The History Of France

History Of Europe During The Middle Ages
Book: Book I:
Author: Hallam, Henry

Part Four

The accession of Hugh Capet had not the immediate effect of restoring the
royal authority over France. [A.D. 987.] His own very extensive fief was now,
indeed, united to the crown; but a few great vassals occupied the remainder of
the kingdom. Six of these obtained, at a subsequent time, the exclusive
appellation of peers of France, - the Count of Flanders, whose fief stretched
from the Scheldt to the Somme; the Count of Champagne; the Duke of Normandy,
to whom Brittany did homage; the Duke of Burgundy, on whom the Count of
Nivernois seems to have depended; the Duke of Aquitaine, whose territory,
though less than the ancient kingdom of that name, comprehended Poitou,
Limousin, and most of Guienne, with the feudal superiority over the Angoumois,
and some other central districts; and lastly the Count of Toulouse, who
possessed Languedoc, with the small countries of Quercy and Rouergue, and the
superiority over Auvergne. ^w Besides these six, the Duke of Gascony, not long
afterwards united with Aquitaine, the counts of Anjou, Ponthieu, and
Vermandois, the Viscount of Bourges, the lords of Bourbon and Coucy, with one
or two other vassals, held immediately of the last Carlovingian kings. ^x This
was the aristocracy, of which Hugh Capet usurped the direction; for the
suffrage of no general assembly gave a sanction to his title. On the death of
Louis V. he took advantage of the absence of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, who,
as the deceased king's uncle, was nearest heir, and procured his own
consecration at Rheims. At first he was by no means acknowledged in the
kingdom; but his contest with Charles proving successful, the chief vassals
ultimately gave at least a tacit consent to the usurpation, and permitted the
royal name to descend undisputed upon his posterity. ^y But this was almost
the sole attribute of sovereignty which the first kings of the third dynasty
enjoyed. For a long period before and after the accession of that family
France has, properly speaking, no national history. The character or fortune
of those who were called its kings were little more important to the majority
of the nation than those of foreign princes. [Robert, A.D. 996; Henry I.,
1031; Philip, 1060.] Undoubtedly, the degree of influence which they exercised
with respect to the vassals of the crown varied according to their power and
their proximity. Over Guienne and Toulouse the first four Capets had very
little authority; nor do they seem to have ever received assistance from them
either in civil or national wars. ^z With provinces nearer to their own
domains, such as Normandy and Flanders, they were frequently engaged in
alliance or hostility; but each seemed rather to proceed from the policy of
independent states than from the relation of a sovereign towards his subjects.
^a

[Footnote w: Auvergne changed its feudal superior twice. It had been subject
to the Duke of Aquitaine till about the middle of the tenth century. The
counts of Toulouse then got possession of it; but early in the twelfth century
the counts of Auvergne again did homage to Guienne. It is very difficult to
follow the history of these fiefs.]

[Footnote x: The immediacy of vassals in times so ancient is open to much
controversy. I have followed the authority of those industrious Benedictines,
the editors of L'Art de verifier les Dates.]

[Footnote y: The south of France not only took no part in Hugh's elevation,
but long refused to pay him any obedience, or rather to acknowledge his title,
for obedience was wholly out of the question. The style of charters ran,
instead of the king's name, Deo regnante, rege expectante, or absente rege
terreno. He forced Guienne to submit about 990. But in Limousin they
continued to acknowledge the sons of Charles of Lorraine till 1009. -
Vaissette, Hist. de Lang. t. ii. pp. 120, 150. Before this Toulouse had
refused to recognize Eudes and Raoul, two kings of France who were not of the
Carlovingian family, and even hesitated about Louis IV. and Lothaire, who had
an hereditary right. - Idem.

These proofs of Hugh Capet's usurpation seem not to be materially
invalidated by a dissertation in the 50th volume of the Academy of
Inscriptions, p. 553. It is not of course to be denied that the northern
parts of France acquiesced in his assumption of the royal title, if they did
not give an express consent to it.]

[Footnote z: I have not found any authority for supposing that the provinces
south of the Loire contributed their assistance to the king in war, unless the
following passage of Gulielmus Pictaviensis be considered as matter of fact,
and not rather as a rhetorical flourish. He tells us that a vast army was
collected by Henry I. against the Duke of Normandy: Burgundium, Arverniam,
atque Vasconiam properare videres horribiles ferro; immo vires tanti regni
quantum in climata quatuor mundi patent cunctas. - Recueil des Historiens, t.
xi. p. 83. But we have the roll of the army which Louis VI. led against the
Emperor Henry V.I., A.D. 1120, in a national war: and it was entirely composed
of troops from Champagne, the Isle of France, the Orleannois, and other
provinces north of the Loire. - Velly, t. iii. p. 62. Yet this was a sort of
convocation of the ban; Rex ut eum tota Francia sequatur, invitat. Even so
late as the reign of Philip Augustus, in a list of the knights bannerets of
France, though those of Brittany, Flanders, Champagne, and Burgundy, besides
the royal domains, are enumerated, no mention is made of the provinces beyond
the Loire. - Du Chesne, Script. Rerum Gallicarum, t. v. p. 262.]

[Footnote a: [Note XIV.]]

It should be remembered that, when the fiefs of Paris and Orleans are
said to have been reunited by Hugh Capet to the crown, little more is
understood than the feudal superiority over the vassals of these provinces.
As the kingdom of Charlemagne's posterity was split into a number of great
fiefs, so each of these contained many barons, possessing exclusive immunities
within their own territories, waging war at their pleasure, administering
justice to their military tenants and other subjects, and free from all
control beyond the conditions of the feudal compact. ^b At the accession of
Louis VI. in 1108, the cities of Paris, Orleans, and Bourges, with the
immediately adjacent districts, formed the most considerable portion of the
royal domain. A number of petty barons, with their fortified castles,
intercepted the communication between these, and waged war against the king
almost under the walls of his capital. It cost Louis a great deal of trouble
to reduce the lords of Montlhery, and other places within a few miles of
Paris. Under this prince, however, who had more activity than his
predecessors, the royal authority considerably revived. From his reign we may
date the systematic rivalry of the French and English monarchies. Hostilities
had several times occurred between Philip I. and the two Williams; but the
wars that began under Louis VI. lasted, with no long interruption, for three
centuries and a half, and form, indeed, the most leading feature of French
history during the middle ages. ^c Of all the royal vassals, the dukes of
Normandy were the proudest and most powerful. Though they had submitted to do
homage, they could not forget that they came in originally by force, and that
in real strength they were fully equal to their sovereign. Nor had the
conquest of England any tendency to diminish their pretensions. ^d

[Footnote b: In a subsequent chapter I shall illustrate at much greater length
the circumstances of the French monarchy with respect to its feudal vassals.
It would be inconvenient to anticipate the subject at present, which is rather
of a legal than narrative character.

Sismondi has given a relative scale of the great fiefs, according to the
number of modern departments which they contained. At the accession of Louis
VI. the crown possessed about five departments; the Count of Flanders held
four; the Count of Vermandois, two; the Count of Boulogne, one; the Count of
Champagne, six; the Duke of Burgundy, three; of Normandy, five; of Brittany,
five; the Count of Anjou, three. Thirty-three departments south of the Loire
he considers as hardly connected with the crown; and twenty-one were at that
time dependent on the empire. (Vol. v. p. 7.) It is to be understood of course
that these divisions are not rigorously exact; and also that, in every
instance, owners of fiefs with civil and criminal jurisdiction had the full
possession of their own territories, subject more or less to their immediate
lord, whether it were the king or another. The real domain of Louis VI. was
almost confined to the five towns - Paris, Orleans, Estampes. Melun, and
Compiegne (id. p. 86); and to estates, probably large, in their neighborhood.]

[Footnote c: Velly, t. iii. p. 40.]

[Footnote d: The Norman historians maintain that their dukes did not owe any
service to the King of France, but only simple homage, or, as it was called,
per paragium. - Recueil des Historiens, t. xi. pref. p. 161. They certainly
acted upon this principle; and the manner in which they first came into the
country is not very consistent with dependence.]

Louis VII. ascended the throne with better prospects than his father.
[A.D. 1137.] He had married Eleanor, heiress of the great duchy of Guienne.
But this union, which promised an immense accession of strength to the crown,
was rendered unhappy by the levities of that princess. Repudiated by Louis,
who felt rather as a husband than a king, Eleanor immediately married Henry
II. of England, who, already inheriting Normandy from his mother and Anjou
from his father, became possessed of more than one-half of France, and an
overmatch for Louis, even if the great vassals of the crown had been always
ready to maintain its supremacy. One might venture, perhaps, to conjecture
that the sceptre of France would eventually have passed from the Capets to the
Plantagenets, if the vexatious quarrel with Becket at one time, and the
successive rebellions fomented by Louis at a later period, had not embarrassed
the great talents and ambitious spirit of Henry.

But the scene quite changed when Philip Augustus, son of Louis VII., came
upon the stage. [A.D. 1180.] No prince comparable to him in systematic
ambition and military enterprise had reigned in France since Charlemagne.
From his reign the French monarchy dates the recovery of its lustre. He
wrested from the Count of Flanders the Vermandois (that part of Picardy which
borders on the Isle of France and Champagne ^e), and subsequently, the county
of Artois. But the most important conquests of Philip were obtained against
the kings of England. [Conquest of Normandy, 1203.] Even Richard I., with all
his prowess, lost ground in struggling against an adversary not less active,
and more politic, than himself. But when John not only took possession of his
brother's dominions, but confirmed his usurpation by the murder, as was very
probably surmised, of the heir, Philip, artfully taking advantage of the
general indignation, summoned him as his vassal to the court of his peers.
John demanded a safe-conduct. Willingly, said Philip; let him come
unmolested. And return? inquired the English envoy. If the judgment of his
peers permit him, replied the king. By all the saints of France, he
exclaimed, when further pressed, he shall not return unless acquitted. The
Bishop of Ely still remonstrated that the Duke of Normandy could not come
without the King of England; nor would the barons of that country permit their
sovereign to run the risk of death or imprisonment. What of that, my lord
bishop? cried Philip. It is well known that my vassal the Duke of Normandy
acquired England by force. But if a subject obtains any accession of dignity,
shall his paramount lord therefore lose his rights? ^f

[Footnote e: The original counts of Vermandois were descended from Bernard,
King of Italy, grandson of Charlemagne: but their fief passed by the donation
of Isabel, the last countess, to her husband, the Earl of Flanders, after her
death in 1183. The principal towns of the Vermandois are St. Quentin and
Peronne. - Art de verifier les Dates, t. ii. p. 700.]

[Footnote f: Matthew of Paris, p. 238, edit. 1684.]

It may be doubted whether, in thus citing John before his court, the King
of France did not stretch his feudal sovereignty beyond its acknowledged
limits. Arthur was certainly no immediate vassal of the crown for Brittany;
and, though he had done homage to Philip for Anjou and Maine, yet a subsequent
treaty had abrogated his investiture, and confirmed his uncle in the
possession of those provinces. ^g But the vigor of Philip, and the meanness of
his adversary, cast a shade over all that might be novel or irregular in these
proceedings. John, not appearing at his summons, was declared guilty of
felony, and his fiefs confiscated. The execution of this sentence was not
intrusted to a dilatory arm. Philip poured his troops into Normandy, and took
town after town, while the King of England, infatuated by his own wickedness
and cowardice, made hardly an attempt at defence. In two years Normandy,
Maine, and Anjou were irrecoverably lost. Poitou and Guienne resisted longer;
but the conquest of the first was completed by Louis VIII., successor of
Philip [A.D. 1223], and the subjection of the second seemed drawing near, when
the arms of Louis were diverted to different but scarcely less advantageous
objects.

[Footnote g: The illegality of Philip's proceedings is well argued by Mably,
Observations sur l'Histoire de France, 1. iii. c. 6.]

The country of Languedoc, subject to the counts of Toulouse, had been
unconnected, beyond any other part of France, with the kings of the house of
Capet. Louis VII., having married his sister to the reigning count, and
travelled himself through the country, began to exercise some degree of
authority, chiefly in confirming the rights of ecclesiastical bodies, who were
vain, perhaps, of this additional sanction to the privileges which they
already possessed. ^h But the remoteness of their situation, with a difference
in language and legal usages, still kept the people of this province apart
from those of the north of France.

[Footnote h: According to the Benedictine historians, Vich and Vaissette,
there is no trace of any act of sovereignty exercised by the kings of France
in Languedoc from 955, when Lothaire confirmed a charter of his predecessor
Raoul in favor of the Bishop of Puy, till the reign of Louis VII. (Hist. de
Languedoc, tome iii. p. 88.) They have published, however, an instrument of
Louis VI. in favor of the same church, confirming those of former princes.
(Appendix, p. 473.) Neither the counts of Toulouse, nor any lord of the
province, were present in a very numerous national assembly, at the coronation
of Philip I. (Id. p. 200.) I do not recollect to have ever met with the name
of the Count of Toulouse as a subscribing witness to the charters of the first
Capetian kings in the Recueil des Historiens, where many are published, though
that of the Duke of Guienne sometimes occurs.]

About the middle of the twelfth century, certain religious opinions,
which it is not easy, nor, for our present purpose, material to define, but,
upon every supposition, exceedingly adverse to those of the church, ^i began
to spread over Languedoc. Those who imbibed them have borne the name of
Albigeois, though they were in no degree peculiar to the district of Albi. In
despite of much preaching and some persecution, these errors made a continual
progress; till Innocent III., in 1198, despatched commissaries, the seed of
the inquisition, with ample powers both to investigate and to chastise.
Raymond VI., Count of Toulouse, whether inclined towards the innovators, as
was then the theme of reproach, or, as is more probable, disgusted with the
insolent interference of the pope and his missionaries, provoked them to
pronounce a sentence of excommunication against him. [A.D. 1208.] Though this
was taken off, he was still suspected; and upon the assassination of one of
the inquisitors, in which Raymond had no concern, Innocent published a crusade
both against the count and his subjects, calling upon the King of France, and
the nobility of that kingdom, to take up the cross, with all the indulgences
usually held out as allurements to religious warfare. Though Philip would not
interfere, a prodigious number of knights undertook this enterprise, led
partly by ecclesiastics, and partly by some of the first barons in France. It
was prosecuted with every atrocious barbarity which superstition, the mother
of crimes, could inspire. Languedoc, a country, for that age, flourishing and
civilized, was laid waste by these desolators; her cities burned; her
inhabitants swept away by fire and the sword. And this was to punish a
fanaticism ten thousand times more innocent than their own, and errors which,
according to the worst imputations, left the laws of humanity and the peace of
social life unimpaired. ^j

[Footnote i: For the real tenets of the Languedocian sectaries I refer to the
last chapter of the present work, where the subject will be taken up again.]

[Footnote j: The Albigensian war commenced with the storming of Beziers, and a
massacre wherein 15,000 persons, or, according to some narrations, 60,000,
were put to the sword. Not a living soul escaped, as witnesses assure us. It
was here that a Cistertian monk, who led on the crusaders, answered the
inquiry, how the Catholics were to be distinguished from heretics: "Kill them
all! God will know his own." Besides Vaissette, see Sismondi, Litterature du
Midi, t. i. p. 201.]

The crusaders were commanded by Simon de Montfort, a man, like Cromwell,
whose intrepidity, hypocrisy, and ambition, marked him for the hero of a holy
war. The energy of such a mind, at the head of an army of enthusiastic
warriors, may well account for successes which then appeared miraculous. But
Montfort was cut off before he could realize his ultimate object, an
independent principality; and Raymond was able to bequeath the inheritance of
his ancestors to his son. Rome, however, was not yet appeased; upon some new
pretence she raised up a still more formidable enemy against the younger
Raymond. Louis VIII. suffered himself to be diverted from the conquest of
Guienne, to take the cross against the supposed patron of heresy. After a
short and successful war, Louis, dying prematurely, left the crown of France
to a son only twelve years old. But the Count of Toulouse was still pursued,
till, hopeless of safety in so unequal a struggle, he concluded a treaty upon
very hard terms. By this he ceded the greater part of Languedoc; and, giving
his daughter in marriage to Alphonso, brother of Louis IX., confirmed to them,
and to the king in failure of their descendants, the reversion of the rest, in
exclusion of any other children whom he might have. Thus fell the ancient
house of Toulouse, through one of those strange combinations of fortune, which
thwart the natural course of human prosperity, and disappoint the plans of
wise policy and beneficent government. ^k

[Footnote k: The best account of this crusade against the Albigeois is to be
found in the third volume of Vaissette's History of Languedoc; the Benedictine
spirit of mildness and veracity tolerably counter-balancing the prejudices of
orthodoxy. Velly, Hist. de France, t. iii., has abridged this work.

M. Fauriel edited for the Collection des Documens Inedits, in 1837, a
metrical history of the Albigensian crusade, by a contemporary calling himself
William of Tudela, which seems to be an imaginary name. It contains 9578
verses. The author begins as a vehement enemy of the heretics and favorer of
the crusade; but becomes, before his poem is half completed, equally adverse
to Montfort, Folquet, and the other chiefs of the persecution, though never
adopting heretical opinions.

Sismondi says - bitterly, but not untruly - of Simon de Montfort: -
"Habile guerrier, austere dans ses moeurs fanatique dans sa religion,
inflexible, cruel, et perfide, il reunissait toutes les qualites qui pouvaient
plaire a un moine." (Vol. vi. p. 297._ The Albigensian secretaries had
insulted the clergy and hissed St. Bernard; which, of course, exasperated that
irritable body and aggravated their revenge. (Michelet, iii. 306.) But the
atrocities of that war have hardly been equalled, and Sismondi was not the man
to conceal them.]

The rapid progress of royal power under Philip Augustus and his son had
scarcely given the great vassals time to reflect upon the change which it
produced in their situation. The crown, with which some might singly have
measured their forces, was now an equipoise to their united untied weight.
And such an union was hard to be accomplished among men not always very
sagacious in policy, and divided by separate interests and animosities. They
were not, however, insensible to the crisis of their feudal liberties; and the
minority of Louis IX., guided only by his mother, the regent, Blanche of
Castile, seemed to offer a favorable opportunity for recovering their former
situation. Some of the most considerable barons, the counts of Brittany,
Champagne, and La Marche, had, during the time of Louis VIII., shown an
unwillingness to push the Count of Toulouse too far, if they did not even keep
up a secret understanding with him. They now broke out into open rebellion;
but the address of Blanche detached some from the league, and her firmness
subdued the rest. For the first fifteen years of Louis' reign, the struggle
was frequently renewed; till repeated humiliations convinced the refractory
that the throne was no longer to be shaken. A prince so feeble as Henry III.
was unable to afford them that aid from England, which, if his grandfather or
son had then reigned, might probably have lengthened these civil wars.

But Louis IX. had methods of preserving his ascendency very different
from military prowess. That excellent prince was perhaps the most eminent
pattern of unswerving probity and Christian strictness of conscience that ever
held the sceptre in any country. There is a peculiar beauty in the reign of
St. Louis because it shows the inestimable benefit which a virtuous king may
confer on his people, without possessing any distinguished genius. For nearly
half a century that he governed France there is not the smallest want of
moderation or disinterestedness in his actions; and yet he raised the
influence of the monarchy to a much higher point than the most ambitious of
his predecessors. To the surprise of his own and later times, he restored
great part of his conquests to Henry III., whom he might naturally hope to
have expelled form France. It would indeed have been a tedious work to
conquer Guienne, which was full of strong places; and the subjugation of such
a province might have alarmed the other vassals of his crown. But it is the
privilege only of virtuous minds to perceive that wisdom resides in moderate
counsels: no sagacity ever taught a selfish and ambitious sovereign to forego
the sweetness of immediate power. An ordinary king, in the circumstances of
the French monarchy, would have fomented, or, at least, have rejoiced in, the
dissensions which broke out among the principal vassals; Louis constantly
employed himself to reconcile them. In this, too, his benevolence had all the
effects of farsighted policy. It had been the practice of his three last
predecessors to interpose their mediation in behalf of the less powerful
classes, the clergy, the inferior nobility, and the inhabitants of chartered
towns. Thus the supremacy of the crown became a familiar idea; but the
perfect integrity of St. Louis wore away all distrust, and accustomed even the
most jealous feudatories to look upon him as their judge and legislator. And
as the royal authority was hitherto shown only in its most amiable
prerogatives, the dispensation of favor, and the redress of wrong, few were
watchful enough to remark the transition of the French constitution from a
feudal league to an absolute monarchy.

It was perhaps fortunate for the display of St. Louis' virtues that the
throne had already been strengthened by the less innocent exertions of Philip
Augustus and Louis VIII. A century earlier his mild and scrupulous character,
unsustained by great actual power, might not have inspired sufficient awe.
But the crown was now grown so formidable, and Louis was so eminent for his
firmness and bravery, qualities without which every other virtue would have
been ineffectual, that no one thought it safe to run wantonly into rebellion,
while his disinterested administration gave no one a pretext for it. Hence
the latter part of his reign was altogether tranquil, and employed in watching
over the public peace and the security of travellers; administering justice
personally, or by the best counsellors; and compiling that code of feudal
customs called the Establishments of St. Louis, which is the first monument of
legislation after the accession of the house of Capet. Not satisfied with the
justice of his own conduct, Louis aimed at that act of virtue which is rarely
practised by private men, and had perhaps no example among kings -
restitution. Commissaries were appointed to inquire what possessions had been
unjustly annexed to the royal domain during the last two reigns. These were
restored to the proprietors, or, where length of time had made it difficult to
ascertain the claimant, their value was distributed among the poor. ^l

[Footnote l: Velly, tom. v. p. 150. This historian has very properly dwelt
for almost a volume on St. Louis' internal administration; it is one of the
most valuable parts of his work. Joinville is a real witness, on whom, when
we listen, it is impossible not to rely. - Collection des Memoires relatifs a
l'Histoire de France, tom. ii. pp. 140-156.]

It has been hinted already that all this excellence of heart in Louis IX.
was not attended with that strength of understanding, which is necessary, we
must allow, to complete the usefulness of a sovereign. During his minority
Blanche of Castile, his mother, had filled the office of Regent with great
courage and firmness. But after he grew up to manhood, her influence seems to
have passed the limit which gratitude and piety would have assigned to it;
and, as her temper was not very meek or popular, exposed the king to some
degree of contempt. He submitted even to be restrained from the society of
his wife Margaret, daughter of Raymond Count of Provence, a princess of great
virtue and conjugal affection. Joinville relates a curious story,
characteristic of Blanche's arbitrary conduct, and sufficiently derogatory to
Louis. ^m

[Footnote m: Collection des Memoires, tom. ii. p. 241.]

But the principal weakness of this king, which almost effaced all the
good effects of his virtues, was superstition. It would be idle to sneer at
those habits of abstemiousness and mortification which were part of the
religion of his age, and, at the worst, were only injurious to his own
comfort. But he had other prejudices, which, though they may be forgiven,
must never be defended. No man was ever more impressed than St. Louis with a
belief in the duty of exterminating all enemies to his own faith. With these
he thought no layman ought to risk himself in the perilous ways of reasoning,
but to make answer with his sword as stoutly as a strong arm and a fiery zeal
could carry that argument. ^n Though, fortunately for his fame, the
persecution against the Albigeois, which had been the disgrace of his father's
short reign, was at an end before he reached manhood, he suffered an
hypocritical monk to establish a tribunal at Paris for the suppression of
heresy, where many innocent persons suffered death.

[Footnote n: Aussi vous dis je, me dist le roy, que nul, si n'est grant clerc,
et theologien parfait, ne doit disputer aux Juifs: mais doit l'homme lay,
quant il oit mesdire de la foy Chretienne, defendre la chose, non pas
seulement des paroles, mais a bonne espee tranchant, et en frapper les
medisans et mescreans a travers le corps tant qu'elle y pourra entrer. -
Joinville, in Collection des Memoires, tom. i. p. 23. This passage, which
shows a tolerable degree of bigotry, did not require to be strained farther
still by Mosheim, vol. iii. p. 273 (edit. 1803). I may observe, by the way,
that this writer, who sees nothing in Louis IX. except his intolerance, ought
not to have charged him with issuing an edict in favor of the inquisition in
1229, when he had not assumed the government.]

But no events in Louis' life were more memorable than his two crusades,
which lead us to look back on the nature and circumstances of that most
singular phenomenon in European history. Though the crusades involved all the
western nations of Europe, without belonging particularly to any one, yet, as
France was more distinguished than the rest in most of those enterprises, I
shall introduce the subject as a sort of digression from the main course of
French history.

Even before the violation of Palestine by the Saracen arms it had been a
prevailing custom among the Christians of Europe to visit those scenes
rendered interesting by religion, partly through delight in the effects of
local association, partly in obedience to the prejudices or commands of
superstition. These pilgrimages became more frequent in later times, in
spite, perhaps in consequence, of the danger and hardships which attended
them. For a while the Mohammedan possessors of Jerusalem permitted, or even
encouraged, a devotion which they found lucrative; but this was interrupted
whenever the ferocious insolence with which they regarded all infidels got the
better of their rapacity. During the eleventh century, when, from increasing
superstition and some particular fancies, the pilgrims were more numerous than
ever, a change took place in the government of Palestine, which was overrun by
the Turkish hordes from the North. These barbarians treated the visitors of
Jerusalem with still greater contumely, mingling with their Mohammedan
bigotry, a consciousness of strength and courage, and a scorn of the
Christians, whom they knew only by the debased natives of Greece and Syria, or
by these humble and defenceless palmers. When such insults became known
throughout Europe, they excited a keen sensation of resentment among nations
equally courageous and devout, which, though wanting as yet any definite means
of satisfying itself, was ripe for whatever favorable conjuncture might arise.

 

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