III. THE SCANDINAVIANS.
The Roman legions and the outlying semi-military settlements along the Rhine and the Danube, forming a cordon reaching from the German Ocean to the Black Sea, kept back the tide of barbarians, but the volume of force accumulated behind the barrier, and at length it poured in an overwhelming and destructive tide over the fair and fertile provinces whose weak and effeminate people offered but a feeble resistance to the robust armies of the north. The Romans, under the instruction of Caesar and Tacitus, had a faint idea of the usages of the people inhabiting the verge that lay around the Roman dominions, but they had no knowledge of the influences that prevailed in "the womb of nations," as Central Europe appeared to the Latins, who saw emerging therefrom hosts of warriors, bearing with them their wives, their children, and their portable effects, determined to win a settlement amid the fertile regions owned and improved by the Romans.
These incursions were not colonization in the sense in which Rome understood it; they were the migrations of a people, and were as full, as complete, and as extensive as the Israelitish invasion of Canaan - they were more destructive of property, but less fatal to life. These migratory hosts left a desert behind them, and they either gained a settlement or perished. The Roman colonies preserved their connection with the parent stem, and invoked aid when in need; but the barbarian hosts had no home, no reserves. Other races, moving with similar intent, settled on the land they had vacated. These brought their own social arrangements, and it is very difficult to connect the land system established by the aborigines with the system which, after a lapse of some hundreds of years, was found to prevail in another tribe or nation which had occupied the region that had been vacated.
Neither Caesar nor Tacitus gives us any idea of the habits or usages of the people who lived north of the Belgae. They had no notion of Scandinavia nor of Sclavonia. The Walhalla of the north, with its terrific deities, was unknown to them; and I am disposed to think that we shall look in vain among the customs of the Teutons for the basis from whence came the polity established in England by the invaders of the fifth century. The ANGLO-SAXONs came from a region north of the Elbe, which we call Schleswig - Holstein. They were kindred to the Norwegians and the Danes, and of the family of the sea robbers; they were not Teutons, for the Teutons were not and are not sailors. The Belgae colonized part of the coast - i.e., the settlers maintained a connection with the mainland; but the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes did not colonize, they migrated; they left no trace of their occupancy in the lands they vacated. Each separate invasion was the settlement of a district; each leader aspired to sovereignty, and was supreme in his own domains; each claimed descent from Woden, and, like Romulus or Alexander, sought affinity with the gods. Each member of the Heptarchy was independent of, and owed no allegiance to, the other members; and marriage or conquest united them ultimately into one kingdom.
The primary institutions were moulded by time and circumstance, and the state of things in the eleventh century was as different from that of the fifth as those of our own time differ from the rule of Richard II. Yet one was as much an outgrowth of its predecessor as the other.
Attempts have been made, with considerable ingenuity, to connect races with each other by peculiar characteristics, but human society has the same necessities, and we find great similarity in various divisions of society. At all times, and in all nations, society resolved itself into the upper, middle, and lower classes. Rome had its Nobles, Plebeians, and Slaves; Germany its Edhilingi, Frilingi, and Lazzi; England its Eaorls, Thanes, and Ceorls. It would be equally cogent to argue that, because Rome had three classes and England had three classes, the latter was derived from the former, as to conclude that, because Germany had three classes, therefore English institutions were Teutonic. If the invasion of the fifth century were Teutonic we should look for similar nomenclature, but there is as great a dissimilarity between the English and German names of the classes as between the former and those of Rome.
The Germanic MARK system has no counterpart in the land system introduced into England by the ANGLO-SAXONs. If village communities existed in England, it must have been before the invasion of the Romans. The German system, as described by Caesar, was suited to nomads - to races on the wing, who gave to no individual possession for more than a year, that there might be no home ties. The mark system is of a later date, and was evidently the arrangement of other races who permanently settled themselves upon the lands vacated by the older nations. And I may suggest whether, as these lands were originally inhabited by the Celts, the conquerors did not adopt the system of the conquered.
Even in the nomenclature of FEUDALISM, introduced into England in the fifth century, we are driven back to Scandinavia for an explanation. The word FEUDAL as applied to land has a Norwegian origin, from which country came Rollo, the progenitor of William the Norman. Pontoppidan ("History of Norway," p.290) says "The ODHALL, right of Norway, and the UDALL, right of Finland, came from the words 'Odh,' which signifies PROPRIETORS, and 'all,' which means TOTUM. A transposition of these syllables makes ALL ODH, or ALLODIUM, which means absolute property. FEE, which means stipend or pay, united with OTH, thus forming FEE-OTH or FEODUM, denoting stipendiary property. "Wacterus states that the word ALLODE, ALLODIUM, which applies to land in Germany, is composed of AN and LOT - i.e., land obtained by lot.