Woman under socialism
by August Bebel
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Wholly otherwise stood matters for the men. Although with an eye to the begetting of legitimate heirs for his property, he imposed upon woman strict abstinence from other men, he was, nevertheless, not inclined to lay a corresponding abstinence upon himself.

Hetairism sprang up. Women distinguished for their beauty and intellect, and who, as a rule, were aliens, preferred a free life in intimate intercourse with men, to the slavery of marriage. Nothing objectionable was seen in that. The names and fame of these hetairae, who held intimate intercourse with the leading men of Greece, and participated in their learned discourses, as well as in their revels, has come down to our own days; whereas the names of the legitimate wives are mostly forgotten and lost. Thus the handsome Aspasia was the intimate friend of the celebrated Pericles, who later made her his legitimate wife; the name of Phryne became in later days the generic designation of those women that were to be had for money. Phryne held intimate relations with Hyperides, and she stood for Praxiteles, one of the first sculptors of Greece, as the model for his Aphrodite. Danae was the sweetheart of Epicurus, Archeanassa that of Plato. Other celebrated hetairae, whose names have reached our days, were Lais of Corinth, Gnathanea, etc. There is no celebrated Greek, who had no intercourse with hetairae. It belonged to the style of life of distinguished Greeks. Demosthenes, the great orator, described in his oration against Neara, the sexual life of the rich men of Athens in these words: "We marry a woman in order to obtain legitimate children, and to have a faithful warder in the house; we keep concubines for our service and daily care; and hetairae for the enjoyment of love." The wife was, accordingly, only an apparatus for the production of children; a faithful dog, that watched the house. The master of the house, on the contrary, lived according to his bon plaisir, as he willed.

In order to satisfy the demand for venal women, particularly with younger males, there arose that which was unknown under the rule of the mother-right,—prostitution. Prostitution distinguishes itself from the free sexual intercourse that customs and social institutions rendered a matter of course under primitive conditions, and, accordingly, freed from objectionableness, in that the woman sells her body, either to one man or to several, for material benefit. Prostitution, therefore, exists so soon as woman makes a trade of her charms. Solon, who formulated the new law for Athens, and is, consequently, esteemed the founder of the new legal status, was also the founder of the public houses for women, the "deikterion,"—official houses of prostitution—, and the price to all the customers was the same. According to Philemon it amounted to one obolus, about four cents of our money. Like the temples with the Greeks and Romans, and the Christian churches in Middle Ages, the deikterion was inviolable: it stood under the protection of the Government. Until about a hundred and fifty years before our reckoning, the Temple of Jerusalem also was the usual place of gathering for the filles de joie.

For the benefit that Solon bestowed upon the Athenian male population, in founding the deikterion, he was praised in song by one of his contemporaries in these words: "Hail to you, Solon! You bought public women for the benefit of the city, for the benefit of the morality of a city that is full of vigorous young men, who, in the absence of your wise institution, would give themselves over to the disturbing annoyance of the better women." We shall see that, at the close of the nineteenth century, justification is sought for the regulation of houses of prostitution by Government, and for the necessity of prostitution itself, upon the identical grounds. Thus, actions, committed by men, were recognized by legislation as a natural right, while, committed by women, were held to be shameful, and a serious crime. As is well known, even to-day not few are the men who prefer the company of a pretty female sinner to that of their own wives, and who not infrequently belong to the "Props of the State," the "Pillars of Order," and are "guardians of the sanctity of marriage and the family."

True enough, it seems, that the Greek women often revenged themselves upon their marital-lords for the yoke placed upon them. If prostitution is the supplement of monogamy, on the one side, adultery among women and the cuckoldry of men is its supplement, on the other. Among the Greek dramatic poets, Euripides is the woman-hater: he loved to make women the object of attacks in his dramas. What all he twitted them with appears best from the speech that a Greek woman flings at him in the "Thesmophoria" of Aristophanes. She says among other things:

With what slanderous dirt does not he (Euripides) besmirch us? When does the slanderer's tongue hold its peace? In short: Wherever there is an audience, tragedies or choruses, There we are called corner-loafers, anglers for men, Fond of the wine-cup, treasonable arch-gossips, Not a good hair is left us; we are the plague of men. Therefore, soon as our husbands return to us home from the benches,[10] Eyes of suspicion upon us they cast, and look about Whether a place of concealment conceal not a rival. Whereupon, none of the things, at first by us done, Now is allowed us: Such stuff against us Does he in the men's heads stick, that, if a woman Is weaving a garland, she is held to be in love; or when, While hustling the household to keep, something drops, Forthwith the husband inquires: "Whom are those fragments meant for? Plainly, they are meant for the guest from Corinthos."

We can understand that this ready-tongued Greek woman should serve the assailer of her sex in such manner; nevertheless, Euripides could not very well have made these accusations, nor could he have found credence with the men, if they knew not but too well that the accusations were justified. To judge by the concluding sentences of this address, the custom—met later in Germany and many other countries—had not yet been naturalized in Greece, that the host placed his own wife or daughter at the disposal of his guest for the night. Murner writes on this custom, prevalent in Holland as late as the fifteenth century, in these words: "It is the custom in the Netherlands, when the host has a dear guest, that he lets his wife sleep with him on faith."[11]

The increasing struggles between the classes in the several states of Greece, and the sad state of many of the smaller communities, gave occasion for Plato to inquire into the best constitution and the best institutions for the State. In his "Republic," set up by him as ideal, he demands, at least for the first class of his citizens, the watchers, the complete equality of woman. Women are to participate in the exercises of arms, the same as the men, and are to fill the same duties as these, only they are to attend to the lighter ones, "owing to the weakness of the sex." He maintains that the natural inclinations are equally distributed among the two sexes, only that woman is in all matters weaker than man. Furthermore, the women are to be common to the men, and vice versa; likewise are the children to be common, "so that neither the father may know his child, nor the child his father."[12]

Aristotle, in his "Politics," is satisfied with less. Woman should have a free hand in the selection of her husband, but she is to be subordinate to him; nevertheless, she should have the right "to give good advice." Thucydides expresses an opinion that meets with the applause of all modern Philistines. He says: "That wife deserves the highest praise of whom, outside of her home, neither good nor bad is heard."

With such views, respect for woman was bound to sink to a low level; fear of over-population even led to the avoidance of intimate intercourse with her. Unnatural means of satisfying sexual desires were resorted to. The Greek states were cities with small territories, unable to supply the usual sustenance to a population in excess of a given number. Hence the fear of over-population caused Aristotle to recommend to the men abstinence from their wives, and pederasty, instead. Before him, Socrates had praised pederasty as the sign of a higher culture. In the end, the most promising men of Greece became adherents of this unnatural passion. Regard for women sank all the deeper. There were now houses for male prostitutes, as there were for female. In such a social atmosphere, it was natural for Thucydides to utter the saying that woman was worse than the storm-lashed ocean's wave, than the fire's glow, than the cascade of the wild mountain torrent. "If it is a God that invented woman, wherever, he may be, let him know, that he is the unhallowed cause of the greatest evil."[13]

The male population of Greece having become addicted to pederasty, the female population fell into the opposite extreme: it took to the love of members of its own sex. This happened especially with the women of the island of Lesbos, whence this aberration was, and still continues to be named, "Lesbian love," for it has not yet died out: it survives among us. The poetess Sappho, "the Lesbian nightingale," who lived about six hundred years before our reckoning, is considered the leading representative of this form of love. Her passion is glowingly expressed in her hymn to Aphrodite, whom she implores:

"Glittering-throned, undying Aphrodite, Wile-weaving daughter of high Zeus, I pray thee, Tame not my soul with heavy woe, dread mistress, Nay, nor with anguish."

A still more passionate sensuousness is attested in her hymn to the handsome Atthis.

While in Athens, along with the rest of Greece, the father-right ruled, Sparta, the rival for supremacy with Athens, still continued under the mother-right, a condition that had become wholly foreign to most Greeks. The story runs that one day a Greek asked a Spartan what punishment was meted out in Sparta to the adulterer. He answered: "Stranger, among us there are no adulterers." "But if there should be any?" "For punishment," the Spartan replied, sarcastically, "he must donate an ox, so large as to be able to reach over Taygetus with his head, and drink out of Eurotas." Upon the startled question, put by the stranger, "How can an ox be so large?" the Spartan answered laughing: "How is it possible that there could be an adulterer in Sparta?" At the same time the self-consciousness of the Spartan woman appears in the proud answer given a stranger by the wife of Leonidas. On his saying to her: "You female Lacedaemonians are the only women who rule over your men," she answered: "So are we the only women who bring men into the world."

The free condition of women under the mother-right promoted her beauty, raised her pride, her dignity and her self-reliance. The judgment of all ancient writers is to the effect that, during the period of the gyneocracy, these qualities were highly developed among women. The constrained condition that later supervened, necessarily had its evil effect upon them. The difference appears even in the garb of the two periods. The garb of the Doric woman hung loose from her shoulders; it left the arms free, and thighs exposed: it is the garb of Diana, who is represented as free and bold in our museums. The Ionian garb, on the contrary, concealed the body and hampered its motion. The garb of woman to-day is, far more than usually realized, a sign of her dependence and helplessness. The style of woman's dress amongst most peoples, down to our own days, renders her awkward, forces on her a sense of weakness, and makes her timid; and this, finally, finds its expression in her attitude and character. The custom among the Spartans of letting the girls go naked until marriageable age—a custom that the climate allowed—contributed considerably, in the opinion of an ancient writer, to impart to them a taste for simplicity and for attention to decency. Nor was there in the custom, according to the views of those days, aught offensive to decorum, or inciting to lust. Furthermore, the girls participated in all the bodily exercises, just as the boys, and thus there was reared a vigorous, proud, self-conscious race, a race that was conscious of its own merit, as proved by the answer of Leonidas' wife to the stranger.

In intimate connection with the mother-right, after it had ceased to be a ruling social principle, stood certain customs, which modern writers, ignorant of their meaning, designate as "prostitution." In Babylon, it was a religious duty with the maid, who had reached puberty, to appear once in the temple of Mylitta in order to offer her maidenhood as a sacrifice, by surrendering herself to some man. Similarly happened in the Serapeum of Memphis; in Armenia, in honor of the goddess Anaitis; in Cyprus; in Tyrus and Sidon, in honor of Astarte or Aphrodite. The festivals of Isis among the Egyptians served similar customs. This sacrifice of virginity was demanded in order to atone with the goddess for the exclusive surrender of woman to one man in marriage:—"Not that she may wilt in the arms of a single man is woman arrayed by nature with all the charms at its command."[14] The continued favor of the goddess had to be purchased by the sacrifice of virginity to a stranger. It was likewise in line with the old idea that the Lybian maids earned their dower by prostituting their bodies. In accord with the mother-right, these women were sexually free during their unmarried status; and the men saw so little objection in these pickings, that those were taken by them for wives who had been most in demand. It was thus also among the Thracians, in the days of Herodotus: "They do not watch the maidens, but leave them full freedom to associate with whom they please. The women, however, they watch strictly. They buy them from their parents for large sums." Celebrated were the Hierodulae of the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth, where always more than one thousand maidens were gathered, and constituted a chief point of attraction for the men of Greece. Of the daughter of King Cheops of Egypt, the legend relates that she had a pyramid built out of the proceeds of prostitution of her charms.

Conditions, similar to these, prevail down to now, on the Mariana, the Philippine and the Polynesian islands; according to Waitz, also among several African tribes. Another custom, prevalent till late on the Balearic islands, and indicative of the right of all men to a woman, was that, on the wedding night, the male kin had access to the bride in order of seniority. The bridegroom came last; he then took her as wife into his own possession. This custom has been changed among other people so that the priest or the tribal chiefs (kings) exercise the privilege over the bride, as representatives of the men of the tribe. On Malabar, the Caimars hire patamars (priests) to deflower their wives.... The chief priest (Namburi) is in duty bound to render this service to the king (Zamorin) at his wedding, and the king rewards him with fifty gold pieces.[15] In Further India, and on several islands of the great ocean, it is sometimes the priests and sometimes the tribal chiefs who undertake the function.[16] The same happens in Senegambia, where the tribal chief exercises, as a duty of his office, the deflowering of maids, and receives therefor a present. Again, with other peoples, the custom was, and continues here and yonder, that the deflowering of a maid, sometimes even of a child only a few months old, is done by means of images of deities, fashioned expressly for this purpose. It may also be accepted as certain that the "jus primae noctis" (the right of the first night), prevalent in Germany and all Europe until late in the Middle Ages, owes its origin to the same tradition, as Frederick Engels observes. The landlord, who, as master of his dependents and serfs, looked upon himself as their chief, exercised the right of the head of the tribe, a right that he considered had passed over to himself as the arbiter of their lives and existence.

Echoes of the mother-right are further detected in the singular custom among some South American tribes, that, instead of the lying-in woman, the man goes to bed, there acts like a woman in labor, and is tended by the wife. The custom implies that the father recognizes the new born child as his own. By imitating the pains of child-birth, the man fills the fiction that the birth is also his work; that he, therefore, has a right to the child, who, according to the former custom, belonged to the mother and the mother's gens, respectively. The custom is said to have also maintained itself among the Basques, who must be looked upon as a people of primitive usages and customs. Likewise is the custom said to prevail among several mountain tribes in China. It prevailed until not long since in Corsica.

In Greece likewise did woman become an article of purchase. So soon as she stepped into the house of her marital lord, she ceased to exist for her family. This was symbolically expressed by burning before the door the handsomely decked wagon which took her to the house of her husband. Among the Ostiaks of Siberia, to this day, the father sells his daughter: he chaffers with the representative of the bridegroom about the price to be paid. Likewise among several African tribes, the same as in the days of Jacob, the custom is that a man who courts a maid, enters in the service of his future mother-in-law. Even with us, marriage by purchase has not died out: it prevails in bourgeois society worse than ever. Marriage for money, almost everywhere customary among the ruling classes, is nothing other than marriage by purchase. Indeed, the marriage gift, which in all civilized countries the bridegroom makes to the bride, is but a symbol of the purchase of the wife as property.

Along with marriage by purchase, there was the custom of marriage by rape. The rape of women was a customary practice, not alone among the ancient Jews, but everywhere in antiquity. It is met with among almost all nations. The best known historic instance is the rape of the Sabine women by the Romans. The rape of women was an easy remedy where women ran short, as, according to the legend, happened to the early Romans; or where polygamy was the custom, as everywhere in the Orient. There it assumed large proportions during the supremacy of the Arabs, from the seventh to the twelfth century.

Symbolically, the rape of woman still occurs, for instance among the Araucans of South Chile. While the friends of the bridegroom are negotiating with the father of the bride, the bridegroom steals with his horse into the neighborhood of the house, and seeks to capture the bride. So soon as he catches her, he throws her upon his horse, and makes off with her to the woods. The men, women and children thereupon raise a great hue and cry, and seek to prevent the escape. But when the bridegroom has reached the thick of the woods, the marriage is considered consummated. This holds good also when the abduction takes place against the will of the parents. Similar customs prevail among the peoples of Australia.

Among ourselves, the custom of "wedding trips" still reminds us of the former rape of the wife: the bride is carried off from her domestic flock. On the other hand, the exchange of rings is a reminiscence of the subjection and enchainment of the woman to the man. The custom originated in Rome. The bride received an iron ring from her husband as a sign of her bondage to him. Later the ring was made of gold; much later the exchange of rings was introduced, as a sign of mutual union.

The old family ties of the gens had, accordingly, lost their foundation through the development of the conditions of production, and through the rule of private property. Upon the abolition of the gens, grounded on mother-right, the gens, grounded on the father-right first took its place, although not for long, and with materially weakened functions. Its task was mainly to attend to the common religious affairs and to the ceremonial of funerals: to safeguard the mutual obligation of protection and of help against violence: to enforce the right, and, in certain cases, the duty of marrying in the gens, in cases when rich heiresses or female orphans were concerned. The gens, furthermore, administered the still existing common property. But the segmentation of handicraft from agriculture; the ever wider expansion of commerce; the founding of cities, rendered necessary by both of these; the conquest of booty and prisoners of war, the latter of which directly affected the household,—all of these tore to shreds the conditions and bonds of eld. Handicraft had gradually subdivided itself into a larger number of separate trades—weaving, pottery, iron-forging, the preparation of arms, house and shipbuilding, etc. Accordingly, it pushed toward another organization. The ever further introduction of slavery, the admittance of strangers into the community,—these were all so many new and additional elements that rendered the old constitution of society ever more impossible.

Along with private property and the personal right of inheritance, class distinctions and class contrasts came into existence. Rich property-owners drew together against those who owned less, or nothing. The former sought to get into their own hands the public offices of the new commonwealth, and to make them hereditary. Money, now become necessary, created thitherto unknown forms of indebtedness. Wars against enemies from without, and conflicting interests within, as well as the various interests and relations which agriculture, handicraft and commerce mutually produced rendered necessary complicated rules of right, they demanded special organs to guard the orderly movement of the social machinery, and to settle disputes. The same held good for the relations of master and slave, creditor and debtor. A power, accordingly, became necessary to supervise, lead, regulate and harmonize all these relations, with authority to protect, and, when needed, to punish. Thus rose the State, the product, accordingly of the conflicting interests that sprang up in the new social order. Its administration naturally fell into the hands of those who had the liveliest interest in its establishment, and who, in virtue of their social power, possessed the greatest influence,—the rich. Aristocracy of property and democracy confronted each other, accordingly, even there where externally complete equality of political rights existed.

Under the mother-right, there was no written law. The relations were simple, and custom was held sacred. Under the new, and much more complicated order, written law was one of the most important requirements; and special organs became necessary to administer it. In the measure that the legal relations and legal conditions gained in intricacy, a special class of people gathered shape, who made the study of the law their special vocation, and who finally had a special interest in rendering the law ever more complicated. Then arose the men learned in the laws, the jurists, who, due to the importance of the statutory law to the whole of society, rose to influential social rank. The new system of rights found in the course of time its classic expression in the Roman State, whence the influence that Roman law exercises down to the present.

The institution of the State is, accordingly, the necessary result of a social order, that, standing upon the higher plane of the subdivision of labor, is broken up into a large number of occupations, animated by different, frequently conflicting, interests, and hence has the oppression of the weaker for a consequence. This fact was recognized even by an Arabian tribe, the Nabateans, who, according to Diodorus, established the regulation not to sow, not to plant, to drink no wine, and to build no houses, but to live in tents, because if those things were done, they could be easily compelled to obey by a superior power (the power of the State). Likewise among the Rachebites, the descendants of the father-in-law of Moses, there existed similar prescriptions.[17] Aye, the whole Mosaic system of laws is aimed at preventing the Jews from moving out of an agricultural state, because otherwise, so the legislators feared, their democratic-communistic society would go under. Hence the selection of the "Promised Land" in a region bounded, on one side, by a not very accessible mountain range, the Lebanon; on the other side, South and East, by but slightly fertile stretches of land, partly by deserts;—a region, accordingly, that rendered isolation possible. Hence came the keeping of the Jews away from the sea, which favored commerce, colonization and the accumulation of wealth; hence the rigid laws concerning seclusion from other peoples, the severe regulations against foreign marriages, the poor laws, the agrarian laws, the jubileum,—all of them provisions calculated to prevent the accumulation of great wealth by the individual. The Jewish people were to be kept in permanent disability ever to become the builders of a real State. Hence it happens that the tribal organization, which rested upon the gentile order, remained in force with them till its complete dissolution, and continues to affect them even now.

It seems that the Latin tribes, which took a hand in the founding of Rome, had long passed beyond the stage of the mother-right. Hence Rome was built from the start as a State. The women that they needed they captured, as the legend tells us, from the tribe of the Sabines, and they called themselves after their Sabine wives,—Quirites. Even in later years, the Roman citizens were addressed in the Forum as Quirites. "Populus Romanus" stood for the free population of Rome in general; but "Populus Romanus quiritium" expressed the ancestry and quality of the Roman citizen. The Roman gens was of father-right stamp. The children inherited as consanguineous heirs; if there were no children, the relatives of the male line inherited; were none of these in existence, then the property reverted to the gens. By marriage, woman lost her right to inherit her father's property and that of his brothers. She had stepped out of her gens: neither she nor her children could inherit from her father or his brothers: otherwise the inheritance would be lost to the paternal gens. The division in gentes, phratries and tribes constituted in Rome for centuries the foundation of the military organization, and also of the exercise of the rights of citizenship. But with the decay of the paternal gentes and the decline of their significance, conditions shaped themselves more favorably for woman. She could not only inherit, but had the right to administer her own fortune. She was, accordingly, far more favorably situated than her Greek sister. The freer position that, despite all legal impediments, she gradually knew how to conquer, caused the elder Cato, born 234 before our reckoning, to complain: "If, after the example of his ancestors, every head of a family kept his wife in proper subjection, we would not have so much public bother with the whole sex."[18]

So long as the father lived, he held in Rome the guardianship over his daughter, even if she were married, unless he appointed another guardian himself. When the father died, the nearest male of kin, even though declared unqualified as an agnate, came in as guardian. The guardian had the right at any time to transfer the guardianship to any third person that he pleased. Accordingly, before the law, the Roman woman had no will of her own.

The nuptial forms were various, and in the course of centuries underwent manifold alterations. The most solemn nuptials were celebrated before the High Priest, in the presence of at least ten witnesses. At the occasion, the bridal pair, in token of their union, partook together from a cake made of flour, salt and water. As will be noticed, a ceremony is here celebrated, that bears great resemblance to the breaking of the sacramental wafer at the Christian communion. A second form of nuptials consisted in possession. The marriage was considered accomplished if, with the consent of her father or guardian, a woman lived with the chosen man a whole year under one roof. A third form of nuptials was a sort of mutual purchase, both sides exchanging coins, and the promise to be man and wife. Already at the time of Cicero[19] free divorce for both sides was generally established; it was even debated whether the announcement of the divorce was necessary. The "lex Julia de adulteriis," however, prescribed that the divorce was to be solemnly proclaimed. This decree was made for the reason that women, who committed adultery, and were summoned to answer the charge, often claimed to have been divorced. Justinian, the Christian[20] forbade free divorce, unless both sides desired to retire to a monastery. His successor, Justinian II, however, found himself obliged to allow it again.

With the growing power and rising wealth of Rome, mad-brained vices and excesses took the place of the former severity of manners. Rome became the center from which debauchery, riotous luxury and sensuous refinements radiated over the whole of the then civilized world. The excesses took—especially during the time of the Emperors, and, to a great extent, through the Emperors themselves—forms that only insanity could suggest. Men and women vied with one another in vice. The number of houses of prostitution became ever larger, and, hand in hand with these, the "Greek love" (pederasty) spread itself ever more among the male population. At times, the number of young men in Rome who prostituted themselves was larger than that of the female prostitutes.

"The hetairae appeared, surrounded by their admirers, in great pomp on the streets, promenades, the circus and theatres, often carried by negroes upon litters, where, holding a mirror in their hands, and sparkling with ornaments and precious stones, they lay outstretched, nude, fan-carrying slaves standing by them, and surrounded by a swarm of boys, eunuchs and flute-players; grotesque dwarfs closed the procession."

These excesses assumed such proportions in the Roman Empire that they became a danger to the Empire itself. The example of the men was followed by the women. There were women, Seneca reports, who counted the years, not as was the usage, after the consuls, but after the number of their husbands. Adultery was general; and, in order that the women might escape the severe punishments prescribed for the offense, they, and among them the leading dames of Rome, caused themselves to be entered in the registers of the Aediles as prostitutes.

Hand in hand with these excesses, civil wars and the latifundia system, celibacy and childlessness increased in such measure that the number of Roman citizens and of patricians ran down considerably. Hence in the year 16 B. C., Augustus issued the so-called Julian Law,[21] which offered prizes for the birth of children, and imposed penalties for celibacy upon the Roman citizens and patricians. He who had children had precedence in rank over the childless and unmarried. Bachelors could accept no inheritance, except from their own nearest kin. The childless could only inherit one-half; the rest fell to the State. Women, who could be taxed with adultery, had to surrender one-half of their dower to the abused husband. Thereupon there were men who married out of speculation on the adultery of their wives. This caused Plutarch to observe: "The Romans marry, not to obtain heirs, but to inherit."

Still later the Julian Law was made severer. Tiberius decreed that no woman, whose grandfather, father or husband had been or still was a Roman Knight, could prostitute herself for money. Married women, who caused themselves to be entered in the registers of prostitutes, were condemned to banishment from Italy as adulteresses. Of course, there were no such punishments for the men. Moreover, as Juvenal reports, even the murder of husbands by poison was a frequent occurrence in the Rome of his day—the first half of the first century before Christ.


[1] Bachofen's book appeared in 1861 under the title, "Das Mutterrecht" (Mother-right) "Eine Untersuchung ueber die Gynaekokratie der Alten Welt nach ihrer religioesen und rechtlichen Natur," Stuttgart, Krais & Hoffmann. Morgan's fundamental work, "Ancient Society," appeared in a German translation in 1891, J. H. W. Dietz, Stuttgart. From the same publisher there appeared in German: "The Origin of the Family, of Private Property and the State, in support of Lewis H. Morgan's Investigations," by Frederick Engels. Fourth enlarged edition, 1892. Also "Die Verwandtschafts-Organisationen der Australneger. Ein Beitrag zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der Familie," by Heinrich Cunow, 1894.

[The perspective into which the Pleiades of distinguished names are thrown in the text just above is apt to convey an incorrect impression, and the impression is not materially corrected in the subsequent references to them. Neither Bachofen, nor yet Tylor, McLennan or Lubbock contributed to the principles that now are canons in ethnology. They were not even path-finders, valuable though their works are.

Bachofen collected, in his work entitled "Das Mutterrecht," the gleanings of vast and tireless researches among the writings of the ancients, with an eye to female authority. Subsequently, and helping themselves more particularly to the more recent contributions to archeology, that partly dealt with living aborigines, Tylor, McLennan and Lubbock produced respectively, "Early History of Mankind;" "Primitive Marriage;" and "Pre-Historic Times" and "Origin of Civilization." These works, though partly theoretic, yet are mainly descriptive. By an effort of genius—like the wood-pecker, whose instinct tells it the desired worm is beneath the bark and who pecks at and round about it—all these men, Bachofen foremost, scented sense in the seeming nonsense of ancient traditions, or surmised significance in the more recently ascertained customs of living aborigines. But again, like the wood-pecker, that has struck a bark too thick for its bill, these men could not solve the problem they were at. They lacked the information to pick, and they had not, nor were they so situated as to furnish themselves with, the key to open the lock. Morgan furnished the key.

Lewis Henry Morgan, born In Aurora, N. Y., November 21, 1818, and equipped with vast scholarship and archeological information, took up his residence among the Iroquois Indians, by whom, the Hawk gens of the Seneca tribe, he was eventually adopted. The fruit of his observations there and among other Indian tribes that he visited even west of the Mississippi, together with simultaneous information sent him by the American missionaries in the Sandwich Islands, was a series of epoch-making works, "The League of the Iroquois," "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family," and "Ancient Society," which appeared in 1877. A last and not least valuable work was his "Houses and Houselife of the American Aborigines." A solid foundation was now laid for the science of ethnology and anthropology. The problem was substantially solved.

The robust scientific mind of Karl Marx promptly absorbed the revelations made by Morgan, and he recast his own views accordingly. A serious ethnological error had crept into his great work, "Capital," two editions of which had been previously published in German between 1863-1873. A footnote by Frederick Engels (p. 344, Swan, Sonnenschein & Co., English edition, 1886) testifies to the revolution Morgan's works had wrought on the ethnological conceptions of the founder of Socialist economics and sociology.

Subsequently, Frederick Engels, planted squarely on the principles established by Morgan, issued a series of brilliant monographs, in which, equipped with the key furnished by Morgan and which Engels' extensive economic and sociologic knowledge enabled him to wield with deftness, he explained interesting social phenomena among the ancients, and thereby greatly enriched the literature of social science.

Finally, Heinrich Cunow, though imagining to perceive some minor flaws in some secondary parts of Morgan's theory, placed himself in absolute accord with the body of Morgan's real work, as stated later in the text in a quotation from Cunow; and, following closely in Morgan's footsteps, made and published interesting independent researches on the system of consanguinity among the Austral-Negros.—THE TRANSLATOR.]

[2] In his book against us, Ziegler ridicules the idea of attributing to myths any significance whatever in the history of civilization. In that notion stands betrayed the superficial nature of so-called scientists. They do not recognize what they do not see. A deep significance lies at the bottom of myths. They have grown out of the people's soul; out of olden morals and customs that have gradually disappeared, and now continue to live only in the myth. When we strike facts that explain a myth we are in possession of solid ground for its interpretation.

[3] Bachofen: "Das Mutterrecht."

[4] Totem-group means generation-group. Each grade or generation has its own totem-animal. For instance: Opossum, emu, wolf, bear, etc., after which the group is named. The totem-animal frequently enjoys great honor. It is held sacred with the respective group, and its members may neither kill the animal, nor eat its flesh. The totem-animal has a similar significance to the patron saint of the guild in the Middle Ages.

[5] In the oldest ward of the city of Prague, there is a small synagogue that comes down from the sixth century of our reckoning, and is said to be the oldest synagogue in Germany. If the visitor steps down about seven steps into the half-dark space, he discovers in the opposite wall several target-like openings that lead into a completely dark room. To the question, where these openings lead to our leader answered: "To the woman's compartment, whence they witness the service." The modern synagogues are much more cheerfully arranged, but the separation of the women from the men is preserved.

[6] Frederick Engels, "The Origin of the Family."

[7] Frederick Engels, ubi supra.

[8] Book of Judges, 20, 21 and sequel.

[9] Bachofen: "Das Mutterrecht."

[10] Of the theater, to which women had no access.

[11] Johann Scherr, "Deutsche Kultur-und Sittengeschichte:" Leipsic, 1887. Otto Wigand. As is known, Suderman deals with the same subject in his play, "Die Ehre."

[12] Plato, "The Republic," Book V.

[13] Leon Bichter, "La Femme Libre."

[14] Bachofen. "Das Mutterrecht."

[15] K. Kautsky, "Die Entstehung der Ehe und der Familie," Kosmos, 1883.

[16] Montegazza, "L'Amour dans l'Humanite."

[17] Joh. David Michaelis, "Mosaisches Recht," Reutlingen, 1793.

[18] Karl Heinzen, "Ueber die Rechte und Stellung der Frauen."

[19] Born 106 before our reckoning.

[20] He lived from 527 to 565 of our reckoning.

[21] Augustus, the son of Caesar by adoption, was of the Julian gens, hence the title "Julian" law.



The opposite of polygamy,—as we have learned to know it among Oriental peoples, and as it still exists among them, but owing to the number of available women and the cost of their support, can be indulged in only by the privileged and the rich—is polyandry. The latter exists mainly among the highland people of Thibet, among the Garras on the Hindoo-Chinese frontier, among the Baigas in Godwana, the Nairs in the southern extremity of India; it is said to be found also among the Eskimos and Aleutians. Heredity is determined in the only way possible,—after the mother: the children belong to her. The husbands of a woman are usually brothers. When the elder brother marries, the other brothers likewise become the husbands of the woman; the woman, however, preserves the right to take other men besides. Conversely, the men also are said to have the right of taking a second, third, fourth, or more wives. To what circumstances polyandry owes its origin is not yet clear. Seeing that the polyandrous nations, without exception, live either on high mountain regions, or in the cold zone, polyandry probably owes its existence to a phenomenon that Tarnowsky comments on.[22] He learned from reliable travelers that a long sojourn at high elevations lowers the sensuous pleasures, and weakens erection, both of which return with new vigor by re-descension to lower altitudes. This lowering of the sexual powers, Tarnowsky is of the opinion, might partly account for the comparative slight increase of population on highland regions; and he is of the opinion that, when the debility is transmitted, it may become a source of degeneration that operates upon the perversity of the sexual sense.

We may also add that a protracted domicile, together with the habits of life contracted on very high or cold regions, may have for a further result that polyandry lays no excessive demands upon a woman. The women themselves are correspondingly affected in their nature. That they are so is rendered probable by the circumstance that, among the Eskimo girls, menstruation sets in only with the nineteenth year, whereas in the warm zones it sets in as early as the tenth or eleventh, and in the temperate latitudes between the fourteenth and the sixteenth year. In view of the fact that warm climates, as universally recognized, exercise a strongly stimulating influence upon the sexual instinct,—whence polygamy finds its widest diffusion in warm countries—it is quite likely that cold regions—to which high mountains and plateaus belong, and where the thinner air may also contribute its share—may exercise materially a restringent effect upon the sexual instinct. It must, moreover, be noted that experience shows conception occurs rarer with women who cohabit with several men. The increase of population is, accordingly, slight under polyandry; and it fits in with the difficulty of securing subsistence, encountered in cold lands and mountain regions;—whereby additional proof is furnished that also, in this, to us so seemingly strange phenomenon of polyandry, production has its determining influence upon the relations of the sexes. Finally, it is to be ascertained whether among these peoples, who live on high mountains or in cold zones, the killing of girl babies is not a frequent practice, as is oft reported of the Mongolian tribes, on the highlands of China.

Exactly the reverse of the custom among the Romans during the Empire, of allowing celibacy and childlessness to gain the upper hand, was the custom prevalent among the Jews. True enough, the Jewish woman had no right to choose; her father fixed upon the husband she was to wed; but marriage was a duty, that they religiously followed. The Talmud advises: "When your daughter is of marriageable age, give his freedom to one of your slaves and engage her to him." In the same sense the Jews followed strictly the command of their God: "Increase and multiply." Due to this, and despite all persecutions and oppression, they have diligently increased their numbers. The Jew is the sworn enemy of Malthusianism.

Already Tacitus says of them: "Among themselves there is a stubborn holding together, and ready open-handedness; but, for all others, hostile hatred. Never do they eat, never do they sleep with foes; and, although greatly inclined to sensuousness, they abstain from procreation with foreign women. Nevertheless they strive to increase their people. Infanticide is held a sin with them; and the souls of those who die in battle or by execution they consider immortal. Hence the love of procreation beside their contempt of death." Tacitus hated and abhorred the Jews, because, in contempt of the religion of their fathers, they heaped up wealth and treasures. He called them the "worst set of people," an "ugly race."[23]

Under the over-lordship of the Romans, the Jews drew ever closer together. Under the long period of sufferings, which, from that time on, they had to endure, almost throughout the whole of the Christian Middle Ages, grew that intimate family life that is to-day considered a sort of pattern by the modern bourgeois regime. On the other side, Roman society underwent the process of disintegration and dissolution, which led the Empire to its destruction. Upon the excesses, bordering on insanity, followed the other extreme,—the most rigid abstinence. As excess, in former days, now asceticism assumed religious forms. A dream-land-fanaticism made propaganda for it. The unbounded gluttony and luxury of the ruling classes stood in glaring contrast with the want and misery of the millions upon millions that conquering Rome dragged, from all the then known countries of the world, into Italy and slavery. Among these were also numberless women, who, separated from their domestic hearths, from their parents or their husbands, and torn from their children, felt their misery most keenly, and yearned for deliverance. A large number of Roman women, disgusted at that which happened all around them, found themselves in similar frame of mind; any change in their condition seemed to them a relief. A deep longing for a change, for deliverance, took possession of extensive social layers;—and the deliverer seemed to approach. The conquest of Jerusalem and of the Jewish kingdom by the Romans had for its consequence the destruction of all national independence, and begot among the ascetic sects of that country, dreamers, who announced the birth of a new kingdom, that was to bring freedom and happiness to all.

Christ came, and Christianity arose. It embodied the opposition to the bestial materialism that reigned among the great and the rich of the Roman Empire; it represented the revolt against the contempt for and oppression of the masses. But originating in Judaism, which knew woman only as a being bereft of all rights, and biased by the Biblical conception which saw in her the source of all evil, Christianity preached contempt for woman. It also preached abstinence, the mortification of the flesh, then so sinful, and it pointed with its ambiguous phrases to a prospective kingdom, which some interpreted as of heaven, others as of earth, and which was to bring freedom and justice to all. With these doctrines it found fertile ground in the submerged bottom of the Roman Empire. Woman, hoping, along with all the miserable, for freedom and deliverance from her condition, joined readily and zealously. Down to our own days, never yet was a great and important movement achieved in the world without women also having been conspicuously active as combatants and martyrs. Those who praise Christianity as a great achievement of civilization should not forget that it was woman in particular to whom Christianity owes a great part of its success. Her proselyting zeal played a weighty role in the Roman Empire, as well as among the barbarous peoples of the Middle Ages. The mightiest were by her converted to Christianity. It was Clotilde, for instance, who moved Clovis, the King of the Franks, to accept Christianity; it was, again, Bertha, Queen of Kent, and Gisela, Queen of Hungary, who introduced Christianity in their countries. To the influence of the women is due the conversion of many of the great. But Christianity requited woman ill. Its tenets breathe the same contempt for woman that is breathed in all the religions of the East. It orders her to be the obedient servant of her husband, and the vow of obedience she must, to this day, make to him at the altar.

Let us hear the Bible and Christianity speak of woman and marriage. The ten commandments are addressed only to the men; in the tenth commandment woman is bracketed with servants and domestic animals. Man is warned not to covet his neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his. Woman, accordingly, appears as an object, as a piece of property, that the man may not hanker after, if in another's possession. Jesus, who belonged to a sect—the sect which imposed upon itself strict asceticism and even self-emasculation[24]—being asked by his disciples whether it is good to marry, answers: "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."[25] Emasculation is, according hereto, an act hallowed by God, and the renunciation of love and marriage a good deed.

Paul, who, in a higher degree than even Jesus himself, may be called the founder of the Christian religion; Paul, who first impressed an international character upon this creed, and tore it away from the narrow sectarianism of the Jews, writes to the Corinthians: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman;" "he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better."[26] "Walk in the Spirit and fulfil not the lust of the flesh, for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh;" "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts."" He followed his own precepts, and did not marry. This hatred of the flesh is the hatred of woman, but also the fear of woman, who—see the scene in Paradise—is represented as the seducer of man. In this spirit did the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church preach; in this spirit did the Church work throughout the whole of the Middle Ages, when it reared its cloisters, and introduced celibacy among the priesthood;—and to this day it works in the same spirit.

According to Christianity, woman is the unclean being; the seducer, who introduced sin into the world and ruined man. Hence Apostles, and Fathers of the Church alike, have ever looked upon marriage as a necessary evil,—the same as is said to-day of prostitution. Tertulian exclaims: "Woman, thou should ever walk in mourning and rags, thy eyes full of tears, present the aspect of repentance to induce forgetfulness of your having ruined the human race. Woman, thou art the Gate of Hell!" Hieronymus says: "Marriage always is a vice; all that we can do is to excuse and cleanse it," hence it was made a sacrament of the Church. Origen declares: "Marriage is something unholy and unclean, a means for sensuality," and, in order to resist the temptation, he emasculated himself. Tertulian declares: "Celibacy is preferable, even if the human race goes to ground." Augustine teaches: "The celibates will shine in heaven like brilliant stars, while their parents (who brought them forth) are like dark stars." Eusebius and Hieronymus agree that the Biblical command, "Increase and multiply," no longer fits the times, and does not concern the Christians. Hundreds of other quotations from the most influential Fathers of the Church could be cited, all of which tend in the same direction. By means of their continuous teaching and preaching, they have spread those unnatural views touching sexual matters, and the intercourse of the sexes, the latter of which, nevertheless, remains a commandment of nature, and obedience to which is one of the most important duties in the mission of life. Modern society is still severely ailing from these teachings, and it is recovering but slowly.

Peter calls out emphatically to women: "Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands."[27] Paul writes to the Ephesians: "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church;"[28] and in Corinthians: "Man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man."[29] According to which every sot of a man may hold himself better than the most distinguished woman;—indeed, it is so in practice to-day. Also against the higher education of women does Paul raise his weighty voice: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, out to be in silence;"[30] and again: "Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."[31]

Such doctrines are not peculiar to Christianity only. Christianity being a mixture of Judaism and Greek philosophy, and seeing that these, in turn, have their roots in the older civilization of the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Hindoos, the subordinate position that Christianity assigned to woman was one common in antiquity. In the Hindoo laws of Manu it is said regarding woman: "The source of dishonor is woman; the source of strife is woman; the source of earthly existence is woman; therefore avoid woman." Beside this degradation of woman, fear of her ever and anon reappears naively. Manu further sets forth: "Woman is by nature ever inclined to tempt man; hence a man should not sit in a secluded place even with his nearest female relative." Woman, accordingly, is, according to the Hindoo as well as the Old Testament and Christian view, everywhere the tempter. All masterhood implies the degradation of the mastered. The subordinate position of woman continues, to this day, even more in force in the backward civilization of the East than among the nations that enjoy a so-called Christian view-point. That which, in the so-called Christian world, gradually improved the situation of woman was, not Christianity, but the advanced culture of the West struggling against the Christian doctrine.

Christianity is guiltless of woman's present improved position to what it was at the start of the era. Only reluctantly, and forced thereto, did Christianity become untrue to its true spirit with regard to woman. Those who rave about "the mission of Christianity to emancipate mankind," differ from us in this, as in other respects. They claim that Christianity freed woman from her previous low position, and they ground themselves upon the worship of Mary, the "mother of God,"—a cult, however, that sprang up only later in Christendom, but which they point to as a sign of regard for the whole sex. The Roman Catholic Church, which celebrates this cult, should be the last to lay claim to such a doctrine. The Saints and Fathers of the Church, cited above, and whose utterances could be easily multiplied—and they are the leading Church authorities—express themselves separately and collectively hostile to woman and to marriage. The Council of Macon, which, in the sixteenth century, discussed the question whether woman had a soul, and which decided with a majority of but one vote, that she had, likewise argues against the theory of such a friendly posture towards woman. The introduction of celibacy by Gregory VII[32]—although resorted to first of all and mainly with the end in view of holding in the unmarried priesthood a power that could not be alienated from the service of the Church through any family interests—was, nevertheless, possible only with such fundamental doctrines as the Church held touching the sinfulness of the lusts of the flesh; and it goes to confirm our theory.

Neither did the Reformers, especially Calvin and the Scotch ministers, with their wrath at the "lusts of the flesh," entertain any doubt touching the hostile posture of Christianity towards woman.[33]

By the introduction of the cult of Mary, the Roman Catholic Church shrewdly placed the worship of Mary in the place of that of the heathen goddesses, in vogue among all the people over whom Christianity was then extending itself. Mary took the place of the Cybele, the Mylitta, the Aphrodite, the Venus, the Ceres, etc., of the southern races; of the Freia, the Frigga, etc., of the Germanian tribes. She was a mere spiritually-Christian idealization.

The primeval, physically robust, though rude yet uncorrupted races, that, during the first centuries of our reckoning, crowded down from the North and East like a gigantic ocean wave, and swamped the worn-out universal Empire of Rome, where Christianity had gradually been superimposing itself as master, resisted with all their might the ascetic doctrines of the Christian preachers. With good grace or bad, the latter were forced to reckon with these robust natures. With astonishment did the Romans perceive that the customs of those peoples were quite different from their own. Tacitus rendered to this fact the tribute of his acknowledgment, which, with regard to the Germans, he expressed in these words: "The matrimonial bond is, nevertheless, strict and severe among them; nor is there anything in their manners more commendable than this. Almost singly among the barbarians, they content themselves with one wife. Adultery is extremely rare among so numerous a people. Its punishment is instant, and at the pleasure of the husband. He cuts off the hair of the offender, strips her, and in the presence of her relations expels her from his house, and pursues her with stripes through the whole village. Nor is any indulgence shown to a prostitute. Neither beauty, youth, nor riches can procure her a husband; for none there looks on vice with a smile, or calls mutual seduction the way of the world. The youths partake late of the pleasures of love, and hence pass the age of puberty unexhausted; nor are the virgins hurried into marriage; the same maturity, the same full growth is required; the sexes unite equally matched, and robust; and the children inherit the vigor of their parents."

With the object in view of holding up a pattern to the Romans, Tacitus painted the conjugal conditions of the old Germans with rather too rosy a hue. No doubt, the adulteress was severely punished among them; but the same did not hold good with regard to the adulterer. At the time of Tacitus, the gens was still in bloom among the Germans. He, to whom, living under the advanced Roman conditions, the old gentile constitution, together with its principles, was bound to seem strange and incomprehensible, narrates with astonishment that, with the Germans, the mother's brother, considered his nephew as an own son; aye, some looked upon the bond of consanguinity between the uncle on the mother's side and his nephew as more sacred and closer than that between father and son. So that, when hostages were demanded, the sister's son was considered a better guarantee than an own son. Engels adds hereto: "If an own son was given by the members of such a gens as a pledge for a treaty, and he fell a sacrifice through his own father's violation of the treaty, the latter had to settle accounts for himself. If, however, it was a sister's son who was sacrificed, then the old gentile right was violated. The nearest gentile relative, held before all others to safeguard the boy or lad, had caused his death; he either had no right to offer him as a pledge, or he was bound to observe the treaty."[34]

For the rest, as Engels shows, the mother-right had already yielded to the father-right among the Germans, at the time of Tacitus. The children inherited from their father; in the absence of these, then the brothers and the uncle of the father on the mother's side. The admission of the mother's brother as an heir, although descent from the father determined the line of inheritance, is explained with the theory that the old right had only recently died away. It was only reminiscences of the old right that furnished the conditions, which enabled Tacitus to find a, to the Romans, incomprehensible regard for the female sex among the Germans. He also found that their courage was pricked to the utmost by the women. The thought that their women might fall into captivity or slavery was the most horrible that the old German could conceive of; it spurred him to utmost resistance. But the women also were animated by the spirit that possessed the men. When Marius refused the captured women of the Teutons to dedicate themselves as priestesses to Vesta (the goddess of maidenly chastity) they committed suicide.

In the time of Tacitus, the Germans already acquired settled habitations. Yearly the division of land by lots took place. Besides that, there was common property in the woods, water and pasture grounds. Their lives were yet simple; their wealth principally cattle; their dress consisted of coarse woolen mantles, or skins of animals. Neither women nor chiefs wore under-clothing. The working of metals was in practice only among those tribes located too far away for the introduction of Roman products of industry. Justice was administered in minor affairs by the council of elders; on more important matters, by the assembly of the people. The chiefs were elected, generally out of the same family, but the transition of the father-right favored the heredity of office, and led finally to the establishment of a hereditary nobility, from which later sprang the kingdom. As in Greece and Rome, the German gens went to pieces with the rise of private property and the development of industries and trade, and through the commingling with members of strange tribes and peoples. The place of the gens was taken by the community, the mark, the democratic organization of free peasants, the latter of which, in the course of many centuries, constituted a firm bulwark in the struggles against the nobility, the Church and the Princes,—a bulwark that broke down by little and little, but that did not wholly crumble even after the feudal State had come to power, and the one-time free peasants were in droves reduced to the condition of serfs and dependents.

The confederation of marks was represented by the heads of the families. Married women, daughters, daughters-in-law were excluded from council and administration. The time when women were conspicuous in the conduct of the affairs of the tribe—a circumstance that likewise astonished Tacitus in the highest degree, and which he reports in terms of contempt—were gone. The Salic law abolished in the fifth century of our reckoning the succession of the female sex to hereditary domains.

Soon as he married, every member of a mark was entitled to a share in the common lands. As a rule, grand-parents, parents and children lived under one roof, in communal household. Hence, with a view of being allotted a further share, under-aged or unripe sons were not infrequently married by their father to some marriageable maiden; the father then filled the duties of husband, in the stead of his son.[35] Young married couples received a cart-load of beechwood, and timber for a block-house. If a daughter was born to the couple, they received one load of wood; if a son, two loads.[36] The female sex was considered worth only one-half.

Marriage was simple. A religious formality was unknown. Mutual declarations sufficed. As soon as a couple mounted the nuptial bed, the marriage was consummated. The custom that marriage needs an act of the Church for its validity, came in only in the ninth century. Only in the sixteenth century, on decree of the Council of Trent, was marriage declared a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church.

With the rise of feudalism, the condition of a large number of the members of the free communities declined. The victorious army-commanders utilized their power to appropriate large territories unto themselves; they considered themselves masters of the common property, which they distributed among their devoted retinue—slaves, serfs, freedmen, generally of foreign descent,—for a term of years, or with the right of inheritance. They thus furnished themselves with a court and military nobility, in all things devoted to their will. The establishment of the large Empire of the Franks finally put an end to the last vestiges of the old gentile constitution. In the place of the former councils of chiefs, now stood the lieutenants of the army and of the newly formed nobility.

Gradually, the mass of the freemen, members of the once free communities, lapsed into exhaustion and poverty, due to the continuous wars of conquest and the strifes among the great, whose burdens they had to bear. They could no longer meet the obligation of furnishing the army requisitions. In lieu thereof, Princes and high nobility secured servants, while the peasants placed themselves and their property under the protection of some temporal or spiritual lord—the Church had managed, within but few centuries, to become a great power—wherefor they paid rent and tribute. Thus the thitherto free peasant's estate was transformed into hired property; and this, with time, was burdened with ever more obligations. Once landed in this state of dependence, it was not long before the peasant lost his personal freedom also. In this way dependence and serfdom spread ever more.

The landlord possessed the almost absolute right of disposal over his serfs and dependents. He had the right, as soon as a male reached his eighteenth year, or the female her fourteenth, to compel their marriage. He could assign a woman to a man, and a man to a woman. He enjoyed the same right over widows and widowers. In his attribute of lord over his subjects, he also considered the sexual use of his female serfs and dependents to be at his own disposal,—a power that finds its expression in the "jus primae noctis" (the right of the first night). This right also belonged to his representative, the stewart, unless, upon the payment of a tribute, the exercise of the right was renounced. The very names of the tribute betray its nature.[37]

It is extensively disputed that this "right of the first night" ever existed. The "right of the first night" is quite a thorn in the side of certain folks, for the reason that the right was still exercised at an age, that they love to hold up as a model,—a genuine model of morality and piety. It has been pointed out how this "right of the first night" was the rudiment of a custom, that hung together with the age of the mother-right, when all the women were the wives of all the men of a class. With the disappearance of the old family organization, the custom survived in the surrender of the bride, on the wedding night, to the men of her own community. But, in the course of time, the right is ever more restricted, and finally falls to the chief of the tribe, or to the priest, as a religious act, to be exercised by them alone. The feudal lord assumes the right as a consequence of his power over the person who belongs to the land, and which is his property; and he exercises the right if he wills, or relinquishes it in lieu of a tribute in products or money. How real was the "right of the first night" appears from Jacob Grimm's "Weisthumer."[38]

Sugenheim[39] says the "jus primae noctis," as a right appertaining to the landlords, originates in that his consent to marriage was necessary. Out of this right there arose in Bearn the usage that all the first-born of marriages, in which the "jus primae noctis" was exercised, were of free rank. Later, the right was generally redeemable by a tribute. According to Sugenheim, those who held most stubbornly to the right were the Bishops of Amiens; it lasted with them till the beginning of the fifteenth century. In Scotland the right was declared redeemable by King Malcolm III, towards the end of the eleventh century; in Germany, however, it continued in force much longer. According to the archives of a Swabian cloister, Adelberg, for the year 1496, the serfs, located at Boertlingen, had to redeem the right by the bridegroom's giving a cake of salt, and the bride paying one pound seven shillings, or with a pan, "in which she can sit with her buttocks." In other places the bridegrooms had to deliver to the landlord for ransom as much cheese or butter "as their buttocks were thick and heavy." In still other places they had to give a handsome cordovan tarbouret "that they could just fill."[40] According to the accounts given by the Bavarian Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Welsch, the obligation to redeem the "jus primae noctis" existed in Bavaria as late as the eighteenth century.[41] Furthermore, Engels reports that, among the Welsh and the Scots, the "right of the first night" prevailed throughout the whole of the Middle Ages, with the difference only that, due to the continuance of the gentile organization, it was not the landlord, or his representative, but the chief of the clan, as the last representative of the one-time husbands in common, who exercised the right, in so far as it was not redeemed.

There is, accordingly, no doubt whatever that the so-called "right of the first night" existed, not only during the whole of the Middle Ages, but continued even down to modern days, and played its role under the code of feudalism. In Poland, the noblemen arrogated the right to deflower any maid they pleased, and a hundred lashes were given him who complained. That the sacrifice of maidenly honor seems even to-day a matter of course to landlords and their officials in the country, transpires, not only in Germany, oftener than one imagines, but it is a frequent occurrence all over the East and South of Europe, as is asserted by experts in countries and the peoples.

In the days of feudalism, marriage was a matter of interest to the landlord. The children that sprang therefrom entered into the same relation of subjection to him as their parents; the labor-power at his disposal increased in numbers, his income rose. Hence spiritual and temporal landlords favored marriage among their vassals. The matter lay otherwise, particularly for the Church, if, by the prevention of marriage, the prospect existed of bringing land into the possession of the Church by testamentary bequests. This, however, occurred only with the lower ranks of freemen, whose condition, due to the circumstances already mentioned, became ever more precarious, and who, listening to religious suggestions and superstition, relinquished their property to the Church in order to find protection and peace behind the walls of a cloister. Others, again, placed themselves under the protection of the Church, in consideration of the payment of duties, and the rendering of services. Frequently their descendants fell on this route a prey to the very fate which their ancestors had sought to escape. They either gradually became Church dependents, or were turned into novices for the cloisters.

The towns, which, since the eleventh century were springing up, then had at that time a lively interest in promoting the increase of population; settlement in them and marriage were made as easy as possible. The towns became especially asylums for countrymen, fleeing from unbearable oppression, and for fugitive serfs and dependents. Later, however, matters changed. So soon as the towns had acquired power, and contained a well-organized body of the trades, hostility arose against new immigrants, mostly propertyless peasants, who wanted to settle as handicraftsmen. Inconvenient competitors were scented in these. The barriers raised against immigration were multiplied. High settlement fees, expensive examinations, limitations of a trade to a certain number of masters and apprentices,—all this condemned thousands to pauperism, to a life of celibacy, and to vagabondage. When, in the course of the sixteenth century, and for reasons to be mentioned later, the flower-time of the towns was passing away, and their decline had set in, the narrow horizon of the time caused the impediments to settlement and independence to increase still more. Other circumstances also contributed their demoralizing effect.

The tyranny of the landlords increased so mightily from decade to decade that many of the vassals preferred to exchange their sorrowful life for the trade of the tramp or the highwayman,—an occupation that was greatly aided by the thick woods and the poor condition of the roads. Or, invited by the many violent disturbances of the time, they became soldiers, who sold themselves where the price was highest, or the booty seemed most promising. An extensive male and female slum-proletariat came into existence, and became a plague to the land. The Church contributed faithfully to the general depravity. Already, in the celibatic state of the priesthood there was a main-spring for the fostering of sexual excesses; these were still further promoted through the continuous intercourse kept up with Italy and Rome.

Rome was not merely the capital of Christendom, as the residence of the Papacy. True to its antecedents during the heathen days of the Empire, Rome had become the new Babel, the European High School of immorality; and the Papal court was its principal seat. With its downfall, the Roman Empire had bequeathed all its vices to Christian Europe. These vices were particularly nursed in Italy, whence, materially aided by the intercourse of the priesthood with Rome, they crowded into Germany. The uncommonly large number of priests, to a great extent vigorous men, whose sexual wants were intensified by a lazy and luxurious life, and who, through compulsory celibacy, were left to illegitimate or unnatural means of gratification, carried immorality into all circles of society. This priesthood became a sort of pest-like danger to the morals of the female sex in the towns and villages. Monasteries and nunneries—and their number was legion—were not infrequently distinguishable from public houses only in that the life led in them was more unbridled and lascivious, and in that numerous crimes, especially infanticide, could be more easily concealed, seeing that in the cloisters only they exercised the administration of justice who led in the wrong-doing. Often did peasants seek to safeguard wife and daughter from priestly seduction by accepting none as a spiritual shepherd who did not bind himself to keep a concubine;—a circumstance that led a Bishop of Constance to impose a "concubine tax" upon the priests of his diocese. Such a condition of things explains the historically attested fact, that during the Middle Ages—pictured to us by silly romanticists as so pious and moral—not less than 1500 strolling women turned up in 1414, at the Council of Constance.

But these conditions came in by no means with the decline of the Middle Ages. They began early, and gave continuous occasion for complaints and decrees. In 802 Charles the Great issued one of these, which ran this wise: "The cloisters of nuns shall be strictly watched; the nuns may not roam about; they shall be kept with great diligence; neither shall they live in strife and quarrel with one another; they shall in no wise be disobedient to their Superiors or Abbesses, or cross the will of these. Wherever they are placed under the rules of a cloister they are to observe them throughout. Not whoring, not drunkenness, not covetousness shall they be the ministrants of, but in all ways lead just and sober lives. Neither shall any man enter their cloisters, except to attend mass, and he shall immediately depart." A regulation of the year 869 provided: "If priests keep several women, or shed the blood of Christians or heathens, or break the canonical law, they shall be deprived of their priesthood, because they are worse than laymen." The fact that the possession of several women was forbidden in those days only to the priests, indicates that marriage with several wives was no rare occurrence in the ninth century. In fact, there were no laws forbidding it.

Aye, and even later, at the time of the Minnesaenger, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the possession of several wives was considered in order.[42]

The position of woman was aggravated still more by the circumstance that, along with all the impediments which gradually made marriage and settlement harder, their number materially exceeded that of the men. As special reasons herefor are to be considered the numerous wars and feuds, together with the perilousness of commercial voyages of those days. Furthermore, mortality among men was higher, as the result of habitual excesses and drunkenness. The predisposition to sickness and death that flowed from such habits of life, manifested itself strongly in the numerous pest-like diseases that raged during the Middle Ages. In the interval between 1326 to 1400, there were thirty-two; from 1400 to 1500, forty-one; and from 1500 to 1600, thirty years of pestilence.[43]

Swarms of women roamed along the highways as jugglers, singers and players in the company of strolling students and clericals; they flooded the fairs and markets; they were to be found wherever large crowds gathered, or festivals were celebrated. In the regiments of foot-soldiers they constituted separate divisions, with their own sergeants. There, and quite in keeping with the guild character of the age, they were assigned to different duties, according to looks and age; and, under severe penalties, were not allowed to prostitute themselves to any man outside of their own branch. In the camps, they had to fetch hay, straw and wood; fill up trenches and ponds; and attend to the cleaning of the place along with the baggage lads. In sieges, they had to fill up the ditches with brushwood, lumber and faggots in order to help the storming of the place. They assisted in placing the field pieces in position; and when these stuck in the bottomless roads, they had to give a hand in pulling them out again.[44]

In order to counteract somewhat the misery of this crowd of helpless women, so-called "Bettinen houses" were instituted in many cities, and placed under municipal supervision. Sheltered in these establishments, the women were held to the observance of a decent life. But neither these establishments, nor the numerous nunneries, were able to receive all that applied for succor.

The difficulties in the way of marriage; the tours undertaken by Princes, and by temporal and spiritual magnates, who with their retinues of knights and bondmen, visited the cities; even the male youth of the cities themselves, the married men not excluded, who, buoyant with life and unaffected by scruples, sought change in pleasures;—all this produced as early as in the Middle Ages the demand for prostitution. As every trade was in those days organized and regulated, and could not exist without a guild, it so was with prostitution also. In all large cities there were "houses of women"—municipal, prince or Church regalities—the net profits of which flowed into the corresponding treasuries. The women in these houses had a "head-mistress," elected by themselves, who was to keep discipline and order, and whose special duty it was to diligently watch that non-guild competitors, the "interlopers," did not injure the legitimate trade. When caught, these were condignly punished. The inmates of one of these houses for women, located in Nuerenberg, complained with the Magistrate, that "other inn-keepers also kept women, who walked the streets at night, and took in married and other men, and that these plied (the trade) to such an extent, and so much more brazenly, than they did themselves in the municipal (guild) girls-house, that it was a pity and a shame to see such things happen in this worthy city."[45] These "houses for women" enjoyed special protection; disturbances of the peace in their neighborhood were fined twice as heavily. The female guild members also had the right to take their place in the processions and festivals, at which, as is known, the guilds always assisted. Not infrequently were they also drawn in as guests at the tables of Princes and Municipal Councilmen. The "houses of women" were considered serviceable for the "protection of marriage and of the honor of the maidens,"—the identical reasoning with which State brothels were justified in Athens, and even to-day prostitution is excused. All the same, there were not wanting violent persecutions of the filles de joie, proceeding from the identical male circles who supported them with their custom and their money. The Emperor Charlemagne decreed that prostitutes shall be dragged naked to the market place and there whipped; and yet, he himself, "the Most Christian King and Emperor," had not less than six wives at a time; and neither were his daughters, who followed their father's example, by any means paragons of virtue. They prepared for him in the course of their lives many an unpleasant hour, and brought him home several illegitimate children. Alkuin, the friend and adviser of Charlemagne, warned his pupils against "the crowned doves, who flew at night over the palatinate," and he meant thereby the daughters of the Emperor.

The identical communities, that officially organized the brothel system, that took it under their protection, and that granted all manner of privileges to the "priestesses of Venus," had the hardest and most cruel punishment in reserve for the poor and forsaken Magdalen. The female infanticide, who, driven by desperation, killed the fruit of her womb, was, as a rule, sentenced to suffer the most cruel death penalty; nobody bothered about the unconscionable seducer himself. Perchance he even sat on the Judge's bench, which decreed the sentence of death upon the poor victim. The same happens to-day.[46] Likewise was adultery by the wife punished most severely; she was certain of the pillory, at least; but over the adultery of the husband the mantle of Christian charity was thrown.

In Wuerzburg, during the Middle Ages, the keeper of women swore before the Magistrate: "To be true and good to the city, and to procure women." Similarly in Nuerenberg, Ulm, Leipsic, Cologne, Frankfurt and elsewhere. In Ulm, where the "houses of women" were abolished in 1537, the guilds moved in 1551 that they be restored "in order to avoid worse disorders." Distinguished foreigners were provided with filles de joie at the expense of the city. When King Ladislaus entered Vienna in 1452, the Magistrate sent to meet him a deputation of public girls, who, clad only in light gauze, revealed the handsomest shapes. At his entry into Brugges, the Emperor Charles V was likewise greeted by a deputation of naked girls. Such occurrences met not with objection in those days.

Imaginative romancers, together with calculating people, have endeavored to represent the Middle Ages as particularly "moral," and animated with a veritable worship for woman. The period of the Minnesangers—from the twelfth to the fourteenth century—contributed in giving a color to the pretence. The knightly "Minnedienst" (service of love) which the French, Italian and German knights first became acquainted with among the Moriscos of Spain, is cited as evidence concerning the high degree of respect in which woman was held at that time. But there are several things to be kept in mind. In the first place, the knights constituted but a trifling percentage of the population, and, proportionately, the knights' women of the women in general; in the second place, only a very small portion of the knights exercised the so-called "Minnedienst;" thirdly, the true nature of this service is grossly misunderstood, or has been intentionally misrepresented. The age in which the "Minnedienst" flourished was at the same time the age of the grossest right-of-the-fist in Germany,—an age when all bonds of order were dissolved; and the knights indulged themselves without restraint in waylaying of travelers, robbery and incendiarism. Such days of brutal force are not the days in which mild and poetic sentiments are likely to prevail to any perceptible extent. The contrary is true. This period contributed to destroy whatever regard possibly existed for the female sex. The knights, both of country and town, consisted mainly of rough, dissolute fellows, whose principal passion, besides feuds and guzzling, was the unbridled gratification of sexual cravings. The chronicles of the time do not tire of telling about the deeds of rapine and violence, that the nobility was guilty of, particularly in the country, but in the cities also, where, appearing in patrician role, the nobility held in its hands the city regiment, down to the thirteenth, and partly even in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Nor did the wronged have any means of redress; in the city, the squires (yunker) controlled the judges' bench; in the country, the landlord, invested with criminal jurisdiction, was the knight, the Abbot or the Bishop. Accordingly, it is a violent exaggeration that, amid such morals and customs, the nobility and rulers had a particular respect for their wives and daughters, and carried them on their hands as a sort of higher beings, let alone that they cultivated such respect for the wives and daughters of the townsmen and peasants, for whom both the temporal and the spiritual masters entertained and proclaimed contempt only.

A very small minority of knights consisted of sincere worshippers of female beauty, but their worship was by no means Platonic; it pursued quite material ends. And these material ends were pursued by those also with whom Christian mysticism, coupled with natural sensuousness, made a unique combination. Even that harlequin among the worshippers of "lovely women," Ulrich von Lichtenstein, of laughable memory, remained Platonic only so long as he had to. At bottom the "Minnedienst" was the apotheosis of the best beloved—at the expense of the own wife; a sort of hetairism, carried over into Middle Age Christianity, as it existed in Greece at the time of Pericles. In point of fact, during the Middle Ages, the mutual seduction of one another's wives was a "Minnedienst" strongly in vogue among the knights, just the same as, in certain circles of our own bourgeoisie, similar performances are now repeated. That much for the romanticism of the Middle Ages and their regard for women.

There can be no doubt that, in the open recognition of the pleasures of the senses, there lay in that age the acknowledgment that the natural impulses, implanted in every healthy and ripe human being, are entitled to be satisfied. In so far there lay in the demonstration a victory of vigorous nature over the asceticism of Christianity. On the other hand, it must be noted that the recognition and satisfaction fell to the share of only one sex, while the other sex, on the contrary, was treated as if it could not and should not have the same impulses; the slightest transgression of the laws of morality prescribed by man, was severely punished. The narrow and limited horizon, within which moved the citizen of the Middle Ages, caused him to adopt narrow and limited measures also with respect to the position of woman. And, as a consequence of continued oppression and peculiar education, woman herself has so completely adapted herself to her master's habits and system of thought, that she finds her condition natural and proper.

Do we not know that there have been millions of slaves who found slavery natural, and never would have freed themselves, had their liberators not risen from the midst of the class of the slave-holders? Did not Prussian peasants, when, as a result of the Stein laws, they were to be freed from serfdom, petition to be left as they were, "because who was to take care of them when they fell sick?" And is it not similarly with the modern Labor Movement? How many workingmen do not allow themselves to be influenced and led without a will of their own?

The oppressed needs the stimulator and firer, because he lacks the independence and faculty for initiative. It was so with the modern proletarian movement; it is so also in the struggle for the emancipation of woman, which is intimately connected with that of the proletariat. Even in the instance of the comparatively favorably situated bourgeois of old, noble and clerical advocates broke the way open for him to conduct his battle for freedom.

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