Puslapio vaizdai

indefatigable and faithful Belisarius went out against them with comparatively a handful of men, and put them to flight. This was his last exploit. On his return to Constantinople, he was disgraced, stripped of his employments, and confined to his house, on pretence of being party to a conspiracy against the


Justinian thus, by the talent and bravery of his generals, seemed to revive the ancient grandeur of the Roman empire. But he is scarcely less celebrated for the different digests of the laws which were executed under his auspices, and which have been of the most essential use in arranging the jurisprudence of the different kingdoms of Europe. He also founded the Church of Saint Sophia at Constantinople, which has been converted by the Turks into a Mahometan mosque, and is still regarded as a master-piece of architecture. Justinian died, A, D. 565, in the 83d year of his age, and the 39th of his reign.



At this era the Western division of the empire was no more. Barbarian tribes, from the north and east, had burst in upon it, and were in possession of much of its territory and Rome itself was governed by a lieutenant, sent by the emperor of Constantinople. In A.D. 600, Mahomet was preparing to propagate that celebrated imposture, which has obtained possession of so large a portion of the human race.


This century is remarkable for the rise of the Mahometan imposture, which produced important results in


the history of the world, during this and the succeeding period. Mahomet was born towards the close of the previous century; but did not commence his system of imposition till about A.D.620. In A.D. 623, his efforts to disseminate his doctrine began to attract the attention of the magistrates of Mecca, and they conceived that he should be punished with death, as a disturber of the public peace. Mahomet fled to Medina, and from that circumstance his followers have adopted this year as the era from which they date all events, which is known by 'the name of the Hegira, or flight. Mahomet first established his doctrine in Arabia. His countrymen were previously Pagans, but had received sufficient knowledge of Christianity to render manifest to them the absurdities of Paganism. Mahomet artfully made such modifications on the Jewish and Christian doctrines and forms of worship, as to accommodate them to the habits and propensities of the Arabs, and also to establish his own personal sanctity and authority. After persuading some of his countrymen, and, through them, compelling others, to receive him as the prophet of God, he entered upon a regular system of conquest, which was followed up by his successors under the name of Caliphs. They overran Syria, Persia, Egypt, and Asia Minor, and ravaged the Greek empire; besieged Constantinople, but did not succeed in taking it. They spread themselves along the whole southern shore of the Mediterranean, crossed ove to Spain, and entered Gaul, but we defeated and driven back by Charles Martel. They, however, established a splendid kingdom in the south of Spain, and maintained their ground there till near the time of the Reformation, when they were finally driven out by Ferdinand and Isabella, in the fifteenth century. After the Christian era, towards the beginning of the seventh century, the Saxon heptarchy was established in England, and the various barbarian tribes that had settled themselves in the Roman empire began to assume the form of regular states and kingdoms.


Towards the beginning of this century, Pepin, mayor of the palace of the French kings, became possessed of the royal authority, and dying, was succeeded by his son, Charles Martel.

This century is remarkable chiefly for the effectual check that the Saracens received from Charles Martel in France, which has already been mentioned by anticipation. In the great battle which was fought between Tours and Poitiers, historians state that 375,000 men were slain, among whom was the Saracen general.

Pepin, son of Charles Martel, assumed, after his death, not only the authority, but the title and prerogatives of sovereignty. Pepin was succeeded by his son Charles, usually called Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, who makes the most conspicuous figure in the history of Europe towards the end of this, and the beginning of the following century. His dominions extended over France, Germany, and the northern parts of Italy; and he was invested by the Pope with imperial dignity, and crowned as the founder of a new empire of the west. But his chief honor consisted in the encouragement which he gave to literature and learned men throughout his dominions. He founded the university of Paris, and various other seminaries; and his attention to`government, and the general improvement of his subjects, would have done honour to any monarch in the most enlightened ages of the world.


Charlemagne dying, A.D. 814, was succeeded by his son Louis, surnamed Le Debonnaire.

This century is noted in English history by the invasions of the Danes, and the reign of Alfred, who, whether he be considered in his public or private character, deserves to be ranked among the greatest and best of


monarchs. The early part of his reign was most calamitous, in consequence of the incessant invasions and ravages of the Danes. He himself was reduced to the necessity of wandering about in disguise. He, however, succeeded in defeating them repeatedly, and checking for a time their incursions. Like Charlemagne, he gave every encouragement to learning that his means enabled him. He founded the university of Oxford, and composed more books than most men have done whose whole time has been devoted to study. In A.D. 890 he promulgated a code of laws, which are justly considered as the foundation of the common law of England. He died at the age of 51, A. D. 900.


This century is chiefly remarkable for the almost total extinction of literature and civilization throughout Europe. The light of antiquity had perished amidst the violent agitations that followed the breaking up of the Roman empire, and the light of modern science and literature had not yet been kindled. The world presents over its whole surface one field of contention and bloodshed, with scarcely any object sufficiently prominent to deserve attention, or to excite interest. is the very midnight of the dark ages.



This century is nearly as barren of important events as the preceding. It is, however, interesting in the history of England and Scotland. During the early part of this century, the Danes, still continuing their invasions, at length succeeded in placing their king, Canute, on the throne of England; and the Norwegian king having, in the absence of Canute, attacked Denmark, Canute returned to his native country, invaded Norway,

conquered and deposed the king, placed himself on the throne, and thus became the sole monarch of the three kingdoms, Denmark, England, and Norway. Canute, on his death, was succeeded in the throne of England by two of his sons, the one following the other; after whom the Saxon line resumed the sovereignty.

But another enemy, destined to supersede both of these dynasties, was now advancing to power, namely, the Normans, who had settled themselves on the west coast of France. Towards the middle of the century, William, Duke of Normandy, invaded England, defeated Harold, King of England, at Hastings, ascended the English throne, and originated a dynasty of Norman kings, that for many ages reigned in England.

In the west, the Turks were rising into power. They were of Tartar descent, and having been called in by the King of Persia to assist him in his wars, they soon, under Tangrolipix, their leader, made themselves masters of Persia. Although they were Mahometans, they scrupled not to attack the caliphate, and overthrew it. They also invaded the Greek empire, ravaged its territories, but did not, till a period considerably later, make themselves masters of Constantinople.


The Crusades.

At this era, the empire of the Saracens, or the Caliphate, which had arisen out of the imposture of Mahomet, had been broken up into many independent kingdoms, all professing the Mahometan religion. A new power, namely, the Turkish, had also sprung up in the bosom of the Caliphate; and was now in possession of Asia Minor, Syria, and some provinces to the eastward. The Turks also were Mahometans. Palestine and Jerusalem were thus in possession of the enemies of Christianity.

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