The stories in these books recount the growth of freedom and liberty among citizens of the middle ages, beginning with German chieftains' conflicts with the Romans, and ending with the Dutch revolt against Spain. Many patriotic heroes are introduced, including Hermann, Wittekind, Hereward the Saxon, Simon de Montfort, Robert Bruce, William the Silent, and many others.
Mediaeval Builders of the Modern World
History has no period which makes a more vivid appeal to the young reader than the thousand years which we call the Middle Ages. The mediaeval world is just such a world as he would like to live in, where knights ride off on crusades, and kings wander out from their palaces in disguise; where heroes sail away to explore unknown seas, and gay cavaliers sally forth to tournament and joust. It requires no effort to interest boys and girls in this part of history. They turn to it with the enthusiasm with which they seize fairy tales and legends of chivalry and romance, and find in its reality a satisfying response to the desire for a true story.
The child's interest being assured, the problem is to make this interest of use in the process of his education. The purpose of this series is to relate this fascinating and heroic past to the present by telling the stories from the point of view of the contribution of the Middle Ages to the world of to-day. The heroes gain a new importance and the stories a new meaning by this treatment. Who the "mediaeval builders" were may be seen by the titles of the following books, which make up the series: "Barbarian and Noble," "Patriots and Tyrants," "Kings and Common Folk," "Craftsman and Artist," "Cavalier and Courtier," "Sea Kings and Explorers."
Patriots And Tyrants
So all true history might be characterized, and especially such stories of the growth of freedom and of the beginnings of government as these tales of "Patriots and Tyrants." We are apt to take our liberties as a matter of course. It is good for us to recall how hardly they were won and how dearly prized by our ancestors. The Teuton barbarian brought to the world the love of personal independence. It has taken him fifteen centuries to work it out into our modern systems of government, and in the process all our nations have been founded. In these stories that development is pictured. We see how every patriot was working for the universal rights of man. The author has tried to guard against special pleading for the heroes. The tyrant had often something of the patriot, and the methods of the patriots might seem to modern judgment to savor of tyranny. But it took them all to build up the free governments of to-day. Our American struggle for liberty gains new importance when it becomes the culmination of fifteen centuries of effort in the Old World.
So this book becomes to the child a textbook of civics in story form, in which each of the great foundation principles of liberty appears in its picturesque mediaeval beginnings.