The World's Greatest Books, Vol XII.
Part 5 out of 6
hard, Breda was captured (March 1590) by a very daring stratagem carried
out with extraordinary resolution--an event of slight intrinsic
importance, but exceedingly characteristic. During the summer several
other places were reduced, but Maurice was planning a great and
The year gave triumphant proof of the genius of Parma as a general, and
of the soundness of his views as to Philip's policy. Henry was
throttling Paris; by masterly movements Parma evaded the pitched battle,
for which Bearnais thirsted, yet compelled his adversary to relinquish
the siege. Nevertheless, Henry's activity was hardly checked; and when
Parma, in December, returned to the Netherlands, he found the Spanish
provinces in a deplorable state, and the Dutch states prospering and
progressing; while in France itself Henry's victory had certainly been
staved off, but had by no means been made impossible.
Throughout 1591, Maurice's operations were recovering strong places for
the States, one after another, from Zutphen and Deventer to Nymegen.
Parma was too much hampered by the bonds Philip had imposed on him to
meet Maurice effectively. And Henry was prospering in Normandy and
Brittany, and was laying siege to Rouen before the year ended.
In the spring Parma succeeded in relieving Rouen. Then Henry manoeuvred
him into what seemed a trap; but his genius was equal to the occasion,
and he escaped. But while the great general was engaged in France,
Maurice went on mining and sapping his way into Netherland fortresses.
In the meantime, Philip's grand object was to secure the French crown
for his own daughter, whose mother had been a sister of the last three
kings of France; the present plan being to marry her to the young Duke
of Guise--a scheme not to the liking of Guise's uncle Mayenne, who
wanted the crown himself. But Philip's chief danger lay in the prospect
of Henry turning Catholic.
Parma's death, in December 1592, deprived Philip of the genius which had
for years past been the mainstay of his power. Henry's public
announcement of his return to the Holy Catholic Church, in the summer of
1593, deprived the Spanish king of nearly all the support he had
hitherto received in France. Before this Maurice had opened his attack
on the two great cities which the Spaniards still held in the United
Provinces, Gertruydenberg and Groningen. His scientific methods secured
the former in June. In similar scientific style he raised the siege of
Corwarden. A year after Gertruydenberg, Groningen surrendered.
In 1595, France and Spain were at open war again, and in spite of
Henry's apostasy he had drawn into close alliance with the United
Provinces. The inefficient Archduke Ernest, who had succeeded Parma,
died at the beginning of the year. Fuentes, nephew of Alva, was the new
governor, _ad interim_. His operations in Picardy were successfully
conducted. The summer gave an extraordinary example of human vigour
triumphing, both physically and mentally, over the infirmities of old
age. Christopher Mondragon, at the age of ninety-two, marched against
Maurice, won a skirmish on the Lippe, and spoilt Maurice's campaign. In
January 1596 the governorship was taken over by the Archduke Albert. A
disaster both to France and England was the Spaniards' capture of
Calais, which Elizabeth might have relieved, but offered to do so only
on condition of it being restored to England--an offer flatly declined.
At the same time Henry and Elizabeth negotiated a league, but its
ostensible arrangements, intended to bring in the United Provinces and
Protestant German States, were very different from the real
stipulations, the queen promising very much less than was supposed. At
the end of October the Estates signed the articles.
Before winter was over, Maurice, with 800 horse, cut up an army of 5,000
men on the heath of Tiel, killing 2,000 and taking 500 prisoners, with a
loss of nine or ten men only. The enemy had comprised the pick of the
Spaniards' forces, and their prestige was absolutely wiped out. This was
just after Philip had wrecked European finance at large by publicly
repudiating the whole of his debts. The year 1697 was further remarkable
for the surprise and capture of Amiens by the Spaniards, and its siege
and recovery by Henry--a siege conducted on the engineering methods
introduced by Maurice. But the relations of the provinces with France
were now much strained; uncertainty prevailed as to whether either Henry
or Elizabeth, or both, might not make peace with Spain separately.
The Treaty of Vervins did, in fact, end the war between France and
Spain. It was followed almost at once by the death of Philip, who,
however, had just married the infanta to the archduke, and ceded the
sovereignty of the Netherlands to them.
In 1600 the States-General planned the invasion of the Spanish
Netherlands, but the scheme proved impracticable, and was abandoned.
Ostend was the one position in Flanders held by the United Provinces,
with a very mixed garrison. The archduke besieged Ostend (1601). Maurice
did not attack him, but captured the keys of the debatable land of
Cleves and Juliers. The siege of Ostend developed into a tremendous
affair, and a school in the art of war. Maurice, instead of aiming at a
direct relief, continued his operations so as to prevent the archduke
from a thorough concentration. In the summer of 1602 he was besieging
Grave, and Ostend was kept amply supplied from the sea, where the Dutch
had inflicted a tremendous defeat on the enemy. But early in 1603 the
Spaniards succeeded in carrying some outworks.
The death of Elizabeth, and the accession of James I. to the throne of
England affected the European situation; but Robert Cecil, Lord
Salisbury, was the new king's minister. Nevertheless, no long time had
elapsed before James was entering upon alliance with the Spaniard.
A new commander-in-chief was now before Ostend in the person of Ambrose
Spinola, an unknown young Italian, who was soon to prove himself a
worthy antagonist for Maurice. Spinola continued the siege of Ostend,
where the garrison were being driven inch by inch within an
ever-narrowing circle. This year, Maurice's counter-stroke was the
investment of Sluys, which was reduced in three months, in spite of a
skilful but unsuccessful attempt at its relief by Spinola. At length,
however, the long resistance of Ostend was finished when there was
practically nothing of the place left. The garrison marched out with the
honours of war, after a siege of over three years.
The next year was a bad one for Maurice. Spinola was beginning to show
his quality. Maurice's troops met with one reverse, when what should
have been a victory was turned into a rout by an unaccountable panic.
Spinola had learnt his business from Maurice, and was a worthy pupil.
All through 1606 the game of intrigue was going on without any great
advance or advantage to anyone. But while the Dutch had been campaigning
in the Netherlands, they had also been establishing themselves in the
Spice Islands, and in 1607 the rise of the United Provinces as a
sea-power received emphatic demonstration in a great fight off
Gibraltar. The disparity in size between the Spanish and Dutch vessels
was enormous, but the victory was overwhelming. Not a Dutch ship was
lost, and the Spanish fleet, which had viewed their approach with
laughter, was annihilated. The name of Heemskerk, the Dutch admiral who
inspired the battle, and lost his life at its beginning, is enrolled
among those of the nation's heroes.
This event had greatly stimulated the desire of the archduke for an
armistice, which had been in process of negotiation. With the old king
negotiation had been futile, since there was no prospect of his ever
conceding the minimum requirements of the provinces. Now, Spain had
reached a different position, and Spinola himself required a far heavier
expenditure than she was prepared for as the alternative to a peace on
the _uti possidetis_ basis. In the provinces, however, Barneveld and
Maurice were in antagonism; but an armistice was established and
extended, while solemn negotiations went on at The Hague in the
beginning of 1608. The proposals accepted next year implied virtually
the recognition of the Dutch republic as an independent nation, though
nominally there was only a truce for twelve years. The practical effect
was to secure not only independence but religious liberty, and the form
implied the independence and security of the Indian trade and even of
the West Indian trade. So, in 1609 the Dutch republic took its place
among the European powers.
* * * * *
The History of India
Mountstuart Elphinstone was born in October 1779, and joined
the Bengal service in 1795, some three years before the
arrival in India of Lord Mornington, afterwards Marquess
Wellesley. He continued in the Indian service till 1829, and
was offered but refused the Governor Generalship. The last
thirty years of his life he passed in comparative retirement
in England, and died in November, 1859, at Hook Wood. He was
one of the particularly brilliant group of British
administrators in India in the first quarter of the last
century. Like his colleagues, Munro and Malcolm, he was a keen
student of Indian History. And although some of his views
require to be modified in the light of more recent enquiry,
his "History of India" published in 1841 is still the standard
authority from the earliest times to the establishment of the
British as a territorial power.
India is crossed from East to West by a chain of mountains called the
Vindhyas. The country to the North of this chain is now called Hindustan
and that to the South of it the Deckan. Hindustan is in four natural
divisions; the valley of the Indus including the Panjab, the basin of
the Ganges, Rajputana and Central India. Neither Bengal nor Guzerat is
included in Hindustan power. The rainy season lasts from June to October
while the South West wind called the Monsoon is blowing.
Every Hindu history must begin with the code of Menu which was probably
drawn up in the 9th century B.C. In the society described, the first
feature that strikes us is the division into four castes--the
sacerdotal, the military, the industrial, and the servile. The Bramin is
above all others even kings. In theory he is excluded from the world
during three parts of his life. In practice he is the instructor of
kings, the interpreter of the military class; the king, his ministers,
and the soldiers. Third are the Veisyas who conduct all agricultural and
industrial operations; and fourth the Sudras who are outside the pale.
The king stands at the head of the Government with a Bramin for chief
Counsellor. Elaborate rules and regulations are laid down in the code as
to administration, taxation, foreign policy, and war. Land perhaps but
not certainly was generally held in common by village communities.
The king himself administers justice or deputes that work to Bramins.
The criminal code is extremely rude; no proportion is observed between
the crime and the penalty, and offences against Bramins or religion are
excessively penalised. In the civil law the rules of evidence are
vitiated by the admission of sundry excuses for perjury. Marriage is
indissoluble. The regulations on this subject and on inheritance are
elaborate and complicated.
The religion is drawn from the sacred books called the Vedas, compiled
in a very early form of Sanskrit. There is one God, the supreme spirit,
who created the universe including the inferior deities. The whole
creation is re-absorbed and re-born periodically. The heroes of the
later Hindu Pantheon do not appear. The religious observances enjoined
are infinite; but the eating of flesh is not prohibited. At this date,
however, moral duties are still held of higher account than ceremonial.
Immense respect is enjoined for immemorial customs as being the root of
all piety. The distinction between the three superior or "Twice Born"
classes points to the conclusion that they were a conquering people and
that the servile classes were the subdued Aborigines. It remains to be
proved, however, that the conquerors were not indigenous. The system
might have come into being as a natural growth, without the hypothesis
of an external invasion.
The Bramins claim that they alone now have preserved their lineage in
its purity. The Rajputs, however, claim to be pure Cshatriyas. In the
main the Bramin rules of life have been greatly relaxed. The castes
below the Cshatriyas have now become extremely mixed and extremely
numerous; a servile caste no longer exists. A man who loses caste is
excluded both from all the privileges of citizenship and all the
amenities of private life. As a rule, however, the recovery of caste by
expiation is an easy matter. The institution of Monastic Orders scarcely
seems to be a thousand years old.
Menu's administrative regulations have similarly lost their uniformity.
The township or village community, however, has survived. It is a
self-governing unit with its own officials, for the most part
hereditary. In large parts of India the land within the community is
regarded as the property of a group of village landowners, who
constitute the township, the rest of the inhabitants being their
tenants. The tenants whether they hold from the landowners or from the
Government are commonly called Ryots. An immense proportion of the
produce, or its equivalent, has to be paid to the State. The Zenindars
who bear a superficial likeness to English landlords were primarily the
Government officials to whom these rents were farmed. Tenure by military
service bearing some resemblance to the European feudal system is found
in the Rajput States. The code of Menu is still the basis of the Hindu
Religion has been greatly modified. Monotheism has been supplanted by a
gross Polytheism, by the corruption of symbolism. At the head are the
Triad Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the preserver, Siva the destroyer.
Fourteen more principal deities may be enumerated. To them must be added
their female Consorts. Many of the Gods are held to be incarnations of
Vishnu or Siva. Further, there is a vast host of spirits and demons,
good or evil. By far the most numerous sect is that of the followers of
Devi the spouse of Siva. The religions of the Buddhists and the Jains
though differing greatly from the Hindu seemed to have the same origin.
The five languages of Hindustan are of Sanscrit origin, belonging to the
Indo-European family. Of the Deckan languages, two are mixed, while the
other three have no connection with Sanscrit.
From Menu's code it is clear that there was an open trade between the
different parts of India. References to the sea seemed to prove that a
coasting trade existed. Maritime trade was probably in the hands of the
Arabs. The people of the East Coast were more venturesome sailors than
those of the West. The Hindus certainly made settlements in Java. There
are ten nations in India which differ from each other as much as do the
nations of Europe, and also resemble each other in much the same degree.
The physical contrast between the Hindustanis and the Bengalis is
complete; their languages are as near akin and as mutually
unintelligible as English and German, yet in religion, in their notions
on Government, in very much of their way of life, they are
indistinguishable to the European.
Indian widows sometimes sacrifice themselves on the husband's funeral
pile. Such a victim is called Sati. It is uncertain when the custom was
first introduced, but, evidently it existed before the Christian era.
A curious feature is that as there are castes for all trades, so there
are hereditary thief castes. Hired watchmen generally belong to these
castes on a principle which is obvious. The mountaineers of Central
India are a different race from the dwellers in the plain. They appear
to have been aboriginal inhabitants before the Hindu invasion. The
mountaineers of the Himalayas are in race more akin to the Chinese.
Established Hindu chronology is found in the line of Magadha. We can fix
the King Ajata Satru, who ruled, in the time of Gotama, in the
middle of the sixth century B.C. Some generations later comes
Chandragupta--undoubtedly the Sandracottus of Diodorus. The early legend
apparently begins to give place to real history with Rama, who certainly
invaded the Deckan. He would seem to have been a king in Oudh. The next
important event is the war of the Maha Bharata, probably in the
fourteenth century B.C. Soon after the main seat of Government seems to
have transferred to Delhi. The kingdom of Magadha next assumes a
commanding position though its rulers long before Chandragupta were of
low caste. Of these kings the greatest is Asoka, three generations after
Chandragupta. There was certainly no lord paramount of India at the time
of Alexander's invasion. Nothing points to any effective universal Hindu
Empire, though such an empire is claimed for various kings at intervals
until the beginning of the Mahometan invasions.
_II.--The Mahometan Conquest_
The wave of Mahometan conquest was, in course of time, to sweep into
India. By the end of the seventh century the Arabs were forcing their
way to Cabul 664 A.D. At the beginning of the next century Sindh was
overrun and Multan was captured; nevertheless, no extended conquest was
as yet attempted. After the reign of the Calif Harun al Raschid at
Bagdad the Eastern rulers fell upon evil days. Towards the end of the
tenth century a satrapy was established at Ghazni and in the year 1001
Mahmud of Ghazni, having declared his independence, began his series of
invasions. On his fourth expedition Mahmud met with a determined
resistance from a confederacy of Hindu princes. A desperate battle was
fought and won by him near Peshawer. Mahmud made twelve expeditions into
India altogether, on one of which he carried off the famous gates of
Somnat; but he was content to leave subordinate governors in the Punjab
and at Guzerat and never sought to organise an empire. During his life
Mahmud was incomparably the greatest ruler in Asia.
After his death the rulers of Ghazni were unable to maintain a
consistent supremacy. It was finally overthrown by Ala ud din of Ghor.
His nephew, Shahab ud din, was the real founder of the Mahometan Empire
in India. The princes of the house of Ghazni who had taken refuge in the
Punjab and Guzarat were overthrown and thus the only Mahometan rivals
were removed. On his first advance against the Rajput kingdom of Delhi,
he was routed; but a second invasion was successful, and a third carried
his arms to Behar and even Bengal.
On the death of Shahab ud din, his new and vast Indian dominion became
independent under his general Kutb ud din, who had begun life as a
slave. The dynasty was carried on by another slave Altamish. Very soon
after this the Mongol Chief Chengiz Khan devastated half the world, but
left India comparatively untouched. Altamish established the Mahometan
rule of Delhi over all Hindustan. This series of rulers, known as the
slave kings, was brought to an end after eighty-two years by the
establishment of the Khilji dynasty in 1288 by the already aged Jelal ud
din. His nephew and chief Captain Ala ud din opened a career of
conquest, invading the Deckan even before he secured the throne for
himself by assassinating his uncle. In fact, he extended his dominion
over almost the whole of India in spite of frequent rebellions and
sundry Mongol incursions all successfully repressed or dispersed. In
1321 the Khilji dynasty was overthrown by the House of Tughlak.
The second prince of this house, Mahomet Tughlak, was a very remarkable
character. Possessed of extraordinary accomplishments, learned,
temperate, and brave, he plunged upon wholly irrational and
inpracticable schemes of conquest which were disastrous in themselves
and also from the methods to which the monarch was driven to procure the
means for his wild attempts. One portion after another of the vast
empire broke into revolt and at the end of the century the dynasty was
overturned and the empire shattered by the terrific invasion of
Tamerlane the Tartar. It was not till the middle of the seventeenth
century that the Lodi dynasty established itself at Delhi and ruled not
without credit for nearly seventy years. The last ruler of this house
was Ibrahim, a man who lacked the worthy qualities of his predecessors.
And in 1526 Ibrahim fell before the conquering arms of the mighty Baber,
the founder of the Mogul dynasty.
_III.--Baber and Aber_
Baber was a descendant of Tamerlane. He himself was a Turk, but his
mother was a Mongol; hence the familiar title of the dynasty known as
the Moguls. Succeeding to the throne of Ferghana at the age of twelve
the great conqueror's youth was full of romantic vicissitudes, of sharp
reverses and brilliant achievements. He was only four and twenty when he
succeeded in making himself master of Cabul. He was forty-four, when
with a force of twelve thousand men he shattered the huge armies of
Ibrahim at Panipat and made himself master of Delhi. His conquests were
conducted on what might almost be called principles of knight errantry.
His greatest victories were won against overwhelming odds, at the head
of followers who were resolved to conquer or die. And in three years he
had conquered all Hindustan. His figure stands out with an extraordinary
fascination, as an Oriental counterpart of the Western ideal of
chivalry; and his autobiography is an absolutely unique record
presenting the almost sole specimen of real history in Asia.
But Baber died before he could organise his empire and his son Humayun
was unable to hold what had been won. An exceedingly able Mahometan
Chief, Shir Khan, raised the standard of revolt, made himself master of
Behar and Bengal, drove Humayun out of Hindustan, and established
himself under the title of Shir Shah. His reign was one of conspicuous
ability. It was not till he had been dead for many years that Humayun
was able to recover his father's dominion. Indeed, he himself fell
before victory was achieved. The restoration was effected in the name of
his young son Akber, a boy of thirteen, by the able general and
minister, Bairam Khan, at the victory of Panipat in 1556. The long reign
of Akber initiates a new era.
Two hundred years before this time the Deckan had broken free from the
Delhi dominion. But no unity and no supremacy was permanently
established in the southern half of India where, on the whole, Mahometan
dynasties now held the ascendancy. Rajputana on the other hand, which
the Delhi monarchs had never succeeded in bringing into complete
subjection, remained purely Hindu under the dominion of a variety of
The victory of Panipat was decisive. Naturally enough, Bairam assumed
complete control of the State. His rule was able, but harsh and
arrogant. After three years the boy king of a sudden coup d'etat assumed
the reins of Government. Perhaps it was fortunate for both that the
fallen minister was assassinated by a personal enemy.
Of all the dynasties that had ruled in India that of Baber was the most
insecure in its foundations. It was without any means of support
throughout the great dominion which stretched from Cabul to Bengal. The
boy of eighteen had a tremendous task before him. Perhaps it was this
very weakness which suggested to Akber the idea of giving his power a
new foundation by setting himself at the head of an Indian nation, and
forming the inhabitants of his vast dominion, without distinction of
race or religion, into a single community. Swift and sudden in action,
the young monarch broke down one after another the attempts of
subordinates to free themselves from his authority. By the time that he
was twenty-five he had already crushed his adversaries by his vigour or
attached them by his clemency. The next steps were the reduction of
Rajputana, Ghuzerat and Bengal; and when this was accomplished Akber's
sway extended over the whole of India north of the Deckan, to which was
added Kashmir and what we now call Afghanistan. Akber had been on the
throne for fifty years before he was able to intervene actively in the
Deckan and to bring a great part of it under his sway.
But the great glory of Akber lies not in the conquests which made the
Mogul Empire the greatest hitherto known in India, but in that empire's
organisation and administration. Akber Mahometanism was of the most
latitudinarian type. His toleration was complete. He had practically no
regard for dogma, while deeply imbued with the spirit of religion. In
accordance with his liberal principles Hinduism was no bar to the
highest offices. In theory his philosophy was not new, though it was so
in practical application.
None of his reforms are more notable than the revenue system carried out
by his Hindu minister, Todar Mal, itself a development of a system
initiated by Shir Shah. His empire was divided into fifteen provinces,
each under a viceroy under the control of the king himself. Great as a
warrior and great as an administrator Akber always enjoyed abundant
leisure for study and amusement. He excelled in all exercises of
strength and skill; his history is filled with instances of romantic
courage, and he had a positive enjoyment of danger. Yet he had no
fondness for war, which he neither sought nor continued without good
_IV.--The Mogul Empire_
Akber died in 1605 and was succeeded by his son Selim, who took the
title of Jehan Gir. The Deckan, hardly subdued, achieved something like
independence under a great soldier and administrator of Abyssinian
origin, named Malik Amber. In the sixth year of his reign Jehan Gir
married the beautiful Nur Jehan, by whose influence the emperor's
natural brutality was greatly modified in practice. His son, Prince
Khurram, later known as Shah Jehan, distinguished himself in war with
the Rajputs, displaying a character not unworthy of his grandfather. In
1616 the embassy of Sir Thomas Roe from James I visited the Court of the
Great Mogul. Sir Thomas was received with great honour, and is full of
admiration of Jehan Gir's splendour. It is clear, however, that the high
standards set up by Akber were fast losing their efficacy.
Jehan Gir died in 1627 and was succeeded by Shah Jehan. Much of his
reign was largely occupied with wars in the Deckan and beyond the
northwest frontier on which the emperor's son Aurangzib was employed.
Most of the Deckan was brought into subjection, but Candahar was finally
lost. Shah Jehan was the most magnificent of all the Moguls. In spite of
his wars, Hindustan itself enjoyed uninterrupted tranquillity, and on
the whole, a good Government. It was he who constructed the fabulously
magnificent peacock throne, built Delhi anew, and raised the most
exquisite of all Indian buildings, the Taj Mahal or Pearl Mosque, at
Agre. After a reign of thirty years he was deposed by his son Aurangzib,
known also as Alam Gir.
Aurangzib had considerable difficulty in securing his position by the
suppression of rivals; but our interest now centres in the Deckan, where
the Maratta people were organised into a new power by the redoubtable
Sivaji. Though some of the Marattas claim Rajput descent, they are of
low caste. They have none of the pride or dignity of the Rajput, and
they care nothing for the point of honour; but they are active, hardy,
persevering, and cunning. Sivaji was the son of a distinguished soldier
named Shahji, in the service of the King of Bijapur. By various
artifices young Sivaji brought a large area under his control. Then he
revolted against Bijapur, posing as a Hindu leader. He wrung for himself
a sort of independence from Bijapur. His proceedings attracted the
attention of Aurangzib, who, however, did not immediately realise how
dangerous the Maratta was to become. Himself occupied in other parts of
the empire, Aurangzib left lieutenants to deal with Sivaji; and since he
never trusted a lieutenant, the forces at their disposal were
insufficient or were divided under commanders who were engaged as much
in thwarting each other as in endeavouring to crush the common foe.
Hence the vigorous Sivaji was enabled persistently to consolidate his
At the same time Aurangzib was departing from the traditions of his
house and acting as a bigoted champion of Islam; differentiating between
his Mussulman subjects and the Hindus so as completely to destroy that
national unity which it had been the aim of his predecessors to
establish. The result was a Rajput revolt and the permanent alienation
of the Rajputs from the Mogul Government.
In spite of these difficulties Aurangzib renewed operations against
Sivaji, to which the Maratta retorted by raiding expeditions in
Hindustan; whereby he hoped to impress on the Mogul the advisability of
leaving him alone; his object being to organise a great dominion in the
Deckan--a dominion largely based on his championship of Hinduism as
against Mahometanism. When Sivaji died, in 1680, his son Sambaji proved
a much less competent successor; but the Maratta power was already
established. Aurangzib directed his arms not so much against the
Marattas as to the overthrow of the great kingdoms of the Deckan. When
he turned against the Marattas, they met his operations by the adoption
of guerrilla tactics, to which the Maratta country was eminently
adapted. Most of Aurangzib's last years were occupied in these
campaigns. The now aged emperor's industry and determination were
indefatigable, but he was hopelessly hampered by his constitutional
inability to trust in the most loyal of his servants. He had deposed his
own father and lived in dread that his son Moazzim would treat him in
the same fashion. He died in 1707 in the eighty-ninth year of his life
and the fiftieth of his reign. In the eyes of Mahometans this fanatical
Mahometan was the greatest of his house. But his rule, in fact,
initiated the disintegration of the Mogul Empire. He had failed to
consolidate the Mogul supremacy in the Deckan, and he had revived the
old religious antagonism between Mahometans and Hindus.
Prince Moazzim succeeded under the title of Bahadur Shah. Dissensions
among the Marattas enabled him to leave the Deckan in comparative peace
to the charge of Daud Khan. He hastened also to make peace with the
Rajputs; but he was obliged to move against a new power which had arisen
in the northwest, that of the Sikhs. Primarily a sort of reformed sect
of the Hindus the Sikhs were converted by persecution into a sort of
religious and military brotherhood under their Guru or prophet, Govind.
They were too few to make head against the power of the empire, but they
could only be scattered, not destroyed; and in later days were to assume
a great prominence in Indian affairs. A detailed account of the
incompetent successors of Bahadur Shah would be superfluous. The
outstanding features of the period was the disintegration of the central
Government and the development in the south of two powers; that of the
Marattas and that of Asaf Jah, the successor of Daud Khan, and the first
of the Nizams of the Deckan. The supremacy among the Marattas passed to
the Peshwas, the Bramin Ministers of the successors of Sivaji, who
established a dynasty very much like that of the Mayors of the Palace in
the Frankish Kingdom of the Merovingians. But the final blow to the
power of the Moguls was struck by the tremendous invasion of Nadir Shah
the Persian, in 1739, when Delhi was sacked and its richest treasures
carried away; though the Persian departed still leaving the emperor
nominal Suzerian of India. Before twenty years were past the greatest of
all revolutions in India affairs had taken place; and Robert Clive had
made himself master of Bengal in the name of the British East India
* * * * *
Russia Under Peter the Great
Francois Marie Arouet, known to the world by the assumed name
of Voltaire (supposed to be an anagram of Arou[v]et l[e]
j[eun]), was born in Paris on November 21, 1694. Before he was
twenty-two, his caustic pen had got him into trouble. At
thirty-one, when he was already famous for his drama,
"OEdipe," as well as for audacious lampoons, he was obliged to
retreat to England, where he remained some three years.
Various publications during the years following his return
placed him among the foremost French writers of the day. From
1750 to 1753 he was with Frederick the Great in Prussia. When
the two quarrelled, Voltaire settled in Switzerland and in
1758 established himself at Ferney, about the time when he
published "Candide." His "Siecle de Louis Quatorze" (see
_ante_) had appeared some years earlier. In 1762 he began a
series of attacks on the Church and Christianity; and he
continued to reign, a sort of king of literature, till his
death, in Paris on May 30, 1778. An admirable criticism of him
is to be found in Morley's "Voltaire"; but the great biography
is that of Desnoiresterres. His "Russia under Peter the Great"
was written after Voltaire took up his residence at Ferney in
1758. This epitome is prepared from the French text.
_I.--All the Russias_
When, about the beginning of the present century, the Tsar Peter laid
the foundations of Petersburg, or, rather, of his empire, no one foresaw
his success. Anyone who then imagined that a Russian sovereign would be
able to send victorious fleets to the Dardanelles, to subjugate the
Crimea, to clear the Turks out of four great provinces, to dominate the
Black Sea, to set up the most brilliant court in Europe, and to make all
the arts flourish in the midst of war--anyone expressing such an idea
would have passed for a mere dreamer. Peter the Great built the Russian
Empire on a foundation firm and lasting.
That empire is the most extensive in our hemisphere. Poland, the Arctic
Ocean, Sweden, and China lie on its boundaries. It is so vast that when
it is mid-day at its western extremity it is nearly midnight at the
eastern. It is larger than all the rest of Europe, than the Roman
Empire, than the empire of Darius which Alexander conquered. But it will
take centuries, and many more such Tsars as Peter, to render that
territory populous, productive, and covered with cities, like the
northern lands of Europe.
The province nearest to our own realms is Livonia, long a heathen
region. Tsar Peter conquered it from the Swedes.
To the north is the province of Revel and Esthonia, also conquered from
the Swedes by Peter. The Gulf of Finland borders Esthonia; and here at
this junction of the Neva and Lake Ladoga is the city of Petersburg, the
youngest and the fairest of the cities of the empire, built by Peter in
spite of a mass of obstacles. Northward, again, is Archangel, which the
English discovered in 1533, with the result that the commerce fell
entirely into their hands and those of the Dutch. On the west of
Archangel is Russian Lapland. Then, ascending the Dwina from the coast,
we arrive at the territories of Moscow, long the centre of the empire. A
century ago Moscow was without the ordinary amenities of civilisation,
though it could display an Oriental profusion on state occasions.
West of Moscow is Smolensk, recovered from the Poles by Peter's father
Alexis. Between Petersburg and Smolensk is Novgorod; south of Smolensk
is Kiev or Little Russia; and Red Russia, or the Ukraine, watered by the
Dnieper, the Borysthenes of the Greeks--the country of the Cossacks.
Between the Dnieper and the Don northwards is Belgorod; then Nischgorod,
then Astrakan, the march of Asia and Europe with Kazan, recovered from
the Tartar empire of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane by Ivan Vasilovitch.
Siberia is peopled by Samoeides and Ostiaks, and its southern regions by
hordes of Tartars--like the Turks and Mongols, descendants of the
ancient Scythians. At the limit of Siberia is Kamschatka.
Throughout this vast but thinly populated empire the manners and customs
are Asiatic rather than European. As the Janissaries control the Turkish
government, so the Strelitz Guards used to dispose of the throne.
Christianity was not established till late in the tenth century, in the
Greek form, and liberated from the control of the Greek Patriarch, a
subject of the Grand Turk, in 1588.
Before Peter's day, Russia had neither the power, the cultivated
territories, the subjects, nor the revenues which she now enjoys. She
had no foothold in Livonia or Finland, little or no control over the
Cossacks or in Astrakan. The White, Black, Baltic, and Caspian seas were
of no use to a nation which had not even a name for a fleet. She had to
place herself on a level with the cultivated nations, though she was
without knowledge of the science of war by land or sea, and almost of
the rudiments of manufacture and agriculture, to say nothing of the fine
arts. Her sons were even forbidden to learn by travel; she seemed to
have condemned herself to eternal ignorance. Then Peter was born, and
Russia was created.
_II.--At the School of Europe_
It was owing to a series of dynastic revolutions and usurpations that
young Michael Romanoff, Peter's grandfather, was chosen Tsar at the age
of fifteen, in 1613. He was succeeded in 1645 by his son, Alexis
Michaelovitch. Alexis, in his wars with Poland, recovered from her
Smolensk, Kiev, and the Ukraine. He waged war with the Turk in aid of
Poland, introduced manufactures, and codified the laws, proving himself
a worthy sire for Peter the Great; but he died in 1677 too soon--he was
but forty-six--to complete the work he had begun. He was succeeded by
his eldest son, Feodor. There was a second, Ivan; and Peter, not five
years old, the child of his second marriage. Dying five years later,
Feodor named Peter his successor. An elder sister, Sophia, intrigued to
place the incapable Ivan on the throne instead, as her own puppet, by
the aid of the turbulent Strelitz Guard. After a series of murders, the
Strelitz proclaimed Ivan and Peter joint sovereigns, associating Sophia
with them as co-regent.
Sophia ruled with the aid of an able minister, Gallitzin. But she formed
a conspiracy against Peter, who, however, made his escape, rallied his
supporters, crushed the conspiracy, and secured his position as Autocrat
of the Russias, being then in his seventeenth year (1689).
Peter not only set himself to repair his neglected education by the
study of German and Dutch, and an instinctive horror of water by
resolutely plunging himself into it; he developed an immediate interest
in boats and shipping, and promptly set about organising a disciplined
force, destined for use against the Strelitz. The nucleus was his
personal regiment, called the Preobazinsky. He had already a corps of
foreigners, under the command of a Scot named Gordon. Another foreigner,
Le Fort, on whom he relied, raised and disciplined another corps, and
was made admiral of the infant fleet which he began to construct on the
Don for use against the Crim Tartars.
His first political measure was to effect a treaty with China, his next
an expedition for the subjugation of the Tartars of Azov. Gordon and Le
Fort, with their two corps and other forces, marched on Azov in 1695.
Peter accompanied, but did not command, the army. Unsuccessful at first,
his purpose was effected in 1696; Azov was conquered, and a fleet placed
on its sea. He celebrated a triumph in Roman fashion at Moscow; and
then, not content with despatching a number of young men to Italy and
elsewhere to collect knowledge, he started on his travels himself.
As one of the suite of an embassy he passed through Livonia and Germany
till he arrived at Amsterdam, where he worked as a hand at shipbuilding.
He also studied surgery at this time, and incidentally paid a visit to
William of Orange at The Hague. Early next year he visited England,
formally, lodging at Deptford, and continuing his training in naval
construction. Thence, and from Holland, he collected mathematicians,
engineers, and skilled workmen. Finally, he returned to Russia by way of
Vienna, to establish satisfactory relations with the emperor, his
natural and necessary ally against the Turk.
Peter had made his arrangements for Russia during his absence. Gordon
with his corps was at Moscow; the Strelitz were distributed in Astrakan
and Azov, where some successful operations were carried out.
Nevertheless, sedition raised its head. Insurrection was checked by
Gordon, but disaffection remained. Reappearing unexpectedly, he punished
the mutinous Strelitz mercilessly, and that body was entirely done away
with. New regiments were created on the German model; and he then set
about reorganising the finances, reforming the political position of the
Church, destroying the power of the higher clergy, and generally
introducing more enlightened customs from western Europe.
_III.--War with Sweden_
In 1699, the sultan was obliged to conclude a peace at Carlovitz, to the
advantage of all the powers with whom he had been at war. This set Peter
free on the side of Sweden. The youth of Charles XII. tempted Peter to
the recovery of the Baltic provinces. He set about the siege of Riga and
Narva. But Charles, in a series of marvellous operations, raised the
siege of Riga, and dispersed or captured the very much greater force
before Narva in November 1700.
The continued successes of Charles did not check Peter's determination
to maintain Augustus of Saxony and Poland against him. It was during the
subsequent operations against Charles's lieutenants in Livonia that
Catherine--afterwards to become Peter's empress--was taken prisoner.
The Tsar continued to press forward his social reforms at Moscow, and
his naval and military programmes. His fleet was growing on Lake Ladoga.
In its neighbourhood was the important Swedish fortress of Niantz, which
he captured in May 1703; after which he resolved to establish the town
which became Petersburg, where the Neva flows into the Gulf of Finland;
and designed the fortifications of Cronstadt, which were to render it
impregnable. The next step was to take Narva, where he had before been
foiled. The town fell on August 20, 1704; when Peter, by his personal
exertions, checked the violence of his soldiery.
Menzikoff, a man of humble origin, was now made governor of Ingria. In
June 1705, a formidable attempt of the Swedes to destroy the rapidly
rising Petersburg and Cronstadt was completely repulsed. A Swedish
victory, under Lewenhaupt, at Gemavers, in Courland, was neutralised by
the capture of Mittau. But Poland was now torn from Augustus, and
Charles's nominee, Stanislaus, was king. Denmark had been forced into
neutrality; exaggerated reports of the defeat at Gemavers had once more
stirred up the remnants of the old Strelitz. Nevertheless, Peter, before
the end of the year, was as secure as ever.
In 1706, Augustus was reduced to a formal abdication and recognition of
Stanislaus as King of Poland; and Patkul, a Livonian, Peter's ambassador
at Dresden, was subsequently delivered to Charles and put to death, to
the just wrath of Peter. In October, the Russians, under Menzikoff, won
their first pitched battle against the Swedes, a success which did not
In February 1708, Charles himself was once more in Lithuania, at the
head of an army. But his advance towards Moscow was disputed at
well-selected points, and even his victory at Hollosin was a proof that
the Russians had now learned how to fight.
When Charles reached the Dnieper, he unexpectedly marched to unite with
Mazeppa in the Ukraine, instead of continuing his advance on Moscow.
Menzikoff intercepted Lewenhaupt on the march with a great convoy to
join Charles, and that general was only able to cut his way through with
5,000 of his force. Mazeppa's own movement was crushed, and he only
joined Charles as a fugitive, not an ally. Charles's desperate
operations need not be followed. It suffices to say that in May 1709, he
had opened the siege of Pultawa, by the capture of which he counted that
the road to Moscow would lie open to him.
Here the decisive battle was fought on July 12. The dogged patience with
which Peter had turned every defeat into a lesson in the art of war met
with its reward. The Swedish army was shattered; Charles, prostrated by
a wound, was himself carried into safety across the Turkish frontier.
Peter's victory was absolutely decisive and overwhelming; and what it
meant was the civilising of a territory till then barbarian. Its effects
in other European countries, including the recovery of the Polish crown
by Augustus, are pointed out in the history of Charles XII. The year
1710 witnessed the capture of a series of Swedish provinces in the
Baltic provinces; and the Swedish forces in Pomerania were neutralised.
_IV.--The Expansion of Russia_
Now the Sultan Ahmed III. declared war on Peter; not for the sake of his
guest, Charles XII., but because of Peter's successes in Azov, his new
port of Taganrog, and his ships on the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. He
outraged international law by throwing the Russian envoy and his suite
into prison. Peter at once left his Swedish campaign to advance his
armies against Turkey.
Before leaving Moscow he announced his marriage with the Livonian
captive, Catherine, whom he had secretly made his wife in 1707. Apraksin
was sent to take the supreme command by land and sea. Cantemir, the
hospodar of Moldavia, promised support, for his own ends.
The Turkish vizier, Baltagi Mehemet, had already crossed the Danube, and
was marching up the Pruth with 100,000 men. Peter's general Sheremetof
was in danger of being completely hemmed in when Peter crossed the
Dnieper, Catherine stoutly refusing to leave the army. No help came from
Cantemir, and supplies were running short. The Tsar was too late to
prevent the passage of the Pruth by the Turks, who were now on his lines
of communication; and he found himself in a trap, without supplies, and
under the Turkish guns. When he attempted to withdraw, the Turkish force
attacked, but were brilliantly held at bay by the Russian rear-guard.
Nevertheless, the situation was desperate. It was Catherine who saved
it. At her instigation, terms--accompanied by the usual gifts--were
proposed to the vizier; and, for whatever reason, the vizier was
satisfied to conclude a peace then and there. He was probably
unconscious of the extremities to which Peter was reduced. Azov was to
be retroceded, Taganrog, and other forts, dismantled; the Tsar was not
to interfere in Poland, and Charles was to be allowed a free return to
his own dominions. The hopes of Charles were destroyed, and he was
reduced to intriguing at the Ottoman court.
Peter carried out some of the conditions of the Pruth treaty. The more
important of them he successfully evaded for some time. The treaty,
however, was confirmed six months later. But the Pruth affair was a more
serious check to the Tsar than even Narva had been, for it forced him to
renounce the dominion of the Black Sea. He turned his attention to
Pomerania, though the injuries his health had suffered drove him to take
the waters at Carlsbad.
His object was to drive the Swedes out of their German territories, and
confine them to Scandinavia; and to this end he sought alliance with
Hanover, Brandenburg, and Denmark. About this time he married his son
Alexis (born to him by his first wife) to the sister of the German
Emperor; and proceeded to ratify by formal solemnities his own espousal
Charles might have saved himself by coming out of Turkey, buying the
support of Brandenburg by recognising her claim on Stettin, and
accepting the sacrifice of his own claim to Poland, which Stanislaus was
ready to make for his sake. He would not. Russians, Saxons, and Danes
were now acting in concert against the Swedes in Pomerania. A Swedish
victory over the Danes and Gadebesck and the burning of Altona were of
no real avail. The victorious general not long after was forced to
surrender with his whole army. Stettin capitulated on condition of being
transferred to Prussia. Stralsund was being besieged by Russians and
Saxons; Hanover was in possession of Bremen and Verden; and Peter was
conquering Finland, when, at last, Charles suddenly reappeared at
Stralsund, in November 1715. But the brilliant naval operation by which
Peter captured the Isle of Aland had already secured Finland.
During the last three years a new figure had risen to prominence, the
ingenious, ambitious and intriguing Baron Gortz, who was now to become
the chief minister and guide of the Swedes. Under his influence,
Charles's hostility was now turned in other directions than against
Russia, and Peter was favourably inclined towards the opening of a new
chapter in his relations with Sweden, since he had made himself master
of Ingria, Finland, Livonia, Esthonia, and Carelia. The practical
suspension of hostilities enabled Peter to start on a second European
tour, while Charles, driven at last from Weimar and Stralsund--all that
was left him south of the Baltic--was planning the invasion of Norway.
During this tour the Tsar passed three months in Holland, his old school
in the art of naval construction; and while he was there intrigues were
on foot which threatened to revolutionise Europe. Gortz had conceived
the design of allying Russia and Sweden, restoring Stanislaus in Poland,
recovering Bremen and Verden from Hanover, and finally of rejecting the
Hanoverian Elector from his newly acquired sovereignty in Great Britain
by restoring the Stuarts. Spain, now controlled by Alberoni, was to be
the third power concerned in effecting this _bouleversement_, which
involved the overthrow of the regency of Orleans in France.
The discovery of this plot, through the interception of some letters
from Gortz, led to the arrest of Gortz in Holland, and of the Swedish
ambassador, Gyllemborg, in London. Peter declined to commit himself. His
reception when he went to Paris was eminently flattering; but an attempt
to utilise it for a reunion of the Greek and Latin Churches was a
complete failure. The Gortz plot had entirely collapsed before Peter
returned to Russia.
_V.--Peter the Great_
Peter had been married in his youth to Eudoxia Feodorovna Lapoukin. With
every national prejudice, she had stood persistently in the way of his
reforms. In 1696 he had found it necessary to divorce her, and seclude
her in a convent. Alexis, the son born of this marriage in 1690,
inherited his mother's character, and fell under the influence of the
most reactionary ecclesiastics. Politically and morally the young man
was a reactionary. He was embittered, too, by his father's second
marriage; and his own marriage, in 1711, was a hideous failure. His
wife, ill-treated, deserted, and despised, died of wretchedness in 1715.
She left a son.
Peter wrote to Alexis warning him to reform, since he would sooner
transfer the succession to one worthy of it than to his own son if
unworthy. Alexis replied by renouncing all claim to the succession.
Renunciation, Peter answered, was useless. Alexis must either reform, or
give the renunciation reality by becoming a monk. Alexis promised; but
when Peter left Russia, he betook himself to his brother-in-law's court
at Vienna, and then to Naples, which at the time belonged to Austria.
Peter ordered him to return; if he did, he should not be punished; if
not, the Tsar would assuredly find means.
Alexis obeyed, returned, threw himself at his father's feet. A
reconciliation was reported. But next day Peter arraigned his son before
a council, and struck him out of the succession in favour of Catherine's
infant son Peter. Alexis was then subjected to a series of incredible
interrogations as to what he would or would not have done under
circumstances which had never arisen.
At the strange trial, prolonged over many months, the 144 judges
unanimously pronounced sentence of death. Catherine herself is said by
Peter to have pleaded for the stepson, whose accession would certainly
have meant her own destruction. Nevertheless, the unhappy prince was
executed. That Peter slew him with his own hand, and that Catherine
poisoned him, are both fables. The real source of the tragedy is to be
found in the monks who perverted the mind of the prince.
This same year, 1718, witnessed the greatest benefits to Peter's
subjects--in general improvements, in the establishment and perfecting
of manufactures, in the construction of canals, and in the development
of commerce. An extensive commerce was established with China through
Siberia, and with Persia through Astrakan. The new city of Petersburg
replaced Archangel as the seat of maritime intercourse with Europe.
Peter was now the arbiter of Northern Europe. In May 1724, he had
Catherine crowned and anointed as empress. But he was suffering from a
mental disease, and of this he died, in Catherine's arms, in the
following January, without having definitely nominated a successor.
Whether or not it was his intention, it was upon his wife Catherine that
the throne devolved.
* * * * *
The Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella
William Hickling Prescott was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on
May 4, 1796. His first great historical work, "The History of
the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella," published in 1838, was
compiled under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty.
During most of the time of its composition the author was
deprived of sight, and was dependent on having all documents
read to him. Before it was completed he recovered the use of
his eyes, and was able to correct and verify. Nevertheless,
the changes required were few. The "Conquest of Mexico" and
"Conquest of Peru" (see _ante_) followed at intervals of five
and four years, and ten years later the uncompleted "Philip
II." He died in New York on January 28, 1859. The subjects of
this work, Ferdinand and Isabella, were the monarchs who
united the Spanish kingdoms into one nation, ended the Moorish
dominion in Europe, and annexed the New World to Spain, which
during the ensuing century threatened to dominate the states
_I.--Castile and Aragon_
After the great Saracen invasion, at the beginning of the eighth
century, Spain was broken up into a number of small but independent
states. At the close of the fifteenth century, these were blended into
one great nation. Before this, the numbers had been reduced to
four--Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and the Moorish kingdom of Granada.
The civil feuds of Castile in the fourteenth century were as fatal to
the nobility as were the English Wars of the Roses. At the close, the
power of the commons was at its zenith. In the long reign of John II.,
the king abandoned the government to the control of favourites. The
constable, Alvaro de Luna, sought to appropriate taxing and legislative
powers to the crown. Representation in the cortes was withdrawn from all
but eighteen privileged cities. Politically disastrous, the reign was
conspicuous for John's encouragement of literature, the general
intellectual movement, and the birth of Isabella, three years before
The immediate heir to the throne was Isabella's elder half-brother
Henry. Her mother was the Princess of Portugal, so that on both sides
she was descended from John of Gaunt, the father of our Lancastrian
line. Both her childhood and that of Ferdinand of Aragon, a year her
junior, were passed amidst tumultuous scenes of civil war. Henry,
good-natured, incompetent, and debauched, yielded himself to favourites,
hence he was more than once almost rejected from his throne. Old King
John II. of Aragon was similarly engaged in a long civil war, mainly
owing to his tyrannous treatment of his eldest son, Carlos.
But by 1468 Isabella and Ferdinand were respectively recognised as the
heirs of Castile and Aragon. In spite of her brother, Isabella made
contract of marriage with the heir of Aragon, the instrument securing
her own sovereign rights in Castile, though Henry thereupon nominated
another successor in her place. The marriage was effected under romantic
conditions in October 1469, one circumstance being that the bull of
dispensation permitting the union of cousins within the forbidden
degrees was a forgery, though the fact was unknown at the time to
Isabella. The reason of the forgery was the hostility of the then pope;
a dispensation was afterwards obtained from Sixtus IV. The death of
Henry, in December 1474, placed Isabella and Ferdinand on the throne of
_II.--Overthrow of the Moorish Dominion_
Isabella's claim to Castile rested on her recognition by the Cortes; the
rival claimant was a daughter of the deceased king, or at any rate, of
his wife, a Portuguese princess. Alfonso of Portugal supported his niece
Joanna's claim. In March 1476 Ferdinand won the decisive victory of
Toro; but the war of the succession was not definitely terminated by
treaty till 1479, some months after Ferdinand had succeeded John on the
throne of Aragon.
Isabella was already engaged in reorganising the administration of
Castile; first, in respect of justice, and codification of the law;
secondly, by depressing the nobles. A sort of military police, known as
the _hermandad_, was established. These reforms were carried out with
excellent effect; instead of birth, merit became the primary
qualification for honourable offices. Papal usurpations on
ecclesiastical rights were resisted, trade was regulated, and the
standard of coinage restored. The whole result was to strengthen the
crown in a consolidated constitution.
Restrained by her natural benevolence and magnanimity, urged forward by
her strong piety and the influence of the Dominican Torquemada, Isabella
assented to the introduction of the Inquisition--aimed primarily at the
Jews--with its corollary of the _Auto da fe_, of which the actual
meaning is "Act of Faith." Probably 10,220 persons were burnt at the
stake during the eighteen years of Torquemada's ministry.
Now, however, we come to the great war for the ejection of the Moorish
rule in southern Spain. The Saracen power of Granada was magnificent;
the population was industrious, sober, and had far exceeded the
Christian powers in culture, in research, and in scientific and
So soon as Ferdinand and Isabella had established their government in
their joint dominion, they turned to the project of destroying the
Saracen power and conquering its territory. But the attack came from
Muley Abul Hacen, the ruler of Granada, in 1481. Zahara, on the
frontier, was captured and its population carried into slavery. A
Spanish force replied by surprising Alhama. The Moors besieged it in
force; it was relieved, but the siege was renewed. In an unsuccessful
attack on Loja, Ferdinand displayed extreme coolness and courage. A
palace intrigue led to the expulsion from Granada of Abdul Hacen, in
favour of his son, Abu Abdallah, or Boabdil. The war continued with
numerous picturesque episodes. A rout of the Spaniards in the Axarquia
was followed by the capture of Boabdil in a rout of the Moors; he was
ransomed, accepting an ignominious treaty, while the war was maintained
against Abdul Hacen.
In the summer of 1487, Malaja fell, after a siege in which signal
heroism was displayed by the Moorish defenders. Since they had refused
the first offers, they now had to surrender at discretion. The entire
population, male and female, were made slaves. The capture of Baza, in
December, after a long and stubborn resistance, was followed by the
surrender of Almeria and the whole province appertaining to it.
It was not till 1491 that Granada itself was besieged; at the close of
the year it surrendered, on liberal terms. The treaty promised the Moors
liberty to exercise their own religion, customs, and laws, as subjects
of the Spanish monarchy. The Mohammedan power in Western Europe was
Already Christopher Columbus had been unsuccessfully seeking support for
his great enterprise. At last, in 1492, Isabella was won over. In
August, the expedition sailed--a few months after the cruel edict for
the expulsion of the Jews. In the spring of 1493 came news of his
discovery. In May the bull of Alexander VI. divided the New World and
all new lands between Spain and Portugal.
_III.--The Italian Wars_
In the foreign policy, the relations with Europe, which now becomes
prominent, Ferdinand is the moving figure, as Isabella had been within
Spain. In Spain, Portugal, France, and England, the monarchy had now
dominated the old feudalism. Consolidated states had emerged. Italy was
a congeries of principalities and republics. In 1494 Charles VIII. of
France crossed the Alps to assert his title to Naples, where a branch of
the royal family of Aragon ruled. His successor raised up against him
the League of Venice, of which Ferdinand was a member. Charles withdrew,
leaving a viceroy, in 1495. Ferdinand forthwith invaded Calabria.
The Spanish commander was Gonsalvo de Cordova; who, after a reverse in
his first conflict, for which he was not responsible, never lost a
battle. He had learnt his art in the Moorish war, and the French were
demoralised by his novel tactics. In a year he had earned the title of
"The Great Captain." Calabria submitted in the summer of 1496. The
French being expelled from Naples, a truce was signed early in 1498,
which ripened into a definitive treaty.
On the death of Cardinal Mendoza, for twenty years the monarchs' chief
minister, his place was taken by Ximenes, whose character presented a
rare combination of talent and virtue; who proceeded to energetic and
much-needed reforms in church discipline.
Not with the same approbation can we view the zeal with which he devoted
himself to the extermination of heresy. The conversion of the Moors to
Christianity under the regime of the virtuous Archbishop of Granada was
not rapid enough. Ximenes, in 1500, began with great success a
propaganda fortified by liberal presents. Next he made a holocaust of
Arabian MSS. The alarm and excitement caused by measures in clear
violation of treaty produced insurrection; which was calmed down, but
was followed by the virtually compulsory conversion of some fifty
This stirred to revolt the Moors of the Alpuxarras hill-country; crushed
with no little difficulty, but great severity, the insurrection broke
out anew on the west of Granada. This time the struggle was savage. When
it was ended the rebels were allowed the alternative of baptism or
Columbus had returned to the New World in 1493 with great powers; but
administrative skill was not his strong point, and the first batch of
colonists were without discipline. He returned and went out again, this
time with a number of convicts. Matters became worse. A very incompetent
special commissioner, Bobadilla, was sent with extraordinary powers to
set matters right, and he sent Columbus home in chains, to the
indignation of the king and queen. The management of affairs was then
entrusted to Ovando, Columbus following later. It must be observed that
the economic results of the great discovery were not immediately
remarkable; but the moral effect on Europe at large was incalculable.
On succeeding to the French throne, Louis XII. was prompt to revive the
French claims in Italy (1498); but he agreed with Ferdinand on a
partition of the kingdom of Naples, a remarkable project of robbery. The
Great Captain was despatched to Sicily, and was soon engaged in
conquering Calabria. It was not long, however, before France and Aragon
were quarrelling over the division of the spoil. In July 1502 war was
declared between them in Italy. The war was varied by set combats in the
lists between champions of the opposed nations.
In 1503 a treaty was negotiated by Ferdinand's son-in-law, the Archduke
Philip. Gonsalvo, however, not recognising instructions received from
Philip, gave battle to the French at Cerignola, and won a brilliant
victory. A few days earlier another victory had been won by a second
column; and Gonsalvo marched on Naples, which welcomed him. The two
French fortresses commanding it were reduced. Since Ferdinand refused to
ratify Philip's treaty, a French force entered Roussillon; but retired
on Ferdinand's approach. The practical effect of the invasion was a
demonstration of the new unity of the Spanish kingdom.
In Italy, Louis threw fresh energy into the war; and Gonsalvo found his
own forces greatly out-numbered. In the late autumn there was a sharp
but indecisive contest at the Garigliano Bridge. Gonsalvo held to his
position, despite the destitution of his troops, until he received
reinforcements. Then, on December 28, he suddenly and unexpectedly
crossed the river; the French retired rapidly, gallantly covered by the
rear-guard, hotly attacked by the Spanish advance guard. The retreat
being checked at a bridge, the Spanish rear was enabled to come up, and
the French were driven in route. Gaeta surrendered on January 4; no
further resistance was offered. South Italy was in the hands of
Throughout 1503 and 1504 Queen Isabella's strength was failing. In
November 1504 she died, leaving the succession to the Castilian crown to
her daughter Joanna, and naming Ferdinand regent. Magnanimity,
unselfishness, openness, piety had been her most marked moral traits;
justice, loyalty, practical good sense her political characteristics--a
most rare and virtuous lady.
Her death gives a new complexion to our history. Joanna was proclaimed
Queen of Castile; Ferdinand was governor of that kingdom in her name,
but his regency was not accepted without demur. To secure his brief
authority he made alliance with Louis, including a marriage contract
with Louis' niece, Germaine de Ford. Six weeks after the wedding, the
Archduke Philip landed in Spain. Ferdinand's action had ruined his
popularity, and he saw security only in a compact assuring Philip the
complete sovereignty--Joanna being insane.
Philip's rule was very unpopular and very brief. A sudden illness, in
which for once poison was not suspected of playing a part, carried him
off. Ferdinand, absent at the time in Italy, was restored to the regency
of Castile, which he held undisputed--except for futile claims of the
Emperor Maximilian--for the rest of his life.
The years of Ferdinand's sole rule displayed his worst characteristics,
which had been restrained during his noble consort's life. He was
involved in the utterly unscrupulous and immoral wars issuing out of the
League of Cambray for the partition of Venice. The suspicion and
ingratitude with which he treated Gonsalvo de Cordova drove the Great
Captain into a privacy not less honourable than his glorious public
career. Within a twelvemonth of Gonsalvo's death, Ferdinand followed him
to the grave in January 1516--lamented in Aragon, but not in Castile.
During the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the overgrown powers and
factious spirit of the nobility had been restrained. That genuine piety
of the queen which had won for the monarchs the title of "The Catholic"
had not prevented them from firmly resisting the encroachments of
ecclesiastical authority. The condition of the commons had been greatly
advanced, but political power had been concentrated in the crown, and
the crowns of Castile and Aragon were permanently united on the
accession of Charles--afterwards Charles V.--to both the thrones.
Under these great rulers we have beheld Spain emerging from chaos into a
new existence; unfolding, under the influence of institutions adapted to
her genius, energies of which she was before unconscious; enlarging her
resources from all the springs of domestic industry and commercial
enterprise; and insensibly losing the ferocious habits of the feudal age
in the requirements of an intellectual and moral culture. We have seen
her descend into the arena with the other nations of Europe, and in a
very few years achieve the most important acquisitions of territory both
in that quarter and in Africa; and finally crowning the whole by the
discovery and occupation of a boundless empire beyond the waters.
* * * * *
History of Charles XII
Voltaire's "History of Charles XII." was his earliest notable
essay in history, written during his sojourn in England in
1726-9, when he was acquiring the materials for his "Letters
on the English," eleven years after the death of the Swedish
monarch. The prince who "left a name at which the world grew
pale, to point a moral and adorn a tale," was killed by a
cannon-ball when thirty-six years old, after a career
extraordinarily brilliant, extraordinarily disastrous, and in
result extraordinarily ineffective. A tremendous contrast to
the career, equally unique, of his great antagonist, Peter the
Great of Russia, whose history Voltaire wrote thirty years
later (see _ante_). Naturally the two works in a marked degree
illustrate each other. In both cases Voltaire claims to have
had first-hand information from the principal actors in the
_I.--The Meteor Blazes_
The house of Vasa was established on the throne of Sweden in the first
half of the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century, Christina,
daughter of the great Gustavus Adolphus, abdicated in favour of her
cousin, who ascended the throne as Charles X. He and his vigorous son,
Charles XI., established a powerful absolute monarchy. To the latter was
born, on June 27, 1682, the infant who became Charles XII.--perhaps the
most extraordinary man who ever lived, who in his own person united all
the great qualities of his ancestors, whose one defect and one
misfortune was that he possessed all those qualities in excess.
In childhood he developed exceptional physical powers, and remarkable
linguistic facility. He succeeded to the throne at the age of fifteen,
in 1697. Within the year he declared himself of age, and asserted his
position as king; and the neighbouring powers at once resolved to take
advantage of the Swedish monarch's youth--the kings Christian of
Denmark, Augustus of Saxony and Poland, and the very remarkable Tsar
Peter the Great of Russia. Among them, the three proposed to appropriate
all the then Swedish territories on the Russian and Polish side of the
Gulf of Finland and the Baltic.
Danes and Saxons, joined by the forces of other German principalities,
were already attacking Holstein, whose duke was Charles's cousin; the
Saxons, too, were pouring into Livonia. On May 8, 1700, Charles sailed
from Stockholm with 8,000 men to the succour of Holstein, which he
effected with complete and immediate success by swooping on Copenhagen.
On August 6, Denmark concluded a treaty, withdrawing her claims in
Holstein and paying the duke an indemnity. Three months later, the Tsar,
who was besieging Narva, in Ingria, with 80,000 Muscovites, learnt that
Charles had landed, and was advancing with 20,000 Swedes. Another 30,000
were being hurried up by the Tsar when Charles, with only 8,000 men,
came in contact with 25,000 Russians at Revel. In two days he had swept
them before him, and with his 8,000 men fell upon the Russian force of
ten times that number in its entrenchments at Narva. Prodigies of valour
were performed, the Muscovites were totally routed. Peter, with 40,000
reinforcements, had no inclination to renew battle, but he very promptly
made up his mind that his armies must be taught how to fight. They
should learn from the victorious Swedes how to conquer the Swedes.
With the spring, Charles fell upon the Saxon forces in Livonia, before a
fresh league between Augustus and Peter had had time to develop
advantageously. After one decisive victory, the Duchy of Courland made
submission, and he marched into Lithuania. In Poland, neither the war
nor the rule of Augustus was popular, and in the divided state of the
country Charles advanced triumphantly. A Polish diet was summoned, and
Charles awaited events; he was at war, he said, not with Poland, but
with Augustus. He had, in fact, resolved to dethrone the King of Poland
by the instrumentality of the Poles themselves--a process made the
easier by the normal antagonism between the diet and the king, an
elective, not a hereditary ruler.
Augustus endeavoured, quite fruitlessly, to negotiate with Charles on
his own account, while the diet was much more zealous to curtail his
powers than to resist the Swedish monarch, and was determined that, at
any price, the Saxon troops should leave Poland. Intrigues were going on
on all sides. Presently Charles set his forces in motion. When Augustus
learned that there was to be no peace till Poland had a new king, he
resolved to fight. Charles's star did not desert him. He won a complete
victory. Pressing in pursuit of Augustus, he captured Cracow, but his
advance was delayed for some weeks by a broken leg; and in the interval
there was a considerable rally to the support of Augustus. But the
moment Charles could again move, he routed the enemy at Pultusk. The
terror of his invincibility was universal. Success followed upon
success. The anti-Saxon party in the diet succeeded in declaring the
throne vacant. Charles might certainly have claimed the crown for
himself, but chose instead to maintain the title of the Sobieski
princes. The kidnapping of James Sobieski, however, caused Charles to
insist on the election of Stanislaus Lekzinsky.
_II.--From Triumph to Disaster_
Charles left Warsaw to complete the subjugation of Poland, leaving the
new king in the capital. Stanislaus and his court were put to sudden
flight by the appearance of Augustus with 20,000 men. Warsaw fell at
once; but when Charles turned on the Saxon army, only the wonderful
skill of Schulembourg saved it from destruction. Augustus withdrew to
Saxony, and began repairing the fortifications of Dresden.
By this time, wherever the Swedes appeared, they were confident of
victory if they were but twenty to a hundred. Charles had made nothing
for himself out of his victories, but all his enemies were
scattered--except Peter, who had been sedulously training his people in
the military arts. On August 21, 1704, Peter captured Narva. Now he made
a new alliance with Augustus. Seventy thousand Russians were soon
ravaging Polish territory. Within two months, Charles and Stanislaus had
cut them up in detail, or driven them over the border. Schulembourg
crossed the Oder, but his battalions were shattered at Frawenstad by
Reuschild. On September 1, 1706, Charles himself was invading Saxony.
The invading troops were held under an iron discipline; no violence was
permitted. In effect, Augustus had lost both his kingdom and his
electorate. His prayers for peace were met by the demand for formal and
permanent resignation of the Polish crown, repudiation of the treaties
with Russia, restoration of the Sobieskies, and the surrender of Patkul,
a Livonian "rebel" who was now Tsar Peter's plenipotentiary at Dresden.
Augustus accepted, at Altranstad, the terms offered by Charles. Patkul
was broken on the wheel; Peter determined on vengeance; again the
Russians overran Lithuania, but retired before Stanislaus.
In September 1707, Charles left Saxony at the head of 43,000 men,
enriched with the spoils of Poland and Saxony. Another 20,000 met him in
Poland; 15,000 more were ready in Finland. He had no doubts of his power
to dethrone the Tsar. In January 1708 he was on the march for Grodow.
Peter retreated before him, and in June was entrenched beyond the
Beresina. Driven thence by a flank movement, the Russians engaged
Charles at Hollosin, where he gained one of his most brilliant
victories. Retreat and pursuit continued towards Moscow.
Charles now pushed on towards the Ukraine, where he was secretly in
treaty with the governor, Mazeppa. But when he reached the Ukraine,
Mazeppa joined him not as an ally, but as a fugitive. Meanwhile,
Lewenhaupt, marching to effect a junction with him, was intercepted by
Peter with thrice his force, and finally cut his way through to Charles
with only 5,000 men.
So severe was the winter that both Peter and Charles, contrary to their
custom, agreed to a suspension of arms. Isolated as he was, towards the
end of May, Charles laid siege to Pultawa, the capture of which would
have opened the way to Moscow. Thither Peter marched against him, while
Charles himself was unable to move owing to a serious wound in the foot,
endured with heroic fortitude. On July 8, the decisive battle was
fought. The victory lay with the Russians, and Charles was forced to fly
for his life. His best officers were prisoners. A column under
Lewenhaupt succeeded in joining the king, now prostrated by his wound
and by fever. At the Dnieper, Charles was carried over in a boat; the
force, overtaken by the Russians, was compelled to capitulate. Peter
treated the captured Swedish generals with distinction. Charles himself
escaped to Bender, in Turkey.
Virtually a captive in the Turkish dominions, Charles conceived the
project of persuading the sultan to attack Russia. At the outset, the
grand vizier, Chourlouly Ali, favoured his ideas; but Peter, by lavish
and judicious bribery, soon won him over. The grand vizier, however, was
overthrown by a palace intrigue, and was replaced by an incorruptible
successor, Numa Chourgourly, who was equally determined to treat the
fugitive king in becoming fashion and to decline to make war on the
Meanwhile, Charles's enemies were taking advantage of his enforced
absence. Peter again overran Livonia. Augustus repudiated the treaty of
Altranstad, and recovered the Polish crown. The King of Denmark
repudiated the treaty of Travendal, and invaded Sweden, but his troops
were totally routed by the raw levies of the Swedish militia at
The Vizier Chourgourly, being too honourable for his post, was displaced
by Baltaji Mehemet, who took up the schemes of Charles. War was declared
against Russia. The Prince of Moldavia, Cantemir, supported Peter. The
Turks seemed doomed to destruction; but first the advancing Tsar found
himself deserted by the Moldavians, and allowed himself to be hemmed in
by greatly superior forces on the Pruth. With Peter himself and his army
entirely at his mercy, Baltaji Mehemet--to the furious indignation of
Charles--was content to extort a treaty advantageous to Turkey but
useless to the Swede; and Peter was allowed to retire with the honours
_III.--The Meteor Quenched_
The great desire of the Porte was, in fact, to get rid of its
inconvenient guest; to dispatch him to his own dominions in safety with
an escort to defend him, but no army for aggression. Charles conceived
that the sultan was pledged to give him an army. The downfall of the
vizier--owing to the sultan's wrath on learning that Peter was not
carrying out the pledges of the Pruth treaty--did not help matters; for
the favourite, Ali Cournourgi, now intended Russia to aid his own
ambitions, and the favourite controlled the new vizier. Within six
months of Pruth, war had been declared and a fresh peace again patched
up, Peter promising to withdraw all his forces from Poland, and the
Turks to eject Charles.
But Charles was determined not to budge. He demanded as a preliminary
half a million to pay his debts. A larger sum was provided; still he
would not move. The sultan felt that he had now discharged all that the
laws of hospitality could possibly demand. Threats only made the king
more obstinate. His supplies were cut off and his guards withdrawn,
except his own 300 Swedes; whereupon Charles fortified the house he had
built himself. All efforts to bring him to reason were of no avail. A
force of Janissaries was despatched to cut the Swedes to pieces; but the
men listened to Baron Grothusen's appeal for a delay of three days, and
flatly refused to attack. But when they sent Charles a deputation of
veterans, he refused to see them, and sent them an insulting message.
They returned to their quarters, now resolved to obey the pasha.
The 300 Swedes could do nothing but surrender; yet Charles, with twenty
companions, held his house, defended it with a valour and temporary
success which were almost miraculous, and were only overwhelmed by
numbers when they sallied forth and charged the Turkish army with swords
and pistols. Once captured, the king displayed a calm as imperturbable
as his rage before had been tempestuous.
Charles was now conveyed to the neighbourhood of Adrianople, where he
was joined by another royal prisoner--Stanislaus, who had attempted to
enter Turkey in disguise in order to see him, but had been discovered
and arrested. Charles was allowed to remain at Demotica. Here he abode
for ten months, feigning illness; both he and his little court being
obliged to live frugally and practically without attendants, the
chancellor, Mullern, being the cook of the establishment.
The hopes which Charles obstinately clung to, of Turkish support, were
finally destroyed when Cournourgi at last became grand vizier. His
sister Ulrica warned him that the council of regency at Stockholm would
make peace with Russia and Denmark. At length he demanded to be allowed
to depart. In October 1714 he set out in disguise for the frontier, and
having reached Stralsund on November 21, not having rested in a bed for
sixteen days, on the same day he was already issuing from Stralsund
instructions for the vigorous prosecution of the war in every direction.
But meanwhile the northern powers, without exception, had been making
partition of all the cis-Baltic territories of the Swedish crown. Tsar
Peter, master of the Baltic, held that ascendancy which had once
belonged to Charles. But the hopes of Sweden revived with the knowledge
that the king had reappeared at Stralsund.
Even Charles could not make head against the hosts of his foes.
Misfortune pursued him now, as successes had once crowded upon him.
Before long he was himself practically cooped up in Stralsund, while the
enemies' ships controlled the Baltic. In October, Stralsund was
resolutely besieged. His attempt to hold the commanding island of Rugen
failed after a desperate battle. The besiegers forced their way into
Stralsund itself. Exactly two months after the trenches had been opened
against Stralsund, Charles slipped out to sea--the ice in the harbour
had first to be broken up--ran the gauntlet of the enemy's forts and
fleets, and reached the Swedish coast at Carlscrona.
Charles now subjected his people to a merciless taxation in order to
raise troops and a navy. Suddenly, at the moment when all the powers at
once seemed on the point of descending on Sweden, Charles flung himself
upon Norway, at that time subject to Denmark. This was in accordance
with a vast design proposed by his minister, Gortz, in which Charles was
to be leagued with his old enemy Peter, and with Spain, primarily
against England, Hanover, and Augustus of Poland and Saxony. Gortz's
designs became known to the regent Orleans; he was arrested in Holland,
but promptly released.
Gortz, released, continued to work out his intriguing policy with
increased determination. Affairs seemed to be progressing favourably.
Charles, who had been obliged to fall back from Norway, again invaded
that country, and laid siege to Fredericshall. Here he was inspecting a
part of the siege works, when his career was brought to a sudden close
by a cannon shot. So finished, at thirty-six, the one king who never
displayed a single weakness, but in whom the heroic virtues were so
exaggerated as to be no less dangerous than the vices with which they
* * * * *
HENRY MILMAN, D.D.
History of Latin Christianity
The "History of Latin Christianity, to the Pontificate of
Nicholas V.," which is here presented, was published in
1854-56. It covers the religious or ecclesiastical history of
Western Europe from the fall of paganism to the pontificate of
Nicholas V., a period of eleven centuries, corresponding
practically with what are commonly called the Middle Ages, and
is written from the point of view of a large-minded Anglican
who is not seeking to maintain any thesis, but simply to set
forth a veracious account of an important phase of history.
(Milman, see vol. xi, p. 68.)
_I.--Development of the Church of Rome_
For ten centuries after the extinction of paganism, Latin Christianity
was the religion of Western Europe. It became gradually a monarchy, with
all the power of a concentrated dominion. The clergy formed a second
universal magistracy, exercising always equal, asserting, and for a long
time possessing, superior power to the civil government. Western
monasticism rent from the world the most powerful minds, and having
trained them by its stern discipline, sent them back to rule the world.
Its characteristic was adherence to legal form; strong assertion of, and
severe subordination to, authority. It maintained its dominion unshaken
till, at the Reformation, Teutonic Christianity asserted its
The Church of Rome was at first, so to speak, a Greek religious colony;
its language, organisation, scriptures, liturgy, were Greek. It was from
Africa, Tertullian, and Cyprian that Latin Christianity arose. As the
Church of the capital--before Constantinople--the Roman Church
necessarily acquired predominance; but no pope appears among the
distinguished "Fathers" of the Church until Leo.
The division between Greek and Latin Christianity developed with the
division between the Eastern and the Western Empire; Rome gained an
increased authority by her resolute support of Athanasius in the Arian
The first period closes with Pope Damasus and his two successors. The
Christian bishop has become important enough for his election to count
in profane history. Paganism is writhing in death pangs; Christianity is
growing haughty and wanton in its triumph.
Innocent I., at the opening of the fifth century, seems the first pope
who grasped the conception of Rome's universal ecclesiastical dominion.
The capture of Rome by Alaric ended the city's claims to temporal
supremacy; it confirmed the spiritual ascendancy of her bishop
throughout the West.
To this period, the time of Augustine and the Pelagian controversy,
belongs the establishment in Western Christendom of the doctrine of
predestination, and that of the inherent evil of matter which is at the
root of asceticism and monasticism. It was a few years later that the
Nestorian controversy had the effect of giving fixity to that conception
of the "Mother of God" which is held by Roman Catholics.
The pontificate of Leo is an epoch in the history of Christianity. He
had utter faith in himself and in his office, and asserted his authority
uncompromisingly. The Metropolitan of Constantinople was becoming a
helpless instrument in the hands of the Byzantine emperor; the Bishop of
Rome was becoming an independent potentate. He took an authoritative and
decisive part in the controversy formally ended at the Council of
Chalcedon; it was he who stayed the advance of Attila. Leo and his
predecessor, Innocent, laid the foundations of the spiritual monarchy of
In the latter half of the fifth century, the disintegration of the
Western Empire by the hosts of Teutonic invaders was being completed.
These races assimilated certain aspects of Christian morals and assumed
Christianity without assimilating the intellectual subtleties of the
Eastern Church, and for the most part in consequence adopted the Arian
form. But when the Frankish horde descended, Clovis accepted the
orthodox theology, thereby in effect giving it permanence and
obliterating Arianism in the West. Theodoric, the Gothic king of Italy,
in nominal subjection to the emperor, was the last effective upholder of
toleration for his own Arian creed. Almost simultaneous with his death
was the accession of Justinian to the empire. The re-establishment of
effective imperial sway in Italy reduced the papacy to a subordinate
position. The recovery was the work of Gregory I., the Great; but papal
opposition to Gothic or Lombard dominion in Italy destroyed the prospect
of political unification for the peninsula.
Western monasticism had been greatly extended and organised by Benedict
of Nursia and his rule--comprised in silence, humility, and obedience.
Monasticism became possessed of the papal chair in the person of Gregory
the Great. Of noble descent and of great wealth, which he devoted to
religious uses as soon as he became master of it, he had also the
characteristics which were held to denote the highest holiness. In
austerity, devotion, and imaginative superstition, he, whose known
virtue and capacity caused him to be forced into the papal chair,
remained a monk to the end of his days.
But he became at once an exceedingly vigorous man of affairs. He
reorganised the Roman liturgy; he converted the Lombards and Saxons. And
he proved himself virtual sovereign of Rome. His administration was
admirable. He exercised his disciplinary authority without fear or
favour. And his rule marks the epoch at which all that we regard as
specially characteristic of mediaeval Christianity--its ethics, its
asceticism, its sacerdotalism, and its superstitions--had reached its
Gregory the Great had not long passed away when there arose in the East
that new religion which was to shake the world, and to bring East and
West once more into a prolonged conflict. Mohammedanism, born in Arabia,
hurled itself first against Asia, then swept North Africa. By the end of
the seventh century it was threatening the Byzantine Empire on one side
of Europe, and the Gothic dominion in Spain on the other. On the other
hand, in the same period, Latin Christianity had decisively taken
possession of England, driving back that Celtic or Irish Christianity
which had been beforehand with it in making entry to the North.
Similarly, it was the Irish missionaries who began the conversion of the
outer Teutonic barbarians; but the work was carried out by the Saxon
Winfrid (Boniface) of the Latin Church.
The popes, however, during this century between Gregory I. and Gregory
II. again sank into a position of subordination to the imperial power.
Under the second Gregory, the papacy reasserted itself in resistance to
the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, the "Iconoclast," the "Image-breaker," who
strove to impose on Christendom his own zeal against images. To Leo,
images meant image-worship. To his opponents, images were useful
symbols. Rome defied the emperor's attempt to claim spiritual
dictatorship. East and West were rent in twain at the moment when Islam
was assaulting both West and East. Leo rolled back the advancing torrent
before Constantinople, as Charles Martel rolled it back almost
simultaneously in the great battle of Tours; but the Empire and the
West, Byzantium and Rome, never presented a united front to the Moslem.
The Iconoclastic controversy threw Italy against its will into the hands
of the image-worshipping Lombards; and hate of Lombard ascendancy turned
the eyes of Gregory's successors to the Franks, to Charles Martel; to
Pepin, who obtained from Pope Stephen sanction for his seizure of the
Frankish crown, and in return repressed the Lombards; and finally to
Charles the Great, otherwise Charlemagne, who on the last Christmas Day
of the eighth century was crowned (Western) emperor and successor of the
_II.--The Western Empire and Theocracy_
Charlemagne, the first emperor of the restored or Holy Roman Empire, by
his conquests brought into a single dominion practically all Western
Europe from the Elbe and the Danube to the Ebro. He stood the champion
and the head of Western Christendom, palpably the master, and not even
in theory the subordinate, of the Pontiff from whom he received the
imperial crown. But he established ecclesiastics as a territorial
nobility, counteracting the feudal nobility; and when the mighty emperor
was gone, and the unity of what was nominally one empire passed away,
this ecclesiastical nobility became an instrument for the elevation of
the spiritual above the temporal head of Christendom. The change was
already taking place under his son Louis the Pious, whose character
The disintegration of the empire was followed by a hideous degradation
of the papacy. But the Saxon line of emperors, the Ottos, sprung from
Henry the Fowler, once more revived the empire; the third of them
established a worthy pope in Silvester II. But both emperor and pope
died just after the eleventh century opened. Elections of popes and
anti-popes continued to be accompanied by the gravest scandals, until
the Emperor Henry III. (Franconian dynasty) set a succession of Germans
on the papal throne.
The high character of the pontificate was revived in the persons of Leo
IX. and Victor II. (Gebhard of Eichstadt); many abuses were put down or
at least checked with a firm hand. But Henry's death weakened the
empire, and Stephen IX. added to the rigid enforcement of orthodoxy more
peremptory claims for the supremacy of the Holy See. His successor,
Nicholas II., strengthened the position as against the empire by
securing the support of the fleshly arm--the Normans. His election was
an assertion of the right of the cardinals to make their own choice.
Alexander II. was chosen in disregard of the Germans and the empire, and
the Germans chose an anti-pope. At the back of the Italian papal party
was the great Hildebrand. In 1073 Hildebrand himself ascended the papal
throne as Gregory VII. With Hildebrand, the great struggle for supremacy
between the empire and the papacy was decisively opened.
Gregory's aim was to establish a theocracy through an organised dominant
priesthood separated from the world, but no less powerful than the
secular forces; with the pope, God's mouthpiece, and vice-regent, at its
head. The temporal powers were to be instruments in his hand, subject to
his supreme authority. Clerical celibacy acquired a political value; the
clergy would concentrate on the glory of the Church those ambitions
which made laymen seek to aggrandise their families.
The collision between Rome and the emperor came quickly. The victory at
the outset fell to the pope, and Henry IV. was compelled to humble
himself and entreat pardon as a penitent at Canossa. Superficially, the
tables were turned later; when Gregory died, Henry was ostensibly
But Gregory's successor, Urban, as resolute and more subtle, retrieved
what had only been a check. The Crusades, essentially of ecclesiastical
inspiration, were given their great impulse by him; they were a movement
of Christendom against the Paynim, of the Church against Islam; they
centred in the pope, not the emperor, and they made the pope, not the
emperor, conspicuously the head of Christendom.
The twelfth century was the age of the Crusades, of Anselm and Abelard,
of Bernard of Clairvaux, and Arnold of Brescia. It saw the settlement of
the question of investitures, and in England the struggle between Henry
II. and Becket, in which the murder of the archbishop gave him the
victory. It saw a new enthusiasm of monasticism, not originated by, but
centring in, the person of Bernard, a more conspicuous and a more
authoritative figure than any pope of the time. To him was due the
suppression of the intellectual movement from within against the
authority of the Church, connected with Abelard's name.
Arnold of Brescia's movement was orthodox, but, would have transformed
the Church from a monarchial into a republican organisation, and
demanded that the clergy should devote themselves to apostolical and
pastoral functions with corresponding habits of life. He was a
forerunner of the school of reformers which culminated in Zwingli.
In the middle of the century the one English pope, Hadrian IV., was a
courageous and capable occupant of the papal throne, and upheld its
dignity against Frederick Barbarossa; though he could not maintain the
claim that the empire was held as a fief of the papacy. But the strife
between the spiritual and temporal powers issued on his death in a
double election, and an imperial anti-pope divided the allegiance of
Christendom with Alexander III. It was not till after Frederick had been
well beaten by the Lombard League at Legnano that emperor and pope were
reconciled, and the reconciliation was the pope's victory.
_III.--Triumph and Decline of the Papacy_
Innocent III., mightiest of all popes, was elected in 1198. He made the
papacy what it remained for a hundred years, the greatest power in
Christendom. The future Emperor Frederick II. was a child entrusted to
Innocent's guardianship. The pope began by making himself virtually
sovereign of Italy and Sicily, overthrowing the German baronage therein.
A contest for the imperial throne enabled the pope to assume the right
of arbitration. Germany repudiated his right. Innocent was saved from
the menace of defeat by the assassination of the opposition emperor. But
the successful Otho proved at once a danger.
Germany called young Frederick to the throne, and now Innocent sided
with Germany; but he did not live to see the death of Otho and the
establishment of the Hohenstaufen. More decisive was his intervention
elsewhere. Both France and England were laid under interdicts on account
of the misdoings of Philip Augustus and John; both kings were forced to
submission. John received back his kingdom as a papal fief. But Langton,
whom Innocent had made archbishop, guided the barons in their continued
resistance to the king, whose submission made him Rome's most cherished
son. England and the English clergy held to their independence. Pedro of
Aragon voluntarily received his crown from the pope. In every one of the
lesser kingdoms of Europe, Innocent asserted his authority.
Innocent's efforts for a fresh crusade begot not the overthrow of the
Saracen, but the substitution of a Latin kingdom under the Roman
obedience for the Greek empire of Byzantium. In effect it gave Venice
her Mediterranean supremacy. The great pope was not more zealous against
Islam than against the heterogeneous sects which were revolting against
sacerdotalism; whereof the horrors of the crusade against the Albigenses
are the painful witness.
Not the least momentous event in the rule of this mightiest of the popes
was his authorisation of the two orders of mendicant friars, the
disciples of St. Dominic, and of St. Francis of Assisi, with their vows
of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and their principle of human
brotherhood. And in both cases Innocent's consent was given with
It may be said that Frederick II. was at war with the papacy until his
death in the reign of Innocent III.'s fourth successor, Innocent IV.
With Honorius the emperor's relations were at first friendly; both were
honestly anxious to take a crusade in hand. The two were brought no
further than the verge of a serious breach about Frederick's exercise of
authority over rebellious ecclesiastics. But Gregory IX., though an
octogenarian, was recognised as of transcendent ability and indomitable
resolution; and his will clashed with that of the young emperor, a
brilliant prince, born some centuries too early.
Frederick was pledged to a crusade; Gregory demanded that the expedition
should sail. Frederick was quite warranted in saying that it was not
ready; and through no fault of his. Gregory excommunicated him, and
demanded his submission before the sentence should be removed. Frederick
did not submit, but when he sailed it was without the papal support.
Frederick endeavoured to proceed by treaty; it was a shock to Moslems
and to Christendom alike. The horrified Gregory summoned every
disaffected feudatory of the empire in effect to disown the emperor. But
Frederick's arms seemed more likely to prosper. Christendom turned
against the pope in the quarrel. Christendom would not go crusading
against an emperor who had restored the kingdom of Jerusalem. The two
came to terms. Gregory turned his attention to becoming the Justinian of
But a rebellion against Frederick took shape practically as a renewal of
the papal-imperial contest. Gregory prepared a league; then once more he
launched his ban. Europe was amazed by a sort of war of proclamations.
Nothing perhaps served the pope better now than the agency of the
mendicant orders. The military triumph of Frederick, however, seemed
already assured when Gregory died. Two years later, Innocent IV. was
pope. After hollow overtures, Innocent fled to Lyons, and there launched
invectives against Frederick and appeals to Christendom.
Frederick, by attaching, not the papacy but the clergy, alienated much
support. Misfortunes gathered around him. His death ensured Innocent's
supremacy. Soon the only legitimate heir of the Hohenstaufen was an
infant, Conradin; and Conradin's future depended on his able but
illegitimate uncle, Manfred. But Innocent did not live long to enjoy his
victory; his arrogance and rapacity brought no honour to the papacy.
English Grostete of Lincoln, on whom fell Stephen Langton's mantle, is
the noblest ecclesiastical figure of the time.
For some years the imperial throne remained vacant; the matter of first
importance to the pontiffs--Alexander, Urban, Clement--was that
Conradin, as he grew to manhood, should not be elected. Manfred became
king of South Italy, with Sicily; but with no legal title. Urban, a
Frenchman, agreed with Charles of Anjou, brother of St. Louis, that he
should have the crown, on terms. Manfred fell in battle against him at
Beneventum, and with him all real chance of a Hohenstaufen recovery. Not
three years after, young Conradin, in a desperate venture after his
legitimate rights, was captured and put to death by Charles of Anjou.
A temporary pacification of Western Christendom was the work of Gregory
X.; his aim was a great crusade. At last an emperor was elected, Rudolph
of Hapsburg. But Gregory died. Popes followed each other and died in
swift succession. Presently, on the abdication of the hermit Celestine,
Boniface VIII. was chosen pope. His bull, "Clericis laicos," forbidding
taxation of the clergy by the temporal authority, brought him into
direct hostility with Philip the Fair of France, and though the quarrel
was temporarily adjusted, the strife soon broke out again. The bulls,
"Unam Sanctam" and "Ausculta fili," were answered by a formal
arraignment of Boniface in the States-General of France, followed by the
seizure of the pope's own person by Philip's Italian partisans.
_IV.--Captivity, Seclusion, and Revival_
The successor of Boniface was Benedict IX. He acted with dignity and
restraint, but he lived only two years. After long delays, the cardinals
elected the Archbishop of Bordeaux, a subject of the King of England.
But before he became Clement V. he had made his pact with the King of
France. He was crowned, not in Italy, but at Lyons, and took up his
residence at Avignon, a papal fief in Provence, on the French borders.
For seventy years the popes at Avignon were practically the servants of
the King of France.
At the very outset, Clement was compelled to lend his countenance to the
suppression of the Knights Templars by the temporal power. Philip forced
the pope and the Consistory to listen to an appalling and incredible
arraignment of the dead Boniface; then he was rewarded for abandoning
the persecution of his enemy's memory by abject adulation: the pope had
been spared from publicly condemning his predecessor.
John XXII. was not, in the same sense, a tool of the last monarchs of
the old House of Capet, of which, during his rule, a younger branch
succeeded in the person of Philip of Valois. John was at constant feud
with the Emperor Louis of Bavaria, and also, within the ecclesiastical
pale, with the Franciscan Order. Louis of Bavaria died during the
pontificate of Clement VI., and Charles of Bohemia, already emperor in
the eyes of the pope, was accepted by Germany. He virtually abdicated
the imperial claim to rule in Italy; but by his "Golden Bull" he
terminated the old source of quarrel, the question of the authority by
which emperors were elected. The "Babylonish captivity" ended when
Gregory XI. left Avignon to die in Italy; it was to be replaced by the
For thirty-eight years rival popes, French and Italian, claimed the
supremacy of the Church. The schism was ended by the Council of
Constance; Latin Christianity may be said to have reached its
culminating point under Nicholas V., during whose pontificate the Turks
* * * * *
LEOPOLD VON RANKE
History of the Popes
Leopold von Ranke was born at Wiehe, on December 21, 1795, and
died on May 23, 1886. He became Professor of History at Berlin
at the age of twenty-nine; and his life was passed in
researches, the fruits of which he gave to the world in an
invaluable series of historical works. The earlier of these
were concerned mainly with the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries--in English history generally called the Tudor and
Stuart periods--based on examinations of the archives of
Vienna and Rome, Venice and Florence, as well as of Berlin. In
later years, when he had passed seventy, he travelled more
freely outside of his special period. The "History of the
Popes in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries" here
presented was published in 1834-7. The English translation by
Sarah Austin (1845) was the subject of review in one of
Macaulay's famous essays. It is mainly concerned with the
period, not of the Reformation itself, but of the century and
a quarter following--roughly from 1535 to 1760, the period
during which the religious antagonisms born of the Reformation
were primary factors in all European complications.
_I.--The Papacy at the Reformation_
The papacy was intimately allied with the Roman Empire, with the empire
of Charlemagne, and with the German or Holy Roman Empire revived by
Otto. In this last the ecclesiastical element was of paramount
importance, but the emperor was the supreme authority. From that
authority Gregory VII. resolved to free the pontificate, through the
claim that no appointment by a layman to ecclesiastical office was
valid; while the pope stood forth as universal bishop, a crowned
high-priest. To this supremacy the French first offered effectual
resistance, issuing in the captivity of Avignon. Germany followed suit,
and the schism of the church was closed by the secular princes at
Constance and Basle. The papacy was restored in form, but not to its old
The pontificates of Sixtus IV. and the egregious Alexander VI. were
followed by the militant Julius II., who aimed, with some success, at
making the pope a secular territorial potentate. But the intellectual
movement challenged the papal claim, the direct challenge emanating from
Germany and Luther. But this was at the moment when the empire was
joined with Spain under Charles V. The Diet of Worms pointed to an
accord between emperor and pope, when Leo X. died unexpectedly. His
successor, Adrian, a Netherlander and an admirable man, sought vainly to
inaugurate reform of the Church from within, but in brief time made way
for Clement VII.
Hitherto, the new pope's interests had all been on the Spanish side, at
least as against France; everything had been increasing the Spanish
power in Italy, but Clement aimed at freedom from foreign domination.
The discovery of his designs brought about the Decree of Spires, which
gave Protestantism a legal recognition in the empire, and also the
capture and sack of Rome by Frundsberg's soldiery. Charles's ascendancy
in Italy and over the papacy was secured. Clement, now almost at his
beck, would have persuaded him to apply coercion to the German
Protestants; but this did not suit the emperor, whose solution for
existing difficulties was the summoning of a general council, which
Clement was quite determined to evade. Moreover, matters were made worse
for the papacy when England broke away from the papal obedience over the
affair of Katharine of Aragon.
Paul III., Clement's immediate successor, began with an effort after
regeneration by appointing several cardinals of the Contarini type,
associates of the Oratory of Divine Love, many of whom stood, in part at
least, on common ground with avowed Protestants, notably on the dogma of
justification by faith. He appears seriously to have desired a
reconciliation with the Protestants; and matters looked promising when a
conference was held at Ratisbon, where Contarini himself represented the
Terms of union were even agreed on, but, being referred to Luther on one
side and Paul on the other, were rejected by both, after which there was
no hope of the cleavage being bridged. The regeneration of the Church
would have to be from within.
_II.--Sixteenth Century Popes_
The interest of this period lies mainly in the antagonism between the
imperative demand for internal reform of the Church and the policy which
had become ingrained in the heads of the Church. For the popes, these
political aspirations stood first and reform second. Alexander Farnese
(Paul III.) was pope from 1534 to 1549. He was already sixty-seven when
he succeeded Clement. Policy and enlightenment combined at first to make
him advance Contarini and his allies, and to hope for reconciliation
with the Protestants. Policy turned him against acceptance of the
Ratisbon proposals, as making Germany too united. Then he urged the
emperor against the Protestants, but when the success of Charles was too
complete he was ill-pleased. He withdrew the Council from Trent to
Bologna, to remove it from imperial influences which threatened the
pope's personal supremacy. So far as he was concerned, reformation had
dropped into the background.
Julius III. was of no account; Marcellus, an excellent and earnest man,
might have done much had he not died in three weeks. His election, and
that of his successor, Caraffa, as Paul IV., both pointed to a real
intention of reform. Caraffa had all his life been a passionate advocate
of moral reform, but even he was swept away by the political conditions
and his hatred of Spain, which was an obsession. Professed detestation
of Spain was a sure way to his favour, which, his kinsfolk recognising,
they won his confidence only to their own ultimate destruction when he
discovered that he had been deceived. Half his reign was worse than
wasted in a futile contest with Spain; when it was done, he turned
rigorously to energetic disciplinary reforms, but death stayed his hand.
A very different man was Pius IV., the pontiff under whom the Council of
Trent was brought to a close. Far from rigid himself, he still could
not, if he would, have altogether deserted the paths of reform. But most
conspicuously he was inaugurator of a new policy, not asserting claims
to supremacy, but seeking to induce the Catholic powers to work hand in
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