Chapter 2. THE GREATNESS OF THE MIDDLE AGES

Table of Contents

"DARK AGES" THAT WERE EPOCHS OF ACHIEVEMENT
THE MIRACLE OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
BATTLES FOUGHT TO GAIN A MOSLEM PARADISE
DISSENSION IN THE CHRISTIAN CAMP
RELIGION AND CULTURE FOLLOW THE SWORD
THE STRUGGLE FOR MASTERY IN EASTERN EUROPE
THE COMING OF THE VIKINGS
THE DIM BEGINNINGS OF GENEVA'S PROBLEMS
A PICTURE OF EUROPE IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY
THE EVER-SHIFTING BOUNDARIES ON THE EUROPEAN MAP
KING AND VASSAL: THE FEUDAL SYSTEM
WHEN CULTIVATORS WERE SERFS
THE "LITTLE ENGLANDERS " OF 1044 AND AFTER
THE WANING OF THE FEUDAL SYSTEM
THE CLAIM OF SCOTTISH LIBERTY
PAPACY AND THE EMPIRE
A GIANT ARISES TO DEFEND THE CHURCH
THE REAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CRUSADES
EUROPE AFTER THE CRUSADES
A GERMANY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF
THE EMPIRE THAT WAS ONLY A DREAM
STORM OVER CENTRAL ASIA: JENGIZ KHAN
EASTERN HORDES AT THE GATES OF THE WEST
A CENTURY OF UNCEASING WAR
TWO SPIRITS THAT CLASHED TILL 1914; ENGLAND AND FRANCE
WHEN PEACE AT HOME MEANT WAR ABROAD
TROUBLED TIMES IN CENTRAL ANO EASTERN EUROPE
THE GREAT SCHISM AND THE GENERAL COUNCILS
EXPLOSIVE FORCES THAT UNDERMINED CHURCH AUTHORITY
A STOCK MORE DANGEROUS AS ALLY THAN ENEMY
THE WORLD NO LONGER A VAST MYSTERY
THE SPIRIT OF THE MIDDLE AGES
A CREED THAT CAPTURED THE IMAGINATION
THE IDEAL OF CHIVALRY
HOW THE MED1/EVAL TRADER OBEYED THE CHURCH
THE IDEAL OF CHIVALRY
THE CORPORATE SPIRIT OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SOME BOOKS ABOUT THE MIDDLE AGES

by R. T. CLARK, B.A.(Oxon.), M.A. {Glasgow) THE history of the Middle Ages, it has been said, begins with the prehistory of the steppes and continues till the teeming womb of Asia exhausts itself of peoples. It was the impact of Asiatic invasions, either primary, like the inroad of the Huns, or secondary like the westward and southward pressure of the German tribes, which shivered into fragments the noble structure of the Roman Empire. But that Empire had resisted long enough to make the final inroads that destroyed it something more than mere avalanches of savagery. Roman civilisation had penetrated far beyond the formal confines of the Pax Romana, and the barbarians who wrecked it came not merely as destroyers but as pupils. At the end of the fifth century the Roman Empire of the West had vanished for ever, but Roman civilisation remained, and Christianity was the only super-racial religion in Europe. Romanised Britain, where Latin culture was less deeply rooted than on the continent, fought desperately with Jutes, Angles, and Saxons from North Germany; the Frank had flooded Gaul, which was to become France, the land of the Franks; the Visigoths had conquered Spain and Africa; Goths and Lombards ruled Italy. In Rome itself the Pope, the head of the Western Church, drew to himself the prestige, if not the power, of the Csesars. In the East, with barbarian tribes seeping or raiding into the Balkan countries, and Persians conquering Asia Minor and Syria, an orientalised Romanism, busied more with theological disputation than with government, maintained itself precariously in what is now called the Eastern or Byzantine Empire. Behind the political barrier of Byzantine, behind the cultural barrier of the Western Church, the tribes ended by coalescing into nations, and into Christian nations, in which the monk and the priest carried on imperfectly, but as well as they could, the tradition of learning inherited from Greece and Rome. The ascendancy of the Pope over the bishops of the West became recognised in the fourth century and was 83 consolidated during the pontificate of Gregory the Great (590-604), who converted the inhabitants of Spain and Lombardy from their Arian heresy (the belief that the Son and the Holy Ghost were created by God the Father), and sent missionaries to convert the heathen German tribes settled in Britain. When Rome ceased to be the capital of the Roman Empire in 476 the Pope became the chief figure in the Eternal City, and the rupture between the Greek and Roman churches in 866, while restricting the region over which he might claim supremacy, made the realisation of that supremacy a probability. It was the conquest of the barbarian by the Church that gave the Pope, the head of the Church, his prestige. Christians looked not merely to the tribal leader but to the head of their religion, and Rome became the hearth of the new imperium, a power over the souls rather than over the bodies of men. It was that unifying influence of a universally-accepted missionary religion that created the first feeble dream of a European unity and saved classical culture for the day of a renaissance more splendid than even the days of its greatest glory.