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

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Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 251



IX.] SMALL.STATES. 245 be justified by law, not merely by the logic of the strong hand. The whole history of Germany is, during this period, full of the same idea: small states continuing to exist side by side with larger ones ; each of them in one aspect a centre of light and political culture, in another a centre of intrigue and petty tyranny: I am not concerned to defend them, but to adduce them as facts. Italy can show parallels, but her history is, to a great extent, here, as elsewhere, exceptional, and may more instructively be made to furnish counter illustrations; but the long struggle of the Hohenstaufen in the South, and of the Lombard cities in the North, is capable of being read in the same light : they would have perished before they did, if not as they did, if it had not been for the idea of right, inspiriting the weak, dismaying the strong, and affording a rallying point for the wronged from generation to generation. But two great influences in the medieval world, the medieval empire and the medieval papacy, how are we to class them ? Is the permanent toleration of their existence to be accounted for by the fact of their legal claims, or by that sort of prestige which might seem to throw them into the class of ideas; the inherited dignity of Cœsar and of Peter? The imperial dignity, during a great part of the period before us, was shadowy in the extreme ; nay, during the whole period its substantive existence depended on the strength which the families who passed it on amongst themselves derived from their patrimonial estates. After the extinction of the Hohenstaufen, the imperial dignity became in itself an almost honorary distinction; either shunned for its costliness or coveted for the chances which it gave to a second-rate house of increasing its power by such little windfalls as might come to it. Yet it continued to subsist when any one of the great vassals might with impunity not only


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