a history of hungarian literature

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: Ill THE MIDDLE AGES It was in the tenth century that the Hungarians came from Asia, founded their state, and embraced Christianity, and were thus brought into contact with the Europe of the Middle Ages, and shared in its civilisation. Some features of that civilisation were common to every country. All the nations of Christendom possessed the two fundamental institutions of the Church and Chivalry. And community of religion in those days, when religion was the chief source of light for men, meant vastly more than it does now. The mass, the liturgy, and the majority of the legends were the same everywhere. Two stars shone in the sky during the long night of the Middle Ages : religion and the spirit of chivalry. The relics of Hungarian literature which have come down to us from that epoch reveal the influence of only one of those two great luminaries—religion. All the works inspired by the genius of chivalry have been lost. There is a whole library of legends in prose, laboriously inscribed on parchment and decorated with initials by pious monks and nuns ; but they all breathe a spirit of fervent piety, and are not concerned with chivalry. The first brilliant figure of the later Renaissance was King Matthias Hunyadi, whose great name evoked the slumbering forces of the national poetic genius. The religious spirit was undoubtedly the most prolific source of literature during the Middle Ages. Religion played a very large part in the life of the people. All that was noblest in them was derived from it; whatever knowledge they had was connected with it, indeed without it their minds would have been almost blank. Chivalry was for the few, but religion was the only luminary on the mental horizon of the multitude, and but for it they would have been almost in darkness. It is no...
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