Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE CRUSADES. The Crusades were a series of attempts made from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries by the nations of Europe to gain possession of the Holy Land. It was customary in these times for persons to make superstitious pilgrimages to Jerusalem, to visit the Holy Sepulchre, and other places connected with the life and death of Christ.

Now the pilgrims to Jerusalem were often treated with cruelty and scorn by the Turks, who held possession of Jerusalem and the country around it. The pilgrims returned to Europe, and gave an account of the treatment they received. This excited the indignation of the Christians, and they were easily induced to unite in a great effort for taking the Holy Land from the infidel Turks.

Peter the Hermit was the principal agent in exciting the people to the first crusade. He was a French monk, and went about bareheaded, with a rope round his waist, and wearing a garment of coarse cloth.

Peter had been in Palestine, and had experienced the insults of the Turks; he therefore spoke of things he had seen, and the people listened with a willing 'sympathy.

On he went from city to city, and every where crowds came to hear him. There was soon such a state of excitement, that the princes assembled, and armies were speedily gathered for the enterprise. Thus in the year 1096, Peter set out with two hundred thousand men. He carried a 'ponderous cross upon his shoulders, and his followers wore crosses of red cloth sewed upon their clothes.

But scarcely had this army landed in Asia, when sultan Solyman attacked them, and made a terrible slaughter. As a trophy of his victory over the poor creatures, he

built a pyramid of their bones. Other armies of crusaders met with similar misfortunes. ..

It is computed that eight hundred and fifty thousand Christians lost their lives in the course of this first crusade. And all this slaughter took place before they had even come in sight of Jerusalem.

There was another army, however, belonging to the first crusade, that had better success. This consisted of eighty thousand men, and was led by a French prince called Godfrey of Boulogne. He proceeded through Asia Minor, took several cities, and captured Jerusalem in 1099. From this period till the year 1187, the Holy City remained in the hands of the Christians, when it was again captured by the Turks, in whose hands it has since remained.

No less than five other crusades took place; the last being commenced in 1248. This, with most of the others, proved unsuccessful. The whole number of men who lost their lives in these wild expeditions was not less than two millions.

It appears that many of the crusaders were good men, and some, perhaps, were wise ones. But a large portion of the armies were of a different character. Some were half crazy people filled with a false religious zeal, and a larger portion were thieves and robbers, who joined the expeditions that they might share in the plunder of cities that should be taken.

But although the motives of many of the crusaders were selfish, though the great object of these expeditions was not very important, and though much slaughter and bloodshed flowed from them; still the half barbarous inhabitants of Europe brought from the East many arts that tended to refine and civilize the people. In this, and other ways, the crusades produced some good results.

1 Vide Root.

RUSSIA. ALTHOUGH ? Russia is such an immense empire, it was a country of barbarians till within little more than a hundred years. It cannot be said to have taken a rank among 'civilized nations till Peter the Great ascended the throne.

The emperors of Russia are called 'czars. When the czar Peter was twenty-five years old, he left his throne, and travelled over Europe in search of knowledge. He did not go to any of the learned universities, nor apply himself to the study of the 3 dead languages. That was not the sort of knowledge which Peter wanted. The first thing he did was to go to Holland, and put himself apprentice to a ship-carpenter; the house is still standing where he used to live while there. He afterwards went to England, and followed the same trade as in Holland.

Besides learning the business of ship-carpentry, he took lessons in other branches of mechanics, and also in surgery. In short, he neglected no kind of knowledge which he thought would be useful to himself or his subjects. .

Peter died in 1725, at the age of fifty-three, and was succeeded by his wife, the empress Catherine ; but she reigned only about two years, and was succeeded by her husband's grandson, named Peter the Second. He died in 1730, and left the throne to Anne Jwanowna, his niece.

The successor of Anne was the princess 4 Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great. She mounted the throne in 1740, and reigned twenty-two years. Her successor was Peter the Third, who began to reign in 1762.

He, like Peter the Great, had a wife named Catherine.

1. Vide Root. 2. Ancient name Muscovy. 3. The languages of nations considered dead,- the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. 4. Elizabeth abolished the punishment of death. She nearly ruined Prussia by a war. 6. Catherine II. in 1772, took part in the division of Poland between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. 6. Alexander lost the great battle of Austerlitz, and was obliged to make peace in 1807.

7. 1812.

They had not long sat together on the throne, when she contrived to 'depose Peter, and it is supposed that she afterwards caused him to be murdered.

But although so wicked a woman, “ Catherine II. was endowed with admirable talents, and she became one of the most illustrious sovereigns in the world.

In 1796, when she died, Catherine was on the point of driving the Turks from their territories. If she had succeeded in doing so, she would have governed the whole of the vast region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

She was succeeded by her son Paul, who was then forty-three years old.

The czar Paul possessed none of his mother's talents, and was of a very stern and unamiable disposition. People suspected him of being insane. His conduct grew so intolerable, that some of his principal nobles conspired to kill him.

Paul was succeeded by Alexander, his eldest son. This emperor reigned from 1801 till 1825. He was engaged in war with the emperor Napoleon, who, in a second war, 'penetrated with his army to the city of Moscow. But the Russians ? burnt that ancient capital of their country, and its destruction ruined the French army.

The present czar of Russia is named Nicholas.

GEOGRAPHICAL.--Area, 7,880,000 square miles. . Population, sixty-five millions.

What lines of latitude and longitude bound Russia in Europe ?
What'states, oceans, and rivers, bound the Russian empire ?
Write the names of its seas, its lakes, its islands, its gulfs, its mountains, and its

rivers. Write the names of the places situated on the rivers Volga, Don, Dnieper,

Dniester, Dwina, Neva, and Fornea. When noon at London, what is the time at St. Petersburgh, and at the extremity

• of the Russian empire,-Bebring's Straits? CHRONOLOGICAL.-Christianity introduced, and recognised by the State .... 987.

Russia delivered from the yoke of the Monguls by Jvan or John the Great, 1481. Peter the Great ascended the throne of Russia ........................ 1688. Peter gained the battle of Pultawa over Charles the Great of Sweden.... 1709. The Poles fought for their freedom in 1830, but were subdued in ........ 1831,

ASTRONOMY.

Measurement of Time. The notion of time is suggested by the succession of changes in the universe. Time, like space, is indivisible, but as by observing the distance of bodies from each other we get the idea of the measurement of space; so by comparing the length of any two motions we get at the idea of measuring time. Time is defined poetically to be a fragment of eternity ; but philosophically, the measure of duration.

The descent of a heavy body to the earth from a given height, if repeated under precisely similar circumstances, will in every case be performed in the same 'interval of time.

Suppose that a number of heavy bodies fall to the ground, one after the other, from the same height, (the descent of the second and each succeeding body, commencing at the instant in which the body that 'preceded it has reached the ground,) the whole time occupied by the fall of these bodies will be divided into equal portions, one of which may be assumed as the measuring unit of time.

The 'vibrations of a 'pendulum, performed under precisely the same circumstances, are employed for estimating the smaller portious of time; the larger portions are determined by the motions of the sun, from which arise the 'vicissitudes of day and night, and the changes of the seasons.

The day, in civil life, is the time that elapses between the rising and the setting of the sun; and the night, the time between its setting and rising. The astronomical or solar day, on the other hand, comprehends the whole period of the sun's 'diurnal ? revolution, and is reckoned

« AnteriorContinuar »