Oliver J. (Oliver Joseph) Thatcher.

A short history of mediæval Europe online

. (page 16 of 25)
Online LibraryOliver J. (Oliver Joseph) ThatcherA short history of mediæval Europe → online text (page 16 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

190 A SJiort History of MedicBiml Europe

His quicken-
ing influence
on the Arabs.

danism is

fashion, mending his own clothes, and attending to his own
wants. He needed no slaves, and consequently liberated most
of the captives who fell to him in the distribution of spoil.
He was never a tyrant to his people. He was mild, gentle,
forgiving, and conciliatory. He associated freely with
men of every rank. He was free from luxury in food, dress,
and surroundings. He was true in all his friendships and
deeply grateful for any kindness shown him. In common
with his age, he was superstitious and belived in the influ-
ence of good and evil spirits, and the importance of dreams
and all kinds of omens.

Mohammed made the Arabs into a nation and brought
them into history. His influence on them intellectually
may be seen from the fact that for nearly three hundred
years the Arabs led the world in civilization. The good
parts of his work \vere later destroyed by the ignorant and
fanatical peoples from central Asia, who came down and
acquired the political power over the Mohammedan world.
Under their infl^uence all the evils of Mohammed's religion
were developed and its good destroyed. Mohammed him-
self is not responsible for the Mohammedanism of to-day,
-which is the creation of the Turkish peoples who adopted
his religion and ruled it for nearly eight hundred years.
Turkish Mohammedanism is a very diff'erent thing from the
early Arabic Mohammedanism.

Mohammed was a religious genius. It may be objected
that he produced nothing new and that he was indebted to
the Jews and Christians for nearly all his ideas. While that
is true, he nevertheless felt, as no one else had for several
centuries, the power of these ideas. He saw and felt a great
religious truth in a direct way. His originality consisted
not so much in new knowledge as in the vigor, directness,
and certainty of his religious perceptions. Others might
have learned the same things from the Jews and Christians,

Mohammedanism and the Crusades 191

but Mohammed alone felt their truth and breathed into
them a new religious power, ^-^^'i'}-^'^^ - '

Mohammed died in 632" and in turn four of his earliest
converts, Abu Bekr (632-34), Omar (634-44), Othman
(644-55), and Ali (655-61), wereelected Khalif. Before
the death of Ali, Syria, Persia, the Euphrates valley, and
all the territory as far as the Oxus river and the confines of
India, and Egypt, with a part of north Africa, were con-
quered and converted to the faith of Mohammed. But dis- Divisions in
sensions arose, and Othman and Ali were both murdered, mcdan \vorid.
A relative of Othman's made himself Khalif and established
himself in Damascus (661) instead of in Medina. He and
his family are known as the Ommeiades, and they ruled in
Damascus till, in 750, the Abbassides, the descendants of
an uncle of Mohammed, usurped the Khalifateand removed
its seat to Bagdad. This change of capital was a mistake,
because from that city it was impossible to rule the whole
Mohammedan world. Egypt and Spain revolted and set
up rival Khalifs. In the eleventh century the Seldjuk ■
Turks came down from central Asia and made themselves
master of all the Mohammedan parts of Asia. In 1058 their
leader, Togrul Beg, went to Bagdad, received all tlie
temporal authority of the Khalif, and became Sukan of
the Mohammedan world. The Khalif became merely a
religious officer ; the political authority rested in the
hands of Togrul Beg and his successors. The changed
Khalifate continued till 1258, when the son of the great
conqueror, Ghengis Khan, put to death the last Khalif at

In 750, when the Ommciad dynasty was destroyed, one
member of the family escaped and made his way to Spain, Spaia
where he was received with honor and recognized as the
lord of the country. With the name of Emir or Sultan,
he and his descendants ruled in Spain till 929, when they


192 A Short History of Mediceval Europe

assumed the title of Khalif. Under this family the Moham-
medan power in Spain was well united and enjoyed a sea-
son of great prosperity. In 103 1, however, a revolution
put an end to the Khalifate, breaking it into a large num-
ber of small principalities, and the Christians, pressing in
on all sides, reconquered some of their territory.

Africa. After the fall of the Ommeiads Africa suffered a long

period of violence and discord ; but in the tenth century a
pretended descendant of Fatima, a daughter of Mohammed,
got possession of it. His descendants founded Cairo (969)
and made it the seat of their government. They controlled
nearly all the islands of the western Mediterranean and held
several posts in Italy and France. By constant wars, how-
ever, their power was broken, and in 11 71 Saladin, the ruler
of western Asia, conquered Egypt and made an end of the
Khalifate of Cairo.

During the five centuries following Mohammed's death

The Arabic there was produced among his followers a civilization far
in advance of anything in Europe. The basis for it all
they received from Persia and Greece, but they added
much to the stock thus obtained. In the administration of
the government the Mohammedans had an excellent sys-
tem, which was pretty thoroughly unified. Their system
of taxation was good. They restored the old Roman roads
and built new ones, binding all parts of the empire to-
gether, and they constructed canals and aqueducts. A
postal system was in operation among them. Cities sprang
up in all parts of the emj)ire, many of them numbering a
half million or more inhabitants. They developed a beau-
tiful style of architecture, which was characterized by the
round and horse-shoe arch, the dome, the tall and graceful
minaret, and the richness of its interior ornamentation. In
everything connected with their buildings they showed the
most exquisite taste and appreciation of beauty, and their

Mohmnvicdanistn and the Crusades 193

architectural remains are still the wonder and envy of the

They established universities, which excelled all those of Learning.
Europe for several centuries. The mosques were generally
the seats of universities or learned societies, and were the
places where all sorts of questions were freely discussed.
The universities of Bagdad, Cairo, and Cordova were es-
pecially famous, l)ut there were also many others. The
university of Cairo, which still exists in the mosque El-
Azhar, had as many as twelve thousand students. Libraries
were formed, some of which are said to have contained
several hundred thousand volumes. The universities, espe-
cially in Spain, were visited by many Christians, who thus
carried the Mohammedan learning and culture into Chris-
tian Europe. One of the most famous of these students
was Gerbert, afterward Pope Sylvester II., who did much
to introduce the science of mathematics into Europe.
Philosophy, theology, law, rhetoric, and philology were
studied with great zest. Dictionaries were compiled, and
commentaries on the Koran written. The Mohammedans
were acquainted with the works of Aristotle, and their
philosophical systems were based on him. Several works
by them on travel and history and some biographies are
handed down to us.

In mathematics they built on the work of the Greek Mathematics,
mathematicians. The origin of the so-called Arabic nu-
merals is obscure. Under Theoderic the Great, Boethius
made use of certain signs which were in part very like the
nine digits which we now use. One of the pupils of Ger-
bert also used signs which were still more like ours, but the
zero was unknown till in the twelfth century, when it was
invented by an Arab mathematician named Mohammed-
Ibn-Mousa, who also first used the decimal notation and
gave the digits the value of position. In geometry the

1 94 A SJiort History of Mcdiceval Europe

Arabs did not add much to Euclid, but Algebra is practi-
cally their creation, and they developed spherical trigonom-
etry also, inventing the sine, tangent, and cotangent. In
physics they invented the pendulum, and produced works
on optics and kindred subjects. They made progress in
the science of astronomy. They built several observatories
and constructed many astronomical instruments which are
still in use. They calculated the angle of the ecliptic and
the precession of the equinoxes. Their knowledge of the
subject was undoubtedly profound.
Medicine. In medicine they made great advances over the work of

the Greeks in the same line. They studied physiology
and hygiene, and their "materia medica " was practically
the same as ours to-day. Many of their methods of treat-
ment are still in use among us. Their surgeons performed
some of the most difficult operations known. They knew
the use of anaesthetics. At the time when in Europe the
practice of medicine was forbidden by the Church, and
cures were expected to be effected by religious rites per-
formed by the clergy, the Arabs had a real science of medi-
cine. In chemistry they made a good beginning. They
discovered many new substances and compounds, such as
alcohol, potassium, nitrate of silver, corrosive sublimate,
and nitric and sulphuric acid.

There was great literary activity among them, and they
produced many works of the imagination. They had a
special fondness for poetry. In manufactures they outdid
the world in variety and beauty of design and perfection of
workmanship. They worked in all the metals — gold, sil-
ver, copper, bronze, iron, and steel. In textile fabrics they
have never been surpassed. They made glass and pottery
of the finest quality. They knew the secrets of dyeing and
they manufactured paper. They had many processes of
dressing leather, and their work was famous throughout


Mohannncdanism and the Crusades 195

Europe. They made tinctures, essences, and syrups.
They made sugar from the cane and grew many fine kinds
of wine. They practised farming in a scientific way.
They had good systems of irrigation. They knew the
value of fertihzers, and fitted their crops to the quality of
the ground. They excelled in horticulture, knowing how
to graft and being able to produce new varieties of fruits
and flowers. They introduced into the west many trees
and plants from the east, and wrote scientific treatises on

Their commerce attained great projjortions. Their cara- Commerce,
vans traversed the empire from one end to the other, and
their sails covered the seas. They held at many ])laces
great fairs and markets, some of which were visited by
merchants from all parts of Europe and Asia. Their mer-
chants had connections with China, India, and the East
Indies, with the interior of Africa and with Russia, and
with all the countries lying around the Baltic.

Much of the Mohammedan civilization was destined to Arabic civiiiza-

- , tion destrovecl

be introduced into Europe, especially by means ot the cru- by the Turks,
sades. In its own home, however, it suffered almost com-
plete annihilation by the coming of the ignorant and fanat-
ical Turks, who showed, indeed, that they could prey upon
it, but could not assimilate and improve it ; whose fanati-
cism led them to oppose all science, because it might be in-
jurious to their religious belief; and whose hatred of peo-
ple of other religions led them into wars with them, during
which industries and commerce languished. Since the
Turks were Barbarians and without any ap])reciation of the
necessaries as well as the luxuries of civilized life, they
tended to destroy the culture which they found. Since
their coming Mohammedanism has no longer been what it
was originally, and the lands which were once gardens are
now almost like a desert.

196 A Sho7't History of Mcdiceval Europe

Urban II.
preaches the
first crusade.

Peter the

The descendants of Togrul Beg continued their con-
quests to the west till they took Asia Minor from the Em-
peror and even threatened Constantinople. In his extrem-
ity the Emperor is said to have sent messengers to the Pope
to ask aid. In 1095 Urban II. went into France, and at
a council at Clermont called on all the west to take up
arms and recover the holy places. He met with an unex-
pected response. After he had ceased speaking, thousands
pressed around him, took the vow to go on the crusade and
received the sign, a red cross fastened on the right shoul-
der, diagonally across the breast. Urban renewed the
prohibition of private war, put the property of all crusaders
under the special protection of the Church, offered large
rewards to all who would join the movement, and com-
manded the clergy to preach the crusade in all parts of
France. Among the many who went out to preach the
crusade was Peter the Hermit. The ordinary accounts of
Peter, which made him the originator of the crusade, are
entirely false. He had never been in Palestine ; had
never seen the Pope ; and had nothing to do with Urban
till after the crusade had been announced at Clermont.
By his preaching he got together a few thousand men and
women — simply a disorderly mob without arms — and set
out for Palestine. He led them to Constantinople and
thence a short distance into Asia Minor, where they were
cut to pieces by the Turks. Peter himself escaped to Con-
stantinople, and waited for the main army to come up.

There was no leader of the crusade, and no central
authority. From the north of France came Hugo of Ver-
mandois, a brother of King Philip I. ; Stephen of Blois,
Robert of Normandy, Godfrey of Boulogne and his two
brothers, Eustace and Baldwin, and their nephew, Bald-
win the Younger ; from southern France, Raymond, count
of Toulouse; and from Italy, Boemund and his nephew,


Mohammedanisin and the Crusades 197

Tancred. Of all these only one, Eoemnnd, had any abil- The leaders

, - , J 1 • • inefficient, the

ity as a leader ; and unfortunately for the undertaking, it army not con-
was impossible for him to obtain the leadership. Each one solida.ted.
led his own men, and was practically independent of all the
others. It is said that the army which was thus brought
together numbered nearly a million, Ijut we have no means
of forming an accurate estimate of its size.

The crusading army was very motley in its make-up.
Many had, of course, joined the movement for religious
motives, and wished to have a part in the meritorious work Motives of the


of reconquering the holy places. The Pope had promised
remission of sins to all who should lose their lives while on
the crusade, and many supernatural advantages seemed
likely to be derived from such an undertaking. Others
were there who had run away from their debts or from their
families ; there were even criminals, who hoped thus to
escape punishment. Many serfs ran away from their lords,
and from the hard condition under which they lived.
Many came because of the opportunity to gratify their love
of adventure and travel. The leaders, almost without ex-
ception, had joined in the movement principally because
they wished to acquire power and establisli an independent
principality somewhere in the east, on lands to be taken
from the Saracens or from the Greeks. The Pope had the
desire to deliver the holy places, but at the same time he
wished to extend his ecclesiastical authority over the east.
The cities of Italy, some of which joined to a certain ex-
tent in the first crusade, were led principally by the desire
to extend their commerce and to secure harbor privileges
in the east.

Remembering his recent experiences with Robert Guis-
card, Alexius, the p]mperor at Constantinople, feared the Alexius has
crusaders. He divined the j^uqiose of the leaders and felt fo"r°tear'ing"the
that he was not secure from their attacks. It was quite crusaders.

198 A Short History of Mcdiceval Europe

natural that he should endeavor to protect his interests.
As the leaders arrived at Constantinople he either per-
suaded or forced them to take an oath that they would de-
liver to him all the territory which they should conquer,
promising them that, if they Avished, they might receive it
back as a fief. Boemund was the only one of the crusaders
frank enough to tell the Emperor what his intentions were.
He offered his services, plainly informing Alexius that he
wished to make his fortune in the east ; but the Empemf
distrusted him. *^

In 1097 the army, after crossing the Bosporus, set out
Nicnea taken, for Nicaea. After besieging the town for several days, they
^°^'^' were about to take it when Alexius secured its surrender to

himself. The crusaders, not allowed to sack the place,
were angry with Alexius, and accused him of acting in bad
faith with them. Their charges were, however, without

The march through Asia Minor was a difficult one and
many perished by the way of hunger and thirst. Toward
the end of October, 1097, the army reached Antioch,
which they soon besieged. The city held out for several
months, and a great army under Kerbogha, Emir of Mosul,
was approaching for its relief, when Boemund told the
Antioch taken, Other leaders that if they would agree to give him Antioch
^°5^" for his possession, he would deliver it into their hands.

They consented, and the following night Boemund secured
an entrance into the city. At daybreak the gates were
opened, the crusaders rushed in, and the work of destruc-
tion and pillage began. The Mohammedans were killed
without pity and their houses looted. Only the citadel
held out, but to this, in the wild scramble for spoil, the
Kerbogha. crusaders i>aid no attention. Three days later Kerbogha
arrived, and now tlic crusaders became the besieged. For a
few days Kerbogha pushed the siege with great vigor. The

MohauDiicdanism and the Crusades 199

Christians lost courage, and it seemed that the city could
not hold out against Kerbogha ; but a pious fraud was now
planned, which filled the crusaders with enthusiasm and
enabled them to overcome the besieging army. It was
said that in a vision the whereabouts of the holy lance had
been revealed to one of the crusaders, and when they dug
in the place designated, of course they found the lance.
Some of the crusaders knew that this was a fraud, but
(^hers believed in it. When the army marched out with
tm lance at its head, the army of Kerbogha was put to
utter rout, leaving its camp in the hands of the Christians.

In the meantime Baldwin, the brother of Godfrey, had
gone to Edessa and had by very questionable means made Edcssa.
himself master of the city. Edessa became a most impor-
tant outpost of the Christians.

After the destruction of Kerbogha's army the way was
open to Jerusalem. Boemund wished to remain in An-
tioch until he had got the city under his control. Ray- Ami.itiun of
mond of Toulouse, envious at the good fortune of Boemund, Toiiiouse.
and himself coveting the city, refused to proceed to Jeru-
salem. He tried in vain in every way to gain a foothold
in the neighl)orhood of Antioch and to dispossess Boe-
mund. At length the crusaders, angry at the delay, de-
clared they would burn Antioch unless Raymond gave up
the struggle and led them on to Jerusalem. Raymond
yielded very unwillingly, and more than once stopped by
the way and laid siege to some town. At last, worn out
with waiting, the crusaders set fire to their tents and be-
gan a mad sort of race toward Jerusalem. Reaching the
city they besieged it for several weeks, and finally stormed jcntsaleiii

.. T 1 taken, icxig.

It, July 15, 1099.

Hardly was the city taken when a quarrel arose as to
what should be done with it. The clergy wished to make
it an ecclesiastical state under the rule of a Patriarch. Tlie

200 yl Short History of BTcdicsval Europe

Godfrey of
made Pro-
tector of the
Holy Grave,

Crusade of

Strife among
the Christian
states in Syria.

Zenki takes
Edessa, 1144.

princes, however, would not listen to this, but could with
difficulty find any one who wished to assume control of it.
In the end a compromise was effected by which Godfrey of
Boulogne was put over it with the title of Protector of
the Holy Grave. A few days later the crusaders left Jeru-
salem and began their journey home, and the first crusade
was at an end. It had cost Europe an immense number of
men, and, if we look at the actual results, had accomplished
very little. Boemund had possession of Antioch, Baldwin
of Edessa, and Godfrey of Jerusalem. Alexius had also
regained nearly all of Asia Minor. In the eyes of the west,
however, the reconquest of the Holy Grave was by far the
most important result of the crusade and well worth all that
it had cost. The returning crusaders were received with
every mark of honor, and their stories so filled the people
with enthusiasm that a new crusade was immediately organ-
ized. From 1 100 to 1102 several hundred thousand men
went to the east, only to be cut to pieces in Asia Minor.

The Christian states which had been founded in the
east had a checkered history, many chapters of which were
far from ideal. Lack of good political judgment, jealousy,
intrigue, and treachery prevented their best development.
They quarrelled with the Emperor and with each other, and
it often happened that alliances were made between the
Mohammedans and the Christians of one state against those
of another.

The new emir of Mosul, Zenki, was ambitious to rule
over the Mohammedan world and began a policy of con-
quest. In 1 144 he took Edessa and threatened both An-
tioch and Jerusalem, till, in their extremity, the Christians
appealed to the west for help. The fall of Edessa caused,
great consternation in Europe, without, however, producing'
any immediate action.

Europe had undergone a great change since Urban II.



^ D i



Saat 30^/rom Greenwich.



\ c

^ L D a\ E-



jn T E R K I T O"'^ Y





s E L D J trie S I A \^^-^^

Iconium /'/ A. B M t^N I ^^





++■•-+ lirat Crusad;'in06 1099
Second Crusade, 1117 lJi9

Louis VII Conrad III

Third Crusade, 11S9 1190 Frederic I

Third Crusade, 1190 1191 Richard

and Philip Augustus.


Mohammedanism and the Crusades 20t

had first issued the call to a crusade. Contested papal Europe

, - . ^^ . -, , J changed.

elections and the rule of some inerncient Topes had some-
what reduced the power and prestige of the Papacy. Eu-
rope had in the meantime been growing rich from her rap-
idly increasing commerce, and wealth was producing a
great change in the people. Political interests were oc-
cupying a larger place in the minds of all. Louis VI. was
strengthening the royal power in France. Roger had made
a kingdom out of Sicily and southern Italy. The cities of
Lombardy were increasing in wealth, power, and inde-
pendence.. A great change, chief index of which was
Abelard, had taken place in the thought of Europe. Here
and there people had begun to think independently of/
the Church and her creed. Reason was awakening. The
study of Roman law had been revived. Poets were begin-
ning to sing songs of love and wine. Europe was slowly
recovering from her attack of asceticism, and was thinking
less of the future world and giving herself up to the enjoy-
ment of this. Arnold of Brescia was in Rome, preaching
against the wealth of the clergy and their exercise of polit-
ical authority. The high demands of Gregory VII. had
been relaxed a little. Pope Eugene III. was himself un-
important, and the leadership was in the hands of Bernhard
of Clairvaux, who did not wish that the Popes should have
secular power. He thought that their spiritual authority
should be enforced only by spiritual means.

A second crusade under these circumstances was difficult.
But, by his eloquence, Bernhard of Clairvaux overcame all
difficulties. Louis VII. of France was desirous of going,
and Conrad III. of Germany yielded to Bernhard's fiery
speech and took the vow. The German army did the
Greeks much damage while passing through the Empire,
and the Emperor actually had to make war on them before ■-'
they could be brought to their senses. The French army

202 A Short History of Medieval Europe

Failure of the

Saladin con-
quers Syria,
1 1 87.


was more discreet ; but to make the situation more critical,
King Robert II. of Sicily was making war on the Empire.
The Emperor was in great danger from the crusaders, but

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Online LibraryOliver J. (Oliver Joseph) ThatcherA short history of mediæval Europe → online text (page 16 of 25)