|The Story of Mankind|
|by Hendrik Willem Van Loon|
|Relates the story of western civilization from earliest times through the beginning of the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the people and events that changed the course of history. Portrays in vivid prose the achievements of mankind in the areas of art and discovery, as well as the political forces leading to the modern nation-states. Richly illustrated with drawings by the author. Winner of the first Newbery Award in 1922, The Story of Mankind has introduced generations of children to the pageant of world history. Ages 10-14 |
BUT ALL THESE DIFFERENT QUARRELS WERE FORGOTTEN WHEN THE TURKS TOOK THE HOLY LAND, DESECRATED THE HOLY PLACES AND INTERFERED SERIOUSLY WITH THE TRADE FROM EAST TO WEST. EUROPE WENT CRUSADING
 DURING three centuries there had been peace between Christians
and Moslems except in Spain and in the eastern Roman
Empire, the two states defending the gateways of Europe.
The Mohammedans having conquered Syria in the seventh
century were in possession of the Holy Land. But they regarded
Jesus as a great prophet (though not quite as great
as Mohammed), and they did not interfere with the pilgrims
who wished to pray in the church which Saint Helena, the
mother of the Emperor Constantine, had built on the spot of
the Holy Grave. But early in the eleventh century, a Tartar
tribe from the wilds of Asia, called the Seljuks or Turks,
became masters of the Mohammedan state in western Asia and
then the period of tolerance came to an end. The Turks took
all of Asia Minor away from the eastern Roman Emperors
and they made an end to the trade between east and west.
Alexis, the Emperor, who rarely saw anything of his Christian
neighbours of the west, appealed for help and pointed to
the danger which threatened Europe should the Turks take
 The Italian cities which had established colonies along the
coast of Asia Minor and Palestine, in fear for their possessions,
reported terrible stories of Turkish atrocities and Christian
suffering. All Europe got excited.
Pope Urban II, a Frenchman from Reims, who had been
educated at the same famous cloister of Cluny which had
trained Gregory VII, thought that the time had come for
action. The general state of Europe was far from satisfactory.
The primitive agricultural methods of that day (unchanged
since Roman times) caused a constant scarcity of food. There
was unemployment and hunger and these are apt to lead to
discontent and riots. Western Asia in older days had fed millions.
It was an excellent field for the purpose of immigration.
Therefore at the council of Clermont in France in the year
1095 the Pope arose, described the terrible horrors which the
infidels had inflicted upon the Holy Land, gave a glowing
description of this country which ever since the days of Moses
had been overflowing with milk and honey, and exhorted the
knights of France and the people of Europe in general to
leave wife and child and deliver Palestine from the Turks.
A wave of religious hysteria swept across the continent.
All reason stopped. Men would drop their hammer and saw,
walk out of their shop and take the nearest road to the east
to go and kill Turks. Children would leave their homes to "go
to Palestine" and bring the terrible Turks to their knees by
the mere appeal of their youthful zeal and Christian piety.
Fully ninety percent of those enthusiasts never got within
sight of the Holy Land. They had no money. They were
forced to beg or steal to keep alive. They became a danger
to the safety of the highroads and they were killed by the
angry country people.
The first Crusade, a wild mob of honest Christians, defaulting
bankrupts, penniless noblemen and fugitives from justice,
following the lead of half-crazy Peter the Hermit and
Walter-without-a-Cent, began their campaign against the Infidels by
murdering all the Jews whom they met by the way. They
got as far as Hungary and then they were all killed.
THE FIRST CRUSADE
 This experience taught the Church a lesson. Enthusiasm
alone would not set the Holy Land free. Organisation was
as necessary as good-will and courage. A year was spent in
training and equipping an army of 200,000 men. They were
placed under command of Godfrey of Bouillon, Robert, duke
of Normandy, Robert, count of Flanders, and a number of
other noblemen, all experienced in the art of war.
In the year 1096 this second crusade started upon its long
voyage. At Constantinople the knights did homage to the
Emperor. (For as I have told you, traditions die hard, and
a Roman Emperor, however poor and powerless, was still held
in great respect). Then they crossed into Asia, killed all the
Moslems who fell into their hands, stormed Jerusalem, massacred
the Mohammedan population, and marched to the Holy
Sepulchre to give praise and thanks amidst tears of piety and
gratitude. But soon the Turks were strengthened by the arrival
of fresh troops. Then they retook Jerusalem and in turn
killed the faithful followers of the Cross.
THE WORLD OF THE CRUSADES
 During the next two centuries, seven other crusades took
place. Gradually the Crusaders learned the technique of the
trip. The land voyage was too tedious and too dangerous.
They preferred to cross the Alps and go to Genoa or Venice
where they took ship for the east. The Genoese and the Venetians
made this trans-Mediterranean passenger service a very
profitable business. They charged exorbitant rates, and when
the Crusaders (most of whom had very little money) could not
pay the price, these Italian "profiteers" kindly allowed them
to "work their way across." In return for a fare from Venice
to Acre, the Crusader undertook to do a stated amount of
fighting for the owners of his vessel. In this way Venice greatly
increased her territory along the coast of the Adriatic and in
Greece, where Athens became a Venetian colony, and in the
islands of Cyprus and Crete and Rhodes.
THE CRUSADERS TAKE JERUSALEM
All this, however, helped little in settling the question
of the Holy Land. After the first enthusiasm had
worn off, a short crusading trip became part of the liberal
education of every well-bred young man, and there
never was any lack of candidates for service in Palestine.
But the old zeal was gone. The Crusaders, who
had begun their warfare with deep hatred for the
Mohammedans and great love for the Christian people
of the eastern Roman Empire and Armenia, suffered
a complete change of heart. They came to despise the
Greeks of Byzantium, who cheated them and frequently betrayed
the cause of the Cross, and the Armenians and all the
other Levantine races, and they began to appreciate the
vir-  tues of their enemies who proved to be generous and fair
THE CRUSADER'S GRAVE
Of course, it would never do to say this openly. But when
the Crusader returned home, he was likely to imitate the manners
which he had learned from his heathenish foe, compared
to whom the average western knight was still a good deal of a
country bumpkin. He also brought with him several new
food-stuffs, such as peaches and spinach which he planted in his
garden and grew for his own benefit. He gave up the barbarous
custom of wearing a load of heavy armour and appeared
in the flowing robes of silk or cotton which were the traditional
habit of the followers of the Prophet and were originally worn
by the Turks. Indeed the Crusades, which had begun as a
punitive expedition against the Heathen, became a course of
general instruction in civilisation for millions of young Europeans.
From a military and political point of view the Crusades
were a failure. Jerusalem and a number of cities were taken
and lost. A dozen little kingdoms were established in Syria
and Palestine and Asia Minor, but they were re-conquered by
the Turks and after the year 1244 (when Jerusalem became
definitely Turkish) the status of the Holy Land was the same
as it had been before 1095.
But Europe had undergone a great change. The people of
the west had been allowed a glimpse of the light and the sunshine
and the beauty of the east. Their dreary castles no
longer satisfied them. They wanted a broader life. Neither
Church nor State could give this to them.
They found it in the cities.
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