A PICTURE OF EUROPE IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY

IF we survey the continent of Europe we shall find it in the eleventh century sharply divided into east and west. The religious division is of greater significance than the much more complex political divisions. In the West, Ireland, still independent and governed by a multitude of petty kings with a nominal head king, had subdued its Viking invaders and was about to submit to the invasion of the Normans from England. Scotland was an independent country, pain-» fully seeking a union of three races, the Angles and Britons of the south with the Picts and Scots who had already combined in the north. England was a Norman aristocracy, with a ruling house that attached as much importance to its possessions in France as to its domains at home, with a subject population still unreconciled. In France the king had a small patrimony of his own and the suzerainty over powerful nobles, some of whom had arrogated to themselves much authority, and with whom he was in perpetual feud. In Spain the Christians of the north had begun to react against the Arab settlement, but they had not yet pushed very far. In the south and centre there was still a powerful Moslem kingdom, the last outpost of the East. Italy was a mass of little principalities, the prey to every adventurer or ambitious conqueror. The Pope barely ruled Rome; the Holy Roman Emperor was the nominal lord of Italy, but had never made his power completely effective. Normans, Byzantines, and Saracens held now this, now that, part of the peninsula. Germany was a land of kingdoms (though their holders were not always called kings), owing allegiance to the Emperor, but giving him obedience only when he was able to enforce it. They had spread Germanism as far as Danzig and Silesia, and down the Danube to Vienna. To the north were the Scandinavian kingdoms, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, now united, now apart, and bitterly quarrelsome. As outposts of the Latin West were the Slav kingdoms or duchies ; Poland, seeking expansion steadily to the north and east, Bohemia to which was added Moravia, Croatia, which was soon to yield to Hungary, and, in the very centre of the Danubian plain, Hungary itself. Of these four nations the kings were more important than their peoples. They united or quarrelled ; gave each other kings, made conquests, or were themselves conquered. They had as yet no national stability. All beyond was the Greek east. From the White Sea to the Black Sea stretched Russia, split into a score of kingdoms as the great kings of Kiev decided to partition their lands among their children, yet an entity beginning its historic mission of conquest. Between it and the West there still lay pagan tribes in the north-Finns in Finland, Esths in Esthonia, Livs and Letts in Courland, and Lithuanians in the forests around Vilna. Through these lands Russia sought to reach the sea. The traders' republic of Novgorod, with its intimate ties with the trading ports of Germany, fought with the Lithuanians; it was already clear . that the westward movement would be resisted. In the eleventh century the Swedes were already beginning to pass into Finland ; the Danes had landed on the shores of Esthonia, and Germans were creeping up the Baltic coasts. On that dividing line eastern and western Christianity were to meet in a long and bitter struggle. In the south the Russian kingdoms were in close touch at once with Asia and with Byzantium-at this period in a phase of revival under the " Macedonian dynasty" (867-1057). Russia had been checked, some Moslems of Asia subdued, and much of the Balkans recovered. The Bulgarian empire had been crushed, but to the north-west was the younger power of Serbia which was to prove a deadlier foe ; and in the Carpathians and the Transylvanian highlands older populations than any of the invaders were beginning to form kingdoms. Beyond teemed the hordes of Asia and the Moslem world, which, divided into a score of kingdoms, stretched from Hindustan over Central Asia, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt to North Africa and Spain. Such is the picture supplied by the political map.