The Great Epoch in the Annals of Popery

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As the empire of Charlemagne is in a peculiar manner connected with the history of the church, and forms the great epoch in the annals of the Roman See, it demands a fuller consideration. Roman catholicism was just about as much indebted to that great prince, as Mahometanism was to the great Arab prophet and his successors. "The Saxon wars of Charlemagne," says Milman, "which added almost the whole of Germany to his dominions, were avowedly religious wars. If Boniface was the Christian, Charlemagne was the Mahometan, apostle of the gospel. The declared object of his invasions was the extinction of heathenism, subjection to the christian faith, or extermination. Baptism was the sign of subjugation and fealty; the Saxons accepted or threw it off according as they were in a state of submission or revolt. These wars were inevitable; they were but the continuance of the great strife waged for centuries from the barbarous North and East against the civilized South and West; only that the Roman and Christian population, now invigorated by the large infusion of Teutonic blood, instead of awaiting aggression, had become the aggressor. The tide of conquest was rolling back; the subjects of the Western kingdoms, of the Western empire, instead of waiting to see their homes overrun by hordes of fierce invaders, now boldly marched into the heart of their enemies' country, penetrated their forests, crossed their morasses, and planted their feudal courts of justice, their churches, and their monasteries, in the most remote and savage regions, up to the Elbe and the shores of the Baltic."
The Saxons were divided into three leading tribes, the Ostphalians, the Westphalians, and the Angarians. Each clan, according to old Teutonic usage, consisted of nobles, freemen, and slaves; but at times the whole nation met in a great armed convention. The Saxons scorned and detested the Romanized Franks, and the Franks held the Saxons to be barbarians and heathens. For three-and-thirty years the powerful Charles was engaged in subduing these wild Saxon hordes. "The tract of country inhabited by these tribes," says Greenwood, "comprehended the whole of the modern circle of Westphalia, and the greater portion of that of lower Saxony, extended from the Lippe to the Weser and the Elbe; bordering to the northward upon the kindred Jutes, Angles, and Danes; and to the eastward of Sclavic origin, who had gradually advanced upon the more ancient Teutonic races of Eastern Germany." But we must limit ourselves chiefly to the religious aspect of these wars; still, it is interesting at this moment to study these ancient records, as we have just witnessed the conclusion of the great war of 1870-71 between the descendants of the Franks and Germans of antiquity.