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same insolence and rigour as if they had been degraded into that wretched state. The king, stripped of almost every prerogative, and without authority to enact or to execute salutary laws, could neither protect the innocent nor punish the guilty. The nobles, superior to all restraint, harrassed each other with perpetual wars, oppressed their fellow-subjects, and bumbled or insulted their sovereign. To crown all, time gradually fixed and rendered venerable this pernicious system, which violence had established. Such was the state of Europe with respect to the interior administration of government, from the seventh to the eleventh century. Robertson.



THE Crusades, in order to rescue the holy land from the hands of infidels, first roused Europe, and introduced a change in her government and Venerating the spot where the Son of God accomplished the redemption of mankind, and impressed with the current idea, that the end of the world was near at hand, multitudes hastened to the holy land, there to meet with Christ in judgment. When the minds of men were thus prepared, the zeal of a fanatical monk, who conceived the idea of leading all the forces of Christendom against the infidels, and of driving them out of the holy land by violence, was sufficient to give a beginning to that wild enterprise.

Peter the Hermit, for that was the name of that martial apostle, ran from province to province

with a crucifix in his hand, exciting princes and people to the holy war; and wherever he came, kindled the same enthusiastic ardour for it with which he himself was animated. The Council of Placentia, where upwards of thirty thousand persons were assembled, pronounced the scheme to have been suggested by the immediate inspiration of Heaven. In the council of Clermont, still more numerous, as soon as the measure was proposed, all cried out with one voice, 'It is the will of God.' Persons of all ranks catched the contagion; not only the gallant nobles of that age, with their martial followers, whom we may suppose to have been allured by the boldness of a romantic enterprise; but men in the more humble and pacific stations of life; ecclesiastics of every order, and even women and children, engaged with emulation in an undertaking, which was deemed sacred and meritorious. According to the testimony of contemporary historians, six millions of persons assumed the cross, which was the badge that distinguished such as devoted themselves to this holy warfare. All Europe, torn up from the foundation, seemed ready to precipitate itself in one united body upon Asia. Nor did the fumes of this enthusiastic zeal evaporate at once; the frenzy was as lasting as it was extravagant. During two centuries, Europe seems to have had no object but to recover or to keep possession of the holy land; and through that period, vast armies continued to march thither.



THE spirit of chivalry inspired the nobles of Europe with more liberal and generous sentiments than had formerly prevailed. This institution, though considered of a wild nature, the effect of caprice, and the source of extravagance, arose naturally from the state of society at that period, and had a very serious influence in refining the European manners. The feudal, was a state of almost perpetual war, rapine, and anarchy, during which the weak and unarmed were exposed to insults or injuries. The power of the sovereign was too limited to prevent these wrongs, and the administration of justice too feeble to redress them. The most effectual protection against violence and oppression was often found to be that which the valour and generosity of private persons afforded. The same spirit of enterprise which had prompted so many gentlemen to take arms in defence of the oppressed pilgrims in Palestine, incited others to declare themselves the patrons and avengers of injured innocence at home. When the final reduction of the holy land under the dominion of infidels put an end to those foreign expeditions, the latter was the only employment left for the activity and courage of adventurers. To check the insolence of overgrown oppressors; to rescue the helpless from captivity; to protect or to avenge women, orphans, and ecclesiastics, who could not bear arms in their own defence; to redress wrongs and to remove grievances; were deemed acts of the highest prowess and merit. Valour, humanity, courtesy, justice, and honour,

were the characteristic qualities of chivalry. To these were added religion, which mingled itself with every passion and institution during the middle ages, and, by infusing a large proportion of enthusiastic zeal, gave them such force as carried them to romantic excess. Men were trained to knighthood by a long previous discipline; they were admitted into the order by solemnities no less devout than pompous; every person of noble birth courted that honour; it was deemed a distinction superior to royalty, and monarchs were proud to receive it from the hands of private gentlemen.

This singular institution, in which valour, gallantry, and religion, were so strangely blended, was wonderfully adapted to the taste and genius of martial nobles, and its effects were soon visible in their manners. War was carried on with less ferocity, when humanity came to be deemed the ornament of knighthood no less than courage. More gentle and polished manners were introduced, when courtesy was recommended as the most amiable of knightly virtues. Violence and oppression decreased, when it was reckoned meritorious to check and to punish them. A scrupulous adherence to truth, with the most religious attention to fulfil every engagement, became the distinguishing characteristic of a gentleman, because chivalry was regarded as the school of honour, and inculcated the most delicate sensibility with respect to those points. The admiration of these qualities, together with the high distinctions and prerogatives conferred on knighthood in every part of Europe, inspired persons of noble birth

on some occasions with a species of military fanaticism, and led them to extravagant enterprises. But they deeply imprinted on their minds the principles of generosity and honour. These were strengthened by every thing that can affect the senses or touch the heart. The wild exploits of those romantic knights who sallied forth in quest of adventures, are well known, and have been treated with proper ridicule. The humanity which accompanies all the operations of war, the refinements of gallantry, and the point of honour, are sentiments inspired by chivalry, and have had a wonderful influence on manners and conduct, during the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. They were so deeply rooted, that they continued to operate after the vigour and reputation of the institution itself began to decline. Robertson.


THE vulgar are very apt to carry all national characters to extremes; and having once established it as a principle, that any people are knavish, or cowardly, or ignorant, they will admit of no exception, but comprehend every individual under the same character. Men of sense condemn these undistinguishing judgments; though at the same time they allow, that each nation has a peculiar set of manners, and that some particular qualities are more frequently to be met with among one people than among their neighbours. The common people in Switzerland have surely more probity than those of the same rank in Ireland, and

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