By Ramachandra Guha
'Inside each considering there's a Gandhian and a Marxist suffering for supremacy', says Ramachandra Guha within the starting sentence of this splendidly readable ebook of rules, evaluations and reflections. a considerable part of the ebook expands in this salvo: it analyses Gandhians and psuedo-Gandhians, Marxists and anti-Marxists, Nehruvians and anti-secularists, democrats and Stalinists, scientists and historians, environmentalists and cricketers - in brief all those that include the highbrow lifetime of pondering Indians at the present time.
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The Capitularies are chiefly administrative ordinances; the “law of the land,” which is the same everywhere and for all persons, is an ideal to be realised in England alone of medieval states. Elsewhere the king’s law is a supplement, a postscript; the privilege of the free man is to live under the law of his province, his lord’s fief or his free city. In local administration the king relies, outside the tribal duchies, on counts whose districts are subdivisions of the old national provinces. The count, often a hereditary official, is a royal deputy for all purposes, military and civil.
Contemporaries identified them with the Huns of Attila, and the resemblance was more than superficial. The Hungarians were of the Tartar race - nomads who lived by hunting and war, skilled in horsemanship and archery, utterly barbarous and a byeword for cruelty. The rapidity of their movements, and the distances to which their raids extended, are almost incredible. In 899 they swept through the Ostmark and reached the Lombard plain; in 915 they sacked Bremen; in 919 they harried the whole of Saxony and penetrated the old Middle Kingdom; in 926 they went into Tuscany and appeared in the neighbourhood of Rome; in 937 they even reached the walls of Capua.
All of these, laymen and churchmen alike, are bound to perform more or less specific services in return for their lands; the most important is military service, with a definite quota of knights, which they usually render at their own charge; but they are also liable to pay aids (auxilia) of money in certain contingencies, to appear regularly at the King’s council and to sit as assessors in his law court. They hold their lands in fact upon a contract; but the precise obligations named in this contract do not exhaust their relation to the King.
Anthropologist Among the Marxists: And Other Essays by Ramachandra Guha