Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/460

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In other ways a like relation of cause and effect is shown us during the progress of European societies since Roman times.

Respecting the status of women in mediæval Europe, Sir Henry Maine says:

"There can be no serious question that, in its ultimate result, the disruption of the Roman Empire was very unfavorable to the personal and proprietary liberty of women. I purposely say 'in its ultimate result,' in order to avoid a learned controversy as to their position under purely Teutonic custom."

Now, leaving open the question whether this conclusion applies beyond those parts of Europe in which institutions of Roman origin were least affected by those of Germanic origin, we may, I think, on contrasting the condition of things before the fall of the empire and the condition after, infer a connection between this decline in the status of women and a return to greater militancy. For while Roman power held together the populations of large areas, there existed throughout them a state of comparative internal peace; whereas its failure to maintain subordination was followed by universal warfare: producing from time to time larger aggregates and again dissolutions of them, until the disintegration had reached the stage in which there existed numerous feudal governments mutually hostile. And then, after that decline in the position of women which accompanied this retrograde increase of militancy, the subsequent improvement in their position went along with aggregation of smaller feudal governments into larger ones, which had the result that within the consolidated territories the amount of diffused fighting decreased.

Comparisons between the chief civilized nations as now existing, yield verifications. Note, first, the fact, significant of the relation between political despotism and domestic despotism, that, according to Legouvé, Napoleon I. said to the Council of State, "Un mari doit avoir un empire absolu sur les actions de sa femme;" and that sundry provisions of the Code, as interpreted by Pothier, carry out this dictum. Further, note that, according to De Ségur, the position of women in France declined under the empire; and that "it was not only in the higher ranks that this nullity of women existed. . . . The habit of fighting filled men with a kind of contempt and asperity which made them often forget even the regard which they owed to weakness." Passing over less essential contrasts now presented by the leading European peoples, and considering chiefly the status as displayed in the daily lives of the poorer rather than the richer, it is manifest that the mass of women have harder lots where militant organization and activity predominate, than they have where there is a predominance of industrial organization and activity. The sequence observed by travelers in Africa, that in proportion as the men are occupied in war more labor falls on the women, is a sequence which both France and Germany show us. Social sustentation has to be