Page 1419

1419 THE CRUSADES-FALL OF THE CROSS.

Germany, of England, and of the North of

Europe, felt the life-giving impulses of the

new commerce established with the East.

No other circumstance between the time of

the downfall of the Roman Empire of the

West and the double discovery of the New

World and an all-water route to India, did

so much to revive the dormant commercial

spirit of Europe as did the Holy Wars of the

twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Perhaps the influence of the Crusades, as

it respects the diffusion of the learning of the

East, has been overestimated. It has been

the custom of writers to draw an analogy

between the effects of the conquests of Alexander the Great and those which followed

the establishment of the Latin kingdom in

the East. A closer examination of the facts

destroys the parallel. The comparative barbarity of the Crusaders, their want of learning and complete depravity of literary taste,

forbade the absorption by them of the intellectual wealth of the peoples whom they

conquered. Even in Constantinople the

French barons and knights appear not to

have been affected by the culture and refinement of the city. Only their cupidity

was excited by the splendor and literary

treasures of the Eastern metropolis. It does

not appear that the Crusaders, even the

most enlightened of the leaders, were sufficiently interested in the possibilities of the

situation to learn the language of the Greeks.

The literary imagination of the invaders and

conquerors of Palestine seems not to have been

excited in the midst of scenes which might

have been supposed to be the native sources of

inspiration. Poetry followed not in the wake

of those devastating excursions. Art came not

as the fruit of war-like agitation, or to commemorate the exploits of mediaeval heroes.

Perhaps the greatest single advantage flowing from the Crusades was the establishment of intercourse between the Asiatic

and the European nations. Hitherto the

peoples of the East and the West had lived

in almost complete ignorance of each other's

manners, customs, and national character.

Traveling became common, and the minds

of men began to be emancipated from the

fetters of locality. Many Europeans settled

in the East, and becoming acquainted with

the Asiatics, diffused a knowledge of the

Orient among their own countrymen. Relations were established between the Moslem

and the Christian states. Embassies were

sent back and forth between the Mongol emperors and the kings of the Western nations.

More than once it was proposed that the

Christians and the Mongols should enter

into an alliance, and that the Crusades should

be continued by them against the common

enemy, the Turks. The impress made upon

the mind and destinies of Europe by these

relations of the Christians and the Mohammedans is thus described by the distinguished historian, Abel Remusat:

"Many men of religious orders, Italians,

French, and Flemings, were charged with diplomatic missions to the court of the Great

Khan. Mongols of distinction came to Rome,

Barcelona, Valetia, Lyons, Paris, London, and

Northampton, and a Franciscan of the kingdom of Naples was archbishop of Pekin. His

successor was a professor of theology in the

University of Paris. But how many other

people followed in the train of these personages, either as slaves, or attracted by the

desire of profit, or led by curiosity into

regions hitherto unknown! Chance has preserved the names of some of these; the first

envoy who visited the king of Hungary

on the part of the Tartars was an Englishman, who had been banished from his country

for certain crimes, and who, after having

wandered over Asia, at last entered into

the service of the Mongols. A Flemish

Cordelier, in the heart of Tartary, fell in

with a woman of Metz called Paquette, who

had been carried off into Hungary; also a

Parisian goldsmith, and a young man from

the neighborhood of Rouen, who had been at

the taking of Belgrade. In the same country

he fell in also with Russians, Hungarians,

and Flemings. A singer, called Robert,

after having traveled through Eastern Asia,

returned to end his days in the cathedral

of Chartres. A Tartar was a furnisher of

helmets in the armies of Philip the Fair.

Jean de Plancanpin fell in, near Gayouk,

with a Russian gentleman whom he calls

Temer, and who acted as interpreter; and

many merchants of Breslau, Poland, and

Austria accompanied him in his journey

into Tartary. Others returned with him

through Russia; they were Genoese, Pisans,

and Venetians. Two Venetians, merchants,

whom chance had brought to Bokhara,