THE EVER-SHIFTING BOUNDARIES ON THE EUROPEAN MAP

POLITICAL Europe has taken shape; what is more important, Western Civilisation has taken shape and develops culturally and politically in well-defined limits. During the next centuries the map is like a kaleidoscope ; but behind these political changes are stirrings which are later to rise into national movements, which will make Europe present a very different picture by the time the Renaissance is reached. It is not too much to say that much of the change is very unimportant to the general reader, however fundamentally it may interest the historian. To the former what matters is the Western states, and, however briefly, one must dwell for a moment on their organisation. This differed in the various countries ; but so long as the reader remembers that only a very general picture is attempted, and that the organisation described was not a rigid one but in a constant state of evolution, he will not receive a distorted impression. In the West in the eleventh century there was only one universal power and that was the Church. It was also the unifying force, for it supplied a universal religion, a universal culture, and a universal speech. From Aberdeen to Budapest, from Bordeaux to Danzig, men believed the same things, studied the same books, and, if they wrote, used the same language. Obedient to the power of the Church, the ecclesiastic claimed a freedom not enjoyed by the layman, and so he came into conflict in theory and often in practice with the king. The German tribes brought with them a rough theory of kingship. From being the war leader, first among his equals, the chief became, with the acquisition of property, the king. In theory the king owned the kingdom. In practice a war leader shared out the conquered land among his subordinates, whose acceptance of the gift carried with it an obligation, not at first legal, to defend it. Insensibly that original .relation merged into that of ruler and vassal; insensibly the tradition of Rome and the patronage of the Church intensified the new conception. The kingdom was a dominium (full sovereignty) which the king held from God, and the vassal was a landholder who recognised that dominium. But God was the Church, and the consecration of God's anointed was His blessing by an earthly ecclesiastic. Hence the quarrel that raged all through mediasval times : which authority came first-the royal or the ecclesiastical ?