« PreviousContinue »
12. He appointed the General Convention of « his people to be held at Thionville. And after
a little time summon'd his people to meet on the Feast of St. Martin, and used all his En
deavours to recal his Son Pipin who had ab“ fented himself; but he refused to come, c. Gaguinus making mention of this fame Passage, lays; “When the Conspirators found out
they should not be able to dethrone the King, " without the consent of the Nobility in Corina
vention, they labour'd by all means to have “ the Great Council held within the Limits
of France. But Lewis knowing for certain that those Franks were gained by his Enemies
against him, refused it, and summond the “ Convention to meet at Mentz, and ordered
that none should be admitted Armed to the Council. But his Sons (who had conspired against their Father) left they should want the Authority of a Publick Convention,affembled a Council at Compeigne, conhsting of the Bishops and Nobility of the Kingdom. And
Lotharius taking his Father out of Custody “ brought him to Compiegne. :
Again Aimoinus , lib. s. cap. 28. . where he speaks of Lewis the Summerer, who held & Council at Marsua, wherein he treated a Peace with his Cousin, says: “In that Placitum, or Parlia. “ment, these Articles which follow were “ agreed upon between them, by and with the “ Consent of the faithful Subjects of the Realm. :*
To proceed. We find further, that it was the Custom ( when any Prince, or Person of · Extraordinary Quality, was accused of any Crime ) to fummon him, to appear before the Great Council, and there he was to stand his Trial. Thus in the Reign of King Clotharius, when
Franko ettat. of such as
Queen Brunechild stood accused, and was found guilty of many capital Crimes, the King made a Speech to the states of the Great Council of Francogallia, in these Words ; which are recorded by Aimoinus, lib. 4. cap. 1. “ It belongs “ to you, my most dear Fellow-Soldiers, and “high Nobility of France, to appoint what “ kind of Punishment ought to be inflicted on “a Person guilty of such enormous Crimes, &c. And Ado Ætat. 6. sub Arno $83. tells us, “ The “ Franks paffing Sentence upon her in the “ King's Presence, condemned her to be torn “ in pieces by wild Horses.
Now concerning the dividing of the Royal Patrimony, and the Appanages, we have the fame Person's Testimony, lib. 5. cap. 94. where speaking of Charlemaign, he has these Words--“ Thefe Matters being ended, the King held a “ Convention of the Nobility and Gentry of the
Franks, for the making and maintaining a “ firm Peace among his Sons, and dividing the “ Kingdom into Three Parts, that every one of "them might know what part of it he ought “ to defend and govern, in case they survived “ him. ---- Also in that Place where he speaks of the Partition made among the Children of Lewis, lib. 5. cap. 40. he says thus. --- “ They “ went to Amiens, aud there they divided their “ Father's Kingdom among them, according to “the Advice and Direction of their faithful. Sub“ je&ts. Further, cap. 41. where he writes of Carloman, who held his Great Council then at Worms. -----" To this placitum (says he ), came “ Hugo, and preferred his Petition for that part “ of the Kingdom, which his Brother Lewis .“ (in Lccarium i cceperat) had rented of him, or « received in Pawn. . .
í We may further observe, from very many Instances, that whenever the King had any expensive Design in hand, such as the building of Churches or Monasteries, he took first the Advice of the Council of the Estates. For Ain moinus, lib. 4. cap. 41. where he speaks of Clodoveus the Second, tells us, that fitting on his Throne, he began his Oration to the General Council in these Words. ---- “ Quamquam Fran“ciginä сives, &c. Altho' (says he) the Care I “ought to take of my Kingdom, obliges me “ to take your Advice in all Matters relating to “the Publick, Bc...
And thus much may suffice on this point. From all which we think it appears plainly, that the whole Power of the Administration of the Kingdom was lodg'd in the Publick Council, which they called Placitam; because, according to the Idiom of the Latin Tongue, that is properly termed Placitum, which after having been proposed and debated in a Council of many Persons, is at last agreed to, and refolved upon by them. And therefore Cicero, with others of the Ancients, were wone to call fuch-like Determinations, Placita Philosophorum.
Since therefore the Matter is fo, I hope the Opinion which we have formerly given in some of our other Books, will not be esteemed absurd; viz. That the common Form used by the King's Secretary in the last Clause of our Ordinances and Edicts, Quia tale eft PL ACITUM noftrum, arises from hence : For anciently those Laws were written in the Larin Tongue, ( as is sufficiently proved by Aimoinus, the Capitulary of Charles the Great, and many other Records); but afterwards, when the King's Secretaries or Clerks began to make use of the H 2
Vulgar Tongue, thro' Ignorance, or rather Malice, they translated it thus, ---- Car tel est nostre Plaisir : For such is our Will and Pleasure.
Now as to the Power of the People, we have this farther Argument extant in the same Capitulary of Charles the Great. ---- “ Let' the People < (says it) be consulted touching all the Heads Cc of the new Laws, which are to be added to
the former; and after they have all given “their consents, let them set their Hands and “ Seals to every Article.
From which Words, 'tis apparent that the People of France were wont to be bound by such Laws only, as they had publickly agreed to in their Parliaments. Also in fine Leg. Aleman. we find this Passage. ---- “ This is decreed by " the King and his Nobles, and all the Christi"an People which compose the Kingdom of the cMerovingians. Also Aimoinus, lib. 5. cap. 38.
----- In this placitum the Laws which follow “were agreed upon, to be observed between
them, by the Consent of the faithful Subjects. “ ---- An Agreement made between the Glo" rious Kings, &c. by the Advice and Consent " of their faithful Commons, bo..
Lastly, we cannot omit observing, that so great was the Reputation and Authority of this General Council, even among Strangers, that foreign Princes submitted to have their Controverfies and Differences decided by it. The Appendix to Greg. Turon. lib. 11. cap. 37. Arino 12. of Theodorick's Reign, has this Passage in it. ---“ When Alsaciones, [perhaps Alsatia] in which “ Country he had been brought up, and which “ was left him by his Father Childebert, fell ne“ vertheless to Theodcbert, according to the Cu
stom in use among the Barbarians ; the two
" Kings “Kings agreed that their Difference should be “ decided by the Judgment of the Franks, (in “ Saloilo castro ) in their Camp near the River
CHA P. XII, of the Kingly Officers, commonly call'd
Mayors of the Palace.
DEfore we treat farther of the uninterrupted D Authority of the Publick Council, we think it not improper to say fomewhat of those Regal great Officers, which, during the Merovingian Race were called (Majores domus) Masters, or Mayors of the Palace. These having for some time encroach'd upon the Kingly Power, finding at last a fit opportunity, seiz'd upon it entirely as their own. Their Dignity near the Persons of our Kings seems to have been much the same with that of Præfe&ti Pretorio, or Generals of the Guards in the time of the Roman. Emperors, who were sometimes also stiled Aula Præfe&ti.' They were usually appointed in and by the same Convention which chose the Kings,.. and were wont to be Chiefs or Heads of the Publick Council. : And upon this account we frequently meet with such-like Expressions as these among our Historians. -- " They elected such “ and such a Man to the Dignity of Mayor of " the Palace. Herchinold, Mayor of the Palace, be
ing dead, the Franks conferr'd that Dignity upon Ebroinns, and appointed him to be Ma