Imágenes de páginas

who signed if he approved it, and suspended if he disapproved. If a bill had been passed without amendment by three regular Storthings elected successively, during sessions separated by at least two intervening regular sessions, it became a law without the king's sanction. Appropriation bills were not subject to the king's veto.

The democratic character of the Storthing was well tested, when the hereditary nobility was abolished by an act proposed in 1815 and finally passed in 1824 under the provisions of the constitution, without the king's sanction and over his opposition and repeated objection. The people of Norway escaped the blight of the feudal system. The peasants have always been free, and their tenure of land has been that of absolute owners. The lowest court in Norway is that of mutual agreements, held once a month in every parish by a commissioner elected by the householders. Next is the sorenskrior which sits quarterly and has jurisdiction of both civil and criminal causes. The entire kingdom is divided into four provinces, eighteen amts, sixty-four sorenskriveries and fortyfour fogderies. The stifts-amt court consists of three judges with assessors, who are stationary in the chief towns in each of the four grand divisions, and review the action of inferior courts. All cases may be carried by appeal to the Hoieste Ret at Christiania. A judge is liable in damages for a wrong decision. The system of electing members of the Storthing is peculiar, in that the voters choose electors who meet in each county and name the members. A low property qualification is required or a public appointment to qualify a voter.

Norway has a good school system, raging from generally attended primary schools, middle and high schools to the university at Christiania. The Norwegian of to-day, as his ancestor the viking, still sails the sea, and considering the number of people in the country, Norway plays a very prominent part in the carrying trade and foreign commerce of the world. Her people are no longer the dread and terror of the seas, but honest, peaceful toilers, faithfully doing their part of the useful labors, yet preserving their old love of liberty and retaining an essentially democratic state.

In 1905, owing to the refusal of the King to accede to the demands of Norway with reference to the foreign consular service, the relations of the two countries were severed peaceifully. King Oscar relinquished the crown of Norway on October 27 and on November 18 Charles of Denmark. was elected king of Norway and took the name of Hakon VII.

In 1907 parliamentary suffrage was given to unmarried women over twenty-five years of age who pay taxes on incomes of 300 kroner in the country or 400 in town and to married women whose husbands pay taxes on like incomes.



The characteristics of the early German society have been briefly mentioned in Chapter II. The mass of the people were freemen, who bore arms and held as slaves prisoners of war and those condemned to slavery for crime. Important affairs were decided in assemblies of the tribe, and the authority of the nobles was temporary and largely dependent on the will of the freemen. Lands were owned in common and periodically distributed. Each village chose its own chief, and the heads of the hundreds and tribes were also elected by the freemen. The chiefs were accustomed to gather a personal following around them, which became the nucleus of military power and the starting point of established authority. In war the whole body of freemen constituted the army and went out to battle. When large numbers combined they chose their herzog. The Romans came in contact with the Cimbri and Teutons about 100 B.C. In numerous conflicts with various tribes thereafter they invariably found them strong and brave. In A.D. 6 Arminius formed a confederacy of such power that he was able to fall upon Varus and utterly destroy his legions. The Romans succeeded in establishing their authority over most of Austria, Hungary and along the Rhine, but were never able to extend their rule over interior and northern Germany. With increase in numbers and advancement in capacity for organization the Germans in turn drove the Romans out and invaded the Roman provinces. The Marcomanni formed a powerful league, which the Romans under Marcus Aurelius fought through successive campaigns. In the fourth century the Goths founded a great kingdom, extending across the continent from the Baltic to the Black sea. This was broken up by the Huns, who poured in over the Russian steppes from Asia. Under pressure from this invasion the Burgundians,

Vandals and Suevi moved westward, the first named taking the valley of the Rhone, the Vandals passing on through Gaul and Spain into Africa and the Suevi establishing themselves in Spain. The Goths under Alaric invaded Italy, seized Rome, and spread over Gaul and Spain. The Lombards also pushed southward and succeeded the Goths in the mastery of Italy. The Avars from the east established themselves in Hungary. Though these and other tribes played a most important part in the dismemberment of the Roman empire and established their authority over large districts, the most important advances toward the organization of a great German state were first made by the Franks, who dwelt along the lower Rhine. They lived in close contact with the Romans of Gaul, with whom they were comparatively friendly and from whom they borrowed notions of government. By the middle of the fifth century the Salian Franks, who dwelt about the mouth of the Rhine and along the shore of the North Sea, had an hereditary king, who ruled over a state divided into gaue governed by grafen appointed by the king. There were no nobles but the officials and immediate followers of the king. The popular assemblies of freemen were however still the source of authority and determined all matters of great concern. Under Clovis, 481 to 511, the kingdom was extended both east and west.

In the Germanic portion of the kingdom authority was delegated to favorites, as grafen in the counties and herzogen over larger districts, to whom were given large tracts of land. While the kings increased the measure of their authority in the western portion of their dominions and gradually ceased to consult with the freemen of the nation, in the east the assemblies of the tribes and hundreds were still held, and the authority of the king and his officers was kept in check. Through the ownership of land and the retainers by whom they were surrounded, the grafen and herzogen gradually extended their power over the freemen and shook off the restraints of the king, till under the impotent Merovings all real authority was in their hands.

Under the more vigorous sway of the mayors of the palace,

Pepin and Charles Martel, the central power was restored to some extent, and under Charlemagne a more thorough and efficient system was established. The authority of the Merovings was never established over the whole of Germany. The Saxons and many others repeatedly repudiated it. They preserved their free tribal system and refused to accept Christianity down to the time of Charlemagne. The Saxons refused to confer on their chiefs authority to bind them by treaties. No central authority capable of speaking for all the tribes existed. The Bavarians also retained much of the same independence.

Charlemagne extended his general system over Germany. Over the border counties he placed Margraves, wh administered justice in his name, collected tribute and commanded the border forces. Over the interior counties he placed grafen, who decided causes in accordance with local customs and the general code. Four times each year each district was visited by his messengers, who reported to him and carried his commands. He also founded schools in connection with the churches and monasteries. Under his rule, however, the liberties of the freemen were curtailed, and their great assemblies no longer held. The nobles only were consulted, and their advice was followed when it suited him. The matters which had before been decided by the assemblies of freemen were determined by his appointees, and all popular gatherings were discouraged. The burdens of his many wars fell heavily on the people, who were often compelled to serve in distant parts to their financial ruin as well as risk of life. From all on whom he conferred lands, Charles exacted an oath of fealty, he also required all his prelates, counts and many great landowners, whose titles were not received as benefices from him, to take a like oath.

The feudal system developed as an accompaniment of the empire of the Franks. Its essence was rulership through a theory of land tenure, by which the relations of the different orders of society were based on their interest in or relation to the soil. The ancient Germans had not reached the conception of absolute title to land. They regulated occupancy in

« AnteriorContinuar »