|The Story of Europe|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Presents the broader movements of European history, emphasizing the main factors which have gone into the formation and development of the various European states from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. The history of England is included only when that country plays a prominent part in the politics of Europe. A full treatment of the period immediately following the fall of the Roman Empire is given, since that period provides the necessary key to future developments. For smoother reading, dates are relegated to the margin for the most part. Maps, timelines, and genealogy charts of the various royal houses of Europe contribute to making this book an excellent resource for the study of the Middle Ages in Europe. Ages 14-18 |
THE DEFEAT OF THE SARACENS—THE RISE OF THE CAROLINGIANS—THE DONATION OF PEPIN
 IN the east Christian Constantinople had stood as a bulwark against the Arab invasion. But in spite of that the
Mohammedans had made an entrance through the western gate of Europe, and it seemed as if nothing could now
stay their conquering march. Yet stayed it was.
The kingdom of the Franks (see Chapter II) was the only one of the Teutonic kingdoms built upon the ruins of
the Roman Empire which was to endure. But for many years after the reign of Clovis its history was one of
turmoil and bloodshed. It was divided and redivided more than once. After a time the Merovingian kings lost
their vigour and manliness. They became mere figureheads and are known as the Rois Fainéants or
Do Nothing kings.
Surrounded by luxury and pomp, they sat in their palaces, combing their long golden hair, indolently dreaming
the time away, while all the business of state drifted more and more into the hands of the mayors of the
palace. These mayors had been at first little more than the managers of the royal household; in time they
became dukes, and at length kings in all but name.
Charles the Hammer
The greatest of the mayors was Charles the Hammer. It was he who now gathered all the strength of the Frankish
kingdom to fight the Saracen foe, and roll back the dark menace of Mohammedanism from western Europe.
The battle in which the Franks and Saracens met is one
 of the memorable battles of the world. For it was not so much the Franks and Saracens who were arrayed against
each other as Europe and Asia, Christianity and Mohammedanism. If the Franks were beaten, then all Europe was
at the mercy of the Saracens. For behind the Franks there was no power to stop their march, nothing but still
heathen Germany. It was true Constantinople held the gate of Europe in the east. But if the foe made an entry
in the west would that shut gate avail?
Battle of Tours
The fight which now took place between these two great forces is often called the battle of Tours, but it was
really fought nearer the town of Poitiers. Here the fair Teutons of the north, steel clad, heavily armed, and
somewhat slow of movement, met the dark-faced, agile men of Asia. Mounted upon Arab coursers, the Saracens
again and again dashed upon the solid wall of the Teutons. Again and again they were broken and scattered like
waves upon a rocky coast. Yet, undismayed, they returned to the attack, and above the din of clashing steel
there rose the shout, "Allah, Allah Akbar!"
The fortune of the day seemed uncertain. Then suddenly throughout the Saracen army the cry arose that the
Christians were attacking from behind, and that the Saracen camp with all its rich booty was in danger. In a
flash a great body of the Arab cavalry wheeled about, and dashed to save the treasure. Their greed cost them
the day. With a shout the Franks charged, and before that mighty onslaught the Arabs fled like dust before the
The sun went down upon the victory of the Franks. But how complete that victory was Charles the Hammer did not
know until next morning, when he found the Arab camp empty and deserted. Nor did he at this time follow up his
 advantage. Seven years later, however, he again attacked the Saracens, and at length drove them out of France
altogether. Hence his name—the Hammer.
By his victories over the Saracens Charles made a great name for himself, and the pope, now Gregory III, sent
to him to implore aid against the Lombards, who still distressed Italy. But Charles was friendly with the
Lombard king, Luitprand, and had no wish to fight against him. So, although he received the pope's messenger
with all honour, and loaded him with gifts, he sent him back to Rome without any promise of help. Again the
following year Gregory sent to Charles, abjuring him by the true and living God not to prefer the friendship
of the Lombards to that of the prince of the Apostles. But again Charles failed to give the answer for which
the pope craved, and soon afterwards he died.
Pepin and the Pope
Charles had been king of the Franks in all but name, and now his son Pepin, who ruled after him, made up his
mind to be king in name as well as in fact. So he sent messengers to the pope, now Zacharias, to ask whether
he who remained in his palace free from all peril, or he who had the cares and dangers of the kingdom on his
shoulders, should have the title of king.
Already it would seem as if the pope was regarded as a lawgiver to princes, and Zacharias replied as Pepin had
desired he should. "By the authority of the Apostle Peter" he bade the Franks acknowledge for their king he
who possessed the royal power. So the last Merovingian king was shorn of his flowing locks, the sign of his
sovereignty, and sent to end his days in a convent, and Pepin became the first Carolingian king of the Franks.
The accession of Pepin was not merely the beginning of a new dynasty. It was the beginning of new claims both
 king and priest, it was an exalting both of Church and state. Formerly when the Franks had chosen a chief,
standing upon his shield he was raised shoulder high by his warriors, who acclaimed him king and ruler. Now
with solemn ceremony, surrounded by bishops and priests, Pepin was led to the great church at Soissons. There,
kneeling upon the steps of the altar, he was crowned and anointed by Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans. He was
the chosen now of God and of the Church, and kingship took a new and holy character.
Pepin, King by the Grace of God
Here we have the beginning of "kings by the Grace of God," and of that "divine right" which in days to come
was to bring in its train such grievous woes and cause such desperate struggles between kings and peoples.
The pope already looked upon Pepin's crown as the gift of the Church. And the gifts of the Church were not
given without expectation of return. So very soon Pepin was called upon to show his gratitude. For the year
after his coronation a new Lombard king and a new pope ruled in Italy, and, disregarding the peace which had
been made by King Luitprand, King Aistulph renewed the attacks on Rome and on Ravenna. The pope, Stephen II,
then sent piteous appeals for help to Pepin, and as he did not yield to them immediately, he resolved to make
an appeal in person.
Midwinter although it was, he hastened across the Alps, braving "frost and snow, many waters and rushing
torrents," as he himself writes. But in spite of hardships and dangers he reached France in safety, and
followed by his priests he went at once to greet the king. Clad in a coarse woollen robe, and with ashes
sprinkled on his head, he bowed himself before Pepin, imploring his help. Nor would he rise until his prayer
Pepin promised the aid for which the pope begged, and in return the pope once more crowned Pepin, and anointed
 both his queen and her children. Then, under pain of excommunication, he forbade the Franks ever to choose a
king save from this family "thus consecrated upon the intercession of the holy Apostles by the hands of their
vicar the sovereign pontiff."
The new coronation over, the pope gave to Pepin and his sons the title of patrician of Rome. It was a title
created by Constantine the Great, and could be conferred only by an emperor, so in giving it to Pepin and his
sons Stephen usurped the authority of the emperor. But as the emperor showed himself more and more incapable
of protecting Rome, and more and more indifferent to its fate, both pope and people had begun to forget that
they owed any allegiance to him, and this usurpation was only one among many signs that Italy was no longer
truly a part of the Empire.
Shortly after his second coronation Pepin set out to redeem his promise to Stephen. In two campaigns he
conquered the Lombards king, Aistulph, and forced him to give up Ravenna and the other parts of Italy which he
had lately seized.
The Donation of Pepin
Italy, and especially Ravenna, were still in theory part of the Empire. But Pepin considered that these
provinces were now his by right of conquest, and that he could do with them as he pleased. And so much of a
phantom had the right of the emperor become that he caused a deed of gift to be written out, bestowing the
conquered lands not upon the emperor but upon St. Peter and his successors, the sovereign pontiffs, for all
The pope well knew the value of the gift. With solemn ceremony the keys of the conquered cities, together with
the deed of gift, were laid upon the tomb of St. Peter in Rome. Then they were locked up by the pope among his
most precious treasures.
 This presentation of lands to the pope is called the Donation of Pepin. By it the Papal States were founded,
and the pope, from being little more than a priestly farmer, became a ruling prince, and took his place among
the sovereigns of Europe. Thus king and pope helped to make each other great. But there seems little question
that the pope was the greater gainer. The king had only received the Church's sanction to hold the kingdom
which he, in fact, already had; the pope had gained possession of a kingdom which without Pepin's aid he could
never have hoped to win. Yet in the long run by thus entering the ranks of temporal rulers the Church was to
lose as a spiritual institution and power for good.
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