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Della Economia Politica del Medio Evo, Libri III. che trat
tano della sua condizione politica morale economica del Cav.
Luigi CIBRARIO. 3° Torino: 1839. When Muratori was searching for historical documents to be inserted in his collection of writers on Italy during the middle ages (Rerum Italicarum Scriptores), he had the mortification of meeting with scarcely any success in Piedmont. It was in vain, as he says in his preface to the Chronicon Astense (R. I. S., tom. xi.), that he applied to every person likely to render him any assistance. The government, as well as private individuals, (with a very few honourable exceptions), turned a deaf ear to his entreaties, as if the history of Italy could be considered of slight importance, in a national point of view, to any of its provinces. Far different is the feeling prevalent in Piedmont at the present time. The illustration of the history, not of Italy indeed, it is the fate of that unhappy country that nothing Italian should ever be encouraged by any of the mis-governments that oppress her,) but of the states of the king of Sardinia, during the middle ages, occupies the attention of a large number of persons distinguished for birth as well as for talents and accomplishments, urged in their studies by no other motive but love of country (unfortunately taken in too municipal a sense, and which might be more properly called love of province), and eager to leave no part of this interesting subject in total obscurity, even when no hopes remain of throwing upon it so clear a light as would enable the world to appreciate the merits of the laborious, modest and patriotic scholars who dedicate their lives to such pursuits.
The government of Sardinia has been shamed into giving some pecuniary assistance to help the publication of the documents from which such facts are drawn as form the subject of works like M. Cibrario's. The treaties of the House of Savoy are published by order of the minister for foreign affairs, in 4to ; records, seals and coins illustrating the history of Savoy and of the reigning family, have been printed Historiæ Patriæ or the Historiæ Patriæ Monumenta, (car on dit l'un et l'autre, as the old grammarian said when dying, and as is proved by the work now mentioned, in one volume of which occurs one formula, and the other in the others,) are in course of publication, in folio, under the superintendence of a commission, of which M. Gazzera and our author are secretaries. Three volumes of this series are already before us, one of which, containing the history of the Maritime Alps, by Gioffredo, is edited by the Abbé Gazzera just mentioned, one of the keepers of the Royal Library at Turin, and one of the secretaries of the Royal Academy, distinguished alike for his various learning, kind-heartedness and unassuming manners.
Conversant with the history of his own country as well as with that of foreign nations, capable of appreciating the merits and feeling the beauties of classical and modern literature, indefatigable in adding to the remains of that of the middle ages in Italy as well as in France, in prose or verse, the Abbé Gazzera seems to have no greater pleasure than that of assisting his numerous friends-and all who know him are such—in their pursuits, and enjoying in silence and unknown the glory which others reap from his generous help. His colleague is editor of several of the charters, as well as of the legislative enactments, published by the commission of which he is secretary, and they are new tokens of his talents and industry. The work which forms the subject of this article is but one of many which he has written, and which have deservedly earned for him a high name among the lovers of the literature, the history and the antiquities of Italy.
Having mentioned them, we cannot refrain from saying a few words obiter of the Monumenta Historiæ Patriæ. The Italians, possessing the very best model of a collection of this description, in the unrivalled one of Muratori's Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, ought to have considered it a sacrilege to depart from his plan, particularly as to the title. The Piedmontese ought to have been happy and proud to add to the store of information on Italian history, following the steps of the Italian who created that of the middle ages; for they are Italians, velint nolint,—or they are nothing in literature. Their publication ought to have been offered, and would have
this was not considered enough: a distinct title was adopted, and the publication divided into three parts, - Charta, Historiæ, Leges Municipales ; of each of which one volume has been published. It is difficult to see the reason why the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, &c. of the documents published in the last section should not have been placed in the first; which we mention only to show the futility of such a division, for which we cannot discover even a pretext. Whether it is to have an opportunity of thrice flattering the king, to whom each volume is dedicated, and who is addressed as opTIMUS LEGUMLATOR, or whether the division is adopted because preferred by Pertz, in his Monumenta Germaniæ, we shall not stop to inquire ; only wishing that the Piedmontese would bear in mind that they are Italians. But we cannot help remarking on the party-coloured dress of the notes, which even in the same volume (Leges Municipales) are Latin here and Italian there, although to Latin texts. The preface to this volume, by Count Sclopis, is in Latin, written with uncommon elegance and learning ; but some of his notes to such of the statutes as he has edited are unworthy of him. For instance, (col. 46, note 2): “ Savorra, “ recte Latine diceres saburram, Italice zavorra, Gallice lest, “ sabulum scilicet vilius et crassius quo naves onerari solent
usque ad certam mensuram ut stabiliores sint.” Savorra is just as good Italian as Zavorra; and who is the Italian that does not know its meaning? Hear Forcellini : “ Saburra et “ sabura, savorra ; sabulum et quidquid in sentinam navis “ certa mensura congeritur, ne instabilis sit et ventorum vi “evertatur.” Coals, blocks of marble or other minerals, will answer as well as the “sabulum vilius crassius” of M. Sclopis, and be sometimes more profitable.
M. Cibrario tells us (page 13) that his work is not a history, but an outline of the condition of society at different times, which must be more or less minutely drawn according to the historical materials which have been handed down to us from our forefathers. “ From the very nature of this work,” continues the author, “no one will be warranted in finding fault “ with me for not having recorded some particular events, or “ omitted to notice this or that historical point.” He has
sense from that which is generally attached to them, of “ theory of the production and distribution of the wealth of “ nations,” and has adapted them, as appears even from the second part of his title, to the more ample, and, etymologically speaking, more correct meaning, of the various laws, customs and manners by which society was ruled during the middle ages. The work of M. Cibrario would consequently seem to have the same object as Mr. Hallam's “ View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages," published for the first time about twenty-one years ago, with a preface which might be well prefixed by the modern Italian to his work, in order to acquaint the reader with its object. M. Cibrario, however, says, that the two works have nothing in common: to this we cannot assent, although we are ready to admit that they are very distinct performances.
Mr. Hallam, selecting from the narratives which he found in the printed historical records of the middle ages such as he deemed correct, and in which his eminently critical eye did not discover any ground for suspicion, and omitting what with great tact he deemed of minor importance, draws a picture of the political state of society throughout Europe, from Clovis to Charles VIII. of France. If he speaks of manners and customs he does so only incidentally, and to elucidate the higher branches of the subject which he has undertaken to illustrate. The object of his work is not to record facts, but to show what were the effects produced by the state of religion, constitution and laws, and how these effects reacted on the societies of the middle ages. M. Cibrario's work has but little in common with that of our countryman in this respect. Less eager to discover the why and wherefore, the Italian author has patiently studied old parchments and musty household account-books, and from new facts, often trifling and apparently uninteresting, he has drawn important consequences as to the political or economical state of the country, has added to the stock of our positive information on the subject, and has occasionally thrown considerable light on hitherto obscure points. Mr. Hallam, with a more comprehensive and philosophical, but practical mind, has succeeded in rendering his work highly instructive to those who dustriously collected many new useful materials for future historians, and has entered into details which the other did not consider worthy of attention. But whilst Mr. Hallam has taken a view of all Europe during the middle ages, M. Cibrario has limited himself to inquire into the state of Italy, or, properly speaking, of Piedmont and Lombardy, more
particularly the former. He says little of Tuscany, still less of the Papal States, next to nothing of the Neapolitan and Sicilian kingdoms. The title of the work is therefore so far apt to mislead the reader, who does not know that what is stated to be a history of political economy during the middle ages, is limited to two provinces of one of the European states. It cannot, however, be denied, that the politico-economical vicissitudes of these two provinces, to the end of the fourteenth century, are pregnant with interest and highly instructive; it was there that the battles of the people were first fought after the fall of ancient states, and liberty for the mass, not for a caste, conquered. There also, unhappily, were first shown the baneful effects of unchecked licence, of cunning priestcraft and overbearing oligarchy.
The conquerors of Italy, at the fall of the western empire, had appointed governors, generally designated under the name of Counts, who to the executive often added the judicial power, over each town and its territory. But the Roman municipal government was not totally eradicated from Italy, although there is no doubt that at first the counts as well as the nobility belonged to the nation of the conquerors, and that the latter had possessed themselves of municipal power, to the exclusion of the generality of the inhabitants. There was, however, an eminently democratic element in the constitution of the cities, and that was religion, which acknowledges no distinction of birth or fortune, and the bishops, being elected by the people, were the natural guardians of their electors. When Italy was invaded by the Saracens and Hungarians, the sovereigns were unable to protect the country, but the people defended themselves as well as they could fighting literally pro aris et focis. In those conflicts the bishops were the natural leaders of their flocks, and took particular care in strengthening, by every means, their cities, hitherto undefended,