beginning our survey from the Atlantic we find Ireland now to all intents and purposes an English possession, a turbulent and not very profitable one, it is true. The military skill and diplomacy of Edward I. had created a nominal unity in Britain. In France a series of able kings had consolidated the power of the throne. A long struggle with England had ended in victory, but the vassalage of Englishmen for French possessions remained a potential source of trouble, and the English king was still a feudatory of the French. The patrimony of the king had been extended and the King of France was a more powerful person by virtue of his actual political and military strength than Hugh Capet was by virtue of his personality. But it continued possible for the great noble to be to all intents and purposes independent.
The Counts of Toulouse embraced the Albigensian heresy, which among other things denied the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Christ, and against its upholders Innocent III, sworn foe of infidel and heretic, launched a crusade. It was ruthlessly carried on on the soil of France, in theory the possession of the French king, by a band of crusaders specially raised for the purpose, of whom the father of England's Simon de Montfort was chief; these crusaders broke the power of the Tolosan counts and defeated their Spanish allies, to the great profit of the French crown. The heart of France was already consolidated and the hour of expansion when France could advance eastward was about to strike. It was only the subsequent war with England which delayed its striking till so long after. Along the Rhine there were still feudal principalities as there were also in the Low Countries, where the trading classes were beginning to revolt against exploitation by the feudal prince. :
In Spain there were more serious changes on the map, for here the war against the Moslem intruder was carried on from generation to generation almost as an incident apart from Europe; a war which is the background of the tales of the Cid and the training ground of Spanish chivalry. By the eleventh century the Moors had been pressed so far southward that Christian kingdoms had been consolidated in Leon, Aragon, Castile, and Navarre. Now united, two or more under one ruler, now in isolation, they advanced slowly but inevitably. Toledo was taken in 1085; Saragossa in 1118. A French adventurer wrested part of the south-west from the Moor and founded there a principality of which his successors made the Kingdom of Portugal and which, developing on its own lines, broke the unity of the peninsula. A dynastic change in Moslem Spain gave the enemy strong rulers, and to meet the menace of a great reaction the Kings of Aragon, Castile, and Navarre united their forces and won the epic victory of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. The effect was immediate. Cordova fell to the Castilians in 1236 and Seville twelve years later. The Moors were driven to their last stronghold in Granada, where they were able to maintain themselves against a divided Spain.