Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) – Period of State Concentration Part III

By | February 10, 2022

The aspirations of the humble found correspondence in the interests of the lords, who agreed to develop the system of taxes, tithes, corvee of the old closed economy. The gentleman who was formerly head, manager of the agricultural enterprise, is now on the way to being a simple if albeit formidable exploiter of agricultural income. This great transformation, which began in the century. XI and continues almost silently in the following, must not be explained either by the intervention of philosophical and religious principles, or by the politics of principles and governments. France, poorly populated, is forced to substitute more rational and organic systems of agricultural exploitation for arbitrary systems. Usually the change is peaceful; less often there are movements of groups and classes.

Even the city participates in the new economic movement by seeking better conditions, lighter taxes, the possibility of mutual defense, security in trade: while in the century. X the people of the city is only an instrument of feudalism, in the following century it already appears rich in demands and strength, so as to explain how in the century. XII there was the emancipation of the city, the elimination of what was arbitrary and uneconomic in the city organization itself. From the century XI to XII the number of urban centers multiplies, a consequence not so much of a great increase of population as of the development of rural colonization. The “new cities” (villes neuvesbastides); with privileges the residents are invited to run; the lands are divided and plowed; the abbey’s income grows. Often two gentlemen agree on a social exploitation of land at common expense (pariage); the inhabited area is built, the streets are drawn at right angles with the square and the market in the center. The residents flock to the guarantees against arbitrary taxes. These centers with deductibles (see deductible) form the great majority of settlements in France; they remain politically submissive to the lord. Feudataries and princes, even the king, imitate the abbeys in creating new cities, seeds of future secure incomes. Many urban centers get in the century. XII freedoms and privileges that make them enter the number of new or free cities. Their status varies according to the degree of the concessions made to them by the lord; some have privileges relating only to taxation, the others have complex, judicial and administrative privileges so extensive as to bring them closer to free cities. In this way abuses of officials were eliminated, making the domain more profitable; or the lord was driven by the desire to repopulate the city, or to enter into competition with a neighbor, or to obtain, in case of war, the good graces of his subjects,

According to thesciencetutor.org, the revolution in the city situation is more radical in the case of free cities, in which the lord was stripped of all or part of his sovereign prerogatives by means of the association of the residents agreed by mutual oath. This is the case of the commune proper, characteristic of northern France and of the consular city of southern France; there is no shortage of free cities in Alsace and Lorraine, in Franche-Comté and in some regions of the south-west, such as Bordeaux and Baiona. Even in France as in Italy, the existence of a sanctioning charter for municipal freedom is only the term ad quem, without being able to establish when and how emancipation took place. Usually it is to think of a development process that goes from the century. XI to XII; for some cases it must already go back to the century. X. Each city represents a particular phenomenon, an individuality acting on its own. But certainly everywhere there is a desire to react against an organization that seems outdated. And it cannot be denied that example has had a contagious influence.

All French life in the 18th century XII is transformed: but while the system of parallel balancing forces disappears in feudal life and the system of links between monarchy and fiefdom prevails, in the bourgeois and rural classes that of colleges and mutual aid prevails. Thus in the countryside the union of the rural people, the federation of villages, in the city the bourgeois association, the corporation of the markets tend to cross the border of the village, of the fiefdom, of the regional state. And the provincial dynasties which in a very limited measure manage to satisfy these new needs of the agrarian and industrial classes, find themselves deprived of the necessary basis just when outwardly they believe they have built a simulacrum of state in their native region. External facts of French history such as the wars, the crusades, pilgrimages act only to a limited extent on this phenomenon of internal transformation, dependent on purely internal causes. The communal revolution renews the fabric of French social life and the wars of hegemony of princes and kings receive their true value from the new situation in which the country finds itself socially.

Feudal France (Between 987 and 1108) - Period of State Concentration 3