Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/27

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Meanwhile the Church itself had developed great ambitions and suffered the worst vicissitudes. While under the Frankish protection, Rome had acquired the temporal domain she was to hold until September 20, 1870, when she was dispossessed by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. With this territorial standing, and impelled forward by the mighty traditions of ancient Rome and of the Church, she deliberately stretched out her hand under Gregory VII (Hildebrand) in an attempt to grasp the feudalized scepter of Europe. The Germanic Empire, the offshoot of the greater domain of Charlemagne, resisted. The great parties of Guelphs and of Ghibellines, imperialists and papalists, came into existence, and for a long period tore Germany and Italy in vain attempts at universal supremacy.

Inextricably bound up with the feudal movement, and with the enthusiasm for the service of the Church that Rome for a while succeeded in creating, came an interlude, religious, chivalrous, economic, the Crusades. Out of superabundant supplies of feudal soldiers great armies were formed to relieve the Holy Places from the profaning presence of the infidels. The East was deeply scarred with religious war and its attendant butcheries, and little remained in permanent results, save on the debit side. For the Crusades had proved a huge transportation and trading enterprise for the thrifty republics of Genoa and Venice, and led to a great expansion of oriental trade; while the West had once more been to school to the East and had come back less religious, more sceptical. And from the close of the period of the Crusades (1270) to the outbreak of the Reformation, two hundred and fifty years later, economic activity and the growth of scepticism are among the most prominent facts, while immediately alongside of them may be noted the birth of the new languages, and, partly resulting from all these forces, the Renaissance.


For a while the Papacy, spent by its great effort of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, went to pieces. The Latin ideas for which it stood began to lose ground rapidly as Dante created the Italian language (1300), and as, in the course of the next two centuries, French, English, and German assumed definite literary shape. There was not only a loss of faith in Latin forms, but a desire to transmute