The conception of Europe as a distinct division of the earth, separate from Asia and Africa, had its origin in ancient times. The sailors of the Aegean Sea applied the Semitic designations Ereb (sunset, west) and Acu (sunrise, east) to the countries lying respectively west and east of the sea; in this way it became customary to call Greece and the territory back of it Europe, while Asia Minor and the parts beyond were named Asia. At a later date the mass of land lying to the south of the Mediterranean was set off as a distinct division of the earth with the name of Libya or Africa.
Europe is a large peninsula forming the western part of the northern continent of the Eastern Hemisphere. On the north and west it is separated from North America by the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans; on the south by the Mediterranean Sea from Africa and Western Asia. In the east there is no clear natural division from the continental mass of Asia. Such a dividing line may be drawn along the crest of the Ural and Mugadzhar Mountains, the Emba River, Caspian Sea, and the lowlands of the Manitch River, or through the depression that, starting from the Gulf of Obi, extends through the valleys of the Obi, Irtysh, Tobol, and Emba Rivers. The political boundary extends beyond the Ural Mountains towards the east, and beyond the Ural River to the south and west runs along the range called Obtschei Syrt and the Usen River, and encloses within the eastern boundary of Europe the whole of the Caucasus. The most northern point of Europe is North Cape (71 deg. 12 min. N. lat.) on the Island of Mageroe belonging to Norway ; the most western point is Cape da Roca (9 deg. 31 min. west of Greenwich) in Portugal ; the most southern is Cape Tarifa (35 deg. 59 min. 53 sec. N.) in Spain ; the Continent extends as far to the east as 65 deg. longitude east of Greenwich. Its greatest length from north to south is 2,398 miles, from west to east, 3,455 miles. The statement as to the extent of its area varies, according to the position assigned to its eastern boundary, from 3,672,969 sq. miles to 4,092,660 sq. miles. This measurement includes the polar islands Iceland, Nova Zembla, and Spitzbergen, but not the Canary, Madeira, and Azores Is.
Three leading tectonic divisions are to be distinguished in the geological formation of Europe. These appeared in the middle Tertiary period. Western Europe, as far south as the Alps, the Pyrenees, and, reaching beyond the Pyrenees, into the Spanish Peninsula, to the east as far as the Baltic and the Vistula River, is formed of debris and sedimentary deposits. This has been produced by the breaking up and overflowing with water of mountain chains that now exist as secondary ranges, as the Scotch Highlands, the central plateau of France, and the mountain chain of Central Germany. Towards the east is low-lying land that has remained the same from early times. Sweden and Finland form together a great level called the Plain of the Baltic, south-east from which spreads the great Russian plain which is limited by the Ural and Carpathian Mountains, the Crimea, and the Caucasus Mountains. The whole of Southern Europe and a part of Middle Europe is a region of late folded mountain ranges. These begin with the Pyrenees, which have remarkable spurs in the ranges of Provence, in Corsica, and Sardinia. The ranges of Andalusia in Southern Spain find their continuation in the Atlas range, which bends to the east and reappears in Europe in the mountains of the northern coast of Sicily and the Apennines. The north-western Apennines pass into the Alpine system. In the east the Alps are divided into three chains; of these the middle one passes into the Hungarian plain; the Carpathian and Balkan ranges unite in a great bend with the northern chain, and the southern one is continued by the Dinaric Alps and the western chains of the Balkan Peninsula as far as Crete and the south-western part of Asia Minor . Numerous islands belong to the Continent of Europe. The separation of the islands from the mainland arose in two ways. In the north and west, the encroachment of the sea produced bays and peninsulas and formed islands. In the south, the western and eastern basins of the Mediterranean, those of the Adriatic and Aegean Seas, the Sea of Marmora, and the southern part of the Black and Caspian Seas, were formed by folding; and in this way also were formed the Iberian, Italian, and Balkan Peninsulas and the archipelago lying between Greece and Asia Minor. The rivers of Europe belong to three different basins, namely, to the Caspian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, including the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and the Arctic Ocean. The courses of the rivers of Europe are much shorter than the courses of those of Asia, Africa, or America. The largest of the European rivers, the Volga (1,978 miles), the Danube (1,771 miles), Dnieper (1,329 miles), Don (1,120 miles), Petchora (1,023 miles), and the Dniester (835 miles), flow into seas that are almost entirely cut off from the ocean, consequently from the world's traffic. They offer, however, little obstruction to navigation, and numerous canals are cut through the main watershed that extends from Gibraltar to the northern Urals. The largest number of lakes is found in the region, formerly covered with glaciers, lying north of 50 deg. N. lat. -- Finland, Scandinavia, Scotland, and Ireland, and the region of the Alps. Besides this lake region, lakes have also been formed in the Alps by folding, in the Balkan by the breaking in of the surface, and in the Apennine Peninsula by volcanic outbreaks.
The climatic conditions of Europe are very favourable. Almost the entire continent, excepting the northern point, belongs to the temperate zone. At the same time it is much warmer than other countries in the same latitude, as, for instance, than eastern North America, because along its western coast flows the Gulf Stream, which leaves the coast of Florida with a temperature of 68 deg. Fahr. and raises the normal temperature on the Portuguese and Spanish coast about 7.2 Fahr. deg., of the British coast by 9 to 14.4 Fahr. deg., and of the Norwegian coast, about 14.4 to 18 Fahr. deg. Since there is no chain of mountains traversing Europe from north to south, as is the case with North America, the influence of the Gulf Stream extends far into the interior of the mainland. On the borders of the Arctic Ocean a rigorous climate prevails, summer is short, and during the greater of the year the temperature is below freezing. This northern region has polar vegetation; the rolling plains called tundras are found on the peninsulas of Kanin and Kola and at the mouth of the Petchora. The sub-arctic zone is found south of this in the Scandinavian Peninsula down to 60 deg. N. lat.; here the climate of the coast, influenced by the sea, in milder in winter and cool in summer. The part of Europe properly included in the temperate zone is divided into the following regions: the countries lying on the Atlantic, Great Britain, Brittany, the Channel, and northwestern Spain ; this section has moderate temperature and large rainfall; west and middle Europe, with an inland climate, less heavy rainfall (about 19.7 inches), and moderate changes of temperature (27 to 45 Fahr. deg.); in this section the southern part of France forms an exception, as also the depression of the Upper Rhine, and the mountains. Beyond this is the section of Eastern Europe or Russia, with a completely inland climate, the variations of temperature amounting to 45 Fahr. deg., and the rainfall to less than 23.6 inches. Finally comes the section of the Euxine comprising the great Hungarian plain, the plain of the Balkan provinces, and southern Russia ; in this division the spring is moist and warm and midsummer, hot and dry. The depression of the Caspian belongs to the dry zone of Asia.
The forests of Europe flourish in the temperate zone. In Norway they are composed chiefly of pine; the only deciduous tree found in the highest latitudes is the birch (betula odorata); the forests of pines and deciduous trees are found south of 61 deg. N. lat.; this region is further characterized by grass-lands, heaths, and moors. The cultivated land, which in Central and Western Europe is about sixty to seventy per cent, is divided into farm land, cultivated forest land, grass and pasture land. From north to south the succession of grains is as follows: barley, rye and oats, wheat, especially in France and Hungary, and maize. Potatoes are cultivated on less fruitful soil. In this region native fruits are the apple, pear, and cherry; finer kinds of fruit trees, as the peach, apricot, plum, and of nut trees, the walnut and almond, have been introduced from the south. In this region the grape is also cultivated; its northern limit, extending from the mouth of the Loire, passes to Paris and the Rhine near Bonn, then towards the Unstrut and Saale Rivers, and reaches its most northerly point on the Oder below 52 deg. N. lat.; the limit of its cultivation here turns to the south-east until it reaches the Sea of Azov. The region of the Mediterranean, that is the Iberian Peninsula, Provence, Italy to the foot of the Alps, and the Balkan Peninsula south of 42 deg. N. lat., has a subtropical climate. Here flourish trees and bushes which are always green; among those that are cultivated for their products are the citron, orange, fig, almond, mulberry, and pomegranate trees. The fauna of Europe is in accord with the climate and vegetation. In Northern Europe are found the polar bear, polar fox, and reindeer; in the region of forests live the bear, wolf, and lynx, which have, however, almost disappeared; the region of the Mediterranean contains numerous reptiles.
The greater part of the population of Europe belong to the European or Mediterranean race. The main race-groups are the Teutonic, Romanic, and Slavonic. To the Teutonic division belong: the Germans, Dutch, Flemish, English, and Scandinavians; it contains in all 127,800,000 souls, or 32.1 per cent of the whole population; included in the Romanic group are: the French, Walloons, Italians, Friulians, natives of the Rhaetian Alps, Maltese, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Rumanians, in all 108,100,000, or 27.1 per cent; included in the Slavonic are: the Russians, Ruthenians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Wends, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Bulgarians, Letts, and Lithuanians, in all 124,600,000, or 31.3 per cent. A smaller number, about 9,500,000 souls, or 2.4 per cent is composed of other Aryan races: Celts, Greeks, Albanians, Gypsies, Armenians, etc. There are also about 27,900,000, or some 7 per cent, of non-Aryan races: Basques, Magyars, Finns, the tribes of the Ural region, Turks, Kalmucks, and Jews. The total population of Europe amounts to about 420,000,000.
The organization of the present States of Europe may be traced back to the Middle Ages. Most of the States are limited by natural boundaries within which each has developed its own individual character. The States vary greatly in size and population; most of them are constitutional monarchies, the only republics being France and Switzerland. The British Isles, united as Great Britain and Ireland, have a total area of 121,622 sq. miles and 43,722,000 inhabitants; as a natural consequence of the geographical position of the islands, the nation is largely interested in colonial enterprises. The Scandinavian Peninsula is halved by an uninhabited mountain range, thus permitting the existence of two countries, Norway and Sweden. Norway, lying on the Atlantic, has an area of 123,938 miles and 2,300,000 inhabitants; Sweden, on the Baltic, has an area of 172,973 sq. miles and 5,261,000 inhabitants. The peninsula and islands lying south of Norway and Sweden form the third Scandinavian state, Denmark, that controls the entrance to the Baltic. Denmark has an area of 14,672 sq. miles and 2,450,000 inhabitants. France, the western part of the continental mass, has an area of 206,950 sq. miles and a population of 39,060,000; it has the advantage, excepting towards the north-east, of having for its boundaries either seas or mountain ranges. Between Western and Central Europe lie the so-called "buffer" States: Belgium with an area of 11,197 sq. miles and 7,075,000 inhabitants; the Netherlands, area 12,741 sq. miles, inhabitants 5,510,000; Switzerland, area 15,830 sq. miles, inhabitants 3,425,000. The German Empire, area 208,880 sq. miles inhabitants 60,605,000, covers the greater part of central Europe. Germany borders upon nearly all the great powers of Europe and has, therefore, developed a large army. The State having the least organic union geographically and ethnographically, and consequently in constant danger of internal disorganization, is the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Its area is 261,004 sq. miles, population 49,092,000 souls. Russia, area 2,081,079 sq. miles, inhabitants 119,115,000, occupies the lowland of Europe and, in its largest extent, stretches beyond Europe into the Asiatic plain. Southern Europe embraces numerous states with sharply defined boundaries. The Iberian Peninsula is divided between Portugal and Spain ; Portugal, a country lying on the ocean and having a great maritime past, has an area of 43,363 sq. miles, inhabitants 5,016,000; Spain, area 191,892 sq. miles, inhabitants 18,249,000. Italy belongs completely to the lands of the Mediterranean; its area is 110,811 sq. miles, population 33,604,000. The physical contour of the Balkan Peninsula is so broken up by mountain ranges that it fails to show any one organically large State. Its divisions at the present time are: Bulgaria, 37,066 sq. miles, population 3,744,400; Montenegro, 3,475 sq. miles, population 228,000; Rumania, 50,579 sq. miles, population 6,392,000; Servia, 18,533 sq. miles, population 2,677,000; European Turkey, 65,251 sq. miles, population 6,130,000; Greece, 25,000 sq. miles, population 2,440,000.
By far the greater proportion of the inhabitants of Europe belong to the Christian Faith. One-fourth of the population are Protestants, somewhat over one-fourth belong to the Oriental Christian Churches , nearly 45 per cent are Catholics, 41 per cent are non-Christian. In the Romanic States 99 per cent of the population are Catholic ; in the Teutonic States 74 per cent are Protestant and less than one per cent non-Christian. In the States of Eastern Europe, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Balkan provinces, 57 percent belong to the Oriental Churches , 9.2 per cent are non-Christian, 6 per cent are Protestant, and 27 per cent are Catholic. The only heathen are the Kalmucks living between the Ural and Caucasus mountains, the Finns of the Volga, and the Samoyedes. About 8,250,000 persons or 2.1 per cent of the whole population of Europe are Mohammedans in belief ; these are limited to several tribes of the Uralo-Altaic family in Russia, and to the former territories of the Ottoman Empire ; among the Mohammedans are a large portion of the Albanians, some of the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a part of the Bulgarians. The Jews of Europe number 9,000,000 or 2.2 per cent; they are to be found chiefly in Russia, in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Rumania, and Turkey. (The above figures are based on Hettner, op.cit. infra.)
European civilization is founded on that of the East; from Western Asia and Egypt Europe received its food-plants, domestic animals, method of writing, numerals, the beginnings of art and science, and the higher forms of state organization and religion. The various States of Greece, the European neighbour of Asia, transmitted these by trade and the foundation of colonies to the countries lying on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean and to Southern Italy. Rome from its central position imparted them to Western and Northern Europe and united the civilized parts of the continent into a great empire. At the time of its greatest extent imperial Rome included, on European soil, the present countries of Italy, Spain, France, England, Germany west of the Rhine and south of the Danube, the countries bordering on the Danube as far as the Black Sea, and the whole Balkan Peninsula, besides all the islands of the Mediterranean. Christianity, too, came from the East by way of Greece and Rome. The connexion existing between the various Roman provinces and the wide prevalence of the Latin and Greek tongues were most favourable to its spread. When the structure erected by the Caesars fell to pieces, the Christian Faith not only entered into its inheritance but also subdued all those barbarian peoples that had up to then defied the imperial power. The Gospel was brought to Rome by colonies of Jewish Christians who kept up close relations with Palestine, their mother country. St. Paul brought Christianity to Greece on his second journey (49-52 A.D.) when he founded, with the aid of Silas, Timothy, and Luke, Christian communities in Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens, and Corinth. St. Paul's great letters and his journeys to Italy, perhaps also to Spain, prepared the way for the close connexion between the Roman and Greek Christians and strengthened them for the work of spreading the Gospel. In fact the first persecution under Nero in 64 was not able to crush the new movement, and the same is true of the many other later persecutions.
Towards the end of the first century, under Clement, the head of the Church at that time, there was a close bond between Rome and Corinth. It is also to be assumed that in the meantime all the commercial cities on the coasts of the Mediterranean had Christians in their midst, and that before long the regions adjoining these cities accepted the Gospel. According to tradition the Church in Gaul was founded by Trophimus, who was sent there by St. Paul ; to Crescentius, a disciple of the Apostles, is ascribed the preaching of the Gospel in Vienne and Mainz ; and to Dionysius the Areopagite, the founding of the Church of Paris. To Eucharius and Maternus, two disciples of St. Paul, are attributed the founding of the Churches of Trier and Cologne. It is certain that flourishing dioceses arose in Lyons and Vienne during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-80). At the beginning of the third century, according to the testimony of Tertullian (Adv. Judaeos, i), various tribes of Gaul had accepted Christianity. At about the same date Irenaeus (Adv. haereses) speaks of Churches in Germany, and the new faith had at that time spread into all the provinces of the Spanish Peninsula. According to the Venerable Bede (Histor. gentis Angl., I, iii), the first missionaries came to England during the reign of Pope Eleutherius (177-90). By the opening of the third century the British Church had spread beyond the Roman possessions in Britain and may even have embraced Ireland. In the meantime the barbarians living along the northern boundaries of the Roman Empire had begun their migrations and predatory incursions. Along this border lived the tribes of the Teutonic family, divided by the Oder into the East Germans and West Germans. The East Germans included the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, Burgundians, Vandals, Heruli, Rugii, and Scyrri. The West Germans were divided into the Ingvaeones or Germans on the sea-coast, including the later Frisians and Anglo-Saxons; the Istvaeones or the Germans of the Rhine, including the Franks between the Weser and Rhine; the Hermiones, among whom were the later Thuringians and the upper German tribes of the Alamanni and Bavarians (Bajuvarii). As early as the years 161-80 the Marcomanni, a West German tribe, advanced as far as Aquileia ; they were defeated, but introduced northern elements into the population. After this failure the current of the migration divided into two streams: one to the south-east, the migration of the East Germans; one to the south-west, the migration of the West Germans. Of the East Germans, the Goths reached the lower Danube and the Black Sea and divided, according to these respective positions, into the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. In 375, on account of the pouring in of Asiatic hordes through the gateway of the nations between the Urals and the Caspian, the Ostrogoths came under the power of the Huns. The Visigoths, who were also hard pressed, retreated towards Transylvania and received land somewhat south of this from the Emperors Valens and Theodosius. When, after the death of Theodosius, the Roman Empire was divided in 395 into the Western and Eastern Empires, ruled respectively by his sons Honorius and Arcadius, the Visigoths under Alaric plundered Thrace and Greece and, with the permission of Arcadius, settled in Illyria. From here they pressed toward Italy and in 410 even entered Rome. They then turned towards South-Eastern Gaul and in 419 founded the first German kingdom on Roman soil, its capital being Toulouse ; they also conquered a large part of Spain. In 507 the Visigoths were forced to give up their possessions in Gaul to the Franks, and in 531 the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom was transferred to Toledo.
The recall from the Rhine of the Roman legions needed for the struggle against Alaric left the way to the south-west open to two other East German peoples, the Burgundians and the Vandals. The Burgundians, who had formerly lived between the Oder and the Vistula, crossed the Rhine in 406 and founded a kingdom having its capital at Worms; in 437 this kingdom was broken up by the Roman governor Aëtius, but another arose in 443 around Geneva and Lyons ; this, however, in 532, was absorbed into the Kingdom of the Franks. In 406 the Vandals left their home on the northern slope of the mountains called Riesengebirge, and in union with the Alani and Suevi passed through Gaul into Spain ; the Visigoths drove them out of Spain into the Roman provinces in Africa, whence for a long time they controlled the Mediterranean and in 455 ravaged Rome. In 476 Odoacer, the leader of the mercenaries made up of Heruli, Rugii, and Scyrri, seized the government and called himself King of Italy. At almost the same time the Ostrogoths in Pannonia were again free, as the power of the Huns was broken in the great battle on the Catalaunian Fields near Châlons-sur-Marne in 451. Theodoric, the King of the Ostrogoths, conquered Odoacer in 489 and created a kingdom (493-526) that embraced Italy, Sicily, a part of Pannonia, Rhaetia, and the Province; this kingdom went to pieces in 553. The Ostrogoths were followed by the Lombards, a tribe of the lower Elbe, who, passing through Pannonia, reached Italy in 568 under their King Alboin; it was not until 771 that the Lombards were brought under subjection by the Franks. All these peoples were to disappear in order, by their absorption into the civilization of Rome, to bring about the union of Christianity, the state religion of Rome since the time of Constantine the Great, with a more stable power, the united West Germans.
The West Germans, although their migrations were not very extended, had changed their habitations as follows: in the fourth century the Alamanni advanced into Alsace and in the fifth century took entire possession of it, spreading towards the north as far as Coblenz. The Franks were divided into the Ripuarian and Salian Franks ; the former settled on both sides of the middle and lower Rhine, the latter advanced from the Scheldt to the Somme. Towards the end of the third century the Saxons advanced from the Elbe to the Rhine; in the fifth century, with the aid of the Angles, they conquered Britain; the former inhabitants of Britain took refuge in Wales and France and gave their name to Brittany. The Frisians settled on the coast and islands of Schleswig-Holstein; the Thuringians spread from the lower Elbe to the southern bank of the Main. The Bajuvarii went farthest south. At the time of the birth of Christ they lived in modern Bohemia ; about 500 their territory extended from the Lech to the Enns and from the Danube to the junction of the Eisack and the Adige. The region occupied by the tribes just named enlarged the scene of European history; all that was now needed was the political and spiritual union of these peoples to make them the leading people of Europe. The political union was brought about by the Franks, the spiritual union by Christianity. In the end these were combined into a form of theocracy which, by a rapid series of victories, conquered not only Southern Europe, but also Middle and Eastern Europe as well.
Just as the fifth century passed into the sixth (481-511) Clovis, King of the Salian Franks, forcibly subdued the most important of the surrounding tribes; he led them to embrace Christianity after his own conversion. Clovis first united what was left of the Roman Empire on the Seine and Loire with his own domain and made Paris his capital. After this he subdued the Alamanni on the Rhine, Mosel, Lower Main, and Neckar; as the champion of the doctrines of Roman Christianity, he conquered the King of the Arian Visigoths near Poitiers (507) and seized the Visigothic territory between the Loire and the Garonne. By overthrowing the petty Salian chiefs and the royal family of the Ripuarian Franks, he made himself the ruler of all the Frankish tribes. The work was completed by his four sons, who seized the territories of the Thuringians and Burgundians, forced the Ostrogoths to give up Provence and Rhaetia, and obtained by treaties sovereignty over the Bajuvarii.
Thus was laid the foundation of the Franco - Christian Empire which opened to Christianity a new missionary field to be won over to the Faith only by properly trained apostles. The training was given in the monastic institutions which, in imitation of the East, had now spread over all of Western Europe. One of the chief factors in the conversion of the heathen was the Order of St. Benedict of Nursia, encouraged by Gregory the Great. The precursors of the Benedictines were St. Patrick (432) and St. Columba (about 550), who converted Ireland and Scotland, while the Anglo-Saxons received Christianity from the Benedictine Augustine (596), who had been specially sent by Rome. At the death of St. Patrick there were in Ireland several bishops, numerous priests and many monasteries ; his own see was Armagh. Columba founded the celebrated monastery on the Island of Iona, between Ireland and Scotland, which was the centre of the Scotch missions and dioceses. The Abbot Augustine and his companions erected the metropolitan Sees of Canterbury (Durovernum), York (Eboracum), and the see of London ; in the course of the seventh century the successors of Augustine, Mellitus and Theodore of Tarsus, completed his work.
A glorious band of self-sacrificing apostles of the Faith, from Columbanus and Gallus to Boniface, carried Christianity from the British Isles to the Continent. They founded their work on what scanty remains of Christianity still existed in the former Roman provinces. In the fifth century Severinus and Valentinus laboured in south-eastern Germany. They found the remains of nearly obliterated sees in Lorch, Pettau, Windisch in Switzerland, Chur, Basle, Strasburg, Avenches in Switzerland, Martigny, and Geneva, but the Teutonic migrations and the disorders consequent on them had almost destroyed the life of the Church. About 610 Columbanus crossed the Vosges mountains, where he had founded the monasteries of Annegray and Luxeuil, and came to Lake Constance; here from Bregenz as a centre he preached Christianity, while his companion St. Gall became the founder of the celebrated monastery of St. Gall. In the early part of the seventh century the monks Agilus and Eustasius, of the monastery of Luxeuil, preached the Gospel in Bavaria ; they were followed by Rupert of Worms and Emmeram of Aquitaine. St. Corbinian laboured as the first Bishop of Freising, and Kilian in Würzburg. Ecclesiastical life on the Rhine was largely developed by Bishops Nicetius of Trier, Cunibert of Cologne, Dragobodo of Speyer, Amandus, Lambert, and Hugo of Maastricht. The Gospel was brought to the Frisians by Wilfrid of York and Willibrord of Northumbria; the latter erected a see at Utrecht. Willibrord's companion, Suidbert, went into the countship of Mark in the region of the Weser, Lippe, and Ruhr Rivers; the brothers Ewald laboured with little success among the Saxons. An organization including all these countries was not established until the appearance of the greatest of the apostles of the Germans, St. Boniface. He entered on his career in the time of the Carlovingian Mayors of the Palace, who were destined to realize the union of Church and State in Western Europe.
Repeated divisions of the kingdom, disputes as to succession, civil wars, and the power of the nobles almost brought the great Frankish kingdom to dissolution. It was saved from utter ruin by Pepin of Heristal, Mayor of the Palace ( Major domus ), who gradually took control of the government. In 687 Pepin won for himself the position of Mayor of the Palace of Neustria and Burgundy, in addition to that for Austrasia which he already held; in this way he reunited the kingdom. He then undertook the conquest of the tribes which had broken loose from the Frankish rule and encouraged the missions to the West Frisians. His son, Charles Martel , who was not less active, held a position of such power that he was able, in the great battle of Poitiers, 732, to protect Christian German civilization against the attempt of Islam to conquer the world. Pepin the Short, the son of Charles, brought about the union of Church and State which had so great an influence on the history of the world. Having obtained the title of king in 752, his first task was to defend Pope Stephen II, who had appealed to him for aid, from the attacks of the Lombards; this was followed by the so-called "Donation of Pepin," a grant of territory to the pope which was the foundation of the later States of the Church. Their mutual engagements fixed not only their own policy but also that of their successors. Like Pepin, his famous son, Charlemagne, lent his support to the Holy See, and all his conquests were undertaken for the good of the Church and Christianity. By successful campaigns against Aquitaine, the Lombards, Avars, Saxons, and Danes, and by treaties with the Slavic peoples, Charlemagne increased his domain until it extended from the Ebro and the Apennines to the Eider River in Schleswig-Holstein, and from the Atlantic to the Elbe and the Raab. His kingdom became a world-empire and he himself one of the great rulers of history, worthy of reviving the Western Roman Empire. He was crowned, Christmas Day, 800, by the pope, and the new empire rested essentially on the basis of an alliance with the Church. Its ideal was the Kingdom of God on earth, in which the emperor by Divine appointment is God's viceroy in order to lead and rule all races as divided into nations, classes, and distinctions of rank according to Divine will.
Pepin the Short had been filled with this lofty conception; consequently extraordinary success attended the missionary labours of the Church under both rulers. As early as 716, under the rule of Charles Martel , the Anglo-Saxon monk Winfrid, better known as Boniface, landed on the Continent; he was to be the reformer and organizer of German ecclesiastical life. He always laboured in union with Rome, and was himself a missionary in Frisia with Willibrord, then, in 722, in Hesse and Thuringia, and in 736, in Bavaria. Having been made an archbishop and having received authority from Rome, he founded a number of monasteries, e.g., that of Fulda, and the Bishoprics of Eichstätt, Würzburg, Buraburg, and Erfurt. By means of synods held every five years he brought about the closer union between the old and new dioceses, and placed the newly founded sees in Thuringia and Hesse, as well as those of Speyer, Worms, Cologne, Utrecht, Tongern, Augsburg, Chur, Constance, and Strasburg, under Mainz as metropolitan see, of which he became archbishop in 746. In the reign of Charlemagne the large territories of the Saxons and Avars were added to the lands thus organized, and these new regions also received missionaries and bishops. The result was the founding of the Dioceses of Bremen (787), Paderborn (806), Werden, and Minden in the country of the Engern, Osnabrück and Münster (785) in Westphalia, Halberstadt and Hildesheim (817) in Eastphalia; the metropolitan of all the Saxon sees was Bremen (834). The conversion of the Avars had been attempted by the Bavarian Duke Tassilo II; when the East Mark was founded the Avars came under the influence of the sees and monasteries established in this country; after their subjugation they were placed partly under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Salzburg and partly under that of the Patriarch of Aquileia.
From these points, Christianity, as formerly in the Roman Empire, extended beyond the boundaries of Charlemagne's dominions, and new tribes and peoples were evangelized, while, at the same time, Christian civilization was peacefully established within the Frankish Empire. The monastery of Corvey on the Weser, and the Sees of Bremen and Hamburg (831) were the mission centres for the northern provinces. The monk Anschar of Corvey, first Archbishop of Hamburg, laboured with great zeal as Apostolic legate in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway ; his successors were equally active as missionaries and bishops. However it was not until the reign of Canute the Great (1014-35) that the victory of Christianity in Denmark was assured; in 1104 Lund was made the metropolitan See of Scandinavia; in 1163 Upsala became the metropolitan See of Sweden, and about the middle of the twelfth century Trondhjem was made the same for Norway. Iceland was won for Christianity about the year 1000 and was divided into the two sees of Skalhold and Holum. The inhabitants of the Orkneys, Hebrides, Faroe, and Shetland Islands were converted about the same time as Iceland ; they were at first placed under the metropolitan See of Hamburg- Bremen, which had been united in 849, and later under the jurisdiction of the metropolitan See of Norway.
During the period of the Teutonic migrations the Slavs had come into contact with Christianity and were converted partly by Christian rulers, as in Thrace, Macedonia, Greece and Dalmatia, partly through the influence of neighbouring Christian countries, as in Carinthia. In 806 the Bishop of Passau undertook the conversion of Moravia ; that of Pannonia was attempted by Archbishop Adalram of Salzburg (821-36). In both these countries a great missionary work was done by Cyril and Methodius; the latter, Methodius, became Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia. The work of converting Bohemia began in the year 845; the country was at first under the care of Ratisbon ; in 973 a diocese was founded in Bohemia itself at Prague, which was suffragan to Mainz. Poland was brought to Christianity by its ruler Duke Mieczyslaw (963), and in 968 he erected the Bishopric of Posen. In the year 1000 Gnesen was made a metropolitan see, its suffragan sees were Kolberg (1065), Breslau (1000), and Cracow (1000). Finally, in the reigns of Heinrich I and Otto I the northern Slavs, living in regions subsequently German, namely the Wends, including those living in Pomerania, as well as the Obotrites and Sorbs on the Oder, Vistula, and Elbe, in Lausitz, and Saxony were forcibly Christianized. The new Sees of Havelberg, Brandenburg, Meissen, Zeitz, Merseburg, and Oldenburg (Stargard) served as points from which the work of conversion could be carried on; Magdeburg was the centre of the entire Slavonic mission.
It was during this same period that the Greek Church spread through the eastern part of Europe. In 955 the first Christian princess of Russia, Olga, was baptized at Constantinople; during the reign of her grandson Vladimir, baptized 989, Christianity became the religion of the country. In 864 the Bulgars, at the command of their prince Bogoris, accepted Christianity as a people, and from 870 were under the ecclesiastical control of Constantinople. A bishop sent from Constantinople introduced Christianity among the Magyars, or Hungarians ; the work was completed by German missionaries sent in pursuance of the masterful policy of the Saxon emperors. The first Christian ruler of Hungary was Stephen (997-1038).
Many sacrifices, however, were still necessary in order to keep what had been gained for Christianity and to protect these gains against the threatened dangers of Mohammedanism and heathenism. These sacrifices were freely made by medieval Christian Europe. Under the careful training of their appointed guardians, the Catholic orders, the various nations and their rulers were filled with Christian thoughts and feelings. Although the conception of their respective positions held by the human representatives of the secular and spiritual power inevitably led to friction, especially in the age of the Hohenstaufen emperors, nevertheless all were conscious of their common duty to protect faith and civilization against foes both in Europe and outside of it. A convincing proof of this was the courageous struggle of Europe against the attempted inroads of Islam, and especially the expeditions of conquest to the Holy Land repeatedly undertaken by the various nations of Europe acting together. Spain, which since 711 had been almost entirely under the control of the Arabs, was able in 1212 to drive them as far back as Granada ; in 1492 Granada also fell. From 878 Sicily had been in the hands of the Saracens, but it was freed by the courageous Normans (1061-91). The so-called Crusades (1061-1244) continued with interruptions for nearly two hundred years; among those who shared in them were monks, as Peter of Amiens and St. Bernard; bishops, as Otto of Freising ; rulers of the greatest nations of Western Europe, as the German emperors, Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II ; the French kings, St. Louis and Philip II, and the English Richard the Lion-Hearted. Orders of knights, as the Order of St. John, were formed to take part in these expeditions. The original aim of the Crusades, the freeing of Palestine from the control of non-Christians, it is true, was not attained. But the power of Mohammedanism was weakened for a long time to come; the civilization of Western Europe, moreover, gained from the Orient the best the East had to give and thus was greatly aided in its development.
A more lasting success, however, followed the attempts, patterned on the Crusades, to carry on wars of conversion and conquest in those territories of northeastern Europe peopled by tribes that had lapsed from the Faith or that were still heathen ; among such pagans were the Obotrites, Pomeranians, Wiltzi, Sorbs, Letts, Livonians, Finns, and Prussians. The preparatory work was done in the twelfth century by missionaries of the Premonstratensian and Cistercian Orders. They were aided with armed forces by Duke Henry the Lion of Saxony, Albert the Bear of Brandenburg, Boleslaw of Poland, and St. Erik IX of Sweden. From the beginning of the thirteenth century Crusades were undertaken against Livonia, Semgall, a division of the present Courland, and Esthonia; Teutonic Knights conquered Prussia after a struggle that lasted more than fifty years. In Lithuania Christianity did not win the victory until 1368. After this only the Turks, in the south-eastern corner of the Continent, were a cause of alarm to Christian Europe for centuries. The decline of the power of the Eastern Empire drew the Turks over the Bosporus; in 1365 they had control of Adrianople ; in the course of the fourteenth century the Serbs, Bulgars, Macedonians, and the inhabitants of Thessaly became their subjects. In 1453 the Turks took Cons
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online