The Unity of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 343 pages of information about The Unity of Civilization.


The development of the kingdom into the State was largely the work of the lawyers.  The law is a tenacious profession, and in England at any rate its members have exercised a large influence on politics from the twelfth to the twentieth century—­from the days of Glanville, the justiciar of Henry II, to the days of Mr. Asquith, the prime minister of George V. It is perhaps in England that we may first see the germs of the modern State emerging to light under the fostering care of the royal judges.  Henry II is something of a sovereign:  his judges formulate a series of commands, largely in the shape of writs, which became the common law of the land; and in the Constitutions of Clarendon we may already see the distinction between Church and State beginning to be attempted.  With a sovereign, a law, and a secular policy all present, we may begin to suspect the presence of a State.  In France also a similar development, if somewhat later than the English, occurs at a comparatively early date.  By the end of the thirteenth century the legists of Philippe le Bel have created something of etatisme in their master’s dominions.  The king’s court begins to rule the land; and proud of its young strength it enters the lists against Boniface VIII, the great prophet of the Church Universal, who proclaimed that every human creature was subject to the Roman pontiff.  The collapse of Boniface at Anagni in 1303 is the traditional date of the final defeat of the mediaeval papacy.  Everywhere, indeed, the tide seemed on the turn at the close of the thirteenth century.  The Crusades ended with the fall of Acre in 1291.  The suppression of the great international order of the Templars twenty years later marked a new leap of the encroaching waves.  The new era of the modern national State might seem already to have begun.

But tides move slowly and by gradual inches.  It needed two centuries more before the conditions in which the modern State could flourish had been fully and finally established.  Economic conditions had to change—­a process always gradual and slow; and a national economy based on money had to replace the old local economy based on kind.  Languages had to be formed, and local dialects had to be transformed into national and literary forms, before national States could find the means of utterance.  The revival of learning had to challenge the old clerical structure of knowledge, and to set free the progress of secular science, before the minds of men could be readily receptive of new forms of social structure and new modes of human activity.  But by 1500 the work of preparation had been largely accomplished.  The progress of discovery had enlarged the world immeasurably.  The addition of America to the map had spiritual effects which it is difficult to estimate in any proper terms.  If the old world of the Mediterranean regions could be thought into a unity, it was more difficult to

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The Unity of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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