General History in Outline and Story
V . THE MIDDLE AGES
27 . The Barbarians
28 . A Barbarian becomes a Christian : Clovis the Frank
29 . Benedict the Monk and Justinian the Law-giver
30 . Mohammed and the Men of the Sand Wastes
31 . The Northmen
32 . Charles the Great : Christmas Day, 800
33 . The Feudal System
34 . Hildebrand and the Rule of the Church
35 . The Christians and the Mohammedans
36 . Little Brother Francis and Friar Roger Bacon
37 . The Fighting Nomads of Asia
38 . Marco Polo and his Journeys to Cathay
39 . The Story of the Trade with the Indies
27. THE BARBARIANS
The Greeks were a force in European development in the last thousand years before Christ. For part of that time Roman and Greek history were going on together, and Rome had its great days from 500 BC to AD 500. The thousand years after that, AD 500-1500, are named the Middle Ages -- the ages between the death of the old order, with the fall of the Roman Empire, and the coming of a new order with the discovery of America.
The fall of Rome was a very long process. The end is generally given as the year 476, when the Barbarians put one of their chiefs in the place of the last of the feeble Emperors of the West ruling in Rome. It is an interesting fact that the names of this last ruler were those of the builder of Rome and the first of its Emperors -- Romulus Augustulus ('the little Augustus').
Even a hundred years before this, great numbers of Huns and other Barbarians had come from the flat parts of Asia into Europe through the opening between the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains. It was not long before they were driving before them the groups of middle Europe, and pushing them across the Danube and the Rhine.
The Romans -- like the Greeks before them -- gave all other nations the name of 'Barbarians.' But these Germanic newcomers were strong men and good fighters, clean-living, straightforward, and far less given to foolish beliefs than the Roman or Greek of that day, or the men of the East.
However, for a long time the old Roman Empire was cruelly troubled by the Barbarians. They came in masses into its wide and fertile lands, attacking its beautiful towns and taking off whatever seemed to them of value. Everywhere there was fear and destruction. When the Goths came across the Danube in 376, the end of the Empire was near, and the coming of the Germans across the Rhine about thirty years later gave it its death-blow.
Four times between AD 300 and AD 400 Rome itself was attacked and given over to destruction. Saint Jerome, writing twenty years after the fall of Romulus Augustulus, gives this picture, in the words of Virgil, of the unhappy events of his day :
"Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred lips,
A throat of iron and a chest of brass,
I still would have no power to put in words
All man's unnumbered wrongs."
In the spring of the black year 451, when Attila the Hun came over the Rhine at the head of his great armies, the most cruel things were done to the unhappy Romans.
Such was the shocking condition of Europe for almost two hundred years, when the different groups of Barbarians, pushed on by newcomers from Asia, were fighting their way through the woods of German and across Europe.
It was another great 'migration,' or moving of peoples, like the coming of the Greeks and the others two thousand years earlier.
It was not very long before the Barbarians were taking root in the fertile countries of the old Roman Empire -- the Goths in Italy and Spain ; the Lombards in North Italy ; the Vandals in North Africa ; the Burgundians and the Franks in what later became France ; the Anglo-Saxon seas-goers in Britain. In this way new nations slowly came into being in Europe. The Barbarians were full of surprise at the beautiful towns and buildings, the great roads, and the wise Roman laws, and in time came to have a deep respect for the society they had overcome. "There is no doubt," one of them said, "that the Emperor is God on earth, and to do wrong to him is to do wrong to oneself." So the name and ideas of Rome went on, the Roman representatives and the Roman Church slowly helping the Barbarians forward to a higher stage of development.
28 . A BARBARIAN BECOMES A CHRISTIAN : CLOVIS THE FRANK
Three hundred years after the time of Christ, the Franks ere nothing but bands of rough fighters giving trouble on the edges of the Empire. Time after time they were crushed and put to flight by the Romans, only to get together and come again. They had made a place for themselves in the beautiful country of North France at least as early as the year 400, when the Romans were forced to take their armies away from the Rhine, and the Gauls (like the Britons) had to take care of themselves.
In quite a short time the Franks became something like a nation. They were natural fighters, loving danger and quite without fear. The true Franks had long hair falling down their backs ; when they were fighting, it was pushed up under their head-coverings.
The Barbarians everywhere went to war under chiefs, who were their best fighters, and in time these chiefs became princes and kings. The first King of the Franks, after they had come to the north of France, was named Clovis. (The old form of "Louis.")
To us at the present day Clovis seems the worst of men, cruel, false to his friends, hard and violent, with a sort of animal desire for blood.
But Clovis was married to a Christian woman, Clotilda, who had a very good effect on him. In time they had a son, who was to become King after Clovis. "He is Christ's," said Clotilda, and Clovis made no protest. So the baby was taken to the great church at Soissons, dressed beautifully like a King's son, to be made a Christian. Almost before they were back from the church the baby was dead. "It is the water of Christ which is the cause," said the angry King. "If I had given him to those old gods of mine he would be living now !"
The year after, another son came. Still strong in her belief, Clotilda again got Clovis to let her take him to church, and again, after the baby had been made a Christian, he became ill. "He will be taken from us like his brother," said Clovis bitterly. But this time it was not so ; he got better and became a strong boy. Then came the turning-point in the history of Clovis (496). In one of his wars, when the fight was going against him, he sent up a cry for help to Clotilda's God, and gave his word that if he was not overcome he would become a Christian. Cloves's army overcame the other one and he kept his word, though it was a hard thing for him to do. So great was the power of this Barbarian over his rough men that thousands of them gave up their old religion to go down on their knees to the Prince of Peace.
It was not long before Clovis had more lands under him than any other Barbarian ruler of his time. The year before his death he made his lst journey to the noted town of Tours, whose greatest churchman, Gregory of Tours, has given us a history of these times. The Emperor of the East, who was still Roman Emperor in name, though now living not at Rome but at Constantinople, sent representatives to Clovis, taking him the dress of a ruler and a gold circle ornamented with jewels or his head ; and, in the name of the Emperor, they made him consul. Then Clovis went through the streets of Tours on horseback, giving away gold right and left, the public crying out "Consul" and "Augustus." Going into the church, he there gave a hearing to all who had come to see him. After that he went down on his knees to God, giving Him the credit for all he had been able to do in war and peace.
His death took place a year later in Paris (511) when he was only forty-five years old. This story of the first Barbarian ruler to become a Christian is as strange as anything in history.
29 . BENEDICT THE MONK AND JUSTINIAN THE LAW-GIVER
The coming of the Barbarians was the end of the old order of society. The Barbarian peoples had no knowledge of Greek and Roman thought. Art and letters almost went out of existence, and only the Church kept up an interest in learning. conditions in the towns, small and great, went from bad to worse. Man's existence was poor and rough, and bands of outlaws made event that unsafe.
The strong men became independent rulers -- Kings Dukes, and so on. The others were ready enough to make their position a little safer by putting themselves and their lands in the hands of these chiefs, and becoming their servants or 'vassals.' In this way, in these troubled times, a new organization of society -- the 'Feudal System' -- came into being as a way of keeping order.
Most of the great seats of learning -- Rome, Milan, Alexandria -- had undergone some destruction in the wars, and so the light of knowledge which had been kept burning in the Mediterranean countries for more than a thousand years became feebler and feebler. This is why the years A.D. 450-1000 have been named the ' Dark Ages.' But they were certainly not completely 'dark,' because this was the time when the Church was doing its great work of making the Barbarians Christian.
In the early days of the fall of the Empire great numbers of men, turning from a society in which they saw only bad, gave themselves up to the Church and became 'monks.' The monks were groups of men living together very simply and giving all their time to religion and good works. Wherever they went they put up churches and houses for themselves ; these were named 'monasteries,' and in them the monks did their best to keep learning and the arts from complete destruction. Latin was the language used by the Church, and teaching in it was given in the monastery schools.
The story of Clovis gives us some idea of the great power of the Church even in those early days. Tours had become a town specially given up to religion, and in that narrow space there were now at least eighteen churches. The head church, or cathedral, was ornamented with paintings and works of art in stone ; it had 'mosaic' floors -- floors made of small polished stones worked into the complex designs -- and all was bright with gold and color. The town had great attractions, not only for the pleasure-loving and the designing, who naturally came from far and near to such a place, but for men of art and learning. The school of music in Tours had early made a great name for itself.
While the new nation of the Franks was being formed under Clovis the Barbarian, a greater and better man was helping to take conditions in Europe to a higher level. This was Saint Benedict (480-543), whose monastery was at Monte Cassino in middle Italy., It was he who gave the monks their three chief rules : to be poor ; to have nothing to do with women ; to be guided in all things by the head of the monastery. He was wise enough to make it a further rule that, in addition to reading the word of God and going to church, the monks were to do some work with their hands on the monastery farms. One of his saying was "Labourate est orare," or "Work in an offering to God." The monks were the best farmers and handworkers of these times.
"To do nothing makes me bad," said Saint Benedict in his Rule for monks. "For that reason, at fixed times, the brothers are to do work with their hands ; and again, at fixed times, to do reading in books of religion." He goes on to say that from Eater till the first of October the first three hours of the day are to be given to work in the fields, and then two hours of reading.
At this time the 'Roman Empire' was still in existence in the East. In fact, it went on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome, again and again driving back from Constantinople the attacking Barbarians (Goths and Slavs) and the Arabs. Here, at the meeting-place of Europe and Asia, the light of knowledge was kept burning till the west was ready for a new birth of learning.
The Empire became for a space a living thing again under Justinian (483-565), who was ruling at he time of Clovis, the Frank. It was the great chief of his army, Belisarius, who got back parts of Italy, Spain, and Africa for the Empire. But Justinian is chiefly important in history as the 'Law-giver." He got all the laws of the Romans together, and in this way this great body or Code of law was given to the new Europe. To-day the law of the nations whose countries were part of the old Roman Empire is still based on Roman law.
Justinian's system of law did for the general public what Benedict's Rule had done for the churchmen. It gave them new ideas of right living and an ordered society. And so the work of Rome went on.
But now Europe was again being attacked by other Barbarian groups " the Magyars, or Hungarians from the flat country in Asia, the Northmen from the sea countries of the North, and the Arabs from the Arabian sands. The 'migrations' were still going on. They went on, in fact, for about five hundred more years, by which time the New Nations were slowly taking their present form.
30 . MOHAMMED AND THE MEN OF THE SAND WASTES
A short time after Justinian's death there was going about in Arabia a man who said that he was the 'Prophet of the One God.' This was Mohammed of Mecca, a camel-driver and a keeper of sheep. Before his time the Arabs made gods of wood or stone ;
it was Mohammed who gave them their great religion and their place in history. Mohammedanism to-day is the religion not only of Arabia and the countries round it, but of the Moors of North Africa, the Turks, and a great part of India. To keep himself from falling into the hands of those who would have put him to death, Mohammed was forced to get away from Mecca to Medina, and this flight is named the 'Hegira.' All Mohammedans, or Moslems, to give them their other name, take the Hegira (622) as the starting point of their history, in the same way as Christians take the birth of Christ.
The religion of Mohammed was to a great degree based on the religions of the Jews and the Christians. It was his belief that he was a prophet of God, or Allah (old Testament, 'Elohim'), and that he was sent by God to take further the work of Moses, Abraham, and Jesus. His teachings are recorded in the Koran. All were to go down on their knees to God five times a day ; to go without food on certain days, and give money to the poor ; to make a journey to Mecca ; and never to take strong drink or pig's meat. There were to be no gods made of wood and stone. Women were to be kept by themselves in a special part of the house, and never to be seen in public with their faces uncovered. Mohammed's religion is named Islam or, roughly, 'respect for authority' (that of Allah).
After some years of fighting, Mohammed took Mecca with an army of ten thousand men, and in a short time all Arabia had come over to the new religion. This done, the attention of the Arabs was turned to forcing their religion upon other nations.
The chiefs who took Mohammed's place after his death, the Caliphs, overcame and gave their religion to a great Empire stretching in a curve from the Black Sea to Gibraltar (so named by the Moors). Persia was overcome ; Jerusalem (637), Alexandria (641), and Carthage (698), all went down before them. By 711 they had even taken Spain from the Goths and made a number of journeys over the Pyrenees into the heart of France.
Then the danger to Europe was for a time over, because the Moors were crushed in the West, after a great fight at Tours (732), by Charles 'the Hammer,' one of the kings who came after Clovis ; and in the East they were forced to give up their attempt to take Constantinople after being at its very walls (717).
The early supporters of Mohammed were not only great fighters, they did much for the development of society. Their two greatest towns, Baghdad in the East, and Cordova (Spain) in the West, were better off and more interested in learning than any town in Christian Europe at that time. They kept up the learning and arts of the East, and they got control of the great trade with India. They were specially expert at mathematics, astronomy, and medical science. In the Alhambra at Granada, and in their 'mosques,' or churches, we may still see examples of their beautiful and highly ornamented buildings.
Their early stories are now the common property of all nations in the form of the Arabian Nights. These are stories of the time of the great Caliph, Haroun al Raschid (Aaron the Wise). He was ruling in Baghdad while Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, was King of the Franks, and these great rulers of East and West sent offerings to one another.
The Arab Empire was later broken up into separate countries. This made the way open for new nomads from middle Asia -- the Turks -- who later became Mohammedans. In a short time these Turks took Baghdad (1058), and their chief became its 'Sultan.' Then they overcame Asia Minor and took Jerusalem (1076), and this was the reason for the long wars between the Mohammedans and the Christians named the Crusades.
This new Mohammedan Empire in time took in most of the country in the north of Africa and the south of Asia, and here Islam is still the controlling religion. One out of very fifteen men and women now living is a Mohammedan.
31 . THE NORTHMEN
The 'migrations' were even now not over. The growth and expansion of Islam from AD 600 to 800 was one of the greatest events in history ; the overrunning of different parts of the earth by the Northmen was one of the most important developments of the years which came after, 800 - 1100.
The journeys of the Vikings, or men form the sea-inlets of the North, went on for about three hundred years. They were expert seamen with no fear of wind or wave, and their long ships went into almost every European sea and river. Such fear did they put into the hearts of men everywhere that a special prayer was said in the churches : "O God, keep us safe from the Northmen !"
They had colonies in Russia, where one of them became a King ; in Iceland, where they were responsible for the great writings named the Sagas ; and in Greenland. They probably went across the Atlantic to America, though the memory of their discovery went out of men's minds, and the existence of the 'New World' came as a surprise to Europe five hundred years later. They made attacks on all the country round the seas of Europe and on most of the sea-towns.
In England, after a number of such attacks, they made peace with Alfred the Great at Wedmore (878). Later, England had at different times three Danish kings, among them Canute, who was the ruler of a great Scandinavian Empire.
In France they took Paris (845), and then their chief got the King of the Franks to let them make a colony on the Seine, with Rouen as its chief town. This colony became the 'Dutchy' of Normandy (911) with their chief as its Duke. From Normandy, a hundred years later, came William 'the Conqueror,' so named because he overcame England and Norman chiefs and Norman churchmen its ruling group.
So, from being outlaws of the sea, the Vikings became the makers and rulers of nations. They gave up their old religion and became Christians, and later they were to be the greatest fighters for the Church. More than almost any other nation in history, they had the art of adjustment to new conditions. They took over the language, thought and ways of the countries where they went, and everything they took was given further development in their hands. They made England, where, under the Anglo-Saxon kings, there had been unending division and trouble, into a strong, united nation. They overcame Sicily and Malta, and gave them good government. In France they quickly became a guiding force, and they made this fertile old part of the Roman Empire the birthplace of Chivalry -- that system of high ideas about a man's relations to his King, his Church, and those feebler than himself, which made the Middle Ages a time of great acts, and has given us some of the best-loved stories in history.
32 . CHARLES THE GREAT : CHRISTMAS DAY, 800
The earliest of the Northmen's journeys took place while the greatest of the Barbarians kings was ruling the Franks -- Charles the Great, or Charlemagne (768-814). It was his work to make a new Europe by forcing order upon the warring groups of Barbarians.
Charlemagne was a great military chief, tall and with an air of authority, and very strong. He took part in more than fifty wars. He was requested by the Pope to make war on Lombards in North Italy, and his son was made King of Italy. He took up arms against the Moors in North Spain, and the great Song of Roland is an account of the doings of Charlemagne and his men there.
But most of his wars were east of the Rhine. The worst of these was against the Saxons, four thousand of whom were cut down by Charlemagne's army in one fight. These Saxons, who still kept their early religion, were later made Christian by force. In the same way as Caesar took Gaul into the Roman Empire, so Charlemagne, after much fighting, made Germany part of the new Christian Empire.
Charles was equally great as a fighter and as a ruler of Church and country. He gave a new birth to learning by building schools, getting books together, and requesting men of learning, like Alcuin of York, to come to his chief town. And, like Henry II of England after him, he sent judges on journeys all over his Empire to put his system of government into operation.
Most of the west of Europe was covered by the Empire of Charlemagne. It has been said that he was the greatest man in the thousand years after the fall of Rome. The chief event in his history was when he went to Rome to be made Emperor by Pope Leo III in the great Church of Saint Peter, on Christmas Day, 800. Here is an account of the events as pictured for us by a noted writer of history.
"At last the time came, and Charles, probably with most of his chiefs, together with the Romans, went to the great Church of Saint Peter on the morning of Christmas Day. They come up from the Tiber by the long road edged with stone columns of Saint Angelo to the door of Saint Peter's. They go up the thirty-five steps to the stage on which the Pope and all the great churchmen are waiting for them. Charles himself, with his yellow hair, going gray, and with deep lines ploughed in his face by the work of twenty Saxon wars, is a head taller than the dark, smooth-faced churchmen round the Pope.
So, on that Christmas Day more than a thousand years back, another Roman Empire came into being under the rule of an Emperor and a Pope. Its name in history is the 'Holy' Roman Empire, that is to say, the Roman Empire in God's keeping.
"The Romans are all very pleased to see him in Roman clothing -- the long dress with the wide band of cloth round the neck, and the low shoes of a Roman of high birth in place of the high boots used by the German chiefs. Between the columns down the middle of the church are hanging (because it is Christmas Day) deep red curtains worked with gold ; at the other end of the church, hanging from the arch, a great frame of silver, in which are burning 1,370 wax-lights, makes bright the dark December morning.
"Charles gets up from his knees ; the Pope comes up to him, and lifting high his hands, put on the tall King's head a circle of gold.
"Then all the Romans give a loud cry ; 'To Carolus Augustus, servant of God, great and peace-loving Emperor, long years and all power !' Once again there is an Emperor of the Romans in Rome -- the first of that long line of Germanic Emperors, the last of whom gave up the name at the order of the Corsican Napoleon."
Happily we have most of the facts about Charlemagne, because one of his churchmen kept a record of his doings. Though Charles did so much for education, says the writer, he himself was never able to make is letters. He gives a touching picture of the old fighter's attempts at writing, keeping the pages under his bed and working whenever he had a minute free, though his fingers had become so stiff that he had little control of the pen.
33 . THE FEUDAL SYSTEM
All through Charlemagne's troubled times the Feudal System was slowly being worked out. It was not a completely new thing -- hundreds of years earlier developments very like this had taken place in Egypt and China.
The chief groups in European society at this time were the churchmen, the 'lords,' and the 'serfs.' The lords were great landowners who made payment for their land by giving the ruler, who was their 'overlord,' help in his wars ; and the serfs were farm-workers who gave their lord a part of their produce and did a certain amount of work for him in exchange for the use of their land, and armed help in time of danger.
Some of the Emperor's laws are still on record, and one of these gives a very good picture of the way of living on the great manors, as the farms of the lords were named. All over the west of Europe the land was, by degrees, broken up into these manors with their great open fields, farmed by the serfs working together as a group. This way of farming went on for about one thousand years, till the land was cut up into fields and new ways of farming came in in the seventeen hundreds.
"Once a year," says one of Charlemagne's laws (about A.D. 800), "every manager is to make a statement of all our income, giving an account of the lands worked by our plowmen with our animals, and of the lands to be ploughed by those who have the land from us ; of the pigs, of the payments for land, of the money taken from wrongdoers by our judges ; of the birds and other animals take in our woods without our authority ; of the grain-crushing, of the fields, of the woods, of the bridges and the ships ; of the freemen and the places which are in debt to us ; of markets ; of wine-lands and those who have to make payments to us in wine ; of the dry grass, fire-wood, and all other wood from the waste lands ; of green food and grain ; of the wool got from the sheep, of the plants from which we get linen and thread ; of the fruits of the trees, and nut-trees greater and smaller ; of the gardens, of the roots, of the fishing-places ; of the leather, skins, and horns ; of the sweet produce of the bees and their wax. . . . Of all this they are to give us a list, with everything put down separately and in order at Christmas, so that we may be certain how much of everything we have. . . . Every manager is to have on the place good workmen ; iron-workers, a worker in gold and one in silver, shoe-makers, makers of beer and other sorts of strong drinks, cooks to make cakes for our table, net-makers to make nets for taking animals and fish, and other sorts of workmen for whose names there is no room here."
The details of this order are very like those given in the Doomsday Book, in which, by the orders of William the Conqueror, the accounts of the English manors were recorded more than two hundred years later.
After Charlemagne's death (814) his Empire, with its loose organization, was broken up. France and Germany by degrees became separate countries, taking roughly the positions on the map they have to-day. Between them there was a great middle land stretching from the North Sea to the Alps, which has been the cause of trouble among European nations, specially France and Germany, all through later history. Alsace-Lorraine, which was given back to France after the Great War of 1914-18, was a part of this middle-land.
A German, Otto the Great, became the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in 962. Its connection with Italy was to be a serious cause of trouble to Germany for hundreds of years. In fact, Italy and Germany did not become independent countries till the eighteen hundreds, when France and England had long been free of the Holy Roman Empire, and working out their separate developments as nations.
34 . HILDEBRAND AND THE RULE OF THE CHURCH
The stories of Clovis at Tours and Charlemagne at Rome give us an idea how important the Church was in the Middle Age. It was far and the strongest force in those ages of belief and it did much for the development of European society after the coming of the Barbarians. Everywhere in Europe there were churchmen and monks ruling men and women in the name of the Church.
Christian 'missionaries' went into every land teaching the story of Christ, and taking with them some knowledge of the arts of society ; Saint Patrick (about 450) to Ireland ; Saint Augustine (596) to England ; Irish monks to Italy ; Saint Boniface from England (about 750) to Germany ; while the Church of the East -- which was not in agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on certain points, and had a separate organization, as it still has -- took the Christian religion to the Russians and the other Slavs.
Monasteries were started in every country, and they became the schools, hospitals, and hotels of the Middle Ages, and had the best farms. Every monastery had a church, sleeping-rooms and meal-rooms for the monks, a hospital, a cooking-place, and a writing-room. In the middle of the building was a great open space, and round them all a high wall.
The head of the Church at Rome had become the Pope, or Father of the Church, and had got great power while the Barbarian attacks were going on. It was Pope Leo the Great who kept Rome safe from the cruel Attila th Hun (453), and another Pope was responsible for keeping off the equally cruel Vandals (455).
In time the Pope's power became equal to, and even greater than the Emperor's. Gregory VII, or Hildebrand, one of the greatest of the Popes, was ruling at the time when his friend William the Conqueror was overcoming England. It was Hildebrand's great desire to make the Pope the chief authority in Christian Europe. Kings who did not do as they were ordered by him were in danger of being cut off from the Church, and their fear of this punishment gave him almost unlimited power. Further, to keep the Church quite independent, churchmen were ordered not to take the signs of their position (the ring and the rod) from Kings, and this was the start of a long and bitter fight between the Kings and the Church.
Pope Hildebrand even kept the Emperor (Henry IV) waiting in the snow without shoes for three days and nights outside Canossa Castle in Italy (1077) before he would see him. Hildebrand was one of the strongest men of the Middle Ages.
35 . THE CHRISTIANS AND THE MOHAMMEDANS
Nothing makes the power of the Church clearer than the wars between Christians and Mohammedans name the Crusades. The Mohammedans had taken Jerusalem in 637. About four hundred and fifty years later (1076) Jerusalem was taken by the Mohammedan Turks, and Christians coming to the town for purposes of religion had a bad time. Peter the Hermit and Urban the Pope then went al over Europe working up Christian feeling against the Turks. In a talk to the Church at Clermont in France (1095) Urban said to thousands of hearers ; "To you, O Franks, noted among nations for your true Catholic beliefs and the great respect which you have for the Church, I say these words. Again and again stories have come to us from Jerusalem and Constantinople that un-Christian men are violently overrunning Christian lands with fire and destruction. They are burning down the churches of God or using them for the Mohammedan religion.
"Let the memory of your fathers put heart into you ; the great story of King Charlemagne and your other kings, who gave new lands into the keeping of the Church. Let the thought of the Tomb of Christ, now in the hands of unclean nations, make you strong against them. Put away the hate among yourselves ; let there be an end of your wars and troubles. Take the road to Christ's Tomb ; put those un-Christian men out of the land and make it yours. That land was given by God to the sons of Israel. Jerusalem is the heart of the earth."
When Pope Urban had done, a cry went up from all those present : "It is God's desire ! It is God's desire !"
And so the Crusades were started. There were a number of Crusades at different times stretching over two hundred years. Jerusalem was taken (1099) and taken back again (1187) -- and after that it was never in the hands of Christian again till the English, under Allenby, took it in the Great War of 1914-18. So the chief purpose of the Crusades was not effected, and this fact was a blow to the credit of the Church, whose power had at first been so greatly increased by them.
But the Crusades had very important effects. Through all these years men from every level of society -- Kings, lords, traders, and fighting men -- had been journeying from Europe to Palestine, and there they came into touch with the comforts and ideas of the East. They got much new knowledge, and they took back with them all sorts of new things -- soft floor-coverings, beautiful silks, strange foods, and so on.
All this trade made money for the towns, specially Venice and Genoa in Italy, and later, for other towns in Germany.
In the time of the Crusades the East again, as in the days of the early Empires, became the teacher of the West.
36 . LITTLE BROTHER FRANCIS AND FRAIR ROGER BACON
While the Crusades were going on, another great development was taking place inside the Church. This was the work of Saint Dominic of Spain (1170-1221), of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), and of the friars, that is, 'brothers,' who were their supporters.
The son of a great Italian trader, 'little brother Francis' gave up the pleasure and good living he was used to and went back to the simple ways of the early Christians, in the hope of turning the churchmen and the monks from their increasing love of comfort. Those who went with him were ordered to give away all they had to the poor, keeping for themselves only one rough dress. This is his account of the existence of the little band :
"We went about, living in poor, unused churches, we had little learning, and were the servants of all. I did work with my hands, and would still do so ; and it is my desire that all the other brothers do some work with their hands because this keeps them good. Let those who have no trade get one, not for the purpose of making money, but to give a good example, and to have work to do. And when we are not given the price of our work let us go to Christ's table, requesting our bread from door to door. Let the brothers have a care not to take churches or any buildings put up for them without keeping in mind that they have given their word to be poor as is ordered in the Rule ; and let them make use of houses only as men on a journey and there but for a little time."
The friars, without shoes or money, went into the poor little houses of the unhealthy towns of Europe to give comfort to the crushed and unhappy, and to take to all the teaching of Christ. They went into most parts of the earth -- not only in Europe but in Asia -- to do their good work. Saint Francis is still the best-loved men in all history.
Saint Dominic was a Spaniard, and much of his work was done among the Moors in Spain. It was his dearest hope to make them Christian. He was noted for his great power of language and the moving effect he had upon his hearers.
One of the most noted friars was a boy of twelve at the time of Saint Francis' death. This was Roger Bacon, who went to the universities of Oxford and Paris, and became the greatest man of science after the Greeks. He was much against the foolish belief of his time in unnatural powers, and had a surprisingly true idea of the inventions which a knowledge of natural forces would one day make possible. He said that there would be bridges without supports across rivers ; that carriages would go at a great rate without animals pulling them ; that machines would be made in which, by turning an apparatus, a man would be taken through the air like a bird in flight.
All these seemingly impossible things have now come true -- as, more than seven hundred years back, Friar Roger Bacon, one of the wisest of all men of science, said they would !
37 . THE FIGHTING NOMADS OF ASIA
The wars between the Mohammedans and the Christians were only one more stage in the long war between East and West which we have seen going on almost from the start of history - in the fights between Persia and Greece between Carthage and Rome, between Franks and Huns, between the Mohammedans and Christians.
The nations of Asia have, at different times, done much to make a higher level of existence possible. Asia is 'the land of births and new developments.' Society had its great river basins, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Hoang-Ho (or Yellow river), and the Ganges, and so had a number of great inventions which did not come to Europe till much later.
Europe is specially in debt to China for silk and delicate 'china' - it has given its very name to the material of our cups and plates - and for the invention of paper and printing. There is much of value for the West in Japan's ideas of ordered living, and in her art ; and the art and thought of India have still much to give us.
All the great religions have been started in Asia. More than five hundred years before Christ, when Greek though was in its earliest sages, Confucius was teaching in China, Buddha in India, and the Hebrew prophets in Palestine. In that same Palestine, six hundred years later, the son of a Hebrew wood-worker in an out-of-the-way little town, gave men the beautiful new idea of love and peace on earth. And six hundred years later, again, Mohammed came out of the Arabian wastes.
All through history Asia has been the starting-place of Empire-building nomads. For example, from the waste lands of Arabia came all those groups who made themselves rulers in Mesopotamia -- Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Hebrews ; and from the same part, in the Middle Ages, came the Arabs. From the flat country in the middle of Asia there came not only the great Indo-European groups but, in addition, the Huns, Turks, Mongols, and others. Time after time in history the nomads have come down over Europe and Asia like the ice in earlier ages, driving all before them. Frequently these Asiatic chiefs have been the most cruel of men, because Asia was the land of rulers with unlimited power, basing their government on force and fear. It was only in Europe that there was any development in the direction of a politically free society.
In the twelve and thirteen hundreds the cruel Tartar chiefs, Jenghis Khan and Tamerlane, using the Chinese invention of gunpowder, were responsible for very great destruction. These two men were as much feared as Attila the Hun. It was one of Attila's cruel sayings that no grass would come again where his horse's feed had been ; and Jenghis took pleasure in the fact that after destruction of a town by his army he was able to go thundering over the place where it had been with no fear of his horse falling. In one summer almost everyone from the Baltic to the Danube was put to death, and the bones of men were everywhere among the broken stones of the towns and churches. Jenghis gave his word to those who had taken cover in the woods that he would let them go free and in peace. But when, in this belief, they came out into the open, he made them get in the produce of the fields and the wine-lands, and then he put them all to death. The fertile country between the Caspian and the Indus -- a stretch of hundreds of miles -- was made such a complete waste that six hundred years have been unable to put right the damage which he did in four.
Tamerlane's cruel love of destruction was equal to, if not greater than, that of Jenghis. At Delhi, the chief town of his future government, he put one hundred thousand prisoners to death because he saw some of them smiling when the army of their countrymen came into view. Delhi, Baghdad, Damascus, and a thousand other towns were burned or made level with the earth. He seems to us more like some strange early sort of half-man, little better than an animal, than a military chief of the Middle Ages.
A simple list of the chief facts will make it clear how important in the history of the world these Tartars were. Jenghis Khan (1162-1227) and his armies came all the way across Asia to Russia, which was ruled by the Tartars for two hundred years. His son's son, Kublai Khan, the greatest of all the Tartar kings, became Emperor of China. After that Tamerlane, the most cruel of them all, made waste the land from Delhi to the Mediterranean ; and from him came the line of rulers of the great Mogul Empire in India, which went on till the days of Clive of England.
Again, it was by the Tartars that the Turks were forced out of their first country in Turkestan into Asia Minor. Then came the Crusades, in which the Christian hopes of driving out the Mohammedans come to nothing. After that the Turks came across to Europe, overcame the Balkan lands, and in the end took Constantinople (1453), in this way becoming a serious danger to Europe. Less than a hundred years after this event, under Soliman the Great (1520-66), they were ruling from Hungary to Baghdad.
But bit by bit the Mohammedans were forced back from Europe. Moscow made itself free in 1480 ; Granada was taken by the Spaniards in 1492 ; the Turks were turned back from Vienna by the Poles in 1683. Today the only part of Europe under Turkish rule is that round Constantinople.
The story of Asia is of great interest in our times because the steamship, the telegram, and radio have made East and West nearer and more important to one another than ever before.
38 . MARCO POLO AND HIS JOURNEYS TO CATHAY
China is specially interesting because the roots of its society go back to the Stone Age. It is the only one of the early societies which has had an unbroken development all through history. Even today the education of Chinese boys and girls is much the same as the education of the prophet Samuel by Eli. Its writing and records go back to 3000 B.C. Its first book on religion has come down fro the time of its first Emperor, and is four or five thousand years old. This first Emperor is said to have made China a united land, the 'Celestial Empire,' or Empire of God. But for hundreds of years of its history, before Christ and after - China was broken up among feudal chiefs.
Between five and six hundred years before Christ, Confucius was living in China, and to this day the name of this great teacher of religion is deeply respected by his countrymen. He gave them rules for their behavior to their fathers, teachers, and all men. One of his chief sayings was "Have not ! Be !"
Another great landmark in China's history was the building of the Great Wall across the north to keep out the Huns or Tartars, who, however, did get through it sometimes. It was one thousand eight hundred miles long, and parts of it are still to be seen. It was made in the two hundreds B.C., when the Chinese Empire was almost equal to the Roman. There were great trade-ways from China through Asia, and it was by these roads that the silk used by Roman society women came into Europe.
The Chinese very early became expert at making silks and delicate china, and at painting beautiful pictures ; and they had the art of printing, and made use of gunpowder, and of he ship's compass for getting their direction at sea, before these inventions came to Europe at the time of the New Learning. In the Middle Ages China was attacked by the Tartar Jenghis Khan, who, with his yellow armies, came over the Great Wall and took Peking. His son's son, Kublai Khan, became the ruler of China in 1280, and had under him the greatest Empire of that time, stretching from the Danube to the Pacific.
The Venetian, Marco Polo, noted for his journeys to different countries, was for seventeen years in Peking, living in the house of the Emperor. When he came back he put into a book his story of that strange and beautiful town, of its gold and jewels, its great royal house, its paintings and works of art. He gave an account of good 'hotels' on the roads, of the making of silk and he working of gold of trade and industry on a great scale, at a time when the towns of Europe were small and poor in comparison. Marco Polo's book "gives a picture without equal of that great Empire, full of gold, and trade, and men of learning, and beautiful things, happy and at peace under its ruler, Kublai Khan, one of he best Kings history has ever seen."
So strange and surprising were the accounts he gave of Cathay, Burma, Japan, and so on, that they were looked on a fiction by most men. However, great interest was taken in his journeys, and later, when the Turks became a serious danger on the trade-ways to the East and men were looking for a new way to the gold and jewels of Cathay, Columbus himself went through Marco Polo's book and made notes on it.
For some time relations between China and the West were almost completely broken off, but in the fifteen hundreds the Chinese again came in touch with Europe. Trade with the East was newly started by the Portuguese, and after the traders went the missionaries of the Church to give the news of Christ's teaching, and took with them much of the science of the West. But the coming of churchmen and traders from Europe did not have much effect upon Chinese ways or ideas. In fact, taking into account how very old the nation and its learning was, it is not surprising that for a long time China was to the Chinese the world, and themselves the nation.
39 .THE STORY OF THE TRADE WITH THE INDIES
There is nothing strange in the fact that the chief connection between India and Europe in the last three hundred years has been through trade, because, for thousands of years before that, trade had been he backbone of relations between Europe and India. Trade with the Indies has ever been the chief bridge between East and West. So much profit came from this trade that for a very long time there was no other of anything like the same value.
Before the discovery of America, and before the opening up of the farther parts of Africa, the only places from which Europe was able to get the produce of warm countries were India and the Spice Islands. And the only way of getting them - till the Suez Canal was made in 1869 - was across the wide neck of land joining Asia and Africa.
Whatever other developments took place, this fact was unchanged. Empires might come and go, and great religions have birth - as the Christian Church and Islam did in that very place - but the silks and other produce of the East were still desired by the West. Most important was the need for spices - powdered roots, seeds, and suchlike things - to give food a better taste - because till quite late in history Europeans had little but salted meat in the winter months. It was only when the use of field roots (such as turnips) and new and better ways of farming came in, in the seventeen hundreds, that it became possible to keep animals for food all through the year.
In the old days there were three chief trade-ways to the East. The first was up the Red Sea and through Egypt. The great attraction of this was that traders were able to go almost all the way by sea, making unnecessary the dangers of a long journey across the sand wastes. The second way, on the other side of Arabia, was not unlike the first. It was for much of the distance a water-way : up the Persian Gulf and through the river-lands of the Euphrates and Tigris to Asia Minor and the Levant. The third way was across a sea even farther to the north - the Black Sea. Starting across the middle of Asia, the trains of goods slowly made the journey to the east end of the Black Sea, and from there the goods went on to Constantinople for distribution in Europe.
In early times and in the Middle Ages one of the things which made the men of the south of Europe better-off and more forward than the men in the north was the fact that this trade with the East was in their hands.
In the time of the Romans, Alexandria was the chief market. When the Mohammedans overcame Egypt, not long after the death of Mohammed, the trade-ways were changed.
Fear of being attacked by the Mohammedans sent the traders north, and Constantinople became the chief meeting-place. This change was greatly to the profit of the old town, and for some hundreds of years it had a position without parallel. Almost all the most important trade in the world went through it. It was the heart of the world's system of exchange in a way no other town has ever been. The profits of this trade with the East were so great that with their help Constantinople became first in science, art, and learning, in addition to being the great seat of the Greek Church. The Indian trade made Constantinople at the same time the Paris and the Gibraltar of the early Middle Ages.
All this was changed by two events. First, Constantinople was taken in 1204 by the Crusaders, who had come east for the purpose of fighting the Mohammedans but who frequently got mixed up in other wars. The town never became so strong again, because much of its trade was taken away by the Venetians. Then came the great days of the Republics of Venice and Genoa. The great developments in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages were chiefly caused by the fact that the Italian towns had now taken the place of Constantinople, as Constantinople had earlier taken the place of Alexandria --and as London and Antwerp were one day to take the place of the Italian towns.
The second event causing a change in the trade with the East was the coming of the Ottoman Turks (so named after their ruler, Othman I), who put an end to Christian and Arab art and learning at the east end of the Mediterranean. The growth of the Turkish power in these parts, made complete by the fall of Constantinople (1453), had the effect of cutting off the East from the West, and trade between the two by the old ways became almost impossible.
The need for the spices of the East was as great as ever in Europe, though it was much harder to get them. The nations of the West even before this had the idea of looking for a new way to India and China, and the Portuguese had for some time been pushing farther and farther down the west side of Africa. Now, in 1492, the Spanish sent out Columbus, whose argument was that, the earth being round, it was possible to go sailing west and get to the Indies from the other side. But there was a land he had no idea of in his way, and in place of India he came to America. At last (1497) the Portuguese sailor, Da Gama, journeying round the Cape of Good Hope, made the discovery of a new sea-way to the East, safe from the Turks. And this way was equally open to Holland, England, and France - the newer nations of the West which were now coming into competition with those of the Mediterranean.
Why have we been looking back at all these events? It was necessary to see what the early relations between India and Europe were, and what the trade with the East did for the nations in control of it. The greatest developments of the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, when India was a gold-mine to Europe, and France, England, and Holland were building up their Empires on its trade, were no new thing. They were only another stage in the long and interesting story of the trade between East and West.
DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
I . -- THE FIRST STAGE
II . -- THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EAST
III. -- THE GREAT DAYS OF GREECE
IV . -- THE GREAT DAYS OF ROME
V . -- THE MIDDLE AGES top
VI . -- THE 'NEW BIRTH' OF EUROPE
VII. -- NEW FORCES IN RELIGION AND THE GROWTH OF A NEW OUTLOOK
VIII -- THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE OVERSEAS
IX . -- THE 'GREAT KINGS' OF EUROPE
X . -- THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
XI . -- THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND NAPOLEON
XII. -- THE BIRTH OF NEW NATIONS
XIII -- THE WORLD OF THE PRESENT DAY