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THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST-(Continued).
THE WESTERN OR INTELLECTUAL ATTACK ON THE ITALIAN SYSTEM.
Barbarism of Europe.
PRESSURE upon the Italian system had meantime been
arising in the West. It was due to the presence of the Arabs in Spain. It is necessary, therefore, to relate the circumstances of their invasion and conquest of that country, and to compare their social and intellectual condition with the contemporary state of Christendom.
From the barbarism of the native people of Europe, who could scarcely be said to have emerged from the savage state, unclean in person, benighted in mind, inhabiting huts in which it was a mark of wealth if there were bulrushes on the floor and straw mats against the wall; miserably fed on beans, vetches, roots, and even the bark of trees; clad in garments of untanned skin, or, at the best, of leather—perennial in durability, but not conducive to personal purity,-a state in which the pomp of royalty was sufficiently and satisfactorily manifested in the equipage of the sovereign, an ox-cart, drawn by not less than two yokes of cattle, quickened in their movements by the goads of pedestrian serfs, whose legs, were wrapped in wisps of straw; from a people, devout believers in all the wild fictions of shrine-miracles and preposterous relics; from the degradation of a base theology, and from the disputes of ambitious ecclesiastics for power,-it is pleasant to turn to the south-west corner of the Continent, where, under auspices of a very different kind, the irradiations of light were to break forth. The crescent in the West was soon to pass eastward to its full.
Mohammedan Conquest of Spain.
But I must retrace my steps through four centuries, and resume the description of the Arabian movement after the subjugation of Africa, as related in Vol. I. p. 323.
These were the circumstances of the Arab conquest of Arab invaSpain. In that country the Arian Creed had been supplanted Spain. by the orthodox, and the customary persecutions had set in. From the time of the Emperor Hadrian, who had transported 50,000 Jewish families into Spain, that race had singularly increased, and, as might be expected, had received no mercy at the hands of the orthodox. Ninety thousand individuals had recently suffered compulsory baptism, and so had been brought under the atrocious Catholic law that whoever has been baptized shall be compelled to continue the observances of the Church. The Gothic monarchy was elective, and Roderic had succeeded to the throne, to the prejudice of the heirs of his predecessor. Though a very brave soldier, he was a luxurious and a licentious man. It was the custom of the Goths to send their children to Toledo to be educated, and, under these circumstances, a young girl of extraordinary beauty, the daughter of Count Julian, governor of Ceuta in Africa, was residing there. King Roderic fell passionately in love with her, and, being unable to overcome her virtuous resolution by persuasion, resorted to violence. The girl found means to inform her father of what had occurred. “By the living God !” exclaimed the count, in a paroxysm of rage, “I will be revenged.” But, dissembling his wrath, he crossed over into Spain, had an understanding with Oppas, the Archbishop of Toledo, and other disaffected ecclesiastics, and, under specious pretences, lulled the suspicions of Roderic, and brought his daughter away. And now he opened communications with the Emir Musa, prevailing upon him to attempt the conquest of the country, and offering that he himself would take the lead. The conditions were settled between them, and the consent of the khalif to the expedition obtained. Tarik, a lieutenant of the emir, was sent across the Straits with the van of the army. , He landed on the rock called in memory of his name, Gibraltar, April, A.D. 711. In the battle that ensued, a part of Roderic's troops, together with the Archbishop of Toledo, con
Arrest of the Mohammedan Advance.
summated their treasonable compact, and deserted to the Arabs;
the rest were panic-stricken. In the rout, Roderic himself was quest.
drowned in the waters of the Guadalquivir.
Tarik now proceeded rapidly northward, and was soon joined by his superior, the Emir Musa, who was not perhaps without jealousy at his success. As the Arab historians say, the Almighty delivered the idolaters into their hand, and gave them one victory after another. As the towns successively fell, they left them in charge of the Jews, to whose revenge the conquest was largely due, and who could be thoroughly trusted ; nor did they pause in their march until they had passed the French frontier and reached the Rhone. It was the intention of Musa to cross the European continent to Constantinople, subjugating the Frank, German, and Italian barbarians by the way. At this time it seemed impossible that France could escape the fate of Spain ; and if she fell, the threat of Musa would inevitably have come to pass, that he would preach the Unity of God in the Vatican. But a quarrel had arisen between him and Tarik, who had been imprisoned and even scourged. The friends of the latter, however, did not fail him at the court of Damascus. An envoy from the Khalif Alwalid appeared, ordering Musa to desist from his enterprise, to return to Syria, and exonerate himself of the things laid to his charge. But Musa bribed the envoy to let him advance. Hereupon the angry khalif dispatched a second messenger, who, in face of the Moslems and Christians, audaciously arrested him, at the head of his troops, by the bridle of his horse. The conqueror of Spain was compelled to return. He was cast into prison, fined 200,000 pieces of gold, publicly whipped, and his life with difficulty spared. As is related of Belisarius, Musa was driven as a beggar to solicit charity, and the Saracen conqueror of Spain ended his days in grief and absolute want.
These dissensions among the Arabs, far more than the medanism
sword of Charles Martel, prevented the Mohammedanization of in Western France. Their historians admit the great check received at Europe.
the battle of Tours, in which Abderrahman was killed; they call that field the Place of the Martyrs; but their accounts
by no means correspond to the relations of the Christian authors, who affirm that 375,000 Mohammedans fell, but only 1500 Christians. The defeat was not so disastrous but that in a few months they were able to resume their advance, and their progress was arrested only by renewed dissensions among themselves—dissensions not alone among the leaders in Spain, but also more serious ones of aspirants for the khalifate in Asia. On the overthrow of the Ommiade house, Abderrahman, one of that family, escaped to Spain, which repaid the patronage of its conquest by acknowledging him as its sovereign. He made Cordova the seat of his government. Neither he nor his immediate successors took any other title than that of Emir, out of respect to the khalif, who resided at Bagdad, the metropolis of Islam, though they maintained a rivalry with him in the patronage of letters and science. Abderrahman himself strengthened his power by an alliance with Charlemagne.
Scarcely had the Arabs become firmly settled in Spain be- Civilization fore they commenced a brilliant career. Adopting what had dour of the now become the established policy of the Commanders of the Spanish Faithful in Asia, the Khalifs of Cordova distinguished themselves as patrons of learning, and set an example of refinement strongly contrasting with the condition of the native European princes. Cordova, under their administration, at its highest point of prosperity, boasted of more than two hundred thousand houses, and more than a million of inhabitants. After sunset, a man might walk through it in a straight line for ten miles by the light of the public lamps. Seven hundred years after this time there was not so much as one public lamp in London. Its streets were solidly paved. In Paris, centuries subsequently, whoever stepped over his threshold on a rainy day stepped up to his ankles in mud. Other cities, as Granada, Seville, Toledo, considered themselves rivals of Cordova. The palaces of the khalifs were magnificently decorated. Those Their sovereigns might well look down with supercilious contempt gardens. on the dwellings of the rulers of Germany, France, and England, which were scarcely better than stables,-chimneyless, windowless, and with a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape,
Luxury of the Spanish Mohammedans.
like the wigwams of certain Indians. The Spanish Mohammedans had brought with them all the luxuries and prodigalities of Asia. Their residences stood forth against the clear blue sky, or were embosomed in woods. They had polished marble balconies, overhanging orange-gardens; courts with cascades of water; shady retreats provocative of slumber in the heat of the day; retiring-rooms vaulted with stained glass, speckled with gold, over which streams of water were made to gush ; the floors and walls were of exquisite mosaic. Here, a fountain of quicksilver shot up in a glistening spray, the glittering particles falling with a tranquil sound like fairy bells; there, apartments into which cool air was drawn from the flower-gardens, in summer, by means of ventilating towers, and in the winter through earthen pipes or caleducts, embedded in the walls,--the hypocaust, in the vaults below, breathing forth volumes of warm and perfumed air through these hidden passages. The walls were not covered with wainscot, but adorned with arabesques, and paintings of agricultural scenes and views of Paradise. From the ceilings, corniced with fretted gold, great chandeliers hung, one of which, it is said, was so large that it contained 1084 lamps. Clusters of frail marble columns surprised the beholder with the vast weights they bore. In the boudoirs of the sultanas they were sometimes of verd-antique, and incrusted with lapis lazuli. The furniture was of sandal and citron wood, inlaid with mother-ofpearl, ivory, silver, or relieved with gold and precious malachite. In orderly confusion were arranged vases of rock crystal, Chinese porcelains, and tables of exquisite mosaic. The winter apartments were hung with rich tapestry; the floors were covered with embroidered Persian carpets. Pillows and couches, of elegant forms, were scattered about the rooms, which were perfumed with frankincense. It was the intention of the Saracen architect, by excluding the view of the external landscape, to concentrate attention on his work; and since the representation of the human form was religiously forbidden, and that source of decoration denied, his imagination ran riot with the complicated arabesques he introduced, and sought every opportunity of replacing the prohibited works