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by the men of the feudal age. In spite of all the faults of their system, its selfishness, its particularism, its feuds, its degradation of the lower classes, it served the acquired end in producing the condition of military efficiency which was . needed to beat off the invading hordes from without. The problem with which Europe had to deal was that of facing quickly-moving assailants, whose object was primarily plunder rather than fighting, and who therefore had to be The feudal caught and brought to bay if they were to be horsemen. checked. The slowly-moving masses of foot-soldiery which the Frankish empire put into the field were quite unable to deal with this problem. The light cavalry of the Magyars and Saracens could ride around or away from them : the Dane took to his ships and disappeared when they tardily crept up to drive him from his prey. The local count or duke who could put a few hundred mailed horsemen of approved valour into the field, men bound to him by every tie of discipline and obedience, and trained to war from their youth up, was really a far more formidable foe to the plundering invader. Even if he could not check the raiders for want of numbers, his troop of riders hung round the intruders, cut off their stragglers, intercepted them at every defensible pass or ford where the few can withstand the many, circumvented them by cross-roads which the native must know better than the stranger. No less important than the rise of the mailed horseman was the rise of the feudal castle. In the Frankish empire fortified places had hitherto been rare: save the towns that possessed ancient Roman walls there seem to have been none that could defend themselves: Frankish ideas of fortification went no further than heaping up a mound, surrounding it with a ditch, and crowning it with a palisade. The feudal Such temporary strongholds were inadequate, ***. and safety from the Dane was only found by the use of permanent fortifications of firm masonry. Every town that had not perished surrounded itself with a ring-wall : fortified PERIOD I. 2 K
bridge-heads were built to shut up the rivers to the Viking ships. But most important of all were the castles, which rose up on every hand, to form safe residences for the chiefs who had once dwelt in open villas, and to serve as bases for the defence of the country-side. Few in number at first, they gradually spread over the breadth of the land, as each lord who was able reared himself a stronghold. The existence of these castles changed the whole face of war: when an enemy appeared there were now countless places of refuge to seek, and the invader, instead of sweeping easily over the district in search of plunder, found that it could for the future only be procured at the cost of a series of lengthy sieges. There was hardly any sure method known of reducing a strong place, save the expedient of starving it out: but to sit three months before a castle till famine should reduce it, was not what Dane or Magyar desired. - Their booty would be limited, while the delay would allow the whole military strength of the country to be mustered against them. Hence it may be truly said that the rise of the feudal castle was the best remedy that could have been found against the pressing evils that threatened Christendom in the ninth century.
The military triumph was a political disaster. At a moment when the kingly power was shaken by the unhappy civil wars of the descendants of Charles the Great, when almost every province was disputed by two lords, it was absolutely fatal that the control of the warlike strength of Europe should pass into the hands of a crowd of petty magnates, each intent on his own aggrandisement, and caring nought for the general welfare of the kingdom so long as his own county was well guarded. The price at which Christendom bought its safety was enormous: nevertheless no price was too high when the future of Europe was at stake. Any ransom was worth paying, if thereby Rome was saved from the Saracen, Mainz from the Magyar, Paris from the heathen of the North.
(2) For FRANKISH KINGS see tables on pages 166 and 26o and 413.
(3) For LOMBARD KINGS see table on page 183.
(4) EMPERORS AT CONSTANTINOPLE
Theodosius III., 715-17.
Leovil, the wise, 886–912. Constantine VII. or viii., Porphyrogenitus, 912-59.