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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 249



imprisoners for the future, in a far wider realm than that of practical legislation. But this has taken me rather off the point. The great men, I have said, were law abiding ; so also were the small men : and the same standing ground furnished the strength of both. Perhaps the easiest example to take is from the end of the period, the Emperor Frederick III; a man whose history, if it did not fall in a period of worn-out influences, in which the old order was vanishing in the twilight that ushered in the new, would be worthy of the deepest study. Here was a man, nominally the master of the world ; a man capable of the highest aspirations for the future of his house, able to lay his plans and to compass designs which, read by the light of his existing means, look like the merest dreams of the merest visionary; a man of capacity and a man of ambition, but possessing with the crown of the Caesars hardly a rood of land in his own undivided possession ;—within his reach, with but an infant's life between, a great inheritance to which he might assert a colourable claim, and which ultimately fell to his descendants, yet silently, patiently waiting, and holding back his hand from all unrighteous aggression : his designs, dreams as they seem, come to fruition in the third generation, and his impoverished house becomes mistress of half, or more than half, the world. He contented himself with his right and his rights, and the idea was still so potent as to lay the basis for the powers of the next age. Unfortunately no one can be enthusiastic about Frederick III, but he has his place in the moral history of kings. But to proceed ; the continued existence of small states throughout the middle ages is a very important illustration of the subject before us; another is the extreme dislike, apparent in both continental and English history, to the forcible extinction of historical claims to territory. I do not mean to say that there were not some very remarkable £ 2


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