Universals, the European
The prime characteristic of feudalism, the form of society left behind by the Barbarian Invasions of the Dark Ages, was its localism, or atomism. There was a castle here, a fortress there, an abbey, a manor, an independent town, a port, each like a small island, and often in a quarrel with some other small unit near it, with only a few tenuous filaments of language and geography to hold them together in the absence of a national government, highways, schools, or commerce. The story of how these " islands of feudalism " were melted down first into nations, and then into a comity of nations, is the grand theme of European history. The method of that history is to begin with one or two of what the historians call "the universals, " which even in feudalism began to come into being; then to show how one after another followed; and finally how the set of universals triumphed over the old separatisms and dreadful feudal isolationism Freemasons can take a lively and even proud interest in this growing list of "universals" because the discoverers of their art and the founders of their fraternity are listed among them; and listed not by Masonic historians only, but by general historians who wrote not with Masons in mind, but for the general public.
Among those universals were: the Carlovingian Empire and its successors; the Medieval Church, with its customs everywhere the same; the use of Latin; universities; architecture, builder gilds, and especially the Free masons who carried the Gothic from Ireland to the Danube, and from Denmark to North Africa; the Orders of Chivalry; the Monastic Orders; the Renaissance; and, at the last, the printing press.
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