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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / The first hundred years
(1969)

I: Western Europe on the Eve of the Crusades,   pp. [2]-29 PDF (10.8 MB)


Page 22

 22 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
their political organizations were essentially borrowed from the German state.
Russia on the otherhand was thoroughlyByzantine. The princely descendants
of the Viking Rurik had been converted to Christianity by Byzantine missionaries
and their commercial and diplomatic relations were largely with Constantinople.
Kiev was a Byzantine city. Its churches were Byzantine in style and its scholars
pursued Byzantine learning. By the latter part of the eleventh century the
conquest of the steppes north of the Black Sea by the Pechenegs made actual
communication with Constantinople difficult, but this did not affect the
basic tone of Russian culture. 
 The Asiatic wedge that divided the Slavic peoples consisted of two distinct
elements. The Pecheneg masters of the Black Sea steppes held the northern
bank of the Danube as far as the Car pathian mountains. The Hungarian plain
was occupied by the Magyars. After their crushing defeat by the emperor Otto
I the Magyars had gradually settled down in Hungary. Toward the end of the
tenth century prince Géza united the Magyar clans and brought in missionaries
— chiefly from Bohemia. His son Stephen organized Hungary as a Latin
Christian state. The land was di vided into counties and dioceses, and in
the year 1000 Stephen was crowned king with the approval of the pope. On
the eve of the crusades Hungary enjoyed a period of prosperity and comparative
peace under the strong hand of king Ladislas I (1077—1095). His successor,
Coloman, was to face the problem of handling the cru sading armies marching
down the Danube. 
 This period saw the southern Slays largely dependent on other peoples. In
1018 the Byzantine emperor Basil II, called "the Bulgar-slayer", finally
crushed the Bulgarian state and incorpor ated it into his empire. Despite
fierce revolts in 1040 and 1073 the Bulgars remained Byzantine subjects for
over a century. The Serbs were divided into many tribes under local princes.
Sometimes one of these princes would be recognized as a paramount chief,
but such authority was usually short-lived. All the Serbian princes acknowledged
the overlordship of the Byzantine emperor, but only under extremely strong
rulers did this relationship have any mean ing. As a rule the Serbs were
independent and divided. To the north of Serbia lay Croatia. In the last
years of the eleventh century Croatia was a separate state ruled by the Hungarian
kings. In culture and religion the Bulgars and Serbs were By zantine while
the Croats were Latin. 
 While the peasants were improving their agricultural methods 


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