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It is perhaps necessary to add that the objective existence of a science of history, if it were clearly established, would in its turn not prove that we are capable of its discovery and formulation.

These are, I am certain, clearly distinct shades of meaning which are suggested by the phrase "the science of history ", and I believe it is of the greatest importance to keep them distinct in our thinking and writing, as certainly has not always been done. But if there are distinctions to be made in the term “science of history”, what shall be said of the term “philosophy of history"? Here, however, I am not going to assert that a distinction really exists between the terms "science" and "philosophy", which have been used as synonymous by almost everyone who has written upon these problems. The most that I can say is that if such a distinction could be made on valid grounds it would be exceedingly useful. The key to the suggestion which I am going to venture upon is found in a passage which I quote from Flint's History of the Philosophy of History." He says: As a rule, the historians who have had no explicit philosophy of history have had but a very meagre implicit one, and the aversion which they have shown to historical generalization has had its source mainly in their own want of generalizing power.” To this I should like to add a quotation from the presidential address delivered to this Association by its first president, Andrew D. White. He said in 1884: “Buckle has shown that without a true historical synthesis special investigations and discoveries often lead us far from any valuable fruits, and that such special investigations may be worse than no investigations at all." Such authoritative assertions of the need of a guiding philosophy of history for the best historical work may seem rather discouraging to some of us, who have not been greatly conscious of any such need, but you will notice that both passages emphasize the importance of such a philosophy, as a help to generalization, for such I take it is the meaning of the quotation from President White's address. If now we turn for help in understanding these hard sayings to our brethren of the natural and physical sciences, whose older processes have received more conscious differentiation, I think we shall learn that the scientist in those fields distinguishes clearly between the actual scientific work which he is doing, and what he believes to be the ultimate drift of that work. He says: “ These observed and measured facts I have in hand; this force, which I can isolate, acts always in this way; the law of its action I can state in these definite terms. These things make up my science.” But over and beyond these things, he says:


5 The History of the Philosophy of History: France (1894), p. 14. 6 Papers of the American Historical Association (1885), I. 6.

“I believe such and such is the composition of the atom; such and such is the nature of matter and of force.” But he mingles these two sets of conclusions in no intellectual confusion. He knows that his theory of the composition of the atom, of the nature of force, is no direct part of his scientific process. He understands that it is given him by the sudden leaping forward of the imagination to discern the yet distant end towards which the plodding steps of science seem to be tending. This is his philosophy of matter and of force. But though he perceives that he has not reached it by the same valid process as the facts he knows and the laws he can state, and though he holds it subject to instant modification when new discoveries of science open a vision of new results, his final philosophy of nature is nevertheless the master light of all his seeing; it shows the direction of each new step; it reveals to his search the unifying generalization which brings order into the mass of newly collected facts. If we are to distinguish between the science and the philosophy of history, this should be the function of the latter. Our philosophy of history should be our conviction as to the direction in which our scientific study is tending, our belief as to the ultimate nature of history and the final destinies of the race, our answer to the riddle of human existence. It should be to us a source of inspiration and of courage, but we should not confuse it with our science.

But I have not yet really answered my question, What should the historian do in view of the threatened invasion of his domain by ideals and methods not quite his own? I have been occupied in saying what and how he should think. For the young historian I cannot answer the question. I seem to see many an attempt by the trained historian proper to meet the leaders of the new movement, whether regarded as enemies or allies, with their own weapons, and to turn some of their positions into a part of our own line of defense. Every attempt to unite the old and the new, to find a common standing-ground for all workers at what are really common tasks, ought to secure the hearty support of all historians. The men who try this from our side will be found however in most cases, I believe, to be the younger men. To those whose methods of work are fixed, whose training in investigation makes change not easy, and who will perhaps feel some discouragement for their own science, as this new movement broadens and deepens, I have one word of comfort, and it is to me at least of large comfort. It is this. All science which is true science must rest upon the proved and correlated fact. It can have no other foundation than this. All premature generalization, all generalization from hasty observation, from half-understood facts, is useless and often worse than useless. I am well aware that premature generalization, that wrong generalization, from misunderstood fact, is one of the necessary methods of scientific advance, but it is only so when it truly rests upon the best knowledge of the fact which contemporary science can furnish. At the very beginning of all conquest of the unknown lies the fact, established and classified to the fullest extent possible at the moment. To lay such foundations, to furnish such materials for later builders, may be a modest ambition, but it is my firm belief that in our field of history, for a long time to come, the man who devotes himself to such labors, who is content with this preliminary work, will make a more useful and a more permanent contribution to the final science, or philosophy of history, than will he who yields to the allurements of speculation and endeavors to discover in the present stage of our knowledge the forces that control society, or to formulate the laws of their action. None of the new battle-cries should sound for us above the call of our first leader, proclaiming the chief duty of the historian to establish wie es eigentlich gewesen. We have been told that to this should be added wie es eigentlich geworden; but let us not be deceived. To the true historian the being of a fact has always included all that portion of its becoming which belongs to the definite understanding of it. What is more than that we can safely leave to others. The field of the historian is, and must long remain, the discovery and recording of what actually happened.

But this does not preclude his cherishing a philosophy of history in the sense of Buckle, and Flint, and White, in the quotations I have just made. He may well hold to the belief that the facts which he is establishing tend to prove this or that final explanation of history. By such a belief his labors may be lightened and rendered more effective. In this sense it may indeed be true that God has conceded two sights to a man. One, of time's completed plan. That is our philosophy of history, under the stimulus of which we work. The other of the minute's work, man's first step to the plan's completeness. That is our daily labor in building up by long and right investigation the science of history.




Even in our days the ownership of land brings with it political advantages of many sorts. In earlier times this was much more the case; indeed, landed property was then often the very basis for the exercise of political rights. Especially was this true when lands accumulated in a single hand, and when therefore many people out-. side of the circle of family and household had fallen into a relation of dependence toward the owner and thus relations of seigniorial authority (Grundherrschaft) had been formed.

It is well known what comprehensive rights the lords of the land possessed in the period before the extinction of feudal and patrimonial powers, in the era of absolutism as well as in that of organization by estates of the realm: rights attaching to a particular property and rights dependent on the holder's position by birth; the power of a superior over his inferiors, often joined to a right of participation in the central government of the land.

It is not the purpose of this study to follow these relations in their development, in their individual variations and in their generally uniform progress. It is rather my purpose to throw light on a few phases of the relations of seigniorial authority toward the state in the earlier periods of German history-phases which have a bearing on much-discussed and fundamentally important questions: with the question of the origin of the town and of territorial sovereignty. For with the town problem and that of the growth of sovereignty is bound up the question whether seigniorial authority had a part in this development, and if so, in what measure; whether manorial law (Hofrecht), a species of law developed in the seigniorial estates, was the basis of municipal law; whether the methods employed by the larger seigniorial domains passed over into those of the administration of cities and of territories; in short what, if any, were the relations of the older organization of seigniorial authority to the institutions of town and territorial government; to those institutions which became the foundation of the whole devel

* A paper read before the International Congress of Historical Sciences at Berlin, August 7, 1908, by Dr. Gerhard Seeliger, professor in the University of Leipzig.

AM. HIST, REV., VOL. XIV.-16. ( 237 )

opment of the later and present life of the Germans as a political community.

While on one side it is maintained that seigniorial authority is the true cradle of German territorialism, that out of it the German states were developed, and that it was the social power of the earlier Middle Ages, the other side flatly denies that it exercised any profound influence.

It is my intention, starting from facts that are recognized and in their essentials undisputed, to begin by sketching the development of the economic organism of seigniorial authority. I shall then describe its further development into a politically significant community, at the same time keeping the fundamental legal elements distinct from those of historical fact. By this method of approach it will become self-evident in what measure we may assume an influence of seigniorial authority upon the genesis of the town and of the sovereign state (Landeshoheit).

Among the ancient Germans each member of a community was allotted a definite share of land for his particular use. Freedom and the right to the use of the land went together; a man's political rights secured him a fixed standing in the agrarian organism; freedom, political rights and economic independence went hand in hand.

It was the institution of private ownership in land which brought about a separation. The result of private ownership is always a a social and economic differentiation. The state no longer guaranteed its citizens a uniform economic basis; economic position was thenceforth dependent on the activity and success of the individual. There began to be active a potent individualistic principle, indispensable for all progress, and inevitably attended by important results, both social and political. The freeman who became economically dependent lost his full political independence, while whoever accumulated large property in land won increasing influence, and began to lord it over land and people.

The organization of the landed property which the churches and the lay grandees accumulated was patterned after the Roman system; not, indeed, the Roman system as it originally existed, but that system greatly modified by the addition of German elements, and in the course of historical development to a greater degree Germanized.

Characteristic of the system from the outset was the distinction between demesne land (Salland) and tenants' land. Only a small portion of a lord's estate was exploited by the lord himself or by his agent, the villicus, who was already known in Roman times; most of the land was in the hands of dependent people. Every

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