Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/629

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
605
THE BEGINNINGS OF CHRISTIANITY

of the world over all nations, the divinely led ruling power over a great league of terrestrial states. In later years these ideas developed into a definite political theory and policy. As the barbarian races settled and became Christian, the Pope began to claim an overlordship of their kings. In a few centuries the Pope had become in theory, and to a certain extent in practice, the high priest, censor, judge, and divine monarch of Christendom; his influence extended in the west far beyond the utmost range of the old empire, to Ireland, Norway, and Sweden, and over all Germany. For more than a thousand years this idea of the unity of Christendom, of Christendom as a sort of vast Amphictyony, whose members even in war time were restrained from many extremities by the idea of a common brotherhood and a common loyalty to the Church, dominated Europe. The history of Europe from the fifth century onward to the fifteenth is very largely the history of the failure of this great idea of a divine world government to realize itself in practice.

 

§ 9

We have already given an account in the previous chapter of the chief irruptions of the barbarian races. We may now, with the help of a map, make a brief review of the political divisions of Europe at the close of the fifth century. No vestige of the Western Empire, the original Roman Empire, remained as such. Over many parts of Europe a sort of legendary overlordship of the Hellenic Eastern Empire held its place in men's minds. The emperor at Constantinople was, in theory at least, still emperor. In Britain, the quite barbaric Teutonic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes had conquered the eastern half of England; in the west of the island the Britons still held out, but were gradually being forced back into Wales and Cornwall. The Anglo-Saxons seem to have been among the most ruthless and effective of barbarian conquerors, for wherever they prevailed, their language completely replaced the Keltic or Latin speech—it is not certain which[1]—used by the British. These Anglo-Saxons were as yet not Christianized. Most of Gaul, Holland, and the Rhineland was under the fairly vigorous, Christianized, and much more civilized king-

  1. See Haverfield, The Romanization of Roman Britain.—E. B.