By Fr. J. H. Crehan, A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL EUROPE, by R. H. C. Davis ' (Longmans, 25s.).
TO bridge the gap between 313 and 1270 by a book of some 420 pages is quite an achievement. Mr. Davis has spared himself the labour of dully chronicling the complete list of royal births, marriages, and deaths by a careful use of tables and charts, and he can thus give most of his attention to the broad issues.
The new work that has come out of Cambridge in the recent past has been used to strengthen the outlines here given to the undergraduate audience for whom the book was first put together. and one can see that Er. David Knowles on monasticism, Dr. Ullmann on Church and State, Professor Runciman on Crusades. and the new " Economic History " have all been called upon.
Writing from the standpoint of a Quaker. Mr. Davis is able to take a somewhat distant view of the Roman primacy and its development. though he does not deal with the Eastern Schism in any detail. Perhaps he thought that Photius was too complicated a character to he made intelligible to his chosen audience.
There is one great omission in his work, which makes its perspective seem to lack one dimension at times. for there is no treatment of the Celtic influence on Europe. Benedict and Cassiodorus are given large places as the makers of a new civilisation, but Columbanus is not mentioned.
Luxeuil occurs three times in the text, each occasion giving us notice that the monastery was sacked by Viking or Saracen or Magyar. hut nothing is there to let the student know what the monastery stood for and why it recovered each time; Rabbis), St. Gall. and Reichenau are not mentioned at all; that an admirer (some 300 years after his death) should attribute to Columbanus and his influence the fact that the land of the Franks was " properly furnished with regular institutions ". or, as we should say, civilised. does not seem to matter.
One cannot but notice, too. that Mr. Davis puts upon Augustine a somewhat Quaker interpretation of the "Civitas Del," making out that Augustine was in favour of withdrawal from the world and a passive acceptance of whatever powers that might be, whereas Augustine himself in his great work makes it clear that he expects the civil power not to put hindrance to the service of God and that the Church is a regnant militiae. and not a secret society of non-resisters.
Even when Augustine wrote he could look back to the century-old example of a kingdom outside the Roman empire (Armenia) which had embraced Christianity and had remained Christian for forty years before it came under Roman influence. One cannot expect in Augustine a fully-developed theory of Church and State as complete societies, but he was not mesmerised either by a mirage that made them one or by a fleeting glimpse of a new heaven and a new earth.