Omar, that the mutilated carcasses were floated by torrents of blood into the court, and the Christian cayaliers rode in the sanguine tide up to their horses' knees. Seventy thousand persons were massacred; and the Jews were all burnt in their own synagogues. The remainder of the narrative exhibits a contrast of barbarity and piety which strikingly depicts the manners of the age. These triumphant warriors, glutted with slaughter, threw aside their arms yet streaming with blood, and advanced, with naked feet and bended knees, to the sepulchre of the Prince of Peace, sung anthems to that Redeemer who had purchased their salvation by his death, and, while insensible to the calamities of their fellow-creatures, were dissolved in tears for the sufferings of the Messiah. Such are the inconsistencies of human nature.

Godfrey of Bouillon was elected King of Jerusalem. A Christian kingdom was established, and the laws, language, and manners of Europe were planted in Palestine. In vain the Fatimite Caliph Mostali drew out his forces to oppose the crusaders in the field of Ascalon, and in vain the Seljukian Turks withstood them at Antioch. Religious enthusiasm incited the Christians to almost supernatural exertions, and they maintained themselves in their conquest for a period of nearly two centuries. In its largest extent, the Latin kingdom of Palestine spread from the Mediterranean to the desert of Arabia, and from the mountains of Armenia to the confines of Egypt. The lands were parcelled out among the crusaders agreeably to the principles of the feudal system. Sometimes the conquered Mussulmans were allowed to live as tributaries,

but generally the towns were exclusively occupied by the Christians. The mercantile cities of Italy, and the people of the North of Europe coöperated with the crusaders in forming the kingdom. France, Italy, and Germany poured forth their hosts as soon as the Western World had been blessed with the news that the Holy Sepulchre was in the hands of the faithful. The new champions of the cross encountered, but sunk under, the horrors of Asia Minor. The sword of the enemy, famine, and disease swept from the earth more than four hundred thousand of these fanatical adventurers.

Three monastic and military orders, the Hospital. lers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights, were instituted at Jerusalem to protect the pilgrims from the attacks of the Turks. These institutions were characteristic of an age in which the sacred was so confounded with the profane, that it was thought the virtues of the monk might be combined with the qualities of the soldier. The new orders, loaded with wealth and particular privileges, in a short time became greedy, licentious, and insolent, enemies of one another, and by their mutual hatred weakened the cause of Christianity.

Eight different crusades were set on foot, one after another, and the rage for making war upon the infidels continued for nearly two centuries. But within a century from its foundation the kingdom of Jerusalem began to decline. Incessant attacks by the Mussulmans consumed the resources of the crusaders, and at length the city was captured by Sultan Saladin, in 1187. After this loss the metropolis was established at Acre, and the kingdom, in a decaying state, was preserved a century longer. In 1291, the Sultan Khalil laid siege to the place, and, on the 18th of May, captured it by assault. Sixty thousand crusaders were killed and made prisoners. The Turks swept all Palestine, and put to death every Christian who could not flee the country. All the churches and fortifications of the Latins were demolished, and, in the language of Gibbon, “ A mournful and solitary silence prevailed along the coast which had so long resounded with the WORLD'S DEBATE."


SOUTHERN FRANCE, after having been the inheritance of several of the successors of Charlemagne, was elevated, in 879, to the rank of an independent king. dom. Provence, a portion of this territory, subsequently became celebrated for the origin of the earliest European literature which arose after the decline of the Latin language. The Troubadours of Provence created the first modern poetry, and contributed much toward the formation of the earliest Italian literature. Raymond the Fourth, of Arragon, Count of Provence, a lover of letters, and a skilful critic, about the year 1220, invited to his court the most celebrated of the songsters, who professed to polish and adorn the Provençal language by various sorts of poetry. Charles the First, his son-in-law, and the inheritor of his vir.

[ocr errors]

tues and dignities, conquered Naples, and carried into Italy a taste for the Provençal literature. Soon afterwards the Roman court was removed to Provence. Hitherto the Latin language only had been in use. The Provençal writings established a common dialect, and their example convinced other nations that the modern languages were no less adapted to composition than those of antiquity. They introduced a love of reading, and diffused a popular taste for poetry, by writing in a language intelligible to the ladies and the people. Their verses, being composed in a familiar tongue, became the chief amusement of princes and feudal lords, whose courts had now begun to assume an air of greater brilliancy. These arts of ingenious entertainment thus became universally fashionable, and imperceptibly laid the foundation of polite literature.

Thousands of poets flourished almost contemporaneously in the Provençal language, who gave it a character of originality which owes nothing to classical literature. The Provençal word, Trobador, means an inventor. The poetry of the first Troubadours consisted of satires, moral fables, allegories, and sentimental sonnets. As early as the year 1180, a tribunal, called the Court of Love, was instituted in Provence, by which questions of gallantry were decided. This institution furnished a perpetual supply of matter for the poets, who threw the claims and arguments of the different parties into verse. The art of the Troubadours went by the name of the Gay Science. It was in the twelfth century that their poetry attained its highest perfection. It was essentially lyrical, mostly amorous, and was characterized by simpli


city, or rather paucity of ideas, and by a strained refinement of expression and peculiarity of form which made it quite distinct from the classical models. In that age and country of chivalry, every noble beauty had in her train some admiring poet, and every poet selected some fair lady, sometimes the daughter, but oftener the wife, of the nobleman to whose retinue he was attached, for the object of his poetical passion, and the subject of his song. It was a poetical attachment, although it sometimes ended, in a real one. The Troubadours often sang of loftier themes. Some of them, who had followed the crusaders and shared the dangers of Eastern campaigns, commemorated, after their return, the valiant deeds of the soldiers of the

Others, about the time of the persecution of the Albigenses, wrote bitter satires against the persecutors, the Inquisitors, the priesthood, and against Rome itself.

The wildness of the imagination and manners of the Troubadours receives a striking illustration in the history of Geoffrey de Rudel, a Troubadour of the twelfth century. The knights who returned from the Holy Land spoke with enthusiasm of a countess of Tripoli, who had shown them the most generous hospitality, and whose grace and beauty equalled her virtues. Rudel, hearing this account, fell deeply in love with her, although he had never seen her, and prevailed upon one of his friends, also a Troubadour, to accompany him to the Levant. In 1162, he embarked for the Holy Land, but was attacked by a severe illness on the voyage, and had lost the power of speech when he arrived at the port of Tripoli. The countess, being

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »