Professor of History in Harvard University


November 1929


THE demand for a new edition of this work in one volume has provided an opportunity to correct some of the unforeseen errors of commission or omission in statements of fact, and to meet all the criticisms of opinion that seem to the author just and reasonable. It only remains for the author to thank his many readers and reviewers for their kindly reception of the book.

W. C. A.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. April 10, 1924.


In presenting what is, in effect, a new synthesis of modern history it seems necessary to define, as well as possible, the reasons for such an undertaking. These lie chiefly in the point of view from which such history is to be considered in the light of the demands of the present and the oncoming generation. It is obvious that we are in a stage of development to which many of the older formulas do not apply, and that we are entering an era in which it seems necessary to take a wider if not a deeper view of the past and of the forces which have gone to the making of the modern world.

There are, from this standpoint, three elements which need correlation to provide a proper basis for the understanding of what has happened during the past five hundred years, and of the situation which confronts us to-day. The first is the connection of the social, economic, and intellectual development of European peoples with their political affairs. The second is the inclusion of the progress of events among the peoples of eastern Europe, and of the activities of Europeans beyond the sea. The third is the relation of the past to the present--the way in which the various factors of modern life came into the current of European thought and practice, and how they developed into the forms with which we are familiar. And it has been the purpose of these volumes to combine these elements so far as possible, to infuse a sense of unity into the narrative of European activities wherever and however they have been manifested, and to draw from these the story of the development of modern civilization in its manifold aspects.

History, wrote Gibbon, is little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind, and that pessimistic judgment has too often been accepted by its students and perhaps too often confirmed by its makers. Such a judgment was natural to one who, like Gibbon, devoted his talents to the account of the decline and fall of a great social and political order. It is, perhaps, natural for any student of the purely political minutiŠ of any period at any time. Yet it cannot be accepted as a constant guide to the consideration of human activities in general, for if it is, either history is a false record or we should not now be where we are. Especially is this true of the period considered in the following pages. They record not the decline and fall but the rise and progress of a civilization even greater than that whose overthrow Gibbon chronicled. Such an achievement does not come as the result of crime, folly, and misfortune. It is constructive not destructive, and it does not seem to confirm in the field of human affairs that doctrine of the degradation of energy which plays such a part in the domain of physical science.

It is apparent in the mere statement of the purpose of the following pages that they include much material which, however considered in separate investigations, has not been reckoned as part of European history as it has generally been conceived. This alters not only the perspective but the proportion of the more or less conventionalized historical narrative with which we are familiar. In such a view as is here attempted, many movements, many characters, and, in particular, many episodes, shrink to relative insignificance, while others, hitherto subordinated or even excluded, are elevated into what will seem at first, to many minds no doubt, an undue importance.

In the effort to take account of events or episodes which have influenced the general current of affairs, of movements which have contributed to change, of individuals who have inaugurated or who represent such movements or played a leading part in such episodes, it is obvious that the great problem is that of selection. No one can pretend to choose his material or to judge among infinite claims to importance with entire satisfaction to himself much less to others. Yet the effort has seemed worth the making. For it is apparent that with all the ability and industry of a host of gifted scholars unearthing the remains of the past, there must be an interpretation of their results if we are to put to use the fruits of scholarship, and keep that past in touch with the present. And if this attempt to present a new view of history, its material, its method, and its purpose shall only serve to arouse fresh interest in these subjects it will have been worth the time and labor it has cost.

Finally it is only fair to say that these volumes have no thesis to prove or to disprove. They do not consciously point a moral; they do not seek to determine the "meaning" of history. They do not deal with first causes nor ultimate goals. They do not attempt to justify the ways of God to man, after the manner of the older "providential" school. They do not offer a brief for the superiority of democracy, or rationalism, or the middle classes; nor do they attempt to defend that progress which they chronicle. Their only endeavor is to show, as well as they may, how things came to be as they are. They are essentially dynamic rather than static; they are not intentionally antiquarian, for they are concerned less with what was than with what came to be. They do not profess that this was, in every case, the most desirable outcome, that this is the best of all possible worlds, or that whatever is, is right. But in so far as the world is different from what it was and a better place in which to live, that fact is due to what we call progress. It is the purpose of this book, therefore, to describe the situations which arose, to indicate the greater lines of change, the deviations from those lines and some explanation of how and--in so far, as we can see--why things happened as they did. And it is hoped that, having described the laying of the foundations for the modern world it may be possible to supplement these two volumes by a third which will continue the narrative from the period of the French Revolution to the present time.

It may not be out of place in this connection to call attention to two other features of this task. The first is the series of maps which are intended to form a part of the text rather than to illustrate the volumes. The second is the collection of pictures which are intended for a like purpose. An attempt has been made to select such illustrations as will, in some measure, show what manner of people these were who made this history, where they went and what they did, rather than to include purely decorative material.

Finally it is necessary to acknowledge the assistance which has been generously extended to the author by Professor C. H. Haskins of Harvard University, who has read the proofs of the entire work; to Assistant Professor C. H. Haring, who has read those parts relating to Spanish America; to Dr, F. W. Pitman, who has performed a like service for the parts relating to the British North American colonies; to the authorities of the Yale University Library for their unfailing kindness in putting material at my command; and, above all, to my wife, without whose sympathetic assistance the completion of this task would have been impossible.

W. C. A.

NEW HAVEN, December 12, 1917.

- The Expansion of Europe - Vol. I
- Introduction

- Chapter I: The End of the Middle Ages
- Chapter II: The Beginnings of Intellectual Expansion the Renaissance. 1200-1500
- Chapter III: The Beginnings of Territorial Expansion
- Chapter IV: The Beginnings of Modern Politics
- Chapter V: European Politics. 1492-1521
- Chapter VI: Spain and Portugal. 1498-1521

- Chapter VII: The Renaissance and the Reformation. 1492-1521
- Chapter VIII: Europe: Reform and Politics. 1521-1542
- Chapter IX: Europe beyond the Sea. 1521-1542
- Chapter X: Social and Intellectual Europe. 1521-1543
- Chapter XI: The Age of the Council of Trent. 1542-1563
- Chapter XII: The Age of Philip II and the Religious Wars. 1563-1578

- Chapter XIII: The Conditions of Conflict. 1578-1588
- Chapter XIV: The Armada. 1575-1588
- Chapter XV: The Age of Elizabeth; and the Anglo- Dutch Invasion of the East. 1588-1601
- Chapter XVI: Europe at the Close of the Sixteenth Century
- Chapter XVII: The Rise of Holland. 1603-1623
- Chapter XVIII: England, France, and Holland in America. 1603-1623

- Chapter XIX: The Thirty Years' War. 1623-1642
- Chapter XX: Commerce and Colonies. 1621-1642
- Chapter XXI: Intellectual and Social Progress. 1610-1642 the Beginnings of Modern Philosophy and Scientific Thought
- Chapter XXII: The Peace of Westphalia and the English Revolution. 1642-1648

- The Expansion of Europe Vol. II
- Chapter XXIII: The Age of Cromwell. 1642-1660
- Chapter XXIV: Europe at the Middle of the Seventeenth Century
- Chapter XXV: The Age of Louis Xiv. 1660-1678
- Chapter XXVI: Europe beyond the Sea. 1660-1678
- Chapter XXVII: The Age of William Iii. 1678-1702
- Chapter XXVIII: Europe at the End of the Seventeenth Century

- Chapter XXIX: The War of the Spanish Succession and the Reorganization of Europe. 1700-1720
- Chapter XXX: Imperial Europe. 1720-1742
- Chapter XXXI: Religion, Intellect, and Industry. 1700-1750
- Chapter XXXII: The Age of Frederick the Great. 1742-1763
- Chapter XXXIII: The Age of Voltaire and the Philosophers
- Chapter XXXIV: The European Empire. 1763-1768
- Chapter XXXV: The American Revolution. 1768-1783
- Chapter XXXVI: The European Revolution. 1768-1789

- Bibliography - Index



Ptolemy's Map of the World, 2d Century A.D. 65
The Hereford Map, Drawn About 1280 67
The World According to Ptolemy, 1540 facing 74
The World According to Ibn Haukal, 977 77
The Mediterranean Coast in the Portulano of Dulcert, 1339 79
West Coast of Africa 89
Fra Mauro Map, 1457 facing 92
Restoration of the so-called Toscanelli Map 93

Martin Behaim's Globe of 1492 94

Map of America Drawn by Bartholomew Columbus About 1503 100

The Malabar Coast of India 103

France (c. 1453) 112

Eastern Europe in the 15th Century 116

Central Europe in the Last Half of the 15th Century 121

The Iberian Peninsula (c. 1453) 128

Italy at the Close of the 15th Century 136

European Possessions of Charles V 142

WaldseemŘller Map, Published in 1513 facing 150

East Coast of Africa 157

The Conquest of Mexico and Central America 168

Sch÷ner's Globe of 1523 facing 222

The Andean Conquest 228

The Religions of Europe at the Middle of the 16th Century 278

The New World in 1587 facing 332

The East Indies 394

French, English, and Dutch in North America, 1600-1625 419

The Religions of Europe at the Middle of the 17th Century 509

The European World at the Middle of the 15th Century (c. 1453) 7
The European World at the Beginning of the 16th Century (c. 1519) 141
The European World About the Middle of the 16th Century (c. 1542) 237
The European World at the Beginning of the 17th Century (c. 1608) 379


The Western Hemisphere, by Henry Hondius, 1630 facing 26
The Conquests of Louis XIV 63
Re-drawing of Joliet's Map 78
Hennepin's Map of North America facing 80
Africa in the 17th Century 86
India at the Break-up of Aurungzebe's Empire, 1710-1740 183
China 193
The Growth of Prussia, 1415-1795 238
The North American Colonies, 1763-1775 302
Captain Cook's Voyages, 1768-1780 360

The European World at the Middle of the 17th Century (c. 1648-1660) 3
The European World at the Close of the 17th Century (e. 1690-1700) 121
The European World at the Peace of Paris, 1763 259
The European World at the Peace of Paris and Versailles, 1783 333


ST. ANTHONY, by Albrecht DŘrer. An Idealized MediŠval Town 16
LIMA. The Modern City 230
THE; SKELETON, from Vesalius's Fabrica 250

CHAMPLAIN'S Habitation 408
NEW AMSTERDAM, About 1630 420


THE INDUSTRIOUS AND THE LAZY APPRENTICE, one of the series "Industry and Idleness," by Hogarth, 1747 348
THE OPENING OF THE STATES-GENERAL, Versailles, May 5, 1789 370


"The genius of humanity is the right point of view of history."

"Political disturbances arise from great causes but small event."

"There is no law of history but the law of progress."

"Progress is the change in form of that which is in its nature and substance unchangeable."

"Always there have been two forces at work among men; the desire for stability and the desire for change. To the one we owe much of the permanence, to the other most of the progress of what we call society."

"The progress of society is due to the fact that individual vary from the human average in all sorts of directions, and that their originality is often so attractive or useful that they are recognized by their fellows as leaders and become the objects of envy or admiration, and setters of new ideas."

"So absolutely has change become the law of our present condition that it is identified with energy and moral health; to cease to change is to lose place in the great race; and to pass away from off the earth with the same convictions which we found when we entered it, is to have missed the best object for which we now seem to exist."


IT is the purpose of the following pages to describe, as fully as possible within the limits set, the great movement by which those peoples and that modern civilization which we call European, developed, overspread, and finally came to dominate the world which we inhabit. This movement, which is, in nearly all respects the most important event thus far in human history, occupied a period of somewhat less than the four hundred years between the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. It followed no simple, straightforward course of carefully calculated, wellordered endeavor. Like most of those phenomena to which we give the name of progress, it was rather a confused and complicated interaction of different and often apparently opposing forces than a conscious working through wellchosen means to a well-defined end. And its development at home, like its extension abroad, was accompanied by almost constant conflict of arms no less than of ideas and ambitions, which conditioned and not seldom hindered almost every phase of its history.


These armed conflicts were, indeed, for the most part, only incidental to the main current of progress. Without them, it is true, the triumph of new conceptions would often have been impossible, and the expansion of European power into other lands, especially, would have been inconceivable. Yet, without the intellectual and material processes which preceded and accompanied the political expansion of Europe, that extension of her influence, like the progress of her civilization, could not have been accomplished by mere feats of arms.

Its conditions

No means then at the disposal of the Europeans would have enabled them to reach and to maintain themselves in regions so remote as those which they attained. No force at their command would have availed against the overwhelming masses which they met and conquered by their superiority in material and intellectual equipment even more than by their discipline and courage. In particular no such effect as they produced upon mankind would have followed, and their great exploits would have remained as transitory and as barren of result as those of Tamerlane or Jenghiz Khan. In its last analysis the importance of European expansion lies not in the deeds of daring by which it was accompanied. great as they were, nor the areas brought under European control, though they include more than two-thirds of the land surface of the earth; but in the incalculable extension of man's intellect, capabilities, and resources, of which it was at once a cause, a concomitant, and a result.

The expansion of European, therefore, is not wholly, nor even chiefly concerned with the mere progress of European conquest beyond the sea. Still less is it absorbed with the concurrent conflicts for supremacy among the peoples and rulers at home. It involves the intellectual, economic, and spiritual progress of mankind, rather than the more spectacular but less constructive activities of captains and of kings. It takes account of the advance in human comfort, and the still more extraordinary increase in human capacity, which revolutionized conditions of existence. It involves the extension of knowledge, which altered at once the current of men's thoughts and lives, especially through the penetration of the long neglected achievements of the classical world into the fabric of European life, and through the development of scientific learning. With science came invention. Whatever ascendancy the European holds to-day is due very largely to the capacity which he has developed beyond all other races thus far, of originating, adapting, and improving devices to enlarge human powers, both mental and physical; and of pursuing a steadily progressive employment of natural laws and resources to his own use.

Its scope

Yet in such an account as this, it is necessary to consider, beside the material and intellectual development of Europe, those political changes which gradually altered not only the boundaries of the various states, but the conditions and ideals of life among the various races and nationalities which occupy the European world. For upon them depend, in no small degree, many of the forces which have gone to make civilizawhat it has become. It is no less necessary to consider, in some detail, the part played by expansion oversea. The discovery and exploitation of other continents enormously increased the resources of mankind. It played a great part in the emancipation of the human intellect; and it has created a new situation in the world's affairs. The continent of Europe remains, indeed, the focus of so-called European history. Yet if one considers the world as it stands to-day, and, still more, as it will probably appear in another century, it is apparent that no history of European peoples can ignore those great societies which, from year to year, bulk larger in human activities, and tend, more and more, to form that Greater Europe of which we are a part.

It was a great exploit, no less of the intellect than of the arms of Europe, to push out into the great unknown, and lay the foundations of a new heaven and a new earth amid the ruins of an outworn system of society and thought. It extended from the days in which European adventures first gained a foothold outside of the continent, and European scholars recovered the long neglected culture of Greece and Rome, to the time when the first European society beyond the sea broke away from its political connection with the old world, and when men summoned the forces of nature to conquer nature--the age of invention and the use of steam. Its progress was conditioned no less by the impulse of the one than by the long development of the other. Yet neither was a wholly independent phenomenon. Each revealed in all its stages a deep background of achievement and culture which lay behind this expansion of energy and intellect. However unconscious its influence, the immemorial development of European civilization at once inspired and made possible its tremendous extension, once the barriers which separated men from the past and from the world about them had been broken down.

Its period and its background

It is necessary, therefore, to take account of many and diverse elements to explain the factors which have gone into the making of a modern world. For it is apparent, as the history of mankind unfolds, that there is no single clue to the development of human society. It has not seldom happened that the most trivial circumstances have led to tremendous consequence; that influences apparently the most remote from, let us say, the field of politics, have combined to produced the greatest alternations in government. And, small or great, important or trivial, the conditions which man has created for his activities and his environment demand for their explanation an account no less inclusive, if less complex, than the organism which has resulted from his infinite and varied energy.



IN so far as any point may be said to divide one so-called period of history from another, the year 1453, which saw the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks, and the last battle of the Hundred Years' War between England and France, has always been regarded as one of the principal landmarks in the development of Europe. This is but natural. The fall of the capital of the Eastern Empire, important in itself, was doubly significant in the dramatic emphasis it gave to the tremendous transition in European affairs, then reaching its culmination. With that event, the boundaries of the European world, already invaded by Tartar, Magyar, and Bulgarian in the east, and by the Moors in the west, were further contracted. The most distant peoples of the continent were disturbed by the disappearance of the Byzantine Empire, which, as the political heir of Rome and the intellectual heir of Greece, had been at once the connecting link with the ancient world and a bulwark of Christian Europe against Asia. Nearer nations were terrified; for it seemed to them not improbable that they, and perhaps all Europe, might be forced to fight for life against the new invaders as they had once fought against Hun and Saracen.

The beginnings of modern Europe

The terror of the Turk was not lessened by the knowledge that Europe was ill-prepared for such a conflict. The confused transition from a decaying mediŠvalism to new and untried forms of thought and action, even of speech, which was then taking place in almost every department of human affairs, gave small promise of that unity which seemed so essential to avert the impending peril. The one power in European disorganization-the Church any sense universal, the Christian church, was divided against itself. The earlier schism between the East and West had long since become irreconcilable, and had produced two communions, Greek and Roman Catholic, unalterably opposed to each other. More recently the quarrels within the western church had still further disrupted the solidarity of Christendom, till two and sometimes three rival popes had lately demanded the allegiance of the faithful. Besides these, still, insistent reformers continually denounced the abuses of the establishment or the vices of its members, and so contributed another element of confusion to the ecclesiastical situation.

To this was added the disorganization of the political establishment. Of the two dominant systems which the middle ages had produced, the Empire and feudalism, the second had almost wholly overpowered the first. It had divided Europe into a complex of more or less independent states, infinitely various in size and condition. These were bound together by ties, strong in theory, but in practice weak and provocative of endless strife. So long as feudal principles and practices prevailed it was impossible to establish even considerable kingdoms, much less a European empire. And social progress was scarcely less impossible so long as the class distinction between noble and non-noble which feudalism imposed upon society was maintained, so long as Europe was divided horizontally rather than vertically and knights of whatever nationality had more in common with their order in other lands than with their own vassals.

The Empire and feudalism

But if the fall of Constantinople threw into high relief the disorganization of Europe politically, religiously, and socially, the battle of ChÔtillon and the revolt of the earls of Salisbury and Warwick against the English crown, which took place in this same momentous year of 1453, was of scarcely less importance in revealing the situation of affairs. The one brought to an end the long struggle which England had waged at intervals for a hundred years to maintain her power on the mainland of Europe. The other began that bitter civil conflict known as the Wars of the Roses, when, for thirty years, the land found no settled peace amid the

The British Isles

fierce rivalries of the two branches of her royal family. That family was, indeed, far from supreme even in those territories which seemed to fall naturally within its jurisdiction, the British Isles. Scotland remained separate, independent, and hostile. Ireland, save for a narrow strip on the nearer coast, was an English dependency in little more than name; and the people of Wales, though politically united with England, were far from being Anglicized.

In no small measure the situation of the British Isles was typical of all Europe. The Spanish peninsula was still divided among the Moors and the Christian states of Aragon, Castile, Navarre, and Portugal. France, torn by intermittent war with the English for more than a hundred years, had just driven the invaders from all their conquests save Calais. But Brittany, Anjou, and lesser feudal lordships on the west, Provence on the south, and Burgundy on the east, still maintained an independence which limited alike the lands and the authority of the French kings, while the wide divergence of language and customs among the people called generically the French, made the existence of a French nation as yet impossible.

Spain and France

The chief rivals of the French kings, the dukes of Burgundy, under the nominal suzerainty of the Empire for a part of their dominions, were busily engaged in attempts at independence and the enlargement of their territory. The long-enduring dream of a kingdom between France and Germany was destined to failure; but, while it lasted, it was provocative of endless wars, and it troubled the peace of the Emperor on the east scarcely less than it conflicted with the ambitions of the house of Capet on the west.


Central Europe, indeed, boasted a formal unity. Under the nominal leadership of the Holy Roman Emperor was grouped the greater part of what is now Germany and Austria. In an earlier day his suzerainty had extended over parts of northern Italy, and in the hope of reviving and making good the ancient claims to that peninsula lay the seeds of long and bloody rivalries which, with like visions of France and Spain, were to disturb Europe for centuries. But the The Empire authority of the Emperor was at all times limited by the exigencies of the moment, and the strength of his own character and possessions. His dignity was but a name, and, however he was able at times to transmute it into fact, whatever intangible influence it possessed over men's minds, it, remained a variable quantity in Europe's affairs. The imperial power was already on the wane, and such strength as it had rested rather on the hereditary possessions of the house of Hapsburg, which held the title, than upon the shadowy tradition of its ancient Roman ascendancy.

The Empire did not find its only problem in Burgundy, for central Europe, at the middle of the fifteenth century, was no less divided against itself than the western states. So low had imperial authority sunk, owing to the weakness of its possessors and the decline in the fortunes of the house of Hapsburg, that Bohemia and Hungary had achieved recognition of their independence. The latter had begun a career of expansion which was presently to lead to the occupation of the Austrian capital itself; and in the general disorganization even lesser states assumed pretensions which they could ill have supported in more quiet times.

Central Europe

Yet, weak as it was, the imperial authority was the only bond of union among the hundreds of virtually independent and often absurdly petty German sovereignties, whose indescribable medley of conflicting claims and authority bred an administrative chaos, and whose almost universal principle of dividing their lands among the heirs of successive sovereigns reduced most of them to impotence. In this situation, princes, nobles, cities, and districts formed leagues to defend or advance their interests. Larger and more ambitious states, like the electorates, so called because their rulers chose the Emperor, took advantage of the situation to extend their territory and influence at the expense of their lesser neighbors and even of the Empire itself. Some, like Brandenburg, learning the lesson of unity, adopted a policy of primogeniture and indivisibility of lands which was to bring great rewards for the future; and all entered upon an era of unrest and almost constant strife.

If possible, southern and eastern Europe was in worse case than the rest of the continent. In Italy the rivalries among the petty principalities of the north, the Papal states in the center, and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the south, was but temporarily checked by the peace which the Turkish terror imposed. Only the divisions among her neighbors preserved Italy from foreign intervention; and her chaotic situation remained no less of a menace to the peace of Europe than to the Italians themselves. At the same time the long line of Venetian and Genoese possessions in the Levant offered to the Turkish conquerors a prize even more tempting than Black Sea and Balkan provinces, and one after the other they fell into the invader's hands.

Italy and the Balkan Peninsula

For the district north of the Black Sea there was already another aspirant. Two centuries earlier the Mongols had overrun that great steppe region and laid the Slavic principalities still farther north under tribute. Since then the power of the Tartar horde had gradually declined as the result of internal dissensions, and the Slav states, emerging from its suzerainty, were now busy consolidating their territory under the names of Muscovy or Russia, and PolandLithuania. But they freed themselves from the Tartar only to face the Turk, against whom, for two centuries more, they and the imperial Hapsburg power were to contend with varying success, playing the part of a bulwark agaist Asia, which the city that had just fallen had borne heroically for nearly a thousand years.

Russia, Poland and Lithuania


Such was the political situation which confronted Europe at the moment that the Turks, in capturing Constantinople, broke down the last barrier which stood between them and the complete domination of the Balkan peninsula. But it was not alone against Turk and Arab and Mongol that the continent was called upon to contend in the long conflict which was to make Europeans the masters of the world. Great as it was, the political disruption and disorder within her frontiers was not the only nor perhaps even the most

Social and Intellectual Europe in 1453

dangerous foe of Europe. Not so dramatic, but of far wider and deeper consequence to her future was the intellectual and social condition of her people, their ignorance and superstition, their poverty and those ruder habits which we associate with a lower stage of civilization, and, beneath all of these, an apparent incapacity to attain higher levels of achievement and understanding. If she was to rise, these were the first hindrances to be removed. It is necessary, therefore, to describe in some detail the social, economic, and intellectual situation in which Europe found herself, that we may comprehend the problem which lay before her and understand the steps by which she emerged from mediŠval to modern conditions.

It is probable that some time between the ninth and the eleventh centuries Europeans had reached the lowest point in civilization which occurred between classical times and those of the modern world. The situation which confronted them at the beginning of the eleventh century was the natural, perhaps the inevitable result of the conditions which arose from the conquest of the lands and peoples of the Roman Empire by the Teutonic tribes. These, with all their strength and virtues, had, at the time of their irruption into the classical world, achieved only the most rudimentary civilization. They were pre-eminently hunters and warriors, and they carried with them into their new environment many of the qualities and institutions which had made them what they were. Of the fundamental industries they knew little, of the higher arts infinitely less than the majority of the peoples whom they subdued. They imposed themselves as a ruling class and held their conquests for generations as a garrison, amalgamating but slowly with the conquered. Thus they became an aristocracy, lords of the soil, collectors of tribute in labor or kind, dispensers of justice, and masters of government. Their leaders became nobles, the mass of their followers freemen, the conquered population in large measure serfs or even slaves.

The results of the Germanic Invasions

In consequence, with the coming of the German invaders of the fourth and fifth centuries, the mode of life which had

The Dark Ages

prevailed among the upper classes of what had probably been the most comfortable as well as the most luxurious society thus far in human history, that of the later Roman Empire, disappeared in large measure throughout the greater part of Europe. In the rude life of the imperfectly civilized conquerors material as well as intellectual necessities were reduced to low terms; and if the scale of daily life be any test of civilization, Europe as a whole declined enormously after the fall of the Roman Empire. Despite the great contributions made by the Teutonic peoples to many departments of human activity, to government, to liberty, in later times to art and letters, as well as to science and religion, the recovery from the first shock of their invasion was slow indeed. The society which rose from their entry into the Empire was essentially military and agricultural, selfcentered and self-sustaining and so tending toward that form of organization known as particularism, or the ascendancy of local over general interests. It was prevented from following the modes of life and thought which marked the more highly organized and cultured Roman society which the Teutons had overthrown, first by the persistence of the conquerors' own customs and their contempt for the habits of a defeated foe, later by their religion which cut them off from contact with a pagan past, and at all times by the circumstances in which they found themselves. This last, indeed, conditioned the whole problem of the reorganization of European society.

For as wave after wave of migrating peoples swept across great areas of Europe, as Lombard succeeded Goth in Italy, as Northman followed Frank into France, as Dane and Norman in turn brought Anglo-Saxon under their domination in England, and as the hordes of Asia followed, pressing hard upon the heels of these invasions, many forces operated to re-mold men's lives. Little by little the influence of the Christian church of Rome replaced paganism and the rival Christian sects from the Greek Catholicism of Constantinople on the east to Celtic Christianity on the west. Little by little society tended to divide itself into two classes, the noble and

The reshaping of Europe --the Church and feudalism

the non-noble, proprietor and tenant, lord and peasant. Little by little government tended to associate itself with landholding; and, as the middle ages went on, the institution of feudalism spread gradually through the continent. It was a form of society and government based on the possession of land, in which the lower classes were bound to the soil and looked to their lords for protection, justice, and some measure of order, in return for their services as tillers of the soil or followers in war. In turn the lord was bound to his overlord by obligation of military service, and the feudal chain led, in theory at least, to the king himself. In practice such a system came to be too often an excuse for private war and pillage; and, with all its nobler features which centered in the institution of chivalry, it remained a menace to the common peace and the greatest obstacle to the establishment of settled government over wide areas.

Moreover, feudalism was productive of a system of society which overspread western Europe with a multitude of estates or manors. Here, for the most part, the lesser nobility lived, and many of them, like their superiors, possessed one or more castles, built for defense, surrounded by the cottages of their tenants, and forming independent and almost wholly selfsupporting social and economic units. Here and there, at places convenient for military purposes or more often for trade, had risen towns, many dating from even pre-Roman times, walled and moated like the castles. Scattered no less widely over the continent, as time went on, were monastic houses, often of great magnificence, surrounded by the lands belonging to the order which they represented. About them, too, had not seldom grown up villages like those about the castles. To the great landlords, nobles and clergy alike, belonged not merely the land but the chief public utilities of that simple agricultural society, the mill at which the grain was ground, the smithy at which the tools and armor were made or repaired, often the ovens in which the bread was baked. Under their lords' direction roads were kept up by the tenants, to the nobles and monastic orders went the tolls and charges of the trade carried on within their

Society in the Middle Ages--the feudal domains

domains, by pedlars or by fairs, which brought them in touch with the outside world.

Gradually the towns emancipated themselves from this overlordship. Their industry and commerce were chiefly carried on through the instrumentality of corporations or guilds. These were, in effect, associations of labor or capital or both,--closely organized bodies of men engaged in the same pursuit, weavers, smiths, leather and metal workers of many sorts,--rigidly differentiated by trades and interests. In many cases the larger towns had made terms with the invaders at the beginning, or won a certain measure of independence from their nominal feudal lords, and so governed themselves through their own corporations at the price of tribute to their feudal superiors. From them went out the traders to the fairs, small and great, which throughout the middle ages formed the chief means of exchange, to the castles and monasteries and villages; and in them was collected such body of capital, material, and skill as the times boasted.

The towns

But trade and even manufacturing were hampered by the very institutions which in a sense made them possible, as well as by the dominant agricultural and feudal elements of society. The guilds promoted and at the same time restricted production. The nobles protected and at the same time levied often exorbitant taxes on the towns and tolls on the merchants who passed through their lands. Outside of a few centers, there were no accumulations of capital to finance large enterprises, and even those accumulations seem almost insignificant to modern eyes. Above all, there was no great common commercial interest. MediŠval Europe was provincial beyond modern conceptions, and, apart from a small class, but little removed from the economic disorder incident to the wreck of Roman civilization.

The social and intellectual conditions evolved under this feudal rÚgime did even less to improve the general situation of the people than the political system which it produced. Knowing little and demanding less of the world outside their own narrow bounds, the feudal estates which sprang from the conquest were in no small degree sufficient to themselves not only for their own administration but for their own support. They not merely lent themselves to local rivalries which made for almost incessant private war and so prevented the spread of the arts of peace in whose development lies the greater part of progress; but the demand for ideas in a society like that which they produced was virtually negligible. In consequence the growth of a desire for things which they could not supply from their own rude resources, as for the establishment of a settled peace which would enable men to engage in manufacturing and commerce to meet or create a demand for the refinements of life, was extremely slow. The development of the conceptions and desires which come as the result of intercommunication by trade and travel was slower still; while the scarcity of precious metals and the absence of any general system of exchange or any tendency toward far-reaching enterprises further handicapped economic development.

The older traditions of civilized society, indeed, lingered here and there in districts not wholly submerged by the invaders and among the clergy, who by precept and example encouraged a higher scale of material existence in this world while preparing men for the world to come. Thanks largely to them there had been spread through Europe during the middle ages something of that older tradition off living which, with the culture of the Greek and Roman world, had survived in the Byzantine Empire, and, to a less degree, in Italy after the barbarian invasions. But nearly everywhere these higher tastes and habits were exotic. Nearly everywhere commerce, manufacturing, and even agriculture during the earlier mediŠval period were in an elementary stage of development. In spite of the progress made after the successive shocks of invasion had spent themselves, in general men lived and administered their affairs on a lower plane in the twelfth century than they had in the first. Though it is probable that an equal force of mediŠval warriors would have proved themselves superior in arms if not in discipline to even a Roman legion, the arts of peace had been far from keeping pace with the developments in those of war, while in com-

Feudal culture

parison with the Roman system of government, law, and culture the achievements of the men of the middle ages were all but insignificant.

Moreover, the homelier activities of daily life suffered great, if unequal, retrogression. Not only were many of the facilities for comfort and luxury which were familiar to the ancients not employed, they were not even known. Most of the ordinary arts and crafts had declined from disuse in like proportion with the amenities of civilized life. Europeans during the so-called "dark ages" between the fifth and the eleventh centuries were, indeed, far removed from mere savagery, but they lacked a large part of that skill in handicraft which had distinguished the later Roman world and was not extinct among the older civilizations of the east.

The arts and crafts

Of the fundamental industries, cloth-making and metalworking, the first had made some progress. Weaving in wool and flax was fairly well understood, but silk and cotton were still beyond European resources and skill, almost beyond the knowledge of the greater part of the continent. Despite the universal use of armor and weapons, the triumphs of steel-making remained in Arab hands; and Toledo shared with Damascus the mastery of its closely guarded secrets, until the Italian craftsmen, especially those of Milan, began to challenge that supremacy. In building, the castle and the cathedral witnessed unusual capacity in the service of war and religion, but the hovels of the poor made the peasants little more than brothers to the ox; and even the furnishings of the rich scarcely surpassed the resources of mere barbarians, save where Oriental standards or the remnants of classical influences supplied the means and tastes for a higher form of existence. The same was measurably true in many other fields. Sheep-raising had progressed as kitchen-gardening all but disappeared. Sanitation vanished with the decline of cooking and cleanliness; and there was probably not a good piece of road-making done in Europe for more than a thousand years after the fall of the western Roman Empire.


Much men might have learned from the great civilizations whose monuments they saw about them adorning half the continent. But classical literature, its learning, its arts, even its handicrafts, by the twelfth century had been buried so long that there were few or none in Europe who even knew, much less who were competent to reproduce any of its achievements. Among the unfortunate results of the barbarian conquests and the conversion of the Germanic invaders to Christianity, this separation from the classical culture was probably the most serious. For Europe had been compelled to begin again, almost from the bottom, to build a new structure of society, unaided by the experience of the past in many important particulars. The influence of the Church in the Middle Ages

This situation was not wholly due to the limitations imposed by uncultured feudalism, nor to the ignorance of those who practised it. Some of the loss of contact with the achievements of the past must be charged to the account of that organization which in many fields remained the great civilizing influence of the middle ages--the church of Rome. If the chief effect of feudalism had been to produce political chaos, the principal result of the conversion of the west by Rome was ecclesiastical unity. The organization which owed its origin to the teachings of the carpenter Jesus of Nazareth, and its beginnings to the energy of the Galilean fisherman Peter, had altered mightily by the fifteenth century from that humble company of apostles whose faith and works had spread its teachings through the Mediterranean world.

The Church and the unity of Europe

It had early divided into two great communions, the eastern or Greek, and the western or Roman church, the one with its seat at Constantinople, the other at the old capital of the western empire. The latter, in particular, had developed under the guidance of a capable and devoted succession of leaders into an organization scarcely inferior to the old empire whose traditions of world dominion it had carried into the field of religion. It had converted the peoples of the continent west of the Vistula to its faith. It had spread a network of territorial and administrative arrangements into every corner of the new Roman Empire of the Church. If feudalism had covered the continent with lordships and manors, which made for dissension and disorganization, Rome, with its system of archbishops, bishops, and priests, with their dioceses and parishes, had bound every district and every individual directly to itself in a unity comparable only to that of the political organism whose genius it had inherited.

To this it had added the monastic system by which its secular or territorial clergy were reinforced; and, toward the close of the middle ages, it had again strengthened its hold by orders of wandering preachers or friars, who supplemented the work of regulars and seculars alike. All these were subject to the Papacy, in discipline and doctrine; the Vatican claimed, and in no small measure made good its claim, to superiority over the lay princes of the continent, as the chief arbiter of Christendom. Rome became again the capital of western Europe, exercising a dominance over men's minds and beliefs no less centralized and effective than the political ascendancy she had wielded a thousand years earlier,--and not without a certain considerable measure even of that more worldly authority. Roma caput mundi, Rome the head of the world, became true once more under the church, as it had been under the republic and the Empire. As to her were summoned the intellectual and artistic as well as the spiritual resources of Italy, still the most civilized portion of the continent, so from Rome they were disseminated by the marvelous organization of the church throughout the Papal See. And, in no small degree, these, too, strengthened her hold upon her spiritual subjects.

Roman caput mundi

This ecclesiastical conquest of those peoples before whose arms her political power had collapsed, was, indeed, in many respects a fortunate circumstance for Europe, even apart from the spiritual contribution which the Christian faith made to her peoples. It gave a sense of solidarity to Europeans as against the other races of the world, which neither feudalism nor the Empire afforded, and which came to be a powerful force in their conflicts with extra-European peoples. It provided a common meeting-place for men of all tongues and tribes. In more senses than one it maintained a common standard of life and thought among the diverse elements of which European society was composed, especially after the barbarian invasions. It acted as a link between the old imperial and the tribal system, between Roman and Germanic ideals and practices, which enabled Europe in some measure to combine the two into a new form of polity and society.

Its intellectual contribution was of like kind. Despite its opposition to the paganism of the classical as well as that of the barbarian world, it did much to preserve those parts of the ancient culture which were not antagonistic to its own faith and practice. It maintained Latin as the universal language of educated Europe. It preserved even while it modified the Roman legal tradition, forms, and phraseology. For some centuries it kept some knowledge of Greek. It continued the Roman legal tradition in the modified form of canon law. It kept alive the transmission of knowledge by the art of writing; it was the patron of music and architecture, and, in some sense, of literature. Long after the study of Greek decayed before the theological objections to pagan thought, the influence of Aristotle persisted as the dominant force in European intellectual processes. Long after Virgil was abandoned for the same reasons, the tongue in which he wrote was the common means of communication among the peoples of the continent, and so maintained a unity which would otherwise have been lost.

In many other directions the ecclesiastical influence worked for the perpetuation and the advance of civilization. The monasteries cleared and improved vast tracts of land and practised the principles of Roman husbandry. Monasteries and cathedrals alike carried on and encouraged schools and such education as they afforded; gave employment to artists, architects, and copyists; provided a refuge for men desiring to pursue an intellectual as well as a religious life. The monasteries in particular furnished entertainment for the

Its limitations

traveler and succor for the needy and the sick. The church preserved, even if it neglected, the manuscripts of the classical world. And, in a thousand ways it ameliorated the harsh and unenlightened rÚgime established by the Germanic conquerors, no less through its efforts toward checking feudal quarrels and private war than by the pressure it exerted directly and indirectly upon the rulers of the middle ages. Without its softening and civilizing influence the dark ages would have remained mere savagery, perhaps Europe would never have recovered from the collapse of the ancient world.

But with all this great service, with all its material, intellectual, and its spiritual influence, there came a time when the church began to act as a brake upon progress, when faith overpowered intelligence, and what had been almost if not quite the only force making for the preservation and increase of intellectual achievement became a hindrance to the mind and spirit of Europe. For as the domination of the church grew stronger, it narrowed. Theology became its chief intellectual concern, logic its chief intellectual weapon, and the life to come its chief if not its only concern. In all fields which were not touched by theological considerations it remained a power for good; but with the development of its doctrines into irrefutable dogma, with the increase of its worldly strength and wealth, there came an inevitable decline in its intellectual openness. The mysteries of nature became the secrets of God, and so insoluble. Authority became the enemy of investigation; the true faith the irreconcilable foe not merely of heresy but of the paganism which it had conquered. In consequence, the writings of the classical world came first into neglect, then into disrepute, and finally under proscription. What little knowledge there was of scientific methods and results followed the same course, and man was thrown back upon himself as at once the source and the end of all knowledge, upon the Scriptures and the commentaries as the sole fount of inspiration, the church as the sole arbiter of intellectual as well as spiritual questions, and conformity to its decisions as the guide of life and thought.

The Church and science

Moreover, whatever its divine origin, however true its faith, the church tended to develop those imperfections inevitable to any human organization unchecked by effective criticism. Through the gifts of the faithful it came to absorb a considerable part of the wealth of the lands into which it penetrated, and as a corporation which never died, its right of mortmain, or the dead hand, removed great tracts of land and great stores of property from circulation and public service, limiting at once the strength of temporal rulers and the development of industry. Finally the natural tendency of such an organization to demand assent to its principles and practices as the price of membership in society bred a conventionalism in almost every department of life which hampered the development not alone of spiritual but of intellectual and even of material activities. As a consequence, the later middle ages found Europe conditioned not only by the demands of the feudal rÚgime but by the scarcely less obstructive power of an intrenched ecclesiasticism. From an organization which laid stress upon souls and obedience rather than on mind and investigation there could never come the intellectual achievement upon which depended the progress of mankind. It was necessary to substitute for the idea of conformity the principle of diversity before that advance was possible; and in this substitution lay the germ of that revolution which was to remold the world.

Yet there was little enough in the superficial aspect of European affairs or of European culture at the beginning of the fifteenth century which promised either social or political revolution. There was still less which presaged great spiritual or ecclesiastical change. The continent was, indeed, nominally Christian save for outlying territories like the southern third of the Iberian peninsula or the vast steppes north of the Black Sea. Perhaps, in one sense, it was more devoted to that faith than now. But, apart from her lessening hold upon the minds of men, however great her contribution to the spiritual side of human existence, however profound her influence there remained, the great work which the early church had done in the cause of material civilization was all but over. Her mandate in that field at least was Its decline all but exhausted. What she had brought to the barbarians who overthrew the old classical civilization, of the culture and arts they had so nearly destroyed, had long since become a part of European experience. She had not merely ceased to contribute greatly to the intellectual advance of the continent. She was no longer a considerable factor in the material prosperity which she had so greatly served in the days when her members were scarcely less apostles of improved agriculture, stone architecture, drainage, and cattlebreeding, than they were the promoters of learning and literature, the teachers and enforcers of a moral code, and the heralds of a new and purer faith.

As, little by little, the church had extended its influence into nearly every department of existence, it had impressed the culture which it had preserved with the stamp of its own character, and the civilization which it had done so much to produce possessed the defects as well as the virtues of its qualities. As the middle of the fifteenth century approached, in the face of the slowly altering tastes and habits of Europe, the defects came to bulk larger than the virtues in the minds of many men. In a changing world the church remained in a state of relatively arrested development, and its too rigid and inflexible adherence to its great tradition brought it into variance with the new spirit of the times. Like feudalism, it had outlived its generation; and unless, like the political system which was even then beginning to adapt itself to new ideas and new conditions, ecclesiasticism took on new form and spirit, it was only a question of time till it would find itself at variance with general if not universal tendencies.

This condition was evident in many fields. In architecture, with its glory of the heaven-aspiring Gothic arch, its miracles of fretted stone, the middle ages, indeed, advanced beyond the classic pediment and arch. But the greatest triumphs of the sculptor's art,--and Gothic sculpture in its higher ranges revealed great beauty and skill,--much less the grotesques in which the mediŠval artists found characteristic expression, despite their quaint and hideous fascination of perverted fancy, scarcely rivaled the triumphs of Phidias

MediŠval culture --Art

and Praxiteles. In two directions, indeed, mediŠval craftsmen excelled. The one was their love of nature which expressed itself in the ornamentation of all their work in stone and metal. The other was their skill not only in the carving which adorned their buildings, but in their gold and silver productions, and in wrought iron. Here they were scarcely surpassed by any men before or since.

But the same was not true of the pictorial art. Whether materials failed them, or whether this lay chiefly in the hands of those imbued with ecclesiastical influence, there was a great gulf fixed between the triumphs of the stone and metalworkers and the puerile efforts of the painters. The elaborate illumination of missal and manuscript ill endured comparison with even the wall paintings of Roman villa decorators, much less with the lost masterpieces of Apelles and his successors. In every field where formal ecclesiasticism had made itself supreme "the substitution of conventionalism for sympathy with observed life," which is "the first characteristic of the hopeless work of all ages," "the barbarism from which nothing could emerge and for which no future was possible but extinction," had blocked every avenue of advance. For such workers "the world was keyless," for they "had built cells for themselves in which they were barred up forever." From such labors only the "living barbarism" of new thought and action could save the world, only a return to nature and a rejection of convention could preserve them.

If this condition was most conspicuous on the material side of life, it was no less characteristic and even more important in other fields. Music which, like literature, had been impressed for the most part into the service of the church, found itself confined to a single line of development and that not the one best adapted to its manifold capacities or appeal. With all their ingenuity and their summons to a purer faith, the writings of the church fathers poorly supplied in style or content the loss of Greek and Roman philosophy, which, save for Aristotle, had gradually disappeared from men's knowledge as ecclesiastical influence strengthened and narrowed. Still less could the church historians, bent on justify-

Music and literature

ing the ways of God to man, fill the place of Livy or Tacitus, Herodotus or Thucydides. The crude turgidity of late Latin versifiers, and the cruder imagination of the miracle plays, were feeble substitutes for Virgil and Homer, the great triumvirate of the Greek masters of tragedy, the mockery of Aristophanes, or the undying charm of Horace and Pindar, Catullus and Sappho. Even the Scriptures, on which the church based its intellectual as well as its spiritual existence, had been almost as deeply submerged under the notes of the commentators as the classical masterpieces had been buried under the mass of mediŠval theology. Finally the formal logic of Aristotle, supplemented by a concentrated devotion to theology and presently converted into scholasticism, extended its barren empire over men's minds and sterilized their processes of thought, even while it sharpened their intelligence. For, with all its contribution to intellectual progress, it divorced men from the realities of life, and led them to believe that truth was to be achieved only by the exercise of the unaided intelligence, without observation, experiment, or that quality of vision and common-sense which embraces them all.

From this situation Europeans might possibly have been saved by the study of the classics. But as little by little these had been discredited as pagan, the manuscripts which held the wisdom of the ancient world were too often neglected or destroyed, or turned to the uses of monastic chroniclers or accountants. Scholars degenerated into schoolmen. Science lost itself in the morasses of alchemy or astrology and became anathema to the faithful. Philosophy was overpowered by theology, and this world gave place to the next as the chief concern of learned men. Speculation replaced investigation, words took the place of facts, and mind endeavored to produce from itself that knowledge and understanding which only comes from the intellect working upon material outside itself or in a medium not wholly intangible.

The triumph of scholasticism over the classics

It was, then, in their intellectual limitations that the deficiencies of the Europeans of the eleventh century were most serious. Their knowledge of the great scientific heritage, which is the conspicuous feature of man's present intellectual eminence, was all but wanting. Their ignorance of the planet which they inhabited was only equaled by that of the past from whence they sprung. It was exceeded by their ignorance of the heavens which they saw and of the complex organism which they were. Save for a superficial acquaintance with water, earth, air, and the products which their slender powers drew from those elements, or from a slight connection with their fellows in other lands, nature and art were almost equal mysteries. Mohammedanism, though it had tended to check the development of plastic and pictorial arts among its followers, especially by its opposition to representing the human face and figure, had left the realm of nature free to its investigators. Among them the Koran had not played the part of the Bible in Christendom. But in Christian Europe the reverse had been largely true. All the learning of the thirteenth century friar, Roger Bacon, "the father of science," had not saved him from imprisonment for dealings with the devil by the black arts of physics and chemistry. All the skill of his contemporary, the physicianastrologer, Arnaud de Villeneuve, had not averted the censure of the church from one who held that medicine and charity were as pleasing to God as religious services. The laws of nature were not merely unknown but unsuspected by minds which referred all natural phenomena to the direct action of an omnipotent and inscrutable deity. The church was allpowerful, and until ecclesiastical and popular prejudice was converted, conquered, or defied, all progress in unraveling the secrets of the universe was effectually barred.

It is not surprising in this state of affairs that biology and its kindred subjects were non-existent. As among the Arabs, the basic science of chemistry was still in the stage when alchemists devoted their slender gifts to the search for the philosopher's stone, which could transmute base into precious metals. Medicine, which had developed some method in Arab hands, among Europeans who lacked knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and therapeutics alike, depended on the simplest of old-wife herbalists, or the chance of fantastic compounds

The sciences

worthy of central Africa mumbo-jumbo men. Surgery was scarcely better, and the knowledge of the existence of the organs of the human body led to little more understanding of their functions than grotesque and misleading fancies of their attributes and uses.

This was the more important on account of the situation in which Europe found itself during the so-called dark ages. The subject of human diseases is not one which we approach with pleasurable anticipation or linger upon with any enjoyment; yet, in the reckoning up of the influences which have made for modern civilization and the changes which have taken place during the long development of the race it is necessary to consider no less the ills which men have endured and from which they have in some measure escaped than the joys which they have attained. It is probable that never in its history was mankind so cursed with epidemic diseases as it was during the middle ages. Europeans had passed beyond the relatively healthy stage of outdoor savagery in their habits of life without learning any of the lessons of civilization necessary to existence in the more crowded conditions imposed by residence within the fortified places where continual war compelled them to reside. Sanitation and hygiene, the simplest of medical treatment, were unknown, the movement of population tended only to disseminate disease, and war added its epidemics as well as its casualties to increase mortality and disfigurement.

The epidemics

The consequence was a succession of plagues which almost baffles description and certainly horrifies the imagination. Leprosy, scurvy, influenza, ergotism, and above all the socalled Black Death decimated the population of the continent and, what was perhaps worse, crippled the efficiency of uncounted thousands of those who survived. How great was the calamity may be judged from the fact that it is calculated a fourth of the population of the earth, some sixty millions of human beings, perished in the Black Death of the fourteenth century. Strangely enough, for a variety of reasons, this terrible visitation seems to have died out in the years which saw the rise of the new learning and the discovery of the new world. That discovery, however, brought new and scarcely less virulent scourges on Europe in the form of the bubonic plague from the east, and yellow fever from the west.

The development of medicine for many years scarcely kept pace with the progress of disease. For though the health of Europe probably improved during the, sixteenth century owing to the advance in cleanliness as well as in medical science with its new methods, knowledge, and remedies, it fell far short of even the low standards of later times. In two directions the fifteenth century contributed much to this development. The one was the establishment of the principle of quarantine, either general or local in the form of pesthouses, lazarettos, or leper settlements. By such means many dangerous and highly contagious diseases, in particular leprosy, were checked or even eradicated. The other was the improvement in habits, which, however slow, gradually raised the standard of health and morals alike.


Nor were the sciences dependent on mathematics, which had reached no small development among the eastern nations, in much better case. Mathematics itself comprehended scarcely more than the simplest of arithmetical operation, with some slight tincture of plane geometry, whose symbols were too often better known as the incantations of astrology than as the expression of intellectual processes. At the same time that astronomy was winning new triumphs in Arab hands, the European knowledge of the heavens was circumscribed at once by the limitations of human senses and by a theology which made the earth the center of the universe, and man the sole concern of the Creator. It was still further perverted by superstition, which, not content with peopling the earth with all manner of superhuman creatures, from fairies to hobgoblins, pixies and gnomes, witches and elves, saw in the stars the determining elements of human fortunes.


Even geography was formalized in learned hands to utter impotence; and the knowledge of the world outside Europe, as well as great parts of even that continent, was crystallized into impossible conventions. That the earth was globular was not even suspected. Men fought or traded with such eastern peoples as found their way to European borders, or from the western shores looked out across the Atlantic to infinity. But in neither direction, save for the effort to regain the holy city of Christendom, Jerusalem, from the infidel, and the occasional expeditions of some adventurous or devoted spirits into the wild wastes of the north Atlantic, had Europeans made serious attempts to penetrate the secrets of the outside world.

They were, indeed, poorly equipped for such an enterprise. Their knowledge of navigation was elementary in the extreme. They were still in the coasting stage of development. The compass was half known as an aid to navigation, half feared as black magic, and wholly undeveloped as a scientific instrument. Neither in size, draught, nor construction were their vessels designed for long commercial voyages in the open sea; and they had still to learn the art of tacking or sailing across or against the wind. Though the almost incredible daring and seamanship of the Norsemen--to whom the beginnings of this art were attributed --had carried their slender craft about the coasts of the continent and across the Atlantic to Greenland or even America, though adventurous fishermen may have found their way to Newfoundland, these bold spirits had contributed little to the commerce or the enlightenment of their fellows. They had contributed still less to permanent progress; for their occasional visits to strange lands beyond the sea had been rather like those of eagles or fish-hawks than the steady advance of human conquest or migration.


Thus to the limitations imposed by her political and ecclesiastical system Europe added an ignorance of the still all but uncharted realm of nature whose mystery and power had hitherto been more feared than any human foe. Without the conquest of the knowledge of the earth and its resources, of the heavens, of natural laws, of man's own structure and powers, of the wisdom of the preceding generations, the success of the relatively few and feeble European people against the other races of the world would have been impossible; and, had impossibility been overcome, it would have been barren of permanent result. Without the emancipation of her intelligence Europe and mankind generally would have remained subject to those forces whose mastery has added more to human capacity, resources, and comfort in the last five hundred years than in all preceding time.

Such an enterprise in conception and result was of far greater moment than any of the conflicts of arms and diplomacy by which it was accompanied. Its captains included men in nearly every department of human activity--scholars and scientists, merchants and adventurers, rulers and conquerors, explorers, inventors, engineers, philosophers and theologians. Their triumphs lay less in the destruction of their fellow-men--though this was not wanting--than in the extension of human faculties, the increase of man's ability to comprehend and do, the conquest of new realms of thought and power no less than new lands, which was to make man less the servant than the master of his environment.

The problem of reconstruction

It was essential, if Europe was to grow, that, beside the alterations in her knowledge and power she should take steps to throw off the shackles of political and ecclesiastical organization, give freer rein to individual initiative and ability, provide a more open way for the talents and a wider and more secure field for their exercise than was afforded by the feudal system and the mediŠval church. For of the various disabilities under which her people labored in the period now coming to an end, three were probably the most inimical to progress,--a social and political organization provocative of particularism and private war, an intellectual habit largely circumscribed by theological and ecclesiastical limitation, and a decreasing facility for relatively quick, easy, and safe interchange of goods and ideas. Each of these in its own way enforced conformity to general or local authority, and so made for stagnation, material and intellectual. They not merely checked the unity and mobility so characteristic of the Roman world; they interfered with the development of mankind on almost every side of his varied nature, breeding a provincialism which long remained the principal obstacle to progress in nearly every field of human endeavor. If the spirit which dominated the middle ages had prevailed, if it had been able to crush the protest which it continually provoked from those classes and individuals on whom it bore most severely, Europe would scarcely have been able to emerge from the impasse in which she found herself.


But, fortunately for Europe and for the world, there was prepared in the later mediŠval period a revolution in her affairs and thought comparable to that which, a thousand years earlier had set the continent on another stage of her development as a result of the barbarian invasions. For the spirit of protest against convention, like the impulse to look deeper into the mysteries of the universe, had been gruwing steadily for nearly three hundred years before the fall of Constantinople. Amid the forces of reaction and the dead weight of ignorance and superstition the leaven of a great change slowly made its way, and as the fifteenth century came on it began to make itself clearly felt in many directions. Little by little it became evident that, soon or late, it must come into sharp and decisive conflict with the spirit of authority, and that upon the result of that conflict would hang the future of the world. There was even some ground to hope that the new forces might prevail. However hopeless the political situation of Europe in the mid-fifteenth century appeared, it was not quite so hopeless as it seemed. Amid its weakness and dissension certain elements, though for the moment they contributed rather to confusion than to regeneration, offered more promise of future stability than the apparently aimless turmoil of selfish and conflicting interests indicated. Amid the ambitions of princely houses, and to a far greater degree outside their ranks, other forces than those which made for anarchy were slowly struggling into power. Beneath the surface of ecclesiastical uniformity enforced by the church there were being developed still other forces which had already threatened the unity of Roman

The Revival --elements of strength

Christendom. And in the success or failure of those factors lay the possibility of reform, even of revolution, intellectual no less than spiritual.

The movements toward regeneration were still more evident in fields beyond the bounds of politics, even, in some measure beyond those of religion. As early as the twelfth century there had begun that activity in the realm of intellect which bade fair to revolutionize at least one phase of European activity; and that movement had gathered impetus in the succeeding years, till by the time of the fall of Constantinople it had become one of the principal forces in the European world. During the fourteenth century, Italy, and then Europe generally, had felt the influence of Dante, who, fusing classical and mediŠval tradition in the fire of his genius, had drawn thence his epic vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, the great trilogy of the Divine Comedy. That epochmaking work, reminiscent of the past, penetrated with the philosophy and theology, the social and moral indignation of his own time, was prophetic of a great future. To it he added writings on monarchy, and his Vita Nuova, love-songs to his ideal mistress, Beatrice, which struck a new note in literature, and gave to the nascent Italian, or "vulgar tongue," an impetus which set it presently on even terms with the long dominant Latin as a medium of literary expression. Following him the fourteenth century was amused by the diverting tales of Boccaccio which found a permanent place in world literature; and it was inspired by the sonnets of Petrarch, with which the Italian language and European letters entered on a new plane as well as a new stage of their development.

The beginnings of the Renaissance --Italy



In France, meanwhile, the period which began with the twelfth century saw the rise of the Roman de Rou, and the Roman de la Rose, which followed the troubadours' tales of chivalry, and made French rather than Provenšal the national tongue, To them succeeded Froissart Chronicles which, immortalizing the great deeds of the Anglo-French wars, contributed to the same end. At the same time, in Germany, the epics of the Niebelungen Lied and Gudrun

The literary revival


preserved the traditions and romance of old Teutonic life, mingled, as in France and England, with the stories of Charlemagne and his paladins, of Arthur and his knights, and the undying legend of the search for the Holy Grail. The productions of the minnesingers, of the wandering students,--the so-called goliardists,--infused at once a new vitality into the language and the spirit of letters. In England the Vision of Piers Plowman voiced that protest of the downtrodden which was to be the motive of much future social advance; while the humane and humorous genius of Chaucer, in his Canterbury Tales, brought letters into close touch with life, and made English, like French and Italian, a literary tongue. At the same time the Scandinavians with their recensions of the sagas or heroic tales of the Vikings, gods and heroes, furnished another element to that movement which, by the beginning of the fifteenth century, found Europe provided with a body of literature, which took the place of the all but forgotten classical masterpieces, and at least in popular appeal, far surpassed the achievements of the churchmen.

c. 1362

? 1340-1400

It found her no less equipped with new and vigorous tongues, which, though they tended to break down the unity preserved by universal Latin, offered means of expression and possibilities of development impossible to a language which had ceased to grow. Latin was, indeed, far from extinct; and long remained the medium of communication among the learned of the whole continent. In it Dante composed his treatise on monarchy. In it scholars and scientists like Roger Bacon appealed against the dogmas of theology. In it reformers like Wiclif and Huss endeavored to rouse their fellows against the intrenched abuses of the ecclesiastical establishment. But the future belonged to the vernaculars. It was in them that the new literary movement found expression, and in them that the great preachers appealed to their countrymen. Into them they translated the Scriptures; and the appearance of the Bible in separate tongues, beside being a literary and linguistic event of the first magnitude, made the first breach between the old and new theology which

Language --Latin and the vernaculars

was the determining characteristic alike of a new age of faith and of intellect.

The advance of Europe between the so-called twelfth century renaissance and the mid-fifteenth century was by no means confined to letters. During those years the way was prepared scarcely less in the every-day business of life for the transition which, at the moment of the fall of Constantinople, was beginning to make itself felt in every phase of European affairs. This, was the product, in no small degree, of those alterations in habits to which we are apt to give the name of progress. In spite of the relative stagnation of the early middle ages as compared with the commercial activity of the ancient world, considerable advances were made in trade and communication between the fifth and the twelfth centuries. The world moved slowly, it is true, but it moved. And the great counter-stroke of Europe against Asia, the Crusades, which began in the latter period, stimulated improvement in communication and the knowledge of many things previously little considered by western Europeans. With them, indeed, it may be said that a new era begins; for they projected into the provincialism of the west, the goods, the ideas, and, what was of no less importance, the romance of the east. That process was continued and enlarged during the succeeding era, until Europe was familiar at least with the Levant and north Africa, and was not without some notion of the products of the lands that lay beyond.

Revival of commerce

Thus, though inferior in many respects to the Romans of the Empire, the men of the fifteenth century were prepared to make, use, and enjoy many things unknown to their ancestors of the fifth, or despised by them. Not only had commercial intercourse among themselves and with Asia gradually increased; the conquests and colonies in the eastern Mediterranean, which resulted from the Crusades, encouraged that activity. The demand for foreign products, at almost all times a sure measure of advancing civilization, had grown steadily. Medicine, chiefly derived from the Arabs, looked to the East for many of its drugs. Materials Trade with the East for its incense, colors for its scribes, goods for its vestments, precious metals and stones for its vessels, brought the church into close dependence on this trade. Spices to mitigate the dreariness of mediŠval cookery, or to preserve its food; dyestuffs to relieve monotonous coloring, perfume to cloak imperfect hygiene or sanitation; cottons, muslins, and silks to enhance the beauty or disguise the ugliness of mediŠval heiresses and to increase the comfort of all who could afford them; gold and silver, jewels, ivory and ornaments, found their way to Europe to brighten the lives of lords and ladies and churchmen; till what had once been almost unattainable luxuries came to be regarded in some sort as necessities, and so swelled the current of trade from generation to generation.

At the same time commerce and manufacturing had correspondingly increased in the West itself. The wool of England, the flax of France, the furs of the Baltic, heightened comfort and luxury alike, once they had passed through the hands of the weavers, the fur-dressers, and the merchants, especially those of the Low Countries, who acted as intermediaries for a great part of this traffic. The hides and tallow of the north, the fish that gave relief on fast-days to the appetite and conscience of the pious, added to this commerce. The timber, the oil, the ambergris and other products of a colder climate, found even more general demand throughout Europe than the costlier goods of the east. Century by century the caravans that made their way between farther Asia and the Levantine ports increased; and with them the fleets that plied between those ports and the busy cities of southern Europe, no less than the pack-trains which passed along the Rh˘ne or across the Alps to the trading centers of the north. Markets and fairs grew in numbers and importance. Everywhere towns were established and flourished. The wealth of northern burgher and southern merchant prince multiplied in like proportion. A whole new world of commerce gradually took its place amid the feudal and ecclesiastical rÚgime of the earlier middle ages, leavening its military and agricultural character with a new spirit. Before Trade in the West the fifteenth century was half gone, it had made itself felt in almost every activity of life, among the upper and middle classes.

Foremost among its results was the intellectual progress which owed no small part of the stimulus it had experienced in the centuries preceding the fall of Constantinople to the increase in wealth and trade. Caravan and fleet and packtrain brought into all quarters of Europe ideas even more precious than the goods they bore; knowledge of the greater world and its affairs, of men and governments, of laws, religions, and learning far outside the pale of mediŠval European thought. Under such influences the intellectual horizon had insensibly broadened. Problems arose whose solution was not to be found in the maxims drawn from feudal or ecclesiastical experience. A class of men was developed which was dependent not so much on the interrelations of the old society as on its own skill and initiative, prepared to meet those problems rather by the use of reason than by appeal to authority. Less and less bound by the old ties and the old formulŠ, that commercial element had grown rich and powerful enough, not merely to claim a certain measure of independence for itself, but to gain a hearing for its ideas in fields far outside its purely commercial sphere, in politics, in intellectual affairs, even in religion.

Commerce and culture

It was, then, no accident that in Italy, "the wharf of Europe," the land through which flowed the main current between East and West, a new educational force, the university, first appeared. There in the south the medical school of Salerno led the way. In the north, amid those thriving cities which had founded their fortunes in the traffic arising from the Crusades, and had taken part in the struggle between the Pope and the Emperor, no less political than religious, which filled the later middle ages, there had arisen the law school of Bologna. The example thus set had been followed quickly in other communities within that same circle of influences. Thence it had spread throughout the continent. Paris, the home of theology and its great exponents, Abelard, and Thomas Aquinas, Prague and Oxford, with their off-

The Universities c. 1050-75

shoots and followers, dotted Europe with those institutions which are the peculiar product of her intellectual genius.

For the most part the universities sprang from the cathedral schools, and they were not seldom dominated by the religious orders, which, like the Dominicans and Franciscans in particular, found in them at once a recruiting ground for their membership and a powerful reinforcement for their doctrines. They were the exponents of those scholastic principles which at once sharpened the intellect and sterilized it. But, from the days when they lent their great influence to the inauguration of a new era in European culture, to the present, they have, with all their failings, remained, on the whole, the most powerful single force making for the conservation, increase, and propagation of that knowledge upon which civilization must, in the long run, found itself. With them, education, though not for centuries emancipated from the church, at least emerged from the cloister.

And more: as no single department of ecclesiasticism had more powerfully affected every-day affairs of life than its judicial establishment, founded on canon law, so, of all the forces which the universities set in motion, none was more far-reaching or profound in its results than the erection, beside this canon law, of a civil code. This was based largely on that body of legislation compiled under the authority of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, in the sixth century. It was revived and revised at first largely by the jurists of Bologna; and it offered to the world a system of jurisprudence suited to its broadening needs, and relatively independent of church influence. Though it was to be long before ecclesiastical power over education and affairs was to be relaxed, perhaps no one non-theological force proved as great a solvent of ecclesiastical monopoly as that which enabled men to find professional careers outside of the church, and in this the establishment of civil law played an eminent part.

Canon and civil law

The study of law, which owed no small part of its inspiration and its initial importance to the service it was able to render to the imperial and local authorities of northern Italy in their conflict with the Papacy, was of scarcely less value

Banking and credit

? to the business world. For in those same Italian cities there arose meanwhile, beside this new intellectual force, a system of banking and credit which likewise spread throughout Europe as far as the British Isles, where its memory is still preserved in the name of London's Lombard Street. There it came in touch with another and not dissimilar force set on foot by the northern burghers, who had been no less active than southern bankers and merchants. This was the Hanseatic League, that great confederation of trading towns, which, enlarging and protecting the interests of its members, extended its power into the remoter regions of the north and east as far as the distant centers of Bergen and Novgorod. Its treaties reached as far as Naples and Lisbon; its trading houses to half the cities of the continent, where, as in London, its once powerful emblem, the Steelyard, still perpetuates the memory of its vanished greatness. By such means as these, Europe, divided against itself politically almost to the point of impotence, had been gradually covered with a network of educational, financial, and commercial relations, as intimate as the bonds of the church itself, and even more far-reaching. And, even before the middle of the fifteenth century, these were making themselves felt in the renaissance of civilization throughout the continent, scarcely less than the literary movement which accompanied them.


Such were the chief forces which had begun to undermine the foundations of that form of social organization to which we give the name of mediŠval, and to establish bases for a new edifice, long before it was apparent to the eyes of the men of the time that the old structure was being insensibly altered. For in the mid-fifteenth century the church was still the most powerful single influence in the European world. Its marvelous organization, which reached to every quarter of western Europe, was still intact. Its vast wealth, its almost complete control over men's thoughts and consciences, the intimate relation which it bore to their most sacred private affairs by means of the sacramental system from birth and baptism, through marriage and death to burial, its control of education and of a great part of legal Feudalism and the Church procedure, all this was still unimpaired, and gave it immeasurable strength. No less the feudal system, though it was beginning to face the rivalry of the national spirit as embodied in the kingships in the field of politics, remained as all-pervasive as the church itself and scarcely less powerful in the affairs of every-day life. It still limited the interplay of class with class and narrowed the avenues of advance in almost every field of secular activity, beside reinforcing the ecclesiastical influence in circumscribing intellectual achievement.

Yet the old and stately edifice of mediŠval society had already suffered changes which, though as yet apparently inconsiderable, threatened the integrity of the whole system upon which the middle ages had based its life and thought. For the most part these changes were due to three forces which operate at nearly all times and in nearly every class of society. The first was the spirit of adventure, intellectual no less than physical, which impels men to seek new experiences, and, driven on by the desire to break the monotony of life, to brave the unknown for the sheer pleasure of the new sensations which it promises or affords. The second is the desire for greater comfort, which, in its higher form, we know as luxury, and, in its ultimate ranges, turns to the beauties of color and form and sound, in the domain of art and music, even in letters. The third is the innate rivalry between individuals and societies from which flows not merely physical conflict, but the stimulus to do or to have or to be something better and greater than the rest of the world. From such forces, with others less selfish--the devotion of those who seek rather the betterment of their fellows than their own advantage, whether as missionaries or reformers, or the single-hearted absorption of creative genius striving toward perfection--are derived the elements of progress; and all of these had long been tending toward a new order of affairs and thought.

The causes of change

Among these varied forces there is at all times a certain activity; but the results which they achieve are not always wholly dependent on themselves. That common interest which may be called the organization of society, whether political, ecclesiastical, social, or economic, must be taken into account; and that organization is never wholly on the side of change. Too often it is wholly opposed to progress. During the period now coming to an end, conformity to a rigid system of faith and practice was the price of peace, even of mere existence, to the vast majority of men in western Europe. Submission to a scarcely less rigid political and social organization had been the price of opportunity to realize advance in any direction for those classes below the dead-line between the noble and the non-noble. And though, as the years went on, some bolder or more fortunate spirits had defied or evaded the one, and certain groups had managed to gain strength to secure terms from the other, there was as yet no open way for the talents, no unity in diversity, no general liberty of self-expression for all classes and individuals, which is the touchstone of the modern world. To achieve that was the first and most important step in the development of the race; and in one direction, the emancipation of the intellect, this had begun.

Restrictions of conformity

Finally to this movement science and mechanical invention lent their aid. In the very months when the Turks were preparing to push their conquering advance to its great success, Dutch and German artisans were engaged upon a new process of reproducing manuscripts by printing from movable types upon paper. That material had entered Europe from the Orient with the coming of the Arabs, and its manufacture and use had spread through the continent during the preceding century. Its peculiar adaptation to the new method of book-making combined with the use of press and types to revolutionize the world, marking an epoch in affairs more important even than the fall of Constantinople. For the first time it became possible to disseminate knowledge widely, quickly, and cheaply, since, "though the few had books before Gutenberg gave us our Art, not until Printing came could Learning, yes, and Wisdom also, knock at every man's door."


c. 1450

It is symbolic of the time that the earliest fragment of this momentous innovation which we still possess is a Papal indulgence for those who volunteered to serve against the Turk. Most of all, perhaps, is it significant that the first book to which the new process was applied was the Bible. With the appearance of that volume, in such form that it was soon to become accessible to the masses of the laity, theology took on a new aspect; and it is scarcely too much to say that the breakdown of ecclesiastical monopoly dates from the moment when the principal source of its inspiration and its authority passed to other hands than its own.

Coincident with the spread of printing came other changes tending directly and indirectly to the same end. The first of these was the use of a new munition of war, gunpowder, then finding its way through Europe. It completed the removal of the inequality between the mounted knight in full armor and the half-armed foot-soldier, which, in the ultimate resolution of affairs, was to be a matter of scarcely less importance to social than to military development. At the same time it gave to Europeans an advantage over the peoples of the other continents which was to prove a decisive factor in the history of the world. The superiority which it brought them was enhanced meanwhile by improvements in the art of navigation. The compass and the astrolabe, the revival of scientific chart and map making, accompanied and stimulated in like proportion the conquest of the sea; and again enlarged the field upon which an increasing number of men were to play their part.

Gunpowder and the compass

Thus in every direction the intellect and enterprise of Europe were inspired and assisted to a degree unparalleled for a thousand years before. Those thousand years, as we have seen, had not been unfruitful. The Middle Ages had been constructive as well as destructive and without their achievements such a burst of energy as marked the new era would have been impossible, for even that could not have lifted Europe at one stroke from the civilization of the sixth century to that of the sixteenth. If the ancient culture had been overthrown, foundations had been laid for that of modern times. New forms of law and government and society had been gradually evolved. Towns and cities had grown upon commerce and manufacturing, and vast stretches untouched by Roman influence had been civilized. The long conflict between Roman and Teutonic influences had fused those warring elements into a society whose organization and culture, though unlike that of the ancient world, was to develop into a system worthy to be set beside even the triumphs of Greece and Rome.

That mediŠval culture had, indeed, begun to be exhausted by the time when Asia's last great blow against Europe made Constantinople an outpost of the East instead of a bulwark of the West. The age of the Crusades and the cathedrals was passing with that of feudalism and monasticism. The schoolmen and scholiasts were beginning to be replaced by the scholars. The new nations and the national kingships were beginning to make head against the mediŠval polity, and amid the chaos which accompanies the transition from one period to another were seen not only the death-throes of the old but the birth-pangs of the new. It would be a false view of history which did not recognize the debt of the new to the old, and failed to appreciate the great inheritance of the past even in the triumphs of the Renaissance. But it would be no less false to conclude that the one was a mere development of the other, that without any fundamental change in its ideas and ideals the old merged gradually and inevitably into the new. For in this new development both evolution and revolution played their parts.



NEITHER the rise of trade nor of the legal, financial, administrative, and educational activities which accompanied commercial expansion, much less the almost incessant wars amid which they went on, had exhausted European energies in the years between the Norman conquest of England and the fall of Constantinople. The increase of wealth and consequent leisure which permitted the acquisition and appreciation of things outside the necessities of life had its effect in fields far removed from counting-house and court; and, great as were the political changes which Europe was to experience during the century which midway of its career saw the old capital of the east pass from European hands, they yielded in importance to the extraordinary development of intellect and taste which, during that period, filled the continent with the inspiring fruits of its literature and its scholarship, and the beauty of its art. That movement has been well called the Renaissance, or re-birth, for from its activities proceeded no mere elaboration of mediŠval forms and practices but a new world of thought and performance. The alterations in the content and the method of the mind, the revolution in artistic taste and craftsmanship, were important not merely because of their intellectual and Šsthetic triumphs. They revealed the fact that Europeans were possessed of talents capable of the highest achievements, and were preparing to enter upon a new and greater stage of their development.

The Revival of art and learning

That movement was well on its way long before the fall of Constantinople and it was but natural that it had found its most conspicuous expression in Italy. No part of the continent was so intimately and so uninterruptedly bound up

Italy and the Renaissance

with the achievements of the classical civilization upon whose influence the new activity so largely depended. There, on every hand, were to be seen the monuments of the ancient culture; there was to be found a tradition of learning which had never quite disappeared even in the darkest ages of the mediŠval period. There the earliest centers of wealth with its consequent leisure and luxury had developed; the universities had first arisen; and the influences long gathering to destroy the older forms of thought and speech, of art and literature, had first began to replace the standards of the middle ages with modes of life and expression more suited to the tastes and conditions of a society eager to create and enjoy a new experience of life.

To this was added a long connection with the spiritual and intellectual processes and achievements of the east. Arab civilization had strongly influenced the southern half of the peninsula, where there had been founded the medical school of Salerno, first of European universities. It had profoundly affected that brilliant court of the Emperor Frederick II, which in the thirteenth century was at once the wonder and the scandal of orthodox Christendom. Besides this, Byzantium, with its carefully cherished traditions of the classical world, had for generations reflected to Italian eyes something of that luster of scholarship which had been somehow maintained through he vicissitudes of the Eastern Empire's disturbed political history. Moreover, into her complex society Italy had infused a Teutonic element. In the preceding centuries she had been a part of the Holy Roman Empire, and thousands of German immigrants, drawn by politics or commerce, had poured into the northern part of the peninsula. Thus, from every direction, she was open to the pervasive influences of a widely varied culture, which revealed itself not only in her receptiveness to new ideas but in the tastes and capabilities for the refinements of life, which surpassed those of any other quarter of the continent.

Foreign influence on Italy

That receptiveness had been no unmixed blessing, for it had proved the bane of her political history. At all times after the collapse of the Roman Empire, Italy had been the prize of successive invaders. The Teutonic conquerors who had early founded Gothic and Lombard kingdoms there, the Franks, and later the German Emperors, had in turn dominated the peninsula. To this was joined the rivalry of the Italian states among themselves, the ambitions of the nobility, and that instability which made the people of the peninsula ready at all times to invite the foreign conqueror to aid one party or another against its opponent. The migrations had long since ceased. The strife of imperialist and anti-imperialist, of Guelph and Ghibelline, which vexed the middle ages, was passing; but as the fifteenth century came on it was transformed into the rivalry of the national states and dynasties as the houses of Aragon and Capet took up the contest for Italian supremacy.

Thus it was not in politics that Italy was to become the leader of the continent, nor was it in the south where this new rivalry was first felt that there now sprang up the impulse which was to revolutionize Europe. It was rather among the peoples of northern Italy that there had begun to emerge a culture which for a time made her the intellectual and artistic mistress of the European world. There a Papacy, relieved at the beginning of the fifteenth century from the exile and schism which had weakened its authority and endangered its supremacy for more than a hundred years, had begun to devote itself to establishing the temporal power of the so-called Papal States; and at the same time, to re-establishing the dominance of Rome over the intellect as well as the faith of the continent. There Venice and Genoa, though maintaining a losing conflict with the Turk, still kept a great part of their commercial strength, and the ability which had achieved it. There, above all, as the fifteenth century proceeded, the city states, like Siena, Florence, Pisa, and their followers, entered on a new era of their chequered history.

This was the Age of the Tyrants. To the long struggle of the factions for and against the domination of Germany, which had filled a great part of the middle ages, to the infinite quarrels of the nobility and the antagonisms of the various elements within these little organisms. there suc-

The Age of the Tyrants

c. 1450-1500

ceeded a race of rulers and a polity which contributed, however unconsciously, to the rise of non-political, non-religious, and non-commercial interests. In Milan the house of Sforza replaced the Visconti as rulers of the state; in Siena, Petrucci rose to the head of the commune; in Modena the family of Este, in Florence that of the Medici, transmuted financial into political supremacy; while Venice and Genoa retained their oligarchies, drawn from the ranks of their leading citizens. In each place popular assent was given to absolute rulers or assumed by them. The nobles were virtually deprived of that ascendancy which brought the worst evils of feudalism upon other states, and tended to find in other fields the careers denied to them in politics. Thus the commercial centers, relieved of the unintellectual atmosphere of the feudal rÚgime, became, with all their faults, the artistic and intellectual, as they had long been the financial, capitals of the continent.

To their inhabitants the mere accumulation of greater wealth seemed not the end of human achievement, nor mere physical comfort its chief purpose. For more than a century before the fall of Constantinople their thoughts had turned to other means of satisfying their desires for a fuller existence than that afforded by commerce or politics. This took the form of art and scholarship. The slowly rising interest in the remains of the classical civilization which lay about them had early led to the collection and preservation of its more beautiful and interesting relies which escaped the greed of barbarians, the fanaticism of bigots, and the ignorant destruction of those who burned the treasures of Greek and Roman stonework for lime. Classicists like Petrarch, collectors like the great Florentine virtuoso, Niccolo de' Niccoli, scholars like Aurispa who brought from his studies in Constantinople hundreds of Greek manuscripts, contributed to this movement. Princes like the Medici, nobles and merchants, had adorned the palaces which their wealth and taste had raised in every little capital, with these relies of the past. The energies of the learned men whose services the universities had attracted and to whose abilities they

The Classicists


offered a career, worked to the same end. The influence of individuals like Dante and Petrarch, bred in the classical tradition rather than in that of the church, reinforced by Byzantine scholars who found their way to Italy in person or through their students, built up a body of men skilled in the learning and culture of the classical world. From its inspiration, and from the stimulus of a reviving intellectual activity, they had begun to develop not only a new tongue and new forms of literary expression but new conceptions and ideals of life and letters alike.

Nor was this all. At the same time with wealth had come that emulation in comfort and luxury which lies at the root of a great part of progress. Riches had produced not merely the prince but the patron. First in architecture, then in the lesser arts and crafts, there had arisen a body of artists and artisans unequaled in Europe to supply the demands of improving tastes and standards of life. From their hands had flowed a stream of achievement which adorned every city of northern Italy with churches and palaces and public buildings that remain the admiration of the European world. There Giotto, in the preceding century, had laid the foundations of a new school of painting, and designed the Campanile or Lily Tower of Florence, whose plan and decorations touched the highwater mark of Italian Gothic architecture. There Pisa's cathedral and her leaning tower; Venice with its palaces and its church of St. Mark; Milan with its Duomo; Bologna with its bell-tower; Genoa, Siena, and a score of lesser towns witnessed at once the wealth and taste of a society unmatched in Europe. These, transforming Gothic into Renaissance architecture, became the models for the continent.

Art and architecture


The genius which produced them had sought triumphs in other and allied fields. The bronze gates of the Florentine baptistery, "worthy to be the gates of Paradise," were but the greatest of the magnificent works which came from the hands of the painter-sculptor-goldsmith, Ghiberti. The Pitti palace in Florence and the church of Santa Maria del Fiore witnessed at the same time the talents of Brunelleschi; and the marvelous statues of Donatello revealed the inspiration



of classical models and gave new impetus to this reviving art.

Such were a few of the great names which lend luster to the first half of the fifteenth century of Italian architecture and sculpture. But that extraordinary burst of artistic genius was by no means confined to Italy nor to the working of stone and bronze. Throughout northern Europe the same devotion to the Gothic forms had been evidenced by such widely differing examples of that graceful school as the splendid tower of Magdalen College in Oxford and the chapel of Vincennes, which owe their origin to this same period. Yet even in these there lay the evidences of oncoming change. For though the last years of the long reign of Gothic architecture saw the erection of some of the noblest and most beautiful of its conceptions, in England its so-called Perpendicular form was passing into more florid types, and in France the Flamboyant school had already arisen. The overelaboration which is the sure mark of decadence had begun, and as Gothic had succeeded Romanesque five centuries earlier, it began to give way, in its turn, to the Renaissance types which foreshadowed another age.

The northern Renaissance

At the same time that building and the plastic arts thus adorned Europe, painting improved, and in even greater degree. Beautiful as many of the mediŠval products had been, mural decoration and the making of pictures had remained far inferior to the classical achievements in that field, and incomparably poorer than the work of the mediŠval architects. The illumination of missals and manuscripts, with all their wealth of color, the exquisite skill of their lettering, the graceful basket-work designs of the Celtic school, the splendor of Lombard and French monkish imagination, lavished upon their decoration, had fallen far short of such painting as the Greeks and Romans had known. The reason is not far to seek. With all the pains and devotion of the monkish artists, their most elaborate figures were lifeless, their most carefully drawn landscapes were flat. And, apart from these miniatures, and the Romanesque designs which adorned the churches built in the later years of that period,

MediŠval painting

the Middle Ages had known little or nothing of the painter's art.

But as the fourteenth century merged into the fifteenth, there came a change. In half a score of centers, almost simultaneously, there sprang up a race of painters intent upon producing on larger scale and in more lifelike forms the faces and figures of the saints and angels which peopled their imagination. To this, undoubtedly, the improvement of weaving and the manufacture of smooth and permanent plaster surfaces contributed, as well as the introduction of new pigments and the discovery of methods of producing and blending color on a larger scale. Equipped with these facilities the talents of the Renaissance artists began to challenge the triumphs of Zeuxis and Apelles.

Early Renaissance art

The earlier groups which arose in such widely separated districts as northern Italy and the Flemish Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, were, indeed, crude enough in their conceptions and execution, differing only from the mediŠval predecessors in their larger scope and more varied coloring, with whatever originality of subject and grouping their new materials permitted. But as the fourteenth century went on, artistic production increased with the improvement of technique, and the demand for such work. From Bologna painting spread through Lombardy and the adjoining states till nearly every north Italian city, from Milan to Ferrara, boasted its "school" of pictorial representation, while from Naples to the Dutch Netherlands men seized upon this new means of expression, dotting the continent with studios, whence a new stream of art flowed into European life.

It was inevitable that the increasing, attention to work in line and color should improve technique, and as the fifteenth century came on that improvement grew more and more marked. If one compares the monkish art with that to which the modern world has become accustomed he will perceive that, apart from the problems of color, three great changes have taken place in painting. The one is accurate drawing, the second is what we call perspective, the third is the handling of light and shade, so-called chiaroscuro, or the art of The artists of the fifteenth century "the cinquecento" shadows. In no small degree it was the province of the painters of the fifteenth century to introduce these elements into pictorial representation. Their efforts in this direction, like their experiments in color, were strikingly unequal and by no means always successful. There is not one who combines in his work a skill in all of these fields approaching the perfection of their followers. But they began the solution of those problems which another generation carried to success.

They did more. By the achievements of Masaccio, the great pioneer of the "modern manner," painting was raised to a new level. From the plastic art he borrowed the treatment of drapery, from nature itself the "sense of aerial space and landscape, so that his figures stand in a world prepared for them." At the hands of Fra Lippo Lippi and his more famous pupil, Botticelli, another element made its way through the medium of an increasing group of artists in which the names of Bellini, Mantegna, and Perugino were, after those of its leaders, the most eminent. Lacking somewhat of the technical perfection to which their successors accustomed the European eye, their delicate refinement of conception and tone, the poetical element they infused into religious art, their simplicity and tenderness, above all the humanity of their creations, brought about a revolution in spirit and aims of still greater importance to the future of painting than even the advance in technique which they were able to make. With them came the end of the flat decorative formalism, the lifelessness of monastic art. And, reinforced by the achievements of the sculptors and goldsmiths, the terra-cottas and enamels of plastic artists, who, like the della Robbias, found a new medium of expression in these materials, art became at once more decorative and more akin to life.


The patronage of such men was by no means confined to any class. The nobles and merchant princes, indeed, were quick to appreciate the intellectual stimulus of the revival of antique masterpieces. But from the first the new art and the new learning found no stronger supporters than some of the highest dignitaries of the church. These, spiritual officials in name, but in fact rather Italian noblemen, with the The patrons and collectors tastes and standards of their class, had found in the church an outlet for those talents which in their ancestors' hands had ruled the world in temporal as they now directed the destinies of half Europe in spiritual affairs. They had not confined their patronage to the collection of antiques, the search for objects of art, inscriptions, manuscripts, and the myriad relies of a long neglected past. They embraced with scarcely less eagerness the achievements of the new race of artists; while their encouragement gave fresh impetus to the cultivation of these refinements and enlisted them in the service of the establishment.

But this was not the whole of this great movement to which we give the name of the Renaissance, nor were its efforts and effects confined to Italy and the east. While the artists reached new heights of excellence, the men of letters and learning had increased with equal pace. One by one the barriers which had separated Europe from her past broke down before them, as the collection and study of classical remains developed from mere dilettantism into the serious business of life for many men. And while the artists and architects, sculptors and workers in metal brought new elements of beauty into European life, a new race of antiquarians provided the continent with an invaluable foundation for intellectual advance. Among them one figure may be taken as the type of the whole.

This was Poggio Bracciolini, a secretary of the Roman curia, who about the year 1414 was sent to Constance on a Papal mission in connection with the church council then attempting to determine the great schism which had so long divided Roman Catholicism against itself. Trained in Greek and Latin by the most eminent scholars of his day, his talents as a copyist, his tastes and abilities which brought him in touch with men of like mind in Italy, turned his attention to the possibility of recovering classical manuscripts from their hiding-places in western Europe. To the pursuit of these, buried and forgotten, even where they were preserved in monastic libraries, he devoted his talents, his fortune, and his life. From Constance he explored the monas-

Poggio Bracciolini

teries of Switzerland and the adjacent lands. St. Gall yielded Quintilian's treatise on oratory; Langres, Cicero's oration on CŠcina, and from other sources came much more material to illuminate the life of the great Roman advocate.

To these were joined works in far different fields which fell to the share of this industrious and fortunate collector. Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica, Vegetius' De Re Militari, Firmicus' Mathematica, the histories of Tacitus, Livy, Ammianus Marcellinus, the poems of Silius Italicus, the architectural writings of Vitruvius, the agricultural treatises of Columella, among many others, became the fruits of his explorations. Nor was he alone. While he was busy resurrecting the letters and learning of the Roman world from the libraries and storehouses of French and German monasteries, others were ransacking Constantinople for Greek manuscripts, whose collection became one of the great activities of literary fashion. From these sources manuscripts poured into western Europe by hundreds, and even thousands, there to be copied, edited, and finally printed. Through their correspondents the commercial magnates sought such material no less eagerly than the more usual materials of trade. Private individuals employed collectors, and there emerged a new profession, that of collecting, buying, selling, and copying these masterpieces. Through such hands passed the priceless treasures of antiquity. To Niccolo de' Niccoli the scholar Aurispa brought Sophoeles and the Laurentian manuscript of Aschylus. In the collection of Filelfo were numbered most of the Greek poets, the historians from Herodotus to Polybius, the writings of Aristotle, the orations of Demosthenes, Ăschines, and Lysias.

The covery of classical manuscripts

It was no wonder that with these accessions to the knowledge of Europe, intellectual processes took on new life. For their inspiration was not confined to their immediate possessors. Copyists spread reproductions of them through many hands; and, above all, there were founded libraries throughout Italy. Cosmo de Medici, first at Venice, then at Florence, established great collections; the Vatican began to

The libraries

interest itself in the enlargement of its store of manuscripts; and individuals, like the learned Duke Federigo of Urbino and Cardinal Bessarion, contributed their time and fortunes to the great cause of bringing together and preserving the intellectual treasure of the classical world. With this was opened to European eyes the long vista of the past and new ways to be explored. Every year revealed new treasures to men weary of the narrow round of theological disputation. impatient of its barrenness, and eager for new information and new ideas.

As a result there came into existence not merely a new race of scholars and new professions. Education was slowly revolutionized as Greek again took its place in the intellectual equipment of Europe, invigorated by its philosophy, learning and literature. And when, almost simultaneously, the fall of Constantinople and the invention of printing altered the political and intellectual situation of the continent, the Renaissance received a new impulse. Greek scholars, fleeing before the Turks, brought with them into Italy, and even into northern Europe, not only manuscripts but a scholarship superior to that of the west. The art of printing, early introduced into Italy by the Germans, was there greatly improved, and found at once in this field of classical scholarship ample scope for its activities. It was enormously stimulated by the capture and sack of Mainz by Adolf of Nassau in 1462. That event,--comparable to the capture of Constantinople,--scattered printing and printers throughout Europe, and so gave new impetus to printing and scholarship alike. For it provided everywhere that "circulating medium of culture" which was so supremely essential to the diffusion of the new learning and humanism generally. From the young presses flowed a steady stream of volumes, which, edited by the rising scholarship of the continent, at once put into European hands the inspiration of the ancient world and secured for it a permanence and an audience impossible to the age of copyists.

The spread of printing

Such was the humanism, or New Learning, which during the fifteenth century found its way through the continent by the activities of the scholars. It was, indeed, not long confined to Italy. Across the Alps the scholars of France and Germany, England and the Netherlands, eagerly embraced the same cause, while even some nobles followed the example of their Italian contemporaries, and, like Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, who enriched Oxford with its first great library, turned at least a part of their talents and their wealth to the service of civilization. That cause, meanwhile, found expression and support in a new form of organization which was to culture what universities had long been to education. This was the academy, a voluntary association of men devoting their time, energy, and wealth to the pursuit and publication of scholarly, literary, and, finally, scientific productions. Founded on ancient models, like those of Plato and Socrates, and beginning in a variety of forms during the two preceding centuries, this movement now crystallized in northern Italy. Thence it spread slowly through the European world until scarcely a nation or a city of consequence lacked an institution of this sort. And these, throwing "little specks of light on the still ocean of the past," encouraged by their existence and their patronage the extension and preservation of all forms of intellectual activity and so became a powerful factor in the life and progress of the European peoples.

The New Learning and the academies

In this great development, as in art, Florence had from the beginning taken a leading part, and with the accession of the banking family of Medici to the headship of the state, especially with the reign of Lorenzo, called the Magnificent, that city became for the time the intellectual capital of Europe. There was situated the earliest and most powerful of these societies, the so-called Platonic Academy, founded by Cosimo de Medici, and strengthened by Lorenzo. To it was summoned the scholar Ficino as president, high-priest or "hierophant" of the Platonic cult, which now stood forth to challenge the long supremacy of Aristotle. With the translation of Plato began an era in the intellectual development of Europe, which set the great humanist's idealistic, imaginative, Šsthetic, eclectic ideas in opposition to the dogmatic,

Florence and the Platonic Academy


material, logical system of his antagonist. It is not too much to say that with the introduction of Platonism into European thought there began a revolution of no less consequence than that presently effected by the discovery of the transatlantic passage and the worlds beyond. From this academy other elements found their way into the method and content of human thought. Politian strove to revive the golden age of classical literature, and in his hands the neo-Latin movement gained fresh beauty and strength. Midway between the new learning and the old orthodoxy, Pico della Mirandola sought in the Hebrew Kabbalah the source and proof of Christian mysteries, and from his union of scholarship and theology gave a powerful impulse to a school of inquiry which applied historical and critical methods to the foundations of dogma. And from a hundred hands there came editions of classical texts, notes, criticisms, imitations, comment and literature which revolutionized both the processes and the substance of European thought.


Under such influences the renaissance of art took on fresh life. The educational system which had dominated the middle ages with its formalized trivium and quadrivium-grammar, logic, and rhetoric; arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy--which, with law, medicine, and the all-powerful study of theology, made up the training of the mediŠval mind, was at once enlarged and liberalized. Literature felt a like impulse and pressed farther along the ways already pointed out by the pioneers in prose and poetry of the preceding century. The new learning was not without its practical effect in many fields. Already, under the patronage of Alfonso of Naples, then in conflict with the Papacy, Valla had applied historical criticism to the documents upon which the church founded its claims to temporal sovereignty, and had proved that the so-called Donation of Constantine, which had long been accepted as a title-deed to its possessions, was a forgery.


Meanwhile, as classical models were again set before Europe, there came an alteration in taste which profoundly affected almost every department of life and thought. It

Ăneas Sylvius

made its way into affairs and among its results none was more striking than the change in the type of men and minds which came into those high places not reserved for those merely born to greatness. Five years after the fall of Constantinople there came to the Papal throne Ăneas Sylvius Piccolomini. His very name echoed the now dominating classical impulse. He had grown rich by discovering alum mines in the Papal territories; assumed the cross for a crusade against the Turks; and gained literary eminence by such diverse works as a history of Bohemia, a life of Frederick III, geographical treatises, erotic poems, and theological tracts. The advent to the Papacy of the first writer who "consciously applied a scientific conception of history to the explanation and arrangement of passing events," marks a new stage of intellectual development; and no circumstance could have been more significant of the change in values which was coming over the European mind than the elevation of such a character to the headship of the Church.


But Italy was not alone in her glory, nor unique in her devotion to art and literature in this period of the budding Renaissance. 'Across the Alps the poet-thief, Villon, brought to still greater perfection those types of formal versification, the villanelle, chant royal, ballade and rondeau which took their place beside the Italian sonnet as poetical models,

The northern Renaissance and literature


"When song, new-born, put off the old world's attire And felt its tune on her changed lips expire."

Working through the same medium, the new French, the historian Comines took up the burden of Froissart and Monstrelet in chronicling the last exploits of a fading chivalry. In Germany the Meistersinger, last of the troubadours, first of the modern poets, held their picturesque contests. In England Malory revived the legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. And, noblest expression of the best side of Latin Christianity, the Imitation of Christ, a manual and exhortation to the Christian life, from the hand of an humble Rhenish monk, Thomas Ó Kempis, began its long career of comforting the weary heart of man. Than such works as these, nothing could have been more significant ?1380-1471 of the transition from old to new. They were the products of an age which looked back to an era of knightly adventure and monastic self-sacrifice, even while it prepared a period of literary, artistic, and scientific achievement which actively, if unconsciously, undermined the foundations of a past already entering the realm of the imagination.

To these forces was added another element, the progress of a reforming spirit within the church. In the very days and place that saw the rulers of the ecclesiastical establishment strain every nerve to re-invigorate their temporal sovereignty, and the leaders of the intellectual revival turn from church and morality alike, was heard the voice of Girolamo Savonarola, the monk of Florence, thundering against the vice and folly of church and world in tones prophetic of approaching revolution. That warning was little heeded, and not for a quarter of a century was the protest thus voiced to become a part of the great movement then making for the regeneration of the continent. For the time being Europe seemed content with the absorbing pursuits which her political activities and the renaissance of art and learning and literature had made possible. But amid the multifarious concerns with which her people busied themselves in the last half of the fifteenth century, the spirit which he voiced made its unnoticed way, preparing to play its part in the next act of the European drama. In one direction the Renaissance fell short-the development of a philosophy to combat the dogmatism of the church. Its indirect effect was, indeed, great, but had it taken classical thought more seriously, it might have developed some more practicable method of combating authority, which like rationalism in later centuries would have enabled its followers to advance beyond dogma and revelation to a more reasonable if not a more logical attitude toward life, its meanings and its problems. That opportunity it missed, and meanwhile, more pressing, and, it seemed, more practical concerns demanded immediate attention.



Had the Renaissance been confined to art and letters, or to classical scholarship, it might have proved as barren of permanent advantage as the influences which gave it birth. Without some more substantial element, some power to connect this burst of energy with every-day affairs, it might have spent itself in dreary dilettante patronage of barren intellect, with all the petty shibboleths and incapacity which accompany mere appreciation. It might well have degenerated into like courses which had led men into the deserts of scholasticism, had it not been preserved by two influences. The one was the tendency of the new literature to dissociate itself from ecclesiastical authority and to relate itself to the world about it rather than to the abstractions of either pure intellect or theology. The other was the advance of scientific knowledge, which, in like fashion, diverted men's attention from the insoluble questions of the infinite and the absolute to the more tangible problems of mundane affairs.

If mediŠval Europe had suffered much from the destruction of the settled system of society, and the interruption or diversion of intellectual processes into ways as barren of result as classical science, she had suffered scarcely less from the loss of that practical knowledge upon which the material fabric of the ancient world rested. With the revival of learning she began to recover not merely the thought but the usage of the older civilization. Among the literary remains uncovered by the archŠological revival were treatises on war and navigation, building and gardens, astronomy, mathematics, and a score of no less substantial affairs, which contributed, if not to the thought, at least to the practice of the oncoming generations. That information, added to the hard-won knowledge of experience, helped to set Europe on new paths of activity at the same moment that her scholars introduced a new philosophy of life, her men of letters and her artists put before her new achievements and ideals, and her adventurers led the way to new lands.

The Revival of the sciences, arts, and crafts

One of the earliest and greatest symptoms of this progress along practical and scientific lines was the revolution in mathematics. The early middle ages, characteristically, had preserved and taught the propositions of Euclid, but not his proofs; its arithmetical calculations had found their highest Mathematics expression in the abacus. Its elementary knowledge of geometry had been confined, where it was preserved at all, to the purposes of the surveyor and the architect, or to the less useful services of the astrologer. But with the insistent demands of the new navigation and the concurrent discovery of classical manuscripts, there came a change. Little by little the knowledge of Greece and Rome was added to that derived from experience and drawn from Arab sources. And, what was more important still, mathematics came into the hands of scholars and was infused with that spirit of investigation which ensured its development.

Its principal exponents were found in Germany. The great work of Purbach in Vienna brought to the attention of European scientists--as these men came gradually to be known--the contribution of Ptolemy who had summed up the ancient knowledge of the earth and heavens. But long before Purbach the renaissance of mathematics and astronomy had begun. The so-called Almagest, which the Arabs had translated from the Alexandrian geographer's writings, was brought within the widening circle of general European intellectual achievement as early as the twelfth century; and the long eclipsed science of trigonometry, of such incalculable value to geography and navigation, was rescued and revived.


The Viennese astronomer but summed up the labors of his predecessors. To him succeeded, among others of less note, his pupil Johann MŘller, better known by his assumed name of Regiomontanus, sometime a student in Italy, finally a citizen of Nuremberg. There, with his associate, Walther, a rich merchant, he published books and constructed astronomical instruments, by which it became possible to correct those Arabian calculations, the so-called Alphonsine tables, which since the thirteenth century had formed the basis of European study of the heavens. In such hands map-making was revived as the pursuit of learned men, the science of geography was revolutionized with that of astronomy. New methods of measuring time, tables of declination, catalogues of stars, took their place in Europe's rapidly developing intellectual resources.



As secular, and, in particular, scientific, learning thus paralleled the progress of classical scholarship, art, and literature, it was reinforced no less by printing. For the first time it was possible not only to record the results of such labors in books whose very number ensured their permanence, but to make this work available to many widely separated workers in the same field, so that its fruits were quickly spread throughout the continent and progress thus made more rapid and secure.

Spread of printing

How great a service was thus rendered was soon apparent. The Bible was, naturally, the first book to fall from the press, and printing lent its powerful aid to classics and theology. From the Italian publishing houses poured a stream of volumes drawn from the masterpieces collected by the archŠologists and edited by the scholars, who, like the printers, were so largely indebted to the academies for their support. But it was not long before the interest in geography produced a literature of surprising magnitude in that field. Among the earliest books which came from the press were Pomponius Mela cosmography, De Situ Orbis, and Ptolemy's great work, the Geographia, of which not less than three editions appeared within a little more than a decade. In the same years Marco Polo Travels delighted European readers; and not long thereafter the prototype of all lying travelers' tales, the book of Sir John Mandeville, saw the light of print. Finally d'Ailly's work, the last desperate attempt of the old school to harmonize the mediŠval doctrines with the new astronomy, marked the end of the long controversy between dogmatic theory and revealed fact, as Europe turned definitely toward a modern cosmogony.


One may well question whether, with all the stimulus of putting the Bible and the schools of ancient thought within the reach of every reader on the continent, the effect of these scientific works was not fully as great a factor in the intellectual advance as even scriptural and classical scholarship. In this field of print all the new intellectual movements found common ground, and printing became the universal bond among the peoples of western Europe at the same mo- ment that the Church began to lose something of its once unique position as the meeting place of all nations. Everywhere learned and even merely curious men, German geographers, Italian scholars, merchants of all lands, nobles and clergy and laity, turned their attention to new fields of human endeavor. Learning and secular literature, for the first time in a millennium, found themselves on an equality with the utterances of the theologians, and the layman began to play a part in the intellectual life of the continent.

This was the more important because of the gradual rise of that class to greater place in European society and economy during the preceding centuries. The development of organizations of merchants like the Hanseatic League and the Merchants of the Staple was not the only evidence of the progress of the non-noble elements throughout the continent. No less important and scarcely less powerful were the associations of craftsmen which owed their origin to the same period; and even more significant than the rise of the traders was the development of the manufacturing classes in whose wares they dealt.

The Industrial transition

That development was almost wholly the product of the towns. The feudal estates, as has been said, were, for the most part, possessed of artisans whose rude skill, supplemented by the households which were scarcely less selfcontained, sufficed for the simple demands of their relatively primitive society. The towns early developed greater skill and larger production. There the early stages of manufacturing, chiefly in weaving and metal-work, took the form of the so-called handicraft system, by which the workers, largely in their own homes, carried on the labors of their crafts--spinning and weaving, leather-dressing and working, the manufacture of weapons and armor, wood and iron working, gold and silversmithing, and the like.

The handricraft system

One of the earliest developments was the gradual alteration from the industrial methods of the middle ages which made production of the finished article the test of craftsmanship, to the substitution of process for product. To the household industry which had raised, spun, woven, and dyed cloth, succeeded the handicrafts which made each process the basis of its existence. To the crude smithy succeeded the more highly specialized crafts which wrought the iron, turned it into steel, and from it produced the blades, the scabbards, even the handles separately; and tempered, finished, and polished the weapons by different hands and trades.

Upon these there was developed during the later middle ages that form of distributing organization, at once mercantile and social, known as the guild. It was intended to ensure justice and equal opportunity to its members, to limit and standardize production, and maintain prices and quality. From that it was but one step to monopoly, which became the characteristic feature of most manufacturing and commercial activity for the ensuing centuries, as against the efforts of individuals to excel, or even to introduce new methods. By the fifteenth century that struggle was already in evidence; and beside the efforts of men to emancipate themselves from the domination of church and feudal monopoly may well be set the attempt of those unrecognized, individuals to break through the privileges of organized labor and capital and emancipate industry.

The Guilds

To this, by the middle of the fifteenth century had been added a powerful tendency toward the emergence of a class midway between the producer and the mere merchant, the middleman, or entrepreneur, from whom, indeed, a considerable element in the so-called merchant class was developed, as in later years the banker was evolved from the goldsmith. Generally speaking, this promoter was the product of the so-called "putting-out" system, under which the merchantmanufacturer gathered the raw material, distributed it among the workers, and disposed of the product. This arrangement, not unconnected with the guilds, developed gradually, and under opposition from many directions slowly made way until it became a powerful factor in that part of industry which was related to commerce.

It was closely connected with another element which marks one of the principal distinctions between mediŠval and modern activities in this field,--the problem of the market, upon which depended in no small degree the development of industry. That market was limited, in earlier times, by the political chaos of the continent, no less than by the difficulties of transportation; and it was not until the establishment of settled peace over wider areas and the increasing mobility of men and goods that there came any great improvement in the volume of commerce. It was still necessary to have some more powerful body to protect trade, nor was it possible for a century more to dispense with the security of the great mercantile organizations, as political organizations took up the work. As yet, outside of these mercantile associations, trade was largely limited to relatively local areas, and organization followed the lines laid down by the market. It was already possible for individuals like the first of the Gobelins to establish great dye-works and make a fortune from his product. It was already possible for others like the first of the Fuggers to become a master-weaver, head of the guild, virtual monopolist of the region in which he lived, and even turn banker. But in the main, industry, like every other form of organization, maintained those restrictive characteristics which it had inherited. And in the beginnings of opposition to them, as in the development of new processes, and new forms of production and marketing, lay the seed of an industrial revolution which was to be no less important to the expansion of Europe than the intellectual and spiritual de velopment by which it was accompanied.

The middle classes, to whom these great extensions of human capabilities were chiefly due, were correspondingly benefited. Every new invention opened up new means of livelihood, not merely to those whose occupations were destroyed but to thousands of others. For, with the widening of the intellectual horizon, fresh fields of activity presented themselves on every hand for the energies of those who at once created and enjoyed the new basis of life. With such impulses the beginnings of a modern world came into evidence, and another generation was to see many of their promises fulfilled.

The Renaissance and the middle classes

The Renaissance, as this great movement was to be known, had dawned; and its first beams had begun to illuminate the Europe of the fourteenth century with the light of the New Learning, whose "humanism," as it was called, now challenged the long rule of scholasticism. At the same moment politics, commerce, even religion, or, more properly, theology and ecclesiasticism, showed signs of an impending change. "The general capacity for liberal culture, restored to the world, became a part of the higher life of the race." Coming upon a people seeking new solutions for the problems of existence, no less in their private than in their public concerns, the example of the ancient world offered at once a new basis of knowledge and new methods of approach, spiritual and material.


In this development one phase of knowledge soon rivaled classical scholarship; perhaps, in certain directions, even surpassed it in interest and importance. This was geography. It seldom happens in any age of the world that even a considerable minority of men, much less a majority, allow the claims of the past, however powerful, to outweigh the more pressing demands of the present or the promise of the future. Nor was this period of the so-called Renaissance, which was rising to its zenith during the fifteenth century, an exception to the rule. It was inevitable that, whatever the changes produced by a reviving interest in the past, men should desire to know not merely what had gone before but what lay about them; that, with the undoubted charm and importance of art, letters, and philosophy, men should be still more absorbed in the practical affairs of every day. No circumstance was more typical of the transition from the old to the new, therefore, than the advances made in the geographical sciences between the thirteenth and the sixteenth century.

The revival of geography

Before this time the most extensive knowledge of the world possessed by Europeans had been attained under the Roman Empire. Summarized first by Strabo in the first century of the Christian era, and a hundred and fifty years later by the greatest of the ancient geographers, Claudius Ptolemy of

Ancient knowledge of the world

Ptolemy's Map of the World, re-drawn from C. MŘller's edition, 1883-1906. This map, drawn by Claudius PtolemŠus of Alexandria in the second century A.D., become the basis of cartography when it revived in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. (See Ptolemy, 1540 map, p. 73.) It will be noted that it includes only the "known world," omitting the Pacific Ocean, the western hemisphere, and a great part of the Atlantic. The error consists in the elongation of the degree and measuring eastward from the Fortunate Isles (Insula Beatorum), thus greatly increasing the European-Asiatic land-mass and corresponding diminishing the size of the unknown world.

Alexandria, in the most famous of ancient maps, that knowledge was, of course, by no means perfect. It was naturally most accurate in the regions of the Mediterranean, the Red and the Black Seas; while the northern coasts of Europe were practically uncharted, and even the British Isles were distorted almost beyond recognition. Ptolemy's detailed knowledge of what was known as the "Inhabited World" was, in general, limited on the south by the Soudan and the upper Nile, which had been reached by the Romans; and on the east by the Jaxartes, which had been reached by Alexander. Beyond these he had some notion of more distant points; the Fortunate Isles on the west, whence he calculated his longitude eastward; the Mountains of the Moon on the south; the Pamirs; and even Serica, the land of silk, SinŠ, ThinŠ, or China on the east. The three southern peninsulas of Asia were indicated on his map. But other and earlier charts, based on the voyages of Greek merchants--the so-called Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, and the account of the geographer Marinus in particular, which were apparently unknown to Ptolemy,--reveal a greater knowledge of these regions than that evidenced by him as it has come down to us. Finally, through an error, long discouraging to navigators, the great geographer connected Africa and eastern Asia by an "unknown southern land," which converted the Indian Ocean into an inland sea, like the Mediterranean, and rendered a seaway to the East apparently impossible.

With all its faults, the geographical knowledge of the ancients was far from contemptible; but perhaps no branch of human enlightenment was more affected by the dissolution of Greek and Roman civilization. The shock of the barbarian invasions suddenly and violently contracted both the desire and the necessity for such knowledge. The Ptolemaic tradition was in large part neglected, distorted or forgotten. When it was revived, one great improvement and two great errors made by Ptolemy were revived with it, and, as sometimes happens, the errors proved more valuable than the accuracies. The Alexandrine geographer had devised a system of measuring latitude and longitude, in itself ingenious

MediŠval knowledge of the world

and useful; but, basing his calculations on insufficient knowledge, he had made the degree too long, and the circumference of the earth, in consequence, too small. Reckoning from the undetermined position of the Fortunate Isles eastward only, the apparent distance between western Europe and eastern Asia was thus greatly shortened, and men of later times were tempted to a voyage which otherwise might have seemed impossible. Long after his conception of a land connecting Africa and Asia was shown to be false, the tradition of a

The Hereford map, or picture of the world, drawn about 1280. (Reproduced from Jacobs's The Story of Geographical Discovery by permission of D. Appleton & Company.)

"terra australis incognita" lured them to a search which was in one sense confirmed by the discovery of an Antarctic continent, and, in another, rewarded by the finding of Australia.

Even with this interruption and these inaccuracies, had geography, when it began to revive, based itself on Ptolemy's maps and calculations and incorporated the new knowledge gained from generation to generation, the maps of the fifteenth century would have represented Europe and consid-

Monkish geography

erable parts of Asia with tolerable correctness. But cartography, like many other branches of knowledge which came into the hands of the church after the barbarian invasions, was revived less as a science than as a curiosity. Ptolemy's map gave place to that of a circular world, bounded by a circumscribing ocean, and arranged about Jerusalem as a center according to a passage, in Ezekiel, confirmed by the Psalms, "Thus saith the Lord God, this is Jerusalem, I have placed her in the midst of the peoples, and in the circuit of their lands." Paradise lay, as in Genesis, to the east. On the extreme west were the pillars of Hercules. To the northeast lay the home of the mythical Gog and Magog, shut off from Europe by the great iron gates built, according to mediŠval legend, by Alexander to close the only way by which the fierce pagan tribes of Asia could pass through the mountains into Europe. Such mingled theological and fabulous conceptions, grotesquely symbolic of the school which produced them, destroyed all usefulness of maps either as travelers' guides or aids to a true conception of the world. Of these the amazing work of the Alexandrian traveler, Cosmas Indicopleustes, with its impossible reconstruction of the world from Biblical texts, was the forerunner. Thereafter their degeneration was rapid and complete. The world was sometimes represented as a T within an O; the lines indicating water--the encircling ocean, the Mediterranean, the Don, and the Nile; and the white spaces land--Europe, Asia, and Africa. Outlines of countries became formalized; natural features gave way to pictures of fabulous monsters; lands which no man had ever seen, like those of the Amazons, were set down; and to complete and adorn their work the geographers "filled the blanks with elephants for towns."

If European knowledge of the outside world had been wholly confined to these, as even scholars long supposed, the discoveries of the fifteenth century would have been no less than miraculous. But, fortunately for mankind, geographical knowledge had not been restricted to the cloister. Independent of Ptolemy and the monkish map-makers alike, century after century, pilgrims, travelers, traders, and sailors

The mediŠval travelers

making their way throughout Europe and into Asia, and, recording their information thus gained in chronicle, itinerary, and chart, laid, slowly but surely, a new basis of knowledge. From the time of St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, who early in the fourth century journeyed to Jerusalem and there found the Sepulchre and the true cross, pilgrimages to the Holy Land became more and more frequent. Many, like Bishop Sighelm of Sherburne, Alfred's reputed emissary to Jerusalem and the shrine of St. Thomas in India, made that long journey "very prosperously, which a man would wonder at to-day . . . and returning home brought divers strange and precious stones . . . yet extant in the monuments of the church." As Christianity spread throughout the northern peoples from the fifth to the eleventh centuries the stream of pilgrims increased. This movement was at once stimulated and altered by the first crusade, which brought Jerusalem into Christian hands. Men like Adelard of Bath and Daniel of Kiev in the twelfth century returned from their travels in the Eastern Empire and among the Arabs with information even more precious than the jewels of Sighelm. Nor was it crusaders only who brought the armed power of Europe into touch with the infidel. Norse sea-rovers found their way across Russia to the Black Sea or around Spain into the Mediterranean to fight the Saracen. Adventurers, like Godric the English pirate, and like Sigurd of Norway and Edgar Etheling, who successively plundered the Moorish stronghold of Lisbon, at once narrowed the Mohammedan power and widened the knowledge of Christendom. Nor was interest and activity in the world outside of Europe confined to the East even in the earlier centuries. Before the first crusade, the Norsemen had discovered and settled Iceland and Greenland and even reached the eastern coast of North America; and Alfred had recorded in his translation of Orosius the reports of those stout captains, Othere and Wulfstan, who "dwelt northermost of all men," concerning their voyages to the north and east, to the furthest land of the Finns.

Early pilgrims and adventurers

Yet it was, after all, the East which chiefly inspired an interest stimulated alike by religion, trade, and curiosity. Strange stories of unknown Christian lands, of unnatural monsters, of amazing sights, of incredible wealth, attracted men no less, perhaps even more, than the sober truth with which they were inextricably mingled. As the Crusades went on, from the eleventh to the fourteenth century, the near East became as well known as most parts of Europe; and at the beginning of the thirteenth century a new series of extraordinary and unexpected events, unconnected with European history, for a time opened the farther East to European curiosity and enterprise. These were the conquests of the Tartars under the leadership of Jeughiz Khan and his successors. They fought with every people from Germany to China. They even prepared an armada against Japan; and their empire embraced the vast territory stretching from the Pacific to the Dnieper and later extended to Persia, Armenia, and Asia Minor.

The Tartar conquests


The nations of Europe were terrified at this advance, which many believed to be the irruption of the nations of Gog and Magog through the gates of Alexander that had so long confined them. But the Tartar conquests ceased with the occupation of the great steppes north of the Black Sea, and their power, once established, proved by no means hostile to western Europeans. On the contrary, it broke down many of the barriers to travel raised by the hostility of lesser tribes, and, once inside its far-reaching borders, the traveler found his journey was relatively easy and safe to the uttermost parts of Asia. At the same time the Tartars, not being Mohammedans, and inspired by no such crusading zeal as later fired the Turks, who were set on their long march ending at the Danube by this very Mongol invasion, even sought Christian missionaries from the west. Moreover, "just at the time when God sent forth into the Eastern parts of the world the Tartars to slay and to be slain, He also sent into the West His faithful and blessed servants, Dominic and Francis, to enlighten, instruct, and build up in the faith," through the great orders which they founded and which bear their names.

With these two circumstances the relations between the farther East and the West were completely altered. In particular the Franciscans took up the work of opening communication with the Mongols. About the middle of the thirteenth century, Friar John of Planocarpini had been sent to Tartary as an emissary of Innocent IV to the Great Khan, and brought back news of Kitai, Cathay, or China. Ten years later Friar John of Rubruquis, or Ruysbroek, went on a similar mission from Louis IX of France, and returned with news of Cipango, or Japan. Some missionaries settled in Tartary; a few found their way to China; and one, John of Montecorvino, even became famous as the so-called bishop of Pekin. Others had sought India, where the shrine of St. Thomas and a body of Nestorian Christians had long attracted pilgrims. In the first quarter of the fourteenth century, a certain Friar Odoric of Pordenone set out for China by way of India, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Cochin-China, and returned by way of Thibet, perhaps visiting Lhassa, accompanied part of the time by an Irish friar, James.

The missionaries



Some twenty years later, in response to an embassy from the "Khan of China," Benedict XII sent a mission under Giovanni de Marignolli, who crossed Asia to Pekin and thence, after some years, returned by much the same way Odoric had gone. In central Asia and in India these travelers saw relies not only of an older Nestorian Christianity but of martyred missionaries who had preceded them. In western Asia and in China, Odoric found houses of his own order. In India Marignolli visited the church founded at Quilon by Jordanus of Severac, consecrated bishop of Columbum. Everywhere Franciscan missionary enterprise was discovered actively at work, and everywhere were traces of those who were still busy with conversion, or those unnamed martyrs who "seeking Cathay found Heaven."

Thus while Christian and Mohammedan strove for supremacy in the Levant, far beyond that conflict the church was endeavoring to plant its faith in more distant fields by peaceful means. For many who sought those lands, interest Prester John was stimulated by one of the most striking legends which ever lured men to the unknown. This was the story of Prester John, a Christian potentate and priest, endowed by tradition with a kingdom whose location varied from the Mountains of the Moon to the Himalayas or beyond. The fable originated probably in the twelfth or thirteenth century, and was apparently compounded from the actual existence of such Christian communities as Abyssinia and the Indian Nestorians, and the more or less mythical kingdom of Karakorum. Confused with the exploits of Jenghiz Khan, and magnified by time, distance, and repetition, it was strengthened by the appearance of letters purporting to have been written by Prester John to his fellow Christian rulers of the West. The story defied the changes of time and circumstance. Thirty years after the fall of Constantinople a Portuguese king sending emissaries to the East gave them letters to this fabled potentate who, however short-lived and shadowy his real existence, for three hundred years dominated the imagination of Europe.

Yet, with all their great services, the missionaries had made less permanent contributions to knowledge and connection with Asia than the traders who followed in their wake. The recharting of the Mediterranean and the revival of the roadmaps or itineraries of Europe began very shortly after the barbarian conquests; indeed it is probable that such practical knowledge suffered less interruption than most kinds of learning. With pilgrimages, commercial enterprise, and Crusades strengthening relations with the near East and among the various nations of Europe, this information had been gradually enlarged and recorded, and was further reinforced by contact with the Arabs. Adventurous European merchants found their way past the western barriers of heathendom and, like the missionaries, brought back information as precious as the fruits of their trading. Though, as with trade secrets of to-day, such information was guarded jealously enough, there is no doubt that some, at least, of the merchant princes of northern Italy possessed road-maps and itineraries, word-books and tables of comparative money

The merchants

values, with similar material useful to the traveler from Florence to Peking.

Beside those far-reaching systems of exchange which north Italian merchants established across the plains of central Asia, with China and intermediate trading centers like Bokhara and Samareand, other lines of commerce ran to the south and east. From Venice and Genoa, from Marseilles and lesser ports, the vessels plied to those cities which fringed the eastern Mediterranean. And these, from Alexandria through Beirut and Smyrna to Constantinople, formed the outlet of caravan routes which brought hither the products of India and even more distant lands. From Alexandria across to Suez, or up the Nile and so over the desert to Suakin or Massowah, or still further south, the camels bore their loads to the ships which from those ports made their way past Aden into the Indian Ocean and so to the trading centers of the Malabar coast of India. From Beirut through Damascus to Bagdad, and so to Bassorah and the Persian Gulf, thence by vessel past Ormuz and again to India ran another of the great caravan routes. Or if by land, the traders from Bagdad pushed on to Kermanshah across Persia through Teheran or Ispahan and so through Afghanistan or Baluchistan again to India; while from those distant points still other ways led through northern Asia Minor to Smyrna or Constantinople. From the rich trading cities of India's western or Malabar coast, ships made their way to the still farther east, Java, Sumatra, the Spice Islands, to China itself, in this long, slender chain of trade which bound the East and West.

The trade-routes

It was, indeed, inevitable that the length and hardships of such a precarious commerce should confine exchange to the most precious and easily portable goods; it was no less inevitable that profits must be in proportion to distance and risk; and it followed, in consequence, that to European eyes the East appeared a land of illimitable resources; that these remote caravan centers of unfamiliar name and rare products should seem dream cities of unimagined wealth, full of romance and rich in opportunity. Thus early arose the legend of Asia's fabulous, incalculable treasures which fired Europe's adventurous spirit in later years to high emprise. Thus inspired, however slowly and however carefully guarded, knowledge of the East and the ways thither grew insensibly with the years, and with it an ever-increasing desire to share "the wealth of the Indies."

How considerable was this knowledge by the end of the thirteenth century is revealed in the story which the greatest of these adventurers has left us. This was Marco Polo, the Venetian, whose account of his travels marked the greatest advance in geographical knowledge since Ptolemy, and became the inspiration of like adventurous spirits for centuries. Toward the end of the thirteenth century, Polo's two uncles, embarking on a trading venture, made their way to Constantinople, thence to the Crimea, so to Bokhara, and finally to the capital of the Great Khan, then somewhere south and east of Lake Baikal. Returning after nine years of wandering, they brought to the Pope a request from the Khan for a hundred missionaries to teach and convert his people. This, probably the earliest and greatest opportunity ever offered the church to win the East, was neglected. After two years at home, the Polos left again for Tartary, traveling this time by way of Ormuz, Khorassan, the Oxus, Pamir, Gobi, and Kaipingfu.

Marco Polo


They took with them the young Marco, who attracted the attention of the Khan and entered his service. For twenty years, as counselor and diplomat, he served the Tartar prince, traveling on missions of state throughout the greater part of Asia, till, wearying of his employment, he returned to Venice toward the close of the thirteenth century. Within three years after his return he was taken prisoner while commanding a vessel in the war then going on between Venice and Genoa. He was thrown into prison, where one of his fellow-captives, a certain Rusticiano of Pisa, wrote out in French from dictation the Venetian's extraordinary narrative, which thus--by means scarcely less extraordinary than the author's own adventures--found its way to the knowledge of western Europe to enlighten and stimulate its


interest in the East. Its success bred imitators, among which that genial and accomplished book of marvels composed by the most eminent of fireside adventurers except the Baron Munchausen, Sir John Mandeville, was perhaps the most popular. Under such impulse of fact and fiction, missionary enterprise, and especially commercial activity, was directed more and more toward the fabulously rich land of wonders, from whose abundance the Venetian had brought back enough to give him the name of Messer Millione.

Though interest in the West, meanwhile, lacked the powerful religious motive, and the prospect of as great wealth as that to be won from India or China, the fascination of the unknown was as strong in the western seas as in those of the east, and the profits not to be despised. Aside from the Norse settlements in Greenland, it is probable that the hardy fishermen of western Europe early found their way to the Newfoundland banks, though their knowledge of those happy fishing grounds was long kept a secret for the same reasons that led men to conceal what they knew of the way to the East.

MediŠval knowledge of the Atlantic

But whatever the West lacked in trade it made up in legends. Somewhere in the north Atlantic floated the moving island of St. Brandan. Since the days of Plato and Aristophanes men had dreamed of the island-continent of Atlantis, somewhere to the west of Africa, which had transmitted its civilization to the western world and sunk into the ocean which bore its name. Somewhere, far to the west of the Fortunate Isles, lay the fabled island of Antilla and of the Seven Cities, seats of wealth and culture, rich in the lodestone of exploration, gold. Moreover, men were said to have visited this western world. Sometime in the twelfth century, the Welsh prince, Madoe, driven from home by civil war, had found refuge there, returned with his wonderful news, and sailed again, with many of his countrymen, to the new land. The Italian brothers Zeni, visiting the king of the Faroe or Shetland Islands, had found their way, under his direction, to transatlantic lands, rich, well-peopled, highly civilized, and had returned to tell the story. Most probable of all, the

Icelandic sagas told of Leif Erickson and the discovery, perhaps the settlement, of Vinland the Good.

But more than all the legends of east and west, even more than the travels of traders or missionaries, the improvement in the art of navigation was developing the new geography. The greatest problem of ancient and mediŠval sailors had been the difficulty of laying a fixed course through the open sea, out of sight of land. They could, it is true, use the sun or the north star in clear weather, but in cloudy seasons they were obliged to stay in touch with coast or island, or rely on pure good fortune. At least as early as the twelfth century, however, there had come into use a rude form of compass, a magnetic needle floating in a straw on water. This, first looked on as witchcraft, was gradually emancipated from the fear of the supernatural and improved. By the fourteenth century it took the form of a needle suspended by a pivot fixed upon a card which indicated the points of the compass. This device revolutionized not merely navigation but map-making as well, for it enabled cartographers to indicate the direction of coast lines, rivers, and roads, and the position of countries, cities, and natural features with respect to each other more exactly than had previously been possible. Beside this the seamen used a rude contrivance, the crossstaff, to measure altitudes; and, during the fifteenth century a more accurate instrument, the astrolabe, came into general use for the same purpose. As these were slowly supplemented by other aids derived from astronomical mathematics, tables of the sun's declination, and devices for measuring time, the scope and safety of navigation were greatly increased.

Improvements in navigation

Not a little of this knowledge was derived from the Arabs, among whom geographical knowledge had suffered something of the same fate as among Europeans, though modified by the peculiarly scientific spirit which characterized their intellectual advance. Their superstition, indeed, evolved wild legends of the western ocean, the Green Sea of Night, peopled with fearful moving monsters of rock, where the hand of Satan was depicted rising from the waves to seize the sacrilegious intruder; of the southern lands where the sun beat The arabs down with such fury as to make human life impossible, where rivers ran boiling water, and where was to be found that huge bird, the roe, capable of bearing two elephants in its claws. But the Arabian Nights' legend of the mountain of lodestone which drew the iron from vessels that approached it too closely and drowned their passengers did not prevent the Arabs from using bits of such metal to guide their ships. Their knowledge of the stars derived from their long desert existence was not so wedded to astrology that they could not

The World according to Ibn Haukal, 977. This "map," or diagram, has the south at the top. (Reproduced from Jacobs The Story of Geographical Discovery, Appleton).

draw from it a scientific and practical astronomy, and use the same art to direct their vessels by sea that they had long employed in their voyages across the no less trackless sands.

Moreover, situated as they were between East and West and North and South, they enjoyed unrivaled opportunities as middlemen in the great carrying trade between Europe, Asia, and Africa. By caravan and fleet, therefore, they became the great intermediaries between India, Persia, and the Levant, the Soudan and the Sahara and southern Europe. Damascus, Bagdad, and especially Alexandria, became great centers of eastern trade, and it was largely from them that not merely goods but the ideas of the tropical world, East and West, with improved aids to navigation, came into Europe. Here, too, the south-Europeans were first to profit. As early as the middle of the twelfth century, the most eminent of Arab geographers, Edrisi of Sicily, completed his great geography under the patronage of the Norman king, Roger II, and from that time-Arab influence was strong in those south-European regions where commerce most flourished. Nor was that connection so greatly affected by the Crusades as one might suppose. The greatest of those wars seldom checked it for long, and, apart from the actual scene of conflict or the actual powers involved, commerce seems to have gone on much as usual. Moreover, profit not seldom triumphed over faith. In most north African ports Italian houses had their factories, and, at times, as in a famous incident at Ceuta when the men of Genoa aided the Saracelis in beating off a crusading fleet, Christian and infidel trader even joined forces against religious enthusiasts.


Thus, in the interests of commerce, sailors gained knowledge on every hand; and this knowledge, their stock in trade, they embodied in charts of the coasts they traversed, plotting the Mediterranean world in portulani, or port-guides, which grew steadily from generation to generation in extent and accuracy. In the last half of the thirteenth century appeared a famous product of this activity. This was the so-called Catalan map which at once summed up preceding knowledge of the Mediterranean world and became the model for later portulani. Such an influence once established gradually found its way into more formal scientific geography. Before the middle of the fourteenth century Angelico Dulcert of Majorca produced a map of the world, modeled on the portulani, which delineated the Mediterranean coast line with almost modern exactness. Some thirty-five years later another Majorean, Cresquez, added to this the knowledge of the further East contributed by Marco Polo. With such innovations, geography, associating itself with discovery, and presently with astronomy, began again to assume an aspect

Maps and charts



at once accurate and scientific; and though as yet the question of the earth's sphericity had not come into the realm of practical affairs, its consideration could not long be delayed.

The Mediterranean coast in the Portulano of Dulcert, 1339; adapted from Nordenski÷ld, Facsimile Atlas, p. 31. This sketch map, re-drawn from the Dulcert Portulano, indicates the correctness of the mariners' charts in comparison with the formalized pictures of the world of the mediŠval monkish maps, like the Hereford map, p. 67. It will be observed that though strikingly accurate in the central and southern portion, its author's knowledge of northern Britain and Ireland was extremely limited. (Reproduced from Jacobs The Story of Geographical Discovery by permission of D. Appleton & Company.)

While seamen and geographers were busy plotting the known world for practical purposes, men of science, appealing to classical and to Arabian knowledge of the skies, were busily engaged in rescuing astronomy from the astrological
absurdities into which it had fallen; and were transforming the study of the stars from prophecy and divination into a mathematical science. Not until the seventeenth century was the Copernican system to be widely known, and until it was fairly adopted mediŠval ideas of the universe cannot be said to have been overthrown; but by the middle of the fifteenth century many of its fondest traditions had been shattered and the way opened for a truer conception of a new heaven and a new earth. Thus at the very moment when Europe, divided against itself in political affairs, weak and open to attack, had lost no small part of its territory to Asia and seemed about to lose still more, the revival of its intellectual forces, which were to renew its power and increase its capacity at once for progress and for offensive action, was reaching its culmination.

The direction which it took was in some measure due to the very successes of the Turks themselves. As long as the Tartar empire endured and the Arabs held the ways to southern Asia, the trade-currents ran in the old lines unaltered. But the Turks were little more than fighters. Where they went intellectual life virtually disappeared, and commerce, though it went on, never attained the proportions it had enjoyed under the Byzantine Empire. Their capture of Constantinople practically closed one door to the East. And their ensuing conquests by land and sea, thanks to the almost constant state of war which their activities introduced into the Mediterranean world, even more than their own uncommercial spirit, erected further barriers between Europe and Asia till little beside Egypt was left open as a means of communication. One by one the outposts of Venice and Genoa fell into their hands; and though both these proud cities contended against them, it was, amid the rivalries at home, a losing fight.

The Turkish conquest and the decline of Italian commerce

The early, unquestioned leadership in commerce, education, finance, and the intellectual renaissance had been held by Italy. But, in the face of changing conditions, it became evident on the fall of Constantinople that, whatever the fruits of the new movement in geography and exploration, whatever the solution of the difficulties now raised, the rewards were not for those cities which had so long held the commercial pre-eminence of Europe. Their supremacy was doomed, and the splendid energies which had raised them to such heights were worn out in a vain struggle against the inevitable, or diverted to other channels. North as well as south the day of the commercial city state and the tradingleague was passing; and with their decline went the predominance of Italy and the Mediterranean in European commerce and politics. Their place was taken by other kinds of organization, the national state and the various forms of trading enterprise which rose on the extinction of the older order. Among these one in particular had already made a beginning in the movement which was to revolutionize the world, The state which was to lead the way to the political and commercial expansion of Europe, as Italy was to lead to a new era of intellectual advance, was not Venice nor Genoa, but Portugal.


The fall of Constantinople was the crisis which accentuated the passing of the old order; but nearly forty years before that great catastrophe a series of no less important though less spectacular events had already ushered in the new. From Italy had begun that exploration into the mysteries of the classical civilization which had done much to stir an interest in matters but little touched in the prevailing ecclesiasticism of intellectual Europe. From the Iberian peninsula had come an impulse toward the expansion of European power and knowledge into the no less mysterious domains which, beginning just across the strait of Gibraltar, stretched far beyond the knowledge of the Roman world, or the imagination of the middle ages. Into these almost equally remote and uncharted regions adventurous scholars and warriors, of different nations, of widely different aims, and as yet wholly unknown to each other, had begun to penetrate. From these two streams of influence, scholarship and exploration, which, rising from widely separated sources, tended unconsciously to join, was to spring that full tide of progress which was to revive all European activity.


WHATEVER its relation to the other movements in continental affairs, nowhere in Europe was the development of what we have come to know as national states during the fifteenth century more active than in the Spanish peninsula, and nowhere were its results earlier apparent. Every phase of that development had long been conditioned by the presence of an alien race. Seven hundred years earlier, Mohammedan power had swept across the straits of Gibraltar, whose name, Jebir al Tarik, still perpetuates that of its Arab leader; had overwhelmed the Visigothic kingdom in Spain, passed the Pyrenees, and penetrated to the Loire before it broke on Frankish resistance. Before that power it had receded again into the peninsula. But seven centuries of crusading warfare waged against it by those Christian states which survived its first onset in the mountains of the north and west had reduced its possessions to the little principality of Granada in the extreme south, and even this was hard pressed by its rivals.

The Spanish peninsula


These states meanwhile had risen to the rank of petty kingdoms. Navarre had not greatly altered its size and condition. But Aragon had extended her sway to the Ebro and the sea, to the islands and even to southern Italy; while Castile, uniting with Leon, had wrested the central plateau of Spain from the Moslem. And, on the west, the little duchy of Oporto, joining her conquests south of the Tagus to her older possessions, had formed the kingdom of Portugal. In all of these the long struggle with the infidel had not merely modified social, economic, and political conditions. It had inspired the people with a crusading zeal which profoundly c. 1253 affected national character. Proud, chivalrous, and adventurous, it was often heroic, sometimes fantastic, but always a force to be reckoned with in peace or war.

Alone among the states of the peninsula at the beginning of the fifteenth century, Portugal had reached her final bounds and status. These were, indeed, not great. Small, poor, sparsely populated, worn with wars, she was cut off from continental Europe and hope of expansion on land by her powerful rival, Castile, against whom she maintained even her independence with difficulty. However well adapted to defense, her small and broken territory offered no great advantages to the furtherance of national unity or wealth. Her swift and turbulent rivers afforded scant communication with the interior, and their narrow valleys, which formed the greater part of the habitable land, were separated by mountain ranges and susceptible of cultivation on a large scale only in their lower reaches. Agriculture, thus restricted by nature, was still further hampered by the fact that the great estates of crown, nobility, the church, and the powerful military order of the Knights of Christ, had not merely checked the increase of small holdings, but were themselves not greatly productive. Moreover, Portugal's manufactures were almost negligible and her native products inconsiderable. By sea she was of more consequence; for her fisheries were of some importance, and of her half-dozen harbors, the best, that of her chief city, was a much frequented port of call and exchange between the Mediterranean and northern Europe. Her commerce, though not of first-rate importance, was far-reaching; and, with her navy, brought her in touch with other sea-going peoples, especially those of Genoa, England, and Flanders.


To this she owed much. From the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the Genoese, Emmanuel Pessanha, had organized Portugal's navy, the "mother city of seamen" had been relied on to officer its ships. Portuguese indebtedness to England was even greater and of longer standing. As early as the middle of the twelfth century, English forces had helped to take Lisbon from the Moors, and two hundred


and forty years later the long series of treaties which had ensued between the two countries was crowned by the marriage of the Portuguese king, John I, with Philippa, daughter of John of Gaunt and sister of him who was to ascend the English throne as Henry IV. With the aid resulting from that alliance, Portugal had finally repelled Castilian aggression and was now prepared to enter the most glorious period of her history. When, in the course of that splendid career, the Atlantic islands came into her hands, no small part of their original population was drawn from the Netherlands, whose ruler, the Duke of Burgundy, had married the daughter of John and Philippa.


Thus conditioned by circumstances, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the ambitious energy of her king, relieved from the menace of Castilian aggression, found no outlet for its energies but the sea and the Moors. There, at least, opportunity was always at hand. Though long since driven from Portuguese territory to its strongholds across the straits, Arzilla, Tangier, and especially Ceuta, "the key of all the Mediterranean sea," Arab power had remained a menace to Portuguese coasts and commerce and a support to the Moorish kingdom of Granada. This was now to be the scene of one of the world's most momentous exploits.

The capture of Ceuta


The sons of King John were come of knightly age, and this circumstance was seized upon as the opportunity for the great adventure. Instead of the costly and useless tournaments incident to the ceremony of their knighting, the king was persuaded to undertake a real warlike expedition into Africa; and to this end he summoned his subjects to a new crusade against the Moors. Preparations were made on a scale commensurate with the greatness of the exploit. Adventurers of all nations flocked to his standard to share the glory and the spoil; and in July, 1415, at the same moment that his English cousin prepared that enterprise which culminated in his victory of Agincourt, the great armada, a hundred ships and eighty thousand men, according to report, sailed forth to the conquest of Ceuta, blessed by the dying prayers of the heroic queen. Investing the city with this overwhelming force, the king, like his royal English kinsman at, CrÚcy, seventy years before, left the burden and the glory of the conflict to his sons. One day's fierce fighting gave the place into their hands; the governor fled, the castle surrendered, and the political expansion of Europe had begun.

Not because it was a novel conception or a great catastrophe, butt because it gave fresh direction and impetus to a farreaching movement, the fall of Ceuta marks a turning-point in human affairs. It was, in the inception of the exploit, the echo of a feudalism already on the wane in many parts of the continent. In its execution it was but carrying across the strait that long conflict with the Moorish power which had absorbed the energies of Portugal for centuries and still vexed the other states of the peninsula on their own borders. But, in a larger view, it was the connecting link between the older crusading movement which sought to win back Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher from the infidel, and the modern conception of winning the world for commerce and for Christianity. Not the least of its claims to importance is that it brought forth the first great figure in that farspreading movement whose direction he was so largely to determine--the young prince Henry, third son of John and Philippa, then some twenty years of age. To him the capture of Ceuta had been chiefly due, and, knighted with his brothers for his share in this feat of arms, he was presently made governor of the new conquest as well as of the southernmost Portuguese district of the Algarve, and created grand master of the crusading Order of Christ.

Prince Henry the Navigator


These circumstances inspired him with a great design. At that, time the southernmost point known to Europeans was Cape Bojador on the West African coast; beyond it, as in all northern Africa, trade and knowledge of the land was in Arab hands. There ran what was supposed to be the western branch of the Nile, the Senegal, by which, it was thought, a way could be found to the East and its unknown Christian peoples, even to the fabled kingdom of Prester John. Once past the cape, rich trade might be secured, Mohammedan power attacked in flank and rear, with the aid of Eastern Christendom; and, lastly, "was his great desire to make increase in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to bring to Him all the souls that should be saved." Thus the young prince dreamed of a greater crusade and a greater Portugal. In this faith he took upon himself a task that grew under his hand; till, for near fifty years after King John's great expedition, the history of European expansion is little more than the story of the Prince's life.

The progress of his enterprise was sure if not rapid. Ceuta secured against recapture, information was gathered there of the lands beyond; map-makers and mathematicians were employed to collect, organize, and formulate geographical and astronomical knowledge. To combat the heavier seas and currents of the Atlantic, so difficult for the Mediterranean galleys, the building of larger and stronger square- or lateen-rigged, sail-driven ships, which developed into the famous caravels, was encouraged. To lay a course through fog and dark and unknown seas, independent of headlands and uncharted coasts, various aids to navigation were introduced and improved; especially devices to measure time and distance, to reckon latitude and longitude, and to determine location and direction. The university of Lisbon and Coimbra was strengthened; new ports were projected for the anticipated needs of the enterprise; commerce was stimulated and discovery encouraged by promise of reward. And, on the southwesterly point of Portugal, at Sagres, the Sacred Cape, where, seven centuries before, Christians fleeing before the fury of Mohammedan invasion had borne and buried the body of the holy St. Vincent, were built a study, an observatory, and a chapel. There the Prince planned a city to rival Cadiz, the Villa do Iffante, and thence he directed his counterstroke against the Moslem, his crusade against the infidel and the unknown. Year by year he sent out ships to find their way down the African coast and across to the islands, charting the way for merchants who would "never trouble themselves to go to a place where there is not a sure and certain hope of profit"; striving to learn "determinatively

c. 1435

how far the power of those infidels extended, for the glory of God and the profit of Portugal."

Prince Henry the Navigator was not, indeed, the first to dream of African exploitation. From ancient times most of the islands toward which his early ventures were directed had been found and lost and found again. A dozen years before the capture of Ceuta, a Norman knight, Jean de Bethencourt, under Spanish authority, had seized a group whose Roman name, Canaria, Isles of the Dogs, witnessed how long they had been known to Europeans. Since Ptolemy had laid down the. Fortunate Isles on his map, many had found their way thither. A century and a third before de Bethencourt, the Genoese, Malocello, had discovered and given his name to one of the group. Seventy years later the Pope had granted them to a Spaniard, Don Luis of Talmond; and, at almost the same time, an expedition from Portugal had reached and claimed them for that power. When Prince Henry's work began, their title had long been in dispute; and the controversy, complicated by Bethencourt's nephew, who sold his claims to both powers, dragged on for nearly a century before it was finally determined in favor of Spain.

Portuguese advance in Africa and the Atlantic

--the Canaries



But, though anticipated here, Prince Henry was more fortunate in other quarters of the same field. Scarcely had he entered on his work when his captains, John Gonsalvez Zarco and Tristan Vaz Texeira, came upon a group of uninhabited islands north of the Canaries. One, where they found refuge from shipwreck, they called Porto Santo; another, Deserta; the third and largest, which gave name to the group, Madeira, or Isle of Woods, from the forests which covered it. Seventy years before, the story runs, two lovers, Robert Machin and Anne d'Arset, or Dorset, eloping from Bristol, had been cast ashore here and perished. Their sailors escaping to Africa and Arab slavery, Zareo is said to have first learned of the islands from the pilot, whom he captured as that ancient mariner was returning to Seville from his long imprisonment. The story is not probable, but the reality is scarcely less romantic. Granted to Prince Henry

The Madeiras


by the crown, and regranted by him to the discoverers, the spiritualities of the new territories were decreed to the Order of Christ, and the produce, when the demands of church and state were satisfied, divided equally between the prospective owners and cultivators. To Zareo was given northern Madeira, centering in Machico, whose name romance derived from Machin; Funchal and the south, with Deserta, to Texeira. And Porto Santo was conferred on a certain Bartholomew Perestrello, whose daughter, in later years, became the wife of a Genoese adventurer, one Christopher Columbus, of much fame thereafter.

Such were the beginnings of colonial grants, and under their terms exploitation rapidly advanced. Settlers were secured, the forests were destroyed, and the land set in vineyards and sugar plantations. The Malvoisie grape, presently introduced from Crete, produced a famous wine, which took its name from the islands, Madeira; and this, with wood for furniture and houses, honey and sugar, made up the staples of the colony. So great was the success of this the first and for many years the greatest of European settlements outside the continent, that within thirty years its population numbered eight hundred souls. Encouraged by such development, in no long time the Azores, or Islands of the Hawks, like their fellows long known and long neglected, were brought, by the Prince's efforts, permanently within the circle of European influence. Of these but one, Graciosa, was colonized by his own countrymen. The rest were settled from the Netherlands, as Josua of Bruges in Terceira, van der Haagen in Flores and Corvo, and Job van Heurter in Fayal, planted settlements, which long gave to the group the name of the Flemish Islands.

The Azores 1427

But the energy of the Portuguese was far from exhausting itself on the islands. From the first the continent had claimed their attention. There, as in the Atlantic, they could scarcely be regarded as pioneers; for as early as the thirteenth century the great Genoese houses of Doria and Vivaldi had sent their galleys down the west-African coast seeking fresh fields of trade, at least as far as Cape Non; and, long before Prince

The Guinea coast

Henry's time, Italian, French, and Spanish vessels had made their way to Cape Bojador. But, until now, progress had ended there. That great cape, stretching far into the Atlantic, guarded by treacherous shoals and baffling winds and currents, had proved an obstacle to further advance more substantial than the Arab legends of the fearful dangers beyond.

For many years it defied even the Prince's efforts. But with the return of his brother, Pedro the Traveler, from knight-errant wanderings across Europe, bringing with him stories of strange lands and peoples, charts and maps and books among them Marco Polo's Travels, Portuguese exertions were redoubled; and, after one failure, the Prince's esquire, Gil Eannes, finally rounded the cape and sailed into the open sea beyond. Two years later Portuguese ships reached and passed the Rio de Oro or River of Gold. With the advent of their keels the serpent rocks, the boiling rivers, and the hand of Satan receded into the realm of fable whence they had emerged, and real knowledge of the south began.



Such a success gave promise of great and speedy reward, but exploration was interrupted at this point for some five years by politics at home and an unsuccessful attempt on

The beginnings of the slave-trade

Tangier, and when Prince Henry resumed his task it had taken on a new form. One of his esquires, Antonio Gonsalvez, voyaging to the Rio de Oro for seal-skins and oil some seven years after Eannes' exploit, seized there two natives. Nu˝o Tristam, who joined him and sailed on to Cape Blanco, followed his example and brought back the captives to Portuval. The suggestion was not lost. Securing from the Pope a bull for the remission of sins to those embarking on the new crusade, and from his brother Pedro, now Regent, a charter granting him monopoly of the African trade with a fifth of its profits, Prince Henry began to issue licenses to private enterprise. The venture which had hitherto relied on his resources now attracted many with a prospect of profit. Encouraged by the success of the men of Lagos who first entered the trade, others hastened to share their privileges. Within five years, it is said, forty ships brought more than a thousand slaves into Portugal, "of whom the greater part were turned to the true path of salvation." Thus the second step was taken in the exploitation of the tropics. To provide Portugal and her possessions with cheap labor able to endure exertions impossible to Europeans in a hot climate, and to bring the heathen under Christian influence, slave-catching took its place beside planting. And if the greed of gain shortly outweighed the missionary spirit, the Prince at least, while he lived, did what he could to check the baser and promote the nobler motive.


Whatever the moral aspect of the case, whatever elements of future weakness it held, there is no question but that Portugal profited for the moment very greatly by this new element in her affairs. The economic situation, already stimulated by Atlantic colonies and African trade, was revolutionized by the advent of slavery. Agriculture and commerce took on new life. Estates and fortunes crippled by war and lack of labor began to revive. Exploration was correspondingly stimulated. Zarco's nephew made his way as far as Cape Verde, and a fort was built in the Bay of Arguin to secure that district. Gonsalvez was named governor of Lanzarote in the Canaries and efforts were made to wrest

The results of slavery



that group from Castile. With the accession of the Prince's nephew to the throne as Alfonso V, the crusade against the north African Moors was resumed, and in the year after the fall of Constantinople Prince Henry's monopoly was fortified by a Papal bull forbidding any Christian to trade in the territory between Cape Non and the Guinea coast without Portuguese license. The Venetian, Ca da Mosta, voyaging a few years later through the new possessions, has left a vivid picture of the vigor and success of this colonial empire in the making. Everywhere he found the evidences of its strength and activity, and the promise of its rapid development: the sea dotted with its ships, the islands and the mainland held by its settlements and trading posts, and its promoters filled with the hopes and ambitions of a new society.


Already the purpose and character of the movement was I changing. Close in the Venetian's wake sailed the Prince's captain, Diego Gomez, commissioned to explore the Cape Verde Islands, sighted some fifteen years earlier by the brothers Noli; and instructed, besides, to secure information of the gold-producing lands to the eastward in Africa, above all, of a sea-way to India. For, with the success in exploiting the islands and the west coast trade, the dream of Atlantic and African expansion had inevitably widened into the design of reaching Asia around Africa. That crowning achievement of his long career Prince Henry was not to see, for before the results of Gomez' mission were available his master was dead. The aim of the Portuguese hero's lifework, begun and carried on in the spirit of his motto, "resolve to do greatly," is fitly summed up in his epitaph, which records how he labored "that he might lay open the regions of western Africa across the sea hitherto impossible to men, and sail around Africa to the remotest shores of the East." And though this last statement was rather a prophecy and a hope than an achievement of his life; though the splendid map of Fra Mauro, which records his additions to European knowledge, shows no sea-way to Asia yet traveled by men of his generation; that discovery was none the less the chief

The way about Africa


result of his activities. Crusader, scientist, statesman, Prince Henry laid the foundations of an empire, and pointed the way to further greatness, determining the future, not of his country alone, but of the world.

Scarcely interrupted by his death, the Portuguese pressed to the accomplishment of his designs. From Arguin, strengthened into a fortress, successive expeditions reached Sierra Leone and the Bight of Benin. The Guinea trade was farmed on terms which compelled the exploration of five hundred leagues of coast southward; and, nearer home, after eight years of effort, Portuguese power in northwestern Africa was secured by the capture of Arzilla and Tangiers. At the same time Fernando Po reached the island which still bears his name, while Estravos and Santarem passed the Equator. With these achievements the way to the East seemed almost in sight; but again further progress was interrupted by renewed war with Castile, and still more by the lack of aids to navigation in the southern hemisphere with its strange constellations, and these for a time checked the Portuguese advance.

The accession of John II saw both difficulties remedied. Peace was made with Castile, and the Gold Coast secured by the fort of S. Jorge de Mina; a royal geographical council was formed to remedy the deficiencies of the astrolabe and navigators' tables. To its deliberations was summoned foreign aid. Adventurers and promoters of all sorts, attracted by the Portuguese exploits, flocked to Lisbon. From Nuremberg came the German merchant-geographer, Martin Behaim, son-in-law of Governor van Heurter of Fayal, with the latest achievements of the German map-makers and mathematicians. From Florence the librarian-geographer, Toscanelli, despatched a letter and a map of the world which showed lands west of the Azores and hinted of a way to Asia by that route. From Majorca and Minorca was drawn what remained of that great tradition of cartography which had long flourished there. The results were soon apparent. Within four years of the new king's accession, Diego Cam and Behaim found the Congo and reached Walfisch Bay. In two

The Cape of Good Hope

This map is a reconstruction from that which Columbus is said to have received from the Italian geographer Toscanelli, and represents very accurately the ideas of pre-Columbian times. It will be observed that the islands of Antilla and of St. Brandan break the journey to Cipango, Java, and the Asiatic mainland. This reproduction is made after the figure in Kretschmer, Entdeckung Amerikas, 1892, and should be compared with the Behaim Globe, p. 94. Martin Behaim's globe of 1492. (From J. G. Doppelmayer.)

years more Bartholomew Diaz reached the most southerly point of Africa, conquered the baffling head-winds of its Cabo Tormentoso, or Cape of Storms, re-named the Cape of Good Hope, and sailed five hundred miles beyond that hard-won point, fair on the way to India. With this exploit Prince Henry's work was fitly crowned.


Yet, with the prize within their grasp, the Portuguese, this time almost unaccountably, again were held back from seizing it. Assailed by doubts and fears; obsessed with visions of Eastern potentates; hampered, perhaps, by the king's ill-health, the royal council spent its strength in securing what had been won. It sought further information from monkish pilgrims, from Arab and from negro sources, strove to penetrate to Prester John by way of Senegal, and finally despatched two men, Pedro de Covilham and Affonso de Paiva, through Egypt to India with letters to the elusive Christian potentate. Meanwhile the west coast of Africa was secured. Along the shore were set up stone pillars, bearing the arms of Portugal, with the name and date of the discoverer; and protectorates were established over native chieftaincies. From Spain was secured renunciation of her claims on Guinea in return for Portugal's abandoning her pretensions to the Canaries; from the Papacy, the confirmation of the privileges it had previously conferred. While these precautionary measures were being taken, the royal messengers reached Aden by way of Cairo. Thence Paiva sailed for Abyssinia and was lost. Covilham, reaching Calicut, returned by way of Sofala and east Africa, learned at Cairo of his companion's death; and turned back to Abyssinia to find Prester John. Well received, he married and remained there, half guest, half captive, until his death. But from Cairo he had sent back letters by a Jewish merchant. "If you persist to the southward," he wrote, ignorant of Diaz's exploit, "Africa will come to an end. When the ships come to the, Eastern Ocean, let them ask for Sofala and the island of the Moon [ Madagascar] and they will find pilots to take them to Malabar." This, it would have seemed, should have determined immediate action. But not even this definite con-

Covilham and Paiva

firmation of its hopes moved the Portuguese administration. Beyond a grant to one Fernam Dolmos, Lord of Terceira, of the "isles or continent" of Antilla, if he should discover that fabled land, the importunities of those who were urging the plan of reaching the East by sailing west had as little effect as the achievement of Diaz or the letters of Covilham. And before Portugal and her king had recovered from their long fit of lethargy, a great event had altered the whole current of the world's affairs. This was the discovery of the transatlantic passage and the lands of the western hemisphere.

That exploit, however startling in its conception and results, 'grew naturally from the circumstances of the times in which it fell. Amid the crowd of adventurers drawn to Portugal by the fame of her achievements oversea during the fifteenth century there came to Lisbon, toward the close of Alfonso V's reign, a young Genoese, Christopher Columbus, then between twenty-five and thirty years of age. The son of a weaver and innkeeper, he had followed the sea and picked up some knowledge of map-making and navigation. In Lisbon he married into the family of Perestrello, the grantee of Porto Santo, and thus improved his social status, and, in a sense, laid the foundation of his fortunes. He voyaged, as he claimed, to England, perhaps to Iceland, certainly to Porto Santo, where he lived some years, and almost as certainly to Africa, where rumor indicates his presence at the founding of S. Jorge de Mina. At all events, something in this obscure early career brought him the conviction that land was to be found beyond the westernmost islands then known.

Christopher Columbus


The belief was not original with him nor confined to his brain. Like the conception a generation before of a sea-way around Africa, the opinion that land was to be found by sailing west,--great islands and beyond them Asia--was held by many. The Ptolemaic tradition, reinforced by new discoveries, forecastle yarns and travelers' tales, the classical reminiscences of Antilla and Atlantis, the legends of the Seven Cities and St. Brandan's Isle, the discovery of Vinland by the Norsemen--some or all of these he must some-

His design

where have heard. Perhaps, as tradition records, an unknown pilot, blown from his course to new lands in the west, confined his secret to the Genoese. Perhaps his belief was founded on Toseanelli's letter, which came into his hands, it has been surmised, by means which led to his leaving Portugal. However this may be, some eight years after his arrival in Lisbon, the Italian adventurer submitted his design to the king. It comprised four points: that the earth was a sphere, that all save the part between Asia and Europe was known, that this was perhaps not more than a third of the total circumference, and that there were probably islands to break a long voyage. Tradition records that the council sent a ship secretly to test the plan, and that on its return from a fruitless voyage, Columbus, disgusted with Portuguese duplicity, left the country.

To one less inspired or less persistent than Columbus this final rebuff might well have ended his endeavors; but, fortunately for his fame, the realization of his dream had become a master passion which enabled him to surmount rebuff and ridicule alike. Leaving Portugal, he carried his plan to Genoa, while his brother, Bartholomew, laid it before Henry VII of England. But it met with no response in either place, and it seemed the end had come. Every state of maritime importance, save Venice, had rejected him, and there was left only the Spanish crown, which had already turned him away. This last, however, remained his only hope, and to it, supported and encouraged by his friend, Father Perez, the Prior of la Rabida, sometime confessor to Queen Isabella, he determined to apply once more.

His preparation

The moment was, in one sense, favorable. The years which had elapsed since Columbus first went to Portugal had seen the whole complexion of Spanish affairs altered; and at this crisis in his fortunes and those of Spain came an event which determined the future of both. This was the final successful .attack then being carried on against the Moorish stronghold of Granada, which was to make an end of Arab power iii the peninsula. Thus freed from its most ancient enemy, flushed with success, the crown, now all but supreme, was no less ready for new enterprise than Spanish chivalry for a new exploit. Such was the country and the court to which Columbus now addressed himself. His cause was well-nigh lost by the extravagance of his pretensions, for misfortune had not taught him humility. But, four months after the fall of the Moorish stronghold, his persistence was rewarded by a charter granting him the title of Grand Admiral and almost complete monopoly of all privileges and profits in any lands he might discover.

With this concession, backed by the support of capitalists of Palos, chiefly the family of Pinzon, ships and crews were collected; and on August 3, 1492, he sailed from Palos in the Santa Maria of a hundred tons, accompanied by the Pinta of sixty tons under Martin Pinzon, and the Ni˝a of fifty tons under Vincente Pinzon. Eighty-six men, chiefly from about Palos, but including at least one Englishman and an Irishman, made up the crews. Refitting at the Canaries, the little fleet sailed thence on September 3, across the unknown sea. Filled with nameless fears, half mutinous, only Columbus' will held his reluctant followers on their course until two o'clock on the morning of October 12, Rodrigo de Triana, lookout of the Pinta, saw a land light, and the ships hove to. When day broke, the adventurers found themselves off a small island, Guanahani, one of the Bahamas as it later appeared, upon which, in the presence of a few friendly, half-naked savages, they landed, took possession in the name of Spain, and called the place San Salvador.

His discovery

Sailing thence they discovered other islands. The largest, which Columbus believed "the continental province of Cathay" and christened Juana, in honor of the Spanish Infanta, has, after bearing many designations, Fernandina, Santiago, and Ave Maria, returned to its original native name of Cuba. The next, later known as Santo Domingo and Hayti, he called Espa˝ola. The name of the group, the Antilles, echoes the tradition of Antilla; that of the West Indies perpetuates his error, for he had no doubt that he had reached Asiatic territory. The Santa Maria having been

His return

wrecked, he left some of his sailors on Espa˝ola to found a little settlement, Navidad, and hastened to carry the news of his discovery to Spain. Eleven months after the date of his patent, he arrived with proofs of his success. There was need of haste. His contemporary, Behaim, had meanwhile completed in Nuremberg a globe representing the latest geographical knowledge, and proposed to attempt such a voyage as that of Columbus. But he was too late. By his daring the Genoese adventurer, forestalling his rivals, had destroyed even the most advanced conceptions of geography, and had equalized for Spain the long and toilsome advance of Portugal in oceanic expansion. As his coat of arms later recorded,

"To Castile and Leon, Columbus gave a New World."

If Portuguese discovery had unsettled mediŠvalism in Europe, Columbus' exploit seemed likely to destroy it. Upon the balance of trade and commerce generally the effect was not then, nor for some time, appreciable. From his voyage the discoverer brought back a few natives, a little gold, and some curious products of the western hemisphere; and for a generation this represented its contribution to the old world's material resources. But upon European thought the effect was immediate and profound, and upon its politics only less important. A thousand years of ecclesiastical conceptions of earth and man fell at a stroke. Shrewd individuals here and there doubted or discounted or denied his claim that he had found his way to the East Indies. But geographical and astronomical as well as theological ideas were none the less replaced or modified by a whole new series of deductions and hypotheses, no less important because the truth was not yet known and in many quarters judgment was still suspended.

The results

In public affairs the first result of Columbus' great exploit was the destruction of the practical monopoly of exploration by Portugal. It became immediately necessary to readjust the claims to lands outside Europe in accordance with the new situation which he created. Some thirteen years earlier, Pope Martin V, as arbiter of Christendom, had confirmed

The division of the world

This map--which is approximately the size of the original--is taken from Nordenski÷ld Periplus, and is there, copied from v. Wieser. It was made, apparently, as the first of three, about 1503, and probably represents Columbus' own views of the geography of the lands he found. It is the first map to contain the name Mondo Novo, the New World and was drawn by Bartholomew Columbus, the Admiral's brother. It will be observed that the New World is connected with Asia (and Serica, "the land of silk") and that Cuba is not shown. It has been conjectured by v. Wieser that this omission is due to the fact that Columbus believed Cuba to be a part of the mainland. See Nordenski÷ld, as above, and v. Wieser, Die Karte des Bartolomeo Colombo, etc., 1893.

to Portugal the territories from Cape Bojador to the East Indies. Now, Pope Alexander VI assigned to Spain all lands beyond a line a hundred leagues west of the Azores, to which he presently added "and eastern regions to India." But Portugal protested and, in the following year, the treaty of Tordesillas fixed the line two hundred and seventy leagues further west; and here, for the time, the matter rested, while Spain devoted her energies to exploitation of her position in the new world. With that, and the discoveries of Portugal, the Mediterranean era of European history came to an end and the oceanic period began.

3-4 May 1493

25 Sept. 1493

7 June 1494

Whatever its influence on Europe, the effect of Columbus' discovery on his adopted country was immediate and powerful. Flushed with its victory over the Moors, the crown was eager for further exploits. The land was filled with men, trained to war, hating the infidel, brave, adventurous, poor, and now suddenly, on the fall of Granada, without an occupation. To such a society a new world came like a gift from Heaven. Reinforced by loans from private sources, the crown found money for a second expedition out of church tithes and confiscated property of the Jews, banished from Spain the year before. Recruits flocked to the standard of the "captain-general," and, six months from his return, Columbus sailed again with seventeen ships, a thousand recruits, two hundred volunteers; and, once at sea, this force was unexpectedly increased by the appearance of three hundred stowaways. But the ships took out not men alone. Horses, sheep, and cattle, vegetable-seeds, grain, vines, and fruit-trees from Spain; goats, pigs, chickens, orange, lemon, and melon seeds, and, above all, sugar-cane from the Canaries, where they stopped to refit, made up the first gift of the old world to the new, so curiously deficient in these necessities of European life. And, had the crown foreseen, as well, the need of women colonists, perhaps the darkest chapter of Spanish expansion would not have been written.

Columbus' second voyage

Discovering a new island, Dominica, on their way, no trace was found of Navidad, whose settlers doubtless died at native hands; and a new colony, Isabella, was established, which was at once a type of Spanish civilization and a model for its later settlements. Streets and a plaza were laid out; and, among the rude huts of the men, rose public buildings of stone, an arsenal and storehouse, a fort, a hospital, and a church, symbols at once of the authority and the meaning of the Spanish power now about to be established in this new environment. But illness, disappointment at the scantiness of gold, internal dissension, and trouble with the natives ensued. Public opinion began to turn against the venture; and when Columbus, having explored Cuba, Jamaica, and southern Espa˝ola, returned to Spain two years later, he had to defend his rights, restore shaken confidence, and recruit fresh settlers for his colony by any means, even from the jails.

Before he could set out again, other nations entered the field. A certain Zuan Caboto, Anglicized John Cabot, Genoese-born anti naturalized in Venice, having visited Lisbon to learn the new geography, had settled in Bristol. Thence, under patent from Henry VII, he sailed with eighteen men across the North Atlantic in the summer of 1497; and, after six weeks, sighted land, most probably Cape Breton Island, and so returned to England to receive the title of Grand Admiral, ten pounds from the royal chest, twenty pounds pension from the customs of Bristol, and a patent for another voyage. But the results of that second voyage, if such there was, are uncertain, and with some contribution to geography and the establishment of English claims on North America, his gallant exploit ended save for its influence on the fortunes of his son and companion, Sebastian, who was destilled to great deeds in later years.

John Cabot


It was far different with Portugal. Roused by the success of Spain, her enterprise revived with the accession of Emmanuel, aptly styled, not the Great, but the Fortunate; and a fleet was prepared to find the sea-way to the East. Nothing was omitted to ensure success. Three ships and a transport, a hundred and sixty men, commanded by an able and experienced gentleman of the court, Vasco da Gama, backed by

Vasco da Gama

the experience of Diaz and Covilham, set out at the same time that Cabot sailed for the greatest voyage yet undertaken by Europeans. Refitting at the Cape Verde Islands, his little fleet steered boldly out into the Atlantic for ninety-three days before making land at St. Helena Bay, a hundred miles north of the Cape of Good Hope. The cape was rounded in November and da Gama spent Christmas at a place called thence Natal. Delayed by storms, winds, currents, and mutiny, he passed his destined stopping-place, Sofala, so far at sea as to miss its much desired harbor, was repulsed by native hostility at the Zambesi, Mozambique, and Mombasa, and reached Melinde before finding a friendly sultan and a pilot to take him across the Indian Ocean. Thence, after twenty-three days' sail, he finally cast anchor, more than a year from the time he left Portugal, at Calicut, a principal port of the western or Malabar coast of India, and the chief center of the spice trade in that quarter of the world.

The region to which the Portuguese had made their way was the shore line divided from the interior by a mountain barrier, the so-called western Ghhts, "the landing-stairs to India" proper. Here, when the great Hindu kingdom of Chera had dissolved, five centuries before, a group of petty sovereignties had established and had thus far maintained themselves. From Bombay to Cape Comorin a long line of them, Goa, Cananor, Calicut, Cranganor, Cochin, Quilon, shared this narrow land, their chief resource their ports, their chief income derived from that commerce which made their coast the focus of exchange between the merchants from the further East and those Arab traders who carried Asiatic goods by fleet and caravan to European borders, where they were, in turn, transferred to Genoese or Venetian hands. Of India--the Malabar coast Indian affairs and conditions the Portuguese then and for long thereafter knew virtually nothing. The Hindu kingdom of Vijanayagar in the south, the Mohammedan empire of Delhi in the north, like the lesser principalities, were as yet not even names to them. It was long before they even learned of the Mohammedan sultanates about Cambay, whose jealous hostility they were to experience.

This was, in fact, their chief danger. They had invaded Arab commercial monopoly and taken Mohammedanism in the rear. But Arab-Mohammedan supremacy which, in the centuries since it had overwhelmed north Africa and Spain, had spread its power throughout northern and western India, was not prepared to yield its trade monopoly without a blow. Arab merchants had dotted Indian coasts with their agents, filled its harbors with ships, covered its seas with their convoys. With them had gone their faith, till, from Malacca to Alexandria, they had become the dominant commercial power, and, through centuries of active enterprise, Malabar had grown to be the center of their trading empire. They were far from intolerant. Where they went Hindu and Jew, Persian Parsee, Nestorian Christian, and Moslem Arab mingled with faiths from the farther East in the mutual forbearance engendered by commercial relations. But on one point they were resolved: not to admit another, least of all a Christian European power, as a rival in their trade.

The Arabs

The advent of the Portuguese into this long established circle challenged at once its faith and its economy, and the invaders felt its antagonism at once. Scarcely had they landed when Moorish merchants conspired with state officials to expel or destroy them. The ruler of Calicut, the so-called Zamorin or Sea Rajah, was influenced against them, and only good fortune and. the ability of their leader saved them from destruction. Harassed, insulted, well-nigh betrayed, da Gama endured, dissembled, and at last, evading the fate prepared for him, made his way to the neighboring city of Cananor, loaded his ships, and so retraced his way by Melinde around Africa. "With the pumps in their hands and the Virgin Mary in their mouths," his exhausted crews brought their storm-racked, leaky vessels to the Azores with a loss of near two-thirds of their number, da Gama's brother among them. Two years and a half after their departure they anchored again in the Tagus. If their dangers and hardships had been great, the reward of the survivors was commensurate, for sixty times the cost of the expedition was returned in profits.

Da Gama was ennobled and the King assumed the title of "Lord of the Conquest, Navigatioin, and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and China,"--at once a symbol of achievement and a prophecy. Throughout the land feasts and public thanksgivings celebrated da Gama's return; for the dream of Prince Henry had at last come true, and Portugal saw the road to wealth and power lie open to its energies.

But Portuguese rejoicings found no echo elsewhere in Europe. Far slighter in its effect on European thought, da Gama's exploit far surpassed that of Columbus in its influence on affairs. The Genoese had, indeed, found a new world, but its vast, sparsely inhabited, and wholly uncivilized stretches of coast and forest, with some curiosities, pearls, and dye-woods, enough gold to whet the appetite for more, a turbulent colony, and an unrivaled collection of marvelous tales which, six years after his discovery, formed the total result of his achievement, seemed almost trivial beside the prospects held out by this first voyage of the Portuguese. Instead of exploring vast reaches of tropical sea and shore to find, at best, half-naked savages; or bearing settlers and the necessities of life to a struggling colony, da Gama had sailed into a safe harbor filled with the commerce of three continents. He had encountered a civilization in many respects comparable to his own, in a land whose dense population, while it forbade colonization, offered unlimited possibilities of trade, with almost incredible profits. Of the vast interior of India the Portuguese knew little and cared less. For the difficulties confronting them they cared scarcely more. They had but little inclination and scarcely more opportunity for territorial conquest. Their sole interest was to secure a foothold and the control of the commerce between Asia The results and Europe, to become the middlemen from whom, instead of from Arab or Italian merchants, all Europe must buy.

Thus early were the differences determined not merely between the rival ambitions of Portugal and Spain, but between the types of European political expansion, and European influence in the East and West. Nor was this all. On the great trading centers of Europe--the long line of Italian posts stretching toward the East; on Venice and Genoa; even on the network of northern Hanse towns-Turkish and Mongol conquest had borne hard. Commerce had struggled through the barrier thus raised; the greater part, which had once found its way between the Levant and Italy, was diverted to Egypt or north of the Caspian, paid tribute to the conqueror, and, however crippled, had somehow gone on. To its merchants Columbus' discovery, once the more clear-sighted had perceived its significance, made little difference. From that quarter their traffic with the East had nothing to fear. But when the news of da Gama's voyage came, Italian city councils and guilds met with sinking hearts, and women wept in the streets. For the dullest intelligence could see that, unless in some way the Portuguese were checked, the ruin of the older capitals of commerce was at hand.

The blow was met in different ways. The Venetians, on whom it fell hardest of all, for a time even joined hands with Egypt to repel the invader. Florence and Genoa, the richer merchants of the north, and the Hanse towns, hastened to share the profits; and unlicensed adventurers from many lands sought, sometimes with success, the closely guarded way to the wealth of the East. The outlet for her commercial and conquering activities so long closed by the successes of the Asiatic hordes pressing upon her eastern borders was now opened in another quarter, and Europe hastened to enjoy its profits and to take her ancient enemies in the flank and rear.

Such were the great events which, as the fifteenth century wore to a close, determined the future of European development. In the world of politics centralized despotism became Conclusion --Europe and the discoveries the order of the day among the national states of the west. In the wider field of international relations these same powers found themselves in rivalry for pre-eminence, and Italian dissension provided an outlet for their ambitious plans. At the same time the intellectual movement centering in that peninsula was confronted by the concurrent attack on the ecclesiastical establishment which had its capital there, and the astonishing revelations of the scope and content of the world through Spanish and Portuguese discoveries. Hence simultaneously every department of European life was stimulated from these various centers to a new activity. The century which began with Portuguese adventure in Africa and the uncovering of the ancient civilization, which midway of its career experienced the shock of the Turkish capture of Constantinople, thus ended in a burst of conquering and creative energy which at once revealed new worlds to European experience and pointed the way to an unparalleled opportunity to exercise those qualities and resources which the preceding generations had done so much to strengthen and secure.

Of this there is one striking illustration. Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the discovery of America, Europe had been rather the passive than the active element in that great shifting of population to which we give the name of folk-wandering or migration. Within her own borders, indeed, there had been great movements which altered the whole complexion of her peoples. The Norsemen and the Crusaders had pushed a little way beyond her boundaries. But the pressure of Asia upon Europe had been far stronger than that of Europeans upon the other continents. Tartar and Finn, Arab, Magyar, Turk and Bulgarian had made good their occupation of great stretches of European territory and had reduced materially the area once held by so-called European peoples.

Now, however, all was changed. From the years which saw the entry of Portugal and Spain into lands beyond the sea to the present day the great, outstanding factor in the world's affairs has been European aggression. If there is one thing above all others which divides mediŠval from modern world history it is the fact that the conditions of folkwandering have been reversed. Europe is no longer the goal but the starting-point of migration. And this circumstance in no small degree measures her altered status among the continents; and characterizes, as well as conditions, what we know as modern polity.

[ Main Contents | Continue to Vol.I - Ch.IV ]