Part 13 out of 15


To the scholars of the fifteenth century the classics opened up a new
world of thought and fancy. They were delighted by the fresh, original,
and human ideas which they discovered in the pages of Homer, Plato,
Cicero, Horace, and Tacitus. Their new enthusiasm for the classics came to
be known as humanism, [5] or culture. The Greek and Latin languages and
literatures were henceforth the "humanities," as distinguished from the
old scholastic philosophy and theology.


From Florence, as from a second Athens, humanism spread throughout Italy.
At Milan and Venice, at Rome and Naples, men fell to poring over the
classics. A special feature of the age was the recovery of ancient
manuscripts from monasteries and cathedrals, where they had often lain
neglected and blackened with the dust of ages. Nearly all the Latin works
now extant were brought to light by the middle of the fifteenth century.
But it was not enough to recover the manuscripts: they had to be safely
stored and made accessible to students. So libraries were established,
professorships of the ancient languages were endowed, and scholars were
given opportunities to pursue their researches. Even the popes shared in
this zeal for humanism. One of them founded the Vatican Library at Rome,
which has the most valuable collection of manuscripts in the world. At
Florence the wealthy family of the Medici vied with the popes in the
patronage of the new learning.



The revival of learning was greatly hastened when printed books took the
place of manuscripts laboriously copied by hand. Printing is a complicated
process, and many centuries were required to bring it to perfection. Both
paper and movable type had to be invented.


The Chinese at a remote period made paper from some fibrous material. The
Arabs seem to have been the first to make linen paper out of flax and
rags. The manufacture of paper in Europe was first established by the
Moors in Spain. The Arab occupation of Sicily introduced the art into
Italy. Paper found a ready sale in Europe, because papyrus and parchment,
which the ancients had used as writing materials, were both expensive and
heavy. Men now had a material moderate in price, durable, and one that
would easily receive the impression of movable type.


The first step in the development of printing was the use of engraved
blocks. Single letters, separate words, and sometimes entire pages of text
were cut in hard wood or copper. When inked and applied to writing
material, they left a clear impression. The second step was to cast the
letters in separate pieces of metal, all of the same height and thickness.
These could then be arranged in any desired way for printing.


Movable type had been used for centuries by the Chinese, Japanese, and
Koreans in the East, and in Europe several printers have been credited
with their invention. A German, Johann Gutenberg of Mainz, set up the
first printing press with movable type about 1450 A.D., and from it issued
the first printed book. This was a Latin translation of the Bible.

Enlarged from the printer's mark of I. B. Ascensius. Used on the title
pages of books printed by him, 1507-1535 A.D.]


The new art quickly spread throughout Christian Europe. It met an
especially warm welcome in Italy, where people felt so keen a desire for
reading and instruction. By the end of the fifteenth century Venice alone
had more than two hundred printing presses. Here Aldus Manutius maintained
a famous establishment for printing Greek and Latin classics. In 1476 A.D.
the English printer, William Caxton, set up his wooden presses within the
precincts of Westminster Abbey. To him we owe editions of Chaucer's poems,
Sir Thomas Malory's _Morte d'Arthur_, [6] _Aesop's Fables_, and many other


The books printed in the fifteenth century go by the name of _incunabula_.
[7] Of the seven or eight million volumes which appeared before 1500 A.D.,
about thirty thousand are believed to be still in existence. Many of these
earliest books were printed in heavy, "black letter" type, an imitation of
the characters used in monkish manuscripts. It is still retained for most
books printed in Germany. The clearer and neater "Roman" characters,
resembling the letters employed for ancient Roman inscriptions, came into
use in southern Europe and England. The Aldine press at Venice also
devised "italic" type, said to be modeled after Petrarch's handwriting, to
enable the publisher to crowd more words on a page.

With the same passage in modern type: Thenne beganne agayne the bataylle
of the one parte/And of the other Eneas ascryed to theym and sayd. Lordes
why doo ye fyghte/ Ye knowe well that the couuenante ys deuysed and
made/That Turnus and I shall fyghte for you alle/]


The invention of printing has been called the greatest event in history.
The statement is hardly too strong. It is easy to see that printing
immensely increased the supply of books. A hardworking copyist might
produce, at the most, only a few volumes a year; a printing press could
strike them off by the thousands. Not only more books, but also more
accurate books, could be produced by printing. The old-time copyist,
however skilful, was sure to make mistakes, sometimes of a serious
character. No two copies of any manuscript were exactly alike. When,
however, an entire edition was printed from the same type, mistakes in the
different copies might be entirely eliminated. Furthermore, the invention
of printing destroyed the monopoly of learning possessed by the
universities and people of wealth. Books were now the possession of the
many, not the luxury of the few. Anyone who could read had opened to him
the gateway of knowledge; he became a citizen, henceforth, of the republic
of letters. Printing, which made possible popular education, public
libraries, and ultimately cheap newspapers, ranks with gunpowder [8] as an
emancipating force.



Gothic architecture, with its pointed arches, flying buttresses, and
traceried windows, never struck deep roots in Italy. The architects of the
Renaissance went back to Greek temples and Roman domed buildings for their
models, just as the humanists went back to Greek and Latin literature.
Long rows of Ionic or Corinthian columns, spanned by round arches, became
again the prevailing architectural style. Perhaps the most important
accomplishment of Renaissance builders was the adoption of the dome,
instead of the vault, for the roofs of churches. The majestic cupola of
St. Peter's at Rome, [9] which is modeled after the Pantheon, [10] has
become the parent of many domed structures in the Old and New World. [11]
Architects, however, did not limit themselves to churches. The magnificent
palaces of Florence, as well as some of those in Venice, are among the
monuments of the Renaissance era. Henceforth architecture became more and
more a secular art.


The development of architecture naturally stimulated the other arts.
Italian sculptors began to copy the ancient bas-reliefs and statues
preserved in Rome and other cities. At this time glazed terra cotta came
to be used by sculptors. Another Renaissance art was the casting of bronze
doors, with panels which represented scenes from the Bible. The beautiful
doors of the baptistery of Florence were described as "worthy of being
placed at the entrance of Paradise."

MICHELANGELO, 1475-1564 A.D.

The greatest of Renaissance sculptors was Michelangelo. Though a
Florentine by birth, he lived in Rome and made that city a center of
Italian art. A colossal statue of David, who looks like a Greek athlete,
and another of Moses, seated and holding the table of the law, are among
his best-known works. Michelangelo also won fame in architecture and
painting. The dome of St. Peter's was finished after his designs. Having
been commissioned by one of the popes to decorate the ceiling of the
Sistine chapel [12] in the Vatican, he painted a series of scenes which
presented the Biblical story from the Creation to the Flood. These
frescoes are unequaled for sublimity and power. On the end wall of the
same chapel Michelangelo produced his fresco of the "Last Judgment," one
of the most famous paintings in the world.


The early Italian painters contented themselves, at first, with imitating
Byzantine mosaics and enamels. [13] Their work exhibited little knowledge
of human anatomy: faces might be lifelike, but bodies were too slender and
out of proportion. The figures of men and women were posed in stiff and
conventional attitudes. The perspective also was false: objects which the
painter wished to represent in the background were as near as those which
he wished to represent in the foreground. In the fourteenth century,
however, Italian painting abandoned the Byzantine style; achieved beauty
of form, design, and color to an extent hitherto unknown; and became at
length the supreme art of the Renaissance.


Italian painting began in the service of the Church and always remained
religious in character. Artists usually chose subjects from the Bible or
the lives of the saints. They did not trouble themselves to secure
correctness of costume, but represented ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans
in the garb of Italian gentlemen. Many of their pictures were frescoes,
that is, the colors were mixed with water and applied to the plaster walls
of churches and palaces. After the process of mixing oils with the colors
was discovered, pictures on wood or canvas (easel paintings) became
common. Renaissance painters excelled in portraiture. They were less
successful with landscapes.


Among the "old masters" of Italian painting four, besides Michelangelo,
stand out with special prominence. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519 A.D.) was
architect, sculptor, musician, and engineer, as well as painter. His
finest work, the "Last Supper," a fresco painting at Milan, is much
damaged, but fortunately good copies of it exist. Paris has the best of
his easel pictures--the "Monna Lisa." Leonardo spent four years on it and
then declared that he could not finish it to his satisfaction. Leonardo's
contemporary, Raphael (1483-1520 A.D.), died before he was forty, but not
before he had produced the "Sistine Madonna," now at Dresden, the
"Transfiguration," in the Vatican Gallery at Rome, and many other famous
compositions. In Raphael Italian painting reached its zenith. All his
works are masterpieces. Another artist, the Venetian Titian (1477?-1576
A.D.), painted portraits unsurpassed for glowing color. His "Assumption of
the Virgin" ranks among the greatest pictures in the world. Lastly must be
noted the exquisite paintings of Correggio (1494-1534 A.D.), among them
the "Holy Night" and the "Marriage of St. Catherine."




Another modern art, that of music, arose in Italy during the Renaissance.
In the sixteenth century the three-stringed rebeck received a fourth
string and became the violin, the most expressive of all musical
instruments. A forerunner of the pianoforte also appeared in the
harpsichord. A papal organist and choir-master, Palestrina (1526-1594
A.D.), was the first of the great composers. He gave music its fitting
place in worship by composing melodious hymns and masses still sung in
Roman Catholic churches. The oratorio, a religious drama set to music but
without action, scenery, or costume, had its beginning at this time. The
opera, however, was little developed until the eighteenth century.



About the middle of the fifteenth century fire from the Italian altar was
carried across the Alps, and a revival of learning began in northern
lands. Italy had led the way by recovering the long-buried treasures of
the classics and by providing means for their study. Scholars in Germany,
France, and England, who now had the aid of the printing press, continued
the intellectual movement and gave it widespread currency.


The foremost humanist of the age was Desiderius Erasmus. Though a native
of Rotterdam in Holland, he lived for a time in Germany, France, England,
and Italy, and died at Basel in Switzerland. His travels and extensive
correspondence brought him in contact with most of the leading scholars of
the day. Erasmus wrote in Latin many works which were read and enjoyed by
educated men. He might be called the first really popular author in
Europe. Like Petrarch, he did much to encourage the humanistic movement by
his precepts and his example. "When I have money," said this devotee of
the classics, "I will first buy Greek books and then clothes."


Erasmus performed his most important service as a Biblical critic. In 1516
A.D. he published the New Testament in the original Greek, with a Latin
translation and a dedication to the pope. Up to this time the only
accessible edition of the New Testament was the old Latin version known as
the Vulgate, which St. Jerome had made near the close of the fourth
century. By preparing a new and more accurate translation, Erasmus
revealed the fact that the Vulgate contained many errors. By printing the
Greek text, together with notes which helped to make the meaning clear,
Erasmus enabled scholars to discover for themselves just what the New
Testament writers had actually said. [14]


Erasmus as a student of the New Testament carried humanism over into the
religious field. His friends and associates, especially in Germany,
continued his work. "We are all learning Greek now," said Luther, "in
order to understand the Bible." Humanism, by becoming the handmaid of
religion, thus passed insensibly into the Reformation.

[Illustration: DESIDERIUS ERASMUS (Louvre, Paris)
A portrait by the German artist, Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543
A.D.). Probably an excellent likeness of Erasmus.]


Italian architects found a cordial reception in France, Spain, the
Netherlands, and other countries, where they introduced Renaissance styles
of building and ornamentation. The celebrated palace of the Louvre in
Paris, which is used to-day as an art gallery and museum, dates from the
sixteenth century. At this time the French nobles began to replace their
somber feudal dwellings by elegant country houses. Renaissance sculpture
also spread beyond Italy throughout Europe. Painters in northern countries
at first followed Italian models, but afterwards produced masterpieces of
their own. [15]



The renewed interest in classical studies for a time retarded the
development of national languages and literatures in Europe. To the
humanists only Latin and Greek seemed worthy of notice. Petrarch, for
instance, composed in Italian beautiful sonnets which are still much
admired, but he himself expected to gain literary immortality through his
Latin works. Another Italian humanist went so far as to call Dante "a poet
for bakers and cobblers," and the _Divine Comedy_ was indeed translated
into Latin a few years after the author's death.


But a return to the vernacular was bound to come. The common people
understood little Latin, and Greek not at all. Yet they had learned to
read and they now had the printing press. Before long many books composed
in Italian, Spanish, French, English, and other national languages made
their appearance. This revival of the vernacular meant that henceforth
European literature would be more creative and original than was possible
when writers merely imitated or translated the classics. The models
provided by Greece and Rome still continued, however, to furnish
inspiration to men of letters.

MACHIAVELLI, 1469-1527 A.D.

The Florentine historian and diplomat, Machiavelli, by his book, _The
Prince_, did much to found the modern science of politics. Machiavelli, as
a patriotic Italian, felt infinite distress at the divided condition of
Italy, where numerous petty states were constantly at war. In _The Prince_
he tried to show how a strong, despotic ruler might set up a national
state in the peninsula. He thought that such a ruler ought not to be bound
by the ordinary rules of morality. He must often act "against faith,
against charity, against humanity, and against religion." The end would
justify the means. Success was everything; morality, nothing. This
dangerous doctrine has received the name of "Machiavellism"; it is not yet
dead in European statecraft.

CERVANTES, 1547-1616 A.D.

Spain during the sixteenth century gave to the world in Cervantes the only
Spanish writer who has achieved a great reputation outside his own
country. Cervantes's masterpiece, _Don Quixote_, seems to have been
intended as a burlesque upon the romances of chivalry once so popular in
Europe. The hero, Don Quixote, attended by his shrewd and faithful squire,
Sancho Panza, rides forth to perform deeds of knight-errantry, but meets,
instead, the most absurd adventures. The work is a vivid picture of
Spanish life. Nobles, priests, monks, traders, farmers, innkeepers,
muleteers, barbers, beggars--all these pass before our eyes as in a
panorama. _Don Quixote_ immediately became popular, and it is even more
read to-day than it was three centuries ago.

[Illustration: CERVANTES]

FROISSART, 1397(?)-1410 A.D.

The Flemish writer, Froissart, deserves notice as a historian and as one
of the founders of French prose. His _Chronicles_ present an account of
the fourteenth century, when the age of feudalism was fast drawing to an
end. He admired chivalry and painted it in glowing colors. He liked to
describe tournaments, battles, sieges, and feats of arms. Kings and
nobles, knights and squires, are the actors on his stage. Froissart
traveled in many countries and got much of his information at first hand
from those who had made history. Out of what he learned he composed a
picturesque and romantic story, which still captivates the imagination.

MONTAIGNE, 1533-1593 A.D.

A very different sort of writer was the Frenchman, Montaigne. He lives to-
day as the author of one hundred and seven essays, very delightful in
style and full of wit and wisdom. Montaigne really invented the essay, a
form of literature in which he has had many imitators.

CHAUCER, 1340(?)-1400 A.D.

Geoffrey Chaucer, who has been called the "morning star" of the English
Renaissance, was a story-teller in verse. His _Canterbury Tales_ are
supposed to be told by a company of pilgrims, as they journey from London
to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. [16] Chaucer describes
freshly and with unfailing good spirits the life of the middle and upper
classes. He does not reveal, any more than his contemporary Froissart, the
labor and sorrows of the down-trodden peasantry. But Chaucer was a true
poet, and his name stands high in England's long roll of men of letters.

SHAKESPEARE, 1564-1616 A.D.

This survey of the national authors of the Renaissance may fitly close
with William Shakespeare, whose genius transcended national boundaries and
made him a citizen of all the world. His life is known to us only in
barest outline. Born at Stratford-on-Avon, of humble parentage, he
attended the village grammar school, where he learned "small Latin and
less Greek", went to London as a youth, and became an actor and a
playwright. He prospered, made money both from his acting and the sale of
his plays, and at the age of forty-four retired to Stratford for the rest
of his life. Here he died eight years later, and here his grave may still
be seen in the village church. [17] During his residence in London he
wrote, in whole or in part, thirty-six or thirty-seven dramas, both
tragedies and comedies. They were not collected and published until
several years after his death. Shakespeare's plays were read and praised
by his contemporaries, but it has remained for modern men to see in him
one who ranks with Homer, Vergil, Dante, and Goethe among the great poets
of the world.

From the copper plate engraved by Martin Droeshout as frontispiece to the
First Folio edition of Shakespeare's works in 1623 A.D. In this engraving
the head is far too large for the body and the dress is out of
perspective. The only other authentic likeness of Shakespeare is the bust
over his grave in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon]

The house in which Shakespeare was born has been much altered in exterior
appearance since the poet's day. The timber framework, the floors, most of
the interior walls, and the cellars remain, however, substantially
unchanged. The illustration shows the appearance of the house before the
restoration made in 1857 A.D.]


Renaissance poets and prose writers revealed themselves in their books. In
the same way the sculptors and painters of the Renaissance worked out
their own ideas and emotions in their masterpieces. This personal note
affords a sharp contrast to the anonymity of the Middle Ages. We do not
know the authors of the _Song of Roland_, the _Nibelungenlied_, and
_Reynard the Fox_, any more than we know the builders of the Gothic
cathedrals. Medieval literature subordinated the individual; that of the
Renaissance expressed the sense of individuality and man's interest in
himself. It was truly "humanistic."



The universities of the Middle Ages emphasized scholastic philosophy,
though in some institutions law and medicine also received much attention.
Greek, of course, was not taught, the vernacular languages of Europe were
not studied, and neither science nor history enjoyed the esteem of the
learned. The Renaissance brought about a partial change in this
curriculum. The classical languages and literatures, after some
opposition, gained an entrance into university courses and displaced
scholastic philosophy as the chief subject of instruction. From the
universities the study of the "humanities" descended to the lower schools,
where they still hold a leading place.


An Italian humanist, Vittorino da Feltre, was the pioneer of Renaissance
education. In his private school at Mantua, the "House of Delight," as it
was called, Vittorino aimed to develop at the same time the body, mind,
and character of his pupils, so as to fit them to "serve God in Church and
State." Accordingly, he gave much attention to religious instruction and
also set a high value on athletics. The sixty or seventy young men under
his care were taught to hunt and fish, to run and jump, to wrestle and
fence, to walk gracefully, and above all things to be temperate. For
intellectual training he depended on the Latin classics as the best means
of introducing students to the literature, art, and philosophy of ancient
times. Vittorino's name is not widely known to-day; he left no writings,
preferring, as he said, to live in the lives of his pupils; but there is
scarcely a modern teacher who does not consciously or unconsciously follow
his methods. More than anyone else, he is responsible for the educational
system which has prevailed in Europe almost to the present day.


It cannot be said that the influence of humanism on education was wholly
good. Henceforth the Greek and Latin languages and literatures became the
chief instruments of culture. Educators neglected the great world of
nature and of human life which lay outside the writings of the ancients.
This "bookishness" formed a real defect of Renaissance systems of

COMENIUS, 1592-1671 A.D.

A Moravian bishop named Comenius, who gave his long life almost wholly to
teaching, stands for a reaction against humanistic education. He proposed
that the vernacular tongues, as well as the classics, should be made
subjects of study. For this purpose he prepared a reading book, which was
translated into a dozen European languages, and even into Arabic, Persian,
and Turkish. Comenius also believed that the curriculum should include the
study of geography, world history, and government, and the practice of the
manual arts. He was one of the first to advocate the teaching of science.
Perhaps his most notable idea was that of a national system of education,
reaching from primary grades to the university. "Not only," he writes,
"are the children of the rich and noble to be drawn to school, but all
alike, rich and poor, boys and girls, in great towns and small, down to
the country villages." The influence of this Slavic teacher is more and
more felt in modern systems of education.



The Middle Ages were not by any means ignorant of science, [18] but its
study naturally received a great impetus when the Renaissance brought
before educated men all that the Greeks and Romans had done in
mathematics, physics, astronomy, medicine, and other subjects. The
invention of printing also fostered the scientific revival by making it
easy to spread knowledge abroad in every land. The pioneers of Renaissance
science were Italians, but students in France, England, Germany, and other
countries soon took up the work of enlightenment.

COPERNICUS 1473-1543 A.D.

The names of some Renaissance scientists stand as landmarks in the history
of thought. The first place must be given to Copernicus, the founder of
modern astronomy. He was a Pole, but lived many years in Italy. Patient
study and calculation led him to the conclusion that the earth turns upon
its own axis, and, together with the planets, revolves around the sun. The
book in which he announced this conclusion did not appear until the very
end of his life. A copy of it reached him on his deathbed.


Medieval astronomers had generally accepted the Ptolemaic system. [19]
Some students before Copernicus had indeed suggested that the earth and
planets might rotate about a central sun, but he first gave reasons for
such a belief. The new theory met much opposition, not only in the
universities, which clung to the time-honored Ptolemaic system, but also
among theologians, who thought that it contradicted many statements in the
Bible. Moreover, people could not easily reconcile themselves to the idea
that the earth, instead of being the center of the universe, is only one
member of the solar system, that it is, in fact, only a mere speck of
cosmic dust.

GALILEO, 1564-1642 A.D.

An Italian scientist, Galileo, made one of the first telescopes--it was
about as powerful as an opera glass--and turned it on the heavenly bodies
with wonderful results. He found the sun moving unmistakably on its axis,
Venus showing phases according to her position in relation to the sun,
Jupiter accompanied by revolving moons, or satellites, and the Milky Way
composed of a multitude of separate stars. Galileo rightly believed that
these discoveries confirmed the theory of Copernicus.

KEPLER, 1571-1630 A.D.

Another man of genius, the German Kepler, worked out the mathematical laws
which govern the movements of the planets. He made it clear that the
planets revolve around sun in elliptical instead of circular orbits.
Kepler's investigations afterwards led to the discovery of the principle
of gravitation.

VESALIUS, 1514-1564 A.D., AND HARVEY, 1578-1657 A.D.

Two other scientists did epochal work in a field far removed from
astronomy. Vesalius, a Fleming, who studied in Italian medical schools,
gave to the world the first careful description of the human body based on
actual dissection. He was thus the founder of human anatomy. Harvey, an
Englishman, after observing living animals, announced the discovery of the
circulation of the blood. He thereby founded human physiology.


Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Vesalius, Harvey, and their fellow workers
built up the scientific method. In the Middle Ages students had mostly
been satisfied to accept what Aristotle and other philosophers had said,
without trying to prove their statements. [20] Kepler, for instance, was
the first to disprove the Aristotelian idea that, as all perfect motion is
circular, therefore the heavenly bodies must move in circular orbits.
Similarly, the world had to wait many centuries before Harvey showed
Aristotle's error in supposing that the blood arose in the liver, went
thence to the heart, and by the veins was conducted over the body. The new
scientific method rested on observation and experiment. Students learned
at length to take nothing for granted, to set aside all authority, and to
go straight to nature for their facts. As Lord Bacon, [21] one of
Shakespeare's contemporaries and a severe critic of the old scholasticism,
declared, "All depends on keeping the eye steadily fixed upon the facts of
nature, and so receiving their images simply as they are, for God forbid
that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of
the world." Modern science, to which we owe so much, is a product of the



Thus far the Renaissance has been studied as an intellectual and artistic
movement, which did much to liberate the human mind and brought the Middle
Ages to an end in literature, in art, and in science. It is necessary,
however, to consider the Renaissance era from another point of view.
During this time an economic change of vast significance was taking place
in rural life all over western Europe. We refer to the decline and
ultimate extinction of medieval serfdom.


Serfdom imposed a burden only less heavy than the slavery which it had
displaced. The serf, as has been shown, [22] might not leave the manor in
which he was born, he might not sell his holdings of land, and, finally,
he had to give up a large part of his time to work without pay for the
lord of the manor. This system of forced labor was at once unprofitable to
the lord and irksome to his serfs. After the revival of trade and industry
in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries had brought more money into
circulation, [23] the lord discovered how much better it was to hire men
to work for him, as he needed them, instead of depending on serfs who
shirked their tasks as far as possible. The latter, in turn, were glad to
pay the lord a fixed sum for the use of land, since now they could devote
themselves entirely to its cultivation. Both parties gained by an
arrangement which converted the manorial lord into a landlord and the serf
into a free tenant-farmer paying rent.


The emancipation of the peasantry was hastened, strangely enough, as the
result of perhaps the most terrible calamity that has ever afflicted
mankind. About the middle of the fourteenth century a pestilence of
Asiatic origin, now known to have been the bubonic plague, reached the
West. [24] The "Black Death" so called because among its symptoms were
dark patches all over the body, moved steadily across Europe. The way for
its ravages had been prepared by the unhealthful conditions of ventilation
and drainage in towns and cities. After attacking Greece, Sicily, Italy,
Spain, France, and Germany, the plague entered England in 1349 A.D. and
within less than two years swept away probably half the population of that
country. The mortality elsewhere was enormous, one estimate setting it as
high as twenty-five millions for all Europe.


The pestilence in England, as in other countries, caused a great scarcity
of labor. For want of hands to bring in the harvest, crops rotted on the
ground, while sheep and cattle, with no one to care for them, strayed
through the deserted fields. The free peasants who survived demanded and
received higher wages. Even the serfs, whose labor was now more valued,
found themselves in a better position. The lord of a manor, in order to
keep his laborers, would often allow them to substitute money payments for
personal services. When the serfs got no concessions, they frequently took
to flight and hired themselves to the highest bidder.


The governing classes of England, who at this time were mainly landowners,
believed that the workers were taking an unfair advantage of the
situation. So in 1351 A.D. Parliament passed a law fixing the maximum wage
in different occupations and punishing with imprisonment those who refused
to accept work when it was offered to them. The fact that Parliament had
to reenact this law thirteen times within the next century shows that it
did not succeed in preventing a general rise of wages. It only exasperated
the working classes.


A few years after the first Statute of Laborers the restlessness and
discontent among the masses led to a serious outbreak. It was one of the
few attempts at violent revolution which the English working people have
made. One of the inspirers of the rebellion was a wandering priest named
John Ball. He went about preaching that all goods should be held in common
and the distinction between lords and serfs wiped away. "When Adam delved
and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?" asked John Ball. Uprisings
occurred in nearly every part of England, but the one in Kent had most
importance. The rioters marched on London and presented their demands to
the youthful king, Richard II. He promised to abolish serfdom and to give
them a free pardon. As soon, however, as Richard had gathered an army, he
put down the revolt by force and hanged John Ball and about a hundred of
his followers.


The rebellion in England may be compared with the far more terrible
Jacquerie [25] in France, a few years earlier. The French peasants, who
suffered from feudal oppression and the effects of the Hundred Years' War,
raged through the land, burning the castles and murdering their feudal
lords. The movement had scarcely any reasonable purpose; it was an
outburst of blind passion. The nobles avenged themselves by slaughtering
the peasants in great numbers.

[Illustration: RICHARD II
After an engraving based on the original in Westminster Abbey. Probably
the oldest authentic portrait in England.]


Though these first great struggles of labor against capital were failures,
the emancipation of the peasantry went steadily on throughout the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. By 1500 A.D. serfdom had virtually
disappeared in Italy, in most parts of France, and in England. Some less-
favored countries retained serfdom much longer. Prussian, Austrian, and
Russian serfs did not receive their freedom until the nineteenth century.


The extinction of serfdom was, of course, a forward step in human freedom,
but the lot of the English and Continental peasantry long remained
wretched. The poem of _Piers Plowman_, written in the time of Chaucer,
shows the misery of the age and reveals a very different picture than that
of the gay, holiday-making, merry England seen in the _Canterbury Tales_.
One hundred and fifty years later, the English humanist, Sir Thomas More,
a friend of Erasmus, published his _Utopia_ as a protest against social
abuses. _Utopia_, or "Nowhere," is an imaginary country whose inhabitants
choose their own rulers, hold all property in common, and work only nine
hours a day. In Utopia a public system of education prevails, cruel
punishments are unknown, and every one enjoys complete freedom to worship
God. This remarkable book, though it pictures an ideal commonwealth,
really anticipates many social reforms of the present time.


1. Prepare a chronological chart showing the leading men of letters,
artists, scientists, and educators mentioned in this chapter.

2. For what were the following persons noted: Chrysoloras; Vittorino da
Feltre; Gutenberg; Boccaccio; Machiavelli; Harvey; and Galileo?

3. How did the words "machiavellism" and "utopian" get their present

4. Distinguish and define the three terms, "Renaissance," "Revival of
Learning," and "Humanism."

5. "Next to the discovery of the New World, the recovery of the ancient
world is the second landmark that divides us from the Middle Ages and
marks the transition to modern life." Comment on this statement.

6. Why did the Renaissance begin as "an Italian event"?

7. "City-states have always proved favorable to culture." Illustrate this

8. Why was the revival of Greek more important in the history of
civilization than the revival of Latin?

9. Show that printing was an "emancipating force."

10. With what paintings by the "old masters" are you familiar?

11. How does the opera differ from the oratorio?

12. Why has Froissart been styled the "French Herodotus"?

13. How many of Shakespeare's plays can you name? How many have you read?

14. Can you mention any of Shakespeare's plays which are founded on
Italian stories or whose scenes are laid in Italy?

15. Why did the classical scholar come to be regarded as the only educated

16. In what respects is the American system of education a realization of
the ideals of Comenius?

17. Did the medieval interest in astrology retard or further astronomical

18. How did the discoveries of Galileo and Kepler confirm the Copernican

19. What is meant by the "emancipation of the peasantry"?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Medieval and Modern History_, chapter xix, "A
Scholar of the Renaissance"; chapter xx, "Renaissance Artists."

[2] See page 545.

[3] See page 413.

[4] See page 604.

[5] Latin _humanitas,_ from _homo_, "man."

[6] See page 560.

[7] A Latin word meaning "cradle" or "birthplace," and so the beginning of

[8] See page 574.

[9] See the plate facing page 591.

[10] See the illustration, page 202.

[11] For instance, the Invalides in Paris, St. Paul's in London, and the
Capitol at Washington.

[12] In this chapel the election of a new pope takes place.

[13] See page 336.

[14] The so-called _Complutensian Polyglott_, issued at Alcala in Spain by
Cardinal Jimenes, did even more for the advance of Biblical scholarship.
This was the first printed text of the Greek New Testament, but it was not
actually published till 1522 A.D., six years after the appearance of the
edition by Erasmus.

[15] A list of the great European painters would include at least the
following names: Durer (1471-1582 A.D.) and Hans Holbein the Younger
(1497-1543 A.D.) in Germany; Rubens (1577-1640 A.D.) and Van Dyck (1599-
1641 A.D.) in Flanders; Rembrandt (1606-1669 A.D.) in Holland; Claude
Lorraine (1600-1682 A.D.) in France; and Velasquez (1599-1660 A.D.) and
Murillo (1617-1682 A.D.) in Spain.

[16] See the illustration, page 442.

[17] The three-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare's death was
appropriately observed in 1916 A.D. throughout the world.

[18] See page 572.

[19] See page 133.

[20] See page 571.

[21] Not to be confused with his countryman, Roger Bacon, who lived in the
thirteenth century. See page 573.

[22] See page 436.

[23] See page 541.

[24] A similar plague devastated the Roman world during the reign of

[25] From _Jacques_, a common French name for a peasant.





There was also a geographical Renaissance. The revival of the exploring
spirit led to the discovery of ocean routes to the Far East and the
Americas. In consequence, commerce was vastly stimulated, and two
continents, hitherto unknown, were opened up to civilization. The
geographical Renaissance, which gave man a New World, thus cooperated with
the other movements of the age in bringing about the transition from
medieval to modern times.


The Greeks and Romans had become familiar with a large part of Europe and
Asia, but much of their learning was either forgotten or perverted during
the early Middle Ages. Even the wonderful discoveries of the Northmen in
the North Atlantic gradually faded from memory. The Arabs, whose conquests
and commerce extended over so much of the Orient, far surpassed the
Christian peoples of Europe in knowledge of the world.


The alliance of medieval geography with theology led to curious results.
Map makers, relying on a passage in the Old Testament, [2] usually placed
Jerusalem in the center of the world. A Scriptural reference to the "four
corners of the earth" [3] was sometimes thought to imply the existence of
a rectangular world. From classical sources came stories of monstrous men,
one-eyed, headless, or dog-headed, who were supposed to inhabit remote
regions. Equally monstrous animals, such as the unicorn and dragon, [4]
kept them company. Sailors' "yarns" must have been responsible for the
belief that the ocean boiled at the equator and that in the Atlantic--the
"Sea of Darkness"--lurked serpents huge enough to sink ships. To the real
danger of travel by land and water people thus added imaginary terrors.


Many maps prepared in the Middle Ages sum up the prevailing knowledge, or
rather ignorance, of the world. One of the earliest specimens that has
come down to us was made in the sixth century, by Cosmas, an Alexandrian
monk. It exhibits the earth as a rectangle surrounded by an ocean with
four deep gulfs. Beyond this ocean lies another world, the seat of
Paradise and the place "where men dwelt before the Flood." The rivers
which flow from the lakes of Paradise are also shown. Figures holding
trumpets represent the four winds.

From an early edition of Sir John Mandeville's _Travels_. Shakespeare
(_Othello_, I, iii, 144-145) refers to:
"The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders."]


A map made about seven hundred years later, and now preserved in Hereford
Cathedral, shows the earth as a circular disk with the ocean surrounding
it. In the extreme east--that is, at the top--lies Paradise, Jerusalem
occupies the center, and below it comes the Mediterranean, liberally
supplied with islands. The Black Sea appears as a narrow body of water,
and even the British Isles are strangely distorted to fit the circle. Such
a map could have been of little use to travelers; it simply satisfied a
natural curiosity about the wonders of the world.


The crusades, more than anything else, first extended geographical
knowledge. As a religious movement they led to pilgrimages and missions in
Oriental lands. With the pilgrims and missionaries went hard-headed
traders, who brought back to Europe the wealth of the East. The result, by
1300 A.D., was to open up countries beyond the Euphrates which had
remained sealed to Europe for centuries. This discovery of the interior of
Asia had only less importance than that of the New World two centuries


What specially drew explorers eastward was the belief that somewhere in
the center of Asia existed a great Christian kingdom which, if allied to
European Christendom, might attack the Moslems from the rear. According to
one form of the story the kingdom consisted of the Ten Tribes of Israel,
[5] who had been converted to Christianity by Nestorian missionaries. [6]
Over them reigned a priest-king named Prester (or Presbyter) John. The
popes made several attempts to communicate with this mythical ruler. In
the thirteenth century, however, Franciscan friars did penetrate to the
heart of Asia. They returned to Europe with marvelous tales of the wealth
and splendor of the East under the Mongol emperors.


The most famous of all medieval travelers were Nicolo and Maffeo Polo, and
Nicolo's son, Marco. These Venetian merchants set out for Asia in 1271
A.D., and after an adventurous journey reached the court of Kublai Khan at
Peking. [7] The Mongol ruler, who seems to have been anxious to introduce
Christianity and European culture among his people, received them in a
friendly manner, and they amassed much wealth by trade. Marco entered the
khan's service and went on several expeditions to distant parts of the
Mongol realm. Many years passed before Kublai would allow his useful
guests to return to Europe. They sailed at length from Zaitun, a Chinese
seaport, skirted the coast of southeastern Asia and India, and then made
their way overland to the Mediterranean. When the travelers reached Venice
after an absence of twenty-four years, their relatives were slow to
recognize in them the long-lost Polos.



The story of the Polos, as written down at Marco's dictation, became one
of the most popular works of the Middle Ages. In this book Europe read of
far Cathay (China), with its wealth, its huge cities, and swarming
population, of mysterious and secluded Tibet, of Burma, Siam, and Cochin-
China, with their palaces and pagodas, of the East Indies, famed for
spices, of Ceylon, abounding in pearls, and of India, little known since
the days of Alexander the Great. Even Cipango (Japan) Marco described from
hearsay as an island whose people were white, civilized, and so rich in
gold that the royal palace was roofed and paved with that metal. The
accounts of these countries naturally made Europeans more eager than ever
to reach the East.



The new knowledge gained by European peoples about the land routes of Asia
was accompanied by much progress in the art of ocean navigation. First in
importance came the compass to guide explorers across the waters of the
world. The Chinese appear to have discovered that a needle, when rubbed
with a lodestone, has the mysterious power of pointing to the north. The
Arabs may have introduced this rude form of the compass among
Mediterranean sailors. The instrument, improved by being balanced on a
pivot so that it would not be affected by choppy seas, seems to have been
generally used by Europeans as early as the thirteenth century. It greatly
aided sailors by enabling them to find their bearings in murky weather and
on starless nights. The compass, though useful, was not indispensable;
without its help the Northmen had made their distant expeditions in the


The astrolabe, which the Greeks had invented and used for astronomical
purposes, also came into Europe through the Arabs. It was employed to
calculate latitudes by observation of the height of the sun above the
horizon. Other instruments that found a place on shipboard were the hour-
glass, minute-glass, and sun-dial. A rude form of the log was used as a
means of estimating the speed of a vessel, and so of finding roughly the

[Illustration: AN ASTROLABE]


During the last centuries of the Middle Ages the charting of coasts became
a science. A sailor might rely on the "handy maps" (_portolani_) which
outlined with some approach to accuracy the bays, islands, and headlands
of the Mediterranean and adjacent waters. Manuals were prepared telling
the manner about the tides, currents, and other features of the route he
intended to follow. The increase in size of ships made navigation safer
and permitted the storage of bulky cargoes. For long voyages the sailing
vessel replaced the medieval galley rowed by oars. As the result of all
these improvements navigators no longer found it necessary to keep close
to the shore, but could push out dauntlessly into the open sea.


Many motives prompted exploration. Scientific curiosity, bred of the
Renaissance spirit of free inquiry, led men to set forth on voyages of
discovery. The crusading spirit, which had not died out in Europe,
thrilled at the thought of spreading Christianity among heathen peoples.
And in this age, as in all epochs of exploration, adventurers sought in
distant lands opportunities to acquire wealth and fame and power.


Commerce formed perhaps the most powerful motive for exploration. Eastern
spices--cinnamon, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger--were used more
freely in medieval times than now, when people lived on salt meat during
the winter and salt fish during Lent. Even wine, ale, and medicines had a
seasoning of spices. When John Ball [8] wished to contrast the easy life
of the lords with the peasants' hard lot, he said, "They have wines,
spices, and fine bread, while we have only rye and the refuse of the
straw." [9] Besides spices, all kinds of precious stones, drugs, perfumes,
gums, dyes, and fragrant woods came from the East. Since the time of the
crusades these luxuries, after having been brought overland by water to
Mediterranean ports, had been distributed by Venetian and Genoese
merchants throughout Europe. [10] But now in the fifteenth century two
other European peoples--the Portuguese and Spaniards--appeared as
competitors for this Oriental trade. Their efforts to break through the
monopoly enjoyed by the Italian cities led to the discovery of the sea
routes to the Indies. The Portuguese were first in the field.



In the history of the fifteenth century few names rank higher than that of
Prince Henry, commonly called the Navigator, because of his services to
the cause of exploration. The son of a Portuguese king, he devoted himself
during more than forty years to organizing scientific discovery. Under his
direction better maps were made, the astrolabe was improved, the compass
was placed on vessels, and seamen were instructed in all the nautical
learning of the time. The problem which Prince Henry studied and which
Portuguese sailors finally solved was the possibility of a maritime route
around Africa to the Indies.


The expeditions sent out by Prince Henry began by rediscovering the
Madeira and Azores Islands, first visited by Europeans in the fourteenth
century. Then the Portuguese turned southward along the unchartered
African coast. In 1445 A.D. they got as far as Cape Verde, or "Green
Cape," so called because of its luxuriant vegetation. The discovery was
important, for it disposed of the idea that the Sahara desert extended
indefinitely to the south. Sierra Leone, which the Carthaginian Hanno [11]
had probably visited, was reached in 1462 A.D., two years after Prince
Henry's death. Soon Portuguese sailors found the great bend of the African
coast formed by the gulf of Guinea. In 1471 A.D. they crossed the equator,
without the scorching that some had feared. In 1482 A.D. they were at the
mouth of the Congo. Six years later Bartholomew Diaz rounded the southern
extremity of Africa. The story goes that he named it the Cape of Storms,
and that the king of Portugal, recognizing its importance as a stage on
the route to the East, rechristened it the Cape of Good Hope.

DA GAMA'S VOYAGE, 1497-1499 A.D.

A daring mariner, Vasco da Gama, opened the sea-gates to the Indies. With
four tiny ships he set sail from Lisbon in July, 1497 A.D., and after
leaving the Cape Verde Islands made a wide sweep into the South Atlantic.
Five months passed before Africa was seen again. Having doubled the Cape
of Good Hope in safety, Da Gama skirted the eastern shores of Africa and
at length secured the services of a Moslem pilot to guide him across the
Indian Ocean. In May, 1498 A.D., he reached Calicut, [12] an important
commercial city on the southwest coast of India. When Da Gama returned to
Lisbon, after an absence of over two years, he brought back a cargo which
repaid sixty times the cost of the expedition. The Portuguese king
received him with high honor and created him Admiral of the Indies.

[Illustration: VASCO DA GAMA
From a manuscript in the British Museum.]


The story of Da Gama's memorable voyage was sung by the Portuguese poet,
Camoens, in the _Lusiads_. It is the most successful of all modern epics.
The popularity of the _Lusiads_ has done much to keep alive the sense of
nationality among the Portuguese, and even to-day it forms a bond of union
between Portugal and her daughter-nation across the Atlantic--Brazil.


The discovery of an ocean passage to the East came at the right moment.
Just at this time the Ottoman Turks were beginning to block up the old
trade routes. [13] Their conquests in Asia Minor and southeastern Europe,
during the fifteenth century, shut out the Italians from the northern
route through the Aegean and the Black Sea. After Syria and Egypt were
conquered, early in the sixteenth century, the central and southern routes
also passed under Turkish control. The Ottoman advance struck a mortal
blow at the prosperity of the Italian cities, which had so long
monopolized Oriental trade. But the misfortune of Venice and Genoa was the
opportunity of Portugal.



After Da Gama's voyage the Portuguese made haste to appropriate the wealth
of the Indies. Fleet after fleet was sent out to establish trading
stations upon the coasts of Africa and Asia. The great viceroy,
Albuquerque, captured the city of Goa and made it the center of the
Portuguese dominions in India. Goa still belongs to Portugal. Albuquerque
also seized Malacca, at the end of the Malay Peninsula, and Ormuz, at the
entrance to the Persian Gulf. The possession of these strategic points
enabled the Portuguese to control the commerce of the Indian Ocean. They
also established trading relations with China, through the port of Macao,
and with Japan, which was accidentally discovered in 1542 A.D. By the
middle of the sixteenth century they had acquired almost complete
ascendancy throughout southern Asia and the adjacent islands. [14]


The Portuguese came to the East as the successors of the Arabs, who for
centuries had carried on an extensive trade in the Indian Ocean. Having
dispossessed the Arabs, the Portuguese took care to shut out all European
trade competitors. Only their own merchants were allowed to bring goods
from the Indies to Europe by the Cape route. For a time this policy made
Portugal very prosperous. Lisbon, the capital, formed the chief depot for
spices and other eastern commodities. The French, English, and Dutch came
there to buy them and took the place of Italian merchants in distributing
them throughout Europe.


But the triumph of Portugal was short-lived. This small country, with a
population of not more than a million, lacked the strength to defend her
claims to a monopoly of the Oriental trade. During the seventeenth century
the French and English broke the power of the Portuguese in India, while
the Dutch drove them from Ceylon and the East Indies. Though the
Portuguese lost most of their possessions so soon, they deserve a tribute
of admiration for the energy, enthusiasm, and real heroism with which they
built up the first of modern colonial empires.


The new world in the East, thus entered by the Portuguese and later by
other European peoples, was really an old world--rich, populous, and
civilized. It held out alluring possibilities, not only for trade, but
also as a field for missionary enterprise. Da Gama and Albuquerque began a
movement, which still continues, to "westernize" Asia by opening it up to
European influence. It remains to be seen, however, whether India, China,
and Japan will allow their ancient culture to be extinguished by that of



Six years before Vasco da Gama cast anchor in the harbor of Calicut,
another intrepid sailor, seeking the Indies by a western route,
accidentally discovered America. It does not detract from the glory of
Columbus to show that the way for his discovery had been long in
preparation. In the first place, the theory that the earth was round had
been familiar to the Greeks and Romans, and to some learned men even in
the darkest period of the Middle Ages. By the opening of the thirteenth
century it must have been commonly known, for Roger Bacon [15] refers to
it, and Dante, in the _Divine Comedy_, [16] plans his Inferno on the
supposition of a spherical world. The awakening of interest in Greek
science, as a result of the Renaissance, naturally called renewed
attention to the statements by ancient geographers. Eratosthenes, [17] for
instance, had clearly recognized the possibility of reaching India by
sailing westward on the same parallel of latitude. Especially after the
revival of Ptolemy's [18] works in the fifteenth century, scholars
accepted the globular theory; and they even went so far as to calculate
the circumference of the earth.


In the second place, men had long believed that west of Europe, beyond the
strait of Gibraltar, lay mysterious lands. This notion first appears in
the writings of the Greek philosopher, Plato, [19] who repeats an old
tradition concerning Atlantis. According to Plato, Atlantis had been an
island continental in size, but more than nine thousand years before his
time it had sunk beneath the sea. Medieval writers accepted this account
as true and found support for it in traditions of other western islands,
such as the Isles of the Blest, where Greek heroes went after death, and
the Welsh Avalon, whither King Arthur, [20] after his last battle, was
borne to heal his wounds. A widespread legend of the Middle Ages also
described the visit made by St. Brandan, an Irish monk, to the "promised
land of the Saints," an earthly paradise far out in the Atlantic. St.
Brandan's Island was marked on early maps, and voyages in search of it
were sometimes undertaken.


The ideas of European geographers in the period just preceding the
discovery of America are represented on a map, or rather a globe, which
dates from 1492 A.D. It was made by a German navigator, Martin Behaim, for
his native city of Nuremberg, where it is still preserved. Behaim shows
the mythical island of St. Brandan, lying in mid-ocean, and beyond it
Japan (Cipango) and the East Indies. It is clear that he greatly
underestimated the distance westward between Europe and Asia. The error
was natural enough, for Ptolemy had reckoned the earth's circumference to
be about one-sixth less than it is, and Marco Polo had given an
exaggerated idea of the distance to which Asia extended on the east. When
Columbus set out on his voyage, he firmly believed that a journey of four
thousand miles would bring him to Cipango.

[Illustration: BEHAIM'S GLOBE
The outlines of North America and South America do not appear on the
original globe.]

COLUMBUS, 1446(?)-1506 A.D.

Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa, where his father followed the
humble trade of a weaver. He seems to have obtained some knowledge of
astronomy and geography as a student in the university of Pavia, but at an
early age he became a sailor. Columbus knew the Mediterranean by heart; he
once went to the Guinea coast; and he may have visited Iceland. He settled
at Lisbon as a map-maker and married a daughter of one of Prince Henry's
sea-captains. As Columbus pored over his maps and charts and talked with
seamen about their voyages, the idea came to him that much of the world
remained undiscovered and that the distant East could be reached by a
shorter route than that which led around Africa.

[Illustration: CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, (Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid)
The oldest known portrait of Columbus.]


Columbus was a well-read man, and in Aristotle, Ptolemy, and other ancient
authorities he found apparent confirmation of his grand idea. Columbus
also owned a printed copy of Marco Polo's book, and from his comments,
written on the margin, we know how interested he was in Polo's statements
referring to Cathay and Cipango. Furthermore, Columbus brought together
all the information he could get about the fabled islands of the Atlantic.
If he ever went to Iceland, some vague traditions may have reached him
there of Norse voyages to Greenland and Vinland. Such hints and rumors
strengthened his purpose to sail toward the setting sun in quest of the

[Illustration: ISABELLA]


All know the story. How Columbus first laid his plans before the king of
Portugal, only to meet with rebuffs; how he then went to Spain and after
many discouragements found a patron in Queen Isabella; how with three
small ships he set out from Palos, August 3, 1492 A.D.; how after leaving
the Canaries he sailed week after week over an unknown sea; and how at
last, on the early morning of October 12, he sighted in the moonlight the
glittering coral strand of one of the Bahama Islands. [21] It was the New

[Illustration: SHIP OF 1492 A.D.]


Columbus made three other voyages to the New World, in the course of which
he explored the Caribbean Sea, the mouth of the Orinoco River, and the
eastern coast of Central America. He lived and died in the belief that he
had actually reached the mainland of Asia and the realms of the Great Khan
of Cathay. The name West Indies still remains as a testimony to this


The New World was named for a Florentine navigator, Amerigo Vespucci. [22]
While in the Spanish service he made several western voyages and printed
an account of his discovery of the mainland of America in 1497 A.D.
Scholars now generally reject his statements, but they found acceptance at
the time, and it was soon suggested that the new continent should be
called America, "because Americus discovered it." The name applied at
first only to South America. After it became certain that South America
joined another continent to the north, the name spread over the whole New

[Illustration: THE NAME "AMERICA"
Facsimile of the passage in the _Cosmographiae Introductio_ (1507), by
Martin Waldseemuller, in which the name "America" is proposed for the New


Shortly after the return of Columbus from his first voyage, Pope Alexander
VI, in response to a request by Ferdinand and Isabella, issued a bull
granting these sovereigns exclusive rights over the newly discovered
lands. In order that the Spanish possessions should be clearly marked off
from the Portuguese, the pope laid down an imaginary line of demarcation
in the Atlantic, three hundred miles west of the Azores. All new
discoveries west of the line were to belong to Spain; all those east of
it, to Portugal. [23] But this arrangement, which excluded France,
England, and other European countries from the New World, could not be
long maintained.



The demarcation line had a good deal to do in bringing about the first
voyage around the globe. So far no one had yet realized the dream of
Columbus to reach the lands of spice and silk by sailing westward.
Ferdinand Magellan, formerly one of Albuquerque's lieutenants but now in
the service of Spain, believed that the Spice Islands lay within the
Spanish sphere of influence and that an all-Spanish route, leading to them
through some strait at the southern end of South America, could be


The Spanish ruler, Charles V, grandson of the Isabella who had supported
Columbus, looked with favor upon Magellan's ideas and gave him a fleet of
five vessels for the undertaking. After exploring the east coast of South
America, Magellan came at length to the strait which bears his name.
Through this channel he sailed boldly and found himself upon an ocean
which he called the Pacific, because of its peaceful aspect. Magellan's
sailors now begged him to return, for food was getting scarce, but the
navigator replied that he would go on, "if he had to eat the leather off
the rigging." He did go on, for ninety-eight days, until he reached the
Ladrone Islands. [24] By a curious chance, in all this long trip across
the Pacific, Magellan came upon only two islands, both of them
uninhabited. He then proceeded to the Philippines, where he was killed in
a fight with the natives. His men, however, managed to reach the Spice
Islands, the goal of the journey. Afterwards a single ship, the
_Victoria_, carried back to Spain the few sailors who had survived the
hardships of a voyage lasting nearly three years.

From a portrait formerly in the Versailles Gallery, Paris.]

Magellan's voyage forms a landmark in the history of geography. It proved
that America, at least on the south, had no connection with Asia; it
showed the enormous extent of the Pacific Ocean; and it led to the
discovery of many large islands in the East Indies. Henceforth men knew of
a certainty that the earth was round and in the distance covered by
Magellan they had a rough estimate of its size. The circumnavigation of
the globe ranks with the discovery of America among the most significant
events in history. In the company of great explorers Magellan stands
beside Columbus.



The first inhabitants of America probably came from the Old World. At a
remote epoch a land-bridge connected northwest Europe with Greenland, and
Iceland still remains a witness to its former existence. Over this bridge
animals and men may have found their way into the New World. Another
prehistoric route may have led from Asia. Only a narrow strait now
separates Alaska from Siberia, and the Aleutian Islands form an almost
complete series of stepping-stones across the most northerly part of the


The natives of America, whom Columbus called Indians, certainly resemble
Asiatics in some physical features, such as the reddish-brown complexion,
the hair, uniformly black and lank, the high cheek-bones, and short
stature of many tribes. On the other hand, the large, aquiline nose, the
straight eyes, never oblique, and the tall stature of some tribes are
European traits. It seems safe to conclude that the American aborigines,
whatever their origin, became thoroughly fused into a composite race
during long centuries of isolation from the rest of mankind.


Because of their isolation the Indians had to work out by themselves many
arts, inventions, and discoveries. They spoke over a thousand languages
and dialects; and not one has yet been traced outside of America. Their
implements consisted of polished stone, occasionally of unsmelted copper,
and in Mexico and Peru, of bronze. They cultivated Indian corn, or maize,
but lacked the other great cereals. They domesticated the dog and the
llama of the Andes. They lived in clans and tribes, ruled by headmen or
chiefs. Their religion probably did not involve a belief in a "Great
Spirit," as is so often said, but rather recognized in all nature the
abode of spiritual powers, mysterious and wonderful, whom man ought to
conciliate by prayers and sacrifices. In short, most of the American
Indians were not savages, but barbarians well advanced in culture.


Indian culture attained its highest development in Mexico and Central
America, especially among the Mayas of Yucatan, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The remains of their cities--the Ninevehs and Babylons of the New World--
lie buried in the tropical jungle, where Europeans first saw them, four
hundred years ago. The temples, shrines, altars, and statues in these
ancient cities show that the Mayas had made much progress in the fine
arts. They knew enough astronomy to frame a solar calendar of three
hundred and sixty-five days, and enough mathematics to employ numbers
exceeding a million. The writing of the Mayas had reached the rebus [25]
stage and promised to become alphabetic. When their hieroglyphics have
been completely deciphered, we shall learn much more about this gifted


Several centuries before the arrival of Europeans in America, the so-
called Aztecs came down from the north and established themselves on the
Mexican plateau. Here they formed a confederacy of many tribes, ruled over
by a sort of king, whose capital was Tenochtitlan, on the site of the
present city of Mexico.

British Museum, London. Length, twelve inches. The blade is of yellow,
opalescent chalcedony, beautifully chipped and polished. The handle is of
light-colored wood carved in the form of a man masked with a bird skin.
Brilliant mosaic settings of turquoise, malachite, and shell embellish the

Now in the National Museum in the City of Mexico.]


The Aztecs appear to have borrowed much of their art, science, and
knowledge of writing from their Maya neighbors. They built houses and
temples of stone or sundried brick, constructed aqueducts, roads, and
bridges, excelled in the dyeing, weaving, and spinning of cotton, and made
most beautiful ornaments of silver and gold. They worshiped many gods, to
which the priests offered prisoners of war as human sacrifices. In spite
of these bloody rites, the Aztecs were a kind-hearted, honest people,
respectful of the rights of property, brave in battle, and obedient to
their native rulers. Aztec culture in some ways was scarcely inferior to
that of the ancient Egyptians.


The lofty table-lands of the Andes were also the seat of an advanced
Indian culture. At the time of the Spanish conquest the greater part of
what is now Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and northern Chile had come under the
sway of the Incas, the "people of the sun". The Inca power centered in the
Peruvian city of Cuzco and on the shores of Lake Titicaca, which lies
twelve thousand feet above sea-level. In this region of magnificent
scenery the traveler views with astonishment the ruins of vast edifices,
apparently never completed, which were raised either by the Incas or the
Indians whom they conquered and displaced. Though the culture of the Incas
resembled in many ways that of the Aztecs, the two peoples probably never
had any intercourse and hence remained totally unaware of each other's

[Illustration: Map, WEST INDIES]



The discoverers of the New World were naturally the pioneers in its
exploration. The first object of the Spaniards had been trade with the
Indies, and for a number of years, until Magellan's voyage, they sought
vainly for a passage through the mainland to the Spice Islands. When,
however, the Spaniards learned that America was rich in deposits of gold
and silver, these metals formed the principal objects of their


The Spaniards at first had confined their settlements to the Greater
Antilles in the West Indies, [26] but after the gold of these islands was
exhausted, they began to penetrate the mainland. In 1513 A.D. Ponce de
Leon, who had been with Columbus on his second voyage, discovered the
country which he named Florida. It became the first Spanish possession in
North America. In the same year Vasco Nunez de Balboa, from the isthmus of
Panama, sighted the Pacific. He entered its waters, sword in hand, and
took formal possession in the name of the king of Spain.

[Illustration: Map, AN EARLY MAP OF THE NEW WORLD (1540 A.D.)]

CONQUEST OF MEXICO 1519-1521 A.D. AND PERU 1531-1537 A.D.

The overthrow of the Aztec power was accomplished by Hernando Cortes, with
the aid of Indian allies. Many large towns and half a thousand villages,
together with immense quantities of treasure, fell into the hands of the
conquerors. Henceforth Mexico, or "New Spain," became the most important
Spanish possession in America. Francisco Pizarro, who invaded Peru with a
handful of soldiers, succeeded in overthrowing the Incas. Pizarro founded
in Peru the city of Lima. It replaced Cuzco as the capital of the country
and formed the seat of the Spanish government in South America.


The Spaniards, during the earlier part of the sixteenth century, heard
much of a fabled king whom they called El Dorado. [27] This king, it was
said, used to smear himself with gold dust at an annual religious
ceremony. In time the idea arose that somewhere in South America existed a
fabled country marvelously rich in precious metals and gems. These stories
stirred the imagination of the Spaniards, who fitted out many expeditions
to find the gilded man and his gilded realm. The quest for El Dorado
opened up the valleys of the Amazon and Orinoco and the extensive forest
region east of the Andes. Spanish explorers also tried to find El Dorado
in North America. De Soto's expedition led to the discovery of the
Mississippi in 1541 A.D., and Coronado's search for the "Seven Cities of
Cibola" not only added greatly to geographical knowledge of the Southwest,
but also resulted in the extension of Spanish dominion over this part of
the American continent. About 1605 A.D. the Spaniards founded Santa Fe and
made it the capital of their government in New Mexico.

* * * * *



The wonderful exploits of the _conquistadores_ (conquerors) laid the
foundations of the Spanish colonial empire. It included Florida, New
Mexico, California, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and all
South America except Brazil. [28] The rule of Spain over these dominions
lasted nearly three hundred years. During this time she gave her language,
her government, and her religion to half the New World.


The Spaniards brought few women with them and hence had to find their
wives among the Indians. Intermarriage of the two peoples early became
common. The result was the mixed race which one still finds throughout the
greater part of Spanish America. In this race the Indian strain
predominates, because almost everywhere the aborigines were far more
numerous than the white settlers.


The Spaniards treated the Indians of the West Indies most harshly and
forced them to work in gold mines and on sugar plantations. The hard
labor, to which the Indians were unaccustomed, broke down their health,
and almost the entire native population disappeared within a few years
after the coming of the whites. This terrible tragedy was not repeated on
the mainland, for the Spanish government stepped in to preserve the
aborigines from destruction. It prohibited their enslavement and gave them
the protection of humane laws. Though these laws were not always well
enforced, the Indians of Mexico and Peru increased in numbers under
Spanish rule and often became prosperous traders, farmers, and artisans.


The Spaniards succeeded in winning many of the Indians to Christianity.
Devoted monks penetrated deep into the wilderness and brought to the
aborigines, not only the Christian religion, but also European
civilization. In many places the natives were gathered into permanent
villages, or "missions," each one with its church and school. Converts who
learned to read and write often became priests or entered the monastic
orders. The monks also took much interest in the material welfare of the
Indians and taught them how to farm, how to build houses, and how to spin
and weave and cook by better methods than their own.


The most familiar examples of the Spanish missions are those in the state
of California. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century
Franciscan friars missions erected no less than eighteen mission stations
along the Pacific coast from San Diego to San Francisco. The stations were
connected by the "King's Road" [29] which still remains the principal
highway of the state. Some of the mission buildings now lie in ruins and
others have entirely disappeared. But such a well-preserved structure as
the mission of Santa Barbara recalls a Benedictine monastery, [30] with
its shady cloisters, secluded courtyard, and timbered roof covered with
red tiles. It is a bit of the Old World transplanted to the New.


The civilizing work of Spain in the New World is sometimes forgotten. Here
were the earliest American hospitals and asylums, for the use of Indians
and negroes as well as of Spaniards. Here were the earliest American
schools and colleges. Twelve institutions of higher learning, all modeled
upon the university of Salamanca, arose in Spanish America during the
colonial period. Eight of these came into existence before the creation in
1636 A.D. of Harvard University, the oldest in the United States. The
pioneer printing press in the Western Hemisphere was set up at Mexico City
in 1535 A.D.; no printing press reached the English colonies till more
than one hundred years later. To the valuable books by Spanish scholars we
owe much of our knowledge of the Mayas, Aztecs, and other Indian tribes.
The first American newspaper was published at Mexico City in 1693 A.D. The
fine arts also flourished in the Spanish colonies, and architects of the
United States have now begun to copy the beautiful churches and public
buildings of Mexico and Peru.


The government of Spain administered its colonial dominions in the spirit
of monopoly. As far as possible it excluded French, English, and other
foreigners from trading with Spanish America. It also discouraged ship-
building, manufacturing, and even the cultivation of the vine and the
olive, lest the colonists should compete with home industries. The
colonies were regarded only as a workshop for the production of the
precious metals and raw materials. This unwise policy very largely
accounts for the economic backwardness of Mexico, Peru, and other Spanish-
American countries at the present day. Their rich natural resources have
as yet scarcely begun to be utilized.



The English based their claim to the right to colonize North America on
the discoveries of John Cabot, an Italian mariner in the service of the
Tudor king, Henry VII. [31] In 1497 A.D. Cabot sailed from Bristol across
the northern Atlantic and made land somewhere between Labrador and Nova
Scotia. The following year he seems to have undertaken a second voyage and
to have explored the coast of North America nearly as far as Florida.
Cabot, like Columbus, believed he had reached Cathay and the dominions of
the Great Khan. Because Cabot found neither gold nor opportunities for
profitable trade, his expeditions were considered a failure, and for a
long time the English took no further interest in exploring the New World.

Erected at Bristol, England, in memory of John Cabot and his sons. The
foundation stone was laid on June 24, 1897 A.D., the four-hundredth
anniversary of John Cabot's first sight of the continent of North


The discovery by Magellan of a strait leading into the Pacific aroused
hope that a similar passage, beyond the regions controlled by Spain, might
exist in North America. In 1534 A.D. the French king, Francis I, sent
Jacques Cartier to look for it. Cartier found the gulf and river which he
named after St. Lawrence, and also tried to establish a settlement near
where Quebec now stands. The venture was not successful, and the French
did not undertake the colonization of Canada till the first decade of the
seventeenth century.


English sailors also sought a road to India by the so-called Northwest
Passage. It was soon found to be an impossible route, for during half the
year the seas were frozen and during the other half they were filled with
icebergs. However, the search for the Northwest Passage added much to
geographical knowledge. The names Frobisher Bay, Davis Strait, and Baffin
Land still preserve the memory of the navigators who first explored the
channels leading into the Arctic Ocean.


When the English realized how little profit was to be gained by voyages to
the cold and desolate north, they turned southward to warmer waters. Here,
of course, they came upon the Spaniards, who had no disposition to share
with foreigners the profitable trade of the New World. Though England and
Spain were not at war, the English "sea dogs," as they called themselves,
did not scruple to ravage the Spanish colonies and to capture the huge,
clumsy treasure-ships carrying gold and silver to Spain. The most famous
of the "sea dogs," Sir Francis Drake, was the first Englishman to sail
round the world (1577-1580 A.D.).


Four years after Drake had completed his voyage, another English seaman,
Sir Walter Raleigh, sent out an expedition to find a good site for a
settlement in North America. The explorers reached the coast of North
Carolina and returned with glowing accounts of the country, which was
named Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth, the "Virgin Queen." But Raleigh's
colonies in Virginia failed miserably, and the English made no further
attempt to settle there till the reign of James I, early in the
seventeenth century.



The New World contained two virgin continents, full of natural resources
and capable in a high degree of colonization. The native peoples,
comparatively few in number and barbarian in culture, could not offer much
resistance to the explorers, missionaries, traders, and colonists from the
Old World. The Spanish and Portuguese in the sixteenth century, followed
by the French, English, and Dutch in the seventeenth century, repeopled
America and brought to it European civilization. Europe expanded into a
Greater Europe beyond the ocean.


In the Middle Ages the Mediterranean and the Baltic had been the principal
highways of commerce. The discovery of America, followed immediately by
the opening of the Cape route to the Indies, shifted commercial activity
from these enclosed seas to the Atlantic Ocean. Venice, Genoa, Hamburg,
Luebeck, and Bruges gradually gave way, as trading centers, to Lisbon and
Cadiz, Bordeaux and Cherbourg, Antwerp and Amsterdam, London and
Liverpool. One may say, therefore, that the year 1492 A.D. inaugurated the
Atlantic period of European history. The time may come, perhaps even now
it is dawning, when the center of gravity of the commercial world will
shift still farther westward to the Pacific.


The discovery of America revealed to Europeans a new source of the
precious metals. The Spaniards soon secured large quantities of gold by
plundering the Indians of Mexico and Peru of their stored-up wealth. After
the discovery in 1545 A.D. of the wonderfully rich silver mines of Potosi
in Bolivia, the output of silver much exceeded that of gold. It is
estimated that by the end of the sixteenth century the American mines had
produced at least three times as much gold and silver as had been current
in Europe at the beginning of the century.


The Spaniards could not keep this new treasure. Having few industries
themselves, they were obliged to send it out, as fast as they received it,
in payment for their imports of European goods. Spain acted as a huge
sieve through which the gold and silver of America entered all the
countries of Europe. Money, now more plentiful, purchased far less than in
former times; in other words, the prices of all commodities rose, wages
advanced, and manufacturers and traders had additional capital to use in
their undertakings. The Middle Ages had suffered from the lack of
sufficient money with which to do business; [32] from the beginning of
modern times the world has been better supplied with the indispensable
medium of exchange.


But America was much more than a treasury of the precious metals. Many
commodities, hitherto unknown, soon found their way from the New World to
the Old. Among these were maize, the potato, which, when cultivated in
Europe, became the "bread of the poor," chocolate and cocoa made from the
seeds of the cacao tree, Peruvian bark, or quinine, so useful in malarial
fevers, cochineal, the dye-woods of Brazil, and the mahogany of the West
Indies. America also sent large supplies of cane-sugar, molasses, fish,
whale-oil, and furs. The use of tobacco, which Columbus first observed
among the Indians, spread rapidly over Europe and thence extended to the
rest of the world. All these new American products became common articles
of consumption and so raised the standard of living in European countries.


To the economic effects of the discoveries must be added their effects on
politics. The Atlantic Ocean now formed, not only the commercial, but also
the political center of the world. The Atlantic-facing countries, first
Portugal and Spain, then Holland, France, and England, became the great
powers of Europe. Their trade rivalries and contests for colonial
possessions have been potent causes of European wars for the last four
hundred years.


The sudden disclosure of oceans, islands, and continents, covering one-
third of the globe, worked a revolution in geographical ideas. The earth
was found to be far larger than men had supposed it to be, and the
imagination was stirred by the thought of other amazing discoveries which
might be made. From the sixteenth century to the twentieth the work of
exploration has continued, till now few regions of the world yet remain
unmapped. At the same time came acquaintance with many strange plants,
animals, and peoples, and so scientific knowledge replaced the quaint
fancies of the Middle Ages.


The sixteenth century in Europe was the age of that revolt against the
Roman Church called the Protestant Reformation. During this period,
however, the Church won her victories over the American aborigines. What
she lost of territory, wealth, and influence in Europe was more than
offset by what she gained in America. Furthermore, the region now occupied
by the United States furnished in the seventeenth century an asylum from
religious persecution, as was proved when Puritans settled in New England,
Roman Catholics in Maryland, and Quakers in Pennsylvania. The vacant
spaces of America offered plenty of room for all who would worship God in
their own way. Thus the New World became a refuge from the intolerance of
the Old.


1. On an outline map indicate those parts of the world known in the time
of Columbus (before 1492 A.D.).

2. On an outline map indicate the voyages of discovery of Vasco da Gama,
Columbus (first voyage), John Cabot, and Magellan.

3. What particular discoveries were made by Cartier, Drake, Balboa, De
Soto, Ponce de Leon, and Coronado?

4. Compare the Cosmas map (page 617) with the map of the world according
to Homer (page 76).

5. Compare the Hereford map (page 617) with the map of the world according
to Ptolemy (page 132).

6. Why has Marco Polo been called the "Columbus of the East Indies"?

7. "Cape Verde not only juts out into the Atlantic, but stands forth as a
promontory in human history." Comment on this statement.

8. How did Vasco da Gama complete the work of Prince Henry the Navigator?

9. Show that Lisbon in the sixteenth century was the commercial successor
of Venice.

10. "Had Columbus perished in mid-ocean, it is doubtful whether America
would have remained long undiscovered." Comment on this statement.

11. Why did no one suggest that the New World be called after Columbus?

12. Show that Magellan achieved what Columbus planned.

13. Why did Balboa call the Pacific the "South Sea"?

14. Why is Roman law followed in all Spanish-American countries?

15. In what parts of the world is Spanish still the common language?

16. Why did the Germans fail to take part in the work of discovery and

17. Show that the three words "gospel, glory, and gold" sum up the
principal motives of European colonization in the sixteenth century.

18. Compare the motives which led to the colonization of the New World
with those which led to Greek colonization.

19. "The opening of the Atlantic to continuous exploration is the most
momentous step in the history of man's occupation of the earth." Does this
statement seem to be justified?


[1] Webster, _Readings in Medieval and Modern History_, chapter xxi, "The
Travels of Marco Polo"; chapter xxii, "The Aborigines of the New World."

[2] _Ezekiel_, v, 5.

[3] _Isaiah_, x, 12.

[4] See pages 574-575.

[5] See page 35.

[6] See page 347.

[7] See page 488.

[8] See page 611.

[9] Froissart, _Chronicles_, ii, 73.

[10] See page 540.

[11] See page 49.

[12] Not Calcutta.

[13] See page 540.

[14] The Portuguese colonial empire included Ormuz, the west coast of
India, Ceylon, Malacca, and various possessions in the Malay Archipelago
(Sumatra, Java, Celebes, the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, and New Guinea).
The Portuguese also had many trading posts on the African coast, besides
Brazil, which one of their mariners discovered in 1500 A.D. See the map
Between pages 628-629.

[15] See page 573.

[16] See page 591.

[17] See page 133.

[18] A Latin translation of Ptolemy's _Geography_, accompanied by maps,
was printed for the first time probably in 1462 A.D.

[19] See page 275.

[20] See page 560.

[21] Named San Salvador by Columbus and usually identified with Watling

[22] In Latin, Americus Vespucius.

[23] In 1494 A.D., the demarcation line was shifted about eight hundred
miles farther to the west. Six years later, when the Portuguese discovered
Brazil, the country was found to lie within their sphere of influence.

[24] Also known as the Mariannes. Magellan called them the Ladrones
(Spanish _ladron_, a robber), because of the thievish habits of the

[25] See page 9.

[26] Cuba, Hispaniola (now divided between the republics of Haiti and
Santo Domingo), Porto Rico, and Jamaica.

[27] Spanish for the "gilded one."

[28] See the map between pages 628-629. The Philippines, discovered by
Magellan in 1521 A.D., also belonged to Spain, though by the demarcation
line these islands lay within the Portuguese sphere of influence.

[29] In Spanish _El Camino Real_.

[30] See page 355.

[31] See page 518.

[32] See page 541.





The Papacy, victorious in the long struggle with the Holy Roman Empire,
reached during the thirteenth century the height of its temporal power.
The popes at this time were the greatest sovereigns in Europe. They ruled
a large part of Italy, had great influence in the affairs of France,
England, Spain, and other countries, and in Germany named and deposed
emperors. From their capital at Rome they sent forth their legates to
every European court and issued the laws binding on western Christendom.


The universal dominion of the Church proved useful and even necessary in
feudal times, when kings were weak and nobles were strong. The Church of
the early Middle Ages served as the chief unifying force in Europe. When,
however, the kings had repressed feudalism, they took steps to extend
their authority over the Church as well. They tried, therefore, to
restrict the privileges of ecclesiastical courts, to impose taxes on the
clergy, as on their own subjects, and to dictate the appointment of
bishops and abbots to office. This policy naturally led to much friction
between popes and kings, between Church and State.


The Papacy put forth its most extensive claims under Boniface VIII. The
character of these claims is shown by two bulls which he issued. The first
forbade all laymen, under penalty of excommunication, to collect taxes on
Church lands, and all clergymen to pay them. The second announced in
unmistakable terms both the spiritual and the temporal supremacy of the
popes. "Submission to the Roman pontiff," declared Boniface, "is
altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature".


Boniface had employed the exalted language of Gregory VII in dealing with
Henry IV, but he found an opponent in a monarch more resolute and
resourceful than any Holy Roman Emperor. This was Philip the Fair, [2]
king of France. Philip answered the first bull by refusing to allow any
gold and silver to be exported from France to Italy. The pope, thus
deprived of valuable revenues, gave way and acknowledged that the French
ruler had a limited right to tax the clergy. Another dispute soon arose,
however, as the result of Philip's imprisonment and trial of an obnoxious
papal legate. Angered by this action, Boniface prepared to excommunicate
the king and depose him from the throne. Philip retaliated by calling
together the Estates-General and asking their support for the preservation
of the "ancient liberty of France." The nobles, the clergy, and the "third
estate" rallied around Philip, accused the pope of heresy and tyranny, and
declared that the French king was subject to God alone.

ANAGNI, 1303 A.D.

The last act of the drama was soon played. Philip sent his emissaries into
Italy to arrest the pope and bring him to trial before a general council
in France. At Anagni, near Rome, a band of hireling soldiers stormed the
papal palace and made Boniface a prisoner. The citizens of Anagni soon
freed him, but the shock of the humiliation broke the old man's spirit and
he died soon afterwards. The poet Dante, in the _Divine Comedy_, [3]
speaks with awe of the outrage: "Christ had been again crucified among
robbers; and the vinegar and gall had been again pressed to his lips". [4]
The historian sees in this event the end of the temporal power of the


Soon after the death of Boniface, Philip succeeded in having the
archbishop of Bordeaux chosen as head of the Church. The new pope removed
the papal court to Avignon, a town just outside the French frontier of
those days. The popes lived in Avignon for nearly seventy years. This
period is usually described as the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Church, a
name which recalls the exile of the Jews from their native land. [5] The
long absence of the popes from Rome lessened their power, and the
suspicion that they were the mere vassals of the French crown seriously
impaired the respect in which they had been held.

THE "GREAT SCHISM," 1378-1417 A.D.

Following the "Babylonian Captivity" came the "Great Schism." Shortly
after the return of the papal court to Rome, an Italian was elected pope
as Urban VI. The cardinals in the French interest refused to accept him,
declared his election void, and named Clement VII as pope. Clement
withdrew to Avignon, while Urban remained in Rome. Western Christendom
could not decide which one to obey. Some countries declared for Urban,
while other countries accepted Clement. The spectacle of two rival popes,
each holding himself out as the only true successor of St. Peter,
continued for about forty years and injured the Papacy more than anything
else that had happened to it.


The schism in western Christendom was finally healed at the Council of
Constance. There were three "phantom popes" at this time, but they were
all deposed in favor of a new pontiff, Martin V. The Catholic world now
had a single head, but it was not easy to revive the old, unquestioning
loyalty to him as God's vicar on earth.


From the time of Martin V the Papacy became more and more an Italian
power. The popes neglected European politics and gave their chief
attention to the States of the Church. A number of the popes took much
interest in the Renaissance movement and became its enthusiastic patrons.
[6] They kept up splendid courts, collected manuscripts, paintings, and
statues, and erected magnificent palaces and churches in Rome. Some
European peoples, especially in Germany, looked askance at such luxury and
begrudged the heavy taxes which were necessary to support it. This feeling
against the papacy also helped to provoke the Reformation.


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