Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/435

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memory to the French peasant. Seyssel says that one-third of the land of France was restored to cultivation within these thirty years. Moreover, it was not until the reign of Louis XII that the peasant felt the full benefit that he should have received from the establishment of a paid army. Under Louis XI the discipline of the regulars was still imperfect; and the arriere-ban was even worse. For good government and for bad government alike the peasant had to pay; to pay less for better government was a double boon.

But what of that institution, the Estates General, that attempted to bring the three Orders (in which the peasants were not included) into touch with the central government? The representative institutions of France had always been the humble servants of the monarchy. At the utmost for a moment in the time of Etienne Marcel they had ventured to take advantage of the King's weakness, and to interfere in the work of government. The interesting ordinance of 1413, known as the Cabo-chienne, is not the work of the Estates, but of an alliance between the University, the people of Paris, and the Duke of Burgundy. As a rule, the Estates approach the King upon their knees. They supplicate, they cannot command. Legislation is not their concern; even if a great ordinance, as that of 1439, is associated with a meeting of Estates, it cannot be regarded as their work. Their single important function, that of assenting to the faille, is taken from them almost unobserved in 1439. The provincial Estates of central France continue to grant the tattle till 1451, when their cooperation also ceases. Normandy, and more definitely Languedoc and the later acquisitions, retain a shadow of this liberty. But with the power of the purse the power of the people passes slowly and surely to the King.

Parliamentarism was doomed. Louis XI only summoned the Estates once, in 1468, to confirm the revocation of the grant of Normandy which he had made to Charles. The Treaty of 1482, which required the consent of the Estates, was sanctioned by not less than 47 separate local assemblies of Estates. On his death an assembly was summoned to Tours (1484), which was perhaps the most important meeting of Estates General previous to 1789. Each Estate was here represented by elected members. Thus the freedom of the assembly was not swamped by the preponderance of princes and prelates. The persons who took the lead were distinctly of the middle class, gentlemen, bourgeois, clerks. Three deputies were as a rule sent from each ballliage or senechaussee; but to this there were many exceptions. The assembly was divided into six sections, more or less corresponding to the generalites,—Paris with the North-east, Burgundy, Normandy, Guyenne, Languedoc with Provence and Dauphine, and Languedoil, which comprised the whole of the centre of France together with Poitou and Saintonge. Each section deliberated separately. Then the whole met to prepare their bills of recommendations (cahiers), which were presented separately by the three Estates.