Sense of History: an unfinished draft of an undergraduate history textbook by Robert C. Binkley, 1939-40. This transcription is not yet fully corrected.
If villages are half botanical, cities are half mineral. They are of earth, of baked clay, of stone, and of dead timbers that were once trees. The village names its fields; the city, its streets. The city accumulates geologically underfoot its mineral debris, and slowly raises its ground level. It fills in its marshes; it planes off its hills. In the plains of Mesopotamia skeletons of cities overlie each other, layer upon layer; in America the city dump is levelled off as a park or factory site.
The people who live in the city must eat with the same periodicity as the people in the country, but they are so numerous that the area within walking and working distance may not sustain the plant and animal life necessary to provide their food. Therefore they have to live from the surplus of the farms and villages.
Why should people crowd together in such numbers that they must live in such dependence? When they are so crowded together, how do they induce the men of the farms and villages to feed them? To answer these questions fully is to describe a civilization. Peoples who are not civilized do not need to answer them, for they have no cities. Peoples who support cities must answer them. Perhaps that is what makes them civilized.
Cities, compared with villages, are as we have seen a new form of human association. Citified man appeared only about six thousand years ago, and then at only a very few spots on the earth's surface. Village life had matured at least two thousand years prior to the appearance of city life, and had spread more widely.
Three purposes, it seems, have brought people to crowd together in cities: defense, worship, and trade. The city is, therefore, in its primitive form, a fort, a temple, and a market.
As a fort it belongs to the world of power: as a temple to the world of opinion; as a trading place to the world of debts and markets. It has a wall around it, for the fort must repel the outsiders; it has a temple or church in the center, for the cult must hold together the insiders; it has a road running through it -- the artery of its life.
In our age of states, the city has ceased to be a fort. It is no longer a place to which people rush for protection, but rather a zone from which they flee in time of war danger. It is no longer a center that [p.112] defends, but a vulnerable point that needs to be defended. The modern state has deprived the city of its once basic function in the world of power. So in European cities the old walls or bulwarks (boulevards in French) were torn down and their sites transformed into broad avenues. The word "boulevard" changed its meaning; it now means an avenue, not a city rampart. On Manhattan Island the Battery (once a fort) became an aquarium, a little shrine of science and education, and the place that was once the city wall -- Wall Street -- became the money market. The city, no longer a fortress, thrives as an intellectual and business center.
In the era of nationalism the world's population became increasingly citified. In 1815, at the beginning of the Metternich period, there were in Europe twenty-six cities of over 100,000 population. During the Metternich period fifteen more passed this mark; during the Second Empire (1850-70), twenty-six; during the Bismarck period (1870-1890), forty-six; in the Pre-war period _______ ; and in the Long Armistice _______ entered the list. The larger cities have grown more rapidly than the smaller ones. Europe now has ten cities of over a million.
If we count only cities of 100,000 population in our statistical measurements, there are four zones of urban concentration in the world, in which more than 25% and up to 43% of the people live in these great cities. These four zones are Australia, the Argentine, the United States with Canada, and a part of Western Europe (Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France).
These figures do not express the full measure of urbanization, first because there are many places of less than 100,000 population which would have to be counted as cities, and second, because the census taker lists only the people who sleep in the city, not those who work or trade there. Finally the welfare and security of people who never see the city may be dependent upon what goes on in the city. Famines originate in the fields of villages and farms; business depressions originate in the streets and buildings of cities. At present the four zones of high urban concentration are more troubled by the insecurities arising from business depression than by those arising from famine. The big social problems of the day are those defined by urban rather than by rural situations.
[p.113] Though it may be difficult to define a city for statistical purposes, we can recognize one when we see it and know that it has its own rhythm of life, its own rate of change. Dealers in urban real estate are rich or poor according to how accurately they calculate and foresee the rate, the character and the direction of a city's changes. And when we look back through the past, we must realize that cities have longer life spans than states. London is older than England, Paris is older than France, practically all the Italian cities are older than the kingdom of Italy. Barcelona saw Carthaginian, Roman, Visigothic, Arab, and Frankish empires and kingdoms rise and fall. If a state is annexed to another, it dies; a city conquered by one state from another lives on. So cities remain while states come and go.
Strassburg is in Alsace in the Department of the Lower Rhine, in France. It is a city. We might know this from its name, which is German for Street (Strasse) and Fort (Burg). It has its temple too. Its great cathedral, which took four hundred years to build, towers over the whole city, and is visible to a traveller approaching Strassburg for many miles before he sees the city itself.
If we had a slow-motion moving picture of Strassburg, taken from the air through two thousand years, it would show a beginning in the Pre-Roman age, when a slight scabrous excressence appeared on the smooth marshy meadows along the river Ill, close to its confluence with the Rhine. The cluster of brown scabs on the meadow are, of course, the roofs of the wooden hovels of Celtic fishermen. The diseased area spreads, and soon a quadrangular stone wall rises around it. a walled camp and garrison. (16 A.D.). But the wall cannot contain the malignant scrofula of roofs and streets; the roofs spread out beyond the wall. After three centuries there are recurrent flashes of flame that sear these roofs and leave scarred land over which the vegetation closes, (A.D. 355, 406, 451). Then it appears that the barbarians have destroyed not only the city but the tissue by which it was nourished. The Roman age has come and gone.
The shell of the Roman wall remains; the meadows heal themselves around it. But the source of [p.114] infection does not quite heal, for within the wall there is still a cluster of roofs. Another cluster forms itself in the meadows nearby -- an Allemanic village. It is a new town, beside the old. And so the Barbarian Age has come and gone.
Then a wooden palisade loops out to enclose the new town with the old. A deep ditch carries the water of the Ill around the new shell, which encloses thrice the area of the old. Still the roofs squeeze their way cast the wall, and new walls, this time of stone, successively reach around them (1199, 1344, 1441, 1531). Meanwhile a strange tumulus of stone has been growing within the area of the old Roman wall -- the cathedral (1015-1439). And so the feudal age has come and gone.
In the modern age the wall makes one last envelopment to the southeast, and at its extreme corner crystalizes in a five-pointed star -- the citadel built by Vauban in 1682.
In the era of the Old Regime there are some bulky growths that rise within the circuit of the walls - a new bishop's palace, a palace for the royal praetor, a hotel for the military commandant. Some new streets are broken through the maze of buildings.
In the period of Metternich the walls still compress the city in their compass, the buildings become more dense; the houses overhang the streets. Outside the walls a large patch of vegetation, criss-crossed with roads, appears. It is neither a farm nor a forest, but a park -- the Orangerie.
In 1870 there are a few days of fire -- bombardment. A third of the buildings crumble. They are soon rebuilt.
Finally in the Bismarck period the walls disappear, and the infection of roofs and streets runs wild over the meadow land, joining with smaller encrustments that have been activated by the same malignancy. The new suburbs have opened.
In the pre-war period the marshes by the Rhine are cut into rectangles of water and land -- the new Port of Strassburg, toward which the coral-like growth of houses spreads.
During the Long Armistice new species of growth [p.115] appears. They are neither palaces nor parks, but have something of the features of both. They are the new housing developments, the model apartments and the garden cities: the garden cities of Neudorf, of Robertsau, of Alexander Ribot, and the apartment-cities named for Jean Dolfuss, Leon Bourgeois, Jules Siegfried, Georges Risler, and Louis Loucheur. They are little cities within the great one.
Such would be the picture of the development of Strassburg as a mineral growth. Now what of the Strasse, the roads that fed it and gave it the other half of its name. One can see these also from the air. There is the water-road -- the Rhine, and two land-roads, one following the valley of the Rhine north and south, the other crossing, east and west. The road south from Strassburg is the road to Burgundy, and beyond Burgundy to Rome; the road west is the road to Lorraine, and beyond Lorraine to Paris. The roads north and east are the roads, to Germany. The Rhine and the roads were there in the Roman age. Today the old Roman roads are paralleled by Railways, and the water road by canals.
We must now inquire how the people who built these houses and walls obtained their livelihood. How did they induce the villages to feed them.
In Roman times the place now called Strassburg was named Argentoratum. It was the headquarters of the VIII legion. The legionnaries drew their pay in money and grain. Surplus from the surrounding villages was thereby drawn to Argentoratum in the form of taxes. The city was a consuming center in which taxes were spent. Oberschefflenz paid, and Argentoratum consumed. Some landowners with holdings in the region may have spent their revenue in the town, thus adding to the inflow. The civilian population added to its income by making some profits in the wine trade and the slave trade, and possibly from the manufacture of arms. The city maintained the ordinary religious and civil practices of a Roman municipality. It had its temples of Augustus and other Roman gods. In the late Roman age new religious cults appeared. With the garrison troops the most popular of the new cults was the worship of Mithra, the all-conquering Sun; among a few civilians the cult of Christ took hold. The Roman garrison disappeared from the scene as the Roman Age ended, but the Christian community remained. (Hauck: Kirchengeschichte I, 34)
In the Barbarian Age, Strassburg received its new German name; it came to be held, like Winchester, by its bishop. The population was probably not more than 1500, [p.116] including both the old town within the old Roman wall, and the new town outside it. It was more like an overgrown village, an oversize manor, than a city. The people who lived in the protection of its walls cultivated the soil. They had their fields and their village commons; they worked on the demesne land. They sustained themselves, and helped to sustain the permanent garrison and the household of the bishop.
The old Roman tax system was no longer administered, but a new system was arising by which the surrounding villages were brought to surrender some of their surplus to Strassburg. The tithe, which we saw introduced in Oberschefflenz, was also collected in Alsace. The bishop of Strassburg collected it in his diocese. For this and other governmental purposes he required a staff of administrators -- his "family" (familia). Moreover the Frankish kings, like the kings of Wessex and of England, granted manors to their bishops, and the bishop of Strassburg had manorial rights in many Rhenish villages, just as the bishop of Winchester had manorial rights in Crawley. The bishop required more than food and drink for himself and his retinue. He needed arms and saddles and other products of handicraft. His churchmen gave vocational education to the villagers, who thus became artisans, doing craft work instead of farm work for their lord.
When the great bishop Heddo in the 8th century granted some manors to a monastery across the Rhine at Ettenheimmunster, he made the grant "with the consent of his clergy and burgers." The clergy and burgers were those residents of the old city that helped with the administration of the diocese and defended the burg. Since their livelihood came from the revenues of the diocese, they were consulted about the gift. The working people lived in the new city. Their livelihood came either directly from the soil or in-directly from the revenues collected in the old city, and used to sustain them in their lowly services to their betters. Some few of them were merchants who stored their goods near the walled burg for safety.
Just as the VIII legion was the magnet that drew income to Strassburg in the Roman Age, so the episcopal seat drew it in the Barbarian Age. The cult lived on the city in the Roman Age; in the barbarian age the city lived on the cult.
The last of the barbarian invaders -- the Magyars -- raided the open country but could not capture the burgs. Refugees fleeing from the Magyars added to the population of Strassburg (910) and then the Barbarian Age had passed,
[p.117] In the feudal age Strassburg grew rapidly in population. Reuss -- 1150, population 5,000; 1200, 10,000. In 1300 its population may have reached 50,000. The Black Death in 1349 decimated the city, and other circumstances held it down to the 20 or 30 thousand level. Even so, it was one of the four largest cities in the Germanic part of Europe. Not until 1789, at the beginning of the era of nationalism, did it again approach the 50,000 mark.
Feudal Strassburg, as we shall see, got rid of its bishop as a ruler, and became a "free city of the Empire", 1262. But it did not cease drawing directly upon the surplus of the countryside, for its wealthy families held land from which they drew rents, and many monastic foundations within its walls lived on land endowments that brought an income into the town. (In the Barbarian Age the endowment of monasteries had more frequently diverted income from Strassburg than drawn it there, for people in Strassburg then left their property to distant cloisters.) The interest on loans made by the citizen to the gentry and nobility furnished another channel by which the village surplus was directed to the city. A peculiar political privilege was obtained by the citizens of Strassburg from the Emperor Philip of Suabia in 1206; the privilege of tax exemption for property outside the city. Since citizenship in Strassburg brought tax exemption, it was eagerly sought by landed tax-dodgers throughout the upper Rhine area. The city sold its citizenship to such applicants, giving them the status of "out-burgers". Many of the out-burgers moved to town and spent their revenues in Strassburg. Then they merged with the wealthy citizen class within the walls. But the Strassburg of the feudal age was not only a city of consumers, living on dues, rents and interest drawn from the land. It had become a city of merchants, living on the profits of trade up and down the Rhine, and along the old Roman roads, and also a city of artisans, living on the profits of manufacture.
The city's own surplus was invested in its two major items of capital equipment -- its walls and its cathedral. It maintained a great storehouse of grain to carry its people through famine years.
Strassburg depended for food on the surrounding countryside. A five mile zone around the city was its "ban-mile". (The French word for suburb "banlieu" or "ban-league" is derived from city law of the feudal age). Within its ban-mile Strassburg enforced a ban on the export of foodstuffs and on peasant household industry. All the food had to be brought to the Strassburg market and there offered for sale. No citizen was permitted to go out into the country to buy it in advance. The Strassburg market was regulated for the benefit of the consumer. The idea of a protective tariff, by which people try to exclude goods from their community, would have seemed absurd to the people of Strassburg in the Feudal Age.
[p.118] In their commerce the citizens of Strassburg were hampered by a multiplicity of tolls on the Rhine. The number of these toll stations grew from 19 in the 12th century to 62 or 64 by the end of the feudal age. Every ten miles the boats would be stopped to pay some exaction. Strassburg maintained its own toll, levying on the commerce of other cities.
The merchants took good care that all commercial dealings in the city left some profit in their hands. It was unlawful to offer goods at private sale. All visiting merchants were required to bring their goods to the public Sales-House and there store and offer it, after paying a market tax on it. Each merchant from outside had his Strassburg sponsor, without whom he was not permitted to do business. Thus the Strassburgers made sure of the profits of trade.
In regulating the distribution of goods within the walls the city attempted a broad and coherent policy. Sumptuary laws, beginning in 1129 and continuously reaffirmed and elaborated for six centuries fought a perpetual battle against competitive luxury standards of consumption, and in favor of the ideal of suitable subsistence. The guild organization undertook to share the work among the artisans on the principle that suitable subsistence should be provided for all. The market was policed to enforce a "fair price". The poor were maintained not only by begging, but also by the income from foundations and bequests administered by the church. A hospital was established in 1100. A "Shelter for the Unfortunate" (Elenderherberg) was founded in 1360 to give relief to pilgrims. Sustained by public collections, it became a relief station for peasants fleeing to the city in time of war devastation. A special indulgence was offered to contributors to a fund to maintain a hospital for lepers. To an increasing degree after the city freed itself from its bishop these establishments were operated by the city authorities. But proposals made in the fifteenth century to give relief systematically to all paupers, and then prohibit begging, was blocked by church influence.
The basis of subsistence in Strassburg was not much changed during the first two eras or the Modern Age. (1440-1775). Only in the Era of Nationalism was there a complete reorientation. In Era of the Reformation the craftsmen of Strassburg exhibited their skill in the making of the famous Strassburg astronomical clock, completed in 1586, which was one of the wonders of Europe. Gutenberg, who was an "out-burger" of Strassburg, made an effort to develop his invention of printing there, and after he had launched it at Mainz the art was quickly picked up in Strassburg.
[p.119] In the Mid-modern era, (Old Regime), the city was annexed to the French monarchy, (1681). This permitted holders of royal privileges to break through the guild restrictions and begin some larger scale industries, notably the manufacture of blankets, and tobacco products. These industries brought a few thousand additional wage workers into the city, to increase the mass of unprivileged residents. The French connection was not wholly advantageous to Strassburg's economy. The transit dues continued to harass commerce, and a promising pottery industry was nipped in the bud because it competed with the royal porcelain works at Sevres. The Hannong family of Strassburg, contemporaries of the Wedgwoods in England, were improving the technique for the manufacture of faience and porcelain in the first half of the 18th century but the royal government forced them to emigrate with their business across the Rhine. (1752)
From the time of its annexation to the French monarchy in 1682 to the present day Strassburg has been a frontier city, as it had been when it was the Roman military post of Argentoratum. It was French till 1871, then German till 1918, then French again. Whether it was French or, German, it was always the base of a garrison, supported by taxes drawn from an area greater than the city itself. The expenditures of the garrison and of civil administrators supported by national taxation made the city a consuming center.
While the population of the city was growing from 49,000 at the beginning of the Revolutionary period (1789) to 100,000 in the Bismarck period (1890), the consuming element in the population was of first importance in drawing sustenance to the city. But with the improvement of Rhine navigation in the pre-War period, and the increase of population to 180,000 in the city, and 300,000 in the urban area (1935) the economic basis changed, and Strassburg came to draw its living primarily from its service as a commercial entrepot for Alsatian trade and a manufacturing center for a great variety of goods that found markets all over the world.
This transition can be followed through the whole Era of Nationalism.
In the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period the movement of armies through the city was a source of prosperity. Strassburg was also a center for smuggling. Revolutionary legislation in France opened all France to commerce, free of transit tolls, and Napoleonic reorganization in Germany put an end to the Rhine tolls. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 made the abolition of this age-old nuisance a matter of international treaty legislation.
During the Metternich period (1819) a protective tariff on the importation of grain was for the first time [p.120] levied by France. This hurt Strassburg's consumers, for one of their sources of food and meat supply was across the Shine, in Baden. Since the city was then essentially a consuming center at the time, it gained little from the protective tariff, and lost much. For centuries the public policy of the city -- and of France, for that matter, had been to restrict the export of grain, not its import.
The tariff of 1819 was a complete reverse of this policy. As the city passed the 50,000 mark and maintained a slow but steady growth, the effects of crowding became noticeable in higher house structure and in houses that projected over streets, shutting out sunlight. One Professor Fodere, of the medical faculty of the Strassburg Academy, recommended in 1823 that the old city ramparts should be torn down to give more space for air and ventilation. His recommendation was not out into effect till the Bismarck period.
Later in the Metternich period the issue over high food prices due to the protective tariff reached a crisis point. The tariff of 1825 had increased the duties on cattle imported from Germany from 3 to 55 francs per head. On September 26, 1831 a mob of angry citizens decided to go to the Rhine bridge and bring in cattle duty free. The prefect allowed an emergency reduction of 50% to prevent revolutionary violence, but the government in Paris over-ruled him, and Strassburg continued to nay high food prices for the benefit of agriculture in Normandy and other parts of France. The agitation quieted down when a new prefect, M. Seres, induced the French government to launch the construction of railways and canals in the 1830's. Lower transport costs ultimately reduced food costs. The Second Empire continued railway building. The Compagnie de l'Est built 521 miles before 1870. in Alsace and Lorraine. (The German government increased this mileage to 1250 in the Bismarck and pre-War periods.) In 1856 a canal was completed from the Marne to the Rhine, meeting the Rhine at Strassburg. When the city was handed over from France to Germany in 1871 it had a population of 70,000.
In the Bismarck period the principal source of increased population was a horde of German immigrants, many of these in the public services. The city broke through its wall, and more than doubled in area. The newly opened section became the residence district for wealthy families. In 1890, as the population passed the 100,000 mark, one third of the residents of the city were Germans, only two-thirds Alsatians. While the city improved the public services -- water supply, sewage, lighting, etc. under the administration of an able German burgomaster, Otto Beck, its economic life was comparatively stagnant. It could live and grow on the revenues that came to it as a garrison city and a provincial capital, but it was not favored by a high development of industry and commerce.
[p.121] The Strassburgers blamed their situation on two things: an unfavorable railway rate structure, and the defective maintenance of the channel of the Rhine. The state of Baden, across the river, owned its own railways, and made railway rates favorable to the development of export traffic through Baden. Moreover, the city of Mannheim further down the Rhine was the head of efficient navigation on that stream, and its citizens were unwilling to see the channel upstream improved to divert their traffic to Strassburg. Since Mannheim interests were protected by Baden, proposals to improve the Rhine channel were constantly sabotaged in that quarter. Feudal Age Strassburg had its trouble with transit dues on the river; the Strassburg of the Bismarck period had its trouble with navigability. When Strassburg was French its consumer interest was sacrificed to Normandy; when it was German its commercial interest was sacrificed to Baden.
In the pre-War period, under the leadership of a new burgomaster, Rodolphe Schwander, the city overcame its difficulties. The Imperial German government overruled Baden. The national capital, Berlin, helped the city with its transport problem, as the national capital, Paris, had helped it in the 1830's and under the Second Empire. The Rhine channel was finally improved, and en efficient port built. The railway rate structure was modified to facilitate exports. In 1892 only 11,000 tons of freight came up the river to Strassburg; in 1913 the Port of Strassburg cleared two million tons. Baden countered this success by promoting the city of Kehl, across the river from Strassburg. How the rivalry would have turned out will never be known, for in 1918 the French recovered Alsace Lorraine.
The French protected the city's interest in the Versailles treaty settlement by putting the control of the Rhine channel into the hands of an international commission, competent not only to control dues but to maintain the channel. During the Long Armistice the French government constructed a canal along the left bank of the Rhine upstream, toward the south. Electric power, some of it from hydro-electric plants, became available to the increasingly diversified manufacturing industry.
With its transportation system brought up to date, the merchants of Strassburg were able to make their city the clearing point for heavy traffic in grain and coal throughout the region. In 1931 they tied up the coal trade with an arrangement that recalls the merchant practices of the feudal age, when trade was forced to clear through the Strassburg market. An agreement between the Rhenish Coal syndicate which controlled the German supply and a French syndicate that controlled distribution gave a monopoly of coal distribution through upper Alsace and parts of Switzerland to Strassburg. In the company which holds this monopoly, 75% of the stock is held by the Port of [p.122] Strassburg. The German producers agreed to furnish this company 1,200,000 tons of coal a year, the French Rhine fleet had the exclusive right to transport it.
The livelihood of Strassburg in the Long Armistice drawn neither from France nor from Germany, but from a world market area of which France and Germany are a part. Gas and water meters are exported to the Argentine, Rumania and Turkey, chemical products go to the French colonies, Spain, Italy and Germany, and so one might go on through a list of manufacturing products whose diversified character shows a great exfoliation from the production of the twenty guilds of the Feudal Age.
But when the world market collapses, then the people of Strassburg have recourse not merely to their city, but also to the whole French nation, now their last resort in the maintenance of life. This situation has come about in the evolution of public relief in the Modern Age.
It was in the administration of relief that the Reformation era saw a great innovation in Strassburg. Strassburg went over to the Lutheran religion, and this gave the city government a chance to take over the administration of catholic monastic endowments, and to divert some of their revenues to poor relief.
The Strassburg poor law of 1523 was perhaps the first modern poor relief system in Europe. All resources were but under unified control. About one third came from old Church endowments, and two thirds from city taxes. Then a comprehensive administration was installed to distribute relief. A magistrate with four assistants directed policy with the help of a council consisting of nine "honorable men" from each parish. Every quarter the supervisors visited every pauper home. Red and white shields were affixed to the doors to mark the houses of the worthy poor to whom private givers might make donations. The system was so effective that an influx of paupers threatened. In 1594 it was necessary to refuse relief to non-residents unless they would work for it.
In 1904 a method of combining the efficiency of a technical supervisory staff with the value of the voluntary services of "honorable men" was worked out in Strassburg and widely known in Europe as the "Strassburg system". As in 1523 the city was divided into poor relief districts, and at the head of relief administration in every district a voluntary worker held responsibility. The voluntary workers formed a Relief Council. A permanent paid staff was responsible for making the investigations that would prevent fraudulent abuse of charity.
[p.123] The municipal system of direct relief had thus not changed very much through the whole Modern Age, but alongside of it two systems have grown -- a national subsidy for unemployment relief, and a system of social insurance.
The relief of the unemployed is now subsidized part by the French state, under legislation enacted 1926-1933, according to a sliding scale which increases the percentage of the cost assumed by the national treasury in proportion to the severity of the unemployment situation in the locality. If the number of unemployed on relief is 10 per thousand inhabitants of the city, the national government pays 60% of their costs; this would mean that the first 1800 cases in Strassburg are supported on this quota base. The next 1800 cases receive seventy per cent national funds, thirty per cent local; the next 1800 cases received 80% of their relief money from the national source, and beyond that 90% of the cost is paid by the state, and only 10% by the city. Thus the state protects livelihood when the world market fails to sustain it.
If Strassburg had remained in Germany, substantially the same kind of subsidy would have been paid. Under the German law of 1926 four-fifths of the cost of local unemployment relief would have been met from national German funds. As of 1933 the entire burden would have been born nationally, but paid from the proceeds of a special tax levied on wages. Details differ, but the principle that the nation now stands back of the cities in guaranteeing a minimum of livelihood is the same.
Apart from unemployment relief there is a system of social insurance. The system of insurance made its appearance in the Bismarck period, when Strassburg was a German city; it was codified in 1911 to cover sickness, disability, old age and death. When Strassburg became French again in 1918 this social insurance system was allowed to remain, though it was adapted in some details to the French legis-lation of 1928 on Social Insurance.
Whereas relief in the feudal age was based on the principle of the Christian virtue of charity, relief in the modern age came increasingly to be based on the principle of governmental responsibility for life-maintenance, and than upon a mathematical principle of insurance, of sharing risk. The governmental unit that took this responsibility was the locality -- the city for its citizens, till the Long Armistice period. Then the state stepped in. Insurance had developed first as a part of the organization of the risky part of commerce -- ocean shipping, then spread into many other situations where there is risk -- life insurance, fire insurance, insurance against hail storms destroying crops, etc. Then through the last three [p.124] periods of the Era of Nationalism - the Bismarck, Pre-war, and Long Armistice periods, it provided the formula for a public policy which offered security against the eternal human risks of livelihood.
In the houses, the streets, the public buildings of Strassburg today people not only live but play the game of power. So also the game was played within the walls of Strassburg when the city was walled. And always in the city, as in a family, there has been an internal power system, and above and beyond that an external power system intruding from without, along a line of management or a line of appeal. The power relations have of course depended upon the ideals that people in the city have built up in their minds of what their behavior should be. Always we must return to those little scenarios of life that each person constructs for himself, and in which he sees himself playing his proper role, deferring to those to whom he should defer, resisting those he should resist, commanding those he should command. These ideas, these dramatizations, are a part of the world of ideas and opinions; they can be changed by changing people's ideas and opinions. For that reason they are best examined in relation to history of ideas of Strassburg, to the history of the city as the place where the people have their temple, to the history of the foundations of belief that the people of the city have shared.
There are three buildings in Strassburg that are the homes of power -- from which power is exercised over the people of the city. They are the city hall, the prefecture and the military governor's residence. In 1936 Charles Frey was mayor in the city hall, M. Roblot was prefect, and General Hering was military governor of Strassburg.
There are other buildings which are the local centers of the world network of ideas and opinion. First the Cathedral, second the University, third the newspapers offices especially the editorial offices of the catholic Elsaesser, the democratic Strassburger Neue Zeitung, the radical Republique and the autonomist Freie Zeitung.
The three men who represent in Strassburg the world of territorial-political power, Frey, Roblot and Hering, got their jobs by different processes. Frey was elected by the city council which was itself elected by the people of Strassburg in May, 1935. Roblot and Hering were appointed to their posts by officials in Paris from whom they take orders.
[p.125] The tenures of office of these three men illustrate two different bases of power organization. The one is coalition, union, combination, alliance. A fusion of parties which were themselves combinations of individuals gave Frey his job. The other is administrative organization, hierarchy, line of management and line of appeal. Let us examine more closely the party system and the administrative hierarchy, civil and military, as these came to a focus in Strassburg.
Mayor Frey was elected by a majority of twenty out of thirty-six councilmen. These twenty were elected on a fusion ticket in 1935. The parties that were in the fusion movement were the Catholics, (both the right wing under Anna and the left wing or popular Catholic party under Walter), the Socialists, the Democrats, (led by Frey: the party of big business in the town), and the Radicals, party of traditional liberalism, traditionally anti-clerical. Opposing this fusion ticket were the Communists and the autonomists. The Communists belong to an all-European party; the autonomists demanded home rule for Alsace.
In the election of 1929 the communist Huebner had been elected mayor. He was successful in that election because the popular Catholics, led by Walter, then aligned themselves for election purposes with the autonomists and communists. When the popular Catholics changed their alignment in the election of 1935 they changed the balance of power in Strassburg.
The party which provided the main issue of the campaign of 1935 was the autonomy Party, the Heimatbund. The program of this party was directed against the prefecture, against the control of Alsace by the agents of a centralized French government. The popular strength of the party was drawn from the Alsatians who felt that they were being shelved by Frenchmen, and who were made to realize that their deficiency in the command of the French language was a handicap to them. Countless irritating incidents that had occurred in the course of the reintegration of their land in the system of French administration had created grievances. Some of the leaders of the movement, such as the Prussian-born Bickler, leader of the Young Men's Group, or Rene Hauss, son of the one-time State Secretary for German Alsace Lorraine, were people whose career prospects had been blighted when Alsace became French in 1918. The autonomy party was also related to the Alsatian movement that had resisted Germanization in the Bismarck and Pre-war periods. It had then been anti-German, and was now in a sense anti-French. It represented a type of political party which, under varied circumstances and in different scenes, had operated throughout the era of nationalism. It was a nationality party.
[p.126] The specific demand of the Alsatians was for home rule; their opponents charged them with wishing to detach Alsace from French rule and return it to German rule. The campaign was bitterly fought on this issue. Since Adolf Hitler was then the leader of Germany, the autonomists were charged with being adherents of Hitler. The fusionists declared that a vote for Dahlet (leader of the Heimatbund) was a vote for Hitler. The prefecture used its influence to support the fusionists. Radio programs from Germany supported the autonomist ideas. Of course all the newspapers took sides.
As far back as our records go in giving us details of city life, there have been such party contentions in Strassburg. And one or another party within the city has usually been found associated with some kind of leadership or support outside the city. Feudal Age quarrels of popes against emperors, or of rival candidates for the Imperial office, have been reflected in the partisan alignments of the city itself.
M. Roblot, the prefect, and General Hering, the commandant, were educated for careers; they passed examinations, received appointments and promotions, in the civil service and army respectively. They both stand midway in a hierarchy. They are in a line of management. They take orders from people above them, and give orders to people below them. In 1936 M. Roblot took orders from M. Peigne, director of the section on departmental and communal affairs in the Ministry of Interior in Paris. M. Peigne in turn took orders from M. Graux, chief of cabinet of the Minister of Interior; M. Graux, in turn, took orders sometimes from M. Paginot, the Minister of Interior. Of course M. Paginot would never have time to study all the questions upon which decisions had to be made and orders given. He usually signed what his subordinates set before him for signature. Once in a while there would come through to M. Roblot an order which had been the subject of deliberation in the French Council of Ministers.
General Hering took his orders from General Conde, Commander of the twentieth military region, and General Conde deferred to General Gamelin, Chief of the General Staff. General Gamelin on some matters would defer to Jules Fabry, the Minister of War, but of course M. Fabry, like M. Paginot, lacked the technical knowledge that would be necessary if he were to make many decisions.
The hierarchy -- the line of management -- of the civil service runs from M. Graux down through M. Roblot to the lowest employees of the prefecture; the hierarchy of the army runs from Gamelin down through General Bering to the [p.127] corporals and the private soldiers. But the Minister of War and the Minister of Interior occupy posts which come to them in the same way that M. Frey gets his post. They are designated by parties in the French Chamber of Deputies, and the parties establish the balance of power in the Chamber as the result of national elections.
H. Frey had a local civil service of about 800 people under him. The little hierarchy of Strassburg local city officials was in fact older than the hierarchy of French national officials. The cities of Europe preceded the states of Europe in developing administrative routine and paper-work in the modern sense. In the modern age the states of Europe imitated the administrative efficiency of the feudal age cities. Strassburg's internal administration reached a point of development at the end of the Feudal Age which French royal administration did not reach till the Modern Age.
If at any time Mayor Frey should have a dispute with prefect Roblot over their respective powers, their dispute would be carried along a line of appeal to the French Council of State. It would probably be settled in that section of the Council of State over which M. Pichat was presiding in 1936 -- the section on matters of interior government and education.
All coalitions -- whether of individuals in a party or of parties in a fusion, and all hierarchies, whether civil or military, and whether they are lines of management or lines of appeal, presuppose that the right people have the right ideas and opinions. The members of the party must have ideas that lead them to regard other party members as close to them; often these will be ideas of common interests, but not always. The members of the hierarchy must understand each other, so that they know what is meant by an order, so that each knows pretty well how the others will act in certain typical situations. A party requires solidarity, a hierarchy requires discipline. A party can be disintegrated and a hierarchy broken down by changing people's ideas and opinions. In the same way a party can be constructed, and a hierarchy organized.
The hierarchy that ruled Strassburg in the Roman Age bore a certain resemblance to the hierarchy of today: Lyons, Rome and Byzantium were the outside centers of power over the citizens, as Paris is today. Of the party conflicts of the city no record has survived save for a doubtful fragment of evidence that relates to the organization of the Christian Church in that place.
[p.128] It seems that St. Amandus, first Christian bishop of Argentoratum (Strassburg), went to Cologne in the year 346 A.D. to attend a Church Council at which Ephrates, bishop of Cologne, was deposed.
Why did the bishop of Strassburg go to Cologne to participate in deposing another bishop? The question at issue was a theological dispute -- the Arian-Athanasian controversy. It had originated twenty-seven years earlier in the distant city of Alexandria when Arius, a lecturer on scriptures was dismissed from his job for teaching that Jesus Christ came into existence later than God, and had not, like God, existed for all time. Ephratus of Cologne was accused of holding similar ideas. Maximin, bishop of Treves, was the regional leader of the Athanasian or anti-Arian party, and Amandus of Strassburg sided with him. It was a typical ideological conflict. The subject of dispute was a proposition, stated in words, which one party held to be true, and the other party averred to be false. The partisans, identifying their friends and their enemies by the acceptance or rejection given to the critical formula, followed the ordinary rules of the power game in rewarding their friends, punishing their enemies, depriving their enemies of their tenures of office, and establishing in office their own partisans.
The Allemanic tribesmen who replaced the Gallo-Roman inhabitants of Argentoratum, and gave the city its new name, Strassburg, in the Barbarian Age, were pagans when they settled there in the 5th century. Two centuries later they were Christians. We know this because the Allemanic law, which was a compilation of customary or traditional law that was put into writing and ratified by a tribal assembly in the mid-Barbarian Age includes references to pagans, but incorporates Christian rules. The law makes the protection of the Church the first duty of the people, prohibits Sunday work, protects the asylum right of churches, and regulates work on church land, where each peasant is to work three days for the church, three days for himself. Paganism was evidently on the wane at that time. The advent of the new religion must unquestionably have been accompanied by conflicts between the partisans of the old faith and the new, but of these we have no documentary record.
We have, however, a record of the process of conversion. An Anglo-Saxon monk by the name of Pirmin worked in the diocese of Strassburg in the 8th century. He left a book of instructions on propaganda technique which reveals the state of religion in Alsace at that time. He was working against the pagan practices that hung over from the past -- against prayer in the forests and beside sacred springs, and in favor of prayer in church, against pagan fertility [p.129] rites in the cornfields, and in favor of bringing the tithe to the altar to insure a good crop. He pronounced the words of Holy Writ as against popular pagan tradition. He and his kind did their work so well that eight hundred years later, (1525) in the peasant war, the peasants appealed to the Bible against the oppression of the very cloisters that had supported the Christian propaganda of the 8th century, and, while they protested against many dues and exactions, did not protest against the tithe. The clerical parties or Anna and Walter in the election of 1935 are founded on the work of such men as Pirmin in the Barbarian Age.
In the mid-Barbarian Age Strassburg was ruled by its Bishop. The great bishop Heddo, contemporary of Charlemagne, regarded the city as his own estate, its people as his people. Since the population at that time was not much larger than the population of a village, no elaborate apparatus of administration was necessary. The rule of the bishops lasted for five hundred years, from the middle of the eighth to the middle of the thirteenth century. The people were subjects of the bishop, and the bishop in turn was a subject of the Emperor, and owed service to him.
Not only the religion, but the language of Strassburg was established in the Barbarian Age. The language was Allemanic German, as the language of Oberschefflenz was Franconian German. It happens that one of the most inportant documents on the history of the German and French languages is the record of an event that occurred at Strassburg -- the oath of friendship taken by two warring kings, Louis and Charles, grandsons of Charlemagne. Charles took the oath in a Germanic language, so that the followers of Louis could understand it, and Louis took it in a language halfway between Latin and French -- the language that Charles' followers could understand. These differences of language were not a cause of conflict between these Barbarian Age Kings; only in the Era of Nationalism was language deemed to be something worth a war. Nevertheless we must attest that the conditions which made the autonomist party of 1935 possible, like those which made the catholic parties possible, originated in the Barbarian Age.
Only in the Modern Age was the Allemanic dialect challenged by other languages -- French and High German -- and the religious faith by reformed versions of the cult and by irreligious philosophies. The late Barbarian and Feudal Ages had other things to fight about.
Typical of innumerable conflicts of the late Barbarian and the whole Feudal Age was the rift between the citizens and their bishop in the year 912. A war was in progress between the partisans of Charles the Simple, last of the house of Charlemagne, and Conrad of Franconia, newly elected [p.150] king of the Germans. Bishop Otbert of Strassburg took the side of Charles, the citizens took the Side of Conrad. The citizens drove the bishop out of the city in 913; the bishop retaliated by placing the city under an interdict, forbidding religious services there. The interdict was a devastating penalty, comparable perhaps to the cutting off of some public utility in a modern town. A gang of angry citizens hunted the bishop down and killed him. Thus did a power conflict that had originated over the wider expanse of Europe propagate itself within the city.
The beginning of the feudal age saw the clergy of Strassburg brought into the higher intellectual currents of Latin Christendom. The monk Victor was brought by the great bishop Erckenbald (965 A.D.) from the monastery of St. Gall to Strassburg. By such methods the intellectual level was raised above that which such missionaries as the monk Pirmin had established. The clergy of Christendom were sufficiently in communication with each other to form parties on questions of principle.
The great question of principle that divided the ruling classes of Europe into two rival camps in the early feudal age was a conflict over the relation of the Church hierarchy to the hierarchy of the Emperor. Both these hierarchies were external to Strassburg. Everybody recognized that both hierarchies were a natural and necessary part of the organization of Christendom. The question was whether such great lords as the bishop of Strassburg should be essentially the appointees and servants of the Emperor or of the Pope. The conflict was not only a war of arms but a war of pamphlets -- manuscript political propaganda written on parchment and circulated by both parties. The conflict opened between the Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII, and continued long after both had died. Three successive bishops of Strassburg from 1084 to 1114 took the side of the Emperor in this fight. Pope Paschal tried to get the citizens of Strassburg to side with the papal party and turn upon their bishop, as they had turned on bishop Otfried in the last years of the Barbarian Age. But Emperor Henry IV bribed the citizens with favorable transport privileges to Cologne, and they remained loyal to his cause.
The effects of this partisan alignment survived to the late feudal age, not only in Strassburg, but in many parts of Europe. The same factions that divided Italian cities -- Guelphs and Ghibellines, divided Strassburg. In the Strassburg aristocracy the Zorn family led the Guelph party, the Mullenheims the Ghibelline. In 1315 Louis of Bavaria was warring against Frederick of Habsburg for the Imperial crown. The Zorn family backed Frederick, while [p.131] the Mullenheims backed Louis. When Louis won, the Mullenheims were rewarded with some Imperial fiefs.
That Strassburg partisanship in the Feudal Age should reflect the alignments of European parties was a natural consequence of the view of the world that the average Strassburger had at that time. Their world view is illustrated in the historical chronicles that were written by Frederick Closener and Jacques von Koenigshofen in the late Feudal Age. These chroniclers began their books of history by listing the popes since Jesus Christ, the Emperors since Julius Caesar, the Bishops of Strassburg since St. Amandus, and then the account of the events of the city itself. Pope and Emperor, bishop and city, this was the framework of their picture of the world. No conception of membership in a nationality was present. Their ideas were at once more local and more universal than those of the men of the era of nationalism.
Internally, Strassburg's party conflicts turned on the control of the city government. But what was the city government, and what did it mean to control it?
If we compare the mechanics of government in Strassburg at the beginning of the Feudal Age with the mechanics of its government today one outstanding contrast is that at that time nothing was put in writing, while today everything must be put in writing. Modern administration, whether in government or business, is paper-work. Without paper modern government could not function. The world's supply of parchment would not suffice to bring modern collections of statutes and decrees to the people who must consult them, to say nothing of the tonnage of warrants, receipts, vouchers, and reports that pass daily through the mill of administration. It was in the 15th century, at the beginning of the Modern Age, that paper was superseding parchment in Europe. This was also the time at which modern forms of administration took hold in Strassburg.
The government of Strassburg in the early feudal age was the bishop's government, but what did this mean? Bishop Erckenbald went off to Italy on a military expedition with Emperor Otto in 988. Who really gave Strassburg its day-to-day administration?
A priceless parchment from the mid-Feudal Age -- the twelfth century -- has survived. It is a written constitution of the city. The opening sentence of this document, like the preamble to the Constitution of the United States, states succinctly the high principle upon which the city government was established: "The city must be a place of safety for all its inhabitants, and the public peace must be respected by all." The principle is of course older [p.132] than the document in which it is written down. It was expressed in the very fact that the city was walled, and in the traditional system of courts for the administration of justice which were no less effective because they operated, through the Barbarian Age, without the use of writing.
How was the city made safe for all, and respect for the public peace enforced in the feudal age? Military defense against outsiders was the responsibility of a class of citizens called "constoflers" -- (the word is related to "constable"). These were people of sufficient means to maintain a horse. The city was divided geographically into wards. In each ward there was a drinking room in which the constofflers held their court. They were responsible for the inspection of the arms of all the citizens.
The maintenance of the public peace was also a matter entrusted to courts, like the courts of the village of Oberschefflenz, and of the Zehnt of Mossbach. The procedure of these courts was oral procedure: the people met and testified on any case as to what the customary law of the case was, and gave their judgment on it. The bishop's authority was simply that he could appoint the officers of the court, and this authority he shared with the Emperor. For only from the Emperor could a court have authority to condemn a man to death. The highest court of Strassburg in the mid-Feudal age met under a judge (scultete) who had been appointed by the bishop. This judge chose two assistant judges to sit with him, and three jurors, one from each of the three quarters of the city. The scultet had the right to sentence to death, but this right was derived from a special authority received through an Imperial vogt from the Emperor. (The right of high justice over Oberschefflenz, it will be remembered, was also a prerogative of an Imperial vogt).
There were three other city magistrates appointed by the bishop, namely the burgrave, the master of the mint, and the tax collector. Only members of the bishop's "household" could be appointed to these offices. The bishop's household consisted of a group of families who had established their monopoly of the higher offices. They were the families who became the patrician class of the city -- the class that survived in its special place till the French Revolution.
The artisans developed their own organization, their own drinking rooms and their own courts. These took over the judgment of disputes arising out of business relations. They became the guilds. In the mid-Feudal age a man could belong to more than one guild if he chose, and none was excluded. By the end of the feudal age the guilds had closed their ranks to newcomers, just as the patrician [p.133] class closed its ranks in the early feudal age.
The patrician families made a good thing of their monopoly of office. In 1201 they set up a city council which gave stability to their political monopoly. This city council of eight to twelve men acted in the name of the bishop, but largely in the interest of the patrician families. They were particularly selfish in the use of the common land or almend that belonged to the city. The city councilors exploited it for themselves. As the members of the council claimed life-tenure in their posts, the bishop found his authority receding into the background.
In 1260 a new bishop, Gautier de Geroldseck, tried to break the power of this patrician political ring. He appealed to the humbler citizens against their council, addressing them in German rather than Latin. The city council replied by rebellion, and the guildsmen sided with the council. The bishop called up an army from his vassels of the surrounding countryside -- an army of knights and nobles, but this army was defeated by the guild infantry in the battle of Hausbergen in 1262. Thereafter the bishop ceased to exercise civil authority over the city. Only the emperor's authority continued to be recognized. And since the emperor had counted on the bishop to represent his authority in the city, this meant that there were no local representatives of imperial power. Strassburg was a free city of the Empire, -- the Holy Roman Empire
The triumph of the patricians against the bishop had been possible only because the guildsmen sided with the city council. But with the bishop out of the way, the patricians exploited their victory against the humbler classes. Their monopoly of higher justice was so used that no guildsman could win a lawsuit against a patrician unless he became the client of some member of the patrician caste. The patricians were riven by the factional feud of Zorns and Mullenheims.
During the remainder of the Feudal age the underlying basis of partisan alignment in the city was that of guildsman against constofler and patrician, The first crisis came in 1332. It happened in that year that the patricians were holding a great feast. The Zorns and Mullenheims got to fighting, and seven Zorns were killed. During the riot the artisans, under their guild leaders, took over the city, seizing the keys, the seal and the flag. With the city in their hands, they forced the expansion of the city Council to give them representation in it.
[p.134] The Black Death came in 1349. There was then a debtor-creditor antagonism, and the Jews of Strassburg were creditors. All down the Rhine came the story that the plague was the work of the Jews, who had poisoned the wells. The patrician members of the Council, creditors themselves, tried to protect the Jews, but when a Jew confessed under torture to the crime of well-poisoning the mob could not be restrained. Led by one of the Zorn family -- the populace led by a patrician -- a mob massacred the Jews and turned on the city burgomaster, driving him out of town along with the remnants of the Jews. This crisis increased guild representation on the Council.
The city itself was at this time (the 14th century) joining in the party politics of the Rhineland; cities and princes were organizing into leagues and confederations, Strassburg sided with the Duke of Wurtemburg against the Swabian League, and then joined a League of Rhenish cities to make war on the robber barons who were praying upon merchants.
The patrician class was becoming increasingly identified in interest and style of life with the landed nobility outside the walls. This was partly the result of the spread of the "out-burger" privilege. Strassburg patricians had manors and castles through the Rhine valley. They welcomed the protection of the city, but hated to submit to its jurisdiction which they no longer controlled. In 1419 this situation led to a crisis. The patricians were required to take an oath to the city magistrates. A group of them refused, withdrew to the country and organized a League of United Nobles against the city. A short war defeated and humbled this opposition. The patricians were received back to the city after being compelled to pay anew for their privileges. They lost more seats on the city council at this time.
The increased size of the city, and the increased complexity of its problems led at this time to a tightening of its administrative machinery. The transition from the old general-purpose administration by a council, supported by a whole array of guild and constofler courts, gave way to a structure of specialized "chambers" with a specialized hierarchy of officials. By 1482 the new system was stabilized in the form it held till 1789 when the French Revolution swept it away.
The policy-making powers of the government of Strassburg at the end of the Feudal age lay in three "Secret Chambers" called the Thirteen, the Fifteen and the Twenty-One. The Thirteen grew from a special committee established to conduct war and foreign policy in 1392, the Fifteen was set up in 1433 to maintain each of the other organs of [p.135] government in its allotted sphere of responsibility; the Twenty-One grew from the small "Committee on the Work for Our Lady" that had been established in the fourteenth century to supervise the building of the cathedral. Since the members of this committee had life tenure, and interlocked with the membership of the other Chambers, it became a general advisory body of "old friends", and made a place for itself in the Constitution of the city. Apart from these three Secret Chambers there was the committee of three in charge of the "Penny-tower" (treasury), the committee of six that supervised the government of the villages that the city had acquired, and other committees with special duties. The old city Council remained, more an honorary body than a real center of policy making. And the twenty guilds held the right to send each fifteen delegates to a Council of Three Hundred, which was the nearest thing to popular representation in the constitution.
The members of these Councils rotated in office, but actually the whole magistracy became a closed corporation. Under the guidance of the Secret Chambers a great array of permanent salaried officials held office, -- secretaries, masters of rents, directors of the Sales House, and so forth. The sons of the leading families began their administrative experience in these posts, and then rose to membership in the Secret Chambers. Whereas previously everything had been handled orally, now everything was out in writing, and the practice of keeping the archives became an essential feature of government. The reformed administration of poor relief in 1523 was simply another instance of the tightening of city administration.
Along with this system of administrative offices there emerged a permanent system of courts, which followed the example of the Court of the Holy Roman Empire in a procedure that reduced everything to writing.
The stabilization of this system of government by a professional governing class nullified the effects of the guild victories of the 14th Century, for even though the guildsmen, through their representatives, could participate in elections of members of the Secret Chambers, the real apparatus of government was closely held in the aristocratic families. Moreover, the guilds themselves became exclusive corporations, and under them there grew a population that had no political privileges or rights whatsoever, -- people who were merely "inhabitants" of the city, not its members. This class was increased by the immigrant laborers who worked in the industries that were exempted after 1682 from guild restrictions. But no power crisis between the city governing class and the lower classes came to a head till the French Revolution.
While the internal government of the city was tightened up, its foreign policy and defense methods changed. [p.136] The guild infantry was no longer used in war. Companies of soldiers hired by contract took their place. At the same time the relation of the city to the region was changed. When Strassburg was ruled by its bishop this relation had been a common membership in the same diocese; when the bishop was ejected from the city the city leagues and the network of castles of the noble outburgers provided a substitute regional organization. In the 16th century the day of leagues had passed, and the outburgers were liquidated. Strassburg then placed its regional relations on a basis of territorial acquisitions. By purchase, mortgage and in a few cases by conquest the city acquired dozens of villages and towns which it organized into administrative districts. The revenue from these holdings flowed into the city treasury, and the baronial castles on some of them furnished a protective system of garrisons. Strassburg was more than a city; it was a city-state.
The fourteenth century guild revolutions had brought the lower classes into participation in a power system that operated by the oral interpretation of customary law in popular courts; in the eighteenth century French revolution the masses were assaulting an organization of power in which a hierarchy of professional career men manipulated archives and paper. Between these two internal revolutions in the city there intervened two decisive changes in the superstructure of power over Strassburg -- the Protestant Reformation which broke the link with the Pope, and the French annexation which broke the link with the Emperor.
The Pope's authority in the city was not extinguished when the bishop was driven out. In 1287-90 the Pope put the city under an interdict to enforce his decision in favor of the Dominican order in its dispute with the city over the recognition of bequests. A few priests stuck by the city and offered religious services despite the interdict, which was lifted after three years. Nor did the Imperial authority count for nothing simply because there was no Imperial official in the city. In 1383 the city backed up one of its out-burgers, Bruno de Ribeaupierre, when he held an Englishman, John Harleston, for ransom. King Richard II of England appealed to Emperor Wenceslaus to secure the release of the prisoner. The Emperor held Strassburg responsible for the act of its outburger, and when John Harleston was not released, Wenceslaus placed the city under the ban of the Empire. When the ban was proclaimed, Strassburg merchants in cities throughout the Empire were arrested and their goods seized. All the noble debtors of Strassburg citizens rejoiced to be relieved of their debts. A group of them organized an army to conquer and pillage the city. While the city defended its ramparts [p.137] against attack, its agents negotiated with the Emperor to have the ban lifted, and finally bought release for 32,000 florins. But the losses to the citizens in plundered goods and unpaid debts and costs of defense were many times that amount; they have been estimated at a million.
The Protestant Reformation was a Europe-wide ideological and interest conflict, like the Arian-Athanasian controversy of the Roman Age, and the controversy of Pope against Emperor in the Feudal Age. The party document that started the alignment of opinion in this controversy was a series of ninety-five theses or propositions which Martin Luther nailed to the door of a church in Wittenberg in the year 1517. These theses were posted in Strassburg in the following year, and one Mathew Zell appeared to interpret and preach the new doctrines. When Zell was excluded from the pulpit of the Cathedral, the people brought him a portable pulpit and he continued to preach. The city magistrates favored the reform movement. In 1524 the Lutheran rite was substituted for the Roman in the Cathedral: the people partook of the sacramental wine as well as the bread and the service was held in German instead of Latin. Then the city government seized the revenues of sixteen of the monasteries and foundations in the city, and devoted them to education and poor relief. Thirteen "prebends" or stipends that belonged to the Foundation of St. Thomas, and had been devoted to the support of thirteen of the clergy were diverted to the support of thirteen teachers in a new school -- the Protestant Gymnasium of Strassburg. It has been noted that poor relief was also reorganized at this time. The city authorities took over control of the public services which the clergy had previously controlled. The link with the Papacy was broken.
Though Strassburg was a Protestant city for the whole era of the Reformation, some few Catholics remained unpersecuted within its walls. They did not constitute a party, however, for they were hopelessly outnumbered in the city, and there was none to whom they could appeal effectively for support from outside. Emperor Charles V in the 16th century, and Emperor Ferdinand II in the 17th would have been glad to restore Roman Catholicism to the city, but could not spare the force that would have been required to do it.
It was otherwise when King Louis XIV of France replaced the Emperor as the external ruler of the city, for the king could place a garrison in the city fortifications and a royal representative in its government.
All Alsace save Strassburg had been brought under the French crown in 1648. King Louis made careful preparations for the conquest of the city itself in 1682. He was following [p.138] the "rounding out" policy normal for any dynasty, whether at Kock or in France. He was also interested in restoring the Catholic religion.
In the fall of 1682 Louis sent an army under the command of Louvois to camp in the vicinity of the city. On September 27th these troops were brought up close to the city fortifications on pretext of holding manoevers. A French raiding party seized a small fort. The city government sent a letter of protest. It received a reply inviting it to send a delegation to Louvois at his camp "to learn the intentions of His Majesty". The delegation learned, of course, that His Majesty desired the capitulation of the city -- that he wished the city to ask for the protection of the French crown.
The secret Chambers convened; they stayed in session all night. To resist was hopeless. They thereupon drafted the terms of a capitulation that would preserve intact their internal government, with its interlocking councils and committees and its bureaucratic careers. Louvois was in a hurry, for King Louis had already started on a slow progress toward Alsace from Versailles, and was expecting his minister to have the city ready for him to enter. Only two significant modifications were made in the terms of the capitulation as drafted: that the cathedral should be turned over to the Catholic cult, and that the artillery should be surrendered to the king. Conceding these two points, the city preserved its internal form of government.
While King Louis was advancing in his slow progress toward the city, the bishop of Strassburg entered with a brilliant cortege of nobles. He came as no bishop had come since 1262. Three days later the king made his solemn entry. Strassburg was now a royal city of France.
The immediate effect on the internal affairs of the city was to build up a Catholic party. Conversion to Catholicism became a fashion. The king appointed a royal praetor to represent him in the city and to support the Catholic propaganda. Six years after taking over the city in 1687, Louis decreed that in filling city offices every other man chosen must be a Catholic. The so-called "Alternative" decree made conversion a short-cut to political advancement. The Catholic party of today in Strassburg owes a debt not only to the monk Pirmin of the Barbarian Age, but also to Louis XIV of the Old Regime.
Along with the Catholic religion came the French language, and French fashions in dress. The religion worked its way down through all social classes; the language and fashions of France took hold only in the top social layers, save as immigrants from France swelled the population of the city. French culture took hold of the Strassburg aristocracy as it took hold of the whole aristocracy of Central Europe during the Era of the Old Regime.
[p.139] The French seizure of Strassburg not only changed the party structure within the city, but gave rise to new alignments over Europe as a whole. All up and down the Rhine there was consternation and fear because of this sudden seizure of a great city in time of peace. Louis made a move to calm the fears of the German princes. He notified them that this was his last territorial demand; he would have no further claims. Meanwhile he worked secretly with the Turks to induce them to attack the Holy Roman Empire. When his conduct four years later in laying claim to some Palatinate territory proved that his assurances could not be trusted, a European coalition formed against him, and Europe was plunged into the War of the League of Augsburg.
The episode followed a pattern recurrent in the power politics of Europe. The most recent repetition was in 1937-39.
The city hall remained the center of power over the citizens of Strassburg, but it had now two rivals. The royal praetor built in 1730 the palace that became the modern praefecture. And Vauban constructed the citadel which was thereafter garrisoned with French troops, under a military commandant.
The next great chapter in the history of power in Strassburg was written in 1789. It was another of these Europe-wide ideological conflicts which give a certain common form to all kinds of special local controversies and antagonisms. For the sources of such conflicts we must look to those institutions in which systems of opinion are created and from which they are propagated. In modern Strassburg we have recognized three: the cathedral, the university, and the newspaper press. The Cathedral was made possible by the success of the Christian party in the ideological conflicts of the Barbarian Age, which are unrecorded; the system of ideas represented by the Cathedral were the basis of the Feudal-Age controversies of Papacy and Empire, and the Modern Age Controversy of the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation, however, gave rise to another institution -- the school, which grew into the university. The University in turn came to propagate ideas which underlay the French Revolution. And in the French Revolution the political newspaper press established itself in Strassburg.
The Protestant Gymnasium or high school that had been launched in the era of the Reformation became a University in the Era of the Old Regime. In 1621 the city bought a university charter for its school by paying the Emperor Ferdinand II the sum of 60,000 gulden. Only an act of the Emperor could give an institution within the Holy Roman Empire the right to grant degrees.
[p.140] The French annexation of Strassburg did not directly affect the university. The decree of the Alternative of 1687, which required that half the officials of the city should be Catholics, was not applied to the University professorships. Only in 1751 did the French praetor in the city attempt to put Catholics on the faculty and then his attempt failed.
The University of Strassburg became a favorite school for the sons of European noble families preparing for their careers in high state offices. In order to make the place more attractive to this clientele the University introduced a course in riding. One of the features of the place that drew this class was the currency in the same city of the German and French languages. Strassburg was the only university in the Europe of the Old Regime in which lectures could be heard in three languages: Latin, German, and French.
One of the students who has left a vivid description of the university in its Old Regime setting was Goethe, the great genius of German letters, who received his degree from Strassburg in 1771. Goethe states frankly in his memoirs that his reason for staying in Strassburg was to improve his French. While there he was influenced by two of the most illustrious of the Strassburg professors, Johann Daniel Schoepflin and Christine Wilhelm Koch. Schoepflin and his pupil Koch had established the reputation of Strassburg as a leading center of instruction in public law and history.
Schoepflin's life-work was a documentary history of Alsace - Alsatia illustrata. He was one of those collectors of manuscripts who like his friend and contemporary, Muratori in Italy, was laying the foundations of modern historical writing. His view of the world was in some ways like that of the feudal-age chroniclers of Strassburg -- at once local and universal. Koch taught the subject that would now be called international law. Both men tried to induce Goethe to concentrate his studies in their fields, and held out the prospect that such preparation would lead Goethe to a post in the French Chancellery for German Affairs at Versailles. But Goethe felt that his handicap in lacking full native command of the French language would always be a bar to his advancement in such a career.
While Germans went to Strassburg to improve their French, Frenchmen went there to become acquainted with Germany, and also to become acquainted with Germany. Two of the graduates of Strassburg who had been exposed to the teaching of Koch wrote the memoranda which gave the government of Louis XIV its international-law justification for supporting the American colonies in their rebellion against the English crown. In the years 1785-87 there were numbered among the young men of high noble families who were students at the University of Strassburg 17 Germans, 16 Frenchmen, 23 Englishmen and Scotchmen, 3 Italians, 11 Danes and Swedes, 3 Poles and Courlanders and 44 Russians and Livonians. The University authorities estimated that a million gulden a year were brought to the city by the university [p.141] in the pockets of wealthy students. No less important were the ideas that these students took away with them.
The question of language of instruction in Strassburg education did not create friction till the opening of the Era of Nationalism. The Protestant Gymnasium (high school) did not even offer instruction in French till 1753, and only in 1788 did the government in Paris interest itself in the establishment of schools in Strassburg in which French would be taught. By the end of the old Regime the interest in religious conflict was dying, and the nationality conflict had not yet arisen.
It was at this time, in the year 1788, that the two sons of Count George Karl von Metternich-Winneburg enrolled in the University of Strassburg. The eldest was Clemens Lothar, the future Chancellor of Austria. He was supported by a stipend from the church funds of the Archbishopric of Trier. In those days many church foundations were applied to the sustenance of members of noble families, not to the support of men of piety. The Bishop of Strassburg was himself a notorious gallant, Cardinal de Rohan, who had become deeply implicated in a court scandal in Paris known as the affair of the diamond necklace. Metternich studied international law under Koch. We have noted that he was there as a student when the French Revolution began.
Schoepflin and Koch in Old Regime Strassburg, like the monk Victor in the early feudal age, propagated a certain system of ideas which was at the some time being spread elsewhere. The monk Victor had propagated Christian learning; now these men brought jurisprudence. And ideas of jurisprudence, no less than ideas of Christian learning, could govern men, mould their behaviour, and define their loyalties.
Koch was a distinguished teacher, but not a teacher of unusual doctrines. In other universities others like Metternich imbibed ideas similar to those that Metternich got from Koch. We can get a view of the nature of Koch's interests from the list of his great compilations -- they were on the history of European treaties of peace, and on genealogies of the ruling families of Europe; Koch taught the doctrine of the solidarity of European states in a family of states, and the eternal principle of balance of power. To him the political order of Europe was always a "federal system". He did not argue that the European states ought to be confederated; he taught that they were already confederated in a system of law.
The idea of a universal system of law was not new to European thought; that which was new in the legal thinking of the Old Regime was an idea of law that was not interwoven with the system of religion, nor yet with the traditional customary law of the Barbarian end Feudal Ages, but which stood alone as a consistent product of the operations of human reason. The idea that law should be realized in a clear-cut rational ordering [p.142] of all human affairs was present in the mind of Princess Anna Jablonowska when she drew up her constitution for her seigneurie of Kock. From that foundation of belief the road lay open to two conclusions. One road was followed by the lawyer Robespierre, the other by the diplomat Metternich. One conclusion emphasized the identity of law with reason, the other emphasized the antithesis of law to force and caprice. Both roads started in the body of systematic jurisprudence which was taught in the universities as a part of the professional equipment of lawyers and administrators. Both carried the human mind in search of an ultimate source of authority. One came to find this in the People; the other found it in the office of King. Travellers along both roads admitted that in some way the ultimate source e of authority must be in a Supreme Being, in a more or less Christian God.
Not since the time of Koch has it been possible in Strassburg to stand above nationality. The French Revolutionary leaders in Paris, hostile alike to the German language and to local independence in education, converted the university into an Academy subject to control from Paris. When the German Empire annexed Alsace in 1871 the University was reestablished with a faculty of German scholars. When Alsace became French again in 1918 the University was re-stocked like a menagerie, this time with French professors.
It still prepares young men for careers in the world of political power, as it prepared them in the time when Koch taught Metternich. The students of this university, like the students in other universities, pass civil service examinations, receive appointments, and in a few cases rise to be prefects or secretaries in ministries. The large scale power organizations of modern states cannot be maintained without a supply of men who have been trained to understand the same things in the same way. Each official must know how all the others will think and act. The university trains men whose training makes possible the government of France; thus the university belongs to the world of ideas; it contributes to the world of power.
Strassburg was hit much harder by the French Revolution than it had been hit by the French Annexation of 1682. Three issues were successively forced to the front: first the issue f the special status of the city under the capitulation of 1682, second the conflict of the city masses with the oligarchy of magistrates, third a conflict over religion. Pervading all these conflicts was the sharpening of the language question -- Alsatian and German against French.
The first months of the revolution in the spring of 1789 gave the people of Strassburg a chance to elect two representatives of the Third Estate to attend the meeting of the States [p.143] General in Versailles, and to draw up a list of grievances. The Strassburgers in their list of grievances insisted on the maintenance of the special autonomy which the city had enjoyed under the capitulation of 1682, and the restoration of the old order in all cases where it had been infringed by the encroachment of royal officials. They opposed the inclusion of Strassburg within the French customs boundary. Strassburg was particularist in its sentiment. The guilds added a list of complaints such as a demand of the hatters that their hat-making monopoly should be preserved.
The election of representatives to the Estates General brought the whole population of the city into the political forum. The same voters that chose delegates to go to Versailles chose a committee to negotiate with the city government on a reform of the city constitution. The guildsmen, who had long lost their political influence, and the immigrants who had never received any political rights demanded the reform. It was like the old battle of the 14th century come to life again. It was this local issue, not national issues that raised political passions to the boiling point.
When the city magistrates refused to make concessions and broke off negotiations with the committee that had been chosen by the electors, the state of public unrest was such that the king sent a special commissioner, Friederich de Dietrich, to mediate between the parties. Dietrich's mediation failed because the controversy passed over immediately to violence.
It was the news that a mob at Paris had destroyed a prison -- the Bastille -- that incited the citizens of Strassburg to make a violent attack on their own city hall in order to force from their own magistrates the concessions they demanded in the reform of the city government. The news got to Strassburg on July 18th; on the 19th the city mob became threatening, and most of the magistrates fled; on the 20th the mob stoned the windows of the city hall, broke the furniture, threw the archives into the streets, pried tiles off the roof, and raided the cellar to half drown themselves in wine. The magistrates resigned in a body and then a group of citizens under the leadership of Dietrich formed a new council of thirty as e provisional government. Dietrich became mayor.
One of the spectators who witnessed this outbreak of mob fury was Clemens Lothar von Metternich. The experience lasted him a long time. He was then a youth of sixteen. It has been mentioned that when he was seventy-five years old, from his Chancellery office in Vienna, he again heard the roar of a political_mob -- the revolutionists of 1848. Such were the punctuation marks that began and ended his career.
[p.144] The force that restored order in Strassburg was not from Paris, whence the disturbance had been propagated; it was created on the spot, by giving arms to middle class citizens who formed a militia unit -- the National Guard. When the law-givers in Paris drew up the standard scheme of city government, they left the cities with the responsibility for maintaining order. Under the law of December 1789 the cities were to elect their municipal council and mayor. Laws would be made in Paris, but their enforcement would be left to the local agencies. Strassburg had not lost all the essentials of its autonomy.
But it happened that while the government in Paris was thus conceding administrative powers to the city, it was enacting certain laws that placed a great strain on city administration because they were unpopular with so many people. These were laws relating to the organization of the Catholic Church -- the establishment of the "civil constitution of the clergy" and the confiscation of Church property. Under this law priests and bishops were to be elected by the people. The issue resembled the Feudal Age controversy of Pope and Emperor, for it raised the question whether the clergy were essentially servants of the church or of the nation.
Since the city was wholly subject to Paris, in matters of legislation, it was compelled to take over intact the quarrels that were defined in Paris. The reform of the municipal government though it had been made possible by the decree from Paris ordering elections to the Estates General, had been carried on with the partisan alignments that had developed within the city itself. The church question assumed a different form. The Catholic party that had been built up in Old Regime Strassburg with the support of Paris was now attacked from the same quarter. And those who defended the Church against the new system were no longer mere participants in a religious quarrel; they were deemed to be rebels against the authority of the nation which through its Constituent Assembly had enacted the church law. Thus the partisan alignment that took form was one in which the more devout Catholics found themselves opposed to and harassed by "patriots". The cult of the nation was in opposition to the cult of the Church. The patriots organized a society which kept in close touch with a similar partisan group in Paris -- the Society of Jacobins. The Jacobins were a French national party, with a branch in Strassburg.
In the high Feudal Age the citizens had expelled their bishop; in the era of the Reformation they had confiscated Church property. Some of them were now willing to expel those of the clergy who would not accept civil authority over them, or who would resist the expropriation of church property. For instance Professor Brendel, who had taught canon law to Metternich, got himself elected to the office of Bishop of Strassburg from which Cardinal de Rohan was deposed for refusing to accept the new law, But some of the Catholics were fanati[p.145]cally hostile to the new law. They organized, and their organization bred the counter-organization of societies of patriots. The clerical party and the radical party both active in the elections of 1935, date their rival existences from this crisis.
It was at this time that political journalism appeared in the city. One of Metternich's two private tutors left his charge to take on the editorshio of a "patriotic" newspaper.
Fourteenth century Strassburg had joined Leagues of Cities; the citizens of French Revolutionary Strassburg cooperated in spontaneous federations with other communities of the region. The "Federation of the Rhine" held a great celebration in June 1790 at Strassburg. Delegates came from the whole area to testify to their patriotism and their loyalty to the Revolution. This movement grew from the same local roots as the organization of the National Guard.
Meanwhile a constitution had been made for France, and Professor Koch had been elected as one of the representatives to the new national Legislative Assembly. Because of his great mastery of diplomatic history he was made a member of the committee on Foreign Relations of the Paris legislature. Before this committee came the project to declare war on Austria. Koch wrote a brilliant report against the proposal. But war was declared in April, 1792 as a part of a policy carrying beyond the frontiers of France the "principles of the Revolution", and defending the Revolution against the attacks of "tyrants" from abroad.
The war made Strassburg a frontier danger-point. When the news of the war declaration came to the city, mayor Dietrich asked a young officer who had some reputation for literary work, and who happened to be on duty in Strassburg to write a song that would express the spirit of the people and the army. The young men was Rouget de Lisle. He stayed up all night to write a piece, which he called "War Song of the Armies of the Rhine". It was a stirring statement of the ideology in which the war party in Paris believed. The song spread rapidly through the French army. Three months later a battalion of troops from Marseilles were singing it when they marched up to Paris. Then the song swept the nation. It was the Marseillaise. It is the model and archetype of all later national war propaganda.<poetry> <line>Come, children of the fatherland </line> <line>The day of glory has arrived! </line> <line>Against us tyranny has raised the bloody standard </line> <line>Hear you! In our country side </line> <line>Their fierce soldiers </line> <line>Are coming to kill our children in our very arms </line> </poetry>
The sacredness of the nation, the holy cause of freedom, the defensive character of the military operations, and the atrocity story -- they are all there.
[p.146] After the war crisis came the terror. This too came from without. Nothing to equal it in mass cruelty had occurred in the city since the great slaughter of the Jews in 1349. When it seemed that the locally elected officials were lukewarm in enforcing national laws and policies, commissioners from Paris came down to purge the city of all elements hostile to their party. They brought a guillotine with them. The whole city council was dismissed, and all city offices filled with people recommended by the Jacobin Clubs. Strassburg was suspected not only because of its clericalism, but also because these agents from Paris could not regard it as a thoroughly French city. They could not understand the language of the people on the streets. And yet there was really no considerable disloyalty; Strassburg stood by France, and took her punishment.
When a reaction against the Terror came in Paris, it followed in Strassburg; the Jacobins were thrown out of local offices, and those who had escaped execution in the purges came back.
Finally under Napoleon, the clergy came back. For Napoleon reached an agreement with the Pope. The agreement or Concordat of 1802 was made outside of Strassburg, but like the civil constitution of the clergy, it rearranged relations locally. The clergy were appointed by their bishops, but paid salaries by the state. The whole religious crisis had not only created a clerical party whose future solidarity was based on its tragic experiences of persecution during the Revolution; it also swept out of church office the wastrels who in the Old Regime held high places in the Church, and replaced them with men of piety, capable of popular leadership. The new clergy had learned, moreover, to look to Rome for outside support when Paris turned against it. This lesson it did not forget. These who looked to Rome rather than Paris for leadership were called "ultramontaines," because Rome was across the Alps mountains from France.
But Napoleon did not restore the administrative autonomy of the city as it had been before the Terror. The office of the prefect became the principal seat of power. The city was permitted to elect its municipal council, but the prefect designated the mayor. And the functions of the city government were thenceforth performed under strict supervision.
Strassburg was caught in an external power system which consisted of a complete national administrative hierarchy. And this has been Strassburg's situation from that day to this. But there is one special circumstance attending the history of this city. For it has had experience with two modern state administrations, German and French. The resemblances between these two systems have proved to be greater than their differences so far as structure is concerned. But the fact that they have alternated in the external control of the same city has helped to make language a basis of partisan alignment in the city. In a Strassburg that is a part of the French state [p.147] people who are well versed in the French language get ahead; in a Strassburg that is part of a German state the advantage goes to people who are well versed in the German tongue.
In its relations to the region the city continued to have a dominant position, for it was the capital of the Department of the Lower Rhine. Instead of owning a scattering of villages, it was the center of administration for a compact block of territory. People from the villages still went to Strassburg to reach the seat of higher governmental power, but they went to the prefecture, not to the city hall.
Throughout the whole world's network of territorial-political power relations small power areas are included within larger ones, as Strassburg is included within the Department of the Lower Rhine, the Department of the Lower Rhine is included within the French Republic, and the French Republic within the States-System of the European Great dowers.
In each of these power areas, from the smallest to the greatest there are alignments and resultant balances of power. The top party in the small unit is often the bottom party in the large. So it was with the Protestant party when Louis XIV annexed the city, and so it was through most of the Metternich period in the relation of the city to France. Strassburg was predominantly an opposition town in French party politics. The prefecture and the city hall were always at odds.
The special basis of much of the opposition sentiment in the Metternich period is suggested by an article of the political platform of the "Popular and Patriotic Society of Strassburg" in 1831. Through its newspaper organ, the Courier du Bas Rhin, this party demanded an extension of the suffrage and "the employment in public office of men who are familiar with the needs and interests of the localities, and who speak the language of the people, so that serious errors may be avoided and an obstacle to free communication between the officials and the citizens be removed." The party was at once democratic and Alsatian. It was quite true that in Strassburg society of the Metternich period there was little contact between the higher French officials and the local population, and the road to a good career was closed to most Alsatians because of their language handicap.
The prefect worked to build up a pro-Government party in Strassburg, just as the praetor had worked under the Old Regime to build up a Catholic party. There is record in the archives of the prefecture of a case in which the voter named Muret agreed to vote for the government's favored candidate, Saglio, in the election of 1831 in exchange for a letter of recommendation from the prefect, Chopin d'Arnouville, to the Colonel of the [p.148] 18th regiment supporting the promotion of Muret's son to the rank of sergeant. To counteract the influence of the liberal Courier du Bas Rhin prefect Chopin encouraged a group of wealthy citizens to found a conservative newspaper, L'Alsace Constitutionelle.
Since the prefect not only designated the mayor, but exercised strong surveillance over all the acts of the city government, the natural object of party conflict was to control the prefecture. But this could not be accomplished by any party victory in the city alone; the prefecture was controlled from Paris. Therefore the partisanship that was expressed in a national election, or in plots for a national revolution, promised the most substantial political results. The liberal voters of Strassburg aligned themselves with the liberal voters of the rest of France to win national elections; the republican conspirators of the city maintained connection with republican conspirators in other centers to plan in common for a violent seizure of power.
Whether the tactics envisaged were those of election or violence, the Strassburg partisans did not seek for allies beyond the borders of France.
Whenever, in a given territorial power area -- (such as France in the Metternich period), defeated parties prefer to accept their defeat rather than strengthen themselves by alliances outside of that area, that area has met one of the crucial tests of national statehood. By this test Strassburg was conclusively French.
In the Revolution of 1848 there appeared an insignificant group of young romantics who talked of joining Strassburg to the new Germany. But the prevailing sentiment of the city verged rather toward the excess of French patriotism that was traditional in republican shades of opinion than toward any thought of a change of national political allegiance.
The armed forces of Strassburg consisted in the 1830's of the local National Guard militia and the garrison troops. The political conservatives dominated the National Guard; the liberal and opposition party had a foothold in the garrison. This was particularly true of the battalion of bridge-engineers, which was recruited in Strassburg. When military orders came to move the battalion from the city there was a threat of civil insurrection. Another crisis in which the civilians took a hand occurred in 1833, when two naval officers, promoted out of turn, were attached to the 6th artillery regiment. The garrison officers appealed to the citizens to protest this infraction of the customary rules of promotion. When nine artillery officers were dismissed in consequence, a crowd of Strassburgers feted them.
[p.149] Political journalism was not the only forum in which controversies over ideas took place. There was also the University -- now an Academy -- and the Church. In the 1820's a great Catholic revival stirred Strassburg. In 1887 Monsegnor Le Pappe de Trevern became bishop of Strassburg. In the party politics of the Church Bishop Trevern was a Gallician -- that is to say he wished to see the Church affairs of France controlled in France, with as little intervention from the Pope as possible. Most of the clergy, however, was strongly "u1tra-mountain." The Bishop wrote, "I fear our ardent, rigorist and ultramontaine clergy." This country clergy spoke Alsatian, not French.
The Bishop planned to stimulate an intellectual revival. An accident played into his hands. There was a French professor of Philosophy by the name of Bantain, whose lectures were eloquent defences of reason and liberty. Bantain was teaching the kind of philosophy that had been triumphant in the French revolution. The clergy attacked him. And then, suddenly, under the influence of a devout and intellectual woman, Bantain was converted. He became a priest, and the Bishop determined to use him in his program. He put Bantain in charge of the_seminary. The rest of the clergy, and particularly the teachers in the seminary, were jealous of the bishop's brilliant protege. There was perpetual conflict, between Bantain and Licherman, the vicar general. The citizens entered into the controversy: Bantain appealed to the fashionable salons, Lieberman to the masses. It was a war of German speaking clergy against French speaking clergy. The prefect backed Bantain, the bishop changed his course, and wrote a pastoral letter against the philosopher-priest; the pope in Rome and the ministry in Paris stepped into the controversy.
In the Church, as in secular politics, local parties could reach out for allies, and a French language interest could be pitted against a German.
In 1848-52 for the third time in the Era of Nationalism a revolution in Paris changed the superstructure of power over Strassburg. The effect of revolutionary events in the national capital was first to install a republic, and then a dictatorship. The administrative tissue that bound the city to the nation was not modified, But under the dictatorship of Napoleon III the national elections did not give effective control of the prefecture, for the national legislature was impotent. There was none the less a kind of party rule in France. For the clerical party, acting directly on the court circle in Paris, and particularly through Napoleon's wife, the Empress Eugenie, dominated administrative policy. Just as in the time of Louis XIV, so also in the time of the Second Empire, Paris was on the side of the clericals in Strassburg.
[p.150] One of the effects of this domination wee felt in the primary schools. The school system was expanded, the French language was included in the curriculum, and the clergy was given substantial powers of supervision.
Across the Rhine in Germany the newspapers carried articles denouncing the oppression of Strassburg by its French government. To these articles the Strassburg newspapers replied with denials.
Then came the origin of the Franco-Prussian war. It took form in the power-politics of the Great Powers. Napoleon III tried to form a bloc of three powers: Austria, Italy, and France, to stand against the bloc of German states that Bismarck was organizing. He failed in his efforts. Just as there were the two tactics of persuasion and election on the one hand, and conspiracy and revolution on the other in the internal party politics of France in the Metternich period, so there were the two tactics of diplomacy on the one hand, and war on the other, in power-politics among the great States. In 1870 there was war between France, standing alone, and Prussia, aided by the South German states.
The Prussian army besieged and bombarded Strassburg, and the city capitulated. But its future fate was not decided in the circle of its own fortifications. Only when the whole French army was defeated, and an Assembly elected from the whole of France had made the decision, was Strassburg annexed to the new German Empire in 1871, A member of this assembly, who will come again to our attention, was George Clemenceau.
In the internal organization of the city the annexation had no revolutionary effect. The mayor of the City, William Lauthe, remained in office till 1873. Instead of a prefect over him, there was a German governor. When Lauthe made it evident that he was looking forward to the restoration of French rule in the city, he was dismissed from his post, and a trained German bureaucrat, Otto Beck, was appointed in his piece. The citizens continued to elect their city council. The "territory" of the city was in a sense expanded, for under French rule Strassburg had been merely the capital of the department of the Lower Rhine, while under German rule it became the capital of thrice the area -- the whole of A1sace-Lorreine. But the people of the city were unfriendly to the new regime. They continued to participate in national elections -- this time German instead of French. Their deputies went to the Reichstag in Berlin rather than the Chamber in Paris. But in the Reichstag these deputies did something they had never done in Paris -- they protested against the very existence of this hierarchy of rulership above them.
In the schools the teaching of the French language stopped. For a time in the Bismarck period the Catholics of Strassburg [p.151] were harassed by the agents of the Berlin government. Paris under the Second Empire had been good to the Strassburg clericals; Berlin in the Bismarck period was hostile. The larger administrative functions of the city as a capital of the whole land of Alsace Lorraine called for the filling of many new positions, but these jobs went to carpet-baggers from across the Rhine.
The same barracks and citadel that had once held a French garrison held a German garrison, but there was no longer the free and pleasant relationship between the citizens and the soldiery that had existed when the citizens took a hand in the internal quarrel of the officers, as they did in the Metternich period.
The underlying issue that permeated the politics of the city was the question whether war and conquest had been a justifiable method to use in deciding that the city would come under German rather than French rule. The pro-French party believed that such a change ought not to take place except as a result of a vote -- a plebiscite by the people immediately concerned. Such a plebiscite would not have gone in favor of German rule. This was a persistent grievance in Strassburg: more than that it was a persistent grievance in France: more than that, it was a persistent source of trouble in Europe.
In the world of opinion two rival theories of the nature of a nationality were thereby defined, one to justify the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany, the other to condemn it. The German theory asserted that a nation was essentially a number of people who desired to live under a common government. In the words of the French writer Renan "a nation is a plebiscite taken every day." In both theories it was assumed, as a matter of course, that the city must be a part of one nation or the other, that it must have one or the other hierarchy above it. Yet the city was older than either of the states to which it was felt necessary to attach it.
The people at large did not enter into the theoretical refinements of this discussion. To Germans, such as those who lived in Oberschefflenz, the facts seemed very simple: Germany had acquired some more land, just as a peasant might acquire another farm. Conversely the French people felt the loss in a comparable way.
As a rule, a power relationship that has persisted through a sufficient period of time, even though established by force, comes to be regarded as based on law. So it was in Strassburg in the Pre-War period. Mayor Otto Beck retired in 1906, and was replaced by Rodoloh Schwander, an Alsatian, who had been educated in the Germanized schools, and who took the German connection of his city for granted. The old spirit of protest was losing its violence as the men who had lived through the [p.152] shock of the annexation grew old and passed away.
A new German regime in Alsace-Lorraine was established in 1911. The province was given its own legislature, and entrusted with increasing powers of government. An increasing number of questions could be decided in Strassburg, without referring them to Berlin.
The city constitution was changed in 1896, but without fundamental modifications. There was still an elected city council and a mayor appointed by the Governor of the land, who was himself appointed by the German Emperor.
In the party politics of the city there were two parties consistently in opposition to the dominant German Hierarchy: an Alsatian party and a Socialist party. The Catholics had been in opposition to the German Government during the Bismarck period, but their grievances had since been settled, and they had made terms with Berlin. In German party politics they aligned themselves with other Catholics from other parts of Germany.
Meanwhile in France a conflict between the French Catholics party and the French Socialist and liberal parties opened in the pre-war period. Just as Empress Eugenie had been the center of Catholic influence in the court of Napoleon III, when the party was dominant in the Second Empire, so George Clemenceau was a leader of the anti-clericals in the pre-war years. In 1905 the French anti-clerical parties voted a law abrogating the old Napoleonic Concordat of 1802, which had once made peace between the clergy and the national government. When the first World War ended in 1918 Clemenceau who was partly responsible for this law was premier of France.
The Empress Eugenie was still alive in 1918 -- a very old lady living in seclusion near London. She sent a personal message to Clemenceau through an English journalist. "Tell him that when he goes to Strassburg, he must visit the Cathedral; it will reunite France." When Clemenceau went to Strassburg he visited the Cathedral, for it was the wish of all parties that the factional dispute of clerical and anti-clerica1 should be forgotten in a higher loyalty to the nation -- France.
The immediate effect of the victory of France and her allies in 1918 was universal rejoicing among the people of the old Alsatian families. Mayor Schwander resigned the [p.153] day before the war ended (November 10, 1918) and the city council chose the pro-French socialist, Jacques Pierrotes, to take his place. Then a High Commissioner arrived from Paris to reorganize the city government. He reconstituted the city council in a new body, in which half the seats were filled by old members who had been elected in 1914 while Strassburg was German. The city services and administration went right on, without missing a stroke. But the official personnel that had come in from Germany was rapidly replaced by a French and local personnel.
For a year, from November 1918 to November 1919, a series of provisional governments occupied the city hall; then in November 1919 a regular city election was held according to French law, and the city council, upon its election, chose one of its own members as mayor. The first mayor chosen in this way was Pierrotes. The system was changed a little but the same people ran it.
The number of public services which were managed from the city hall was large, and their management intricate. We can form an idea of the extent of these services by glancing through the internal organization of the city government as it stood in the 1930's under French rule. The services and the organizations that operated them had been growing consistently, without a break, through the German and French period.
The Mayor had four deputy mayors, and each of these presided at a permanent commission of the council. These were the four commissions on 1. Domains and finances; 2. Public works; 3. Public instruction; 4. Police services. There was also the special commission on the Cathedral -- a committee that dated from the mid-Feudal age. There were further special committees on the municipal theatre, on fire, water, housing, unemployment, aviation, and scores of mixed commissions which were staffed in part with non-government personnel on such things as tourist trade, gas works, tramways, bill posting, central milk supply, relief, the fireman's band, physical education, the dog tax, sports, street names, small gardens, meat prices, city planning. Big things and little things, things that in an American city would be handled without government cooperation and things that in an American city might be handled without private collaboration were fitted into the intricate network of Strassburg's government. The essential was service -- the public services of a great city. But service required management, and management required power. However much the location of power might change the services continued.
The management of these services had grown up as a divided responsibility, divided between the hierarchy that reached up to Berlin, and the local authorities. The same [p.154] division of responsibility was present when the hierarchy was shifted to one that reached to Paris. For instance, the mayor appointed policemen, and had the right to suspend them, but only the prefect could demote or dismiss a policeman. So it was through all the branches of the service, from the care of roads and bridges to the administration of finance.
The organization of the French state was actually more highly centralized than the German state had been. This meant that reunion with France tended to place a larger proportion of the responsibilities of management in the hands of the hierarchy that looked to Paris, and to take responsibility and power from the city government. It was not possible to incorporate Strassburg in the French system of administration by simply shifting to Paris from Berlin the decision on questions that had been previously settled in Berlin. For the French system of administration required that questions which the Germans had permitted Strassburg to settle should be brought to Paris for settlement.
A typical problem arose in connection with the administration of the pensions of local public servants. These pension claims give rise to frequent disputes, complaints and appeals. The French system of government required that final judgment on such matters should be made by the central authorities in Paris, but the archives were in Strassburg, and most of them in the German language. Moreover the whole system was full of details with which French administrators were unfamiliar. The problems arising from the administration of the social security system of old age pensions was even more intricate, and the Strassburg system was older than the French, and had grown up differently. The French government, especially after 1925, was constantly bringing these services to Paris and trying to amalgamate them with the French administration. Such placing of powers of decision in the hands of people unfamiliar with the business led to countless errors, and in some cases to a kind of paralysis. Strassburgers resented the resulting inconveniences.
There was another source of difficulty which is equally traceable to the complexity of the paper-work of administration. French government paper-work is all in French: hence French public employees must know the language. But the Alsatians had been deprived of French in their lower schools since 1871. The Ministry of Finance opened civil service examinations for posts in the customs service, but all the Alsatian candidates failed in their French language tests; the Minister of war did not appoint Alsatians to the gendarmerie because they showed in their civil service examinations that they could not spell very well in French. Even Goethe, it will be remembered, had shied away from the French public service because he felt a language handicap. But Goethe could go elsewhere. How much more keenly was this handicap felt [p.155] by the whole class of Alsatians to whom the whole road of ambition was closed!
The French government gave employment, preferentially, to people who were masters of the French language; it did not try to guarantee that all its representatives in Alsace could speak the language of the People. It immediately began in the schools the preparation of a generation to which French would be a second mother tongue, but that generation was still in its youth in 1939.
These grievances brought into existence the Alsatian autonomy party, which by a fusion with the communists and the liberal Catholics won the election of 1929. The communists went even further than the autonomists in their political demands. In 1925 a Congress of Peasants and Workers met in Strassburg, and voted that Alsatians had the right to choose their own government, even to the Extent of complete separation from France.
In 1939 another great-power crisis came. The Government in Paris used its hierarchic power against the opposing political parties with particular severity. In the spring of 1939 it ordered the dissolution of a whole group of autonomist societies in Alsace, and when the war of 1939 broke out it ordered the communist party dissolved throughout France.
And when the war came, it came to Strassburg as not any other war had come there before. For the entire population of almost two hundred thousand souls was evacuated from the city. Strassburg became a ghost city. Only two civilians refused to go. They were the mayor and the bishop.
Only the stones of the city remained. And even the stones in their mortar were insecure. On October 5, 1939 the German Leader, Adolf Hitler spoke to the world by radio:
"Perhaps the day will come when France will begin to bombard and demolish Saarbruecken. German artillery will in turn lay Mulhouse in ruins. France will retaliate by bombarding Karlsruhe and Germany in her turn will shell Strassburg...
"One day, however, there will again be a frontier between Germany and France, but instead of flourishing towns there will be ruins and endless graveyards."
We return to our question: what is a city! Here is Strassburg without people -- save as its two symbolic figures -- mayor and bishop -- remain on the ground as a gesture against civic extinction. Houses without people, streets without traffic, a temple without worshipers -- are they a city? [p.156] Does the city of Strassburg exist in October 1939? Consider two possible contingencies -- that the stones should he levelled by artillery, but the people ultimately return. Or that the stones should be left standing, and the people never return, but a wholly new population settle in the buildings. In either case, I believe, we would say that the life of the city had been merely suspended. And in this we would be right. For the old population returning would build new buildings and continue otherwise in most of their old ways; and a new population would find it necessary to maintain the same services -- of water, fire, street lighting and cleaning, police and justice and schools and parks, and all the rest. Their power structure and their ideas would be different, their needs the same. They would still observe the law of Strassburg's first written constitution -- the 12th century document which asserts that "the city must be a place of safety for all, and the public peace must be respected by all."
The proof of this is found in the fact that much of what has been done in Strassburg has been done in about the same way in other cities -- whether we think of the Barbarian, the Feudal or the Modern Age. Strassburg has been exceptional in falling successively in the Modern Age into French and German power-systems. But as a city it has not fared exceptionally.
And yet each city in the world has its own seal and signature. They are alike as all villages are alike, and they differ as all villages differ.
To illustrate this range of similarity and difference it may suffice to sketch in a few facts of the history of another city. Let us take, for instance, Cleveland, Ohio. [p.157]
 Schmoller & Reuss Disagrees on this