Isaiah 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
There are many lists of rulers at this website. This page organizes the lists of the philosophy of history index more systematically. There are a couple of reasons why these lists, and the accompanying genealogies and maps, have been compiled. One motivation is that history is often not taught anymore in terms of dynasties and rulers, since this is thought (by an academic elite comfortably supported by the taxpayers, while contemptuous of them) to be too elitist and too removed from the life of the people.
However, a body without bones would be a shapeless sack of flesh (or a Cephalopod). History without the skeletal framework of events centering around rulers is reduced to something similar. A framework for history of rulers, with maps and genealogies, provides a perspective of time and space, and of real individuals whom we know about, that is otherwise hard to obtain -- or at least it was when all I had recourse to were history books that were often innocent of lists, maps (let alone good maps), or genealogies (which, when given, were often poorly proofed or formated). In the last years before the Internet exploded with historical information, some of the earliest historical material at this site, beginning with the Counts of Flanders, I was rooting out from the Firestone Library at Princeton University. Even there, the sources provided fragmentary and frustrating data.
It is one thing to know that it has been a long time from Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth II. It is another thing to know that one can count forty generations from one to the other, through Baldwin Iron Arm of Flanders, William the Conqueror, the Tudors, the Stuarts, etc., all of whom were living and acting, often vibrant, people -- with almost all of them now dead, mostly long dead. At a time when many college students reportedly don't know which half of the 19th Century the American Civil War took place in, a sense of time and distance uncovers an awesome perspective. And when we don't know about most individuals in the past, intimate knowledge of any is priceless. A Charlemagne who never could quite write his name, while Constantinopolitan courtiers were quoting the Iliad, reveals something about the times that nothing else could -- especially when, in this specific case, many historians seem to be ignorant of the level of culture in Mediaeval Constantinople.
Another motivation, or inspiration, for all this, however, came from James Bryce's classic The Holy Roman Empire . Bryce was intrigued by the notion of universal authority and rule that was inherited from Rome by the mediaeval emperors, who usually had nothing like an actual authority or rule approaching the universality that the Romans had really enjoyed. Bryce, indeed, did not venerate the absolutism of imperial rule -- he was actually a British admirer of America -- but the ideology of universal authority was a consequence of the growing notion of common humanity. Thus, Romans who cared to think about the meaning of their situation, like the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, saw themselves embodying the Stoic moral ideal of the cosmopolis ("world state/city"), where citizenship is humanity and there is no difference between Greek (or Roman) and Barbarian. When Rome became Christian, the principle that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), as the Prophet Isaiah had once seen all mankind coming to Jerusalem, reinforced the principle of common humanity.
However, the promise of universal humanity was certainly not fulfilled in those days. The Romans really did not see the barbarians as quite equal to Rome (actually, they weren't), and it was a long time before Christians got the notion that common humanity should translate into political equality for, indeed, Jews, or slaves, or women. But the logic of these principles ate its way slowly into Western consciousness, until the concept of common humanity became the basis of the abolition of feudal privilege, the abolition of established religion, the abolition of slavery, and women's sufferage. The dynamic of contemporary politics still centers around the question of whether common humanity entails equality before the law, or the social engineering of equalized material conditions of life ("distributive" or "social" justice -- notions that F.A. Hayek saw as contrary to justice itself). The question is now asked if common "humanity" even morally extends to non-humans -- even as the question was already settled by Kant that morality covers all rational beings, although Kant had not seriously conceived of either ET or AI.
Bryce takes the mediaeval Empire, of Franks and Germans, as the object most worthy of his notice and effectively neglects the fact that the Roman Empire itself did not disappear but continued at Constantinople. As discussed at length in the essay "Decadence, Rome and Romania, the Emperors Who Weren't, and Other Reflections on Roman History," this bias against the (orignally) Eastern Empire seriously distorts our understanding of history in the Middle Ages. The Crusades even represented an attempt of the Frankish West to reclaim all Romania, first at the outlying but religiously significant Jerusalem, but then in Constantinople itself. This relatively brief episode then helped prepare the way for the Turkish conquest of the area, by which the universalism of Islâm fulfilled the long ambition, conceived by the first Caliphs, to seize and absorb the universality of Rûm, , itself.
The arrangement of these lists thus follows Bryce's principle of universalist ideology, centering on Rome but extending to similar to ideas outside of the Roman world. The table below and right, which links to the main list below, lays out the largest categories. Islâm of course formlated its own independent sense of universality, based on the heritage of Judaism, Persia, Rome, and Christianity, as Christian Ethiopia had done earlier. Far away from the mediterranean world, Confucian ideals of common humanity similarly produced the universalist ideology of classical China, where China, represented the world, or at least the universality authority of the Emperors, encompased everything , i.e. "under Heaven." India, though with more of a patchwork tradition, overlapping Islâm, also evidenced universal claims, with a special word for a universal monarch, the cakravartin, . Around China, the countries in China's cultural sphere of influence, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia, tended to reproduce China's own universal pretentions, rather than see themselves subordinate to Chinese universality. The original title of the Chinese Emperor was , "August Emperor," while the Japanese use a slightly different version, , "Heavenly Emperor."
A similar phenomenon occurred in Europe. The Frankish and German Emperors thought of themselves as the "true" Roman Emperors, with the blessing of the Popes in Rome itself. The Roman/Romanian Emperors in Constantinople only grudgingly acknowledged the Germans as Western colleagues, and their sense of being the true heirs of Rome was then passed on, in Christendom, to the Russian Tsars, and, in Islâm, to the Ottomans who conquered Constantinople and reestablished their own version of Romania -- Rûm and Rumelia, the Asiatic and European sides of the Empire.
In Western Europe, Latinate and Catholic, a different dynamic occurred. Although the kingdom of the Franks, sanctified by the Pope, became the repository of Imperial pretentions, a kind of sibling rivalry arose between the Western Franks (the future France) and the Eastern Franks (the future Germany). Although Germany became the permanent Mediaeval "Empire," France never did acknowledge that the French King was actually subordinate to the German Emperor. Then, flush with de facto imperial power, Napoleon took back, Pope and all, the Imperial Crown, and made his son, like the Mediaeval Emperors, King of Rome. The fall of the German Empire, however, still left a line of Emperors: The Austrian Hapsburgs, having been Emperors for so long, figured that they had the right to continue in that dignity, so they did. Wilhelmine Germany, fresh from the defeat of Napoleon III, also claimed Imperial status as the continuation of what had been, de facto, a German Mediaeval Empire. This personalization and nationalization of "universal" rule then inspired the odd British variation: Queen Victoria assumed an Imperial title by virtue of possessing India, though certainly no Englishman took seriously an iota of indigenous Indian, Islâmic or pre-Islâmic, universalist ideology.
During the Middle Ages, there grew around the kingdoms of the Franks an aureola of kingdoms which could not claim, or at least maintain, as Roman Catholics, an Imperial dignity without the authorization of the Pope. The "Empire" of Spain was thus a very brief conceit. Consequently, in recognizing kingship alone among the Scandinavian, British, Spanish, Eastern European, and Southern Italian states, the Popes maintained the potential universal pretentions of the Frankish/German Imperial throne. This may not have been for the best, as first the French and then the Germans easily interpreted their own militant new modern ideologies as authorization to conquer Europe. Bryce did not live to see how ugly and murderous these pretentions would become in Fascist Germany, where the nationalization of "universality" became a principle, not just of universal human inequality, but of enslavement and genocide. This illuminated most starkly the difference between a claim of authority over all, by virtue of a universal state, and a claim by all to authority over themselves, by virtue of a universal, but individualized, human nature. The latter was more the idea in the United States, where the Roman Republic was venerated rather more than the Roman Empire.
The part of Modern (i.e. post-1453) Christian Europe with an equal claim to Roman pretentions as Francia was Russia. The princes of Moscow saw their city as the "Third Rome," following directly after Constantinople, the "New Rome," fell to the Turks and to Islâm. After Ivan III married a princess of the Palaeologi Dynasty and Ivan IV, the Terrible, conquered most of the remaining Mongol Khântes, the ruler of Russia was the Tsar (Caesar) and Autocrat (from Greek Autokratos, used for the Latin Imperator) of "All the Russias." This made the Tsar the special protector of all the Orthodox Churches, since the Russian Church itself owed its existence to Constantinople and nothing to the Pope in Rome. For a long time there were only two Emperors in Europe, first the Holy Roman Emperor and the Tsar, later, from 1815 to 1852, the Austrian Emperor and the Tsar. This had consequences in the 19th Century, when the Russians, for strategic as well as ideological and religious reasons, waged several wars against the Ottoman Empire, with the ultimate objective of securing Constantinople and the Straits. This was resisted by the powers in Francia: Britain, France, and Austria combined in the Crimean War to defeat Russia. This turned out to be a bad idea when World War I came around, since the Straits were then controlled by Turkey as an ally of Germany, and Russia was largely cut off from aid from its own allies, Britain and France. Largely because of Russia's terrible experience in that war, the Russian Revolution replaced the Tsar and his Christian ideology with Lenin and the even more ambitious universalist pretentions of Communism. Although owing nothing to Tsarist ideology, Communism provided a much more precise and unique justification for conquest and police state tyranny than Orthodoxy ever did. From 1945 to 1989, much of Eastern Francia and Balkan Romania was within the political and cultural sphere of Soviet Russia. The Fall of Communism reversed that. Indeed, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (Bohemia) have obtained membership in the essentially Western military alliance of NATO, with Lithuania and others seeking membership also. At the same time, it must be considered that Roman Catholic areas of Belorussia (White Russia or Belarus) and the Ukraine, which had been conquered and proselytized by Lithuania in the Middle Ages (and so for a long time religiously part of Francia), have been permanently returned to Russia.
quarum unam Romaniam, aliam Franciam, tertiam Russiam.
|Europa||1. Romania||2. Constantinople||Greek|
|2. Francia||1. Rome||Latin|
|3. Russia||3. Moscow||Old Church|
"Europe" is now a concept with special significance as NATO and the European Union expand to encompass formerly Communist states in Eastern Europe. So far, these have mainly been states of Mediaeval Francia, like Poland, Hungary, and the Baltics. It is conceivable, however, that one or the other organization could end up including the Ukraine, or even Russia itself, and states of Mediaeval Romania, like Serbia, Bulgaria, and the modern state of România. Greece and Turkey are already members of NATO. Turkey's application to the European Union has been postponed because of its human rights record and, apparently, fears of unlimited Turkish/Muslim immigration. It will certainly be an extraordinary event if Turkey, the Islâmic successor of the Emperors of Constantinople, itself is formally admitted to the new super-Europe. Eastern Europe is still struggling with the cultural and legal aftereffects of Communism. The states from Mediaeval Romania, among the poorest in Europe, struggle, not just with the heritage of Communism, but with the cultural and political puzzles of their own underdevelopment. Thus, Greece, although coming up on two centuries of independence, never Communist, and wealthier than most neighboring states, nevertheless has some Middle Eastern overtones to its politics, with socialist, paranoid, and even terrorist tendencies. Unfortunately, socialist tendencies are reinforced by the very leaders of the European Union, France, Germany, and Belgium -- where the socialist fruit of poor growth and high unemployment are all too evident. A Europe free of Communism thus still hears the Siren Song of pseudo-community, pseudo-compassion, and pseudo-rationality that tempted people towards Communism in the first place.
While "universality" here centers on Rome, and on comparable pretentions in Islâm, China, etc., this site also now has much material on earlier Middle Eastern and Mediterranean civilization. This is all collapsed in the table above into the category of "Pre-Roman Rulers," but it is, of course, a vast subject, beginning with Egypt and Sumer and continuing right up to the kingdoms of the Hellenistic age. The earliest states of the Middle East did not so much have universalist pretentions as they did think of themselves as uniquely real, civilized, and human, as opposed to the chaos of barbarians outside. Ultimately recognizing the numbers and sophistication of the foreigners suggested, as it did until the 20th century in China, that they should be happy and willing to be ruled by "us," just because of our own virtue. When someone developed a real advantage, as did the Assyrians, then the Persians, then the Greeks, and then the Romans (not to mention later Islâmic and European conquerors), pretention could become increasingly factual. The humanity of the ideal depended on the extent to which "us" and "them" merged into the same identity -- a process that hardly occurred at all with the Assyrians but came closer and closer to the truth in the later empires. That the ideal should be equality before the law and voluntary association, and not some specific matter of culture, religion, or ideology, came much later and is still, indeed, a matter of dispute, even in the democracies, where "communitarianism" survives from more authoritarian, collectivist, and even tribal visions.
Treatments of different domains and periods are scattered between different files. The systematic treatment is as follows in the list below, but the list in the box at right simply gives the actual internet files in which basic historical material, with lists and genealogies, is contained. Other files, back at philhist.com, contain more general and interpretative historical treatments. It is possible to begin with the first file at right, oldking.htm, and by following the links, cover all subsequent history.
Philosophy of History