Patriots and Tyrants - Marion Lansing



The Beginning of Nations

This map makes no claim to giving a complete representation of the principalities of Europe at any one time. That would be impossible in so small a space and confusing even in a larger. It aims rather to show where the peoples lived which in the progress of our stories have been evolving into nationalities which were to persist. The period of "Barbarian and Noble" gave the outline map of Europe fairly permanent boundaries, but left Christendom divided into innumerable small states and kingdoms. The keynote of this later period is the beginning of nationalities, and those which appeared in the stories of the text have been named and located, even though the beginnings were most shadowy.

Purpose of Notes

To the teacher or older reader, and to the thoughtful child, it has become plain already that this volume is far more than a storybook of patriotism. No story is put in without an educative purpose, and all the stories fit together like the blocks in a playhouse, making, when put one upon another, a complete structure. It is to emphasize the unity of the book and, by additional emphasis on the important points, by outlines, and by suggestive questions, to suggest ways of making the desired impression upon the child's mind that these Notes have been written. It will add to the child's interest in the heroes to talk over each tale and see what were the special ways in which this man and this period solved some of the questions of government, and so contributed to the world of to-day. Moreover, the mediaeval atmosphere throws a glamour over such necessary facts of civics as the reason for taxes and the injustice of taxation without representation. These points have been fully brought out in the text. It remains only to emphasize them and to help make the impression of the stories lasting.

The writings of the old chroniclers, on which many of the descriptions and incidents are based, are full of dramatic spirit. The attitude of these narrators to the events which they chronicled was very close to that of a child to historic happenings. For this reason their pictures can be made so vivid to the child that he will give them back in his own language. The more he pictures them and acts them over to himself, the more deeply will their facts and lessons be imprinted on his mind.


By dates
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest9 A.D.
Growth of the Venetian Republic400-810
Charlemagne's wars with the Saxons770-800
Reign of Henry the Fowler919-936
Saxon revolt against William the Conqueror1070
Destruction of Milan1162
Peace of Constance1183
Signing of the Magna Charta1215
Earl Simon's Parliament1265
Swiss Revolt1300-1315
Crowning of Robert Bruce1306
Battle of Bannockburn1314
Siege of Calais1346
Relief of Orleans1429
Organization of the "Beggars"1566
Founding of United Netherlands1581
Landing of the Pilgrims1620

By steps toward freedom
Teuton country saved from becoming a Roman province1st century
Venetian Republic formed and kept independent6th to 9th centuries
German-Saxon struggle for independence8th century
Anglo-Saxon struggle against the Normans11th century
Lombard League formed in Italy12th century
Magna Charta granted in England13th century
English representative government established13th century
League of Swiss Cantons formed14th century
Scotland made an independent nation14th century
France and England separated15th century
United Netherlands founded16th century
America colonized17th century

Three Teuton Boys

Next to the study of the history of our own country, nearest in the degree and in the character of the interest with which it should be regarded, comes the history of Germany . . . Jute, Angle, Saxon, Dane, Norwegian, Norseman, all were Teutonic in origin, branches of one great tree of nations, springing from the stem at different heights from the ground.


This is the picture of primitive German life which Tacitus gives. It is the irony of history that Rome trained in her armies the barbarians who were to destroy the empire. Yet we see that it was this intimate knowledge of Roman law and civilization on the part of the conquerors which saved to the Middle Ages the best of the ancient culture.

QUESTIONS: 1. Why were barbarian boys taken to Rome? 2. What kind of life did the Teutons live in the forests?

King Marbod

Germany was from the beginning leavened with a Roman element from which England was left free.


In King Marbod we have a perfect illustration of the evolution of a tyrant, in the strict sense of the word in which we are using it. We have added to our conception of a tyrant many qualities which went along with tyrannous rule, but by the real definition Marbod was a typical tyrant. Yet he founded the first Teuton city, probably the city of Prague.

QUESTIONS: 1. What changed Marbod from a patriot to a tyrant? 2. What acts made him seem to his people a tyrant?

Herman the Deliverer

Had these successes been unchecked, the Romans would have permanently occupied the greatest part of Germany; the Latin language and the manners of Italy might have prevailed as entirely over the language and manners of the Germans as they did over those of the Gauls and Spaniard, whilst the Teutonic tribes, pressed by the Romans on the Elbe, and by the Sclavonic nations on the Oder and the Vistula, would have been either gradually overpowered and lost, or at any rate would never have been able to spread that regenerating influence over the best portion of Europe, to which the excellence of our modern institutions may in great measure be referred. If this be so, the victory of Arminius deserves to be reckoned among the signal deliverances which have affected for centuries the happiness of mankind.


In this verdict of the importance of Hermann's victory, historians are practically agreed. In "Barbarian and Noble" we have seen the Teuton love of independence coming up against the Roman civilization. Here we review it from a different standpoint. It was this Teuton characteristic which, when combined with Christianity, made the difference between the ancient world and the mediaeval world. "The peculiar stamp of the Middle Ages is undoubtedly German."

It is well for us to go back to these early stories. We get from them a sense of the continuity of history and of the essential unity of the race,—that we are indeed all of one blood. The Indian life, which is the only part of our own history showing primitive conditions, lacks much that can be supplied only by these first stories of our ancestors.

QUESTIONS: 1. In what ways did the Romans deprive the Teutons of their independence? 2. Why did the Teutons object to the Roman taxes? 3. Why is the taking away of a people's language one of the worst acts of tyranny that can be practiced? 4. Why are we so particularly interested in these stories of the Teuton race?

The Story of Venice

Once did She hold the gorgeous East in fee;

And was the safeguard of the West: the worth

Of Venice did not fall below her birth,

Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.


There is nothing in history quite so perfect as the story of Venice. It illustrates the growth of a community unhampered, even stimulated, from without. It gives a picture of a primitive mode of life without the usual attendants of barbarian or savage participants. Its problems are the universal problems of governments, and it solves them one by one in a way which is as dramatic as it is obvious and intelligible. Above all, it throws round this development the picturesqueness and charm which one could find nowhere save in sunny Italy. This is a fresh story, which has not been worn threadbare by frequent telling, and ought to prove full of charm as well as instruction. We are often troubled in the struggles for independence by the fact that the people claiming rights may have no particular justice to back their claim. The right of the creator to his creation is delightfully clear-cut and obvious.

The later development of Venice, which is no less fascinating, will be described in the later books; in "Sea Kings and Explorers," in its commercial greatness, and in "Craftsman and Artist," in its arts and industries.

QUESTIONS: 1. What drove the people of northern Italy to build a city on the water? 2. What claim did the Lombard dukes and the emperors give as a reason why the Venetians should be subject to them? 3. What did the people of Venice reply? 4. How did they come to have a doge? 5. Who chose him?

Charlemagne and Wittekind

They [the Saxons] were a splendid people, and much of the best blood that now circles in the veins of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon origin is derived from them.


By common consent of posterity the Saxon Witikind, although all but the barest facts of his life are lost, has been singled out as the worthiest opponent whom Charles ever met. In legend the war reduces itself to a duel between the two. They fight in single combat for the prize of Saxony . . . The legend is not far from the truth. The baptism of Witikind marks the birthday of united Christian Germany.


This is distinctly a story with a moral. The young reader must come to see very plainly that a course of action may look entirely different from two opposite points of view. In "Barbarian and Noble" he saw the good side of building up an empire. Here he sees the other side, and he sees why an empire was not to succeed, because it takes little account of the liberty of the individual man or the small nation. The Saxon war is in history the darkest part of Charlemagne's career. "Its only excuse was its success," says one historian, and another, "Charlemagne was a terrible warrior, but he is chiefly distinguished for the fact that love of war was not his only incentive."

Our Christmas tree is borrowed from this old world tree worship of the Germans.

QUESTIONS: 1. What was Charlemagne trying to do? 2. The Teutons had fought for their language and their property. What added thing did the Saxons fight for? 3. Why was it better for civilization that this once they should lose, and take the religion of their conqueror?

The Choosing of a King

"It was a mighty step, full of consequences, this choice of Henry as king. Through it the rule of the Franks gave way to the rifle of the Saxons. Moreover, he was a. king chosen by election of the people. In this thought his choice may be considered as the beginning of the new German kingdom."

In this story of the choice of the first German king there are many points to be brought out. First, concerning Conrad: "This king," says a chronicler of the next century, "was so bent on the good of his fatherland that he sacrificed to it his personal enmity,—truly a rare virtue." Recall our explanation of "patriotism" or "fatherland-love" in the introduction. Here was a king who exemplified it. Again, notice the method of election,—nomination by the princes, acclamation by the people, with the raising of the right hand. Again, the way in which a war could start by a mistake. The Milanese war began through a failure of provisions. Again, Henry's attitude to the church: "It was enough to him to be king through the mercy of God and the choice of the people. No priestly ceremony was needed to make a German king."

QUESTIONS: 1. How did the war between Conrad and Henry begin? 2. How did Conrad show himself a true patriot? 3. How was Henry elected and how did he get his name of Henry the Fowler?

Henry the Fowler

By his wise policy and the consistent pursuit and enforcement of it, he laid the foundation of a great national system. Reading of his measures for the foundation of cities seems like reading a story of colonization; his extension of the boundaries of the empire entitles him to the praise of a conqueror, his victories over the Hungarians to that of a deliverer…Such is in brief the outline of the career and influence of this great king, of whom, if more was known, as favorable an idea night be formed as of Charles the Great or even as of the English Alfred. In him, just as in Alfred, is summed up the national hero, conqueror, colonist, deliverer.


The tenth century was the worst century in history. The reign of Henry is its bright spot. Here we see the beginnings of a nation in the work of civilization. "It is satisfactory," says Stillé, "to find that the real title of those princely houses who struggled for the headship or kingship of the country in early times was in almost all cases the real service they had rendered in resisting the barbarian invaders."

QUESTIONS: 1. How did there come to be walled towns, and men living in cities instead of tilling the ground as farmers? 2. How were these city dwellers to be fed at first? 3. How did there come to be knights and rules for these knights?

Hereward the Saxon

A brave hero, who tried to do his duty to his country in troublous and disastrous days, to wham failure and despair were unknown . . . In his character we find the germ of that self-reliant courage to which are due the greatness and freedom of our country.


The Saxon heroes of England are the first heroes with whom we are directly concerned as our ancestors. In "Sea Kings and Explorers" the story of the coming of the Saxons to Britain will be told. Back of that we need not go, since, as Freeman has put it, "for us the conquest of the land which afterwards became our own has an interest above all the other conquests of Rome. But it is a purely geographical interest. The British victories of Cćsar and Agricola were won, not over our own forefathers, but over those Celtic Britons whom our forefathers more thoroughly swept away. The history of our own nation is for some ages to be looked for by the banks of the Elbe and the Weser, not by those of the Severn and the Thames." That was true of the history before the coming of the Saxons to England. Looking back we rejoice that William was able to make England one kingdom, even at the expense of some misgovernment and suffering at the time; but we can accord honor, in spite of this, to the men of the eleventh century, who naturally looked at it from another point of view and were as truly defenders of freedom as their ancestors or their descendants. It should be remembered that both Normans and Saxons were of Teutonic stock. The family of John Harvard claimed descent from Hereward.

QUESTIONS: 1. The Danes and the Saxons had come together in Alfred's day. What two nationalities came together in England in Hereward's day? 2. To what great family of nations did both belong?

Frederick Barbarossa

There still remained at the heart of Lombardy the strong principle of national liberty, imperishable among the perishing armies of her patriots, inconsumable in the conflagration of her cities.


"By the great elements of nationality," says Thomas Arnold, "I mean race, language, institutions, and religion." We are studying the period of the rise of nationalities. These four things will be found to be the important elements in each.

The dramatic ways in which the conquered peoples were forced to show their submission are of interest in these tales.

QUESTIONS: 1. Was Frederick always a tyrant? 2. Was he ever a tyrant? 3. What rights did the Lombard cities want?

King John and the Barons

"The maxims of liberty handed down by the Germans speedily asserted themselves in a country so much less permeated by Roman ideas. England was the first to find the form of modern liberty."

The stories of the winning of English liberty touch most closely our own institutions, and should be dwelt upon with particular care. The story of the granting of the Magna Charta can be made to take its true place of importance when it has the cumulative force of all the efforts for liberty behind it.

QUESTIONS: 1. What is a charter? 2. Why did the patriots demand written charters? 3. The Teutons had given the spirit of liberty. What did the English give? 4. How were taxes and liberty made possible at the same time?

Simon of Montfort

We see, then, the foundations of the English Constitution laid in the thirteenth century.


"A land of old and just renown,

Where freedom slowly broadens down,

From precedent to precedent."

The three elements,—the spending of money, the need to gather a Parliament, and then the measures of that Parliament,—are here made very dramatic. This is the crystallizing of the old Teuton assembly, of which we have read in the stories of Wittekind and Henry the Fowler.

QUESTIONS: 1. How did Parliament come to meet regularly instead of only at the call of the king? 2. What new principle of taxation did the barons introduce? 3. How did representation of all classes in the national assembly begin?

The Men of the Forest Cantons

Men will tell of the shot of Tell

While the mountains stand in their places.


The story of Tell has been proved to be a legend, and the chroniclers who first wrote it out have been traced down; but the spirit of the Tell story is the spirit of the patriotism which was at that time animating the mountain dwellers of Switzerland. We must take care lest our striving for historic accuracy deprive the child of his rightful literary inheritance.

QUESTIONS: 1. What nation was founded by William Tell and the men of the forest cantons? 2. Of what other nations have we read of the founding?

Robert Bruce

Wha, for Scotland's King and Laze,

Freedom's sword will strongly draw,

Free-man stand, or free-man fa',

Let him on wi' me!

By Oppression's woes and pains!

By your sons in servile chains!

We will drain our dearest veins,

But they shall be free!

Robert Burns

Writer of the great national epic, sole recorder of the most heroic period of the national history, . . . John Barbour justly remains the most famous of the early poet-chroniclers of Scotland. But for his pen the passion of patriotism which gave Scotland a soul for four hundred years might have died with Douglas and Bruce.


As has been indicated in the text, these three pictures of Bruce should be used to turn the young reader to Scott's works, and to the Scottish ballads, and to Robert Burns as well. It will be found that all else of the Bruce story as it is told in the chronicles is a tale of bloody battles and weary wars.

QUESTIONS: What other movement for patriotism was taking place at the time of Robert Bruce's struggle for Scotland?

Queen Philippa and the Citizens of Calais

"In the story of the citizens of Calais we see patriotism carried to the point of giving one's life to save one's country."

This story has been put in not only for its charm but also to round out the conception of patriotism. Let the reader tell in what ways the heroes of the previous stories have shown their patriotism. Were these men fighting for liberty in general? No, they were giving their lives for the sake of their fellow men.

Joan of Arc

Thus the nationality of France was formed.


"There are many aspects," says Stillé, "of the story of Jeanne d'Arc . . . ; yet certainly on no surer basis can her fame rest in history than that she was the first apostle in France of that sentiment of national unity binding all her children together, in opposition to the separatism of the feudal policy, which modern Frenchmen believe to be not merely the nurse of all patriotism, but the inspiring motive of that ardent desire so characteristic of their countrymen at all time to be the leaders of civilization in France."

QUESTIONS: Besides fighting their battles for them, what did Joan of Arc do for the French nation?

The "Beggars" of Holland

Although this instrument [the Groot Privilegie] was afterwards violated, and indeed abolished, it became the foundation of the republic . . . It was a noble and temperate vindication of natural liberty . . . To no people in the world more than to the stout burghers of Flanders and Holland belongs the honor of having battled audaciously and perennially in behalf of human rights.


Bring out the difference between a republic and a monarchy, a hereditary system of rulers and an elective system.

QUESTIONS: 1. Of the foundation of what two other republics have we read the stories? 2. What was the third republic? 3. What was the fourth, and how did the Dutch struggle for liberty help in the end toward the founding of the United States?

The present volume, and its companion, "Barbarian and Noble," have dealt with the political side of the Middle Ages; "Kings and Common Folk" and "Cavalier and Courtier" will present the social side; and "Craftsman and Artist" and "Sea Kings and Explorers" will give the economic and industrial conditions.