Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter xiv: Of the Constable, and Peers of France - An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor
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chapter xiv: Of the Constable, and Peers of France - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Of the Constable, and Peers of France
Besides the great Office of Mayor of the Palace before spoken of, there was another which we must take Notice of; because it seems, in the Memory of our Forefathers, to have succeeded in Place of the former: And that was the Office of Count of the Kings Stable; called at first, Comes stabuli; and by Corruption at last, Connestabuli. Now all those who enjoy’d any extraordinary Honours or Employments in the King’s Court, and assisted in the Administration of the Commonwealth, were commonly called Comites, Counts; which was likewise the Custom of the Ancients, as I have in some other of my Works demonstrated. So Cicero, in many Places, calls Callisthenes,Comitem Alexandri magni [count of Alexander the Great]. This Comes stabuli was in a manner the same with the Magister Equitum among the Romans, that is, General of the Horse; to whom were subject those Keepers of the Horses commonly called Querryes. Greg. Turon. lib. 5. cap. 39. says, “The Treasurer of Clodoveus being taken out of the City of Bourges, by Cuppau, Count of the Stable, was sent in Bonds to the Queen, etc.”; And again, cap. 48. where he speaks of Leudastes, “She took him (says he) into Favour, rais’d him, and made him Keeper of the best Horses; which so filled him with Pride and Vanity, that he put in for the Constableship; [Comitatum Stabulorum] and having got it, began to despise and undervalue every body.” From these Quotations it appears, that though the Custody of the Horses was a very honourable Employment, yet ’twas much inferior to that of Constable. Aimoinus, lib. 3. cap. 43. gives the same Account of this Leudastes. “Being grown very intimate with the Queen, he was first made Keeper of the Horse; and afterwards obtaining the Constableship above the rest of the Keepers, he was (after the Queen’s Death) made by King Charibert, Count of Tours.” And cap. 70. “Leudegefilus, Praefect of the King’s Horses, whom they commonly call Constable, being made General of that Expedition by the King, order’d the Engines to be drawn down, etc.”; Also lib. 4. cap. 95. where he speaks of Charles the Great, “The same Year (says he) he sent Burchard, Comitem Stabuli sui, which we corruptly call Constabulum, with a Fleet against Corsica.” The Appendix to Gregory calls him, Comestabulum, lib. 11. “Brunechildis (says he) was brought out of the Village, ab Erporre Comestabulo.”;
This being so, Albertus Krantzius, lib. Suet. 5. cap. 41. ventures to affirm, that this Constable was the same with what the Germans call Mareschal. “They named (says he) a Governor, one of the best Soldiers, who might have the Power of Convocating the Assembly of the Kingdom, and of acting in all Matters like the Prince. Our Countrymen call him a Mareschal, the French call him Constable, etc.”; This seems the more probable, because I do not remember any Mention to have been made in ancient Times, of a Mareschal in our Francogallia; so that ’tis very likely to have been an Institution of our latter Kings, accommodated to the Custom of the Germans.
That this Comitatus Stabulorum, a Constableship, had its rise from the Institution of the Roman Emperors, I do not at all question; although it grew by Degrees among us from slender Beginnings, to the Height of chief Governor of the Palace. In former times that Dignity was a Sort of Tribunatus Militaris.Ammianus, lib. 26. has this Expression, where he speaks of Valentinian the Emperor, “Having fixed his Stages, or Days Journeys, he at last entered into Nicomedia; and about the Kalends of March, appointed his Brother Valens to be Governor of his Stables, cum tribunatus dignitate, with tribunitial Dignity.” What Kind of Dignity that was, we may find in the Code of Justinian, lib. 1. Cod. de comitibus & tribunis Schol. Where ’tis reckoned as a great Honour for them to preside over the Emperor’s Banquets, when they might adore his Purple. Also in lib. 3. Cod. Theodos.de annon. & tribut. perpensa, 29. Cod. Theod. de equorum Collatione, & lib. 1. Cod. Theod. wherein we may find a Power allowed them, of exacting Contribution to a certain Value from the Provincials who were to furnish War-Horses for the Emperor’s Service.
It now remains that we discourse a little of those Magistrates, which were commonly called Peers of France; whereof we can find no Records or Monuments, though our Endeavours have not been wanting. For among so great a Number of Books, as are called Chronicles and Annals of Francogallia, not one affords us any probable Account of this Institution. For what Gaguinus, and Paulis Aemilius (who was not so much an Historian of French Affairs, as of the Pope’s) and other common Writers do affirm, to wit, That those Magistrates were instituted by Pipin or Charlemagn, appears plainly to be absurd; because not one of all the German Historians, who wrote during the Reigns of those Kings or for some time after, makes the least Mention of those Magistrates. Aimoinus himself who wrote a History of the Military achievements and institutions of the Franks, down to the Reign of Lewis the Pious, and the Appendix, which reaches as far as the Time of Lewis the Younger, being the 37th King, speak not one Word of these Peers in any Place of their Histories; so that till I am better inform’d,96 I must concur in Opinion with Gervase of Tilbury, who (as Gaguinus says in the Book which he wrote to the Emperor Otho the IVth, de otiis imperialibus) affirms, That this Institution is first owing to King Arthur of Britain, who ruled some time in Part of France.
For I suppose the Original of that Institution to be this; that as in the Feudal Law such are called, Pares curiae beneficiarii, i.e., Equal Tenants by Homage of the Court, or Clientes ὁμὀτιμοι, Clients of like holding, or Convassalli, Fellow Vassals, who hold their Fiefs and Benefices from one and the same Lord and Patron; and upon that Account are bound to him in Fealty and Obedience: just so King Arthur having acquired a new Principality, selected twelve great Men, to whom he distributed the several Parts and Satrapies of his Kingdom, whose Assistance and Advice he made use of in the Administration of the Government. For I cannot approve of their Judgment, who write, that they were called Peers, because they were Pares Regi, the King’s Equals; since their Parity has no Relation to the Regal Dignity, but only to that Authority and Dignity they had agreed should be common among them. Their Names were these, the Dukes of Burgundy, Normandy, and Aquitain; the Counts of Flanders, Toulouse, and Champagne; the Archbishops of Rheims, Laon, and Langres; the Bishops of Beauvais, Noyon, and Chalons. And as the Pares Curtis, or Curiae, in the Feudal Law, can neither be created, but by the Consent of the Fraternity; nor abdicated, but by Tryal before their Colleagues; nor impeach’d before any other Court of Judicature; so these Peers were not bound by any Judgment or Sentence, but that of the Parliament, that is, of this imaginary Council; nor could be elected into the Society, or ejected out of it, but by their Fellows in Collegio.
Now although this Magistracy might owe its Original to a Foreign Prince; yet when he was driven out, the succeeding Kings finding it accommodated to their own Ends and Conveniences, (’tis most probable) continued and made use of it. The first Mention I find made of these Peers, was at the Inauguration of Philip the Fair, by whom also (as many affirm) the Six Ecclesiastical Peers were first created.
But Budaeus, an extraordinary Learned Man, calls these Peers by the Name of Patricians and is of opinion that they were instituted by one of our Kings, who was at the same time Emperor of Germany; because, Justinian says, those Patres were chosen by the Emperor, quasi Reipub. patronos tutoresque, as it were Patrons and Tutors of the Commonwealth. I do not reject this Opinion of that Learned Person; such a thing being very agreeable to the Dignity of these Peers. For in the times of the later Roman Emperors, we find the Patrician Dignity not to have been very unlike that of the Peers; because (as Suidas assures us), they were (partly) the Fathers of the Republick, and were of Council with the Emperor in all weighty Concerns, and made use of the same Ensigns of Authority with the Consuls; and had greater honour and power than the Praefectus Praetorio, though less than the Consul; as we may learn ex Justiniani Novellis; from Sidon. Apollin. Claudian; and Cassiodorus especially.
But when the Empire was transferr’d to the Germans, we do not believe this Honour was in use among them. Neither is it likely, that none of the German Historians should have made the least Mention of it, if any Patritians of that kind had been instituted by a German Emperor, who at the same Time was King of Francogallia.
Lastly, The same Budaeus tells us in that Place, though a little doubtingly, that the like dignity of Peers had been made use of in other neighbouring Nations; and that in the Royal Commentaries, Anno 1224, ’tis found written, that a certain Gentleman of Flanders, called Joannes Nigellanus, having a Controversy there, appeal’d from the Countess of Flanders to the Peers of France; having first taken his Oath that he could not expect a fair and equal Tryal before the Peers of Flanders. And when afterwards the Cause was by the Countess revoked to the Judgment of the Peers of Flanders, it was at Length for certain reasons decreed, that the Peers of France should take cognisance of it. What the reasons were of transferring that Tryal, Budaeus does not tell us; which one versed in the Feudal Laws should never have omitted. But ’tis time to return to our principal business.
[96. ]From this point until the end of the chapter, the passage was suppressed in subsequent sixteenth-century editions; see GS Franc., pp. 377 and 531.