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AFTER the lapse of eight hundred years the story of the crusades still furnishes the most fascinating, if not the most instructive, pages of Christian history. Romance has entertained the generations from the days of the Italian Tasso to those of Walter Scott with the rude yet chivalric characters of those mediaeval times. Ponderous knights and dashing emirs, fair women and saintly apparitions, continue to move over the mimic stage of the imagination. Poetry, in all the tongues of modern Europe, draws its imagery from scenes that were enacted while these languages were being formed from their classic or barbaric originals. The hymnology of the church is enriched by the songs of those who caught their rhythm from the march of the crusading host. Bernard of Clugny watched the salvation armies of the olden time as they sauntered by his cloister window. Now catching their spirit, and anon oppressed with their failure to express the truest prowess of the believer's soul, he tried to lift men's faith to the Jerusalem above:

0 happy band of pilgrims,

If onward ye will tread I

With Jesus as your fellow

To Jesus as your head!

Thou hast no shore, fair ocean;

Thou hast no time, bright day;

Dear fountain of refreshment

To pilgrims on the way.

"Upon the Rock of Ages

They raise thy holy tower;

Thine is the victor's laurel,

And thine the golden dower.


Our newest songs catch the very gleam of those battle days. For example:


Onward, Christian soldiers,

Marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus

Going on before!


is not unlike the chorus of a Latin hymn of Berthier of Orleans, which was sung under the tent and on the field :

Lignum crucis

Signum ducis

Sequitur exercitus;

Quod non cessit

Sed praecessit

In vi Sancti Spiritus."

The student of human nature, also, will find here his most subtle and perplexing, but at the same time his most suggestive, subjects. Never before or since was there such exalted faith combined with such grotesque superstition, such splendid self-sacrifice mingled with cruel and unrestrained selfishness, such holy purpose with its wings entangled, torn, and besmeared in vicious environments.

I. Problem of the Crusades.

To the historical scholar this period is unsurpassed in importance by any, if we except the days of the birth of Christianity. The age of the crusades covers the eleventh and twelfth centuries. For two hundred years, to use the vigorous language of the Greek-princess Anna Conmena, who witnessed the first crusade, "Europe was loosened from its foundations and hurled against Asia". As an Alpine glacier presses down into the valley, only to melt away at the summer line, yet with renewed snows repeals the fatal experiment from year to year, so seven times Western Christendom replenished its mighty armaments, to see them destroyed at the border-land of Oriental conquest.

To define the causes of these vast movements is a task which both tempts and tantalizes the historian. It is surely unlearned to ascribe even the first crusade to the sole influence of any man, though he were an Urban II and wielded the temporal and spiritual authority of the Papacy in its most puissant days. It is puerile to say, as Midland does, speaking of Peter the Hermit, "The glory of delivering Jerusalem belongs to a single pilgrim, possessed of no other power than the influence of his character and genius." It is equally uncritical, if not blasphemous, to attribute these most unfortunate and ill-timed ventures to the Almighty, as the same writer does in these words: "No power on earth could have produced such a great revolution. It only belonged to Him whose will gives birth to and disperses tempests to throw all at once into human hearts that enthusiasm which silenced all other passions and drew on the multitude as if by an invisible power."

To even approximate an understanding of this subject, one must first become familiar with the great racial movements which culminated in that age; must be able to estimate the tendencies of society at a time when it knew not the forces which were struggling within itself; must penetrate the policies of statesmen and ecclesiastics who veiled their ambition under the self-delusion that they were serving God or their fellow-men; and, besides all this, he must gauge the passions and habits of common people, their ignorance and superstition, if not the true heavenly ardor which led them to offer themselves as fuel for the most stupendous human sacrifice the world has known. Were one thus equipped with information, one's philosophical judgment might still be baffled with the inquiry, What was the chief cause of the crusades? An observation of Dean Milman is especially applicable to this subject: "When all the motives which stir the human mind and heart, the most impulsive passion and the profoundest policy, conspire together, it is impossible to discover which is the dominant influence in guiding to a certain course of action." The mighty tide of events we are to consider was not unlike a vast river which sweeps through many lands and has many tributary streams, some of whose sources are hidden in the depth of the unexplored wilderness.

Our preliminary study will therefore be wisely limited to an inquiry into the conditions of life and thought in the eleventh century which facilitated or prompted the great movement.

These Conditions were Prominently :

1.  The intellectual and moral state of society in the eleventh  century, especially its rudeness and warlike spirit.

2. The institution of chivalry, the awakening of better ideals of heroism.

3. The feudal system, which provided for the easy mobilization of men in war or adventure.

4. The impoverished condition of Europe, which forced enterprise to seek its reward in foreign countries.

5. The papal policy to consolidate and universalize the ecclesiastical empire.

6. The menace of Mohammedanism under the Saracenic and Turkish powers.

7. The prevailing superstition, which credited to pilgrimage the virtues of piety, and substituted exploits in the Holy Land for the plainer duties of holy life.


CARDINAL BARONIUS, the historian of the church down to the year 1198, designated the period which then closed as the Dark Ages. The propriety of the title has insured its perpetuity. The era of the crusades is almost evenly divided by the date which all scholars, following Baronius, regard as marking the end of the worst and the beginning of better times. The eleventh and twelfth centuries were the battle-ground on which the grim spectres of the old met the bright advancing spirits of the new civilization.

It must be remembered that the peoples then dominant were the descendants of those barbaric hordes whose irruption from northern Europe and western Asia had swept away the Roman empire. The fierce spirit of the Frank in Gaul, of the Goth in Spain, and of the Lombard in Italy was not yet tempered by the arts and philosophy their fathers had so nearly destroyed, and whose renaissance had not yet begun.

It was but a few generations since the people that had inherited the Roman civilization had been largely exterminated. So complete had been the ravage that in the eighth century much of the land in Italy still remained forest and marsh, a condition to which it had reverted. Parcels of ground were purchased by strangers as eremi, the title secured by the fact of having cleared and cultivated any given spot. The reader can readily paint his own picture of the society which settled these lands by recalling such facts as that from 900 to 930 Italy was under the Huns; in 911 Normandy was conquered by Rollo the Dane; in 1029 the Normans possessed themselves of the south of Italy.

Culture, however, was not entirely extinct. The age produced many fine specimens of what is best in manhood and womanhood, although, in comparison with the general condition, these were like sporadic bushes on the breast of a land-slide, whose roots have maintained their hold through the rushing debris, or which have sprung up afresh in the new soil.

There were some men whose genius and virtues would have adorned any age. Among these was Gerbert, Pope Sylvester II (died 1003), whose attainments in science led to the legend that he was in communication with the devil. Lanfranc (1005-89), the monk of Bec and Caen, whom William the Conqueror appointed to the see of Canterbury, is still renowned for his great logical ability and biblical scholarship. Anselm (1033-1109) merited the praise which Dante bestowed upon him as among the worthiest spirits he saw in paradise. Berenger (998-1088), though discredited for heresy, possessed a prowess and independence of mind which made him the forerunner of the later Reformers. Hildebrand (1020 (?)-85), however we may reprobate the hardness of his ambition and the tyrannical nature of his projects, must be recognized as among the greatest of mankind for astuteness of judgment and ability to execute the most gigantic and hazardous plans. Abelard (1079-1142) was a lad of sixteen at the time of the first crusade, but had begun to puzzle his teacher, William of Champeaux, in his dialectical tilts, deriding the obsolete method of inquiry, and declaring that it was more sport to debate than to fight in a tournament. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), whose pen was to control Christendom for a generation, and whose sainthood shines through all ages, was in the nursery when the soldiers of the cross started for the East.

There were noble women, too. Bernard owed much of his talent and virtue to his mother, Aletta, whose memory is the imperishable ornament of womanhood. The great Countess Matilda spoke many languages, was chosen counselor of Pope Gregory VII, and won her place in Dante's catalogue of saints as the celestial messenger heralding the chariot throne of the glorified Beatrice. The praise of the great crusading captain Godfrey halos his mother, Ida of Bouillon, to whom he confessed that, next to the grace of God, he owed whatever goodness made him beloved of men.

The intellectuality of this period exercised itself almost entirely with theological and religious subjects. Men in seclusion elaborated and defended existing church doctrines, and gave pious flight to their imaginations. But of literature as such there was none; even the Troubadours had not begun to rhyme the Provençal tongue. The hot breath of the crusades themselves forced the debris of the Latin to send out its first flowers of poesy.

In this age at least may be discerned the budding of a taste and sentiment that betokened the refinement of after times. Gothic architecture, the first efflorescence of the Northern genius after it had been planted in the soil of Southern art, now appeared in such buildings as the cathedrals of Pisa, Modena, Parma, Siena, Strasburg, Treves, Worms, Mayence, Basel, Chartres, Brussels, and the foundation of St. Mark's in Venice. The dreaded year 1000 having safely passed without the anticipated destruction of the world, faith reinspired art to build temples on earth. New monasteries appeared, palatial in structure, to accommodate the people who sought in seclusion escape from the hardness or the dreariness of life in the world.

It must, however, be recognized that whatever brilliancy of intelligence, beauty of character, or enterprise appeared betokened a coming rather than illustrated a passing age, like the wild flowers that shoot from the cold ground in the early spring. To picture these brighter things, were the genial task pursued to any great extent, would endanger the accuracy of the impression made upon the reader's mind. Hallam truly says of this period: "History which reflects only the more prominent features of society cannot exhibit the virtues that were scarcely able to struggle through the general depravation."


This was an age of gross ignorance. The art of making paper from cotton had just been discovered, and, while it contributed somewhat to the diffusion of knowledge by giving cheaper manuscript books than those on vellum, the world was to wait four centuries longer for the printing-press to popularize the habit of seeking information. The few manuscripts which existed were the property of monasteries or of the nobility, who kept them as articles of furniture rather than for their practical use. We have a verbal monument to the ignorance of these times in the expression we still use when we speak of "signing", or making a mark to signify, one's name. In the ninth century Herbaud, the supreme judge of the empire, could not write his name, and as late as the fourteenth century Du Guesclin, high constable of France, was equally innocent of letters. One of their contemporaries gives this tribute to the ecclesiastics of the time: "They were given rather to the gullet than to the tongue. They preferred to be schooled in salmon rather than in Solomon". Few priests could translate the breviary they recited with parrot tongues. Of the history of the grand civilization just behind them the people knew nothing; even the laws which had so long preserved the state and society, those of Justinian, were forgotten except in some cloisters, where they were studied as classic lore.

The practical methods of modern inquiry into the meaning of the world, the incessant discovery of new resources in nature for the comfort and luxury of living, have stimulated and enlarged the human mind; and in the new interests thus created men have found a healthful diversion alike from the engrossments of animalism and the morbid fancies of superstition. But in the time we are studying there was no real scientific thought that was not instantly suppressed by the authorities of the church as the suggestion of heretics or of the Saracens. Roger Bacon, who flourished so late as the close of the crusades, paid with fourteen years' imprisonment for his temerity in proposing the more rational methods of viewing the world, which his great namesake, Francis Bacon, three hundred and fifty years later, more completely formulated for general acceptance.

The industrial arts had been lost or had come to be entirely neglected after the barbaric conquest which swept away the Roman civilization, and during the centuries since there had been scarcely any attempt to revive them. The very faculty of invention seems to have become paralyzed by disuse. It was not until 1148 that Roger of Sicily established a silk factory at Palermo, which, Hallam says, "gave the earliest impulse to the industry of Italy."

Such times were necessarily marked by the narrow limitation and degradation of common life.

The vast majority of people lived in the country, in complete isolation from their fellows, seeking sustenance in most primitive ways from the breast of mother nature; or they were huddled together in rude hamlets under the walls of the castles, whose lords enslaved while they protected them; for such was the chaotic condition of society that everyone was compelled to seek safety with service under some possessor of a stronghold. Cities there were, crowded with dense masses of humanity, the breeding-places of all sorts of vice and social disorder. Towns owe their existence to some community of interest, such as similar industrial pursuits or convenience for trade; these, of course, had scarcely begun to spring up.

If the immediate environment of the common man furnished no stimulus to enterprise, neither was it provided by anything beyond his neighborhood. Without a system of monetary exchange, trade was limited to barter or to the purchasing power of purse and belt. A brief journey with merchandise was executed with hazard. Every petty lord exacted toll of those who passed the border of his estate. Many of the occupants of the castles lived by open robbery, and kept men-at-arms, as they kept their falcons, to pounce upon their prey. Not only the goods, the persons also of travelers were regarded as legitimate booty, the victims being held for ransom and often sold as slaves. So enterprising were these robber knights that it is said to have been dangerous for the king to go from Paris to St.-Denis without an army at his back. The armed merchantman rode generally with lance in rest. In towns, says Thierry, "nobles, sword in hand, committed robbery on the burghers, and in turn the burghers committed violence upon the peasants who came to buy or sell at the market of the town".

There was considerable foreign commerce on the Mediterranean. The merchants of Pisa, Genoa, and Venice were in rivalry with those of Byzantium, and with the Saracens who held the ports of Spain and North Africa. But, as what are known as maritime laws were not agreed upon until the thirteenth century, commerce was little more than piracy. The trade vessels were burdened with men for their defense, or for rifling the cargoes of less puissant marauders. The mariner's compass had been invented, but was not in common use, so that trade was compelled to follow the coast-lines, in perpetual hazard of wreck and robbers. There was no importation of things for common use; the labor and danger of transportation limited the articles of trade to those of rarest value, which became the spoil of the powerful or the purchase of the rich. The ordinary man received no benefit from other neighborhoods than his own, except that the air of heaven was sweetened by its passage over the mountains and seas which separated him from his kind.

It is difficult for us to realize what must have been the inane stupidity of the ordinary lives of men. Homes were almost as dreary in their outward appointments as the nests of eagles or the caves of beasts. In the city were narrow apartments of stone or the shanty with its mud-built walls, often as contracted as the cells of the monastery and as damp and fetid as the vaults of the prison; so that the monk lost little of this world's comfort in entering his religious retreat, and the prisoner might think himself happy at times in being better housed than he would have been had he made his home with honest toil. If one lived in the country the habitation was a hut but little better than the shelter provided for cattle. Indeed, in many cases the "ox knew his owner" from having slept on the same straw, and the "ass his master's crib" from its proximity to the family table. The floor of the rude domicile was of earth or stone, the windows unglazed, so that to exclude the winter weather was to shut out the light also. A hole in the roof scarcely sufficed to carry off the smoke from the stoveless fires. No books entertained man's thoughts, no pictures pleased his eye; his news was the gossip of oft-told tales, his faith such as a priest, himself unable to read, might impose upon his less intelligent parishioners. Even the peasant's liberty of his own solitude was denied him; he could not range the woods nor float upon the streams at his pleasure. We are told of certain instances where the rustics rebelled against these restrictions imposed upon them. "They took short cuts through the woods, or used the fords and rivers at will;" but they were punished by the knights, who "cut off the hands and feet of the trespassers." If the rich were better conditioned, their residences were unfurnished with that which the middle classes in our day regard as necessary to comfort and decency. The bounty of the table was without variety. Apparel, however gay, was such as could be wrought by the women of the household. The tapestries which excite our admiration were the product of untold toil or purchased at vast expense. Within the castle was spacious monotony, relieved too generally by the grossness of private debauch; without was the wilderness, threaded by roads that were unfit for wheeled vehicles, menaced by wild beasts and more dangerous men.

The common recreation of the lordly classes was hunting and hawking, bear-baiting and fighting. Men rode with sword and spear, the ubiquitous falcon on arm, and hounds in leash. So universal were such pastimes that, in lack of more intellectual and refined resources, the highest dignitaries of the church displayed the weapons of the chase together with the insignia of their sacred office. So much of life was wasted in these amusements that the Council of the Lateran, in 1180, forbade the bishops indulging in these sports while on their pastoral journeys. Previously Pope Alexander III (1159-64), by special edict, relieved the common clergy from the necessity of keeping the archdeacons in hounds and falcons during their visits to the churches.

Such a limitation of the more generous and worthy interests of mankind, which stimulate and enlarge the mind, left the common intelligence in an almost infantile condition. Sismondi says that even the nobles came to count it a duty not to think. One can readily believe this on recalling the titles given at court to the various royal personages who graced it: Pepin the Short, Charles the Bald, William the Red, Louis the Fat, etc.

Fancy, however, will generally survive the failure of the logical and aesthetic faculties, and thus men become the easy prey of superstition. All sorts of stories of things supernatural, the invention of designing priests or born of the surprise of ignorance at the unusual in nature, were believed without question. The winds that rustled the leaves of the forest were supposed to be the voices of saintly ghosts, and when with wintry weight the}' moaned through the branches or screeched along the icy rocks, it was believed that the damned were groaning in their pains or that demons were threatening men. Every flash or shadow that could not readily be explained was regarded as a hopeful or vengeful apparition from the unseen world. This credulity was not confined to the illiterate and boorish. The chroniclers of that age, upon whose learning we depend for the facts of our history, relate with equal gravity the deeds of demons and men, connect the doings of courts and the course of comets, and intermingle in relation of cause and effect the storms of nature and the wars of nations. Thus superstition completed the work of mental inoccupancy, as vermin and bats inhabit an unfurnished cell.

Such a condition of the mental faculties could have only a deleterious influence on the moral sense. We are not, therefore, surprised to find the conscience of the age correspondingly crude.

This ethical degradation was reflected in the low state of the laws, if the changeable wills or whims of a host of petty lords can be dignified with the title of legislation. Power claimed possession with little regard for the method of acquisition. Disputes, when relegated to the pretence of a court, were tried not by weighing evidence, but by counting the number of compurgators, that is, of those persons who would swear that they believed the oath of one or the other party. When the contestants were gentlemen or of the noble order, the cases were arbitrated on the field of Private Combat. Even the judge or referee of the combat was himself liable to challenge from either party that felt itself aggrieved by his decision. Priests, invalids, and women were accustomed to choose someone from among their relatives or friends to champion their cause. There was no appeal to candid judgment after a full hearing of the facts, except in case of dispute between slaves, villains, and freemen of inferior condition, whose owners or lords might be disposed to fair dealing. A relic of the mediaeval custom of private combat is the modern duel.

The personal encounter often grew to the dimensions of neighborhood war, in which kinsmen and retainers were involved until entire districts were laid waste. Neither the power of Charlemagne nor that of the church prevailed against this unreasonable custom. The one exception to this statement was the temporary lull in the carnage during what was known as the Truce of God, an expedient agreed upon in certain places, according to which raids and riots were confined to the half of the week succeeding the Sabbath. But the adoption of this merciful rule forces our attention to its necessity, since "man's inhumanity to man" was destroying entire populations as in a deluge of blood.

When for any reason the combat was inexpedient the question of right was decided by the Ordeal. The accused party presumed to walk through fire or on burning ploughshares, to handle hot iron, float upon water, plunge the bare arm into a boiling caldron, or swallow a bit of consecrated bread with appeal to Heaven to strike one dead if guilty. If one endured the Ordeal unscathed he was said to be acquitted by the judgment of God. It is not necessary to explain the apparent impunity with which some of the worst criminals passed these trials, nor to cite the multitude of cases in which persons of otherwise undoubted innocence were adjudged guilty because they perished in this irrelevant attempt to vindicate themselves. The fact that questions involving the most sacred rights of the individual, such as the holding of property, the protection of the body from mutilation on the rack, the retaining of life, and the vindication of character, were not so much as brought to the court of intelligence and conscience argues the degradation of both these faculties.

If further evidence be needed that the very sense of justice had become largely extinguished, it is found in the prevalence of judicial perjury, allowed, and even prompted, by legalized custom. Before the combat both parties were required to partake of the sacrament, in which act one of the contestants, being guilty, was forced to commit sacrilege. Witnesses were sworn upon the relics of the saints; but, notwithstanding these things were believed to have in them a limitless power to help or hurt those who touched their sacred incasements, the people seem to have credited the righteousness of the dead as little as the impartiality of the living, and the guilty were accustomed to perjure themselves without dread of consequences. The soul of good Robert of France was so afflicted by the universal consciencelessness in this respect that he devised an expedient for averting the wrath of the saints, who might justly avenge the slight put upon their bones. He ordered that the relics should be secretly removed from the casket that was supposed to contain them, so that the would-be perjurer might not actually commit the crime he intended. If this act illustrated the mercy, it also displayed the lack of true moral sentiment in him who, in contrast with his fellows, was known as the "good king."

Such stifling of the sense of justice was quite naturally attended by the suppression of the gentler emotions of kindness and humanity. This was an age of almost incredible cruelty. Natural affection, of course, survived in the love of parents and children, husbands and wives. There were delightful friendships which illumined the social gloom like threads of gold in some dark fabric. Men and women lived and died for one another, as they will always do while a lineament of the divine remains in the human. But, beyond the fascination of the individual and the obligations of kinship, the sentiment of love seemed unknown to the masses. The founders of the great benevolent orders, men like Dominic and Francis of Assisi, oppressed by this deadness to the essential Christian spirit, were in the near future to unbind the hearts of men that they might come forth to more generous life; but that day had not yet come. Men apparently had lost the sympathetic imagination by which the pains and grief of the unfortunate are transferred to the hearts of others. Dean Stanley remarks of even the thirteenth century that "the age had no sense of obligation to the poor and middle class". It was still needful that riders should repeat the dying counsel of Charlemagne to his sons, "not to deprive widows and orphans of their remaining estates".

This insensibility to the needs of others was accompanied by a positive gratification in scenes of cruelty. The popular stories which mothers taught their children were in praise of heroes whom we would regard as butchers and bruisers. A favorite legend was of Renoart, the flower of early Chivalry—he of the ugly visage and gigantic frame, whose mace laid open the brains of his antagonists, and who broke the skull of the monk who refused to indulge his whim of exchanging clothes with him. What child of that age had not heard of Roland, the hero of Roncesvalles, whose unstinted praises went far to form the manly habits of many generations? He was an enfant terrible, who tore his swaddling-clothes in pieces, belabored his mother furiously, and gave early promise of his prowess by beating lifeless the porter of the castle who would not let him go out to play. And how charming Roland's love-making to the fair Aude! He saw her for the first time amid the galaxy of beauties assembled to witness his combat with Oliver. Unable to restrain his passion, he rushed from the lists, threw himself upon her, and would have carried her off bodily had not Oliver given him one of those blows the echo of which has rung the praises of this mediaeval prize-fighter down the ages.

But the people of the eleventh century did not need to go back to an earlier era for examples of this sort of manliness. Foulques the Black, the greatest of the counts of Anjou (987-1040), was pious enough to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but not sufficiently humane to refrain from burning his young wife at the stake, decked for her doom in her gayest attire. He was so humble that he paraded the streets of the Holy City with a halter about his neck, while the blood streamed from the scourge-wounds on his shoulders, yet he forced his own son to be bridled and saddled like an ass and to crouch on all fours at his feet. Of the whole line of Anjou at this period the historian Green remarks that "their shameless wickedness degraded them below the level of man". The house of Normandy contested the palm of greatness with the Angevins, but were equally rude. When William of Normandy, afterwards the Conqueror of England, learned that Baldwin of Flanders had refused him his daughter Matilda in marriage, the chronicle says "he forced his way into the countess's chamber, found the daughter, took her by her tresses, dragged her about the room, and trampled her under his feet". The young lady does not seem to have been grieved by the violence of the wooing, but rather to have acquired a better appreciation of the lordly qualities of her future husband. We may be permitted to doubt the accuracy of this story, but the fact that it was so early chronicled and generally believed attests the popular taste. William Rufus (1056-1100) is thus described by one who knew him: "The outrager of humanity, of law, and of nature; beastly in his pleasures, a murderer and blasphemous scoffer." Henry I of England (1068-1135) put out the eyes of his brother Robert and of his two grandchildren, and forced his daughter to cross a frozen fosse, stripped half naked.

The penalties under law also revealed the hardness of men's hearts. Criminals were hung by their feet, by  their necks, or by their thumbs, with burning matter fastened upon some part of the body; they were put into dungeons with snakes, and into cages too small to allow the full motion of the limbs; they were made to wear wooden or iron collars of enormous weight, so arranged that the culprit could take no position without feeling the burden.

In battle the soldier was to despise the bow, his delight to face the enemy at point of sword, his glory the blood that bespattered him from the gurgling arteries of the foe, or that trickled from his own wounds. No Fabian policy gave éclat to the warrior; victory was measured by the heaps of the slain, not by the progress of the cause. No quarter was ordinarily given or expected on the capture of strongholds; and not infrequently the entire surviving population of conquered cities paid with their lives the penalty for having permitted themselves to be defended by the vanquished. Raymond of Toulouse we shall learn to admire as our story advances. He was one of the most self-restrained and chivalric of the early crusaders; yet he put out the eyes and cut off the noses of his captives, and sent them thus mutilated to their homes, as a warning to their neighbors not to molest the march of the "soldiers of the cross". Of this act of atrocity the chronicler of the day remarks: "It is not easy to do justice to the bravery and wisdom conspicuously displayed by the count here". Too commonly the innocence of childhood, the venerableness of age, and the sacredness of sex were indiscriminately outraged by the license of conquest.

The love of war for its own sake was the dominant passion of such people. When no plausible pretext could be urged for declaration of hostilities, it burst out between neighborhoods as by spontaneous combustion. Raids and counter-raids took the place of the commercial rivalries of later times.

From the days of Charlemagne it had been the custom to signalize entrance upon manhood by buckling about the loins the sword, the investment with "virile arms". The church, in hopeless inability to check the universal passion for fight, sought only to direct it to the suppression of ecclesiastical enemies. Pope Paschal (1099) exhorted Count Robert of Flanders to persecute to the utmost the Emperor Henry, saying: "By such battles you shall obtain a place in the heavenly Jerusalem". Bernard, without dispute the holiest man of the next century, offered no excuse or pallia­tion for his harangue to the faithful: "Let them kill the enemy or die. To submit to die for Christ, or to cause one of His enemies to die, is naught but glory."

Very characteristic is the story of the death of the youthful Vivien, as told in the famous "Chansons de Geste," composed about this time, though its alleged events belong to an earlier date. Vivien was the nephew of that William of Orange whose name is associated with the rise of knighthood, as that of the later William of Orange is with a nobler patriotism. There had been a fearful fight. Vivien was mortally wounded, and lay dying ere he had partaken of his first sacrament. The older warrior bent over him on the corpse-strewn field :

"You must confess to me, because I am your nearest relative and there is no priest here."

The failing lips of the lad began the confession of the sins of his brief lifetime. He could think of but a single offence against God or his own nature; so heinous was his conception of the greatness of this one crime that it blotted out the memory of all else. What was this monstrous iniquity?

"I made a vow that I would never retreat one step before an enemy, and this day I have failed to keep my oath".

William raised the head of the dying boy, placed the consecrated wafer, which he was accustomed to carry for such emergencies, between the eager lips of Vivien, and watched the young soul as, without fear or misgiving, it went to the judgment of Him who is preeminently the God of battles.

In the wars of this period a common sight was that of bishops and archbishops, clad in coats of mail, riding through the streets of their episcopal towns on fierce chargers, and returning to their palaces clotted with dirt and blood. That was a deserved rebuke, as well as a fine sarcasm, with which Richard Coeur de Lion sent the blood-stained armor of the Bishop of Beauvais to the Pope, as the garment of Joseph to Jacob, asking the Holy Father if he recognized his son's coat.

Even women on occasion put on armor and mingled in the mêlée. Gaita, the wife of Robert Guiscard, fought in the front rank of the Normans in their conflict with the Greeks. When the crusades were in progress many a fair woman adopted the martial costume. The Amazonian Brunhilde is scarcely overdrawn by Scott in "Count Robert of Paris", and the Moslem heroines of Tasso's "Jerusalem Delivered," stripped of their supernatural resources, might have figured in the Christian camp.

Walter Scott put into the mouth of the Greek Nicephorus a pertinent description of his fellow-Christians of the West: "To whom the strife of combat is as the breath of their nostrils, who, rather than not be engaged in war, will do battle with their nearest neighbors and challenge each other to mortal fight, as much in sport as we would defy a comrade to a chariot-race."

It is but just to say that, if the Greeks were amazed at the warlike propensities of the Catholics, they expressed no wonder at their cruelty. In this they themselves even excelled their more robust rivals. The dungeons of Constantinople were filled with political offenders whose eyes were torn from their sockets; and more than one imperial candidate resumed his place of honor among a people whose waving banners he was unable to see. The Greek differed from the Frank and German, the Norman and Saxon, chiefly in being a coward and choosing to glut his brutal instincts with the use of the secret torture, the poisoned cup, or the dagger in the back of his victim, rather than with the sword and battle-axe in open fight.

To a people such as we have described the appeal for the crusades, in which the imagined cause of heaven marched in step with their own tastes and habits, was irresistible.


THE call for the crusades, while appealing powerfully to the warlike disposition of the people, would not have succeeded in rousing Europe had there not been in the popular heart at least the germs of nobler sentiment. The vitality of conscience notwithstanding its degradation, and an inclination towards the exercise of the finer graces of conduct in spite of the prevalent grossness, manifested themselves in the rise of Chivalry.

The picturesqueness of knight-errantry, and the glamour thrown over the subject by poetry and romance, may mislead us as to the real character of this institution. We must distinguish between the ideals of knighthood and the actual lives of those who, from various motives, thronged the profession. We must not confound the Chivalry of these earlier and ruder ages with that of its more refined, though somewhat effeminate, later days. It would be an equal mistake to pose the half-savage Saxon for a picture of the gallant Provençal, because they were fellows of the same order. But, making all allowance for variations, defects, and perversions in Chivalry, the institution went far towards redeeming the character of the middle ages. Among the articles of the chivalric code were the following:

To fight for the faith of Christ. In illustration of this part of his vow, the knight always stood with bared head and unsheathed sword during the reading of the lesson from the gospels in the church service.

To serve faithfully prince and fatherland.

To defend the weak, especially widows, orphans, and damsels.

To do nothing for greed, but everything for glory.

To keep one's word, even returning to prison or death if, having been captured in fair fight, one had promised to do so.

Together with these vows of real virtue were others, which signified more for the carnal pride of the warrior, e.g. :

Never to fight in companies against one opponent.

To wear but one sword, unless the enemy displayed more than one.

Not to put off armor while upon an adventure, except for a night's rest.

Never to turn out of a straight road in order to avoid danger from man, beast, or monster.

Never to decline a challenge to equal combat, unless compelled to do so by wounds, sickness, or other equally reasonable hindrance.

The aspirant for knighthood began his career in early boyhood by attending some superior as his page.   Lads of noblest families sought to be attached to the persons of those renowned in the order, though not to their own fathers, lest their discipline should be over-indulgent. Frequently knights of special note for valor and skill at arms opened schools for the training of youth. The page was expected to wait upon his lord as a body-servant in the bedchamber, the dining-hall, and, when consistent with his tender years, upon the journey and in the camp. It was a maxim of the code that one "should learn to obey before attempting to govern."

With the development of manly strength, at about his fourteenth year the page became an esquire. He then burnished and repaired the armor of his chief, broke his steeds, led his charger, and carried his shield to the field of battle. In the mêlée he fought by his master's side, nursed him when wounded, and valued his own life as naught when weighed against his lord's safety or honor.

The faithful esquire was adubbed a knight at the will and by the hand of his superior. This honor was sometimes awarded on the field of conflict for a specially valiant deed. More commonly the heroic subalterns were summoned to receive the coveted prize when the fight was done. More than one in­stance is mentioned where the esquire bowed his head beneath the dead hand of his master and there assumed the duty of completing the enterprise in which his chief had fallen. Ordinarily, however, the cere­mony was held in the castle hall, or in later times in the church, on the occasion of some festival or upon the candidate's reaching the year of his majority.


The rite of admission to knighthood was made as impressive as possible. The young-man, having come from the bath, was clothed in a white tunic, expressive of the purity of his purpose; then in a red robe, symbolical of the blood he was ready to shed; and in a black coat, to remind him of the death that might speedily be his portion. After fasting, the candidate spent the night in prayer. In the morning the priest administered to him the holy com­munion, and blessed the sword which hung from his neck. Attendant knights and ladies then clothed him in his armor. Kneeling at the feet of the lord, he received from him the accolade, three blows with the flat of the sword upon his shoulder, with the repetition of the formula, "In the name of God, St. Michael, and St. George, I make you a knight."

More impressive, because more unusual, was the ceremony of his degradation, if he broke his plighted faith or forfeited his honor. He was exposed on a platform, stripped of his armor, which was broken to pieces and thrown upon a dunghill. His shield was dragged in the dirt by a cart-horse, his own charger's tail was cut off, while he was himself carried into a church on a litter, and forced to listen to the burial service, since he was now to move among men as one who was dead to the honor for which he had vowed to live.

The chief defect of Chivalry was that, while it displayed some of the finer sentiments of the soul in contrast with the general grossness of the age, it did not aspire to the highest motives as these were felt in the early days of Christianity and as they are again apprehended in modern times. Notwithstanding the vow of devotion, there was little that was altruistic about it. The thought of the devotee was ultimately upon himself, his renown and glory. His crested helmet, his gilded spurs, his horse in housing of gold, and the scarlet silk which marked him as apart from and above his fellows, were not promotive of that humility and self-forgetfulness from which all great moral actions spring. Our modern characterization of the proud man is borrowed from the knight's leaving his palfrey and mounting his charger, or, as it was called, getting "on his high horse". In battle the personality of the knight was not, as in the case of the modern soldier, merged in the autonomy of the brigade or squadron; he appeared singly against a selected antagonist of equal rank with his own, so that the field presented the appearance of a multitude of private combats. In the lull of regular warfare he sought solitary adventures for gaining renown, and often challenged his companions in arms to contest with him the palm of greater glory.

Writers aptly liken the mediaeval knights to the heroic chiefs of Arabia, and even of the American Indians, to whom personal prowess is more than patriotism. Hallam would choose as the finest representative of the chivalric spirit the Greek Achilles, who could fight valiantly, or sulk in his tent regardless of the cause, when his individual honor or right seemed to be menaced. The association of Chivalry with gallantry, though prompted by the benevolent motive of helping the weak or paying homage to woman as the embodiment of the pure and beautiful, did not always serve these high purposes. The  "love of God and the ladies", enjoined as a single duty, was often to the detriment of the religious part of the obligation. The fair one who was championed in the tournament was apt to be sought beyond the lists. The poetry of the Troubadours shows how the purest and most delicate sentiment next to the religious, the love of man for woman, became debauched by a custom which flaunted amid the brutal scenes of the combat the name of her whose glory is her modesty, and often made her virtue the prize of the ring.

Doubtless the good knight felt that the altar of his consecration was not high enough. Even his vow to defend the faith had, within the bounds of Christendom, little field where it could be honored by exploit of arms. To take his part in the miserable quarrels that were chronic between rival popes, or in the wars of the imperial against the prelatic powers, both professedly Christian, could not satisfy any really religious desires he may have felt. The chivalric spirit thus kindled the aspiration for an ideal which it could not furnish. If the soldier of the cross must wear armor, he would find no satisfaction unless he sheathed his sword in the flesh of the Infidels, whose hordes were gathering beyond the borders of Christendom. The institution of Chivalry thus prepared the way for the crusades, which afforded a field for all its physical heroism, while at the same time these great movements stimulated and gratified what to this superstitious age was the deepest religious impulse.


IN accounting for the crusades we must consider the governmental condition of Europe at the time. Under no other system than that of feudalism would it have been possible to unify and mobilize the masses for the great adventure. Had Europe then been dominated by several great rulers, each with a nation at his control, as the case has been in subsequent times, even the popes would have been unable to combine the various forces in any enterprise that was not purely spiritual. Just to the extent in which the separate nationalities have developed their autonomy has the secular influence of the Roman see been lessened. Kings and emperors, whenever they have felt themselves strong enough to do so, have re­sented the leadership of Rome in matters having temporal bearings.

Nor would the mutual jealousies of the rulers themselves have allowed them to unite in any movement for the common glory, since the most urgent calls have never been sufficient to unite them even for the common defence, as is shown by the supineness of Catholic Europe when, in the fifteenth century, the Turks crossed the Marmora and assailed Constantinople.

But in the eleventh century there was no strong national government in Europe; kingship and imperi­alism existed rather in name than in such power as we are accustomed to associate with the words. At the opening of the tenth century France was parceled out into twenty-nine petty states, each controlled by its feudal lord. Hugh Capet (987-996) succeeded in temporarily combining under his scepter these fragments of Charlemagne's estate; but his successors were unable to perpetuate the common dominion. In the year 1000 there were fifty-five great Frankish lords who were independent of the nominal sovereign. Indeed, some of these nobles exercised authority more weighty than that of the throne. Louis VI (1108) first succeeded in making his lordly vassals respect his kingship, but his domain was small. “Île de France, properly so called, and a part of Orléannais, pretty nearly the five departments of the Seine, French Vexin, half the countship of Sens, and the countship of Bourges—such was the whole of it. But this limited state was as liable to agitation, and often as troublous and toilsome to govern, as the very greatest of modern states. It was full of petty lords, almost sovereign in their own estates, and sufficiently strong to struggle against their kingly suzerain, who had, besides, all around his domains several neighbors more powerful than himself in the extent and population of their states” (Guizot).

In Spain much of the land was still held by the Moors. That which had been wrested from them was divided among the Christian heroes who conquered it, and who, though feudal rules were not formally recognized, held it with an aristocratic pretension commensurate with the leagues they shadowed with their swords.

In Germany, though imperialism had been established firmly by Otho the Great, the throne was forced to continual compromise with the ambition of its chief vassals, like the dukes of Saxony, Bavaria, Swabia, and Franconia. A papal appeal to such magnates was sufficient at any time to paralyze, or at least to neutralize, the imperial authority.

The Norman holdings in the south of Italy, the independence of the cities of Lombardy in the north, the claims of the German emperor and of the popes to landed control, were typical of the divisions of that unhappy peninsula.

Later than the age we are studying, Frederick Barbarossa (1152-90) enjoined that "in every oath of fealty to an inferior lord the vassal's duty to the emperor should be expressly reserved". But it was not so elsewhere. When Henry II (1154-89) and Richard I (1189-99) claimed lands in France, their French vassals never hesitated to adhere to these English lords, nor "do they appear to have incurred any blame on that account. St. Louis (1226-70) declared in his laws that if justice be refused by the king to one of his vassals, the vassal may summon his own tenants, under penalty of forfeiting their fiefs, to assist him in obtaining redress by arms" (Hallam).

Baronial Independence.

The extent to which the French barons were independent of the throne will be evident from a glance at their privileges. They possessed unchallenged:

1.    The right of coining money. In Hugh Capet's time there were one hundred and fifty independent mints in the realm.

2.    The right of waging private war. Every castle was a fortress, always equipped as in a state of siege.

3.    Immunity from taxation. Except that the king was provided with entertainment on his journeys, the crown had no revenue beyond that coming from the personal estates of its occupant.

4.    Freedom from all legislative control. Law-making ceased with the capitularies of Carloman in 882. The first renewal of the attempt at general legislation was not until the time of Louis VIII in 1223. Even St. Louis declared in his establishments that the king could make no laws for the territories of the barons without their consent.

5.    Exclusive right of original judicature.

But if such was the independence of the feud-holder in his relations to the sovereign, those beneath him were in absolute dependence upon their lord. This is seen in the following obligations of feudal tenants to their superior:

A.    Reliefs: sums of money due from every one coming of age and taking a fief by inheritance; fines upon alienation or change of tenant ownership.

B.    Escheats: reversion to the lord of all property upon a tenant's dying without natural heirs, or upon any delinquency of service.

C.    Aids : contributions levied in special emergency, as the lord's expedition to the Holy Land, the marriage of his sister, eldest son, or daughter, his paying a "relief" to his overlord, making his son a knight, or redeeming his own person from captivity.

D.   Wardship of tenant during minority. This involved on the part of the lord the right to select a husband for a female dependent, which alliance could be declined only on payment of a fine equal to that which any one desiring the woman could be induced to offer for her.

Feudal System.

If the feudal system pressed so harshly upon those who were themselves of high rank, it need not be said that the common people were utterly crushed by this accumulation of graded despotisms, whose whole weight rested ultimately on the lowest stratum. The mass of the lowly was divided into three orders:

1. Freemen possessing small tracts of allodial land, so called because held by original occupancy and not yet merged in the larger holdings. There were many freemen in the fifth and sixth centuries, but in the tenth century nearly all the land of Europe had become feudal. The freemen, whose possessions were small, soon found it necessary to surrender land and liberty for the sake of protection by some neighboring lord.

2. Villains or serfs, who were attached to the land and transferable with it on change of owners.

3. Slaves. The degradation of the servile class was limitless, the master having the right of life and death, entire use of the property and wages of his people, and absolute disposal of them in marriage. Slavery was abolished in France by Louis the Gross (1108-37) so far as respected the inhabitants of cities; but it took nearly two centuries more to accomplish the abolition of servitude throughout the kingdom.

The cities were, indeed, rising to assert their communal, if not manhood, rights. The communes, as they were called, demanded and received privilege in certain places of electing any persons to membership as citizens who were guaranteed absolute owner­ship of property. But the communes were far from even suggesting anything like the modern democratic systems, and were opposed by clergy and nobility. "So that", says Guizot, "security could hardly be purchased, save at the price of liberty. Liberty was then so stormy and so fearful that people conceived, if not a disgust for it, at any rate a horror of it". Men had not evolved the morality which could make a commonwealth. Law was bound on men only by force. The wall of the castle, grand and impressive as wealth could build it, or only a rude addition to the natural rock, was the sole earthly object of reverence. To the strong man came the weak, saying, "Let me be yours; protect me and I will fight for you."

It will be evident that under the feudal system patriotism, in the modern sense of attachment to one's national domain, can scarcely be said to have existed. While we may not believe recent French writers who assert that the love of their country as such was born with the Revolution a hundred years ago, it is certain that the mediaeval attachment was no wider than to one's immediate neighborhood. The crusading Count of Flanders, on viewing the desolate hills about Jerusalem, exclaimed: "I am astonished that Jesus Christ could have lived in such a desert. I prefer my big castle in my district of Arras". The love of the peasant seems to have been only for his familiar hills and vineyards, and his loyalty was limited by the protecting hand of his lord.

Yet generous spirits could not remain forever so narrowly bounded in their interests. Men were ready to hear the call to a wider range of sympathies and actions. The summons for the crusades thus furnished the lacking sentiment of patriotism; but it was a patriotism that could not be bounded by the Rhine or the Danube, by the Channel or the Pyrenees. Europe was country; Christendom was fatherland.

At the same time the compactness of each feud, the close interdependence of lord and vassal, furnished the condition for the organization of bands of fighting men, ready to move at once, and to continue the enterprise so long as the means of the superior should hold out. There was needed to start the crusading armies no council of parliament or alliance of nations, hazarded and delayed by the variant policies of different courts. If the baron was inclined to obey the call of his ghostly superior, the successor of St. Peter, his retainers were ready to march. And the most brawling of the barons was superstitious enough to think that the voice of the Pope might be the voice of God. If he did not, his retainers did, and disobedience to the papal will might cost him the obedience of those subject to him. Besides, many of the feudal lords were themselves in clerical orders, with their oath of fealty lying at the feet of the Holy Father.

Thus Europe, though divided into many factions, and, indeed, because the factions were so many, was in a condition to be readily united. We shall see in a subsequent chapter that it was in the interest of the holy see to apply the spring which should combine and set in motion these various communities as but parts of that gigantic piece of ecclesiastical and military mechanism invented by Hildebrand.


THE once luxuriant civilization of Rome had been swept away by the Northern invaders as completely as a freshet despoils the fields when it not only destroys standing vegetation, but carries with the debris the soil itself. The most primitive arts, those associated with agriculture, were forgotten, and the rudiments of modern industries were not thought of. Much of the once cultivated land had, as has elsewhere been noted, reverted to native forest and marsh, and in places was still being purchased by strangers on titles secured by occupancy and first improvement, as now in the new territories of America. But even nature's pity for man was outraged; the bounty she gave from half-tilled acres was despoiled by men themselves, as hungry children snatch the morsels of charity from one another's hands. What was hoarded for personal possession became the spoil of petty robbers, and what was left by the neighborhood marauder was destroyed in the incessant baronial strife. To these devouring forces must be added the desolating wars between the papal and imperial powers, the conquest and reconquest of Spain by Moors and Christians, and the despoiling of Saxon England by the Normans. Throughout Europe, fields, cottages, castles, oftentimes churches, were stripped by the vandalism which had seemingly become a racial disposition. To this ordinary impoverished condition was added the especial misery, about 1195, of several years' failure of crops. Famine stalked through France and middle Europe; villages were depopulated. Cruel as they were, men grew weary of raiding one another's possessions when there was nothing to bring back but wounds. Even hatred palled when unsupported by envy and cupidity.

The crusades gave promise of opening a new world to greed. The stories that were told of Eastern riches grew, as repeated from tongue to tongue, until fable seemed poor in comparison with what was be­lieved to be fact. All the wealth of antiquity was presumed to be still stored in treasure-vaults, which the magic key of the cross would unlock. The impoverished baron might exchange his half-ruined castle for some splendid estate beyond the Aegean, and the vulgar crowd, if they did not find Jerusalem paved with gold like the heavenly city, would assuredly tread the veins of rich mines or rest among the flowers of an earthly paradise. The Mohammedan's expectation of a sensual heaven after death was matched by the Christian's anticipation of what awaited him while still in life.

They who were uninfluenced by this prospect may have seized the more warrantable hope of opening profitable traffic with the Orient. The maritime cities of Italy had for a long time harvested great gains in the eastern Mediterranean, in spite of the Moslem interruptions of commerce. Would not a tide of wealth pour westward if only the swords of the Christians could hew down its barriers?

The church piously, but none the less shrewdly, stimulated the sense of economy or greed by securing exemption from taxation to all who should enlist, and putting a corresponding burden of excise upon those who remained at home, whose estates were assessed to pay the expenses of the absent. The householder who found it difficult to save his possessions while keeping personal guard over them was assured that all his family and effects would be under the watchful protection of the church, with anathemas already forged against any who should molest them. If one were without means he might borrow to the limit of his zeal, with exemption from interest. It was understood that the Jews were still under necessity of paying back the thirty pieces of silver with which they had bought the Christians' Lord, the interest on which, compounded through the centuries, was now equal in amount to all there might be in the vaults of this accursed race.

When we remember the wars of modern times which have originated in the cupidity of men, we are not surprised that the same disposition, inflamed by the sense of dire need at home and the vision of untold treasures outre mer, with heavenly rewards beyond the sky, should have led to the same result in an age that knew almost nothing of the arts of peace.


WE shall fail to appreciate the inception of the crusades if we overlook the influence of the papal policy in the middle ages. These movements of Europe against Asia, being under the direct patronage of the popes, facilitated the plans of Rome to consolidate and universalize the ecclesiastical empire. To understand this policy we must recall the condition of the church in its relation to popular life and the secular powers.

We have referred to the fact that the year 1000 had been looked forward to as that which should mark the end of the world. So common was the expectation of this termination of human affairs that many charters, which have been preserved from this period, begin with the words: "As the world is now drawing to its close." When, however, the fatal clay passed without any perceptible shock to the universe, the popular credulity added the thirty-three years of the life of our Lord to the calculation, and prolonged the gruesome foreboding. But if the chronological interpretation of the prophecy of the Book of Revelation was a mistaken one, there was not wanting an apparent fulfillment of the descriptive prediction: "Satan shall be loosed out of his prison." The falsity and viciousness of men certainly took on fiendish proportions.

The worst feature of the general demoralization was that the millennial fear had driven all sorts of men into church orders. The priesthood and monasteries were crowded with wretched characters, whose imagined immunity in their sacred refuges gave license to their carnal vices. The clergy were no longer the shepherds, but the bell-wethers of the wayward flock. Priests lived in open concubinage. When Hildebrand, previous to his elevation to the Papacy, took charge of the monastery of St. Paul in Rome, his first work was to drive out the cattle that were stabled in the basilica, and the prostitutes who served the tables of the monks. Courtesans reigned even in the palaces of the popes with more effrontery than in the courts of the secular princes. The offspring of such creatures as the infamous Theodora, and of her daughters Theodora and Marozia, had, in the tenth century, purchased the tiara with their vices. In those days the papal staff was wrenched by violence from the hands that held it with more frequency than the old Roman scepter had been stolen in the worst days of the empire. It may well be credited that men began to pray again to pagan deities in sheer despondency under the darkness which veiled the Christian  truth. The surviving religious sentiment was voiced in the solemn utterance of the Council of Rheims, which declared that the church was "ruled by monsters of iniquity, want­ing in all culture, whether sacred or profane".

If the tenth century closed with a gleam of hope in the elevation of Gregory V (996-999) and Sylvester II (999-1003) it was quickly remembered that the learning of the latter had been acquired among the Saracens; and his biographer attributed his attainments to magic and undue familiarity with the fiends in hell.

In the early part of the eleventh century the papal chair was filled with the nominees of politicians, and from 1033 to 1045 disgraced by Benedict IX, who at the age of twelve was selected to pose as the Vicegerent of God. The lowest vices and caprices of unconscionable youth were enthroned in the place that was most sacred in the thoughts of men. One of his successors, Victor III (1086-87), said of Benedict that he led a life so shameful, so foul and execrable, that it made one shudder to describe it. A man of such groveling appetites naturally wearied with even the slight usages of decency which had come to be regarded as necessary in the papal palace; and after twelve years of irksome attempt to support its lessened dignity, he sold his tiara to Gregory VI. An unknown writer, about the middle of the eleventh century, attempting a review of the passing age, exclaimed: "Everything is degenerate and all is lost. Faith has disappeared. The world has grown old and must soon cease altogether."

As the debasement of the church could go no lower, a reaction was natural and inevitable, if virtue was not altogether decayed at the roots. The sentiment of human decency reasserted itself, and, since there was no power at Rome to inaugurate reform, an appeal was made to the German emperor. Henry III, in response to the call, deposed by force three rival claimants to the papal throne, and secured the ascendency of a line of German popes. It was not without the suspicion of poison that two of them died after brief power: Clement II within the year, and Damasus II in twenty-three days.

With Leo IX (1049) came a better era. The year 1033, the ultimate date set by the prophecy-mongers for the end of the world, being clearly past, and men becoming again possessed of hope in the continuance of mundane affairs, the best spirits dared to labor for the renovation of society, that the earth thus saved as by fire might become indeed "a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."

From this time the commanding genius and pure purpose of Hildebrand guided, if he did not select, the occupants of the seat of St. Peter, until, in 1073, the great counselor himself assumed the sacred scepter. History, while it severely condemns the methods by which Hildebrand sought to attain his ends, credits him with rigid honesty and devotion to what he believed to be the will of Heaven. While it writes into his epitaph the charge of most inordinate ambition, it does not erase from it the record of his utterance as he lay dying, a fugitive at Salerno: "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."

The religious degradation of Christendom afflicted the soul of this truly great man; but whence could come reform? The age was too far gone in its demoralization to wait for recuperation through the slow process of education. Society could not endure another generation of its own putridity. The secular powers were utterly impotent to cope with the gigantic evils that were abroad in every land. Even had they possessed the disposition to champion the virtues, such sovereigns as the King of France, the Emperor of Germany, the new Norman King of England, were altogether engrossed in holding their precarious crowns, surrounded as they were by a multitude of feudal lords, some of whom could collect in their own names a larger force than that which would rise to defend the throne.

To Hildebrand but one course seemed open, a desperate one, whose hazard showed the audacity of the genius that conceived it. It was nothing less than to declare the Papacy a world monarchy, and to force universal reform by the combined power of the secular and spiritual scepter held in his own hand. In his bull against the Emperor Henry IV he used these words: "Come now, I pray thee, O most holy Father, and ye princes [St. Peter and St. Paul], that all the world may know that if ye are able to bind and loose in heaven, ye are able on earth to take away, or to give to each according to his merits, empires, kingdoms, duchies, marquisates, counties, and the possessions of all men ... If ye judge in spiritual affairs, how great must be your power in secular! and if ye are to judge angels, who rule over proud princes, what may ye not do to these their servants! Let kings, then, and all the princes of the world learn what ye are and how great is your power, and fear to treat with disrespect the mandates of the church."

To practicalize this enormous claim, the Pope made two demands, which threw Europe into a state of turmoil.

(1) He ordered the renunciation of all investitures of religious office by secular potentates. The clergy held of the empire cities, duchies, entire provinces, rights of levying taxes, coinage, etc., amounting to one half of all property. The sees thus held Hildebrand declared to be vacated until their occupants should again receive them from his hand under pledge of absolute obedience to the papal, as opposed to the imperial, authority. By this stroke the Pope would gather to himself the practical control of all countries.

(2) Hildebrand forbade the marriage of the clergy—a custom widespread at the time—and commanded those who had entered into matrimony, however innocently and legally, to forsake their wives, as having been but concubines, and their children, since logically they were but bastards. By enforcing the celibacy of the clergy, he would have at his call an army of men without domestic ties, care, or encumbrance, and, so far as possible to human nature, divested of individuality, and thus the pliant agents of his single will.

The audacity of Hildebrand's scheme will be noted by comparing it with the attitude of the most devoted adherents to the papal authority previous to his time.

The capitularies of Charlemagne contain many rules for the regulation of religious duties. The emperor himself (794) presided at the Synod of Frankfort, though a papal legate was in attendance. While he brought the church all possible help as an ally, and yielded to it all obedience as a private Christian, he never allowed his imperial authority to be under so much as the shadow of control by the papal. He suffered but one religion in his domains, that which had the Pope for its chief administrator; but he held with equal strenuousness that the emperor was the vicar of God in things temporal.

From 964 to 1055 the popes had been the direct nominees of the emperor. In 1059 the papal election devolved for the first time upon the conclave of cardinals; but the Lateran Council decreed that the imperial confirmation must follow. Though in 1061 Alexander II was chosen without imperial sanction, yet in 1073 Hildebrand himself, becoming Pope as Gregory VII, did not venture to discharge the duties of the office without first asking and obtaining the emperor's assent.

But this outward deference to the secular power was only that he might grasp more securely the weapon with which he would beat that power to pieces. When the Emperor Henry IV resented the sweeping claim of the Pope, Hildebrand launched against him all the terrors of the pontifical throne. His bull reads as follows: "Henry and all of his adherents I excommunicate and bind in the fetters of anathema; on the part of almighty God, I interdict him from the government of all Germany and Italy; I deprive him of all royal power and dignity; I prohibit every Christian from rendering him obedience as king; I absolve all who have sworn or shall swear allegiance to his sovereignty from their oaths".

This policy of the Papacy to make itself the world monarchy had a direct bearing upon the crusades and facilitated the enterprise. The astute mind of Hildebrand saw that a movement which should combine the Catholics of all countries in Europe under his command would immensely augment his prestige as their great overlord. During his pontificate there opportunely arrived at Rome messengers from the Greek emperor at Constantinople, beseeching the aid of Western Christendom in expelling the Turks, who were menacing the capital of the East. Hildebrand, consistently with his policy, prescribed as the condition of such aid the recognition on the part of the Greek Church of the headship of the Roman pontiff. But in this demand he overshot the mark, while at the same time the apathy of the Latin Christians towards their Greek brethren, and his own controversy with the German emperor, left him no opportunity to launch the movement. It was left to Urban II, his second successor in the pontificate, to undertake the great adventure. As Dean Milman remarks: "No event could be more favorable or more opportune for the advancement of the great papal object of ambition, the acknowledged supremacy over Latin Christendom, or for the elevation of Urban himself over the rival Pope [Guibert] and the temporal sovereign, his enemies."


THE rapid rise and widespread conquest of Mohammedanism make one of the most startling phenomena of history. If its story excites our wonder in these days, while we are watching its decadence, we may imagine the consternation wrought when its swarming hosts, with the prestige of having conquered all western Asia, were breaking through the barriers of Christendom.

We shall greatly mistake this movement if we regard it as a mere irruption of brute force such as characterized the assaults of the barbarians upon the Roman empire. The teachings of Mohammed, gross as they appear in contrast with either primitive or modern Christianity, contained elements which appealed to far nobler sentiments than those entertained by the pagans of northern Europe, or those current in the age of the Prophet among the people of his own race. Compared with these, Islamism was a reformation, and enthused its adherents with the belief that they fought for the advancement of civilization as well as for the rewards of paradise.

The central thought of Islamism is the unity of the Godhead, and its first victory was the obliteration of polytheism among the tribes of Arabia.

It is true that, before the time of Mohammed, Allah had been accorded the first place in the speculative theology of the Arabs; yet gods many usurped their worship and were supposed to control their daily lives. Wise men, called hanifs, had protested against the prevailing superstition, and succeeded in spreading a healthful skepticism regarding the lesser divinities. Mohammed eagerly imbibed the better philosophy. Familiarity with the religion of the Jews, and some acquaintance with the doctrine of Jesus, whom he accepted as a true prophet, doubtless gave shape and vividness to his better faith. His meditations on the grand themes of religion were, to his excited imagination, rewarded by definite revelation. He rose inspired with the conviction,—which became the call for a new civilization in the Orient,—"Great is God, and Mohammed is His prophet!" Islam, or resignation to the sovereign will of Allah, became the title and spirit of the new religion.

But if a celestial ray had touched and stimulated the mind of Mohammed, no heavenly influence refined his heart and conscience. Sensuality and cruelty, racial qualities of the Arab, were not only unrestrained, but utilized as agencies for the spread of the faith. Ferocity wielded the sword, and its fury was to be rewarded by the gratification of lust in a paradise whose description surpassed the sensuous fancies of pagan poets and romancers. The spirit of the new propaganda is evinced in this sentence from the Koran: "The sword is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of bloodshed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer; whoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied with the wings of angels and cherubim."

It might seem that the Christian would be spared the vengeance of Mohammed, since he also taught the unity of the Godhead; but the Arabian misunderstood Christianity. To him the Trinity was essential polytheism. It must be confessed that such Christianity as the Arab saw very naturally suggested that false interpretation of the Bible doctrine. In some Eastern Christian sects Mariolatry had exalted the mother of Jesus to the third place in the Trinity, in horrid usurpation of the office of the Holy Ghost. The Koran expressly condemns the triform worship of Jehovah, Jesus, and Mary. The Prophet, while denying the divinity of Christ, regarded himself as an avenger of Jesus, the holy man, against the heresy of his professed followers. Mohammed's last utterance is reported to have been: "The Lord destroy the Jews and Christians! Let His anger be kindled against all those that turn the tombs of their prophets into places of worship! Eternity in paradise!"

Not only was the doctrine of the Koran acceptable to the people to whom it was delivered; the organization of the Mohammedan system provided an efficient agency for its development and propagandism.

This organization was exceedingly simple. It had but one code for things religious and things secular. The Koran was at once the confession of faith and the national constitution. From the same pages the priest preached eternal life, caliph, emir, and sheik quoted the rules of government, the judge drew his decision in controversies, the soldier read his reward for valor and death on the field, and merchant and peasant found the regulations for their daily traffic. The one book destroyed the distinction between sacred and profane, since everything became thereby religious, while the duties and amenities of common life were surcharged with the bigotry of devoteeism.

The unity of Muslimism under the book was further intensified by the sole headship of the Prophet and his successors. The fondest dream of the popes of Rome, to blend spiritual and secular authority, was surpassed by the throne which actually arose in the Arabian desert. The opinion of the caliph was the final decision of all questions of dogma; ministers of state were his personal commissioners, and over them, as over the humblest subject, he exercised the power of life and death. One will was sovereign, responsible to none other, and actuated all things in church and state. One man's word rallied tribes and sects, and hurled them en masse upon his enemies, or in more peaceful ways directed their seeming diversities to the accomplishment of a single purpose.

It must be acknowledged, however, that, while the Mohammedan system thus adapted it to the most deadly tyranny over thought and life, it was not always so wielded. The cause was advanced by the sagacity, if not the more humane inclinations, of many of the caliphs. Not a few of these were among the wisest men of their day, and adopted a policy of leniency in dealing with their submissive enemies, which facilitated the extension of their rule. The repetition of a single sentence, acknowledging the unity of God and the supremacy of the Prophet, transformed foe into friend. In many instances the tribute paid to the conqueror was far less than that which the former Christian rulers had been in the habit of exacting. Though, as a rule, Christian churches were ruthlessly despoiled of their symbolic ornaments and reduced to the barren simplicity of the mosque, yet they were frequently spared this sacrilege. When Jerusalem fell into the hands of Omar, the Christians were forbidden to call to worship by the sound of bell, to parade the streets in religious procession, to distinguish their sect by badge or dress, and were compelled to give up the temple site for the mosque of Omar; yet they were allowed freely to worship in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the caliph himself refusing to appear within those sacred precincts, saying: "Had I done so, future Musulmans would infringe the treaty under cover of imitating my example." Haroun-al-Raschid, in exchanging courtesies with Charlemagne, presented him with the keys of the Holy Sepulchre.

To this compact unity of Mohammedanism under Koran and caliph, and this wise blending of the terror of arms with peaceful patronage, was due the unparalleled progress of the religion of the Prophet. The Moslem conquests will appear in the story, first of the Saracen, and later that of the Turk.

The Saracens.—During Mohammed's lifetime Arabia and Syria were beneath his hand. Within eight years following, Persia, parts of Asia Minor, Palestine, and Egypt submitted to him. Thirteen years more (65 3) saw the cimeter of the Saracens enclosing an area as large as the Roman empire under the Caesars. In 668 they assaulted Constantinople. In 707 North Africa surrendered the treasures of its entire coast from the Nile to the Atlantic, and the home of Augustine, the father of Christian orthodoxy, was occupied by the Infidels. In 711 the Saracen general Tarik crossed the straits between the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and landed on the rock which has ever since borne his name—Jebel-Tarik, the "hill of Tarik," or Gibraltar. By 717 Spain, from the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees, had become the proud conquest of the Moors. But for the timely victory of Charles Martel at Tours, in 732, they had surely subdued France and soon completed the circle of conquest by the desolation of Italy, Germany, and the lands bordering the Balkans. In 847 the Saracens were masters of Sicily, and besieged Rome itself, plundering the suburban churches of St. Peter and St. Paul. Thirty years later Pope John VIII wrote to Charles the Bold: "If all the trees in the forests were turned into tongues, they could not describe the ravages of these impious pagans; the devout people of God is destroyed by a continual slaughter; he who escapes the fire and the sword is carried as a captive into exile. Cities, castles, and villages are utterly wasted and without an inhabitant. The Hagarenes [sons of fornication and wrath] have crossed the Tiber." In  916  these  persistent foes occupied a fortress on the Gangliano, between Naples and Rome, whence they held the papal domain at their mercy, and seizing the persons of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of the apostles, held them for heavy ransom. This stronghold was broken up only by the attack of a powerful confederacy of Italian dukes, aided by the emperors of the East and West. The exigency was so great that, in the estimate of papal apologists, it warranted the action of Pope John X, who arrayed himself in carnal armor and rode at the head of the attacking forces.

In 1016 a powerful armament of Saracens was landed at Luna in the territory of Pisa, but defeated by Pope Benedict VIII. This disaster did not diminish either the hauteur or expectancy of the invader, who sent to the Pope a huge bag of chestnuts with the message: "I will return with as many valiant Saracens to the conquest of Italy." The Pope was not to be outdone in prowess of speech, and returned a bag of millet with the boast: "As many brave warriors as there are grains will appear at my bidding to defend their native land."

In 1058 there occurred a wild outburst of Moslem bigotry, which sent a thrill of horror through Christian Europe. The charity of earlier rulers of Palestine towards Christian worshippers gave place to fiercest persecution by Mad Hakem, the Sultan of Egypt, who razed to the ground the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and slaughtered its devotees. He ultimately, however, commuted his rage into cupidity, and affixed a tax upon the worshippers. At the close of the eleventh century, the time of the  first crusade, the Saracenic power, though steadily receding before the Christians, still menaced southern Europe. Trained bands of Moslems, when not in war on their own account with their common enemy, the Christians, joined themselves with one or another of the contending parties which rent the empire and the church. Thus in 1085, ten years before the first crusade, Pope Gregory rescued Rome from the hands of his imperial opponent, Henry of Germany, only with the assistance of Saracen soldiers, who thronged the ranks of the Pope's Norman allies. Very naturally the joy of the papal victory was mingled with jealousy of the means by which it had been accomplished.

Not only were Moslem warriors often found in Christian ranks; frequently the valor of the Christian knight found freest exploit in the cause of the Moors. The adventures of the Cid, whom Philip II wished Rome to canonize as an ideal saint, were for eight years performed in the service of the Arab king of Saragossa.

The Moslem became also the rival of the Christian in commerce. The ships which in the lull of hostilities sailed from the ports of France and Italy met the richly laden vessels of Egypt and Spain in exhausting competition for the trade of the Mediterranean. The coast of North Africa was the lurking-place of pirates, who darted over the Great Sea with the celerity of spiders along their web, and seized every craft that weakness or misfortune made their prey. With his wealth the Moslem often won his way to social position, and even invaded  the family relations of his Christian neighbor. Shakespeare's Othello, the Moor of Venice, if not a real character, was at least one typical not only of the fifteenth, but of earlier centuries. The plot of this play was borrowed by the English dramatist from the Venetian romances. More than one Desdemona had braved the curses of her Christian kindred for the fascinations of the Infidel; many a renegade Iago was found in his service; and often the Christian dignitary, like Brabantis, was led by gold and political advantage to assent that his daughter should  run from her guardage to the sooty bosom  of the Moor.

Yet these misalliances did not destroy the common sentiment of the Christians against the Saracens. The foul sensuality allowed by the Koran as it thus touched the homes of Europe deepened the racial antipathy of the people who were still monogamic in their faith and customs.

The Mohammedan menace was further augmented in the superstitious notions of the age by the intellectual ascendency of the Saracens. Christendom did not discern that, in the mass of evils brought upon Europe by the invasions from the East, there were the germs of its own quickening, as the freshets of the Nile enrich the land of Egypt. If, in the first heat of his zealotry, the Saracen destroyed the library of Alexandria, regarding the Koran as compensation for all the books of Christian and pagan wisdom, yet in the light of the flames he saw his mistake, and became the most liberal patron of education. To the mosque he added the school. While the rest of Europe was in the density of the Dark Ages, the Moorish universities of Spain were the beacons of the revival of learning. The Christian teacher was still manipulating the bones of the saints when the Arab physician was making a materia medica and practicing surgery. By the discovery of strong acids the Moor laid the basis of the science of chemistry; by the adoption of the Hindu numerals he improved arithmetic. He first practically used, if he did not invent, algebra; introduced astronomy to the European student; wrote on optics, the weight and height of the atmosphere, gravity, capillary attraction; applied the pendulum to the measurement of time, and guessed that the earth was round. In the superstition of Christian Europe these studies were regarded, if not as belonging to the magic arts, at least as threatening the faith by fostering undue independence of thought, and tempting to skepticism regarding the office of the church as universal teacher. The subsequent persecution of Galileo and Bruno was anticipated in the hatred and fear which were awakened by such names as Ben-Musa (ninth century), Avicenna (tenth century), Alhazan and Algazzali (eleventh century). The diverse spirits of the age are illustrated by the Giralda, the tower of Seville, which was built by the Moors for an observatory, but on the Catholic conquest was used only for a belfry.

The Turks.—The Saracenic conquests caused only a part of the Mohammedan menace in the eleventh century. A new power appeared, which has since dominated the middle Orient. For generations the Turks, or Tartars, had been steadily pressing southward and westward, from Turkestan and the borders of China towards the fertile plains and rich cities of the eastern Roman empire. Of nomadic habits, their entire property was in their camps and the driven herds that sustained them. They were skilled horsemen, cradled in the saddle, tireless on the march, loving the swift foray better than luxurious residence, inured to danger, and careless of blood. In the course of their migrations they came in contact with the followers of Mohammed. The Koran, with its celestial endorsement of sensuality, easily captivated in such a people that demand of common human nature for some religious faith and pursuit. They became the most enthusiastic devotees of the new faith, although in their deeper passion for selfish conquest they often slaughtered their fellow-religionists of other races.

Early in the eleventh century one division of this people—the Seljukian Turks, so named from their great chieftain, Seljuk—overran Armenia and conquered Persia. Togrul-Beg, the grandson of Seljuk, had been elected to the chieftaincy according to the ancient custom, the chance drawing, by the hand of a child, of an arrow inscribed with his name. He was further honored by being chosen a temporal vicar of the caliph of Bagdad, then the chief of Arabic Mohammedanism. In 1055 Togrul-Beg was proclaimed "Commander of the Faithful and Protector of Musulmans." He was clothed in the seven robes of honor, was presented with seven slaves born in the seven climates of Araby the Blest, was crowned with two crowns and girded with two cimeters, emblematic of dominion over both the West and the East.

The successor of Togrul-Beg was Alp-Arslan, the "strong lion" (1063). He merited his title when, like a wild beast, he ravaged Armenia and Iberia, and then sprang upon Asia Minor. At the time, this peninsula between the Mediterranean and the Euxine was flourishing with proud cities and prolific fields, and occupied by an industrious, peace-loving population. The ruined amphitheatre and aqueduct which today oppress the curiosity of the traveler are the footprints of this Turkish invader, which the misgovernment of his successors has not permitted to be effaced. In the battle of Manzikert (1071) Alp-Arslan defeated and captured Romanus IV, the Greek emperor, and thus broke the only Eastern power that could dispute his sway. Finlay remarks: "History records few periods in which so large a portion of the human race was in so short a time reduced from an industrious and flourishing condition to degradation and serfage."

Under Malek-Shah, son of Alp-Arslan (1073), the Turkish power, swollen by new hordes from the great central plains of Asia, occupied almost the entire territory now known as Turkey in Asia. They pressed to the walls of Constantinople. By threatening, and by intrigue with every insurgent against the throne, they kept the Greek empire in constant alarm.

In their peril the Greeks appealed for help to their Christian brethren of Europe. In spite of the scorn in which the Latins held the Greek Church for its antipapal heresies, the common danger led Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand) in 1074 to summon all Christian potentates to repel the Turks. He himself proposed to lead the avenging hosts, but was diverted from this generous purpose by the nearer ambition of crushing the enemies of the papal throne at home.

In 1079 the Emperor Michael saved his crown only by the assistance of the Turks against his Greek rival, for which aid lie paid by surrendering to Solyman the government of the best part of the empire east of the Bosporus.

In 1093 Europe was startled by the news of the fall of Jerusalem. After incredible slaughter, not only of Christians, but of Arabic Moslems as well, the black flag of Ortuk floated from the tower of David. All privileges which had been granted to followers of Jesus by the comparative humanity of the Arab were now withdrawn by the Turk. To bow in worship at the Holy Sepulchre was to bend the neck beneath the cimeter.

Europe was thrown into a state of terrorism. Muslem irruption into the West seemed imminent. Kings trembled on their thrones, and peasant mothers hushed their crying babes with stories which transformed every specter into the shape of the turbaned invader.

In 1093, on tHe death of Malek-Shah, the Turkish power was weakened by divisions; this gave Christendom heart. The statesmen at the Vatican saw the opportunity, and Pope Urban's appeal for the crusades met the quick response both of the powers and the people. One of the divisions of Malek-Shah's empire was that of Solyman, Sultan of Roum, or Iconium. From this power sprang the Ottomans, who for eight hundred years have held an unbroken dynasty, and for four hundred years have occupied the city of Constantine for their capital.


OLD Testament religion made much of sacred places. In the early occupancy of Palestine, Hebron, Bethel, Shiloh, and Shechem were the resorts of the faithful; in later ages Jerusalem became the shrine "whither the tribes went up" by divine command. For this localized devotion there was an evident reason in the purpose of Providence to localize a "peculiar people" for religious training, such as they could not obtain if scattered among the nations. The sacredness was not in the site, but in its living associations, as the rendezvous of wise and holy men. Christianity had no such necessity, and reversed this narrower policy with our Lord's command, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Therefore, in the ruling of Providence, the places most closely associated with the life of the Son of God were either unknown, as the spot of the temptation in the wilderness and the mountain where He retired for prayer; or these spots were left unmarked by the first disciples, as "a high mountain" on which He was transfigured, the room of the Last Supper, the site of the crucifixion and of the tomb which witnessed His resurrection. This was a commentary of Providence on Jesus' words, "The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father; ... when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."

This relic of the Jewish custom, together with the universal pagan practice of venerating shrines and consulting local oracles, became an ever pressing temptation to the early Christian church. It was difficult for either Jewish or heathen converts not to regard the land trodden by the feet of Jesus as peculiarly a holy land, and not to imagine that the celestial interest that once centered upon the scenes of His death and resurrection made "heaven always to hang lowest" over these spots. There was nothing in the teaching or practice of the apostles and early fathers of the church to suggest or approve these notions. They were willing exiles from the home of the faith; unlike the patriarch Joseph, they gave no "commandment concerning their bones" being interred in the dust of Palestine.

The conversion of Constantine to Christianity may have been genuine, but it did not completely exorcise the paganism to which he had been habituated. The pilgrimage of his mother, Helena, to Palestine, the alleged reidentification of sacred sites and relics by miraculous agencies, and their adornment with lavish magnificence, were the natural efflorescence of the hybrid religion that sprang up. Multitudes imitated the example of emperors and princes in the show of devotion. The new glory which Constantine gave to Jerusalem engaged their reverence, as his new capital on the Bosporus gratified their pride.

St. Jerome (345-420) wrote to Paulinus: "The court of heaven is as open in Britain as at Jerusalem." Nevertheless the saint took up his abode in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem. Paula, his companion, wrote: "Here the foremost of the world are gathered together." St. Augustine (354-430), oppressed by the fact that the beauty of the heavenly city was shadowed by men's reverence for the earthly Jerusalem, wrote: "Take no thought for long voyages; it is not by ship, but by love, that we go to Him who is everywhere."

But the enthusiasm for pilgrimage could be checked neither by the voice of saint nor by common sense. From the depths of the German forests, from the banks of the and the bleak shores of Britain, as well as from the cities of southern Europe, poured the incessant streams of humanity, to bathe in the waters of the Jordan where their Lord was baptized, or perchance to die at the tomb which witnessed his resurrection.

As early as the fourth century itineraries were published to guide the feet of the pious across the countries of Europe and Asia Minor; hospitals were also established along the road, the support of which by those who stayed at home was regarded as specially meritorious in the sight of Heaven.

In 611 Chosroes the Persian and Zoroastrian captured Jerusalem, slaughtered ninety thousand Christian residents and pilgrims, and, more lamentable in the estimate of that age, carried off the wood of the true cross. But Heraclius, the Greek emperor, after a ten years' war triumphed over the Persian power. Neither conquered lands nor the spoils of princely tents compared in stirring enthusiasm with the recapture of this relic. With great pomp the emperor left a part of the cross to glorify his capital, Constantinople. On September 14, 629, Heraclius entered Jerusalem, bearing, like Simon the Cyrenian, the remainder of the sacred beams upon his back. With bare feet and in ragged garments he traversed the city and re-erected the symbol of the world's faith upon the assumed site of Calvary. This event is still commemorated throughout the Roman Catholic world by the annual festival of the "exaltation of the holy cross."

Marvelous stories, the innocent exaggerations of weak minds or the designed invention of less conscionable shrewdness, fed the credulity of the people. Bishop Arculf told of having seen the three tabernacles still standing upon the Mount of Transfiguration. Bernard of Brittany as an eyewitness described the angel who came from heaven each Easter morn to light the lamp above the Holy Sepulchre.

At the opening of the ninth century the friendship of Haroun-al-Raschid, King of Persia, for Charlemagne extended the privileges of pilgrims. The keys of the sepulcher of Jesus were sent by him as a royal gift to the Emperor of the West. Charlemagne's capitularies contain references to  alms sent to Jerusalem to repair the churches of God," and to provide lodging, with fire and water, to pilgrims en route.

The cruel persecution by Mad Hakem, the caliph of Egypt, made scarcely an eddy in the current of humanity moving eastward. Counts and dukes vied with prelates in the multitude of their companions. In 1054 the Bishop of Cambray started with a band of three thousand fellow-pilgrims. In 1064 the Archbishop of Mayence followed with ten thousand, nearly half of whom perished by the way.

In the latter part of the eleventh century, as has been related, the strong hand of the Turk first effectually checked the pilgrims. The horrors of the atrocities perpetrated by this new Mohammedan power afflicted Europe less than the cessation of the popular movement. The evil was twofold, secular and spiritual.

Pilgrimage was often a lucrative business as well as a pious performance. In the intervals of his visits to the sacred places the European sojourner plied his calling as a tradesman; the Franks held a market before the Church of St. Mary; the Venetians, Genoese, and Pisans had stores in Jerusalem and the coast cities of Phoenicia. The courtiers of Europe dressed in the rich stuffs sent from Asia, and drank the wine of Gaza. A great traffic was done in relics. The pilgrim returned having in his wallet the credited bones of martyrs, bits of stone from sacred sites, splinters from furniture and shreds of garments made holy by association with the saints. These were sold to the wealthy and to churches, and their value augmented from year to year by reason of the fables which grew about them.

In more generous minds the passion for pilgrimage was fed by the desire for increased knowledge. Travel was the only compensation for the lack of books. One became measurably learned by visiting, while going to and returning from Palestine, such cities as Constantinople or Alexandria, to say nothing of the enlightening intercourse with one's fellow-Europeans while passing through their lands.

Mere love of change and adventure also led many to take the staff. If in our advanced civilization men cannot entirely divest themselves of the nomadic habit, but tramp and tourist are everywhere, we need not be surprised at the numbers of those who indulged this passion in days when home life was exceedingly monotonous and its entertainment as meager.

But the chief incentive to pilgrimage was doubtless the supposed merit of treading the very footprints of our Lord. Not only was forgiveness of sins secured by kneeling on the site of Calvary, but to die en route was to fall in the open gateway of heaven, one's travel-soiled shirt becoming a shroud which would honor the hands of angels convoying the redeemed soul to the blissful abodes. Great criminals thus penanced their crimes. Frotmonde, the murderer, his brow marked with ashes and his clothes cut after the fashion of a winding-sheet, tramped the streets of Jerusalem, the desert of Arabia, and homeward along the North African coast, only to be commanded by Pope Benedict III to repeat his penance on even a larger scale, after which he was received as a saint. Foulques of Anjou, who had brought his brother to death in a dungeon, found that three such journeys were necessary to wear away the guilt-mark from his conscience. Robert of Normandy, the father of William the Conqueror, as penance for crime walked barefoot the entire distance, accompanied by many knights and barons. When Cencius assaulted Pope Hildebrand, the pontiff uttered these words: "Thy injuries against myself I freely pardon. Thy sins against God, against His mother, His apostles, and His whole church, must be expiated. Go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem."

We are thus prepared to appreciate the incentive to the crusades which men of all classes found in the speech of Pope Urban at Clermont, in inaugurating the movement: "Take ye, then, the road to Jerusalem for the remission of sins, and depart assured of the imperishable glory which awaits you in the kingdom of heaven."

Othman, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty of Turks, once had a dream in which he saw all the leaves of the world-shading tree shaped like cimeters and turning their points towards Constantinople. This he interpreted into a prophecy and command for the capture of that city. Similarly we may conceive the various conditions and sentiments of Europe in the eleventh century, which have been described in our previous chapters, as directing the way to Jerusalem. Subsequent events, however, prove that, unlike Othman's leaves, the Christian incentives to the crusades were not directed by the breath of Heaven.