Imágenes de páginas




The intellectual Condition of Christendom contrasted with that of

Arabian Spain. Difusion of Arabian intellectual Influences through France and Sicily.

Example of Saracen Science in Alhazen, and of Philosophy in Algazzali.

Innocent III. prepares to combat these Influences. Results to Western Europe of the Sack of Constantinople by the Catholics. The spread of Mohammedan light Literature is followed by Heresy

The crushing of Heresy in the South of France by armed Force. The Inquisition, mendicant Orders, auricular Confession, and Casuistry. The rising Sentiment is embodied in Frederick II. in Sicily. His

Conflict with and Overthrow by the Pope.-Spread of Mutiny among the mendicant Orders.

upon kome.

A PRESSURE upon the Italian system had meantime been arising in the West. It was due to the presence The pressure of the Arabs in Spain. It is necessary, there- from the West fore, 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, Barbarism of inhabiting huts in which it was a mark of wealth Europe. 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--perennialin 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.

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 the former volume, Chapter XI.

These were the circumstances of the Arab conquest of Spain. In that country the Arian Creed had been supplanted by the orthodox, and the customary persecutions Arab invasion had set in. From the time of the Emperor of Spain. Hadrian, who had transported 50,000 Jewish families into Spain, that race had greatly 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 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 inforın 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 anderstanding 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

Its conquest. the Archbishop of Toledo, consummated their treasonable compact, and deserted to the Arabs; the rest were panic-stricken. In the rout, Roderic himself was drowned in the waters of the Guadalquivir.

Tarik now proceeded rapidly northward, and was soon joined by his superior, the Emir Musa, who was noty perhaps, without jealousy at his success. As the Arab historians say, the Almighty delivered the idolators 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 tho 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 2 second messenger, who, in face of the Moslems and Christians, audaciously arrested him, at the head of his

Arrest of MOhammedan

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.

The dissensions among the Arabe, far more than the sword of Charles Martel, prevented the Mohammedaniza

tion of France. Their historians admit the

great check received at the battle of Tours, in ism in West- which Abderrahman was killed ; they call that ern Europe.

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, and 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

when they commenced a brilliant career. Adoptand splendour ing what had now become the established policy of the Spanish of the Commanders of the Faithful in Asia, the

Emirs 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 sovereigns might well look down with supercilious contempt 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, 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. Their palaces They had polished marble balconies, overhang- and gardens. ing 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 flowergardens, in summer, by means of ventilating towers, and in winter through earthen pipes, or caleducts, imbedded 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 1804 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-of-pearl, ivory, silver, or relieved with gold and precious malachite. In orderly confusion were arranged vases of rock crystal, Chinese

« AnteriorContinuar »