Front Page Titles (by Subject) (d) the ethnic amalgamation - The State
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(d) the ethnic amalgamation - Franz Oppenheimer, The State 
The State: Its History and Development viewed Sociologically, authorized translation by John M. Gitterman (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1922).
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(d) the ethnic amalgamation
The juristic and social amalgamation of the degraded freemen and the uplifted plebs henceforth inevitably tends toward ethnic interpenetration. While at first the subject peoples were not allowed either to intermarry or to have social intercourse with the freemen, now no such obstacles can be maintained; in any single village the social class is no longer determined by descent from the ruling race, but rather by wealth. And the case may frequently arise where the pure-blooded descendant of the warrior herdsman must earn his living as a field hand in the hire of the equally pure-blooded descendant of the former serfs. The social group of the subjects is now composed of a part of the former ethnic master group and a part of the former subject group.
We say from a part only, because the other part has by this time been amalgamated with the other part of the old ethnic master group into a unital social class. In other words, a part of the plebs has not only attained the position to which the mass of the common freemen have sunk, but has climbed far beyond it, in that it has been completely received into the dominating group, which in the meantime, has not only risen enormously, but has been as greatly diminished in numbers.
And that, too, is a universal process found in all history; because everywhere it follows with equally compelling force from the very premises of feudal dominion. The primus inter pares, whether the holder of the central power or some local potentate, taking the rank of a prince, requires more supple tools for his dominion than are to be found among his “peers.” The latter represent a class whom he must put down if he wants to rise—and that is and must be the aim of every one, since in this stage aiming for power is identical with the aim of self-preservation. In this effort he is opposed by his obnoxious and stiff-necked cousins and by his petty nobles—and for this reason, we find at every court, from that of the sovereign king of a mighty feudal empire down to the lord of what is hardly more than a big estate, men of insignificant descent as confidential officials alongside representatives of the master group, who in many cases under the mask of officials of the prince, as a matter of fact, are “ephors,” sharers of the power of the prince as the plenipotentiaries of their group. Let us but recall the Induna at the court of the Bantu kings. There is no wonder, then, that the prince rather places confidence in his own men than in these annoying and pretentious advisers, in men whose position is indissolubly bound up with his own, and who would be ruined by his fall.∗
Here, too, historical references are nearly superfluous. Every one is familiar with the fact that at the courts of the western European feudal kingdoms, besides the relatives of the king and some noble vassals, there were also elements from the lower groups, occupying high positions, clerics and great warriors of the plebeian class. Among the immediate following of Charlemagne all the races and peoples of his empire were represented. Also in the tales of Theodoric the Goth in the Dietrich Saga of the Niebelungen Lied, this rise of brave sons of the subject races finds its reflection. In addition to these, there follow some less well-known instances.
In Egypt, as far back as the Old Empire, there is found alongside the royal officials of the feudal nobility, who are the descendants of the Shepherd conquerors, administering their districts as representatives of the crown, with plenary powers as deputies, “a mass of court officials trusted with determined functions of government.” It “originated with the servants employed at the courts of the princes, such as prisoners of war, refugees etc.“127 The fable of Joseph shows a state of affairs known at that time to be a usual occurrence, of the rise of a slave to the position of an all powerful minister of state. At the present day such a career is within the realm of possibility at any oriental court, such as Persia, Turkey, or Morocco, etc. In the case of old Marshal Derflinger, in the time of Friedrich Wilhelm I., the Great Elector, at a much later date, we have an example from the transition of the developed feudal state to a more modern form of the state, which might be multiplied by the examples of innumerable other brave swordsmen.
Let us add a few instances from the peoples “disregarded by history.” Ratzel tells of the realm of Bornu: “The freemen have not lost the consciousness of their free descent, in contrast with the slaves of the sheik; but the rulers place more confidence in their slaves than in their own kinsmen and free associates of their tribe. They can count on the devotion of the former. Not only positions at court, but the defense of the country was from ancient times preferably confided to slaves. The brothers of the prince, as well as the more ambitious or more efficient sons, are objects of suspicion; and while the most important places at court are in the hands of slaves, the princes are put at posts far from the seat of government. Their salaries are paid from the incomes of the offices and the taxes from the provinces.”128
Among the Fulbe “society is divided into princes, chieftains, commons and slaves. The slaves of the king play a great rôle as soldiers and officials, and may hope for the highest offices in the state.”129
This nobility of the court’s creation may, in certain cases, be admitted to the great imperial offices, so that according to the method stated above, it may achieve the sovereignty over a territory. In the developed feudal state, it represents the high nobility; and usually manages to preserve its rank, even when some more powerful neighbor has mediatized it by incorporating the state. The Frankish higher nobility certainly contains such elements from the original lower group;130 and since from its blood the entire upper nobility of the European civilized states has been descended at least in direct line by marriage, we find an ethnic amalgamation, both in the present day group of subjects and in the highest order of the ruling class. And the same applies to Egypt: “With the sinking of the royal authority in the time of the decay, the higher officials abuse their power for personal ends, to make their offices hereditary in their families, and thereby to call into existence an official nobility not differentiated from the rest of the population.”131
And finally, the same process, from the same causes, takes hold of the present middle class, the lower stratum of the master class, the officials and officers of the great feudatories. At first there still exists a social difference between, on the one hand, the free vassals, the subfeudatories of the great landlord, kinsmen, younger sons of other noble families, impoverished associates from the same district, in isolated cases freeborn sons of peasants, free refugees and professional ruffians of free descent; and on the other, if the term may be allowed, the subalterns of the guards of plebeian descent. But lack of freedom advances, while freedom sinks in social value; and here too the ruler places more reliance on his creatures than on his peers. Here also, sooner or later, the process of amalgamation becomes complete. In Germany, as late as 1085, the non-free nobility of the court ranks between “servi et litones” while a century afterward it is placed with the “liberi et nobiles.” In the course of the thirteenth century, it has been completely absorbed, along with the free vassals, into the nobility by chivalry. The two orders in the meantime tend to become equal economically; both have subinfeudations, fiefs on the obligation of service in warfare, and the service feuds of the bondsmen; while all the fiefs of the “ministerials” or sergeants have in the meantime become as heritable as are those of the free vassals, as much so as are the patrimonies of the few surviving smaller territorial lords belonging to the original nobility, who may still have escaped the grasp of the great territorial principalities.
In ways quite analogous to this the development went on in all other feudal states of Western Europe; while its exact counterpart is found in the extremest Orient on the edge of the Eurasian continent, in Japan. The daimio are the higher nobility; the samurai, the chivalry, the nobility of the sword.
[∗]One of the most notable instances may be found in the case of Markward of Annweiler, Marquis of Ancona and Duke of Ravenna, seneschal of Henry VI., who after the death of the Emperor Henry VI. disputed the power of the Regent Constance acting for her son, Frederick II. (See Boehmer-Ficker, Regesta Imperii, V, vol. 1, No. 511. v. ad. annum 1197.)—Translator.
[124.]Meitzen, l. c. I, pp. 362f.
[125.]Inama-Sternegg, l. c. I, pp. 373, 386.
[126.]Cf. F. Oppenheimer’s Grossgrundeigentum, p. 272.
[127.]Thurnwald, l. c., p. 706.
[128.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 503.