The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07

The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07


279 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07, by Various
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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 07
Author: Various
Editor: Rossiter Johnson  Charles Horne  John Rudd
Release Date: December 18, 2008 [EBook #27562]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
Produced by Turgut Dincer and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
With a staff of specialists
The National Alumni
An Outline Narrative of the Great Events, RNECHARLES F. HO Dante Composes theDivina Commedia(A.D. 1300-1318), RICHARD WILLIAM CHURCH Third Estate Joins in the Government of France (A.D. 1302), HENRI MARTIN War of the Flemings with Philip the Fair of France (A.D. 1302), WEEYRE EVANS CRO First Swiss Struggle for Liberty (A.D. 1308), F. G RENFELL BAKER Battle of Bannockburn (A.D. 1314),, ANDREW LANG Extinction of the Order of Knights Templars Burning of Grand Master Molay (A.D. 1314), O DHO USEF. C. WO HENRY HART MILMAN James van Artevelde Leads a Flemish Revolt Edward III of England Assumes the Title of King of France,(A.D. 1337-1340) FRANÇO IS P. G . G UIZO T Battles of Sluys and Crécy (A.D. 1340-1346), SIR JO HN FRO ISSART Modern Recognition of Scenic Beauty Crowning of Petrarch at Rome (A.D. 1341), JACO B BURCKHARDT Rienzi's Revolution in Rome (A.D. 1347), DG ERICHARD LO Beginning and Progress of the Renaissance (Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century), ADDING TO N SYMO NDSJO HN The Black Death Ravages Europe (A.D. 1348), J. F. C. HECKER G IO VANNI BO CCACCIO First Turkish Dominion in Europe Turks Seize Gallipoli (A.D. 1354), JO SEPH VO N HAMMER-PURG STALL Conspiracy and Death of Marino Falieri at Venice (D.D. 1355), LIPHANTMRS. MARG ARET O Charles IV of Germany Publishes His Golden Bull (A.D. 1356), MYNBERT CO SIR RO
PAGE xiii 1 17 23 28 41 51
68 78 93 104
110 130
147 154 160
Insurrection of the Jacquerie in France (A.D. 1358), ISSARTHN FRO SIR JO Conquests of Timur the Tartar (A.D. 1370-1405), EDWARD G IBBO N Dancing Mania of the Middle Ages (A.D. 1374), J. F. C. HECKER Election of Antipope Clement VII Beginning of the Great Schism (A.D. 1378), HENRY HART MILMAN Genoese Surrender to Venetians (A.D. 1380), HENRY HALLAM Rebellion of Wat Tyler (A.D. 1381), JO HN LING ARD Wycliffe Translates the Bible into English ( A.D. 1382), J. PATERSO N SMYTH The Swiss Win Their Independence Battle of Sempach (A.D. 1386-1389), RENFELL BAKERF. G Union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (A.D. 1397), PAUL C. SINDING Discovery of the Canary Islands and the African Coast Beginning of Negro Slave Trade (A.D. 1402), SIR ARTHUR HELPS Council of Constance (A.D. 1414), DG ERICHARD LO Trial and Burning of John Huss The Hussite Wars (A.D. 1415), RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH The House of Hohenzollern Established in Brandenburg (A.D. 1415), CARLYLETHO MAS Battle of Agincourt English Conquest of France (A.D. 1415), JAMES G AIRDNER Jeanne d'Arc's Victory at Orleans (A.D. 1429), SIR EDWARD S. CREASY Trial and Execution of Jeanne d'Arc (A.D. 1431), JULES MICHELET Charles VII Issues His Pragmatic Sanction Emancipation of the Gallican Church (A.D. 1438), W. HENLEY JERVIS RENÉ F. RO HRBACHER Universal Chronology ( A.D. 1301-1438), JO HN RUDD
164 169 187 201 213 217 227
238 243 266 284 294 305 320 333 350 370
ix x
PAGE Jeanne d'Arc stands, banner in hand, during the coronation of Charles VII, before the high altar at Rheims (page 347),Frontispiece  Painting by J. E. Lenepveu. Richard II resigns the crown of England to Henry, D uke of Lancaster, son of John of Gaunt, at London,262  Painting by Sir John Gilbert.
IFTY years ago the term "renaissance" had a very de finite meaning to scholars as representing an exact period toward the close of the fourteenth century when the world suddenly reawoke to the beauty of the arts of Greece and Rome, to the charm of their gayer life, the splendor of their intellect. We know now that there was no such sudden reawakening, that Teutonic Europe toiled slowly upward through long centuries, and that men learned only gradually to appreciate the finer side of existence, to study the universe for themselves, and look with their own eyes upon the life around them and the life beyond.
Thus the word "renaissance" has grown to cover a vaguer period, and there has been a constant tendency to push the date of its beginning ever backward, as we detect more and more the dimly dawning light amid the darkness of earlier ages. Of late, writers have fallen into the way of calling Dante the "morning star of the Renaissance"; and the period of the great poet's work, the first decade of the fourteenth century, has certainly the advantage of being characterized by three or four peculiarly striking events which serve to typify the tendencies of the coming age.
In 1301 Dante was driven out of Florence, his native city-republic, by a political strife. In this year, as he himself phrases it, he descended into hell; that is, he began those weary wanderings in exile which ended o nly with his life, and
x xi xii
which stirred in him the deeps that found expression in his mighty poem, the 1 Divina Commediahis masterpiece he speaks with eager respect. Throughout of the old Roman writers, and of such Greeks as he knew—so we have admiration of the ancient intellect. He also speaks bitterly of certain popes, as well as of other more earthly tyrants—so we have the dawnings of democracy and of religious revolt, of government by one's self and thought for one's self, instead of submission to the guidance of others.
More important even than these in its immediate results, Dante, while he began his poem in Latin, the learned language of the time , soon transposed and completed it in Italian, the corrupted Latin of his commoner contemporaries, the tongue of his daily life. That is, he wrote not for scholars like himself, but for a wider circle of more worldly friends. It is the first great work in any modern speech. It is in very truth the recognition of a new world of men, a new and more practical set of merchant intellects which, with th eir growing and vigorous vitality, were to supersede the old.
In that same decade and in that same city of Florence, Giotto was at work, was beginning modern art with his paintings, was buildi ng the famous cathedral there, was perhaps planning his still more famous bell-tower. Here surely was artistic wakening enough.
If we look further afield through Italy we find in 1303 another scene tragically expressive of the changing times. The French King, Philip the Fair, so called from his appearance, not his dealings, had bitter cause of quarrel with the same Pope Boniface VIII who had held the great jubilee of 1300. Philip's soldiers, forcing their way into the little town of Anagni, t o which the Pope had withdrawn, laid violent hands upon his holiness. If measured by numbers, the whole affair was trifling. So few were the French soldiers that in a few days the handful of towns-folk in Anagni were able to rise against them, expel them from the place and rescue the aged Pope. He had been struck—beaten, say not wholly reliable authorities—and so insulted that rage and shame drove him mad, and he died.
Not a sword in all Europe leaped from its scabbard to avenge the martyr. Religious men might shudder at the sacrilege, but the next Pope, venturing to take up Boniface's quarrel, died within a few months under strong probabilities of poison; and the next Pope, Clement V, became the obedient servant of the French King. He even removed the seat of papal auth ority from Rome to Avignon in France, and there for seventy years the popes remained. The breakdown of the whole temporal power of the Church was sudden, terrible, complete.
Following up his religious successes, Philip the Fa ir attacked the mighty knights of the Temple, the most powerful of the religious orders of knighthood which had fought the Saracens in Jerusalem. The Templars, having found their warfare hopeless, had abandoned the Holy Land and h ad dwelt for a generation inglorious in the West. Philip suddenly seized the leading members of the order, accused it of hideous crimes, and confiscated all its vast wealth and hundreds of strong castles throughout France. He secured from his French
Pope approval of the extermination of the entire order and the torture and execution of its chiefs. Whether the charges against them were true or not, their helplessness in the grip of the King shows clearly the low ebb to which knighthood had fallen, and the rising power of the monarchs. The day of 2 feudalism was past.
We may read yet other signs of the age in the career of this cruel, crafty King. To strengthen himself in his struggle against the Pope, he called, in 1302, an assembly or "states-general" of his people; and, following the example already established in England, he gave a voice in this assembly to the "Third Estate," the common folk or "citizens," as well as to the nobles and the clergy. So even in France we find the people acquiring power, though as yet this Third Estate speaks with but a timid and subservient voice, requ iring to be much encouraged by its money-asking sovereigns, who little dreamed it would one 3 day be strong enough to demand a reckoning of all its tyrant overlords.
Another event to be noted in this same year of 1302 took place farther northward in King Philip's domains. The Flemish cities Ghent, Liège, and Bruges had grown to be the great centres of the commercial world, so wealthy and so populous that they outranked Paris. The sturdy Flemish burghers had not always been subject to France—else they had been less well to-do. They regarded Philip's exactions as intolerable, and rebelled. Against them marched the royal army of iron-clad knights; and the desperate citizens, meeting these with no better defence than stout leather jerkins, led them into a trap. At the battle of Courtrai the knights charged into an unsuspected ditch, and as they fell the burghers with huge clubs beat out such brains as they could find within the helmets. It was subtlety against stupidity, the merchant's shrewdness asserting itself along new lines. King Philip had to create for himself a fresh nobility to 4 replenish his depleted stock.
The fact that there is so much to pause on in Philip's reign will in itself suggest the truth, that France had grown the most important state in Europe. This, however, was due less to French strength than to the weakness of the empire, where rival rulers were being constantly elected an d wasting their strength against one another. If Courtrai had given the first hint that these iron-clad knights were not invincible in war, it was soon followed by another. The Swiss peasants formed among themselves a league to resist oppression. This took definite shape in 1308 when they rebelled openly ag ainst their Hapsburg 5 overlords. The Hapsburg duke of the moment was one of two rival claimants for the title of emperor, and was much too busy to attend personally to the chastisement of these presumptuous boors. The army which he sent to do the work for him was met by the Swiss at Morgarten, among their mountain passes, overwhelmed with rocks, and then put to flight by o ne fierce charge of the unarmored peasants. It took the Austrians seventy years to forget that lesson, and when a later generation sent a second army into the mountains it was overthrown at Sempach. Swiss liberty was establishe d on an unarguable 6 basis.
A similar tale might be told of Bannockburn, where, under Bruce, the Scotch 7 common folk regained their freedom from the English. Courtrai, Morgarten, Bannockburn! Clearly a new force was growing up over all Europe, and a new spirit among men. Knighthood, which had lost its power over kings, seemed
like to lose its military repute as well.
The development of the age was, of course, most rap id in Italy, where democracy had first asserted itself. In its train came intellectual ability, and by the middle of the fourteenth century Italy was in the full swing of the intellectual 8 renaissance. In 1341 Petrarch, recognized by all his contemporary countrymen as their leading scholar and poet, was crowned with a laurel wreath on the steps of the Capitol in Rome. This was the formal assertion by the age of its admiration for intellectual worth. To Petrarch is ascribed the earliest recognition of the beauty of nature. He has been called the first modern man. In reading his works we feel at last that we speak with one of our own, with a friend who 9 understands.
Unfortunately, however, the democracy of Italy proved too intense, too frenzied and unbalanced. Rienzi established a republic in Ro me and talked of the restoration of the city's ancient rule. But he governed like a madman or an 10 inflated fool, and was slain in a riot of the streets. Scarce one of the famous cities succeeded in retaining its republican form. Milan became a duchy. Florence fell under the sway of the Medici. In Venice a few rich families seized all authority, and while the fame and territory of the republic were extended, its dogeship became a mere figurehead. All real power w as lodged in the dread 11 and secret council of three. Genoa was defeated and crushed in a great naval 12 contest with her rival, Venice. Everywhere tyrannies stood out triumphant. The first modern age of representative government was a failure. The cities had proved unable to protect themselves against the sel fish ambitions of their leaders.
In Germany and the Netherlands town life had been, as we have seen, slower 13 of development. Hence for these Northern cities the period of decay had not yet come. In fact, the fourteenth century marks the zenith of their power. Their great trading league, the Hansa, was now fully established, and through the hands of its members passed all the wealth of Northern Europe. The league even fought a war against the King of Denmark and defeated him. The three northern states, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, fell almost wholly under the dominance of the Hansa, until, toward the end of the century, Queen Margaret of Denmark, "the Semiramis of the North," united the three countries under her 14 sway, and partly at least upraised them from their sorry plight.
On the whole this was not an era to which Europe can look back with pride. The empire was a scene of anarchy. One of its wrangling rulers, Charles IV, recognizing that the lack of an established government lay at the root of all the disorder, tried to mend matters by publishing his "Golden Bull," which exactly regulated the rules and formulæ to be gone through in choosing an emperor, and named the seven "electors" who were to vote. This simplified matters so far as the repeatedly contested elections went; but it failed to strike to the real 15 difficulty. The Emperor remained elective and therefore weak.
Moreover, in 1346 the "Black Death," most terrible of all the repeated plagues under which the centuries previous to our own have suffered, began to rear its 16 dread form over terror-stricken Europe. It has been estimated that during the
three years of this awful visitation one-third of the people of Europe perished. Whole cities were wiped out. In the despair and desolation of the period of scarcity that followed, humanity became hysterical, and within a generation that oddest of all the extravagances of the Middle Ages, the "dancing mania," rose to its height. Men and women wandered from town to town, especially in Germany, dancing frantically, until in their exhaustion they would beg the 17 bystanders to beat them or even jump on them to enable them to stop.
France and England were also in desolation. The long "Hundred Years' War" between them began in 1340. France was not averse to it. In fact, her King, Philip of Valois, rather welcomed the opportunity of wresting away Guienne, the last remaining French fief of the English kings. France, as we have seen, was regarded as the strongest land of Europe. England was thought of as little more than a French colony, whose Norman dukes had in the previous century been thoroughly chastised and deprived of half their territories by their overlord. To be sure, France was having much trouble with her Flemish cities, which were in 18 revolt again under the noted brewer-nobleman, Van Artevelde, yet it seemed presumption for England to attack her—England, so feeble that she had been unable to avenge her own defeat by the half-barbaric Scots at Bannockburn.
But the English had not nearly so small an opinion of themselves as had the rest of Europe. The heart of the nation had not been in that strife against the Scots, a brave and impoverished people struggling for freedom. But hearts and pockets, too, welcomed the quarrel with France, ove rbearing France, that plundered their ships when they traded with their friends the Flemings. The Flemish wool trade was at this time a main source o f English wealth, so Edward III of England, than whom ordinarily no haug htier aristocrat existed, made friends with the brewer Van Artevelde, and cal led him "gossip" and visited him at Ghent, and presently Flemings and En glish were allied in a defiance of France. By asserting a vague ancestral claim to the French throne, Edward eased the consciences of his allies, who had sworn loyalty to France; 19 and King Philip had on his hands a far more serious quarrel than he realized.
In England's first great naval victory, Edward destroyed the French fleet at Sluys and so started his country on its wonderful career of ocean dominance. Moreover, his success established from the start that the war should be fought 20 out in France and not in England. Then, in 1346, he won his famous victory of Crécy against overwhelming numbers of his enemies. It has been said that cannon were effectively used for the first time at Crécy, and it was certainly about this time that gunpowder began to assume a de finite though as yet subordinate importance in warfare. But we need not go so far afield to explain the English victory. It lay in the quality of the fighting men. Through a century and a half of freedom, England had been building up a class of sturdy yeomen, peasants who, like the Swiss, lived healthy, hearty, independent lives. France relied only on her nobles; her common folk were as yet a helpless herd of much shorn sheep. The French knights charged as they had charged at Courtrai, with blind, unreasoning valor; and the English peasants, instead of fleeing before them, stood firm and, with deadly accuracy of aim, discharged arrow after arrow into the soon disorganized mass. Then the English k nights charged, and completed what the English yeomen had begun.
Poitiers, ten years later, repeated the same story; and what with the Black