Page:Frontiers.djvu/29

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27
Frontiers

miles in extent in which neither people were permitted to settle under penalty of death (though latterly it began to be encroached upon by colonists from both sides), and which became an Alsatia for roving banditti. A more innocent reproduction of the same idea may still be seen in the Neutral Ground between the British and Spanish Lines at Gibraltar. Travellers have reported the existence of the same device for keeping apart the lands of tribal communities in Central Africa, in the interior regions of the Soudan, the Congo, and the Niger.

In mediaeval times we see a more developed form of the same expedient in the Marks or Marches—a part of the settled policy of Charlemagne and Otto, and generally of the Frankish and German kings. From these Marks, intended to safeguard the Frontiers of the Empire from Slavonic or alien contact, and ruled by Markgrafs or Margraves, sprang nearly all the kingdoms and States which afterwards obtained an independent national existence, until they became either the seats of empires themselves, as in the case of the Mark of Brandenburg, or autonomous members of the German Federation. The same word (already familiar in the Marcomanni or Marchmen of the days of Antoninus), and in slightly different forms the same practice, reappear in the West Saxon kingdom of Mercia, or the March-land, in the Marches between England and Wales, for five centuries the scene of bloody conflicts between the Marcher Lords or delegates of the English kings, and the Welsh inhabitants; in the title Marquis, springing from that office; in the Wardens of the Marches, three on the English and three on the Scottish border, who watched each other from both sides of the Tweed and the Cheviots, and interwove a woof of chivalry and high