Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXX.: Of the national Assemblies of the Franks. - Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XXX.: Of the national Assemblies of the Franks. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 1 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 1.
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Of the national Assemblies of the Franks.
IT has been remarked, above, that nations who do not cultivate the land enjoy great liberty.
This was the case of the Germans. Tacitus says, that they gave their kings, or chiefs, a very moderate degree of power* ; and Cæsar adds, farther† , that, in times of peace, they had no common magistrates, but their princes administered justice in each village. Thus, as Gregory of Tours‡ sufficiently proves, the Franks in Germany had no king.
“The princes, says Tacitus∥ , deliberate on matters of no great concern, while affairs of importance are submitted to the whole nation; but, in such a manner, that these very affairs, which are under the cognizance of the people, are at the same time laid before the princes.” This custom was observed by them after their conquests, as may be seen§ in all their records.
Tacitus says¶ , that capital crimes might be carried before the assembly. It was the same after the conquest, when the great vassals were tried before that body.
[* ]Nec regibus libera aut infinita potestas. Cæterum neque animadvertere, neque vincire, neque verberare, &c. De morib. German.
[† ]In pace nullus est communis magistratus, sed principes regionum atque pagorum inter suos jus dicunt. De bello Gall. lib. 6.
[‡ ]Lib. 2.
[∥ ]De minoribus principes consultant, de majoribus omnes; ita tamen ut ea, quorum penes plebem arbitrium est, apud principes pertractentur. De morib. Germ.
[§ ]Lex consensu populi fit & constitutione regis. Capitularies of Charles the Bald, anno 864, art. 6.
[¶ ]Licet apud concilium accusare & discrimen capitis intendere. De morib. Germ.