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XVII INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME IV.

By common consent the

historical period subsequent to the Crusades

is considered one of the

most difficult and confused in the pages of burn an progress. Events

whirled round and round.

The epoch was tentative. The consciousness

of Modern Europe, which for the first time

had found self-revelation in the heat of the

Holy Wars, now sought organic expression in

political forms and social institutions. But

the elements of society were suspicious, and

stood asunder. As it respects the actual civil

condition of the Western States in the era

under consideration only a few facts can be

noted with distinctness; the rest can be seen

only in cloud-form and nebula. First, it is

clear that the two centuries succeeding the

Crusades are the times of the emergence and

forth standing of the modern European King.

Until then he was not. His genesis dates from

the hither decades skirting the Holy Wars.

The kings and emperors of the Ancient World

and of the ages preceding the establishment

of Feudalism in Europe were of a type strongly

discriminated from the prevalent styles of

royalty in the last four centuries. The modern type was deduced from feudal chieftainship and enlarged by the Crusades. It was

in the Holy Wars that he who had been a

count or baron became by military growth a

monarch. The smaller lord of the multitude

either perished in battle with the Turks, or

was over-shadowed by his suzerain; the latter

became the king.

While the great leaders of the crusading

hosts were thus augmented in power and

glory, another fact of different sort may be

discovered clearly in the dimness of the age.

This is the emergence of the people. The

people of modern times differ as much from

the corresponding fact in the social and civil

organization of antiquity as does the monarch of today from a king of Persia or an

emperor of Rome-as does Cleopatra from

Eugenie, or Alexander from President Wilson. A true people was a thing unknown

in Ancient History, nor has the fact so-called

received as yet a complete development and

revelation. Slow and painful has been the

emergence of this last great element of civilization. Strange it is that the evolution of

humanity seems to be the only process which

has been resisted instead of aided by universal

nature-that the growth of the social and

political creature is the one growth which

has been retarded and perpetually disturbed

-not indeed by the blind laws of the material

world-but by the artificial restraints and unreasoning hostilities of every thing that thinks.

However the aspect of the Middle Ages

may be presented in philosophic history, thus

much is clear, that to this period of human

development belongs, on the one side, the

genesis of the modern King, and, on the

other, the genesis of the modern people.

These two great facts, associated in the caption, have been taken as the highest generalization possible for the two centuries immediately following the crusading epoch; and

under this heading of People and Kings the

subject matter of the First Book of the present Volume will be presented.

From this historical condition, however,

we turn quickly to another aspect, wholly

different and vastly more exciting. Among

the physical facts which have influenced the

course and character of civilization, the first

place may perhaps be assigned to the Discovery of America. Virtually, one-half of

the world had hitherto lain hidden behind the

Western waters. The people of the fifteenth

and sixteenth centuries did well to regard the

event as the revelation of a New World. At

the first the nature of the great discovery was

but dimly apprehended, and the well-nigh

infinite results which have flowed therefrom

were not discerned at all.