Growth Of Commerce And Its Results
Formation Of France
England And The Other States
The Papacy In The New Age
Summary - Medieval Civilization
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN following the history of the empire and the papacy in the last chapter we have passed out of the early middle ages into a new and different time. Between the date at which that chapter opened and the date at which it closed a great change had taken place. New causes had begun to work. New forces had been set in operation or old ones greatly intensified, and the face of history had been transformed. In other words, we have passed in that interval the turning-point of the middle ages.
We have seen, in the history of the first part of the middle ages, the introduction of the German element, which is so important in the modern races, and we have traced the rise and some part of the history of the three great medieval creations the Church, the Empire, and Feudalism. We have seen the German empire of Charlemagne reinforce the Roman idea of world unity, and in the breaking up of his empire the modern nations of Europe have taken shape. They have by no means as yet obtained their final form, even in their geographical outline, far less in government, but they have found the places which they are to occupy, they have begun the process of growth which is to result in their present government, and they are easily distinguishable and have begun to a certain extent to distinguish themselves from one another in race and language. But it is still the first half of the middle ages. Some faint signs may show themselves here and there of the beginning of better things and of a renewal of progress, somewhat greater activity in commerce, more frequent eagerness to know, and a better understanding of the sources of knowledge, some improvements in writing and in art. But in all the main features of civilization the conditions which followed the German settlements remain with little change and only slight advance. But the crusades are not over when we find ourselves in an age of great changes and relatively of rapid progress.
We must now return and take up the age of transition which leads from the earlier stage to the later, and as-certain, if we can, the impulse which imparted fresh life to the old forces and awakened the new. This age of •transition is the age of the crusades, the pivot upon which the middle ages turned from the darkness and disorder of the earlier time to the greater light and order of modern times. The age of the crusades, then, is a great revolutionary age. Like the age of the fall of Rome, or of the revival of learning and the Reformation, or of the French revolution, it is an age in which humanity passes through excitement and stimulus and struggle, on into a new stage of its development, in which it puts off the old and becomes new.
The occasion of the crusades was Mohammedanism. At the beginning of the seventh century Arabia had been revolutionized by the teaching of Mohammed. Putting into definite and striking form the unconscious ideas and aspirations of his people, and adding a central and unifying teaching, and inspiring and elevating notions from various foreign sources, he had transformed a few scattered tribes into a great nation and sent them forth under a blazing enthusiasm upon a career of conquest entirely unparalleled in its motive forces, and also in its extent, unless by one or two Mongolian conquerors.
This age of conquest lasted till about 750 A.D., and was then succeeded by an equally rapid and astonishing civilization, with which we are all somewhat familiar from the complete picture of it which has been preserved in the " Arabian Nights." It was a civilization not merely of elegance and luxury and certain forms of art, nor merely of commercial enterprise and wealth. In the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates the Mohammedans became acquainted with the work of the Greeks. Something in their own race nature seems to have corresponded to the especially scientific tendency of the Greek mind. They took up the Greek science with very great enthusiasm and earnestness, and added to it whatever results of a similar sort they could find among any of the other nations with whom they came in contact mathematical suggestions from the Hindoos, for example. They did better than this, for they made additions of their own to the stock of scientific ideas which they had inherited. Their great work, however, was not in the way of new scientific discoveries. They made no great or revolutionary advance in any one of the sciences. They made new observations. They collected and. recorded many facts. They discovered new processes and methods. Their own scientific work was all of that long and patient sort, of preparation and collection and gradual improvement of tools which precedes every apparently sudden achievement of genius. They handed over the work of the Greeks much better prepared to lead to such an advance than when the Greeks left it. But their great work was to hand it over. While the world of western Christendom was passing through its darkest ages, the forgotten sciences which the Greeks had begun were cherished among the Mohammedans, and enriched from other sources, and finally given up to Christendom again when the nations of the West had become conscious of the necessity and the possibility of scientific work and ambitious to begin it. This was the most important permanent work for general civilization of the first Mohammedan age.
The first flood of the Arabian conquest had swept over the Holy Land, and the sepulchre of Christ had remained in the hands of the Saracens. But for Mohammedan as for Christian, these were sacred places, and a pilgrimage was for him a holy and pious duty even more than for his Christian neighbor. While the immediate successors of the first conquerors the Mohammedans of the southern races retained control of Jerusalem, the Christians were allowed free access to its shrines, not without intervals of harsh treatment under an occasional fanatical caliph, and not without some uneasiness on the part of the Saracens at the rapidly increasing numbers of the pilgrims, especially as bands of thou-sands began to appear, led by princes or great nobles.
With the advance of the Seljuk Turks, in the eleventh century, new conditions were introduced. They were a rough and barbarous people as compared with the Saracens whom they supplanted, and naturally of a cruel disposition. As more and more of Palestine and of its approaches passed under their control, the pilgrims began to meet with very harsh treatment. The great sufferings and the miraculous visions of Peter the Hermit are now known to have been the inventions of a later age, but if he did not suffer what he was fabled to have undergone, undoubtedly other pilgrims did suffer something of the sort. At last the worst happened, and Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Turks.
But the immediate impulse to the first crusade came from the appeal of the emperor at Constantinople for aid. The emperor was at this time Alexius Comnenus, who had struggled bravely and skilfully for more than ten years against attacks from every quarter Seljuks on the east, the Tartar Petchenegs in the Balkans, and the ambitious Robert Guiscard on the shores of the Adriatic. He had met with some success and had saved at least a fragment of his empire, which had been threatened with total destruction. But he was not strong enough alone to make any great headway against the Turks. If Asia Minor was to be recovered and a real restoration of the empire to be accomplished, he must have larger forces than he could furnish from his own unaided resources. In March, 1095, his ambassadors appealed to Christendom at the Council of Piacenza, held by Urban II. at a moment of triumph over the emperor Henry IV., and later in the year at the Council of Clermont in France the fiery eloquence of the pope sanctioned the appeal and aroused the whole of Europe.
The response which his appeal received in the West was, indeed, far beyond the emperor's hopes, or wishes even. The number of the crusaders was so great, far beyond any possibility of control by him, that the fear was at once aroused in his mind lest their advance threatened his empire with a mora serious danger than that from the Seljuks. All of them, he might well believe, some of them he knew already to his cost in the case of the Normans of southern Italy, were actuated chiefly by motives of self-interest and the desire for conquest. The later attitude of the emperor toward his invited allies was not without its justification.
The response of the West to the appeal of the East for help against the infidel was so universal and overwhelming, because of the combination at the moment of a variety of influences and causes tending to such a result. Of these we may easily distinguish three leading influences which were especially characteristic of the whole eleventh century the love of military exploits
and adventures, which was beginning, even in that century, to express itself in the institutions and practices of chivalry ; the theocratic ideas which were at that time advancing the papacy so rapidly to its highest point of power ; and an ascetic conception of life and Christian conduct which, like the last, was not only cherished in the church, but held almost as strongly and unquestioningly by the great mass of men of all ranks.
All the middle ages were characterized by a restless love of adventure, and by greater or smaller expeditions to a distance to satisfy this feeling and to gain glory and wealth. The knight-errant is so great a figure in literature because he was so frequent in the life of the time, and even more universally a part of its ideals and imaginings. The knight - errant himself may not have been common so early, but the feeling was never stronger than in the eleventh century, and especially so among the Normans, who were so prominent in the first crusade, as the Norman conquests of southern Italy and of England witness. But this cause, however strong, was not the decisive one in the crusades. Had it been they would not have ceased when they did, for this motive did not cease with them. It never has been more active, indeed, than it is to-day, at least in the Anglo-Saxon world, as Africa, and the Arctic zone, and a hundred other things abundantly testify.
Nor was the influence of the church, nor the idea that it represented God's government, and that through its voice God spake and made known His will to man, the one decisive influence. That these things were so, men thoroughly believed. The growing strength and clearness of the belief that God was in the pope, which was a feature of the reform movement of the eleventh century, was one of the great forces which aided the papacy to win its triumph over the emperor, and to rise to the summit of its power over the church and over the state as well. The call of the pope roused Europe to the great crusades, partly, at least, because it was to Europe the call of God. But the crusades ceased when they did, not because the popes ceased to urge them upon Christendom, nor because the Christian world had ceased to believe in the inspiration of the pope, for both these facts continued long after the crusades had become impossible.
It is in the universal prevalence of the third one of the influences which have been mentioned the ascetic feeling that we must find the one decisive cause of the crusades. It was the strong hold which this feeling had upon prince as well as peasant which made the crusades possible as a great European movement.' It was its decline in relative power as a determining motive of life which made them no longer possible.
It is hard for us at the end of the nineteenth century to understand how strong a controlling force this feeling was in a time when the motives and interests which shape our modern life had not come into existence, and when the nature and laws of a spiritual world were beyond the understanding even of the best. The dark terrors of the world of lost souls, which they crudely but vividly pictured to their minds as horrible physical torments, pressed upon them with a reality almost as immediate as that of the world in which they were really living. With their limited experience and scanty knowledge, and narrow range of interests, there were no sources open to them of other impressions with which to correct or balance these. The terror of an awful future hung over them constantly ; and to escape from it, to secure their safety in the life to come, was one of the most pressing and immediate necessities of the present life.1 But with the crude and physical conception of the future world, a crude and physical conception of the means of preparation for it was inevitable.
The history of monasticism, of pilgrimages, and of the whole penitential discipline of the church is full of instances to show that, in those days, there existed among the highest and most intelligent classes of the time an intensity of belief in the direct spiritual efficacy of physical penances which we hardly expect to find to-day in the most ignorant and superstitious. A pilgrim-age was not an expression of reverence for a saintly life, nor an act of worship even. It was in itself a religious act, securing merit and reward for the one who performed it, balancing a certain number of his sins, and making his escape from the world of torment hereafter more certain. The more distant and more difficult the pilgrimage, the more meritorious, especially if it led to such supremely holy places as those which had been sanctified by the presence of Christ himself.
A crusade was a stupendous pilgrimage, under especially favorable and meritorious conditions, so pro-claimed universally and so entered upon by the vast majority of those who took part in it. So long as this motive influenced strongly princes, and great nobles, and the higher classes, the men who really determined events, the great crusades were possible. When other interests of a more immediate sort rose in the place of this motive, its power declined, these men could no longer be led by it in the same way, and the crusades ceased.
But this last suggestion must be carried further back and recognized as of the utmost importance in aiding us to understand the reason for the crusades as well as for their cessation. It was an essential condition of the movement that all these motives and causes which favored the crusades combined together in their influence upon the men of the West at a time when no great interests had arisen at home to demand their attention and their energies. The time of the migration of the nations was past ; even the viking raids had ceased. The modern nations with their problems, hard to solve but pressing for solution, had not yet come into existence. Commerce was in its infancy, the Third Estate had hardly begun to form itself, and the revolution which it would work was still far off. None of these existed as yet, with the rival interests which they were soon to present to the duty of maintaining a Christian kingdom in the Holy Land, or even, with the pressure of an immediate necessity, to the duty of saving one soul by a penitential pilgrimage. All the energy and enthusiasm of the newly formed people had no other channel in which to flow. There was no other great and worthy object to which to devote themselves, and they devoted themselves to this so long as these notions and influences were not balanced by new and opposing ones.
That these motives were strongly at work through the whole eleventh century, and gradually turning men's minds toward crusades toward armed expeditions which should combine adventurous warfare and rich conquests from the Mohammedan world with the advantages of holy pilgrimages can easily be seen. Single men and small parties some time before had begun to undertake the Christian duty of fighting the infidel wherever he was to be found, and as the century drew to a close their numbers were constantly increasing.' The little Christian states of Spain were greatly aided in their contests with the Moors by reinforcements of this sort, and one of these precrusades led to the founding of the kingdom of Portugal. And also from almost every state of the West devoted knights had gone, even by the thousand, to aid the Greek emperor against the Turks before his appeal to the pope. Some of the Italian cities had combined their commercial interests and their Christian duty in attacks upon the Saracens of the western Mediterranean regions. In 1087 Pisa and Genoa, at the instigation of Pope Victor III., and under the holy banner of St. Peter, gained important successes in Tunis, and compelled the emir to recognize the overlordship of the pope. A little earlier Pope Gregory VII. had conceived the plan of sending a great army against the East to re-establish there the true faith, but his contest with the Emperor Henry IV. had allowed him no opportunity to carry out the plan. The overwhelming enthusiasm of the first crusade was the sudden breaking forth of a feeling which had long been growing in intensity, because now it had gained the highest possible sanction as the will of God and a favorable opportunity to express itself in action.
The crusades continued from the end of the eleventh to near the end of the thirteenth century, a period of about two hundred years. During this time eight crusades, as they are commonly reckoned, occurred, with many smaller expeditions of the same sort. Of these at least the first four, falling within the first hundred years, or barely more, are great European movements shared by many nations and thoroughly stirring the life of the West.
The first crusade was led by princes and great nobles of Normandy and of the royal house of France and of Toulouse, of eastern Germany and southern Italy. It went overland to Constantinople, forced its way through Asia Minor, captured Antioch from the Turks after a long siege, and with greatly reduced numbers, in 1099, stormed Jerusalem, then in possession of the Fatimite caliphs of Egypt. Its conquests it formed into a loosely organized feudal state, the kingdom of Jerusalem, divided into a number of great fiefs practically independent.
The second crusade, fifty years later, was led by the Emperor Konrad III. and by King Louis VII. of France on the news of the fall of Edessa, the outpost of the kingdom of Jerusalem against the Turks. It attempted to follow the overland route, but failed to find a passage through Asia Minor, and the remnants of the armies made the last part of the journey by sea. In the Holy Land it attempted nothing but a perfunctory attack on Damascus.
The third, which is perhaps the best known of the crusades, was set in motion by the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187. It was led by Richard the Lion-heart of England, Philip Augustus of France, and the Emperor Frederick I. The emperor followed the old overland route and died in Asia Minor. Richard and Philip made the passage wholly by sea. The difference in character of these two men, and the many causes of disagreement which existed between them, prevented any great success, and the crusade continued to be a failure after Philip returned to France, largely because of Richard's instability and lack of fixed purpose.
A decade after, under the greatest of the popes, Innocent III., the fourth crusade assembled, with high hopes, in northern Italy to be transported to Palestine by the Venetians, but it never saw its destination. It was turned into a great commercial speculation, captured Constantinople, and erected there the Latin empire, another feudal state, which lasted past the middle of the thirteenth century.
The later crusades need not be noticed. They are expeditions of single nations and lack the general character of the first four. The Emperor Frederick II. by treaty re-established for a brief time the kingdom of Jerusalem ; and St. Louis, at his death, in 1270, closed the series with the true spirit and high Christian motives of the ideal crusader.
In this line of events two things are to be especially noticed as characteristic, and as of assistance in enabling us to see the connection between the events themselves and the results which followed from them.
One of them is the different part taken in these expeditions by the states of Italy as compared with the other states. The Normans of the south enter into the first crusade like the other Europeans, and in some of the later crusades the feudal parts of Italy have their share. But, even in the first crusade, some of the city states of Italy appear as furnishing ships and conveying supplies to the real crusaders, and as time goes on this comes to be a more and more important share of the movement which falls to them. Italy does not furnish warriors ; it furnishes ships, transports men and supplies, not for re-wards in the world to come but for cash, sells and buys, and is constantly on the watch for commercial advantages.
The other fact is the gradual change in the route by which the crusaders reached the Holy Land as the period advanced. The first went wholly overland ; the second almost wholly, making only the last stage by water. Two of the three divisions of the third crusade went wholly by water, and all the later crusades, even that of Andrew of Hungary. There was a constantly increasing demand for ships and sailors, and a constantly increasing ability to meet that demand.
Before taking up in detail the results of the crusades it is important to notice one fact in the general history of the middle ages of which they are at once a sign and a further cause. They were a great common movement of all Europe, shared in alike in motive and spirit and action, and on equal terms, by all the nations of the West and by people of every rank. They are an indication, therefore, that the days of isolation and separation are passing away. In one direction, at least, common feelings and common ideals have come into existence through all the nations, and a consciousness of the common interests of the Christian world as against the Mohammedan. And these feelings were now held not merely by a person here and there, but by the great mass of men. Christendom, as a great international community which had never entirely ceased to exist since the days of Roman unity, had come to a clearer consciousness of itself.
That consciousness was now to grow constantly clearer and to embrace by degrees all sides of civilization. The crusades are themselves a great cause leading to this result. By bringing together the men of all nations, led by a common purpose and striving for a common object, they made them better acquainted with one another, created common needs and desires, and immensely stimulated intercommunication of all kinds manifestly the necessary conditions of a community of nations. It was because these things were so generally wanting that the feudal isolation of the preceding age had been possible. When they began to exist and to increase rapidly, as they did under the influence of the crusades, the modern common life of the world had begun to form itself, and a great step had been taken out of the middle ages.
It was no slight thing, also, that the age of the crusades was an age of intense excitement which seized equally upon those who stayed and those who went. It was a time when all men were stirred by a deep enthusiasm, and the almost stationary feudal society was profoundly moved through all its ranks. It is a common observation that whatever thus awakens the emotions of men and throws society into a ferment of feeling and action is a great impelling force which sets all the wheels of progress in motion and opens a new age of achievement.
Nor is it to be overlooked that they were on the whole generous motives and noble and high ideals which moved men in the crusades. There was selfishness and baseness in plenty no doubt, but the controlling emotion with the most of the crusaders was, beyond question, a lofty and ideal enthusiasm.
In the way of the increase of actual knowledge and of a direct influence upon learning, the immediate work of the crusades was not great. The Greeks in some respects, and the Saracens in many, were far in advance of the crusaders. The Christians had many things to learn of the Mohammedans, and did in the end learn them ; but it was not in the East nor in immediate connection with the crusades. Some few things were learned directly, especially in the line of geographical knowledge, but the great influence of the crusades upon learning was indirect, in creating a consciousness of ignorance and awakening a desire to know, so that the work of the crusades in this direction was to raise the level of general intelligence rather than to increase very greatly the knowledge of specific facts.
They gave to the people who took part in them the advantages of travel. They brought them into contact with new scenes and new peoples, and showed them other ways of doing things. Above all, they made them conscious of the fact that there were people in the world superior to themselves in knowledge and government and manners and all civilization, and that they had themselves many things to learn and to reform before they could really claim the high rank in the world which they had supposed they occupied. This fact is curiously illustrated in the increasing respect which the writers of the age show for the Mohammedans, and it is a most important fact in the history of civilization. The mind of the West was aroused and stimulated by contact with a higher civilization, although it had not yet discovered its best teachers nor the right road by which to reach true science. The intense intellectual eagerness of the last part of the twelfth and of the thirteenth centuries, though it led into the barren wastes of scholasticism, was the beginning of modern science and the first step toward the revival of learning.
We can trace the beginnings of this desire to know, as we can of so many other things which we call the results of the crusades, to times before these began. Even in the tenth century can be found many indications that the mind of Europe was beginning to awake, to feel an eager desire to learn, and even to be conscious of the fact that they must turn to the Arabs for instruction. Gerbert of Rheims—Sylvester II. is a precursor in spirit of Roger Bacon and of Laurentius Valla, as Scotus Erigena in the century before is of his greater name-sake of the thirteenth century. We should like to believe also that the heretics who were burned at Orleans in 1022 represent a faint stirring of that critical reason which makes a clearer demand in Abelard in regard to theology, and in the Albigenses and Waldenses in regard to practical Christianity.
But it is only in the thirteenth century that we reach the first great intellectual age since ancient history closed, one of the greatest, indeed, of all history. If the work to which it especially devoted itself, an abstract and speculative philosophy, has been left behind by the world's advance, it was nevertheless, in its day, one great step in that advance, and in the founding of the universities the century made a direct and permanent contribution to the civilization of the world.
The strongest and most decisive of the immediate influences of the crusades was that which they exerted upon commerce. They created a constant demand for the transportation of men and of supplies, built up of themselves a great carrying trade, improved the art of navigation, opened new markets, taught the use of new commodities, created new needs, made known new routes and new peoples with whom to trade, stimulated explorations, and in a hundred ways which cannot be mentioned introduced a new commercial age whose character and results must be examined in detail hereafter.
One of the most interesting direct results of the crusades in this direction was the extensive exploration of Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by Euro-pean travellers, of whom Marco Polo is the most familiar example, but only one of a host of men almost equally deserving of fame. There is nothing which illustrates better than these explorations the stimulus of the crusades, the energy and the broadening of mind, and the new ideas which are characteristic of the age.
In the political sphere the age is as full of change as elsewhere. The details must be reserved for a future chapter, but the general features may be indicated here. The great fact which is everywhere characteristic of the time is the rise into power of the Third Estate and the fall of the feudal noble from the political position which he had occupied. It will be seen later that, in the main, this was due to the increase of commerce and only indirectly to the crusades, but in one or two ways they directly aided in the process. The noble, influenced only by the feelings of his class, and thrown upon his own. resources for the expenses of his crusade, did not count the cost, or he hoped to gain greater possessions in the Holy Land than those he sacrificed at home. Large numbers of the old families were ruined and disappeared, and their possessions fell to anyone who was able to take advantage of the situation. Whether these lands passed into the hands of rich burghers, as they did in some cases, or not, was a matter of little importance, since the decline of the old nobility and the substitution for it of a new nobility was a great relative gain for the Third Estate as it was for the crown.
Wherever the royal power was in a position to take advantage of the changes of the time, as was notably the case in France, it gained constantly in relative strength, and by the time the crusades were over, feudalism had disappeared as a real political institution, and the modern state had taken its place not that the resistance of feudalism to this revolution was by any means over, but the opportunity for a complete victory was clearly before the king.
Of considerable significance also, in this direction, is the part which the lower classes of the population took in the crusades, seen most clearly perhaps in the first. It has the appearance to us of a general movement among the peasantry, and it was a sign, certainly, of discontent with their lot, a vague and ignorant feeling that improvement was possible in some way. It was an evidence also of some new confidence and self-reliance on their part, and no doubt it did in some instances improve their condition. This movement is, on the whole, how-ever, to be regarded like the peasant wars of later times, to which it is in its real character very similar, rather as the sign of a revolution which is slowly working itself out in other ways than as in itself a real means of advance.
These results, which have been briefly stated, when taken together indicate, clearly enough perhaps, the immediate changes which the crusades produced, and also why they came to an end when they did. The changes which they represent had created a new world. The old feelings and judgments and desires which had made the crusades possible no longer existed in their relative strength. New interests had arisen which men had not known before, but which now seemed to them of such supreme and immediate importance that they could not be called away from them to revive past and forgotten interests. The less intelligent part of the people, the dreamer, or the mind wholly centred in the church, might still be led by the old feelings, and might desire to continue the crusade, but the working mind of Europe could no longer be moved.
One point which has been briefly referred to already needs to be distinctly emphasized in closing the account of the age. The crusades work great changes, they clearly impart a powerful impetus to advance in every direction; a far more rapid progress of civilization dates from them. But it seems to be equally clear that in no single case do they originate the change. The beginnings of the advance go farther back into the comparatively unprogressive ages that precede them. The same changes would have taken place without them, though more slowly and with greater difficulty. Indeed we may say of the age of the crusades, as of every great revolutionary age in history, that it is a time, not so much of the creation of new forces, as of the breaking forth in unusual and unrestrained action of forces which have been for a long time at work beneath the surface, quietly and unobserved.
One most prominent institution of the middle ages, which deserves a fuller treatment than can be given it here, rose to its height during the crusades and in close connection with them that of chivalry. It goes back for the origin both of its forms and of its ideals to the early Germans. Certain forms which the primitive German tribes had in common arming the young warrior and the single combat for instance and certain conceptions of character and conduct which they especially emphasized personal bravery, truth-telling, and the respect for woman among them were developed, under the influence of the church and of Christianity, into the later ceremonies of chivalry, partly solemn and partly barbarous, and into the lofty but narrow ideal of conduct which it cherished. The arrangements of the feudal system rendered easy the prevalence of its forms, and the spirit of the crusading age heightened its conception of character and made it seem like a universal duty, so that it came, for two or three centuries, to occupy a large place in the life of the time, and relatively a larger place in literature than in life.
In the fifteenth century chivalry as an external institution, a matter of forms and ceremonies, rapidly declined. The ideal of social conduct and character which it created never passed away, on the contrary, but be-came a permanent influence in civilization. In English we express very much the same ideal in certain uses of the word gentleman, in the phrase " the true gentle-man," for example, and, in most respects, no better description of that character can be made now than was made by Chaucer, in the description of the knight, in his prologue to the " Canterbury Tales," at the close of the age of chivalry.' The reason why this modern conception of social character insists so strongly upon certain virtues, and omits entirely all consideration of certain others, equally or even more essential to a really high character, is to be found in the peculiar conditions of the age of chivalry, its ethical limitations and its class relations.
It was, as far as it went, a Christian ideal of life and manners truth, loyalty, uniform and unbroken courtesy, bravery, devotion to the service of the weak, especially of one's own class, the sacrifice of self to others in certain cases, the seeking of the place of danger when one is responsible for others and such an ideal would certainly have come into civilization in some way. Historically it was through chivalry that it became a social law. In making up a full account, however, the other fact must be included, that the universal prevalence of the chivalric standard may have made the proper emphasis of other virtues, which it omitted, more difficult than it would otherwise have been.
We have reached with the crusades, then, the turning-point of the middle ages. From this time on, history grows more diversified, and we cannot, as heretofore, follow a single line of development and include within it the whole field. Three or four great lines of progress run through the closing half of medieval history, lines which are easily distinguished from one another and which are important enough for separate treatment. They will be taken up in the following order, which is roughly the natural relation of their dependence one upon another. First, the commercial development ; second, the formation of the modern nations ; third, the revival of learning ; fourth, the changes in the ecclesiastical world ; and finally, the Reformation, the age of transition to modern history.
While we separate these lines from one another for convenience of study, it must be carefully remembered that they are constantly related to one another, that they influence one another at every step of the progress, and that perhaps a new advance in some one of them is more frequently dependent upon an advance in another line than upon one in its own. The attempt will be made to make this interdependence of the various lines of activity as evident as possible, but it should never be lost sight of by the reader.