­red of its own accord in the Frankish monar­chy ; it was a very com­plex art, which ente­red into nei­ther the notions nor the plan of those sim­ple peo­ples. If the Tartars inun­da­ted Europe today, it would take a lot of doing to make them unders­tand what is meant here by a finan­cier.

The uncer­tain author of the life of Louis the Debonaire, spea­king of the counts and other offi­cers of the Frankish nation which Charlemagne esta­bli­shed in Aquitaine, says he assi­gned them the bor­der guard, the mili­tary power, and the inten­dency of the domains belon­ging to the crown.8 That fact shows the state of the prince’s reve­nues in the second dynasty. The prince had kept the domains, which he had his sla­ves exploit. But the decla­ra­tions, the capi­ta­tion, and other taxes levied in the time of the empe­rors on the per­son or pro­perty of free men had been chan­ged into an obli­ga­tion to guard the bor­der or go to war.

The bishops wri­ting to Louis, bro­ther of Charles the Bald, said to him : “Take care of your lands, so you will not be obli­ged by the hou­ses of the eccle­sias­tics to tra­vel end­lessly and fati­gue their serfs with wagons. Do what is nee­ded,” they fur­ther said, “so you will have enough to live on and to receive embas­sies.”9 It is visi­ble that the kings’ reve­nues then consis­ted in their domains.10

Of the year 815, ch. i, which is consistent with the capitulary of Charles the Bald for the year 844, arts. 1–2.

Pro Hispanis in partibus Aquitaniæ, Septimaniæ and Provinciæ consistentibus. Ibid.

Excubias and explorationes quas wactas dicunt. Ibid.

They were not obliged to give any to the count (ibid., art. 5).

Ut Pagenses Franci, qui caballos habent, cum suis comitibus in hostem pergant. Il est défendu aux comtes de les priver de leurs chevaux ; ut hostem facere, and debitos paraveredos secundùm antiquam consuetudinem exsolvere possint (Edict of Pistres, in Baluze, p. 186).

Capitulary of Charlemagne, year 812, ch. i ; Edict of Pistres, year 864, art. 27.

Quatuor mansos. It seems to me that what they calles mansus was a certain parcel of land attached to a manse where there were no slaves, witness the capitulary of the year 853, apud Sylvacum, tit. 14, against those who drove the slaves out of their mansus.

In Pithou, part II, p. 157.

See capitulary of the year 858, art. 14.

In addition, they levied some duties on the rivers when there was a bridge or a passage.