Thirteenth Century

time, history, spanish, europe, league, pence, free, declared, law and wages

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Two great Spanish monarchs deserve to be mentioned beside Saint Louis. They are Fer dinand (1200-52), the Saint, king of Castile and Leon, whose mother, Berengaria, was the sister of Blanche of Castile, the mother of Saint Louis. To him is due the collection of trans lations in the vernacular of the Forum Judicum or Code of Visigothic laws which is one of the oldest specimens of Castillian prose extant and the foundation of Spanish jurisprudence. His son, Alfonso X (1221-84) the Wise, is also known as the astronomer because of the Alfon sine tables, a series of astronomical observa tions compiled by his direction, but better known as the author of the code Las Siete Partidas, the basis of modern Spanish law. Ticknor (History of Spanish Literature') declared that Alfonso efirst made Castilian a national language by causing the Bible to be translated into it and by requiring it to be used in all legal proceedings. ° Under these two great mon archs, Spanish literature began its magnificent course, the ballads of the Cid and of Bernardo del Carpio becoming the common property of the people.

Surprisingly enough one phase of political history outside of Europe in the century is as important as anything in Europe. Genghis Khan founded the Mogul or Mongol Empire. He was a Tartar (Tatar) chieftain, by name, Temuchin, who on the death of his father suc ceeded to the Mongol throne at the age of 13 (1175). The chiefs who owed him allegiance were turbulent and restless, and had been re strained by the iron rule of his father. They refused to submit to a mere boy, but Temuchin's mother had the courage and vigor to repress many of them and keep them to their alle giance until Temuchin showed before long that he could rule them himself. He soon extended his sway over neighboring chiefs and in 1206 proclaimed himself emperor, invaded northern China and securing firm footing within the Great Wall soon conquered most of the country. He then turned westward, defeated the Moham medans who had beheaded his envoys, over whelming an immense army of nearly half a million, of whom 160,000 were left dead on the field. Pressing westward he besieged Bokhara, capturing it and Samarcand, and then Merv, all of which were sacked and burned. Astrakan was taken, the Russians defeated and Great Bulgaria ravaged. His troops conquered more of India and most of China, so that this one time chief of a petty Mongol tribe °lived to see his armies victorious from the China Sea to the banks of the Drfieper; and though the empire which he created ultimately dwindled away in the hands of his degenerate descendants, leav ing not a wrack behind, we have in the presence of the Turks in Europe a consequence of his rule, since it was the advance of his armies which drove their Osmanli ancestors from their original home in northern Asia and thus led to their invasion of Bithynia under Othmau and finally their advance into Europe under Amurath I.° Representative government developed during the century parallel with other achievements. Magna Charm was signed in 1215; the con cluding sentence of chapter 1 runs: °We have also granted to all free men of our kingdom, for us and for our heirs forever; all the un derwritten liberties to be had and held by them and their heirs of us and our heirs forever.* Whatever the original intention, this became eventually a grant to all free Englishmen. In 1257 the Provisions of Oxford under King Henry III established the stated recurrence of the great national council of Parliament. In 1265 the Knights of the Shire and the representa tives of the townspeople who formed later the House of Commons were admitted to Parlia ment, while those personally summoned to at tend by the king from the great nobles formed the House of Lords. Beginning with 1295, under Edward I, the attendance of the town members became regular, making Parliament really representative of the country. In the

meantime, Bracton's 'Digest of the English Common Law' (1282) secured the legal rights of Englishmen of all classes, and forms the basis of law down to our own time in all English-speaking countries.

Nothing of all the accomplishment of the century probably possesses livelier interest for our commercial age than their organization of business in spite of what must have seemed in superable difficulties to less enterprising times. Trade combinations and municipal affiliations as well as commerce facilities among distant, different peoples were rendered possible and even easy. Some even of the most modem developments of international intercourse were anticipated. Miss Zimmern (tThe Hanseatic League,' Stories of the Nations Series) said: °There is scarcely a more remarkable chapter in history than that which deals with the trading alliance or association known as the Hanseatic League. The league has long since passed away, having served its time and fulfilled its purpose. The needs and circumstances of man kind have changed and new methods and new instruments have been devised for carrying on the commerce of the world. Yet, if the league has disappeared, the beneficial results of its action survive to Europe, though they have be come so completely a part of our daily life that we accept them as matters of course, and do not stop to inquire into their origin.* The condition of the great mass of people as the result of the growth of genuine democ racy in this period is particularly interesting for our time. Good authorities have declared it the happiest century of human existence. More men and women than probably at any other time enjoyed the blessedness of having found their work and that work eminently satis fying, because it represented an interest of the mind or soul rather than the body. Artistic power and the art impulse were never so wide spread, and triumphs of arts and crafts work were made even in very small towns. As for those without special talent the manual workers, Thorold Rogers, in his 'Economic Interpreta tion of History,' says: °On the whole there were none of those extremes of poverty and wealth which have excited the astonishment of philanthropists and the indignation of working men. The age, it is true, had its discontents . . . but of poverty that perishes unheeded, of willingness to do honest work and a lack of opportunity, there was little or none* Wages were very low, according to our standards and money values, but the necessaries of life were proportionately cheap, and the ratio between wages and prices is the all-important consideration. The social improvement which marked the 13th century led to the fixing by statute in the time of Edward III in the early 14th century of the minimum wage of four pence a day and set maximum prices for neces saries of life. A pair of hand-made shoes was four pence, a fat goose two and one-half pence, a fat sheep a shilling and two pence, and a stall fed ox only 24 shillings. Needless to say this ratio between wages and prices secured the workman against 'want. An act of Parliament in the 14th century naines (beef, pork, mutton and veal as the food of the poorer sort?' Holi days were frequent. Besides the Sundays there were some 35 holy days during the year on which no work was done, and Saturday after noon was free after the vesper hour, 2 P.M., as also the vigils of all first-class feasts. Standish O'Grady declared this abundance of leisure a source of the greatness of the time. Twice in the world's history, in the 5th cen tury B.C. in Greece and the 13th century A.D., men have spent one-third of their time in leis ure in preparation for and in celebration of religious mysteries. In both periods they had the time and the energy to create artistic and intellectual monuments which the world will never willingly let die.

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