Montesquieu

Continuation of the same sub­ject

But what par­ti­cu­larly wea­ke­ned the monar­chy was that this prince squan­de­red its domains.1 It is here that Nithard, one of the most judi­cious his­to­rians we have, Nithard the grand­son of Charlemagne, who was atta­ched to the party of Louis the Debonaire, and who wrote his­tory by order of Charles the Bald, must be heard :

He says that “a cer­tain Adelhard had for a time exer­ci­sed such influence over the empe­ror’s mind that the prince did his will in all things ; at this favo­rite’s ins­ti­ga­tion he had given fis­cal goods2 to anyone who had wan­ted them, and the­reby had wiped out the repu­blic.” Thus he did throu­ghout the empire what I have said he did in Aquitaine3 : some­thing which Charlemagne repai­red, and which no one repai­red again.

The state was redu­ced to the exhaus­tion where Charles Martel found it when he came into the mayo­ralty ; and they were in such cir­cum­stan­ces that a bold action could no lon­ger suf­fice to res­tore it.

The trea­sury was so poor that under Charles the Bald they main­tai­ned no one in honors,4 they offe­red secu­rity to none except for pay ; when they could des­troy the Normans, they let them escape for money5 ; and Hincmarus’s first piece of advice for Louis the Stammerer was to request in an assem­bly the means of sus­tai­ning the expen­ses of his hou­se­hold.

Villa regias, quæ erant sui et avi et tritavi, fidelibus suis traditit eas in possessiones sempiternas : fecit enim hoc diù tempore (Tegan, de gestis Ludovici pii).

Hinc libertates, hinc publica in propriis usibus distribuere suasit (Nithard, book IV, at the end).

See book XXX, ch. xiii.

Hincmarus, first letter to Louis le Stammerer.

See the fragment of the chronicle of the monastery of St. Serge of Angers, in Duchesne, vol. II, p. 401.