Billeder på siden

beginning with the decisive battle of Saxa Rubra, achieved by Constantine in 312, we shall have in the history of the war cross several wars and military expeditions to which the denomination of crusades properly belongs. We here submit a chronological list of the military expeditions which we classify as crusades in the general history of the world, and we give these as historical landmarks and dates; but many more may be added to the list, and the reader of these pages will please investigate this part of the subject himself:




FIRST CRUSADE.—By Constantine, in the battle of Saxa
Rubra .

312 SECOND CRUSADE. —By Heraclius, against Chosroes and

Mahomet. Battle of Muta . 629 or 630 THIRD CRUSADE.—By William of Normandy, in the Inva

sion and Conquest of England. Battle
of Hastings

1066 FOURTH CRUSADE.—By the European nations against the Ma

hometan Saracens and the Turks:-
The first expedition in

1096 The seventh and last in

1271 FIFTH CRUSADE.—By the emissaries of the Bishop of Rome

against the Albigenses, the peaceful
inhabitants of the valleys of Savoy.

The slaughter, between 1209 and 1217 SIXTH CRUSADE.-By Fernando and Isabella, against the

Arabian and Moorish Mahometans of

Spain. Expulsion of the Infidels 1492 SEVENTH CRUSADE.—By the military adventurers of Spain

and the emissaries of the Bishops of
Rome, in the invasion and devastation
of the West India Islands, of Mexico
and Peru, resulting from the discovery
of America by Columbus


[ocr errors]

From the foregoing arrangement of specific warlike enterprises it will appear that the special crusades against the Holy Land come the fourth in the order of crusades, and we hazard the conjecture that the signal success of the conquest of England, under the standard of the cross, was one of the exciting causes of the invasion of Palestine thirty years after the battle of Hastings.

In fixing the invasion and conquest of America and its islands by the Spaniards, as the latest great crusade in the history of the world, we feel a moral timidity lest we appear to throw upon Columbus any part of the weight of odium for the atrocities committed on the aborigines of those countries. He had no part in them. They were committed subsequent to the discovery by Columbus. He was, in his treatment, invariably kind and considerate to the natives. He displayed and planted the cross as the symbol of the conquest and possession of the countries, because it was the customary and established cereinony in such cases enjoined by the bishop of Rome and the sovereigns under him.


Opposite views taken of the actions and character of Constantine

in the display of the War Cross, and the results.-Second great War or Crusade in the third century after Constantine.—Heraclius with the War Cross against Chosroes and Mahomet in the seventh century. — The appearance of Mahomet. - An anachronism in the first appearance of the Crescent.—The Crescent universally recognised as the Symbol of Mahometanism, but it was not used by Mahomet.—The Horse-tail Standard of the Asiatic Equestrian Tribes.—The character of Mahomet.— The first collision between his followers and the Roman troops under the ensign of the Cross in A.D. 630.

The actions and character of Constantine have formed subjects of study for the historians of the military, ecclesiastical, and civil affairs of the eastern and western nations of Europe. Very opposite opinions have been pronounced on him as the founder of an empire and of a church, by the different political and religious parties. But here we have only to consider him in the character of a conqueror, who, by an intrepid and original genius, conceived and executed the plan of adopting as a military standard for his armies the sign of the Christian cross; and by its display, as the emblem of one great idea either of religion or imperial power, inspired enthusiasm into his followers, overawed his enemies, and gained the suffrages and the support of the bishops and clergy of the Christian religion.

Whether it was from a profound knowledge of

human nature, or from the unpremeditated resolution formed in circumstances of an unusual character, that he adopted his peculiar scheme of military and ecclesiastical polity, it is impossible to determine ; but it is quite certain that he established that form of politico-hierarchical power which, by the mixture of worldly splendour and wealth and spiritual influence, converted bishops into courtiers, and concentrated the three powers of the government, the church, and the army, into one formidable body. Priestly pride was increased by this union, and it gradually extended its pretensions and claimed its supremacy, until, in the middle of the fifth century, the extraordinary scene was first presented to the world of a bishop of the religion of Christ delivering the crown to the sovereign of the Roman empire.* But this remarkable ceremony, from which the clergy have deduced such formidable consequences, was not performed by the Bishop of Rome, but by the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Constantine was the first sovereign who introduced the symbols and the forms of the Christian religion into war.

“ The cross glittered on the helmets of his soldiers, was engraved on their shields, was interwoven into his banners ;" the tabernacle of the cross accompanied his armies, and bishops attended to perform service. His wars, from the battle of Saxa Rubra to the end of his military life, formed the First great CRUSADE, and the cross has never ceased to be a standard of battle.

We cannot gather from the pages of general history the description of banners used by the various tribes and nations who engaged in wars; and, still less, can we learn anything respecting the impressions made on

* Gibbon's Decline and Fall, chap. xxxvi.

men as objective beings. Results and effects are described by the historian, and their causes, either immediate or remote, are also described, and these causes or motives may be apparently sufficient to account for the effects produced. Two neighbouring sovereigns, we shall suppose, may quarrel about something and go to war, and it is the business of the historian to relate the transactions from the origin to the settlement of the dispute. But, besides the ostensible matters of dispute, and their documentary evidence, there is a large number of feelings, passions, and prejudices that lie out of sight in the minds, not only of the principal actors in the business, but also of the people on both sides, who are stirred up to take a part in the quarrel, and when once they are moved, the very sight of physical objects, symbolical of conquest and dominion, may change passive qualities into positive action and excitement. Constantine, the ablest and most successful military commander of his age, suddenly displayed a new standard and carried it into war as the symbol of his religion and the ensign of his imperial power ; and every people and nation against whom he marched would regard it as a standard of religious pretension and defiance, and of conquest and dominion.

After his death, when his celebrated standard was upheld by the feebler hands of his sons and successors, the natural consequences followed, and people chat submitted to the great warrior took up arms as soon as he was dead. Sapor, the famous Persian King, took the field against the encroachment of the Romans, and Constantius, the second son of the conqueror, had to defend the eastern part of the empire, which had been allotted to him by his father. Sapor was, in talent and military prowess, a rival worthy of Con

« ForrigeFortsæt »