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north of the Danube River. Then came the West Goths, who swept into
this country, but soon left it for the west of Europe. Next came the
Slavic tribes who are the ancestors of the modern Serbs. Following
these, came a large tribe which did not belong to the Indo-European
family, but was distantly related to the Finns and the Turks. These
people were called the Volgars, for they came from the country around
the River Volga. Before long, we find them called the Bulgars. (The
letters B and V are often interchanged in the languages of
south-eastern Europe. The people of western Europe used to call the
country of the Serbs Servia, but the Serbs objected, saying that the
word servio, in Latin, means "to be a slave," and that as they were
not slaves, they wanted their country to be called by its true name,
Serbia. The Greeks, on the other hand, pronounce the letter B as
though it were V.)

A strange thing happened to the Volgars or Bulgars. They completely
gave up their Asiatic language and adopted a new one, which became in
time the purest of the Slavic tongues. They intermarried with the
Slavs around them and adopted Slavic names. They founded a flourishing
nation which lay between the kingdom of Serbia and the Greek Empire of

North of the Bulgars lay the country of the Roumani (ro͞o
mä'nï). These people claimed to be descended from the Roman
Emperor's colonists, as was previously told, but the reason their
language is so much like the Italian is that a large number of people
from the north of Italy moved into the country nearly a thousand years
after the first Roman colonists settled there. From 900 to 1300 A.D.,
south-eastern Europe was inhabited by Serbians, Bulgarians,
Roumanians, and Greeks.

[Illustration: A Typical Bulgarian Family]

A fifth people perhaps ought to be counted here, the Albanians.
(See map) This tribe is descended from the Illyrians, who
inhabited the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea even before the time
of the Roman Empire. Their language, like the Greek, is a branch of
the Indo-European family which is neither Latin, Celtic, Germanic, nor
Slavic. They are distant cousins of the Italians and are also slightly
related to the Greeks. They are a wild, fierce, uncivilized people,
and have never known the meaning of law and order. Robbery and warfare
are common. Each village is always fighting with the people of the
neighboring towns. The Albanians, or Skipetars (skïp'ĕtars) as
they call themselves, were Christians until they were conquered by the
Turks about 1460. Since that time, the great majority of them have
been staunch believers in the Mohammedan religion.

Questions for Review

1. Where did the great Indo-European family of languages have its
2. Why is it that the Celtic languages are dying out?
3. What killed the Celtic languages in Spain and France?
4. What are the three parts of Europe where Germanic languages are
5. In what parts of Europe are languages spoken which are descended
from the Latin?
6. Explain the presence in Austria-Hungary of eleven different
7. Are the Bulgarians really a Slavic people?


"The Terrible Turk"

The Greek Empire at Constantinople. - The invading Mohammedans. - The
Ottoman Turks. - The fall of Constantinople. - The enslaving of the
Bulgars, Serbs, Greeks, Albanians, and Roumanians. - One little part of
Serbia unconquered. - The further conquests of the Turks. - The attack
on Vienna. - John Sobieski to the rescue. - The waning of the Turkish
empire. - The Spanish Jews. - The jumble of languages and peoples in
southeastern Europe.

In the last chapter, we referred briefly to the Greek empire at
Constantinople. This city was originally called Byzantium, and was a
flourishing Greek commercial center six hundred years before Christ.
Eleven hundred years after this, a Roman emperor named Constantine
decided that he liked Byzantium better than Rome. Accordingly, he
moved the capital of the empire to the Greek city, and renamed it
Constantinopolis (the word polis means "city" in Greek). Before long,
we find the Roman empire divided into two parts, the capital of one at
Rome, of the other at Constantinople. This eastern government was
continued by the Greeks nearly one thousand years after the government
of the western empire had been seized by the invading Germanic tribes.

[Illustration: The Turkish Sultan before Constantinople]

For years, this Greek empire at Constantinople had been obliged to
fight hard against the Mohammedans who came swarming across the
fertile plains of Mesopotamia (mĕs'ō pō tā' mĭ ā) and Asia
Minor. (Mesopotamia is the district lying between the Tigris
(tī'grĭs) and Euphrates (ūfrā'tēz) Rivers. Its name in Greek
means "between the rivers.") The fiercest of the Mohammedan tribes,
the warlike Ottoman Turks, were the last to arrive. For several years,
they thundered at the gates of Constantinople, while the Greek Empire
grew feebler and feebler.

At last in 1453, their great cannon made a breach in the walls, and
the Turks poured through. The Greek Empire was a thing of the past,
and all of southeastern Europe lay at the mercy of the invading
Moslems (another name for "Mohammedans"). The Turks did not drive out
the Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbians, and Albanians, but settled down
among them as the ruling, military class. They strove to force these
peoples to give up Christianity and turn Mohammedans, but were
successful only in the case of the Skipetars of Albania. The
Albanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Roumanians remained where
they had been, but were oppressed by the newcomers.

For more than two hundred years after the capture of Constantinople,
the Turks pushed their conquests farther and farther into Europe. The
entire coast of the Black Sea fell into their hands. All of Greece,
all of Bulgaria, and all of Roumania became part of their empire. Of
the kingdom of Serbia, one small province remained unconquered. Up in
the mountains near the coast of the Adriatic gathered the people of
one county of the Serbian kingdom. As the Turks attacked them, they
retreated higher and higher up the mountain sides and rolled huge
stones down upon the invaders. Finally, the Turk became disgusted, and
concluded that "the game was not worth the candle." Thus the little
nation of Montenegro was formed, composed of Serbians who never
submitted to the Ottoman rule. (The inhabitants of this small country
call it Tzernagorah (tzẽr nä gō'ra); the Italians call it
Montenegro. Both of these names mean "Dark Mountain.")

Not satisfied with these conquests, the Turks pushed on, gaining
control of the greater part of the kingdom of Hungary. About 1682,
they were pounding at the forts around Vienna. The heroic king of
Poland, John Sobieski (sō bĭ ĕs'kĭ), came to the rescue of the
Austrian emperor with an army of Poles and Germans and
completely defeated the Turks. He saved Vienna, and ended any further
advance of the Turkish rule into Europe. (The map on page 82
shows the high water mark of the Turkish conquests.)

It must be remembered that the original inhabitants of the conquered
lands were still living where they always had lived. The Turks were
very few in number compared with the millions of people who inhabited
their empire and paid them tribute. Many wars were caused by this
conquest, but it was two hundred and thirty years before the Christian
peoples won back their territory.

[Map: Southeastern Europe 1690 A.D.]

By the year 1685, the Hungarians had begun to win back part of their
kingdom. By 1698, almost all of Hungary and Transylvania was free from
Turkish rule. It will be recalled that a certain Count of Hapsburg had
become Emperor of Germany, and when we say Germany, we include
Austria, which had become the home of the Hapsburgs. It was shortly
after this that the Hapsburg family came to be lords of Hungary also,
through the marriage of one of their emperors with the only daughter
of the king of that country. (See page 69.)

In this way, when the province of Bukowina and the territory known as
the Banat, just north of the Danube and west of what is now Roumania,
were reconquered from the Turks, it was the joint kingdom to which
they were attached. (Bukowina has never been a part of Hungary. It is
still a crown land, or county subject to the emperor of Austria

During the 15th century, the southeastern part of Europe came to be
inhabited by a still different people. Not long after Ferdinand and
Isabella, the king and queen of Spain, had conquered the Moorish
kingdom of Granada (see Chapter II) that used to stretch across
the southern half of Spain, the Spaniards decided to drive out of
their country all "unbelievers," that is, all who were not Christians
of the Catholic faith. (This happened in 1492, the same year that they
sent Columbus to America.) The Moors retreated into Africa, which was
their former home, but the millions of Spanish Jews had no homeland to
which to return. In the midst of their distress, the Sultan of Turkey,
knowing them to be prosperous and well-behaved citizens, invited them
to enter his land. They did so by hundreds of thousands.

The descendants of these people are to be found today throughout the
Balkan peninsula, though mainly in the large cities. They are so
numerous in Constantinople that four newspapers are published there in
the Spanish language, but printed in Hebrew characters. The city of
Salonika, a prosperous seaport of 140,000 people, which used to belong
to Turkey but now is part of Greece, has over 50,000 of these Jews.
They readily learn other tongues, and many of them can talk in four or
five languages besides their native Spanish, which they still use in
the family circle.

Constantinople (called Stamboul by the Turks) is a polyglot city, that
is, a place of many languages. Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Jews,
Italians are all found mingled together.

[Illustration: A Scene in Salonicka]

The main source of trouble in the Balkan peninsula is that the races
and nationalities are so jumbled together that it is almost impossible
to say which land should belong to which nation. Take the case of
Macedonia (the district just northwest of the Aegean Sea). It is
inhabited largely by Bulgarians, and yet there are so many Greeks and
Serbs mixed in with the former that at the close of the last Balkan
war in 1913, Greece and Serbia both claimed it as belonging to them
because of the "prevailing nationality of its inhabitants!" In other
words, the Serbians claimed that the inhabitants of Macedonia were
largely Serbs, the Greeks were positive that its people were largely
Greeks, while Bulgaria is very resentful today because the land was
not given to her, on the ground that almost all its inhabitants are

Religious and racial hatreds have had a great deal to do with making
the Balkan peninsula a hotbed of political trouble. Right in the
center of Bulgaria, for example, speaking the same language, dressing
exactly alike, doing business with each other on an equal footing, are
to be found the native Bulgarian and the descendant of the Turkish
conquerors; yet one goes to the Greek Orthodox Church to worship and
the other to the Mohammedan Mosque. With memories of hundreds of years
of wrong and oppression behind them, Bulgarians and Turks hate and
despise each other with a fierce intensity. Let us now leave the
Balkan states, with their seething pot of racial and religious hatred,
and turn to other causes of European wars.

Questions for Review

1. What became of the Greeks when the Turks captured Constantinople?
2. Why could one county of Serbia resist the Turks?
3. How long after the fall of Constantinople were the Turks
threatening Vienna?
4. Explain how Constantinople has people of so many different
5. Why have the Turk and Bulgarian never been friendly?


The Rise of Modern Nations

How the peasants looked upon war. - War the opportunity of the fighting
men. - The decreasing power of barons. - The growth of royal power. - How
four little kingdoms became Spain. - Other kingdoms of Europe. - The
rise of Russia. - The Holy Roman Empire. - The electors. - The rise of
Brandenburg. - The elector of Brandenburg becomes King of
Prussia. - Frederick the Great. - The seizure of Silesia and the
consequent wars.

You have already been shown how in the early days of the feudal
system, the lords, with their squires, knights, and fighting men made
up a class of the population whose only trade was war, and how the
poor peasants were compelled to raise crops and live stock enough to
feed both themselves and the fighting men. These peasants had no love
for war, as war resulted only in their losing their possessions in
case their country was invaded by the enemy. The fighting men, on the
other hand, had nothing to do unless war was going on, and as those
who were not killed returned from a war with rich plunder in case they
were victorious, they were always looking for a chance to start
trouble with some neighboring country.

In those days, kings cared little what their nobles did, so long as
the nobles furnished them with fighting men in times of war. As a
result, one county in a certain kingdom would often be at war with a
neighboring county. The fighting man either was killed in battle or he
came out of it with increased glory and plunder, but the peasants and
the common people had nothing to gain by war and everything to lose.
As we have seen, force ruled the world, and the common people had no
voice in their government. The workers were looked down upon by the
members of the fighting class, who never did a stroke of work
themselves and considered honest toil as degrading. In fact, as one
writer has said, the only respectable trade in Europe in those days
was what we today would call highway robbery.

France and England in the 15th Century

Gradually in most of the European countries the king was able to put
down the power of his nobles and make himself master over the whole
nation. In this way a strong central power grew up in France. After
the death of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1477, no noble
dared to question the leadership of the king of France. The same thing
was true in England after the battle of Bosworth in 1485, which
resulted in the death of King Richard III and the setting of the Tudor
family on the throne.

Spain and Other Kingdoms

Spain had been divided into four little kingdoms: Leon, Castile,
Aragon, and Granada, the latter ruled by the Moors. The nation
marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon to Isabella of Castile and Leon joined
the three Christian kingdoms into one, and after 1492, when the Moors
were defeated and Granada annexed to the realm of Ferdinand and
Isabella, Spain became one kingdom. About this time, also, there had
grown up a strong kingdom of Hungary, a kingdom of Portugal, a kingdom
of Poland, and one of Denmark. Norway was ruled by the Danes, but
Sweden was a separate kingdom. In Russia, Czar Ivan the Terrible
(1533-84) had built up a strong power which was still further
strengthened by Czar Peter the Great (1690-1725).

The Holy Roman Empire

The rest of the continent of Europe, with the exception of the Turkish
Empire, formed what was called the Holy Roman Empire, a rule which had
been founded by Charlemagne (A.D. 800), the great Frankish monarch,
who had been crowned in Rome by the pope as ruler of the western
world. (The name "Holy Roman Empire" was not used by Charlemagne. We
first hear of it under Otto I, the Saxon emperor, who was crowned in

[Map: The Empire of Charlemagne]

This Holy Roman Empire included all of what is now Germany (except the
eastern third of Prussia), all of what is now Bohemia, Austria (but
not Hungary), and all of Italy except the part south of Naples. There
were times when part of France and all of the low countries (now
Belgium and Holland) also belonged to the Empire. (The mountaineers of
Switzerland won their independence from the Empire in the fourteenth
century, and formed a little republic.) See map "Europe in 1540."

[Map: Europe in 1540]

In the Holy Roman Empire, the son of the emperor did not necessarily
succeed his father as ruler. There were seven (afterwards nine)
"electors" who, at the death of the ruling monarch, met to elect his
successor. Three of these electors were archbishops, one was king of
Bohemia, and the others were counts of large counties in Germany like
Hanover and Brandenburg. It frequently happened that the candidate
chosen was a member of the family of the dead emperor, and there were
three or four families which had many rulers chosen from among their
number. The most famous of these families was that of the Counts of
Hapsburg, from whom the present emperor of Austria is descended.

[Illustration: Louis XIV]

This Holy Roman Empire was not a strong government, as the kingdoms of
England and France grew to be. The kings of Bohemia, Saxony, and
Bavaria all were subjects of the emperor, as were many powerful
counts. These men were jealous of the emperor's power, and he did not
dare govern them as strictly as the king of France ruled his nobles.

France in the 18th Century

[Illustration: John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough]

During the 18th century, there were many wars in Europe caused by the
ambition of various kings to make their domains larger and to increase
their own incomes. King Louis XIV of France had built up a very
powerful kingdom. Brave soldiers and skillful generals spread his rule
over a great part of what is Belgium and Luxemburg, and annexed to the
French kingdom the part of Germany between the Rhine River and the
Vosges (Vōzh) Mountains. Finally, the English joined with the troops
of the Holy Roman Empire to curb the further growth of the French
kingdom, and at the battle of Blenheim (1704), the English Duke of
Marlborough, aided by the emperor's army, put an end to the further
expansion of the French.

[Illustration: The Great Elector of Brandenburg]


The 18th century also saw the rise of a new kingdom in Europe. You
will recall that there was a county in Germany named Brandenburg,
whose count was one of the seven electors who chose the emperor. The
capital of this county was Berlin. It so happened that a number of
Counts of Brandenburg, of the family of Hohenzollern, had been men of
ambition and ability. The little county had grown by adding small
territories around it. One of these counts, called "the Great
Elector," had added to Brandenburg the greater part of the neighboring
county of Pomerania. His son did not have the ability of his father,
but was a very proud and vain man. He happened to visit King William
III of England, and was very much offended because during the
interview, the king occupied a comfortable arm chair, while the
elector, being simply a count, was given a chair to sit in which was
straight-backed and had no arms. Brooding over this insult, as it
seemed to him, he went home and decided that he too should be called a
king. The question was, what should his title be. He could not call
himself "King of Brandenburg," for Brandenburg was part of the Empire,
and the emperor would not allow it. It had happened some one hundred
years before, that, through his marriage with the daughter of the Duke
of Prussia, a Count of Brandenburg had come into possession of the
district known as East Prussia, at the extreme southeastern corner of
the Baltic Sea. Between this and the territory of Brandenburg lay the
district known as West Prussia, which was part of the Kingdom of
Poland. However, Prussia lay outside the boundaries of the Empire, and
the emperor had nothing to say about what went on there. Therefore,
the elector sent notice to all the kings and princes of Europe that
after this he was to be known as the "King of Prussia." It was a
situation somewhat like the one we have already referred to, when the
kings of England were independent monarchs and yet subjects of the
kings of France because they were also dukes of Normandy.

[Illustration: Frederick The Great]

The son of this elector who first called himself king had more energy
and more character than his father. He ruled his country with a rod of
iron, and built up a strong, well-drilled army. He was especially fond
of tall soldiers, and had agents out all over Europe, kidnapping men
who were over six feet tall to serve in his famous regiment of Guards.
He further increased the size of the Prussian kingdom.

His son was the famous Frederick the Great, one of the most remarkable
fighters that the world has ever seen. This prince had been brought up
under strict discipline by his father. The old king had been insistent
that his son should be no weakling. It is told that one day, finding
Frederick playing upon a flute, he seized the instrument and snapped
it in twain over his son's shoulder. The young Frederick, under this
harsh training, became a fit leader of a military nation. When his
father died and left him a well-filled treasury and a wonderfully
drilled army, he was fired with the ambition to spread his kingdom
wider. Germany, as has been said, was made up of a great many little
counties, each ruled by its petty prince or duke, all owing homage, in
a general way, to the ruler of Austria, who still was supposed to be
the head of the Holy Roman Empire.

[Map: The Growth of Brandenburg-Prussia, 1400-1806]

This empire was not a real nation, but a collection of many different
nationalities which had little sympathy with each other. The ruler of
Austria was also king of Bohemia and of Hungary, but neither country
was happy at being governed by a German ruler. Then, too, the
Croatians, Serbs, Slovenes, and Slovaks were unhappy at being ruled,
first by the Hungarians and then by the emperor, as they were Slavic
peoples who wished their independence. It so happened that about the
time that Frederick became king of Prussia in place of his father, the
head of the House of Austria died, leaving his only child, a daughter,
Maria Theresa, to rule the big empire. Frederick decided that he could
easily defeat the disorganized armies of Austria, so he announced to
the world that the rich province of Silesia was henceforth to be his
and that he proposed to take it by force of arms. Naturally, this
brought on a fierce war with Austria, but in the end, Frederick's
well-trained troops, his store of money, and above all, his expert
military ability made the Prussians victorious, and at the close of
the fighting, almost all of Silesia remained a part of the kingdom of
Prussia. The Austrians, however, were not satisfied, and two more wars
were fought before they finally gave up trying to recover the stolen
state. Frederick remained stronger than ever as a result of his

Questions for Review

1. Why were the fighting men of the Middle Ages a source of loss to a
nation in general?
2. How was it that Spain became one nation?
3. What did Peter the Great do for Russia?
4. Why did the Emperor have less power than many kings?
5. What was the ambition of Louis XIV of France?
6. What effect had the training of his father upon the character of
Frederick the Great?
7. Had Frederick the Great any right to Silesia?


The Fall of the Two Kingdoms

The Poles, a divided nation. - The three partitions. - Wars and revolts
as a result. - The disappearance of Lithuania. - The growing power of
the king of France. - An extravagant and corrupt court. - Peasants
cruelly taxed and oppressed. - Bankruptcy at last. - The meeting of the
three estates. - The third estate defies the king. - The fall of the
Bastille. - The flight and capture of the king. - The king
beheaded. - Other kings alarmed. - Valmy saves the revolution. - The
reign of terror.

In the flat country to the northeast of Austria-Hungary and east of
Prussia lay the kingdom of Poland, the largest country in Europe with
the exception of Russia. The Poles, as has been said before, were a
Slavic people, distant cousins of the Russians and Bohemians. They had
a strong nobility or upper class, but these nobles were jealous of
each other, and as a result, the country was torn apart by many
warring factions. The condition of the working class was very
miserable. The nobles did not allow them any privileges. They were
serfs, that is to say, practically slaves, who had to give up to their
masters the greater part of the crops that they raised. In the council
of the Polish nobles, no law could be passed if a single nobleman

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Online LibraryLouis P. BenezetThe World War and What was Behind It The Story of the Map of Europe → online text (page 4 of 16)