Hey, look what I found on this website in the NAVPERS section on
U.S. Navy history (about 1/3 way down the page):
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
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.
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.
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