Produced for THE ORTHOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, CAMBRIDGE,
by THOMAS NELSON & SONS LTD
LONDON EDINBURGH PARIS MELBOURNE TORONTO AND NEW YORK
First published September 1938 . Reprinted 1943, 1944, 1946
To the reader of the book
The purpose of this book is to give a bird’s eye view of history from the earliest times to the present day. It is hoped that it may be of value in two ways : first, by offering a framework with the help of which details of history outside the range of the book itself may be seen with a certain order and relation ; second, by putting in a clear light the connection between the histories of different countries, so that the story of any one of them is seen as but one thread in the complex design which is the story of them all.
It is not only the young reader who is in need of such help ; there are a number of older persons who would be interested in such a book. But a general knowledge of history and an international outlook on it are things which it is important to have as early as possible. In other words, it is the reader for whom this will be a ‘ First Book ’ who will get most from it, and whom the writers have kept chiefly in mind.
For this reason the language of the book has been made so simple and straightforward that no boy or girl who is old enough to be interested in history would have any trouble in reading it. The book is, in fact, in Basic English ; so that not only the very young but even those with a very limited knowledge of English may make good use of it. Whenever it has been necessary, as in all special fields, to make use of words outside the Basic 850, the sense has been made quite clear—generally in such a way that the reader to whom the word is new is given no trouble, and, on the other hand, the reader to whom it is not new does not have it forced on his attention. Sometimes, however, this has been done with the help of a picture, a footnote, or a straightforward account of its sense.
But it was not only with a view to getting the book into the hands of a younger and more international public that Basic was used in writing it. In no filed is there a greater need for clear and simple statement than in history, and no language gives less opening for the tricks and errors of words than Basic. It was only natural for C. K. Ogden to see in such a History material of the first order for Basic, and again for E. H. Carter to see in Basic the only language for such a History.
Naturally, in so short a book, only a very limited selection of the events of history has been possible. We may not go so far as to say that our selection has been limited to the ‘chief’ events, because it is very probable that no two lists of the chief events of history would be in agreement about more than four or five of them. Even less are we able to say that, among the events which do come into our selection, we have given to every one the right amount of attention in comparison with the others. Our attempt has simply been to give some idea of the great canvas of history, by lighting up, for example, a group, a man, a town, a ship, or a new invention—things sometimes not very important in themselves, but representative of the special qualities of a country or a time. If in this way we have made our readers interested enough to go further, and given them the sort of start which will make it possible for them to get profit by doing so, we have done our part. [pp. ix-x]
The first stage
Earliest man and stone
When Europeans went to Tasmania, about a hundred years back, they came across men living in conditions which see probably somewhat like those of very early times. These men had no clothing or houses, and no horses, cats, or dogs. They had no knowledge of plowing, of planting seed, or of fishing.
Even so, they were at a higher level of development than the men of about a hundred thousand years back. They were able to make a fire and get their food cooked. They had baskets made from the outer coverings of trees ; but they had no pots, because they had not made the discovery that a certain sort of earth may be made hard by heating. They made quite good spears by taking long sticks and giving them points, but not of stone. These spears were used for attacking animals and birds, which were skinned and cut up for food with a sharp-edged, flat tone used as a knife. But, what was most important, they had a working language, with words for things and acts.
Thousand of years of experience were necessary before early men got further than the rough ways of the Tasmanians. At the start they had not arms or instruments whatever, and everything of that sort which was needed had to be made for the first time. They had no language for talking to one another. They were not even able to make a fire.
In those early days the north of Europe was covered by tall trees and thick undergrowth, such as are now only to be seen in the warmest parts of the earth. These woods were full of animals, some twenty or thirty times the size of a man, and all very much stronger -- great cats armed with cruel curved teeth ; rhinoceroses, with horns on their noses an thick hair ; rough-coated horses ; and, in the rivers, great black, wide-nosed hippopotamuses (animals something like the rhinoceros, but without its horn). With such dangers all round him, the existence of early man was certainly very hard and very bitter.
When they first got the idea of making arms and instruments, however poor and rough, by cracking bits off stone, they had taken a great step forward. They had come, probably more than fifty thousand years back, to the stage of man's history named the Old Stone Age.
After a time these early men became conscious that the air was getting colder and drier in their warm, tree-covered lands. A great change was coming over the earth. The ice was moving down very slowly from the north, and it came on and on till most of North America and Europe was covered up. The science of geology has made it clear that there were four Ice Ages, or stretches of time when much of the earth was covered with ice, and after every cold Age came a warm one. The start of the last cold Age was probably about thirty thousand years back, and to-day, it is said, we are living in the fourth of the warm Ages.
It was probably when the ice was coming down for the third time that early men first made things of stone. But they had no knowledge of building, and when the ice came they had no houses for cover. So they went into holes in the side of the mountains, and these caves were used by those who came after them for thousands of years. Discoveries of some of the cave-houses were made not very long back in the mountains of Spain and France, and in other countries.
Masses of earth and sand put down by rivers have been turned over, and deep caves, which have kept their secrets for thousands of years, have been gone through, and the bones of men and great animals have been uncovered. Instruments of roughly-cut stone, for fighting and other purposes, together with other things used by the cave men, have come to light after having been under the earth from the start of man's history. Other materials of which things were made were the bones and teeth of the mammoth, a great animal no longer in existence, and the branching horns of animals which have been forced south by the ice and were looking for grass in the clear spaces near the caves.
It was with the help of such rough instruments that early men got to a higher level of existence than that of the animals. By degrees they became more expert at cutting and giving form to stone and bone and horn. They made clothing out of animals skins. The bone needles with which they put the skins together are, it is said, much better than those of later times. The Romans, for example never had such good needles as these earlier ones.
The men of the Old Stone Age necessarily gave most of their time to getting animals for food and to moving from place to place looking for them. It was only by fighting the animals that they were able to get food and to keep themselves safe from attack. But they had enough in common with men of today to make ornaments for their bodies out of colored stones, and they were able to get the forms of animals roughly cut out in stone and bone. They were expert enough to overcome great animals, to get the meat cooked, and to make themselves sharp stone knives for cutting it. In addition they made beautiful outline pictures of animals, on bone, and paintings in color on the walls of their caves. There is one cave-painting of an animal in which the black of his winter coat is seen mixed with the red of his coat in spring, when his long winter hair has come off.
After it was gone
It seems strange to us now that the men of the Old Stone Age were able to go on foot from Europe into Africa, and that in place of the Straits of Gibraltar, there was a land-bridge between the two. And they were able to go from Europe into Britain because Britain was joined to Europe, and the Thames and the Trent and the Seine all went into the Rhine. South Africa was joined to India. America was joined by land to Asia on the one hand and to Scotland by way of Greenland on the other. Then, through great natural changes, Europe became separate from Africa and Britain from Europe.
The old stone-workers and the most violent of the great animals had gone when the island of Britain was formed, and more expert men had taken their places. But the Old Stone Age was by far the longest stretch in man's history.
The ice was probably starting to go north for the last time about ten thousand years back. Then, when the weather conditions again became warmer, the newcomers in the west of Europe gave signs of development. Slowly new and better instruments came into use. From the higher levels of the places where they put their waste all sorts of everyday things have been taken.
When, while the ice was going back, men became more expert at cracking bits off stones and making sharper and better points and edges, they were at the start of what is now named the New Stone Age. By this time they had knives and other cutting instruments, hammers, heads for spears and for the spear-like arrows used by the archer, flat stones for taking the hair off skins, and polishers -- all made of stone. They gave their instruments sharp edges by rubbing them thin, and they got hand-parts of wood, fixed to hammer- and axe-heads such as you see in the picture. It was with such stone axes that they were able, after a very long time to get trees cut down, and so to make the first small houses, and the first tables and seats of wood.
Some bits of these early houses of wood may still be seen at the edges of the inland waters in Switzerland. They were put up on wood stages supported by farming, and animals were used for pulling their plows. They put up great tombs for the bodies of their dead in a way which makes it clear that they had some sort of belief in a future existence.
Probably about ten thousand years before the birth of Christ most men had got to the stage of development named the New Stone Age, and were moving slowly forward to a new level of existence. They were now expert in all the most necessary arts : training animals as servants of man; farming; making thread from plants and cloth from thread; forming pots and cooking vessels. But they were still without metals and without writing.
In the museums we may see and take in our hands the very things which were used by the earliest men. They are, in fact, our oldest histories. In them we have the most interesting story of the development of early man, from the first attempt at cracking a stone to the polishing and forming of it into a very good instrument for fighting or other purposes.
A great number of other things used by early man have been taken out of the earth in different countries. In England, experts have been through groups of cave-houses in Anglesey and of houses at the edge of the water near Glastonbury. The old roads made by the feet of early man have been mapped out. Some of these roads go up to the great stone temples, or churches, at Avebury or Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, which were made in the middle of the thickest group of 'barrows' -- stone tombs covered with earth -- where the men of the Stone Ages put their dead chiefs.
These great barrows may be seen at Carnac, in Brittany, and in fact there are thousands of them about the Atlantic from North Africa to Norway.
The newcomer from across the seas
After thousands of years men made other great discoveries. When they were looking for stones they somehow came one day on a bit of bright hard substance, the metal copper. In time they became expert in hammering and polishing this substance and made use of it for ornament. But they saw that copper was not hard enough to make strong fighting instruments and other such things. After a time they came across another metal, tin. then, later still, very had metal named bronze. This great discovery made possible the use of strong bronze instruments in place of stone ones, and became bronze was better at cutting stone and wood, men were now in a position to put up better buildings. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, put up for the dead, were made with the help of bronze instruments.
It was probably in the warm and fertile river-basins of the Nile and the Euphrates that men first made use of metal, and so came out of the Stone Ages. While the men of Europe were still in the later Stone Ages, about 5000 B.C., the men in those river-lands were becoming farmers, and living together in small towns. The long first state of man's development was coming to an end.
In time, by some happy chance, a bronze-worker came across a bit of the hardest and most important of all metals -- iron. The old stories picturing Higher Beings as iron-workers give us an idea of the deep respect and fear which early men had for the new art. With the discovery and first use of iron, man had come into the Iron Age, and in that we are still living.
The Hittites living in Asia Minor, whose story is in the Bible, were probably the first to get iron regularly from mines, about 1500 B.C. The Assyrians, who were great fighters, got their knowledge of mining from them, and it was their armies which first made use of the new metal for fighting, causing destruction wherever they went. By about 1000 B.C. the Greeks had a knowledge of iron, and a great Greek writer gave it the name 'the Newcomer from across the seas.'
In the peat moss of Denmark -- earth formed from trees which have been covered up for thousands of years -- workers have come across things, at three different levels, from every one of these long Ages. In the top part they came across the wood of certain trees and the iron axes used in cutting them down. Under this there were trees of a different sort together with bronze axes. and in the oldest and lowest part of all there were trees of a third sort in company with polished stone axes.
But these three great Ages of man's history -- Stone, Bronze, Iron -- did not have their start and end everywhere at the same time. Early men in different parts of the earth did not go at the same rate through them all. Some places were still in an earlier stage when others had gone on to a later one. Ad even today there are groups which have not got past the first stage of development, such as the Bushmen of Africa and Australia, and the men of New Guinea, who are living in conditions not unlike those of the early cave-men.
When Columbus first went to America the red men were at the Stone Age level of existence. It was the white men from Europe who gave them a knowledge of iron and steel, and so they were taken suddenly into the Iron Age. As an American writer says, it gives us food for thought when we see a long line of Red Indian women coming back to the house after a day in the fields, with their drying-baskets full of seeds on their backs, supported by bands across the front of their head, and their sticks and trays in their hands. These women are representative of the start of farming, grain-crushing, and cooking.
No one is quite certain how long the Stone Ages were, or when any country came from one Age into another. It is impossible to give any fixed time for them. In north Europe the New Stone Age was still going on at about 2000 B.C. -- the time of Abraham ; the Bronze Age was somewhere between 1000 and 500 B.C.
In the fields of France today, where the dead of the Great War are resting, it is a common thing in turning over the earth with a spade to come across a bit of steel from a present-day gun side by side with part of a stone axe -- the earliest of all arms. So the earth keeps her record, and so, thousands of years from now, she will still be keeping it.
A journey up the Nile
While the men in the great tree-covered lands of Europe were still in the Stone Age, those in the East were taking the first steps to a higher level of development.
The earliest fixed societies came into being where living conditions were best -- in the basins of the great rivers, the Nile, the Tigris, and Euphrates, the Ganges, the Yangtze Kiang. In all these places the weather conditions were good and the earth was fertile and well-watered. (How important rivers and waterholes were for early societies may be seen from Genesis xxi 22-30.)
The stone-workers in two of these fertile river-basins, those of the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates, were at the start of this new stage of development about six thousand years back. At a certain time every year the waters of these two great rivers came up over their sides and out into the flat country about them. This made farming and the putting up of housed very simple, because the fields were kept watered by the rivers, and the wet earth made good building material. In addition, the rivers were natural highways, which made trading possible between the different groups living by them, and the wide sands and the high mountains round about kept off attacks from outside for a time.
It was probably because of the good weather conditions and the natural watering of the fields every year that those living near the Nile and the Euphrates were the earliest examples of a more complex society. They were the first to be interested in a detailed knowledge of the sky -- astronomy -- and in mathematics. Here it was that men got their first training in living together in an ordered way and in the art of government, and that the keeping of records -- so necessary for a ruler -- was made possible by the invention of systems of writing and measuring. The true sense of the word 'geometry' is 'measuring the earth,' and, strange to say, the old Egyptian way of measuring fields is still in use in parts of England.
The lands round these two great river-basins are the Bible lands. Much of their history is given in the earlier part of the Bible, and recorded on early stone and brick buildings. From the Bible lands the new forms of society came slowly west -- first to Crete and Greece, then to Rome and West Europe, and, in the end, to America, where Columbus saw men who were still living in the Stone Age.
If you go through the Nile country you will see tombs for the dead and other buildings, representative of a great number of stages in the history of man. Even the small Egyptian houses of today, made of earth bricks, are not very different from those put up by the earliest men.
At the mouth of the Nile there are low masses of earth under which the bones of later stoneworkers, together with their stone instruments, have been resting for six thousand years. sometimes bits of grain or linen come to light in these old resting-places. Possibly it was from Egypt that grain and linen first came into Europe.
The 'Father of History,' Herodotus of Greece, says that the early Egyptians were " more interested in religion than any other nations." In Egypt and Babylon religion was a great force, and the men of religion were the chief support of the rulers. It was probably their desire to keep fixed days for purposes of religion which gave the early Egyptians the idea of the first calendar (in 4241 B. C. -- the earliest year in history about which we have any certain knowledge). They were the first men to make a division of the year into twelve months.
For writing, they made use of pictures of flowers, birds, and so on, signs of words and sounds. For example, the picture of a circle with a point in the middle, was representative of the word for 'sun.' Then from pictures they went on to the use of less straightforward signs, and by a connection of ideas the circle of the sun came to have the sense of 'day.' This writing was named hieroglyphics -- a word for the special signs used by the men of religion for writing on buildings. These signs, as used for everyday purposes, became increasingly shorter, till by degrees an alphabet, or system of letters representative of different sounds, was formed. It was from this simpler writing that the Phoenicians later took their alphabet, from which we get our present-day A B C. The Chinese, even to this day, have no alphabet in our sense of the word.
The Egyptians made ink ; the hollow stems of a river plant were pointed to make pens ; and 'paper' was produced from another river plant, named papyrus, by cutting it into long thin yellow bits. You see, then, that our word 'paper' comes from the old Egyptian word 'papyrus.'
It was not much more than a hundred years back that a young Frenchman named Champollion (1822) first made out the sense of the early Egyptian hieroglyphics. When Napoleon's army was in Egypt the men came across a stone with writing on it, near the Rosetta mouth of the Nile. On this 'Rosetta Stone' had been recorded certain forms of respect given by the men of religion to their King (The Greek Ptolemy, 195 B.C.). Happily for us, the record had been made in two languages, Greek and Egyptian. By a comparison of the two the Frenchman first made out the signs for the names of Cleopatra, Ptolemy, and so on, and this gave him the key to the rest of the writing. It was not till after this discovery that men of learning were able to make sense of the records of early Egyptian history.
The Pharaohs and the Pyramids
Going on with our journey up the Nile, away from the mouth, we come, near the old town of Memphis, which was at one time the living-place of the Egyptian Kings, to the strange land of the Pyramids. These noted building, with their square bases and pointed tops, are the last resting-places of the early Kings, and near them are other tombs in which were put the bodies of the Queens and the great men who took part in the government of Egypt.
The Pyramids were put up in the name of the Higher Beings, or gods, of the Egyptian religion -- the Sun (Ra) and the Fertile Nile (Osiris). It was the Egyptian belief that a happy existence after death was only possible if the body was kept in good condition. So the bodies were put through a special process, which kept them from the changes normally worked out by time, and even today they still have the look of men and women. Near the Pyramids are temples, where food and drink were stored for the use of the dead.
The greatest of these Pyramids is the Great Pyramid of King Cheops. Near it is the strange stone form put up in memory of him ; it has the face of a woman and the body of an animal, and its name is the Great Sphinx. These great structures of about 3000 B.C. give us some idea of how exert the men of this time had become, and what surprising things they were able to do, probably with copper instruments. Thirteen acres of land are covered by the Great Pyramid. It was the work of thousands of Kin's slaves, men who were his property, and it gives us a moving picture of a society in which great numbers of men and women were not free. This cruel system was common in all the early nations of the East.
The story of the building of the Great Pyramid was recorded some two thousand five hundred years back by Herodotus, the Greek writer of history, who made a journey to Egypt.
*"When Cheops became King," says Herodotus, "he did all sorts of things which were bad for the country. Every Egyptian was forced to give up all acts of religion in the temples and made to do work for the king. Some were ordered to take stones to the Nile from the Arabian mountains, others to get them across the river in boats, and others to take them from there to the African mountains. They did the work in groups of a hundred thousand men, every group working for three months without stopping. It took ten years of forced work to make the roadway over which the stones were pulled. This roadway was almost as great an undertaking as the Great Pyramid itself ; it is made of polished stones in which are cut pictures of living beings. Ten years were needed for this, and to make the slopes on which the Pyramids are placed and to make the rooms under the earth where Cheops was to be housed after death, and for the waterway which was made from the Nile to the Pyramid. The building of the Pyramid itself took twenty years. It is square ; the stones are polished and fixed together with the greatest care. Not one of them is less than thirty feet long.
"The Pyramid was made in steps, like the walls of a military building, or, as some say, like the High Place in a church. After the base was put down, the rest of the stones were taken up to their places by machines made of short, thick boards. The first machine took them from the base up to the top of the first step ; and when the stone had been lifted so far, it was pulled to the top of the second step by another machine. They had a machine for every step, or possibly they took the same machine, which was made so as to be readily moved, from one step to the other for the purpose of lifting the stones ; I give the two systems as I had them from those who gave me the account. At any rate, the highest parts were done first, then those a little lower, and so on till they came to the parts resting on the earth ; that is, the base.
"It is recorded on the Pyramid, in Egyptian writing, how much money was given for roots for the workmen's food, and the amount named by the man who was reading the record for me was sixteen hundred talents1 of silver. Now if this is true, what a great amount of money would be needed for the metal with which they were working ! And for the food and clothing of the men all the time they were at work on the building -- in addition to the time taken for cutting the stones and getting them up to the Pyramid, and for making the rooms under the earth !".
Near this great Pyramid was Memphis, with its low houses of bricks made dry in the sun. Some of these houses were used by the King's secretaries, who, with their river-grass pens, kept his accounts and records on rolls of papyrus. The King and his chief men were the rulers of millions of working men and women. Their name for him was 'Pharaoh,' which is, in fact, the word for the 'Great House' in which he was living.
The Pyramids and temples are themselves histories in stones. On their walls are numbers of pictures of everyday events, cut in stone and brightly painted. Here we see the first sea-going ships sailing on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean ; animals pulling plows of wood ; men producing works of art in stone ; the gold-worker making beautiful ornaments ; the potter at his wheel ; the first glass-makers ; cloth-makers with hand instruments, producing linen which is almost better than we are able to make to-day, with all our machines ; the iron-worker at work on the new metal. And here in addition, we may see the different divisions of society -- the great landowners, the free men, and the masses of slaves who kept the farms going and made the great Pyramids.
1 . A weight used as a measure of value. the amount of a talent was different among different nations and at different times, but here it is probably about 64 lbs.
The Great Chiefs of Egypt
Going up the Nile, we come across tombs of later times. These are cut into the face of the mountain, and were made for the great chiefs, who had at one time much power in Egypt under the King. We see from the wall-pictures that these chiefs had great houses with beautiful gardens. Parts of their libraries -- great rolls of papyrus -- have been uncovered. These writings give us the oldest stories on earth. They have accounts of the medical substances which were used, and of the value of certain medical oils. Among them are the first books on arithmetic, geometry, and algebra ; it was in Egypt that land was first measured, and the science of moving and lifting great masses of stone worked out.
Going on still farther up the Nile we come to the great broken walls of the building of Thebes, which is about five hundred miles south of Cairo. This was the chief town of Egypt in its last great age, when it was an Empire stretching from the Sahara to the Euphrates. At Karnak, where old Thebes was, we see again parts of great temples and tombs, and their walls are covered with copies in stone of everyday events in Egypt and Asia. Here, for the first time in history, the horse is pictured as the servant of man, and with it the wheeled carriage, which, like the horse, came from Asia.
With the money they took from Asia in the wars, the Egyptians made, in the great temple at Karnak, the greatest room with the greatest columns ever put up by man. The column, or upright support, was an Egyptian invention which came to Europe and was used hundreds of years later in the earliest Christian churches. Beautify seats and chests and jeweled boxes have been taken from the private temples of the great chiefs of the Egyptian Empire, and may now be seen in the National Museum at Cairo.
in that museum of the earliest ordered society there are examples of almost all the arts still in existence to-day -- the making of thread and cloth, of pots and glass ; building, woodworking, and painting ; ploughing and other farm operations ; boating, fishing, and watering the fields ; wine making, dancing, and music. It was a society living in peace and order, and producing not only great buildings, but the most delicate works of art.
In its complex organization every man had his special place, and in his work as a part of the group. All this is recorded on buildings which are five thousand years old.
However, at last, about 1100 B.C., the great days of Egypt came to an end. its downfall was caused by attacks from the outside, together with trouble inside the society itself.
In later history Egypt became part of Alexander's Empire. Still later it was ruled by Rome, after the last and most beautiful of Egyptian Queens, Cleopatra, had been overcome in her attempt to keep her country free. In the nineteen hundreds frequent trouble in Egypt made the interests of the European powers there very unsafe, and France and Britain in turn made attempts at keeping order. At last Britain took complete control, and kept it for more than fifty years. Today, however, Egypt is an independent country, united to Britain only by an agreement designed to take care of their common interests.
The "Paradise" of the Old Testament
The story of the earthworks and building in that other noted river-basin, that of the Tigris and Euphrates, makes it clear that among these Asiatic groups, as in Egypt, developments were taking place in very early times.
Long before the Great Pyramid was put up in Egypt, the first men in Asia to have an ordered society were building their homes at the months of the Tigris and Euphrates. This land is sometimes named Babylonia, and sometimes Mesopotamia, which is Greek for 'the land between the rivers.' It is said to be the 'Paradise' or 'Garden of Eden' of the Bible.
To this place came the Sumerians, journeying from the mountains where the rivers have their start. They made houses of earth bricks ; they took water to their fields, like the Egyptians, by cutting waterways through them ; they had instruments of copper but not of bronze. They did their writing with pointed plant-stems on flat bricks made of earth -- not on papyrus. The points of their pens were generally square, and made marks like a solid V, so their writing is named 'cuneiform,' from the Latin word for an instrument of this form. These bricks, with the writing on them, were put in an oven to get hard so that they would keep for a very long time. One of the earliest of such records is a business account taken out of one of the masses of earth which are now all we have of the early Babylonian towns.
As the land was measured by the Egyptians, so the sky was measured by the early Babylonians. One of their inventions was an instrument for measuring time by the sun. They made a division of the circle of the sky into three hundred and sixty degrees and of the day into the hours, minutes, and seconds which are still used. The 'astrologers' -- men who made a business of learning about the stars -- were expert enough to be able to say when there would an 'eclipse,' or covering of the sun or moon. There was a common belief that it was possible to see the future in the stars ; and when we say such things as "The stars were against it," we are gong back to the ideas of those early watchers of the skies. Five of the bodies which go round the sun still have the names of Babylonian gods, though in their Roman forms (Jupiter, Saturn, and so on).
After hundreds of years of fighting, the men from the mountains were overcome by men from the waste lands between the fertile countries of Egypt and Babylonia. These men of the sand-wastes were the Semites, under which name are grouped, among others, the Hebrews and the Arabs.
One of their Kings, under who great developments took place, was Hammurabi. In his time the earth bricks on which Babylonian traders put their accounts went into all parts of the west of Asia. There was still no money in the form of stamped bits of metal, but the value of a thing was given in weight of silver. They had schools for boys and girls, and parts of one of Hammurabi's school buildings may still be seen.
By 2000 B.C. this great King had become the ruler of all Babylonia. He made the first system of laws, and this was later recorded on a stone eight feet high which is still in existence. These laws gave special attention to the rights of persons without a father, of married women whose men were dead and the poor. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was to be the rule when any wrong was done. If a boy's death was caused by a house falling down, the builder's son was to be put to death.
Abraham was probably living at about the same time. He went, the Bible says, from Ur of the Chaldees (the stones of which were uncovered some years back), by way of the fertile lands near the Euphrates, to Canaan, into Egypt, and back to Canaan, where he went on living till the end of his days. So Abraham had some knowledge of Egypt and Babylon, and was in a position to make a comparison between their societies. He himself was a 'nomad' chief, that is, one living under canvas and moving from place to place. He was the owner of hundreds of sheep, cows, goats, and camels -- an animal of the greatest value for long journeys through the sand-wastes became it is able to go for days without water. He had stores of gold and silver, and great numbers of servants and women, who did the cooking and made cloth and meal with their hand-machines.
Though Abraham was forced into fighting to keep off the attacks of other groups of nomads in the waste land, he was a man of peace. In comparison with the great Babylonian King he was less important in the eyes of men ; but his ideas about God made him great. The only buildings he put up were for the purposes of religion. He was a true representative of the old Hebrews of the waste land.
A library of Earth bricks
After the death of Hammurabi another nomad group from the waste lands became the chief nation in the country between the two rivers. As early as 3000 B.C. this group had become farmers near the Tigris at Assur, north of Babylon, in the part which is now Assyria. Here they got a knowledge of writing and of living in towns from the Babylonians, and they became the greatest military experts in the early East. they took the use of iron from the Hittites, and their armies were the first to have arms of iron.
After the fall of the Egyptian Empire they got as far as the Mediterranean. By 750 B.C. they had overcome the Babylonians, and were ruling with an iron hand every part of the fertile stretch between the mountains and the sands. Then came the development of the greatest Empire which had so far been seen.
They put up the great and beautiful town of Nineveh. Their most noted King, Sennacherib (d. 681 B.C.), overcame Palestine in the time of Isaiah, the Hebrew man of God, and put an end to the town of Babylon. He made thick walls round Nineveh and put up a royal house for himself there. It had wide steps, and the way in was formed of high arches, at the sides of which were great winged bulls of polished white stone with the head of men. The bull was a very important animal in most of the early societies, and like its female the cow, frequently had a connection with religion.
The Assyrian rule was hard and cruel. In 612 B. C. came the destruction of Nineveh by other men from the sand-wastes and mountains, and the fall of its cruel King was a happy event for everyone from the Caspian to the Nile. Today Nineveh is only a great mass of broken stones, but among them experts have made the discovery of a library of thousands of earth bricks which had been covered up for more than two thousand years.
The Chaldeans were the last men from the wastes to be the rulers of Babylonia. Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.) was their greatest King, and it was he who put an end to Jerusalem and took the Hebrews to Babylon. The beautiful 'hanging gardens' in his house were said to be among the seven greatest works of man. Not long after this the great days of Babylon came to an end.
The Hebrews or Jews
The nation named the Hebrews, or Jews, has had more effect on history than all the great Empires of the early East to which it was so near. At the start the Hebrews were living in the Arabian wastes, moving from place to place for grass for their sheep and goats. As we have seen one of their earliest chiefs at this stage was Abraham, who, the Bible says, "Went down into Egypt to make himself a house there." Hundreds of years after Abraham, as is recorded in the Bible, some of the Hebrews became slaves in Egypt, "where Joseph was made chief over all the land."
Moses (about 1250 B.C.), one of the greatest men in Hebrew history, got the Jews away from Egypt and took them to Canaan, the land which their god had said was to be theirs, where he gave them a system of laws -- the 'Ten Commandments.' In Canaan the Jews took up farming with their sheep and goats, though they were still not the rulers of the country.
After their peace was broken by a more warlike group, the Philistines, who had been forced out of Crete by the Greeks ('Palestine' is only a different form of 'Philistine'). By this time there were great Kings in Damascus ruling over men in a high stage of development. They made use of the Phoenician system of writing, and in time their language became general in all the Bible lands. This was the language later used by Jesus.
After they had come to Palestine the Hebrews took a King named Saul (about 1000 B.C.), who was still a nomad living under canvas like his fathers. The King who came after him, David, went a step farther and made his house a great strong building in Jerusalem. He was a great fighter and verse-maker, and was probably the writer of the Bible songs named Psalms. His son, Solomon, was a lover of comfort and good living, like the rulers of the East ; he put up a great house for himself and a beautiful temple -- the house of god -- ornamented with jewels of great value. Today there is not a stone of Solomon's Temple in existence, though we may still see it in our mind's eye when we are reading about it in the second book of Chronicles.
The Bible gives the story of how Hiram, King of Tyre, gave Solomon his help in building the Temple. The Phoenicians, like the Hebrews themselves, had come from the waste land. By this time they were the greatest sailors and traders in the Mediterranean, and their towns were all round it. They were probably, even as early as this, trading as far as Cornwall, where they may have got tin for making bronze.
In time there came to the front among the Hebrews great men of religion, named Prophets, who were moved by a desire to keep the Jews true to the god of their fathers and to his laws. These prophets were men of simple ways and deep feeling, such as Amos in his sheepskins, and they made violent protests against the loose living which had become common among the Jews of the north. Their purpose was to make an end of the gods of the new country, or 'Baals,' which were being taken up by some of the Jews, and to put Jehovah back in his place as the one god to be feared and respected.
Jerusalem was almost taken by the warlike Assyrians, under Sennacherib, who came up to its very walls. But the destruction of the town was stopped by a disease which overtook the King's army (701 B.C.). Isaiah, the prophet, put heart into the Hebrews by teaching them that their god was not like the gods of the different towns or groups, but the ruler of all the earth.
Later on Jerusalem was, in fact, taken by Nebuchadnezzar (586 B. C.). The town was pulled down, and the Hebrews were sent to Babylon. The Hebrew nation seemed to have come to its end only four hundred years after the time of King Saul.
The Trader of Tyre and the Great King of Persia
By 1000 B.C. -- about the time when Saul became King of the Hebrews -- the early Greeks were forming their little town on the Aegean Sea, and it was not long before their ships and traders were being angrily watched by the traders from Tyre, who had no desire for any completion.
The town of Tyre was ruled by the Phoenicians, a branch of the Semites from the Arabian wastes. The Greeks, on the other hand, were of the Indo-European group which had come from the grass-lands in the middle of Asia, and from which come the languages and nations of India, Persia, and Europe.
The Persians were the earliest Indo-Europeans to make a name for themselves in history. They got their first knowledge of metals and writing and the other arts of society from the Egyptians and Babylonians. Their writing was done on papyrus, which was now everywhere taking the place of earth and brick for writing purposes. The Persian king Cyrus and his archers overcame the great King of Lydia, and from him they got the idea of using stamped bits of metal for money. In the end they became the rulers of all the East from the river Indus to the Aegean Sea.
All these lands were ruled by Darius, who was named the 'the Great'. He made a division of the Empire into separate parts for purposes of government, and put new roads which made possible the operation of a regular 'post.' His sailors went up the rivers and round the seas, and made of Persia the first Sea Empire. But it was not long before it came into competition with the Greeks, who put a stop to its expansion to the West.
Darius the Great was an early ruler of the same sort as Alexander of Greece and Augustus of Rome. Like them, he had a desire not only for power but for order and good government, and in some ways he did much for the nations who came under his rule. At Persepolis, in Persia, his last resting-place may still be seen cut into the face of the mountains
Buddha and the Great Age of India
Another branch of the Indo-European group had gone (about 1600 B.C.) from the level country of middle Asia to the river Indus, from which they got the name of Hindus. When they came there the country was in the hands of the Dravidians, men with flat noses, and there are still Dravidians living in the south of India.
The early Hindus had a very beautiful religion based on their observation of natural forces, and this gave birth to a great number of writings in the form of songs named the Vadas, which were in existence long before the time of Homer. Before they had a knowledge of writing, these songs were got by heart and handed down by the teachers of religion from father and son. These chiefs of religion were named Brahmins after their god Brahma, the Maker of All.
The society of the Hindus was at a high level of development, and in time they made great discoveries in medical science and mathematics, which later came to Europe through the other nations of the East. (The system of numbering by tens, named by us the decimal system is one of their inventions.) Hindu society was -- and still is today -- marked by very deep divisions, and it was a crime for persons from different groups, or castes, to get married to one another. There were four castes -- men of religion, military men, farmers and handworkers, and slaves.
Between 600 and 500 B.C. one of the greatest teachers of religion in history was living in India at the foot of the Himalayas. This was Gautama, or Siddartha, the son of a great landowner. In his early days he put into writing from memory all the old Hindu songs of religion. As a young man he had all the pleasures and comforts of a great prince. Then, when he was twenty-nine years old, he saw for the first time how hard man's existence on earth is, and he made a decision to give all his time to thought, turning his back on the desires of the body and living as simply as possible -- even going without food for days to keep his mind clear.
So he became the Buddha, or Wise One, and he was a teacher of religion at Benares and other places till his death, when he was eighty years old. His chief teaching was that the secret of being happy is to overcome self and have no desire but to be good. He was very much against the unnatural system of castes, and he said that a Brahmin was no different from a man of any other caste. He sent his teachers to Ceylon, Tibet, Burma, and China, and from China his beliefs went into Japan.
To-day, in the east of Asia, there are still millions with a belief in his teaching. At his death, says an old Hindu story, "there was a great shock all over the earth ; the sun and moon became dark ; balls of fire were seen in the sky ; and music came from the clouds."
The great landmark in Indian history, after this, is the coming of Alexander the Great, of whom we will have more to say later. Like such a number of others who have made attempts to take India, he came down with his army through the Khyber Pass, and saw to his surprise that he was in a land at a level of development in some ways quite equal to that of Europe.
Less than a hundred years after this the greatest of India's early kings was ruling over all the country. His name was Asoka (250 B.C.) and he had a deep belief in Buddha's teaching. In his time India was as forward in organization, art, and learning as the Roman Empire, and it had a much higher form of religion. It is not surprising that these early times are still looked back to, by the present-day Hindu, as the Great Age of India.
Homer and the story of Troy
The arts and science of Egypt and Asia first came to the early Europeans through those living about the Aegean Sea. The earliest Aegean town, which has only come to light in our time, was Knossos, in the Island of Crete. This seems to have been the chief town of a great Sea Empire. Here, in Knossos, only a short time back, the discovery was made of a great King's house like those of the Egyptians and Babylonians. This building is clearly the work of men at a very high state of society. It was well drained, heated with covered fireplaces, and had baths in it ; wide steps went curving round from floor to floor, and there was a great room where special meals took place.
Under the building was a complex chain of storerooms for wine and oil which seemed to have no end. The Greeks gave this place the name 'labyrinth.' which was their word for a network of ways. They had a story of how, in the past, a great animal, the 'Minotaur,' half-man and half-bull, was living there, and how the cruel King Minos gave orders for seven boys and seven girls to be sent from Athens every nine years as food for it.
Knossos has the oldest stone road in Europe. Her potters made beautiful cups and other vessels. and her women, as seen in the wall-paintings, put us in mind of the society women of the early nineteen hundreds. They had wide hats shading their faces, and dresses tight round the body, with full skirts and worked with colored thread and bands round the middle.
The most noted of the early Aegean sea-towns was Troy, and Homer's story of the fall of Troy, The Iliad, is one of the greatest stories ever penned. Moved by Homer's work, about one hundred years back a boy named Schliemann made up his mind that when he was a man he would have a look for Troy. He went to the great mass of earth by which the place is marked, in the north-west of Asia Minor. There he went deeper and deeper down into the earth till, to the surprise of everyone, he came upon a town which was a thousand years older than Homer's Troy.
After four years he and his workmen had go to the foot of the mass, and in doing so they had gone through no less than nine towns. At the lowest level there was a group of late Stone Age houses made of earth bricks, and with them were stone fighting instruments more than five thousand years old. In the second town, the one over it, were copper and beautiful gold jewels. The sixth town (about 1500 BC) was that of the great rulers of Homer's time. Its old walls, which were made of wood, have been uncovered. These walls were put up to keep off the attacks of the Greeks, by whom, as Homer says, the town was taken and burned in the Trojan War. The ninth town, at the top, was Roman, and parts of its buildings are still in existence..
Another great Aegean town was Mycenae, in Greece itself. Agamemnon, its greatest King, so says Homer's story, took the chief part in the attack on Troy. Its walls were so thick that, to later Greek armies coming against them, it seemed impossible for them to have been made by any but the 'Titans' -- early gods living on earth and noted for their great size.
The destruction of these Aegean towns was the work of the early Greeks, rough keepers of sheep and goats, who first came south from across the Danube two or three hundred years after the time of Hammurabi and Abraham. They gave themselves the name of Hellenes. Zeus was their chief god, and his living-place was Olympus, which is high enough to be seen from almost anywhere in Greece. Moving slowly south, pushed on by wave after wave of newcomers from the north, they saw the strong buildings and high walls of the Aegean towns, and came in touch with new ideas. In the hundreds of years while they were forming a more fixed society and building towns for themselves, they were learning, in their frequent attacks on the Aegeans, the art of fighting with metal blades in place of stone hammers. By about 1500 BC they had put an end to Knossos, and by 1100 BC to Troy.
Homer's verse is our earliest record of the Greeks and their ideas about men and gods. It gives us a picture of them living in small groups of open houses, without iron, writing, or towns. They were ruled by chiefs or Kings, helped by the older men, and all important questions were put before a meeting of free men. From the noted old Greek stories -- of Circe, the Sirens, the Cyclops, and so on -- we are able to get some idea of their ways of living.
The Laughing Men
The early nations of the East were ruled by Kings, like the Pharaohs of Egypt, and by men of religion. The Greeks had chiefs or Kings from the very first, and at one time or another (between 700 and 600 BC) they were ruled by 'tyrants' -- men who, though they were frequently good rulers, had taken the power by force and were responsible to no one.
But the Greeks, unlike the men of the East, had a very strong desire to be free. They were grouped in small towns with different gods. Every one of these towns was independent, and was, in fact, a country in itself. Every one had enough farm land round it to make it self-supporting. All together there were about a hundred and fifty of these small towns. Our name for them is city-states -- that is, towns which have a separate government and are not part of any greater organization.
When their numbers became greater the Greeks did not, like the nations of the East, overcome the other nations near them. What they did was to send out groups, like bees in the spring, to make new towns. By about 500 BC there were colonies of this sort all round the Mediterranean. In this way their towns, trade, language, and ideas went everywhere. Two of their traders even go as far as Britain and gave the Greeks an account of that far-off island, on the edge of the earth as it seemed to them.
But the Greeks were unable to keep peace among themselves. Though loose groups of towns were sometimes formed, they never became united in one nation. However, there were certain organizations which were common to all Greeks. The chief seat of their religion was the Oracle (a place where questions were answered by a god through the mouth of his servant) at Delphi, which, it was their belief, was the middle of the earth. Here they came in times of danger, together with men of Asia and of Rome, to get the opinion of the god, Apollo. The Greek gods were less cruel than the gods of the East, and men had less fear of them. They even had a sense of humor, and it has been said of the Greeks themselves that they were the only men of the time who ever gave way to uncontrolled laughing.
The Greeks did, for a time, become united against the Persians, and their long fight against the newcomers from Asia is another of the great stories in history, recorded by one of their most important writers, Herodotus, the 'Father of History.'
The Story of Marathon
The 'Great King' of Persia gave orders that the Greek towns in Asia Minor were to make certain payments to him, and when they would not do so he sent an army against them. In this way was started the great war between Europe and Asia, the outcome of which had such an important effect on later developments. The Persians took the Greek towns on the Asiatic side of the Aegean Sea and then, because Athens had been helping them, Darius made up his mind to overcome Greece itself, as a punishment. His first move was to send men requesting "earth and water" as a sign that the Greeks had become the servants of Darius. In answer, the Greeks put these representatives down a water-hole, where as they said, they would get quite enough "earth and water."
The first ships sent against Greece went down in the sea with all the men in them. Two years later the Persians came across the Aegean and made a landing near Athens, at Marathon (490 B.C.). Here the great army of Persian archers, from all over the Empire, was overcome by the small Athenian army of spearmen fighting in a solid group. Only Plataea of all the other Greek towns sent any help to Athens in this hour of danger.
Only a short time before, the great runner Pheidippides had come back from a journey to Sparta -- one hundred and fifty miles from Athens -- which he had done in twenty-four hours. After taking part in the fight Pheidippides went running to Athens, a distance of twenty-six miles, which was the quickest way of giving news. When he got there he was only able to say "The day is ours !" before falling forward, dead, into the arms of the Athenians. No man, it seemed to them, had ever had so great a death.
There was a space of some years before another army was sent from Persia. In that time the Greeks had foolishly been wasting their forces in war among themselves, but Athens had been building more ships, and had put strong walls round her harbor. Then, in 480 B.C., the Persian King, Xerxes, made an attack on Greece by land and sea, helped by the ships of the Phoenicians, who were bitter about the competition of the Greek traders. In this time of great danger the town of Sparta was given control of the Greek forces.
The great Persian army had come from Asia to the country north of Greece. The only road into Greece was a narrow way between the mountains and the sea, named Themopylae. Leonidas, the Spartan King, and three hundred of his countrymen were stationed in this narrow way. But a false Greek gave the Persians knowledge of a road round the back of the Spartans, and so they were able to make a surprise attack. By the morning, after a great fight, Leonidas and all his men were dead. In memory of them the place was marked with these words cut in stone :
Go, say to Sparta, you who come this way, That here, true to her orders, still we keep our place.And so a Greek had given the Greeks into the hands of the Persians. "The worst of all crimes," said the Greek writer Pausanias, "the giving away of country and countrymen for private profit, was the cause of bitter trouble to the Greeks, as it had been to others ! This sort of crime was in existence in Greece from the earliest times and was never rooted out."
The way to Athens was now open. The army was ordered by the Athenians to come down from its walled position on the slopes of the Acropolis. The military buildings were then burned, and all went to the island of Salamis near by. There seemed to be no hope. But on September 20, 480 B.C., the Persians were forced into a fight in the narrow sea between Salamis and Greece, and great was the destruction effected by the Athenian ships. Almost all the Persian vessels went down, and Xerxes had to go back to Persia. The land army, under its chief, went north, burning Athens on the way, but was later overcome by the united Greek forces, though it was three times their size (479 B.C.)
These great events area among the most important in history because they kept Greece and Europe from coming under the rule of Asia. The Athenians had made a great name for themselves, and had the feeling of being somehow different from all other nations. The rest were looked down on by them as 'barbarians' -- men without any true knowledge of the art of living.
The theatre and play
The time at which these wars took place was a great age in man's history (600-500 B.C.). About 500 B.C., Buddha, the father of the great religion which still has millions of supporters in the Far East, was living in India. A little earlier Confucius was working in China, where he is still respected almost as a god ; it was he who gave the great rule : "Do not do to others what you would not be pleased to have done to yourself." And somewhere about this time the early writings of the Jews, the 'Old Testament' of the Bible, were being put together in Jerusalem. Last, but not least, a certain town on the river Tiber -- Rome -- was now coming to the front.
The years between 500 and 400 B.C. were in addition, the great age of the Greek towns, or 'city-states.' The Greeks were very able in the government of their towns. They were experts, that is, in the political field, and our word 'political' comes from 'polis,' the Greek word for an independent town. At one time or another all the Greek towns had experience of certain different systems of government : 'Monarchy' (the rule of one man), 'Aristocracy' (the rule of the best men), 'Oligarchy' (the rule of a small number), 'Tyranny' (this word and idea -- of rule based on force -- at the back of it are from the East), and 'Democracy' (the rule of the 'demos,' or public). All but one of these forms of government are Greek ideas, with Greek names which have been handed down to the present day.
By 500 B.C. towns such as Athens, Sparta and Corinth were experiencing the growth of industry. The slave system -- which was in use all through these early times -- was increasing, and in time there were five or six slaves to very free man. Their condition was not unhappy. They did all the handwork and housework, and much of the teaching, while their owners went to pubic meetings, to the theater, or to the schools of physical training.
It is interesting to see how important the olive was, then as now, in Greece. This evergreen tree, with its narrow leaves and small, bitter stone-fruit, was valued by the Greeks from the earliest times. A circle of olive leaves placed on the head was the greatest reward given in the Olympic competitions. Olive oil was used in a great number of different ways in the house. "It was used for cooking, for washing, and for lighting." Even today no one in Greece (outside the great hotels in Athens) gets butter ; bread and olives, or bread and goat's cheese, are their 'bread and butter.' Herodotus gives a very detailed account of what to him was the uncommon process of butter-making or, in his words, 'cow-cheese-making.' Oil is still used in almost every form of cooking, and no Greek cook would be able to do much without it. Further, the Greeks had no soap for washing, but in place of that, made use of oil for rubbing their bodies, and if that wasn't enough, they put sweet-smelling substance with it. And last, if they were up after sun-down (which they were much less commonly then we are) they had no other light than burning oil or wood. This is the reason for the great number of oil vessels in every museum of early Greece. The wise housekeeper made use of a different quality of oil for every one of these purposes. The olives were crushed in machines three times ; first, oil for food was produced, then oil for the body, then oil for burning, and after that the rest of the fruit -- skins and all -- was used for fires.*
In the pubic existence of every free Greek the theatre was no less important than the selection of government representatives and the political meetings. The theater is a Greek invention, and most of the words used in connection with it come from the Greek. At first a Greek theater was nothing more than a grass circle (the 'orchestra') open to the sky, in which the chorus gave dances and songs to the god of wine. Round part of the orchestra there were seats for the onlookers, forming a half-circle ; at the side of it there was a rough building for the use of the actors, and the stage was a later development from this structure.
It is not surprising that the free Greeks came tot he theater in thousands to see the play named The Persians, by Aeschylus, which gives the story of their great fight against Persia. Aeschylus himself had taken part in the war.
Here are some lines form the play which will give an idea of its substance and structure though not of its form, which was very beautiful verse. Atossa, the Queen of Darius, is questioning the Persians about Athens before the fight at Marathon, and the chorus is answering her :
* - The substance of this account of the uses of oil is taken from Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth.
Atossa . Say, Persians, if you may, where on Earth's wide space is Athens ?
Chorus . There, where our chief, the Sun-god, goes slowly down, far away.
Atossa . Why had my son such a great desire for power over Athens ?
Chorus . All parts of Hellas would then be under his rule
Atossa . Does Athens keep ever ready such a great army ?
Chorus . Such an army, of whose great fighters Persia has bitter memories.
Atossa . And in addition to their fighters, have they money enough to store ?
Chorus . Yes, a mine of silver have they in their land.
Atossa . Is it because they are such strong archers that they are so much to be feared ?
Chorus . Not strong archers only, but expert, and good spearmen fighting in line.
Atossa . Say, what ruler gives them orders ? Who is their army's king and chief ?
Chorus . They are under no chief or ruler, they take orders from no men.
Atossa . Then they have no chance against us, a strange attacking force.
Chorus . They overcame the army of Darius, great in number though it was.
Atossa . Words of fear for all mothers of our fighters far away.
Athens in her greatest days
The most noted Athenian politically was Pericles (495-429 B.C.,). After the Persian wars Pericles put up some of the most beautiful building ever seen, in place of those which had been burned down by the Persians. On the Acropolis he put the Parthenon, the temple of Athena, made of polished stone. It was ornamented with forms and pictures by the great worker in stone, Pheidias, who made for it, among other things, a most beautiful Athena in gold and bone. The roof was supported by Doric columns, the oldest, simplest, and strongest of the three sorts of Greek column. Near by, at the foot of the Acropolis, was the theater where the free Greeks came to see the plays of the Greek writers -- among the greatest verse-writers of all time.
Pericles, in a noted talk recording the great acts of a dead man, said these words about Athens ; "We are lovers of the beautiful, but we are simple in our tastes, and we give attention to things of the mind without any loss of the qualities which make us men. We make use of money, not for talk and unnecessary ornament, but when there is a true need for it. Among us it is no shame to say that one is poor ; the true shame is in doing nothing to put an end to that condition. A free Athenian does not give up his interest in public work because he has a house and family to take care of ; and even those of us who are business-men are politically-minded. It is only in our society that the man with no interest in pubic events is looked on, not as bad but as of no value ; and though only a small number of us have the power of guiding political developments, we are all good judges of political undertakings . . . because we are specially given to reasoning before acting."
Under Pericles Athens became a new and very beautiful town, and the meeting-place of the greatest men of letters, art, and science. It came to be, as he said, "the school of Greece."
In the streets of Athens the greatest of all Greeks, Socrates, went about teaching. He was a poor man, the son of a stone-cutter. By his questioning of all things he did his best to make a wiser person of the man in the street, because it is those living in a country who make it great. But his questions gave his hearers doubts about a great number of important things, even about the old Greek gods. So Socrates was taken before the judges and put to death by the Law of Athens. The story of his death (399 B.C.) is given by Plato, the greatest of those whose teacher he was. When Socrates was answering his judges he said that a man who was good for anything would not let the fear of death have any effect on his behavior. The only question he had to put to himself was, "Am I doing right or wrong -- acting the part of a good man or a bad ?"
The writings of Plato, whose teacher was Socrates, and those of Aristotle, whose teacher was Plato, still give us the wisest answers to some of the most important questions of existence.
If only Athens and Sparta had been able to come to an agreement after getting the better of the Persians, it would have been a great thing for Greece. But the Athenians were lovers of the beautiful, with a strong desire to be free ; the Spartans, on the other hand, had no respect for the arts, and their society was a military organization in which training in arms was the most important thing, and every man did as he was ordered. They were bitter against Athens, because her ships had control of the seas and she had kept together an organization of towns after the Persian wars. In a short time this organization became an Empire which was taxed by Athens. High walls were put up round the town, watched by the angry eyes of the Spartans.
After that came a most unhappy thirty years' war between the two towns, marked by very bitter feeling, and ending only when Athens was completely crushed. In the third year the Athenians were attacked by a disease which was responsible for the death of more than half their number. Some time later, after much violent argument and discussion. Athens took the unwise step of sending a force against a noted Greek colony in Sicily, Syracuse. And there, in the stone-mines, the flower of the young Athenians went to their death.
The power of Athens was broken. First Sparta, and then Thebes, became the most important of the Greek towns. But the great Athens of the past still went on living in its university, the first of all universities.
Greek art, Greek science, Greek thought in almost every branch of knowledge, were to be the highwater-mark of European development for hundreds of years. Greece became the teacher of all Europe, and even today we are still learning from here. In power of thought and harmony of language the old Greek writings are equal to, if not better than, the best of later times, and it is still to them that we go for the clearest and most beautiful statement of some of the great questions by which man is troubled.
"As the flowers are the ornament of the earth, and the stars of the sky,
so Athens is the ornament of Greece, and Greece of the earth."
Alexander the Great
The war with Sparta had put an end to the great days of Athens. When peace was made the mountain nation of Macedon, north of Greece, was ruled by an able king named Philip. Disgusted with the unending fighting among the Greek towns, he made up his mind to get Greece united under himself and then to overcome the old danger, Persia.
But his work was cut short by his sudden and violent death, and the undertaking was handed down to his son, Alexander the Great, whose teacher was Aristotle. Alexander was one of the greatest military chiefs in history, and one of the greatest Empire-builders. By a number of wars, stretching over seven years, he got control of a great Empire, crushing Phoenicia, which had long been in competition with Greece, overcoming Egypt, and forcing his way across Asia till he came to the Indus. The old ideas of the earth and the men living on it were greatly changed by these journeys of Alexander. Up to this time the countries round the Mediterranean had been looked on as 'the world' -- as all man's earth -- but now men became awake to the fact that this was only part of a greater 'world' stretching away on all sides.
But Alexander was much more than a fighter. Wherever he went he put up Greek towns and made Greek ideas current, so that all the East, as far as the Indus, became one family of nations with a common language -- Greek. He did all this while he was still a young man ; he was only thirty-three at the time of his death, which took place in the great house of Hammurabi in Babylon (328 B.C.).
Plutarch, the writer of a number of books about noted Greeks and Romans, gives some interesting stories about Alexander's good sense. At one time he went to see a wise man named Diogenes, whose teaching was that the way to be happy was to have as little as possible. Diogenes was stretched out having as sun-bath. When he saw the group of men coming in his direction, lifting himself a little, he gave Alexander a long look. Alexander, with great respect, said to him, "Is there anything of which you have need?" "Yes," said he, "there is -- of your getting out of my sun a little." Alexander was so pleased with this answer, and so surprised that Diogenes had no fear of him, that he said, "Say whatever you have a mind to ; truly, if I was not Alexander I would be happy to be Diogenes."
At another time and place they put a small chest in front of Alexander, which was said to be the most beautiful and to have the greatest value of all the things which wee taken after the fall of Darius. When he saw it he said to his friends, "What is the best thing to do with it?" Some said one thing and some said another, but Alexander said he would put Homer's Iliad into it as the thing having most right to be so housed.
After Alexander's death the great Empire was broken up among his military chiefs. One of them became King of Egypt and made the noted Museum of Alexandria (the town named after Alexander). The museum was a great library and university whose men from all over the earth came to the great teachers, such as Euclid, the writer on geometry.
In this way Greek ideas and Greek towns were still important. Greece had become the teacher of the East. And when the Romans overcame Greece and the East two hundred years later they took its art and learning back again to the west, even as far as Britain.
Where the Romans went there went with them, in time, a number of the religions of the East, among them the new Christian Church, at first the least, but in the end the greatest of them all. So the Old Testament of the Jews and the later New Testament of the Christians in Greek became the books from which first all Europe, and then America and other parts of the earth, took their religion.
Stories of early Rome
When the Greeks sent out their colonies to make new towns in the south of Italy,they came across another Indo-European group. This was the Latins, or men of Latium, whose chief town was Rome. In time this little nation made the great Roman Empire, and went on with the work of the Greeks by planting art ad learning to all parts of that Empire.
There were other peoples in Italy in addition to the Latins -- for example, in the north were the Etruscans, who had come from Asia ; in the mountains were the Sabines, and so on. Rome was at first a small town near the mouth of the river Tiber, circled by its 'Seven Hills,' which kept it sage from attacks. When the town became greater, walls were put up round these slopes. The old story give the year of the building of Rome as 735 B.C., about twenty years after the first Olympic competition in Greece. It was named after Romulus, who, with his brother Remus, it was said, had been ordered to put to death at birth. The two babies were placed in a basket on the Tiber, but the river came up over its sides and sent the basket to the land. There a she-wolf, like the one in the picture, came across the brothers, took them to her hole, and gave them milk, and so they safe. When they were men, Romulus put Remus to death and became the first King of Rome.
For the first two hundred and fifty years of its history the little town of Rome was ruled by Kings. The rule of the seventh king, Tarquin, was bad and cruel, and at last the Romans got an army together and put him to flight. Tarquin went to the Etruscans for help, and came back with a great force to take Rome. Only the narrow bridge of wood over the Tiber was between him and the town when, in this hour of danger, Horatius came forward, and by one of the great acts of history kept his country safe. Taking up his position at the outer end of the bridge with two other men, he kept the attacking army off while the Romans were cutting the bridge down. When the last support was giving way, his two helpers went running back across the falling bridge, but Horatius kept his place till the destruction was complete. Then jumping into the water, he sent up a cry for help to the god of the river : "Oh ! Father Tiber, have me in your care this day," and swimming the current, with the Etruscan arrows falling all round him, he got safely to the other side.
Their early history put the Romans against Kings, and they had no love for them ever after. In 508 B.C. Rome became a 'republic,' a town without a King, and this was its form of government for five hundred years. Every year selection was made of two 'consuls' to be at the head of the government in place of a King. The ruling body was the 'Senate,' which was made up of representatives of the great families of Rome. When they went to the meetings of the senate they put on the 'toga,' a loose dress made of wool, hanging in beautiful folds round the body, which was used only by those having full political rights.
For some years there were bitter arguments between the 'Patricians,'or those of high birth, and the 'Plebs,' or common men. In time, however, the Plebs were given certain rights, and not long after the republic was started they had two representatives (493 B.C.) whose work it was to take care of their interests.
But though there were divisions among them, all free Romans were united in support of the republic in times of danger. This is well seen in the story of Cincinnatus. While he was consul his son, who had been sent away from Rome for certain crimes, came back against orders with his friends, and the Romans put them all to death. Sad at heart, at the end of his year as consul Cincinnatus went back to his farm, and took no further part in political work. A short time later, Roman lands were attacked by the Aequians, a near-by group, and when the Roman army went out against them, it was cut off between two mountains, and only five Roman horsemen got away to give the news of its danger to the Senate. "There is only one man with the power to keep Rome safe," they said. "Our one chance is to make Cincinnatus Dictator-- give him complete control of Rome."
Cincinnatus was a hardworking man of simple tastes who had no desire for money, and he was living quietly on his small farm near the river Tiber. In the early morning the Senate sent their representatives to him with the news that he was to be made Dictator. They went across the river and came to his house, and there they saw him, without his toga, working with his spade in the fields.
They made him a sign of respect, and said, "We have news for you from the Senate. Put on your toga so that you may be rightly clothed for hearing it." Then he said, "Is Rome in Trouble?" and sent for his toga. When he had put it on he went to the representatives, who said "We are your servants ! The Senate has made you Dictator, and sends for you to come to Rome ; the consul and the army are in very great danger."
A boat was made ready to take him over the Tiber, and when he came to Rome his three sons, all his relations and friends, and most of the Senate were there waiting for him. He was taken through the streets to his house like a King, with twenty-four 'lictors,' or men armed with rods, walking before him. The public was there in thousands to see him, but they went in fear of the lictors, because their rods were a sign that the power of the Dictator was as great as that of the early Kings.
First Cincinnatus went to the market-place and gave orders that all stores were to be shut, and all law processes stopped, and that no private business was to be done till the consul and his army were safe. Then he went out at the head of the forces to give help to the consul, and the day after he was back again, having overcome the Aequians and got the army out.
By order of the Senate he came into Rome, driving in his 'chariot,' or two-wheeled carriage,with the Acquian chiefs in chains in front of him. Before him went the flags, and after him came his men, with all they had taken in the fight. There were tables at the door of every house with meat and drink for the army, and everyone took part in a great meal and went after the chariot with dancing and songs.
Such is the great and simple story as it is given by the early writers on Roman history.
The old stories of Horatius and Cincinnatus and other early Romans gives a clear picture of the sort of men these free Roman farmers were, and of the qualities which were most valued by them. To get their approval a man had to be responsible,to have a respect for religion and for the ways of his fathers, and to see facts clearly and keep in touch with them.
When Cincinnatus had something to say to the Roman public, he went --- as Pericles did in Athens -- to the market-place, or 'Forum.' At one end of the Roman Forum there was a railed-off space where open-air political meeting took place and all sorts of business was done. In time the forum was increased in size and beautiful works of art were placed in it. Round it great public buildings were put up -- government and law buildings, temples, and wide walks with roofs supported by stone columns where traders and bankers had their offices. For a thousand years the Forum was the heart of Rome and Rome was the heart of the greatest Empire there had ever been.
The Roman farmers were the best trained fighters in history. By degrees they overcame the country round them till they were in complete control of Italy south of the Arno. In war the chief care of the Roman army was to keep safe, at whatever price, their flag, the Roman 'Eagle" -- so named because on the top of the flag-stick was an eagle in gold or silver.
Like that great bird, her desire was to go ever higher, but it was in the early years that the seeds of her great future were planted. It is in the stories of those years that we see most clearly the qualities which made her what she was.
They are stories of men who put their country before everything ; men whose desire to do right was stronger than fear of death or love of family. The Romans were straightforward men not given to deep and complex reasoning like the Greeks, but seeing clearly what they had to do, and not to be turned from it by any thought of profit for themselves. These qualities made them great in war, wise in peace, and strong in the hour of danger.
How Hannibal came over the Alps
Across the Mediterranean, in North Africa, Carthage, an old Phoenician colony, was an important town even before Rome became a republic. This daughter of Tyre and Sidon as like a town of the East. It was ruled by a small number of men (an 'oligarchy'), and its money was made in trade and farming, based on the work of slaves.
Not long after Rome had become the head of Italy she went to war with Carthage, which, by this time, had a great number of ships, a number of colonies, and a great trade. The two towns came into violent competition for control of the Mediterranean. so bitter were they with one another that there is a story of how Hamilcar of Carthage, on one of his journeys into Spain, took with him his little son Hannibal and made him give his word to the gods in the temple there that he would never be turned from his hate of Rome.
Between 264 and 146 B.C. there were three wars between the two towns. At first Carthage had greater power on the sea, but by the end of the first war the Romans had become expert at sea-fighting and had got control of the Mediterranean. So that when Hannibal became head of the army, and true to his word as a boy, undertook to put an end to the great town across the sea, the only way open to him was by land.
In five months Hannibal had overcome Spain, got across the Pyrenees, made his way through Gaul, and was on the other side of the Rhone. He took with him a number of elephants, and these great strange animals put fear into all who came against him. They were of much use later in the fighting the Roman horsemen, because horses have a special fear of elephants. Livy, the Roman writer of history, says that Hannibal was never tired in body or mind. No work, however hard, had any effect on him. He was able to put up with the bitterest cold or the most burning heat, and he took no more food than was necessary. His rest was not taken on a soft bed or in a quiet place ; he was frequently seen sleeping on the earth covered with his military coat, among those stationed to keep watch. His clothing was never better than that of his men. He was the first into the fight, and the last off the field when the fighting was over.
His journey across the high Alps with his great army and fifty-eight elephants was one of the most surprising events in history. On the ninth day, says Livy, he got to the very top of the mountains. When the sun came up in the morning the flags were sent to the front, and the army went on slowly after them through the deep snow. Then Hannibal, going before the flags, gave orders to his men to come to a stop at a certain place from which it was possible to see over a great distance. Pointing to Italy and the fertile fields of the Po at the foot of the Alps, he said that they were going over the walls, not only of Italy, but of Rome. After, at most, one or two fights, you will be in control of the chief town of all Italy.
While Hannibal was going through Gaul he became friends with the men of that country, and when he came into North Italy he was joined by other Gauls, who were farmers there. When the news of Hannibal's journey got to Rome, the Romans got two armies together and sent one against him and one to Carthage. But the army in Italy was overcome by Hannibal so the other one was quickly ordered back to Rome. This, again, was overcome, and North Italy was now completely in Hannibal's hands.
Hannibal in Italy
A year later two new armies were sent out, but Hannibal came over the Apennines and again got the better of the Romans. The year after that, the Roman armies were again completely crushed at Cannae (216 B.C.), which gave the Carthaginians control of South Italy. But in the face of this blow the Roman senate kept its head, and its behavior was never truer to the great qualities of the nation. What took place after the Roman armies were overcome is best given in the words of Livy himself.
The news came that the two consuls were dead, with every man in the army. Never before, while the town itself was still safe, had there been such uncontrolled fear inside the Roman walls. Then there suggestions were made in the Senate :
"Let us send good horsemen to the Appian and the Latin Way to put questions to everyone they come across -- some of the army will certainly have got away into the countryside --and come back with news of the consuls and their armies. If the gods still have any care for us, and if the name of Rome still has any power, we will be able to get news of where the rest of the forces are, of where Hannibal went after the fight, of what he is doing, and of what he seems about to do. Let the young and strong be sent off on this work.
"The number of judges is so small that we of the Senate will have to be responsible for order in the town ; it is for us to put an end to the condition of fear and doubt, to get the women out of the streets and into their houses, to put a stop to the outcries of the slaves, and to get everything quiet. Let us put men on watch to keep anyone from getting out, and to make everyone see that his only hope is to keep inside the town and its walls. When all is quiet let us have another meeting in the Senate-house to see what is to be done to keep the attacking armies out."
When the details of the losses went round, so great was the number of the dead that the day of Ceres, 'mother of the grain,' was not kept, because no house where there was death might take part in it, and there were not enough families to do so.
Then the prisoners taken by the Carthaginians were sent in by Hannibal with an offer to let them go on payment of a certain amount. They came before the Senate in hope and fear, and the chief of them said ; "Men of the Senate, it is common knowledge that our country, even more than any other, is against taking back prisoners of war. But we did not give up in the middle of the fight. We went on fighting, with the dead under our feet, almost till nightfall, and then we went back to cover. There, tired out by fighting and wounds, for the rest of the day and night we kept off the attackers. In the morning, with Hannibal's army all round us, cut off from water, and without any hope of getting through the forces in front of us, we said to ourselves, 'It is only right for some Romans to come back from the field of Cannae, where fifty thousand of our friends have gone to their death.'
"And it is recorded in history that our fathers were taken back from the Gauls for gold, and that your fathers -- though strongly against making peace -- at one time gave money in exchange for prisoners of war. In our new army you have had to take old men and young from every level of society ; it is said that eight thousand slaves are being armed. Our numbers are as great as theirs, and Hannibal's price for us will not be more than their market-price ; I will make no comparison between them and us as fighters, because the name of 'Roman' would only be shamed by doing so. If you saw the chains and the unhappy condition of your brother Romans, you would be as much moved as by seeing your armies dead on the field of Cannae. In the outer rooms of the Senate are our poor families, waiting with wet eyes and hearts full of fear for your answer."
When he had done, the men and women waiting outside sent up a loud cry, stretching out their hands o the Senate for their sons, brothers, and the relations. There were women among the men in the Forum, who had been unable to keep away in their fear and need. Orders were given for the onlookers to be sent out of the Senate, and a discussion then took place. When the decision was at last made public that the prisoners would not be taken back, their relations, crying bitterly, went with them as far as the walls of the town.
But in all these troubles there was nothing said in Rome about peace. Belief in themselves was still so strong in the Romans that when the consul who was chiefly responsible for the destruction of the army came back, thousands of men of every sort and condition were out to see him, and he was made much of "for not having given up hope of the republic."
There were no more great fights between Hannibal and the Romans after Cannae, though Hannibal was still in Italy, not far from Rome, for some years. At last another Roman force was sent against Carthage, and Hannibal was ordered by the Carthaginians to come back. In the end his army was overcome near Carthage by Scipio, with such losses that Carthage was forced to make peace on Rome's conditions. But Scipio himself said that it was not Rome which was responsible for Hannibal's fall, but the Carthaginian Senate and traders, by whom he was hated and feared because of his great power over the army. These same countrymen, with no memory of all he had done for Carthage, later had him put out of his country. He went to the East, where he gave his help to the King of Syria in his war against Rome. When this came to nothing, he got away to the King of another part of Alexander's Empire, Bithynia, and there at last the great fighter came to his end by taking poison when he was about to be given up to the Romans.
Broken though the power of Carthage now was, the hate of Rome for that unhappy own was as strong as ever. For years Cato the Censor 1 never gave his opinion in the Senate on any question whatever without ending with the words "Delenda est Carthago." 2 And in 146 B.C. the haters of Carthage got their desire -- the town was taken and burned with everything in it, and for more than thirty years its place was marked only broken stones.
1 . The Roman Censor's business was to keep a list of those living in Roman, and to put a stop to anything which might have a bad effect on the republic.
2 . "The destruction of Carthage is necessary."
Changes in Romes
By 254 B.C. Rome was in control of all Italy and had the support of the Italians in her wars. Then came a hundred years (264-164 B.C.) of fighting outside Italy, in which Rome became ruler of the Mediterranean.
While Rome was at war with Carthage, her armies were not only fighting in the west and on the sea, but in the east. The King of Macedon had become a supporter of Hannibal, so Rome now overcame Macedon (198 B.C.). In the year of the fall of Carthage, the greatest trading town in completion with her in the west, Rome put an end to Corinth, the chief Greek trading town in the East (146 B.C.). And in a short time, in part by wise agreements and in part by force of arms, she had control of all Alexander's old Empire. The one-time small town on the Tiber was now the head of a great Empire, covering the old East and the newer West.
These wars, like all wars, were the cause of much which was bad, and the qualities which have made Rome great were sadly undermined by them. After the wars there were violent political troubles ending in the downfall of the Roman Republic, and the change to an Empire ruled by one man.
The never-ending fighting had made it impossible for the independent Roman farmer, working his land himself, like Cincinnatus in early Rome history, to get a living. One by one the small farms went out of existence and their places were taken by great properties, worked by slaves whose owners had made money out of the wars.
Outside Rome there was much bad feeling among her Italian supporters. Though they had not been crushed, they had never been given full political rights in Rome, and they were unable to take positions of authority. Outside Italy, great countries like Sicily and Spain were taken as Roman property, and the government of these places was very poor. And outside the Empire there were the 'barbarians,' rough fighters at a lower stage of development, who were now the same danger to the Roman Empire as the earliest Greeks had been to the Aegean towns.
The Roman Senate itself, which had done such great things after Cannae, in time came to be formed of men who had only their private interests at heart, fighting for money and power. After the destruction of Carthage there was a bitter fight between the Senate and the free Romans, and this was the start of a hundred years of violent acts, sudden deaths, mass-rule, and war between different groups (133-31 B.C.).
The cause of the Plebs was taken up by Tiberius and Caius Gracchus ('the Gracchi'), sons of the Scipio who overcame Carthage. The purpose of the brothers was to get a more equal distribution of land among the public and make Rome a nation of small farmers again. Tiberius was made the representative of the common men (133 B.C.), and he gave them a sense of their wrongs. But it was not long before he was put to death by an angry group of Patricians fearing for their special rights and their money. Then his brother Caius made an attempt to give the Italian towns a voice in the government but like Tiberius he came to a violent end before he had got very far.
The Plebs now went over to a military chief, Marius. This was the start of that long fight for power between army chiefs, which at last put an end to the free republic and gave Rome a one-man government. By this time German and Gallic barbarians were forcing a way into the Empire. For a time they were crushed by Marius (102 B.C.). But he was unable to make the government of Rome any better.
Then came a war between Rome and her Italian supporters, who at last got a voice in the government. The size of the Empire was, in fact now so great that it was no longer possible for it to be ruled by the free Romans in the old way.
Another military chief, Sulla, overcame the army of the Plebs and made himself Dictator. After his death one of the men under him, Pompey, took the chief power (70 B.C.). Pompey did a great work in putting down the outlaws of the sea who made attacks on vessels and then got away to their secret places in the mountains of Asia Minor. After this he took Jerusalem (63 B.C.), overcame all the countries as far as the Euphrates, and made towns as Alexander had done before him.
Julius Caesar goes across the Rubicon
The person who came to power after Pompey is one of the greatest men in military history. This was Julius Caesar, Pompey's father-in-law and the son of Marius's brother.
His family was one of the oldest in Rome, and was said to have come down from Aeneas of the Illiad and the early Roman kings. As a boy and young man he had had the normal education of a man of good family. He had had a taste of the pleasures of society, and had put on the air of a man of letters and made verses when he had nothing better to do. He had a complete knowledge of all the airs of dress, and had become expert in the even more complex art of getting money from his friends and never giving it back.
At fighting and on horseback he was as good as any of his men, and his swimming kept him from death at Alexandria. The rate at which he made his journeys, generally at night because it was quicker, was not least among the reasons why he did so well. The mind was like the body. His memory was without equal and it was no trouble for him to do two or three things at the same time. Though he was a man of force and decision, and a great fighter, he was not without softer feelings. To the end of his days he had the deepest respect for his mother (his father's death having taken place when he was quite young) ; and to the women of his family, specially his daughter, he gave a loving care.
Julius Caesar had been in the army in Asia and had been rewarded for his good work. He had made a great name as a public talker when attacking the self-interest of one of the Roman rulers. And these were the days of great talkers ; Cicero, the greatest of them all, was then living, and moving all men by his words. Caesar was at one time taken by outlaws at sea, and he gave his word then that one day he would make them prisoners and have them put to death -- and he did. He was given all the great positions in Rome, one after the other.
But he saw that he would not get the chief power without an army, and his great chance now came in the West, as Pompey's had done in the East. The Gauls, a barbarian nation, part of which had come across the Alps and been living about the river Po for more than three hundred years, were giving trouble in the North. So Caesar got a law put into force which made him the ruler of Gaul on the two sides of the Alps.
In eight years (58-50 B.C.) Caesar overcame the part of Gaul which was not under Roman rule (that is, 'Transalpine' Gaul, on the farther side of the Alps) from the Atlantic to the Rhine, and twice went to Britain. And so the great country which is now France and Belgium became part of the Roman Empire, and to this day the art and learning of Gaul (or France) is clearly Latin in quality. Schoolboys doing Latin still make use of Caesar's books about the wars in Gaul and with the Britons across the English Channel.
Pompey, however, who was at the head of the Senate's armies, saw with angry eyes his father-in-law's increasing power. So he got the Senate to give orders that if Caesar's great army was not broken up he would be made an outlaw. But Caesar said "No," and took the great step of coming across the Rubicon, the little river separating his country, Gaul, from the road to Rome. After that there was no going back ; it was war. but the Romans were on Caesar's side, and all Rome was open to him. Pompey got out of Rome as quickly as possible, and Caesar was made Consul (49 B. C.). Then he overcame Pompey's army in Spain, and the war was moved to Greece, where Pompey was again crushed. Pompey himself got away to Egypt, and there he was put to death by a trick.
In three years Caesar had made himself ruler of all the countries round the Mediterranean. In Egypt he went to see the beautiful Cleopatra, the last of the Greek rulers in Egypt after the end of Alexander's Empire. While he was there a mass attack was made on him and the great library in Alexandria was burned. It was from Asia Minor that he sent his noted letter to the Senate : "I came, I saw, I overcame" (Veni, vidi vici).
And so Caesar became, in fact, the first head of the Roman Empire. He had the best interests of his country at heart, and there is little doubt that he would have been a strong and wise ruler, but his time was cut short. He was offered the name of King, and though he would not take it, he was put to death on the 'Ides' (15th) of March, 44 B.C., by Brutus, Cassius, and the others in their hate and fear of the name and power of Kings. With his death came to an end the long line of Romans who, from the Gracchi down to Caesar had made the greater good of Rome their dearest desire.
The Roman Empire
The old Republic of Rome and its Senate, which was no longer the living force it had been in the early days, had not been equal to the great work of ruling the ever-increasing Empire. At the time of his death Julius Caesar, wisest and most far-seeing of all the Romans, was forming great designs for its better organization and government. It was his hope, as it had been that of Alexander before him, to get East and West united from India to the Atlantic.
Brutus and Cassius, and other lovers of their country such as Cicero, had been attempting to get back the old Republic. But they were on the wrong road. The great qualities of the early Romans had been crushed out in the never-ending wars, and the Roman public was now no longer responsible enough to take on the government of an Empire. After the death of Julius Caesar there were fourteen more years of war between different groups in Rome. At last these trouble came to an end (31 B.C.) when Octavious, a younger relation of Caesar's, made himself Augustus, the 'all-highest,' and Princeps, 'the first' among the free men of Rome. He was, in fact, the first 'Emperor,' or King of the Empire, though the hated name of King itself was not used.
And so the outcome of a hundred years of bitter war and violent change (133-131 B.C.) was the rule of one man -- as in the early East. And under this system the Roman Empire went on, though slowly changing for the worse after the first two hundred years, for more than five hundred years.
The rule of Augustus (31 B.C.-A.D. 14) was the start of two hundred years of peace and development -- the Pax Romana, or 'Roman Peace." It was the time of the greatest Latin writers -- Livy, the writer of history, and Virgil and Horace, the writers of verse ; and it was while Augustus was in power that, in a small country in the east of the Empire, the birth of Jesus took place.
Of all the countries of the Empire, Spain, from 200 B.C., had been the most Roman. Thousand of Spaniards went into the Roman armies, and these were given political rights at Rome. some of its greatest towns were started in Roman times -- for example, Seville, Toledo, and Lisbon.
Gaul was another part of the Empire which was completely Roman in language and ways of living, and nowhere were conditions better. At Nismes we may still see the beautiful Roman bridge and waterway (put up about A.D. 20), which took clean drinking-water to the Romans in the town. The noted town of Lyons (Lugdunum) was the meeting-place of a number of roads, and for three hundred years it was the chief town of Roman Gaul, and the seat of the religion of the 'Druids,' the old religion of the country.
In Britain there were Roman towns at Chester, Caerleon, York, Silchester, and Colchester, to which the Emperor Claudius went. Between A.D. 43 and 51 all South Britain had come into Roman hands, and a great British chief, Caractacus, had been sent in chains to Rome itself.
In museums and other places, all over the west of Europe, there may still be seen things used every day by men living in the Roman Empire -- the workmen's instruments, the pots and vessels, the knives and blades, and even the playthings of the young and the needles of the women.
In Italy, Rome itself was greatly changed by Augustus. When he came to it, he said it was a town of brick, and he made it a town of polished stone. Across the old market-place was the new Senate-house designed by Caesar. High up in the distance, was the Capitol, with the Temple of Jove on the land sloping down from it, and the Temple of Concord (or Harmony) at its foot. Augustus's time saw the building of the first great public baths and of the Pantheon, or House of all the Gods, with its great round roof -- the oldest building which is still to be seen complete in Rome today . The Colosseum came later (about A.D. 80). In this way Augustus and those who came after him, profiting by the example of Pericles, who made Athens the ornament of Greece, made Rome as beautiful as it was great.
Inside the limits of the Empire, the Pax Romana was complete. For the first two hundred years after the birth of Jesus there was peace and order without parallel in history.
It was not, as in the old Empires of Asia, a peace of fear, with crushed and bitter men kept under by an iron hand, and only waiting their chance to make trouble. Everywhere the rule of Rome was unquestioned, everywhere her laws were kept without protest, as a natural thing, and no force was needed to keep the Empire together. The nations which had been overcome took their places as part of the greater nation, and gave up the hope, and even the desire, of becoming independent again. The authority of the Emperors was as great in Britain or Egypt as in Rome itself. In this condition of general harmony, ruler and ruled were free to give of their best to the development of the Empire, and it was a time of great works in every field.
Wherever the Roman rule went, there were Romans living. All the Roman towns had certain things in common -- baths, works for coloring cloth, a market-place or forum, and town-buildings where the general public business was done ; Roman temples and , possibly, an early Christian church ; an open-air theater, sometimes with enough seating for ten thousand. Here the public came to see competitions and fights between men and animals. Cruel amusements these were, and the pleasure taken by the Romans, even the women, in seeing wounds and death is to us very shocking. but they were a hard nation, trained from earliest times to make little of pain and danger, and this quality, great at its best, may well have taken the form, in lower men, of an unnatural taste for blood.
In their houses the Romans gave an example which is still without equal in the West. There have never been more beautiful buildings for living purposes than the town and country houses of the Romans. In the middle was an open space with gardens, ornamented with works of art and with water playing into stone basins. Round it there were columns supporting a roof, with all the chief rooms, the library and the bedrooms and the rooms for meals, opening out onto the garden. If the owner of the house was a man of money he would have his floors made of small colored stones from the East, worked into complex designs ; there would be soft, thick hangings, pipes for running water, warm and cold baths, beautiful bronze cooking vessels, and a great number of slaves to do everything for him and his family.
Joining the towns were the great, straight roads made by engineers of the Roman army -- like Watling Street in England, and the Appian Way in Italy. There were no better roads in existence till the eighteen hundreds, and journeys were never so quick again till the coming of the railways. These great roads were used by the Roman armies with their trains of carts, and by all the traders. The meetings of the roads were natural stopping-places, which in time became towns.
At the outer limits of the Empire, Roman armies were stationed to keep watch -- on th Rhine, on the Danube, on the Euphrates, and in Britain at the noted wall put up between Solway and Tyne by the Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 120). On these fronts wars were frequent, and the men who were sent out there to keep the Empire safe saw hard fighting.
The development of the Christian Church
It was in the Roman Empire that the Christian Church came into being. The great story is given in the New Testament. Christ was teaching in Palestine about A.D. 33, and in the twenty-five years after his death, while the Roman armies were in control of Britain, Saint Paul and others went about in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome itself, taking the words of Christ from place to place.
But the early Church quickly got into trouble with the Roman Empire. The Christians would not make offerings to Caesar as a god, and they would not go into the army. For these and other reasons cruel things were done to them from time to time -- under Nero (64-68), Domitian (95), Trajan (106), Marcus Aurelius, himself one of the best men (165-177), and last, under Diocletian (303). There is a letter to the Emperor Trajan from Pliny the Younger, when he was ruler of one of the divisions of the Empire, which gives some idea of these early Christians and what they had to put up with.
"What I have done with the men coming before me as Christians is this. I said to them : Are you a Christian ?" ; if they said 'Yes,' I put the same question twice more, pointing out what would be done to them if they made the same answer ; and if they said 'Yes' I gave orders for their punishment. They say that their only crime is to come together on a certain day before it is light and to say a 'prayer' to Christ, requesting his help and giving him an undertaking, not for the purpose of any crime, but simply never to do anything false or take another man's property secretly, never to go back on their word, or make any attempt to keep what has been given into their care. And after this, they say, they go their separate ways and then come together later for a meal, but with no bad design."
But two hundred years after Trajan, the Romans themselves were turning to the Christian Church. The Emperor Constantine became the first Christian Emperor at York in 313, and from that time the Christian religion had the support of the law. Constantine gave orders for representatives of all the churches in the Roman Empire to come to a meeting at Nicaea in 325, and there a short statement of the chief points of Christian belief was framed -- the 'Nicen Creed.'
The growth of the Christian Church -- till at last its power was greater than that of the Roman Empire itself -- is one of the most surprising things recorded in history.
But by this time the best days of the Empire were over. Constantine made the old Greek Byzantium his new seat of government, naming it after himself, Constantinople. From this it is clear that the Empire was no longer united in Rome, as it had been ; the East was, in fact, pulling away from the West, and it was not long before the division was complete and there were two Empires. The Empire of the East went on under its Emperors at Constantinople for hundreds of years after the Empire of the West had become only a name, but its rule had little in common with the old rule of Rome.
There are a number of causes for the fall of the Roman Empire, not the least of which was the ever-increasing and unhealthy use of slaves. Only the Christian Church said that all men are equal, emperor and slave. Another great cause was the attacks of the barbarians on the edges of the Empire. For a long time great numbers of these barbarians had been coming into the Empire and going into the army. Now, in the third and fourth hundred years after Christ, they were thundering at the doors, ready to come bursting through and take all before them.
So important to all later history was that of Rome, that it will be well to take a look back over what we have been learning.
First, the free farmers in a small town on the Tiber got control of the land round the town itself ; then they overcame those living in the flat country near by ; and then those in the Italian mountains. All these nations were kept united to Rome by the roads she made, the laws and language she gave them, and the Roman colonies which she sent out among them.
Rome was now strong enough to undertake a war to the death against Carthage, the great trading town across the Mediterranean, whose chief, Hannibal, was one of the greatest men military history.
After Carthage had been overcome, one by one all the old nations round the Mediterranean were taken into the Empire of Rome ; and all the lands south of the Danube ; and all the countries of the West as far as Britain -- the edge of the world as it seemed at that time.
All these very different nations were joined together by her under one rule and one law, with one great network of roads going into the farthest places of the Empire.
And it was in this Empire, in the old Judea of the Jews, that the birth of another King took place, whose teaching was the greatest of all laws --- the new law of love. Men were slow in learning this new law, and for a long time they were very cruel to the Christians. But in time the Church became the greatest force in the Empire and outside it, and its head, or Pope (from the Latin papa, that is, 'father'), had his seat in Rome, the heart of all society. The Church took up the work of Rome, teaching better ways to the rough Barbarians who were overrunning the old empire, and who were later to become the New Nations.
For a thousand years (500 B.C. to A.D. 500) it was the great work of Rome to take all over its Empire the ideas, the art, the learning, and the religion which had been slowly moving west from the early societies of the East (whose story in the Bible) from Jerusalem in Judea, and from Athens in Greece. In addition to this, Rome gave men the greatest system of law and government they had ever seen, and her builders and engineers were the teachers of all the builders and engineers who came after them in Europe.
The Greeks were a force in European development in the last thousand years before Christ. For part of that time Roman and Greek history were going on together, and Rome had its great days from 500 BC to AD 500. The thousand years after that, AD 500-1500, are named the Middle Ages -- the ages between the death of the old order, with the fall of the Roman Empire, and the coming of a new order with the discovery of America.
The fall of Rome was a very long process. The end is generally given as the year 476, when the Barbarians put one of their chiefs in the place of the last of the feeble Emperors of the West ruling in Rome. It is an interesting fact that the names of this last ruler were those of the builder of Rome and the first of its Emperors -- Romulus Augustulus ('the little Augustus').
Even a hundred years before this, great numbers of Huns and other Barbarians had come from the flat parts of Asia into Europe through the opening between the Caspian Sea and the Ural Mountains. It was not long before they were driving before them the groups of middle Europe, and pushing them across the Danube and the Rhine.
The Romans -- like the Greeks before them -- gave all other nations the name of 'Barbarians.' But these Germanic newcomers were strong men and good fighters, clean-living, straightforward, and far less given to foolish beliefs than the Roman or Greek of that day, or the men of the East.
However, for a long time the old Roman Empire was cruelly troubled by the Barbarians. They came in masses into its wide and fertile lands, attacking its beautiful towns and taking off whatever seemed to them of value. Everywhere there was fear and destruction. When the Goths came across the Danube in 376, the end of the Empire was near, and the coming of the Germans across the Rhine about thirty years later gave it its death-blow.
Four times between AD 300 and AD 400 Rome itself was attacked and given over to destruction. Saint Jerome, writing twenty years after the fall of Romulus Augustulus, gives this picture, in the words of Virgil, of the unhappy events of his day :
"Had I a hundred tongues, a hundred lips,
A throat of iron and a chest of brass,
I still would have no power to put in words
All man's unnumbered wrongs."
In the spring of the black year 451, when Attila the Hun came over the Rhine at the head of his great armies, the most cruel things were done to the unhappy Romans.
Such was the shocking condition of Europe for almost two hundred years, when the different groups of Barbarians, pushed on by newcomers from Asia, were fighting their way through the woods of German and across Europe.
It was another great 'migration,' or moving of peoples, like the coming of the Greeks and the others two thousand years earlier.
It was not very long before the Barbarians were taking root in the fertile countries of the old Roman Empire -- the Goths in Italy and Spain ; the Lombards in North Italy ; the Vandals in North Africa ; the Burgundians and the Franks in what later became France ; the Anglo-Saxon seas-goers in Britain. In this way new nations slowly came into being in Europe. The Barbarians were full of surprise at the beautiful towns and buildings, the great roads, and the wise Roman laws, and in time came to have a deep respect for the society they had overcome. "There is no doubt," one of them said, "that the Emperor is God on earth, and to do wrong to him is to do wrong to oneself." So the name and ideas of Rome went on, the Roman representatives and the Roman Church slowly helping the Barbarians forward to a higher stage of development.
A Barbarian becomes a Christian : Clovis the Frank
Three hundred years after the time of Christ, the Franks ere nothing but bands of rough fighters giving trouble on the edges of the Empire. Time after time they were crushed and put to flight by the Romans, only to get together and come again. They had made a place for themselves in the beautiful country of North France at least as early as the year 400, when the Romans were forced to take their armies away from the Rhine, and the Gauls (like the Britons) had to take care of themselves.
In quite a short time the Franks became something like a nation. They were natural fighters, loving danger and quite without fear. The true Franks had long hair falling down their backs ; when they were fighting, it was pushed up under their head-coverings.
The Barbarians everywhere went to war under chiefs, who were their best fighters, and in time these chiefs became princes and kings. The first King of the Franks, after they had come to the north of France, was named Clovis. (The old form of "Louis.")
To us at the present day Clovis seems the worst of men, cruel, false to his friends, hard and violent, with a sort of animal desire for blood.
But Clovis was married to a Christian woman, Clotilda, who had a very good effect on him. In time they had a son, who was to become King after Clovis. "He is Christ's," said Clotilda, and Clovis made no protest. So the baby was taken to the great church at Soissons, dressed beautifully like a King's son, to be made a Christian. Almost before they were back from the church the baby was dead. "It is the water of Christ which is the cause," said the angry King. "If I had given him to those old gods of mine he would be living now !"
The year after, another son came. Still strong in her belief, Clotilda again got Clovis to let her take him to church, and again, after the baby had been made a Christian, he became ill. "He will be taken from us like his brother," said Clovis bitterly. But this time it was not so ; he got better and became a strong boy. Then came the turning-point in the history of Clovis (496). In one of his wars, when the fight was going against him, he sent up a cry for help to Clotilda's God, and gave his word that if he was not overcome he would become a Christian. Cloves's army overcame the other one and he kept his word, though it was a hard thing for him to do. So great was the power of this Barbarian over his rough men that thousands of them gave up their old religion to go down on their knees to the Prince of Peace.
It was not long before Clovis had more lands under him than any other Barbarian ruler of his time. The year before his death he made his lst journey to the noted town of Tours, whose greatest churchman, Gregory of Tours, has given us a history of these times. The Emperor of the East, who was still Roman Emperor in name, though now living not at Rome but at Constantinople, sent representatives to Clovis, taking him the dress of a ruler and a gold circle ornamented with jewels or his head ; and, in the name of the Emperor, they made him consul. Then Clovis went through the streets of Tours on horseback, giving away gold right and left, the public crying out "Consul" and "Augustus." Going into the church, he there gave a hearing to all who had come to see him. After that he went down on his knees to God, giving Him the credit for all he had been able to do in war and peace.
His death took place a year later in Paris (511) when he was only forty-five years old. This story of the first Barbarian ruler to become a Christian is as strange as anything in history.
Benedict the Monk and Justinian the Law-Giver
The coming of the Barbarians was the end of the old order of society. The Barbarian peoples had no knowledge of Greek and Roman thought. Art and letters almost went out of existence, and only the Church kept up an interest in learning. conditions in the towns, small and great, went from bad to worse. Man's existence was poor and rough, and bands of outlaws made event that unsafe.
The strong men became independent rulers -- Kings Dukes, and so on. The others were ready enough to make their position a little safer by putting themselves and their lands in the hands of these chiefs, and becoming their servants or 'vassals.' In this way, in these troubled times, a new organization of society -- the 'Feudal System' -- came into being as a way of keeping order.
Most of the great seats of learning -- Rome, Milan, Alexandria -- had undergone some destruction in the wars, and so the light of knowledge which had been kept burning in the Mediterranean countries for more than a thousand years became feebler and feebler. This is why the years A.D. 450-1000 have been named the ' Dark Ages.' But they were certainly not completely 'dark,' because this was the time when the Church was doing its great work of making the Barbarians Christian.
In the early days of the fall of the Empire great numbers of men, turning from a society in which they saw only bad, gave themselves up to the Church and became 'monks.' The monks were groups of men living together very simply and giving all their time to religion and good works. Wherever they went they put up churches and houses for themselves ; these were named 'monasteries,' and in them the monks did their best to keep learning and the arts from complete destruction. Latin was the language used by the Church, and teaching in it was given in the monastery schools.
The story of Clovis gives us some idea of the great power of the Church even in those early days. Tours had become a town specially given up to religion, and in that narrow space there were now at least eighteen churches. The head church, or cathedral, was ornamented with paintings and works of art in stone ; it had 'mosaic' floors -- floors made of small polished stones worked into the complex designs -- and all was bright with gold and color. The town had great attractions, not only for the pleasure-loving and the designing, who naturally came from far and near to such a place, but for men of art and learning. The school of music in Tours had early made a great name for itself.
While the new nation of the Franks was being formed under Clovis the Barbarian, a greater and better man was helping to take conditions in Europe to a higher level. This was Saint Benedict (480-543), whose monastery was at Monte Cassino in middle Italy., It was he who gave the monks their three chief rules : to be poor ; to have nothing to do with women ; to be guided in all things by the head of the monastery. He was wise enough to make it a further rule that, in addition to reading the word of God and going to church, the monks were to do some work with their hands on the monastery farms. One of his saying was "Labourate est orare," or "Work in an offering to God." The monks were the best farmers and handworkers of these times.
"To do nothing makes me bad," said Saint Benedict in his Rule for monks. "For that reason, at fixed times, the brothers are to do work with their hands ; and again, at fixed times, to do reading in books of religion." He goes on to say that from Eater till the first of October the first three hours of the day are to be given to work in the fields, and then two hours of reading.
At this time the 'Roman Empire' was still in existence in the East. In fact, it went on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome, again and again driving back from Constantinople the attacking Barbarians (Goths and Slavs) and the Arabs. Here, at the meeting-place of Europe and Asia, the light of knowledge was kept burning till the west was ready for a new birth of learning.
The Empire became for a space a living thing again under Justinian (483-565), who was ruling at he time of Clovis, the Frank. It was the great chief of his army, Belisarius, who got back parts of Italy, Spain, and Africa for the Empire. But Justinian is chiefly important in history as the 'Law-giver." He got all the laws of the Romans together, and in this way this great body or Code of law was given to the new Europe. To-day the law of the nations whose countries were part of the old Roman Empire is still based on Roman law.
Justinian's system of law did for the general public what Benedict's Rule had done for the churchmen. It gave them new ideas of right living and an ordered society. And so the work of Rome went on.
But now Europe was again being attacked by other Barbarian groups " the Magyars, or Hungarians from the flat country in Asia, the Northmen from the sea countries of the North, and the Arabs from the Arabian sands. The 'migrations' were still going on. They went on, in fact, for about five hundred more years, by which time the New Nations were slowly taking their present form.
Mohamed and the Men of the Sand Wastes
A short time after Justinian's death there was going about in Arabia a man who said that he was the 'Prophet of the One God.' This was Mohammed of Mecca, a camel-driver and a keeper of sheep. Before his time the Arabs made gods of wood or stone ; it was Mohammed who gave them their great religion and their place in history. Mohammedanism to-day is the religion not only of Arabia and the countries round it, but of the Moors of North Africa, the Turks, and a great part of India. To keep himself from falling into the hands of those who would have put him to death, Mohammed was forced to get away from Mecca to Medina, and this flight is named the 'Hegira.' All Mohammedans, or Moslems, to give them their other name, take the Hegira (622) as the starting point of their history, in the same way as Christians take the birth of Christ.
The religion of Mohammed was to a great degree based on the religions of the Jews and the Christians. It was his belief that he was a prophet of God, or Allah (old Testament, 'Elohim'), and that he was sent by God to take further the work of Moses, Abraham, and Jesus. His teachings are recorded in the Koran. All were to go down on their knees to God five times a day ; to go without food on certain days, and give money to the poor ; to make a journey to Mecca ; and never to take strong drink or pig's meat. There were to be no gods made of wood and stone. Women were to be kept by themselves in a special part of the house, and never to be seen in public with their faces uncovered. Mohammed's religion is named Islam or, roughly, 'respect for authority' (that of Allah).
After some years of fighting, Mohammed took Mecca with an army of ten thousand men, and in a short time all Arabia had come over to the new religion. This done, the attention of the Arabs was turned to forcing their religion upon other nations. The chiefs who took Mohammed's place after his death, the Caliphs, overcame and gave their religion to a great Empire stretching in a curve from the Black Sea to Gibraltar (so named by the Moors). Persia was overcome ; Jerusalem (637), Alexandria (641), and Carthage (698), all went down before them. By 711 they had even taken Spain from the Goths and made a number of journeys over the Pyrenees into the heart of France.
Then the danger to Europe was for a time over, because the Moors were crushed in the West, after a great fight at Tours (732), by Charles 'the Hammer,' one of the kings who came after Clovis ; and in the East they were forced to give up their attempt to take Constantinople after being at its very walls (717).
The early supporters of Mohammed were not only great fighters, they did much for the development of society. Their two greatest towns, Baghdad in the East, and Cordova (Spain) in the West, were better off and more interested in learning than any town in Christian Europe at that time. They kept up the learning and arts of the East, and they got control of the great trade with India. They were specially expert at mathematics, astronomy, and medical science. In the Alhambra at Granada, and in their 'mosques,' or churches, we may still see examples of their beautiful and highly ornamented buildings.
Their early stories are now the common property of all nations in the form of the Arabian Nights. These are stories of the time of the great Caliph, Haroun al Raschid (Aaron the Wise). He was ruling in Baghdad while Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, was King of the Franks, and these great rulers of East and West sent offerings to one another.
The Arab Empire was later broken up into separate countries. This made the way open for new nomads from middle Asia -- the Turks -- who later became Mohammedans. In a short time these Turks took Baghdad (1058), and their chief became its 'Sultan.' Then they overcame Asia Minor and took Jerusalem (1076), and this was the reason for the long wars between the Mohammedans and the Christians named the Crusades.
This new Mohammedan Empire in time took in most of the country in the north of Africa and the south of Asia, and here Islam is still the controlling religion. One out of very fifteen men and women now living is a Mohammedan.
The 'migrations' were even now not over. The growth and expansion of Islam from AD 600 to 800 was one of the greatest events in history ; the overrunning of different parts of the earth by the Northmen was one of the most important developments of the years which came after, 800 - 1100.
The journeys of the Vikings, or men form the sea-inlets of the North, went on for about three hundred years. They were expert seamen with no fear of wind or wave, and their long ships went into almost every European sea and river. Such fear did they put into the hearts of men everywhere that a special prayer was said in the churches : "O God, keep us safe from the Northmen !"
They had colonies in Russia, where one of them became a King ; in Iceland, where they were responsible for the great writings named the Sagas ; and in Greenland. They probably went across the Atlantic to America, though the memory of their discovery went out of men's minds, and the existence of the 'New World' came as a surprise to Europe five hundred years later. They made attacks on all the country round the seas of Europe and on most of the sea-towns.
In England, after a number of such attacks, they made peace with Alfred the Great at Wedmore (878). Later, England had at different times three Danish kings, among them Canute, who was the ruler of a great Scandinavian Empire.
In France they took Paris (845), and then their chief got the King of the Franks to let them make a colony on the Seine, with Rouen as its chief town. This colony became the 'Dutchy' of Normandy (911) with their chief as its Duke. From Normandy, a hundred years later, came William 'the Conqueror,' so named because he overcame England and Norman chiefs and Norman churchmen its ruling group.
So, from being outlaws of the sea, the Vikings became the makers and rulers of nations. They gave up their old religion and became Christians, and later they were to be the greatest fighters for the Church. More than almost any other nation in history, they had the art of adjustment to new conditions. They took over the language, thought and ways of the countries where they went, and everything they took was given further development in their hands. They made England, where, under the Anglo-Saxon kings, there had been unending division and trouble, into a strong, united nation. They overcame Sicily and Malta, and gave them good government. In France they quickly became a guiding force, and they made this fertile old part of the Roman Empire the birthplace of Chivalry -- that system of high ideas about a man's relations to his King, his Church, and those feebler than himself, which made the Middle Ages a time of great acts, and has given us some of the best-loved stories in history.
Charles the Great : Christmas Day, 800
The earliest of the Northmen's journeys took place while the greatest of the Barbarians kings was ruling the Franks -- Charles the Great, or Charlemagne (768-814). It was his work to make a new Europe by forcing order upon the warring groups of Barbarians.
Charlemagne was a great military chief, tall and with an air of authority, and very strong. He took part in more than fifty wars. He was requested by the Pope to make war on Lombards in North Italy, and his son was made King of Italy. He took up arms against the Moors in North Spain, and the great Song of Roland is an account of the doings of Charlemagne and his men there.
But most of his wars were east of the Rhine. The worst of these was against the Saxons, four thousand of whom were cut down by Charlemagne's army in one fight. These Saxons, who still kept their early religion, were later made Christian by force. In the same way as Caesar took Gaul into the Roman Empire, so Charlemagne, after much fighting, made Germany part of the new Christian Empire.
Charles was equally great as a fighter and as a ruler of Church and country. He gave a new birth to learning by building schools, getting books together, and requesting men of learning, like Alcuin of York, to come to his chief town. And, like Henry II of England after him, he sent judges on journeys all over his Empire to put his system of government into operation.
Most of the west of Europe was covered by the Empire of Charlemagne. It has been said that he was the greatest man in the thousand years after the fall of Rome. The chief event in his history was when he went to Rome to be made Emperor by Pope Leo III in the great Church of Saint Peter, on Christmas Day, 800. Here is an account of the events as pictured for us by a noted writer of history.
So, on that Christmas Day more than a thousand years back, another Roman Empire came into being under the rule of an Emperor and a Pope. Its name in history is the 'Holy' Roman Empire, that is to say, the Roman Empire in God's keeping.
"At last the time came, and Charles, probably with most of his chiefs, together with the Romans, went to the great Church of Saint Peter on the morning of Christmas Day. They come up from the Tiber by the long road edged with stone columns of Saint Angelo to the door of Saint Peter's. They go up the thirty-five steps to the stage on which the Pope and all the great churchmen are waiting for them. Charles himself, with his yellow hair, going gray, and with deep lines ploughed in his face by the work of twenty Saxon wars, is a head taller than the dark, smooth-faced churchmen round the Pope.
"The Romans are all very pleased to see him in Roman clothing -- the long dress with the wide band of cloth round the neck, and the low shoes of a Roman of high birth in place of the high boots used by the German chiefs. Between the columns down the middle of the church are hanging (because it is Christmas Day) deep red curtains worked with gold ; at the other end of the church, hanging from the arch, a great frame of silver, in which are burning 1,370 wax-lights, makes bright the dark December morning.
"Charles gets up from his knees ; the Pope comes up to him, and lifting high his hands, put on the tall King's head a circle of gold.
"Then all the Romans give a loud cry ; 'To Carolus Augustus, servant of God, great and peace-loving Emperor, long years and all power !' Once again there is an Emperor of the Romans in Rome -- the first of that long line of Germanic Emperors, the last of whom gave up the name at the order of the Corsican Napoleon."
Happily we have most of the facts about Charlemagne, because one of his churchmen kept a record of his doings. Though Charles did so much for education, says the writer, he himself was never able to make is letters. He gives a touching picture of the old fighter's attempts at writing, keeping the pages under his bed and working whenever he had a minute free, though his fingers had become so stiff that he had little control of the pen.
The Feudal System
All through Charlemagne's troubled times the Feudal System was slowly being worked out. It was not a completely new thing -- hundreds of years earlier developments very like this had taken place in Egypt and China.
The chief groups in European society at this time were the churchmen, the 'lords,' and the 'serfs.' The lords were great landowners who made payment for their land by giving the ruler, who was their 'overlord,' help in his wars ; and the serfs were farm-workers who gave their lord a part of their produce and did a certain amount of work for him in exchange for the use of their land, and armed help in time of danger.
Some of the Emperor's laws are still on record, and one of these gives a very good picture of the way of living on the great manors, as the farms of the lords were named. All over the west of Europe the land was, by degrees, broken up into these manors with their great open fields, farmed by the serfs working together as a group. This way of farming went on for about one thousand years, till the land was cut up into fields and new ways of farming came in in the seventeen hundreds.
"Once a year," says one of Charlemagne's laws (about A.D. 800), "every manager is to make a statement of all our income, giving an account of the lands worked by our plowmen with our animals, and of the lands to be ploughed by those who have the land from us ; of the pigs, of the payments for land, of the money taken from wrongdoers by our judges ; of the birds and other animals take in our woods without our authority ; of the grain-crushing, of the fields, of the woods, of the bridges and the ships ; of the freemen and the places which are in debt to us ; of markets ; of wine-lands and those who have to make payments to us in wine ; of the dry grass, fire-wood, and all other wood from the waste lands ; of green food and grain ; of the wool got from the sheep, of the plants from which we get linen and thread ; of the fruits of the trees, and nut-trees greater and smaller ; of the gardens, of the roots, of the fishing-places ; of the leather, skins, and horns ; of the sweet produce of the bees and their wax. . . . Of all this they are to give us a list, with everything put down separately and in order at Christmas, so that we may be certain how much of everything we have. . . . Every manager is to have on the place good workmen ; iron-workers, a worker in gold and one in silver, shoe-makers, makers of beer and other sorts of strong drinks, cooks to make cakes for our table, net-makers to make nets for taking animals and fish, and other sorts of workmen for whose names there is no room here."
The details of this order are very like those given in the Doomsday Book, in which, by the orders of William the Conqueror, the accounts of the English manors were recorded more than two hundred years later.
After Charlemagne's death (814) his Empire, with its loose organization, was broken up. France and Germany by degrees became separate countries, taking roughly the positions on the map they have to-day. Between them there was a great middle land stretching from the North Sea to the Alps, which has been the cause of trouble among European nations, specially France and Germany, all through later history. Alsace-Lorraine, which was given back to France after the Great War of 1914-18, was a part of this middle-land.
A German, Otto the Great, became the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in 962. Its connection with Italy was to be a serious cause of trouble to Germany for hundreds of years. In fact, Italy and Germany did not become independent countries till the eighteen hundreds, when France and England had long been free of the Holy Roman Empire, and working out their separate developments as nations.
Hildebrand and the Rule of the Church
The stories of Clovis at Tours and Charlemagne at Rome give us an idea how important the Church was in the Middle Age. It was far and the strongest force in those ages of belief and it did much for the development of European society after the coming of the Barbarians. Everywhere in Europe there were churchmen and monks ruling men and women in the name of the Church.
Christian 'missionaries' went into every land teaching the story of Christ, and taking with them some knowledge of the arts of society ; Saint Patrick (about 450) to Ireland ; Saint Augustine (596) to England ; Irish monks to Italy ; Saint Boniface from England (about 750) to Germany ; while the Church of the East -- which was not in agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on certain points, and had a separate organization, as it still has -- took the Christian religion to the Russians and the other Slavs.
Monasteries were started in every country, and they became the schools, hospitals, and hotels of the Middle Ages, and had the best farms. Every monastery had a church, sleeping-rooms and meal-rooms for the monks, a hospital, a cooking-place, and a writing-room. In the middle of the building was a great open space, and round them all a high wall.
The head of the Church at Rome had become the Pope, or Father of the Church, and had got great power while the Barbarian attacks were going on. It was Pope Leo the Great who kept Rome safe from the cruel Attila th Hun (453), and another Pope was responsible for keeping off the equally cruel Vandals (455).
In time the Pope's power became equal to, and even greater than the Emperor's. Gregory VII, or Hildebrand, one of the greatest of the Popes, was ruling at the time when his friend William the Conqueror was overcoming England. It was Hildebrand's great desire to make the Pope the chief authority in Christian Europe. Kings who did not do as they were ordered by him were in danger of being cut off from the Church, and their fear of this punishment gave him almost unlimited power. Further, to keep the Church quite independent, churchmen were ordered not to take the signs of their position (the ring and the rod) from Kings, and this was the start of a long and bitter fight between the Kings and the Church.
Pope Hildebrand even kept the Emperor (Henry IV) waiting in the snow without shoes for three days and nights outside Canossa Castle in Italy (1077) before he would see him. Hildebrand was one of the strongest men of the Middle Ages.
The Christians and the Mohammedans
Nothing makes the power of the Church clearer than the wars between Christians and Mohammedans name the Crusades. The Mohammedans had taken Jerusalem in 637. About four hundred and fifty years later (1076) Jerusalem was taken by the Mohammedan Turks, and Christians coming to the town for purposes of religion had a bad time. Peter the Hermit and Urban the Pope then went al over Europe working up Christian feeling against the Turks. In a talk to the Church at Clermont in France (1095) Urban said to thousands of hearers ; "To you, O Franks, noted among nations for your true Catholic beliefs and the great respect which you have for the Church, I say these words. Again and again stories have come to us from Jerusalem and Constantinople that un-Christian men are violently overrunning Christian lands with fire and destruction. They are burning down the churches of God or using them for the Mohammedan religion.
"Let the memory of your fathers put heart into you ; the great story of King Charlemagne and your other kings, who gave new lands into the keeping of the Church. Let the thought of the Tomb of Christ, now in the hands of unclean nations, make you strong against them. Put away the hate among yourselves ; let there be an end of your wars and troubles. Take the road to Christ's Tomb ; put those un-Christian men out of the land and make it yours. That land was given by God to the sons of Israel. Jerusalem is the heart of the earth."
When Pope Urban had done, a cry went up from all those present : "It is God's desire ! It is God's desire !"
And so the Crusades were started. There were a number of Crusades at different times stretching over two hundred years. Jerusalem was taken (1099) and taken back again (1187) -- and after that it was never in the hands of Christian again till the English, under Allenby, took it in the Great War of 1914-18. So the chief purpose of the Crusades was not effected, and this fact was a blow to the credit of the Church, whose power had at first been so greatly increased by them.
But the Crusades had very important effects. Through all these years men from every level of society -- Kings, lords, traders, and fighting men -- had been journeying from Europe to Palestine, and there they came into touch with the comforts and ideas of the East. They got much new knowledge, and they took back with them all sorts of new things -- soft floor-coverings, beautiful silks, strange foods, and so on.
All this trade made money for the towns, specially Venice and Genoa in Italy, and later, for other towns in Germany.
In the time of the Crusades the East again, as in the days of the early Empires, became the teacher of the West.
Little Brother Francis and Frair Roger Bacon
While the Crusades were going on, another great development was taking place inside the Church. This was the work of Saint Dominic of Spain (1170-1221), of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), and of the friars, that is, 'brothers,' who were their supporters.
The son of a great Italian trader, 'little brother Francis' gave up the pleasure and good living he was used to and went back to the simple ways of the early Christians, in the hope of turning the churchmen and the monks from their increasing love of comfort. Those who went with him were ordered to give away all they had to the poor, keeping for themselves only one rough dress. This is his account of the existence of the little band :
The friars, without shoes or money, went into the poor little houses of the unhealthy towns of Europe to give comfort to the crushed and unhappy, and to take to all the teaching of Christ. They went into most parts of the earth -- not only in Europe but in Asia -- to do their good work. Saint Francis is still the best-loved men in all history.
"We went about, living in poor, unused churches, we had little learning, and were the servants of all. I did work with my hands, and would still do so ; and it is my desire that all the other brothers do some work with their hands because this keeps them good. Let those who have no trade get one, not for the purpose of making money, but to give a good example, and to have work to do. And when we are not given the price of our work let us go to Christ's table, requesting our bread from door to door. Let the brothers have a care not to take churches or any buildings put up for them without keeping in mind that they have given their word to be poor as is ordered in the Rule ; and let them make use of houses only as men on a journey and there but for a little time."
Saint Dominic was a Spaniard, and much of his work was done among the Moors in Spain. It was his dearest hope to make them Christian. He was noted for his great power of language and the moving effect he had upon his hearers.
One of the most noted friars was a boy of twelve at the time of Saint Francis' death. This was Roger Bacon, who went to the universities of Oxford and Paris, and became the greatest man of science after the Greeks. He was much against the foolish belief of his time in unnatural powers, and had a surprisingly true idea of the inventions which a knowledge of natural forces would one day make possible. He said that there would be bridges without supports across rivers ; that carriages would go at a great rate without animals pulling them ; that machines would be made in which, by turning an apparatus, a man would be taken through the air like a bird in flight.
All these seemingly impossible things have now come true -- as, more than seven hundred years back, Friar Roger Bacon, one of the wisest of all men of science, said they would !
The Fighting Nomads of Asia
The wars between the Mohammedans and the Christians were only one more stage in the long war between East and West which we have seen going on almost from the start of history - in the fights between Persia and Greece between Carthage and Rome, between Franks and Huns, between the Mohammedans and Christians.
The nations of Asia have, at different times, done much to make a higher level of existence possible. Asia is 'the land of births and new developments.' Society had its great river basins, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Hoang-Ho (or Yellow river), and the Ganges, and so had a number of great inventions which did not come to Europe till much later.
Europe is specially in debt to China for silk and delicate 'china' - it has given its very name to the material of our cups and plates - and for the invention of paper and printing. There is much of value for the West in Japan's ideas of ordered living, and in her art ; and the art and thought of India have still much to give us.
All the great religions have been started in Asia. More than five hundred years before Christ, when Greek though was in its earliest sages, Confucius was teaching in China, Buddha in India, and the Hebrew prophets in Palestine. In that same Palestine, six hundred years later, the son of a Hebrew wood-worker in an out-of-the-way little town, gave men the beautiful new idea of love and peace on earth. And six hundred years later, again, Mohammed came out of the Arabian wastes.
All through history Asia has been the starting-place of Empire-building nomads. For example, from the waste lands of Arabia came all those groups who made themselves rulers in Mesopotamia -- Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Hebrews ; and from the same part, in the Middle Ages, came the Arabs. From the flat country in the middle of Asia there came not only the great Indo-European groups but, in addition, the Huns, Turks, Mongols, and others. Time after time in history the nomads have come down over Europe and Asia like the ice in earlier ages, driving all before them. Frequently these Asiatic chiefs have been the most cruel of men, because Asia was the land of rulers with unlimited power, basing their government on force and fear. It was only in Europe that there was any development in the direction of a politically free society.
In the twelve and thirteen hundreds the cruel Tartar chiefs, Jenghis Khan and Tamerlane, using the Chinese invention of gunpowder, were responsible for very great destruction. These two men were as much feared as Attila the Hun. It was one of Attila's cruel sayings that no grass would come again where his horse's feed had been ; and Jenghis took pleasure in the fact that after destruction of a town by his army he was able to go thundering over the place where it had been with no fear of his horse falling. In one summer almost everyone from the Baltic to the Danube was put to death, and the bones of men were everywhere among the broken stones of the towns and churches. Jenghis gave his word to those who had taken cover in the woods that he would let them go free and in peace. But when, in this belief, they came out into the open, he made them get in the produce of the fields and the wine-lands, and then he put them all to death. The fertile country between the Caspian and the Indus -- a stretch of hundreds of miles -- was made such a complete waste that six hundred years have been unable to put right the damage which he did in four.
Tamerlane's cruel love of destruction was equal to, if not greater than, that of Jenghis. At Delhi, the chief town of his future government, he put one hundred thousand prisoners to death because he saw some of them smiling when the army of their countrymen came into view. Delhi, Baghdad, Damascus, and a thousand other towns were burned or made level with the earth. He seems to us more like some strange early sort of half-man, little better than an animal, than a military chief of the Middle Ages.
A simple list of the chief facts will make it clear how important in the history of the world these Tartars were. Jenghis Khan (1162-1227) and his armies came all the way across Asia to Russia, which was ruled by the Tartars for two hundred years. His son's son, Kublai Khan, the greatest of all the Tartar kings, became Emperor of China. After that Tamerlane, the most cruel of them all, made waste the land from Delhi to the Mediterranean ; and from him came the line of rulers of the great Mogul Empire in India, which went on till the days of Clive of England.
Again, it was by the Tartars that the Turks were forced out of their first country in Turkestan into Asia Minor. Then came the Crusades, in which the Christian hopes of driving out the Mohammedans come to nothing. After that the Turks came across to Europe, overcame the Balkan lands, and in the end took Constantinople (1453), in this way becoming a serious danger to Europe. Less than a hundred years after this event, under Soliman the Great (1520-66), they were ruling from Hungary to Baghdad.
But bit by bit the Mohammedans were forced back from Europe. Moscow made itself free in 1480 ; Granada was taken by the Spaniards in 1492 ; the Turks were turned back from Vienna by the Poles in 1683. Today the only part of Europe under Turkish rule is that round Constantinople.
The story of Asia is of great interest in our times because the steamship, the telegram, and radio have made East and West nearer and more important to one another than ever before.
Marco Polo and his journeys to Cathay
China is specially interesting because the roots of its society go back to the Stone Age. It is the only one of the early societies which has had an unbroken development all through history. Even today the education of Chinese boys and girls is much the same as the education of the prophet Samuel by Eli. Its writing and records go back to 3000 B.C. Its first book on religion has come down fro the time of its first Emperor, and is four or five thousand years old. This first Emperor is said to have made China a united land, the 'Celestial Empire,' or Empire of God. But for hundreds of years of its history, before Christ and after - China was broken up among feudal chiefs.
Between five and six hundred years before Christ, Confucius was living in China, and to this day the name of this great teacher of religion is deeply respected by his countrymen. He gave them rules for their behavior to their fathers, teachers, and all men. One of his chief sayings was "Have not ! Be !"
Another great landmark in China's history was the building of the Great Wall across the north to keep out the Huns or Tartars, who, however, did get through it sometimes. It was one thousand eight hundred miles long, and parts of it are still to be seen. It was made in the two hundreds B.C., when the Chinese Empire was almost equal to the Roman. There were great trade-ways from China through Asia, and it was by these roads that the silk used by Roman society women came into Europe.
The Chinese very early became expert at making silks and delicate china, and at painting beautiful pictures ; and they had the art of printing, and made use of gunpowder, and of he ship's compass for getting their direction at sea, before these inventions came to Europe at the time of the New Learning. In the Middle Ages China was attacked by the Tartar Jenghis Khan, who, with his yellow armies, came over the Great Wall and took Peking. His son's son, Kublai Khan, became the ruler of China in 1280, and had under him the greatest Empire of that time, stretching from the Danube to the Pacific.
The Venetian, Marco Polo, noted for his journeys to different countries, was for seventeen years in Peking, living in the house of the Emperor. When he came back he put into a book his story of that strange and beautiful town, of its gold and jewels, its great royal house, its paintings and works of art. He gave an account of good 'hotels' on the roads, of the making of silk and he working of gold of trade and industry on a great scale, at a time when the towns of Europe were small and poor in comparison. Marco Polo's book "gives a picture without equal of that great Empire, full of gold, and trade, and men of learning, and beautiful things, happy and at peace under its ruler, Kublai Khan, one of he best Kings history has ever seen."
So strange and surprising were the accounts he gave of Cathay, Burma, Japan, and so on, that they were looked on a fiction by most men. However, great interest was taken in his journeys, and later, when the Turks became a serious danger on the trade-ways to the East and men were looking for a new way to the gold and jewels of Cathay, Columbus himself went through Marco Polo's book and made notes on it.
For some time relations between China and the West were almost completely broken off, but in the fifteen hundreds the Chinese again came in touch with Europe. Trade with the East was newly started by the Portuguese, and after the traders went the missionaries of the Church to give the news of Christ's teaching, and took with them much of the science of the West. But the coming of churchmen and traders from Europe did not have much effect upon Chinese ways or ideas. In fact, taking into account how very old the nation and its learning was, it is not surprising that for a long time China was to the Chinese the world, and themselves the nation.
The story of the Trade with the Indies
There is nothing strange in the fact that the chief connection between India and Europe in the last three hundred years has been through trade, because, for thousands of years before that, trade had been he backbone of relations between Europe and India. Trade with the Indies has ever been the chief bridge between East and West. So much profit came from this trade that for a very long time there was no other of anything like the same value.
Before the discovery of America, and before the opening up of the farther parts of Africa, the only places from which Europe was able to get the produce of warm countries were India and the Spice Islands. And the only way of getting them - till the Suez Canal was made in 1869 - was across the wide neck of land joining Asia and Africa.
Whatever other developments took place, this fact was unchanged. Empires might come and go, and great religions have birth - as the Christian Church and Islam did in that very place - but the silks and other produce of the East were still desired by the West. Most important was the need for spices - powdered roots, seeds, and suchlike things - to give food a better taste - because till quite late in history Europeans had little but salted meat in the winter months. It was only when the use of field roots (such as turnips) and new and better ways of farming came in, in the seventeen hundreds, that it became possible to keep animals for food all through the year.
In the old days there were three chief trade-ways to the East. The first was up the Red Sea and through Egypt. The great attraction of this was that traders were able to go almost all the way by sea, making unnecessary the dangers of a long journey across the sand wastes. The second way, on the other side of Arabia, was not unlike the first. It was for much of the distance a water-way : up the Persian Gulf and through the river-lands of the Euphrates and Tigris to Asia Minor and the Levant. The third way was across a sea even farther to the north - the Black Sea. Starting across the middle of Asia, the trains of goods slowly made the journey to the east end of the Black Sea, and from there the goods went on to Constantinople for distribution in Europe.
In early times and in the Middle Ages one of the things which made the men of the south of Europe better-off and more forward than the men in the north was the fact that this trade with the East was in their hands.
In the time of the Romans, Alexandria was the chief market. When the Mohammedans overcame Egypt, not long after the death of Mohammed, the trade-ways were changed.
Fear of being attacked by the Mohammedans sent the traders north, and Constantinople became the chief meeting-place. This change was greatly to the profit of the old town, and for some hundreds of years it had a position without parallel. Almost all the most important trade in the world went through it. It was the heart of the world's system of exchange in a way no other town has ever been. The profits of this trade with the East were so great that with their help Constantinople became first in science, art, and learning, in addition to being the great seat of the Greek Church. The Indian trade made Constantinople at the same time the Paris and the Gibraltar of the early Middle Ages.
All this was changed by two events. First, Constantinople was taken in 1204 by the Crusaders, who had come east for the purpose of fighting the Mohammedans but who frequently got mixed up in other wars. The town never became so strong again, because much of its trade was taken away by the Venetians. Then came the great days of the Republics of Venice and Genoa. The great developments in Italy at the end of the Middle Ages were chiefly caused by the fact that the Italian towns had now taken the place of Constantinople, as Constantinople had earlier taken the place of Alexandria --and as London and Antwerp were one day to take the place of the Italian towns.
The second event causing a change in the trade with the East was the coming of the Ottoman Turks (so named after their ruler, Othman I), who put an end to Christian and Arab art and learning at the east end of the Mediterranean. The growth of the Turkish power in these parts, made complete by the fall of Constantinople (1453), had the effect of cutting off the East from the West, and trade between the two by the old ways became almost impossible.
The need for the spices of the East was as great as ever in Europe, though it was much harder to get them. The nations of the West even before this had the idea of looking for a new way to India and China, and the Portuguese had for some time been pushing farther and farther down the west side of Africa. Now, in 1492, the Spanish sent out Columbus, whose argument was that, the earth being round, it was possible to go sailing west and get to the Indies from the other side. But there was a land he had no idea of in his way, and in place of India he came to America. At last (1497) the Portuguese sailor, Da Gama, journeying round the Cape of Good Hope, made the discovery of a new sea-way to the East, safe from the Turks. And this way was equally open to Holland, England, and France - the newer nations of the West which were now coming into competition with those of the Mediterranean.
Why have we been looking back at all these events? It was necessary to see what the early relations between India and Europe were, and what the trade with the East did for the nations in control of it. The greatest developments of the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, when India was a gold-mine to Europe, and France, England, and Holland were building up their Empires on its trade, were no new thing. They were only another stage in the long and interesting story of the trade between East and West.
What the Middle Ages did for Europe
The Middle Ages was a time when men and nations wee full of driving power. It was this quality which made it, on the one hand, a violent and cruel age, and, on the other an age of great undertaking and developments.
In those thousand years (500 to 1500) present-day Europe was being made in the fires of war. Before the end of this time England was becoming a strong nation under the rule of the Tudors. A daughter of the first Tudor, a Welshman, became Queen of Scotland, and as an outcome of this Scotland was united with England and Wales (in 1603), and 'Great Britain' came into existence. The Swiss, men of the mountains like the Welsh and the Scotch, made themselves independent in the twelve and thirteen hundreds. The French, moved by Joan of Arc to a new love of their country, with her help put an end to the attempts of the English kings to make themselves rulers of France, which had been going on for about a hundred years. After the Hundred Years' War France was ruled by a long line of kings with unlimited power, the first and one of the most feared of whom was Louis XI.
In Spain a long Crusade of seven hundred years against the Arabs came to an end with the taking of Granada, the only strong town still in the hands of the Mohammedans, in the same year as the discovery of America (1492).
Unlike these other countries, German and Italy, chiefly because of their connections with the Holy Roman Empire, did not become united till very much later.
The men of the Middle Ages had universities and colleges, workers' and traders' organizations, systems of law, and representative government. They put up great houses and armed buildings, churches and monasteries ; and they were responsible for the growth of towns like London and Paris , Rouen and Bruges, Florence and Venice. They took a great pleasure in words, and in forming the languages of their nations (Dante in Italy, Chaucer in England, and so on). There is almost no development in present-day society which has not its roots in the Middle Ages.
But the men of the Middle Ages were very different in some ways from the men of today. They went about with their eyes shut to much which now gives us pleasure. They had no feeling that the earth was beautiful or surprising, little love of living as a good in itself. Full of fears of death and the Last Day, they were not interested in the natural things about them, and went their narrow way conscious chiefly of Earth's dangers.
Then, by degrees, came the Renaissance, or 'new birth' - the birth of a new outlook on existence, a new pleasure in natural things, in art, and in learning. As in the great days of Greece, men were full of the desire for knowledge, and their minds were ever questioning.
The seeds of this great change had been planted in the Middle Ages. In the Crusades Europe had come face to face with the thought and ways of the East, and had been slowly becoming conscious of how much there was outside itself, and of the unlimited range of experience. "The world was so full of a number of things " -- and it was all before them, only waiting discovery. Again, in the verse of Dante and the painting of Giotto, of Italy, and in the science of the English friar Bacon, we have the first rays of the coming day which was to put an end to the night of the Middle Ages.
Dante is looked on, with Homer and Shakespeare, as one of the greatest verse-writers of all time. He came at a time (1265-1312) of warring Popes and cruel rulers, when the heads of the Church were interested chiefly in keeping their power, and the monks in living without working and the common man was poor in everything but fears and false beliefs. Dante's great work in verse was produced when he was living away from his country, in bitter need and very unhappy ; but his voice is like that of the early prophets, making clear the great purposes of God and giving men hope of a new and better Age. His face, with its serious lines and air of deep thought, is that of a man who was naturally great ; his lip, in the picture of him painted by his countryman Giotto, is curved as if in disgust at the bad and foolish men about him.
The start of the Renaissance was the start of a great flowering of science, art, and verse. And though all countries had their part in this new development, it was in Italy that it first took root, and to Italy that other nations came for their ideas. In the great Italian towns men got together the early Roman and Greek writings and went through them with loving care, and so took up the threads of Greek learning, and went on with the work of the Greeks.
Vasari, in his book about the painters of Italy, gives an account of how he got together for the library of a great price of Florence "forty-five writers, and had two hundred books ready in twenty-two months ; and before his death the price was able to see his new library complete, and the books listed and put in order, in all of which he took great pleasure." And this was before the days of printing !
The Great Inventions : Printing, Gunpowder, Ship's Compass
The men of the renaissance took a great interest in those inventions which had long been in use in old China. These discoveries had been made again and again at different places, but it was not till almost 1500, when the Renaissance was in full flower, that their great value was clearly seen and profited by.
The air of printing, like the making of paper, had long been common among the Chinese, but it was only about 1450 that it came into use in Europe, John Gutenberg of Mainz being responsible for the invention of printing with separate metal letters. Up to this time all the books in the West had been in handwriting, like those of the Florentine library talked about earlier. The price of such books was very high, and only a small number of persons had the chance of reading them. But in a short time the printing machines were at work putting the new ideas before a wider public.
It was not long before the great printers of Venice, with their two hundred printing machines, were producing beautiful copies of the early Greek writing ; and almost as early the printers of Basel were getting out the works of Erasmus. By degrees books became cheaper, so that more persons were able to get them, and this had most important effects. In the Middle Ages the Church, that is to say, first the monasteries, and then the universities under the authority of the Church, had completed control of learning and of letters ; but this came to an end when printed books made the knowledge of the churchmen public property. It is not surprising that the invention of printing is sometimes said to be the greatest event in history.
Again, gunpowder, another early Chinese invention, came into Europe about 1320 and slowly made great changes in the art of war. After the invention of great guns the strong buildings of the feudal chiefs, the steel dress of the fighter and his war-horse, quickly became things of the past, and the days were gone when a man might make a name for himself in history by the force of his good right arm.
Last, the ship's compass -- the first made about 1302, and used by Columbus on his journey to America -- made possible safer journeys into unmapped seas.
The Great Discoveries : Columbus, Da Gama, Magellan and Drake
With the use of these inventions and the development of the science of geography there came a time of great discoveries, of a great expansion of trade, of colonies and new Empires overseas. New countries in the West and new ways to the old lands of the East were now open to European sailors and traders.
It was by chance that Columbus, when he made his great journey to the West in the interests of Spain came on a 'new world' (1492). "I have done my best to see all the books on geography and other science," he had said to the King and Queen of Spain, who had given him the money for his under-taking. but he went with th idea that he was on his way not to the new lands of America, but to the gold and jewels of India and Cathay. Men who have been moved by ideas, however, have frequently made history, even when their ideas have been wrong. and so it was with Columbus.
He himself was the European of whom there is any record * to put his foot in the 'New World' of America. He went on land beautifully dressed, with his uncovered blade in his hand. At the back of him came his men, and after kissing the earth which they had been waiting so long to see, they all went down on their knees to God for giving them a happy end to their journey. The great machines in which they had come across the sea (they would have seemed little more than pleasure boats to us), which seemed to be moving on the water with wings, put such fear into the Indians (as the red men of America were named in error) that they took the newcomers for men from the sun who had come down to see the earth.
* We have said earlier that it is probable the Northmen had been there before him.
The second great discovery was made by the Portuguese Vasco da Gama in 1497. This was the discovery of a new sea-way to the East (which had been equally the purpose of Columbus) down the west side of Africa and round the Cape of Good Hope. Portugal's hundred years' attempt to make this discovery was well rewarded, and before long her ships were coming back from 'the Indies' with ever-increasing stores of gold and goods.
Last, Magellan of Portugal (starting in 1519), and after him Drake of England (starting in 1577), went across the Pacific, another new discovery, and made the first journeys round the earth.
The way of India and the Spice Islands across the Atlantic, the first part of which had been covered by Columbus, was made complete by Magellan. It was so long, however, that it did not come into serious competition with the way round the Cape -- which was the regular road to the East for almost four hundred years -- till the Suez Canal was cut.
In a short time the Europeans were building up new colonies in the new lands overseas. the exchange of goods between all parts of the earth was now started again -- a thousand years after it had been broken off by the fall of the Roman Empire.
Science and Art : Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci
While these discoveries were being made in the East and in the West, and new lands, new plants, and new animals were coming to the knowledge of Europe, men of science were making clear the secrets of the skies to minds still full of strange beliefs and fears. The first great event was when Copernicus the Pole put forward the surprising theory, based on observation and reasoning, that the sun was in the middle of the physical system, though it had long been the general belief that the sun and the stars went round our small earth.
Then Galileo of Pisa, with the new invention, the telescope, was able to make a more detailed observation of the sky, and to give support to the teachings of Copernicus. The 'lens' (a bit of glass of a certain form, which has the property of making things seen through it seem nearer and clearer) had been made some use of by the Arabians, and an account of it had been given by Roger Bacon, but so far the chief invention based on it had been eye-glasses. Galileo saw how this knowledge might have further uses for seeing things at great distances ; and by turning his telescope on the stars and the moons of Jupiter he was able to make the arguments of Copernicus seem much stronger. About the same time his German friend, Kepler (1571-1630), was working on the laws of motion of all these bodies.
But most men had no belief in these discoveries about the earth and stars. The Church, feeling that Galileo was attacking the authority of the Bible, was very much against him and had him put in prison. Writing from France, a great man of science said wisely : "You have done no good by putting Galileo in prison. That will never make it certain that the earth is at rest. If it is seen, by expert observation, to be turning round, then not all the men on it will be able to keep it from turning, or themselves from turning with it." [Footnote : 'Pascal.']
Galileo became unable to see in his later years, as did Milton, the great English verse-writer. Galileo's work was taken further by Milton's countryman, Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest men of science of all time, whose birth took place in the year of Galileo's death (1642). He made the discovery of the laws of attraction between bodies, and was the writer of a great book, the Principia (1687), which was the start of a new Age in science and mathematics. "It may well be kept waiting one hundred years for a reader," said Kepler of his book, "as God has been waiting six thousand years for someone to make these observations" But the value of Newton's work was quickly seen, and before his death he was respected by all the men of learning in Europe. Great as his discoveries were, to himself Newton seemed to have done no more than get together some brightly-colored stones from the edge of the sea of knowledge, "like a little boy playing on the sands." He had a very deep feeling for religion, and all his science was undertaken with the desire to make clear the complex and beautiful work of a Great Designer.
The Renaissance was no less noted for its art than for its science. The most beautiful paintings in existence were done at this time, and the great painters were men of very wide interests and powers. Leonardo da Vinci was expert not only at painting, and at working in stone, bronze, and other materials, but at designing buildings and machines ; among other things he made designs for engines worked by water. And in addition to this, he was a man of science, who gave the first suggestion of a number of later discoveries. He became certain before Copernicus that the earth went round the sun, and before Harvey that the blood was moving through the body ; he had the idea of light-waves when the rest of Europe was still talking of light as a substance ; and he made some of the earliest attempts at flight.
Other great painters of the Renaissance were Michael Angelo, whose death was in the same year as Galileo's birth (1564), Raphael, and Titian -- all at work between 1450 and 1570.
One of he greatest workers in stone and metal was Benvenuto Cellini, who came from Florence, the birthplace of a number of the great men of the Renaissance. He has given us a history of himself which is a mine of interesting details about the times. One of his works of art was a beautiful salt-vessel for the King of France. It was all made of hand-worked gold, and was in the form of a man and a woman representative of the sea and the land. At the feet of the man was the sea, with its waves painted in their natural colors, and at the feet of the woman the land, covered with animals. Cellini says that when he put it in front of the King he gave a loud cry of surprise and was unable to take his eyes off it.
Of the writers of plays and verse whose works make the Renaissance so important, we will give here only one -- William Shakespeare, the greatest of them all. When Shakespeare came the Renaissance was no longer in its first flowering -- his birth was in 1564, the same year as Galileo's -- but he was a true son of that great Age.
All these great inventions, discoveries, new developments in science and in art, were part of that new birth which is named the Renaissance. With these changes a page was turned in the history of man. Men were faced by the facts that their earth was only one, and one of the smaller, of a number of possible worlds. At the same time it was far wider, and stranger, and more interesting earth than their fathers had had any idea of, offering unlimited chances for their hands and brains. And the new science was the key to it all. It is not surprising that a great number of the ways and ideas which had been current in Europe for a thousand years in a short time became things of the past. A new order of society was in process of birth.
While the Renaissance was in full flower, great changes and developments were taking place in religion. Even as early as the thirteen hundreds, attacks had been made, by John Wycliffe in England, and his supporter, Huss, in Bohemia, on the increasingly material outlook of the Church. Now as an effect of the new learning, the reaction against these things became stronger and more general. Men were no longer completely dependent on the Church for their ideas. They were learning from their reading of the Greeks and Romans to put questions and make comparisons for themselves.
About a hundred years after Wycliffe and Huss, their work was taken up by a number of others. Chief among these was Erasmus, the greatest man of letters of his time, whose book, Praise of Folly, had all Europe laughing at the foolish behavior of certain churchmen. The purpose of Erasmus and others like him was not to get men turned against the Church, but to make the Church itself put its house in order, as, in fact, it later did. As a way of effecting this, Erasmus had the New Testament printed in Greek, the language used by the writers.
On the first page of the book he said " "My eyes have seen the Pope walking at the head of a great army like Pompey or Caesar. St. Peter overcame men with religion, not with guns and armies."
The effect of this printing was electric. Never has a book been the cause of more interest and discussion. In France, one hundred thousand copies went in a very short time. As a noted writer of history* has said, we have become so used to the words of the Bible that it is hard for us to have any idea of the feelings of men seeing them in print for the first time.
Not long after this came to the front a German monk, Martin Luther, whose doing were in a short time the talk of all Europe. Erasmus, the man of letters, with his belief in the slow process of education, was greatly troubled about Luther, with whom the thought was father to the act. "The supporters of the Pope have my approval," Erasmus said in one of his books, "But I would be happier if they were wiser than they are. They would make a meal of Luther without giving it another thought. Whatever they do about him, it is all the same to me ; but they are wrong in taking him and me to be on the same side. Printing machines are at work everywhere. I have no power to put a stop to them, and it is not right to make me responsible for their foolish statements." But in the opinion of most of the churchmen of the time, Erasmus made the gun and Luther let it off.
Martin Luther is noted as the man chiefly responsible for the great development in the history of religion named the Reformation. A great number of those who saw what was wrong with religion, such as Erasmus, were men of learning who were only interested in making the Church conscious of its errors, and had no thoughts of taking steps against it. But for Luther, with his simpler outlook and stronger purpose, to see was to do, and he became the force which put in motion one of the most important changes in history.
He came from Saxony, where his birth took place in 1483. His father and mother were poor, and he was their oldest son. Luther's first act against the Church was caused by the coming of a Dominican friar to Wittenberg (where Luther was a teacher in the university) to get money for the building of Saint Peter's Church at Rome. On the door of the church at Wittenberg as paper was nailed by Luther giving ninety-five arguments against the way in which the money was being got. The effect of this was a surprise even to Luther. The news quickly got about, and in two weeks his act was causing violent discussion all over Germany.
At first, when protests were made to him, the Pope only said, "Brother Martin is am an of very great qualities, and all this outburst is only noise made by foolish monks." But when it became clear that because of Luther's arguments money for the building was no longer coming in as before, the Pope's supporters took steps against Luther. Bit by bit he was forced into open fight, and in 1520 he put an end to all hope of agreement by writing three papers attacking not only the Pope, but the teaching of the Church of Rome.
At the same time the Pope sent out a 'Bull,' as any order stamped by the Pope was named (from the Latin bulla, a stamp), making Luther an outlaw from the Church. All his books were ordered to be burned, and he was faced with cruel punishments if he did not take back his words before sixty days were over. In answer to this, Luther made a fire of the Pope's law-books in front of the university men of Wittenberg, and then put the Bull itself on the flames. Because he would not take back his words, he and his supporters were outlawed from the Church.
It was now necessary for the Emperor, Charles V, to make him an outlaw of the Empire, so that he might be taken and given punishment as a danger to the Church. The Elector of Saxony, who was Luther's friend got the Emperor to give Luther a hearing before taking any steps against him.
So Luther, armed with a special order for his safe-keeping, was ordered to come to Worms, on the Rhine, to a meeting of all the Kings and lords, the chief heads of the Church, and the representatives of the Holy Roman Empire. The Diet of Worms, as this meeting was named, is one of the most important events in history.
A friend of Luther's at Worms sent him a letter saying that he would be wise to go back, or he would be burned like the Bohemian, Huss, who had been put to death by the Church in somewhat the same conditions, even though he had had an order for his safe-keeping. But Luther made answer that he would go even if the number of those against him in Worms was as great as the number of bricks in its houses. "Though they put Huss to death his words are still living." Feeling was running high in Worms when he came. "Little monk, little monk," said a noted fighter, putting his hand on Luther's back when he was walking to the meeting room," you are going into a fight such as we military men never saw in our worst wars ; but if what you say is true, on, in God's name ! He will keep your safe."
Disgusted at first by Luther's simple unpolished air, Charles said, "This is not the man to make me give up the Church of Rome." But Luther said what he had to say so quietly, and clearly, and openly, with no sign of fear, that everyone was greatly moved. Though all the punishments of the law were facing him he would not take back one word. Looking round at the great company of men on whose decision his future was hanging, he said simply : "Here I am. There is no other way for me. God give me His help."
And so the meeting came to an end, at about eight on the night of Tuesday, April 15, 1521, with one simple monk of low birth facing without fear all the power of the Empire. The Spaniards, who were with Charles V (because he was the King of Spain and its great Empire) made outcries against Luther, but the Germans were very pleased with their countryman.
A great lord sent Luther a silver cup full of beer after first taking a drink from it himself, and the Elector of Saxony sent for him to say how well Father Martin had made his statement to the Emperor in Latin and German. They let him go back safely. Attempts were made to get Charles to put him in prison, even though he had been given an order of safe-keeping. But the Emperor would not do this, saying that, though the rest of men might no longer keep their word, Kings at least would still do so.
A month later, however, Luther was outlawed from the Empire. But he was never made a prisoner, because on his way back to Wittenberg the good Elector of Saxony had had him taken off by armed men to his great house of Wartburg, and kept him there for ten months under the name of 'Squire George,' dressed as a man of good family, with long hair. While he was there, Luther made a start at putting the Bible into German. This was the first important book printed in the German language, and a very great event in its history. When the danger was over Luther went back to Wittenberg, where he went on living till his death in 1546.
Luther was not very tall. As a young man he was so thin that his bones might be numbered, but when he got older he was quite fat. He was very upright and kept his head high. He had deep, dark eyes, bright as stars. 'The German Protestant or 'Lutheran' Church takes its name from him.
Erasmus had been hoping for changes inside the Church as an effect of the New Learning ; Luther went further, and facing death for the right of free thought, took as his authority the Bible in place of the Church.
Charles V later did his best to make the Empire give way to the authority of the Church of Rome, or Catholic Church. Certain rulers who were supporters of Luther made a 'protest' against this, and so got the name 'Protestants.'
It was not long before there was trouble all over Europe, and the fight between Protestants and Catholics so started went on for at least a hundred years after Luther's death.
Calvin and Loyola
This was the start of a general reaction against the Church of Rome which quickly made headway in other countries and under other men. One of these, the Frenchman Calvin, had gone from France, where the government was attempting to get the new ideas stamped out by cruel punishments, to Geneva. There he made himself 'Pope and Emperor' of the new church, ruling it with a rod of iron. He was very bitter against those whose views were different from his, and even got one man (Servetus) burned at a slow fire by the Inquisition. * The book for which the man was judged false to the Church was ordered to be burned with him, but, falling from his neck into the flames it was pulled out and may still be seen, with the marks of the fire on it, in the National Library at Paris -- a sad example of the cruel things which were done at this time in the name of religion.
Calvin had an even greater effect on the world than Luther, because his teaching was taken up by the Swiss, the Dutch, the Huguenots in France, and the Puritans in England, Scotland, and America, and became the controlling force in their schools. There was no place in this church organization for 'bishops' with a ruling position in the church. In his eyes all men teaching the Word were equal and might become 'elders' or head of his church.
And so new Protestant churches came into being. But at the same time changes for the better took place in the Church of Rome its self. The churchmen gave up their loose ways, and the Popes became again true men of God. One most important development was the starting of a new order of monks, the Society of Jesus, by a Spaniard named Ignatius of Loyola. Like the early friars, these Jesuits went into all parts of the earth to put down false beliefs and to make men Christian. Their stations were planted among Peruvian mines, in the markets of the African slave-trade, among the islands of the Indian Ocean, on the edge of Hindustan, in the towns of Japan and China, in the Canadian woods, and in the farthest parts of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Ignatius was, in fact, the chief of a great army fighting for God, the organization of which is almost without parallel.
----- * The organization which had been formed three hundred years earlier for the discovery and cruel punishment of those whose beliefs were not in agreement with those of the Catholic Church.
William of Orange and the "Beggars"
The division between Catholics and Protestants gave birth to a great number of wars of religion, of which the most important took place in the small country of Holland, which was then a part of the Spanish Netherlands.
William, Prince of Orange, named 'the Silent,' because he said little, is looked on by the Dutch as the greatest man in their history. It was he, who at last, made the North Protestant parts of the Netherlands free from the hated Spanish rule. All through his long fight of twenty-five years (1560-84) William was helping the Protestants, but at no time would he give any support to cruel and unbalanced acts done in the name of religion.
William of Orange was the oldest son of a father and mother who had become Lutherans. When he was eleven years old, the death of a relation made him the ruler of a great amount of land in the Netherlands, together with the little country of Orange in the south of France. In this way he became the Prince of Orange. He was given the education of a Catholic at Brussels, where he was one of the circle round Charles V, who had a very high opinion of him and gave him frequent signs of his approval. It was on William's arm that the great Emperor was supported when he gave up the Netherlands to his son, Philip II (1555).
There is little doubt that Charles was looking to William as the chief supporter of Philip's rule, with no thought that this boy of twenty-two would in the end be the cause of its downfall.
One day, when they were out on horseback in the woods of Vincennes (June 1559), the King of France, in the belief that the idea was no secret to William, gave him a full account of his and Philip's designs for the destruction of all the Protestants in their two Empires, chiefly by the use of Spanish military forces. William, though he was a that time a Catholic, was so deeply moved by the thought of all the good men who were going to be put to death for no reason, that he said to himself that he would do all in his power to keep this from coming about. His face was unmoved, however, and he gave not the smallest sign of his true feelings to the King by word or look. It was chiefly from his behavior at this time that he got the name of 'the Silent.'
When he went back to Brussels he gave it as his opinion that the best thing for the nation to do was to make a protest to Philip against having the Spanish army in Holland. So the government said that they would give Philip no money till the army was ordered out. Very angry, Philip went back to Spain, and never saw Holland again. Before he go on the ship he said bitter things to William about the decision. William made answer that it was the decision of the government, not his, but Philip was wiser. Taking William roughly by the arm, he give him a shake, crying loudly " "Not the Government, but you ! You ! You !" This was the first sign of trouble between the two who were later to be at war with one another for twenty-five years.
The Spanish army was taken away, but there was no change in Philip's views about religion. He said publicly that with God's help he would never let himself become the ruler of men who were false to the Church of Rome. Charles V had before this sent the Inquisition into some parts of the Netherlands. If a man was judged by that organization to be against the Church of Rome, he was handed over to the government for punishment. All judges were under orders to put the punishments into effect, but it was hard to make them do so. Then at last Philip put his foot down, and the Inquisition came into operation in every part of the country.
Public feeling against the Inquisition was so strong that an organization was formed and a protest was signed to be put before Philip's representative (his half-sister), who, full of fear, was on the point of flight. But William gave her his word that there would be no danger, and sent orders to the signers of the protest to come unarmed with their request. So between two and three hundred men of good birth came before the ruler with their letter requesting her to put an end to the Inquisition.
"What, Madam !" said one of her government. "Are you in fear of these beggars ? Let them be put out with sticks !" Three days later three hundred of them had a meeting at night at which, after putting salt into the great vessel of wine in the form of a basin of wood such as was used by the beggars requesting money in the streets, and hanging a beggar's bag round his neck, every man took up his glass with the words, "Long years to the Beggars !" Then they said these lines :
"By the salt, by the bread, by the bag.
The Beggars will keep to their purpose whatever comes."
The group, now taking the name of 'the beggars,' quickly became a nation-wide organization, and the stores everywhere were full of the little basins and bags which were the signs of its support.
The Netherlands now became the stage for attack after attack on the Church, worked up by men of all shades of opinion. They went about having meetings in the fields, till at last the more violent of their new supporters got completely out of control and did serious damage to the beautiful cathedral of Antwerp and hundreds of other churches all over the country. "They will make bitter payment for this," said Philip, and he kept his word.
A force sent by Philip's half-sister put to death almost every man of two thousand Protestants who were under canvas near Antwerp. But William kept them from open war in Holland and other parts ;and then it came to his knowledge that Philip was secretly getting an army together. Was it wise to put up a fight or not?
His friends in the government, Counts Egmont and Horn, said not. In a short time Brussels got news that Philip was sending an army to the Netherlands under the cruel Duke of Alva. Those in the government were now ordered to give their word before God to do everything desired by Philip or their positions would be taken from them. Egmont gave his word, but William, at last making his decision against Philip, would not (April 2, 1567).
"This will be the end of everything for you," said Egmont. "The loss of my property is nothing to me," said William ; "but you will be the bridge over which the Spanish armies will come into the country." Then the two old friends with sad hearts went their separate ways -- William going back to Germany, where he would be safe, Egmont and Horn waiting the coming of the Duke of Alva in the belief that the King would keep his word to them and give peace and order once again to their unhappy country.
Alva came into Brussels with a great army of twenty thousand men and six thousand horses. Egmont and Horn were put into prison and a new body was formed, named by the nation the "Council of blood,' for judging those who were against the King and his religion. Then Egmont and Horn were cruelly put to death, an act which made the Spaniards more violently hated then ever.
While all this was going on, William had been made an outlaw, his lands had been taken from him, and he and the army he had got together had been crushed in war. Alva, very pleased with himself, said in a letter : "The Prince may be looked as a dead man. He has no power and no credit." And then, after more than eighteen thousand person had been burned or put to death in other ways by the 'Council of Blood,' peace was made. The authority of Alva seemed to be complete.
But it was not so. Crushed, without support, and without money, as William was, he was still full of fight and full of hope. When friends said to him that he would never be able to get anywhere without the help of some great ruler, he only made answer : "When I look up the cause of these unhappy Christians, I was joining forces with the greatest of all rulers--God, who has power to keep us safe if such is His desire." It was very like him to take for himself the saying, "Quiet among the troubled waters."
Overcome on land, his supporters went to sea, where, under the name of the 'Sea Beggars,' they did much damage to Spanish ships, and at last took the town of Brill on April 1, 1572--a good April the First trick on Alva, as they said. This was the turning-point in the fight.
Later they were again helped by the sea, when, by the destruction of their sea-walls, they were able to go sailing over the fields to give help to the town of Leyden which was being attacked. At last, on a great day dear to the memory of all Holland, the seven divisions of the north Netherlands became united, and so the first step was taken in the forming of the Dutch Republic.
A price had been put upon William's head 'dead or living,' and three years later (July 10, 1584) he was given his death-wound by someone hoping for a reward. But the Dutch will keep the memory of him in their hearts for ever, as a lover and servant of his country as great as any in history.
Four years after this (1588) Philip II sent his great sea force, the Armada, against Elizabeth of England, who had given some help to the Dutch. The English were helped by the weather, and more than half the Spanish ships went down. This was a very serious blow to Philip, and he was forced to give up further attempts to overcome Holland. The outcome of this war on the Spanish power in the north was that Protestant Holland and England became the guiding stars of Europe in the great fight for free political opinions and free religion.
New ideas in religion
For about a thousand years there was only one Church, the Church of Rome in the west of Europe. Then there came into being, through the Reformation, a new Church side by side with the old. Most of the nations in the north, the Teutonic1 nations, became Protestant ; the nations in the south, or Latin2 nations, and Celtic Ireland wee true to the Catholic Church.
So violent was the effect of the Reformation on men's deepest feelings that almost every country took part in wars of religion.
The Catholic Philip II of Spain, with his great Empire in Europe and America, was by far the strongest ruler of the age. Like his father Charles V, his one desire was to keep Europe under the Pope -- and under a Spanish 'Caesar.' The 'Sea Beggars' of Holland and the 'Sea Dogs' of England kept off this attacks on these two small nations.
At the same time as he was attempting to overcome Holland and England, Philip was taking part in the wars of religion in France. In these wars four hundred towns, great and small, were burned or leveled to the earth. The most cruel event of the times was the surprise attack on Protestants on Saint Bartholomew's Day, 1572. In Paris, where, all unconscious of the danger, numbers of them had come to see the Protestant Henry of Navarre married to the King's sister, about two thousand Protestants were put to death in two days, and in the rest of the country probably ten thousand more.
After a long fight against Philip II, the head of the Protestants, Henry of Navarre, who was now King Henry IV of France, saw that he would never be able to keep his position if he did not become a Catholic. So he went back to the Church of Rome for political reasons ; but he still had the Protestants in mind, and in 1598, by a law named the Edict of Nantes, he gave them the right to keep their religion in peace. So he became the first king in Europe to take the view that there was room for different religions side by side.
Not long after this, the last and most violent of all the wars of religion took place in Luther's country. This was the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), which was started by some Protestants forcing three Catholics out of a window. Almost all Europe took part in it, and no war has ever been the cause of so much destruction. Not less than thirty thousand little towns were made waste. It was not till the eighteen hundreds that Germany fully got over its effects.
One outcome of the shocking events of this war was the first book3 on International Law, by Hugo Grotius, who had had to get out of Holland in a box because of his views on religion. In this work he put forward the argument that it was time for the Rule of Law to take the place of the Rule of Force between nation and nation -- in the same way as Law had at last taken the place of Force between man and man.
It was not till the end of the Thirty Years' War that Spain would have any relations with the new Republic of Holland a an independent nation.
The year after (1649), England had a revolution, or violent change of government, and another Protestant Republic came into existence for a time. The King, Charles I, was put to death for acting on his belief that Kings were responsible only to God, and for his support of the bishops of the English Church, who were attempting to make all the country go through the same forms of religion. Cromwell and Milton, fighting against him, took up arms for the idea that in these things everyone has the right to do as seems best to him. And so this was another war between two different views of what was right ; but, unlike the earlier wars of religion, it was the least cruel of all wars. The Republic came to an end with the death of Cromwell, and for a time the fight between Catholics and Protestants went on. But in 1688 the third William of Orange, head of the United Netherlands, who was married to a daughter of James II, was made King of England in place of James, and at the start of his rule a law was put into force giving everyone the right to his religion.
But only England among the great European countries did not give up the earlier idea of representative government, and of limiting the King's power by law, and was able to make the necessary adjustment of it to changing conditions. In other parts of Europe the rule of Kings with unlimited power went on.
After the Reformation and the revolutions in Holland (1572) and England (1649), came revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789). As Lord Acton4 says, England, America, and France have been the greatest forces in political development, but the Dutch made the start. It was the Dutch who went on from the idea of a free church to that of a free people. The cause was taken up by England in its turn, and now the fight became not for one church against another, but for the right of every man to have whatever form of religion seemed good to him.
It was the small independent groups in England -- the Nonconformists and the Quakers -- who were responsible for this further development. And it was a Quaker, William Penn, who, in an American colony, first put the new ideas into full operation. The fight to make men free in religion went hand in hand with the fight for political rights and more equal conditions of living, which has been the great undertaking of later history.
1. Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and the North German groups.
2 . France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, whose language and society are in great part based on those of the Romans, or Latins.
3 . De Jure Belli et Pacis ('Of the Lw of War and Peace').
4 . Lectures on Modern History.
"The World" becomes greater and greater
While the Renaissance and the Reformation were going on, Europeans were making journeys into parts of the earth never mapped before, sending our religion teachers, trading, and forming colonies overseas in new and old countries. The age of 'colonial' empires had come. Let us take a look at the discovery of 'the World' by the men of Europe.
One of the most interesting things in learning history is to see the growth of 'the world.' At any given time 'the world,' for men, has been that part of the earth of which they had experience -- the part in which they themselves were living, the seas across which their ships went, and the countries to which they made journeys for purposes of war and trade. Outside these limits there were great stretches of land and sea about which they had little or no knowledge ; strange nations, towns, and ways of living of whose very existence they had no idea.
The Greeks and Romans had chiefly to do with the small part of the earth round the Mediterranean Sea, and this was their 'world.' Other countries were only dark uncertain lands about which there were strange stories.
In the Middle ages 'the world' became a little wider. Slowly -- by journeying, trading, fighting and the teaching of religion -- its limits were pushed further out, and Germany, Poland, Scandinavia, and Ireland were taken into it. Hard-working kings and good churchmen gave their days to the expansion of Christian Europe -- woods were cut down, towns put up, and governments formed. The countries of the North, no longer 'barbarian,' took their places in the Christian World of the Middle Ages, and all Europe but Russia was one society, united by common ideas and ways of living. Russia, however, did not come into this society till much later.
In the fourteen hundreds 'the world' was looked on, roughly, as taking in Europe and North Africa and the parts of Asia touching Europe. Men were conscious of the existence of Persia and India, but little more than that. Some, like Marco Polo made journeys to China and had the most surprising experiences. But it was hard for Christian Europe to have any certain knowledge of Asia, because all the county at the east end of the Mediterranean was in the hands of the Mohammedans, so that even trade relations were to a great degree broken off.
Though 'the world' by that time was much greater than in the days of the Greeks and Romans, to most Europeans it was still very small. And then, at the very end of the fourteen hundreds, came suddenly, one after another, the greatest and most surprising discoveries which man has ever made.
These discoveries made Europe's world greater not only by the addition of America and Africa, but we may say, by that of Asia ; because, though trade in silks and spices had been going on between Europe and Asia for hundreds of years, the distance had been bridged in stages, and the number of persons who made the complete journey was very small -- specially after the Turks had taken the country between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. But now, through the sea-journeys of Vasco Da Gama, there was a new way to Asia -- a way which was in no danger from the Turks.
And so two sailors, taking their way over the seas -- da Gama and Columbus -- put America, Africa, and Asia on the map of the world. These discoveries came very quickly after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453), an event which is generally taken as the starting -point of present-day history.
It was quite impossible, after this, for the Europeans nations to go on in the old way without interesting themselves in the New and Old Worlds which had suddenly come to their knowledge. From the first their attention was turned to the new lands, and from about 1500 the history of Europe goes hand in hand with the history of America, Africa, and Asia.
It took the nations of the west of Europe a long time to get a knowledge of how to make profit out of the new parts of the earth. They took up one idea after another, learning slowly by experience the best ways of doing things, sometimes in relation to trade, sometimes to the mining of gold and silver, and sometimes to religion.
The American Revolution
The outcome of the attempts of the British in these new lands was the building up of the British Empire. That Empire is chiefly based on the great additions made to the world in the 1490's -- the great age of discovery. Newfoundland was the first place in the New World to come under British rule, as the fruit of John Cabot's journey from Bristol in 1497.
At the present day, when the word 'America' is used, it is generally North America which comes to mind. But in the fifteen hundreds the opposite was true. No one gave much thought to the north ; the south got for more attention. One reason why the growth of the British Empire took place in the north was because to the Spaniards and Portuguese that part seemed of little value.
The north was very different from the south. The number of persons in North America was very small for the size of the country, and those who were there were still at a low stage of development. There were no great nations, only nomad groups of Redskins still living in their Stone Age, attacking the animals of the woods and open spaces, and fishing in the great inland waters and rivers, with little property or desire for property in our sense of the word. But even so they were men to be respected in some ways.
Lovers of war, stopped at nothing in a fight, they were well able to take care of themselves and to make serious trouble for any one attempting to take away their country. Though kind to their friends, to those who had done anything against them they were very cruel ; they would themselves undergo the greatest pain without moving a muscle, but they were equally unmoved by the pain of others, and gave the most cruel punishments. They made the European colonies in the north very unsafe, and were greatly feared by the white men attempting to make a living there. They were not going to give up their country to the 'white faces' without a fight.
The French were the first to go far into this great new land of North America. The earliest man to make the attempt, Jacques Cartier, like Columbus, had no doubt that he was on the way to India and Cathay. When he made a landing at the place named by him Montreal (1535) it was with the idea of building a new France across the Atlantic. Another Frenchman, Champlain, went up the Saint Lawrence River and gave the town of Quebec its start (1608). A short time later, sailing in the Mayflower (1620), came a band of Puritans1, whose colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, was the starting point of English North America.
In the South and Middle America conditions were very different. Some of the groups living there, the Aztecs and the Incas, had been at a high level of development for hundreds of years. They had complex societies and strong governments. There were very old towns and great stores of money and goods. The houses. The houses of the kings in Mexico made those of he European prices seem small and poor in comparison. In King Montezuma's house there was a room with space for three thousand persons, and in the market-place there was room for fifty thousand traders.
There were gold and jewels enough to be a great attraction to the men of Europe, and there was little to keep them from getting their desires, because the South American nations were able to do nothing against the new European guns. Unlike the Redskins of the north, they were naturally kind and peace-loving, and with the guns and gunpowder of two or three thousand men, the Spaniards had the country at their feet in a very short time.
The Spaniard Cortes overcame Mexico (1519-21). He put an end to the chief Aztec town and made a better town in its place ; the land was wasted by his armies, and the old ways of living were broken up -- all for the purpose of building up what seemed to him a better society. Then another Spaniard, Pizarro, took Peru (1531), which is south of Mexico.
The great desire of Spain was gold ; at one time Pizarro sent back gold valued at [L]3,500,000 and a great mass of silver. Not only were there great stores of gold and silver vessels and ornaments, but the Spaniards quickly made the discovery that the value of the mines, which were still far from being used up, was almost unlimited. And it was not hard to get the mines worked ; the poor Peruvians were quite unable to put up any sort of fight against their new rulers, and, not much better than slaves, they let themselves be used for the profit of the Spaniards.
But this gold, got with so little trouble and so suddenly, made Spain give up the slower and more certain ways of increasing her income, and in the end she became one of the poorest of the European nations.
Taking all the facts into account, it is not hard to see why South America had more attraction for Europeans than North America. If they went south there was little danger, little work, and a quick way to a great income. But if they went north they were faced by long hard wars against nations of expert fighters, so far from one another that it was impossible for them all to be crushed, and so fixed in their purpose of never giving in that, in the end, the newcomers were almost certain to be overcome and cruelly put to death. And with all these dangers there was no quick way of making money, no gold or silver mines, and no one to do the work but the European himself.
For this reason the Spaniards and Portuguese, who were the first in the field, made their Empires in the south and middle. To make impossible any future arguments about their rights, they took the question to Rome, and the Pope made a division of the New World in the west between them. Portugal was to have Brazil and everything east of the line eleven hundred and ten mile west of Cape Verde Islands, and Spain was to have all the rest. This decision -- one of the last acts of Rome as Ruler of the World -- was looked on by them as putting an end to the question for ever.
But while these things were going on, the other nations were doing something themselves. The British were still looking for a new way of getting to India. The Spaniards had the way by South America ; the Portuguese had the way by South Africa ; and the Spaniards and Portuguese were not at all ready to let other nations send ships by these two ways, looking on any attempts to do so as almost acts of war. What other way was there? Some men had the idea that there might be ways not only by the south-east and south-west,but by the north-east and north-west -- round the north of America and Asia in addition to round the south.
And these men were right ; there are ways by the north-east and the north-west. but, unhappily, they are so far north and so covered with ice that they are of no use for going to India or any other place. Naturally, the sailors of the fifteen hundreds had no knowledge of this fact, and frequent attempts were made to get to India by these two ways. The conditions on these journeys were very hard -- little and poor food, the most biting cold, and long months without seeing a person other than those on the ship. Death from disease or other causes was common, and there was the further danger of violent outbursts among the men. All this was undergone in the hope of getting anew sea-way for England to the countries of the East. There is no story in history more moving or more full of great acts than that of the long attempt at the discovery of the North-west Sea-way.
It was not till the present day, with the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, that the old hope of a road to the East in that direction came true.
1 . The Pilgrims of Plymouth, 1620, were a mixed group seeking greater freedom. The over-religious Puritans ran from England in 1630 . One thousand people landed at Salem, Massachusetts, and more than doubled the English population of North American.
"Darkest Africa" and the Slave Trade
Portuguese sailors were the first Europeans to go down the west side of Africa and round the Cape of Good Hope, and between 1500 and 1800 they had far more to do with Africa than any other nation. This was not only because they had made the discovery of Africa, but because they (and the Spaniards) had such bitter memories of what the Mohammedans had done to them that they were all the time looking out for a chance of damaging their power.
After the Mohammedans had been forced out of Spain, the Spanish sent an army across the sea to overcome the Mohammedans of North-west Africa, which had been part of the Roman Empire and at one time Christian ; but in these wars they made little headway.
The Portuguese, for their part, went farther and farther south on the west side of Africa in the hope of getting to the Christian country of Prester John, about which there were such strange and interesting stories. 'Prester John' was probably another name for the Christian King of Abyssinia, whose rulers had, in fact kept out the Mohammedans and others who were not Christians for hundreds of years, as Prester John himself was said to have done.
The chief reason for the interest taken by the Portuguese in Africa was probably the desire for a safe way to the gold of India. Till the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) this was the chief purpose of the British and the Dutch in attempting to get land in Africa.
But to make safe the way to India, the Portuguese had first to overcome a strong Mohammedan power in East Africa, where Arab sailors were making high profits by trading in slaves, in addition to other things, between Africa and Asia. This Arab power was quite as much hated by the Africans as any European power. It was more cruel to them and did more damage to the country and the people than any other nation.
Any Europeans attempting to send colonies to, or to overcome, or even to make journeys into, the inner parts of Africa were faced by great dangers. The black men, or Negroes, had great power in the middle of Africa. In the Sudan and in the Sahara great Negro Empires had been formed by some of them, specially those who had come in touch with the Arabs from Asia and whose blood had been mixed with that of the Arabs. Timbuctu, the name of which has become a common saying for a far-off land, was the most noted of these African Empires.
Most of those attempting journeys across North Africa to get new knowledge about the county were put to death by these war-loving nations, or by the even crueller nomad groups which went up and down the land.
Even where there had been no connection with Mohammedans or Arabs to make the Negro hard and bitter against Europeans -- even south of Lake Chad -- the dangers in the way were almost as great. There were thick woods impossible to get through, great stretches of twisted undergrowth, full of snakes and insects whose bit was poison, and wet places where disease was waiting. The air and the weather were very unhealthy -- worst of all in the low land near the rivers, almost the only way by which it was possible to get into Africa. The Africans were generally bitter against the newcomers, and even where they were ready to be friends, the living-conditions were almost impossible for Europeans. It is, then, not surprising that for three hundred years there was very little knowledge of Africa and that it was named 'the Dark Continent.'1
In fact, Africa did not become truly part of Europe's 'world' till after 1800, though between then and 1900 such great headway was made that Europe will probably have even more effect on Africa than it will ever have on Asia.
1 . The five great divisions of the world named 'continents' are : Europe, Asia, Africa, American and Australia. America is divided into two continents, North America and South America. Antarctica (South Pole) is now considered a continent. This makes seven continents.
The British and Others in Africa
The British were the second nation to take an interest in Africa. The British and the Portuguese had been friends for a long time -- the great Portuguese of the fourteen hundreds, Prince Henry, 'the Navigator' ('the sailor'), was by birth half English. Englishmen went with the Portuguese sailors on some of their early journeys to the west of Africa, but when Spain took Portugal, England was free to go forward by herself.
Queen Elizabeth gave special rights to traders, and these were responsible for starting the English colony on the Gambia River. All through the sixteen and seventeen hundreds trading companies were increasing English trade and starting English colonies.
But not much came of all this at that time. The physical conditions were against the growth of English colonies in Africa like those of America ; and the strong Negro chiefs were able to keep the companies from getting control of great stretches of the country and the millions of those living in it, as they were doing at that time in India. By 1800 it did not seem as if the English would ever have much of West Africa under their rule.
Englishmen were, in fact, much more interested in trading in Africans than in ruling them. It was not for colonies but for slaves that they went to Guinea and the Niger country. The traders who had gone to West Africa for spices saw that there would be more profit in trading black men across the Atlantic. The quickest way to make money was by going into the slave trade. Sir John Hawkins, a good example of an Elizabethan seaman, is noted -- no credit to him in our eyes -- for being the first man trading in African slaves under the British flag, a business which was commonly looked upon with approval in those days.
The Mohammedans in the east of Africa had been doing a good trade in slaves for a long time. In Luther's time Charles V was sending African slaves to the Spanish colonies in South America, where the South Americans had been almost stamped out by the cruel conditions of Spanish rule, and other workers were needed to take their places. But it was not till the British had colonies in the warmer part of America that their slave-trade came to its highest development, because the Spaniards did their best to keep all the trade in slaves for the Spanish colonies to themselves. When Britain took some of the West Indies, and her American cotton fields were making a good profit, she had a great market for slaves in the English colonies, and in the seventeen hundreds about two million Negroes were shipped from Africa.
Even in the later seventeen hundreds British property in Africa was limited to a number of small colonies on the west side. Up to this time she had no more idea of building up an African Empire than she had had in the sixteen hundreds. In fact, it was more by chance than by any clear design that so much of Africa at last came under British rule.
Englishmen who were interested in the discovery of new countries, in sport, in trade, or in religion, one after another made their way into parts of Africa where white men had never been before ; some to see if the old stories about great rivers and towns were true, some to go after great animals, some to do trade in Manchester goods with the Negroes, some to put a stop to the slave trade, and some for the purpose of teaching the Word of God.
All these reasons took them farther and farther into the heart of the land. Then, if there was any trouble, and white men were put to death, the British Government saw itself forced to take things in hand, to take care of Britishers, to keep order, or to make conditions safe for trade.
And so, by degrees, much of Africa came under the British flag. The story of South Africa is the strangest in the history of European colonies. For another hundred and fifty years almost the only development was the growth of a harbor town (Cape Town) round which a little colony was slowly formed.1. Today, little more than a hundred years later, this long-untouched land is a great dominion looking forward to an ever greater future.
1 . South Africa was an empty grass land when Dutch farmers arrived and made a country. They discovered gold and Britain sent an army to take the land. Black Africans came to work in the mines and soon had more people than the British.
India's Rajahs and traders
For thousands of years the chief trade between Europe and Asia, and the best trade in the world, was in the jewels and spices of India. Long before the East India Company was formed by traders of Elizabethan England, India had been undergoing attacks by Mohammedans. Coming into the country through its north-west 'doors,' time after time they overcame its armies and took off the produce of its fields and mines. One noted Afghan King took an army into India no less than seventeen times in the attempt to make the Indians Mohammedan by force. The cruel Tamerland was the first of the Moguls (or Mongols) to make war on India (1398), and when he took Delhi he made a mountain of a hundred thousand heads !
But the country was not completely overcome by the Moguls till the fifteen hundreds. Under Akbar (1556-1605) all India -- Hindu and Mohammedan -- was united under one rule, and for a time had peace and wellbeing. Akbar was one of India's wisest and kindest rulers, and the English traders were full of stories of his gold and his power. He and other Mogul Emperors of India were noted for their great houses and mosques, as the Mohammedan churches are named, and some of the most beautiful buildings in existence were put up under the rule of Shah Jeham, a son of Akbar's son. The Taj Mahal, the tomb of is dearly loved Queen, the Pearl Mosque, a beautifully ornamented temple, and his seat with its framework of solid gold were among the most talked-of things in the world.
In the seventeen hundreds, however, the great Mogul Empire was coming to an end. The English and French East India Companies gave their support to one side or the other in the fighting between Indian Rajahs, and so came to have a hand in political events in India.
By the time William of Orange became King of England, great profits were being made by Indian traders. One of those traders was Thomas Pitt, Governor of Madras, whose son's son, William Pitt, became head of the English Government and was to a great degree responsible for the growth of the British Empire in India and Canada in the seventeen hundreds.
After the Reformation
The Reformation had put an end to the old Europe controlled by Emperor and Pope. What had before been a more or less united Christian society was now completely broken up into separate nation-states in competition with one another for power and money, for trade, and for colonies in the new lands overseas ; and these conditions are still to a great degree, with us. Chiefly as the outcome of the Reformation, the Dutch and English were the first to take up arms against rulers with unlimited power -- the first step in the long flight for the political rights of the masses which has been the great development of later history.
But it was a long time before the example of the Dutch and English had any effect on the other nations of Europe. Most of them went on being ruled by Kings over whom they had almost no control, and the common men had little part in their government. The Bourbons were in power in France, the Hapsburgs in Austria and Spain, the Hohenzollerns in Prussia, and the Romanoffs in Russia. These 'Great Kings' frequently took a very responsible view of their position, working hard to make their countries great, but in their relations with other nations they seemed to have no sense of right or wrong ; their designs were effected by the worst sort of false behavior, by force and by war. It is not surprising that the King of England, George III, said that political work was a low trade, not one for a man of good birth and straightforward behavior.
But the great changes, good and bad, for which these kings were responsible, did their part in undermining men's ideas and getting them ready for a complete reaction against the past -- such as came about suddenly in the French Revolution (1789). That violent outburst put an end to the Bourbon rule in France, but it was not till after the Great War of 1914-18 that Europe saw the last of the Great Kings.
Peter the Great of Russia
At the time of the Reformation the great and still half-barbarian country of Russia was under strong rulers named Tsars (possibly a form of 'Caesar'). In the Middle Ages Russia had been ruled first by the Northmen, and then, for two hundred years, it had been a part of the Empire of the Tartars of Asia.
At last (1430) the Russians made themselves independent of the Tartars, and the Prince of Moscow became the ruling power. In 1547 one of these princes, Ivan, took the name of Tsar of Russia. Ivan was named 'the Cruel,' and with good reason -- he had any of his chiefs who made trouble given to the dogs ! However, like Charles V before him, he became a monk in his last years (1584).
The most noted Tsar after Ivan was Peter the Great (1689-1725), who, though still ruling with a rod of iron, was a man who had great designs for his country. His purpose was 'to make a bridge between Europe and Asia' and to put Russia on the same plane of development as the countries of the West. To get the experience necessary for this, he went about Europe for two years taking note of everything -- going to the hospitals, museums, and libraries, getting medical knowledge, going over grain-crushing, paper-making, and printing works, and even putting on the dress of a common workman and working with his hands for a time at the shipbuilding trade. In England he was greatly surprised by the great number of law-experts in full dress at Westminster. "Why !" he said, "I have only two such men in all my Empire, and I am going to put one of them to death when I get back !"
In forcing the ideas and ways of the West so suddenly, however, on the Russians, who were half of the East in their outlook, Peter was attempting to go more quickly than was wise. Fear of him kept the unhappy Russians from open protest, but in their hearts they were bitterly against these 'changes for the better,' specially when they were made to take the hair off their chins and to put on European dress.
Till Peter's time Russia had been a land-locked Empire with no way out to the open sea, because the White Sea was shut in by ice and the Caspian was an inland water. To get outlets to the sea it was necessary to go to war with the countries in the way. "War is the business of kings," Peter said to his feudal chiefs ; "attacking animals is for slaves."
Now at this time the Swedes had a great King, Charles XII, and a great Empire on the Baltic, and the Turks were in control of the Black Sea, shutting in Russia north and south. So Peter went to war with the Swedes and the Turks. After a number of ups and downs he at last made a peace with Sweden by which Russia was given the Swedish lands at the east end of the Baltic. Against the Turks, however, he made little headway. After much fighting he took Azov on the Black Sea, but only to have it taken back by the Turks later.
On the land given up by Sweden, Peter put up a great town, Saint Petersburg, which was to be for Russia 'a window looking out on the West.' The new town went up on the wet fields of the river Neva as if with the help of a power greater than man. In one year it was done, but at the price of thousands of deaths among the workmen. St. Petersburg, with its great squares, its tall churches covered with gold and bright as jewels in the sun, was a work truly representative of the great ruler.
In this way Peter made Russia one of the great nations of Europe. In the space of one rule, by the force of one man, Russia came out of the shade into a place in the sun. But he was a 'barbarian' to the last. He even put his son to death some years before he himself came to his end. "Let not your hearts be turned from me because of all my wrongdoing !" were his last words, put down in a shaking hand on a bit of paper.
Some years after Peter's death Russia and the other countries near her made, to their shame, a division among themselves of another Slav country, Poland -- the first and worst example of the cruel wrongs done in the name of nation-building. That troubled, unhappy country, whose great king had, only a little before Peter's time, kept the Turks from Vienna (1683), was taken completely off the map by one of the greatest crimes in history.
A little less than two hundred years later the behavior of the Turks to the Christians under their control was the cause of the Crimean War (1853-56) between Russia and Turkey, in which fear of the increasing power of Russia made France and England give their support to the Turks. The outcome put an end to Russia's attempts at further expansion in Europe, and after this her attention was turned chiefly to Asia, where all this time she had been slowly pushing forward. Before long she had got to the Pacific in one direction and to the north limit of India in another.
Almost up to our day the relations between Russia and other countries have been controlled by three fixed ideas handed down from the time of Ivan the Cruel -- the desire to become head of the Slav peoples ; the desire to get a free outlet on the Baltic and the Black Sea ; and the hate of her earlier rulers, the Tartars, turned equally against the peoples of middle Asia and the Turks of Constantinople.
Louis XIV of France
At about the same time as Peter the Great of Russia and Charles II and James II of England, there was living the most noted of all the Great Kings of Europe, Louis XIV of France (1643-1715). Never before had the government of France seemed so strong or so great as in the days of its 'Sun King.' He was by far the ablest man ruling by right of birth in later history. His power was unlimited ; the noted saying L'eat, c'est moi--' I am the State' -- the political organization of the country -- gives very well his idea of the position of a King.
It was Louis who put up Versailles with its beautiful gardens, and made it the meeting-place of the most highly polished society. The flower of French art and learning was grouped round him, and Versailles was ruler of the world in taste and in dress. In the morning, while he was being dressed, Louis gave a hearing to those who had come to see him, and these levees were copied by ruler everywhere. His were the great days of French building and of the French theatre.
Profiting by the example of Louis, every King and little ruler in Europe at this time was building a circle of the same sort round himself, using as much money as his nation and credits would let him. Among the looking-glasses and other beautiful things in the great houses of those days strange-looking men went about dressed in silk, with delicate openwork falling over their hands, and high powdered structures of false hair on their heads, balancing themselves in tall red shoes and supported by long thin sticks of polished wood ; and even more strange-looking women, with even greater masses of powdered hair, and wide skirts of silk supported on wire frameworks. And in the middle of it all was the great Louis, the sun of his society, smilingly acting his part -- all unconscious of the thin, unhappy, bitter faces looking at him from the dark places to which his rays took no comfort.
One of the most important things in the story of Europe after the Reformation is the great part take by France in British history. When Cromwell made a military agreement with France he was helping to make her strong. He had no idea that she would become a danger to England. But Louis XIV was a friend of the later Stuart Kings in their fight against the government, and was in no small degree responsible for the troubles caused by them.
Further, it was Louis' fixed purpose to get control of Europe -- like Spain in the fifteen hundreds and Napoleon in the eighteen hundreds. There was war between Britain and France again and again for a hundred years after William III of Holland became King of Great Britain in 1688.
The great desire of French rulers has ever been the expansion of France to what seem to the French her 'natural limits' -- the Rhine, the Pyrenees, and the Alps. A short time before Louis became King she had got to the Pyrenees and was touching the Rhine in Alsace. Spain's power had gone down after the Armada, and Germany was still feeble from the wars of religion, and this gave Louis XIV great hopes. His idea was to get to the Rhine through Flanders, and on the death of the Spanish King, Charles II (1700), he saw his chance, not only of taking Flanders but of controlling all the Empire of Spain. Charles having no offspring, had made the son of a son of Louis the ruler of Spain after him, and though it was certain that England, Holland, and Austria would never let France keep so much power in Europe without a fight, Louis was ready to make the attempt. This was the start of a war which went on for twelve years, not only in Europe but in America. In the end a peace was made by which Austria was given a great part of the Spanish Empire in Europe, England got Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay country from the French in North America, and Spain and its colonies went to Philip V (the ruler named by Charles) on condition that Spain and France were never united. So Spain was not joined to France though it was ruled by a Frenchman.
But the masses of common men under the Great Kings probably had very little idea what all the fighting was about, and certainly saw no good coming to them from it.
From Charlemagne to Napoleon there was no King so looked up to as Louis XIV. But present-day opinion about him is very different from that of his time, and if we put the question, "Who did most for the destruction of the 'old order' in France ?" the true answer is , "Louis XIV, its greatest representative."
It took more than one thousand million francs of the nation's money for the buildings and gardens of Versailles, and the King had fifteen other houses in addition.
Louis himself seemed to see the error of his ways on his death-bed (1715), and his last words were : "Do not take up my love of building and of war ; do something to make existence less hard for the men and women of France."
One of La Fontaine's stories give us a picture of the unhappy French countryman of those days. An old woodcutter with branches on his back, bent and protesting under his weight of wood and years, was walking with slow steps, attempting to get back to his poor little house. At last, overcome by pain and sad feelings, and unable to take another step, he put down his wood and gave himself up to viewing his cruel condition.
"What pleasures have I in this existence ? Is there anyone on the round earth as poor as I am? My woman, my sons and daughters, the army men forced on me for food and beds, my taxes, my debts, and the work from which I am never free -- all make a complete picture of the unhappiest of existences."
Frederick the Great of Prussia
Berlin, now the German seat of government, was for a long time a small town in the flat, uninteresting, half-Slav land of Prussia, outside the limits of the true Germany. Its rulers slowly made it a strong country, till, in the time of Frederick the Great (1740-86), Prussia became one of the European Powers.
Like most Prussians, Frederick had great belief in military power. One of his desires was to have in his army a division of men well over six feet tall. An Irishman seven feet high was seen in London by the head of the Prussian Embassy, and was given about 1,300 pounds to go to Frederick -- very much more than the Prussian representative himself go in a year.
Further light on the qualities of Prussia's Great King is given by a noted story. "How goes our school business?" he said one day to the man in control of education. "Very well," was the answer ; "in the old days, when the general opinion was that man had a natural tendency to be bad, school teachers were very hard ; but now, when it has been made clear that man has a tendency to be good, school teachers are more kind." "Ah !" my dear man," said Frederick, "you haven't as great a knowledge of men as I have."
It was in the time of Frederick, with his low opinion of men, that the long fight between Austria and Prussia was started. Frederick, seeing his chance while Maria Theresa, the daughter of the newly dead Emperor, was having trouble in getting control of her Empire, took an army into Silesia and made it his. At first Maria Theresa was forced to let him have it, but later France and Austria, though they had been on opposite sides for hundreds of years, became united against the Prussian King, and the outcome was the Seven Years' War (1756-63), in which almost every country in Europe took part. And so the crime of taking Silesia was 'the little stone broke loose from the mountain,' rolling against others, great and small, which in their turn went rolling against others till all the mountainside was in motion. The effects of this war were not limited to Europe, but were in the full sense world-wide.
In Europe it was the start of a fight which was never truly ended till a hundred years later, when after completely crushing the armies of Austria and France, Prussia at last became the chief power in Europe.* In America, India, and on the seas, it was one of the greatest fights in history for overseas colonies and trade, and for the sea power on which these are dependent.
The two chief fields of war overseas, India and North America, were very different. In India there was a great nation whose learning went back to the earliest times ; but in the great tree-covered stretches of North America there were only some nomad groups of Red Indians and a small number of French and English colonies edging its rivers and seas. Black men were fighting one another in India, and red men were putting one another to death in America, so that Frederick of Prussia might keep the land he had taken by force and trick.
But the war had much greater effects than this. The far-seeing English Prime Minister, William Pitt, head of the government almost all through the war, made Canada and India parts of the British Empire by siding with Frederick the Great.
Three of the fights of the Seven Years' War made future history for hundreds of years to come. That of Rossbach was the first step in the new birth of Germany, the long process by which it became united under Prussia and the Prussian Kings. After Plassey, where Clive made the name of England feared and respected by the rajahs of India, Europe became important in the East as she had not been from the time of Alexander the Great. Wolfe's great fight against Montcalm at Quebec gave the power of France in North America its death-blow, and the United States of America its start. By taking away the fear of the French, which had been keeping the colonies under the wing of the mother country, and by opening the way to the Mississippi basin, Pitt had made possible the birth of the great American Republic.
* Prussia overcame Austria at Sadowa in 1866, and France at Sedan in 1870.
And so, from the story of the Great Kings, we see how the wars of religion after the Reformation gave way to wars for trade and colonies. the nations went to war against one another for their private interests. They had no thought of forming part of a greater organization, such as the Church and the Empire of the Middle Ages, when 'the world' was smaller. Chiefly for this reason the theory of the rights of nations seems to one great writer to be 'a step back in history.' That is an idea on which a very interesting discussion might be based.
Washington and the British of the U.S.A
In the Seven Years' War England had taken Canada from the French (1759). But it was not long before this addition to her Empire was balanced by the loss of her thirteen American colonies, which had been slowly building themselves up from the time of the Stuarts.
The American Revolution was started by trouble about taxes, but the true causes went much deeper. Unlike the colonies of France and Spain, the British colonies had from the first been very free. It is true that their trade and business were controlled by the mother country, but in those days that was looked upon as quite natural, though, sometimes a little hard to put up with. Again, the British Kings were responsible for keeping those under the British flag safe from attack wherever they were, even in America ; and it seemed to them only right for Britons overseas, as in Britain, to make some payment for the upkeep of the necessary forces.
To the colonies, however, the danger from the French seemed to be over after they had been crushed at Quebec. And when the attempt was made to put a tax on them for the purpose of keeping a small regular army ready against any future attack by the French, the old English cry went up, 'no taxes without representatives' -- though the three thousand miles of sea between England and America made the idea of America's having representatives in the British Government seem impossible. It was, however, a new thing for the colonies to be taxed by anyone but themselves, and they made so much trouble that for a time the idea was dropped. But in 1773, when a new though small tax was put on tea, violent protests, street fighting, and war came quickly, one after the other.
One night some men went to the tea-ships, in Boston harbor and the chests of tea were pushed into the Atlantic. That was the first act in one of the greatest revolutions in the history of ordered society. The American position was based on natural law -- the right of free development. But by the ideas which had been in force up to then, England had the right to the control of the colonies to which she had given their start. By the new idea she had no such right, and the colonies were free to keep up the connection with her or not, as seemed best to them.
But they had at first no thought of separating themselves from England, and there was strong feeling against this even as late as 1776. Great numbers of the Americans, however, came from strong-minded Puritan families used to fighting for their rights, and they had all the Englishman's love of being free. A hate of outside control had taken root in the colonies, unconsciously made stronger by the fact that they were able to take care of themselves, and by the behavior of the English, who had had little to do with their development, and had, in fact, very little knowledge of American conditions. "Great Empires and little minds go badly together," as Burke said.
With Jefferson as their head, in 1776 the colonies made their noted 'Declaration of Independence' : "These United States are, and have the right to be, free and independent." and with this statement a new nation came into existence.*
* In the same year the American government made it against the law for any more slaves to be sent into the thirteen United Colonies, though it was not till almost a hundred years later, after the great war between the North and South, that the use of slaves was put a stop to.
The head of the army in the war against England (1776-83) was George Washington, one of the greatest of all Americans. The Americans were untrained in war, but they had a good knowledge of their country, which the British had not. With the war came the hard conditions and bitter experiences which come with all wars. The Americans were in great need of clothing and other necessary things. In the second winter a great number of them were without shoes, and the road taken by the army was marked with blood from their feet. Because there were not enough bed coverings, they frequently had to be up all night, attempting to keep themselves warm round the fires. Every day more men became ill through cold and need of food, and numbers of them came to their death simply because they had nothing to put between them and the ice-hard earth.
Then, in the darkest our of the fight, when for a time the control of the seas had been taken from Britain, but the outcome was still uncertain, France came into the war on the side of America. This was the turning-point. With the help of the French, the British army under Cornwallis was forced to give way at Yorktown (1781), and a peace was signed making the United States an independent nation.
The great Washington was now faced with questions of peace no less hard than those of war, because the different histories and interests of the colonies had made deep divisions between them. How was the new 'republic' to be ruled ? After long discussion the decision was made to let every colony keep its separate government for controlling its private business, but to have, in addition a United States Government, with a President and two Houses of Representatives, to be responsible for the common interests of all -- for example, land and sea forces and the making of war and peace.
Washington became the First President of the United States and the true father of present-day America. He was of good birth ; the family from which he came had been supporters of Charles I in England, and had gone out to Virginia after Cromwell came into power. As a young man he was expert at all sports, healthy and strong, and used to hard work. While he was President he did his best to get everyone working together in the pubic interest, united in love of country and desire for the common good. He himself had no love of power, and was happiest when living quietly at his house in Mount Vernon, looking after his land. He did his work truly and well, with no thought of self, and he will ever be respected for his great qualities and for what he did for his country.
Before his death a bitter political argument took place between two other great Americans, Hamilton and Jefferson. The outcome of this was the organization of the two great political groups, the Democrats and the Republicans, which are still the chief division of American political opinion.
The New Democracy
In this way the fight for political rights started by the English and the Dutch was taken a step further by the Americans.
In their 'Declaration of Independence' the Americans put forward a full statement of the new belief in 'Democracy,' that is, in the 'Right of the Masses' by natural law. It is the argument of the Declaration that all men are equal by birth ; that God has given them certain rights ; that among these rights to go on living, to be free and to be happy ; that it is for the purpose of keeping these rights safe that governments are formed, and that their power is based on the approval of those who are ruled ; that whenever any form of government gets in the way of the purposes for which it was formed, it is the right of the masses to make changes in it or to put an end to it.
The Frenchman Rousseau had been teaching ideas like these in his Social Contract, printed some years before the American Declaration.
But the old order went on for some time longer in the Old World of Europe. There the Great Kings were still ruling with complete power. The masses were crushed under a weight of taxes, with no schools for education and no part whatever in the government. Everywhere the workers on the land were little better than slaves, still forced to do as they were ordered by their feudal chiefs. Only in France were they somewhat better off and more awake to new ideas.
And it was France which was the first nation in Europe to take up the cry of the American Revolution. While America was fighting to make itself free, Louis XVI of France and his beautiful Queen, Marie Antoinette, were living at Versailles in the way started by Louis XIV, in a round of pleasures and amusements. Money was being wasted in every direction; four thousand persons had positions waiting on the King, and five hundred on the Queen. Louis XVI was only hoping that the cloudburst would not come in his time ; but it had been clear even to Louis XV's carefree circle that trouble was in the air.
The American Revolution had, further, made important the complex question of the government of Empires. What was the right system of ruling an Empire in view of the new ideas, and what part of the income necessary for its upkeep was to come from the different colonies ? The British Empire gave its answer to the first question by taking up the 'Federal' system -- that of a group of countries united under one rule for purposes of their common interests, but in other ways having full self-government, as the Dutch for a small country and the Americans for a great one had done before them.
On the question of payments for the upkeep of Empire nothing very important has so far been done, but in time of war the British dominions have up to now freely given their support to their common flag.
France had had no small part in the American Revolution. Numbers of Frenchmen had been fighting in the American army, and it was with that help of the French sea-forces that the scale was at last turned against the English. Not long after, France itself was faced with Revolution (1798).
The writings of Voltaire and Rousseau had made the way ready for new ideas. Voltaire (d. 1778) had said whatever seemed true to him without fear and without respect. He was specially bitter against what were in his eyes the false beliefs of the Church, and his violent attacks on it were very damaging to its power. He was quick to take the side of the poor and unhappy or those who were wrongly attacked. He made comparisons between the condition of England and that of France, opening the eyes of his countrymen to their wrongs. It was he who made current the noted saying, "I am the State," as representative of the ideas of Louis XIV and those who came after him ; and he saw clearly where these ideas were taking the country. "Everything I see is planting the seeds of revolution. Happy the young, because their eyes will see it."
Rousseau took up the work of Voltaire, and his ideas went even further. His great book, The Social Contract (1762) had thousands of French readers. Its argument was that 'the Public is the State' and that the power of kings is based on the general desire, on public approval. Its opening statement had the effect of an electric shock : "Man is naturally free, but everywhere he is now in chains. One seems to himself the ruler of others, but is, in fact, more of a slave than they are."
Looking at history it seems to us more true -- at any rate in connection with present-day Europe -- to say that there are six thousand years of development between what man 'naturally' is and what he is now. But thought, even when it is in error, is 'stronger than armies.'
The condition of their country made Frenchmen very ready to give attention to the new teachings. Even 'tyrants' have to be able men or they will not long keep their power, and the Kings who came after Louis XIV were not able. Canada and India had been taken from them. Their frequent wars had been very dear, and a bad system of controlling public money made things worse. The French government was so deeply in debt that it was almost impossible for it to get credit. But the great families and the churchmen, owners of almost two-thirds of the land, were free from taxes, and for a very long time most of the money had had to come from the workers.
The true causes of the French Revolution go very deep ; it was the outcome of a long chain of causes coming down from feudal days.
Because of his money troubles Louis XVI (1774-93) did what no French king had done for almost two hundred years -- he gave orders for a meeting of the 'Estates,' or House of Representatives, of France.
The First Act : "The Rights of Man"
The Estates came together at Versailles in May 1789. Jefferson, the great American, gave it as his opinion that the wisest thing for French lovers of their country to do would be to put through straight away all the changes for the better which they had the power to make. But there was trouble from the first about the organization of the Estates, which was still based on the old feudal system. It was made up of three divisions : the great landowners, or 'nobles,' the Church, and the Third Estate, or 'Commons.' These three groups had their meetings separately, and all had an equal voice, so that the first two, working together, had the power to put a stop to any changes desired by the third which were against their interests. To a nation fired by Rousseau's ideas of equal rights, this was an impossible position, and it was not long before the Third Estate, turned its back on the others, gave itself the name of 'the National Assembly,' as being, in fact, the body representative of all the nation. Later it was joined by the other two Estates, and in this way the first truly representative government in Europe, outside England, came into being.
But all this time nothing had been done for the needs of the country. Conditions in France at this time were very bad ; it had been a poor year for the farmers the year before, and bread was dear, and these facts made it even harder to keep order in the country. In July there was a violent outburst, and the old government prison named the Bastille was attacked and pulled down. To some of the great families it seemed safer to get out of France. In the country there was a strange wave of fear ; "the outlaws are coming," said the poor. When no 'outlaws' came, the feelings which had been worked up were turned against the 'old order' ; the houses of great landowners were attacked and feudal records burned.
Then at last, in one long meeting (August 4, 1789), the National Assembly put an end to the feudal system, all payments to the Church for land, and all payments to the Pope. After long discussions there was produced the great Declaration of the Rights of Man, the chief points of which are that all men come into the world with equal rights, that power is in the hands of the masses, that all are equal in the eyes of the law, and that the free exchange of thought and opinion, even in religion, is one of the most important Rights of Man.
While this was going on a new sort of society, based on interest in public events, was coming into being in France, with a great number of newspapers, political groups and clubs, and meetings in the houses of women of high position, where the talk was chiefly political and the most important men in the new France were frequently to be seen. Not long before the troubles of 1789 there was printed a small political work which probably had more effect than any other such writing in history. Its argument was : "What is the Third Estate ? Everything. What has it been in the political field up to now ? Nothing. What is its desire ? To become something."
Again it was a bad year for grain. The women of Paris were in need of bread. They went on foot to Versailles and made the King and Queen and their little son go back with them to Paris (October 1789), in the hope that if the King was there something would be done for their worst needs. This put the King and his family in a very hard position. They quickly made the discovery that they were, in fact, prisoners, and, having no power to do what was desired of them, there was every danger of the unhappy masses turning against them.
The Second Act : "The Rule of Fear"
The other Great Kings of Europe had now become seriously troubled, specially the Emperor of Austria, who was the brother of Marie Antoinette ; and, at the request of the nobles who had got out of the country, they were getting ready to take armies into France. This made Paris very angry, and the masses took control of the town. Frenchmen came from Marseilles with the new song, which became the song of the French nation (the Marseillaise), and the public got more and more worked up. War was made on Austria, which as quickly joined by Prussia. With attackers outside and in, France was in the greatest danger.
But the burning love of the French armies for their country made them stronger than the incoming forces, which were crushed at Valmy (September 20, 1792). The outcome of this fight went to the heads of the French, and they sent out offers of help to any nation desiring to overcome its rulers. The day after Valmy France was made a Republic. The unhappy King, who had foolishly made an attempt at flight to Austria, and so given color to the idea that he was on the side of the outlaw nobles, came before the judges for 'working against the Republic,' and was put to death in January 1793. Some months later the Queen came to the same end. France, while she was still fighting with Austria and Prussia, then made war on Holland and Britain, and in a short time was at war with all the countries round her.
At first the Revolution had been watched with some approval by Britain. But most Englishmen were by this time shocked by the cruel things done in its name, and public feeling was turned against it.
Power was now in the hands of a group of the revolution's most violent supporters -- Danton, Robepierre, Marat, and others, whose idea was to make the Republic safe by simply putting an end to everyone who had the smallest love for the old order. From September 2, 1793, to July 1794, Paris was a town of death ; men went from house to house looking for those who were not in full agreement with the government, and all who, by reason of birth, word, or act, were judged to be against the Republic, were taken in carts to have their head cut off by the guillotine, the new instrument of death which was the invention of Dr. Guillotin.
But there came a reaction against this rule of fear even among those who were responsible for it. Danton, who had at first been one of the chiefs of the group, became tired of blood, and went to his death in an attempt to make the government see reason. For a time the cruel Robespierre was in complete control, but it was not long before he himself came under the knife to which he had sent hundreds of others, and with his fall the 'Terror,' as it was named, came to an end.
The Third Act : The Emperor for Ever
Not long after this there came to the front the 'strong man' of whom France was at that time so badly in need, Napoleon Bonaparte. On October 5, 1795, he put down the last outburst of the Paris masses by giving them 'a taste of gun-fire.' In a short time he mad made order in the land and done such great things in war that all the nation was at his feet. He was one of the greatest military chiefs in history -- expert not only in the science but in all the tricks of war. He took his armies all over Europe (1795-1813), planting the ideas of the Revolution and the seed of political change wherever he went.
Again and again he overcame the Great Kings. The Austrians were put out of the Netherlands and Italy (1796-1797). Austria and Prussia were crushed at Austerlitz (1805), and Prussia again at Jena (1806). From Berlin after overcoming the Prussians, he sent out his 'Berlin Decree,' an order to do as much damage as possible to British trade. In the same year he put an end to the Holy Roman Empire or, more truly, the shade of it, which had gone on in name for hundreds of years. The year after that (1807) he got the Tsar of Russia to make peace, and a secret agreement to give him support in his designs in Europe.
Up to then the only forces which had got the better of him had been British sea-forces. Nelson had overcome Napoleon's ships at the Nile (1798) and so put an end to his idea of copying Alexander in the East, or at least of damaging England's power by taking Egypt. Again at Trafalgar (1805) Nelson gave the death-blow to his hopes of forcing England -- the one country which had never made peace with him -- to her knees. Napoleon had even seemed to have hopes of taking an army into England. At any rate he had had forces and boats ready at Boulogne, but his purpose may not have been serious, because he had, in fact, taken them away before he got the news of Trafalgar.
At last, however, Napoleon was crushed on land. His Berlin Decree, among other things, was the cause of war with Russia. He took his great army on foot all the way to Moscow (1812), but when he got there the Russians had gone and the town was in flames. It was impossible to get food, and he had to go back. Of the half-million men of different nations whom he had taken to Russia, only about one-twentieth came safely through the cruel journey back from Moscow in the bitter cold of the Russian winter. Even so, when Napoleon was driving past his men half-dead in the snow, the cry went up, "The Emperor for ever !"
This crushing blow to Napoleon put heart into the nations of Europe, and they took up arms against his rule, as Spain had done some years before. The year after Moscow he was overcome at Leipzig (1813) by the united Russians, Austrians, and Prussians. At the same time Wellington was taking his armies into France from Spain, where he had long been fighting the French with the help of the Spanish.
On March 13, 1814, the united armies were in Paris, and France was forced to make peace. Napoleon's power was taken from him and he was made ruler of the little island of Elba, on condition that he never again put foot in Europe. Then the kings and representative of the old order came together at Vienna to undo his work as far as possible. But less than a year later Napoleon got away from Elba, put himself at the head of the French army, and for a hundred days was again a danger to Europe. His last fight came at Waterloo (1815), where he was overcome by the united armies of England and Prussia, and this time he was sent to the island of Saint Helena, far away in the Atlantic, for the rest of his existence.
Napoleon's downfall was in the end, caused by the nations of Europe. He had overcome the Kings, but in doing so he had made the nations conscious of themselves as never before, and it was this new public feeling which in the end was stronger then he.
Napoleon the Man
Napoleon's great qualities were clearly marked when he was still very young. Even when he was only a small boy of four or five he was quite without fear. When he was a man there was a strange attraction about him which men said was overpowering. He had the power of making his men do great things in the field, and it was this more than anything which made him so loved by them. As he said himself, he became King of France by first becoming king of the army.
His military decisions were taken so quickly, and his acts were so sudden and full of force, that those against him were unable to keep up with him. At one time he was in the field for five days without sleeping or even taking his boots off ; after which, when the other side was overcome, he went to sleep for thirty-six hours.
He was great not only as a military chief but as a ruler and law-giver. Unhappily for Europe, his great qualities were clouded by his love of war and of power for himself, making him a force for destruction as much as for good. Though, at the start, he may have been moved by a true love of France and a belief in democracy, after he had a taste of power he was like an animal which has had a taste of blood, desiring more and more.
"If I am seen three times at the theater" he said, "the public will have no more desire to see my face. Even now its interest in me is getting less. Tis little Europe does not give me enough chance of keeping my name bright." In his desire for power and a great name he had no care for the destruction of Europe in war, though he was not naturally cruel. There were almost four million deaths in the wars caused by Napoleon between 1804 and 1815.
When the turn came and events at last went against him, his downfall was as sudden as the growth of his power. When he got back to Paris after Waterloo he was so changed, and so slow in coming to any decision, that his brother said his brain had been turned by the smoke of war.
He was short and good-looking, well-made, with a clear, dark skin, dark eyes, and a hard, cold look. He was one of the greatest men in history -- "as great as any man may be without being good."
Much of the dead wood of the Middle Ages had been cut away by the French Revolution in its early and best years. Napoleon himself had no use for Rousseau's teachings ; he became, in fact, the greatest of Great Kings. But it was through him that the changes made by the Revolution had their effect on the rest of Europe. He was the maker of present-day France, giving her order in addition to a great military name, and he gave to her and to Europe a great Code (or system) of Law. In Italy and Germany his changes made ready the way for them to become united countries. The work of Napoleon was the starting-point of the work of the "Nations."
The "Nation" and the "Masses"
After the downfall of Napoleon the controlling force in Europe was Prince Metternich, head of the government of Austria, who was very much against the new ideas. In his eyes Republics were a danger to the countries near them, and the only way of keeping the peace in Europe was by going back to the old order of tings which had been in existence before th French revolution. (It may be noted here that the only war in Europe for fifty years was the Crimean War, 1853-56.) But Napoleon had put an end to a number of governments, and had made changes in the political map which it was impossible to undo. In Germany, for example, there had been, in 1789, about three hundred and sixty small states, and by 1815 these had been grouped into thirty-nine.
I was not long before events in different parts of Europe made it clear that the new ideas would have to be taken into account. In the Balkans, the Greeks, uniting against their Turkish rulers, made themselves free (1821-29). Later, other Christian nations in those troubled Balkan lands took up arms against the Turks -- outsiders hated by the peoples they had overcome -- and, in time, became independent.
In France the Bourbons had come back to power (1815), and Louis XVIII, the brother of Louis XVI, had been made King. But in July 1830 there was another revolution in Paris and almost every other chief town of Europe. Louis XVII was put out, and Louis Philippe, a Bourbon, but on a younger branch of the family, was made King in his place. The feeling of those July days was equally against the rule of the old order and of the masses ; the desire was for a government of 'solid' business men, 'a rule of common sense.' Catholic Belgium took this chance to make itself free from Protestant Holland, and in 1839 an agreement was signed by which, with the approval of all the Great Powers, it became an independent nation.
Some years later there was again a revolution in Paris (1848) which was the sign for a general outburst all over Europe. In Austria one effect was the downfall of Metternich, who was in such danger that he had to get away from Vienna in a tradesman's cart. Louis Philippe was forced to give up his position, and came away from Paris in a public carriage to take a boat for England under the name of 'Mr. Smith'! The second French republic was now formed. In Paris the 'Right to Work' became the new cry, and the Government undertook to give work to all who were in need of it. In a short time more than one hundred thousand men were getting payment out of the nations's money for unnecessary work, or even for doing nothing.
Louis Napoleon, son of Napoleon's brother, was made President of the Second Republic. The new President took his position very seriously. "In making me President," he said, "France has made clear its desires, because the name of Napoleon is in itself a program. It is representative of order, authority, religion, well-being inside the country, respect for it outside. All these things it is my desire to see effected, with the support of the government and of the people.
But it was not long before the President had had himself made Emperor as Napoleon III (1852), and was feebly copying the first Napoleon in attempting to make France the chief European Power. However, his rule was ended by the war between France and Prussia in 1870-71, when a further revolution took place in Paris, and the Second Empire gave way to the Third, and present, French Republic.
The shock of these years of revolutions had not been without their effect on Britain. Two years after 1830 came the 'Great Reform Bill,' which put an end to the rule of the landowners, and gave power to the new heads of industry and the trading and business groups in society. Then, in 1838, the first move in the workers' fight for a part in the government was made by the Chartists, and though their attempts came to nothing at that time, the changes then desired did, in the end, come about.
Further changes of this sort were made in England at different times in the eighteen hundreds, and later in other European countries. the 'masses' everywhere slowly got for themselves some voice in the government, and, copying the new American and French Republics, took steps in the direction of democracy.
In the troubled Balkans the Great Powers went on with their complex designs for getting more control or keeping others from doing so. Britain and Russia, specially, had reason to keep a sharp watch on that part of Europe. Russia seemed to herself the natural head and helper of the Christian peoples ruled by the Turks, most of all of her sister nations, the Slavs of Serbia. Britain had hears that the Russians might take Constantinople, and so out the road to India in danger. British and Prussian expansion in Asia was still going on, and the two Empires were slowly getting nearer to one another on the Himalayas, 'the roof of the world.'
These and other causes were responsible for a number of different wars in connection with the complex question of the East, which had been so important in the world's history for more than five hundred years, and was at the root of most of the political moves of the eighteen hundreds. In the Crimean War (1853-56) fear of Prussia made the British and French (under the rule of Napoleon III) take the side of the Turks. the one good thing which came out of that war was the great work of looking after the wounded done by Florence Nightingale, which gave the first impulse to the organization of hospitals as we have them to-day.
The New Italy : Mazzini, Cavour and Garibaldi
The most important wars for the rights of nations in the eighteen hundreds were those by which Italy and Germany made themselves united countries. Italy was at that time still very much broken up, and ruled chiefly by the hapted hite-coated Austrians. There was so far no Italian nation.
Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Cavour -- the prophet, the fighter, and the political brain -- these were the three great men who were responsible for freeing Italy from Austria and uniting the different Italian states under one king.
Napoleon, as King of Italy, had put an end to some of the political divisions, but most of his work was quickly undone, and after his downfall the country went back more or less, to the old conditions. There was a Bourbon ruler of the Spanish branch in the south, the King of the Two Sicilies. Across the middle were the 'Papal States,' among them Rome, which were ruled by the Pope. Then there were Parma, Modena, and Tuscany, all under Austrian dukes, and other smaller states. To the north of these, again, Austria was ruler of Lombardy and Venice, which had been a Republic headed by its 'Doges' for a thousand years till it was given to Austria by the powers at Vienna in 1815. And last, in the north-west there was Piedmont, which was ruled by the King of Sardinia.
The true head of Italy was Austria. The only Italian rulers were the Pope and the King of Sardinia. All the rulers undid, in 1815, the changes made by Napoleon, and went back to the old order, which made their countries very bitter. So there were two reasons for revolution--the desire for a freer society and for a united Italy.
From 1815 on there were a number of attacks on the governments in different parts of Italy, but these were chiefly for the purpose of forcing the rulers to give the masses their rights ; the idea of a united Italy did to become general till later. The red, white, and green flag of all Italy was first seen when there was a mass outburst in a part of the Papal States after 1830.
In that year a letter was sent to the King of Sardinia requesting him to put himself at the head of a united Italy and make an end of Austrian rule. The writer was Mazzini, then twenty-six years old, who, sent out of the country because of his political opinions, undertook the organization of a society named 'Young Italy,' with the purposes of his letter in view. His writings went all over Italy and had a great effect. He put heart into the supporters of Young Italy with these moving words :
"Be lovers of your country ; it is the land which God had given you. Give it your thoughts, our ideas, your blood. . . . Let it be one, as the thought of God is one. You are twenty-five millions of men, with good brains and strong bodies ; you have a great history, respected by all the nations of Europe ; a great future is before you. Over your heads are smiling the most beatiful skies, and round you the most beautiful land in Europe ; you are circled by the Alps and the sea, limits marked out by the finger of God for a nation of great men--you have to be such, or nothing."
After this came the outbursts of 'the year of revolutions,' 1848. The Italian churchmen, having no desire for an Austrian supporter as their Pope, had made Pius IX (Pio Nono') Pope before the representative of the Austrian Church was able to do anything about it. Pio Nono made some changes in the interests of the masses, at which Austria was very angry, because it was feared that if the Italians became freer they would make use of their power to put her out of Italy. The King of Sardinia sent the Pope a letter saying the he would give him his support in everything, and a letter came from an Italian in South America--Garibaldi--offering his help in military operations. About the same time there was another attack on the governement in Naples, but the Austrians were unable to send any help to the King, because the Pope would not let their armies go ghrough his country.
While all this was going on, there had been a strong outcry for representative government in Piedmont, voiced in a new and well-supported newspaper Il Risergimento ('the becoming awake'). This paper was produced by Count Cavour. The news from Naples was making the masses more violent, so the King at last (1848) gave way, and a Parliament, or representative body, was formed, based on that of Britain.
The news came of the revolution in Vienna, and Milan made an attack on the army of fifteen thousand men kept by the Austrians in the town. This was the great 'five days' revolution,' which only came to an end when the Austrians were forced out of Milan with a loss of five thousand dead and wounded. This was the sign for other outbursts in the north of Italy, till, chiefly as the effect of Cavour's writings, his King was at last moved to make war on Austria.
The King, however, was crushed, and force to make peace with Austria ; and the Pope, who had given him no support, was attacked by the Romans and had to take flight. A republic was formed in Rome. Mazzini was made one of the three heads of the government, and Garibaldi, who had come back to take part in the fight, put himself under their orders with a band of his red-shirted supporters, five hundred in number.
The year 1849 was, however, a black year for Italy. Austria got back Venetia and Lombardy and overcame Piedmont ; and the French made Rome take back the Pope, forcing Mazzini and Garibaldi to flight, and stationing French forces in the town to keep order.
For ten years more, 1949-59, Austria kept its grip on Italy, and everywhere but in Piedmont--which kept its representative government under the new King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel--conditions were as bad as before. But the hope of becoming independent was far from crushed, and all this time the Italians were doing everything in their power to make Austria's position in their country impossible. All Italians were now ready to be united, because all the different groups had taken part in the fighting side by side. Everywhere the Austrians were made to see that they were hated outsiders ; no self-respecting Italian would have anything to do with them. On the other hand, for the Austrians, even to say the word 'Italy' was looked on as a crime.
At the same time, Cavour, now the head of the King of Sardinia's government, was working hard to get the Austrians out of the country and to make at least the north of Italy united. His first move was to get European feeling on the side of his unhappy countrymen, which he did in a very expert way. Then he made a secret agreement with Napolan III, by which Nice and Savoy were to be handed over to France in exchange for Napolean's support if Piedmont went to war with Austria. The war came in 1859. Garibaldi again took his 'red-shirts' into the field, and with the help of the French, Austria was overcome and Lombardy was given to Piedmont.
This straight away had important effects. The states in the north of Italy, driving out their rulers, sent a united request to Victor Emmanuel to become their King, at which the Pope, fearing his increasing power made him an outlaw from the Church.
Then Garibaldi went by sea to Sicily (May 5th, 1860) to take part in a new attack. On August 8th his 'red-shirts,' after driving the forces of the King of Naples from the island, went from Sicily into Italy. "How great were your Thousand, O'Italy," said Garibaldi in a letter, "fighting aginst the representatives of the tyrants and driving them before them like sheep !" On September 7th the great man came into Naples to make himself Dictator of the country in the name of Victor Emmanuel, 'King of Italy.' Garibaldi was now ready to make an attack on the Pope in Rome, but Cavour saw that that would be a false step, because then other European countries would take a hand. So in place of that he got France's agreement to the King's taking over the Papal States in the north.
At last, on November 7th, Victor Emmanuel came south with his army. He and Garibaldi came into Naples side by side, and Garibaldi gave up his authority to the King. Before is death, on June 6th, 1861, Cavour had the reward of seeing Victor Emmanuel made King of Italy on February 18th of the same year.
Cavour more than any other man was responsible for uniting Italy. There were others who did great work for the cause ; but his was the guiding hand which kept it to the middle road between revolution and reaction, and gave it an organization, a flag, a government, and friends among the nations.
At his death Rome and Venice were still outside the new country. "Without Rome," said Cavour, "Italy will never be solidly united. The great thing, then, is to make the Pope see that the Church may still be independent without its material power. We are ready to put into operation in Italy the great idea of a free Church in a free country.
Three years after Cavour' death France made an agreement to take her forces out of Rome before the end of two years, Italy giving her word that Rome would not be attacked. Then Italy made a military agreement with Prussia (1866), as the outcome of which Venice was given up to her after a war between Prussia and Austria.
The French took their regular forces out of Rome, but there were still Frenchmen in the Pope's armies. Mazzini and Garibaldi were full of the hope that Rome would take up arms against the Pope, and when at last there was an outburst, in October 1867, the fighters were quickly joined by Garibaldi and his men. France, however, had sent another army to Rome, which with the help of its new guns, overcame the 'red shirts' with great destruction, and so the attempt came to nothing.
Then came war between France and Prussia (1870). the outcome was the downfall of the French Empires, and the Italian army was straight away sent to take Rome. the Pope, however, made little attempt to put up a fight, and the 'war' was quickly over. Victor Emmanuel came into Rome as King, and Italy was at last united.
In the Great War of 1914-18 Austria was at last forced to give up the rest of her lands in North Italy, and Italy then had her 'natural limits.' At the present day Italy is ruled, like early Rome in time of danger, by a Dictator -- Mussolini.
Bismarck and the New Germany
While Italy was driving out Austria, Germany had become a nation, with Prussia at its head. After Prussia had been crushed, as it seemed, by Napoleon (1806), her great men had gone to work to make conditions better, to put an end to the feudal system and give education to all, and to make everyone undergo a certain amount of military training. Then, after Napoleon's downfall, Austria and Prussia became the chief countries in a new, loosely united group of separate German states.
The Austrian Empire was formed of a great number of different groups, all desiring their rights as nations, and this made it very hard to keep together. In the revolution of 1848 Kossuth, the great Hungarian chief, came to the front, and made the position of Hungary in the Empire very much stronger.
But the greatest danger to Austria was not from Hungry but from Prussia. From the time of Frederick the Great there had been increasing competition between Austria and Prussia for the first place among the German groups of middle Europe.
At this time Prussia had three very able men; William I, its King, Moltke,the head of its army, and Bismarck, the Chancellor, or head of the government. Price Bismarck is noted in history as the 'Iron Chancellor,' who made the Germans into a nation with Prussia as the controlling power. His birth took place in the year of Waterloo (on April 1, 1815) on his father's property in Pomerania. At the university he at first took more interest in fighting than in books. He was, as he himself said, a true representative of the great landowners of Prussia in his early days. However, after living for some time with his family, he took up political work, strongly supporting the forces ranged against the move for democracy which was made in Prussia, as all over Europe, in 1848. His belief, like that of the Great Kings of the old order, was that in a Christian country it was right for the king to have the chief power.
When William I became King of Prussia (1861), he undertook a new organization of the army. The government would not give him the necessary money, so William put Bismarck at the head of it. Such was the force of Bismarck that he went on ruling the country for four years without letting Parliament have any control of public money, though no one but the King was on his side. Even the Crown Prince, the King's oldest son, was against him. No man has ever made himself more hated.
But all this time King William was building up his army till it became the strongest in all Europe. This was what Bismarck was waiting for. His idea was to put Prussia, not Austria, at the head of the German states, and it seemed to him that the only way of uniting them into an empire was by 'blood and iron,' as he said to the Prussian Parliament in 1862--that is, by war, not by talk or committees..
For a number of years there had been trouble between Germany and Denmark about the two German countries on the Elbe, Schleswig and Holstein, ruled by the King of Denmark. Bismarck saw in this the chance of effecting his designs. His first step was to get the help of Austria in making war on Denmark, the outcome of which was that Schleswig and Holstein were given up to Prussia and Austria.
The second step was to go to war with Austria, which was quickly overcome at Sadawa (1866). The two Elbe countries were then united with Prussia, as Prussia took the place of Austria as chief of the German states. And this was not all. Prussia took Hanover and a number of other places which had been on the side of Austria in the war, and then got the North German states united in a new organization, with herself as the head.
Bismarck saw, however, that France was ready to make trouble if the South German states came into this group. It has to be kept in mind that, from the time of the wars of religion, it had been the fixed purpose of France to keep Germany broken up and feeble. So deep are the roots of the wars of 1870 and 1914 !
France was in the way of a united Germany, and as expertly as Bismarck had got the better of Austria, so he now got the better of France. He go France to make war on him in such a way that the South German countries came to the help of Prussia. The Prussian army went across the Rhine into France, and the French were crushed at Metz and Sedan (1870). Three months after the start of the war, the Prussians were before Paris ; and ten days before its fall (January 1871), King William I was made 'German Emperor' in the great 'Hall of Mirrors' at Versailles--the beautiful room ornamented with looking-glasses which is one of the best examples of the taste of Louis XIV. Alsace and Lorraine, which Louis XIV had taken from the Holy Roman Empire two hundred years before, were now given up to Germany. Less than fifty years later, in that same Hall of Mirrors, on June of 1919, the Germans were signing the agreement which gave back to Denmark the north part of Schleswig and to France Alsace and Lorraine.
And so Bismarck was the father of present-day Germany. His work was not limited to making war. He was responsible for the development of education, and he gave Germany a system of state help for the old and of government insurance, even before Britain was ready for these great changes. His political designs were effected by tricks, but it would be untrue to say that he was less straightforward than those of other nations working against him ; he was only more able than they, and so he got the better of them. The making of Germany into a nation is the true measure of how great Bismarck was. The war of 1870 was, in fact, a war for the rights of the German nation, and it was supported by the masses in a way which made it quite clear that Bismarck's desires were those of the country itself. All bitter feeling between the different groups, between North and South, Protestants and Catholics, land-owners and masses, was brushed away in the hour of danger, and every German was ready to do his best for the common cause of making Germany united, free, and great.
Bismarck kept his position as Chancellor in the new Empire, and was looked on by everybody as a very great man. All relations with other countries were completely in his hands. More than once he made the offer to give up his position, but William I would not let him do so.
But two years after the death of William I, Bismarck was turned out of the government (1890), and he took no more part in public events. The new Emperor, William II (1888-1918), desiring all the power for himself, had no use for a man like Bismarck. However, though he was possibly the ablest of all the Hohenzollerns but Frederick the Great, William II was not equal to what he had undertaken, and the rule of the Hohenzollerns, like that of the Hapsburgs, was ended by the World War.
The New South American Republics
The same sort of changes, giving birth to new nations, took place in America. In fact, the ideas on which the French Revolution was based were not long in becoming current all over the earth.
From the time of the great discoveries, South American had been part of the overseas Empires of Spain and Portugal ; and there, to this day Spanish and Portuguese are the languages most commonly used. In the early eighteen hundreds, when Spain took up arms against Napoleon, her colonies saw their chance of making themselves free (1822).
Britain, whose point of view had been changed by the American Revolution, was ready with her help at the birth of the South American states. Metternich and his friends would have sent an army to put a stop to the fight against Spain, but the British control of the sea made this impossible. At about the same time (1823) President Monroe made a public statement that the United States would take up arms against any European power attempting to get control in America. and so one effect of Metternich's political designs was the starting of better relations between the two great English-talking countries-- Britain and the United States of America.
After much hand fighting the Spanish colonies made themselves independent, and became the Republics of Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia (named after the greatest man of the revolution, Bolivar). Brazil, which had long been under Portuguese rule, did the same thing. All the new Republics have great stores of natural materials which make them certain of an important place in international trade.
Abraham Lincoln and the Making of the U.S.A
Abraham Lincoln is noted in history as the man who made the black slaves free, and the United States truly united.
When peace was signed between Great Britain and the United States of America (1783), the new republic was made up of thirteen 'States' near the Atlantic. The chief business of the States of the North was fishing, farming, and industry, but the trade of the South was chiefly in cotton and tobacco. The cotton and tobacco farms, or 'plantations,' were controlled by great land-owners, and worked by black African slaves. In the North there had never been a great number of slaves, and trade in slaves had been stopped in the same year as the Declaration of Independence. George Washington had been a slave-owner, but he would never let force be used to get back a runaway ; he took pleasure in the fact that no force was needed to keep his slaves with him.
In 1787 the government made the decision not to let the slave system come into the country west of the Allegheny Mountains and east of the Mississippi. When States were formed in this country the use of slaves in those States was made against the law. Then, when colonies came into existence west of the Mississippi, and there were new States to be made part of he United States, it was ruled that they were to be taken in in two's, and a 'free State' and a 'slave State' together, to keep the balance of power between the slave States and the others.
By 1820 the thirteen States had become twenty-two. Then came the question of the addition of Missouri. Was she to be a free State or a slave State? If she was made a free State, then the balance of power would be with the free North, and the South was naturally very much against this. At last the decision was made that Missouri was to be a slave State, but at the same time Maine was to be taken in as a free one, and any new State coming in after this time was to be free if it was north of Missouri, and slave if it was south of Missouri. Later (1854) two other new States were ready to become part of the U.S.A. Being north of Missouri these would, by the agreement, have been free. The slave-owners, however, made use of all their political power to keep this from coming about, and in the end a law was made giving the State themselves the right to make the decision. The effect of this was that, from North and South equally, great numbers went openly to the two States for the purpose of giving their side the controlling voice. At this stage Abraham Lincoln came into the fight.
Lincoln's birth took place in 1809 in Kentucky, in a rough little house of wood put up by his father, who had been one of the first to come to that part of the country. When he was still very young, the family went to Indiana, where Abraham went on living till he was a man. He became a true backwoods boy, very expert with his gun, in a country full of animals of all sorts. Great days for a boy full of the love of danger and experience ! His dress was a shirt and trousers made of skin, with shoes like those used by the Indians on his feet, and a skin hat on his head, the tail of the animal from which it had been taken hanging down at the back. He never had any stockings till he was a young man. His time was chiefly taken up in cutting down trees and making rails ; there was only a poor education to be got at the backwoods school, and almost no books for reading. The family was very poor, and his early years were, in fact, very hard.
When he was twenty-one he went to New Orleans, where he saw a slave-market : families broken up, married men and women, sisters and brothers, taken violently away from one another to become workers on far plantations, with no hope of ever coming together again. This picture was for ever after stamped on his memory, and gave him a deep sense of the sad and cruel side of the slave system.
Lincoln then went into the law, at the same time taking an interest in political work. In his business he was noted for never undertaking the cause of anyone who seemed to him to be in the wrong. He never did anything low, and was respected even by those against him as a straightforward man. For a time he gave up his political interests, but the slave question at last took him back into the field, and he became one of the makers of the great Republican organization, then its head, and in the end the President of the United States (1860).
One of the fixed purposes of the Republicans was to put a stop to any expansion of the slave system, but it seemed to the South that this would be a serious blow to its interests. Lincoln himself said that all the country would in time have to become one thing or the other, slave or free.
When Lincoln became President, the States of the South took the step of separating themselves from the U.S.A, forming an independent government. This was wrong, said Lincoln ; they had not right to make such a division of the great Republic which their fathers had made.
A year later the North and the South went to war on this question. This was the American Civil War, so named because it was a war, not between different countries, but between men of the same nation. Lincoln was still ready to make peace with the South and let them keep their slaves if they would give up their separate government, but the South would not give way. The war went on for four years. Slowly the forces of the North go the better of those of the South, and at last it became certain that the South would be forced to come back into the United States. But not long before peace was made, the great President was given his death-wound in his box at the theater by a man of unbalanced mind who seems to have had the belief that he had done a great wrong to the South. After the war the slaves were made free ; and so America took the example of the British Empire, which had put an end to the use of slaves in the countries under its control some years before (1833).
Lincoln was very tall -- six feet four inches -- with thick black hair, and grey, deep eyes. He was one of America's greatest men. Talking on the field of Gettysburg of those who had given themselves there for the nation, he said " "Seven and eighty years have gone by from the day when our father gave to this land a new nation -- a nation which came to birth in the thought that all men are free, a nation given up to the idea that all men are equal. Now we are fighting in a great war among ourselves, testing if that nation . . . is to go on. Let us here come to the high decision that these dead will not have given themselves to no purpose, that this nation, under God, will have a new birth in the hope of being free, and that government of all, by all, for all, will not come to an end on earth."
In the eighteen hundreds the number of those living in the United States was increased by newcomers from every part of the earth, and land was taken up farther and farther west, across the great stretches of flat country, till farms and towns were everywhere from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This great expansion was made possible by the new inventions of the steamboat, railway, and telegraph. Today the United State has become one of the greatest countries in the world, not only in size , but in power and industry.
Japan and the New Asia
The 'revolution' in industry which took place in the eighteen hundreds, with its great development of international trade and its effect on political conditions, had its reaction on the old Asiatic nations. Japan, China, India, and Persia were all changed because of the changes in industry, trade, and ideas of government which took place in the West.
The Japanese are different from the other nations of Asia. Though it is uncertain when they came from Asia to their present island Empire, they are a mixed group from Asia and the Pacific islands, and, like most mixed groups, they have at all times been open to new ideas.
There is little knowledge of Japan's early history. It is said that its first Emperor was ruling between 1100 and 1000 B.C. From the earliest times an important part of the religion of the Japanese was based on respect for the dead, and this gave them their most uncommon quality -- the feeling of a natural connection between the living and the dead, so strong even today that they have little fear of death, ready though they are to take pleasure in living.
By the early Middle Ages Chinese art and learning, which was at a much higher level than Japanese, had for some time been slowly taking root in Japan, and when the teachers of Buddha came across the water all the ideas on which Chinese society was based came with them, and were very quickly taken up by the Japanese. This was probably the most important event in Japanese history, because the new outlook and organization which were the outcome made the way ready for the great changes which have taken place in present-day Japan.
But the attempt at copying China was not kept up for very long, and for some hundreds of years the country went back to a loose feudal system with little order. The greatest landmark in its history after this was the chance discovery of Japan by some Portuguese traders (1542), who were given every help by the chiefs because of their firearms and the profits to be made from their trade. Then, for almost a hundred years, there were trading relations with Europe. Not long after the coming of the Portuguese traders a Jesuit missionary went out to Japan, and the Christian religion quickly took root.
But then came Dutch and English traders ; they were Protestants and very bitter against the Jesuits. Because of this the Japanese were turned against the Christian religion, and all Christian missionaries were put out of Japan. Orders were given that no Japanese was to go out of the country and no ships strong enough for long sea-journeys were to be made ; and for more than two hundred years Japan was shut off from other countries. So it came about that the fight between Catholic and Protestant which was one of the great causes of the expansion of Europe overseas was, at the same time, the reason for shutting the doors of Japan to the men of Europe.
While her doors were shut Japan had two hundred years of peace and order under one control. Then one day (1853), Commander Perry of the United States came sailing into Tokyo harbor in his flagship at the head of four well-armed vessels, with a letter to the Emperor from the President of the United States, strongly requestion him to let Japan again have trade with other nations. This was the start of long and delicate discussions, the outcome of which was that Japan at last was made open to European trade.
After this came one of the most surprising events in all history. The Japanese had seen with how little trouble, as it seemed, the British had taken control of India and they were angry, further, at the way in which China had been made use of by the powers of the West. They now took a step which, for the fist time in history, gave an Asiatic nation an organization copied from the West. A country which up to then had been without science or machines suddenly put itself in the front line of present-day developments. The feudal system was put an end to ; young men and women were sent for their education to all the most important countries of the world ; railway, telegraph, and post systems, industry, schools for everyone, and a House of Representatives all came into existence. This was Japan's surprising revolution (1868-90).
It was not long before the Japanese went to war with China (1894-95) and got the better of her. "The West had no respect for the Japanese till they were seen to be good at war !"1 After this there came an agreement with Britain ; so that in less than thirty years, Japan, from being an Asiatic island state looked down on by Europe, had become a valued friend of the greatest Empire on earth. Ten years later she overcame Russia (1904-5), whose great Empire in Asia was now touching China and the Pacific, in addition to the edges of India. This was the first time that the Far East had put a stop to the designs of a European nation. Japan was now looked on by a number of the Asiatic countries as the hope of the new Asia, and the fact that she had done so well put heart into all the nations of the East, specially India.
And so the nineteen hundreds have seen the start of new relations between Europe and Asia.2 The days of trading companies and trading princes are over. There is much teaching for the West in what Japan has done, because it has been effected by the desire of all for the general good, supported by the old belief in the debt of every man to society and the right of those in authority to his respect. It was only because the Japanese had for hundreds of years something more important than self, that the government of Japan was able, simply by law, to make them take up the new developments of the West at whatever price of pain and trouble.
1. Brinkley, Japan and China.
2. The author was overly optimistic.
China and the World
It has been said, though it may be going a little far, that the Renaissance took almost as much from China as it did from Greece, and it is possibly not surprising that the nations of Europe were for long not looked on by China as her equals. to the Chinese, with their long unbroken history, as to the Greeks and Romans, all other nations seemed 'Barbarians.' In Europe the development of society had gone forward on military lines, but in China the tendency had been the other way, and the art of living had seemed more important than the art of war.
Wars against other nations made China conscious, for the first time in her history, that she was not the only country in the world at a high stage of development. Hong Kong was handed over to Britain (1839), and five harbor towns were made open to trade with other countries ; part of the trade was in opium, which had for hundreds of years been smoked by the Chinese, and was now to become such a danger to the rest of the world that steps had at last to be taken against its distribution for any but medical purposes. Later came the Chinese-Japanese War, which though it was between two Asiatic countries, was of world-wide interest ; it was after Japan had overcome China in this war that she became an important power. After that came what was named the Boxer War. The 'Boxers' were a Chinese secret society formed for the purpose of driving the hated Europeans, specially Christians, out of the country. Attacks were made on the property of those of other nations, and some of it was burned down. The effect of this was that the nations of the West uniting against the Chinese, got an army together and took Peking, where the behavior of some of the European forces was truly 'barbarian.'
The Chinese were now so completely overpowered that it became clear to their rulers that some great change was necessary. Laws were made giving China a new form of government, in which the Emperor's power was no longer unlimited (1906). But the feelings of the Chinese were by this time worked up, and there was a general desire for a complete overturning of the old order. A revolution took place, and three months later the rule of the old line of Emperors came to an end, and a Republic was formed.
China was very much troubled by the coming in of the Europeans ; the nation's belief in its rulers was undermined by seeing them so feeble against attack. After the Revolution the organization of schools was undertaken, new ideas took root, and there was much talk of 'democracy' by the small number of persons who had any education. But it was hard to get the country united. Trouble was all the time being caused by wars between different groups, and by bands of outlaws. The Republic was only a name, and China, in place of being under one Emperor as in days past, was broken up among warring army chiefs.
Today more than one-fifth of the persons of the world are living in China. The masses have almost no education, and self-government on any great scale is still impossible. China's hope is not so much in material development, as is commonly said, but in the education of her masses to a true sense of the public interest. So her great need now, as in the past, is the peace in which to overcome her troubles.
India and the British Empire
At the start of British rule in India, the old Mogul Empire had for some time been getting more and more feeble, and the country was given up to wars between different groups. some of the Indian rajahs freely put themselves under the British to get their help, but the greater part of the country was at different times taken by Britain by force. With ruling families put on one side in this way, it was natural that for some time the good effects of British rule, and the peace it gave, did not go very deep.
However, a long line of British rulers, from Clive and Warren Hastings on, have done their best to give India a sense of being united, of good government, and of material development.
India is unlike any other part of the British Empire. Most of the lands in different parts of the world which have come under British rule had in them, at the time when they were made British, only men at a low stage of development, and frequently not a great number of those. Because of this, most of the Empire may be put into one or the other of two great groups.
First, there are the parts -- like most of Africa -- where there are millions still in an early stage of development, ruled and trained by a small number of Europeans who are responsible for the government of the country and for the development of its industries. Second, there are parts -- like Australia -- where almost everyone is British, and where British ways have been planted in what was, in fact, a new country. And, but for the important division of Quebec, which is still chiefly French, this is true of Canada.
India is in a different position. From early times it has had great numbers living in it, and today it has over one-sixth of the persons of the earth ; so that it did not give a field for the planting of European society, as did America, Australia, and New Zealand. And far from being in an early stage of development, India had a history, and an art and learning, older than those of Europe, and a system of society fixed in every detail, with high ideas of behavior in war and peace handed down from a long past. She had the memory of great Empires, the works of more than one great Age of letters, and beautiful examples of the art of building. These things together made the Indians in most ways equal to, and in some ways better than, the Europeans who first went there.
These facts about India give us the reason for the way in which it came into the British Empire -- a way quite different from that of any other country. British power was not taken to India by men desiring to make new colonies, as in Australia, or by men who had to go away from England because of their religion, like the Puritans in America. There was nothing shocking to public opinion, like the slave trade, crying out to be put right. And no one in the government would have been so foolish as to have hopes of taking by force a country of such great size and numbers.
India, like China, was a name which had been looked up to by the West for hundreds of years -- the name of a great, strange land, full of gold and jewels and all the secrets of the East. Men would no more have made the attempt to overcome India than to overcome Russia or China. The growth of British power in India came through trading interests, but this is not to say that the British had no higher purpose in what they undertook there. There is general agreement that their rule has done much for the different groups in India, and that they have done their best to keep the feeble from being crushed, and make education more general, and to give every man equal rights under the law.
India is the chief reason for British interest in events in Constantinople, South Africa, and Egypt.
The expansion of education and of the English language, and the material developments (water-systems for farms, railways, post offices, and so on) which have taken place under British rule have had a great effect on the masses in India. As in other places, they have come to have a strong desire to take part in their government. Under Mahatma Gandhi -- a man deeply moved by religion -- those desiring a free and united India have made a great outcry for self-government.
In the British Empire there are men of every sort, color, and religion, in every stage of development. Lord Durham's noted Report on Canada (1840) put forward the opinion that it would be wise to have self-government in the Colonies as in England, and it was in fact, later, at different times, given to all the great Colonies, taking as their example the United States of America, became united into groups of States, or Dominions -- Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Never in all the long history of man has thee been seen such a great number of different groups all given up to the idea of a completely free society, united under the rule of one King-Emperor. From the time of the Imperial Conference, or meeting of representatives of the empire, in 1927, Great Britain and the dominions have been looked on as forming self-ruling societies inside the British Empire, all equal in position and completely independent of one another in their political organization and relations to other countries, though united in having as their common head the King of England, and freely grouped together in the British family of nations.
Political Relations in the Pacific
The fight or free and independent existence went on among the nations more or less all through the eighteen hundreds, and it was taken up again in the Great War. With the political changes in Europe had come increased competition overseas for trade, colonies, and power. International relations became very delicate near the end of the eighteen hundreds, and war in Europe seemed certain more than once before it came in 1914.
The story of the Pacific Islands in present-day history gives us a good idea of some of the complex questions caused by the expansion of Europe overseas.
Australia and New Zealand are part of the British Empire in the Pacific. The interest of the British in these parts goes back to the days of Captain Cook (1728-79), who made a journey of discovery in the Pacific and put up the British flag in New South Wales. North of Australia there are the East Indies, where the Dutch, with their spice trade, have had their trading-stations from about 1600.
North and east of Australia and New Zealand there is the great band of thousands of islands stretching across the South Pacific -- most of them in small groups, but some by themselves. the greater part are south of the Line. Some have been made by the little coral insects of the sea, and some are the tops of mountains which have been forced up from the sea-bed. They are of all sizes from small masses of stone to the greatest of the Fiji Islands, which is about half the size of Sicily. They are of all sorts -- some with great numbers of persons living on them and others with no one. And the groups on them are very different from one another. Some readily make an adjustment to European ways and control, some are very much against it. In earlier times there was much division among them, and frequent fighting between the different little towns and family groups ; and the most shocking of all acts, the use of men for food, was not uncommon among some of them.
They are so placed that they are like stepping-stones from Australia across the Pacific to North and South America, and for this reason they have become very important in present-day history.
From a map of the Pacific, as it is today, we see that almost all the islands are under the flag of one or other of the Great Powers, and that a great number of them are part of the British Empire. But from a map of the Pacific as it was fifty years back, we see that at that time only one or two of them had been taken in the name of any country, though Europeans -- for purposes of religion and trade -- had been at work in them for fifty years before that. What was the cause of this change?
One of the chief causes was the danger of the development of a new slave trade. In North Australia and South America workers were needed, and a trade in men from the islands came into being. At its best, it was a good thing, or at least not a bad one. The men went to work for a year or two, and come back to their islands with new knowledge, which they were able to make good use of there. It was an education. But at its worst the men were taken off by force, and did not come back. Their friends then took the law into their hands and made war on those responsible, and no one was safe.
It was necessary to put an end to these conditions, and some of the islands were taken under British rule for this reason. To let this sort of thing go on was not to let the islanders be free, but to let them be crushed out of existence. Control of the islands was, in fact, chiefly control of the white trader, whom no power on earth would have been able to keep out of the islands in days of world-wide trade.
Again, fear of French colonies had much to do with the British Government's decision to take over Australia and New Zealand. At times British colonies in the Pacific Islands had gone so far as to make requests for help to the French when Britain would not do anything for them.
The when the Germans became united under Prussia (1871) there was a strong pushing of German trade in the great groups of islands north of Australia and the interests of the other countries seemed to be in danger. Germany was clear about its purposes and quick acting. It was the behavior of Germany, more than any other thing, which made the division of the islands necessary.
The United States and Japan came later. When the United States took the Philippines from Spain, a line of connection with these islands became necessary and Hawaii was a half-way house.
Some of the greatest islands are in the Fiji group, which is controlled by Britain. In taking this group, Britain was again moved by the need to keep order. Missionaries had been there for a long time ; traders, through their ways of getting workers had been the cause of violent outbursts, and as an outcome of this a bishop was attacked and put to death in the Santa Cruz group. At last Fiji itself was made British (1874), and a year later a government representative was sent to the Pacific, with th power over the British only.
Then the same sort of events took place in New Guinea, where existence is still almost the same as it was in the Stone Age. The Dutch had been in the west part for a long time, and Queensland had been interested in the island from the early eighteen hundreds. Feeling in Australia was very worked up, because there was no doubt about German designs there, though the British Government in London for some time kept its eyes shut to them. Bismarck, however, made it clear that he north-west of New Guinea had most attraction for German interests. The south-east was good for Australian interests, and the British at last took control of this (1884).
The Great War (1914-18) saw the destruction of German power in the Pacific, chiefly to the profit of the other powers there. Japan took the islands north of the Line, among them the Marshall Islands, which made her designs greatly feared in Australia.
Today some of the most important international question have to do with the Pacific.
The Revolution in Science and Industry
The world of today is still working out the questions handed down from the French Revolution in the political field, and the English 'Revolution' in industry. the Revolution in Industry has been responsible for more changes in men's ways of living and in the sort of things they do than any other event in history. It was the outcome of uniting science and industry.
The starting-point of present-day science was the Renaissance, when Copernicus, Galileo, and others took up again the work of the early Greeks and made great additions to their knowledge of the physical world. Another important writer on science in these early days, to whom we are in debt, is Francis Bacon. Then, in the seventeen hundreds, science was for the first time made use of in industry. Up to that time there had been very little change in the ways of industry for hundreds and hundreds of years. For example, cloth and pots were still being made in much the same way as in early Egypt ; the potter's wheel and the loom for making thread into cloth were not very different from those used by the men of the later Stone Age. Again, the system of farming and of crushing grain were almost the same.
By 1700 such an increase in business and trade had been effected by the great discoveries that it became hard for the traders of Europe to make enough goods for the market. Britain was first in the field with a group of inventions by which, in time, industries of all sorts were comely changed. When George III became King, Britain was a farming country, in which most men were living and working on the land ; at his death it was becoming a country of great industries.
In the eighteen hundreds the same sort of revolution took place in different European countries, in America, and in fact, all over the earth. With this growth of trade, science, and invention the chances of making men happier seemed to be increasing, and common sense was able to give new answers to old questions. Some of the best were those put forward by the great Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832).
Hargreaves' invention of the 'spinning-jenny' -- for producing cotton thread -- was made two years after Rousseeau's Social Contract came out. At the time of the fall of the Bastille, the last touches were being put to the first steam-power cotton works in Manchester. And Stephenson go this 'Number 1' engine going for the first time in the year before Waterloo.
Iron was needed for the new machines, and coal for working the iron. In time the present-day 'blast-furnace,' in which a current of heated air is sent automatically through the fire, took the place of the old-time hand-blowers, which had been used for producing the great heat necessary to make iron liquid. Quick and simple transport for the increasing number of goods became a crying need. Waterways were made ; roads, which had had little care from the time of the Romans, were put into good condition by new processes ; the train took the place of the slow stage-carriage. Steamships were being used in place of sailing-ships a short time after Waterloo ; and the invention, later, of a new apparatus for driving ships through the water (the 'screw propeller') gave a great impulse to ship-building. Last, with the use of steam plow the Revolution had its effect on the oldest of all industries.
These inventions made possible the producing of goods with much less work and in a much shorter time. In building the great Cathedral at Cologne, in 1870, as much stone was lifted in one day by two men using steam power as would have been lifted by three hundred and sixty men in the same time in the Middle Ages. Expert bootmakers in the old days were able to make, at best, only four shoes in a day ;at present a man with the help of machines makes one thousand in a day. In one year, now, six English workers are able to make enough bead for a thousand persons for the same space of time. This is taking into account all work done, from the plowing of the land to the distribution of the bread to the user. The producing of goods on a very great scale was made possible by all these new inventions. The desire for international trade became sharper, and there was increased competition for markets int Europe and overseas. The world became on as never before in the history of man. One has only to go to Mount Vernon, the house of George Washington in the United States, to see how great has been the change in our ways of living. George Washington, when he was living on the property, was, for the commoner everyday needs almost completely independent of transport. Not only did he get from his land enough food for his private use and for that of his dependents, but among the slaves on his plantation were workers in iron and wood, shoe-makers, and makers of clothing; and cloth for the rougher sort of clothing was made in his house from wool and cotton produced on his farms. Today, country-houses are generally near a railway station, and have their stores sent out to them every week, or more frequently, from the nearest great town, possibly a hundred miles away. Unhappily the changes in industry came so quickly that little thought was at first given to the worker in the new conditions -- when goods made by machines in the works were taking the place of goods made by hand with simple instruments in the houses. Great, unbeautiful towns, frequently black with smoke, went up, where before there had been smiling little country towns and great open spaces. There were at first no laws about hours and conditions of work, and the existence of some of the workers was little better than that of slaves. It became clear that they would have to make a fight for their rights, and by degrees, because better working conditions seemed to the owners of industry to be against their interests, there came about bitter feeling between the two sides. Workers' trade organizations were formed, which in time got great power and did much for the education and well-being of the workers in Britain and other countries. In fact, the revolution in industry went hand in hand with the political revolutions in causing a change in the outlook and system of government. Everywhere the power of Kings and of the great landowners became less, and more power was given to the Masses. The business men and store-keepers, the workers, the farm workers, and at last, the women, were all, in time, given a voice in the selection of the government. Little by little, attention was turned to making conditions better all round, and much-needed changes were made in industry, education, the care of disease, housing, and the general well-being of the worker.
The Great Developments of present-day Science
Then came another great discovery in science, the development of which is still going on. After Faraday's work on the electric current (that is, from about 1830), a new sort of power came in to take the place of steam. The telegraph, the telephone, and the underseas telegraph (the cable) were made possible. With the invention of a new sort of engine—the 'internal combustion engine'—came the automobile and the airplane. A young Italian, Marconi, made radio a working thing (1893), and world-wide radio and the radio-telegraph were at hand. Today it would be very hard to make a list of all the uses of electric power in the work and pleasures of man. The development of machine processes by which goods may be produced on a great scale has given us the cheap automobile ; the first great business men to see what might be done in this direction in the automobile industry were Mr. Henry Ford in America and Lord Nuffield in England.
The good work of science is probably best seen in the great discoveries for overcoming pain and disease, and even for making our time on earth longer. Doctor Simpson (1847) was the first man to make use of chloroform for making us unconscious of pain. Lister made operations safe by his discovery that certain chemicals ('antiseptics') kept wounds from getting poisoned (1870) ; and Pasteur, by his tests with bacteria, made clear the causes of a great number of animal and plant diseases.
Certain great books had a very strong effect on the minds and ideas of men. Darwin, in his Origin of Species (1859), took up with the open mind, like the Greeks, the question of the existence and the development of living things, and gave a suggestion of a new way of looking at living beings. A book by Karl Marx on Capital (that is, money as used for the controlling of industry by private persons), in 1867, gave the impulse to those theories of society sometimes grouped under the word Socialism -- a word with a number of senses. These two men, Darwin and Marx, were the cause of as bitter a division of opinion in the fields of science and economics as Rousseau's Social Contract a hundred years earlier in the political field.
All these great changes in science, thought, and industry were the work of men and women of all nations. The outcome of them all has been to put men of different countries more in touch with one another, and frequently to make the competition between them sharper. Great works of engineering have been among the most important in making the world smaller -- for example, the Suez and Panama waterways, the Trans-Siberian, Canadian-Pacific, and other great railway systems.
Never in history have developments in every branch of living and knowledge come so quickly. In the last hundred and fifty years the rate of development of man's control over natural things has been ten times as great as in the time between Caesar and Napoleon, a hundred times as great as int he slow years before recorded history. There were tens of thousands of years between man's first use of fire and his first use of it in connection with iron. Even in the age of history, when great works of art, science, and thought were given us by Greece, the art of writing was in existence thousands of years before the printing-machine. In those days every great invention was the keystone of society for long ages before its place was taken by another one. But in our day inventions, every one of which makes possible a revolution in our ways of living, comes one after the other as thick as the falling leaves.
The Great War and after
In 1914 the peace of Europe was violently broken by the start of the Great War. Its deeper causes were rooted in the great changes in industry and in political conditions which had taken place everywhere in the hundred years or more before.
Between 1815 and 1871 new nations had come into being and old nations had taken new forms, not only in Europe but in the Far East and the Far West. by 1871, or about then, Italy and Germany, America (North and South), and Japan had under-gone very important changes. At the same time, the Industrial revolution, which had had its start in Britain, was by degrees having its effect all over the earth. Competition for markets became sharper. Again -- as in the time of the Greek Discoveries -- there was a sudden expansion overseas of European trade and power. The British Empire was only one, though by far the greatest, of a number of colonial Empires. Further, the new Germany was now ready to take part in the fight for trade and Empire. Europe itself was arming more and more, every nation keeping a sharp watch on the others.
These complex developments, and the fears and desires to which they gave birth, were the true causes of the Great World War (1914-18). The event which put a match to the powder was the putting to death of an Austrian Archduke by Serbs, who were bitterly unhappy under Austrian rule and fired by the hope of becoming free, and united with other Serbian groups. The crime was the outcome of the burning desire for self-government and self-development of man of different blood from their rulers, forming pat of an empire still ruled more or less in the old way. And there were a number of such groups in other lands -- Poles, Czechs, Irish, Hungarians, and others -- with a like desire to become independent nations. Europe was still 'half-slave and half-free.'
Suddenly, in July 1914, men were faced, before they were conscious of what was coming, with a war such as had never been before. Nations, with every man in arms, were fighting one another for four years on a scale, and with a power of destruction, which no earlier time had ever seen, and it became clear that science and industry had made war a very different thing from what it had been in the past.
One of the effects of the Great War was the fall of those four Empires where the rule of the 'Great Kings' had gone on longest; the Austro-Hungarian, Russian, German and Turkish. Eleven Republics took their place on the map. Two of them, Poland and Bohemia, were old nations ; Bohemia, with some addition, now became the Czecho-Slovakian republic. Never had such great changes been made at one time in the map of Europe -- only at the time of the coming of the Barbarians after the fall of the Roman Empire. But, unhappily, inside almost all the new limits there were still 'minorities,' or small groups of different blood, cut off from their rights as nations (for example, two and a half million Germans under Polish rule, and a third of the Hungarians in Czech-Slovakia, Rumania, and Yugo-Slavia).
The new Turkey, under its Dictator-President, Mustapha Kemal, became a strong power in the Middle East (Asia), but in Europe it had no longer any lands but Constantinople (Turkish from 1453) and some country round it. Kemal made the ways and dress of the west current among the Turks, as Peter the Great, two hundred years earlier, had done among the Russians.
In the Russian Empire, with its more than one hundred and fifty million persons in Europe and Asia, was started in 1917 one of the greatest and most complete revolutions in history. The Tsar and his family were put to death, and the power was taken by the Communists, who were given the name of Bolsheviks (or 'the greater number'), These supporters of the idea of Karl Marx, at the head of whom was Lenin, working with the Soviets (or representative committees of the workers), gave Russia a completely new organization. The Empire of the Tsar became Soviet Russia -- or, to give it its full name, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Lenin was one of the greatest rulers Russia had ever had ; the Russians have the deepest respect for his memory, and Petrograd was newly named Leningrad after him. After his death (1924), his place was taken by his secretary, Stalin 'the man of steel,' who made a start, in his 'Five-Year Plan' (1928-32), on the great undertaking of building up on quite new lines, in harmony with the latest discoveries in every branch of science, all parts of this great nations -- its education, its industry, its farming. It seem probably that his Russian Revolution will be the cause of some of the most important developments which the story of man has seen.
[Stalin became a murderous dictator and the Soviet collapsed trying to keep up with the democratic and free U.S.A. ]
What of the future ?
The Great War was ended by the Treaty of Versailles (1919), but it was a very troubled 'peace' which came after it.
At different times in history men have been moved by the destruction caused by war to make attempts at pointing the way to peace. While the Thirty Years' War, which made a waste of the earlier Germany, was going on, Grotius had, in his great book (1625), put forward the bases of International Law. Again and again other, after other great wars, gave voice to the deep desire of serious men for unbroken peace. A further step was taken when, after the bitter wars by which a number of nations made themselves free in the eighteen hundreds, meetings took place at The Hague (1899, 1907) for the discussion of ways of smoothing out troubles between nations by 'arbitration,' or the decision of independent judges. This was the first serious attempt to put 'the rule of law' in operation among nations as among persons.
The price of the Great War was the loss of more than seven million persons and forty thousand million pounds ; and one of its most serious effects was the very great damage done to international trade. It is not surprising that men's minds were again turned to ideas of uniting the nations to put an end to war.
The outcome of this desire for peace was that the Covenant of the League of Nations became part of th Treaty of Versailles (1919). History gives support to the belief that some such organization is possible and wise. In early times Rome was the ruler of all the countries round the Mediterranean ; and in the Middle Ages Christian nations were to some degree united under the Pope. A League of Nations is at the same time a natural development and a very new and untested step. The present League of Nations has done good work in something getting agreements between countries on questions which in earlier days might have been the cause of war, and in getting better working conditions and helping the fight against disease all over the earth. But the League is still young and in need of adjustment, and unhappily some of the greatest and most important nations have little or no part in it. Today the chief hope of man is in an international world, based on the free development of nations, which are responsible, not only to themselves, but to the wider society of which they are a part.
After about ten years of troubled peace, the Versailles Treaty System seemed to be coming to an end. There were the older States with no further need for expansion (for example, France and Britain) ; and there were newer, less well-off States (such as German, Italy, Japan) which had come late into the competition for overseas colonies and markets. The newer States, and the 'minorities,' made protest against the Treaty. To make things much worse, trade had become bad a short time after the War (from 1920 on), and between 1930 and 1934 it went down at a rate without parallel. The blow to industry was most serious, and all countries went through very hard times. Everywhere there were thousands of men out of work, thousands of families in need, while at the same time produce was being wasted because there was no market for it. It has been said that the value of the loss to the world's trade in those four year (1930-1934) was equal to the amount of money wasted by all countries on the Great War.
It is not very surprising that the troubled years after the Great War gave birth to a number of new political systems, and forms of organization of trade and industry, under the control of Dictators. And it is to be noted that, though the different revolutions between 1789 and 1918 were for the purpose of getting some sort of representative government like that of Britain, the revolutions since 1918 have had little respect for democracy. All these later attempts, however, make much of the idea of organization -- in place of that of laissez faire (or 'letting things take their natural way') -- as necessary to the well-being of the complex present-day State. Two systems -- the National or Fascist * and the Communist -- based on very different beliefs, have specially taken the attention of Europeans.
The 'National' idea was put forward by the Fascists in Italy, under their 'Duce,' Benito Mussolini, who had been in the Italian army in the Great War. The belief of the Fascists was that groups of the same blood made the strongest and most natural 'nations,' and that the best thing was for every nation to make itself independent of others as far as possible. This idea had a special attraction in Germany, made bitter, as it was, by the Versailles Treaty and the taking of its trade and Colonies by other countries. In Germany Fascism took the name of National-Socialism, the system worked out by the Nazis under the control of the 'Fuhrer,' Adolf Hitler. The Fascist system was copied in some degree by certain other nations.
The other idea, of which Soviet Russia is representative is the 'Left Socialist,' or 'Communist' one, based on the theories of Karl Marx. The Communists see the cause of the world's trouble in the 'capitalist system,' in which they say, the materials necessary for producing are in the hands of private persons, and those who have money make a profit out of those who have not. The teaching of Marx was that all material were the property of the 'Community' (or group); and his hope was that a world-wide Communist Workers' Republic would one day be formed.
[Socialism fails when the number wanting things is greater than the number willing to work.]
After the first world war there were twenty years (1918-38) of very broken peace. Then in 1939 there was war again in Europe. Hitler, the German Fuhrer, helped by Mussolini, the Italian Duce, made himself the ruler of Europe from France to Norway, and in June 1940 he had only Britain against him. By 1941 it had become a general war, but Soviet Russia, under Stalin's direction, kept the German army, then almost to Moscow, from rolling on any farther. When Japan, at war with China, made an attack in December 1941 on Pearl Harbor in the Far East, the USA came into the war. In this second world war (1939-45) Germany, Italy, and Japan had ranged against them a group of thirty United Nations which, as the late President Roosevelt greatly said, were fighting so that everywhere in the world men might be free to say what is in their minds, free in their religion, free from need, and free from fear.
What of the future ? Not a great number of years back -- a little before 1900 -- the earth was still for the most part without automobiles or airplanes or radio. Science has now made space unimportant and the nations of the earth dependent on one another as never before. But if the discoveries of science do not give us a better and safer existence, then all the work of those who have done so much will be of little use. And science and industry have made possible destruction on such a scale that it is quite clear that the future of society is dependent on our power to put an end to war.
Man has done great things. Looking back we see him first fighting like an animal for his very existence ; then, by the power of his invention, coming to a higher and higher level of development till natural forces are his servants, and there seems to be no limit to the ways in which living may be made better and fuller. Is all this to be wasted because men are unable to keep peace among themselves?
As in 1918, so in 1946, our only hope is in an international world based on the free development of nations and making men free in those four ways. To make such a world possible is the chief purpose of UNO (United Nations Organization), the new and (it is to be hoped) better organization which has taken the place of the old League of Nations. Again, we say, what of the future? Will men at last make the most of their chance and go on in harmony to ever greater and greater things?
Bibliographic (University of California)
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