Page:Western Europe in the Middle Ages.djvu/69

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53
THE MAKING OF EUROPE

formed a distinct political and cultural unit. It had separated from the worlds of Byzantium and Islam; it had its own traditions and characteristic patterns of behavior. In spite of local differences a European felt at home in any European region, but he was immediately conscious of being in a foreign country when he visited Constantinople or Cordova. This establishment of a specifically European tradition was the great and enduring work of the Carolingian family. The empire fell; the facts of Carolingian history were forgotten, but the impression remained that the reign of Charlemagne marked a turning-point in the development of Western Europe. The wildest legends about the great emperor still contained the essential truth the belief that he stood at the beginning of Western European civilization. The strange and wonderful structure of European civilization still rests on the foundations laid in the age of Charlemagne.