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Feudalism had a vigorous life for about five hundred years. Taking
definite form early in the ninth century, it flourished throughout the
later Middle Ages, but became decadent by the opening of the fourteenth


As a system of local government, feudalism tended to pass away when the
rulers in England, France, and Spain, and later in Germany and Italy,
became powerful enough to put down private warfare, execute justice, and
maintain order everywhere in their dominions. The kings were always anti-
feudal. We shall study in a later chapter (Chapter XXII) the rise of
strong governments and centralized states in western Europe.


As a system of local industry, feudalism could not survive the great
changes of the later Middle Ages, when reviving trade, commerce, and
manufactures had begun to lead to the increase of wealth, the growth of
markets, and the substitution of money payments for those in produce or
services. Flourishing cities arose, as in the days of the Roman Empire,
freed themselves from the control of the nobles, and became the homes of
liberty and democracy. The cities, like the kings, were always anti-
feudal. We shall deal with their development in a subsequent chapter
(Chapter XXIII).


There was still another anti-feudal force, namely, the Roman Church. It is
true that many of the higher clergy were feudal lords, and that even the
monasteries owned vast estates which were parceled out among tenants.
Nevertheless, the Roman Church as a universal organization, including men
of all ranks and classes, was necessarily opposed to feudalism, a local
and an aristocratic system. The work and influence of this Church will now
engage our attention.


1. Write a brief essay on feudal society, using the following words: lord;
vassal; castle; keep; dungeon; chivalry; tournament; manor; and serf.

2. Explain the following terms: vassal; fief; serf; "aid"; homage; squire;
investiture; and "relief."

3. Look up the origin of the words homage, castle, dungeon, and chivalry.

4. "The real heirs of Charlemagne were from the first neither the kings of
France nor those of Italy or Germany; but the feudal lords." Comment on
this statement.

5. Why was the feudal system not found in the Roman Empire in the East
during the Middle Ages?

6. Why has feudalism been called "confusion roughly organized"?

7. Contrast feudalism as a political system with (a) the classical city-
states, (b) the Roman Empire, and (c) modern national states.

8. What was the effect of feudalism on the sentiment of patriotism?

9. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of primogeniture as
the rule of inheritance?

10. Explain these phrases: "to be in hot water;" "to go through fire and
water;" and "to haul over the coals."

11. Compare the oaths administered to witnesses in modern courts with
medieval oaths.

12. Why was war the usual condition of feudal society?

13. Compare the "Peace of God" with the earlier "Roman Peace" (_Pax

14. Mention some modern comforts and luxuries which were unknown in feudal

15. What is the present meaning of the word "chivalrous"? How did it get
that meaning?

16. Why has chivalry been called "the blossom of feudalism"?

17. Contrast the ideal of a chivalry with that of monasticism.

18. Show that the serf was not a slave or a "hired man" or a tenant-farmer
paying rent.


[1] See page 312.

[2] The word has nothing to do with "feuds," though these were common
enough in feudal times. It comes from the medieval Latin _feudum_, from
which are desired the French _fief_ and the English _fee_.

[3] See pages 472, 478.

[4] The practice of primogeniture has now been abolished by the laws of
the various European countries and is not recognized in the United States.
It still prevails, however, in England.

[5] Latin _homo_, "man."

[6] Sir Walter Scott's novel, _Ivanhoe_ (chapter xliii), contains an
account of a judicial duel.

[7] See page 326.

[8] See page 331.

[9] See the illustrations, pages 408, 421, 422, 473.

[10] The French form of the word is _chateau_.

[11] A good example is the "White Tower," which forms a part of the Tower
of London. It was built by William the Conqueror. See the illustration,
page 498.

[12] See page 560.

[13] Malory, _Morte d'Arthur_, xxi, 13. See also Tennyson's poem, _Sir
Galahad_, for a beautiful presentation of the ideal knight.

[14] Sir Walter Scott's novel, _Ivanhoe_ (chapter xii), contains a
description of a tournament.

[15] _Don Quixote_, by the Spanish writer, Cervantes (1547-1616 A.D.), is
a famous satire on chivalry. Our American "Mark Twain" also stripped off
the gilt and tinsel of chivalry in his amusing story entitled _A
Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur_.

[16] See page 208.

[17] According to Domesday Book (see page 499) there were 9250 manors, of
which William the Conqueror possessed 1422. His manors lay in about thirty

[18] This "open field" system of agriculture, as it is usually called,
still survives in some parts of Europe. See the plan of Hitchin Manor,
page 435.

[19] See page 581-582.

[20] See page 612.





A preceding chapter dealt with the Christian Church in the East and West
during the early Middle Ages. We learned something about its organization,
belief, and worship, about the rise and growth of the Papacy, about
monasticism, and about that missionary campaign which won all Europe to
Christianity. Our narrative extended to the middle of the eleventh
century, when the quarrel between pope and patriarch led at length to the
disruption of Christendom. We have now to consider the work and influence
of the Roman Church during later centuries of the Middle Ages.


The Church at the height of its power held spiritual sway over all western
Europe. Italy and Sicily, the larger part of Spain, France, Germany,
Hungary, Poland, British Isles, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland
yielded obedience to the pope of Rome.


Membership in the Church was not a matter of free choice. All people,
except Jews, were required to belong to it. A person joined the Church by
baptism, a rite usually performed in infancy, and remained in it as long
as he lived. Every one was expected to conform, at least outwardly, to the
doctrines and practices of the Church, and anyone attacking its authority
was liable to punishment by the state.


The presence of one Church throughout the western world furnished a bond
of union between European peoples during the age of feudalism. The Church
took no heed of political boundaries, for men of all nationalities entered
the ranks of the priesthood and joined the monastic orders. Priests and
monks were subjects of no country, but were "citizens of heaven," as they
sometimes called themselves. Even difference of language counted for
little in the Church, since Latin was the universal speech of the educated
classes. One must think, then, of the Church as a great international
state, in form a monarchy, presided over by the pope, and with its capital
at Rome.


The Church in the Middle Ages performed a double task. On the one hand it
gave the people religious instruction and watched over their morals; on
the other hand it played an important part in European politics and
provided a means of government. Because the Church thus combined
ecclesiastical and civil functions, it was quite unlike all modern
churches, whether Greek, Roman, or Protestant. Both sides of its
activities deserve, therefore, to be considered.



In medieval times every loyal member of the Church accepted without
question its authority in religious matters. The Church taught a belief in
a personal God, all-wise, all-good, all-powerful, to know whom was the
highest goal of life. The avenue to this knowledge lay through faith in
the revelation of God, as found in the Scriptures. Since the unaided human
reason could not properly interpret the Scriptures, it was necessary for
the Church, through her officers, to declare their meaning and set forth
what doctrines were essential to salvation. The Church thus appeared as
the sole repository of religious knowledge, as "the gate of heaven."


Salvation did not depend only on the acceptance of certain beliefs. There
were also certain acts, called "sacraments," in which the faithful
Christian must participate, if he was not to be cut off eternally from
God. These acts formed channels of heavenly grace; they saved man from the
consequences of his sinful nature and filled him with "the fullness of
divine life." Since priests alone could administer the sacraments, [2] the
Church presented itself as the necessary mediator between God and man.


By the thirteenth century seven sacraments were generally recognized. Four
of these marked critical stages in human life, from the cradle to the
grave. Baptism cleansed the child from the taint of original sin and
admitted him into the Christian community. Confirmation gave him full
Church fellowship. Matrimony united husband and wife in holy bonds which
might never be broken. Extreme Unction, the anointing with oil of one
mortally ill, purified the soul and endowed it with strength to meet


Penance held an especially important place in the sacramental system. At
least once a year the Christian must confess his sins to a priest. If he
seemed to be truly repentant, the priest pronounced the solemn words of
absolution and then required him to accept some punishment, which varied
according to the nature of the offense. There was a regular code of
penalties for such sins as drunkenness, avarice, perjury, murder, and
heresy. Penances often consisted in fasting, reciting prayers, abstaining
from one's ordinary amusements, or beating oneself with bundles of rods. A
man who had sinned grievously might be ordered to engage in charitable
work, to make a contribution in money for the support of the Church, or to
go on a pilgrimage to a sacred shrine. The more distant and difficult a
pilgrimage, the more meritorious it was, especially if it led to some very
holy place, such as Rome or Jerusalem. People might also become monks in
order to atone for evil-doing. This system of penitential punishment
referred only to the earthly life; it was not supposed to cleanse the soul
for eternity.


The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, generally known as the Mass, formed
the central feature of worship. It was more than a common meal in
commemoration of the Last Supper of Christ with the Apostles. It was a
solemn ceremony, by which the Christian believed himself to receive the
body and blood of Christ, under the form of bread and wine. [3] The right
of the priest to withhold the Eucharist from any person, for good cause,
gave the Church great power, because the failure to partake of this
sacrament imperiled one's chances of future salvation. It was also
supposed that the benefits of the ceremony in purifying from sin might be
enjoyed by the dead in Purgatory; hence masses were often said for the
repose of their souls.


The seventh and last sacrament, that of Ordination, or "Holy Orders,"
admitted persons to the priesthood. According to the view of the Church
the rite had been instituted by Christ, when He chose the Apostles and
sent them forth to preach the Gospel. From the Apostles, who ordained
their successors, the clergy in all later times received their exalted
authority. [4] Ordination conferred spiritual power and set such an
indelible mark on the character that one who had been ordained could never
become a simple layman again.

From a medieval manuscript. Canterbury with its cathedral appears in the
background. The shrine of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, formed
a celebrated resort for medieval pilgrims. The archbishop had been
murdered in the church (1180 A.D.), if not at the instigation, at any rate
without the opposition of King Henry II, whose policies he opposed.
Becket, who was regarded as a martyr, soon received canonization. Miracles
were said to be worked at his grave and at the well in which his bloody
garments had been washed. He remained the most popular saint in England
until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, when his shrine
was destroyed.]


The Church did not rely solely on the sacramental system as a means to
salvation. It was believed that holy persons, called saints, [5] who had
died and gone to Heaven, offered to God their prayers for men. Hence the
practice arose of invoking the aid of the saints in all the concerns of
life. The earliest saints were Christian martyrs, [6] who had sealed their
faith with their blood. In course of time many other persons, renowned for
pious deeds, were exalted to sainthood. The making of a new saint, after a
rigid inquiry into the merits of the person whom it is proposed to honor,
is now a privilege reserved to the pope.


High above all the saints stood the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
Devotion to her as the "Queen of Heaven" increased rapidly in the Church
after the time of Gregory the Great. The popularity of her cult owed not a
little to the influence of chivalry, [7] for the knight, who vowed to
cherish womanhood, saw in the Virgin the ideal woman. Everywhere churches
arose in her honor, and no cathedral or abbey lacked a chapel dedicated to
Our Lady.


The growing reverence for saints led to an increased interest in relics.
These included the bones of a saint and shreds of his garments, besides
such objects as the wood or nails of the cross on which Christ suffered.
Relics were not simply mementos; they were supposed to possess miraculous
power which passed into them through contact with holy persons. This
belief explains the use of relics to heal diseases, to ward off danger,
and, in general, to bring good fortune. An oath taken upon relics was
especially sacred. [8] Every church building contained a collection of
relics, sometimes amounting to thousands in number, and even private
persons often owned them.


The Church also taught a belief in Purgatory as a state or place of
probation. [9] Here dwelt the souls of those who were guilty of no mortal
sins which would condemn them to Hell, but yet were burdened with
imperfections which prevented them from entering Heaven. Such
imperfections, it was held, might be removed by the prayers of the living,
and hence the practice arose of praying for the dead.



The Church had regular courts and a special system of law [10] for the
trial of offenders against its regulations. Many cases, which to-day would
be decided according to the civil or criminal law of the state, in the
Middle Ages came before the ecclesiastical courts. Since marriage was
considered a sacrament, the Church took upon itself to decide what
marriages were lawful. It forbade the union of first cousins, of second
cousins, and of godparents and godchildren. It refused to sanction
divorce, for whatever cause, if both parties at the time of marriage had
been baptized Christians. The Church dealt with inheritance under wills,
for a man could not make a legal will until he had confessed, and
confession formed part of the sacrament of Penance. All contracts made
binding by oaths came under Church jurisdiction, because an oath was an
appeal to God. [11] The Church tried those who were charged with any sin
against religion, including heresy, blasphemy, the taking of interest
(usury), and the practice of witchcraft. Widows, orphans, and the families
of pilgrims or crusaders also enjoyed the special protection of Church


The Church claimed the privilege of judging all cases which involved
clergymen. No layman, it was declared, ought to interfere with one who, by
the sacrament of Ordination, had been dedicated to God. This demand of the
Church to try its own officers, according to its own mild and intelligent
laws, seems not unreasonable, when we remember how rude were the methods
of feudal justice. But "benefit of clergy," as the privilege was called,
might be abused. Many persons who had no intention of acting as priests or
monks became clergymen, in order to shield themselves behind the Church in
case their misdeeds were exposed.


An interesting illustration of the power of the Church is afforded by the
right of "sanctuary." Any lawbreaker who fled to a church building
enjoyed, for a limited time, the privilege of safe refuge. It was
considered a sin against God to drag even the most wicked criminal from
the altar. The most that could be done was to deny the refugee food, so
that he might come forth voluntarily. This privilege of seeking sanctuary
was not without social usefulness, for it gave time for angry passions to
cool, thus permitting an investigation of the charges against an offender.


Disobedience to the regulations of the Church might be followed by
excommunication. It was a punishment which cut off the offender from all
Christian fellowship. He could not attend religious services nor enjoy the
sacraments so necessary to salvation. If he died excommunicate, his body
could not be buried in consecrated ground. By the law of the state he lost
all civil rights and forfeited all his property. No one might speak to
him, feed him, or shelter him. This terrible penalty, it is well to point
out, was usually imposed only after the sinner had received a fair trial
and had spurned all entreaties to repent. [12]


The interdict, another form of punishment, was directed against a
particular locality, for the fault of some of the inhabitants who could
not be reached directly. In time of interdict the priests closed the
churches and neither married the living nor buried the dead. Of the
sacraments only Baptism, Confirmation, and Penance were permitted. All the
inhabitants of the afflicted district were ordered to fast, as in Lent,
and to let their hair grow long in sign of mourning. The interdict also
stopped the wheels of government, for courts of justice were shut, wills
could not be made, and public officials were forbidden to perform their
duties. In some cases the Church went so far as to lay an interdict upon
an entire kingdom, whose ruler had refused to obey her mandate. [13] The
interdict has now passed out of use, but excommunication still retains its
place among the spiritual weapons of the Church.



Some one has said that in the Middle Ages there were just three classes of
society: the nobles who fought; the peasants who worked; and the clergy
who prayed. The latter class was divided into the secular [14] clergy,
including deacons, priests, and bishops, who lived active lives in the
world, and the regular [15] clergy, or monks, who passed their days in
seclusion behind monastery walls.


It has been already pointed out how early both secular and regular clergy
came to be distinguished from the laity by abstention from money-making
activities, differences in dress, and the obligation of celibacy. [16]
Being unmarried, the clergy had no family cares; being free from the
necessity of earning their own living, they could devote all their time
and energy to the service of the Church. The sacrament of Ordination,
which was believed to endow the clergy with divine power, also helped to
strengthen their influence. They appeared as a distinct order, in whose
charge was the care of souls and in whose hands were the keys of heaven.


An account of the secular clergy naturally begins with the parish priest,
who had charge of a parish, the smallest division of Christendom. No one
could act as a priest without the approval of the bishop, but the nobleman
who supported the parish had the privilege of nominating candidates for
the position. The priest derived his income from lands belonging to the
parish, from tithes, [17] and from voluntary contributions, but as a rule
he received little more than a bare living. The parish priest was the only
Church officer who came continually into touch with the common people. He
baptized, married, and buried his parishioners. For them he celebrated
Mass at least once a week, heard confessions, and granted absolution. He
watched over all their deeds on earth and prepared them for the life to
come. And if he preached little, he seldom failed to set in his own person
an example of right living.


The church, with its spire which could be seen afar off and its bells
which called the faithful to worship, formed the social center of the
parish. Here on Sundays and holy days the people assembled for the morning
and evening services. During the interval between religious exercises they
often enjoyed games and other amusements in the adjoining churchyard. As a
place of public gathering the parish church held an important place in the
life of the Middle Ages.


A group of parishes formed a diocese, over which a bishop presided. It was
his business to look after the property belonging to the diocese, to hold
the ecclesiastical courts, to visit the clergy, and to see that they did
their duty. The bishop alone could administer the sacraments of
Confirmation and Ordination. He also performed the ceremonies at the
consecration of a new church edifice or shrine. Since the Church held vast
estates on feudal tenure, the bishop was usually a territorial lord, owing
a vassal's obligations to the king or to some powerful noble for his land
and himself ruling over vassals in different parts of the country. As
symbols of his power and dignity the bishop wore on his head the miter and
carried the pastoral staff, or crosier. [18]

From an English manuscript of the twelfth century. The bishop wears a
miter and holds in his left hand the pastoral staff, or crosier. His right
hand is extended in blessing over the priest's head.]


Above the bishop in rank stood the archbishop. In England, for example,
there were two archbishops, one residing at York and the other at
Canterbury. The latter, as "primate of all England," was the highest
ecclesiastical dignitary in the land. An archbishop's distinctive vestment
consisted of the _pallium_, a narrow band of white wool, worn around the
neck. The pope alone could confer the right to wear the _pallium_.


The church which contained the official seat or throne [19] of a bishop or
archbishop was called a cathedral. It was ordinarily the largest and most
magnificent church in the diocese. [20]



The regular clergy, or monks, during the early Middle Ages belonged to the
Benedictine order. By the tenth century, however, St. Benedict's Rule had
lost much of its force. As the monasteries increased in wealth through
gifts of land and goods, they sometimes became centers of idleness,
luxury, and corruption. The monks forgot their vows of poverty; and,
instead of themselves laboring as farmers, craftsmen, and students, they
employed laymen to work for them. At the same time powerful feudal lords
frequently obtained control of the monastic estates by appointing as
abbots their children or their retainers. Grave danger existed that the
monasteries would pass out of Church control and decline into mere fiefs
ruled by worldly men.


A great revival of monasticism began in 910 A.D., with the foundation of
the monastery of Cluny in eastern France. The monks of Cluny led lives of
the utmost self-denial and followed the Benedictine Rule in all its
strictness. Their enthusiasm and devotion were contagious; before long
Cluny became a center from which a reformatory movement spread over France
and then over all western Europe. By the middle of the twelfth century
more than three hundred monasteries looked to Cluny for inspiration and


Each of the earlier Benedictine monasteries had been an isolated
community, independent and self-governing. Consequently, when discipline
grew lax or when the abbot proved to be an incapable ruler, it was
difficult to correct the evils which arose. In the Cluniac system,
however, all the monasteries formed parts of one organization, the
"Congregation of Cluny." The abbot of Cluny appointed their "priors," or
heads, and required every monk to pass several years of his monastic life
at Cluny itself. This monarchical arrangement helps to explain why for two
hundred years the abbot of Cluny was, next to the pope, the most important
churchman in western Europe.


Other monastic orders arose in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Of
these, the most important was the Cistercian, founded in 1098 A.D. at
Citeaux, not far from Cluny. The keynote of Cistercian life was the return
to a literal obedience of St. Benedict's Rule. Hence the members of the
order lived in the utmost simplicity, cooking their own meager repasts and
wearing coarse woolen garments woven from the fleeces of their own sheep.
The Cistercians especially emphasized the need for manual labor. They were
the best farmers and cattle breeders of the Middle Ages. Western Europe
owes even more to them than to the Benedictines for their work as pioneers
in the wilderness. "The Cistercians," declared a medieval writer, "are a
model to all monks, a mirror for the diligent, a spur to the indolent."

ST. BERNARD, 1090-1153 A.D.

The whole spirit of medieval monasticism found expression in St. Bernard,
a Burgundian of noble birth. While still a young man he resolved to leave
the world and seek the repose of the monastic life. He entered Citeaux,
carrying with him thirty companions. Mothers are said to have hid their
sons from him, and wives their husbands, lest they should be converted to
monasticism by his persuasive words. After a few years at Citeaux St.
Bernard established the monastery of Clairvaux, over which he ruled as
abbot till his death. His ascetic life, piety, eloquence, and ability as
an executive soon brought him into prominence. People visited Clairvaux
from far and near to listen to his preaching and to receive his counsels.
The monastery flourished under his direction and became the parent of no
less than sixty-five Cistercian houses which were planted in the
wilderness. St. Bernard's activities widened, till he came to be the most
influential man in western Christendom. It was St. Bernard who acted as an
adviser of the popes, at one time deciding between two rival candidates
for the Papacy, who combated most vigorously the heresies of the day, and
who by his fiery appeals set in motion one of the crusades. [21] The charm
of his character is revealed to us in his sermons and letters, while some
of the Latin hymns commonly attributed to him are still sung in many
churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant.



The history of Christian monasticism exhibits an ever-widening social
outlook. The early hermits [22] had devoted themselves, as they believed,
to the service of God by retiring desert for prayer, meditation, and
bodily mortification. St. Benedict's wise Rule, as followed by the
medieval monastic orders, marked a change for the better. It did away with
extreme forms of self-denial, brought the monks together in a common
house, and required them to engage in daily manual labor. Yet even the
Benedictine system had its limitations. The monks lived apart from the
world and sought chiefly the salvation of their own souls. A new
conception of the monastic life arose early in the thirteenth century,
with the coming of the friars. [23] The aim of the friars was social
service. They lived active lives in the world and devoted themselves
entirely to the salvation of others. The foundation of the orders of
friars was the work of two men, St. Francis in Italy and St. Dominic in

ST. FRANCIS, 1181(?)-1226 A.D.

Twenty-eight years after the death of St. Bernard, St. Francis was born at
Assisi. As the son of a rich and prominent merchant St. Francis had before
him the prospect of a fine career in the world. But he put away all
thoughts of fame and wealth, deserted his gay companions, and, choosing
"Lady Poverty" as his bride, started out to minister to lepers and social
outcasts. One day, while attending Mass, the call came to him to preach
the Gospel, as Christ had preached it, among the poor and lowly. The man's
earnestness and charm of manner soon drew about him devoted followers.
After some years St. Francis went to Rome and obtained Pope Innocent III's
sanction of his work. The Franciscan order spread so rapidly that even in
the founder's lifetime there were several thousand members in Italy and
other European countries.

From a painting by the Italian artist Giotto.]


St. Francis is one of the most attractive figures in all history. Perhaps
no other man has ever tried so seriously to imitate in his own life the
life of Christ. St. Francis went about doing good. He resembled, in some
respects, the social workers and revivalist preachers of to-day. In other
respects he was a true child of the Middle Ages. An ascetic, he fasted,
wore a hair-cloth shirt, mixed ashes with his food to make it
disagreeable, wept daily, so that his eyesight was nearly destroyed, and
every night flogged himself with iron chains. A mystic, he lived so close
to God and nature that he could include within the bonds of his love not
only men and women, but also animals, trees, and flowers. He preached a
sermon to the birds and once wrote a hymn to praise God for his
"brothers," sun, wind, and fire, and for his "sisters," moon, water, and
earth. When told that he had but a short time to live, he exclaimed,
"Welcome, Sister Death!" He died at the age of forty-five, worn out by his
exertions and self-denial. Two years later the pope made him a saint.

ST. DOMINIC, 1170-1221 A.D.

St. Dominic, unlike St. Francis, was a clergyman and a student of
theology. After being ordained he went to southern France and labored
there for ten years among a heretical sect known as the Albigenses. The
order of Dominicans grew out of the little band of volunteers who assisted
him in the mission. St. Dominic sent his followers--at first only sixteen
in number--out into the world to combat heresy. They met with great
success, and at the founder's death the Dominicans had as many as sixty
friaries in various European cities.


The Franciscans and Dominicans resembled each other in many ways. They
were "itinerant," going on foot from place to place, and wearing coarse
robes tied round the waist with a rope. They were "mendicants," [24] who
possessed no property but lived on the alms of the charitable. They were
also preachers, who spoke to the people, not in Latin, but in the common
language of each country which they visited. The Franciscans worked
especially in the "slums" of the cities; the Dominicans addressed
themselves rather to educated people and the upper classes. As time went
on, both orders relaxed the rule of poverty and became very wealthy. They
still survive, scattered all over the world and employed in teaching and
missionary activity. [25]


The friars by their preaching and ministrations did a great deal to call
forth a religious revival in Europe during the thirteenth century. In
particular they helped to strengthen the papal authority. Both orders
received the sanction of the pope; both enjoyed many privileges at his
hands; and both looked to him for direction. The pope employed them to
raise money, to preach crusades, and to impose excommunications and
interdicts. The Franciscans and Dominicans formed, in fact, the agents of
the Papacy.



The name "pope" [26] seems at first to have been applied to all priests as
a title of respect and affection. The Greek Church still continues this
use of the word. In the West it gradually came to be reserved to the
bishop of Rome as his official title. The pope was addressed in speaking
as "Your Holiness." His exalted position was further indicated by the
tiara, or headdress with triple crowns, worn by him in processions. [27]
He went to solemn ceremonies sitting in a chair supported on the shoulders
of his guard. He gave audience from an elevated throne, and all who
approached him kissed his feet in reverence. As "Christ's Vicar" he
claimed to be the representative on earth of the Almighty.


The pope was the supreme lawgiver of the Church. His decrees might not be
set aside by any other person. He made new laws in the form of "bulls"
[28] and by his "dispensations" could in particular cases set aside old
laws, such as those forbidding cousins to marry or monks to obtain release
from their vows. The pope was also the supreme judge of the Church, for
all appeals from the lower ecclesiastical courts came before him for
decision. Finally, the pope was the supreme administrator of the Church.
He confirmed the election of bishops, deposed them, when necessary, or
transferred them from one diocese to another. No archbishop might perform
the functions of his office until he had received the _pallium_ from the
pope's hands. The pope also exercised control over the monastic orders and
called general councils of the Church.


The authority of the pope was commonly exercised by the "legates," [29]
whom he sent out as his representatives at the various European courts.
These officers kept the pope in close touch with the condition of the
Church in every part of western Europe. A similar function is performed in
modern times by the papal ambassadors known as "nuncios."


For assistance in government the pope made use of the cardinals, [30] who
formed a board, or "college." At first they were chosen only from the
clergy of Rome and the vicinity, but in course of time the pope opened the
cardinalate to prominent churchmen in all countries. The number of
cardinals is now fixed at seventy, but the college is never full, and
there are always ten or more "vacant hats," as the saying goes. The
cardinals, in the eleventh century, received the right of choosing a new
pope. A cardinal ranks above all other church officers. His dignity is
indicated by the red hat and scarlet robe which he wears and by the title
of "Eminence" applied to him.


To support the business of the Papacy and to maintain the splendor of the
papal court required a large annual income. This came partly from the
States of the Church in Italy, partly from the gifts of the faithful, and
partly from the payments made by abbots, bishops, and archbishops when the
pope confirmed their election to office. Still another source of revenue
consisted of "Peter's Pence," a tax of a penny on each hearth. It was
collected every year in England and in some Continental countries until
the Reformation. The modern "Peter's Pence" is a voluntary contribution
made by Roman Catholics in all countries.


The Eternal City, from which in ancient times the known world had been
ruled, formed in the Middle Ages the capital of the Papacy. Hither every
year came tens of thousands of pilgrims to worship at the shrine of the
Prince of the Apostles. Few traces now remain of the medieval city. Old
St. Peter's Church, where Charlemagne was crowned emperor, [31] gave way
in the sixteenth century to the world-famous structure that now occupies
its site. [32] The Lateran Palace, which for more than a thousand years
served as the residence of the popes, has also disappeared, its place
being taken by a new and smaller building. The popes now live in the
splendid palace of the Vatican, adjoining St. Peter's.


The powers exercised by the popes during the later Middle Ages were not
secured without a struggle. As a matter of fact the concentration of
authority in papal hands was a gradual development covering several
hundred years. The pope reached his exalted position only after a long
contest with the Holy Roman Emperor. This contest forms one of the most
noteworthy episodes in medieval history.

166. POPES AND EMPERORS, 962-1122 A.D.


One might suppose that there could be no interference between pope and
emperor, since they seemed to have separate spheres of action. It was said
that God had made the pope, as the successor of St. Peter, supreme in
spiritual matters and the emperor, as heir of the Roman Caesars, supreme
in temporal matters. The former ruled men's souls, the latter, men's
bodies. The two sovereigns thus divided on equal terms the government of
the world.


The difficulty with this theory was that it did not work. No one could
decide in advance where the authority the pope ended and where that of the
emperor began. When the pope claimed certain powers which were also
claimed by the emperor, a conflict between the two rulers became

A tenth-century mosaic in the church of St. John, Rome. It represents
Christ giving to St. Peter the keys of heaven, and to Constantine the
banner symbolic of earthly dominion.]


In 962 A.D. Otto the Great, as we have learned, [33] restored imperial
rule in the West, thus founding what in later centuries the came to be
known as the Holy Roman Empire. Otto as emperor possessed the rights of
making the city of Rome the imperial capital, of approving the election of
the pope, and, in general, of exerting much influence in papal affairs.
All these rights had been exercised by Charlemagne. But Otto did what
Charlemagne had never done when he deposed a pope who proved disobedient
to his wishes and on his own authority appointed a successor. At the same
time Otto exacted from the people of Rome an oath that they would never
recognize any pope to whose election the emperor had not consented.


The emperors who followed Otto repeatedly interfered in elections to the
Papacy. One strong ruler, Henry III (1039-1056 A.D.), has been called the
"pope-maker." Early in his reign he set aside three rival claimants to the
Papacy, creating a German bishop pope, and on three subsequent occasions
filled the papal throne by fresh appointments. It was clear that if this
situation continued much longer the Papacy would become simply an imperial
office; it would be merged in the Empire.


The death of Henry III, which left the Empire in weak hands, gave the
Papacy a chance to escape the control of the secular power. In 1059 A.D. a
church council held at the Lateran Palace decreed that henceforth the
right of choosing the supreme pontiff should belong exclusively to the
cardinals, who represented the clergy of Rome. This arrangement has tended
to prevent any interference with the election of popes, either by the
Roman people or by foreign sovereigns.


Now that the Papacy had become independent, it began to deal with a grave
problem which affected the Church at large. According to ecclesiastical
rule bishops ought to be chosen by the clergy of their diocese and abbots
of by their monks. With the growth of feudalism, however, many of these
high dignitaries had become vassals, holding their lands as fiefs of
princes, kings, and emperors, and owing the usual feudal dues. Their lords
expected them to perform the ceremony of homage, [34] before "investing"
them with the lands attached to the bishopric or monastery. One can
readily see that in practice the lords really chose the bishops and
abbots, since they could always refuse to "invest" those who were
displeasing to them.


To the reformers in the Church lay investiture appeared intolerable. How
could the Church keep itself unspotted from the world when its highest
officers were chosen by laymen and were compelled to perform unpriestly
duties? In the act of investiture the reformers also saw the sin of simony
[35]--the sale of sacred powers--because there was such a temptation
before the candidate for a bishopric or abbacy to buy the position with
promises or with money.


The lords, on the other hand, believed that as long as bishops and abbots
held vast estates on feudal tenure they should continue to perform the
obligations of vassalage. To forbid lay investiture was to deprive the
lords of all control over Church dignitaries. The real difficulty of the
situation existed, of course, in the fact that the bishops and abbots were
both spiritual officers and temporal rulers, were servants of both the
Church and the State. They found it very difficult to serve two masters.


In 1073 A.D. there came to the throne of St. Peter one of the most
remarkable of the popes. This was Hildebrand, who, on becoming pope, took
the name of Gregory VII. Of obscure Italian birth, he received his
education in a Benedictine monastery at Rome and rose rapidly to a
position of great influence in papal affairs. He is described as a small
man, ungainly in appearance and with a weak voice, but energetic,
forceful, and of imperious will.


Gregory devoted all his talents to the advancement of the Papacy. A
contemporary document, [36] which may have been of Gregory's own
composition and at any rate expresses his ideas, contains the following
statements: "The Roman pontiff alone is properly called universal. He
alone may depose bishops and restore them to office. He is the only person
whose feet are kissed by all princes. He may depose emperors. He may be
judged by no one. He may absolve from their allegiance the subjects of the
wicked. The Roman Church never has erred, and never can err, as the
Scriptures testify." Gregory did not originate these doctrines, but he was
the first pope who ventured to make a practical application of them.


Two years after Gregory became pope he issued a decree against lay
investiture. It declared that no emperor, king, duke, marquis, count, or
any other lay person should presume to grant investiture, under pain of
excommunication. This decree was a general one, applying to all states of
western Europe, but circumstances were such that it mainly affected


Henry IV, the ruler of Germany at this time, did not refuse the papal
challenge. He wrote a famous letter to Gregory, calling him "no pope but
false monk," telling him Christ had never called him to the priesthood,
and bidding him "come down;" "come down" from St. Peter's throne. Gregory,
in reply, deposed Henry as emperor, excommunicated him, and freed his
subjects from their allegiance.

CANOSSA, 1077 A.D.

This severe sentence made a profound impression in Germany. Henry's
adherents fell away, and it seemed probable that the German nobles would
elect another ruler in his stead. Henry then decided on abject submission.
He hastened across the Alps and found the pope at the castle of Canossa,
on the northern slopes of the Apennines. It was January, and the snow lay
deep on the ground. For three days the emperor stood shivering outside the
castle gate, barefoot and clad in a coarse woolen shirt, the garb of a
penitent. At last, upon the entreaties of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany,
Gregory admitted Henry and granted absolution. It was a strange and moving
spectacle, one which well expressed the tremendous power which the Church
in the Middle Ages exercised over the minds of men.

From a manuscript of the twelfth century now in the Vatican Library at


The dramatic scene at Canossa did not end the investiture conflict. It
dragged on for half a century, being continued after Gregory's death by
the popes who succeeded him. At last in 1122 A.D. the opposing parties
agreed to what is known as the Concordat of Worms, from the old German
city where it was signed.


The concordat drew a distinction between spiritual and lay investiture.
The emperor renounced investiture by the ring and crosier--the emblems of
spiritual authority--and permitted bishops and abbots to be elected by the
clergy and confirmed in office by the pope. On the other hand the pope
recognized the emperor's right to be present at all elections and to
invest bishops and abbots by the scepter for whatever lands they held
within his domains. This reasonable compromise worked well for a time. But
it was a truce, not a peace. It did not settle the more fundamental issue,
whether the Papacy or the Holy Roman Empire should be supreme.

167. POPES AND EMPERORS, 1122-1273 A.D.


Thirty years after the signing of the Concordat of Worms the emperor
Frederick I, called Barbarossa from his red beard, succeeded to the
throne. Frederick, the second emperor, of the Hohenstaufen dynasty [37]
was capable, imaginative, and ambitious. He took Charlemagne and Otto the
Great as his models and aspired like them to rule Christian Europe and the
Church. His reign is the story of many attempts, ending at length in
failure, to unite all Italy into a single state under German sway.


Frederick's Italian policy brought him at once into conflict with two
powerful enemies. The popes, who feared that his success would imperil the
independence of the Papacy, opposed him at every step. The great cities of
northern Italy, which were also threatened by Frederick's soaring schemes,
united in the Lombard League to defend their freedom. The popes gave the
league their support, and in 1176 A.D. Frederick was badly beaten at the
battle of Legnano. The haughty emperor confessed himself conquered, and
sought reconciliation with the pope, Alexander III. In the presence of a
vast throng assembled before St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, Frederick
knelt before the pope and humbly kissed his feet. Just a century had
passed since the humiliation of Henry IV at Canossa.


The Papacy reached the height of its power under Innocent III. The
eighteen years of his pontificate were one long effort, for the most part
successful, to make the pope the arbiter of Europe. Innocent announced the
claims of the Papacy in the most uncompromising manner. "As the moon," he
declared, "receives its light from the sun, and is inferior to the sun, so
do kings receive all their glory and dignity from the Holy See." This
meant, according to Innocent, that the pope has the right to interfere in
all secular matters and in the quarrels of rulers. "God," he continued,
"has set the Prince of the Apostles over kings and kingdoms, with a
mission to tear up, plant, destroy, scatter, and rebuild."


That Innocent's claims were not idle boasts is shown by what he
accomplished. When Philip Augustus, king of France, divorced his wife and
made another marriage, Innocent declared the divorce void and ordered him
to take back his discarded queen. Philip refused, and Innocent, through
his legate, put France under an interdict. From that hour all religious
rites ceased. The church doors were barred; the church bells were silent,
the sick died unshriven, the dead lay unburied. Philip, deserted by his
retainers, was compelled to submit.


On another occasion Innocent ordered John, the English king, to accept as
archbishop of Canterbury a man of his own choosing. When John declared
that he would never allow the pope's appointee to set foot on English
soil, Innocent replied by excommunicating him and laying his kingdom under
an interdict. John also had to yield and went so far as to surrender
England and Ireland to the pope, receiving them back again as fiefs, for
which he promised to pay a yearly rent. This tribute money was actually
paid, though irregularly, for about a century and a half.


Innocent further exhibited his power by elevating to the imperial throne
Frederick II, grandson of Frederick Barbarossa. The young man, after
Innocent's death, proved to be a most determined opponent of the Papacy.
He passed much of his long reign in Italy, warring vainly against the
popes and the Lombard cities. Frederick died in 1250 A.D., and with him
the Holy Roman Empire really ceased to exist. [38] None of the succeeding
holders of the imperial title exercised any authority outside of Germany.

INTERREGNUM, 1254-1273 A.D.

The death of Frederick II's son in 1254 A.D. ended the Hohenstaufen
dynasty. There now ensued what is called the Interregnum, a period of
nineteen years, during which Germany was without a ruler. At length the
pope sent word to the German electors that if they did not choose an
emperor, he would himself do so. The electors then chose Rudolf of
Hapsburg [39] (1273 A.D.). Rudolf gained papal support by resigning all
claims on Italy, but recompensed himself through the conquest of Austria.
[40] Ever since this time the Hapsburg dynasty has filled the Austrian


The conflict between popes and emperors was now ended. Its results were
momentous. Germany, so long neglected by its rightful rulers, who pursued
the will-o'-the-wisp in Italy, broke up into a mass of duchies, counties,
archbishoprics, and free cities. The map of the country at this time shows
how numerous were these small feudal states. They did not combine into a
strong government till the nineteenth century. [41] Italy likewise
remained disunited and lacked even a common monarch. The real victor was
the Papacy, which had crushed the Empire and had prevented the union of
Italy and Germany.

[Illustration: Map, GERMANY AND ITALY During the Interregnum 1254-1273



Medieval society, we have now learned, owed much to the Church, both as a
teacher of religion and morals and as an agency of government. It remains
to ask what was the attitude of the Church toward the great social
problems of the Middle Ages. In regard to warfare, the prevalence of which
formed one of the worst evils of the time, the Church, in general, cast
its influence on the side of peace. It deserves credit for establishing
the Peace and the Truce of God and for many efforts to heal strife between
princes and nobles. Yet, as will be shown, the Church did not carry the
advocacy of peace so far as to condemn warfare against heretics and
infidels. Christians believed that it was a religious duty to exterminate
these enemies of God.


The Church was distinguished for charitable work. The clergy received
large sums for distribution to the needy. From the doors of the
monasteries, the poor, the sick, and the infirm of every sort were never
turned away. Medieval charity, however, was very often injudicious. The
problem of removing the causes of poverty seems never to have been raised;
and the indiscriminate giving multiplied, rather than reduced, the number
of beggars.


Neither slavery nor serfdom, into which slavery gradually passed, [42] was
ever pronounced unlawful by pope or Church council. The Church condemned
slavery only when it was the servitude of a Christian in bondage to a Jew
or an infidel. Abbots, bishops, and popes possessed slaves and serfs. The
serfs of some wealthy monasteries were counted by thousands. The Church,
however, encouraged the freeing of bondmen as a meritorious act and always
preached the duty of kindness and forbearance toward them.


The Church also helped to promote the cause of human freedom by insisting
on the natural equality of all men in the sight of God. "The Creator,"
wrote one of the popes, "distributes his gifts without regard to social
classes. In his eyes there are neither nobles nor serfs." It was not
necessary to be of noble birth to become a bishop, a cardinal, or a pope.
Even serfs succeeded to the chair of St. Peter. Naturally enough, the
Church attracted the keenest minds of the age, a fact which largely
explains the influence exerted by the clergy.


The influence of the clergy in medieval Europe was also due to the fact
that they were almost the only persons of education. Few except churchmen
were able to read or write. So generally was this the case that an
offender could prove himself a clergyman, thus securing "benefit of
clergy," [43] if he showed his ability to read a single line. It is
interesting, also, to note that the word "clerk," which comes from the
Latin _clericus_, was originally limited to churchmen, since they alone
could keep accounts, write letters, and perform other secretarial duties.


It is clear that priests and monks had much importance quite aside from
their religious duties. They controlled the schools, wrote the books,
framed the laws, and, in general, acted as leaders and molders of public
opinion. A most conspicuous instance of the authority wielded by them is
seen in the crusades. These holy wars of Christendom against Islam must
now be considered.


1. Explain the following terms: abbot; prior; archbishop; parish; diocese;
regular clergy; secular clergy; friar; excommunication; simony; interdict;
sacrament; "benefit of clergy"; right of "sanctuary"; crosier; miter;
tiara; papal indulgence; bull; dispensation; tithes; and "Peter's Pence."

2. Mention some respects in which the Roman Church in the Middle Ages
differed from any religious society of the present day.

3. "Medieval Europe was a camp with a church in the background." Comment
on this statement.

4. Explain the statement that "the Church, throughout the Middle Ages, was
a government as well as an ecclesiastical organization."

5. Distinguish between the _faith_ of the Church, the _organization_ of
the Church, and the Church as a _force_ in history.

6. How did the belief in Purgatory strengthen the hold of the Church upon
men's minds?

7. Name several historic characters who have been made saints.

8. Why has the Roman Church always refused to sanction divorce?

9. Compare the social effects of excommunication with those of a modern

10. What reasons have led the Church to insist upon celibacy of the

11. Name four famous monks and four famous monasteries.

12. Could monks enter the secular clergy and thus become parish priests
and bishops?

13. Mention two famous popes who had been monks.

14. What justification was found in the New Testament (_Matthew_, x 8-10)
for the organization of the orders of friars?

15. How did the Franciscans and Dominicans supplement each other's work?

16. "The monks and the friars were the militia of the Church." Comment on
this statement.

17. Who is the present Pope? When and by whom was he elected? In what city
does he reside? What is his residence called?

18. Why has the medieval Papacy been called the "ghost" of the Roman

19. In what sense is it true that the Holy Roman Empire was "neither holy
nor Roman, nor an empire"?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Medieval and Modern History_, chapter x,
"Monastic Life in the Twelfth Century"; chapter xi, "St. Francis and the

[2] In case of necessity baptism might be performed by any lay person of
adult years and sound mind.

[3] This doctrine is known as transubstantiation. In the Roman Church, as
has been noted (page 363), wine is not administered to the laity.

[4] Hence the term "Apostolical Succession."

[5] Latin sanctus, "holy."

[6] See page 234.

[7] See page 431.

[8] See pages 407, 418.

[9] The belief in Purgatory is not held by Protestants or by members of
the Greek Church.

[10] The so-called "canon law." See page 568.

[11] See page 420.

[12] For two instances of the use of excommunication see pages 459 and

[13] For two instances of this sort see page 461.

[14] Latin _saeculum_, used in the sense of "the world."

[15] Latin _regula_, a "rule", referring to the rule or constitution of a
monastic order.

[16] See page 343.

[17] The tithe was a tenth part of the yearly income from land, stock, and
personal industry.

[18] See illustration, page 447.

[19] Latin _cathedra_.

[20] For the architecture of a medieval cathedral see pages 562-565.

[21] See page 474.

[22] See page 352.

[23] Latin _frater_, "brother."

[24] Latin _mendicare_, "to beg."

[25] In England the Franciscans, from the color of their robes, were
called Gray Friars, the Dominicans, Black Friars.

[26] Latin _papa_, "father."

[27] See the illustration, page 348.

[28] So called from the lead seal (Latin _bulla_) attached to papal

[29] Latin _legatus_, "deputy."

[30] Latin _cardinalus_, "principal."

[31] See page 311.

[32] See the plate facing page 591.

[33] See page 317.

[34] See page 418.

[35] A name derived from Simon Magus, who offered money to the Apostle
Peter for the power to confer the Holy Spirit. See _Acts_, viii, 18-20.

[36] The so-called _Dictatus papae_.

[37] The name of this German family comes from that of their castle in
southwestern Swabia.

[38] It survived in name until 1806 A.D., when the Austrian ruler, Francis
II, laid down the imperial crown and the venerable title of "Holy Roman

[39] Hapsburg as the name of a castle in northern Switzerland.

[40] See page 522.

[41] The modern German Empire dates from 1871 A.D.

[42] See pages 436-437.

[43] See page 444.





The series of military expeditions, undertaken by the Christians of Europe
for the purpose of recovering the Holy Land from the Moslems, have
received the name of crusades. In their widest aspect the crusades may be
regarded as a renewal of the age-long contest between East and West, in
which the struggle of Greeks and Persians and of Romans and Carthaginians
formed the earlier episodes. The contest assumed a new character when
Europe had become Christian and Asia Mohammedan. It was not only two
contrasting types of civilization but also two rival world religions which
in the eighth century faced each other under the walls of Constantinople
and on the battlefield of Tours. Now, during the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, they were to meet again.


Seven or eight chief crusades are usually enumerated. To number them,
however, obscures the fact that for nearly two hundred years Europe and
Asia were engaged in almost constant warfare. Throughout this period there
was a continuous movement of crusaders to and from the Moslem possessions
in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.


The crusades were first and foremost a spiritual enterprise. They sprang
from the pilgrimages which Christians had long been accustomed to make to
the scenes of Christ's life on earth. Men considered it a wonderful
privilege to see the cave in which He was born, to kiss the spot where He
died, and to kneel in prayer at His tomb. The eleventh century saw an
increased zeal for pilgrimages, and from this time travelers to the Holy
Land were very numerous. For greater security they often joined themselves
in companies and marched under arms. It needed little to transform such
pilgrims into crusaders.

A picture in an eleventh-century window, formerly in the church of St.
Denis, near Paris.]


The Arab conquest of the Holy Land had not interrupted the stream of
pilgrims, for the early caliphs were more tolerant of unbelievers than
Christian emperors of heretics. But after the coming of the Seljuk Turks
into the East, pilgrimages became more difficult and dangerous. The Turks
were a ruder people than the Arabs whom they displaced, and in their
fanatic zeal for Islam were not inclined to treat the Christians with
consideration. Many tales floated back to Europe of the outrages committed
on the pilgrims and on the sacred shrines venerated by all Christendom.
Such stories, which lost nothing in the telling, aroused a storm of
indignation throughout Europe and awakened the desire to rescue the Holy
Land from the grasp of the "infidel."


But the crusades were not simply an expression of the simple faith of the
Middle Ages. Something more than religious enthusiasm sent an unending
procession of crusaders along the highways of Europe and over the
trackless wastes of Asia Minor to Jerusalem. The crusades, in fact,
appealed strongly to the warlike instincts of the feudal nobles. They saw
in an expedition against the East an unequaled opportunity for acquiring
fame, riches, lands, and power. The Normans were especially stirred by the
prospect of adventure and plunder which the crusading movement opened up.
By the end of the eleventh century they had established themselves in
southern Italy and Sicily, from which they now looked across the
Mediterranean for further lands to conquer. [2] Norman knights formed a
very large element in several of the crusaders' armies.


The crusades also attracted the lower classes. So great was the misery of
the common people in medieval Europe that for them it seemed not a
hardship, but rather a relief, to leave their homes in order to better
themselves abroad. Famine and pestilence, poverty and oppression, drove
them to emigrate hopefully to the golden East.


The Church, in order to foster the crusades, promised both religious and
secular benefits to those who took part in them. A warrior of the Cross
was to enjoy forgiveness of all his past sins. If he died fighting for the
faith, he was assured of an immediate entrance to the joys of Paradise.
The Church also freed him from paying interest on his debts and threatened
with excommunication anyone who molested his wife, his children, or his

170. FIRST CRUSADE, 1095-1099 A.D.


The signal for the First Crusade was given by the conquests of the Seljuk
Turks. [3] These barbarians, at first the mercenaries and then the masters
of the Abbasid caliphs, infused fresh energy into Islam. They began a new
era of Mohammedan expansion by winning almost the whole of Asia Minor from
the Roman Empire in the East. One of their leaders established himself at
Nicaea, the scene of the first Church Council, [4] and founded the
sultanate of Rum (Rome).


The presence of the Turks so close to Constantinople was a standing menace
to all Europe. The able emperor, Alexius I, on succeeding to the throne
toward the close of the eleventh century, took steps to expel the
invaders. He could not draw on the hardy tribes of Asia Minor for the
soldiers he needed, but with reinforcements from the West he hoped to
recover the lost provinces of the empire. Accordingly, in 1095 A.D.,
Alexius sent an embassy to Pope Urban II, the successor of Gregory VII,
requesting aid. The fact that the emperor appealed to the pope, rather
than to any king, shows what a high place the Papacy then held in the
affairs of Europe.


To the appeal of Alexius, Urban lent a willing ear. He summoned a great
council of clergy and nobles to meet at Clermont in France. Here, in an
address which, measured by its results, was the most momentous recorded in
history, Pope Urban preached the First Crusade. He said little about the
dangers which threatened the Roman Empire in the East from the Turks, but
dwelt chiefly on the wretched condition of the Holy Land, with its
churches polluted by unbelievers and its Christian inhabitants tortured
and enslaved. Then, turning to the proud knights who stood by, Urban
called upon them to abandon their wicked practice of private warfare and
take up arms, instead, against the infidel. "Christ Himself," he cried,
"will be your leader, when, like the Israelites of old, you fight for
Jerusalem.... Start upon the way to the Holy Sepulcher; wrench the land
from the accursed race, and subdue it yourselves. Thus shall you spoil
your foes of their wealth and return home victorious, or, purpled with
your own blood, receive an everlasting reward."


Urban's trumpet call to action met an instant response. From the assembled
host there went up, as it were, a single shout: "God wills it! God wills
it!" "It is, in truth, His will," answered Urban, "and let these words be
your war cry when you unsheath your swords against the enemy." Then man
after man pressed forward to receive the badge of a crusader, a cross of
red cloth. [5] It was to be worn on the breast, when the crusader went
forth, and on the back, when he returned.


The months which followed the Council of Clermont were marked by an
epidemic of religious excitement in western Europe. Popular preachers
everywhere took up the cry "God wills it!" and urged their hearers to
start for Jerusalem. A monk named Peter the Hermit aroused large parts of
France with his passionate eloquence, as he rode from town to town,
carrying a huge cross before him and preaching to vast crowds. Without
waiting for the main body of nobles, which was to assemble at
Constantinople in the summer of 1096 A.D., a horde of poor men, women, and
children set out, unorganized and almost unarmed, on the road to the Holy
Land. One of these crusading bands, led by Peter the Hermit, managed to
reach Constantinople, after suffering terrible hardships. The emperor
Alexius sent his ragged allies as quickly as possible to Asia Minor, where
most of them were slaughtered by the Turks.


Meanwhile real armies were gathering in the West. Recruits came in greater
numbers from France than from any other country, a circumstance which
resulted in the crusaders being generally called "Franks" by their Moslem
foes. They had no single commander, but each contingent set out for
Constantinople by its own route and at its own time. [6]


The crusaders included among their leaders some of the most distinguished
representatives of European knighthood. Count Raymond of Toulouse headed a
band of volunteers from Provence in southern France. Godfrey of Bouillon
and his brother Baldwin commanded a force of French and Germans from the
Rhinelands. Normandy sent Robert, William the Conqueror's eldest son. The
Normans from Italy and Sicily were led by Bohemond, a son of Robert
Guiscard, [7] and his nephew Tancred.


Though the crusaders probably did not number more than fifty thousand
fighting men, the disunion which prevailed among the Turks favored the
success of their enterprise. With some assistance from the eastern emperor
they captured Nicaea, overran Asia Minor, and at length reached Antioch,
the key to northern Syria. The city fell after a siege of seven months,
but the crusaders were scarcely within the walls before they found
themselves besieged by a large Turkish army. The crusaders were now in a
desperate plight: famine wasted their ranks; many soldiers deserted; and
Alexius disappointed all hope of rescue. But the news of the discovery in
an Antioch church of the Holy Lance which had pierced the Savior's side
restored their drooping spirits. The whole army issued forth from the
city, bearing the relic as a standard, and drove the Turks in headlong
flight. This victory opened the road to Jerusalem.

More correctly called the Dome of the Rock. It was erected in 691 A.D.,
but many restorations have taken place since that date. The walls
enclosing the entire structure were built in the ninth century, and the
dome is attributed to Saladin (1189 A.D.). This building, with its
brilliant tiles covering the walls and its beautiful stained glass, is a
fine example of Mohammedan architecture.]


Reduced now to perhaps one-fourth of their original numbers, the crusaders
advanced slowly to the city which formed the goal of all their efforts.
Before attacking it they marched barefoot in religious procession around
the walls, with Peter the Hermit at their head. Then came the grand
assault. Godfrey of Bouillon and Tancred were among the first to mount the
ramparts. Once inside the city, the crusaders massacred their enemies
without mercy. Afterwards, we are told, they went "rejoicing, nay for
excess of joy weeping, to the tomb of our Savior to adore and give



After the capture of Jerusalem the crusaders met to elect a king. Their
choice fell upon Godfrey of Bouillon. He refused to wear a crown of gold
in the city where Christ had worn a crown of thorns and accepted, instead,
the modest title of "Protector of the Holy Sepulcher." [8] Godfrey died
the next year and his brother Baldwin, who succeeded him, being less
scrupulous, was crowned king at Bethlehem. The new kingdom contained
nearly a score of fiefs, whose lords made war, administered justice, and
coined money, like independent rulers. The main features of European
feudalism were thus transplanted to Asiatic soil.


The winning of Jerusalem and the district about it formed hardly more than
a preliminary stage in the conquest of Syria. Much fighting was still
necessary before the crusaders could establish themselves firmly in the
country. Instead of founding one strong power in Syria, they split up
their possessions into the three principalities of Tripoli, Antioch, and
Edessa. These small states owed allegiance to the Latin Kingdom of


The ability of the crusaders' states to maintain themselves for many years
in Syria was largely due to the foundation of two military-religious
orders. The members were both monks and knights; that is, to the monastic
vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience they added a fourth vow, which
bound them to protect pilgrims and fight the infidels. Such a combination
of religion and warfare made a strong appeal to the medieval mind.


The Hospitalers, the first of these orders, grew out of a brotherhood for
the care of sick pilgrims in a hospital at Jerusalem. Many knights joined
the organization, which soon proved to be very useful in defending the
Holy Land. Even more important were the Templars, so called because their
headquarters in Jerusalem lay near the site of Solomon's Temple. Both
orders built many castles in Syria, the remains of which still impress the
beholder. They established numerous branches in Europe and, by presents
and legacies, acquired vast wealth. The Templars were disbanded in the
fourteenth century, but the Hospitalers continued to fight valiantly
against the Turks long after the close of the crusading movement. [9]

Temple Church, London. Shows the kind of armor worn between 1190 and 1225


The depleted ranks of the crusaders were constantly filled by fresh bands
of pilgrim knights who visited Palestine to pray at the Holy Sepulcher and
cross swords with the infidel. In spite of constant border warfare much
trade and friendly intercourse prevailed between Christians and Moslems.
They learned to respect one another both as foes and neighbors. The
crusaders' states in Syria became, like Spain [10] and Sicily, [11] a
meeting-place of East and West.

172. SECOND CRUSADE, 1147-1149 A.D., AND THIRD CRUSADE, 1189-1192 A.D.


The success of the Christians in the First Crusade had been largely due to
the disunion among their enemies. But the Moslems learned in time the
value of united action, and in 1144 A.D. succeeded in capturing Edessa,
one of the principal Christian outposts in the East. The fall of the city,
followed by the loss of the entire county of Edessa, aroused western
Europe to the danger which threatened the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and
led to another crusading enterprise.


The apostle of the Second Crusade was the great abbot of Clairvaux, St.
Bernard. [12] Scenes of the wildest enthusiasm marked his preaching. When
the churches were not large enough to hold the crowds which flocked to
hear him, he spoke from platforms erected in the fields. St. Bernard's
eloquence induced two monarchs, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of
Germany, to take the blood-red cross of a crusader.


The Second Crusade, though begun under the most favorable auspices, had an
unhappy ending. Of the great host that set out from Europe, only a few
thousands escaped annihilation in Asia Minor at the hands of the Turks.
Louis and Conrad, with the remnants of their armies, made a joint attack
on Damascus, but had to raise the siege after a few days. This closed the
crusade. As a chronicler of the expedition remarked, "having practically
accomplished nothing, the inglorious ones returned home."


Not many years after the Second Crusade, the Moslem world found in the
famous Saladin a leader for a holy war against the Christians. Saladin in
character was a typical Mohammedan, very devout in prayers and fasting,
fiercely hostile toward unbelievers, and full of the pride of race. To
these qualities he added a kindliness and humanity not surpassed, if
equaled, by any of his Christian foes. He lives in eastern history and
legend as the hero who stemmed once for all the tide of European conquest
in Asia.


Having made himself sultan of Egypt, Saladin united the Moslems of Syria
under his sway and then advanced against the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The Christians met him in a great battle near the lake of Galilee. It
ended in the rout of their army and the capture of their king. Even the
Holy Cross, which they had carried in the midst of the fight, became the
spoil of the conqueror. Saladin quickly reaped the fruits of victory. The
Christian cities of Syria opened their gates to him, and at last Jerusalem
itself surrendered after a short siege. Little now remained of the
possessions which the crusaders had won in the East.


The news of the taking of Jerusalem spread consternation throughout
western Christendom. The cry for another crusade arose on all sides. Once
more thousands of men sewed the cross in gold, or silk, or cloth upon
their garments and set out for the Holy Land. When the three greatest
rulers of Europe--Philip Augustus, [13] king of France, Richard I, king of
England, and the German emperor, Frederick Barbarossa [14]--assumed the
cross, it seemed that nothing could prevent the restoration of Christian
supremacy in Syria.


The Germans under Frederick Barbarossa were the first to start. This great
emperor was now nearly seventy years old, yet age had not lessened his
crusading zeal. He took the overland route and after much hard fighting
reached southern Asia Minor. Here, however, he was drowned, while trying
to cross a swollen stream. Many of his discouraged followers at once
returned to Germany; a few of them, however, pressed on and joined the
other crusaders before the walls of Acre.

[Illustration: RICHARD I IN PRISON
From an illuminated manuscript of the thirteenth century. King Richard on
his return from the Holy Land was shipwrecked off the coast of the
Adriatic. Attempting to travel through Austria in disguise, he was
captured by the duke of Austria, whom he had offended at the siege of
Acre. The king regained his liberty only by paying a ransom equivalent to
more than twice the annual revenues of England.]


The expedition of the French and English achieved little. Philip and
Richard, who came by sea, captured Acre after a hard siege, but their
quarrels prevented them from following up this initial success. Philip
soon went home, leaving the further conduct of the crusade in Richard's


The English king remained for fourteen months longer in the Holy Land. His
campaigns during this time gained for him the title of "Lion-hearted,"
[15] by which he is always known. He had many adventures and performed
knightly exploits without number, but could not capture Jerusalem.
Tradition declares that when, during a truce, some crusaders went up to
Jerusalem, Richard refused to accompany them, saying that he would not
enter as a pilgrim the city which he could not rescue as a conqueror. He
and Saladin finally concluded a treaty by the terms of which Christians
were permitted to visit Jerusalem without paying tribute. Richard then set
sail for England, and with his departure from the Holy Land the Third
Crusade came to an end.



The real author of the Fourth Crusade was the famous pope, Innocent III.
[16] Young, enthusiastic, and ambitious for the glory of the Papacy, he
revived the plans of Urban II and sought once more to unite the forces of
Christendom against Islam. No emperor or king answered his summons, but a
number of knights (chiefly French) took the crusader's vow.


The leaders of the crusade decided to make Egypt their objective point,
since this country was then the center of the Moslem power. Accordingly,
the crusaders proceeded to Venice, for the purpose of securing
transportation across the Mediterranean. The Venetians agreed to furnish
the necessary ships only on condition that the crusaders first seized Zara
on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Zara was a Christian city, but it
was also a naval and commercial rival of Venice. In spite of the pope's
protests the crusaders besieged and captured the city. Even then they did
not proceed against the Moslems. The Venetians persuaded them to turn
their arms against Constantinople. The possession of that great capital
would greatly increase Venetian trade and influence in the East; for the
crusading nobles it held out endless opportunities of acquiring wealth and
power. Thus it happened that these soldiers of the Cross, pledged to war
with the Moslems, attacked a Christian city, which for centuries had
formed the chief bulwark of Europe against the Arab and the Turk.


The crusaders--now better styled the invaders--took Constantinople by
storm. No "infidels" could have treated in worse fashion this home of
ancient civilization. They burned down a great part of it; they
slaughtered the inhabitants; they wantonly destroyed monuments, statues,
paintings, and manuscripts--the accumulation of a thousand years. Much of
the movable wealth they carried away. Never, declared an eye-witness of
the scene, had there been such plunder since the world began.


The victors hastened to divide between them the lands of the Roman Empire
in the East. Venice gained some districts in Greece, together with nearly
all the Aegean islands. The chief crusaders formed part of the remaining
territory into the Latin Empire of Constantinople. It was organized in
fiefs, after the feudal manner. There was a prince of Achaia, a duke of
Athens, a marquis of Corinth, and a count of Thebes. Large districts, both
in Europe and Asia, did not acknowledge, however, these "Latin" rulers.
The new empire lived less than sixty years. At the end of this time the
Greeks returned to power.


Constantinople, after the Fourth Crusade, declined in strength and could
no longer cope with the barbarians menacing it. Two centuries later the
city fell an easy victim to the Turks. [17] The responsibility for the
disaster which gave the Turks a foothold in Europe rests on the heads of
the Venetians and the French nobles. Their greed and lust for power turned
the Fourth Crusade into a political adventure.


The so-called Children's Crusade illustrates at once the religious
enthusiasm and misdirected zeal which marked the whole crusading movement.
During the year 1212 A.D. thousands of French children assembled in bands
and marched through the towns and villages, carrying banners, candles, and
crosses and singing, "Lord God, exalt Christianity. Lord God, restore to
us the true cross." The children could not be restrained at first, but
finally hunger compelled them to return home. In Germany, during the same
year, a lad named Nicholas really did succeed in launching a crusade. He
led a mixed multitude of men and women, boys and girls over the Alps into
Italy, where they expected to take ship for Palestine. But many perished
of hardships, many were sold into slavery, and only a few ever saw their
homes again. "These children," Pope Innocent III declared, "put us to
shame; while we sleep they rush to recover the Holy Land."


The crusading movement came to an end by the close of the thirteenth
century. The emperor Frederick II [18] for a short time recovered
Jerusalem by a treaty, but in 1244 A.D. the Holy City became again a
possession of the Moslems. They have never since relinquished it. Acre,
the last Christian post in Syria, fell in 1291 A.D., and with this event
the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem ceased to exist. The Hospitalers, or
Knights of St. John, still kept possession of the important islands of
Cyprus and Rhodes, which long served as a barrier to Moslem expansion over
the Mediterranean.



The crusades, judged by what they set out to accomplish, must be accounted
an inglorious failure. After two hundred years of conflict, after a vast
expenditure of wealth and human lives, the Holy Land remained in Moslem
hands. It is true that the First Crusade did help, by the conquest of
Syria, to check the advance of the Turks toward Constantinople. But even
this benefit was more than undone by the weakening of the Roman Empire in
the East as a result of the Fourth Crusade.


Of the many reasons for the failure of the crusades, three require special
consideration. In the first place, there was the inability of eastern and
western Europe to cooperate in supporting the holy wars. A united
Christendom might well have been invincible. But the bitter antagonism
between the Greek and Roman churches [19] effectually prevented all unity
of action. The emperors at Constantinople, after the First Crusade, rarely
assisted the crusaders and often secretly hindered them. In the second
place, the lack of sea-power, as seen in the earlier crusades, worked
against their success. Instead of being able to go by water directly to
Syria, it was necessary to follow the long, overland route from France or
Germany through Hungary, Bulgaria, the territory of the Roman Empire in
the East, and the deserts and mountains of Asia Minor. The armies that
reached their destination after this toilsome march were in no condition
for effective campaigning. In the third place, the crusaders were never
numerous enough to colonize so large a country as Syria and absorb its
Moslem population. They conquered part of Syria in the First Crusade, but
could not hold it permanently in the face of determined resistance.


In spite of these and other reasons the Christians of Europe might have
continued much longer their efforts to recover the Holy Land, had they not
lost faith in the movement. But after two centuries the old crusading
enthusiasm died out, the old ideal of the crusade as "the way of God" lost
its spell. Men had begun to think less of winning future salvation by
visits to distant shrines and to think more of their present duties to the
world about them. They came to believe that Jerusalem could best be won as
Christ and the Apostles had won it--"by love, by prayers, and by the
shedding of tears."


The crusades could not fail to affect in many ways the life of western
Europe. For instance, they helped to undermine feudalism. Thousands of
barons and knights mortgaged or sold their lands in order to raise money
for a crusading expedition. Thousands more perished in Syria and their
estates, through failure of heirs, reverted to the crown. Moreover,
private warfare, that curse of the Middle Ages, [20] also tended to die
out with the departure for the Holy Land of so many turbulent feudal
lords. Their decline in both numbers and influence, and the corresponding
growth of the royal authority, may best be traced in the changes that came
about in France, the original home of the crusading movement.


One of the most important effects of the crusades was on commerce. They
created a constant demand for the transportation of men and supplies,
encouraged ship-building, and extended the market for eastern wares in
Europe. The products of Damascus, Mosul, Alexandria, Cairo, and other
great cities were carried across the Mediterranean to the Italian
seaports, whence they found their way into all European lands. The
elegance of the Orient, with its silks, tapestries, precious stones,
perfumes, spices, pearls, and ivory, was so enchanting that an
enthusiastic crusader called it "the vestibule of Paradise."


Finally, it must be noted how much the crusades contributed to
intellectual and social progress. They brought the inhabitants of western
Europe into close relations with one another, with their fellow Christians
of the Roman Empire in the East, and with the natives of Asia Minor,
Syria, and Egypt. The intercourse between Christians and Moslems was
particularly stimulating, because the East at this time surpassed the West
in civilization. The crusaders enjoyed the advantages which come from
travel in strange lands and among unfamiliar peoples. They went out from
their castles or villages to see great cities, marble palaces, superb
dresses, and elegant manners; they returned with finer tastes, broader
ideas, and wider sympathies. Like the conquests of Alexander the Great,
the crusades opened up a new world.


When all is said, the crusades remain one of the most remarkable movements
in history. They exhibited the nations of western Europe for the first
time making a united effort for a common end. The crusaders were not hired
soldiers, but volunteers, who, while the religious fervor lasted, gladly
abandoned their homes and faced hardship and death in pursuit of a
spiritual ideal. They failed to accomplish their purpose, yet humanity is
the richer for the memory of their heroism and chivalry.


1. On an outline map indicate Europe and the Mediterranean lands by
religions, about 1095 A.D.

2. On an outline map indicate the routes of the First and the Third

3. Locate on the map the following places: Clermont; Acre; Antioch; Zara;
Edessa; and Damascus.

4. Identify the following dates: 1204 A.D.; 1095 A.D.; 1096 A.D.; 1291

5. Write a short essay describing the imaginary experiences of a crusader
to the Holy Land.

6. Mention some instances which illustrate the religious enthusiasm of the

7. Compare the Mohammedan pilgrimage to Mecca with the pilgrimages of
Christians to Jerusalem in the Middle Ages.

8. Compare the Christian crusade with the Mohammedan _jihad_, or holy war.

9. How did the expression, a "red-cross knight," arise?

10. Why is the Second Crusade often called "St. Bernard's Crusade"?

11. Why has the Third Crusade been called "the most interesting
international expedition of the Middle Ages"?

12. Would the crusaders in 1204 A.D. have attacked Constantinople, if the
schism of 1054 A.D. had not occurred?

13. "Mixture, or at least contact of races, is essential to progress." How
do the crusades illustrate the truth of this statement?

14. Were the crusades the only means by which western Europe was brought
in contact with Moslem civilization?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Medieval and Modern History_, chapter xii,
"Richard the Lion-hearted and the Third Crusade"; chapter xiii, "The
Fourth Crusade and the Capture of Constantinople."

[2] See page 412.

[3] See pages 333, 380.

[4] See page 235.

[5] Hence the name "crusades," from Latin _crux_, old French _crois_, a

[6] For the routes followed by the crusaders see the map between pages

[7] See page 412.

[8] The emperor Constantine caused a stately church to be erected on the
supposed site of Christ's tomb. This church of the Holy Sepulcher was
practically destroyed by the Moslems, early in the eleventh century. The
crusaders restored and enlarged the structure, which still stands.

[9] The order of Hospitalers, now known as the "Knights of Malta," still
survives in several European countries.

[10] See page 383.

[11] See page 413.

[12] See pages 449-450.

[13] See page 513.

[14] See page 460.

[15] In French _Coeur-de-Lion_.

[16] See page 461.

[17] See page 492.

[18] See page 462.

[19] See pages 362-363.

[20] See page 423.





The extensive steppes in the middle and north of Asia have formed, for
thousands of years, the abode of nomadic peoples belonging to the Yellow
race. In prehistoric times they spread over northern Europe, but they were
gradually supplanted by white-skinned Indo-Europeans, until now only
remnants of them exist, such as the Finns and Lapps. In later ages history
records how the Huns, the Bulgarians, and the Magyars have poured into
Europe, spreading terror and destruction in their path. [1] These invaders
were followed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by the even more
terrible Mongols and Ottoman Turks. Their inroads might well be described
as Asia's reply to the crusades, as an Asiatic counter-attack upon Europe.


The Mongols, who have given their name to the entire race of yellow-
skinned peoples, now chiefly occupy the high plateau bounded on the north
by Siberia, on the south by China, on the east by Manchuria, and on the
west by Turkestan. [2] Although the greater part of this area consists of
the Gobi desert, there are many oases and pastures available at different
seasons of the year to the inhabitants. Hence the principal occupation of
the Mongols has always been cattle breeding, and their horses, oxen,
sheep, and camels have always furnished them with food and clothing.


Like most nomads the Mongols dwell in tents, each family often by itself.
Severe simplicity is the rule of life, for property consists of little
more than one's flocks and herds, clothes, and weapons. The modern Mongols
are a peaceable, kindly folk, who have adopted from Tibet a debased form
of Buddhism, but the Mongols of the thirteenth century in religion and
morals were scarcely above the level of American Indians. To ruthless
cruelty and passion for plunder they added an efficiency in warfare which
enabled them, within fifty years, to overrun much of Asia and the eastern
part of Europe.

On the wagon was placed a sort of hut or pavilion made of wands bound
together with narrow thongs. The structure was then covered with felt or
cloth and provided with latticed windows. Hut-wagons, being very light,
were sometimes of enormous size.]


The daily life of the Mongols was a training school for war. Constant
practice in riding, scouting, and the use of arms made every man a
soldier. The words with which an ancient Greek historian described the
savage Scythians applied perfectly to the Mongols: "Having neither cities
nor forts, and carrying their dwellings with them wherever they go;
accustomed, moreover, one and all, to shoot from horseback; and living not
by husbandry but on their cattle, their wagons the only houses that they
possess, how can they fail of being irresistible?" [3]



For ages the Mongols had dwelt in scattered tribes throughout their
Asiatic wilderness, engaged in petty struggles with one another for cattle
and pasture lands. It was the celebrated Jenghiz Khan, [4] chief of one of
the tribes, who brought them all under his authority and then led them to
the conquest of the world. Of him it may be said with truth that he had
the most victorious of military careers, and that he constructed the most
extensive empire known to history. If Jenghiz had possessed the ability of
a statesman, he would have taken a place by the side of Alexander the
Great and Julius Caesar.


Jenghiz first sent the Mongol armies, which contained many Turkish allies,

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