Page 1307

1307

BOOK FIFTEETH

THE CRUSADES.

CHAPTER LXXXIX;-THE UPRISING OF EUROPE.

That great movement of

mediaeval society known

as the Crusades was

the first European event.

That is, the agitation involved all Europe, territorially, socially, religiously, politically. Hitherto the various enterprises which had filled the annals of the

West since the subversion of the Roman

Empire had lacked the general character.

They had been local-peculiar to some

particular state or nation. At last the time

arrived when every people west of the Bosphorus was moved by a common sentiment, impelled to action by a common

motive. As far as the Cross was adored,

as far as the Crescent was hated, so far

was the proclamation heeded which called

all Christendom to unsheath the avenging

sword against the Infidels.

Not only were the Crusades a European

event-the first of modern times-but they

were the first national event in the several states of the West. The condition of

Europe during the Feudal Ascendancy has

already been delineated. Continental unity

had been a delusive dream of Charlemagne.

National unity was a vision, a hope, rather

than a reality. Europe parted into kingdoms; kingdoms, into dukedoms; dukedoms,

into counties; counties, into petty fiefs.

The dissolution was universal. Common

interests ceased. Any thing that might

properly be defined as national or European was impossible. The break-up was to

the very bottom of the social fabric.

Even in the darkest age of the world

there is something in the nature of man

which revives, expands, develops. So it

was in the time of the feudal dissolution

of society. Humanity made sufficient progress to demand a common interest. Only

the cause, the occasion, was wanting to call

together the discordant and belligerent elements and unite them in a universal enterprise.

An outrage-a series of outrages-done

to the religious sentiment of Europe furnished the opportunity and motive of action. Mutual hatred had long existed between the Christians and the Mohammedans. The latter had done incalculable damage to the prospects of the

Cross. All that the missionaries and evangelists had accomplished in Arabia,