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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 3294 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2009, 11:26:13 pm »

From the Same.
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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2009, 11:26:35 pm »

The history of the Shah-nameh (King-book), in which these legends are contained, is one of the most curious in literature. The fanaticism of the Arabs, who conquered Persia, raged with indiscriminate fury against the literature, as well as the religion, of that country; and when, in the time of Al-Mansoor and

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his successors Haroon-er-Rasheed and Al-Mamoon, the Arabs themselves began to devote their attention to literature and science, it was the science of Greece and the poetry of their native language that they cultivated. The Persian literature meantime languished in obscurity, and the traditional, heroic, and legendary tales of the nation were fading fast from memory, when a governor of a province, zealous, as it would appear, for the honour of the Persian nation, made a collection of them, and formed from them a continuous narrative in prose. The book thus formed was called the Bostan-nameh (Garden-book). It was in great repute in the northern part of Persia, where, at a distance from the court of the khalifs, the Persian manners, language, and nationality were better preserved; and when the Turkish family of the Samenee founded an empire in that part of Persia, sultan Mansoor I., of that race, gave orders to a poet named Dakeekee to turn the Bastan-nameh into Persian verse. The poet undertook the task, but he had not made more than a thousand verses when he perished by assassination. There being no one supposed capable of continuing his work, it was suspended till twenty years afterwards, when the celebrated Mahmood of Ghizni, the conqueror of India, meeting with the Bastan-nameh, gave portions of it to three of the most renowned poets of the time to versify. The palm of excellence was adjudged to Anseri, who versified the tale of Sohrab slain by his own father Roostem, one of the most pathetic and affecting narratives in any language. The sultan made him Prince of the Poets, and directed him to versify the entire work; but, diffident of his powers, Anseri shrank from the task, and having some time afterwards met a poet of Toos in Khorasan, named Isaac, the son of Sheriff-Shah, surnamed Ferdoosee

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[paragraph continues] (Paradisal *), either from his father's employment as a gardener, or from the beauty of his verses, he introduced him to the sultan, who gladly committed the task to him. Ferdoosee laboured with enthusiasm in the celebration of the ancient glories of his country; and in the space of thirty or, as some assert, of only eight years, he brought the poem to within two thousand lines of its termination, which lines were added by another poet after his death.

The Shah-nameh is, beyond comparison, the finest poem of the Mohammedan east. It consists of 60,000 rhymed couplets, and embraces the history of Persia, from the beginning of the world to the period of its conquest by the Arabs. The verses move on with spirit and rapidity, resembling more the flow of our lyrical, than that of our common heroic, lines †.

Ferdoosee wrote his poem in the early part of the eleventh century from a book which had been in existence a long time before, for he always calls it an old book. No proof therefore is needed that he did not invent the tales which compose the Shah-nameh, and they have every appearance of having been the ancient traditionary legends of the Persian nation. But we are able to show that these legends were popular in Persia nearly six centuries before his time; and it was chiefly with a view to establishing this

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curious point that we related the tale of Zohak and Feridoon.

Moses of Choren, the Armenian historian, who wrote about the year 440, thus addresses the person to whom his work is dedicated. "How should the vain and empty fables about Byrasp Astyages gain any portion of thy favour, or why shouldest thou impose on us the fatigue of elucidating the absurd, tasteless, senseless legends of the Persians about him? to wit, of his first injurious benefit of the demoniac powers which were subject to him, and how he could not deceive him who was deception aryl falsehood itself. Then, of the kiss on the shoulders, whence the dragons came, and how thenceforward the growth of vice destroyed mankind by the pampering of the belly, until at last a certain Rhodones bound him with chains of brass, and brought him to the mountain which is called Demavend; how Byraspes then dragged to a hill Rhodones, when he fell asleep on the way, but this last, awaking out of his sleep, brought him to a cavern of the mountain, where he chained him fast, and set an image opposite to him, so that, terrified by it, and held by the chains, he might never more escape to destroy the world."

Here we have evidently the whole story of Zohak and Feridoon current in Persia in the fifth century; and any one who has reflected on the nature of tradition must be well aware that it must have existed there for centuries before. The very names are nearly the same. Taking the first syllable from Feridoon, it becomes nearly Rodon, and Biyraspi Aidahaki (the words of the Armenian text) signify the dragon Byrasp: Zohak is evidently nearly the same with the last word. This fable could hardly have been invented in the time of the Sassanian dynasty, who had not then been more than two centuries on the throne, much less during the period of

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the dominion of the Parthian Arsacides, who were adverse to everything Persian. We are therefore carried back to the times of the Kejanians, the Achæmenides of the Greeks; and it is by no means impossible that the tale of Zohak and Feridoon was known even to the host which Xerxes led to the subjugation of Greece.

It is well known to those versed in oriental history that, when the founder of the house of Sassan mounted the throne of Persia in the year 226, he determined to bring back everything, as far as was possible, to its state in the time of the Kejanians, from whom he affected to be descended, and that his successors trod in his footsteps. But, as Persia had been for five centuries and a half under the dominion of the Greeks and Parthians, there was probably no authentic record of the ancient state of things remaining. Recourse was therefore had to the traditional tales of the country; and, as the legend of Zohak and Feridoon was, as we have seen, one of the most remarkable of these tales, it was at once adopted as a genuine portion of the national history, and a banner formed to represent the Apron of Gavah, which was, as the poet describes it, adorned with additional jewels by each monarch of the house of Sassan at his accession. This hypothesis will very simply explain the circumstance of this banner being unnoticed by the Greek writers, while it is an undoubted fact that it was captured by the Arabs at the battle of Kadiseäh, which broke the power of Persia,--a circumstance which has perplexed Sir John Malcolm.

We will finally observe that the historian just alluded to, as well as some others, thinks that the darkness cast by the magic art of the White Deev over Ky Kaoos and his army in Mazanderan coincides with the eclipse of the sun predicted by Thales,

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #47 on: January 04, 2009, 11:26:57 pm »

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and which, according to Herodotus, parted the armies of the Medians and the Lydians when engaged in conflict. Little stress is however, we apprehend, to be laid on such coincidences. Tradition does not usually retain the memory of facts of this nature, though fiction is apt enough to invent them. The only circumstances which we have observed in the early part of the Shah-nameh agreeing with Grecian history, are some relating to the youthful days of Kei Khoosroo, which are very like what Herodotus relates of Cyrus.

We now return to the history of the Assassins


133:* "Sebil, in Arabic 'the way,' means generally the road, and the traveller is hence called Ibn-es-sebil, the son of the road; but it more particularly signifies the way of piety and good works, which leads to Paradise. Whatever meritorious work the Moslem undertakes, he does Fi sebil Allah, on the way of God, or for the love of God; and the most meritorious which he can undertake is the holy war, or the fight for his faith and his country, on God's way. But since pious women can have no immediate share in the contest, every thing which they can contribute to the nursing of the wounded, and the refreshment of the exhausted, is imputed to them as equally meritorious as if they had fought themselves. The distribution of water to the exhausted and wounded warriors is the highest female merit in the holy war on God's way."--Hammer's History of the Assassins, Wood's translation, p. 144.

135:* This part of Persia also acquires interest from the circumstance of Russia being believed to be looking forward to obtaining it, one day or other, by conquest or cession.

135:† Azed-ud-dowlah, one of the most celebrated of these princes, had a dyke constructed across the river Kur, in the plain of Murdasht, near the ruins of Persepolis, to confine the water, and permit of its being distributed over the country. It was called the Bund-Ameer (Prince's Dyke), and travellers ignorant of the Persian language have given this name to the river itself. We must not, therefore, be surprised to find in "Lalla Rookh" a lady singing,

"There's a bower of roses by Bendameer's stream;"

and asking,

Do the roses still bloom by the calm Bendameer?"

[paragraph continues] Calm and still, beyond doubt, is the Bendameer.

140:* Four lines, quoted by Sir J. Malcolm from the Gulistan of Saadi, may be thus literally rendered in the measure of the original:--

The blest Feridoon an angel was not;
Of musk or of amber he formed was not;
By justice and mercy good ends gained he;
Be just and merciful, thou ’lt a Feridoon be.

144:* Paradise, we are to recollect, is a word of Persian origin, adopted by the Greeks, from whom we have received it. A Paradise was a place planted with trees, a park, garden, or pleasure-ground, as we may term it.

144:† Hammer has, in his "Belles Lettres of Persia" (Schöne Redekunst Persians), and in the "Mines de l’Orient," translated a considerable portion of the Shah-nameh in the measure of the original. MM. Campion and Atkinson have rendered a part of it into English heroic verse. Görres has epitomised it, as far as to the death of Roostem, in German prose, under the title of "Das Heldenbnch von Iran." An epitome of the poem in English prose, by Mr. Atkinson, has also lately appeared.


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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2009, 11:27:53 pm »

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Death of Jellal-ed-deen--Character of Ala-ed-deen, his successor--The Sheikh Jemal-ed-deen--The Astronomer Na-sir- ed-deen--The Vizir Sheref-al-Moolk--Death of Ala-ed-deen--Succession of Rukn-ed-deen, the last Sheikh-al-Jebal.

THE reign of Jellal-ed-deen, which, unfortunately for the society, lasted but twelve years, was unstained by blood; and we see no reason to doubt the judgment of the oriental historians, who consider his faith in Islam as being sincere and pure. It was probably his virtue that caused his death, for his life, it was suspected, was terminated by poison administered by his own kindred. His son Ala-ed-deen * (Eminence of Religion), who succeeded him, was but nine years old; but as, according to the maxims of the Ismaïlites, the visible representative of the imam was, to a certain extent, exempted from the ordinary imperfections of humanity, and his commands were to be regarded as those of him whose authority he bore, the young Ala-ed-deen was obeyed as implicitly as any of his predecessors. At his mandate the blood was shed of all among his relatives who were suspected of having participated in the murder of his father.

Ala-ed-deen proved to be a weak, inefficient ruler. His delight was in the breeding and tending of sheep, and he spent his days in the cotes among the herdsmen, while the affairs of the society were allowed to run into disorder. All the restraints imposed by his father were removed, and every one was left to do

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what was right in his own eyes. The weakness of this prince's intellect is ascribed to his having, in the fifth year of his reign, had himself most copiously bled without the knowledge of his physician, the consequence of which was an extreme degree of debility and a deep melancholy, which never afterwards left him. From that time no one could venture to offer him advice respecting either his health or the state of the affairs of the society, without being rewarded for it by the rack or by instant death. Everything was therefore kept concealed from him, and he had neither friend nor adviser.

Yet Ala-ed-deen was not without some estimable qualities. He had a respect and esteem for learning and learned men. For the sheikh Jemal-ed-deen Ghili, who dwelt at Casveen, he testified on all occasions the utmost reverence, and sent him annually 500 dinars to defray the expenses of his household. When the people of Casveen reproached the learned sheikh with living on the bounty of the Impious, he made answer, "The imams pronounce it lawful to execute the Ismaïlites, and to confiscate their goods; how much more lawful is it for a man to make use of their property and their money when they give them voluntarily!" Ala-ed-deen, who probably heard of the reproaches directed against his friend, sent to assure the people of Casveen that it was solely on account of the sheikh that he spared them, or else he would put the earth of Casveen into bags, hang the bags about the necks of the inhabitants, and bring them to Alamoot. The following instance of his respect for the sheikh is also related. A messenger coming with a letter to him from the sheikh was so imprudent as to deliver it to him when he was drunk. Ala-ed-deen ordered him to have a hundred blows of the bastinade, at the same time crying out to him, "O foolish and thoughtless man, to give me

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a letter from the sheikh at the time when I was drunk! Thou shouldest have waited till I was come out of the bath, and was come to my senses."

The celebrated astronomer Nasir-ed-deen (Victory of Religion) had also gained the consideration of Ala-ed-deen, who was anxious to enjoy the pleasure of his society. But the philosopher, who resided at Bokhara, testified little inclination to accept of the favour intended him. Ala-ed-deen therefore sent orders to the Dai-al-Kebir of Kuhistan to convey the uncourteous sage to Alamoot. As Nasir-ed-deen was one day recreating himself in the gardens about Bokhara, he found himself suddenly surrounded by some men, who, showing him a horse, directed him to mount, telling him he had nothing to fear if he conducted himself quietly. It was in vain that he argued and remonstrated; he was far on the road to Kuhistan, which was 600 miles distant, before his friends knew he was gone. The governor made every apology for what he had been obliged to do. The philosopher was sent on to Alamoot to be the companion of Ala-ed-deen, and it was while he was there that he wrote his great work called the Morals of Nasir (Akhlaak-Nasiree). *

It was during the administration of Ala-ed-deen that the following event, so strongly illustrative of the modes of procedure of the Assassins, took place. The sultan Jellal-ed-deen, the last ruler of Khaurism, so well known for his heroic resistance to Chingis

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2009, 11:28:53 pm »

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[paragraph continues] Khan, had appointed the emir Arkhan governor of Nishaboor, which bordered closely on the Ismaïlite territory of Kuhistan. Arkhan being obliged to attend the sultan, the deputy whom he left in his stead made several destructive incursions into Kuhistan, and laid waste the Ismaïlite districts of Teem and Kaïn. The Ismaïlites sent to demand satisfaction, but the only reply made to their complaints and menaces by the deputy-governor was one of those symbolical proceedings so common in the east. He came to receive the Ismaïlite envoy with his girdle stuck full of daggers, which he flung on the ground before him, to signify either his disregard for the daggers of the society, or to intimate that he could play at that game as well as they. The Ismaïlites were not, however, persons to be provoked with impunity, and shortly afterwards three Fedavees were despatched to Kunja, where Arkhan was residing at the court of the sultan. They watched till the emir came without the walls of the town, and then fell upon and murdered him. They then hastened to the house of Sheref-al-Moolk (Nobleness of the Realm), the vizir, and penetrated into his divan. Fortunately he was at that time engaged with the sultan, and they missed him; but they wounded severely one of his servants, and then, sallying forth, paraded the streets, proclaiming aloud that they were Assassins. They did not however escape the penalty of their temerity, for the people assembled and stoned them to death.

An envoy of the Ismaïlites, named Bedr-ed-deen (Full Moon of Religion) Ahmed, was meantime on his way to the court of the sultan. He stopped short on hearing what had occurred, and sent to the vizir to know whether he should go on or return. Sheref-al-Moolk, who feared to irritate the Assassins, directed him to continue his journey, and, when he was

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arrived, showed him every mark of honour. The object of Bedr-ed-deen's mission was to obtain satisfaction for the ravages committed on the Ismaïlite territory and the cession of the fortress of Damaghan. The vizir promised the former demand without a moment's hesitation, and he made as little difficulty with regard to the second. An instrument was drawn out assigning to the Ismaïlites the fortress which they craved, on condition of their remitting annually to the royal treasury the sum of 30,000 pieces of gold.

When this affair was arranged the sultan set out for Azerbeijan, and the Ismaïlite ambassador remained the guest of the vizir. One day, after a splendid banquet, when the wine, which they had been drinking in violation of the law, had mounted into their heads, the ambassador told the vizir, by way of confidence, that there were several Ismaïlites among the pages, grooms, guards, and other persons who were immediately about the sultan. The vizir, dismayed, and at the same time curious to know who these dangerous attendants were, besought the ambassador to point them out to him, giving him his napkin as a pledge that nothing evil should happen to them. Instantly, at a sign from the envoy, five of the persons who were attendants of the chamber stepped forth, avowing themselves to be concealed Assassins. "On such a day, and at such an hour," said one of them, an Indian, to the vizir, "I might have slain thee without being seen or punished; and, if I did not do so, it was only because I had no orders from my superiors." The vizir, timid by nature, and rendered still more so by the effects of the wine, stripped himself to his shirt, and, sitting down before the five Assassins, conjured them by their lives to spare him, protesting that he was as devotedly the slave of the sheikh Ala-ed-deen as of the sultan Jellal-ed-deen.

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As soon as the sultan heard of the meanness and cowardice of his vizir, he sent a messenger to him with the keenest reproaches, and an order to burn alive the five Ismaïlites without an instant's delay. The vizir, though loth, was obliged to comply, and, in violation of his promise, the five chamberlains were cast on the flaming pyre, where they died exulting at being found worthy to suffer in the service of the great Sheikh-al-Jebal. The master of the pages was also put to death for having admitted Ismaïlites among them. The sultan then set out for Irak, leaving the vizir in Azerbeijan. While he was there an envoy arrived from Alamoot, who, on being admitted to an audience, thus spake, "Thou hast given five Ismaïlites to the flames; to redeem thy head, pay 10,000 pieces of gold for each of these unfortunate men." The vizir heaped honours on the envoy, and directed his secretary to draw out a deed in the usual forms, by which he bound himself to pay the Ismaïlites the 'annual sum of 10,000 pieces of gold, besides paying for them the 30,000 which went to the treasury of the sultan. Sheref-al-Moolk was then assured that he had nothing to apprehend.

The preceding very characteristic anecdote rests on good authority, for it is related by Aboo-’l-Fetah Nissavee, the vizir's secretary, in his life of sultan Jellal-ed-deen.

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Trena Alloway
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« Reply #50 on: January 04, 2009, 11:29:13 pm »

The astronomer Nasir-ed-deen was not the only involuntary captive of Alamoot. Ala-ed-deen sent once to Farsistan to the atabeg Mozaffer-ed-deen, to request that he would send him an able physician. Requests from Alamoot were not lightly to be disregarded, and the atabeg despatched the imam Beha-ed-deen, one of the most renowned physicians of the time, to the mountains of Jebal. The skill of the imam proved of great benefit to the prince, but when the physician applied for leave to return to his family

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he found that he was destined to pass the remainder of his days in Alamoot, unless he should outlive his patient.

The imam's release, however, was more speedy than he expected. Ala-ed-deen, who had several children, had nominated the eldest of them, Rukn-ed-deen (Support of Religion), while he was yet a child, to be his successor. As Rukn-ed-deen grew up the people began to hold him in equal respect with his father, and to consider his commands as equally binding on them. Ala-ed-deen took offence, and declared that he would give the succession to another of his children; but, as this directly contravened one of the Ismaïlite maxims, namely, that the first nomination was always the true one, it was little heeded. Rukn-ed-deen, in apprehension for his life, which his father threatened, retired to a strong castle to wait there the time when he should be called to the succession. Meantime the tyranny and caprice of Ala-ed-deen had given many of the principal persons about him cause to be apprehensive for their lives, and they resolved to anticipate him. There was a man at Alamoot named Hassan, a native of Mazenderan, who, though no Ismaïlite, was of a vile and profligate character. He was the object of the doating attachment of Ala-ed-deen, and consequently had free and constant access to him. Him they fixed upon as their agent, and they found no difficulty in gaining him, Ala-ed-deen, whose fondness for breeding and tending sheep had never diminished, had built for himself a wooden house close by his sheepcotes, whither he was wont to retire, and where he indulged himself in all the excesses in which he delighted. Hassan of Mazenderan seized the moment when Ala-ed-deen was lying drunk in this house, and shot him through the neck with an arrow. Rukn-ed-deen, who is said to have been engaged in

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the conspiracy, assuming the part of the avenger of blood, the murderer and all his family were put to death, and their bodies committed to the flames; but this act of seeming justice did not free Rukn-ed-deen from suspicion, and the bitter reproaches of his mother were poured forth on him as a parricide.

The termination of the power of the Ismaïlites was now at hand. Rukn-ed-deen had hardly ascended the throne of his murdered father when he learned that an enemy was approaching against whom all attempts at resistance would be vain.


148:* This is the name which, in the form of Aladdin, is so familiar to us from the story of the Wonderful Lamp.

150:* Malcolm's History of Persia, vol. i. In the clever work called "Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry," which is the best picture ever given of the language, manners, and modes of thinking of that class, there is an amusing account (and an undoubtedly true one) of the "Abduction of Mat Kavanagh," one of that curious order of men called in that country hedge-schoolmasters, which, as indicative of a passion for knowledge, may be placed in comparison with this anecdote of Ala-ed-deen.

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« Reply #51 on: January 04, 2009, 11:31:35 pm »

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The Mongols--Hoolagoo sent against the Ismaïlites--Rukn-ed-deen submits--Capture of Alamoot--Destruction of the Library--Fate of Rukn-ed-deen--Massacre of the Ismaïlites--St. Louis and the Assassins--Mission for the Conversion of the People of Kuhistan--Conclusion.

HALF a century had now elapsed since the voice of the Mongol seer on the banks of the Sélinga had announced to the tribes of that race that he had seen in a vision the Great God sitting on his throne and giving sentence that Temujeen, one of their chiefs, should be Chingis Khan (Great Khan), and the obedient tribes had, under the leading of Temujeen, commenced that career of conquest which extended from the eastern extremity of Asia to the confines of Egypt and of Germany. At this time the chief power over the Mongols was in the hands of Mangoo, the grandson of Chingis, a prince advantageously made known to Europe by the long abode of the celebrated Venetian Marco Polo at his court. The Mongols had not yet invaded Persia, though they had, under Chingis himself, overthrown and stripped of his dominions the powerful sultan of Khaurism. It was however evident that that country could not long escape the fate of so many extensive and powerful states, and that a pretext would soon be found for pouring over it the hordes of the Mongols.

We are told, though it seems scarcely credible, that ambassadors came from the Khalif of Bagdad to Nevian, the Mongol general who commanded on the northern frontier of Persia, requiring safe conduct

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to the court of Mangoo. The object of their mission was to implore the great khan to send his invincible troops to destroy those pests of society the bands of the Ismaïlites. The prayer of the envoys of the successor of the Prophet was supported by the Judge of Casveen, who happened to be at that time at the court of Mangoo, where he appeared in a coat of mail, to secure himself, as he professed, from the daggers of the Assassins. The khan gave orders to assemble an army; his brother Hoolagoo was appointed to command it, and, as he was setting forth, Mangoo thus addressed him:--

"With heavy cavalry and a mighty host I send thee from Tooran to Iran, the land of mighty princes. It behoves thee now strictly to observe, both in great and in small things, the laws and regulations of Chinghis Khan, and to take possession of the countries from the Oxus to the Nile. Draw closer unto thee by favour and rewards the obedient and the submissive; tread the refractory and the rebellious, with their wives and children, into the dust of contempt and misery. When thou hast done with the Assassins begin the conquest of Irak. If the Khalif of Bagdad comes forward ready to serve thee, thou shalt do him no injury; if he refuses, let him share the fate of the rest."

The army of Hoolagoo was reinforced by a thousand families of Chinese firemen to manage the battering machines and fling the flaming naphtha, known in Europe under the name of Greek fire. He set forward in the month Ramazan of the 651st year of the Hejra (A. D. 1253). His march was so slow that he did not cross the Oxus till two years afterwards. On the farther bank of this river he took the diversion of lion-hunting, but the cold came on so intense that the greater part of his horses perished, and he was obliged to wait for the ensuing

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spring before he could advance. All the princes of the menaced countries sent embassies to the Mongol camp announcing their submission and obedience. The head-quarters of Hoolagoo were now in Khorassan, whence he sent envoys to Rukn-ed-deen, the Ismaïlite chief, requiring his submission. By the advice of the astronomer Nasir-ed-deen, who was his counsellor and minister, Rukn-ed-deen sent to Baissoor Noobeen, one of Hoolagoo's generals, who had advanced to Hamadan, declaring his obedience and his wish to live in peace with every one. The Mongol general recommended that, as Hoolagoo himself was approaching, Rukn-ed-deen should wait on him in person. After some delay, the latter agreed to send his brother Shahinshah, who accompanied the son of Baissoor to the quarters of the Mongol prince. Meantime Baissoor, by the orders of Hoolagoo, entered the Ismaïlite territory and drew near to Alamoot. The troops of the Assassins occupied a steep hill near that place. The Mongols attacked them, but were repelled each time they attempted the ascent. Being forced to give over the attack, they contented themselves with burning the houses and ravaging the country round.

When Shahinshah reached the camp of Hoolagoo and notified the submission of his brother, orders to the following effect were transmitted to the mountain-chief:--"Since Rukn-ed-deen has sent his brother unto us, we forgive him the offences of his father and his followers. He shall himself, as, during his short reign, he has been guilty of no crime, demolish his castles and come to us." Orders were sent at the same time to Baissoor to give over ravaging the district of Roodbar. Rukn-ed-deen began casting down some of the battlements of Alamoot, and at the same time sent to beg the delay of a year before appearing in the presence of Hoolagoo. But the

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« Reply #52 on: January 04, 2009, 11:31:58 pm »

orders of the Mongol were imperative; he was required to appear at once, and to commit the defence of his territory to the Mongol officer who was the bearer of Hoolagoo's commands. Rukn-ed-deen hesitated. He sent again to make excuses and ask more time; and, as a proof of his obedience, he directed the governors of Kuhistan and Kirdkoh to repair to the Mongol camp. The banners of Hoolagoo were now floating at the foot of Demavend, close to the Ismaïlite territory, and once more orders came to Maimoondees, where Rukn-ed-deen and his family had taken refuge:--"The Ruler of the World is now arrived at Demavend, and it is no longer time to delay. If Rukn-ed-deen wishes to wait a few days he may in the mean time send his son." The affrighted chief declared his readiness to send his son, but, at the persuasion of his women and advisers, instead of his own, he sent the son of a slave, who was of the same age, requesting that his brother might be restored to him. Hoolagoo was soon informed of the imposition, but disdained to notice it otherwise than by sending back the child, saying he was too young, and requiring that his elder brother, if he had one, should be sent in place of Shahinshah. He at the same time dismissed Shahinshah with these words:--"Tell thy brother to demolish Maimoondees and come to me; if he does not come, the eternal God knows the consequences."

The Mongol troops now covered all the hills and valleys, and Hoolagoo in person appeared before Maimoondees. The Assassins fought bravely, but Rukn-ed-deen had not spirit to hold out. He sent his other brother, his son, his vizir Nasir-ed-deen, and the principal persons of the society, bearing rich presents to the Mongol prince. Nasir-ed-deen was directed to magnify the strength of the Ismaïlite fortresses in order to gain good terms for his master;

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but, instead of so doing, he told Hoolagoo not to regard them, assuring him that the conjunction of the stars announced the downfal of the Ismaïlites, and that the sun of their power was hastening to its setting. It was agreed that the castle should be surrendered on condition of free egress. Rukn-ed-deen, his ministers, and his friends, entered the Mongol camp on the first day of the month Zoo-l-Kaadeh. His wealth was divided among the Mongol troops. Hoolagoo took compassion on himself, and spoke kindly to him, and treated him as his guest. Nasir-ed-deen became the vizir of the conqueror, who after-. wards built for him the observatory of Meragha.

Mongol officers were now dispatched to all the castles of the Ismaïlites in Kuhistan, Roodbar, and even in Syria, with orders from Rukn-ed-deen to the governors to surrender or demolish them. The number of these strong castles was upwards of one hundred, of which there were forty demolished in Roodbar alone. Three of the strongest castles in this province, namely, Alamoot, Lamseer, and Kirdkoh, hesitated to submit, their governors replying to the summons that they would wait till Hoolagoo should appear in person before them. In a few days the Mongol prince and his captive were at the foot of Alamoot. Rukn-ed-deen was led under the walls, and he ordered the governor to surrender. His command was disregarded, and Hoolagoo, not to waste time, removed his camp to Lamseer, leaving a corps to blockade Alamoot. The people of Lamseer came forth immediately with their homage, and a few days afterwards envoys arrived from Alamoot entreating Rukn-ed-deen to intercede for the inhabitants with the brother of Mangoo. The conqueror was moderate; he allowed them free egress, and gave them three days to collect and remove their families and property. On the third day the Mongol

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troops received permission to enter and plunder the fortress. They rushed, eager for prey, into the hitherto invincible, now deserted, Vulture's Nest, and rifled it of all that remained in it. As they hurried through its subterrane recesses in search of treasure they frequently, to their amazement, found themselves immersed in honey, or swimming in wine; for there were large receptacles of wine, honey, and corn, hewn into the solid rock, the nature of which was such that, though, as we are told, they had been filled in the time of Hassan Sabah, the corn was perfectly sound, and the wine had not soured. This extraordinary circumstance was regarded by the Ismaïlites as a miracle wrought by that founder of their society.

When Alamoot fell into the hands of the Mongols Ata-Melek (King's father) Jowainee, a celebrated vizir and historian, craved permission of Hoolagoo to inspect the celebrated library of that place, which had been founded by Hassan Sabah and increased by his successors, and to select from it such works as might be worthy of a place in that of the khan. The permission was readily granted, and he commenced his survey of the books. But Ata-Melek was too orthodox a Mussulman, or too lazy an examiner, to make the best use of his opportunity; for all he did was to take the short method of selecting the Koran and a few other books which he deemed of value out of the collection, and to commit the remainder, with all the philosophical instruments, to the flames, as being impious and heretical. All the archives of the society were thus destroyed, and our only source of information respecting its doctrines, regulations, and history, is derived from what Ata-Melek has related in his Own history as the result of his search among the archives and books of the library of Alamoot, previous to his making an auto da fé of them.

The fate of the last of a dynasty, however worthless

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and insignificant his character may be, is always interesting from the circumstance alone of his being the last, and thus, as it were, embodying in himself the history of his predecessors. We shall therefore pause to relate the remainder of the story of the feeble Rukn-ed-deen.

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« Reply #53 on: January 04, 2009, 11:32:25 pm »

When Hoolagoo, after the conclusion of his campaign against Roodbar, retired to Hamadan, where he had left his children, he took with him Rukn-ed-deen, whom he continued to treat with kindness. Here the Assassin prince became enamoured of a Mongol maiden of the very lowest class. He asked permission of Hoolagoo to espouse her, and, by the directions of that prince, the wedding was celebrated with great solemnity. He next craved to be sent to the court of Mangoo Khan. Hoolagoo, though surprised at this request, acceded to it also, and gave him a corps of Mongols as an escort. He at the same time directed him to order on his way the garrison of Kirdkoh, who still held out, to surrender, and demolish the fortress. Rukn-ed-deen, as he passed by Kirdkoh, did as directed, but sent at the same time a private message to the governor to hold out as long as possible. Arrived at Kara-Kooroom, the residence of the khan, he was not admitted to an audience, but the following message was delivered to him:--"Thus saith Mangoo: Since thou affectest to be obedient to us, wherefore has not the castle of Kirdkoh been delivered up? Go back, and demolish all the castles which remain; then mayest thou be partaker of the honour of viewing our imperial countenance." Rukn-ed-deen was obliged to return, and, soon after he had crossed the Oxus, his escort, making him dismount under pretext of an entertainment, ran him through with their swords.

Mangoo Khan was determined to exterminate the whole race of the Ismaïlites, and orders to that effect

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had already reached Hoolagoo, who was only waiting to execute them till Kirdkoh should have surrendered. As the garrison of that place continued obstinate, he no longer ventured to delay. Orders for indiscriminate massacre were issued, and 12,000 Ismaïlites soon fell as victims. The process was short; wherever a member of the society was met he was, without any trial, ordered to kneel down, and his head instantly rolled on the ground. Hoolagoo sent one of his vizirs to Casveen, where the family of Rukn-ed-deen were residing, and the whole of them were put to death, except two (females it is said), who were reserved to glut the vengeance of the princess Boolghan Khaloon, whose father Jagatai had perished by the daggers of the Assassins

The siege of Kirdkoh was committed by Hoolagoo (who was now on his march to Bagdad to put an end to the empire of the khalifs) to the princes of Mazenderân and Ruyan. The castle held out for three years, and the siege was rendered remarkable by the following curious occurrence:--It was in the beginning of the spring when a poet named Koorbee of Ruyan came to the camp. He began to sing, in the dialect of Taberistan, a celebrated popular song of the spring, beginning with these lines:--

When the sun from the fish to the ram doth return,
Spring's banner waves high on the breeze of the morn. *

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[paragraph continues] The song awoke in the minds of princes and soldiers the recollection of the vernal delights they had left behind them; an invincible longing after them seized the whole army; and, without reflecting on the consequences, they broke up the siege, and set forth to enjoy the season of flowers in the fragrant gardens of Mazenderân. Hoolagoo was greatly incensed when he heard of their conduct, and sent a body of troops against them, but forgave them on their making due apologies and submissions.

The Ismaïlite power in Persia was now completely at an end; the khalifat, whose destruction had been its great object, was also involved in its ruin, and the power of the Mongols established over the whole of Irân. The Mongol troops failed in their attempts on the Ismaïlite castles in Syria; but, at the end of fourteen years, what they could not effect was achieved by the great Beibars, the Circassian Mamlook sultan of Egypt, who reduced all the strongholds of the Assassins in the Syrian mountains, and extinguished their power in that region.

The last intercourse of the Assassins with the western Christians which we read of was that with St. Louis. William of Nangis relates--but the tale is evidently apocryphal--that in the year 1250 two of the Arsacidæ were sent to France to murder that prince, who was then only twenty-two years of age. The Senex de Monte however repented, and sent others to warn the French monarch. These arriving in time, the former were discovered, on which the

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king loaded them all with presents, and dismissed them with rich gifts for their master.

Rejecting this idle legend, we may safely credit the account of Joinville, that in 1250, when St. Louis was residing at Acre, after his captivity in Egypt, he was waited on by an embassy from the Old Man of the Mountain, the object of which was to procure, through his means, a remission of the tribute which he paid to the Templars and the Hospitaliers. As if to obviate the answer which might naturally be made, the ambassador said that his master considered that it would be quite useless to sacrifice the lives of his people by murdering the masters of these orders, as men as good as they would be immediately appointed to succeed them. It being then morning, the king desired them to return in the evening. When they appeared again, he had with him the masters of the Temple and the Hospital, who, on the propositions being repeated, declared them to be most extravagant, and assured the ambassadors that, were it not for the sacredness of their character, and their regard for the word of the king, they would fling them into the sea. They were directed to go back, and to bring within fifteen days a satisfactory letter to the king. They departed, and, returning at the appointed time, said to the king that their chief, as the highest mark of friendship, had sent him his own shirt and his gold ring. 'They also brought him draught and chess-boards, adorned with amber, an elephant and a giraffe (orafle) of crystal. The king, not to be outdone in generosity, sent an embassy to Massyat with presents of scarlet robes, gold cups, and silver vases, for the Ismaïlite chief.

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« Reply #54 on: January 04, 2009, 11:33:13 pm »

Speculative tenets will continue and be propagated long after the sect or society which holds them may have lost all temporal influence and consideration. Accordingly, seventy years after the destruction of

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[paragraph continues] Alamoot, in the reign of Aboo-Zeid, the eighth successor of Hoolagoo, it was found that nearly all the people of Kuhistan were devoted to the Ismaïlite opinions. The monarch, who was an orthodox Soonnee, advised with the governor of the province, and it was resolved to send a mission, composed of learned and zealous divines, for the conversion of the heretics. At the head of the mission was placed the pious and orthodox sheikh Emad-ed-deen of Bokhara; the other members of it were the sheikh's two sons and four other learned ulemas (Doctors of law), in all seven persons. Full of enthusiasm and zeal for the good cause which they had in hand, the missionaries set forth. They arrived at Kaïn, the chief place of the province, and found with grief and indignation none of the ordinary testimonies of Moslem devotion. The mosks were in ruins, no morning or evening call to prayer was to be heard, no school or hospital was to be seen. Emad-ed-deen resolved to commence his mission by the solemn call to prayer. Adopting the precaution of arraying themselves in armour, he and his companions ascended the terrace of the castle, and all at once from its different sides shouted forth, "Say God is great! There is no god but God, and Mohammed is his prophet. Up to prayer; to good works!" The inhabitants, to whom these sounds were unusual and offensive, ran together, determined to bestow the crown of martyrdom on the missionaries; but these good men, whose zeal was of a prudent complexion, did not, though armed, abide the encounter. They took refuge in an aqueduct, where they concealed themselves till the people had dispersed, when they came forth once more, ascended the terrace, and gave the call to prayer. The people collected again, and again the missionaries sought their retreat. By perseverance, however, and the powerful support of the governor of the province, they

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gradually accustomed the ears of the people to the forms of orthodoxy. Many years afterwards sultan Shahrokh, the son of Timoor, resolved to send a commission to ascertain the state of religion in Kohistan. At the head of it he placed Jelalee of Kaïn, the grandson of Emad-ed-deen, a man of learning and talent and a distinguished writer. Jelalee deemed himself especially selected by heaven for this purpose, as his grandsire had headed the former mission, and the Prophet had appeared to himself in a dream, and given to him a broom to sweep the land, which he interpreted to be a commission to sweep away the impurity of infidelity out of the country. He therefore entered on his office with joy, and, after a peregrination of eleven months, reported favourably of the faith of the people of Kohistan, with the exception of some dervishes and others, who were addicted to Soofeeism.

At the present day, nearly six centuries after the destruction of the Ismaïlite power, the sect is still in existence both in Persia and in Syria. But, like that of the Anabaptists, it has lost its terrors, and the Ismaïlite doctrine is now merely one of the speculative heresies of Islam. The Syrian Ismaïlites dwell in eighteen villages around Massyat, and pay an annual sum of 16,500 piastres to the governor of Hama, who nominates their sheikh or emir. They are divided into two sects or parties, the Sooweidanee, so named from one of their former sheikhs, and the Khisrewee, so called on account of their great reverence for Khiser, the guardian of the Well of Life. They are all externally rigid observers of the precepts of Islam, but they are said to believe in the divinity of Ali, in the untreated light as the origin of all things, and in the sheikh Rasheed-ed-deen Sinan as the last representative of God upon earth.

The Persian Ismaïlites dwell chiefly in Roodbar,

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but they are to be met all over the east, and even appear as traders on the banks of the Ganges. Their imam, whose pedigree they trace up to Ismaïl, the son of Jaaffer-es-Sadik, resides, under the protection of the Shah of Persia, at the village of Khekh, in the district of Koom. As, according to their doctrine, he is an incarnate ray of the Divinity, they hold him in the utmost veneration, and make pilgrimages from the most distant places to obtain his blessing.

We have thus traced the origin, the growth, and the decline of this formidable society, only to be paralleled by that of the Jesuits in extent of power and unity of plan and purpose. Unlike this last, however, its object was purely evil, and its career was one of blood: it has therefore left no deeds to which its apologists might appeal in its defence. Its history, notwithstanding, will always form a curious and instructive chapter in that of the human race.



"And Day, with his banner of radiance unfurled,
  Shines in through the mountainous portal that opes
Sublime from that valley of bliss to the world,"

says Mr. Moore in his "Lalla Rookh," undoubtedly without any knowledge of the eastern song. His original was perhaps Campbell's

              "Andes, giant of the western star,
His meteor standard to the winds unfurled,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world;"

which was again, in all probability, suggested, like Gray's p. 164

"Loose his beard, and hoary hair
Stream’d like a meteor to the troubled air,"

by Milton's

"Imperial ensign, which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind."

It is thus that the particles of poetry, like those of matter, are in eternal circulation, and forming new combinations.

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« Reply #55 on: January 04, 2009, 11:34:12 pm »

p. 169


Introduction--The Crusades--Wrong Ideas respecting their Origin--True Causes of them--Pilgrimage--Pilgrimage of Frotmond--Of the Count of Anjou--Striking Difference between the Christianity of the East and that of the West--Causes of their different Characters--Feudalism--The Extent and Force of this Principle.

AMONG the many extraordinary phenomena which the middle ages present, none is more deserving of attention, or more characteristic of the times and the state of society and opinion, than the institution of the religio-military orders of the Hospitaliers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights. Of these orders, all of which owed their origin to the Crusades, and commenced in the 12th century, the last, after the final loss of the Holy Land, transferring the scene of their activity to the north of Germany, and directing their arms against the heathens who still occupied the south coast of the Baltic, became the founders, in a great measure, of the Prussian power; while the first, planting their standard on the Isle of Rhodes, long gallantly withstood the forces of the Ottoman Turks, and, when at length obliged to resign that island, took their station on the rock of Malta, where they bravely repelled the troops of the greatest of the Ottoman sultans, and maintained at least a nominal independence till the close of the 18th century.

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[paragraph continues] A less glorious fate attended the Knights of the Temple. They became the victims of the unprincipled rapacity of a merciless prince; their property was seized and confiscated; their noblest members perished in the flames; their memory was traduced and maligned; the foulest crimes were laid to their charge; and a secret doctrine, subversive of social tranquillity and national independence, was asserted to have animated their councils. Though many able defenders of these injured knights have arisen, the charges against them have been reiterated even in the present day; and a distinguished Orientalist (Von Hammer) has recently even attempted to bring forward additional and novel proofs of their secret guilt. * To add one more to the number of their defenders, to trace the origin, develope the internal constitution of their society, narrate their actions, examine the history of their condemnation and suppression, and show how absurd and frivolous were the charges against them, are the objects of the present writer, who, though he is persuaded, and hopes to prove, that they held no secret doctrine, yet places them among the secret societies of the middle ages, because it is by many confidently maintained that they were such.

As the society of the Templars was indebted for its origin to the Crusades, we will, before entering on our narrative, endeavour to correct some erroneous notions respecting the causes and nature of these celebrated expeditions.

The opinion of the Crusades having been an emanation

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of the spirit of chivalry is one of the most erroneous that can be conceived, yet it is one most widely spread. Romancers, and those who write history as if it were romance, exert all their power to keep up the illusion, and the very sound of the word Crusade conjures up in most minds the ideas of waving plumes, gaudy surcoats, emblazoned shields, with lady's love, knightly honour, and courteous feats of arms. A vast deal of this perversion of truth is no doubt to be ascribed to the illustrious writer of the splendid epic whose subject is the first Crusade. Tasso, who, living at the time when the last faint gleam of expiring chivalry was fitfully glowing through the moral and political gloom which was overspreading the former abodes of freedom and industry in Italy, may be excused if, young and unversed in the philosophy of history, he mistook the character of European society six centuries before his time, or deemed himself at liberty to minister to the taste of a court which loved the fancied image of former times, and stimulate it to a generous emulation by representing the heroes of the first Crusade as animated with the spirit and the virtues of the ideal chivalry. But the same excuse is not to be made for those who, writing at the present day, confound chivalry and the Crusades, give an epitome of the history of the latter under the title of that of the former, and venture to assert that the valiant Tancred was the beau ideal of chivalry, and that the "Talisman" contains a faithful picture of the spirit and character of the Crusades. *

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We venture to assert that the Crusades did not originate in chivalry, and that the first Crusade, the most important of them, and that which gave the tone and character to all the succeeding ones, does not present a single vestige of what is usually understood by the term chivalry, not a trace of what the imagination rather than the knowledge of Burke described as embodying "the generous loyalty to rank and sex, the proud submission, the dignified obedience, and that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom--that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness." Little surely does he know of the 11th century and its spirit who can suppose any part of the foregoing description to apply to those who marched in arms to Asia to free the sepulchre of Christ; slightly must he have perused the Gesta Tancredi of Radulphus Cadomens, who can conceive that gallant warrior, as he undoubtedly was, to have been the mirror of chivalry.

Chivalry and the Crusades commenced in the same century, and drew their origin from the same source. One was not the cause of the other, but both were effects of the same cause, and that cause was feudalism. This inculcated "the proud submission, the dignified obedience," &c., &c., which were gradually idealised into chivalry; it impressed on the mind of the vassal those principles of regrard to the rights and property of his lord which seemed to justify and sanction the Holy War. Previously, however, to explaining the manner in which this motive acted, we must stop to notice another concurring cause of the Crusades, without

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which it would perhaps never have begun to operate.

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« Reply #56 on: January 04, 2009, 11:35:18 pm »

Man has at all periods been led by a strong impulse of his nature to visit those spots which have been distinguished as the scenes of great and celebrated actions, or the abode of distinguished personages. The operation of this natural feeling is still stronger when it is combined with religion, and there arises a conviction that the object of his worship is gratified by this act of attention, and his favour thereby secured to the votary. Hence we find pilgrimage, or the practice of taking distant journeys to celebrated temples, and other places of devotion, to have prevailed in all ages of the world. In the most remote periods of the mythic history of Greece, where historic truth is not to be sought, and only manners and modes of thinking are to be discerned, we constantly meet the theoria, or pilgrimage to Delphi, mentioned in the history of the heroes, whence we may with certainty collect that it formed at all times a portion of the manners of the Greeks. India, at the present day, witnesses annually the pilgrimage of myriads to the temple of Juggernaut, and Jerusalem has been for thousands of years the resort of pious Israelites.

The country which had witnessed the life and death of their Lord naturally acquired importance in the eyes of the early Christians, many of whom, moreover, were Jews by birth, and had always viewed Jerusalem with feelings of veneration. All, too, confounded--as has unfortunately been too much the case in later times--the old and the new law, and saw not that the former was but "beggarly elements" in comparison with the latter, and deemed that the political and economical precepts designed for a single nation, inhabiting one small region, were obligatory on the church of Christ, which was intended.. to comprise the whole human race. Many of the practices

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of Judaism were therefore observed by the Christians, and to this principle we are perhaps in a great measure to ascribe the rapid progress of the practice, and the belief in the efficacy, of pilgrimage to the Holy City.

The abuses of pilgrimage were early discerned, and some of the more pious Fathers of the Church preached and wrote against the practice. But piety and eloquence were vain, and could little avail to stem the torrent when men believed that the waters of Jordan had efficacy to wash every sin, though unattended by sincere repentance. The Church, as she advanced in corruption, improved in worldly wisdom, and, taking pilgrimage under her protection, made it a part of her penal discipline. The sinner was now ordered a journey to the Holy Land as a means of freeing his soul from the guilt of his perhaps manifold enormities. Each year saw the number of the pilgrims augment, while the growing veneration for relics, of which those which came from the Holy Land were esteemed the most efficacious, stimulated pilgrimage by adding the incentive of profit, as a small stock of money laid out in the purchase of the generally counterfeit relics always on sale at Jerusalem would produce perhaps a thousand per cent. on the return of the pilgrim to his native country. A pilgrim was also held in respect and veneration wherever he came, as an especial favourite of the Divinity, having been admitted by him to the high privilege of visiting the sacred places, a portion of whose sanctity it would be supposed might still adhere to him.

The 11th century was the great season of pilgrimage. A strange misconception of the meaning of a portion of Scripture had led men to fancy that the year 1000 was to be that of the advent of Christ, to judge the world. As the valley of Jehoshaphat was

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believed to be the spot on which this, awful event would take place, the same feeling which leads people at the present day to lay a flattering unction to their souls by supposing that death-bed repentance will prove equivalent in the sight of God to a life passed in obedience to his will and in the exercise of virtue, impelled numbers to journey to the Holy Land, in the belief that this officiousness, as it were, of hitherto negligent servants would be well taken by their Lord, and procure them an indulgent hearing before his judgment-seat. Pilgrimage, therefore, increased greatly; the failure of their expectations, the appointed time having passed away without the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven, gave it no check, but, on the contrary, rather an additional impulse; and during this century the caravans of pilgrims attained to such magnitude and strength as to be deserving of the appellation of The armies of the Lord--precursive of the first and greatest Crusade.

In truth the belief in the merit and even the obligation of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in the sight of God, was now as firmly impressed on the mind of every Christian, be his rank what it might, as that of the necessity and advantage of one to the Kaaba of Mecca is in the apprehension of the followers of Mohammed; and in the degraded state of the human intellect at that period a pilgrimage was deemed adequate to the removal of all sin. As a proof of this we shall narrate the pilgrimages of two distinguished personages of those times. The first occurred in the 9th, the second in the 11th century.

In the reign of Lothaire, son of Louis the Debonaire, a nobleman of Brittany, named Frotmond, who had murdered his uncle and his youngest brother, began to feel remorse for his crimes. Arrayed in the habit of a penitent, he presented himself before the monarch and an assembly of his prelates, and made confession

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of his guilty deeds. The king and bishops had him straitly bound in chains of iron, and then commanded him, in expiation of his guilt, to set forth for the East, and visit all the holy places, clad in hair-cloth, and his forehead marked with ashes. Accompanied by his servants and the partners of his crime, the Breton lord directed his course to Palestine, which he reached in safety. Having, in obedience to the mandates of his sovereign and of the church, visited all the holy places, he crossed the Arabian desert, which had been the scene of the wanderings of Israel, and entered Egypt. He thence traversed a part of Africa, and went as far as Carthage, whence he sailed for Rome. Here the Pope, on being consulted, advised him to make a second pilgrimage, in order to complete his penance, and obtain the perfect remission of his sins. Frotmond accordingly set forth once more, and having performed the requisite duties at the Holy City, proceeded to the shore of the Red Sea, and there took up his abode for three years on Mount Sinai, after which time he made a journey to Armenia, and visited the mountain on which the ark of Noah had rested. His crimes being now, according to the ideas of those times, expiated, he returned to his native country, where he was received as a saint, and taking up his abode in the convent of Redon, passed there the remainder of his days, and died deeply regretted by his brethren. *

Fulk de Nerra, Count of Anjou, had spilt much innocent blood; he had had his first wife burnt alive, and forced his second wife to seek refuge from his barbarity in the Holy Land. The public odium pursued him, and conscience asserting her rights presented to his disturbed imagination the forms of those who had perished by him issuing from their tombs, and reproaching him with his crimes. Anxious to

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escape from his invisible tormentors, the count put on him the habit of a pilgrim, and set forth for Palestine. The tempests which he encountered in the Syrian seas seemed to his guilty soul the instruments of divine vengeance, and augmented the fervour of his repentance. Having reached Jerusalem in safety, he set heartily about the work of penance. He traversed the streets of the Holy City with a cord about his neck, and beaten with rods by his servants, while he repeated these words, Lord, have mercy on a faithless and perjured Christian, on a sinner wandering far from his home. During his abode in Jerusalem he gave abundant alms, relieving the wants of the pilgrims, and leaving numerous monuments of his piety and munificence.

Deep as was the penitence of the Count of Anjou, it did not stand in the way of the exercise of a little pious fraud. By an ingenious device he deceived the impious malignity of the profane Saracens, who would have made him defile the holy sepulchre; and the chroniclers tell us that as he lay prostrate before the sacred tomb he contrived to detach from it a precious stone, which he carried back with him to the West. On his return to his duchy he built, at the castle of Loches, a church after the model of that of the Resurrection at Jerusalem, and here he every day implored with tears the divine forgiveness. His mind, however, could not yet rest; he was still haunted by the same horrid images; and he once more visited the Holy Land, and edified the faithful by the austerity of his penance. Returning home by the way of Italy, he delivered the supreme pontiff from a formidable enemy who was ravaging his territory, and the grateful pope conferred on him in return the full absolution of all his sins. Fulk brought with him to Anjou a great quantity of relics, with which he adorned the churches of Loches and Angers; and his

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« Reply #57 on: January 04, 2009, 11:35:53 pm »

chief occupation thenceforward was the building of towns and monasteries, whence he acquired the name of The Great Builder. His people, who blessed heaven for his conversion, honoured and loved him; the guilt of his sins had been removed by the means which were then deemed of sovereign efficacy; yet still the monitor placed by God in the human breast, and which in a noble mind no power can reduce to perfect silence, did not rest; and the Holy Land beheld, for the third time, the Count of Anjou watering the sepulchre of Christ with his tears, and groaning afresh over his transgressions. H e quitted Jerusalem for the last time, recommending his soul to the prayers of the pious brethren whose office it was to receive the pilgrims, and turned his face homewards. But Anjou he was never more to behold; death surprised him at Metz. His body was transferred to Loches, and buried in his church of the Holy Sepulchre.

These instances may suffice to show what the opinion of the efficacy and merit of pilgrimage to the Holy Land was at the time of which we write. We here find convincing proof that in the minds of princes and prelates, the highest and most enlightened order of society, it was confidently believed to avail to remove the guilt of crimes of the deepest die. And let not any one say that the clergy took advantage of the ignorance of the people, and made it the instrument of extending their own power and influence; for such an assertion would evince ignorance both of human nature in general and of the temper and conduct of the Romish hierarchy at that, and we might almost say at all periods of its existence. However profligate the lives of many of the clergy may have been, they never called in question the truth of the dogmas of their religion. Even the great and daring Gregory VII., in the midst of what appear to us his arrogant and almost impious assumptions, never for

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moment doubted of the course which he was pursuing being the right one, and agreeable to heaven. The clergy, as well as the laity, were firmly persuaded of the efficacy of pilgrimage, and in both the persuasion was naturally stronger in proportion to the ignorance of the believer. We accordingly find that vast numbers of all ranks, and both sexes, clergy as well as laity, annually repaired to the tomb of Christ.

It remains to be explained what the principle was which gave origin to the idea of the right and justice of recovering the Holy Land, which was now in. the hands of the fanatic Turks, instead of those of the tolerant Saracens. This cause was, as we have above asserted, the feudal spirit, that is, the spirit of the age, and not that emanation of it termed chivalry.

Religion, whatever its original nature and character, will always take a tinge from the manners and temper of those who adopt it. Nothing can be more illustrative of the truth of this observation than the history of the Christian religion. Any one who opens the Gospel, and reads it without preconception or prejudice, cannot fail at once to recognise the rational and fervent piety, the active benevolence, the pure morality, the noble freedom from the trammels of the world, joined with the zealous discharge of all the social duties, which every page of it inculcates. Yet we find this religion in the East degenerating into abject grovelling superstition and metaphysical quibbling, pursued with all the rancour of the odium theologicum, while in the West it assumed a fiery fanatic character, and deemed the sword an instrument of conversion superior to reason and argument. This difference, apparently so strange, arose from the difference of the social state and political institutions of the people of the East and of the West at the time when they embraced Christianity.

The free spirit had long since fled from Greece

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when the first Christian missionaries preached the faith among its people. But the temper of the Greek was still lively, and his reasoning powers acute. Moreover, he had still the same leaning towards a sensible and material religion which has at all times distinguished him, and the increasing despotism of the empire depressed and enfeebled more and more every day the martial spirit which he had displayed in the days of his freedom. No field remained for his mental activity but that of philosophy and religion. The former, which had long been his delight, he had contrived to subtilize into an almost unintelligible mysticism; and in this form it speedily„ spread its infection through his new faith, which was besides further metamorphosed and changed in character by an infusion from the dualistic system of Persia. Meantime the ascetic spirit which had come from the East joined with the timidity engendered by the pressure of despotism to make him mistake the spirit of the Gospel, and convert Christianity into a crouching cowardly superstition. When the emperor Nicephorus Phocas sought to infuse a martial and fanatic spirit into his subjects, and to rouse them to vigorous exertion against the Saracens, his bishops replied to his exhortations by citing a canon of St. Basil, which directed that he who had slain an enemy in battle should abstain during three years from participation in the holy sacraments. The priest of a little town in Cilicia was engaged one day in saying mass when a band of Saracens burst in, and began to plunder the town. Without waiting to take off his sacerdotal vestments, he seized the hammer, which in the churches of the East frequently serves the purpose of a bell, and, flying among the infidels, plied his weapon to such effect that he forced them to a precipitate flight, and saved the town. What was the reward of the gallant priest? He was censured by his diocesan,

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interdicted the exercise of his ghostly functions, and so ill-treated in other respects, that he flung off his robes and joined the Saracens, whose more martial and energetic creed accorded better with his manly sentiments. When the pilgrims of the first Crusade began to arrive in such terrific numbers at Constantinople, the Greek emperor and his subjects could hardly persuade themselves of the possibility of religion being the actuating cause of such a portentous movement--so little did religion and deeds of arms accord in their minds!

But with the nations of the West the case was different. In these the ruling portion, that which gave tone to the whole, were of the Gothic and Germanic races, whose hardy bands had dashed to pieces the worn-out fabric of the Western empire. Worshippers in their native forests of Thor and Odin, and the other deities of Valhalla, who admitted none but the valiant dead to share in the celestial pork and mead which each day crowned the board in their lucid abode, their manners, their sentiments, their whole being was martial, and they infused this spirit into the religion which they adopted from their Roman subjects. In making this change in its tone they derived aid from the Jewish portion of the sacred volume, which has been in all ages abused, by men ignorant of its character and original use, to purposes of fanaticism and persecution; and the religion of Christian Europe, from the fifth century downwards, became of a martial and conquering character. By the sword Charlemagne converted the pagan Saxons; his successors employed the sword against the heathen Vends; and by fire and sword Olof Triggva-son spread Christianity throughout the North. In former times this mode of conversion had been in a great degree foreign to the Western church; and persuasion had

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been chiefly employed in the dissemination of the faith among the heathen nations.

The religion of the West we thus see was martial; but this spirit alone would not have sufficed to produce the Crusade which was to interest and appear as a duty to all orders of men. Here the feudal principle came into operation, and gave the requisite impulse.

In the 11th century the feudal system was completely developed in France and Germany, and the modes of thinking, speaking, and acting derived from it pervaded all the relations of life. From the top to the bottom of society the mutual obligations of lords and vassals were recognised and acted upon, and each vassal deemed it a most sacred duty to defend by arms the honour and property of his superior lord There was also a kind of supreme temporal chief of the Christian world acknowledged in the person of the Emperor of Germany, who was viewed as the successor of Charlemagne, and the representative of the Roman emperors. The feudal ideas extended even to the hierarchy, which now put forth such exorbitant claims to supremacy over the temporal power. The head of the church was an acknowledged vicegerent of Him who was styled in scripture Lord of all the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus Christ was, therefore, the apex of the pyramid of feudal society; he was the great suzerain and lord paramount of all princes and peoples, and all were equally under obligation to defend his rights and honour. Such were evidently the sentiments of the age.

It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that the religion of the period which we treat of was of a gross and material character, and that the passions and infirmities of human nature were freely bestowed on the glorified Son of God. He was deemed to take a peculiar interest in the spot of land where he

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had sojourned when on earth, and more especially in the tomb in which his body had been deposited, and. with grief and indignation to see them in the hands of those who contemptuously derided his divinity, and treated with insult and cruelty those of his faithful vassals who underwent the toils and dangers of a distant journey to offer their homage at his tomb. Nothing could, therefore, be more grateful to his feelings than to behold the sacred soil of Palestine free from heathen pollution, and occupied and defended by his faithful vassals, and no true son of the church could hesitate a moment to believe that it was his bounden duty to arm himself in the cause of his lord, and help to reinstate him in his heritage. Here, then, without having recourse to the romantic principle of chivalry, we have an adequate solution of the phenomenon of the first Crusade. Here we have a motive calculated to operate on the minds of all orders, equally effectual with men of piety, virtue, and wealth, like Godfrey of Bouillon and Stephen of Chartres, who looked for no temporal advantages, as with the meanest and most superstitious of the vassals and serfs who might be supposed to have only sought a refuge from misery and oppression by assuming the cross. We would not by any means be supposed to deny that many other causes and motives were in operation at the same time; but this we deem the grand one. This was the motive which gave dignity to and hallowed all others, and which affected the mind of every Crusader, be his rank or station in society what it might.

Pilgrimage then was esteemed a duty, and a powerful mean of removing guilt and appeasing the wrath of the Almighty; the spirit of the age was martial, and its religion, tinged by the ancient system of the North of Europe, was of the same character; the feudal principle was in its vigour, and extended even

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to the relations of man with the deity; the rude and barbarous Turks had usurped the heritage, the very crown-lands, as we may say, of Jesus Christ, and insulted his servants, whose duty it plainly was to punish them, and free the tomb of their lord;--the natural result of such a state of circumstances aria opinion was the first Crusade.


170:* The principal works on the subject of the Templars are Raynouard Monumens historiques relatifs à la Condamnation des Templiers; Dupuy Histoire de la Condamnation des Templiers; Münter Statutenbuch des Ordens der Tempelherren, and Wilike Geschichte des Tempelherrenordens. There is scarcely anything on the subject in English.

171:* On the subject of chivalry see Ste. Palaye Mémoires sur la Chevalerie, Sir W. Scott's Essay on the same subject, and Mills's and James's histories of chivalry. We do not recollect that any of these writers has fairly proved that the chivalry which they describe ever existed as an institution, and we must demur to the principle which they all assume of romances like Perceforest being good authority for the manners of the age in which they were composed.

176:* Michaud, Histoire des Croisades, I., p. 59.


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First Hospital at Jerusalem--Church of Santa Maria de Latina--Hospital of St. John--The Hospitallers--Origin of the Templars--Their original Poverty--They acquire Consideration--St. Bernard--His Character of the Templars--The Order approved of and confirmed by the Council of Troyes--Proofs of the Esteem in which they were held.

IN consequence of the resort of pilgrims and traders from the West to Jerusalem it had been found necessary to build there, with the consent of the Saracens, hospitia, or places of entertainment for them during their abode in the holy city. For they could not, consistently with the religious animosity which prevailed between them and the Moslems, seek the hospitality of these last, and the Christians of the Greek church who dwelt in the Holy City, besides that they had no very friendly feeling towards their Catholic brethren, were loth to admit them into their houses, on account of the imprudent language and indecorous acts in which they were too frequently in the habit of indulging, and which were so likely to compromise their hosts with their Saracen lords. Accordingly the monk Bernard, who visited Jerusalem in the year 870, found there, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, near the church of the Holy Virgin, a hospital consisting of twelve mansions, for western pilgrims, which was in the possession of some gardens, vineyards, and corn-fields. It had also a good collection of books, the gift of Charlemagne. There was a market held in front of it, which was much resorted to, and every

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dealer paid two pieces of gold to the overseer for permission to have a stand there.

In the 11th century, when the ardour of pilgrimage was inflamed anew, there was a hospital within the walls of Jerusalem for the use of the Latin pilgrims, which had been erected by Italian traders, chiefly of Amalfi. Near this hospital, and within a stone's cast of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, they erected, with the permission of the Egyptian khalif, a church dedicated to the Holy Virgin, which was usually called Sta. Maria de Latina. In this hospital abode an abbot and a good number of monks, who were of the Latin church, and followed the rule of St. Benedict. They devoted themselves to the reception and entertainment of pilgrims, and gave alms to those who were poor, or had been rifled by robbers, to enable them to pay the tax required by the Moslems for permission to visit the holy places. When the number of the pilgrims became so great that the hospital was incapable of receiving them all, the monks raised another hospitium close by their church, with a chapel dedicated to a canonized patriarch of Alexandria, named St. John Eleëmon, or the Compassionate. This new hospital had no income of its own; the monks and the pilgrims whom they received derived their support from the bounty of the abbot of the convent of the Holy Virgin, or from the alms of pious Christians.

At the time when the army of the crusaders appeared before the walls of Jerusalem the Hospital of St. John was presided over by Gerard, a native of Provence, a man of great uprightness and of exemplary piety. His benevolence was of a truly Christian character, and far transcended that of his age in general; for during the period of the siege he relieved all who applied to him for succour, and not merely did the schismatic Greek share his bounty,

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even the unbelieving Moslem was not repelled when he implored his aid. When the city was taken, numbers of the wounded pilgrims were received, and their wounds tended in the hospital of St. John, and the pious Duke Godfrey, on visiting them some days afterwards, heard nothing but the praises of the good Gerard and his monks.

Emboldened by the universal favour which they enjoyed, Gerard and his companions expressed their wish to separate themselves from the monastery of Sta. Maria de Latina, and pursue their works of charity alone and independently. Their desire met no opposition: they drew up a rule for themselves, to which they made a vow of obedience in presence of the patriarch, and assumed as their dress a black mantle with a white cross on the breast. The humility of these Hospitallers was extreme. They styled the poor and the sick their lords and themselves their servants; to them they were liberal and compassionate, to themselves rigid and austere. The finest flour went to compose the food which they gave to the sick and poor; what remained after they were satisfied, mingled with clay, was the repast of the monks.

As long as the brotherhood were poor they continued in obedience to the abbot of Sta. Maria de Latina, and also paid tithes to the patriarch. But a tide of wealth soon began to flow in upon them. Duke Godfrey, enamoured of their virtue, bestowed on them his lordship of Montboire, in Brabant, with all its appurtenances; and his brother and successor, Baldwin, gave them a share of all the booty taken from the infidels. These examples were followed by other Christian princes; so that within the space of a very few years the Hospital of St. John was in possession of numerous manors both in the East and in Europe, which were placed under the management

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of members of their society. The Hospitaliers now coveted a total remission of all the burdens to which they were subject, and they found no difficulty in obtaining all that they desired. Pope Paschal II., in the year 1113, confirmed their rule, gave them permission, on the death of Gerard, to elect their own head, without the interference of any temporal or spiritual power whatever, freed them from the obligation of paying tithes to the patriarch, and confirmed all the donations made or to be made to them. The brotherhood of the Hospital was now greatly advanced in consideration, and reckoned among its members many gallant knights, who laid aside their arms, and devoted themselves to the humble office of ministering to the sick and needy.

The worthy Gerard died in the same year with King Baldwin I. (1118), and Raymond Dupuy, a knight of Dauphiné, who had become a brother of the order, was unanimously elected to succeed him in his office. Raymond, who was a man of great vigour and capacity, drew up a series of rules for the direction of the society, adapted to its present state of consequence and extent. From these rules it appears that the order of St. John admitted both the clergy and the laity among its members, and that both were alike bound to yield the most implicit obedience to the commands of their superior. Whether Raymond had any ulterior views is uncertain, but in the regulations which he made we cannot discern any traces of the spirit which afterwards animated the order of St. John.

Just, however, as Raymond had completed his regulations there sprang up a new society, with different maxims, whose example that of St. John found itself afterwards obliged to adopt and follow. The Holy Land was at that time in a very disturbed and unquiet state; the Egyptian power pressed it on the

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south, the Turkish on the north and east; the Arab tribes indulged in their usual predatory habits, and infested it with hostile incursions; the Mussulman inhabitants were still numerous; the Syrian Christians were ill affected towards the Latins, from whom they frequently experienced the grossest ill-treatment; the Latins were few and scattered. Hence the pilgrim was exposed to numerous dangers; peril beset him on his way from the port at which he landed to the Holy City, and new perils awaited him when he visited the banks of the Jordan, or went to pluck his branch of consecrated palm in the gardens of Jericho. Many a pilgrim had lost his life on these occasions.

Viewing these evils, nine valiant and pious knights resolved to form themselves into an association which should unite the characters of the monk and the knight, by devoting themselves to a life of chastity and piety at the tomb of the Saviour, and by employing their swords in the protection of the pilgrims on their visits to the holy places. They selected as their patroness the sweet Mother of God (La dote Mère de Dieu), and their resolution, according so perfectly with the spirit of the Crusades, which combined piety and valour, gained at once the warm approbation of the king and the patriarch. In the presence of. the latter they took the three ordinary vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and a fourth of fighting incessantly in the cause of pilgrims and the Holy Land against the heathen. They bound themselves to live according to the rule of the canons of St. Augustine, and elected as their first master Hugh de Payens. The king, Baldwin II., assigned them a portion of his palace for their abode, and he and his barons contributed to their support. As the palace stood close by the church and convent of the Temple, the abbot and canons gave them a street leading from it to the palace, for keeping their magazines and equipments

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