For a while the Papacy, spent by its great effort of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, went to pieces. The Latin ideas for which it stood began to lose ground rapidly as Dante created the Italian language (1300), and as, in the course of the next two centuries, French, English, and German assumed definite literary shape. There was not only a loss of faith in Latin forms, but a desire to transmute religious doctrine into the new modes of language, and especially to have a vernacular Bible. Assailed in this manner, Rome stimulated theological studies, helped to create the mediæval universities, and tried to revivify the philosophy which Alexandria had given her in the creeds by going back to the texts of the golden age of Greece with Aquinas.

It was of no avail. Europe felt a new life, a new nationalism moving within her. Voyages of discovery to India, to America, first stirred imaginations, and later poured into the itching palms of ambitious statesmen, soldiers, artists, vast stores of gold. The pulse of the world beat quicker. Constantinople fell, a thousand years after its foundation, into the hands of the Turk, and its stores of manuscripts, of art, of craftsmen, poured into Italy. Men became inventors, innovators, artists, revolutionaries. Cesare Borgia attempted, but failed, to create an Italian empire. Martin Luther attempted to secede from the Church, and succeeded.

He declared that a man could save his soul by the grace of God only, and on that basis started a wrangle of ideals and of wordy disputations that plunged Europe once more into an inferno of warfare. It lasted until 1648, the peace of Westphalia, when it was found that on the whole the northern parts of Europe had become Protestant and the southern had remained Catholic.

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