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The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, [1887], at

Diffusion of Oriental Culture

The constant intercourse between Syria and Europe, maintained first by the flocks of pilgrims perpetually crowding to Jerusalem, then by the Crusades, and lastly by the establishment of the Frankish kingdom in Palestine, and of the different principalities upon the coast, produced vast effects, both apparent and concealed, upon the nations of Europe, more especially those seated upon the Mediterranean. Arabian influence brightly manifests itself in the poetry of the Troubadours, half-amatory, half-mystical like its model, of a spirit differing as widely from the materialism of classic elegiacs, as does the pointed "Saracenic"

p. 418

architecture, with all its forms suggested by the tentpole and curtain, from the massive Romanesque which it so rapidly displaced. Of poetry and architecture alike the germs had been carried into France by the causes already noticed, and kept in full vigour by the permanent establishment of the two great military orders having their headquarters in Jerusalem, but looking principally to France for recruits and resources. For the Crusades were eminently a French idée, and both leaders and soldiers in the most important of them, were either actual Frenchmen or princes holding territories in France--our Norman kings for example. How many arts, the most admired in those ages, are direct importations from Syria or Egypt! Glass-working in all its processes connected with the manufacture of ornamental and coloured vessels, and painted windows, enamelling, majolica, damascening on steel, the coinage of gold, the cultivation of the silkworm. The Italian language has preserved this history in the terms, purely Arabic, still designating things pertaining to all such processes, as zecca, tazza, cameo, mantece, rocca, gala, pataca, ricamare, &c. Italian Gothic, particularly its civil branch, as exemplified in the buildings of the great maritime cities on the Mediterranean (those on the Adriatic continued faithful to the Byzantine taste), such as Genoa, Pisa, Florence, is a mere transcript of Cairo and Rosetta; to the latest days of the style bearing no resemblance to the Gothic then flourishing beyond the Alps.

This diffusion of Oriental ideas over Europe has a very important bearing upon the present inquiry, for it explains the readiness with which Manicheism was embraced in France during the two centuries preceding the fall of the Templars. These very Templars are found during their residence in Palestine exhibiting a tolerant spirit, utterly inconsistent with the ostensible object of their institution; making alliances with any of the neighbouring Emirs able to assist them in holding their own against the common enemy, the Soldan of Egypt; amongst whom figures conspicuously that arch-Gnostic, the redoubtable "Old Man of the Mountain." *


418:* His practice of intoxicating the neophyte with hashish (extract of hemp) before admission into his terrestrial paradise, gave the sect the name, afterwards accepted by the Italians in its present opprobrious sense.

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