Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/370

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Diets, although very frequent, very busy and very noisy, remained in a rudimentary state.

This short sketch of the political constitution of pre-Reformation Hungary would, however, be incomplete without laying special stress on the fact that there was no trace of Western feudalism either in the social or the political institutions of the country. Medieval no doubt the structure of Hungary was, even in the opening period of modern history; it was, however, a type of early, almost pre-feudal times, tempered by strong and wholesome elements of the modern national State. The adherence of Hungary to this medieval type rendered her less capable of progressing by the side of the far advanced and modernised States of the West with anything like equal rapidity; the factors of national life, on the other hand, afforded her the possibilities of a greater, if belated, future. Thus the Magyar kingdom stood in point of time between the Middle Ages and modern times; just as in point of space it lay between the Orient and the Occident.

In Bohemia, again, only noblemen enjoyed the actual rights of full citizenship. However, owing to the constant intercourse between Bohemia and Germany, German feudal ideas penetrated into the Cech kingdom; and in the fifteenth century Cech noblemen were divided, not merely de facto, as in Hungary, but de lege, as in Germany, into two classes-the Vladyks or magnates (in Cech also: pani, slechtici), and the knights (in Cech, rytierstvo, meaning the Estate or Order of the knights). The most important gentes of the Bohemian magnates were the Vitkovici, Hronovici, Busici, Markwartici (to whom belonged in the seventeenth century the famous Wallenstein), Kounici, each branching off' into a number of noble families, frequently with German names (Kiesenburg, Schellenberg, etc.). The tendency to make of the Vladyks or magnates a real caste, differing in rights, power, and prestige not only from the burgesses and unfree classes, but also from the knights, was so strong, and was so much aided by the terrible Hussite movement, from which the magnates contrived to derive more benefit than any other section of the population, that by the end of the fifteenth century they had in Bohemia proper monopolised the whole government of the country, and were possessed of most valuable and almost regal rights as lords on their estates. The Moravian high gentry, by a convention of 1480, entered on the statute-book, actually went so far as to restrict the number of Vladyks to fifteen, and thus practically established themselves as a closed caste. In Hungary, as we have seen, the magnates were never able to assert similar privileges at the expense of the ordinary gentry.

The Bohemian peasantry (in Cech: sedldk, rolnfk) were, previous to the Hussite Wars, in a tolerable position, although there always was among them a very large number of villains and half-serfs (in Cech: chlap, sluh). The introduction of German law into Bohemia undoubtedly