Page 1249

1249 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL FRANCE.

lover was the space of fifty, perhaps a hundred miles. It was hill country, dark woods,

and deep rivers-hills without a roadway,

woods infested with brigands and robbers,

and rivers without a bridge. Her lover

must come to her at peril of his life. She

had never seen him; he had never seen her.

They had only dreamed and imagined each

other's loyalty and devotion. Their fathers,

perhaps, were friends-old time companions

in the perils and hardships of war. Perhaps

they were enemies. It may be between them

yawned a chasm which had been rent open

by the deadly feuds of a hundred years. The

young baron saw the divinity of his life

afar. He must blow his bugle outside of

the moat. The warder must announce a

stranger and let down the drawbridge if he

was welcome. Up must be flung the portcullis, and in must ride the aspiring lover,

who would fain behold and worship the goddess of his dreams. Meanwhile she, after the

manner of her sex, looked down into the court

from her high and narrow window and saw

him dismount from his caparisoned steed,

fling the reins to a groom, and walk, in full

and shining armor, into the echoing hall of

her father's castle. It was the beginning of

that great romance which for a thousand

years has been the dream of the human

heart, gilding the gloom of action and adorning the coarseness of life with the beauty and

tenderness of ideal love.

The institution of chivalry, thus established in the beginning of the eleventh century, spread rapidly throughout the western

part of Europe. Knighthood in France

became the dominant aspect of society.

In a short time a class of champions known

as knights-errant became prevalent, and the

representatives of this Order might be seen

in almost every part of the country. In

Spain the business of the knight was more

serious and less ideal. There the Moors

were to be confronted. There the banner

of the Cross was to be lifted against that

of the Crescent. There in a thousand private

encounters and deadly personal battles the