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,