tions and set forth their demands, could seize the occasion of their "free gifts" to draw to all manner of religious interests the royal attention and good will — in a word, could practise the policy of do ut des (I give that you may give), efficacious even under a Louis XIV. It is worthy of note that in the suspension of the meetings of the States-General, of councils national or provincial, these Assemblies enabled the Clergy to exercise a correctional sur- veillance over all the interests of the Church. As for the temporalities, the Assemblies ensured to the Clergy an autonomous financial administration by which they might better defend themselves against the menace of the taille, or land tax, escape the often odious interference of the royal treasury, re- deem the new assessments known as the capitation (poll-tax) of the tenth, the fiftieth, and twentieth — all which favours could be obtained only in considera- tion of contributions, of prompt authoritative de- cisions. We have, indeed, already remarked that these Assemblies succeeded all too well in retaining the ecclesiastical exemptions until 1789, just before the States-General were again convoked, when, yield- ing to the pressure of public opinion, and in their own interest, the Clergy were induced to relinquish them. In the eyes of posterity the doctrinal role of the Assemblies of the Clergy was more striking than their administration of the ecclesiastical temporali- ties. If they were unable to weather the storm that laid low all institutions of the old regime, it was due in great part to the fact that their share in the inter- ests and life of the people was inconsiderable. By defending ecclesiastical privilege with so much heat and constancy these Assemblies appeared to be occupied almost solely with clerical interests. More- over, the method of their recruitment, almost exclu- sively from the higher Clergy, begot a temper of in- difference towards their fate on the part of the curis, or parish priests, who were soon called to exercise a decisive influence on the course of the States-General. Had the Assemblies been less attached to the prerogatives of absolute power, even at a time when ideas of liberty were gaining a hold on public opinion in France, they might have become what they were qualified for by their organ- ization and their operation — a standing invitation to a parliamentary form of government and a prepa- ration for the same. The tardy stand taken by the Assembly of 1788, with its bold plea to the King for the rights of the people and for the convocation of the States-General, came a trifle too late; the effect produced was lost sight of in the general ferment. The vote by which the national parliament was as- sured of equal taxation for all deprived these Assem- blies of their raison d'etre; it was precisely for the regulation of special contributions from the Clergy that they were established and had been kept up. Henceforth, like the jiarlemcnts and other bodies apparently detached from, or loosely connected with, the life of the nation, they were fated to be merged in its new and larger unity. Despite the manner of their ending, shared by so many other institutions of the old regime, the Assemblies had been one of the ornaments — it might be said, one of the glories — of the Church of France. During centuries of political servitude they offered the example of a free parlia- ment in regular operation; their financial adminis- tration was successful and wius conducted with much dignity; in time of war they rendered the State notable services, and some of their meetings will be always remembered for the important: religious and political discussions they provoked. For these reasons the A.ssemblies fill a brilliant page in the annals of the French Clergy, and will merit at all times the attention of the historian.
Manutrripts and Arrhives nationales, Serie G8. in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. The records of the National Archives contain the authentic proceedings (Proc^e-verbaux) of the Assemblies. Collection dea proceg-verbaux des asaembUea du clerge de France, depute 1560. juagu'a present (1767-78, 9 vols.). The later .ssemblies had each a Procfes-verbal printed in one folio volume. Recueil dea actea el menunrea du cterqe de France (1771). I and VIII; Louis Serbat, Lea aaaembliea du clergt de France (Paris, 190G) 1501-1615; Maury, in Rnue dea deux Murulea (1878); Bqurlon, in Revue du clerge (1905–06); SiCARD, L'Ancien clerge de France (Paris, 1893–1903).
Asser, John (or Asserius Menevensis), a learned monk of St. David's, Menevia, b. in Pembrokeshire; d. probably, 910. He was educated in the monastery of St. Da'id's by his kinsman, Archbishop Asserius. His repute for learning led King Alfred to invite him to his court (about 885). Asser required six months for consideration. Illness at Winchester led to his remaining there for a year and a half. Finally, on his recovery, as Alfred still urged his request, Asser agreed to spend half of each year with liim. His first visit lasted eight months, and Alfred gave him many presents on parting, including the monasteries of Amesbury and Banwell. Later, Asser received a grant of Exeter, and was made Bishop of Sherborne, before 900. Asser wrote a life of Alfred (Annales rer. gest. Alfredi Magni) in 893. The work in question consists of a chronicle of English history from 849 to 887, and a personal and original narrative of Alfred's career down to the latter date. The Welsh birth of the author is indicated by his use of Celtic names, and the English are constantly styled Saxons. The authentic work of Asser is found only in the edition of Francis Wi.se (1722), printed from a tenth-century Cottonian MS. (Otho A, XII) which was burned in 1731. The burning of the cakes, references to St. Neot, and to Alfred's founding the University of Oxford are not in Asser's work, nor does Florence of Worcester allude to them, although he drew freely on that work, without, however, any mention of Asser's name. Archbishop Parker's edition of Asser's "Annales" presents the "Life" with many interpolations. A new edition is announced by W. H. Stevenson. There are three English translations (Giles, 1848; J. Stevenson, 1854; E. Conybeare, 1900. See Gross, "Sources", etc., 180). The authenticity of Asser's book has been called into question. Pauli discusses the subject very tlioroughly in the introduction to his "King Alfred" (Berlin, 1851). See T. D. Hardy, in the introduction to Petrie (London, 1848). John J. a' Becket.
Asses, Feast of. — The celebration of the "Festum Asinorum" in medieval and ecclesiastical circles was a pastime in which all, from the dignitaries in the upper stalls of the sanctuary to the humblest among the esclafjardi, participated. The feast dates from the eleventh century, though the source which suggested it is much older. This source was the pseudo-Augustinian "Sermo contra juda>os, paganos, et Arianos de Symbolo" (P. L., XLII, 1117), written proljably in the sixtli century, but ascribed throughout the Middle ."Vges to St. Augustine (E. K. Chambers, "The Medieval Stage", II, 52). For the reprint of an elevcntli-contury manuscript which gives the sermon in dramatized form, see iOd<5lost:ind du M^ril, "Les Origines latines du tli6;"itre moderne ", 179-187; and for a complete history of this manuscript, and the theatre that grew out of it, "Les prophi^tes du Clirist", by Marius Sepet (Paris, 1878). riie original sermon is itself a highly dramatic piece. Tlie preacher impersonates the Hebrew prophets whose Messianic utterances he works into an argu- ment establishing the Divinity of Clirist. Having confuted the Jews out of the moutlis of their own teachers, the orator addresses himself to the unbelieving Gentiles — "Ecce, convertimur ad gentes." The tcstiiiidiiy of Virgil, Nabuchodonosor, and the Erythra-an Sibyl is eloquently set forth and in-