The settlement in 1968 on the terms of a nuclear nonproliferation treaty to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the nations that already possessed them seemed to represent another step forward, but Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968 delayed its ratification.
Frequently, entire families had to work as a matter of sheer economic necessity. A factory worker testified before a British parliamentary committee in 1831-1832:
At what time in the morning, in the brisk time, did those girls go to the mills? In the brisk time, for about six weeks, they have gone at 3 o’clock in the morning, and ended at 10, or nearly half-past, at night.
What intervals were allowed for rest or refreshment during those nineteen hours of labour? Breakfast a quarter of an hour, and dinner half an hour, and drinking of ale a quarter of an hour.
Commodus (r. 180-192), the true son of Marcus Aurelius, proved to be a tyrant without talent. In the end, his closest advisers murdered him. After two other emperors had been installed and murdered by the Praetorian Guard within a year, Septimus Severus (r. 193-211), a North African who commanded the Roman troops in what is now Hungary, marched his army into Rome and disbanded the guard, replacing it by a new elite body chosen from his own officers.
Although intrigue and the violent overthrow of sovereigns remained a feature of Byzantine politics, the people developed a deep loyalty to the new ruling house that was established in 867 by the Armenian Basil I (r. 867-886) and called the Macedonian dynasty because of his birth there. As political disintegration began to weaken the opposing Muslim world, the Byzantines counterattacked in the tenth century. They captured Crete in 961 and Antioch and much of northern Syria in 962.
The emperors immediately following Constantine were Arians until Theodosius I (r. 379-395), who in 381 proclaimed orthodox Nicene Athanasian Christianity to be the sole permitted state religion. All those who did not accept the Nicene Creed were to be driven from the cities of the Empire. The Empire, East and West, was united under Theodosius, but his sons Arcadius (r. 395-408) and Honorius (r. 395-423) divided it, with Arcadius ruling at Constantinople.
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.
On October 1 the first and only Legislative Assembly elected under the new constitution began deliberations. No one faction commanded a majority in the new Assembly, though the Center had the most seats. Since they occupied the lowest seats in the assembly hall, the deputies of the center received the derogatory nickname of the Plain or Marsh.
As defenders of the faith against hostile invaders, the Byzantine emperors fought one war after another for eleven hundred years. Sometimes the invaders were moving north and west from Asia: Persians in the seventh century; Arabs from the seventh century on; and Turks beginning in the eleventh century. Byzantium thus absorbed the heaviest shock of Eastern invasions and cushioned the West against them.
There was throughout the West a growing interest in scientific inquiry that served to unite peoples.
Science had always been international, since ideas cannot be restrained within the borders of a state, but technology—that is, the application of science to practical ends—may for a time be held within the confines of a single nation through legislation or restrictions on immigration.
Thus England, France, and the German states were cautiously setting themselves apart from the ready acceptance of all logic as deriving from churchly authority.
Many similarities to the Biblical account of Noah’s ark and the great flood are found in the epic of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk. This epic predates the epics of Homer by 1500 years and is, in the eyes of many scholars, the first major contribution to world literature. Composed about 2000 B.C., the epic tells of the Great Flood in the following words: