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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 379



tion scarcely inferior to Cœur de Lion, departed with his retinue for Europe. Notwithstanding the peaceful termination of the expedi-tion, this crusade, the last of the chivalrous offspring of Feudalism and Enthusiasm, like its elder brethren, found a premature grave in darkness and gloom. The son of St. Louis, Philip the Hardy, returning from Tunis, deposited five coffins in the crypts of St. Denis. They contained the remains of his sainted father, Louis IX., of his brother Tristan, of his brother-in-law, Thibaut, descendant of Adela, of his beloved queen and their infant son. "Weak and dying himself, he was almost the only heir of his royal family. The ambitious Charles d'Anjou, the rival and the murderer of Corradino, grandson of Fred-eric and Yiolante, plundered the stranded vessels of the returning crusaders, and thus enriched his kingdom of Sicily, by the great shipwreck of the empire • and the. church. Death, too, had been busy in the palace of Windsor. The two beautiful children of Edward and Eleanora had. been laid in the tomb, and their grandfather, Henry III., with their aunt Margaret, Queen of Scotland, soon followed them to the great charnel-house of England, Westminster Abbey. The melancholy tidings of these repeated bereave-ments met the royal pair in Sicily, and cast a pall over the land to which they had anticipated a triumphant return. The great problem of the conquest of Palestine was not yet solved to the mind of Edward, but the progress of the age trammelled his powers and limited his ambitious aspira-tions. The orders of knighthood, exhausted by the repeated drafts made upon their forces, by these eastern expeditions, began to decline in the scale of power ; and the lower ranks, finding new avenues to wealth in productive labor and commerce, began the great battle with military organiza-tions and hereditary aristocracy, which has been going on with increased advantage to the working classes from the middle ages to the present glorious era. Gregory X. made some feeble attempts to rouse Europe ELEANORA. 395


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