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but the legal modifications or alternatives of the punishments for many offences lead us to believe that, in early times, the extreme penalty was rather considered as held in terrorem. Thus, according to the Laws of Oleron as accepted in the Black Book, a mariner smiting the master is to have his hand struck off-with the alternative of a fine of five shillings ;* and a juryman guilty of discovering the counsel of the king and of his fellow-jurymen, shall with all due ceremony, and after public proclamation of his offence, have his throate slit and his tongue
drawne thereout and cutt of from his head, if he doth not pay a fine or ransome for the same according to the discretion of the admirall or his lieutenant' (Black Book, vol. i. p. 45).
In fact, nominal severity and cruelty, tempered by practical leniency in the administration, would appear to have been the basis of criminal jurisdiction in the middle ages. But there are some offences which do not admit of any such leniency; and in the nautical code, such are all offences against the ship. A breach of discipline, however flagrant, is an injury as between man and man, and may possibly be arranged; an offence against the ship, endangering the loss of all on board, of the ship herself and the cargo, is a more serious matter. A man who steals a boat or anchor is to be hanged on conviction. A man who is accused of stealing 'a buoy rope of what value
soever, which is tyed to an anchor in the water,' is to be hanged--not, if convicted, but unless he be thereof acquitted by twelve men.' The pilot, who through negligence or ignorance, runs the ship aground, is to be brought to the capstan and have his head cut off; but if he does it on purpose for the sake of wrecking, he is to be hanged on a very high gibbet in the immediate neighbourhood of the place, and
the said gibbet ought to be left on the said spot in perpetual *memorie, and to serve as a landmark to other vessels that shall come there.'
From the earliest times we find most stringent edicts against wrecking: the laws of flotsom and jetsom too, descending directly from the Rhodian code, were very clearly defined; but the executive would seem to have been unable to enforce them. It is well known that these laws were habitually set at defiance, and that, within comparatively recent times, on many remote parts of the coast, wrecks were systematically plundered,
* The Black Book has .cinq soulx.' Many of the MSS. have cent soulx,' which Sir Travers Twiss thinks is the correct reading. It does not seem improbable that the custom of the English Admiralty Court had purposely mitigated the alternative penalty.
whilst those who escaped from the sea found worse enemies on land.
This was the case in every age all over the world, but was never perhaps carried to such an extent as by the natives of the Malabar coast, who maintained that not only wrecks, but * all ships which, being driven by stress of weather, put into their harbour for shelter, were sent there by the gods for their benefit, and seized on them as a religious duty. Piracy with these people was a national institution; they cruised abroad in large fleets, and, after plundering merchant ships, dismissed them with the hope that they might fall in with them on a future occasion. In the Mediterranean a similar state of things long continued. The Algerines and other natives of the north coast of Africa have been called pirates in all European histories: but the distinction should be made; they were certainly not pirates in the modern sense of the word-no-nation scoundrels,who rob and murder indiscriminately; they were true to each other, to their countrymen and fellow-subjects, though they carried on a cruel and continued war against the Christians, who, on their part, were well able to defend themselves, or to take very summary vengeance. It has never been the fashion to call the Knights of St. John pirates; but pirates they were, in exactly the same sense that the Algerines were; they harried the Turks, as the Algerines did the Franks, and latterly for exactly the same reason—their private advantage. We hear a great deal of the Christian slaves barbarously treated by the Moors, and released from their captivity by the various expeditions, French or English ; but few who have visited Malta, and inquired into the origin of the massive fortifications and yawning ditches, can have avoided the reflection that the Turkish slaves did not lead a life of luxurious indolence.*
It is scarcely to be doubted that the Venetians were at first, in a similar manner, a mere body of pirates or national corsairs, as indeed the inhabitants of the islands and creeks of the Dalmatian coast long continued. The half-savage remnants of a maritime tribe, driven out of their homes, and sheltering on a few barren islands, fearing and hating their neighbours, do not immediately settle down to steady commerce, to develop, aster centuries of peaceful and prosperous trading, the piratical instincts which we find in the Venetians of the ninth and tenth
See Porter's History of the Knights of Malta,' vol. ii. P.
274, where it appears by a letter from Charles II. that the knights systematically sold their slaves to the kings of France and Spain, for service in the galleys.
centuries. We may more reasonably conclude that these outbreaks of wild adventure were rather the survival of some of their earlier habits not yet fully tamed down by wealth, trade, and settled government. In young communities, the first requisite for success is energy; order, regularity and law have often shaped themselves out of very unpromising beginnings ; and it is not a little singular to remark that the greatest commercial seaport of modern days first rose to preeminence by fitting out slavers and privateers. Whatever may have been the origin of the wealth and commerce of the ancient Phænicians, it is quite certain that in modern times the only exception to the rule of naval power springing out of habitual piracy is that of the German Hansa, or as it has been more commonly called in English, The Hanseatic League. This was, in its origin and in its strength, purely commercial, a union for mutual defence against the common foe, or in support of rights and privileges. We have dwelt hitherto almost exclusively on points which, though not strictly belonging to the subject of his title, Mr. Lindsay has treated at great length, and with much misapplied ingenuity; but the history of the Hansa, a power which, through the later middle ages, was supreme in the Baltic and the Danish sea, and which was nevertheless purely commercial, based on trade both by sea and land, is distinctly within the limits he has sketched out for himself; so that we may be permitted to express our surprise at the all but total omission of even the name of this celebrated league.
When Northern Europe slowly emerged from the.barbarism of the dark ages, we find several of the Germanic towns occupying a peculiar position, claiming a peculiar acknowledgment, and receiving peculiar privileges as trading communities. The interests of these seem to have been closely associated with English commerce, and as early as the twelfth century, Henry II. gave the merchants of Cologne, of Lübeck and others, letters of safe conduct and protection, of permission to trade freely in England, more especially to sell Rhine wines in competition with those of Bordeaux, and in short securing them all the usages and liberties which the merchants of • Germany have enjoyed in the times of our predecessors, • kings of England. The friendly feeling which these letters show continued, through many centuries, to exist between the English Government and the Germanic States, undisturbed
* The letters are given at length by Sartorius, in “Urkuudliche • Geschichte des Ursprunges der deutschen Hanse,' vol. ii. pp. 3, 4, 8. 4to. Hamburg, 1830.
by political jealousy or assumption, though probably not without occasional clashings of commercial interest with the merchants of London, and certainly not without occasional differences, as to maritime rights, with English corsairs. It is thus that the German League has little part in English state history, whilst in the Baltic and in the North Sea it became a formidable naval power.
The word hansa signified originally a number of men collectively, and is used by Ulfilas as the Gothic equivalent of the Latin multitudo and cohors (Luke vi. 17; John xviii. 3, 12). In later times, it first appears in England, and is applied by King John to the guilds of the citizens of York and the burghers of Dunwich,* in almost exactly the sense that was long attached to our word 'factory' as a settlement of merchants in India and China. Curiously enough, however, the word, as first accepted in North Germany in this connexion, had a very different meaning. In the year 1270, a statute of Hamburg fixed definitely what each merchant trading to Flanders, Utrecht and Osterkerken had to pay as Hense, where it has the obvious signification of toll cr custom's duty; and in a Lübeck statute of 1299, the payment of similar Hense is ordained (Sartorius, vol. i. p. 10). There is no distinct record of how these statutes extended to other states, but that they did so seems established, and the merchants subject to them became gradually known as the merchants of the German Hansa, a name which thus had at first no territorial significance, and referred merely to some common agreement relative to duties, which may perhaps be compared to the Zollverein, as it existed till within the last
years. In course of time, however, it was applied to the towns where the agreement was accepted ; and is first so used in a public document dated at Lübeck in 1358 (jenich Stad van der dudeschen hense ; Sartorius, vol. ii. p. 445), after which the expression Hanse-towns (Hansestädte) came rapidly into common use.
The edict just mentioned specially names as present when it was drawn up, the representatives of Lübeck, Goslar, Hamburg, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar and Brunswick, whilst other towns, not named, had assented in writing to the decision of the meeting. This decision was no less than commercially excommunicating Flanders ; on account of injustice and in
• Eboracum, or the History and Antiquities of York,' by Francis Drake, p. 203, fólio, 1736; ‘Historical Treatise of Cities and Burghs or Boroughs,' by Robert Brady. App. p. 10. 1690.
- jury done to Allemannic merchants of the German Hansa,
it is resolved that trade with Flanders is stopped. This is repeated in great detail, and the prohibition enforced by penalties of banishment and outlawry. Clearly then the Hansa had already become a power in the State. A few years later, in 1367, another assembly held at Cologne, consisting of representatives from Lübeck, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar, Amsterdam, and several others whose names are now of little importance, formally declared war against the King of Denmark and Norway (Sartorius, vol. ii. p. 606). This decree, which, like the other, is most carefully detailed, and gives a favourable idea of the clear and businesslike turn of mind of those who drew it out, was afterwards forwarded to the other towns which had not sent deputies,-amongst many others, to Brunswick, Hamburg, Kiel, Stettin, Riga and Reval; but it does not appear that the inland towns took any part in the war, either by furnishing troops or money.
The result of the war was entirely in favour of the Hansa. Their fleet scoured the Baltic; they took Copenhagen and Elsinore; they landed on the coast of Norway and devastated the country with fire and sword; within three years peace was concluded, the terms being dictated by the Hansa as conquerors; the navigation through the Sound was declared free, and the King of Denmark had to swear recognition of the rights and liberties of the German merchants.
It is very evident that a league of this nature between the whole commercial interest of Northern Germany, engrossing to itself all the moneyed wealth of the country, maintaining armed garrisons, and fitting out armed ships, must have attained enormous political influence; and it is the only instance in modern times of such a power originating in and supported by commerce, and by commerce alone. But a very large proportion of this commerce consisted in the overland traffic of Indian and Oriental goods through Germany to the Northern ports, from which England, Western France, Russia, and Sweden were supplied. It was this that gave such towns as Cologne or Augsburg their mediæval wealth and celebrity, and that set up such houses as the Fuggers or the Welsers as the equals of princes. With the cessation of this Indian trade their prosperity waned, and at the present day they are the mere relics of a past greatness.
It is interesting, therefore, in comparing the past with the present, to examine into the points of resemblance or of difference between these former seats of life, activity, wealth, trade, and power, with the grass now growing in their streets,