ported partly by the revenues arising from these fines. Thus monarchs acquired niore effectual authority; no longer regarded their nobles as their equals, or found it necessary to have recourse to feeble efforts to control their power. They began not only to hold the sceptre, but to brandish the sword; and had more complete means to check the designs of their barons by intimidation, or punish their rebellion by force of arms.


[ocr errors]

Charles the seventh of France, prompted by his defire of expelling the English from France in the year 1445, was the first monarch who established a ftanding army; he retained a large body of forces in his service, and appointed funds for their regular payment. Many of the principal nobility foon resorted to his standard, and looked up to him as the judge, and the rewarder of merit. The connexion between them was strengthened, and the feudal militia, who were only occasionally called out, were in time superseded by soldiers accustomed to long and regular service. This example of breaking the independent power of the barons was followed by the politic llenry VII. of England. He undermined that edifice, which it was not prudent to attack with open force. By judicious laws he permitted his nobles to cut off the entail of their eftates, and to sell them. He prohibited them from keeping numerous bands of retainers, which had rendered them formidable to his predeceffors. By encouraging agriculture and commerce, and all the arts of peace during a long reign, and by enforcing

a vigorous, impartial, and general execution of the laws, he not only removed many immediate evils resulting from the feudal system, but provided against their return. The influence of his falutary plans was gradually felt, and they contributed more and more, in process of time, to establish good government, to repress the arrogance of the higher, and to improve the condition of the middle and inferior classes of his subjects, by freeing them from the yoke of petty tyrants, and imparting to them the principal advantages of liberty.

II. The Crusades.

Few expeditions are more extraordinary than those which were undertaken for the recovery of the Holy Land from the Turks by the crusades. They took the name of crusaders, or Croisés from the cross which they wore on their shoulders in gold, silk, or cloth. In the first crusade all were red; in the third, the French alone preserved that colour, while green crosses were adopted by the Flemings, and white by the English, Each company likewise bore a standard, on which was painted a cross. If we consider the great numbers of Europeans, who were engaged in them, or their long and obstinate perseverance in the same design, notwithstanding numerous hardships, losses, and defeats ; and if we reflect upon the important consequences, with which these enterprises were attended, both to themselves and their descendants ;

the the history of the crusades, including a period of one hundred and seventy-five years, from A. D. 1095 to 1270, will be found to deserve particular regard, and to follow in proper order our survey of the feudal system.

From the æra of the crusades may be traced the diffusion of several kinds of knowledge ; and from the communication of the western with the eastern nations, arose a succeffion of causes, which with different degrees of influence, and with more or less rapidity, contributed to introduce order and improvement into society.

Judea, or the holy land, was the highest object of veneration to the Christians of the middle ages. There had lived the Son of God; there he had

performed the most astonishing miracles; and there · he had suffered death for the sins of the world.

His holy fepulchre was preserved at Jerusalem ; and as a degree of veneration was annexed to this confecrated place, nearly approaching to idolatry, a visit to it was regarded as the most meritorious service, which could be paid to heaven; and it was eagerly frequented by crowds of pilgrims from every part of Europe. If it be natural to the human

y The authorities for my account may be found in the Universal History, book 1. c. 2. b. 23. c. 5. &c. Pauli Æmilii Gefta. Francorum. Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, wherever he has good authority to support his statements, v. 6. c. 59. &c. Knolles's History of the Turks; the History of Modern Europe, and Robertson's Charles V.

mind to survey those spots, which have been the abodes of illustrious persons, or the scenes of great transactions, with delight, what must have been the veneration with which the Christians of those times, the ruling passion of whose mind was religious enthusiasm, regarded a country, which the Almighty had selected as the residence of his beloved Son, and the place 'where that Son had shed his precious blood, to expiate the fins, and accomplish the redemption of mankind? The zealous travellers who made a pilgrimage to Palestine were long exposed to the insults, extortions, and cruelty of the Infidels: but at length their complaints roused the Europeans to attempt their expulfion,

The First Crusade from A.D. 1095 to 1099.

Peter surnamed the Hermit, a native of Amiens in Picardy, was the most zealous and indefatigable promoter of this first expedition. He was a man of acute understanding and keen observation ; in the garb of a Pilgrim he had visited the holy sepulchre, and had noticed the insults and hardfhips to which the Christians were exposed. He brought letters from the patriarch of Jerusalem to Pope Urban the second, in which their sufferings were described in the most pathetic terms, and the Christian states of Europe were exhorted to redress their grievances, and retaliate upon their Infidel Tyrants, from an apprehension that the Turks, more


[ocr errors]

ferocious and more subtle than the Saracens, were aiming at universal empire. The arnbaffadors of the Greek Emperor Alexius Comnenus represented in the council of Placentia, to the numerous Bishops and Clergy there assembled, the imminent danger of their master, and his capital, from the vicinity of the Turks. The Pope afterwards, in a great council held at Clermont, enlarged upon the fame topics, and stated that the desire of the Turks for empire could only be satisfied with the conquest of the whole world. The indignation and the ardour of persons of all ranks were excited, and they resolved to commence the expedition to the holy land without delay. Peter the Hermit with sandals on his feet, and a rope round his waist, led the way: Great numbers of devotees, chiefly composed of peasants, neither furnished with neceffaries, nor regulated by discipline, followed his steps. Their ignorance magnified the hopes and lessened the dangers of the undertaking. In the forests of Hungary and Bulgaria, many of them fell a sacrifice to the indignation of the inhabitants provoked by their rapine and plunder. A pyramid of bones, erected by Solyman, the Emperor of the Turks, near the city of Nice, marked the spot where many of those who penetrated farther than their companions, had been defeated; and of the first Crusaders very great numbers are said to have perished, before a single city was taken from the infidels.



« ElőzőTovább »