The Capetians next moved to take over the rich Mediterranean south. Its people belonged to the heretical church of the Cathars, with its center at the town of Albi. Hence, they were called Albigensians. They believed that the history of the universe was one long struggle between the forces of light (good) and the forces of darkness (evil).
Henry VII (r. 1485-1509) was descended from a bastard branch of the Lancastrian family. His right to be king, however, derived not from this tenuous hereditary claim but from his victory at Bosworth and a subsequent act of Parliament. The new monarch had excellent qualifications for the job of tidying up after the divisiveness of civil war.
From the hand of Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War, we have an account of Pericles’ famous speech, delivered in the winter of 431 B.C., exhorting the Athenians to greater efforts by describing the ideal of an imperial democracy:
In 1663 in Dalmatia portions of a manuscript known as The Satyricon were found. This bawdy satire is attributed to Petronius (d. A.D. 65), one of Nero’s court officials. Though undoubtedly exaggerated, the work tells us much about contemporary attitudes and practices among the most wealthy and leisured. One of the longest sections is an account of a lavish banquet given by the newly rich and ultra-vulgar Trimalchio.
From these and other songs Athens developed the art of tragedy. At first largely sung as choral hymns, the tragedies later began to deal with human problems, and individual actors’ roles became more important. The first competition to choose the best tragedy was sponsored by Pisistratus in 534 B.C., and annual contests were held thereafter. Many hundreds of tragedies were written; comparatively few have survived in full, but we have fragments of others.
The Soviet Union and the countries of eastern Europe were not exempt from the cycle of prosperity, growth, economic stagnation, and social and political unrest, even though they could prevent the unrest from getting out of hand or from being made known outside their borders.
Problems for the Soviet leadership proved to be fully as difficult as those faced by the Western democracies, but totalitarian states did not have to engage in divisive public debate over how to allocate resources.
After 1867 many Czechs argued that the lands of the Crown of St. Wenceslaus, a martyred prince of Bohemia (d. 929), possessed rights comparable to those that the Magyars had successfully claimed for the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen (c. 975-1038), who had been crowned as first king of Hungary in 1001.
The most important of the returning Bolshevik exiles was Lenin. His real name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov (1870-1924), but in his writings he used the pen name Lenin, to which he sometimes prefixed the initial N, a Russian abbreviation for “nobody,” to tell his readers that he was using a pseudonym.
Augsburg’s total population at the height of Fugger power probably never exceeded 20,000. One set of estimates for the fourteenth century puts the population of Venice, Florence, and Paris in the vicinity of 100,000 each; that of Genoa, Milan, Barcelona, and London at about 50,000; and that of the biggest Hanseatic and Flemish towns between 20,000 and 40,000. Most Europeans still lived in the countryside.
A tension runs through Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Its hero struggles against reality, and in his aspirations he is ennobled even in a world where evil often triumphs. This class work is the source of our word quixotic.