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ON THE CRUSADES,
as a citizen, has obtained for his laborious frequency, and the leaders began to researches the encouragement of a govern- calculate with the foresight of politiment, the patron of all good studies; he has cians, that the conquest of Egypt was deserved the gratitude not of his countrymen only, but of the whole of learned Europe. these things were all so many symp
a necessary step to that of Palestine, At an era when all minds are turned towards new ideas, it is perhaps peculiarly toms of decay in the spirit of enthuuseful to awaken the recollection of a dis- siasm—that spirit, in whose strength tant past. All the world think themselves alone expeditions so stupendous in capable of judging of former times upon magnitude, and so unnatural in purslender and superficial information. To pose, could be carried through with know them is another thing. The most any hope of ultimate success. This certain way to derive no benefit from the flaine shone, indeed, once again in St study of history, is to engage in it with a Lewis, but that was only a flash in the spirit of hostility. If we despise our ancestors, let us a little dread the retribution of socket. It was speedily extinguished; posterity.”
and in the end the only advantage derived from these most laborious and perilous adventures, fell to the share of the maritime powers of Italy, above
all, of the Venetians, who had taken Translated from the German of little part in the expeditions themFREDERICK SCHLEGEL.
selves, excepting with mercantile views
and mercantile weapons. Such is the It has been remarked by those who course of human events ! One lofty have described the journeys of indivi- thought, one almighty feeling, seizes dual pilgrims to the Holy Land, that and possesses the spirit of an age, no the motives by which these persons less easily than of an individual, lifts were induced to perform their travels, it above all the trammels of custom, were far from being at all periods the and enables it to deem and to find no same; the first of them were actuated obstacle unsurmountable. But when by the simple suggestions of piety; possession has once cloyed the excited curiosity and the love of adventure ardour, when the spirit that sported mingled very considerably in the views with peril, and was prodigal of strength, of those who succeeded them; and o has become cooled, prudence steps in, thers who, at a period yet later, pur- and the charm is for ever lost in the sued the same route, contrived to pre- first calculation of advantage. serve all the worldly zeal of sagacious Among the great number of extramerchants, in the midst of pilgrimages ordinary persons and heroes which the still nominally undertaken for the history of this period displays, none purpose of renouncing the world over perhaps is so well fitted to represent the grave of the Redeemer. An ob- the whole power of the ruling spirit of servation, not very dissimilar to this, chivalry-to show how men forgot may be made in regard to the purposes even the character of royalty in that of and character of those great associa- knighthood, as Richard of England. tions of armed pilgrims—the Crusades. By his scarcely credible feats of valour, The first, under the pious Godfrey de his perilous return, his captivity, his Bouillogne, was entirely the work of misfortunes, which could do all but religious enthusiasm ; and, for that tame his lion heart,--by every incident reason perhaps, above all succeeding in his chivalrous life-he is fitted to be expeditions, it was irresistible in its the type and symbol of the age of the progress, and happy in its effects. In Crusades. Characters such as this, or the times immediately subsequent, even as that of Godfrey and other more particularly in the heroic con more strictly religious Crusaders, are tests of Richard Caur-de-Lion with more adapted to be comprehended and the chivalrous Saladin, the original depicted by the imagination of a Tasso, object appears to have been more lost than to be penetrated and explained sight of, and the mainspring of action by the perspicuity of a Tacitus. The to have proceeded from the romantic characters and heroes of the middle spirit of warlike glory and adventure. age are, indeed, throughout distinIn the sequel, when Crusades came to guished from those of classical antibe conducted in a more business-like quity, by this circumstance, that their manner, when the Greek empire had lives and actions were always more become Latinized by means of their under the command and direction of Vol. IV.
imagination than of reason. The char- perors might in like manner be namacter of Alexander the Great alone, ed, who were not only brave warriors, forms an exception from the general but thoughtful and skilful generals; character of the cultivated Greeks and nay, not merely commanders of arRomans, and bears some resemblance mies, but accomplished sovereigns, cam (as indeed the characters of the Orien- pable of weighing well, and directing tals do) to that of the middle age, in- well, every item of their political asmuch as imagination and enthusi- strength. The German characters are asm seem to have had more influence particularly distinguished by their upon him than reason and calculation. strength and seriousness of heroic It was thus that in all the struggles, power: of such power and loftiness of dangers, wanderings of this period, character is the middle ages, the comthe fullness of animal life was spread bat of the emperor Frederick I. with over and breathed from every thing; Henry the Lion (of Brunswick) fure that breath and magic of fancy which nishes a striking example and image. has power to adorn alike rejoicing and The powerful, upright, austere emhumiliation, triumph and despair. In peror, burning with wrath against his the old northern sagas, the heroic spi- friend for having deserted him in his rits of the Valhalla are represented as Italian contests, overthrowing with the enjoying themselves during the day in stormy rage of a hero, one, in heroism warlike contests, till, on the going as in power, inferior only to himself, down of the sun, all their wounds are but the moment the enemy is at his healed by the power of magic, and feet, melted by all the returning they sit down with Odin to the friend- warmth of friendship toward the old ly banquet;- in like manner, the brother in arms,--all this forms a deknightly combats of this romantic lightful and ennobling picture of the time appear very often to have been spirit of the times. It was by such engaged in with scarcely any political feelings as these that rulers and prinpurpose or consequences, and the on ces were then governed, above all, aly real or desired result of a whole life mong the Germans. The Italian charof peril and adventure, to have been acters of the middle age, on the other nothing more than the feeling of re- hand, from their habitudes of repubpose, the retirement of peaceful recol- lican party-war, and their heartless lection, the stillness of the evening politics, were fashioned into a much succeeding the splendour and fervours nearer resemblance of the great men of the day. What a contrast do these of antiquity. The true chivalrous spirits afford to those whose workings spirit exerted by far its most exclusive we witness in times of greater pru- power over the Normans, whose spirit dence and refinement, when statesmen and manners were at this period comand warriors are such only from situ- mon, in a great measure, to France ation, and seem to follow in the wake and England, while these kingdoms of events, rather than to rule and
prea were so closely connected with Norside over their current. It is doubte mandy, and through it with each ful whether all the other advantages other. which these possess, are sufficient to The want of unity of purpose and atone for their comparative poverty of action, which was the chief cause of spirit and of feeling.
failure in all the Crusades, is to be The spirit of chivalry, nevertheless, ascribed not merely to the ill-concertforms only one epoch, and presents ed plans of the different leaders and only one view of the middle age; and expeditions, but also to great and eshow marked and predominant soever sential differences in the external siover the whole of its manners and char- tuations, as well as in the national acters, the imagination, and the power propensities and feelings, of the differof great ruling passions may have ent peoples of the west. The Spanbeen, we must by no means deny to iards were so much occupied at home this period the still deeper influence with their perpetual struggle against of its great law-givers. The very the Moors, that they could take little names of Alfred of England, Stephen share in the remoter warfares of the the legislator of Hungary, and St Cross. Similar causes might be adLewis of France, are sufficient to prove duced to explain the want of co-operthe absurdity of any such neglect. ation among the more distant tribes Many of our German kings 'and em- of the north. The north of Italy and
Germany, the whole imperial domi- honour, the noviciate in arms, and nions, were completely filled by the the whole system of the morality of great contest between the church and gentlemanship, had already been reempire, agitated and lacerated every duced to a regular form, arranged in where by the rivalry of the Guelphs steps and degrees, and connected with and Ghibellines to such a degree, that, exterior marks of distinction,—and although they did take a part, and a that a foundation had therefore been most effective one, in the Crusades, laid for the essence of chivalry. These they were all very tardy in doing so; elements, however, were never brought or, at least, did not follow the tenden- into their full splendour of action, till cy of the time with that ready impe- knights, serving under the banner of tuosity which was displayed by the the Cross,' and elevated by the conNorman-English, the Norman-Neo- sciousness of their magnificence, were politans, the warriors of Normandy it- set gradually free from the shackles, self, or those of France, who so much not only' of 'feudalism, but of nationresembled all these in spirit and char- ality, and learned to regard and rea acter. These kindred nations were all verence themselves as the immediate strong in redundant population and champions and servants of God and warlike zeal, and they had little busi- universal Christendom. The three ness at home to prevent them from great spiritual orders of knighthood, employing this strength abroad. It which Europe received from the East may be, that had they acted in hearty and the Crusades, were the fountains unison, they were of themselves abune and patterns of all other orders; the dantly sufficient for carrying through order of St John, namely, whose memthe whole work,—at all events, their bers preserved alive the original spirit striking similarity of character and si- of chivalry down to very modern times, tuation must have mightily facilitated in their perpetual opposition to the their measures, and tended to their Ottoman arms; the Teutonic order, ultimate success.
which conquered and civilized Prussia, The great German Crusades under and planted with Christian colonies Conrad III. and Frederick I. were emic the borders of the Baltic; and, lastly, nently unfortunate, chiefly by means the order of the Templars, which, of the influence of climate, and the after a short and splendid existence, jealousy of the Greeks. Frederick II. was, in a manner so terrible, annihiwas indeed active and zealous in his lated by the covetous rage of the time; but he satisfied himself with French king. In regard to that inprocuring a very favourable peace, and flux of ideas, which may have prowas glad to return home to his fa- ceeded from the East to the West, vourite Sicily. The only powers the order of the Temple was cerwhich had any regular and enduring tainly the most remarkable of the plan, or were indeed seriously interest three. In France, where also Europe ed in the protracting of the struggle, witnessed the first bloody spectacle of were the Head of the Church and the a religious war in the persecution of Maritime States of Italy ; in very dif- the Albigenses on the same soil where, ferent ways, indeed, and with very under Louis XIV., the despairing different interests. Upon the whole, Camisardes were at last reduced and when we reflect on the disunited and extirpated,-in the same cruel and discordant elements of which the Eubigotted France, the Knights Templars ropean power was composed, and on were doomed to encounter a similar the necessary difficulty, or rather im- catastrophe. But the righteous blood possibility, of directing that terrible of Molay left a curse behind, and neiengine long to any one purpose, one ther the king who perpetrated, nor should be inclined to wonder that the the pontiff who sanctioned his murkingdom of Jerusalem subsisted so der, long survived their atrocious long as it did, rather than that its un- guilt. What the ruling ideas were of substantial fabric at last yielded to the this order, what was the unrevealed unremitted and zealous efforts of the part of its purpose and destination, we Saracen princes.
have not the means to discover; the Of all the effects of the Crusades, existence of such secrets is all that the animating stimulus given to the we can positively ascertain in regard spirit of chivalry is the most remark- to them. The order was annihilated able: it is true, that the laws of in France, and even in the other
countries of Europe the decree of the ry was the true copy and constant Pope was carried into execution ; but companion of the chivalrous life, and in most districts the cruelty of the is therefore its best commentary and measure was tempered by those who image.* The ambitious spirit of the were compelled to carry it into execu- Burghers, whose wealth and importtion, and the Knights Templars were ance were every day increasing, took willingly admitted into the body of greater delight, on the other hand, in those other orders which were called the more substantial monuments of to inherit their forfeited possessions. architecture. Rival cities were conThe spirit of the order was not extir- tinually endeavouring to surpass each pated: it ceased to act visibly, and to other in the splendour of their edifices, be talked of; but its influence was and many of these erections are still enduring and powerful, notwithstand- remaining, to excite our astonishment ing of its unobtrusiveness.
and our admiration. After the power which the improve This art was developed the next ment of the system of chivalry exerted after that of poetry, and its most flouover the fortunes of Europe, the most rishing period was in this age. In the considerable among the other effects elder Carlovingian period, and unof the Crusades, was perhaps their in- der the Saxon emperors, the close confluence upon commerce. The exten- nexion between the empire and Consion of trade, however it was brought stantinople, introduced into Germany, about, operated certainly in the most as well as into Italy, some imitation of striking manner, both in improving the later style of Greek architecture. the condition of cities and their inha- But at this period there came into bitants, and through these in lending Germany, still more distinctly and new life to the arts. The notion that splendidly into the Netherlands and our modern European nations were, in England, that fashion of architecture their first attempts towards refine which we know by the name of ment in the arts, the imitators and Gothic. That this also was of Oriendisciples of the Orientals, falls to the tal origin has often been asserted, but ground, to whatever department we there are many remains of Saracen seek to apply it. The chief influence architecture in Spain and Portugal, which the East had was over our whose appearance and character leave poetry, and even there its only effect that idea entirely without support. was lending new spirit and stimulus This style of architecture, chiefly disto that mass of original imaginations played in ecclesiastical buildings, apwhich we of old possessed. Never- propriated to its own purposes the theless, the period when the East had painting of the day, such as it was, begun to exert its power over our and consecrated it also to the ornaspirits, was, we must ever recollect, ment of churches. The effect of the the true period of our chivalrous poet- allegorical paintings usual in the ry-of that poetry which flourished Greek churches, seems to have been among the Germans and Normans of as powerful, at one period, upon our the 12th and 13th centuries, and painters, as that of the splendid which, somewhat later, in the hands churches of Constantinople was on of Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser, gave our architects. In the oldest remains birth to a set of masterpieces which of the art, the painting of Byzantines, are the common property and pride of Netherlanders, and Italians, is seen to all Europe. The Germans, even in the have been essentially the same.
At a Carlovingian times, had heroic poems time somewhat later, both in respect and love songs, * and, indeed, of that to painting and architecture, the nasort of marvellous which is the pecu- tions of the West were more original, culiar characteristic of the chivalrous and therefore more successful. poets, specimens may be found abun The true acquisition for which the dantly in the old sagas of the north. Europeans were indebted to the Arabs, But the Crusades gave a new spring lay in the department of science and to the fancy, and, in the midst of knowledge, and even this was restricttheir inspiration, the elder heroiced to a very little of chemistry, medipoems were mostly either re-modelled or for ever lost. The chivalrous poet
* This subject may be seen more fully
discussed in “ Schlegel's Lectures on the * Mynne-lieder.
History of Literature," vol. i. $ &
cine, and astrology, and to a few to be considered as a high-minded and wretched translations of some of the noble people. With the fresh impetus books of Aristotle, which, in that which they derived from the ministramiserable and mutilated condition, can tions of Mahomet, the Arabs, in a scarcely be said to have been a very short space of time, extended their valuable present. Compared with the power over the finest countries of the Europeans, indeed, the Mahometan world-from the rich islands of India tribes, which possessed at that time to Portugal, and from Caucasus to the the interior parts of Palestine, and yet unexplored depths of Africa. The which therefore had most intercourse doctrine of their Prophet, founded on with the Crusaders, were a very rude the purest and sublimest ideas of the people. The flourishing era of the Godhead, and perplexing the underCaliphate was long gone by. It is standing by no unintelligible mystertrue, that the Spanish Moors were far ies—inculcating, beyond all other virmore polished and learned than any tues, the exercise of valour and heroof their contemporaries in the West, ism, and tempering these stern injuncbut the national and religious wrath tions with many delightful and emwith which they were regarded, pre- blematic fancies,--how, it may well vented the gaining any considerable be asked, has it happened, that this advantage from the example of their faith, so keenly adopted by many nacultivation.
tions, should not have taken possession, The whole of this epoch, in which with equal ease, of the whole ? That Christians and Mahometans were dangerous and destructive conflict, bebrought so closely into contact, when tween the Church and the State, which the East and West were, after a sepa- tore Christendom in sunder, found no ration of many centuries, once more part in the empire of Mahomet, where approximated to each other, cannot both powers were for ever blended tobut fix the attention of the observer gether in irresistible union. The faith upon that remarkable man whose spirit of Mahomet itself may also be looked has been for these twelve hundred upon as more adapted for the nature of years the spirit and unseen ruler of man, since, throughout Asia and Afrithe half of Asia. Mahomet must ca, its precepts have all along been not awake in every mind all that admira- nominally, but really obeyed; while tion which the union of heroic power in Christendom, the life and manners with enthusiasm, both directed to one not only of individuals, but of whole end, by the energy of an overmaster- ages, have so often appeared to be ing spirit, is ever calculated to pro- exactly the reverse of what they should duce. The firmness of that unalter- have been according to the system of able faith which this man, with all Christ; where, in one word, the ideal the appearance of simplicity, and with. excellence, held up by the faith, has out having recourse, as it would seem, always been looked upon as something to any of the usual tricks of religious unattainable even by its most fervent impostors, found means to establish in disciples.-Such are the grounds upon the bosom of his followers, must ever which a tame and common-place phibe regarded as one of the most singu- losophy has frequently assigned to lar and inexplicable phenomena in the Mahometanism the superiority over whole history of the world. The peo- Christianity, and it was natural that ple which was his instrument, and it should make such use of such arguwhich, through his means, became in ments. But the history of the world the sequel one of the most powerful teaches a conclusion very different in the earth, lived, before the time of from that adopted by these superficial Mahomet, in the Patriarchal division philosophers ; it has long since deterof tribes, but was united by the com- mined the great question, whether the mon possession of a fine language, and faith of Christianity, or that of Maa body of warlike and amatory poetry. homet, be the better fitted to promote They were not altogether unacquaint- the cultivation and excellence of the ed with the old traditions of Sacred hurnan mind? The spirit of pride and antiquity; they derived, at least, from haughtiness which breathes in the the indistinct recollection of them, a pages of the Koran, and which precertain loftiness of conception; and, sents so striking a contrast to the gencompared even with the most celebrat- tleness and love found in those of the ed of nations, they were still entitled Bible, might seem at first sight to be