Machiavelli blamed the Italians’ loss of civic spirit on the church, attacked the temporal interests of the papacy for preventing Italian unity, and questioned the values of Christianity itself. Machiavelli evidently believed that the purpose of government was less to prepare people for the City of God than to make them upstanding citizens of this world—ready to fight, work, and die for their earthly country.
Down to 1500 society—both in western Europe and in Byzantium—was identical with the church. Everyone except the Jews belonged to the church. But the Jews were the only exception; any others who sought to leave the church or departed from its teachings were outside the law, and it was the duty of society to exterminate them.
A solemn formal reception at the imperial court usually dazzled a foreign ruler or envoy, even a sophisticated Western bishop like Liudprand of Cremona (d. 972), ambassador of the king in Italy, who has left us his account from the year 948:
French cultural leadership in the eighteenth century was preeminent. The key concepts of the eighteenth-century philosophes, or intellectuals, were reason, natural law, and progress. Philosophes, who expressed optimism in human abilities to apply reason, owed a debt to John Locke for their ideas on government and human psychology.
Under the direction of Diderot, philosophes produced the thirtythree-volume Emyclopédie, advancing views of progress and reason, exposing superstition and ignorance, and denouncing inequality in the light of natural law and science.
The first Slavic people to fall under Byzantine influence were the Bulgarians. From the time these barbarians crossed the Danube in the late seventh century, they engaged in intermittent warfare against the Byzantine Empire. At the same time, a Slavic people called the Moravians had established a state of their own. Their rulers associated Christianity with their powerful neighbors, the Germans, and feared both German and papal encroachment.
Defeat by the Germans, brutal German occupation and economic exploitation, the spectacle of French collaboration with the enemy—all this was followed by a liberation that, despite the part played in it by the Fighting French and the French Resistance movement, was clearly the work of American, British, and Soviet arms.
Byzantium was a great center of trade, to which vessels came from every quarter of the compass. From the countries around the Black Sea came furs and hides, grain, salt, wine, and slaves from the Caucasus. From India, Ceylon, Syria, and Arabia came spices, precious stones, and silk; from Africa, slaves and ivory; from the West, especially Italy, came merchants eager to buy the goods sold in Constantinople, including the products of the imperial industries.
In World War I soldiers and sailors were, for the most part, civilians, unused to military ways. Behind the front—subject to rationing and regimentation in daily living—families, too, were part of this great “total war.”
They, too, bore up under it, though in France in 1917, after the bloody failure of the “one big push,” civilian and military discontent almost broke French morale. And in Germany the armistice was the result, in part, of a psychological collapse under intolerable spiritual and material pressures.
Part of the Ottomans’ inheritance no doubt came from their far-distant past in central Asia, when they had almost surely come under the influence of China and had lived like other nomads of the region. Their language, their capacity for war, and their rigid adherence to custom may go back to this early period.
By the mid-1930s, many commentators believed that a second world war was inevitable.
A series of interconnected events, in China and Ethiopia, in Germany, Austria, and Spain, and sometimes faltering responses by Britain, France, the United States, and other nations, brought full- scale war ever closer.
Between 1931 and 1939, these events precipitated the world once again into war.