4. CHAPTER IV
History proves this at every turn. Is the ferment of the peoples
of the west at the end of the eighteenth century and their drive
eastward explained by the activity of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI, their
mistresses and ministers, and by the lives of Napoleon, Rousseau,
Diderot, Beaumarchais, and others?
Is the movement of the Russian people eastward to Kazan and
Siberia expressed by details of the morbid character of Ivan the
Terrible and by his correspondence with Kurbski?
Is the movement of the peoples at the time of the Crusades explained
by the life and activity of the Godfreys and the Louis-es and their
ladies? For us that movement of the peoples from west to east, without
leaders, with a crowd of vagrants, and with Peter the Hermit,
remains incomprehensible. And yet more incomprehensible is the
cessation of that movement when a rational and sacred aim for the
Crusade- the deliverance of Jerusalem- had been clearly defined by
historic leaders. Popes, kings, and knights incited the peoples to
free the Holy Land; but the people did not go, for the unknown cause
which had previously impelled them to go no longer existed. The
history of the Godfreys and the Minnesingers can evidently not cover
the life of the peoples. And the history of the Godfreys and the
Minnesingers has remained the history of Godfreys and Minnesingers,
but the history of the life of the peoples and their impulses has
Still less does the history of authors and reformers explain to us
the life of the peoples.
The history of culture explains to us the impulses and conditions of
life and thought of a writer or a reformer. We learn that Luther had a
hot temper and said such and such things; we learn that Rousseau was
suspicious and wrote such and such books; but we do not learn why
after the Reformation the peoples massacred one another, nor why
during the French Revolution they guillotined one another.
If we unite both these kinds of history, as is done by the newest
historians, we shall have the history of monarchs and writers, but not
the history of the life of the peoples.