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Southern Europe: Italy - the Papacy, Naples and Sicily, Venice, Genoa; the Moors in Spain; the Turks; Downfall of Greek (Eastern

Medieval history. From end of western empire to the discovery of America (a.d. 476-1492). From the Crusade Period to the Discovery of America (a.d. 1270-1492).
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After the days of Frederick II. of Germany the Popes had no longer any fear of subjection to the empire, and Boniface VIII. (1294-1303) aimed at European domination through his spiritual power. His arrogant and violent disposition brought him into collision with the despotic Philip IV. of France, a stern, implacable, and unscrupulous man, surrounded by men of the sword and men of law who were devoted to his interests. He soon showed Europe the ascendency which secular authority, long unduly depressed, was now to regain. The Pope who had been claiming to bestow kingdoms and summoning great princes to appear in his court for trial, was seized in his palace by Philip's armed Italian partisans, and so brutally treated that he died shortly afterwards, as already related, a victim of terror, rage, and shame. For a long period the Papacy became subject to France. Clement V. (1305-1316), a Frenchman, was elected under Philip's influence, and the seat of the Papal court was transferred for about 70 years, the period already mentioned as "the Babylonish captivity," to Avignon in Provence. The quarrels of the Popes with various monarchs injured the reputation of the See, and men began to feel and to express doubts as to its character, and claims to supreme power. After the return of the Papal court to Rome, in 1378, there was trouble concerning rival Popes, a matter which, as we lately saw, was settled at the Council of Constance. The new and sole occupant of the Papal chair, Martin V. (1417-1431), was a wise administrator, and the Papacy, along with its secular possessions in central Italy, regained much of its old credit and spiritual and political authority. A new and higher position was assumed under Nicholas V. (1447-1455), a man whose genius had formed an ideal of a Papacy which should impress the world by an aspect of greatness, with Rome, the Papal city, as the protectress of the arts, the abode of learning, and the centre of all Christian culture, as well as the supreme seat of religion. This admirable chief Pontiff, devoted to the cause of peace and progress, assumed power at a critical period of the world's history, a few years before the downfall of the Eastern Empire which had passed through the period of intellectual darkness in Europe and connected the two great ages of light. It was at Constantinople that the masterpieces of Attic literature had been mainly preserved, and in 1453, when the • fanatical Moslem-were wreaking their destructive wrath, as we shall see, on the treasures of art and learning of which they could feel and understand nothing, a few humble German artisans, with little thought that they were creating a power far superior to that of princes and armies, were cutting and setting the first types for the rude original printing-press. This was the age of Nicholas V., the age which witnessed the disappearance of the last trace of the Roman Empire and the publication of the first printed book. He was well worthy of the time in which he rose to the highest place in Europe, for he was the greatest of all the restorers of learning, and a lover and patron of art as well as of literature. He was a man who had sprung from the common people, but whose abilities and acquirements had soon attracted the notice of the great. He had studied much and travelled far, visiting the British Isles, and living with the merchant-princes of Florence, the men who first ennobled trade by allying it with philosophy, eloquence, and taste. He had arranged the first public library of modern Europe under the protection of the munificent Cosmo. To him the students of the University of Glasgow look back with gratitude as their founder. When he rose from a private station to the Papal throne, Nicholas never forgot the studies which had been his life's delight, and it was--he-who established the Vatican library, and took measures for the careful preservation of the most valuable intellectual treasures which had been snatched from the wreck of the Byzantine Empire. His agents were busy, in the bazaars of the far East and in the monasteries of the remote West, copying or buying worm-eaten parchments on which were traced immortal words. Under his patronage careful Latin versions were made of many remains of Greek philosophers and poets. He who writes history is, above all, indebted to this eminent Pope for the introduction to the knowledge of Western Europe of the unrivalled models of historical composition which bear the names and illustrate the genius of Herodotus and Thucydides. With this illustrious name, on the 'verge of modern history, we leave the Papacy, after noting that this same Nicholas V. rebuilt the decayed churches and palaces of Rome, and erected the Vatican as a fit residence for his successors in the Papal See.

Naples and Sicily, in the 14th and 15th centuries, present little of interest and importance. Naples was chiefly in possession of princes of the house of Anjou, and Sicily was mainly held by Spaniards of the house of Aragon, along with Naples in the latter part of this period. Venice, at the close of the 13th century, passed under an oligarchical form of rule by a measure which closed the Great Council against every one who was not a member of one of the chief noble families. In 1308 the republic was in sore trouble with Pope Clement V., who was angered by their warlike interference, against his views, in the affairs of Ferrara, where the house of Este was in power. A sentence of excommunication was issued against the Doge, the nobles, the town, and the people of Venice. On resistance being made, the republic was deprived of all former concessions and privileges granted by the Holy See; the Doge's subjects were freed from their oath of allegiance; all property of Venetians was confiscated, and a crusade against them was preached. In that age, such fulminations from Rome might, and often did, involve a tremendous reality. Either from a spirit of obedience to the Pope, or from a jealousy of the pride and wealth of a prosperous_ state, the decrees of Clement were executed, and the goods of Venetian owners were plundered in most of the European countries. The fleet was defeated at sea by the Papal vessels, and the interdict deprived the people of sacraments. Submission and a heavy fine made an end of this trouble about five years later. Meanwhile, a revolution had brought anew class of nobles to -the front, and founded the famous, secret, dreaded Council of Ten, first a temporary body of criminal judges appointed to inquire into a certain conspiracy, and then, in 1335, made a permanent institution, with supreme, plenary, inquisitorial authority and sovereignty over every individual in the state of Venice, and free from all responsibility and appeal. This body was annually chosen from the noblest and most esteemed citizens, at four different assemblies of the Great Council, for one year of office. Only one person from any family, or even of the same name, could serve at a time. There was no payment for the duties, and no other office could be held therewith. The acceptance of gifts was a capital offence. The Council of Ten exercised a tyranny beyond the reach of bribes, threats, or violence; it was a dark, inscrutable body that ruled the republic with a rod of iron, and its existence was prolonged for five centuries. The "Lion's mouth," or the Council's letter-box, was a slit in the palace-wall for the reception of petitions, accusations, denunciations, and applications for the settlement of disputes, but no paper was accepted without a signature, and the discussion of the contents of each document was subject to many minute regulations and restrictions. The punishments inflicted by the Council ranged from fines, through torture, imprisonment, exile, and the galleys, to mutilation, and death by hanging, drowning, or strangling, inflicted either openly or in secret. The "Bridge of Sighs" was that by which the condemned were led to the dungeon of their doom. The oligarchical government of Venice has the glory of success in choosing skilful commanders, diplomatists, and other agents for the management of the affairs of the greatest mediaeval republic.

In the 14th century a good trade was carried on with England and Flanders. Venice supplied the London market with sugar, and was paid in the shape of bales of wool, which were turned into cloth by Flemish looms, and then passed through Venice to Dalmatia and the Levant. The republic rose to the height of wealth. Silk-weaving was established by exiles from Lucca, and there was a great manufacture of mirrors and other fabrics in glass. There was much naval warfare with the Turks, and in 1350 a fierce contest arose with Genoa, due to rivalry in the Eastern trade. The Genoese had helped the Greeks to regain the empire, from the Latins, and had received in return possession of the suburb of Galata, where they had great influence over political affairs at Constantinople. In 1352, in the waters of the Bosphorus, the Genoese gained a victory after severe loss to themselves, and in the following year they were badly defeated off Sardinia, losing 32 galleys to the foe, who disgraced themselves by flinging some thousands of prisoners into the sea. The hatred between the two republics was such that in every dispute in the East they were sure to be ranged on opposite sides. In 1378, the contest called the war of Chioggia began, having its origin in a quarrel concerning the possession of Cyprus. A Venetian fleet was destroyed by the Genoese off the coast of Dalmatia, and the victors moved on to attack Venice. The most southern of the channels in the long line of narrow islands between the open Adriatic and the great lagune leads to the town of Chioggia, about 25 miles south of Venice. The Genoese fleet occupied the channel and took Chioggia, and nothing barred the road to the city, while Doria, the admiral of Genoa, was boasting that he would bridle the bronze horses on the front of St. Mark. In this extremity two Venetian admirals, with a fresh force from the Levant and other quarters, came up in the rear of the Genoese ships, and in the spring of 1380 blockaded them until they were forced to surrender. Venice lost some territory at this time to the king of Hungary, but she soon became as powerful as ever. Genoa, harassed by the cost of her contests at sea, and by civil strife, gave herself over in 1396 to the rule of Charles VI. of France.

Early in the 15th century warfare in northern Italy gave Venice the possession of Treviso, Verona, Padua, Vicenza, and other towns, and the republic was thus closely concerned with Italian politics. War with the Turks, for the defence of the Eastern trade, brought a great victory at Gallipoli, in 1416, for the republican fleet. It was at this period that Venice reached the height of her power and glory, commanding the commerce of the known world; absolute mistress of the Adriatic; possessed of large territories on the Italian and Dalmatian coasts and mainland; owning over 3,000 private vessels in her mercantile marine; and having a fleet of 45 galleys, with a total naval and mercantile body of 36,000 sailors. The great mistake of Venetian policy lay in the ambition which caused the dispersion of her strength, and so led to the undermining of her power and the draining of her resources in many fields of enterprise. An able and enlightened Doge named Mocenigo, who was in power from 1414 to 1423, saw the danger, and he warned his colleagues against a warlike policy and the extension of territory on the mainland. Under his successor, Francesco Foscari, there was war with the Turks and with the duke of Milan, involving great expenditure with little profit. When the Turks were besieging Constantinople, and the emperor appealed to all Christendom for help, and especially to Venice and Genoa, the Adriatic state was unable to make any worthy effort on a scene of action where her interests were more concerned than those of any other power. Commercial considerations, after the fall of the great city, led Venice to make a treaty with the Moslem conquerors, but in 1462 a long war with the new Ottoman empire began, and in 1477 a great Turkish army entered Italy, and defeated the Venetians, ravaging the country until the fires could be seen from the top of St. Mark's. Previous to this, the Turks had conquered from Venice the town of Negropont, and the republic had suffered the shame of seeing her admiral look on, with sailors once renowned as foremost for skill and valour, without an effort to save his countrymen from a hideous massacre. In connection with the revival of letters we may note that the first Greek grammar compiled in Western Europe was published at Venice in 1484, and that there, though at a later date than at Florence and other Italian cities, there were many patricians who were students and patrons of the new learning. In 1489, the republic, by discreditable means, became possessed of Cyprus, having induced the widowed Queen Caterina Cornaro, a Venetian lady, to forego her possession of the island.

We now turn to Spain, to view the events which led to the expulsion of the Moors from the peninsula, and the consolidation of the Spanish monarchy. On the death of Alfonso X. of Castile in 1284, his eldest surviving son, Sancho, a man of vigorous character, called "the Valiant" for his prowess in warfare against the Moors, became king through the influence of the Cortes. In 1292, he conquered the important town of Tarifa, on the southern coast. Much trouble followed his death, three years later, owing to long minorities of his successors, bringing civil warfare, and one great defeat, near Granada, from the Moors. In 1309, however, Gibraltar was captured by the Spaniards, and in 1340, on the banks of the Salado, near Tarifa, a great Moorish host was routed by Alfonso and the king of Portugal. Four years later, after a long siege, Algeciras fell, and the Moslem power was further shaken. Passing over a long period of warfare between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, and between each of them and the Moors, diversified by civil wars, partly due to disputed succession, we find Fernando, prince of Castile, in 1411, elected king of Aragon, On his death in 1416, Castile was nominally ruled until 1454 by Juan II., who was subject to favourites, but. has gained credit by his encouragement of literature, art, and learning. For the greater part of the long reign power was in the hands of a very able and accomplished statesman, Alvaro de Luna, who was constantly at issue with some of the great nobles. As "Constable of Castile," he was head of the executive government, dispenser of royal favour, and commander of the army. The people enjoyed peace and prosperity as long as he remained in power. In 1453 he was executed, a victim to his sovereign's base jealousy and betrayal of a faithful servant. It was at this period that "chivalry," in its ornamental sense, on its fantastic and romantic side, reached its greatest height in Spain, and tournaments were the chief amusement of the great. After the death of Juan II. there was civil war between his sons, useless campaigning against the Moors of Granada, and much fighting, to the satisfaction of the infidels, between leading Andalusian nobles.

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Pictures for Southern Europe: Italy - the Papacy, Naples and Sicily, Venice, Genoa; the Moors in Spain; the Turks; Downfall of Greek (Eastern

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