Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/109

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IN CHAINS

Many things brought about the dissolution of the Prankish Empire. The post-Charlemagne partitions had a deep and lasting effect, be- cause as a result one people was sundered from another. The Franco- Germanic element parted company with the Gallo-Roman and Celtic elements and developed its own individual character inside the vast common enclosure of ecclesiastical culture and feudal society, which everywhere determined the quality of civic life. Nationalist con- ceptions were at the bottom of the Treaty of Meersen (870) which gave the countries inhabited predominantly by Romanic peoples to Charles the Bald, and awarded the German districts to Louis the Ger- man* Inside these divisions of the Empire still smaller independent civic units appeared the hereditary duchies. Nevertheless the imperial idea of Charlemagne remained a political and spiritual force and won ground in Germany during the tenth century. In the West, however, political unsettlement prevailed in spite of a more advanced culture. Before the year 900 Alfred the Great in England had brought his kingdom to a high state of civilization; two centuries later it was to become the possession of the Normans. A small, northern Chris- tian kingdom maintained itself in Spain against the Caliphs of Cor- dova until well into the eleventh century, when the inner weakness of the Islamic power made possible an extension of the Church's in- fluence. Italy, finally, was the scene of wholesale political conflicts fought out between princes of Prankish blood, Roman noble families, Byzantines and Saracens. Europe as a whole was everywhere so threatened by swarming mobs of Normans, Magyars and Saracens, that its very civic and ecclesiastical existence seemed insecure.

The only thing that held society together was the consciousness of belonging to one and the same Christendom. This no longer pos- sessed the purity, power and profundity of the primeval people of God, for the reason that the Church now embraced all men: the elect and those who were not called. Nevertheless the supernatural being of the Church, its faith and its demands on human nature, had re- mained the same frpm the beginning despite all the silt the world had deposited upon them. Yes, its inner power revealed itself the more

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