BY 1500, the date at which we have chosen to end this book, the flowering of medieval European civilization which accompanied the great population explosion of the years from 1000 to 1300 was already in the distant past, as far away from the men of that time as the ancien régime before the French Revolution is from us. The immediate effect of the period of expansion had been to create a society in western Europe in which the evidence of uniformity and the pursuit of common purposes had been strong. We see this, for example, in the enterprises of the crusades which began in 1094 and extended with varying intensity and success until the late thirteenth century. Crusading armies were drawn from the knightly aristocracy of England, northern France, and Germany. They also involved ships from the Italian commercial cities and soldiers from Sicily and Catalonia. Kings such as St Louis of France and Edward I were still drawn across the Mediterranean by the impulse to free the Holy Land and attack the Muhammadan in the middle of the thirteenth century.
If we look more closely at the internal structure of civilization before 1300 we shall also see widespread evidence of a common culture and a tendency towards common ideals and even centralization, especially in the world of religion. From one point of view the most remarkable creation of the medieval world was the papacy. By the mid-thirteenth century priests throughout Europe to the west of the area dominated by the Greek Orthodox Church had become willing to accept the authority of Rome in matters of doctrine, in the judicial power to settle disputes involving benefices, in the power of veto over appointments of bishops and even in the levying of heavy taxation. The power of the pope was of course very imperfect, limited by the resistance of kings who wanted to control churches in their kingdoms and by the wish of lords to appoint their relations to churches on their estates. It was to some