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Fedavee. His death was followed by that of his master, not without strong suspicion of poison. “ The governments were arrayed in open enmity against the order, and heads fell like an abundant harvest, beneath the twofold sickle of assassination and the sword of justice.'
After a reign of thirty-five years, Hassan Sahab saw his power extended over a great portion of the Mahometan world, which continued under his successors till they were overthrown by the Tartars.
36. CRUSADES, OR HOLY WARS. The crusades were religious wars, waged by Christian Europe, chiefly against the Turks or Mahometans, with a view to recover Palestine out of their hands These expeditions commenced, A. D. 1095. The foundation of them was a superstitious veneration for those places where our Saviour performed his miracles, and accomplished the work of man's redemption.
Palestine having been conquered by the Turks, Jerusalem was now in their hands, which rendered it unsafe and vexatious to the pilgrims, who flocked from all parts, to visit the tomb of our Saviour.
Peter the hermit, a native of France, on his return from his pilgrimage, complained in loud terms of the grievances the Christians suffered from the Turks. He conceived the project of leading all the forces of Christendom against the infidels, and driving them out of the Holy Land.
Being encouraged in his project by pope Urban II.,+ Peter went from province to province, and
• Von Hammer's Hist, of the Assassins.
† As the popes were the great promoters of these holy wars, 80 to them accrued the chief advantages which resulted from them. By means of them, they greatly increased their temporal authority; they being in fact the military commanders in these extravagant enterprises, while emperors and kings were only subordinate officers. The crusades were sources, also, of incalculable wealth to the popes, to the churches and monasteries ; for to them the pious crusaders bequeathed their lands, houses, and money; and as few of them ever returned, they became their lawful possessions.Goodrich'. Eccl. Hist.
succeeded in arousing princes and people to undertake this holy warfare. All ranks of men, now deeming the crusades the only road to heaven, were impatient to open the way with their swords to the holy city.
Nobles, artizans, peasants, and even priests enrolled their names; and to decline this service was branded with the reproach of impiety or cowardice. The infirm and aged contributed by presents and money, and many attended it in person ; being determined, if possible, to breathe their last in the sight of the holy city. Even women, concealing their sex under the disguise of armour, attended the camp; and the greatest criminals were forward in a service which they considered as an expiation for all crimes.
In the first crusade, an army of 80,000 men, a disorderly multitude, led on by Peter, were destroyed ; but the army which followed, consisting of 700,000 men, under Godfrey, conquered Syria and Palestine, and took possession of Jerusalem, which they held for several years. The crusaders, however, weakened their power by dividing their conquests into four separate states.
In this situation they found it necessary to solicit aid from Europe, and accordingly, in 1146, an army of 200,000 men, under Hugh, brother to the French king, set out upon another crusade. But these met with the same fate as the army of Peter. Another army of 300,000 soon followed, and were soon destroyed or dispersed.
Palestine having fallen into the hands of the infidels, under the great Saladin, Europe felt the indignity, and France, England, Germany, each sent forth an army headed by its own sovereign.
Richard I. of England bore the weight of the contest, and defeated Saladin, on the plains of Ascalon.
The fourth crusade took place in 1202, and was directed against the Greek empire. The fifth was against Egypt, in revenge for an attack on Palestine by its sultan. But this expedition, like the rest, was ruinous in the end.
It is computed that, in the whole of the crusades to
Palestine, two millions of Europeans were buried in the east.
When Jerusalem was taken, the crusaders were guilty of the most shocking barbarities; the numerous garrisons were put to the sword, and the inhabitants were massacred without mercy, and without distinction. No age nor sex were spared, not even sucking children. What shows the blind enthusiasm which animated those ferocious conquerors is, their behaviour after this terrible slaughter. They marched over heaps of dead bodies towards the Holy Sepulchre ; and while their hands were polluted with the blood of so many innocent persons, sung anthems to the common Saviour of mankind !
37. CHIVALRY, OR KNIGHTHOOD. CHIVALRY, or knighthood, was an institution common to Europe during the middle ages, having principally for its objects the correction of those evils that were peculiar to the state of society which then existed. It sought to support the weak, to protect
oppressed, to restrain the lawless, to refine the rude, to avenge wrongs, and especially to maintain the rights and defend the purity of the female sex. In its elements, it eombined bravery, honour, courtesy, love and religion.
Knighthood was certainly a distinction of society before the days of Charlemagne. But it wanted religion. When it began to be marked by religious rites, it formed a religious institution. Its union with religion took place somewhere between the ninth and eleventh centuries. Its character was raised and perfected by the crusades.
Knighthood was always, and essentially, a personal distinction, and in this respect, different from nobility. The nobility of Europe were the lords of particular districts of country, and although originally they held their dignities only for life, yet their title soon became hereditary.
Every person of noble birth was required, when twelve years old, to take a solemn oath, before the bishop of his diocese, to defend the oppressed, &c. This was ordained at the council of Clermont, in the eleventh century ; thus giving a public and sacred sancs tion to the humanities of chivalry, But besides the nobility, others might be promoted to the order, by meritorious valour. Almost the whole of Europe was affected with the chivalric spirit.
It flourished most, however, in France, Spain, and Germany, and more early developed itself, as a fixed principle of action, in these countries than in others. England, at length, was not undistinguished for its chivalry.
There were three degrees in the chivalry of Europe : knights bannerets, knights, and esquires. The full dignity of knighthood was seldom conferred on a squire before the age of twenty-one. The ceremonies of inauguration were solemn. The preparation consisted in prayer, confession, and fasting ; was accompanied by clothing him with a white dress, which was considered symbolical of the purity of his new character ; and by throwing over him a red garment, which was to mark his resolution to shed his blood in the cause of heaven. These and other rites were a necessary preliminary.
A church, or hall of a castle, was generally the place of inauguration. The candidate first offered his sword to the priest, who blessed it. Before it was returned to him he took his oaths of chivalry. He solemnly swore to defend the church, to attack the wicked, to respect the priesthood, to protect woman and the poor, to preserve the country in tranquillity, and to shed his blood, even to the last drop, in behalf of his brethren.
The young warrior having kneeled with clasped hands before the supreme lord in the assembly (a purely feudal ceremony), and having declared his only object, to maintain religion and chivalry, was now invested with all the exterior marks of the order. The knights and ladies of the court attended on him, and
delivered to him the various pieces of his harness. The armour varied at different periods and in different countries, but some matters were of permanent usage. The spurs were always put on first, and the sword was belted on last. The concluding sign of being dubbed or adopted into the order of knighthood, was a slight blow given by the lord to the cavalier, and called the acolade, from the part of the body, the neck, whereon it was struck. The lord then proclaimed him a knight, in the name of God and the saints.
In the character of a true knight were combined many virtues and noble endowments. It necessarily included, also, some prominent defects. Companionship in arnis was a sacred principle, and a knight would fly to the relief. of his companion in arms, even were his services demanded by a female at the time. His valour was connected with modesty, and both were, in the highest degree, conspicuous. In chivalric war, much humanity was displayed; though in contentions of a different kind, it was unhappily suppressed. As a knight fought for the church, he was intolerant, and towards infidels and heretics he ceased to exhibit his wonted forbearance. His sense of honour was keen, and his independence was consistent with discipline and submission. His whole course was dictated by a regard to religion. His devotions were frequent. Religion entered into all the observances of chivalry ; but it was only the religion of the times—a form rather than spirit—too corrupt to be a safe guide, The knight, finally, was. characterized by a very remarkable fidelity to obligations, by generosity, and by courtesy.
The latter principle, like every other blessing of modern times, had its origin in the Christian religion. The world thought that courtesy and chivalry accorded together, and that villanous and foul words were contrary to an order which was founded in piety.
Chivalry had its various orders or associations of cavaliers, formed for specific purposes, generally of a benevolent character. Ten of them remain to the