Chapter X


THE Nordic blood disappeared in the peoples of Slav speech, just as quickly as it did in those of Romance speech. The original home of the tribes of Slav speech is put by philology along the upper and middle Dnieper. The graves of the Old Slavs from the times of the wandering of the peoples show a ruling class which is still almost purely Nordic. It may be taken that the north and west Slavs were mainly Nordic into the twelfth century. Then, however, owing to contra-selection among the warrior ruling classes, the conquest through the birth-rate by the East Baltic race among the north and west Slavs, and by the Dinaric race among the south Slavs, must have had its beginning, and soon have become definitive.1 This racial change has also made itself felt in the speech: the assertion has been made that there is an inward change in the Russian tongue towards the Finnish-Ugrian group.2

The Nordic upper classes, too, of Germanic descent, who at the disappearance of the Nordic classes of the Old Slavs, once more strengthened the Nordic blood of the peoples of Slav speech, passed away again. In the border fighting against the German tribes it was the Nordic leaders of the Slavs who fell, while the less Nordic Slav lower class, after the German recovery of the districts east of the Elbe, gradually took over the German tongue, and in the end -- in spite of the defence made through centuries by the German municipal laws against the intruding 'Slav' blood -- as it was bound to be, brought their East Baltic and Alpine blood into the body of the German people. The denordization of the peoples of Slav speech, however, even to-day has not gone so far in the districts about the Baltic as the denordization of the peoples of Romance speech, except perhaps for the northern French. It has been shown how, from the mouth of the Vistula, of the Neva, and, above all, of the Dwina, Nordic blood still goes far into the Slav districts. The establishment of the Polish State about A.D. 1000 was started from the north Polish districts, those with most Nordic blood.

It is among the peoples of Germanic speech that denordization, the loss of the Nordic element, has made least way, although outside Scandinavia it is already very perceptible. The existence of Germanic tongues in itself shows that in the regions in question not only was the Nordic blood represented by a ruling class of Nordic race, but that the Germans and the English, down to late in the Middle Ages, must have been as Nordic as only the Swedes and the Norwegians are to-day. What is found in the graves confirms this. The racial maps of Germany and England still show the roads taken by the Nordic-Germanic tribes in the times of the wandering of the peoples. The forms of settlement on the land (Map XX) still show the Germanic as also the preceding Keltic range, and the later German advance east of the Elbe. It is true that all the Germanic tribes had from their earliest times a class of the 'unfree,' partly less Nordic, partly non-Nordic, 'the foreign bondmen,' as the Edda says in one place. But everything points to the birth-rate of the free orders having been far higher than that of the others. As early as the Middle Ages, however, there began also the slow denordization of the peoples of Germanic speech. This was shown above; and so the history of Germany and England since the Middle Ages is likewise characterized by an ever-growing and, especially since the nineteenth century, ever-accelerating, intrusion of un-Nordic blood. Probably Germany and England, like North America, had so much Nordic blood in all classes down to the latest times, that it was not till our days that the covering of Nordic blood could be torn through by the victorious birth-rate of the less Nordic and un-Nordic elements. In these lands, too, the disappearance is now beginning of the leading classes, and with this comes the danger for them of that same exhaustion which fell upon Portugal, Spain, and Italy in and about the sixteenth century.

Map XX - The forms of settlement (other than towns) in Central and North-Western Europe

Germanic irregular villages (Haufendörfer) of the old Germanic areas of unbroken settlement Germanic irregular villages (Haufendörfer) of the area of the conquests in the early Middle Ages
Single homesteads of Keltic (?) origin Single homesteads of various origins
Seigniorial hamlets Round villages, mostly German foundations of the period of East German colonization (from twelfth century onwards)
One-street villages (Strassendörfer) of Slav (?) origin Settlements of Roman origin
One-street villages (with spaced houses, Reihendörfer) with marshlands on the Dutch model, partly founded by Dutch called into the land; mostly founded in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries One-street villages (with spaced houses, Reihendörfer) with woodlands; founded in the ninth to the thirteenth centuries

The Slav frontier (limes sorabicus) of the time of Charlemagne is drawn from Kiel into the Eastern Alps; the northern and the eastern frontier of Roman dominion in the first centuries A.D. is likewise drawn from the Danube to the lower Rhine. The map shows natural and tribal phenomena, and is only of subsidiary use for racial history.

The racial composition of England is worthy of special mention, for the common and wrong opinion exists about the English people that it owes its capacity to much racial mixture. But of this little is shown by English racial history; and all the evidence has gone to show that racial mixture and the disappearance of the leading class bring about the downfall of a people.

The Mediterranean race and isolated Alpine settlers in England had been driven into the south and west by the invading Kelts. The Kelts brought the first heavy invasion of the Nordic race into all the British Isles. They may have carried with them from the Continent a certain number of Alpine bondmen, whose bones then will necessarily be found earlier and oftener in certain layers of the Bronze and the Hallstatt period than Nordic bones; for the Nordic class in the European peoples of that time had already taken to body-burning. But the Alpine lower orders among the Kelts who invaded England cannot have been numerous. As the Nordic upper class, therefore, disappeared among the Kelts the aboriginal Mediterranean characteristics must have made their appearance again in the population, which now spoke Keltic dialects. A further Nordic invasion of England came about through the Anglo-Saxons. It brought with it the thorough nordicization of England. But the Anglo-Saxon states were shattered by the hard Normans. (Were they the creations of a people with a rather soft disposition? Anglo-Saxon poetry would seem to point to this.) The Normans, who, like the Anglo-Saxons, were of Nordic blood, and left behind them on the map of France for all to see the districts in Normandy with light colouring, and the strip along the coast of Brittany, became the masters of England. Their conquest was the third invasion in historical times of Nordic blood. Whatever peoples, whatever individual Viking bands may have trodden English ground -- Kelts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, Norwegian and Icelandic Vikings, Normans -- they were always predominantly Nordic peoples. It is mixture of peoples that marks English history; it was only in the south and west that a mixture of races took place from time to time, whither each new conquest by Nordic peoples had driven back the Mediterranean and Alpine men. English history is rich in movements of peoples; in movements of races it has little to show.

Down to about 1600 it was only the blond, blue-eyed, man or woman who was looked on as handsome, as was the case in the Middle Ages all over western Europe. An Elizabethan poet consoles a girl for her dark colouring: her face, he says, is pretty, although her hair is dark.3 About the same time Shakespeare, when he, whose ideal of beauty was Nordic, seems to have been in love with a dark-haired woman, wrote with a certain defiance (in his 127th Sonnet) that dark colouring, too, was beautiful, although up to then only fair colouring had been so held. The end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century can be taken, therefore, to be the period when selective choice in the middle and upper classes, too, began to be directed to dark colouring, in the skin, hair, and eyes. In the England of to-day, however, the Nordic man and woman is still deemed the better looking.

Fig. 285 - Duke of Wellington, General and Statesman, E, blue, Nordic

Fig. 286 - Lord Byron, predominantly Nordic

Fig. 287 - Falkener, Architect, Nordic

Fig. 288 - Sir Walter Scott, Nordic

Fig. 289 - Tennyson, E, blue, Nordic

Fig. 290 - Charles Dickens, H, brown, predominantly Nordic (Texture of hair un-Nordic?)

Is England to-day more Nordic than Germany? This is contested by many observers. I have been surprised to find that Beddoe, in his observations on German racial conditions, still finds in very un-Nordic districts of Germany and Switzerland a good deal of 'German' appearance in the population, and then often compares these districts with English ones. It may be concluded from this that in many districts in England denordization has already gone fairly far. Beddoe, in his article, 'Colour and Race,'4 points with alarm to the fact that the pure Nordic race is disappearing in England, too, and disappearing before a mobile dark strain.5 The Mediterranean race, therefore, seems to be increasing; it will not raise the cephalic index in England, but it will increase the dark colouring. With this a change is heralded whose effects on English power are beyond all reckoning. Alpine characters, too, seem to be making their way again in England. The Alpine admixture in England must not be underestimated. The immigration from the Continent in the last centuries has raised the average in England of the cephalic index: it was about 76 in the early Middle Ages, and to-day it is about 78. Beddoe asks himself whether the future English people will be capable of keeping that for which the true Anglo-Saxons died. According to many observations fair and tall persons would already seem to be very rare in the great English towns. Peters wrote in 1912 in the Tag: 'The healthy English strain of the time of Dickens is no more. The old fair Anglo-Saxon population of "Merry England" that worked on the land, and were the mainstay of Wellington's army and Nelson's ships, no longer exists. In its stead there is making its way more and more every year in the industrial towns a small, dark strain, in the midst of which the old aristocracy and the gentry stand out like isolated blond giants. But in the London restaurants the colouring is black from end to end. This is the "new aristocracy" from the city, the big men (but big only in the brain) who send the exchanges up and down, to keep the foreign and colonial markets in subjection. It is they who fill the fashionable restaurants to-day. There are now hardly any fair Londoners -- anyhow, one only sees them occasionally. This so-called new English aristocracy consists mainly of Jews, who often are from Germany ("German Jews").'

The English colonies in some cases do not seem to be particularly adapted for the welfare of the Nordic race. At any rate the Nordic section of the English people seems to be in course of disappearing. Its disappearance would necessarily lead to the decay and finally the fall of the British Empire. Through the destruction of the free peasant class England has dealt herself a very heavy blow. The number of blonds, which about the year 1900 in the English towns still stood to the number of those of brown colouring in the proportion 2:5, had before the Great War gone down to 1:4 in Glasgow, in Manchester to 1:5, and in London to 1:7. 'The skull of the modern twentieth-century Londoner has changed from that of the eighteenth, but it is in the direction of increased breadth and shortness, and the change is due, I believe, to admixture with the Central European or Alpine race, which in the last two centuries has been pouring into this country in ever-increasing quantities.'6 Thus Pearson's utterance in 1903 does not astonish us: 'We are ceasing as a nation to breed intelligence as we did to a hundred years ago. The mentally better stock in the nation is not reproducing itself at the same rate as it did of old; the less able and the less energetic are more fertile than the better stocks.'7 England to-day seems to have a somewhat higher proportion of Nordic blood than Germany (?), but the whole inheritance is hardly over 60 per cent.; in England, however, the proportion of racially pure Nordics seems to be still higher than it is in Germany. The predominance of Nordic blood shows itself most in certain large districts in Scotland. 'The Scotch yield a remarkable number of the leading and pioneer men in England and the colonies.'8

We are not to conclude alone from the rise of the cephalic index in England that the denordization of England is comparatively slight. The denordization shows itself in England more through the disappearance of light colouring and the lowering of the height, since the increase of the Mediterranean long-headed race cannot show itself by a rise in the cephalic index. When, therefore, the average index in England has still risen, that shows a relatively strong increase in the Alpine race. 'In Devonshire in our days a steady worsening of the physical build in general, and of the growth of the rural youth, is to be seen. The reason for this cannot alone be looked for in a deterioration of conditions, but must be looked for, above all, in the constant migration of the efficient and healthy into the towns.'9 Is it so, then, that parts of the British Isles have now lost nearly all their Nordic element? Devonshire, indeed, has always been looked on by students of race as predominantly Mediterranean.

The dangerous state of things has been recognized by thoughtful men in England. In 1901 Galton gave a warning: 'To no nation is a high human breed more necessary than to our own, for we plant our stock all over the world and lay the foundation of the dispositions and capacities of future millions of the human race.'10 The contra-selection suffered by England, too, in the Great War may make many thoughtful persons see that the questions of inheritance and race are to be looked on otherwise than they are in the clever and witty book of Chesterton, Eugenics and Other Evils (1922).

In Germany11 and in the whole German-speaking area, where, with the long-headed Nordic race, there is an admixture of three short-headed races, the loss of the Nordic element was bound (owing to the lack at the same time of any Mediterranean strain worth speaking of) to show itself much more strongly in the rise of the cephalic index. Skulls from very early graveyards (Reihengräber) in Bremen show an average index of 75.9; low Saxon skulls of to-day show an average index of about 79-80; and in south Germany, where the graveyards of the time of the wandering of the peoples likewise show a strongly predominant Nordic population, the index (on the skull) has risen to about 84-85.

At the time when Tacitus described the German tribes (in his Germania, about A.D. 98-99), they -- that is, all 'free' Germans in the German tribes -- were a Nordic people, 'pure and like themselves only' (Tacitus). The Germanic conquest of Keltic areas may then have brought a good deal of less Nordic and un-Nordic blood into the order of the 'bondfolk.' But there was hardly any mingling of the free and the bond class before the introduction of Christianity, whose teaching was likely, if not to level the racial barriers, at least to put them in danger. The medieval division into orders or estates then served to ward off foreign blood, and to dam back the blood of the lowest order, sprung from the bondfolk. Laws for the different orders, marriage rules, the guild code of honour, and social customs served the end of keeping the German blood, right down to the lowest class, predominantly Nordic. The proof of 'free' birth and 'German' forebears demanded for the obtaining of civic rights, and at admission into a guild or on marriage, was in the Middle Ages almost the same as a proof of predominantly Nordic blood. This proof in northern and central Germany was intended, above all, to shut out all 'Wendish,' that is to say, Slav blood, and through this undoubtedly the result was reached of fewer predominantly East Baltic persons being born.

Fig. 291 - Count Hermann VIII of Römhild, bronze, Peter Vischer Fig. 292 - Count Johann v. Fries, painting: the elder Lampé, German Museum, Nuremburg
Fig. 293 - Rügen, E. M. Arndt Fig. 294 - Lanz (Prignitz) Ludwig Jahn (of a Bohemian family)
Fig. 295 - Leipzig, Carus, physician and painter Fig. 296 - Copenhagen, but of Lower Saxon descent, Niebuhr, Historian

After the time of the wandering of the peoples, Slav tribes had come into the region in eastern Germany which the German tribes had left. The upper class in these Slav tribes, which had its own custom of burial in graveyards,12 is seen from the remains in the graves to have been almost pure Nordic. As late as the time when the bold pick of all the German tribes, especially of the Low Germans won back (from the twelfth century onwards) the lands east of the Elbe, it may be that the denordization of the Slavs in that region had not yet gone far. The absorption of 'Slav' blood by the German people, of a blood that must have been felt to be foreign by the medieval Germans, probably was only a slow process in the Middle Ages; this was watched over by the above-mentioned laws. As late as 1752 a cloth-weaver at Neudamm (Neumark) was turned out of his guild because his wife's grandmother was said to be of a Wendish family. The results of the medieval class division in the case of 'Wendish' blood must have repeated themselves all over Europe with reference to the blood of the lower orders; it is probable that in the German-speaking peoples persons belonging to the non-Nordic class were often hindered by law and custom from founding families. And towards foreign blood the attitude of the Middle Ages, and of later times, too, was one of defence.

Fig. 297 - Frederick the Great, E, blue, Nordic, painting: A. Graff Fig. 298 - Death-mask of Frederick the Great
Fig. 299 - Esthonia, but of Westphalian family, K. E. v. Baer, natural scientist Fig. 300 - Mecklenburg, Moltke, painting: Lenbach
Fig. 301 - Switzerland, Gottfried Keller, E, blue, Nordic-Dinaric Fig. 302 - Germany, Theodor Fontane, Nordic

The Thirty Years War is looked on by American writers13 as the main cause of the denordization of Germany. Although this war deprived the German people of perhaps two-thirds of its then population, and although probably it was the warlike Nordic men who had entered the armies, and the ranks especially of the nobility, which provided the leaders, were again thinned, I am inclined to put the beginning of a strong denordization of the German-speaking areas in a later, perhaps very late, time. Wars, indeed, in Europe have always had a denordizing effect, but the birth-rate of those classes richest in Nordic blood was down to late times probably always high enough to make good even heavy losses up to a certain point.14 The denordization of Germany probably began slowly in the Middle Ages, and was greatly hastened by the Thirty Years War, but perhaps did not gather speed and reach the strength it has to-day until the beginning of the nineteenth century -- just as the nineteenth century brought to all peoples of Germanic speech an ever-growing process of denordization.

In south Germany the coming in of Slav ('Wendish') tribes was essentially a fresh wave of predominantly Dinaric blood. In north Germany the spread of great estates and the consequent poverty of the land in village settlements must have brought with it the emigration of the independent-minded more Nordic elements into the towns, where they had fallen victims to racial decay. It is reckoned that through the mistaken land policy of the nineteenth century in the German east about 100,000 peasant homesteads have been lost. With this deep-seated change was connected, on the other hand, the spread of the East Baltics, who flourish in dependence. They found employment on the now spreading great estates, and thus attained a high birth-rate. Of the wandering Polish harvest-workers there are always some, too, who have settled in east Germany. In south Germany, as the Nordic element grew weaker, the Alpine race was able to flow in again in great strength. In Bavaria the early graveyards (Reihengräber) show (according to Kollmann), 44 per cent. of long skulls and 10 per cent. of short; the population of to-day (according to Ranke) has 83 per cent. of short-heads and 1 per cent. of long. 'The Munich of the Middle Ages, and the Munich of modern times, are at least as different from one another as, say, a south and a north German town.'15 Switzerland, it is likely, lost a very great deal of Nordic blood through its men that went to make up the trustiest troops of the armies of Europe, and often had to pay with their lives for their faithfulness, like the Swiss on whom the storm broke when the Bastille was taken at the beginning of the French Revolution.

The biologically untenable theories of the French Revolution (that is, of the Ages of Enlightenment and of Rousseau) as to the 'equality of all men' ended, as in France, by tearing down all over Europe the last barriers against race mixture. Thus began that time of unrestricted racial mingling in which we now live, and which has so hastened denordization that Schliz, within the short period 1876-98, has been able to find a clear decrease of blonds in Württemberg (Heilbronn).16

The phenomena of denordization in the German people in the nineteenth century are like those in the other peoples of Germanic speech, and will be considered below along with them.

The great predominance of the Nordic race among the great men of German history is clear to see. Here we will only refer to the portraits in the five volumes of Werckmeister's Das 19. Jahrhundert in Bildnissen (1899-1901).17

To Chapter XI

Back to Index

Footnotes for Chapter X

1 On this cp. Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, Section 20.

2 Lewy, 'Betrachtung d. Russischen,' Zeitsch. f. slaw. Philolog., Bd. ii., 1925.

3 'Let not thy blackness move thee to despair. . . . Thy face is comely, though thy brow be black' (from Bullen, More Lyrics from Elizabethan Song-Books, p. 65). Lilly's observation at the end of the sixteenth century (in Alexander and Campaspe) is also remarkable: 'Often out of dissimulation they are called handsome whom we know to be black-haired.' Cp., further, the Sonnet in Sidney's Astrophel and Stella; and the declaration of a lover about his dark beloved in Love's Labour's Lost: 'And therefore she is born to make black fair.'

4 Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1905.

5 In the forming of the word 'mob,' which is found from the seventeenth century onwards, out of the Latin mobile vulgus, has an unconscious racial insight been also at work?

6 Parsons, 'On the Long Barrow Race,' etc., Journ. Anthrop. Inst., Bd. li., 1921.

7 'The Laws of Inheritance,' Biometrica, vol. iii., 1903.

8 Beddoe, 'Die Rassengesch. d. brit. Inseln,' Polit.-anthrop. Revue, Bd. iii., 1904.

9 Cp. Zeitschr. f. ärztl. Fortbildung, No. 4, 1926.

10 The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed, 1901 (reprinted in Essays in Eugenics, 1909).

11 Since the racial history of Germany has been gone into in the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, only a few short data are given here.

12 The custom of burial in graveyards (Reihengräber) had been taken over from the Germans.

13 So by Grant and Stoddard, who will be mentioned in the next chapter.

14 In investigating movements in a population too much stress is generally laid on immigration, foreign armies marching through, and the like, and much too little on the birth-rates for the several classes.

15 Francé, München, 1920.

16 'Eine Schulkinderuntersuchung,' etc., Arch. f. Anthrop., Bd. xxvii., 1901.

17 Cp., too, the portraits of great Germans in my Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (chaps. v. and xxii.).