Thirteenth Century

louis, france, justice, throne, foundation, edward, empire, king, time and seen

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The military and political events of the cen tury have a special significance because as a rule their influence still lives. The Crusades came to an end, the fourth under Boniface, Marquis of Montferrat (1222), the fifth led by King Andrew II (1228), the sixth (1248) and the seventh and last (1270), under Louis IX of France. The Children's Crusade (1212) was on of the sad interludes of an enthusiasm which went beyond reason. Most of the many thousands of children crusaders perished mis erably or were sold into slavery by designing leaders. In 1230 the Teutonic Knights in a crusade againSt the pagan tribes of the Baltic region established themselves in Prussia and laid the foundation of what at the Reforma tion, through the ambition of a grand master, was to become a duchy, the beginning of mod ern Prussia. In 1282, Rudolph of Hapsburg, a Swiss noble, elected emperor in the first elec tion held after the reform of the Imperial Elec torate and the creation of seven electors, con ferred on his sons the duchies of Austria and laid the foundation of the Hapsburg dynasty. All during the century the kings of Aragon were extending their sway over the Spanish Peninsula and the Balearic Islands (1230). After the Sicilian Vespers, a massacre of the French in Sicily by the Sicilians, so-called from its commencement at vespers on Easter Monday (1282), the kingdom of Sicily passed to them. Less than 20 years before (1265) the French under the House of Anjou had ascended the throne of. the Two Sicilies. In 1235 the duchy of Brunswick was formed under the House of Guelph. Five centuries afterward, when reign ing in Hanover, the Guelphs were to succeed to the throne of England (George I) where they still reign. The century saw the rise of Flor ence in importance, the decline of the republic of Pisa, the increase of Venice in power under an aristocracy which became hereditary toward the end of the period and the enfranchisement of the serfs at Bologna. The closing year of the century Pope Boniface VIII proclaimed the first jubilee and the crowds who flocked to Rome to celebrate it were so large that they could not cross the bridge to the Vatican until the rule of the road of keeping to the right was pro claimed, the first time in history there is men tion of it.

Everywhere political events were occurring destined to far-reaching significance. Edward I of England to whom the contest between Robert Bruce and John Baliol for the crown of Scot land had been referred as umpire, conferred it upon Baliol on condition that he should receive it as a vassal of England. The Scotch refused to acknowledge any such dependence, for Scot land, to which Magnus of Norway (1266) had ceded the Hebrides, felt its nationality at stake. Baliol was dethroned and fled to Edward who attempted to enforce his rights. William Wal lace, the famous hero of Scottish popular poetry, led an insurrection that was joined by Sir William Douglas and Robert Bruce who gathered round them most of the Scots. They were defeated by Edward at Falkirk (1299), but Robert Bruce was proclaimed king and suc ceeded in maintaining himself until the defeat of Edward II at the great battle of burn (1306) settled him firmly on the throne.

The foundation of the Ottoman or Turkish Empire (1299) under Othman I in Bithynia led to the consolidation of Mohammedan power to the serious disturbance of Europe. The Turks are historically relatives of the Mongols who had already created the splendid empire of the Seljuks and who from the 11th to the 13th century governed the greater part of the caliphs' dominions in Asia and thus prepared the way for the Ottomans, their successors. The nucleus of their empire was formed in Asia Minor toward the end of the century under Er Toghrul. Osman or Othman or Ottoman, his son, is looked upon as the founder of the empire.

The century saw the career of the best ruler of all time, Louis IX of France, or Saint Louis as he came to be called. It has been said of him, °Of all the rulers of men of whom we have record in history, he probably took his duties the most seriously with most regard for others and least for himself and his family." The watchword of his rule was justice, though he made it the aim of his life that men should have justice and education, and when for any misfortune they needed it — charity. For an unjust judge there was short shrift. The old tree at Versailles under which he used to hear the causes of the poor who appealed to him stood for many centuries the living reminder of Louis' efforts to make the dispensing of justice equal to all men. Voltaire, unsympathetic in so many ways, said of him, Louis IX appeared to be a prince destined to reform Europe if she could have been reformed, to render France triumphant and civilized and to be in all things a pattern for men. A far-reaching policy was combined with strict justice and he is perhaps the only sovereign who is entitled to this praise; prudent and firm in counsel. intrepid without rashness in his wars, he was as compassionate as if he had always been unhappy. No man could have carried virtue further." Guizot, the French statesman and historian so little ap pealed to by the mediaeval, said °The world has seen more profound politicians on the throne, greater generals, men of more mighty and bril liant intellect, princes that have exercised more powerful influence over later generations; but it has never seen such a king as this Saint Louis, never seen a man possessing sovereign power and yet not contracting the vices and passions which attend it, displaying upon the throne in such a high degree every human vir tue, purified and ennobled by Christian faith. He was an ideal man, king and Christian, an isolated figure without any peer among his suc cessors or contemporaries." His reign is the history of France for nearly 50 years (1226-70). He influenced not alone France but the other peoples of his time deeply. He was chosen as the umpire in disputes in foreign countries.

Loins' instructions to his son, so emphatic of justice as the great law among men, his deep interest in education, his foundation of the Sorbonne, his beneficence to the University of Paris, his encouragement of art and architec ture, La Sainte Chapelle is his monument, as well as his scholarly patronage of men of letters in friendly intercourse, all stamp him as one of the most broad-minded of men.

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