Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter xv: Of the continued Authority and Power of the Sacred Council, during the Reign of the Carolingian Family - An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor
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chapter xv: Of the continued Authority and Power of the Sacred Council, during the Reign of the Carolingian Family - 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 continued Authority and Power of the Sacred Council, during the Reign of the Carolingian Family
We have, as we suppose, sufficiently explain’d what was the Form and Constitution of our Commonwealth, and how great the Authority of the Publick Council was during the Reigns of the Kings of the Merovingian Family. We must now proceed to give an Account of it under the Carolingian Race. And as well all our own as the German Historians, give us Reason to believe that the very same Power and Authority of the Orders or States of the Kingdom, was kept entire. So that the last Resort and Disposal of all Things, was not lodged in Pipin,Charles, or Lewis, but in the Regal Majesty. The true and proper Seat of which was (as is above demonstrated) in the Annual general Council. Of this Eguinarthus gives us an Account, in that little Book we have already so much commended. Where, speaking of what happen’d after the Death of Pipin, he tells us, “that the Franks having solemnly assembled their general Convention, did therein constitute both Pipin ’s Sons their Kings, upon this Condition, That they should equally divide the whole Body of the Kingdom between them; and that Charles should govern that Part of it which their Father Pipin had possess’d, and Carlomannus the other Part which their Uncle Carlomannus had enjoy’d, etc.”; From whence ’tis easily inferr’d, that the States of the Kingdom still retain’d in themselves the same Power, which they had always hitherto been in Possession of (during near 300 Years) in the reigns of the Merovingian Kings. So that although the deceased King left Sons behind him, yet these came not to the Crown so much through any right of succession, as through the appointment and election of the States of the Realm. Now that all the other weighty affairs of the Nation used to be determined by the same General Council, Aimoinus is our witness, lib. 4. cap. 71. where he speaks of the War with the Saxons. “The King (says he) in the beginning of the Spring went to Nimeguen; and because he was to hold a General Convention of his People at a Place called Paderburn, he marched from thence with a great Army into Saxony. And again, cap. 77. Winter being over, he held a Publick Convention of his People in a Town called Paderburn, according to the yearly Custom. Also cap. 79. And meeting with his Wife in the City of Wormes, he resolved to hold there the General Council of his People.” In all which Places he speaks of that Charles, who through his warlike achievements had acquired the Dominion of almost all Europe, and by the universal consent of Nations had obtained the surname of the Great: Yet for all that it was not in his Power to deprive the Franks of their ancient Right and Liberty. Nay, he never so much as endeavour’d to undertake the least matter of moment without the advice and authority of his people and nobles. And there is no doubt of it, after Charles’s Death, Lewis his Son administered the Kingdom upon the same Terms and Conditions. For the Appendix to Aimoinus, lib. 5. cap. 10. tells us, that when Charles was dead, Lewis the Emperor, through a certain kind of Foreknowledge, summon’d the General Council of his People to meet at Doue, near the Loire. And again, cap. 38. where he makes mention of the Articles of Peace, concluded between King Lewis and his Cousin Lewis, “They summoned, says he, a PLACITUM, and in that PLACITUM, by the Advice and Consent of their faithful Subjects, they agreed to observe and keep the Articles which follow. In which Placitum it was also by common Consent found convenient, that both Kings should return with a Guard [redirent cum scara] etc.”; Also cap. 41. where he speaks of Carloman the Son of Lewis the Stammerer, “And so (says he) he departed from the Normans, and returned to Wormes, where he was on the Kalends of November to hold his Placitum.”; Also in the following Chapter, where he speaks of Charles the Simple, “Whose Youth (says he) the great Men of France thinking unfit for the Administration of the Government, they held a Council concerning the State of the Nation.”
But it would be an infinite Labour, and indeed a superfluous one, to quote all the Instances which might be given of this Matter: From what we have already produced, I think ’tis apparent to every Man, that till Charles the Simple’s Reign, that is, for more than 550 Years, the Judgment and Determination of all the weighty Affairs of the Commonwealth, belonged to the great Assembly of the People, or (as we now call it) to the Convention of the Estates: And that this Institution of our Ancestors was esteemed sacred and inviolable during so many Ages. So that I cannot forbear admiring the Confidence of some Modern Authors, who have had the Face to publish in their Writings, That King Pipin was the first to whom the Institution of the Publick Council is owing. Since Eguinarthus,Charles the Great’s own Chancellor, has most clearly proved, that it was the constant Practice of the whole Merovingian Line, to hold every Year the Publick Convention of the People on the Kalends of May; and that the Kings were carried to that Assembly in a Chariot or Waggon drawn by Oxen.
But to come to a Matter of greater Consequence, wherein the Prudence and Wisdom of our Ancestors does most clearly shew it self. Is it not apparent how great and manifest a Distinction they made between the King and the Kingdom? For thus the Case stands. The King is one principal Single Person; but the Kingdom is the whole Body of the Citizens and Subjects. “And Ulpian defines him to be a Traytor, who is stirred up with a Hostile Mind against the Commonwealth, or against the Prince. And in the Saxon Laws, Tit. 3. ’tis written, Whosoever shall contrive any thing against the Kingdom, or the King of the Franks, shall lose his Head. And again, The King has the same Relation to the Kingdom that a Father has to his Family; a Tutor to his Pupil; a Guardian to his Ward; a Pilot to his Ship, or a General to his Army.” As therefore a Pupil is not appointed for the Sake of his Tutor, nor a Ship for the sake of the Pilot, nor an Army for the sake of a General, but on the contrary, all these are made such for the sake of those they have in charge: Even so a People is not designed for the sake of the King; but the King is sought out and instituted for the People’s sake. For a People can subsist without a King, and be governed by its Nobility, or by it Self. But ’tis even impossible to conceive a Thought of a King without a People. Let us consider more Differences between them. A King as well as any private Person is a Mortal Man. A Kingdom is perpetual, and consider’d as immortal; as Civilians use to say, when they speak of Corporations, and aggregate Bodies. A King may be a Fool or Madman, like our Charles VI. who gave away his Kingdom to the English: Neither is there any Sort of Men more easily cast down from a Sound State of Mind, through the Blandishments of unlawful Pleasures and Luxury. But a Kingdom has within it self a perpetual and sure Principle of Safety in the Wisdom of its Senators, and of Persons well skill’d in Affairs. A King in one Battle, in one Day may be overcome, or taken Prisoner and carried away Captive by the Enemy; as it happen’d to St. Lewis, to King John, and to Francis the First. But a Kingdom though it has lost its King, remains entire; and immediately upon such a Misfortune a Convention is call’d, and proper Remedies are sought by the chief Men of the Nation against the present Mischiefs: Which we know has been done upon like Accidents. A King, either through Infirmities of Age, or Levity of Mind, may not only be misled by some covetous, rapacious or lustful Counsellor; may not only be seduced and depraved by debauch’d Youths of Quality, or of equal Age with himself; may be infatuated by a silly Wench, so far as to deliver and fling up the Reins of Government wholly into her Power. Few Persons, I suppose, are ignorant how many sad Examples we have of these Mischiefs: But a Kingdom is continually supplied with the Wisdom and Advice of the grave Persons that are in it. Solomon, the wisest of Mankind, was in his old Age seduced by Harlots; Rehoboam, by young Men; Ninus, by his own Mother Semiramis;Ptolomaeus surnamed Auletes, by Harpers and Pipers. Our Ancestors left to their Kings the Choice of their own Privy-Counsellors, who might advise them in the Management of their private Affairs; but such Senators as were to consult in common, and take care of the publick Administration, and instruct the King in the Government of his Kingdom, they reserved to the Designation of the Publick Convention.
In the Year 1356: after King John had been taken Prisoner by the English, and carried into England, a Publick Council of the Kingdom was held at Paris. And when some of the King’s Privy-Counsellors appeared at that Convention, they were commanded to leave the Assembly; and it was openly declared, that the Deputies of the Publick Council would meet no more, if those Privy-Counsellors should hereafter presume to approach that Sanctuary of the Kingdom. Which Instance is recorded in the Great Chronicle writ in French, Vol. 2. Sub rege Johanne, fol. 169. Neither has there ever yet been any Age wherein this plain distinction between a King and a Kingdom, has not been observed. The King of the Lacedemonians (as Xenophon assures us) and the Ephori, renewed every Month a mutual Oath between each other; the King swore that he would govern according to the written Laws; and the Ephori swore that they would preserve the Royal Dignity, provided he kept his Oath. Cicero, in one of his Epistles to Brutus, writes: “Thou knowest that I was always of Opinion, that our Commonwealth ought not only to be delivered from a King, but even from Kingship.Scis mihi semper placuisse non Rege solum, sed Regno liberari republicam.”; Also in his Third Book de Legibus “But because a Regal State in our Commonwealth, once indeed approved of, was abolish’d, not so much upon the account of the Faults of a Kingly Government, as of the Kings who governed; it may seem that only the Name of a King was then abolished, etc.”;