Hey, look what I found on this website in the NAVPERS section on U.S. Navy history (about
1/3 way down the page):
"Swarming out of the north, these
ferocious barbarians-Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals-fell on Rome like an avalanche of
tigers. They fauna the Romans fat, juicy, pickled in alcohol, and to their taste. When
the barbarians returned to their northern homelands, the Roman Empire lay in fragments,
and even the culture which Rome had borrowed from the Greeks was buried in the ruins.
Europe plunged into an age of darkness that set it backward a thousand years. Tyranny
was rampant as individual feudal lords gained control, robber barons pillaged the continent,
and the average man became a dull-witted serf living in want, fear, voiceless humility,
and hobgoblin superstition. Only the Christian Church struggled to keep alive a spark
came the Moslem invasion of Europe. The Arabians were rallying to the call of Mohammed,
who called himself the "Prophet of Allah," and preached a religion of fire and sword.
"We Arabians are destined to rule the world," they cried. This was some eleven hundred
years ago, and they nearly succeeded. For three hundred years the struggle against the
Mohammedans lasted. The Christian armies, referred to as the Crusaders, played an important
part in stopping the threat to Europe. And upon returning home, they brought back into
Europe a renewed knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography that had been
all but lost to Europe's people since the fall of Rome.
started up again, ships put to sea again, people began thinking again, and Europe woke
up to enter that period of history known as the "Rebirth"-the Renaissance. And? And
a bright, new page was turned in the story of man's struggle for freedom.
an amazing event took place. In England a group' of barons and knights cornered King
John at a place called Runnymede and forced him to sign a document guaranteeing them
certain rights. "Just which ones doesn't matter. What matters .is that a group of men
were demanding their rights from a king, a being hitherto considered unapproachable
on this subject. And you can see this document today-the Magna Carta, or "Great Charter"-man's
first big step toward a constitutional form of government.
The Magna Carta fired
the minds of all who heard of it back there in the year 1215. It showed how power could
be used to obtain rights as well as to withhold them. And this revelation made an echo.
In France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain-the maritime countries in contact with England-the
Other people-the Netherlanders and Italians, for example-kept in step
with the English and wrenched a little liberty from their sovereigns. Venice set up
a sort of republic that became one of the most progressive in Medieval Europe. It was
Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant, who expl6red all the way across Asia to China, and
brought back vivid tales of the Far East.
These tales of the rich Far East, magnified
by a wealth of imagination, started a treasure-hunt for gold. Eager faces turned toward
Damascus and Bagdad; adventurers embarked on the long overland journey for India and
China. If they came back with little gold, they did return with cloth, porcelain, drugs,
and spices which they could sell for gold.
But the fierce followers of Allah's Prophet straddled Asia
Minor, and made overland travel deadly dangerous. If only another route to the Orient
could be found-a sea-route around the dark coast of Africa."
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
"Those who cannot
remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santanyana