Category: Early History Rome till the Enlightenment

The Following was written by a guest to our blog looking at the City of God in the Context of the fall of Rome and the greater sphere of education;  please enjoy.

In this analysis I will be looking at Book 5, Chapter 24 of ‘The City of God’, summarising and looking
at it from an analytical perspective, taking into account both social and political contexts. St.
Augustine wrote ‘The City of God’ in response to the sacking of Rome in August 410AD directing ‘at
the paganism of an empire now in dissolution’ (Palmer, 2001: 26), due to the accusations that
Christianity was the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire.

This chapter of the ‘City of God’, a ‘Mirror of Princes’, was written by St Augustine to depict the
image of how Christian Roman Emperors ought to act. It criticises the Romans for not restraining
themselves in its strive for power and control, and forgetting that they were only temporal rulers of
the earthly city and that the power of the true God comes from God. Furthermore this was power
willing given by god to the Emperors and should be used as an extension of his worship to ‘promote
true religion’ (Deane, 1963:134), and the teachings of Christianity.

In addition Augustine continues on that Christian emperors should act both morally and religiously.
Be humble and not be surrounded by the sense of grandeur and power of those who honour them
with meaningless praise. This strive for praise makes virtues, not a true virtue, and pride is the root
of all sin. Augustine continues on that Christian emperors must be compassionate and be willing to
pardon those who have committed injustice, with mercy whatever severity of the crime, so that the
committee of the crime can amend their ways and be penitent before god, as all men are depraved
with sin and are fallen.

So in conclusion to my summery Augustine is stating that Christians emperors should be humble
not seeking out empty glory, ‘vain conceit’, and be restrained in searching for control and power.
Emperors should use their power as an extension of God to promote the true faith of Christianity
and its teachings. Emperors should also remember that they are in turn just men and only temporal
rulers of the plane and the God is the true ruler of all. As all men are fallen including the emperor,
and he as well as other men must be penitent and pray to God to forgive him for his transgressions
and sin.

When analysing this text, historical, political and social contexts is of the up most importance,
as Augustine writes this in response to the paganism of the falling Roman Empire which was on
a ‘Slippery slope of moral decline… Rome had free rein to indulge in selfish passions of greed and
domination, only the city of god in heaven was eternal and supreme’ (Baker, 2006).

To begin with, the beliefs of Augustine and the historical contexts are hugely interlinked, and must
be considered, when looking at this chapter. Given that Augustine was a theologian more than a
philosopher and furthermore that his works were not his own ideas about how to live a virtuous
life or how society should act but rather the Word of God, written from the scriptures, (Deane,
1963). He was also a preacher of the Word of God, so his audience would be the pagans who were
in dissolution, frighten at the events of the Sacking of Rome in 410 AD. Augustine saw his task as the
preacher to set forward the message of God’s Word, and defend the word of god against enemies of
the faith e.g. pagans. This was motive of writing the city of God, to defend the Word of God against
the accusations that Christianity was the reason of the Sacking of Rome.

However this may seem somewhat hypocritical when we look at the historical contexts of the

Sacking of Rome. The Sack of Rome was led by a leader of the Visigoth, or Goth tribe, who were

asylum seekers to Rome to escape the attack of the Huns. However they were met great difficulty
due to not having equal status in the eyes of the Roman Empire, this was due to the Romans being
anxious of the Goth tribes. However when the attempted assignation of leaders of the tribe failed,
Alaric saw this as just cause to fight for their right as citizens and as Christian. Alaric was a Christian
and so was the Goth Tribe, however they were far from virtuous, they killed and tortured the
Romans who were fleeing and looted the pagan temples. (Baker, 2006)

Additionally when looking at this chapter of ‘The City of God’, Augustine’s Theology can be seen
directly, especially his theology of the Fallen man, even more critically when he doesn’t condemn
Alaric’s behaviour as a Christian. The Theology of the fallen man stems from Augustine’s previous
work the ‘Confessions’ where he confesses the multiple sins he committed as a child but also in
adulthood. He comes the conclusion that it is in mans nature to sin, because when Adam and Eve
were condemned for ‘original sin’, by turning away from gods wishes and eating from the Tree of
Knowledge, therefore committing themselves to the root of all sin pride. ‘Disobedience and rebellion
against God, which had its root in mans pride and in his presumptuous desires’ (Deane, 1963: 16).
Augustine dictates in this chapter that the emperor must turn to the true God, and through prayer
ask god forgiveness for his sins, because this pride and ‘free-will’ to sin is what led to the sacking
of Rome, as the pagans turned their back on God, for pride and power to control vast amounts of

In regards to contemporary education in today’s standards, St. Augustine’s ideas are more idealistic
towards Christianity. With society today, especially in the United Kingdom, it has become secularised
and multicultural, so Augustine’s ideas of using power and an ‘extension of worship’ to promote
the true faith would be highly inappropriate, as this would ignore other faiths and beliefs in society.
The idea of teaching humbleness, and restrain against sinning or perhaps even classing this as bad
behaviour is rooted to religion, as some of the laws we see are based on teachings from the bible and
we cannot get past that as it’s in our history, such as the idea of morality and punishment for our
crimes may it be in this life or the next.

Perhaps this may be biased on my account due to being an atheist, and this has therefore led me to
the idea that his teachings in a modern-day perspective would not be effectively applied. Perhaps
by becoming secularised we are losing our restraint and are in a city of dissolution because we are
not ‘God-fearing’.

However when looking at this on a grander scale of more historical education of the middle ages, it
did supply some deviance on contemporary education, after the ‘dark ages’. Where most education
establishments were churches where future members of the clergy were taught how to read and
write in Latin, and when the protest church was created English.

Deane, H.A (1963) The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine. USA: Columbia University Press.

Baker, S (2006) Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, UK:BBC Books, pg 276-312

O’Daly, G (1999) Agustine’s City of God: A Reader’s Guide. . Oxford: Clarendon Press. pg 99-100

Palmer, J.A (2001) Fifty Major Thinkers on Education, , Oxon: Routledge., pg 25-29


The military success of the First Crusade from 1095 till 1099 at the fall of Jerusalem can be considered as a major military success. As to western Christians at the time the movement if Islam needed to be checked. The Islamic faith was beginning to expand through Spain and lower Italy and through Sicily, the later would be taken back by Norman and Frankish knights, who would make up most of the army in the First Crusade.  The Byzantine Empire initially called for military aid from the west to help stop the Seljuq Turks advance on their borders after a military set back at the battle of Manzikert in 1071 which meant that the Seljuq Turks would regain areas of importance like Antioch which historically including Jerusalem were main holy sites for the Christian faith. Asbridge would state that “At the start of the eleventh century, the church of the Holy Sepulchre, thought to enclose the site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, had been partially demolished by the volatile Fatimid ruler known to history as the Mad Caliph Hakim.” [1]  increased the tension between the West and East but the important idea is that Islam as a whole was not united as most Christians think. There was internal divides in the Islamic world that would actually in a way help the First Crusaders to victory.  The Islamic Chronicler Al- Azimi could see the coming of the Crusade and could see a link “between the fall of Toledo to the Christians of Muslim Spain in 461/1068, the taking of al-Mahdiyya in North Africa by the Normans of Sicily in 479/1086, and the coming of the Crusaders to the Levant.”[2] Show that some Islamic Chroniclers could see the on coming Crusade, but the action against was not unified.

The force which travelled to the Holy Land was in affect small compared to the estimated size that the Muslim armies could muster, some historians approximate the number between fifty thousand including women and children and it is possible that only one sixth of the movement was made up of the fighting force of the First Crusade. The fighting style of the Western armies where in a sense much different than its Eastern counterpart. The Muslim forces that of the Turks and the later Egyptians would use light cavalry to very good affect, even though after a time they adopted more Western style especially the Egyptians[3], and try to envelope an enemy and slowly begin to pick them off. This tactic would come into great affect at the Battle of Hatin in the second crusade. This was due to the Muslim armies adapting to the Crusading armies tactics which made use of the heavy horse or Knights .The comparative size of the army which is recorded by the papal Legate Daimbert who stated at the end of the crusade, gives us an idea on the size of the force before and after the first engagement at the siege of Nicosia stated that “an army 300,000 strong had been reduced to 20,000 be the battle of Ascalon[4] This does show the scale of the military force that the crusaders had but what is does also show in foresight is that it was a one way show for the Crusaders, if they lost one battle they could easily lose the Crusade.

A dividing difference is that the Muslim armies could easily replace their forces. An example of this would be that after the defeat at the battle of Hatin “The huge loss of Christian manpower on 4 July left the Kingdom of Jerusalem in a state of extreme vulnerability, because its cities, towns and fortresses had been all but stripped of their garrisons.”[5] even though this is years later during the second crusade, it underlines a problem that was present at the time of the First Crusade. The need for the crusaders not to lose as the manpower could not easily be replaced. This is also combined with the need of supply in a hostile territory, much noted at the siege of Antioch “The Crisis of supply saw the crusade come desperately close to failure. Albert of Achen says they had simply eaten up the resources of the surrounding countryside and the surrounding cities round about.”[6] Ralph of Caen also talks about “how food had to come from afar: Syria, Cilicia, Rhodes, Cyprus, Samos, Crete and Mytilene” [7] . Supply is an important part of any military campaign, it is remarkable that the train of supply was possible, in the later years it would become strained as the important sea ports of Acre and Antioch would be the only way for supplies and manpower to come into the Crusading kingdom after the first crusade due to the power of the Italian city states like Venice and Genoa, they would provide the logistical support. The sufferings of the Crusaders Raymond of d’Aguiliers writes how hard and stretched the supply line had become. It would provide an interesting insight into the future. “ and so the poor began to leave, and many  rich who feared poverty. If any for love of valour remained in camp, they suffered their horses to waste away by daily hunger.”[8] this is pivotal in the first crusade supply, once this supply had dried up the it would be the end of the First Crusade, this shows in the eventual fall of the Jerusalem.

There was one important factor of the First Crusade this was the division in the Muslim world  between Sunni and Shea. It would in directly help the Crusaders by not providing a unified force against them, as in a sense the main powers in the region Iraqi and Turkey and Egypt where in affect fighting amongst themselves. Muslim Chronicler Abu Shama states that “ Maliksha’s [two] sons, Barkyaruq and Muhammad, fought each other and the wars between them lasted for around twelve years until Barkyaruq died and the sultanate became established for Muhammad. In the period of these wars the Frankish appeared on the Syrian coast [the Sahil] and took possession first of Antioch and then of other parts of the country.”[9]. In a sense this really highlights the divisions in the Muslim world. This allowed the Crusaders to have impressive victories due to local rivalries in the areas an example would be the at the siege of Antioch three Muslim armies were present but not under one single command Fulcher of Chartres would say that “ We, however, by standing on another height opposite this citadel, guarded the path descending to the city between both armies, so that they, far more numerous then we, might not break through and by fighting within and without by night and day forced them to reenter the citadel gates and return to camp.”[10]. The scale of the odds against the Crusaders at Antioch should have meant a defeat for the Crusaders, but the disunity is highlighted by John France “most of the emirs of Kerbogah’s army this was a war for this or that advantage – that was the tradition in this fractured borderland of Islam.”[11]. This factionalism in the Muslim ranks would be the main reasons for the success of the First Crusade, but it would also highlight how much of a close run Victory the first crusade was, and how difficult it would be for any future Christian force to hold out against a united force. As would the later contribute to the fall of Edessa to Zenghi in 1144 this showed the effectiveness of a unified attack on a crusading force.

Over all it can be seen the military victories of the first crusade are a remarkable feet by themselves, but other factors contributed towards that victory. The disunity in east is the main example. With the victory as I have highlighted above came little problems that will arise in the future and how lucky in a sense the first crusade was in achieving its aims and objectives. John France states that it was “their belief in god and themselves, and their able commanders which gave them victory in the East.”[12] He also says which in a sense I have argued is that “Its success was limited in that it established bare outposts with poor communications with the west and uncertain relations with Eastern Christendom.”[13] John France argument is a realistic view it shows how hard it would have been to keep the land taken after the First Crusade.


Asbridge Thomas. The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land (London: Pocket Books 2010)

France John. Victory in the East: A military history of the First Crusade (Cambridge: University Press Cambridge 1994)

Hillenbrand Carole. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1999)

Phillips Jonathan. The First Crusade: Origins and Impact (Manchester: Manchester University Press 1997)

Peters Edward. The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press 1995)


Smith R Jonathan. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks; New Edition 2001)

[1] Asbridge Thomas. The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land (London: Pocket Books 2010).,pg28

[2] Hillenbrand Carole. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1999).,pg51

[3] See Muslim Warriors Image Smith R Jonathan. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks; New Edition 2001) .,pg230

[4] France John. Victory in the East: A military history of the First Crusade (Cambridge: University Press Cambridge 1994).,pg125

[5] Asbridge Thomas. The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land (London: Pocket Books 2010).,pg353/354

[6] France John. Victory in the East: A military history of the First Crusade (Cambridge: University Press Cambridge 1994).,pg236

[7] .,ibid.,pg236

[8] Peters Edward. The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press 1995).,pg159

[9] Hillenbrand Carole. The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1999).,pg83

[10] Peters Edward. The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and other Source Materials (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press 1995).,pg66

[11] France John. Victory in the East: A military history of the First Crusade (Cambridge: University Press Cambridge 1994).,pg294

[12] .ibid,pg373

[13] ibid.,pg371

The Edge of Union….Scotland ?

Been living under a rock the last few days, you would have noticed a certain document produced by the Scottish National Party, calling for Scottish Independence or even a system called Devo max which is basically all powers except defence and foreign affairs.  Returning to two separate states of Scotland and England, but still containing the Monarchy as head of state and the pound as the currency of choice. This would Return the Main Island of the British Isles into a system of dynastic Monarchy, not seen since the time of King James I or VI if you are from Scotland. Times of have course changed, and the power resides with each nations said parliament.



Above is the original concept of the Royal Badge of Union. The reason why the idea of Union failed under James was because most people thought that there would be no equal partnership between the two nations. Due mainly to England becoming a major player on the world stage with the establishment of James town and also various trading colonies in the Caribbean. You can understand Scotland fearing English interests would take priority. The Attempt to set up their own colonies failed dramatically under what became know as the Darien Scheme. ( There is some evidence that Scots believed that it was an English Plot).  After many political dealing which could fill up a few pages on the blog; and the promise of money and free access to trading markets, Scotland began to flourish under the Union over time economically that is. What really provided the tipping point is the Jacobite Rebellion, which in the end caused the defeat of the Highland system.( It is a dark period of British history.) It opened Scotland away from its backward system and began to evolve on itself into a powerhouse sector of the British state.



What is the point of this you are wondering. Well I am all for national sovereignty, and self-determination but the break up would be very messy. Who would get what. How would the debt be spilt up as the British government holds a lot of the debt. How about the mission in Afghanistan would it be a cut and run job. The UN security council seat as well do we lose it.  Not a lot of people realise England has a lot to lose as well, quite a bit of National income comes from Scotland, taxes and so on may have to go up to cover the costs. If Scotland leave the United Kingdom does not exist, as it really is these two nations. Sorry Wales.  If any one would like to tell me how the below works please tell me.


Her Majesty The
Queen would remain as Head of State and the social union with the remainder of the UK
would be maintained, with the nations continuing to co-operate on a range of matters.

Below is a link to the proposed referendum bill


Maybe we could move to a more federal system, but then the issue of each nation being equal comes to mind again. Oh well in the next few years we will see a political landscape change which would take us back to pre Civil war. See you on the Battlefield. ( not advocating there would be a civil war, just being odd).





After a very interesting seminar i pose this to you all. Was King Charles I a good King or Bad. The decision is for you to decide. Below are some basic concepts that will help you decide.

The Good

Managed to keep a Personal Rule going with out much of a political and economic reasons. ( before the call of the Long Parliament)

Managed to make peace with France and Spain, engaged in the Thirty Years war.

Provided a clear Chain of command.

A King Crucial to English Society

Good Court Leader

The Bad

Not Understanding the DIfferences in England, Scotland and Ireland. (Wales you were classed as part of England then).

War against other nations

Ship money Tax

Not understanding that the use of Catholic Irish troops on English Soil.

Attempt to place the English Prayer book on the Scottish people.

The History Guys view will be placed below in a few days.

After a very interesting talk with Mr Aslanian over a cold pint of beer, we came to talking about how technology went backwards; what would become know as the dark ages. Europe would not really rise from this period until some can be argued the Renaissance, or even the feudal period.


(Map of Anglo-Saxon Invasion)


Lets Take Britannia as an example, with the Anglo-Saxon landing’s in what would became known as Kent, and the melting pot that would become, of celtic and Scandinavian language. Would lead to the creation of England, it paved the way for the basic conception of said nation (even though England as we know it was split into Mercia, Wessex etc). What most people and some schools forget to mention is that the nation hood of the British Isles was already there. The Celtic people’s of Britain after the Romans left banded together under what would become known as the Romano British. It was a melting of British and Roman culture.

Two major centers of the Romano British

Londinivm Avgvsta (London: Major Trading centre)

Colonia Clavdia Victricensis Camvlodvnensivm (Colchester: Old Roman Provincial Capital)

With this the Romano British needed a important battle to in effect, halt the Saxon expansion into Britannia. Enter the Start of the King Arthur Legend and the battle of Bardon Hill (Mons Badonicus). That story is for another time. After a period of time the Britons would flee to settle in Wales and Brittany.


What is very good to note is that the Saxons would use the existing infrastructure in place to help control their new land. Below is a map of Britannia around 540.

Below is a translation of a first hand account of the Saxon Invasion

Liber querulus de excidio Britanniae. By Gilda





Well as we know the last few days in London; across England to that fact have been well manic. The outburst of looting and damages to shops and local communities, have been catastrophic. To be honest we have ourselves to blame in my opinion for not letting the Police in the past to just get on with the job. Example some one who I knew said the police were heavy-handed at the March for the Alternative, protest earlier in the year has completely gone back on his argument and even called for the army to be brought in. Now in that respect we can understand that the police were over stretched not due to budget cuts, which have not come into force yet, but only for back room staff. I can’t put my finger on though why this situation came to the surface. What caused this outburst ?

Well you have all seen the news, but I don’t want to make this a political post I want to bring you some other,  historical inputs which show pointless outbreaks of violence in London, like we have seen the last few days. Of Course most of you know about the battle of Cable Street, the Jarrow March and the battle of Bow Street between servicemen in at least 3 different respective countries. Not counting the incidents in the 1980’s, the Brixton race riots as an example.

These all had a cause but just look at the two below which I think you will find interesting and just pointless, and does not show london in a good light. I though I would post you the link to the detailed historical information. I put my hands up and say I don’t know that much about them. From what I can gather though it was just mindless violence, maybe it is in London’s blood I hope not.

1391 riots break out in Salisbury Place over a baker’s loaf

1221 riots occur after London defeats Westminster in an annual wrestling contest; ring-leaders hanged or mutilated in punishment.

Link to John Strype’s Survey of London and Westminster