Next observe that industrial towns, usually formed by coalescence of preëxisting rural divisions rendered populous because local circumstances favored some form of trade, and presently becoming places of hiding for fugitives, and of security for escaped serfs, began to stand toward the small feudally-governed groups around them in relations like those in which these stood to one another: competing with them for adherents, and often fortifying themselves.
Again, there is the fact that these cities and boroughs, which by royal charter or otherwise had acquired powers of administering their own affairs, habitually formed within themselves combinations for protective purposes. In England, in Spain, in France, in Germany—sometimes with assent of the king, sometimes notwithstanding his reluctance as in England, sometimes in defiance of him, as in ancient Holland—there rose up guilds, which, having their roots in quasi-religious unions among related persons, presently gave origin to frith-guilds and merchant-guilds; and these, defensive in their relations to one another, formed the basis of that municipal organization which carried on the general defense against aggressing nobles.
Then there is the further fact that, in countries where the antagonisms between these industrial communities and the surrounding militant communities were violent and chronic, the industrial communities combined to defend themselves. In Spain, the poblaciones, which when they flourished and grew into large towns were invaded and robbed by adjacent feudal lords, formed leagues for mutual protection; and again, at a later date, there arose under like needs, more extensive confederations of cities and towns, which, under severe penalties for non-fulfillment of the obligations, bound themselves to aid one another in resisting aggressions, whether by king or nobles. In Germany, too, we have the perpetual alliance entered into by sixty towns on the Rhine in 1255, when, during the troubles that followed the deposition of the Emperor Frederick II., the tyranny of the nobles had become insupportable. And we have the kindred unions formed under like incentives in Holland. So that, both in small and in large ways, the industrial groups here and there growing up within a nation are, in many cases, forced by local antagonisms partially to assume activities and structures like those which the nation as a whole is forced to assume in its antagonisms with nations around.
Here the implication chiefly concerning us is that, if industrialism is thus checked by a return to militancy, the growth of popular power is arrested. Especially where, as happened in the Italian republics, defensive war passes into offensive war, and there grows up an ambition to conquer other territories and towns, the free form of government proper to industrial life becomes qualified by, if it does not revert to, the coercive form accompanying militant life. Or where, as happened in Spain, the feuds between towns and nobles continue through long periods, the rise of free institutions is arrested; since,