John Lord.

Beacon lights of history (Volume 8) online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryJohn LordBeacon lights of history (Volume 8) → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3*1 IB




1





BEACON LIGHTS OF HISTOEY.




^^



FREDERICK THE GREAT

REPROACHING HIS GENERALS' IN KOBEN, THE MORNING AFTER THE
BATTLE OF KUNERSDORF, 1759, WHERE HE WAS

TOTALLY DEFEATED
Afttr painting by ARTHUR KAMPF. (In the fCunst-Halle, Dttsseldorf)



BEACON
LIGHTS 9
HISTORY



BY JOHN LOUD, LLD.



THE WORLD'S HEROES
AND MASTER MINDS



NEW YORK
JAMES CLARKE & COMPANY




LORD'S LECTURES



BEACON LIOHTS

OF HISTORY.

BY JOHN LORD, LL.D.,

AUTHOB OF " THE OLD ROMAN WORLD," " MODERN EUROPE,"
ETC., ETC.



VOEUME VIII.
GREAT RULERS.



NEW YORK:
JAMES CLARKE AND CO.



CONTENTS.



ALFRED THE GREAT.
THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND.

PAG*

The early Saxons 25

Their conquest of England 28

Division of England into petty kingdoms 29

Conversion of the Saxons 30

The Saxon bishoprics 31

Early distinguished men 32

Isadore, Caedmon, and Bseda, or Bede 32

Birth and early life of Alfred 33

Succession to the throne of Wessex 35

Danish invasions 36

Humiliation and defeat of Alfred 36

His subsequent conquests 38

Final settlement of the Danes 39

Alfred fortifies his kingdom 41

Reorganizes the army and navy 42

His naval successes 44

Renewed Danish invasions 45

The laws of Alfred 46

Their severity 47

Alfred's judicial reforms 50

Establishment of shires and parishes 50

Administrative reforms 51



12 CONTENTS.



turn

Financial resources of Alfred 52

His efforts in behalf of education 53

His literary labors 54

Final defeat of the Danes 56

Death and character of Alfred 58

His services to civilization 59

Authorities 62

QUEEN ELIZABETH.
WOMAN AS A SOVEREIGN.

The reign of Queen Elizabeth associated with progress . . 66

Her birth and education 67

Her trials of the heart 68

Her critical situation during the reign of Mary 69

Her expediences 69

Her dissembling 70

State of the kingdom on her accession to the throne ... 72

Rudeness and loyalty of the people 75

Difficulties of the Queen 76

The policy she pursued 77

Her able ministers 79

Lord Burleigh 79

Archbishop Parker 80

Favorites of Elizabeth 81

The establishment of the Church of England 82

Its adaptation to the wants of the nation 83

Religious persecution 84

Development of national resources 86

Pacific policy of the government 87

Administration of justice 88

Hatred of war 89

Glory of Elizabeth allied with the prosperity of England . . 90



CONTENTS. 13



PAGE

Good government 91

Royal economy 92

Charge of tyranny considered 92

Power of Parliament 93

Mary Queen of Scots 94

Palliating circumstances for her execution ...... 95

Character of Mary Stuart 96

Her plots and intrigues 97

The execution of Essex 98

Other charges against Elizabeth 99

Her coquetry 100

Her defects 100

Her virtues 101

Her public services 102

Her great fame 103

Her influence contrasted with power 103

Verdict of Lord Bacon 104

Elizabethan era ........ 104

Constellation of men of genius 105

HENRY OF NAVARRE.
THE HUGUENOTS.

The Cause and the Hero 109

The sixteenth century contrasted with the nineteenth . . 110

A New Spirit in the world Ill

Differences of progress 112

Religious, civil, and social upheavals 113

John Calvin 114

Reformed doctrines in France 115

Persecution of the Huguenots 116

They arm in self-defence to secure religious liberty . . . 117

Henry of Navarre 118

Jeanne D'Albret .119



14 CONTENTS.



turn

Education of Henry 120

Coligny 121

Slaughter of St. Bartholomew 122

The Duke of Guise, Catherine de Medicis, and Charles IX. 123

Effects of the massacre 124

Responsibility for it 125

Stand taken by the Protestants 126

They retire to La Roehelle 127

Bravery and ability of Henry 128

Battle of Coutras 129

Battle of Ivry 130

Abjuration of Henry IV 132

His motives 133

The ceremony 134

Edict of Nantes 135

Henry's service to France 136

Effects of the Abjuration of Henry IV. on the Huguenots . 137

Character of Henry 139, 140

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS.
THIRTY YEARS' WAR.

The Thirty Years' War a political necessity 143

Agitation which succeeded the death of Luther .... 144

Brilliancy of the period . 145

Persecution of the Protestants 145

Ferdinand II 146

Bohemia 147

Its insurrection ]47

Renewed persecution 148

Its success 149

Elector Count Palatine 150

Rallying of German princes against the Emperor . . . 150



CONTENTS. 15



PAGE

Wallenstein 151

His successful warfare 152

Consternation of Germany 153

Gustavus Adolphus comes to its relief 154

Character of Gustavus Adolphus 155

His brilliant exploits 157

Balance of power 160

Dismissal and recall of Wallenstein 165

The contending forces 167

Battle of Lutzen 171

Death of Gustavus Adolphus 172

Peace of Westphalia 1 73

Its political consequences 175

Ultimate effects of the Thirty Years' War 175-177

CARDINAL RICHELIEU.
ABSOLUTISM.

State of France in the 1 7th Century 182

Elevation of Richelieu . 185

He perceives the great necessities of the State . . . . 187

Makes himself necessary to Louis XIII 188

His aims as Prime Minister 191

His executive ability 192

His remorseless tyranny 193

His warfare on the Huguenots 194

Aims of the Huguenots 195

LaRochelle 196

Fall of the Huguenots 196

Character of the Nobility; their decimation 197

The Queen-Mother 1 98

The Duke of Orleans 199

The justification of Richelieu 199



16 CONTENTS.



Run

The Parliaments 200

Their hostilities 201

Their humiliation 202

The policy of Richelieu 203

His services to the Crown 204

His internal improvements 204

His defects of character 205

Necessity of absolutism amid treasons and anarchies . . 206

Abuse of absolutism 207

OLIVER CROMWELL.
ENGLISH REVOLUTION.

The Puritans 212

Their peculiarities 213

Love of Civil Liberty 213

Charles I. and his ministers 214

Laud 215

Strafford 215

Tyranny of the King 216

Persecution of the Puritans 216

Petition of Right 217

Reforms 217

The Parliament 218

Contest between the King and Parliament 218

War and Revolution 218

Characteristics of the Age 219

Rise of Cromwell 219

His military genius 221

Battle of Naseby 222

Of Preston 222

Conquest of Scotland 223

Execution of Charles I. 223



CONTENTS. 17



PAOK

A war measure 224

The Independents gain ascendency 225

Conquest of Ireland 227

Cromwell made Protector of the army 228

Military despotism 229

Motives of Cromwell 230

His great abilities as a ruler 234

His services to England 235

Greatness of England under Cromwell 236

Cromwell contrasted with Louis XIV 237

His intellectual defects 239

His death 240

Cromwell as an instrument of Providence 241

Occasional necessity of absolutism 242

Ultimate effect of Cromwell's rule 244

LOUIS XIV.
THE FRENCH MONARCHT.

Illustrious men on the accession of Louis XIV 251

State of France 251

Ambition of Louis XIV 252

His love of military glory 252

His character 253

His inherited greatness 256

His alliance with the Church 258

His unbounded power 260

His great ministers 261

Colbert 262

Aims of Colbert 263

His great services 2C3

Louvois 264

His great executive abilities . . , 264



18 CONTENTS.



PAOB

The first war of Louis XIV 265

Conquest of Flanders 266

Its iniquity 267

Invasion of Holland 268

Easy victories 269

Rise of William of Nassau 270

Prevents the conquest of Holland 270

Peace of Nimeguen 271

Louis in the zenith of power 272

His aggrandizement 273

His palaces 274

His court 274

His mistresses 275

His friendship with Madame de Maintenon 276

Elevation of Maintenon 276

Religious persecution 277

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes 278

Coalition against Louis XIV 281

Unfortunate wars 283-286

Humiliation 287

His death 288

Effects of his reign in France 289

LOUIS XV.
REMOTE CAUSES OF REVOLUTION.

Long reign of Louis XV 294

Decline of French military power 295

Loss of colonial possessions 295

Cardinal Fleury 296

Duke of Orleans 296

Derangement of the finances 297

Injustice of feudal privileges 298



CONTENTS. 19



PAGE

John Law 298

Mississippi scheme 299

Bursting of the bubble 300

Excessive taxation 301

Worthlessness of the nobility 303

Their effeminacy and hypocrisy 304

Character of the King 306

Corruption of his court 307

The Jesuits 309

Death of the King 310

The reign of court mistresses 311

Madame de Pompadour 312

Extravagance of the aristocracy 315

Improvements of Paris 316

Fall of the Jesuits 317-322

The Philosophers and their writings, Voltaire, Rousseau 325

Accumulating miseries and disgraceful government . . . 327

PETER THE GREAT.
His SERVICES TO RUSSIA.

State of Russia on the accession of Peter the Great . . . 331

The necessity for a great ruler to arise 332

Early days of the Czar Peter 333

Accession to the throne 333

Lefort 335

Origin of a navy 337

Seizure of Azof 340

Military reform 342

Peter sets out on his travels 343

Works as a carpenter in Holland 344

Mentchikof 345

Peter visits England . .... 346



20 CONTENTS.



PAOB

Visits Vienna 347

Completion of the apprenticeship of Peter 347

He abolishes the Streltzi 348

Various other reforms 349

Opposition of the clergy 350

War with Charles XII. of Sweden 351

Battle of Narva 351

Siege of Pultowa 352

Peter invades Turkey 352

His imprudence and rashness 353

Saved by the sagacity of his wife Catherine 353

Foundation of St. Petersburg 354

Second tour of Europe 357

Misconduct and fate of Alexis 858

Coronation of Catherine 1 362

Character of Peter 363

His great services to Russia 364

FREDERIC THE GREAT.
THE PRUSSIAN POWER.

Characteristics of the man 369

Education of Frederic II 370

His character 371

Becomes King 372

Seizure of a part of Liege 373

Seizure of Silesia 374

Maria Theresa 375

Visit of Voltaire 376

Friendship between Voltaire and Frederic 377

Coalition against Frederic 378

Seven Years' War 379

Carlyle's History of Frederic 380



CONTENTS. 21



PAGE

Empress Elizabeth of Russia 382

Decisive battles of Rossbach, Luthen, and Zorndorf . . 386

Heroism and fortitude of Frederic 387

Results of the Seven Years' War 389-391

Partition of Poland 392

Development of the resources of Prussia 394

Public improvements 395

General services of Frederic to his country 396

His character 397

His ultimate influence ... 398-404



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOLUME VIII.

PAGE
Frederick the Great and his Generals .... Frontispiece

Alfred the Great 50

Last Moments of Queen Elizabeth 102

Henry of Navarre and La Belle Fosseuse 136

Gustavus Adolphus 170

Cardinal Richelieu 204

Cromwell in Whitehall 236

Louis XIV. and Mme. de la Vallifere 276

Louis XIV 286

Louis XV 806

Peter the Great 346

Frederick the Great . . 386



ALFRED THE GREAT.

THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND.
A. D. 849-901.



BEACON LIGHTS.



ALFRED THE GREAT.



THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND.

A LFRED is one of the most interesting characters
** in all history for those blended virtues and tal-
ents which remind us of a David, a Marcus Aurelius,
or a Saint Louis, a man whom everybody loved,
whose deeds were a boon, whose graces were a radiance,
and whose words were a benediction ; alike a saint, a
poet, a warrior, and a statesman. He ruled a little
kingdom, but left a great name, second only to Charle-
magne, among the civilizers of his people and nation
in the Middle Ages. As a man of military genius he
yields to many of the kings of England, to say nothing
of the heroes of ancient and modern times.

When he was born, A. D. 849, the Saxons had occu-
pied Britain, or England, about four hundred years,
having conquered it from the old Celtic inhabitants
soon after the Romans had retired to defend their own
imperial capital from the Goths. Like the Goths, Van-
dals, Franks. Burgundians, Lombards, and Heruli, the



26 ALFRED THE GREAT.

Saxons belonged to the same Teutonic race, whose re-
motest origin can be traced to Central Asia, kindred,
indeed, to the early inhabitants of Italy and Greece,
whom we call Indo-European, or Aryan. These Saxons

one of the fiercest tribes of the Teutonic barbarians

lived, before the invasion of Britain, in that part of
Europe which we now call Schleswig, in the heart of
the peninsula which parts the Baltic from the northern
seas ; also in those parts of Germany which now belong
to Hanover and Oldenburg. It does not appear from
the best authorities that these tribes called Engle,
Saxon, and Jute wandered about seeking a precarious
living, but they were settled in villages, in the govern-
ment of which we trace the germs of the subsequent
social and political institutions of England. The social
centre was the homestead of the cetheling or eorl, dis-
tinguished from his fellow-villagers by his greater
wealth and nobler blood, and held by them in heredi-
tary reverence. From him and his brother-sethelings
the leaders of a warlike expedition were chosen. He
alone was armed with spear and sword, and his long
hair floated in the wind. He was bound to protect his
kinsmen from wrong and injustice. The land which
inclosed the village, whether reserved for pasture, wood,
or tillage, was undivided, and every free villager had
the right of turning his cattle and swine upon it, and
also of sharing in the division of the harvest. The



THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. 27

basis of the life was agricultural Our Saxon ancestors
in Germany did not subsist exclusively by hunting or
fishing, although these pursuits were not neglected.
They were as skilful with the plough and mattock as
they were in steering a boat or hunting a deer or pur-
suing a whale. They were coarse in their pleasures,
but religious in their turn of mind ; Pagans, indeed, but
worshipping the powers of Nature with poetic ardor.
They were born warriors, and their passion for the sea
led to adventurous enterprise. Before the close of the
third century their boats, driven by fifty oars, had been
seen in the British waters ; and after the Romans had
left the Britons to defend themselves against the Scots
and Picts, the harassed rulers of the land invoked the
aid of these Saxon pirates, and, headed by two ealdor-
men, Hengist and Horsa, they landed on the Isle
of Thanet in the year 449.

These two chieftains are the earliest traditionary
heroes of the Saxons in England. Their mercenary
work was soon done, and after it was done they had
no idea of retiring to their own villages in Germany.
They cast their greedy eyes on richer pastures and
more fruitful fields. Brother-pirates nocked from the
Elbe and Ehine to their settlement in Thanet. In
forty-five years after Hengist and Horsa landed, Cerdic
with a more formidable band had taken possession of a
large part of the southern coast, and pushed his way to



28 ALFRED THE GREAT.

Winchester and founded the kingdom of Wessex. But
the work of conquest was slow. It took seventy years
for the Saxons to become masters of Kent, Sussex,
Hampshire, Essex, and Wessex.

A stout resistance to the invading Saxons had been
made by the native Britons, headed by Arthur, a
legendary hero, who is thought to have lived near the
close of the fifth century. His deeds and those of the
knights of the Round Table form the subject of one
of the most interesting romances of the Middle Ages,
probably written in the brightest age of chivalry, and
by a monk very ignorant of history, since he gives
many Norman names to his characters. But all the
valor of the Celtic hero and his chivalrous followers
was of no avail before the fierce and persistent attacks
of a hardier race, bent on the possession of a fairer land
than their own.

We know but little of the details of the various con-
flicts until Britain was finally won by these predatory
tribes of barbarians. The stubborn resistance of the
Britons led to their final retreat or complete extermina-
tion, and with their disappearance also perished what re-
mained of the Eoman civilization. The resistance of the
Britons was much more obstinate than that of any of
the other provinces of the Empire ; but, as the forces ar-
rayed against them were comparatively small, the work
of conquest was slow. "It took thirty years to win



THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. 29

Kent alone, and sixty to complete the conquest of south
Britain, and nearly two hundred to subdue the whole
island." But when the conquest was made it was com-
plete, and England was Saxon, in language, in insti-
tutions, and in manners; while France retained much
of the language, habits, and institutions of the Romans,
and even of the old Gaulish elements of society. Eng-
land became a German nation on the complete wreck
of everything Roman, whose peculiar characteristic was
the freedom of those who tilled the land or gathered
around the military standard of their chieftains. It
was the gradual transfer of a whole German nation
from the Elbe and Rhine to the Thames and the Hum-
ber, with their original village institutions, under the
rule of their eorls, with the simple addition of kings,
unknown in their original settlements, but brought
about by the necessities which military life and con-
quest produced.

After the conquest we find seven petty kings, who
ruled in different parts of the island. Jealousies, wars,
and marriages soon reduced their number to three, rul-
ing over Wessex, Mercia, and Northumbria. All the
people of these kingdoms were Pagan, the chief deity
of whom was Woden. It was not till the middle of
the seventh century that Christianity was introduced
into Wessex, although Kent and Northumbria received
Christian missionaries half a century earlier. The beau-



30 ALFRED THE GREAT.

tiful though well-known tradition of the incidents
which led to the introduction of the Christian reli-
gion deserves a passing mention. About the middle of
the sixth century some Saxons taken in war, in one
of the quarrels of rival kings, and hence made slaves,
were exposed for sale in Rome. Gregory the Great,
then simply deacon, passing by the market-place, ob-
served their fair faces, white bodies, blue eyes, and
golden hair, and inquired of the slave-dealer who they
were. " They are English, or Angles." " No, not
Angles," said the pious and poetic deacon ; " they are
angels, with faces so angelic. From what country did
they come?" " From Deira." " De Ira I ay, plucked
from God's wrath. What is the name of their king?"
" Ella." " Ay, let alleluia be sung in their land." It
need scarcely be added that when this pious and witty
deacon became pope he remembered these Saxon slaves,
and sent Augustin (or Austin, not to be confounded
with Augustine of Hippo, who lived three centuries
earlier), with forty monks as missionaries to convert the
pagan Saxons. They established themselves in Kent
A. D. 597, which became the seat of the first English
bishopric, through the favor of the king, JEthelbert,
whose wife Clotilda, a French princess, had been pre-
viously converted. Soon after, Essex followed the ex-
ample of Kent; and then Northumbria. Wessex was
the last of the Saxon kingdoms to be converted, their
inhabitants being especially fierce and warlike.



THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. 31

It is singular that no traces of Christianity seem
to have been left in Britain on the completion of the
Saxon conquest, although it had been planted there as
early as the time of Constantino. Helena was a Chris-
tian, and Pelagius and Celestine were British monks.
But the Saxon conquest eradicated all that was left
of Eoman influence and institutions.

When Christianity had once acquired a foothold
among the Saxons its progress was rapid. In no coun-
try were monastic institutions more firmly planted.
Monasteries and churches were erected in the principal
settlements and liberally endowed by the Saxon kings.
In Kent were the great sees of Canterbury and Koches-
ter ; in Essex was London ; in East Anglia was Norwich ;
in Wessex was Winchester ; in Mercia were litchfield,
Leicester, Worcester, and Hereford; in Northumbria
were York, Durham, and Kipon. Each cathedral had
its schools and convents. Christianity became the law
of the land, and entered largely into all the Saxon codes.
There was a constant immigration of missionaries into
Britain, and the great sees were filled with distinguished
ecclesiastics, frequently from the continent, since a strong
union was cemented between Eome and the English
churches. Prince and prelate made frequent pilgrimages
to the old capital of the world, and were received with
distinguished honors. The monasteries were filled
with princes and nobles and ladies of rank. As early



32 ALFRED THE GREAT.

as the eighth century monasteries were enormously
multiplied and enriched, for the piety of the Saxons
assumed a monastic type. What civilization existed
can be traced chiefly to the Church.

We read of only three great names among the Saxons
who impressed their genius on the nation, until the
various Saxon kingdoms were united under the sov-
ereignty of Ecgberth, or Egbert, king of Wessex, about
the middle of the ninth century. These were Isadore,
Caedmon, and Bseda. The first was a monk from Tar-
sus, whom the Pope dispatched in the year 668 to
Britain as Archbishop of Canterbury. To him the work
of church organization was intrusted. He enlarged the
number of the sees, and arranged them on the basis
which was maintained for a thousand years. The sub-
ordination of priest to bishop and bishop to primate
was more clearly defined by him. He also assembled
councils for general legislation, which perhaps led the
way to national parliaments. He not only organized
the episcopate, but the parish system, and even the
system of tithes has been by some attributed to him.
The missionary who had been merely the chaplain of
a nobleman became the priest of the manor or parish.

The second memorable man was born a cowherd;
encouraged to sing his songs by the abbess Hilda, a
" Northumbrian Deborah." When advanced in life he
entered through her patronage a convent, and sang the



THE SAXONS IN ENGLAND. 33

marvellous and touching stories of the Hebrew Scrip-
tures, fixing their truths on the mind of the nation,
and becoming the father of English poetry.

The third of these great men was the greatest, Bseda,
or Bede, as the name is usually spelled. He was a
priest of the great abbey church of Weremouth, in Nor-
thumbria, and was a master of all the learning then
known. He was the life of the famous school of Jarrow,
and it is said that six hundred monks, besides strangers,
listened to his teachings. His greatest work was an
"Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation," which
extends from the landing of Julius Caesar to the year
731. He was the first English historian, and the found-
er of mediaeval history, and all we know of the one
hundred and fifty years after the landing of Augustin
the missionary is drawn from him. He was not only
historian, but theologian, the father of the education
of the English nation.

It was one hundred and fourteen years after the
death of the "venerable Bede" before Alfred was born,
A. D. 849, the youngest son of ^thelwulf, king of Wes-
sex, who united under his rule all the Saxon kingdoms.
The mother of Alfred was Osburgha, a German princess
of extraordinary force of character. From her he re-
ceived, at the age of four, the first rudiments of educa-
tion, and learned to sing those Saxon ballads which he

s



34 ALFRED THE GREAT.

afterwards recited with so much effect in the Danish
camp. At the age of five Alfred was sent to Eome,
probably to be educated, where he remained two years,
visiting on his return the court of Charles the Bald,
the centre of culture in Western Europe. The cele-
brated Hincmar, Archbishop of Kheims, the greatest
churchman of the age, was the most influential min-
ister of the king ; at whose table also sat John Erigena,
then engaged in a controversy with Gotteschalk, the
German monk, about the presence of Christ in the
eucharist, the earliest notable theological contro-
versy after the Patristic age. Alfred was too young to
take an interest in this profound discussion; but he
may perhaps have received an intellectual impulse
from his visit to Home and Paris, which affected his
whole subsequent life.

About this time his father, over sixty years of age,
married a French princess of the name of Judith, only
fourteen years of age, even in that rude age a great
scandal, which nearly resulted in his dethronement.
He lived but two years longer ; and his youthful widow,
to the still greater scandal of the realm and Church,
married her late husband's eldest son, Ethelbald, who


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryJohn LordBeacon lights of history (Volume 8) → online text (page 1 of 22)