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Beacon Lights of History, Volume V by John Lord

Part 4 out of 5

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land comparatively free from molestation. He was still poor. Sometimes
he was exposed to heavy exactions. He was bound to give a portion of the
profits of his land to his lordly proprietor; and he was bound to render
services in war. But, as he was not bound to serve over forty days, he
was not led on distant expeditions; he was not carried far from home. He
was not exposed to the ambition of military leaders. His warlike
services seem to be confined to the protection of his master's castle
and family, or to the assault of some neighboring castle. He was simply
made to participate in baronial quarrels; and as these quarrels were
frequent, his life was not altogether peaceful.

But war on a large scale was impossible in the feudal age. The military
glory of the Roman conquerors was unknown, and also that of modern
European monarchs. The peasant was bound to serve under the banner of a
military chieftain only for a short time: then he returned to his farm.
His great military weapon was the bow,--the weapon of semi-barbarians.
The spear, the sword, the battle-axe were the weapons of the baronial
family,--the weapons of knights, who fought on horseback, cased in
defensive armor. The peasant fought on foot; and as the tactics of
ancient warfare were inapplicable, and those of modern warfare unknown,
the strength of armies was in cavalry and not in the infantry, as in
modern times. But armies were not large from the ninth to the twelfth
century,--not until the Crusades arose. Nor were they subject to a rigid
discipline. They were simply an armed rabble. They were more like
militia than regular forces; they fostered military virtues, without the
demoralization of standing armies. In the feudal age there were no
standing armies. Even at so late a period as the time of Queen Elizabeth
that sovereign had to depend on the militia for the defence of the realm
against the Spaniards. Standing armies are the invention of great
military monarchs or a great military State. The bow and arrow were used
equally to shoot men and shoot deer; but they rarely penetrated the
armor of knights, or their force was broken by the heavy shield: they
took effect only on the undefended bodies of the peasantry. Hence there
was a great disproportion of the slain in battle between peasants and
their mounted masters. War, even when confined to a small sphere, has
its terrors. The sufferers were the common people, whose lives were not
held of much account. History largely confines itself to battles. Hence
we are apt to lose sight of the uneventful life of the people in
quiet times.

But the barons were not always fighting. In the intervals of war the
peasant enjoyed the rude pleasures of his home. He grew up with strong
attachments, having no desire to migrate or travel. Gradually the
sentiment of loyalty was born,--loyalty to his master and to his
country. His life was rough, but earnest. He had great simplicity of
character. He became honest, industrious, and frugal. He was contented
with but few pleasures,--rural fetes and village holidays. He had no
luxuries and no craving for them. Measured by our modern scale of
pleasures he led a very inglorious, unambitious, and rude life.

Contentment is one of the mysteries of existence. We should naturally
think that excitement and pleasure and knowledge would make people
happy, since they stimulate the intellectual powers; but on the contrary
they seem to produce unrest and cravings which are never satisfied. And
we should naturally think that a life of isolation, especially with no
mental resources,--a hard rural existence, with but few comforts and no
luxuries,--would make people discontented. Yet it does not seem to be so
in fact, as illustrated by the apparent contentment of people doomed to
hard labor in the most retired and dreary retreats. We wonder at their
placitude, as we travel in remote and obscure sections of the country. A
poor farmer, whose house is scarcely better than a hovel, surrounded
with chickens and pigs, and with only a small garden,--unadorned and
lonely and repulsive,--has no cravings which make the life of the
favored rich sometimes unendurable. The poorer he is, and therefore the
more miserable as we should think, the more contented he seems to be;
while a fashionable woman or _ennuied_ man, both accustomed to the
luxuries and follies of city life, with all its refinements and
gratification of intellectual and social pleasures, will sometimes pine
in a suburban home, with all the gilded glories of rich furniture,
books, beautiful gardens, greenhouses, luxurious living, horses,
carriages, and everything that wealth can furnish.

So that civilization would seem often a bitter mockery, showing that
intellectual life only stimulates the cravings of the soul, but does not
satisfy them. And when people are poor but cultivated, the unhappiness
seems to be still greater; demonstrating that cultivated intellect alone
opens to the mind the existence of evils which are intensified by the
difficulty of their removal, and on which the mind dwells with feelings
kindred to despair. I have sometimes doubted whether an obscure farmer's
daughter is any happier with her piano, and her piles of cheaply
illustrated literature and translations of French novels, and her
smatterings of science learned in normal schools, since she has learned
too often to despise her father and mother and brother, and her
uneducated rural beau, and all her surroundings, with poverty and unrest
and aspiration for society eating out her soul. The happiness produced
merely by intellectual pleasures and social frivolities is very small at
the best, compared with that produced by the virtues of the heart and
the affections kindled by deeds of devotion, or the duties which take
the mind from itself. Intellectual pleasures give only a brief
satisfaction, unless directed to a practical end, like the earnest
imparting of knowledge in educational pursuits, or the pursuit of art
for itself alone,--to create, and not to devour, as the epicure eats his
dinner. Where is the happiness of devouring books with no attempt to
profit by them, except in the temporary pleasure of satisfying an
appetite? So even the highest means of happiness may become a savor of
death unto death when perverted or unimproved. Never should we stimulate
the intellect merely to feed upon itself. Unless intellectual culture is
directed to what is useful, especially to the necessities or improvement
of others, it is a delusion and a snare. Better far to be ignorant, but
industrious and useful in any calling however humble, than to cram the
mind with knowledge that leads to no good practical result. The buxom
maiden of rural life, in former days absorbed in the duties of home,
with no knowledge except that gained in a district school in the winter,
with all her genial humanities in the society of equals no more aspiring
than herself, is to me a far more interesting person than the
pale-faced, languid, discontented, envious girl who has just returned
from a school beyond her father's means, even if she can play upon an
instrument, and has worn herself thin in exhausting studies under the
stimulus of ambitious competition, or the harangues of a pedant who
thinks what he calls "education" to be the end of life,--an education
which reveals her own insignificance, or leads her to strive for an
unattainable position.

I am forced to make these remarks to show that the Mediaeval peasant was
not necessarily miserable because he was ignorant, or isolated, or poor.
In so doing I may excite the wrath of some who think a little knowledge
is _not_ a dangerous thing, and may appear to be throwing cold water on
one of the noblest endeavors of modern times. But I do not sneer at
education. I only seek to show that it will not make people happy,
unless it is directed into useful channels; and that even ignorance may
be bliss when it is folly to be wise. A benevolent Providence tempers
all conditions to the necessities of the times. The peasantry of Europe
became earnest and stalwart warriors and farmers, even under the
grinding despotism of feudal masters. With their beer and brown bread,
and a fowl in the pot on a Sunday, they grew up to be hardy, bold,
strong, healthy, and industrious. They furnished a material on which
Christianity and a future civilization could work. They became
patriotic, religious, and kind-hearted. They learned to bear their evils
in patience. They were more cheerful than the laboring classes of our
day, with their partial education,--although we may console ourselves
with the reflection that these are passing through the fermenting
processes of a transition from a lower to a higher grade of living. Look
at the picture of them which art has handed down: their faces are ruddy,
genial, sympathetic, although coarse and vulgar and boorish. And they
learned to accept the inequalities of life without repining insolence.
They were humble, and felt that there were actually some people in the
world superior to themselves. I do not paint their condition as
desirable or interesting by our standard, but as endurable. They were
doubtless very ignorant; but would knowledge have made them any happier?
Knowledge is for those who can climb by it to positions of honor and
usefulness, not for those who cannot rise above the condition in which
they were born,--not for those who will be snubbed and humiliated and
put down by arrogant wealth and birth. Better be unconscious of
suffering, than conscious of wrongs which cannot be redressed.

Let no one here misunderstand and pervert me. I am not exalting the
ignorance and brutality of the feudal ages. I am not decrying the
superior advantages of our modern times. I only state that ignorance and
brutality were the necessary sequences of the wars and disorders of a
preceding epoch, but that this very ignorance and brutality were
accompanied by virtues which partially ameliorated the evils of the day;
that in the despair of slavery were the hopes of future happiness; that
religion took a deep hold of the human mind, even though blended with
puerile and degrading superstitions; that Christianity, taking hold of
the hearts of a suffering people, taught lessons which enabled them to
bear their hardships with resignation; that cheerfulness was not
extinguished; and that so many virtues were generated by the combined
influence of suffering and Christianity, that even with ignorance human
nature shone with greater lustre than among those by whom knowledge is
perverted. It was not until the evil and injustice of Feudalism were
exposed by political writers, and were meditated upon by the people who
had arisen by education and knowledge, that they became unendurable; and
then the people shook off the yoke. But how impossible would have been a
French Revolution in the thirteenth century! What readers would a
Rousseau have found among the people in the time of Louis VII.? If
knowledge breaks fetters when the people are strong enough to shake them
off, ignorance enables them to bear those fetters when emancipation is

The great empire of Charlemagne was divided at his death (in A.D. 814)
among his three sons,--one of whom had France, another Italy, and the
third Germany. In forty-five years afterwards we find seven kingdoms,
instead of three,--France, Navarre, Provence, Burgundy, Lorraine,
Germany, and Italy. In a few years more there were twenty-nine
hereditary fiefs. And as early as the tenth century France itself was
split up into fifty-five independent sovereignties; and these small
sovereignties were again divided into dukedoms and baronies. All these
dukes and barons, however, acknowledged the King of France as their
liege lord; yet he was not richer or more powerful than some of the
dukes who swore fealty to him. The Duke of Burgundy at one time had
larger territories and more power than the King of France himself. So
that the central authority of kings was merely nominal; their power
extended scarcely beyond the lands they individually controlled. And all
the countries of Europe were equally ruled by petty kings. The kings of
England seem to have centralized around their thrones more power than
other European monarchs until the time of the Crusades, when they were
checked, not so much by nobles as by Act of Parliament.

Now all Europe was virtually divided among these petty sovereigns,
called dukes, earls, counts, and barons. Each one was virtually
independent. He coined money, administered justice, and preserved order.
He ruled by hereditary right, and his estate descended to his oldest
son. His revenues were derived by the extorted contributions of those
who cultivated his lands, and by certain perquisites, among which were
the privilege of wardship, and the profits of an estate during the
minority of its possessor, and reliefs, or fines paid on the alienation
of a vassal's feud; and the lord could bestow a female ward in marriage
on whomever he pleased, and on her refusal take possession of
her estate.

These lordly proprietors of great estates,--or nobles,--so powerful and
independent, lived in castles. These strongholds were necessary in such
turbulent times. They were large or small, according to the wealth or
rank of the nobles who occupied them, but of no architectural beauty.
They were fortresses, generally built on hills, or cragged rocks, or in
inaccessible marshes, or on islands in rivers,--anywhere where defence
was easiest. The nobles did not think of beautiful situations, or
fruitful meadows, so much as of the safety and independence of the
feudal family. They therefore lived in great isolation, travelling but
little, and only at short distances (it was the higher clergy only who
travelled). Though born to rank and power, they were yet rude, rough,
unpolished. They were warriors. They fought on horseback, covered with
defensive armor. They were greedy and quarrelsome, and hence were
engaged in perpetual strife,--in the assault on castles and devastation
of lands. These castles were generally gloomy, heavy, and uncomfortable,
yet were very numerous in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. They were
occupied by the feudal family, perhaps the chaplain, strangers of rank,
bards, minstrels, and servants, who lived on the best the country
afforded, but without the luxuries of our times. They lived better than
the monks, as they had no vows to restrain them. But in their dreary
castles the rooms were necessarily small, dark, and damp, except the
banqueting hall. They were poorly lighted, there being no glass in the
narrow windows, nor chimneys, nor carpets, nor mirrors, nor luxurious
furniture, nor crockery, nor glassware, nor stoves, nor the refinements
of cookery. The few roads of the country were travelled only by
horsemen, or people on foot. There were no carriages, only a few heavy
lumbering wagons. Tea and coffee were unknown, as also tropical fruits
and some of our best vegetables. But game of all kinds was plenty and
cheap; so also were wine and beer, and beef and mutton, and pork and
poultry. The feudal family was illiterate, and read but few books. The
chief pleasures were those of the chase,--hunting and hawking,--and
intemperate feasts. What we call "society" was impossible, although the
barons may have exchanged visits with each other. They rarely visited
cities, which at that time were small and uninteresting. The lordly
proprietor of ten thousand acres may have been jolly, frank, and
convivial, but he was still rough, and had little to say on matters of
great interests. Circumscribed he was of necessity, ignorant and
prejudiced. Conscious of power, however, he was proud and insolent to
inferiors. He was merely a physical man,--ruddy, healthy, strong indeed,
but without refinement, or knowledge, or social graces. His castle was a
fort and not a palace; and here he lived with boisterous or sullen
companions, as rough and ignorant as himself. His wife and daughters
were more interesting, but without those attainments which grace and
adorn society. They made tapestries and embroideries, and rode
horseback, and danced well, and were virtuous; but were primitive,
uneducated, and supercilious. Their beauty was of the ruddy sort,
--physical, but genial. They were very fond of ornaments and gay
dresses; and so were their lords on festive occasions, for
semi-barbarism delights in what is showy and glittering,--purple, and
feathers, and trinkets.

Feudalism was intensely aristocratic. A line was drawn between the
noble and ignoble classes almost as broad as that which separates
liberty from slavery. It was next to impossible for a peasant, or
artisan, or even a merchant to pass that line. The exclusiveness of the
noble class was intolerable. It held in scorn any profession but arms;
neither riches nor learning was of any account. It gloried in the pride
of birth, and nourished a haughty scorn of plebeian prosperity. It was
not until cities and arts and commerce arose that the arrogance of the
baron was rebuked, or his iron power broken. Haughty though ignorant, he
had no pity or compassion for the poor and miserable. His peasantry were
doomed to perpetual insults. Their cornfields were trodden down by the
baronial hunters; they were compelled even to grind their corn in the
landlord's mill, and bake their bread in his oven. They had no redress
of injuries, and were scorned as well as insulted. What knight would arm
himself for them; what gentle lady wept at their sorrows? The feeling of
personal consequence was entirely confined to the feudal family. The
poorest knight took precedence over the richest merchant. Pride of birth
was carried to romantic extravagance, so that marriages seldom took
place between different classes. A beautiful peasant girl could never
rise above her drudgeries; and she never dreamed of rising, for the
members of the baronial family were looked up to as superior beings. A
caste grew up as rigid and exclusive as that of India. The noble and
ignoble classes were not connected by any ties; there was nothing in
common between them. Even the glory of successful warfare shed no
radiance on a peasant's hut. He fought for his master, and not for
himself, and scarcely for his country. He belonged to his master as
completely as if he could be bought and sold. Christianity teaches the
idea of a universal brotherhood; Feudalism suppressed or extinguished
it. Peasants had no rights, only duties,--and duties to hard and
unsympathetic masters. Can we wonder that a relation so unequal should
have been detested by the people when they began to think? Can we wonder
it should have created French Revolutions? When we remember how the
people toiled for a mail-clad warrior, how they fought for his
interests, how they died for his renown, how they were curtailed in
their few pleasures, how they were not permitted even to shoot a
pheasant or hare in their own grounds, we are amazed that such signal
injustice should ever have been endured. It is impossible that this
injustice should not have been felt; and no man ever became reconciled
to injustice, unless reduced to the condition of a brute. Religious
tyranny may be borne, for the priest invokes a supreme authority which
all feel to be universally binding. But all tyranny over the body--the
utter extinction of liberty--is hateful even to the most degraded

Why, then, was such an unjust and unequal relation permitted to exist
so long? What good did it accomplish? What were its extenuating
features? Why was it commended by historians as a good institution for
the times?

It created a hardy agricultural class, inured them to the dangers and
the toils of war, bound them by local attachments, and fostered a
patriotic spirit. It developed the virtues of obedience, and submission
to evils. It created a love of home and household duties. It was
favorable to female virtue. It created the stout yeomanry who could be
relied upon in danger. It made law and order possible. It defended the
people from robbers. It laid a foundation for warlike prowess. It was
favorable to growth of population, for war did not sweep off the people
so much as those dire plagues and pestilences which were common in the
Middle Ages. It was preferable to the disorders and conflagrations and
depredations of preceding times. The poor man was oppressed, but he was
safe so long as his lord could protect him. It was a hard discipline,
but a discipline which was healthy; it preserved the seed if it did not
bear the fruits of civilization. The peasantry became honest, earnest,
sincere. They were made susceptible of religious impressions. They
became attached to all the institutions of the Church; the parish church
was their retreat, their consolation, and their joy. The priest
tyrannized over the soul and the knight over the body, but the flame of
piety burned steadily and warmly.

When the need of such an institution as Feudalism no longer existed,
then it was broken up. Its blessings were not commensurate with its
evils; but the evils were less than those which previously existed. This
is, I grant, but faint praise. But the progress of society could not be
rapid amid such universal ignorance: it is slow in the best of times. I
do not call that state of society progressive where moral and spiritual
truths are forgotten or disregarded in the triumphs of a brilliant
material life. There was no progress of society from the Antonines to
Theodosius, but a steady decline. But there was a progress, however
slow, from Charlemagne to Philip Augustus. But for Feudalism and
ecclesiastical institutions the European races might not have emerged
from anarchy, or might have been subjected to a new and withering
imperialism. Say what we will of the grinding despotism of
Feudalism,--and we cannot be too severe on any form of despotism,--yet
the rude barbarian became a citizen in process of time, with education
and political rights.

Society made the same sort of advance, in the gloomy epoch we are
reviewing, that the slaves in our Southern States made from the time
they were imported from Africa, with their degrading fetichism and
unexampled ignorance, to the time of their emancipation. How marked the
progress of the Southern slaves during the two hundred years of their
bondage! No degraded race ever made so marked a progress as they did in
the same period, even under all the withering influences of slavery.
Probably their moral and spiritual progress was greater than it will be
in the next two hundred years, exposed to all the dangers of modern
materialism, which saps the life of nations in the midst of the most
brilliant triumphs of art. We are now on the road to a marvellous
intellectual enlightenment, unprecedented and full of encouragement. But
with this we face dangers also, such as undermined the old Roman world
and all the ancient civilizations. If I could fix my eye on a single
State or Nation in the whole history of our humanity that has escaped
these dangers, that has not retrograded in those virtues on which the
strength of man is based, after a certain point has been reached in
civilization, I would not hazard this remark. Society escaped these
evils in that agricultural period which saw the rise and fall of
Feudalism, and made a slow but notable advance. That is a fact which
cannot be gainsaid, and this is impressive. It shows that society, in a
moral point of view, thrives better under hard restraints than when
exposed to the dangers of an irreligious, material civilization.

Nor is Feudalism to be condemned as being altogether dark and
uninteresting. It had redeeming features in the life of the baronial
family. Under its influence arose the institution of chivalry; and
though the virtues of chivalry may be poetic, and exaggerated, there can
be no doubt that it was a civilizing institution, and partially redeemed
the Middle Ages. It gave rise to beautiful sentiments; it blazed in new
virtues, rarely seen in the old civilizations. They were peculiar to the
age and to Europe, were fostered by the Church, and took a coloring from
Christianity itself. Chivalry bound together the martial barons of
Europe by the ties of a fraternity of knights. Those armed and mailed
warriors fought on horseback, and chivalry takes its name from the
French _cheval_, meaning a horse. The knights learned gradually to treat
each other with peculiar courtesy. They became generous in battle or in
misfortune, for they all alike belonged to the noble class, and felt a
common bond in the pride of birth. It was not the memory of illustrious
ancestors which created this aristocratic distinction, as among Roman
patricians, but the fact that the knights were a superior order. Yet
among themselves distinctions vanished. There was no higher distinction
than that of a gentleman. The poorest knight was welcome at any castle
or at any festivity, at the tournament or in the chase. Generally,
gallantry and unblemished reputation were the conditions of social rank
among the knights themselves. They were expected to excel in courage, in
courtesy, in generosity, in truthfulness, in loyalty. The great
patrimony of the knight was his horse, his armor, and his valor. He was
bound to succor the defenceless. He was required to abstain from all
mean pursuits. If his trade were war, he would divest war of its
cruelties. His word was seldom broken, and his promises were held
sacred. If pride of rank was generated in this fraternity of gentlemen,
so also was scorn of lies and baseness. If there was no brotherhood of
man, there was the brotherhood of equals. The most beautiful friendships
arose from common dangers and common duties. A stranger knight was
treated with the greatest kindness and hospitality. If chivalry
condemned anything, it was selfishness and treachery and hypocrisy. All
the old romances and chronicles record the frankness and magnanimity of
knights. More was thought of moral than of intellectual excellence.
Nobody was ashamed to be thought religious. The mailed warrior said his
orisons every day and never neglected Mass. Even in war, prisoners were
released on their parole of honor, and their ransom was rarely
exorbitant. The institution tended to soften manners as well as to
develop the virtues of the heart. Under its influence the rude baron was
transformed into a courteous gentleman.

But the distinguishing glory of chivalry was devotion to the female
sex. Respect for woman was born in the German forests before the Roman
empire fell. It was the best trait of the Germanic barbarians; but under
the institution of chivalry this natural respect was ripened into
admiration and gallantry. "Love of God and the ladies" was enjoined as a
single duty. The knight ever came to the rescue of a woman in danger or
distress, provided she was a lady. Nothing is better attested than the
chivalric devotion to woman in a feudal castle. The name of a mistress
of the heart was never mentioned but in profound respect. Even pages
were required to choose objects of devotion, to whom they were to be
loyal unto death. Woman presided in the feudal castle, where she
exercised a proper restraint. She bestowed the prize of valor at
tournaments and tilts. To insult a lady was a lasting disgrace,--or to
reveal her secrets. For the first time in history, woman became the
equal partner of her husband. She was his companion often in the chase,
gaily mounted on her steed. She always dined with him, and was the
presiding genius of the castle. She was made regent of kingdoms, heir of
crowns, and joint manager of great estates. She had the supreme
management of her household, and was consulted in every matter of
importance. What an insignificant position woman filled at Athens
compared with that in the feudal castle! How different the estimate of
woman among the Pagan poets from that held by the Provencal poets! What
a contrast to Juvenal is Sordello! The lady of a baronial hall deemed it
an insult to be addressed in the language of gallantry, except in that
vague and poetic sense in which every knight selected some lady as the
object of his dutiful devotion. She disdained the attentions of the most
potent prince if his addresses were not honorable. Nor would she bestow
her love on one of whom she was not proud. She would not marry a coward
or a braggart, even if he were the owner of ten thousand acres. The
knight was encouraged to pay his address to any lady if he was
personally worthy of her love, for chivalry created a high estimate of
individual merit. The feudal lady ignored all degrees of wealth within
her own rank. She was as tender and compassionate as she was heroic. She
was treated as a superior, rather than as an equal. There was a poetical
admiration among the whole circle of knights. A knight without an object
of devotion was as "a ship without a rudder, a horse without a bridle, a
sword without a hilt, a sky without a star." Even a Don Quixote must
have his Dulcinea, as well as horse and armor and squire. Dante
impersonates the spirit of the Middle Ages in his adoration of Beatrice.
The ancient poets coupled the praises of women with the praises of wine.
Woman, under the influence of chivalry, became the star of worship, an
object of idolatry. We read of few divorces in the Middle Ages, or of
separations, or desertions, or even alienations; these things are a
modern improvement, borrowed from the customs of the Romans. The awe and
devotion with which the lover regarded his bride became regard and
affection in the husband. The matron maintained the rank which had been
assigned to her as a maiden. The gallant warriors blended even the
adoration of our Lord with adoration of our Lady,--the deification of
Christ with the deification of woman. Chivalry, encouraged by the Church
and always strongly allied with religious sentiments, accepted for
eternal veneration the transcendent loveliness of the mother of our
Lord; so that chivalric veneration for the sex culminated in the
reverence which belongs to the Queen of Heaven,--_virgo fidelis; regina
angelorum_. Woman assumed among kings and barons the importance which
she was supposed to have in the celestial hierarchy. And besides the
religious influence, the poetic imagination of the time seized upon this
pure and lovely element, which passed into the songs, the tales, the
talk, the thought, and the aspirations of all the knightly order.

Whence, now, this veneration for woman which arose in the Middle
Ages,--a veneration, which all historians attest, such as never existed
in the ancient civilization?

It was undoubtedly based on the noble qualities and domestic virtues
which feudal life engendered. Women were heroines. Queen Philippa in the
absence of her husband stationed herself in the Castle of Bamborough and
defied the whole power of Douglas. The first military dispatch ever
written in the Middle Ages was addressed to her; she even took David of
Scotland a prisoner, when he invaded England. These women of chivalry
were ready to undergo any fatigues to promote their husbands' interests.
They were equal to any personal sacrifices. Nothing could daunt their
courage. They could defend themselves in danger, showing an
extraordinary fertility of resources. They earned the devotion they
called out. What more calculated to win the admiration of feudal
warriors than this devotion and bravery on the part of wives and
daughters! They were helpmates in every sense. They superintended the
details of castles. They were always employed, and generally in what
were imperative duties. If they embroidered dresses or worked
tapestries, they also wove the cloth for their husband's coats, and made
his shirts and knit his stockings. If they trained hawks and falcons,
they fed the poultry and cultivated the flowers. They understood the
cares of the kitchen, and managed the servants.

But it was their moral virtues which excited the greatest esteem. They
gloried in their unsullied names; their characters were above suspicion.
Any violation of the marriage vow was almost unknown; an unfaithful
wife was infamous. The ordinary life of a castle was that of isolation,
which made women discreet, self-relying, and free from entangling
excitements. They had no great pleasures, and but little society. They
were absorbed with their duties, and contented with their husbands'
love. The feudal castle, however, was not dull, although it was
isolated, and afforded few novelties. It was full of strangers, and
minstrels, and bards, and pedlars, and priests. Women could gratify
their social wants without seductive excitements. They led a life
favorable to friendships, which cannot thrive amid the distractions of
cities. In cities few have time to cultivate friendships, although they
may not be extinguished. In the baronial castle, however, they were
necessary to existence.

And here, where she was so well known, woman's worth was recognized. Her
caprices and frivolities were balanced by sterling qualities,--as a
nurse in sickness, as a devotee to duties, as a friend in distress, ever
sympathetic and kind. She was not exacting, and required very little to
amuse her. Of course, she was not intellectual, since she read but few
books and received only the rudiments of education; but she was as
learned as her brothers, and quicker in her wits. She had the vivacity
which a healthy life secures. Nor was she beautiful, according to our
standard. She was a ruddy, cheerful, active, healthy woman, accustomed
to exercise in the open air,--to field-sports and horseback journeys.
Still less was she what we call fashionable, for the word was not known;
nor was she a woman of society, for, as we have said, there was no
society in a feudal castle. What we call society was born in cities,
where women reign by force of mind and elegant courtesies and grace of
manners,--where woman is an ornament as well as a power, without
drudgeries and almost without cares, as at the courts of the
Bourbon princes.

Yet I am not certain but that the foundation of courtly elegance and
dignity was laid in the baronial home, when woman began her reign as the
equal of her wedded lord, when she commanded reverence for her
courtesies and friendships, and when her society was valued so highly by
aristocratic knights. In the castle she became genial and kind and
sympathetic,--although haughty to inferiors and hard on the peasantry.
She was ever religious. Religious duties took up no small part of her
time. Christianity raised her more than all other influences combined.
You never read of an infidel woman when chivalry flourished, any more
than of a "strong-minded" woman. The feudal woman never left her sphere,
even amid the pleasures of the chase or the tilt. Her gentle and
domestic virtues remained with her to the end, and were the most
prized. Woman was worshipped because she was a woman, not because she
resembled a man. Benevolence and compassion and simplicity were her
cardinal virtues. Though her sports were masculine, her character was
feminine. She yielded to man in matters of reason and intellect, but he
yielded to her in the virtues of the heart and the radiance of the soul.
She associated with man without seductive spectacles or demoralizing
excitements, and retained her influence by securing his respect. In
antiquity, there was no respect for the sex, even when Aspasia
enthralled Pericles by the fascinations of blended intellect and beauty;
but there was respect in the feudal ages, when women were unlettered and
unpolished. And this respect was alike the basis of friendship and the
key to power. It was not elegance of manners, nor intellectual culture,
nor physical beauty which elevated the women of chivalry, but their
courage, their fidelity, their sympathy, their devotion to
duty,--qualities which no civilization ought to obscure, and for the
loss of which no refinements of life can make up.

Thus Chivalry,--the most interesting institution of the Middle Ages,
rejoicing in deeds of daring, guided by honor and renown, executing
enterprises almost extravagant, battling injustice and wrong, binding
together the souls of a great fraternity, scorning lies, revering truth,
devoted to the Church,--could not help elevating the sex to which its
proudest efforts were pledged, by cherishing elevated conceptions of
love, by offering all the courtesies of friendship, by coming to the
rescue of innocence, by stimulating admiration of all that is heroic,
and by asserting the honor of the loved ones, even at the risk of life
and limb. In the dark ages of European society woman takes her place,
for the first time in the world, as the equal and friend of man,--not by
physical beauty, not by graces of manner, not even by intellectual
culture, but by the solid virtues of the heart, brought to light by
danger, isolation, and practical duties, and by that influence which
radiated from the Cross. Divest chivalry of the religious element, and
you take away its glory and its fascination. The knight would be only a
hardhearted warrior, oppressing the poor and miserable, and only
interesting from his deeds of valor. But Christianity softened him and
made him human, while it dignified the partner of his toils, and gave
birth to virtues which commanded reverence. The soul of chivalry,
closely examined, in its influence over men or over women, after all,
was that power which is and will be through all the ages the hope and
glory of our world.

Thus, with all the miseries, cruelties, injustices, and hardships of
feudal life, there were some bright spots; showing that Providence never
deserts the world, and that though progress may be slow in the infancy
of races, yet with the light of Christianity, even if it be darkened,
this progress is certain, and will be more and more rapid as
Christianity achieves its victories.


Hallam's Middle Ages; Sismondi's Histoire des Francais; Guizot's History
of Civilization (translated); Michelet's History of France (translated);
Bell's Historical Studies of Feudalism; Lacroix's Manners and Customs of
the Middle Ages; Mills's History of Chivalry; Sir Walter Scott's article
in Encyclopaedia Britannica; Perrot's Collection Historique des Ordres
de Chivalrie; St. Palaye's Memoires de l'Ancienne Chivalrie; Buckle's
History of Civilization; Palgrave's English Commonwealth; Martin's
History of France; Freeman's Norman Conquest; M. Fauriel's History of
Provencal Poetry; Froissart's Chronicles; also the general English
histories of the reign of Edward III. Don Quixote should he read in this
connection. And Tennyson in his "Idylls of the King" has incorporated
the spirit of ancient chivalry.


* * * * *

A.D. 1095-1272.

The great external event of the Middle Ages was the Crusades,--indeed,
they were the only common enterprise in which Europe ever engaged. Such
an event ought to be very interesting, since it has reference to
conflicting passions and interests. Unfortunately, in a literary point
of view, there is no central figure in the great drama which the princes
of Europe played for two hundred years, and hence the Crusades have but
little dramatic interest. No one man represents that mighty movement. It
was a great wave of inundation, flooding Asia with the unemployed forces
of Europe, animated by passions which excite our admiration, our pity,
and our reprobation. They are chiefly interesting for their results, and
results which were unforeseen. A philosopher sees in them the hand of
Providence,--the overruling of mortal wrath to the praise of Him who
governs the universe. I know of no great movement of blind forces so
pregnant with mighty consequences.

The Crusades were a semi-religious and a semi-military movement. They
represent the passions and ideas of Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries,--its chivalry, its hatred of Mohammedanism, and its desire to
possess the spots consecrated by the sufferings of our Lord. Their long
continuance shows the intensity of the sentiments which animated them.
They were aggressive wars, alike fierce and unfortunate, absorbing to
the nations that embarked in them, but of no interest to us apart from
the moral lessons to be drawn from them. Perhaps one reason why history
is so dull to most people is that the greater part of it is a record of
battles and sieges, of military heroes and conquerors. This is
pre-eminently true of Greece, of Rome, of the Middle Ages, and of our
modern times down to the nineteenth century. But such chronicles of
everlasting battles and sieges do not satisfy this generation. Hence our
more recent historians, wishing to avoid the monotony of ordinary
history, have attempted to explore the common life of the people, and to
bring out their manners and habits: they would succeed in making history
more interesting if the materials, at present, were not so scanty and

The only way to make the history of wars interesting is to go back to
the ideas, passions, and interests which they represent. Then we
penetrate to the heart of history, and feel its life. For all the great
wars of the world, we shall see, are exponents of its great moving
spiritual forces. The wars of Cyrus and Alexander represent the passion
of military glory; those of Marius, Sylla, Pompey, and Caesar, the
desire of political aggrandizement; those of Constantine and Theodosius,
the desire for political unity and the necessity of self-defence. The
sweeping and desolating inundations of the barbarians, from the third to
the sixth century, represent the poverty of those rude nations, and
their desire to obtain settlements more favorable to getting a living.
The conquests of Mohammed and his successors were made to swell the
number of converts of a new religion. The perpetual strife of the
baronial lords was to increase their domains. The wars of Charlemagne
and Charles V. were to revive the imperialism of the Caesars,--to create
new universal monarchies. The wars which grew out of the Reformation
were to preserve or secure religious liberty; those which followed were
to maintain the balance of power. Those of Napoleon were at first, at
least nominally, to spread or defend the ideas of the French Revolution,
until he became infatuated with the love of military glory. Our first
great war was to secure national independence, and our second to
preserve national unity. The contest between Prussia and France was to
prevent the ascendency of either of those great States. The wars of the
English in India were to find markets for English goods, employment for
the sons of the higher classes, and a new field for colonization and
political power. So all the great passions and interests which have
moved mankind have found their vent in war,--rough barbaric spoliations,
love of glory and political aggrandizement, desire to spread religious
ideas, love of liberty, greediness for wealth, unity of nations,
jealousy of other powers, even the desire to secure general peace and
tranquillity. Most wars have had in view the attainment of great ends,
and it is in the ultimate results of them that we see the progress
of nations.

Thus wars, contemplated in a philosophical aspect, in spite of their
repulsiveness are invested with dignity, and really indicate great moral
and intellectual movements, as well as the personal ambition or vanity
of conquerors. They are the ultimate solutions of great questions, not
to be solved in any other way,--unfortunately, I grant,--on account of
human wickedness. And I know of no great wars, much as I loathe and
detest them, and severely and justly as they may be reprobated, which
have not been overruled for the ultimate welfare of society. The wars of
Alexander led to the introduction of Grecian civilization into Asia and
Egypt; those of the Romans, to the pacification of the world and the
reign of law and order; those of barbarians, to the colonization of the
worn-out provinces of the Roman Empire by hardier and more energetic
nations; those of Charlemagne, to the ultimate suppression of barbaric
invasions; those of the Saracens, to the acknowledgment of One God;
those of Charles V., to the recognized necessity of a balance of power;
those which grew out of the Reformation, to religious liberty. The
Huguenots' contest undermined the ascendency of Roman priests in France;
the Seven Years' War developed the naval power of England, and gave to
her a prominent place among the nations, and exposed the weakness of
Austria, so long the terror of Europe; the wars of Louis XIV. sowed the
seeds of the French Revolution; those of Napoleon vindicated its great
ideas; those of England in India introduced the civilization of a
Christian nation; those of the Americans secured liberty and the unity
of their vast nation. The majesty of the Governor of the universe is
seen in nothing more impressively than in the direction which the wrath
of man is made to take.

Now these remarks apply to the Crusades. They represent prevailing
ideas. Their origin was a universal hatred of Mohammedans. Like
all the institutions of the Middle Ages, they were a great
contradiction,--debasement in glory, and glory in debasement. With all
the fierceness and superstition and intolerance of feudal barons, we see
in the Crusades the exercise of gallantry, personal heroism, tenderness,
Christian courtesy,--the virtues of chivalry, unselfishness, and
magnanimity; but they ended in giving a new impulse to civilization,
which will be more minutely pointed out before I close my lecture.

Thus the Crusades are really worthy to be chronicled by historians above
anything else which took place in the Middle Ages, since they gave birth
to mighty agencies, which still are vital forces in society,--even as
everything in American history pales before that awful war which
arrayed, in our times, the North against the South in desperate and
deadly contest; the history of which remains to be written, but cannot
be written till the animosities which provoked it have passed away. What
a small matter to future historians is rapid colonization and
development of material resources, in comparison with the sentiments
which provoked that war! What will future philosophers care how many
bushels of wheat are raised in Minnesota, or car-loads of corn brought
from Illinois, or hogs slaughtered in Chicago, or yards of cloth woven
in Lowell, or cases of goods packed in New York, or bales of carpets
manufactured in Philadelphia, or pounds of cotton exported from New
Orleans, or meetings of railway presidents at Cincinnati to pool the
profits of their monopolies, or women's-rights conventions held in
Boston, or schemes of speculators ventilated in the lobbies of
Washington, or stock-jobbing and gambling operations take place in every
large city of the country,--compared with the mighty marshalling of
forces on the banks of the Potomac, at the call of patriotism, to
preserve the life of the republic? You cannot divest war of dignity and
interest when the grandest results, which affect the permanent welfare
of nations, are made to appear.

The Crusades, as they were historically developed, are mixed up with the
religious ideas of the Middle Ages, with the domination of popes, with
the feudal system, with chivalry, with monastic life, with the central
power of kings, with the birth of mercantile States, with the fears and
interests of England, France, Germany, and Italy, for two hundred
years,--yea, with the architecture, commerce, geographical science, and
all the arts then known. All these principalities and powers and
institutions and enterprises were affected by them, so that at their
termination a new era in civilization began. Grasp the Crusades, and you
comprehend one of the forces which undermined the institutions of the
Middle Ages.

It is not a little remarkable that the earliest cause of the Crusades,
so far as I am able to trace, was the adoption by the European nations
of some of the principles of Eastern theogonies which pertained to
self-expiation. An Asiatic theological idea prepared the way for the war
between Europe and Asia. The European pietist embraced the religious
tenets of the Asiatic monk, which centred in the propitiation of the
Deity by works of penance. One of the approved and popular forms of
penance was a pilgrimage to sacred places,--seen equally among
degenerate Christian sects in Asia Minor, and among the Mohammedans of
Arabia. What place so sacred as Jerusalem, the scene of the passion and
resurrection of our Lord? Ever since the Empress Helena had built a
church at Jerusalem, it had been thronged with pious pilgrims. A
pilgrimage to old Jerusalem would open the doors of the New Jerusalem,
whose streets were of gold, and whose palaces were of pearls.

At the close of the tenth century there was great suffering in Europe,
bordering on despair. The calamities of ordinary life were so great that
the end of the world seemed to be at hand. Universal fear of impending
divine wrath seized the minds of men. A great religious awakening took
place, especially in England, France, and Germany. In accordance with
the sentiments of the age, there was every form of penance to avert the
anger of God and escape the flames of hell. The most popular form of
penance was the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, long and painful as it was.
Could the pilgrim but reach that consecrated spot, he was willing to
die. The village pastor delivered the staff into his hands, girded him
with a scarf, and attached to it a leathern scrip. Friends and neighbors
accompanied him a little way on his toilsome journey, which lay across
the Alps, through the plains of Lombardy, over Illyria and Pannonia,
along the banks of the Danube, by Moesia and Dacia, to Belgrade and
Constantinople, and then across the Bosphorus, through Bithynia,
Cilicia, and Syria, until the towers and walls of Tyre, Ptolemais, and
Caesarea proclaimed that he was at length in the Holy Land. Barons and
common people swell the number of these pilgrims. The haughty knight,
who has committed unpunished murders, and the pensive saint, wrapt in
religious ecstasies, rival each other in humility and zeal. Those who
have no money sell their lands. Those who have no lands to sell throw
themselves on Providence, and beg their way for fifteen hundred miles
among strangers. The roads are filled with these travellers,--on foot,
in rags, fainting from hunger and fatigue. What sufferings, to purchase
the favor of God, or to realize the attainment of pious curiosity! The
heart almost bleeds to think that our ancestors could ever have been so
visionary and misguided; that such a gloomy view of divine forgiveness
should have permeated the Middle Ages.

But the sorrows of the pious pilgrims did not end when they reached the
Holy Land. Jerusalem was then in the hands of the Turks and Saracens (or
Orientals, a general name given to the Arabian Mohammedans), who exacted
two pieces of gold from every pilgrim as the price of entering
Jerusalem, and moreover reviled and maltreated him. The Holy Sepulchre
could be approached only on the condition of defiling it.

The reports of these atrocities and cruelties at last reached the
Europeans, filling them with sympathy for the sufferers and indignation
for the persecutors. An intense hatred of Mohammedans was generated and
became universal,--a desire for vengeance, unparalleled in history.
Popes and bishops weep; barons and princes swear. Every convent and
every castle in Europe is animated with deadly resentment. Rage,
indignation, and vengeance are the passions of the hour,--all
concentrated on "the infidels," which term was the bitterest reproach
that each party could inflict on the other. An infidel was accursed of
God, and was consigned to human wrath. And the Mohammedans had the same
hatred of Christians that Christians had of Mohammedans. In the eyes of
each their enemies were infidels; and they were enemies because they
were regarded as infidels.

Such a state of feeling in both Europe and Asia could not but produce an
outbreak,--a spark only was needed to kindle a conflagration. That spark
was kindled when Peter of Amiens, a returned hermit, aroused the martial
nations to a bloody war on these enemies of God and man. He was a
mean-looking man, with neglected beard and disordered dress. He had no
genius, nor learning, nor political position. He was a mere fanatic,
fierce, furious with ungovernable rage. But he impersonated the leading
idea of the age,--hatred of "the infidels," as the Mohammedans were
called. And therefore his voice was heard. The Pope used him as a tool.
Two centuries later he could not have made himself a passing wonder. But
he is the means of stirring up the indignation of Europe into a blazing
flame. He itinerates France and Italy, exposing the wrongs of the
Christians and the cruelties of the Saracens,--the obstruction placed in
the way of salvation. At length a council is assembled at Clermont, and
the Pope--Urban II.--presides, and urges on the sacred war. In the year
1095 the Pope, in his sacred robes, and in the presence of four hundred
bishops and abbots, ascends the pulpit erected in the market-place, and
tells the immense multitude how their faith is trodden in the dust; how
the sacred relics are desecrated; and appeals alike to chivalry and
religion. More than this, he does just what Mohammed did when he urged
his followers to take the sword: he announces, in fiery language, the
fullest indulgence to all who take part in the expedition,--that all
their sins shall be forgiven, and that heaven shall be opened to them.
"It is the voice of God," they cry; "we will hasten to the deliverance
of the sacred city!" Every man stimulates the passions of his neighbor.
All vie in their contributions. The knights especially are
enthusiastic, for they can continue their accustomed life without
penance, and yet obtain the forgiveness of their sins. Religious fears
are turned at first into the channel of penance; and penance is made
easy by the indulgence of the martial passions. Every recruit wore a red
cross, and was called _croise_,--cross-bearer; whence the name of
the holy war.

Thus the Crusades began, at the close of the eleventh century, when
William Rufus was King of England, when Henry IV. was still Emperor of
Germany, when Anselm was reigning at Canterbury as spiritual head of the
English Church, ten years after the great Hildebrand had closed his
turbulent pontificate.

I need not detail the history of this first Crusade. Of the two hundred
thousand who set out with Peter the Hermit,--this fiery fanatic, with no
practical abilities,--only twenty thousand succeeded in reaching even
Constantinople. The rest miserably perished by the way,--a most
disorderly rabble. And nothing illustrates the darkness of the age more
impressively than that a mere monk should have been allowed to lead two
hundred thousand armed men on an enterprise of such difficulty. How
little the science of war was comprehended! And even of the five hundred
thousand men under Godfrey, Tancred, Bohemond, and other great feudal
princes,--men of rare personal valor and courage; men who led the flower
of the European chivalry,---only twenty-five thousand remained after
the conquest of Jerusalem. The glorious array of a hundred and fifty
thousand horsemen, in full armor, was a miserable failure. The lauded
warriors of feudal Europe effected almost nothing. Tasso attempted to
immortalize their deeds; but how insignificant they were, compared with
even Homer's heroes! A modern army of twenty-five thousand men could not
only have put the whole five hundred thousand to rout in an hour, but
could have delivered Palestine in a few months. Even one of the standing
armies of the sixteenth century, under such a general as Henry IV. or
the Duke of Guise, could have effected more than all the crusaders of
two hundred years. The crusaders numbered many heroes, but scarcely a
single general. There was no military discipline among them: they knew
nothing of tactics or strategy; they fought pell-mell in groups, as in
the contests of barons among themselves. Individually they were gallant
and brave, and performed prodigies of valor with their swords and
battle-axes; but there was no direction given to their strength
by leaders.

The Second Crusade, preached half a century afterwards by Saint Bernard,
and commanded by an Emperor of Germany and a King of France, proved
equally unfortunate. Not a single trophy consoled Europe for the
additional loss of two hundred thousand men. The army melted away in
foolish sieges, for which the crusaders had no genius or proper means.

The Third Crusade, and the most famous, which began in the year 1189, of
which Philip Augustus of France, Richard Coeur de Lion of England, and
Frederic Barbarossa of Germany were the leaders,--the three greatest
monarchs of their age,--was also signally unsuccessful. Feudal armies
seem to have learned nothing in one hundred years of foreign warfare; or
else they had greater difficulties to contend with, abler generals to
meet, than they dreamed of, who reaped the real advantages,--like
Saladin. Sir Walter Scott, in his "Ivanhoe," has not probably
exaggerated the military prowess of the heroes of this war, or the valor
of Templars and Hospitallers; yet the finest array of feudal forces in
the Middle Ages, from which so much was expected, wasted its strength
and committed innumerable mistakes. It proved how useless was a feudal
army for a distant and foreign war. Philip may have been wily, and
Richard lion-hearted, but neither had the generalship of Saladin. Though
they triumphed at Tiberias, at Jaffa, at Caesarea; though prodigies of
valor were performed; though Ptolemais (or Acre), the strongest city of
the East, was taken,--yet no great military results followed. More blood
was shed at this famous siege, which lasted three years, than ought to
have sufficed for the subjugation of Asia. There were no decisive
battles, and yet one hundred battles took place under its walls.
Slaughter effected nothing. Jerusalem, which had been retaken by the
Saracens, still remained in their hands, and never afterwards was
conquered by the Europeans. The leaders returned dejected to their
kingdoms, and the bones of their followers whitened the soil of

The Fourth Crusade, incited by Pope Innocent III., three years after,
terminated with divisions among the States of Christendom, without
weakening the power of the Saracens (1202-4).

Among other expeditions was one called the "Children's Crusade" (1212),
a wretched, fanatical misery, resulting in the enslavement of many and
the death of thousands by shipwreck and exposure.

The Fifth Crusade, commanded by the Emperor Frederic II. of Germany
(1228-9), was diverted altogether from the main object, and spent its
force on Constantinople. That city was taken, but the Holy Land was not
delivered. The Byzantine Empire was then in the last stages of
decrepitude, or its capital would not have fallen, as it did, from a
naval attack made by the Venetians, and in revenge for the treacheries
and injuries of the Greek emperors to former crusaders. This, instead of
weakening the Mussulmans, broke down the chief obstacle to their
entrance into Europe shortly afterward.

The Sixth Crusade (1248-50) only secured the capture of Damietta, on the
banks of the Nile.

The Seventh and last of these miserable wars was the most unfortunate
of all, A.D. 1270. The saintly monarch of France perished, with most of
his forces, on the coast of Africa, and the ruins of Carthage were the
only conquest which was made. Europe now fairly sickened over the losses
and misfortunes and defeats of nearly two centuries, during which five
millions are supposed to have lost their lives. Famine and pestilence
destroyed more than the sword. Before disheartened Europe could again
rally, the last strongholds of the Christians were wrested away by the
Mohammedans; and their gallant but unsuccessful defenders were treated
with every inhumanity, and barbarously murdered in spite of truces
and treaties.

Such were the famous Crusades, only the main facts of which I allude to;
for to describe them all, or even the more notable incidents, would fill
volumes,--all interesting to be read in detail by those who have
leisure; all marked by prodigious personal valor; all disgraceful for
the want of unity of action and the absence of real generalship. They
indicate the enormous waste of forces which characterizes nations in
their progress. This waste of energies is one of the great facts of all
history, surpassed only by the apparent waste of the forces of nature or
the fruits of the earth, in the transition period between the time when
men roamed in forests and the time when they cultivated the land. See
what a vast destruction there has been of animals by each other; what a
waste of plants and vegetables, when they could not be utilized. Why
should man escape the universal waste, when reason is ignored or
misdirected? Of what use or value could Palestine have been to Europeans
in the Middle Ages? Of what use can any country be to conquerors, when
it cannot be civilized or made to contribute to their wants? Europe then
had no need of Asia, and that perhaps is the reason why Europe then
could not conquer Asia. Providence interfered, and rebuked the mad
passions which animated the invaders, and swept them all away. Were
Palestine really needed by Europe, it could be wrested from the Turks
with less effort than was made by the feeblest of the crusaders.
Constantinople--the most magnificent site for a central power--was
indeed wrested from the Greek emperors, and kept one hundred years; but
the Europeans did not know what to do with the splendid prize, and it
was given to the Turks, who made it the capital of a vital empire. All
the good which resulted to Europe from the temporary possession of
Constantinople was the introduction into Europe of Grecian literature
and art. Its political and mercantile importance was not appreciated,
nor then even scarcely needed. It will one day become again the spoil of
that nation which can most be benefited by it. Such is the course
events are made to take.

In this brief notice of the most unsuccessful wars in which Europe ever
engaged we cannot help noticing their great mistakes. We see rashness,
self-confidence, depreciation of enemies, want of foresight, ignorance
of the difficulties to be surmounted. The crusaders were diverted from
their main object, and wasted their forces in attacking unimportant
cities, or fortresses out of their way. They invaded the islands of the
Mediterranean, Egypt, Africa, and Greek possessions. They quarrelled
with their friends, and they quarrelled with each other. The chieftains
sought their individual advantage rather than the general good. Nor did
they provide themselves with the necessities for such distant
operations. They had no commissariat,--without which even a modern army
fails. They were captivated by trifles and frivolities, rather than
directing their strength to the end in view. They allowed themselves to
be seduced by both Greek and infidel arts and vices. They were betrayed
into the most foolish courses. They had no proper knowledge of the
forces with which they were to contend. They wantonly massacred their
foes when they fell into their hands, increased the animosity of the
Mohammedans, and united them in a concert which they should themselves
have sought. They marched by land when they should have sailed by sea,
and they sailed by sea when they should have marched by land. They
intrusted the command to monks and inexperienced leaders. They obeyed
the mandates of apostolic vicars when they should have considered
military necessities. In fact there was no unity of action, and scarcely
unity of end. What would the great masters of Grecian and Roman warfare
have thought of these blunders and stupidities, to say nothing of modern
generals! The conduct of those wars excites our contempt, in spite of
the heroism of individual knights. We despise the incapacity of leaders
as much as we abhor the fanaticism which animated their labors. The
Crusades have no bright side, apart from the piety and valor of some who
embarked in them. Hence they are less and less interesting to modern
readers. The romance about them has ceased to affect us. We only see
mistakes and follies; and who cares to dwell on the infirmities of human
nature? It is only what is great in man that moves and exalts us. There
is nothing we dwell upon with pleasure in these aggressive, useless,
unjustifiable wars, except the chivalry associated with them. The reason
of modern times as sternly rebukes them as the heart of the Middle Ages
sickened at them.

In one aspect they are absolutely repulsive; and this in view of their
vices. The crusaders were cruel. They wantonly massacred their enemies,
even when defenceless. Sixty thousand people were butchered on the fall
of Jerusalem; ten thousand were slaughtered in the Mosque of Omar. The
Christians themselves felt safe when they sought the retreat of
churches, in dire calamities at home; but they had no respect for the
religious retreats of infidels. When any city fell into their hands
there was wholesale assassination. And they became licentious, as well
as rapacious and cruel. They learned all the vices of the East. Even
under the walls of Acre they sang to the sounds of Arabian instruments,
and danced amid indecent songs. When they took Constantinople they had
no respect for either churches or tombs, and desecrated even the pulpit
of the Patriarch. Their original religious zeal was finally lost sight
of entirely in their military license. They became more hateful to the
orthodox Greeks than to the infidel Saracens. And when the crusaders
returned to their homes,--what few of them lived to return,--they
morally poisoned the communities and villages in which they dwelt. They
became vagabonds and vagrants; they introduced demoralizing amusements,
and jugglers and strolling players appeared for the first time in
Europe. All war is necessarily demoralizing, even war in defence of
glorious principles, and especially in these times, but much more so is
unjust, fanatical, and unnecessary war.

But I turn from the record of the mistakes, follies, vices, miseries,
and crimes which marked the wickedest and most uncalled-for wars of
European history, to consider their ultimate results: not logical
results, for these were melancholy,--the depopulation of Europe; the
decimation of the nobility; the poverty which enormous drains of money
from their natural channels produced; the spread of vice; the decline of
even feudal virtues. These evils and others followed naturally and
inevitably from those distant wars. The immediate effects of all war are
evil and melancholy. Murder, pillage, profanity, drunkenness,
extravagance, public distress, bitter sorrows, wasted energies,
destruction of property, national debts, exaltation of military maxims,
general looseness of life, distaste for regular pursuits,--these are the
first-fruits of war, offensive and defensive, and as inevitable and
uniform as the laws of gravity. No wars were ever more disastrous than
the Crusades in their immediate effects, in any way they may be viewed.
It is all one dark view of disappointment, sorrow, wretchedness, and
sin. There were no bright spots; no gains, only calamities. Nothing
consoled Europe for the loss of five millions of her most able-bodied
men,--no increase of territory, no establishment of rights, no glory,
even; nothing but disgrace and ruin, as in that maddest of all modern
expeditions, the invasion of Russia by Napoleon.

But after the lapse of nearly seven hundred years we can see important
results on the civilization of Europe, indirectly effected,--not
intended, nor designed, nor dreamed of; which results we consider
beneficent, and so beneficent that the world is probably better for
those horrid wars. It was fortunate to humanity at large that they
occurred, although so unfortunate to Europe at the time. In the end,
Europe was a gainer by them. Wickedness was not the seed of virtue, but
wickedness was overruled. Woe to them by whom offences come, but it must
need be that offences come. Men in their depravity will commit crimes,
and those crimes are punished; but even these are made to praise a Power
superior to that of devils, as benevolent as it is omnipotent,--in which
fact I see the utter hopelessness of earth without a superintending and
controlling Deity.

One important result of the Crusades was the barrier they erected to the
conquests of the Mohammedans in Europe. It is true that the wave of
Saracenic invasion had been arrested by Charles Martel four or five
hundred years before; but in the mean time a new Mohammedan power sprang
up, of greater vigor, of equal ferocity, and of a more stubborn
fanaticism. This was that of the Turks, who had their eye on
Constantinople and all Eastern Europe. And Europe might have submitted
to their domination, had they instead of the Latins taken
Constantinople. The conquest of that city was averted several hundred
years; and when at last it fell into Turkish hands, Christendom was
strong enough to resist the Turkish armies. We must remember that the
Turks were a great power, even in the times of Peter the Great, and
would have taken Vienna but for John Sobieski. But when Urban II., at
the Council of Clermont, urged the nations of Europe to repel the
infidels on the confines of Asia, rather than wait for them in the heart
of Europe, the Asiatic provinces of the Greek Empire were overrun both
by Turks and Saracens. They held Syria, Armenia, Asia Minor, Africa,
Spain, and the Balearic Islands. Had not Godfrey come to the assistance
of a division of the Christian army, when it was surrounded by two
hundred thousand Turks at the battle of Dorylaeum, the Christians would
have been utterly overwhelmed, and the Turks would have pressed to the
Hellespont. But they were beaten back into Syria, and, for a time, as
far as the line of the Euphrates. But for that timely repulse, the
battles of Belgrade and Lepanto might not have been fought in subsequent
ages. It would have been an overwhelming calamity had the Turks invaded
Europe in the twelfth century. The loss of five millions on the plains
of Asia would have been nothing in comparison to an invasion of Europe
by the Mohammedans,--whether Saracens or Turks. It may be that the
chivalry of Europe would have successfully repelled an invasion, as the
Saracens repelled the Christians, on their soil. It may be that Asia
could not have conquered Europe any easier than Europe could
conquer Asia.

I do not know how far statesmanlike views entered into the minds of the
leaders of the Crusades. I believe the sentiment which animated Peter
and Urban and Bernard was pure hatred of the Mohammedans (because they
robbed, insulted, and oppressed the pilgrims), and not any controlling
fears of their invasion of Europe. If such a fear had influenced them,
they would not have permitted a mere rabble to invade Asia; there would
have been a sense of danger stronger than that of hatred,--which does
not seem to have existed in the self-confidence of the crusaders. They
thought it an easy thing to capture Jerusalem: it was a sort of holiday
march of the chivalry of Europe, under Richard and Philip Augustus.
Perhaps, however, the princes of Europe were governed by political
rather than religious reasons. Some few long-headed statesmen, if such
there were among the best informed of bishops and abbots, may have felt
the necessity of the conflict in a political sense; but I do not believe
this was a general conviction. There was, doubtless, a political
necessity--although men were too fanatical to see more than one side--to
crush the Saracens because they were infidels, and not because they were
warriors. But whether they saw it or not, or armed themselves to resist
a danger as well as to exterminate heresy, the ultimate effects were
all the same. The crusaders failed in their direct end. They did not
recover Palestine; but they so weakened or diverted the Mohammedan
armies that there was not strength enough left in them to conquer
Europe, or even to invade her, until she was better prepared to resist
it,--as she did at the battle of Lepanto (A.D. 1571), one of the
decisive battles of the world.

I have said that the Crusades were a disastrous failure. I mean in their
immediate ends, not in ultimate results. If it is probable that they
arrested the conquests of the Turks in Europe, then this blind and
fanatical movement effected the greatest blessing to Christendom. It
almost seems that the Christians were hurled into the Crusades by an
irresistible fate, to secure a great ultimate good; or, to use Christian
language, were sent as blind instruments by the Almighty to avert a
danger they could not see. And if this be true, the inference is logical
and irresistible that God uses even the wicked passions of men to effect
his purposes,--as when the envy of Haman led to the elevation of
Mordecai, and to the deliverance of the Jews from one of their
greatest dangers.

Another and still more noticeable result of the Crusades was the
weakening of the power of those very barons who embarked in the wars.
Their fanaticism recoiled upon themselves, and undermined their own
system. Nothing could have happened more effectually to loosen the
rigors of the feudal system. It was the baron and the knight that
marched to Palestine who suffered most in the curtailment of the
privileges which they had abused,--even as it was the Southern planter
of Carolina who lost the most heavily in the war which he provoked to
defend his slave property. In both cases the fetters of the serfs and
slaves were broken by their own masters,--not intentionally, of course,
but really and effectually. How blind men are in their injustices! They
are made to hang on the gallows which they have erected for others. To
gratify his passion of punishing the infidels, whom he so intensely
hated, the baron or prince was obliged to grant great concessions to the
towns and villages which he ruled with an iron hand, in order to raise
money for his equipment and his journey. He was not paid by Government
as are modern soldiers and officers. He had to pay his own expenses, and
they were heavier than he had expected or provided for. Sometimes he was
taken captive, and had his ransom to raise,--to pay for in hard cash,
and not in land: as in the case of Richard of England, when, on his
return from Palestine, he was imprisoned in Austria,--and it took to
ransom him, as some have estimated, one third of all the gold and silver
of the realm, chiefly furnished by the clergy. But where was the
imprisoned baron to get the money for his ransom? Not from the Jews,
for their compound interest of fifty per cent every six months would
have ruined him in less than two years. But the village guilds had money
laid by. Merchants and mechanics in the towns, whom he despised, had
money. Monasteries had money. He therefore gave new privileges to all;
he gave charters of freedom to towns; he made concessions to the

As the result of this, when the baron came back from the wars, he found
himself much poorer than when he went away,--he found his lands
encumbered, his castle dilapidated, and his cattle sold. In short, he
was, as we say of a proud merchant now and then, "embarrassed in his
circumstances." He was obliged to economize. But the feudal family would
not hear of retrenchment, and the baron himself had become more
extravagant in his habits. As travel and commerce had increased he had
new wants, which he could not gratify without parting with either lands
or prerogatives. As the result of all this he became not quite so
overbearing, though perhaps more sullen; for he saw men rising about him
who were as rich as he,--men whom his ancestors had despised. The
artisans, who belonged to the leading guilds, which had become enriched
by the necessities of barons, or by that strange activity of trade and
manufactures which war seems to stimulate as well as to destroy,--these
rude and ignorant people were not so servile as formerly, but began to
feel a sort of importance, especially in towns and cities, which
multiplied wonderfully during the Crusades. In other words, they were no
longer brutes, to be trodden down without murmur or resistance. They
began to form what we call a "middle class." Feudalism, in its proud
ages, did not recognize a middle class. The impoverishment of nobles by
the Crusades laid the foundation of this middle class, at least in
large towns.

The growth of cities and the decay of feudalism went on simultaneously;
and both were equally the result of the Crusades. If the noble became
impoverished, the merchant became enriched; and the merchant lived, not
in the country, but in some mercantile mart. The crusaders had need of
ships. These were furnished by those cities which had obtained from
feudal sovereigns charters of freedom. Florence, Pisa, Venice, Genoa,
Marseilles, became centres of wealth and political importance. The
growth of cities and the extension of commerce went hand in hand.
Whatever the Crusades did for cities they did equally for commerce; and
with the needs of commerce came improvement in naval architecture. As
commerce grew, the ships increased in size and convenience; and the
products which the ships brought from Asia to Europe were not only
introduced, but they were cultivated. New fruits and vegetables were
raised by European husbandmen. Plum-trees were brought from Damascus and
sugar-cane from Tripoli. Silk fabrics, formerly confined to
Constantinople and the East, were woven in Italian and French villages.
The Venetians obtained from Tyrians the art of making glass. The Greek
fire suggested gunpowder. Architecture received an immense impulse: the
churches became less sombre and heavy, and more graceful and beautiful.
Even the idea of the arch, some think, came from the East. The domes and
minarets of Venice were borrowed from Constantinople. The ornaments of
Byzantine churches and palaces were brought to Europe. The horses of
Lysippus, carried from Greece to Rome, and from Rome to Constantinople,
at last surmounted the palace of the Doges. Houses became more
comfortable, churches more beautiful, and palaces more splendid. Even
manners improved, and intercourse became more polished. Chivalry
borrowed many of its courtesies from the East. There were new
refinements in the arts of cookery as well as of society. Literature
itself received a new impulse, as well as science. It was from
Constantinople that Europe received the philosophy of Plato and
Aristotle, in the language in which it was written, instead of
translations through the Arabic. Greek scholars came to Italy to
introduce their unrivalled literature; and after Grecian literature came
Grecian art. The study of Greek philosophy gave a new stimulus to human
inquiry, and students flocked to the universities. They went to Bologna
to study Roman law, as well as to Paris to study the Scholastic

Thus the germs of a new civilization were scattered over Europe. It so
happened that at the close of the Crusades civilization had increased in
every country of Europe, in spite of the losses they had sustained.
Delusions were dispelled, and greater liberality of mind was manifest.
The world opened up towards the East, and was larger than was before
supposed. "Europe and Asia had been brought together and recognized each
other." Inventions and discoveries succeeded the new scope for energies
which the Crusades opened. The ships which had carried the crusaders to
Asia were now used to explore new coasts and harbors. Navigators learned
to be bolder. A navigator of Genoa--a city made by the commerce which
the Crusades necessitated--crosses the Atlantic Ocean. As the magnetic
needle, which a Venetian traveller brought from Asia, gave a new
direction to commerce, so the new stimulus to learning which the Grecian
philosophy effected led to the necessity of an easier form of writing;
and printing appeared. With the shock which feudalism received from the
Crusades, central power was once more wielded by kings, and standing
armies supplanted the feudal. The crusaders must have learned something
from their mistakes; and military science was revived. There is scarcely
an element of civilization which we value, that was not, directly or
indirectly, developed by the Crusades, yet which was not sought for, or
anticipated even,--the centralization of thrones, the weakening of the
power of feudal barons, the rise of free cities, the growth of commerce,
the impulse given to art, improvements in agriculture, the rise of a
middle class, the wonderful spread of literature, greater refinements in
manners and dress, increased toleration of opinions, a more cheerful
view of life, the simultaneous development of energies in every field of
human labor, new hopes and aspirations among the people, new glories
around courts, new attractions in the churches, new comforts in the
villages, new luxuries in the cities. Even spiritual power became less
grim and sepulchral, since there was less fear to work upon.

I do not say that the Crusades alone produced the marvellous change in
the condition of society which took place in the thirteenth century, but
they gave an impulse to this change. The strong sapling which the
barbarians brought from their German forests and planted in the heart of
Europe,--and which had silently grown in the darkest ages of barbarism,
guarded by the hand of Providence,--became a sturdy tree in the feudal
ages, and bore fruit when the barons had wasted their strength in Asia.
The Crusades improved this fruit, and found new uses for it, and
scattered it far and wide, and made it for the healing of the nations.
Enterprise of all sorts succeeded the apathy of convents and castles.
The village of mud huts became a town, in which manufactures began. As
new wants became apparent, new means of supplying them appeared. The
Crusades stimulated these wants, and commerce and manufactures supplied
them. The modern merchant was born in Lombard cities, which supplied the
necessities of the crusaders. Feudalism ignored trade, but the baron
found his rival in the merchant-prince. Feudalism disdained art, but
increased wealth turned peasants into carpenters and masons; carpenters
and masons combined and defied their old masters, and these masters left
their estates for the higher civilization of cities, and built palaces
instead of castles. Palaces had to be adorned, as well as churches; and
the painters and handicraftsmen found employment. So one force
stimulated another force, neither of which would have appeared if feudal
life had remained _in statu quo_.

The only question to settle is, how far the marked progress of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries may be traced to the natural
development of the Germanic races under the influence of religion, or
how far this development was hastened by those vast martial expeditions,
indirectly indeed, but really. Historians generally give most weight to
the latter. If so, then it is clear that the most disastrous wars
recorded in history were made the means--blindly, to all appearance,
without concert or calculation--of ultimately elevating the European
races, and of giving a check to the conquering fanaticism of the enemies
with whom they contended with such bitter tears and sullen


Michaud's Histoire des Croisades; Mailly's L'Esprit des Croisades;
Choiseul; Daillecourt's De l'Influence des Croisades; Sur l'Etat des
Peuples en Europe; Heeren's Ueber den Einfluss der Kreuzzuege;
Sporschill's Geschichte der Kreuzzuege; Hallam's Middle Ages; Mill's
History of the Crusades; James's History of the Crusades; Michelet's
History of France (translated); Gibbon's Decline and Fall; Milman's
Latin Christianity; Proctor's History of the Crusades; Mosheim.


* * * * *

A.D. 1324-1404.


A.D. 1100-1400.

Church Architecture is the only addition which the Middle Ages made to
Art; but even this fact is remarkable when we consider the barbarism and
ignorance of the Teutonic nations in those dark and gloomy times. It is
difficult to conceive how it could have arisen, except from the stimulus
of religious ideas and sentiments,--like the vast temples of the
Egyptians. The artists who built the hoary and attractive cathedrals and
abbey churches which we so much admire are unknown men to us, and yet
they were great benefactors. It is probable that they were practical and
working architects, like those who built the temples of Greece, who
quietly sought to accomplish their ends,--not to make pictures, but to
make buildings,--as economically as they could consistently with the end
proposed, which end they always had in view.

In this Lecture I shall not go back to classic antiquity, nor shall I
undertake to enter upon any disquisition on Art itself, but simply
present the historical developments of the Church architecture of the
Middle Ages. It is a technical and complicated subject, but I shall try
to make myself understood. It suggests, however, great ideas and
national developments, and ought to be interesting.

The Romans added nothing to the architecture of the Greeks except the
arch, and the use of brick and small stones for the materials of their
stupendous structures. Now Christianity and the Middle Ages seized the
arch and the materials of the Roman architects, and gradually formed
from these a new style of architecture. In Roman architecture there was
no symbolism, no poetry, nothing to represent consecrated sentiments. It
was mundane in its ideas and ends; everything was for utility. The
grandest efforts of the Romans were feats of engineering skill, rather
than creations inspired by the love of the beautiful. What was beautiful
in their edifices was borrowed from the Greeks; what was original was
intended to accommodate great multitudes, whether they sought the sports
of the amphitheatre or the luxury of the bath. Their temples were small,
comparatively, and were Grecian.

The first stage in the development of Church architecture was reached
amid the declining glories of Roman civilization, before the fall of the
Empire; but the first model of a Christian church was not built until
after the imperial persecutions. The early Christians worshipped God in
upper chambers, in catacombs, in retired places, where they would not be
molested, where they could hide in safety. Their assemblies were small,
and their meetings unimportant. They did nothing to attract attention.
The worshippers were mostly simple-minded, unlettered, plebeian people,
with now and then a converted philosopher, or centurion, or lady of rank
They met for prayer, exhortation, the reading of the Scriptures, the
singing of sacred melodies, and mutual support in trying times. They did
not want grand edifices. The plainer the place in which they assembled
the better suited it was to their circumstances and necessities. They
scarcely needed a rostrum, for the age of sermons had not begun; still
less the age of litanies and music and pomps. For such people, in that
palmy age of faith and courage, when the seeds of a new religion were
planted in danger and watered with tears; when their minds were directed
almost entirely to the soul's welfare and future glory; when they loved
one another with true Christian disinterestedness; when they stimulated
each other's enthusiasm by devotion to a common cause (one Lord, one
faith, one baptism); when they were too insignificant to take any social
rank, too poor to be of any political account, too ignorant to attract
the attention of philosophers,--_any_ place where they would be
unmolested and retired was enough. In process of time, when their
numbers had increased, and when and wherever they were tolerated; when
money began to flow into the treasuries; and especially when some gifted
leader (educated perhaps in famous schools, yet who was fervent and
eloquent) desired a wider field for usefulness,--then church edifices
became necessary.

This original church was modelled after the ancient Basilica, or hall of
justice or of commerce: at one end was an elevated tribunal, and back of
this what was called the "apsis,"--a rounded space with arched roof. The
whole was railed off or separated from the auditory, and was reserved
for the clergy, who in the fourth century had become a class. The apsis
had no window, was vaulted, and its walls were covered with figures of
Christ and of the saints, or of eminent Christians who in later times
were canonized by the popes. Between the apsis and the auditory, called
the "nave," was the altar; for by this time the Church was borrowing
names and emblems from the Jews and the old religions. From the apsis to
the extremity of the other end of the building were two rows of pillars
supporting an upper wall, broken by circular arches and windows, called
now the "clear story." In the low walls of the side aisles were also
windows. Both the nave and the aisles supported a framework of roof,
lined with a ceiling adorned with painting.

For some time we see no marked departure, at this stage, from the
ancient basilica. The church is simple, not much adorned, and adapted to
preaching. The age in which it was built was the age of pulpit orators,
when bishops preached,--like Basil, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, and
Leo,--when preaching was an important part of the service, by the
foolishness of which the world was to be converted. Probably there were
but few what we should call fine churches, but there was one at Rome
which was justly celebrated, built by Theodosius, and called St. Paul's.
It is now outside the walls of the modern city. The nave is divided into
five aisles, and the main one, opening into the apsis, is spanned by a
lofty arch supported by two colossal columns. The apsis is eighty feet
in breadth. All parts of the church--one of the largest of Rome--are
decorated with mosaics. It has two small transepts at the extremity of
the nave, on each side of the apsis. The four rows of magnificent
columns, supporting semicircular arches, are Corinthian. In this church
the Greek and Roman architecture predominates. The essential form of the
church is like a Pagan basilica. We see convenience, but neither
splendor nor poetry. Moreover it is cheerful. It has an altar and an
apsis, but it is adapted to preaching rather than to singing. The
public dangers produce oratory, not chants. The voice of the preacher
penetrates the minds of the people, as did that of Savonarola at
Florence announcing the invasion of Italy by the French,--days of fear
and anxiety, reminding us also of Chrysostom at Antioch, when in his
spacious basilican church he roused the people to penitence, to avert
the ire of Theodosius.

The first transition from the basilica to the Gothic church is called
the _Romanesque_, and was made after the fall of the Empire, when the
barbarians had erected new kingdoms on its ruins; when literature and
art were indeed crushed, yet when universal desolation was succeeded by
new forms of government and new habits of life; when the clergy had
become an enormous power, greatly enriched by the contributions of
Christian princes. This transition retained the traditions of the fallen
Empire, and yet was adapted to a semi-civilized people, nominally
converted to Christianity. It arose after the fall of the Merovingians,
when Charlemagne was seeking to restore the glory of the Western Empire.
Paganism had been suppressed by law; even heresies were extinguished in
the West. Kings and people were alike orthodox, and bowed to the
domination of the Church. Abbeys and convents were founded everywhere
and richly endowed. The different States and kingdoms were poor, but the
wealth that existed was deposited in sacred retreats. The powers of the
State were the nobles, warlike and ignorant, rapidly becoming feudal
barons, acknowledging only a nominal fealty to the Crown. Kings had no
glory, defied by their own subjects and unsupported by standing armies.
But these haughty barons were met face to face by equally haughty
bishops, armed with spiritual weapons. These bishops were surrounded and
supported by priests, secular and regular,--by those who ruled the
people in small parishes, and those who ruled the upper classes in their
monastic cells. Learning had fled to monasteries (what little there
was), and the Church became a new attraction.

The architects of the Romanesque, who were probably churchmen, retained
the nave of the basilica, but made it narrower, and used but two rows of
columns. They introduced the transepts, or cross-enclosures, making them
to project north and south of the nave, in the space separated from the
apsis; and the apsis was expanded into the choir, filled with priests
and choristers. The building now assumes the form of a cross. The choir
is elevated several steps above the nave, and beneath it is the crypt,
where the bishops and abbots and saints are buried. At the intersection
of choir, nave, and transept,--an open, square place,--rises a square
tower, at each corner of which is a massive pier supporting four arches.
The windows are narrow, with semicircular arches. At the western
entrance, at the end opposite the apse, is a small porch, where the
consecrated water is placed, in an urn or basin, and this is inclosed
between two towers. The old Roman atrium, or fore-court, entirely
disappears. In its place is a grander facade; and the pillars--which are
all internal, like those of an Egyptian temple, not external, as in the
Greek temple--have no longer Grecian capitals, but new combinations of
every variety, and the pillars are even more heavy and massive than the
Doric. The flat wooden ceiling of the nave disappears, on account of
frequent fires, and the eye rests on arches supporting a stone roof. All
the arches are semicircular, like those of the Coliseum and of the Roman
aqueducts and baths. They are built of small stones united by cement.
The building is low and heavy, and its external beauty is in the west
front or facade, with its square towers and circular window and
ornamented portal. The internal beauty is from the pillars supporting
the roof, and the tower which intersects the nave, choir, and transepts.
Sometimes, instead of a tower there is a dome, reminding us of Byzantine

But this Romanesque church is also connected with monastic institutions,
whose extensive buildings join the church at the north or south. The
church is wedded to monasticism; one supports the other, and both make a
unity exceedingly efficient in the Middle Ages. The communication
between the church and the convent is effected by a cloister,--a vaulted
gallery surrounding a square, open space, where the brothers walk and
meditate, but do not talk, except in undertone or whisper; for all the
precincts are sacred, made for contemplation and silence,--a retreat
from the noisy, barbaric world. Connected with the cloisters is a court
opening into the refectory, where the brothers dine on herbs and eggs
and a little meat,--also in silence, and, where the rule is strict, in
gloom,--an ascetic, dreary discipline. The whole range of buildings is
enclosed with walls, like a fortress. You see in this architecture the
gloom and desolation which overspread the world. Churches are heavy and
sombre; they are places for dreary meditation on the end of the world,
on the failure of civilization, on the degradation of humanity,--and yet
the only places where man may be brought in contact with the Deity who
presides over a fallen world, exalting human hopes to heaven, where
miseries end, and worship begins.

This style of architecture prevailed till the twelfth century, and was
seen in its greatest perfection in Germany under the Saxon emperors,
especially in the Rhenish provinces, as in the cathedrals of Spires,
Mentz, Worms, and Nuremberg. Its general effect was gloomy and heavy; a
separation from the outward world,--a world disgraced by feudal wars and
peasants' wrongs and general ignorance, which made men sad, morose,
inhuman. It flourished in ages when the poor had no redress, and were
trodden under the feet of hard feudal masters; when there was no law but
of brute force; when luxuries were few and comforts rare,--an age of
hardship, privation, poverty, suffering; an age of isolations and
sorrows, when men were forced to look beyond the grave for peace and
hope, when immortality through a Redeemer was the highest inspiration of
life. Everybody was agitated by fears. The clergy made use of this
universal feeling by presenting the terrors of the law,--the penalty of
sin,--everlasting physical burnings, from which the tortured soul could
be extricated only by penance and self-expiation, offerings to the
Church, and entire subserviency to the will of the priest, who held the
keys of heaven and hell. The men who lived when the Romanesque churches
dotted every part in Europe looked upon society and saw nothing but
grief,--heavy burdens, injustices, oppressions, cruel wrongs; and they
hid their faces and wept, and said: "Let us retreat from this miserable
world which discord ravages; let us hide ourselves in contemplation; let
us prepare to meet God in judgment; let us bring to Him our offering;
let us propitiate Him; let us build Him a house, where we may chant our
mournful songs." So the church arises,--in Germany, in France, in
England,--solemn, mystical, massive, a type of sorrow, in the form of a
cross, with "a sepulchral crypt like the man in the tomb, before the
lofty spire pointed to the man who had risen to Heaven." The church is
still struggling, and is not jubilant, except in Gregorian chants, and
is not therefore lofty or ornamental. It is a vault. It is more like a
catacomb than a basilica, for the world is buried deep in sorrows and
fears. Look to any of the Saxon churches of the period when the
Romanesque prevailed, and they are low, gloomy, and damp, though massive
and solemn. The church as an edifice ever represents the Church as an
institution or a power, ever typifies prevailing sentiments and ideas.
Perhaps the finest of the old Romanesque churches was that of Cluny, in
Burgundy, destroyed during the French Revolution. It had five aisles,
and was five hundred and twenty feet in length. It had a stately tower
at the intersection of the transepts, and six other towers. It was early
Norman, and loftier than the Saxon churches, although heavy and massive
like them.

But the Romanesque church, with all its varieties, is still gloomy,
dark, sepulchral, reminding us of the sorrows of the Middle Ages, and
the dreary character of prevailing religious sentiments,--fervent,
sincere, profound, but sad,--the sentiments of an age of ignorance
and faith.

The Crusades came. A new era burst upon the world. The old ideas became
modified; society became more cheerful, because more chivalric,
adventurous, poetic. The world opened towards the East, and was larger
than was before supposed. Liberality of mind began to dawn on the
darkened ages; no longer were priests supreme. The gay Provencals began
to sing; the universities began to teach and to question. The Scholastic
philosophy sent forth such daring thinkers as Erigena and Abelard.
Orthodoxy was still supreme before such mighty intellects as Anselm,
Bernard, and Thomas Aquinas, but it was assailed. Abelard put forth his
puzzling questions. The Schoolmen began to think for themselves, and the
iron weight of Feudalism was less oppressive. Free cities and commerce
began to enrich the people. Kings were becoming more powerful; grim
spiritual despotism was less arrogant. The end of the world, it was
found, had not come. A glorious future began to shed forth the beams of
its coming day. It was the dawn of a new civilization.

So a lighter, more cheerful, and grander architecture, with symbolic
beauties, appeared with changing ideas and sentiments. The Church, no
longer a gloomy power, struggling with Saracens and barbarism, but
dominant, triumphant, issues forth from darksome crypts and soars
upward,--elevates her vaulted roofs. "The Oriental ogive appears.... The
architects heap arcade on arcade, ogive on ogive, pyramid on pyramid,
and give to all geometrical symmetry and artistic grace.... The Greek
column is there, but dilated to colossal proportions, and exfoliated in
a variegated capital." The old Roman arch disappears, and the pointed
arch is substituted,--graceful and elevated. The old Egyptian obelisk
appears in the spire reaching to heaven, full of aspiration. The window
becomes larger and encroaches on the naked wall, and radiates in mystic
roses. The arches widen and the piers become more lofty. Stained glass
appears and diffuses religious light. Every part of the church becomes
decorated and symbolical and harmonious, though infinitely variegated.
The altars have pictures over them. Shrines and monuments appear in the
niches. The dresses of the priests are more gorgeous. The music of the
choir peals forth hallelujahs. Christ is risen from the tomb. "The
purple of his blood colors the windows." The roof, like pinnacles and
spires, seems to reach the skies. The pressure of the walls is downwards
rather than lateral. The vertical lines of Cologne are as marked as the
old horizontal lines of the Parthenon. The walls too are not so heavy,
and are supported by buttresses, which give increased beauty to the
exterior,--greater light and shade. "Every part of the church seems to
press forward and strive for greater freedom, for outward
manifestation." Even the broad and expansive window presses to the outer
surface of the walls, now broken by buttresses and pinnacles. The
window--the eye of the edifice--is more cheerful and intelligent. More
calm is the imposing facade, with its mighty towers and lofty spires,
tapering like a pyramid, with its round oriel window rich in beautiful
tracery, and its wide portal with sculptured saints and martyrs. And in
all the churches you see geometrical proportions. "Even the cross of the
church is deduced from the figure by which Euclid constructed the
equilateral triangle," The columns present the proportions of the Doric,
as to diameter and height. The love of the true and beautiful meet. The
natural and supernatural both appear. All parts symbolize the passion of
Christ. If the crypt speaks of death, the lofty and vaulted roof and the
beautiful pointed arches, and the cheerful window, and the jubilant
chants speak of life. "The old church reminds one of the Christ that lay
in the tomb; the new, of the Christ who arose the third day." The old
fosters meditation and silence; the new kindles the imagination, by its
variety of perspective arrangement and mystic representation,--still
reverential, still expressive of consecrated sentiments, yet more
cheerful. The foliated shaft, the rich tracery of the window, the
graceful pinnacle, the Arabian gorgeousness of the interior,--as if the
crusaders had learned something from the East,--the innumerable shrines
and pictures, the variegated marbles of the altar, with its vessels of
silver and gold, the splendid dresses of the priests, the imposing
character of the ritualism, the treasures lavished everywhere, all
speak greater independence, wealth, and power. The church takes the
place of all amusements. Its various attractions draw together the
people from their farms and shops. They are gaily dressed, as if they
were attending a festival. Their condition is so improved that they have
time for holidays. And these the Church multiplies; for perpetual toil
is the grave of intellect. The people must have rest, amusement,
excitement. All these things the Catholic Church gives, and consecrates.
Crusader, baron, knight, priest, peasant, all resort to the church for
benedictions. Women too are there, and in greater numbers; and they
linger for the confessional. When the time comes that women stay away
from church, like busy, preoccupied, sceptical men, then let us be on
the watch for some great catastrophe, since practical paganism will then
be restored, and the angels of light will have left the earth.

Paris and its neighborhood was the cradle of this new development of
architecture which we wrongly call the Gothic, even as Paris was the
centre of the new-born intelligence of the era. The word "Gothic"
suggests destructive barbarism: the English, French, and Germans
descended chiefly from Normans, Saxons, and Burgundians. This form of
church architecture rapidly spreads to Germany, England, and Spain. The
famous Suger, the minister of a powerful king, built the abbey of St.
Denis. The churches of Rheims, Paris, and Bourges arose in all their
grandeur. The facade of Rheims is the most significant example of the
wonderful architecture of the thirteenth century. In the church of
Amiens you see the perfection of the so-called Gothic,--so graceful are
its details, so dazzling is its height. The central aisle is one hundred
and thirty-two feet in altitude,--only surpassed by that of Beauvais,
which is fourteen feet higher. It was then that the cathedral of Rouen
was built, with its elegant lightness,--a marvel to modern travellers.
Soon after, the cathedral of Cologne appears, more grand than
either,--but left unfinished,--with its central aisle forty-four feet in
width, rising one hundred and forty feet into the air, with its colossal
towers, intended to support the slender openwork spires, five hundred
and twenty feet in height. The whole church is five hundred and
thirty-two feet in length. I confess this church made a greater
impression on my mind than did any Gothic church in Europe,--more, even,
than Milan, with its unnumbered pinnacles and statues and its marble
roof. I could not rest while surveying its ten thousand wonders,--so
much lightness combined with strength; so grand, and yet so cheerful; so
exquisitely proportioned, so complicated in details, and yet a grand
unity; a glorious and fit temple for the reverential worship of the
Deity. Oh, how grand are those monuments which were designed to last
through ages, and which are consecrated, not to traffic, not to
pleasure, not to material wealth, but to the worship of that Almighty
God to whom every human being is personally responsible!

I cannot enumerate the churches of Mediaeval Europe,--built possibly by
the Freemasons, certainly by men familiar with all that is practical in
their art, with all that is hallowed and poetical. I glance at the
English cathedrals, built during this epoch,--the period of the Crusades
and the revival of learning.

And here I allude to the man who furnishes me with a text to my
discourse,--William of Wykeham, chancellor and prime minister of Edward
III., the contemporary of Chaucer and Wyclif,--who flourished in the
fourteenth century, and who built Winchester Cathedral; a great and
benevolent prelate, who also founded other colleges and schools. But I
merely allude to him, since my subject is the art to which he gave an
impulse, rather than any single individual. No one man represents church
architecture any more appropriately than any one man represents the
Feudal system, or Monasticism, or the Crusades, or the French

I do not think the English cathedrals are equal to those of Cologne,
Rheims, Amiens, and Rouen; but they are full of interest, and they have
varied excellences. That of Salisbury is the only one which is of
uniform style. Its glory is in its spire, as that of Lincoln is in its
west front, and that of Westminster is in its nave. Gloucester is
celebrated for its choir, and York for its tower. In all are beautiful
vistas of pillars and arches. But they lack the inspiration of the
Catholic Church. They are indeed hoary monuments, petrified mysteries, a
"passion of stone," as Michelet speaks of the marble histories which
will survive his rhapsodies. They alike show the pilgrimage of humanity
through gloomy centuries. If their great wooden screens were removed,
which separate the choir from the nave, the cathedrals doubtless would
appear to more advantage, and especially if they were filled with altars
and shrines and pictures, and lighted candles on the altars,--filled
also with crowds of worshippers, reverent before the gorgeously attired
ministers of Divine Omnipotence, and excited by transporting chants, and
the various appeals to sense and imagination. The reason must be
assisted by the imagination, before the mind can revel in the glories of
Gothic architecture. Imagination intensifies all our pleasures, even
those of sense; and without imagination--yea, a memory stored with the
pious deeds of saints and martyrs in bygone ages--a Gothic cathedral is
as much a sealed book as Wordsworth is to Taine. The Protestant tourist
from Michigan or Pennsylvania can "do" any cathedral in two hours, and
wonder why they make such a fuss about a church not half so large as
the New York Central Railroad station. The wonders of cathedrals must be
studied, like the glories of a landscape, with an eye to the beautiful
and the grand, cultured and practised by the contemplation of ideal
excellence, when the mind summons the imagination to its aid, with all
the poetry and all the history which have been learned in a life of
leisure and study. How different the emotions of a Ruskin or a Tennyson,
in surveying those costly piles, from those of a man fresh from a
distillery or from a warehouse of cotton fabrics, or even from those of
many fashionable women, whose only aesthetic accomplishment is to play
languidly and mechanically on an instrument, and whose only intellectual
achievement is to have devoured a dozen silly novels in the course of a
summer spent in alternate sleep and dalliance! Nor does familiarity
always give a zest to the pleasure which arises from the creations of
art or the glories of nature. The Roman beggar passes the Coliseum or
St. Peter's without notice or enjoyment, as a peasant sees unmoved the
snow-capped mountains of Switzerland or the beautiful lakes of
Killarney. Said sorrowfully my guide up the Rhigi, "I wish I lived in
Holland, for there are men there." Yet there are those whom the ascent
of Rhigi and the ruined monuments of ancient Rome would haunt for a
lifetime, in whose memory they would be perpetually fresh, never to pass
away, any more than the looks and the vows of early love from the mind
of a sentimental woman.

The glorious old architecture whose peculiarity was the pointed arch,
flourished only about three hundred years in its purity and matchless
beauty. Then another change took place. The ideal became lost in
meaningless ornaments. The human figure peoples the naked walls. "Man
places his own image everywhere.... The tomb rises like a mausoleum in
side chapels. Man is enthroned, not God." The corruption of the art
keeps pace with the corruption of the Papacy and the discords of
society. In the fourteenth century the Mediaeval has lost its charm
and faith.

And then sets in the new era, which begins with Michael Angelo. It is
marked by the revival of Greek art and Greek literature. At Florence
reign the Medici. On the throne of Saint Peter sits an Alexander VI. or
a Julius II. Genoa is a city of merchant-palaces. Museums are collected
of the excavated remains of Roman antiquity. Everybody kindles with the
contemplation of the long-buried glories of a classic age; everybody
reads the classic authors: Cicero is a greater oracle than Saint
Augustine. Scholars flock to Italy. The popes encourage the growing
taste for Pagan philosophy. Ancient art regains her long-abdicated
throne, and wields her sceptre over the worshippers of the Parthenon and
the admirers of Aeschylus and Thucydides. With the revived statues of
Greece appear the most beautiful pictures ever produced by the hand of
man; and with pictures and statues architecture receives a new
development. It is the blending of the old Greek and Roman with the
Gothic, and is called the Renaissance. Michael Angelo erects St.
Peter's, the heathen Pantheon, on the intersection of Gothic nave and
choir and transept; a glorious dome, more beautiful than any Gothic
spire or tower, rising four hundred and fifty feet into the air. And in
the interior are classic circular arches and pillars, so vast that one
is impressed as with great feats of engineering skill. All that is
variegated in marbles adorns the altars; all that is bewitching in
paintings is transferred to mosaics. And this new style of Italy spreads
into France and England. Sir Christopher Wren builds St. Paul's,--more
Grecian than Gothic,--and fills London with new churches, not one of
which is Gothic, and all different. The brain is bewildered in
attempting to classify the new and ever-shifting forms of the revived
Italian. And so for three hundred years the architects mingle the Gothic
with the classical, until now a mongrel architecture is the disgrace of
Europe; varied but not expressive, resting on no settled principles,
neither on vertical nor on horizontal lines,--blended together,
sometimes Grecian porticos on Elizabethan structures, spires resting not
on towers but roofs, Byzantine domes on Grecian temples, Greek columns
with Lombard arches, flamboyant panelling, pendant pillars from the
roof, all styles mixed up together, Corinthian pilasters acting as
Gothic buttresses, and pointed arches with Doric friezes,--a heap of
diverse forms, alien alike from the principles of Wykeham and Vitruvius.

And this varied mongrel style of architecture corresponds with the
confused civilization of the period,--neither Greek nor Gothic, but a
mixture of both; intolerant priests wrangling with pagan sceptics and
infidels,--Aquaviva with Pascal, the hierarchy of the French Church with
Voltaire and Rousseau, Protestant divines with the Catholic clergy;
Geneva and Rome compromising at Oxford, the authority of the Fathers
made antagonistic to the authority of popes, new vernacular tongues
supplanting Latin in the universities; everywhere war on the Middle
Ages, without full emancipation from their dogmas, ancient paganism made
to uphold the Church, an unbounded activity of intellect casting off all
established rules, the revival of the old Greek republics, democracy
asserting its claim against absolute power; nothing settled, nothing at
rest, but motion in every direction,--science combating faith, faith
spurning reason, humanity arrogating divinity, the confusion of races,
Babel towers of vanity and pride in the new projected enterprises,
Christian nations embroiled in constant wars, gold and silver set up as
idols, the rise of new powers in the shapes of new industries and new
inventions, commerce filling the world with wealth, armies contending
for rights as well as for the aggrandizement of monarchies: was there
ever such a simmering and boiling and fermenting period of activities
since the world began? In such a wild and tumultuous agitation of
passions and interests and ideas, how could Art reappear either in the
classic severity of Greek temples or the hoary grandeur of Mediaeval
cathedrals? In this jumble we look for new creations, but no creations
in art appear, only fantastic imitations. There is no creation except in
a new field, that of science and mechanical inventions,--where there is
the most extraordinary and astonishing development of human genius ever
seen on earth, but "of the earth earthy," aiming at material good.
Architecture itself is turned into great feats of engineering. It does
not span the apsis of a church; it spans rivers and valleys. The church,
indeed, passes out of mind, if not out of sight, in the new material
age, in the multiplication of bridges and gigantic reservoirs,--old Rome
brought back again in its luxuries.

And yet the exactness of science and the severity of criticism--begun
fifty years ago, in the verification of principles--produce a better
taste. Architects have sought to revive the purest forms of both Gothic
and Grecian. If they could not create a new style, they would imitate
the old: as in philosophy, they would go round in the old circles. As
science revives the atoms of Democritus, so art would reproduce the
ideas of Phidias and Vitruvius, and even the poetry and sanctity of the
Middle Ages. Within fifty years Christendom has been covered with Gothic
churches, some of which are as beautiful as those built by Freemasons.
The cathedrals have been copied rigidly, even for village churches. The
Parthenon reappears in the Madeleine. We no longer see, as in the
eighteenth century, Gothic spires on Roman basilicas, or Grecian
porticos ornamenting Norman towers. The various styles of two thousand
years are not mixed up in the same building. We copy either the
horizontal lines of Paganism or the vertical lines of the ages of Faith.
No more harmonious Gothic edifice was ever erected than the new Catholic
cathedral of New York.

The only absurdity is seen when radical Protestantism adopts the church
of pomps and liturgies. When the Reformation was completed, men sought
to build churches where they could hear the voice of the preacher; for
the mission of Protestantism is to teach, not to sing. Protestantism
glories in its sermons as much as Catholicism in its chants. If the
people wish to return again to ritualism, let them have the Gothic
church. If they wish to be electrified by eloquence, let them have a
basilica, for the voice of the preacher is lost in high and vaulted
roofs. If they wish to join in the prayers and the ceremonies of the
altar, let them have the clustering pillars and the purple windows.

Everything turns upon what is meant by a church. What is it for? Is it
for liturgical services, or is it for pulpit eloquence? Solve that
question, and you solve the Reformation. "My house," saith the Divine
Voice, "shall be called the house of prayer." It is "by the foolishness
of preaching," said Paul, that men are saved.

If you will have the prayers of the Middle Ages and the sermons of the
Reformation both together, then let the architects invent a new style,
which shall allow the blending of prayer and pulpit eloquence. You
cannot have them both in a Grecian temple, or in a Gothic church. You
must combine the Parthenon with Salisbury, which is virtually a new
miracle of architecture. Will that miracle be wrought? I do not know.
But a modern Protestant church, with all the wonders of our modern
civilization, must be something new,--some new combination which shall
be worthy of the necessity of our times. This is what the architect must
now aspire to accomplish; he must produce a house in which one can both
hear the sermon, and be stimulated by inspiring melodies,--for the
Church must have both. The psalms of David and the chants of Gregory
must be blended with the fervid words of a Chrysostom and a Chalmers.

This, at least, should be borne in mind: the church edifice _must_ be
adapted to the end designed. The Gothic architects adapted their vaults
and pillars to the ceremonies of the Catholic ritual. If it is this you
want, then copy Gothic cathedrals. But if it is preaching you want, then
restore the Grecian temple,--or, better still, the Roman theatre,--where
the voice of the preacher is not lost either in Byzantine domes or
Gothic vaults, whose height is greater than their width. The preacher
must draw by the distinctness of his tones; for every preacher has not
the musical voice of Chrysostom, or the electricity of St. Bernard. He
can neither draw nor inspire if he cannot be heard; he speaks to stones,
not to living men or women. He loses his power, and is driven to chants
and music to keep his audience from deserting him. He must make his
choir an orchestra; he must hide himself in priestly vestments; he must
import opera singers to amuse and not instruct. He cannot instruct when
he cannot be heard, and heard easily. Unless the people catch every tone
of his voice his electricity will be wasted, and he will preach in vain,
and be tired out by attempting to prevent echoes. The voice of Saint
Paul would be lost in some of our modern fashionable churches. Think of
the absurdity of Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians affecting to
restore Gothic monuments, when the great end of sacred eloquence is lost
in those devices which appeal to sense. Think of the folly of erecting a
church for eight hundred people as high as Westminster Abbey. It is not
the size of a church which prevents the speaker from being heard,--it is
the disproportion of height with breadth and length, and the echoes
produced by arcades. Spurgeon is heard easily by seven thousand people,
and Talmage by six thousand, and Dr. Hall by four thousand, because the
buildings in which they preach are adapted to public speaking. Those who
erect theatres take care that a great crowd shall be able to catch even
the whispers of actors. What would you think of the good sense and
judgment of an architect who should construct a reservoir that would
leak, in order to make it ornamental; or a schoolhouse without
ventilation; or a theatre where actors could only be seen; or a hotel
without light and convenient rooms; or a railroad bridge which would not
support a heavy weight?

A Protestant church is designed, no matter what the sect may be to which
it belongs, not for poetical or aesthetic purposes, not for the
admiration of architectural expenditures, not even for music, but for
earnest people to hear from the preacher the words of life and death,
that they may be aroused by his enthusiasm, or instructed by his wisdom;
where the poor are not driven to a few back seats in the gallery; where
the meeting is cheerful and refreshing, where all are stimulated to
duties. It must not be dark, damp, and gloomy, where it is necessary to
light the gas on a foggy day, and where one must be within ten feet of
the preacher to see the play of his features. Take away facilities for
hearing and even for seeing the preacher, and the vitality of a
Protestant service is destroyed, and the end for which the people
assemble is utterly defeated. Moreover, you destroy the sacred purposes
of a church if you make it so expensive that the poor cannot get
sittings. Nothing is so dull, depressing, funereal, as a church occupied
only by prosperous pew-holders, who come together to show their faces
and prove their respectability, rather than to join in the paeans of
redemption, or to learn humiliating lessons of worldly power before the
altar of Omnipotence. To the poor the gospel is preached; and it is ever
the common people who hear most gladly gospel truth. Ah, who are the
common people? I fancy we are all common people when we are sick, or in
bereavement, or in adversity, or when we come to die. But if advancing
society, based on material wealth and epicurean pleasure, demands
churches for the rich and churches for the poor,--if the lines of
society must be drawn somewhere,--let those architects be employed who
understand, at least, the first principles of their art. I do not mean
those who learn to draw pictures in the back room of a studio, but
conscientious men, if you cannot find sensible men. And let the pulpit
itself be situated where the people can hear the speaker easily, without
straining their eyes and ears. Then only will the speaker's voice ring
and kindle and inspire those who come together to hear God Almighty's
message; then only will he be truly eloquent and successful, since then
only does his own electricity permeate the whole mass; then only can he
be effective, and escape the humiliation of being only a part of a vain
show, where his words are disregarded and his strength is wasted in the
echoes of vaults and recesses copied from the gloomy though beautiful
monuments of ages which can never, never again return, any more than can
"the granite image worship of the Egyptians, the oracles of Dodona, or
the bulls of the Mediaeval popes."


Fergusson's History of Architecture; Durand's Parallels; Eastlake's
Gothic and Revival; Ruskin, Daly, and Penrose; Britton's Cathedrals and
Architectural Antiquities; Pugin's Specimens and Examples of Gothic
Architecture; Rickman's Styles of Gothic Architecture; Street's Gothic
Architecture in Spain; Encyclopaedia Britannica (article Architecture).


* * * * *

A.D. 1324-1384.


The name of Wyclif suggests the dawn of the Protestant Reformation; and
the Reformation suggests the existence of evils which made it a
necessity. I do not look upon the Reformation, in its earlier stages, as
a theological movement. In fact, the Catholic and Protestant theology,
as expounded and systematized by great authorities, does not materially
differ from that of the Fathers of the Church. The doctrines of
Augustine were accepted equally by Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. What
is called systematic divinity, as taught in our theological seminaries,
is a series of deductions from the writings of Paul and other apostles,
elaborately and logically drawn by Athanasius, Jerome, Augustine, and
other lights of the early Church, which were defended in the Middle Ages
with amazing skill and dialectical acuteness by the Scholastic doctors,
with the aid of the method which Aristotle, the greatest logician of
antiquity, bequeathed to philosophy. Neither Luther nor Calvin departed
essentially from these great deductions on such vital subjects as the
existence and attributes of God, the Trinity, sin and its penalty,
redemption, grace, and predestination. The creeds of modern Protestant
churches are in harmony with the writings of both the Fathers and the
Scholastic doctors on the fundamental principles of Christianity. There
are, indeed, some ideas in reference to worship, and the sacraments, and
the government of the Church, and aids to a religious life, defended by
the Scholastic doctors, which Protestants do not accept, and for which
there is not much authority in the writings of the Fathers. But the main
difference between Protestants and Catholics is in reference to the
institutions of the Church,--institutions which gradually arose with the
triumph of Christianity in its contest with Paganism, and which received
their full development in the Middle Ages. It was the enormous and
scandalous corruptions which crept into these _institutions_ which led
to the cry for reform. It was the voice of Wyclif, denouncing these
abuses, which made him famous and placed him in the van of reformers.
These abuses were generally admitted and occasionally attacked by
churchmen and laymen alike,--even by the poets. They were too flagrant
to be denied.

Now what were the prominent evils in the institutions of the Church
which called for reform, and in reference to which Wyclif raised up his
voice?--for in his day there was only _one_ Church. An enumeration of
these is necessary before we can appreciate the labors and teachings of
the Reformer. I can only state them; I cannot enlarge upon them. I state
only what is indisputable, not in reference to theological dogmas so
much as to morals and ecclesiastical abuses.

The centre and life and support of all was the Papacy,--an institution,
a great government, not a religion.

I have spoken of this great power as built up by Leo I., Gregory VII.,
and Innocent III., and by others whom I have not mentioned. So much may
be said of the necessity of a central spiritual power in the dark ages
of European society that I shall not combat this power, or stigmatize it
with offensive epithets. The necessities of the times probably called it
into existence, like other governments, although I cannot see any

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