By the eighteenth century the English recognized that a unique constitution had evolved from the period of their Civil War. Basically unwritten, rooted in the common law, this constitution would contribute to a remarkable period of political stability. In 1765 an English jurist, William Blackstone (1723-1780), would prepare a lengthy set of commentaries on the laws of England in which the process dramatically accelerated by the English Revolution was described:
Our knowledge of all periods of history is changing rapidly, though not equally so.
Socially and intellectually less “respectable” than the established Lutheran and Anglican churches or the sober Calvinists was a range of radical sects, the left wing of the Protestant revolution. In the sixteenth century most of these were known as Anabaptists (from the Greek for “baptizing again”).
The first major question facing the leaders of central Europe after the revolutions of 1848 was whether Prussia or Austria would dominate the German Confederation. The “Big German” solution called for federation with Austria; the “Little German” solution called for separation from Austria or even from south Germany. The “Little German” program also meant Prussian domination of the non-Austrian states, and therefore became Bismarck’s goal.
One more empire was being formed during the decades before World War I, the only modern empire to be created by a non-European people. Even during their long, self-imposed isolation the Japanese had maintained an interest in Western developments.
To maintain order, the Christian community needed some authority to discipline or even oust those who misbehaved. It had to organize to survive in the midst of an empire originally committed in principle to its suppression. Prophets, or teachers, appeared in the very first churches, the informal groups of Christians organized by the missionaries; soon elders, overseers, and presidents followed.
This truly worldwide war, fought in the Near East, Africa, and the Far East, as well as in every ocean, made it clear that non-Continental events were no longer mere sideshows. The war in the Near East, in particular, would unleash nationalisms that continue to the present day.
In June 1867, the Dinner of the Three Emperors brought together Alexander II, czar of Russia, the czarevich (the future Alexander III), and the future emperor William I (then king of Prussia) at the Cafe Anglais in Paris to dine most royally, as the menu indicates. Guests had a choice of soups and could substitute fritters of beef brain steeped in Seville orange juice for one of the main courses. Otherwise all foods and wines were served to everyone.
Souffle a la Reine
Fillet of sole Venetian
Collops of turbot au gratin
In his Pensees (Thoughts), Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) remarked upon the transitions in history:
Rivers are roads which move, and which carry us whither we desire to go.
When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is of advantage that there should exist a common error which determines the mind of man, as, for example, the moon, to which is attributed the change of seasons, the progress of diseases, etc. For the chief malady of man is restless
curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose.
After the sack of Constantinople, the Latins elected Baldwin of Flanders as the first Latin emperor (12041205), and the title continued in his family during the fifty-seven years of Latin occupation. The Venetians chose the first Latin patriarch and kept a monopoly on that rich office. The territories of the Empire were divided on paper, since most of them had not yet been conquered.