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THE supposed duty of relieving the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem from the yoke of the Muselmans influenced the western world during a considerable part of the middle ages. It had its origin in the universal feeling of regarding with veneration the scenes of great events; it was nourished and matured by the common disposition of setting the seal of absolute obligation upon every thing that is connected, in however remote a degree, with piety: it was quickened into action by indignation at insults and intolerance of error: and it was supported during its reign as a principle of conduct by Papal authority, political interests, habitual hope, a deep disdain of submission to the enemies of religion, and by the love of that honourable reputation, which in days of chivalry was bestowed upon militant Christians.
To what authors can an English reader refer for a historical narrative of the romantic superstition of his ancestors P Fuller is the only writer in our language who has made the Holy Wars the subject of separate discussion and distinct inquiry. His book is valuable and amusing on account of its wit and sentences, but possesses no claim to praise for amplitude, or accuracy of detail. The popular historians of England have bestowed only a few pages upon the topic: for as the transmarine expeditions of the people of Europe stood independent of the usual political relations between countries as the Latin kingdom and principalities in Syria and Palestine were colonies of all the states of the west, and not of any one in particular, a detail of the world’s debate does not naturally form a portion of the history of any single nation.
And yet the shores of Palestine may not be improperly regarded merely as the theatre of English chivalry. Many of our most vigorous and warlike princes sought martyrdom or glory in Asia. Richard Coeur de Lion is chiefly remarkable for his martial pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Robert Curthose (the eldest son of William the Conqueror), Richard, earl of Cornwall (the brother of king Henry III.), and the all-praised Edward (afterwards king Edward I.), were heroical votaries of the cross. Even after the Crusaders had been driven from Syria, and the cry of religious war was heard but at intervals in Europe, our brave and politic monarchs, Henry IV. and Henry V., wished to rekindle the flames of holy zeal. Some of the most noble youth of England followed “the mirror of their kings,” and were celebrated in the ranks of Christian knights. They rested their best hopes of never-dying honour on their ardour in
“That cause that should all wars begin and end.”
Their love of pilgrimages and crusades appears in their sepulchral monuments. On contemplating the cross-legged figures in the aisles of our venerable cathedrals, the days of chivalry rise before us in awful and