Front Page Titles (by Subject) LECTURE VIII.: GENERAL STATE OF EUROPE FROM THE TWELFTH TO THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY—THE CRUSADES. * - General History of Civilization in Europe
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
LECTURE VIII.: GENERAL STATE OF EUROPE FROM THE TWELFTH TO THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY—THE CRUSADES. * - François Guizot, General History of Civilization in Europe 
General History of Civilization in Europe by François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, edited, with critical and supplementary notes, by George Wells Knight (New York: D Appleton and Co., 1896).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
GENERAL STATE OF EUROPE FROM THE TWELFTH TO THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY—THE CRUSADES.*
I have not yet laid before you the whole plan of my course. I began by pointing out its object, and I then went straight forward, without taking any comprehensive view of European civilization, and without indicating at once its starting-point, its path, and its goal,—its beginning, middle, and end. We have now, however, arrived at a period when this comprehensive view, this general outline, of the world through which we travel, becomes necessary. The times which have hitherto been the subject of our study, are explained in some measure by themselves, or by clear and immediate results. The times into which we are about to enter can neither be understood nor excite any strong interest, unless we connect them with their most indirect and remote consequences. In an inquiry of such vast extent, a time arrives when we can no longer submit to go forward with a dark and unknown path before us; when we desire to know not only whence we have come and where we are, but whither we are going. This is now the case with us. The period which we approach cannot be understood, or its importance appreciated, unless by means of the relations which connect it with modern times. Its true spirit has been revealed only by the lapse of many subsequent ages.
We are in possession of almost all the essential elements of European civilization. I say almost all, because I have not yet said anything on the subject of monarchy. The crisis which decidedly developed the monarchical principle, hardly took place before the twelfth or even the thirteenth century. It was then only that the institution of monarchy was really established, and began to occupy a definite place in modern society. It is on this account that I have not sooner entered on the subject. With this exception we possess, I repeat, all the great elements of European society. You have seen the origin of the feudal aristocracy, the Church, and the municipalities; you have observed the institutions which would naturally correspond with these facts; and not only the institutions, but the principles and ideas which those facts naturally give rise to. Thus, with reference to feudalism, you have watched the origin of modern domestic life; you have comprehended, in all its energy, the feeling of personal independence, and the place which it must have occupied in our civilization. With reference to the Church, you have observed the appearance of the purely religious form of society, its relations with civil society, the principle of theocracy, the separation between the spiritual and temporal powers, the first blows of persecution, the first cries of liberty of conscience. The infant municipalities have given you a view of a social union founded on principles quite different from those of feudalism; the diversity of the classes of society, their contests with each other, the first and strongly marked features of the manners of the modern inhabitants of towns; timidity of judgment combined with energy of soul, proneness to be excited by demagogues joined to a spirit of obedience to legal authority; all the elements, in short, which have concurred in the formation of European society have already come under your observation.
Let us now transport ourselves into the heart of modern Europe; I do not mean Europe of the present day, after the prodigious metamorphoses we have witnessed, but of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. What an immense difference! I have already insisted on this difference with reference to communities; I have endeavored to show you how little resemblance there is between the burgesses of the eighteenth century and those of the twelfth. Make the same experiment on feudalism and the Church, and you will be struck with a similar metamorphosis. There was no more resemblance between the nobility of the court of Louis XV and the feudal aristocracy, or between the Church in the days of Cardinal de Bernis and those of the Abbé Suger, than there is between the burgesses of the eighteenth century and the same class in the twelfth. Between these two periods, though society had already acquired all its elements, it underwent a total transformation.
I am now desirous to trace clearly the general and essential character of this transformation.
From the fifth century, society contained all that I have already found and described as belonging to it,—kings, a lay aristocracy, a clergy, burghers, husbandmen, civil and religious authorities; the germs, in short, of every thing necessary to form a nation and a government; and yet there was no government, no nation. In all the period that has occupied our attention, there was no such thing as a people, properly so called, or a government, in the modern acceptation of the word. We have fallen in with a number of particular forces, special facts, and local institutions; but nothing general, nothing public, nothing political, nothing, in short, like real nationality.
Let us, on the other hand, survey Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: we everywhere see two great objects make their appearance on the stage of the world,—the government and the people. The influence of a general power over an entire country, and the influence of the country in the power which governs it, are the materials of history; the relations between these great forces, their alliances or their contests, are the subjects of its narration. The nobility, the clergy, the citizens, all these different classes and particular powers are thrown into the background, and effaced, as it were, by these two great objects, the people and its government.
This, if I am not deceived, is the essential feature which distinguishes modern Europe from the Europe of the early ages; and this was the change which was accomplished between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century.
It is, then, in the period from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, into which we are about to enter, that we must endeavor to find the cause of this change. It is the distinctive character of this period, that it was employed in changing Europe from its primitive to its modern state; and hence arise its importance and historical interest. If we did not consider it under this point of view, if we did not endeavor to discover the events which arose out of this period, not only we should never be able to comprehend it, but we should soon become weary of the inquiry.
Viewed in itself and apart from its results, it is a period without character, a period in which confusion went on increasing without apparent causes, a period of movement without direction, of agitation without result; a period when monarchy, nobility, clergy, citizens, all the elements of social order, seemed to turn round in the same circle, incapable alike of progression and of rest. Experiments of all kinds were made and failed; endeavors were made to establish governments and lay the foundations of public liberty; reforms in religion were even attempted; but nothing was accomplished or came to any result. If ever the human race seemed destined to be always agitated, and yet always stationary, condemned to unceasing and yet barren labors, it was from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century that this was the complexion of its condition and history.
I am acquainted only with one work in which this appearance of the period in question is faithfully described; I allude to M. de Barante’s History of the Dukes of Burgundy.* I do not speak of the fidelity of his pictures of manners and narratives of adventures, but of that general fidelity which renders the work an exact image, a true mirror of the whole period, of which it at the same time displays both the agitation and the monotony.
Considered, on the contrary, in relation to what has succeeded it, as the transition from Europe in its primitive, to Europe in its modern state, this period assumes a more distinct and animated aspect; we discover in it a unity of design, a movement in one direction, a progression; and its unity and interest are found to reside in the slow and hidden labor accomplished in the course of its duration.
The history of European civilization, then, may be thrown into three great periods: first, a period which I shall call that of origin, or formation; during which the different elements of society disengage themselves from chaos, assume an existence, and show themselves in their native forms, with the principles by which they are animated; this period lasted almost to the twelfth century. The second period is a period of experiments, attempts, groping; the different elements of society approach and enter into combination, feeling each other, as it were, but without producing anything general, regular, or durable; this state of things, to say the truth, did not terminate till the sixteenth century. Then comes the third period, or the period of development, in which human society in Europe takes a definite form, follows a determinate direction, proceeds rapidly and with a general movement, towards a clear and precise object; this is the period which began in the sixteenth century, and is now pursuing its course.*
Such appears, on a general view, to be the aspect of European civilization. We are now about to enter into the second of the above periods; and we have to inquire what were the great and critical events which occurred during its course, and were the determining causes of the social transformation that was its result.
The first great event which presents itself to our view, and which opened, so to speak, the period we are speaking of, was the crusades. They began at the end of the eleventh century, and lasted during the twelfth and thirteenth. It was indeed a great event; for, since its occurrence, it has never ceased to occupy the attention of philosophical historians, who have shown themselves aware of its influence in changing the conditions of nations, and of the necessity of its study in order to comprehend the general course of facts.
The first character of the crusades is their universality; all Europe concurred in them; they were the first European event. Before the crusades, Europe had never been moved by the same sentiment, or acted in a common cause; till then, in fact, Europe did not exist. The crusades made manifest the existence of Christian Europe. The French formed the main body of the first army of crusaders; but there were also Germans, Italians, Spaniards, and English. But look at the second and third crusades, and we find all the nations of Christendom engaged in them. The world had never before witnessed a similar combination.
But this is not all. In the same manner as the crusades were a European event, so, in each separate nation, they were a national event. In every nation, all classes of society were animated with the same impression, yielded to the same idea, and abandoned themselves to the same impulse. Kings, nobles, priests, burghers, country people, all took the same interest and the same share in the crusades. The moral unity of nations was thus made manifest; a fact as new as the unity of Europe.
When such events take place in what may be called the youth of nations; in periods when they act spontaneously, freely, without premeditation or political design, we recognize what history calls heroic events, the heroic ages of nations. The crusades were the heroic event of modern Europe; a movement at the same time individual and general; national, and yet not under political direction.
That this was really their primitive character is proved by every fact, and every document. Who were the first crusaders? Bands of people who set out under the conduct of Peter the Hermit, without preparations, guides, or leaders, followed rather than led by a few obscure knights, traversed Germany and the Greek empire, and were dispersed, or perished, in Asia Minor.
The higher class, the feudal nobility, next put themselves in motion for the crusade. Under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon, the nobles and their men departed full of ardor. When they had traversed Asia Minor, the leaders of the crusaders were seized with a fit of lukewarmness and fatigue. They became indifferent about continuing their course; they were inclined rather to look to their own interest, to make conquests and possess them. The mass of the army, however, rose up, and insisted on marching to Jerusalem, the deliverance of the holy city being the object of the crusade. It was not to gain principalities for Raymond of Toulouse, or for Bohemond, or any other leader, that the crusaders had taken arms. The popular, national, European impulse overcame all the intentions of individuals; and the leaders had not sufficient ascendancy over the masses to make them yield to their personal interests.
The sovereigns, who had been strangers to the first crusade, were now drawn into the general movement as the people had been. The great crusades of the twelfth century were commanded by kings.
I now go at once to the end of the thirteenth century. A great deal was still said in Europe about crusades, and they were even preached with ardor. The popes excited the sovereigns and the people; councils were held to recommend the conquest of the holy land; but no expeditions of any importance were now undertaken for this purpose, and it was regarded with general indifference. Something had entered into the spirit of European society which put an end to the crusades. Some private expeditions still took place; some nobles and some bands of troops still continued to depart for Jerusalem; but the general movement was evidently arrested. Neither the necessity, however, nor the facility of continuing it, seemed to have ceased. The Moslems triumphed more and more in Asia. The Christian kingdom founded at Jerusalem had fallen into their hands. It still appeared necessary to regain it; and the means of success were greater than at the commencement of the crusades. A great number of Christians were established and still powerful in Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. The proper means of transport, and of carrying on the war, were better known. Still, nothing could revive the spirit of the crusades. It is evident that the two great forces of society—the sovereigns on the one hand, and the people on the other—no longer desired their continuance.
It has been often said that Europe was weary of these constant inroads upon Asia. We must come to an understanding as to the meaning of the word weariness, frequently used on such occasions. It is exceedingly inexact. It is not true that generations of mankind can be weary of what has not been done by themselves; that they can be wearied by the fatigues of their fathers. Weariness is personal; it cannot be transmitted like an inheritance. The people of the thirteenth century were not weary of the crusades of the twelfth; they were influenced by a different cause. A great change had taken place in opinions, sentiments, and social relations. There were no longer the same wants, or the same desires: the people no longer believed, or wished to believe, in the same things. It is by these moral or political changes, and not by weariness, that the differences in the conduct of successive generations can be explained. The pretended weariness ascribed to them is a metaphor wholly destitute of truth.
Two great causes, the one moral, the other social, impelled Europe into the crusades. The moral cause, as you are aware, was the impulse of religious feeling and belief. From the end of the seventh century, Christianity maintained a constant struggle against Mohammedanism. It had overcome Mohammedanism in Europe, after having been threatened with great danger from it;* and had succeeded in confining it to Spain. Even from thence the expulsion of Mohammedanism was constantly attempted. The crusades have been represented as a sort of accident, an unforeseen event, sprung from the recitals of pilgrims returned from Jerusalem, and the preaching of Peter the Hermit.† They were nothing of the kind. The crusades were the continuation, the height of the great struggle which had subsisted for four centuries between Christianity and Mohammedanism. The theatre of this contest had hitherto been in Europe; it was now transported into Asia. If I had attached any value to those comparisons, those parallels, into which historical facts are sometimes made willing or unwillingly to enter, I might show you Christianity running exactly the same course, and undergoing the same destiny in Asia, as Mohammedanism in Europe. Mohammedanism established itself in Spain, where it conquered, founded a kingdom and various principalities. The Christians did the same thing in Asia. They were there in regard to the Mohammedans, in the same situation as the Mohammedans in Spain with regard to the Christians. The kingdom of Jerusalem corresponds with the kingdom of Granada: but these similitudes, after all, are of little importance. The great fact was the struggle between the two religious and social systems: the crusades were its principal crisis. This is their historical character; the chain which connects them with the general course of events.
Another cause, the social state of Europe in the eleventh century, equally contributed to the breaking out of the crusades. I have been careful to explain why, from the fifth to the eleventh century, there was no such thing as generality in Europe; I have endeavored to show how every thing had assumed a local character; how states, existing institutions, and opinions, were confined within very narrow bounds: it was then that the feudal system prevailed. After the lapse of some time, such a narrow horizon was no longer sufficient; human thought and activity aspired to pass beyond the narrow sphere in which they were confined. The people no longer led their former wandering life, but had not lost the taste for its movement and its adventures; they threw themselves into the crusades as into a new state of existence, in which they were more at large, and enjoyed more variety; which reminded them of the freedom of former barbarism, while it opened boundless prospects for the future.
These were, in my opinion, the two determining causes of the crusades in the twelfth century.* At the end of the thirteenth, neither of these causes continued to exist. Mankind and society were so greatly changed, that neither the moral nor the social incitements which had impelled Europe upon Asia were felt any longer. I do not know whether many of you have read the original historians of the crusades, or have ever thought of comparing the contemporary chroniclers of the first crusades with those of the end of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; for example, Albert d’Aix, Robert the Monk, and Raynard d’Argile, who were engaged in the first crusade, with William of Tyre and James de Vitry.* When we compare these two classes of writers, it is impossible not to be struck with the distance between them. The first are animated chroniclers, whose imagination is excited, and who relate the events of the crusade with passion: but they are narrowminded in the extreme, without an idea beyond the little sphere in which they lived; ignorant of every science, full of prejudices, incapable of forming an opinion on what was passing around them, or the events which were the subject of their narratives. But open, on the other hand, the history of the crusades by William of Tyre, and you will be surprised to find almost a modern historian; a cultivated, enlarged, and liberal mind, great political intelligence, general views and opinions upon causes and effects. James de Vitry is an example of another species of cultivation; he is a man of learning, who does not confine himself to what immediately concerns the crusades, but describes the state of manners, the geography, the religion, and natural history of the country to which his history relates. There is, in short, an immense distance between the historians feature of the penitential system of the Church. The crusades were vast pilgrimages, the undertaking of which would count for the future salvation of the crusaders. See Adams, p. 264. of the first and of the last crusades; a distance which manifests an actual revolution in the state of the human mind.
This revolution is most conspicuous in the manner in which these two classes of writers speak of the Mohammedans. To the first chroniclers,—and consequently to the first crusaders, of whose sentiments the first chroniclers are merely the organs,—the Mohammedans are only an object of hatred; it is clear that those who speak of them do not know them, form no judgment respecting them, nor consider them except from the point of view of the religious hostility which exists between them. No vestige of social relation is discoverable between them and the Mohammedans: they detest them, and fight with them; and nothing more. William of Tyre, James de Vitry, Bernard le Trésorier, speak of the Mussulmans quite differently. We see that, even while fighting with them, they no longer regard them as monsters; that they have entered to a certain extent into their ideas, that they have lived with them, and that certain social relations, and even a sort of sympathy, have arisen between them. William of Tyre pronounces a glowing eulogium on Noureddin and Bernard le Trésorier on Saladin. They sometimes even go the length of placing the manners and conduct of the Mussulmans in opposition to those of the Christians; they adopt the manners and sentiments of the Mussulmans in order to satirize the Christians, in the same manner as Tacitus delineated the manners of the Germans in contrast with those of Rome. You see, then, what an immense change must have taken place between these two periods, when you find in the latter, in regard to the very enemies of the Christians, the very people against whom the crusades were directed, an impartiality of judgment which would have filled the first crusaders with surprise and horror.
The principal effect, then, of the crusades was a great step towards the emancipation of the mind, a great progress towards enlarged and liberal ideas. Though begun under the name and influence of religious belief, the crusades deprived religious ideas, I shall not say of their legitimate share of influence, but of their exclusive and despotic possession of the human mind. This result, though undoubtedly unforeseen, arose from various causes. The first was evidently the novelty, extent, and variety of the scene which displayed itself to the crusaders; what generally happens to travellers happened to them. It is mere common-place to say, that travelling gives freedom to the mind; that the habit of observing different nations, different manners, and different opinions, enlarges the ideas, and disengages the judgment from old prejudices. The same thing happened to those nations of travellers who have been called the crusaders; their minds were opened and raised by having seen a multitude of different things, by having become acquainted with other manners than their own. They found themselves also placed in connection with two states of civilization, not only different from their own, but more advanced—the Greek state of society on the one hand, and the Mussulman on the other. There is no doubt that the society of the Greeks, though enervated, perverted, and decaying, gave the crusaders the impression of something more advanced, polished, and enlightened than their own. The society of the Mussulmans presented them a scene of the same kind. It is curious to observe in the chronicles the impression made by the crusaders on the Mussulmans, who regarded them at first as the most brutal, ferocious, and stupid barbarians they had ever seen. The crusaders, on their part, were struck with the riches and elegance of manners which they observed among the Mussulmans. These first impressions were succeeded by frequent relations between the Mussulmans and Christians. These became more extensive and important than is commonly believed. Not only had the Christians of the East habitual relations with the Mussulmans, but the people of the East and the West became acquainted with, visited, and mingled with each other. It is but lately that one of those learned men who do honor to France in the eyes of Europe, M. Abel Rémusat, has discovered the relations which subsisted between the Mongol emperors and the Christian kings. Mongol ambassadors were sent to the kings of the Franks, and to St. Louis among others, in order to persuade them to enter into alliance, and to resume the crusades for the common interest of the Mongols and the Christians against the Turks. And not only were diplomatic and official relations thus established between the sovereigns, but there was much and various intercourse between the nations of the East and West. I shall quote the words of M. Abel Rémusat:* —
You see, then, what a vast and unexplored world was laid open to the view of European intelligence by the consequences of the crusades. It cannot be doubted that the impulse which led to them was one of the most powerful causes of the development and freedom of mind which arose out of that great event.
There is another circumstance which is worthy of notice. Down to the time of the crusades, the court of Rome, the center of the Church, had been very little in communication with the laity, unless through the medium of ecclesiastics; either legates sent by the court of Rome, or the whole body of the bishops and clergy. There were always some laymen in direct relation with Rome; but upon the whole, it was by means of churchmen that Rome had any communication with the people of different countries. During the crusades, on the contrary, Rome became a halting-place for a great portion of the crusaders, either in going or returning. A multitude of laymen were spectators of its policy and its manners, and were able to discover the share which personal interest had in religious disputes. There is no doubt that this newly-acquired knowledge inspired many minds with a boldness hitherto unknown.
When we consider the state of the general mind at the termination of the crusades, especially in regard to ecclesiastical matters, we cannot fail to be struck with a singular fact: religious notions underwent no change, and were not replaced by contrary or even different opinions. Thought, notwithstanding, had become more free; religious creeds were not the only subject on which the human mind exercised its faculties; without abandoning them, it began occasionally to wander from them, and to take other directions. Thus, at the end of the thirteenth century, the moral cause which had led to the crusades, or which, at least, had been their most energetic principle, had disappeared; the moral state of Europe had undergone an essential modification.
The social state of society had undergone an analogous change. Many inquiries have been made as to the influence of the crusades in this respect; it has been shown in what manner they had reduced a great number of feudal proprietors to the necessity of selling their fiefs to the kings, or to sell their privileges to the communities, in order to raise money for the crusades. It has been shown that, in consequence of their absence, many of the nobles lost a great portion of their power. Without entering into the details of this question, we may collect into a few general facts the influence of the crusades on the social state of Europe.
They greatly diminished the number of petty fiefs, petty domains, and petty proprietors; they concentrated property and power in a smaller number of hands. It is from the time of the crusades that we may observe the formation and growth of great fiefs—the existence of feudal power on a large scale.*
I have often regretted that there was not a map of France divided into fiefs, as we have a map of France divided into departments, arrondissements, cantons and communes, in which all the fiefs were marked, with their boundaries, relations with each other, and successive changes. If we could have compared, by the help of such maps, the state of France before and after the crusades, we should have seen how many small fiefs had disappeared, and to what extent the greater ones had increased. This was one of the most important results of the crusades.
Even in those cases where small proprietors preserved their fiefs, they did not live upon them in such an isolated state as formerly. The possessors of great fiefs became so many centers around which the smaller ones were gathered, and near which they came to live. During the crusades, small proprietors found it necessary to place themselves in the train of some rich and powerful chief, from whom they received assistance and support. They lived with him, shared his fortune, and passed through the same adventures that he did. When the crusaders returned home, this social spirit, this habit of living in intercourse with superiors continued to subsist, and had its influence on the manners of the age. As we see that the great fiefs were increased after the crusades, so we see, also, that the proprietors of these fiefs held, within their castles, a much more considerable court than before, and were surrounded by a greater number of gentlemen, who preserved their little domains, but no longer kept within them.
The extension of the great fiefs, and the creation of a number of central points in society, in place of the general dispersion which previously existed, were the two principal effects of the crusades, considered with respect to their influence upon feudalism.
As to the inhabitants of the towns, a result of the same nature may easily be perceived. The crusades created great civic communities. Petty commerce and petty industry were not sufficient to give rise to communities such as the great cities of Italy and Flanders. It was commerce on a great scale—maritime commerce, and, especially, the commerce of the East and West, which gave them birth; now it was the crusades which gave to maritime commerce the greatest impulse it had yet received.*
On the whole, when we survey the state of society at the end of the crusades, we find that the movement tending to dissolution and dispersion, the movement of universal localization (if I may be allowed such an expression), had ceased, and had been succeeded by a movement in the contrary direction, a movement of centralization. All things tended to mutual approximation; small things were absorbed in great ones, or gathered round them. Such was the direction then taken by the progress of society.
You now understand why, at the end of the thirteenth and in the fourteenth century, neither nations nor sovereigns wished to have any more crusades. They neither needed nor desired them; they had been thrown into them by the impulses of religious spirit, and the exclusive dominion of religious ideas; but this dominion had now lost its energy. They had also sought in the crusades a new way of life, of a less confined and more varied description; but they began to find this in Europe itself, in the progress of the social relations. It was at this time that kings began to see the road to political aggrandizement. Why go to Asia in search of kingdoms, when there were kingdoms to conquer at their very doors? Philip Augustus embarked in the crusade very unwillingly; and what could be more natural? His desire was to make himself King of France. It was the same thing with the people. The road to wealth was open to them; and they gave up adventures for industry. Adventures were replaced, for sovereigns, by political projects; for the people, by industry on a large scale. One class only of society still had a taste for adventure; that portion of the feudal nobility, who, not being in a condition to think of political aggrandizement, and not being disposed to industry, retained their former situation and manners. This class, accordingly, continued to embark in crusades, and endeavored to renew them.
Such, in my opinion, are the real effects of the crusades;* on the one hand the extension of ideas and the emancipation of thought; on the other, a general enlargement of the social sphere, and the opening of a wider field for every sort of activity: they produced, at the same time, more individual freedom and more political unity. They tended to the independence of man and the centralization of society. Many inquiries have been made respecting the means of civilization which were directly imported from the East. It has been said that the largest part of the great discoveries which, in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, contributed to the progress of European civilization—such as the compass, printing, and gunpowder—were known in the East, and that the crusaders brought them into Europe. This is true to a certain extent; though some of these assertions may be disputed. But what cannot be disputed is this influence, this general effect of the crusades upon the human mind on the one hand, and the state of society on the other. They drew society out of a very narrow road, to throw it into new and infinitely broader paths; they began that transformation of the various elements of European society into governments and nations, which is the characteristic of modern civilization. The same period witnessed the development of one of those institutions which has most powerfully contributed to this great result—monarchy; the history of which, from the birth of the modern states of Europe to the thirteenth century, will form the subject of our next lecture.*
[* ] On the history of the crusades the following may be consulted: Cox, The Crusades; Michaud, History of the Crusades; Gray, The Children’s Crusade; Pears, The Fall of Constantinople; Von Sybel, The History and Literature of the Crusades; Mombert, A Short History of the Crusades.
[* ] A. G. P. de Barante, Histoire des Dues de Bourgogne de la Maison de Valois, 1364-1477. This work, in eight volumes, has never been translated into English. Other and later works dwell on the same facts. The turbulence noted was not mere disorder, but was in large part a struggle for the realization of better ideals and forms.
[* ] In the third period society utilized and gave definiteness and form to what had been begun in the second. In this sense the second period did produce something “durable”; it laid the foundations of modern government and society.
[* ] By the victory of Charles Martel at the battle of Tours (732).
[† ] Later scholarship has proved the stories of the visions and sufferings of Peter the Hermit to have been the invention of a later age. The pope, not Peter the Hermit, was the moving influence towards the first crusade. It is doubtful if the latter was in the Holy Land before the first crusade.
[* ] One should remember, also, as a possible additional cause, that pilgrimages were a Christian duty, and a recognized
[* ] The chronicles of William of Tyre and James de Vitry are of the highest value for the thorough study of this period.
[* ] Mémoires sur les Relations Politiques des Princes Chrétiens avec les Empereurs Mongols. Deuxième Mémoire, pp. 154, 157.
“Many men of religious orders, Italians, French, and Flemings, were charged with diplomatic missions to the court of the Great Khan. Mongols of distinction came to Rome, Barcelona, Valentia, Lyons, Paris, London, and Northampton; and a Franciscan of the kingdom of Naples was archbishop of Pekin. His successor was a professor of theology in the university of Paris. But how many other people followed in the train of those personages, either as slaves, or attracted by the desire of profit, or led by curiosity into regions hitherto unknown! Chance has preserved the names of some of these. The first envoy who visited the King of Hungary on the part of the Tartars was an Englishman, who had been banished from his country for certain crimes, and who, after having wandered over Asia, at last entered into the service of the Mongols. A Flemish friar, in the heart of Tartary, fell in with a woman of Metz, called Paquette, who had been carried off into Hungary; a Parisian goldsmith and a young man from the neighborhood of Rouen, who had been at the taking of Belgrade. In the same country he fell in also with Russians, Hungarians, and Flemings. A singer, called Robert, after having travelled through Eastern Asia, returned to end his days in the cathedral of Chartres. A Tartar was a furnisher of helmets in the armies of Philip the Fair. Jean de Plancarpin fell in, near Gayouk, with a Russian gentleman whom he calls Temer, and who acted as an interpreter; and many merchants of Breslau, Poland, and Austria, accompanied him in his journey into Tartary. Others returned with him through Russia; they were Genoese, Pisans, and Venetians. Two Venetians, merchants, whom chance had brought to Bokhara, followed a Mongol ambassador, sent by Houlagou to Khoubilaī. They remained many years in China and Tartary, returned with letters from the Great Khan to the pope, and afterwards went back to the Khan, taking with them the son of one of their number, the celebrated Marco Polo, and once more left the court of Khoubilaī to return to Venice. Travels of this nature were not less frequent in the following century. Of this number are those of John Mandeville, an English physician; Oderic de Frioul, Pegoletti, Guilleaume de Bouldeselle, and several others. It may well be supposed, that those travels of which the memory is preserved, form but a small part of those which were undertaken, and there were in those days many more people who were able to perform those long journeys than to write accounts of them. Many of those adventurers must have remained and died in the countries they went to visit. Others returned home, as obscure as before, but having their imagination full of the things they had seen, relating them to their families, with much exaggeration no doubt, but leaving behind them, among many ridiculous fables, useful recollections and traditions capable of bearing fruit. Thus, in Germany, Italy, and France, in the monasteries, among the nobility, and even down to the lowest classes of society, there were deposited many precious seeds destined to bud at a somewhat later period. All these unknown travellers, carrying the arts of their own country into distant regions, brought back other pieces of knowledge not less precious, and, without being aware of it, made exchanges more advantageous than those of commerce. By these means, not only the traffic in the silks, porcelain, and other commodities of Hindostan, became more extensive and practicable, and new paths were opened to commercial industry and enterprise; but, what was more valuable still, foreign manners, unknown nations, extraordinary productions, presented themselves in abundance to the minds of the Europeans, which, since the fall of the Roman empire, had been confined within too narrow a circle. Men began to attach some importance to the most beautiful, the most populous, and the most anciently civilized of the four quarters of the world. They began to study the arts, the religions, the languages, of the nations by whom it was inhabited; and there was even an intention of establishing a professorship of the Tartar language in the university of Paris. The accounts of travellers, strange and exaggerated, indeed, but soon discussed and cleared up, diffused more correct and varied notions of those distant regions. The world seemed to open, as it were, towards the East; geography made an immense stride; and ardor for discovery became the new form assumed by European spirit of adventure. The idea of another hemisphere, when our own came to be better known, no longer seemed an improbable paradox, and it was when in search of the Zipangri of Marco Polo that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.”
[* ] More exact would it be to say that the feudal barons as a class lost their importance as a political factor. Feudalism as a system did not long survive the crusades. The king, on the one hand, notably in France, and the people—the Third Estate—on the other, succeeded to the feudal power. The crusades re-enforced the influence of the cities in breaking down feudalism.
[* ] Probably the greatest direct effect of the crusades was the stimulation given to commerce, through the knowledge they brought to Europe of Oriental and other products. With the knowledge came the desire to possess. The cities of Italy date their commercial importance from this time. They retained it until the discovery of oceanic routes to the Orient carried the stream of commerce away from the Mediterranean.
[* ] One of the outgrowths of the crusades is worthy of note here. Between the first and second crusades were formed in the Holy Land three great military orders: the Knights of St. John or of the Hospital, the Knights of the Temple, and the Teutonic Knights. The first was organized to care for and defend sick and wounded pilgrims; the second, to defend the pilgrims to the Holy Land; the third, to succor German pilgrims. Their services to Christianity made them the recipients of large estates, and other wealth, to be used for the purposes of the order. After the era of the crusades they established themselves in Europe, where they obtained great wealth and influence. See Woodhouse, Military Religious Orders of the Middle Ages.
[* ] The following chronological table may serve to put before the student’s eye a connected outline of the principal facts. Eight crusades are enumerated.
First Crusade—ad 1096-1099. Urban II, Pope.
Interval, 1100-1147. Baldwin I succeeds his brother Godfrey as king of Jerusalem. A new army of crusaders destroyed by the Saracens in Asia Minor, and the remnant of the first army cut to pieces at Rama. Acre (Ptolemais), Berytus, and Sidon taken. Later, the Christian army unsuccessful; Edessa taken by the Turks in 1144; continued ill success of the Christians leads to a new crusade.
Second Crusade—1147-1149. Eugene III, Pope.
Leaders of this expedition, Conrad III, emperor of Germany, and Louis VII, king of France, who set out separately on their march. Both armies destroyed in Asia Minor by famine and the sword. The fugitives assemble at Jerusalem. Conrad, Louis, and Baldwin III, king of Jerusalem, lay siege to Damascus; the enterprise fails; Conrad and Louis return to Europe.
Interval, 1149-1189. Saladin takes possession of Egypt and founds a dynasty in 1175. Makes war upon the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem; defeats Guy of Lusignan at the battle of Tiberias; Guy taken prisoner; Acre and Jerusalem taken (1187). Conrad of Montferrat lays claim to the crown of Jerusalem, and rallies the remains of the Christian forces at Tyre.
Third Crusade—1189-1192. Clement III, Pope.
Leaders, Frederick I (Barbarossa), emperor of Germany, Philip Augustus, king of France, and Richard I, of England.
Frederick departs first with an army of 100,000 men, which is entirely destroyed in Asia Minor. The emperor himself is drowned in Cilicia, 1190. His son Frederick of Swabia afterwards killed at Acre.
Fourth Crusade—1202-1204. Innocent III, Pope.
Leaders, Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders; Boniface II, Marquis of Montferrat; Henry Dandolo, Doge of Venice, and others. The kings of Europe could not be aroused to engage in this crusade, notwithstanding all the urgency of the Holy See. The chief command was conferred by the crusaders on Boniface of Montferrat. This expedition, however, never reached the Holy Land, but engaged in putting down a usurpation at Constantinople, which finally led to the taking and plundering of that city by the crusaders, and the division of the empire among the conquerors, of whom Baldwin was raised to the imperial dignity. The Latin empire of Constantinople was destroyed in 1261 by Michael Paleologus.
Interval, 1204-1217. Meantime the Christians in the East, though despoiled of most of their possessions, and weakened by divisions, bravely defended themselves against the sultans of Egypt. They continually invoked aid from Europe; but more powerful interests at home made the European princes regardless of their calls. Only those of more exalted imaginations could be influenced. There was a crusade of children in 1212.
Fifth Crusade—1218-1221. Honorius III, Pope.
Three kings, John de Brienne, titular king of Jerusalem, Andrew II, king of Hungary, and Hugh of Lusignan, king of Cyprus, united their forces at Acre. The king of Hungary was soon recalled by troubles at home; Hugh of Lusignan died; and John de Brienne went to attack Egypt alone. In 1221 the crusaders, after many reverses, submitted to a humiliating peace; John of Brienne, returning to Europe, gave his daughter in marriage to Frederick II, emperor of Germany, who thereby became titular king of Jerusalem.
Sixth Crusade—1228-1229. Gregory IX, Pope.
Leader, Frederick II. This emperor had taken the vows of the cross five years before, and, though anathematized by the pope, had failed to fulfil his engagement. At length he set out, and the Sultan Kameel yielded Jerusalem to him by treaty without battle. Frederick crowned himself king of Jerusalem. Threatened with the loss of his Italian dominions, he returned to Europe.
Seventh Crusade—1248-1254. Innocent IV, Pope.
Leaders, St. Louis (IX) and the French princes. The king of France engaged in this crusade in consequence of a vow made during a dangerous illness. Most of the princes of the blood and great vassals accompanied him. He turned his arms first against Egypt, and took Damietta in 1250; but his army, surprised by a sudden rising of the Nile, and carried off in great numbers by pestilence, was surrounded, and Louis himself, with 20,000 of his army, was made prisoner. He obtained his liberty, by payment of a heavy ransom and the surrender of Damietta. He remained four years in Palestine, repairing the fortifications of the towns which yet remained in the hands of the Christians (Ptolemais, Jaffa, Sidon, etc.), and mediating between the Christian and Mohammedan princes.
Eighth Crusade—1270. Clement IV, Pope.
Leaders, Louis IX; Charles of Anjou; Edward, prince of England, afterwards Edward I. This expedition was first directed to the coast of Africa; Louis deparked before Tunis and laid siege to that city; but the army was cut down by the plague, to which Louis himself and one of his sons fell victims. Charles of Anjou, his brother, made peace with the Mohammedans, and renounced the expedition to the Holy Land. This was the last crusade. H.