Beacon Lights of History, Volume 05 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 05.
Germanic race.  He died A.D. 814, after a reign of half a century, lamented by his own subjects and to be admired by succeeding generations.  Hallam, though not eloquent generally, has pronounced his most beautiful eulogy, “written in the disgraces and miseries of succeeding times.  He stands alone like a rock in the ocean, like a beacon on a waste.  His sceptre was the bow of Ulysses, not to be bent by a weaker hand.  In the dark ages of European history, his reign affords a solitary resting-place between two dark periods of turbulence and ignominy, deriving the advantage of contrast both from that of the preceding dynasty and of a posterity for whom he had founded an empire which they were unworthy and unequal to maintain.”

To such a tribute I can add nothing.  His greatness consists in this, that, born amidst barbarism, he was yet the friend of civilization, and understood its elemental principles, and struggled forty-seven years to establish them,—­failing only because his successors and subjects were not prepared for them, and could not learn them until the severe experience of ten centuries, amidst disasters and storms, should prove the value of the “old basal walls and pillars” which remained unburied amid the despised ruins of antiquity, and show that no structure could adequately shelter the European nations which was not established by the beautiful union of German vigor with Christian art,—­by the combined richness of native genius with those immortal treasures which had escaped the wreck of the classic world.


Eginhard’s Vita Caroli Magni; Le Clerc’s De la Bruyere, Histoire du Regne de Charlemagne; Haureau’s Charlemagne et son Cour; Gaillard’s Histoire de Charlemagne; Lorenz’s Karls des Grossen.  There is a tolerably popular history of Charlemagne by James Bulfinch, entitled “Legends of Charlemagne;” also a Life by James the novelist.  Henri Martin, Sismondi, and Michelet may be consulted; also Hallam’s Middle Ages, Milman’s Latin Christianity, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Biographic Universelle, and the Encyclopaedias.


* * * * *

A.D. 1020-1085.


We associate with Hildebrand the great contest of the Middle Ages between spiritual and temporal authority, the triumph of the former, and its supremacy in Europe until the Reformation.  What great ideas and events are interwoven with that majestic domination,—­not in one age, but for fifteen centuries; not religious merely, but political, embracing as it were the whole progress of European society, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Protestant Reformation; yea, intimately connected with the condition of Europe to the present day, and not of Europe only, but America itself!  What an august power is this Catholic empire, equally great as an institution and as a religion!  What

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