Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)
Allen, William F.
Department of social and political sciences, pp. -6 PDF (1.8 MB)
2 lViVsconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. society the results of an examination of such English documents of this class as I had within reach, from which it appeared that the peas- antry, down to the fourteenth century, fell into regular organized classes holding their lands in a precise manner and in uniform parcels. As a modest contribution to the investigation, I propose to present the results of a similar examination into such French documents as have come within my reach. It should be remarked at the outset, that the probabilities are against any such uniformity, whether in France or in any other of the countries occupied by the so-called Latin nations. The Teu- tonic and Slavonic nations are on the whole homogeneous in race, and as a rule have occupied the territories where they are now found from the very beginning of our historical knowledge of them. The population of France, on the other hand, is not only mixed, but has been subjected at several times to violent and sweeping revolutions. It was, no doubt, practically a homnogene- ous people when conquered by the Romans 2,000 years ago. The Gauls, a Celtic nation cognate to the Gaels of Scotland, are found in clans somewhat similar to those of Scotland- clans which appear to rest upon a common origin, either real or as- sumed, like the original subdivisions of most primitive peoples. But this primitive and homogeneous people, with its primitive and uniform institutions, has been at different times subdued by at least two great conquests: first by the Romans, then by the Germflan tribes. It has changed its language, its religion and its customs, and it is fair to assume that it has modified its internal organization and its mode of holding land as well. Assuming, as we are perhaps entitled to do, that the Gallic tribes in Cse3ar's time held their land in common, it is still probable, first: that this tenure of land was not held in village communities like the Ger- mans and Slavonians, but in clans, like the Celts of Britain; and secondly, that even this decree of community of tenure was broken up in a large degree by the shock of successive conquests. Wherever, on the soil of France, we find a Germanic colonization on a large scale, we may expect to find village communities; else- where, we may expect an irregular and unorganized peasantry, the result of disturbing influences from without- precisely as
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