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View of the State of Europe at the time of the Norman Invasion.



EFORE the period, of which we are going to CHAP. treat, England was little known or considered in Europe. Their situation, their domestick calami- a. D. ties, and their ignorance, circumscribed the views and politicks of the English within the bounds of their own island. But the Norman conqueror threw down all these barriers. The English laws, manners, and maxims, were suddenly changed; the scene was enlarged; and the communication with the rest of Europe being thus opened has been preserved ever since in a continued series of wars and negotiations. That we may therefore enter more fully into the matters, which lie before us,




BOOK it is necessary, that we understand the state of the III., neighbouring Continent at the time when this A. D. Island first came to be interested in its affairs.

The northern nations, who had over-ran the Roman empire, were at first rather actuated by avarice than ambition, and were more intent upon plunder than conquest; they were carried beyond their original purposes, when they began to form regular governments, for which they had been prepared by no just ideas of legislation. For a long time, therefore, there was little of order in their affairs, or foresight in their designs. The Goths, the Burgundians, the Franks, the Vandals, the Suevi, after they had prevailed over the Roman Empire, by turns prevailed over each other in continual wars, which were carried on upon no principles of a determinate policy, entered into upon motives of brutality and caprice, and ended as fortune and rude violence chanced to prevail. Tumult, anarchy, confusion, overspread the face of Europe; and an obscurity rests upon the transactions of that time, which suffers us to discover nothing but its extreme barbarity.

Before this cloud could be dispersed, the Saracens, another body of barbarians from the South, animated by a fury not unlike that, which gave strength to the northern irruptions, but heightened by enthusiasm, and regulated by subordination and uniform policy, began to carry their arms, their



manners, and religion, into every part of the uni- CHAP. verse. Spain was entirely overwhelmed by the. torrent of their armies; Italy, and the Islands, A. D. were harassed by their fleets, and all Europe alarmed by their vigorous and frequent enterprises. Italy, who had so long sat the mistress of the world, was by turns the slave of all nations. The possession of that fine country was hotly disputed between the Greek Emperour and the Lombards, and it suffered infinitely by that contention. Germany, the parent of so many nations, was exhausted by the swarms she had sent abroad.

7. However, in the midst of this chaos there were principles at work, which reduced things to a certain form, and gradually unfolded a system, in which the chief movers and main springs were the Papal and the Imperial powers; the aggrandizement or diminution of which have been the drift of almost all the politicks, intrigues, and wars, which have employed and distracted Europe to this day.

From Rome the whole western world had received its Christianity. She was the asylum of what learning had escaped the general desolation; and even in her ruins she preserved something of the majesty of her ancient greatness. On these accounts she had a respect and a weight, which increased every day amongst a simple religious people, who looked but a little way into the consequences

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BOOK Consequences of their actions. The rudeness of the III. world was very favourable for the establishment A. D. of an empire of opinion. The moderation, with

which the Popes at first exerted this empire, made its growth unfelt until it could no longer be opposed. And the policy of later Popes, building on the piety of the first, continually increased it; and they made use of every instrument but that of force. They employed equally the virtues and the crimes of the great; they favoured the lust of kings for absolute authority, and the desire of subjects for liberty; they provoked war, and mediated peace; and took advantage of every turn in the minds of men, whether of a publick or private nature, to extend their influence, and push their power from ecclesiastical to civil; from subjection to independency; from independency to empire.

France had many advantages over the other parts of Europe. The Saracens had no permanent success in that country. The same hand, which expelled those invaders, deposed the last of a race of heavy and degenerate princes, more like Eastern monarchs than German leaders, and who had neither the force to repel the enemies of their kingdom, nor to assert their own sovereignty. This usurpation placed on the throne princes of another character; princes, who were obliged to supply their want of title by the vigour of their administration. The French monarch had need of some great and respected

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