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 of culture.
Then 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.
Commerce 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.
Then 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 idea grew.
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